Spirit

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I’m not a ghost, I’m a dream. There’s a difference. 

Ghosts have a reason for being here; they desperately want to be human again, even though it’s impossible. 

Dreams, however, were never human to begin with. And they don’t want to be; they’re just here to show us everything that could be, good or otherwise.

Another thing; dreams have no purpose, no logical reason to exist. But…we’d miss dreams if we no longer had them, wouldn’t we?

Story time with Meow Meow

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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.”

Memory of the Dead

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“Holy shit…”

“Don’t ask.”

“But-”

“Please Cat?”

“Argh…fine.” But I can’t take my eyes off his hair. It’ll take some getting used to. For as long as I had known him, his hair was always falling across his face, as he refused to put it in a ponytail except for classy occasions. It wasn’t too short though, and there was still that messy look to it, but it looked a whole lot…cleaner. “Can I touch it?” I asked.

“No.”

“But I wanna!”

“Are we really doing this now?”

“Well, what are we meant to be doing?”

“Well, I was going to show you around here,” Daniel told me. “But I suppose….”

“Bitchface,” I said cheerfully. “Where are we?”

I had just woken up here a couple of minutes ago, in the centre of a giant room. The first thing I saw when I opened my eyes was an endless landscape of colours and lights, and I was immediately dazzled by the beauty of it all.

Then I saw Daniel and his hair, and decided that that was the headliner.

Daniel took my hand and pulled me up. “Do you recognise this place?”

I do. It takes a while to register, but I do. “I thought this place was destroyed.”

“No. It very nearly was, but after they won, Christan sent guardians to drive them away.” There’s a hint of disgust in Daniel’s voice, and I don’t blame him.

After?” I enquired. Daniel nodded. I clenched my jaw. “Fashionably late, was he?”

Daniel groaned. “Thommand and Clarrent are his advisors,” he reminded me. “I wasn’t at their court when this happened, but I do know that saving these people wasn’t in their best interests.”

I was silent. “Will you be alright?” he asked.

“So what are we meant to do here?”

Daniel inhaled. “Thommand wants us to collect the memories of the people here. He’s looking for one person who died in this place to give us some information.”

“Slow down there, Daniel. I’m confused.”

He shook his head in exasperation, and it’s almost how it used to be- him getting annoyed at me, and me getting flustered and pissed. “Look,” he says. “You’ve got memories of this place, don’t you?”

I nodded. “From Kaya.”

“Well, all you need to do lure the people in this place out, and interact with them.”

Trying to take in all this, I decided on pretending that I knew what the hell was going on. “Then what?”

“Watch and learn.” Daniel took off his coat and handed it to me. “Now go ahead.”

“Wait. What. Huh?”

“I’m tired,” Daniel said as his way of explaining it. “You can handle this on your own.”

I just stared at him. “I am a fricking walking disaster,” I told him flatly.

“You could say the same for me.”

“I’m sorry, but there’s nothing in your record which says ‘accidentally demolished three houses’,” I retorted.

“This place is pretty fireproof,” he informed me. “Now go on. Explore to your heart’s content.” With that, he pulled out a little flask and took a gulp.

I stared at him. “Is that what I think it is?”

“Lucky potion,” Daniel replied. “Good for the nerves.”

I snatched it from him. “You’ve got a problem mister.”

“Oi! Get your own!” I walked away from him, and he hurried after me. “Cat, give me back my medicine.”

“One doesn’t drink medicine without measuring it first.”

“I did measure it! One flask full of medicine every time I have to go out on a job for Fat man.”

“No wonder you got caught last time,” I grumbled. When Daniel didn’t reply to that, I sighed. “I’m sorry.”

We slowed to a stop. “It wasn’t the first time we’ve gotten caught and tortured,” he reminded me.

“It was the worst though.”

Daniel smiled at me and gave me a quick hug. “Don’t blame yourself,” he told me. “I know how you feel about it, but you need to remember that you had no choice.”

“Didn’t I?”

“No.” He kept his arms around me, and then made a grab for my hand. When I held it out away from him, he growled and caught me around the waist.

“Oi! Let me go!” I yelled.

“Give it here before I tickle you.”

“Is that an actual- oh shit!” Torn between my dignity and my stubbornness, I flung the bottle in the air in an act of desperation.

Releasing me, Daniel calmly walked over to where the bottle was flying and caught it single-handed. “That wasn’t so hard, was it?”

I stuck out my tongue at him. “Now go on, then. Explore!” Daniel sat down and took another swig of his ‘medicine’.

I gave up. I left the grand room and decided to find where the entrance was, just in case we had to make a quick getaway. “Okay,” I told myself. “I’m going to keep track of the turns I make, so I can get back to Daniel easily. And hopefully he won’t be completely intoxicated.”

First, I turned left. Then I kept going straight ahead, and then there was a right, at a smashed statue. It was then that I heard yelling. Release me, now! a woman snarled, but the voice seemed to echo in my head.

I looked around quickly. “Where are you?” I called out, praying that hopefully the source of the voice didn’t have the same personality of the vengeful ghosts in Corpse Party.

There was silence. Then I heard the voice repeat down the hall. A more cautious person would’ve gone and found Daniel, or at least, a companion who probably wasn’t an alcoholic. But at that point, I had forgotten the directions I had taken, and it was more focused on finding the source of the voice.

I opened the door to a small, plainly furnished room. There was no bed, instead, there was a mattress on the floor, with a small woollen blanket which had been tossed to its side.

Let me go, the voice demanded, or I swear, I’ll rip that precious hair of yours from your skull.

That’s when I realised whose room this was.

Did Thommand want Kaya’s memories? Really?

I shook my head at that. If he wanted this so badly, he definitely wouldn’t have sent the two people who cared for her most. Especially not one who recently pulverised a brothel owner and shattered his whore.

And burned his own scarlet tunic. And that was completely intentional.

So where was the voice coming from? As I looked around the room, I tried my hardest to understand what was going on. I had never heard of ghosts in Delirium until today, and I wondered why I heard Kaya here, instead of her home in the sky.

I suddenly remember. I’ve heard her say that before. Right before she pulled out the knife…

I laughed at the memory. Many screamed, others fainted. Daniel just stood there confused as hell, while Nereida started giggling uncontrollably. But I believe it’s still here, the evidence of her attack.

I looked under the mattress, and there they were; long silver strands, almost as long as my whole arm. They were all matted together, I would have to use all my strength to tear them into separate fibres. No wonder Kaya cut them off.

With that mystery solved, I tried to remember what Daniel wanted me to do. I was to find ghosts…and then what? What did they even look like?

I returned to the hallway, and the realisation that I had completely forgotten the road I had taken. Dammit.

Then I heard a giggle behind me. Which all you nonexistent horror game enthusiasts know means one thing; I was about to be murdered by a psychotic ghost child. Lovely.

Actually, that’s not what happened. This isn’t Corpse Party, it’s just my fucked up imagination. But at the time, I thought that would be the case.

“Hello,” I said. Because that’s what you say to creepy ghost children that will murder you in a couple of seconds. And you also turn around to face them before they kill you, because it’s impolite for them to stab you or slit your throat from behind you.

He’s different from Daniel. His body is white, and I can just see through him. There’s a sort of glow about him, and he’s gazing at me intently. He looks about six…if that.

“Ano’er hooman,” he said in a high, clear voice. Then he sweeps me a bow. “May I help you?”

Umm….. “I’m…looking for my friend,” I tell him. “Can you help me?”

“What’s her name then?” There’s no malice or hate in his face, simply curiosity. But I’ve been hurt by friendlier people.

“Her name is Kaya,” I told him. “Do you know where she is?”

Why I decided to trust him, I’m not sure. I didn’t have anything to lose, I suppose. I could fight him off if necessary, or so I hoped. And I was so used to dying, it was almost routine. I’m guessing I followed him because I wanted some faith in the goodness of people left. I wanted to be proved right.

He gave me a giant, toothy smile. “Through here, m’lady,” he lisped. He held out his hand, and I took it. “Follow me.”

A Visit

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Describing a scene…what is there to describe in my world? A boring bus station full of bitchy school girls, a bedroom which is essentially being used to store every single thing my mother buys and can’t make room for, and a school which would be lovely if it weren’t spoiled by the girls in it.

That’s what’s in Reality…

Let me go into Delirium now…

I’m in a forest, or at least what remains of one. Under my feet, the ground is ice cold, because that’s what it is; ice.

There aren’t any other places which are frozen over. This is the one place in Delirium where the ground is solid water. And it’s cursed.

How I ended up here, I don’t know. But I always seem to. This isn’t the first time I’ve been to the Lake of Ghosts.

Daniel’s with me, making sure nothing happens. And by nothing happens, I mean no one leaps from the shadows and runs me through with a sword. I’ve never been here with him before, and I’m glad he’s here now. He’s the only person I like here that’s still alive. Anyone else is dead or god knows where…

“How did this happen?” I ask him.

He hesitates before telling me. The water levels had gone up and up, drowning villages and forests and mountains in its wake. The water then froze, leaving behind a nightmare.

The tops of the branches stick out from under the ice. It has frozen around them, and you can see the rest of the tree underneath. This isn’t like ice in Reality, I don’t think. I haven’t really seen ice in Reality though; I haven’t been to the snow since I was two. But I can see through this ice, albeit with a swirly quality to the sight.

We walk to an area with no branches sticking out of the ice. “You see here?” Daniel said. “We just walked off a cliff.”

“What?” I look back. The ice is silvery, whereas before you could see where the floor of the forest once was. I look down.

Shit.

“Calm down,” Daniel hisses.

I manage to do so. But then I see something in the ice. I walk over to it, ignoring Daniel’s warning.

From where I was standing before, it was a dark mass in the ice, no shape to it whatsoever. Now I see it from a closer view…

It’s eyes are blue, and they gaze at me emotionlessly. The man had dark hair, raven black hair. And his body looks like it would be flying…if it hadn’t been trapped in the frozen water.

“Cat, we need to go,” Daniel tells me. He’s right, because now the Lake of Ghosts grows darker, and shadows are coming. They hiss at me, they know me.

Taking Daniel’s hand, I let him return me back.

———————-

“Cat!” Daniel’s shaking me awake.

The scene around me changes, and I’m back in my bedroom/the storage space. “Thank you,” I tell him.

He just shakes his head.

If you’re interested in the challenge, click the link here. I’m leaving for a place called La La Land tomorrow, and I should be back in Wonderland by Sunday. So forgive me if I don’t update for a bit.

Cat Madigan