Insert Obligatory-Christmas-Post-Title Here

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First of all, Merry Christmas. I know it’s a day late, but I don’t really care. When it comes to Christmas, we usually celebrate it on Christmas Eve and Boxing Day. Christmas Day gets spent flying between cities.

Second of all, this is the first Christmas that I’m not spending with my cousins interstate, which has it’s ups and downs. Ups being that I don’t need to put up with jet lag or my paternal cousins who break everything I love. Downs being that I don’t get to see my other cousins in Sydney and watch the Doctor Who Christmas Special.

By the way, I like Capaldi. Not as much as I liked Matt Smith, but I like how they made a Doctor who questions himself and wonders if he’s ‘a good man’, now that he’s no longer charismatic and charming. What I don’t like now is Clara. I feel that as much as I like Twelve, he’s really not good for Clara. Or maybe Clara is just a worse person than they made her out to be when she was with Eleven. Either way, she just becomes so much more annoying this season; she lies to the Doctor and her boyfriend even after they realise eachother’s existence, and she just comes across as self righteous in everything that she does. Maybe that was their intention, but I found that no matter how capable Clara was, I just got tired of her being so ‘goody goody’ and preachy to the Doctor, who was having enough trouble figuring out his moral compass as it was, while being able to get away with her own bullshit because she’s Clara. It frustrated me how Danny was constantly fine with her lying to him and not even trying to be honest with him, which I guess made him more endearing to the audience, but I feel like Clara didn’t get any comeuppance for it, unless his death is somehow karma coming back to bite her in the ass.

Also, the Mistress. I called that shit.

Third (actual) topic on the agenda: The debate over whether 2014 was better than 2013. Let’s do that now.

Reasons why 2014 sucked

-Everybody DIED. And it fucking SUCKED.

-Two hospitalisations for suicidal ideation. One of which I don’t even remember.

-Delirium isn’t completely gone, even after I spent a year trying to stop it from coming back in my head. And yes, I’m working on writing about that, leave me alone.

-Still single, and have been so for a year. More if you count in Delirium time.

-Being forced to actually deal with my depression and anxiety instead of running away into the world in my head to kill monsters and be a badass. I miss being a badass. Even if it tore me out emotionally, it made me feel like there was something good about myself.

-Frigging. Humans. Stabbing. You. In. The. Back. Yes, I’m looking at you Delamore. And fuck you. If I’m not important enough to even say hello to, then you aren’t worth any more of my time. Also, sisters before misters. Remember that before you lose all your friends.

Okee, now that I’m done verbally abusing people, I’m going to list Everything that didn’t suck about 2014:

-I’ve been doing a lot more modelling than previous years, which is awesome. I’ve met so many people and done so many things that I would never have been able to do otherwise. And I’m in a place where I can organise my own projects with people I know, which is even more awesome.

-When I say that Delirium isn’t completely gone, I mean that my pesky imaginary friend/paramour still stays around to ‘protect’ me from myself. The actual world of Delirium, which I’ve spent the past few years falling into, hasn’t been apart of my life for the past few months. So now, there’s nothing holding me back from making a full recovery. This is a good thing.

-I’ve been getting more action this year than I did last year. Which is ironic considering how last year I was in two relationships and I’ve been single the whole of this year. As much as I enjoy being in a relationship, being single is surprisingly rewarding, despite how much I complain about it.

-A continuation on why it’s better now Delirium’s gone; I’m becoming more confident in my abilities. Things get a lot easier when you’re certain that everything around you is real. I’m confident enough that I’m now writing for a magazine as a volunteer writer. Some of my stuff has even been published. But I’m not going to post them up here in case my secret identity is revealed and it follows me for the rest of my life. Sawry.

So when all that is compared to 2013, where I had two relationships end, one suicide attempt, growing hallucinations and one stint at homelessness, things have gotten a lot better for me when you think about it.

Fourth item on the agenda; explaining shit.

Concerning the matter of Delamore and the reason surrounding my negative outlook on her. I suppose if I don’t explain it now, I probably never will, so I’ll give a brief explanation. If Delamore is reading this, I just want you to know that I read your messages to Bad Dog, and if you’re going to call me a self absorbed attention seeker behind my back, then I really don’t want to be your friend anymore, even if what I suspect about you isn’t true.

So what do I suspect you of? I think you’re a liar. I think you lied to Bad Dog, to Snugglepot, and to me. I think that you manipulate people to get your way and cut people out if they’re not important enough to you. I don’t care if you don’t want me in your life, but if you lie to me and go out of your way to hurt me, then I no longer have any reason to care about what happens to you. Just remember that. If you care enough to read about my life, that is.

So now I’ve finished talking to an imaginary Delamore, I’ll explain the situation. Snugglepot had a Halloween party and invited me at the last minute. Delamore, who was in charge of the guest list, hadn’t invited me, and didn’t even know that Snugglepot had added me at the last second till the day before the party. Later in the afternoon, Snugglepot informed me that Delamore said that at least ten people had threatened to not come to the party if I was coming, and so I shouldn’t come after all. So I spent the next few days depressed and humiliated. Until Papa Willis informed me that apparently this wasn’t the case at all. That people didn’t hate my guts and had refused to attend an event that I was going to. To be honest, I don’t know what to believe. Maybe Willis is wrong. But that’s the rundown of the situation.

Okay. Rant over. Goddammit, it’s Christmas. It’s not nice being pissed on Christmas.

Also, Togami. This is what happened. We’ve hung out a couple of times, and we disclosed to eachother that neither of us wanted to be in a relationship if we weren’t sure there was a chance of it being love. So we’re not going out.

We’re just fooling around instead.

Much to someone’s disapproval.

So that’s what’s happened. See? So much easier to explain. And with that, I believe it’s the end up this Christmas update.

“I don’t care. It’s your body. Do what you want.”

“Thankyou.”

“…don’t hurt yourself.”

“…I don’t plan to.”

“Does anyone?”

“I know…you’re saving me from myself.”

“Someone has to.”

“Shush.”

Pessimist’s Dilemma

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Today we’re going back to Reality. So shut up and listen.
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“Were there any problems on the way here?” Lolly asked.

I don’t pretend to misunderstand. “Nah, Mum and I didn’t talk much,” I said.

“Fair enough.” I walked into the office and barely stopped myself from flinching when I saw him in the chair.

“Hello.”

I grimaced at him before sitting down. “We’re not doing this again,” I said under my breath.

“What? I promise I’ll be good, every now and then.”

“So how was work?” Lolly questioned.

“It’s okay…” I said. “I’m not eating though.”

“Oh?”

“Yeah…I’ve just been stressing out about stuff the past week. I think that’s what’s been causing it.”

“How’d you figure that?”

“Well, my anxiety’s been acting up more recently, and that’s when I’ve had trouble eating. It’s probably connected.”

“Do you know how that works? Why people with anxiety start having trouble eating?”

“Actually no. How?”

“You know the ‘flight or fight response’?” Lolly questioned. “Well, when that happens, your body prepares itself to do one of those two. Meaning blood usually goes to the areas responsible for carrying out those actions.”

“Okay…so what?”

“When you’re anxious, your body automatically goes into ‘fight or flight mode’,” she explained. “And when that happens, hunger becomes less of a priority, so your body ignores and even repels that sensation, so that more focus goes into the ‘fight and flight response’.”

“I think I understand now,” I said. “It’s kind of like with exercising, how blood goes to the muscles which do the work. That’s also why your fingers are cold after running.”

“You see? It’s simple when you think about it,” Lolly explained. “Now, you’ve been stressing this past week. Why?”

Yayyy, the fun part. Daniel began making kissing sounds. Shush, you. “I’ve just been worried about work,” I told Lolly. “It’s just been me worrying about what’s going to happen if I screw up.”

“What exactly does ‘screw up’ mean?”

She always makes me explain this stuff. I elaborated. “If I don’t hand in stuff on time, it’s going to have more negative repercussions than if I don’t hand in stuff at school. It’s a magazine, deadlines have to be kept. See?”

“I understand. But that’s not going to happen if you think that that’s not going to happen.”

“Yeah, well, my mind doesn’t work that way.”

“Well, that’s one of the practises of CBT. You learn how to avoid thinking in such a way, and stop you from worrying.”

“I know…I want to think that way, but…”

“It doesn’t come easy, I know. Still.”

“…have you heard of the prisoners dilemma?” I asked Lolly.

“…no. What is it?”

“It’s just a philosophical exercise. Say there’s two prisoners. Apple and Banana.”

“Apple and Banana?” Daniel snorted.

“Roll with it,” I told him aloud. “They’ve committed a crime, and they’re both arrested and put into separate cells. There’s no way they can communicate with each other, so rule out that possibility. Anyway, a detective comes in and talks to both of them separately about their options.

“He says, ‘Listen here, even if neither of you confess, we’ve still got enough evidence to put you both away for two years. You’re going to jail no matter what. But we can make a deal. All we want is a confession, it doesn’t matter who from. If you rat out your partner, you’re only going to have to do one year in jail. Of course, that means that they’re going to have to serve fifteen years time. But if you don’t confess, and he does, then it’s you who is going to be stuck in jail for fifteen years, while he’s out after just one. Now, you’re probably thinking, what if we both confess? Well, I can knock some time off both your sentences for confessing, but you’ll still go to jail for confessing.’ Get all that?”

“…a little bit?” Lolly says weakly.

“I’ll draw a diagram,” I said. I took out some pens and made a little table on the whiteboard.

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“Easier now?”

“Yeah. So what’s that got to do with thinking positively?”

“Which solution would be the most optimistic outcome?”

“…that would be the one where you trust each other. You don’t have to live with the guilt of ratting out your partner, and you can spend two years in jail knowing that at least your trust in him wasn’t misplaced. Unless you’ve got no qualms about ratting out your partner.”

“Nah, you’re right. That’s the best situation, when you can trust eachother enough to stay silent. Now, which is the worst outcome?”

“…I’m starting to see what you’re getting at,” Lolly told me. “You’re saying that if you trust your partner, there’s a chance that they’ll rat you out, and you’ll have to be in jail for fifteen years. And that, for you at least, would be the worst outcome.”

“No, it’s the worst outcome period,” I insisted. “It’s fifteen years in a hellhole, and you’ll spend that time knowing that your partner was the one who sent you there.”

“You’re right. So what point are you trying to make?”

“I’ll adjust the graph a little bit.” I took the pens again and rubbed out a few words and added in new phrases.

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“When you look at the diagram, thinking negatively is a much safer option than thinking positively. Though it would be great to believe that everything is going to go right, when you look at the potential outcomes, it’s not the most rational choice,” I clarified. “Preparing yourself in case the bad luck does come about means that there’s fewer consequences.”

“How so? The bad luck has still happened. The same event has happened. How does already anticipating that it’s going to happen make it better?” Lolly questioned.

“Because you have time to prepare yourself,” I told her. “Things are easier to stand when you’re already anticipating them. In the Prisoners Dilemma, if you assume the worst case scenario, you’re at least going to have less negative repercussions than if you chose to believe in the best case scenario.”

“Do you really think that?”

“Yes,” I confirmed.

“Still, I don’t believe that there’s anything wrong with thinking that the positive could happen.”

“I never said there was,” I said. “The Prisoner’s Dilemma isn’t about looking at just one side of the spectrum; you can assume that there’s an equal chance of something positive and something negative happening. It’s more about preparing yourself for the negative outcomes, not disregarding the chance of something positive coming about.”

“I’m curious about one thing,” Lolly said suddenly. “In the Prisoners Dilemma, you get the least amount of time if you think negatively and the positive happens. Does that relate to real life for you?”

“Yeah, I think so. I reckon good things are even better when you least expect them.”

“As opposed to expecting good things all the time?”

“Of course.”

“So that’s your outlook then,” Lolly fixed her glasses. “What are you really worried about here?”

“Huh?” This was such a change from the philosophical discussion we were just having that I had to rewind for a moment.

“I mean, what is this ‘bad luck’ that you are preparing yourself for?”

“Well, that I don’t hand in assignments on time.”

“Or are you afraid of what will happen if you don’t hand in assignments on time?”

“…yeah. That.”

“And what will happen?”

“…they’ll yell at me. Or fire me….mainly yelling.”

“What do you associate with yelling then?” Lolly questioned. “Why is it hard for you if someone yells?”

“…I don’t-”

“Because it means they’re angry,” Daniel interjected. “And you automatically think that it means that they’re angry with you.” I stared at him. “It’s true. You’re a people pleaser, Miss Madigan, and when people you care about to some degree are upset, you blame yourself.”

I looked up to see Lolly looking at me expectantly. “Sorry, I just blanked out a bit,” I said.

“Daniel’s there, isn’t he?” she said flatly.

“…yeah.”

“What was he saying?”

“…things considering my situation with yelling.”

“…which is?”

“…when people yell at me, it means they’re angry. Which means I’ve fucked up and made them that way,” I admitted. “It’s…completely stupid and I hate myself for it, but yeah. That’s what it feels like for me.”

Daniel smiled at me, and I was relieved to see no malice in his eyes. “Yeah…I learned that eventually. It’s not stupidity Cat. Personally I think it’s more of a habit you’ve developed.”

Doesn’t stop it from being ridiculous.

Lolly agreed with Daniel. “Cat, you’re only seventeen.”

“…yeah.” I cracked a smile. “Yet I’m meant to have my whole career mapped out by now, according to school.”

She laughed. “School is stupid.”

“Yeah. Little bit.”

“Will you be okay for the next two weeks?” she asked. “I mean, if something happens, you know what to do, right?”

“Yeah, we’ve been over this. Get backup and if that fails, call ART.”

“Also, I have something for you to look at,” Lolly added, handing me a document.

We talked for a bit longer before we all headed out to meet my mother. Daniel was quiet on the way home. He never talked in front of my mother. Finally, as we found the safety of my room, he broke his silence. “You lied.”

“…”

“Work isn’t what is worrying you. It’s him, isn’t it?” I looked at Daniel in silence. “You both agreed that you didn’t want to be in a relationship. Not unless you were sure it would work out.” I nodded once. “This, Cat Madigan, is not a good alternative. Especially for you.”

“Yeah, whereas it was perfectly fine with you.”

“I would’ve never hurt you. And you’re a liar if you say you believe otherwise.”

“I don’t expect anything from this,” I told him. “I’m not in the right place for a relationship, and I already know the negative repercussions of what might happen. I can take the risk.”

“You deserve better,” he said staunchly.

“Do you really believe that?”

“I do.”

Black Cat’s Ugly Head

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Mummy, I’m bleeding! the child shrieked as I landed with a thud.

Slowly, I staggered up, dusting myself off, ash and debris everywhere. “Was that really necessary?” I asked angrily.

Temper, temper.

Temper my ass. “What do you expect me to do?”

Why on earth would I give you directions? How boring!

“…of course,” I mumbled. “Well, it’ll be boring if I just stand here doing nothing, won’t it?”

Suddenly, a mass of light was launched at my face, and I stumbled backwards to avoid it. “Fuck!” I hissed. It was then that I was aware of him laughing. “Shut up Neekah,” I growled.

What do you know? I’m having fun! His voice was cheerful, though it still had that sinister undertone.

I got up. “So that’s your plan? Throw fireballs at me while I struggle to figure out what to do? From past experience, that stuff gets old over time.”

Didn’t stop you.

I just shook my head. “Movement…movement…” I got my legs to start walking in the darkness. Step one achieved, now to do stuff. I felt my hand prickle as a faint glow extended from it. The light didn’t touch anything, but it would hopefully stop me from walking into anything. Seek a way out, I told myself. So I began to walk forward, in the direction where the light came from previously.

Cold…cold…colder…. he said petulantly.

I rolled my eyes and nearly walked into a doorway. Hot! Hot now!

“You really don’t know how to play this game,” I informed him, trying the handle. Locked.

Why does it have to be by your own rules? he demanded. I’m the only one playing here, so why should it matter to you?

“Then what the hell am I doing?” I questioned.

Let your rules be your rules and my rules be mine, he sang.

He was becoming more and more unstable by the minute. But that wasn’t what I was worried about right then.

Because I could feel something approaching. It was slight, very slight. It would take one who had lived in pure silence for a very long time to notice it. I could physically feel the vibrations of the footsteps becoming more and more intense as they advanced towards me, hear the creature’s growl in the back of its throat, smell the hunger radiating from them. That door was a mousetrap, and I was the mouse.

I could sense every move they’d make. The second they leapt at me, I was already diving out of the way of the door, preparing myself to strike back. I swung around and raised my arm, fire ready.

I only saw its face when the light seared straight through it. Black scales and scarlet eyes. It didn’t look like Emisair though. Then again, she hadn’t finished changing the last time we fought.

It collapsed to the ground. Watch it, Miss Madigan, he sang. How many more friends are you going to kill?

“Not a friend,” I panted. “And it’s not real anyway. Everything you do is an illusion.”

Why so sure? And why so by the book? Hasn’t that been done enough already?

Shut up…I thought. I got up and inspected the door more closely. A keyhole? “I expected something more high tech,” I said.

Pfffffft. Keys are more entertaining. Now find one.

I suppressed a groan before starting in the other direction. Cold…colder… he murmured again.

Oh for fucks sake…I turned around. Hot…. His voice became excited. It finally hit me then, and I felt a wave of nausea rock my stomach. I reluctantly walked back toward the Emisair-like monstrosity. Hotter, hotter, hotter! he sang. Fouuuund iiiiiiiiit! he finally trilled as I stood above the thing.

“…please tell me that the key is just underneath her,” I grumbled.

The key is just underneath her, he said obediently.

“…why do you sound different?” I enquired. “You’ve been acting like a child all of a sudden.”

When he spoke again, his voice became quieter, more threatening somehow. Don’t mind me… he purred. There’s never been one so fickle as I. Do you know how dull it is to live with the same personality for the rest of your life? It’s…sickening. So I change. There’s nothing wrong with that. Is there?

“…I’m not allowed to judge. I’ve got Kaya,” I admitted.

That’s right…NOW OPEN THE BITCH AND TAKE THE FUCKEN KEY! he suddenly shrieked.

Open…oh god. I looked toward the corpse. She’s already dead, ya piss brain, he groaned. There’s no harm in it, surely?

“Forgive me, but I don’t usually dig around in people’s corpses after they die,” I said dryly.

Riiiiight. I mistook you for the cranky skeleton again. My bad, he replied snarkily.

I tentatively looked at the gaping hole in the beast’s belly. It had gone straight through, and I could see the charred flesh where the light pierced it. “Am I going to have to…”

I dunno. Up to you.

I inhaled. “Right. Okay.” I made myself reach down into the…gap. Ugh….it was still warm. I prayed that the key was just in there, that I didn’t have to…dig into the body.

Aaaaand it wasn’t.

Yay.

I could hear him laughing. “How long ago did you make her swallow the key?” I asked.

You’re assuming I made her?

“Fine. How long ago did she swallow it?”

Just when the game started, my dear. He had changed again; his voice had become soothing, calm, gentle. Like a father singing his child to sleep before he smothered her with a pillow. Why do you ask?

I thrusted my arm upward, tearing through flesh and bone. “Just checking where I should look,” I informed him.

It was at that moment that the monster’s mouth opened and the key dropped to the ground. I stared at it, my mouth agape, my arm still entrenched in the monster’s body. My apologies, he said sadly. I was under the impression that the key was swallowed. Apparently not.

Grimacing, I pulled my arm out, wiping the black guts onto my leg. I picked up the sticky key and angrily shoved it into the keyhole. “This is your fantasy,” I said. “Of course you knew what happened to the key.”

But I am merely a director, he said calmly. I gather the stages, the actors, the music. What happens from there is out of my control. I’m not controlling you, am I?

I turned the key and opened the door. Nothing but black. I tossed a little ball of light though the darkness, and it hit what appeared to be a door about ten metres away. Slowly, I walked. “That right there,” I replied, “is a whole new philosophical debate.”

He laughed jovially. But consider this. Everything and everyone you experience is real. Everything you considered an illusion is in fact, genuine. It is merely, how do you say….different.

“Stop playing with my thoughts,” I said, opening the next door.

Everything in front of me was sky. Cold, silver sky. I looked down to see the ocean below my feet. One drop and I’d be there, in Helevia. “What now?” I murmured.

I suggest you make your leave, he told me. It is clear that you are no longer wanted here…

I frowned, and slowly turned to see Espers with big wide smiles slowly walking towards me. “Can I kill them?” I found myself asking.

There’s more where that came from, he told me. I doubt they’ll follow you though.

“It’s the key all over again,” I shook my head. I took a step backward into the air and fell. “Dammitdammitdammitdammitdammitdammitdammit!” I hissed as the wind screamed in my ears. I inhaled a long breath and squeezed my eyes close as I hit the water with a smack.

I’d only seen this done through Kaya. I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect to be honest. But after a minute of floating beneath the water, I realised that I was running out of air, and there wasn’t anywhere to go. My heart was racing and I just focused on swimming down, I didn’t care where. Helevia was what I hoped for, but hell would do just fine.

Then I was grabbed, and pulled further down, at a faster rate than I was swimming at. I froze and just let them, and when my head started getting foggy, when I was about to give out, there was air.

I opened my eyes. I remembered this room, though the logic behind how I got there was a mystery to me. “How does this work?” I questioned. “Why is there air under a layer of ocean? And gravity for that matter?”

Eh….I don’t feel like explaining, he said in a whiney voice.

“…fine. But I don’t reckon that the laws of physics give a fuck about an apocalypse. Just saying.”

Pffffffft. And you say my logic is fucked.

“Your logic is fucked,” I retorted. I thought for a moment and looked under the nearby mattress. Yup. The large pile of matted silver locks were still there. Reeeeeeeeeeeeeeeugh, he hissed. Grooooooooss.

“Shut up.”

Does she still have the fingerbones there too?

“That came later,” I informed him coldly. “Though I must say, you’re a fine one to talk.”

“Whatever are you talking about?” A voice suddenly asked.

I froze. I knew the voice, though we had never spoken together. When I turned to look at her, I found myself relieved that I wasn’t looking at a mutilated corpse. “And what’s the point of you?” I questioned. “Why do you exist here?”

One green eye and one blue eye gazed at me dreamily. “I could ask the same of you,” she murmured. “Why do you exist here of all places?”

“That question is going to take years to answer. You go first.”

“Of course I exist here. This is my world, my home. You don’t belong here.”

“But this is my head. My visualisation. Why is he making you appear in front of me?”

I took you here because you need to be here, he said in a serious voice. You must be here with the empress Nereida, just like you had to slaughter Emisair.

“This isn’t Nereida, this is you, pulling her strings behind a curtain. She died a long time ago, before I even came to Delirium.”

“A long time ago? But everyone is still alive, don’t you know?” Nereida enquired.

“Not helping.” And then it hit me. I stared at Nereida, who responded with a slight smile. “Wait, what?”

He chuckled. Understand now?

“No…” I tried to process what she said. “Why would you-”

“Tell you that? Why not? You know it’s going to happen. You’ve seen it. Haven’t you?” Nereida responded.

“But…why would you make her like that?” I directed the question to him. “Why would you…what’s the point of making the empress…like this?”

Whatever do you mean? he murmured as if he didn’t already know.

“…her people are dead. She killed them all….if this is all in my head, then what reason would you have for creating a Nereida set before she slaughtered her people?”

Another dark laugh. Splendid…

“Consider this,” Nereida spoke again. Her gaze was calm and kind. More a mother than a murderer. “Everything around you is just as real as that world that you commonly reside in. But to that world, it is only a mere possibility, an idea born from imagination, not yet reality. Understand?”

“…no.”

Why so stubborn, the madman hissed. You know exactly what’s going on, you just don’t want to admit it. Because if that’s true, then that means that you have to accept something that you really don’t want to.

I stayed silent. Nereida spoke instead. “It’s still going to happen,” she said. “Nothing will change in that regard, I can promise you that. But…I assure you that if there were any other way around this, I would take that path.”

“….how can you do that? How can you make yourself do something like this?”

“Anyone can,” she said simply. “It is what has to be done. When you have nothing but your objective in mind, you can do anything. Kaya taught me that.”

I laughed then. A mad, maniacal laugh. “Did Kaya teach you to poison innocent people? To watch as they were strangled from the inside? No, don’t answer, I already know. Kaya would’ve never condoned something like this. And don’t say that she would’ve.”

She smiled back politely, and I felt my stomach swirl around in anger. “What does that make you then?” she asked. “Kaya allowed you to get thrown in here, didn’t she? She’s not the only one who sent lambs to the slaughter, you know.”

“Don’t compare me to innocent children.”

“But you are one. You’ve just forgotten it, that’s all. You think that you’re not one because you haven’t been allowed to be. But you are.”

I shook my head and charged out of the room, into the giant hallway. In front of me was the little ghost child. “How did this happen?” I asked him. “How did you become such a monster?”

“How did you?” Neekah replied, before lunging for my throat.

I found myself knocked to the ground, holding the little monster child away from my neck. I saw Nereida behind us, watching as if this was a performance. Desperately, I lifted him away from me and threw him back as hard as I could. For the next two seconds, I could only watch as he splattered against the wall, his eyes going wide and his mouth half opened as if to scream.

Nereida smiled smugly as I crawled back. “No…” I croaked.

“Are you alright?” she enquired, suddenly concerned. She reached for my hand.

“Don’t,” I hissed. “Just send me somewhere else. Hurry up and do it Neekah.”

Your wish is my command.

Stress Relief

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Or to be more specific, boredom relief. But stress relief sounds better as a title.

You see, my Sunday’s total food intake was eight Mars bars, six Snickers bars and two strawberry Bulla bars. It was only after I had finished devouring that second chocolate covered strawberry flavoured deliciousness that I realised “Oh fuck, I’m going to turn into a ball of lard by February.”

So, I applied for a volunteer writing position at a magazine. It was just a local one, but it was that type of magazine where I could write about things that I enjoyed. Such as talking about my mental problems. Well, to an extent. Anyway, the interview went a lot more optimistically than I thought it would.

It was a colourful underground studio with murals covering the walls. As soon as I entered, I knew that my mind was going to be engaged for hours looking around at everything. Damn short attention span. More people came in and we started talking more about what the magazine was about.

Basically their main categories were Music, Art, Fashion, Theatre, Social Issues, Politics, Film, you know, that stuff that your parents discourage you from getting into when it comes to career choices, because it doesn’t pay as well as say medicine, or law, or business, or drug dealing. Luckily for me, the category I was interested in, social issues, had plenty of availabilities, though I could always write for other topics if I wanted. And I start on Monday next week. It’s pretty cool.

So for once, things are looking good.

Well, with the exception of my trust issues flaring up once again. They do that. Especially when it comes to strange humans.

Seriously, why do I let myself interact with the human race? What’s it with me and throbbing emotional pain that I find so addicting? And I’m getting better for fucks sake! Supposedly.

Sigh…

For those who can’t speak Cat Madiganese, after the interview, I remained behind with another strange human to wait for the managing human of the magazine to discuss stuff. After the managing human phoned in saying that they couldn’t come in today, the strange human asked if I wanted to go get lunch.

“I already ate,” I told him. “Plus I’m poor. Lunch with me would basically be me watching you eat food.”

“Okay. Do you want to come and watch me eat food then?”

“Um, okay. Why not?” I didn’t have shit to do that day. I already did a makeup thing in the morning and I didn’t have to be home till 4 in the afternoon. Not to mention if I was going to be working amongst strange humans, I might as well get used to them.

“So I take it from the interview that you write a bit about mental health stuff?” he asked.

“Um, yeah. It’s…just something that I’ve had to deal with a lot for the past few years. Usually I just use it in fiction and things like that, but yeah.”

“What sort of stuff do you write?”

“Well…pretty random things,” I admitted. “Mainly short stories at the moment. I like psychological, philosophical stuff. Things that make me think.”

“Cool, I did a lot of that stuff in uni,” he told me.

“I thought you said you did programming at Murdoch?”

“Oh yeah, but I helped around as a lab assistant for my friend, when he was working on his thesis.”

“What was he researching?”

“Well, basically his research was looking at if it was possible to change a person’s way of thinking using electrodes and stuff like that,” the strange human informed me.

“Oh yeah, I’ve heard about that stuff. Well, I mainly looked at the ways of thinking. You know CBT?”

“Yeah, cognitive behavioural therapy.”

“Yeah, I just had a look into it. My psych gave me a few pages on thinking patterns. It’s pretty cool. Only thing is I can now see all the bad ways my friends think.”

“Yeah…self diagnosing isn’t a good thing to do though.”

“Well…technically I’m doing it to other people…but yeah, I get your point.”

“Yeah, there’s just too many people going “Oh, I’ve diagnosed myself with schizophrenia or PTSD” or whatnot. I mean, sure, maybe that’s the problem, but if that is the case then maybe you should get it checked out by, say, someone who actually knows what they’re talking about?”

I thought of the girls at school who talked about struggling with depression before sniggering about someone who had scars on her arms. “Yeah, I get what you mean,” I said sadly.

“Really? Because I just looked back on what I said and thought “Wow, what an asshole.”

I laughed. “Nah, it’s okay. You’ve got a point, some people tend to make things like this become a trend. It’s hard to know what’s real and what’s an actual illness nowadays. It’s the truth.”

“Yeah, well, I guess you’ve got a point.”

“Hey, you’re the one who said it.”

We entered the cafe, he offered me the comfy booth seat and ordered his lunch; deep friend squid, beer and cheesecake. “Want one?”

“Nah. I can have icecubes.” I slipped one in my mouth and crunched down on it.

“Oh yeah, that’s right, you’re what, sixteen?”

I stuck my tongue out at him. “Seventeen. And I don’t even like drinking anyway.”

“So you have drank?”

“Once in Europe on a cruise,” I confirmed. “But it tasted like crap.”

“You’ll probably change your mind at some point,” he said. “Everyone does. It usually comes with the knowledge that life is shit and that it’s nicer when you’re plastered.”

“Well, I’ll take your word for it. But yeah, based on everything that has happened these past few years, it’s probably better that I stay clean. I don’t wanna relapse.”

“Yeah, I guess you’ve got a point. Well, you’re smart enough to make your own decisions.”

I burst out laughing. “Yeah, no.”

“Well, you’re doing better than I did two years ago.” Strange Human took a sip of beer to prove his point.

Later on…

“Aww, why did I order cake?” Strange Human complained.

“Yeah…probably should’ve waited until you finished actual lunch before ordering dessert.”

“Hey, do I look like the sort of person that learns from life’s decisions?”

“Yeah, true.” I grinned at him cheekily.

“Hey!” He cracked up. “That’s not how this conversation’s meant to go. You were meant to reinforce the fact that I’m actually a good person and make me feel better about myself!”

“Yeah. I wanted to see your reaction though. Humans are funny.”

“Hey, you’re one of us. Get used to it.”

I shrugged.

“Now, do you want this cheesecake? It would be a shame for it to go to waste.”

“It’s okay, I’m fine for food.”

“Pleaaaaaase? Wait, let me sell you this cheesecake.” He held it up to his face and smiled seductively.

I covered my face with my hand. “Oh god, don’t,” I giggled. It didn’t help things that he looked like Byakuya Togami from Dangan Ronpa and actually could’ve passed as a cheesecake model. “C’mon! You’re taking advantage of the fact that I’m a complete idiot when it comes to laughing!”

“Everyone hates how they laugh,” he replied, still modelling with the cheesecake.

I groaned. “If I eat it, will you stop?”

“Yes please.”

“Fine.” He held out the spoon and I took it. “Meanie. Now my face is red.”

“Shush and eat.”

I stuck out my tongue.

Even later…

“Tell me something interesting about yourself.”

“…ummmmmmm.”

“C’mon. There’s gotta be something.”

“Weeeeeeeell, to be honest, most of the interesting stuff about me….also happens to be in the same sorta category as depressing stuff.”

“Oh…now I feel bad, can I give you a hug?”

“Yeah, okay.” He moved over to the booth seat and put his arm around me. Then he brought his beer over to my side of the table. “Was that just so that you could sit in the comfy seat?”

“What? Awww, I’m not that bad a human being!”

“Yeah, I know. Just teasing.”

“Meanie.” He elbowed me. Which resulted in an elbow off which lasted about ten minutes.

Finally….

“I need to go home,” I told him.

“Where do you go from here?”

“Oh, I just need to go to the bus station.”

“Cool, do you mind if I walk you? I need to go to the train station anyway.”

“Oh yeah, you live in Thornlie. Yeah…if you want.”

We paid the bill, well, he paid the bill, and we walked out. “I thought of something kinda sort of interesting,” I volunteered.

“Oh?”

“I made my ball dress for my school ball.”

“Oh nice! What does it look like?”

“I….uh….it’s…I dunno!”

“Well, I’ll probably understand the technical terms if that makes it easier.”

“Oh yeah, you’re a fashion photographer. Okay….yeah, it really doesn’t. I’m not good with…verbalising things.”

“Fair enough.”

“I’ve gotta pick it up on Monday anyway. Chances are you’ll end up seeing it anyway.”

“Cat!” A girl’s voice called out.

I waved back. “Hey Elle!”

“Hi random human!” Togami called back. I cracked up. “Who’s she?”

“Oh, she’s a friend of mine. She’s pretty nice. Her boyfriend doesn’t like me though. Not that I care.”

“Oh? Is he an ex?”

“God no.”

“Then what is he?”

“Oh, just someone who slept with my ex.”

“You’re a lesbian?”

“Nope,” I replied. He thought for a moment. “Think it through.”

“Ohhhhhhh.”

At bus stop…

“So you’re starting Monday?” Togami asked.

“Yup. Monday Wednesday and Friday, till I get assigned.”

“Well I’ll see you then.” He gave me a hug and let go. He frowned at me. “Are you single by any chance?”

“Um, yeah.” I looked down. “For a pretty good reason too. Because I’m mad.”

Togami looked at me for a moment before leaning in and kissing me on the cheek. “It was nice meeting you,” he told me.

“…thanks. You too.” I stepped onto the bus. “I’ll see you Monday,” I told him. He waved and started walking to the train station.

So that was the cause of my anxiety flare up. Because the only reason I could see a human showing interest in me in that manner was because they were Ted Bundy and they were going to rape and torture me. Or sell me into human trafficking. Or something BAD.

Goddammit.