12 - the circle

AJ:

[unenthused]

Backstreet’s back, alright.

Hm. So—look. I don’t—

Where do we even start, with this one? Because there’s—look. Look. I’m not gonna condescend. We all know what happened last week, and we all—

So. Uh. We all know what went down, I guess. Not, uh. Like it’s hard to ignore or anything. Because it’s, uh. Everywhere.

Like—I guess we’ve been getting warnings that something was gonna happen. But. Anyway. School’s cancelled next week, so, uh, that’s nice. But. That’s because—the world may or may not be ending.

Orbs of light, orbs of light, orbs of light. I don’t wanna go into detail, because, one, it’s—it’s kind of happening, and number two, it’ll get. You know. Staticked out. Because that’s how things work now, I guess. I—

I’m in Teresa and Angie’s dorm, but, uh, they’re out trying to talk to, uh. Our state senator. Melissa Amory, R, Somerset. Like, they requested an audience and they got one. I got blocked on Twitter by her. State Senator Amory, I mean. Because I was yelling at her policies. That’s cool. I’m—that sort of feels dumb to brag about, right now, I guess. Because it’s—uh. It’s—

God, I really just hate this whole situation. Because it’s—I was one of the maybe eight people who were mildly aware of it, as compared to completely or not at all, and, uh. It’s a weird feeling! Because the people who knew were—you know. In power. Are in power.

And, look, I—I have a pretty commanding presence, I think?

That’s a joke—I’m not gonna—My point is, I have no power whatsoever, from a, uh, political standpoint. Or a social standpoint, in the, uh, Teen Hierarchy. I was gonna make a joke about all of the power moves I pull every day, but, look, I can’t even lie about that. I wore a tropical shirt once, and I had to change because I got too worried about what people would think. And nobody—I got compliments on that shirt. I should work on my self-judgement issues. Dad, uh. Dad told me that that needed work.

That might be, like, second priority, now, just because, uh—look. Listen. Something is certainly happening that might be more important than a seventeen year-old dude’s self esteem. Something being the potential apocalypse. I say potential because I sincerely doubt that it’ll be the end of the world, but, look, the Meet the Press guy is here in the town where I live. Because it seems like, at least here, that the world is ending. But—it’s just here. Just now.

Because, look, we’ve been getting warnings about, like, Big Bads, and what have you. This whole—circle. The inner circle of Andrew Corielli, which is a—it’s a bad, bad mystery novel title. But, look, listen. They’ve been almost here for a little while—that’s the school board. That much, I think we knew, uh, from multiple context clues. Just–look, they’re evil, they’re not of this world, and they operate in a group. This feels entirely, entirely, entirely obvious.

But now, they’re here, here. In the real, human flesh. With magic powers and, uh, evil agendas. The whole nine yards, y’know? Magic powers and evil agendas sounds more whimsical than it is, saying it aloud. But it’s, uh. Kind of fucking terrifying. Because, it’s, uh. You know. Magic powers. Like, from Mae? We’re used to it. It’s cool, cute, quirky, all that. That’s just what Mae does. But with these people, it’s—they’re using their magic powers for violence. Which I think is against the, uh, warlock code. Wizard code? One of those. But, whatever. That’s unimportant to the conversation that’s at hand right now.

I’m not going to get into mage-type semantics. Like, uh, wizards versus warlocks versus sorcerers, you know? Like—look, it’s—That’ll out me as a nerd, and, look, I’m already on thin ice over there. Which is gross. Can’t be perceived as a nerd while we’re living in a near-dystopia. That’s just a no all around in terms of dystopias. I don’t think I’d fare well in any, like, fictional dystopia, but we’ll see.

I read a lot of dystopian YA lit back in middle school, which says absolutely nothing of note about me, other than that I was really fucking boring in middle school. This isn’t like that at all, which is probably a good thing, but, uh, I’d prefer to know what comes next, y’know? Be able to predict the next moment just based on genre savvy, and all that.

I haven’t told my, uh. Haven’t told my dad that I knew about any of this. I dunno how he’d react. Not verbally. He doesn’t ever react to big news verbally. He’s more of an action type dude. And that’s—not in the Liam Neeson way, but in the, uh. Normal human way. And that’s not to imply that Liam Neeson is an alien or anything. Or that action stars aren’t human.

Also, if any action star had to be my dad, it would be Keanu. Not Liam. And I am on a first name basis with both of those men. Especially Keanu. He and I are—very close.

What do you think folks will say, after this, when you say you’re from Violet Beach? It’s the, uh, the—

I can’t look out my window without my eyes hurting. I- look, listen, I hate it. And it’s restricted to a damned bubble. So I can’t leave without problems. And my prescription sunglasses haven’t arrived yet, and I’m out of contact solution so I have to wear my glasses, and—

How did the news crews get here? Does this crowd want publicity? I— I mean, I guess. But they’re refusing interviews. So. Who’s to say what these people are doing? They haven’t put out and end goal, or a, uh. Motivation or anything. Mae says that they just like control, but that feels simplistic. And she agrees with me there, says she’s just tired. So. It’s ridiculously complicated, clearly. Too hard to simplify, and all that shitty, shitty jazz.

I miss normality, sometimes. I know it seems like we’re early in the dystopia for me to say that, but, uh, I mean pre New Years normality. Like, I love you guys. I do. And I don’t love easily, I don’t really love ever, but. I miss being anxious about normal anxiety things, like dying alone or being killed or failing a class, rather than, you know. The apocalypse.

The worst thing is, I’m still afraid of dying alone! And of failing Calc. I have a B in it, still. And it’s not going up. I have two months to bring it up. Only two months! That’s not enough time, that’s too much time for something to go terribly wrong. And also for the apocalypse. It’s terrifying. I’m terrified of failure. I’m not sure If I’ve made that clear enough. Really. Truly. Honestly. If I fail, what on earth is the point of me?

If I die in the apocalypse, what is the point of me?

I don’t think the point of me is just to fail or to die. I’m. The meaning of life is more than a singular purpose, or whatever. But if it had to be reduced to one thing per person? I think that my thing shouldn’t just be dying. Or failing. Maybe the point of me is to tell stories, or, uh, to make somebody feel something.

Just, hey, please.

Not failure, not dying. I don’t think I could stand myself if that was it.

I want to do something to stop this. It’s difficult to do anything, right now, cuz there are people everywhere; people who don’t know anything about anything trying to do something. Angie and Teresa are people who know something about anything, but no one’s listened to them yet. We’re still waiting on updates from their current meeting, but I doubt anything’ll come from it. Mostly because I’ve had bad experiences with the state senator, but, uh, that’s just me.

Also, I don’t trust people in power, believe it or not. That’s just a fun fact about me, personally. That I don’t like authority figures and that I don’t trust them. I know, I know, I know.

So shocking.

Just.

Listen.

I’m so afraid, right now. I shouldn’t be. I’m always afraid, which is obvious, but I’m even more afraid than usual right now, which is also obvious. But I feel like I should be numb to fear after this much of it? Y’know how sometimes you, uh. You cry yourself out, sometimes, or, uh, you just smile so much that you’re not happy anymore?

That, but with fear.

Why doesn’t that happen? Seems like a dumb thing, emotionally speaking, to not be able to overcome fear when you really, really need to. And I really, really need to.

I’m obviously not a superhero. Look at me, I’m— I’m just not. But I can still help, if I find the chance, if I. You know. Find the chance. Or chances, multiple.

Um. Just got a message from T, she says that State Senator Amory is calling them delusional and saying that if something really was going, we should have told the cops. She also sent an eyeroll emoji, and a, uh, zoomed in photo of her face. Like she does. She says it’s the real life equivalent of looking into the camera.

It isn’t. Angie’s driving them back, and, uh, Find My Friends says that they’re, like, five minutes away, so. They’ve been on the road for a little bit now. I’m betting on one of them having lost their voice because they just yelled on the car ride back. Also, betting on hearing Carly Rae Jepsen all the way from the parking garage, top volume. Angie breaks her speakers, like, once a week. I don’t know why she keeps blasting music, it’s gotta be— it’s gotta be expensive. Or, like. Maybe she’s one of those people who’s just good with technology?

I don’t drive with her. I don’t trust her in a car. Teresa doesn’t have a her license, like— I have more driving hours in than Teresa— and I trust Teresa more than Angie to drive me.

Also, fun Teresa fact: Teresa told me that she got her permit, and then she crashed into a drive-through while practicing, and decided that maybe she wouldn’t drive anymore. Her brother burned her permit.

God, I don’t understand sibling dynamics. What even are those? Family of two, baby. All the way.

I have a paper due tomorrow. Or had a paper due tomorrow? Like— it’s probably gonna be an email it in because our school is being inhabited by demons from another universe— okay, not demons, people with powers and anger issues— who won’t budge type situation. Terribly commonplace, that.

I have one of ten pages written. I don’t even have an outline. Do those work for y’all? I never write ‘em, they just— they interfere with my mind’s flow. And I get A’s, so, uh. Does it matter? i think not.

It probably does matter. I’m stressed all the time. To the point of no return, all the time, I mean. But. Look.

God, why am I worried about the my English grade right now?

That should be, like, seventeen steps below “stressed.” I should have priorities past being stressed about that, and yet. The evil dystopia circle has no power over my anxiety, no ma’am. I am too anxious for the apocalypse. That’s my conclusion. Thanks.

[A sound starts. It’s quiet–ambient, background noise. Traffic, outside. People talking. Music. Static. Pop melodies diluted by… something]

Except it’s not. It’s— blatantly untrue. That’s not me. That’s not who I am, personally speaking. Just, like. Nah, dude. I’m just the right amount of anxious for the apocalypse. And that’s the worst thing about it, to be completely and totally honest. It’s just— eugh.

What a ride, y’all. What a wild, wild ride this sci-fi adventure has been. Truly, honestly, deeply. Every damn adverb out there. Oop. And Teresa and Angie are parked. And this app has a lag. Soooo.

I’m just gonna, uh. Finish up here. I guess. I dunno if Elaine’ll be able to record next week, cuz again, who knows what’s going on. or if there’ll be a next week. I guess that’s never determined, but you know what I mean. The odds are a little bit more balanced, now. Which is, uh. Again. Terrifying.

I think we’re all taking this well, all things considered. You know?

You—you know. I think you know, at least.

Anyone have any suggestions for my bucket list? I’m thinking about trying one out, if all goes wrong. Mine are kinda hard to do—fall in love, road trip across the country, get on Jeopardy—like, those are not fit to the situation at hand, and also, aren’t very fun to do. No adrenaline rushes on Jeopardy. Ever. Extreme Jeopardy, though, that’s a show, though. Hardcore Jeopardy.

Okay. So. Who knows what the future holds? Who knows anything at all? We shouldn’t ask those questions. Not enough solid answers to waste brain time on, y’know? We gotta focus on now. Do some deep breathing. Tell shitty jokes. Drink all the bad coffee that we can while we still have it, and maybe, just maybe, we’ll make it out of this.

Aw, who the fuck am I kidding. I’m, like, seventy percent sure that we’re all gonna die. But, whatever.

Bye!