Chapter 6:



Elaine wasn’t having it.

As I sit in this palace of deja vu early in the morning, my head still aches and my vision is waning. My teacher is lecturing about some event, but it’s silent to me. Dylan’s probably saying something next to me, but I can’t hear him either. My brain has other ideas.

“Row, row, row your boat, gently down the stream…” the fading face of my old preschool teacher sings, her voice cracking as other shadows pop in.

I’d snagged my earbuds out of my locker. I tried playing Coakira over the noise, but it only made it worse. I tried actually paying attention to the teacher, but that’s a lost cause, too. All the sounds in the world are fading out, helpless under the pounding weight of my infinitely expanding memories, set to the tune of the “Song of Unhealing” from fucking Ben Drowned, which has, inexplicably, arrived out of my brain canals to be stuck on the center of my thoughts as they invade me in this moment.

“You’re gross.”

“I’m sorry. Here’s your toy.”

“I'm gonna tell everybody.”

“…Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily, life is but a dream.”

I am caught in the nightmare of Hideaki Anno. Ensnared in a minefield of things I’d rather forget, things I’ve done as well as things that have happened to me.

I actually have a very good memory, after all. It’s just that I do all I can to forget things that don’t matter. I guess I really ought not to do that. I mean, like it or not, those past events are what made the girl I am today. That said, they’ll always be with me whether I try to forget them or not, so I really shouldn’t be so worried.

“Molly.” Dylan finally gets through to me. I don’t know what he could possibly have to say this late into the year. I turn to him, ready to listen to him talk about whatever dream he had last night or something.

“Do you have an opinion on any of this?”

“No.” I answer automatically, like I’ve been listening. I’m sure I’d say the same if I was.

“That’s what I thought… but like, I dunno. I might go.”

“Oh, yeah?”

“Well… it’s coming up so fast. To be honest… I thought I’d never go to Prom. But like… I might as well, right? If I’m really being honest with myself… I wanna go.”

So that’s what the teacher was talking about. I’m worried Dill might be losing it at this point. I try snapping him back to reality.

“With who?”

“Yeah… fair point. But uh, maybe I could find someone there. I hear stuff like that happens a lot.”

“Who told you that?”


“Do whatever you want to do.” I say, knowing I’m deliberately discouraging him by doing so.

Homeroom lets out. Walking down these hallways never gets new. I feel like an old train on older train tracks, but I don’t carry any passengers or anything. Just a million pounds of coal I can never drop off. My backpack makes my shoulders hurt because I almost never put it in my locker. All year they’ve told me to put it away because it’s dangerous to have a kid walking around with something they could hide a gun in. But since I’m not a boy, they never do anything about it. Statistically, I wouldn’t commit a shooting. I dunno why I carry around my backpack anyway. I think I just like to see if they’ll ever stop me.

Today I try not to think about what the subject of my first class is. I try not to think about anyone in there. I try not to think about myself either, but that’s a total joke of an idea. Two seconds past the bell and remembering how I used to have political opinions I now strongly oppose and how Huey always told me I loved playing baseball as a little kid but I can never remember picking up a bat.

I feel my phone buzz inside my backpack after setting it on my lap to cradle like a baby. Fuck it, I’ve never taken it out in class before. I’ll do it right now. And if… if I get in trouble, at least that’ll be something interesting… maybe.

I take it out. I’ve got two messages from Debby. Lucky me.

I unlock my phone to read them.

Today 7:11 (Deb)

gormage killed himswlf

Today 7:11 (Deb)


I put my phone back in my bag, suddenly deathly afraid that someone will catch me and I’ll get in trouble. And now, out of nowhere, my memories are getting worse. Why does it hurt so much to remember the first time I pet a cat? Why does my stomach churn when I think of that day Dylan got me a weirdly flattering dress for my birthday? And why’s all I remember about second grade how I told that one kid named Josh one day that my dad owned an oil rig? Why am I thinking so much? Why is the clock moving so fast?

Why am I in the hallway all of a sudden?

Dylan? Is that Dylan, standing in front of me?

“Molly? Uh… why are you crying?”

I blink at him. Then I grab his hand and take him to the quiet hallway. Only then do I realize I am crying.

“Molly? Molly, what is it?”

Why is he so damn sensitive…?

“I, I…” I sob.

Why am I so fucking incompetent?

“Molly, it’s okay. Just tell me what’s wrong.” He even puts his fucking hand on my shoulder.

“He died…” I start, that not being what I wanted to get across, my sentence cut off by the fire welling up in my brain. No! That’s not what I mean! What- What the fuck is wrong with me? Why is Dylan here? Why am I here? Why are any of us here? I suck up my snot, and then, and only then, can I let it out:

“He died… thinking I liked Sonic...”

The worst thing ever happens as soon as I get home.

“Molly.” Her voice calls out just as I’m headed to my room to unpack. “Come here. I want to talk.”

More terrifying words have never been spoken.

But as we sit across from each other at the dining room table, she only talks about herself.

She talks about how she loved Huey or whatever but how he hurt her feelings and wasn’t a good father. She talks about something something fell in love with him wanted to start a family whatever bla bla bla. I can’t hear. I can’t hear her. If she asks me a question, I’m screwed.

Wait a minute.

I’m just in class again. This bitch is giving me an extra block, and I’m at home. Fuck that noise. I want out, now.

She’s still crying, saying, “And it’s not that Huey was… was a bad man, but he-“

“Can I head upstairs for the night?”

“W-what’s that, baby?” She asks. She didn’t hear me either.

“Can I go to bed? You’re boring the hell out of me.”

In my room, I’m listening to a playlist I made. It’s mostly Shoebill, which I got into recently, but there’s also a good amount of Xinlisupreme in there, which I’m getting back into after being a huge fan a few years ago. Oh, and there’s also a few songs from Five Star Hotel, but only because I really liked the song Parallel Deserts and I’m trying to find if they’ve done anything else on that level.

Then I get a text from my mom.

Today 7:26 (Elaine)

I want to apologize

I stare blankly at my phone screen and wait for her to continue over the sound of my noise.

Today 7:26 (Elaine)

Just for something I did a few weeks ago that I felt bad about.

She suddenly managed to get even less relevant. How lovely.

Today 7:26 (Elaine)

It’s a funny something though. Kind of a nice memory, before things all went wrong. I know this is a scary time. Do you want to know what it is I did?

Today 7:27 (Me)


Curiosity… might be all I have left.

Today 7:27 (Elaine)

Huey was telling me I should try pranking you

Today 7:27 (Elaine)

I always felt so far away from you and that idiot thought it would be a good idea to lighten the mood between you and I that way. So I tried really hard to scare you, cause I know you like weird scary stuff like that crazy music and those shows. I was like a little girl

Today 7:28 (Elaine)

I would put you spiders under your bed. I tried putting spooky notes in your lunch and pretending they were written by someone else, but you never noticed

Today 7:28 (Elaine)

Sometimes on the way to school I would take a different route and go by graveyards but you never noticed

Today 7:29 (Elaine)

In hindsight I guess none of that is really that scary to begin with, Im no good at pranks

Today 7:30 (Elaine)

But then I took it too far one day and snuck a little remote recorder into your room behind your bookshelf

Today 7:30 (Elaine)

I had recorded a creepy laugh on it that I got off you tube

Today 7:31 (Elaine)

Like a ghost girl giggle sound effect

Today 7:32 (Elaine)

But not even that got you

Today 7:33 (Elaine)

I know it is lame but thats something I tried doing to get closer to you

Today 7:34 (Elaine)

I’m sorry. And goodnight, baby.





No, no, no, no no no no no

I peek behind my bookshelf, leering down at the small white box.

I pick it up, red in my eyes. I press the small white button.

I hear her again.

“Elopas” giggling.

I immediately fall to my knees. My head hits the shelf on the way down. That makes it better.

That makes it hurt better.

I press it again.


It’s so obvious.

That’s not a real person.

That’s not a living story.

It’s so obviously recorded from a YouTube video.

I press it again.

I cry.

I press it again.

And again

So fucking contrived

And again

This is stupid

And again

And again…

I wish Gormage would have taken me with him.

This is bullshit.

As I lie in bed, nothing has changed.

Nothing ever had.

I convinced myself things would work out. But no wonder I couldn’t summon Elopas.

She was never real to begin with.

That should be such a forgone conclusion but it’s still painful for me to admit. Of course my dream isn’t real. Of course my love isn’t real.

Of course Elopas isn’t real. What kind of maniac would believe something like that?

As I’m trying and failing to sleep in this hell, Deb messages me one last time. My eyes hurt, my head hurts, and my brain hurts, but I can’t help but look at it. I pray and hope it’s something even worse than this, just so I can take my mind off it.

Today 12:12 (Deb)

im so sorry we couldnt talk in person. gormage told me everything before it happened.

Today 12:13 (Deb)

but do you want to know? if you dont want to knoe i wont tell you.

I pick up my phone and angrily finger in the letters to my message.

Today 12:14 (Me)

Fuckn tell me

Today 12:20 (Deb)

okay well heres what he said… i dunno if you knew this but gormage was an addict. he told in me his note all about how he had to try so hard just to feel anything. he was on some drug or another every second of the day. and vr was just an extension of that. he said he wanted to be seen as something above human, like like a character in a game or something.

Today 12:22 (Deb)

he said he was just hoping he would OD one day but it never ever worked so he was going to kill himself with that break chip he showed us one day

Today 12:22 (Deb)

it worked i guess. im so sorry i have to be the one to tell you this.

I want to ask why he did it, but I know better.

I already know why someone like him does it.

Today 12:23 (Deb)

he told me to tell you one thing thoigh

Today 12:23 (Deb)

he told me to tell you to live so you can summon elopas and reach your dream.

I throw the phone off the bed.

None of this feels real….

I wonder what a “biocomputer” even is…





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