15 January 2018

Initial Arrival 7

Jennifer put down the cup and turned her attention to the soup. “What is this?”

“Schi.” Jennifer didn't recognize the word. Ivan seemed to notice, so he explained, “Cabbage soup.”

Jennifer still didn't trust the food. She wasn't in the mood for trying new things. “What is in it?” But she knew this wouldn't give her the information she wanted, so she continued, “What spices, seasonings, herbs do you use?”

“I don't understand. It is just soup. It isn't spicy. We don't have many seasonings. I am sorry it isn't what you are accustomed to, but there isn't other food.” Ivan paused, then continued with, “Can you please try it before assuming you don't like it?”

Jen took a spoonful. She tried to avoid the leaves as she took out the other solid chunks. “This tastes ok.” She continued to eat.

Ivan was watching what she was doing and responded to this, “Do you not like cabbage?”

Jennifer stopped eating to talk to him. She turned to look at him before responding, “I don't know. I always find leaves awkward to eat. And lettuce seems like a filler in salads.”

“Cabbage isn't lettuce!” Ivan paused slightly and changed his tone again. “You should try to eat it, food isn't cheap here, we don't want to waste any.”

Jennifer wasn't happy with this comment. This isn't the first time she has had people unhappy about the way she eats. I guess he doesn't know this. He just assumes this is the same thing typical of Americans. Or of people who come from other cultures in general. Jennifer began to cry again. Seriously, why do people think they scold people until they somehow act like they want. Why can't people realize that others … have other needs I guess.

Ivan began to talk to the woman with him. Jennifer didn't understand what they were talking about. She did notice however. She was very uncomfortable with the situation. This made it more difficult for her to speak. Her thoughts were focused on this discomfort, afraid they would scold her again. And on her sense of isolation.

Ivan eventually turned to face her. “If you want, if you don't think you can continue, we can finish this conversation later.”

Jennifer looked up at him, but was still crying and couldn't speak. She eventually nodded slightly, figuring that it would be a while before she could converse again.

“When you are done eating, you can leave your dishes here.” He points to the nightstand. “If you need anything, I will be in the building, and you can ask for me. The nurses won't understand, but they will know to get me, so I can translate.” Then, to the woman he said, “Poydyom.” Both individuals walked out of the room.

Jennifer eventually stopped crying and started to eat again. Why can't my mother make things like this. Why does she insist on covering everything in tomato sauce, or soy sauce, or whatever spice concoction she decides to use. … I guess this is just soup. They probably have their own way of ruining food.

07 January 2018

Initial Arrival 6

Ivan returned eventually with a woman. The woman looked Asian and was dressed as a doctor. Or a nurse. Maybe. Jennifer was guessing based on the circumstance. They brought food on a tray and put it in front of her. There was a glass with some sort of fruit juice, a bowl of soup, and some bread. Jennifer just stared at it.

Ivan spoke to try to fix this, “You need to eat to regain your strength.”

She knew that. She wasn't hungry. She felt more beyond that, as if her body had given up on trying to get food. But that isn't why she was hesitant. She didn't know what was in front of her and if she would like it.

She picked up the glass first and looked in it. “You put fruit in your fruit juice?”

“It is a compote.” Ivan paused for a bit before continuing, “It preserves the fruit.”

“Oh. Like mandarin oranges.”

“I don't understand. Isn't that a particular type of fruit.”

“It is, but I have always had it canned. It comes in fruit juice or syrup. We open the can, drain the juice, then eat the fruit with a fork.”

“Here we drink the juice.”

01 January 2018

Initial Arrival 5

Date Unknown
Yakutsk, Siberia, USSR

How did I even get here? What happened? Her memory of the events still felt surreal. She remembered what happened before ending up in the clearing. Joshua was driving them to the airport. They were lost. Joshua knows the way. Getting lost like that due to geography changes, it's like a dream. Maybe there was an accident and everything else is false. Or I am still sleeping and anticipating tomorrow. But this didn't feel like a dream to her. It was wrong, but too real.

She continued to recall what had happened next. She had gotten out of the car to look for help. Her brother had as well. I don't see Nicholas or Joshua here. What happened to them? They had walked into the forest. Everything felt surreal at that point. There were voices in the distance. They went towards the voices. It was cold and it was snowing. It had turned cold fast. Jennifer hesitated, thought about turning back to get her coat. She had gotten very tired suddenly. She had slowed and Nicholas had gotten ahead, out of sight in the snow. She was so tired, but pressed on, panicking after loosing sight of her brother, being left alone in the cold.

She couldn't recall seeing either Joshua or Nicholas after that.

She did remember hearing gunshots in the distance, where she heard voices before. She ran there, to a clearing where she came to a man on the ground. He had been shot, injured. There was nobody else there. They talked. Argued some, maybe. She wanted to help, but she was so tired she collapsed and eventually lost consciousness.

She remembered something else. Something insignificant at the time. The trees changed color. They were green as it was summer, but when it got cold and the snow started, they were yellow as if it were autumn. … Pine trees maybe, yellow pine trees covered in snow. … But pine trees don't change color. And they aren't usually that common. … I am just imagining things, misremembering things.

It is like I stepped through a wormhole. But there wasn't an in-between. I was there, then I was here, a different place and time. Differences which would be subtle in transition are obvious right next to each other. … And it sapped my strength. As soon as I stepped through I was tired and disoriented.

19 December 2017

Initial Arrival 4

Date Unknown
Yakutsk, Siberia, USSR

Ivan left, leaving Jennifer alone, giving her the opportunity to examine her environment and to think about her situation. Jennifer took the opportunity to look around.

The room was long and rectangular, with beds lining both of the long sides. Between each bed there was nightstand type table. There were larger tables with chairs between the two rows of beds. Both of the long sides had windows behind and above the beds. One of the shorter ends has windows as well. The ceiling had plenty of lights hanging down. Many of the beds were occupied and a few nurses were moving in, out, and around.

Jennifer didn't know what to make of it. The room didn't seem like what she expected from a modern hospital. He did say this is Soviet, which would imply the past. … Is this what hospitals used to be like?

I can't be in the past. How would I have gotten to the past? Maybe he is mistaken, using the older name. But this didn't make sense to her. Why would he use the old name? He didn't talk as if he were using an old name. He stated that we are in the Soviet Union. Well, he explicitly used the term Soviet. Soviet Russia. And the only way for that to be the case is if he doesn't know what happened in at least the past 20 years. A government agent would know what is the current government for which he works. Unless this is the past. … Or an alternate reality. Or this isn't real. Jennifer contemplated the possibilities.

What are the other possibilities? This could be a dream or a conspiracy. Jennifer tried to figure out if anyone she knew would want to create this environment as a joke. This doesn't feel like a dream. But Jennifer knew that was the most likely situation. If someone were to create this environment and put her in it, it would feel real, it would be more accurate, but nobody would do this. A pseudo-reality or alternate dimension? Is that simpler or more complex than time travel? … I guess I will need to know the date. Why didn't I ask for the date?

Jennifer was crying again by this time. She felt weak, tired, sore, scared and overwhelmed. I am far from home and don't have access to people who can help me, whom I know. And I don't have a way back. … These people, they see me and they see an American. They don't see me! Nobody ever does. They put people into these boxes, categories, and … and don't understand. They don't understand complexity. … And everyone is supposed to want to be American, but I don't. She could feel the fear in her abdomen, and she felt cold. She picked up her hand and watched it shake. I am not doing well.

06 December 2017

Initial Arrival 3

Date Unknown
Yakutsk, Siberia, USSR

As he started to leave, however, several issues occurred to Jennifer. “Wait.” Her voice was still soft and weak. He turned back around. She was nervous. She didn't know what to say. This was a bad idea. She turned away from him, closing her eyes and focusing inward as she tried to talk, tried to find the words to explain what she wanted. Or at least to say something, to not feel alone in a hostile world.

“Is there something that you want?”

She struggled to speak and started to cry. She spoke, slowly, trying to grasp the words. “What is going to happen to me? I don't have anywhere to go. I know in the US, and it isn't unique there, that people in the country without permission, if caught, well, the detention centers are really bad. I don't want to go to prison; it does bad things to people and the culture is destructive. And I don't want to go back to the US.”

She paused, thinking, but not looking at Ivan. Her final thought wasn't based on his reaction to what she said. “I promise I won't speak out against your government.” She figured Ivan would know exactly what she meant, although wouldn't know the real reason she would be willing to make such a promise. Unless, of course, he is naive.

“Can you tell me what happened?”

“What happened, it felt like a dream. I don't trust the accuracy of my memory. I need time to process.”

“Alright. For now you should remain here. You aren't yet fully recovered. We will determine what will happen by then. I still expect you to tell me what you remember, but we can wait a couple of days for your memory to recover. For now, you should rest. Later, we can have you talk to the man whose life you saved. Do you know our language?”

“No.”

“You will need to learn it. We can deal with that later.”

Status Update

It appears that I continue to delay getting these posts out.

Because I want to get the story out, I will post many of the updates this subchapter without images. It is possible that due to the nature of the dialogs, the large number of images used in the Prologue does not feel natural. It may also just be that putting aside drawing to deal with other things has interfered with my ability to get myself to want to draw.

I will relabel the old Chapter 1 updates with images and repost the updates using the main story tags without updates. By this weekend, I will get out update 3. I will try to get out 2 more updates this month, then switch to a schedule closer to every week until I catch up to where I want to be, with potential delays if there will be images in an update.

11 November 2017

Status Update

I believe I am close to being back into a comfortable / permanent situation. I will try to get an update again this month with more to follow.

For those who have not yet received it, you can ask me for a link to my account for October. I may eventually put up a public link.