But no, the place was deserted. Not that an empty house was all that unusual, I guess. Back Before, it was a time I looked forward to. Now it just felt... disconcerting. Dizzying, even. Hardly surprising, in hindsight, but at the time, the utter alienness of my own home really threw me for a loop.
Michelle was more expedient than me, of course. While I was running my hands over old books and toys, almost reverent in my nostalgia, she was already digging through my dad's stash of useful goodies in the basement and garage (I made her wait for me to check the garage, because neither of us should really be outside alone; my house is in a pretty densely-populated suburb and not particularly near any wooded areas, but considering my front fucking yard was the site of our last Sighting... yeah). My dad guy is a legitimate hoarder, no question about it, but neither one of us will say no to a supply of tasers, rope, tools, camping gear, canned food, and a single handgun. No bullets to be found, oddly enough, and I have no clue what make it is, but we'll cross that bridge when we come to it I suppose. We also grabbed a lot of clothes. I probably don't want to know how Michelle has been paying for hotel rooms, but I'm pretty sure I've been wearing the same pair of jeans for longer than I'd care to think about.
After that we looked for personal effects. Specifically electronics. Essentials like my recorder and my camera we took. Other things were deemed less important though. My cell phone had run out of battery by that point, but we didn't bother trying to recharge it. We couldn't take it with us, and I knew I hadn't made any suspicious calls or texts, so we just left it there. I was a bit sad to leave my GPS behind, but the risks for keeping that thing were even greater than the cell phone, so we just cleared its history and turned it off. When Michelle found my iPod in a desk drawer, I took it out of her hand and slammed it into the wastebasket and didn't look at it again, for reasons that should be painfully obvious by now.
I was surprised to find that my netbook hadn't moved from where I left it, plugged in and open, on my bed beside the window. My desktop computer was similarly untouched; even its internet history hadn't been checked. That had been my biggest worry, honestly, that someone would think to check my browser history when they realized I was missing, and it's the main reason we decided to check back at all. But it didn't look like it had been touched. Nothing in my room did.
Nothing in my entire house indicated that I had even been missed.
I can't tell whether I should be relieved or disturbed. On the one hand, it saves me a lot of trouble trying to evade anyone who might recognize me. On the other... there's just this whole sense of wrongness to it. Still, it fits with what I can remember of the last few days before I left... I'm used to being invisible in the house and kind of doing my own thing, but right at the end there, no one would even look at me...
If it's another layer of protection for those left behind, then I guess I'm alright with it. Not much different than how it usually is anyway. I mean, I checked the photo albums on a hunch, in case my house was pulling some kind of bullshit Roxas-Twilight-Town crap on me, but I'm still in every one of them, so it's not as though I've been mindfucked out of existence (and god help me for even considering that as a realistic option, but dammit, what else is new). In all honesty, it's probably a good thing that no one's worried about me or trying to find me. It'll only keep them safer. So there's no reason for this to bother me at all.
But... just in case I was wrong, and someone did notice, I left a note on the kitchen counter for my mother. If she can't see it, that probably means she doesn't remember me. But if she does remember, then she should be able to see it, so at least she'll know I'm alive.
(Speaking of which, thank you for your interest, Jean, but I left the previous post in code on purpose. I don't mind sharing the contents of my message with you all - record-keeping is very important, when all's said and done - but if Mom can read my note, I don't want her googling its contents and coming across this blog. However, it's good to hear from you and know you're still around. Thank you.)
I cleared my desktop computer completely. All my files are gone, all my programs uninstalled. It's basically an empty machine now. I took my netbook with me, along with its power cord, an external battery, and all the flash drives I own. I refused to leave even the slightest hint behind. I also deleted my facebook account, my youtube, my various writing project profiles, and that stupid Gaia Online avatar I had made years and fucking years ago but still had my email address and could still be traced back to me. Anything I could think of, I got rid of. The only things left up are this blog, and a barely-used-but-still-useful Twitter account. Those two are my only means of online communication now. Anything else under my name is either a coincidence or a sick joke. I even took all my personal papers like my birth certificate, passport, etc. Also my debit card, which I plan to empty my bank account with eventually. Still haven't decided whether easily-lost cash is safer than easily-traced credit. I did buy a couple of go-phones yesterday though, for emergencies.
Transferring everything from Christian's car to my own was the one real indulgence I insisted on. My car's gas mileage isn't as good, and it's still attached to my name and all, which is probably dangerous, but if we're going to be on the run and traveling all over the country, I would much rather we were not using a stolen car to do it. Nothing to do with morals, really, just common sense. Being recognized as a missing person (who is, in fact, missing voluntarily, at least this time around) is much safer than being recognized as a wanted fugitive in two countries. Not to mention that, as bizarre, convoluted, and contradictory as proxy infrastructure appears to be, there is absolutely no sense in driving a car that may or may not be tagged with some kind of tracking device. You just honestly never know. I do plan on changing my license plates later though, if I can.
And... we left. Michelle took Christian's car and I took mine, and we dumped the former in a parking garage in Philadelphia and headed on our way. And I can't tell you how surreal it seemed, turning my back on my home for what was probably (hopefully?
I'll try to keep you posted. Not much else for me at this point.
I'll be meeting someone soon.