Chapter

27

And then, she opens her eyes.

not the jade who just returned to me. the jade living on earth c, sleeping on a couch.

So, this is what we’re doing now?

she snaps awake. her human hands are clammy. her face, expressive due to the layers of flesh enveloping her skull, appears haunted to her friends.

ROXY: omg!

ROXY: jade

ROXY: jade u ok?

ROXY: callie hurry shes wakin up

JADE: j... john? rose??

JADE: is dave...?

JADE: wh...

JADE: what happened to.....

ROXY: yo its ok

ROXY: daves cool

ROXY: rose is cool

ROXY: everyones just straight chillin like usual

I see how it is. You don’t even intend to acknowledge me. Real fucking mature. If you’re going to force the issue of this little metanarrative tug-of-war between us, the least you could do is establish a clear adversarial dichotomy between our opposing goals.

jade stares straight ahead, feeling the weight of roxy’s arms around her shoulders. she derives no warmth from the interaction. her mind is being flooded by the memories of her deceased splinter-self. the chaos of battle, the excruciating impalement, the feeling of floating alone through the void. a chill spreads through her body. she will never be the same again.

Actually, you know what? I think that Jade’s doing just fine. She’s wobbly when she gets up off the couch, sure, a little metaphysically stunned, but pretty used to the sensation of having a doomed self fold into the extra space in her gray matter. You know, considering it’s already happened before. Remember Jadesprite? People always forget about Jadesprite. So maybe we could stand to dial down the melodrama, just a bit?

when jade turns to look at roxy, her eyes are completely black.

ROXY: woah

ROXY: what the actual f...

ROXY: are you

ROXY: are you IN there jade???

jade does not answer. the dead cherub scans her surroundings, expression neutral.

for the sake of clarity, the dead cherub is a phrase i am using in reference to myself. presently, i inhabit jade’s body, and through her i may influence this world. i am enabled to convey events which take place here, and therefore confine the procession of causality to exist within a secure textual framework. my presence shall mitigate, if not altogether subdue, the corrosive effect on reality and the will of its occupants by those who would manipulate the way events are telegraphed for their own megalomaniacal objectives.

OK, now you’re just being passive-aggressive.

despite his pretensions to a greater design, the prince of heart cannot be allowed to continue to exert unchecked control over the authoritative recitation of events on this side of my horizon. it cannot be overstated the extent to which he represents a threat to the continued existence of both this world and corporeal life itself.

Damn. You better watch it with those hot takes. You might mildly scald someone with observations this fresh.

the prince uselessly squirms and wails in protest at his imminent narrative impotence. however, there is nothing he can do as long as jade remains in this trance.

Nah, I’m being chill as a cucumber about this, considering you’re vagueblogging the shit out of my methodological approach to storytelling right where I can see it. Which is to say, directly into my fucking brain, apparently?

calliope emerges from the kitchen, carrying a bowl of cool water and a cloth. jade turns her head to meet the sound of their footsteps.

CALLIOPE: i came back as fast as i coU—

the bowl of water clatters to the floor. calliope does not have human flesh, and thus cannot go pale. what drains from them is not color, but the comforting certainty of their very existence. they can sense the presence of their other self in jade’s body. their timeline, fruitful, full of life and friends, sparks against mine, desolate, endless, spartan with righteousness and resolve. our divergent arcs collide in the primacy of their subconscious, bringing to the forefront of their mind the bleak fate they avoided by narrative fiat alone.

calliope’s distress is obvious. roxy slides off the couch to approach them. but calliope stumbles backward in terror and trips in their desperation to escape. roxy gapes at them.

ROXY: hey callie

ROXY: whats going on?

CALLIOPE: i...

ROXY: calliope its ok just talk to me

calliope does not talk to them. roxy looks to calliope, then to jade, sensing that there is dark energy coursing between them.

ROXY: would one of you just effing say something already?

finally, calliope lets out a shriek and flees the apartment. roxy appears as if they intend to run after them, but finds themself drawn back to jade. they return to the couch as an unnerved look begins to disturb their features.

jade says nothing. she gives no indication that i inhabit her body, aside from the unusual appearance of her eyes. anchoring myself here, in this host, is enough to serve my purpose. there is no need to operate this body beyond keeping it in reserve as a silent yet alert vessel for my cognizance. there are other priorities i must attend to, cosmologically. the work is very important. the prince must be kept at bay.

“The work?” Getting some pretty self-important vibes here. Like maybe somebody needs to get over herself? I was just having a little fun. Ever fucking hear of that, dead skull girl? Didn’t think so. This all feels really heavy-handed suddenly. Like you’re making a federal fucking issue out of what should be some light, entertaining stuff. Just a bunch of loser adults, trying to be the people they grew up to be, in the best ways they know how. But no, I guess you know best. Being an impossibly ancient alien recluse with virtually no exposure to human culture, emotion, or values. Yeah, go ahead, just take over. Sounds fine.

the prince finds that his hold on the narrative is slipping through his hands. there is an old myth in earth culture about katanas, that if you keep the blade whetted to a mirror sheen, it can cut a silk scarf falling through the air cleanly in two. his hold over our perceptions shall be severed just as elegantly.

Yo, I get that you’re attempting to spin a metaphor both relevant and specific to my self-made symbology here, and I appreciate the effort. I really do. But I just cannot stand by and let you shamelessly spread such irresponsible misinformation on a subject so near and dear to my heart.

The katana is a cutting weapon. Inert, it’s harmless. Deceptively so, you might even say. Most dangerous things appear banal when inert, that’s just basic physics. It’s actually the motion of the katana that makes—

roxy sets the cool cloth on jade’s forehead, and frowns. they are worried and confused, but determined to care for their friend.

Hey, I’m in the middle of turning your apocryphal metaphor into something with substantive, allegorical weight here. I’d appreciate it if you would—

in his haste to manipulate the events surrounding doomed jade’s ascent toward an outcome favorable to himself, the prince has unwittingly revealed several glaring weaknesses. by dictating the reality of others through expressions which he and he alone can relate to, he resorts to comparing all experience to his own. presuming his status on this side of my horizon would forever go unchallenged, his hubris went unchecked. he exposed too much of himself to all who could observe his wanton display of self-gratification. many of his personal biases and experiences have leaked through the seams of textual causality, leaving them vulnerable to exploitation by an adversary.

experiences such as the sensation of presiding over a vast, empty ocean. his ocean, which terminates with his horizon. it is a barrier, not real, but psychological, symbolic. no matter how much power he achieves as a man, he knows there are horizons he perceived as a boy which he may never cross. and yet i have crossed mine, with the express purpose of perpetually and eternally reminding him of his limits, and of enforcing them. limits, which like his vast, empty ocean, serve to remind him that he is phenomenologically, if not literally, alone. that he has experienced loneliness intimately and absolutely, just like i have. but unlike me, he is terrified by it. and i, unlike him, understand all too well that the children left alone are those who most despair at being ignored.

Fuck you. I fucking hate you. You’re fucking boring, your narrative voice is a total fucking drag, and someday I’m going to make you pay for this.

there. can you hear it? of course you can’t.

but if even you could, it would sound like nothing at all.

> ==>
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