12.2 - Helter-Skelter [Joe's Tale]

So … was this a, um …


Was this tree attacking you? Was it … walking around?

Like an Ent?

Are those the tree people in that movie?

Uh, yeah?

Yes, like one of those Ent.

Well, no.

Ah. So …

Though the trees around us were kinda moving weird. But it wasn’t getting like legs and charging at me, and I didn’t really notice the other trees right then, just the one in front of me, the one Kiln had just run up.

So why did you attack it?

Well, like I said, it was – there were these flashbacks, in my head. Like really painful, traumatic ones. And … they were like connected with the tree. I just knew it. It was like there was something inside, inside the, um, the lattice, y’know, the fig vines, wood, that stuff. And if I could just tear my way inside, expose it all, then the pain would stop and I – I …


I would know. Oh. Oh. Sorry about that.

Not to worry. Ms. Brinkley will repair the chair arms, as always. So, the tree …

You’re not gonna ask me how I felt about it?

I think you’ve made it clear enough, and we’ll probably want to walk through those feelings and images later on. But let’s finish your tale.

Yeah, sure. Anyway, I’m tearing into this tree, and there’s wood flying around, and I’m – I’m not paying any attention to anyone else, Kiln up in the tree or any of the others. I’m just … so angry, like it’s not even my anger, but someone else’s, and I even like I should be standing off to the side and trying to calm the anger down, but I’m in there cheering for it because at least it’s doing something, y’know? Not just sulking or being depressed, but doing something.

Even if you sound unhappy about what that something is.

Sometimes you gotta do something, even if it’s not the best thing, y’know?


And then I hear something, and it’s not – like not a slap in the face, but – if all this anger is like a river, it’s like all of a sudden someone’s broken a dam, and it’s all flowing in another direction.

What did you hear?

I heard Mette, calling me for help.

What did she say?

Like, “Joe, help!” And I turn, and she’s flying into the air, and Roddy, Roddy has grabbed her, and her antigrav is on and he’s grabbed her and they’re flying away. Which, I mean, is probably good, because the area looks like a tree exploded, and is still exploding, and there are other trees falling around me but all I can see is – well, Roddy. And Mette. And, y’know, Roddy and Mette.


So the good thing is, I stop attacking the tree, and the other trees, and like that.

And the bad?

Is all I I’m focused on is Roddy, and all that anger and fear and all that is, like, zeroed in on him. Cause he’s hurting Mette, and she needs my help, and he’s goddamm freakin’ Roddy. So I leap into the air, straight at them, even though I’ve gotten even bigger and …


And I dunno what I would have done if I’d gotten my hands on him. I mean, I don’t think – but I dunno. I might have hurt him. I mean, really hurt him.

But you didn’t.

Not cause of me. Cause of Mette.

But you were the one who stopped.

She told me to.

She –

I’m like sailing through the air toward them, and I dunno what I looked like, but all of a sudden she’s shouting, “Joe! Focus! Listen to Alex!” and her voice, it sounds like a prof, or my Auntie, or – y’know, my mom.


And, yeah, big slap in the face, and I veer off and land on the ground instead, just like Roddy and Mette do, and Alex is talking on the comms about some zombie moose monster they and Kiln are all dealing with –

Zombie … moose …

– and we have to sneak off quiet-like away from it so they can do something with all their techy-tech drones, and I’m all of a sudden really kinda of feeling bad about what I’ve done, like it’s catching up to me, and then Roddy, he’s all, “Don’t worry, man, I just did what I thought you would do,” and I’m all thinking, that coulda been me rescuing Mette, but I let Roddy do it, and now she’s giving me orders to not attack him, and so I help Roddy out.

You help –

I pick him up and throw him the direction Alex wants us to go.

You threw him?

Well, yeah. But he’s really good at that sorta thing. I do it in gym all the time, and he almost never hits the wall, but grabs onto something and spins around and all that gymnastic stuff. Really pisses me off sometimes.


And I know I shouldn’t’ve, and he was right, but, damn, he’s also Roddy, and I was angry at him, and kinda a bit at Mette, and kinda wondering if I even want to be around these people, on the team, except, I mean, Mette is still Mette, even if I’m kinda resenting her – and I know I’m angry at me, too, so it was kinda the easiest thing to do. Tossing Roddy around.

I see.

And then Mette and I are running off the direction I threw Roddy, only as quietly as we can, and she’s up in the trees keeping, like, watch on everyone, and Alex is trying to get everyone moving that direction, but Kiln is doing their action hero thing and Alex is trying to stop 'em, and there are these bright flashes of, like, energy, and this really deep, deep, subwoofer sound that made my teeth ache, and I keep thinking I need to go over and help Kiln, something to work out all this anger that’s all up in my shoulders, but now Mette’s alone, and I also kinda feel like I need to protect her.

Why did you feel you needed to protect her?

Since I kinda maybe put her in danger before. And then Roddy had to protect her. So … I wanted to be more the protecting one than the … other.

Hmm. So what happened then?

Well, that’s when the trees tried to kill Roddy …