The Thinking Man

Hello!  I am still working on the next post.  It’s coming along and short of something going terribly wrong, it should be up tomorrow.  But in the mean time I decided to post something I’ve had done for a few months and just didn’t post because I felt bad working on a short story instead of the posts I was so far behind on.  But I decided that that was stupid since it’s already done, so it’s not like posting it is going to cut into my time to write.

So here is a quick short that I wrote a while back specifically to post here.  Most of my writing is from the viewpoint of the villain, and this is no exception.  I hope you enjoy it!

 

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A tall, lean man stood before a group of ten men arranged in two straight rows, all who wore heavy combat gear. The man’s face was half covered by a dark mask, a trench coat hanging loosely from his shoulders, and a black bowler cap atop his head. He wore fingerless gloves on his hands, one of which held a two-way radio a few inches from his face.

“Alright, people, listen up! This could score us enough to install that pool you’ve all been asking for, so let’s do it right and fast! Team A, are you in place?” He pressed a finger hard against the ‘talk’ button as he spoke.

“We’re in place, sir! Ready to go at your signal,” came the reply from the radio.

“Are we ready?” He asked the men standing before him, speaking loudly enough to ensure that everyone could hear him.

“Yes, sir!” They replied in unison.

The man smiled proudly. “Team A, proceed when ready!”

He turned away from the men in the room and looked to a large building visible through the window behind him. The darkness of the building’s rooftop above the dull streetlights made it hard to see, but he could still make out some movement, which let him know that his people were doing what he’d ordered. He watched the shadowy figures move across the roof, then turned back to those in the room with him.

“Team B, file out!”

The squad made an about face and marched briskly out of the room. The man in the bowler hat followed behind them, his stride much less urgent than theirs as they moved out of the building and into the one across the street that Team A was stationed on.

The building had a Roman design, the entrance flanked with large marble columns, and huge banners displayed the themes of the different exhibits in the museum inside. The men passed through the main doors, walked past all the unmanned ticket stations, and continued straight ahead to the ‘Featured Exhibit’ section. As they made their way to their destination, they could see the ticket booth’s cashier, tied and gagged, panicking on the floor. Her cash drawer was open and empty.

“STAND AGAINST THE BACK WALL!” The men shouted at the small number of patrons scattered throughout the exhibit, drawing their various weapons and pointing them aggressively at anyone who dared move in the wrong direction.

The man in the bowler hat strode in behind them, the same proud smile still on his face. He looked around, finding the number of patrons present to be quite odd. He had planned his raid for around closing time because he knew the crowds would be thinner then, but he had still been expecting more people; as it was, there were hardly more civilians than he had men. That was good news. He continued to survey the room, looking first at the security cameras, and then studying the pieces that were on display around him. His eyes widened with momentary panic, and his mouth set to an angry grimace as he looked around the room, taking in all the things that his brain told him he should not be seeing. The featured exhibits in the museum were always dimly lit to highlight the pieces, but he should have noticed right away that something wasn’t right.

He ran to the closest patron and grabbed his face. The poor man twitched, letting out a small, strangled squeak of surprise before he froze completely, his eyes lighting up with terror. They darted around frantically, from the face of the man before him to his own still limbs, and then to the people around him, who were all staring at him with expressions of confusion and fear. It took him a moment to realize that his eyes were the only part of himself that he could still move.

The man in the bowler hat closed his eyes and took a deep breath, his fingers tightening ever so slightly on his victim’s face as he attempted to control his emotions. He hadn’t intended to paralyze the man, but he had grown too angry to control his power.

“I apologize; I got a little carried away,” he said, forcing an impatient smile. “But would you be so kind as to tell me why there are no Egyptian pieces on display?”

He forced the man’s mouth open so he could speak.

“Please leave him alone!” The woman beside him pleaded. He reached over to her with his other hand and touched her arm, without ever taking his eyes off of the man in front of him. The woman twitched and froze, stuck leaning back in the awkward position she’d contorted herself into as she tried to escape his grasp.

“I am not a patient man. Answer my question.”

“Tha ezibi lef ova tha wee-en,” the man answered, trying to speak as clearly as he could without the use of his lips. Tears of fear welled up in his eyes as he watched the anger grow in his captor’s.

“It left over the weekend?” He seethed.

“Yuh,” the paralyzed man confirmed.

He let go of the man’s face, leaving him and the woman beside him standing frozen in their very uncomfortable looking positions. He didn’t give them another thought as he looked around the room again, appraising the situation. There was nothing in the room worth as much as even the smallest pieces from the exhibit he had planned to raid. He touched a few of the statues that stood around the corner from the entrance, and could immediately tell that they were nothing more than replicas.

“Dammit, Steve!” He yelled, as he returned to the entrance. Steve looked terrified, despite that he was carrying a revolver while his boss was unarmed. “You were supposed to be paying attention to this stuff! How could you miss the end date of the fucking exhibit?! I thought you said you had this shit under control!”

“I-I-I…” he stammered, looking around at the others, trying desperately to find an excuse. “I thought it was next week…”

The boss’s anger deflated into exasperation as he rested his left elbow in his right hand and began rubbing his eyes with his left. He knew he should have double checked the information himself, but he hadn’t thought his second in command would fuck up something as straightforward as when the exhibit was leaving. He was about to speak again when he heard a commotion outside the exhibit.

“Oh, what now?” He asked, looking at the entrance, then at Steve. “What the hell are you waiting for? Make yourself useful and go find out what’s going on!”

Steve jumped and bolted out the door. The boss began assessing the pieces in the exhibit, trying to decide if there were any worth taking. He had spent the last few weeks lining up buyers for Egyptian pieces; they would not be pleased. He had to find something to keep them from abandoning him for the next job, at the very least. Perhaps some of the smaller pieces were genuine and might be worth something.

He moved from the entrance displays to the sculptures around the corner, and then on to the paintings, at which point he heard a thud, followed by something squeaking across the floor back by the entrance. He headed back cautiously, unsure what to expect. Whoever was interrupting his heist had taken a while to beat his minion, so it couldn’t be the city’s main hero, but who else would be dumb or bored enough to bother with his fairly low level job?

When he got back in view of the entrance, the boss was able to see that all the non-paralyzed patrons had backed away from the entrance, where Steve’s twitching – thus still alive – body now lay. His remaining men had their weapons at the ready and were watching the door. Whoever it was seemed to be trying to build tension for his entrance, so the man watched the door, waiting for the nuisance to show himself. He had guessed that it would be a low level hero, but he was still surprised to see a teenager in jeans, a t-shirt, and a cheap costume mask walk in. He rolled his eyes. This job was not worth so much annoyance.

“Jim, Gary, Dave: Go.” Three of the remaining nine men ran from the patrons to the invader. The boss watched, his expression impassive, arms clasped behind his back.

The boy looked at him with vicious glee. He let the first man, Jim, punch him without taking his eyes off the boss. The man’s punch seemed to have no impact at all. The other two men paused before striking, but Jim continued his useless assault, swinging his nightstick as hard as he could into the boy’s stomach. It still had no effect. Confusion and fear welled up in the man, so he stopped attacking for a moment, which was just long enough for the boy to turn and punch him square in the chest, with enough force to throw him to the other side of the room. The other two men took a step back, looking at each other with apprehension. Dave looked down at Steve, noticing that Steve’s gun was still in his hand, while Gary looked to Dave and saw what he was looking at. Both men looked back at their target briefly before simultaneously diving for the gun.

The team had primarily brought weapons that would be less likely to catch the attention of anyone outside the exhibit who might contact the police, since they were only planning to target and secure one exhibit, but now they regretted that decision. The boss made a note to bring more guns next time anyway, just in case. His men were fairly disciplined as far as minions went; he supposed if they survived this, it was probably time to trust them.

The teen seemed to fear the gun, as he rushed to get it away from the men before they could use it on him. He kicked at the henchman closest to him, but it didn’t have the same force as his punch had had. It did distract the boy long enough for Dave to get the gun, however, so he snatched it up from the floor and pointed it at the teen.

“Stop! I will shoot you! What the hell did you do to Team A?” Dave yelled. Team A were the ones who usually distracted any would-be heroes while Team B made off with the goods, but they weren’t used to dealing with much more than scared civilians.

The teen moved quicker than the henchman’s frayed nerves would allow him to. Dave fired a shot at the boy, but the bullet ended up in the wall. A few of the patrons screamed and covered their heads. The boss made another note to instruct his men to shoot first and ask questions later. He was becoming increasingly annoyed at the spectacle in front of him.

“You shouldn’t hesitate, dumbass! You’re never gonna get me that way!” The teen taunted as he tackled the man with the gun, grabbing the weapon and throwing it out the door. The henchman fought back, kneeing the boy in the stomach. That action had as little effect as Jim’s punch had, but at that moment, Gary came up behind him and struck him hard across the back with one of the metal stanchions that held the ropes surrounding the displays.

“Is that all you’ve got?” The teen asked, picking up the man beneath him and throwing him hard into the man with the pole. Both men ended up on the other side of the room. “Oh, come on; I expected more of a fight than this!” The boy laughed as he brushed off his t-shirt.
The remaining men looked to their boss for guidance. He held up a hand, indicating that they should stay where they were, then walked toward the smiling teen.

“Oh, so you’re finally going to come at me yourself? You think you can do any better than your henchmen? Least they’re wearin’ armour!”
The boss was getting sick of the boy’s cocky grin. He decided to remove it.

“I imagine most people assume your powers are invulnerability and strength; am I right?” His voice echoed around the room as he walked. His men were watching him intently, so some of the smarter patrons took the opportunity to run out the door. The boss didn’t particularly care about them anymore, so he held up his hand again when one of his men moved to chase after them.

“Yeah, that’s right,” the teen replied, puffing up his chest.

“They’re wrong, though, correct?”

The teen looked puzzled.

“That’s not your power, is it?” He asked again.

“What the hell makes you think that?”

“Well, the fact that when you kicked Gary when he was diving for the gun, you didn’t send him flying. The times you did hit with strength were only after you’d been hit yourself. When you came in, you just stood here and let them hit you. You may be just a show-off, but judging from the effort you put into your…uh, disguise,” distaste dripped off the word as he waved a hand at the boy’s outfit. “Well, I’m guessing that showing off isn’t really what you came here to do. No, I think it’s more likely that you collect the kinetic energy of your attackers and use it to raise the strength of your attacks. Am I close?” He mimicked the cocky grin the teen had flashed him only moments before.

The boy looked nervous, but he stood his ground. He attempted to smile confidently, though he wasn’t very successful.

“You’re way off. I just kick even harder than I hit, and I didn’t wanna kill him.”

“Sure you did,” the boss said, now face to face with the boy. He reached out a hand and patted him on the shoulder condescendingly. “Now, do you know what I just did to you?”

The teen twitched once, then froze. Panic filled his eyes.

“Oh, don’t worry, it wears off. That couple over there,” he said, pointing at the man and woman he had paralyzed earlier who were still frozen in place, “I paralyzed them a few minutes ago. They’ll be able to move normally by juuust about the time I get out of here, which will leave you a few more minutes after that. But for now, because I’ve been having a very bad day, we’re going to have a little fun.”

He turned to his men, surveying the damage around him. He pointed at two of his henchmen and motioned for them to help their injured comrades. He pointed at two more, then at what he had decided was worth taking. He looked at the remaining two henchmen and smiled.

~~~

“This is the police! Hands in the air!”

The Villain Response Team filed through the entrance to the exhibit, low and ready to attack, and looked around the room. All the patrons had fled, and the villain and his men were long gone, a few of the more valuable pieces from the exhibit gone along with them. The team cautiously lowered their weapons. They were too late.

“Fan out; look for any of them that didn’t get away, or any sign of where they went!” The leader called out. He walked further into the exhibit, keeping an eye out in case any of the thieves were still hiding somewhere, and checking for any injured civilians. He turned to look into the second room of the exhibit, and there, framed perfectly by the entryway, was the teen…seated in the position of The Thinking Man.

Q&A: Bad experiences

“What was your most disappointing sexual experience?”

So let me tell you about my old cat.  I got him a few months after my first cat passed away.  My family also had a rather rambunctious, and full sized, German Shepard at the time, and when I got my cat he could fit in the palm of my hand.  And I have always been the over protective sort, so of course I kept him away from the dog, despite how much he wanted to cuddle with her (he was never the most intelligent cat in the world.  The dog hated him for a long time, but he kept trying to snuggle…) and basically I inadvertently made him a massive coward who would come to me over every little thing.  Scared of his own shadow, that cat.  Even after he grew massive and could beat the dog in a fight, every time a car horn honked he was in my lap.

I loved that cat.  He was so friendly, the last vet to ever look at him said she’d never met a cat that would cuddle after surgery.  He just wanted everyone to love him all the time.  He was terrified of gerbils, he would just watch flies float away instead of catching and killing them.  And he was terrified of confined spaces.  It was physically impossible to get him into a cat carrier.  Both my dad and I (when we were both in good shape) tried together one day when we were trying to show the house to sell it so he wouldn’t be in the way, and we failed miserably, and ended up bloody.  It was not a pretty sight.

Whenever I would be in a room with the door closed, like, the bathroom for instance, or if I closed my bedroom door to change while he had happened to be outside the room, he would freak out.  He would start crying and trying to get the door open.  Damn near succeeded a few times.  He was a surprisingly smart cat for how dumb he came across most of the time.

Oh, you were expecting that story to go somewhere weren’t you?  Yeah, no, I’m not talking about my love life on the internet.  See you next time!

Check out The Llama’s answer to this question where she doesn’t bait and switch!

The Host Review: Vanished (Ch 41)

Hey look I’m still alive!  It’s a miracle!

Stephen-colbert-celebration-gifAnd now I have to get back to The Host…

Well that took the air out of my... duck.

Well that took the air out of my… duck.

This chapter starts with Wanderer describing how long Ian sits there in silence with her.  Apparently they sit there for 3 days, with Ian only getting up to get food and water that Wanderer never touches.  After Ian finally clues in that she’s not eating on purpose, he joins her little hunger strike.  I have issues with this.

She does state that when he would leave she would ‘relieve herself’ in the sulphur pools, but she doesn’t state that she drinks the water.  Three days is the exact length of time it takes for you to literally die of dehydration.  By day 2 she would have been so thirsty she would drink her own urine if she had to.  Especially since it’s been displayed that Wanderer has practically no self-control.  Mourning would not make her not die from refusing to drink the water.

She goes on about how when she needs to sleep she purposefully makes herself uncomfortable.  This goes back to what I was talking about many chapters ago, how Wanderer seems to display a desire for self-flagellation.  This, as I have said many times in the past, is ridiculous and not something you should strive to emulate.  You cannot punish yourself for the actions of others, and you shouldn’t seek out punishment for your thoughts and feelings (she appears to be punishing herself for having to feel human emotions).  It’s a sign of a deeply ill person (or one who happens to be into kinky sex, no judgement if that’s your thing, I’m talking about the ones who don’t get sexual gratification from being told they’re naughty).

The first night, because Ian is a horrible human being that doesn’t AT ALL understand how Wanderer thinks or feels, she wakes up cradled in his lap and she freaks the fuck out for good reason.  Apparently her reaction was so harsh that he actually DID get the message.  Good for her.

On day three, he begs her to eat, and touches her again, to which she again flinches violently.  Ian does not fucking learn.  I’ve known guys like this.  They think ‘don’t touch me’ just means ‘try harder’.  This is not what it means.  I have never met a girl who says ‘don’t touch me’ when they mean ‘please give me a hug’.  Ever.  And if you have, that still doesn’t mean that that’s what EVERY girl (or even most) means when she says that.  Golly gee, women are people too, with unique personalities and thoughts of their very own!  And when they make it violently clear that they don’t want to be touched, IT USUALLY MEANS THEY DON’T WANT TO BE TOUCHED!

Kindly fuck off

“Please don’t hate me. I’m so sorry. If I’d known… I would have stopped them. I won’t let it happen again.”

Except you DID know.  I know you knew because you tried to stop her from going down there instead of going down there yourself and telling them they’re awful.  You weren’t concerned with the moral implications, you were only concerned with what Wanderer might think if she saw it.  If you cared about the morals you would have gone down there and told them to stop.  You would have told them to go fuck themselves for being insensitive pricks.  You’d have called Doc out on the Hippocratic oath (First do no harm).  You’d have called Jared out on risking Melanie’s life by potentially getting Wanderer to hate them and find a way to turn them all in.  But no, you just used it as an excuse to stay close to Wanderer, because that’s all you give a shit about you selfish douchebag.

He would never stop them. He was just one among many. And, as Jared had said, he’d had no objections before. I was the enemy. Even in the most compassionate, humankind’s limited scope of mercy was reserved for their own.

Oh please, tell that to my cat.  Or the fish I made my parents help me build a coffin for and bury in the yard instead of flushing him down the toilet.  Or the dog my dad was so attached to he spent thousands of dollars in vet bills and took her to a doggy dermatologist when all else failed to try and find out what was wrong with her instead of just putting her down.  Or the police dog in the city I live in that got stabbed in the line of duty and people were calling for the assailant to be tried for full blown murder over the dog’s death.  Tell the people who go out and risk their lives attacking whaling boats that they only care about other human beings (I neither endorse nor support the attacking of whaling boats.  The fact that they’re horrible doesn’t mean they aren’t a good example of empathy and compassion for non-humans).

The average person would lose their shit if someone hurt this baby sloth.

The average person would lose their shit if someone hurt this baby sloth.

I can think of millions of examples of people caring more about pets and wild animals than their fellow man.  The fact is, in this books universe, Wanderer’s species attacked and for all intents and purposes, brutally murdered almost the entirety of mankind.  Sorry if I don’t have a lot of sympathy for the fact that a few of them get killed trying to find a way to save mankind.  And Wanderer can go fuck herself for thinking that means humans lack compassion for anything non-human.  They simply lack compassion for the species that committed genocide against them.

I knew Doc could never intentionally inflict pain on another person. I doubted he would even be capable of watching such a thing, tender as his feelings were. But a worm, a centipede? Why would he care about the agony of a strange alien creature? Why would it bother him to murder a baby–slowly, slicing it apart piece by piece–if it had no human mouth to scream with?

Pretty sure I established that Doc was crying over what was done.  Pretty sure that means he DID care, and it DID bother him.  Though not sure how she expects them to be able to tell what the hell the difference between a baby and an adult is when they can’t see them until they’re extracted and they all act relatively similarly.

“I should have told you,” Ian whispered.

Would it have mattered if I’d simply been told rather than having seen the tortured remains for myself? Would the pain be less strong?

Anyone that genuinely believes there’s no difference between finding out someone died and being there to see it themselves, has clearly never witnessed a death.  There is a massive difference.  Especially when the death is violent as it was in this case.  The pain would still be immense, but it would in no way be comparable.

Ian got up and walked quietly away.

I could make no sense of my emotions. In that moment, I hated the body I was bound to. How did it make sense that his going depressed me? Why should it pain me to have the solitude I craved? I wanted the monster back, and that was plainly wrong.

It’s been several days since the event, he’s been there the whole time without hurting you.  You have had time to absorb the event and the shock is wearing off.  It is in no way unreasonable to not want to be alone when mourning a death, even if you feel like you should be, or that since you’re not talking, it shouldn’t matter.  Humans are a social species, and we long for groups.  Even if we hate the people around us, most people would rather not be alone.  It’s not wrong.  Especially since everything implied about the aliens, they’re a social species as well.  So it would be odd for her to genuinely prefer loneliness to sympathetic company.  She just comes off as a petty child the way she put that.

petty-and-tiny

Shortly after Ian disappears, Jeb comes sauntering in with a lamp that he flashes in her face.  This amuses me because I hate Wanderer and I enjoy seeing her suffer for her stupidity.  He sits down beside her hole in the wall and asks if she plans to starve herself in a non-chalant, almost cheery way.

I glared at the stone floor.

If I was being honest with myself, I knew that my mourning was over. I had grieved. I hadn’t known the child or the other soul in the cave of horrors. I could not grieve for strangers forever. No, now I was angry.

Yes, we gathered that with all your petty comments about monsters.

“You wanna die, there are easier and faster ways.”

As if I wasn’t aware of that.

“So give me to Doc, then,” I croaked.

Jeb wasn’t surprised to hear me speak. He nodded to himself, as if this was exactly what he’d known would come out of my mouth.

Yes, I too expected a childish response that completely ignores their justification for what they did and the knowledge she should reasonably have that he would never do the same to her and why that would be.  It’s pretty easy to tell how a simple person will react to something too complicated for them to understand.

It is surprisingly difficult to not be a condescending dick to Wanderer at this point in the book.

It is surprisingly difficult to not be a condescending dick to Wanderer at this point in the book.

“Did you expect us to just give up, Wanderer?” Jeb’s voice was stern and more serious than I had ever heard it before. “We have a stronger survival instinct than that. Of course we want to find a way to get our minds back. It could be any one of us someday. So many people we love are already lost.

“It isn’t easy. It nearly kills Doc each time he fails–you’ve seen that. But this is our reality, Wanda. This is our world. We’ve lost a war. We are about to be extinct. We’re trying to find ways to save ourselves.”

She may have seen the effect on Doc, but she doesn’t seem to give a shit, so I wouldn’t bother mentioning it.  God forbid you kill the things that killed your kind.  How dare you retaliate and try and get your home back!  How dare you try and find a way to free the people trapped inside their own bodies!  You evil evil people!

For the first time, Jeb spoke to me as if I were a soul and not a human. I had a sense that the distinction had always been clear to him, though. He was just a courteous monster.

Oh for fucks sake, GET A THESAURUS ALREADY!  And go fuck yourself while you’re at it!

I couldn’t deny the truth of what he was saying, or the sense of it. The shock had worn off, and I was myself again. It was in my nature to be fair.

Tom Laughing

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA, good one!  Yeah, you were SOOOO fair to Doc earlier, and calling Jeb a monster for essentially doing to your people what they did to his, while believing that your people have a right to have done so, that’s completely fair.  And your behaviour towards the Seeker earlier in the book, that was totally fair right?  And Kathy?  And quitting your job with no notice because you wanted to kill Melanie, that was fair too right?  And constantly not listening to Melanie simply because you didn’t like her, totally fair.  Cutting your hair short to piss her off, telling Seeker about Jamie, all just spectacularly fair.  Reverting to thinking of the humans as awful the chapter after Walt’s death where you admitted your species was wrong, that was justified.  Yup, you’re just so fair!

Some few of these humans could see my side of things; Ian, at least. Then I, too, could consider their perspective. They were monsters, but maybe monsters who were justified in what they were doing.

‘Some few’?  I can’t tell if that’s a grammatical error or just one of those ‘it’s technically right, but…’ situations.  Also, Ian DOESN’T see your side of things, he just doesn’t want you to hate him.  Don’t get sucked in!  It’s too late for that though, isn’t it?  And calling them monsters for doing something you think is justifiable is kind of backhanded and stupid, so you should probably just piss off and accept that maybe you were WRONG.

Of course they would think violence was the answer. They wouldn’t be able to imagine any other solution. Could I blame them that their genetic programming restricted their problem-solving abilities in this way?

EXCUSE me?!  What?!  What the hell else did you expect them to do?!  Open up peace negotiations?!  Your species kills or implants them on sight!  They kill themselves AND their host the second they see a human if they don’t have a means of defense!  HOW EXACTLY DO YOU WANT THEM TO RESPOND!?  Surgery ISN’T violent by nature!  They drugged them and attempted to extract the aliens inside!  You make it sound like they bashed these people over the head, ripped the aliens out and then beat them against the wall!  That is NOT WHAT HAPPENED!

I cleared my throat, but my voice was still hoarse with disuse. “Hacking up babies won’t save anyone, Jeb. Now they’re all dead.”

He was quiet for a moment. “We can’t tell your young from your old.”

“No, I know that.”

What pineapple express

Then why did you make it sound like that makes them so much worse when they had no way of knowing, and you KNOW they have no way of knowing?

“Your kind don’t spare our babies.”

“We don’t torture them, though. We never intentionally cause anyone pain.”

“You do worse than that. You erase them.”

“You do both.”

Really?  You don’t think what you did to Melanie was torture?  I beg to differ.  But if you say you don’t intentionally cause pain, then you should acknowledge that they didn’t either.  They were trying to extract the aliens, not kill anyone.  They failed.  Failure is obviously not intentional.  If you’ll make the distinction for your species you should make it for the humans too.  Otherwise you’re still a massive hypocrite.  Not that I expected anything different.

She goes on about how the threads of the aliens shred the humans’ brains as soon as they try and remove them.  Jeb confirms, and says it’s hard to watch.  Thus showing her that violence is as unpalatable to humans as it is to her, they only do it because they HAVE to.  But of course she doesn’t acknowledge that, and just goes on about how stupid they are for having tried it at all, saying it’s all so simple they should have known.  But how the hell would they know that?  They were trying to save the lives of the humans from the alien species that enslaved them the only way they could possibly have known how, and experimenting in an attempt to get closer to the answer that would solve the riddle. That’s what humans do. That’s what ALL intelligent species do.  Humans, apes, birds, dolphins… This is the process of learning.

We don’t all have the luxury of just getting to steal knowledge from other species that have already gone through all these learning processes. But if I recall correctly, she stated earlier in the book that in order to get medications that cured all ills they abducted humans and experimented on them.  That’s somehow NOT torture?  They never had ONE ‘patient’ that died in that process?  No one ever got so scared they killed themselves to escape the giant spider aliens that were experimenting on them?  Oh, but Wanderer wasn’t there for that!  So while if she actually stopped to think about it for 5 whole seconds she would realize her species is no better, she’s never actually HAD to stop and think about it for 5 whole seconds so it never occurred to her!

the finger

“Jeb, we are relatively tiny creatures, utterly dependent on unwilling hosts. We wouldn’t have lasted very long if we didn’t have some defenses.”

‘Unwilling’ is the important word there.

“I’m not denying that your kind have a right to those defenses. I’m just telling you that we’re gonna keep fighting back, however we can. We don’t mean to cause anyone pain. We’re makin’ this up as we go. But we will keep fighting.”

We looked at each other.

“Then maybe you should have Doc slice me up. What else am I good for?”

“Now, now. Don’t be silly, Wanda. We humans aren’t so logical as all that. We have a greater range of good and bad in us than you do. Well, maybe mostly the bad.”

I nodded at that, but he kept going, ignoring me.

Oh for fucks sake Jeb!  It’s not ‘mostly the bad’!  The bad is NOT the default!  Kyle is bad.  Ian is bad (though no one in the book will EVER admit that) other than that everyone is just doing what they think is RIGHT.  YOU JUST SAID YOURSELF that you didn’t INTEND to hurt the aliens!  You just wanted those people to have their bodies back!  That’s NOT *bad*!  And Wanderer is a massive bitch for agreeing that they’re evil!

Jeb rambles on about how people put those they know above those they don’t as though that’s some kind of human flaw.  This irritates me.  We do that because you can’t trust someone that’s going to abandon you because you mean no more to them than anyone else.  You can’t build a society in a world where no one values the people around them strongly.  If you can just up and walk away from your family because you decide to give being a part of a different family a try, then bonds can’t be built and societies can’t function.  It’s feeling a strong desire to be with and protect your loved ones that builds communities.  It is a biological imperative to encourage people to raise their kids, and help raise the next generation.  There’s nothing at all inherently illogical about it!  If you’re looking at it from a strictly mathematical view, then yeah, one life is worth one life.  But the system is SO MUCH more complicated than that.

Let me put it this way.  Octopi are incredibly intelligent animals.  They can solve complex puzzles, they can learn from one another, and they can use tools, like humans.  So why haven’t octopi taken over the world?  Because they have no social bonds.  They have to learn everything from scratch, they don’t teach the new generation everything they know like we do, so the next generation can’t expand on the species base knowledge.  They’re capable of learning from one another, experiments have proved that.  But after they hatch out of the eggs, the mother dies and the father doesn’t give a shit about their existence.  So away they go, to learn everything their parents already figured out, starting from scratch.  That’s why bonds matter, from an evolutionary perspective.

He is just one loving parent away from world domination.

He is just one loving parent away from world domination.

Wanderer does actually bring up the only valid point she makes in the entire conversation; that it’s unreasonable of them to expect her to just sit back while they murder her kind.  And since she knows they can’t let her leave, and she can’t sit around while they do that, she says they might as well just kill her and get it over with.

Jeb agrees that her point is valid, but says rather than kill her they’ll just make sure not to do that anymore while she’s around.  He says Doc can’t handle doing it anymore anyway as it upsets him too much.  This of course means nothing to Wanderer as she basically hates Doc now despite what she said about how they have a special connection after Walt’s death and the fact that it wasn’t Doc’s idea, and Doc was by far the most upset by it, but Ian, Jared, Jeb and Kyle she’s fine with, it’s just Doc who gets the stigma attached to him.  Because that makes total sense right?

I took a deep breath, trying to think. I wasn’t sure if we’d come to an accommodation or not. Nothing made sense in this body. I liked the people here too much. They were friends. Monstrous friends that I couldn’t see in the proper light while sunk in emotion.

I hate Wanderer so much.

Jeb finally gets her drinking some water and then Ian comes in, and she complains about feeling guilty for having caused Ian so much pain by ‘hurting herself’.  Because she’s so noble and caring right?  She just has no empathy at all so she can’t understand anyone’s perspective but her own, including the perspective of the person living inside her head whose memories she shares.  She didn’t care he was in pain when she was mad at him, and now he’s still a ‘monster’ but she feels guilty about making him suffer because if she didn’t then the reader might realize she’s not actually selfless and caring at all, she’s actually a self centered bitch.

“Sorry,” I whispered.

He turned his hand up to hold mine. “Don’t apologize to me.”

“I should have known. Jeb’s right. Of course you fight back. How can I blame you for that?”

“It’s different with you here. It should have stopped.”

But my being here had only made it that much more important to solve the problem. How to rip me out and keep Melanie here. How to erase me to bring her back.

“All’s fair in war,” I murmured, trying to smile.

He grinned weakly back. “And love. You forgot that part.”

I find so much wrong with this exchange I’m not even sure I can talk about it…  I’m hoping by now the part of her reaction doesn’t need me to explain why it’s awful, but, that last line?  I think that deserves to be talked about.

Lets get down to business

In this context, he’s implying that it’s fair for him to use her trauma to get her to like him.  It’s fair for him to use this as an opportunity to make himself look better compared to Jared so she will love him instead.  That is what he is saying there.  ‘It’s different with you here, it should have stopped’, followed by ‘all’s fair in love’, he’s literally saying that she should interpret Jared as her enemy and him as her knight in shining armour.  Because he is a selfish dick who just wants to look good to her so he can fuck her.  He does not care AT ALL about her species, only her.  He’s not saying it should have stopped because it was wrong, or they should have realized it wouldn’t work, he is ONLY saying it shouldn’t happen because of her presence.

“Okay, break it up,” Jeb mumbled. “I’m not done here.”

Jeb doesn’t like the way Ian treats her either.

I looked at him curiously. What more was there?

“Now.” He took a deep breath. “Try not to freak out again, okay?” he asked, looking at me. I froze, gripping Ian’s hand tighter. Ian threw an anxious glance at Jeb.

“You’re going to tell her?” Ian asked.

“What now?” I gasped. “What is it now?

Jeb had his poker face on. “It’s Jamie.”

Those two words turned the world upside down again.

For three long days, I’d been Wanderer, a soul among humans. I was suddenly Wanda again, a very confused soul with human emotions that were too powerful to control.

So Ian knew that something was wrong with Jamie this whole time, but intentionally kept it from her.  And doesn’t want her to know, because he only just got her talking to him again and god forbid something distract her from him.  I’m sure his justification would be that she’s still so upset she can’t handle more bad news at the moment, but I’m pretty sure being upset doesn’t make all other bad things in the world stop happening and the average person would feel like shit if they didn’t know their loved one was seriously injured/sick/dying while they were off moping.  There is no justification for keeping it from her, and he’s a massive dick for doing so.

Also, again, go fuck yourself Wanderer.  You have never stopped being Wanderer, a soul among humans.  You have never stopped viewing them with distain, and you have never considered yourself one of them.  You have expressed numerous times how annoyed you are by having to suffer out their emotions and how frustrating it is that you care for them.  You aren’t confused, you’re annoyed.  Big difference.

This big

She freaks out and jumps up but gets woozy as her blood pressure would be quite low at the moment and jumping up suddenly would cause all the blood to rush from her head.  She doesn’t seem to have the other symptoms this would cause like losing the ability to see temporarily and falling into the wall because you can’t stand up straight under your own power, but whatever.

Jeb tells her to calm down, Jamie’s just upset and wants to know where she is and that she’s alright, and no one would let him check on her.  Because everyone in this cave apparently thinks keeping everything from him is the best way to go despite how that has not worked out at all.  He says that the wound on his leg is infected, but that he’ll be okay, and she should get something to eat and get cleaned up before she goes to see him.  Tells her that she’ll just upset him even more if she goes to him in the condition she’s in now, and obviously that’s not a good idea.

Jeb says he was here because Jared was getting impatient, ready to go in and forcibly remove Wanderer from her wallowing because Jamie’s health is more important than Wanderer’s mourning, and stress DOES affect your health, but Jeb wanted to try and get her to come along willingly before dragging her out.  Personally I wouldn’t grant her the kindness, but that’s only because I have to read all of her horrible, horrible thoughts.

“What’s being done?”

Jeb shrugged. “Nothin’ to do. Kid’s strong; he’ll fight it off.”

“Nothing to do? What do you mean?”

“It’s a bacterial infection,” Ian said. “We don’t have antibiotics anymore.”

“Because they don’t work–the bacteria are smarter than your medicines. There has to be something better, something else.”

Fuck Science

‘Don’t work’?!  Tell that to my abscessed tooth from after a filling fell out!  I was 24 hours from death (not exaggerating) by the time I got to a hospital (which was only 18 hours after I knew I was sick) and they put me on the strongest antibiotics available.  Within 24 more hours the infection was nearly gone and I went from high fever, nausea, vomiting, the inability to stand, barely able to breath, and barely able to move, to feeling practically back to normal.  Antibiotics work fucking miracles and you can go fuck yourself for suggesting otherwise.

And of course she’s soooo upset that she gets in ‘a daze’ and wanders off ‘mechanically’.  Because she didn’t just spend the last 3 days calling the whole human race, including Jamie, monsters who she wanted to escape from.  Yeah, yeah, shock wore off, blah blah blah.  She never admitted they weren’t monsters, just that she understood their flawed logic.  She still thinks they’re all awful.  She’s basically just tolerating them because she logically doesn’t have a choice.  She basically admitted she hates them, and only has emotions for them because of the body she’s trapped in.  But if she wasn’t upset over Jamie’s illness (which Jeb has made sound pretty damn minor) she would come off as heartless and the readers wouldn’t like her anymore, and she wouldn’t seem so selfless and perfect.  I hate this book.

“Knew she was gonna overreact,” Jeb grumbled.

“So why did you tell her?” Ian asked, frustrated.

Jeb didn’t answer. I wondered why he didn’t. Was this worse even than I imagined?

I would assume he didn’t answer because that’s a really stupid question.  Just because someone takes bad news badly doesn’t mean you can protect them from it.  As I stated earlier, Wanderer’s feelings matter a LOT less than Jamie’s HEALTH.  But again, Ian is only thinking about Wanderer.  No one else matters at all to him.  But he’s not even thinking about her long term feelings.  How would the supposedly selfless and caring Wanderer react to finding out that Jamie had been sick the whole time she was moping and she hadn’t been there to help?  After she got out of that funk she would probably take that pretty goddamn badly.  And you have no right to keep it from her.  It should have been her decision whether or not that was important enough to stop her mourning process to be with him, not theirs.  If my ward was seriously ill while I was mourning the death of a distant family member, I WOULD WANT TO KNOW!  What the FUCK is wrong with Ian that he thinks anything different?!

what-the-hell-is-wrong-with-you

Wanderer heads straight to Jamie’s room instead of the cafeteria to eat like Jeb suggested.  Remember, he suggested she get something to eat and get cleaned up so when she saw Jamie she wouldn’t stress him out and make him worse.  Jeb wanted Jamie to think Wanderer was okay so he wouldn’t panic.  Wanderer ignored that advice because SHE was so upset she HAD to see him for her OWN sanity.  Again, stress DOES affect recovery from illness, and Wanderer is ignoring Jamie’s mental and physical well-being to attend to her OWN needs, YET AGAIN.  I will also remind you that she KNEW he was injured BEFORE she holed up for THREE DAYS.  She didn’t ask how he was, she didn’t even WONDER.  No, she was too absorbed in her own emotions.  And now she’s doing the same thing again.  Her own feelings are the only ones that truly matter.  Everything is about her.

Wanderer has displayed EVERY SINGLE ONE of these behaviours in this chapter.

Wanderer has displayed EVERY SINGLE ONE of these behaviours in this chapter.

Apparently there’s a bunch of people in Jamie’s room crowding around him, which makes no sense to me at all.  Unless they legitimately think he’s dying I can’t understand why they would all be there.  And even if they DO believe he’s dying, they STILL shouldn’t all be there.  As far as I can tell from the description, the room isn’t that big and they do still have to work.  Not to mention the fact that while Jamie does seem to be well liked, it’s kind of weird for a bunch of unrelated adults to all crowd into a room with a dying boy, rather than letting his family and closest friends have a little privacy with him.

I was vaguely aware of Jared, leaning against the far wall with his hands clasped behind him–a posture he assumed only when he was really worried. Doc knelt beside the big bed where Jamie lay, just where I had left him.

Why had I left him?

Because you’re a self centered bitch that doesn’t understand that true empathy requires caring about other people even when you’re upset?

She sees that Jamie is looking sickly and the wound is red, Jamie’s face is red, and he’s not breathing well.

“Jamie, baby, how are you?”

“Stupid,” he said, grinning. “Just plain stupid. Can you believe this?” He gestured to his leg. “Of all the luck.”

Is it just me or does he sound like an old man there?  I don’t know any kids of ANY age that would word the situation like that.  The sentence structure comes off as ‘old man’ but the choice of the word ‘stupid’ seems childish, so maybe he’s just trying to sound older…

After she talks to Jamie a bit and takes back calling him a monster (words I will make her eat later in the book) he asks how Melanie is, hoping she’s not too worried about him.  She says of course Melanie is worried, but this is yet another of the many lies this supposedly terrible liar has successfully told.  She hasn’t spoken to Melanie in 3 days since she yelled at her.

She finally clues into that fact after she says that and realizes she said it by instinct rather than actually hearing it from Melanie.  Which means she actually lied instinctually.  The character who ‘can’t lie’ lies so proficiently that she doesn’t even have to think about it, it just happens.  Yup, she’s just the most perfect, nicest character ever in the history of fiction!

Best Liar Award

She panics over Melanie’s disappearance, and Jamie notices.  He gets worried that she doesn’t look healthy, saying she looks pale and weak, getting worried about her condition.  Just as Jeb warned her would happen.  AGAIN she lies through her teeth (without even having to make up some excuse to herself like she normally does when she lies) telling him that it’s just that she’s tired and hasn’t gotten clean in a while.  He tells her to eat, and she obviously doesn’t want to leave him, so Ian offers to go bring her and Jamie back some food.  She asks Ian to stay though, which justifiably throws him off since the last chapter she was basically telling him to fuck off with her body language.  But he agrees to stay and sends Wes off instead.

She asks Jamie if it’s okay if she goes and gets clean, and he of course assures her that it is.  She gets up and drags Ian off with her.  Everyone watches her, knowing she was up to something but confused as to what the hell it is, including Ian.

When they finally stop, Ian asks what the hell is up, and she asks if he’ll help her with something.  Of course he says he’ll do anything she wants, and she asks him to kiss her.  And that’s how the chapter ends.

I have nothing to say about this for now, because I’m going to save my rage about that for the next chapter.

See you then!

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