Memories & Logs
Jeffrey Hawk: Finger of Chaos
"Time to finish this. Kill the bastard. Right now." Jeffrey Hawk makes his move, rounds the corner of his trailer. He squints, sees footprints in the soft ground. "Bingo." Crouches low, belly skimming over the dirt. A crowd roars from the circus tent three hundred yards away. He uses the sounds to conceal his movement. Then he sees it: the shadow of his chosen victim. "Focus. Bring on the carnival of carnage." He shifts his weight to his back foot and springs.
"I'll shred y'up good, you sonnuva bitch!" He grabs the raccoon, ripping the creature from his trashcan. They tumble. Garbage spills to the ground. Sharp pain and dull discomfort as he rolls through broken glass, cigarette butts, and half-eaten corndogs. "This is the last time you invade my trash!" The raccoon twists, snaps at air until finding a fat chunk of flesh. "Ah, damnit!" Jeffrey loses his grip, recovers just in time to grab a bushy tail. He's on the defensive; swings the animal around, whirling it like a lasso. He loses his grip. The raccoon soars through the air, reaching incredible heights. The squealing, thrashing silhouette of the woodland creature flies over the backdrop of a full moon. Majestic. It arcs downwards and... lands safely in a tree. "Blast it all to hell!" With a furious hiss, the raccoon scurries into the foliage and disappears. "Scram, ya hairball... touch my garbage again and I'll make a balloon animal outta your intestines." He wipes a smear of blood onto his pants. A blaring of trumpets rings through the night, coming from the circus tent in the distance. The acrobats are taking the stage! He had nearly forgotten his plan. There's hope for this night yet.
Jeffrey hurries into the circus tent, anticipation buzzing through his veins. He stands at the back of the bleachers, avoiding the gawking, idiotic crowd. All eyes are glued to the trapeze artist swinging above. "Ha, they have no idea!" The best comedy is unexpected, and only Jeffrey knows the punchline: he greased the second trapeze an hour ago. Spotlights, a drum roll, the acrobat flips through the air, grabs the next trapeze and whoops — slips right off. Down, down... splat. The sudden and exhilarating crunch of breaking bones. But nothing compares to the splat. The splat makes it all worth it. Like a ripe tomato thrown against a wall. And then, silence. A hundred people in shock. Trauma forming in their brains. Future nightmares being scripted. The moment broken by a single woman's scream, followed by a hundred more. Jeffrey can't hold it any longer. He bellows laughter, nearly suffocates with glee. No one can hear over the turmoil. Half the crowd rushes to the exit, needing air, needing to be sick, needing a stiff drink. "What a show!" Jeffrey chuckles, wipes his tears, and then — "oh my..." His eyes glaze over. So many fingers pass by. Hundreds of them. He's a kid in a candy shop, and the possibilities are measured by the handful.
He's paralysed with indecision. As the crowd streams by, he appraises their hands. Long fingers, stout fingers, pristine, and ugly. "Don't be greedy now, you'll get one. Gotta keep things quiet, the fuzz will be snooping after the trapezist's ‘accident.’" He spots a candidate worth his attention: three inches on the left hand of a young woman. Smoother knuckles than the norm. "What does it taste like? Candy apple, maybe. Or... brass? Why brass?" With considerable effort the memory arises: a first-grade teacher with a similar finger who used to wear cheap rings. He was a brat, but she was too hard on him. A burst of endorphins tickles his spine. How would he immortalise this stand-in for his first-grade teacher? A sharpened pencil to her jugular? Stupid. Obvious. Pandering to irony. But also, satisfying in its cartoonish simplicity. "Wait — what about the plump man with plump fingers? Thick sausages ready to burst with the slightest pinprick." A reminder of the mailman who yelled at him for flinging dog crap at a car. "Bastard. I was just a kid having fun. Could fry up that finger and feed it to the local mutt." The fantasy is liberating. A righting of wrongs. And then... he sees it. The one. He shudders, recoils like he's seen a ghost, but is suddenly drawn to it, unable to look away. It's the finger he's always searched for, always longed to make his own. Attached to a hand, to an arm, to a man with a very stupid moustache. He has found it: the Finger of Chaos.
Jeffrey is fixated on the moustached man's finger as he walks by, so close he can taste the alcohol-soaked sweat between the joints. He knew a finger just like it. In a different life. Before the circus. Before he became Jeffrey Hawk and was still Kenneth Chase.
He's seven years old, in his bedroom, playing with a plastic army man. He throws it against the wall. Bites its head till his tooth hurts. But then, the unexpected: chaos awakens. His father shouts from the living room with a booming voice. Kenneth retreats to his closet. He hears his father coming down the hall, each step louder. "Hide!" He buries himself under a pile of dirty clothes and shuts his eyes. The closet door swings open. The odour of cheap beer floods in as a large hand grabs him, pulls him. "Why! Why, you little shit? Branson says you kicked his damn dog. That true?" Kenneth's too afraid to say the words forming in his head: "It's true. I walloped the smelly mutt good. Don't know why. Just something like a reaction. Don't get twisted about it, ain't nothing different I coulda done." His father shoves his finger straight into Kenneth's face. "Speak up, you damned idiot! You think I want to be stuck with you?" The finger. Thick, oddly straight, a knuckle with ridges upon ridges of loose skin, a chipped nail that lends it personality. "Your mum would have hated you. You listening?" Kenneth can't look his father in the eyes. He retreats to his imagination. "Hack off his finger, Kenneth! Make dad cry, make the blood spurt. Point the finger right back in his face and laugh. Laugh, Kenneth!" His father looks ready to burst as his face reddens. "This funny to you? You some kind of clown? Keep laughing and see what happens." And though Kenneth fears his punishment, he can't get the bloody thoughts out of his head — so he laughs and laughs.
Jeffrey examines Moustache's finger as the crowd jostles around the circus tent. On his hand: a finger, thick, oddly straight, knuckles with ridges of loose skin, and yes, even a chipped nail. It may not be the original, but damn, it'll do nicely.
Jeffrey barrels through the crowd, keeping an eye on the moustached man and his index finger. He pushes a lady aside, strong arms a man. "Move along, ya jerks." Everyone's too disturbed by the acrobat's death to be upset by a clown's social faux pas. It'll be days before it crosses anyone's mind: "Did that clown really elbow an old woman in the face?" Jeffrey spots Moustache walking through the fair grounds. Tents, Ferris wheels, and food booths have gone dark, closed for the night. The scent of deep fryers and popcorn is still thick in the air.
Moustache breaks from the crowd. "Perfect. Time to get to work." Jeffrey disappears into cover. Despite his size, despite his bright, gaudy clothing, he naturally slinks through the shadows. His anger over the raccoon infiltrating his garbage has fizzled away. There is only one creature of the night that lives here. His name is Jeffrey Hawk.
The hunt begins. This is Jeffrey's moment. The anger and revulsion fades, if only for a few minutes, allowing him to exist in comfort. He doesn't stumble or slow as he stalks through the deep darkness. Takes sure, steady steps. He wants to remember this moment. It's simple. One man with a wonderful finger. One clown that's going to kill him. If only that was the whole of history, the entirety of existence. Wipe out the jealousy, betrayal, and greed, the tax collectors and nosy neighbours, the dogs that bark all night, the women who lead men on, the endless stream of cars, and the suitcases full of lies. Erase the whole overwhelming thing, the pain that ties it together — he doesn't want to be a part of it, he was never good at it anyway. Leave one simple moment: A clown, a man, and a murder.
He's jolted from his tranquillity as a branch snaps underneath his foot. Thirty paces ahead, Moustache straightens up like a meerkat, swings his head around. He knows something's out there. Something unseen. "Hello...? Please... is someone there... I don't know what's happening." Jeffrey chuckles. "Neither do I."
Jeffrey keeps to the shadows, makes his way closer to Moustache. He moves swiftly, silently... almost silently. He hacks into his sleeve and spits a mass of phlegm into the dirt. Wheezes. Could use a smoke and a shot'a something. "Bah, keep moving." He skulks past the cotton candy stand and around the fortune teller's tent. "No use drawing it out any further. It's time. Bring on the clown!"
Jeffrey paces slowly from the shadows. Large, imposing, smeared in grease paint, wearing a ridiculous coat of stripes, polka dots, and patches. And the blade, beauty in simplicity. That's all it takes. Moustache squeals like a pig and scurries. All according to plan. Corral him past the pony stables, around the freak show, and — cut him off. Give him nowhere to run but the Haunted Hostel and really have some fun with the chump. Moustache sprints towards the rundown shack, covered in spatters of red paint and cheap imitation spider webs. But then — he turns. Beelines away from the Haunted Hostel and towards... no, not that — the Fun House of Friendship. All the makeup in the world can't cover the disgust. A deep, resigned sigh. Jeffrey stands in front of a bright pink and blue building painted in smiling, cartoonish faces of giraffes, elephants, and bears. A sign on the front says ‘50 Cents Admission — You're in for a Ton of Safe, Friendly Fun’. "Damnit all."
Darkness. Jeffrey hears Moustache bumping around up ahead but can't see a thing. He fumbles with wires, jams them at a wall, searching for an outlet. Bingo. Colourful lights flood over him. Playful music fills the area. An animatronic dog stares at Jeffrey with dead plastic eyes. "Let's be friends." Jeffrey delivers a solid kick to the dog's chest. "Let's be fr-fr-fr-frieeeeee —". Moving on. As soon as Jeffrey reaches the hall, he's overtaken by a teddy bear parade. Cartoonish animatronics emerge from the walls, singing, smashing cymbals, playing flutes. Or at least pretending to. Crackling music plays from speakers above, singing a stupid song about hugs bringing the world together. Jeffrey elbows his way past Billy Bear and Dingles. Buries a blade into Laffy's neck. Gets tangled up by Terry Tickle's outstretched arms. Smashes off Poppo's lower jaw. Before he knows it, he's waist deep in the ball pit canal. Navigating the balloon forest. And that's where he finds Moustache — hiding at the feet of an animatronic tiger wearing a British guard's uniform. "Bah... the longer you cower behind Sir Cuddlepuss, the more I'm gonna make this hurt."
Moustache makes a run for it. Jeffrey pulls a bottle of Afterpiece Tonic from his inner pocket. Gives it a swirl and hucks. Glass shatters. A thick cloud of fumes envelope Moustache. The man stumbles and coughs, looks around in confusion, criss-crosses his feet as if each one wants to go a separate way. Jeffrey socks the idiot in the side of the head, knocking him unconscious. "Time to go home."
The man with the moustache is huddled in the corner of Jeffrey's trailer. Babbling, crying, pleading his case. Jeffrey isn't listening. All he sees is the finger... and the puddle at Moustache's feet. Jeffrey knows what it means. The man's realised he has one chance at survival, and his fight or flight just kicked in. But Jeffrey doesn't care, he knows he's already won. The Finger of Chaos is as good as his. The memories of his father are already shifting. A large, horrible man towering above, bellowing — no, that isn't it. "Think, Jeffrey." A weak, slouching alcoholic, stammering and slurring, too pathetic to control him. The outbursts? Nothing but the fury of a coward, the parody of a powerful man — a joke!
Moustache jumps up, reaches for the bottles of chemicals on the counter. Predictable. Jeffrey bellows laughter as he grabs the man's neck and slams him to the floor. Puts his full weight onto Moustache, grips his throat and squeezes. "You want to play with chemicals, do ya? I don't even know what'd happen if those mixed. Hallucinations... euphoria... uncontrolled flatulence... death?" Jeffrey thinks this over as he repeatedly smacks Moustache's head into the floor. They all sound like hilarious endings. And why not add some uncertainty to the mix? He doesn't need to fear chaos anymore. He can handle it. And hell, he deserves a little fun.
"You want to play one last game? Okay, Moustache... let's play."
- This video is unlocked after completing all Master Challenges associated with this Memory/Log entry
Jake Park: Exile of the Kingdom
Jake bites his lower lip with the thought of chowing down on a rack of ribs — smoking, charred, succulent ribs. He shakes his head and returns his focus to the moment... to the wild hog he's been tracking through the woods all morning and afternoon. But he can't get the thoughts out of his mind. He's never had such a hard time keeping his focus. When he's not thinking about food he's thinking about the past, about home, about the argument. Seems like it happened so long ago. The argument started on Friday and by Monday morning, he was out on his own, exiled from the only life he knew for disobedience. But it wasn't disobedience. Not to Jake. To Jake it was a need. No. It was more than a need. It was a longing... a profound longing to know where he came from and why his father never talked about him.
"But you didn't have to push him so hard, did you?"
"I did. I had to. I had to because I had the right to know who he was. Don't you see? I have an emptiness inside me that no money or thing can fill. Yet... he never told me anything about him... he just distracted himself with the business and all the trappings of a superficial life and —"
"Raising you, Jake! Raising his boys!"
Jake stares past trampled grass and he hears his mother's voice resounding through his head.
"Jake... please... you are expecting a straight thing, and no straight thing has ever been made. Your father isn't perfect, and everything he's done is to give you a better life than he had. He has his reasons."
"And I have mine!"
Jake closes his eyes. He remembers leaving home without saying goodbye. He remembers backpacking across Korea, meeting people who had known his grandfather and could tell him stories about how he had lived. And none of the stories he had been told justified burying the past the way his father had done. He had expected his grandfather to be an abusive, deadbeat and yet... he had discovered a hero... a legend even. He had saved and reunited so many families and so many were grateful and indebted and still... he never mentioned him.
"Maybe he didn't want a legend, Jake. Maybe he wanted something else. But why does it matter? Why does it matter right now?"
A voice of caution suddenly brings Jake back to the moment. His grandfather's voice or what he thinks his grandfather would have sounded like. "Jake... stop thinking about everything else except what you need to think about. You need to eat before you begin to see things that aren't there. You've been at it all morning and afternoon with that make-shift spear, and if you don't get the hog you'll end up like me."
Jake nods with a slight respectful bow as he examines the freshly trampled grass.
Jake charges after the boar as it zigzags through the long grass and suddenly disappears near the creek. Panting, he slows to a jog, searching left and right. He's hiding. Hiding like the letter his father hid in the attic. Don't lose your focus, Jake... not now... not again...
"I don't understand why he would hide such a beautiful letter in a shoebox?"
"Ah, yes... the letter. It's the letter that set you off on your journey. It's the letter that inspired you to learn your father's language properly."
"You wanted to translate it for yourself, and you did. But now, Jake, you need to stop thinking about the letter, about your father, about the past... you need to focus on the hunt or none of it will matter anymore. Find food or become food."
Jake winces. His grandfather would never say such a thing. That's something his father would say. The voices in his head are mixing like a horrible stew of fermenting leftovers. He doesn't remember when he started hearing the voices but at some point out on his own in the mountains, he realised he was talking to himself and that talking to himself helped him cope with the loneliness.
"Everyone hears voices inside their head, Jake, although most are too distracted to listen or even acknowledge them, or, if they do acknowledge them, they keep them private for fear of ridicule."
Most of Jake’s voices are family members and old friends that make friendly talk here and there, but as of late the voices poke and question everything he does.
And now for the last two days he was hearing a new voice. A mocking voice that highlighted and criticised every mistake he made like his dreaded high school English teacher that made him read garbage he didn't connect with or gave him nicknames like ‘muddle brain’ for mixings up words, reading backwards and seeing things in the stories she claimed weren't there. They were. She just lacked imagination and perspective.
It was her voice — teeth grinding on wool — that squelched through his mind to undermine his dignity and confidence as a thinking human being.
Jake was convinced his teacher had existed solely to prevent those with other ideas and perspectives from ever pursing a literary career. His father didn't care about his issue with his English teacher or with teachers in general.
It didn't matter.
Stories didn't matter.
Just tell the teacher what she wants to hear. Think of her as your boss and think of grades as money. Parrot her ideas and opinions and you'll be rewarded with lots of money... maybe even a bonus or a promotion.
Easy enough advice to follow.
And yet his father's advice did nothing to improve his sense of otherness in relation to the stories and curriculum he was subjected to on an almost daily basis. He still felt like an outsider for lacking interest in the literature and history he was expected to read and memorise as truths undeniable. Seemed like there was a big chunk of perspective missing from the overall narrative being poured into him like concrete that made him feel like he didn't belong.
"But what does it matter now?"
"Leave the past in the past and focus on what needs to get done."
Listen here, big brother... the sun's coming down, you're having conversations with yourself, and your cells are about to cannibalise one another. Find your focus."
Jake sits on a stone and watches a hawk circle against the golden dusk. He sighs and feels his stomach twist. He needs something... anything... and he regrets not taking the free granola bars from the clerk at the hunting store. He still doesn't understand what he was trying to prove and to whom he was trying to prove it to. "I guess I want to see if I could be like him."
"You've brought trail mix and other snacks before. What's so special this time?"
Jake draws a deep, anxious breath. "I don't know...
The hawk sails through the darkening sky, then swoops and quickly disappears near the stream. Jake stares after it for a long moment, then decides. He grabs his spear, staggers to his feet and stealthily makes his way toward the shimmering water.
By a fallen tree he sees the hawk picking at feathers and bones. He inches closer, lifts his spear and launches it. The spear hits the ground, and the hawk rockets to the sky, leaving scraps behind. "Scraps... Scraps will do. For now."
Jake kneels by a sticky clump of flesh and feathers. He smells the pungent odour of heart-pounding red. He touches the sticky innards and the plucked skin and the bones... bones as white as the hog's grin.
Jake sighs his frustration and shakes his head. He doesn't know if hogs display any kind of emotion. But if they can... this hog is definitely smiling. No... Not smiling... Laughing.
"What kind of bird is this, anyway?"
"Doesn't matter." Jake pulls out matches and cooks the guts, preparing a kind of bird-pudding.
"You brought matches but no granola bars?"
"I don't know what I was thinking."
"You're not him, Jake."
"He died out there."
"Not to me."
Jake tries to spit the rancid taste of regurgitated bird out of his mouth as he tracks the boar. His stomach rejected most of what he tried to stuff into it, but he's grateful he got some nourishment for his starving cells. He can't even begin to imagine what it would be like to guide and care for others in the middle of nowhere. How'd he do it? How'd he feed them? How'd he lead them out of the woods with soldiers tracking them?
Jake stops suddenly to examine a few broken twigs. He brings his focus back to the hunt, trying to determine which direction the hog took. Then he hears it.
Almost inaudible, but he hears it. He turns towards a patch of shuffling high grass and narrows his gaze. The snorting grows louder and louder. "He's laughing at me! Sunnava bitch, is laughing at me!"
"You aren’t worthy, kid!"
"The hell I'm not!"
Jake launches his spear into the moving grass. A high pitch squeal follows, and the hog jolts away!
Jake surges after him, tracking a trail of red to the mouth of a small cave. He laughs to himself and knows he will feast tonight. "He's done!"
"I searched that cave before... there's no other way out. It's just a matter of time and patience.
"And focus... Jake... focus...
Jake figures an hour or so has passed and he's noticed no movement or attempt to escape. This is a worthy adversary. He thinks he can outwait me.
"It's a good plan... He might actually escape. I'm betting on the hog."
"You'll lose, bro."
Jake considers his options, then grabs a small shovel out of his rucksack and begins to dig a pit. He feels cobalt eyes watching him and he grins to himself. "It will take a bit of time... but this deadfall will put the odds in my favour."
The people his grandfather helped said he dug a tunnel under a small clearing to avoid detection... He dug a tunnel... Digging a small pit is nothing in comparison.
"What I don't understand is... you brought a shovel... and matches but no granola bars... What the hell were you thinking?
"I guess I wasn't."
"You're a walking contradiction, Jake."
"The stupid shit we do when we're lost and alone."
"I'm not lost or alone... I'm exactly where I want to be."
"Yeah, yeah. The whole turn your back on civilised living because humanity and not you have lost your way. Make yourself believe whatever you want... but in the end... he's your father."
"He didn't even try to reach out to me!"
You didn't try to reach out to him."
"He kicked me out!"
"You poked and twisted an old wound. You hit a nerve and he reacted."
"His father was a hero!"
"Maybe he didn't want a hero, Jake. Maybe he just wanted a father... A living, breathing father to do shit with... kinda like what you got."
Jake stands next to his father and brother by the sizzling barbeque and the turquoise, inground pool. He takes in the scent of thick, fatty, white bacon melting into mounds of burning black charcoal. He reaches around his father and pulls off a strip and devours it. His father smiles and says it's like he's never seen food before.
Jake's eyes widen as thick, droplets of grease drip off his chin. He suddenly pushes past his father and brother, attacking the grill, stuffing his face with greasy, life-giving fat and protein. His father tries to hold him back but Jake won't be denied when suddenly the meat morphs into a living, wild hog. The hog turns to Jake and winks.
Jake stumbles back and falls into the pool.
The pool swirls and turns into a deadfall as several spikes rip through his chest. Jake yells in agony, waking up with a start, finding himself in a small pit beside thick, sharpened branches pointed outward.
Jake wipes the sweat off his brow and slowly clambers to his feet. He climbs out of the deadfall and stares into the darkness of the cave for a long moment. Then he hears his mother's soothing voice.
"Jake... please... finish the letter and send it to him."
"Why? What's the use? It's just gonna end up in a shoebox in the attic like his father's letter."
"You're wrong. It will be like the picture in his wallet."
"That's just a stupid picture!"
"Not to him."
"I'm tired of waiting!"
Jake grabs a few branches, sets them ablaze and tosses them into the dark, gaping mouth of the cave. He watches the darkness fill with lashing, flames and swirling, smoke, and he waits for the inevitable. As he stares at the thickening smoke, he's reminded of a story and his thoughts drift away to his grandfather.
He reunited so many broken families. He helped so many people survive exposure, exhaustion and starvation. He saved them all and yet... he couldn't save himself.
They said there was a kind of smoke, too... a thick black smoke that suddenly surrounded them. One minute he was there. The next... he was gone. The survivors Jake had spoken to in Seoul said he was probably captured and executed but that they didn't know for sure.
A piercing squeal followed by a meaty thunk suddenly brings Jake back to the moment. He didn't even see the hog make a dash for it. He leans over the pit and stares at the skewered hog shaking and convulsing as life pours out of its wounds.
Jake sighs and feels mingled relief and regret. Sorry, brother... it was either you or me.
Jake swallows a piece of charred meat and stares beyond the flickering fire at the gutted hog. All he needs to do now is salt the meat. Took the whole day to get him but it was worth it. There's enough meat on him to last him months. The bloody and carved hog suddenly turns to Jake. "But you didn't really get me, did you?" Jake blinks. And blinks, again. "Truth is I let you catch me cause I figured you chased me long enough." Jake shakes his head in disbelief, and he knows his mind is still playing tricks on him despite having eaten. The hog sighs sadly. "You and I, Jake, we're caught in the same vicious cycle so don't feel so bad, all right? Today it's me. Tomorrow it's you."
Jake pinches himself but the hog continues. "Chase something long enough and it will surrender itself to you. It will stop running and let you catch it so long as you stay the course. Just like that story you chased in the old country." Jake narrows his gaze on the grinning hog. "Now you're here on Blood Mountain trying to be your grandfather while trying to forget your father without realising you're both and neither of them at the same time."
Jake tries to shake the hallucination out of his head. "Don't worry, Jake, I'm not really talking... you're tired and dehydrated... and completely lost in the woods. I'm just trying to give you some perspective or rather... you're trying to give yourself some perspective."
Jake sighs deeply. "I have no idea who I am or what I want to do and I'm talking to a dead hog in the middle of nowhere." The hog nods. "Yes, you are. It's interesting because your grandfather was poor and didn't have many options and you're not so poor and have too many options... I'm not sure which is worse... the tyranny of too little or the tyranny of too much... either way... a distracted life is a wasted life..."
"It's good that you came out here to figure things out. And you know what else is good? If you let go... if you just let go..."
"I have let go and I'm still as lost as I ever was."
The hog snorts. "You haven't let go, Jake. You're still playing the old scripts over and over again like a broken record. But let's see... you like chasing stories... especially the hidden ones... you talk to yourself constantly... and you like being alone... maybe you're a writer, Jake. Or maybe you're a historian."
Jake laughs out loud. "Are you kidding me! I hate history, and I failed every English class in high school cause I thought the rules were stupid and the teachers were boring."
"You and every other writer that actually made a dent. English class doesn't make a writer, Jake... Fighting class and dancing class do."
"I don’t even know what that means!"
"It means you need guts and style, not grades and diplomas. It means you need courage and not the validation of some coward that doesn't know what it's like to lead someone on a dancefloor or step into a ring. It means your country needs a lot more stories like yours. Because let's face it, Jake, if your story isn't in the main narrative... if you're just a footnote in a history book... you may as well not exist."
"You're not your grandfather, Jake. You're not your father either. And every generation has its challenge. Oppression. War. Separation. Maybe the challenge of your generation is... representation. You gotta get your stories out there whether you're a writer, historian, filmmaker or producer. Seems to me a lot of kids like you in the new country need to hear your story or stories like yours to know they aren't alone. To know they belong and that they aren't outsiders in their own home."
A chorus of howls brings Jake back to the moment. "Wolves! And they're coming for what's mine!" They howl again, and above the racquet he hears his father's voice. "In every transaction, Jake, there are wolves."
"Not in this one."
"Especially this one."
Jake ignores the voice in his head and tries to focus as he considers his next move carefully.
Jake sits high in a tree with the hog dangling from a cord. He grips the cord tightly and hopes the branch he's uses as support doesn't give way. Another howl rents the night and the chirping insects go silent. The wolves are coming, and they want what's rightfully his. He's glad he ate, and he feels new life coursing through his veins. He feels his focus sharpening, and yet he still hears his mother.
"You should have finished the letter when you had a chance."
"I'll finish it another time."
"If you get ‘another time’ Jake."
"And what if you die here? What if you go missing? Your father will sell everything just to find you."
"Yeah, right. All he cares about is his packaging empire."
"You really don’t know your father if that's what you think... or why he carries that picture with him everywhere he goes."
Jake scoffs. "The picture means nothing! Even the fortune-teller didn't know what it meant."
"But it means something to him, Jake. It means the world to him. You point your finger at your father and accuse him of not understanding you... but did you ever try to understand him?"
Several wolves approach the tree and peer up at Jake with eyes that reflect the shining full moon. Jake tries to silence the voice and reign his focus on the threat at hand. But the voice — the voice of family — refuses to be silenced.
"Let me tell you something about your father, Jake... If he could give all his money away for just one chance to meet his father, he would. And... if you disappear because you were too pig-headed to let go... he'd drop everything just to find you. We all would."
"Let go, Jake, and the wolves will disappear."
Wolves growl and lunge and rip pieces of flesh off the dangling carcass. Jake holds the cord tightly with one hand as he uses the other hand to attack the wolves with a branch. He's exhausted and doesn't know what to do. He feels like a tick beaten and battered by the rain... broken... beaten... defeated... Not by the hunt, or the wolves but the thoughts and emotions swarming in his head like a hive of anxious bees.
The wolves circle the tree with cackles and growls that seem like laughter in the night. "How the hell did I end up here? Up a tree fighting wolves in the middle of nowhere! And how the hell am I gonna get down?" He hears his brother's voice break through the din below."
"The stupid shit we do when we're lost and alone, right bro?"
Jake swallows a growing lump in his throat and admits the truth for the first time in years. "You've always seen right through me, little bro. God, I miss you. But you're right... I am lost and I am alone... and I have no idea who I am or what I want to do with my life... and that fortune-teller was right... I didn't know what to choose... so I chose nothing."
His mother's voice returns. "No, Jake. He was wrong. You did choose something."
Jake draws a deep shuddering breath and closes his eyes, remembering his first birthday as his mother had described it so many times."
He's dressed in his first red and blue Hanbok, sitting on a white blanket with all kinds of objects spread before him. Pens. Rice. Paint. Ink. Brushes. Money. His aunts, uncles and cousins encourage him to choose something with exaggerated baby-talk."
The fortune-teller asks everyone to be quiet and says the object Jake picks first will be the driving motivation of his life. The birthday boy drags himself toward the objects... drags himself past the pen... past the rice and the cake... past the ink and the brushes... nothing seems to interest him. But then —
He spots something. His eyes go wide with excitement, and he charges towards —
Yells! Screams! More baby-talk to encourage him to take the money! But —
Jake doesn't take the money. He doesn't even look at it. He surprises everyone by charging past the money with perfect focus and he only stops when he reaches a man kneeling in prayer. One year old Jake looks up at his father, smiles, and grabs his finger. His father smiles back at him, and his mother takes a picture —
Jake opens his eyes and now he hears his mother's voice above the snapping and snarling wolves. "The fortune-teller didn't really know what to tell us. He said we didn't arrange the objects properly. He said you chose nothing. But I think we both know he was wrong."
"I don't understand..."
"It's been years, Jake. Finish the letter. Teach him about his father. And come back home."
"I wouldn't know what to write... what to say..."
"You'll figure it out. Just remember that he respects what you did because in the end he knows..."
"You chose family."
"You always did, and you always will. That's why I know you'll do what needs to be done. Come back... help him complete his story."
The imaginary words strike Jake's heart like lightning. His eyes widen with sudden understanding, and for the first time in his life he wonders... he wonders what it would have been like to grow up without a father. To miss all the things his father gave him. To miss all the things he took for granted...
Hiking. Fishing. Hunting. Camping. Fun and fierce games of Baduk in moonlit tents. It wasn't all superficial bullshit. There was good, too. A lot of good.
He was so contradictory.
"Aren't we all?"
"I suppose we are."
Jake loosens his grip on the cord and stares at the frenzied wolves below, and for the first time in his life, he knows exactly what he needs to do.
To be revealed in Tome Level 3.
- This video is unlocked after completing all Master Challenges associated with this Memory/Log entry
The Observer: Midnight in the Garden of Infinity
The series featuring Haddie and Jordan on Terra 717 or Haley and Jaden on Terra 1315, or even Hannah and Justin on Terra 238 are all titled ‘HarbingerFM’ instead of ‘The Harbinger of Hell,’ and they seem to have more insight on what The Entity might be and how it corrupts and influences other worlds. Other Terra Worlds have quite unique and sometimes contradictory versions of the Harbinger series which make them difficult to track and interpret. But despite the discrepancies, each version seems to feature siblings trying to expose a nefarious cult devoted to The Entity.
I am currently searching The Rift for the real memories that inspired all these adventures to see how close they are to the actual inspiration. I'm even wondering if Haddie and Jordan are here, trapped in The Entity, and, if they are, I'm hoping their memories will somehow help me find a way out of here. So far, I have found nothing close to a real memory, but I did find another story from Terra 717 in which Haddie discusses a phenomenon she calls ‘The Overlap’ and which other stories call The Borro, The Coil, The Bleed, etc.
I'm currently keeping extensive notes on the Harbinger stories and their descriptions of The Overlap to see if any of them can give me insight into what this phenomenon actually is. What I've discovered so far is that almost all of these stories describe places where a dark dimension intersects with the world and that these intersections seem to attract tragedy and misfortune. Some of these stories go so far as to claim ‘broken’ or ‘traumatised’ people can derive strange abilities from the vibrations emanating from these dark and ‘cursed’ places. These people can ultimately use The Bleed — my preferred name for the phenomenon — to access knowledge beyond the veil as it were.
The Harbinger series from Terra 719 is also worth noting because the details included by the author seem closest to what we studied back home concerning Ancients and living dimensions, not to mention what I've been able to discover by examining the memories of souls marooned here. Piece by piece, or rather, story by story, I'm getting closer to salvation... or insanity... whichever comes first.
Chamber of Blood. HarbingerFM. Worlds Away. 1.
Haddie entered the small deli in Manhattan, New York, approached a small booth, and plopped an envelope in front of her stepbrother Jordan. He stopped chewing his early morning, scrambled eggs and asked, “What's this supposed to be?”
“I know who our mysterious benefactor is!” Haddie opened the envelope and pulled out a picture of a middle-aged man with salt and pepper hair in a dark suit.
Jordan shrugged. “Who am I looking at?”
“Surin Rivera. He was a sound engineer for a highly classified military project in the Office of Strategic Operations. He experienced a nervous breakdown and was institutionalised for years until he was released under the care of billionaire, philanthropist Kobe Dax. Others in the same program experienced similar breakdowns. One lives close by. The question is… why is Surin helping us?”
Jordan raised his finger and pointed to a man standing behind Haddie. “Why don't you ask him yourself?” Haddie turned to face the man in the picture standing beside her.
Surin took a seat beside Jordan and said, “You need to leave my case alone. I assure you both... You're not ready for what you’re prying into.”
“And what is that?” Haddie questioned.
Jordan took a small, nervous bite of his eggs and chewed slowly. “Let's not provoke the man, sis. If we're not ready... we're not ready... I'm good with that.”
“How do you know our uncle?” Haddie asked when he didn’t answer her question. “Why are you helping us? What are these places you're sending us to?”
Surin peered at Haddie for a long moment. Then he said, “Let's just say I have a fond interest in your work and your special abilities.”
Jordan swallowed and shrugged. “Okay... sure... that's good enough for me.”
“Not me.” Haddie's face hardened as she waited for an answer. “I want to know why your helping us.”
Surin scanned the deli nervously, then turned back to Haddie and Jordan. “Take my advice and don’t go down this rabbit hole. Not yet. You're not ready, and you’re exposing yourself to dangerous people.”
“What kind of people?” Haddie narrowed her gaze on him. “Police? Military? What are we talking about here?”
Surin shook his head gravely. “We’re talking about people who don’t answer to the police or military. People who create governments and corporations to use to their end and then throw them away like garbage when they're done.”
“What do they want?” Haddie asked, unsatisfied with his answer.
Surin stood. “Leave my case alone. Focus on the show and the leads I send your way. All will be revealed in due time.”
Haddie held up the envelope with his picture. “I'm getting ahead of myself... is that it?”
“Leave my case alone,” Surin repeated and walked away.
Haddie and Jordan watched Surin exit the deli in silence. Then Jordan turned to see Haddie's determined expression, and he knew they weren't leaving anything alone.
Chamber of Blood. HarbingerFM. Worlds Away. 2.
“Come on, bro! Let’s get ahead of ourselves!” Haddie led Jordan to the entrance of a dilapidated house in the suburbs. “Colonel Jim Dunn worked with Surin Rivera in the OSO.” Before Haddie could say another word the door creaked open, revealing a plump, middle-age woman with short blond hair.
“Can I help you?”
Haddie smiled. “Yes. I was actually hoping to speak to Col Lt Dunn for our podcast.”
The woman took a step back. “Is this some kind of a prank?”
Haddie shook her head. “No, ma’am.”
“Jim disappeared seven years ago. No one has any answers for me, and all I’m left with are rumours.”
Jordan inched closer to the woman. “Maybe our podcast could help? Maybe someone out there can help you if you share his story.”
“Share his story?” The woman hesitated for a moment. Then she nodded and said, “Yeah... all right... I just want my Jim back.”
Haddie and Jordan entered the home and followed her to the kitchen where they sat around a small, round table.
“I can only tell you what Jim told me,” the woman said, taking a deep breath and releasing it slowly to calm her nerves. “He worked for the Office of Strategic Operations which was... I guess you could say... the stuff of conspiracy theories.”
She paused, then continued. “Did you know Jim said the word ‘conspiracy theory’ used to never exist until the military created the term? Once you could actually question the government’s narrative but now… you’re not questioning anything because you don’t want to be called a ‘conspiracy theorist.’”
The woman laughed, then added, “Brilliant, really, and that’s pretty much why no one questions the government anymore... even if you’ve got a dozen whistleblowers with leaked documents all saying the same thing... you don’t really doubt or question anything cause you don’t want to be stigmatized.”
The woman shook her head in disbelief and continued with a little laugh. “Jim used to say the origin of ‘conspiracy theory’ is a conspiracy theory… anyway… he told me… there were places in the world that weren’t like other places… places which defied the laws of physics… which defied human comprehension… places connected to worlds away… to other dimensions… the government called it The Overlap. Crazy stuff, right? ”
Haddie didn’t respond. She had heard the term before when they were investigating a mysterious cult that believed in a kind of ancient deity that would one day help humanity evolve to another plane of existence. It’s a strange coincidence that this cult and the government would have the same name for the phenomenon.
“Like a wormhole?” Jordan questioned.
The woman shook her head. “That’s not how Jim described it. He didn’t talk much about The Overlap but he said what they had seen made him think another world was... how did he put it... consuming ours… like these Overlaps were growing bigger and bigger as we went down a kind of celestial digestive track… and… he said… he said they were pulling stuff out… things from other worlds...”
The woman fell silent and thoughtful for a long moment. “I could see changes in him. He was getting angrier and mean and he was never mean. He stopped sharing things with me. And I started hearing rumours.”
“What kind of rumours?” Haddie asked, leaning forward.
The woman went silent and thoughtful. Then she said, “Rumours that the government was doing things to them so they could stay in The Overlap for longer periods of time. I even heard that they pulled someone out from another world. Imagine that... a person from another world or dimension.”
Tears filled her eyes. “They say he left me… but I know my Jim… something happened to him and the authorities dismiss me as conspiracy theorist for saying otherwise. But I’ll tell you this — ”
A sudden report and the woman’s mouth filled with thick, warm blood as she tried to speak. Shattered teeth and saliva gushed out instead of words. Then her eye went wide and she slumped forward.
Jordan cursed and instantly tackled Haddie to the ground as bullets began to rip through the house from every direction.
Haddie stared up at her brother as bullets flew over their heads like angry wasps. “I think… we got ahead of ourselves.”
Chamber of Blood. HarbingerFM. Worlds Away. 3.
Bullets discharged from a flashing muzzle in the living room as Haddie followed her brother into the basement of the house. They stumbled down the stairs into the darkness and through a beam of sunlight pouring through a rectangular window. Before they could hide, the assassin was already descending the stairs with his rifle trained on them. Haddie and Jordan held hands and closed their eyes waiting for a quick death. A loud report sounded and when they opened their eyes they were both still standing.
The assassin stared at them with big white eyes of disbelief, then he collapsed to reveal Surin holding a smoking revolver. “Come on,” he said. “We need to leave before others come.”
The siblings didn’t hesitate, following Surin up the stairs and out the door past several dead bodies. Haddie counted seven dead assassins by the time she followed her brother into an unmarked black sedan. With a great sense of urgency, Surin started the engine, hit the accelerator and the car peeled away. After a silence, Haddie asked, “Is any of it true? The rumors? Worlds intersecting? The Overlap?”
Surin didn’t take his eyes off the road as he drove them back to the hotel where their uncle was waiting for them. “I can’t really answer that right now and you need to focus on your next episode. You’re here to investigate the old, abandoned subway station, and I think you should stick to the agenda.”
“Is it an Overlap?” Jordan asked. “Is that why there were so many accidents? Is that why it was abandoned?”
Surin hesitated, then nodded gravely.
“What do you and a billionaire care about the old, subway?” Haddie asked.
Surin sighed, took a moment to find his words, then answered. “I’m looking for my colleagues. We explored these areas all over the world and a few of us never returned and those that did… they came back to us... lost... confused... insane, even. I want answers. I want to know what happened to the others. I know they’re still alive. They’re lost somewhere... between worlds.”
“So you’re using us to find them?” Haddie said flatly.
“We’re helping each other in mutually beneficial ways.”
Haddie shook her head. “I need to know more. That’s not enough for me.”
Surin sighed and pulled the sedan over to the shoulder of the road and killed the engine. After a long thoughtful moment, he looked at the siblings in the rear-view mirror and said, “I was undergoing some, let’s say, unorthodox training to enter The Overlap… but it wasn’t possible… it’s like an impossible energy that pulls… I don’t know… hell... pulls hell right out of you… I mean there’s no other way to describe it. What you feel is just pure darkness. But the OSO figured when the mind is developing it can be… it can be fractured… broken in ways so that it rewires itself to withstand the stress of The Overlap.”
“You turned children into tools!” Jordan spat in disgust.
Surin looked away from the rear-view mirror and lowered his gaze without answering.
“And so I’m your new tool,” Haddie said. There was a short silence as Haddie considered her last few investigations. She remembered finding journals in the old asylum that had notes about other realms. Memories of other people trapped in a deathless world and journal entries revealing thoughts about how artists and writers were able to somehow tune into these other worlds with what they believed was their imagination but what was actually their third eye. It was a strange theory that Haddie had dismissed as the ravings of a depraved lunatic with a wild imagination. But something the patient had written had stuck with her.
The truth is in the story.
Haddie whispered the words to herself and thought she would give those notebooks another read in case she had missed something. She had them stored in her studio apartment in Montreal and would force Stefan to make a detour before their next investigation.
“You don’t understand,” Surin continued. “This isn’t just about the friends I lost… There are things in The Overlap we need to understand. There could be a new type of energy… a new way of seeing the world… the universe — ”
Jordan interrupted with a laugh. “Or... there’s nothing there… and it’s just a living hell.”
Chamber of Blood. The Spiders.
I have seen them, the spiders, in my mind. They’re coming! They’re coming for us all! Big ones! Small ones! Even giant ones the size of dinosaurs. I see them in my visions charging through the streets bringing truth and understanding to the ignorant.
But now… now… they’re safe… they’re hiding… hiding in my head and I can feel them crawling through my ear and skull, laying their eggs, nibbling at my nerves and waiting… waiting for the right time to burst out into the world to help humanity achieve transcendence. I actually don’t even know what that means… but they whisper it to me every night before I sleep.
I remember the cave… I remember how it all happened… how I breathed them in… they were in the thick, dark mist. Little things that are now growing inside me, consuming me, showing me visions of Truth, and whispering sweet nothings to me… a million chattering voices telling me I am the one… the chosen one… the one who will change the entire world as we know it. And yet…
The unbelievers try to medicate me! They try to poison the life growing inside me… They want to kill my children and prevent me from doing with my life what I was always meant to do. I have heard them go so far as to call me insane. Insane? How? How am I insane? Would an insane person protect the life growing inside them? Would an insane person set aside his wants and needs for the life growing inside him?
Of course not! They are the ones who are insane. They are the ones who need to be medicated. I am the only sane one in this absurd institution. I’ve done everything for the spiders crawling under my skin and the doctor sprawled at my feet will never harm them again. They are ready, and they are pushing out of my skull and crawling down my nose and out my mouth and I am becoming something more.
How could they doubt! How could they not see? How could they not see what I am and what I have become? They will burst out of me and consume me and I will be the apocalypse.
Terra Arachna. 1.
105.7 FM. Falls City Radio Classics. I’m Mat Rivers with the latest report we have on the blackouts in the city. Unconfirmed reports describe spider-like creatures attacking the Falls City Power Company. Online rumours suggest a biological terrorist attack unlike anything we’ve seen but no organization has stepped forward to claim responsibility and nothing has been confirmed officially. What we do know is generators at the power company exploded into violent flames taking down powerlines leaving the western sector of the city in the dark. City Police report these unknown creatures attacked several automobiles near the company and are considered extremely dangerous. At least three motorists are dead and four others are in critical condition. Motorists are urged to avoid roads near the power station and the 93 South. That’s the latest we have on the attacks. We’ll keep you informed as the situation develops. We now return to Money-Bake with the latest advice from our financial analyst brought to you by The Now-or-Never Wealth Management Firm… because you can never be sure what the future will bring.
Terra Arachna. 2.
105.7 FM. Falls City Radio Classics. The spokesperson for the Falls City General Hospital reports an unusual and alarming increase of poison cases due to an unknown spider the size of a fist with bright orange spiral-like markings on its back. The authorities are calling it the hell-back spider and advise you to stay at least two meters away from the spider should you come in contact with one. Federal officials say they are trying to cope with this situation and are still trying to determine if this is in fact a terrorist attack or another phenomenon known as ‘Spontaneous Evolution’ in which new species suddenly appear without any plausible scientific explanation. Other theories suggest a government experiment gone wrong as in the case of the weaponized ticks carrying the human-made Lyme disease variant that escaped from a classified biological warfare laboratory on Apricot Island. The situation seems to be reaching emergency proportions as more and more districts lose power. The city’s coroner’s office says dozens of corpses now reveal the poison from the hell-back spider to be slow and lethal as boils and puss slowly cover the body. There also seem to be indications that some victims go on murderous rampages induced by fever, overactive adrenal glands and what can only be described as a complete loss of sanity. Infected individuals are to be handled with extreme caution until the boils cover the entire body and movement becomes practically impossible. A representative of the Falls City Power Company says they are actively trying to fix the generators to restore electricity but a strange black fog is slowing down repair crews. Anonymous workers at the company are saying on social media that they are hearing strange sounds coming from the fog and believe it may somehow be linked to the spiders. One report claims a worker’s body burst open with spiders after she inhaled the fog. Another report says that before the initial attacks, carcasses of deer were found with thousands if not millions of spiders crawling out of them. I should repeat that… There is a fog and it seems to be carrying microscopic eggs that require a biological host… We advise people to stay calm and take extreme caution if they come in contact with the fog or a hell-back spider. We’ll get back to you with further developments. In the meantime back to Money-Bake brought to you by The Now-or-Never Management Firm… because today’s tragedy is tomorrow’s golden opportunity.
Terra Arachna. 3.
105.7 FM. Falls City Radio Classics. We are back in the Falls City newsroom. For those of you just tuning in there is a strange disturbance in the area. Spiders of unknown origin of all shapes and sizes seem to be advancing toward residential areas, but authorities are asking everyone to remain calm and that the military is on its way to contain the anomaly. There are reports of similar phenomena in other countries and cities around the world but they have yet to be confirmed. And now we are trying to get whatever information we possibly can to keep you up to speed. And wait… this… this is just in… we have news that a group of teens have barricaded themselves in an abandoned cannery by the docks and are live-streaming attacks from what are clearly spiders the size of dogs. Two of the teens are the sons of our producer Sabrina Malkas. Sabrina’s desperately trying to get in touch with her sons Elias and Elan but can’t… she seems to recognize their friends… Casey… Ariella… Olivia and… she believes… Nina… It seems as though Casey may have inhaled the fog we heard about earlier and is complaining about headaches and nausea… and things crawling under her skin... we’re currently trying to connect to their audio feed to get a better sense of what’s happening out there. Please stand by.
Terra Arachna. 4.
105.7 FM. Falls City Radio Classics. As of 8 PM, August 7, martial law has been declared. The military will be in charge of security and civil affairs. The military has confirmed a biological attack of an unspecified origin. Spiders that defy classification have attacked our towns, our city, our country. Stay home. Barricade your doors and await further instructions. These spiders are real, and they are deadly. The government will keep you safe and we are doing our best to stop the—
Ladies and gentlemen we seem to have lost our connection to the White House. But wait… my producer is telling me we have more from the teens barricaded in the old cannery. Elan and Elias confirm Olivia was bitten by a hell-back and has been locked in a room before she becomes a danger to everyone else. The live-feed shows that Casey is swelling all over her body especially in her neck where tiny things seem to be moving under the skin. Nina is missing and what we understand… what we are reading in the comments is… she was pulled outside by a spider and dragged away. Wait… Sabrina tells me that her sons are preparing to go out there to find her. We may be able to connect… hold on… Elan… do you hear me… what’s it like out there… Elan…
Terra Arachna. 5.
105.7 FM. Falls City Radio Classics. I followed my brother Elias onto the docks where the spiders had taken our friend. We had cans of paint and a lighter as a weapon… but I don’t know what the hell these things are… but they don’t seem possible… like they were sent by Mother Nature herself to stop us from… I don’t know… doing all the damage to the world we’re doing… anyway… we didn’t find her and when we returned back to the cannery… thousands of spiders had burst out of Casey’s body and were… eating what was left… and we set them on fire and then put’em out… we’re still here… but we can’t stay for long… these things… they’re from hell or I don’t know… someplace darker… if there is such a place…
We seem to have lost Elan and his brother. We can only hope and pray for their safety. And now… now we are getting reports of chaos and panic in the city. A mother and her daughter were trampled to death at the grocery store when hundreds rushed the entrance for bottled water and other supplies. We’d like to remind our listening audience to stay at home and let the government handle the situation to avoid further tragedy… wait… what was that… I’m hearing… is that hissing… do you hear it… shit…
- This video is unlocked after completing all Master Challenges associated with this Memory/Log entry
- Main article: Yellow Glyphs
- Tome 8 - Deliverance introduced Yellow Glyph challenges.
Upon selecting the Glyph Graduate challenge a Yellow Glyph will spawn in the Trial Grounds and needs to be communed with to gain Challenge progression.
- While communing with a Yellow Glyph, the Glyph will trigger several Skill Checks in quick succession, testing one's skill and focus.
Failing a Skill Check will relocate the Glyph to a different part of the Trial Grounds.
- While communing with a Yellow Glyph, the Glyph will trigger several Skill Checks in quick succession, testing one's skill and focus.
- "Terra Arachna" translates to "Spider Earth" or "Earth of Arachnids".