Come On Out, Shadow

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Before I could move, Noah grabbed the blade of the knife in what I assumed was a panicked attempt to stop her. He hissed as it cut into his hand and black blood ran down his arm, but he didn’t let it go.

“Fool!” Emisair fumed, furiously trying to twist the knife out of his grasp. I finally came to my senses and swiped her with my foot, throwing her across the room, and the knife falling out of her hand.

Noah ran and grabbed the knife, where it was swiftly dropped into his pocket. He gave Jhaq a once-over to confirm she was alright before we both turned back to Emisair.

She was staggering towards us. “She’s not safe!” she hissed. “Either we kill her, or she’ll kill us.”

“There has to be another way!” I insisted. “It’s possible! It just happened for fucks sake!”

“You stupid bitch…lightning never strikes twice in the same place. You’re delaying what is inevitable!” Emisair’s eyes were filled with rage.

“We’re not killing her!” Noah snarled. “Not when we can still save her! That’s all there is to it.” He was more furious than I had ever seen him, and he completely ignored the blood gushing out of his hand from Emisair’s knife. I was about to offer a cloth to wrap it with when Emisair suddenly leapt at him and my focus changed.

I managed to push him away in time, but as a result, it was I who was being pushed against the back of the room by a frenzied Emisair, right next to where Jhaq lay. Her nails were clawing into me, as if she were trying to rip out my heart- maybe she was- and as she did, her eyes seemed to glow completely red and her teeth spread into a sinister smile. “Come on out, Shadow,” she said maniacally. “I know you’re there! Come out and plaaaaa-”

With that, I socked her in the face and kicked her away. “Stop it!” Noah yelled at the both of us.

I ignored him. I had no care in the world anymore. “What are you trying to do?” I asked Emisair, walking towards her. “If you want to kill me…” Everything around me sharpened, intensified, amplified. I could see and feel her heartbeat from where I stood, and it would be nothing to rip it out…”Go ahead,” I finished with a grin.

So she did.

Or rather…she tried to.

I dropped to the ground when she flew at me again. She came to a halt standing above where I lay. Still reeling from her charge, she couldn’t block my foot smashing into her chest, sending her flying into the ceiling. It was almost too perfect that a chandelier was dangling right where Emisair was about to fly into.

Killing was far easier sans a human body.

There was a loud crashing sound as the thing shattered and fell to the ground around me, a shower of glass and crystal. I watched Emisair drop before my feet, shaking with rage and pain. Blood ran down her back, mixing with the glass on the ground. She hissed at me and I could see her body becoming longer, her claws scraping against the ground. A feverish grin spread across her face, and Noah started yelling at both of us to stop. But that wasn’t going to happen.

I raised my claw, ready to strike.

It wasn’t Noah who stopped us. Or even Daniel. It was Christan who yelled out “STOP!” from the doorway, perhaps saving the life of Emisair in the process.

Both of us froze and looked at him. He looked terrified, not at all like a natural king, though the crowds behind him wouldn’t be able to see that. “Step away from eachother,” he commanded shakily.

I immediately obeyed, partially out of sympathy for Christan, but also because I was slowly coming out of my psychotic/demon mode and I wanted things to stop. I fell back into my body, the cold of the room reaching me even with Emisair’s cloak. Emisair merely glared at him. “Your human’s slut has physically assaulted me,” she informed him, her body changing back as she spoke. “I shall not stand for it! Either discipline her or I shall gather my men and leave. Now.

I slowly got up. My senses were still distorted by my rampage. Christan was looking at me, trying to seem stern. “Cat…”

“She was going to murder Jhaq!” I croaked. “That was the only reason why I-”

“It’s true,” Noah confirmed. “It was Emisair who attacked first. Not Cat.”

Emisair flared up. “I was going to kill the demon inside her,” she said. “These two would put their fellow people in danger due to sentiment. I wasn’t about to let her slaughter us all when we knew that she was a danger.” She turned to Jhaq, lying asleep on her bed. “The woman that she was is no more. She would mercilessly murder everyone from her king to her little daughter. And these two would risk that.”

“No…” I took a deep breath. “I had the same monster inside me,” I confessed the boy-king, and the people behind him inhaled. “But I managed to force them out before I could be taken over completely. I believe that Jhaq is capable of doing the same, if she’s given the chance.”

“I agree,” Noah spoke up. “I don’t see the need to take a life in order to destroy what is only a potential threat. We have the time to stop it, it is still-”

“What time is this?” Emisair retorted. “The longer we wait, the stronger that thing is. We’re putting everyone at risk here by waiting for what is inevitable.” She looked directly at Christan. “I will not stand by and wait to die. Either stop this threat…or I’ll leave, with my men behind me.”

Oh please, please do.

Unfortunately, Christan was reluctant to let that happen. “You can’t,” he said weakly. “You know that-”

“I do know. Your forces are far weaker than theirs. Our alliance is the only thing that keeps your people safe. But if you will put them in danger, I see no point in my presence here,” Emisair spoke coldly. “Take a side. Now.”

I knew what Christan would pick, but I tried to speak out. “Listen-”

“What is this?” A voice called out.

The crowds moved around to make way for Daniel who strode into the room. He immediately went to my side and put his hand on my arm. I immediately felt warmer, calmer. “What has happened?” he questioned Noah.

Noah spoke immediately. “The Lady Emisair tried to end Jhaq’s life. Cat managed to stop her, and now Emisair is claiming that she is in the right.”

“I am in the right,” Emisair spoke with utter conviction. “That thing inside her is a slaughtering machine. It nearly took your paramour, and now it is succeeding in taking your servant.”

“And now she’s blackmailing his Grace into submitting to her will,” I spat. “If Jhaq doesn’t die, she’ll leave.”

Daniel’s face didn’t show anything. “Daniel,” Christan spoke. “What do you see?”

He remained silent. I myself had no idea what Christan meant. Noah took Daniel’s silence as an opportunity to speak. “Cat Madigan was able to escape unharmed. I have no doubt that she can assist me in helping Jhaq recover. Just give us that chance, your Grace.”

Before Christan could speak, there was a voice. “Master…Nnnn…”

Jhaq was slowly rising from her bed. “Don’t let her move,” Christan ordered, and several guards dashed in and raised their blades to her.

Slowly, Jhaq backed down, and opened her eyes. Still black. “What is this?” she asked, and her voice made my stomach flip.

“Drop your act,” Emisair ordered. “There’s no doubt of this now.”

“No doubt of what?” Daniel retorted. “Will you explain yourself?”

“Your servant is being taken by the same entity that nearly took Cat Madigan. And now that she speaks, there’s no doubt of it.”

Daniel looked at me in confusion. I bowed my head. “Her voice…it’s Axyl’s,” I admitted. “Not Jhaq’s.”

Emisair turned to Christan. “I believe we have more than enough to confirm this?” she enquired. There was a murmur of appreciation from the crowds, and Christan looked away from us. I knew he had made his decision.

“Cat…”

I flinched at the voice of the monster calling my name. I slowly looked at her, but I couldn’t keep my eyes on her terrified face for more than a second. Daniel watched me in silence.

“Now.” Emisair spoke as if the matter had been settled. “Onto the matter of the assault. I want the girl locked up, considering how she cannot be executed. I believe this is fair-”

“What on earth are you talking about?” Daniel spat.

“I kicked her into the chandelier,” I informed him.

Daniel raised an eyebrow, but Noah spoke before he could reply. “An attack which was initiated by Emisair’s own assault.” He raised his hand to show everyone the ugly knife wound that Emisair had given him.

Suddenly, the atmosphere changed. The crowds started murmuring again, but this time, they were discussing Emisair’s own behaviour. It occurred to me from what they said that while Emisair could outrank both Daniel and myself, she was still an outsider, a visitor in this world. And by wounding one of their own…

“He was stopping me.” Emisair replied, unfazed. “That cut was his own fault, not mine.”

That was her big mistake. The people bristled at her for dismissing what she had done, for making herself out to be higher than the likes of themselves. Emisair seemed to realise what she had done, but she couldn’t recant now.

“Put her under house arrest,” Noah interjected. When Christan looked at him, he went on. “Both of them.”

“What?” Emisair spat.

“Noah…” I was about to argue.

“I will not pretend that Cat Madigan is innocent,” Noah said, meeting my eye. I remembered the moment when I lost control, when I was ready to kill the red eyed woman. “But it was Emisair’s actions which triggered her behaviour. If they’re both placed under house arrest, they will not be within proximity of eachother. No more incidents of this kind shall occur.” Noah shifted his gaze to Emisair. “If that does not stop them, then the next course will be, of course, imprisonment in the cells.”

Emisair fumed. “I am not to be treated like her. I do not need to be punished.”

“By that logic, neither should Cat,” Noah replied. “Your actions are equivalent to hers. And one can go on to say that while Cat’s behaviour is expected of her, because of her humanity, you on the other hand should be able to control your actions.”

She bristled. Noah, as the victim in this, had the most influence over her fate, and she knew it. He may not be letting me off the hook for my behaviour- I was about to kill her for fucks sake- but Emisair would’ve murdered Jhaq in cold blood, and he wasn’t going to stop till she was punished for that.

“I believe this is fair,” Christan finally said. “Cat Madigan will be confined to her chamber for a moon, as will Emisair. Remove them now.”

“Wait,” Emisair said suddenly. “For Cat Madigan, this is not a long period of time. More often than not, she’s unconscious in her room. She could sleep for a moon, and wake up when she’s ready to be released.”

Even I had to admit she had a point. If our roles were reversed, I’d find it pretty unfair too. Of course, I wouldn’t be such a bitch and start a fight with her.

Well, maybe. I dunno.

“Then I’ll watch her,” Noah proposed. “I’ll account for when she’s awake and when she’s not. She can be released after thirty days and thirty nights of activity.”

“And separate her everyone?” Emisair interjected, a sudden gleam in her eye. “Including Daniel?”

Daniel put his hand on mine, covering the light that was about to be thrown in her fucking face. “Her chambers are my chambers,” he reminded her. “We can house Noah if he wishes. Either way, her punishment is identical to yours, my lady.”

She scowled. “Fine. But she is still confined.”

“As you are,” Daniel agreed.

She turned on her heel and stormed out, only to be grabbed by a guard. “I know my way,” she snapped.

Another guard approached me, and gestured for me to walk with him. I was surprised that he didn’t grab me. Perhaps he was afraid.

I followed him, but Daniel stayed behind. As the door closed, he raised a hand to me, as if to wave.

That’s when I remembered Jhaq.

And Axyl.

“What’s going to happen?” I asked the guard urgently. “Will she be alright?”

“What do you think?” There was no unkindness in his face, he even appeared sorry, if only a little bit.

I shook my head. I knew what I thought. I loved Jhaq…but I was even more afraid of Axyl. And if she attacked me, I knew what my first instinct would be. Still, Jhaq hadn’t hurt anyone. The only signs of Axyl she had shown us were her voice and her black eyes…

“Why can’t Daniel see her eyes?” I questioned.

Unexpectedly, the guard answered my question. “I wouldn’t know,” he said. “Perhaps it’s part of his humanity. That would explain it.”

“But I’m human too,” I reminded him.

“Are you?” he replied. “We all saw you.”

I grimaced. “I have no excuse for that,” I admitted. “But even if I’m not human, I’m still treated like one.”

“We cannot change the manner of our birth,” he pointed out. “We have no control of how our lives turn out.”

I thought of Kaya, one moment a promising politician, the next a deadly weapon. I remembered Nereida’s brutal death at the hands of the same one who killed Kaya, her old friend. Daniel himself had been thrown into this world the minute he left mine. And who would’ve thought I would’ve become this? A depressed paranoid schizophrenic with a growing detachment from Reality, no longer able to feel pain or death. “Believe me, I know.”

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No no no no no

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Finally, I have been put on happy meds.

Which only succeed in making me more out of it.

I feel like screaming or smashing my head against the wall. My ability to think and function properly has been dragged down along with the feelings that I am not allowed to feel anymore.

The worst thing is not being able to hear Daniel. I can see him, I can watch him try to reach me, but I’m completely unable to understand what he tries to say. He may as well be speaking another language. Maybe he is. My mind is falling apart, and I cannot control my actions, and I don’t even have him to stop me.

I don’t want to be on the medicine anymore. It’s not making me happy, not when everything’s being thrown down to build up inside me till I burst. I don’t want to snap, I don’t want to be left alone with my madness, please let me out, I don’t want to thrown down too.

Cat and Daniel in Bari

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Here’s the view from the breakfast table. This is Bari, the first stop on the cruise ship. And now here’s some snap shots.

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For some reason, after visiting the cathedral in Bari, we were taken to the fish markets. According to the lady, it was there that we could see an octopus getting its head smashed in, and also, there were men who apparently were prone to catcalling the pretty girls.

“Well this is delightful,” I said to Daniel as we walked through the markets, stinking of fish and guts.

“Yeah…and no one’s given me a wolf whistle yet.”

I rolled my eyes at Daniel’s vanity. “Come on, you already know that you’re hot.”

“Oh, is that a confession?”

I simply stuck my tongue out at him. “Silly Cat,” he chuckled. “I know what you-” He was cut off by a sudden wolf whistle.

“I think you’re being paged,” I informed him.

He shook his head. “Nope, that’s for you, Miss Madigan.” He angled his head towards the source of the sound.

I turned in that direction. A boy- yes, a teenage boy, not an old seedy fisherman- grinned at me when I caught his eye. “Ciao bella!” he called.

I immediately started giggling, as Daniel looked on in amusement. “Well isn’t this sweet. Cat Madigan is giggling over a boy.”

I just smiled. “I’m pretty,” I said simply.

Later on…

“Please tell me that you’re not going in,” Daniel pleaded as I made a beeline for the shoe shop.

“Ten euro for these boots!” I exclaimed, cheerfully ignoring Daniel. My own were tearing apart at the soles, and there was still a week left of this tour to go, with only my white sneakers which probably reeked of the fish market now, and my sandals, which were far from day shoes to walk around Katakolon in.

Plus there was the fact that they had black lace.

“You and your lace fetish,” Daniel scoffed.

At that moment, another pair of shoes caught my eye. “Okay, I’m sorry,” Daniel said. “Please buy the boots so we don’t have to stay here a moment longer. Please? Don’t go near that other pair, we’ll be in here all-”

It was then that a bunch of girls, nice ones, walked into the store. “…well, I’m doomed,” Daniel conceded, shaking his head.

Back on the boat…

“Sex on the beach,” I told the waiter.

“Well, if you insist…”

I ignored Daniel. “Zero,” I added.

“No alcohol?” Daniel enquired as the waiter walked away.

“One of us has to be sober,” I reminded him. “And it may as well be me as I’m not allowed to drink.”

“Oh yes, in Reality, you’re still a minor.” Daniel watched the waiter bring back my drink. “And therefore, should not be drinking something with a name like that. Allow me.” He reached for my Sex on the Beach.

“Get your own,” I told him. “Besides, I took you for a guy who had whiskey, or scotch. Not fruity cocktails.”

“Because you’ve never had alcohol, allow me to enlighten you,” Daniel said. “Alcohol is disgusting.”

I raised an eyebrow. “That doesn’t stop you,” I pointed out.

“It’s not liquor, it’s medicine,” he insisted. “My point is, the only reason people became accustomed to alcohol was because there was a time where the only alternative was the water, which then was less than healthy. Think of the concept like you would coffee.”

At that I made a face. “Exactly. And it’s the same with alcohol. You’d only be able to drink it because you’ve gotten used to the taste. The fruity taste makes alcohol a lot better.”

“I see…” I spot Daniel’s flask in his coat pocket. “So what’s in that?”

“Medicine,” he repeated. “Nothing more, nothing less.” He took a swig.

After dinner…

“You must be joking.”

“Kaya wants to dance,” I told Daniel.

“This is the tarantella. Far from what she’s used to.”

I don’t care. Besides, Cat’s likely to get fat from all the food she’s been having. She needs to exercise.

“I went for a swim today, and we were walking around Bari this morning!”

Good for you. I still want to dance.

“I’m considering walking out of here now, to be honest.”

Are you really ready to listen to me bitch all night?

“…fair point.” With that, I closed my eyes and lifted myself out. Daniel took my hand and lead me to the seat next to the dance floor, and we sat and watched Kaya.

She was quite a good dancer, though it took her a bit to understand the Tarantella. But by the end, she was smiling and laughing, as if she hadn’t spent the last years of her life in fear and pain. “Did you enjoy yourself?” Daniel asked, when she came over.

She merely smiled. “You need to stretch more,” she informed me. “Your body is clumsy when it comes to dancing.”

I grimaced. My mother detests dancing. If she saw me- well, you -now, she’d have something to say about it.

“If I cared what my mother thought, then I would’ve taken my life before the espers got it,” she said flatly, ignoring Daniel’s and my discomfort at the idea. “Besides, your mother is not here, thank god.”

“Her father is,” Daniel inserted.

I wouldn’t worry about him, I informed them both.

“Yeah, he’s only interested in the tour,” Daniel said. “Our Cat Madigan has been good, in terms of her ‘blackouts’.”

“Do you go somewhere secret?” Kaya asked thoughtfully.

Sometimes, I said. It happens midday now, instead of the evenings. I just go to the bathroom when it happens.

“Well fetch me if she does it in public,” Kaya said to Daniel. “In case she screams as she did in Rome.”

Shut up Kaya.

“Fine.”>

Cat Madigan’s Journey Around Planet Earth

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So this was written nearly a week ago. Wow. Anyway, I can now post this after purchasing an hour’s Internet for €16.95. Yeah…it’s expensive.

We’re on the cruise ship right now, heading for Dubrovnik. We’ve been to Greece and Turkey already, and it’s been pretty great, except for a couple of stuffs. Mainly to do with mean humans and my messed up emotions. But hey, what can you do?

So here’s my recount of the first part of this trip. Which I haven’t been stuffed editing because I’m on a cruise ship and I have mock-tails to drink.

Also, my hair is orange. And straight. Just letting ya know.
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If you’re reading this, it means that a rare wifi hotspot has been discovered in this godforsaken airport. It also means that about thirty teenage girls are furiously tweeting, facebooking and snap chatting as we speak.

By the way, I do not understand Snap Chat, nor do I wish to. The majority of girls on this trip are using it, and I do not see its appeal. And I can only begin to imagine how many photos of body parts would be sent to me. If I wanted to see a pair of boobs, I’d take my top off and look in the mirror. As for genitalia…seriously. In no way is that area of the human anatomy attractive. Stop taking photos of it, stupid humans! ARGGGHHHHH.

Okay, rant over. Forgive me, I had to awake at four in the morning and I’ve had only a cappuccino. Also, coffee. Gross. I don’t care if it’s an acquired taste, the fact is that you have to drink it again and again to acquire that taste.

Moooooving on.

We’re about to leave Rome today, to go to Venice, where I shall get onto a boat with my group and sail around the world. Or at least just Greece, Turkey and Croatia. But that’s still pretty cool. I just wish I had my friends with me, instead of these uncultured swine who apparently have never heard of clothes.

Okaaaay, not all of them are so bad. There’s a few nice girls, but on the other hand, there’s a lot of bitchy girls.

So let me tell you what has happened thus far.

Malta

One of the coolest places I’ve ever seen. Modern, but it still stays true to their traditions and religion. More English than I would’ve expected them to be, though they still speak Italian and Maltese. It was still very hot though, and I quickly acquired a dreaded tan line where I wore my watch.

The churches were beautiful, though no one but the teachers and I really cared. Shopping was where the real fun began; the girls split off into different groups and I, at least for the first couple of days, was left with my father. Daniel didn’t show up until nearly three days in, busy with some secret that he somehow managed to keep from me. I eventually found a circle that I hung around with, which I will now describe.

Payne

I knew beforehand that I would have too endure Payne’s presence on this tour, but I had no idea of how much worse she was outside school. She quickly proved herself to be a snob as well as stuck up, and it was thanks to her that I ended up having a breakdown Day Three of Malta.

During a shopping expedition near our hotel, I was getting ready to leave after changing out of an outfit. When I was about to leave, Payne said “Cat, you weren’t wearing that top when we got in here!”

I was immediately confused. I was certain that this was my top…but then I couldn’t be entirely sure, could I? I could never be sure that what I saw in Reality was true. I knew though that I wouldn’t do something like that on purpose, but explaining that to someone like Payne would be hell.

Payne wouldn’t stop. If she did, I would have been fine, but she kept going on about how that wasn’t my shirt, even though I kept insisting that I was wearing it when we entered the store.

So I melted.

When the other girls, who had gone out of the store to wait for us, came back in, they saw me shaking with tears streaming down my face, and they quickly confirmed that I had been wearing that shirt when I entered the store. After that, I quickly calmed down, my sense of Reality, at least for that moment, secure.

It also reinforced the fact that Payne was a fucking bitch. Still is.

Rome

A lot cooler than Malta, much to my relief. Quickly discovered that despite everything, I am the most gullible person in the world, after giving spare change to a gypsy child and her mother when we went to St Peter’s Basilica. Another reason why I don’t like my group. They don’t hesitate to make fun of you, even if they don’t know you well enough to do so. I spent the rest of the trip to the basilica talking to Daniel, who tried to make me feel better by getting me to talk about the stories of Michelangelo.

My favourite one involves the painting of the apocalypse; there was a critic of Michelangelo who hated him, so in the bottom of the painting, with the demons and damned people, Michelangelo ended up painting that critic, with a snake biting off a certain part of his anatomy. I enjoyed that one, so I cheered up fairly quickly, no thanks to my group.

Raspberry and Chocolate Gelato

The most beautiful thing in existence. Roma ice cream is the most delicious ice cream I have ever tasted, and even now I’m going through withdrawal symptoms.

Of course, it’s probably got an infinite amount of sugar, but the number of fucks I give is equivalent to the amount of money I have left after buying it. Aka, zilch.

Well, that’s not true. I’ve spent all my money I planned to spend in Rome. I still have money for Greece, Turkey and Croatia, which should be fun.

So those are my adventures. How have you nonexistent readers been?

Survival?

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“Staying Alive,” Daniel reads. There are three rounds. In each round, you will be presented with a scenario and then offered two choices. The decisions you make determine whether you stay alive or perish. You should always base your decisions on nothing more than the desire to keep yourself in existence. Also, each scenario should be taken at face value. The situation will be as described – there are no “tricks” – and you do not need to worry about other ‘what ifs’. At the end of the game you will discover if you have stayed alive or not, although, being a philosophical game, the verdict won’t be straightforward…”

“Oooooooh, like the Hunger Games?”

“Let’s see…” We click the continue button.

Scenario one: You have been chosen to go on a very important mission to Mars. You have no choice in this matter, you must go. But you can choose your means of transport.

One method is teletransportation. You will step into a scanner here on earth that will destroy your brain and body, while recording the exact state of all your cells. This information will be transmitted to a replicator on Mars – taking three minutes to arrive – which will then create a brain and body exactly like yours using entirely new materials. The person on Mars will look like you, think like you, in fact be indistinguishable from you. He or she will certainly feel as though they have merely fallen asleep on Earth and then woken up on Mars. This method is 100 per cent reliable.

The other method of transport is space travel. This is very risky and there is 50 per cent chance that the spacecraft will not complete the journey and you will die in transit. But if you do successfully take the spacecraft, then your body and brain won’t at any stage have been destroyed.

You must choose the option you think will give your self the biggest chance of surviving.

“I believe…” I tell Daniel. “That this is a trick question.”

“Oh?”

“In terms of staying alive…the spacecraft is the better option, as the teleporter is guaranteed to destroy me. Surviving, on the other hand…is a different issue.”

“So, tomayto or tomahto?”

You must choose the option you think will give yourself the biggest chance of surviving. If I’m to survive…” I click the teleporter option. “Aaaaand we’re on Mars.”

“Was it worth it, Cat Madigan?”

“It’s not the end of the world. Now…Life on Mars turns out not to be a bed of roses. In fact, two strange viruses have evolved on the planet which are causing a lot of problems. The first destroys body parts. Fortunately, medical science is very advanced, which means people can simply be given artificial limbs and organs as required. You’ve been hit pretty hard by this virus and, in fact, almost your entire body is now made up of artificial parts.

“However, there exists a second virus that attacks the brain. It is peculiarly nasty in that it doesn’t destroy the brain, rather it messes up the neural pathways, leading to a loss of memory and also a change in personality traits. One person who had the virus had been a successful author. Now he can’t write a word, but he’s become rather good at exotic dancing.” At this, Daniel cracks up. “It is indeed an odd virus. Do you want to read or not?”

“Very well.” Daniel finally calms down and reads. “Well, congratulations. You’ve been careless enough to get the second virus as well. Medics can get around it by Unfortunately, you have carelessly managed to catch the virus. Medics can get around the virus by replacing pieces of the brain with advanced forms of silicon chip. In your case, they would have to do this to almost all of your brain. But trials show that you can be sure that the result will be the total preservation of your memories, personality, plans, beliefs and so on, and a person as able to carry on living a normal life as is, well, normal.” He clears his throat. “Or you can succumb to the virus and undergo a huge character change and memory loss.”

“Go ahead.”

“Eh?”

“Let’s see what happens when you undergo the memory loss and character change.”

“Really? You’d give up all your memories? Lose the essence of who you are as a person?”

“Well, to be honest, before this trip to Mars, I wasn’t really worth anything. Let’s go with a new persona.”

“You’re worth something to me!”

“I know…but I hate myself more than you love me.”

“I beg to differ Cat Madigan.”

“I’ll just see what happens.”

“Hmmph….”

I read on. “Oh dear, the virus did go to work on you. But the good news is it’s now a few years later, and a cure has been found. What’s more, your new personality has had a chance to stabalise, even though it remains irrevocably changed and your old memories are lost forever.”

“Boohoo for you.”

Ignoring Daniel, I went on. “Strange as it may seem, it has been discovered that reincarnation of a sort does actually occur. It seems that there is some immaterial part – call it a soul – in all human beings. On death, it leaves the body and enters the body of a new-born animal or human. It does not take memory with it, of course. It is thought that it may have some effect in determining one’s character, but given the evidence for the strong influence of genes and upbringing, this effect is thought to be relatively small.

“Even stranger than the fact of reincarnation, it seems that our souls die if stored at below freezing point for longer than a week.

“These facts are vital to the last choice you must make. You are very ill, but scientists have almost found a cure for the disease you have. Further, they have also developed a technique to ‘deep freeze’ humans, enabling them to be revived later with their memories and character intact. You have two choices.

“The first choice is to let the disease take its toll. Your body will die, but your soul will live on. The second choice is to be deep frozen, then thawed and cured later. This will destroy your soul and only has a thirty per cent chance of success; that is, there is a 70 per cent chance that the thawing and curing won’t work.

“You must make the choice that you think will give your self the biggest chance of surviving.”

“These questions are cooking my brain.”

“Yeah…” I think for a moment. “I think I’ve destroyed my worthiness of a soul at this point anyway, based on my last few choices.”

“You, my dear,” Daniel tells me, “are too self destructive for your own good.”

“Tell me about it when we’re in hell. We can be bunk buddies.”

“…what do you mean by the word ‘bunk’?”

“Freeze,” I decide. “Now let’s see which circle of hell I’m going to.”

“The freezing, thawing and curing was a success. Well done, Cat Madigan, it is confirmed. You cannot die, not even in a hypothetical situation.”

“Yippee. Wait a minute…” I scan the rest of the page. “You were saying?”

Daniel reads the part I’m reading. “Your problem is that your set of choices ends all three types of continuity. By taking the teletransporter you end bodily continuity, since the body on Mars is a replica of yours, not the self same body. The virus destroys psychological continuity. And freezing destroys the soul. So all three of the things that might be required for personal identity are destroyed. So surely you must be dead.” He looks at me. “So you’ve destroyed everything that makes you you. Congratulations.”

“Mmhm.”

“Cat…” Daniel’s arms wrap around me and squeeze me tight. “You can’t hate yourself that much.”

“Can’t I?”

“No.”

“Maybe not…not all the time anyway.”

He kisses my neck. “Look at your first choice.”

“Teleportation? What of it?”

“You chose that over the rickety space ship. There was a fifty percent chance you’d die, as opposed to certain survival. And yet, you chose to survive.”

“Well what do you know? There’s hope for me yet.” I close my eyes.

“Mmhm.”

You’re Being Tortured In The Morning

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So because I am a lazy fuck who cannot spend more than ten minutes a day to finish writing up my memoirs from the imaginary world in my head, Daniel and I have found another way to keep my blog updated over the two weeks that we’ll be in Europe. Where it’s warm…. I’m sorry, I wanted to stress that fact to my friends who’ll be stuck in the Southern Hemisphere, where it’s cold and there’s not even snow to make it better. Anyway, I came across the website Philosophy Experiments during Religion, and Daniel and I got sucked in, and we went over god knows how many tests and quizzes which scrutinised our way of thinking.

And now I’m going to torture my nonexistent readers by describing every single quiz we went through. Starting with You’re Being Tortured In The Morning.
______________________________________________________________

“Here we go,” Daniel says. “You have fallen into the hands of Zach Coine, a mad and powerful scientist. He informs you he is going to torture you tomorrow morning. Not surprisingly, you find this idea rather terrifying.”

“Pfffffffffffft.”

“That’s not necessary Cat.”

“Sorry…this quiz doesn’t already take into account torture victims. Or mutants and imaginary paramours.”

“Cat…”

“Okay, I’ll shush.” I look up at him. “Really.”

“Good girl.” Daniel turns back to the iPad. “However, Professor Coine has some sort of barely functioning conscience so he’s decided to tell you a number of things about what’s going to happen in the hope that you’ll be reassured about your fate.”

“Awwww, that’s so sweet!” I said sarcastically.

“You promised you’d shush.”

“I am! I am shush-”

Daniel puts two fingers on my lips. “There. Better.” He scans the rest of the page. “Basically, each time you read something, you have to decide whether it calms you down a little bit.”

Unable to communicate verbally, I merely raise my eyebrows and snort. “Okay…let me rephrase that.” Daniel rolls his eyes. “You have to indicate whether or not what he says makes you more certain or uncertain of your fate. Whether it reassures you or not. Compri?

I nod. “Good girl. Now, there’s some things you should remember. One, everything Professor Coine tells you is the truth. Two, this test is only interested in how you find the prospect of being tortured. Basically whether you think you’d suffer or not during this event.” He frowns. “Whatever. Three, any wider moralistic or humanitarian worries you may have do not matter. Meaning, you can’t claim that you’ll never be safe because you’ll always know that there’s a violent psychopath out there. Four, you have to indicate how you feel about what the professor says in light of everything you know.”

I frown. “Mmm?”

“I think it means how what the professor says makes you feel about the current situation,” Daniel informs me. “Anyway, the last thing is that this is an online activity, so you’re not actually going to be fearful or reassured. There’s a thing called imagination….” He grins at me. “My, I have no idea where we would ever find that. Now let’s get started.”

“Mmm!”

“I’m not done talking though.”

I raised an eyebrow.

“Fine…” He removes his hand from my face. “Personally, I think you show more through your body language than your words.”

I flutter my eyelashes at him.

“I rest my case. You may start.”

“Professor Coine tells you that when the time comes to torture you, he’ll ensure you have no memory of having been told in advance you were going to be tortured, so it’ll be a surprise when the torture begins. Reassured or no?” I frown. “Wait, so…I’m being told what’s going to happen to me, only to forget immediately after?”

“I take it, not reassuring?”

“Nuh uh.” I read the next statement. “Professor Coine also tells you that at the moment of torture you won’t be able to remember anything at all that you now remember. So I have amnesia? I don’t remember who I am?”

“I don’t believe I’ve ever had amnesia,” Daniel muses. “I wouldn’t be able to tell you what it’s like.”

“I would probably be more frightened if I didn’t know anything,” I said. “If I had my memories, I might be able to think of something else.”

“If you say so.”

“Professor Coine now states that not only will you not be able to remember anything that you now remember, but you’ll have an entirely different set of thoughts and impressions of your past…well shit.”

“Not assured?”

“Well…no. If I’m a whole other person, I’m still going to feel pain, aren’t I?”

“Indeed.”

“The mad professor now tells you that the new set of thoughts and impressions of your past will exactly match those of somebody who is currently alive, and in fact that they will be copied into your brain from the other person’s brain. Again, not helpful.” I continue on. “So basically, this whole conversation makes me no less fearful of what is to come.”

Daniel reads the next part. “We’ll return to the mad professor in a little while, but right now we have a different scenario for you to think about. This one also involves torture, but happily this time you have more control over what’s going to happen to you.”

“Yayyyy.”

“Two people,” Daniel reads, “are about to undergo an odd experience.”

“Boys and girls of every age, would you like to see something strange?” I sing.

Ignoring me, Daniel goes on. “The thoughts and memories of persons A and B will be exchanged with eachother. In this scenario, you’re A. After the experiment is complete, one body-person will receive one million dollars. The other gets tortured. You want to get the reward, and avoid the torture.”

“Gee, I dunno…I’m kinda in the mood for getting my skin torn and my bones broken.” Daniel looks at me. “I’m into some fucked up shit.”

“Moving on…you get to choose which body-person is to be rewarded, and by doing so, also deciding who gets tortured. So what’s it gonna be?”

“So…I’m person A. But A’s memories are now in B. Does that make me B then?”

“You tell me.”

“…physically I am person A. Even with my memories have gone, I’m still A, and I’ll still feel the pain. I’d want to avoid that.”

“You’d be another person.”

“Is that meant to get me to change my mind?”

“This…” Daniel announces, “is deep shit.”

“Yeah…” I press the option which says Reward Body-Person A, Torture Body-Person B. I read the next part. “Good news. In common with 29% of the 43934 people who have completed this activity, you are showing no sign of Identity Confusion Syndrome. What even is that?”

“Let me read the rest.” Daniel scans the next few paragraphs. “I think they’re saying that you understand that even though your memories are gone, the person being tortured is still you.”

“So…cool?”

We continue to read the reasoning behind it. “I think I get it,” I say to Daniel. “If I chose B, it would be because I believe that I myself was now person B, and that I wouldn’t be tortured, because the person carrying my memories would be safe. But just because your memories are inside someone else doesn’t mean that they are you.”

“I…think I understand?”

I try explaining. “Imagine the idea that your memories are not your own, but someone else’s. It’s only now that you have become aware of this fact. So, who are who?”

“Well…I have Daniel’s thoughts and memories…and apart from what I used to see in Delirium those are the only ones I have…so I’m Daniel.”

“Bingo!” I kiss his cheek.

“Right answer?” He smiles shakily.

“Uhhuh. Even though your memories are in another person, you do not identify with that other person. You aren’t that person, as far as you’re concerned. Therefore, to choose B, just because your ‘true’ memories are inside them, would be silly. You’re person A still.”

“O…..kaaaaaay…”

“…did I make it more confusing?”

“Actually no. I’m starting to get a grip around it.”

“Good. Because it’s time for recess.” Fooooooooooooood, my inner voice growls.

“There’s one thing that interests me,” he says as we walk out.

“Do tell.”

“Imagine applying this to you and Kaya,” he says. “You’ve experienced her memories, and vice versa. You know her as well as you know yourself, and vice versa. Does that mean that you are Kaya?”

“No, of course not.”

“Why not?”

“…it’s not possible. I know her. She’s a separate entity to me. Isn’t she?”

Dark Hearts and Eyes

Standard

“Daniel, help me!”

“Get it out of her!”

“Don’t let her lose consciousness!”

“Is there anything we can give her?”

“Don’t you see it’s trying to kill her?!”

Those were the last things I heard before…
______________________________________________________________

I could tell from the pure white surrounding me that this was not Reality. But it didn’t feel like Delirium either.

It was warm. I could’ve lain there forever, basking in that glow. But then I heard her voice. Don’t you wonder why I’ve given up on you?

“Hey Kaya.” I coughed and sat up. When I looked around, she was there, standing in front of me clear as day. I couldn’t help it. I ran towards her, and she gave no resistance when I hugged her.

“I’m still annoyed at you,” she murmured, squeezing me back.

“I-I know. And you’re right.” I looked at her face. There were no scars or blood or bruises. The only anomaly were her purple eyes, and they didn’t seem to bulge like they did when she was alive. “I’m dead, aren’t I?”

“Actually, no.” Kaya’s expression became concerned. “What do you remember?”

I remembered, shamefully, what I had done. “I took the pills. I think sixteen? And then I heard voices. Daniel’s, Jhaq’s, Noah’s…” I thought I saw her flinch at Noah’s name. “I should be dead, shouldn’t I? Why am I not?”

“You…didn’t take any.”

“Huh?”

Kaya frowned. “I took over,” she reported. “Everything was spinning, and then I saw what you had been seeing. I got to the sink and I coughed it all up as fast as I could. By the way,” she grimaced, “your brother undoubtedly heard you. He’s going to tell your mother.”

“It’s fine. But what do you mean? I remember taking-”

“I know you do,” Kaya interrupted. “And I thought you had too. Why else would’ve I purged you, if I didn’t think you had consumed something dangerous? But there was no medication. No pills.”

“….huh?”

“Nothing,” she repeated.

“But…why then? Why would I imagine-” I stopped there. If any normal person asked this, it would be one thing. But I was a psycho. It was nothing for me to see things that weren’t there.

Still, this wasn’t the usual hallucination. While I can’t deny that Delirium is indeed not normal, I can say that I have a good idea how it works. And this was the first time that I have hallucinated about my actions in Reality.

“What’s happening in Delirium?” I asked. When she raised an eyebrow, I corrected my wording. “Your world.”

“I don’t know if I can…” she told me hesitantly. “Since your…capture, I’ve become more apprehensive about watching yourself there.”

“I need to go back,” I said. “I need to find out what happened.”

“Cat…”

Something in Kaya’s voice put me on edge. “What? What is it?”

“There’s something I want you to consider when you return. Just to mull over for a while.”

“…okay.”

“What happened to my body?” This wasn’t a question; she spoke as if it were an instruction.

And then Kaya vanished from sight.

“Kaya!” I ran over to where she was standing, only to find thin air. I was alone.

Suddenly, I heard rumbling, as if a herd of horses were approaching. I could see nothing though, only the large white expanse in front of me. “Ka-”

Then there was a flash.
_____________________________________________________________________

“RRRRRRRRRRRRAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAGGGGGGGHHHHHHHHHHHH!”

“Hol-”

My eyes flew open, gazing at those before me; Daniel, Emisair- to my dismay-, Noah, even Papa Willis was there. And a shadow, being held down by Jhaq of all people, who was growling and hissing in a manner that reminded me of Kaya.

Then I realised that my feet weren’t touching the ground. Nor was any part of my body.

My head was touching the ceiling. Of Daniel’s bedroom.

Oh fuck me.

“Shiiiiiiiiii-” That was all I got out before gravity woke up and sent me falling to the ground below. Daniel dove to catch me, but narrowly missed. “Oof!” I landed on the ground, dazed and confused. Somewhere I could hear Emisair’s low chuckle.

Daniel caught me up in his arms. “Cat! Cat!”

The pain of being dropped from five metres into the air onto my ass finally kicked in. I rolled over in agony, out of Daniel’s grasp. “Ow….son of a bitch…..”

“Are you alright?” Noah asked tentatively.

“MY BUTTCHEEKS!” I howled. “Owwwwwwwww!”

The room was silent, albeit the growling coming from Jhaq and the shadow. “She’s okay,” Willis confirmed.

“Owwww….oh….oh no I’m not….this is hell….” I groaned.

At that he raised an eyebrow, as if to remind me of his arm, which currently had something resembling white plaster encasing what remained of it. I made a mental note to apologise later. Right now, I had bigger concerns. “Shadow,” I croaked.

Immediately, all eyes turned back to Jhaq, who had her hands wrapped around what I presumed was the monster’s neck. “Jhaq!” Noah said warningly.

Had he not said anything, things may have been different. But that split second hesitation was all the shadow needed, and suddenly, Jhaq collapsed and the shadow vanished. “No!” I managed to get up and stagger toward Jhaq.

Daniel got there first. “Jhaq, say something,” he urged. “If you can hear me squeeze my hand.”

“Mom…” I looked and saw Ray, her eyes wide open. God knows what she saw before with me, this was probably the last thing she needed.

“Get the girl out.” The order came from Emisair, and when I looked over to her, there was something on her face I had never seen before, though it was unclear whether it was fear or merely uncertainty.

Then Jhaq opened her eyes. Instead of green, her irises were dark. “Where…where am I?” she asked us.

Uh oh.

“Noah…” I said slowly.

“I know.” He looked over at me and nodded slightly. He took Ray’s hand, and lead her out of the room. Her eyes were wide and frightened.

Daniel did not appear to notice anything. “You’re in my chambers,” he told her. “Cat is here, she’s alive and well, I promise.”

“Good,” she breathed. “May I sleep, my lord?”

“Of course,” he said, taking her hand. She smiled softly, before drifting off into a deep sleep.

I was uneasy. “Her eyes…”

“What about them?” Willis was confused.

So was Daniel. “There wasn’t anything wrong,” he said.

“What are you saying?” Emisair demanded. “Are you both blind?”

“You didn’t…see?”

“See what?” Daniel frowned at me.

“I…” I didn’t understand. Her eyes had gone black as coal. Didn’t they notice at all?

Daniel shook his head. “You need rest,” he told me. “Willis, go and find His Grace. Tell him to send people to collect Jhaq and take her to her rooms.”

He nodded, and ran off quickly. “Emisair, if you don’t mind, I want to speak with Cat in private.”

“You aren’t the only one.” Emisair’s red eyes bore into my face. “You saw what was wrong, did you not?”

I groaned. “How should I know?”

“I know you did,” she insisted. “The physic saw, as did I. Even her daughter noticed. You can’t tell me this is all coincidence.”

“I didn’t see anything strange,” Daniel argued.

“Emisair, I learnt a long time ago not to believe what my eyes tell me,” I said softly.

Daniel inclined his head at that, and Emisair scowled. “I see that you are all but useless,” she said. “Very well. I’ll leave you and your paramour to your own business. I have better things to do.”

So what the hell were you doing here then? “By all means, go.”

The minute the door closed behind her, Daniel turned to me. “You saw something,” he said flatly. I nodded. “What is it then?”

“I…” I closed my eyes. “I may have been seeing things.”

“But what was it?”

“I’m not right in the head right now Daniel!”

“Are you ever?” he replied. “Why can’t you say?”

“My head…I….” I took a deep breath and I told him everything about what I had experienced before I woke up in Delirium; the pills, the meeting with Kaya, and the realisation that my suicide attempt was a figment of my imagination; one that belonged to neither Reality or Delirium.

Daniel listened in silence. “I know what you’re thinking,” I told him. “And I hate myself for it, even more than you do. I know how you feel about it. It’s just…at that moment I could feel nothing except pain, and before I knew it, I had found a packet of pills and…” I cut off. “I’m sorry. It was the stupidest thing I could’ve done, and I know-”

“That shadow that Jhaq had caught,” Daniel interjected. “Was that the monster we met when we went to get Papa Willis?”

“I….wouldn’t know,” I said slowly, confused as to how we got on this topic. “What was that anyway?”

He paused for a moment. “The thing inside your head,” he confessed.

“…wait…what?”

“Remember how that thing took over you that one time?” he asked me. “I have a feeling it didn’t really leave.”

“So that’s why…”

“Right.”

“Wait, so is it gone now?”

“I think so,” Daniel assured me. “There wasn’t a shadow there last time.”

“Okay…” I said uncertainly.

“You look confused,” Daniel acknowledged.

“I am. Very.”

“And I forgive you, by the way.”

I didn’t realise how worried I was until I let out a breath I didn’t know I was holding. “Really?”

He grimaced. “Think of it this way. I’m willing to forgive instances where there are evil demons in your brain.”

“You mean I don’t qualify as an evil demon?”

“I’m afraid you’re just a plain, ordinary demon,” Daniel told me in a serious voice.

“Awwww.”

“However,” Daniel said, “If you ever feel like this, you’re to tell me. I know you like to keep things to yourself. But you don’t need to do it alone. I…I want to help. If I can.”

“Okay,” I agreed, allowing his embarrassment to fade. “I can do that. But I don’t want to be watched like a hawk if I do. More often than not, these things mean nothing.”

“Not always though,” Daniel pointed out.

“No,” I acknowledged. “But if you make it seem like an emergency, then…”

“I get it.” Daniel’s hand encased mine. “So you promise?”

“I do. I won’t hurt you like I did again. No matter how bad it gets.”

I meant every word I said, but my mind kept wandering back to the blackness of Jhaq’s eyes. I looked at her, now fast asleep, and wondered how long it would be before she went down the same spiral I did.
___________________________________________________________________
I awoke to a finger poking me in my shoulder. Immediately, I rolled around, five letters aglow, to see Emisair looking back at me. “Get up,” she hissed. “Noah wants to see you.”

I looked back at Daniel, sound asleep. “It cannot wait?”

“No.” She grabbed my arm and pulled me out of bed. “And your paramour would understand not.”

The eyes. But still…could I trust her? “Give me a moment,” I told her.

Emisair rolled her eyes and took off a velvet cloak she had been wearing. “Put this on then,” she ordered. “You’re already wearing more than an Infernal, but if you insist.”

I looked at Emisair. Cloak removed, she only wore a sheer black shift, which was cut so that her pelvic bones were exposed. Knowing Noah, he would be more than embarrassed to see her that way, but at least she wouldn’t be ashamed to show off her body. I, on the other hand, would never be able to handle both of their eyes on what was barely covered by Daniel’s shirt.

The halls were dark as Emisair lead me through. “I still don’t know why you were there,” I told her.

“I was curious,” she informed me.

“In other words, you wanted to see me in pain?”

“Don’t take me for a sadist,” she replied. “I am not the monster you take me for.”

“Neither am I.” She snorted at that. “Yes. You have every reason to think otherwise. But if you can take me for a monster at the sight of me, then I can do the same.”

“Stupid,” she said flatly.

“I’m going to get nowhere,” I said wearily. “Where is Noah?”

I didn’t recognise the place, but it reminded me of a dormitory. Noah was standing by a rickety bed where Jhaq lay. He smiled at me, trying not to look at the barely covered Emisair. “Don’t blame me,” she told him. “I brought her straight from Daniel’s bed, and she insisted on covering up.”

Noah still looked uncomfortable. “You can go back soon,” he told me. “I merely want you to confirm something for me.”

Jhaq looked so peaceful asleep. I really wished that this all meant nothing, that she would be fine. “Her eyes are black,” I told him. “And us three saw it. And maybe Ray, but I wouldn’t know what she’s said.”

“That shadow disappeared the moment before her eyes changed,” Emisair said. “This cannot be a coincidence.”

“It’s inside her now,” Noah confirmed. “She acts normal now, but who knows how long before it decides to take control and slit the first neck it sees?”

I couldn’t imagine Jhaq doing such a thing. “What should we do?” I asked. “We have to get it out.”

“Obviously.”

I ignored Emisair. “If we can get it out of me, we can get it out of her. We have to!”

“It’s not so simple,” Noah said weakly. He looked tireder than I had ever seen him.

I gave him a sad smile. “Never is, is it?”

He simply exhaled. “I think you were able to force it out, which is why you’re alright. If Jhaq were able to….well, we wouldn’t be having this conversation.”

“Maybe she hasn’t realised that it’s inside her? If she knew, she could try-”

“Do that, and that thing will realise that we know.” Emisair’s voice was hard. “There’s really only one thing we can do.”

That’s when I saw what she was holding in her claw. Jhaq stirred in her sleep at that moment, and Emisair brought the knife out of the shadows, ready to strike. “No!”