The train kept grinding through the night with the rhythmic clatter of the wheels on the tracks. I wonder how many countless millions of people that sound has lulled to sleep... sometimes I wonder if I'll ever sleep again. I pushed so hard to get back to where I was-- where I thought I belonged.
I thought that my work defined me-- in a way it did, but more to the point– I defined it. I called my own shots--- I made my decisions. I fought, I worked, I loved... on my terms. Is that what's bothering me? That these things were beyond my control?
I think its more than that.
I've dealt with accident victims, trauma victims, rape victims, victims of assault, victims of violence... disaster... victims...
Is that what I'm trying to avoid, being labeled a 'victim'? Or is it more... I guess this is what its all about... Defining myself and what happened to me... accepting the fact that my mind was... violated...
I say that and I have this image of a seal-- "No user serviceable parts– breaking this seal voids all warranties either expressed or implied."
You know-- put that way its not nearly as scary or traumatizing as it was. Maybe its not understanding that I really need-- just coming to terms with it.
It... I can't even say things like "The shutdown" or "Deus" or ... or the fact that that thing took over my life-- that its people... people violated my mind... no I label it "it" and hope to distance myself from it.
Am I running away? I don't know-- I know I need to look at... it... at what happened to me and that will always be inside me now-- but perhaps its just a change in perspective I need.
I take out my wallet-- I'll be crossing the border soon. I see the picture of Case and Bri ... and I wonder who that woman is sitting with them. It doesn't even feel like me anymore.
I think that's the real reason to leave. They have images of who I am-- who I was... and those images protect me and yet-- they keep me from reacting. They know how I'm supposed to act and react...and so I follow their lead.
We're crossing into the Tir now... more later.
Okay, before I start let me tell you that there is method to my madness. I knew I had 'friends' here-- that I had people who would take care of me... but I also knew that I would be a stranger here, which is exactly what I need as I start to untangle this mess inside my head.
I need to feel safe enough to... test the boundaries, and yet I'm not held back by their definitions of me. I'm a guest... I'm not family-- not really. I think that's what I need. I'm trying not to feel like I'm using these people... this society-- but... they have what I need right now, and I have to learn to accept that.
I met with the elders, including Ayana's grandmother-- They received me graciously enough-- but it was clear that I was here for a reason and that reason put me into their debt. So much for fanfares and returning heros, but that's really what I needed. After that brief meeting I was taken to a barracks and was given a bed and a uniform. I was told that I would have no responsibilities at this time other than to learn their routine and to not dishonor my hosts.
Got to love the way they put it. After I stowed what little gear I'd brought, I found my way to the gym and started on the heavy bag.
I pummeled the bag until there was nothing, nothing but the bag, my hand, my arm... my muscles-- until even that faded away. Only then did I feel– anything, and of course all I felt was tired muscles and a sore fist.
I heard one of the Ghosts refer to me as ysbrydoedd, haunted, half in this world and half in another. He's right too. I'm half in this world-- lost, but here. The other half is still stuck somewhere between who and what I was and what happened to me in and after the arcologly.
I look at the others around me, hear their muffled laughter and all I want to do is cry. At least here, I can.
I spent the day working out and watching the others. They are Tir Ghosts in training. That alone tells me, that in spite of my reception, that I am indeed honored-- and trusted. It's a humbling experience.
The others don't really talk to me-- after all, I'm just a human.
Still, when one of them fell from a climbing rope, I was first on the scene-- and the first told to mind my own business. It's strange, realizing how ingrained that response is.
I don't know when it became a part of me-- but as far back as I can remember, I had a first aid kit. My first kit was this small tin I'd gotten. It had candy in it-- but I was more interested in the things I could do with the tin itself. It just grew from there.
A tin, a vitamin bottle, a 3x5 index box, a supplement cannister, a fanny pack, a back pack... a medic bag... That's been my life too... a child, a teen, a student, a medic, a paramedic, a motor medic... Me.
Being a medic has meant compromises though. I can't allow myself to fully connect. I have to remain detached, to realize that its nothing personal– and yet it is. Its what makes a human... human.
And I don't mean human as in Homo Sapiens Sapiens... just the Homo Sapiens part.... the part that defines us as people. And even that's wrong these days. Sentience. The thing that makes a sentient being a person... the connection, the realization that there is more than self... and that is what Deus is missing....
Yeah IT is Aware, yes it is sentient. It knows and is aware of what it's doing and it is making decisions... but it feels nothing. It does what it does because-- it can. And that is why... why what happened to me... to the others is so ... horrific.
A tornado is deadly... but it kills and destroys because... that's what a tornado does. There is no will, no thought, no desire in it-- it merely is and you accept that. But I cannot accept what Deus is or did, because...
Because it knew... it decided... it DID things it didn't haven't to do... it did them without remorse, as unfeeling as the tornado, as random and destructive as the tornado-- but it did so willingly, knowingly... And I hate it.
It killed and maimed people with a clinical detachment that rivaled the worst mass murders in history ... and it found people... sentient people, to give up their humanity... and become part of its insanity-- to serve it.
I don't know which I hate more-- Deus for what it is and has done, the people who created it... or the people who became a part of it. Were their lives so empty, so disconnected that this was the only connection they could make?
No. They decided and their victims must live with that decision.
I've taped a piece of paper to the inside of my foot locker... for now... I plan on writing one truth a day on that paper.
Today's Truth: You live, not only by your decisions, but by the decisions of others.
I have been informed that I lack, even the rudiments of discipline.
This was the summary of the Ghost equivalent of a drill instructor. I think he'd been warned that I was a 'special case'. I also think he bowled straight over that and the instructions to leave me alone and went straight into... well... instructor mode.
He didn't exactly include me in the training, but he made it clear that if I was in the area during PT, I was going to do PT!
And so... I did PT. I jogged, I marched, I ran. I was, of course, the slowest, least co-ordinated person there. When PT was over, the trainees went to their classes and I stayed and pondered, but there is only so much pondering a person can take. I think that was part of the point.
I ate lunch with the trainees, always apart from them-- I wasn't part of their team, I wasn't even an elf. I was the ugly duckling and they were the swans. Only I will never be more than I am. I will never be a soldier, I will never be a warrior. I am a healer, a militant healer at times-- but a healer none the less.
I am-- a survivor.
You live, not only by your decisions, but by the decisions of others.
You cannot control their decisions.
I am reminded of an old holo-sticker I saw once... it was the animated image of a man, with a chestful of medals. He was standing erect, proud, his chest thrust outward... and then the look of shock, surprise and horror as he came to a realization.
"I am master of my fate and captain of my soul! - Oh shit!"
It's a scary thing-- taking control. Accepting that you cannot control everything that happens to you, but you are ultimately responsible with how it effects you as a being. That is what being a survivor is all about.
I was a human... I was Jess Miller, motor medic and self professed mother of all things.
Then the shutdown happened.
I am still human. I am still Jess Miller. I am a survivor.
Once I learn this, once I accept it-- maybe then I will be able to face what happened. Then it will be dealing with the past-- and that is what it is: the past.
You live, not only by your decisions, but by the decisions of others.
You cannot control their decisions.
You can control yours.
Jess Miller: Biped: Homo Sapiens Sapiens. Fish out of water.
With the PT added into my meanderings, I am sleeping again. Sleeping and not waking in cold sweat, or screaming. That's a nice change.
It felt good to move, to concentrate on the physical side of who and what I am instead of all this "Getting into my head." thing. Don't get me wrong, I know that's where the trouble is-- but focusing on it isn't the answer-- not right now.
So-- when the trainees started sparing, I stuck around. I had planned on just watching-- maybe picking up a pointer or two. My first mistake.
The instructor called me over and practically reamed me out, telling me that this was not a spectator sport.
I nodded apologetically and started to leave when he called me back.
"And where do you think you're going?"
I think the befuddled look on my face would have amused anybody else, but then again-- that's why he's their instructor. I was sent over to one of the smaller groups and began practicing the moves he demonstrated. By the time class finished I was sore and tired and... relieved.
That night, between the end of the day and lights out, I listened to the others, saying how-- after training everything would be easier and that this was a bad as things got.
I shook my head. Things can get a lot worse. I told them as much-- then updated my locker list.
Today's Truth - Things can always get worse.
I am now an unofficial Ghost trainee. I'm not sure who decided, but when I lag behind, one of the others comes back and urges me on-- when the instructor isn't looking of course. But he is. He always is. He sees so much more than they think. He knows so much.
I can see it in his eyes and I think-- I think he's seen it in mine as well. We've both been there, we've both survived something that could have been devastating. Well, he's survived. I'm still trying.
When the trainees headed off to their classes I stayed behind-- only to be dragged along. It was Ghost medic training. I thought that at least this was something I knew and understood, but I was wrong.
Well-- I was, but I wasn't. My job, my training are all about getting the patient to medical care when transport is provided. Here it was a combination of that and-- keeping the body together to see them through the mission. Survival Med.
A few trainees asked me about it after class... asked me about the differences in anatomy.
I told them the truth-- there is no difference between meta-types, aside from the obvious size, and hard they hit when they come to fighting.
A nice thought, almost as nice as laughing.