Daniel Comes To School

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Daniel is not religious. In case you haven’t figured that out already by his behaviour in church.

Neither are my parents actually. Apparently Mum used to believe in God, but not anymore. And now it seems like she rejects religion completely, except for that one commandment where apparently we have to obey our parents. All that religion is in her eyes is a moneymaking industry preying on the vulnerability of the masses.

I’m not sure about my father, as I haven’t spent enough time with him to know this. Like me, he’s interested in the history part of this, but he doesn’t go to church. I know very little about my father, when I think about it.

Daniel summed up his beliefs to me in class. “I’ve never really believed in a God,” he told me. “And since…” His voice trailed off, indicating the Delirium we both lived in. “I can’t really fathom the idea of a man who simultaneously controls several worlds at the same time, each with their own set of ethics.” He grimaced. “It’s a bit two-faced when you think about it. Saying that you must be kind to one another to one set of people, and telling the other that it is your right to commit sin.”

“Maybe God’s got serious personality issues?”

“Or maybe there’s several Gods, and each is struggling to take control of the infinite worlds. Earth and Delirium are controlled by separate gods.”

“Interesting…does that mean that our god took us there so that we could dominate that world?” I wrinkled my nose.

“That would be a cruel god.”

“Silly Daniel…who said that gods had to be nice?” I returned.

Miss S is the most awesome teacher ever. Not only does she spoil us rotten, but she’s also probably the only teacher who I’ve been honest with about the true nature of my blackouts. She often misses lessons, and she confided in me why; she has epilepsy, and she’s always worrying about losing control during class.

One time, after a particularly bad episode, she came to me after class and asked me about my condition. And that was when Daniel, at that moment standing behind Miss S, told me to tell her.

Why? I frowned at him.

“You need to confide in at least one teacher,” he said. “In case something bad happens and Willis or Flash or anyone else aren’t there to help. And if Kaya loses it…”

I just closed my eyes. The problem with people is that they believe they’re doing the right thing, but ‘the right thing’ doesn’t mean the same to all people. And I did not know what ‘the right thing’ would be for Miss S. She was cool, don’t get me wrong. But would that prevent her from informing my parents?

“Okay…think of it this way,” Daniel said. “Say that Kaya does lose it. Would you want her to be near when that happens?”

No one’s safe, I thought.

“Doesn’t matter about that.” Daniel anticipated my train of thought. “If she knows, she can protect herself. And others, if may be.” He came to my side and put his arm around me. “I think that she might be able to understand at least a little bit.”

So I told her. And she didn’t tell anyone else. Or my parents. She asked what my blackouts were like, and I gave her the basics; essentially, I went into my own little world, and that during that time, I had no awareness of what happened in Reality. At one point, I accidentally slipped up and mentioned that I was often attacked by shadows, which lead me to talking about Daniel. I didn’t dwell too long on him, but Miss S seemed satisfied with the knowledge that he took care of me. I believe that she’s under the impression that Daniel’s my own age though, which I suppose is okay.

I do wonder occasionally what her reaction would be if she could see Daniel as he was; a grown man who, in any responsible adult’s eyes, had nothing more than an eyepatch, smooth words and an extremely bad record when it came to babysitting. Not to mention a potential alcohol problem.

“Don’t forget badassery.”

And a very, very large ego.

Anyway…Daniel was with me in Religion when we were discussing Natural Law, where both of us got to listen to how much less violent it was compared to the world we struggled to survive in.

Concerning Genetic Selection…

“I want my child to be attractive as possible,” Bell said. Instantly, the room was filled with boos, and in my case, laughter. “C’mon, if anyone says that ‘looks don’t matter’, you, are a liar,” she claimed. “That’s the way society is; success is largely contributed to good looks and charisma, and if that means that my kids would be happy, then that’s what I’d want for them.”

“Kind of got a point there,” Daniel said. When I looked at him, he went on. “Think of Delirium. You’ve seen Christan’s friends. What can you make of them other than the fact that they are, in their eyes, beautiful?”

“Not that much,” I admitted. “Still, this is Reality.”

“Is it really that different?” he retorted. “People in the spotlight are beautiful, the rest are largely ignored until disaster strikes.”

“Like suicide?”

“That’s one example. There’s no need to think along those specific lines though…”

“Still…accident, murder, environmental disaster…they all have one thing in common.”

“Hmm…”

“I get what you’re saying though,” I continued. “Physical beauty is an advantage in worlds like ours. It gives you the influence you need to succeed, and from there…”

“The rest relies on your own skills though,” Daniel concluded. “Influence is fickle; it only lasts if you make it last.”

“Mmhm. But I still think it’s wrong to genetically alter your child…how different would I be if I was designed by my parents.”

“Very.” Daniel frowned. “I wonder how different I would be…”

I didn’t know what he meant.

Concerning materialism vs common ownership…

“Common ownership worked for the Helevians,” Daniel said.

“But they were the most beautiful civilisation in the world. And they weren’t corrupted with manipulative bastards or naive little boys who are encouraged to indulge themselves in anyway they want.”

“Oh, there were manipulative bastards,” Daniel confirmed. “It’s just Nereida and her father were wiser than Christan is.”

“I miss Nereida,” I told him.

“You two didn’t interact much though,” Daniel pointed out.

He was right about that. Whenever I encountered Nereida in Reality, she’d just watch me, before vanishing without a word. The rest of the time, I saw Nereida through Kaya’s eyes. “Still. It would be nice if Delirium had people like Nereida still,” I said wistfully.

“She once said we were alike.”

“How so?” I frowned.

He grimaced. “I have a feeling that she may have been referring to our…sense of humour.”

“Oh yeah…” Another reason why I wish Nereida was alive; she was an even bigger pervert than Daniel. And perverts are wonderful people.

“She was strong,” Daniel continued. “Everyone talks of how Kaya suffered the most. But Nereida suffered too. She lost her father. And then the espers killed her childhood friends one by one, and then…”

“Whatever must be done must be done with grace,” I quoted. “Till the end.”

“On one hand, people are more likely to cherish the objects that they have earned,” Miss S explained. “On the other, peace is more likely to be maintained if everyone owns the same thing.”

“The thing is, it’s human nature to always want more,” Bell argued.

“But isn’t peace more important?” Payne asked. “I’d rather everyone was able to get the same than own my own things.”

Daniel scoffed. Payne was one of those goody goody students, and she looked down on me for my occasional disinterest in class. She was, as my mother put it, one of those people who prayed for the poor loudly in church, and kicked them away on the way out the door. One day, she was the lucky one to discover me coming out of the bathroom with blood on my face. All I can really remember of that specific encounter is that she spent the whole time trying to get the truth out of me, while it was up to Daniel to make sure I washed my mouth out and rehydrated. At the end of it, I told Payne that she couldn’t help me and that she would immediately regret hearing the truth when I told it, much to her frustration.

Concerning Stealing…

“It’s wrong,” Payne-in-the-ass said automatically.

“But what if you really needed something but you couldn’t afford it?” I retorted.

“Like what?” she scoffed.

“Oh, I dunno. Food, medicine, clean water,” I proposed. “What if I were homeless and I had to get out of the cold or I’d die of hypothermia?”

“That’s what your parents are-”

I nearly laughed at that. “You’re missing the point. If you were stuck out in the cold, and the only option would be to squat in an empty store or house or something, that would be stealing. So is that wrong?”

Daniel was grinning. This argument went on until it was time to go to Maths, and he stayed behind with me to pick up my books. “You’d make a great lawyer,” he told me.

“God no.” I made a face. “I would be stammering non stop in front of a judge.”

“Not really. You can hold your own in an argument. And you can figure out the inconsistencies in what people say.”

“Not immediately though. I need time to think about things. Lawyers need to be on their feet all the time, processing everything immediately. If I did that, I’d go-” At that, I sigh. “Well, I guess I’m too late already.”

Miss S smiled at me as I walked out. “You did well,” she said. “I like the way you think.”

“Really?” Before I could continue, she had already vanished.

“Is it really too hard to believe you’re good at something?”

“I’m sorry, what am I good at again?”

“Thinking.”

“…maybe.”

Beasts Inside

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“Shit!” The monster that stabbed me got a ball of heat to the face, causing them to scream out. “Get him out of here!” I yelled to Daniel. My sight blurred and I knew I had only seconds more to live. So I let go of my body once again.

The monsters crowded around me, stabbing my mangled body repeatedly, taking no notice of the shadow. I shrieked at them, grabbing them and flinging them at eachother so they’d all go flying towards the wall. “Run, you idiot!” I told Daniel, my voice more animalistic than human.

He hesitated before pulling Papa Willis with him as he ran. “What about her?” Willis protested.

“I’ll be fine!” I yelled, hurling away the monsters that attempted to follow. “Get both your asses out!” I ordered Daniel. He nodded, and pulled Willis away, till both were out of my sight.

I looked back at the monsters coming towards me. “We’re doing nothing!” I heard one yell. “We were lied to! This isn’t a human!”

It was easy to kill them all, too simple to break them in my hand. But then I realised that no more came. We were still on the run, and yet, I heard no more approaching my way.

Oh no…I was such a fool. How many were up the other end, hunting Daniel and Willis?

I didn’t know what to do with my body though. I couldn’t leave it there…but touching it would trap me inside, and I was still dead. Or at any rate, dying. I wasn’t entirely sure. What use could I like that? But they would no doubt take it the minute I abandoned it to go after the two men running for their lives.

So I chose the option I valued more. I flew down the halls, desperately trying to sense them. I couldn’t see or hear any other presence following or approaching me, the two of them were far ahead of me. It was only because I recognised Willis’ scent that I was able to follow it, and soon, I could not only smell him, but Daniel as well. I wasn’t far…but this didn’t reassure me.

Then I heard a scream that could only be human. That’s when I decided to charge, smashing through several walls in the process in an almost cartoon-like manner. I had less than a second to take in the scene; Willis was lying in a pool of blood, and Daniel was barely keeping the freaks-with mouths stretched out like a crocodile’s- off him, frantically striking against two swords. He caught sight of me and his eyes widened. When a monster swiped at him, and he barely missed the edge of the sword, I flew at him and crushed him against a wall. “You don’t-” I punched him in the nose, “Touch-” I grabbed his neck, my claws wrapping around his throat, “Daniel!” With that, I jerked it to the right and let him fall to the ground.

At the same moment, Daniel’s sword was entering the neck of the other one, black blood spraying everywhere. “That was close,” I said softly, as the monster crumpled below.

“Are you alright?” he asked.

“Willis,” I reminded him.

Immediately he flashed around to my friend. Willis’ eyes were closed and he was barely moving. “I’ll be fine here,” Daniel told me. “Get your body back, now.”

“I’m probably dead…”

“Just go.” Something in his voice told me that I had to go now. So I went along the trail of rubble, when the whole mess hit me at last. It was far from a good time, but nothing stopped me as I crumpled to the ground in a quivering heap. I don’t know how long I was there, shaking, but when I finally looked up, someone was standing above me.

My face was smooth and emotionless. My eyes revealed nothing as they gazed down upon my shadow. Then my lips turned up into a sinister smile, as my hand was lifted to be inspected by my cool, silent stare. After a moment, Cat Madigan walked away, towards the pathway that my shadow had created.

I grabbed her by the arm. In that moment, it felt insanely hot, as if she were made of metal than flesh. But I didn’t re-enter my body. “Who are you?” I demanded.

She looked at me. “I’m Cat Madigan,” she said. But her voice was like a toddler’s, giving her away completely.

I twisted her arm and slammed her to the ground. “Don’t give me that,” I growled. “Get out of my body now.”

She smiled again. “Make me,” she said in that toddler voice, as the five letters lit up. There was no way I was backing down.

I had no time to think as a ball of fire surged towards my face. I nearly flipped backwards to dodge it, and I swiped her leg, causing her to fall to the ground. But she wasn’t fazed. Giving another maniacal laugh, she suddenly launched into the air, hovering above me.

Okay, that’s new. “I know you’re not me,” I snarled. “So why don’t you just tell me what you’re trying here?”

Another smile. “Does it really matter?” she asked, still floating in the air. “Well…you’ll be dead soon anyway, I suppose.”

At that I laughed, and when I saw her flinch, I felt even more pleased with myself. “You can try,” I told her. “God knows I have. Now…your name?”

“Axyl,” she said. “Sigma former. Helevia.”

“Don’t give me your backstory,” I told Axyl. “Even if you were from Helevia, that’s not the side you were on when it fell.” She shrugged. “Anyway….” I jumped into the air below her and aimed my foot upwards.

My kick launched her down the hall, where she was knocked into the wall ten metres from her. “Always wanted to do that,” I murmured to myself.

Axyl looked up with another eerie smile. “You can’t get me out,” she informed me. “This is my body now.”

“Cat!”

Both the imposter and I flashed around to see Daniel. Immediately, Axyl flew to Daniel. “Don’t you frigging dare!” I screamed at her, grabbing her burning arms.

“Daniel, help me!” she called out.

Daniel froze. “Daniel, I need you!” I shouted. “I can’t get back in, she’s taken over!” Still he didn’t move. “Didn’t you hear me? She’s taken over my body, I have to get her out!”

“I can’t…” he said weakly.

What? “Why…” I asked, feeling uneasy.

Suddenly, Axyl leapt out of my grasp and leapt towards Daniel. “No!” I yelled.

She threw her arms around Daniel and sobbed. Daniel just stood there as she shook with tears. “I’m scared,” she whimpered. “Please…I want to go…”

“It’s alright,” he told her reassuringly. “We can leave now, I promise, Cat.” He met my gaze; there was no hate in his face, nor fear or disgust. Instead, there was an urgency reflected in his eye that made me realise what he was doing. I nodded once, and waited for his signal.

“Where did you get this?” he asked Axyl, gently removing the wand from her jacket-my jacket.

“I…” She only paused for half a second. “It was in one of the cells,” she continued confidently. “One of the freaks must’ve left it there by mistake.”

Heheh, gotcha.

“I thought you said you took it from a corpse,” he said to her.

For a moment she went pale. “It was. You’re right. There was a body there, a prisoner I think. Maybe the guards dropped it and they picked it-” She stopped talking a split second before Daniel raised the wand and sent her flying backwards.

I grabbed her before she could hit the wall, and closed my eyes, forcing my way into her head. Get out, I snarled.

She merely screamed. Fine then. Using all that remained of my strength, I struggled to regain control of my limbs, until finally, the force pushing against me suddenly disappeared, and I took the opportunity to enter completely.

The pain of the injuries my body had obtained made me cry out when I came to my senses. “It’s alright,” Daniel told me. “Only me.” He lifted me up and he began walking back through the debris.

I could finally speak. “That…was frightening,” I croaked.

He looked down at me, smiling crookedly. “That’s what tipped me off,” he informed me. “If you were the enemy, why would she stop fighting you, just because I was there?”

“Yeah…after that, she called the monsters freaks. That was stupid too…”

“I already figured it out though,” Daniel pointed out.

“Still. What if you hadn’t?”

“I suppose.”

We were getting closer to the room now. “It wasn’t a corpse,” I said aloud. “Or in a cell. I found it in a lab. That’s how I caused the explosion.” Then Papa Willis came into view. “Is he okay?” Then I noticed Noah.

“He will be,” he answered. “Lucky for him, Daniel knows how to make a tourniquet.”

“Why would he need a…” Then I saw Willis. His right arm was in tatters, and a piece of cloth was wound tightly around where the elbow should’ve been. “Holy….”

“Indeed…”

“Willis tried to hit them out of the way,” Daniel told me wearily. “One of those crocodile things was going to bite my head off. If Willis hadn’t blocked it, I would’ve lost my neck. But he lost his arm…”

“He’ll be okay though?”

“Yes,” Noah said. “Come along you two, we need to leave.”

____________________________________________________________

There’s no Delirium or Reality, both of the worlds in my head are real; though no one but I would consider this the case.
I killed too many in the end. I can’t make myself forget everything I’ve done. It’s better to stop now. I want to die before I end up destroying both of my worlds, because I know that will happen.
The room’s all fuzzy now. In a moment, I’ll stop breathing, and from there….I don’t know. Kaya didn’t die, god knows what’ll happen to me.
It didn’t matter in the end, what was real or not. Delirium taught me as much as Reality. Reality was just as painful as Delirium. No matter what anyone says, my actions did matter. And for that, I’m sorry.
May we meet again.

.

Cuddle Cat

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It had all gone downhill. It hadn’t taken them long to find me, and when they did, the chase was on.

When the ones chasing me were dead, I braced myself for more. To my surprise, the backups I expected never came. Huh.

It wasn’t kind, or even justified. But I threw their bodies down to the rocks below. I only came up with a reason for it afterwards. The less mess I’d leave behind, the less they’d have to track me, which gave me more time.

My body was covered in their blood, and I was thankful I couldn’t smell it. But when I returned, I nearly retched. “Jesus, this is disgusting…” I muttered.

I quickly realised I had no idea where I was. “Okay…” I took out my new knife, just in case. “Willis or Daniel…who should I find?”

I wandered for a while before stumbling across something very familiar. “This is Kaya’s cell,” I murmured. There was no one there though, no corpses or anything. “Right. Let’s go upstairs.”

It didn’t reassure me that everything was brightly lit. In fact, it put me on edge. They didn’t do this, they never enjoyed light. The only reason they would do this would be to prevent me from hiding in the shadows. Which could only be a bad thing.

I decided to go right, but instead of more cells, I came across a giant door. Oh no…Cat Madigan, this is a bad idea, I thought to myself as I opened it. This is suicide, since when does anything good come out of this place? my inner voice screamed as I stepped through it and looked around, dazed for a moment by the intense lights.

I stared at the object in the glass cabinet. I say glass lightly, because I had a feeling that it would kill me if I so much as touched it. But I couldn’t help but wonder what it was doing in this world. I knew what these people were capable of, with machines that made freaks like Kaya and me. They ridiculed people like me and Daniel, and yet…

Just to make sure, I didn’t touch the cabinet immediately. Instead, I did what anyone else would’ve done. Or at least, what anyone who could throw fireballs would do.

Needless to say, this ended badly. Well…sorta.

Let’s just say there was an explosion.

I woke a moment later, coughing up smoke. “Oh boy…” I made out the fuzzy image of the weapon in front of me, and I reached out and took it. It was shaped like a wand, but the whirring sound coming from it indicated that it wasn’t magic that was inside it. There was nothing that gave me a clue as of what to do with it, but it had a pale glow to it that put me on edge.

I still had no idea when the first monster came it. She had bulging eyes and red pointy teeth which gleamed at me when she smiled. When she took a step towards me, I no longer cared what it did, I just pointed it at her.

Immediately, her body flew into the door behind her, crashing into several other monsters. I just stood there in a daze, when I heard shouting down the hall. I leapt over the monsters to reach them. “Sorry!” I called over my shoulder, running towards the sound.

It became simple. I aimed the thing at one of them and he was thrown in that direction. When any of the monsters approached, they could never get near me. When I felt one behind me, I span around, ready to fire, when I saw him. “Daniel!”

Before he could answer, I was suddenly grabbed and thrown to the ground, the weapon bouncing out of my reach. The monster’s eyes were glassy and unaware as he clawed into my throat with what seemed like giant, sharp fingers. I pushed him away, but even as my hand burnt into his face, it did nothing to stop him, and this fight between he and I was quickly finishing.

Then he howled, and I felt something cold splash over me. It was only when I saw the tip of a blade protruding the monster’s stomach that I realised what was going on. I scrambled out of the way of the dying monster before Daniel withdrew his sword and he fell to the ground. I stared at him as his cries became quieter. There was a large wound in his back, a dark shiny line exposing his insides, which were slowly spreading beneath him. “Where is he?” I asked Daniel hollowly.

He didn’t ask who I was referring to. “He’s not far,” he said. “Those were the men guarding him. Some left when they heard an explosion.” He raised an eyebrow at me.

“Don’t look at me like that,” I reproached.

“Have you looked in a mirror recently?” he replied. At the look on my face, he grimaced. “Fair point. Anyway…” He gestures towards the door. “After you, my lady.”

I didn’t go to the door though. First, I located the weapon I used before. “Do you know what this is?” I asked him.

He wrinkled his face. “No clue. I don’t like the look of it though.”

“Me neither…but I can think of some who would.”

“Thommand?” Daniel enquired.

“I was actually thinking of the monsters here,” I admitted. “But you’re right too. Should we take it or not?”

He grimaced. “We’re faced with two evils here,” he pointed out. “Which one is going to be more dangerous with this thing?”

I couldn’t imagine either using it to be honest. “Right now, we really don’t want this evil to get it,” I said. “We’ll figure what to do with it later.” I picked it up. “In the meantime, I’m going to use it.”

“If you say so…”

Papa Willis barely moved when he saw me. “Oh. Hi,” he said blankly.

“…Hello.” I stepped over one of the corpses. “Did you do this?” I asked Daniel, as I opened the cell door.

“Yeah,” Daniel admitted. “Though it was either me or them, if I do say so myself.”

“Not judging Daniel. I certainly don’t have any right to.” I knelt down next to Papa Willis. “Can you walk?” His grimace gave me the answer. “Okay…” I looked back at Daniel. “How about you carry him and I’ll keep them off you?”

“Use you as a meat shield? No.”

“Or you could leave me,” Willis suggested.

“Not a chance,” I said, lifting Willis up. “And what’s the worst that can happen? I die?”

“Cat…” Daniel knew that it wouldn’t matter if I died, as I’d resurrect anyway. But he still looked against the idea of me sacrificing myself.

“By the way.” I gave Willis a hug. “It’s good to see you alive.”

Willis didn’t move. “Why are you hugging me?” he asked awkwardly.

“Because you’re alive.”

“…okay.”

“Willis?”

“…yeah?”

“You smell.”

“So do you.”

I grinned at him, and he just looked back, confused as hell. “What’s with her?” he asked Daniel.

“She’s easily influenced,” Daniel replied. “She’s happy now, but she’ll be cutting off heads in a minute.”

I stuck my tongue out at him. “I’m a psychopath,” I confirmed.

“The sweetest psychopath you’ll ever meet,” Daniel added.

Willis just shook his head feebly. “Right…”

I remembered that he didn’t recognise me, so I backed away slightly. “Maybe we should do this later?”

“Good idea.” Daniel grudgingly took Willis when I reached the opening. “Noah’s meeting us at the crumbled wall,” he told me.

“Same place as before.” I remembered how Kaya shattered that wall during her escape. They thought the girl was useless, a dud. “Do you ever wonder why Kaya took you?” I asked Daniel.

“Now’s not the time for reminiscing,” Daniel replied.

I rolled my eyes and walked ahead of the two. It was like this for a while, and I grew wary of the disturbing quiet.

My suspicions were confirmed a split second before a sword sank in my belly and I was falling once again.