SPOILERS FOR RESONANT FOLLOW
The “Combination” device that gives me access to the Vault-Verse has been quiet for a few weeks but last night, it started chirping. By chirping, I mean this thing was screaming at full volume to be let out of my desk drawer. This thing sure is aggressive. I think this device is a bit too sentient. Combo, as I am calling them, has an opinion on everything. It asks me “Oh, you’re really wearing that? No, No, it’s fine. I just wasn’t sure you would wear that out.” and things like that. I don’t know if it wants to be friends or hates me. Anyway…
It’s given me my next assignment. The next world that we are venturing to is code-named “Resonant”. It seems to be a reference to what Combo is calling waves. They said when a wave hits you either “strap in or strap on” because all of your violent thoughts burst out like a volcano of aggression. It’s like a soundwave that just sweeps the world and makes things bad…really bad. It’s one of those worlds that is either closing in on its finale or about to spring back to life like a phoenix.
This interview is going to be a little different than the last one. The family I am speaking to has been through a lot together in the last few months. From what I understand, the Father of the family, Paxton, went to find medicine for his youngest Stef but a whole series of events kept him from coming back. His 2 other children Ty and Bec held down the home but also separated… everyone is together now.
Combo opened my rift into the world in front of the church they were all staying at after everything that happened. It’s been a week since the family fought Maw, had their house burned down, and Paxton returned. When I first step foot through the portal, I heard a bark come from inside the church as a dog rushed towards me. I’ll be honest and tell you that I was a bit afraid at first as the dog lunged at me but it was only wanting to be pet. Paxton called “Fern” from inside, the dogs name. I pet Fern to show her that I was not a threat as Paxton came outside to see where she had gone.
Explaining who and just what I was doing there wasn’t simple but Paxton must have assumed that I was a bit mad because he agreed to have the family sit down with me to discuss everything. This interview will be broken into sections because I spent some time chatting with everyone about the events that had transpired.
Family Sit Down
Thank you all for speaking with me today. I wanted to first ask about the waves… What does it feel like when they hit?
PAXTON: That’s a tough thing to describe if you haven’t lived through it. It’s like…a switch flips and…darkness comes out of you. Things that you thought one time years ago, like jumping off a building, or something recent like wanting to hit someone, those things shoot to the front of your mind and you start acting before you know it. You watch yourself do those things, it all seems natural until the Wave stops and reality sets back in.
BEC: Itchy, they always feel like suddenly your whole body itches then needles explode out through your skin.
TY: You ever go to sit down and your stupid sister pulls the chair out from underneath you and there is that moment when you thought you would hit the chair and you just drop and your stomach falls? That.
How do you all feel now that you’re back together?
PAXTON: It’s the greatest relief I could imagine. Every day away from my kids was…I just kept imagining the terrible things that might be happening to them. I should have known they could handle it.
STEF: It’s cool! I have a dog now!
BEC: Dad’s been working with me on my mediation. It’s gotten much better, I think all that practice with shooting arrows really helped. I can make it through Waves now without tying myself up!
TY: It’s nice. But Bec still thinks she’s the boss.
What do you hope the future holds?
PAXTON: Rebuilding the cabin. But bigger and better than before. We have a group now, I learned some things from the Spiral. I think we can teach more people to resist the Waves with mediation, we can extend a little bubble of protection around this area and start…living again. Hope. Hope is what the future holds.
One on One with Ty
After sitting down with the family, I went to speak to everyone one on one for a moment. Ty was outside speaking to one of the other kids around the church as I walked up to speak with him.
I saw you playing with another kid earlier, is she your friend?
TY: Yes? Kinda? She and I…well we got married I guess. I didn’t know…Anyway, she’s nice. Sarah is her name. She’s staying with us now.
Oh right… I wanted to see how you felt with reuniting with Isaac after what he did?
TY: It was weird. I’m glad he came to help us when we were fighting with Maw and that crazy Preacher and his creepy followers. But he’s still just looking out for people who believe what he believes. We offered for him to stay here with us, but he cared more about trying to change what everyone believes in, so he left with some of the Congregation. Sarah’s dad, Noah, and a few stayed with us. It’s nice to have other people around, other kids to play with.
I know all of this must have been traumatizing, do you feel like you learned anything from this whole ordeal?
TY: Oh man, lots! How to shoot a bow, how important taking care of your family is. Most importantly, be careful who you trust.
One on One with Bec
Bec approached me after Ty had run off. She looked very tired after everything that had happened but she was kind enough to speak with me.
When your father first left, what were you thinking would happen?
BEC: I really thought he would be back before we really noticed he was gone. He’s left on other trips before, even overnight. He was so worried before he left, I thought he was being ridiculous. Turns out, my Dad is a pretty smart guy.
Are you afraid Maw will ever surface again? Do you think there was any logic in their beliefs?
BEC: If Maw comes back, I’m ready for him! I’m an even better shot now! Logic? In ripping out eyes and eating people? I mean…I guess I can see how some people like others to make decisions for them. But that was just crazy!
You have been extraordinarily brave from what I understand, do you think now you will have a moment to take a breath and let someone else be the brave one for a while?
BEC: I don’t think bravery is something you can turn on and off. I never thought of myself as brave anyway. You see something that needs to get done, and you do it.
A Quick Question for Miki
Miki didn’t seem to want to speak with me but I got one question in before he walked away.
What does it feel like when you feel the wave coming? Do you sense when it is coming to a close?
MIKI: It’s like a dip in your stomach, like the first fall of a rollercoaster, if it’s a really strong Wave, it can feel like being car sick. It slowly builds as the Wave approaches, I’m pretty aware of it now after all these years. It fades the same way it builds, luckily they usually don’t last too long.
Campfire with Paxton
After everyone had eaten dinner and found their respective places to sleep for the night, I sat with Paxton by a fire. I could feel the pain radiating off of him as if he had lost so much on his journey to return to his family. My job isn’t to sugar coat things though, my job is to tell their stories.
Paxton, I wanted to start off with talking about the island. If it weren’t for the heinous leader, do you think it would have been a sustainable place to rebuild?
PAX: No. There was no way to grow all the things you needed to survive. Trade with the ‘neighbors’ was out too, they had lost all sense of civility. Honcho was a beast, but he had figured out that violence and thievery was a way to exist out there.
Do you think these people with abilities like yours and Miki, do you think there are more out there?
PAX: I would imagine so. When we talk about my ‘ability’, that has come from training, it’s nothing I was born with. I’ve taught Bec how to do it, Ty is coming along and even a couple of former Congregation members and Miki have started on the path to stillness of the mind. If you stay here I could teach you too. Now Miki’s ability to sense the Waves…that may be more unique. But who knows, maybe that can be taught too. I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about how humans and Waves interact, there are possibilities of further…influence on the Waves, I believe.
I debated asking you this but I have to ask. Claire… Did or does she mean something to you? I know it may be painful but I get the sense that she wasn’t just a doctor you needed for Stef.
PAX: Clare…Doc…She means…I don’t have the space in my heart for her. My kids are too important. I hope she finds some level of peace at the Spiral. She was more conflicted than she ever let on. I think doctors, in general, keep their focus outward, on helping other people. I didn’t see how much help she needed. I regret many decisions, but failing to help Claire when she needed it most is that one that will stay with me forever.
Do you think you will ever return to the Spiral?
PAX: I can’t see a path back to the Spiral that doesn’t involve abandoning my children or bloody violence. I’m not walking that road again if I can avoid it.
Before I go, I just want to ask… do you think you’re going to be okay?
PAX: I guess that depends on your definition of ‘okay’. (laughs). I think we’ll survive, we’ll try to make the best life possible for the people we can. And we’ll protect ourselves against anything, or anyone, that threatens to take that life away.
After Paxton answered, Miki rushed out from the church to warn us. I could hear the chirping of bugs locked inside a chest. A wave was coming.. It was my time to leave this family. I wish that I could have stayed, that I could have done more. But I am only an observer of the Vault-Verse… I cannot do things to change it. Or at least that is what Combo keeps telling me. Until next time, this is Dan McMahon from GC52 News Networks. Be strong in all your convictions.
Resonant was written by David Andry, all art in this article was done by Skylar Patride, colors done by Jason Wordie, and lettering by Deron Bennett