othersdie: truly, I have wept too much (Lost)
Would you like to talk curses? Want to hit me with some crit? Is there a gif or a picture that's incredibly relevant? This is the place for all of that! No comment screening, but I think you can post anonymously if you like (if that's not the case, please correct me?).
othersdie: shadows withering the flowers (!Multipurpose)
Ah, wretch! Today he says: I know it all,
And goes away closing his eyes and ears.
And the gods are no more! Mankind is King,
And Man is God! But Love is the only faith...

[Rimbaud, "Credo In Unam"]

Polychromatic Application )
othersdie: are you exiled in those bottomless nights? (Default)
♦ Ridiculously long survey meme
♦ Some of Justin's favorite poems and excerpts

TL;DR: The Best of Justin on LJ
(for the purpose of preserving his development as a human being)

Part I (November 5th, 2008 through April 22nd, 2009)
Part II (April 28th, 2009 through September 11th, 2009)
Part III (September 17th, 2009 through March 12th, 2010)
Part IV (May 13th, 2010 through October 8th, 2010)

Were it not that I have bad dreams..,
othersdie: we feel, in all of this, a certain lack (Concerned)
(21) Justin returns to the City.
othersdie: shadows withering the flowers (!Multipurpose)
(2) The new overseers don't know what they're doing. That's encouraging.
(2) Rosella has been in the City for five years.
(4) It looks like Mako is babysitting Korra. Maybe.
(4) Carla has a daughter.
(4) Jimmy and Justin are depressing little shits.
(5) Angela's memories are missing.
(7) Justin is the most welcoming.
(14) So now death is a thing that takes?
(25) Great, the barriers are acting up again.
(26) Justin is officially missing from the City.

othersdie: are you exiled in those bottomless nights? (Puzzled)
Log Threads
(4) Justin attends an execution.

(2) Laszlo gives a charming speech on treachery.
(5) Setsuna is shot down by the new City guard.
(5) Steve is unimpressed by the City's brand of justice.
(6) At least Carla isn't a cannibal anymore.
(10) The worms from the meteorites aren't Digimon.*
(10) Neil's books are being eaten.
(13) Korra's two friends crash a car into the carousel.
(18) Shikieiki thinks about the dead.
(22) The violent rebels are giving Rosella trouble.
(23) Now the rebels are threatening Todd.
(27) Where do we stand where the rebellion is concerned?
(30) Justin doesn't trust the rebels. (POST)
othersdie: happy in present good, pale from evil past (Almost a smile)
Electra, a small tabby cat

✔ Worn notebook (contains the contents of all entries that are filtered or "off the network")
✔ Box of cards collected in the City
✔ A number of books, including:
        ✔ The Complete Works of T.S. Eliot
        ✔ Rimbaud: A Collection in the Original French
        ✔ The Prince
        ✔ Poe: The Complete Works (Unabridged)
        ✔ All of the works of Friedrich Nietzsche
        ✔ Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats (from Neil)
Painting by Carla
Photo from home, courtesy of a curse

✔ Glock 9MM
✔ A variety of flowers in a miniature greenhouse
✔ Absinthe and marijuana, in varying amounts

othersdie: are you exiled in those bottomless nights? (Default)
Basically everything is headcanon or extrapolation. I have over five years' worth, so this Justin isn't the same as the one I'd play if he was directly from the movie.

Body and Appearance
1. Describe the character's height and build. Is he heavyset, thin, short, rangy?
Justin is five-foot-ten (and a half); this is, according to the internet at large, Michael Pitt's actual height, so I'll roll with it. In canon, he's lean and on the slighter side of average. In-game, he's a bit thinner (jail time and being dead will do that to a person). He has never managed to gain any lost weight back.

2. How old is he?
Seventeen in canon. Following my headcanon, Justin was executed in the latter half of his nineteenth year. Therefore, factoring in time spent dead and all of that crazy stuff, he has just over twenty-four years of existence under his belt but is physiologically twenty.

3. Describe his posture. Does he carry himself well or does he slouch?
He's a terrible sloucher out of habit, but Justin consciously attempts to sit up straight in public.

4. How is his health? Is he fit or out of shape? Any illnesses or conditions? Any physical disabilities?
When he's alive, Justin has mild asthma, a handful of allergies, and is prone to anemia. When dead, none of this bothers him because breathing and ingesting appropriately nutritious foods aren't exactly on the agenda. He's not particularly fit, being cerebral rather than physical, but he's not a far cry from average.

5. How does he move? Is he clumsy, graceful, tense, fluid?
Justin is a klutz (canon). In the time that has passed since he was seventeen, however, he has lost a good deal of his coltish clumsiness and is capable of being almost graceful--provided he isn't made to dance. He's always tense.

6. How attractive is this character physically? How does he perceive himself in the mirror?
YMMV. Other characters in Justin's canon seem to find him at least moderately attractive in spite of his button-up shirts, khaki pants, and loafers. Some find his full lips attractive. Personally, I think he has very pretty eyes but would put him at a six out of ten. Justin doesn't perceive himself as either attractive or hideous; as long as he's neat and clean, he doesn't care about his appearance.

7. Describe his complexion. Dark, light, clear, scarred?
He's vampire-pale with a tendency to redden easily when alive. When dead, he looks about the same (minus the tell-tale blushing). I would go so far as to describe Justin's complexion, dead or alive, as sickly and sallow with dark under-eye circles.

He has scars (tidy, horizontal cuts) on both wrists from an experiment performed at the age of fourteen (headcanon!). Justin wanted to see if he could garner his parents' attention by "attempting" suicide (although, as he told the paramedic who treated him, he would have cut vertically if he had wanted to die).

8. Describe his hair: color, texture, style.
Justin has hair that walks the line between blond and brunette. I would call it dishwater blond bordering on a mousy brown. It's fine and he tends to keep it pushed back behind his ears in a cut that's too long to be stylish and too short to be cool. He's averse to getting his hair cut and it has grown while he's been in the City.

9. What color are his eyes?
Very blue, although they look quite green against the right background. I could say something vaguely poetic about how his eyes look like a stormy ocean, but I'd rather not.

10. Does the character have any other noteworthy features?
His eyes are striking and his lips are quite prominent... assuming you can see his face through his hair.

11. What are his chief tension centers?
Upper back, chest, and the back of his neck.

12. What is the character's wardrobe like? Casual, dressy, utilitarian? Bright colors, pastels, neutrals? Is it varied, or does he have six of the same suit?
Justin hasn't outgrown his habit of dressing like an adult going to a reasonably dressy work environment. Khaki pants, loafers, and button-up shirts in a variety of drab tones are the usual. He has an unremarkable gray jacket for cold weather and a few t-shirts that he only wears if he's staying home.

13. Do his clothes fit well? Does he seem comfortable in them?
His clothes fit well, but he still manages to look hopelessly uncomfortable in them. In his skin. In general.

14. Does he dress the same on the job as he does in his free time? If not, what are the differences?
See twelve. He has, however, reached a point where he occasionally takes off his socks and loafers in the garden or on the beach.

15. You knew it was coming: Boxers, briefs or commando?
Briefs. He's not exciting.

1. What does this character's voice sound like? High-pitched, deep, hoarse?
Justin's voice is smooth and, in casual conversation, very quiet. He's capable of speaking loudly and distinctly when necessary. Overall, he has the kind of voice that forces a person to turn the volume on the television up if they want to hear what he's saying.

2. How does he normally speak? Loud, soft, fast, evenly? Does he talk easily, or does he hesitate?
As a rule, Justin's speech is soft and hesitant. He can be remarkably eloquent when talking about something he's familiar with, but tends to trip over his words and stammer when trying to convey thoughts on difficult things like emotions or, you know... interact with people. He's getting better.

3. Does the character have a distinct accent or dialect? Any individual quirks of pronunciation? Any, like, you know, verbal tics?
He has no pronounced verbal tics and no definable accent.

4. What language/s does he speak, and with how much fluency?
Justin's a native English speaker, fluent in French, and not wholly unfamiliar with Latin and Greek (but not the least bit fluent in either).

5. Does he switch languages or dialects in certain situations?

6. Is he a good impromptu speaker, or does he have to think about his words?
He has to think about everything, words included. This makes him a dreadful partner when it comes to casual conversation.

7. Is he eloquent or inarticulate? Under what circumstances might this change?
See two. On the rare occasion when he becomes angry, Justin can be rather good with words. When he's otherwise upset, however, his ability to string words together deteriorates.

Mental and Emotional
1. How intelligent is this character? Is he book-smart or street-smart?
Justin is described as "a genius" and "the smart one." He regularly tutored other students in high school and has a broad store of general academic knowledge. He learns quickly and, if I had to guess, has an IQ in the ballpark of 130. Booksmarts come more readily to Justin, but, being the prodigious learner that he is, he does have his fair share of streetsmarts.

2. Does he think on his feet, or does he need time to deliberate?
Although he has gotten better at taking action without going through an agonizingly long period of deliberation, Justin is and always will be the sort of person who needs time to think things through.

3. Describe the character's thought process. Is he more logical, or more intuitive? Idealistic or practical?
His thought processes are relatively flexible. Justin is, first and foremost, logical and pragmatic to an almost Vulcan degree. Beyond that, it depends on the day. He considers idealism the territory of the naive. Every now and then, intuition creeps up on him and he can't ignore it. He has come to trust his intuition when it comes to making character judgments, but is generally careful to keep emotion from interfering with logic.

4. What kind of education has the character had?
Justin never finished high school; he was imprisoned his senior year. It might be argued that he has learned more on his own than he has in school if his great knowledge of criminology and forensic procedure is any indication. He has continued to study forensic science, criminal procedure, criminal psychology, and botany. One of those is not like the others.

5. What are his areas of expertise? What, if anything, is he interested in learning more about?
He's the go-to guy for information on French poet Arthur Rimbaud, any form of science or psychology related to criminal or forensic studies, and plants. Justin is always learning, however, and absorbs new information wherever he goes.

6. Is he an introvert or an extrovert?
He's extremely introverted.

7. Describe the character's temperament. Is he even-tempered or does he have mood swings? Cheerful or melancholy? Laid-back or driven?
Justin is reliably calm and melancholy. Apathy and an almost obsessive devotion to anything he considers his duty--traits that should, logically, rule each other out--are constants. That said, he has no ambitions to speak of and is, therefore, not the most driven of people.

8. How does he respond to new people or situations? Is he suspicious, relaxed, timid, enthusiastic?
At one point in his life, Justin was intensely suspicious of new people and nervous when placed in a new situation. He never has managed to get over a reluctance to trust people, but repeated exposure to new situations has all but obliterated any nerves. He now meets new situations with an almost alarmingly cool detachment. Suspicion is forever.

9. Is he more likely to act, or to react?
Justin is and always has been slow to act; he tends to be slow to react, too, if he reacts at all. He's so passive that reactions aren't always a guarantee.

10. Which is his default: fight or flight?
His default is to agonize between the two, weighing the costs and benefits of each option carefully before doing anything... and by then it's too late. When push comes to shove and Justin can't simply avoid doing either, he can put up a decent fight.

11. Describe the character's sense of humor. Does he appreciate jokes? Puns? Gallows humor? Bathroom humor? Pranks?
At first brush, it might seem that he has no sense of humor. Astute observation will reveal that Justin does have a sense of humor, albeit a very dark one.

12. Does the character have any diagnosable mental disorders? If yes, how does he deal with them?
Justin is afflicted by some form of depression regardless of his state; the depth of his depression varies with his circumstances, but it's never gone. Since the murder, Justin has developed obsessive-compulsive disorder (perhaps in response to guilt or the feeling that his life is out of his control). The degree to which this disorder shows varies and tends to be most noticeable at times when his level of depression is lower.

In the City, he has also developed post-traumatic stress disorder. It's been a slow thing rather than a sudden one, with each horrific curse, each death, and each abandonment building and building upon a psyche that was damaged to begin with. This has manifested itself primarily in the form of numbing (which can be hard to distinguish from Justin's natural awkwardness) and a relatively poor memory of past curses. His difficulty experiencing and categorizing emotions has, if anything, increased. It's difficult to get a rise out of him but immensely easy to arouse his suspicions. Justin doesn't sleep well, even when alive.

In addition to the above, Justin has an aversion to being touched and a tendency to shut down completely when a situation overwhelms him. When things get bad, he copes by smoking pot and drinking copious amounts of alcohol. He's slowly overcoming his dependence on these substances... largely because he doesn't care.

13. What moments in this character's life have defined him as a person?
The murder of Olivia and his confession to Cassie (along with her subsequent betrayal). They aren't good defining moments, but they're what he has. He also considers the moment he told Euphie that he loves her important, but not, perhaps, defining.

14. What does he fear?
Justin has a persistent illogical fear of dogs.

He has no fear for his own safety, but he's capable of fearing for a select few. Justin is afraid of both leaving the City and never leaving the City--the latter because he can't be sure that the afterlife will be the nothingness he needs it to be, the former because he has little desire to live and no desire to be alone after everyone he knows has left.

15. What are his hopes or aspirations?
He has abandoned hope and aspires to the nothingness that he needs death after the City to be--or so he thinks. Justin isn't at a point to realize it consciously, but he does hope to find more time with Euphie, to see the best friends he has ever had, Neil and Todd, somehow remain happily together and alive, and to prevent Ken, who reminds him too much of himself, from ending up the way he has.

16. What is something he doesn't want anyone to find out about him?
He has no secrets that he can express in words now that the fact that he helped murder a woman is relatively well-known, but he doesn't want anyone who cares about him (and he's skeptical about whether or not such people exist sometimes) to know how bleak his existence is and how tired he is of existing in limbo.

1. Describe this character's relationship with his parents.
Distant. Prior to his parents' divorce, they were either engaged in work or arguing with each other. Justin never wanted for anything material, but he never had the full attention of either parent. His father did, on occasion, take time to notice him, and they shared an interest in literature and French cuisine. After the divorce, his father disappeared. His mother hardly registered his existence.

2. Does the character have any siblings? What is/was their relationship like?
Justin is an only child.

3. Are there other blood relatives to whom he is close? Are there ones he can't stand?
I've invented a paternal grandmother for Justin. Like his father, Grandma Pendleton was fond of literature. Unlike his father, she took an active interest in his life and bought him books she thought he would like. She also recognized the somberness and interest in death that had characterized Justin throughout his life and encouraged him to write, hoping that such an exercise would give him an outlet. Grandma Pendleton also gave Justin his first anthology when he was eight--The Complete Works of Edgar Allen Poe.

There aren't any other relatives to speak of.

4. Are there other, unrelated people whom he considers part of his family? What are his relationships with them?
Abby adopted him as her brother, but she's long gone; Angela was something of a mother figure, but she's gone as well. At the moment, Justin feels a brotherly sort of concern for Ken and would consider Neil and Todd the closest he has to family right now.

5. Who is/was the character's best friend? How did they meet?
Justin's only friend--and this is for a certain definition of "friend"--in life was Richard Haywood. They met when Justin was assigned to tutor Richard in biology. The nerdy loner and the popular rich kid found a common interest in crime... and in power plays.

6. Does he have other close friends?
Since entering the City, Justin has made a number of close friends: Abby, Todd, Neil, Shilo, Angela, Euphie, Ken. Todd and Neil are the only ones left. Justin is reluctant to get close to anyone else for fear of losing them, as he feels he inevitably will.

7. Does he make friends easily, or does he have trouble getting along with people?
It's complicated. Justin is a polite young man, but he's quiet, not one to instigate a conversation for strictly social reasons, and a loner by nature. This makes making friends something of a challenge, particularly when he doesn't want to become friends with more people who will leave.

8. Which does he consider more important: family or friends?
With his grandmother both dead and in another universe, friends. He does realize, though, that even friends are transient.

9. Is the character single, married, divorced, widowed? Has he been married more than once?
Justin is single and, barring something bizarre happening, always will be.

10. Is he currently in a romantic relationship with someone other than a spouse?
He's not looking for one and it's... complicated beyond that. His heart belongs to Euphie, who is dead and not in the City (excluding fourth wall days). Justin doesn't consider himself in a relationship, but he's also completely uninterested in anyone who isn't Euphie and would feel that seeing someone else is cheating, somehow.

11. Who was his first crush? Who is his latest?
Justin has had two "girlfriends" (not counting Lisa, who was more of a pawn--and, to be fair, Justin was little more than a pawn to her, too): the first was Shilo, the second was Euphie. He was/is romantically attached to both, but not sexually attracted to either. Both relationships were marked by considerable amounts of trust and openness and some awkwardness.

Justin has considered what he had with Shilo gone since her last visit to the City when she didn't remember him and, in retrospect, thinks of that relationship as a sort of "puppy love." It wasn't as intense as whatever he feels for Euphie, and he is still very much in love with Euphie. I don't imagine that will change for a long time.

12. What does he look for in a romantic partner?
He doesn't look. Justin experiences no sexual attraction and, therefore, isn't sure that he can fall in love (in spite of labeling his feelings towards Shilo and Euphie as love). In truth, I would classify him as a romantic asexual--perfectly capable of having a romantic relationship, if wholly uninterested in sex. His two romantic partners were both sweet, patient, generally upbeat, and hiding some dark secrets, so he certainly has a type.

13. Does the character have children? Grandchildren? If yes, how does he relate to them? If no, does he want any?
Nope, and he never wants any. The cat is enough.

(It's almost a shame since he does have a nurturing side... as evidenced by his success with delicate flowers and his forays into cat ownership.)

14. Does he have any rivals or enemies?
Richard could have been considered a rival or enemy at times, and Cassie was most definitely an enemy. In the City, Justin tries to maintain a low profile, thus avoiding too much animosity. Being more active with the police force, however, has earned him several enemies. His least favorite is Luke Valentine.

In following the pattern established by Richard, Justin tends to have more "frenemies" than outright enemies. He has a certain fascination with people who are psychological nightmares, which has led to... interesting relationships. Justin had an antagonistic friendship with Road at one point; he now has an odd something-or-other with Carla, who is, arguably, crazier and more dangerous than Road. He fears her on a deep, instinctual level but is almost fond of her intellectually. She truly terrifies him sexually; after his unhealthy and vaguely homoerotic relationship with Richard and his time in prison, her sexual advances are far more frightening than anything else about her.

15. What is the character's sexual orientation? Where does he fall on the Kinsey scale?
Justin's an asexual (although he doesn't know the term and assumes there's something wrong with him). There is no sexual attraction.

16. How does he feel about sex? How important is it to him?
Justin has always been uncomfortable with physical intimacy that he doesn't initiate, even something as casual as touching. Richard used this discomfort against him, and his experiences in prison twisted unease into revulsion. Sex does not happen. (He has relaxed his fear of casual contact and, fairly recently, has found that nonsexual human contact can be reassuring. Justin enjoys kissing and cuddling Euphie, and he's not wholly averse to strictly platonic physical interactions with Neil and Todd.)

In spite of all that, he's fairly neutral in his attitude towards others having sex. It is, after all, completely natural to seek out sexual relationships. If anything, Justin thinks that being disgusted by sex is unnatural and indicates some kind of problem or psychological damage.

17. What are his turn-ons? Turn-offs? Weird bedroom habits?
Justin doesn't have weird bedroom habits (unless you count his tendency to stay in his bedroom for extended periods of time when things get rough). He doesn't have sexual turn-ons, but he does like hair. In his relationships with Shilo and Euphie, his favorite form of contact was toying with their hair. Again, it wasn't anything sexual, he just... likes long hair.

1. Do you know your character's astrological (zodiac of choice) sign? How well does he fit type?
Chinese Zodiac: Justin was born in the year of the Rat (yang/wood). According to Wiki, Rats "are intense and powerful individuals, capable of great good or great evil. They make great leaders [...]. Frustrated when hampered, these signs are ruled by highly potent energy and unpredictability. At their worst, Rats are ruthlessly power-hungry, vindictive, and Machiavellian [...]. They are intelligent, magnanimous, charismatic, charming, authoritative, confident, eloquent, and artistic. They can also be tyrannical, bombastic, prejudiced, deceitful, imperious, and ruthless." Wood elements are considered strong and flexible, as well as idealistic.

Justin isn't "ruled by highly potent energy," but he can be unpredictable and most parts of this description have suited him at various points in his development. Even though he doesn't consider himself a leader ("Who would follow me?"), Lisa's nickname for Justin is Bonaparte and it doesn't take a great mental leap to imagine a Justin who is a competent leader. Considering Justin's earlier philosophical ideas, he would make a fine cult leader as he has, in his life, been of a Machiavellian bent and, under different circumstances, could have been charming, charismatic, and tyrannical.

As things played out, Justin wasn't raised in an environment that bred power-hungry and confident leaders. While he did enjoy his power plays with Richard and still, to a much lesser degree, prefers to have power over a situation, he has no desire to lead. What idealism he was plagued with has been crushed. What has always been and continues to be true of Justin is that he's an intense individual when his attention is focused. This lends him a certain kind of creepiness at times.

Try as he might to deny it, he does have good attributes. Justin is undoubtedly intelligent, eloquent at times, and, although he's not artistically gifted, he has an artist's soul--an appreciation for beauty, however fragile and brief. He is confident when he's talking about something he knows about, authoritative when the situation calls for it, and stronger and more flexible than he would give himself credit for. Justin has been through hell and back and, although he considers himself a weak person, he has had to be strong to adapt to the scenarios life has presented him with without breaking.

Western Zodiac: Justin is a Capricorn on the cusp of Aquarius. Capricorns are generally considered brave, tenacious, and rather ambitious in their chosen fields. Criticism doesn't bother them; they can come off as rigid and impatient. They're energetic, not prone to self-doubt, solitary, and, as a rule, clumsy. Justin isn't a terribly good Capricorn (although he is solitary, clumsy, rigid, and brave in the way that only someone with no regard for personal safety can be). He does have some Aquarian attributes: autonomous, brilliant, occasionally paradoxical, and freedom-loving.

2. Is this character religious, spiritual, both, or neither? How important are these elements in his life?
Justin goes through phases. He was raised Catholic (although neither of his parents were terribly devout), typically considers himself an atheist, but, in truth, leans towards agnosticism. He frowns upon organized religion and spirituality, but they don't play large enough parts in his life to warrant much concern. He's more worried about practical things such as whether or not he'll finally get to stop existing once he leaves the City (or, if he must exist in some fashion, can it be with Euphie?).

3. Does this character have a personal code of morals or ethics? If so, how did that begin? What would it take to compromise it?
His morals and ethics are ever-evolving things and it would take hours to sum up the history of his personal codes. Justin's moral and ethical codes are very important to him and, at one point, were to be rigidly adhered to. His understanding of the world was built on philosophy--a specific vision of morality and ethical behavior. This came crashing down, but Justin has never quite managed to escape the mindset that there is a Right Way to live; what differentiates him as he is now from his former self is a great deal of uncertainty as to what is Right.

Justin currently espouses a rather rigid moral code (albeit very quietly) while suffering a great deal of moral ambivalence.

4. How does he regard beliefs that differ from his? Is he tolerant, intolerant, curious, indifferent?
Justin has always been fairly tolerant as long as those differing beliefs don't interfere with his current agenda or clash too completely with whichever high-minded philosophy he's following. Curiosity has long since dwindled into indifference... unless he's presented with truly out-there beliefs. There's a reason Justin is drawn to psychopaths.

5. What prejudices does he hold? Are they irrational or does he have a good reason for them?
He likes to think that he's relatively free of prejudice, but Justin does continue to hold a grudge against the effortlessly popular and the thoroughly manipulative. He used to harbor a grudge against female cops (for good reason, I'd say), but Beckett broke him of that, for the most part.

Daily Life
1. What is the character's financial situation? Is he rich, poor, comfortable, in debt?
In life, Justin's family was (I gather) wealthy, but not to the same degree as Richard's. He has always been materially comfortable. In the City, Justin's modest mode of living coupled with hard work, clever investments, time, and various inheritances from those who have left has made him rather wealthy.

2. What is his social status? Has this changed over time, and if so, how has the change affected him?
Justin was low on the social totem in life. He came from a decent family, but being a loner-intellectual put him at the bottom of the high school pecking order (unless his peers needed help with their studies). His years as a convicted murderer were, naturally, not ones in which he enjoyed much in the way of social greatness, although he was assigned a twisted kind of value.

After years in the City, Justin has attained an almost respectable status in spite of his past, primarily by virtue of being a fairly knowledgeable, honest, and polite long-term resident.

3. Where does he live? House, apartment, trailer? Is his home his castle or just a place to crash? What condition is it in? Does he share it with others?
The Pendleton house was quite nice in a thoroughly suburban sort of way; his family's money was never as showy as, say, that of the Haywoods'.

Justin has inhabited more than one apartment in the City and currently lives with Neil and Todd. He doesn't concern himself with the apartment overall; his room is his kingdom, and it's a very tidy and meticulously-organized kingdom at that. While Justin's room in his mother's house was a front--a carefully-constructed "typical teenager" room that didn't give away anything about his actual personality--his current room is in keeping with his fastidious (sometimes, when agitated, to the point of obsessiveness) nature. It isn't somewhere that invites something so informal as "crashing."

4. Besides the basic necessities, what does he spend his money on?
Justin is careful about his money and typically only splurges on others. He's from a family that expressed affection through money; this has led him to express his own affection through gifts, when he can think of something appropriate to give. More often than not, Justin finds it easier to throw money at his friends' problems or flat-out offer them cash than to come up with a gift.

5. What does he do for a living? Is he good at it? Does he enjoy it, or would he rather be doing something else?
His occupation has changed considerably during his time in the City, although he has kept his work within the police department. He has gone from junior forensic scientist to head of forensics to second-in-command to head of police; with Steve Rogers' ascension to Chief of Police, Justin has stepped back into a more paperwork-oriented position. General disdain for the police and, more importantly, the fact that the police are ultimately fighting a losing battle against the City have made his job incredibly depressing. Justin would like to quit--he doesn't need the money--but he feels obligated to stay on, being the most senior staff member insofar as time spent on the force goes.

If he didn't feel duty-bound to stay with the police (and bound to the force through Abby, Beckett, and others he has, in a way, cared for), Justin would give it up and help Neil with his bookstore. Perhaps he would find more time and energy to devote to encouraging Neil to start up that playhouse he's been dreaming of.

6. What are his interests or hobbies? How does he spend his free time?
The police force eats up more and more of his time--another reason Justin would like to get out. Now that his interests are drifting away from forensics and crime, Justin's other loves--literature and botany--are becoming more appealing. He gave up on botany for a time (the City's tendency to, say, turn into sand, makes investing copious amounts of time into plants that can crumble away at any moment illogical), but his interest is slowly being rekindled. Justin never lost interest in literature, particularly poetry.

His devotion to his hobbies does wax and wane. Naturally, deeper spells of depression lead to an apathy towards things he generally likes, although he soldiers on with his plants (he can't just give them up on a whim).

7. What are his eating habits? Does he skip meals, eat out, drink alcohol, avoid certain foods?
This varies. When he's dead, Justin doesn't always bother with meals because they aren't vital. When alive as he is now, he usually only eats because it's necessary; the act of eating isn't pleasurable in itself, and he doesn't care enough about his health to eat well.

At times, Justin doesn't drink at all (most notably when he has had a recent visit from Euphie, as he thinks she deserves better than a drunk). In general, he's a light drinker and may, on days when he doesn't have to work, mix absinthe with marijuana. During depressive episodes, Justin drinks steadily and indiscriminately (never enough to get drunk, since underlying paranoia encourages him to keep some of his senses about him) and is more prone to drug abuse (not that anyone can tell when he's stoned, as a stoned Justin only differs from a normal, melancholy Justin in subtle ways).

Justin is a fan of French cuisine, particularly caviar. Food might not be that important to him and he might drink anything when depressed enough, but caviar and absinthe will always be his first choices.

Which of the following do you associate with the character, or which is his favorite:

1. Color? Drab, olive-green
2. Smell? Ivory soap
3. Time of day? Evening
4. Season? Autumn
5. Book? Nietzche's Beyond Good and Evil
6. Music? Classical
7. Place? Abandoned library
8. Substance? Absinthe
9. Plant? Orchid
10. Animal? Cat

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othersdie: are you exiled in those bottomless nights? (Confused)
Jan. 13th, 2010

[A dream pops into being—not dramatically, but quietly. Hesitantly, almost. The surroundings are vague and indistinct; they’re irrelevant. The ground is solid enough to walk on, but it feels unstable as if it might tilt away at any moment. Justin is present, staring at the featureless walls, barely there himself. He appears to flicker like an image on a television with poor reception. He can’t be touched. He can’t hear anyone.

Justin begins to talk, quietly and entirely to himself. As he speaks, a blurry image whirls into existence. It’s a boy—Justin’s age, perhaps a little older, certainly more handsome, wearing a red leather jacket, a cocky grin, and possessing all of the confidence in the world.]

What would he say? If he were here? It would involve a derogatory remark, and possibly a suggestive sneer. He'd wonder why I'm not drunk or high, then he'd say something idiotic to draw me into an argument or get too close and tell me that he knows how—

[Justin’s voice dies and he stares at the other boy, face blank. The boy in the red leather becomes more solid—more real, perhaps, than Justin—and addresses him directly. He has a charming smile and a charismatic presence. Justin doesn’t react to him.]

Do you hate me? ...I had to do it. I didn't want to hurt you, but I had to show you what she's really like. She's not good enough for you. She doesn't appreciate you. She's like your mom, and dad, and everyone else. I'm the only person who really cares about you.

[Justin eyes the boy—Richard—critically, skeptically.] Philosophy's dead. Richard's dead. I'm dead, even if I'm still functioning.

[Richard continues as if he didn’t hear Justin, reaching out to brush Justin’s hair back. The gentle gesture abruptly turns violent; Richard grabs Justin by the back of the neck, pulling him close.]

I think I'm the only person who sees how incredible you really are. Don't go away, Justin... come on. What we did... together... how many people can say they've done that?

[Justin doesn’t flinch or, indeed, show any sign of being moved by the words. He making no effort to get away.]

If the monsters were people, they must be people who had the capacity for evil. How like them am I? I was almost convinced that I could be entirely forgiven and escape what I did. I'm unsure now. Maybe the City feeds on the wicked, draining them and warping them into monsters to guard the clock. No one who is good and innocent--no one like Shilo or Abby--could become monsters. The monsters are people like me. Perhaps nothing I do can change that.

[Richard reverts to his initial gentleness, still oblivious to Justin’s words, practically radiating a concern that, while convincing, feels deceptive.] It's safe here, okay? You don't have to worry about anything anymore...not your mother or your father or school, or anything. It's all moot.

[Justin lifts an arm. It’s an almost imperceptible movement, but Richard vanishes abruptly. Justin gains solidity, becoming more real in the absence of his friend.]

What’s going to happen to me? [Justin sighs and apathy changes into melancholy. The change is subtle and his voice is still flat.] He's the Verlaine to my Rimbaud. Rimbaud gave up writing when he no longer had Verlaine... he was twenty-one.

[He glances over his shoulder, not seeing anything.] I like plants. They're predictable, quiet, and not prone to cannibalism or murder.

[A woman appears. She has a gun at her hip and a confidence that rivals Richard’s. As happened before, Justin becomes a little less tangible as she approaches him and begins to circle, not unlike a vulture waiting for a sick animal to die. Her words are short and cold. Justin remains calm and stone-faced.] The person who actually killed Olivia Lake is gonna be executed. But the other one, who didn't actually kill her, if he cooperates... will have a chance at a real life.

What's going to happen to me?

Since you weren't the actual killer... with what you did down there for me... don't worry about it. I'll take care of you.

[Another image appears. This one is two-dimensional—a movie. Justin’s in it, body fully covered, saran wrap over his hair, and goggles on. Richard is sitting, looking at Justin searchingly; there’s a woman on the ground, face indistinct, feet and arms bound. Richard hands a frightened-looking Justin a pair of latex gloves. The Justin in the dream—the one still being circled by an apparently anxious female cop—watches, speaking.]

One cannot live fully without embracing suicide and crime. A pact made with relentless fire... that requires that while some live... others must die.

[In the dream-movie, Justin takes the gloves and, mechanically, straddles the bound woman. He wraps his hands around her throat and squeezes. His eyes are locked on Richard. Tears threaten, then fall. The woman with no face is still and dead. Richard nods. In the dream, the cop—Cassie—walks away and fades into the surroundings.]

The only way to purge the world of unfairness, corruption, lethal ideologies, and hypocrisy is to murder the unfair, the corrupt, the idealists, and the hypocrites.

[Abruptly, the two-dimensional scene flickers and disappears. The prison—the one that sunk in the City not so long ago—closes in on Justin and the rest of the dream scene. Everything is clear and solid-looking now, with none of the nebulosity of the beginning of the dream. Justin sinks to the floor, hands around a now-bruised throat, blood sluggishly dripping from numerous vertical cuts on his exposed arms. He’s crying, shaking—almost whispering.]

I could have let her die, but I didn't. I saved her, and she--she didn't save me, and she killed him. We paid. I just want another chance... to start over. I haven't hurt anyone else. I wouldn't... I'm not like that. I'm not…

[Cassie comes back, clad entirely in black. If she was cold before, she’s fully frozen now. She looks down at Justin contemptuously as he stammers out a defense.]

You have to believe me! When I went over there...I had no idea. I never thought I'd... I had to show him. I just want a chance! I want to start over! I want--

It doesn't work that way. You get one life, and whatever you do with it, whatever's done to you... you gotta face that. There are no second chances.

[Cassie and the prison dissolve into nothing. Justin returns to his normal state, uninjured, hair neat and long-sleeved shirt buttoned. He stands, blank once again.]

I wonder if the dead can disappear. If no one can see or hear us, and no one thinks about us, do we fade?

[Faces materialize—faces from the City. Friends long gone, like Lan. Abby, grinning broadly and holding a Caf-Pow. Shilo, a shy smile on her face. They’re quickly overwhelmed by darkness, leaving Justin with a person who, in spite of the foggy quality of her features, can only be Road. She smiles sweetly and proceeds to cut herself in half—very literally--with a knife. There are voices—familiar ones, City voices—but they’re too numerous to catch. The voices rise to a dull roar. Road is replaced by Justin—another Justin, mirroring the one present in the dream. This shadowy Justin pulls a bound woman into view and holds a surgical scalpel to her cheek. His voice is low and quiet.]

Try not to cry.

[The shadow Justin aligns the scalpel’s sharp edge with the girl’s cheekbone and cuts. That image cracks and shatters into nothingness, leaving Justin alone once again in his featureless dream world. Abby’s voice echoes in the nothingness.]

I'm very proud and I don't even know you.

[And then Shilo’s voice, clear in the fog.]

Can't a person wake up and decide to start over? Of course it won't be easy. And it will take more than a day, but that makes them special. Worth appreciating. I guess I like the idea of a new start.

[Justin stares at the featureless world around him, his face just as unreadable as his surroundings. Blankly, he begins to talk to himself.]

It can take up to ten minutes for the condemned to die in a gas chamber. Potassium cyanide pellets are dropped into a holding tank of sulfuric acid, resulting in the generation of hydrogen cyanide gas. …This gas kills via metabolic asphyxiation. Accordingly, the brain is one of the first organs to suffer its effects.

[He looks bothered by this momentarily. That emotion is fleeting.]

Convulsions and hallucinations may precede unconsciousness and death.

Oct. 22nd, 2010

This nightmare is a chaotic roar, a confused jumble of moments that may or may not have happened. The world is fractured like a broken funhouse mirror and, in each distorted shard, a story plays out. Sounds and sights and emotions overlap. It’s overwhelming. If, however, the mind can focus on one of the multiple and simultaneous shards of thought…

Here, Justin sits in a bleak cell that has no defining features. It could be anywhere, at any time. It’s cold. Justin’s face is as blank as the nondescript walls around him. There have been no visitors, and there is no hope that any will come. It’s just as well. Visitors might bring emotion with them, and it’s simpler to sit and feel nothing than to let the germ of emotion into the sterile environment. Emotions feed fear. Better to accept the inevitability of death with cold apathy than with fear.

Over there, Justin stares down at a body that has broken on the same rocks that break the ocean waves. The waves are deafening, crashing like thunder and drowning out all other sounds. Fear, anger, guilt, pain, and despair linger in the air, nearly tangible entities.

In another fragmented moment, Justin pulls the trigger of a gun. The bullet moves impossibly slow and its target is ever-changing. It hits a bleach-blond head that those who have visited Justin’s nightmares will recognize; it goes through Sorrow’s face; it passes through a young woman’s neck. Blood is everywhere—in the air, on the floor, beating against every sense organ. The gunshot echoes on and on.

A faceless woman is speaking to Justin here. She’s wearing an officer’s uniform and her voice is cold. You get one life, and whatever you do with it, whatever's done to you... you gotta face that. There are no second chances. She pauses; the silence is louder than her voice was. I'm not really interested in what a murderer's idea of just and unjust might be.

And here Justin is being torn apart by monsters that look like corpses in varying states of composition. The sounds from the creature’s mouths are inhuman.

There, Justin in is the forensics lab performing an autopsy. He looks sick to his stomach. The corpse’s face is visible and shifting—a rotting skull, Abby Sciuto, Shilo, Neil, Todd, Zia. Its identity changes relentlessly and endlessly until it settles, and, for a moment, Justin is dissecting his own corpse.

There’s a final Justin amid the chaos, fruitlessly trying to shoot himself in the head. The gun’s chambers are empty, but every click is as loud as a gunshot.

Numerous Justins, numerous horrors, numerous nightmares all playing out simultaneously. Sounds, emotions, and images are confused, difficult to pull apart. The shattered-mirror dreamscape howls… and collapses into silence. The shards fall, splinter further, and then come together in a single image. Many Justins become one. A broken world turns into a dark, broken-down building with creaking floorboards and empty window panes. After the auditory chaos before it, this scene is a remarkably quiet one. The ocean murmurs faintly in the night. Justin—a singular Justin—sits on the edge of a dilapidated balcony, feet dangling out over the rocky coast far, far below.
othersdie: truly, I have wept too much (Lost)
"And death--death is either oblivion or an eternity with our minds. Oblivion is fine. Eternity..."

May. 13th, 2010
A beginner's guide to hunting killer sheep.

[The following is all but whispered.]

If you haven't read Dr. Chase's recent announcement, please do so immediately. Avoid the sheep if possible. Refrain from fighting them unless you know what you're doing. Quarantine yourself if you are bitten.

These sheep apparently hunt in flocks; the attacks I've seen were carried out by anywhere from four to a dozen sheep. Unlike most sheep, these have teeth on both their upper and lower jaws as well as--if their bites are any indication--sharp canines. If you are outside, please keep in mind that sheep have remarkable auditory and olfactory senses. Don't try to sneak up on them. They can see behind themselves without turning their heads. Their depth perception, however, is limited, making darkened areas and hilly terrain difficult for them to traverse in--

[A pause. The sound of baaing grows louder before fading, allowing Justin to continue.]

Shooting them in the head is, as far as I can tell, the most effective way to kill them, but use caution. The sound of gunshots seems to attract rather than frighten them. Since these sheep seldom move alone, be prepared to face several even if you only see one.

Finally, the sheep appear to be selecting their victims. I've seen them ignore several easy targets to attack well-armed individuals or groups. Make of that what you will.

Jun. 15th, 2010
Dear Deities: A short essay on pain.

There are a number of questions that might be asked about pain: Is pain a purely subjective experience or an objective condition of a physical object? Does pain exist outside of perception? Does pain have a purpose beyond the biological? Is pain something to avoid or something to embrace? I could present the answers of philosophers and poets (Nietzsche, haunted by pain, had a lot to say on the topic), but that isn’t what the deities want, is it? They don’t want recitations and paraphrases; they want to know our thoughts and feelings. The subject with no secrets is easiest to manipulate and torment.

The prize they’ve offered is, I hope, worth a small surrender of our power.

There is no single definition of pain. We’re all familiar with physical pains—the brief sting of a cut, the useless throbbing of a bruise, the urgent scream of a serious flesh wound—and the more insidious pains of the mind and emotion. Physical pain is, I would argue, more straightforward and easier to overcome than emotional pain. Our bodies are equipped to handle the pains they suffer and our minds are strong enough to distance us in overwhelmingly painful situations. When the mind is tormented by pain, however, there’s nothing to save us. Despair, betrayal, jealousy, desolation, internal conflict—we’re not equipped with natural analgesics to combat these pains or a desire to extract ourselves from the situations causing pain. There’s something desirable about mental and emotional pain. At times we savor our bleaker, darker emotions, fostering their growth rather than distancing ourselves from them. Who hasn’t felt a sense of satisfaction in jealousy’s slow burn? Who can say that they haven’t found a certain amount of solace in an agonizing fit of sadness?

Pain can heighten our perception and sharpen our minds, leading us to epiphanies that would normally escape us. Pains can send us into a creative fervor, igniting thoughts and words that are only accessible in the depths of apparently inescapable agony. The antithesis of pain—not pleasure, for pleasure and pain appear to be inextricably intertwined—is ahedonism, or a complete lack of the pleasure-pains that spawn genius and an appreciation of existence. Nothingness may appear preferable to pain to those who can’t find an end to their suffering, but, to those who find themselves devoid of all feeling, pain is a treasure. Without some measure of pleasure or pain, life is a wasteland. There is no hope, no brilliance, no drive, no goal, and no reason for being.

We shouldn’t seek life without pain. Instead, we should master our pains—channel the raw emotions they create into something of value and learn to express pain appropriately. Unchecked pain is a weakness. It dims our minds, impairs our judgments, and makes our actions artless and overhasty. Pain controlled, however, can be beautiful. It can be powerful. Someone who has mastered his or her pain experiences a true freedom. Pain, as Nietzsche says, is the greatest tool that the strong can use to manipulate the weak. If we have control of our pain—not of the cause of the pain, perhaps, but of our reactions to it—then we are impervious to all attacks. Those who cause pain do so to assert their power. If the subject of pain doesn’t react favorably, then the victim gains power over the aggressor.

Pain, whether it’s physical, mental, or emotional, shouldn’t be avoided. What doesn’t destroy us wholly only gives us strength, and the pain that we master gives us freedom.

Jul. 4th, 2010
Depression and a holiday lead to drinking and rambling.

Growth, and then they send snow. The deities appreciate irony. If it's like last year, however, the garden will keep growing after the snow melts. The sudden snowfall doesn't kill most plants. It insulates. Still, I wonder about the connection to their prompts.

The flowers are all inside this year. This happened last year (June--I lost a pot of orchids to ice), and it seemed reasonable to assume it would happen again. Everything repeats itself here. The carousel turns, the clock keeps ticking, curses revisit us, there's constant leaving, entering, leaving again, re-entering... there's something to it. It means something. We can't even die without coming back. It's a city of self-perpetuation--of circles and repetition. Is that why time doesn't move at home when we're here? Does time run in circles here, too?

The clock and carousel mean something. Maybe time is bound in the clock.

What's the line... flottaison blême... et ravie, un noyé pensif parfois descend. "I bathed in the Poem / Of the Sea, star-infused and churned into milk, / Devouring the green azures; where, entranced in pallid flotsam, / A dreaming drowned man sometimes goes down..." Rimbaud. "The Drunken Boat"... Le Bateau Ivre.

A dreaming drowned man. I've wondered if this is a dream a thousand times since I came here, and I still expect to wake up and find that none of it happened. I don't know where I would wake up. I don't know where the drowned man goes once he's done dreaming. "Deliriums"... "under the gleam of daylight." Is there more to the City than that? A clock spinning in endless, delirious circles while we dream, convinced all the while that we're not dreaming?

The snow feels real. It's beautiful--snow. I never saw it at home. Not snow like this with icicles hanging off of the frozen flowers. I appreciate the illusion of purity it gives, however fleeting it is. It'll be gone in a day or two. The snow melted quickly last time.

When I used to dream, the dreams melted as soon as I was awake. I've never been a poet. I couldn't hold on to a dream long enough to write it down.

If this is a dream--and a persistent one--I should be able to write, but its dreamlike qualities come and go. Most days are like any waking days and, on those days, I'm convinced that this is real. The curses don't matter. It only becomes dreamlike when I think about it and try to understand. If I just experience, I feel awake; if I think, I feel like I'm dreaming.

Experiencing or thinking, I can't understand the symbolism.

Aug. 5th, 2010
After dying and buying his life back from the Keeper.

Asters. More specifically, these are Eurybia divaricata, or white wood asters. They flower in mid to late summer and early fall and are, to some, a symbol of patience. It takes approximately two years for an aster to flower fully, as this one has.

This was the second plant I had in the City. The first was an orchid, but Neith killed that last year. I'm surprised by how well plants do indoors with standard fluorescents; prior to the City, I had a greenhouse that received more than enough natural light for my purposes. They thrive, however--the plants--in spite of the artificial lighting, the occasional curse, and the insects they coexist with.

We do well as transplants. It takes time for us to adjust to this environment, but we do adjust eventually. Some of us do better here than at home...

For those who have wondered what the cost of a life is (I know I've given it thought), the answer, in my case, is eighteen eyes. Five pairs from cattle, four from pigs, all available for purchase in the City.

Sep. 20th, 2010
A curse induces over-sharing!

I don’t remember how old I was when I saw a cat catch a bird on the school playground. It must have been in kindergarten… first grade. It doesn’t matter. I was reading when I heard this noise. It was—there’s nothing to compare it to. I dropped my book and went to find what had made it and, under the old jungle gym that no one played on, there was a cat with a small brown bird in its mouth.

I just watched. I didn’t know what else to do. The cat released the bird and we both watched it as it tried to escape, wings fluttering and head turning this way and that. It was frightened. There was a moment when I felt as if I was watching something important… something strangely relevant. Some part of myself trying to run from the inevitable.

The cat killed it. I watched that, too, even after the bell rang and everyone else went inside. No one noticed, and I couldn’t make myself leave. Even after it was dead, that bird—I didn’t want to leave it. I chased the cat away and just stared at the bird’s body. It was sickening, but compelling. I felt like I had made a discovery, although I didn’t know—I still don’t know—what that discovery was.

Someone found me eventually. The gym teacher. He asked me what I was looking at, so I showed him. He called me a sick little fucker, picked the bird’s body up with a tissue, and threw it in the dumpster.

I cried. It’s idiotic in retrospect… slightly ironic. That was the same day that I learned that boys aren’t supposed to cry and parents don’t appreciate being asked what “fucker” means in certain contexts, but the bird was the worst of it. That was the first time I saw death—when I first began to understand it outside of vague childhood euphemisms. I didn’t fear death, and I didn’t regret not saving the bird… but I had a new awareness. Worthlessness. I had a glimpse at how meaningless an individual life is, and how little impact death has on the world as a whole.


Oct. 8th, 2010
This follows a supposedly apocalyptic flood, Beckett's abduction, shooting someone...

I prefer sins to threats of floods of Biblical proportions. Sinning--if you believe in sin outside of the context of curses--is part of being human. Even if you don't believe in the concept of sin, we're still inescapably flawed creatures that allow our base instincts to overwhelm our social conditioning.

Assuming this string of curses isn't followed by a Biblical punishment, it's not that bad.

Watch me jinx the entire City. I still think that atheists should be exempt from strictly religious curses.

I've been thinking about religion, though. I don't believe any of it--I have yet to see convincing evidence that a divine power exists--but, at times, I wish I did. Imagine having a set code to follow. Roman Catholics have seven sins that they must avoid and seven virtues to uphold; their world, in life and in death, has order and certainty. That's why I've read so much philosophy. It must be. I've been looking for secular codes of conduct--anything to give existence clarity, meaning, and structure.

Knowing what is moral and what is amoral is difficult regardless of what rules one follows. Many philosophies and religions provide ethical decision-making tools, but who can truly stop, analyze, and determine the best route under pressure? When I was given the choice to face Myrnin or find Beckett, what should I have done?

Almost two years ago--and before that--I wouldn't have made a choice. I would have stood there weighing the pros and cons of each decision until it was too late to act on either. I wouldn't have replied to Ken's message. I wouldn't have shot Sorrow. I was so obsessed with finding a philosophy and following it that I couldn't make decisions, even when it was necessary. I never realized how rigid life was. Go to school, study, read, think. Repeat. There were no decisions to make until Richard, and even then... even then I was too inflexible. The structure changed, but I was still trapped inside of it. It was religion. We were gods and, in this framework we--I--created, we had a course to follow. We had a path to enlightenment and perfection--oneness and power.

That's what it was to me. I don't know why Richard went along with it. Was it the thrill? I don't understand minds like his.

I regret being alive. It's taken almost two years to realize that. I regret building a cage around myself and becoming trapped in my own idiocy. Life's framework left no room for emotion. Decisions had to made intellectually and gut instincts were base things to master and control. In a way, it was useful. All of the emotions I could have felt were discarded. Any pain I could have experienced was stifled with reason. The emotions were still there--looking back, I can remember them--but they didn't fit into my rational worldview.

What would have happened if I had acted on the fear that I dismissed every time Richard and I broke a small law? What if guilt had kept me from strangling that woman? What if I had stopped thinking for a moment and started acting outside of the designated lines?

Something happened near the end. When the plan crumbled and the framework collapsed, there was nothing between me and my emotions. There was no nihilistic philosophy to fall back on. There was fear, disgust, anger, loathing... a sense of self-preservation. The dam broke and all I wanted was to erase my life and write it again. Cassie must have known that I wasn't motivated by selflessness when I saved her, both from the bullet and from falling. She must have known. I was weak. I wanted to save my life, even if it wasn't worth saving.

I still don't know how I feel about Richard. In the end, I couldn't sort out the emotions--assign them to events and people. I felt betrayed when he backed out on the suicide pact, but there was more than that. The knowledge that he would have watched me blow my brains out after all we had done...

But I'm not angry. When I think of Richard now, all I feel is guilt. If he hadn't had me as a tutor for biology... if we hadn't started discussing crime... I don't know what would have happened. I would have stayed trapped by idiotic dogmas and he would have gone on to do something remarkable. Then again, if he hadn't encouraged me--if he hadn't translated my abstract ideas into actions--it wouldn't have happened. We destroyed each other. That is undeniable. Cassie might have been the one to throw him off of the balcony, but I was the one who killed him. He killed me. I think I was dead--dead in all of the important ways--before I set foot inside the state jail.

We built our own framework. I provided the blueprints, he provided the labor. I'll never know if Richard believed in becoming more than human and unity or if he was ever serious about the suicide pact. I think it was a game to him--one he could quit if it became too difficult. I don't think he had any intention of dying. Then why did he play? He said it was me, but at least half of everything that came out of Richard's mouth was a lie. I did believe him, at least to a degree. I wanted to believe that I was special and worthy of the power we were seeking, and he almost had me convinced. I regret that, too--not feeling where Richard was concerned. Maybe he was manipulating me. Maybe he meant some of what he said. If I would have let myself feel before the plan was made, we might have been friends. It seems unlikely, but if he saw anything in me...

When I saw Richard's body, it was like having every emotion I had repressed up to that point hit me simultaneously. He meant something to me. I don't know what--I never will know--but he did.

After that initial outpouring of emotion, emotions ceased entirely. I wasn't afraid of prison. I wasn't afraid of dying. I wasn't thankful to my father for flying back to California, hiring a decent lawyer, and moving my execution date forward so I wouldn't have to spend an extended amount of time surrounded by other murderers. In retrospect, prison could have been hell. A seventeen year-old on murderers' row. I was fortunate. I didn't realize it at the time because I had already decided to die. If the Haywoods' lawyer hadn't been so convincing and I had been given a light sentence, I think I would have died anyway. There was no plan and no philosophy to save me. There wasn't a point.

There weren't visitors. A few months of isolation--I think they drove me insane.

And now I can see how far I've come. When I came to the City, I was a shell. Even with Richard here, my emotions were remote and all I had was a shoddy reconstruction of my prior beliefs to guide me.

When did it change? When did apathy--an almost self-destructive apathy--turn into feeling? When did I begin to listen to emotion and reason instead of reason exclusively? What was the catalyst? Did it happen when Road showed me what kind of a monster I had been intent on becoming?

What good has it done me?

Feeling doesn't result in wise decision-making. I could have apprehended Myrnin, assuming he had been willing to surrender. That would have been logical. That would have been right, I think, according to the police code. I went after Beckett instead. I could justify the decision... had Myrnin resisted, I wouldn't have had a chance against him; my position in the department doesn't require that kind of activity; locating Beckett was as much a priority as capturing Myrnin. I followed my emotions--fear that Myrnin would kill me, concern for Beckett. It wasn't noble. A couple of years ago, I would have considered my choice a weak and cowardly one.

And the debacle with Sorrow. I didn't have to reply to Ken's message; Tuesdays are my days off. I didn't have to respond in person because I'm not trained to handle violent situations, but it seemed like the right thing to do. There was no time for analysis. There was no time to analyze the situation before I shot Sorrow. I thought he would kill Ken. Emotion prompted a hasty and regrettable action.

I had meant to kill him--Sorrow. I had aimed at his head, but my hands were shaking. There was rationale behind the decision. If he was dead, Ken would be safe and Sorrow would return, presumably not as a vampire. Simple. I didn't think it through before I shot, but I can justify it.

I tried to kill someone. I've never shot anyone before. I used to practice at home, and I was good, but I didn't shoot anything living. I'm a terrible killer.

Richard ran over a cat when he was fifteen and he had his learner's permit. He drove to school even though he wasn't allowed to and, one day, he hit a cat in the parking lot. I cried about that--about a cat. I was fourteen. Three years after that, I strangled a woman. I think I cried then, too. The emotions associated with the events were, and still are, vague... detached. I had mastered the art of detachment. But something about them still hurt.

I threw up when I dumped the body. It wasn't the gore. I can tolerate blood. I don't remember throwing up, but it must have been guilt. The same thing happened with Sorrow. I can't tell the difference between guilt and nausea anymore.

It would have been kinder to kill Sorrow. I saw his post on the network tonight. If I had had better aim, I could have solved his vampire problem. I could have prevented whatever pain is involved when a jaw is reconstructed. Better yet, I could have been a more efficient leader during Beckett's absence. I could have done something to capture Myrnin and Sorrow, making the above decisions unnecessary. I could have been kinder to Shilo and Zia. They both wanted me on the ark, but reason said no. Reason told me to hold my position.

I've made more mistakes than I can count in the last few weeks. I've thought about them; when I think about them, all of the other mistakes I've made come back. I don't even know how to feel about them. Part of me is still controlled by reason and part of me feels things with an urgency that I can't fully deny. This must be normal--how normal people are. Part reason, part emotion. I'm not used to it. I'm too weak to listen to both parts.

Road has known that since we met. I've fought her about it, insisting that emotion strengthens rather than weakens. Maybe it does in most people, but it's a lie when I say it about myself.

I'm weak. No matter how I try to refute it, it holds true. The worst things that Richard said about me might not have been true then, but they are now. I thought I was becoming stronger, but these last few weeks--I've done nothing but make mistakes. I've hurt people. I joined the police, in part, to repent--to make up for what I had done. Now I've undone any progress I might have made while I was here. I don't even know if that apparent progress was authentic or if I had simply convinced myself that redemption was possible. Not religious redemption, but a way of making up for my past mistakes. Of erasing them.

Cassie told me that it isn't possible to escape past mistakes. We all have one life to live, even if a dimensional crossover intervenes and gives us the illusion of a second chance.

Even without the rules and philosophies that I depended on--even without the repression of emotion that was more an instinct than a conscious decision--I'm a destructive force. Some defect in me--in my mind, maybe--will keep me doing more harm than good. I'm wrong. Fundamentally, genetically, however. The world would have been better if I hadn't been in it. Richard would have graduated by now... he would have done something with his life. He could be cruel, but he could also be sincere and kind, albeit in a warped way. The woman--Olivia Lake--would still be alive. She would still be able to shop for groceries and do whatever else she did. Lisa and my parents might have been better off. There's no way to know.

After I shot Sorrow, something strange happened. I don't know if it was a kind of magic--I have to accept that such things exist here--or a trick of my own mind, but it was terrifying. There was fear, pain, loneliness... guilt. A worried face. I think the thoughts were from Sorrow, but I can't be sure. Other than the faces, the feelings could have been mine. It must have been him.

It could have been me.

I couldn't avoid his entry on the network, and I was compelled to read Beckett's reply to him. "I'm not really interested in what a murderer's idea of just and unjust might be." That's what she said. She said it to someone who could have been me, and she said it with such disgust. Do I need to remind her? Does she know that I'm the one who mutilated him?

Sometimes--usually when I've been around Shilo, Neil, and Todd fairly frequently--I believe I've changed. I believe I'm a good person. When Beckett trusts me to handle paperwork, I feel like I've accomplished something. To have someone like her trust me--surely that means something. When the other officers treat me like a peer and not a socially awkward killer... I lie to myself. I lie convincingly. I've been building a new framework in the City, and something tore it down.

I want to run. I've made too many mistakes. Thinking that I could redeem myself somehow by trying to enforce the City's nonexistent laws was idiotic. There aren't second chances, and Beckett could say that to me as easily as she said it to him. She would be justified in doing so. Shilo--I don't understand why she doesn't have someone better. I've hurt her before; it's only a matter of time before I make another mistake. I barely know Zia and I can't fathom why she seems to care. Is it because I bought candy for her?

The only company I deserve is Road's.

If I was convinced that death--the true death that comes after the City--was annihilation and not another chance to ruin more lives... if I thought that death was enough to escape...

Would I do it, or am I too weak?
othersdie: shadows withering the flowers (!Multipurpose)
"If I analyze and try to understand the world logically and categorically, everything becomes more impersonal. If everything is impersonal, I don't need to be bothered by the fact that my life is worth ten cow eyes and eight pig eyes."

Sep. 17th, 2009
A truth curse hits.

I'm a murderer. The murder was unjustifiable. Deplorable. Meaningless. I did it to find meaning, and I did it because Richard wouldn't. I had to be better than him at something. I believed idiotic things. I thought that crime was the truest expression of freedom--murder, the most liberating act.

Richard died because of me. He was a bastard, but he was all I had and he died because I thought I could redeem myself. Redemption is a lie. No one gets a second chance at life.

I joined the police force as penance.

I didn't regret being in prison--not at home and not here. I deserved it. I think I've paid enough now.

I think I love someone, if love is real and not a biochemical response to set stimuli. She should do better, but I don't want her to.

I should delete this. Truth is as rewarding as charity.

Oct. 15th, 2009
A calm statement of fact while others eat each other during a curse.

In situations like this, I believe maintaining a list of crimes committed is an impossible, unfeasible, and ultimately futile task. If the City is attempting to further undermine what citizen-imposed order exists here, it's succeeding. Nothing encourages disorder like a no-holds-barred bout of cannibalism.

The Aztecs were likely cannibals. They didn't eat people indiscriminately (as seems to be the case today); instead, they performed complicated rituals that involved the sacrifice and consumption of politically important prisoners of war. In some cultures, eating the dead was a vital funereal rite. They believed that the deceased would live on--in part--in the souls and bodies of those who partook of their flesh. Even until recently, women in a specific tribe in New Guinea ate the brains of their relatives out of respect. There was the Donner Party, as well...

There are more reprehensible cases of cannibalism--cases where the act had nothing to do with respect, ritual, or survival. Jeffrey Dahmer murdered and consumed parts of seventeen men over a period of thirteen years.

Midnight will be unpleasant. I assume more than a handful of those cursed won't react well to today's actions.

Oct. 19th, 2009
All of the monster-related curses get Justin thinking.

The unsolved murders are frustrating. Abby and I have nothing to go on, and I've heard little from other members of the police force (if it still exists). If I had the power to further the investigations--

But I wouldn't further them. Richard, for all of his arrogance, was an astute judge of character; how many times did he tell me that I'm all talk? I wouldn't have been capable of strangling the woman if he hadn't been so sure that I couldn't do it. It's been almost a year--two weeks short of a year--and I still can't decide if I'm glad he's gone. Yes, we were two halves of a whole, but, as a whole, we were monstrous.

It's a good month for montrosities. Today's curse, the cannibalism curse... I'm constantly disturbed by the City's ability to rob us of our wills, forcing us to take actions we would never otherwise take. I was fortunate. The curse allowed me to maintain a sense of control, and whatever drove us to eat flesh was satisfied with a taste of my arm. I neglected to mention that to Abby. She still doesn't know about the candlestick incident with Road (she attributes my limited control of my left hand's fine motor movements to my inherent clumsiness, I believe, so she may not need to find out about that). If she knew a fraction of the things I didn't tell her, she would never let me out of her sight. As much as I appreciate her concern, she can be overbearing.

I thought about this entry while I was walking today. Until now I've never considered the monsters in the Underground, since they're easy enough to avoid. What if they are permutated forms of those who can never leave the City? Are their names on the graves in the cemetery? I am hoping that an investigation into the issue will be more fruitful than any murder investigations.

Road will be involved. I'm not surprised; she's a monster in her own right and can likely dissuade hostile entities Underground from eating us. I'm going to bring my gun along. I doubt it will stop a monster or Road, but it may slow both down. (Could I shoot Road? I don't think I can. If the situation were dire enough...)

What if the monsters are nothing more than people who couldn't escape from the City? I'm afraid to find out. I need to, but the answer may be discouraging. I'm dead. I have no world to go back to. Will that condemn me to an eternity in the City? Over time, will I transform into one of them and lose myself? I've worked hard--I've worked to create who I am. I was nothing but pieces of an identity a year ago after everything I was died at the Bluff, but I'm someone now. I'm more than I've ever been. I have people--not absent parents or a diseased twin like Richard, but people who care. Does that make me less of a monster than I was when I murdered the woman?

If the monsters were people, they must be people who had the capacity for evil. Thinking about them scares me. How like them am I? I was almost convinced that I could be entirely forgiven and escape what I did. I'm unsure now. Maybe the City feeds on the wicked, draining them and warping them into monsters to guard the clock. No one who is good and innocent--no one like Shilo or Abby--could become monsters. The monsters are people like me. Perhaps nothing I do can change that.

I can hear the clock right now. Some say it counts down to the end of the world. At night when I'm thinking--times like this--I wonder if it isn't counting for each of us individually, measuring out the moments left to us. Maybe I'm becoming more of a monster with each tick.

I don't feel like a monster, but can monsters see their own deformities?

Nov. 5th, 2009
Abby leaves, Road kills people, and Justin breaks down.

Richard came back, Abby left, and someone else was murdered. I don't know which of these bothers me the most.

No, Abby's departure is the worst. She is--was--family, moreso than any of my genetic relatives. I didn't know how to react when she took the liberty of declaring herself my sister, but after a year... I became very used to being forced out of my apartment, anyway. Parties, clubs... she forced me into more social situations than I've been in in all the rest of my life combined. Perhaps I was resentful at the time. Everything is easier to appreciate in retrospect.

I don't like being alone in the lab. She's always been there, since before I came here. She was teaching me. I still don't know anything about forensic science compared to her; a year of informal lessons can't match a formal six or eight year education on the subject. The police force was already nearly inoperable. What now? I can't be the head of forensics. I shouldn't even be here. I still don't know how Abby convinced anyone to let someone so inadequately prepared join the police or why I've been entrusted with anything.

She held everything together. She was the constant in an inconsistent existence. I don't think I've felt the way I did when I saw her picture in the Hall of the Missing before. It was worse than when Richard died. His death seemed inevitable, as did mine. There was no surprise. Regret, maybe, but mostly a numbness that I can't describe. Having Abby leave feels more like being gutted.

Graverobber's gone, too. Shilo is upset. It doesn't seem fair to be upset about someone leaving when she already is.

I won't think about Richard.

Road's timing is impeccable. I know she's the murderer. Nothing makes the same kinds of wounds as her candles do. I don't fully understand why I'm surprised or upset. It has to be the timing. Something needs to not go wrong.

The ticking echoes in the lab. I can hear it in the apartment now, too, even with Neith. I didn't hear it there before.

Nov. 18th, 2009
Continuous murders plague Justin.

I don't understand this City. I don't understand Rip van Winkle, Millennium, or Road's involvement. I don't understand why any of us are here, why some of us leave but not others, why others find it necessary to resort to murder to keep themselves occupied.

It was about accomplishment when we did it. There were philosophical motivations, but first and foremost we wanted to do something meaningful--something that would be noticed. That was one of my reasons. I wanted to leave a mark on the world. It isn't like that here, though. With an ever-changing populace there isn't a collective memory to scar indefinitely. Few people even remember Millennium's previous incarnation.

If Rip van Winkle is seeking immortality for Millennium, she's going to fail. Nothing stays in the mind of the people--not in any world. (Does anyone remember me in my world?) The City's too jaded to respond to death in the way she might intend, as well. Unless the victim is someone close, they're largely ignored. It's a coping mechanism. If we stopped to consider every death--if we allowed ourselves to feel every time someone dies here--we would be overwhelmed. No one can care about everyone here without breaking. Perhaps that's the City's overarching goal... to rob us of our humanity. Some humanity has to be sacrificed to survive.

It's just a body. If you see it as anything but another body, it's too much. I've only made that mistake once, and I won't make it again.

I wish I could think about something other than death and what repeated exposure to tragedy does to the human mind.

Dec. 1st, 2009
Following the murders, doubts about the police, and being turned into a cute kitten.

I've seen a number of mentions of justice on the network recently. It hasn't been a popular topic of discussion before now. And why? Is it important only in the wake of highly visible murders? ...In the apparent failure of the City's police force to uphold justice? Or did the boxes that gave us a measure of control over our fate and the fates of others encourage this line of thinking?

This is not a just city. I doubt it has ever been just, and I doubt any law-enforcing unit can make it so.

In calling the City unjust, I have assumed that justice has a universal meaning and can be achieved. Hasty assumptions. I don't think we would agree on a single definition of justice, and we would be hard-pressed to give an example of what true justice looks like. The hypothetical city of Plato's Republic achieves a justice only by committing itself to small injustices--to lies, to inequality, to a lack of individual freedom. If the City were like that, there would be as much discontent as there is now.

What is justice to you? Is it a series of lies that ultimately benefit the community? Is it a leveling force that promises equality to all? Is it security at all costs? A trade between equals, as Nietzsche says? Individual freedom? The domination of good over evil? How do you propose we promote a just society in a city of dictators? How do we uphold any form of justice when the justice-keepers are as subject to curses, sudden disappearances, and random happenstance as anyone else?

Do we resort to vigilantism and assume that those who seek justice for us will uphold the same moral codes as we do? Do we break into a dozen--a hundred, a thousand--groups, each group pursuing its own form of justice? Do we remain idle while accusing those groups we feel should be protecting us of being corrupt or defunct?

These questions are not rhetorical. I'm curious.

Jan. 2nd, 2010
On the fear of being forgotten after the deities offer a false escape.

The police force is reforming. It may be a lost cause with no clear leaders and few officers, but Debra is trying. In spite of these recent developments, I've been contemplating resigning. The laboratory is uncomfortable without Abby there, but I'm reluctant to let others in to use the equipment. She wouldn't have allowed it. I realize that, logically, it makes no sense to operate the department the way Abby would have wanted; I doubt she'll come back. She's home... happily, I assume. In her own laboratory, with no memories of the City.

That bothers me--the fact that memories of the City seldom go with people. Instead of being forgotten in one world, I can be forgettable across any number of dimensions.

Trying to leave a mark on any world is, I think, a fruitless endeavor... moreso, perhaps, in the City than anywhere else. Whatever I might achieve here, be it for the greater good or otherwise, will be forgotten--if not immediately, then as soon as those who were impacted either go home or, if they're deceased, cease to exist entirely.

When the barriers fell...

It was too convenient. I was suspicious and I shouldn't have allowed hope to obscure my judgment. I'm never going to see Shilo's world, or any world that isn't the City. This bothers me less than I feel it should. I'm more disturbed by the idea that, once Shilo leaves the City, she won't remember me. There isn't an 'if'--no if she leaves, or if she forgets. Both are all but guaranteed.

I shouldn't think about it. If I think too much, I'll never talk to anyone. I won't think about it.

Mar. 12th, 2010
Eleven days after dying a gruesome death and clawing his way out of the ground...

It's been eleven days. I only know because I've been counting them off on the calendar. No distinct memories, but there are enough nightmares. If I can dream about the event, I should be able to remember it. The nightmares are too vague to be useful.

I haven't been more useful myself. It's irresponsible to miss work and the musical--the latter more so, maybe, because I was helping voluntarily. Volunteers shouldn't vanish. I should have sent a note to Lorne.

"Should." There's enough that I should do. I should thank Neil and Todd somehow (and I should remember what happened that night more clearly than I do). I should thank Shilo, no matter how inadequate thanks will be. I should return Tsurugi's clothes even if he doesn't want them. I should resign my position on the police force before I'm fired for being excessively truant. I should be more than capable of leaving the apartment and going to work.

I don't understand. I realize the event may have had psychological affects, but this is absurd. It's not as if it was the first time I've died; I doubt it was any more disturbing than the first time. There's no reason for the dreams or these irrational fears of leaving the apartment alone (or being alone in the apartment). I don't think I'm susceptible to psychological trauma. If I am, wouldn't I have noticed? Wouldn't I have already been traumatized? If anything, this last death should have impacted Shilo more than me as she remembers more.

Things have been foggy--not foggy... vague and indistinct?--since it happened. I have this pervading sense of being slightly less than real or in some way unattached from my body. Or empty. Not empty in a metaphysical or emotional sense. 'Hollow' might be a more precise word. It's not unlike the feelings after the murder and after Richard died.

There's no reason for it. This death was, by virtue of being forgotten, almost a non-event; there's no reason for me to feel at all abnormal. Is it possible that I'm the problem--that there's something fundamentally wrong with me?

Not entirely coherent, but I need to write thoughts down somewhere. Maybe this will make sense in time.
othersdie: are you exiled in those bottomless nights? (Default)
"No one can be a slave if their submission is self-willed."

Apr. 28th, 2009
A curse prompts one of Justin's first PSAs.

I'm sure all of you know what the term "common sense" refers to. Please use it.

Apr. 30th, 2009
Justin falls prey to the eventually fatal geostigma viral infection.

Should I be panicking? Should I worry about dying again? Should I drink myself unconscious to make the process of dying less painful?

Am I insane for not doing any of the above?

The first time, the fear only lasted until after the trial, and then there was nothing. Sometimes, now that I’m mostly alive again, I regret it. I think about what I could have done if none of it would have happened, or what it might have been like to have a family. I know the truth, though; none of it would have been satisfactory. I’ve thought about it a lot… how it would have been to live after Richard died, and after what we did. It wouldn’t have been living any more than this is.

I’m not worried. Not about dying. I’m more worried that the virus doesn’t die when we do, and we’ll just… revive and die again, over and over until—

I’m worried about not dying. I’ve been thinking about what it means to not exist and fearing that nonexistence without imagining the alternative… immortality. I don’t want to stay in the City for eternity, with or without this infection. It isn’t right. I should be dead, like Richard is—not here. This is unnatural.

Is it ironic that I had to talk to Death before I realized how terrifying not dying would be?

I would miss Abby, and Shilo. I’d even miss Road. Now that I really think about it, though, it would be fine if I died—permanently, I mean. They’re all alive and they’ll go home someday, and I don’t think anyone goes home with their City memories. If that’s true, I’m glad I won’t go home. If I forgot this place, and if I forgot them…

Maybe the virus degrades the body to a point where not even the City can revive it. I’ve seen corpses here that didn’t come back to life, so it’s possible. I almost hope that’s what happens. Not existing… not thinking, or worrying that someone will leave the City… I want that. It’s selfish. It’s selfish, just like suicide’s selfish. You do it for yourself. Maybe I’m selfish.

The rash hasn’t spread much visibly, although typing with my left hand is getting harder. It hurts, though—inside more than out. If it can spread to internal organs, that would make sense. The chest, the—I don’t know if it could spread to the brain. Composing my thoughts is getting progressively more difficult, but that could be a side-effect of the virus’ presence in other parts of the body. Maybe it’s not the virus and I’m going insane. I talked to Richard today—not physically, but…

May. 11th, 2009
Thoughts on monster attacks and Mothers' Day.

The hair thing and the swamp monster lived happily ever after. Good for them. Are these the 'higher ups' people talk about--the powers above the deities? If so, I don't fully understand why we haven't staged a coup.

Yesterday was the best Mother's Day I've been through. Draw what conclusions you will from that.

May. 18th, 2009
Cursed as hell and taking Capture the Flag way too seriously.

Where there is warfare, there are, inevitably, notions of good and evil. We fight for the exalted good, we oppose those who champion the detestable evil. Our adversaries, through their association with whatever noxious idea they hold, become monsters--inhuman, worthy only of extermination.

But what is good, and what is evil? There is no objective answer. The angel's good is the demon's evil, just as the demon's good is the angel's evil. We must choose which idol to worship and which to scorn; which gods to follow and which to burn. We must choose what gives us the right to fight, to destroy, to kill, and to die. In the absence of true morality--of any truth at all--we must each of us decide for ourselves... what is good, and what is evil.

Blue, red... there is nothing inherently evil in one or undeniably good in the other. Which side do you choose? What idealist agendas motivate you to engage in war? What is good, and what is evil? Which team will you align yourself with?

Will you do what is good for the whole, or will you have the strength to embrace what is good for you, as an individual?

Warfare is for the barbarian--the man who lives in a world of good and evil, red and blue. The man--the individual, self-possessed, free of all alliances--is beyond warfare. He does not die for insubstantial ideals or for the good of the crawling herd. If he dies, it is because he wills it.

If 'good' were to be applied to anything, it would be this man--this individual--who lives for himself... who owns his own soul and his own thoughts. This man can still, however, participate in the childish games of the barbarians, acting as a God among men.

He who acts in his interest and avoids true alliance wins the game, as I have.

May. 25th, 2009
A lot of almost-dying leads to a rare bout of optimism.

I've had nothing if not time to think (even if, sometimes, I wonder if I shouldn't spend less time thinking), and my thoughts inevitably turn to death.

When I was sick, I wanted to be dead--truly dead, the way Richard is. The half-life that the City gives to corpses is unnatural, and it's difficult to go on with the knowledge that, at any second, I might leave the City and go back to nothing. I wanted that nothing immediately; I wanted to avoid fear and uncertainty. Now that I'm well, I'm not sure that that's what I want.

When Cassie arrested me--back at the bluff, after Richard died--I begged her for another chance. I begged. I wanted to start over, no murder, no guilt. A clean slate. Another chance to live. She told me that it doesn't work that way... that you get one life. What you do with that life is up to you, but there are no second chances. She wouldn't give me a second chance after I saved her life. She destroyed all hope for a chance when she had me tried as an adult rather than a juvenile.

She was wrong. I thought she was right, but she wasn't. This is that second chance.

I didn't see the City as another chance at first. It was a punishment... a well-deserved hell for a murderer who needed to be punished. That's how I saw it. Reading through my previous posts... it's incredible. It's incredible how much power those words she said had over me--how much power Richard still had over me. I believed them. I believed that there weren't second chances, and that Richard was the only one who could see me for who I am. I believed that everything would have been fine if I had met Lisa first, before Richard--that none of it would have happened, and I could have graduated from high school and...

And it wouldn't have worked out that way. I don't believe in fate, but I believe that what happened was inevitable. With or without Lisa, Richard and I would still have found each other. We would have murdered that woman, we would have been caught... he would have still called the cops and emptied his gun. He would have died, and I would have died. It was necessary for us to die.

I think death was the best thing to happen to either of us.

Richard wouldn't agree. He might have been content with the shallow life he was living, but eventually he would have realized what I know now--that neither of us belonged. Not as we were. We were wrong, maybe from birth, and we paid for our deformities.

I've paid my debt. I died once; now I deserve a second chance. Maybe Richard's getting a second chance, too; maybe there's something beyond the nothing that I experienced outside of the City, at least for him.

It makes less sense when I try to put it into words, but both of us are free now. We're free from our homes and our parents and a world that didn't understand. We're free from guilt, since we've both paid with our lives. Now we're free from each other. I hated it at first, but now... I don't think we helped each other. Symbiosis is not something humans should strive for.

It's Memorial Day at home. No one's going to leave flowers for me, but it's just as well. I only loved my family as much as they loved me. Richard... Richard's family probably threw hundreds of dollars away on flowers for their martyred little boy. They were convinced to the end that I had masterminded the entire murder, manipulating innocent, naive Richard into committing acts he would have never committed alone. In the end I think their lawyer was better than the one my mom hired because they cared. They needed to blame someone that wasn't their son.

What would Mr. and Mrs. Haywood think if they knew? If they had cared enough about Richard to know him when he was alive, would they have cared so much after he was dead? What would they say if they knew that each of us had been manipulating the other?

It was a game. Both of us lost because we didn't realize that it wasn't a game--it was life.

I don't miss Richard anymore. He was all I had then, and I think I was all he really had. I don't hate him, either. We were wrong, what we did was wrong, and now we're both free to right it.

I don't know what happened, but I feel like I lost part of me in the last couple of days. It wasn't any great loss--just the parts of me that I needed to lose. It's different from how I felt before I met Richard; it's not that deadened lack of emotion. I'm not as dead now as I used to be. Maybe I'm not as alive as I was when Richard and I were getting high or planning or drinking, but I'm...

What am I?

Content, maybe. I have a second chance. That chance could be taken away any second, but I have it now, and now is what matters. It's more of a chance than I ithought I had after Cassie arrested me. I have a job, and I kind of have a family. I'm not sure if I have a--but I don't know about Shilo. My judgment where emotions are concerned is fatally flawed. I've thought I loved people before, and I've been wrong.

Maybe I'll read this in a few months and wonder what I was thinking when I typed this.

We do change, after all.

Jun. 21st, 2009
Fathers' Day is inflicted upon the City.

How like my father to not make an appearance. I know it's only a curse, but--

No, maybe it's better that I'm not affected. I want to see him again, but it wouldn't really be him if it was a curse. I doubt the deities would bother transporting our fathers here; it's more like them to conjure up representations than to give us anything real.

Shilo and I talked about hating and loving someone at the same time. It's possible. I think it's easier to love and hate a person simultaneously than to fully love or hate them. My father was probably better than some (or most, from the network) I think, even though he left. If he were here, that's what I would ask him--why he left me. None of it would have happened if he would have taken me with him. ...I might hate him more than I love him. I can say that about almost everyone I knew at home.

I don't know what to do if Shilo's cursed. Letting go is hard when the City refuses to let us forget what we came from.

Aug. 12th, 2009
People are cursed to claim everything; Justin isn't affected. Cue lecture and disdain.

The human struggle for existence invariably involves property. We require food, clothing, shelter, companions... land. Wars are fought over the question of ownership for man is not a self-sustaining creature and needs other things to thrive.

But we know that the desire for ownership doesn't stop with the necessities of life. Humans are greedy creatures by nature. We want more than we have, even if what we have is more than enough to sustain us. Greed causes conflict; occasionally, if greed appears on a large scale, it causes bloodshed. Sometimes, in the desire to dominate our surroundings in the act that we know as ownership, we label other individuals as property.

There are few things more morally reprehensible than claiming ownership over another person.

The one thing that all humans, poor or rich, own is their own person. We possess ourselves from birth and have every right to stay in possession of ourselves. Denying someone the ownership of himself or herself is far worse than petty theft; it's the domination of another human... the stealing of something fundamental to sentient existence. Claiming others as property is to rob them of their selfhood.

...So stop writing on each other. It's wrong and imbecilic.

Sep. 11th, 2009
The Prison Island Sinks event. Guilt and mild insanity ensues.

We already paid for what we did. We already paid. What more do you want? Do you want me to die again?! Will that--it won't fix anything. It won't. It won't bring her back.

When I--I had no idea. You have to believe me. I never thought I'd--I had to show him.

I could have let her die, but I didn't. I saved her, and she--she didn't save me, and she killed him. We paid. I just want another chance... to start over. I haven't hurt anyone else. I wouldn't... I'm not like that. I'm not.

...What was her name?

What was her name...
othersdie: are you exiled in those bottomless nights? (She never notices)
"Investigating graves without the intention of taking anything from them isn't grave robbery."

Nov. 5th, 2008
Upon arriving in the City.

It can take up to ten minutes for the condemned to die in a gas chamber. Potassium cyanide pellets are dropped into a holding tank of sulfuric acid, resulting in the generation of hydrogen cyanide gas. This gas kills via metabolic asphyxiation. Accordingly, the brain is one of the first organs to suffer its effects. Convulsions and hallucinations may precede unconsciousness and death.

Clearly, this is a premortem hallucination.

Dec. 25th, 2008
Justin's first Christmas in the City.

I purchased two gifts for myself today--an orchid (Laelia gouldiana) and a Keats anthology. Without a greenhouse to moderate temperature and humidity, keeping the orchid alive will be a challenge. Neith wants to eat its leaves.

Jan. 2nd, 2009
Reflections after discovering a Rimbaud anthology.

He's the Verlaine to my Rimbaud. Rimbaud gave up writing when he no longer had Verlaine... he was twenty-one.

What do I give up? Society? Humanity? All that is, collectively, considered good? "Good" is nothing more than something the majority has agreed upon... the martyred master-slave mentality. To turn away from society is to embrace freedom, not evil. Freedom stands in opposition to the law of the majority and the abstract notion of good, for it is ultimately selfish and criminal in nature. To be free is to be a criminal... to act without remorse, to take without guilt, to exist purely as an individual.

The ideal. Philosophically speaking, it's appealing. A will to power--a will to gain power at any cost, to ignore laws and norms. Freedom.

Can I be free?

It seemed clear and absolute--perfect. When I planned it with Richard, it seemed beautiful. Plausible. Freedom was ours for the taking... until it was time to act. Am I too human to commit myself to my own philosophy? A free man wouldn't feel betrayal, loneliness... gratitude, affection. Not to this degree. If I were free, I wouldn't work with the police... against crime, freedom, and everything I thought I believed in. I wouldn't worry about what Road's "game" will entail.

Is it possible for philosophy and emotion to oppose each other so completely within a single person?

Jan. 13th, 2009
Thoughts following a family-oriented curse.

Reading about so many families has compelled me to consider my own. Neither of my parents attended my execution; perhaps they were ashamed to have a murderer for a son. My father should have shown. I know my mother was indifferent, but he cared. I thought I could depend on him after the divorce, even though he had moved out of the state.

I was wrong. No one is fully trustworthy, not even the family we choose. Richard was supposed to be loyal. The suicide pact--

Richard betrayed me. First with the ordeal with Lisa, then when he confessed it all to the police. I know what they told him... it's what they told me. They said that only the one who physically killed the woman had to die... the other, if he cooperated, would receive a light sentence. I told them to go to hell. Richard told them everything. Going against the pact was the worst. Coward.

I trusted him, and he was willing to watch me shoot myself.

After Dad my father left and I started tutoring Richard, it was all about him. He was the only family I had and the only family I needed, in spite of his idiocy and philandering. There was... it was everything. He was everything I'm not, and I'm everything he wasn't. We complemented each other perfectly--we were two halves of a single whole. Together, we were a single perfect being. Nothing could have stopped us. He was dead when he betrayed me. It hurt to see his body on the rocks, but we were ripped apart before that. It's a severed connection that can't be repaired, even though he's as alive as I am in the City. I wanted to mend it... it hurts to be half a person.

He betrayed me a fouth time, and now I'm... some kind of pathetic, diminished thing, not even fully human. Everything's gone cold. I don't feel anything when I'm examining a corpse. At the same time, I have no faith in my ability to follow Road and the plan. Maybe I could have, but not after Abby said she loved me--as a younger brother. As family. I want to trust her, and I want her to trust me. I want family. This... unconnectedness? I can't do it, not after realizing my potential with Richard.

I need better liquor.

Jan. 28th, 2009
Following Richard's second betrayal and departure.

Richard's picture is in the Hall of the Missing. It shouldn't matter... he betrayed me, and we didn't talk.

It does, though.

I wonder where he is--where I'll be if I leave the City. I don't know if Richard believed in heaven or hell, but I don't. Do we just disappear if we leave? I was gone for a month or so, but I don't remember where I was. I don't think I was anywhere. Nonexistence. I'm afraid of not existing... I don't want to leave, not now that I have people who care. At least one person.

Maybe nonexistence is better, though. No thinking, no... none of this emptiness. Everything I thought I knew was wrong. I don't know what to do. There's no purpose.

Philosophy's dead. Richard's dead. I'm dead, even if I'm still functioning. I never noticed how cold I am...

Feb. 21st, 2009
After a particularly disturbing curse.

Why do the curses happen? What do the deities want from us?

Is this supposed to be some kind of punishment, or an experiment? Entertainment? You like watching us just... completely lose our minds?

Feb. 24th, 2009
Cursed with wrath.

There is no justice--no fairness, no law that is untainted by the interests of those who enforce it. For those of us who suffer due to the injustices of those in a position of power, fairness can only be delivered by subverting--and eventually overcoming--law and order. If we desire justice, we must take it ourselves.

No. No... it's an endless cycle. Once a new power is in place, it too will manipulate the justice system. Human nature.

We are, by virtue of being human, corrupt. We embrace ignorance, stupidity, and the mutilation of justice; we allow those with power to dictate our lives and rob us of our most basic of freedoms. If justice and righteousness demand it, we will surrender ourselves, our friends, our family, our beliefs--everything--for the sake of a false power. We will murder in the name of law, truth... God.

I murdered for an idea. The idea was law, truth, and dictator. The idea destroyed everything worth having, and I was in turn murdered.

That was the best thing California's justice system has ever done for the world.

The only way to purge the world of unfairness, corruption, lethal ideologies, and hypocrisy is to murder the unfair, the corrupt, the idealists, and the hypocrites. Is there anyone in this City who can say they're entirely innocent?

Mar. 19th, 2009
Life becomes unpleasant, so Justin becomes angsty.

Lan's gone. I don't know why I'm so bothered by his departure. Maybe the last few curses have been to blame. I don't like having my memories made public, particularly when those memories show how weak I am.

Before, when Richard and I were alive, I would have been ashamed. I would have denied my weaknesses publicly as I privately attempted to burn them away. Now... now what? While I'm far from proud of my own human weakness, it's not a source of shame. I don't know what to think about anything anymore, but I feel that weakness is an integral part of the human spirit (using the term 'spirit' loosely). Being human involves more than strength and power and will.

Humanity requires kindness. I don't think I realized that before.

Kindness, in turn, seems to involve a weakness, but it's not one that I want to give up. Although my philosophical ideas have become confused, I'm more certain than ever that I can do something significant with myself--even now, even dead. Even without Richard. I can mean something on my own.

Revelations aside, I'm still unhappy. Loneliness seems to be amplified in the City; it never bothered me this much at home. Maybe I should blame that on Richard, too. He was always around, even when I didn't want him to be. Especially when I didn't want him to be. There's no one like him here. No one who really understands. Road is Road, Abby has all of her friends and Carlos, and Shilo... I don't know. I think she would listen, but I forget what I want to say when I talk to her.

Between the rebellion against the deities and tonight's murder, I hope to be distracted enough to forgo thinking. I would like to spend time with someone tonight, though... I've been alone so often that I almost feel unreal.

I wonder if the dead can disappear. If no one can see or hear us, and no one thinks about us, do we fade?

Apr. 12th, 2009
Easter brings Justin back to life for the first time.

This curse is amazing, even if the event it's commemorating never happened outside of the minds of believers. My heart's beating, my skin's warm, I need to breathe--just amazing. When I was alive before, it was easy to take those things for granted. Now, though... have you ever watched the blood flowing underneath your fingernails? Have you ever tried to hold your breath until you passed out, only to find that your body interferes when you approach the edge of unconsciousness? And I can feel everything! Not numbly, but--

And drinking? Drinking isn't the same when you're dead. I don't know how being dead inside the City affects our physiology, but it makes it more difficult to feel really... really drunk. I didn't notice that until today.

This is the best Easter I can remember. Thank you, Christians. Your beliefs are asinine, but thank you.

Apr. 22nd, 2009
Rain encourages reflection and heavy drinking.

Instead of doing something I should do, I'm thinking. It's a good day for that, with the rain. Other people have been complaining about it on the network, but I like it. I put some of my plants outside to enjoy the weather.

The rain and recent departures keeps making me think of that verse from Comedy of Errors. What I told Abby about her two friends--how people like that are one person instead of two, and one goes where the other goes--cheered her up, I think. I didn't tell her that that kind of unity can be destroyed, leaving behind two half-persons instead of a single one. The line from Shakespeare...

“I to the world am like a drop of water
That in the ocean seeks another drop,
Who, falling there to find his fellow forth,
Unseen, inquisitive, confounds himself.”

Unremarkable, invisible, lost in an ocean of identically unremarkable drops. Some people say you can't be alone when you're surrounded by people, but loneliness seldom fails to be at its worst in a crowd--especially when that crowd obscures you entirely. One drop of water can't be picked out of an ocean.

Richard might have been right when he implied that he was the only one who could pick me out of that ocean. He saw more to me than I could--more than I can, even now--and didn't mind the flaws and shadows. He knew things about me that I doubt I can ever tell Abby or Shilo. We never really talked about them--the things we hid inside ourselves--but we didn't need to. We were transparent to one another, and that's why it was frustrating. It's impossible to lie to someone when they can see your mental workings... find every word in your mind in one look.

Things haven't been that way with anyone else. I doubt that Abby or Shilo truly know me, shadows and all. How can they? They don't have that darkness in them--that potential for evil. Road can see that in me. I'm not afraid of her because she can see what I try to hide, though; I'm afraid because I see the same evil in her. She doesn't mask it, but it's the same thing. I need someone to see and accept that potential for evil, and she's the only one who can.

Last night, someone on the network asked about good and evil. "Do you think that even if you've done bad things, you can be a good person? How do you decide if someone's a good person or a bad person?" I couldn't reply, but I can't stop thinking about it.

Can I be a good person? Can I, in spite of the things I did and the ability I possess to do those things again? Murder was an abstract concept then--an idea, not an evil act. Once I had done it, though, it was real. I know that I am capable of killing, and that's not something that will disappear. Maybe I won't do anything like that again. I don't want to; thinking about choking that woman makes me sick. When I dream about it, I hate myself for doing it--for doing it for Richard to prove that I could follow my own flawed ideology. Sometimes I wish he would have killed me like I killed her. Guilt is crippling. I didn't lie when I said that we needed to pay for what we did.

For what we can do.

I want to think I'm different now--free of dogmatic philosophies, at least--but the fact remains that I can kill. I may kill in the future, under the right circumstances. That evil still exists.

We did pay, though--both of us. I don't know which of us paid the most. If life were fair, I would have died first and Richard would have gone on trial; he was stronger than me. He could exist without me. We were two halves of a single person, but he was the strong half. He would have enjoyed the media circus of the court, and he would have said something pithy prior to his execution. Richard would have fought every inch of the way. All I could do was confess.

Richard's funeral was on a rainy day. I was allowed to attend, although Cassie and the other officer went with me. It was closed-casket... there wasn't much left to Richard after he fell on the rocks. His family glared at me through the whole service. Their lawyer had this story. I was the killer. I lured poor Richard into my scheme, played with his mind, controlled him. His family believed it. I think my mother believed it. Even Lisa might have been convinced by the end of the final court session. He would have hated that. If anything, Richard would have wanted the credit; he would have wanted to be the one in control.

They had it wrong, anyway. Neither of us could be in complete control.

I almost laughed at the funeral. Almost. They made Richard out to be a saint and a helpless victim when he was anything but. I know he would have laughed, if he had been there.

I wonder what my funeral was like--if my dad came back for it, if my mother bothered going. If Lisa went. If no one went. If it was open-casket or closed, if anyone cried, if anyone thought about missing me. If it was raining.

Richard was here when I first came. I was mad at him then. He had talked, he had taken the bullets out of his gun, he had fired the shot at Cassie. I wonder if he hated me for taking the bullet for her. At the time, it seemed like the only way to keep him from making our situation worse; killing someone random is one thing, but murdering a police officer is another. I thought we could surrender. It was cowardly, but it would have put an end to some of the guilt. I don't regret dying--both of us deserved it. I regret the way we died. We were in it together, and we should have died together. We should have at least had a chance to talk.

I can't be mad at him anymore. He was who he was, I was who I was, and we accepted that. It was easy being mad at someone who was present.

On the network, people mourn when their friends return home. I don't understand why, when they'll likely get to see them again. Even if their friends were from other universes, they can at least know that they're happier back home. That's a loss that can be rationalized and overcome. How can the loss of half of myself be rationalized?

It hurts. Pretending I don't miss him hurts. Hiding that potential for evil--it's hard. While I've been in the City, I've built a new Justin--a Justin separate from Richard who can function independently, forgive himself, and escape the suspicion that redemption is little more than wishful thinking. Sometimes I feel like I'm really that person. The philosophies are gone (I'm not reading it much anymore... poetry is easier), that world is gone, the Justin who killed is gone. It's nothing but a lie. A comforting lie, but still a lie. I'm still who I was--I'm still half of a person. Maybe I'm a better half of a person than I was, but that doesn't make me complete. I always was the weaker half.

I should know better than to think, drink, and type at the same time.


othersdie: are you exiled in those bottomless nights? (Default)
Justin Pendleton

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