Citizens of the Brain

This meeting actually took place over the course of several days. My inworld can sometimes be… laggy? Almost like a World of Warcraft server.

Isn’t that essentially what it is? When I’d talked to my usual in-friends, sometimes I would try to slyly pass off the information I’ve been gathering of DID from forums and friends for the past three months. “Haha, yeah, your wee one sure is something, by the way, have you randomly found yourself at a second-rate New York flat recently? Maybe there’s a pale yellow and cyan bird giving you attitude?”

It’s not the sort of thing that’s easy to bring up. Afterall, my inworld is Immense. This subconscious just casually wrote something as expansive as Lord of the Rings while casting me as a character for a good chunk of the plotlines and, you know, that can be a struggle to accept.

Some outright treated it as a joke, like Sumire. Some seemed too immersed in their lives to for me to bother them with it. “Hey, sorry you’re having a fight with your spouse, have you ever wondered if you would still exist if my body died?”

But there were a few that listened. Xhaxhollari, Vex, Irran, Aevaryn, Kaspar, Aluciel, Aberle, Audric, and Sound. (I apologise for how pretentious and damn-near unpronounceable The Brain makes these names.) I invited them all to ‘my place’ in the inworld to talk.

I’d never before had my own domicile or even space in my inworld before I knew of DID, and it honestly looked as if it were still being moved into. My inworld was primarily made up of several different estate homes in different countries. Kaspar lived with all of its polycule in a Prague mansion it’d inherited from its grandmother. Sound and JaK lived with their children outside of Paris, Aberle had an apartment nearby, Audric lived in a penthouse near to that.

Generally, we’d have ‘bounts’ (like vampires but more genetically unstable and grown in an alchemic test-tube) teleport us between locations. Near the summer and winter holidays, huge celebrations and gatherings are held at one estate or another, with alters and NPCs alike drifting in and out of the property. We’d see long-distance friends, we’d start beefs and rarely settle them, get drunk, have sparring competitions with magic and turning into animals, that sort of thing. You know, typical partying.

Either you owned a mansion or you were one of the quasi-nomadic, semi-adopted broke blighters staying in between many guest rooms. Or some of the Atlanteans just turned into their animals and lived like that. Vex has never owned property and has never had the urge to. And when she can turn into a huge hound on command, I couldn’t blame her.

That being said, I’d never had more than a spare room. DisassociaDID, the Youtuber, talked about how they just “thought really hard” and made a house for everyone in her system’s inworld, so I did that, and added my own aesthetic.

I live in the upper portion of Big Ben.

HD wallpaper: three people standing inside Big Ben building, three people  inside gigantic clock | Wallpaper Flare
Trying to find a good place to put the open bar…

It’s still a bit bare, though. Still, it was a perfect area to meet with everyone. There’s been a few other changes since the last time I spent a considerable time inside.

Xhaxhollari Icarus. (Zaks-ho-lah-ree) He was first introduced to me as an alternate timeline version of myself who had suffered through the brunt of Kirra’s tortures, and ended up moreso inhuman as a result. When I first saw him, he was a blinding white, as if someone had drained the saturation of a photo of me. He was and is quadruple-winged and he wears loose-fitting, kind of elegant clothes. In the spring, when Story was splitting from me, Xhaxhollari partially integrated with me. So, now his hair is white-blonde instead of just white, his wings are a champagne gold colour, his eyes changed from black to gold, and he wears accents of gold all around him.

We’ve been learning to co-front lately. He’s been teaching me to write in his loopier, prettier font and I’ve been letting him play around on my Pokemon Shield game.

He Loves shiny Reshiram, and he’s not above decorating the character to look like him.

I’d originally thought Xhaxhollari was a Biblical sort of angel, maybe Suriel. But he told me that, yes, though he was angelic in form, he feels more like “Icarus Ascended After He Fell.” Hence the name. And since my abuser was named after a sun god, well…

Probably should’ve seen that one coming.

He’s still elongated and tall, a bit taller than I, but looks like a sibling of my inworld self. He couldn’t sit through the meeting, so that I could hold my position there without getting my signal interrupted, so to speak. When I’d first met him, he was preachy, grand-standing, definitely a control freak, and willing to let this entire world burn as long as we were protecting Arkady and Rowan. Since Arkady’s betrayal, he’s a lot more… introspective, and fascinated with my life. And above all, willing to learn how to help us all function.

He wasn’t the only one that’s changed. When Story split from me, my inworld form went entirely blonde. I changed my outerworld hair to match, bleaching away the blue. My follicles still have PTSD, so at least it matches the rest of me. It was as if my broken heart bled all the blue from me– even my wardrobe only has it as an occasion. It’s as if I’m the white crow I’ve always been, but I’ve gained a shadow.

Irran and Aevaryn are– well, my sons. Rowan and Arkady had been having children together in Faerie, many of whom had already aged to adulthood in the faster-paced realm. About a year ago, Rowan had announced that their newest pair of twins they bore had both Arkady’s and my DNA. And again, this system is incredibly open to suggestion. Whether these were characters made up by Rowan to secure my affections– and my mind subsequently copied them in– or if they’re able to travel from the Faerie realm (assuming it exists) and converse with me in my inworld– I’ve no idea. I’ve no interest in finding out.

MARK BLACKTHORN. (@thornedfey) | Twitter
They both look a lot like this fan rendering of Cassandra Clare’s Mark Blackthorn, who is half fae. Not sure who this model is.

I’m honestly just relieved to see them. I’d never wanted children initially, but these two brothers were a combination of Arkady, Rowan, and myself. And I’m glad they’ve survived, one way or another.

When they were first born, they, like Xhaxhollari, were almost completely white and even had feathery wings– a pair of two for the each of them. But they slowly started gaining more colour. The tips of their wings are an ink black and they’ve each one eye that’s a golden brown, and one eye that’s a labradorite blue/green.

And there’s Aberle, a black-haired, green eyed lithe wiry German boy about my age that’s been my best friend since sought me out as Phisoxa’s famed project. Vex, the somewhat butch-looking blonde with a sharp face and a small build, who’s basically my mother (though she looks about 20, younger than I.) Audric, Aberle’s father, also a war vet and an unlicensed trauma therapist. I’d already described Sound, but she’s a 20-year old genderfluid model and designer that lives in Paris, but was originally half Japanese-Canadian. She’s the only one of her family who realises she’s an alter. Kaspar, my glorious Czech partner, in their white-blonde waist-length curling hair and their Roccoco outfits. Today, a startling fuchsia. And Aluciel, my inworld cousin, and also the queen of our particular race, as of about two years ago. Sorry for rushing these descriptions– I’d be here all night, otherwise.

They’d all had private conversations with me in the past about my discovery with this being a system. None of them seemed to have known before I told them. At all.

Aberle was the most open to it. He thinks it my DID may be a translation of this brain being a portal to another world, an idea that I’m not opposed to. I don’t know what Audric thinks, only that Aberle deemed him receptive when he told him about my painfully acquired revelations. Kaspar was at first insulted, seeming to think that being my alter would mean that it were somehow dependent on me, and somehow lesser. That’s when I told it, ‘Just because I spend a lot of time outside doesn’t mean I’m not an alter, same as you. You’re just as real as me, Love, I promise.’ It seemed to understand that. Irran and Aevaryn were both indifferent. It didn’t change their life. It’d reminded me of when Sherlock was told that the Earth revolves around the sun. I could probably tell them that they were in the Matrix and they’d say, “Yes, but what does that have to do with us?”

Sound was mostly worried because JaK, Prosper, Dragonfly, and Romeo– some of those closest to her were originally thought up by Kirra. Vex is mainly put out because it means she can’t protect me in the outer world as well as she once thought she could. And Aluciel had flatly asked me, “You mean to tell me that every time you trust the wrong person, it throws our world into chaos?”

“Well. Um. Yes.”

A pause.

“Well, could you stop doing that?”

Ya know, Aluciel, I’m working on it.

My first order of business was explaining everything. What I’d gone through with the household, that inworlds, yes, can be this bloody complicated, the catastrophes and dramatic arcs seemed to happen right around when I get betrayed up there, that none of us were the original, that some can seem to control the body whereas others can’t. “This doesn’t change anything about this world,” I emphasized. “Not really. I can’t change what goes on here, or control it. I may speculate on Why the brain is doing what ever it does, but that doesn’t change much here. We’re all just… citizens of the brain.”

Then I fielded questions.

Sound: “Does this mean we’re all just kind of weird OCs?” You and I both. Come on, you’re half-Japanese and you came around near 2008, you have silver irises, this shouldn’t be That much of a shock. She’d giggled. “At least I don’t have my Scene hair anymore.”

Kaspar actually gave itself the sign of a cross at that.

Kaspar: “I think I sometimes still have difficulty wrapping my head around all this… I’ve just departed a house of four partners, three other housemates, who all have other partners, jobs, coworkers, parents, cousins… All of this is inside one mind?” A lot of them are NPCs, but essentially, yeah.

Sound took a bit of offense to that: “My friends and family aren’t NPCs!”

I also had to take a moment to explain to Aluciel, Vex, and my twins what the hell an NPC was. I then clarified to Sound, “No, it doesn’t mean they’re mindless background entities. It means they just can’t take over the body. They’re still complex entities within themselves.”

Aberle: “How do we tell the difference?” I’ll uh. I’ll keep you posted. But I’m pretty sure the ones with outerworld online accounts are the first ones I’d zero in on.

Aberle had the grace to at least look sheepish. “So, if I understand it, there is a brain; it may not even be your brain, just a brain, that’s basically created this entire universe. It has a plan, or maybe it just likes fucking with us, but it’s essentially a god.”

I let that one sink in. More like fate, I think. Or even–

“Sounds more like a fantasy writer.” Audric said, echoing my thoughts. “Which begs the question. Was Neb the ‘host’? Did she write us in and just fuck off?” I have no idea. Given the state of the world, I couldn’t blame her if she did.

Sound: “I remember she wrote a book about me. Sun and Moon. But I had to sit there and tell her about my life for her to write it. She didn’t know it ahead of time.”

I explained that I didn’t even know if there was an original. That I didn’t think there was. I knew of no one who went by the body’s first legal name. Of course, I ended up not even aligning with the body’s assigned gender at birth.

Kaspar: “This, I must confess, is a haunting thought but… What is the scenario in which there would be a change in hosts? I remember as you were with [Arkady], there was… something more emotional, someone… who would’ve been satisfied with the mundane.” Here, I explained that it wasn’t what I wanted at first. My life with Arkady was projected to be the very fine blend of extravagance, travel, romance, safety, magic, and best of all, trust. Story came about after the first time Arkady had yelled at us. Story didn’t really have a lot of her own ambitions, somewhat reminiscent of Neb. She just wanted to be good enough not to be yelled at, to be treated like a person. And like her, I was created as a counter against abuse. Individuality, independence, arrogance, ego, the hollow confidence, the endless defenses and deflections. They visibly relaxed at that. Hell, all Story wanted was to just be on the periphery of joy, friendship, and romance, even if we had to live on a farmhouse to do it. Not precisely my cup of tea. “I’m afraid the implication is that someday you’ll integrate into something, well, realistic. And heaven knows we can’t have that.”

I smiled at them and they smiled back. “Well. For anything like that to happen, I would need to have an environment of safety. A circle that has my complete trust, that would not abuse it. For my identity, my privacy, and for the promises made to me to be respected.” I paused for dramatic effect. “So, that being said, you fuckers are definitely stuck with me.”

I’d been waiting to make that joke, and nearly everyone laughed. Audric who was busying himself with a swig from his flask, actually choked on it.

We talked for a while longer. I’m sure I did a round of work at one point in between, and I was feeling ridiculously exhausted on my shift. When I came back, everyone was hanging out around the stairwell and drinking straight from wine bottles. Just chatting; a barely formal meeting having somewhat turned into a gathering.

I took the opportunity to talk to my sons– already full grown young adults in only two years outside of their world. “Will there be any punitive measures for you being here?”

Irran sighed. “Aev and I’ve decided not to risk the endeavor of returning… It’s not only you that’s targeted, but everything related to you.” He gestured to himself and his brother. “Though I had no desire to choose an alliance, I believe the decision’s been made for me.”

We chatted for a while. Aevaryn told me he hasn’t seen Arkady or even Visarden lately, though we’d both been seeing ravens. In the inner world and the outer world. “He’d still be there for us any way he could. But I don’t think he’s here right now.”

I didn’t tell him I’d been lighting candles for his other father. And the despair for the cruel hypocrite that seemed to have taken his place.

Before I left, I had everyone agree to some ground rules. If they would happen to find themselves controlling my body, they had to identify themselves to specify that it was not me. If any of them heard the others say that they may have been in my body, I needed to be told immediately. I did try to suggest that they use my journal to try to communicate with me, but Kaspar did point out that many felt hesitant.

Take a wild guess on why.

Aevaryn asked me if there was a way that things would go back to the way they were. I explained that Rowan had a tendency to absorb their partner’s/significant other’s moral standing– evidently, as they were dating their last abuser years before, Rowan told a suicidal friend that Rowan would give them the tools, specifically belladonna, to do it. This was Much before Zara and Vali. So, the theory that Rowan is much too susceptible to influence that trumps basic decency definitely has a lot of proof in patterns and history. They’ve even turned on Arkady, more than once, when a friend or other partner called for it.

I told Aevaryn this, and I’d been thinking about it since. They’re not the Rowan and Arkady I know when they’re in the influence of Vali and Zara, both known liars and manipulators. But without the two of them– there might be some hope.