Thursday, November 30, 2017

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Update 11/28/17

Hey there.

Couple of updates: first off, I was going to post at least a single article last week, but unfortunately I had a tremendous amount of work to do around the house for Thanksgiving, so I didn't have the time. This message is mainly directed at the potential employer, to whom I informed I would have an article up a week ago about "Battlefront 2". Apologies, that will come out this Thursday. I was busy turning the basement of my house from an uninhabitable mud dungeon to a cozy living space for my Thanksgiving guests' children.

Another thing: this blog will be changing soon. And by changing, I mean the name of the blog will be changing. I've decided with everything going on in this country right now, the name of this blog is a little too closely linked to a terrible part of American history, and I feel that distancing myself from it is imperative. If you're confused, "Raebel Yell" is a pun on my last name and the "Rebel Yell." It's the name of a warcry used during the American Civil War by soldiers of the Confederacy, who fought to preserve the institution of slavery. I didn't think too hard about that when I was coming up with the name for this blog, which was my mistake. So you see...yeah.






Before Billy Idol's classic single, the phrase "Rebel Yell" didn't exist in any form but this warcry for an army of an immoral institution. I didn't realize that before about a month ago. In light of Charlottesville, the rise of the Alt-Right, and the pervasive turmoil in this country that seems like it's finally reached the boiling point, going forward I want nothing to do with anything remotely related to this stance or anyone who advocates it. White supremacy, Nazism, eugenics - whatever you want to call it. It's got nothing to do with me or anything even tangentially close to what I believe in.

So, since I'm focusing on seriously building a brand for the first time, the first order of business is that this address will no longer be where I post things.

It's sad in a way, like saying goodbye to an old friend. I've had this blog for over four years, but I feel like it's time to make a change. It's one of many that I've had to make in my life in the past two years, and it won't be the last change I make at this stage of my life.

That said, I have put out a lot of resumes in the past couple months with raebelyell.blogspot.com listed as my resume...so for the time being, I'll keep this blog up for posterity, maybe re-uploading older articles at a later date. At this point, the next blog post I make at this URL will be the last, and it will include a link to my new site, which I will launch this Thursday.

Thank you, everyone who ever read, commented, liked, or shared anything from this site. I can't tell you how much I appreciate you.

-Matt

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

"Mass Effect 2"'s loading screen is not what it appears to be...

So I realized something the other day. I was playing "Mass Effect 2" because I'm too broke to afford new video games and consoles and "Mass Effect 2" is one of the best games I've ever played. Maybe this is something other people have noticed...it only just occurred to me for the first time recently.

So, if you're unfamiliar with the game, "Mass Effect 2" is a direct sequel to the first game of the same name (besides the "2", obviously). It pioneered a feature that would import data from the first game (if you played it through to completion), thus applying the consequences of said choices to your new game in "ME2", the first game in history to do this. It begins by establishing that you are, once again, Commander Shepard...the same Commander Shepard from the first game. Without spoiling anything, I'll simply add that in the first five minutes of the game, it makes things pretty clear that aside from Shepard, everything that was true and baseline for "ME1" has been thrown directly out the airlock.

Instead of fighting for the Alliance Navy, Shepard takes up with a shadowy black ops organization backed by an eccentric multi-billionaire, known only as The Illusive Man, who is voiced by none other than Martin motherfucking Sheen. He's basically Kevin Spacey's character from "Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare" if he were about 1000% wealthier and 10,000% more charismatic. In the picture below, he's wearing the future space equivalent of a $3,000,000 Armani suit. The bourbon isn't fancy future bourbon, though. It's just damn good bourbon.



You know he's a bad dude because he smokes CIGARETTES. 


If you played through "ME1", you might recognize the name of the organization - Cerberus. If you didn't, all you need to know is that Cerberus funded a number of illegal genetics labs you can find in the first game, and ordered the assassination of an Alliance Admiral, whose corpse you eventually find should you seek out on the necessary side-missions.

It's obvious Cerberus aren't exactly the good guys. A big part of the game's first few hours are characters addressing the moral grayness of Cerberus while considering that their current goals, stopping the abduction of hundreds of thousands of colonists outside the Alliance's jurisdiction, is an unambiguously good one. Still, your new ship includes an illegal artificial intelligence, most of the specialists you're told to go recruit are mercenaries and criminals, and the crew all speak glowingly about Cerberus and how happy they are to work for them in a way that, before long, makes you start to feel like you've joined a cult.

It's established several times throughout the game that the Illusive Man is shrewd, but definitely not trusting. He's laid bugs all over the ship, and your XO, one of his most trusted agents, regularly sends him secret reports about your activities. Which brings me to my revelation.

The loading screen of "Mass Effect 2" is quite different from "Mass Effect 1", or even "Mass Effect 3". In the latter two, your loading screen is of your ship traveling through space at Faster Than Light speeds. If you travel to significant locations, like the Citadel, sometimes there's an omniscient third person shot of that instead...that is, an objective perspective outside of any character's point of view. The only exception is that your loading screen is sometimes that of Shepard's personal work computer. That's not the case in "Mass Effect 2."



See the difference?



That's not the only thing that's different. In "ME1" and "3", there are generally only ambient sounds accompanying the loading screen. In "2", you hear ominous music, a far cry from the silent hum of mass relays in "ME3" or "ME1". No loading screens where the Normandy is shooting through space from planet to planet, either. Just ominous music, and an orange technical display of the Normandy SR-2 that highlights different areas as you move through the ship. It appears to be tracking your movements.

Occasionally you need to make landfall in locations and situations where a bulky spaceship wouldn't fit or would attract too much attention, so you get transported to your mission in the Normandy's UT-47 Kodiac drop shuttle. In such situations, you see the readout of this as well.

The presence of the spooky music does a great job of supporting the tone of "ME2", which is intended to be the dark middle chapter of the series. It's also the only installment in which Shepard fights for Cerberus. I kept coming back to the music and the weird tech readouts of your ships. It just seemed strange that this was the only game whose loading screens were designed this way.

Then, I realized something...earlier in the game, we see a similar HUD somewhere else, being read by someone very significant to the plot. I still can't believe I never realized this before.








The loading screen isn't just a loading screen...you're seeing what the Illusive Man sees. The loading screen is his perspective while he's spying on you.

It's an old game at this point, but it still holds up. I first played through "ME2" in 2011, yet now in 2017, I'm still finding new things about it to love. Brilliant, subtle game design choices like this are the mark of a truly great video game.


Thursday, November 9, 2017

The euphemism of "Fan Service" in anime and how it normalizes sexual misconduct


WARNING: Discussion of the depiction of sexual assault in popular media below. Reader discretion advised.




It all began when...


I like a nice anime every now and then. I've re-watched Season 1 of "One Punch Man" so many times Netflix now regularly displays recommended anime shows on my home page.

One such show, bearing the proud mark of "a Netflix original" and a "93% Match", appeared to me a few days ago. It's an anime called "The Seven Deadly Sins." It looked to me like a schlocky generic fantasy anime at first glance, which almost caused me to skip it. I hesitated, remembering Bill Burr's bit on how he fell in love with "One Punch" after trying it out on a whim. So, I decided to be adventurous and give it a shot.




The first episode was what I expected out of any first episode; slow to warm up, the introduction of a cast of characters I thusfar had no reason to care about who would no doubt be fleshed out in later episodes, and a dramatic intial scene that established the setting and the stakes of the plot. It turns out, the show isn't about the Seven Deadly Sins in the biblical tradition. The eponymous "Sins" are actually disgraced knights from a medieval fantasy world who are wanted criminals, each personifying a different "Sin." There's a character for gluttony, wrath, lust...and so on. I thought this was a cool premise and continued watching, eager for the "Sins" to make their first appearance.

After watching the first episode, I concluded it was a competent if run-of-the-mill medieval fantasy anime with one crucial flaw, a flaw which totally soured my impression of the whole thing.

One of the show's main characters, a young male named Meliodas, gropes an unconscious female character  named Elizabeth within the first eight minutes of the first episode. I'll write that again...within the first eight minutes of the first episodethe main character sexually assaults a sleeping girl

It's played off as a "light-hearted" joke; the unconscious character was seen walking around in a heavy suit of armor before passing out from exhaustion, and the groping was explained by the character to be his attempts to discern the sex of the poor girl. As if he needed to touch her breasts to, you know, fucking see that she had them. 

SDS: Get it? It's funny because he's a creep!

ME: ...can you put your pants back on, please?


Most of these, the supposed central characters, hadn't even been introduced
before this took place. Though she's not pictured here, this includes the
sleeping girl Elizabeth, whose name was only mentioned after she
had been established as an overtly-sexualized character.

Besides the egregious sexual misconduct, the odd thing about this scene is that Meliodas seems puzzled that a woman was walking around with a full suit of armor, which would normally imply that she's a knight. It's later established that female knights are not an oddity in this world and that he has close personal friends who are so.



"Fan Service" and its role in anime


This kind of shit, unfortunately, is a rampant problem in anime. It's called "Fan Service", in that the creators of the media in question are attempting to "service" fans by indulging in their assumed, unspoken desire (in most cases presuming that the audience is male and heterosexual) to see a female character in a revealing or deliberately tantilizing state of dress, regardless of its contextual congruousness. "Fan Service" often manifests as blatant objectification, sexual assault, or even rape.

Anime that are guilty of this attempt to file the edges of these acts down by painting it as an "endearing" trait of a character. The perpetrators aren't sexual predators, they're "scampish" or "hopeless romantics". "Fan Service" is so common in anime it's often treated like an invisible, inextricable element of it. Most fans claim that they watch such shows for things like magical sword fights and interesting characters, and that "Fan Service" is something they don't pay attention to. Yet, "Fan Service" is a prolific feature of a shocking number of popular anime shows, most of which do not have plots that actively revolve around the sexuality of its characters.

"Neon Genesis Evangelion", for example, is an extremely popular and venerated anime show that features a character-driven plot and copious giant robot fights, not to mention tremendous amounts of this manner of gratuitous titillation. One could make the argument that a significant aspect of the plot is the ascent of several protagonists into puberty amidst the show's other plot elements, but keep in mind, we're talking about the sexualization of children there.

The story of "Evangelion" is of humanity's struggle against powerful monsters and is streamlined with copious metaphors and imagery from Judeo-Christian religious tradition. Hideaki Anno, creator of the show, originally promised that fans would have "something to drool over" in every single episode. In later episodes, he stopped doing this, and episodes that did include something of the sort often included the character in significant emotional distress - one might presume this was an attempt by Anno to retract his former attitude and express that the objectification of women is harmful to them. I'm not sure if that's a genuine attempt at redemption on Anno's part, but it seems the guy might have taken a step backward when he meant to go forwards.


Pretty sure this character is like, fourteen.


"Shonen/Shoujo" vs. contextually-ambivalent titillation



"Shonen" and "Shoujo" are genres of Japanese books, movies, and television shows specifically tailored to fit either a primarily male or female audience. Plot-oblivious nudity and sexuality are widespread in both of these genres; in many "Shonen" shows, for example, there are typically numerous instances of characters in revealing swimsuits, scenes where the audience's point of view is specifically angled to best view a female character's breasts or butt, or outright female nudity. Female characters in this genre, even young girls, often have large breasts and slim figures. In "Shoujo", this trend is present as well; male characters are either extremely slim and handsome or have physiques akin to superheroes. They also frequently appear in tantalizing situations.


Because of this practice of compartmentalization by genre-to-sex, corresponding characters whose sex are opposite the show's intended audience tend to be overtly sexualized. However, acts of sexual violence or misconduct are far less common in "Shoujo" than in "Shonen".

Some modern anime shows have begun to address this curious trend; the subversive "Monogatari" series, for example, consists entirely of archetypical "Shonen" and "Shoujo"-inspired characters and situations. Each episode attempts to deconstruct these tropes by emphasizing their incongruousness with the plot, as well as the salaciousness of the characters perpetrating them, especially the primary male protagonist, Koyomi Araragi. The parodical element of this comes from the show's rejection that such situations are in any way normal or even ethically permissible, as opposed to the tendency of similar anime accepting them as such.

Though this example is of a show that often manages to succeed at this, in many cases attempts by "Monogatari" and anime like it fail to create effective parody and end up simply indulging in the same tropes.


Is it hot in here?


Not just an "Anime Thing"


While gratuitous titillation may be a common thing in many popular anime shows, movies and manga (a specific style of graphic novel originating in Japan), similar examples of non-contextual gratuitous titillation can be found in other cultures, including that of the United States.

Cheerleaders in the NFL are one example. They don't need to be there. The point is supposed to be football, not hot women doing high kicks. Also, have you ever noticed that football is the only sport that engages in this practice?

Another is Marvel Comics' release of "Marvel Swimsuit Specials", in which popular Marvel characters were drawn in lithe, form-fitting swimwear. This sort of "Fan Service" was supposedly extended to female readers, as male superheroes were depicted in roughly similar circumstances...despite the audience of Marvel at the time being overwhelmingly male. This is to say nothing of the frequent gratuitous sexualization of female characters throughout the Marvel universe.

Captain James T. Kirk of "Star Trek" and James Bond, lauded as pop culture icons, are frequently sexually aggressive, transgressive, and abusive towards their female counterparts. Though these "romance" scenes are meant to vicariously actualize the (male) audience's presumed sexual attraction to their female leads and supporting characters, in the case of the original "Bond" films especially, this sometimes includes physical violence against sexual partners and several instances of rape.





Normalization and wider influence


"Fan Service", gratuitous titillation - whatever you want to call it, isn't simply harmless or merely annoying. It normalizes things like, well...groping an unconscious woman on a whim, and worse.

Back to that horrific scene in "The Seven Deadly Sins"...I managed to push through the rest of the first episode after that, despite it and the vapid characters and plot. I wanted to see if there was more to the show, and if the aforementioned transgressive scene was thrown in as a one-time thing out of some twisted sense of genre-specific obligation, like the first episode of an HBO show usually includes gratuitous nudity in the hopes that viewers will tune in for the rest of the season. 

There was no further groping, but the blatant objectification of Elizabeth continued. Then, it happened again in Episode 2, even sooner than in Episode 1. Pissed that this show apparently intended to constantly force me to watch a young girl get sexually assaulted ad nauseum as a condition for hearing the rest of the story, I immediately shut it off.

I began reading articles about "SDS" online, and apparently, I'm not the only one to have been super upset by this show. As I suspected, it doesn't stop in Episode 2. It actually gets worse. 

Later in the series, Meliodas is propositioned by a potentially consenting sexual partner, whom he rebuffs, saying with haunting sincerity, "sorry, but it's not the same if you're told to do it." Yep, he specifically says that someone consenting to sexual behavior is a turn-off for him. He literally says, "non-rape just doesn't do it for me." And this is the guy we're supposed to be rooting for!

I've heard the argument that since the characters aren't real, there's nothing to fault the creators of the show because no real people are actually getting hurt, and that "if you don't like boobs, then just don't watch the show, bruh." 

These and other equally flawed arguments are of course part of the problem. They end the conversation just as it begins by concluding that there is no problem, without presenting any evidence. The thing that makes this dangerous is that it prevents anyone from addressing that there are very real consequences to things like this. If sexual assault in fictional media is considered, not even necessarily normal, but morally acceptable or "okay", then those unable to dissociate fiction from reality, or those lacking real-world experience or guidance from a trustworthy teacher, may also conclude that such things are "okay" in the real world as well. 

This show is marketed towards teenagers and mature adults, but with its TV-14 rating on Netflix, you bet your ass that kids even younger and more impressionable than 14-year-olds have and will see it. Teenagers are in a part of life where they are particularly suceptible to influence, and the things that influence them at this stage in life are readily internalized for life. This is even more true for younger children.

Young boys don't need more negative influence from any culture. Boys and young men are encouraged by cultures across the world to view sexuality as a "challenge", a contest of will and determination, rather than a means to emotional and physical connection with a consenting partner. 

Dog trash like this show is why college athletes get pardoned from blatant sexual assault because serving time would "hurt their sports careers." It's why women all over the country fear walking alone at night and carry a can of mace in their pockets. It's why sexual assault and rape survivors, tragically, don't always come forward and report their encounters or pursue justice for them...because it's seen as so normal, a male character can do it in a kid's show, and it's just par for the course.

Friday, November 3, 2017

Junk Drawer # 1

Whoops! Missed my release date.

I meant to publish something yesterday afternoon, but unfortunately, something came up and I wasn't able to write a post. So, I'm doing it now.

I decided to post a quick update about my life. The weather's been rainy and cold all week, and my brain has been rather sluggish, so I'm having trouble finding things to write about. That said, I figured I'd just post a few things that have drifted through my thoughts lately, similar to Reddit's "r/ShowerThoughts" section. This is going to be very, very experimental, but it might be something I turn to whenever I literally can't think of a single thing to write. I'm calling it a "Junk Drawer" post because where else do you put loose shit you don't have any other place for?


Junk Drawer # 1


1. The generation that grew up loving "Lord of the Rings" in childhood became college-age right around the time "Game of Thrones" first came out. I don't know if it was intentional, but it seems like perfect timing. "Game of Thrones" is like "Lord of the Rings", but with deeper characterization and more violence and nudity.

2. Every time Trump comes close to impeachment, some new controversy steals the media's attention for weeks. Despite all of his advisors turning on him, somehow he's still in office. Seems uncanny.

3. Dogs have noses that are 10,000 times more sensitive than humans, yet they love smelling gross stuff. Maybe that's because they have different mental attitudes towards things humans consider foul-smelling, or maybe it's because dogs can smell awesome things in poop and garbage that humans can't?

4. What's the point of getting into political discussions on Facebook? Nobody's mind ever gets changed and it usually just ends with two former friends shitting on each other. If one side is persistent enough, the other side always ends with the cop-out, "well that's your opinion", or something similar. Sometimes they block communications with the person they disagree with entirely. I can just picture a cartoonish corporate CEO floating above the digital realm of Facebook, rubbing their hands with glee at the futility of all that misdirected anger.

5. I keep wondering about a very arbitrary scenario...wine and whiskey, or beer and gin and tonics. If I had to keep one combo and get rid of the other, which would I choose? I think I'd go with wine and whiskey because wine is technically better for you and bourbon is my preferred spirit. Yet I would undoubtedly miss beer and the odd G&T, which is my go-to when I'm ordering cocktails at a bar. Framing your own opinions like this really puts your own thoughts and behavior into perspective.

6. I definitely need business cards, but I think I need to change the name of this blog first. I liked the cute pun for awhile, but with the implied connection to a Confederate warcry, and especially in light of the current political climate, I really don't think that's something I want associated with my brand.

7. I should start referring to my own career and image as my "brand." Sounds cool and professional.

8. Honey badgers are the worst. I'll not add contact to that statement. Better that way.

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

The Goat


Happy Halloween!

I'm trying to keep to a more regular posting schedule. I'm trying for shorter posts Tuesdays, longer ones Thursdays.

I figured since Halloween falls on a Tuesday, I'd try to post another scary story that I literally wrote on Halloween...tonight!

I originally posted this short, short story for the "Short Scary Stories" subReddit. You can check out the original post here. If you're not familiar with it already, the point is to write the scariest story you can, using the least words you can. 

I may release one more after this...I wrote a scary story about a bizarre dream I had last December, but I may also hold on to that until next year...it's rough, and I think I need to work on it a lot before it's ready. Otherwise, I'll post something else Thursday, so keep an eye out for that for sure.





The Goat


Never go out after midnight. If you have to, wear all black and don't bring a flashlight.

Never let your pets go outside after dark, unless you're not particularly attached to them.

Never count on your cell phone. The towers are too far away, and the light will draw Him to you.

Never try to meet Him. You don't want to meet Him.

Never chase after cries for help...especially if they're coming from the woods.

Never believe someone's voice if you can't see them. Even if it sounds like someone you know, someone you trust. If it's dark, don't try to see. Just run.

Never eat meat the night before Summer begins, not even fish...don't let fresh blood hit the open air. Not even indoors.

Never talk about the ones who break the rules. They deserve to be forgotten.

Always remember: He's closer than you think. And He's very patient.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Faye

Image from Flickr

I'm continuing my streak of regular posting for the second week in a row! Since this is the last week before October, I figured it'd be appropriate to end the month with one final horror story. This is one I wrote over a year ago, as part of a series of four stories I wrote in a month for submission to a short story collection. Of the four, only The Summit (see in earlier posts this month) was selected for publication. This one won the silver medal, mostly because it needed a LOT of workshopping. 

While I still think there's more I could do with it, I think it's at a point now where it's publishable, at least on my own blog. I have a thing where I write all the time, but I never try to publish anything I write, nor show anybody. I'm trying to do less of that.

I've enjoyed posting this stuff, but I have to admit, I feel self-conscious about my work, which is probably why I don't post it or submit it for publication more. I also want to stress that none of my stories are based on people in my own life, nor do the characters necessarily share interests, opinions, or experiences of my own. Just really, really want to stress that - these are all works of fiction, and they're based in the horror genre, so they get a bit dark. I feel like I shouldn't need to offer such a disclaimer, but being as we are in the dawn of the age of Social Media and it's not uncommon for speculation to turn into accepted "fact", I recognize that you have to watch what you post these days. If you're reading this, and you're someone I know personally, just remember that I never base a character wholly on one person in my life, if anyone. Most stories that I write like this are dark fantasies, and coming up with those are fun for me.

That said, without further delay, here's my final horror story for the month. I'm planning on doing something similar, but more fleshed-out next year, so check back October 2018 if you want more stories like The Summit, Eyes in the Dark, and this one...












Faye



I don't know how it happened. I don't know why it happened – yet every person I've dated for the past few years…I don't know how she did it – it always turned out to be her.

Sometimes she was blonde or a redhead. Sometimes she had dimples. Sometimes she was shy, sometimes totally indiscreet and forward. Sometimes she was great in bed – sometimes not so much. 

No matter who she disguised herself as it would always turn out to be her. Somehow, it was always "Faye."

I first met Faye when I was twenty-three. I was working at a small PC repair shop fixing hardware for a living. She was allegedly still an undergrad. She had red hair, blue eyes. She had the slightest overbite, which I found super cute. I'd never taken a woman home from a bar before.

That night was mostly a blur, but what I remember wasn't just the sex and booze. It was almost like a spiritual experience. It was as though our bodies spoke to each other for the first time in a language I thought only I spoke. We folded together like we were made for each other. She made me feel more alive than I’d ever felt. I would give almost anything to feel like that again.

Almost.

One night, she'd told me she was into witchcraft. She read me tarot cards, talked about crystals and healing energy…I remember thinking, okay, she's one of those people. I don't want to judge her, I told myself. Whatever weird stuff she was into, I wouldn't let it ruin everything.

She told me one night she wanted to try "something new." I told her I trusted her.

She tied me up and blindfolded me. She said she'd be right back – that the waiting would make everything "more intense." I was actually getting pretty excited until I heard a sharp, metallic sound…

I wiggled the blindfold off just in time for Faye to appear in the doorway…

…only it didn't look like Faye. Not exactly. I didn't know what she was...I still don't. Her body looked human enough. Same collarbone, shoulders, same waist and hips I'd come to know with great intimacy. Her face was the only thing different, but it was so different. It kept getting more different. I swear on my soul, her face was changing.

Her eyes, her lips, her hair, the shape of her skull, the color of her skin kept shifting and changing so quickly her features blurred all together. Like a television screen flipping through every channel. I don't know how else to describe it…she had a million faces and one, all at the same time.

In her hand was a huge, curved knife.

I panicked. Somehow, I don't remember how, I struggled until I was free and escaped from my own apartment.

I found my way to a friend's house, where I stayed the night. In the morning I was too scared to go back to my apartment, so I stayed another. I didn't sleep much. I couldn't stop looking out the window. I had a panic attack every time there was a knock at the door.

I swore I would never let my guard down again.

I went to the police, but Faye had disappeared. I told them where she lived – I had been over to her place a few times. Turns out, "Faye's" apartment belonged to a woman who had disappeared about a week before I started seeing Faye. Her body was found in a ditch outside of the city. I have slept with a murderer on her victim's bed.

I tried to continue a normal life. I moved to a new apartment. I changed jobs. I changed phones. I made a new Facebook account with a different name, one that was harder to search. Eventually, after years and lots of therapy, I was ready to date again.

I started seeing someone new – Beverly. She was a nursing student. She loved hip hop and scary movies. She had blonde, curly hair and brown eyes. For months, everything went really well between us.

Beverly had mentioned she was concerned about my unwillingness to talk about my past, especially my dating history. She kept trying to get me to open up, but I would always change the subject. I could tell it annoyed her. We started getting into arguments about it. She became more distant, and I knew I was about to lose her. 

She was just worried about me. She was just doing what people do in normal relationships. I wasn’t going to let Faye ruin it for me.

I told her we could talk, but she had to be patient with me. I’d never shared it with anyone before. She said she was there for me, and I could take all the time I needed.

I started at the beginning. I’d met Faye at a bar, but I was too shy to ask for her number. It was weird, but we kept bumping into each other after that – at the library, at the gas station…once on the street. It was maybe the fourth or fifth time we met that I finally worked up the courage to ask her out.

I told her about the last night I saw her. Beverly’s eyebrows curled when I described hearing the sound of the knife, the hopeless feeling of being stuck in the restraints as she approached…her face…

Beverly gave me a hug. She was warm. I felt safe with her. Finally, for one moment I didn’t feel scared. I had forgotten what that felt like.

Then she asked me what the woman’s name was. I told her.

“Her name is Faye.”

At first, she didn’t react. Then I saw her eyes light up. She started laughing, first a hearty chuckle, and then it got more intense. She was cackling. She was laughing so loud, it hurt my ears. I kept waiting for her to stop, but she kept laughing.

Her laughter became so intense, it seemed almost painful. If she was in pain, she seemed to enjoy it.

“You said it!” she cried, practically sobbing with laughter. “YOU SAID IT.”

I couldn’t believe it.

“YOU SAID IT! YOU SAID IT! YOU SAID IT! YOU SAID IT! YOU SAID IT! YOU SAID IT! YOU SAID IT! YOU SAID IT! YOU SAID IT! YOU SAID IT! YOU SAID IT! YOU SAID IT! YOU SAID IT! YOU SAID IT! YOU SAID IT! YOU SAID IT! YOU SAID IT! YOU SAID IT! YOU SAID IT! YOU SAID IT! YOU SAID IT!”

I ran as fast as I could. I didn’t even put my shoes on.

So it went for years. It was harder and harder each time to trust people enough to let them into my life. Lightning probably wouldn't strike the same place a third time, right? Well, it did. I mean, it almost did – though I guess I don't even really know if it was her. I'm pretty sure, though. We were talking about bands we liked, and she said something the first version of Faye said a lot…I think it was a philosophy quote? I wouldn't know…"without music, life would be a mistake." That was it. Faye had said it more than a few times. I guess it could have been a coincidence? I think it's supposed to be a pretty common quote, so it may have been a coincidence. If it was, I may have dipped out on someone who may have been a normal person for no reason. I feel like a dick when I think about it that way. I wondered if I should try to reach out to her, apologize for disappearing, hope she would understand, but of course, she wouldn't…who would believe me if I told them? How could I explain without sounding crazy? Plus, at that point, I wasn't going to risk it. It was just as likely to be a coincidence as it was Faye mocking me, dangling a smoking gun right in front of my face, knowing I would wrestle with it until I forced myself to pretend not to have noticed, or question my own sanity until I could no longer tell reality from paranoid delusion. Not if I wanted to hold on to the hope of ever escaping her and living my life again. She knows me too well.

I thought the last one was different. She really put up a hell of a charade with that…form, or whatever it was. I really thought it wasn't her…but then she said that goddamn quote and my brain sank into my stomach and all I could think about was that last night with Beverly. 

I don't care about feeling lonely anymore. I just didn't want her to find me again...but she has.

She always does.

Someone, anyone who finds this…I want someone to know what happened to me. She's outside, I've seen her. It's got to be her. She's standing under a pine tree just over a hundred yards away. She's been there for around two hours now. It's dark, and she's someone new again, but it's definitely her. She's got black hair now, and blue eyes.

Please, tell someone, anyone. Tell everyone you can. I just want someone to know what happened. I don't want this to happen to an

oh god


the window