Teacher

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“You should really stop doing stuff like this, you know,” Daniel informs me.

“What can I say? I have a death wish. Ow!”

“Your body isn’t staying still Cat. Try to control yourself while I’m stitching.”

I just squeeze my eyes shut and try to ignore the feeling. It’s hard though. My neck and throat both sting like hell. You’d think I’d be used to this by now. But I guess you can never really get used to dying.

I do know one thing though.

I’m never going to get my head cut off again.

Not if I’m going to wake up afterwards.

And definitely not if Daniel has to sew my head back on without drugging me first.

Speaking of which…

“Daniel…”

He groans. “What is it Cat?”

“Daniel, where are my breasts?”

“I thought we’ve been over this, they’re non existent.”

“…Daniel.”

“I swear to god, what is it?”

“Daniel, when I look down, I see my bottom.”

“…oh.”

I would’ve shaken my head if it had still been attached to my neck. “How bad is it going to hurt?”

“…”

“…there’s no way you can knock me out first?”

“It’s your own fault, you shouldn’t have-” Daniel’s voice trails off when he sees my face. He shuts his eyes. “How bad does it hurt?”

I grimace, and tears fall out of my eyes. “Point taken,” he says. “Your brain isn’t strong enough for a blow to the head though.”

“It has to be to the brain,” I agree. “I’m assuming pills won’t work either.”

“Pills can’t be digested as is,” Daniel reminds me. He sighs. “I could give you a needle, but…”

“Do it. There’s worse things than needles.”

“You’ll be out for a long time. And you’ll need a few days to readjust.”

I frown. “How long in…”

“Your Reality? Not too long. I’d say about an hour or two.”

“Okay…” I watch him send a girl to fetch a needle, and he turns back to me. We sit in silence for a while.

“How weird does it look?” I ask.

“Pretty weird,” he admits. “It’s not every day you see a head talking without a body.” He has a sad smile on his face.

I chuckle slightly. “Guess what?”

“What?” Daniel looks at me.

“I’m not afraid of dying,” I tell him. “And I can take anything you give me.”

“Doesn’t mean it wouldn’t hurt.”

“I never said that.” I smile up at him. “But I can stand it. I’m strong enough to live with it. At least I think I can.”

Slowly, a genuine smile spreads across his face. “Good girl,” he praises me.

“Am not,” I retort.

He grins, but it quickly fades when the girl returns with the needle. “Stay still,” he whispers.

I hiss slightly when the needle enters my temple. But then everything goes numb, and I start floating…

It’s an ordinary thing to wake up once again. I simply blink open my eyes and roll over again.

Then I remember.

Then I look down, and I breathe a sigh of relief when I see my body’s attached the right way.

My body’s a bit slow when it comes to movement, but it follows my brain’s orders, albeit a second after it issues said order.

I stumble out of bed after 2 minutes of trying to get used to control. Then Daniel comes in, and he sits there watching me stumble about his room. “Like I said, it’ll be a while before you recoordinate yourself,” he says to me.

I merely grumble in response, not paying attention to my surroundings.

“Watch out for-”

I crash into the table, swearing as I fall to the ground. “FUCK!” I yell out.

Daniel quietly sniggers behind me. “Would you like some help?” he asks ever-so-politely.

“Fuck off.” My stomach grumbles.

“Will you be able to handle a spoon by yourself Lady Madigan?”

The answer, it turned out, was no. I ended up getting more soup on my dress than in my mouth. But I was adamant about doing it myself. Not that Daniel cared.

“Say ahhhh,” he told me, wielding the spoon in his hand.

I merely glared at him. He just sighed. “As much as I’m enjoying watching you throw your soup everywhere, I’d prefer it if you consumed some. Otherwise I’m going to be explaining to the chef that my companion has the manual dexterity of a three year old baby.”

I stick my tongue out at him. “At least three year olds are cute,” said Daniel. “Ray’s better behaved than you are.”

“Ray doesn’t have trouble moving her limbs,” I retort. “She climbs the trees outside my window.”

“Shut up and let me spoon you,” he orders me.

“I don’t want you to spoon me,” I reply.

“And I don’t want to deal with a hungry three year old. Their cuteness only goes so far.”

“Can’t I just drink out of a straw?”

“That would defeat the purpose of this exercise.”

“So would you feeding me,” I point out.

“Feed yourself then,” he groans.

“Thankyou,” I beam. And then I proceed to throw soup everywhere, while Daniel looks on, exasperated.

A few days in Delirium go by like this. I wonder how old I’d be if the days I spent here counted in Reality as well. I’m going to guess 17. A year sounds about right. Finally, after days of taunts from Daniel, I can move my body the way I did before my decapitation, although I am still not as strong.

When Daniel learns that I’m coordinated enough, he throws me a sword. I’m able to catch it, before dropping it to the floor. Daniel sighs and hands me one which is the size of a bread knife. “I’ll go find another one,” he tells me.

While he’s gone, I have a thought. I’m not strong. I’ve never been strong, not in that way at least. But as I dash around the room, pretending to fight the air, climbing random objects-bookcases, walls, the top of Daniel’s bed- I know that I’m slippery enough that it doesn’t matter.

I also know that my attention span is that of, well, a cat.

So I hide. I scale the wall and wait for Daniel to reenter the room. He does, and when his head is turned away from me, I leap.

I land on his shoulders, and put the knife at his throat. “How’s that?”

I hear him chuckle, and suddenly, he’s grabbing onto my ankles and he swings me off his shoulders. “Not bad,” he admits. “But…” He drops me onto the ground with a thud. “Never ever miss an opportunity.”

“I would never kill you Daniel,” I tell him.

He laughs. “You get the idea though.”

“Yeah. Don’t give them the chance to turn the tables.”

“Good girl. Next lesson…” Daniel picks me up and throws me over his shoulder.

“OI!” Instantly, I knee him in the face and drop to the ground. I snatch up my knife and hold it at the ready.

Daniel stumbles up and laughs, with a touch of pain in his voice. “I think you’re nearly back to normal,” he tells me.

“Normal?”

“You know what I mean.”

Silence of the Cat

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Here’s the challenge link . And now, here’s another tale of a mad Cat.

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It was hot and stuffy upon awakening. My skin was sticky, and I could smell something foul. When I try to move, my arms push against something scratchy and strong, which prevents me from extending my limbs. Encased in darkness and unable to move my arms or legs, I roll over onto my side. When I roll over once more though, I feel the earth slip out from beneath me, and I’m falling to the ground.

It hurts, and I can’t breathe for a moment. I’m lying on my stomach, and I realise there’s a small, cold object pressed against my mouth. I take it between my teeth and yank it down. Cool air rushes through the bag, and I take a huge gulp of it, before dragging the zipper lower. Eventually, my hand can wiggle up and grab it and pull it down all by myself. When I have enough space to do so, I lift my head out of the bag.

I’m not the only corpse here. An old man is decomposing in a dark corner, while in two bags next to me, the forms of two unknown people I’m assuming are human lie.

My last memories come back. I had died, again. It was fairly quick this time, and no one had slit my throat. There’s a bump on the head from where the metal bar struck.

I wonder if this is where they put the bodies. It’s hard to tell; in this prison, there’s rotting flesh in the living cells as well as the dead. Either way, they had no idea of what they locked up in here. Cat Madigan, undead warrior. In a way.

I look around in the dark, feeling around for objects and praying that my hand does not touch a bone or a rotting corpse. It’s some time before I return to my body bag, where I find the metal bar which put me there. It’s strange that they would put the weapon used to murder me in the same bag as my body, but then I hear footsteps, and I don’t bother questioning my good fortune.

I’ve hidden in a corner, and when the door opens, I’m concealed behind it. One of the monsters comes in, grunting as he pulls in a couple of human sized bags. To my amazement, he doesn’t see me, as I crouch behind the massive door. Clutching the weapon used to kill me, I decide to get my revenge.

He doesn’t live long enough to turn around. I strike him again and again, till I’m satisfied. Then I realise that the door would probably have been left open anyway. This is a room of corpses, and corpses don’t rise from the dead.

I slip out the door, leaving the monster with his victims, and I remember the words of Kaya. I keep in the darkness, the shadows are my friend as I navigate the gloomy prison. The only ones who see me are the prisoners. Their empty eyes stare out at me, but they won’t tell on me. I’m one of them, in a way.

Finally, I reach a place where I am certain Daniel will go. In this prison, there is a wall, which has been broken and melted, and has refused to be repaired. This is where the freak escaped, and where they realised their biggest mistake.

I’m not surprised when two guards come out of their shadows, one shoving his sword under my neck. I shiver at the sensation, and close my eyes, waiting for the sword to bite at my throat, piercing the skin.

But Daniel’s sword gets him first.

The other raises his sword at me and swings it down. I fling myself out of it’s way, and I snatch the little dagger Daniel throws to me. I cannot fight, I am useless at swords. But…

I dodge his blows one by one, and once I’m behind him, I rise the dagger.

I’m very good at cheating.

Even though I have little use for it, I pick up his sword before running out after Daniel, treading on his bloody body. I leap off the edge of the building, landing on a thick, leathery hide. It smells of sulphur and smoke, but it’s warm, and it makes me tired.

Then we fly.

Five Letters Following

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F R E A K

Everywhere I go, they’re there. But why?

I get called a lot of things, but in Delirium, I am called just one; Freak. And now that they’ve carved it in my hand, I won’t ever forget it.

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Daniel knows something I don’t. That’s nothing new, but I don’t like it. Only one thing’s certain; I have far too many scars for my own good, and this won’t be my last token from Delirium.

Tears and Why I Shed Them

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“Please tell me you know why you’re crying,” Daniel says to me.

“….”

“Okay then…what did one of your friends say now?”

I just sigh and show him. “Right.” Daniel cracks his knuckles and flexes his hands. “I’m going to kill him.”

“Don’t.”

“Why? I think Flash should apologise.”

“It’s my own fault Daniel, it’s fine.”

“NO IT IS NOT!” he yells suddenly. “It is not okay!”

“Calm down,” I plead.

“No, I will not. You know why?” He refuses to wait for an answer. “Tell me, when was the last time you spoke back to someone?”

“…”

“Precisely Cat Madigan. So…we should do something about it.”

I already feel a pit of dread growing in my stomach. “No…”

“Stop being a chicken.”

“I’m not a chicken! I just don’t want to lose a good friend.”

“You can do without him, you silly girl.”

“He’s my friend!”

“Cat, what is that falling down your face?”

“Evidence of severe emotional instability.”

“That reminds me….” With that, Daniel disappears.

“Daniel?” I look around my bedroom. “Daniel where are-”

And that’s when everything changed.

My arms hurt, but I couldn’t move them. They were held behind my head by chains attached to the ceiling. I hate them… Struggling hurts more. “LET ME OUT!” I scream. “LET. ME. OUT!”

I could feel him behind me. It wasn’t Daniel, Daniel was warm, you could feel the heat radiating from his body from a couple of steps away; this stranger was cold. Daniel smelt of rain and smoke. The stranger smelt of death.

And I knew him.

“It’s not her,” I tell him. “It’s Cat, my name is Cat, not Kaya, do you understand? Please.” I know what happens next, I’ve seen it happen, I’ve seen it happen to her. Then I realise. “It doesn’t make a difference does it? You would’ve known it wasn’t me, just like I immediately knew you weren’t Daniel…”

I hear him walking, and I finally see him out the corner of my eye. He’s only two steps away from me, but even then I can’t make him out clearly. I just see dark mangy hair.

Then he speaks. “Freak,” he growls.

My head is on fire, and my body slumps. I hang by my arms, only wanting it to stop. “Freakish girl, girl with two faces,” he hisses at me.

“I know what I am,” I croak out, and a wave of pain surges through. Don’t you scream, Cat.

Do you really?” he muses. There’s silence, and I don’t know what he’s thinking, but the pain stops.

And the light vanishes.

Oh no… Focusing, I manage to keep my breathing steady, he will not see me afraid. Kaya might be proud, I think.

All that changes when his nails are digging into my stomach, his mouth snarling down my ear, his icy skin absorbing any heat from my body. I can’t help it, I scream. And his hands, with impossible fingernails as long as knives, dig deeper.

I see blood again. Red, not black, I note. How?

Just before he rips out my organs, I wake up, and I’m coughing and spluttering. More than that, I’m sobbing. I now know why I’m crying, I think, my internal words twisted and bitter. Happy now Daniel?

I can move my hands, and they touch where the monster’s claws were. It hurts when I touch it, but the skin is unbroken.

“Stay with me,” I whisper out loud, to no one.

I go to bed alone, and I pretend to be asleep when I hear him. He curses himself and he eventually climbs in after about ten minutes of panicking. “Forgive…” His voice pleads.

Mercy…the one act separating humanity from becoming monsters. I roll over and look at Daniel; for once, he needs comfort instead of me. “Shhhh,” I tell him, like he often tells me. “Shhhh.”

Tears and Why I Shed Them

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“Please tell me you know why you’re crying,” Daniel says to me.

“….”

“Okay then…what did one of your friends say now?”

I just sigh and show him. “Right.” Daniel cracks his knuckles and flexes his hands. “I’m going to kill him.”

“Don’t.”

“Why? I think Flash should apologise.”

“It’s my own fault Daniel, it’s fine.”

“NO IT IS NOT!” he yells suddenly. “It is not okay!”

“Calm down,” I plead.

“No, I will not. You know why?” He refuses to wait for an answer. “Tell me, when was the last time you spoke back to someone?”

“…”

“Precisely Cat Madigan. So…we should do something about it.”

I already feel a pit of dread growing in my stomach. “No…”

“Stop being a chicken.”

“I’m not a chicken! I just don’t want to lose a good friend.”

“You can do without him, you silly girl.”

“He’s my friend!”

“Cat, what is that falling down your face?”

“Evidence of severe emotional instability.”

“That reminds me….” With that, Daniel disappears.

“Daniel?” I look around my bedroom. “Daniel where are-”

And that’s when everything changed.

My arms hurt, but I couldn’t move them. They were held behind my head by chains attached to the ceiling. I hate them… Struggling hurts more. “LET ME OUT!” I scream. “LET. ME. OUT!”

I could feel him behind me. It wasn’t Daniel, Daniel was warm, you could feel the heat radiating from his body from a couple of steps away; this stranger was cold. Daniel smelt of rain and smoke. The stranger smelt of death.

And I knew him.

“It’s not her,” I tell him. “It’s Cat, my name is Cat, not Kaya, do you understand? Please.” I know what happens next, I’ve seen it happen, I’ve seen it happen to her. Then I realise. “It doesn’t make a difference does it? You would’ve known it wasn’t me, just like I immediately knew you weren’t Daniel…”

I hear him walking, and I finally see him out the corner of my eye. He’s only two steps away from me, but even then I can’t make him out clearly. I just see dark mangy hair.

Then he speaks. “Freak,” he growls.

My head is on fire, and my body slumps. I hang by my arms, only wanting it to stop. “Freakish girl, girl with two faces,” he hisses at me.

“I know what I am,” I croak out, and a wave of pain surges through. Don’t you scream, Cat.

Do you really?” he muses. There’s silence, and I don’t know what he’s thinking, but the pain stops.

And the light vanishes.

Oh no… Focusing, I manage to keep my breathing steady, he will not see me afraid. Kaya might be proud, I think.

All that changes when his nails are digging into my stomach, his mouth snarling down my ear, his icy skin absorbing any heat from my body. I can’t help it, I scream. And his hands, with impossible fingernails as long as knives, dig deeper.

I see blood again. Red, not black, I note. How?

Just before he rips out my organs, I wake up, and I’m coughing and spluttering. More than that, I’m sobbing. I now know why I’m crying, I think, my internal words twisted and bitter. Happy now Daniel?

I can move my hands, and they touch where the monster’s claws were. It hurts when I touch it, but the skin is unbroken.

“Stay with me,” I whisper out loud, to no one.

I go to bed alone, and I pretend to be asleep when I hear him. He curses himself and he eventually climbs in after about ten minutes of panicking. “Forgive…” His voice pleads.

Mercy…the one act separating humanity from becoming monsters. I roll over and look at Daniel; for once, he needs comfort instead of me. “Shhhh,” I tell him, like he often tells me. “Shhhh.”

Strangers in Delirium

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I’m used to people shouting at me when I wake up.

Today, it was Daniel.

Everything was blurry when I opened my eyes. “Where am I Daniel?”

He didn’t say anything, but he held my hand reassuringly until my sight returned. My other senses returned, one by one. This is what I took in; the walls were made of stone, but they weren’t threatening like a prison cell. It was warm, and it smelt of pine; Daniel must’ve put pine nuts in the fire. This wasn’t a hard bench I lay on, instead, all I could feel was soft, smooth sheets.

Then I realised we weren’t alone.

I could feel the eyes on me, and I rolled over to see them. They all flinched when I looked at them. “Am I really that hideous?” I said dryly.

“Humans,” Daniel said, as if that explained everything.

I recognised the little girl peeping through the crowd. “I know her,” I whispered to Daniel. “Her name’s Ray, right?”

He nodded once, and in that moment, the girl dashed through the people to him. He picked her up and squeezed her quickly. “My goddaughter,” he told me, before popping her on the bed beside me.

“Hello…” Daniel, this is not a good idea, there is a difference from a child from Reality and a child from Delirium. I don’t want her to start screaming, I’m a freak as it is!

But, to my surprise, the girl smiled at me and sat next to me on Daniel’s bed. Her presence managed to calm me in front of all the nosy strangers; out of all of them, she was the most ‘human’ looking. It didn’t stop me from recoiling from the others.

Daniel, as if hearing my silent plea, spoke up. “She isn’t on show. Either state your business or leave.”

The majority left, though a couple had legitimate reasons to speak with Daniel. That didn’t stop them from taking a second glance at me anyway. While they spoke, I looked at Ray. She was barely three years old, from what I saw. Her hair was golden and silky looking, but it was her eyes that were the most comforting. They were plain, green, human eyes. Nothing more. She smelt of roses and cream, and when she hugged me, I didn’t resist. After they left, I asked Daniel why I was here.

“Why are you ever here?” was his response.

I just ignored him. We sat in silence for a while, until he just talked to himself. “Things are mad at the moment. The Highest wants a party, I’m sad to say. In times like this…”

I was silent. There’s a great deal that can be said in silence and stillness. It’s so unnatural, that people automatically know that there is something wrong. Daniel stopped and sat down next to me. “What happened?”

I shut my eyes.

“What,” he pronounced. “Happened.”

I made a little movement with my hand and he was quick to realise. “Who did it?” he demanded.

“They’re all shadows to me,” I said softly. I felt as if the warmth from the room had returned to the fire, leaving me in the cold.

Suddenly, Daniel snatched me up in his arms and held me close against him. “Daniel…” I objected.

“Why…” he was saying over and over. It was alarming, Daniel had never done that.

When he released me, the girl had vanished, and I felt exhausted. I lay down on the bed and told Daniel, “I don’t feel like going back to Reality yet. I just need to sleep.”

He nodded.

“But I can’t.”

“Nightmares?”

I nodded.

“They can’t get you here.”

“Because they’re afraid of you.”

“I won’t go.”

“Please don’t,” I tell him.

Daniel sat next to me; I’m now used to him being with me when I struggle sleeping. I closed my eyes. “Why?” he murmured again.

You should be teasing me. Why are you being kind? “Why?” I agreed.