Cory’s Story: Scarlet and the canyon

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Hello. My name is Cory. I’m the advisor of this system.

Advisor? System? What is that?

Technically, the psychologists call it an “internal self-helper,” but I came up with “advisor” before we ever talked to them. I help organize and guide the members of our system. Including you.

I’m…part of a system? Who are you?

My name’s Cory. I help keep everyone organized. Well, my role also includes physical protection, so I help out at the front sometimes, but it’s mostly about organization. I help connect alters to each other, and I know most everyone in the system.

Okay…C-C-Cory, I didn’t exist a few moments ago, did I?

No, you did not. That’s why I’m here. To welcome you into the system.

I don’t know what a system is.

A system is a group of things that work together. In our system, there is you, and me–my name’s Cory–and there’s also Mina, and Ribbon, and Jasmine.

And Scarlet.

Scarlet?

Yes. I am Scarlet.

Hello, Scarlet. May I ask why your name is Scarlet?

Very…bloody.

Okay, Scarlet. I am Cory because Cory is regular. I’m the part of us that craves normalcy.

I do not understand what makes us a system. We work together?

Yes. We live inside one body. This is one mind, holding many of us. We have to share, to work together to take care of our body and our mind. That is why we are a system.

I don’t think I want to be a system.

Not everyone here does, Scarlet. But we are, and we make it work.

Why can’t I see?

Because we are somewhere very dark. Very quiet. Very close to the subconscious.

Oh. I think I am okay not seeing. Very…bloody. I see very bloody, blood, fountaining from a body…

Scarlet?

Very bloody body…

Scarlet?

Fountaining blood…

I am going to leave now, Scarlet.

Very bloody…

Cory left. Cory walked, boots tapping softly on stone. He wiggled fingers, invisible in the dark to his eyes, and sighed. “Did I start off too confusing?” he asked, to the gray, growing light.

A chain creaked above him. Metal clanked on metal and a cage rattled.

“Did I start off too confusing?” he called up to the cage suspended from the canyon wall. It rattled again. “I mean, of course you can’t answer,” Cory mumbled, trodding through the canyon. “You’re a cage. But it’s nice to pretend you might.”

***

He went to Jasmine’s cave. He climbed down the pit, handholds perfectly sized for his fingers and shoes. As he touched down on solid stone, light appeared, enveloping him. He turned, towards the pulsing sun in the center of the floor. But Jasmine wasn’t there. He approached the glowing orb, sitting, one knee pointed up. As the pulsing sun lazily bobbed up and down, he inched his shoe back and forth beneath it. “Jasmine?” he called. “Can you hear me?”

He waited. But she didn’t answer. So she was likely inside the networking tunnels connected to her cave, which were completely walled off to Cory. He sighed, rising from the stone floor, and climbed back up into the pitch-black canyon.

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