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Arnolds (New) Journal: From a Hospital Bed

Sunday June 5th:  Decisions, Destructions, and Doubts

Today Miss Maddox gave me a new journal to replace the one that I had lost.  Due to the fact that I have completely lost track of time while passing in and out of consciousness and while being stuck in bed in the windowless and clock-less Triage; also for the fact that my old journal has been lost and I cannot recall the exact date that I was on, I am forced to not only start over but to drop the count of how many days it’s been since we have arrived in New Babbage. 

Besides the loss of my clothes and my journal, which are nowhere to be found though that would have been good to know considering it could prove to me whether or not certain things really did or did not happen…the only permanent damage appears to be that a cluster of nerves where I was struck are now permanently dead…though there is the possibility my other motor functions may suffer as well.  I only walked for the first time today and that was with supervision by Maddox.

I’m not sure what has happened since the night that I was struck, and I have trouble believing that what I thought happened actually happened anymore.  I do think I was struck by lightning, of that I have no doubts.  It’s when and why I was struck that becomes the issue in my mind now.

I suppose it would be best to start at the beginning.  I had taken Nathaniel to the Bucket, a place I will admit I had been avoiding ever since I learned what the Mayor meant when he was talking about wards when he looked up to that room, or that the Underby’s were practitioners, or that creatures of all kinds were prone to gather there.  The last thing I wanted was to get us all killed in an explosion, burn the entire place down, evaporate those wards completely, or strengthen them so that they were now trapping some of the people in the Bucket as well. While none of those did happen, I think it too much of a coincidence that I got struck by lightning that same night.

No one seems to take my claims that I’m cursed very seriously, but I never really expected them to.  How can they believe in something that I myself do not believe?  I know that these things are real, Lionheart turning from human to not is just one example of evidence I would have to be utterly brain dead or in complete denial to ignore, I do not however, believe in them or put any faith in them.  They do not know I am cursed, yet, so why should they treat it seriously?

I was hoping that New Babbage would suppress that, and before that night I hadn’t known whether or not it had been successful.  I would say that it had been successful, and I would not have gotten struck, if I hadn’t been a fool and chanced fate one too many times that night.  Just taking Nathan to the Bucket once wasn’t the problem.  It was going back to speak to Dr. Sonnerstein after I lead Nathan away that was the mistake.

I spent an hour or more in the Bucket, long enough to hear Miss Phaedra openly threaten Mr. Underby with Pip.  She said she had studied under…if only I could have written down that name that night I wouldn’t have so much trouble remembering it now…Mama Danielle or something like it.  Mr. Underby was quite overcome and sat on his stairs for a time to recover.

Maggie came downstairs afterwards, which is another person I’ve recently discovered I should probably avoid for both our sakes, but still I stayed.  Maggie had an open hostility towards Dr. Sonnerstein and she’d heard the rumors about him.  Strangely I’ve just come to a realization about who has been spreading those rumors about him and why. 

Oh well. It’s not like it’s important.  I suppose I should tell Scald though, Maggie didn’t impress Sonnerstein with her hostility, but his son was crying that night because he couldn’t defend his father.

Since Caspian and Scald were alone in the Gut that night, thrown out by Maggie, I followed them to keep them safe.  They went to the pond outside the walls and there I saw first hand that Caspian was not completely human, which I had suspected from the scent anyways.

He demonstrated a little control over water to prove it though, and I quickly departed.  After all that negativity, and the chance for something to go wrong in the Bucket the last thing I needed was for Caspian to push it all over the edge and kill us all.

I retreated to the wall, to watch over the children still to make sure they were all right, but…that is when it happened.

There was a flash of light, and that was when I now think was when I was really struck by the lightning…but I also can’t discount completely what flashed next…even if it was just a hallucination that occurred when I was struck.

Rain had begun to fall around me, from what had been a clear sky.  At first I suspected that Caspian had played a trick on me when he had noticed that I was watching them still, and he had been insistent that I leave.

I tried to leave as fast as possible, before it backfired as I knew could happen not just in Babbage but around me, but that was when I noticed that the rain was shifting…turning darker.  It was turning red, like blood, and there was a small flash of light above me and a clasp of weak thunder.

I knew that I was in danger, and so was everyone around me.  I hoped that Scald and Caspian were too far away to be harmed, one in a tree and the other in a pond, to get caught up in what was going to happen next as the first lightning bolt fell near me.  It was a small and weak bolt, but it was still enough electricity to kill me I was sure should it have hit.  As it was I was surprised that it didn’t flow through the blood and shock me either way…

I threw my gun over the wall since it was partly metal and went to all fours to escape, but the wind picked up then and another lightning flash blocked my exit.  I tried again, but failed.  The wind now trying, it seemed, to push me over the wall.  I tried to escape again, but the bolts and wind shifted so that no matter how I tried to escape I couldn’t.

I went to the ground and set myself against the wind to let it blow over me, but I felt trapped, as if the storm itself was trying to kill me.  I could not escape, I had already tried and failed, so now I had given up on trying.  It occurred to me in my mind that this might have been the ”Worse” that I had challenged so long ago when I first got here.

Only a fool challenges ”Worse”…so I must be a great fool indeed, even in a hallucination, because the next thing I did was to raise my hands in the air and scream “Do your worst!”

A lightning bolt flashed near me, but it hit the stone wall.  The bolt was even smaller than the first two, and seemed much weaker than I would have expected since I had just demanded the worst it could possibly deliver.  Even the thunder that rang in my ears and made them cringe were disappointed, but another thought had occurred to me.  Perhaps this wasn’t just the ”Worse” I had challenged.  What had I heard Jedburgh or Hono say as he had left that day?  I remember standing up and thrusting my hands into the air, ignoring the rain and the wind all to clearly as I shouted.  “All gods are idiots!”

Another lightning bolt seemed like it was going to form at that time, but then it dissipated.  Apparently the Builder, if he’s even real, or all the other gods I just insulted apparently had either nothing to do with this or they’d just tried to retaliate and failed.

I didn’t stop there.  I cursed everyone who could have possibly sent this storm to kill me, because now I had come to think that this was intentional and not just an accident.  I cursed the Underby’s, Caspian, Loosestrife, Miss Hermit, everyone from Cala Mondrago, and when I ran out of ”practicioners” that I knew of I moved on to scientists and creatures of questionable origins.  Sonnerstein, Doctor Dinosaur, Tenk, Victor, Maggie, Grendel Footman, the entire Church of the Builder, and even Lionheart and Mr. Harvey. 

Lightning flashed and failed around me, always seeming as if it was trying to kill me, but failing.  I began to wonder if the sole blame of all this was my own, that my own curse had created the storm, and then formed it to the point that it couldn’t even aim?  Could it not do the one thing that it was now actively trying to do?

I looked up at the storm itself and said, “Can’t you do anything right?”

That, was when I was finally struck.

I don’t remember much of the next few days or how I got to the hospital…and while the events had seemed so real at the time I have trouble believing they really happened now.  As a hallucination caused by the lightning strike that may have occurred first before all of this, I could say that the storm must represent myself, especially when the last comment was the only one that was able to spur it into action while insulting the others did nothing to strengthen it’s resolve.

If so I wasn’t crossing the lines of idiocy, stupidity, or anything else besides succumbing to what Freud referred to as the death drive, which is much worse.  He wrote of the death drive as someone reaching for the ”Ultimate Calm”.  I was seeking death, in this hallucination if that’s what it was and even if it’s not that only makes it worse because then that would mean I had literally tried to kill myself pointlessly.  I admit that I sometimes jump, when thinking of how to defend Maddox or even how to avenge her should the worst happen, to conclusions that would kill myself in the process.  Strapping dynamite to my chest and hugging whatever enemy caused this situation close as we go to perdition together has long been in my mind and I even procured the dynamite the other week.

If it was a hallucination, then the names I brought up could also just be representations of all the times I had chanced fate just by being around them the past few months.  As it is, perhaps it was good that only I was hit by the consequences of my curse that night…it could have easily erupted on Scald and Caspian, the Underby’s, Sonnerstein, Mr. Spires, or anyone else I’ve ever come into contact with.  Even if it was only from a single bolt from the sky, which had been clear of everything except for smog that day.  That is the one reason I am sure that it had to be the curse, even if everything that happened after wasn’t real. 

What’s worse about it all is that today I learned that Cala Mondrago suffered an earthquake and sank into the sea completely vanished.  Maddox tells me I can’t blame myself, but in a place where magic seems to be rich and they don’t even have Babbage’s nature to protect them from what I cause I don’t think I can look at it any other way.

I know I might be wrong, but whenever a bad thing happens I always blame myself anyways.  After all, how can I prove that I wasn’t involved when all I do is cause bad luck and for things to go wrong around me?  I blame myself for Mr. Spires getting shot, Tenks cough, Miss Hermit’s home burning down….everything that goes wrong around me, how can I know what is my fault, and what would have occurred nonetheless?

It has settled in my mind however, that I will be getting one of those reality enforcing devices, for my safety and for the safety of those around me.  That should be the end of my worries on that matter, but I’m afraid that my worst enemy shall always be myself.

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