Speckle Eye

Standard

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

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

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

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

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

“Answer me!” she snarled. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“That’s why-”

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

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

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

“What?”

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

“…it’s a gesture,” I said weakly.

“What kind of gesture?”

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

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

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

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

_____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

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

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

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

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

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

“What do you mean?”

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

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

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

“Goodbye,” I said softly after him.

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

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

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

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

“Why?” 

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

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

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

“…thanks.”

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

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

“What did she tell Daniel?”

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

“…what good is that going to do?”

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

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

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

“…what would he do then?” 

“That’s up to him.”

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

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

“We do?”

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

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

Advertisements

Black Cat’s Ugly Head

Standard

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

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

Temper, temper.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Didn’t stop you.

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

Cold…cold…colder…. he said petulantly.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pfffffft. Keys are more entertaining. Now find one.

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

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

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

The key is just underneath her, he said obediently.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I dunno. Up to you.

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

Aaaaand it wasn’t.

Yay.

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

You’re assuming I made her?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pffffffft. And you say my logic is fucked.

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

“Shut up.”

Does she still have the fingerbones there too?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

He chuckled. Understand now?

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

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

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

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

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

Another dark laugh. Splendid…

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

“…no.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Don’t compare me to innocent children.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Your wish is my command.

Daniel Comes To School

Standard

Daniel is not religious. In case you haven’t figured that out already by his behaviour in church.

Neither are my parents actually. Apparently Mum used to believe in God, but not anymore. And now it seems like she rejects religion completely, except for that one commandment where apparently we have to obey our parents. All that religion is in her eyes is a moneymaking industry preying on the vulnerability of the masses.

I’m not sure about my father, as I haven’t spent enough time with him to know this. Like me, he’s interested in the history part of this, but he doesn’t go to church. I know very little about my father, when I think about it.

Daniel summed up his beliefs to me in class. “I’ve never really believed in a God,” he told me. “And since…” His voice trailed off, indicating the Delirium we both lived in. “I can’t really fathom the idea of a man who simultaneously controls several worlds at the same time, each with their own set of ethics.” He grimaced. “It’s a bit two-faced when you think about it. Saying that you must be kind to one another to one set of people, and telling the other that it is your right to commit sin.”

“Maybe God’s got serious personality issues?”

“Or maybe there’s several Gods, and each is struggling to take control of the infinite worlds. Earth and Delirium are controlled by separate gods.”

“Interesting…does that mean that our god took us there so that we could dominate that world?” I wrinkled my nose.

“That would be a cruel god.”

“Silly Daniel…who said that gods had to be nice?” I returned.

Miss S is the most awesome teacher ever. Not only does she spoil us rotten, but she’s also probably the only teacher who I’ve been honest with about the true nature of my blackouts. She often misses lessons, and she confided in me why; she has epilepsy, and she’s always worrying about losing control during class.

One time, after a particularly bad episode, she came to me after class and asked me about my condition. And that was when Daniel, at that moment standing behind Miss S, told me to tell her.

Why? I frowned at him.

“You need to confide in at least one teacher,” he said. “In case something bad happens and Willis or Flash or anyone else aren’t there to help. And if Kaya loses it…”

I just closed my eyes. The problem with people is that they believe they’re doing the right thing, but ‘the right thing’ doesn’t mean the same to all people. And I did not know what ‘the right thing’ would be for Miss S. She was cool, don’t get me wrong. But would that prevent her from informing my parents?

“Okay…think of it this way,” Daniel said. “Say that Kaya does lose it. Would you want her to be near when that happens?”

No one’s safe, I thought.

“Doesn’t matter about that.” Daniel anticipated my train of thought. “If she knows, she can protect herself. And others, if may be.” He came to my side and put his arm around me. “I think that she might be able to understand at least a little bit.”

So I told her. And she didn’t tell anyone else. Or my parents. She asked what my blackouts were like, and I gave her the basics; essentially, I went into my own little world, and that during that time, I had no awareness of what happened in Reality. At one point, I accidentally slipped up and mentioned that I was often attacked by shadows, which lead me to talking about Daniel. I didn’t dwell too long on him, but Miss S seemed satisfied with the knowledge that he took care of me. I believe that she’s under the impression that Daniel’s my own age though, which I suppose is okay.

I do wonder occasionally what her reaction would be if she could see Daniel as he was; a grown man who, in any responsible adult’s eyes, had nothing more than an eyepatch, smooth words and an extremely bad record when it came to babysitting. Not to mention a potential alcohol problem.

“Don’t forget badassery.”

And a very, very large ego.

Anyway…Daniel was with me in Religion when we were discussing Natural Law, where both of us got to listen to how much less violent it was compared to the world we struggled to survive in.

Concerning Genetic Selection…

“I want my child to be attractive as possible,” Bell said. Instantly, the room was filled with boos, and in my case, laughter. “C’mon, if anyone says that ‘looks don’t matter’, you, are a liar,” she claimed. “That’s the way society is; success is largely contributed to good looks and charisma, and if that means that my kids would be happy, then that’s what I’d want for them.”

“Kind of got a point there,” Daniel said. When I looked at him, he went on. “Think of Delirium. You’ve seen Christan’s friends. What can you make of them other than the fact that they are, in their eyes, beautiful?”

“Not that much,” I admitted. “Still, this is Reality.”

“Is it really that different?” he retorted. “People in the spotlight are beautiful, the rest are largely ignored until disaster strikes.”

“Like suicide?”

“That’s one example. There’s no need to think along those specific lines though…”

“Still…accident, murder, environmental disaster…they all have one thing in common.”

“Hmm…”

“I get what you’re saying though,” I continued. “Physical beauty is an advantage in worlds like ours. It gives you the influence you need to succeed, and from there…”

“The rest relies on your own skills though,” Daniel concluded. “Influence is fickle; it only lasts if you make it last.”

“Mmhm. But I still think it’s wrong to genetically alter your child…how different would I be if I was designed by my parents.”

“Very.” Daniel frowned. “I wonder how different I would be…”

I didn’t know what he meant.

Concerning materialism vs common ownership…

“Common ownership worked for the Helevians,” Daniel said.

“But they were the most beautiful civilisation in the world. And they weren’t corrupted with manipulative bastards or naive little boys who are encouraged to indulge themselves in anyway they want.”

“Oh, there were manipulative bastards,” Daniel confirmed. “It’s just Nereida and her father were wiser than Christan is.”

“I miss Nereida,” I told him.

“You two didn’t interact much though,” Daniel pointed out.

He was right about that. Whenever I encountered Nereida in Reality, she’d just watch me, before vanishing without a word. The rest of the time, I saw Nereida through Kaya’s eyes. “Still. It would be nice if Delirium had people like Nereida still,” I said wistfully.

“She once said we were alike.”

“How so?” I frowned.

He grimaced. “I have a feeling that she may have been referring to our…sense of humour.”

“Oh yeah…” Another reason why I wish Nereida was alive; she was an even bigger pervert than Daniel. And perverts are wonderful people.

“She was strong,” Daniel continued. “Everyone talks of how Kaya suffered the most. But Nereida suffered too. She lost her father. And then the espers killed her childhood friends one by one, and then…”

“Whatever must be done must be done with grace,” I quoted. “Till the end.”

“On one hand, people are more likely to cherish the objects that they have earned,” Miss S explained. “On the other, peace is more likely to be maintained if everyone owns the same thing.”

“The thing is, it’s human nature to always want more,” Bell argued.

“But isn’t peace more important?” Payne asked. “I’d rather everyone was able to get the same than own my own things.”

Daniel scoffed. Payne was one of those goody goody students, and she looked down on me for my occasional disinterest in class. She was, as my mother put it, one of those people who prayed for the poor loudly in church, and kicked them away on the way out the door. One day, she was the lucky one to discover me coming out of the bathroom with blood on my face. All I can really remember of that specific encounter is that she spent the whole time trying to get the truth out of me, while it was up to Daniel to make sure I washed my mouth out and rehydrated. At the end of it, I told Payne that she couldn’t help me and that she would immediately regret hearing the truth when I told it, much to her frustration.

Concerning Stealing…

“It’s wrong,” Payne-in-the-ass said automatically.

“But what if you really needed something but you couldn’t afford it?” I retorted.

“Like what?” she scoffed.

“Oh, I dunno. Food, medicine, clean water,” I proposed. “What if I were homeless and I had to get out of the cold or I’d die of hypothermia?”

“That’s what your parents are-”

I nearly laughed at that. “You’re missing the point. If you were stuck out in the cold, and the only option would be to squat in an empty store or house or something, that would be stealing. So is that wrong?”

Daniel was grinning. This argument went on until it was time to go to Maths, and he stayed behind with me to pick up my books. “You’d make a great lawyer,” he told me.

“God no.” I made a face. “I would be stammering non stop in front of a judge.”

“Not really. You can hold your own in an argument. And you can figure out the inconsistencies in what people say.”

“Not immediately though. I need time to think about things. Lawyers need to be on their feet all the time, processing everything immediately. If I did that, I’d go-” At that, I sigh. “Well, I guess I’m too late already.”

Miss S smiled at me as I walked out. “You did well,” she said. “I like the way you think.”

“Really?” Before I could continue, she had already vanished.

“Is it really too hard to believe you’re good at something?”

“I’m sorry, what am I good at again?”

“Thinking.”

“…maybe.”

Story time with Meow Meow

Standard

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

Argh….time to die again.

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

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

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

He started giggling again. “Meow.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“She’s Meow!” Neekah replied.

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

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

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

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

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

“I like princess stories!” Another girl whined.

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Who was she?” Neekah asked.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Weren’t her parents worried about her?”

“What was the man’s name?”

“Meow Meow, it’s time to go.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“I guess…”

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

Memory of the Dead

Standard

“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.”