"My spirits, as in a dream, are all bound up.
My father's loss, the weakness which I feel,
The wrack of all my friends, nor this man's threats,
To whom I am subdued, are but light to me,
Might I but through my prison once a day
Behold this maid. All corners else o' th' earth
Let liberty make use of; space enough
Have I in such a prison."
Shakespeare, The Tempest.
You can never escape the lighthouse here.
This time it's on a sign.
Another great day in Arcadia Bay. Thank you, come again.
But it's all a lie. It was all for nothing. There is no escape.
She's not leaving. She never leaves. She sees the truck pull away - her fucking truck - round a bend and disappear, but she's still there in front of that fucking sign. Like a butterfly beating against the glass.
She screams something that sounds like fish language and kicks at the sign, trying to split the cursed thing down the middle, only she misses it by about a mile and pitches forward like an idiot and falls on her face and wakes up.
In a Blackwell classroom, Max phases in with a start.
For a while, she has no idea where she is.
There's this greenish carpet thing with gray dots on it, which may have been white dots once, just like the carpet may have been green once, but the dots have clearly been gray for a while, and the carpet thing plays through several greenish hues, varying based on area traffic and gross accidents of the past.
And she is on top of it, on her face, in a space between the bed and the wall, which she grabs both for support as she springs up, telling herself they gotta be less gross than the floor.
It's the truth, actually. Probably.
The walls are wood panels, stained, and not by accident. The bed's comforter, though greenish too, looks reasonably clean. There's another just like it on the other bed, untouched.
She sees the other bed, the lampshades, the desk, the old boxy TV like the one that used to sit in their living room, the pulled blinds, and remembers. The Three Seals.
But she also remembers everything else still, and her gaze snaps from the empty pill and whiskey bottles on the dresser to the gun handle peeking from under a pillow.
Chloe Price shoots Frank in the chest. She shoots him in the leg. She shoots Pompidou, and it's the saddest thing because he makes that hurt dog sound as he dies.
Her mind catches up at about this moment, and begins to reject it all. The room spins. Her stomach fills with something hot and bitter that wants to get out.
"No," she says, swaying, swallowing. "No fucking way."
Her voice sounds weird, like listening to yourself on a recording, or even - a weirder thought comes from the left somewhere - like you've been used to listening to your voice on tape and then heard yourself actually speak for the first time.
There's never been a more appropriate time for wake and bake. She looks for weed and both, sees and remembers that there's no weed, at the same time. There is, however, a pack of smokes on the side table, so she fishes out a cig and lights it, standing up between the beds. She wants to lie down, but is afraid to.
The cigarette smoke helps, but also hits her hollow stomach and her already shot equilibrium.
The train is coming. She sees its headlights through the cloud of smoke. Pretty soon, the headlights see her, too, and the train starts to scream.
She realizes that she's about fall. She needs to sit down, just not there.
She draws the blinds. The sunlight blinds. She finds the balcony door handle by touch, flicks the lever and pulls it to the side. The wind and the noise of the waves hit her in the face, and she likes it. Her vision fades in. She can see the water across the strip of a reedy beach and she likes that, too.
"No," she says. "No fucking way."
There's a white plastic chair on the left. She sits down and takes a deep drag, studying, steadying her hands. They shake, but they are her hands.
The waves roar like a tornado.
October 7th, she recalls. That's when they meet. That's when she gets shot in the Blackwell bathroom, and Max comes back from Seattle to save her. By fucking rewinding time. Then on Friday, the 11th, a giant tornado kills everyone.
She remembers this clearly. Remembers living - and dying - through five October days.
Except it never happened.
Not only because she's not - and never will be - Max fucking Caufield, but also because it's May. May… What date is it?
She chokes the life out of the cigarette and heads back in, looking around for her phone. The search takes her to the bathroom, which is also reasonably clean.
How drunk was I last night? I should use my mom's phone to call mine. She finds her mother's phone in her step-douche-infested bedroom and dials the number. Her phone is on the floor next to the toilet.
There's no phone there, just a gray plastic garbage can with a plastic liner inside, empty except for the torn soap wrapper left from the previous guest, but she keeps looking, to concentrate on something, to get away from the memories, which explode in her brain like movie flashbacks.
Not that she can.
She finds it finally, on the floor under the bed. It's May 9th, which mean she's been out for… 3 days? She remembers now. She drove away on the 6th. The "anniversary." Happy joy rainbow fucking unicorns. Drove south until she found this spot. As good a spot as she was going to find. Escape from Arcadia, the Epilogue.
Pills, booze, and the gun for good measure. Kurt would be proud.
Only here she was, three days later, alive somehow. Awake. Remembering. Out of her mind.
"She let me live," she says to the room. "The idiot hippy killed five thousand people to let me live."
Max, soaked in rain and tears, bleeding from the nose. Max, tearing the photo in two and giving it to the wind.
She hesitates for about a second and a half before tossing the gun into the duffel bag. The orange pill bottle watches her from the dresser. Judges her. There's no label on the bottle, of course. The empty bottle of Jack, meanwhile, is cool. Gives no fucks.
What the fuck did Frank sell me?
Chloe stabs Frank. Frank's got a scar on his neck, then he doesn't.
"You don't know shit, Chloe!"
Frank and Rachel.
"No," she says. "No fucking way."
Doors, boots on wooden stairs, the engine that was never supposed to start again, rasping and hawking and choking and complaining, then somehow managing to start after all. Tires squealing. All of these sounds seem to her to happen at the same time, in between time, maybe, while the world is a drum, rising out of the fog about 10 feet in front of her and dropping down into the cloud of dust and smoke directly behind the bed of her truck.
North. She drives north.