If You Are Seeing This...



Scene Title If You Are Seeing This…
Synopsis … then I'm gone.
Date March 7, 2020

There were seven precious packages entrusted into the strangers' care. Each one marked with a name and location for delivery. Two were packages, but the rest manila envelopes. He didn’t know what was in them, but he knew they were from a dead man.

When Benjamin Ryans placed them in his care, he had said…

”You’ll know when.”

That he did.

He knew when the news showed what happened in the aftermath of Detroit. It was certain when they showed one of the airships exploding and it was announced that Benjamin Ryans had died a hero. He had saved countless lives, they said.

It was a somber duty, but his to bear. For an old friend.

Standing on the doorsteps of the Bastion he delivers the last of them. He’d been all over the Safe Zone. The package was addressed to his daughter, the envelope another. Both are gingerly placed and his duty is done and a burden lifted from his shoulders.

He says his farewell under his breath. “Rest in peace, Benjamin.”

When the packages are opened, each recipient finds a disk.

And on those disks…. A message.

I hurt myself today

To see if I still feel

February 15, 2020

The Praxis Ziggurat

The video starts with only the view of a buttoned shirt, blurred due to someone standing too close to the camera, “Damn these new devices…” the voice has the familiar growl of Benjamin Ryans. The camera unfocuses and then clears before he steps back a few paces and looks into the lens. Tired blue eyes narrow at whatever he’s looking at, it is obvious he is fiddling with the settings. There is a satisfied nod before Ben moves to sit in a chair at the end of the table.

The man on the screen looks worn and haggard, like a man with the weight of the world on his shoulders. He looked…. Tired.

I focus on the pain

The only thing that's real

Clearing his throat first, Ben finally speaks up. “If you are watching this, it means that I’m dead.” It sounds like a simple fact, he’d be gone. It was clear, he knew what would happen.

Ben looks away from the camera and down at his hands, folded together and resting on the table. There is shame clear in his expression. “I don’t expect any of you to ever forgive me for what I did, I-I deserve it, but I can only hope you can understand why I did it.”

The needle tears a hole

The old familiar sting

Letting out a heavy sigh, Ben rubs hands over his face before continuing. His voice rumbles low with weariness, “When I made my decision to go it started out in my head as a way to get intel and stop him, but in the end it was purely selfish why I stayed. I know that now. I needed to know who I was before the Company wiped out everything I was. When Adam showed up at the door… I realized at that moment that I had started to remember my true past. What I’ve learned since has been eye opening. I remember everything. Who I once was.” He looks down with regret over his next words, “Know that the person you all had known, that wasn’t me. A pieced together collection of false histories and wiped memories, courtesy of the Company’s finest manipulators. People I trusted.” Teeth gritting at that last bit, making the words growl, while fingers curling into fists. Before the anger could settle firmly into his features, he lets out a heavy sigh and gives a slow shake of his head. Not the time for it. “Adam was never the man that the Company made him, either. He wasn’t the monster you knew.

Try to kill it all away

But I remember everything

“I remember the man Adam Monroe was.“

Brows furrow, his gaze turning distant, clearly lost in memories. “I only wish you all could have known the real me and not what they made me. But as my mother used to say ‘If wishes were horses, beggars would ride.’”

What have I become

My sweetest friend

When Ben’s gaze wanders up to the cold, emotionless camera lens, there is true regret… pain… deep shame. “Nicole. I don’t expect you to ever forgive me for locking you and Pippa in that cellar, but.. I… I saw that look in your eyes… I knew you would have never let me leave there without you and Pippa, even if it made both of us fugitives.

“I..” Ryans feels the sharp pang of regret then, it is written all over his face, the way his eyes close and brows twitch downward. “I couldn’t do that to our daughter. This isn’t the right life for her. She needs you. Not to have you watching her grow from the other side of a glass partition or hanging from the gallows and raised by strangers. A child will always need their mother. And I know I have no place to ask you for anything, but please,” Ben pleas with the camera, “don’t blame my kids for my actions. All they will have left is each other and Pippa.” Here his voice cracks and he is forced to clear his throat again to free it of the ball of emotions blocking his words.

Everyone I know goes away

In the end

“I know that you will raise her well. I’ve made a video for her too, for when she is old enough to understand. I just—” Ben’s voice betrays him again, this time he looks away and blinks his eyes a few times. This was indeed a different man, “I will always love you for giving me the joy of one last child. And I pray you both find happiness and peace going forward.” He goes quiet for a moment, clearly shifting gears.

And you could have it all

My empire of dirt

“Huruma.” Ben looks at that camera then with a small, sheepish and apologetic smile. “I know you must be confused, hurt, and angry by my actions. I don’t know what I could even say, but I am sorry.” Fingers rub at his forehead as he continues. Leaning forward on his elbows, Ben focuses on his hands, this was clearly difficult, but it needed to be said, “You deserve so much more than this life has given you, Huruma. One of my biggest regrets is that I couldn’t be more for you.”

I will let you down

I will make you hurt

Taking a deep breath, Ben forces himself to look at the camera again, the smile he levels at it is sad. “Even so, your friendship greatly enriched my life and in ways I never expected. You helped me realize that even the enemies of my past could grow and change… even be one of my best friends.”

Ben lifts a hand and presses it flat to his chest over his heart, “You will forever and always be close to my heart. A friend I didn’t rightly deserve, but the one I needed all the same, even if I didn’t realize it at the time.” The smile returns, gentler and full of emotions he’s never really had since she met him. “I hope you find what you are looking for in someone worthwhile and that you find happiness. I look forward to when I will see you in the next life, my friend.”

I wear this crown of thorns

Upon my liar's chair

“Megan.” Ben starts giving a nod to the camera. “I know it’s been awhile since we talked, our lives got so busy and then I… yeah,” he sighs out. “Anyhow, I miss those nights when we’d sit and talk… or more you’d talk and I’d listen.” He gives a soft rumbled laugh, fingers scratch at one side of his shadowed jaw, “I’m glad we’ve never had unfinished business. We both knew where we stood with each other.”

Ben sighs and leans forward towards the camera, “I have an important favor to ask, even though I have no right to ask anything of you. Still…” There is a sadness to him, an actual show of emotion. There is guilt in those blue eyes as he looks at the screen. “Please. Watch over Huruma. I’m worried about how she’ll take this and she’s come so far from the woman that tried to kill me.” A hand rubs at his shoulder where the bite scar sits.

There is another soft short laugh, “Who am I kidding, I know you will. Take care, Megan and thank you for your friendship.”

Full of broken thoughts

I cannot repair

“Lulu, my mini me, ever since that first day I held you….. in that moment, I knew there was nothing I wouldn’t do to keep you safe.” Ben gives a short humorless laugh, “I haven’t always been good at it; but I’ve always done my best. Even when you’d break my heart.”

Turning his attention fully to the screen, there is a shine to his eyes. “You and your sister are and will always be the best of me. I know you will protect our family. But, Lulu… Lucille…. Don’t forget to live for yourself. Be kind to yourself and remember you’re not perfect. Both of you could learn from that.” The smile that he gives the camera is a soft one. “One last lesson, I took too long to learn… you are not alone and there is no shame in asking others for help. I can only imagine you are headed for greatness, Lulu. I’ve already seen it in you. Both of you really.” There isn’t just pride in his voice, it can be seen etched in his weathered features and preserved for all time. “That’s why I want you to have my journals, Lu, my life is in them. Keep them or burn them, it is your choice, but I hope you read them before making your decision. And the house is yours. Delia got the old place, so this one is yours.”

Beneath the stains of time

The feelings disappear

“And Delia,” he says her name with a shaky breath. “You have always been your mother’s daughter. Even when I lost her, you were there to remind me of her,” Ben gives a quiet laugh and a small shake of his head, “including that temper. I guess that's why you and your sister fought so much, hmm? Probably the reason we argued so much. I’ve never forgotten about you taking a bat to my garden.”

Ben’s smile is gentle at the memory, “Nothing you ever did made me love my little princess any less.”

The amusement slowly sputters out as he continues, “You know what else you got from her? Her heart, I’ve seen it. It’s buried in all that trauma, part of which is my fault, but it’s there. I hope you can find it again. I am…” Benjamin’s breath hitches and he is forced to look down, folded hands moving to block the view of his anguished face. “I am so proud of the woman you have grown up to be and I am sorry that we have grown apart. I will never forgive myself for that.”

The old man sniffs and thumbs at the moisture at the corner of his eye, “Deli… Lulu… You will always be my little girls and I love you both. Please, never forget that.

You are someone else

I am still right here

There is so much pain in Benjamin’s face as he utters the name, “Bradley, I had so much I wanted to discuss with you, but it seems I’ve missed that window. So I’m sending a letter, not by my hand, but that of your father. He sent it through from his world with photos of your family. You have a brother there.” Grimacing, Ryans shakes his head and when he speaks again there is a sense of anger behind it. “You should have grown up with a father, Brad, but that was taken away from both of us.”

Ben looks at the camera like he was looking at Brad, willing him to understand that, “I would have never abandoned you and your mother. September was my childhood sweetheart. I loved her, deeply, despite what our parents felt… but we didn’t survive the loss of you…. The version of you here. He’s buried in an unmarked grave next to your grandfather.” Features shift to anger quickly as he mentions the grave. “I’ll never forgive the Company for taking my memories of you away, especially when you arrived. You were scared…” his voice fails him, forcing him to take a moment, looking away from the camera. “I…. ah…. Could go into all that, but…” He looks off camera with worry. “I don’t have time, Lucille has my journals.” He doesn’t offer the obvious, that it was written down in those pages. “I know we haven’t been close, but you are still my son and I love you. I’m proud of everything you’ve done and I wish you only the best this life can bring you.”

What have I become

My sweetest friend

“To Ingrid, Benji, Kincaid — wherever you are — and,” Ben chuckles, “Calvin… my honorary grandson. I can’t even begin to explain how proud I am of all of you.” The old man can’t help but smile with that pride. “You are all Ryans’ at your core. You gave up everything to go back and change the future for family. I know it wasn’t exactly the life you expected… but take pride in what you accomplished. I have no doubt your parents are proud and miss you every day. Don’t forgo the family you have here, we might be different, but you are still a part of our family.”

“I wish—”

Everyone I know goes away

In the end

The words he wants to say stick in his throat and Ryans’ voice cracks with emotions. Taking a shaky breath he looks away from the camera, blinking a few times before blindly reaching out and the feed dies on the soft choke of a man on the edge of crying.

It is only a moment before Benjamin shows up on the screen again, his eyes reddened, but he seems stoic. Taking a deep breath, Ben finally picks up where he left off. “My only wish I could see where my children and grandchildren’s lives take them. I also pray that maybe… one day you will forgive me. I love you all and know when my time comes, I will be thinking of you all.”

And you could have it all

My empire of dirt

The tape moves into static and it seems to be done, but just before it can be shut off a new video pops up. “Nathalie, how could I forget you.” Clearly, this tape was made before the old man even knew she was gone. “I owe you my life and the extra time I was given on this planet. In that time, you became a part of that family.” He looks down at the hands folded before him on the table.

“Because of that, I feel it is time to offer you some wisdom.” Ben looks up again and smiles gently at the camera. “Be patient with Epstein. He will have a horrible time showing it, but he loves you. You’re his daughter. So give him a chance. We fathers… we’re bad at emotions, so you’ll need to make the first steps. I’ve known your father long enough to know, Epstein is a good man. You’ll see.” Ben levels a fatherly smile at the camera, “I’m glad I got to know the person you are and I know that Lucille will be safe with you at her back. Good luck out there, Nathalie. You’re a good kid, your father will see that.”

I will let you down

I will make you hurt

The message for most ends there, but for two disks… there is another message.

For those two, the tape flips back to static for a long moment, again giving the impression that he’s done. Then the screen clears to an image of someone close to the camera. “Alright, old man,” Benjamin steps back from the camera and settles into his seat. “You and I both know that you are a crafty son of a bitch. You’ll be alive out there somewhere. So this video is for you…” Settling back in his chair, he grips the edge of the table with his fingers. “First off, thank you. If you hadn’t drug me out of that helicopter and brought me back…. I would have died at 16 and never had such an amazing life. It’s been an adventure.”

Ben shakes his head and looks off with unfocused eyes, “I mean… look at those kids. Each one someone for me to be proud of. And they exist because of you, old man. Just as much your legacy as they are mine.”

If I could start again

A million miles away

“Not just that, but you were the first person who showed me I wasn’t alone in this world.” There is a soft huffed chuckle. “You remember when I showed you what I could do?” Ben lifts his hands and focuses on them, flexing his fingers. “I kept that part of me a secret for so long, thinking I was some sort of freak, even if I did sneakily use it to get through basic.” A small, secret little smile touches his lips.

“Anyhow, I won’t get overly sentimental. I just really wanted you to know that no matter what happens or however they paint you when this is done,” Benjamin shifts his attention to the camera. “You will always be my brother and best friend. A part of my family. And don’t worry… we’ll see each other again, cause…

I would keep myself

I would find a way

“I’ll be waiting on the other side to greet you, old man.”

Rest in Peace

Benjamin Allen Ryans
Born December 21, 1952 * Died February 27, 2020

In the end, he died for nothing… but went out doing the right thing.

Thank you all for many years of memories and being a part of this man’s family.

You all helped make him the man he was.

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