Notes: An assignment for my English class. Sort of. The title is from a Relient K song. Although the song is about love (and God), the lyrics are a lot like Adam - obsessive and terminally confused. I own nothing - most things belong to Robert Cormier, and comes from I Am The Cheese. If you recognise anything else, I don't own that either.

Over Thinking

'Maybe it's all fake.'

I wasn't really going to say that – it sounds ridiculous even to me – but it's too late to take it back now. Brint looks up from his papers to stare at me.

'What do you mean?'

'Maybe this – this whole mess with the clues and everything – maybe it's all fake.'

He doesn't understand me. I can't really blame him for that, I suppose – even I don't understand me half the time. Oh well. I inspect my nails to distract myself, because – lo and behold – Brint is still staring, and it's getting very unnerving. I decide to try again.

'Like Plato's Allegory of the Cave. Or the Brain in a Vat thought experiment.'

'I see,' Brint says. His face is blank. I don't think he gets it. I don't think I care. Brint is like a robot anyway.

'There's no way we can know if this is real,' I tell him, and he gets this weird look in his eyes, like he's scared that I'll do something. I won't, and he should know that by now, but...

'This is real.' Brint takes my hand and gives it what he probably assumes is a reassuring squeeze. He has big hands, and his palms are rough and cold and clammy. I wonder if he usually sweats this much.

'This is real,' Brint repeats when I don't say anything. I don't like him holding my hand, so I try to free it from his grip without acting too panicky.

I feel panicky, though; my palms are just as sweaty as Brint's are, and my tongue feels like it's been glued to the roof of my mouth. And he isn't letting go of my hands.

'Are you feeling all right?'

I might have appreciated the question if it hadn't been asked so clinically, but it just feels wrong, and it makes the panic even worse.

'No,' I manage, thinking Oh God oh God oh God without knowing why, and I have to swallow before I keep going, 'I think I want to go back to my room now.'

'Of course,' Brint says in a neutral voice.

I have forgotten what I was trying to explain. Somehow, I don't think it matters.

x.x

He woke up in the middle of the night and realized that he didn't know who he was. He had the nagging feeling that this wasn't anything new, but it didn't make him feel better. There was a panic attack waiting to happen – he could feel it like ice in his veins – but he felt detached from it all the same, like he had been suspended from his body and was watching himself from a third-person perspective.

Who am I? He stared at the long shadows on the floor, trying to gather his thoughts and think, for once.

Adam Farmer, he thought, as he lay there, unmoving, I am Adam Farmer.

'But,' he said, and his voice seemed to echo in the otherwise empty room as he – ironically – remembered one of Shakespeare's books, 'What's in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet!'

He sounded raw and desperate, almost crazy, even to his own ears. A dog barked in the distance, and for one terrifying moment, the panic threatened to overcome him again. He grit his teeth, forcing himself to be calm.

Think. Or better yet, remember. If he could remember everything, then maybe he wouldn't have to take any more medicine. Maybe he could leave, and never come back. He took a deep breath, and then -

Adam Farmer plunged into the murky sewers of his own mind.

x.x

He remembered in bits and pieces.

... He needed to get to Rutterburg – his father was there...

... There was the ache in his legs as he pushed his bike up another hill...

...'Aswell. Fairfield. Carver,' read from a map like a Boston train announcer would, 'Fleming. Hookset. Belton Falls ... New Hampshire - Vermont...'

... 'Do you know who the bad guys are?' and the old man's eyes are blue and serious...

... 'Ace!' the short girl with the red hair cried out...

... Her hat looked like a flowerpot, but then again, his wasn't much better...

...'You planning to blow up Carver, New Hampshire?'...

...'How's my fine nephew doing?'...

...'It's our song.' ...

...Someone was laughing, and the smell of lilac hung heavy in the air...

'... He couldn't remember any Farmers ever being in Rawlings...'

... The Gray Man...

... Then there was Brint's voice; 'Paul Delmonte.'

And, despite the fact that it felt like his brain had imploded in a white hot haze of Pain, all the pieces fit.

It felt a lot like freedom.

x.x

The light is almost, but not quite blinding.

I blink and look around, trying to make sense of wherever I am. Wherever it is, it's very ... bright. I find myself wishing for sunglasses. I'm standing in a grassy field that keeps stretching on for as far as I can see, and the green is almost as intense as the blue, cloudless sky.

'Adam.' The voice is coming from behind me, but I don't feel like having a panic attack, so it's all right.

'Yeah?' I don't know what else to do, really. It's a nice voice, soft and female, and I know I've heard it before, even though I can't place it.

'Aren't you coming?'

I turn around. There's a blue door – even bluer than the sky – standing right in front of me, and it's open. It isn't connected to a house or a wall or anything, but somehow I know that if I go through it I won't be coming out on the other side. And there, standing in the doorway...

'Mother?'

x.x

Even after the door has closed, there's a smell that is almost, but not quite like lilacs.

End