Overall, I believe that our little interrogation session might have gone better.
Once again, I am left without any idea as to how much memory I have lost. I can only tell you what I still remember, and hope that it is enough. Fortunately, it seems that Aqualung failed to erase my transcript of the interrogation itself (though it is, of course, possible that it claimed pieces of it and has left me only with those pieces that survived), so I can still give you that, at least.
I still remember the drive to Miss Waterman's promised safe house. Or, at the very least, pieces of it. Miss Waterman acted even more tense than usual following her announcement of her intention to escort us there. Phillip and James did not seem to have so much as an inkling as to why this might be the case. They did, however, join me in questioning Miss Waterman as to why she had failed to reveal the existence of such safe houses on any prior occasion.
The only answer that she was willing to give was "There wasn't any reason to tell you, and if you knew about them someone else could have gotten it out of you." Which is fair enough, I suppose, though none of us could come up with any reason for her to be so apprehensive at the prospect of putting her safe house to use.
The house itself was run-down and, by all appearances, had lain abandoned for some time. You will have to forgive me for omitting details as to its precise location, as I am not entirely sure whether or not those same details would give away our position; I have no idea where we are presently located, or whether or not we are anywhere near the house.
In any case, the house was empty when we approached, and well off the beaten path. Despite the decrepit countenance which the old building sported, its locks were still fully-functional. Fortunately, Miss Waterman knew where the key could be found, and we were able to enter without any trouble, save that Thaddeus struggled in Phillip's grip somewhat as he was being escorted from the rear of our vehicle to the house. Phillip is several inches taller than our former prisoner, however, and a great deal heavier. And, to add to that, Phillip did not have both arms secured behind his back and had not spent the past day or so bound and gagged in the back of a van.
The inside of the house was as decayed and crumbling as its outer facade. Miss Waterman explained that she had been preparing for just such a contingency, in which we were required to extract some information from a less-than-willing subject. Unsavory, I suppose, but I can hardly blame her for thinking of it after all the time that she has spent living like this.
Still, actually seeing the lengths to which she had gone to prepare was unsettling, to say the least. The basement of the house was protected by a heavy wooden door which had been outfitted with several large, heavy padlocks and chains, and was at least partially soundproofed by merit of having a mattress essentially nailed over its opposite side. The basement itself was largely empty, save for a chair which was bolted to the floor, which we secured Thaddeus to.
The following is the transcript of our interrogation session. James typed it out, having woken up after being wounded in our efforts to apprehend the very man that we now were holding prisoner. He did not feel up to much else.
C: Okay, I'm not really in the mood to fuck around here.
T: Yeah, I guessed that on account of being handcuffed to a chair that's bolted to the floor in the basement of an abandoned house that's got the door sou
C hits T in the hand with a baseball bat. No flinch.
T: Right. No talking except when you
Again, followed by a few seconds of silence. Still no flinch. Just staring.
C: Better. You wanna do the asking, LB, or me?
LB: I think that I will, thank you.
C: Just tell me when you want me to hit him.
P: Or me.
LB: Thank you, Phillip, but I think that you should stay well back. If he manages to work his way free, you have my permission to fire at will no matter his proximity to myself. Now. Mister River.
T: That's me.
LB: Yes, I know. That was not a question, and I would caution you to refrain from flippancy. Miss Waterman has already broken four of your right-hand fingers, unless you have suddenly developed the ability to cause your knuckles to bed backwards, and there are many more bones in that hand alone that she could go for next. I am not in the mood to stop her. I might even make some suggestions.
T: Right. So are you going to ask me any questions, or not?
Christie goes for the thumb this time. Still no flinch.
T: Worth it.
Same hand, no reaction.
LB: Are you quite finished, Mister River?
T: That depends. Am I allowed to answer that question?
LB stops C this time.
LB: Yes. But, agai
T: Refrain from flippancy, right. Yeah. Whatever. I just want to say that if you're going to call me anything, you call me "Thaddeus". "Mister River" is my father.
LB: Noted. Now, Mister River, I am sure that we do not have to explain to you why we have sought you out.
T: You call walking into the place that I basically set up to get myself captured in "seeking me out"? Or soughting me out, or whatever.
LB: You wanted us to capture you?
T: How else was I going to get you to talk to me?
LB: You want us to talk to you?
T: I said that in the email. You even posted it on the same blog I bet Jay's going to end up putting this transcript on, assuming he doesn't die first.
LB: If you think that you have managed to wound him badly enough to kill him, you are sorely mistaken.
T: Oh, so you found the cure?
Phil here. J's got my gun now. He wants to be the one to shoot Thaddeus when this is over.
It's been about ten minutes. About nine of those've been Christie beating the hell out of Thaddeus, trying to get him to tell us more. His right arm is completely destroyed. I'd be surprised if the bones aren't completely powder now. And J managed to knock out a few of the bastard's teeth. He still hasn't flinched.
C: What the fuck is wrong with you?
T: You mean other than being completely insane by any of your standards? I don't feel pain. Not anymore. You can't torture me, so you're really only just getting yourselves tired.
C: Maybe you can't feel pain, but you can sure as hell be crippled.
T: Whatever makes you feel better.
LB: I think that is enough, Miss Waterman.
J: The fuck it is. What did he do to me?
T: I opened your eyes.
J: What does that mean? Tell me or I swear I'll shoot you right now.
LB: No, James, you will not. We still have other things that we have to learn from him.
T: Don't have to anyway. I'll tell you. I gave you the same thing they gave me.
Christie and James are talking over each other. Crystie wants to know why he didn't tell us that from the beginning, why he let us beat the shit out of him. James wants to know what the hell that is.
LB's just watching. He's looking like he really wants to hit T as well th
T: The Eleventh Plague. That's what it is. It'll open your eyes. It'll send you to the Archangel, and when it does, you'll be weighed in the balance. And if you aren't found wanting, you'll be able to see. Just like me. There's no cure. That's why I didn't tell you before, Waterman. You were demanding a cure, and there isn't one. There's no cure for knowing.
C: That's bullsh
T: Also I thought it was funny to watch you become just like them. In the same room, even. Puppets and pets. You hate them so much and yet you're doing exactly what they did, only worse, because you intend to actually kill me when it's over. You're not just as bad as they are. You're worse.
Phil again. Christie and James are upstairs now. It's just me and LB and Thaddeus down here. Christie broke both of Thaddeus' legs and knocked out a couple more teeth before I stopped her. It's hard to understand what Thaddeus is saying now with all the blood in his mouth.
T: So you two are the sensible ones. Kind of expected the one who's almost cold already to be one of the ones who kept his head.
LB: Sensible I might be, Mister River, but you are pushing the boundaries of even what I am willing to let slide.
T: After all this, do you really think I care?
LB: No. But I do know that you have a message that you wish to impart to us before I shoot you.
LB: So tell me. What is it that you want with us? What does the Epping AquaTarkus want?
T: The same thing it always wants. It wants to live.
LB: Being cryptic and mysterious will only serve to
T: I'm not being cryptic. That's it. That's what EAT wants. It wants to live, because that's what it is. EAT is life incarnate. It exists to live and evolve and grow. Only even that's not accurate, because the word "life" doesn't mean what you think it means, because our entire language is wrong here.
LB: And yet you claim to understand.
T: I do understand. I embraced the Archangel and I saw the musicians playing and I heard the silence howling. I saw. You haven't seen all that I have. I can explain parts of it to you, but the only way you could ever really understand it all is to be like I am. You'd have to embrace the Archangel.
LB: You have not died.
T: Didn't say I had.
LB: Yes, you did.
T: No. You thought I did. That's what I've been talking about. You haven't seen. You're looking at everything wrong. You think you understand. None of you ever did. You don't know what it means to embrace the Archangel. Not really. Here's a hint: it doesn't mean "die".
LB: Then explain. What does it mean?
T: That's something you can't understand. Jay will. Soon.
LB: Then what can you tell us, Mister River? Or are you just wasting our time?
T: I can start to explain. I can tell you enough that you know what you have to do.
LB: Then do it, Mister River, and stop dancing around the point.
T: I've already started. EAT wants to live. But you don't understand what that means, because you don't know what life is. You think it's... plants and people and animals and things. It's not. We're not alive. You know what we are, Sullivan? We're a handful of chemicals. There's nothing magical about us. There's no such thing as a soul, or karma, or reincarnation. There's no Jesus up there in Heaven looking down on us and watching out for us. There's no Satan trying to tempt us into lives of sin, because no one cares about us. No one cares about a few atoms arranged into self-replicating patterns. You know what is alive? Them. The Fears. They're alive, but even that's wrong because "alive" implies that you can kill them. You can't. Our entire concept of what the word "life" means gets in the way, and you'd better believe that's deliberate.
LB: A fascinating thesis, Mister River, but it is total bunk. These beings do care about us. That is the entire point of the Grand Game.
T: Do you care about a rock if you pick it up and skip it across the water? Didn't think so. The Grand Game has never been about us, any more than Risk is about individual pieces. We're not important. They play the game - and that's still not an accurate word - with each other, Sullivan, not us. They don't give a shit about us except in terms of how we affect their game.
LB: You are still speaking nonsense. EAT itself
T: Took a personal interest in you, yeah. Because you've seen even more than what I've seen. You've heard the silence howling.
T: The Quiet claims us all. Except you, apparently.
T: You don't remember, of course. You can't. That's not how it works. Because the Blind Man - The Quiet - isn't like the rest of them. EAT is life. EAT can't ever really be destroyed, because EAT is the soul of the game. The Archangel isn't just the afterlife, because there's no part of us that goes to the afterlife. The Archangel is the Game. Only that's still wrong, because these words don't hold up. The Archangel is the game, but the Archangel is also one of the players, and the game would go on without it, with the others still playing. The Choir is the rules, or the one who wrote the rules, except that there aren't any rules. All the rest of them have a place. But The Quiet is outside. It isn't like the rest. It's bleeding in at the edges, but it's always been there. And because it's always been there, things have always been different, only they can't be. EAT is its antithesis. EAT is life and birth and creation. The Blind Man is utter destruction. And The Archangel is order and control and domination, absolute dominion incarnate. You can't just
LB: You are babbling, Mister River. Slow down and speak sense.
T: You saw the message, Sullivan. And in the Garden the Archangel, sword above his head.
LB: Yes, I saw it. What does it mean?
T: You've been looking at it wrong this entire time. The message means exactly what it says. You haven't been asking the right question.
LB: Then what is the right question?
T: Whose sword is it?
LB: Do you know?
T: Of course.
LB: Are you going to tell me?
T: You know. You heard the silence howling. Now you have to catch the angels.
LB: EAT wants me to defend the Archangel?
T: No. EAT wants to claim you again. But it can't. None of them can. Did you really think you'd been in your archives the entire time, with the avatar of the Quiet just feet away, and it hadn't tried to take you? It couldn't. And did you really think that EAT had taken your family and not tried to take you? It couldn't. The Cold Boy couldn't. None of them can touch you now, because things have gone wrong. None of them could ever touch you, except before. And even then, they couldn't. Even your concept of time gets in the way.
LB: EAT has never claimed me.
T: No, it hasn't.
LB: Then what are you talking about?
T: Simple. EAT couldn't claim you because it already did. Because you're alive. Because you're Indisen.
And this is where the transcript ends, because, at this point, we heard a shout from upstairs. This is where my memory begins to fail, as well. I remember Phillip and myself rushing upstairs, with Thaddeus shouting for us to come back and that he had more information to impart to us. I remember that every piece of glass in the house had the words of the message scratched into them. I remember firing my shotgun at something, and the deafening, all-devouring, soundless scream of Aqualung.
And then, quite suddenly, I was here. In a motel room with Phillip and James both unconscious on the beds, Phillip's stomach heavily bandaged. There is no sign of Thaddeus or Miss Waterman, but as I can remember them both, I can only assume that Aqualung has not taken them.
I have a good deal of thinking to do, and I must investigate our surroundings. The mirror is uncovered, but there is no message this time. I am left alone with even more questions than when I began.