Same shit. Different day. I know neither Jake nor I ever said this to each other. And I know he was pretty much on cloud nine after finding Ostium. After he got to go through doors and visit other worlds. But there were times when things just dragged. Like molasses. Where we felt lost and kinda helpless. Where it took going through another door to see if there might be any answers. And there weren’t. Those days Ostium felt like a bitch. Even Jake would admit this. If he was still alive.
And now . . .
I think every day is going to feel like this. Worse. Because I can’t go through any of those doors. I’m just fucked. Pure and simple. And I’ve got fuck all else to do but drink tea and pour out my fucking sorry soul.
So where did we leave off?
I went through the stages of imprisonment. I knew I was trapped, but I wasn’t gonna accept it. I tried opening that failsafe door like five more times. Each time their were screams. Each time it fucking terrified me. Each time I slammed it shut and ran back to the clock tower. I tried the front gate. Opened it up and stepped outside. I had no fucking clue where I was. Or when I was. It could be Planet Earth, or the other side of the fucking galaxy. The ass-end of the universe. But, you know, it just happened to look like Earth. Outside the gate were trees and shrubberies and a dirt road and everything that said normal. One time I started walking. A good thirty minutes. Nothing changed. Until I got to the sign. You know the one. The one Jake found playing that game. Says OSTIUM. And the elevation, whatever it is. And the population zero. That was fucking . . . Humbling. It made it all hit home. Pushed me to the next stage.
So I came back. Closed the gate. Found this gnarly hexagonal padlock to lock the gate with. Just in case anyone or anything showed up outside and wanted to come in . . . And I didn’t want it to come in. And I yelled at everything for like an hour. Cussing and screaming and spitting. Kept going till my voice just stopped working and I was hoarse, my throat raw and dry. Tea obviously helped. And rest.
Then I thought maybe Ostium and I could make a deal. Or had made a deal. Maybe someone at some point had added a fail-safe to the fail-safe. I knew there was a bit fat one on the clock tower door. So I went looking for door number two. Used that handy dandy wood map carving. Don’t know where the fuck that came from. It was never in any of the blueprints I saw. And I certainly didn’t have any inkling of it. But it was sure fucking useful. Found door two. Took a breath and tried to open it. It did open and there were the screams again. Fuck no! I went to door three after that. Wouldn’t open. Wouldn’t budge a fraction of a centimeter. Tired doors four through ten. No fucking luck.
I regressed to anger again for a while. Sure made me feel fucking better, I tell ya.
And that’s when I got a real bad case of mopes. I was moping all over the floor and the walls. It was fucking ugly. Uuuuugly. Stopped eating. Got fucking starving. So I ate. Stopped drinking tea. Really missed it. So I started again. I don’t know how long I spent in that dark fucking period, but I did come out of it.
And the next day I was just okay. Okay with Ostium. Okay with my predicament. I wanted to make myself feel good. Work on some positives. So I made some great food. The perfect cup of tea. I wondered what else I could do . . . And then had a real dirty idea.
That might’ve been the best orgasm I’ve ever had. Well, from one woman to another, “orgasm” singular isn’t really correct. Am I right? That’s as far as I’m going. It was fucking great.
After I regained my . . . Self and awareness . . . I took a walk around Ostium. Going up and down the streets. It was another sunny day. Very enjoyable.
And that’s when fucking serendipity struck.
That’s when I heard a car arriving outside the gate.
I was never in the military. Let’s make that clear. Right. Fucking. Now. All that jargon and shit was all a smokescreen. A good one, I might add. Jake bought it hook, line and sinker . . . And you know what. I just got what that expression means. That’s pretty damn funny. And exact! However: when you become a viable and valid member of the Ostium Network, you don’t just get to waltz in and do your thang. That’s training. It’s mandatory. And it’s rigorous. And I went through whole fucking thing. AND scored really well. Like one of the best in decades. So while the military stuff was all smoke and mirrors, I was also pulling from a wealth of similar experience.
So when I heard that car, I reacted on instinct. I wasn’t at the gate, but I was close by. I moved into position with light footsteps. Imagined myself as a ballerina. It actually does help. And totally fucking works. I was by the left side of the gate, behind part of the wall. Hidden from anything or anyone looking in from outside. But with how I was peeking, I could see when needed.
The old Volkswagen Beetle was a vehicle I would soon become very familiar with. I watched the man I would eventually learn was named Jake Fisher get out and walk up to the gates. His face was awestruck. He looked kinda tired. He’d be driving for a long time. Probably drank a ton of coffee. This was before his high tea times after all. But he also looked so excited. Like that other old saying: a goddamn kid in a goddamn candy store. I might be paraphrasing a bit. He looked at the lock on the gate, cute frown line forming on his forehead.
Yep, hexagonal was kinda weird. But it was decided ubiquitous shape for the Ostium Network. Something to do with symmetry and balance and bunch of month that don’t mean shit to me. But not obsessive. Not like fucking Battlestar Galactica with the stupid octagonal paper. What the fuck was that about? Oh, and I’ll get to my background eventually, and why I know weird shit like that fact about BSG.
And then Jake got back in his car, turned around, and left. But I knew right then he’d be back. Probably the following day. That look in his eyes. He could barely keep himself away. It he’d had the supplies, he probably would’ve slept the night in his car.
So I went back to the clock tower and did some thinking. Everything had changed now. And now I knew some things. Complete change to a few days ago when it seem like it was the end of the everything. I knew Ostium – this fabricated town I’d helped invent and create – was somewhere, but as I said before, it could’ve been anywhere. It could’ve been somewhere where there were no people and I that would’ve been the end of it for me. But seeing Jake made it better. So much better. It gave me something I hadn’t had at almost any moment I’d been here: hope. He was human. He was normal looking. He breathed oxygen. Plus he was cute to boot. So a lot of check marks in the win column there. What it would me for me and for Ostium once Jake go inside, I had no clue. For all I knew, he could come in and hit the exact same roadblocks I did. Discover the not-at-all fun of the banshee doors. But even if that were the case, I now had an out. An escape. I wasn’t fucking trapped here. Even if I was stuck in the . . . 1940s for example. It would bad. Really fucking bad. I’ve read the history. As a black woman, I don’t like to even try to think about it. But still. It would be something. Something not Ostium. Though, with what Jake was wearing, I wasn’t thinking 1940s for a second. But you get the point.
I realized I had to let him in. Give him and chance and see what he’d get up to. So that night I took the lock off the gate. I also thought about whether I’d need the gun at all.
The next day Jake stepped into Ostium for the first time. I didn’t feel anything change or seem like it was different. But at some fundamental level, something must’ve happened . . . Right? Because this was the Jake who’s had a connection to every door we’ve ever been through in Ostium. There must’ve been something going on. But from my perspective, with my experience of Ostium, I noticed absolutely nothing.
I was ready for him. Just as I was yesterday, day one, and have been ever since. Except for that last meeting. When the other him surprised me. Didn’t see that one coming. But . . . As the man of the hour would say: I’m getting way ahead of myself.
I was ready when he pulled up outside. The lock was off the gate and everything else was set. He’d have no problem getting in. I needed him to get in. Didn’t want him having problems, getting back in his car, and going all the way home.
I jogged back to the clock tower and went into the bathroom. I crouched down and drew a circle on a tile behind the sink. The tile popped out of the wall revealing the hidden space. I retrieved the gun and put the tile back where it was. This had also been my idea. I didn’t know I’d be using this hidey hole for a gun, I just knew there needed to be one in the clock tower. Thank you past me for thinking of this, because future me was going to need this place to hide the gun and a certain pair of “special” gloves from future Jake when necessary.
Then I waited. I’d closed the bedroom door. The bathroom door was open and that’s where I was waiting. If he came this far, I was going to need to subdue him. But something told me I’d be okay. My first unwarranted insight into Jake’s character based on absolutely nothing . . . That just turned out to be completely correct.
I heard murmurings once he was inside. Couldn’t make out what he was saying. Guess he was deciding what to do. What door to go with. That was when things got tense. When I held my breath. Then I heard him leave. I didn’t waste time. Quickly following. Stealth was my middle name as I quietly pursued. Followed him all the way to door number two. Then I hung back and just watched. He was gutsy. Real gutsy. The way he opened that door, sucked in his breath, and stepped through.
It also blew my fucking mind.
Here I was. Fucking trapped! Tired a whole bunch of doors, including this exact one, with no luck. And here strolls in Mr. Nobody and opens any old door like his hand’s a fucking skeleton key. I held back as long as I could. So like, all of five seconds. I was careful. Real careful. Peeked into the doorway and saw him standing there looking away. As soon as he started to turn around, I ducked back, counted to twenty, then slowly inched back. I watched him walk all the way to the wall of wood. He looked at a big tree. Then walked inside the little town on the island I would eventually learn was Roanoke.
That whole story about me going through the door and finding the little wooden figurine that became my “talisman” and kinda saved my ass . . . Yeah . . . That was all bullshit. Made it up to pacify Jake. Make him believe my side of the story and all that. Make him believe we were on the same team. At that point and for a while after that we were. Not really sure when that changed, but it did.
As for the Mary Celeste. That part was all true. Except he went through first and I followed him. Not the other way round. But he did close it behind him. And it did totally scare the crap out of me. But I got out of that one. Barely. With each monumental leap Jake took in Ostium, I was just one leap behind him. Learning with him. Experiencing what he was.
Mars was the same story. Snuck in behind Jake and when on my own scenic trip. Got close to where Jake was and that’s when I decided to leave the audible breadcrumbs. This time I got to slam the door in his face. Got the upper hand. Felt damn good.
That’s when I came up with my whole fabricated background. With the military and all that jazz. As for that infrared map thingy . . . I don’t know what the fuck that was, where it came from . . . I’ve still got the ability now. The lot of good it does me. Was it some sort of buried code within the mainframe that I was never told about? Yeah, I don’t know if my bullshit jargon is right there, but you get the picture.
I figured they’d send in some people to come look for me. I hoped they would at least. Not that many. That was . . . Pretty damn surprising. I didn’t even know if they could send people through anymore. It just never occurred to me for some reason. Like there was a mental block. Maybe I just thought because I couldn’t get back they’d somehow know this back at the Ostium Network and wouldn’t risk sending anyone else in. But they did. A whole fucking bunch. And yet we got through with it. I used my technical know-how, what I knew about Ostium and the way it worked, both as one who was involved in its creation, and one who has experienced it first hand. And it worked. I thought it would. I didn’t know it would. If those bullets had gone through the door, Jake would’ve been torn to ribbons. Blood everywhere. But that didn’t happen.
Then they went away. Where did they go? Back to the Ostium Network? Nope. We know for a fact that’s not fucking possible. So I had theories. Of course. I’m guessing they went out the front gate. They to have, otherwise we would’ve found them sooner. Somewhere in Ostium. Maybe they checked the fail-safe door, if they knew about it. Maybe they didn’t know about it. In which case they went they opened that gate expecting to set foot back in the Inception Chamber. Boy did they get a rude awakening. As fucking rude as I did. And here’s where I start conjecturing: they went walking down the road. For a long time. Hoping to find something; anything. Remember: they never heard us. In their mind, Ostium was empty. The doors didn’t open. It was a complete dead end. They went down that road for a long time. Into the dark of night. Not knowing what they’d find. Nothing. That’s all they could find. At some point Sergeant Harris would’ve gotten the blunt fucking hint, turned around and headed back. They couldn’t just keep walking down the road, hoping, wishing for something. Thank god they didn’t have a mode of transportation. If they had they would’ve found a whole world waiting for them. Don’t like to venture down that path. Don’t like to think about all that. Them’s dark and dangerous thoughts. So they came back to Ostium, because it was something they knew; something concrete.
That’s how I knew – without a fucking doubt – they’d be back. And I made sure I was ready for them. It worked out Jake wasn’t around. Pretty fucking fortuitous. I gotta say. And I guess they never found or tried door number two. It does make sense. There are a lot of fucking doors in Ostium. I led them to it. I led them through. There was no hesitation on their part. It was a way out. An escape. They weren’t going to waste time wondering. Closing the door behind them . . . Sealing them in that part of Ostium was . . . Easy.
I didn’t kill those men. I didn’t send them in there to die. If you want to blame someone, blame the asshole who sent them into Ostium to get Steve and I. Their fate was sealed once they stepped through. The big wigs at the Ostium Network should’ve known that. They should’ve known better.
[Anguish] They . . . Should’ve . . . Fucking . . . Known . . . Better.
I’ve gotten the message loud and fucking clear from Jake. He feels I was more to blame. For what I did. For what happened to them. But I don’t . . . I don’t accept that. I won’t accept that. They made many wrong choices along the way. Them and their superiors. How many fucking door have Jake and I gone through? How many times have we fucking died? Yeah. It’s come close. But we’ve survived. Those men were trained for the extreme. If they couldn’t hack it, the never deserved to be in the positions they were in.
I still don’t fucking know how any of them died. The ones we found. Just lying there. Not a mark or scratch on them. You know. Not that I think of them. The way they were. Lying there. Yeah. I can’t believe I never fucking thought of it before . . . I think I know what fucking killed them. A beam. A beam from that puny little gone I’ve got. It has a setting. One shot. One zap. One kill. All it takes is one beam. That’s quite possibly what did. Holy shit. I can’t believe it never occurred to me. Until now.
See, these recordings are helpful.
But who shot them? Me? What? Fucking how? Did I do it in my sleep? In some crazy unconscious state? Mosied on through those doors of Ostium, found them, shot them, then came back, and went back to bed. Plus: I had to get the gun from hidey hole and put it back. All without Jake noticing.
Yeah. Not fucking possible. I’m off the hook there, at least.
So who else? Jake? Don’t need to waste any time on that thought.
So it’s gotta be someone else? On the other side of Ostium? The other side of those doors? Now that’s fucking scary. It’s downright chilling. One person comes to mind. Steve? Who else could it be? But that would mean he’s alive then. Alive and fucking killing people. Okay. But alive. That’s the important part.
I gave door four another try because of what happened. Because I sent those men through. Because I knew we had to go back to Mars. To get the trinket, or talisman, or whatever the fuck it is. I thought maybe it might’ve gotten reset in some way, or fixed maybe? Perhaps I could get through a door now on my own. If I could do that, then there was a chance I could get out of here and back home. Even if home wasn’t exactly welcoming anymore. So I tried. And I failed.
This seems as good a place as any to talk about those items we brought back from those places in time.
I know. What the fuck?
None of this stuff was in the original planning. Again, there’s a small chance this was all done without my know how. But it’s un-fucking-likely. The map table was part of the setup with Ostium. We knew the doors were the key. The links to different places in time. We knew the numbers were probably important, at least from a organizational standpoint. Therefore the map table was needed, and it needed to be solid. Permanent. So we made it a wooden carving. But all the stuff about bringing an item, a trinket back from those places and putting them on the numbers and the light shows and all that. Fuck, man. That was just some crazy shit.
It’s like there’s the Ostium we made, we created. Then there’s this other one that came into existence. A part of it is the one we made. Most of it is something else. Something foreign. Something alien. And something that Jake is tied to . . . Something Jake was tied to. Don’t know why. Can’t explain it. It just . . . Is.
The way he would just know. Jake. About the place. And how to get us the fuck out. When the shit was hitting the fan. When the end was near and imminent. Like on Avalon. Going onto that goddamn boat and through that little door. How the fuck? It’s like Jake made Ostium his. Part of him. Some-fucking-how.
But if so . . . What now?
The earthquake really fucked with me. I’ve never been in one before. You could probably tell that. But what it did to Ostium. No one. Not a single one of the hundreds of people involved in the creation of Ostium could’ve ever predicted that in a quadrillion years. I certainly didn’t. The door under the bed was a lucking fucking guess. I know I checked there before. A number of times. Never saw anything under there except bare solid floor. Except this time. This time there was a fucking door. And Jake knew what to do. Where to go. And ultimately knew where we were.
Man, that was a fucking trip. Him coming back to where he used to work. And then . . . Seeing those fucking clones. I know he took it worse, but I was just barely fucking holding it together. I did have a few thoughts. After. Long after. After I processed it all. Sort of. I’m . . . No, I’m not going to talk about them now. I’m just not ready to divulge . . . That. Maybe at some point . . . In the future. We’ll see.
Okay. That’s all for now.
I need a fucking break.