Phantasmagoria

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Ghost Conscience

''Wraith...is Diana,'' Kelsey tells me as we walk though the dark woods.

Wait a minute...

What?

Wraith is...Diana?

How can that be...?

''How is Wraith...Diana?'' I ask her, clearly not understanding what she has just said. Kelsey sighs before she gets ready to explain.

''OK. So basically, Wraith is Diana's...alter ego, if you like. He's part of her consciousness, or more like, her subconsciousness. He's her...ghost conscience,'' Kelsey explains to me.

Ghost conscience.

He's real to us, but not to the outside world. He's...an invisible part of Diana, the manifestation of her evil side, I assume, otherwise he wouldn't be hell bent on trying to get rid of me.

''So let me get this straight; Wraith is in Diana's mind. But...why does he come out? How does he come out?'' I ask her. I'm trying to grasp why Wraith-no, why Diana allows a part of her consciousness, or subconsciousness, to attack me.

''Wraith is Diana's defence mechanism. He feels threatened when he senses participants are...getting too close to her. Wraith...protects Diana. He wants her all to himself,'' Kelsey replies.

What the heck?

What kind of craziness have I got myself into?

If I had known at the beginning of this game that I was going to be at the mercy of a woman who has a split personality, I wouldn't even have entered.

''So...he feels that I'm a threat?'' I ask her another question.

''Guess so. He's...never acted so aggressive before, though. I mean, this is the first time that he's entered three levels. And the second time he's attacked a level keeper,'' Kelsey admits.

''He's attacked before?'' I ask in surprise. This is not the first time he's attacked?

''Yep. He attacked the triplets all at once,'' Kelsey reveals. He attacked the triplets?

Wait...

Triplets...?

What triplets?

''Triplets...?'' I respond. I haven't seen any triplets.

''Oh, you didn't know? You've already met them. Mathilde, Marzipan and Marigold,'' Kelsey answers.

No...way...

Those three girls...

They're...triplets?

''Hah! I knew it! I knew they were related! But...triplets? Wow,'' I gush. I knew they must have been related.

''Yep. Mathilde, Marzipan and Marigold all have a French father and an English mother. Mathilde was originally named Mahogany, since she was the only one of the triplets born with dark brown hair, like their father. When the parents got divorced, though, Mahogany lived in France with her father, and she changed her name to Mathilde. Marzipan and Marigold stayed with their mother in merry old England. That's why no one can really tell the difference,'' Kelsey explains.

Wow, she really deserves the name Information keeper. She knows everything.

''So...what did Wraith do to them?'' I ask her.

''Well, he tried to drown Mathilde in her memories, and he locked Marzipan and Marigold in the body of a Never,'' Kelsey replies.

He tried to drown Mathilde in her memories?

Like she...tried to drown me...in mine...

Maybe that explains why she tried to do something similar to me. Tried to drown me in my last memory of Jayden. She tried to choke me with his death.

And the girls were trapped in the body of a Never? Oh, that reminds me...

''Are the Nevers...and the Geists...like Wraith?'' I query Kelsey. She looks at me as we carry on walking through the woods. I may not be able to see very well, but I know that look. That 'you-don't-know-how-much-there-is-to-know-about-this-game' look.

''Well, they don't come from Diana, if that's what you meant. However...,'' she begins, but stops herself and sighs. She looks down, then back up at me. What's wrong?

''However what?'' I prompt her. Why has she stopped explaining?

''Are you sure you want to know?'' she asks me. Of course I want to know, that's why I asked in the first place. But then again, is she asking me because...it is something that shouldn't be known about the Nevers and Geists?

''Yes, I do want to know,'' I reply in a serious voice. If it's not what I'm thinking, then I want to know the real answer.

''OK. The Nevers and the Geists...are...people,'' Kelsey says as she drops the bombshell.

The Nevers...

And the Geists...

Are people.

People.

Living, breathing, people.

That...how is that possible...?

''I know it's hard to...come to terms with,'' Kelsey says as I must have a look of shock. Oh, I can feel my jaw on the floor.

Yep, I think I'm definitely shocked.

''How...are they...how can they be...people?'' I struggle to put in to words how the Nevers and the Geists...are humans.

''You remember when Vaughan was about to end you in level 3, but he suddenly stopped?'' Kelsey says as she makes me remember a not-so-nostalgic memory of me and Vaughan.

''Yeah?'' I say. Where is she going with this?

''Do you remember Saya telling you it was a hacker that caused him to stop?'' Kelsey helps me reminisce again.

''Yeah, I do...,'' I say as I'm still unable to see what her point is.

''That hacker, the one that one of the gate keepers got rid of...got turned into a Never,'' Kelsey reveals.

What?

The hacker...got turned into a Never...

''Does that happen to all hackers?'' I ask.

''Yes. Anyone who dares interfere with the game is punished by Diana. She's the one that turns them into Nevers,'' Kelsey explains. So, Diana punishes the hackers...and turns them into Nevers...

But how...?

''How does she-,'' I begin to ask a question, but Kelsey knows what I'm going to ask.

''She...wipes their minds,'' Kelsey answers the unfinished question.

Wipes their minds...?

She wipes...their memories?

''Is that why...they're blind? Why they don't speak?'' I ask her.

''Yes. They have no memory of who they are,'' Kelsey says further.

''But the Geists...look different. Why is that?'' I ask.

''That's because they have been taken over by Wraith,'' Kelsey says.

''Wraith can do that? I thought he wasn't...real, though,'' I respond.

''I know, but he's part of Diana too. Her power is real enough,'' Kelsey replies. Everything ultimately goes back to Diana. What exactly is she capable of?

''Diana...what is the scope of her powers?'' I ask. Kelsey smiles. Must be a really good question to ask.

''Her abilities...well, you know how we're able to read your mind?'' Kelsey tells me. Read my mind? So you guys can do that. I knew I wasn't going crazy.

''Yep,'' I reply happily.

''Well, that's because...Diana can read your mind. She's telepathic. She conveys your thoughts into our minds so we know what you're thinking,'' Kelsey answers.

Oh, so Diana's the mastermind?

She's the one who controls everything?

Of course she would. She created this game.

''Yep, she did,'' Kelsey responds to my thoughts. I chuckle briefly at that, knowing that now I must be careful about what I think.

''Boy, this is totally different to the phase training,'' I say aloud. Kelsey gives a short laugh before turning behind her to look at the timer. I look back at the timer too.

''7 minutes left. Chasing me and getting to me went too quickly. It was supposed to be longer. Most participants never find me at all, but because of what happened with Wraith, I've been caught already. I may as well take you to her,'' Kelsey says.

Take me to her?

To Diana?

''Yes. To Diana,'' Kelsey replies to what I was thinking. I still have to get used to that.

''We're going right now?'' I ask her. I can't quite believe I'm nearly at the end of this game. It went by so fast.

''Yes, of course. Unless you want another challenge,'' Kelsey muses.

''I don't think I would like to have that luxury,'' I jokingly say back. I wouldn't like to do another challenge for the rest of my life.

''Well, let's be on our way then!'' Kelsey says as we stop. She looks up to the sky, which begins to change. The moon, stars - all the darkness starts to melt away to reveal a bright, rainbow-coloured sky. The trees of the forest begin to go back into the ground, and the Nevers that I see dotted around the area, including the one that was chasing me, all disappear one by one. I look at Kelsey, who looks ahead of her. I can see her mind at work, because of the look of concentration on her face. I'll reserve any more questions for her later.

''Brontosaurus or Diplodocus?'' Kelsey asks me after she conjures up a highway road in front of us.

What is she on about?

Why is she asking me about dinosaurs?

Is she giving me a choice?

''Uh...Diplodocus...?'' I respond. I don't know why she is...

Asking...

Me...

''Wow,'' is all I can say, as I see hundreds of different kinds of dinosaurs descend down the highway. They came out of nowhere. I see Velociraptors, a Triceratops, Stegosauruses...you name the dinosaur, they're here.

I feel like I'm in Jurassic Park.

''Here you are. Your very own Diplodocus,'' Kelsey says as she directs my attention to a rather giant dinosaur. It's very, very big.

''What do I do with it?'' I ask her as it bends down to see my face. Kelsey goes over to a triceratops which has stationed itself next to my Diplodocus.

''Ride it, of course. How else do you expect to get to Diana?'' Kelsey responds. She immediately jumps on to her dinosaur with ease, and it starts following the others on the highway.

Guess I have to follow suit. I float up to my dinosaur, and follow after Kelsey.

''You girls...really like to stretch your imaginations,'' I say as I catch up to Kelsey.

''You have no idea,'' Kelsey says.

Yeah, you're right.

I really don't.


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