His name was Sahir.
He died in front of me.
I have been in this nightmare, torn from my true self, for three years now. It's hard to even keep count. I know I am in a coma, and that what I'm experiencing now is a dream, but as time passes in this nightmare, I am able to recall less and less of reality. I have to rely more and more on the broken notes I wrote when I can here, and those are scrambled by a mind that had no context for the world around her. I had found a small routine in the horror, a place to stay, a library to visit daily, a way to get food. None of this has ever made any sense, and I've given up on trying to force logic onto this place. I just want to back. I just want to wake up. I am so, so tired. When that man came to me, talking of a contract and a mission, I could accept knowing that none of it mattered. This was just another way to try to jolt myself into waking up.
I knew I wouldn't wake up. It's been three years now. I knew I wouldn't actually succeed in the only way that mattered to me. If I'm being honest with myself, this was a way to pass the time that did not involve the risk of sleeping deeper into the dream, the sleep wuthin sleep when my body betrays me. I went waiting to wake or waiting to die.
If I am honest with myself, I went on this mission half hoping to die.
There were four men with me, all more experienced in the way of this than me. One, Damian, would barely speak to us. Niel was more friendly. Victor had an old feud of some sort with Sahir. I didn't know the whole of it. I had thought there would be time to ask more, to try to make friends with these men and learn from them, after. During the mission, they were all business. Sahir and Victor worked together despite the animosity. I stood useless, despite my best efforts, for much of the mission. And then came the attack they'd all seemed to be waiting for. And then I watched this man I barely knew die.
He cursed Victor with his dying breath, but Victor wasn't the one who killed him. It was the accursed mission. I think it could have been any of us. Why not me? I half hoped to die. I don't think Sahir did.
My hands delivered the proof of the mission to the person who had hired us. They didn't question that they had sent out five to complete the task and only four remained. We didn't take his body back-- we burned the place where we had fought and we left his corpse to feed those flames. And that was that. No one wept, not in the heat of battle (my own tears came later). If his family was informed of his passing, if he had family to mourn him, I did not hear of it. His death was winessed by a man he cursed, men he seemed to have no connection to, and me, a dream of a girl.
And I know none of it matters. This is a nightmare. Nightmares don't have to make sense. There doesn't need to be meaning in this horror, and searching for meaning will just drive me more mad than I already am. But I wish there was a story. I wish I could make sense of the end of Sahir's life.
He was kinder than some on the mission, I thought, or perhaps he had the potential to be. I wish I had the chance to speak to him again. I wish it had not been him who died.
I know. Wishes mean nothing.
Come the next mission, I know I will go again, and I know whatever happens there, it will not matter. But I wish, more than anything, I had the comfort of making this a story.
Until I Wake,
(previous page in journal contains the signatures of Jack, Arturus Cruetz, and Mike Shroud, along with any sketches or notes they thought to doodle in Mildred's journal. Acurus's businesscard is also slipped inside the pages. Bu Fang's invitation to sign the journal was rescinded after her revealed his unusual dietary choices to the group.)
I must have written daily in my real life. My hand is too used to the feel of writing to not have been devoted to keeping a journal. I wonder what I wrote so much about before. Poetry? Stories? An account of a safer, kinder life? Did I start each entry with 'Dear Diary', as if the pages were a personal friend?
Today I saw the aftermath of a massacure.
The strange metal transportation container was full of the dead, victims of a nightmarish sporing mushroom plant and the human hosts it had acquired.
I met one of the hosts, before I knew of her disease, before I knew even that that this mission would involve mushrooms. She bumped into me by accident. I didn't know anything, but she had already been infected. Her eyes were a lovely glowing blue that I did not yet know was sign of this monstrous creature. Still, she seemed human. She seemed gentle, actually. She had a shy, nervous demeanor. I honestly had hoped we could be friends, when I bumped into her. It would be nice to have a friend in this nightmare. I wanted to stop her, ask her name (Megan, we later found out). I let her go wondering if I would see her on the return bus, hoping the best for her in the job she was trying out for. Instead, actions she could not fully control lead the deaths of countless people. So many victims for such a small plant. Or plantlike thing.
Plant seems too benign for the dread mushrooms. The vines that protect me, those are, for all their grey coloring, good, rich, living defenses, true plants, seeking only to protect. The mushroom sought only to create and devour the dead. And while this time, none of us sent to stop it were destroyed, it took more than its share of causalties.
I wonder if there ever was a chance to save the people infected. We didn't try. We didn't have time to try. So many were so fully invested in combat. I would have liked to try. But in this nightmare, you fight or you become one of the many bodies left to burn.
I remain the only female I've seen completing a mission. There was a woman in pink we spoke to at the end, but my teammates were all male. They were friendlier this time, and none of them died (poor Sahir, may he find peace). I had them sign my journal-- well, all save the one who spoke of eating human flesh. Acturus Cruetz gave me a golden stilus, a hazmat suit (both of my missions have involved handling sensitive materials, so I was very gratefu for that), and a business card. I don't know what exactly I'm supposed to do with card, but I will endevour to find out, for the sake of friendship.
It could have been a lot worse. As is, I find I despise mushrooms now.
Until I Wake,