Glow-worm – 0.9

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Anonymous [Old Message]: Hi. I think we talked a few times a while ago and I wanted to ask something
Anonymous [Old Message]: I’m not sure if I’m DMing the right person or if I got punctuation wrong. Last time we talked was was years ago when you did the photoshoot.
Anonymous [Old Message]: I feel really lost. I have questions but I don’t know who to ask. I thought of you and I hope I’m not bothering you or getting the wrong person. I really need some advice or perspective
Anonymous [Old Message]: I sent message anonymously so if I’m wrong or if I’m bothering you you can refuse

[email protected]_The_Sky: That’s me. I barely remember the photoshoot. That was a busy time for me.
[email protected]_The_Sky: Sorry for late reply. I had work to do for coming semester. If you need advice I can try to give it- I will say that I keep putting myself in a position to give advice and I may not be the best person to give it.
[email protected]_The_Sky: Can you make a regular account and message me? I keep getting notifications because you’re anonymous

Private Messages from FlippinMad

FlippinMad: Hi.

[email protected]_The_Sky: Hi. How can I help?

FlippinMad: Thank you
FlippinMad: I’ve been thinking about things for a long time and I’ve been digging for info and answers and trying to put it all together. Is hard because people don’t want to talk about things and a lot of people don’t want to talk to me in particular. People get upset

[email protected]_The_Sky: The world ended. It’s kind of upsetting

FlippinMad: I know. I know
FlippinMad: you were there?

[email protected]_The_Sky: We were all there toward the end. Very few exceptions.

FlippinMad: thousands of capes were there and nobody wants to talk about the specifics

[email protected]_The_Sky: The answer will come out in time. It may already be out there in places. Communication is limited. Pockets of humanity are spread out and the people who have a say in info getting from city A to city B are probably wanting to keep things peaceful for now. Gov’t or what we have that passes for gov’t, PHO and the 12ish other online bodies…
[email protected]_The_Sky: they control info. But they can’t stop word of mouth. Not easily. We will hear the full story one day. I don’t know if it will be a good day but we will hear it.

FlippinMad: Ok
FlippinMad: I’m stressing about it so I’m not sure if I can wait
FlippinMad: Can I ask questions and you can decide if you want to say or not?

[email protected]_The_Sky: you can ask. I can’t promise any answers.

FlippinMad: Thank you
FlippinMad: Did you know Skitter? Weaver I guess

[email protected]_The_Sky: I didn’t know her. Not really
[email protected]_The_Sky: We crossed paths.

FlippinMad: She’s one of the people I ask people about and they get mad or defensive. Or they tell me they have something to do and never get back to me

[email protected]_The_Sky: Yep.

FlippinMad: Why?

[email protected]_The_Sky: Short answer: I can’t/won’t say

FlippinMad: Okay

[email protected]_The_Sky: Longer answer: I don’t know how things unfolded, but I think people fall into types and categories. I don’t know enough to say one way or the other but I think she was looking for something.

FlippinMad: I don’t know if I understand

[email protected]_The_Sky: You’ve seen the video stuff?
[email protected]_The_Sky: She hurt someone you know?

FlippinMad: I tried to find everything I could get. I’ve seen the cell phone movie from the cafeteria. I saw a few. not just the big one that was on the news. Then I went back to find other news and footage. Then I followed along
FlippinMad: Her joining the heroes and later with her talking to schoolkids but there wasn’t much good video with that second one. I saw the movie of her in New Delhi and I saw her on TV here and there.
FlippinMad: She hurt people I care about I guess. That’s not why I’m asking

[email protected]_The_Sky: I’ve seen the same. I saw her as the novice warlord
[email protected]_The_Sky: She hurt an awful lot of people. A crazy lot.
[email protected]_The_Sky: She killed one of our best heroes
[email protected]_The_Sky: She also joined the Levi fight. She apparently helped against the S9. She joined the Wards
[email protected]_The_Sky: It’s hard to reconcile

FlippinMad: That’s my problem
FlippinMad: I want to figure it out but there are gaps

[email protected]_The_Sky: I don’t have the answers for you. I can only theorize
[email protected]_The_Sky: I read a thread on PHO a few days ago and it made me think. I said I think she’s someone who was looking hard for an answer. I think she was wounded and lost and for this reason & probably because of other factors she did a lot of damage while looking. The people she was with. Things being primed for everything to fall down. Timing or bad luck. Personality.

FlippinMad: Wounded

[email protected]_The_Sky: I’m looking at my history and I’m having trouble finding the thread
[email protected]_The_Sky: there are people who are searching I think and there are people who just are. I think both can be good and both can be toxic. Some people are searching because of something that pushed them. A lot of capes just are. Some are doing the pushing, instead. And there’s all sorts of types.
[email protected]_The_Sky: I don’t know her nearly well enough to say which she was but I don’t think she stood still. Or when she did stand still it was because she was on a precipice, looking for a push or for something to push. But again I don’t know her.
[email protected]_The_Sky: You would have to explain more about what you want to know for me to give you any more of an answer

FlippinMad: I pushed her

[email protected]_The_Sky: You pushed her?

FlippinMad: I really hope you don’t block me or ignore me
FlippinMad: I’ll try to explain but give me a moment.
FlippinMad: Do you remember me? We met a few times but I think the only time we had a conversation was before the Vice-Versa photoshoot. There were six of us who were around the same age and the designers were taking a while.

[email protected]_The_Sky: I remember that. A bunch of non-capes from around the city, dressed up as capes, some of us local capes in fancy dress. Skitter wasn’t a part of that, obviously.

FlippinMad: Yeah. I’m starting back at the beginning
FlippinMad: They picked top athletes, valedictorians, bunch of others.
FlippinMad: You were hanging out with us. Shadow Stalker and the rest of us were joking around.

[email protected]_The_Sky: I remember now. Emma?

FlippinMad: Her friend. I’m the short one. It was her biggest shoot ever and she was super psyched. I tagged along. We were joking around and you were laughing with us and the staff were running around freaking out and trying to do last minute costume changes
FlippinMad: You were in fancy clothes and you had one of those masks on a stick, and Clockblocker was nearby complaining about having to hold his mask up until Ageis (sp?) got some ribbon and tied it to his head for him, which made the hairdresser freak out

[email protected]_The_Sky: Aegis
[email protected]_The_Sky:
They catered those nonalcoholic soda cocktails with layered colors. We drank them like they were water
[email protected]_The_Sky: and the one woman’s eyes bugged out when she saw what the bill was. I felt so sorry for her.
[email protected]_The_Sky: We gave the staff so much grief.

FlippinMad: But that was part of the fun
FlippinMad: Yeah. It was like a dream, hanging out with heroes and cool people. Everyone was so fancy, including my friend. It was the one time in my life where I felt like I was one of the teens in one of those overly polished scenes in a teen movie where everyone looks so perfect
FlippinMad: I was really really hoping that they were going to just pull me in as an extra
FlippinMad: Because one of the kids they’d invited had backed out.
FlippinMad: But it didn’t look like it was going to happen and I was having enough fun that I didn’t mind too much. I said things and people laughed at it. And everything was great until then

[email protected]_The_Sky: I said something didn’t I?

FlippinMad: You called us a bunch of bitches

[email protected]_The_Sky: That was it.

FlippinMad: You said ‘This was such a nice night and you c-words had to spoil it by being disgusting. Come on.’
FlippinMad: and then you walked away and most of the heroes and heroines went with you or whatever. Leaving just me and Emma and a couple of others.
FlippinMad: They 100% went into…
FlippinMad: I don’t know what you call it. Defense mode. They wanted to bring things back to center. Normalize. They were saying things like “what’s bugging her? We weren’t saying anything that bad”
FlippinMad: And I was sitting there being quiet and I remember thinking they were wrong. we were kind of being bitches and we were kind of going too far when ragging on people who weren’t there.

[email protected]_The_Sky: The disabled girl I think. We were having to wait because they were having to adjust her costume to work around her back brace.

FlippinMad: Yeah.
FlippinMad: We said something loud enough for her to hear from the other end of the room and you spoke up and then you went to go hang with her instead
FlippinMad: The night didn’t seem as magical after all that. I was really bothered.

[email protected]_The_Sky: I barely remember beyond that. I did the photoshoot and we tried to cheer the girl up. It was mostly great and I saw Emma a few times after that and there were no problems but we weren’t friendly

FlippinMad: It was the first time in my life I stopped and took stock and asked myself “am I a good person?”

[email protected]_The_Sky: To an extent you get a pass. To an extent. We were 13-20 I think. You were closer to 13 than 20. Teenagers are shitty and most teenagers make a couple of mistakes. Not excusing it. It sucked as a thing. But teenagers being asshats mitigates it

FlippinMad: No
FlippinMad: I was really fucking shitty.
FlippinMad: I think its worse because I had this wake up call and I asked myself if I was a good person
FlippinMad: Except I never got around to answering that question. I kept putting it off and feeling shitty about it
FlippinMad: We kept being bitches. And then a couple months after that we put Taylor in the hospital. Skitter. I don’t know if she had powers then but if she did then I don’t know why she didn’t murder us all

[email protected]_The_Sky: You’re the bullies that pushed her over the edge

FlippinMad: Me and Emma and our friend Sophia and Julia and a few others. But we were the main three or four

[email protected]_The_Sky: I feel dumb not connecting those dots before. Preoccupied atm and I was preoccupied then. Fuck me. Emma was one of them? They kept your names out of the media

FlippinMad: Word still got out.
FlippinMad: So this is where I am because I almost feel responsible? Or I don’t know if I’m responsible
FlippinMad: But we pushed her
FlippinMad: And after that she joined bad guys and robbed a bank
FlippinMad: And then somewhere after that the empire got upset at her and her group and called them out before attacking the city and RIGHT after that the Endbringer attacked.
FlippinMad: There were all these theories about why it attacked Brockton Bay and the big two were that there was a holy grail or something? I didn’t follow that one. They said it might have to do with why people wanted to control the city?

[email protected]_The_Sky: A target. Something that would make the city valuable. Or someone. Endbringers have gone after specific people before

FlippinMad: Ok. I don’t know. The other one was that the city saw so much fighting in a short time. Taylor was a part of that and I’m part of what pushed her out there
FlippinMad: I know I sound narcissistic and shit but…

[email protected]_The_Sky: Are you gonna finish that sentence?

FlippinMad: I don’t know. I feel responsible
FlippinMad: I was pretty much there at the beginning and I pushed her and…
FlippinMad: it feels like I was at the top of a hill and I pushed a rock down it and it rolled down out of sight
FlippinMad: and then this rockslide starts further down the hill and wipes out a town and kills this really important person and a whole bunch of other horrible things.
FlippinMad: …and I go looking and my rock is lying there in the devastation. Nobody’s saying what happened. her wiki page is gone and people get annoyed or upset when I ask. I want to know what happened when I couldn’t see. Every non-answer I get makes it worse

[email protected]_The_Sky: She was her own person. She made her own decisions along the line.

FlippinMad: I know that

[email protected]_The_Sky: You don’t own her. You don’t own every decision she made or the whole fallout

FlippinMad: I know. But I didn’t help matters.

[email protected]_The_Sky: No. You definitely own some of it.

FlippinMad: And you can’t tell me what happened.

[email protected]_The_Sky: I can’t & won’t. But I guess I can say this.
[email protected]_The_Sky: With the evidence we have we know she did some good things. She did some bad things. She did some incredibly controversial things. She was more vicious and ruthless than she needed to be maybe.

FlippinMad: Am I responsible for that extra viciousness and ruthlessness?

[email protected]_The_Sky: Can’t say. Neither can you. But it probably didn’t fill her with smiles and joy did it?

FlippinMad: I spat on her once. It was Emma who really got to her and Sophia who went out of her way to hurt her. I was…
FlippinMad: I put her backpack in the toilet once. Books, notebooks and all. The water was clear but it was still the toilet and yeah. I put glue on her desk and juice on her seat and I stood by when the others were doing the worst stuff.

[email protected]_The_Sky: Fucking why?

FlippinMad: I don’t know. I never really stopped to think about it. My friend was a model and my other friend was a top athlete. Maybe I wanted to keep up. I told myself it was prank tier stuff but at the same time
FlippinMad: I’m saying this because this is like I’m confessing but like…
FlippinMad: Some time between when that photoshoot happened and when we put her in the hospital we were talking. Emma Sophia Julia and I. We figured we were falling into a pattern and we kept knocking her down when she picked herself up too much.
FlippinMad: and I had this moment where I saw she was really low and I spat on her. I remember the look on her face
FlippinMad: what the hell was wrong with me? I didn’t wake up to what I was doing until I got fucking caught which is just so doubly shitty. My parents found out when we all got called to school and that was the last time I interacted with Taylor. Moved away with Leviathan.
FlippinMad: I fucking spat on her face

[email protected]_The_Sky: Stop now please

FlippinMad: ok

[email protected]_The_Sky: Ok.
[email protected]_The_Sky: If you kept going I would’ve closed this and left you to it. Now I’m going to try to give you your answer here. Ok?
[email protected]_The_Sky: Even though you probably don’t deserve it.

FlippinMad: Yeah

[email protected]_The_Sky: Draw your own conclusions. Look at who she was and extrapolate. She did good she did bad. As time passed yes the bad things might have faded some but the controversial stuff she did might have gotten worse. Extrapolate.

FlippinMad: You’re saying that’s what happened? At the end. She did some good and she did some bad but she did something super controversial?

[email protected]_The_Sky: I am saying *nothing*. I am suggesting that if you are wondering what happened when you couldn’t see then you can make some educated guesses.
[email protected]_The_Sky: She killed people. She hurt people. She may have played a part in a war over the city. She threatened innocents with bugs and choked more than one person to death or nearly to death by shoving spiders and centipedes down their throats. She killed Alexandria at a time when we needed Alexandria most.
[email protected]_The_Sky:
She consorted with rapists terrorists and monsters.
[email protected]_The_Sky:
And because it eneds to be said yes she became a hero. That counts for something maybe. Maybe she had to. Maybe not.
[email protected]_The_Sky: She was there at the end and whatever she did, nobody will speak of it, at least for now. Fill in the blank
[email protected]_The_Sky: Now she’s gone and you’re still here.

FlippinMad: Gone?
FlippinMad: she retired? Or she’s dead? Gone gone?

[email protected]_The_Sky: She is *gone*.
[email protected]_The_Sky: But listen to me. because you made the choices and you carried on when you could’ve stopped and you spat on her and I’m not ignoring that. I’ve been holding back so I can get to it now.

FlippinMad: I’m listening

[email protected]_The_Sky: She was all of those things and she might have still been a better person than you

FlippinMad: …

[email protected]_The_Sky: Feel shitty? Good. Is it weighing on you or eating at you or making you wonder? Fucking good. That’s the way it should be.
[email protected]_The_Sky: Carry it. Own it. Make allowances for the fact that you were a teenager but don’t you dare excuse it or ignore it
[email protected]_The_Sky: If owning it means you assume the worst case scenario? that you pushed her and she took action and that line of action ended in the end of the world being uglier than they needed to be? Fine. Make do.
[email protected]_The_Sky: Maybe things would be better. Maybe they would be worse. Maybe someone else would have taken the same role. Maybe we would all be dead. You might not ever get a clean answer and that might be her justice against you

FlippinMad: Yeah

[email protected]_The_Sky: All this I’m saying? I feel like I can say it because I have my own regrets and misdeeds. I’m trying to own them just like I’m telling you to. I didn’t fucking spit on a girl when she was already having a bad day or make fun of a disabled girl on what should’ve been one of the top ten days of her life but I could probably make a priest’s jaw drop if I were the type to visit a confessional
[email protected]_The_Sky: I’m not giving you advice I wouldn’t take myself
[email protected]_The_Sky: Carry it. Take it with you and use it as motivation to make things better. We need a fucking lot of that motivation.

FlippinMad: I’m training to be a teacher

[email protected]_The_Sky: Then I hope 10x as much that you own this and learn from it

FlippinMad: Yeah
FlippinMad: Thats kind of the plan. I want to anyway but the school turned me down.

[email protected]_The_Sky: Anything else?

FlippinMad: When do I get to put this behind me? When do I get forgiven or get to forgive myself?

[email protected]_The_Sky: You’re asking me? Never.
[email protected]_The_Sky: I don’t believe in forgive & forget. Not for the things I’ve done. not for what others have done to people I care about. Not for what’s been done to me.
[email protected]_The_Sky: The moment we forget is the moment we allow those wrongs to be done again.
[email protected]_The_Sky: Forgiveness is the easy way out. Less to carry.

FlippinMad: That doesn’t seem fair

[email protected]_The_Sky: Villains outnumbered the heroes. Now heroes outnumber villains. Allegedly. People lost everything and they didn’t deserve to. Some people get powers and some don’t. Things are the furthest thing from fair.
[email protected]_The_Sky: Maybe it’s not fair that she’s gone and you’re here.
[email protected]_The_Sky: Maybe you will get the answer about what happened and you’ll feel better and that’ll be unfair because you shouldn’t.
[email protected]_The_Sky: Maybe the opposite is true and no good answer will come out and she’ll be forgotten without tombstone or anything else.
[email protected]_The_Sky: I expect we’ll get the answer and it’ll be an unhappy compromise between the two

FlippinMad: It doesn’t seem fair to yourself I mean

[email protected]_The_Sky: I’ll handle me. You handle you. You focus on making sure no girl you teach gets spat on, short girl from the photoshoot.
[email protected]_The_Sky: It’s easy enough to keep something moving once it’s already moving, but getting it going in the first place is hard. That’s the thing about second chances and fresh starts. It’s a (re)start. You gotta get things moving all over again, the second time around.
[email protected]_The_Sky: Let’s try to make sure things are moving in the right direction. Alright? Deal?

FlippinMad: Alright.
FlippinMad: Not quite the response I expected

[email protected]_The_Sky: I had the impression it’s the response you were asking for

FlippinMad: You might be right.
FlippinMad: Thanks

FlippinMad has left the conversation

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37 thoughts on “Glow-worm – 0.9”

        1. Master protocols too, as puns can/will cause a sharp increase of emotion, some anger, and some second-hand embarrassment

  1. This is beyond amazing. This is peak Worm, when a minor detail is fleshed out, and you just smile at the brilliance. In this case, the remorse Taylor’s bullies feel for breaking her, and their feelings of guilt for creating a monster she was. Even if she saved the world because of it. Perfect ending for a great beginning.

      1. Why not? She clearly regrets it. It eats away at her. It changed her outlook on herself and others. That’s about as remorseful as remorse gets.

        1. I don’t know. She seems to be regretful, but I don’t think she regrets it for the right reasons. In her little metaphor about pushing a rock down a hill and causing an avalanche, she wishes she didn’t push the rock down, but that wasn’t for the sake of the rock she pushed, which was cracked and broken, and left pieces of itself all along the slope. No, she is sorry about the destruction it caused. Similarly, I think Madison only regrets what she did to Taylor because of what Taylor did, not because of what she did to Taylor.

          1. There’s a scene in Worm where the Undersiders team up with some heroes (I don’t remember whether it’s against the 9000 or against Scion) and Taylor ends up talking to Shadow Stalker. Sophia acknowledges her part in setting Taylor on this path… and claims it was a GOOD thing, that it made her strong enough to do the things she’s doing now.

            I feel like if Madison was only upset about things Taylor caused, and not about how she hurt Taylor, then her response would be a lot closer to that- maybe not claiming they were the good guys, but claiming they were innocent in the moment. “We were just kids, we were doing kid things, we never imagined it’d affect so many people.” She’s not- she cites specific examples of stuff she did and presents it as horrible, as deserving of confession. She asks “what the hell was wrong with me?”.

            She doesn’t just present this as “Taylor did awful things because of us”- she presents it as “Taylor did awful things because we were awful to her.” The things Taylor did later made her reconsider her actions, but when she considered them she decided that her actions, on their own, were wrong.

            As for not mentioning the effect on Taylor… Alive or dead, Taylor Hebert is never going to give Madison Clements an honest answer to “how did you feel about me in high school?”. If Madison is smart enough to know that, and isn’t trying to answer for her, then I respect that.

          2. Is there even such a thing as regret for the right reasons? Point being, she feels regret, she acknowledges she played a part in destroying a person, and it eats at her, baffles her that the person she did these things to could’ve easily killed her for revenge, should’ve had even going by most accounts of said person. She’s intrigued by the fact that Taylor decided not to pursue her bullies even though she clearl could, and it would’ve likely gone unpunished, this has forced her to reevaluate her actions, brood on her part in the events that she helped trigger (even if indirectly), and finally she is in a hell of her own making because she regrets these things that demand answers, and she is getting none. In my opinion, her regret is justified, regardless of the origin of that regret, that she sit through GG’s justified abuse in their chat just so she could have her answer, not lashing back, taking it in knowing that it was deserved, it shows that it wouldn’t even feel out of place if she eventually eaned redemption.

            All that aside, it was a very strong close for the prologue, here we have one of the heroes who probably suffered one of the worse fates thanks to Taylor’s/the Undersiders’ actions, although indirectly, who had justification to slander her gratuitously. Yet when presented with the first-hand confessions of what Taylor went through at the hands of her bullies, weighed it all with stoic neutrality to tell this girl how horrible she and her friends had been, and that she deserved not getting her answer, her closure, if that’s what would eventually happen.

  2. Thanks for sharing a fantastic story, Wildbow. (=

    Dropping the date-time stamps from PM’s was a good call. It distracted from the main narrative without adding anything in return, and I’m sure it was a pain for you as well. =P

    1. Only candidate I can think of for Point is Vista. Not totally sure, though. My Worm-fu isn’t as strong as it used to be.

          1. In hindsight it’s really obvious who Point_me was, but at the time it seems we couldn’t put it together.

          2. I can see where you’d be confused since she briefly used the name Space_Squid, but she’s not Curious_Cephalopod (or any of the other associated accounts); she was in a chatroom that also included Weird_Insect, after all.

  3. Have to roll my eyes at the whole ‘Forgiveness is the easy way out’ bit. If it were really easy, everyone could go through life with as much effort as shrugging their shoulders. In reality holding on to grudges and anger is what’s truly easiest, because it takes far less effort to be stuck wallowing than to pull yourself out of it.

    1. Being angry at others is easy, but being angry at yourself? Really owning that you’ve done something unquestionably shitty and having to live with that? Incredibly hard. And even if you admit it, deliberately not making excuses, deliberately staying angry and disgusted at your behaviour enough that the lesson sticks is even harder.

    2. Forgiveness for others is hard. It means admitting you are wrong to still be angry at them.
      Forgiveness for yourself is easy. It means admitting you were right all along.

      It’s not quite that simple, but it’s a decent approximation.

      1. Agreed.
        When you think about it, the idea of forgiving oneself is really quite presumptuous. It is the place of the person who was wronged to forgive, and certainly not the place of the person who comitted the wrong int he first place.

        1. Hmm. We like to think of forgiveness as something that is given from one person to another, but I don’t think it is, really – it’s something we each model separately.

          Ultimately we’re the only ones who can decide who we personally consider worthy of forgiveness. A million people can tell us we’re forgiven for something but if we don’t feel it in our heart then that means less than nothing. Conversely, we can personally hold someone responsible for something – fairly or otherwise – and it’s not up to us whether they feel responsible for it or not.

          In some ways it’s presumptuous to forgive yourself. But in the end you’re the only person who actually has the ability to, and the only person who can ever truly make that call.

  4. Interesting prelude/postlude.

    It’s been two years, and humanity has somewhat rebuilt. There’s enough infrastructure for transportation and travel and Internet, but people are still suffering because there isn’t enough and because the worlds are a terrible place right now. Shards never change, I guess. (Except to break, apparently.)
    Humanity has survived, and so have a bunch of humans. There’s a megalopolis fifty million strong, countless smaller settlements, and entire Earths full of danger. We’re holding on. If the Golden Z can’t kill us, what can? But you’d be surprised what you can live through…

  5. I’m pretty sure PointMeAtTheSky is Glory Girl. She was noted as taking college level courses, she would be someone who had plenty of good reccomendations like we saw with her application to the college, and it would make sense that she has little else to do than be on PHO. It also fits with her application being rejected, due to her disability VIA panacea.

    1. I think it might be Laserdream/Crystal for all the reasons you mentioned and it also fits with the C name in the chatlogs.

  6. For some reason the “Next Chapter” button on the bottom of the page leads to 1.2, not 1.1. Not at the bottom of the chapter, but bottom of the page.

  7. I very nearly skipped this one, as I was tired of the guessing games with only vague hints. Glad I stuck it out, finally something concrete!

    It seems like Madison isn’t very far along her healing journey, and it’s tempting to pooh-pooh her “progress.” She still seems to be looking for vindication, however perverted it would have to be, more than forgiveness. She’s seeking a weak and inadequate sort of understanding, at best. But like an obese person sweating away on an exercise bike, however unlikely it seems that they’ll stick with it long enough to make a difference, sweating away on an exercise bike is ALWAYS something to be applauded regardless of everything else.

    Just roll with that “always” please, I know you can think up counterexamples, each less likely than the last.

    I like [email protected] here. She handled this as well as it could have been handled, and Madison didn’t come off as a straw person.

  8. I’m getting more and more Sure that “point me @ the sky” is TWlzcyBNaWxpdGlh. [Encoded in Base64]
    But I don’t remember if she survived the original story. I’m posting this before having read the rest of Ward, (which is at 5.y. at the time of writing this)

  9. “She apparently helped against the S9.”


    Now that is interesting. Given the witnesses, given the people she worked with or saved, given the Wards years…. All that, and coming from someone who met her, “apparently” is a peculiar answer.

    Doesn’t know? In denial? Obfuscating? Skitter’s role overshadowed by…? Most present were suffering brain damage about that time, but still.

    Very Significant Things happened around Skitter at that time. That the credit is qualified may end up reflecting on this [email protected] person.

    Glorious update, by the by.

    The reaction and perspective of [email protected] will probably mean more once we meet them properly. But Ms. Clements is the treasure. At once a very plausible portrait of shame and yet in the affected self-awareness I detect in the faint residual flavor of a personality capable of doing those awful things in the first place.

    1. Something hit me since reading this. (I couldn’t control the impulse to go back and reread a lot of Worm in the interim.) From a certain perspective, this bookends Taylor’s entire arc.

      When we first meet her, the first bully she deals with ‘on camera’? Madison Clements. Right there, in Mr. Gladly’s class and just after, we see both Taylor’s distrust of authority and how bullying cast a shadow across everything she does.

      The story returns again and again to Taylor’s emotional reaction to what she perceives as bullying, her attitude towards the bullies (and other ‘bullies’), and – through hints – the lives and motivations of the two primary members of the Trio. We get enough to connect the dots of Sophia’s story. We get a clear picture of Emma’s downward arc. But not Madison’s.

      And if bullying matters to Worm, Madison matters *more* than the other two. Because Sophia and Emma’s cases benefit from a sort of special pleading. Why did they bully Taylor so viciously? The conflict-craving alien monster roosting in Sophia’s brain might have deflected from the reality that real people do think and act like her. An interlude tells us a young teen’s best friend broke down after the death of a parent and not long before the former was rescued from traumatic violence by a vigilante schoolmate her own age and gender who happened to evangelize an amoral predator-prey-survivor ethos, all timed when her best friend was absent. The specificity of the scenario risks detracting from the banality of the evil it caused. Others have done worse with less cause. And that’s where Madison comes in.

      Madison is given no excuse. She just…. *is* this way. So what better vehicle to return the story to its core themes than the one pure reminder the text offers, that sometimes perfectly normal people simply decide to be cruel?


      Thank you.

      1. Holy cow @Admiral Matt. Brilliant breakdown of the bookend.

        Esp noting Madison as the normal person who decided to be cruel. Yikes. And yup.

  10. Seconded. I approve of all of the comments above. =P Good stuff, seeing reactions to Madison grapple! I’m too clueless to figure out [email protected]’s identity. Vista? Good, good stuff!

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