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[personal profile] wonder_city
I'm so sorry for missing last week! The summer is kind of hectic and my schedule for late June and all of July left me without a lot of brain. Plus the next several episodes are hard to write. At some point in the near future, I will double up a week and get you two eps to makes up for the missed one.

If you're in the Boston area today (Saturday August 9, 2014) and are at all inclined toward suit-wearing or watching suit-wearing butch-type people strut their stuff, I and a number of very attractive individuals will be modeling Saint Harridan's clothing tonight at 11 pm at a nightclub called Machine on Boylston Street. Come on out and enjoy the eye candy!

Denial Is Policy

Megan sat down hesitantly in the big chair in Pearl's office. It felt familiar. It looked familiar. It even smelled familiar.

Pearl sat down in her chair and smiled at Megan. Her iron gray hair was pulled back in a braid, and if the lines in her face were deeper than when last they met, Megan really couldn't say.

Megan fidgeted with the sideseam of her jeans for a moment, then said, hesitantly, "I found your name and number in my address book. Under my mattress. I mean, my address book was under my mattress. I never put anything there. But it was there." She ran out of words and let the silence dribble in.

Pearl studied her for a moment, then said, "Why did you call me when you found it?"

Megan looked away. "I asked Ir-- Watson about you. She said you were my therapist."

Pearl let the sentence hang between them for a long time. Then she said, slowly and clearly, "Megan, what have you lost?"

The enormity of the question collapsed in on Megan, and she went down under the weight, bending forward almost to her knees, face in (too-big) hands, and trying to choke back the tears that were suddenly there. When that threatened to make her (too-big) throat explode with agony, she finally let out a bellow of pain that echoed throughout her (too-big) chest and rattled her ribs and the small bones of her face. Caught somewhere in that sound was the word Everything.

At some point, Pearl pushed a box of tissues into easy reach, and Megan used most of its contents over the next twenty minutes of unleashed misery.

When the paroxysm passed, Megan sat quietly for a while, worn out, staring at the massive handful of tissues she was apparently compressing with the aim of making them into diamonds. She focused on the black smears across the surface of one, and she held it out to Pearl as if displaying an uncharacteristic shit produced by one of Watson's cats.

"This. That's eyeliner," she said. "I hate it. It makes me want to retch. But I'm terrified of being seen without it now. I hate myself for messing up my fucking makeup. I hate makeup. I can't… I don't think I ever wore it before. Except maybe when I was 13, before I grew too big to be a woman."

Pearl glanced briefly at the offending tissue, then watched Megan's face for the rest of the rant. She said, "I don't think you did either. What do you mean when you say you grew too big to be a woman?"

"I…" Megan reached for the explanation and there was nothing there. It was just like something had been dropped into her brain and left there, like a Lego brick to be stepped on in the dark. No attachment, no rhyme or reason. "... I don't know." She hated the sound of her voice. Her inner, utterly baffled, child.

Pearl leaned forward a little. "You know what's been happening around the world, right?"

Megan nodded. "Aliens invaded. They got a bunch of psionic paras to work for them."

"The aliens also provided the psions with power enhancers, but failed to provide them with any training." Pearl folded her hands together in her lap. "What you just experienced is happening to a lot of people right now. The official term for it is, ironically, 'alien thought syndrome.' Which is the psychiatric establishment's attempt to categorize what happens when a telepathic para meddles with someone else's mind."

Megan exhaled a sharp laugh. "We all need t-shirts: 'The aliens invaded and all I got were these lousy thoughts that aren't mine.'"

Pearl smiled. "I suspect something like that may happen. You might find some online communities starting, or, if you're interested, I can probably find you a therapy group focused around it."

Megan hiccoughed around a leftover sob. "Not yet, I think."

"That's okay." Pearl leaned forward and put her hand on Megan's. "This is hard stuff, but I want to encourage you to think about what you're thinking behind things that you're saying. Our normal thoughts have a sense of connection to one another, or at least to ourselves. These… items dropped into our brains by other people have that same sense of disconnection you just felt. That's how you tell what's yours, and what's someone else's."

Megan couldn't stop herself from asking, "How do I get rid of them?"

Pearl squeezed her hand. "You don't, I'm afraid. But you learn to think around them. Eventually, a lot of people learn to put them in a box and forget most of them."

"Oh," Megan said in a very small voice. "Oh."

Pearl sat back in her seat and watched her again.

Megan sifted through the detritus of tumbled thoughts that kept flying through her head, and noticed a few that were "aliens," just like Pearl said. She finally asked, after a few minutes of feeling vertiginously aware of her own mind's activity, "Can you please tell me what kinds of things we were talking about… before? Because I've tried to remember, but I can't."

"You will, with time," Pearl said. "No one can take away your memories. They can try to divert you away from them, they can try to block them off, but in the end, your mind is your own, and you will find your own way back to them. That is to say, no, I can't tell you, but I can help you remember."

Megan nodded. She'd expected that, really. A sudden thought, all her own, warm and furry with all the proper lines of connection, came to her. It was so comforting to have one she knew was hers that she cuddled it close, and said, "I know we're almost out of time, but can I say hi to the dogs?"

Pearl broke into the biggest smile yet. "At least Mulder and Scully remain unforgettable. Sure, let me go get them for you."

Date: 2014-08-09 10:18 pm (UTC)
cassowary: Botan from Yu Yu Hakusho, text "Ferry Girl" (Default)
From: [personal profile] cassowary
Oh, Megan. This is dreadfully painful.

Date: 2014-08-10 01:54 am (UTC)
zeeth_kyrah: A glowing white and blue anthropomorphic horse stands before a pink and blue sky. (Default)
From: [personal profile] zeeth_kyrah
Absolutely. And a form of alien thought syndrome happens in real life -- "intrusive thoughts" are sudden thoughts or ideas which occur to people, usually discarded because they're absurd or completely outside our mental or ethical framework. And they're actually really common, but nobody talks about it because of the pervasive idea that "crazy" is bad, and that anything outside of "Joe Vanilla" thought is crazy.

But as a RL psychic, I've been learning a little about psychological problems, mental illness, and sanity. It's difficult to talk about this stuff, whether because you're afraid for your mind ("Am I crazy?") or your freedom ("What if they commit me for saying this?"), but having the internet helps a lot. Anonymous forums and faceless friends and acquaintances are a lot safer, physically and emotionally.. as long as the trust is maintained that nobody's going to track you down.

This is one of the many, many reasons I want every individual to have a reasonable modicum of privacy.

Date: 2014-08-11 02:33 am (UTC)
heavenscalyx: (Default)
From: [personal profile] heavenscalyx
Intrusive thoughts suck. A lot.

I was trying to figure out how the psych establishment might categorize pathologies arising from psionic powers. This is only the tiniest poke at it, really, but at least it's something.

Date: 2014-08-11 02:31 am (UTC)
heavenscalyx: (Default)
From: [personal profile] heavenscalyx
As Akycha told me, Megan really is the denouement of the story. And that's devastating.

Date: 2014-08-10 12:07 am (UTC)
kore: (Default)
From: [personal profile] kore

("too big to be a woman," I was 6' when I was 13 and LORD that is so fucking true, God)

....Mulder and Scully! Aww.

Date: 2014-08-11 02:34 am (UTC)
heavenscalyx: (Default)
From: [personal profile] heavenscalyx
She's making a start at getting better, though. At least.


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