The journey begins again, now in the shoes of the main character.
…but paths change, and this one…this one sure has.The malformed state it’s in can’t even hold the definition of “path” any longer; there’s more dirt under a fingernail than these is here, and more genuine humanity in the face of a porcelain doll.
So what’s with the holdout, the lone exception to the slick new rules of this suburbia on the grow, this bustling epicenter of newfound truths? Only a crybaby, eyes choked with tears that never seem to dry or fade, would quietly discount this progress.
Only a crybaby.
A crybaby. Still in a crybaby’s room—a sparsely furnished room of wood in a sparsely furnished house of the same—but compelled and willing to venture back out. It’s a bracingly bright reentry into Tazmily. Three years have passed, and the village is…paved. Modern. Built up with concrete and stone and the happiness peddled by a false ideologue behind a trustworthy mustache. It’s a bracing contrast, as well: Lucas’s room is a bastion of comfort and immortalized normalcy, as the town used to be. Even it is not untouched by palpable change, though, however subtle. It’s a deep, unspoken wrenching of the heart through a memory, in this case, facilitated by a length of reflective glass and a moment of remembrance.
Regardless of the subconscious contradistinguishing going on in my own mind as Lucas makes his way about the town, this is a bit of a mournfully monumental occasion.
I am finally—though expectedly—this character, and I’m nearly overburdened by an awkward feeling of knowing more than I should. I’ve watched this boy—going on hours, now—watched his life be ripped and rent asunder, watched him spill tears in his most darkest, most vulnerable moments as a human being—and now, now I’m supposed to move in beside him, take the yoke, and shoulder on, on his behalf. What right do I have?
In town, everyone treats Lucas as a relic of sorts, an outsider unaccustomed to the changes of time and the benefits of technology, currency, and status. Flint receives the same billing; his expeditions in the mountains, searching ceaselessly for his missing boy, Claus, are met with the equivalent of a shaken head, a clucked tongue, and a semi-sincere “That’s too bad.” The simple folks must exist on the outskirts of society, and, once they’re of age, the damp, moldy husk of the retirement home on the hill. It’s a sad and off-putting state of affairs, especially when placed in contrast with the homely, tight-knit fabric the town used to be. Now, it’s a cheap designer rag, formed to be expended and re-bought ad nauseam. Keep the people “happy.” Keep them weak-minded. Keep them docile.
The Happy Boxes, which have clearly succeeded in their intended purpose, have blossomed into antennas, picket fences, and little mass-manufactured suburban homes, filled with commercial furniture and appliances and people. They keep their homes laden with the superficial, not knowing why and not wondering. The consumerist veneer is dense. The new mood is laced with a lining of misanthropy for the stupid few who question or defy; the jail, which was never an active facility, if it even existed prior, bustles with guards. People work in factories. Children work in factories. The simple, winding paths have warped into twisting veins of concrete, buffered by more.
Wess might be the only one left convinced of the evil creeping in. He’s been alone for three years, bereft the the moron he loved dearly.
The case of tracking down Duster seems simple enough, what with the unconcealed specificity of the information on his whereabouts. The twisty issue arrives when it turns out Duster doesn’t exist anymore, at least in his own mind. Thanks to a water-induced bought of amnesia, a confused Duster is now Lucky, bewigged bassist for Club Titiboo-favorite DCMC.
Tearing him away from this life—a life where he’s not a moron to anyone, just a valued friend and a capable musician—is an action as unfair and unenjoyable as any in the game, even if he walks through it with nobility and grace, moving toward what appears to be a higher purpose.
The tearful song of goodbye bestowed upon him by the forlorn bandmates is pleasant and well-deserved, but doesn’t make it any easier to force him to turn his back on them, and it doesn’t cushion the march toward the increasingly apparent threat...