|Volume||Into the Forest|
|Starts||May 23, 2014 (22:16:03)|
|Ends||May 25, 2014 (21:09:18)|
|Previous chapter||Better Forgotten|
|Next chapter||The Bath|
Chapter Quote Edit
"Istalqual means nothing. It means Americans can't speak Arabic." - Phil Klay
The chapter opens up on May 23, 2014 at 22:16:03 in Los Angeles, California. Despite both of his parents already being dead, Anwar can't shake the feeling that his mother is going to call him. It seems Mefisto's prank has finally died out, as the Ibrahims are not receiving anymore calls. He is still unsure of Mefisto's true motives for pulling that prank in the first place. Astair has been talking to her mother on the phone for the past hour.
The twins will not go to bed. Anwar keeps finding Shasti and Freya running around the house. Anwar allows it because of it being a Friday night. When Anwar goes into the bathroom to shave, he notices bumps on the left underside of his jaw. He does not think it is acne and considers making an appointment with a dermatologist. There is also a rash on his scalp, which is more troubling to him. He thinks it is his body responding to the high level of stress he has been feeling.
Anwar goes into his office and uses Spotify to play music. He chooses artists he knows his parents were fans of. He thinks back to a time when he was still a young child and he spotted a ship in a bottle, placed on top of a bookshelf by his parents. He started trying to climb the bookshelf but Shenouda (Anwar's father) entered the room and stopped him. Fatima (Anwar's mother) also entered the room and Anwar continues recalling the love and care they showed him. Anwar then stops reminiscing, wiping the tears off of his face, and starts looking at all of the bills the family still needs to pay.
A few days ago, Anwar finally managed to get Cataplyst-1 to run. He uploaded the new build to Enzio's server, but nobody at Enzio ever messaged him back to let him know they got it or what their thoughts are on the new build. Anwar notices that, in all the e-mails exchanged between him and Enzio, nobody actually used the word "game." When Anwar was able to get the program to run, it didn't seem like a game. Whenever he tried playing the "game" that is Cataplyst-1, there was nothing for him to do. He couldn't move, there were no other characters or objects to interact with, or anything like that. Anwar thought that it could be an intentional part of the game's design, but he had an alarming feeling that the program was doing more than just providing visual output. Thousands of portal prompts, which Anwar had to disable, kept trying to access invalid IP addresses. Anwar thought that maybe the game was supposed to be an MMO. Another bizarre feeling Anwar could not shake was that he had seen this code, or at least pieces of it, before it was Cataplyst-1.
Anwar gets up to leave his office. After he turns off the light, he looks back and sees that his printer tray is full. When he checks to see what printed, he finds a copy of a paper Mefisto had written years ago. Anwar goes downstairs and finds Astair still on the phone. He brings her a bottle of champagne and she finally gets off of the phone. Anwar knows that Astair's mother has always hated him for as long as they've known each other but he tries to not let it bother him. He and Astair drink the champagne and Astair tells Anwar about the new topic she has to write about for her college paper.
On Saturday morning, Xanther is awake before Anwar is. She is at the stove, preparing more formula for the cat. Anwar finds it strange that whenever Xanther tries to feed the cat, most of the milk from the bottle ends up on the floor. It is almost as if the cat has no interest in eating. Once it's done, Xanther puts the cat on her shoulder and cleans out the bottle. Freya and Shasti enter the room to tell Anwar and Xanther that "people are dying" in Isla Vista. On the news, the family sees that this report is concerning the shootings caused by Elliot Rodger.
On Sunday, Anwar wants to take the family to the beach. Xanther protests, saying she does not want to leave the cat by itself. He and Astair both make Xanther go with them anyway. They go to Zuma Beach in Malibu. Freya and Shasti run along the beach while Astair runs after them. Anwar goes into the water and Xanther mopes behind everyone. Soon, the whole family goes into the water and it seems like Xanther is starting to have more fun. She begins moping again when they go to a farmers' market. After a while, Xanther disappears. The others find her again, standing by a fish stand and holding a bag of ice to her forehead. The family drives to Taymor's house next, and Xanther starts having fun again when she gets to hang out with Taymor's daughter Roxanne. Xanther and Roxanne go outside and visit a few nearby locations such as a hotdog stand, an ice cream cart, and a fortuneteller who goes by the name "Zanazan Shazam!"
When Xanther and Roxanne return, Roxanne walks up to Anwar and says she thinks Xanther might be sick. Once the Ibrahims are back in their car, Anwar feels Xanther's forehead. It feels perfectly normal. As soon as they get home, Xanther begins to act fine again. Anwar begins to notice the pattern. He wants to ask Xanther why she keeps claiming to be sick whenever they leave the house and immediately stop whenever they return, but instead he asks her about the incident at the animal shelter where the cages flew open. He asks if she experienced a seizure during that moment. She says she did not. She does tell him about the machine she saw, and how it is used to kill the animals with red cards. Anwar asks if she's the one who opened the cages. Xanther says she didn't, or at least she thinks she didn't. Xanther asks Anwar if he has ever wanted something really badly but never got it. Anwar responds by telling her the story of when he was younger and he tried to reach for the ship in a bottle. Xanther compares that story to herself and the cat. She says she is the ship and the cat is the bottle.
The chapter ends on May 25, 2014 at 21:09:18.