Speckle Eye

Standard

She was standing in the middle of the road, right outside my house. I froze the second I saw her. What was she doing here?

It was then that our eyes met. Even in daylight they seemed to glow. It was the first time that I’d seen the deep gash on the right side of her face instead of the left, I noted. Then she started walking directly towards me at approximately the pace of a charging cheetah and before I could run, she grabbed me. “Cat Madigan?” she demanded. I nodded my head rapidly. “Good.” She released me. She was only slightly taller than me, and even then she seemed to tower over me. “What do you know about me?” she continued, becoming more and more frightening by the minute. 

“Um…” I swallowed. “You’re…Kaya, right?”

“Indeed. Now, why have you been watching me?”

“Huh? Watching-ow!” She had grabbed me by the collar of my shirt. Oddly enough, this terrifying woman was less frightening to me than the shadows were. I had probably seen too much of her life to be afraid of her by this point.

“Answer me!” she snarled. 

At that point, I decided it would be a good idea to scream out for Daniel; if Kaya was here, then chances are, he was too. Before I could though, I heard a roaring sound, and I turned to Kaya. “Get off the road!” I yelled. I wrenched myself out of her grasp, grabbed her, and pulled us back onto the side path. The asshole in the sports car zoomed past seconds later, making no attempt to slow down not only for us, but for another car pulling out of the driveway. 

I looked back at Kaya and tried not to laugh. Her eyes were bugging out of her head, her jaw hung open. No, it was more than that, she was visibly shaking. “…you okay?” I asked tentatively.

“What the FUCK was that?” she screeched. That was it. I lost it. After failing to conceal the first snort of laughter, I just doubled over, giggling helplessly. 

She looked down at me, confused and irritated. “What are you doing?” she said suspiciously.

“Your face,” I crowed. “I’m sorry, I really am, but…” I just buckled over laughing. Kaya stared at me. “It’s okay,” I reassured her. “It was just a car, they come by all the time here. Don’t worry about it-”

Don’t worry about it?!” she shrieked. “That thing tried to maul us! Just because we were in its way! Didn’t you hear it growling at us? I knew you humans were murdering bastards, but…why are you still laughing?”

Tears were streaming down my face. I suddenly had a vision of a Hungry Hungry Hippo totting down the road like Pacman. Omnomnomnomnomnom… “Oh Christ, oh god…” My stomach was starting to hurt. 

Eventually, I managed to calm down. I looked up, and saw that the anger had faded from Kaya’s face. “Okay, I’m okay now,” I informed her. “Are you okay?”

She nodded. “You, on the other hand, are insane.” 

“Uh huh.” I grinned. “Well aware of that.” Kaya was quiet again. “Do you want to come inside?” I asked. She hesitated. “It’s okay,” I reassured her. “They…the humans can’t see you here.”

“That’s why-”

“No, I mean they literally can’t see you. You’re invisible.”

“…invisible?” I nodded. I held out my hand for her to take, but she just stared at it. “Okay…” I sighed, taking it away.

She stood there. “What…did that mean?” 

“What?”

“…you offered me your hand. What did you mean by that?”

“…it’s a gesture,” I said weakly.

“What kind of gesture?”

“…friends?” I didn’t know how that would go down with her. “Forget it, I didn’t mean anything by it. I’m sorry. Do you want to come inside?”

Silence. I took this moment to look at her face. There was no cruelty in her gaze, quite the opposite; she was scared. If you took away her scars, her mutant purple eyes, there was just a scared little girl.

Suddenly, she thrusted out her hand, holding it in front of me as I had done. She looked at me expectantly. 

Without question, I placed my hand over hers, and the claws closed around it.

_____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

“Why are they screaming at eachother?” Kaya asked, as my mother and father screamed at eachother while we quietly walked past them.

I shrugged. We ducked inside my room. “You’re lucky,” I told her. “It’s one of the cleaner days.”

Inside was Daniel. “There you are,” he said, walking over to Kaya. “Everyone at Helevia is having a heart attack right now, are you aware?”

“I’m fine,” she said. “Can you let them know I’m alright?” Daniel looked confused. “I’ll return soon. Unless you’d prefer to stay here with us.” She seemed oblivious to Daniel’s lack of interest or notice of me. I flushed and turned my head.

Daniel sighed. “I’ll go back. Will you be taking care of her from now on?” For the first time, he acknowledged my existence in this room.

“What do you mean?”

“Shadows follow her. That’s why Nereida sent me here to begin with. More often than not, I have to rescue her from them. But if she’s more comfortable with you…”

He can’t wait to be away from me. “If she wishes,” Kaya said mildly. “I cannot always be here however, and you seem more adept at this than I am.”

Daniel nodded. “I’ll see you then,” he said to her. He started walking towards my door.

“Goodbye,” I said softly after him.

I hadn’t expected him to reply. “Good day, Miss Madigan,” he said absently. Then he was gone.

“You don’t like him?” Kaya questioned me.

“It’s not that,” I told her. “I’m just…well, he doesn’t really like me.”

Kaya thought for a moment. “He was glad to have saved you,” she said to me. “He just doesn’t enjoy being in this world.”

“Why?” 

“Because no one sees him.” Kaya sighed. “Everyone one in my world but Nereida sees him as an animal. And in your world, everyone treats him as though he doesn’t exist. You as well.”

Guilt swelled up in my stomach. “I don’t know what’s real anymore,” I said in a whisper. “I’m…I’m the only one who can see you; no one else can. I’m…” I looked pleadingly at Kaya. “Please tell him I’m sorry. If he wants to speak with me, I’ll come with him and talk privately. It’s just…”

“-you don’t want everyone looking at you strangely,” Kaya finished. I flushed. “No, I understand. It’s obvious how this would look to other humans. And you shouldn’t be discriminated for talking to us. I’ll advise him on this. And what you said.”

“…thanks.”

We sat there quietly. I looked up at her. “Why have I been seeing you?” I asked.

Kaya frowned. “I came to this world to ask you this as well. Nereida tells me nothing.”

“What did she tell Daniel?”

“That a special girl needed saving.” I snorted at being called ‘special’. “And if he saved her, then she’d help him find his home.”

“…what good is that going to do?”

“Why do you say that?” Kaya’s eyes narrowed.

I looked down, suddenly afraid. “No one can see you guys,” I reminded her. “Even if Nereida finds out who he is, he won’t be able to go back. Not if they can’t see him.”

“Worst case scenario, he finds out what happened to his loved ones, and gains closure,” Kaya returned.

“…what would he do then?” 

“That’s up to him.”

“…I cannot imagine a fate worse than being invisible and alone.” 

“He won’t be alone.” I looked up to find Kaya staring at me. “You and him have the same eyes, you know.”

“We do?”

“Yes.” She gazed intently, holding my chin with her hand, careful not to claw me. “Millions of little lines, multicoloured dots. Blue, green, grey, gold, brown, olive. Scattered like a cluster of stars. You both have galaxies for eyes.” She turn turned from me and stared at her reflection in the mirror. “We only have the one colour. We’re so…dead. You humans are so full of life, so dynamic. Me and my mind, we’re all monsters. Not just me. We’re not all aware of it, but we are.”

“…no. You’re really not.” I took her hand and pushed myself against her chest, wrapping my arms around her. She froze, then after a few seconds, returned the hug.

Advertisements

Better Than Me

Standard

I should really stop dreaming.

Also, there was a legitimate reason for me not posting. WordPress on my iPad wasn’t working. Not to mention Year 12 is crushing my soul. 

Anyway. Flashbacks fucking suck. The end. 

_____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

 “Well? What do you think?”

I jump as the man behind me speaks suddenly. After quickly looking around for humans, I speak. “What do you mean?” 

 “I know you know,” he says flatly. 

 “About what?” 

 “About what just happened. Come on. What do you think?” 

 I turn around slowly. “Kaya…disappeared. After someone crashed into the palace, right?” 

 “…you know that someone, don’t you?” 

 “…” 

 “Who was it? Did you see them?” I can see that Daniel’s trying to keep his voice as non threatening as possible, but I can still feel the tension radiating from him. 

“…I didn’t need to,” I whisper. “There’s no one else it would be.” 

 “Who?” 

 “He killed her,” I say to him. “How could you not consider him?” 

 He’s silent for a moment. “You mean…” 

 “Yes.” 

 “But he’s in hiding. Why would he steal Kaya?” 

 “I don’t know. Because he can?” I feel drained from this conversation. Daniel’s eyes won’t leave my face, as if I’m hiding something. Which I am.

“You know what Kaya’s capable of,” I explain. “If he could control Kaya, imagine what he could do.”

It dawns on him. Even though this is more of an attempt to sway his attention away from the truth of her death, it is a genuine concern, not just for him, but for Kaya’s world. Not that I care. “You’ve got a point,” he says. “With Kaya’s body on life support, it wouldn’t take much for someone like him to reanimate her. She’d be a true weapon then.” My blood runs cold at the image of Kaya taking a step like a puppet dangling from a string, so much closer to reality than he realises. “I don’t understand why he’d leave her on the lake after killing her though,” he argues. “Why would he let the enemy take her back only to retrieve her again? As a result, we now have new information concerning Esper tech. Not to mention it would be a more effective strategy to leave us in the dark on Kaya’s status.”

“I don’t know. Maybe he’s just showing off. Showing us that he can infiltrate the castle. Putting us on edge.”

“Why not just kill us then?”

I frown. I didn’t take Daniel to be the type to not percieve this. “Obviously he wants to torture us before he kills us. It would be more fun for him that way.” I let my disgust of the monster show on my face.

Daniel just stares at me. “Since when do you know how psychos work?” he enquires.

I shake my head. “I’ve been watching monsters longer than you,” I told him. “Their insanity isn’t that hard to pick up on.”

Daniel accepts my excuse. “Still, it’s a big risk, letting us take her back. Would he really gamble the goals of the Espers for a quick thrill?” he contemplates.

“He’s not working for them,” I object too quickly. Immediately, Daniel’s face becomes suspicious again. I quickly clarify. “I think he hates them as much as he hates us,” I say. “He has no side but his own.” Just like Kaya.

Daniel watches me for a moment, and I worry that he’s picked up on what I didn’t say. For a moment, I feel guilty that I’m keeping this from him. If our roles were reversed, I’d want to know the truth. Then he speaks again. “He’s like you then,” he concludes. “No other concern except for himself. Maybe it’s not just Kaya’s viewpoint that makes you understand him.”

His words are cruel, and they sting as if he slapped me. Why was that necessary? I look away from him, gritting my teeth in silence. One thing was for certain; any pity or guilt I felt for him immediately vanished.

_____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

That incident didn’t stay on my mind for long. Things at home were horrible, and though Daniel’s words stayed in my head long afterwards, I focused on other things.

Then he found out.

I didn’t speak to him when he appeared in my room. I never did. I always waited for him to start talking. And then he did. “Suicide,” he said flatly. 

My stomach leapt. 

“It was suicide,” he repeated. “Kaya knew she was going to die. And she did it anyway.” He stared at me, no set expression on his face. Then his eyes narrowed. “How long did you know?”

“…from the beginning,” I admitted, closing my eyes and shutting off my computer. I pushed it aside and sat up.

“Why?” he said. “Why didn’t you tell me?”

“She didn’t want me to.”

“That’s not for her to decide,” he argued. “For gods sake, she was your friend too. How could you just accept this?”

I was shaking. “What could’ve I done?” I pleaded. “I couldn’t go into your world, remember? What could’ve I done to stop her?” Daniel continued to glare at me. “You don’t think I tried to stop her? After she told me, I begged her not to do this. But she ignored me, and then she was gone…” I took in a deep breath. “I knew her plan,” I admitted. “But there was only so much I could do. After she left, there was no way-“

“You could’ve told me!” he shouted. “I could’ve stopped her!”

“You would’ve. And then Kaya would been thrown in prison for conspiracy to high treason,” I retorted. 

“But that bastard would still be in jail. They would’ve released Kaya-“

“They killed her mother!” I blurted out. “And they wanted Kaya dead too, five years ago. Don’t you get it? This way, those men will die at the hands of the Espers. This is her revenge.”

“She wouldn’t give her life-“

“She would. You know that, don’t you?”

“I…” Daniel’s face was mixed with rage and despair. That’s when I figured it. He already knew that she’d give her life for this. That wasn’t the issue. It was that Kaya would throw him to the sharks too, despite everything they went through together. 

“Daniel…” The name was strange on my tongue. I had never called him by name before, and it was awkward. “I’m sorry,” I said at last. There wasn’t really anything else I could say.

Daniel quietly looked up at me. Immediately, I tensed up, already anticipating what was coming. And I was right. “Of course, it would be fine for you,” he spoke darkly. “None of this effects you. Even if Kaya’s dead. All you have to do is sit back and watch everyone die. That shouldn’t be too difficult.”

I had gotten up from my bed and had been pacing up and down my room for a while now, randomly picking up stuff from the floor, as if that would stop his words from hurting. He went on. “Nereida, Kaya, you’ve watched people die before. You’ll probably cheer when one of the Espers tears my fucking head off-“

That’s when I swung around, my fist smashing against his face. He stumbled back, caught off guard. Immediately, I backed away slightly, waiting for him to react. I just knew he’d get back at me. I knew that it was only a matter of seconds before I was lying on the ground getting the shit kicked out of me. I had no idea what possessed me to hit him.

Moments passed, and I realised that the blows I had been bracing myself for never came. Daniel just stood there, watching me, as if I was some strange beast that had escaped its cage. He once stared at Kaya the same way, in fact. “I deserved that,” he said finally. “I…shouldn’t have-“

“Shut the fuck up,” I hissed suddenly. His eyes widened. “How dare you. What do you take me for? I’m not…I’m not this twisted psycho who gets off on watching people die!” I was steadily losing control, but I didn’t give a crap. “Do you think I enjoy being able to do nothing? Do you think I’m happy to just sit there while people I care about die?! Why…” I tightened my hands into fists. “Why do you think I’d want you to die?!”

I could’ve slapped him for the incredulous look on his face. “You don’t?”

“No…” The anger quickly evaporated, and I was left trying to hold back what seemed like an endless supply of tears. “Don’t be stupid. If you died…” There’d be no one left to help me, I finished in my head. But I wouldn’t say them out loud to him. 

“…I spent the last few minutes verbally abusing you. You should hate me,” Daniel countered.

“I don’t.” I feel tired all of a sudden, and I sit down on the bed. “Kaya…was important to you too. I can understand how you feel.”

“….how do you do that?” he asked quietly. 

“…do what?” 

“Justify it. How can you allow people to do things to you that you can just sweep under the rug?”

I thought about that for a moment. It was just so…natural, that I never even questioned it until now. “It’s just…” I struggled to say, “it’s not like there aren’t more horrible people than them.”

“Like who?” Daniel retorted. “Is it even possible to hate someone who’s never done anything to you?”

“Yeah. It is.” If I looked at Daniel, I would burst into tears, so I kept my eyes firmly closed. “You were right, you know. About people who can’t do anything. Sometimes you can hate people so much just because they were involved and couldn’t, or didn’t, do anything to stop it.”

“…you mean…”

“…I’m sorry,” I said to him in a whisper. “I need to be alone.”

“You’re shaking…”

“I don’t care. Just go. Please,” I begged. 

For the first time since I had known him, Daniel did as I asked. I was finally left alone to shed the tears that I had locked in for the entire conversation. And for the rest of the night, I lay there, holding my knees and hating myself.

Next thing I knew, I was in Delirium.

Zzzzzzzzzzzzzz….

Standard

Don’t feel like writing about Delirium. Because that involves remembering and remembering sucks.

…I’ll mention one thing. I dreamt about the time that Daniel and I were taking care of a mechanical infant called Mia. That happened last night, it seems like years ago. And I miss him more than anything now. I never realised how lonely I actually am before…

NOPE. Gonna talk about Reality now. NONONONONONONONONONONO, I’m DONE. NO MORE DELIRIUM. Today.

Anyway. Here are today’s news headlines.

Delamore is a lying manipulative bitch, and there is a legitimate reason for thinking this. I’m not entirely delusional. Anymore. I’ll go into more detail later.

Exams are next week. Tuesday, English at 12:30. Thursday, Maths at 8:30. Friday, Religion at 8:30. And then I’m DONE. And Flash and I are going to go out on Tuesday and get wasted….meaning we’re gonna go on a junk food spree instead of actually doing something productive.

Ball gown is nearly finished. And it looks good. Not on me though, I never like how I look. Shaddup. There’s still the lining to attach and panel to lace with actual lace, but so far, it looks wearable, though it’ll take Brownie to hold me at gunpoint before I’ll convince myself to put it on and wear it to the school ball. Which is something I can see her doing.

That’s another thing. I don’t want to die. Which is good, I think. And a change of pace, considering things.

I’m probably going to go to TAFE instead of uni. Or at least, I’ll go to TAFE first. I’m not taking a WACE pathway, so I can’t get into uni without doing a bridging course first. And apparently TAFE pathways will involve more activities actually related to work. Not that I actually know what I want to do with my life. For homework, I was giving a big book to look through and find things. So that’ll be fun.

Modelling is going okay at the moment. Next photoshoot is Sunday, where I have to be fire. Not allowed to set things on fire though, as it’s fire ban season. Not to mention I physically can’t anymore. Believe me, I’ve tried.

I’ve nearly finished Year 11. Never thought I’d make it this far. Maybe I can keep going until I’m no longer plagued by this illness, which has been with me ever since I was very small. And then I’ll be free.

There’s nothing sweeter in this world than freedom.

Happy Place

Standard

Things are…okay at the moment.

I’m not failing school (currently).

I have friends who, for some reason, put up with my shit despite everything and seem to genuinely care about me.

I have two modelling jobs this weekend, and a few more later next month.

My parents aren’t cursing me for being in a good mood….at the moment.

My brother doesn’t steal my things anymore. Probably because I am lacking in things to actually steal, but that’s beside the point.

I’ve found joy in writing and drawing once again.

I have some amount of measurable intelligence which will get me through 2CD Mathematics.

I haven’t yet stuffed up my ball gown. And I’ve finished the bodice already and it looks good fitted on me, albeit very slutty sans the skirt.

I actually have a date to the ball (thank you God).

I’m slightly better looking than a dishrag.

I was described as Dita Von Tease x Jennifer Lawrence x Luna Lovegood, which is enough to satisfy my vanity for one day, though it’s probably far from true.

My hair is fucking amazing.

I don’t have breakdowns every day.

And I have some reason to believe that no matter what, I’ll be okay on my own.

So that’s good. Because for now, things feel worth surviving for.

And I haven’t even been out on meds yet.

Guilt

Standard

The day before my birthday went like this. Still not dealing.
_______________________________________________________________________________

Daniel frowns at me. “Cat?”

“Yes Daniel?”

He hesitates. “…what are you doing?”

“Yoga.”

“Oh good.” He pauses. “Why?”

“Because I’m unfit and depressed and this will hopefully make me fit and undepressed.”

“Is that even a word?”

“…I really don’t know. I nearly thought I said ‘undressed’ for a moment. No idea why.” I lift my legs into the air and place my feet behind my head, as Daniel watches on with wide eyes. “So what’s up?”

“…would it be inappropriate to say ‘dat ass’?”

“Yes. And please don’t say phrases like that, it really doesn’t suit you.”

“Thank Christ. Anyway, we’ve got a job to do.”

“Oh?”

“Do you remember Thommand going on about the Lake of Ghosts a few months back?”

It takes me a moment to respond, as the image of Kaya falling through the ice flashes across my eyes. “Go on.”

“There’s been more activity. It could just be someone wandering for kicks, but Thommand’s thinking humans. He wants us to check it out.”

“Us? I thought I was in the time out corner.”

“You’ve been allowed out for nearly a month now. It’s just, well, I’ve been keeping certain people off your back so that you could have time to heal a little bit. You needed it.”

This makes me smile. “Really? You did that for me?”

“Moving on…before you get mushy,” Daniel says dryly, though I know he’s secretly happy to see my reaction.

“Why, I’d never.” I slowly roll my back down so each vertebrae lies flat on the mat. I had made the mistake of going too fast the day before, and I was determined not to repeat it, for my back’s sake.

Daniel continues. “Do you want to bring Papa Willis along? Thommand will allow it, and Noah’s willing to let him come along.”

“Yeah, Papa Willis will love it. A day with an emotionally whacked semi-human and the worst babysitter ever in a supposedly haunted forest which has been frozen over.” I’m still lying on the ground as I speak. “Interesting why he didn’t recommend Noah like last time though.”

“Hmm?”

“I thought that Noah would’ve been recommended, not Willis, considering his condition,” I muse thoughtfully. “I’m wondering why he’d put him forward.”

Daniel sighs. “You know what the Lake of Ghosts means to them,” he reminds me. “They claim not to feel guilt, but…well, those rumours about it wouldn’t be there if that was true. And since Kaya’s death, it would be even more dangerous for them to go near.”

“So they’re sending us three instead. But why me?” I sit up and cross my legs. “Considering my amount of self hatred, is it really wise to send me to a ground that kills the guilty?”

“If you were normal,” Daniel says.

That’s when I remember. “Oh yeah…” It’s been so long since I’ve died in Delirium that I completely forgot. “Respawning. Right.” Something occurs to me. “Wait, so Thommand is perfectly fine to send you and Papa Willis out there as well?”

“Humans,” Daniel says simply. “And we’re not in danger of guilt. Or at least Willis isn’t. But I made it back across when Kaya died, so I’ll be able to manage. At the very least, Willis will be able to help me when we’re on there.”

“If you say so.” I make a face as the program playing on my iPad comes to a finish. “I don’t enjoy drowning though. It’s a horrible way to die. It’s cold…and the last thing you feel is desperation.”

“You’re still coming though.”

“Oh yes.”
_______________________________________________________________________________

It was dawn when us three shivering humans reached it. I pointed it out to Papa Willis, who was sporting two of Daniel’s woollen coats. “Where the ice begins to form on the ground,” I told him. “You can see the bodies from here.”

“There’s bodies?” Papa Willis croaked.

“Yeah…under the ice…” It’s as if I’m looking into a window, into a frozen world. A horrible, grim picture. It’s almost too clear; maybe there isn’t any ice that will separate me from the freezing water.

“I…don’t see anything,” Papa Willis says uncertainly. “Sorry Cat, I’m trying.”

“It’s okay,” I told him. “It just means you’re luckier than me.” Something suddenly covered my eyes. “Hey!”

“Not taking any chances,” Daniel informed me. “It’s only for when we’re walking on the ice. When we’ve reached the ground, Willis will take it off.”

“Fine…” I grumbled. “Wait, why Willis?” The only response I received was the sound of Daniel treading onto the ice. “Daniel!”

“Willis, if there’s any danger, then take of the blindfold. Otherwise, keep guiding her towards that stretch of land there. Be careful of weak spots in the ice. When you’re done, meet at the ground there,” Daniel called, his voice becoming more distant.

“If Cat’s dead?”

“So confident in my abilities,” I murmured.

“Noah gave you a tool. Use that to keep them off you. If Cat’s still alive, she can teach you how to use it.” I could barely make out his last sentence, his words were faint, quieter than a whisper.

“Willis?”

“Yeah?”

“Tell me the truth. Does Daniel have a flask in his hand?”

Silence.

“Goddammit Daniel,” I sighed.

“He usually drinks on the job?” Willis asked.

“Yeah…and at feasts. I don’t know what to make of it.”

“It’s his choice, I guess,” he sighed. “But you haven’t said anything to him about it?”

I grimaced through my blindfold. “Well…I tried once. But he just said that he needed it. It’s his way of keeping sane, I suppose. Like mine is…” I went silent.

“What?”

“I don’t actually have one,” I admitted. “I’m too scared to use anything, in case I become dependant on it. I’ve got too many vices as it is.” I decided that was enough on the subject. “Can we move onto the ice now?”

“…okay. Do you want me to hold your arm?”

“Yes please.”

He took my arm and started to lead. I felt the slight tremor of the ice as I stepped onto it, and I gripped Willis’ arm reflexively. “Easy now,” he said.

“Sorry…” We kept walking, at the pace of a snail, as to leave the ice undisturbed. I wondered if Willis was feeling the same vibrations beneath our feet, or if he was starting to see the lifeless bodies frozen below us. How much did he carry with him?

“Cat?”

“Hmm?”

“Why is everyone scared of this place?”

I hesitated. “How much do you know?”

“That if a guilty person walks on the lake then the ice will break. That’s it really.”

I sighed. “Before I say anything, I need to know. Do you have anything you’re particularly guilty about?”

“Not really, no,” Willis said.

“…really?”

“Why don’t you believe me?”

“Don’t take it personally, I don’t believe anyone,” I said cheerfully. “But it’s not that I think you’re lying.”

“Right…”

“What if I phrase it differently? Is there anything you wish that you could undo?”

“…”

“Ring a bell? Ding ding?”

“It’s not going to drown me.”

“Yeah, well, which of us would know better?”

“It’s stupid.”

“Can I decide that?”

He sighed. “I was with two of my friends when we ended up…” His voice trailed off.

I realised. “Here? In Delirium?”

Papa Willis nodded. “We had been here for three days before the things started chasing us. If we had known that we’d be hunted upon being seen, we would’ve stayed hidden in the woods, but…yeah.”

“Go on.”

“After a day on the run, we ran into someone who offered to hide us. We stayed in the basement, and she brought us food every now and then. I’ve got a feeling she was a hooker…but she was nice.”

“She helped us run when her pimp found us. We just got out when the…” He fell silent.

“I know the ones you’re talking about,” I told him.

“Okay…” Willis inhaled. “She was left behind, to face them. And later…Slenderman tried to hold them back by cutting one of them down, and then…”

“You don’t need to finish it,” I told him. I already knew how the story ended, and I didn’t need to know the identity of his other companion, the one who managed to escape.

Papa Willis sighed. “Yeah…I guess that qualifies as guilt, huh.”

I thought for a moment. “Survivors guilt, yeah. I’m not sure if that’s enough to fall through the ice though.”

“Tell me the story anyway, Cat,” Willis insisted. “Daniel isn’t afraid, and he knows what’s going on. I’ll be fine. C’mon.”

I groaned at that. Men… “Fine!” I snapped, feeling him flinch next to me. “But only when we’re close to land. Got it?”

“Okay. It’s not too far now,” he said. “Never took you for a snappy person.”

“Oh, I’m not usually. If I’m snarky around you, it means I’m comfortable enough to speak my mind,” I advised him. “That’s a good thing.”

“Is it?”

“It means that I don’t need to awkwardly make conversation to calm myself down,” I explained. “Those conversations usually head toward philosophy or Creepy pasta.”

“Nice.”

A while later, I breathed a sigh of relief as the ground beneath me stopped surging and there was calm inside my mind. “We’re on ground?”

“Yup. Now tell me what happened.”

“Okee! It’s story time, Papa Willis,” I said cheerfully, taking off the blindfold.

“…I’m beginning to regret this.”

“You wanted me to tell.”

“Fine.”

“Well…first of all, I’d better explain. There used to be humans, see. But then something else happened and, well, people like Noah and Jhaq came to be. And humans hated them.”

“Really? Why?”

“I dunno. Humans are stupid, Willis. Anyway, it was then that humans decided to get rid of them all.”

“Seriously?” Willis looked appalled. “We started this?”

“Not too sure about that,” I admitted. “What’s the first rule of history?”

Willis thought for a moment. “It’s written by the victors?”

“Mmmhm.”

Willis smiled, if only for a moment. “That’s means that the humans lost, didn’t they?”

I smiled sadly. “How many humans have you seen here?” I reminded him. “And this is only a recent occurrence. Before Daniel, humans were nonexistent.”

“…how did they die?” Willis’ voice is quiet.

“…you really want me to finish?”

“…yeah. I do.”

I gestured towards the Lake. “Helevians. And Etheral. Helevians caused the world to flood, drown out the humans. After that, Etherals froze it all. Because apparently, drowning them wasn’t cruel enough.” My voice had become bitter and sardonic.

Willis’s face was frozen. “Right.” When I didn’t say anymore, he tried to smile. “It’s…okay. Go on.”

I sighed. I didn’t like this story, and my version had been dumbed down from an account full of glorified descriptions of their victory, as well as stories of ugly, monstrous humans who, and I quote “slit our children’s throats and cooked them”. Between the impossible self-righteousness of these people in Delirium and, as Papa Willis pointed out before, the fact that history is written in favour of the winners, it would be impossible to know exactly what happened. But I continued. “Anyway, after that, people started to see the bodies of humans who had been frozen underneath the ice. Some more clear than others. The rumour goes on to say that a guilty mind will be able to see the corpses more clearly, as if there’s nothing separating them, not even the ice. An even guiltier mind will look at the corpses and see the faces of people they’ve betrayed. And if they walk on the ice, the guiltiest minds get weighed down until the ice breaks beneath them and they fall through.”

Willis shakes his head. “Well, there goes any sense of assurance I may have had. We’re going to die.”

“Nah.” I gestured towards myself. “Video game immortality, remember? And I’ll never let you die.”

“Promise?”

“Mmhm.” I grinned at him cheerfully. “Cross my heart and hope to die, hope to stick a pin in my-” Something in the distance caught my attention at that moment. “Oh dear.”

“…is ‘oh dear’ a euphemism for something?”

“Nope…”

The blurry figures started to approach the both of us. One of them called out. “Drop everything, you two. We have you surrounded, and don’t think we aren’t afraid to kill.”

Evil Twin

Standard

I don’t see Kaya as often as some people think. She’s only in my head when A, I have a bad episode in Delirium and she comes in so people don’t hear me dying, or B, when she’s in a very bad mood.

Which is why, on Friday, I got to spend most of the day with the bitch. Because I had a very special photoshoot that day.

It doesn’t look like me, she informed me. If you’re going to impersonate me, you might at least try.

“You try talking to her,” I pleaded with Daniel. He just ignored me, and continued looking through my iPad. “Found anything yet?”

“Nothing you’d be looking for,” he replied. “Mostly brightly coloured stuff, none of them scream ‘grim reaper’ to be honest.”

“You’re in the wrong section then. Just scroll down till you reach the dark pictures.”

“There’s a lot of shit on this thing, Cat Madigan, you ever think of clearing it?”

“All the time. And every time I think, What if I need to refer to it? It’s a vicious cycle.”

Why do you even do this to yourself?

“I like modelling. It gives me self confidence, and I need self confidence.”

You have the eye of a king on you, she reminded me. What more do you want?

“He’s…” I nearly said not real, but I’m already on Kaya’s bad side. “I’m not interested,” I settled for saying.

Liar.

“Kaya…” Daniel said warningly.

“I’m genuinely not interested Kaya. He’s nice, but he’s got the attention span of a cat.”

Pot. Calling. Kettle. Kaya’s voice was as dry as a bone.

“You know what I mean,” I groaned. “I don’t think I’d be able to talk with him the way I’d want to talk to someone. Not to mention, he seems like the type that would only desire someone till he had her.”

In other words, you don’t want to get hurt.

“No, that’s not the issue. The issue is that he’s not the sort of person I’d be interested in as a…what word would you guys use?”

“Lover?” Daniel suggested.

“…really? Is your whole mind entirely focused on sex?”

“Hey, you wanted a word for it.”

Concubine?

Both Daniel and I widened our eyes. “Kaya…” I said. “Please tell me you know what that word means.”

Of course I do.

“No offence to Cat, but I think the term concubine would refer to her rather than our beloved king,” Daniel pointed out.

I grimaced. “Not happening. I’ve had enough of that sort of thing.”

“For now.”

Before I could ask what Daniel meant, Kaya spoke up. There’s not really a word for it, she mused. Normally there’s a contract to marry, and perhaps courtship after that, if the husband wishes. More often it’s not. I could hear the distaste in her voice. And after that, there is marriage….maybe you could be his sweetheart?

“I’m not his frigging sweetheart!” I hissed.

What’s gotten into her? Her tone is as if she has never snapped at me in the whole duration of her existence.

“Leave her, Kaya,” Daniel said wearily. “Both of us aren’t good with that sort of thing right now.”

“Thanks Daniel. Anything yet?”

“I think you’d have a better chance searching YouTube for makeup ideas,” he said. “There’s nothing here.”

“It can’t be, there has to be something.” I took the iPad out of his hands.

“No!”

“…well, I see why you haven’t been finding anything.” I hurled it back at his chest.

“Ow!”

Before I could say anything more, we hear shouting. “Not again…” I groaned.

What’s going on now?

“Do I ever know what’s on with them?” I retorted. “Tig’s not like me, Kaya, he talks back. He’s under the impression that he’s intelligent and that screaming back insults makes a difference.”

What’s he done?

Suddenly, I heard a loud slamming sound, and my brother sobbing. Mum screamed at him, and I could make out the words How dare you, and Little shit. “It’s sickening…” Daniel said stiffly, trying not to show anything.

Are you alright Cat?

“I’m used to it.” I took the clothes out of my cupboard and laid them on the bed for the afternoon.

That wasn’t answering my question, she observed.

“Would you answer honestly if you were me?”

Mum charged into the room suddenly, without warning. Daniel froze, even though he’d be able to move freely and not be seen by her. “Your brother,” she announced, “has stolen most of the Easter eggs.”

“Why am I not surprised?”

“And he’s not owning up to it.”

“Again. My astonishment is extremely lacking.”

“Hmm.” She frowned at me. “It wasn’t you, was it?”

“No.”

“How do I know it wasn’t?”

I groaned. “I don’t know how I’m meant to prove myself innocent.” I turned to Daniel as Mum went on a tangent, and I saw his face going red, even though he was barely moving.

After what seemed an eternity, she finally left my room. Is she always like this? Kaya questioned.

“Not always.” That makes it harder though, I add mentally.

Hmm…

“So your brother’s stealing again,” Daniel observed.

“Seems like. You’d think he’d learn by now.”

“I don’t agree with what your parents do, but your brother is truly a little-”

“Daniel…”

“Fine.” Daniel put his arm around my shoulder. “How are you?”

“Fine.” That’s all I say.

“Kaya…” Daniel said after a while. “You’ve been quiet.”

Oh?

“What do you think?”

Of what?

“Cat’s parents.”

He shouldn’t be punished that way, she said firmly. Not by being thrown against the wall. I grimaced at a similar memory. Sorry Cat.

“Don’t worry about it.”

“Kaya…” Daniel’s voice had an odd note to it. “Tell her.”

“What?” I looked at Daniel and frowned. “What aren’t you telling me now?

He groaned. But when he opened his mouth to say something, Kaya spoke up. It’s fine! She doesn’t need to know.

“Kaya…what did you do?” I asked, suddenly going cold all of a sudden.

…Well.

Daniel interrupted her. “Cat, you might want to check in your wardrobe.”

“…do I want to?” He gestured towards it. “Very well…” I walked over to it and slid the door open. That’s when I saw the tinfoil. “You’ve got to be kidding me…” I span around, as if I expected Kaya to be behind me. “This is what you do when you take over when I’m in Delirium? You steal chocolate?”

I was starving! she protested. You barely eat anything, how can you stand sitting there with an empty belly?

“I eat apples! Apples are good! The chocolates are off limits though!”

Well, I didn’t know that!

“Shit…” I knew my hands were shaking, but I didn’t care. “My brother just got beaten up because of that!”

Cat, I’m so sorry, if I had known that it wasn’t allowed, I never would’ve done it, I swear.

I just sighed. “Now what?”

“Discard evidence,” Daniel directed. “Put the wrappers in the bathroom, in the cupboard. No one knows who put them though, no one gets the blame.”

“Or we both get the blame and we both get walloped till one of us confesses,” I pointed out.

“Yeah, well, I don’t see any better choices. Unless you’d like to confess that your dead demon friend who possesses you took the chocolates.”

Kaya scoffed. Demons are pathetic.

“Exactly my point.”

“Oh don’t you two start,” I hissed. I took the wrappers and crumpled them up and put them in a plastic bag. As soon as they got put in the cupboard, I hurried back to my room. “There. Hopefully things will end there.”

“Well, you’d better get dressed,” Daniel said. “Kaya’s makeup will be here soon.”

Kaya hissed in my head. “Shut up Kaya,” I told her.
_____________________________________________________

It resembled Kaya a lot, but not precisely. But no one except us would know that.

Kaya’s hair covered her forehead entirely; whereas the wig I had gotten from Comic-con only had little bits covering my face.

Kaya’s skin was pale grey in colour, and I remember that covering the sides of her face and her arms were a number of random scales. What made it even more frightening was the black protruding veins which were so hard to ignore. The makeup, of course, wasn’t anything like that. She was still quite pale, but the makeup was for a natural skin tone. It was almost like Kaya had been humanised, somewhat.

The contact lenses I had were close to Kaya’s eyes. But they were only contacts, so of course, they weren’t an exact match. Kaya hated her eyes. Once, when she was younger, they were a pretty silver, but after her arrest and confinement, they became a bright, glowing violet to match the poison. They could’ve been lovely, but after what Kaya went through, it was rare for her to show any emotion other than emptiness or rage, and I don’t blame her.

You’re also fatter than me, Kaya informed me.

“Yeah, well, that’s because I haven’t been starved for eight or so years,” I retorted. That shut her up.

This is similar to what I wore when I escaped with Daniel, she mused, looking at my costume. But my hair was long then.

“I can barely remember you with long hair though,” I told her. “You cut it off not long after.”

I know…

I giggled. “I remember their faces when you did that.”

She laughed at the memory. It was as if I had slaughtered their children.

“In a way, it was. Those maids must’ve spent hours brushing the mats out of your hair.”

I don’t regret my decision. There’s a hint of mischief in her tone. Daniel was the funniest though. He was trying to comfort the poor women.

“Aww….Daniel used to be a gentleman!”

He still is. He just acts perverted to irritate you.

“Why?”

You’re funny when you’re irritated.

“Not always.” I showed her my memory of murdering that woman.

There’s a difference between irritated and infuriated, Kaya said. You need to forgive yourself.

“Then it will become easier. I don’t want to do that again.”

Who are you? she asked me suddenly.

“I’m…not entirely sure. Who am I? What am I? Am I a different species now?”

Look. Kaya cleared her throat. Your name is Cat Madigan. It’s not the name you were born with, but you’re not the same person from when you were born, are you? She went on before I could speak. You’ve changed a lot over the years. When I met you, you were a quiet, innocent young woman. A disaster waiting to happen.

And then I met you again, with Daniel. You were scared, terrified actually. What astounded me was that you trusted me over Daniel, who is obviously the less frightening article.

“Daniel used to be an asshole though.”

He’s changed a lot too. He didn’t like you because he thought you were some weak little snivelling thing.

“And I’m not?”

“Definitely not.” I jumped at the sound of Daniel’s voice. “Hey.” He waved at me.

“Hello Daniel. Can you tell me what I am? Daniel?”

He’s taking in the sight of me. “Right…sorry. We’re going to leave in ten minutes,” I told him. “Wanna come?”

Daniel smiled. “Would I go anywhere else?”

I’ll be off then. With that, the pain in my head vanished.

“Can you answer my question then?” I asked Daniel.

He sighed, and knelt down as if I were a child half my size. “My dear lady,” he said, looking up at me. “You are about to witness a remarkable event.” He inhaled. “I agree with Kaya.”

I managed to stop myself from laughing. “I see.”

“It’s true.”

“That…must’ve been hard on you.”

“…you can laugh now if you want.”

I grinned. “Thankyou.”

“Now. You wanted to know who you are? You are Cat Madigan. Not Freak or Kaya or Bitch, or anything else.”

“Aren’t I? Think about what I’ve done. I’m going down the same road as Kaya.” I remembered her last moment, on the Lake of Ghosts. “I’ll end up like her, one day. I can feel it.”

“No.” Daniel took my hand. “There’s a very big difference between the two of you.”

“Which is?”

“Remorse,” he answered. “Kaya killed men she didn’t know and brushed it aside. She wanted revenge on their kind, so she became one of them.”

“And I’m not? I’ve gone through ‘treatments’ too, Daniel. I’m a freak, and I can kill just as easily as she can.”

“No. You won’t.” Daniel stood up and drew me in for a hug. “Because you can see the good in people as well. Kaya’s disillusioned because of everything that’s happened, but you still have faith, no matter how little. And that guilt stops you, makes you pause before you do something you’ll regret.”

“No it doesn’t,” I argued. “I’ve killed before that woman. And now I’ve lost count.”

“I know that. Yes, you’ve killed people.” He grimaced. “But you’ve always been as guilty as hell afterwards. And that’s the difference. Kaya let herself become a monster. You’re more reluctant to let go of your humanity. And that’s who you are, Cat Madigan; human.”

“Freak,” I insisted.

“Freaks are human too,” he reminded me. “Sometimes more than most humans. And this world of mine needs some humanity left in it.”

“You and me, against the rest of the he world,” I laughed.

“That’s how it’s gonna be,” he grinned.
;

Story time with Meow Meow

Standard

Even though he was translucent, I could feel how freezing cold his hands were. I could’ve kicked myself for trusting this strange ghostly child, but it was too late now.

Argh….time to die again.

“What’s your name?” I asked him, trying to be friendly.

“Neekah,” he said cheerfully. “I’m five!” he added proudly.

A five year old…could a five year old kill me? “Hey Neekah. I’m Cat, Cat Madigan.”

He started giggling again. “Meow.”

I made myself smile. “Yeah, like that. Meow.”

“This way, Meow,” he pulled me around the corner.

“Where are we going?” I asked him, desperately hoping that Daniel would come around soon, and hopefully sober enough to get me away before Neekah went psycho and started to stab me.

“The nurs’ry,” he said. “I wan’ you to mee’ my friends, Meow!”

Oh…I’m going to be murdered by a GROUP of creepy ghost children. Yay! “Is my friend going to be there too?”

“She’s there summer-times,” he said. A look of unease came across his face. “Scary, she is, Meow. She scares me, Tooie too.”

“She scares me too,” I told him. “She’s nice though, she’s not a bad person.”

His face brightened up. “We’re heeeeeeeere!” he called cheerfully.

Bracing myself for my brutal death at the hands of evil demon ghost children, I watched him open the door, and I stepped through after him. “Hello,” I said uneasily.

“Hi!” The ghost children chorused. There was about twenty of them, girls and boys, with glowing white skin, and deep blue hair. “What’s your name?” One child yelled out.

“She’s Meow!” Neekah replied.

Before I could correct him, the children all sang out, “Meow Meow!” and giggled hysterically. A tiny little girl with a green eye and a blue eye took my hand. “Tell us a story!” she sang, and the children cried out in agreement.

“…okaaaaay, um, what story?” This was getting far too weird for words. The girl started pulling me over to a little reading nook with a window view of the outside. For a moment, I just stood there, and watched the silver spirits swimming outside, almost flying through the water surrounding the castle.

“A noo story!” Neekah exclaimed. The little girl gave a cry of delight and pushed me into the reading nook. The children then proceeded to crowd around me, Neekah and the little girl sitting next to me, and they looked up at me intently.

There was a moment where I considered whether death by demon children was preferable to whatever the hell was going on here. But I decided to go with it. “Okay,” I said, more to reassure myself. “This is the story…of a princess.”

“Boring!” The girl next to me practically yelled in my ear.

“I like princess stories!” Another girl whined.

“I don’t!” She crossed her arms and sulked. “And I’m the princess, and what I say goes!”

I knew that it was only a matter of seconds before the nursery broke out into outright war, so I called out “Okay, everyone shhhhhhh!”

Immediately, the children started going “Shhhhhhhhh” as loud as the could. “Alright,” I said, thankful for the distraction. “I’ll tell you about a cat instead.”

They quietened down. “Okay. There was once a little cat, who lived with her family. She was happy, and they were happy. Then one day, the little cat got lost.”

“Oh no…” The little princess’s face looked disheartened.

I continued. “She was lost in a forest. But rather than cry, she decided to look around for help. After a few hours, she came across a girl. She had white hair and purple eyes, and she looked very very scared.”

“Who was she?” Neekah asked.

“The little cat didn’t know,” I told him. “But she asked if she was alright. But the girl ran away without answering.

“So the little cat ran after her, trying to find her. But she managed to find herself even deeper in the forest, and she ended up getting caught. A tree got ahold of her with his long arm, and wouldn’t let her go.” The little girl gasped. “Now the little cat was scared. She wasn’t afraid before, she had been in forests before, but now she couldn’t move, and she was helpless.

“She cried out for help, for hours and hours, and but even though other people passed through the forest, passed the same tree that she was stuck in, they couldn’t see her. Eventually, she stopped calling out, and just cried.”

The expressions on their faces were all desolated, and the girl beside me was in tears. Neekah walked around me and took her hand. I could’ve slapped myself. Why do all my stories end up just….bad?

“Then a man was coming through the forest,” I continued. “A…a warrior, coming back from a fight. And the little cat was scared even more. He was carrying a large sword and had an angry expression on his face, and she just hoped he’d leave her alone.

“But he stopped in front of the tree, and looked at her. His face changed, and suddenly, with the swing of a sword, he cut off the branch which held her, and she fell to the ground. She landed on her toes, as all cats do, and the man knelt down beside her. ‘Are you alright?’ he asked.

“The little cat didn’t know what to say. She had been crying for hours and this man was the first one who had heard her. She didn’t know what to say to this man.

“He looked around. ‘Where is your family?’ he asked her. The little cat just shook her head. ‘Not here’, she said,” and as I said her words, I put on a high squeaky voice for the little cat, making the children giggle a bit.

“‘Would you like my help?’ the man asked. The little cat didn’t answer at first. She had just been trapped by a tree, and she was frightened of the strange things in the forest, and she was also afraid of this man, who had just come from battle. But she also wanted to get home, as fast as she could. ‘Yes please’, the little cat said. ‘Take me to the outside of the forest please, sir’.

“So the man picked up the little cat and put her on his shoulder, and he walked through the endless forests until the trees started disappearing, and she could see the light again. ‘Thankyou!’ the little cat squeaked, and the man lifted her off his shoulder.”

I looked at the faces of the children, now bright and intent. Slowly, I continued. “She looked up at the man, and asked him ‘Where is your home?’ in her squeaky voice.

“He just shook his head. ‘I live here,’ he told the little cat. ‘I don’t have a home’.

“The little cat thought for a moment. ‘If I…ever go into the forest again, can I go with you?’ she asked him.”

I’m tempted to give in to the immature streak inside me and say something along the lines of And the man said, ‘Fuck no!’ and ran away, but that’s not appropriate for little children. “And the man smiled at her, and he didn’t look scary at all. ‘If you want’, he said. ‘If you promise to be careful too’.

“And so from then on, the little cat would always go into the forest with the man, and even when she became a big cat, and didn’t need his help anymore, she’d always stay with him. Because even though he was a warrior, he needed help too, like she did. And the little cat knew that she always had a home in the forest with him.”

“Theeeeeeee Ennnnnnnnd,” the little girl sang, much more cheerful than at the beginning of my depressing story.

“Is not!” Neekah protested. “She diddin get to the bit where the little cat goes home to her family!”

“Of course she did,” the little girl rolled her eyes. “Don’t be stupid. She made it to the edge of the forest, and went home.”

Another child raised her hand. “Meow Meow, what happened to the girl the little cat met?” she asked.

“Did she ever get caught in the trees again? How do trees even do that?!”

“Weren’t her parents worried about her?”

“What was the man’s name?”

“Meow Meow, it’s time to go.”

I looked up, and Daniel was leaning against the wall, smiling. “Heya,” I said. At least you’re still sober.

“No!” The little girl flung her arms around me. “She’s ours! Ours, ours, ours!”

“Yeah!” All the children started crowding around me, as if to create a barricade to prevent Daniel from reaching me. It’s freezing cold, and I began to worry again at dying at their hands. One child even leaps on my shoulders and hugs my head, so I can’t see. Death by hugs wouldn’t be a bad way to go though. Well, actually…

“Come on guys, can I have my Meow back? She’s mine.” Daniel’s voice took on a petulant tone.

“No!” the twenty-something ghost children protested. “She’s ours!”

“Meow Meow has to go with her husband now, guys. She’ll come back another time, I promise!”

You had better not be talking about yourself, mister. But the children all sighed with disappointment, and released me from their icy cold grasps. As I walked over to Daniel, they all waved goodbye, and the little girl with the blue and green eyes came forward.

Daniel knelt to the ground and kissed her hand. He was the epitome of charming. Then she hugged me around my legs. “Goodbye Meow,” she said softly.

“We’ll come back again another time, ‘Reida,” Daniel told her, before leading me out of the room.

I was quiet as I followed him. “We’re not going back there, are we?” I whispered.

“No.” His voice was sad. “That’s just a memory of them. Neekah’s memory, actually. But they’re gone, those children.”

“Did they get…” Their faces flashed through my mind. “Not children surely…”

“No,” he reassured me. “That’s not them when they died, I promise.”

“You also promised them that we’d come back,” I retorted.

“We will come back,” he said. “Another time though. Another place. I don’t break my promises. Neekah will get to see you again, and you can meet him and his friends again.”

I was unsure how to feel about this. I wasn’t afraid or anything like that. But I was sad. The thought of Neekah wandering the castle, conjuring up memories of his little friends to keep him company, felt so…

“He’s trying to ignore it all,” I said aloud, more to myself than Daniel. “He’s trying to forget that he’s dead, and his friends are dead. It’s horrible.”

It wasn’t till Daniel touched my shoulder that I realised I had tears falling from my eyes. “I’m sorry,” he told me. “I shouldn’t have taken you here.”

Somewhere, within myself, I brought out a smile. “It’s okay though,” I said. “I’m glad I met them.”

When he was still frowning, I hugged him around the waist, like he’d do to me when I was saddened. “It’s only a memory, but they still exist,” I said. “These people are good, and they’re real to Neekah, so they are real.”

“I guess…”

I looked up at him, and kissed him on the cheek. “Thankyou Daniel,” I told him. “Thankyou for showing me the one place of pure good in this god forsaken world.”