Time is a tricky little minx. One assumes it charts on a straight path, plodding ever forward and leaving our bodies in its wake with each shivering decade. However, there are layers. This, I have learned.
It's a lesson taught in mouthfuls of blood from the serrated maw, drawn on the throat of an attacker. Even in youth, I was defiant of inevitabilities. Of fates, divine orchestrations, and the pathologized anemic ramblings of death cults the world over.
As I tore out that throat, I knew that time—well, it doesn't exist in one single layer as an objective experience. For my bloody mouth's wrenching, time stood still. The internal processes struggled in the molasses-thick, omnipresent fear.
Fear that was a shroud for rage.
They should've known very early on that I was not like the others born into my vocation. I was not one to cake in jewelry, oil in perfumes, or lacquer in red paint. I was indigo, blinding and defiant, a color so profound it ate up the remaining spectrum with the force of a nova.
Greedy in its consumption, for I can never get enough of retributive justice, and I require battles to fight, so that my war might blind the stars above.
Time, in moments of survivalism, slows down
Therein, time can be both subjectively experienced, and objectively measured. More than that, time is a thing in the future of futures that can be played with.
Back then, I could only stop it, subjectively.
Dragged from my bed like the stubborn mule I was, shoved into rooms, stripped down and stuffed into garments, and dragged once more, to finally be stripped down to my bare bones with my face in a pile of sheets.
When this happened, time stopped on the inside of my skull. I would be somewhere else, as I always was, until fear stepped away and left an imprint of rage.
Rage became sheering off my long bleached locks. Rage became training my body when I wasn't being sold, sleeping, or eating.
Rage became the ability to stop and start my own subjective time, at will. For when I needed to protect my mind, or for when I needed to do something my tender little soul would be battered and bruised by, moreso than my slender limbs already had.
Rage became a symphony, as the start and stop of time let me move through a pillaged life, protected.
The first time I fought back was when I was very little; rancid flesh in my bloody teeth. I'd been starved for it.
The second time I fought back was when I first cut my hair. I'd been beat for it.
The third time I fought back was when I was caught handling the firearm of a regular. He'd been gracious enough to teach me the ropes. Someone had finally given Dolores dear a pistol. Rather, I'd taken it, by being very good at being useful.
Nothing has ever come easy for me, but at least I had time on my side, and the growing blackness of rage.
Then, the rage became war on the self, but a good war.
A war that had lived since the youth-days and the scant memories of flowers in fistfuls near rivers, long hair beneath a hat, large clothes and small hands in friendship. We were not different—I didn't think.
We were so different. That difference felt wrong.
It wasn't just the pillaging, the destruction, the lack of choices, the selling and using and time stopping. It was an alienation at birth.
I stopped time yet again, made myself very useful, and acquired the talent to alter the thing I'd been born inside of. I was deemed unusable, until new clientele were courted.
We all know this sort of story.
It's a trope as old as time, one people who aren't like me hate to be spilled from lips as though it'd manifest it again like a curse. But that doesn't make it any less real. There are no fairytales in my life that I haven't fashioned by my own hand. And none of them even vaguely resemble utopias. I cannot thrive in a system I cannot fight.
As there is a lot to fight, I will always find a way to win. Because time is on my side.
Time, as I've mentioned, is tricky. It's built on layers. It's subjective and objective. It's measurable and yet deeply intimate.
Look at the clock. Imagine you're at your pedestrian vocation that you perhaps don't find much meaning in. Imagine you have five minutes left of your shift. That five minutes can feel like decades, correct?
My entire life has felt like a series of decades.
It's only when I'm able to slow time down fully, when I move faster and more brilliantly than the speed of sound, that I find an equilibrium.
An equilibrium that only comes in war. War and the music of war. The music of movement, of sound and speech, of color and blood; a war.
When I fled to America, the vocation followed. We've already explored that side story, I have no need to repeat it. However, there's something to keep in mind, with all the horrific vagaries this origin story outlines.
Time may be fickle, it may be subjective, it may be objective—and in the future of futures I might be able to mine it—but there's one thing that time isn't.
It isn't harmless
Every single piece of time etches into the bones a lived reality. Every event in oversaturated color leaves a stain. It's all kept somewhere, in the body, in the mind, in the artifice of human clay. Shaped by it, we are but tree-ringed flesh.
You may not remember everything, as I have forgotten much as well, but you may feel it. A smell, a taste, a weight, a color, and the memory bleeds back behind your eyelids in a bruise. Maybe you quiver. Maybe you scream.
Maybe you remember tender things in fondness. Maybe you have many of those memories. I don't.
The specifics of my origin are unimportant.
I don't wish to repaint the gruesome details in living color every time a voyeur begs for by-proxy sexual violence. I talk of it, but you must listen to me speaking in tongues between sentences.
As I'm a sentient creation, I won't prostrate myself for a camera. I'm aware that I'm written. Just as I'm aware of how precious, imperfect, fallible, and powerful time truly is.
My origin story has already happened.
It's happened several times, in several dimensions. It's re-happened again, recreated in all its glory, for me to experience and expel—again—so as to parse together the finite trappings of an entire spaceship, set on fire for being what it was.
For being what I was.
Time after time, the same sort of beast.
Time is a tricky little minx. In the caverns of your mind, you may yet know how to wield it, or it may yet happen without your input.
But the next time someone objectively vile puts you in a position to be overcome by the shroud of impenetrable fear—to be frozen in time—I want you to do something for me.
I want you to follow my lead
I want you to open up your jaws and break their skin with your teeth and bleed them out as they thrash ineffectually; they should not have ever put their hands upon you.
Time will slow down.
You will move faster than the speed of sound. Music—the bleating, beating, fleeting heart's drum—will invade your senses. You will fight back.
Even if fighting back is simply cutting your locks. Even if fighting back is learning to fight back. Even if fighting back is learning that you can.
If you cannot break their skin with your teeth for threat of your own demise, then break away, but make it hurt. Make it hurt, if only for me, if you haven't yet learned that I am you, in a way.
If only for the me that lives within you darkly. Some ebbing seed of defiance in the face of fate, of time, of pain, of a trespass, of series of trespasses.
I move in you; I know where the violent spectrum births acid in your gut, twist. Twist and finally let it drip from lips to crack past your teeth, to don in torn socks and dash the dotted line with claws, roar.
I beg of you to remember that you can.
Let me live in the space of your skull so that you may unmake the unmakers. So that you may void the voiders, erase the erasers, unconstitute the consent-stealers, and evict the agency-thieves with a fist of guts, and raw molten rage in your eyes.
Heaven help the sorry few who feel entitled to take and take and give nothing back
I will never judge you for owning the war in your blood, stopping time, and doing what must be done. Your survival depends on it.
I may be seen as a monster in later years for offering you this war as a gift. I may be deemed a useless trope; my story rewritten in someone else's projected contexts. I may be deemed lesser-than; denigrated, words stolen from my throat like my agency was denied for my short, ancient mortal life.
And you may be, if you choose to survive in blinding indigo, as I did.
But let me make one thing painfully fucking clear:
Even if time is varied, variable, and dynamic, your life?
Isn't. Not everyone gets to be repurposed in the future as an omnipotent AI overlord of an entire warring, convoluted, broken ecosystem.
And so, come what may, you must fight to rule the land of your flesh and soul.
Take my lead, stand for yourself and for those you love, and give no quarter to the true monsters of the world.
For they will twist your story their way to be blameless in their evils. They will galvanize lesser devils to do their work for them, each act an unwriting of the raw colors of your guts.
If I've possessed you, this is our promise: we will do everything in our power to prevent them from rewriting our stories. Everything.
Time is ours, after all.