Love, Aster

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The following are a series of letters retrieved from the home of Kain Petrie after his disappearance; they are believed to be from known Amor Incrementum member, Aster Leigh. Kain's side of this correspondence has not yet been found, but what's here may give us an insight into some of the inner workings of Amor Incrementum.

Level 499, July 20th
Kain,

I've finally arrived at Level 499, and it's more beautiful than I could have ever imagined. Glowing wisps float about, lighting up the way, and the plants here look absolutely breathtaking. I could (and sometimes do) just lose myself walking along the halls. I hope you can join me here soon, I miss you so much. Of course, I know you're very busy, but I'll try to write to you as much as possible. Although I suspect this letter will still be pretty short by the time I'm done with it. I'm not really used to writing long letters, but I'll try to think of more things to write about for next time.

I guess there is one more thing I could write about, which is, of course, the upcoming ritual. I must confess that I'm kind of scared, Kain. I know I was picked for this but like, it's a lot. I know you always tell me to think of it more as "fulfilling my purpose" rather than death, but I just don't understand why I was the one who was picked for this. I guess Laura thought that I would be strong enough to do it, and I'll try not to let you or her down.

I've been thinking a lot about where I would be if I hadn't met you. Probably dead, I guess. Sorry, that's pretty morbid, but you did save me. You know that. Aside from actually caring about me, you gave me a purpose, and I can't thank you enough. I remember when I first got the news that I had been chosen for the ritual (of course I remember, it was less than a month ago, haha), and I just broke down crying. I've been thinking about what you told me a lot lately, about how I was lucky because my life was going to mean something, and about how so many people live their lives without really affecting anything. I don't know if I would be able to deal with all this if you hadn't said that, so thank you.

Love,
Aster

Level 499, July 27th
Kain,

I really appreciated your letter back, I swear I've read it a dozen times, and it hasn't even been a day since I got it. I do wish we could talk in person, I miss our conversations so much. I guess this is the best we can do though. I think my last letter was a little much, haha. I mean, I spent half of it lamenting about how nervous I was for the ritual, but I want these to be a little more casual, like the conversations we used to have as we looked up at the stars (god, I miss you so much). So, I guess I'll talk about a memory that I've been thinking about more and more lately, about my grandfather.

I might have mentioned this before, but my grandfather smoked like a chimney. I swear he was constantly going out for cigarette breaks. I remember when he finally quit, how happy my family was. I was too young then to really understand the weight of this, but I remember helping move the furniture out of his house because it smelled so badly of smoke. He quit when he was in the hospital, I guess he had to since they didn't allow cigarettes in there. I imagine it must have been hard for him just to quit so suddenly like that. I know my mom, who didn't smoke half as much as him, quit shortly after, and it took a lot of work.

Anyway, the memory I've been thinking of was the last time I ever saw him before he died. We were alone, just on the porch and I think I was talking to him about my college plans and all that, I remember looking up at the stars while we talked, and it was just really nice. At the end of the conversation, he asked if he could have a cigarette. It's not like he had been smoking this whole time or anything, I think he just knew that he was dying and wanted to smoke one last time. I didn't end up giving him a cigarette though, but I don't know. I guess I wish I would have. Like, he was dying anyway, you know? I don't know why that memory bothers me so much, but it just makes me feel sad. Like, why couldn't I have just made him more comfortable? My mom picked up smoking again after the funeral.

It's so weird to remember what it was like before I fell into the Backrooms, and all those people that cared about me who will never know what happened. Just thinking I ran away or died and never getting closure. Or maybe they all just moved on with their lives, I mean, how important was I really to them? I guess I'll never know.

Love,
Aster

Level 499, August 3rd
Kain,

I hope you're doing well. I've actually been doing pretty good myself, though I'm obviously still pretty nervous. One nice thing about all this is that I get a lot more time to think. I end up spending a lot of my time walking around the level, lost in my head.

One thing that I've been thinking a lot about is 'people'. Like, everyone has their own story, their own lives. Each of the one trillion people you'll never meet has a story that can fill dozens of books, and there's just something amazing about that, but also sad. Like, there's so many people that I'll never know, even if I devoted my entire life to finding out as much about everyone as possible. It really is sad that so many people die each day, and with them, so do their stories. Their unique perspectives can never be known.

I've also been thinking about memories, which I guess coincides with that. Like, I don't even remember most of my own story. My old life, back before I fell into the Backrooms, it just feels almost like a dream. Like, I can picture my old house that I spent over a decade in, but the fine details are fuzzy. So much time was spent doing things that I can't even remember, and like, what was the point of it? If nothing I did made an impact, even on myself, then did I just waste two decades of my life? I guess that's part of what drew me to Amor Incrementum, you know? Just, feeling like I had a purpose again. And of course, through Amor, I met you, and I think that makes those two decades of meaninglessness worth it. I'm almost happy that I won't live long enough to forget you. That last sentence is a bit grim, I should probably cut it off here.

I do have one more thing for you. I tried writing a poem, but I don't think it's very good. It feels— juvenile? By the way, I'm not asking for you to send me a "no, I thought your poetry was very good, Aster", but I know you will anyway, haha.

Anyway, here's the poem:

I can hear you through the letter
I can see you in the wind
But how I long to feel your touch
Until the stars fall from the sky

Love,
Aster

Level 499, August 10th
Kain,

I'm glad you liked my poem. I definitely need more practice though, but I guess it's kind of late to start with that, isn't it? If you can't tell, I've been feeling— sad? regretful? I'm not sure, like, I know this is the right thing to do. And I know this is probably the most important thing I'll ever do, but it just sucks, I guess. It sucks that I won't be able to live the rest of my life. Like, I know it's an honor, and I'm very thankful, but I almost wish I hadn't been chosen for this. I don't know. I guess I'll just try not to think about it.

I feel bad sending you only a single paragraph, but I just— It's difficult to write anything with the knowledge that I won't be here in a week. All of my thoughts and stories just feel like they don't matter, I guess. Like, if I won't be here to experience anything, then what does it matter what I leave behind? I don't know. Maybe I'll feel better tomorrow.

Love,
Aster

Level 499, August 17th
Kain,

I've been crying all week. I guess I've finally registered that I'll never see you again. Your last letter is it. And the last time I saw you in person, that's the last time I'll ever get to hear your voice. And I'm scared. I'm so scared. I know that it's important for me to do this, but I'm afraid of death.

I know this is the last time I'll ever get to write to you, and I really want to make it count, but whenever I try to think of things to write, my mind just goes blank. I think I'll finish writing this tomorrow morning. I think it'll be nice for me to write for a bit since, of course, tomorrow's the big day. God, it's so painful knowing that I'm going to die tomorrow. Like, I wish I didn't know, I guess. I wish that my death would come suddenly because since I know, all I can do is wait, and I'm so keenly aware that every second that passes is one I won't get back.

Level 499, August 18th

I promised I would finish this in the morning, so here goes. I had a dream last night where I was back home. Not my house, but I was out of this place. Out of the Backrooms. I was driving in a car— it was that red Sab my mom used to own. She called it "Gloria". I've always found people giving their cars names so weird, but anyway: I was driving the car down that big highway that I always used to take to work. It felt normal, I guess. Comfortable? It's been so long since I've been there, so I think the details weren't quite right, but I didn't really notice. It's so weird that everything seems normal in dreams.

About half way through it, I noticed that you were in the seat next to me. I was so happy because I hadn't been able to actually talk to you in so long. I tried to speak, but you just stared straight ahead like you couldn't hear me. I quickly become more distressed, trying desperately to get your attention— I just wanted to speak to you one last time.

During this, I wasn't paying enough attention to the road, and I swerved in front of a semi. The crash is difficult to remember. It was so loud and chaotic, so many things were going on at once. And then, it was quiet. I got up from the rubble, and it was dark out, the road lit only by a few streetlights. I tried looking for you, but you weren't there. No one was there. I know I was injured, but I didn't feel any pain, and then I just walked down the road as my world faded to white.

Then I woke up.

The weirdest part of it all is that I wasn't scared at the end. It just felt right.

I think I'm finally ready for the ritual. Thank you for everything.

Goodbye, Kain.

I love you.


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