Amarian was in the Admissions Office filling out paper work and answering questions as well as asking what he thought were the usual 'necessary' questions. But the clever counselor he was speaking with prompts him to ask questions that were more of interest to him. They didn't want students to conform to the college without the college also conforming to the students –they had to be a fit for each other. He was familiar with this tactic –a few other colleges tried that too [*especially the huge universities that wanted to seem more personable but could never be because they were too big and face it, self-concerned]. So he inquired about the historic aspect of the college and the area. The counselor admitted to not knowing fully about the town's historic aspect in the way she suspected he wanted to know, but that she did know someone who could tell him all about it. But he was an old man and very selective with when he wants to be bothered so she suggested in the meantime he could feel free to read in their campus library –it was more extensive than the public library –she proudly states.
He was very satisfied and impressed with the counselor and how comfortable he felt at the college. He was becoming more and more excited about being accepted and starting next year. Graduating high school didn’t seem as daunting [or tedious] a task anymore and even the distance became less of an issue with him. The affordability of the college took a lot of stress off both him and his parents –he would apply for scholarships, of course –but he wouldn't worry as much about trying to earn the larger amounts or free rides –it wasn't that he was an underachiever or a poor student but the way scholarships were rigged you were set up to fail and are convinced you're a failure for even thinking of trying. [Really, because college seemed a bit more affordable, he felt he could slack off a bit].
"Do you want a student tour guide or just walk around yourselves?"
"Oh, I don't need a guide –the maps will serve its purpose. I just want to go to the library, really."
"Ok! Well, be sure to wear this visitors' badge so the campus security won't bar you from freely walking around."
He nods, thanks her and puts on his tag –his parents do likewise.
They left the office and his mom admits that she loves how secure and quaint and peaceful the college seemed. She would be applying next semester herself.
"No mom! That's quite alright!"
"Oh, stop thinking about yourself." She winks.
"If you do, I'll have to apply to their rival college…"
They all laugh. "Dad, I don't think you want to be beat by your son… it would be embarrassing, yes?"
"For you? Yeah, most likely. But don't worry, mascots get to cover their faces, do they not?"
"On a serious note –can I go to the library? I might be there until closing…"
"Sure –this is as much your vacation as ours, after all. When you're ready to leave, just call."
"Great! See you guys later!"
He practically skips towards the library while his parents head towards the car and leaves. Once he reaches the library, he scopes out somewhere relatively private or if not [exam week after all] some place comfortable [or unoccupied, rather]. Presently he comes across both a cozy and private corner so he grabs whatever could look like a 'place holder', occupies that space and returns to the front. There was no librarian that he could tell only someone who looked like a work study student. So he approaches him and asks for help searching for the history of the college and town. The assistant was quite helpful –welcomed him to the college; showed him where to find the books and even how to search for extra information online using the colleges research portal.
He found as many books, and newspapers as he could and settled down. All that was missing was a hot drink [he abhors coffee] and study music. Most of what he found out about the town was fascinating but had no link to his town, his inn. Maybe this wasn't the college that the Owner founded even though this college fits the timeline. It was a bit disappointing, but he continued his research… with continued unsuccess. Perhaps he was asking the wrong questions –no he was certain he wasn't asking the right questions such as –if he was successful at finding the right information what was he planning on doing with it, anyway? He was so excited about his newfound purpose that he forgot that to have a new purpose he should do new actions: you don't solve an old problem using a new item in an old way –it defeats the purpose of possessing that new item. He sighed. It wasn't a complete waste because he does like history but he also realized that the surrounding area is a town, not a city. He returned all the books and newspapers in their proper places and was walking towards the door.
"Did you find everything you were looking for?"
"Oh! Well I think this is an interesting area. Even now, it seems the town is frozen in time."
"Really? Oh. You must have been to the older part. The main area is cozy and… well not as exciting as a city but not without modern amenities. I really like this place because of the town feel even though population wise we're a city."
"Yeah ~ it happened only recently, and the locals still refer to it as a town. I want to keep it that way as well. It makes this campus unique."
"Wait… so are the older newspapers wrong? How big is this town, really?"
"Actually, you'd have to look in the town ~ city's records. The boundaries are a bit weird… hmmm well most boundaries are bizarre but what I mean is that this whole area is rumored to have been bought from the state and belonged to some private owner, so private no one knows his name or even how that transpired, really. I guess if you're rich you can buy land and do what you want with it, but… cities are still owned by the states, right…?"
What do you do with the information –the following events were most likely unimportant, he vaguely remembered that at least he thanked the guy and left the library. He didn’t remember calling his parents at all but there they were, waiting to pick him up and return to the hotel. He didn’t want to keep the information to himself since his mother did say they would support him and because he really didn’t know what step to take –he knew what he wanted to do; he hoped he would see her one more time to tell her what he discovered –wouldn’t even ask if she already knew, he didn’t need to know what she knew in case he would become the enemy [again].
Back at the hotel, he somewhat recalled detailing what he had learned –all that time wasted only to find key information by talking to a work study student.
What do you do with that information –his parents sat with him and attempted to hatch a plan not of what he could do next, but what he would do in the event of confronting Feral Eyes. His mother felt certain that an encounter was imminent [if not for him, at least for her] so he should have something that he could hold on to so he wouldn’t lose sight of reality. What he used to consider so childish and silly –these kinds of 'safe words' in the event of stranger danger –seemed very comforting and not so silly any more. There was something to words, something powerful that he could no longer ridicule or be skeptical about. However… he wasn’t so certain that doing nothing was an option –everything he's been doing so far to him felt suspiciously as though he were carrying out Feral Eyes' malevolent designs. When one doesn’t think [or know] about it, on the surface it seemed innocent enough but such is its insidious nature –are people really willing to not know whom they are serving because they want that comfortable life? After going through what he did, he couldn’t bring himself to even throw away his free will for whatever his heart desired… even though he wanted happiness and comfortableness –he wasn’t so sure that this was what he should want anymore. He was uncertain that even if it was okay to want to be happy, that this was the way he could do it, knowing that it would harm others even if he didn’t know how it would or to what extent.
He was very disgusted with humanity because yes! Many people DO simply want a 'comfortable' and 'normal' life! Yet, he also felt profoundly troubled by the anger fatigue and helplessness it engendered. He was relieved, however, that it didn't cripple him to antipathy or despair in fact, these emotions, he realized, were okay to have because he was moved –it wasn't as hopeless when you had others aspiring to the same goal. … But… back to his predicament of playing right into Feral Eyes' hands –whether or not that's giving him too much credit –he had gone ahead and researched about the city even though he possibly shouldn't have. But what was done was done… although he doesn’t really see how knowing a town was a city would make that much of a difference. 'It's the small things that you don't understand that prevents you from seeing the bigger picture.' Some voice admonished him. A woman's voice much like hers.
"Are you communicating with me?" he says out loud startling his parents.
"I thought we were… unless we were just conferencing with Feral Eyes again…?" His father says, half joking –a little worried and a lot bit confused.
"Ah, no ~ sorry, I meant she spoke to me in my head… I think. Ah, ok. She's telling me to stop thinking about her, she's very busy... ah, she's studying for her exams. Huh… well, actually she used the word obsessed. I'm not obsessing over her…"
"… Maybe not outwardly… but… if you're thinking about her. A lot. It might perhaps could possibly be considered obsessing… It's very dangerous especially now, don't you think? You could be endangering her…" dad warns in surprisingly a loving sarcastic way.
"Sorry son, you do have my genes which doesn't include commonsense."
"Lucky for me, I also inherited quick wits from mom at least. It's one of my most endearing traits."
"Pah! Hahahahaha." His mother couldn’t stop laughing. "Endearing, huh? Maybe that's a hint I should retire that part of my character…"
"No!" both husband and son shouted.
"You'd better not! I married you for that. [She raised her eyebrows in a 'that's it' questioning expression ~ then smiled and winked. He air kissed her and turned to his son] But, really –how, did you connect? What else did she say?"
"She says that she's very sensitive. When she meets people and establishes a connection whether it be situational or her [direct decision] –the more the other person thinks about her the more intertwined their [our] fates become. So, yes, mom you're correct in thinking I'm now endangering her… but she claims the only reason she actually responded to me than to others who think about her is because well, one she's never actually tried it before but really because she was experimenting with connecting to me in exactly how Feral Eyes was able to connect with me."
The father turned to his wife and grabbed her by the shoulders, "Honey, we need to connect on that level as well –why haven't we done that before?"
She grabbed his shoulders as well and gazed into his eyes. "Are we connecting yet?"
"Get a room. Not THAT kind of connection!" He felt his face flush, and hastily added admittedly, "Subconsciously –I thought about her even as I didn't know her name but I suppose since I went through what I did, she was there that the words I thought or even an image of her that I didn’t know I was thinking about as I was wording my thoughts just made it easier to summon her…? Does that make sense? I'm going to try not to think anymore –this is unnecessarily complicated. Also, she said, since you asked, that she doesn't believe that I'm body less voice. More specifically, she says that there's a sliver of chance that I'm not and that she's holding on to that small chance… so am I, actually even though it's still good to be cautious [he saw his mom nod his head proudly at him –he felt himself blushing again] –When we were together in the room, he didn’t say anything at all. It was when she first entered the inn; when she was setting me free –ah, but here, she says that it sounded more unfocused, as though it lost where she was or was determining what to do –and it was its strongest when we neared 'the room'… Yet once we were inside, it stopped shouting at her –her word, since that's really all it sounded like –as though there was a barrier it didn't wish to cross. "
"And, she also assured me that even though I researched when I possibly shouldn't have –a truth about Feral Eyes: he speaks to our desires and takes advantage of our weakness, yes –but he doesn’t control us, or what we do –we do what he wants because we want to do it –bottom line. Being afraid isn't a deterrent for not doing something bad in fact it's more likely to aid in his cause: to not do something is worse than doing something and messing up. Mistakes we can work with, but we can't work with something not done. In the same way fear is used to count against us –we can use his rage against himself. Anger exposes him to making mistakes while his pride causes him to overestimate his own abilities and power. It's a small window of timing but it's there and we have to exploit that when it happens."
"She's wise, son. For her sake, I hope you don't endanger her." His dad says quietly. His wife looks at him, startled at how gravely he says that [well, true it was no laughing matter, but] as well as the fact that he repeated this statement. Amarian nods his head and looks down. He had already vowed to frustrate Feral Eyes' plans… well, him and whatever other evils exist. As he was thinking, it occurred to him, that he could help her anonymously at first –he would create a blog but only publish content. He would have to find someone to be the administrator who would be more involved than he. Perhaps her friend could help…? He didn't know, but he did want to do more and it was one of the more passive active ways he could think of at the moment.
"Amarian, I'm going to say this only once in your life," his mother began, "But I disagree with your father. [They both look stunned because she disagrees with him in private, never in front of their son] Now hear me out –it's not one of those usual disagreements that I may have with him because he's not entirely wrong… in that he actually interacted with her while I was outside with you –so the only evidence about her character that I have comes from what you describe about her and explanation of what she said directly, so as I've said he may not be wrong but to me – She seems to know the danger that she's already in and realizes that yet she still was willing to connect with you. She didn’t tell you her name and she didn’t wish to know your name because she knows that there is power in identity. So her last line of defense for herself is that you don't know her name not –not knowing her or how many people will rise against him although that too may have an effect –I'm no strategist, I know not such things [she smiles knowingly]. So endangering her further at this point seems far-fetched [and patronizing] because, I'm going out on a limb, she knows everything you know, so to me, the only way to 'further' imperil her is to directly stop her yourself or give insights directly to Feral Eyes yourself. You don't know anything she doesn’t want you to know so I don't foresee that specifically being a problem."
They were both silent. The father couldn’t argue against such insight. That was why he married her after all… after quick wits, of course. And his son was lost in thought, but you could practically feel his relief; how encouraged he felt and his resolve. It was a moment he would never forget. He didn’t mind about even being partially wrong –he just grasped how she expertly admonished him without admonishing him for making the other woman appear like a damsel in distress who should be protected from a guy's stupidity. Women don't need protecting as much as men need self-checking: she didn’t need help so much as support and there was a power in perceiving nuances and beauty and privilege in witnessing it without explaining it away as mere semantics, derailing real change.
"Ah, no –actually, that's completely accurate. She did seem like a capable young woman, and very… able to adapt as the situation calls for it. Your declaration revealed a different perspective of that moment that I would not have caught or even thought about again. What I had asked her about her college she answered with such conviction that it was perfect for him. Now, of course, I think it odd she would say that, not knowing anything about him. But it makes complete sense for her to say that knowing what she did about Amarian –not that he likes history but that there was something about that college that he needed to discover even if he was an underling of Feral Eyes. Knowledge is a double edged sword and is more dangerous to us when we don't use it even after acquiring it. Even I feel more moved to do something now."
"Yes! Please do help us." He described his plan of action: they were impressed and requested he assist with planning their actions as well. It was a little more difficult. He offered, "Perhaps a plan isn't necessary –but if you were more like her and 'do' as the situation arises you could help awaken people in that way and then when they are even more receptive then you could provide the support."
"… Mom, I think he would want to come after you and those who directly frustrated his plans so you might have to have a more active combatant role…" Amarian says solemnly.
She concurred, "I am aware of that and am prepared. I am neither alone nor afraid. What is it you kids say nowadays? YOLO…?"
Her husband face palmed and his son looked horrified.
"MOM! Carpe Diem –you are so Carpe Diem-ing that… No! No YOLO –ing that's stupid."
She laughed hysterically at them. Then they both looked at her with the 'we've been duped' expression. She was having too much fun at their expense, they both decided… but eh, it was funny… a little. Only a little. She couldn’t stop laughing –perhaps being an evil genius and exultant laughter cliché-ingly went well together –she concluded.
"I now declare our subconscious connection over." Dad says.
She laughed harder. "Oh, stop –I'm more useful alive than dead ~ but thanks for the abdominal workout ~"
"If there are some things you two kids need to work out –your room is right there…"
His parents laughed harder.
"As for me, I learned that when we feel most vulnerable and most lost we always think about someone who we believe knows even if or when they aren't physically there and/or cannot help. I wonder though if subconsciously we think about someone or thing higher than ourselves for whatever our desires may be and we begin to listen to whatever we consider the most beneficial to us… As for myself, I love history and learning so it was easy for me to believe that the desire to learn the secrets of the inn and [just recently] any historical ties of this college and town to ours was mine. But the strength of that obsession –for that's what it became –began to frighten me when I thought about it, because it didn’t seem like my own at that point. Why would I want to obtain the rights to the inn and the town no matter the cost? Why was I so certain that I would do a better job than the previous proprietors? It was no longer me –and so I fought to regain my 'self'. But I would never have had a chance if it weren't for her help. Even if her intentions weren't to save me necessarily it didn’t matter –it doesn’t matter because here I still am. It's a big gamble but… as she admonished me –there's a bigger picture, just because we don't understand what it is doesn’t mean that we should dis count the little pieces that make that picture."
"… Again, I see why you would obsess about her… you sound so different now –a man I do not even recognize. But easily, I can respect you."
"Ah… thanks, dad… Awwww obsessed, again with that word."
"Is that really your take away from that statement?" Mom was bemused. "I do believe it's my fault that you guys don't really know how to properly express yourselves without the repartees. My deep condolences."
"Are you saying that non ironically??" Amarian's voice rose an octave, for whatever reason, he couldn’t understand.
"I didn’t know your voice could get that high, and yes, actually I was being quite serious… although it is rather hilarious to listen to you too awkwardly relay your feelings to each other. Many may consider this 'late' to work on at this stage in your life –but it's never too late!"
"Okay, I really can't tell if you're just pulling my leg or not. But I'll take that as… what am I taking it as? Advice…?" Dad chuckled. "Yeah, it's never too late to learn. I'm learning all the time."
Dad continues, "I'm kind of hungry, and we waited for you so we didn't go out to eat or anything. You hungry?"
"Now that you mention it, I might be a little hungry. But if we go out to eat, let's not eat there again. Please. Bad memories and whatnot."
"Fair enough –where do you want to go to eat this time?"
"Why don't we try the main street of town?"
"You really sure you want to be seen with your parents?" Mom joked.
"Yep! I need you to save my life again in case I faint because the food is bad."
They all laughed and prepared to go out.