pt. 18 Learning and Dinner with Eunomos
Learning with Raina

1:30 PM] zuark: So Marcie's alone in her new room. She feels pretty good here. Even if it is NEW and STRANGE.
[1:30 PM] maquila: It is new and strange! But at least this new room is HERS and so it is safe. She stays in there and eats ramen. She tries to see if there's an internet connection. She lingers in there for an hour or two until it feels more like home.
[1:32 PM] zuark: There is indeed an internet connection.
[1:32 PM] maquila: What is its name…
[1:34 PM] zuark: It's called "absit iniuria"
[1:36 PM] maquila: I open google translate. Absit Iniuria is …Far Injury in Latin. Whatever that means. I don't know. I'll – worry about that soon. No Injury? Perhaps. I make sure I'm connected then, and then finally, resolutely, shuffle out of my room, and descend one flight of stairs.
[1:37 PM] zuark: The sitting area is empty, the fireplace quietly burning away.
[1:40 PM] maquila: Okay. I move to get a book – or at least explore it.
[1:42 PM] zuark: The library is full of strange books  in genres Marcie's never heard before. The shelves seem to be organized by something called the "Arcana," with sections devoted to…well, you know.
[1:44 PM] maquila: Arcana. What's that. I stare around for a moment, and then shuffle sideways. I only really know Phil. I stare around for a moment, and then shuffle back into the room with the books. I stare around until I spot TIME. OH! TIMECUBE. I move there and carefully pick up a book, and move to sit down and open it.
[1:46 PM] zuark: Roll Int + Academics.
[1:46 PM] maquila: Int 3 + Academics 2 =5
[1:46 PM] maquila: Failure :)
[1:48 PM] zuark: She picks up a book called "Temporal Sympathy as It Concerns the Affectation of Potentiate Timelines."  Pretty much nothing in this book makes a word of sense to Marcie.
[1:49 PM] maquila: Potentiate Timelines means potential timelines. Temporal Sympathy I don't understand. Affectation means changing them? I try to struggle through it, and then slowly put it down. Okay. I understand nothing.
[1:50 PM] zuark: You can roll Int + Aca 1 to try another book.
[1:51 PM] maquila: 4 dice…
[1:51 PM] maquila: 3s. Marcie grabs something more her speed…
[1:52 PM] zuark: She finds a book called "Fundamentals of Time Magic."
[1:53 PM] maquila: OH! BEGINNERS GUIDE TO TIME MAGIC. I settle in then close to the fire – fidget, shift my seat around so my back is relatively protected, and then curl up to read it. I don't know if I'm allowed to take this out of the room…
[1:54 PM] zuark: There are places to sit inside the library, if she doesn't want to leave the room with it.
[1:55 PM] maquila: Yeah, I will sit inside the room.
[1:55 PM] zuark: All right.
[1:57 PM] zuark: Opening up the book, Marcie is treated to what is indeed sort of a beginner's guide to Time Magic. It's written in an accessible style, and in plain English, which is nice. The author is apparently someone called "Raina."  It begins with a discussion of what Time Magic actually is
-simply put, the manipulation of time by calling down the power of the Supernal Realms to alter one aspect of reality. Time Magic is capable of seeing into the future or the past, speeding up and slowing down time, and even, at the highest levels, traveling through time, to one's personal past or future, to change things!
[1:58 PM] zuark: Chapter 1 is called, Looking Through Arcadia's Eyes.
[1:58 PM] maquila: Oh! So that's obviously what Chromium did, that last bit. Seeing into the future or the past. Speeding up and slowing down time.  I like how this Raina writes, it's much easier to understand if you know the basics. I draw my legs up and stick my nose then. I flip to Chapter 1.
[2:00 PM] zuark: The chapter begins with a description of the Supernal Realm of Arcadia—the Abode of Fae, the land of the Watchtower of the Lunargent Thorn. Descriptions of Arcadia vary, but many themes are the same: a Watchtower covered in thorns. Idyllic, beautiful landscapes. The twisting of time. The assignment of destinies and prophecies. Visions of the distant future, or of ancient realms long lost to the world.
[2:01 PM] maquila: Oh. That's where I was! That all describes where I was. I draw in a deep breath then, my eyes widening. I smile a little bit and sink further down. Yes. That was where I was.
[2:04 PM] zuark: The chapter then goes on to describe what the Awakening is: it's the forging of a bond between the Supernal Realm and the newly-Awakened Mage, using a deep emotional connection to the Watchtower as a conduit. The Sleeper goes on a soul-searching journey through Arcadia, marks the Tower in some fashion, and comes out of the whole process a Mage. But what now? the author asks. How does one actually use this new power?
[2:05 PM] maquila: I would like to know that myself! And I made my mark on Time – because I chose the time that the Lantern told me to. And I took the Lattice inside my soul. But yes – how does one actually do it? I don't know how to cast spells…
[2:08 PM] zuark: The chapter goes on to say, first, before you can learn to cast spells, you need to know what magic looks and feels like. Look around you. Look harder. Every Mage has an innate ability to see the Supernal Realms right here in the Fallen World. Like snapping a different lens on to a microscope, the Mage can 'zoom in' on the Supernal to see patterns of magic as they come into being, or as they linger after being cast. This ability is called Mage Sight—and looking through the Path of the Acanthus, the Mage will be attuned to the Arcana of Fate and Time. She'll be able to see distortions that others are working on time, or forces that pull on the threads of destiny—travelers from the future and those destined for great deeds will stand out immediately to such a will-worker.
[2:09 PM] maquila: Oh!! Like what I saw of Chromium yesterday! I pause a bit in the middle of reading and look around slowly. Look around you. Look harder.
[2:12 PM] zuark: Looking around her, she sees some weird warbly distortions along the walls—but they're fuzzy and strange to look at, like the fuzzy bits that were clinging to Uncle Colt before. But these fuzzies coat the perimeter of the room completely, surrounding it in a sheath.
[2:13 PM] maquila: Oh. I squint at them for a moment. I don't een know what those are, really. I squint harder at the fuzzies for a long moment. The time distortions were really obvious – they were fuzzy and I could see from the sink by looking at it. I look back to the book then.
[2:14 PM] zuark: The book goes on to inform her that, while she's looking through Fate and Time, she'll be able to see any spells that use those Arcana clearly—but that spells which rely mainly on other Arcana, powered by other Supernal Realms, will be hazy and indistinct. She'll be able to see that these spells exist, but will not be able to glean any meaningful insight into what those spells actually do. She'll only know that they're spells not powered by her Path. The author mentions briefly all the other Arcana, and invites the reader to study these independently, as it's beyond the scope of this book to continue in that vein.
[2:15 PM] maquila: Oh. That would be the fuzzies then – the other arcana. So the arcana must be all the viable options.
[2:15 PM] zuark: She also learns that, when a spell is active and still working, she'll be able to see those spells and identify them easily if they fall under the purview of Fate and Time. However, the book also tells her that looking even more closely—magnifying even more—she'll be able to see the residue left behind by old and expired spells, and it is this ability which allows a Mage to investigate a scene and know what happened, even if the spells themselves are long gone.
[2:16 PM] zuark: These little puzzles are known affectionately among Mages as "Mysteries." The author invites the reader to remember this.(edited)
[2:16 PM] maquila: Ohhh. So look at something that is long gone – and you can see the residue of old and expired spells. Hmm. I wonder if I can see stuff at, for instance, the house, or where Mr. White was. Mysteries. Affectionately among Mages – solving them are Mysteries.
[2:17 PM] zuark: Lucky for you, dear reader, Time magic is particularly well suited to solving Mysteries, thanks to the very handy ability called Postcognition! Read more in Chapter 2.
[2:17 PM] maquila: POST COGNITION! I go to Chapter 2….
[2:18 PM] zuark: So you want to cast a spell, do you? Well, the very best spell to start with, according to Raina, is Postcognition. This is a basic spell that any Initiate of Time should be able to learn in short order. Postcognition is the ability to look back into the past—anything from just a few minutes ago to a very long time ago indeed.
[2:19 PM] maquila: Oh. So I could see a few minutes ago or a long time ago. And it's an easy spell….
[2:20 PM] zuark: Before you can use Postcognition, dear Reader, the first thing you need to grasp is the concept of Temporal Sympathy. Sympathy is, put simply, one's emotional or intellectual connection to a certain person, place, or thing. Temporal Sympathy is the "closeness" of the user to the phenomenon at the point in time the caster is interested in. In other words, the you that exists right now is very close indeed to the you from just one minute ago—if you've been reading this book, you've probably been sitting in the same spot, and not very much has changed about you or about your life since you started reading this sentence. Looking back to the past from a minute ago is therefore very easy, because you're very sympathetically close to that time.
[2:21 PM] zuark: But what if you were to look at your current location from 1,000 years ago? Think of how much has changed about the spot where you're sitting or standing in the past thousand years. Quite a lot! This would be a very distant sympathetic connection, and so it would be very challenging to look back that far. Such endeavors are best left to more experienced Mages.
[2:22 PM] maquila: Oh. That makes sense. I haven't moved – I have shifted slightly to sink more down in the chair, but I haven't really gotten up or gone anywhere, and the only thing I did was try to look around… Oh! Well, that makes sense. I bet Chromium could do that.  So looking further back is hard. Hm. Emotional or intellectual connection. But what does that mean for very important moments, I wonder.
[2:23 PM] zuark: So, the author writes, the first thing you need to consider when you're looking to use Postcognition is how different things are in the present to how things were in the time that you are going to look. Are they about the same? If so, the Postcognition should be easy. Are they quite different? If so, it will be challenging.
[2:24 PM] maquila: Okay. So if I were looking just a few minutes ago, before I shifted, it would be easy…
[2:28 PM] zuark: After flipping the page, the author invites the reader to try casting Postcognition on this book—to see the book as it was when it was open to the previous page, without actually turning the page. To do this, Raina writes, you must of course concentrate very hard, but more importantly, you need a little symbolic help in order to form the Imago of the spell in your head. (For more about the Imago, Raina recommends another book entitled, "The Basics of Imago and Yantra," written by an A. Munchausen.) Raina invites the reader to focus on the book itself—to use the book as a symbol of the spell itself in your mind, to affirm that it is the object one desires to see. Holding the actual item that one wishes to see the past of is a powerful tool, and will aid in the spell greatly. In addition to this, Raina says, the reader is invited to use their own Path or Order tool. (Raina does not elaborate here on what exactly "Path or Order tool" means.)
[2:29 PM] zuark: Employing the book itself as a Yantra, and your Path or Order Tool as another Yantra, try to form an Imago: think of how the book looked just a few moments in the past, before you flipped the page. Remember what some of the words were. Remember how the page felt in your hand. Focus, and call down the Supernal.
[2:29 PM] zuark: Roll 4 dice.
[2:30 PM] maquila: I don't know what a Path or Order tool is but I can use the book. But okay. Okay. I hold the book in my hand then. I study it for a long moment. I focus on it, drawing in a long slow breath and letting it out. Okay, words – The first thing you need to grasp i the concept of Temporal Sympathy… I study the book, and imagine it there, and focus as hard as I can.
[2:30 PM] maquila: 1s!!!
[2:32 PM] zuark: Squinting hard, Marcie feels her senses dilate—all things vanish from her sight except for the book. She loses all awareness of anything else happening in the library, but she can see the book clear as day—and she can see it flipped to the previous page. "Before you can use Postcognition, dear Reader…"  She studies it intensely for a moment before she juuuust starts to feel the crinkle of the paper loudly in hear ear as the page begins to turn—and then she loses focus and returns to her normal senses.
[2:33 PM] maquila: I blink a few times. I did it! I look around for a moment and then – that was a spell that was just cast, right? I try to microscope on it, and see the spell I just cast.
[2:36 PM] zuark: If she focuses quite hard, she can see a lingering energy upon the book now that wasn't there before. All along the book's surface she sees little floating numbers, and touching the book's pages makes her feel suddenly quite nostalgic. She has a brief flash in her mind of a memory, when her parents took her to a library for the very first time. She remembers the vivid laminated feel of the library card in her hand. The name MARCELLA KINGSCOTE printed across it underneath the little stick-figure seal of a person sitting on a chair in a thinking pose. The sight and feel of it fills her with a deep longing for just a moment, and she knows that this feeling, this vibe, is her own—like smelling one's own breath, or feeling one's own fingers.
[2:38 PM] maquila: Oh, that's – me.  That feeling is me. If someone else were to look at this book, they'd – see that themselves, and feel that longing too. I draw in a deep breath and sink down lower, swiping a little bit at my eyes, before quietly blinking back to the page and Raina's writing.
[2:39 PM] zuark: If you've successfully used Postcognition, congratulations! You've just taken your first major step on the road to mastering the Arcanum of Time. In Chapter 3, we'll build on what we've learned by studying Divination—the art of looking into the future.
[2:40 PM] maquila: Oh!! I've taken my first step! That's neat. I sink down lower in my chair and flip to Chapter 3, before pausing, and sitting up and peeking around to see if I hear any movement in the house.
[2:42 PM] zuark: The house is quiet right now.
[2:42 PM] maquila: I look back to my book then and slowly turn the page to Chapter 3.
[2:44 PM] zuark: The first page of Chapter 3 has in front of it in big bold letters: DON'T FLIP TO THE NEXT PAGE UNTIL YOU'VE COMPLETED THE INSTRUCTIONS ON THIS PAGE!
[2:44 PM] maquila: Oh. I freeze then, staring at Chapter 3 and look down the list of instructions.
[2:47 PM] zuark: The chapter proceeds normally for the next page, left and right side.  Raina explains that, just like Postcogition, Divination is the ability to look at a different point in time than where you are. The only difference is that you're looking forward, not backward. Now the problem is not so much Temporal Sympathy (although that may still apply, if you're looking forward to something quite different), but rather one of specificity. It's rather simple to see the future in terms of generalities. On the following page, there is one of two images: it is either a check-mark, or an X. Using the book and your Path or Order Tool as Yantras, Raina invites you to attempt to see which one it is. DO NOT GUESS! Flip the page to confirm you're right only after you have ALREADY SEEN IT in your mind's eye. Turn the page only when you KNOW.
[2:48 PM] zuark: Roll 5 dice for this.
[2:49 PM] maquila: Okay. When I know. I focus then, concentrating hard. I hold the book – the book is a yantra. I don't know what Path or OrderTools are. But I have the book, and I have…myself and this, and the future. What is on the next page… 1s
[2:50 PM] zuark: Her perception filters away, and Marcie sees only the book again. Only this time, it's open to a page which is blank except for a large checkmark that is painted thickly in red ink across the right hand side.
[2:50 PM] maquila: A large red checkmark!
[2:51 PM] maquila: I blink a few times until my senses come back. Do not guess. I've seen it. I draw in a deep breath and slowly turn the page, peeking beyond it.
[2:51 PM] zuark: The page is exactly what Marcie saw in her vision!
[2:51 PM] zuark: Except there's a sentence near the bottom of the page that she didn't see. It reads: "Congratulations! But you didn't see this sentence, did you?"
[2:52 PM] maquila: Oh, I did it!! I pause and look at that. Oh. No, I didn't see the sentence…
[2:53 PM] zuark: On the following page, Raina explains that a basic divination can see general things, like whether a coin will come up heads or tails, or whether John will marry Jane. But in order to see something more precise than that—what year is printed on the coin? how many children will John and Jane have, and what will be their names?—you must do a little more. You will need to Reach.
[2:54 PM] maquila: Reach? What's Reach? I furrow my brow at that.
[3:02 PM] zuark: Reach is simply put a Mage's ability to stretch what is possible with his spells. To take a spell and make it more than it is. Like the name implies, it's like the magic equivalent of standing on tiptoes. To see a more specific future you will need to Reach. But—important!—You need to know your limits. Reaching beyond your capabilities is ill advised because it invites Paradox (for more on Paradox Raina recommends T. Schuster's "Abyssal Studies"). Only Reach if you feel you can do so without straining too hard. Only push as far as is comfortable. If you feel like a specific Divination is beyond your reach (ahem) right now, put this book down and return to it later, after you've had some practice!(edited)
[3:05 PM] maquila: To push your spell and stretch it. But Paradox can be invited if you do it too hard. I don't know what Paradox is (and I don't know where to look for "Abyssal Studies") but I can guess it's probably like stretching and breaking a muscle I bet. Okay. Got it!
[3:08 PM] zuark: If you're still reading, reader, your bravery is to be applauded. But I hope you know what you're doing! Here is the challenge. What is the 5th word of the 2nd sentence on the third to last page of this book? What is the 2nd word of the 1st sentence on the second to last page? Try to answer BOTH of these questions with ONE Divination—and then you'll know you're a real Diviner!
[3:09 PM] zuark: (Also, you'll know that you are destined to read this book all the way to the end—or at least peek! Got you!)
[3:09 PM] maquila: I fidget a little bit and smile a little bit. Raina reminds me of my Dad in how she writes. The smile fades after a bit. 5th word of the second sentence on the third to last page, and the second word of the 1st sentence on the second to last page. Okay. Can I do that? If it feels like it's a hard strain, I shouldn't do it.
[3:10 PM] zuark: With a deep breath, Marcie thinks she can do it.
[3:10 PM] maquila: Okay. Okay. So. Focus. I concentrate on the book then.
[3:10 PM] zuark: The roll is 3 dice for this one.
[3:11 PM] maquila: 1s
[3:11 PM] zuark: Marcie sees the book, zoomed-up close to precise the sentences in question. The first answer is "however."  The second answer is "order."
[3:12 PM] maquila: However. Order. I blink a few times. Okay. Is the answer on the pages, or should I skip ahead to see?! I study the book – flipping back to where I was.
[3:13 PM] zuark: Flipping ahead to check?
[3:13 PM] maquila: Yup!
[3:13 PM] zuark: She confirms that she is in fact right.
[3:14 PM] maquila: I'm right!!! I look back to the page I was in the book.
[3:20 PM] zuark: After this, the final chapter of the book concerns some closing words about the nature of Time magic—the author seems interested more in giving a preview of what is to come in future studies than in actually teaching the reader anything further. Raina explains what to expect in particular when it comes to travel through time: she carefully explains that if you travel into your own past (and you can only travel into your own personal past—it's beyond the scope of any known Mage to reach beyond their own lifespan), for as long as the spell is in effect, you'll be able to make changes. When the spell ends, or when the caster "catches up" to the present time when they cast the spell, the changes that were made to the past are then locked into place and sealed, becoming permanent. Until that happens, however, the changes can be canceled by canceling, dispelling, or interrupting the spell. Additionally, an Apprentice of Time Magic has the ability to shield himself and others from these changes—to ward against them so that time travelers may not be able to change their personal timelines. The intricacies of time travel are beyond the scope of this introductory volume, but Raina hopes that she's given the reader a taste and an appetite for future learning.
[3:22 PM] maquila: This is neat! I can't wait to learn more about this. I shift a little bit, lifting the book up. I think this is my favorite book I have ever read. I fidget with it a little bit and look it over then.  She did achieve giving me a taste, that is for sure.(edited)
[3:22 PM] zuark: In the final pages, Raina lays out one last challenge for the reader, that will truly test her abilities of Postcognition.  She informs the reader that this last page is signed with her own hand-written signature (which it indeed appears to be, at the very end), and challenges the reader to identify just what type of pen was used. The signature is dated August 2nd, 1983,  20:35:07  GMT.
[3:23 PM] maquila: August 2nd, 1983, 20:35:07 GMT. That is very specific. I stare at the signature then, looking it over. What kind of pen was used. This would be…Postcognition. And I would need to reach. I am holding a book that was there, so that is good. And I focus on the time. I was not even alive then, that makes it hard, but the signature helps, I feel like…
[3:27 PM] zuark: Marcie feels like this spell will be difficult, but possible. Having the exact date and time down to the second helps, as well as having the book in her hands (without which she feels this would be beyond impossible).
[3:28 PM] maquila: Hmm. Do I feel like it will maybe push me too hard and do the muscle strain?
[3:29 PM] zuark: No, but she feels like she'll still most likely be unable to do it without a very serious effort in concentration.
[3:29 PM] zuark: It's 0 dice, so a chance die without a WP.
[3:29 PM] maquila: Okay. Okay. SERIOUS EFFORT and CONCENTRATION. I don't think I have WP do I?
[3:29 PM] zuark: Your WP is full, yup!
[3:30 PM] maquila: Oh! WP!
[3:30 PM] maquila: 1s!!!!
[3:31 PM] zuark: Her senses dissolve away, and Marcie feels like she's in a different room entirely—slightly darker, and there's…is that candlelight? She can't say for sure. She only sees the paper, the page of the book, blank, as the Mont Blanc pen presses its tip down onto the page. As it scrawls out the name—Raina—in careful script, she hears a soothing female voice say, with a quiet and serene pleasure, "You made it through. Well done."
[3:33 PM] maquila: I did it! I did it I did it I did it.  Mont Blanc. Raina. A nice lady. I did it I did it I did it. I blink-blink a few times, feeling abruptly overwhelmed, like my cheeks are hot and I'm about to cry or something. I breathe heavily for a few minutes and then close the book and hug it tightly to my chest for a few moments until everything in my head settles.
[3:35 PM] maquila: I let out a breath once my head settles. I like this book.  Basics of Imago and Yantra by A Munchausen. I should find that next…I wonder what a Path and Order tool are – I can ask Chromium about that in the morning…
[3:36 PM] maquila: I slowly rise up – still hugging the Fundamentals of Time Magic to my chest, and begin looking around the library. Basics of Imago and Yantra…
[3:36 PM] maquila: I don't know what Arcana to find that in…
[3:36 PM] maquila: Well – wait, what time is it…
[3:45 PM] zuark: There is a section called "General Studies." But roll Wits + Composure.
[3:45 PM] maquila: Wits 2 + Com p 3 = 5
[3:46 PM] maquila: Wait, Comp 4 = 6
[3:46 PM] maquila: 2s
[3:46 PM] zuark: Marcie hears some quiet footfalls coming up the stairs.
[3:47 PM] maquila: I stare over that way then, hugging the fundamental time book to my chest while I stand in front of General Studies. I fidget nervously and watch and wait.
[3:48 PM] zuark: She hears the footfalls come up the stairs, to her level—where a person should be visible—and then continue on, ascending further up toward the third floor.
[3:48 PM] maquila: Oh. Probably Flash. "Hi Flash," I say then, and pull out my phone.
[3:49 PM] zuark: The footsteps stop. A moment later there's a buzz on her phone, and this time it's from an actual phone number. A text: "hi"
[3:49 PM] maquila: "Do you know if there is a book here called Basics of Imago and Yantra by A Munchausen?" I ask allowed – though I carefully begin inputting the number as FLASH INVISIBLE.
[3:54 PM] zuark: FLASH INVISIBLE replies: "its in general studies i think under m but its pretty boring"
[3:56 PM] maquila: "Oh. It is recommended reading in this book, and I do not know what imago or yantrasare." I glance back up to it. "Are you eating dinner?"
[3:56 PM] zuark: He replies: "yes"
[3:57 PM] maquila: I nod my head. "What Arcana do you enjoy? Time and Fate as well…?"
[3:59 PM] zuark: Her phone starts controlling itself—it opens the text to speech function, and the robo-voice reads aloud the words that are typed on her screen in the blink of an eye: Bing! "I like Forces magic," says the robovoice. Bong!
[4:03 PM] maquila: Oh! I stare at this as it happens, my eyes widening a little bit. I hold this up a few moments. "Can Forces magic turn my phone to text to speech? What else can it do?"(edited)
[4:07 PM] zuark: In the wake of her phone doing that, she does see some numbers and sigils floating up through the air around her phone. But then (without the floaty hallucinated symbols) she gets another plain text: "turn people invisible…"
[4:50 PM] maquila: I look around at the numbers and sigils then, blink-blinking at it a few times. I nod my head a few times to that then. "I see. Well," a pause. "…I do not see, but I understand." I fidget. "I will let you get back to your food." I appreciate Flash. He answers questions.
[5:54 PM] zuark: Another text: "thanks"
[5:54 PM] zuark: and then his feet patter up the stairs.
[5:57 PM] maquila: I put my phone in my pocket then, and look through the books and search for A. Munchausen. After he is up the stairs, I pull out my phone and text Flash Invisible again with: "May we take books from here to our rooms?"
[6:02 PM] zuark: He replies: "yes but not out of the house"
[6:03 PM] zuark: Marcie locates the book. It's a stuffy, dusty old tome, with the spine worn and the lettering barely legible. It looks like a pretty short book though.
[6:03 PM] maquila: Oh good. I take that then. I also look for T. Schuster's Abyssal Studies.
[6:09 PM] maquila: I also – thoughtfully, after a moment – text Flash Invisible again. "What are Path and Order Tools?"
[6:10 PM] zuark: He replies: "read the book"
[6:10 PM] zuark: She also finds Abyssal Studies in the same section.
[6:11 PM] maquila: I text back: "Ok." I take both Abyssal studies as well as Imagos and Yantra – and also Fundamentals of Time Magic which I have now grown attached to – and walk slowly for the stairs carrying all three. I walk up them, and make my way to my room.
[6:13 PM] zuark: As she passes by the kitchen she can see a turkey sandwich floating in mid-air over the kitchen island.
[6:13 PM] zuark: The turkey sandwich seems to be staring at her.
[6:14 PM] maquila: Oh. There is Flash again. He is shy. I should show him I am friendly. I shuffle my books to one arm and wave to the sandwich, before heading to my bedroom and slipping in, closing the door quietly behind me.
[6:15 PM] zuark: All right.
[6:16 PM] maquila: It is weird when a turkey sandwich stares at you. I move to sit on my bed and scrunch up on it. I put Raina's book gently next to me, and then I lift up the first one she recommended, the Imagos and Yantras. It is dusty.
[6:18 PM] zuark: It is indeed.
[6:19 PM] maquila: I suppose  I should get to know the others too. I wonder how one gets to know Phil. I have not eaten dinner yet, either. I will ask Eunomos perhaps to get food with me…That seems a thing you do. I wonder if she likes paninis.
[6:22 PM] zuark: Heading back downstairs then?
[6:22 PM] maquila: Yes. I put the books aside in my room, and then walk downstairs.
[6:26 PM] maquila: I count the steps as I go down, carefully, just so I am prepared for moving along the stairs in the dark.
[6:26 PM] zuark: "Okay, Bingo," Eunomos is saying as Marcie is descending the steps, "this time I know you're gonna get it!"
[6:27 PM] maquila: Bingo must be a bug. I swivel my head and look around for where she is.
[6:27 PM] zuark: She's in the sitting area near the fire. She's not covered in bugs now. But she's tossing a bracelet into the air—one of those hard bangle ones—and a beetle is apparently attempting to fly through the ring while it's tossing and turning in mid-air.
[6:28 PM] zuark: Eunomos throws up her hands. "YOU DID IT!"
[6:28 PM] maquila: I wander over by her, and sit down.  I lift my head to watch as he files through and nod my head twice.
[6:29 PM] zuark: "Hi, Lattice!" Eunomos says cheerfully.
[6:29 PM] maquila: "Hello, Eunomos," I say then. "Would you and Bingo like to accompany me out for paninis?"
[6:30 PM] zuark: "What do you think, Bingo?" she says to the beetle as it buzzes around her head and then settles on her hair, wriggling in between the locks.
[6:30 PM] zuark: "Bingo says sure."
[6:31 PM] maquila: I nod and rise to my feet. "I know a place that has excellent paninis. Though I do not recommend the Healthilicious."
[6:31 PM] zuark: "Got it! Let's GO!"
[6:31 PM] zuark: Eunomos bounces up to her feet happily. "Nobody ever asks me out for paninis," she says. "I'm excited!"
[6:34 PM] maquila: I move for the door then, and descend slowly down the steps. "I wonder why. Paninis are an excellent source of nutrition so long as you mix the appropriate things and get a mix of dietary substances.  Also, the place that I know of has never exhibited someone watching it for ill-be-gotten reasons."
[6:36 PM] zuark: "Ooooh," Eunomos says, nodding, wide-eyed. "What would be an ill-begotten reason?"
[6:36 PM] maquila: "For instance, I use only cash on the transit systems because they are soon going to establish a law where it is required to use a card on all busses so that the government can track where you are going and when so that they can better control our minds and our destinations."
[6:37 PM] maquila: "So illbegotten reasons would be if they  were watching the panini shops to learn when we ate and what we ate so they would know what foods to poison with mind-control powder."
[6:39 PM] zuark: "Ooooohh," Eunomos says. "Why would they want to poison the food with mind-control powder?"
[6:41 PM] maquila: "Because if they do that, they may control our minds and make us into unwitting drones who will do nothing but play in the chess games of more powerful men within the hierarchy," I nod my head and walk down the street. I know this wasn't FAR from my old place – is the panini shop in between? Or should we take the bus?
[6:42 PM] zuark: Probably the bus.
[6:43 PM] zuark: "Oh wow," Eunomos says. "What kind of chess games?"

[6:45 PM] maquila: "Using us in wars against one another so they can fulfill their wanton desires, no doubt." I move to the bus stop.
[6:47 PM] zuark: "Oh," Eunomos says, "like what kind of wanton desires?"
[6:47 PM] maquila: "Like total and complete world domination."
[6:49 PM] zuark: "Oh," she says, "but how do they get world domination if they're at war?"
[6:52 PM] maquila: "Well," I say then, thoughtfully, "it is similar to an area war. Each controls a section of the world, and they desire to control it all, so they use their steady drones to fight and war until they get more under their control, and they hope to eventually control it all."
[6:54 PM] maquila: When the bus arrives, I use my cash to pay for the two of us, and then move to sit down.
[6:55 PM] zuark: "But how can they control it all if they're at war?"
[6:55 PM] zuark: Eunomos follows along. "Oh! I can pay for my—oh! Thanks!"
[6:56 PM] maquila: "That is why we can still resist," I say with a nod. "Because they don't have total control because they are at war and thus they cannot totally control us, and if you are thoughtful and resist, then you are powerfrul."
[6:58 PM] zuark: "But if they're at war how does that make them in control?"
[6:58 PM] maquila: "They aren't quite yet," I say then, holding up my hand. "They want to be. That's why they want the mental domination powder in our food."
[7:01 PM] zuark: "But if the mental domination leads to the chess games leads to the war leads to the control, how does the war lead to the control? Oh, thank you!" she says to the sandwich guy as she gets her sandwich.
[7:02 PM] maquila: "Thank you," I say, getting the one I've sorted via Decemeber 5ths is the best. I move to sit down then, and take a bite of my panini, chewing. "Oh," I say. "It allows them to take over the others' bits, and then they can also dominate the other world leaders."
[7:05 PM] zuark: "But I thought the world leaders were all working together to go to war to get control," Eunomos says, brows furrowing in confusion.
[7:06 PM] maquila: "Yes," I say. "But one does not imply the other. You can work together yet also be enemies. They work together until they get the control, but meanwhile backstab and harm one another to try and prepare for when the world is under their control so that they can then war and be the ur-ruler."
[7:08 PM] maquila: I take a bite of my sandwich, chewing calmly.
[7:09 PM] zuark: "Ooooohh," Eunomos says, nodding as she takes a big bite of sandwich. "Fo hoof ah 'oo 'uns a' 'aw?"
[7:09 PM] maquila: "I did not quite catch that question, I'm afraid?" I tilt my head.
[7:09 PM] zuark: She swallows thickly. "So who are the ones at war?"
[7:10 PM] maquila: "The Illuminati and the New World Order – which are technically the one and the same. I also believe that there are lizard people who are partaking in a war with the Illuminati but some claim they are also one and the same – that I am less certain of."
[7:13 PM] zuark: "Ooooohhh," Eunomos says, nodding. "But if they're one and the same how are they at war with each other? Won't they get upset if they kill their own people?"
[7:14 PM] maquila: "Absolutely," I nod. "And so they do get mad when the others kill one anothers' own people, and so then they kill the other person's people. They are a trecherous group."
[7:16 PM] zuark: "Oh." Eunomos furrows her brows again. "I don't get it."
[7:17 PM] maquila: "It is complicated to get. I have been studying it my whole life, and it has taken most of it to grasp." I nod.
[7:19 PM] zuark: "Oh, you must be an expert."
[7:20 PM] maquila: "I would not purport to be such, but relatively speaking." I nod and finish off my sandwich.
[7:21 PM] zuark: "I've never heard of any of this so it just shows how little I know," Eunomos says. The beetle crawls out of her hair and down her face, and she doesn't show any signs of noticing. Another customer in the shop gives her a horrified look.
[7:22 PM] maquila: "It is not something many people would notice or know about," I say. "Remember, it is designed so you don't notice it." I look to the customer. "It is her friend. It is okay." I say – not assuring at all – and then rise to my feet.
[7:28 PM] zuark: Marcie's words only get the customer to shake her head in revulsion and hurry away. Marcie hears her whispering rapidly to her friend as they leave the shop, with both of them glancing back in their direction.
[7:28 PM] maquila: "That was strange," I say, and look to Eunomos. "What did you think of your sandwich?"
[7:35 PM] zuark: "It was good!" she says. The beetle flutters onto what's left of it. "Bingo likes it too!"
[7:36 PM] maquila: "Are your insects able to eat the sandwich healthfully? If so, we can get a bag to carry it back for them."
[7:40 PM] maquila: I move then to wave at the staff. "A to-go bag or box, please. We would like to take remains home."
[7:43 PM] zuark: The server sees the beetle on the sandwich and looks immediately embarrassed. "Oh my god," he says, "i'm so—we'll take this back right away and—" and he reaches for the sandwich tray while Bingo is still on it. Bingo immediately shrieks at the top of her lungs, "NO!" which causes the server to freeze up in alarm and stammer, "Miss," he says, "we'll get you a new one free of charge, let me just—" but Eunomos desperately grasps hold of the sandwich tray to keep the man from taking it away while Bingo is attached to it. "You can't have Bingo!"
[7:43 PM] maquila: "No," I say then, to the server. "Bingo is her friend. I am just looking for a to go package. We do not need a new sandwich, thank you." I sidle awkwrdly back a few steps to hover near to Eunomos.
[7:45 PM] zuark: "I'll just—get the to-go box then," the server says, and hurries away from the table.
[7:46 PM] maquila: I nod and wait patiently, hovering close to Eunomos.
[7:46 PM] zuark: Eunomos looks increasingly relieved as he walks away.
[7:46 PM] maquila: "Is Bingo feeling all right?" I ask, looking down thoughtfully to the bug.
[7:48 PM] zuark: "Yes," she says. "He was just scared that the bad man was going to take him away."
[7:48 PM] zuark: Bingo flutters back into her hair, crawling down into her scalp and disappearing amid her curls.
[7:49 PM] maquila: I nod my head thoughtfully. "I know that feeling quite well. But it is okay – we managed to get him to go and get the package, and we will put it away and then go back to the house."
[7:52 PM] zuark: Eunomos nods furiously.
[7:52 PM] zuark: "Thanks, Lattice."(edited)
[7:56 PM] maquila: I furrow my brow to that. "…Of course. All I did was take you out for lunch." I turn my attention forward then – and when the server returns, step forward to take the to-go box, returning to gently put the sandwich within its confines, and offering it to Eunomos to carry.
[8:04 PM] maquila: Then I quietly make my way out and move to the bus stop. "Have you always enjoyed insects?"
[8:06 PM] zuark: "You also explained the war and control of the Illuminati and the  New World Order and you also protected Bingo from that horrible man." She takes the to-go box and clutches it to her chest.
[8:08 PM] maquila: "You did most of the protecting," I say. "You pulled the tray away, and told him to stay away, after all." I nod my head. "I simply explained that Bingo was your friend, which I imagine is something he would have assumed otherwise." I wait patiently on the bus and climb on. I pay with cash again.
[8:09 PM] zuark: "No, lots of people don't get it…"
[8:11 PM] maquila: "I wonder why," I say, thoughtfully. I sit down next to her on the bus and put my hands on my lap.
[8:12 PM] zuark: "I don't know,' she says. "people accept cats and dogs and birds and even tarantulas as pets…"
[8:14 PM] maquila: I consider this for a long, long time. In fact, as the bus bounces a long, I seem to have lost myself in thought – before finally I say: "I have never had a pet," I say. "But if i did, I think I would have a rooster."
[8:17 PM] zuark: "A rooster? I bet they'd make fun pets."
[8:18 PM] maquila: "Yes," I say then, nodding .  "I appreciate chickens. They have good feathers."
[8:20 PM] zuark: "They're pretty great!" Eunomos says cheerily.
[8:22 PM] maquila: I nod my head then – and as the bus pulls up, I climb off it, waiting until she is off to also walk back to the house. "Thank you for the paninis. I had several yesterday with Chromium, but they were all on different fwimbles of December 5th."
[8:24 PM] zuark: "Oh," Eunomos says, "I don't know what that means."
[8:25 PM] maquila: "Which part?"[8:28 PM] zuark: "The part about different fwimbles of December 5th. I don't know what that means."
[8:29 PM] maquila: "Oh. You see, I kept repeating December 5th. Every time I slept or died, I would wake up on December 5th at 12:08 PM. And because they were happening simultaneously and part of the same line, they were fwimbles. That is what a fwimble is."
[8:33 PM] zuark: "Why's it called a fwimble?"
[8:33 PM] maquila: "Because alongside nor concurrant work as words, and so Chromium and I came up with fwimble as a word that was unused that would frustrate neither of us." I nod my head once.
[8:37 PM] maquila: I step up and into the house, holding the door for her.
[8:46 PM] zuark: "Oh," Eunomos says. "So it's a Time thing."
[8:46 PM] zuark: She steps forward into the house.
[8:46 PM] maquila: "I suppose," I say then. "Though I did not know it until after I Awakened and absorbed the Timecube."
[8:46 PM] zuark: "Oh! You absorbed a Timecube? What's that? What was that like?"
[8:49 PM] maquila: "It is…it is an item, that if you pressed the right coordinates, you could zoom to any point in your historyo r future, and you could see the infinite variants. I did not know what to do at first, I simply kept waking up every morning at the same time and panicking."
[8:50 PM] zuark: "Oh! That sounds incredible!"
[8:53 PM] maquila: "It was," I consider the word I want to use, struggling to come up with one."It was…many things," I finally settle on. "Sometimes exciting. Sometimes terrifying. Sometimes…sad."
[8:54 PM] zuark: "Oh. That sounds amazing though. You could relive your whole life? Go visit anytime you wanted?"
[8:56 PM] maquila: "Yes," I say. "It was very tempting to change some things that I – should not have changed."
[8:57 PM] zuark: "Really? What were you tempted to change?"(edited)
[8:59 PM] maquila: "My parents' death."
[9:00 PM] zuark: "Oh." She frowns. "Why didn't you change it?"
[9:02 PM] maquila: "Because if they had not died, I would not have …have," mages affectionately call these Mysteries, thank you Raina. "Have tried to solve the mystery that led to my Awakening, and my Dad had told me, in a previous memory I had jumped back to that what I was doing was the most beautiful experience and that I needed to find it within myself, no matter how scared, to keep going." I blink a few times, starting to feel a little overwhelmed again. "I…should go up to my room." I shuffle for the stairs.
[9:03 PM] zuark: "Oh. I'm sorry I—I didn't mean to—did I upset you? I'm so sorry!" Eunomos fidgets. Bingo flutters out of her hair and flies around in circles.
[9:04 PM] maquila: "No," I say awkwardly, fidgeting on the stairs. "You did not upset me…"
[9:06 PM] zuark: She shuffles her weight from foot to foot. "Okay."
[9:09 PM] maquila: What did Chromium say. "Correlation does not equal causation," I say. "The contents of the words I was saying upset me. But you did nothing wrong." That gave me peace, anyway.
[9:11 PM] zuark: "Okay," Eunomos says. "I'm sorry for asking the question though. Um—I hope we can hang out again! You're nice."
[9:13 PM] maquila: "Yes. We will talk again. Perhaps we can enjoy ramen for lunch tomorrow. I am told that we both enjoy it."
[9:14 PM] zuark: "Oh! Yes. I get ramen because I try not to go out too much and leave all my bugs alone and I'm not allowed to leave with all my bugs because the Sleepers get upset."
[9:14 PM] maquila: "It is easy to make and I do not have to worry about burning it…"
[9:15 PM] zuark: Eunomos nods repeatedly.
[9:15 PM] zuark: "Okay bye," she says, and scurries off toward her room.
[9:17 PM] maquila: "Bye," I say, and then shuffle quickly up to my room where I quickly lock in. My face feels hot and my eyes sting. I move to sink down on my bed and hug Jellybean for a little bit.
[9:21 PM] maquila: After I manage to chill out again, I kiss Jellybean's nose and then quietly get back to studying – until I finally slip into my PJs, curl up, and snooze.
[9:21 PM] maquila: It's been a kind of overwhelming day for me – meeting a lot of new people, learning MAGIC
[9:23 PM] zuark: Yup! But Marcie gets to rest as long as she wants, at least.
[9:24 PM] maquila: I wake up and wander to the shower near my room – which I figure is mine rather than having to go down three flights – shower, get dressed  in a grandma dress that is far too big on me ( http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-oITwDSoBhRg/VBtdOlkoE_I/AAAAAAAABWQ/AJwKRbdlgB8/s1600/before2.jpg ) and a straw hat, and then move outside to sit on the bench and be there waiting at 9AM for Chromium. I read Imagos and Yanras while I wait.
[9:28 PM] zuark: Imagos and Yantras is incredibly dry reading. It's obvious from the wear and tear of the book, and from the faded pages, and the stuffy writing style, that this book is old and in dire need of an update and retranslation. Nevertheless, it seems packed with useful information. In the first chapter, Marcie absorbs a great deal about what an Imago is: the image in the mind of a spell which allows the spell to be realized and to come forth into the world. Metaphors abound but the one which sticks with Marcie is that of a painting. The artist has an image of the painting in his mind, and it's this mental image which allows him to put color to canvas and create the work of art. Such is the way with magic.
[9:29 PM] maquila: Oh. That makes sense. Like when Raina (Raina is the god among book writers, I have decided) mentioned to think of the words I had seen, I imagined the page, and so I was able to go toward it. And it was foggier thinking ahead, but it was still a book, so I could imagine it.
[9:32 PM] zuark: In the following chapter, A. Munchausen begins to explain (in dry-ass purple prose) how a Yantra, which is also called a Chain by the servants of the Exarchs (whatever those are), is essentially a tool which helps to visualize the Imago. If the Imago is the mental image in the mind that allows the artist to paint, and the spell is the painting, then the Yantra is the paintbrush, the canvas, and perhaps most insightfully, a reference image that allows the artist to work in shorthand from copy instead of having to make everything up in his imagination.
[9:33 PM] maquila: What are servants of the Exarchs, why does it matter what they call them…  Oh, so like the book that Raina had me visualize was a yantra. That makes sense.
[9:33 PM] zuark: An artist can paint with his hands, using nothing but the natural oils therefrom, and nothing but the thoughts in his head, but such a work will be vastly inferior to the art a man can create using a proper brush set, exquisite paints, and a live model against whom to measure.
[9:34 PM] maquila: A. Munchausen has a very strange way of writing. I furrow my brows. Okay…
[9:35 PM] zuark: The author proceeds to provide a great many analogies to illustrate exactly the same point.
[9:35 PM] zuark: After an excessive amount of that, the following chapter begins to describe types of Yantras.
[9:36 PM] maquila: I don't like A Munchausen. My face contorts then as I keep reading the repetitive sort of writing. Why does he give so many boring examples. He should write more like Raina and give exercises…
[9:38 PM] zuark: The first type of Yantra that most young pupils learn, according to A. Munchausen, is the Mundra. These are of course (he writes as if the reader already knows but needs it repeated for some reason) the skills which are encoded into the rote spells which initiates are taught to memorize in order to learn the fundamentals of spellcasting. These rote gestures are code-locked symbols of the intention of the Imago—gestures which allow the young student to carbon-copy the efforts of the master.
[9:40 PM] maquila: What are rote spells???? I guess I'm going to memorize some with Chromium? Code-locked symbols of the intention of the Imago…carbon copy the efforts of the master…I furrow my brow more intensely, and check the time.
[9:41 PM] zuark: Naturally, the next type of Yantra that most students will learn to produce are the words and signs of the Supernal Language—that language which speaks the primal Truth of the universe and cannot be corrupted. If only we could truly learn the speak the High Speech in full, Munchausen laments, we would be working spells as easily as the common Sleeper forms sentences with his breath. Alas, we know only fragments, and so we must make do, by appropriating certain key words from this long-forgotten tongue and employing them as symbols in our magic. Supernal words spoken aloud as Mantras form a powerful Yantra, as do runes inscribed upon surfaces to be affected by the spell in question…
[9:44 PM] maquila: Umm. I know that language. It was in my Awakening, I saw it a lot and recognized it mentally. I stare wide-eyed at the writing then, my brow furrowed even more and look up desperately for signs of Chromium.
[9:45 PM] zuark: Next, of course, is the Magical Tool, that sacred Yantra so beloved to so many mages the world over—A. Munchausen goes on for pages about vast collections of tools that mages collect for various purposes. Rods to symbolize the phallus, Cups to symbolize the warm acceptance of the female vulva….
[9:45 PM] maquila: …W…why… I close the book looking horrified.
[9:49 PM] zuark: Are you sure?
[9:49 PM] maquila: I mark my place, but then close it.
[9:49 PM] zuark: All right, it's closed then. As long as you're sure.
[9:50 PM] maquila: The warm acceptance of the female vulva…I shudder again and look around desperately for Christopher.
[9:50 PM] zuark: Wits + Comp.
[9:51 PM] maquila: Wits 2 + Comp 4 =6
[9:51 PM] maquila: Fail lol
[9:51 PM] maquila: I check the time on my phone.
[9:51 PM] zuark: It's 9:01.
[9:51 PM] maquila: Chromium said he'd be here by now…Right at this spot…I feel a little anxious, my stomach churning. I stand up then, and peek around the place.
[9:52 PM] zuark: Where are you peeking?
[9:52 PM] maquila: Into her room, then downstairs.
[9:52 PM] zuark: Her room is empty. Downstairs, though, Marcie discovers the cause for the delay. Philip is talking to Chromium in the sitting area. By the look of it, Chromium is attempting to make his way by degrees toward the stairs while Philip keeps talking to him.
[9:52 PM] zuark: "Are you moving back in, Chromie?"
[9:52 PM] zuark: "No, Philip, I am not."
[9:53 PM] maquila: "Chromium," I say – probably sounding more desperately relieved than I'd ever want to sound.
[9:53 PM] zuark: "Hello, Lattice," he says. "I apologize for my tardiness. Philip, here, does not seem to understand the importance of punctuality."
[9:53 PM] zuark: Phil leers over at Marcie. "Hey, sexy…"
[9:54 PM] maquila: "I was reading a book Raina suggested, but I don't like it much," I say then to Chromium and then look to Phil. "Hi, Phil," I say then.
[9:55 PM] zuark: "Is it Imagos and Yantras?" Chromium says, as he drifts away from Phil and toward the stairs. "Please do not encourage him…"
[9:56 PM] zuark: Phil leers and follows after Chromium toward Marcie.
[9:56 PM] maquila: "Yes," I say then to Chromium. I blink confusedly at Phil, and then move to climb the stairs back up to where the books are piled on one another.
[9:58 PM] zuark: Phil says, "Where you goin', sexy?"
[9:59 PM] maquila: "I am going to ask Chromium about things in the books I was studying," I say then.
[10:00 PM] zuark: "Why don't you ask me, sexy," Phil says. "I could tell it all to you…"
[10:00 PM] zuark: "Philip," Chromium says, with the tone of bad dog, "go to your room."
[10:02 PM] maquila: "Chromium helps me figure out things without telling me straight away unless it makes sense to tell me straight away, and he makes me figure it out and learn if I don't," I say then. "But thank you for the offer…"
[10:04 PM] zuark: Phil huffs and shuffles off to his room. Chromium looks relieved.
[10:06 PM] maquila: I wait until Phil moves to his room, and then continue quietly up the stairs. "I stopped reading Imagos and Yantras after the author started talking about genitalia…It also mentioned a lot of things like I should know them, like servants of the Exarchs and why I should care that they call Yantra Chains. And I don't know what rote spells are. "
[10:09 PM] zuark: "The servants of the Exarchs are the Seers of the Throne," Chromium says. "Mr. White was one of them."
[10:09 PM] maquila: "…Oh," I say then, my nose wrinkling.
[10:10 PM] zuark: "They see it as their mission to ensure that magic only falls into the hands of those who are authorized by the Exarchs, who are their god-kings," Chromium says. "Therefore they attempt to prevent any unsanctioned Awakenings. Such as yours."
[10:12 PM] maquila: "And that is why you told me not to talk to him and avoid him if at all possible." I nod my head. "I did that. I am glad Uncle Colt took care of him." I move to sit back down in front of the books, Raina's lovingly sat to the side. "Why do they do that?"
[10:14 PM] zuark: "To give them the greatest possible amount of symathy and credit…the Exarchs believe that they know what is best for everyone."
[10:15 PM] maquila: "Oh," I say. "I don't like them." I fidget with the books a little bit, and then look up at him. "What are rote spells?"

pt. 17 The Halfway House for Wayward Mages
Meet ...Everyone! Except Rose.

[10:24 AM] zuark: So since it wasn't quite clear yesterday… are you sleeping for the night and taking the bus in the morning? Or just going right away?
[10:25 AM] maquila: Hm. I'll sleep for the night and take the bus in the morning.
[10:28 AM] maquila: Marcie spends most of her night bugging Uncle Greg and carefully putting the wings and everything away in her fridge. She gets a little anxious the closer she gets to sleeping – "What if December 5th starts again?" – but does eventually sleep for a little while.
[10:29 AM] zuark: "If it does," Uncle Greg says, "I suspect yer immortal. Have fun with it."
[10:30 AM] maquila: "Oh," I say,  a bit discontent. "I don't think I like being immortal." And then I go and close my eyes, fidgeting a little bit-an then sleeping. WHAT DAY IS WHEN I WAKE UP.
[10:34 AM] zuark: Marcie wakes up to the sound of a street sweeper groaning past her window.
[10:35 AM] maquila: Noooo. I cover my face with my hands and roll around for a moment in my bed. I slowly climb up in my pajamas and go – glumly – out to the living room to get out the cocklamp.
[10:36 AM] zuark: She looks up and sees that the cock lamp has already been set up on her nightstand.
[10:36 AM] maquila: Oh. Oh! I flail a little bit and grab my phone to check the day.(edited)
[10:40 AM] zuark: December 6th!
[10:40 AM] maquila: I scramble out of bed, still, and go hurrying into the living room. "Uncle Greg!" I say. "It's December 6th!"
[10:41 AM] zuark: Uncle Greg is on the couch, snoozing, with his ankles crossed on the table and his hat over his eyes. "Mmh," he mumbles.
[10:42 AM] maquila: I galavant around a little bit, getting out some fruit loops and cereal and sitting own to quickly eat a bowl of it, and then I clean it up and put it away, and then hurriedly get dressed, get my bag, and hover near Uncle Greg. "Let's go to the address!"
[10:45 AM] zuark: Uncle Greg snoozes while she eats cereal. Her perkiness doesn't have much effect, but he eventually slides his boots off the coffee table and slowly pushes up to his feet.
[10:47 AM] maquila: As soon as we're out the door and I've locked up, my bag kept close to my side, the perkiness fades away to uneasiness of heading to a place I've never been before. I shuffle to the bus stop, carefully studying the address, and stick close to Uncle Greg.
[10:50 AM] zuark: Uncle Greg seems completely at ease, although he does regard the bus with some apparent disdain. He pays for his bus fare in change—and as he counts his change out, he very carefully avoids paying with certain coins. All of the coins that he avoids paying with, Marcie sees little floaty glowing numbers and shifting sigils washing over them.
[10:51 AM] maquila: I study the coins that have the numbers over them, interestedly, staring.
[10:52 AM] zuark: Colt puts them back in his pocket before Marcie gets a decent look. He nudges her and goes to sit down.
[10:53 AM] maquila: I watch them go into his pocket, and then move to sit down right next to him. I look around the bus and then fidget back into the chair. "Do some of your coins have magic in them?" I ask him, whispering.
[10:53 AM] maquila: "And wanna know something?"
[10:53 AM] zuark: He glances over at her, one eyebrow raising.
[10:54 AM] maquila: "They're gonna start implementing bus cards as required on all the buses," I say then. "I'm pretty sure they're doing it to track people."
[10:57 AM] zuark: "Reckon the folks wanna track people got better to do," Uncle Greg says.
[10:59 AM] zuark: The address Christopher gave her is in Park Slope, which is a decent but not hugely long bus ride across Brooklyn.
[11:00 AM] maquila: "Oh," I say to that. I nod my head a little bit, fidgeting slightly. I slip off when it's time, waiting on Uncle Greg to get off too, and then wander down the street to the address.
[11:03 AM] zuark: After the bus stop, and a short walk, the address leads to a corner building with a cone-shaped roof and old-fashioned brick-work: https://media-cdn.tripadvisor.com/media/photo-s/01/2d/f9/b0/brooklyn-park-slope.jpg
[11:04 AM] maquila: I stare up at this building a little uncertainly. "It looks pretty big…" I say to Uncle Greg. I double check the address, and then move up to the door. Does it seem like you can walk in, or should I knock?
[11:06 AM] zuark: The front door is closed, so knocking seems appropriate.
[11:07 AM] maquila: I fidget, look up to Uncle Greg again, and then knock on the door.
[11:08 AM] zuark: The door opens—and Christopher is on the other side of it.
[11:08 AM] maquila: "Christopher!" I say then, seeming much more relieved – like all the trepidation has gone away in an instant. "Hi. Have you napped?"
[11:12 AM] zuark: "I'm sorry," Christopher says, eyebrows furrowing. He glances at Uncle Greg and then at Marcie. "Who are you?"
[11:12 AM] zuark: "Time travel," Uncle Greg mutters.
[11:13 AM] maquila: "Oh, right," I say then, extremely disappointed. "Later today you will travel back in time and help me with something." I hold out the address. "You gave me this and told me to come here so I could learn and be safe and that you would be here."
[11:13 AM] zuark: Christopher squints at the paper. "That is indeed my handwriting," he says.
[11:14 AM] maquila: I nod my head solemnly.
[11:14 AM] zuark: "Come along, then." He steps aside to let them in.
[11:14 AM] maquila: I step inside then, waiting on Uncle Greg to come in too, and then looking around.
[11:15 AM] zuark: The first room they step into is a cozy lounge. There's a fireplace, gently crackling, and a sitting area with some comfy looking couches. There is no TV, or any modern technology really, but there are lots of books on the walls, and there are chess and checker sets laid out.
[11:15 AM] zuark: Christopher shuts the door behind them as they step through.
[11:16 AM] maquila: I look over at the books and the comfy looking couches. Is this where Christopher lives? I quietly look around a little bit more and then peer at Christopher again. "Do you need to know stuff so you know about what to do?"
[11:24 AM] zuark: Phil wanders in from a side room. "Hey, sexy," he starts, but he freezes up a little at the sight of Uncle Greg. "Oh, Chromie," he says to Christopher, "this is what I told you."
[11:24 AM] zuark: "I see," Christopher says. "I had assumed you were simply blathering."
[11:24 AM] maquila: "Hi Phil," I say brightly to him then.
[11:25 AM] zuark: "Hey," he says, leering, "wanna see my rock collection?"
[11:25 AM] zuark: "Philip," Christopher says, with a long-suffering sigh, "please go away."
[11:27 AM] maquila: "Um," I say to that and look up at Christopher, and then over to Phil. "Not right now, but thank you. You also mentioned mamboing yesterday, and I'm afraid I do not know how to do that." I look up to Christopher again.
[11:28 AM] zuark: "Sorry, Chromie," Phil says, and turns and shuffles back from whence he came.
[11:28 AM] maquila: "He doesn't like being called that," I inform Uncle Greg.
[11:29 AM] zuark: "Reckon no sane man would," Uncle Greg says.
[11:30 AM] zuark: Christopher looks at Uncle Greg. "Are you also a person I ought to know?"
[11:30 AM] zuark: "Go by Colt in these parts," Uncle Greg says.
[11:30 AM] zuark: "Oh—oh." Christopher's eyes widen. "Yes, I know the name."
[11:31 AM] zuark: "I know ya do, boy," Uncle Greg says. "We hashed all this out yesterday, so why don't ya just wait fer the time travel so I don't gotta repeat it all."
[11:31 AM] maquila: I blink up at Uncle Greg then, my brow furrowing. "Why?"
[11:31 AM] zuark: "That's—fair enough," Christopher says, looking a little flustered.
[11:32 AM] zuark: "Shadow Name," Uncle Greg says, and pats Marcie's shoulder. "Ya need one."
[11:32 AM] maquila: "He's my Uncle," I inform Christopher then and then look uncertainly up at Uncle Greg. "Why?"
[11:32 AM] zuark: "Same reason ya pay cash fer the bus," Uncle Greg says to her. "Multiply by a couple thousand."
[11:33 AM] maquila: "Oh," I say worriedly then, my eyes widening. I dart a look to Christopher, and then back up to Uncle Greg. "Christopher called me Lattice in Arcadia, so that seems to make the most sense, especially with what happened."
[11:35 AM] zuark: "Lattice it is, then." Christopher extends his hand out toward her. "I go by Chromium. Pleasure to make your acquaintance."
[11:37 AM] maquila: "Oh. When I asked if you preferred Chromium or Christopher you said you preferred Christopher. Hello."  I eye his hand for a moment and then very gingerly slip my hand into his to shake it.
[11:38 AM] zuark: "Reckon that's 'cause you were still sleepin' at the time," Uncle Greg says.
[11:38 AM] zuark: "Yes," Christopher says, "I do go by Christopher when I am talking to Sleepers."
[11:39 AM] maquila: "Oh," I say, looking even more confused by that. "But I was awake at the time…I'd gone to the bank to pick up the magnifying glass and you were eating a donut…"
[11:40 AM] zuark: "Not sleepin'-sleepin'," Uncle Greg says. "Sleepin'."
[11:40 AM] zuark: "Prior to your Awakening, I presume," Christopher says.
[11:41 AM] maquila: "Oh." The Quiescence thing taht Christopher mentioned yesterday. I nod my head then slowly.
[11:42 AM] zuark: "Right," Uncle Greg says, turning to Marcie, "Well if this's where yer gonna hang yer hat, I'll head on off."
[11:43 AM] maquila: I look around then, slowly, and then look up at Uncle Greg, and then look at Christopher. "What is this place?" And then I look back at Uncle Greg. "Okay." I fidget. "Will I see you again?"
[11:43 AM] zuark: "Phone call away, li'l lady," he says.
[11:44 AM] maquila: I immediately feel relieved again – which probably shows on my face or in my shoulders as they sink down. "Okay," I say then. "Thank you, Uncle -" I falter for a moment, and then: "Uncle Colt?"
[11:47 AM] zuark: "You take care'a yerself," Colt says, with a nod and a tip of his hat. He looks at Christopher then. "You make sure she's looked after proper, or you'll be hearin' from me."
[11:47 AM] zuark: "Right," Christopher says.
[11:48 AM] maquila: I look around again, moving forward a little bit to stare up. "What is this place?" I ask Christopher again.
[11:52 AM] zuark: "This," Christopher says, "is the Halfway House for Wayward Mages." He gestures around. "This is the common room."
[11:53 AM] maquila: I look around for a moment.  I consider this for an even longer moment, quiet and thoughtful. "Am I wayward?"
[11:56 AM] zuark: "That is up to you to decide. Everyone who stays here does so voluntarily. This is a place intended for Mages who have had a difficult time adjusting to the Awakened life, for whatever reason. It allows them to study in a safe and secure environment, with the ultimate goal being eventual matriculation into society. Though some," he glances in the direction Phil went, "are more hopeful in that regard than others."
[11:56 AM] zuark: "Perhaps a tour might help you better understand."
[11:57 AM] maquila: I nod my head then. "You said I could learn and be safe here, and I trust you," I say – even though he doesn't know me, he will later tonight, I think. "So I will likely say I am Wayward. I would like a tour, though, please."
[11:59 AM] zuark: "Right this way." He leads her through the sitting room and down a corridor. The first door he passes, he gestures to disinterestedly. "Philip's room," he says. "You two are already acquainted." He moves on, apparently not intent on disturbing Phil.
[12:00 PM] maquila: I glancee to Phil's room then, and move to hurry after Christopher. "What did he tell you about yesterday?"
[12:00 PM] zuark: "Just that he had been wandering where he should not have been, and that I showed up to herd him away from a young woman. I assume he means you."
[12:01 PM] maquila: "Yes," I say, nodding my head.  "He was being lascivious. "
[12:02 PM] zuark: "We have told Philip time and again not to wander, but we are unable to stop him from doing so
-at least not without infringing upon his basic civil liberties to an extent that the mistress of the house is unwilling."
[12:02 PM] maquila: "Mistress of the house?" I ask.
[12:03 PM] zuark: "Yes," he says. "The woman who owns and maintains this place, entirely out of her own charitable impulses and flagrantly against the wishes of most of her peers. She the kindest person I know."
[12:04 PM] maquila: "Oh, " I say then, thoughtfully. "Then I trust her." I will base entire judgments around what Dad and Mom – or now Chr—Chromium and Uncle Colt say.
[12:07 PM] zuark: "This is Flash's room," Chromium says as he steps up to the next door. "He is quite shy, but perhaps I can arrange an introduction for you."
[12:07 PM] maquila: I nod my head a little bit and fidget. "Flash," I say, glancing up to him and to the door. "Okay." I'm not shy, but if Flash is then I will need to be careful to not make things awkward.
[12:08 PM] zuark: Chromium lightly raps twice on the door.
[12:08 PM] maquila: I glance to the door and wait quietly.
[12:09 PM] zuark: "It is possible that he will be invisible," Chromium says quietly, while they wait a rather long time at the door. "If that is the case, do not be alarmed."
[12:10 PM] maquila: "Invisible?" I ask. I look to the door and then back up to him. "Can I turn invisible?"
[12:10 PM] zuark: "In theory," Chromium says.
[12:10 PM] zuark: The door unlocks and then slowly swings open.
[12:11 PM] maquila: I glance to the door then, awkwardly shuffling closer to Chromium.
[12:11 PM] zuark: "Flash," Chromium says, standing in the doorway, "we have a guest. Her name is Lattice, and she would like to meet you."
[12:11 PM] zuark: Roll Wits + Comp.
[12:11 PM] maquila: Wits 2 + Comp 4 = 6…
[12:11 PM] maquila: …6s.
[12:13 PM] zuark: Looking at the floor, Marcie hears the soft patter of footfalls directly in front of her—and, very faintly, she sees the very slight imprints of footsteps on the hardwood, appearing in a trail away from the door. Looks like someone is walking in bare feet, leaving behind just the faint traces of natural oils and moisture from their feet on the wood floor as they retreat from the doorway. But there's nobody there.
[12:15 PM] maquila: I look at the floor then and then look up. I focus where I saw the footsteps end last, and awkwardly shift my weight back and forth. "Hi," I say, sticking next to Chromium. "I can see your footprints…"
[12:16 PM] zuark: Marcie notices some floating numbers and symbols appearing in the air, a few yards into the room, where the last of the footfalls was. A moment later, her cell phone buzzes in her pocket.
[12:16 PM] maquila: I stare wide-eyed at the numbers, opening my mouth – and then pause, pulling my cellphone out of my pocket to peek at it.
[12:17 PM] zuark: She has a text from an incoherent garble of unicode symbols. The text reads: "hi"
[12:18 PM] maquila: "Oh," I say. "That's neat." I tilt my head a little bit.  "If I reply to this would you receive it back?"
[12:19 PM] zuark: The room around her looks to be decorated like a teenage boy's room. There's a computer at the desk, some books on bookshelves. There's a poster of Anne Hathaway on the wall that looks like this: http://wallpapersdsc.net/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/512.jpg
[12:19 PM] zuark: Her phone buzzes again and she receives a reply: "no but i can hear you"
[12:20 PM] maquila: "Oh." I say then. I Look at the poster then. "Did you see Interstellar? I like it, because it's in space." I pause. "Oh, and it has to do with time travel."
[12:23 PM] maquila: Anne Hathaway was in Interstellar.  I liked that movie. I remember I watched it with Dad. He thought it might be too much but then Mom pointed out I liked weird movies and so what was so different about that one.
[12:23 PM] zuark: Her phone buzzes with another text: "good movie but no way would there be a planet orbiting a black hole like that"
[12:23 PM] maquila: I look at the phone. "It is just as plausible as a planet orbiting a sun," I say. "Which is what we are doing…"
[12:23 PM] zuark: Another text: "also clouds don't freeze"
[12:24 PM] maquila: "Do they not?" I ask then, concerned. "Where does hail come from?"
[12:26 PM] zuark: Another text: "from clouds but the ice falls it doesn't stay floating in the air like magic, and the black hole would have to be 100 million times the mass of the sun and spinning really fast and that would rip the planet apart with tidal forces or else the planet would get smashed by things falling into the black hole or would be full of radiation or the atmosphere would be fried"
[12:26 PM] zuark: Chromium stands there awkwardly. "So," he says. "This is Flash…Flash, this is Lattice…lovely…"
[12:29 PM] maquila: "Well, yes," I say. "But one could say that them forming into ice and then falling is the clouds technically freezing, though I do agree it is not as it is shown in the film. I had always hear at the planetarium however that Black Holes – while they shifted about in either the figure eight spiral or the circular spiral – did not do any, if you will, sucking in like they do in shows like Futurama, but instead simply caught things in their gravity which then orbited them. But," I acquiesce, "you seem to know more of this than I, whereas I just know simplicized notions from the planetarium." I pause and look up to Chromium, and then into the room. "It is a pleasure to meet you," I say, earnestly.
[12:31 PM] zuark: Her phone buzzes with another text: 'nice to meet you but please leave"
[12:31 PM] maquila: "Okay," I say then, and look up at Chromium.
[12:31 PM] maquila: And back out of the room, of course.
[12:33 PM] zuark: Chromium steps out and shuts the door lightly. "He is a decent chap," he says. "Very shy, as I said. But he needs all the social interaction he can get."
[12:33 PM] maquila: "He seems very nice and interesting," I say then.
[12:37 PM] zuark: "Indeed." He gestures to a bathroom at the end of the hall. "That is the boys' bathroom," he says. "I recommend steering clear of it. This way." He walks past the open door of the bathroom, and around the corner, and then he opens a set of double doors in the center of the next hallway. "This is the study," he says. "If you need a quiet place to sit and read, or to practice your spells in peace, you may go here—as long as the spells don't disrupt others." He gestures into the room, which contains a few tables, a few sets of chairs, and a couple of wooden dummies at the far end of the room. Notably, this room has no windows.
[12:38 PM] maquila: I step in then, looking around for a few moments. "I am uncertain how to do spells, other than the microscoping eyeball thing you taught me," I say then. "And you say that is because th Quiescence is gone."
[12:38 PM] zuark: "You will learn," Chromium says, sounding unconcerned.
[12:39 PM] maquila: "Okay," I say then, trusting what he says. "Is your friend the bug lady here?"
[12:43 PM] zuark: "You must mean Eunomos," he says. "Her room is just up here." He walks her down the corridor, around another corner. He passes another bathroom, and then another door, of which he makes no mention.
[12:43 PM] maquila: "What are those?" I ask as we walk past them.
[12:44 PM] zuark: "The girls' bathroom," he says, "and Rose's room."
[12:44 PM] maquila: "Oh," I say, glancing to the girl's bathroom, and the other door. "Who is Rose?"
[12:45 PM] zuark: "A young lady with certain…difficulties," he says. "Depending on the day she can be quite the handful."
[12:45 PM] maquila: I nod my head quietly to that. "What are the difficulties?"
[12:46 PM] zuark: He sighs a bit. "It would be too much to give you a proper explanation now. I would have to settle for a quick and grossly oversimplified description."
[12:47 PM] maquila: "All right," I say. "I will wait until it is time for a proper explanation. You always tell me things and they make sense later, so it makes sense to wait on a proper explanation."
[12:53 PM] zuark: This response seems to please him. He nods and leads her further down the hallway, stopping in front of a door that has a plastic "KEEP OUT" sign over it, along with this: http://l7.alamy.com/zooms/c6f21b3a38f04cfaa65f99b54fd5b4fd/sign-warning-of-poisonous-snakes-and-insects-at-a-rest-area-along-cw5w4w.jpg
[12:54 PM] maquila: Oh good, I pleased Chromium. That makes me feel good. I study this sign for a few moments, consideringly. "Does she stake care of her poisonous snakes and insects?" I ask him, looking up.
[12:56 PM] zuark: "The sign is a bluff," he says. "Eunomos is not permitted to keep poisonous snakes or insects," and he raises his voice slightly and leans toward the door to complete his sentence, "no matter how many times she may ask."
[12:56 PM] maquila: "Oh," I say then, looking toward the door.
[12:58 PM] zuark: There are some clunky footsteps on the other side of the door, and then the door swings open to reveal a girl who looks maybe 12 or 13. She's pretty short, pudgy with chubby, eczema-ridden cheeks, and has a bouncy way about her. All over her body, head to toe, are swarming insects—mostly beetles, at a glance—that buzz and flutter in an aura around her while crawling all over her skin and clothes. A brief look past her reveals that her room is mostly covered in bugs, too—from centipedes and worms to fluttering cicadas, this place seems like a shrine devoted to insects and their care. The only other real fixtures in the room are a bed and a bunch of plants—presumably insect food. The room is also, Marcie can tell from here, kept at a significantly warmer temperature than the rest of the house.
[12:59 PM] zuark: "Hi!" the girl says cheerily. "Are you a new guest?"
[1:00 PM] maquila: I study the bugs for a long moment – this would probably be more shocking to me if they were racoons, but I am used to seeing roaches and scorpions. When we lived in Arizona (Mom hated it) because sometimes scorpions would get in our house at night, and we'd have to use a flashlight and find them and gently trap them and get them out. "Hello," I say to her then. "Yes, I am going to be. I am Lattice."
[1:02 PM] zuark: "Hi, Lattice," she says. "I'm Eunomos." She stands a few feet back from the doorway, rocking on her heels a bit. A roach crawls across her cheek and nose, and she doesn't bat an eye.
[1:02 PM] maquila: "Hi Eunomos," I say then. "Do you have any scorpions?" I pause a beat, and look to Chromium. "Or are those considered too poisonous?"
[1:03 PM] zuark: "I'm not allowed to keep scorpions," she says, with a narrow-eyed glance at Chromium. "Thanks to a certain tattle-tale."
[1:03 PM] zuark: "All of our guests are promised a safe environment," Chromium says, tilting his nose up at her. "Safe."
[1:04 PM] zuark: Eunomos rolls her eyes.
[1:04 PM] maquila: "There used to be scorpions at my house when my family lived in Arizona. We had to pick them up and carry them outside at night," I say.
[1:05 PM] zuark: "Scorpions aren't dangerous," Eunomos says. "They only sting humans in self defense. And anyway, they prefer to kill their prey with force rather than use their venom."
[1:07 PM] maquila: "Oh," I say to that. "I didn't know that. I just know Dad was worried about stepping on them if he needed water at night. I did not mind them." I pause, looking more ominous. "But I don't like raccoons." I look to Chromium. "Are you a tattletale?"
[1:08 PM] zuark: "A deathstalker could easily kill a raccoon," Eunomos says.
[1:08 PM] zuark: Chromium sighs and looks at Marcie. "I am a believer in proper enforcement of rules which are designed for everyone's well-being."
[1:10 PM] maquila: "Is a deathstalker a kind of scorpion?" I ask Eunomos. Then I look at Chromium and nod. "Okay."
[1:11 PM] zuark: "They're the most deadly scorpion," Eunomos says, nodding. "They have a venom that could kill a weak human in one sting."
[1:12 PM] maquila: "Oh," I consider that then. "That is not so bad, then. There are many things out there with deadlier venom. It is no wonder that they would rather rely on force, with that in mind."
[1:13 PM] zuark: "Their venom is more than enough for their prey, and enough to deter any would-be predators," Eunomos says, defensively.
[1:14 PM] maquila: I consider this and then nod. "I suppose that is right. It would bring down what they would want to eat which is the important thing."
[1:14 PM] zuark: She nods firmly.
[1:15 PM] zuark: "Right," Chromium says, "lovely, but we must get on with the tour."  Eunomos moves to step out of the door, saying, "Oh! I could help—" before Chromium cuts her off with a hand gesture. "What did the mistress of the house tell you?"
[1:15 PM] zuark: Eunomos sighs and looks at her feet. "Bugs only in my room," she says quietly.
[1:16 PM] zuark: "Bugs only in your room," Chromium repeats.
[1:16 PM] zuark: "But I'm not done with their playtime," she objects.
[1:16 PM] zuark: Chromium: "Then you shall have to stay."
[1:16 PM] maquila: "Why do you call her mistress of the house? Is that her name?" I ask, thoughtfully, and then I look toward Eunomos and then to Chromium, and then to Eunomos. "Are you allowed to take some with you?"
[1:18 PM] zuark: Eunomos gives a long-suffering sigh. "I only get ONE."
[1:19 PM] maquila: "Oh." I nod then. "In that case, you should ensure they have a good playtime. I will be back." It is important to me to be where I say I will be.
[1:28 PM] zuark: Chromium nods and leads her further along. They circle around back to the front of the house, and he heads for the staircase leading up out of the sitting room.
[1:33 PM] maquila: I move after him then, my head looking this way and that. "Do you live here?" I ask him, looking up to him, moving to the stairs, and then slowly following after him.
[1:34 PM] zuark: "I used to," Chromium says as he ascends the stairs.
[1:34 PM] maquila: "Oh. You don't anymore?" Once we get to the second floor. "Well. Used to implies that."
[1:36 PM] zuark: "Flash took over my old room," he says. "Up here is the library." The stairwell ascends into a wide open room that takes up the entirety of the second floor and is filled with books stuffed neatly onto shelves.
[1:37 PM] maquila: I spin around once we're in the library, my eyes wide. "Wow," I say. "There are a lot of books here." I begin to move slowly along, looking them over. "I've never lived somewhere with a library that wasn't down the street before."
January 14, 2017
[10:58 AM] maquila: -——
[10:59 AM] zuark: "Yes, well," Chromium says, "these are mostly not the sorts of book you will find at your local library. You may read these at your leisure. Come—we've two more floors to see." He takes the stairs further up.
[11:00 AM] maquila: "What? What kind of books are they?" I ask, moving to peek at one before turning and hurrying after him.
[11:01 AM] zuark: "Books about magic," Chromium says.
[11:02 AM] maquila: "I'll be able to read them?" I ask, wide-eyed.
[11:05 AM] zuark: "Yes, of course. So long as you do not show them to Sleepers."
[11:06 AM] maquila: "Yes. Uncle Colt says I must not tell this kinda stuff to reg'lar folks."
[11:08 AM] zuark: "That's right."
[11:08 AM] maquila: I move to the stairs then, and follow him up.
[11:10 AM] zuark: The next floor somewhat resembles the first: hallways around the perimeter which lead to different closed doors. On the center of this floor is a large communal kitchen, which Chromium walks through briefly. "For all your culinary needs," he says, and without further comment moves on.
[11:10 AM] maquila: "I only eat ramen," I half say to myself as I follow after him.(edited)
[11:11 AM] zuark: He eyes her pointedly, and then walks over to one of the pantry cabinets and pulls it open. It's stocked full of ramen. He points also to the stove and to the microwave.
[11:12 AM] maquila: I blink a little wide-eyed at this, and peek over his shoulder. "That's more flavors than I normally get."
[11:12 AM] zuark: "The mistress of the house disdains the stuff," Chromium says. "But Eunomos enjoys it. As does Rose—sometimes."
[11:13 AM] maquila: "I do not know how to cook otherwise," I say. "It is edible and delivers nutrients."(edited)
[11:15 AM] zuark: "That is debatable," he says, but shakes his head and moves on.
[11:16 AM] maquila: I move along after him, my head swiveling left and right.
[11:25 AM] zuark: "Many of the rooms on this floor are empty—reserve rooms for new or for temporary guests. It is likely you will be staying on this floor, if you choose to stay here. I will show you one of the rooms."
[11:26 AM] maquila: "Okay," I say then. "You told me to come here and I could learn and be safe, so I will be staying here."
[11:28 AM] zuark: Chromium walks to one of the doors, and opens it, revealing a room of about the same dimensions as Flash and Eunomos's rooms. It's furnished with a bed, a dresser, and some empty bookshelves, in a neutral color scheme, but is otherwise empty.
[11:29 AM] maquila: "This will be mine?" I ask, glancing inside. "I will bring all my stuff here by bus." I nod my hea then, nodding a few times.
[11:30 AM] zuark: "If you ask the mistress of the house I am sure she would be willing to have a car brought to you for that purpose."
[11:30 AM] zuark: Chromium stands outside the door of the room, letting Marcie poke around in there to her heart's content.
[11:31 AM] maquila: "Oh. Where is she?" I step inside and go – for some reason – peek under the mattress and stick my head under the bed.
[11:32 AM] zuark: There's an empty space under the bed. The mattress is of a high quality.
[11:33 AM] maquila: "I don't see any signs of cameras," I say then, pulling my head out then – and moving to the dresser and the bookshelves to scan them, before I move back out to Chromium.
[11:34 AM] zuark: Chromium furrows his brows. "Why would there be cameras, for god's sake?"
[11:35 AM] maquila: "People are always watching and listening," I say, earnestly. "Especially them, my Mom always said. And Uncle Colt had spells to stop people from tracking him or peekin' in on us."
[11:37 AM] zuark: "If anyone peeks in on you here, it will be Philip," Chromium says. "But he is not so sophisticated as to attempt to install automated surveillance. And if he were to try, he would be severely reprimanded."
[11:38 AM] maquila: "Oh. What about his assassin part?"
[11:39 AM] zuark: "Far cleverer. But he does not surface while he is within the confines of the halfway house."
[11:39 AM] maquila: I nod my head to that and then quietly close my door, making sure I know where it is within the hallway.
[11:42 AM] zuark: He walks further up the hall, passing by a bathroom, which he indicates with a hand gesture, before he comes to a final door at the end. "This is where the mistress of the house lives," he says.
[11:42 AM] maquila: "Oh. Should I ask her for a car?"
[11:44 AM] zuark: "If you like." He walks up to the door. He taps it once with his index finger, and then in a practiced manner he traces a triangle, a circle, and then a square, and then knocks three times firmly with his knuckles.
[11:45 AM] maquila: I watch his finger as he does this. "Why did you trace those shapes?"
[11:46 AM] zuark: "It is a mundra which acts as a key to unlock the door," he says. He grasps the knob and opens it up—revealing an interior to what looks like the living room of an entirely different house.
[11:50 AM] maquila: "So if I did that, it would unlock the—oh," I cut off then, staring wide-eyed through the door. I lean to peer into this other house then, staring around wide-eyed.
[11:53 AM] zuark: It appears that somehow this door leads back to the ground level, as looking out the window reveals a grassy yard. This also appears not to be within the confines of Brooklyn or even New York City proper—definitely it's a suburban area, maybe even rural. The living room is very expensive-looking and very tastefully decorated, arranged in a similar manner to the sitting room she saw down below on the first floor of the halfway house. But there is a large, wide, open staircase that ascends to a second-floor balcony under a twinkling chandelier.
[11:54 AM] maquila: I seem immediately a lot more worried and uncertain about what to do here. Stepping in seems like a bad thing. I knot my hands together in front of me and stand still as a post in the doorway, my eyes wide behind my glasses.
[11:55 AM] zuark: Chromium steps forward, seeming unconcerned. He glances back over his shoulder and waits for Marcie to follow.
[11:55 AM] maquila: I stare at him for a moment, and then shuffle in after him – though I stay a good six inches behind him.
[11:58 AM] zuark: Once they're inside, Chromium stands near the base of the stairs and waits for a long moment, seeming to expect something. And after a while of waiting, Marcie hears a chipper female voice call out from somewhere on the second floor: "Just a minuuuuute!"
[11:59 AM] maquila: I stare wide-eyed up the stairs and look to Chromium. "How'd she know we were here?" I whisper then, as quietly as I can. "You never said anything or made any noise…"
[11:59 AM] zuark: "This is her house," Chromium says quietly, as if that somehow explained things.
[12:00 PM] maquila: "But…but if I didn't hear you talking on the phone then I wouln't have known you were in my house," I say.
[12:03 PM] zuark: He doesn't respond to that—simply waits. A moment later, a blond woman descends the stairs. She's strikingly gorgeous, youthful in body type and demeanor although it's clear she's in her late 30s at a bare minimum. She's well-dressed, but not haughtily so, in a tasteful and winter-appropriate dress with a shawl draped across her shoulders. She lays one hand smoothly on the bannister as she descends, smiling. "Chromium," she says happily, and steps forward to embrace him and kiss his cheek.
[12:04 PM] zuark: "Hello, Trixie," Chromium says, returning the gesture in a reserved way—his cheeks very slightly pinkening.
[12:04 PM] zuark: "How are you?" Trixie says earnestly, taking a step back and searching his face with her eyes. "You look great!"
[12:05 PM] maquila: I feel more nervous now, my stomach twisting. I knot my hands more tightly into my shirt I'm wearing (a giant baggy sweater that Dad used to wear – it's threadbare and made of a lot of colors).  I glance up to Chromium and shuffle just a bit to stay firmly behind him. Trixie.
[12:06 PM] zuark: "I'm well, thank you," Chromium says. He indicates Marcie with a gesture. "This is Lattice."
[12:07 PM] zuark: "Lattice," Trixie repeats with a nod, and sets her eyes on Marcie then. "Hello, Lattice. It's nice to meet you."
[12:09 PM] maquila: "Hi." I say, shuffling a little bit – and then with a quick glance at Chromium and a look back to Trixie, I do what I do best. "Chromium helped me out of a groundhogs day loop and then told me to come to the Halfway House and I would be safe and able to learn there and so I was wondering if I could have a car to load up my stuff at my apartment and bring it there please."
[12:16 PM] zuark: "Absolutely, we can arrange that! We have plenty of spare rooms on the third floor, don't we?" She looks to Chromium for confirmation, who nods, although Marcie gets the sense that Trixie is already well enough aware that she's right. "Good."
[12:17 PM] maquila: Chromium says she's very kind, and she does seem to be at least. I nod my head a few times to that. "He gave me a room by the kitchen," I say then, fidgeting.
[12:18 PM] zuark: "Well," Chromium says, "I indicated a room by the kitchen—if that's all right."
[12:18 PM] zuark: Trixie smiles and nudges Chromium. "Ever precise with words," she says. "Of course it's all right."
[12:21 PM] maquila: "You did not tell me no when I asked if it was to be my room, which is more than indication, I would think…" I say then to Chromium then. Is this another alongside situation. I shuffle a little bit and curl my arms around my middle and look to Trixie. "Thank you."
[12:22 PM] zuark: She can tell at a glance that her response irritates Chromium, but he makes an effort to swallow his objection by plastering a flat smile onto his face.(edited)
[12:23 PM] maquila: I fidget. Do I tell her my address, or is there going to be a driver who I tell my address to…Oh, I will need to tell Louis I am leaving…
[12:30 PM] zuark: Trixie pulls out her phone, and looks at Marcie. "Just tell me where to send my assistant, and I'll make sure someone is available to help you move your things?"
[12:30 PM] maquila: "Okay," I say then, fidgeting. "Um." I rattle off my Brooklyn address then.
[12:33 PM] zuark: Trixie types something into her phone and nods. "Ah," she says, "that's practically up the street, isn't it?"
[12:34 PM] maquila: "Is it? Uncle Colt and I had to ride the bus for a while to get to the house…"
[12:35 PM] zuark: "Considering we are in Oregon right now," Chromium says, "it is quite close, relatively speaking."
[12:36 PM] maquila: "We're in Oregon?" I ask, staring agog at Chromium again – and detaching finally from my spot at his side to go stare out a window.
[12:39 PM] zuark: She sees a really rather rural landscape as she looks out the window—no other houses in immediate eyesight.
[12:39 PM] zuark: "Yes," Chromium says, like this is no big deal.
[12:40 PM] maquila: "How'd we get to Oregon?" I ask then, looking back to the door to the Halfway House.
[12:45 PM] zuark: "My house here is co-located to the Halfway House in New York," Trixie explains. "Anyone who uses the appropriate key mundra will trigger the co-location and allow instantaneous travel between them."
[12:46 PM] maquila: "Chromium had mentioned the key. I thought it just unlocked the door – and then I saw this was rather big but I thought perhaps New York Suburbs. It did not enter my mind to question further until the statement of Oregon came into being." I look around a little bit. "Oh," I say a moment later of co-location. Not that I know what that is.
[12:47 PM] zuark: "I like to keep my house outside of New York City, ever since…well." Trixie smiles and shakes her head. "Let's just say that I like to live a little off the beaten path."
[12:48 PM] maquila: "Ever since…?" I ask then, and then nod my head. "It's for the best, anyway. It is much harder for people to watch you surrepticiously if you are off the beaten path."
[12:53 PM] zuark: Trixie smiles. "Something like that," she says. "Well, is there anything else I can help you with? I don't want to delay your settling in."
[12:54 PM] maquila: "No, thank you," I say and – like a magnet attaching to a fridge – attach to Chromium's side again.
[12:54 PM] maquila: "Do we do the symbols to get back?" I ask, glancing to the door.
[12:55 PM] zuark: Trixie nods. "The key works both ways," she says. "Let me give you my phone number. If there's anything else you need, don't hesitate to ask me, or Chromium."
[12:56 PM] maquila: "May I do them?" I ask Chromium then, and then turn to look to Trixie, shuffling slowly to get my phone out. "Okay," I say then.
[12:58 PM] zuark: Trixie gives Marcie her phone number. It has a New York City area code.
[12:58 PM] maquila: I take it down carefully in my phone. Contact information: Trixie. MistressofHouse.
[12:58 PM] maquila: I also carefully add Uncle Gregs while I'm thinking of it. I store him under Uncle Colt.
[1:04 PM] maquila: "Okay, I have it down." I fidget a bit, and then turn to move to the door.  I stare at it, tap it once with my index finger, and then trace a triangle, a circle, and then the square, and knock three times with my knuckles. I pause a beat afterward, and then try the door.
[1:06 PM] zuark: Opening the door reveals the hallway on the third floor of the halfway house.
[1:06 PM] maquila: "Oh," I say. "I did it." I look over my shoulder to Chromium and Trixie.
[1:07 PM] zuark: Trixie nods and gives her an encouraging smile. "See you again soon," she says.
[1:08 PM] zuark: Chromium moves to follow.
[1:08 PM] maquila: Soon..I step out into the hallway then, waiting on Chromium to get out, and looking up. "Is the floor above the room where you do rituals?"
[1:14 PM] zuark: "It is," Chromium says. "Would you like to see it?"
[1:14 PM] maquila: "Yes, please."
[1:15 PM] zuark: He nods and escorts Marcie to the stairs, heading up.
[1:18 PM] maquila: I follow after him then, shuffling quickly up the stairs and looking around.
[1:22 PM] zuark: The top floor is nestled just under the cone-shaped roof, and is more of an attic than a proper floor. But stepping into it makes her feel a bit weird—not in a bad way, but rather like she's stepping into a zone of infinite, or at least increased, possibility. As she reaches the top floor, she starts feeling like she's hearing whispers in the corners, gentle voices telling her stories about the past and the future, things that are just barely on the edge of her comprehension.
[1:23 PM] zuark: At the center of the room, there's what seems to be a prepared space, a circle inlaid in the floor not unlike the circle she saw in the room with the timecube. Off to the side, there are some shelves and racks, containing a variety of knick-knacks: candles, cups, mirrors, lots of stereotypically-magicky looking odds and ends.
[1:24 PM] maquila: "It feels weird up here," I whisper then, pausing and turning my head to listen to something. I shuffle, listening as hard as I can and trying to understand what is being said. I stare for a beat and look to the circle on the floor, and then to the candles and cups and briefly poke through looking for chalk.
[1:27 PM] zuark: "This is a Desmesne," Chromium says. "It is a special place where magic is more powerful."
[1:27 PM] zuark: There is, of course, plenty of chalk.
[1:31 PM] maquila: "Oh," I say then. "Do you always hear people talking that you can't quite make out? This is where you cast the spell and go back to yesterday."
[1:36 PM] zuark: "Yes," Chromium says. "This Desmesne is attuned to Arcadia, so that Time spells cast here are easier and stronger in effect."
[1:37 PM] maquila: "That makes sense. Will I learn how to cast Time spells here?"
[1:40 PM] maquila: "Or will that be downstairs in the room with the dummies with the…with the …targets on them?"
[1:42 PM] zuark: "Depends on the spell," Chromium says.
[1:44 PM] maquila: "Oh," I say to that. "Should I tell you what you need to o when you go back?"
[1:45 PM] zuark: "Yes."
[1:48 PM] maquila: "Okay. You go back. As I am walking down the street, you say '427' to me. I do not know what this means. The next day,  I hear shouting that 427 is they keys' numbr you are the one telling me that."'
[1:53 PM] maquila: "And. And you say it is on the key that I found. It is rubbed away." I nod. "And most everything else you seem to figure out as you go as I do…"
[1:54 PM] zuark: Chromium nods. "That will be sufficient to get me started. When am I traveling to exactly
-yesterday morning?"
[1:54 PM] maquila: "I wake up at 12:08PM." I nod my head once that way.
[1:55 PM] zuark: "I see. That should not be terribly difficult for me—but the spell will take some time for me to cast, and I suspect that while it will appear like a relatively short time to you, it will be quite longer for me."
[1:56 PM] maquila: "Yes," I say. "I go through a great many fwimbles." I nod my head a few times. "At least," I consider in my head and count on my fingers. "At least twenty."
[1:57 PM] zuark: He tilts his head. "Fwimbles?"
[1:57 PM] maquila: "Yes. You will understand," I wave my hand. "We had arguments about words."
[1:58 PM] zuark: "I see."
[1:58 PM] zuark: "Is there anything else I should know before I proceed?"
[1:59 PM] maquila: I consider this for a long drawn out moment. "Um." I consider. I open my mouth to warn him he does not like the healthilicious, then close my mouth because no, I tell him that in the past. "I first bump into you outside a panini shop." And I inform him of the name.
[2:08 PM] maquila: "Oh. The key is to a safety deposit box." I hold up a finger.
[2:09 PM] zuark: He nods. "That is useful information. Thank you. If there is nothing else, I will proceed."
[2:09 PM] maquila: "Okay. I will go get moved. See you when you are done," I say to him then, and turn to shuffle off down the stairs, quietly heading for the front door so I can go and meet th car to get everything brought back here.
[2:20 PM] zuark: Outside, after waiting a short while, a car pulls up with a U-Haul trailer attached to it. In the driver's seat is a well-dressed young man, broad-shouldered and slightly pot-bellied, with short-cropped dark hair and eyes just a little too close together. He looks like a dork who is trying his best to appear prim and professional.
[2:21 PM] maquila: Oh,  that must be the person who is going to help me. I duck down and peek in. "Hello," I say. "I'm Lattice. Are you the one Trixie sent?"
[2:22 PM] zuark: "Good afternoon," he says. "Yeah—um, yes—I'm Rowan. Nice to meet you."
[2:22 PM] maquila: "Hello," I say again. I turn to head in to my apartment.
[2:24 PM] zuark: Rowan gets out of the car and follows Marcie inside.
[2:24 PM] zuark: "I'll just—help you carry your things?" he asks.
[2:25 PM] maquila: I stare at him blankly for a moment, and then nod my head a few times. Most of my things are – fortunately – already in boxes since I hadn't unpacked from the move. I go and gather several things to put them away into the boxes, but I keep two important things out – both Jellybean and the Cock Lamp. I put them in the front seat, where I will ride next to Rowan.
[2:27 PM] maquila: Everything else I load As Usual, not seeming especially concerned.
[2:28 PM] zuark: It takes some time to carry all the boxes into the U-Haul, but there's room for whatever she wants to take.
[2:28 PM] maquila: I takee most of my stuff, and then go knock on Louis' door.
[2:30 PM] zuark: Louis comes to the door after a few moments. "Oh, hey," he says. "Hi, Marcie."
[2:31 PM] maquila: "Hi. I am moving into a new home that will help me learn so I am leaving, I have gotten almost evereything out. Thank you, have a pleasant day." I gently press the key into his hand and without further ado, turn to wander to the car.
[2:31 PM] zuark: "…Okay," Louis says.
[2:32 PM] zuark: "You need to sign the release," he calls after her, "and I'll have to keep your deposit!"
[2:33 PM] maquila: "Okay," I say. "I will sign it later. Text me with the time. Thank you." I climb into the passenger seat and gently put the cock lamp between my feet and arrange Jellybean on my lap. To Rowan: "Do you have scissors?"
[2:33 PM] zuark: Rowan glances a little worriedly at the cock lamp. "I—not on me right now," he says. "I can get you a pair?"
[2:36 PM] maquila: "No, it is okay. I will wait until we are back at the halfway house." I gently squeeze Jellybean and look to the cock lamp. "What's wrong?"
[2:39 PM] zuark: "No, nothing," Rowan says, shaking his head as he starts to make the drive back to the halfway house.
[2:40 PM] maquila: "My dad called this," I say with dramatic tension – and a strange sense of timing considering I have rarely shown a sense of humor. "The cock lamp."
[2:41 PM] zuark: "I—can see why," Rowan says, nodding.
[2:43 PM] maquila: "Yes." I nod my head a few times.  "It is my favorite lamp." I touch it. "And this," I say lifting up Jellybean. "This, is Jellybean."
[2:45 PM] zuark: "Looks like you've had Jellybean for a long time," he says.
[2:45 PM] maquila: "Yes." I say. "And he has a cube in his belly which is what I will be using the scissors to get out."
[2:45 PM] zuark: "…I see," Rowan says.
[2:46 PM] maquila: "Do you want to feel it?"
[2:50 PM] maquila: I poke gently at Jellybean's belly, and then proffer it toward him for feeling.
[2:52 PM] zuark: "Thanks," Rowan says, "maybe after I'm—done driving."
[2:53 PM] maquila: "Oh," I say. "Okay." I put Jellybean back down on my lap. "I got him for Christmas when I was little."
[2:57 PM] zuark: Rowan makes the drive back to the halfway house rather faster than the bus would make the same trip. He pulls up at the curb outside. "Okay," he says. "Let's get you loaded in, then…"
[2:58 PM] maquila: "Okay. I am on the third floor," I say then, climbing out. I very carefully pick up the cock lamp and Jellybean. These are apparently what I want to take on my first trip, as I deem them most important. I shuffle inside and head up the stiars.
[2:59 PM] zuark: Rowan gathers up a couple of boxes and shuffles after her, grunting as he pushes through the doors and up the stairs. "Third floor," he mutters under his breath.
[3:00 PM] maquila: I get up to the third floor and open the door that Chromium said was mine near to the kitchen. I hold it open for Rowan, and then move to carefully arrange Jellybean on the bed and the cock lamp on the bedside table, adjusting both several times.(edited)
[3:02 PM] zuark: Rowan carefully lays the boxes down on the floor a few feet inside the door, and then goes to trudge back out to the car.
[3:02 PM] maquila: I follow after him, slowly. "I will see if Phil," he's the only other one I really know, "will help carry things." I shuffle to Phil's door.
[3:04 PM] maquila: Knock knock.
[3:08 PM] zuark: The door opens, and Phil is standing there in his boxer shorts, leering.
[3:08 PM] maquila: "Hello," I say. "Will you help Rowan and I carry my things to my room?"
[3:08 PM] zuark: "Hey, sexy," he says. "You gonna do something for me?"
[3:09 PM] maquila: "Do something?" I ask then, squinting. "I will also be actively participating and carrying the boxes up to the third floor apartment yes." That is actively doing something.
[3:10 PM] zuark: "I mean something for me," Phil says. "Huhuhuhuh."
[3:11 PM] zuark: Rowan moves back to the car, doing his best to ignore Phil.
[3:12 PM] maquila: "I suppose," I say then, moving for the car after Rowan then to pick up the box containing the N-Power magazines.
[3:17 PM] zuark: "Yeah?" Phil raises his eyebrows, seeming surpsied by her response, and now intrigued, he trails after her, laughing in his pervy way. "Huhuhuhuh…"
[3:17 PM] zuark: When he encounters Rowan in the doorway, the driver sighs and says, "You could at least put a shirt and some pants on."
[3:17 PM] zuark: Phil says, "Not gonna need 'em soon," and steps past him, heading out to the car. "I'm getting laid right after this…"
[3:19 PM] maquila: Getting laid. I believe that is a synonym phrase for intercourse. I thump the box of N-Power magazines (and other junk) into Phil's arms, and pick up a different box. "I did not mean intercourse," I say, moving for the steps, climbing up, and wandering insie to head to the third floor.
[3:20 PM] zuark: "Oh," Phil says, disappointed. He stops moving right then and there, standing in the doorway—and getting in Rowan's way, to the driver's consternation. "Oral?"
[3:21 PM] maquila: "…Oral?" I ask then, from the stairway. I have a brief nightmarish flash to when we were in Milkwaukee and I had to give an oral presentation and ended up mumbling through it. "…Oral what."(edited)
[3:24 PM] zuark: "…Oral sex," Phil says, with an unspoken tone of duh.
[3:25 PM] zuark: Rowan stands in the doorway with the boxes, trying to edge past Phil. Phil is in the way.
[3:25 PM] maquila: "I do not know why I would do that. When you implied do something I supposed a later favor…"
[3:25 PM] zuark: "Yeah," Phil says, "a sexual favor."
[3:26 PM] maquila: "I am not sure I am comfortable with that," I say then, resolutely.
[3:29 PM] zuark: Phil mutters sourly, "Wasting my time, then," as he trudges back to his room irritably.
[3:30 PM] zuark: Rowan sighs and pushes forward, heading up the stairs with the next load of boxes.
[3:30 PM] maquila: I carry my box up the stairs then, and gently settle it down. "Thank you for carrying my many-things," I inform Rowan, even as I move to head back down the stairs.  "When I moved, I did this all by myself."
[3:34 PM] zuark: Rowan nods, huffing and puffing as he carries yet more boxes up three flights of stairs.
[3:34 PM] maquila: I help him too – though after three boxes or so, I just sit down on the stairs then, silently. "THis is very hard up three flights of stairs," I say to Rowan then.
[3:39 PM] maquila: "If mages do not live here," I ask Rowan – after I catch my breath and slowly push to my feet. "Where do they live? Oregon?"
[3:39 PM] maquila: "Oregon and Texas?"
[3:42 PM] zuark: "Huh?" Rowan says. "Lots of them live here…"
[3:43 PM] maquila: "Oh." I say then. "I was not aware." I slowly totter to my feet and move back to the U-Haul. "Where do they live?"
[3:47 PM] maquila: "Do you also nejoy Time magic? I think it will be what I enjoy learning the most."
[3:47 PM] zuark: "All over," Rowan says.
[3:48 PM] zuark: "I—don't have any magic," Rowan says. "But Trixie is fond of it…"
[3:48 PM] maquila: "Oh," I say and pause. "…So am I allowed to talk to you about magic…?"
[3:49 PM] zuark: "Yes," Rowan says. "I'm what's called a Sleepwalker. I'm like a Sleeper, regular person I mean, but I'm not affected by the Quiescence. So it's safe to talk about these things with me or cast spells in front of me."
[3:50 PM] maquila: I consider this explanation as I load up another box, wait for him to do so, and then wander it upstairs. "Okay. Uncle Colt had told me to not talk about reg'lar folk about this sorta things and I was trying not to. So you are okay. That is good."
[4:08 PM] maquila: "Do you need a breather?" I ask him doubtfully, since I did.
[4:09 PM] zuark: "After this run I'll take a break," Rowan says. "Thanks."
[4:10 PM] maquila: "All right," I say, and slowly rise up to get another box and carry it up the stairs. I put it own, and the begin carefully removing things from boxes, putting my large number of conspiracy and monster books on the wall, getting things delicately hung on the wall, and making my bed with my sheets.
[4:10 PM] zuark: Rowan sets down his boxes and breathes a bit. "I will just be getting a drink from the kitchen," he says, and veers off that way.
[4:11 PM] maquila: "Okay," I say. Once my bed is made, I settle Jellybean on it. I pause, and touch his belly, and then go and get a knife and come back to gently open Jellybean's belly.
[4:13 PM] zuark: The little timecube is in there—a small square about the size and shape of a die, but heavier, and made with a metal like polished silver, carved with tiny golden runes.
[4:14 PM] maquila: I take it then, carefully in my hands. I roll it in my fingers and then lightly touch Jellybean's belly.  I will have to find sewing stuff.  I rise up and then dig through boxes looking for string to delicately wrap it around the cube to put it around my neck.
[4:16 PM] zuark: Without Crafts, Marcie doesn't really have a great intuition for how to get a cube that doesn't have an obvious drill-hole for a string or anything around her neck. She ties some string around it, knotting it, and that'll serve for now, but it's awkward and a little unstable. Could break or fall out.
[4:16 PM] maquila: Hmm. I carefully put it down for now then. I settle it next to the cock lamp.
[4:16 PM] zuark: Okay.
[4:16 PM] zuark: There's sewing stuff around.
[4:17 PM] maquila: I awkwardly and clumsily sew Jellybean's belly up.
[4:19 PM] maquila: I probably use way too much thread to do it, an repeat the same move far too many times so he ends up with something of a belly button – a thing dinosaurs frankly did not have as that ias a mammalian trait – but I cut the string and tie it off.
[4:23 PM] zuark: Around that time, she hears Rowan going downstairs for another run.
[4:24 PM] maquila: I lift up Jellybean and kiss his nose, and then move quickly after Rowan. "Hello," I say, despite him knowing I am there. "Do you know  how to make things into necklaces."
[4:26 PM] zuark: "I—don't have any experience with that, no," Rowan says.
[4:26 PM] zuark: "Maybe talk with Chromium? I know that he is a student of Matter magic."
[4:27 PM] maquila: "He is busy right now going back in time to help me ensure I can come here today." I nod my head. "I will ask him after his nap, yes."
[4:28 PM] zuark: Rowan nods and keeps hauling boxes. The moving and unpacking process takes a few hours, all told, after which a sweaty Rowan wipes his brow, gets another drink from the kitchen, and then looks about ready to leave. "Okay," he says. "You're all set."
[4:28 PM] maquila: "Okay," I say. "Thank you, Rowan. You are an appreciable mover." Marcie: Queen of Compliments!
[4:31 PM] maquila: I get my computer set up. I connect it to the wall, and make sure it's good to go. I get my books undone. I get clothes (half mine, half clothing I took of Mom and Dad's) and put them in the dresser. I actively actually empty the boxes this time, hanging things on the wall.
[4:33 PM] maquila: I then wander around into the kitchen, and make myself some ramen, and stare at the stairs. I wonder when Christopher will be here.
[4:36 PM] zuark: While she's making ramen, Christopher descends the stairs, looking a bit tired.
[4:37 PM] maquila: I perk up then, visibly brightening as soon as I see him – the microwave heading down to 1 minute and 27 seconsd remaining. "You did it!" This is some very rarely noted Marcie excitement.
[4:38 PM] zuark: Chromium smiles a bit as he enters the room. "It would seem so," he says. "And you've arrived."
[4:38 PM] maquila: "Yes. Rowan and I got everything moved into my room," I turn to look toward it and back. "And Phil was going to help, but he requested oral sex, so I declined."
[4:39 PM] zuark: He scrunches up his face irritably at that. "Please do not ask Phil for any favors in the future," he says. "He always reacts that way."
[4:40 PM] maquila: "Oh. All right…" I hold up a hand. "Wait please." And then I disappear into my room, and come back out with the mini cube. "Do you know how to make this into a necklace?"
[4:41 PM] zuark: "Yes," he says, sighing a bit. "Do you have a chain?"
[4:48 PM] maquila: "I have a string," I say then. I eye him a beat, and then tuck it away. "But not today. You need your well-deserved nap."
[4:50 PM] maquila: "My apologies, you are tired." BEEP BEEP BEEP! goes the microwave – and I flail and go to gently remove my ramen from it.
[4:51 PM] zuark: "Yes," Chromium says, "thank you. Get yourself a chain that you'd like to wear around your neck, and I will set it for you next time I see you."
[4:51 PM] maquila: "When will I see you next time?"
[4:52 PM] zuark: He tilts his head. "When would you like?"
[4:53 PM] maquila: I hesitate. "How long is your nap going to be?"
[4:56 PM] maquila: "No," I say then, half to myself, half to him. "In the morning? Make your nap a sleep. You helped me through twenty fwimbles, easily."
[4:57 PM] zuark: Chromium nods a bit, looking relieved. "Right," he says. "I will see you in the morning. How does nine o'clock sound?"
[4:58 PM] maquila: "Nine o'clock in the morning," I say with a nod. "I will meet you here." I mimic him then, pointing right down to where I am sitting.
[5:00 PM] zuark: He glances down at the floor where she points, and nods tiredly. "Very good."
[5:00 PM] maquila: "Okay," I say then, fidgeting. "I will see you tomorrow morning. Sleep well."
[5:00 PM] zuark: He nods again. "Have you settled in all right?"
[5:01 PM] maquila: "I have gotten my room set up." I turn to look at it. "Mostly. I was going to eat my ramen and wait on you and then go to read in the library. Now I am adding going to get a chain to the list."
[5:03 PM] zuark: "The room I showed you?" He points in that direction.
[5:05 PM] maquila: "Yes." I nod.
[5:07 PM] maquila: I stand up then – leaving my ramen out for now since it needs to cool anyway – and walking toward the door to open it. There are still boxes out, but the rest of the room is set up. The cocklamp is on, and glowing, the bookshelves are filled with my conspiracy books, my computer is set up, my sheets are on (they are paisley), and I have delicately hung up the pictures I ripped out of the Nintendo Power magazine of the cubes.
[5:10 PM] zuark: It's strange to be settling into a new place—especially after all the times she's repeated December 5th. But there's a kind of easy calm to it, now. Marcie feels good!
[5:10 PM] maquila: I like it being December 6th. I am used to moving too – we moved all the time, this is very similar to that. I look inside for a moment, and then turn to look back to Chromium.
[5:12 PM] zuark: Chromium followed her to the doorway, but then just leaned on it and watched her a bit. "All right," he says. "Good that you're all settled. I'll be off, then."
[5:12 PM] maquila: "Okay," I say then. "Sleep well." I pause a bit, fidget, staring at him. "ThankyouChromium."
[5:13 PM] zuark: "You're welcome, Lattice."
[5:13 PM] zuark: With that, he turns and leaves.


pt. 16 Hanging Out with Unca Greg
Best question answerer.

[10:49 PM] maquila: Marcie walks into the wing shop, quietly approaches the counter, and stares. "Damien, what do you think is the kind of food that cowboys would like?"
[10:56 PM] zuark: The guy gives Marcie a kind of bewildered look. "Huh? Cowboys?"
[10:56 PM] maquila: "Yes." I nod then. "You have many flavors of wing sauce. What kind would a cowboy enjoy the most?"
[10:59 PM] zuark: He opens his mouth like he's going to protest or object, but then he seems to change his mind, and shows her the menu. He taps the smoky BBQ flavor option. "Prolly this one," he says.
[11:00 PM] maquila: I study this for a long moment. Hm. Cowboys do notoriously like barbecue, and they are often out on plains…roping …cattle and with fire and smoke. "Yes." I say then, and stare back up at him. "Twelve of those and twelve…honey mustard." I then pay, quietly, and shuffle to the side, and awkwardly just stand and stare at him until everything is finished.
[11:03 PM] zuark: Dameon seems mostly to avoid looking at Marcie while she's waiting. Ten minutes later or so, her wings are ready.
[11:04 PM] maquila: I take the wings. I shuffle to the nearest corner store on my way back to my apartment, buy a can of beans, and then head back to my apartment. Once inside, I put the wings down and slowly begin stirring the beans until they are hot. There. I have made dinner for when Uncle Greg is here.
[11:12 PM] zuark: A little while later there's a knock on her apartment door.
[11:12 PM] maquila: I move to my apartment door and peek through the hole.
[11:12 PM] zuark: It's Uncle Greg.
[11:13 PM] maquila: I open the door then. "I got you the most cowboy food I could think of to eat for dinner." And then I shuffle out of the way. I'm silent for the moment, fidgeting, and then: "What happened with Mr. White?"
[11:13 PM] zuark: He walks inside, his heavy boots thunking. "He won't be botherin' you no more," he says.
[11:14 PM] maquila: "Okay," I say and move to close the door then, and lock it behind him. I move to get his wings on a plate unceremoniously and add beans to the side, presenting it to him. "The Lattice of Hours is part of my soul now," I inform him. "So I don't think you can take it with you."
[11:15 PM] zuark: He sits down heavily. 'That so." He looks up and over at her, squinting a moment.
[11:17 PM] maquila: "Yes." I think he is doing that eyeball thing. I wonder if Uncle Greg has time distortions. Before I get my own wings and beans, I pause in silence and squint at him – trying to microscope my eyes in, like Christopher had me do with the swirlies and the sink.
[11:37 PM] zuark: Marcie doesn't see any swirlies. She does see some kind of…fuzzies, lurking around him, like over-large dust motes clinging to Uncle Greg in various places, twitching and writhing like blurry baseballs of fuzz. She has no idea what those things are.
[11:38 PM] maquila: I furrow my brow a little bit. "Christopher had swirlies. You have…fuzzies. What are those?"
[11:38 PM] zuark: Uncle Greg stares at her flatly for a moment, not seeming to comprehend. Then it seems to dawn on him. "Reckon you're seein' spells," he says.
[11:41 PM] maquila: I get my chicken wings then and my beans, and move to sit down on the floor next to the table he puts his feet on. I put my plate down, and sit in front of them. "Spells," I say. "Christopher had me squint at his swirlies, and I saw he was doing something to let him travel from tomorrow."
[11:45 PM] zuark: "Uh huh," he says.
[11:46 PM] maquila: "He gave me an address to go to tomorrow." I poke at the beans and then steadily begin to eat them and then stare back up at him.
[11:46 PM] zuark: "That what ya wanna do?"
[11:47 PM] maquila: "I told Christopher I'd go there," I say then. "Christopher said they would teach me more and keep me safe. I don't know why or what it means, but normally things he says make sense later."
[11:50 PM] zuark: He nods.  "Could come with me instead," he says. "Ain't an easy life. But I owe it to ya to offer."
[11:53 PM] maquila: "Oh," I say. "I don't know what that means, but I told Christopher I would go there tomorrow, and so I should go there. I don't like it when people don't show up when they say they will, and I think I should make sure that I am where I will say I will be."
[11:58 PM] zuark: He nods again, as he takes a few moments to eat a wing.
[11:58 PM] zuark: "Reckon that's for the best, anyway," he says finally.
[11:59 PM] maquila: I take another bite of wings, eyeing his jeans for a moment. Then I look back up to him. "What's Texas like?"
January 13, 2017
[12:02 AM] maquila: "Where'd you get your hat?" I add a few moments later.
[12:04 AM] zuark: "Hot," he says, in answer to the first question. "Texas," he says, in answer to the second.
[12:04 AM] maquila: "What spells do you have on?" My questions very clearly have an order. I slowly put down my spoon and pick up a wing to carefully eat it.
[12:06 AM] zuark: "I'm makin' it harder for people like Mr. White to track me," he says. "An' I'm keepin' an eye out 'case they try an' peek in on us."
[12:07 AM] maquila: I'm very careful about eating my wing, trying to not get the sauce on me…despite this being near impossible…and then put the bone down when I am finished. I take a few moments, chew, then swallow. "Oh," I say, and look up and around. "Is that like the eye thing where you look really hard?"
[12:10 AM] zuark: "Sorta."
12:10 AM] zuark: Uncle Greg: best question answerer.
[12:11 AM] maquila: I open my mouth to protest this answer, and then remember when Christopher said sorta and it made snese later. I close my mouth, consider, and then accept this.  I pick up a wing then, holding it delicately in my fingers, and begin to eat that. "Christopher said you're a legend."
[12:13 AM] zuark: He doesn't say anything in response to this—just eats beans.
[12:15 AM] maquila: "Did you know Christopher?" I ask, and finish my wing, and then eye him. "Did Dameon choose a good wing sauce?"
[12:17 AM] zuark: "Didn't know 'im 'til today," he says. "Wings're fine."
[12:18 AM] maquila: I nod my head to that, thoughtfully. I carefully wipe my hands off with a wet nap. "When I was in Arcadia I heard your voice."(edited)
[12:19 AM] zuark: "Did ya."
[12:22 AM] maquila: "Yeah. A statue lady used your voice."  I finish delicately wiping off my fingers, and then fold the wetnap and put it aside.  "You said End o' the line li'l lady,' and then the statue lady spoke in Christopher's voice.  And then the statue lady spoke to me about the Lattice."
[12:23 AM] zuark: "Innerestin'."
[12:25 AM] maquila: "I was super old," I say then and slowly stand up. I move to open the fridge. "What do you want to drink?"
[12:26 AM] zuark: "Could go fer a beer."
[12:27 AM] maquila: I open the fridge. I stare in it for a moment, and then I manage to slowly and carefully pull out a bottle of beer that Dad had left in the fridge. It's one of those super hipster beers, I bet. That seems like what Dad would like. I carefully pop the top, and move to go and hand it to him.
[12:31 AM] maquila: I don't know why I saved it. I don't drink… I guess because looking in and seeing it made me think perhaps Dad would come home.
[12:32 AM] zuark: Uncle Greg takes the bottle, pops the top, and samples it. "Not bad."
[12:33 AM] maquila: "Dad drank that kind," I say. "He had had three bottles of it when we went to the thrift store and he bought the cocklamp." I move to settle on the couch.
[12:34 AM] zuark: "Uh huh."
[12:35 AM] maquila: "Did Dad do spell stuff?"
[12:37 AM] zuark: He makes a vaguely affirmative noise.
[12:38 AM] maquila: I nod my head to that, thoughtfully.  "Did Mom?"
[12:39 AM] zuark: He makes a slightly more begrudgingly affirmative noise.
[12:40 AM] maquila: "Dad once called you taciturn," I say then. "I like that word. I like how it sounds." I'm silent a beat, fidgeting. "He also said to trust you for all you've done, and I don't know what you have done other than you are a legend, but I trust you."
[12:40 AM] zuark: He takes a sip of his beer.
[12:41 AM] maquila: "Oh." I say then, and abruptly stand up and go get my phone. I dial work.
[12:41 AM] zuark: Jason picks up with the usual greeting.
[12:42 AM] maquila: "Hi Jason. I cannot come into work tonight."
[12:42 AM] zuark: "Far out," Jason says. "What's wrong, Marcie-Darcy? You sick?"
[12:45 AM] maquila: "No," I say then. "I am still not written by Jane Austen, thank you. I traveled to a far off land and nearly got crushed by a falling tower and then had to make a very hard choice that makes my stomach hurt and had a Timecube I told you about several days ago – though you do not remember it, for it was another December 5th  and I suppose not actually 'ago' though that is a conversation for another time – put into my soul and was informed that eyeballs would be carving it out and am now eating beans with my cowboy uncle. It has been a very long many-December 5th." Jason understands these things.
[12:47 AM] zuark: Marcie notices that, the more she tells Jason on the phone, the more intensely Uncle Greg is staring at her.
[12:47 AM] maquila: I blink and stare at Uncle Greg.
[12:47 AM] maquila: Probably about "had a-"
[12:47 AM] zuark: "Whoooaaaa," Jason says.
[12:48 AM] zuark: "Sounds like a bad trip, man," Jason says. "Hey, it's a shame you're not comin' in, I scored this killer cheeba…"
[12:49 AM] maquila: "It's okay, Jason," I say then. "I am not interested in the marijuana, thank you."
[12:49 AM] zuark: Slowly, Uncle Greg reaches out and takes the phone from Marcie.
[12:49 AM] maquila: I blink as he does that, and then stare at him as he does this, and then stare at my phone.
[12:49 AM] zuark: He takes it, clicks the button to end the call, and then sets it down on the table.
[12:49 AM] zuark: "Y'can't talk about this stuff to regular folks."
[12:50 AM] maquila: "Oh. I have told Jason about it when fwimbling previously. He normally replies with an anecdote involving marijuana and very attractive half-animal women."
[12:53 AM] zuark: "Y'can't talk about this stuff to regular folks," Uncle Greg repeats.(edited)
[12:53 AM] maquila: "Okay," I say then.
[12:55 AM] maquila: I'm silent a moment and then move to sit down again. "Why do you think Christopher called me Lattice in Arcadia?"
[12:57 AM] zuark: He shrugs a shoulder. "If ya soaked up the Lattice."
[12:58 AM] maquila: "Oh." I say. "If I get the address will you go with me to this place so I can see what it is like?"
[12:59 AM] zuark: "Reckon it's the least I could do."
[1:00 AM] maquila: I nod my head and get to my feet again, moving into my bedroom then. I very carefully turn off the cock lamp, I make sure Jellybean is okay (giving him a kiss on the nose), and then pick up the address, moving back out to Uncle Greg.
[1:10 AM] maquila: "This is the address." I say to him, and then study it carefully. "We will need to take the bus to get there."
[1:12 AM] zuark: "Bus," Uncle Greg says, as he looks the address note over. "Right."
[1:13 AM] maquila: I pick up my bag. I carefully move my plate to the kitchen so I can store it later. (I eat like a bird). I move for the door and carefully lock it behind Uncle Greg and I. I move outside, and move to the bus stop.
[1:27 AM] maquila: When it arrives, I climb on the bus, and sit next to Uncle Greg and quietly study the address.


pt. 15 Awakening part 2
Walk forward, Jellybean.

[10:08 AM] zuark: Roll Wits + Comp.
[10:10 AM] maquila: Wits 2 + Comp 3 = 5
[10:10 AM] maquila: Fail.
[10:12 AM] zuark: The landscape is overwhelming. She feels at once like she's in some kind of jungle rainforest and yet at the same time like she's inhabiting the ancient ruins of a high-tech civilization long past. In the distance, on the horizon, another tower catches her eye: one of gleaming silver and brilliant thorns that seem to light up the night sky. When did it become night? Marcie supposes it did when she activated the cube.
[10:15 AM] maquila: I feel overwhelmed for a moment, and freeze like I do when I'm in a crowd, or when there are too many people, or when things just give me too much input to deal with. I take a few moments to focus, studying – and then notice that gleaming silver tower, my eyes wide. I stare up at it for a moment, and clutch the Timecube in my hands. I start walking slowly and quietly to the tower. Christopher is normally here if I need him. My stomach twists. But if he is not here, then it is a good reason.
[10:16 AM] zuark: She has to skirt around the fallen ruins of the old tower—the one that fell apart after she fell from it. It still barely feels real. Did that actually happen? Where the hell IS she?
[10:21 AM] maquila: And…how did I fall from so high and not get hurt? I fell into thorns, and they caught me, and slowed me down, but – how were they just…I mean, I got kind of lucky, and kind of not lucky. I shuffle a bit and pause to look up again. I don't know where I am – I feel a little nervous. "Christopher?" I ask again. "Uncle Greg?" That tower IS the brightest place, so logically, it's the place I should go, because if they're here they'll meet me there.
[10:28 AM] zuark: Her voice rings out, but she receives no reply. Past the ruins of the tower, she approaches a precipice, where the thorny vines clear away and she has a full view to the landscape beyond. The earth slopes down into a ravine, which is permeated through by glistening, babbling brooks, networks of thorny vines, and, here and there, a glimmer of a shining road, or maybe the rooftops of long-buried buildings, silver and shimmering. As the chaos of the fall and the pounding of her own heartbeat fade away she's aware that the place is teeming with the gentle thrumming of what sounds like insect life—though it isn't anything like life she's ever heard before.
[10:34 AM] maquila: Oh – wow. This is…pretty. I stand for a moment on the precipice – this is …kind of scary, looking over the edge of it, but it's not as scary as I thought it would be.  I look into the ravine then, I look at those shining gleaming brooks, at the vines, and then stare wide-eyed at the far off road.  I tilt my head then, wide-eyed. Bugs? I spin a little, looking around for where they're hiding.
[10:36 AM] zuark: Everywhere and nowhere.
[10:37 AM] maquila: That's strange. I stand for a moment – and then carefully look around for a way down the side of the precipice.
[10:39 AM] zuark: It's steep, but not so steep that she can't (carefully) walk down.
[10:40 AM] zuark: Probably a one-way trip, though.
[10:40 AM] maquila: Well. That seems okay. There is nothing up here for me, and if I need to come back, I can find a way. I start very carefully shuffling down.
[10:44 AM] zuark: It takes surprisingly little time to reach the bottom. The world has begun to take on a certain dream-like quality—like a film cut to save time, or a dream flitting from sequence to sequence. She's at the bottom before she knows it, as if no time is passed at all. Her ankle is mildly twisted, and she has a few light scratches on her legs—she doesn't remember these things happening.
[10:46 AM] maquila: I blink a few times at that – looking over my shoulder, and then lean down to touch my ankle and the scratches. Where did these happen? Is this from when I fell from way up high. I shuffle forward, carefully, not putting much weight on my ankle, and look up and behind me for a moment back toward the old city covered in vines. I roll the Timecube between my hands, and then protectively clutch it again. I need to keep getting to that tower. It will be okay there.
[10:49 AM] zuark: As she walks forward, her ankle starts to feel better, so that after a dozen strides or so it feels totally normal again. It isn't magically healed—it's as though her ankle went through the process of swelling, bruising, and gradually mending itself in the normal way, but as if each step forward she took were the equivalent of a couple of days in this process.
[10:49 AM] zuark: In the distance, from a thicket, Marcie hears what sounds like a baby crying.
[10:51 AM] maquila: Oh. I glance to my ankle then, watching it do this, curiously. I guess – maybe it wasn't that bad after all? I walk on it a bit more confidently – and then pause mid-step. Why is a baby crying over there? I look over at the thicket and then hurry that way. Is the baby hurt? Why would you leave a baby—I pause after a few steps. I did read about monsters and how they would mimic a baby crying to lure people in. Or there was actually a killer once who did that. I hesitate, and then shuffle forward more slowly, tilting my head to listen.
[10:53 AM] zuark: As she pushes forward, she hears her mother's voice say softly: "She's gorgeous."
[10:54 AM] maquila: I pause mid-step then, my hands coming up and knotting around the Timecube.  Mom? As soon as I pause I hurry forward faster then, almost a scatter-brained gallop.
[10:58 AM] zuark: As she moves further forward, the thorny vines enclose around her, forming a sort of natural pathway. Up ahead, there's a soft light, and she hears the quiet gush of water.
[11:00 AM] maquila: I look around a little bit as the vines close – are the vines all moving? That's – kind of strange, right? I've not heard of vines that actively move before; somehow this doesn't frighten me though, though I have a feeling that it might in other situations. I draw in a breath, and focus on the soft light, that watery gush, and start quickly moving forward along the pathway.
[11:03 AM] zuark: Before her stands a beautiful fountain: a shimmery pool of glistening water, that looks incredibly fresh and thirst-quenching. The fountainhead is a life-size statue in the image of a fair young woman, in some sort of toga, with her arms stretched upward—so that the water springs forth from her open and raised palms, filling the small thorny alcove with mist and showering the trickle of water down in an umbrella-like formation around her, gently disturbing the calm pool.
[11:05 AM] maquila: I stare wide-eyed. I wonder how I heard my mom here? I step forward, slowly, staring up at the woman.  She's – very pretty. She's really super pretty. I draw in a deep breath as I stare goggle-eyed up at her, pushing my eyes up so that my eyes seem almost made bigger. I take a few moments and then…I slip forward  and cup my hands into palms, catching the water, and lifting it to sip at it.
[11:07 AM] zuark: When she looks into the water, she sees the reflection of seven year old Marcie staring back at her. The statue's mouth suddenly moves—and it produces a perfect replica of Marcie's own joyful voice: "Jellybean!"
[11:09 AM] maquila: I blink a few times, and look back up at the statue and then down again. I draw in a breath and look wide-eyed down at myself and then feel my face. Jellybean! And Dad called me Jellybean too, as he'd scoop me up. He even called me that when I was older. He said that before he left – we'll be back, Jellybean, stay in the house until we're back.
[11:10 AM] maquila: After a beat, I look back to the statue. "Hi?"
[11:12 AM] zuark: When she glances down into the water after disturbing its surface with her hand—and drinking the water, it's gloriously thirst-quenching indeed—the reflection in the water is different. It's a much older Marcie than one she's ever seen, with longer hair, some graying, and crow's feet around the eyes. The statue's mouth moves again, and out from it comes Uncle Greg's southern drawl: "End o' the line, li'l lady."
[11:16 AM] maquila: Oh, that's – that's so good. I practically melt, I swallow it down my throat which seems suddenly parched and breathe in and let it out, and then blink down again at it. Oh, it's old me. I have crows feet and gray hair – I'm going to be an OOOOOOOOOOOooold lady.  Or is that old lady water? I touch my skin for a moment and look up at the statue's face. Uncle Greg! And I'm old. End o'the line. He'll be super old by then too. "Uncle Greg?" I ask.
[11:18 AM] zuark: Her face feels normal—it seems that it's only her reflection in the water which is changing.
[11:19 AM] maquila: Oh. I look back in my reflection – and then lean forward to press my nose to it.
[11:21 AM] zuark: When her nose touches the water, it ripples, and her reflection turns mostly to normal—though it isn't quite her face. It's still older, just…less older now. The statue's mouth moves again and this time it produces Christopher's prim and proper voice perfectly. It says: "You can do anything that you'd like, Lattice. You don't need to stay here."
[11:22 AM] maquila: Lattice? Am I – is that me? A Lattice is a pattern, and if you have lattice points they make cubes. That does make sense.  You can do anything that you'd like, Lattice. You don't need to stay here. I rub at my nose then, wet as it is and straightens up. Christopher. I look around a little bit, and then start shuffling  forward. I look up to the tower. So it is somewhere from here…
[11:23 AM] zuark: As she turns away from the fountain, it speaks to her—and this time it speaks with a voice of its own. "Marcella Kingscote."
[11:24 AM] maquila: I pause then as I turn away to look up at the tower – and glance over my shoulder, wide-eyed.
[11:25 AM] zuark: The statue's head slowly turns—there's no heavy creaking of stone, as if it were indeed a person very cleverly disguised by a statue, although somehow the slowness of its movement does suggest the stone is real?—to face her.
[11:26 AM] maquila: I stare wide-eyed up at the pretty statue then, blinking at it. I hesitate a beat, and then awkwardly curl my hands over the Timecube, holding it in front of me. "…Hi?"
[11:26 AM] zuark: "You bear the Lattice of Hours," the fountain says.
[11:27 AM] maquila: Oh. That's the Timecube's name? I look at it and back up and then nod.
[11:28 AM] zuark: "Your Path through Arcadia begins here—but only just," the statue whispers. "The Lattice is a heavy burden. It will be heavier still."
[11:32 AM] maquila: My Path through Arcadia begins here, but only just? I did just start walking on this path through the thorns. I nod a little bit. "The – bad man wants it. I will make sure that the bad man doesn't get it." And Uncle Greg and Christopher will help me.
[11:32 AM] zuark: "The Eye will carve it from your soul," the statue says.
[11:33 AM] maquila: The Eye will carve it from your soul.  I furrow my brow a little bit fidgeting. "O-okay…"
[11:34 AM] zuark: "Drink," the statue says. "Two Fates have paid your way, and two drinks you are owed. But drink no more than twice."
[11:36 AM] maquila: "Okay," I say. "I drank once already – so I should only drink one more time." I nod to my head then - Two Fates have paid my way? Is that…Uncle Greg and Christopher? I don't know what that means. I hesitate a moment, and then dip my hands in and take my second drink then, slowly.
[11:38 AM] maquila: And two drinks I am owed. I wonder what drinks do. But I drank once, and the lady says only drink twice, so I will just drink this second time.
[11:40 AM] zuark: After her hand disturbs the water a second time, her reflection returns to normal. The drink is cool and refreshing, and it fills Marcie with vigor and determination. It's the most delicious water ever to pass her lips.
[11:40 AM] zuark: "The Lantern will show you to the Tower," the statue whispers. "Trust its words, but not its promises."
[11:42 AM] maquila: I draw in a deep breath at that. I don't know what this statue means sometimes. The Eye will carve it from my soul. The Lattice is a heavy burden makes sense, because the  Timecube made us move all over everywhere and then Mr. White wanted to get it and tried to observe me. Two Fates have paid my way and two drinks I am owed. The Lantern will show me to the Tower? Trust its words but not its promises. Aren't promises words. "The Lantern?" I ask, and look around.
[11:46 AM] zuark: "You will see," the statue says
-and then its face returns to the orientation it was in when she arrived in the little alcove.
[11:46 AM] maquila: I watch for a moment and nod a little and look around for a path to keep moving.
[11:47 AM] zuark: There is a clear path ahead: a winding, narrow trail that moves among the close-in thorns.
[11:48 AM] maquila: Oh, I go toward that one then. I keep hugging the Timecube against my chest then, stepping on to it, and beginning to slowly walk between the thorns, head swiveling left and right.
[11:51 AM] zuark: The path grows darker and darker, until up ahead the begins to become illuminated by a soft blue light.
[11:52 AM] maquila: Oh – that light is pretty. I look around a little bit as it gets darker, and then hurry up my walking to hurriedly get out of the darkness then. The statue spoke like me and like Mom and like Christopher and like Uncle Greg. I think maybe the statue was speaking like Mom…
[11:52 AM] maquila: Oh – that light is pretty. I look around a little bit as it gets darker, and then hurry up my walking to hurriedly get out of the darkness then. The statue spoke like me and like Mom and like Christopher and like Uncle Greg. I think maybe the statue was speaking like Mom…
[11:57 AM] zuark: Up ahead, she sees the source of the light: an old-fashioned lantern, its handle suspended on a large thorn. Within the glass burns a brilliant and flameless blue light.
[11:58 AM] maquila: "Oh. You're the Lantern," I say – half to myself. I move forward slowly, reaching my hand out to nearly touch it – then I pull my hand back and then I slowly take ahold of the handle.
[11:59 AM] zuark: The Lantern speaks with a gentle, fatherly, masculine voice. "I would have told you not to drink," it says. "Ah, well—too late now."
[12:02 PM] maquila: I blink a few times as the Lantern begins to speak. "Why?" I ask it then, glancing down to it. I make sure to hold it with my left hand, continuing to hold on to the Timecube with my right hand, holding it snug against my side even as my hand hurts a little bit. I hold the Lantern up and look up toward the tower, beginning to slowly walk.(edited)
[12:04 PM] zuark: "Because now you are marked by Fate," the Lantern says.
[12:05 PM] maquila: "Oh," I say. "I'm not sure what that means." After staring up at the tower as I walk, I focus forward, walking along. "But that's okay. She sounded like Christopher and Uncle Greg and Mom."
[12:08 PM] zuark: "She sounded like your past, your present, and your future," the Lantern says. "There will be a fork in the path ahead. You must go left."
[12:09 PM] maquila: The statue said to trust what he says but do not trust his promises. "My present is Christopher and my future is Uncle Greg," I say then.  I nod my head a little bit as I hold the lantern up a little bit. I look both ways once I get there. End of the Road, li'l lady. I start moving down the left path, slowly. My past was mom, and me. Jellybean.
[12:15 PM] zuark: The leftmost path seems to turn away from the Tower, not towards it.
[12:15 PM] zuark: Do you follow it anyway?
[12:16 PM] maquila: The statue said to listen to the Lantern but not its promises. I follow it.
[12:18 PM] zuark: The path winds away from the Tower for a bit, but then ends up inclining up a hill and winding back around. She emerges on a higher plain, and when she sees the sky and the horizon again, the Tower is awfully close now.
12:21 PM] maquila: Oh. I emerge high then, looking around a little bit. This is – really pretty. I look up at the sky and then to the Tower. "It's really shiny," I say to the Lantern. "And - really beautiful, isn't it?"
[12:21 PM] zuark: "It is the abode of Fae," the Lantern says placidly.
[12:21 PM] zuark: "Look well
-once you pass through this place, you will not see it again while you draw breath."
[12:23 PM] maquila: "The abode of Fae? Like the kind that will abduct you when you are a baby and replace you with straw? And then when you come of age you turn into a demon?" Look well, once you pass through I will not see it again alive. Oh, am I going to die - no it doesn't seem like that. I study it then, taking a long time to just look at it. I smile a little bit up at the tower, and then quietly begin walking again.
[12:28 PM] zuark: "Yes," the Lantern says.
[12:31 PM] maquila: "Oh," I say. I pause a beat and stare up at it, and then start slowly walking along, keeping along the path. He hasn't made me any promises yet.
[12:41 PM] maquila: But do not trust his promises, that is what the statue said, and it spoke with Mom and Christopher and Uncle Greg's voices.
[12:43 PM] zuark: The path to the Tower is clean and easy; everywhere around her, though, there are paths that seem to beckon and call her, promising danger and adventure and excitement, treasure, love, hate, destiny. The Lantern says: "Keep to your Path. You are made for the Tower, and it for you."
[12:44 PM] maquila: Danger and adventure – - I pause and stare at it, and then excitement ,and then treasure. Love – I think of Dad running his hands through my hair – hate, destiny. I pause and look, glancing to the Lantern. Keep to the Path. I am made for the Tower, and it for me. I look up at it again – the abode of Fae – and then I shuffle forward slowly toward it, watching as I get closer. Don't look at the other paths – they are hard not to look at.
[12:49 PM] zuark: Ahead of her: a long set of stairs leading up to a pair of massive double-doors, carved in silver, leading into the Tower. The doors appear to be sealed.
[12:51 PM] maquila: I stare up at the tower then. I slowly begin climbing the stairs. My arms still kind of hurt from hanging on to the vines. I'm glad my legs are no longer all twisted and sprained. I step up it then, and pause in front of the doors – reaching my hand forward to touch them.
[12:57 PM] zuark: The silver is carved with intricate designs
-she has begun to understand the language of these runes and these carvings, but her mind is only capable of absorbing a tiny fraction of what's here. Still, she feels like she can see—if not read—the fabric of the entire universe carved in these doors, or a fraction of it, at least. And right where the entire story of her life should be, but isn't, there is a hole in precisely the shape of a square. Waiting.
[12:58 PM] maquila: My head tilts a little bit at that. I reach my hand forward then, sliding my fingers along it, carefully, drawing in a breath. Oh. I wonder – do I carve my story there, I wonder? Or I suppose I haven't chosen yet. I think of all those options. Alongside, Christopher didn't want that word, because it all happens at once, at the same time, together. I watch it for a moment and tap it. I will carve my life there.
[12:59 PM] zuark: The hole in the door is perfectly sized to the Timecube in her hand.
[1:00 PM] zuark: "It is the Key," the Lantern says. "The Key to the Awakening of your own soul."
[1:01 PM] maquila: "Oh," I say then. I study the hole in the door and then look down at the Timecube – the Lattice. It is a heavy burden, but it will grow heavier still. I pause and then carefully, delicately, making sure it does not catch on the edges, hold it and nudge it into the hole.
[1:01 PM] maquila: The Eye will carve it from my soul..
[1:02 PM] zuark: The cube slips in easily, like it's made for it. Once it's locked inside, it twists, further locking into place—and then the silver doors unclench and swing inward slowly, opening up to reveal the Tower's glimmery interior.
[1:03 PM] zuark: "Arcadia is the domain of Fate and Time," the Lantern says. "From here, you have seen your past, your present, and your future. The Lattice of Hours, your Lattice, has the power to alter these things. To effect change."
[1:06 PM] maquila: My eyes grow larger behind my glasses as I lift my head to stare up. I draw in a breath – half-listening, half just taking in the silver gleam, my breathe caught in my throat. I gape for a moment and then slowly step inside. "The Lattice of Hours, my Lattice, has the power to alter these things," I whisper, repeating what the Lantern says.
[1:11 PM] maquila: I spin around as I stand in the middle of the tower, and having lost the Timecube – well, not lost, I know where it is – I draw the lantern closer to me.
[1:16 PM] zuark: There's a set of silver stairs spiraling up the tower, loosely knotted with thorns.
[1:16 PM] zuark: The Lantern says, "Do you want to change your past, Marcella?"
[1:17 PM] maquila: "Why?" I say then.
[1:19 PM] maquila: I pause. The only thing I would like to change, is I would like my parents to come home when they said they would. But…that would mean, that I would not repeat December 5th, and I would forge tthis…
[1:20 PM] zuark: "Time is not set in stone," the Lantern says. "Time can be rewritten."
[1:20 PM] maquila: "The only thing I would like to change I cannot change."
[1:21 PM] zuark: "But you can."
[1:22 PM] maquila: "Oh. But other things are changed if you change one thing. Right?"
[1:22 PM] maquila: "Because Christopher says you need to watch for the changes. So I talked to my parents, and then my cipher book had more information, and then I did again, and my Uncle Greg showed up to help me."
[1:23 PM] maquila: "And Dad said – and Dad said that if they were gone, that he was sorry, but I needed – to know – that they loved me, very much."
[1:24 PM] zuark: As she reaches the upper level of the Tower, she finds she's entering a room very similar to the one she started in: a domed shape overhead shows the night sky, and the perimeter around the walls is open too, marked with hovering sigils, and behind that, the mosaic of Marcie's life. "They tried to save themselves," the Lantern says. "Through you. Do you remember?"
[1:25 PM] maquila: I step out then, staring up and around. "No," I say.  I pause and look toward the sigils again, stepping forward. My soul is a timecube? I pause for a long beat. "What do you mean?"
[1:26 PM] zuark: "The coordinates on the street. The ones that were unfinished."
[1:27 PM] maquila: "Oh," I say. "The ones that Mr. White was waiting by. They – tried to get me to jump to them, so I could warn them." I open my mouth then, my eyes beginning to water, suddenly. I blink-blink a few times. I look around – they were half finished, hard to read…
[1:28 PM] zuark: "Do you want to go back there?" the Lantern says. "To save someone?"
[1:28 PM] maquila: I fidget a little bit. "What will happen if I do that?"
[1:30 PM] zuark: "Only you can determine that."
[1:32 PM] maquila: It is – not a promise he is making. He is not making a promise, is he, he is saying that I CAN change something if I would like, because the statue said his words are the truth. But the reason I started doing all the stuff I did is because of that. Without that, I would not have done those things. Won't that mess things up? I wobble a little bit and lift my hands. Mr. White said…Mr. White said he could intuit that one. He wanted me to intuit that one. And he wanted to observe me.
[1:33 PM] zuark: "If it is your wish," the Lantern says, "I can show you the way."
[1:33 PM] maquila: If I save Mom or Dad, what will happen. What will happen. I close my eyes and think. Then—then they will come home. And if they come home, I will not leave the home. And if I do not leave the home, then I will not go to the apartment. And Dad said this is the most beautiful thing that is happening, and I have to—I have to find it within myself to keep going forward. And Mr. White said he could intuit the other parts if I let him, and I do not like Mr. White.
[1:34 PM] maquila: I think this would make me not be here to see the beautiful thing.
[1:35 PM] maquila: "I do not think I should," I say, wobbly. "I want to, but I do not think I should, because of what my Dad said and what Mr. White said. And Dad said something and I trust him, and Mr. White said something and I do not trust him, and with trusting Dad and with not trusting Mr. White they are the same thing."
[1:36 PM] zuark: "It is your choice," the Lantern says. "All of this place, all of Time—your Time—is yours, here." Out of an opening in the floor rises a wooden pedestal, bearing a cube covered in familiar symbols. "Where do you want to go? Stake your claim."
[1:38 PM] maquila: I feel wobbly and sad. All of Time, my Time, is mine here. I draw in a deep breath and look at the wooden pedestal. The cube. I step forward then to touch it. My Time. Where do I want to go? Stake my claim.
[1:38 PM] maquila: I touch the cube, slide my fingers over it – and then push forward. I want Uncle Greg and Christopher right now. Christopher was with Phil. They could not be far.
[1:39 PM] zuark: Marcie has all of time at her fingertips. She understands now. She sees the truth. She instinctively knows how to input the right coordinates for her destination. But a sense of finality settles in around her—this is her last chance. She's making her mark, now.
[1:41 PM] maquila: I hesitate again – I waffle. I want to, but Dad said, I have to find it in me to keep going. Somehow. And Mr. White said, he could take me back there, and I do not trust Mr. White, and I do not think it is good to go back there. Christopher said…I draw in a deep breath, pause, and then nod. I focus then – this is my mark. I am becoming myself. I am going to – come out of there, and find Christopher. I should – take the timecube with me? Or it is part of me. The Eye will carve it from my soul. What does that mean? I need to find it in me to keep going.
[1:44 PM] maquila: I will mark my spot.
[1:54 PM] zuark: As in, input coordinates of your current time?
[1:55 PM] maquila: Yes – well, probably a few moments later, so I have already begun, and I will have experienced this, and I will be here, and I will carve my history.
[1:57 PM] zuark: The cube faces part open, revealing a white light.
[1:58 PM] maquila: I draw in a deep breath and look around. I draw in a deep breath – I've done good here, and then I nod, slipping my hand in. Lattice.
[2:00 PM] zuark: She finds herself standing in the center of the living room of her old house. All four makeshift torches on the walls simultaneously go out in puffs of smoke, leaving black scoring on the walls.
[2:00 PM] zuark: Marcie feels…different, somehow. More awake and alive. Like the world is full of possibilities.
[2:01 PM] maquila: I stand there for a moment, looking around, and then turn to rush out of the house. "Christopher?!"
[2:05 PM] zuark: She steps outside to the street. There's no one around.
[2:06 PM] maquila: Oh. I look around a little bit. Where did Christopher go? I huff and puff and start running – I am never hit by the truck going this way – to get back to the bus, and climb on, and ride it back to my neighborhood. I fidget a little bit once I am on the bus, and hug my bag.
[2:06 PM] zuark: It's mid-afternoon. The bus ride is simple, uneventful. It feels trivial.
[2:06 PM] zuark: She arrives back at her apartment a short while later.
[2:07 PM] maquila: I climb off the bus then – it feels weird to run around without the magnifying glass. I go dashing to my apartment and hurry inside looking for Christopher or Uncle Greg.
[2:08 PM] zuark: As she rushes up to the front door of her apartment, something strange starts happening. She starts seeing strange patterns of glimmering, illusory numbers appearing all over the front door, as if the door had become the surface of some kind of ethereal calculator.
[2:08 PM] zuark: Roll Wits + Composure.
[2:08 PM] maquila: I pause and freeze then, staring wide-eyed at my door, and blinking at it. Wits 2 + Composure 3 = 5 - or is my Composure 4 now?
[2:09 PM] zuark: Composure is 4 now.
[2:09 PM] maquila: 6 dice.
[2:09 PM] maquila: 1s
[2:11 PM] zuark: On the other side of the door, she hears Christopher's voice: "Yes," he's saying. "I'm quite certain that is the case. But I'm not about to risk my neck finding out!"
[2:12 PM] maquila: Oh. I stare at the numbers for a moment, and then push the door open. "Christopher!!!" I say loudly.
[2:12 PM] zuark: "I have to go," Christopher is saying in the bathroom.
[2:13 PM] maquila: "Why do you always hide in the bathroom to talk to people?" I say, hurrying over to stand by the door.
[2:13 PM] zuark: Marcie hears the sink being drained, and then the water being run for a moment
-and then the door opens and Christopher steps out. "Hello," he says.
[2:13 PM] maquila: "Hi," I say back.
[2:13 PM] zuark: "How did it go at the house?"
[2:17 PM] maquila: "I got into the room, and I put the magnifying glass in, and then I was in this place I suppose is called Arcadia, and then I tried cilmbing down this tall building and fell and grabbed a vine and pulled the whole building down and nearly was quite crushed. But I managed to hide. And the TimeCube – the Lattice of Hours is what they kept calling it, I assume – landed on my head, so I carried it. And then there was this other tower, and I thought perhaps you and Uncle Greg would be waiting for me there, so I got to it, and along the way, I heard my mother's voice, and I found a statue, and then it sounded like Uncle Greg saying that it was the end of the road li'l lady, and then it was your voice calling me Lattice and saying I had my choice, and then it told me to drink and said the Eye would carve it from my soul. Then I had to go to a Lantern, which led me to the tower and told me I should not have drank, but I got to this tower which was made for me and I put the Timecube in and it was there, and it told me I could change Time and save my parents, if I wanted, but I did not think it was a good idea – Dad had told me to continue on, and Mr. White had told me he could jump to the time it was offering to jump me to, and so I did not think it was a good idea. And then I came back here. And I wanted to find you."
[2:21 PM] zuark: "Let me have a look at you," Christopher says. Almost like a physician, he puts his hands on Marcie's shoulders and looks measuredly into her face.
[2:22 PM] maquila: "I was not injured, though I did set the house on fire. Slightly." I stiffen – as I always do when someone touches me – but relax a moment later; much more quickly than I did when he was yelling last time.
[2:25 PM] zuark: He squints a moment, and then nods, and releases you. "Well," he says, "I see that you are finished fwimbling."
[2:27 PM] maquila: I nod my head to that then, watching him. "I do not know what the rest of it means."
[2:28 PM] zuark: "It means a great deal." He looks around a bit, swiveling his head.
[2:29 PM] maquila: I swivel my head around. "Also there are numbers all over my door."
[2:31 PM] maquila: "…Did I do something wrong?" I ask a moment later. Christopher is acting a little strange. I look around then, left and right, and then look back at him. "Am I going to forget everything in the morning?"
[2:32 PM] zuark: "Numbers?" he says, distractedly. "Numbers. Interesting. Yes, of course. No!" he looks at her, and cracks a rare smile. "You have done everything right."
[2:33 PM] maquila: "Oh." I feel immediately relieved again. I nod and move to open up the door then, swinging it all the way in and pointing at it.
[2:37 PM] zuark: There are no numbers there anymore.
[2:37 PM] maquila: "Oh," I say, pausing for a moment. "They are not there anymore."
[2:39 PM] zuark: "They were never there in the first place." He touches Marcie's arm and then starts walking toward the bathroom. "Come here."
[2:41 PM] maquila: "Oh," I say. "But I saw numbers on there – I know I did – " I look over my shoulder – and then turn to watch him and dutifully follow after him. "Okay. And I told you things would make sense, because things you say make sense eventually. Things did, like I thought they would. I know why you do not like alongside."
[2:42 PM] zuark: "Good," he says. He walks her into the bathroom, and then points at the sink. "Do you see anything there?"
[2:44 PM] maquila: I glance up to him, and then look at the sink and stare at it intently.
[2:47 PM] zuark: It's just a sink.
[2:48 PM] maquila: I stare for a long moment, and then look up at him. "I see a sink."
[2:50 PM] zuark: He presses his hand into her shoulder. "Look harder."
[2:51 PM] maquila: I look back at the sink for a moment. Look harder? That is – I was looking at it as hard as I could. I stare at the sink then, and then furrow my brow and stare, like I'm trying to…magnify my eyes through the glasses. I have telescope eyes, and I can zoom them in, maybe.
[3:00 PM] zuark: Looking into the sink, Marcie starts to see strange whorls and warbles. The sink has been drained, but for a moment it looks as if it is still full—and the stopper lever looks pulled up even though she knows it's been pushed down. In the corner of her eye, she sees that Christopher is surrounded by strange gray swirling whorls also.
[3:02 PM] maquila: My lips part then. I stay focused then, like I'm looking through one of those magic books, drawing in a breath. "It looks like - like I'm seeing two things together, and it still has water in it, and the – stopper is pulled up, like maybe you still have it filled." I turn my head to glance to him, looking at the whorls. "You are surrounded by whorls."
[3:03 PM] zuark: "You are seeing time distortions," he says.
[3:05 PM] maquila: "Oh," I say then. I squint at him then – though not at his face like I normally do, but at his edges, leaning in close until my nose almost touches the sleeve of his suit. "So I can see fwimbles now?"
[3:06 PM] zuark: "A fwimble of the type you experienced is a very rare thing indeed," he says. "I came this way by a different road."
[3:07 PM] maquila: "How'd you come here?" I finally stop squinting close to him and pull back to look up at his face.
[3:09 PM] zuark: "How do you think?" he says, tilting his head slightly. "Look closer."
[3:12 PM] maquila: Christopher always answers my questions with more questions, but I have come to expect this over several fwimblings and so it no longer makes me as frustrated as it did the first few fwimblings when he made no sense. Normally he is doing it so that I learn something or think for myself. I nod as he says that and then stare at him intently. I see the whorls again – is there way to see the whorls more intently? I don't know. I furrow my brow a little bit. Probably? Maybe?
[3:15 PM] zuark: As she stares at the whorls more intensely, there's a strange feeling of forward movement in Marcie's perception, even though she doesn't actually move. The whorls around Christopher seem to open wide like an aperture, flooding the room with swirling gray mists that make her feel as if she's standing in a moonlit glade rather than in the bathroom she vaguely knows she's in. She can barely see Christopher as anything more than the faintest shadow now
-the whorls around her take up the whole of her perception, a hologram come to life like when she went to the Planetarium as a kid.
[3:20 PM] maquila: I draw in a deep breath, my eyes widening behind my glasses – stopping their squinting. I straighten up a little bit, looking around at the gray mists for a moment. This is – so – pretty. I lift my hands a little bit – a gray mist. "A gray mist," I mumble, only half listening, and reaching out to touch at the air a little bit.  I remember the planetarium too – it'd have little pop ups about the planets, or a voice that would give you more information. I loved it. I squealed a lot, and Dad would hold my hand as I walked through it…
[3:21 PM] zuark: "Is that what you see?" Christopher's voice is audible, but distant, as if coming through water. "Keep looking."
[3:22 PM] maquila: "Yes," I say, drawing in a breath. I wade through the mist then, slowly – sort of? It feels weird, but rather than wade through it with…my arms, which I kind of want to, I – imagine it, in my head, with my eyes, slipping forward through it, pushing through the mist.
[3:23 PM] zuark: The mists swirl and move almost on her command, like in a sci-fi movie when a character can control a hologram with a wave of his hand.
[3:24 PM] maquila: "Oh!" I say, alarmed, when they do that, and blink a few times. I focus then, continuing to swirl carefully through the mist, my eyes roaming carefully. How do you think? Look closer. He didn't come here by fwimble, so how did he come here?
[3:26 PM] zuark: Focusing more, she suddenly finds a gleaming silver cord, sticking out of the mists. Her mind and eyes snatch hold of it, and start pulling along mentally on the cord, following the tether way off into the depths of time and space. As she follows it she feels increasingly disconnected from herself, as though if she were to let go she'd be lost to a void, a sea of infinite timelines and possibilities. But this cord will take her to a destination.
[3:29 PM] maquila: I startle again – like an animal of some sort, a rabbit or a mouse maybe, that is continually startled by noise – whenever I see the silver cord. I focus on it then, my eyes almost seeming to grab ahold of it and pull me along. This is dizzying and alarming, but kind of in a good scary sort of way. I know Christopher is there, with his hand on my shoulder – and that makes it less frightening-scary. Stick to the cord. I keep following it then, intently, dizzily.
[3:34 PM] zuark: The cord leads to…it's not really a question of where. When? It's not far—it feels far, almost forever away, but she knows that it isn't. A cord wouldn't be this strong and sure if it were far, she instinctively knows that. Through the cord, she catches a brief glimpse of what might be a house—she sees a conical roof, but nothing else amid the mist—and then tugs closer, and finds that the cord attaches to the body of a second Christopher in this other place and time. She sees him sitting in a circle of chalk runes as if in meditation.
[3:35 PM] zuark: "What did I do?" she hears Christopher say—his actual voice. It's a rhetorical question. There's a right answer. He's fishing for it.
[3:40 PM] maquila: The cord -  a house. It's not far, and it's not long ago. My own voice feels far away – it feels distant, it feels like I'm puppeting my own body and like I'm a ventriloquist, speaking to a doll of me that is far away. "You're…meditating. It's like you're…you did a ritual," I say then, slowly, not the answer, I don't think, but I should say – it seems like I should say. I look to the cord, to the house and around it – to the roof. I look to the other Christopher, studying him, studying the runes.
[3:45 PM] zuark: Christopher doesn't say anything
-if he reacts, she can't really see while she's so focused on the mist, the cord, the other-Christopher who is in the other place.
[3:46 PM] zuark: In the runes, she reads the language of the past—of turning back time, of looking backward.
[3:46 PM] maquila: "You…did something to turn back time, and to look backward?" I ask then, slowly. "A ritual to turn back time? So you are – not too far…ahead of now?"
[3:47 PM] zuark: "I am visiting here," Christopher says, "from tomorrow."
[3:48 PM] maquila: "Yes. It's not far away," I say then. "So it is tomorrow for you, and you came back here that way. And meanwhile I kept fwimbling today."
[3:49 PM] zuark: "Good," he says.
[3:50 PM] maquila: I draw in a deep breath and then try to slide along the silver thread back.
[3:51 PM] zuark: The cord snaps to like it's spring-loaded—the aperture closes up far more swiftly than it opened, the mists sucking back up into Christopher's frame in an instant. The mists remain around his body for a moment longer, and recede when she chooses to stop focusing on them being there.
[3:53 PM] maquila: I blink a few times and lift my fingers to touch under my eyeballs and then stare wide-eyed up at him. "That," I say then, searching for a word that fits. He likes precision. I open my mouth, feeling like I hit a word wall. "That…" No, not extraordinary, not amazing…Phenomenal  would suit. "Is phenomenal," I say then. "My eyes feel like hands."
[3:55 PM] zuark: "Until just a short while ago, your vision was clouded by what we call the Quiescence," he says. "The Lie that veils the Fallen World. Now the veil has been lifted, and you can see more clearly."
[3:56 PM] maquila: "Oh." Quiescence. Quiescence is a Lie. It veils the Fallen World – that would be here, the place I am, not that I know what it is Fallen from. "What is the world Fallen from?"
[3:57 PM] zuark: "From the Truth. The Supernal." Christopher walks past her and out of the bathroom.
[3:58 PM] maquila: "Oh." I move to follow after him, remarkably like a duckling.
[4:00 PM] zuark: Christopher goes to Marcie's bedroom and, once there, moves to her nightstand. He takes the notepad and pen there, and begins to write down something on the pad.
[4:00 PM] maquila: I move after him and into my bedroom then. I look at the cocklamp, and go to turn it on.
[4:01 PM] zuark: "I am writing down the address of a place you can go," he says. "A place where you'll be safe, and you can learn more about things."
[4:06 PM] maquila: "Oh," I say to that as he writes down the address. "What about you?"
[4:08 PM] zuark: "I," he says, "am going to return to tomorrow. And then I am going to have a well-deserved nap."
[4:09 PM] maquila: I nod my head then, seriously, to that. "…Will I see you again?" I ask, a beat later – a bit of worry creeping into my voice.
[3:26 PM] zuark: Focusing more, she suddenly finds a gleaming silver cord, sticking out of the mists. Her mind and eyes snatch hold of it, and start pulling along mentally on the cord, following the tether way off into the depths of time and space. As she follows it she feels increasingly disconnected from herself, as though if she were to let go she'd be lost to a void, a sea of infinite timelines and possibilities. But this cord will take her to a destination.
[3:29 PM] maquila: I startle again – like an animal of some sort, a rabbit or a mouse maybe, that is continually startled by noise – whenever I see the silver cord. I focus on it then, my eyes almost seeming to grab ahold of it and pull me along. This is dizzying and alarming, but kind of in a good scary sort of way. I know Christopher is there, with his hand on my shoulder – and that makes it less frightening-scary. Stick to the cord. I keep following it then, intently, dizzily.
[3:34 PM] zuark: The cord leads to…it's not really a question of where. When? It's not far—it feels far, almost forever away, but she knows that it isn't. A cord wouldn't be this strong and sure if it were far, she instinctively knows that. Through the cord, she catches a brief glimpse of what might be a house—she sees a conical roof, but nothing else amid the mist—and then tugs closer, and finds that the cord attaches to the body of a second Christopher in this other place and time. She sees him sitting in a circle of chalk runes as if in meditation.
[3:35 PM] zuark: "What did I do?" she hears Christopher say—his actual voice. It's a rhetorical question. There's a right answer. He's fishing for it.
[3:40 PM] maquila: The cord -  a house. It's not far, and it's not long ago. My own voice feels far away – it feels distant, it feels like I'm puppeting my own body and like I'm a ventriloquist, speaking to a doll of me that is far away. "You're…meditating. It's like you're…you did a ritual," I say then, slowly, not the answer, I don't think, but I should say – it seems like I should say. I look to the cord, to the house and around it – to the roof. I look to the other Christopher, studying him, studying the runes.
[3:45 PM] zuark: Christopher doesn't say anything
-if he reacts, she can't really see while she's so focused on the mist, the cord, the other-Christopher who is in the other place.
[3:46 PM] zuark: In the runes, she reads the language of the past—of turning back time, of looking backward.
[3:46 PM] maquila: "You…did something to turn back time, and to look backward?" I ask then, slowly. "A ritual to turn back time? So you are – not too far…ahead of now?"
[3:47 PM] zuark: "I am visiting here," Christopher says, "from tomorrow."
[3:48 PM] maquila: "Yes. It's not far away," I say then. "So it is tomorrow for you, and you came back here that way. And meanwhile I kept fwimbling today."
[3:49 PM] zuark: "Good," he says.
[3:50 PM] maquila: I draw in a deep breath and then try to slide along the silver thread back.
[3:51 PM] zuark: The cord snaps to like it's spring-loaded—the aperture closes up far more swiftly than it opened, the mists sucking back up into Christopher's frame in an instant. The mists remain around his body for a moment longer, and recede when she chooses to stop focusing on them being there.
[3:53 PM] maquila: I blink a few times and lift my fingers to touch under my eyeballs and then stare wide-eyed up at him. "That," I say then, searching for a word that fits. He likes precision. I open my mouth, feeling like I hit a word wall. "That…" No, not extraordinary, not amazing…Phenomenal  would suit. "Is phenomenal," I say then. "My eyes feel like hands."
[3:55 PM] zuark: "Until just a short while ago, your vision was clouded by what we call the Quiescence," he says. "The Lie that veils the Fallen World. Now the veil has been lifted, and you can see more clearly."
[3:56 PM] maquila: "Oh." Quiescence. Quiescence is a Lie. It veils the Fallen World – that would be here, the place I am, not that I know what it is Fallen from. "What is the world Fallen from?"
[3:57 PM] zuark: "From the Truth. The Supernal." Christopher walks past her and out of the bathroom.
[3:58 PM] maquila: "Oh." I move to follow after him, remarkably like a duckling.
[4:00 PM] zuark: Christopher goes to Marcie's bedroom and, once there, moves to her nightstand. He takes the notepad and pen there, and begins to write down something on the pad.
[4:00 PM] maquila: I move after him and into my bedroom then. I look at the cocklamp, and go to turn it on.
[4:01 PM] zuark: "I am writing down the address of a place you can go," he says. "A place where you'll be safe, and you can learn more about things."
[4:06 PM] maquila: "Oh," I say to that as he writes down the address. "What about you?"
[4:08 PM] zuark: "I," he says, "am going to return to tomorrow. And then I am going to have a well-deserved nap."
[4:09 PM] maquila: I nod my head then, seriously, to that. "…Will I see you again?" I ask, a beat later – a bit of worry creeping into my voice.
[4:09 PM] zuark: He looks up briefly, as if concentrating on something. Marcie sees little numbers and strange mathematical formula fluttering up around him, bubbling out of his body like steam rising from hot water.
[4:09 PM] maquila: I stare up at the numbers and the formula as they all flutter up around him, watching, before I focus on him again.
[4:11 PM] zuark: She notices that he makes some strange gestures at his side with one hand—a quick series of different hand signals, as if he were signing something in sign language. As she focuses harder, the numbers and formulae explode out from within him, and she sees a whorl open up in front of his eyes, forming a sort of porthole through which he seems to be peering.
[4:12 PM] zuark: And as this happens, there's a strange creeping of silver veins all through the room—chrome gleam splinters through all the surfaces in the room like tree roots, permeating everything, silver tendrils reaching out to touch each object, pass through each surface.
[4:12 PM] maquila: I look at his hand as he does this, watching what he's doing with them – my stomach feels like it's knotting, I feel like I'm about to vomit. I stare at the numbers and formulae exploding, and I look at the whorl then, blink-blinking at it, moving to try and peek into it, if I can. I draw in a deep breath, glancing at the chrome gleams, and then back at the whorl in front of his face.
[4:21 PM] zuark: It only lasts for a few seconds, and she can't really see what's in there—only that he's looking.
[4:21 PM] zuark: All at once the whorls dissolve, leaving only misty remnants that vanish when she stops concentrating.
[4:22 PM] zuark: "Your Uncle will be by later," he says. He tap-taps the notepad where he wrote the address. "Come by tomorrow. I will be there."
[4:24 PM] maquila: I look to the address then, and nod my head a few times. "Okay," I say then. "Yes, he said he'd be here later. Okay. I will…get a sandwich. And…call in to work and let Jason know why I will not be in…"
[4:28 PM] zuark: "Very good," Christopher says. "Well." He looks around a bit, nodding. "Goodbye for now, then."
[4:28 PM] maquila: "I will see you tomorrow," I say then, very relieved that he says he will be at this address tomorrow.
[4:31 PM] zuark: Christopher nods and turns, heading for the door.
[4:33 PM] maquila: I move to follow after him, but only so I can walk to the panini place – before I pause, and turn and get some wings from the wing place instead. I stare at the guy the whole time. "What do you think is the kind of wings a cowboy would like?" I ask.

pt. 14 Awakening Part 1
Getting into the room.

[10:01 AM] maquila: I watch him go, and then go back to lying there uncomfortably. I push my glasses up. Just remember what worked last time. Maybe he will not even show up.
[10:02 AM] zuark: She hears the truck pulling up outside a few moments later.
[10:03 AM] maquila: Oh, there he is. I make sure my back is arched (my back is beginning to hurt. How do people do this regularly? I assume this is what prostitutes do.) and eye the door.
[10:07 AM] zuark: The door opens and Phil steps through it.
[10:07 AM] maquila: "Hello," I say, back arching as I eye him. I smile. Okay, then I told the Rubik's cube joke. "Do you know what is the same between a Rubik's Cube and a Penis?" I ask then.
[10:08 AM] zuark: He stares flatly.
[10:09 AM] maquila: "They both get harder as you play with them," and I arch up then, shifting into the up doggie pose that's from Frasier, staring over at him.
[10:10 AM] zuark: "What the hell is this," Phil says.
[10:11 AM] maquila: He did not say the same words this time as he did last time, so I will need to be lewd and mention them. Wait – no, he mentioned the mambo. "You wished to mambo horizontally earlier," I say then, slowly arching and then rising. "So I am here to dance with you. Take your deposit to the bank." What else does he say. "Get you hard." Yes. Good.
[10:13 AM] zuark: He squints at her. "What are you doing."
[10:13 AM] zuark: Roll Manip + Persuasion.
[10:13 AM] maquila: WP…..
[10:14 AM] maquila: Manip 1 + Persuasion 1  + WP 3 = 5…..
[10:14 AM] maquila: 2s
[10:16 AM] zuark: He takes a step back, staggering. "What the hell…"
[10:16 AM] maquila: "I am seducing you," I say then. Get your hands on him. "Have you heard the joke about the woman who worked at the bank?" I begin slowly walking toward him then. "She is there and a man in a mask bursts in, waving a gun. GO INTO THE VAULT! he says. She says SIR, NO, PLEASE this is a SPERM BANK."
[10:16 AM] zuark: He falls back against the door, fumbles for the doorknob. "What the hell are you doing," he says. "Stop it."
10:18 AM] maquila: I get up to him and calmly put my hands on his arm. Get your hands on him. "He forces her into the vault. Okay, pick up one of those jars! he says. She begs again, sir, this is a sperm bank! Please! This is not where you should be! He demands she unscrew the ar and then drink its contnts. She begs and pleads – no, no, please! He waves his gun demandingly. So she throws back the sperm sample."I shift my hands to his chest. "And the man takes off his mask, revealing that he is her husband. 'There, that was not so hard, was it?'"
[10:23 AM] zuark: His anxiety melts out of his face and dissolves into a pervy grin. "Huhuhuhuhuhuh…."
[10:23 AM] maquila: I pat pat his chest absently. "Thank you, Phil."
[10:23 AM] zuark: He gropes Marcie's breast.
[10:24 AM] maquila: "Stop that," I say, then, and pull away to wander back to the couch and pick up my bag.
[10:27 AM] zuark: "What's with you, huh. All hot and cold. You wanted to do it a minute ago."
[10:27 AM] zuark: Phil glowers flatly.
[10:28 AM] zuark: Christopher steps in from the kitchen, then. "Right," he says. "Hello, old chap. I've been looking for you."
[10:28 AM] zuark: "Uh, hey, Chromie,' Phil says. "What are you doin' here?"
[10:28 AM] maquila: Christopher, you're supposed to come take him away now. I look toward the door Christopher went through, and then back to Phil. "I am leaving you wanting." Oh – good, there's Christopher.
[10:28 AM] zuark: "Come along, now," Christopher says. "And don't call me Chromie. I've told you."
[10:29 AM] zuark: "Come along. You've had a rough day. Back to the house, now—come along."
[10:29 AM] zuark: He takes Phil by the arm and escorts him out of the house.
[10:29 AM] zuark: This leaves Marcie alone now.
[10:30 AM] maquila: I suppose Christopher knows where Phil's house is. I stand there in the room for a moment. Light the flame, my parents said. I take a few beats, draw in a breath. I'm already there. I don't need to lift up the magnifying glass to see it. I know where I am. I didn't even necessarily have to come here, Christopher said, and Dad said, and I trust both of them implicitly, they wouldn't lie to me.  Light the flames. I shuffle into the kitchen. I dig out matches.
[10:34 AM] zuark: All right.
[10:34 AM] maquila: I get the matches. I tuck them into my leggings pocket, and shuffle back in. I am here. I am here. I pull out the magnifying glass and look around. How do I GET there? Except Christopher said there was no getting there that I"m already there.
[10:38 AM] maquila: Dad said this magnifying glass was the key – I needed this in order to unlock the door. All right. So I casually aim the magnifying glass at one of the sconces. I light a match step forward, and light a sconce – putting my hand up with the match to try and do so – whatever there in the room with me be damned.
[10:39 AM] zuark: In the room she's in,there's nothing on the wall. Just flat dry wall.
[10:39 AM] zuark: Wits + Occult.
[10:40 AM] maquila: Wits 2 +O cc 3 = 5
[10:40 AM] maquila: sob
[10:40 AM] maquila: failure
[10:41 AM] zuark: Marcie does notice that the sconce in the lens does flicker a bit when the match is brought near its corresponding location in the living room. But then again, the flame is constantly flickering erratically. Could be nothing.
[10:41 AM] maquila: Hmmm. It – flickered. Maybe it can detect the heat there. I hold the match there, as I hold up the magnifying glass, gently brushing it past where the sconce is within the glass.
[10:45 AM] maquila: Dad said I needed the magnifying glass and I needed to light the flames. I shuffle back and forth a little bit, staring up and around.  Maybe I ned a stronger flame? I don't know how to build a stronger flame. I peek around through the magnifying glass despite it making my had hurt – and then mov upstairs and look around my bedroom for some more symbols that might help.(edited)
[10:47 AM] zuark: Roll Int + Investigation.
[10:47 AM] maquila: Int 3 + Investigation 3 =6
[10:48 AM] maquila: failure
[10:48 AM] zuark: Marcie doesn't see anything new or stand-out, apart from the stuff she already knows about.
[10:49 AM] maquila: Perhaps feeling a bit dejected – definitely feeling dejected – I head back down to the living room where the oaken room is, and settle on the couch. Light the Flames. I know ostensibly how to do that, but not how to do that. I am here. And I just …need to believe I am there, but thre is obviously some barrier blocking me from being there.(edited)
[10:53 AM] maquila: I close my eyes. I am there. I am there. Christopher wouldn't lie to me. Dad wouldn't lie to me. I just have to believe hard enough. If I were to believe hard enough, even, I could grow gills. I should - I should look through my book more. Maybe there's more I missed…
[11:00 AM] zuark: Marcie looks through the book more, but doesn't seem to discover anything new in there.
[11:01 AM] maquila: I tuck the cipher book away thene. I stare around then. Well. Only other thing I can think of is possibly dping more than a match. I shuffle into the kitchen. I search through drawers until I manage to find a wooden stick. I wrap a towel around it. I tie it off so it stays at the top in a knot. I light it on fire.
[11:02 AM] zuark: She's got to use a broom handle. But sure.
[11:02 AM] maquila: That's okay. Once it's burning better than a match does, I shuffle back into the living room, hold up the magnifying glass – and hold the flame up to the light through the magnifying glass.
[11:04 AM] zuark: When the position of the burning broom handle exactly matches the position of the sconce, the sconce starts to flicker and glow more vibrantly
-less like a fake flame and more like a genuine one.
[11:05 AM] maquila: My eyes widen a bit. It's working! I hold it there for a moment – and once I got it there for a few seconds – I pull the broom away to see if it keeps flickering vibrantly.
[11:07 AM] zuark: It stops when she pulls the makeshift torch away.
[11:08 AM] maquila: Okay, so I have to rig ways to set this up. I put the magnifying glass. I'm going to need makeshift torches and put them where the torches in the room match up and then light them. Time to do some rough coordinating. I put out the fire for now in thee sink, and then get some duct tape and try to break the broom into four pieces.
[11:09 AM] zuark: Gimme a Wits + Crafts roll.
[11:09 AM] maquila: Crafts…
[11:10 AM] maquila: Chance die – I'm not sure a WP for 2 dice is worth it…
[11:10 AM] maquila: Chance die – I'm not sure a WP for 2 dice is worth it…
[11:11 AM] maquila: Failure central.
[11:11 AM] zuark: Marcie can easily break the broom handle in two. In four though? Not happening.
[11:11 AM] zuark: It becomes really hard to break.
[11:12 AM] maquila: Hm. I put those down then, and then go rooting around for more things to use as torches.
[11:14 AM] zuark: Int + Crafts.
[11:14 AM] maquila: Int 3 – 3 Crafts + WP 3 = 3
[11:14 AM] maquila: Failure, of course.
[11:16 AM] zuark: There are plenty of flammable materials in the house. Rags, etc. But putting together makeshift torches isn't trivial. The broom handle was a good call. But what else to use? A handled dish sponge?
[11:17 AM] maquila: That's plastic, and the fumes would likely kill me. I shuffle a bit. I suppose I could go and purchase a broom. I suppose I could break off a table leg from a table, if I can find the appropriate tools..
[11:21 AM] zuark: Whatcha gonna do?
[11:23 AM] maquila: I guess I briefly pack up my stuff and walk (carefully, avoiding getting struck) to go and get something wooden like another broom from a store and then come back.
[11:26 AM] zuark: Fair enough! Wooden brooms are easy to come by.
[11:26 AM] maquila: I then sneak back to the house.
[11:27 AM] zuark: She doesn't get hit by any trucks or anything.
[11:29 AM] maquila: Allright.  I break this broom in half and get to attaching the homemade torches where they match up with plenty of duct tape.
[11:31 AM] zuark: Simple enough.
[11:31 AM] zuark: Though you're creating a fire hazard.
[11:32 AM] maquila: I get the s extinguisher ready.
[11:34 AM] maquila: Then,  carefully,  I light all four.
[11:35 AM] zuark: When the fourth torch is lit, Marcie experiences a queasy sensation that makes her feel nauseous and off-balance for a moment. When she regains her senses, she's standing in the polished oaken room in front of the Timecube, still carrying her lighter in one hand and the magnifying glass in the other.
[2:04 PM] maquila: I feel sick – I feel sick - I almost want to curl up and clutch my head, but I don't. I wobble, my vision flutters, half dark. I blink a fw tims, whezing, and then push my glasses up my nose. Goggle-eyed, I look around.  I look up at the torchse and move to hold my hand near them for a minute to see if they're still warm – and then move forward to touch the time cube, and try to lift it up.
[3:46 PM] zuark: As she approaches the pedestal containing the Timecube, something happens that never has happened before. A narrow, slot-like opening opens up vertically in the center of it, a few inches long and a little less wide than Marcie's littlest finger.
[3:47 PM] maquila: I pause a beat then, staring at the slot. Something going down. It wants me to put something in. What do I have that fits in there? My finger doesn't fit. My magnifying glass won't fit. I hesitantly hold up the magnifying glass and look at it.
[4:01 PM] zuark: Actually, the magnifying glass looks like it might fit in there. The slot is about as long as the diameter of the lens.
[4:01 PM] maquila: Oh. I pause for a moment and then slowly slip the magnifying glass into it.
[4:07 PM] maquila: I'm very careful – holding the magnifying glass by both hands, and gently lining it up before putting it in.
[4:09 PM] zuark: It slips it all the way, making a pleasing little click as it disappears, irretrievably, into the slot.  And then the  domed roof starts to open up, rather like an observatory, revealing a foreign-looking canopy of stars and glass-like aurora borealis that's so gorgeous it hitches the breath in the back of Marcie's throat.  The whole room around her comes to life, the walls glowing and gleaming with symbols in a strange language that Marcie begins to feel, by degrees, that she understands somewhere deep inside her bones, a language that speaks a fundamental Truth of the universe that cannot ever be corrupted.
[4:12 PM] maquila: Click. I like that noise. I let out a breath. I glance up to the roof as it begins to open then, blinking a few times. My lips part after a beat – I stare goggle-eyed at the aurora borealis then for a moment, the stars, my eyes roaming over all of them. It takes a lot to pull my eyes away from the sky, but I do – turning to look at the walls. I think how the Timecube would split, like a flower. I feel like the whole room is about to split like a flower. I feel – dizzy. I feel dizzy, and pleased, like when Dad picked me up and spun me in a circle and pretended to eat my belly. I draw in a deep breath, my eyes beginning to water a bit – this is – this is beautiful.
[4:19 PM] zuark: The walls themselves begin to…well, they seem to fall away, to part away from the room like flower petals, although somehow the written symbols remain in place, and through the empty spaces Marcie starts to see a peculiar landscape beyond: a fantastical land beyond anything she's ever witnessed in her life. It's at once a technological paradise, full of futuristic buildings that look like something out of a sci-fi film, and yet at the same time a wild land of lush overgrowth, with thorny vines and tall trees winding through the landscape. Somehow the buildings look overgrown and yet functional and not ruined. And, superimposed on a sensory layer somewhere between the written symbols (floating in air) and the landscape beyond, Marcie starts to see small animated images of important moments in her life. She quickly picks out the two that she's already been to
-the Christmas she got Jellybean, and the time in the car—but they are merely two among hundreds if not thousands of moments that all seem to be playing out on tiny invisible TV screens simultaneously. This room, the walls, it seems to be projecting Marcie's entire life, all at once, in aggregate.
[4:23 PM] zuark: Marcie also notices that she seems to be at the top of some kind of tower, too—she's very high up, and through the projections, into the landscape, she can only barely make out the ground, far, far, below.
[4:24 PM] maquila: Is this the place I – already was? That Christopher was referring to? I blink a few times, and reach up to wipe at my eyes with my taco shirt.  I slowly step forward, studying the landscape – the buildings rising up, and the – lush greenery, the thorny vines, those tall trees.  I reach out to try and touch the floating symbols and then step forward slowly – leaning forward to study the animated moments. I watch – myself, little me, overwhelmed with joy – so joy I could cry – ripping open the box and pulling out Jellybean, Dad lingering near. Mom taking a picture of me in a car. I step slowly forward again, spinning. I pause as I realize I'm on top of the tower. I look down and around, carefully.
[4:25 PM] zuark: The symbols seem to mark these moments in her life somehow, each symbol referring to…not her actual life, exactly, it's not that simple—it's more like a coordinate system that she now just intuitively undersands.
[4:29 PM] maquila: It's – more like a coordinate system. I reach my hands out then, gently touching one symbol, then sliding my hand sideways. I pull up — Mom and I having cocoa after the man came to the house while they were away. When I felt  – I'd felt so scared. It's complicated. There are…layers. There are changes, I could have made, things that went differently, maybe. I know what symbols go where, somehow. How? I don't question it much – I reach and touch, and pull it up.
[4:32 PM] zuark: Thinking about the memory is almost enough to find it in the sea of moving images.
[4:34 PM] maquila: I watch it for a moment, studying it for a moment. I pause a beat – so I'm in side the Rubik's cube, maybe? Or is the cube the room itself? I – I wonder. I know it shows things from the — but - I take a moment, focusing, and try to reach for and touch December 6th, 2016.
[4:35 PM] zuark: When she starts looking for days in her future, things start to get overhwleming, confusing. She starts seeing events that contradict each other. Things that seem out of order, or
-maybe she just doesn't understand the order? The dates aren't numbered, this place is just too sophisticated for such a primitive system of counting…
[4:37 PM] maquila: I don't think I understand the order. Or are these – on top of each other? Are these – if I trace them back, are there points where things split?  I draw in a deep breath – shifting sideways again. I hesitate, and then slip to the   can I see – what if I try to see others? What if I look on Mom and Dad, and go to the movie theater…(edited)
[4:38 PM] zuark: She can't go directly to the movie theater
-but she can find what she thinks is the day that it happened. The last day she saw her parents alive.
[4:38 PM] zuark: She sees her mom and dad huddled in front of the door of the house while she stands on the stairs, trying to eavesdrop on their hushed conversation.
[4:38 PM] zuark: She sees them hurriedly collecting their things, getting ready to go.
[4:39 PM] maquila: She sees them telling her to stay in the house – they emphasized it that day, too.  Stay until we get home, Mom said. Stay, said Dad. He'd touched her hair.
[4:39 PM] zuark: Yes.(edited)
[4:41 PM] maquila: What do you do if they don't ever come home? I pause then, my cheeks growing hot, and draw in a deep breath again. I think that's why I like it when I see Christopher, and when Uncle Greg and Christopher both came back.  I swipe at my eyes with my taco shirt again, drawing in a deep breath, feeling snotty, and then gently lowering my hands. It takes a moment – but then I reach up and touch th symbols and pull up today. December 5th. 2016. Present.
[4:44 PM] maquila: Today. I know all the variations that can happen today. Well – not all. There are others that I never did. I never asked the lady at the library if I could be a nun. I did not just leave in my van and putter along. I did not ever do gross things with Phil.
[4:47 PM] zuark: She can see all of the variations of December 5th as if they're all happening concurrently. Finally she understands what Christopher was talking about.
[4:47 PM] zuark: You're not repeating. Time isn't linear.
[4:47 PM] zuark: Everything's happening all at once, all the time, in one great big forever.
[4:49 PM] maquila: Oh. That's why Christopher also disliked alongside. It's not next to each other. It's just – it's all piled on top of each other. But not. It's all homogonous, all together. I smile a little bit to myself. I told Christopher that I thought he'd make sense eventually – and he does. I draw in a deep breath at that. I could – look at this forever. But Dad said that I had to find it in myself to keep moving. And if I just sit here, I'm not moving. I can – do this. I pull my hands back, slowly. I look around for a moment. I look to see if I can – find a way down from this tall building, to the green and the buildings below.
[4:51 PM] zuark: The tower she's standing at the top of is high up indeed
-and it looks like a sheer drop. Roll Int + Investigation.
[4:51 PM] maquila: Int 3 + Investigation 3 = 6
[4:51 PM] maquila: Today isn't Marcie's day. Failure.
[4:53 PM] zuark: Marcie doesn't see any clear way down, short of simply jumping off.
[4:54 PM] maquila: I tried jumping off something before. It did not go well. I consider for a moment – and then try the symbols, trying to see if  – if I chose to jump right now, what would happen?
[4:54 PM] zuark: Roll Wits + Occult 1.
[4:56 PM] maquila: Wits 2 + Occult 3 – 1 = 4. I'd spend a WP but I honestly expect to fail this so…
[4:56 PM] maquila: Failure.
[4:58 PM] zuark: She doesn't find any images of her life right now.  But there's an overwhelming sea of images; it's not even remotely easy to find precisely what one wants. She feels she's been extraordinarily lucky finding the few things she has found.
[4:59 PM] maquila: I draw in a deep breath then, and then shuffle around the edge of the building. Well. I am not a good climber. I stand on the edge of the building. How far away is the next building? I am also not a good jumper.
[5:00 PM] zuark: Far enough away that jumping is not even a remote possibility. Unless she wants to risk the long, long fall.
[5:01 PM] maquila: I hesitate at that then, looking down. Are the vines climbing this building? Is there a big super tall tree closer?
[5:04 PM] zuark: There are vines climbing up the building, yes.
[5:04 PM] zuark: Plenty of trees, but she's way up above the height of most of them, and the ones that are tall enough are too far away.
[5:04 PM] maquila: Okay. I move slowly to the vines, and gently take ahold of one I tug on it a bit to see if it pulls away from the building easily.
[5:05 PM] zuark: Not easily. It's tangled up in all the other vines, in a vast network that spans the side of the tower like ivy.
[5:05 PM] zuark: It's also covered in thorns.
[5:05 PM] maquila: Are the thorns far enough apart I could conceivably try using them as handholds to climb down?
[5:06 PM] zuark: Conceivably yes.
[5:06 PM] maquila: Okay. I start trying that.
[5:07 PM] zuark: Roll Str + Athletics.
[5:07 PM] maquila: str 1 + ath 1 = 2 :)
[5:07 PM] maquila: I guess I'll WP this…
[5:07 PM] zuark: You're out of WP.
[5:08 PM] maquila: Oh. I had myself at 2 – but got it.
[5:08 PM] maquila: 2s
[5:09 PM] zuark: Marcie starts climbing her way down the side of the tower. The descent is mind-bogglingly long. A few feet down and her arms are burning. A few more and they're shaking. A few beyond that and even the climb back up to the top starts to feel like mortal peril, let alone the hundreds of yards she has yet to go.
[5:10 PM] maquila: Oh no. This was a bad idea. I freeze then, clinging to the vines for a long moment. I look back up, and then look down, and then look back up, and then look back down. My arms hurt so bad. I flail my hand upward, trying to grab on to something a bit up – my arms shaking.
[5:10 PM] zuark: Str + Athletics.
[5:10 PM] maquila: Shaken.
[5:11 PM] zuark: Marcie's grip gives out. She's too scared to try to climb up. Her hands slip, and she starts to fall.
[5:11 PM] zuark: There's a moment of terror and panic as she accelerates at a rapid rate, the vines and stone rushing past her in a blur.
[5:12 PM] maquila: I'm going to die. Can I fwimble here? I don't know if I can fwimble here. This seems like a place beyond fwimbling. I wish I could fwimble here. I panic and flail wildly as I try to reach out, grab ahold of anything, scramble simultaneously to hang on to my glasses – anything.
[5:15 PM] zuark: Her arm flails out, grasps hold of one of the vines on the way down. The vine seems by chance to be particularly loose from the lattice of vines attached to the stone, and it comes free in one long cowabunga rope. She swings along the circumference of the tower, clinging desperately to the vine, and finds herself coming to a breathless, panicked halt maybe 3/4 of the way up the tower's height, hanging on to her life by a thread.
[5:18 PM] maquila: My heart is hammering in my chest.  I feel like everything is overwhelming. I cling for dear life – I want to just hang here and catch my breath, but I don't know how I'm supposed to do that, my arms are burning I can't hang on forever. I kick my legs a little bit, swinging around the edge. I look down, I look up, I look sideways -window? Is there a window?
[5:19 PM] zuark: No windows, no. As she clings on, the vine starts to give
-not tearing in her hands, but tearing away from the network of vines keeping it attached to the tower, in the manner of a single thread being pulled away from a sweater. The vine elongates in fits and starts, tearing free from the lattice attached to the building. Far above her, the vine-network is coming undone in the manner of said sweater as she is losing altitude in sudden jolts of 10, 15 yards at a time.
[5:20 PM] maquila: "Aaaaah!" I say wildly, clinging tight to the vine – each time it jolts I fumble for a few moments, scrambling to stay attached and not just drop the rest of the way in one long go. I stare wide-eyed up at the vines as they keep coming undone, wildly. What if they all fall at once?
[5:21 PM] zuark: Rrrrip. Rrrrrrip. RRRRRRRRRIIIPPPPPPPP. The vine starts to come undone all at once, and Marcie starts to plummet again as, above her, the lattice of vinework starts to unravel entirely.
[5:22 PM] maquila: I flail wildly again and clamor as much as I can to cling to it. I  look down as the ground rushes up toward me, my stomach rising into my throat, and kick and swing, wildly, trying to find anything that might slow my descent. Oh no oh no oh no oh no oh no.
[5:25 PM] zuark: Roll Dex + Athletics.
[5:26 PM] maquila: Dex 3 + Athletics 1 = 4
[5:26 PM] maquila: 2s
[5:29 PM] zuark: She falls rapidly, to what feels like terminal velocity, until her body falls into a network of thorny vines that's clinging to the side of the tower like a huge spider's web. It cushions her impact, tearing away as she falls into it—and then she enters another brief free-fall, until she hits another network of vines, which tears, and then another brief free fall—it's almost like a whimsical cartoon, the way these networks of vines seem almost carefully placed to cushion her descent by degrees. It's not gentle, though. Each fall is a dizzying whirlwind of disorienting thorns and vines, scratching and tearing at her all over, until they finally spit her out and down onto the ground. She lands with an 'oof!' and a feeling like she ought to have a few broken bones—but considering what she's just been though she's sustained remarkably little damage.
[5:29 PM] zuark: She finds herself lying face-down in the grassy dirt at the foot of the tower. Overhead, she hears the rrrrripppppppping sound of the vines.
[5:31 PM] maquila: I draw in a deep breath and let it out then, staring down at the grassy dirt for a few minutes. In and out, in and out – and then I flail wildly and scramble to my feet and hurriedly dive to the side, rushing to get out of the way of the falling vines before I get stuck in a canopy I can't get out from, like a cat whose had ablanket thrown over it. How can I get up? I don't know – I feel like I've broken bones, or at least should break bones, and I feel dizzy, and is my nose bleeding? I don't know. I rub at my nose.
[5:31 PM] maquila: Uncle Greg was watching Road Runner this morning. And Wile E Coyote always falls off buildings…
[5:38 PM] maquila: How did I manage to hit all the vines that were net like? I look up then and to the left. How did I do that? I don't even know. I - I got pretty lucky!
[5:40 PM] zuark: Unfortunately she doesn't have a few minutes. As she's catching her breath, the network of vines above starts to seriously come apart
-and, amazingly, the vines seem to be what was holding the old stone together. The dome at the top splits and the stone crumbles. The whole thing is coming apart, and it looks like it's primed to fall RIGHT on top of Marcie!
[5:40 PM] zuark: Maybe not so lucky after all!?!
[5:41 PM] maquila: AAAH! NOT SO LUCKY AT ALL!  I stare up wide-eyed at this, stunned into inaction for a second, before I let out another shriek – remarkably similar to when I saw a racoon in my apartment – and turn and wildly charge as hard as I can …not straight back – not straight back, but to the side, because it's a building it can only come one way, right? That's as far as it can come? RUN MARCIE RUN!
[5:45 PM] zuark: Roll Stamina + Athletics.
[5:46 PM] maquila: Stamina 2 + Athletics 1 = 3!!!
[5:46 PM] maquila: Fial :)
[5:47 PM] zuark: She's out of breath and stumbling. She's certain she's not going to make it. Roll Wits + Comp.
[5:48 PM] maquila: Wits 2 + Comp 3 = 5
[5:48 PM] maquila: 3s
[5:48 PM] zuark: Up ahead she does see a hole in the ground. Big enough to wriggle into.
[5:49 PM] maquila: OH! OH! A hole in the ground to wiggle in. I dash as hard as I can toward it and then dive in, wiggling and scrambling in as quick as I can.
[5:49 PM] maquila: Maybe I am lucky?!
[5:52 PM] maquila: What MADE this hole though? I don't know, whatever, GET OUT OF THE WAY OF THE FALLING BUILDING that is the important thing right now.
[5:52 PM] zuark: Marcie scrambles in just in time to look back and see the tremendous impact of stone and vines and wood and flickering images of her life being obliterated in the crash. She has to duck way down in the tiny burrow in which she finds herself to avoid getting blasted with a face full of scattered rock.
[5:53 PM] maquila: Oh no oh no oh no - I duck down as low as I can, my arms going over my head.
[5:54 PM] zuark: Marcie is safe from the impact
-although something small and hard does thwack her on the back of the head and fall into her lap.
[5:54 PM] zuark: …The timecube.
[5:55 PM] maquila: Whew. Okay. Okay. I'm safe in this little hole. I don't know what made it, but I am grateful that I am not dead. I tilt my head up – right as I get thwacked. OW. I blink a few times, and then stare down at the Timecube in my lap, and then pick it up after a beat, and then hug it to my chest.
[5:58 PM] maquila: Okay. I take a few moments, waiting for the dust and rubble to settle.
[6:03 PM] maquila: Once it does, I slowly climb up and out, peeking my head this way and that like a bunny poking its head out of a rabbit hole.
[6:07 PM] zuark: Marcie wriggles out of the tiny burrow and finds herself among the ruins of the tower. The sigils are gone. There's the snapped wooden pedestal, amid the stones.
[6:08 PM] maquila: I stare at the wooden pedestal – but I still have the timecube. So that's good! I hold on to it tightly, gripping it in my hands. It's the only thing familiar here. I look around for a moment, as I slowly and painfully stand up. "Christopher?" I ask the air then – is this some other …afterworld thingy, like in a movie? And Christopher is here? I start walking slowly along.

pt. 13 Debasement
Hello Mitch.

[11:22 AM] zuark: Christopher steps out and follows after her, walking along toward the bus stop. "We shall have to deal with Phil again," he says.
[11:22 AM] maquila: I look doubtfully at him. "With the wiles?"
[11:22 AM] zuark: "It worked last time, did it not?"
[11:23 AM] maquila: I sigh. "Yes." I climb on the bus. "We need to get off three stops before so that we can sneak to the house."
[11:24 AM] zuark: Christopher nods. "All right."
[11:29 AM] maquila: I move to sit down next to Mitch. "Hello, Mitch," I say to him, and then face forward.
[11:30 AM] zuark: Mitch gives Marcie a bewildered look. "Do I know you?"
[11:32 AM] maquila: I consider this question, and then nod once, before going back to ignoring him to look at Christopher. "What did you and Uncle Greg talk about?"
[11:39 AM] zuark: "The Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle," Christopher answers.
[11:40 AM] maquila: "Oh," I say to that then, and nod my head. I fold my hands down on to my legs then, tapping my leg. "Do you think that Mr. White will hurt Uncle Greg?"
[11:44 AM] zuark: "I think he will probably try."
[11:44 AM] zuark: "Your Uncle is something of a legend, as it happens."
[11:45 AM] maquila: I fidget a little bit as I sit next to Christopher then. "Oh," I say, sounding dreadful – my stomach dropping. I blink a moment and glance to him. "…He is a cowboy, I suppose, which would make him a legend because cowboys tend to quickly become legends – see Pecos Bill."
[11:45 AM] zuark: Christopher shakes his head. "I mean that he personally is very well known in certain circles."
[11:47 AM] maquila: "Oh. As what?"
[11:49 AM] zuark: "The sort of person whom Mr. White would be ill-advised to make trouble with."
[11:53 AM] maquila: "Oh. " I say then, seeming a little bit more relieved at that, folding my hands into my lap. "I do not think he likes Phil. I am uncertain as to why – but Phil did not even say anything lewd as I was leaving. I wonder if it is because of Uncle Greg."(edited)
[11:56 AM] zuark: "It is probably because Phil is a socially hopeless and entirely unrepentant and irredeemable pervert."
[11:59 AM] maquila: I consider that for a long thoughtful moment. "I am socially hopeless," I say then, nodding my head a little bit – seeming to accept this. I shift a bit. "Here is where we wish to get off unless we wish to die to a truck hitting us."
[12:00 PM] zuark: "I would say disembarking is advisable, then." He casually moves to the doors as the bus rolls to a halt.
[12:00 PM] zuark: "I would say disembarking is advisable, then." He casually moves to the doors as the bus rolls to a halt.
[12:01 PM] maquila: I rise and move after him then, stepping off the bus. "Okay, now we need to be VERY sneaky getting to the house, so that we do not die." I start maneuvering sneakily along, like I have twelve times.
[12:01 PM] zuark: Roll Dex + Stealth. This roll has the rote quality.
[12:01 PM] maquila: Hahahahahaha
[12:02 PM] maquila: Dex 3 + Stealth…3i I think I'm getting my sheet opened
[12:03 PM] maquila: If my sheet loads.
[12:05 PM] maquila: There. Dex 3 + Stealth 3 = 6!
[12:05 PM] maquila: 1s
[12:07 PM] zuark: Christopher follows alongside Marcie, head swiveling this way and that. He seems moderately more concerned about being hit by a truck than Marcie feels.
[12:08 PM] maquila: "It is okay," I say – trying to sound comforting like Dad did. "Normally the last time I run into the truck is that street." And as we slip past it, I shuffle then toward the house slowly and carefully and head around back to start my normal lockpicking process.
[12:08 PM] zuark: Dex + Larceny +2. Rote.
[12:08 PM] maquila: Dex 3 + Larceny 2 + spec + 2 = 8 dice, rote
[12:09 PM] maquila: 5s
[12:09 PM] zuark: Marcie picks the lock effortlessly in seconds. She has the tumblers memorized.
[12:09 PM] zuark: "That was fast," Christopher says.
[12:10 PM] maquila: I push it open then. "I have unlocked the door at least fifteen times," I inform Christopher then, with a single nod. "I know where the tumbles are and how they are supposed to go." I hold it open for him then, and then slip in.
[12:10 PM] zuark: Christopher nods and steps inside.
[12:11 PM] maquila: "Okay. I suppose I should…arrange myself for Phil," I say then, disappointed, and shuffle over to the couch, to do the uncomfortable back arch and blank stare into space.
[12:12 PM] zuark: Christopher gives Marcie a very skeptical look. "That…actually worked?"
[12:12 PM] maquila: "…Yes. I started this way, then I moved to another, and I smiled, and I told him dirty jokes, as the articles online said, and then I got my hand on him." I nod my head then. "I followed their directions exactly."
[12:13 PM] zuark: He sighs. "I will move to another room temporarily. I do not wish to witness you debasing yourself in this manner. Excuse me."
[12:13 PM] maquila: "Thank you," I say, and wait uncomfortably.
[12:16 PM] zuark: Christopher steps out of the living room and into the kitchen area, disappearing from view.

pt. 12 Getting Uncle Greg
Howdy, li'l lady.

[12:00 AM] zuark: He laughs a little. "Wish they did," he says.
[12:00 AM] maquila: "Oh," I say. "What do they like?"
[12:01 AM] zuark: "Movies, an'…girl stuff," he says, shrugging.
[12:03 AM] maquila: "Oh," I say understandingly to that. "I do not understand  girl stuff either," I say then, patting his arm, and then turn to shuffle toward my apartment. I let myself in. I take enough pills to feel sleepy, and go curl up in bed around Jellybean.
[12:09 AM] maquila: I close my eyes then, and try to sleep.
[10:28 AM] maquila: Sleep sleep sleep.
[10:31 AM] zuark: Marcie is vaguely aware of a loud BANG sound in her sleep—a spike of pain and a shudder. Roll Res + Comp 1.
[10:31 AM] maquila: Oh! I wonder if Phil came here. Res 3  + comp 3 – 1 = 5
[10:31 AM] maquila: 2s
[10:32 AM] zuark: Marcie awakens in the polished oaken room with the cube. Take the Shaken Condition.
[10:33 AM] zuark: She barely felt it, but Marcie is aware that she 'died.' Her heart is pounding, shaking off the after-effects of the sleeping pills. Her hands are trembling and she feels cold.
[10:35 AM] maquila: I touch my hand to my chest then and shake. WAS it Phil? I asked him to come to the apartment and kill me – I asked him to, but was it Phil? He normally doesn't switch up his route. I've also nevere told him to come to where I live to kill me, either. What if it was Mr. White? What if it was someone I didn't want around? What if there are more people trying to kill me, too?
[10:36 AM] maquila: If it was Phil, that makes sense, but if it wasn't, then who? I don't know, I was sleeping.
[10:36 AM] maquila: I draw in a deep breath and just focus on shaking for a little bit, my arms wrapped tight around myself.
[10:37 AM] zuark: The room is oddly cold. Even though there are four torches in the room, none of them seem to give off any heat
-only flickering light.
[10:37 AM] maquila: I look around. That's different. Pay attention to the differences, Christopher said. I've never noticed it being cold before. I draw in a deep breath and let it out. I start searching the room for other differences – physical ones.(edited)
[10:40 AM] zuark: Int + Comp.
[10:40 AM] maquila: INt 3 + Comp 3 = 6
[10:40 AM] maquila: 1s
[10:40 AM] zuark: Actually that's not true. Marcie does remember passing close by one of the torches previously—it didn't give off any heat then either.
[10:41 AM] maquila: Yeah, it didn't give off any heat either though – though maybe it's just me being shaken that I notice the cold. I draw in a breath and let it out, and turn to the cube. I reach out, and gently touch the coordinates to go to the car, with the photo.
[10:43 AM] zuark: The fades of the cube open up like the petals of a flower, revealing a bright white light.
[10:44 AM] maquila: Christopher said just believe. Dad said the best thing I can do to move forward is find it within myself. I'm experiencing a journey into myself. I draw in a deep breath.
[10:44 AM] maquila: I put my hand into the flower cube.
[10:46 AM] zuark: All goes white a moment—and then Marcie finds herself sitting in the back seat of the car, eyes almost all the way closed. Through her lashes she can see her parents in the front seats, Dad driving, Mom watching the road.
[10:47 AM] maquila: I need to at least keep my eyes closed long enough for Mom to take the picture. I shift and hug Jellybean closer, leaning against the window.
[10:52 AM] maquila: If I don't, they won't have that to write on later, and – and – I won't find it. Right? Probably.
[10:52 AM] maquila: I mean unless it resets but – maybe it doesn't, because Christopher and I are moving forward, even if December 5th resets, there are…changes…
[10:55 AM] zuark: Mom points the camera at her and snaps the Polaroid picture. "You're going to wake her," Dad whispers. "She sleeps like a rock," Mom counters.
[10:57 AM] maquila: There we go. I draw in a deep breath – slow and sleepy, before blink-blinking a few tims and rubbing my face for a moment, still hugging Jellybean. I don't know how to say it in a gentle way. How do I start this conversatoin? I don't know, how do most people start conversations. Hello, it is your nineteen year old daughter from the future, coming back here to ask for help. "Dad," I say. "When we get to the next rest stop, you need to sew up Jellybean's belly and put a cube in it so I can go to that Christmas time."
[10:57 AM] maquila: There, that gets information across AND reveals that it's nineteen year old me.
[11:01 AM] zuark: Dad gives Marcie a worried glance in the rear view and then looks at Mom. Mom says, "It's happening again."  Dad says, "Yeah."
[11:03 AM] maquila: I nod my head a little bit and then draw in a deep breath, hugging Jellybean tightly. "Who's trying to get it? If I'd pretended to be sleeping I know - I know you guys mention how someone keeps trying to get it…"
[11:07 AM] zuark: Mom and Dad look at each other again. Then Dad looks at Marcie through the mirror. "People who shouldn't be allowed to have it," he says.
[11:08 AM] maquila: "Uncle Greg too? Should I stop trying to call him and stuff?"
[11:08 AM] zuark: At the mention of Uncle Greg, Mom looks annoyed
-like she can't help herself. Dad shakes his head though. "No," he says. "Uncle Greg is the one who gave it to us. For safe keeping."
[11:09 AM] zuark: "And he hasn't taken it back," Mom says. "I just want to be rid of the thing…"
[11:09 AM] maquila: I nod my head a little bit to that and rub my eyes again with smaller hands than I'm used to, rubbing my palms across my face. "Oh." I look to Mom. "Do you not like Uncle Greg?"
[11:09 AM] zuark: Mom sighs. "He's—caused us a lot of trouble."
[11:11 AM] maquila: "Oh," I say then, and nod a little bit.  I'm silent for a moment, hugging Jellybean again. "Christopher said that I am like an electron in Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principal and that the scary man, Mr. White, is trying to observe me."
[11:14 AM] zuark: Mom shakes her head. "I—don't know what that means, hon."
[11:14 AM] zuark: "The Uncertainty Principle," Dad says, "is that you can't measure both the momentum and the position of an electron at the same time. Measuring one changes the other. The observer influences the state, in other words."
[11:14 AM] zuark: Mom nods at Dad with confused eyebrows.
[11:15 AM] maquila: "Yeah. It's – an electron is two things at once, but if you observe it, it is only one thing and can no longer be the other. I find a book at a Goodwill later that teaches me about it." I rub my eyes and then. "What do I do? Did you guys have any ideas?"
[11:19 AM] zuark: Dad looks at Mom. "We need to tell her how to unlock the room."
[11:19 AM] zuark: Mom shakes her head. "We can't risk it. They might be listening. They're always listening."
[11:20 AM] zuark: Dad: "If we don't tell her how, she'll never get in, and she won't be able to—"
[11:20 AM] zuark: Mom: "Clearly she's already figured it out!"
[11:20 AM] maquila: "Christopher says I can if I just believe it," I say then. "And Mr. White knows I know about stuff too so he might be."
[11:20 AM] zuark: Dad: "Maybe it's because she had our help!"
[11:21 AM] maquila: "Christopher helped me get the key and the magnifying glass which gives me a headache, and the cipher book." I rub at my face. "And I find - you guys left some drawings and stuff…" I drop my hands into my lap.
[11:22 AM] zuark: Dad: "Key? Cipher book?"
[11:22 AM] maquila: "Umm," I say. "I don't know if I should talk about it or just let you guys – sort it out…?" I ask – Dad is the one who stops mom if something is unneeded.
[11:23 AM] zuark: Dad looks at Mom. "We must have left her some kind of coded message."
[11:23 AM] zuark: Mom nods.
[11:23 AM] maquila: I nod. "The key is to a safety deposit box. But I didn't know that until Christopher told me."
[11:24 AM] zuark: Dad looks at Marcie in the mirror. "Yeah," he says. "We keep the
-you know, in there. You can't get into the room without that."
[11:24 AM] maquila: "There's another part of the cipher I haven't figured out yet. It looks like the two of you mixing your handwriting. So I'll…keep poking at that." I pause then as he says that and nod my head a few times.
[11:24 AM] zuark: Dad: "I'll—leave you a message. I'll leave you everything you need to get into the room. I'll make sure. Okay?"
[11:25 AM] zuark: Mom: "Why does she need to get in there? What's she going to do?"
[11:25 AM] zuark: Dad shakes his head. "I don't know. But it's clearly necessary."
[11:25 AM] zuark: Dad: "And if we're gone…she'll need to."
[11:25 AM] maquila: "I don't know," I say then. "It might be bad if Mr. White can get in there too. Christopher says it's worse than even maybe someone dropping a bomb…"
[11:25 AM] zuark: Mom: "If we're gone, Greg should be the one to look after it. Not her."
[11:26 AM] maquila: "Uncle Greg never answers the phone. I dunno if his number is old maybe."
[11:26 AM] zuark: Dad looks at Marcie. "Tell me the exact day. The year."
[11:27 AM] maquila: "December 5th, 2016. I wake up at 12:08PM and I get Jellybean and the cocklamp set up first thing before I do anything else." I don't know why that's relevent.
[11:27 AM] zuark: Dad nods. "And—we need to know where too. Exactly where."
[11:27 AM] zuark: Mom scrambles to get out a pen and a notepad.
[11:27 AM] maquila: "The house or where I am?"
[11:27 AM] zuark: Dad: "We need to know where to send your Uncle Greg."
[11:27 AM] zuark: Mom: "If he can be bothered to show up."
[11:28 AM] zuark: Dad: "He will. He has to."
[11:28 AM] maquila: "Where I wake up. " I give my address in Brooklyn. "First floor apartment."
[11:28 AM] zuark: Mom writes it down carefully.
[11:28 AM] maquila: "I go there after you – after some police show up to say you guys are gone. I get scared, and I grab everything and put it in the van and go there."
[11:28 AM] zuark: Dad: "I promise you," he says to Marcie, "if your Uncle Greg is alive, he'll be there on that day."
[11:29 AM] maquila: I wonder if…Christopher is my Uncle Greg. I nod my head a little bit to that. "Okay.  Okay, and I can get all the stuff with him and – take him to the house, so he can get it and make sure Mr. White doesn't."
[11:29 AM] zuark: Mom: "Maybe this isn't a good idea. Maybe Greg will interfere with…with whatever's happening."
[11:30 AM] zuark: Dad shakes his head. "He'll know what to do. He'll know how to handle it."
[11:30 AM] zuark: Mom: "Why do you trust him so much? After all he's done?"
[11:30 AM] zuark: Dad: "Why don't you?"
[11:30 AM] zuark: Mom sighs irritably and looks out the window.
[11:31 AM] maquila: "Okay." I say then. "If you trust Uncle Greg, too, I will trust Uncle Greg. I only trust Christopher and Phil otherwise. Even if I don't like Phil."
[11:32 AM] zuark: Dad shakes his head. "I don't know who those people are," he says. "It's frustrating to be so—behind. I wish I could help you more, Marcie."
[11:33 AM] maquila: "It's okay," I say then – and pause a little and smile crookedly. "I'm glad I – get to see you guys again. Even like this." I draw in a breath, feeling suddenly scared and lonely again, drawing in a sharp breath and letting it out. "O-okay. I should go back."
[11:35 AM] zuark: "We love you," Mom says earnestly. "Please be careful. Please be well."
[11:35 AM] maquila: "I love you guys too," I say then, my voice cracking, and I hug Jellybean tight and – and try to drop back.
[11:37 AM] zuark: Marcie feels that pit in her stomach again, that feeling of empty loneliness, like she'll never see these two again. But after a brief flutter of consciousness she awakens to the sound of a street sweeper growling past her apartment window.
[11:37 AM] maquila: I get up then, shakily, and hurry to stumble out of my bed. I move to the door to open it and peek around for - someone new?
[11:38 AM] zuark: When she wakes up properly, she can hear the sound of her TV playing in the living room. Sounds like…cartoons?
[11:38 AM] maquila: Oh. I blink a few times then, rubbing at my face a few times, and fall out of bed and go to peek out the bedroom door into the living room?
[11:40 AM] zuark: From her bedroom door, she can see her living room TV. Indeed Looney Tunes is on. Road Runner is running away from Wile E. Coyote. The volume is turned pretty low. Across from the TV, on Marcie's couch, there's a man. He's wearing faded blue jeans with a tear on the right shin, heavy leather steel-toed boots that are propped up on her coffee table, ankles crossed. He's reclined deep on the couch, weathered, callused hands laced over his button-down plaid shirt. He's wearing a brimmed hat, with is tipped down low over his face, blocking out the light
-as he's apparently napping.
[11:42 AM] maquila: I glance at the television, and then – defensively from behind my door so I can shut it if I need to (how do people keep getting into my apartment???? And using it! Looking at you Christopher…) I ask – with a hesitant sort of loudness to try and wake him: "Uncle Greg?"
[11:45 AM] zuark: The man doesn't move or react. He's clearly asleep.
[11:46 AM] maquila: I glance around again and then slowly open the door, stepping through it then. I walk slowly – in my pajamas (which are covered with chickens for reasons unknown), my floor creaking to lift up his hat and stare at his face.
[11:48 AM] maquila: "Uncle Greg?" I repeat. He looks…like a cowboy…
[11:50 AM] zuark: He's got a weathered face—not a huge number of wrinkles, but the ones that are there are carved deep: laugh lines around the mouth, crow's feet, and a few ridges across the forehead. His stubbled beard is salt and pepper, and his face just has that worn, weathered look to it, like well-used leather.  One of his eyes squints open, and slowly, like one of the tree-people in Lord of the Rings, he lifts his feet off the coffee table, sets them on the floor, and sits up a little straighter.
[11:50 AM] zuark: "You sleep in awful late," he drawls.
[11:52 AM] maquila: "I work until 6AM," I say then, shuffling a little bit. I move to get into a box and pull out the cock lamp.  "Are you really a cowboy? You dress and sound like one…"
[11:54 AM] zuark: "If it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck," he says lazily, not bothering to even finish the sentence.
[11:55 AM] maquila: "I liked the card you sent me when I was little," I say then. "And I still have the hat." I move then to get the light bulb down – I move like I've done this a hundred times – and head to set up the cocklamp and turn it on. Then I disappear for a moment  and come back out in a hat and my taco shirt and red leggings, and move to dig out the key.
[11:57 AM] zuark: He tips the hat a little further back on his head, sitting all the way up now, and watching her move around.
[12:10 PM] maquila: I finish my routine by gently picking up Jellybean and putting him delicately on my pillow.  "Okay,"  I say.  I adjust my hat.  "I am ready.  Let's go."
[12:15 PM] zuark: He rises unhurriedly to his feet and collects his jacket which he'd draped over the back of the couch. As he does, she notices the holster hanging loosely at his hip. "Where we goin'?"
[12:31 PM] maquila: "Do  you have a gun?"  I ask thoughtfully.  "Oh.  First I am going to tell Phil to come here so he does not assassinate me.  Then we go to the bank to get the cipher book and the key to get the magnifying glass out of this lockbox.  Then we will ride the bus three stops before the house and sneak the rest of the way and then we'll be there. "
[12:37 PM] maquila: I pat my bag again and then step out.  "Louis,  you will need to use mortar,"  I inform him then,  before shuffling out to the street.
[12:38 PM] zuark: "Uh—yeah, you're probably right," Louis says, flustered. Uncle Greg follows along, walking at a pace rather a good deal slower than Marcie is used to walking.
[12:46 PM] maquila: "I have fwimbled this day at least twenty times,"  I inform Uncle Greg as I slow my shuffle.  "So I know it pretty well."  I watch him for a minute as I shuffle.  "Thank you for coming.  Dad said you would but he wasn't sure you'd be alive and I'd called a few times but your phone doesn't work."
[12:51 PM] zuark: "Reckon ya dad always figured he'd outlive me," Uncle Greg says casually as he walks along.
[12:54 PM] maquila: "I think Mr.  White killed them,"  I say then,  and wave at Phil.  " Let me convince Phil not to assassinate me at the house,"  I say and wander up to him.  "Hi Phil."
[12:55 PM] zuark: Phil eyes Marcie as she comes up. "Hey, sexy," he says. "How ya doin'?"
[12:56 PM] zuark: Uncle Greg glowers at Phil—first impression here is immediately obvious.
[4:18 PM] maquila: I wonder how come Uncle Greg does not like Phil. I warned him he is an assassin. "Hello Phil." Step one – get your hands on them. I put a hand on his arm. "When you shoot me later, could you meet me at my apartment instead of at the house? My apartment is just down there." I point then down from where I came from. "1B. "
[6:00 PM] zuark: "Huhuhuhuh," Phil says. "Sure I'll come to your apartment, sexy. We gonna do the horizontal mumbo?"
[6:00 PM] zuark: Uncle Greg stares at Phil flatly.
[6:02 PM] maquila: I furrow my brow. "…I am unsure how to do the mambo vertically, but I suppose if you enjoy dancing…?" I pat at his arm, and then turn to walk toward the bank.
[6:08 PM] zuark: "Huhuhuhuh," Phil says, although he abruptly stops for some reason after Marcie's turned her back.
[6:09 PM] zuark: Uncle Greg trails after her steadily.
[6:10 PM] maquila: I glance over my shoulder confused – normally he shouts something about his crotch and how he is hard. "That is strange," I say to Uncle Greg. "Normally he shouts something lewd once I am a couple meters away…"
[6:11 PM] maquila: "But with that in mind, he should not at least be an issue at the house. It is not his fault, Christopher says. He starts acting like an assassin, and forgets that he is not, so he just thinks he must assassinate me. I have snapped him out of it previously, but i do not like doing it."
[6:18 PM] zuark: Uncle Greg doesn't say anything, just walks alongside her, listening.
[6:21 PM] maquila: "Christopher is normally waiting on me in the bank," I inform Uncle Greg. We get to the bank. I open the door and step inside, looking for Christopher.
[6:22 PM] zuark: Christopher is indeed there. He and Uncle Greg make eye contact across the room as Marcie and Uncle Greg approach.
[6:22 PM] zuark: "Hello," Christopher says.
[6:22 PM] zuark: "Mornin'," Uncle Greg says.
[6:23 PM] zuark: "It is one o'clock in the afternoon," Christopher replies.
[6:23 PM] zuark: Uncle Greg: "We jus' woke up, so it's mornin'."
[6:23 PM] maquila: "Christopher likes things to be precise," I say to Uncle Greg. "Christopher, this is my Uncle Greg. Uncle Greg, this is Christopher."
[6:25 PM] zuark: "Howdy."
[6:25 PM] zuark: They shake hands.
[6:26 PM] maquila: I look to Christopher. "Mom and Dad said some stuff but I have to be careful saying it out loud because according to them they might be listening because they are always listening. So I am keeping it in mind. They also had me give them notes so that Uncle Greg could be here."
[6:32 PM] zuark: Christopher nods a bit. He and Uncle Greg stare at each other a bit, and there seems to be some kind of awkward unspoken communication going on between them for a moment. Finally Christopher says, "We should speak privately," to which Uncle Greg says, "Yup."
[6:33 PM] maquila: "Oh," I say. "I will go and get my stuff. Will you two wait here?"

[6:34 PM] zuark: Uncle Greg nods. "Reckon we'll step outside. But we won't go far. Jus' wait for us."
[6:34 PM] zuark: Christopher stands up and points at the floor on his spot. "Wait for us right here," he says.
[6:35 PM] maquila: I nod my head once. "Okay."  I look down to where he is pointing then, studying exactly where it is, and then I nod again. "Okay. I will wait right there." I turn and move to wait in line patiently, shuffling forward exactly when I need to without thinking about it.
[6:38 PM] zuark: Uncle Greg and Christopher step outside the building.
[6:39 PM] maquila: Once I reach the same teller, I give her my key, my ID, I rattle off the bank number, I rattle off my social security number, and then I go and thank her for the privacy and rotely get the cipher book and the key to the lockbox, open the lockbox, get the magnifying glass, gently tuck it away, and then walk back out. I've got it to a science. I move and find exactly where Christopher pointed. I stand there. I flip slowly through the cipher book to see if anything changed.
[6:42 PM] zuark: Marcie finds herself waiting at that spot for a good 20 minutes.
[6:42 PM] maquila: I spend the time waiting patiently by flipping through the cipher book.
[6:42 PM] zuark: Looking for anything in specific?
[6:42 PM] maquila: I'm seeing if there's naything new or that I don't remember.
[6:44 PM] zuark: Wits + Invest + spec.
[6:44 PM] maquila: Wits 2 + Invest 3 + Spc = 6.
[6:45 PM] maquila: …5s…
[6:46 PM] zuark: Marcie does notice one thing that's new, or at least that she didn't notice before. On the inside cover, very faintly written—in tiny pencil handwriting near the very top of the back corner of the first page—Marcie sees this:
[6:47 PM] zuark: 68657861646563696d616c
[6:48 PM] maquila: 68657861646563696d616c. Hm. I study this for a moment. I wonder what would happen if I used these numbers as part of a key to decode…I shift slightly and pull out my notebook. It is hard to stand and write at the same time while also holding a book open.
[6:49 PM] zuark: Roll Int + Academics.
[6:49 PM] maquila: Int 3 + Academics 2 = 5.
[6:49 PM] maquila: I imagine it's hard to WP here (THINK HARDER!!!) but would you allow WP?
[6:49 PM] zuark: nah.

[6:49 PM] maquila: Kk.
[6:50 PM] maquila: 3s
[6:51 PM] zuark: Based on the fact that there are letters in it, Marcie is confident that the string is in hexadecimal.
[6:53 PM] maquila: Hmm. Hexadecimal. I carefully put my notebook away into my bag. I pull my phone out. I search for a translator, and put it in as code to text. Ah, I see. In that case, I start slowly tapping out the older number into this. This takes a while, but is a good use of my time while waiting 20 minutes.
[6:55 PM] maquila: Which is mostly my player pulling up the thing to CP it in…
[6:58 PM] maquila: Hm. That is a bunch of 0s and 1s. So Binary. I carefully copy paste that then, slowly.
[6:59 PM] maquila: Light the flames.
[6:59 PM] zuark: While she's working on that, Christopher and Uncle Greg come back into the bank.
[7:00 PM] maquila: Hm. But they are already lit. Do I need to use fire properly on them, or do they want me to light the flames of the living room. But they are not in the living room. I consider that thoughtfully then, and as they come back in, once I am done, I carefully put everything away after erasing everything from my phone in case my phone is stolen.
[7:00 PM] maquila: "Okay, I know what I need to do." I glance between the two of them, and then look to Uncle Greg. "Okay, we need to go to the house. But we need to be careful how we go. If I am not careful, I am killed before I get there. Also, Mr. White may be following us, and I do not want him to get there."
[7:01 PM] maquila: I can try it in the house, and then Uncle Greg has a gun, so he can shoot me.
[7:03 PM] zuark: "Yeah," Uncle Greg says, "I'm gonna go and give this Mr. White a little what-for."
[7:03 PM] zuark: Christopher nods at Marcie. "I will accompany you to the house and do my best to assist you with Phil."
[7:05 PM] maquila: "Oh. I asked Phil to go to the apartment. I think he did last fwimble. I remember sleeping a short while, and then a gunshot, and – and it was frightening, but he was the only person I could think of who would do that. I assumed he listened to me last time." I nod my head then to Christopher and then nods to Uncle Greg. "Oh, okay." I pause a moment and then shuffle a little bit, looking down at my feet and then back up and then down again and then back up at him. "Be safe, okay?"
[7:06 PM] zuark: "Don't fret 'bout me, li'l lady," Uncle Greg says, offering Marcie a pat on the shoulder. "I been handlin' Mr. Whites all my life."
[7:09 PM] maquila: I nod my head firmly to that. "Okay," I say to Uncle Greg then.  "I will see you after I unlock the room?"
[7:15 PM] zuark: Uncle Greg nods. "Meet up with ya later."(edited)
[7:17 PM] maquila: "Okay." I like it when people say I will see them later and I do see them later. "Bye, Uncle Greg." I move for the door then, and hold it for Christopher, and go to the bus stop.

pt. 11 A Failed Suicide
This is a short un.

[11:30 PM] maquila: I stand in line, with a remarkable amount if patience despite how antsy I feel, then get up there and – as usual – drop down my key, ID, rattle off my name, say that I'm on the account yes, note my social security number, the bank number, and thank her for the privacy as I ritualistically get everything out and tuck it away. I check the cipher book to see if anything is different.
[11:33 PM] zuark: Nothing in the cipher book has changed. There's still that weird pattern of zeroes and spaces, and numbers written slightly differently.
[11:34 PM] maquila: I think one is mom's handwriting and one dad's. I stare at this for a minute, studying it again. Yeah, I don't know what that means yet. I carefully tuck them all away. Okay, I need to go and fwimble. I walk out of the back then, briskly, and head outside. I should be careful going to the house, because if I go there then Mr. White may be following me if he is like Christopher and I and does not reset. Hmm. I look around a little bit. How tall is my apartment building?
[11:36 PM] maquila: Three stories right? Not tall enough.
[11:37 PM] zuark: Three stories.
[11:38 PM] maquila: I casually wander outside then and look around for tall buildings.
[11:38 PM] zuark: There are plenty of those.
[11:39 PM] maquila: Okay. I go to one and casually go as high as I can.
[11:41 PM] zuark: There's a high-rise hotel not too far from her apartment.
[11:41 PM] maquila: Okay. I wander in. I ride the elevator to the top floor.
[11:42 PM] zuark: All right.
[11:43 PM] maquila: I find a window. I am not dying. But I do know it helps my fwimbling. And, I imagine, worst case scenario, like how Christopher says he has never tried to believe he could grow gills, perhaps I can grow wings. But I need to fwimble without Mr. White following me.
[11:44 PM] zuark: Perhaps!
[11:45 PM] maquila: Perhaps. I find a window. I open it, and – and — and I get scared and draw back. I draw in a deep breath and let it out.
[11:46 PM] zuark: It is quite a drop…
[11:46 PM] maquila: It is quite a drop. It is a drop. But I have been shot and hit by cars, and – okay, focus. I push to the window, and throw myself out. JUST DO IT JUST DO IT JUST DO IT.
[11:47 PM] zuark: Roll Res + Comp -2.
[11:48 PM] maquila: AAAAAAAAH I CAN'T DO IT.  (Shaken!)
[11:49 PM] maquila: I fumble and fall back then, lifting my hands to my hair. It's SCARY. I can't do THAT. Sure I've DIED but I've never done it myself. I don't think I'm meant for doing that. That sounds scary and awful, and I don't want to do that.
[11:49 PM] zuark: Marcie pulls herself right back from the edge, her heart hammering in her chest.
[11:49 PM] maquila: I dive back into the window then and back inside.
[11:51 PM] maquila: Okay. Okay. So maybe not that way. Feeling awkward, I leave the window open and head down the elevator back out the door, clutching my bag.
[11:53 PM] maquila: Okay. So. We'll try somthing else. I'll. OH. SLEEPING MEDICINE. I shuffle to a pharmacy. :)
[11:54 PM] maquila: I'll get some and just…go to slep and wake up normally…
[11:55 PM] zuark: All right. Marcie goes to the local drug store, and gets a bottle of over the counter sleeping aids.
[11:56 PM] maquila: I get that and shuffle out and quietly make my way back toward my apartment. I get to the homeless man, and give him all twenty of my lunch money. "Hello," I say. "How old are your children?"
[11:56 PM] zuark: "Oh, bless you, bless you!" the homeless man says as he takes the twenty.
[11:57 PM] maquila: I nod my had a little bit, shuffling. "How old are they?"
[11:58 PM] zuark: "Ashley's eight, and Pat's twelve," he says, nodding.
[11:58 PM] maquila: I nod to that too. "Do they enjoy books?"

pt. 10 Introducing Mr. White
If a stranger says they're your friend, they are probably not.

[11:44 AM] zuark: "It was in the article, I think. Wasn't it?" His brows pinch up—he cranes his neck to peer at the article. "Yeah." He points at the line. "Linden Boulevard Multiplex."
[11:49 AM] maquila: "Oh." I say. I stare down at the article for a long moment, rocking forward and backward on my shoes. I peer back up at him uncertainly, look at the article, then hug it to my chest, turn, and walk away.
[11:52 AM] zuark: "You're welcome," David Renton says at Marcie's back as she scurries out.
[11:53 AM] maquila: I don't respond to that. I instead shuffle outside and take a moment to look over the building with my magnifying glass, and then wave down a taxi (i'll get all my money back when I fwimble so spending it doesn't seem worrisome), and ask to go to Linden Boulevard Multiplex.
[11:54 AM] maquila: On the way there, I'll dial Uncle Greg to see if he is home from work, maybe? When do cowboys work in Texas….
[11:57 AM] zuark: The phone rings and rings forever.
[11:58 AM] maquila: I hang up then.  I curl  into a ball in the back of the taxi and stare blankly out the window.
[11:59 AM] zuark: It's a fairly long car ride. The sun is already setting by the time she arrives.
[12:00 PM] maquila: Once there, I climb out and pay the taxi driver. I stand for a moment, looking up at it, and then slowly around, like I'll…see sign of it, or something. I know I won't.
[12:01 PM] zuark: It's a pretty normal looking movie theater.
[12:02 PM] maquila: I pull up the magnifying glass and look around through it, spinning in a slow circle.
[12:03 PM] zuark: Roll Int + Investigation + spec.
[12:03 PM] maquila: Int 3 + Investigation 3  + spec = 7
[12:03 PM] maquila: 2s
[12:05 PM] zuark: Across the road and slightly down the street from the theater, through the lens, Marcie spies a strange pattern of white smear on the sidewalk.
[12:06 PM] maquila: I tilt my head a little bit to that. I lower the magnifying glass, holding it to my chest, and move toward a crosswalk. I watch for anyone about to hit me, wait until I can go, and cross the street, moving toward it carefully.
[12:06 PM] zuark: Wits + Comp.
[12:08 PM] maquila: Wits  2 + Comp 3 = 5
[12:08 PM] maquila: 3s
[12:10 PM] zuark: As she's crossing the street, Marcie sees a well-dressed man leaning on the fence that serves as an entryway into a small park nearby. He seems to be distracted by his mobile phone, but Marcie has a sneaking suspicion he is actually using that as a front—and that he's actually watching her.
[12:11 PM] maquila: I stare at that man then, watching him intently for a moment. Is he – on the way to the weird thing I saw? Or is he past it? Or…
[12:12 PM] zuark: He's standing maybe a dozen yards away from it. He's not moving, just standing there.
[12:12 PM] zuark: Not in-between Marcie and it. On the other side, past it.
[12:14 PM] maquila: Okay. I move up to it first, and keeping half an eye on him, I glance at the smear through my magnifying glass.
[12:15 PM] zuark: Int + Occult. Take a 1 modifier due to splitting your attention.
[12:16 PM] maquila: Int 3 + Occult 3 – 1= 5
[12:16 PM] maquila: 3s
[12:19 PM] zuark: The smear of white 'paint' visible only through the lens strongly resembles the one Marcie saw on the back of her parents' closet door. Only this one appears to be applied to the concrete in haste, suggesting it may have been produced under duress. The pattern also looks like a cube, with some symbols highlighted
-but it seems to be incomplete.
[12:20 PM] maquila: Under duress. My stomach knots – and I dart a look back up at the man, tucking my magnifying glass away, and moving over to him. The worst that can happen is I fwimble again.
[12:21 PM] maquila: Actually, before I put the magnifying glass away – I stare at him through it.
[12:23 PM] zuark: The magnifying glass turns him slightly blue.
[12:24 PM] zuark: The man focuses (or pretends to focus?) on his phone a bit, not seeming (or pretending not to seem?) to notice Marcie for the moment.
[12:25 PM] maquila: I put the magnifying glass, and then walk up to him. "Who are you?"
[12:26 PM] zuark: He looks up, and calmly puts his phone into his pocket. "I'm a friend," he says.
[12:28 PM] maquila: I squint at him for a moment – weirdly concerned by that. Mom and Dad always said if someone said something like that, they probably weren't. Christopher never said anything like that. I asked him if he was, and he made me analyze if he was. "…Are you. Why?"
[12:28 PM] zuark: "Because I know what that is." He points at the spot on the ground where the pattern is. "Because I know why you're looking at it."
[12:29 PM] maquila: "Okay," I say then, slowly, shifting a little bit and holding my bag to me. "Do you know the final part of the pattern?"
[12:29 PM] zuark: "Not as such," he says. "But I could intuit it."
[12:31 PM] maquila: "Okay," I say then, slowly. How does he know these things? Does he, really? "What is it and why am I looking at it?"
[12:31 PM] zuark: "It's a pattern of symbols corresponding to an extraordinary device," he says. "A device in the shape of a cube."
[12:34 PM] maquila: I squint again at him, warily. An extraordinary device in the shape of a cube. I feel, rather abruptly,  and rather cagily, like I'm talking to one of the people that mom and dad were trying to keep it – whatever it really is – hidden from. "Yes," I say then, slowly. "What are you called?"
[12:35 PM] zuark: "Call me Mr. White," he says.
[12:37 PM] maquila: Mr. White. "Okay," I say to that then.
[12:38 PM] maquila: "Were you waiting on me?"
[12:38 PM] zuark: "In a manner of speaking."
[12:41 PM] maquila: I wish Christopher was here. "Okay," I say then.  "Why?"
[12:42 PM] zuark: "Because we can help each other."
[12:44 PM] maquila: "Okay…" I say then, uncertainly. "How can I help you? I am not very helpful."
[12:45 PM] zuark: "It so happens I'm looking for the very same device that you're involved with."
[12:45 PM] maquila: "Why?"
[12:45 PM] zuark: "Because it belongs rightly to a friend of mine."
[12:47 PM] maquila: I feel abruptly attached to the Rubik's cube. It's in my house, so wouldn't that imply that it is mine? And my parents were keeping it hidden. "Oh. Is your friend my Uncle?"
[12:48 PM] zuark: "Your Uncle?"
[12:48 PM] maquila: This is half a test, of course.  I cagily watch him, shifting my weight back and forth. I nod my head a few times, staring at him.
[12:50 PM] maquila: I don't trust this man. He is not weird in the way Christopher and Phil are weird.  He is just watching me, and looking at his phone (which he has stopped doing so) but he was looking at his phone first and trying to look unsuspicious, and that makes him more suspicious. Christopher and Phil were never trying to look unsuspicious.
[12:50 PM] zuark: The man slowly tilts his head as he waits for a response.
[12:50 PM] maquila: "Is your friend my Uncle?"
[12:51 PM] zuark: "I'm not sure who your Uncle actually is."
[12:51 PM] maquila: "Is he a cowboy?"
[12:51 PM] zuark: "A cowboy?"
[12:51 PM] maquila: "Yes," I nod my head once.

[12:52 PM] zuark: "My friend is not a cowboy, no."
[12:52 PM] maquila: "All right. Thank you for your time, Mr. White," I say then, and then shuffle back over toward the drawing on the ground.
[12:53 PM] maquila: I pull out my magnifying glass to get a read on the Rubik's Cube drawing under duress.
[12:53 PM] zuark: "You're repeating time, aren't you?" says Mr. White, a moment later.
[12:53 PM] maquila: I pause then and look wide-eyed up at him, like a deer in headlights.
[12:53 PM] zuark: "Would you like it to stop?"
[12:55 PM] maquila: "Yes. And I can get it to stop if I want it to," I say defensively then, my dander rising. Christopher said if I believe in it, I can get it to stop, and I believe that more than I believe this suspicious man who hasn't said anything.
[12:56 PM] zuark: "How will you do that?"
[12:56 PM] maquila: "If I believe it I can get it to stop," I say then.
[12:56 PM] zuark: "Where did you hear that?"
[12:57 PM] maquila: "My friend," I say then, and tilt my head back and look around a little bit. "It doesn't make sense yet, but I know it will."

[12:58 PM] zuark: He shrugs a shoulder carelessly. "You should trust your intuition more," he says. "It doesn't make sense because it's wrong. You cannot fix your predicament without understanding how to work the device."
[1:04 PM] maquila: "I'm trusting my intuition," I say then, carefully, shuffling a little bit left and right. "And it doesn't make sense because I haven't worked it out yet. You see, sometimes you start with some information, and you need to work slowly toward it, and eventually you come to the appropriate conclusions far better and more strongly than if someone had just told you the answer. And he has told me that if he were to help me more, then it would – ruin it, that I would wake up, and forget all of this, I don't understand the mechanism as to how, you see, though I imagine some sort of governmental reprogramming, and I don't want to do that, and so he says, in that case, I need to keep working at it. And it is not necessarily – it is but it isn't – hurting me to fwi—-repeat," I correct. I don't want to say a word that is my and Christopher's, like it will somehow lead Mr. White to him. "I am not dying. So I am still working at it. And eventually I will understand how to work the device as well. I am following threads."
[1:05 PM] maquila: My intuition is to not trust Mr. White. This is a valid and recognizable decision, seeing as:

Mr White from Reservoir Dogs was loyal to his organization, but a psychopath.
Mr. White from James Bond was a psychopath who had turn coat from Spectre, was loyal to his new organization, and was a psychopath who killed many people.
Mr. White from Breaking Bad was the main character who toward the end of his cinematic canon was not an especially good person who had killed many people.
[1:05 PM] zuark: "What if it's simply beyond your understanding? What if you won't ever solve it without help?"
[1:07 PM] maquila: "That is possible," I say.
[1:07 PM] zuark: "Then let's help each other," he says. "What could be the harm?"
[1:08 PM] maquila: I imagine a psychopath getting ahold of the fwimbling cube. "No, but thank you." I peer down at the sidewalk again, and memorize what symbols are marked, at least.
[1:10 PM] zuark: It's sloppy, so she really isn't sure which symbols are intended for marking. It's bad enough that looking through the lens and staring at the smear both make her head hurt a bit—it's even worse that the symbols are confusing to look at and to try to remember. But even with those two factors aside, there are still hastily-made smudges—so that the markings overlap, making it unclear which signals are intended.
[1:11 PM] zuark: "They're coordinates," Mr. White says.
[1:11 PM] maquila: I squint my head a little bit painfully, and then I drop the magnifying glass. Okay, I am not going to get this one. I stare down at the blank sidewalk – outside the glass, and then look up at him, uneasily. "…Yes. I am aware. Coordinates to times."
[1:11 PM] zuark: "I can fill in the gaps for you."
[1:13 PM] maquila: "Thank you."
[1:13 PM] maquila: I then tuck everything away, and turn to shuffle down the street and hail a taxi.
[1:14 PM] zuark: All right. Where to?
[1:15 PM] maquila: I am not going to my house with the cube. Mr. White may be following me. What is the time?
[1:15 PM] zuark: It's about 5pm. The sun has set.
[1:15 PM] maquila: I go to the panini shop.
[1:16 PM] maquila: The panini shop is unimportant.
[1:17 PM] zuark: All right. The panini shop has some people shopping for the post-work quick-dinner crowd. It's significantly more crowded than it is around lunchtime.
[1:17 PM] maquila: Is Christopher here? I nervously search for signs of him.
[1:17 PM] zuark: Wits+Comp-2.
[1:17 PM] maquila: Wits 2 + Comp 3 -2 = 3
[1:17 PM] maquila: Failure :(

[1:18 PM] zuark: Marcie does not see any signs of Christopher.
[1:18 PM] zuark: The crowd is a little overwhelming.
[1:18 PM] maquila: I start feeling shakey as I'm in the crowd, and then hurriedly duck away and run down the street toward home. Home is safe. Home is safe. The apartment home, not the other home. I want Christopher right now.
[1:20 PM] zuark: Wits + Comp.
[1:20 PM] maquila: Wits 2 + Comp 3 = 5
[1:20 PM] maquila: 3d
[1:20 PM] maquila: er
[1:20 PM] maquila: 2s
[1:21 PM] zuark: While she's walking up to her apartment door, she hears a voice inside…?
[1:21 PM] maquila: …A voice inside. I freeze and listen at the door.
[1:22 PM] zuark: "Of course I understand that!" She recognizes Christopher's precision pronunciation right away—that indignant tone he gets when he's annoyed. "But it's quite frustrating, you know!"
[1:23 PM] maquila: Oh, Christopher. I feel immediate relief – like something soothing shocked through my system, both after the paranoia of Mr. White and then after the panic of being in a crowd. I unlock the door and step inside then.

[1:24 PM] zuark: "But I—" Christopher abruptly stops talking once the door of Marcie's apartment opens. His voice is coming from the bathroom. A few seconds later she hears the pop of the sink drain stopped being pushed back into the open position, the slow rumble of the water gushing down the pipes.
[1:24 PM] maquila: "Christopher," I say then. "Who were you talking to?"
[1:25 PM] zuark: The faucet runs for a bit, the toilet flushes, and a moment later Christopher steps out of the bathroom looking mildly bewildered. "Oh," he says. "Hello."
[1:25 PM] maquila: "Hi," I say then, shuffling. "Who were you talking to? What is frustrating?"
[1:26 PM] zuark: "There is no one else here," he gestures indicatively, "so I clearly must have been talking to myself. Bit awkward, being caught like that—and in your residence, no less. I do apologize. Ordinarily at this point in your fwimble you have long since relocated to the house."
[1:27 PM] maquila: "Yes. I can't go there. A strange man is trying to convince me that he is my friend and that the Rubik's Cube belongs to him and that he can help me use it."
[1:27 PM] zuark: Christopher's eyes narrow in a manner Marcie has not yet seen.
[1:27 PM] zuark: "Who was this person. Describe every detail."
[1:31 PM] maquila: "He claims he is called Mr. White. He was…a man. In a suit. Like yourself, but — not like you. He was watching me as I showed up at the theater, and I looked at a marking my parents had left hastily on the ground. He was trying to act like he was not watching me, which made me suspicious. He kept trying to say things, about how he would help me learn how to use the Rubik's Cube, and that they are coordinates – which I said quite plainly I recognized that – and that he could deduce other coordinates, and that we could help each other. He said he could end the fwimbling, and I said that I did wish for it to end, but I already knew how, thank you. And he asked how, and I said, I just have to believe I can end it, and he said that is wrong and I should learn to trust my intuition, and I said no, that my friend had told it to me and that I just haven't worked it out yet and once I reach the appropriate conclusions I will make the appropriate jump but that my friend had implied that if he did something to help me then there would be an issue and I would forget everything and I did not want that and I trusted my friend."
[1:32 PM] zuark: As Marcie's description goes on, Christopher begins to pace anxiously. He starts quietly murmuring the word "no" over and over, and becomes increasingly frantic and nervous in doing so the longer she goes on talking.
[1:32 PM] zuark: "No, no, no, no, no, no, no no no no no no no no…"
[1:33 PM] maquila: I stare at him then, starting to feel nervous and anxious myself. "Did I say something wrong?"
[1:33 PM] zuark: "Yes," Christopher says, "something very, very wrong. A great number of things which were very, very wrong. Yes."
[1:34 PM] maquila: "Should I – what – I'm sorry," I say then, never having really seen reason to say sorry before in my life. "What did I say?"
[1:34 PM] zuark: He stops pacing quite suddenly and grasps Marcie by the shoulders. He peers intensely into her face and is quiet for a long moment, like he's trying to decide whether he can trust her or not.
[1:36 PM] zuark: "Listen to me very carefully," he says finally. "What I am about to say is more important than the cube and more important than the fwimbling and more important than your parents and more important than just about anything else you can think of with the possible exception of an imminent nuclear event."

[1:37 PM] zuark: "You must not speak with that man. Even the most innocuous seeming conversation could mean the undoing of everything that you have done thus far, of possibly your entire life."
[1:41 PM] maquila: I recoil a little bit when he grabs my shoulders, staring wide-eyed up at him, shivering a little bit nervously even once I stop recoiling. I draw in a deep breath, and then nod my head intently several times at that. "Y-yes. Okay." I nod my head a few times. "I will not speak with him. I did not trust him."
[1:42 PM] maquila: "And I will – not do that. I will not say a word. I will ignore him if he shows up.
[1:42 PM] zuark: He releases her, stepping back and taking a deep breath. He seems sincerely nervous and trying to calm himself. He takes deep breaths. "Do you remember what I said about Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle? That you are the electron?"
[1:42 PM] maquila: I nod my head rapidly.
[1:42 PM] zuark: "This person you are describing, he does not care about altering your state. He in fact wants to alter it."
[1:43 PM] maquila: I look alarmed at that. "Why?"
[1:43 PM] zuark: He opens his mouth to make a quick reply but stops himself. He just shakes his head violently.

[1:44 PM] maquila: "Well," I say. "I did not want to go to the other house and lead him there or to Phil, and I did not —" I pause. "And I – wanted to come find you…"
[2:42 PM] maquila: "Because I knew you were a friend, and he said, I am a friend, and as soon as he said that, I did not like it, because he was not a friend," I say, and shuffle a little bit. "Because…" This is hard and nerve wracking, and I stare up at him then. I don't know why. Because I don't think Christopher wants to hurt me? He has been worried. "But I won't talk to him?" But is Christopher mad at me? I don't really know.  He said I said many things wrong. Did I upset him? Yes, very obviously.
[4:11 PM] zuark: "Good." Christopher raises a finger nearly touching Marcie's nose. "Very good."
[4:14 PM] maquila: I blink a few times as he nearly touches my nose, and squint at his finger, my eyes almost crossing.
[4:15 PM] zuark: "Okay. Okay."
[4:15 PM] zuark: Christopher paces.
[4:16 PM] maquila: "I apologize that I upset you," I say then, uneasily, and tug at my hat a bit.
[4:16 PM] zuark: "Why?" He swivels to look at her. "You did precisely the correct thing."
[4:17 PM] maquila: I blink at him then. "I did? You are just pacing, and you said I said something wrong, and you do not seem pleased. And you…are my friend, and so I do not wish to upset you."

[4:18 PM] zuark: "I am not pleased. And you did say something upsetting. But correlation does not imply causation."
[4:20 PM] maquila: "Oh." I consider this. "So though my words caused the upset, and you are displeased, it is because of the context of the words, rather than I as the speaker."
[4:20 PM] zuark: "Yes. Precisely."
[4:22 PM] maquila: I seem relieved at that.  "All right. Should I perhaps just try to sleep for now, to fwimble and begin again and avoid where I ran into this man?"
[4:25 PM] zuark: "I am uncertain."
[4:26 PM] maquila: "My initial thoughts if I could not find you were to stay here until it was time for work and then to go to work and to not go to or near the house for this fwimble."
[4:28 PM] zuark: Christopher nods his head, pacing.
[4:33 PM] maquila: I nod a few times and fidget, watching him pacing – and then beginning to emulate him, keeping parallel to him. This seems to relax me for some reason.  "I have tried calling my uncle Greg. I believe the phone number goes to a barn or something. There is no voice messaging system."
[4:35 PM] zuark: "Indeed," he says. "Indeed."
[4:38 PM] maquila: "…Do you normally come to my apartment while I am heading to the house…"
[4:40 PM] zuark: "Only sometimes."
[4:42 PM] maquila: "I see," I say then, nodding my head a few times. I stare at him for a moment.
[4:46 PM] maquila: After an awkward moment of intense scrutiny, I turn and shuffle, back and forth. "When I next fwimble, I will make sure to directly ask my parents for information."
[4:51 PM] zuark: "Directly ask them—what do you mean?"
[4:53 PM] maquila: "For instance. I have fwimbled to a Christmas when I was about seven several times. I know the presents I get, and from whom they are. I could say, yes, I am your daughter from the future, and I know these presents, and I know you are hiding this rubik's cube from someone, you need to help me ensure it's not stolen."
[4:59 PM] zuark: "Perhaps."
[4:59 PM] maquila: I nod. "That is the best decision I have come up with. Would you care for some tea? I am going to make myself some to try and sleep."
[5:03 PM] zuark: "Thank you. But I should—" He looks to the door. "I should keep an eye out."
[5:04 PM] maquila: "I could make you some with caffeine," I say, and carefully set out a mug with chamomile in it.
[5:07 PM] zuark: "I should keep an eye out," he repeats. "I will be outside until you fwimble."

[5:07 PM] maquila: I nod my head then. "Okay." I pause a beat and shuffle, awkwardly. "Thank you, Christopher."
[5:08 PM] zuark: He nods and heads outside.
[5:08 PM] maquila: I make my tea. I brew it. I go into my bedroom, I lock my door. I pick up Jellybean, watch the cocklamp, and sip my tea.
[5:09 PM] zuark: It's quiet.
[5:09 PM] maquila: I finish sipping it and lie down eventually on bed, curling up to sleep.
[5:10 PM] zuark: It takes a pretty long while for Marcie to drift off—but soon after she finally does, she finds herself once again standing in front of the timecube.
[5:10 PM] maquila: I draw in a deep breath once I'm in front of the time cube. I move forward, looking around first, and then quickly hit the buttons to go back to Christmas.
[5:12 PM] zuark: The cube unfolds, its sides unfolding like flower petals. A bright white light.
[5:12 PM] maquila: I slip my hands within.
[5:12 PM] maquila: Focus. Focus. Focus. We need to try this so that Mr. White doesn't do something bad.
[5:13 PM] maquila: I want to just repeat the happy day one more time but – I don't have the…time. That is strange.
[5:16 PM] zuark: There she is, in the watermelon pajamas, staring at the huge Christmas tree, her face fun-house pudgy in the warbled reflection of the red ornament in front of her. The box in her lap is a source of primordial joy.
[5:18 PM] maquila: "Eeeeeeeeeee!" I say then, getting excited as I lift up the box for a moment, before I hold it tightly in my hands. NO. NO. DON'T OPEN IT. I NEED TO NOT OPEN IT YET. I draw in a deep breath, and then put the box down, slowly. "Daddy?"

[5:19 PM] zuark: Daddy kneels down next to her, resting his heavy hand in her hair and stroking her a bit. His bearded smile fills her with warmth, with a desperate longing for a person who's somehow right in front of her while feeling absent at the same time. The box in her arms makes her want to weep from happiness.
[5:21 PM] maquila: My eyes begin to water then – both from happiness, and a desperate loneliness that's starting to fill up inside of me. I draw in a deep breath and let it out and look up at his bearded face – and then before I can force myself to do anything else, I fumble and force out: "Ineedtotalktoyouaboutsomething. Inside this box is a dinosaur, I'm going to name him Jellybean."
[5:24 PM] maquila: "That," I point then, desperately, my chubby baby arm shaking. "Is—is a present from my Uncle Greg who I never realized exists. There is a letter. It is a t-rex with a cowboy riding it, and inside it says…" I focus, chubby arm quivering. "It says…Giddy up, little lady. Love, Uncle G. And it is a cowboy hat." I look wide-eyed and glassy-eyed to Dad. "I am – I am – I'm from – I'm nineteen now and – and I'm scared," my voice rises then in pitch. "I need you and mom to help me please."
[5:30 PM] zuark: Daddy's smile fades a bit, and his brows furrow as he listens. As she's talking she feels Mommy crowding in on the other side, leaning down and staring.
[5:31 PM] maquila: "You're both dead and there's a scary man who's trying to get the cube and hurt me," I say then, to the two of them. "And I don't know how to do it, but you left me …notes and I figured them out and I used the cube and I'm here now. And I don't know what to do."
[5:33 PM] zuark: Mom and Dad look at each other. It's pretty clear from the way they're looking at each other that neither of them quite knows what to do here.

[5:34 PM] maquila: "And I tried calling…calling Uncle Greg, I found his number, but he doesn't answer." I look down at my chubby hands for a moment and clutch at my gift and then look up at them, eyes watering.
[5:34 PM] zuark: At the mention of this, Mommy folds her arms with an irritable look at Daddy—like it's somehow Daddy's fault Uncle Greg doesn't answer his phone.
[5:35 PM] zuark: Daddy gives a wry look at Mommy and then returns his gaze gently down to Marcie. "Honey," he says carefully, "what do you mean, you're nineteen now?"
[5:35 PM] maquila: "I—I'm nineteen. I'm nineteen, and I touched the magic cube,  and if I put in the right combinations, I am – here. Again. "
[5:37 PM] maquila: "I've done it a few times. The first time, I didn't know what was happening. So I relived it, and  I was happy, because you were here," I say in a rush. "And the second time…I knew — I knew you'd," I look to Mom. "After I open Uncle Greg's card, you say 'Uncle Greg didn't write much' and ask to speak to Dad in the kitchen, and so I was trying to sneak and listen in but you heard me. And now it is very dangerous, and so I can't just…enjoy it."
[5:37 PM] zuark: "All right. It's gonna be okay, sweetie." Daddy lightly rubs Marcie's shoulder. "It's gonna be okay."
[5:37 PM] maquila: "What do I do?" I say, my voice rising in pitch.
[5:37 PM] zuark: Mom gives Dad a sour look.
[5:38 PM] maquila: I look up to Mom.

[5:40 PM] zuark: "I know it's scary and confusing for you right now," Daddy says. "But what you're going through is…it's the most amazing thing you'll ever experience in all your life. And I know it's not going to sound like much for me to say this, but the best thing that you can do to move forward is find it within yourself. Because that's what you're experiencing right now—a journey into your self."
[5:40 PM] zuark: Mom shakes her head. "Nathan, stop it."
[5:40 PM] zuark: Dad puts his hand up toward Mom.
[5:41 PM] maquila: I draw in a gulp of air again, blinking my watery eyes and swiping at them with my pudgy hands a few times. "That sounds like what Christopher said."
[5:41 PM] zuark: Mom: "Who's Christopher…?"
[5:42 PM] zuark: Dad puts up his hand at her again. "It's not important."
[5:42 PM] maquila: "He's - " I begin to say and then pause and look at Dad.
[5:43 PM] zuark: Dad clasps Marcie's cheeks gently in his hands. "I want you to know that we both love you so much," he says. His eyes are watering a little. "And if we're really gone
-I'm sorry. I can only tell you that we did the best we could. Because that's what we're doing for you, every day, here. The best we can."
[5:46 PM] maquila: My eyes water more and then I'm crying – and I feel immediately snotty. I feel snotty, and gross, and shaky and scared and loved and lonely and just a mix of emotions that are too much for me. I gulp wildly, hiccup – and then fall forward to hug him as tight as the seven-year-old-me's body I'm currently inhabiting can.
[5:47 PM] zuark: He hugs her back tightly, and Mommy joins the hug from the other side.
[5:47 PM] zuark: "We didn't want this for you," Mommy says. "We didn't plan for that—that thing."
[5:48 PM] zuark: "Fate has its way of working things out," Daddy says.

[5:49 PM] maquila: I hug them tightly and shakily for a moment, and then nod my head several times pulling back. "You've left me clues, and I keep stepping forward, but the man I met scared me and scared Christopher and – and I'm used to it, but not used to Christopher being scared s-so…"
[5:52 PM] maquila: "S-so, I should – I should – go back and – try to get it right," I say then. I feel – strange again. An uncomfortable strangeness that I don't quite get. I feel sad, I feel lonely, I feel – loved?, I feel a heavy stone of resolve in my stomach, sitting there. It's all a room. I'm already in the room. Dad says I can get there, Christopher says I can get there if I just believe it, and beileving it's the way to beat Mr. White who scares even Christopher.
[5:53 PM] zuark: "We'll make sure you have what you need," Mom says.
[5:53 PM] zuark: "See us again—later, if you can," Dad says. "Maybe we'll have had time to think of something by then."
[5:54 PM] maquila: I nod my head. "There's another time I know to jump to. I'll – I'll get there."
[5:54 PM] zuark: Dad nods, squeezing Marcie tight. "Love you."
[5:54 PM] maquila: "I love you too," I say, hugging him back tightly – my voice squeaking.
[5:55 PM] zuark: Overcome with that feeling of loneliness—that sense that she's never going to see these people ever again, never be this young again—Marcie fades out, and when she returns to her senses, there's a street sweeper growling past her apartment window.
[5:56 PM] maquila: I lie in bed for a moment, and then I roll out of bed. I get the cock lamp, and I put it up, I pick Jellybean off the floor, grab the key, hurry out to the street and start moving to Phil.
[6:03 PM] zuark: Phil is right where he always is. He leers at Marcie as she walks up.
[6:04 PM] maquila: "Phil," I say, then, determined. "Instead of taking the truck to the house tonight, can you take it to my apartment and shoot me there?"
[6:05 PM] zuark: "I can shoot ya, all right," he says, and grabs at his crotch indicatively. "Give ya a hot beef injection right now, sexy."
[6:05 PM] maquila: "Good," I say then, mostly paying attention to the first part of that. I pat his arm a few times. "I will see you at the apartment. It is down there." I point. "Okay?"(edited)
[6:07 PM] maquila: And then I march hurriedly for the bank.
[6:11 PM] zuark: "Yeah honey," Phil says, "want me to unzip for ya now?"
[6:11 PM] zuark: "Heyyyy," he calls after her, "where ya goin'?!"
[6:11 PM] maquila: "NO," I say. "TO MY APARTMENT!" and then I hurry into the bank then. Is Christopher there?
[6:19 PM] zuark: Christopher is indeed in the usual spot, sitting cross-legged and patiently awaiting her.
[6:19 PM] maquila: I hurry over to him. "My dad said what you always say. Sort of. And – told me to fwimble to another time after they've had time to think. So I am going to do that."
[6:21 PM] zuark: He nods at that.

[6:22 PM] maquila: "He said what is happening is beautiful, and that I need to believe I can do it, and keep moving forward, and – and that is what I need to do. Like what you say." I reach out and mimic his move from the other night – ALMOST poking his nose, but stopping just before it. "So I am going to hurry and get shot. I will see you next fwimble."
[6:23 PM] zuark: "Very well," he says, blink-blinking at the finger wagged in his face. "Best of luck."
[6:24 PM] maquila: "Best of luck," I say to him, and hurry to get in line.


pt. 9 Off Day
You use the Anglicanized spelling of several of the words...

[11:04 AM] zuark: Marcie creeps to the entryway to the kitchen, and overhears a little. Mom is saying, "…after all you did for him," in a soft, serious voice Marcie never hears used in her direction.  But in short order, both Mom and Dad notice Marcie's creeping, and turn to look at her.  "Hey there, Jellybean," Daddy says. "C'mere!" He trots over and scoops Marcie up, grinning.
[11:05 AM] zuark: "You been doing a little spying, sweetie?" Daddy playfully growls, and then starts to blow raspberries on her tummy: "ABNOBNOBNOBNOB!"
[11:06 AM] maquila: I look like a deer caught in headlights for a moment, my eyes wide in my head – and then I giggle wildly as Dad scoops me up and flail my arms at that. "Eeeeee!" I say again and flail excitedly. "Daddy!" I say then to that, giggling in his arm.
[11:08 AM] zuark: He holds Marcie aloft, spinning her around in a circle—it's a mixture of giddy, ticklish, and dizzy, and the spinning sensation persists even through the encroaching sensation of despair: that feeling that this moment is dissolving, like a dream clung to too tightly, and she'll never see these people ever again, never be this young again, never feel this joy again…and she wakes up to the sound of a street sweeper groaning past her window.
[11:12 AM] maquila: "Daddy!" I say giddily, clinging to him and Jellybean. I stay there in bed for a moment, staring into space for a long moment. My heart flutters, and then it dissolves, and I feel that loneliness, that heartsick longing, and I wake up in bed, and stare for a moment forward, blinking my eyes too much and then using the sleeve of my night shirt to swipe my eyes. I draw in a deep breath.
[11:13 AM] maquila: I get up. I go on the computer.  I google "Kingscote Car Accident"(edited)
[11:15 AM] zuark: Roll Int + Investigation.
[11:15 AM] maquila: Int 3 + Investigation 3 = 6
[11:16 AM] maquila: …………6s
[11:18 AM] zuark: (Didn't expect exceptional! Thinking…)
[11:20 AM] maquila: (no prob…I didn't either…)
[11:23 AM] zuark: All right. Marcie does find an article in a local paper which very briefly notes the accident and does in fact list her parents as the only two people killed. However, Marcie also notices something quite strange about this. The author of the piece, a David Renton, has been a longtime contributor of this local newspaper, but something about this exact article about the accident catches Marcie's eye. The accident occurred near a "theatre."  The article "recognises" the surviving next of kin, Marcella. What's up with the spelling?
[11:25 AM] maquila: That…theatre is the more common spelling if you're in England, isn't it.  And the same for recognise – Americans prefer both theater and recognize. I take a few minutes then, working that out, and carefully writing that out. David Renton. I write his name down too – and work to remember it for  tomorrow. Do other articles of his seem to have accidental English-isms in there?
[11:26 AM] zuark: No. In fact, she specifically spots the word "theater" (spelled that way) used in one of his other articles.
[11:28 AM] zuark: In fact, she notices increasingly, his other articles tend to have a noticably more relaxed tone of voice, too. The piece about her parents is terse and formal.
[11:30 AM] maquila: Hmm. If I take every third letter – does that spell anything?
[11:30 AM] zuark: Int + Investigation + spec.
[11:33 AM] maquila: Int 3 + Investigation 3 + spec = 7
[11:33 AM] maquila: 2s
[11:33 AM] zuark: There doesn't seem to be any code hidden in the article.
[11:45 AM] maquila: Hmm. Alright – what can I find out about David Renton?
[11:49 AM] maquila: Like, does he have a page on there? And where is the office for this newspaper located…
[11:51 AM] zuark: David Renton is a regular contributor for a lesser local newspaper. According to his website profile, he majored in Journalism at Brown and got his Master's in the same at Columbia.
[11:53 AM] maquila: Hmm. Okay. I fidget and then look to see if they have an address or a phone number.
[11:53 AM] zuark: There's an office phone and address on the website.
[11:55 AM] maquila: Got it. I get that down, and then print off the article. I'll go there. I fold up the article, and then go through my daily routine. I get my lockbox. I get the key. I kiss Jellybean and put him in a snug place on my bed and put the cocklamp in its place by my bed.
[11:55 AM] maquila: Then I head out.
[12:05 PM] zuark: Okay. The office is located near the river—so it's a bit of a trip.
[12:08 PM] maquila: Hm. That's okay. Well. I make that note then and I will go after I get the magnifying glass. I pause befoer I head out, and try to access the IP
[12:10 PM] zuark: Nothin'.
[12:15 PM] maquila: Damn. Okay.
[12:15 PM] maquila: I start walking to the bank.
[12:18 PM] zuark: Along the way, she encounters Phil standing by the street, staring.
[12:19 PM] maquila: "Hi Phil," I walk up to him then. In a weird way, I like lecherous Phil. He does not shoot me in the head – this is why I like him.
[12:19 PM] zuark: "Hey sexy," he says, eyeing her as she walks up. "Do I know you from somewhere…?"
[12:22 PM] maquila: "I know you, but you do not yet know me." I pat at his arm – Get Your Hands On Him. "I will see you later, okay?"
[12:22 PM] zuark: He leers. "Huhuhuhuhuhuh….how bout you see me right now?"
[12:25 PM] maquila: "I have to go to the bank and then go down by the river before I can see you," I say to him, nodding. "Do you like my taco shirt?" I ask and hold out the long sleeves of it, indicating the taco shirt. "It said to dress in clothes you are confident in."
[12:29 PM] zuark: "I'd like how it looks on my floor, baby," Phil says.
[12:30 PM] maquila: I squint. "I don't think a floor can wear a shirt." I pat his arm again. "Okay. See you later Phil." I turn and shuffle for the bank.
[12:30 PM] zuark: "Heeeyy, where you goin' hot stuff? I was just gettin' hard!"
[12:31 PM] maquila: "Yes, yes, " I say even as I head down the street to the bank and wander in, heading straight for Christopher.
[12:32 PM] zuark: Christopher is in his usual spot in the bank. He's holding a copy of Highlights magazine, and is squinting at the pages.
[12:33 PM] maquila: I sit down next to him, and lean to look over his shoulder.
[12:36 PM] zuark: The page he's opened to is one of those spot-the-differences puzzles: two images that look somewhat similar at a glance but have subtle differences. "I cannot find the very last one," he says.
[12:36 PM] maquila: "Oh," I say to him then, studying the differences for a moment. "What ones have you found?"
[12:40 PM] zuark: "A better question might be, what ones have you found?"
[12:42 PM] maquila: "I haven't even looked at the page yet," I say then. "Unless you mean in fwimbles."
[12:44 PM] zuark: "Precisely." He folds up the magazine, setting it aside.
[12:48 PM] maquila: I stare at him as he puts the magazine aside. "I've…noticed a few things." I say then. "In the cipher book that is here, there are…numbers that weren't there before. It used to read GO HOME. But now between the letters that are that, it says 0 in between them. I changed – in the fwimble to when I was younger at Christmas, I managed to hear a bit more too."
[12:52 PM] zuark: "Is that a change? Or merely something you hadn't noticed previously?"
[12:54 PM] maquila: "…Possibly a thing I hadn't noticed previously," I say then. "But it is strange that I somehow missed it, and it occurred after I brought up the cube to my parent's in a previous fwimble."  I tilt my head. "So perhaps something I did not notice it. A change is what you are doing every day, of course."
[12:56 PM] zuark: Christopher nods.
[1:04 PM] maquila: "I do not know what the 0s imply." I shake my head then. "I also decided today to look up the article on my parents crash. It is strange." I offer him the article I printed.
[1:05 PM] zuark: He takes it and quickly glances over it. "Interesting," he says, and passes it back.
[1:06 PM] maquila: "He does not normally write this seriously, nor does he use English spellings," I say, taking it back. I fold it. "So I was going to go talk to him before probably getting shot."
[1:09 PM] zuark: "I see. And what do you hope to learn by doing this?"
[1:10 PM] maquila: "It is strange that he started writing differently about that, and if I mess it up, I can just fwimble again and try again – figure out why he is writing differently or perhaps what caused him to do it involving my parents. And as my parents left me another clue of the 0 – 0 – 0 – 0 that I just did not see, perhaps it will provide some insight into that. At worst," I say. "At worst, I am wasting time that I will get back. Right?"
[1:11 PM] zuark: "I suppose that is a matter of perspective."
[1:12 PM] maquila: "What do you think I should do?" I ask, squinting at him.
[1:14 PM] zuark: "It is not for me to say."
[1:15 PM] maquila: "Okay." I sit forward, nodding a few times. Then I fidget a little bit. "Christopher?"
[1:17 PM] zuark: "Yes?"
[1:19 PM] maquila: "What would you say we are? Are we friends?"
[1:22 PM] zuark: "I suppose I do not give much thought to these sorts of ambiguous labels. What is a friend, in your mind?"
[1:26 PM] maquila: "Oh. I thought since you cared about the selection of words then you would." I consider that for a long moment, and squint into space, considering that question intently for a long, long time.
[1:29 PM] zuark: "Precision is what is important to me," Christopher says.
[1:30 PM] maquila: "It is," I say, slowly. "Someone who is there when you ask them to be, which you have been, when I ask, at least if I wish for it. Or if you ask them and they say no, they have good reason to, which you have. And." I pause, squinting more and more intently – my brow furrowed. What is a friend? It's hard to define it beyond that. I don't know. "That you can talk to, I suppose.  And who is  willing to talk to you even when you are strange. And does not mind when you are strange nor try to stop you from being strange."
[1:31 PM] maquila: "I think that is it in my head."
[1:32 PM] zuark: "Well then I suppose that fits my description. Not yours, though. You are far too busy fwimbling to be present whenever or wherever I need you. Not that that is your fault."
[1:33 PM] maquila: "Who's fault is it?"
[1:33 PM] zuark: "Well…yours, I suppose."
[1:38 PM] maquila: "So it is not my fault, but it is also my fault?"
[1:40 PM] zuark: "Yes."
[1:41 PM] maquila: "…I see," I say then, not understanding it, but this seeming about usual for an explanation from Christopher. I sigh through my nose and step forward. I'm honestly starting to believe this crazy stuff Christopher is saying. Not that I understand it yet.
[1:45 PM] maquila: He said I would not have to keep traveling to the room if I would just realize I am already on it. Am I sitting there in a trance or something? I think about that for a long moment. I sigh out a breath and then nod to him. "See you next fwimble."
[1:46 PM] zuark: "See you next fwimble," he says.
[1:47 PM] maquila: I rise to my feet then and move to wait in line. While I wait, I lazily try Uncle Greg, expecting it to ring forever.
[1:51 PM] zuark: It rings forever.
[1:53 PM] maquila: I hang up then by the time I get to the lady, drop the key down, drop my ID down, before she can ask for specific things rattle off what she needs to type, and then start moving back for the room with a bored sort of done-this-before.
[1:55 PM] maquila: And then I get the magnifying glass and the cipher. I check the cipher book to see if there is anything else I missed.
[1:56 PM] zuark: The teller is…weirded out by Marcie's prescience, but escorts her to the safety deposit box room anyway. "I'll give you some privacy," she says.
[1:56 PM] zuark: Roll Int + Invest + spec.
[1:56 PM] maquila: Int 3 + Invest 3 + Spec = 7
[1:56 PM] maquila: 2s
[2:00 PM] zuark: Marcie notices that some of the zeroes are written like taller Os and that some—a few—are written instead with slashes through them. She also notices that some of the other numbers follow similar patterns. Some of the 2s have curly bottoms, others don't. Some of the 3s are written curvy, others straight.
[2:00 PM] zuark: It seems deliberate. Might be a pattern.(edited)
[2:01 PM] maquila: Hmmmm. I tilt my head a bit then, and carefully pull out some paper. Now, I imagine the straight writing goes together and the curly ones go together. Mom and Dad, maybe? Different messages? I slowly write them out separately.
[2:04 PM] zuark: Int+Invest+spec
[2:04 PM] maquila: Int 3 + Invest 3 + Sec = 7
[2:04 PM] maquila: 3s
[2:06 PM] zuark: writing out the ones that are few in number—slashed zeroes, curly 2s, blocky 3s, 1s with a hat on top—she writes out the following pattern.
[2:06 PM] zuark: 303130303131303020303131303130303120303131303031313120303131303130303020303131313031303020303031303030303020303131313031303020303131303130303020303131303031303120303031303030303020303131303031313020303131303131303020303131303030303120303131303131303120303131303031303120303131313030313120
[2:06 PM] zuark: that pattern spans the entire book.
[2:06 PM] zuark: It takes her hours to write all this out.
[2:13 PM] maquila: 3031303031313030203031313031303031203… 303 1 303 03 1 31 303 02 03 03  13 13…
[2:14 PM] maquila: I take a moment to hold up the magnifying glass to this.
[2:14 PM] zuark: The magnifying glass turns the pages slightly blue.
[2:16 PM] maquila: I put the magnifying glass then.  1 303 031 3130…………..I wonder if there's a repeating pattern in there. I slowly rise to my feet. That's a lot of 3s though…
[2:19 PM] zuark: By now the teller has wandered off, apparently given up on waiting.
[2:23 PM] maquila: That's okay. I study it for a moment – this is repeated enough to be a pattern, and using a small set too…I just need to… 303 130 303 131 303 020 303 131 303 130 303 120 303 131 303 031 313 120 303 131 303 130  — so 303 does a lot of the repeating.
[2:23 PM] maquila: 303 often falls in between the other numbers…
[2:29 PM] zuark: ¯\(ツ)
[2:39 PM] maquila: 303… cube root is…6 point something so that's not it…is 303 an area code…that's an area code for denver…
[2:41 PM] maquila: Denver. Do I know anyone in Denver?
[2:41 PM] maquila: I casually try (303) 130 3031.
[2:42 PM] zuark: Nothin'.
[2:43 PM] maquila: Hm…
303. 130.
303. 131.
303. 020.
303. 131.
303. 120.
303. 131.

303 and 131  separate mostly…
[2:56 PM] maquila: 303. 130.
303. 131.
303. 020.
303. 131.
303. 130.
303. 120.
303. 131.
303. 031.
313. 120.
303. 131.
303. 130.
303. 020.
303. 131.
313. 031.
303. 020.
303. 031.
[2:56 PM] maquila: There's that different one where it's 313. 120. And 313. 031….
[2:59 PM] maquila: I stand up then, finally gather up my stuff, thinking that over as I move out, and head outside. I get a cab, and go to this newspaper office.
[3:05 PM] zuark: The Brooklyn Daily Eagle has a small office near the East River. The cab ride is a little long—it's already mid-late afternoon, the sun starting to set by the time she arrives.
[3:08 PM] maquila: I lean against the door and stare outside. I should call Jason. It is right. But – no. I don't. I climb out of the car then, and walk over toward the Brooklyn Daily Eagle then, and walk inside.
[3:11 PM] maquila: I pull out the article then, and hold it in my hands as I look around the office for a moment.
[3:15 PM] zuark: The office is open, and it's a trivial thing for Marcie to simply walk inside. The place is filled with cubicles and small offices, people milling about, hard at work on…whatever it is reporters do.
[3:21 PM] maquila: I look around then in silence for a moment.  David Renton. I walk around then, slowly, looking to see if anyone has name tags or signs up. Renton.
[3:26 PM] zuark: This should be a short and easy search, but Marcie doesn't …do well…in swarms of unfamiliar people. Roll Wits + Composure 1.
[3:30 PM] maquila: Yeah, I don't…I feel a bit awkward and nervous the more I'm here – like everyone is looking at me. I shrink a little bit to the side and look at them, shuffling along quickly, keeping my back to walls whenever I can, and breathing a little bit quicker.  Wits 2 + Comp 3 – 1 =4.
[3:30 PM] maquila: 3s
[3:39 PM] zuark: Marcie finds David Renton's office near the back corner. She recognizes him from his website photo, though he's a bit shorter and fatter and balder than the picture suggested.
[3:40 PM] maquila: I shuffle up to that then, and settle in the entry way to his particular cubicle, clutching the article. I stare at him until he notices me.
[3:49 PM] zuark: It takes a few moments, but finally he does notice. "Um, yes? Can I help you?"
[3:51 PM] maquila: "Hi," I say to him. "You wrote this article, about my parents, and about me." I lower the article then in front of him. "However, it is in a different vernacular compared to your other articles, which I took the time to read, and you use the Anglicanized spelling of several of the words – see," I point, "theatre and recognised, both more common in the UK than here in the states, which does not fit the more casual and – dare I say – friendly nature you have written the other articles your byline is on." I stare at him then. "Why?"
[4:08 PM] zuark: He furrows his brows, looking baffled for a long moment. "Off day?" he says. "I'm
-sorry for your loss."
[4:13 PM] maquila: I think of Dad lifting me up and blowing raspberries on my tummy. I think of feeling light and giddy, like sparkling light. My eyes water a little bit – I don't understand why. I draw in a deep breath, and stare vacantly down at the article for a moment, and then look back up to him as if that didn't happen, and I wave the page slightly. "Do you – remember – who you spoke to for this information? Was it the police?"
[4:14 PM] maquila: "Or," I suggest, "perhaps, did someone else write this for you and ask to submit it under your name?"
[4:34 PM] zuark: "Of course not." He blinks and shakes his head. "That's absurd."
[4:34 PM] zuark: "Miss—Kingscote, I assume—I'm very sorry for your loss but there's nothing more I can tell you. All I did was follow up on and report what we heard from the authorities."
[4:49 PM] maquila: "Okay. Okay," I say then, looking to the article for a moment, and point. "What theater? Did they…tell you?"


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