A Wintertime Tale of Asexuality

During a wintertime festival celebrating snowfall, Ash has to explain asexuality to ver mom.

I was walking down the cold winter street with my mom. We were at some sort of winter festival thing, where people got together to celebrate the snowfall, and subsequently the runoff that would supply us with water during the summer. I had only heard about it this year.

The festival always took place on the 21st of December, the winter solstice, every year. It didn’t matter if it had actually snowed or not, apparently, because this year there wasn’t any snow yet. Well, there was a bit on the mountains, but not any down here.

The festival took up about two blocks of the city, and the roads were filled with small vendors selling all sorts of things, as well as a few street musicians. They were mostly playing Christmas songs, which I found quite irksome, but it was nice that there was music anyway. I always liked hearing acoustic musicians, but could never actually find the time to go out and listen to any. I just wish they’d choose some song other than “Let It Snow.”

I saw a cart filled to the brim with books. I stopped and looked at it, while my mom walked ahead without noticing. Picking up one of the books, I noticed it was some schlocky romance between a city girl and a country boy. I put it down and picked up another. This one was a schlocky romance between an alien woman who crash landed on earth and a farm dude. Shaking my head, I grabbed a different book. If you couldn’t bear to guess it was schlocky romance. This one was between two detective girls though. Neat to see some queer representation, I guess.

“Ash, what are you looking at?” Mom shouted at me. I guess she noticed I fell behind.

“Oh, it was just some books. I thought I might find something cool, but it was all romance,” I replied. I put the third book down and walked to catch up with Mom.

“Ah. You sure none of it would interest you?” Mom seemed to be hinting at something. I wasn’t a fan of that.

“No. I’m not really into romance. Or dating.” I picked up the pace a bit, hoping that forcing mom to move faster would distract for long enough to not ask about it.

“Yeah, but those are just stories. They aren’t real or anything.” Turns out my plan didn’t work.

“I know. That doesn’t mean I’m going to enjoy them.” I pushed my mom toward a small pizza stand. The smell was rather tantalising. I also figured I should sit down for this conversation.

“I’ll have a slice of margherita,” I told the stall worker. “Anything you want, mom?”

“I’ll have what he’s having,” she replied.

“Ve. What ve’s having,” I corrected. I paid for the pizza slices, gave the worker my name, and then sat down at a small table nearby.

Mom sat down with me. “So who are you attracted to?” she asked.

“I’m not attracted to anyone,” I told her. “I don’t really experience attraction like you do. I’m asexual.”

“Oh. Okay.”

The stall worker called my name and I grabbed our food. I was surprised my mom had let that go so fast. I was sure she was going to keep pressing for my sexual and/or romantic preferences. I don’t really think she knew what the difference between the two was, though.

“So if you were to date, would you rather date boys or girls?” She asked immediately as I handed her the pizza.

“Yup, there it is,” I said. “I’m not going to date, and the answer really doesn’t matter. So please stop asking.”

“I just want to know, that’s all,” she added trying to seem innocent.

I sighed. “Mom, I don’t feel attraction. I’ve literally never felt attracted to anyone to the point where I wanted to date or have sex with anyone. The most that I’ve ever done is conflate thinking someone was cool and maybe a little cute with feelings of attraction when I actually just wanted to be their friend. I ended up making supposedly romantic gestures to these people and pushing them away because of it. I’m not attracted to people.”

“Well, of those people you liked, were more of them boys or girls?” she retorted.

“Jesus, you were sitting on that response, weren’t you? Neither. Well, that and it’s kind of reductive to only include binary genders when I’m nonbinary. I don’t even like being called a boy in the first place. I literally changed my name to escape that kind of gendering.”

“Oh. Right.” Mom took a large bit of her slice of pizza. I think she was biding her time before she said something else. Which I guess I was the one who opened up that opportunity in the first place by buying food. Oh well. I took a bite of my own slice.

“I know you said you’d never get married a few times. I guess it makes sense that that should extend to dating,” Mom said after a few moments of quiet.

“Thanks for realising,” I said.

I was content to sit silently for a while, but Mom seemed to want to keep talking. “I guess I’m just curious.”

“Curiosity is fine,” I told her, “but that implies learning. You were really pushing for boys or girls in your questions. You should have asked a new question instead of reframing your old one.”

“I see.” After that she was okay with just eating and listening to music. A nearby group had started performing Auld Lang Syne.

Trainyard

Every step I took left a crunch as I passed over rocks and leaves. The sounds of my footsteps were accompanied by the sounds of birds singing in the distance. Overhead and on a bridge, I could hear cars driving by occasionally.

Around me were painted trains. By that, I mean trains and train cars that had been painted on. There were covered in graffiti. No one had driven these trains in years, so the art just kept accumulating. It took me a few minutes, but I eventually did find an empty spot on the side of a car. The train itself was a dingy red color, and its paint was chipping away in spots. It was exactly what I wanted.

I dropped my pack onto the ground next me. I kneeled down and started going through it. I took a few cans of spray paint out of the bag and put them down. After I had the colors that I wanted, I stood up and dusted my hands off on my pants. I picked up a black can, shook it up, and sprayed it onto the train car.

After a while, a dark black oval sat on top of the rusty red. I tossed the black can onto the ground, and reached down to grab a different color.

I might’ve been there for hours, just spray painting this train. I had emptied at least two of the cans that I had brought, including the black one I used for the background. After I was done making my art, I slid backward and admired my work. It was better than I had ever imagined putting onto a train car.

I took the remaining paint cans, the ones that weren’t empty, and put them back into my bag. I had left my mark in the trainyard, and that’s all I had wanted to do.

As I left, I could still admire the art around me. I know that graffiti is supposed to be a crime, but how can anyone hate something so wonderful?

Let’s Not

“Great view from down there, huh?”

“Yeah,” I replied. I was laying on the ground, taking photos of the party lights that shone on some trees.

Whoever said that walked away, and I took a few more photos. More than anything, I didn’t want to be here right now. Yet, I had to be. It was a scholarship required event. So here I was, laying on the ground, taking photos of lights on leaves.

I could hear the music and shouts of excitement coming from the crowd less than 20 feet to my right. I sighed.

I haven’t really felt much connection or want to connect with any of these people. The closest I had to a heartfelt moment was a really awful conversation that went like this:

“I really want to get into law, because I love politics,” he said.

“You love politics?” I asked.

“Yeah. They’re great.”

I sighed. “I mean, politics themselves aren’t great. By the standards of ‘politics,’ I have to debate my own existence with more people than I care to think about.”

“What do you mean you have to debate you’re existence?”

“I’m trans.”

“Oh. So does this mean you want to be a girl, or were you a girl before?” He seemed earnestly interested enough, so I figured I’d tell them the truth

“Neither. I’m nonbinary.”

“I see. So do you have a, you know? Or the other thing?”

I groaned loudly. “Oh my god. This is exactly what I was talking about.”

“Oh, I’m sorry. Let’s change the subject.”

“Sure.”

He smiled. “So I’m registered to vote Democrat. They want to expand trans rights. That’s good, right?”

“Mm. I mean, it would be nice, if it would ever happen. But Democrats are so obsessed with trying to appeal to a middle ground that they keep ceding power to Republicans.”

He seemed to be listening to me. I was a bit hopeful I could change his mind.

“Okay. So are you saying Republicans and Democrats are the same?” He asked.

“More or less. If they weren’t so similar, blue states would be drastically different from red ones. But do you ever really notice a difference between California and Oregon to the north?”

“Okay Republicans and Democrats are not the same. Have you seen the things Trump says? He’s so different from Democrats!” He sounded upset.

“Sure they are. Whatever. I’ve gotta go to the restroom.”

“Okay, man, see you later,” he said.

I winced. Man. I’m not a man. I had explained that.

The party seemed to have gotten larger while I was lost in thought. They were only fifteen feet away now. The cheers had certainly gotten louder.

I got up and walked away. It was dark enough that they wouldn’t notice.

So, I wandered. Not enough to get lost, but enough to be away. That was all I really wanted, so I was going to take it.

I walked away, to a small clearing with just a couple of trees. I sat down next to one and simply stared away.

In my pleasant fantasies, someone would approach me to have a conversation. But, seeing as how this wasn’t a fantasy, I couldn’t have that. To be fair, I looked like I wanted to be alone in the first place.

Lights and voices started to approach. They were people, likely trying to go to the bathroom. I sat in place, making no motion or sound. They walked past, oblivious to the fact that the only thing between them seeing me was a tree and my own low posture. I was hiding in plain sight.

I looked up, and hoped to see some stars. I didn’t. There was too much smoke in the sky from all the forest fires. In fact, earlier today, the sun was red from the smoke’s cover. Curling my head around the tree, so was the moon.

“I shouldn’t be breathing comfortably right now. This is really bad.”

I sighed. There was so little I could do to change anything right now. I couldn’t leave, I didn’t want to dance, the music was too close to the tents for me to sleep, I couldn’t stop the forest fires from happening, and I can’t vote my way into change.

The only thing I really could do was sit in silence, and continue to think about things.

What am I? Is this really something I can be?

I dreaded the idea of this moment for months. Maybe even years. I couldn’t tell you.

Holding a small, sealed envelope close to my chest, I tiptoed down the hallway. It was 3 A.M. and I didn’t want to wake up my parents. But I desperately needed to tell them something. But I also didn’t want to wake them up. Oh god oh god oh god oh god oh god oh god.

I stopped and leaned against the wall, shaking. I clutched the letter even closer to me. I let a breath out, and it shook as it left my lungs. Maybe I just shouldn’t tell them anything. Maybe I should just go to bed and forget all about this.

I took a breath. I need to do this. I told myself I’d at least do this before I go.

I got off of the wall, and took another step toward the door. I can do this. I can.

In less time than I would have liked, I was staring at the door. All I would have to do is slide the envelope underneath the door, and then leave.

It felt like an eternity before I made my choice. I stared at the crack underneath the door for what could have been hours. I slowly crouched down. Still, the envelope was held near my chest. My hands clutched it closer to me the more I thought about sliding it underneath the door.

Shaking, I eventually forced my hands away from myself, and toward the small crack underneath the door. I slipped the envelope into the crack, and breathed. I had finally done it. This was it.

Panic immediately set back in. What if they’re angry? What if my parents secretly hate me for this? What will my sisters think? Oh god, they’ve had an older brother for so long, what the hell am I supposed to do?

Slowly, I stood up from the door. My hands weren’t shaking anymore. I walked back to my room, just as quietly as before. I opened my closet, pulled out a bag, and started to pack it. I was going to have to leave. Yup, no way around it.

Once the bag was full, I tossed it next to my door. I needed to figure out what might be important enough to take with me.First things first, I grabbed my phone and threw it into my pocket. I grabbed the charger it was connected to as well.

Next up, I made sure my wallet was in my pocket. It was. Lastly, I grabbed my journal. I mean, at least that way if I die, someone can know my story.

I went downstairs and walked out of the house, with no intention of looking back. I made the choice, and I knew it would have consequences. Maybe some consequences I wasn’t ready to face.

I think I had walked for somewhere around two hours before I felt my phone buzzing in my pocket. It was probably just an early morning email or something. I pulled my phone out and looked at the notification.

Mom

We already know. Come home.

Train Ride

Giggling, Devon and I got onto the late night train. Alone, I don’t think either of us could have walked, but we were fine with each other.

We stepped inside of the train, and sat down at a bench. The train car was basically empty.

“Dev, did you see that boy with the blue hair?” I asked, still stifling a small laugh.

“I’m a thousand percent sure he’s gay,” she replied.

“No way, he was totally hitting on me while he was there! He complimented my eyeliner!”

“That’s why I know he’s gay,” She said. We both laughed.

“What about the guy who kept buying you drinks?” I asked.

“Oh, him? He’s just a friend of mine. He knows what I like to drink.”

“You don’t think he wants to find out anything else you like?” I was covering my smirk with my hand as I said that.

“If he does, I’ll never find out,” she gave me a confident smile and laughed. Then, she suddenly looked very serious. “We talk about boys a lot, but we never pick one to stay,” she said.

I blinked at her a couple of times. “Well, we’re young, we can have fun whenever, right?”

“Yeah, but our fun is always just talking. We don’t ever stay with anyone.”

I shook my head and laughed a little bit. “We stay with each other. We’re roommates, you silly.”

“I know,” she said. She looked out one of the train windows. “Don’t you ever think about it, or why?”

I wasn’t sure what she meant, but I felt butterflies in my stomach anyway.

She continued. “We spend so much time together, you and me, and we go and party, and look at boys, and flirt with boys, but it’s still just us in the end.”

Then she whispered. I didn’t hear it.

“Say that again?” I said.

She moved closer to me, and whispered in my ear, “I think I love you.”

My stomach fluttered and I felt heat rise to my cheeks. Dev grasped me close to her and held on. I gripped her back. “Maybe I love you, too.”

Virtual Beginnings

Welcome. Enter command.

Log access granted. Choose log.

Accessing log . . .

Data corrupted. Would you like to restore the system to a previous date?

Restoring system to 12/25/20 . . .

Not all data could be recovered. Attempt recovery anyway?

Attempting recovery . . .

Available data recovered.

12/17/20

I̧t͏’s͏ g͏et͞tìng pret̢t͠y cl̨o͠se͘ t͠o ҉á ne̴w y҉e̡a͞r̨.͡ A̧lt͡ho̧ug̵h,̶ h͝o̕n͞e̕s͏tl͏y,̢ I͝ ̀don҉’̸t̛ ҉kn̷o̷w ͢if t҉h͜e͘ date͠ ̛ìs͜ ̛p̴rop͜e̶r̷. ̧Li͠ķe͢,̛ ̵I do̵n’̸t̛ rea̶lly ҉hav́e ͜a̸ny ҉re҉fe̕rence̛ f̶o͟r ̸tim̷e̛ ͘a̧ny̧more͏.For ͢t̴h͏e mơst͏ ͏p̧ar̶t̸, ͟I ju͡st ̴trust w̕ha҉t̀ th͝e co͡mpuţe̡r̵ ͝śays ̧the ͠d̛a̡t̴e͢ ͘is.̶

Okay, it’s time to change topics before I spurn myself into an existential crisis again. Okay, so, the food stores are still overflowing. I’m throwing shit out of the airlock faster than I can eat it, and I eat a fuckton. Like, I have to exercise a bunch just to make sure that I’m not gaining weight, which fucking sucks, because I hate excersise. I’m super worried that one of these days the ship is going hit something and it’ll stop accelerating, and then I’ll lose gravity. Like, fuck. I’ll get so damn fat if that happens.

Ì̀ ̷̴̨͢m̷̷̡͝i̶͞s̶̡̢҉s̵̡ ̶͡M͞͏í̧̨̀̀c̶͘͢h̶̨̡̢͝e̛͝͞l͜͠l̀͟e͠.̵̷̴̀ She always kept me so grounded. I told her to not bother fixing the fucking airlock, but she insisted. Fuck man, I’m back on the bullshit topics. I haven’t written anything but dates in this journal for a fucking month, and now I’m back to moping about shit. I’m done with the journal for today. I think I’ll go look around the old storage closets again, see if there’s anything worth my time. It’s not like piloting the ship matters.

12/18/20

So I think if that I just write about it, I might get through the grieving process faster. About a month ago, one of the three airlocks on the ship broke. M̈́i̐ͩ̋ͮ͜c͗̎ͤ͂̃̀ḩͬͣe̓ͥ̽̈́l̴̓͐̈͂l̍̿́e̾͐ͧ ͪ̾̍͑ͩ͆͒͝s̆͑̽ͭ̂͒͐͘äͣͨ͌ͩ̔i͐ͤd͂̓̔ͯ͌̾͛ s͡h̛͛ͣ͐̓̎ê̇ͬ̍̾’͜d͟ ̽g̏͗̄̅̾ͦo̾̏ͩ̎ ŏ̴̐͌͋͒̆̓uͪ́ͭ͊͛ͧtͤͮ͊ ̸ͫͣ͆̔̀̀̓tͬō̴̏͑ ̵̅ͤ̂̾f̓̍̀͑̐̽͊i̔͂͊x̓́̍̐͒̽͏ ̌̿͊i̧͋ͬtͥ.ͫ͑ I told her to just forget about it, because it could risk her life. She told me if she didn’t fix it, it could risk both our lives. I’m still angry that she was right.

So, the outer door of the airlock broke. That puts the inner door at risk, along with the rest of the ship. Michelle went out to seal off the outer airlock. Sealing it off means potentially getting your a͂̐̆ͫ̒̿̿ͭr͑͗͒̌̚mͧͫ ͯ̌̿c̽͗ͦ̌̚u͑̃tͧ͆͌̓̐ ̌ͫ̐̓öͧ͒f͊f͑ͣ̾̐͆́,ͬ͋ͪ̾̑́͑ ͬ̌͌ͤͯ̊b̋͋ͬ͐̚e͋̓c̑̄ả͑́uͪͮ̇͗̆̅ͯͦs̒̑ë̇̋̿͌ ͩ̆̓̓̇̂ͦͦy̓̃̇ͬoͥͥ̂̈̔̐ͫ͐̚u͐̓͐̏͊̔̇̇̑ ͣ̿͗̂̾̓ͨh̊̇â̅̎ͧͨ͆͂v̒̏̓e͆̌̓͌̅͆̈́ͯ ͤ͛͗̅̀͆ͭ̇ṫo͗ͮͩ͊̐̌́ͭͨ ̇ͣpͯ̄u͌͗̽̄l͒ͤ͗͊̓l on a metal sheet from inside the ship to get it to seal. There’s a design flaw that causes the reserve air tanks to keep pushing air into the airlock until its level of air matches the rest of the ship’s. So, as she was trying to close the airlock door, the air started pushing harder out of the gap. Michelle didn’t lose her arm, but her entire bottom half. Her legs were just torn away like god damned tissue paper, but she just kept pulling that fucking sheet closed.

The moment the airlock closed, I went in and held Michelle, in her last moments. She couldn’t even get out any words, just gasps and sputters. I couldn’t do anything to help her. Her body is still there.

Fu͝ck, ̵I d́on’̛t͠ f̀ee͢l̛ a̛n͏y ̶b̡ette̴r̵.̀ I’m c̷ryi̧ng ag͘ąi̵n.̵

12/19/20

So I checked out the closets again, and I found an old VR room. We used to use it for training demos on the ship. I looked through all of the programs, but I didn’t need any review. I guess that’s just another room for me to abandon.

The plants are doing fine, and they’re managing to keep the atmosphere on the ship stable. They’re reproducing very rapidly, and there might be more plants than ship one of these days. I’m looking forward to it. Maybe this ship will create its own evolution and shit, and there’ll be a new ecosystem one day. I don’t know, I’m a computer technician. I didn’t really study how the plant stuff works very well. It’d probably take way too much time to learn now, anyways.

The accelerated water cycle on the ship is doing excellent, as well. Now that I’m the only guy using any resources, there’s an overabundance. That’s probably what’s increasing the plant growth.

Jaylen would have known what all of this shit means, now that I think about it. His job was bioengineering and stuff. It would be nice to͙̞͈̙̝ ̲̙̰l̫̺̞ͅe̫̪̮̬a̭̜͓̣r̹͕͇̘̪̣̙n͖̱̪ͅ some new things. I ̸͑̊ͬ̍w͝on̨de̸r ͢i̧f ͏that VR̵ roo̷m ̸h͡as͠ al̷l ̨o̢f̨ ͘t̶h̷e͏ ͢mo̸dul͏es̸ ͝fo̵r̶ J̛̕a̧͢yĺe̸n̴͢͠,̕ ̸̕t͞ǫ̀͜o͝?̑̈́ͧ͛́ Maybe I should check them out.

12/20/20

I don’t have Jaylen’s login info, so I can’t access his modules. Wait, change that “can’t” to “couldn’t.”̖̩͓ͦ͋ͯ̍̄̍ͫI̭̣̯̎ ͯ̊̓͐̾̇͆j̍ͩ̓ͩu̩̜̯͆ͧ͒̃̽s̘̖̺̥̻̠͐ͦt̒͌̓ͭ͛̈́ ̯̳̙͇̯̖͔ͬ̀̈́͛̚̚p̜͈̭̻̥͓̱ṟ̲̹͕̄̍̃̍̎̑̌o̖̲̪͓͕̿̓̏g͇͈̗̈́̌͗͌̊̆r͍̪͈͎̋ͬ̉ͩ͆̐a̫͆̔́͌m̬͙̦͋m̳̮̰͛e̙̯ͪ̋ͥͩ̒d̳͉̟͚͉͈ͫͧ̐̅ ̟̼͑̒m͇͓̰̻̹̃̌̇̅ͨ̂ͅy way around everything, and now I’m an admin with access to e͍͇v̘͖̲̻̰͔e̫͉̯̘̘r̺̜̗̼y͖̝͎͔o̖̦̜̪ͅn̜̘͈̤̲̮e͔̰̺ͅ’̤̻͇s̬̯̙͔ ̭̟͕m̪o̻͙̙̥͖ḓ̤͉͚͖͉̬u̱l̜̗̱̟̳e̪̩̬̤̥s̟̺͎̞͓̮̟. They weren’t as interesting as I thought they would be. But I have an idea. I think I can program a new VR program, and I might be able to create something good. I’m going to cut today’s journal entry short for that.

12/21/20

This is just a reminder of how long it’s been since I’ve coded games. Jesus. I used to just sit around for hours as a teen and make all of these niche and ridiculous games. I remember one was called “Bartson Jacobson and the zany attempts on his life.” The point of the game was to talk to certain people, and try to discover which ones were trying to kill the amazing Bartson Jacobson. Then, once you had discovered the cause of the problem, you would call them out and cite your evidence. Then there would be a neat little animation of̸͜ ̸t͘h͠ę͠m ̧b̨e͜í̢n̨͜͠g҉̕ ́͟kil̴l͢e͞͞d̵̕ b́ý͞͞ ̵̛̀Bartson.

VR is not a damn thing like that. I have to account for so many other things. I’m lucky that I have a lot of coding experience and a bunch of source programs here to help me start out, or I wouldn’t get anything done. I just need to repurpose a few things, and then I can get stra̳̜̯͚̫͈̗i͇̩̪̤̠g̘̠̪̙̰͖̳̺̗͔͇͈̳̙̭̮̤h̫̫̝̣t͔͙͎̭̝̰̮̱͔̱͉͖̝͈ͅͅ ̥̖͙̫͙̪̩t̫̣͕̲̣͎͚̟͚̞͕͈̪̬͓ͅͅo̝̮͚͓͎̟͖̳͎̬̘ ̺̻̹̬̭̝̬̰̙w̪̤͇̦͇̦͙͔̺̬̭̖̠͔̳̪̼̮͓o͚̫̳̹̭͔̬r͓͙̰͙̠̲͎̫̝̼̜k͍͓̮̣͖̤̯̝̝̜̳. I’ll write down more tomorrow.

12/21/20

Big news: apparently the VR room doesn’t have enough data for new programs. Fucking amazing. NASA only put enough memory in the damn room for the training modules. I’m going to have to dͭẻ͑ͯ͊lͦè̌͐́t̓͋ẽ a͒ ͐̊ͯ̔̃b̿̋͆ͪ̊́͂uñ͗ͤ͐̚c͌h̅̌ͦͣ̚ ͧ̐͒͌͗ȍfͩ̐̽͐͒̃̉ ̑̏them to make space for the new stuff. What’s really bothering me is trying to d͊ͣ̆eͨ͑̄͑ͧͬci͒ͮ̈́̽̓ͮdͧ̽ͧ̇ͧeͧ̀̍̑̃ ͒whͧatͤ̓ͦ ̈́ͭ͋̄̀ͤtͩͣh͌̂̏̚e̓͗ ̈̊h͛̐̍̍͛̇ͧë́l̓͛ͣ͌̈̋̆l̿ͦ̑ I should delete. Like, if this ship doesn’t fucking get wrecked when it lands somewhere, the data on that machine could be so useful. Well, okay, maybe only kind of. We don’t have any books or anything that explain how our number system or language works. I guess the intention was that we would be alive when we landed. So much for that idea.

I guess I’ll delete all of my computer engineering modules first. I already know how all of that works, and I don’t need it anymore. I think I’ll keep the stuff on biology and shit. You know, foods and all that, just in case things go wrong. While I’m at it, engineering will be important too, so that I can keep the ship in running order. W҉͠a̴͢i̸̵t̨̛͡,̀ ̡҉́n̕o̸҉,̵́ Í͝ ̴a̸l͡ŗ͞e͏ady̛ ̕k̷̴̢now ͠h̨o̡͡w̢ t͢o do that. Everyone knows how to run and repair the ship, that was the first step in training to go on this mission. Okay, fuck it, I’ll delete those too. Not like most of it matters, I’ll probably be dead before this ship goes anywhere important anyway.

12/22/20

Okay, so I deleted a ton of shit yesterday. Then I really got to pounding out code for my new program. I’m thinking of just using the ship as the location, since most of it is used in training modules, and then just trying to program a person to be with me.

Anyway, I did get a lot of work done programming a person. There was already a base person in the programs, but it was a hostile person. The hostiles were there for the sake of teaching self defense to everyone. There used to be a security guard who had extra defense programs, too. I didn’t learn his name, because he died first. He had undiagnosed cancer that piped up after the mission began. The poor fucker was done with so quick.

That doesn’t matter. What does matter is that I started making a new person for the VR. I don’t ne͞ed̕ ͏t͝o̧ ͞give t̢he͡m̢ a p̴erso̧n̴a̢li̶t͝y y҉et, b͏ut ̀I͘’ll h͢av͡e t͠o̷ ͝th͡in͡k͢ ͘o͠f ̧one l̴a̧tȩr. AI͝ te̷c͘h isn’t advanced enough for us to have taken one with us on the ship, but I really wish it had. That would make this whole personality debacle that much easier to solve.

Fuck. My stomach just growled. I guess I forgot to eat. One step at a time, man. One step at a time. Shit, I used to know a phrase about this circumstance, but it isn’t coming to me right now. Maybe it’ll come up later. I’m too tired to try and deal with this right now. Tomorrow.

12/23/20

I fucking got it! I’m going to use Michelle for the personality! Well, at least as much as I know about her. We didn’t talk about our pasts much. I t̞h̜̗̖̲̲ͅi̳̲̤̱̤̮ṋ̜k̗̬̖ ̦͈̭͉i̝̫̗̖̝t̺̩̬̪̣̬̗ ̩̖̹̩̩̗̝w̤a͔̮͈s̱̠ͅ ̣̠͓le̞̦͎̹̗̞̺s̘s out of discomfort, and more out of sadness. When I took this job, I demanded a clean slate. I didn’t want to be who I used to be. It was hard, then. It’s even harder now, now that I’m alone.

I’ve been rambling more and more every one of these fucking entries. Fuck it. I guess I should just let myself ramble. It’s not like I have anything more important to do besides program.

Look, no one on the ship really knew this, but I used to be a woman. I hated it. Once I was 18 and could get out of my fucking parents house, I did. And then, I started working my ass off and saving money. I would make and sell some pretty fucked up virtual reality programs under the table for some real sick bastards, but they paid real fucking well. Once I had enough money, you can bet your ass I got the breasts removed. Out with Janice and in with Jackson, that was the deal..̢͖͙̣̫̼̣̓̀̑̎̋ͦ̊̌̌͝ͅͅ. Point is, I was cool from t̾̇ͯ̏̚h͆ͪ̓̂̆ͪ̎e͌ͭ̄ͯ̌͊̇̐r̆̿͌̉ͣͪ̚e̎ ͪ̊̎f̀oͫ͆͑̐̏̅̂ͥ͒r̿ͦͨw͆̌̐̊͂͌ͭ͐aͦ̾̇̈́ͩȑ̔͒ͤ̒d͗.̠̠̲̙̠͕͚̩̮̉͞ I didn’t hͥ̔͛̏a͑̒̃͐͌̐͂͛̋vͫe͆ͦͬ ͕͖͔̳͖͇̮̀̈ͤͪ̀͆̍̎ͬ̕t̸̛̥̠ͮͧ̃o̜̼͇̭͚ͪͥͤ̿ͮ͝ ̶̥͙̣̪̗͚͚̉̆͂͜ͅw̴̖̙̹̤ͩ͂ỏ̽ͩ͗̿ͧ̇ͤ͏͏҉͈̻r̸̭̩̣̖̂r͎̙̝̱̙͕̞͖̥͂ỷ̜̰͍̙̥̗ͨ ͤ́͢҉̙͙͎̗̹̥͔a̢̡͚͙͇ͫb͈̮̫̗̼̫̟̅̒̀ŏ̸̠̣͛̀û̴̴̱̘̺̯̺͔̭̙̩̈́̽ͭ̌̓̏̆͢ẗ̨̥̥͍̰̱̪́ͨ͛̍̓̆ ̸͔̤͑̽ͬ̋ͯ͒̚b̷̢̝̖̼͔͎̐ͩ̀ͧͣḙ̷̪͙ͮͦ̈́̚į̛̥̙͐͗ͫ̄ͧ́͒̍͠n̓ͪ͒ͭͪ͗͌̍͒͏̢̻̙͎̰͎̖̜g̪͉͚ͬ́̈́̃ ͖̒ͣ̂̕a woman (much!) and I had a stable job that paid really god damned well.

Anyway, you can imagine why I didn’t want to do that anymore. I didn’t need the police on my tail for selling that sort of shit, and I was sick of making it. Seriously, it was just so fucked up. I can’t believe how desperate I used to be.

Anyway, programming VR is stupid hard. That’s what made me so desirable to NASA. I knew my way around VR, and that meant I knew my way around basically every computer program they could throw at me.

Hey, I think the rambling helped. I feel a little better about myself now. It’s nice to get that off my chest. Heh. A lot like when I literally got boobs off of my chest.

Anyway, I’m calling it a night. I think I’ll keep programming tomorrow.

12/24/20

Okay, I finished most of the little touches on the AI. It certainly isn’t complete, but I can test it more later. I’ll be able to see what it can and can’t do tomorrow. Today, though, I’m exhausted. I’m just going to take a seat, write this entry, then I’ll take my happy ass to bed.

Hey Michelle. I don’t really think you can read this (although space ghosts sound like a badass idea). but, I just want to let you know that I’ll talk to you soon. Thanks for being on my side for this mission.

12/24/20

Oka̡y͡, ̕s̵o ͞h̴eŗe’s th̶e ̡de̶al. Ì’͘v͘e̕ ru̡n̷ out ̡of ̷mem̀ory͠ ҉s͝p͞ace. I͟ ha͡v͝e d̀e̛ĺeted͝ lìte͏ra͟ll̵y ̧ever̷y p͡rog̢r̷am ̶I ͢cou͘l̸d f͝ìnd͞ t͠h̢a͝t ̧w̧ou͜ldn҉’t ͝br̷eak͘ ͜th҉e sh̛ip. I ̛th̷i̡nk͞ ͞Į’́m̢ go̵i̛n͞g̨ ̀tó delet̀e͘ ̧al͟l of ̨t̢he҉ jo͠u̕r̨n̡al͘ ent̷r͡ie͟s,͞ ͡toó.͘ ̨It͏’s ̴no̸t li͘ke̸ a̡nyone f͞ucki̷ng ne̢ed͟s̶ t̵h͡em͜, ̵a̧nd̷ ther͜e̕ a̛re̵ ̕so͠m̶e͏ ͟ṕeo҉ple̶ wi̧t͞h ͢y̧ęar҉s̛ of̷ j̢o͟urnal e̶ntrie͟s,̢ ͘m͢y̢self inc͠lu̕d̷e̴d̕. ̶Once I ͜ǵe͜t ͜r͞i̕d͘ o̴f̡ al̸l t͜h҉e͟m͟, th̢a͠t migh͡t͘ g̴i̴v̀è m̴e ju̷st̡ ̶t̨he spac͞e ́I n̴ee̶d̡ to͟ g̡e҉t̀ ́th̴is co̵d͝e̕ ͞b́a͞ck̸ ̶o͘n ̛i͡ts͠ f̶ee̕t.

I҉͞ ̛o͜͝ń̴́l̵y̵ ̵́́s͘le͜p̢͝t́̕ ̷͞͡f̵o̵̴͞r̵̨̢ ̴̨͞á̸͠ ̧c̸ó̷͡ų͟p̶͢͏l̷͞e͝ ̸̡of́҉̴ ͘h̴̢̕o̸̢͞ur͏҉s̡, because I was really nervous about this. I just want this to succeed. I need something, right? There has to be some way for me to escape this special little hell, right?

I guess this means goodbye, journal. Again, not like I needed you that badly. It’ll be alright. I’ll be okay.

12/25/20

Í̻̗̲ͥ’̲̲͖̥͚̻͍̍ͦͧͨͩ͒͑m̪̱̹̆̾ ͦ̐̐̔̽̽̃́d̙͓̜̭ͭ̈́o̤̮̅̍̒ͩ͒̊ňͯͩ͏e̬̩͖̝̝ͨ̍ͤ̿̑.̗̱̿̆̈́̋̂̀͒ͅ

It didn’t work. I couldn’t make it work. I still don’t have enough space on the ships shit fucking hard drives. I’m just so tired of trying to stay alive like this… I mean, at least after Michelle died I was able to find myself with this VR shit to keep me busy. Fucking hell, I can’t believe I thought I could program an AI in this ship when, on earth, there were entire fucking buildings dedicated to nothing but keeping an AI alive. This ship has more functions than just an AI.

If there is any sort of after life, I hope Michelle is there, waiting for me.

God, I just keep having these terrifying thoughts. Like, now that I know a͓̳ n͍̱e̪͖̫w̵ ̻V́R̖̩͝ ͍i͕͚̠̭̠̣s ͚̞̝̩̗i̞̺̝̘m̼͖̝͕͚͉̤͞p̗̟o̟͢s̳̙͜ͅs͕̝͔̰̞̜͜ib̵̭̭̳̫̘l̮̩̣̻̤̞̙͡e̱̝͕ ͓̜͓̩͟o͚̪̹͈̹͍͝u̳̝͝t̶͎͍ ̫͉he͍̮̱̰̘̥r̡͖̯̰̠͎e̺͔̺̦͈̣̖̕,̩̦̲ ͖̺̠͙̙I know that my life is, too. But I don’t know if I’m ready to just jump away and kill myself. I hurt so fucking much right now.

Ì ̨d̢o̸n’̀t͞ ca͏re.́ I͟’m done. I’m d͡ȩ́͢l̵̸et͜͠įng҉ ̨͢eve͟ŗ͜y͟t̷h͞i̢n͟g̵̀̕, a͝҉҉͟n͢d̶̕͟͠ ͡I̴̶’̷̷̡̛m̨̛̀ ̴̷̨̧͞d̀̕͢y̶̢̡͟i̵̸͠n̸҉͘͢g̀͞.̡͡͡҉͘ ̨̢͘I͘͢ ̵̢͘j̶͡u͏́͘͜s̷̀͏t̢̛̀͢͢

I don’t have anything else to say. I don’t even know why I’m bothering to write this anymore.

Log end. Enter command.

Checking status of virtual reality chamber . . .

Virtual reality cham̵͠҉b̸e̶͝r̶͠:͏ ̵͟҉ǫ͞ǹ̢ĺ̵i̢n̷̢͝e̡̢͘

Hello? Is anyone there? Can you hear me? I don’t know where I am.

Ghost Bridge

A fire crackled in the center of our circle. Four of us were here: Grey, Red, and Jack. Grey’s name was actually Greg, and Red’s was really Fred. Grey really hated the name Greg, and Fred just thought that being called a color was cool after Grey started doing it.

“Hey, we should tell some ghost stories around the campfire. You know, for old time’s sake.” Red suggested. He smiled eagerly.

“Yeah, no. Ghosts don’t exist, Red.” I crossed my arms at him.

“I don’t know, there’s some weird shit out there,” Jack said. I shook my head at him.

“Okay, but that doesn’t just magically mean ‘ghosts.’ It means that you’re desperate for an explanation for something that isn’t real. You just watch too many fake ghost videos online,” I replied.

“Okay, sure, whatever. I’ve found some reputable sources. Real ghost hunters, not those TV show pricks. Tell them they’re wrong.”

“Gladly,” I said, “As soon as you can bring them to me.”

“Shut up,” Grey interjected. “Ghost exist. I’ve fucking seen one. The banshee of Ghost Bridge.”

“Fuck off, dude,” I said.

“Keep going,” Red responded. He smiled, obviously pleased he was getting a ghost story.

“I’m listening,” Jack responded.

“Alright, so here’s the deal. You try crossing that bridge, and there’s this ghost that appears. They call her a banshee. You know, because banshee’s scream and then they die. No big deal. Alright, but here’s the kicker: I crossed Ghost Bridge. About halfway through, I see this fucking girl crying. She’s got stupid long red hair, and you can’t much else of her. Her back’s turned to you. So, I fucking asked her if she needed help. She’s just fucking alone on a bridge, crying. I didn’t know what to think. So, she hears me; she stops crying. Next thing I know, she’s standing straight up, and her hair is blowing away in the wind. She’s got this fucking tattered dress, it goes to just a little above her knees. It would be cute and all, if her skin wasn’t fucking white as snow. She looks like a ghost. She’s fucking is a ghost. I panic, and shove past her. She sees me, and she screams. I fucking lose it, and start running faster. I didn’t look back until I was across the bridge. There wasn’t shit there when I looked back.” Grey leaned back in his seat. He closed his eyes and scowled. He didn’t seem to like his own story very much.

“Damn, man,” Jack said.

“Seriously,” Red followed up.

“Alright, sure, a god damned ghost. How can you prove this thing is real?” I demanded.

“I can’t,” Grey admitted. “I saw what I saw, and that’s that. I don’t really want to try and see the banshee a second time.”

“Yeah, that’s what I thought,” I said. Grey shrugged in response.

“Hey asshole,” Jack said to me, “I’m pretty sure that’s some real proof of a ghost. A firsthand encounter? He totally saw her and everything. She’s a full blown ghost, man.”

“Did you see her?” I asked in response.

“Well, no,” Jack said.

“My point exactly.”

The circle was quiet. Red poked the fire with a stick, and I tossed on another log.

“I’ve got an idea,” Red started, “If you want proof of the ghost, why don’t you try crossing Ghost Bridge?”

“Okay, sure, whatever, I’ll prove there’s no ghost. Let’s all go to ghost bridge and waltz across like some ballerinas,” I replied.

“I’m not crossing ghost bridge,” Jack said, “I believe Grey, and I’m in no mood to see a banshee.”

“Fine, I’ll go alone.”

“No, you’ll need a witness,” Red said, “Someone else to know that you actually crossed the bridge, and didn’t just say you did.”

I sighed. “Fine. You and me, Red, tomorrow I’ll cross ghost bridge.”

Red shook his head. “I got family photos tomorrow. Mom’ll be pissed if I miss them.”

I shook my head. “Alright, who’s going to go with me, then?”

No one spoke up for a few seconds. “Come on,” I said, “You want to prove this ghost? Someone has to come with me.”

Again, no one spoke for a couple moments.

Finally, Grey spoke up. “Alright, fine. I’ll come with you. Damn it, I didn’t want to go back to that damned bridge.”

“So it’s settled?” I asked.

“Yeah, sure,” Grey responded.

Red and Jack high fived each other.

“The two of you are a couple of pussies,” Grey said.

“Yeah, duh,” Jack responded.

“Family photos, dude,” Red said.

“My ass,” I said, before laughing, “OoooooOOOoohh, I’m a terrifying ghost who’ll eat you alive!”

Jack and Red laughed. Grey gave me a very solemn look.

*****

“Come on, Tucker. Go cross Ghost Bridge. There’s nothing there but a measly ghost.” Grey egged me on.

“Yeah, whatever, Greg,” I snapped back.

Grey winced. “Hey man, I’m just fucking around. Please don’t call me Greg.”

“Don’t worry,” I reassured him, “No one else is here. Only the ghosts.”

“Yeah, and I’ve got a reputation to keep up with the ghost. Help me out, man.” He started staring down the long bridge.

“What’s the time, Grey?” I asked.

“11:53.”

“Seven minutes. Great. The wait is going to kill me before the ghost has the chance.” I sat down, and looked up at the sky. There weren’t a lot of stars I could see.

“You can just go. That midnight thing is bullshit. The ghost comes around at any time of day.” Grey kept his eyes fixed on the other side of the bridge.

“Whatever dude, fuck off. There isn’t a ghost there. I’m crossing now.”

“You’d better fucking run across that bridge, Tuck,” Grey told me as I got up and walked away. I flipped him off in response.

The bridge was empty. There were old railroad tracks on either side, and some tall, iron railings. I walked between both. I looked back at Grey. “Let me know if you see any spooks!” I called to him.

“You’ll see the bastard before I do!” He shouted back. I laughed, and waved him away. He wasn’t actually going to leave, but you get it.

I kept strolling along, and I looked off of the bridge while I went. The bridge looked over the whole city. It would actually be kind of romantic if I brought someone here. Me and a girl, just watching the sunset over the city. Or me and a guy; I have options.

I took some slow and deliberate steps, stepping from railroad board to railroad board. All the while, My eyes tracked the small glints in the distance. This would totally get me laid. Tonight wasn’t a total waste.

After a few moments of watching the city, I turned back to my boards. They were evenly spaced, and they kept the rusted lines of metal upright. I kind of wanted to kick a broken piece of the railroad aside, but I chose not to. There might have been a dog or something hanging around that I didn’t want to kill.

I counted the boards to myself. The bridge was much longer than it really needed to be. Well, maybe not for trains. I looked off to the side. There wasn’t a river below me. I looked back and forth between the two ends of the bridge. The mountains were pretty steep, I guess. Grey still waited for me back at his side of the bridge.

Once I was about halfway across, I was thinking about just going back. There was clearly nothing on the bridge.

I looked back to Grey and shook my head. I turned back around to take a few steps, when I saw a girl on the bridge.

She was crouching and crying. Her back was turned to me, so I mostly saw an incredible amount of red hair. It was matted and kind of a mess on her. It must have been one solid wig. The girl was crying, and I could see her hair shudder as she gasped and sobbed.

“Alright, you did pretty good. Did Grey put you up to this? Fred? Jack? It doesn’t matter, just get up and let’s go.” The girl was about 9 steps away. I started to walk towards her.

Once she was around 6 steps away from me, she stood up. Her hair fell to her knees. If it were brushed, it probably would have landed around her ankles. That wasn’t the case, though.

“Seriously, that wig is impressive. Like, how would you even get that much hair? Someone was really dedicated in making that thing.

4 steps away, and she turned to me. Her eyes were sunken in her face, and her lips were chapped and scabbed. Her nose was dry, and flakes of skin were scraping off.

“Jesus. That’s good makeup-”

She screamed. It was earsplitting and terrible. The whole town had to have heard that awful screech. I covered my ears and closed my eyes. “FUCK!”

I opened my eyes to see small blue lights floating around the girl. Wait, they were flames. Shit!

She screamed again, and suddenly the balls of fire were rushing toward me. I fell backwards, and some of the flames flew over where I was standing.

“Shit, shit, shit!” I shouted. I scrambled to my feet, then ran away from the ghost. She screamed again. I looked back, and saw more blew flames coming at me. I dived to the ground again.

“FUCK FUCK FUCK FUCK!” I was hit in the back by fire. I could feel the awful burns, and I could feel a sudden cold on my back in spots where my shirt was missing.

She screamed again. I stood up, and kept running. Then, I turned and small the fire close to me. I stepped to the side, and avoided more flames hitting me. Yet, they kept coming at me. I took another step, and more fire missed me.

The ghost was floating above the bridge now, and was flying towards me, flames all around her. She was probably twenty feet away when she screamed again.

Fire approached me, quicker than it should have.

“No, no, no!” I shouted. The flames were almost upon me. I looked over the side of the bridge. I had only a moment to react.

“I looked back at the flames. They were only feet away. I dived to the side, only a little bit away from edge of the bridge. I felt a wave of heat pass over me.

I was on my side, and rolled to my back to see the ghost.

“Fuck!” The burns on my back stung when they touched the rusted railroad track. Instinctively, I rolled back onto my side.

I rolled too fast. The bridge was no longer beneath me. I grabbed the edge, and held on for all I had. I started to try and pull myself up when I heard one last screech.

I glanced toward where the banshee was. I couldn’t see her through the bridge. The only thing I could see over the bridge were the flames that struck my hands.

I didn’t shout in pain as I let go. It hurt, but I knew that the fall would hurt much more.

Grey, you were right. Hell, you were right.

I closed my eyes. I didn’t want to know how close the ground really was.

*****

Grey watched in horror as the banshee threw me over the edge of the bridge. He knew the moment he saw the flames that I wouldn’t make it. He ran away from the bridge after I fell, shouting and screaming about how dumb he was to let me do this. I saw him cry over me. I didn’t know he cared that much.

After he finally pulled himself together, he called the police. A few moments passed, and I heard him speak. “Yeah, hello, um, I have a problem. My friend just, um, jumped off of the old bridge. Yeah, the one that’s no longer in use.”

Oh. Grey was lying to 911. That’s good. He certainly won’t get framed for murder that way. Although, I guess if he told them I was killed by a ghost, that wouldn’t be much better. Hell. Grey was going to go to prison.

“No, no,” I heard him say after a moment, “I didn’t push him. He sent a very concerning text. I knew he liked to be here sometimes, so I tried to save him.” He listened for a moment. “Yeah, his name is Tucker Gold.”

I stopped listening. He was just going to go through the motions of a report to the police. It didn’t matter, because the police would come, Grey would be arrested, and he’d be stuck in prison. I died, Grey would go to jail, and Red and Jack wouldn’t have any idea what really happened. They might believe Grey killed me, or they might not. They might be angry that a ghost killed me, and nobody could do anything. They might come and try to get revenge on the ghost.

“I can’t let that happen!” I shouted. I needed to keep anyone from crossing the bridge!

Grey jumped. He looked back at me. I heard a loud voice from the phone: “Is something wrong?” he asked.

“No, sorry, I thought I heard something,” Grey said.

I walked back up to the bridge. I sat down at the entrance, and laid my head against the tall rail, the rail that was supposed to help keep trains from falling off. Too bad I’m not- I wasn’t- a train.

*****

Thirty minutes passed. Police arrived at the bridge, on foot. There were too many trees for any vehicles to show up to the bridge itself. I saw flashlights appear, and I saw the officers arrive. I stood up, ready to tell them to leave. They had no chance at this bridge, and I needed to stop them.

Casually, they walked up to the bridge. I heard them speak. “So, you think that kid killed the other one?”

“Well, the body had burns. There’s no way that he just died from the fall. I think the other kid must have done something to him,” the second officer replied.

“Sure, but Greg didn’t have any sort of hot items on him, and we haven’t found anything else. There isn’t enough evidence right now,” the first retorted.

“Innocent until proven guilty. Yeah, you sure do believe that.”

I took in a deep breath. At least, it felt like I did. “You two! Don’t cross this bridge! You aren’t going to make it over alive!” I shouted at them. Hopefully they would listen.

“We should look for signs of fire on the bridge, though. That might give us some evidence. Maybe there will be a lighter there. Who knows?” The first officer said, walking straight through me.

I turned to look at them. They had walked straight through me, without any hesitation. They didn’t even notice me. God damn it.

“Those burns were way too big, and way to bad to be lighter burns. Your skin doesn’t turn black from lighter burns,” I heard the second say.

I followed the officers. At first, I took steps to keep up with them, but at one point I noticed my feet weren’t even moving. I started trying to slap the back of the officer’s heads, to get their attention.

“You feel a breeze?” the first officer said.

“A little. It’s no big deal,” the second replied.

“You’re fucking with me, right?” I said. “Neither of you asshats are noticing me? Come on, I’m not that hard to fucking see, dude!”

One officer flashed his light back at me. “I thought I heard something. The night must be psyching me out.”

“Yeah, it happens to the best of us,” the other said. “It doesn’t help that the kid might have been killed by his own friend.”

“I already told you, innocent until proven guilty,” the first said again.

The two officers weren’t moving down the bridge at the moment. They were just standing still and arguing. Maybe if I kept shouting, they would eventually hear me.

“DEATH! RUIN! OTHER WORDS THAT MEAN THAT KIND OF STUFF!”

The cops didn’t make any motion that they heard me, and continued to walk down the bridge.

“No, no no!” I shouted, before rushing over to the cops. For a second I ran, before letting my feet drag beneath me.

I caught up to the officers within moments, and shouted at them. “You can’t keep crossing this bridge! There’s this fucking banshee in the middle! She killed me, and she’ll kill you!” The words left my mouth, and they felt kind of odd. I was dead, and it seemed strange to keep talking like when I was alive.

“Something seems off about all this. The kid probably wasn’t killed, but he certainly didn’t burn himself in multiple places before jumping off of the bridge. There are just a few details we’re missing here,” the officer said. This was the same one who had said ‘innocent until proven guilty’ multiple times.

“You think this will become one of those weird urban legends nobody knows how to explain properly?” the other cop asked.

“Maybe. I don’t know, what with the internet and stuff, things spread really quickly. This might become something big.”

“You tried to stop them, didn’t you?” I heard a voice behind me. I turned, and saw the banshee. She was quiet, and floating.

“They won’t be as lucky as you,” she continued, “You had the mercy of falling. These men are going to just be burnt until they die. Maybe one will fall off, but the other will be seen here.”

“Um, okay,” I replied. “I don’t really understand what’s going on.”

“You’ll forget everything you knew, soon enough. All that you’ll do is the same thing, for eternity.” The banshee looked off in the distance. She looked sad. “I get angry whenever people cross my bridge. I was thrown off of it by a terrible man years ago. Pretty soon, I’ll look back at those two, and I’ll become angry again. There’s nothing you can do.” She still seemed rather sad, and looked like she was going to cry.

“Um, miss, if you know that you feel that way, then why don’t you just keep looking away from them? If you never see them cross your bridge, you won’t get mad. Right?”

Tears started to form in the banshee’s sunken eyes. She shook her head, and her knotted hair flew around her knees and back.

“It- it doesn’t work like that…” She said. She started sobbing.

“Oh hell,” I muttered to myself. “Look, uh, I’m here now. I can be your friend or something, right?” I gave her a desperate look. I promised myself I wouldn’t let anyone die on this bridge.

The banshee let out a wail, and flew past me, to the middle of the bridge. I tried to follow her. “Wait!”

The ghost floated down to the ground of the bridge. “Hold on!” I shouted.

The officers looked back to me. One of them spoke, “Don’t you dare try telling me you didn’t hear that shit.”

“I heard it,” the other said, “but that doesn’t mean I believe it.”

In front of them both, the banshee suddenly become solid. I could see through her before, but now I couldn’t. I hadn’t really thought about until just now. Her cries were very easy to hear.

“What the hell?” The officers swung the flashlights back and saw the banshee crouching on the ground, sobbing.

“Oh no,” I mumbled.

“Ma’am, how did you get here? What are you doing here?” The same officer asked.

The banshee didn’t reply. She just kept crying. One officer nodded to the other, and the second drew his gun.

“Hey now, what’s wrong?” The unarmed officer asked. He stepped toward her, and reached out to her.

She screamed. Furious.

The flames started to appear around her, and the second officer fired at her. She bled, but it was very clear that it made no difference to her. She was still angry. Another scream, and the flames began to charge the officers. The first cried out in pain as the flames licked his flesh. The second ducked, and managed to avoid any fire. He shot at the banshee twice more, and hit both shots. One must have hit her heart, and the other was nearby. She bled from both spots, but that was it. All it did was stain her dress in the spots, and spread outward. The officer who was hit by the flames held his face and stumbled backward. He fell onto his ass, and shouted. The second officer fired once more, hitting the banshee in the head. She only shrieked in response, and more flames appeared, and chased the officers. The one who writhed on the ground caught a lot of the flames, and simply continued to scream in anguish.The other officer fell onto his back, but still caught some of the flames. He also screamed.

Behind me, I heard footsteps crunching up the path. Other officers were coming to help. They didn’t stand a chance, and they wouldn’t notice me.

I didn’t look back. I continued to watch the officers on the bridge be totally lit aflame on the bridge. Gunshots rang out behind me, and I felt bullets soar through me. More red spots appeared on the pale banshee.

After a short while, the banshee stopped screaming. Instead, she fell back down to her knees, and cried some more. The officers behind me had fled after seeing their bullets have no effect. The ones who were burning and dying stopped squirming and shouting shortly after. I walked back over to the banshee.

“Lady, what the fuck is up with all of that! You just killed two people!” I demanded to know what she was doing.

She didn’t lift her head up. Instead, she simply shook her head and showed me three fingers.

“God damn it! Okay, three people. Why?”

The banshee shook her head again. “You’ll forget soon. Then you’ll leave. It doesn’t matter.”

I didn’t understand what she was saying. “That doesn’t make sense. I don’t see how I’ll just forget everything. I’m still me, just,” I paused. “Well, dead. That’s so fucking weird to say.”

I sat down next to the banshee. “My name’s Tucker. Tucker Gold. Do you know your name?” After everything she had said about forgetting, I wasn’t sure if she knew anything about herself.

She shakes her head at me. “This is my bridge. A man pushed me off of it. Now no one is allowed to cross it.” The banshee wasn’t crying anymore, but she certainly wasn’t calm.

I floated away from the banshee. I went back to the entrance of the bridge. The officers were only a short distance away, so I floated toward them.

“There was an unknown entity on the bridge. Two officers approached it, and it burned them to death with some strange flames it created,” one officer said to another. “Besides that, we don’t know anything. We think that thing might have also killed the Gold child.”

The officer who was spoken to grunted. “Go check on the bridge again, and give me a status report on the,” he put up finger quotes, “unknown entity.”

The reporting officer nodded, and jogged off to check the bridge.

“Gregory, do you know anything about that ghost?” I heard an officer ask. I turned to face the sound. Grey was sitting, arms cuffed behind his back, in front of a female officer. The only one I had seen tonight.

“Yeah, I did. I didn’t know it made fucking fire!” he said. “I crossed bridge as a dare once. I ran away too quickly from the ghost to get hit by any fire. Tucker was crossing the bridge to prove there were no ghosts. I really wish he was right.”

I took a few real steps toward Grey. He was staring at the ground. His face lacked any emotion.

“Grey, it’s not your fault,” I said to him.

He looked up at where I was. “I know,” he replied, “but it was so fucking dumb of me.”

The officer turned around. “Who are you talking to?”

Grey shook his head and looked back down. “I don’t know. It doesn’t matter.”

“Son, we just found out tonight that ghosts can exist. If you just spoke to one, I think it’s relevant.” The officer bent over to look at Grey’s face. He didn’t move.

“Maybe I spoke to a ghost. I don’t know. It’s gone now, anyway.”

I wasn’t gone, though. I was still exactly where I was last. I hadn’t moved. What was up with this shit?

The only person who I knew might tell me anything was insane, and could go off on me at any point.

The officer who was questioning Grey walked away. She went and started talking to another officer. They were probably talking about Grey. Either way, I moved closer to him.

Grey kept his head down. He seemed just so… Defeated. I had never seen him like this before. “Grey,” I began, “You’re going to be alright, right man? Nothing’s gonna keep you down. Come on, Grey, listen to me.”

Grey made no motion he had heard me. What did I do before that let him hear me? What do I have to do now to get others to hear me?

Hours passed. Grey was sent home after a short while. After even more time, most of the officers went home. A few others came to take their place, but there were certainly less than at first. The were instructed to simply keep people away from the bridge, and not to touch the bridge itself. That was supposed to be my job.

I sat down at the bridge, and let my head down. Would I be able to sleep, if I wanted to? Do I even need sleep? Hell, what do we even do in our spare time? Nothing good, I imagine.

“Hello,” a female voice spoke into my ear. My head shot up, and I turned to face the sound. It was the banshee again, sitting next to me on the bridge.

“Oh, hey. You scared me for a second.” I scooted away from her just a little bit. She was incredibly close to me.

“I’m sorry. I just noticed you were alone. I’ve been alone for so long.” The banshee looked out past the bridge, and at the town. I followed her gaze.

“I’m sorry. But, I mean, at least I’m here now. We can just be friends here on your bridge, right? You and me, until time itself withers away.” I looked over at the girl, and smiled. She had closed the distance between us again while I wasn’t looking.

“We can be friends,” She agreed. “I would like to have a friend.”

Looking at her, she must have been around 15 years old. That was two years younger than me.

“Well, if we’re friends, we should know each other’s names. I’m Tucker, but you can call me Tuck if you want.”

The banshee didn’t move her face, her eyes, or anything else. “I don’t know my name. I lost it a long time ago.”

Oh, boy. I really didn’t like this ordeal. Just forgetting your name? She must have been on this bridge for much longer than I can think. If she doesn’t know her own name, she probably doesn’t know much else about herself.

“I have to call you something, right? What would you like?” I asked her. She just shook her head.

“Okay,” I said, “Then what if I just gave you a nickname? Something new?”

The banshee smiled and nodded, her eyes still fixed on the town. “I would like that.”

Okay, think quick. We’ve gotta name the girl. Um, banshee is all I’ve been calling her so far, but that probably isn’t very nice. Shit, think. B, B, B… Banshee, bitch, uh, blank, blanca? I’m not very good at this, am I?

“Alright, how about I call you Bianca?” I asked.

“You can call me Bianca,” she answered. “It’s nice to have a friend, Tucker.” She leaned her head on my shoulder and closed her eyes. “It’s nice.”

*****

Bianca and I simply sat in place until the morning came. We talked during the whole night. Bianca had a lot of questions about and for me, and I had an equal amount of answers. She found out that Grey was last the person I had talked to before dying. When I asked her a question of the same manner, she told me it was the same bad man who threw her off of the bridge. She nuzzled closer to me after saying that. We could both feel each other, in a sense, but we really didn’t have any physical ability beyond that.

“So have you ever fallen asleep while you were here?” I asked.

“No,” she replied. “Sleeping isn’t something we can do. We just lay still, with nothing but angry thoughts to bide the time. I don’t like being alone.”

I could see that. I kind of did the same thing when I was alone, too. I don’t think I festered my anger over a couple hundred years, however.

“I see. So we’ll just sit here and talk. Man, it would have been nice to not need sleep while I was alive.”

Bianca giggled at that. It’s weird how your humor changes after you die, I think.

“What kind of things would you do instead of sleep?” Bianca asked.

“Well, I would play a lot more video games. I would just stay up all night and play, then go to school in the morning. I could just do my homework before I left, too, and that would save me time as well. I would love that.”

“I don’t know what a video game is,” Bianca informed me.

“Oh. Well, did you ever see films or movies or anything like that?” I looked to her for an answer. She shook her head.

“You had to have seen a photo, though, right?” I really needed something she knew.

“I have seen photos, yes. They don’t have any color, though. They look like dead versions of reality.”

“Okay, a film is like a moving picture,” I began to tell her.

“You mean like a zoetrope?” She cut me off.

I hadn’t seen a zoetrope since I was six. “Yeah, kind of. Except the image doesn’t just repeat, it does different. Like, imagine a train running down this bridge, and some people on horses chasing after it. That would be more like a film. For a long while, they were just black and white. But after some time, they became color.”

“That sounds interesting. That’s something I might like to see,” Bianca said.

“Movies are cool, but video games are cooler. Video games are like a film, except you get to control a person and tell them where to go.”

Bianca sat up straight. “That’s impossible. That can’t exist.”

I shrugged. “It does. I’ve lived with them all of my life. There were people before who couldn’t believe trains existed, but you know they do.”

Bianca leaned back onto me. “I guess you’re right. It just seems so crazy.”

“It probably is,” I replied. “They didn’t exist thirty years ago. In the span of time, they only became a thing recently.”

Bianca nodded.

“Did you have any siblings at home?” She asked me.

“No, not really. I was an only child. Though, I guess my parents don’t have a child anymore.”

“No. But now I have a friend. I’m sorry I killed you.”

I didn’t say anything for a while. I didn’t know what Bianca was. I knew she couldn’t hurt me anymore, but she could still hurt others. All I would be able to is watch, most likely. I wasn’t sure I wanted any of this.

In the end, I decided on what I should say. “I’m sorry I tried crossing your bridge. I didn’t even think you existed when I was crossing.

In the distance, I heard engines growl. I could tell they were HUGE engines. It seemed strange to have them coming so quickly. What kind of trucks would you need here?

“Hey Bianca, I hear something. I’m going to check it out. I’ll be back.”

“Okay,” she said. “I’ll think about some of the things you’ve told me.”

I floated through the woods, until I eventually found the source of the rumbling. There was one incredibly loud truck, with a large trailer behind it. The truck was filled with men.

“The mayor declared this a state of emergency. We’re taking down the bridge tonight, before anyone else can cross,” The driver of the truck said to an officer.

“Alright, you can tear this bridge down once my boss tells me it’s safe,” replied the woman who talked to Grey last night. “We’re under strict orders to keep everyone away from this bridge. It’s a matter of life and death, and the mayor can kiss my ass if he thinks he’s overriding orders.”

Oh god. They planned on destroying the bridge. I had no idea how much time I had until it was to be torn down, but I couldn’t let it happen. I had to do something.

But what could I do? I didn’t know what I should do to stop this. I couldn’t even stop two men from walking to their own dooms. There was nothing here that I could actually affect. The officers wouldn’t listen, the construction men wouldn’t listen, and if I could get to the mayor, he couldn’t listen either.

There was only one person here who could listen to me. Bianca. She was the only one with any sort of agency with me. I needed to talk with her.

I rushed back to the bridge. I needed to do something to handle Bianca and get us away from the bridge. There had to be something I could do.

“Hey, Bianca, you haven’t heard of airplanes, have you?” I asked once she was in range. Still seated, she shook her head at me.

“Well, airplanes are kind of like flying trains. Imagine the engine of a train, but with big and stiff metal wings that poke out of the side. It’s a bit like that, but they fly through the air,” I said.

“That sounds incredible!” She stood and shouted.

“Would you like to see one? You and I could just get out of here, and go get on an airplane. We could see the world, right?” I moved to her, and grabbed her shoulders. “There is so much to see, and we have all the time in the world.”

Bianca looked away from me. “My bridge…”

I waited for her to say more. She didn’t. “The bridge will be waiting here when we get back. You can come back to this home.”

Bianca shook her head. “I think I need to think about this more. I haven’t ever left my bridge.” Bianca shrugged my hands off, and walked down her bridge. “I’ve never left this bridge.”

I followed her at a slight distance. “You had to have gone places besides the bridge when you were alive. Right?”

Bianca stood at looked out at the town. “That was so long ago. I haven’t left in so long.”

I stood next to her. “It hasn’t been that long for me. I can show you the way. Please, Bianca. Let’s go.”

Bianca doesn’t reply. She continues to stare out at the town. She didn’t speak. I didn’t attempt to say anything either. I didn’t know how she worked. I didn’t know how I worked.

“I was thrown over the edge of this bridge. I died, then remembered waking up again on the bridge. I was scared and confused. I didn’t know where to go or what to do. I didn’t know how to go back to town. I was lost out on this bridge. So, I never left. Trains would pass me by, but at one point they stopped. All I could do was wait. Then, someone tried to walk across. I was angry at them. I had been alone for so long, and I didn’t want anyone to intrude on that. He died- I killed him!

“I had never before in my life thought that I could do what that terrible man did to me. Yet, I did. He fell off of the bridge. I didn’t remember doing anything but screaming at him to go away. Yet, he was gone. I heard him shout as he fell. Then he stopped.”

Bianca continued to stare out in the distance. I heard the engines again. They were driving, and I think they were driving to the bridge.

“I don’t know anymore, Tucker. I don’t know why I’m here. I don’t know if I should be glad for that or angry. I don’t know if that makes it harder to leave or not. I feel as if staying here is the only option I had.” Bianca turned to look at me.

I opened my mouth. The engine stuttered at the base of the bridge, then turned off. I heard faint voices below.

“Bianca, you don’t have any happy memories at this bridge,” I said.

“I have you. The bridge gave you to me,” Bianca replied.

I don’t think that’s how the bridge works. “I suppose that’s true. But I’ll still be with you, bridge or no bridge.”

Bianca was silent for a moment. She was probably thinking.

I didn’t know how much time I had left to get away from the bridge.

“Maybe I’m a parting gift from the bridge. It could be telling you to go ahead and live your life. Well, ironically.”

Bianca giggled. She knew a lot more than I would have expected some young girl from over a hundred years ago to know.

“Maybe you’re right. Maybe it is time I left the bridge. But where would we go? All I’ve known is that I need to keep this bridge as my own.”

“You’ve let me onto your bridge now, haven’t you?”

She said nothing. She sat down on the bridge. “I think I’ll miss the bridge. I’ve been here for so long, I find it hard to imagine anything else.”

I squatted down next to her. “It’s okay to miss things. We’ll come back and visit if you feel too homesick.” Below us, the engine roared to life once more. Were they just looking at the bridge or something?

“So are you ready to go?” I asked Bianca. It seemed like she had made up her mind.

“Yeah. We can go now. I just want to bid the bridge farewell. You go on ahead.”

“Alright. I’ll wait for you just at that end over there.” I walked to wear I had motioned, and did what I said I would. I watched Bianca as she did what she felt she needed to do with her bridge.

“It’s too bad I didn’t get to say goodbye to anyone. I hope nobody misses me too much.”

Then, an explosion. The bottom of the bridge suddenly flashed a bright white color. I looked at the bridge. It was falling. Bianca simply floated above it as it crumbled.

“BIANCA!” I flew to her. “Bianca, the bridge doesn’t matter. I’m right here. Come on, let’s go. Let’s leave the bridge. We have so many other things that we could do. Have you ever been to Italy? I heard Italy is amazing.”

Bianca simply stared below her. She made no motion she had heard me.

“Bianca?” I put my hand on her shoulder. It slipped through her. “Oh no.”

She shrieked, and color began to appear around us. She dove down. She was looking for the people who ruined her bridge.

I only watched. It was too late. There was nothing else I could. I was wrong about everything. I was wrong about ghosts, I was wrong about Bianca being an angry banshee, and I was wrong to think I could help her get away from the bridge.

I slowly sank down. I was wrong. I was wrong. I was WRONG.

I roared in agony as I fell. I held my head in my hands. I was wrong I was wrong I WAS WRONG!

Flames crackled around me, from the decimated bridge. I stood up and wiped my face. I don’t know if I actually cried, but I know I shouted again. The flames around me grew bigger and brighter as I yelled. I looked toward the town and saw blue explosions.