I have nothing better to do than just keep writing down updates.
Jasper and Beverly arrived this morning, and I can tell Julian is relieved. Beverly looked him over and in two seconds flat decided it was time for them to take a walk. Jasper on the other hand went straight to speak to the Sylvia, and I was just left there in the hallway by myself.
Cara isn’t allowed to come. Lana won’t let her. Julian literally begged, but Lana wouldn’t budge. I was ready fucking rage about that — potentially excited to fucking rage even — but despite Julian fighting hard to get her here, after they hung up he admitted that it was the right call.
“Lana can’t spare someone just to babysit Cara right now,” he explained when I furiously tried to figure out why he wasn’t as angry as I was. “None of us could stop her if she decided to slip away, which she absolutely will do if given the chance. And once she’s out there, someone will find her, and they’ll figure out their own kind of justice. She wouldn’t last six months.”
But Neal really might die.
I have no words to explain. I desperately want this god awful limbo to end but also every time I even tentatively look forward I feel like I stepped off the ledge, out of shallow water and am suspended over a chasm of unknown depth. Just my pale, kicking little legs over yawning darkness. That’s how it feels.
Jasper came and sat against the wall next to me when he was done talking to Sylvia.
“How was he?” he asked.
Sylvia smiled. “A little shit.”
Jasper managed a little smile. “Yeah, that sounds about right.”
I fucking hate waiting.
Celeste still isn’t here.
Witches are literally at his bedside 100% of the time keeping him alive, but Celeste isn’t one of them. Sylvia says that they’ve been more aggressive about getting rid of the fog now, more aggressive than they’re entirely comfortable with, but since his lungs aren’t doing their job anyways they figured what have they got to lose?
No matter how aggressive though, it’s still in there, and it’s still fucking eating him from the inside out. I don’t understand how we spent like two weeks exposed to fog and were totally fine, and then Neal is exposed for like literally 2 minutes and it’s going to kill him.
Celeste called me. ME. Not Julian, me.
“Where are you?” I demanded.
“I’m in Seattle.”
“Why aren’t you here?”
“Because there’s nothing I can do for him. I don’t have the magic to heal him.” She took a deep breath. “I have to stay here, because this thing is spreading. It hit Black Lake last night.”
I sank onto the floor.
“I don’t know how it got here,” Celeste said. “There were three cases in Seattle yesterday, and now it’s here.”
“I’m doing everything I can,” she promised me. “I’ve told Tilly and Georgia what’s going on and they’re taking every precaution, but I need to ask you what I should tell your mom.”
“The truth,” I said, obviously, not skipping a beat.
“How much of the truth?” Celeste asked, and I finally understood what she was really asking me.
“I can’t talk to her right now,” I said, on instinct, because facing all that right now, is just — like I just can’t.
“If she asks me if I know where you are?”
I have been so selfish. How could I not tell her where I am? How could I just take off like that??? I literally couldn’t even answer Celeste, I just sat there on the ground.
“Okay,” Celeste said, gently. “I won’t bring you into it at all, alright? I’ll approach her in a strictly professional way.” She paused for a long time before adding, “No matter how much you love someone, sometimes all you can do is the next thing you have to do.” I thought she was talking about me leaving Black Lake the way I did, but I think maybe she was actually talking about herself and Neal.
The witches downstairs in the labs think they’re on to something. They’re going to try it in the morning.
“I have to warn you,” Sylvia said. “We’re not certain it will work. But we can’t keep using this much magic to keep him alive.”
“So we’re out of time?” Julian asked.
Sylvia nodded. “That’s right.”
Julian took my hand and squeezed. “Then do it,” he said.
I’m gonna do my best to relay what she said they’re going to do, but I’m gonna be honest, I didn’t totally understand what she said.
Something I didn’t know until now: Hedgewood witches have been studying the fog for longer than just now. When Celeste arrived at Fog Town to help contain the fog, she basically took samples. Hedgewood witches have been fussing with it for a while, just to see what it is, since it clearly fucked people up.
Well apparently the samples they’ve pulled from Neal and the samples Celeste pulled from Fog Town aren’t the same. Apparently, this stuff shifts to most affectively attack the host. The fog we were dealing with at Fog Town all those months ago hadn’t shifted to best attack us yet. Hedgewood’s hypothesis is that that fog was attuned to a different kind of creature, and that’s why we weren’t infected as long as we wore masks.
Their other hypothesis, is that the fog shifts forms by eating our cells. So the fog those people at Infirmament breathed out is MUCH more dangerous than the fog they breathed in. That’s why it’s fucking up Neal now.
Something else I didn’t know until now: All those people we helped get out of Fog Town died in isolated government quarantine facilities.
I want to scream.
The treatment is essentially going to go in and try to confuse the fog. Apparently, the fog really likes to eat brains, but in general has to start with lungs first since that’s how we breathe it in. So, they’re going to literally feed the fog jelly brain and hope to confuse it. Remember jellies? They hide in your brain stem and start taking over your life? Also, when they’re not actively trying to kill you, they’re amorphous little balls of multi-colored jelly that sorta looks like the insides of a lava lamp?
Why jelly brain? Because apparently jellies are like, completely 100% different from us. There’s nothing similar about them and us, so we’re going to feed the fog a higher quality food, and when it changes itself to be designed to eat jelly brain instead, hopefully it will be easier to extract from the healthy tissue.
Plus, jelly is essentially ONLY brain tissue. They’re literally just little brains. I totally did not understand this before, but the reason they eat your brain is because they’re trying to BECOME your brain. And on top of that, if they lose parts of themselves, no big deal. They just grow more. So we can literally just take parts of these things, and it won’t hurt them at all. It’s like… I mean it’s the perfect solution. I can’t believe it.
Hopefully it fucking works.
They’re starting this tonight, but Sylvia was very clear that this is entirely experimental and not to get our hopes up.
We’re not out of the woods yet, and there’s been all sorts of fucked up damage to his lungs, but Sylvia thinks they can fix that, as long as they get the fog out.
They say he exhaled a TON of fog last night, but that was to be expected since they were feeding it a bunch of brains, but this morning he was barely exhaling any fog at all.
Friday, Slightly Later Morning
He coughed! He coughed on his own!!!!
He’s not exhaling fog anymore. He’s coughing like crazy and they’re keeping him sedated for now, but Sylvia says it’s working better than they even dared hope. Has this been the worst week of my life? Maybe. I mean I’ve had some bad ones but fuck, you know?
They’re starting some treatments for his lungs. Sylvia isn’t the one doing the actual magic for this, apparently they brought up Alia, who works in the greenhouse with the plants. We’re not out of the woods because this is super delicate work. Human bodies aren’t supposed to regrow like this, and we don’t necessarily respond well to magic treatments, but they think — hope — that he has a real chance.
I told Rook I’d call him back, so I’m gonna go do that and probably sleep for like a million years, but I think he’s gonna be okay.
Sylvia came out of his room at like 11 to find Jasper, Beverly and I still sitting on pillows across the hall. She could barely contain her smile.
“He’s awake,” she said.
Instant tears hahahahaha.
“We’re gonna start slowly,” she said. “He’s asking for Shiloh.”
Wrecked, I am wrecked.
Neal’s room was lit with twinkling gold witch lights. He was propped up in bed on his pillows with a mug of tea steaming in his hands. He grinned a glittering grin.
“Come on, fog wasn’t gonna be what got me, was it?” he said.
Julian was sitting in the chair beside him, with his feet up on his bed. He laughed, but I just cried harder hahahahaha.
“Oh, Shiloh, come here,” Neal said, laughing and scooting over in bed to make space for me. “I’m fine,” he promised as I climbed in with him. “See look?” He took a deep, even breath. “I’ve got the lungs of a new born baby.”
But he wrapped an arm around me and let me cry. “I’m okay,” he promised. “Have you heard anything from Black Lake?”
I shook my head.
“We have a cure now,” he said. “I’m fine, and they’ll be fine soon.”
But god that was close.
He’s asleep again. Sylvia made us all go to our separate rooms and get some sleep. We’re okay. Everything is okay. Literally I’m in a daze.