May 11, 2021 10:10 AM
slayer karen confesses killing vampires to priest!macalaure
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"So if you're paranoid enough you can be less scared, because you've thought about it all before?"

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"Yeah. I have a brother who, when we caught him up to speed, said 'well it's good that none of you have scary nightmares'. That's the thing to aspire to. - not the way he got it, but."

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"Makes sense. So, Michael's?"

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They go to Macalaurë's. He flops on a beanbag on the floor. "All right. If we were watching the week as a TV show, what's the first moment you would have said 'that's dumb, they're acting out of character'?"

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"...first thing we should have noticed was off and didn't was the talent show, you can't just make up an event and say it's happening in two days, not at a high school. And it didn't make any sense for Snyder to assign an impossible thing thirty minutes before, even for Snyder. Unless you mean us specifically. I think for me that was not calling Azalea? Or, uh, possibly going along with the impossible talent show thing."

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"I was thinking of the talent show too. If we'd noticed that there was something reality-warping up then, we could have gotten to Billy before things got bad, so that's our first mistake. One solution - kind of tedious, but it'd work - is to write down every day all of the important features of that day, compare to the previous day's, think about whether there's anything on there which is objectively really weird. It wasn't impossible to notice things were weird, it was just harder."

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"Yeah. I guess I could add that to my logging-stuff procedures. It'd take time, but if I'm keeping logs anyway, I guess."

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"Oh, are you keeping logs anyway?"

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"Only formally keeping track of the weird stuff. Frogs and Laura made it in, talent show itself didn't."

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"I think it's worth expanding to catch ways we might be failing to perceive the weirdness of stuff. One thing I tried looking into before it became clear what we were dealing with was magic that alters reality including everyone's recollections of the past. It's usually not impossible to catch, but we won't catch it listing only the things that stand out as weird stuff. If, for example, a magic spell was used to add a student to your classes and make you think they'd always been there, what kind of logging would you need to catch that?"

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"You'd need to record everyone who was in all of your classes at the beginning of the year. And refer back to it frequently enough to notice discrepancies. Only works if the magic doesn't alter your notes, though."

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"Sometimes it alters your notes. People do notice, though - stuff like 'this class has more kids in it than the legal maximum' and 'I had that conversation while I was sitting out of gym because we had uneven numbers for volleyball, but we've always had even numbers' and 'wait, why I am sharing a locker? no one shares a locker' and 'the spot where we always hang out feels weirdly crowded...or feels weirdly empty..."

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"Even if it does alter notes, you're more likely to notice stuff if you've had to write it down. I am, anyway. So I guess just - write more? Any specific things to focus on?"

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"There're some books here on reality-altering magic, I think that's probably a good place to start for finding things to look for. But - things that are really unreasonable when you think about it, rooms that seem set up for many more people than are there - if you lived in a six-bedroom house I'd be worried there were some people missing from your memories, that kind of thing - things you remember specifically enough that magic can't insert an additional person into them, people who are extremely unusual or that other people react to in an extremely unusual way..."

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She nods and scribbles stuff in her notebook.

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"So, first mistake, we weren't paying enough attention to weird things. Second mistake, related to that, we didn't notice that we didn't have external support. We asked for help figuring stuff out, heard that they hadn't found anything...turns out they never heard from us at all. Do you have thoughts on how we could have caught that?"

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"Uh... There's no reason to think that email or telepathy or phones or anything else is less likely to be tampered with than other things, as far as I can see. People couldn't have physically shipped us anything in the time between the first bits of weirdness and the total unraveling, either. We could just have more people outside of Sunnydale who we're in regular contact with? I didn't talk to anyone off the hellmouth the whole time, I don't think. If we had more then we'd at least have more data to work with, more chances to notice if we've been cut off?"

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"I think that's a good idea. Also more people to describe things to, more ways to notice if things are weird. Most reality-altering effects are pretty local. Do you have people you could be in regular touch with who are outside Sunnydale?"

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She bites her lip and thinks about exactly how likely her grandparents are to freak out about every possible aspect of her life if she shares it with them.

"Nnnno. Not right now."

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"All right. Well, I think there are plans to invite you to a summer camp in Virginia, if you wanna do that I guess you can meet friends there."

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"That sounds hard. ...I mean I can do it, if it's important, but it sounds hard."

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"I'm not asking you to go. Lotsa stuff is important, if you want to stay here you stay here."

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"OK. ...I'm not saying no, I'm just saying that my immediate reaction to having to make friends under time pressure at mysterious summer camps in Virginia that mysterious people are planning to send me to is, uh, thinking that that sounds kind of terrifying? So. Yeah."

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"I don't know how to give you good advice here because it's never ever in my life been a good idea to do something I didn't want to do but I don't think that's how it works for most people."

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"Oh, man, I don't wanna do anything a lot of the time. ...I think we should come back to the summer camp thing later."

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