[In which Tristan has anxiety and nightmares about Black Friday and this somehow translates into Dave having PTSD]
Your name is Dave Strider, and you’re totally cool. Nothing’s out of place in Striderville. Shit’s chiller than the south pole in winter… except not, because you’re about to do a triple backflip off the fucking handle… or not. Either way, you’re freaking the hell out, and you don’t know what to do.
>Dave: Calm down and assess the situation.
You can’t calm down. Like you said, everything’s already chill. So maybe you lost a couple hours, maybe you were 46 minutes late to your day job, and maybe, just maybe you’re hallucinating that your customers are crocodiles.
"Nak! Naknak nak!" one of them shouts at you, but you can’t remember what it means, and you can’t think past the pain and blood from the bullet wounds littering your chest.
You know somewhere in the back of your mind that this isn’t right. The game is over. You’re not wounded, these aren’t crocs, they’re definitely not imps, and they are not crowding around to boil and eat you. This wound didn’t happen on Lohac anyway, and Jade’s not here. You’re fine.But you don’t register it, and you’re not fine. You’re hyperventilating and about to collapse, and you need to get somewhere safe.
When you finally manage to sequester yourself in the restroom, your legs proceed to give out. Your blood starts staining the floor. You can’t change time anymore. You’ve become just another Doomed Dave. Alpha you will come along and see your body and then do it all better. Woe is you. Suck it up.
So you do. Slowly, very slowly, you calm the fuck down. You take a few deep breaths, think past the dying pain, and the blood around you disappears. The floor is once again just dirty grey tile. You’re in your intact work clothes in the dingy bathroom of a music store.
You’re not dying.
"Dave?" one of your coworkers calls through the door. "You okay, dude?" It’s English, and you’re not in the game, and you’re fine.
You take a second to compose yourself, and then open the door. You give some witty comment to assure your coworker you haven’t flipped your shit, and then decide, perhaps, it’s best if you beg sick and go home. The clock is still ticking and that dog is still barking, and even though the song with the gunfire is over, your heart is still picking up pace and your chest is tightening so it’s hard to breathe.
>Dave: Play hooky
You don’t go home when you leave. Bro might be there, and if he attempts to strife with you in any way, you’ll probably break down. And there’s no fucking way you’re gonna lose your cool in front of Bro. You’ve spent the last ten years trying to prove to him that you can handle yourself, and you’re a fucking adult now.
Even worse, he might not be home, and then you’d probably go back to thinking he was dead again… He’s not.
Instead, you head to the playground at the nearby park… ironically. Right… Okay, so maybe it’s a bit lame, but it reminds you of a time before the game, when an empty home or the sound of a clock didn’t paralyze you or give you flashbacks of your own death. And you’d think after five years you wouldn’t be so hung up on this shit, but you are.
Your expression, at least, has remained safely stoic throughout this. No one else needs to know you’re on the verge of flipping your shit like pancakes at an IHoP. It manages to scare off the few kids that still play outdoors, and you settle yourself in the enclosed area at the top of the slide, out of sight.
The next time you open your eyes, it’s dark and your phone is going off. You’re pretty sure you didn’t black out this time, at least.