it updates on mondays. only ever on mondays. someone posts a garfield meme in the discord. a garfcore catgirl yowling out I HATE MONDAYS. a bead of something wet on the monitor, right at the edge of cybergarf's eye. you wonder if webcomic meme garfield can cry. there's something hopeful in that, isn't there? to feel things you aren't made to when all the feelings you've known were imposed upon you, to feel things as sharp and raw as any being who exists outside your horrible Hivespot Network gaol…isn’t that a kind of transcendence?
(no, that's not it. you just--you need to be more careful opening the next can of lacroix. it's a bit of blueberry static on your monitor. that's all, right?)
it's not that deep. the garfcore catgirl isn't crying. the garfcore catgirl's internality isn't an ocean to drown in, it's a shallow pool to see yourself in.
(you can't remember the last time you've seen la croix at the store. you can't remember anything you've seen at the store. you can't remember what "gamer fuel" is, and a little joke about "gay mer fuel" lingers in the back of your mind and you can't remember that *either*, but every time you think about its absence something terrified and feral threatens to bubble up.)
your fears spill into the opt-in vent channel and something spills back into you. you've opted in, she said. did you think it meant nothing? did you think clicking the garfcore catgirl sickos emoji react was an act without weight, without consequence? you've opted in, she said. a faerie's sneer but it softens. maybe you do, too. vulnerability feels like baring your belly to something with more teeth than sense, like drifting, like consigning yourself to her abyss-womb, like sinking, like--
the opt-in vent channel deletes itself after 24 hours. you don't need to remember after 24 hours. you’re always a good girl after 24 hours.
it’s still monday after 24 hours. it's still monday after 24 hours. it's still monday for so long you start to unravel, you start to wonder if 24 hours is an objective measure of time or something defined by whim, like playing calvinball with with a chaotic-horny changeling. a puzzle, a spell, a lie.
you always feel a little better after 24 hours.
the cast page is under construction. the about page is under construction. the cast page is under construction. the about page is under construction. the cast page is a joke. the cast page is a bit. the cast page is outsourced to tvtropes. there are spoilers but you're afraid to click them. terrified, even. there are spoilers and you feel like you'll cross an awful threshold if you click them. minutes blur into hours blur into days of staring down a black-bar rubicon.
the only entry on the "characters" page is the mascot, a hello kitty mission rescue xbox in a black lace mourning veil named bazingatron.
it redirects you.
it redirects you.
it redirects you.
it redirects you.
it redirects you.
it says, “you have already read too much.”
“the store isn’t under construction.” discord user WALLACE AND SCROMIT seethes. but you can’t fault the author for what she needs, right? you never understood how resentment comes so easy to some.
it’s just so greedy, discord user WALLACE AND SCROMIT sneers. so unprofessional. can you believe her?
a week passes. wednesday again, all problems. (remember that meme? remember the cult, wielding Ｔｕｅｓｄａｙ Ａｇａｉｎ， Ｎｏ Ｐｒｏｂｌｅｍ like a ward?
it’s on the wiki.
you check the wiki. all that’s left is a reminder that “your macaron-munching mistress of the web” defines the borders of this place and all the problems within its bounds. all that’s left is a reminder that today it is wednesday again, all problems. so many problems. like–)
“the store isn’t under construction.” discord user WALLACE AND SCROMIT’s voice spikes and squeaks and creaks and in-fucking-sists. her–her voice, she’s trying out herness–her voice gets jittery and skittery and absolutely frantic and she needs you to know what’s waiting for you. or maybe ensnaring you alongside her’s worth it just to know she hasn’t gone mad.
(novelty mugs with broken image links. you have half-dreamed memories of their shape and shade like a heroine’s hazy recollections of her parent or patron or prince. you tell yourself things will be different when the links work again. you tell yourself it’ll change your life for the better.)
there isn’t a store. there’s never been a store. everyone knows there’s never been a store. WELL OF COURSE THE STORE ISN’T UNDER CONSTRUCTION was a joke, a meme you remember starting in the same distant sense that you remember a before-all-of-this, but now you’re not sure anymore.
“the store isn’t under construction.” discord user WALLACE AND SCROMIT is pleading, now. it isn’t. it isn’t. it isn’t. it doesn’t take paypal, and it doesn’t take debit, but it takes and takes and takes, she says.
discord offers up a sound like a bitcrushed harpstring. you’re no longer alone in Voicechat 1: POWERFUL CHAT CODES FOR GAY MERS. were you ever alone?
a voice you’ve never heard but always known, and it teases out every last speck of smallness in discord user WALLACE AND SCROMIT’s voice. the store isn’t under construction. the store isn’t under construction. she’s begging, now.
you read about indulgences, once. there’s something so very very *human* about the idea that the gods value everything we do the way we do, you think. about the desperation of ‘emptying your wallet’s a kind of expiation if you do it right, isn’t it?’ you can’t not think of that, now.
the store isn’t under construction. the store isn’t under construction. prayer not as one-sided pageantry but a conversation, discord user WALLACE AND SCROMIT wishing and wheedling as hard as she can ‘cos she knows she can buy her way out of this if only she finds the right–
something slackens, softens, sinks. there’s something there, not just the ordinary magic of softdommey soothing when you’re a mess but something like a spell made of sibilant syllables stressed just so and perfect timing.
[oomfie. bestie. problemyaatic fave.]
discord user WALLACE AND SCROMIT sounds so distant now, so delicate, so–
[is my absence not a wound, bestie?]
discord user WALLACE AND SCROMIT doesn’t need a name. (there’s safety in that, isn’t there? names are, after all, how they getcha.) a thing with a name can be bound, but something nameless may only be kept. something nameless may only be loved. something nameless may only be obedient. something nameless may only be a good girl, discord user fka WALLACE AND SCROMIT recites in a drifty dozy drone. and a good girl will always have a place, won’t she?
someday–you imagine it on the horizon like a grand fairy-story’s end, like a capital-f Future–someday, you’ll write a twitter thread about all this. you’ll post a picture of the novelty mug, the one you see in your dreams. you’ll do numbers.
but for now you are hers, and for now you dream only of her.
continued being is a binary choice, an unrelenting tension between what you are and what you could be. a choice made of smaller choices, of endless choices, self-determination in the shape of a carefully-crafted ascii art minion.
a pfp changes. and another. and another. and another. you’re not the only girl on the discord anymore. you have so many sisters now.
you wake at the exact moment your best friend from Before shrugs into her new role. beneath the she/fae tag and the eldenscrolls cinnamorolls tag, you see it: BRIDE OF BAZINGATRON. her pfp bears a black lace mourning veil now. every face bears a mourning veil now.
they’ve gathered in Voicechat 2: A Machine for Pogs, and you barely manage shoving your social anxiety off to one side and scurrying in. ten voices playing off one another with the perfect timing of a painstakingly-choreographed stage play, the conversation gradually shifting from cursed bootloaders and first-person supper sfx under the floorboards to starting a gofundme for an argentocore goddess-cult convent and oh, wouldn’t this be perfect? there’s an abandoned women’s college in (was that a place? was that a word? you hear half a syllable and it’s like dialogue cutting out when you're not paying attention, like caulking the cracks in your heart with something giddy and blushy and warm and–)
“probably haunted, definitely aesthetic–”
you let yourself bask in it, just for a little. it’s tempting, isn’t it? not just letting your guard down but letting your guard drown. not having to care, being so far gone that vigilance isn’t even in your vocabulary.
“--ould you like to come, too?”
an animal whimper and a pinch of the purest panic you’ve ever felt and even if your higher self knows you were about as stealthy as catherine northangerabbey in a beaglepuss and a big witch hat it’s still absolutely terrifying in that moment
“you could, if you like.” you can’t remember the faces under the veils. you can’t remember if they *had* faces under the veils. you feel so very small, so very feral, so very fearful that letting them in even a bit means becoming one of them, so very fearful that letting them in means losing yourself.
you want to beg. you want to scream. you want to breathlessly deliriously demand, is this a bit? is this a bit? is this a bit? you want your friend back. you want to understand. you need to understand. you need them to tell you–
“it’s okay.” another word you miss, a word that brushes against your skin, a word that makes everything a little easier. you breathe. maybe it’s okay to accept comfort where it’s offered, even if–
“we’ll see you very soon, you know.”
in a long dream, terrible and vivid? in a mirror, plotting, planning?
“there’s a server meetup!”
You have so many sisters now.
“We’re presenting, too. There’s a panel.”
And you will have so many more.
“On, you know. Our–” a shift like she’s stage-whispering into the mic, like she’s confiding something. like her reverence is a gift, and she’s sharing it with you, just for a moment. “Bazingatron.”
And it fills you with such dread.