Dark Rooms and Butterflies

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Okay, time to get Life is Strange out of my system.

Namely, Episode 4. 

Daniel, what are your thoughts to the very last scene in the latest episode?

“…that sick fuck.”

Yeah…me too. 

Okay, from this point, we’re going to spoil everything, so if you haven’t seen the episode, take a deep breath, and back away. Mmkay?

Okay! Let’s go Daniel!

“…where?”

You know! Episode! Thoughts!

“You’re the English buff. You give your thoughts. I’ll just pop in every now and then as the obligatory fanservice guy.”

See? You’re better at this than you think. Ugh…fine.

Sooooooo, this episode’s major plot twists, along with my guesstimations.

  • The Dark Room Recap

This episode involves our favourite hipster and her BFF- whom she kills in another dimension by the way- friends once more after Chloe’s tantrum at the end of last episode, as they go on to investigate Rachel’s disappearance. Everything’s all butterflies and rainbows, including a crowning moment of awesome for Warren who punches Hipster Draco Malfoy in the face, when all of a sudden, BAM! Rape dungeon. 

More specifically, apocalypse bunker used as a rape dungeon. Either way, seedy shit is happening down there. Chloe finds out that Nathan/HDM receives his drug deliveries at an isolated barn on the outskirts of town, so she and Maxlock Holmes head out to investigate. After searching the barn, we it. Duct tape, creepy sex art, sedatives in the form of needle injection (squick), and the real kicker, photos. Of Rachel and Kate Marsh. That’s not all. In the midst of all these rape dungeon photos, there’s one photo taken at a garbage dump, with Rachel is lying on top of a freshly dug hole…

Yup. Rachel’s dead. At the very least, she’s dead in this universe. Which means Chloe is mad. So now it’s time to hunt down Nathan. After searching for him at the End Of The World party (worst attempt at ironic humour EVER), we get a text from him, telling us that he’s going to get rid of the evidence. Back to the dump site; oh good, Rachel’s still there. Still dead. Yay. Everything’s okay- BAM! MAX GETS SHOT WITH A SEDATIVE. BAM! CHLOE GETS SHOT WITH AN ACTUAL GUN. BAM! IT’S NOT NATHAN, IT’S *gasp* PROFESSOR SEXY! Or Mr Jefferson, if you prefer.

“…I find your tendency to want to jump the villain of every story hilarious.”

…I’m never gonna find love, am I Daniel?

“Hey, I never said you fell in love with them. I merely said that you wanted to get in their pants.”

Fair point.

Anyway, our last shot before the episode ends completely is back at the rape dungeon, where Mr Jefferson/Evil Hipster is filling an injection needle, while Max pleads in the background. Meanwhile, the world’s ending. Sheeeeeeeeeeeeet.

Now’s my favourite part. Predicting the future, ie. The finale episode. Let’s do this.

  • Jefferson’s Story

It’s obvious by this point that Jefferson has something to do with Nathan. He’s in his family’s bunker, using drugs that Nathan bought. Why? I refuse to believe that he’s a Malfoy, because that would be a lame way to justify how he has access to the bunker, so I’m thinking that Jefferson is blackmailing him in some way. Originally, I was thinking that Nathan was an accomplice, due to Chloe’s own drugging, but now I think that Jefferson may have found out about his mental health history and drug dealing, and blackmailed him into buying him drugs and letting him use his bunker. 

“Wait, I get the drug dealing but why the mental health thing? Doesn’t the school already know about that?”

I’m not entirely sure, Daniel. But I think that if it got out to the general public, who hate the Malfoys/Prescotts, then they would be in ruin. 

“Why? Because he suffers from mental ilness? The town’s not that shallow, is it?”

I actually saw it another way. There was a letter highlighting how his dad refused to support his son and help him receive therapy. I imagine that this would be more exploitable than just the mere knowledge that Nathan Prescott needs meds to function properly. Speaking of which, he’s not taking them. 

“Oh?”

There’s a full bottle of pills in his room. I’m betting you that he’s not taking them.

“Very well. I’ll bite. Explain.”

Okay. It seems that Nathan’s behaviour has been cooking for a while. I imagine that Jefferson was probably taunting him about him having to be on medication, so I’m going to take a gamble here and say that Nathan couldn’t handle it, and decided to try going off them. Or the illegal drugs he’s taking are clashing with the legal ones and are fucking with his brain. But I feel that if that were the case, then this sort of behaviour would’ve become apparent long before the events of the game, as neither the medication or the drug use have been taken up recently. Anyway, I think that Nathan’s deterioration allowed Jefferson to mould him into the perfect accomplice and scapegoat; his family owns the barn, Frank’s book proves that he purchased drugs and asked them to be delivered there, he’s obviously deranged- deranged enough that he’s being dragged along as an accomplice in all this-, he has photos of a drugged Chloe in his room, and he’s already a suspect in Rachel Amber’s murder. Remember? Rachel in the Dark Room, Rachel in the Dark Room.

“I like your theory.”

Thank you….but?

“…but you’re missing one thing. The photo of him standing over Rachel’s body. Your theory implies that he was dragged into this. So why’s he posing with her?”

That, I don’t really know. Maybe he didn’t know she was dead and was just being stupid. Or, maybe he was high on something and wasn’t lucid enough to realise that Rachel was actually dead, or that Jefferson was taking the photo. If that’s true, then it’s another piece of blackmail on Nathan’s back. But yeah…to be honest, I haven’t really accounted for it.

“Well I think that it holds up, though I reckon that the photo will end up being the primary item of blackmail, rather than the mental illness. But it would be an interesting explanation, and it would probably make Nathan more tragic.”

Okee, so that’s the relationship between HDM and Professor SexyEvil Hipster out of the way. Next on the agenda:

  • Escaping the rape dungeon

Like I said before, the world’s ending outside. Max is in the bunker with Jefferson, and if it weren’t for the fact that he’s a rapist who killed Chloe and Rachel, it’s probably the safest place for her right now. The main problem is disposing of the Evil Hipster. Unfortunately, she’s equipped with nothing but her time travelling abilities, which is going to make things difficult, especially since that injection appears to effect her abilities, though I don’t know if she’ll be completely incapacitated. Rewinding can give her more time to escape, but unless there’s a way for her to actually escape her restraints, it won’t be much use. Stopping time is the same, (although I can see that more useful in another scenario…) which leads me to believe that her latest ability is going to be equipped, if not a Rachel Amber ex-machina.

Like they say, if a gun appears on stage, at some point during the play, it must go off. Likewise, that photo we took with Warren at the party is probably going to help us change the past. Not only will we be able to get one step ahead of Jefferson, but we can stop Chloe from dying (again). The only problem I can foresee is that Max will go back to a new altered present, and if she’s not back in the rape dungeon/bunker, then she’s going to be stuck in the middle of a hurricane, while everyone dies around her. 

“Why can’t she die?”

Shhhhh. Because she’s the protagonist.

“Doesn’t stop you.”

I’m not a protagonist, I’m more like Scrappy Doo. You’re the one this story’s about, I’m just a disaster waiting to happen. Unfortunately. Anyway! That’s the idea that I have for how Batmax is going to escape. 

  • The Final Resolution

From that point on, it seems like a pretty crappy situation. You’d be stuck in an apocalyptic wasteland with Chloe, everyone you invested in emotionally would be dead, and Rachel’s probably not going to get justice, and neither will Kate. 

…unless.

“Hmm?”

…do you remember that episode of Doctor Who where Rose saves her dad and creates a time paradox? And as a result, those monsters come out to try and remedy the situation via mass murder?

“…oh no….”

Yup…I’m not just talking about saving Chloe. I’m talking about every little decision that Max made which changed the course of history. Everything’s been building up and is now the size of a hurricane. 

“…I hated that episode for a reason.”

Me too…you see where I’m going with this, right?

“…excuse me. I need to go man up.”

Daniel’s right, this fucking sucks. But remember that blue butterfly picture we took, right before Nathan shot Chloe and we discovered we can turn back time? Guess what, we have another Checkov’s gun here! Almost literally when you think about it.

“…YOU WENT THERE.”

…sorry. In all seriousness though, every problem we’ve encountered so far can be resolved if Nathan shoots Chloe before they happen. Nathan gets arrested for murder, because not even the MalfoysPrescotts can worm their way out of that. When he’s behind bars, he’s gonna start singing like a canary, leading the police to Jefferson and the rape dungeon. Kate can get help for what happened to her before she tries to jump off a roof, Rachel can finally rest in peace, the Prescotts can get thrown out of Arcadia thanks to the court of public opinion and the universe doesn’t have to correct itself by wiping out Arcadia Bay via tornado after Max’s meddling.

Unfortunately, it means that Chloe has to die. And that fucking sucks.

“Objection!”

Yes Phoenix Wright?”

“Hey, I want to be Edgeworth.”

No. You brought up the series, you have to be the title character. That’s how it rolls. 

“What if I speak in a posh accent?”

*posh voice* Too late. Make your point, Wright.

“Fine…aren’t there some cases where things can be evened out if something else is sacrificed in its place?”

I’ve never heard of that theory. 

“Are you sure? What about that Charon game you watched the other day?”

That crappy visual novel dungeon crawler?

“The very same. Remember? Protagonist kills themself so that a girl won’t have to die.”

Oh right. They probably changed the rules for convenience though. It’s Charon.

“Yes, because it’s obvious that all rules concerning time travel are proven fact.”

Fineeeee. But I don’t know enough about the rules of time travel to know if it works or not. 

“Okay…how about a less dubious source?”

There’s more?

“Year Walk. You remember that game better, don’t you?”

Ah yes, my first horror game. Oh!

“NOW do you get it?”

Uh huh. In Year Walk, the guy violated the rules of time and space, and as a result, he ended up killing his girlfriend. That was the price he had to pay for trying to meddle. But then Theo sent him the knife via the box, so that he could take his own life, as the watchers demanded that he make a sacrifice for his crime. 

“Hah. Suck it Edgeworth.”

You can find a lot of fanfiction where I do just that, sweet cheeks. Wait…so when you say sacrifice…

“Yup. Is it really out of the realm of possibility for Max to shove Chloe out of the way and take a bullet for her?”

Holy shit you’re right. WAAAAAAAAAIT.

“…you’re meant to say Hold it.”

Hold it! Would the sacrifice theory apply to Rachel Amber too? Maybe the reason she’s dead is because she meddled with time and was faced with having to sacrifice her best friend or herself. Just a few things I remembered; Rachel was perfect– maybe she had the same power Max did, and rewrote everything so that everyone loved her. And another thing; Rachel saved Chloe’s life, according to her. Who’s to say this wasn’t literal?

“…if that’s true, then Chloe is a frigging magnet for rogue time travellers.”

That’s an understatement. But then we have another matter on our hands. Namely, why did Jefferson leave Max alive, but shoot Chloe in the head? Before, I had assumed that for some reason, he decided that Max more rapeable than Chloe (ewwwwwww!), but now that I consider the theory that Rachel may have meddled with time, and the fact that Rachel ended up dead at Jefferson’s hands, what’s to say that he knows something about time travelling himself? Those are the only reasons why I can see him preserving Max while killing Chloe. As for why Rachel died, maybe he tried to sedate her over a long period and ended up overdosing her on whatever’s in those needles. 

“And on that note, I think we’ve covered everything.”

You sure?

“If we try and think about it anymore, we’ll explode. Max will escape the rape dungeon via photographic teleportation, and ultimately decide between sacrificing Aracadia Bay and sacrificing Chloe. Or herself. And it will be revealed that Rachel was also a time traveller who ultimately died because of meddling, and that Jefferson may also be involved somehow. Also, Jefferson is blackmailing Nathan with his drug addled brain. Those are your predictions, correct?”

..yeah.

“Then I don’t think you need to go further than this. And I want to catch on Lisa.”

Okaaaaaay, we’ll go watch NicoB. Just one thing. How do you know the plots of crappy yandere games better than I do?

“…I get bored when you’re working.”

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Infinity

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Let me close my eyes.

When I open them again, they’re yours. But what does that mean?
_______________________________________________________________________________

“GET YOUR HANDS OFF ME!” I screamed, obliterating the Espers whose claws were digging into me. “How…much…longer…”

Neekah finally came into view. About fucking time. “So savage…

“Stop,” I hissed. “What do I have to do to make this stop? I’ll do it.”

No shame at all…

“Nope. None at all. I’ve given up,” I said flatly.

One more, my love. One more.

I closed my eyes. I had been attacked by the mangled body of my mother, a screaming Jhaq, and finally, I’d been thrown back into a war where I finally gave up and let them tear me to pieces, only to wake up hearing Emisair barking orders before I was let lose into another. I just wanted to go home, wherever that was. I wanted Daniel…And that bastard knew it.

One….more….

…of course. Who else was left?

Oh god, what was this bastard going to pull with him?

My heart throbbed. Daniel… I opened my eyes, and stared at him. “Oh…”

He lay motionless, all life drained from him. His eyes were blank and empty, as if he were a stuffed animal. Was he going to come alive like Kaya had? But surrounding him were at least a dozen Espers along with a large array of lights and screens. I didn’t know what was going to happen.

Wait.

Eyes.

Two of them.

The right side of his face was completely unscathed. It wasn’t just the fact that his eye was still there; he looked younger than I had ever seen him. But it was undoubtedly him.

The Espers started murmuring suddenly, and I watched helplessly as wires were connected to his head and needles were inserted in his skull, causing the lights to start moving in a pattern that would only make sense to them. I didn’t know what was going on, but I could only assume that this was another distorted image that he was showing me. Another ‘scene’ he was creating.

The ‘Daniel’ gave out a sigh, and the Espers began speaking directly to him. “State your name,” I heard one say.

“Mmm….” It was as if he had a frog in his throat. “Mmmah….mmmahphh…mmmahphheeeu.”

….huh?

Matthew? Before I could think any further, he spoke again. “No…..I’m…wait….Gah….Gabe? Gabriel? I…” His voice was finally becoming clearer, though the things that came out of his mouth made even less sense.

“Two of the personas have been recognised,” one of the Espers spoke. “Continue uploading.”

I didn’t know why I was paying so much attention. This was all fabrication, it wasn’t real. It was all in my head…it didn’t make sense, none of it made sense. And why did it matter that it didn’t, this was not real!

In an attempt to remove myself from the situation in front of me, I looked around to see where exactly I was in this place. As I adjusted, I figured that I was looking down on this situation. Was I in a cell then? Wait…

Slowly, I raised my head to see my hands cuffed to the ceiling in front of me. I almost automatically became overwhelmed with nausea, as I made myself check behind me. Yup. That was the case for my legs as well.

Okay…

Carefully, I let the skin on my left hand heat up once again, and after a while, the metal began bubbling into a boiling liquid. I ignored the searing hot fluid burning my skin and focused on removing my hand from the cuff. Ow. I held the hand out in front of my face and analysed it. No cuts. Giving myself a moment to recover, I placed my left hand on the right cuff.

It was then that Daniel began screaming. My eyes flashed back to the scene below me, helpless to do anything but watch as the lights went haywire and the Espers hurry to wrench the wires and cables out of his skull. “Let me go!” he snarled, spasming uncontrollably. “No! Noooooooooo-”

With a loud zap, he suddenly fell silent, and slumped. His eyes fluttered shut. One of the Espers sighed, pulling out one last wire. “Encase the brain,” they murmured. “Send the subject to Readers for examination.”

“What alterations are required?”

A pause. “Wait until it’s awake, and capable of speaking. After analysing speech patterns, see if you can close off some of the data implanted. Then analyse it’s interactions once again.”

I squeezed my eyes shut as I heard them all walk away, Daniel in tow. I couldn’t bear to see his lifeless body strung along like a puppet. “I fail to understand why this is necessary,” a remaining Esper spoke, not walking with the others. “A functioning form is all that is needed, why bother giving it a personality?”

“We’ve already established the creation process,” the same one who was giving the order replied. “However, there are Etherals who would be greatly interested in the ability to change one’s personality. Who knows? We might not have to create more subjects if they are willing to supply us with them.”

“Still, I’d hardly call the creation process ‘established’. The other creations have been giving out as of late. We may no longer have ones to spare for extra experiments such as this.”

“Alas, this one is already spoken for. If there’s no more forms for Mutations, then it is up to them to create more. However, I’m not to take responsibility for the ones who lose control when it comes to experimentation. Hmmph. If one can call it that.”

“I believe that I’d have to agree. It’s still functional, despite everything. It wouldn’t do any good to simply send it to those who are all too happy to destroy it. Especially if it gains the ability to act as a natural subject would.”

“That’s indeed what I’m hoping for. An artificial being that is capable of thinking, feeling, reacting identically to a natural being.”

“You aren’t craving companionship are you? Mayhaps you shouldn’t be here, if you’re wanting more.”

“You’re the one making jests. It’s not a habit you should retain.”

“Hmmph. Even if your experiment is successful, it’ll be used for some other task after the Etheral are satisfied with your ability. If it’s physically functional, then it can be deployed for other more important things.”

“Very well. Once the data is confirmed as the prototype for later experiments, I’ll-” The Esper was suddenly cut off as my right hand suddenly broke free of the cuff and my upper body dropped.

For a few seconds, I just hung there upside down by my ankles in silence as they stood there frozen in disbelief.

Then I raised my hand and finished them off.

As the laboratory burned, I heard footsteps behind me. “That wasn’t necessary,” he purred. I closed my eyes, and felt my tears run down my forehead. “There there…” he said soothingly, wiping my forehead with his slimy hand. “Would you like to come down?

My eyes blinked open and I glowered at him in silence. In response, his hand cracked across my face. “Fuckin’ bitch,” his voice snarled. Obviously he got bored again. “Say something’. You know the truth now, don’cha? Your darling Prince Charming isn’t even human. Cmoooooon. Gimme some reaction!”

“Don’t give me that bullshit,” I hissed through the pain. “There’s no way that this is fucking real. You’re an illusionist, this is what you do. You mess with people’s heads, you messed with Kaya’s head, you messed with Nereida’s head!”

Urrrrrgh…god you’re dense,” he groaned dramatically. “Jeez, aren’t you meant to be the open minded one?” He shook his head and immediately, I felt myself falling to the ground. Instinctively, I braced my hands for impact and pushed against the cold metal floor so that I could roll safely onto its surface. “Very well. Why is it so difficult to believe Nereida and Daniel? Yes, yes, those weren’t their present forms, I believe that’s abundantly clear. But why does that mean that it’s not them?

Before I could object, he lifted me up off the ground and onto my feet. “Consider me an illusionist with a cause,” he said. “Both you and Kaya searched for the truth, and that’s what I’m giving you. It’s merely that you’re denying that it’s real because it’s something only you can see.” He chuckled darkly, his rotting face contorting into a strange grin. “That’s a bit rich, when you think about it. Why is what I’m showing you different from the entirety of my world to you?

I clenched my teeth. His words were all too familiar. How many times had I used that argument? Just because someone else can’t see it doesn’t mean it’s not there. Pain, love, knowledge… It’s amazing how people can completely ignore the things they can’t, or even refuse to, understand. Even though I was forced to admit that the world in my head was essentially a hallucination, I never ignored it, because it was just as real as the world I was born into. And so was this experience he had dragged me into. Why should I deny that his word was truth?

I found a valid argument. “Stop trying to confuse me,” I said. “The experience with you, Nereida and I had never happened. I don’t know whether or not that’s how Nereida felt, but that definitely never happened. That wasn’t reality. Also…there’s no way that you would’ve known about Daniel’s life when he was imprisoned. Because they didn’t upload him to the network. He was considered unsuitable for experiments.” I pushed the memory of Daniel hooked up to those computer-like mechanisms out of my head. “And in the real world, you wouldn’t be allowed to set foot in the facility. So…wouldn’t that experience be purely based on your interpretation? Considering of course you’re not making that up…right?” I felt so drained by this argument. I was still trying to make sense of everything happening around me. The only thing I was clinging to right now was the fact that this was all something that he implanted in my head, a figment of my imagination. Because if this was another Delirium, then what the hell was happening to my head?

After a while, he spoke again. He sounded normal, well, as normal as he could’ve been. “Do you wish for an explanation?” he asked me. There was nothing hidden in his voice.

“…yes.”

He turned around and walked toward the hallway, toward more laboratories. It was then that I realised that this room was on fire. “Follow me.

I couldn’t allow myself to put my trust into this madman, no matter how normal he seemed now. But still…curiosity drove me to follow him into the darkness.

At last, we came to a door. “Ready?

I nodded faintly. He opened it and stepped inside, beckoning for me to follow. I stepped inside, and took it all in.

It was a playroom. More specifically, my playroom. I recognised the pink paint and the stickers covering the walls. “Why have you taken me….”

I was cut off by the sight of Kaya’s corpse lying on the ground, along with the body of a girl with long brown hair and hollow green eyes. My eyes. And next to them was…

“There’s…two of you?” I croaked.

Quiet now. Do you want to know how you were created or not?” Neekah asked, the one who lead me here.

“I…thought you were explaining how this was real.”

I am. You’re just being impatient.

“I think I have that right.” I approached my body and felt for a pulse. Nothing. Suddenly, something clicked in my head. Slowly, I turned my head toward Kaya’s body, toward the familiar, whirring sound coming from the life saving device inside her. “…oh.”

Are you beginning to realise?”

“…I don’t know. I…think I can gather how I ended up in Delirium though…and maybe something else. Assuming this is true, of course.” I looked at the second Neekah. “What are you planning to do here?”

He laughed in response. This one was still insane. “Very well…Miss Blackrim here has kindly followed me home, you see. Gave your lot quite a shock, you know. Anyway…she needs to go back, to do a little job for me. However, she can’t go back as the poison dragon with the poisonous tongue, you see. She needs to go back as a sweetling, an innocent child for them to corrupt. But not just any sweetling. A sweetling that has all their secrets, too dangerous to live, alas, there’s no way for her to die.” He gave me a bright smile that sent chills down my smile. “Let us make it a human sweetling, just so that it can pose as one of many who have come here by accident. A human sweetling that a lonely freak can keep as a pet.” It was then that he raised a sharpened sword and swung it down on Kaya’s hand. And then the other. “We must keep this though,” he said, rolling her onto her back. I took in the sight of the disc and flinched. “For a pretty, innocent and mysterious sweetling isn’t going to get off so easily with them. They’ll kill her again and again in order to get their fill.

In the span of a second, he raised his sword and swung it down on Kaya’s long neck. A black, murky fluid flooded out onto the floor, painting her face and hair. My stomach flipped and my head started spinning. And then he walked over to the girl who looked like me. I turned my head, not willing to watch him brutalise what I believed to be my corpse. “You should be thankful for all the effort I went to, in order to create an exact likeness of you,” Neekah said to me, the original one. “They’ll consider your hands, your feet and your face, but not much else. Though rest assured, your personal attributes shall be accounted for.” He walked away from me, towards my twin and kneeled down next to her. “Do you want anything adjusted? But your skin is already so silky…and your hair…” To my horror, he lifted up the girl’s freshly severed head and held it close to him. He started whispering words I couldn’t understand, as if he was soothing her. Blood spilled out onto his hands, and he stared at it, as if he was seeing the sun for the first time. Then he spoke again. “Just like a rose…” he sighed, taking a finger to his lips.

Hey!” the other man snapped, swinging his sword up, getting ready to drive into the madman holding my head. “That blood belongs to the freak with two heads! Give it back!

I started shaking then. Another time, another place, I ended up dead so that I could exist in a world I didn’t belong in. It wasn’t me though; but it could’ve been. They might’ve chosen me to get cut up, so another version of myself could travel to another world, another Delirium. I raised my trembling hands to my face, seeing nothing but blood. In another world, I was kidnapped and slaughtered like a pig. Maybe I didn’t even know Delirium existed. Why….

“Why?” I croaked. “Why did I have to exist here? Why…why did you have to kill her…so that I could live?”

Don’t feel so important,” Neekah told me, skilfully dodging his doppleganger’s swings. “You’re not the only one who gets to live. In an infinite amount of worlds, there is a Cat Madigan split between two worlds, choosing between the world she was born in and the world that only exists in her head. And in an infinite amount of worlds, there’s a Cat Madigan who is taken in order to play her part in a very important project. And in an infinite amount of worlds, that project ends up failing.” When Neekah looks up at me, I see no madness anymore. Only hard determination. “That’s your role in this. I want you to bring about a world where we succeed. And if you can do that, then you can return to your world for good. Isn’t that what you want?

It took a while to sink in, the words return to your world for good. At first, my mind was overcome with the knowledge that my existence in Delirium was the result of murdering another Cat Madigan; maybe even one who never was Cat Madigan. Maybe she had grown up without Kaya, without Daniel, until one day, she had an encounter with a corpse like man that would result in her death at his hands. And that could’ve just been easily been me.

And then it hit me. Delirium could stop. I didn’t have to have blackouts ever again. The hallucinations could stop, the dying could stop, the bloodshed could stop.

…Kaya could stop.

……so could Daniel.

Was that what I wanted?

I was so absorbed with this that I didn’t notice that Neekah had managed to come in close to my face. “Well?” he said, chuckling as I leapt back.

I straightened up and inhaled. “Tell me more about the project,” I ordered him. “I’m not agreeing,” I said, as he started grinning hungrily. “I doubt that you’d let me go unless I listened to what your purpose was. But if this is the only chance I have of returning to normal…then I have no choice but to take it.” My voice became a whisper.

As you wish…but we might want to go elsewhere.” He indicated his alter ego, and I realised with a shock that he was on the ground with a sword in his back. “Any requests, ma cherie?

“…I have one.”

I am all ears.

“…take me to your world,” I told him. “Take me to the world inside your head. Show me what the world looks like to you.”
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The world that he envisioned…

It’s before me now, an endless abyss, nothing but shadows.

I shaped this world. Creator, destroyer, it depends on the teller. As my friend once said, history is written by the victors, or in this case, survivors.

What do you think when you’re here? Are you proud of me? Angry? Not that I care. You were once so important to me. However, I don’t know anymore if I was just another pawn in your mind games.

It doesn’t matter though. You’re gone now. Erased from existence, sealed away, I wouldn’t know. But there’s still the mystery of how I can see things from your eyes, despite everything.

Executioner

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I will not show fear. I will not show remorse. I will not show hate. I am not a leader, I am merely an usher. After this is done, I will take them to where they must go, to where I must go.

She doesn’t even run from me. She looks at my face, her eyes unreadable. How long has she been watching me, hunting for any sign of me, working constantly to deliver her message? Does she even have a purpose now? Does she leave behind any unresolved missions from them? Or, like me, is this the last thing she has to do before forsaking this world forever?

Two bolt toward her, and I watch her as her body is ripped apart, as if it were a piece of paper. Even after she is clearly dead, they ravage her, two monstrous beasts tearing into a piece of steak.

Cease, I tell them, in barely more than a whisper, and they obey. They return to their brothers and sisters, awaiting direction, awaiting orders.

They want revenge. They want blood. And

So

Do

I.

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“I don’t want to go back there…”

“Fuck…another fever…”

“Don’t…no…”

“Wake up now, wake up.”

“…you…”

“Drink.”

“…my head hurts…”

“Here. I’ve opened the window. Better?”

“No…I can still see it….”

“It’s over….you’re safe….shhhhhh….”

Drag You Down

Standard

Still not dealing. And you really should know better by now.
_______________________________________________________________________________

“You see?” I whispered, raising my hands in the air. “These are the kind of situations where I make awkward conversation in order to calm myself down.”

“Can’t you just throw fireballs at them?” Papa Willis hissed back, shuffling close to me.

“All in good time.”

“Preferably before they slit our throats?”

“Wait,” I ordered him.

“Why?” he asked, exasperated.

“Willis, why haven’t they attacked us yet?”

“I…” He shook his head. “Is that a rhetorical question?”

“Think about it,” I advised. “Espers would’ve attacked immediately, probably while we were still on the ice. And would ordinary ones come here?”

“So…who are they?”

A slow smile came to my face. “Let’s see.”

Willis frowned at my overly happy face, but kept quiet.

My suspicions were confirmed when they were within ten metres of us. There were three of them, both humans. “Oh wow!” I said cheerfully. “This is awesome.”

They hesitated for a moment. The woman, who had called out before, spoke first. “State your name and breed,” she ordered.

“Breed?” Willis asked, confused.

“Humans,” I called back to the woman. “I’m Cat. This is Willis.”

There was murmuring. “Not possible,” one of them growled. “The both of you came from the mainland. Monsters live there.”

“It’s the truth,” I replied.

More murmuring. Then the same man stepped towards us. He had tangled blonde hair and dark, flickering eyes. “Hold out your hand,” he told us.

I hesitated, but Willis sighed and held out his good arm. The man took out a knife and raised it. I flared up. “Don’t you dare-”

The man swiped the blade across Willis’s finger, and dark red blood spilled out immediately. “He’s fine,” he called back. They relaxed slightly.

I didn’t. They were looking for human blood, scarlet and salty. When they open my hand, and after that, my throat, all they’ll find is this poisoned, steaming concoction which screams out monster. I held my breath in as the man looked toward me.

If he had taken my right hand, it would’ve gone that way. Instead, the man chose the left, and before he could cut it, the five letters glowed, and he froze. “Altered human,” I breathed out. “They changed me long ago. I’m probably not human anymore, but I’m not one of them either.”

Freak…” he said softly, reading the carvings. His face hardened. “You’ve encountered them.”

I nodded.

“And yet you’re here to tell the story.” His voice took on a growl. “Explain that.”

“Deal with the devil,” I said simply.

“Oh really?” he snarled. “What, are you going to rat us out? Is that why you’re out here? Both of you?” He glared at Willis, whose face had gone white as snow.

I shook my head. “In exchange for my freedom, all they wanted was my mortality,” I said quietly. “The transfusion, I’ve been told, acts as a life support; it keeps my organs functioning as my body repairs itself from fatal injuries.”

“And who told you that?”

I hesitated. Noah had, after analysing my healing process from when we rescued Papa Willis from the Espers. He was fascinated by Esper technology; I suspected if he was lower born, then he would’ve become one himself. “They did,” I told them, knowing already that there was no way they were going to let themselves trust me now. Not when I shared the blood of monsters.

My suspicions were confirmed. “Out on the ice,” the man snarled at me. He held the knife to my throat, and snatched my arm. “You won’t be needing this, but we will.” His hand went to my jacket and started unclasping it. He rolled it off and tossed it to one of his companions. The icy air whistled through my head; my layer under the jacket was just as warm as another layer of skin. “Now walk,” he ordered, and I stepped tentatively backward, until I could feel the world moving beneath my feet.

“I can vouch for her!” Willis insisted, as the other two held him back. “She wouldn’t hurt a fly, I swear, she’s done nothing wrong!”

“She’s a monster,” the third stranger spoke up. “Even if she doesn’t mean us harm, there’s no telling what she’ll do. There’s only one place for her; frozen down there, where she can’t hurt us.”

“No!” I watched Willis struggle in their grasp. I could hear the ice cracking beneath me slightly, as I continued treading backwards. The man with the knife didn’t let up, forcing me further out onto the fragile lake.

“You don’t need to be afraid of her!” The woman probably thought she was being comforting. “You can come with us, you don’t need to be with her. We’ll keep you safe, we promise.”

I glimpsed over my shoulder, trying to see how far out he would make me go, and my stomach flipped. Jhaq’s frozen face, eyes widened in fear, stared at me from beneath the ice, and the snapping sound increased. My head snapped back toward the man wielding the knife. “No,” I gasped.

CRASH!

The knife brushed against my neck as I grabbed his hand. The last thing I saw before I fell backward into the waters of hell was Willis tearing himself away from the other two, who stood there gobsmacked as their companion was pulled into the water with me.

The screaming water forced its way down my throat as I clawed at the newly formed ice above me. I felt it soften slightly where my left hand touched it, but the ice, despite how thin it was when I walked on it, had suddenly gained a foot in width. I could vaguely make out through the dark stormy water the writhing form of the man beside me, as the water choked him from within, until his flailing slowed and eventually came to a stop. The shadows started moving for their next pray, and as they came closer and closer, I braced myself for death.

Suddenly, there was light. I didn’t hesitate; summoning my remaining strength, I surged towards the source. The shadows clung to my legs, dragging me down, but I couldn’t stop now that I could see the sky.

The air was bitter and cold when I thrust my arms out of the water. I clung desperately to the ice so that I could raise my head above the surface and cough out the evil water in my lungs. Already, I could feel the ice forming over me, as I tried to lift the rest of my freezing body out.

The woman ran at me and raised her foot to kick me back down, only to go flying past me, which made me realise what Noah must’ve given Papa Willis. The ice was now grazing under my arms, so I heaved myself up. I felt something sharp biting through my skin, through my remaining clothing, as I crawled out on top of the ice, but I didn’t care. I was already used to that kind of pain, and a few nicks in my thighs were a fair exchange for avoiding death once again.

I rolled over and faintly watched the ice grow even more, sealing under the water the drowned body of the man with the dark eyes. Something trickled down my throat, warm and thick. I didn’t need to touch it to know that it was my blood, my poisoned black blood. The same substance was flowing from my legs right now, and when I sat up, my muscles stung from the injuries the ice gave me.

Willis staggered over to me. “You’re okay,” he croaked.

I nodded softly. “Thanks for breaking it,” I whispered. “I didn’t want to die that way.”

“Would anyone?”

I shook my head. I looked past Willis, to the two behind him. They were scowling at me, as if their eyes could push me under the water again, so I could drown with their friend. “What do we do?” I whispered to Willis.

He turned to them. “Get out of here,” he said to them. “Look, when we get back, we won’t mention the both of you. We’ll say that Cat got attacked by this man, and this man only.” He indicated their frozen companion. “You can get away. We don’t want anyone else to die. Please…”

The two looked at eachother, but I knew where their minds were at. “You came on behalf of them,” the woman spat. “You would’ve seen us in chains, or dead.”

“No! Look, hear us out-”

“Please,” I spoke up. “Please, just get out of here. Save yourselves. He…he would’ve wanted you two to live. That’s why…” I let my voice trail off.

The wind screamed around us, nearly concealing them from sight. There was no response, no response except for a loud crack, and when I flashed back at them, their forms had disappeared with a splash, and I realised. “No!” I screamed.

Willis held my shoulder. “Get back,” he told me.

“But-”

“You can’t save them. We’re only a little bit from land, c’mon.”

“Open a hole! Let them swim out!”

“I will Cat, I promise. Just get back.”

Reluctantly, I crawled backward until the world beneath me stopped. “Stay there,” Willis ordered, and he walked back to where they were standing. His back to me, he knelt down to the ground, and I watched as the ice cracked and parted. He hurried back and sat beside me, waiting for something to happen.

There was no point. “They’re not coming up,” I said hollowly.

“They might,” he insisted.

“But they’re not.” The ice was closing again, their final gateway closing. Suddenly, something did appear out of the water, and I gasped. Was this a miracle?

But it just stayed there, like a buoy floating on top of the water. My sudden hope quickly deflated as I realised. “They didn’t sink,” I murmured. “It was too late.”

“Shit…don’t look.”

I rolled over. “I won’t,” I replied. I squeezed my eyes shut. “I’m not.” But it’s still firmly implanted in my mind, that body floating atop the lake. The sound of the ice growing over the body was as loud as thunder; when it stopped, I thought I had gone deaf. It was pure silence.

Until I heard Willis stand up beside me. I tiredly turned to look at him walk away, towards a dark mass on the ground a little bit away from us. He scooped it up and started coming back. “Your jacket,” he said, placing it on my shoulders.

“I should freeze,” I said bitterly.

“Well, you’re not,” he said stubbornly. “It wasn’t your fault. They attacked us.”

“Because of me. They were protecting themselves.”

“Were they? Isn’t that what the monsters were doing in that story?”

“I…”

“Exactly.”

I curled up on the ground, pulling the coat over my head, taking me away from the brightness, at least for a little while. I wanted to fall asleep and never wake up. Sleep was warm…even in a place like this.
_______________________________________________________________________________
When I tried to remove the jacket even for a little bit, the wind smacks me in the face. “Ack!”

“Holy shit, you’re blue,” Daniel growled, pulling me toward him.

“Daniel…” I tried to sound annoyed, but I was too tired to pull it off.

“I take it your adventure was more eventful than mine then.” He looked at Papa Willis.

“Humans,” he replied. “Three of them.”

“Really?” His voice sounded interested. “What happened? Where are they?”

Before Willis could respond, I spoke up. “Under the ice,” I murmured. “I would’ve joined them if it weren’t for Willis.”

“I see…” Daniel’s voice was weary. “Thank you.”

“No problem,” he said. “She probably wishes she were there with them though.”

“Why?” Daniel wrapped a blanket around me. “Why you want that?”

“They died because of me.”

Daniel snorted. “Let me guess. They attacked her, and she sent them under,” he said to Willis.

I was silent. “It’s okay. Hey.” He cupped my cheek. “You look like hell.”

“I want to go back,” I said weakly.

“Right.” Daniel pulled out a strip of cloth and tied it over my eyes. “I’m just glad I didn’t have to dig you out of the ice.”

“I hate it here,” I growled to myself. “I really really hate it here.”

Dark Hearts and Eyes

Standard

“Daniel, help me!”

“Get it out of her!”

“Don’t let her lose consciousness!”

“Is there anything we can give her?”

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

Those were the last things I heard before…
______________________________________________________________

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“You…didn’t take any.”

“Huh?”

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

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

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

“….huh?”

“Nothing,” she repeated.

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

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

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

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

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

“Cat…”

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

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

“…okay.”

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

And then Kaya vanished from sight.

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

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

Then there was a flash.
_____________________________________________________________________

“RRRRRRRRRRRRAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAGGGGGGGHHHHHHHHHHHH!”

“Hol-”

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

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

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

Oh fuck me.

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

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

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

“Are you alright?” Noah asked tentatively.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Uh oh.

“Noah…” I said slowly.

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

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

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

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

I was uneasy. “Her eyes…”

“What about them?” Willis was confused.

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

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

“You didn’t…see?”

“See what?” Daniel frowned at me.

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

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

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

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

I groaned. “How should I know?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“But what was it?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“…wait…what?”

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

“So that’s why…”

“Right.”

“Wait, so is it gone now?”

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

“Okay…” I said uncertainly.

“You look confused,” Daniel acknowledged.

“I am. Very.”

“And I forgive you, by the way.”

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

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

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

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

“Awwww.”

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

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

“Not always though,” Daniel pointed out.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“I was curious,” she informed me.

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

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

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

“Stupid,” she said flatly.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Obviously.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Beasts Inside

Standard

“Shit!” The monster that stabbed me got a ball of heat to the face, causing them to scream out. “Get him out of here!” I yelled to Daniel. My sight blurred and I knew I had only seconds more to live. So I let go of my body once again.

The monsters crowded around me, stabbing my mangled body repeatedly, taking no notice of the shadow. I shrieked at them, grabbing them and flinging them at eachother so they’d all go flying towards the wall. “Run, you idiot!” I told Daniel, my voice more animalistic than human.

He hesitated before pulling Papa Willis with him as he ran. “What about her?” Willis protested.

“I’ll be fine!” I yelled, hurling away the monsters that attempted to follow. “Get both your asses out!” I ordered Daniel. He nodded, and pulled Willis away, till both were out of my sight.

I looked back at the monsters coming towards me. “We’re doing nothing!” I heard one yell. “We were lied to! This isn’t a human!”

It was easy to kill them all, too simple to break them in my hand. But then I realised that no more came. We were still on the run, and yet, I heard no more approaching my way.

Oh no…I was such a fool. How many were up the other end, hunting Daniel and Willis?

I didn’t know what to do with my body though. I couldn’t leave it there…but touching it would trap me inside, and I was still dead. Or at any rate, dying. I wasn’t entirely sure. What use could I like that? But they would no doubt take it the minute I abandoned it to go after the two men running for their lives.

So I chose the option I valued more. I flew down the halls, desperately trying to sense them. I couldn’t see or hear any other presence following or approaching me, the two of them were far ahead of me. It was only because I recognised Willis’ scent that I was able to follow it, and soon, I could not only smell him, but Daniel as well. I wasn’t far…but this didn’t reassure me.

Then I heard a scream that could only be human. That’s when I decided to charge, smashing through several walls in the process in an almost cartoon-like manner. I had less than a second to take in the scene; Willis was lying in a pool of blood, and Daniel was barely keeping the freaks-with mouths stretched out like a crocodile’s- off him, frantically striking against two swords. He caught sight of me and his eyes widened. When a monster swiped at him, and he barely missed the edge of the sword, I flew at him and crushed him against a wall. “You don’t-” I punched him in the nose, “Touch-” I grabbed his neck, my claws wrapping around his throat, “Daniel!” With that, I jerked it to the right and let him fall to the ground.

At the same moment, Daniel’s sword was entering the neck of the other one, black blood spraying everywhere. “That was close,” I said softly, as the monster crumpled below.

“Are you alright?” he asked.

“Willis,” I reminded him.

Immediately he flashed around to my friend. Willis’ eyes were closed and he was barely moving. “I’ll be fine here,” Daniel told me. “Get your body back, now.”

“I’m probably dead…”

“Just go.” Something in his voice told me that I had to go now. So I went along the trail of rubble, when the whole mess hit me at last. It was far from a good time, but nothing stopped me as I crumpled to the ground in a quivering heap. I don’t know how long I was there, shaking, but when I finally looked up, someone was standing above me.

My face was smooth and emotionless. My eyes revealed nothing as they gazed down upon my shadow. Then my lips turned up into a sinister smile, as my hand was lifted to be inspected by my cool, silent stare. After a moment, Cat Madigan walked away, towards the pathway that my shadow had created.

I grabbed her by the arm. In that moment, it felt insanely hot, as if she were made of metal than flesh. But I didn’t re-enter my body. “Who are you?” I demanded.

She looked at me. “I’m Cat Madigan,” she said. But her voice was like a toddler’s, giving her away completely.

I twisted her arm and slammed her to the ground. “Don’t give me that,” I growled. “Get out of my body now.”

She smiled again. “Make me,” she said in that toddler voice, as the five letters lit up. There was no way I was backing down.

I had no time to think as a ball of fire surged towards my face. I nearly flipped backwards to dodge it, and I swiped her leg, causing her to fall to the ground. But she wasn’t fazed. Giving another maniacal laugh, she suddenly launched into the air, hovering above me.

Okay, that’s new. “I know you’re not me,” I snarled. “So why don’t you just tell me what you’re trying here?”

Another smile. “Does it really matter?” she asked, still floating in the air. “Well…you’ll be dead soon anyway, I suppose.”

At that I laughed, and when I saw her flinch, I felt even more pleased with myself. “You can try,” I told her. “God knows I have. Now…your name?”

“Axyl,” she said. “Sigma former. Helevia.”

“Don’t give me your backstory,” I told Axyl. “Even if you were from Helevia, that’s not the side you were on when it fell.” She shrugged. “Anyway….” I jumped into the air below her and aimed my foot upwards.

My kick launched her down the hall, where she was knocked into the wall ten metres from her. “Always wanted to do that,” I murmured to myself.

Axyl looked up with another eerie smile. “You can’t get me out,” she informed me. “This is my body now.”

“Cat!”

Both the imposter and I flashed around to see Daniel. Immediately, Axyl flew to Daniel. “Don’t you frigging dare!” I screamed at her, grabbing her burning arms.

“Daniel, help me!” she called out.

Daniel froze. “Daniel, I need you!” I shouted. “I can’t get back in, she’s taken over!” Still he didn’t move. “Didn’t you hear me? She’s taken over my body, I have to get her out!”

“I can’t…” he said weakly.

What? “Why…” I asked, feeling uneasy.

Suddenly, Axyl leapt out of my grasp and leapt towards Daniel. “No!” I yelled.

She threw her arms around Daniel and sobbed. Daniel just stood there as she shook with tears. “I’m scared,” she whimpered. “Please…I want to go…”

“It’s alright,” he told her reassuringly. “We can leave now, I promise, Cat.” He met my gaze; there was no hate in his face, nor fear or disgust. Instead, there was an urgency reflected in his eye that made me realise what he was doing. I nodded once, and waited for his signal.

“Where did you get this?” he asked Axyl, gently removing the wand from her jacket-my jacket.

“I…” She only paused for half a second. “It was in one of the cells,” she continued confidently. “One of the freaks must’ve left it there by mistake.”

Heheh, gotcha.

“I thought you said you took it from a corpse,” he said to her.

For a moment she went pale. “It was. You’re right. There was a body there, a prisoner I think. Maybe the guards dropped it and they picked it-” She stopped talking a split second before Daniel raised the wand and sent her flying backwards.

I grabbed her before she could hit the wall, and closed my eyes, forcing my way into her head. Get out, I snarled.

She merely screamed. Fine then. Using all that remained of my strength, I struggled to regain control of my limbs, until finally, the force pushing against me suddenly disappeared, and I took the opportunity to enter completely.

The pain of the injuries my body had obtained made me cry out when I came to my senses. “It’s alright,” Daniel told me. “Only me.” He lifted me up and he began walking back through the debris.

I could finally speak. “That…was frightening,” I croaked.

He looked down at me, smiling crookedly. “That’s what tipped me off,” he informed me. “If you were the enemy, why would she stop fighting you, just because I was there?”

“Yeah…after that, she called the monsters freaks. That was stupid too…”

“I already figured it out though,” Daniel pointed out.

“Still. What if you hadn’t?”

“I suppose.”

We were getting closer to the room now. “It wasn’t a corpse,” I said aloud. “Or in a cell. I found it in a lab. That’s how I caused the explosion.” Then Papa Willis came into view. “Is he okay?” Then I noticed Noah.

“He will be,” he answered. “Lucky for him, Daniel knows how to make a tourniquet.”

“Why would he need a…” Then I saw Willis. His right arm was in tatters, and a piece of cloth was wound tightly around where the elbow should’ve been. “Holy….”

“Indeed…”

“Willis tried to hit them out of the way,” Daniel told me wearily. “One of those crocodile things was going to bite my head off. If Willis hadn’t blocked it, I would’ve lost my neck. But he lost his arm…”

“He’ll be okay though?”

“Yes,” Noah said. “Come along you two, we need to leave.”

____________________________________________________________

There’s no Delirium or Reality, both of the worlds in my head are real; though no one but I would consider this the case.
I killed too many in the end. I can’t make myself forget everything I’ve done. It’s better to stop now. I want to die before I end up destroying both of my worlds, because I know that will happen.
The room’s all fuzzy now. In a moment, I’ll stop breathing, and from there….I don’t know. Kaya didn’t die, god knows what’ll happen to me.
It didn’t matter in the end, what was real or not. Delirium taught me as much as Reality. Reality was just as painful as Delirium. No matter what anyone says, my actions did matter. And for that, I’m sorry.
May we meet again.

.

Cuddle Cat

Standard

It had all gone downhill. It hadn’t taken them long to find me, and when they did, the chase was on.

When the ones chasing me were dead, I braced myself for more. To my surprise, the backups I expected never came. Huh.

It wasn’t kind, or even justified. But I threw their bodies down to the rocks below. I only came up with a reason for it afterwards. The less mess I’d leave behind, the less they’d have to track me, which gave me more time.

My body was covered in their blood, and I was thankful I couldn’t smell it. But when I returned, I nearly retched. “Jesus, this is disgusting…” I muttered.

I quickly realised I had no idea where I was. “Okay…” I took out my new knife, just in case. “Willis or Daniel…who should I find?”

I wandered for a while before stumbling across something very familiar. “This is Kaya’s cell,” I murmured. There was no one there though, no corpses or anything. “Right. Let’s go upstairs.”

It didn’t reassure me that everything was brightly lit. In fact, it put me on edge. They didn’t do this, they never enjoyed light. The only reason they would do this would be to prevent me from hiding in the shadows. Which could only be a bad thing.

I decided to go right, but instead of more cells, I came across a giant door. Oh no…Cat Madigan, this is a bad idea, I thought to myself as I opened it. This is suicide, since when does anything good come out of this place? my inner voice screamed as I stepped through it and looked around, dazed for a moment by the intense lights.

I stared at the object in the glass cabinet. I say glass lightly, because I had a feeling that it would kill me if I so much as touched it. But I couldn’t help but wonder what it was doing in this world. I knew what these people were capable of, with machines that made freaks like Kaya and me. They ridiculed people like me and Daniel, and yet…

Just to make sure, I didn’t touch the cabinet immediately. Instead, I did what anyone else would’ve done. Or at least, what anyone who could throw fireballs would do.

Needless to say, this ended badly. Well…sorta.

Let’s just say there was an explosion.

I woke a moment later, coughing up smoke. “Oh boy…” I made out the fuzzy image of the weapon in front of me, and I reached out and took it. It was shaped like a wand, but the whirring sound coming from it indicated that it wasn’t magic that was inside it. There was nothing that gave me a clue as of what to do with it, but it had a pale glow to it that put me on edge.

I still had no idea when the first monster came it. She had bulging eyes and red pointy teeth which gleamed at me when she smiled. When she took a step towards me, I no longer cared what it did, I just pointed it at her.

Immediately, her body flew into the door behind her, crashing into several other monsters. I just stood there in a daze, when I heard shouting down the hall. I leapt over the monsters to reach them. “Sorry!” I called over my shoulder, running towards the sound.

It became simple. I aimed the thing at one of them and he was thrown in that direction. When any of the monsters approached, they could never get near me. When I felt one behind me, I span around, ready to fire, when I saw him. “Daniel!”

Before he could answer, I was suddenly grabbed and thrown to the ground, the weapon bouncing out of my reach. The monster’s eyes were glassy and unaware as he clawed into my throat with what seemed like giant, sharp fingers. I pushed him away, but even as my hand burnt into his face, it did nothing to stop him, and this fight between he and I was quickly finishing.

Then he howled, and I felt something cold splash over me. It was only when I saw the tip of a blade protruding the monster’s stomach that I realised what was going on. I scrambled out of the way of the dying monster before Daniel withdrew his sword and he fell to the ground. I stared at him as his cries became quieter. There was a large wound in his back, a dark shiny line exposing his insides, which were slowly spreading beneath him. “Where is he?” I asked Daniel hollowly.

He didn’t ask who I was referring to. “He’s not far,” he said. “Those were the men guarding him. Some left when they heard an explosion.” He raised an eyebrow at me.

“Don’t look at me like that,” I reproached.

“Have you looked in a mirror recently?” he replied. At the look on my face, he grimaced. “Fair point. Anyway…” He gestures towards the door. “After you, my lady.”

I didn’t go to the door though. First, I located the weapon I used before. “Do you know what this is?” I asked him.

He wrinkled his face. “No clue. I don’t like the look of it though.”

“Me neither…but I can think of some who would.”

“Thommand?” Daniel enquired.

“I was actually thinking of the monsters here,” I admitted. “But you’re right too. Should we take it or not?”

He grimaced. “We’re faced with two evils here,” he pointed out. “Which one is going to be more dangerous with this thing?”

I couldn’t imagine either using it to be honest. “Right now, we really don’t want this evil to get it,” I said. “We’ll figure what to do with it later.” I picked it up. “In the meantime, I’m going to use it.”

“If you say so…”

Papa Willis barely moved when he saw me. “Oh. Hi,” he said blankly.

“…Hello.” I stepped over one of the corpses. “Did you do this?” I asked Daniel, as I opened the cell door.

“Yeah,” Daniel admitted. “Though it was either me or them, if I do say so myself.”

“Not judging Daniel. I certainly don’t have any right to.” I knelt down next to Papa Willis. “Can you walk?” His grimace gave me the answer. “Okay…” I looked back at Daniel. “How about you carry him and I’ll keep them off you?”

“Use you as a meat shield? No.”

“Or you could leave me,” Willis suggested.

“Not a chance,” I said, lifting Willis up. “And what’s the worst that can happen? I die?”

“Cat…” Daniel knew that it wouldn’t matter if I died, as I’d resurrect anyway. But he still looked against the idea of me sacrificing myself.

“By the way.” I gave Willis a hug. “It’s good to see you alive.”

Willis didn’t move. “Why are you hugging me?” he asked awkwardly.

“Because you’re alive.”

“…okay.”

“Willis?”

“…yeah?”

“You smell.”

“So do you.”

I grinned at him, and he just looked back, confused as hell. “What’s with her?” he asked Daniel.

“She’s easily influenced,” Daniel replied. “She’s happy now, but she’ll be cutting off heads in a minute.”

I stuck my tongue out at him. “I’m a psychopath,” I confirmed.

“The sweetest psychopath you’ll ever meet,” Daniel added.

Willis just shook his head feebly. “Right…”

I remembered that he didn’t recognise me, so I backed away slightly. “Maybe we should do this later?”

“Good idea.” Daniel grudgingly took Willis when I reached the opening. “Noah’s meeting us at the crumbled wall,” he told me.

“Same place as before.” I remembered how Kaya shattered that wall during her escape. They thought the girl was useless, a dud. “Do you ever wonder why Kaya took you?” I asked Daniel.

“Now’s not the time for reminiscing,” Daniel replied.

I rolled my eyes and walked ahead of the two. It was like this for a while, and I grew wary of the disturbing quiet.

My suspicions were confirmed a split second before a sword sank in my belly and I was falling once again.