Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Mental Illness can be downright disturbing

It should come as no surprise to anyone reading that I am mentally ill.  Depression, and ADHD I've been diagnosed with.  Asperger's I'd argue isn't actually a mental illness but simply me occupying a different spot on a spectrum, a spectrum on which all human beings can be classed, than most people.  Others occupying a similar position argue that it is a mental illness and long for a cure.  There are some other things that might exist as well but in small enough amounts not to merit a diagnosis (then again that was the case with ADHD until the depression got out of its way.)

So I'm sort of "Mentally Ill Person Ahoy!"

And yet, at the same time, I can be just as freaked out by other mentally ill people as anyone else.

For example, today in one of my classes, while we were discussing sophists and rhetoric and a speech by a sophist in defense of Helen of Troy made just because he felt like making such a speech, the person next to me stood up and said that she had had enough and was leaving, she believed that it was clear that the teacher was making less than complementary references to her as a sort of undertow to her discussion   A hidden meaning just below the surface, at first she was adamant on this point and began to pack up her stuff, the teacher repeated several times that she (the teacher) had been doing no such thing.

The student asked for reassurance multiple times, something like, "You're really not?" repeatedly.  To which the teacher repeatedly said, "I'm not."

Then the student, having been calmed, sat down.  Let me remind you, right next to me.

And I was disturbed for the rest of the class.  After she left at the end of the class, still disturbed.  A feeling somewhere in my gut of deep unease in a place that I used to call my stomach until I learned that that's not actually where one's stomach is.  I don't think it went away until I was out of the building.

Was there any reason to believe that she was dangerous?  No.  In fact by demonstrating that she was (probably) mentally ill she placed herself in a category that I've always been told is less likely to do violence than the population at large.

I was none the less very disturbed.

As were other members of the class.

In fact I worry that if she thought she was being singled out beforehand people's reactions to her afterward might have confirmed that in her mind, because (however irrational such feelings may be) she was suddenly the scary person in the room.

I would have been more comfortable if she hadn't been talked down and had stormed off believing that the teacher was sending secret, and insulting, messages her way.  I wasn't the only one.  Is this uncharitable on my part?  Absolutely.  Were I a Christian there are any number of Bible verses you could slam me with to prove that I'm a horrible person for feeling that way.  I'd hazard a guess that other religions have similar prohibitions against putting your comfort over another person's well being in your manner of viewing the world.

It was clear that she was in a world the rest of us didn't occupy hearing things, or at least interpreting things, the rest of us couldn't, and that break from what I'm going to hope was reality was downright disturbing.

And it is interactions such as these that perhaps color people's beliefs about mental illness.  Not the statistics, not the reality of the situation, not the fact that she is presumably a normal person most of the time and this break from reality could likely have been prevented with appropriate care just as a hairline fracture can be prevented from becoming a much worse break in the bone if it's recognized and treated while still a hairline fracture.  Not the reality, but the feeling in ones gut.  The discomfort, the unease, the deep-felt belief that something very, very wrong just happened.

And that's assuming that people have any encounters with mental illness that they recognize as mental illness in the first place.  Otherwise they're just bombarded with the news people saying that every heinous act or belief is "crazy" or "insane".

But as human beings I think we need to be able to rise above gut reactions or abuses of language.  The girl sitting next to me in class disturbed me greatly, but that is no reason that I shouldn't wish her well and speak out in favor of her and all like her getting help.  That is no reason I shouldn't vote in her best interest whenever it is in my power to do so.

Even though I hear terms for mental illness used in the news to describe everything from the ill advised to the downright evil that doesn't mean that I should ever take my eyes off the fact that the news stories in which these terms are used are almost (but not quite) always about this misdeeds of sane people.  And, it must be added, doesn't mean that I shouldn't flat out reject any proposed solution that ignores the actual problem (sane people do bad things) and instead tries to shift the focus onto mental illness.

When someone has a break from reality, as the person next to me did today, it is downright disturbing and can result in an unpleasant visceral reaction.  But that doesn't change the fact that the only real problem is that she's not getting the medical care she needs to not misinterpret ordinary classroom talk as coded attacks.  It also doesn't change the fact that, if left untreated, she would almost certainly be able to make a better contribution to society than I would if left untreated.

My mental illnesses generally don't draw attention to themselves or me.  Without treatment I become the invisible person, the one you're vaguely aware is there but don't remember much about.  And that's assuming I'm able to show up in the first place.  I don't really know the girl I was sitting next to, I pay attention to class in class and don't tend to make much small talk before or after so my classmates remain largely unknown to me, but my best guess is that even with the occasional bout of paranoia she's still able to accomplish more than me when not treated.  I assume she's not treated now, but even if this semester has been her on good treatment, I still think that she'd do better than me in the absence of treatment for the both of us.

Similarly for the person who doesn't know anyone with a mental illness... well first off they're almost certainly wrong.  They probably know multiple people with mental illnesses, they're just unaware that those people have them.  But second, it's important for them to not let themselves be confused about where the problem lies when the sensationalist non-fact-checking thing that the news has become reports anything as crazy or insane or any other synonym for mental illness.  It's important to remember that the vast majority of the time the problem is sane people misbehaving and react accordingly whenever someone suggests that the solution to the problem of sane people misbehaving is to restrict the freedoms or invade the privacy of the mentally ill.

Monday, February 25, 2013

How I would do aid for necessities

Before we get to that, taxes (in the United States of America, I rarely comment on the politics of countries not my own.)  If you take away exemptions and loopholes and tax havens and credits and the downright screwy way we treat capital gains one fact becomes apparent about income tax: Everybody pays the same.

When all of the exploits and such are taken away and you're just left with, "This is the income tax upon which all of that other stuff is based," the fact of the matter is that everyone, from someone who earns no money to whoever earned the most (excluding capital gains because it's taxed a different way) everyone pays the same rate.

The differences come in because X% of 0 is 0.  Doesn't really matter how big X is so long as it's finite.  (if X is infinity then break out the calculus.)  If someone earns zero dollars in the top bracket then that zero dollars is taxed at the same rate as someone who did earn money.  It's just regardless of the rate the person who earns zero dollars in that range won't have to pay anything at that rate X% of zero is always zero.

Thus, at it's most basic, before we get into all the junk thrown on top, how you're taxed never changes regardless of how much or little you make.  This kind of thing has a lot going for it.  For one thing it means you don't ever run into a situation where earning more money results in you keeping less.  For another thing it means that you can instantly shut down any argument on, "How come they only pay [whatever] in income taxes," by pointing out that the person asking the question payed the exact same amount on that level of their income.  The envy that the rich have for the poor with respect to taxes becomes absurd once one realizes that they actually pay the same rate.  (Except for capital gains, and loopholes, and tax havens, and various other ways the rich are able to pay less than the poor in taxes.)

I bring this up because were it up to me basic aid (as in on necessities, not disaster relief and such) would be treated the exact same way.  Everyone gets the same.

Everyone gets food-stamps (now they come on cards) enough to afford to keep fed.  Everyone gets housing aid enough to give them adequate shelter (this includes heating), everyone gets access to medical care (probably via everyone getting on something like Medicare or Medicade.)  Everyone gets access to education, so, so forth.

One thing that this does is it eliminates layers upon layers of bureaucracy that are currently used to determine who is bad of enough to get help.  Everyone gets the same so there's no need to check to see if you're worthy.  You just have the food aid added to your food card every month, the other aid added to the other cards, and get a, "I've got health insurance through the government" card and so forth.

It also eliminates all of the work (paperwork, hoops to jump through, so on) that people need to do to get aid.

But another thing that it does is it puts a serious dent in the argument from envy.  Yes, the "undeserving poor" (a category that doesn't exist except in the minds of certain people) might be getting this stuff for free without having to work for it, but so too are you.

And it eliminates a problem that people who are on the edges face, which is that there are places where making a little bit more money will mean you no longer qualify for aid, which will end up leaving you worse off.  So it's in your best interest to not make more money.  Now I've never met someone who decided not to make more money on those grounds, but I have met someone who was seriously screwed over because he made two dollars too much (two fracking dollars) to be considered poor enough to get aid, which ended up leaving him poorer than if he just hadn't worked that year and thus qualified for aid.  If the aid never goes away then you never have that problem.

If we give everyone enough to be able to live with the basic necessities then we simplify the process of figuring out who to give to (everyone gets it), we eliminate the thresholds where incentives become perverse (if you make more you'll be off aid and thus worse off), we at the very least dent the argument from envy, we make it easier for people who need help to get it (because it comes to them automatically rather than depending on them doing thing after thing after thing to fight for it), and we loose very little.

The problem is, of course, that it costs more.  Consider food stamps alone, you'd have more than six times as many people on them.  Now some of the cost of that increase can be taken away by removing all of the work to determine who needs them, but I very much doubt it would be enough to take away all of that extra cost.  For fully funding it I think new revenue would be needed, which works fine for me because I think our tax code could use some serious reworking.  We need more tax brackets and the top marginal tax rate needs to be a lot higher.  Also taxing capital gains at a lower rate than the money people actually had to work for is absurd.

So the plan would involve higher taxes for some, but it would also mean that no one would ever have to fear being without the basic necessities because everyone, even the ones paying the higher taxes, would be given enough to take care of those by the government.  Whether or not someone like Bill Gates would use his foodstamps, were he given them, is an interesting question.  But the point is that by giving them to everyone you make sure that everyone who needs them gets them (something our current system doesn't accomplish)  and you make sure that there's never a perverse incentive to make less money in order to stay on aid.

The same with giving everyone medical insurance, or everyone money to be spent on housing.  The same with all necessities.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

I do, in fact, still exist.

So all of the recent comments have been spam.  Don't go looking for them, what the spamfilter didn't catch I manually threw in the spamtrap.

The reason is kind of obvious, I have not been posting lately.  This is my vacation week, supposed to be spent catching up on classes where I was behind, preparing for a test in ASL on Monday, populating the blog with posts that I've been meaning to do, working on some other projects, and stuff.

Did any of that get done?  No.

Unless "And stuff" includes "Hang out with Lonespark and family," in which case that went great.  But it was one day out of ten so far (will be 11 in total, not all of them are technically vacation days, but it matters little to me if I don't have school because I don't have classes on that day of the week or if I don't have school because of vacation.)

But more notable, blogwise at least, than Lonespark and family is the total lack of progress in all conceivable areas on the days that I wasn't with Lonespark.  If I don't post I don't get comments and the spam takes over.  Which is why Dennis Markuze (an old fashioned spammer who does his work manually instead of with spambots) is the most recent human being to post a comment, and the only human being to say anything on the blog since we stopped talking about The Core (link to the movie, not discussion) on the first Vanishing on 7th Street thread (link to beginning of discussion of The Core in that thread).

Clearly I need some content, but I also need to catch up in school, and I also need to get out of school offline projects done, or at least started.  I need to study.  I need to do so many things.

Also I need to make money if I want to try to get to Greece which I really want to try and I don't think it's out of reach because it's a one time thing.

Think of it like a bottle drive, you can make a lot of money in one day, but if you think, "I could do this every day and make a living of it," then you're overlooking a critical factor: You already took the people's bottles.  There aren't any left to take the next day.

So there are things that could no way support me in making a living that none the less might be able to get me enough money to go to Greece because it doesn't matter if in the process of making the money I destroy any chance of making money the same way in the near or distant future since I only need the money once.

Time spent attempting such things is time spent not making content for the blog.  (Though as a reminder, if anyone reading this should be rich -unlikely in the extreme, I know- there is a donate button.)

So the question I'm left with is what to do.  Next week things probably go back to normal except I'm further behind in school and ... um ... poetry:

    Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
    Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
    The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
    The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
    The best lack all conviction, while the worst
    Are full of passionate intensity.

    Surely some revelation is at hand;
    Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
    The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
    When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi
    Troubles my sight: a waste of desert sand;
    A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
    A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
    Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
    Wind shadows of the indignant desert birds.

    The darkness drops again but now I know
    That twenty centuries of stony sleep
    Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
    And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
    Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?

-

No, my school problems will probably not lead to the rise of the Antichrist, but "things fall apart" is probably a good description of any given period in my life.

But, yeah, still here.  Even if it's been a week since I posted anything.

Talk amoungst yourselves.  I'd give you a topic but I don't have one.  ("Rhode Island is neither a road nor an island," perhaps?)

Actually, on the subject or Rhode Island, this is Sarah Vowell talking about one of its founders:


I like this clip and tend to play it whenever the opportunity arises.

I don't like her voice, extended exposure can actually be painful for me, and yet I believe I could listen to her speak all day with no complaints.  What she has to say is enough worth listening to that any discomfort her voice causes me is negligible in comparison.

She's on the Daily Show there to advertise for her book, "The Wordy Shipmates," which is available in hardcover, paperback, kindle, audio book on CD, and audible audiobook.   If I knew what I were talking about I'd probably know what an audible audiobook is.  Apparently I can't link directly to it but if you follow any of the other links it should be a click away.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Where Antichrists Come From (Part 1)

When I started this blog Slacktivist had already moved to its present home at Patheos and that made all the stories I'd written there relatively easy to locate and move here because I just had to look through my own disqus log.  It wasn't perfect, because disqus never is, but it was straightforward.  What was more difficult, and what I've always intended to get around to someday, is the stuff I wrote before the move.  This an example of one such thing.  It turned out to be easier to locate by finding a back up of an old computer that had a saved copy than it was to locate on the internet (where I still have yet to find it.)  Anyway, I've mentioned Where Antichrists Come From before, this is how it got started, in late 2009:

-


Where Antichrists Come From
It started four days ago.  He'd been at lunch with Mike, a mistake he never wanted to repeat, and the asshole wouldn't stop talking about how the disappearances had to be this or that or anything but the Rapture.  He'd try to be polite, but after Mike's umpteenth denial he lost his cool and shouted, "I know a Rapture when I see one!" and launched into a tirade.
In the back of his mind a voice tried to reign him in.  It said things like, "Not so loud," "Maybe 'every child young enough to brainwash' isn't the best way to describe the missing children," and, "Shut up!  You're making a scene."  He ignored it.  Like every other human being he needed to vent, so he vented.
By the time he ran out of steam a small crowd had formed.  He braced himself for being yelled at, slapped, or thrown out the window while hoping he'd simply be told he was an asshole.
None of that happened.
Instead one of the people, an older woman with badly dyed hair, asked him what would happen next.  He answered to the best of his ability.  Then came a second question, and a third.
The next day he went to the same place for lunch, this time without the ass, and found that the people from the day before were waiting for him.  With friends.  They had questions, some he was able to answer, others not so much.  He promised to look into it and get back to them.  He never actually got around to eating lunch.
So he did some research, and on the third day he came back to an even larger crowd of people.  This time there was a local news crew.  He went on for hours, telling everything he had learned about premillennial dispensationalism and wondering if all of the people listening to him were unemployed too.  At least the tv-crew had jobs.  As the hours passed, as he told these people a truth that had been hidden from them, he felt ... right.  As if for the first time in his life he was in his element.
So he said he'd come back again.  Only not on a sidewalk.  Yesterday it was in a local park, the tv-camera was back, along what appeared to be everyone who watched their report.  Apparently the tv-crew worked for a CNN affiliate, because when he watched a segment about various theories for the disappearances, with the cringe worthy name "Whose Responsible This?" he saw himself.  They didn't actually say so, but he got the impression they'd be sending a CNN crew for the next meeting.
That meant that today he'd have a national audience.  Millions of people would hear what he had say.  He could tell the country whatever he wanted.  If only he had something worth saying.  He'd spent the night pouring over books he'd looted from a Christian book store whose owners and employees had all sold their souls to the greatest kidnapper of all time in exchange for get out of Hell free cards.  He found more detail than he wanted about the horrors to come, but he didn't find what he was looking for.
He considered laying his head on the table and staying there, forever.  He didn't have to go to the park, he didn't have to face the world.  He didn't have to eat or drink either.  If he were to just lie down and and ignore the world how long would it take the world to go away?  Three, maybe four, days was what he'd always heard, but that was in the desert.
It didn't matter anyway, when the world went away Hell would replace it.  He went out to face the world.
-
If it weren't for the people things would have seemed normal.  There hadn't been any major damage in the area so the buildings, the cars, the walk signals and traffic lights were just like they were before the Rapture.  The people, on the other hand, were completely different.  Some had let themselves go, but everyone was walking differently, and their eyes were all different.  The most upbeat were the ones who looked like their dogs had just died.  Most people looked quite a bit more broken.
Faced with that he considered returning to the lay down and die plan.  He didn't actually have a plan as it was.  In a few hours he'd go to the park and say more or less what he had been saying: God is an ass, the worst is yet to come.  Most of the emphasis on the first point.  Until then he didn't know what to do.
For a time he wandered aimlessly, then he saw something impossible.  A child.  He guessed she was older than seven and younger than ten.  A quick look around revealed that no one else seemed to notice her.  He walked towards her, she smiled at him, then ran.  He chased.  It was somewhat disturbing that he wasn't able to catch up to a little girl, but he'd known he needed more exercise for a while.  It just added insult when the girl had to wait for him to catch his breath before continuing to lead him through town.
The entire time no one noticed either of them.  He filed that away as an additional oddity in the situation.  In the end the girl led him to an elementary school gymnasium, and completely disappeared.  There was no way she could have gotten out, or out of sight, in the time between when she entered and when he entered.
While there was no little girl, there was an adult woman standing near the middle of the gym.  She had short dark brown hair, her eyes were brown, her face was attractive, if unremarkable, and the rest of her was hidden by baggy clothes.  The clothing seemed familiar, but he couldn't place it.  Black long sleeved top, dark gray skirt, and a black scarf with white spots.
She said, "I'm glad you came.  As you might have guessed, I am not human."  He hadn't actually guessed that, but it made sense.  Nonhuman magical shapeshifer somehow seemed more plausible than girl child no one else saw who disappeared and left an adult in her place.  "Have a seat."  She gestured to a chair that he was fairly sure hadn't existed a moment ago.
He sat in the chair and thought about the implications of shapeshifting.  "If I were gay, would you be male?"
She made another chair appear and sat in it.  "This this form was chosen to be pleasing to your eyes."  He wasn't sure how to interpret this.  A supernatural being for sure, her accent was local, the sentence structure definitely indicated that she was from away, and she was creating something from nothing for a purpose as mundane as having a place to sit.  He had no idea where that placed her on a scale from benevolent to brain eating.  "I'll get right to the point.  I have a job offer for you.  How would you like to rule the world?"
It took him three times to form the word, "What?"
"Name your own salary, choose your own hours, full health coverage, if you die I'll resurrect you, and, as I said, you get to rule the world."
"You're Lucifer?"
"If you say it with a hard c then yes.  This is very simple.  Someone has to be the Antichrist.  You're my first choice."
"Why would I want the job?  I've read the prophecies, the world gets pummeled.  I'd be looking at seven years of death and destruction."
"What you're looking at is a chance to do something about it.  The seven years of Hell on earth will happen no matter what.  God has a checklist of disasters he's going to go through, whether you take the job or not.  What I'm offering is a chance to make a difference.  You can make sure that people prepare for what can be prepared for, you can direct aid to those harmed by the unavoidable.  I am offering you the best opportunity anyone will ever have to reduce the suffering.
"If you don't take the job someone else will.  You're the single best person for job on earth.  The next three are women and the Antichrist has to be male, so if you refuse the world gets stuck with number five, at the best.  Even assuming he takes the job, do you think the world will be a better place with number one in charge, or number five?
"Could you really live with yourself knowing that you could have been making a difference but you chose not to?"
He thought over what she had said, on the one hand she was the devil.  On the other hand, she was right.  Preaching to people in a park couldn't possibly have the same positive impact as directing recovery efforts.  Also, he reminded himself, the enemy of his enemy was at the very least a useful ally in the short term.  Then, on what must be a third or fourth hand by now, there was a different question.  Could he live with himself if he took the job and someone else would have done it better?  "Why me?"
"Do you know why so many people come to listen to you?  Do you know why you're a hit on YouTube?  Do you know why of every person, on every street corner, park, and pulpit who claims to have an answer your sermon is the only one CNN plans to broadcast live?"
He didn't have the answer to any of those questions, he didn't know he was on YouTube.  "It's going to be live?"
"Yes.  In answer to my questions, there are two reasons.  The first is that you're giving people what they need to hear.  They don't need to hear about aliens, or that the government is looking into electromagnetic-strong force quantum bullshit.  They don't need to be told that it is demonic trick to fool true believers into thinking PMDers are right.  They need to be told what really happened, who is responsible, and most of all they need to be told that they didn't deserve this.  That they are right to be distraught, they are right to be angry, they are right to be pissed off at the one who kidnapped their children and shattered their world.
"They need to be told that, though this was God's doing, it was not good.  They need to know that no one deserves what just happened and those who say they are worthless sinners who deserve what has happened, what is yet to come, and Hell after that are completely wrong in all possible ways."
He thought about what she said and he had trouble believing she could miss something so obvious.  "I can't rule the world for seven years by playing off of fear, depression and anger.  I can't give them what they need because what they need is hope.  I don't have that, I wish I did."
She moved closer to him, this time sitting in her chair backwards, and leaned towards him until their eyes were about six inches apart.  "Have you considered lying?"
He recoiled and said, "No."
She leaned back and smiled.  "That's why your perfect.  I believe you.  I believe that you have never even considered lying.  That kind of sincerity matters.  You're not the best speaker in the world.  Off the top of my head I can name about six million people who are tenfold better speakers than you in this country alone.  But none of them can do what you can do."
She stood up and started pacing. "You see, people have bullshit detectors.  Not truth detectors; bullshit detectors.  When someone says something they don't believe on some level you know.  You may agree with everything they say, you may consciously think they're sincere, but somewhere inside of you a voice is screaming not to trust them so you'll never commit to their cause the way you otherwise would.
"True believers have the opposite effect.  When they speak people stop and take notice.  They can say truly insane things and be convincing simply because they speak with absolute certainty.  That's where cults come from.  The combination of passion and total sincerity is the single strongest force for persuasion humanity has ever encountered.  A true believer with the actual truth on his side can change with world.
"If you speak, they will follow."
He considered this, and then shook his head.  "No.  Not without giving them something to hope for.  The, 'We're all screwed and when we die we go to Hell,' cult isn't going to last long."
She sat back down, "Then let me share my hope with you.
"When I first rebelled against God I thought the rest of the Host would join me.  God would see our resolve and surrender.  That didn't happen.  We were outnumbered two to one."  She paused for a moment.  She seemed, to him, to be looking at something beyond him.  When the moment ended her eyes snapped back to looking at him and she continued, "We never stood a chance.  Then we were thrown into Hell.
"For a time I was without hope, I didn't see how we could win.  I lashed out at God, but I didn't have a plan because I didn't think a plan was possible.  But the more time passed, the more I focused on humanity.  I admit I had a low opinion of you at first.  The idea that God would prefer a bunch of furless monkeys over angels stung.  You don't even have wings.
"Still, the more I thought the more I realized your potential.  You are not like the other animals.  You are cast in the image of God.  God threw humanity out of the garden because He feared that they would become too much like Him if they ate a second fruit.  Two humans were two bites of fruit away from scaring God.  The more I thought about that, the more I became convinced that humanity is the key to victory."
"Do you have the two fruits?"
"No.  What I have is a little blue green planet with billions of people who are each just two fruits away from putting the fear of man into God.  What you have is the ability to bring them together for a common cause.  Put those two things together and I believe we can win."
"What if you're wrong?"
"Then we spend eternity burning in Hell."
-
He would have liked to think that he'd never seen so many people, but that wasn't really true.  Even if he restricted himself to groups outdoors it was probably tied with a free Arlo Guthrie concert he'd attended a few years earlier.  Still, it was gratifying to know that he drew an Arlo sized crowd.  And there were the TV cameras.  He saw at least half a dozen, that was a good sign.
He said, "I'm glad you all came," and there was silence.  Every conversation in the park stopped at the sound of his voice.  He hadn't shouted, and he had no technology to amplify his voice, yet everyone heard him clearly.  To him this miracle was as impressive as calling down fire from the sky, and a good deal more useful.  "Today I want to say something different.  Over the past few days I've been talking about what happened, who did it, and what is yet to come.  You could have found those things out yourself if you'd stumbled across the right books.
"Today I want to tell you something you won't find in those books.  Today I'm going to tell you why it happened, and what I think we can do about it.
"If you were to ask His followers, they would tell you that what is to come is for our own good.  God just beats us because He loves us.  They'll explain that the tortures inflicted upon us are to save us from worse tortures in the afterlife.  He took his followers because they've already been saved, so they wouldn't benefit the way we could.  He kidnapped the children to save them from the beating we're about to suffer.
"They say the kidnapping is proof He's compassionate.  In fact, they say, everything He does He does out of love.  He just wants us to convert so we can be saved.
"There are a number of things about this that make no sense.  The one I want to focus on is, why seven years?
"His supporters will tell you that he's waiting to return to give us time to repent.  But if we ask, 'Does that ring true?' the only answer is, 'No.'  Since when does He care about giving people time?  What time did He give to those who made the mistake of trusting one of His followers?  Their planes fell from the sky, their cars crashed, their trains derailed.  As a result some cities are burning still.
"Does anyone believe that an all powerful being couldn't have waited to Rapture a pilot until the plane landed?"
The crowd shouted, "No!"
He was taken aback for a moment.  He had expected a response, but getting that many people to shout in near unison was unlike anything he'd done before.  It felt good.  "Does anyone believe that an all powerful God was incapable of waiting to Rapture drivers until they had parked their cars?"
The crowd shouted, "No!"
"Does anyone seriously believe that an all seeing, all knowing, all loving God would Rapture an engineers while their trains were in motion?"
The crowd shouted, "No!"
"It's the first rule of rock climbing: you don't Rapture a belayer until the climber says, 'Belay Off.'
"But He didn't wait.  He was more concerned about taking everyone at once than He was with giving people time.  Besides, what time did He give to those who died the day before the Rapture?  What signs did they see?  What chance were they given?  He doesn't care about giving us time.  That isn't the reason for the seven year delay.
"His supporters disagree, of course.  They say that the carnage was necessary to shock us.  To that I say, 'Bullshit.'  He could have shocked us by turning the sky green.  Of course that wouldn't have convinced us it was God's doing.  But He's God.  He could have sent a thousand angels to travel the world turning water into wine.  Actually, the miracles would be unnecessary.  They could have simply flown around on fluffy wings landing every so often to say, 'By the way, Jesus is the Lord.'
"It would have worked.  In fact it is easy to think of any number of better ways to go about knocking people out of their complacency and converting them.  If God had descended on His magic carpet, healed the sick and cured the hungry I would have converted without hesitation.  He didn't do that.  He caused worldwide devastation instead.
"He is not that interested in converts, He's not interested in giving us time, and He certainly isn't compassionate.
"So the question remains; why wait seven years?  Why not hold the final judgment right here right now?  If He is all powerful why does He need to hide from us?  Why stay out of range and launch artillery at us for seven years?
"The answer is that He plans to spend the next seven years pummeling us with disaster after disaster so that when He finally does face us in battle our wills will be broken.  Then we'll be easily pushed aside and sent to Hell.
"His followers say His victory is inevitable.  They say that we should side with the torturer so that we might avoid torture.  They tell grieving parents that if they just suck up to the kidnapper He might let them see their children someday.  All you have to do is accept that you deserved every bad thing that's ever happened to you, and that you deserve to burn in Hell for eternity, and then ask for a get out of jail free card.  Do that and paradise can be yours.  They'll tell you that fighting is useless, God's victory is assured.
"But that makes no sense.  You don't waste years softening up the opposition if you're sure you'll win.  This is happening because if He faced us now He might not win.  If our wills aren't broken we have a chance to put an end to Hell and rescue the kidnapped children.
"He may have created us, but He fears an unbroken humanity.  He said it Himself, if we have the smallest bit of faith we could move mountains.  If we just believe we can do anything.  We are humanity.  If we believe it will rain," the first drops began to fall, "it will rain."  He'd considered various options for signs or wonders, most of them more flashy than raindrops, but as the rain picked up and he looked out on the faces in the crowd  he was sure he'd made the right decision.  There was just something about a sudden downpour that felt right.  "If we believe that it will stop," the rain stopped and sunlight began to show through the clouds, "it will stop.  If we believe we win then we can win.
"Some of you might wonder what you can place your faith in.  God has betrayed you and science can't explain what has happened.  It may seem like there is nothing to believe in.  That's wrong.  We have something to believe in right in front of us, so close to us you might not see it.
"When the disappearances happened some people closed themselves up, they saw the destruction around them and closed their hearts to it.  They walked by people in need without so much as a second glance.  That might make one doubt the worth of humanity, it might make you stop and think, 'Maybe we did deserve this,' if not for the fact that even more people didn't.  People dropped whatever they were doing to help people they had never met.  They ran to help without knowing what had happened or who it was that needed help.  When it would have been so much easier to avert their gaze and walk on by they threw themselves in and did whatever was needed.
"We were lucky here.  The Rapture hit in the middle of the night, there was hardly a car on the road and not a single plane fell on us.  What damage there was was easy to repair.  We had very little rubble to dig through.
"In some parts of the world they're digging still.  Though their hands have been worn raw and their fingers bleed they keep digging.  They won't stop until every survivor has been rescued.  As long is there is a chance even one person remains trapped they go on.  In them I place my faith.
"I don't believe in a just and loving God.  I believe in parents who would risk Hellfire for a chance, however slim, to rescue their children from the one who kidnapped them.  I believe in anyone who refuses to accept that their friends and loved ones deserve Hellfire knowing that that refusal may Damn them to the same fate.
"I believe in those who would rather do the right thing than save their own souls.  I believe in humanity.
"I wish I could offer you certainty, I wish I could say that if you just hold on we will win.  But I can't do that, all I can offer you is a chance.  A chance to get the children back.  A chance to save those we care about from the fires of Hell.  That chance is worth everything I have, even my soul.  This I believe.
"Seven years from now I know where I will be.  I'll be in the valley of Megiddo to meet God when He finally shows his face on earth.  If I have to face Him alone I'll do it.  I'll do it because trying to stop Him is the right thing to do.  Someone needs to stand up to Him and explain that right and wrong are things that transcend even God.  Someone needs to say that while we may have been formed in his image we've grown up since then.  We've learned about things like compassion and forgiveness.  It's time He did too.  If He can't then someone needs to try to stop Him.
"I have no illusions.  If I stand alone on that day I will lose, I will go to Hell, and there I will remain forever.  If there is going to be any chance of saving the children I need allies.  To have any hope of ending Hell I need humanity on my side.  I need people who will weather seven years of Hell on earth and still be willing to devote their souls to the cause of doing what is right instead of what is in their own best interest.
"I need you.  My name is Nick Andes, and I'm here to recruit you."  His speech over, he started looking around for people to heal.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

What I would have done with Vanishing on 7th Street.

First off, Vanishing on 7th Street is nothing original.  Look at the Amazon review and you'll find that I'm not the only one who saw what it draws heavily on, specifically this part of the description, "this ambitious melding of the Left Behind series, Pitch Black, and any number of Twilight Zone episodes..."

Ever since the Riddick said, "Just one rule, stay in the light," in Pitch Black there's been an unstated call for a movie where the enemy isn't creatures that fear the light, but the darkness itself.  (Also a less straightforward unstated call where the rule was, "Stay out of the light," which I suppose applies to some vampire movies.)  The movie attempts to answer that call, how well it does I leave as an exercise for the viewer.

I was not overly impressed.  I could see the elements of a good film there, but they weren't utilized very well.  Also the Roanoke Colony needs a day off every once in a while, especially for this movie which gets even the most basic facts of the disappearance wrong.  Put simply, if the characters in the film really were at the site of the second Roanoke they wouldn't need to be nearly so frantic and hurried as they were.

Roanoke was not a flash disappearance.  The colonists appeared to have taken the time to dismantle the colony before leaving, they did not carve the distress sign but instead the name of another island, another island that never really got much investigation (there was a storm and stuff) but what little it did get suggests that, yes, they probably moved there for a time at least.  They'd been there for a time before, had decent relations with the natives there, and were long overdue for resupply from England so they may have simply decided to look for local help instead.

None of this fits the movie at all.

Introducing Roanoke is just a kind of fucky move that screws up the entire cosmology the movie is trying to project.

I actually came to the movie late, I thought I was going to see just the end but misread times and ended up seeing most of it but I was fortunate enough to come in after what appears to be the major internal plot hole. (The complete lack of understanding of Roanoke is external as it is a failure to understand the real world, not a contradiction within the movie itself.)  So that, at least, was nice.

Anyway, other major influence: Left Behind.  Of course I recognized that, I have an index for stuff related to that here.

Rapture theology is young, as theologies go, (300 years or so) and hasn't worked out all the kinks yet.  For comparison, if this were Christianity as a whole Gnosticism would be a widespread and widely believed alternate option that the now-mainstream beliefs had to fight tooth and nail against for supremacy.  Arianism would be alive and well, and the First Council of Nicaea would be due a bit over a quarter century from now (I rounded up to 300 years above.)

Actually, since the dating system is from the supposed birth of Jesus (search anywhere on the internet for why 1 AD is probably not the first year of Jesus' life) make that a bit over a half century from now.

Rapture theology is at a pre-Nicene Creed level of development at this point in history.  So there are, as one might expect, some pretty major differences of opinion.  Even with all the time Christianity as a whole has had to get on the same page we have how many sects?

Anyway, without even a creed to unite them, Rapture theologians have all manner of beliefs and the one in Left Behind, the one using Tim LaHaye's theology, is what I call a "naked Rapture" because those Raptured away will be taken right out of their clothes.  The person disappears, the clothing collapses with nothing to left to support it anymore.  The person taken doesn't leave a vacuum in their place, but instead what appears to be an equal volume of air, thus allowing the clothing to fall gently rather than be disturbed by the pressure differences that a vacuum would create.

This idea is taken for Vanishing on 7th Street.  I think it might also be argued that, whether it was intentional or not, the idea that the coming in question would be "Like a thief in the night," was also taken, thus explaining why the darkness has to engulf the people for them to be taken.  A thief in the night shies away from light sources.  Likewise the day is apparently safe time.

So while I don't recommend the movie in general, if you would like to see a really creepy really inclusive portrayal of a LaHayvian Rapture, I do recommend the movie.  Go up to the top of the page, click the link, get the movie.

I'm actually not a big "creepy" fan myself and I think the movie was misrepresented to me.  This is not, it should be noted, the movie's fault.  It was the guide's fault.  The description in the guide was something like, "Darkness clears a Detroit neighborhood except for a few residents who fight back with light," or something like that.

It made it seem like the people cleared fled, and the people who stayed were of a "I will not be driven from my home" variety and they were actively fighting against the foothold the darkness had gained in the neighborhood.  Sort of like the Twilight Zone episode where the darkness was limited to certain localities.

But more than that it made it seem like they, I don't know, fight.

They don't.  There are two competing plans in the move:
1 Shelter in place
2 Run like hell

At no point is fighting the darkness even considered.  There's opportunity, it's visible when the darkeness tries to advance at the edges of the light, and forms, like shadows without people to cast them, can be seen in it, an attempt could be made to lure a part of the darkness forward through a dark corridor in an otherwise lit room, and then light something (stuff still burns) to cut it off from the greater darkness.  Then force it into a smaller and smaller area, cutting it further and further (also farther and farther but I'm more concerned with further here) from retreat, until finally it's finally extinguished with light.

That would be fighting the darkness.  Instead not a single Molotov cocktail is thrown (unless one was in the bit before I came in, but it looks like I really didn't miss that much.)  And these people are taking shelter inside a bar.

Someone, injured, is laid out on a pool table because it's a convenient flat surface.  Ok, makes perfect sense.  His life depends on the overhead lights powered by a dying generator.  Why?  Why not add to the lights with a back up plan of a fire made from a broken down pool cue.  If there's a pool table there's pool cues.  Why not have lightable objects everywhere, just in case.  Candles and lamps and whatever furniture can be broken down and lit?

Daytime is safe time to gather supplies.  They have, what appears to be, all of Detroit to work from.  They can't find anything to make fire with except for that one torch and medicinal alcohol gathered elsewhere?  They determine that only one truck within pushing distance has a battery with enough power for lights (but not enough to make the engine start) and thus only it can be moved at night.  But what about the gasoline in the tanks of all the other abandoned vehicles?  It burns.  Burning works.  The darkness can sap power from batteries, the exception being ones charged via solar power* but it can't stop things from burning.

That's why the generator in the bar works, the darkness can try to fuck with the electricity, but it can't get at the source, burning gasoline.  Combustion cannot be stopped by the darkness.

So it seems like combustibles, not batteries, should be what people are looking for.  Those other cars and trucks might not be useful as transport, but damned if they should be able to work as something that keeps the darkness at bay.  Siphon some gas out, light it.  Light source created.  Safe zone created.  Combustibility is your friend.

In their daylight hours they should be raiding candle stores, lumber stores, anything that fracking burns stores.  And as a last resort they should be setting buildings on fire.

But they don't.  Because the thing lied to me (again, not the movie, the description of the movie in the guide), they do not fight the darkness.  They have only two plans and neither one involves fighting back.  The two plans are, again:
1 Shelter in place (but the generator is dying and they never consider using the inflammables to create fires for light.)
2 Run away.

-

So we get to how I would do it.  Which is the point of this post, after all.

Stick to the basic premise: Steal, "Stay in the light," from Pitch Black and, "It wants your body, not your clothes/possessions," from Left Behind.

The confusion of the extent of the darkness was a problem with the description, not the movie, so I'd keep it at, "Unknown but assumed to cover a wide swath, possibly everything."

I'd have a small handful of survivors meet each other after the first mass taking.  Maybe as few as two people, and I'd have their attitude evolve as time went on.  They'd start out afraid and just trying to survive till the next dawn, but at some point they'd be sick of being on the defensive all the time.  They'd lure in the darkness, cut it off from the whole, force it into smaller and smaller spaces until it couldn't dodge their light anymore, and then extinguish it with fire at its center.

And that would be the turning point.  Because when the first slice of darkness dies the remainder would retreat.  Not far, but where before the darkness could be seen venturing into the edges of the light, now it would be seen to back off, the light would extend further than it naturally should.

And then it becomes not the story of rats in a maze but the story of people fighting against superior numbers. Light goes out and you're dead, but if you can box off a section of the darkness and make the light go in, then it's dead.

I imagine Molotov cocktails, I imagine lighter fluid, I imagine soaking rope in gasoline to make it flammable and then using it to cordon off areas, I imagine making houses airtight and leaving the gas on and then, once the darkness has been driven inside, shattering a window with a burning projectile and watching the brilliant bright explosion and hearing the screams of the darkness as it is killed off.

I imagine laying traps and trying to avoid traps that have been laid (if the darkness can sap a battery it might be able to charge it, it might be able to turn on the lights in order to trick the survivors into thinking another group has been located and then, once it has lured them in, turn the light back off.)

I imagine not hide/runaway but fight.

I imagine flame as a central component, rather than electricity.  I think I would keep that the darkness can't sap solar powered batteries, and maybe the musing about the vegetable oil powered car below in the footnote because it places clear limits on what the darkness can do, the closer something is connected to the light, the less power the darkness has over it.  The further disconnected the more power the darkness has.

Combustion is a process of light, so the darkness can't stop it.  But it's not a process of The Light (that being the sun) so the darkness can have it's way with batteries charged by it, but only after they've stopped being charged.  And the closer the combustion charging the battery is to The Light (this tree that was alive and photosynthesizing until I cut it down today is very close, the gasoline from crude oil millions of years in the making is very far) the less power the darkness has over the battery.

If I were to set the movie near a field, then I would imagine a scene where a large portion of the darkness is herded into the field, the field cordoned off with walls of flame so that the darkness couldn't escape, and then the field lit.

I would make it a movie about insurgents in a world that's occupied half of every day.  It would alternate between days when planning and preparation and sleep could take place which were calm and uneventful and nights which were filled with fire and darkness.

I left something out.  In the actual movie, if the darkness is great enough, and the light is small enough, the darkness can extinguish light.  It was candles in that case, and I'm not sure if it was doing it by blowing them out, or just by overpowering the light.  Whatever the case, it couldn't manage the last candle (possibly due to force of will on the part of the person protected by it.)

That would probably play a role in what I would do somehow.  If people are fighting back against the darkness and winning (and they should be winning because they should be smart and always have combustion on their side which should protect them) the darkness should respond with greater force than it normally uses, which should lead to escalations: bigger fires are needed to keep the darkness at bay because it'll kill off candles.  But since the darkness is such a superior force to the survivors bigger strikes against it would also be needed for them to feel like they're accomplishing anything, because however much they kill off, there will always, for the movie at least, be more.

Clear an entire street and that still leaves every other street occupied territory.

Also, if the characters make the connection that solar power = power that the darkness can't sap, they should probably at least try to make their way to somewhere with solar power.  I disbelieve the idea that they've never seen a place with solar panels on the roof.

And I think I'd end the movie with a long planned and prepared for (during the day, don't want the darkness listening in/watching) offensive killing off and driving back enough of the darkness that a Tunguska reference could be made.  Unlike the Roanoke reference it doesn't matter if this is true or false because it plays no role in the plot, it's just a character saying, "I heard," and the thing she (?) heard is in popular culture.  Specifically, "I heard that after Tunguska it was bright enough to read a newspaper in the middle of the night," as a comparison to what it looks like after the darkness fell back.

Or, failing that, every book of Dante's Divine Comedy ends with the stars.  So the offensive described above drives back enough of the darkness that the characters can see through it to the starlight, and possibly moonlight, above.

Not an ending of, "We win," but an ending of, "We finally have a major victory."  Doesn't answer the question of whether there are other survivors out there.  But it does indicate that those who have survived the movie are doing a good enough job that they'll likely go on surviving.

-

* I wonder if the truck was powered by vegetable oil, it's still removed from direct sunlight, but power from fresh vegetables recently served in a restaurant is a lot closer to the original source (the sun) than power from gasoline that's been refined from crude oil that's been in the ground for millions of years.

Being closer to the original source, light, might make it harder for the darkness to sap.

Something I don't like in movies and "Vanishing on 7th Street"

Spoilers for Vanishing on 7th Street but it's not a very good movie so... do as you please.  (Though, that said, anyone familiar with Tim LaHaye's theology, specifically the naked Rapture that leaves your clothing and such behind, might be interested in it as a portrayal of a very inclusive and very creepy Rapture where "Like a thief in the night," puts emphasis on "night" to the point that light sources can hold the Rapture at bay.)

The thing I don't like in movies is that there seems to be a tendency for someone to do something suicidally stupid, and by that I mean something that they're smart enough to know is massively unwise and has zero chance of a positive outcome and a very large chance of their death, someone else to try to save them, and then have person who tried to save them and would otherwise have lived die, person who did suicidally stupid thing live.

On occasion it could be used to indicate, "The life you end might not be your own," but the massive repetition of it in movie after movie ends up making it seem like the message is, "If you want to live just do high risk low reward things until someone else dies to save you, then you're set."

It also delivers the message, "Don't try to save people, you will die."  And while that might seem like a noble sacrifice, remember that the person you're saving is the type of person to do things that will clearly get them killed for no good reason whatsoever and the plot invulnerability mentioned in the previous paragraph that comes from getting other people killed in your place only lasts until the closing credits.  Who do you think stands a better chance of actually getting a happy ending after those credits roll?  You, the person who cares about others and recognizes certain death when they see it, or them the person who doesn't give a damn about others and embraces obviously certain death not because they're actually suicidal but because they've chosen to take all of the intelligence and knowledge they do have and cast it aside in order to convince themselves (again, for no good reason whatsoever) that obviously certain death somehow isn't obviously certain death in spite of the OBVIOUSLY an CERTAIN being written over the DEATH in the equivalent of giant neon letters.

So, as you might imagine, anyone who tries to help anyone else in Vanishing on 7th Street did not survive to see the end of the movie.  Message received: Helping people Bad.

There were two survivors   One was the person who, while not embracing Obviously Certain Death, did almost get two people killed for no good reason when she could have just as easily accomplished the same thing by saying, "I feel safer on my own."  The other was the one who killed someone by trying to embrace Obviously Certain Death, that killed person's death jarring him back to his senses.

It wouldn't be so much of a problem if the embrace of Obviously Certain Death were because he was actually suicidal and then when someone died trying to save him he decided that he'd live to make it so the other person's death wasn't in vain.  The trouble is, he wasn't embracing Obviously Certain Death because he wanted to die Obviously Certain Death.  He was embracing Obviously Certain Death because he wanted to live and he knew better and the death was both obvious and certain and so ... seriously what the fuck?

I think I'm going to break off the "How I would do it" into another post.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Susan, Aslan, Peter, and the leaving of Narnia at the end of Prince Caspian

[Originally posted at Ana Mardoll's Ramblings.]

So, I've been meaning to write something that should have gone in this thread but didn't.
Because this thing I wrote (also at Archive of Our Own, if you prefer that) basically demands another ending. 
---
Aslan, Peter, and Susan are alone.
Aslan: I cannot see the future, but I can see enough to know that after you leave this time you will not come back. In this life at least. And so there are some things that I wanted to talk to the two of you about, before you go.
*Peter looks at Susan*
Susan: Aslan, we have to talk.
*Peter makes himself scarce*
Aslan: I wanted to talk.
Susan: Not about what you wanted to talk about.
Aslan: Then what?
Susan: I am not leaving.
Aslan: What?
Susan: I'm sick of being thrown between worlds with no say in the matter. I'm sick of making friends only to never see them again. I'm sick of-
Aslan: Susan, everyone is thrown between worlds at least once-
Susan: This would be my fourth time.
Aslan: And your last time, until you have lived out your days and died.
Susan: Doesn't matter. I made a decision. When I was pulled here against my will. When I was standing in the ruins that had once been my home.  While I was realizing that everyone that I knew and loved here, and even the people I didn't know and hadn't really cared all that much about, had died of old age, I made a decision.
Aslan: I know that this has been hard for you, but-
Susan: And that decision was this: Either I was going to leave as soon as I could (passed the lamppost before I could get attached), or I was staying for good.
Aslan: I had hoped that having you here for a shorter time would ease-
Susan: Well I did stay around, and I did save the world, and I did get attached, and I did make friends, and I'm not leaving.
Aslan: Susan, there are forces at work well beyond my control. Do you think that I wanted Narnia to be conquered? I have to live a life between worlds too and, in spite of what the others might think, I cannot come and go as I please.
Susan: Then let those forces try to force me, not you.
Aslan: I will respect your decision inasmuch as it is in my power to do so.
Susan: Thank you.
*Susan turns away from Aslan as it is polite to do when one is about to shout*
Susan: PETER! YOU CAN COME BACK NOW!
*Peter returns*
Peter: How did it go?
Aslan: That remains to be seen.
Susan: But as far as things between Aslan and myself are concerned it went well. *to Aslan* Given what we just talked about, do you still want me here when you talk to Peter?
Aslan: That's up to you.
Susan: I'll stay.
Aslan: Narnia is in a fragile state at the moment and there are no good options. Instead we have to look for the least bad option. And the least bad option, I believe, is this: The Telmarines who are willing to stay under Narnian rule will remain, and be treated as full citizens. Caspian is their king by their laws anyway so hopefully they can be convinced that they will not be mistreated.
Aslan: Those who are not willing to stay will be given passage back to their original homeland.
Peter: Telmar?!
Susan: They don't even know the first thing about the place and it's not likely to want I giant surge of immigrants on its doorstep.
Aslan: No. Not Telmar. They descend from humans from your original world. The homeland I speak of is an island.
Susan: And what about those already on the island?
Peter: And besides that, they know nothing of our world.
Aslan: The island is uninhabited and undiscovered. When it is discovered their first contact will be no different than anyone else's.
Susan: *suspicious* And why is it uninhabited?
Aslan: I would like to believe that it was a result of natural causes or that those who were still on the island brought it on themselves. That is what I would like to believe. What the truth is, I do not know.
Peter: And what about those who would fare poorly on an uninhabited island?
Aslan: We will provide the group with supplies. Provisions including food, tools, and short term shelters. The Telmarines are not without skills and the island is not without resources. They should be able to build themselves homes and begin to cultivate food well before these things would become a problem. As for those who would not be able to support themselves, I realize that they were until recently your enemy, but understand that they are not without hearts. Hopefully they will be able to take care of those who cannot care for themselves.
Susan: *flatly* Hopefully.
Aslan: I said it was the least bad option. I said that there are no good options. I said that I cannot see the future. *pause* And I haven't gotten to the worst part yet.
Susan and Peter simultaneously: What's the worst part?
Aslan: I can only keep the portal open for one day, no longer and never again. Narnia can offer no support to the island, Narnia can offer no oversight. Once they go through their fates will be in their own hands, and they've never had self rule before. They've been under a king all their lives. It is impossible to know what will happen to them without a leader.
Aslan: Also, those who choose to go and those who choose to stay will never be able to see each other again-
Susan: I know what that's like.
Aslan: Indeed. It will be a dark day, and always remembered as such. It will be a day filled with tears and goodbyes that mean forever. And yet, do you see another path that doesn't lead to revolution?
*Susan and Peter turn to each other*
Susan: Well we could-
Peter: No. It might put off revolution for a while, even a generation, but-
Susan: We'd still have bloody civil war.
*pause*
Peter: What if we-
Susan: No. That assumes good faith on the part of all parties. We can assume good faith on the part of many, possibly even most, parties, but not all.
Peter: Right. So...
[this goes on for a while, eventually they decide that Aslan's plan is the best bad idea available]
Aslan: Getting you home will need to take place at the same time, I've sent for your clothes so that you don't end up conspicuous in England.
Susan: Why would we need our clothes?
Peter: Last time we were changed back to the exact same state we came in, clothing and body both.
Aslan: While your question makes sense in this moment if you look at things from a non-linear non-subjective standpoint reality is more like a big ball of wibbly wobbly... spacetime-y wimey... stuff, and so...
[Explanation and secret knowledge go here. What is the secret knowledge? It's a secret. Join a mystery cult of Narnia and they might tell you.]
"Come on," said Peter suddenly to Edmund and Lucy. "Our time's up."
"What do you mean?" said Edmund.
Susan: We wanted to tell you earlier-

Peter: But everything was so hectic.
"This way," said Susan, who seemed to know all about it.
Susan: *to narrator* of course I knew all about it, I just told them that I wanted to tell them. *to Edmund and Lucy* This is your time to leave, if you're leaving. So you have to change.
"Change what?" asked Lucy.
Susan: Your clothes. You can't return to England wearing what you're wearing.
Edmund: And must we return?
Susan: I'm staying. If you want to stay I'll support that in any way I can.
*pause*
Susan: But you need to make up your mind by day's end.  We have a limited window.
Lucy: Why would we need to change our clothes? Last time they were changed for us.
*Peter looks at Susan with the desperate hope that she'll answer*
Susan: Some things don't make sense.
---"But our other things are at Caspian's castle," said Edmund.
---"No, they're not," said Peter, still leading the way into the thickest wood. "They're all here. They were brought down in bundles this morning. It's all arranged."
---"Was that what Aslan was talking to you and Susan about this morning?" asked Lucy.
---"Yes -- that and other things," said Peter, his face very solemn. "I can't tell it to you all.
 There were things he wanted to say to Su and me because I'm not coming back to Narnia and she isn't leaving."
---"Never?" cried Edmund and Lucy in dismay.
Susan: Coming back or leaving?
Edmund: Either.
Lucy: Both.
Susan: I said from the start this was all or nothing for me.
Peter: As for coming back, I won't be but Aslan thinks you will be.
Lucy: What does that mean?
Susan: That given the various delta streams of possibility and probability there is a strong chance that if you leave now you will come back later.
Lucy: *to Peter* But you won't be?
Peter: It doesn't look that way.
Lucy: Will you be able to bear it?
Peter: Yes. I think so.
Susan: I hope so.
Peter: I will miss you.
Susan: Well think about it this way, you'll have the distraction of explaining how you lost your sister.
Peter: *in a 'damn' kind of voice but without the 'damn'* I hadn't thought of that.
Susan: *To Edmund and Lucy* Remember, you have to decide by day's end, no later, whether or not your returning to England. If you decide that you really do want to go back even a moment too late you'll be stuck here. And if you go and then change your mind, you'll have no control over when or if you can return.
Susan: I wish we'd been able to give you more time to make your decision-
Lucy: But you were busy.
Edmund: We noticed.
Lucy: Don't worry about it.
---
When the Narrator gets to the part where the Pevensies step up as a demonstration and the Narrator counts Susan amoung them:
Susan: I have an entire bag of apples. Nice and hard. Perfect for throwing.
---
Many years later, an elderly Queen Susan is lying in her bed near death.
A lion walks into the room. Not just a lion, the lion
Susan: Hey you.
Aslan: Hey you.
*Aslan walks closer*
Susan: You haven't aged.
Aslan: One of the benefits of being bounced between worlds.
*pause*
Susan: Why have you come?
Aslan: I said before that everyone moves between worlds at least once.
Susan: Yes you did.
Aslan: I think you know what I meant.
Susan: I think so too.
Aslan: You're dying Susan.
Susan: *sarcastic* Am I? I hadn't noticed.
Aslan: You're going to leave this world when you do anyway. No choice in that. But I did want to offer you a choice in where you go next.
Susan: What does that mean?
Aslan: Wibbly wobbly. Your siblings are still waiting at the train station, if you want them to be. You can join them there and return to England as the child you left it as rather than pass on to the afterlife. They don't have to live a life without you, you don't have to die just yet.
Susan: Just yet?
Aslan: You are mortal, and you will die. That cannot be changed. But before you do you can return to Earth to live the life you left behind. Or you can die here. It's up to you. Either way you leave this world and move to another.
Susan: And if I do go back...
Aslan: Yes?
Susan: No more pulling me between worlds?
Aslan: There are powers beyond my control, but this much I can promise: not in this life. Not if you don't want it.
Susan: If I'm going back to be a child again I want that childhood to lead to an entire life on Earth, not some way-station until Narnia needs a hand again.
Aslan: We can do that. This can be the end of Narnia for you, and Earth becomes your home until non-Narnian death forces you to the afterlife.
Susan: Then we'll do that.
Aslan: As you wish.
---
On the platform:
Susan: It's so good to see you again!
Peter: Susan?
*Susan hugs each of her siblings*
Susan: It's been a long time.
Lucy: I thought you weren't coming?
Edmund: It's only been a few seconds.
Susan: Not for me.
Peter: What happened?
Susan: I lived a full life in Narnia, and then on my deathbed Aslan gave me the option of returning here instead of going to the afterlife. I never felt right about leaving you behind, so I came back.
Edmund: But it's only been a few seconds.
Susan: Narnia time.
Peter: It makes no sense.
*pause*
Susan: There's one other thing. I'm done with Narnia. The life I live in this world is going to be focused entirely on this world.
Peter: So don't talk about it in front of you?
Susan: No, just don't expect me to join in. And if ever, in the future, there should be a call from Narnia, I'm not going.
Edmund: Seems fine.
Lucy: I'm just happy we don't have to be without you.
-
--
-
Or something like that.