The 616 Diaries: Entry 8 by Kevin Kauffmann
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September 11th, 2019, 5:22 PM

This has been an especially weird day for me. Part of that is because every day is weird for me, now, but it didn’t help that it was Sept. 11th. People get super sensitive around this time of year, for obvious reasons, but it doesn’t change anything for me.

Yeah, I know, it’s callous as shit to say that, but it’s been eighteen years and it didn’t affect me in the first place. It’s not like I approve of what happened, it’s just… I’m too far removed. And it was only, like, a few thousand people, so in the grand scheme of things we’ve had some worse days in human history. It’s just a perspective thing for me, I guess.

Again, I’m not saying I’m cool with it; I’m just trying to explain, well, why what happened ended up happening.

So when I was getting ready for work this morning, I didn’t even think about how it was Sept. 11th or how people were going to be acting at work, or how the news would be covering everything related to what happened that day. I was thinking about Renee and how we had hung out the night before.

Of course, the reason I was thinking so intently on the night before was because I had to hide everything from her. I had to hide how the dreams had come back, how I was still seeing 616 everywhere; it was almost torture. There was a point when we were watching TV where a 616 was clearly visible on the screen—for almost two seconds—and I had to bite the crap out of my tongue just so that I wouldn’t ruin everything. I can’t obsess about it in front of Renee, even if it’s on my mind constantly.

She fucking knew, though. She could see it on my face. Hell, she noticed the number first and then turned to watch me. It was so unfair and I was squirming underneath my skin—since I couldn’t actually do anything in the real world—but Renee just patted my arm and burrowed herself further into my chest.

It wasn’t permission or anything, but at least she knows I’m trying. The smile on her face was enough to convince me of that.

That still doesn’t stop me from having the thoughts and the urges, though. No matter how hard I’m trying to not let it affect me, to not talk about it when she’s around, it doesn’t stop the number from haunting me. And now with the dreams, there’s no chance I have any sort of peace. Coincidences are one thing, but when it starts to affect my mind, bring back things that I never wanted to see again, it really has become something serious.

I really tried to not tell her, to keep this as a blog-only kind of thing, and I know she appreciated it. Eventually, though, it was time to go to bed, and I may have strongly implied that I wanted to be alone last night. It was because of the dreams, I swear. I’d give anything to be next to her and at peace, but I just can’t trust myself anymore. The absolute last thing I’d ever want is for Renee to see that, and even then it would be just because I’m selfish, that I’d think she’d somehow help me out of it.

I didn’t even have a chance to think up a reasonable excuse about work or how I had a cold, Renee already knew about the dreams and why I didn’t want to have her near me. I was such an idiot that I didn’t even think that my girlfriend, who’s obviously worried about me, would see through my grand ruse.

Because she read my last post before even coming over last night, which was obviously going to happen.

She told me to stop, that it wasn’t healthy, and I agreed. I told her that she was absolutely right, she usually is, and that I definitely didn’t want the dreams to come back. I especially… I really didn’t want to become dependent on them, either. The crow thing was weird, but feeling like the nightmares were like home… that was what really threw me for a loop.

Eventually that came out when Renee and I were talking, and I could see that she was actually fighting back tears. Somehow, I got her to be so worried that she almost cried in front of me. I knew that was the last straw, that I shouldn’t put her in that position, and I apologized and I bowed down before her and did everything I could to make sure that she knew that I didn’t want this. That I do want to stop.

She accepted it, and she also accepted that I needed to sleep alone last night. There wasn’t a fight—she agreed with me that I needed to figure things out—and she left with a smile and a kiss like usual. We’re good now, or at least I think we were when she left.

Because it’s pretty obvious I haven’t stopped.

I dreamed again this morning, but it was nothing like those last two. This time I saw just a normal day at work—a boring meeting like usual—and I honestly felt cheated. Felt like I didn’t actually get any rest. Work gets my daylight hours, damnit; it shouldn’t get the rest of them, too.

So I was kinda pissed off when I went to work. Well, until I saw my first 616. Instead of trying to put it out of my head, follow Renee’s advice, I just got excited and giddy. Completely forgot that I was supposed to be toning it down, supposed to stop the nightmares from coming back. Then I saw my second one, it was on a billboard ad that just got put up, and there was just no way to recover. I was fully in the mindset that I was supposed to be finding 616 again, and even though it was just a Catalytics ad urging me I should talk to my doctor to see if “Ultrasil is right for me,” it was nothing more than a canvas for my favorite demonic number.

After I pulled into the parking lot for work, which incidentally has two daily 616 instances along with another cousin—none of which I count for my daily totals since I see them every day and they don’t change—I was actually in a pretty good mood. Was even swinging my arms and whistling. It took me a long minute to realize I was going to the tune of “Sympathy for the Devil.”

My subconscious is seriously getting out of control. When it comes to the dreams it’s right there in front of me, but even my normal behavior is getting to be troublesome.

But yeah, got into work, shaking my head and smiling at my behavior even though I know it’s a problem, and it took me a while to realize that it was a little inappropriate to be smiling. Most people were a little more somber than usual, and then I started hearing someone’s radio station talking about where they were on Sept. 11th, what they were doing to remember the people who died, all that usual business.

I suddenly felt really out of place. Most of my coworkers were very respectful about it, wouldn’t get too stuffy or anything, some were even joking around even as the radio DJ kept talking, but I realized that I, well, there’s no way to make this sound better.

I didn’t care. I don’t know why, I don’t know what suddenly clicked in my head, but I started to get annoyed that people were constantly talking about 9/11—talking about how important it was—but to me it was just another day. Those three-thousand plus people who died almost twenty years ago meant very little to me. They were just ghosts that got paraded around every year so the American Populace could feel like we were decent people. Hell, I started to think that it was a good thing that they died since we have such massive overpopulation, and that 9/11 shouldn’t be as important as it was, and I started feeling envious for 616, which is certainly the superior number.

Then I realized how fucking insane and psychopathic that was. Who the fuck am I to start thinking that the day didn’t matter, that the number was inferior when people fucking died? It was the wrong focus, the wrong perspective—the wrong thoughts—and I got very anxious. My questions about myself, about what was going wrong… it stopped being about 616 entirely. I started to wonder who I was, to think like that; to think that the loss of thousands of civilians was just something I could write off as a pointless statistic. What flaw in my character was responsible for me to lack empathy to that extreme of an extent?

Even then, that wasn’t the worst of it. That’s what I started obsessing over, of course, for the four measly hours I was working. Eventually it got to the point where I kept working just so I wouldn’t think about it anymore, wouldn’t come to the natural resolution that I’m apparently a monster in human form, and I kept my head down and worked straight through my lunch break. I was running away—I had to since I was in public—and only now that I’m home and alone am I really letting it all sink in. It’s still rough, delayed as it is, and I almost wish Renee was here to help me through it.

But I don’t want that. I want to make sure she never meets this monster. I don’t want her to know this side of me, even though I’m putting it out for the world to see and I know that she is probably reading this. She’s probably the only one beside Andrew, and I’m sure they both think I need more therapy after this. I know I need more therapy, even though I probably won’t go, but… maybe this is just my version of it. This is the one path I’ll accept freely and without question, this voluntary sort of confession.

And goddamnit, I keep getting distracted. I’m rambling, musing when I shouldn’t, and it’s getting me further and further away from my points every time. I continually dive down the rabbit hole even though I know I’ll crack my neck in the process.

But I’m not done. Something else happened today, something which is the entire point of this post, of why I’m so mad at myself, why I need to stop even though it seems like I can’t stop myself. It does mean something, my relationship to 616, and it shows up even when I don’t want it, even when I want to it to be far, far away.

Jim called me to a meeting toward the end of the day. Wasn’t anything major, we were just talking about one of the corporate accounts and I spent most of the time scanning every document for 616 or the cousins(I found one 616 and four of the others, by the way). All in all, there wasn’t much different from any one of the other meetings that Jim drags me into. If it wasn’t for my obsession with 616, I’d zone out just like I always did before. Honestly, I was zoned out, so I didn’t realize when we switched conversation topics. I didn’t realize it when the tone shifted. I certainly didn’t realize it when someone said six hundred and sixteen and I didn’t even look up from my paper before snapping twice and throwing up the devil horns, which is just something I apparently do now.

When I heard people stop talking and I looked up to see five horrified faces, I realized very quickly that I did something I shouldn’t have done.

See, apparently Jim wasn’t prepared for me to snap and approve of the six hundred and sixteen employees that our affiliates had lost that day. Or the six hundred and sixteen families that were forever scarred by an attack on our nation’s soil. Jim wasn’t the type of person who would expect me to throw in my hat with the terrorists, because, well, he’s Jim. He insists that I call him Mr. Roth even though I’ve known him for years, because he’s all about propriety.

And by snapping in approval like that—going so far as to throw out my index finger and pinky in a sort of demonic “thumbs up”—well, that’s something Jim had considered well outside the acceptable range of human behavior.

I did what I could to salvage my job from the burning wreckage of my lapse in sanity, and Jim’s enough of a pushover that I was able to convince him, but there’s no way in Hell the other three that were sitting next to us… well, let’s just say that they won’t miss me if I don’t go to the Christmas party. I told Jim it was all about the 616 thing, tried to make him think it was an in-joke between us, but I know it only just barely worked. They didn’t send me home, didn’t threaten me with a trip to HR, nothing really happened, but whatever good will I had earned over the years was fucking gone.

Jim actually pulled me aside afterward, asked me if I was doing alright, if Renee and I were doing okay, and it was actually pretty endearing. It was odd, obviously—we’re not friends and I don’t think I would ever pretend at it outside of work—but it was weirdly touching. That was until he got to brass tacks, talking about how my work was getting a little shoddy, requiring someone to double check it once some of the numbers didn’t work out. It was just a couple decimal errors, but in my line of work that’s kinda major. That he didn’t chew me out more was actually a surprise.

Figured out quickly that it was all because of how I look these days. I had noticed it myself, how I was starting to care less and less about appearances, but Jim had finally worked up the nerve to say something about it. Told me that it used to be that I’d shave every day, I’d look clean and presentable, but he was noticing scruff on my face. He was noticing the dark circles under my eyes. Even noticed before I did that I’ve been losing weight, and not the good kind of losing weight.

Apparently Jim wasn’t as oblivious as I thought.

I explained it away, told him that I was just having some personal problems, that I didn’t mean to do any of this, that I would get better and not do stupid fucking shit like snap in approval for people dying(paraphrasing, of course), and it convinced him. It’s easy to convince him. He patted me on the shoulder and walked away, telling me to sleep it off and chill out with a couple brewskies(yes, he actually said “brewskies”). Basically did the boss thing before going back to his dismal existence.

I avoided getting fired, but I can’t imagine that I don’t have a red flag next to my name now. And that, ladies and gentlemen, would normally be the last straw. My employment is certainly something I need to put before a number with sinister implications.

Here’s to hoping that I can.



I'm sure we've all been... well, not there, but you get what I mean. See what happens when tries to give it up.