Pre-Statement[edit | edit source]
John, Basira, Melanie and Daisy are investigating Hill Top Road. The house appears uninhabited and is covered in cobwebs. They find nothing on the ground floor and there is no basement. As they head upstairs, they hear John's voice playing from a tape recorder, it is the opening of case #0122204, the first statement he recorded on tape. Underneath the tape recorder is the statement of Annabelle Cane, written on official Institute paper.
Statement[edit | edit source]
Annabelle Cane addresses John specifically, and begins her statement musing on the nature of free will. She says that free will is an idea people only ever ascribe to themselves, and to their gods. With any other animal, people talk about training or instinct, maybe even personality. Humans never ascribe free will and choice to animals. But she wonders if even humans actually have free will? People all have circumstances that drive them; scans show that the human brain makes decisions long before the conscious mind registers them.
Annabelle asks if John has ever read War and Peace. The central thesis is that the tiniest, most insignificant factors can control the destiny of the world. Tolstoy ultimately decides that if all the millions of factors that weigh on our choices were known, then all could be foreseen and predetermined. But the human mind cannot comprehend all those factors, and in that ignorance lies the truth of free will. Free will is just the name humans give to the fact that we can never really see everything that controls us.
But, Annabelle says, that is not the free will question bothering John right now. His problem comes down to the question of whether or not he is choosing to continue reading his statement out loud. He did not mean to, did he? He told Basira and Melanie that he would glance over it and report back, that he might record it later. Annabelle asks John to consider, when was the last time he was able to read a statement without instinctively hitting record and speaking it out loud? Is it instinct, habit, or a compulsion from The Web or The Eye? She knows that John has been confused about the summaries he gives before he reads a statement. How does he know what a statement is about before he has even read it?
Annabelle does not know the answer. She has just been watching, occasionally interfering to keep John safe and keep everything "on track". But she knows John has been worried about his choices, so she left a statement to reassure him that his actions and choices have all been his own. He is not being controlled any more than gravity controls him when he walks. He is influenced by new instincts and desires, but everything he has done has been of his own free will, if he chooses to believe in such a concept.
Annabelle, owing to tradition, decides to give the story of her life. She was born into a large family; she was one of the youngest children. She became very good about manipulating her family, instigating fights if she needed her siblings in trouble. She says she was far better at lying and manipulating than a child her age should have been. She did not believe she could be happy with her family, because there was too much about them she could not control. Attempting to strengthen her influence, she decided to run away, believing that her absence would destabilise the entire family unit, and allow her to take her place as the most important child upon her return. She intended to stay away for 2 days and 2 nights, and packed a backpack with supplies and left.
She chose to spend her 2 days at a chips shop down by the beach, about 20 minutes walk from her home. There was a small stretch of sand that was always oddly empty, and she says there was something strange about the area. It is still a mystery to her why the place was so shunned, but on the street just above the stretch of beach was the old chips shop. The shop was abandoned, and had been as long as she could remember. She does not know why she decided to hide there.
She arrived at the shop at sunset, and the area was abandoned. She went inside the shop, where it was warm and dry and covered in dust. She crawled under a counter and fell asleep. She awoke to the sound of tapping, seeming to come from one of the back rooms. Curiously, she went inside the room. After the fact, she was baffled by why she would have gone into the room. Inside, there was a young woman seated at an old fashioned loom. Her arms and legs were covered in what Annabelle would later realise was track marks, the threads of the loom were laced through her skin, and dozens of spiders ran up and down the threads and scurried through her skin.
The woman looked at Annabelle, and then looked up at the ceiling. Annabelle followed her gaze, and though she does not say what she saw on the ceiling, it made her flee back home immediately. The most Annabelle will say about what she saw is that when a spider reaches a certain size, "it is often not entirely made up of spider anymore." This incident is what caused Annabelle to have such a terrible fear of spiders that she would eventually end up volunteering for the arachnophobia study at Surrey University (MAG 69).
Annabelle wonders how much free will was involved in that incident. She did not feel as though she was being controlled, and yet the Mother of Puppets got the result she no doubt wanted. Annabelle developed the fear of spiders that eventually led to her becoming an avatar of the Web. She speculates that perhaps none of it was the doing of the Web. Perhaps it is only our fear of manipulation and losing control that projects the Mother's influence on everything that happens. Perhaps the Mother is no more active than The End, simply sitting and revelling in the inevitable cascade of paranoia as those who fear her cocoon themselves in red string and theory. Or maybe Annabelle is even yet manipulating John, telling him exactly what he needs to hear to act as the Mother wants him to. She ends her statement by telling him not to go to Hill Top Road again.
Post-Statement[edit | edit source]
John does not know whether Annabelle watching the Institute and interfering with things is reassuring or really bad. He is glad to have another ally allegedly on their side, but does not like being important to the Web. He does believe that Annabelle was telling the truth about his actions being his own. What he has done to the people he took statements from, he did because he wanted to do it. Because it felt good. But he is glad to know that he can stop, even if he does not know how. He admits that he does not really want to.
John is really shaken up by the statement and his personal revelations, and says he needs to go lay down. The recorder clicks off.
Continuity[edit | edit source]
- Related Entity: The Web