Your life is ruined. You go
to bed every night knowing that any one of you or your friends could be next.
You know that if you had just made a simple alternative decision at that crucial,
yet so seemingly harmless moment in time, things could have been so much
different. You go to bed scared, alone, and cold. Sweat crawls across your brow
as you try to rock yourself to sleep.
You want someone to hold. To love. To laugh with you, lie with you, to fall asleep
next to you.
But you don't have it. And you likely never will.
This is what TDA is all about. Ruin and redemption. We all know the feeling, even if only mildly. I aim to portray this feeling. I hope it works.
I'd like to thank a whole bunch of people that can't all be named at this point, the readers, my co-authors, and all of that kind of crap. This one is for you, guys.
Type "forward" into the fanfiction.net dictionary and you get something along the lines of "the van; the front." Type it correctly as "foreword" and something like "a preface" or "a short introductory essay preceding the text of a book" pops up. No joke. And yet it still doesn't help me in writing something to "foreword" what I have learned, experienced, and bitched about during the process of writing TDA. I guess I should say something like "Steve was really cool about deadlines and the only one who followed them," or "Sex with Macintyre is only good when drunk or high," or something else that's really stupid. The truth is, I'm speechless. I can't think of a single phrase that can accurately describe what I have gone through. Jeeves doesn't help me either; he just babbles on about some guy named Schwartz. Google just plugs a magazine. And I'm not even touching MSN or Lycos.
All others aside, the only thing I can think of is: "Thank you. Thank you, Macintyre, for giving me the opportunity to attempt to realize your grand vision. Thank you, Zacharus, for teaching me things about literature and writing that I had no prior knowledge of. Thank you, both of you, for not being too hard on me whenever I screwed something up. Thank you, faithful supporters, for you are appreciated greatly, possibly more than the actual work itself. Thank you."
Yes, that will do nicely.
It would be so dull and unoriginal of me (though I'm tempted) to copy Sean's brilliant idea and go on and on about how little I have to say at this point. Then again, does any author, really? Makes you wonder if every Foreword you've ever read was the author pulling something out of his/her ass just to make the book appear more complete.
Anyway, what I will say is this: The Day After, successor to Macintyre's looming The Final Step, exceeded my very high expectations and then some.
Yes, indeed, some of this is due to that nasty phrase called "author bias," but my pride in this work isn't even a measure of the actual quality of it. No, this work is important to me because it was a learning experience—a test for the limits of teamwork and friendship and how to combine the two without completely fucking up one or the other. Well, we're finally here. Since the project officially began (June 2002), we've become such close friends that I cannot imagine what it would be like to not know Macintyre or Catlett, to collaborate ideas and critique each other's work and form a solid, unique team. In that context, TDA is an especially massive triumph… and thus a permanent milestone in not only my fanfiction portfolio, but within my fondest memories.
This is my final work of Sonic fanfiction EVER, as the readers of this piece may or may not know. And do you know something? I wouldn't have it any other way.
THE DAY AFTER
1. The beginning.
[AMY, Sean Catlett]
"Is something wrong?"
"Don't stop. Keep going . . . . . ."
The way Sandra's tongue feels right now is like a giant red Popsicle, not melting in heat and somehow 98 degrees. On my back I can't see how big it is, but I know it must be pretty fucking long to feel like it's licking the inside of the belly button.
Normally, right now I'd be thrashing my arms around, with a giant pillow over my face to muffle the noises, but instead I'm as still as a dead fish, pun intended, and not being much of a turn on. No need for the pillow this time, except maybe to drown out Sandra's fevered licking.
The couch under me is sunken in about halfway under my weight, and I'm only 95 pounds. The seedy motel walls drip black sludge, the carpet is shag and full of lice, the grime is built in and is a bonus, and these are obvious reasons as to why the room is so cheap. This isn't the best part of town to be in, of course, but it is the best place both of us can be, and besides, everywhere is the same nowadays. Now, if only I could go along with her this time.
Like I said, this isn't normal. This isn't a time where both of us can scream at the top of our lungs and nobody would care. This isn't a time where it's necessary for one of us to bite the headboard while it bangs the other end against the wall, over and over.
Sorry, Sandra, but I've got too much other shit on my mind.
Deal with it.
"Oh, fuck you, I'm leaving," she says, getting up and wiping her face off, looking disgusted.
"If you didn't want to do this you could have told me, you bitch." She stormed into the bedroom, slamming the door. I guess she's pretty pissed about the wasted money spent on the room.
But fuck all that. It doesn't matter right now. My mind is on other things.
I pull my skirt and underwear back up, the material feeling soft against my open skin. I check myself out on the broken mirror on the wall.
I still think black looks better than pink.
I fucking hate this city.
What's depressing is that even if you have some hero seeming to be really, honestly, truthfully trying to make everything better than it is, you begin to realize that they are just like everyone else. It's nature that consumes everything, and it's nature that destroys.
It's all about feeling good before someone kills you. Drugs, sex, murder. All the same dosage and prescription from the pharmacy. And you're your own fucking doctor.
Become an addict. Go ahead. Before someone makes you a drug. Nowadays, you're either one or the other. The only way you're an in-between is if you're dead.
The city smells like a giant pool of fluid. The steam rises from the vents in the street as if it were a giant creature breathing out its last breath. Around me everything screams and dies spontaneously. To my left, someone gets mugged and beaten to death. The dumpster ahead of me has stains on it, indicating an unwanted child. To my right, in an alley, emotion drips off the walls and onto broken glass . . . . .
I shudder, and I pull my sweater tighter around me. It's summer and yet I feel icy. I'm cold, and yet I'm sweating. Each drop off of my face feels like it's being scraped off.
I had told Rouge that we were going to the movies. It's only been a half an hour and already I'm going home. This will take some explaining.
This is how my life is. This is everyday to me. I've become so emotionally desensitized that my face is no longer an extension but a mask that moves sometimes. I may look happy, but underneath it's an entirely different story.
This is a new thing, though. I usually don't go "home" unless it's to sleep. Rouge and I barely even speak to each other anymore, unless I need money that she can't afford to give, but does anyway.
Why can't she fucking get a better job? There must be something out there other than letting male pigs empty their pockets and themselves on her. She has a PHD or whatever, for fuck's sake. Things can't get any worse so they should get better, right?
I already know the answers to these. None of them are optimistic.
The truth is, it probably can get worse. I guess I just don't see how yet.
In about 15 minutes I reach the apartment complex, one that looks the same as the last one I was at. The superintendent is jerking off to porn, so I decide not to bother him and instead I walk inside. The floor we live on is up three flights of slippery stairs that I do not want to climb.
Living in a place like this, you can never really hear much of anything in the other room, but you can have a pretty good idea. The problem is, what you end up doing is minding your own fucking business. Getting involved in anything is worse than forgetting the next day. Like that Cassandra girl or whatever. Knowledge of the world but the impossibility to do anything about it. That's really not so bad, though. I would rather risk a headache than a heart attack. Any day.
I reach the door, the bottom of the sandals sticking to the floor.
I pluck the key out from under the matt before I realize that the door was left unlocked. Whoops.
I barely have time to push it open before I hear the gun shot.
To be continued. Reviews are appreciated. Oh, and visit our site: http://tdaproject.tripod.com.