Speaking with Sigma
A lady contacted me a while back, one that needed help, specifically an interview. (Of course, isn't that why everyone contacts me these days?) Scribe Sigma of the Archive wanted someone to talk to, and wanted it recorded. I was confused as to why someone would want to talk about the things she did, until I met her. Now it's painfully obvious. Without ado, the Scribe Sigma interview:
Sigma left me a note to meet me at a park nearby my house. I'd like to pause here to swear a little bit. How do people keep finding out where I live? The timezone on my blog isn't even right! Anyway. I arrived to find her sitting on a park bench with a bottle of beer in her hands. If I had to guess, I'd say she was about thirty years old, with dishwater blonde hair falling just past her shoulders. She raised her head at my approach, the leaves crunching beneath my feet signaling that I was directly in front of her before she really even acknowledged me.
Me: "Have you been waiting long, Sigma?"
Sigma: "About two minutes. Do you define that as long or short? I can never tell with some people."
I looked down at the alcohol in the Scribe's hands, frowning to myself. Her skin was pale, and her overall appearance rumpled. Her clothes were wrinkled and her hair tangled. The bags under her eyes were dark, from what little could be seen under the dark sunglasses she wore. The fact that she was wearing them at night irked me. Like abuse victims do to hide their black eyes, and everyone knows what they're doing? It felt exactly like that.
Me: "Not long at all. I'm here, and I gotta say, I'm worried. Can you.. can you put the beer down while we talk? It makes me nervous."
Sigma hesitated, but slowly set her beer down on the ground. Then she looked at me. "How old are you, kid?"
I relaxed slightly and sat down next to her on the bench. "I prefer it when people aren't holding possible weapons when I talk to them, sorry. I'm twenty four. Why do you ask?"
Sigma sighed before responding. "It's like all you bloggers are in the same age range. Mid-teens to mid-twenties. Makes me feel old." She laughed. "I have two sets of childhood memories swimming in my head and I feel old."
Me: "We're vulnerable. Afraid. Easily mislead and manipulated, before we find our places in the world. It really isn't surprising to me." I paused for a moment, then continued. "Will you tell me about your new memories? It might help you tell me your story."
Sigma leaned back against the bench and was silent for a moment as she gathered her thoughts. "I assume you know what the prerequisite for joining the Archive is, right?"
Me: "Pretend I don't."
Sigma: "We've all been touched by the Grandfather-- or I guess you'd call him the Blind Man. The old guy with no eyes who wanders around libraries? Yeah, every member of our organization has met him at least once. Every one of us has had our childhood memories taken by him. I can't remember anything about my life from before my first period when I was thirteen."
Me: "And survived? Isn't that.. rare?"
Sigma: "What the Grandfather? No, kid. It's rare for people to die from encounters with him. You just lose little bits and pieces of your life. He collects memories. He's not like that tall suited guy or that dick in the gas mask; you know, the one that impersonates dead people. The Grandfather is more... subtle than that."
Me: "I'm aware. He wants childhoods especially, but I'll go ahead and assume he likes the 'strong' memories as well. Has anyone figured out yet why he wants them?"
Sigma: "The official Archive doctrine is that he's a collector of knowledge, but no one really believes that. We don't know why he does what he does. You really think humans can ever truly understand Them? But look kid, we've strayed a bit from the subject. You asked me to tell you my story, remember?"
Me: "Just setting the story straight, for the people that'll read this that don't know what he does. But go on. Tell me your story."
Sigma: "Well, like I said, we've all met him once. But me, I'm special." She pronounced the word with an odd mixture of pride and disgust. "I've met him twice more. The first time was a few years back, after I joined up with the Archive as a Martyr-- like a black-ops agent, but not as badass. He gave me a set of new childhood memories. They belonged to a kid named John Kramer. Well, it's one thing for the Grandfather to take memories. But it's another thing entirely for him to give them. As someone who's received memories, I'm considered a Gifted, like the chosen of the Grandfather. I guess it's roughly analogous to a proxy, but without the need to obey a super-powerful, god-like being attached."
Me: "Gifted? I'd say cursed, but this is your life we're talking about. Has he ever.. directed you to do anything? Or wanted you to do something specific for the Archive, or him?"
Sigma: "Nope. Never. He just showed up and gave me some new memories. Then a few months ago, he showed up again, gave me another set. A more... disturbing set. Tell me, kid, do you know what it's like to be raped while someone you trusted just stands there and watches with absolutely no concern for your well-being?"
Me: "Something akin to that. I know what it's like to be raped for days on end, and to be abandoned by those you loved because you were "tainted." Because it was too hard to stand by me. So, I suppose it's a technical no. "Did this rape happen to you, or to the person whose memories you inherited?"
Sigma: "Not me. But it feels like it did. It feels like they're my memories. Hell, for a while I even thought they were my memories. But no. They belonged to my half-sister. Fuck, I didn't even know I had a half-sister until it happened. Her own mother-- the former Analyst Alpha-- had her impregnated using fucking shadows as the semen. They were trying to see if they could create a new one of Them. Didn't work. The girl stayed pregnant for years. So that Alpha bitch decided that, since me and her daughter shared a father, she should try and fucking transplant the fetus into me. What kind of fucked up mad scientist shit is that?"
I repressed a shudder. "I couldn't imagine how that poor girl felt. Why would they even WANT to create another one of Them?"
Sigma gave a really bitter laugh then. "The same reason we do anything in the Archive: to pursue knowledge. I hate it when people call us a cult, but I guess, in a way, we are. But not for the Grandfather like everyone thinks. It's Knowledge we worship, and we don't have an ethics board to regulate our experiments. ...But I have to wonder why the Grandfather gave me her memories. It seems almost too hopeful to think he was trying to warn me of the dangers. That's... too nice. No, he's probably playing a long game with me. One I'll probably never figure out." She paused here to reach down and grab the beer bottle, then she took a drink before setting it down again. "Sorry, but I needed that."
Me: "Don't apologize for the drinking. I could care less about that. It's the glass itself that bothers me. Now, you say there's no ethics board at all to this organization of yours?"
Sigma: "None at all. It would get in the way of progress, you see."
Me: "Evil in the name of progress is still evil. I'm sure those memories of yours would agree."
Sigma: "Hmph. At least one of them is so sheltered she doesn't even understand 'evil.' Besides, the Council of Seven-- the Alphas-- is theoretically supposed to act as a check against itself."
Me: "Obviously it doesn't, if rape and scientific experiments of that magnitude are going on without even an investigation. Is there no way for reform, or someone else to bring it to?"
Sigma: "Well, seeing as the old Analyst Alpha was recently torn apart by Nightlanders...." she briefly pauses here and suppresses a shudder at the memory. "Hopefully the new one will be less of psychopath."
Me: "Forgive me if I don't feel sympathetic to someone as cruel and fucked up as the old Analyst Alpha. Do you vote in the new members, or is it decided by seniority, or something I haven't thought of?"
Sigma: "The other Alphas choose from the Beta, Gamma, and Delta. After Analyst Alpha died, the rest of the council voted and chose Analyst Gamma as her successor." She gave me a level look. "How many people have you seen die?"
Me: "I've seen enough breathless bodies to last a lifetime, if not more. Why?"
Sigma: "Have you ever seen someone literally torn to pieces and splattered all over a room? Because let me tell you, no matter how horrible the victim was, that's not an image that leaves your mind."
Me: "I can't imagine that it would. Besides an unfortunate few victims I've found, I can't say that I've actually seen the process being performed. Just the aftermath."
Sigma: "Then I'd appreciate it if you kept any comments concerning the old Analyst Alpha's death to yourself, since you clearly have no idea what the fuck you're talking about."
I stared at her in disbelief. "Just because I haven't seen someone be sliced and diced in front of me, doesn't mean I don't know what the hell you're talking about. That isn't their only method, so kindly keep your swearing to a minimum. I'm not some ignorant chit you picked up off the street to tell your tales to."
Sigma laughed. "Oh, yes. Because admitting you've never had the experience and then claiming you know what it's like isn't contradictory at all." She keeps laughing. "I'm sorry. I haven't laughed in a while." At this point she stood up and looked down at me. "Actually, you strike me as the naive one. Look at you, so belligerent. Do you think that makes you intimidating? I was wondering why all your interviews tend to feature arguments. Now I see. You use words like 'evil' as if they have a meaning, and then you turn right around and say you're content with someone being torn apart. That's a child's understanding of morality."
Me: "Evil exists. I'm sorry if that bothers you. I'm sorry that he died in a terrible way. He inflicted pain on innocent people, good people that didn't deserve what happened to them. He would have continued inflicting said pain if he were still alive."
Sigma sighed. "She. Not he."
Me: "Like the gender really matters here, but fine. She. She was the one behind those experiments. How can you condemn me for being happy she's dead when you harbor the memories you do?" I shook my head angrily. "Who knows what the hell else has transpired behind closed doors because people let it happen. How many people have to be hurt before someone does something about it?"
Sigma looked straight at me, and then took off her sunglasses. Her eyes were gray and bloodshot. I don't mean she had gray irises and a bunch of red. Her blood veins were grey as well. Like someone drained all the color from her eyes. "You recall what I said earlier. That the Grandfather chose me?"
Sigma's eyes were obviously a point of importance, and I tried to be very careful about the conversation that followed. "Yes. The Blind Man chose you, and gave you The Gift."
Sigma: "Exactly. I was chosen and given a 'gift' by one of Them. Now, think about all of the people out there you know have been chosen in such a way. What are the overwhelming majority like? People like Thoth, the Faceless Bastard, Jester. What trait do they share?"
Me: "Jaded. Bitter. Confused, and generally in quite a bit of pain. It's more a curse than anything. Oh lord, when you think of them. They are grateful for the ones they serve, and follow them to the grave if need be. See Them as a kind of family. Is THAT what you're referring to?"
Sigma: "Not the answer I was looking for, but I suppose it leads to my point just as well. Would you be happy if, say, the Jester died?"
Me: "...No. Then again, I make no attempt to hide that I'm biased."
A smile of amusement spread over Sigma's face. "Really? So you're happy if someone who did horrible things in the name of furthering knowledge dies, but not if someone who does horrible things because it amuses him dies?"
Me: "Like I said. I'm fucked in the head, I'm a hypocrite, and my moral compass is more than a little skewed. Trust me, I'm aware. The obvious difference between your examples and my point is this: Your Analysts? They choose their path, of their own free will and enjoyment. You know as well as I do they enjoy their job, their lifestyle. The things they do. Not so different. But people like Thoth, Faceless Bastard, and Jester? They were Chosen. Like you."
Sigma: "Are you familiar with the Eye?"
Me: "Very. Judgmental Fear that likes to torment, am I hot or cold here?"
Sigma: "Exactly. And it's view of the world is very black and white. And it operates by very stringent definitions of good and evil. The other day I was typing a file on a little child who stood up to a school bully. The Eye killed him for being no better than the bully. So who the hell do you think you are to say whose death is a tragedy and whose death is a triumph? The moment you start treating death like it's a good thing, you become just like Analyst Alpha. She thought her crimes served a purpose. She thought she was justified, just as you think her death is justified. If I were to accept her death as a good thing, I'd be just like all those all those other maniacs They chose. Look at me. Look at my eyes. Do you see his mark upon me? I was nearsighted before he gave me these memories. Now? Now I can see every pore, every minor imperfection on your skin as clear as day. I can see the fucking spider climbing up that tree twenty feet behind you. I will not lose my humanity out of some childish sense of good and evil. The world is not. That. Simple!"
I nodded, lost in thought. Her words hit a nerve, several of them to be. I'd had come here in an attempt to help Sigma, but it seemed as though Sigma had become my own version of the Eye. The effect was.. unsettling.
I cleared my throat. "Would you.. would you like to have an honest interview for the rest of this? Without dealing with the Gatherer mask? It's.. I can't keep it up, not under these circumstances with you."
Without warning, Sigma suddenly threw her head back and laughed. "Damn that felt good. I myself had been trying to piece together what was bothering me so much. It looks like arguing with you let me put it into words." She smiled. "Yeah, I guess an honest interview would be alright. Thank you."
Me: "I can't in good conscience sit here and fight with you over petty bullshit, when neither of us want to. When the things I'm saying make even me sick." I couldn't help but smile. "Thank YOU. Getting to stop with the bullshit will be nice. Provoking people gets old after awhile."
Sigma put her glasses back on, then reached down to her beer bottle and took a drink. She paused. "Huh. Empty already." She put the bottle down again. "Alright. Interview. So what did you wanna ask me? And I'm sorry, but remember that there is a LOT about the Archive that remains classified, but I'll do the best I can to answer your questions."
Me: "How do you come to get your jobs, when you aren't Chosen? Is it by blood, or is there an ad they run in the paper? I mean, I know that sounds silly, but it's something I've never been clear on."
Sigma: "You mean how does the Archive recruit? Collectors. Their job is to gather field data and search for potential members. They keep an ear out for rumors of people having weird memory problems or suffering from amnesia, and investigate to see if the Grandfather was connected. Then we join and are assigned to a calling."
Me: "So how was the Archive founded?"
Sigma: "That, sadly is something only members get to know. I can, however, tell you that the group was founded in 1886."
Me: "Okay.. I suppose it's been around for a long time. It also proves that the Blind Man's been terrorizing for a long time. It throws out a certain theory or two people like to lean on."
Sigma: "Oh, you would not believe how many theories we've thrown out. You know that Core Theory thing that was popular a few years ago? We called it 'Transmythical Theory' and it was discredited in . Granted, it wasn't exactly the same as Core Theory, but the idea of Them being storybook monsters that follow archetypal rules remains the same."
Me: "There's a theory going around that they're the Old Gods. That our fear is the new form of their being worshipped, and their cultists spread fear in their name to make Them go stronger. What's the organization's view on that one?"
Sigma: "That actually matches up pretty well with our most prevalent theory. We call it the Iceberg Theory. They are multi-universal beings, but their existence is so large that only a small piece is actual present in each reality. They change their forms to reflect the prevalent psychology of each universe, which is why a lot people see them as being connected to specific fears. But because a small piece exists in multiple realities, how they actually behave depends on which universe you live in."
Me: "That ties into the belief that each person is like a separate world, a separate universe from each other."
Sigma: "That is one explanation, yes. Though Dimensional Bleeding is also considered a likely explanation. There's really no consensus on which of those is the more likely one, though."
Me: "We can't have all the answers, can we? It'd make it too easy. Besides, I think it'd put organizations like yours out of a job if we did."
Sigma: "That's true. The Brokers would hate it if everyone had answers."
Me: "No one would ever get paid. So, out of curiosity: Where are these Catacombs of yours?"
Sigma: "Like all Pathways, they don't exist in this reality. But, being Gifted, I can summon them. Just like proxies can summon the Path of Black Leaves." She seemed to become a bit distant here. "I used to hate it in there. I refused to use the Catacombs, even if my life was in danger. But recently... well, I've needed some alone time, and the bone-spiders don't bother me."
Me:"I'm going to assume from that statement that it was a sanctuary for you after you received that second set of memories."
Sigma: "In a sense, yes."
Sigma looked around the park, apparently to confirm that no one was nearby, which made sense, since everyone was probably asleep. "Would you like to see them?"
Me: "I'd be delighted to."
She nodded and walks over to a nearby tree, placing her hand on it. A few seconds passed, and then the tree started... falling apart. As if it were made of bricks, it came to pieces, revealing a long dark stone corridor. Torches lined the walls of the hallway, which extended into the shadows. Just beyond the light of the torches, the shapes of strange, spider-like creatures could be made out, scurrying to-and-fro. "Here it is," Sigma said. "The Catacombs. Somewhere deep in this network of tunnels, His library sits. I've never seen it myself, but I've seen the spiders heading for it, carrying books of memories on their backs."
Me: "Have you ever thought about going and seeing it for yourself?"
Sigma shook her head. "Oh hell no. The memories I have here are bad enough."
I looked inside the corridor in curiosity before turning to Sigma again. "Well, you just proved you could summon the path to it. Can't doubt you now. So, what will you do next? With all these memories, I mean."
Sigma shrugged. "The job of a Scribe is to record data. Between them there's about twenty-six years worth of memories. And yes, that does include infancy. It'll be a long time before I've finished transcribing them."
Me: "I meant personally, love. You can't drink away your sorrows forever. I'd like to see you happy at some point."
Sigma: "Heh. I'd like that too. But like you said earlier, being chosen in a curse. I have no idea what the Grandfather has planned for me. But... I think I can soldier on. Talking with you has been a huge help. I'm grateful. Maybe next time you can bitch at me until you feel better."
I started laughing, and my hair fell in my face. But it was fun. The first time I actually felt happy to be there. "I think I'll look forward to that. Believe it or not, helping people IS what I try to do. Being 'Dia' gets in the way, so your bitching was more helpful than you know."
Sigma smiled and nodded. "Well, see you next time, Dia." She stepped into the Catacombs, and the tree slowly began to rebuild itself.