Chapter One (Psyche) by Lucy.
Chapter Two (To the other side) by Andrada Costoiu.
Chapter Three by B.V. Stratton.
Chapter Four (The fateful night) by Smita Ray.
Chapter Five (Insight Part I) by Amitbhat0912.
Chapter Five (Insight Part II) by Amitbhat0912.
Chapter Six (They’re still out there Part I) by Lucy.
Chapter Six (They’re still out there Part II) by Lucy.
Chapter Seven (Cycles of violence Part I) by Lucy.
Chapter Seven (Cycles of violence Part II) by Lucy.
Chapter Eight (Fragments of the past Part I) by Shweta.
Chapter Eight (Fragments of the past Part II) by Lucy.
Chapter Nine (Flashes from the past) by Smita Ray.
Chapter Eleven (Glitch) by Lucy.
Chapter Twelve (Revelations) by Lucy.
Identify Chapter 14 (Stalemate) by Lucy.
Content Warning: References of blood, gore, and story-typical violence in this chapter.
As when the fragmented moments of time had passed, so did his memory. Tom was resolute in that—that all of it was of one and the same. The light above him had dimmed, the darkest star in the sky was the sun. Blackest depths from the skyline maintained the crystallization, almost like a cocoon with a distant white bleeding throughout the clouds; yet it eluded them all in passage. It glissaded in the wind, pulsing as a bruise before morphing back to an azure, and an overflow of red persisted—rather blossomed—in his view.
“Tom, did we do the right thing?”
“We left her behind. We left her and Lauren behind.”
“please—please let’s try to remember her.”
“You should know that… Don’t be like dad!”
“You are owned. Don’t forget.”
“Is it happening again or is it a new thing?”
“You know my nature, I will forever want more.”
“How can you miss something you don’t even remember?”
“The loops have nothing to do with time…”
“You will live different lives and in each life, an entire separate being capable of contrasting choices.”
“Is it happening again?”
It’s happening again. “You don’t seem like yourself.”
“You know my nature, I will forever want more.”
Like rainfall, it came and went, and he withdrew from the urge to put pressure on his former leg wound even as it thickened and pulsed; even as the traces of the wound were entirely gone, the psychologicality of it strayed. He lost almost everything.
Waves of solemnity passed through his body, veins rattling and rushed that made his heart rate spike; he forced himself to take a deep breath. This was not fear. This was not excitement.
It was acceptance.
He inched his hand toward the grip on his pistol, before its ghost pulled him back. I will forever want more.
He couldn’t do it. Not now. Tom fell behind Lauren’s steps as everything around him slowed. His fingers extended back as blackness grew from his vision, flashes lowered into him like a methodical poison. He turned, sharp, and all of its symbolism was merely in the woods. That one phrase popped out at him, the only offering in his head that offered solace, if not even an answer to the cycle.
“You okay back there?”
His face broke out in misery. What he was about to do. “Peachy, commander.” What he wasn’t expecting, however, was for Lauren to turn around.
“You look horrible.” Lauren walked back. She touched his face, lingering, tracing each scar and wound. “Do you need to sit down for a second? We have time, for now. I think the trek back took the wind out of you.”
“No, I’m fine. I promise, alright?”
“Would you let me know if you’re not fine?”
“There we go.”
“I’ll tell you eventually when this ends,” Tom glanced back at her wearily. “I’m sure of that.”
“I don’t know if this will end. Have you tried looking out of the trees for once?”
Wavelengths of the sky flickered, shuffling through a black aperture where the sun was before. In a moment, like a dream, the shadow had passed before them. Lauren went on. “Artemis has to be right. There is no escape. This whole fucking place is almost an illusion that collapsed in on itself. Jesus Christ, Tom, there is no escape.”
His voice croaked. “If there is no escape, then there is no length of survival.”
“Then Artemis was right. We have to murder this whole regime.”
“We don’t know Anastasia’s next move. She can be steps ahead of us and we don’t even know the game.”
“She is steps ahead,” Lauren rubbed her eyes. “No shit. What we need to know is not the next move but the end game. What is it that she wants by doing this? Why? What are her motives? There is only one person here that could possibly know, and Artemis is holding back. I know it, she’s even admitted it to me.”
Tom was perplexed. “She seems more than eager to help us.”
“I don’t know. Considering our past together or in the alternate universe… or even here, I guess too? I don’t even fucking know. She’s not that sentimental, so she doesn’t have a reason to protect Anastasia. There is no motive. She won’t tell me until Anastasia is dead, but I think what she does happen to know is crucial.”
“Maybe it’s personal, Lauren? You don’t really know what she’s been through.”
“She doesn’t know what we’ve been through since she was gone.”
“But, that wasn’t her fault even if it happened here or not. You know she was captured—”
“Just… Forgive me.” She breathed, closing her eyes; she wanted to lay down and finally rest. “It’s easier to be mad at her than a seeming entity.”
“I’m not sure if that makes sense, to be honest.”
“It really doesn’t have to.”
Tom scratched the back of his head. He drowned in the parallels of both subsumed anger and bewilderment; suspended lights rattled against his mind, all back to a visualization of god-like touches and torment—bubbles of reflection coming back to him in his mind’s eye as he glanced up. “How do we know she’s even a full entity?”
“We may not know her full origin, but she’s mystic. Have you even seen someone like that? If she’s able to create these creatures, these structures, she has the power and technology to do as she seems fit.”
“And like you said, it all leads back to some sort of motive.”
“It has to,” Lauren nodded, a grim look on her face. A set coldness enveloped her chest at the realization if they were wrong. If their theories were wrong of this reality. Everything had existed then, and the thought itself submerged and twisted in betrayal and loss. Nothing else would be of perseverance except death. These embellished ideas and the simplest fabrication would be enough to thread in its falsity and its dilapidation—that what they figured is not a concoction of what had and had not happened. What is or is not to be in this world.
If it truly did happen in this world, even with its conflictions, it was a controlled mechanism leading back to the only restart known. Life.
It was never just about the submersion of death, but it was the act of taking life that felt balanced and powerful to Anastasia. The carvings in the cave could only relay the past or at least hints of what is to come, and if analyses were anything to come by, it was that her hand morphs an even more powerful and tragic whim to whoever tries to play with it. It was never a warning, Lauren discerned. It was a foreshadowing of what is to come.
“If not,” she continued, “then everything we ever knew, perhaps the things we may not want to face… and what we still don’t want to face… I really hope you’re right about this, Tom. If not…”
Tom sobered in the shade, the skyline illumining through an icy glare. “Then all she wanted was a bloodbath. She’s a sadist, Lauren, but I have to believe too there’s something more to this. A method to her madness.”
“We can try figuring her out, sure, but I’m more interested of her actions.”
His eyes rattled from Anastasia’s presence in the cave. It was a memory, nothing more, nothing less. “She wants a reaction.”
“How do you know?”
“Gut instinct. Trust me on that one.”
How could she expect anything like trust again? The more her memories returned, she wanted to resist them. It lied in her hands now, and it was the only thing she could do.
“I hope I can.”
In his head, now he was alone. He drove his fingers into his pockets, yanking the ratty fabric.
Full existenstial. Or suicidal. It was a security to him as that was the spiral it driven him on. He stared at his hands. The days before he was a ghost, but all he remembered was his grief.
As they continued the trek back, “They’re gone, Lauren.” No matter how he looked at it, alive or non-existent, he still grieved. “And it’s my fault.”
“Tom, no, don’t even fucking go there.” She turned around to cradle his face, to ensure that she had his undivided attention. His mind was often not there, always guessing, always musing, arriving eventually to instinct before death. “None of this is your fault. What you know or don’t know, guess what, I’m in the same boat as you are. What is real, what is not real, what we seen or will continue to see; it’s not your fault if you can’t control it. We can’t.”
“I know, but you said it yourself. We killed Clarence. I killed her.”
“I—I was shocked and angry, Tom. I loved her too, whether she was real or not, she was real to me. We… We make mistakes, and I think I’m finally, I’m finally figuring that out. You and Zara didn’t kill her. We failed her, but we didn’t kill her.”
“I guess,” he sighed. “But we know better now that it never happened.”
Lauren shook her head. “I don’t care. Maybe you’re right. But, she was real to me.”
“Even after it all, I can’t help… Can’t help but think she’s real too. If only to the mastermind, if only in my mind.”
“Our love for her was. You can never take that.”
“Hi! Did you catch a nice nap?” Artemis smiled as she rolled over the waking hostage with her foot. She gave her a moment to prepare for a mental mind game, before her nocturnal eyes latched back onto the metal that clung to her body. They shattered in the fire she had made. Taciturn, and marred by the quiet trades of scars she had acquired over the years in scuffles and murders.
Before Artemis can consider using her hands, she figured from the look of the hostage’s face, the cat-like mutant might be able to get somewhere here. Wildered, Artemis continued to lave in the grandeur of her terror; it was her aura alone that not only sobered the interaction, but quelled the urge of every cell and vein to tremor from the keeper’s hostage. It thrilled the blood in her veins. “What is your name?”
Her breath hitched. “A—Alexie.”
“Is that your code name or real name?”
“My assigned name from the NOR.”
On hearing this, Artemis lowered her hand to a dainty neck. “That’s all?” The shadow tips from her fingers elongated. “I will not hesitate to slit your throat. Do you know what it feels like? It’s like… Waterboarding in the elements you cannot control. Philosophical, really, that if one is so consumed in themselves then it’s a fitting way to die.” A happy ending then.
The hostage tensed and stopped struggling in her binds. “What else is there to know?”
“Well, I know you’re recruited by Anastasia and the NOR. I am more curious on why, however. Why would she keep you human?”
Alexie fidgeted. “I have my assets.”
“Share them,” she said. “And I might be able to set you free.”
Now Artemis’s fingers fidgeted as she suppressed flares of rage; her fingers raped over the hostage’s collar lifting her up off the ground.
“Tell me everything.” Artemis’s eyes never left the human.
“There is nothing to tell. You caught me. I work for Anastasia.”
“But as a human? Pure flesh and blood? You are, in her words, pure. All humans are.”
“I am not fully aware of her rituals. Only creation. Deletion. Above all, time.”
She disregarded her to the dirt, narrowing her eyes. You’re in a loop, aren’t you? You don’t know what you’re doing or who you even are. Artemis now wanted to dangle the façade into a pool of mythological loss—a point of no return just as the woods had seemed. She hummed. “I can talk about time. Lost time, gaining it back. You never know what you had until it passes,” she thought back with a smile before pursing her lips into a thin, firm line, “and that’s a very beautiful thing in some moments. It has a reason to Anastasia, that much I understand.
“Similarly, death is not without a reason or cause to her, just as every action has just as equal and opposite of a reaction. If I kill you now at this moment, it would be meaningless. You are worthless, not even fit for survival. Yet, you have earned her intrigue, interest, but as well have not earned her trust when you are ignorant of her methods. Why? Why is that?”
“I do not have anything to say.”
She silently snorted. “Pity.” She unsheathed her talons, striking them over a vein on her neck. No matter what she chose, it would always end this way. In death.
“Anastasia knows all. You wasted time.”
She withdrew by some miracle, looking down at the metal encoded on the human’s arm; she bared teeth, and using her talons, she tore it off of Alexie like a second skin.
Her howls took a heavy toll, bursting into the distance. Her skin whittled like vapors into fog, glass prickling like a broken bottle. In a trance, the human thrashed about in the valley of the shadows before Artemis sprung her foot over the woman’s chest, easing the breath out of her in the air around them. Her eyes smoked in a draping yellow as the human’s voice died down to whimpers.
“We don’t need to attract attention.”
Blood gradually covered her arm parting into a submerged rose. Artemis’s mind flitted in a dark realization, her nocturnal eyes glinted in the fire they created, the wind dying into an abyssal mercy.
Her atoms burned as she lifted Alexie up from the ground. The downpour of sunlight grew thick, and she paced northwards where the wind was sparse. She looked down one more time, enjoying the trail as she let her claws sink into the fabric of Alexie’s binds.
Silence enclosed around them as Alexie looked ahead. “Please, please not like this—please! This isn’t me!”
She was thrown into the desecration of the fire pit; it inhibited Artemis’s hearing, growing more in each moment a bane as the hostage’s face was whittled away into the blackest depths of warmth. The mutant caught herself murmuring in her vigil, “You’re free.” She let out a breath, trained herself to watch, though briefly looking away from the herse of flames she caused.
A desperate response to her nature. It was in her blood. This was for survival, as the darkest blood split into the flames.
Red, seething streaks suspended in the mysticism into different scales of human song. Artemis pushed Alexie’s body further into the pit, draping each essence of the body in ceremony of cremation headfirst. A blood rose had grown from miseries, freedom in the act of death was the foundation and yet it architected a presence of a silhouette in silence, looming; she turned her head at the mirage. In an instance, Artemis closed her eyes and breathed.
Alexie’s lungs had reached a point of disfigurement both from organ failure and a ravaging smoke that curled in the exposure of the flame; her breath was taken. Artemis reached the edge of the ruin in awe, and bending her knees, she let the piece of metal she collected tint a bit in the fire.
Strong winds moved her mane out of her face. With her claws, she uncovered the zeta symbol with a temple of wires cross-connecting among electric lights. She let the callous horror sink into her hands, letting it glow by the rites of the pyre; she thought better of it.
No shadows were left.
Artemis stood at the edges and lattice-work of the sands, smoke infesting her nostrils and mouth from the wind. Stalacites of fire perverted the skyline as it disgraced the former grounds it was on, all turning black from the ash.
The hostage was burned—beyond recognition.
She bowed her head, coercing herself not to think. Eternity rose disk-shaped in the sky, silk-colored smoke finishing the decree of Artemis’s deed.
It was a twist in destiny, the sword with bloodfall inching further until there is only the wind it crossed. That’s what they were, the carcass with a most undeserved fate to the eyes of Anastasia, and to Anastasia, she was a god.
The silence was ruthless, it made her turn, eyes flitting as she saw the siblings crossing her path. Close. Closer.
Lauren was moving as if she were injected with a monstrous serum. Tom didn’t even anticipate it, standing still as the gravity above flattered him to the realization that the hostage was burned alive. He was about to run after her until he remembered the face, would it be in his fate to prevent or make this occur?
Maybe it was true. Maybe it was like what the face had said, he had been through this before so couldn’t he handle it? But the prevalent violence and fear swimming struck Tom still. It was more than warm from the flares of the sun, and with loud voices in his head, he needed to maintain his memory.
Lauren has seen more death than me, probably. I watched my wife die. My daughter who may as well never have existed died in a timeline. I’ve witnessed enough to know my psyche, and my psyche isn’t damaged. It’s–It’s healing. I can do this.
He couldn’t care, not anymore. Time, in this essence, was caustic and wrought with different reactions, different futures in their assimilations. He took off after his sister, leaving everything else in the dust.
Lauren kept her stance as she inched closer to Artemis, and in the final desecration, Artemis turned around at her heel with a callous smile.
“Mia cara, I was not expecting you.”
The human swallowed down the tremors as the scene disturbed her. So many questions raced through her mind, but only one could be uttered, “What did you do?”
Artemis propped her head in her hands, talons etching, waving as they lingered from their crevices. She didn’t know, in spite of herself, how to have the luxury to spare murder from this conversation. “That depends on how you see it.”
Lauren thought she could see her eyes lit up, but only in her orbs, a reflection stared back. “You killed the hostage. Honestly, I don’t think I care what you did… I just feel numb… Did you at least get anything important from her?” The haze was shrouded in the treeline, and as she saw it, it vanished altogether. She blinked once, shrugging it off as sleep deprivation or a contingency of the loop.
“You don’t think highly of me,” she smiled, unaware. “Of course I extracted something from her.”
She wanted to be swallowed in the past before it was like this. The shock of it stirred her stomach, and the method of execution was not any better. It had no humanity. “We need to talk about this. About everything too. I remember, but it may not be what you think, what we think. I know we know each other and have for a very long time.”
“You remember us?”
“I do, but that’s not important right now. Listen to me. Tom has a theory,” she led Artemis away from the edge where the fire-pit continued to die. “He believes that with the glitches and what we witnessed, we’re remembering lives in a different timeline, and it’s still hard to stomach, hard to believe, but it’s exactly why we can’t remember, why we remember different recollections, why everything is different and out of sorts.”
She closed her eyes and spoke low. “Trust me when I say that I know more than your brother about this.”
“I didn’t believe it either, but if you know something, tell me. Don’t hold back anymore.”
“Lauren, this isn’t the time for conspiracy. It’s not as simple as you make it seem. I told you when the time is no longer like this, I’ll tell you everything. I’ve never lied to you.”
“You have by neglecting it.”
“Right now, in my hand, I have a tracker. This was from the hostage. I don’t have time for your games, we need to get moving.”
Tom should have felt exhausted as he ran. But it was a welcome alternative than to dwell and obsess on the past; he needed something to keep him going or he’ll slip behind as he always did. All he needed to worry about was running—running away from his thoughts, from his life, from his sister. He wanted to disappear, so maybe he should let himself slip.
What good had he brought into this life that wasn’t taken away? It’s not like Lauren needed him. She had Artemis, just as he once had Zara. He froze as he could begin to see the top edge of the cliff ruins, the trees beside the structure were as harrowing as the Arch of Constantine.
He had his memory but he still was piecing it altogether. Had he forgotten so easily that Lauren was going through something similar? All he could do was hope, maybe even pray to some mystical creature, that if anyone survives this it’d be her.
She had less trauma. She knew how to get what she wanted and interact with people; with her street smarts, she could possibly survive beyond a fortnight longer than he would. He would have been dead by the end of day one if Lauren didn’t find him in the crowd, if he never left that building, or really, if he’d let himself drown in the sea.
But then Anastasia saved him. Did she save him in all his lives? Where were the realities of his death? Where were the realities of life in those gone?
It was all just a reminder how he never mattered. The universe of Anastasia, her god eye, intended this and he would only suffer. It was selfish thinking on his part as everyone else he knew suffered differently or worse; but beside himself, he had no one left.
Lauren never looked at him the same when she finally figured out he abandoned her. What a shit brother, and it cost him two lives that would only live in his mind and heart, screaming, wailing, all until he dies.
His well-being couldn’t matter. Put everyone else first to avoid the pain of his past. He can’t lose Lauren, he just can’t.
He really should slip.
Tom slowed even more. He feared if he did, he’d never come back. A frown curled over his lips as he reached the pinnacle, a grunt exhausting itself from the back of his throat. He wished he had some water.
None of them were speaking. Tom first witnessed the white embellished rage criss-cross on Lauren’s face as the two women stared at each other. Pure white, like a marble glass ceiling with skylight. In the midst, the two stepped back not expecting his presence.
Artemis’s hands twitched, but she did nothing. Lauren crossed her arms and sighed.
He assessed the situation, but paused, hesitating. “So you killed her?”
“Yes,” Artemis secluded herself to the facts, facing away from Lauren. She couldn’t be too emotional right now. Her eyes arranged like a python, she took one quick glance at Lauren before saying, “Strip.”
“Wait, what the fuck!? I’m not here to—”
Her breath was ice. “Lauren, it’s not like that at all. Trust me on this, I need you to strip naked. I need your clothes.”
“I’m just… going to turn around,” Tom sheepishly added in.
Blood roses were her cheeks as she parted every fabric and hanging piece of clothing left on her body. Her body slightly curved in the wind, hair a bit voluptuous to Artemis—she had to escape from the lewd thoughts, especially away from the deathbed of an NOR hunter. Now she could see the awkwardness of the situation as it was in the forest cavern, but still it didn’t stop her from this pith of darkness.
The mutant kept her face leveled and impassive. She picked the clothes up from the rocks, and slowly dug her fingers in her own skin; nails striking, she reopened up her wounds partially, then smearing the roses on the garments all over.
She tore some on the ground, others were slashed through. But, most of it was burned in the pile along with the body.
This was for the greater good. So much time gone by since Artemis herself last felt this euphoria. Freedom, true freedom. She shuffled in her steps, underfoot soft in the dirt as her raw hands patted the blood off her.
Lauren just had to focus away from it all. She seemed to realize that something was amiss with this, but she didn’t know if it would be bad as the repercussions of her own actions. If this were for the greater good, perhaps it would only end up hurting them in the end. She didn’t stop her steps until Tom held her back, almost beyond the line of the cliff-edge.
She nodded a thank you, but Tom’s eyes glittered with concern, a we need to talk. Oh, fuck him. She squatted down at the approaching steps of her lover.
“I was able to collect a piece of tech from her. A very hard piece to take off. Almost” she examined closer, “ingrained in their skins. These must be for the active hunters and mutants still serving Anastasia.”
“So, you burned my clothes and set up the scene so she’ll think I’m dead. That could throw her off. Good move.”
“Yes,” and she continued to wrap the remaining cloth of Lauren’s clothes over her lesions. This should solve some of their problems when on the run, and while she couldn’t stop worrying about when they would be found, she would now have a better chance at understanding the technology, the power, and above all, the magic disposed in this one piece of universal incentive.
She knew Anastasia and she knew her magic created this tech. While she was a scientist, she would never get her hands directly dirty in the labs again. Only in her blood ritual, the ghosts that lingered from her eyes, this shock of vehement white like lust that oozed, that was where her presence belonged in the past thousands of years.
If Lauren were still conflicted or upset, she hid it well to Artemis. The human grounded her mind from her anxieties by pushing it down like bile. She hugged herself from the cold breeze, the true forest almost being forgotten in the distance of her sight. She felt so tired. “Alright, let’s go. I’m kind of freezing my ass off here.”
“There might be an outfit or two we packed,” Tom spoke aloud. “I can’t promise it’s the most… conservative.”
“Do you think I care? I have nothing left to lose in this life.”
“Who the fuck packs this off the grid!?”
Tom suffered at the receiving end of the blow. No one had bothered to disturb the silence, to carve a motion in the air to collide with fists—as Lauren was seething.
“Which one of you fuck-ups did this?”
“Calm down, we’ll try to find something—”
“I’m going to die in these clothes by freezing to death by the time we find another stock house, Tom,” she spat.
Artemis squeezed her shoulder. “Lauren, it’s not too bad. Besides, if you’re worried about warmth, my temperature doesn’t change much. I’m able to keep warm.”
The human stared, a nerve clenched above her brow. An unmistakable rage.
“What?” Artemis shrugged back, confusion splayed across her features. “People huddle together for warmth.”
“Not—not like this. The nights are unbearable. Did any of you dip shits pack anything warm?”
“I’m sorry, but it wasn’t like we were at Macy’s or let alone have the time to go through everything thoroughly,” her brother scoffed.
“Yeah, no joke, we shopped at the clearance section.”
Tom continued, though it felt unneeded. “But also, let’s be rational: Artemis is able to regulate her body temperature better than we can; we’re able to pack lighter because of that.”
“Then what’s your excuse?”
Tom was deadpan. “I’m around six feet and my clothes won’t even fit you. To be honest, they’re even a bit bulky on me even.” He shook his head. “The only way you’d be able to use them is at night like a blanket, but while we’re on foot, it’s going to hold you back.”
She stood there suspended between freedom and vulnerability. The misdeeds of what she did were going to hold her back, and bearing her skin, it was freeing her as she was. It revealed her cruelty, it revealed her own beauty. Humanity. Limply, Lauren strapped on the swim-suit as it draped over her skin. The shallow waters beside them started to roll, and the air in the sky felt dead. Somehow, the feeling of being underdressed just felt uncomfortable for her, but her birthday suit felt more natural in a sense. Survival, in its longest necessity, had sacrifices.
Almost as a shockwave sense, he knew her discomfort, Tom started to strip down from his legs. He then ruffled around the bags, finally retrieving a pair of swim trunks. When he slid them on, he crossed his arms nodding at Lauren, “How do I look?”
Lauren readjusted the knot on her virescent swim-suit, tightening it before turning back to him. She sighed, bereft of humor. She was as drained as a desert mirage. “Like a moron in that pose.”
This chapter took a bit to write. So many ideas especially transitioning after the previous chapter which takes an introspective look at Tom.
Fun Fact: The swimming suit scene was directly inspired by AuAu‘s art. I honestly don’t know how I would have ended this chapter otherwise as her art and some commentary on the characters inspired this scene (the only scene in this story that ends happily). Please be sure to check out her amazing work, she’s been so awesome at creating art for this story. I never expected anyone to do that to be honest, so when she did I was thoroughly surprised and honored! Please check her out and give her a follow, she’s quite talented.
Anyway, I’m thinking this project has three, maybe four at most, chapters left before it concludes. I plan on finishing the story myself to keep consistency and how I see it ending. I have some sort of end game in mind but with a few possibilities that I want to re-examine before I pick which ending to let this story end on. When it’s over, I’m going to edit the previous chapters, re-write and add in more context (especially since some twists and turns of the story should have more germane foreshadowing, but it’s all part of the drafting process along with switching off different authors), have a beta reader look it over, add corrections, and hopefully post the final result altogether here.
The only thing I can say is that it will end happily. I think. You know what, I’m not too sure.
Thank you for everyone who has stuck around with this story. I know it’s a monster in length especially the chapters I write, but your support and encouragement for me and the rest of the contributors has been amazing. I think I’m also abandoning the podcast project and I might re-visit it another time when things become less busy. I probably would have continued it had I not broken my elbow. So life’s been fun.