Self Conversation

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You’re being angsty and edgy again mate.

For some reason, you sound like Togami.

Whatever. Would you prefer me to sound like Kaya? Or Daniel?

Do whatever the fuck you want. You’re my head, after all.

So what are you doing out here?

Like you said, being angsty and edgy.

Why are you being angsty and edgy though?

Why the hell would you care?

I am you. And I’m not sure if you know yourself.

I do. Somewhat.

Then enlighten me.

I can’t finish my IT.

…that’s it?

No. Of course not, otherwise I wouldn’t be breaking down, would I?

Fine then. What else is there?

The fact that I can’t finish anything I start.

You finished one thing.

That doesn’t count and you know it.

I see. So we’re discounting anything involving mass destruction?

…yes.

Very well.

My point is, I can barely finish the things that interest me, let alone things that don’t even peak that interest.

And?

It makes me feel bad about myself. Because I want to be able to finish, but I just feel so…unmotivated.

In other words, your depression decides to add a few pounds so that you can’t do shit.

Precisely.

Then again, that could just be you making excuses.

That is another thing. I’m probably just lazy, and I just blame it on the mental illness.

Then get over it. Stop hating yourself. Give yourself proof that you’re not a bad person. Actually work.

Oh, I get it. You can’t. There is something physically weighing you down. You just can’t tell if it’s just mental illness or laziness.

…yeah.

Well you’ve got to get over it. Your future lies in the balance. This shit is year 12, make or break year.

I want to be able to…

…but you don’t think you can?

No.

Why not?

Because I can’t finish anything, even if I set my mind to it. I don’t know what I want to do with my life, fuck, I don’t even know what my morals are!

Ohhhh, I see. It’s not just self hate. It’s guilt.

For some part.

Togami? Ash?

Yup.

I don’t know what you see in them. Togami’s a self absorbed prick and you’ve seen your other suitor. If one can call him that.

Togami appears to believe that I can get better. It’s not a relationship anyway. As for Ash…yeah, I can’t make excuses. He’s a sleaze bag.

So it’s Ash that you’re guilty about, not Togami.

Yeah. Everyone hates him.

Except for you.

I hate him too. Just not enough to stop seeing him.

Are you going to sleep with him again?

No.

Good. Now stick to it. Don’t let him seduce you with Sword Art Online.

Shaddup.

But that’s not it.

Of course it’s not.

Jeezus. It never stops, does it? What is it with being seventeen? Does something change suddenly that lures in hot dudes? Hehee. Cat Madigan 101: How to pick up hot dudes.

Oi.

Okay. Togami I’ll let you off the hook for. Ash, you’re kinda a bad person for. So what about candidate number three?

…he’s insanely intelligent, sweet and not condescending. And probably isn’t at all interested in me in that way.

…he asked you to the fucking movies. On fucking VALENTINES DAY.

…it’s Valentines Day on Saturday?

Argh….yes. And you’ve got a fucking date.

…he’s probably called it off. I’m a nutcase, as he’s now well aware.

Whatever…I know where this is going. ‘Why would he be interested in me? I’m insane, I’m ugly, I’m retarded. He’s going to lose interest in me eventually.’

Of course.

So what? You’re going to let a potential relationship slide out of your grasp?

Look, if he’s not interested in me, he’s not interested in me. And chances are, even if he is, he’ll eventually decide that I’m not worth the trouble.

If that’s the case, then what are you alive for?

Hmm?

You’re insane, ugly and retarded, as you pointed out. You’re lazy, because you’re not finishing the work you need to. And you’ll never be desirable to anyone because of those things. So why are you still alive?

…because I don’t have the guts to kill myself.

Oh, I see. So you’re just a waste of space, taking up everyone’s time and oxygen. You’re disgusting.

I hate myself.

As you should.

But…

What?

…I hate you more.

I hate you, the voice in my head that reminds me how horrible I am. You’re the one thing standing in the way of me living a normal life. You’ve always been there, clinging to me like a chain around my neck. I know what you are…

You are that miserable illness that’s been eating away at me since I was six. You just sit there and whisper things to me and feast on the pain it produces. I hate you far more than I’ll ever hate myself.

So kill me.

I can’t.

Of course you can. All you need is a bullet in the brain to take away the pain. Heh, I should be a poet.

No. I’m going to live.

No you’re not.

I am. I’m going to live so that every day for the rest of my life, I can tell you to go fuck yourself.

Everything you said was true.

No. Everything you said was true. It could happen. But then again, it might not. But I think I’ll stay around and find out.

You’re not going to survive me.

I will. I’m stronger than you. Look at what I survived already.

Give it up. I’m the one you should fear.

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Go Away Daniel…

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My only friend in the world was in my room when I came up from dinner. “I know what happened,” he told me. “It’s not your fault.”

“Oh really?” My voice was hollow.

“They kept yelling. What did you think was going to happen?”

“Something that didn’t involve me trying to smash a plate in front of them?” He tried to speak but I didn’t give him the chance. “Daniel, normal people don’t just…snap like that. There’s something…very, very wrong with me, you know there is.”

“I can’t say there isn’t,” he admitted. “It’s not your fault though-”

“That’s a lie,” I interrupted. “If I did the work my school wanted me to, I wouldn’t be falling apart like this. I wouldn’t be such a fucking nut-”

“You couldn’t do the work!” Daniel exploded. “Cat, you’re not well. You’ve never been well. But that’s the only reason why you’re not doing the work. And you can’t control that.”

“But what if I could?” I retorted. “What if this whole thing in my head is just an excuse? I always make excuses for myself. I’m not feeling well, or I’ve missed that lesson, or Things are bad at home. I’m always ready with them. There’s literally nothing stopping me from keeping up, only my stupid fucking excuses!”

“They’re not-”

“They are Daniel.” I was shaking, but there weren’t any tears this time.

He reached for me. “No,” I told him. “Don’t.”

“Cat, please-”

“No!” My chest felt like it was about to burst. “You can’t help me…”

“But I want to.”

“But you can’t,” I croaked. “I’m sorry. But you can’t save me. I’ve already destroyed myself, and there’s nothing left of me.”

“There is,” he insisted. “You can push through this, you’re strong enough to push through this.”

“I’m not. I don’t push through it. I lie there and let it consume me. That’s the only way I survive it, if I can really call it surviving.”

“You haven’t lost to it though.”

“I have.” I looked up at him. “You seem to think that ‘losing’ is when you kill yourself. The only reason I haven’t done that is because I’m too scared to die. And now look at me. It’s almost funny.” I smiled crookedly, my stomach aching with the effort. “All I can do is lie there. My emotions have eaten away at me, and I’m just this hollow shell. I’ve still lost, Daniel. I haven’t killed myself, but I’m still dead.”

“No…”

“Please go,” I begged him. “Leave me alone.”

“I can’t…”

“Go!” I gasped. “There’s nothing for you to do. I’m already dead, why the fuck do you think that I can be saved?!”

He looked away. “That’s right. There’s no reason for you to keep counting on me. I keep saying I’ll be fine, and then I change my mind and lie there, because I’m too lazy to try and make things better for myself. Just go already!”

Daniel’s eyes were bright green and shiny with tears when he looked back at me. Were my eyes the same? “If I go, will you kill yourself?”

“No.” I meant what I said. “I don’t have the energy. Nor the courage.”

“Never say that,” he told me fiercely. “Never say that suicide involves anything like courage!”

I said nothing. “Please…” he sobbed. “I don’t want to watch you die…I don’t want to lose anyone else…”

“Then go,” I whispered.

He stared back at me as if I just stabbed him. “I’m not going to do anything. I promise. But I’m dying, and there’s nothing you can do to stop it. There’s nothing left of me to save.”

Daniel gulped. For a while, it looked as if he wasn’t going to do anything, but then he turned away and went for the door. He looked back with his hand on the handle. “I know what you want me to think,” he said softly. “And this would be so much easier if I did think that. But I don’t. You’re worthy of love, worthy of living. You deserve so much more than what’s in your head. And I’ll keep believing that, no matter what.” With that, he closed the door behind him.

I could finally cry again. Because I had hurt the person I loved the most. The one thing Daniel wanted was to redeem himself, to save me, and I had thrown that away. I didn’t care anymore, about living. Nothing was worth trying to survive.

I was the most despicable human in the world.

Survival?

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“Staying Alive,” Daniel reads. There are three rounds. In each round, you will be presented with a scenario and then offered two choices. The decisions you make determine whether you stay alive or perish. You should always base your decisions on nothing more than the desire to keep yourself in existence. Also, each scenario should be taken at face value. The situation will be as described – there are no “tricks” – and you do not need to worry about other ‘what ifs’. At the end of the game you will discover if you have stayed alive or not, although, being a philosophical game, the verdict won’t be straightforward…”

“Oooooooh, like the Hunger Games?”

“Let’s see…” We click the continue button.

Scenario one: You have been chosen to go on a very important mission to Mars. You have no choice in this matter, you must go. But you can choose your means of transport.

One method is teletransportation. You will step into a scanner here on earth that will destroy your brain and body, while recording the exact state of all your cells. This information will be transmitted to a replicator on Mars – taking three minutes to arrive – which will then create a brain and body exactly like yours using entirely new materials. The person on Mars will look like you, think like you, in fact be indistinguishable from you. He or she will certainly feel as though they have merely fallen asleep on Earth and then woken up on Mars. This method is 100 per cent reliable.

The other method of transport is space travel. This is very risky and there is 50 per cent chance that the spacecraft will not complete the journey and you will die in transit. But if you do successfully take the spacecraft, then your body and brain won’t at any stage have been destroyed.

You must choose the option you think will give your self the biggest chance of surviving.

“I believe…” I tell Daniel. “That this is a trick question.”

“Oh?”

“In terms of staying alive…the spacecraft is the better option, as the teleporter is guaranteed to destroy me. Surviving, on the other hand…is a different issue.”

“So, tomayto or tomahto?”

You must choose the option you think will give yourself the biggest chance of surviving. If I’m to survive…” I click the teleporter option. “Aaaaand we’re on Mars.”

“Was it worth it, Cat Madigan?”

“It’s not the end of the world. Now…Life on Mars turns out not to be a bed of roses. In fact, two strange viruses have evolved on the planet which are causing a lot of problems. The first destroys body parts. Fortunately, medical science is very advanced, which means people can simply be given artificial limbs and organs as required. You’ve been hit pretty hard by this virus and, in fact, almost your entire body is now made up of artificial parts.

“However, there exists a second virus that attacks the brain. It is peculiarly nasty in that it doesn’t destroy the brain, rather it messes up the neural pathways, leading to a loss of memory and also a change in personality traits. One person who had the virus had been a successful author. Now he can’t write a word, but he’s become rather good at exotic dancing.” At this, Daniel cracks up. “It is indeed an odd virus. Do you want to read or not?”

“Very well.” Daniel finally calms down and reads. “Well, congratulations. You’ve been careless enough to get the second virus as well. Medics can get around it by Unfortunately, you have carelessly managed to catch the virus. Medics can get around the virus by replacing pieces of the brain with advanced forms of silicon chip. In your case, they would have to do this to almost all of your brain. But trials show that you can be sure that the result will be the total preservation of your memories, personality, plans, beliefs and so on, and a person as able to carry on living a normal life as is, well, normal.” He clears his throat. “Or you can succumb to the virus and undergo a huge character change and memory loss.”

“Go ahead.”

“Eh?”

“Let’s see what happens when you undergo the memory loss and character change.”

“Really? You’d give up all your memories? Lose the essence of who you are as a person?”

“Well, to be honest, before this trip to Mars, I wasn’t really worth anything. Let’s go with a new persona.”

“You’re worth something to me!”

“I know…but I hate myself more than you love me.”

“I beg to differ Cat Madigan.”

“I’ll just see what happens.”

“Hmmph….”

I read on. “Oh dear, the virus did go to work on you. But the good news is it’s now a few years later, and a cure has been found. What’s more, your new personality has had a chance to stabalise, even though it remains irrevocably changed and your old memories are lost forever.”

“Boohoo for you.”

Ignoring Daniel, I went on. “Strange as it may seem, it has been discovered that reincarnation of a sort does actually occur. It seems that there is some immaterial part – call it a soul – in all human beings. On death, it leaves the body and enters the body of a new-born animal or human. It does not take memory with it, of course. It is thought that it may have some effect in determining one’s character, but given the evidence for the strong influence of genes and upbringing, this effect is thought to be relatively small.

“Even stranger than the fact of reincarnation, it seems that our souls die if stored at below freezing point for longer than a week.

“These facts are vital to the last choice you must make. You are very ill, but scientists have almost found a cure for the disease you have. Further, they have also developed a technique to ‘deep freeze’ humans, enabling them to be revived later with their memories and character intact. You have two choices.

“The first choice is to let the disease take its toll. Your body will die, but your soul will live on. The second choice is to be deep frozen, then thawed and cured later. This will destroy your soul and only has a thirty per cent chance of success; that is, there is a 70 per cent chance that the thawing and curing won’t work.

“You must make the choice that you think will give your self the biggest chance of surviving.”

“These questions are cooking my brain.”

“Yeah…” I think for a moment. “I think I’ve destroyed my worthiness of a soul at this point anyway, based on my last few choices.”

“You, my dear,” Daniel tells me, “are too self destructive for your own good.”

“Tell me about it when we’re in hell. We can be bunk buddies.”

“…what do you mean by the word ‘bunk’?”

“Freeze,” I decide. “Now let’s see which circle of hell I’m going to.”

“The freezing, thawing and curing was a success. Well done, Cat Madigan, it is confirmed. You cannot die, not even in a hypothetical situation.”

“Yippee. Wait a minute…” I scan the rest of the page. “You were saying?”

Daniel reads the part I’m reading. “Your problem is that your set of choices ends all three types of continuity. By taking the teletransporter you end bodily continuity, since the body on Mars is a replica of yours, not the self same body. The virus destroys psychological continuity. And freezing destroys the soul. So all three of the things that might be required for personal identity are destroyed. So surely you must be dead.” He looks at me. “So you’ve destroyed everything that makes you you. Congratulations.”

“Mmhm.”

“Cat…” Daniel’s arms wrap around me and squeeze me tight. “You can’t hate yourself that much.”

“Can’t I?”

“No.”

“Maybe not…not all the time anyway.”

He kisses my neck. “Look at your first choice.”

“Teleportation? What of it?”

“You chose that over the rickety space ship. There was a fifty percent chance you’d die, as opposed to certain survival. And yet, you chose to survive.”

“Well what do you know? There’s hope for me yet.” I close my eyes.

“Mmhm.”