Emmie Mears: You Have Comrades In This Trench

Emmie Mears is the badass author of the Ayala Storme series. Please behold their guest post, which they wrote to let you know — you are not alone.

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You need to get out of bed.

Roll for initiative.

For some reason, you’re stuck in the perma-one.

But let’s look at this from a different angle.

***

You’re probably not like Ayala Storme. You likely don’t have bright orange hair or violet eyes that clash with it. If you do have those eyes, it’s probably not because you were born a Mediator—you’re just a super rare earthling.

You’re probably a norm. A Muggle, as it were. Stuck on this rock with all seven billion of the rest of us.

But you might have something in common with Ayala anyway.

***

You don’t know exactly how it picks you. Sure, maybe it’s in your genes. Science is pretty certain of that. But why you? Why your consciousness, your soul, your essential Platonic you-ness?

Just like Ayala’s eyes, you get it when you’re born. It might not wake up for a long time. You might go years or even decades before you see your first demon.

***

When Ayala is seconds old, the doctor scoops the mucous from her mouth and waits for her to yell. Clips the cord.

At that point it’s already done.

She gets taken away from her mother and brought to a place where everyone will come face to face with demons. As soon as she can lift a stick, they teach her how to fight with a sword.

Is that how it felt for you?

That’s how it felt for me. I learned early that there were demons out there. They invaded my home, sunk their claws in my family. They lurked in my room, stalked my sister and me both until we felt we’d never be rid of their slime. They don’t make a detergent strong enough for that.

Maybe for you it was different. Maybe you were older when you saw your first one. It could have been any number of things or none. When they linger long enough in your periphery, you start fighting just to exist, even if they don’t go directly for your throat.

***

Ayala kills her first demon when her age is still in the single digits. It’s a little, stubby thing. It makes her feel strong and scared and serious…for a while.

You understand that, don’t you?

The first one you kill feels like a triumph until the second one rears its head.

The second one is always bigger, always quicker. Any arrogance you let soak into your skin scrubs away when it appears.

You’ll probably beat that one, too. And the next one, and the next one.

You’ll learn that there are lots of different kinds. Some spit at you with corrosive venom. Others shoot you full of quills. Some just have claws and teeth, and those are bad enough. Some jump up and land on your back, heavy, pendulous.

You start to notice that some kinds scare you more than the others.

Ayala understands that. She learns early on that behind every demon is another one, waiting.

***

How do you fight when that is the truth? How does she keep picking up her sword, first as a terrified kid, later as a gawky adolescent, finally as a resigned adult?

How do you?

Ayala knows in every molecule of her being that her world is ever only inches away from sliding right into hell. Not even sliding. Becoming hell.

Even though she knows there are thousands of people just like her out there, picking up their swords day after day to stab the same slime over and over—even though she knows that, she believes she’s in this alone.

It’s easy to think that. So easy to feel it, and when you feel it, it feels true.

It feels true because we see people we love lose their lives to the demons. Sometimes people we see every day. Sometimes people we know through their art.

It feels true because of the endless scroll of social media. How could we feel anything but small in the face of a fragile world so often led by fear?

Ayala see that too.

But believing that we fight alone doesn’t make it true.

***

Ayala’s not the only person who sees demons and fights them. In her world, plenty of people don’t see what she sees.

The same happens here.

Telling Ayala to just buck up and look at the good in her life? She’ll laugh in your face. Telling her not to worry? She knows damn well the danger is real.

You know that too. It’s just harder when the demons you fight only show their faces to a relative few.

There’s no secret to surviving this fight. It gets harder every time we lose another one of the good folks. When you’re knee deep in the shit, it makes you sink a little bit more.

The best weapon we have, though, is one another.

I know, I know. Ayala’d say that’s cheesy too.

Here’s the thing: Ayala’s world needs her. Just like this one needs you.

Those demons you’re fighting? You’re not fighting them alone. They only come out in the dark, and they do it so we can’t see the soldiers around us. It’s their single best tactic, isolating you from your comrades.

Fuck that.

Fuck that right to all six and a half hells.

I’ve fallen on some black days these past few years, deeper still the past few months. One look at my social media feeds tells me I’m far from being the only one, but still so many times, I don’t know how to reach out a hand.

So I’m asking you: do you know that we’re here?

For anyone fighting demons, that’s one of the biggest lessons to learn. It’s not a one time deal, either. We learn it once, we forget, we learn it again. Sometimes with some bruises to show for it.

You don’t get to choose your genes, your brain chemistry, which traumas hit you and when. You don’t get to choose those things. Ayala doesn’t get that choice either.

If we can’t see the others fighting their own battles around us, what we can choose is to raise our voices. Let them hear us scream defiantly into the faces of our demons.

A couple weeks ago, I had a night where I wasn’t sure I’d see the morning.

I shared this on Instagram:

Depression is a motherfucker. I’m trying to be open about it because if you’re fighting the same monster I am, you deserve to know you have comrades in this. When you’re in the shit and depression blurs your vision and you’re up all night trying to hang on against the claws dug deep in your heart and mind, it’s hard to remember that mere inches away in this battle there are others. Depression isolates. It lies.

This is my face. I fought all night, and hands of friends held me up, and when dawn came, they cradled me.

You might think you have no one to do that for you. It’s not true. I may be fighting my own battle, but you can reach out your hand and we can fight together.

Ayala’s story is complete, but it’s not over. When I wrote these four books, I didn’t consciously realize I was writing a big metaphor for depression, several hundred thousand words long.

She’s never alone in her fight.

Neither are you.

***

Ayala Storme’s series is complete at four books, countless butts, a lot of really cute bunnies, and heaps of hellkin—she’s also queer. She’ll fight you if that’s a problem. In her world, they’ve got bigger frahlig demons to fry.

All four books are now available at your choice of snazzy retailer. If you want a chance to win this entire series in paperback (signed!), audio, or ebook, enter here. (terms and conditions on page).

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Emmie Mears is also M Evan Matyas. You can call them Evan or Emmie—they’ll answer to either. Their pronouns are they/them. Evan is about to puddle hop over to Scotland with their partner and two cats. If you want to catch an exclusive Stormeworld short story, check out their Patreon [patreon.com/emmiemears]. There’s a whole world of exclusive content over there that you can get your paws on for a dollar a month. It helps Evan keep writing and fighting.

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