Following me to bed
I think about a hundred years ago
How my Fathers bled
I think I see a valley
Covered with bones in blue
All the brave soldiers that cannot get older
Been asking after you
Hear the past a’ calling
From Armageddon’s side
When everyone’s talking and no one
How can we decide?
Do we find the cost of freedom
Buried in the ground?
Mother Earth will swallow you
Lay your body down.
Imagine that you’re trapped in someone else’s ambition. Pursuing a dream you never dreamed, taking the path well traveled because that’s where the road goes, leading to a destination that’ll chew you up, spit you out and pat you on the back as it sends you on your way. And you want to be on your way, but you turn around anyway and head back inside that city, that town, that house, because it’s closer now and the journey back feels like a million miles, far longer than it ever was when you walked here, and it’s a desert out there you know. And your protestations are drowned out by the cacophony of your peers, voices calling native and tongue, the tap tap click click rhythm of a cross-section generation raised on the same sugary desensitisation as you were. When every word bleeds through the copy book and every verse is a suicide note to the you that once was or once should have been, each day they fade fast in your memory, a polaroid of the ghost of a future never lived.
Back home, across the desert, across best laid plans, a box of correspondence lies buried in the earth beneath the tree you sat in to escape. Letters, they carried such weight back then. The careful calligraphy etched in concentration and fascination and pencil. Letters to nobody in particular, to young love, young friends, young self, each carrying the weight of a thousand worlds beneath a thousand stars. Ten, maybe twelve treasures folded and interred, and each word remains with you, you know them by heart like a creed. Then your mind drifts to the words you wrote yesterday, the day before, the day before that, and there’s nothing, or maybe there used to be but you don’t remember them any more and they can’t have been that important anyway. Script and dialogue constructed by voices soliloquising in the presence of one another, speaking of their perception of right in the hope that other voices are silent long enough for their right to be heard.
One day you hear a voice speaking and you will it to quieten, it’s drowning out your own, then you realise it is your own, only talking in a language you yourself have never learned nor spoken. So you draw upon those memories from that box beneath the ground, you recite the words that once meant so much, the sum of all your childhood fears, your adolescent angst, of love shared and mourned, heartbreak and hormone. You recite, you share, this is your mantra, this is who you are and if people stopped talking for one moment, if they really listened, they’d understand that you’re not a drone, you didn’t mean to end up here. This defines you, this is you, this past is unique.
Your words echo; countless voices joined in a chorus of the same stories, the same pasts, each of you is a mirror held up to the others. As one, you remember the dream left so far behind, because the well-worn path was easier to walk, offered more guidance, more companions. As one, you turn to the horizon where that dream used to be, a glittering emerald city filled with everything you ever promised yourself as a child. And as one you feel a strange sensation. The city is no longer there, you’ve come too far or perhaps it just turned to dust or perhaps this is the city, maybe you’re already here and if so there’s nowhere left to travel, no more courses to plot, no goals to aim for any more. That sensation, that apathetic, pulsing rush, is relief. Everyone’s very tired after all, and you have so much in common, it’s like you’ve reached an understanding now, at least until tomorrow when it all begins again. But tonight, you realise, there’s only one thing left you can do.
Go back to sleep.
This is all Dan Lipscombe’s fault. Starred games are ones I’ve started but not finished. By ‘unfinished’ I mean I’ve never seen the ending/completed a career/finished with playing, there are plenty of games I haven’t included which I’ve not 100%ed and would go back to, but have ‘finished’.
It’s pretty fucking crazy.
Katarina Darling: It isn’t the birds. It was never the birds. We need to get out of here. And Lang, Lang was… Lang was there. I saw him.
Louis Cassell: I’m not leaving, dear girl. I can’t leave. Not now. Are you quite mad?
Katarina Darling: You don’t understand. You haven’t seen what they’re doing. You don’t know what this place really is.
Louis Cassell: No, my dear, it’s you who does not understand. We, as a species, are in freefall towards the mass grave of our civilisation. No matter how often we swoop and soar around the sun, we’re still down there pecking at the earth as night falls, feasting on the worms. And our old masters, those nameless terrors who wait beneath the surface, are poised with gaping maws, just waiting for us to dig down too deep.
Katarina Darling: Mr. Cassell, your pulp horror melodrama is really starting to fuck me off.
Okay, here be spoilers. Big, game-ruining ending spoilers. Seriously, don’t read on after the jump if you haven’t finished it. I’ve warned you. SPOILERS. SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS.
Also, I won’t even pretend that this post is properly coherent or literate. It’s just a collection of thoughts I shared with Chris Schilling, copy/pasted into a blog entry. If I had more investment in Alan Wake’s mythos I might collate them into something a little more solid, but at the moment I don’t, I’m just a little bemused at it.
In the fading light, the man sat there slapping the keyboard with an open palm, each blow channeling the fury he felt towards Simon Parkin, that hack critic who dared to score a Rockstar game an 8. Moreover, the man thought, how absolutely disgusting and unprofessional of Eurogamer not to review the multiplayer content. Even if it wasn’t provided, they should have found a way.
Each strike to the keyboard brought out a new violent tick; a twitching eyebrow here, a slack jaw there. The Energizer batteries on the commenter’s desk cast a dark shadow over the screen. He pounded harder. The letter Y refused to appear. The writer paused, furious. Even my own tools are turning against me. He picked up the phone.
“Barry? It’s Alan. Some cunt just gave Red Dead Redemption eight out of ten.”
Barry’s tone reflected Alan’s thoughts. “Eight? As in, one less than a nine? TWO less than a ten?”
“The very same,” Alan replied, his voice calmer now. His heartbeat began to return to its normal pace. “Disgusting, isn’t it?”
“You’re telling me,” the agent said. “Reads more like a fourteen. Still, better than Ala-”
“What was that? What were you going to say?”
“Nothing,” Barry answered quickly. “Nothing at all, Al.”
“Oh, right,” Alan said. “Listen, anyway, Barry I gotta go. Darkness Made Flesh is coming over, and I think he’s armed with a lawsuit from the King estate.”
The writer hung up the phone. “Oh well, might as well check out Edge in the meantime.”
As the jogger hurried past the white picket fence of the Wake residence, a shrill cry of anguish rang out from inside. Birds flew forth, cawing and squawking in terror. The voice inside screamed again.
“A SIX? A FUCKING SIX??????”
With a shiver the jogger pulled her coat tighter around her small frame and ran off, into the slowly descending mist.