Undertaker of Sorrows

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Sorrowful Heart 1 – Infectious Despair

There’s been silence in Roger’s house for nearly two years with the deaths of his children still weighing heavy on his soul as if they just died. He still has their torn clothes with their dried blood still on it. His house is as dirty and empty as if it was abandoned. The beds are undone, the kitchen is a mess, and dust covers almost every surface. Things that were broken have stayed broken. The washer and shower are rarely used and even though there’s barely anything in the fridge, the trash and recycle cans outside are filled to the brim.

It’s the birthday of his son and Roger has gotten cupcakes. He puts three cupcakes near three out of six chairs. He then sits down to eat his cupcake while looking through a photo album. There are only pictures of him and his children in the album though there are pictures with the faces of certain people torn off. Roger couldn’t bring himself to throw away a picture of his smiling children, so he cut out the “imperfections” to make it bearable to look at or rather easier. Every time he looks at the pictures in a photo or in his mind, he remembers his happy memories and feels sad. Sadness itself is the normal feeling for him and it shows on his face as the way he previously looked in the pictures make them look like they were taken decades ago.

He slams the photo album close as his emotions are becoming too much to bear. Looking through his mail, he finds bills, junk mail, and a surprise. One of the pieces of mail is a letter. There’s no address or anything either than Roger’s own. The sender only identifies himself as a friend.  Curious about it, he opens the letter to read it. The letter says,

“It’s time to stop your mourning

It’s time to wake to a new morning

Because this is a warning you should know

So you can be saved from your woes

 

You know what causes you despair

Your time for mourning has been fair

Now rise from your sadness

And taste the sweetness of gladness

 

The Undertaker of Sorrows is coming after you

He knows what you’ve been through

He wants you to succeed

But if you fail, he will do more than make you bleed

 

Your ways have caused others harm

And the state of your soul is cause for alarm

So let go of what causes you sorrow

Or the Undertaker will not let you live after tomorrow”

Roger has heard of the Undertaker of Sorrows, but his garbage can filled with crosses, Bibles, and pictures of the saints says his view of the afterlife and the supernatural, so he throws the letter in the trash. After eating his cupcake and throwing away the rest, Roger goes to bed in a worse mood than usual. He wakes up later and gets ready for another day of work. Once he’s ready, he leaves the house while stepping on the few bugs that share his home. Even though he joins the crowds of workers as he makes his way to work, he feels alone.

This is until he sees a strange man in the crowd. The man catches Roger’s eye because of the undertaker outfit he’s wearing and his hands that seem to be stuck in constant prayer. Their eyes meet as the undertaker looks at him then smiles. The Undertaker of Sorrows rhyme then plays itself in his head again before the undertaker he sees disappears into the crowd. Roger rubs his eyes then shrugs off what he saw.

When Roger arrives at work, he enters his room, which is almost as dirty and unappealing to look at as his house. The only thing that makes it look appealing are the certificates, awards, and dusty mini trophies from years ago. He looks through old and new emails of declining morale, reminders of better days, his duty to fix it, and to get over the past. Despite holding onto his job by a string, he types up excuses for his behavior and talks about making exercises that the company can do to improve morale that don’t involve him being in it. After typing the emails, he looks up to catch a few of his coworkers who were looking at him with sadness in their eyes. They look away then go somewhere else to carry on their conversation. Roger shrugs then sighs while looking up at the ceiling for a bit then looks outside his room again to see a familiar face.

The undertaker from before is back and talking to one of his coworkers. Both of them appear to be having a fun conversation, but something about the undertaker unnerves Roger. He looks back down at his computer to get back to work. It goes silent outside his room before he hears what sounds like something being slipped underneath his door. He goes to check it and sees the undertaker gently smiling at him while waving. Roger waves back with an uneasy look on his face before looking at the letter underneath his door. The letter has the Undertaker of Sorrows rhyme on it to his surprise. When he looks back up, the undertaker’s face has drastically changed to that of what the Undertaker of Sorrows is rumored to look like, which makes Roger leap back in fear. This is only for a spilt second as the undertaker’s face goes back to normal at the blink of an eye.

Roger keeps his eyes on the undertaker before rubbing his eyes then opening them again to see that the undertaker has disappeared. Thinking that his stress and tiredness is just getting to him, he makes himself coffee in his room while also taking some medicine to dull the pain. The workday goes on with emails getting sent to him that advertise counseling, psychiatrists, local church events, and the like that seem to be catered towards him. He dismisses this as the advertising algorithms that just want him to spend money or join their groups because of his internet history. Once the day is done, he heads out of his room and turns to lock his room only to find the Undertaker of Sorrows rhyme nailed on his door. He rips up the rhyme then storms out the door.

Along the way to his home, Roger decides to stop at the nearby bar but isn’t allowed in. In a worse mood than he is usually in, he storms down the streets while not caring about the people he walks through or the homeless he steps on. As soon as he gets home, he slams his mail on the table before sitting down to cool off. Once he’s had a drink from the fridge, he looks through his mail. Again, he finds advertisements for things that can help him be freed from his sadness and among the letters, he finds the Undertaker’s rhyme yet again. Roger thinks about letting go of his sadness but can’t bring himself to bear the pain. For the rest of the night, the memories of his previous life torture him until the broken clocks turn to eleven fifty-five.

This confirms to Roger that the Undertaker of Sorrows myth is just that. A myth. A knock at his door disturbs his sigh of relief. He gets up to see no one at the door, but he feels uneasy for some reason. He then closes the door only to see the same undertaker from before sitting in the chair he was watching TV in. The undertaker slowly turns around to reveal his horrifying face. His face that the Undertaker of Sorrows is said to have, however, it’s even more horrifying in person. The eye with a mouth in the pupil along with a wide eerie grin chills his soul.

The Undertaker sits and smiles while Roger stares back while trying to open the door, which he is unable to open. He then moves to the windows and tries to open, but they can’t open nor are they breakable. The two still lock eyes as the Undertaker hasn’t moved or done anything. The rhyme keeps playing and playing in Roger’s head as if it was begging him to do what it wanted. Instead of thinking about the rhyme, Roger backs up the stairs while keeping his eyes on the Undertaker. Once his eyes are off the monster, he turns to his bedroom where he sees the Undertaker pop out of it. This sudden scare makes Roger fall down the stairs.

When he looks back at the Undertaker, Roger sees his children’s torn clothes. The Undertaker tears the clothes apart into scraps. Roger scrambles to grabs the pieces and only manages to catch a few. Disappointed in what he did, the Undertaker puts one hand behind his back and waggles his finger while shaking his head. The only other possible way out is the back, so Roger runs to the kitchen and locks the door behind him. He tries to open the door, but that along with the nearby window is locked. The Undertaker’s rhyme gets his attention on the table. He looks at it again and feels like there’s more than the letter in his hands. Putting the letter down, he finds a picture of his children’s graves along with pictures that his children drew of the family. He begins to cry as the feelings overwhelm him.

After he wipes away his tears, he sees that the Undertaker is in the room with Roger’s children holding his hands. His children appear to be like angels with glowing skin and their bodies uncorrupted by their violent deaths. Roger tries his best in trying to tear his children away from the Undertaker but is unable to, so he punches him which makes his children disappear. Roger continues uselessly punching the Undertaker until he grabs the next punch then takes his heart out of his chest.

Despite lacking a heart, Roger is still living even though he is in extreme amounts of pain as his body slowly dies. He is unable to scream, move, or change his fate. The Undertaker then shoves Roger’s heart into his throat until Roger chokes to death. Once he is dead, the Undertaker disappears to attempt to relieve another person of their sorrows.

 

 

Sorrowful Heart 2 – Money Can’t Buy Happiness

Even though being rich is a more relaxing life than being poor, it doesn’t mean that it doesn’t come with its challenges. As Christy will tell anyone, her riches are a burden. Because of the position she’s put in, she lives a simple and boring life. Her small but luxurious house has everything she could want. She has a car and personal airplane at the ready to take her anywhere in the world. If that wasn’t enough, she has various gifts and trinkets from her employees. In terms of awards, she has trophies and certificates from every major award event for her charity and efforts to help the needy of the world, however, she doesn’t have any recent awards.

The news she hears is the same as it was when Christy started her career of helping others. A few things might’ve been silenced, but that doesn’t mean she won’t be reminded about them in some way. Books and letters of causes, the history of conflicts and disease, along with ads for charities scatter her office. Her calendar has several days marked for public events that she will speak at while her social media pages are a free space for charities and causes to advertise in. After doing her normal morning activities, she sits to look over the flowers in her garden from her room. A person she assumes to be one of her assistants silently gives her a letter. It says,

“It’s time to stop your mourning

It’s time to wake to a new morning

Because this is a warning you should know

So you can be saved from your woes

 

You know what causes you despair

Your time for mourning has been fair

Now rise from your sadness

And taste the sweetness of gladness

 

The Undertaker of Sorrows is coming after you

He knows what you’ve been through

He wants you to succeed

But if you fail, he will do more than make you bleed

 

Your ways have caused others harm

And the state of your soul is cause for alarm

So let go of what causes you sorrow

Or the Undertaker will not let you live after tomorrow”

Before she can question the person who gave her the letter, she looks over her shoulder to see that no one is in the room with her. The room is large, and Christy is on the far end of the room. No one should’ve been able to get out of the room without making noise and it’s been quiet the entire time. The only explanation is that the Undertaker himself gave her the letter himself based on what is known about him. Christy looks around her house to find that no one is home. She checks the working schedules of her assistants to find that no one is working today to confirm her explanation.

Nervous about what she must get rid of, Christy looks through her possessions, gathers the ones that she has the most attachment to, and sends a message to a charity to pick them up. Moments later, she meets a man at the door who has arrived to pick up these possessions. He smiles, tips his hat, and picks up everything surprisingly easily despite how heavy they all are. Christy doesn’t see the man’s face, but when she turns around, she sees a similarly dressed pick-up man. She turns around again to see the Undertaker of Sorrows grin at her, tip his hat, and drive off with her possessions. Seeing that someone has already picked up her possessions, the pick-up man gets back in his truck and drives away too.

Feeling a bit of relief from giving away her possessions, Christy goes back to relax only to find the same letter on her bed in an unopened condition. After reading it again, she looks up to see the Undertaker watering her flowers. He looks up to her with his smile, which pushes her to action. She gathers resignation letters from her employees that note their sorrow in leaving her and gives them to the Undertaker. He shakes his head.

Going through her possession again, she finds letters from her family that detail their concern for her. The Undertaker rejects these as well. Next, she gives him letters from organizations that are about them wondering about her periods of recent inactivity and her meager giving. That isn’t what the Undertaker is looking for. How about a wedding ring? Nope. Past awards? No. Gifts from the deceased who she said she would help? Not even close. Everything in her gives reminds her of her grief. She doesn’t feel like she deserves it because of the people who suffer in the world while she lives in luxury.

There’s only one last thing she can think she could give. She lights her house on fire then gets a knife and cuts her throat in front of the Undertaker who shakes his head and waves his hand in concern as she kills herself and lights all her possession on fire as a sacrifice for those who are suffering in the world. What the Undertaker wanted is more figurative rather than literal. Nevertheless, he moves on from the sad scene to continue his work.

 

 

 

Sorrowful Heart 3 – Back Too Late

Veterans typically find it difficult to reintegrate into society after fighting for so long. One such veteran is named Omar. He wears his old army jacket, pants, and boots. Despite needing food and water, he carries around a newspaper, a pack of smokes, a lighter, a combat knife, and the dog tags of his friends along with his own. He goes back to the places where he and his friends drew graffiti on the walls with his name and the name of his friends still on the wall. The school he used to get is being repaired a large hole on the second floor still prevalent. At the playground he used to frequent even his teenage years, the chalk outlines of bodies are kept there in honor of what recently happened.

In his tour of memories, Omar visits his house, which is a hollow shell of its former self. Every part of the house has been scorched by the fire. While looking around the perimeter of the house, he sees that a letter is under the front door. He goes past the police tape to get it. The letter has his name on it. It says,

“It’s time to stop your mourning

It’s time to wake to a new morning

Because this is a warning you should know

So you can be saved from your woes

 

You know what causes you despair

Your time for mourning has been fair

Now rise from your sadness

And taste the sweetness of gladness

 

The Undertaker of Sorrows is coming after you

He knows what you’ve been through

He wants you to succeed

But if you fail, he will do more than make you bleed

 

Your ways have caused others harm

And the state of your soul is cause for alarm

So let go of what causes you sorrow

Or the Undertaker will not let you live after tomorrow”

Omar remembers this rhyme from his past and anything from his past causes him pain. He remembers his time in the army. The intense firefight and the feeling of taking another person’s life is still fresh in his mind as if it just happened. Feeling a need to pray for the dead, he goes to the graveyard. Once there, he prays before his family’s gravestones. Beside their graves, are the graves of his friends who fought alongside him. The weight of his sadness is too much to bear as he begins to cry.

The sound of someone walking in this empty graveyard at this hour of the night stop Omar’s tears in their tracks and catches his attention. He looks over to see the Undertaker of Sorrows praying for the dead alongside him. This startles the veteran so much so that he runs away. Omar runs all the way until he reaches the underside of a bridge. Still nervous about being followed, he looks around every corner until he begins to calm down.

This calm doesn’t last long as he is reminded of his woes when he looks at the graffiti of soldiers fighting in a war on the walls underneath the bridge. Omar covers his head as if running through a hail of gunfire, but instead of being shot at by bullets, he is being assaulted by grief. He keeps running until he runs into a column. After writhing in pain for a little bit, he opens his eyes to see the Undertaker standing over him. This makes him jump to his feet and put a little distance between them.

Knowing that he has nowhere to go, Omar takes out the dog tags of his friends and presents them to the Undertaker. The Undertaker takes them with a hand that comes out of the mouth in his eye then tilts his head to imply that he’s still expecting something. Omar takes out the newspaper that details a few events that deal with his family. The school that his brother and sister were at was blown up by a disgruntled student. Eyewitnesses told the police that Omar’s siblings tried to talk their fellow student out of blowing himself up. Another brother closer to his age was involved in a shootout in a playground where the officer managed to save the lives of others at the cost of his. Their family’s house burned down because of a criminal’s relation to the person shot by his brother in the shootout. Everybody got out okay, but they’re living in another town now.

Despite Omar pledging to protect his family as a soldier, three of them were killed and their house was burned down as a result of his absence. This seems to be a running theme in his life because of him letting his friends die in battle. Omar hands off the newspaper to the Undertaker whose hand in his eye takes it. Still expecting something, the Undertaker makes it more obvious what he wants Omar to let go by having his family’s and friend’s killers and appear beside him. The killers appear the way they were before with marks of their deeds on their heads and body. A skinny version of Omar appears alongside him. The same trouble making one that caused his family grief in his younger years.

Filled with rage, Omar takes out his combat knife. He looks back and forth at the people unsure of who to take his revenge on first. The Undertaker watches in anticipation of what decision he’s going to make. Omar screams as he throws his knife down. Sick and tired of killing and being angry, he gives up his hate for himself and others. The people then suddenly surround Omar in silence. He gives them all a hug as one disappears after the other. Once they’re gone, a weight is lifted from his soul as he falls to the ground to cry.

The Undertaker consoles Omar with a hand on his shoulder. Omar looks up at the Undertaker who appears to be more like an angel rather than a monster. As the morning sun rises, the Undertaker disappears into the light with tears of happiness running down his face. With newfound strength, Omar gets rid of his cigarettes and makes his way to the town where his family now is where they are eagerly waiting for him.

 

 

 

Sorrowful Heart 4 – Isolated in Misery

The wilderness is a place far away from the worries of modern life. If you know what you’re doing, you should be able to make a living in it. After a hunting trip for food, Mark returns with the rewards from his hard work. He spent all last night building traps for animals after studying their habits and placed his traps in the appropriate areas. Once he prepares the meat and skin of the animals in his kitchen, he lets it cook then he goes over to his living room. While looking over pictures of his family and friends, he smiles and nods as if paying homage. The pictures depict some of his loved ones hunting with him in some of them.

A knock at the door startles Mark. As he gets close to the door, a letter slips underneath it. He cautiously opens the door to see no one around. Certain that someone must be around, Mark looks around the area with his hunting rifle in case of danger and finds no one. When he gets back home, he reads the letter. It says,

“It’s time to stop your mourning

It’s time to wake to a new morning

Because this is a warning you should know

So you can be saved from your woes

 

You know what causes you despair

Your time for mourning has been fair

Now rise from your sadness

And taste the sweetness of gladness

 

The Undertaker of Sorrows is coming after you

He knows what you’ve been through

He wants you to succeed

But if you fail, he will do more than make you bleed

 

Your ways have caused others harm

And the state of your soul is cause for alarm

So let go of what causes you sorrow

Or the Undertaker will not let you live after tomorrow”

It’s been so long since Mark last thought of what he was sorrowful for that he couldn’t think of anything that he regretted or something that caused him sorrow. When he told everyone he knew that he is going to stay in the wilderness for a while, they reluctantly approved of his decision because normal life was getting to him back then. Untroubled by the letter he goes about his daily activities. By the time he goes to bed, he’s already forgotten about the letter. Even though he might’ve forgotten about the letter, he still has a dream of a lone figure in his dream. The figure stands ominously in the dark forest. When it turns around, Mark wakes up.

Mark shakes off the feeling from his dream to go into his living room to see the letter nailed to the wall. The Undertaker is obviously after him, but he still has no idea why. He thought to himself why he would remember something that would sadden him and what good that would do when he’s already happy as he is. A stitched-together newspaper is placed under his front door. Again, Mark searches for the person who did it and find no one.

The newspaper has the events that Mark regrets. While Mark was working a construction job, part of the building fell in streets which resulted in injuries and deaths. Mark wasn’t blamed for the accident since the equipment was found to be faulty and someone else wasn’t doing their job, however, Mark still felt guilty. During a hunting trip with his family, Mark was about to shoot a deer, but then a man came out of the woods with a knife in his sights. He had already pulled the trigger and shot both the man and the deer, killing them both. Again, another accident that he couldn’t avoid. Tears start welling up in his eyes as he ignores the last accident.

Wondering why the Undertaker is putting him through this, Mark waits for an answer as he still doesn’t know why the Undertaker is reopening old wounds. Another letter comes through the door. He quickly opens and reads it. The letter says to, “Come home”. The thought then occurred to him that he better get back home because his loved ones should be worried about him right now especially since they have no way of knowing if he’s okay. All this time he’s been thinking about himself and not the people that care about him.

Feeling worse about his selfishness rather than his sorrows, he packs his stuff to leave. Before he exits the door, he remembers that the wilderness is a dangerous place especially with all his stuff on his back. Another letter slips underneath the door. This one says, “I’ll protect you”. Not wanting to keep his loved ones waiting, he trusts the letter and heads off. At this time of day, there are predators in the woods along Mark’s path.

While thinking about the first threat, Mark hears a bear in the distance. He hides until he hears it squeal in pain. Curious about what happened while being cautious, Mark goes near to where the sound was and sees an eviscerated bear. Somewhat terrified but comforted at the same time, he moves on. More sounds of danger echo on his path and he gets closer to where he left his car. These are the sounds of wolves hunting for their next meal. Again, he hides while readying his rifle. This time he sees the wolves in the distance. It appears that he will have to take care of this himself. Mark thinks that this won’t be too much trouble since he’s killed three wolves on his own before, however, the wolves are skewered by a passing shadow in no time. Mark lets out a discomforted sigh before moving on.

Mark has finally made it to his car. He checks his fuel levels and sees that he’s running lower than he thought. He looks up to see three people with guns and a gas can with gas in it walking into the forest. One of them notices him near the car and touches the others to notify them of him being there. The one with the gas can drops it as he points his gun at Mark. The two men only take a few steps towards Mark before all of them disappear. Startled, but not too afraid, he gets the gas can where the man put it. As he picks it up, he hears screaming coming from the forest. This makes him quickly fills his car before leaving to go back home. He thanks the Undertaker only to have a piece of paper lodge into his windshield that says, “You’re welcome”, written in what looks to be blood.

 

 

 

Sorrowful Heart 5 – Sinner to Saint

Five inmates are waiting on death row. Inmates are typically visited by the Undertaker of Sorrows while they serve their sentence. He doesn’t visit everyone, but death row inmates see him more often. While waiting one night, each of the five inmates receives the Undertaker’s letter warning them to let go of their sorrows with the worst of them not paying attention to it. After reading the letter, the four think about what they should do. The fifth one does what he always does as he silently keeps to himself in the corner of his room.

During the next day, they receive their items to remember what they did. The first one receives a knife with skin and hair still in it. Even when he touches it, he can still hear the screams of the people whose lives he took, the anger he felt, and the feelings of sadness as the reason for him taking their lives resurfaced. He didn’t want to kill them, but if he didn’t, he felt as if others would suffer. Content with his choices, the first inmate spends his days cutting his room with the knife as if stabbing and slicing those he hated again and again.

The second inmate receives a wallet with some meager change inside it along with the picture of a small family in front of a house. This inmate thinks of the different things she can do with the change she has. Maybe she can kill herself with what she has. It might be slow, but to her, it’s better than waiting for her turn to die. This is all that’s on her mind. The thought of getting over her guilt and what is causing her sorrow is a fleeting thought that appears on and off in her mind. The wallet delivered to her is from an old woman she robbed. With the picture in the wallet, she found the old woman’s family and stole from them as well. Even with all the money she had, she couldn’t escape justice. Now she just thinks of an easy way out.

With pictures of women in flirtatious women, the third inmate remembers what causes him feelings of guilt, however, he tries to get rid of those feelings by pleasing himself. These teenage girls weren’t raised by the best of parents and found themselves molested by this man. Only one of the girls has been found who put the man in jail. The rest are nowhere to be found. This inmate refuses to admit his guilt even as the echoes of the girls’ screams and cries torture him.

Old toys are sent to the fourth inmate, but she does nothing as always. Back in her younger years, she would run away from whatever troubled her whether I’d be financial, murderous, or familial. Even when she gave birth to children, she left them without anyone to care for them. She couldn’t run from everything in the end, so with nowhere left to run she does her other favorite hobby which is sitting down and doing nothing while remembering her “good” days.

Since the things that remind him of his sorrows and guilt can’t fit in the room nor does he have to be reminded, the fifth inmate receives nothing and keeps to himself like always. If he needed a reminder of his life, all he will need to do is look at the scars and tattoos on his body. Even then, he might feel like he’d want to rip at his skin until all the reminders went away. Instead, he waits for his special visitor who will help him take away his pain. While he is still unaware of the letter, he still feels as if should be worried about something happening tomorrow.

The next day arrives faster than the inmates think with all of them feeling anxious. When checking the rooms, the guards are surprised at what they find. The first inmate’s outsides and insides cover every surface of the floor, walls, and ceiling similar to his victims. For the second inmate, she’s lost all of her insides including her skeleton and all that’s left is her oily skin. Inside the third inmate’s cell is an even more horrifying sight with the man’s crotch pulled out. It appears that he bled out in agony until he died. The way that the fourth inmate died is similar but might be even more disgusting. Various kinds of insects and vermin crawl out of her skin and body. From the looks of it, she was eaten from the inside while she was frozen in place.

Knowing how cruel and sinful the last inmate was, the guards brace themselves for what they might see. To their surprise, they find the fifth inmate how he always is with his hands folded in prayer. On closer inspection, the man they once feared appears to have a new face as he appears to be more like a gentle giant instead of a monster. Nothing changed about his appearance physically, but the eyes of the guards are picking up on something their minds aren’t. A Catholic priest enters the room in time for the man’s confession and last Eucharist.

While the man confesses his sins, the officers find the letter from the Undertaker of Sorrows in each of the five cells. Confused about the outcome, the officers go over the fifth inmate’s record. They go over his long list of crimes and wonder if the man is admitting to committing every sin imaginable. The only thing that indicates a change in him is him turning himself in. Again, something happened that they didn’t see.

On the day of his execution, spectators who thought they’d be happy were instead sad for some reason with some even crying. No one could put words to what they were feeling. Before and after he died, the inmate appears to be at peace with a soft smile on his face that no one imagined they would see. The smile almost looks as if belonged to someone else because of who it was on. And thus, another soul is saved from their sorrows as the Undertaker continues his quest to relieve people of their sorrows or of their lives.

The End

“Remember that it is not feeling of guilt that constitutes sin but the consent to sin. Only the free will is capable of good or evil. But when the will sighs under the trial of the tempter and does not will what is presented to it, there is not only no fault but there is virtue.” – St. Padre Pio

A Mother and Her Shattering Son

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Chapter 1 – A Colorful World Filled with War

A world filled with dolls and crystals sounds like a place of wonder and happiness, but this isn’t so of this world. The Crystallis, who are dolls that originate from the crystal, became so prideful of their beauty that they were corrupted by it. Because of this corruption, they attacked the Flos, who are dolls that originate from the beauty of the world. The Flos are skilled when it comes to reasoning and strategy, however, the Crystallis excel in brute strength. The Flos and Crystallis have fought their war to a standstill and are still fighting a brutal world war that has ravaged this once beautiful world.

In all the chaos, innocents are naturally caught in the crossfire. Rosalia’s son, Rhodes, had been caught in an area effect spell that cursed him with decay so that his body slowly falls apart. Rosalia’s husband sacrificed himself so that the two could survive. Several other family members were caught in this spell, but enough managed to survive to fend off the invasion of Crystallis. A cure for Rhodes would’ve been easier to get back in the time of peace, but the only place in the world that holds the cure is in the center of conflict where both sides are constantly fighting each other day in and out, which is the origin point of both dolls. If Rosalia can bring Rhodes to the healing springs, then he can be cured. Despite being told the near impossible odds by repeatedly her neighbors, she goes out in the hopes that she can make it in time.

Currently, Rhodes has been falling apart but is in a coma-like state where he is vaguely aware of what’s around him. Rosalia has been carrying him on her back as she traverses the crystal forests. Since the world is at war, the vegetation in the forest has become hostile to everything that isn’t them as well. Rosalia has used a spell to make her left arm into a dangerous claw for self-defense.  Her right leg and left heel have become deadly sharp tools as well.

As Rosalia makes her way through the forest, she says to her son, “I wish you could’ve seen this forest when it was friendly. It used to shine more and give out delicious fruit. Now, everything here is dangerous, so we have to be careful.”

Rhodes whimpers a bit.

“Oh, I know you’ve been upset about me sacrificing pieces of myself so you can live. It doesn’t bother me, see? Each piece of me helps you continue living. Your mom isn’t upset nor am I weakened by it. I don’t need another eye if I can’t see you smile another day. Besides, even if we are separated, you will always have a piece of me with you.”

Rhodes reaches out for his mother’s hands. Rosalia pulls him around so she can hold him.

“Don’t you worry, my little prince. We’ll get you cured then we can live happily together. You’ll go to school, become a man, and maybe even get married. I’ll have to approve of your choice, of course, but then again, I shouldn’t be saying about that given the person I chose.

Or should I be blaming your father for choosing me? Who am I kidding? It was both our faults. We got into a lot of trouble the two of us, but it was worth it so you could be born. I just wish his relatives could accept our love for each other.”

A chiming in the forest gets Rosalia’s attention. She puts Rhodes behind her and activates a shield spell that creates a shell to protect him. Rhodes senses the danger as well and holds his hands close to his face.

“You’re going to be safe, my little prince. Nothing will beat me when your life is at stake.”

Shadows dart from hiding place to hiding place in order to get a good opening to attack. Since Rosalia isn’t giving them any opportunities, the Crystallis hunters attack her with one combined attack. The three jump up in the air and plunge their blades towards her. She blocks their blades as her claw arm turns into a shield. Since their blades are so heavy, she lowers herself then dodges to the side and uses her leg blade. It stretches out and cuts the heart core of two of the hunters, which shatters them. The last one manages to block the attack but is hit into a living plant that breaks the hunter into pieces.

The violence has made the vegetation in the forest extremely aggressive. The trees start uprooting themselves and attacking Rosalia. She defends herself as best as she can by leaping around while cutting down the trees and fauna. Since the forest itself is a constantly growing, old, and large entity, Rosalia stands no chance against it. Fully exhausted, she holds Rhodes as he cries.

“It’s okay. It’s going to be okay, little prince.”

A sudden realization then comes to her head.

“If violence is what upsets the forest, then maybe love can calm it down. How about a song? I was going to sing to this you later to lull you to sleep, my little prince, but it looks like I’ll have to now.

 

I know when to take it slow

And when to run at the speed of light

I know when to be patient

And when to act without thinking

 

I know when to smile

And when to cry

I know when to think with my heart

And how to always love

But I don’t know how to love like you do

 

When you love for no other reason than to love

When you love for no other reason than to love

For the sake of love

 

I know how to love when I’m loved

But you love even when you’re hated

I know how to love when the sun is shining

But you love even when the storms roar

 

I know how to love when I’m happy

But you love even when you’re in pain

I know to love when everyone loves

But you love when no else loves

How do you do it

 

When you love for no other reason than to love

When you love for no other reason than to love

For the sake of love?

 

Teach me how to love when I’m hated

Teach me how to love in dark times

Teach me how to love when I’m cold

Please, my love. Please teach me, my love

Teach me how to love for the sake of love”

Rhodes laughs and waves his hands around as if trying to clap. The vegetation and fauna of the forest go back to where they come from and rest. Rosalia breathes a sigh of relief then kisses her son.

“Did you like it? I hope you did. Let’s hurry out of here before more hunters come.”

Rosalia casts a healing spell on herself as she quickly runs to the fastest way out of the forest.

 

Chapter 2 – Causalities and Captives

Once she’s walked for a long stretch, Rosalia finally makes it to civilization though it is a bit small. It is a small village town that appears to have been recently affected by the war as people repair their broken buildings and homes. Destroyed crops are being plucked out of the ground as new ones are planted. Pieces of dying dolls are passed onto their families so they can continue to carry their family’s legacy while the enemy dolls are put together then wrapped honorably. Before, the Flos used to send carts of Crystallis doll shells to the enemy as a sign of respect for their enemy, but the Crystallis destroyed most of the carts because the Crystallis view the hollow shells of their comrades as useless and valueless. During these recent times, the Flos just bury the shells of their enemies in their own special grave site away from the graves of the Flos.

One of the normal civilians says, “I don’t get it. Why do we need to respect the bodies of their dead when they don’t do the same for their own? I’ve heard horror stories of what they do to the bodies of our soldiers. We should burn them all in a fire because that’s where their souls end up anyway!”

“Don’t be so disrespectful. I’ve heard dozens of reports that say some of the Crystallis travel over to honor their dead,” a relative responds.

“It’s just their pride that makes them do this,” a villager says, “Besides, we shouldn’t be like the savages.”

“You’re right. We should take the Crystallis that come over and hold them for ransom!”

“Stop saying and thinking such things! You’re no different than them if you truly think this way.”

Rosalia approaches the hateful person and says, “He’s right you know. We should find ways to love our enemies and be respectful to their dead. Being as evil as the worst of them is only going to make things worse.”

“Hmph.”

The hateful person walks away while their relative walks with them.

“We don’t see many understanding people like you around here. What brings you to our recovering little town?”

“I’m just passing through. My own little town was recently attacked by the Crystallis and my baby boy here was affected by a terrible spell. I have to get him to the springs to have him cured.”

“That’s a dangerous journey, but I won’t stop you from taking it. Some of our city guards would accompany you along the way, but whoever we have left are guarding us as we repair our homes and I don’t think we can spare even one.”

“I understand. I pray that your town stays safe.”

“You’re a strong mother. What is your name?”

“Rosalia.”

“Rosalia…I’ve heard that name somewhere before. You don’t happen to famous, do you?”

“If I was, I wouldn’t look like this.”

“That makes sense. Rosalia must be just a memorable name then. Is there a reason why you still defend the Crystallis even though they just destroyed your home?”

“Because they’re dolls like us. Even though they come from the crystal, we were still made in the same place by the same creator. We may think differently, but we’re still related, and our lives are both equally beyond value.”

“I see. Well, I’m sorry for taking up so much of your time. You can take some of our healing fragments to give your boy a little more time.”

“Thank you so much.”

“Don’t mention it.”

After healing Rhodes a little, Rosalia says goodbye then leaves the town. She travels down the roads as they should be safer than the forest though not by much. There’s still a chance the Crystallis might come down the roads or the forest might come to life and reach out to crush her.

Rosalia says to Rhodes, “I’m glad the townsfolk didn’t recognize me. There would’ve been trouble if they did. Anyway, let me tell you more about your father since he won’t be able to tell you himself. He was a brave and proud man. He risked everything he had including his life to be with me since he was from a royal family. The way he loved people and nature was breathtaking. He loved being in love with everything and everyone so much that he wrote songs and poems about almost everything. It’s where I get my songs from.”

Ahead of Rosalia is an incoming band of Crystallis. They have a huge black bull under their control, which is a huge black beast with black horns, a white face, and red and black eyes in this world. It struggles against the control of its captors along with the other creatures that have been captured.

“Poor things,” she says to herself as she hides on the side of the road in a tree, “The raiding party is headed towards the town. They won’t be able to fight against the bull and the other creatures along with the Crystallis. I want to do something, but what am I going to do?”

Rosalia thinks of a couple of plans before deciding on one course of action. She throws two fire darts, conjured by a spell, at the chains that bind the bull to free it. Once it’s free, it puts the Crystallis into a panic. While the bull rampages about, Rosalia frees the rest of the creatures. Once she does, the black bull stares her down with its face in hers. Neither her nor Rhodes are intimated, and this silent show of courage gains Rosalia the respect of the bull and creatures.

A larger party of Crystallis that’s half the size of a legion then show up in the distance. This party was dragged ahead by the creatures, who were craving violence. Now that they’re free, they rage against their captors along with Rosalia. They destroy everything around them with the aid of the forest. Fauna and vegetation come to life as some of the creatures are shattered in battle. Despite the strength of the Crystallis, the numbers and overall strength of nature and Rosalia overwhelm them.

Once the dust settles, the forest closes in on Rosalia, but the black bull and leftover creatures silently pick up for her. The vegetation and fauna return to the forest and the creatures do the same. The black bull nuzzles Rosalia’s face and pets the top of Rhodes’ head, which makes him giggle. It then goes back into the forest while looking back at the two. It accidentally bumps into a large tree and gets slapped by it, which makes Rosalia laugh. The black bull then pays attention to where it’s going after one last look back with a smile.

Rhodes giggles again.

Rosalia continues on her way as she says, “See? Not all of nature is bad. Now, where was I? Oh yeah. Your father loved singing and making songs. Here’s one that I remember that he sang every other day.

 

I can’t be away from you any longer

But part of me still resists

I wish I was stronger

 

When we are together,

It feels like Heaven

When I leave you,

Part of me is left behind

 

You give my empty life meaning

I finally have a person who loves me back

You have woken me up from my foolishness

I know what I must do

 

Because I can’t be without you any longer

You are who keeps me going

You are who makes me stronger

 

I’ll endure all the hardships

Fight all the battles

And suffer the worst pain

Because I can’t be without you any longer

I am reinvigorated because of you

I am reborn into a new man ready to take on the world

Whatever you request, you will have

Whatever you command, I will obey

 

You say that you’re not worth it

That you’re not worth anything

But you’re worth more than you think

You’re my light that brightens up the darkness

 

You give my empty life meaning

I finally have a person who loves me back

You have woken me up from my foolishness

I know what I must do

Because I can’t be without you any longer

You are who keeps me going

You are who makes me stronger

 

I’ll endure all the hardships

Fight all the battles

And suffer the worst pain

Because I can’t be without you any longer

 

I will do all you want and more

My love for you knows no boundaries or obstacles

So,

Will you please be with me forever?”

 

Rosalia feels something watching her. She turns around to see the black bull watching her. It appears to have been attracted by her singing, but now it goes back into the forest as if it is embarrassed to be caught listening to her singing. Rosalia smiles at the creature’s cute nature despite its looks.

“Your father might as well have been a love bird for all the love he showed to others. He was more charitable and loving than his relatives to the point where people were wondering if he was an angel. I thought a person like him was beyond my reach, but when I showed how charitable I was when I gave away everything I had on me for a poor person he accidentally missed, he fell for me. Literally and figuratively speaking since he fell off his horse to kiss my hand. It was sad and funny at the same time, haha. I still can’t help but laugh when I remember it happening.

Still, your father did his best to impress me even though he did make a fool of himself a few times…okay, a lot of times. I felt like I didn’t deserve it especially since I couldn’t return anything on the same scale as him, but when I expressed my feelings about this, he said, ‘Don’t you worry. If you give me your love, then I will have something that is worth more than the entire universe’. I don’t know where he came up with his words, but he made me fall for him so many times because of them. Being without him is going to be difficult…”

Rhodes makes a whimpering sound.

“But don’t worry, we’ll make it through this. Your father is always with us in spirit now. Trust me.”

Rhodes giggles and Rosalia smiles as she wipes away her tears and continues traveling down the road.

 

 

 

 

Chapter 3 – Nature at its Worst

After a little while of walking, the road becomes lost as the surrounding environment is mostly destroyed with the flames of battle still burning.

“This must be where those Crystallis got their creatures,” Rosalia says to herself.

Because the Crystallis is known for violence and upsetting nature, both they and the Flos have developed their own spell that calms nature around them, so they can battle. This spell only covers the area of battle and takes a lot of energy to produce.

“This is probably why the Crystallis couldn’t produce another spell to protect themselves. Even if they could, the creatures of the forest weren’t giving them any opportunities to act anyways. You see, Rhodes? You have to respect nature otherwise it will turn on you.”

Further into the destruction, Rosalia finds a team of healers who are repairing the forest with their magic.

One of the forest healers approaches Rosalia and says, “Excuse me, miss. You should hurry along in a different direction. It only gets more dangerous from here.”

“I know that, but my baby boy has been afflicted with a spell that can only be healed at the springs.”

“That’s terrible, and you’ve been traveling on your own?”

“Yes, I have.”

“…I guess there’s no getting around it then. Lupin, send out a messenger bird to let them know this woman is coming with her child.”

“Alright.”

The doll conjures a dove made of light after speaking into his hand. The dove flies away in the direction of Rosalia’s destination.

“Thank you for your help,” Rosalia says.

“Don’t mention it. Just make sure that little one gets the healing he needs. I’m sure it’s been hard for you just getting this far. If the army near the springs can spare any troops, they should be meeting you halfway.”

Once they say their goodbyes, Rosalia keeps walking. The forest looks better as she journeys forward, but not by much. Crystal grass and foliage are growing at a fast rate because of the healing spell of the healers though it seems like something is wrong. The newly grown vegetation appears to know it was killed as it violently sways back and forth as if it wants to be reborn faster so it can obtain its revenge. Rosalia eventually meets up with a small group of Flos soldiers.

One of them says, “You’re the mother we’ve been looking for. It’s an honor to meet a woman who will risk her life and skin for her son.”

“Thank you for coming out to escort me. It’s been rough.”

“I can imagine. Let’s hurry along then. The fighting near the spring has calmed down for the past couple days so you should be able to bring your boy there with no trouble.”

The band of soldiers escorts Rosalia with her in the center to guard her against attacks from all possible directions.

A soldier asks her, “What’s your name?”

“Rosalia.”

“Hmmm. That name sounds familiar.”

“A guy in the town close to here said the same.”

“It’s a rare, but memorable name.”

“That’s because of a woman by the name of Rosalia was one of the reasons this war started,” another soldier interjects.

“Now I remember why that name is so memorable.”

Feeling awkward, Rosalia says, “But I’m not that Rosalia.”

“I wish I knew which Rosalia was that one so I could ask her what she was thinking. I’m not mad at her because I know that her action was only the straw that broke the camel’s back and nothing incredibly important on its own. Marriages between Flos and Crystallis aren’t as rare as they seem.”

“Still, she should’ve known better,” another soldier comments.

“It should’ve been a more private marriage.”

“How could it have been when she married royalty?”

“What happened to the husband anyway?”

“He was supposed to be hiding out with Rosalia, but I’ve heard that the Crystallis sent a group of its most powerful warriors to kill them and the word going around is that the husband is dead, but a number of people who were hiding out with him are alive including his wife and their child.”

Some of the soldiers start becoming suspicious of Rosalia and start looking at her funny.

She says, “But I’m not who you’re thinking about.”

A soldier says, “There’s no way this Rosalia is the one we’re thinking about. This Rosalia cares so much for her child while the other one was selfish. Do you really think that a peasant who wanted to marry royalty would risk her life this way?”

“That Rosalia is probably hiding herself with her husband’s riches ten feet under,” another soldier adds.

This relieves the tension in the group as Rosalia quietly breathes a sigh of relief.

“Hey, I don’t remember the forest being this big when we first passed through here.”

“Yeah, you’re right. Be on your guard.”

The soldiers unsheathe their weapons as they move slower while paying attention to everything in their surroundings. A large tree then falls on them to separate the group before fighting against the group to further separate them and push them into the incoming hordes of fauna and vegetation. The group gets separated further as the creatures of the forest break the group apart to make them easier to shatter.

The black bull from before comes to rescue Rosalia as it charges through swarms of creatures. It gives Rosalia enough room to breathe. Since the black bull is dangerous, the forest uses its connection to the creature to try to bring it under its control. The bull’s mental strength is weak, but it doesn’t give in to the forest’s influence, however, it can’t completely control itself, so it smashes everything around it in the hopes that Rosalia won’t be one of them. Unfortunately, Rosalia is hit while using the bull’s rampage as a chance to escape. She is hit into a tree but manages to get away from it before it can shatter her.

Rosalia is surrounded by fauna and vegetation while she is heavily injured. She is trying to heal herself, but she can’t do it fast enough to the point where she can run fast or leap into the air. The forest appears to be livid because it was burned and torn down. Singing looks like it won’t help this time, so she grips Rhodes and covers him as much as possible as a single fauna approaches her with its blade-like arm out ready to strike.

The anticipation of it kills her, so she brings her head up in time for the fauna’s blade to enter her missing eye. Since a doll’s shell is mostly empty with the only thing in it being its core, she feels no pain.

Rosalia says, “Shatter me, but spare my son. Please, save his life when I am dead.”

The fauna pulls back its blade again then brings its blade down on Rosalia’s neck but only makes a small crack on her neck. This supreme act of true love calms down the forest and it gives Rosalia respect that few dolls have. The creatures and fauna bow to her and let her walk away. Despite walking away with her life, she’s still injured and is slowing healing herself. Rhodes senses his mother’s injuries and cries for her.

“Don’t worry about me, my little prince. I’ll be fine.”

He continues to cry.

“Shhh.

Don’t be upset

I am here

Don’t be afraid

I’ll always be with you

 

Look at me and see my smile

I am telling the truth

You can always trust me

 

We’ll always be together

No matter the distance

No matter what happens

Even in death, even when I’m gone

We’ll always be together

 

Your weakness means nothing to me

You’re stronger than the tallest mountains

Braver than the mightiest heroes

No matter what happens, I will always love you

 

We’ll always be together

No matter the distance

No matter what happens

Even in death, even when I’m gone

We’ll always be together

 

I may not always be next to you

You may not always feel my presence

But our bond is permanent

Nothing can break it

I’m always here

I’m always with you

Forever and ever

Just look in your heart

And you will see me, always with you”

 

Rhodes has fallen asleep with a smile on his face. Rosalia smiles as well as she’s finally healed herself enough to numb the pain as she continues on to her destination.

 

 

 

 

Chapter 4 – Hunted for the Crime of Love

Rosalia’s healing magic allows her to be mostly healed, however, it and the previous battles have exhausted her. She collapses from exhaustion, but she makes sure to have Rhodes on top of her, so she doesn’t suffocate him. Sensing his mother’s unconscious state, he cries out for help and receives it not long after. Rosalia is taken to a relief camp where victims of this violent war are taken to be healed and to be helped. She awakens in a bed just in time to overhear a conversation between two Flos.

“She’s definitely the Rosalia who married that Crystallis prince. Several people have confirmed it.”

“But is she everything the rumors say she is? The soldiers that carried her here said that she’s been sacrificing her life to save her son and that she gained the respect of the forest. How rare is that? Even our best mystics can’t manage that.”

“We have to keep her here. Even though she has her sympathizers, there are still people who want her dead, shattered into pieces then throw into fire.”

“What about her son?”

“They don’t care as much for him. There are some that say Flos and Crystallis relationships and their children are illicit, but this is a mindset that has only popped up recently.”

“We need to get her to the springs, or her boy is going to die. How are we going to proceed with this?”

“We aren’t that far from the main army camp near that location.”

“That doesn’t mean it’s going to be easy going through the crowds then going through the dead lands to get to the springs.”

“We’ll have to do something and quickly. We’ve healed her son, but that doesn’t mean that we’ve given him time we can waste.”

“Excuse me? Can I see Rosalia?”

“Who are you? Are you a relative or a friend? Hey, you can’t go in until-hey!”

A loud knock on the window close to Rosalia startles her. When she looks over, she sees a Flos civilian with a weapon.

He breaks the window and says, “Die you cursed woman!”

Rosalia dodges the man’s attacks as he enters the room as she says, “I didn’t do anything to you!”

“You were the final nail that started this war! My family is dead because of you! They died in Crystallis territory. Who knows what those cursed dolls did to their remains?”

Rosalia tries to cut the arms off her assailant to incapacitate him, but she accidentally cuts his head off as well. The man swings around violently while screaming out in bloody vengeance. Something shakes the building she’s in until it breaks into her room. It’s the black bull from before.

“Aren’t you a sweetie for always coming to my aid?” Rosalia says while petting it, “Now, come on. Let’s get out of here!”

Rosalia takes Rhodes and put him on his back with his shield protecting him as she gets on the back of the black bull. Several Flos attempt to shatter Rosalia by throwing spears, hammers, and swords at her.

“Kill that woman, but don’t hit the baby!”

“Cut the legs off the black bull first!”

The Flos then try to take down the black bull, but their weapons bounce off its thick skin. They then get on horseback and chase after Rosalia. She knocks them off their horses as she protects herself and her child from her assailants. The black bull swipes at them to shatter several off their horses.

“We can’t do anything! Pull back!”

“You’re under arrest!”

Rosalia looks back to see a few guards arresting the people who were attacking her. A guard waves at her and she waves back as a sign of thanks. Even Rhodes waves back with a smile.

“Okay, big guy. We need to get to the springs. Can you get us there?” Rosalia asks the black bull.

It smiles and snorts in response as it goes faster.

“Woah! Easier there! We don’t really have anything keeping us on you.”

The black bull wants to be careful but can’t because it senses danger ahead of them, so it charges ahead faster.

“Be careful! Are you trying to knock us off? What’s got you riled up?”

A barrage of various kinds of magical arrows comes raining down upon Rosalia. The black bull covers Rosalia as it turns over on its side to take the arrow barrage. A group of Crystallis assassins then appear out of the shadows.

“It seems like she came to us on her own. That’s good,” one of them says.

The barrage of arrows has temporarily incapacitated the black bull, which leaves Rosalia open for attack. Fortunately for her, the forest is on her side and a tree’s vines block the assassins’ attacks. It then comes to life and shatters her attackers and uses its healing magic on the black bull.

“Thank you,” Rosalia says to the forest as she gets back on top of the black bull.

She rides off to her destination, which should be close now.

She then says, “You heard it, my little prince. You’re the son of royalty and a peasant. The son of a Flos and Crystallis. I didn’t think our love would be the final thing to push our people into war because our love was pure, but that’s what happens when people hate each other. They use every excuse they can find to kill the people they don’t like. Don’t be like that, my little prince. Learn to love everyone around you. It doesn’t matter if they hate you. Always wish the best for the people around you because if you aren’t willing to love them then who will? Everyone makes mistakes, so be willing to forgive them and you will always be forgiven.”

The black bull then senses something and charges ahead. It takes Rosalia and Rhodes to a cliff where they see a large battle between Flos and Crystallis soldiers. Dozens of dolls are shattered while others suffer in pain as they’re carried out by their companions and healers.

“This fighting has to stop.”

The forest heeds Rosalia’s plea and moves to stop the fighting. Unfortunately, the fighting and suffering make nature violent as it fights back against those who fight its restraints. Even the black bull is itching to join the fight, but Rosalia calms it down by calmly rubbing the back of its neck.

“The forest might be in a rage, but since I have its respect then a song could calm it down. This song is for, my little prince.

 

I close my eyes and see

A world that’s beautiful and filled with glee

Even in the dark and gloom

A place past all of the doom

 

Everyone has lost hope

They think I’ve lost my mind

But all they do is mope

Are they blind?

We can live in a better world of our dreams

 

Every day I push ahead

For the dreams in my head

The dreams that keep me awake

That keeps me going

To bring you a place to keep your love glowing

I’ll build you a place

That is perfect for your smiling face

Each part of it is made to make you happy

For those gloomy days

 

Everyone has lost hope

They think I’ve lost my mind

But all they do is mope

Are they blind?

We can live in a better world of our dreams

 

Every day I push ahead

For the dreams in my head

The dreams that keep me awake

That keeps me going

To bring you a place to keep your love glowing

 

No matter how small

No matter how tall the obstacle

I will be with you through it all

Nothing will be impossible for you and me

To make the world I see in my dreams

To make the world I see in my dreams

Every day I push ahead

For the dreams in my head

The dreams that keep me awake

That keeps me going

To bring you a place to keep your love glowing

 

Together we’ll make this world anew

Everything I do is for you

Know that our dreams will come true

Of The World I’ll Give To You

 

I am going to make sure you live in a better world, my little prince. A world of happiness, love, and peace. It’s going to happen one day. Just you wait and see.”

The forest successful restrains both armies and transfers its calming feelings to the soldiers who retreat with their wounded and shattered brethren. Some even help their enemies gather their bearings. As Rosalia smiles, parts of her son start to fall. A branch from the forest heals him, but his condition has worsened.

“Don’t worry now, my little prince. We’re almost there.”

The black bull sprints at full speed to the springs, where a massive battle larger than this one is about to take place.

 

 

 

Chapter 5 – A Mother’s Duty

Even before reaching the area around the springs, Rosalia knew she was going to have a tough time. The forest around the around is completely dead. It senses that Rosalia will need help, but it’s too weak to regrow anything and all the nearby fauna and creatures are still recovering. Broken siege weapons and the shattering pieces of soldiers litter the ground. The stench of death is pungent in the air and the sounds of despair and anger echo.

Ahead of Rosalia is a large Flos encampment that has been made into a miniature castle with a wall and various small guard towers around it. The fighting has gone on for so long that you wouldn’t be blamed for thinking this encampment was a small town for how large it is. There are other encampments like it around the springs, but this one is the command site and the largest. Rosalia heads into the camp once the guards recognize her.

A Flos commander meets up with her, and says, “You’ve come a long way through dangerous obstacles to come here, Rosalia. It’s impressive for a mother with a past such as yours.”

“I don’t think you want to cause me any trouble.”

“Oh no, we don’t harbor any feelings of hate towards you. We just want to get your son to the springs. I don’t even think what you did counts as a crime that we can punish.”

“Good. Do you have a plan? My son doesn’t have long.”

“Yes, but it’ll be messy. I think it’s best if you stay here.”

“I have my black bull and the forest can come to my aid. I can come with you.”

“Can’t you command your bull and the forest to protect us? Why do you have to come with us?”

“I’m a mother. I’m supposed to protect my child.”

“I see. Since it doesn’t look like I can change your mind, we’ll start moving out.” The commander then turns to his soldiers. “Come on, men! We don’t have much time!”

The forces of the Flos start deploying and put protection mages around Rosalia so they can form a shield to protect her. The other encampments deploy their forces to attack the Crystallis ahead of time to clear a path for her. Once they head out, they see the Crystallis army heading for them. Both armies converge on the springs in the middle of the battlefield as their siege weapons launch their barrages on both sides. The battlefield becomes a violent mess of soldiers as Rosalia makes her way to the springs. The shield protecting her is quickly destroyed and the mages who made them are taken out. Other Flos soldiers come to her aid, but they have to engage with the Crystallis in order to protect her and aren’t able to stay by her side.

A barrage of fireballs land near Rosalia, which knocks her off the black bull. The area around her is mostly clear and the springs are in sight, so she makes a run for it as the barrages continue to rain from the sky. The black bull sees that one of them is about to directly hit her, so it leaps out to protect her from it, but is shattered into pieces.

“Thank you,” Rosalia whispers as she runs with everything she’s got.

The springs are only steps away when an arrow barrage comes down upon her. Most of the arrows manage to hit her and pierce through her shield. The last arrows pierce through her core, but she manages to put Rhodes in the springs.

“I love you, my little prince,” she says as she shatters.

As Rhodes lays in the springs, his body not only heals but he is also transformed.

Crystal robes made for a king, eyes like the moon, hair as red as fire, and doll shell like the finest porcelain. Since Rosalia’s death, the forest has gone on a rampage. It breaks through both the Flos and Crystallis forces to the springs where it mourns her death for a few seconds before focusing its rage on the Crystallis army.

Rhodes then says to the forest, “No. Do not do this. Spare them. My mother wanted a world of peace and love, and that is what I will give to her.”

Seeing that the forest has trouble controlling itself, Rhodes begins to sing a song to calm it down. Rosalia and his father join him in spirit to strengthen his song.

 

“You might be weak

But you are also strong

You might be angry

But I’ve seen you happy

You might hate

But you can love

 

And because of this

 

You are everything to me

You are all I’ll ever need

Even when the world is falling apart

Even when life takes its toll

You will always be my everything

 

 All the wealth

All the diamonds in the world

Everything in the universe is nothing compared to you

 

Your value is limitless

Nothing is worth exchanging for you

If your life were in danger, I’d give my life so you could live

 

And because of this

 

You are everything to me

You are all I’ll ever need

Even when the world is falling apart

Even when life takes its toll

You will always be my everything

 

You are everything to me

You are all I’ll ever need

Even when the world is falling apart

Even when life takes its toll

You will always be my everything”

 

The forest calms down and releases energy that calms down everyone on the battlefield. The springs burst forth and showers the battlefield. There is no longer any hatred between the two armies. No one feels like fighting anymore and the two sides come together and apologize for what they’ve done and promise to stop fighting. The vegetation around the springs spring back to life as love being is spread. The springs themselves begin to spread throughout the world because of the sacrifice of Rosalia and shower the world with its calming waters.

Rhodes hears in his head his mother’s voice that says, “The war will end very soon. I told you that I would make sure that you would live in a world of peace, happiness, and love. I may not have expected it to be this way, but I know you’ll be happy and safe. Find the love of your life and don’t let them go.”

“I will. Thank you, mom.”

 

The End

The Disease Killing Me is You

Download the story for free on Smashwords – https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/938592

 

Chapter 1 – Infected with You

Ah! Where am I? I’m strapped to a bed in a dirty hospital room. There are flying roaches in the room that crawl around and come in through the holes in the walls. My head feels so light. I don’t remember what happened before I got here. I don’t remember much of anything in fact. What’s my name again? I think I see one of those papers that they use for patients over there on the wall near the door.

There are various sharp surgical instruments around me that are already bloody. I’m afraid to think about what they did to me if they already used it on me. I have to get out of here, now! I bite through the leather straps and manage to break them apart. I didn’t know my teeth were so strong, but they also feel weird when my lower teeth touch my upper. Once I’m free from the bed, I touch my teeth, and the bottom ones are sharper than my top ones. They’re so sharp that they feel like mini shark teeth. Did the people who took me here do this?

Where did my hair go and why is my skin is white? My body feels so ruff and looks weird. It’s so cold in here and these white patient pants. I have to find a way out of here fast before someone finds me, but first, my patient records. Hmm. The only thing on here is my name or…is this my name? My name is supposed to be, Bianco? I don’t have a last name it seems. There’s a page here for surgery plans and treatments done, but it just says that the basic surgery has already been done. Now I want to know more. What did they do to me?

I’m not sure if I want to stay to find out or just leave and have someone fix me. There’s no use staying in here, so I leave the room and find myself in a narrow hallway. The gurneys take up almost all the space when I walk past them. I’d hate to encounter something here. It’s like I’m walking in a closet. I see other people in other rooms, but they’re locked. The people in there are more restrained than I am with a muzzle on their face. It looks difficult to breathe in that. Maybe some of these people tried to escape and this is what happened to them. Now I really can’t afford to get caught. Wait…I hear someone calling!

It sounds like a girl. I go to the source of the sound and see a girl who is strapped to a bed. She looks like I do except with bandages covering her chest. There’s something familiar about her, but I can’t place my finger on why. She just seems like someone I know. Her room isn’t locked for some reason, so I instinctively go into the room and begin to unfree her.

“Thank you so much for freeing me!”

“You-”

“But now, you have to help me escape, and it’s not going to be in the way you think.”

She’s smiling at me in a weird way that I don’t like. She starts feeling my arms, chest, then face, which gives me a strange feeling. Part of me feels comfort while the other feels uncomfortable. Her hands are cold as if she doesn’t have any warmth in her body.

“What are you talking about?”

“We have to become one. I have to be a part of your body.”

“What? Why?”

“Because your body is the only pure one here. I know that everyone else here is infected and in need of treatment. There’s a system in place in this hospital that doesn’t allow unclean souls to leave here. I need to be a part of your body so I can leave.”

I push her away.

“You don’t need my body. I’ll help you find some other way to leave.”

“There is no other way.”

She’s climbing all over me now.

“Get off!”

I throw her off me and run out the door.

“You can’t escape from me!”

I run through the narrow hallway and try to find an exit, but every door is locked. The girl chasing me can climb on the walls, so the narrowness of the hallway benefits her. She touches me and grabs at me while I navigate the uncomfortable hallways while giggling.

“Such soft skin. Such a warm feeling. I must have you!”

“Stay away from me!”

I need something to defend myself with, so I run back to my room. Ack! She on my back again then crawls to my front and makes me collapse on the bed.

She says, “You are mine. Don’t deny it!”

“You don’t own me! Agh! Stop biting me!”

She’s bitten my neck and arms with her sharp teeth. They feel numb and weak now.

“Struggle again and I’ll impale your arms to the bed. Just relax. This will only take a minute.”

“What are you going to do?”

“We are going to be one.”

“No, stop!”

The girl then uses the syringe on her head to suck out what looks to be parts of her brain then injects it into the hole in my head. Her body then shrivels and fades into dust. My wounds are healed, and I don’t feel a scar or any residual pain from her bites. My head feels normal, so what happened? Did what she do fail? If it did, then it’s going to be a pain to get whatever blood or brain that she injected into my head.

Huh? What am I feeling now?

AHHHHHHH!

What was that screaming in my head?!

ARRRAAAGHHHHH!

The side and back of my body are expanding and changing. What’s going on?! It’s forming into that girl. So many thoughts and memories are pouring into my head. Are these hers? How is this even happening?

ARRRGGHH!!! Yes! Finally!

What did to me and how are our thoughts connected?

I’m part of you now, so we both can escape this asylum, but we have to be quick about it because the human body isn’t mean to be like this.

What do you mean?

Us being together like this will kill us if we don’t escape to safety.

That’s just great.

Don’t lie to yourself. There’s a part of you that wanted to save me. The memory as to why is hard to remember, but you know it’s there.

Why should I trust you?

You know all my thoughts. You know when I’m telling the truth and lying as I know yours. I know a little more than you do but not enough to give you a clear idea as to why we’re here.

My left arm is fused with your right arm and I can barely move it.

I think we can move it together if we both want it to. Let’s try it.

Woah!

It’s so strong that we punched a hole in the wall.

Wow. Can we do anything else?

I don’t have my legs. Let me have control of us. Come on, trust me. Here we go, we can climb the walls and ceiling when I’m in control, but I can’t control your legs to walk or run. It’s kind of weird but I think we can get used to it.

It’s just kind of weird? Do you even realize what’s happening?

What do you think or rather what do you think I think?

Don’t even phrase it like that. You just confuse me. Did someone just unlock and open a door in the hallway? I hear a dragging sound in the hallway.

There’s nowhere to run. We better be ready to fight.

I guess it’s our only option. Here it comes! It’s a person. A woman with a long body and long black hair with six arms and hands on the bottom of her surgeon’s dress.

Watch out. She has a surgical tool in each of her hands along with restraining chains.

She’s smiling at us for some reason. I think she’s giggling. What’s it with crazy people and giggling?

Hey! I’m not crazy.

“I’m so glad you managed to merge with Bianco, Bianca. The two of you were always inseparable, so it made sense that you would end up together like this.”

I said I’m not crazy.

Whatever, we’ll talk about it later. She’s talking to you. Say something.

“I get what you’re saying, but you knew I would merge with Bianco?”

“I told you how to and you told me you would do everything you could to do so. The determination in your face was so precious and cute. Your love for each other put my relationship to shame.”

“I barely remember you. Who are you?”

There’s something about her that’s familiar, but her appearance and my memory prevent me from remembering who she is.

“I’m Bianco’s mother. I know my appearance may shock you, but I had to do it to help you two continue living.”

She’s your mother? Your memories seem to want to think so.

I guess so.

“What’s going to happen to us now? Can you tell me everything about what’s going on?”

Hey, you used my mouth to talk, Bianco.

How did I do that? I guess I can if I imagine talking from your mouth.

“That’s interesting. My son’s voice came out of your mouth, Bianca. Does that mean that Bianco was talking, or did you manage to use his voice? There are so many things to test out on you.”

“What do you mean by that?”

“I’ll explain after the next surgery, but I’ll have to sedate you first. Give me your arm.”

“No! Explain everything to me first.”

“There’s no need to. You want to live longer, right? Then give me your body so we can mold it into that of an immortal being!”

“Stop! Get away from me!”

Let’s escape from her, Bianca. Hurry and crawl on the walls!

Okay!

“So you can crawl on walls? You two were always so athletic, but you better listen to your mother.”

Let’s get out of here! I keep throwing gurneys at her, but she keeps cutting through them.

What about the doors? Let’s rip one off then throw it at her.

Here we go.

“What strength just from one arm! You remind me of one of your favorite comic book heroes. I hope you’re not planning to use that on me, but then again, I’d love to experiment to see what my new body can do, so throw it at me if you want!”

“If you want it, then take it!”

She caught it and it pushed her back some, but she’s tearing it apart. Hurry through the exit!

I’m on it!

She’s really moving fast towards us now! Come on!

Shut the door on her and break the lock!

Right!

There we go. Now she can’t exit the door. This one appears to be stronger than the doors that held the other doors.

“I’ll get through this eventually and catch up to you two. That, or your father or your parents Bianca will get to you.”

Ignore her, Bianca. We must find a cure to our condition and a way out.

We can do it if we work together. Our memories are coming back to us now. We used to work together a lot. Do you think we can do it again?

You know what I think.

Then let’s do it.

 

 

 

Chapter 2 – Still Burning for Love

The rest of these corridors are just as cramped as the ones we came out of. It’s like this place is meant to be filled with obstacles to stop people from escaping. Some of these rooms have people in them.

Maybe we should free them?

I don’t think so, Bianca. We’d just attract more attention to us by our “parents”.

Why do you say it that way?

Because I’m still not sure if our parents are the ones after us.

We heard your mom speak. She may look different now, but her hair, face, and voice are what we remember them to be. We’re remembering now that our parents are experts in the medical field.

Yeah, I’m remembering that they were surgeons and doctors who were specialized in different fields.

Your mom said she wanted to make us into an immortal being. Why do you think that is?

I’m not sure, but we may find out later. Also, you’ve seemed to have gotten sane after merging with me.

Yeah, I don’t know what I was thinking before, but you have to admit that this is kind of cool. I know you’re in disbelief but isn’t this kind of what we’ve always wanted. The memories are coming back to me now of times when we would spend entire days by each other’s side.

I don’t think this is how we imagined our future would be at all. I’m sure you’re wondering what I am.

Can we ever be together again?

I don’t know. I barely remember what our life was like together. I don’t even know if you’ll go crazy like you did before.

I understand. I’ll try to prove that I’m in control now.

Speaking about control, do you see that up there past all the floors of cells? It looks like a person in the control room controlling everything like an orchestra. Is that-

My dad?

He looks like he’s noticed us. He’s speaking into a microphone.

“I’m so glad you too came here. Your friends and our family have been waiting for you.”

“Dad, what is going on?”

“This is all for your immortality. All of this.”

“What are you talking about dad? This isn’t making any sense.”

“I told you I’d do anything to make you live forever, Bianca. You probably don’t remember it, but it is every father’s duty to make sure that their child lives as long as happy as possible. The others and I are making sure that happens. If you want to learn more, please make your way to me. I’ll be happy to answer your questions.”

What do you think, Bianca? Is it a trap?

Maybe, but we won’t know until we get to him.

This sure seems like a trap. Do you see all the microphones and cameras around us? The cells around us are also open and close enough for the people in them to reach through, or can we call these people now? Look at how deformed and mutated and deformed their bodies are. They look like us.

We aren’t-

You know we are.

“As part of your gaining of immortality, I will have to bring my test subjects into the mix. Do not worry about being harmed. I can put you back together if anything bad happens.”

Was that supposed to make us comfortable? A few of the cell doors are opening. Be careful. There are people reaching out at us and there’s barely any room to move. Ah!

“Get off!”

Their cold hands drive chills up my spine.

“We must have your skin!”

“Help us leave by being one with us!”

“He’s mine! Hands off him!”

I’ll keep them away with our heavy hitting hand. Just try to stay away from them, Bianco.

Okay. It’s really tough to do so especially when they grab ahold of me.

Don’t worry about them. I won’t let them take you.

‘I’ll be yours forever.’

‘And I’ll be yours forever and ever.’

Did we just remember that? I wonder why we did now of all times.

Tense situations tend to make your mind work overtime is what I think my parents said once. Hurry and head up the stairs. I hear the cell doors opening.

Why does this place look so simple and yet, it’s like a maze?

I guess it’s because our parents want to test our abilities.

Well, screw that. You know what I’m thinking?

You don’t even need to ask.

Then let’s break through these walls! We’re taking a shortcut.

Get out of the way! Or get a face full of our fist!

There we go. We’re almost to your dad.

“That was an impressive display of power you two. A bit messy and unexpected, but these are great results. Your combined strength is amazing, and you have good coordination. I guess we should’ve expected this considering how in tune you two were previously.”

We’re here. The door is solid, but we can force it open.

“Dad!”

“Hello, Bianca and Bianco. I’m glad you made it here. The others you saw weren’t able to coordinate with each other like how you can despite how much testing they were put through. So, a personal bond is what affects coordination, huh?”

Is he really writing notes on this?

Dad always liked keeping track of interesting things. It’s no wonder why he’s in charge of so many cells with different kinds of people in them.

“Oh! I’m sorry. Now, you wanted to know more, right?”

“Of course we do! What the heck is going on?”

“Ah! Your voices combined when you shared a major concern. I’ll have to write that down later. Anyway, we, your parents, have used this old asylum as our secret experimental facility to help you two live forever together. We couldn’t bear to lose another life in our line of work. In reality, doctors don’t save lives, they just extend them. Everyone eventually dies, and we didn’t want that to happen to you two, who were always so energetic and full of joy, so the four of us have done this all for you.”

That explains a bit more, but not enough.

“Why did you have to involve other people in this?”

“Because we needed test subjects before we experimented on you. Who knows what could happen on our first attempt? First, we kidnapped people close to us then we took our neighbors, then whoever is in the area of this asylum. You don’t have to worry about them. Once you’re perfected, they will share in your gift and so shall we.”

Ah! We’re caught in chains. How did my mom sneak up on us?

“The test you put them through was decent, Rosso, but I don’t think they’ll need anymore. I need to make sure their decay lessens or stops entirely.”

“You worry too much, Violet. We can always bring them back.”

“We thought that about so many of our patients, but how many have we actually saved besides our kids? There’s no such thing as worrying too much when it comes to preserving life.”

We have to escape while they’re busy talking to each other. These chains are so tight. I barely have enough room to move. If we could only have enough room to make our strong arm break the chains. Huh? Do you hear that?

Look! It’s the other people!

I’m not sure if this’ll be a good thing or bad, but it definitely feels bad.

They’re loosening the chains. We have to put up with it for a bit-Whoa!

“Stay away from my children!”

“Be careful with them, Violet!”

Does my mom really need to fling me around to keep me away from these people?!

No, this helps way more! We can move our arm!

Come on, keep breaking the chains! There we go!

Run!

“Get them, Rosso, while I keep these subjects away!”

“No, let’s see what the other tests can show us.”

“This is our children we’re talking about! Get them!”

“Fine.”

Hurry, he’s after us! Your dad has way more arms than my mom does, but are those robotic arms? He’s controlling the cells with them-Watch out!

Give me control! That was close!

I think he’s controlling these traps with his arms too.

I’ll need to control things from here.

Okay, I trust you.

These traps are everywhere. On the walls, floors, and ceiling.

It’s a good thing you’re so quick on your feet and arms then. There’s an exit over there! Watch out!

I’m not that quick it seems. I should’ve known that there would be a trap at the exit.

“You’re amazing as always, Bianca. I know it was you controlling both of you because I know that athleticism anywhere.”

“Fix us, dad, or let us go.”

“I will fix you, my loves. I’ll cure you of your mortality.”

“What you’re doing is wrong! You have to stop.”

“I’ve told you before. I’ll do anything to see you happy. Death brings only sadness and grief. I’m making sure that death never has its effect on you. I promise.”

‘Your sun is always going to shine.’

‘I’m going to make sure you’re never going to suffer.’

‘My love for you conquers death.’

Our parents always did tell us things like that.

“I love you, dad, but I’m not going to let you do what you want.”

This trap is easier than it looks to break. Why isn’t dad chasing after us?

Remember he said he wanted to see what the other tests can show them?

There’s going to be more awful sights like the ones we just saw then. I don’t know if I can take it.

It’s going to be fine because I’m with you, Bianca. I promise you that we’ll make it through this one way or another.

Thank you. I needed that.

I know you did, and I didn’t need to read your thoughts to know.

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter 3 – Fractured by Desire

I don’t think it helps to remember what could happen next, Bianca.

I can’t help it. This place has messed up my head.

Our parents have messed up our head. I still can’t believe they would do this.

What are we going to do if we manage to escape?

We’ll figure it out when we leave.

Can we even get back to normal? Our parents are the ones who put us together like this, and we doubt they know how to put us back together. I bet they won’t even try to put things back to normal.

You never know. We may change their mind.

It’s only a slim chance.

We thought there was no chance that something like this would ever happen to us especially by our parents. Maybe we could bring them to their senses. Part of their conscience has to realize that they’re doing the wrong thing.

I hope you’re right because I’m starting to lose it, and what I’m seeing isn’t helping.

This looks like where they do experiments on people.

Look at all those things in the vats. Are those even people? I can’t tell.

I’m sure we’re going to find out soon enough. Did you hear that noise? It sounds like one of the vats opened. Something’s moving around in the dark.

If only we only had night vision.

It’s fine. We have each other. All we need to do is be careful-

Watch out! Got it!

See? We can do this, Bianca. More vats are opening.

It’s so dark here. Is it just darker in this area or did someone dim the lights?

Knowing doesn’t matter. Just concentrate. There!

I got’em! I didn’t realize I could see out of your eyes if I concentrate.

I didn’t notice you did that. This is good. We can make it through this. More vats are being open. It sounds like way more mutants are coming for us than we can handle.

I’ll climb up so we can avoid them. We can crawl across the ceiling to avoid fighting completely. The only problem is that we don’t know where we’re going or if they can climb onto the ceiling.

Don’t worry about it. Just stay calm. Right. Here we go. Which direction should I go in, Bianco?

Keep going straight like I was. We have to be near some kind of exit.

I can hear them clanging on the metal bars.

We got this. We just have to be extra athletic and switch control. Here we go.

Ahhh! You barely caught the metal bar with your feet.

It was close but at least we avoided the attacks and got rid of a few. Here we go again.

Okay, okay. I’m ready now! Get back down there!

Catch the bar!

I got it!

Great job! I think I see a vent over there. We need to swing a few times to get to it. If we can get to it, we can escape.

Let’s do this.

One.

Two.

Three! We made it! Hurry! They’re coming in! Break the vent. Let’s bend the metal. There we go. We’re safe. AHHH! Stupid things won’t give up! Get off!

They’re stronger than they look if they can punch through the vent. They must be big jumpers too. Ah! There’s too many of them!

Can I stop getting grabbed at for once?!

I don’t blame them.

Not now! We have to find a way to get out of this mosh pit and back to the ceiling.

“Let us touch your warm body!”

“Give us your warmth!”

“Let us bond like you!”

“We want that bond!”

“Give us your touch!”

Agh! What is that loud screeching sound?

It’s driving away the mutants. It must be one of our parents making the sound. It stopped. The mutants are keeping a distance.

“I’m sorry that I tested you like how Rosso did, but I couldn’t resist.”

“Dad?”

Bianco, your dad looks like those mutants with those boils on his skin and the deformed way his face and body look.

“Remember when we used to mix different building blocks together to make our own creations, Bianco? Those were fun times.”

“We can have those times again if you put everyone back to normal and stop these experiments.”

“I can’t. We can’t. We’ve done so much. It’s too late to go back.”

“It’s never too late to go back, dad.”

“There is a point when it’s too late. Do you see all these people we experimented on? The authorities aren’t going to go easy on us. At least we learned a few valuable lessons. The bond between two people of the same sex isn’t the same between the bond lovers such as yourselves.”

“Please stop this! Take responsibility for what you’ve done. Look at how much suffering you are causing.”

“I…I don’t know if I can.”

“Ple-”

Why are we puking now?

I don’t know. I feel so weak.

Bianco…

Don’t feel scared. I’m still here with you.

“Bianco…Bianca…I’m sorry.”

“Please, dad…help us…”

“I’ll…try.”

Are you sure we can trust him? He’s injecting us with something. It could knock us out or worse.

I trust him. He’s my dad.

“Okay, that should slow down the decaying process, but I have to do something else to fix you. I just don’t know what.”

“Nero!”

Did you hear that?

It’s my mom.

“Violet…”

“I knew you would get them, Nero. Hurry, let’s bring them the main experimentation lab before they die.”

“Isn’t there any way to put them back to normal?”

“What are you saying? There isn’t going back to normal for them. Why would you want that? Being normal only brings death and suffering.”

“But we’ve done worse despite being abnormal.”

“We’re going to fix them and everyone we’ve experimented on.”

“How many people have we hurt because of these experiments? Hundreds? How many people have we disposed of? Thousands?”

“We’ll bring them back to life.”

“A human body is more than flesh and bone.”

“So, you’re just going let them die?!”

“I don’t know what I’m doing, and I don’t know if it’s the best thing to do, but it’s the best option that seems presently right.”

Your dad has a heck of a kick to kick us across the room like this. He’s fighting your mom and the mutants with that noise to aid him. I’m not sure how long he can last.

We have to help him somehow…Here! Let’s break this pipe and throw it at the vat near them. It should give my dad room to escape.

Okay!

“Watch out, dad!”

We hit the vat and it looks like we broke it. All of its liquids spill out onto the crowd. I hope dad is okay.

I’m sure he’ll be fine, but I’m not sure about us. Let’s keep moving.

Right.

But where do we go next? We can’t be fixed, and the only other option is to die. You can’t tell me to not worry about this! What do we do?!

We try to convince our parents the right thing to do one last time. If we can’t do that…do you really want to make others suffer so we can live longer? It’s not like we’re guaranteed immortality.

…You’re right. I’m sorry, but I don’t know if I can handle this.

You’re not handling this alone. I’m with you and I’ll always be with you because I love you, Bianca.

Bianco…I love you too.

I promised you once and I’ll promise you again. We’ll make it through this one way or another, but no matter what happens, I’ll always be with you and I’ll always love you. I am yours forever.

And I am yours forever and ever.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter 4 – So Far Gone with You Even in the Afterglow

We have to be close to some kind of exit. We’ve done nothing but pass by empty examination rooms and cell rooms.

Do you think that our parents are going to be waiting at the exit?

They have to be. They must know our condition by now. Are you still afraid?

No, not anymore. Are you?

Not at all. I never was.

You’re such a liar. I know your thoughts and feelings.

But you don’t know my deeper thoughts. I may feel scared and my imagination may be going off but that doesn’t mean I’ve let my fears affect me.

Yeah, yeah.

You know I’m telling the truth.

I know. It’s just that…we don’t have long.

You don’t have to remind me. I can feel my strength fading away by the second, but we don’t need to worry about it for much longer.

I know we’re physically bonded, but can you hold my hand?

I will.

Thank you.

I think that might be the exit over there.

It looks like one even though it’s messy with decaying furniture, desks, and chairs.

Even though no one’s around, this might be a trap.

You’re right, but what can we do about it now?

Nothing. We can only spring it then deal with it from there.

Nice plan.

Don’t even try to be sarcastic when I know what you’re really thinking.

Okay…let’s go. Come on. I can’t move without you.

…right.

There they are! They stepped out of the shadows as soon as we stepped into the room.

What happened to your mom and dad, Bianco? Look at them.

It looks like the chemicals in the vats fused them together.

“We must thank you for fusing us together, Bianco. We’re more in tune with each other like this than before with twice the arms and brains.”

“This isn’t what I wanted. This isn’t what we wanted to happen.”

“Why don’t you see that we’re trying to help you? Look at everything we did. We’ve risked everything we are so you could live forever.”

“Everyone who lives eventually dies. It doesn’t matter how much you try to fight it. It’s an inevitability. Besides, you get to live forever after this life anyway, and I’m afraid of where you might end up.”

“You don’t know what you’re talking about!”

The floor beneath us was a trap?

I’ve given up on expecting anything.

This place is dark like the experimental room with a low glow that barely lights it up. What’s going to happen? Ah! What kind of liquid did we get drenched in-AAHHHHAHHAH!!

“Now, you will truly become one. Please know that your mother knows best, Bianca.”

We’re one body now. Bianca, are you still here? Wha…urgh…what’s going on? We’re just one singular body now. What? How? It was something that your mom did to us that mutated us to be in one body. Oh wow. Why is your body the one we have to live in? Woman was made of the ribs of a man. Psh. Whatever. What’s going to happen now?

“This is amazing. They fused so quickly.”

“You did well, Verde. Let us fix their form before they start to decay again.”

I’m going to need your help again to climb out of here, Bianca. Wow, I feel so much more in control, but I can already feel this form begin to decay. We have more power, but we decay faster. Makes sense.

“Stop them!”

Look at how many people are coming after us. We have to bring this place down around us in order to have any chance at escape. We can throw the vats at the ceiling above us to collapse it. It’s going to hurt and everyone else may die, but it’s something we have to do in order to end this mad science experiment. I understand. They may be fast, but they can’t react as fast as we can.

Rah! There we go. Another couple of vats should bring the whole ceiling down. Here goes another one! Ah! They’re on us! That can’t stop us in our new body. There are so many pilling up on us…I don’t…no. We can do this! Rah!! Brace for impact…Is it over? Huh? The ceiling collapsed on us, but we barely felt anything-! We’re throwing up again. We have to quickly escape before our parents get us. Urk…

We have to dig our way out. Come on. We’re almost out of here. Ah! Mom…dad…

“Stay…Bianco and Bianca. We can-fix you.”

“Nothing was wrong with us to begin with.”

“Wait, you can’t leave…you’ll die…”

“It’s better than staying here. We hope you come to regret what you’ve done.”

“No…stop…”

Keeping going. We’re almost out of the rubble. Okay. Just one more push. Help me climb up this wall, Bianca. I got it. Do you think our parents are going to regret their actions? This place has thrown so many surprises at us that I don’t doubt it. Finally. The way out. The air smells different. Better than I remember it. That’s probably because we were stuck in a smelly place. Probably.

I don’t think we can go very far. I know. Let’s go underneath that tree. Okay. It is a beautiful day to look at the sky. Well…there goes our legs. Now our arms. At least we made it to the tree before losing them. I have you with me, so that’s all that matters. I love you. I love you too.

Bianco?

What is it?

Are we really going to be together forever?

I knew it was a fact even before now. I told you we would escape one way or another.

You’re right. I knew you would be, and I knew that I am yours forever.

And I am yours forever and ever.

The End

Summation: A Choice and Consequence Finale – Albert Oon’s 90th book

Download the story for free on Smashwords – https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/931257

Phase 0 – A New Beginning, Chapter 1 – Out of Hell then Back In

Michael is just a normal boy by any standard, but he of all boys is kidnapped by the Doll Factory, a secret organization notorious for turning people into sellable sex slaves. He is picked up at the request of a special client who wants him. Everything that he has on him is taken away except for his special cross, which he swallows. The kidnappers try to beat it out of him, but the special object never comes out. They give up and just deliver him to their client. She’s a woman who likes boys like Michael. The woman sexually abuses the boy while also dressing him up like a girl every now and then. Even though the boy never gives in to lust, he is heavily abused for a week until the woman gives up.

She gives Michael to her husband who’s had his eyes on the boy from the beginning. Her husband arranges a satanic marriage between him and Michael and dresses him in the finest black dress he could find. On the day of the wedding, the boy’s psyche goes off, which afflicts everyone in the building. Everything then catches fire and Michael is the only one who makes it out. His clothes are torn, and his mind is fractured from his experiences, and yet, he persists and walks to the nearest place that he might find rest, Hillside City, a city notorious for crazy and off-beat people. It might be the perfect place for him. It just might be the right place for me.

This kind of reminds me of home. I wish I was at home. Wait, is this the place where I’m from? The places look so similar to each other. I think my home is in that direction past the skyscrapers and the city center. It’s going to be a long walk, but I think I can do it. Where am I now anyway? It doesn’t seem like a clean place. There are weird clubs around here. I think they’re strip clubs. I always heard the north part of my city was bad. Now I see why.

There are two guys standing outside one of the clubs talking to one another. They don’t seem to be nice people, but I can use all the help I can get.

“Ex-excuse me,” I say to them.

They look at me funny before one of them says, “You look like you’ve been through a lot. Do you need any help?”

“Ah, yes! I need help going home. My head is a little fuzzy and I don’t remember the name of the street I live on, but I can tell you how to get there.”

“Why don’t you come in and rest for a bit? You’re obviously tired.”

I don’t like the smile on their faces.

“Umm. No thank you. On second thought, I think I can get there on my own.”

“Are you sure? It’s a dangerous journey there.”

“Thank you, but I can manage.”

I quickly cross the street. When I cross, it feels like an arm reaches for me. I look back at the men to see them smiling still though their grins are larger. I know a rapist when I see one or at least I should by now. There’s another club not too far from this one. This one has two women standing outside of it. They appear to know what happened judging by faces.

“Do you need help little boy?” one of them says.

“No, thank you.”

“We could help you if you’d like. We don’t bite.”

These women are just like those men. I can tell so I walk away from them. When I look behind me, I see them coming after me. I run away from them and then a car honks next to me.

“Get in, Michael!” I hear a familiar voice calling from the car.

Without anywhere else to go and my legs running out of energy, I run into the car to see a friend of mine from school in the passenger seat with her father driving the car.

“Where have you been, Michael? You’ve been missing for days,” she says.

“It’s a long story-uh.”

Wait, a minute. Why would she care about me? I barely even remember her name. Angel something is maybe it. Why would she even be out here? She’s smiling at me now and I can see her father smiling too. Before I can react, she puts a napkin in my face and…

“AAAHHHHHH!!!!”

“Don’t cry or scream, Michael. You’re safe now.”

“Ahhh…I…where…ahhhh…”

“You’re mine now. Get comfortable while I go out for a while.”

She…she cut off my arms and legs. I…I’m in her room with hooks where my limbs used to be. I’m just hanging like meat in a grindhouse. This is just like how it was when I was that woman’s pet. I have to get out of here. I don’t want to die like this. Come on! With whatever strength I have, I pull my stubs out of the hooks and fall to the ground.

“You can still do it!”

Dad?

“You’re not weak, you’re my son! Now get up and keep going!”

Okay, dad. The door’s right there. Someone opened it. Agh! Someone stepped my head into the ground. Woah! I have my hands and legs back! Agh! What happened? Oh, it’s time to get up for school! I’ve got to hurry up and get ready. I quickly grab a few snacks to eat along the way.

“Bye, mom! Bye, dad! Bye, grandma!”

That’s weird. They’re oddly silent today. What’s even weirder are the people on the street. Cars seem to be aiming for me and people are looking at me as if they hate me. It’s the same in school. The teachers don’t even call on me when I raise my hand. They even yell at me when I do the smallest thing. I guess everyone is just in a bad mood today. I can’t wait to see my friends and my girlfriend. They always make my day bright. There they are now!

“Hey, guys!” I say to them while waving my hand.

They shrug me off and don’t pay attention. Is something going on that I don’t know about? Am I being insensitive to something? Did I do something bad? Does my breath smell? Whatever is, it lasts for the rest of the school day. I apologize to my friends and whoever I talk to, but nothing seems to reach anyone. Maybe something will happen tonight. There’s an event on Market Street with games, sales, and performances there. The happy atmosphere and events should make up for the miserable day.

Or maybe not. Everyone in the city seems to dislike me. I swear they’re trying to bump into me with the way they’re walking. My girlfriend should be around here somewhere…she’s dancing with another guy. They’re getting really touchy-and they kissed for the finale.

“Okay, what’s going on here?” I say as I approach them.

“It’s over between us, Michael. I found a better man.”

“What are you talking about? Where did this come from?”

“You know where. I don’t accept men who look like women and get treated like slaves.”

“What? How do you know about that? What’s going on here? Am I dreaming?”

Everyone’s laughing at me.

“Stop it!”

Why are they throwing things at me? I have to get out of here. Ah, damn it. I just slipped and fell into some mud. Now all of my clothes are dirty. Why is this happening to me? Oh…that’s right.

“Why did you fail?! You’re an idiot if you do this poorly!”

“Are you slow? Why didn’t you see this? It’s right here.”

“Why don’t you do as well as your classmates? They accomplish so much more than you do.”

“Ungrateful child.”

“You’re slow and weak. Can’t you do anything right?”

“Why do you always mess this up? Why can’t you do this right?”

“Don’t be so lazy!”

“You’re making us look bad!”

I remember my parents saying things like this. They might’ve rarely hit me, but they always degraded me with their words. I felt like trash every single time I did something wrong.

“You’re so stupid.”

“I didn’t tell you anything because I didn’t trust you with it. You have a habit of messing things up.”

“Who fails at that?”

“You’re so weak.”

“You’re not good enough.”

“I don’t want to be with you.”

I remember my friends and my girlfriend saying things like this. My friends abandoned me during the summer because they had better people to be with. Even my girlfriend cheated on me with another boy. I tried everything I could to make people like me. Dressed nice, got the best comics and games, was up to date on the latest jokes, showed my appreciation to them by giving them gifts, and going out of my way to help them. I guess nothing worked. The constant criticisms and insults banged my head every single time I made a single mistake. They kept beating my head into the ground as if I committed a sin, I could never do enough penance for. Whenever I looked into a mirror, I saw someone I didn’t want to be. An ugly disgusting failure of a son and friend. Maybe I don’t want to go back home. Maybe I’d rather go to Hillside City. Huh? Oh!

I never stepped foot into the city yet. I’ve been looking at from the hills. Maybe I can make a life for myself here. It’s better than going back home. Even if I do go back, I’ll just get beat over the head again with damning words from people who say they care about me. I’d rather be homeless and die of starvation and thirst than to hear another lie out of their mouths. The city doesn’t look at bad as I imagined. Since there’s no place for me to go, I might as well just lay in this alleyway for now.

“Ah! Hey, you startled me there, puppy!”

Okay, it’s not actually a puppy. He’s more like a full-grown dog, but I still like calling them puppies. I pet him and he doesn’t seem to mind it. In fact, he likes me. He licks my hands and rubs up against me. He seemed to be looking through the garbage here for food, but it seems like he cleared out whatever was in here. The only thing I find is half of a blue stuffed elephant. It’s stuffing spills out as I hold it up, so I quickly hold it from the bottom. This is kind of like one of the elephants I had back home. I’ll keep it. Maybe it’ll make a person feel more sympathy for me. It’s also kind of cute. It reminds me of myself.

My entire body hurts after what I went through, so I sit and rest with my two new friends. This may not be the best start to a new life for me, but at least it’s better than my last one.

 

 

Chapter 2 – Sinner or Saint

I’ve just woken up and I already want to go back to the life I had. I smell, look like trash, and feel like trash. That dog that rested with me left while I was sleeping. That’s fine. I’m not able to take care of him anyway let alone myself. He took that elephant I had to. What am I going to do? Where am I going to find help? Maybe I could go to a nearby church? It’s the only thing I can think of right now.

There are people walking through the streets with me. Some of them give me a weird look, and I don’t blame them, but I wish they could help me in some way. I wish I wasn’t so alone.

“You’re not alone!” a squeaky voice says beside me.

“What?”

I look down to see the elephant I have before. He’s dragging himself across the ground with an endless trail of fluff behind him. I must be going crazy.

“No, you aren’t. You are quite sane.”

I am going crazy. This elephant can hear my thoughts.

“That doesn’t mean you’re crazy.”

Yes, it does. Why are you even following me?

“Because you’re alone and you need help.”

How are you going to help me?

“By being with you!”

That’s not going to help. I need someplace to stay, something to eat, and real people to be with.

“I’m real!”

Stay away from me.

“But I want to be with you.”

I said stay away!

I punt the elephant away from me. Now a lot of the people around me must think I’m crazy. The elephant was probably invisible to them. I put my head down and quickly hide. Where am I even going? I don’t know where anything is in this city.

“That was fun! Do it again!”

How did you get back here? Don’t answer that. I know you’re not real.

“Stop saying that! That’s mean!”

“Why can’t I get him?”

A little girl is complaining to her father as to why she can’t get the same I have that’s in the window. Trust me, kid. You don’t want him.

“Hey! You wanted me when you were younger. You still have me back in your room. When you wake up, you see me sitting on your night table.”

I don’t want to see you.

“What do you mean you don’t want to see me?”

“You held onto me when you were scared at night.”

I don’t do that anymore, mom.

“Don’t you want any help?”

I don’t need your help, dad.

“Is anything wrong?”

Nothing’s wrong, Lance.

“Do you need someone to talk to?”

No, Angel.

Just stay away from me! I push away everyone that’s crowding around me.

“We just want to know what’s wrong.”

“Are you crying?”

“Tell me what’s happening.”

“Are you okay?”

Get away from me! You don’t get to talk to me anymore! Not after what you did. I’m warning you!

I start breaking apart the shadows of the people I knew with my fists and kicks. I then rip them apart as I start getting more and angrier until I see the elephant.

“You can’t always rely on everyone to be consistent and good towards you, not even yourself. You have to forgive them if you want to be forgiven,” it says.

“Excuse me, do you need any help?”

“Shut up!”

I turn around and punch someone into the wall. When my vision clears…oh no…it’s that girl from before and she’s holding that elephant she wanted. She’s out cold.

“I…I’m sorry! I didn’t mean to…”

“Rebecca, where are you?”

The girl’s father turns into the alley to see me standing over his knocked out daughter. I don’t know what to say, so I back away slowly with my hands out.

“What are you and what did you do to my daughter?”

“I’m sorry!”

I run away into the dark alley, jump over the fence, and back into the streets where I scare everyone.

“What is that?”

“Is that a demon?”

“A monster?”

“No…I’m not…”

My presence alone shatters some people into pieces and burns others to ashes. I can’t go anywhere without causing someone pain. Everyone starts running away from me. Am I the reason why no one wanted to be around me? Am I evil? Do I do anything right?

“Why did you have to break that Michael?”

“I didn’t like it!”

Do I love anyone? Am I just a monster?

“What did I do to you?”

“What didn’t you do to me?”

Have I shown people that I love them? Do I just take advantage of them?

“Michael, what’s wrong with you?”

“Nothing! Leave me alone!”

I don’t know anymore. I don’t know if I deserve this or not. Wait. I think I do. I remember that woman who abducting me telling me how she found me. I was looking up porn on the internet and she managed to find me. Apparently, I caught her attention and then she hired the Doll Factory to abduct me. For a time, I was her plaything. Part of me resisted. The other part of me loved it especially because I kind of have a thing for older women, but that’s beside the point. It felt like I was getting what I deserved. I guess I got what I wanted. I got what I deserved.

“Excuse me, do you need help?”

Huh? It’s that little girl again. It looks like what happened was all just in my head. Again.

“Stay away from me. I don’t deserve help.”

“Of course you do. You’re a person just like me.”

“I’m worse than you think. Just look at me.”

“I don’t care what you look like. I want to help you.” The girl looks at her elephant. “Do you want my elephant?”

“What? I thought you really wanted that.”

“You look like you need it more. You’re starting to cry, so you must really need it then.”

“N-no. You can keep it.”

I leave the alley as the girl’s father calls to her. Maybe I don’t deserve this fate, but maybe I do. I’ve been such a horrible person to the people I’ve known that it would be better if they forgot about me or if I died in these streets. The pain I could cause them in the future is something I want to completely avoid. I don’t care anymore if they wronged me in any way, in fact, I wish I forgot about every single bad thing they did to me. I just hope they do the same.

 

 

 

Chapter 3 – Deliverance from Rot

How long have I been walking to nowhere already? I’ve been searching for a place to help me, but I don’t know which place to go into. I’m not sure if I can enter anywhere looking like this. If only someone would just take me off the streets and give me somewhere to start. It doesn’t matter if they take me in as their own. I just want someplace to call home for a little. I want someone to care for me, but I’m not sure if I deserve that.

We’re all sinners and I’m just as hypocritical as everyone else in the world, but somehow, I might be worse.

“No, you aren’t.”

Oh, you’re back, little elephant.

“That’s me!”

Why do you keep following me?

“Because you need a friend!”

I need a human friend with me, not a little elephant.

“I’m sorry, but I’ll have to do for now. Why do you hate yourself so much?”

Because I hurt people that I care about.

“Everyone’s done that. You even said it yourself that you’re just as hypocritical as everyone else in the world. No one is perfect. What separates the good from the bad people is who makes up for what they did and who doesn’t.”

I can’t make up for what I did besides never seeing the people I know, so I can’t hurt them anymore.

“Is running away from your mistakes really the way to fix them?”

I don’t know. I’m not strong enough to do anything.

“You’re stronger than you think. Remember when you were with that woman? What was her name again?”

“Mrs. Serenity, here is the boy you requested.”

There was one day that she forced me to dress up in a French maid outfit for her viewing pleasure as she sat by her pool. Her servant had brought me out after I dressed.

“Thank you. Do you like the outfit I got for you, Michael? I picked it out myself.”

“It’s too tight and showy.”

“That’s just how I like it. You know you’ve been defying me ever since I brought you here. Why is that? I’ve fed you, given you drinks, a nice place to stay, and of course the woman of your dreams.”

“My wants are more than my fetishes.”

“Your internet history says differently. I watched you for a while before taking you in. You know you’re not the only child I’ve given this opportunity to. Do you see that river down the hill? Dozens of bodies have floated down that river only to be eaten by my piranhas. You’re going to be another if you make the wrong decision.”

Serenity points a pistol at me.

“You have two choices. Forever confess your love and willingly have sex with me or die here and never be heard from again.”

“I’d rather you kill me than be your pathetic sex slave.”

I’m afraid, but I’m not going to let this woman use me like a toy.

“I’ll give you three seconds to reconsider. One…Two…”

I closed my eyes.

“Three…”

Nothing happened. No gunshot. Nothing. I was thinking she would pull the trigger when I open my eyes, but she doesn’t. Instead, she smiles.

“That’s my boy. You’re more of a man than my husband is. Most kids usually got for the gun or get shot when they approach me, but you’re different. You’re the one I’ve been waiting for. For that, you get your reward.”

I don’t want to remember what happened after that. There was another day when had me by her side all day.

“You’ve been extra bad to me these past couple days. Even though I like my girls bad and my boys worse, you’ve been starting to get on my nerves. Why won’t you submit to me?”

“Kidnapping, beatings, rape, just to name a few.”

“You’ll learn to submit to me. My husband will see to that.”

Her husband comes closer and tries to beat me like always when she can’t. Of all the times this has happened, this hasn’t happened in a place where I could use sharp knives to defend myself. I don’t care if her butlers shoot me. I just want justice for all the lives she’s taken and the things she’s done to me. By the time the fight was almost done, I put five or so knives in her husband. I take the last butcher’s knife and hold it above his head.

“Stop, Michael. You don’t want to do this.” Serenity points her pistol at me while the other butlers were doing the same. “We’ll shoot your arms and legs then kill you. Painfully. Do you really want that?”

“I’m willing to die to avenge the people you killed. I don’t care what happens after.”

I scream as I plunge the knife down, but it’s quickly shot out of my hand. It was Serenity that did it.

“Thank goodness I didn’t shoot your precious hand.”

I don’t like the look on her face. She looks hornier than usual.

“I knew you were manlier than my husband. You’re going to get extra special treatment. Right now!”

The butlers tie my hands and feet together then threw me upstairs onto her bed. That was the longest time I endure her abuse. It was for at least for the entire afternoon until the early morning hours. I had to rest for the entire next day so I could recover. Huh? What’s happening now?

I’m dressed up in a white short wedding dress. I thought I was dressed in black? Here Serenity comes. She’s doing my hair while my makeup is already on. The first few times this happened I got my face beaten in. Now, I just let it happen so I have the energy to resist in some other way. This is weird, I can barely move by myself. I’m moving automatically as if I’m possessed.

Serenity says close to my ear, “Today’s our big day.”

No, I’m not.

“I’m excited.”

Why are my lips moving by themselves? I thought I was going to get married to her husband. He still had a thing for me even though I almost killed him. I’m not sure if Serenity or he was sicker.

“Let’s make it our most memorable day, shall we?”

Serenity puts some kind of white choker on my neck. Stop kissing me there! Why aren’t I reacting to it? My body’s leaning into her instead. Stop! I don’t want this! Huh? We’re already at the satanic church? Why does it look so white in here? Did I dream about going to Hillside City? What is going on here?

“Do you, Michael, take Serenity to be your wife, now until the day you die?”

I plead the fifth.

“I do.”

No, I don’t!

“You may kiss your wife.”

Stop! Don’t! Damn it! What’s going on now? I’m at the wedding party now? I’m dancing like an idiot who’s trying to be a stripper right now. Wait, why did someone pull up a chair for me to sit on? Why is Serenity going under-Hey! Get your mouth off that! Why is everyone laughing and cheering? You’re all a bunch of sickos! Hey, don’t take away my underwear! I barely had anything to cover me, to begin with.

What? We’re back home now. She’s carrying me back inside to the bedroom. No! I’m not going to do this! I’m not going to be her new husband! I’m not going to father her children! Stop! Huh? What’s going on now?

We’re trapped in a glass coffin together. Serenity is on top of me with her hands all over me while I’m facing down. I can’t move at all. This better be all in my head, but is it really? It’s just so much. Huh? Is that the elephant?

“Do you see? You’re resistant to her. You’re stronger than you think. You’re also willing to be the instrument of revenge for the other kids who were wronged at the cost of your life. Without resisting until the end, those people couldn’t have all been executed at once.”

Tell me, if you somehow know, who started that fire in the satanic church?

“God did and your guardian angel was His instrument.”

Haha, my guardian angel. Right. Where was he when I was being abused during all that time?

“Patiently but sorrowfully waiting for you to endure it all. He’s still with you and happy that you made it through that ordeal.”

Right. You might want to help me more if something like this ever happens again. I’m not mad at you. I’m just…whatever. So, what happens now?

“Let go of the past.”

What? Argh! Serenity puts her hands in my chest and her hands are on my heart. The glass coffin shatters beneath us, so I’m finally free from it.

“Give into me, Michael. We could be so happy together.”

I’m not going to burn in Hell with you.

I take the glass shards scattered around me and stab them into Serenity until she lets me go. When she does, I turn around to see her for what she truly is. Her skin is completely white now. She has black and red eyes, with an eye on her breast and belly button, and a mouth on her other breast and crotch. She’s basically what I imagined her to always be. I take the pieces of shattered glass and stab her in her new mutated areas then stab her in the throat. She holds onto me as she fades into a puddle of blood.

“I’m not done with you yet.”

Yes, you are.

After I blink my eye a few times, I see that I’m kneeling in the rain. I’m still in Hillside City and it’s nighttime right now. I feel a bit freer, but…it could be worse. There’s a girl about my age looking at me right now in these empty streets. She probably thinks I’m another weirdo. I think I recognize her.

She comes up to me and asks, “Michael, is that you?”

“Uh. My name is Michael, but who are you?”

“I’m Alexa. Remember? I moved here a couple of months ago with my family. You…look like you’ve been through a lot. Do you want to come over my house to get cleaned up?”

“Yeah. I’d like that.”

Alexa smiles as she leads me to her house. This could be a new start for me. Even though the past is still tugging at me, I’m going to move forward into a bright new day.

 

End of Phase 0

 

Phase 1 – Revitalization, Chapter 4 – So I Thought you were Gone

Alexa takes me to her house, and I explain my situation to Alexa and her parents while eating leftover dinner. They’re speechless and don’t know what to say for a solid minute of awkward silence.

“I’ll call my parents now, so they can pick me up as soon as possible. I’m sorry to surprise you like this and put so much on you at once,” I say to break the silence.

Alexa says, “No, no, no! It’s no trouble for us. Here. Call your parents.”

I try calling my parents, but they don’t pick up. That’s strange. The time difference between here and my home shouldn’t be that different. In fact, they should be awake and getting ready for work by now. I leave a message and give them a call later. I tell Alexa and her parents what I did, and they think the same.

A thought comes to me and I say, “I wonder if the Doll Factory got to them. I know that they’re experts in cleaning up the messes they start.”

“Don’t think like that, Michael! I’m sure they’re fine. Just hold out hope until you know for sure.”

“Okay.”

Alexa’s father says, “I can’t believe the Doll Factory is still alive after all these years. I remember my father fighting against them when they were in the city. It was really a group effort to get rid of them when the city knew they were here. We’ll take care of you for as long as you need, Michael. Don’t worry about how much time you spend here. You deserve it.”

“Thank you so much,” I say as I bow my head.

“I’m going to make some calls to investigate the remains of that ‘church’ you were at. In the meantime, you should get cleaned and changed out of those rags. Alexa, find Michael some of my old clothes to wear. I’m sure he’ll fit into them.”

“Okay.”

Alexa finds me a black tee shirt, a red buttoned up shirt, and a pair of black shorts for me to wear. After taking a shower, I change into this outfit and…I look the same still. Did I always have a black and red eye? Where did the clothes go? I don’t even feel them on me. No matter how many times I wash my face, it remains the same. What’s going on?

“Is something the matter buddy?” my reflection says to me.

AHH! What are you?

“I’m you or rather the other you. It’s nice to meet you.”

“Are you okay, Michael?” Alexa says with a knock at the door.

“Don’t keep the lady waiting.”

I hesitantly open the door with an uneasy smile. Alexa looks at me then smiles.

“You look good.”

“Oh, I do?”

“Of course you do. I did pick out the best outfit for you, didn’t I?”

“Y-yeah. You did! Thank you.”

“You’re welcome. You can sleep in the extra room we have. It’s for friends who sleep over. There’s a pair of PJs there too if you want. The outfits a little dorky because of my father’s taste. My mom has been trying to get rid of those PJs for a while.”

“Thank you again, really.”

“Well, have a good night, and…Michael?”

“Yeah?”

“I’m glad to finally see you again despite the circumstances. It’s been too long.”

She hugs me. I’m starting to remember more about her. I hug her back.

“I’m happy to see you again too.”

Alexa smiles then goes to her bed. Inside my temporary bedroom, I find the pair of PJs that Alexa told me about. They are definitely dorky. The design on them is that of a familiar horror series that I remember with bloody rabbits on them. I like them, so I wear them. It doesn’t take me long to fall asleep, but when I do, I see the other me again. This time he looks like the normal me, but he’s naked with a large black scar mark on his body that looks like a weird version of the symbol for a boy.

“She’s a cute girl, isn’t she?”

She is. Why?

“I know your precious feelings for her. I know your previous memories of her before you even remember.”

What’s your point?

“I’m just giving you a little heads up. Don’t do anything you’ll regret.”

What am I going to do?

“Hopefully you’ll reconnect. Maybe you’ll even make her your girlfriend. Do you remember your time with her yet?”

Give me a second. It’s kind of blurry since it was a while ago, and obviously, a lot has happened since then.

“It’ll all come back to you soon. I’ll be sticking with you the entire way.”

You’re me so how can you not?

“Good point. It’s time to wake up-”

“- for breakfast!” Alexa says while shaking me.

“I’m up!”

“Come on. My mom made pancakes for us.”

“Sounds great.”

I go downstairs and have a nice breakfast with Alexa’s family.

“Hey, Michael! I see you have good taste,” Alexa’s father says as he notices what I’m wearing.

“Oh. Yeah, I like games that these rabbits are from.”

Even though they see that I’m wearing a different outfit, I still see that I’m wearing that torn black wedding dress. I don’t understand this. I hope this changes soon.

Alexa’s mom says, “You can take it with you when you leave. I was going to get rid of it anyway.”

“Hey, that is a rare and top quality set of PJs. It is probably worth a month’s paycheck by now.”

“It’s not worth the muck on a dirty penny.”

After finishing, her dad says, “Alright, I’ll be going to the car shop. Take care while we’re at work you two.”

Alexa and I tell her parents that we’ll be fine as they leave. They left their plates near the sink. I’m guessing that Alexa helps around the house while her parents are away. I’ll help.

“You don’t need to do anything, Michael. You’re a guest in this house while you rest after what happened to you.”

“Alright, I guess, but I can help.”

“Oh, hush. Just relax.”

“Okay.”

I wish I could help in some way and show my thanks. Maybe I can come up with something or get my parents to give them some kind of compensation. Alexa and I almost look like a married couple like this. All she needs is…

My other me says in my head, “Hey, stop imagining her in a naked apron!”

I’m not doing that!

“Are you okay, honey?”

“What?”

“Are you okay, Michael?”

“Yeah. I’m fine. I just want to show my appreciation to you and your family.”

“That’s sweet of you, but you shouldn’t worry about it too much.”

“So, are you still in school? Are you on summer break yet?”

“Yeah. School just ended last week. I got some things upstairs I want to show you. Come on.”

“Woah there, stop imagining those things,” The other me says.

I’m not doing it myself!

We go upstairs to her room. It is filled with various certificates for awards in school and sports. There are also figures from various TV shows along with an actual TV in her room. No gaming system though, which sucks. Alexa looks through her drawers and pulls out a game. I think I see something in the drawer that I recognize. Could that be?

“What’s this for?” I ask.

“I borrowed it from you a while ago. I thought it was only right that I’d give it back.”

“Right…”

I can’t get my eyes off the red letter in the drawer. Alexa seems to have noticed and moves over to hide it.

“Don’t you still want it?”

“I didn’t mind that you kept it then I forgot about it…”

“Well, you can bring keep it. I don’t play video games that much anymore.”

I move my head to see the red letter, which makes Alexa sigh and take it out. Yep. It’s what I remembered it to be.

“You remember this letter?” Alexa asks.

“I do. I gave it to you one day in front of everyone during recess. I got laughed at a lot, but you took it anyway and gave me a kiss.”

“I did.”

“Aww. You two are blushing,” the other me points out.

Shut it.

“So, why do you keep it?”

“To remember you by. I still read it every now and then to cheer me up.”

“Oh, I’m surprised my writing cheers you up. You can probably tell I was scared while writing it.”

“What do you mean you were scared? What you did was brave, and it showed on your face and in your writing.”

“It did-ah, I hope it did!”

“Haha, well uh. Do you want to go out for a bit? You do still exercise and play sports, right?”

“I do, but I haven’t been doing as much since you left.”

“Then I better get you back into shape today.”

“Oh boy.”

After getting changed and some waters, we go outside and for some reason, we’re back to the way we looked as kids. At least I’m not wearing that stupid dress anymore.

“Come on, Michael! Keep up!”

“I’m trying to Alexa! You’re way too fast for me!”

“That’s right! I can run faster than a car!”

We’re running through a forest near a park now. I think we used to make our little camp here all the time.

“Do you want to try climbing the trees?” Alexa asks me.

“I’m going to try.”

I climb up the tree and make it to one of the heavy branches.

“Come on, Alexa. You’re more athletic than me.”

“I can do it. Just watch me!”

Alexa struggles to climb up the tree.

“Ah!”

“I got you!”

I catch her arm and pull her up to the branch I’m on.

“You saved me! You’re my hero!”

She gives me a hug.

“You’re welcome.”

As I look at her face, she gets older and I see that we’re sitting on a park bench. My appearance is back to normal. Is she sleeping? She’s smiling while holding onto me. Did we really do a lot?

“Alexa?”

“Huh? Oh. I’m sorry.”

“No, I don’t mind.”

“You rested and ready to have more fun?”

“Give me a sec-Ah!”

She squirts me in the face with some of her water with a giggle. When I open my eyes, I see that we’re at the shore.

“Come on, Michael! Let’s push against the waves!”

“I’m coming!”

We splash up against the waves until we see a huge wave coming.

I pull Alexa towards it while saying, “We can beat it!”

“Haha, are you crazy?”

“You aren’t going to beat us you big stupid wave! Ahhh!”

The huge wave throws us back to shore with us on top of each other. After coughing up water, we laugh at what happened. As I blink my eyes, I see that I’m sleeping over her house. Not her house in the present, but her house from the past. We’re reading old comics and acting them out. Every time we hear a noise we stop so that Alexa’s parents don’t suspect us of staying up late.

“And then the bad guy broke down the wall and-”

“Captured the two kids!” Alexa’s dad says as he picks us up and spins us around.

We laugh as he spins us around the room then plops us down on our beds.

“Come on, kids. I can’t keep spinning you around. You’re going to make me hurl one day and it’s going to be on both of you.”

We both say ewww while giggling at the thought for some reason.

“Now, come on and go to bed.”

As I agree to go to bed, I see that I’m sitting at the dinner table with Alexa and her parents.

Alexa smiles at me and asks, “What are you thinking about?”

“Huh? Oh, nothing. I was just remembering the times that your dad used to spin us around to tire us out to go to bed.”

“Hahaha. I remember that too,” Alexa’s mom says.

“Well, I hope you’re not thinking that I’ll do that again. You are older now and-”

“-Alexa has to go. We can’t stay here anymore I’m afraid.”

This is the day Alexa left town. She came to my house to say goodbye. I watch her in silence as if I’m trying to keep her there with my stare.

“We’re going back to our home in Hillside City. I love the community and everyone here, but we can’t afford to be here anymore.”

My dad says, “We understand. Right, Michael?”

I can’t get my eyes off Alexa and she can’t take hers off mine. My hands want to reach out to her and keep her here, but I’m too afraid and sad to do anything.

“Okay, well. I know you’re going to be fine without us. We’ll be keeping you in our prayers. Say goodbye, Alexa.”

“Good-goodbye,” she struggles to say.

No…don’t leave.

We go by the door to see them off, but when they begin to drive away, I bolt out the door.

“Alexa!”

I chase their car for a little while before her dad stops the car. It looks like he’s letting her say her last goodbye and that’s what she does. We cry and embrace without the want to let go. Her dad gets us to separate. I don’t remember what he was saying, but I begin to chase the car once they go farther away. They don’t stop this time and drive off into the distance.

I don’t hold any grudges towards Alexa’s family. I understand why they had to move, but I wasn’t the same after that. I stopped exercising and caring about school and other things in general. After a month, I started watching porn to fill a hole in my chest that was still gaping open. I don’t know why I did that, but it was the wrong decision or was it the right? I’m finally here with Alexa again.

“Are you okay, Michael?” Alexa asks.

“Ye-yeah. I’m just tired because of all the fun we had today. I haven’t had this much fun in a while.”

“I’m glad you had fun. Oh, dad, did Michael’s parents call you back yet?”

“They haven’t. I’ve been checking every now and then and I called a couple times today. Are you sure this is their right number, Michael?”

I look at the number again, and say, “Yeah, it is.”

“Okay, well I’m going to call my contacts in the police department and see if they can get officers to check your house. Don’t worry about them until we hear back from them, okay?”

“Okay.”

Part of me doesn’t want to go home. I’d honestly rather stay here forever.

After finishing up dinner, I go to bed and sleep with a smile on my face for the first time in a while. I can’t wait to see what we’ll do tomorrow.

 

 

Chapter 5 – Juliet, Are you with me?

Did I set an alarm before I went to bed? Oh, it’s time to get up for school! I’ve got to hurry up and get ready. I quickly grab a few snacks to eat along the way.

“Bye, stepmom! Bye, stepdad!”

That’s weird. They’re oddly silent today. What’s even weirder are the people on the street. Cars seem to be aiming for me and people are looking at me as if they hate me. It’s the same in school. The teachers don’t even call on me when I raise my hand. They even yell at me when I do the smallest thing. I guess everyone is just in a bad mood today. I can’t wait to see my friends and my girlfri-…I remember this dream. It’s happening again. Why did I forget Alexa’s name and call her Angel?

“You’re like an angel when the sun shines on you, Alexa,” a memory reminds me.

“How cheesy,” the other me comments.

Oh, that’s right. Angel was her nickname I sometimes called her. I know it’s cheesy, but she liked it, however, the Alexa that is coming my way isn’t an angel. She’s a demon.

“Alexa! How are you doing?”

“Fine, without you.”

“No, you aren’t Alexa! You aren’t my angel.”

“What are you going to do about it? You wouldn’t hurt your little angel, would you?”

“No, but you aren’t her.”

Something inside me says rip off her face and the face of the two who are pretending to be my friend, and that’s what I do. I tear the faces off these pretenders. More start coming after me with the faces of my family and other friends. How dare they have the faces of the people I love! I tear off all their faces then scream out loud only to wake up moments later with a feeling of relief. Hopefully, that’s the last I’ll see of that dream.

“I wonder what Alexa’s reaction to you doing that would be.”

Please, I don’t want to think about it.

“But you did that for her honor and the honor of the other people you love.”

It doesn’t matter anymore. Let’s just forget about it.

I get up from my bed and walk out of the room as Alexa comes to the door.

“Up already?”

“Yeah. All of that exercise yesterday must’ve given me a lot of energy.”

“That’s great! Does that mean you’re ready for another day of it then?”

“With you, I’m ready for anything.”

“I’m glad to hear that.”

After eating a nice breakfast, we head out for sports and exercise.

While out, I ask Alexa, “So, how have you been? You didn’t tell me yesterday.”

“Sorry, I guess I was just having too much fun. It felt like all that time we spent apart didn’t happen.”

“It was the best day in a while for me.”

“Anyways, I’ve been doing okay. I’m doing good in school and sports like always even though I haven’t gotten any new awards. I’ve made some new friends here too though I’m not best friends with anybody and just talk to them in school and that’s it. It’s nothing like back at my other home.”

That’s good. It means she didn’t find a boyfriend here.

“What if she did? Would you be happy for her?” the other me asks.

Shut up.

“You want her all to yourself, don’t you?”

“How have you been, Michael?”

“Less than perfect let’s say.”

“Outside of what happened to you.”

“…I…was fine.”

“Are you sure? I remember the day I left. You wouldn’t stop chasing after me when I drove away. I remember crying as much as you.”

“You did? Because I never really got over it-uh! I mean…uh…”

Dang it. I didn’t mean to say that.

“Don’t worry about it. I didn’t really either even though it may seem like it.”

“You didn’t need to let it bother you.”

“I could say the same for you. Oh. You didn’t tell me how that lady, Serenity, found you.”

“She found me on through the internet while she was looking for another kid to kidnap.”

“That’s terrible that it had to be you, but then again, we’re together again because of what happened.”

“I guess you could call it an act of God if you wanted to.”

“Yeah. I’d like to think it is. It’s a shame that we’ll have to separate again when your parents come to get you.”

“I almost wish they don’t.”

“But you have to go back home, Michael. We can still talk across the phone and our webcam.”

“But it’s not the same.”

It’s why I never really picked up the phone or answered her calls. I thought it was over when she left me.

“I guess that’s why you never answered my calls. You know we can meet up again once we become adults.”

“But how long is that going to be? How do you know that something won’t happen between us that won’t separate us for good?”

“It depends how much you trust me, and judging by your attitude, it seems like you don’t trust me that much.”

We stop what we’re doing.

“That’s not it. I’m just not sure of the future.”

“Then how am I going to restore your faith in me?”

“You…tell me, we’re still together.”

“Huh? I thought we broke up.”

“I jumped the gun then because I thought I would never see you again. I acted impulsively without thinking and I’m sorry. My life without you is misery. Can you please forgive me?”

Please say yes, please say yes!

“…Maybe. You’ll have to prove that you still love me.”

“What do you want me to do? I’ll do anything.”

“You’re going to have to answer my calls and send me a letter like the one you wrote before once a month.”

“I’ll do it!”

“Then I accept your apology.”

I hug Alexa and she hugs me back. I want to give her a kiss, but she pushes my lips back with her finger.

“Uh, uh! I have to get a letter first before you get one.”

What a tease. Haha.

The other me says, “So, you got her back with no trouble. What were you worrying about all this time?”

I don’t know. I guess I was just that scared, but I should’ve known better. My angel wouldn’t abandon me.

Once we’re tired of our fun and games, we go back home and relax for a bit. We watch TV in the nice air-conditioned house. She’s already fallen asleep on me, which has to be one of the best parts of the day. I soon fall asleep as well and start to dream of me stopping by her house one day.

“Michael!” Alexa says in her beautiful velvety red dress, “It’s been years since we last saw each other.”

“I know, but we’ll never be separated again,” I get on one knee and say, “Will you marry me?”

“Ah! I do!”

“Are you ready to go? Do you need to take anything with you?”

“As long as I’m with you, I have everything I need.”

We get into my car and drive away, but as we’re driving away. People from the pavement start clawing at the car as if they’re trying to stop it and tear us out of it.

Get them away from us!

“I’m just a passenger in this ride,” the other me says, “Not the driver.”

The road keeps getting narrower and narrower because of the crowds of people until we hit a large pole in the center of the road. I wake up to see a car crash in the movie that we were watching. Alexa is still asleep-is she seriously drooling on me? I’m not sure whether to think this is gross or cute. Oh. Someone’s unlocking the door. It must be her parents. I wake her up so we can get up and greet them. They don’t appear to be very happy.

After saying hello, I ask, “Did something go wrong at work?”

Alexa’s mom shakes her head then looks at Alexa’s dad. He says, “No, nothing went wrong at work for either of us, but…the police couldn’t find your parents at your house. They searched the place and only found bloodstains and signs of a struggle. They’re suspecting the worst-case scenario given what I told them about the group that kidnapped you, but they are searching for them.”

Alexa’s mom and dad hold me then Alexa herself joins in to say sorry to me.

“You’re going to have to stay with us, not that we mind at all,” Alexa’s dad says, “You’ve already been part of the family ever since you and Alexa met. We’re glad to have you with us.”

“Thank you.”

Alexa, her dad, and I go to sit down as her mom makes dinner.

As we’re eating dinner, Alexa’s dad notices something, and says, “Are you okay, Michael?”

I don’t know why, but I don’t feel that bad about losing my family. Alexa’s dad must’ve noticed the smile that’s on my face.

“Yeah, I’m doing fine,” I say as I look at Alexa.

Her dad has always been perceptive. He looks back and forth at us, smiles then says, “Are you two back together?”

“We are,” I say with a little hesitation.

“That’s great!”

“When am I going to get grandchildren?” Alexa’s mom asks.

“Mom!”

We laugh a bit then tell her parents why we got back together. In bed, I rest more relaxed and at ease than any other night that I can think of. Even though my parents have disappeared, my life has taken a turn for the better.

 

 

 

 

Chapter 6 – My Drive and Passion

Today’s going to be another great day. I can feel it. After the normal morning breakfast, Alexa and I clean the house together while making small talk as we play music we used to listen to. It’s a fun little time, but we get pretty dirty after cleaning, so we take showers after. She takes a shower first, as I wait around. I think she forgot her change of clothes since she left it on her bed or does she change in her room? She takes a shower before I wake up, so I don’t know. Oh, she’s coming out now.

Alexa looks so beautiful with her hair down.

“What?” she says with a little giggle.

“Nothing.”

“Ah!”

Her towel slips a little to reveal a little skin. Did she do that on purpose? That blushing smile on her face seems to suggest so.

“Or it could just be your imagination,” the other me suggests.

She says, “You can’t look at me while I’m naked even though we’re in a relationship, so you better watch where you’re looking.”

“I can’t help it if my eyes look at the most beautiful lady in the world. It’s a bad habit of mine.”

Alexa laughs a little and gives me a little tap on my face before going into her room to change. After my shower, I get ready and we go out for another day of fun. We do a bunch of exercises before going back home for lunch. Alexa gets the idea to feed me my food as she puts it in my face. I do the same for her as we feed each other.

“How romantic,” the other me says in a mocking tone.

It is. Don’t be jealous, me.

Once our rest is done, we head over to a part of the city where there are trees.

Alexa says that she wants to, “Do what we did in the old days. I should still be able to climb these trees especially they aren’t as big as the ones back home. You should go first.”

“Alright. I got this.”

I climb the tree with little hesitation and mistakes even though I haven’t done this in a while.

“See? I can still do it.”

“Showoff. Here I go!”

Alexa climbs the tree but slips near the top. I catch her and help her up to the branch I’m on.

“Just like old times, right?”

“Agh, shut up.”

Besides that little incident, Alexa and I sit in the tree with my arms around her. We enjoy each other’s company as the sun sets. She then gives me a kiss on the cheek.

“That was for all the times you saved me from falling and not just when we climbed trees,” she says as she rests her face closer to mine.

“Don’t get too excited,” the other me says.

How can I not with how the past few days have been going? She’s obviously trying to tell me something.

“Wait for marriage.”

I know-

“Take her,” a strange distorted version of my voice says.

What?

“She’s yours. She wants you to embrace her. Take her into your arms and complete your bond together.”

“Don’t listen to that voice, Michael! Control yourse-”

What?

“Control y-”

I think the other me said to control myself. My head is getting really fussy for some reason. It’s getting dark right now too, so I wake up Alexa and we descend down the tree to go back home. We hold hands on the way back, and my head’s starting to hurt now. It feels like a dozen hands are squeezing it, and a dozen voices are whispering in my head.

“Do it.”

“Make her yours.”

“Subjugate her.”

“She wants you to.”

“You deserve each other.”

“Her mom did say she wants grandkids.”

“Listen to your heart.”

What’s happening to my head?

“I’m not done with you yet.”

Maybe some rest will make me feel better. When dinner is done, I go straight to bed. I say some extra prayers to get the voices and feelings to go away. Alexa enters the room and gives me a kiss on my head.

“Good night. I love you,” she says.

“I love you too.”

That didn’t help.

“Now’s your chance.”

“That was her signal.”

“Go for it.”

I wrestle with myself for a while as my head starts to sweat until I manage to fall asleep.

“I’m not done with you yet.”

The nightmare version of Serenity jumps out at me in the darkness, which wakes me up. She takes my hand and leads me to Alexa’s room and disappears to leave me at her bedside. Alexa does look cute while she sleeps. She’s wearing a tank top and short pants. Invisible hands pull me onto her, and I can barely resist as I gaze upon her beauty. My hands instinctively touch her face and go down her body. They then go up to her hands that I hold. She seems to be enjoying this. Good. I lower my face down and kiss her lips. Now she’s really smiling.

I then softly bite her neck as I hold her hands in position as she tries to move them. She’s getting restless. Is she waking up? I look at her eyes as she tries to get them open. When she fully notices me, her eyes widen.

“Mic-Michael? What are you doing?” she asks in her sweet voice.

I…What am I doing? This is a mistake. A horrible mistake. What have I done? I run out the door with my hands over my head in disgrace then out of the house into the night. I think I might’ve heard her calling to me, but I don’t want to hear it right now. I want her to go back to sleep and forget about what happened. I want her to forget about me after I even attempted that, but I want more! No! I want more! I want someone else to do it too!

What’s happening to my appearance? I’m more feminine and feel even weirder. What’s happening to me?

Give in already! Satisfy my desires! Give in. Give me what I want!

 

End of Phase One

 

Phase Two – Rampage

Who is going to satisfy me tonight? I want a girl that has everything I want. A cute face, pretty eyes, and the right kind of body. She has to be innocent, but also have a naughty side to her. Her outfit has to reflect it too, and I think I might’ve found the right target. She’s a corner girl, but she’ll do.

I approach her and say, “You look like a pretty doll. Do you want to play?”

“That’s one of the cheesiest pick-up lines I’ve ever heard-”

When she looks at me, she gets scared and tries to run away, but I catch up to her. I pounce on her and feel her. She’s too used, so I let her go. I wonder who else I could get. I do like older women even though Alexa and I are the same age. Maybe I can find one that looks like one from those hentai games I used to play. I also wouldn’t mind it if she had huge milkers and a dominating personality.

As I walk the streets, people stay away from me. I wink at them and throw kisses their way. I know they want me, but they’ll have to wait their turn while I look for my real target. I can hear a voice calling out to me to stop, but I don’t know what it’s saying. Why would I want to stop when I feel this good?

I’ve found a woman that matches the one in my head. She’s got the mature look I crave. A mature woman is like fine wine. They only get better with age. This one is so precious I could die. She’s sitting on a bench by the water and showing her kid the moon, but she isn’t wearing a wedding ring. I could be her next kid and her husband at the same time.

“Hello, there pretty lady,” I say to her.

“Haha, hello. Why are you bothering with an old lady like me?”

“Because a lady such as yourself needs company on a night like this.”

“Well, aren’t you a gentleman?”

I go to grab her by the shoulders, but her kid grabs my hand.

“Do you want to hold my baby? As you can tell, he’s very friendly.”

“I…Uh…”

“Here you go.”

The lady gives me her child. He smiles at me and giggles as he holds my hand.

The lady then says, “I can tell you’re lost. Do you need help getting home?”

“Uh…no.”

“You should go back home since it’s so late. I’m sure the people that care about you will miss you.”

“I uh…I guess so. Sorry, for bothering you.”

“It’s no problem. I’m glad to help. Have a good night!”

“Y-yeah. You too.”

Do I recognize that lady?

“Excuse me? Do I know…”

There’s no one there now. I look around the bench and find a rosary. I’ve been wanting to get another one. Whatever is inside of me is screaming out in pain trying to wrestle back control. What is even going on? Why am I out here? Give me what I desire! Something is still fighting me. I don’t want to be out here. I have to go back to Alexa to apologize-but first!

I see that little girl from before with the elephant. She’s by herself. Out for a late night jog by yourself, I see? You best be careful little girl. There are people out there who won’t hesitate to take your innocence. I find a way to get in front of her and I catch her in my arms.

“You know it’s dangerous to be out here by yourself, little girl.”

“It’s you again! I knew you’d be out here. Do you still want that elephant I have?”

“Wha-no, I don’t.”

“I’ve been praying for you these past couple days. It looks like my prayers have been working since you’re still alive. Oh, do you have a place to stay?”

“…I do.”

“Then all of my prayers have been answered.”

“…What are you doing out here by yourself?”

“I went to go see a boy I like. His parents moved farther away into the city, so I don’t see him as often as I used to. We’ve been taking turns going out at night to see each other.”

“You shouldn’t do that. It’s too dangerous.”

“But I really do love him.”

“Then get your parents to make time to drive you to him or the other way around.”

“I guess so. I don’t know. I’m scared to ask them.”

“If you’re brave enough to be out at night like this, then you’re brave enough to ask your parents.”

“That makes sense. Thank you for convincing me!”

“And don’t forget that even though you may have distance between you two, the love you share will keep you together forever.”

“Thank you for telling me that! You’re like an angel mister! I’m so glad I met you.”

Some strange people come from behind and take away the girl. I think I recognize them. They’re dressed like the people from the Doll Factory.

“Who are you?” I ask them.

“It’s none of your business, boy.”

It is my business. Scum like you shouldn’t be kidnapping anyone let alone a child.

“This is my business.”

“Don’t bother with us or-”

As she turns her head, I sock the woman in the head then knee her friend in the stomach before smashing his face into a nearby wall. This is great! I’ve never felt this sensation before. I should be fighting against people like this and not trying to be like them. I can feel my appearance begin to change. I can see in my reflection in the store window that I have a mask on my face, my head is on fire with rage, my shirt is off, and my black pants are ripped. I don’t have any shoes, but I don’t need them. I like this look more than my feminized one.

“T-thank you for defending me,” the little girl says, “I didn’t know who those people were.”

“I think I have an idea. They’re the reason I’m here and why I got messed up.”

“That’s terrible. They must be evil people.”

“They are, and I’m going to make sure none of them hurt anyone else ever again.”

I search the pockets of the two people I knocked out to find addresses written on scraps of paper. I’ll find every single one of these people to make them pay for everything they’ve done.

 

 

Chapter 7 – Death and Rebirth

The address that I found isn’t too far from here. It’s a broken-down house that looks like it could fall apart at any time. From the looks of it, it could be a perfect place for a temporary hideout for crazy people. I go into the building to find a small pathway to the basement. In it, I find two people sleeping on old mattresses. They’re dressed similarly so these people must be part of the same group.

Since they’re both sleeping, I wake up on who looks around before being knocked right back out. The noise wakes up their friend who I climb on and beat their face in. There’s nothing on them that tells me who they are so these might be the only ones here. They might not even be part of the Doll Factory and are just a group inspired by them. That’s a shame. I wanted to get justice for myself, but at least these people will know better. I call the cops using their phone and leave it on them as I leave the area.

That was more fun than I thought it was going to be. Alexa’s dad used to tell us stories all the time about his dad’s secret vigilante activities while also being a boxer. Now I know why he liked doing it. I want to find more people to fight. Hillside City is full of crazy people. I’m sure to find one if I look hard enough.

It only takes a short while before I see a few suspicious people. They manage to steal some food and drinks out of a store without anyone noticing. I go after them and wait until they lead me to their place. Maybe there are more of them. The two people meet up with another who they start to share the food with. That’s three people to punish. Because they outnumber me, I sneak up behind one and punch them in the back of the head. I then punch the next person in the mouth to make them choke on what they’re eating. The next person gets punched in the gut to make them puke what they ate. Their face gets smashed into the concrete.

“Wh-why are you doing this?” the barely conscious man asks.

“Because you stole food.”

“But we’re hungry and poor!”

“It doesn’t matter if you’re rich or poor. A crime is still a crime. A sin is still a sin. Your justification doesn’t make you innocent.”

I smash the person’s face into the concrete one last time. More! More! I want more souls to punish. Suddenly, more people form out of the shadows as the area around me constantly shifts from the outside to the inside of buildings. So many people to punish. I get to work as my desire for violence overwhelms me. It overwhelms me so much that four tendrils come out of my back. Good. I need more tools for this. Faces get broken, necks are crushed, and my tendrils stab their sharp points through torsos. It’s a sweet symphony of carnage that’s inflicted upon the guilty.

Huh? What’s this? Some of the people I see appear to be normal people. Wait, was that Alexa? Was that my dad? Mom? Myself? When I focus on myself, it steps out to face me. I try to fight it, but it beats me down. No, I won’t let you beat me. I throw a punch at myself, but something tells me to stop, so I stop before I hit myself in the face. The fighting has stopped for some reason and my heart feels calm, and yet, it is also concerned. After blinking a couple times, I see Alexa. Is that really her? What’s going on? What have I been doing?

“I’ve finally found you, Michael”, she says with tears in her eyes.

How did I lose myself for so long? Who was I for that short amount of time? What did I even do?

“I’ve been searching the entire city for you, Michael. Please come back to me.”

Is Alexa really here?

I reach out and she holds my hand. She is real!

“No, Alexa. I’m not sure if I can come back after what I did. I’m not sure if I’m worth it.”

“It’s okay. I forgive you. To be honest, I’ve been feeling the same way, but we have to control ourselves. It’s the right thing to do.”

“Oh…that’s right.”

 

End of Phase 2

 

Phase 3 – Sanctification

I remember why I need to control myself. I’ve only been thinking about myself and what I care about for the past few days. There wasn’t a single thought about what really matters in the world. You were always with me through my troubles. You were waiting for me to come back to you. When I was about to be forcefully wedded, you freed me. When I was in a haze of desire, you took my hand and woke me up. You’re an integral part of who I am. Without You, I am nothing. I’m sorry for forgetting that. I promise not to do it anymore. Just give me the chance to prove it.

My monstrous appearance disappears from me as I go back to normal.

“Let’s go back home, Alexa.”

She nods her head with a smile.

As we walk through the streets while holding hands, I ask her, “Are you out here by yourself?”

“No, my dad should be out here too. He shouldn’t be too far.”

When we turn the corner, I see a group of people approaching me. A few cars stop in the center of the road and more people come out of it. I think I recognize one of their faces. No way. Is that Serenity? Half of her is burnt, and yet, she is still wearing a revealing red dress. The group of people surround us and push us into the alley. I protect Alexa by putting myself in front of her.

“Serenity?”

“That’s Serenity?”

“I’m so glad you didn’t forget about me, Michael. I knew you would be okay after that fire and after all these days. Is this that girl you would always talk about? I told you that she abandoned you because she left you.”

“That isn’t true,” I say, “What do you want?”

“I want you, of course. You proved to be the man I’ve been searching for my entire life. Even though I gave you up to my husband for marriage, that was just to subjugate you and to see if you would kill him. You’ve proved to be more than that.”

“How do you have so many people with you?”

“You didn’t figure it out yet? I guess that’s just how men are. I’m the headmistress of the Doll Factory.”

“What?”

“Why do you think I have such a large reach and the people to kidnap young people like you? I might be exposed now, and I might need to pay a big fee to have this event forgotten by the city’s security, but it’s worth it to get you.”

“You can take me but leave Alexa alone.”

“Michael!”

“I’ll leave her alone alright. She’s a witness and needs to disappear. Trust me. I’ll make sure my people treat her right.”

“I’d rather die than have you take us!”

“I knew you would say something like that. Go ahead. Resist.”

Serenity steps in front of her guards with her arms out. I walk ahead with my fists clenched, and am about to punch her, but then I’m shot in my legs and arms with a couple shots hitting my body. I knew it wouldn’t be that easy. Serenity smiles as I fall down.

“Michael!” Alexa screams.

The guards then point their guns at her.

“You’re truly a man among men, Michael. To fight for your love even when you have all the odds set against you. You truly will be my perfect husband.”

“No…that isn’t going to happen.”

“But it will. I’ll get you back up to good health in no time then make you mine forever.”

“No…that isn’t going to happen!”

I can feel a massive amount of energy exit out of my head and enter into the minds of the people around me as I try to stand up. Serenity’s guards start shooting and fighting against invisible things that appear to be attacking them. Some of them are also experiencing things that make them crumble to the ground, run away, or just go crazy. The pain from my arms, legs, and body begin to fade away as the bullet pop out of me and my strength is restored.

“I should’ve known that you would be affected by the Human Mirror in this way,” Serenity says as she swipes away her monsters, “But you’re still going to be mine.”

“I don’t think so.”

The alley we’re in enlarges itself in the size of a parking lot. I see Serenity as her monster form while I stay normal. I can also see the monsters of everyone else.

Alexa approaches me and says, “It doesn’t look like we can escape unless we make it past her.”

“We can beat her together.”

“Let’s do it.”

A monster pops out of the ground as we approach Serenity. It has bloodied spikes on its scissor-like head and on its thin legs, and its arms are like pincers. It reminds me of the self-harm and hate that I had within me, but that’s not part of me anymore.

“I used to hate myself and what I was, but that’s not who I am,” I say aloud, “From this day forth, I’m going to be a different person!”

Alexa says, “I hated myself for leaving the most important in my life and my faults. I’m above that thinking now. Worrying about that will only keep me down.”

The monster breaks apart and disappears. We approach Serenity who has just fought off her monsters.

She says, “Come back to me, Michael. I can give you an easy life that you deserve.” She slams her foot on the ground, which shakes it. “Submit to me!”

“I won’t!” I say as I take Alexa’s hand, “I don’t need an easy life. All I need are two things; God and the love of my life, who’s hand I’m holding.”

“He’s mine, Serenity, and I’m going to be a better wife than you can ever be.”

“But I have everything. Money, power, and sex. I have what makes the world turn.”

“Those things are nothing compared to what I have. All you have are demons and vanity. Repent or perish.”

“No, I won’t.”

Serenity’s monsters become stronger and appear more nightmarish to reflect her stubborn mindset. Her energy attracts the monsters from other people who pounce on her. Along with her monsters, they overwhelm her, take over her body, and transform her into a summation of everyone’s sins. It’s a three-headed demon with nine breasts, black fur, a showing spinal column, and a tail with a phallic appendage in it.

It screams out in anger then says, in a combined voice, “Submit to me or die!”

“We won’t!” Alexa and I say together.

The summation then winds up a punch. We wind up our own and clash with it. A light from our body transfers from our fists to the summation, which infects its body and tears it apart. It then explodes from the light. When it’s over, Serenity and her guards lay unconscious on the ground. I then fall down due to the pain coming back to me.

“Michael! Hold on! I’m going to get my dad.”

Alexa’s dad arrives at the alley just in time and is shocked by what he sees before he goes to help me. He rips parts of his shirt to wrap my wounds.

He says, “You’re going to be fine, Michael. My mom taught me how to stabilize a person. Thankfully, whatever you got hit with is out. I’ll ask what happened here later.”

“He saved me, dad.”

“He did? I don’t know why I’m surprised. You’re a good kid, no, you’re a great man.”

“I’m glad to hear that. Alexa…”

“You don’t have to say or make up for anything. You showed me how much you love me.”

Alexa kisses me on the forehead. Her dad and she take me to the hospital while also calling the police. The authorities arrest Serenity and the rest of her guards, who have gone soft in the head for some reason. Since we tell them who they are and they admit it publicly, Serenity is publicly executed with her other guards who have killed and raped people. Alexa and I are credited in dealing a fatal blow to the Doll Factory and are celebrated by the city and the world. The Doll Factory isn’t going to be heard from for a long time even in their circles.

As for Alexa and I, we enjoy our fame and our rewards. We decide to lead somewhat normal lives despite our unordinary present situation, but then again, who is truly normal? I wake up to a new day to my wonderful family. My stepparents head out to work while my girlfriend and I get ready to enjoy another day today.

“Are you ready, Michael?”

“Yeah, I’m always ready to spend another day with you.”

“Haha, come on.”

Alexa and I step outside while holding each other’s hand. My life has been a series of challenges. Life, in general, is a never-ending challenge with beginnings and endings. I fail a lot, but I always get back up to try again because love lives within me, and I live for love.

 

End of Phase 3

 

The End – Grace

 

Sometimes the only way the good Lord can get into some hearts is to break them.”

― Fulton J. Sheen

 

Concept Art

*These pictures along with the cover are the pictures I used to help me plot out the story.

*Restless was taken out as I thought this part didn’t need a long section for it.

Immortalized in Death

Download for free on Smashwords – https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/929660

Chapter 1 – Die Forever with Me

Allie doesn’t live in anywhere special. The countryside she lives in isn’t known for producing the best crops or the best people, but it gets by. On one normal day, a strange girl with pink hair, white skin, and purple eyes showed up in a park while she was out. This girl has red bowie ties to hold up her pigtails, light blue eye linear, rosy red cheeks, and a pick schoolgirl dress with a red tie. The girl walks as if she glides across the ground and looks around as if she’s looking for a friend.

Being the girl she is, Allie goes up to the girl and introduces herself.

The girl smiles then says, “I’m Ellie. Do you want to be friends?”

“Okay! Let’s be friends!”

The girls quickly became best friends within a week. Ellie has a special ability to perform magic, which includes bringing plants and animals back to life and levitation. When other people saw her, they just assumed she was some kind of clown or performer because of the way she dressed. Allie thought more of her. The two of them were the bestest of friends in town.

On one day, Ellie asked, “Do you want to come over my house today? It’s tall, big, and a magical place.”

“I’d love to come over. Where is it?”

“It’s in the forest. You know you’re near it when you see the trees with the white leaves.”

“I’ll be there. Let me tell my parents first.”

Allie tells her step-parents about going over Ellie’s house, but she unintentionally leaves out the magical part of the house. Her parents trust their responsible daughter and let her go out. In the forest, Allie follows Ellie’s advice and finds the part of the forest with white trees. She’s never seen trees like this before. She hasn’t even heard of them being the area. Along with the weird white trees, there are flowers that grow on the trunk of the trees. The flowers themselves are pretty, however, they appear to have eyes in the center of them that follow Allie’s every move. She brushes this off as her imagination despite the lack of wind that could be blowing the flowers.

After going deeper into the forest, Allie finds a completely black and white house. The place doesn’t have many windows nor does the way to it appear to have been walked on recently. Wondering only about her friend, Allie knocks on the door while eagerly waiting. A noise inside that sounds like screaming makes Allie jumps, but then her friend opens the door.

Allie assumes the noise was the creaky door then says, “Hi, Ellie. This is a nice place you have here.”

“It’s great. I’m so glad you showed up. Come in.”

Once Allie walks into the house, her photo is taken by a creature with a camera for an upper body. It then crawls up to the ceiling before Allie can get a good look at it. She feels weak now as it feels as if all of her energy was drained from her.

“What was that?” Allie asks as she looks at her photo on the ground.

Ellie takes the photo from her and says, “It was just one of the many pets I have here. It snaps the photo of everyone who comes in here, so I have something to remember their first visit by.”

The interior of the house is nothing but black and white just like the exterior. Light can’t penetrate the windows, nor can it illuminate the dark spots within the building. The white lights on the candles barely light up the house.

“Do you have other friends?”

“I do.”

“Are your parents home?”

“They are, but they’re busy right now. Let’s eat lunch. They prepared it for us.”

“That’s nice of them. I can’t wait to meet everyone.”

“They’re excited to meet you too.”

Ellie opens the door to the dining hall. A large table is filled with various meats, fruits, vegetables, and desserts. The aroma from the room is intoxicating to Allie.

“Go ahead. Guests first,” Ellie says with a smile.

Allie eagerly steps into the room. The door slams behind her, and now the room seems much smaller.

“Ellie? What’s going on?” Allie says as she starts banging on the door. “Huh?”

The door feels like a solid wall now. Another large noise makes the room close in more. It’s obvious now that this is just an empty room and not a dining hall.

“Haha, you got me, Ellie. This is a cool magic trick you got. You can let me out now.”

The walls slowly begin to close in.

“You’re really starting to scare me. Let me out!”

No matter how much she pleads Ellie to stop the walls, she doesn’t respond.

“Please, Ellie! You’re my best friend, aren’t you?”

As soon as she calls Ellie her best friend, the walls stop. Allie sighs in relief only for her to be squashed in an instant.

“AAAAAAHHHHHH!”

Allie wakes up in a completely white room in the house. There are several other beds with children in them except these children don’t appear to be lively. They have white skin like Ellie, but their eyes are hollow with a permanent smile on their face. Allie is startled by this but is afraid to move because she is surrounded. The children go back to sleep, which makes Allie comfortable enough to get up.

When she enters the hallway, she finds more kids walking around from room to room. The hallway has candles with white flames on them to give it light. Hung up on the walls are pictures of children and young adults. It appears that their photo was taken by surprise, just like Allie.

She follows the children to a real dining hall this time with the food she previously saw. At one of the tables, she finds Ellie except she is all black and white and is wearing a striped schoolgirl dress.

Allie walks up to her friend and asks, “Ellie, what happened to you?”

Her friend turns to her with a frozen smile and says, “I’m always like this. I’m glad you asked about me first despite what I did to you.”

“What do you mean?”

“This house is ruled by mother who wishes to have all kinds of children for herself. She immortalizes them in death so no one in here can truly die. I’m just her favorite puppet that she uses to lure in people. What you saw of me was nothing but a hollow shell that I possessed.”

“Why is she doing this?”

“She wants to keep as many children away from death as possible even though she technically kills you when you first came in.”

“I actually died?!”

“The body that you came in with did. Your blood is tied to the picture that was taken of you. If you can get that and destroy it, then you can escape, but if you die after that, your soul belongs to the master of the house forever.”

“Who is the master of the house?”

“He is the one who gave mother her power. All I know is that you should watch out for the black cat in the house.”

“Where can I find my photo?”

“Deep within the halls of the house, but various traps will try to kill you. I don’t say this to everyone, but be careful, Allie. Dozens of kids have tried to escape, and no one has escaped. Most give up before they reach their photo. I think you should just accept your fate and stay here. We have friends, food, and loving parents.”

“Loving parents don’t kidnap the souls of kids. I’m going to leave here and go back home.”

“Go ahead and try Allie. I’ll be waiting for you at your bedside.”

Allie walks out of the room and wanders the house until she finds her way to a large art gallery with various pictures in them. These pictures are of other children, the black and white children, and creatures, one of which is the creature that took Allie’s photo. Now that she has a better look at it, she can see that the only color in it is the red in its eye.

Wandering through the art gallery, she finds that some of the pictures move by themselves as if people are trapped in them. A closer look reveals this to be the truth with people screaming in them in bursts as if they were in Hell. Above these pictures are the caption “Naughty child”. A snake-like creature with barbed wire on its body catches Allie’s attention as it goes from one picture to the next. She cautiously walks through the gallery, however, she doesn’t pay attention to the art and gets ensnared by the barbed wire snake and is taken into a picture. The barbed wire strings her up in a tight photo frame and cuts off her limbs before cutting off her head.

“AAAAAAHHH!”

“Welcome back, Allie,” Ellie says with her frozen expression. She waits for her friend to catch her breath before asking, “It was painful, wasn’t it? All of the ways you can die here are painful.”

“It doesn’t matter. I’m going to escape here no matter how many times I die. Why don’t you join me?”

“I gave up years ago.”

“Years ago? How long have you been here?”

“I don’t know. Maybe a generation or three of kids? Anyway, I’m glad that you thought about me. Most usually hate me once they know what I did to them.”

“I don’t hate you, Ellie. I want to get us out of here.”

“You can try all you want. I’ve given up already and accepted my life here.” Ellie holds Allie’s hand. “Please. You’re the only one here I care about on the same level as mother. I don’t want to see you suffer.”

“I won’t. Have a little faith in me.”

“I don’t know what that’s like.”

“Then you’re going to see.”

Allie gets up and goes through the art gallery again. She finds the picture of her death on the walls, which plays it repeatedly. The feeling it gives me makes her sick, so she turns away from it and hopes that nothing like that ever happens again. This time through the gallery she manages to avoid the painting creature. Unfortunately, she doesn’t find her photo in the room, so she goes to the next one.

The next room has a collection of dolls in them. They are all posed differently with some squirming in place with blood leaking out of their eyes and the cracks in their skin. Not wanting to take any chances with these dolls, Allie moves around the room carefully to see what they will do. Oddly enough, nothing happens. When Allie moves to the next room, she exits out of the closet that was in her room.

“What?” she says in a surprised voice.

Ellie, who is still sitting by her bedside, says, “You made it through the first set of rooms. I’m surprised you made it past the doll room.”

“I wasn’t going to take any chances there. I moved as carefully as I could, and I always had my eyes on them.”

“That’s probably why. They’re set to attack anything that moves and they also respond to not being looked at. If you want to go to the next room, you have to go back through your closet. Why don’t you take a rest? You have all the time in the world.”

“I guess there’s no harm, but no funny business.”

“Oh, there won’t be.”

 

 

Chapter 2 – Teddies and Twisted Tales

Allie sits at the dining table and looks at the food available. The table is as long as the room and is set up as a buffet. Despite the small crowd of kids taking the food, it automatically replenishes out of thin air. Allie takes the chicken and a salad with caution and eats it in the same manner.

“So?” Ellie asks, “How do you like it?”

“It’s delicious!”

Allie thinks there might be something more to it and coughs some of it out.

“There isn’t any magic in it if that’s what you’re thinking.”

The sound in Ellie’s voice appears to be honest, so Allie eats. She tries every that looks appetizing until she realizes that she’s been eating for a while now.

“I knew there was something to this food,” Allie says as she pushes her plate aside.

“This isn’t any magic at all. I would know. It’s just that your home doesn’t have food like this place. Why do you want to leave this place? Isn’t it nice here? You have always delicious food on the table, there’s always a new friend to make, and we can’t die. I’m not good at making friends, but since you’re here, I finally have a friend.”

“I don’t want to make my family and friends back home worry.”

“Who cares about them now? You have me with you.”

“I can’t always be with you, Ellie. I have to give other people my love and attention.”

“Why? I need more attention than your friends and family. I don’t have anyone who loves me like you do and mother.” Ellie hugs Allie. “My lack of friends is the reason why mother and the master convinced me to be their lure for them. Every single kid hated me after I brought them here except for you. Please. If you get back your blood then die, I’ll have no one to be with.”

“I promise it won’t be that way. Excuse me.”

Allie walks out of the room then sighs. She walks into her room and into the closet to continue her search for her picture. The room she finds herself in is a large toy room with various toys that are twice the size of her. The room is as large as two backyards while the toys appear to be cute and cuddly and looking at them makes Allie want to play with them. What’s most different about this room is that it has actual color to it with no black, whites, or even greys in sight. There are other kids in the room and they’re playing with the toys and taking them out of it. Everything here appears to be safe, but Allie resists the urge to play with the toys. Her desire to touch them weighs heavily on her, which gives her the impression that the toys must have magic in them.

The more she resists them, the more she wants to touch and hug the toys. Allie has never seen toys like the ones she sees in the room. Elegant dolls, fluffy stuffed animals, and detailed figures. The further she goes into the room, the more appealing toys she sees. By the time she reaches the next door, she’s sweating with dozens of toys surrounding her. It’s as if they’re begging her with their stare to play. Allie forces herself to go into the next room.

This next room isn’t as cute, appealing, or large as the last. Instead, it’s a library with rows and rows of books. The are three floors with different sections of various books from around the world that covers every genre imaginable. Some of the books in the library are rare ones with few copies existing outside of the house. The colors are no longer colorful as they were in the toy room. Now they are filled with the normal colors of a library with browns, blacks, and white lights to illuminate the room.

Still feeling the after-effects of the toy room, Allie stumbles around the room while darting her eyes around for possible danger. A snake with a barbed wire body comes out from the bookcase with a book for a face. When it opens its pages, a blank face with a smile shows itself.

“Let me tell you a story,” it says as it envelops Allie into its pages. “This is the story of the little mermaid.”

Allie is now dressed as the little mermaid and the scenery around her manifests as the creature talks about it.

“She wants to get the prince, but his heart is taken by another. At the wedding ceremony, she decides to dance her best for their happiness. Dance little mermaid, dance your sorrows away.”

Allie remembers this story differently, but she dances as the creature says to. What she forgets is that the little mermaid feels as if she’s walking on knives, which is one of the prices of walking with human legs. Allie too feels this pain in her legs but bears through it until things start to change.

“After all the pleasantries, the little mermaid is told that she doesn’t have to die. If she can kill her prince and his wife, she can live. She is handed a knife to carry out the deed. Will she?”

Knowing her story, Allie tosses away the knife and jumps into the ocean and out of the story. Back in the library and her normal body, she takes more care of where she’s walking. The storybook serpent comes out of the shelves again.

It says, “Let me tell you a story.”

She tries to avoid it, but the serpent catches her no matter how fast she runs.

The serpent says, “This is the story of Alice in Wonderland. She has just cried a river of tears and must dry herself off by running a race with several other animals.”

Allie starts to run with the animals but is having a hard time to because of her wet dress.

“It looks like Alice needs more motivation.”

The river of tears floods into the forest Allie is running in. Distracted by the sight, Allie trips and is caught up by the river of tears, which turns into a river of teeth that chews her up.

After her excruciating death, Allie wakes up screaming on her bed with her best friend ready to embrace her.

As Ellie embraces Allie, she says, “Stops this Allie! I was hoping that the toy room would hypnotize you so you would at least stay here for a while, but you had to go and die again!”

Allie pushes Ellie away and gets out of her bed.

“I’m not going to give up! You’re not my best friend if you want to keep me here for the rest of eternity!”

“You don’t know what you’re talking about Allie! I am your best friend because we can spend forever here without a care or worry!”

Ignoring Ellie’s words, Allie walks back into the closet. She makes it through the toy room again the same way she did last time with the same level of difficulty despite her going through it already. In the library, the story book serpent gets her again. Allie now has it in her mind that she has to go through the stories the serpents put her through. That would explain why this room is smaller and looks easier to get through than the past ones.

The serpent says, “Let me tell you a story. This is the story of little red riding hood. She goes to deliver some things for her grandma, but the wolf has eaten her and taken her place in the grandma’s bed. Little red riding hood doesn’t know this as she enters her grandma’s house.”

Because of what was said, Allie has a foggy head as to what happens in the story.

“Come sit next to me,” the wolf says.

Allie does this. She wonders why her grandma looks so different and remembers that her real grandma doesn’t live in the woods. Instead, her real grandma lives by the shore. She remembers that her grandma told her a version of this story. Once she remembers everything, she takes a knife from her skirt and cuts the wolf’s throat and makes him into a coat.

“That’s not exactly how it’s supposed to go, but whatever. I’ll just add it to my collection.”

The storybook serpent lets Allie go. Disappointingly, she doesn’t take her wolf coat with her. Further into the library, another storybook serpent catches Allie.

“Let me tell you a story. A young woman marries a man with a blue beard. This man appears to be very ugly, but he is wealthy and has status within the country. The two are married and the woman is allowed to go into any one of his rooms within the castle except for the one she has a key for. What will she do?”

Allie is standing in front of the door she isn’t meant to go into. Without thinking, she goes into the room and finds the decapitated bodies of many young women along with various bloody tools and torture devices that were used to kill them. Allie takes a machete from the tool rack and finds her husband who is currently sleeping and cuts off his head. She then shaves off his blue beard.

“That’s not exactly how it’s supposed to go, but I liked it. I’m going to add it to my collection. I feel anxious for the man you are going to marry.”

Allie is let go out of the story book but wastes no time in getting trapped by another one.

“Let me tell you a story. There is a woman who loves to dance in a pair of red shoes. Unfortunately for her, she can’t stop dancing. What will she do?”

Knowing the painful thing she has to do, Allie tells a nearby executioner to cut off her feet and he does. The shoes keep dancing with her feet in them and dance away from her. The executioner tells her that she has suffered enough because of the shoes. Allie knows she has to go to church and does. Her old feet try to block her from entering, but she throws them aside and makes it into the building and out of the story.

Once she’s out of the story, Allie gets her feet back and she appears back in her room.

“Did…did I beat it?” Allie asks aloud.

“…You did, Allie,” Ellie responds.

“That means I’m close to my photo! I have to get back in-”

“Stop!” Ellie throws a knife that cuts Allie’s right arm. “You aren’t going to leave me. I don’t care if I have to pin you to the bed with knives. I don’t care how many times I have to kill you. I want you to stay with me forever. Please!”

“Oh no…”

 

 

 

Chapter 3 – Feminine Ferocity

Ellie has Allie trapped in place. Allie tries to open the closet, but Ellie throws another knife close to her hand.

“The next one goes in your head then you know where you’ll end up,” Ellie states with a chilling seriousness with her face accurately representing her anger and sorrow, “I’ll put my knives in your feet and hands and keep you here until you learn that you belong here with me.”

“Ok…fine. You got me.”

“Finally!” Ellie hugs Allie and heals her cut. “We’re going to be friends forever. Let’s go sit outside for a bit.”

Allie and Ellie sit outside on the balcony of the house. They can see the entire forest from where they’re at. Ellie clings to Allie’s side the entire time in blissful silence with her one hand holding a knife to Allie’s neck and the other holding Allie’s hand.

Ellie says, “I’m just going to stay like this for a while to feel safe that you’re going to stay with me. I hope you don’t mind.”

“Not at all.”

In her mind, Allie hasn’t given up. She’s thinking up a plan to get away from Ellie. It takes her a little while, and she doesn’t like the plan, but it’s the only one she has.

She says to Ellie, “Do you want to grab something to eat? I’m starting to crave some of that strawberry shortcake I saw.”

“That’s my favorite thing to eat. Let’s go!”

At the dinner table, the two eat strawberry shortcake in the same position they were outside with Ellie still holding onto Allie with knives in her hands. A few of the kids are too afraid to ask why they’re like this while the rest don’t care as they endlessly stuff their faces.

Before Allie can do anything, Ellie says, “I never told where I came from. Do you want to know?”

“Sure.”

Allie thinks to enact her plan when Ellie completely wrapped up in her story.

“I came from a really poor family from the city. We never had much to eat or drink, and my parents were always sad. They always talked about how they were going to take care of me and my future. I swear they cried every night, even though they were always smiling when I looked at them. I decided to end their worries for me and ran away into the white forest. That’s how I got here.”

“Are you sure your parents wouldn’t be more worried after you left?”

“They might’ve been, but I’m sure they’re happier now without a daughter to drag them deeper down into poverty.”

“How long ago was that?”

“It must’ve been almost three decades by now. I don’t know and I don’t care. I let that go a while.”

“How does time work here?”

“It goes by a little faster than normal time last time I heard.”

“Huh? What do you mean?”

“That means if you were to leave now, you would be older than what you were when you came in. I didn’t mention that to you because I thought it would make you want to leave me more, but now, you’re going to be with me forever.”

Ellie lets down her guard and kisses Allie’s cheek with cream covered lips. Allie uses this opportunity to stab her fork and knife into Ellie’s eyes to blind her. As Ellie screams out in pain and wildly flails around with her knives, Allie moves away from her. The kids who hate Ellie go after her and start stabbing her to death.

One of the kids says, “Go! We’ll protect you!”

Allie runs out of the dining room and into the bedroom where Ellie gets out of her bed and goes after Allie. The kids distract Ellie as Allie goes into the closet and into the next room she needs to go through. It’s a nursery colored in a bright white where dozens of children are being nursed and played with by giant women with the body of a caterpillar. These women have permanent smiles on their faces. They nurse their children with endless gifts, food, and milk that comes out of the holes in their bodies.

One of them notices Allie and goes after her. It says, “Come to me little one. Let me take care of you.”

The large caterpillar goes after Allie while shooting a sticky substance at her. It’s a mad sprint as Allie goes from one end of the room to the other while using the other caterpillars and her surroundings as cover to get to the other room. She manages to reach it and enters a completely black room. The center of the room has a huge woman with eyes all over half her body with a mouth on the bottom hanging from the ceiling.  When her eyes focus on Allie, the place where she is becomes illuminated.

“I see you,” the woman says.

The mouth on the woman’s lower half descends from the ceiling and makes its way towards Allie current position.

Ellie appears in the room and says, “You can’t see in this room, but mother lets me see perfectly! I’m coming for you, Allie!”

“Dang it.”

Allie goes through a different path from the mouth but can’t see where she’s going. It’s clear now that she’s in a maze and the only way she can see is if the woman in the middle looks at her. The places where the mouth travels are illuminated as well, which shows that the exit is below the woman. The mouth itself goes to where Allie was first spotted, so it doesn’t follow her and seems to only go where she is spotted. Once it retreats back to the woman, Allie follows it back to the woman, but it lunges at her as she follows it. She manages to keep a safe distance until Ellie reaches her.

“You’re going to stay with me forever!” Ellie screams as she runs after Allie with her knives.

“Stay away from me, Ellie!”

Allie tries to go around the mouth but is caught by its mouth as it curves to catch her. It holds her in its teeth as Ellie approaches.

“No! Stop this Ellie! It doesn’t have to be this way!”

“Yes, it does.”

“No, please! Please!”

Allie’s pleas don’t stop Ellie from violently stabbing her to death. When Allie awakes from her bed, she rolls to the side to avoid Ellie’s knives. She then takes them and stabs Ellie’s eyes again then backs off.

Ellie swings around wildly with her knives while saying, “Why?! Why would you want to go back to a life full of suffering and sadness?!”

“Because I have people worried about me. People that have helped me become who I am. I didn’t tell you before, but I’m adopted.”

Ellie stops swinging her knives.

“You’re adopted?”

“My original family was burned to death by a bunch of foreign bandits. I found those bandits and cut their throats. That didn’t help me at all. I felt ashamed of myself and slept on the streets for days by myself. It was only when a traveling couple found me was, I adopted. Even though I was bloody and dirty, they took me in and cared for me as if I was their real daughter. That’s why I never referred to them as stepmother or father. They taught me how to be a nice and proper lady. They’re the reason why I’m still alive today and I don’t want to keep them worried about me!”

Ellie hangs her head down in silence then drops her knives. Allie waits a moment to see what she’s going to do before going back into the closet. She passes through the caterpillar room the same way she did before and enters the maze room again. This time she uses her sense of touch to guide her through the maze. She holds her hand against the wall while looking at the woman in the center who knows where she is based on noise rather than her eyes despite her appearance. Allie draws a mental image of the map in her head as she navigates it.

It takes her a little while, but Allie manages to get to the end. As she touches the final door, Ellie appears behind her.

“Allie!”

The woman on the ceiling focuses in on Allie and lowers her mouth towards her. Allie quickly goes through the door and is sucked into it just as the mouth is about to catch her. She falls sideways for a little while before coming to a full stop to a photo of herself hanging in a dark room. When she pulls the photo down, it makes a clicking noise, which turns on a light to reveal a wall filled with countless photos of children. Startled by the sight, Allie backs away and into someone who puts their arms around her. Looking at the person, it’s a woman with the faces of children on her skirt. The woman has a dark grey scarf that goes from her neck to the inside of her mask that has a pretty face with a smile on it. Her long white hair comes out a small hole on the back of her head.

Allie asks the woman, “Are you the mother?”

“I am, sweetie. I am impressed that you managed to get your photo. It’s been a long while since the last of my children accomplished such a feat. Bravo!”

“I’m not your child.”

“You are whether you know it or not, and not just my children, but my most precious child. I’ve heard your story and your soul should be as rotten as my master’s, but yours shines like the stars.”

“I’m leaving whether you like it or not. You can tell your master that.”

“He’s always been watching you, my dear. He isn’t able to touch you because of your glowing spirit and your angel that protects you, however, we will have you if you die. Think about that before choosing to move on.”

“I’ll take my chances.”

“Think about your friend, Ellie then. She’s never been so attached to someone until now. Right now, she’s an emotional wreck. I’ve tried to get the other children to calm her down, but she’s killed them all. Repeatedly. If you leave here, she’ll suffer for all eternity.”

“I’ll rescue her from this place then.”

“I’m afraid you can’t. She and the other children, who have pledged their soul to my master and me, will all suffer if you escape the house. It was their choice. They were old enough to know what they were getting into and they’re going to live with that decision for the rest of eternity. Think about that before if you manage to get to the exit.”

Once the mother lets go of her, Allie appears back in her room with Ellie crying in the corner. The exit is so close but feels so far now. There’s only one more decision to make that will decide Allie’s fate and the fate of the rest of the children stuck in this house, and she’s already made up her mind.

 

 

Chapter 4 – From Death to Life

Her mind is already made up. Allie breathes in and out a couple times before looking at her photo. It bleeds blood that infuses itself into her, which fills her with life and strength. She then looks at the girl she used to easily call her best friend.

Allie approaches her and says, “I’m going, Ellie. Goodbye. I hope your immortality was worth it.”

“…Is that all you’re going to say to me? Is that all I really mean to you?”

“If you were really my friend or even a good person, you wouldn’t have sold your soul or brought me here. I don’t hate you. I’m not even mad at you. I just pity you.”

Ellie sits in silence for a second before lunging at Allie with her knives. Allie catches Ellie’s hands before the knives can touch her.

“If you don’t want to here, then I’ll force you to! Mother will make you be with me forever! I deserve it after all the people I brought here. You’re her special child, so she has to reward me. You’re never going to leave me, Allie!”

Allie turns the knives on Ellie and sticks her hands to the wall.

“I’m leaving here, and this place is going to disappear!”

“I’m going to come after you, Allie! You will be my best friend forever!” Ellie begins to sob again. “What’s wrong? What’s so wrong with wanting a best friend to always be with?!”

“Because all you care about is yourself. You don’t care about the people you kidnap or me.”

“I love you, Allie!”

“You don’t love anyone but yourself!”

Ellie excessively cries as she falls to her knees with her hands still stuck in the wall. For safety, Allie takes a couple knives from her. She then walks away from her former best friend and into the closet for the last time. This last room she enters is rusted and covered in blood. The heat in the room makes it feel like a furnace. Allie collects herself one last time before moving forward. She hears something that sounds like wet meat walking around.

When she turns the corner, two mouths fused at the jaw. She backs away as the jaws close down on the corner and crush it. A monster turns the corner and reveals itself to be a horrible monstrosity. Its head is composed of four mouths fused at the jaw with one huge mouth in the center. The same is true for the back. Its legs are two fused mouths while its body is hunched up like a dog. Not wanting to give this monster a second to attack, Allie throws one of her knives into its main mouth then slides under it while cutting its belly. She then mounts it and stabs it until it collapses as her hunting experience with her father pays off. The monster spazzes out on the floor as it clings to life.

Allie runs away from the monster and comes across a dead end with a large boiling pot of lava at the end.

She says aloud, “There’s no other place to go. This place is just one short corridor with a monster at the end. It’s no wonder why no one managed to escape.”

The mother, Ellie, the monster, and a black cat approach Allie.

“It’s over, Allie. Since you’re so special, I’ll give you one last chance to submit to my master and me. You’ll be spared a painful death and you can live forever with your best friend. Doesn’t that sound nice, sweetie?”

Allie thinks about it for a second before putting her hand on the boiling pot.

She responds, “No.”

She then tips over the boiling pot, which releases the fires of Hell. The fires quickly burn the house along with everyone in it except for the souls who didn’t submit to the master and Allie. The black cat and the mother try attacking Allie while burning but the fires prevent them from doing anything but burning in suffering. The monster is turned to ashes while Ellie burns like the mother.

She reaches out to Allie and says, “Please, Allie! Take me with you!”

“I can’t, Ellie.”

“Then tell me that God will forgive me, and He’ll save me!”

“God forgives the living, not the dead. You’ve already past your period of grace. The door to mercy is shut in your face and you’re the one who did it.”

Ellie screams in anger at Allie as she walks away. A path is opened for Allie as she makes her way out of the house. Along the way, she passes by the other monsters she saw with the other burning souls. Once she leaves the house, she sees that the house turns into a pillar of fire. She can still hear her former friend and the rest of the souls screaming, so she walks away as the fire from the house spreads to the trees with white leaves.

In the sky, Allie sees the freed souls dancing among the stars until they disappear and move on to Heaven. When she steps foot away from the trees with white leaves, she looks back to see a burning blaze. Even at this distance, she can still hear screaming. The fire from the house doesn’t spread to the normal parts of the forest and is contained by an invisible force.

Right now, it is raining, so Allie hurries back to her house. While running, she comes across a puddle. In her reflection, she can see that she’s now a young woman.

She still has the same dress and hair ornaments she wore as a child. Tears come to her eyes over her lost childhood. She bears her pain and moves on. Further into the forest, she sees a familiar man with hunting equipment. The two stop to look at each other as they slowly approach each other.

“Allie?” the man says with a quivering voice.

“Daddy?” she responds in a similar voice.

The two rush to embrace each other before her dad kisses the forehead of his adopted daughter repeatedly.

“Where have to been for the past few years?” he asks, “The entire town has been searching for you. Some of them thought you were dead, but your mom and I knew better.”

“It’s a long story, daddy.”

Allie explains the story to her dad as she leads him to the large fire in the forest. Since her daughter is always honest, he believes her. They spread the tale to the town, and they honor Allie as a hero. A funeral is held for all of the children who died and didn’t submit to the mother and her master. The fire in the forest is still burning and turns into a popular tourist attraction that brings much-needed attention to the small town so it can prosper.

A passing family hears of the tale and inquires about Ellie. It turns out that Ellie’s family has been searching for her ever since she left. They’re sad to learn of her fate but relieved to hear the news so they can let go of the past. They are accepted into the community despite their daughter’s actions. As for Allie, she makes up for the time she lost. She already went through one tragedy and recovered from it, and she wasn’t going to let another keep her down.

 

The End

Biohazardous Affections

Download this story for free on Smashwords – https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/920735

 

Chapter 1 – Falling in Love the Wrong Way

On one unfortunate night, an accident in a research facility causes an outbreak of a virus that makes people cannibals by cutting off all if not all of the reasoning ability in their brain. The outbreak spread throughout all of the world. It was a global effort to find cures for major diseases after all with dozens upon dozens of researchers and countries involved. The reason why this outbreak had such a major impact on the world was because these cannibals, infected, or zombies as most call them were still able to mimic normal human behavior.

These cannibals could act normal as long as they weren’t compromised. They could even eat normal food and use their most recent memories to fool people to think that they were normal, however, they aren’t able to remember older memories or information that takes some time to remember. Once they have their targets secluded, they bite them or eat them to turn them into cannibals. Some areas of the country didn’t know or believe this outbreak was real since the cannibals were so good at blending in. After a couple of months, there’s good and bad news for humanity. The bad news is that there are more cannibals than normal humans. The good news is that there’s a cure and everyone in the world knows that the cannibals are a real threat to humanity and they’re fighting back.

A small group of survivors is holding out in the woods outside of their fishing town that is overrun with cannibals. Two people are heading out to a power plant since the power for their hideout has mysteriously been turned off.

“Get off me!” the young man says.

“Oh come on, Hagan. Stop being such a hard head. I’m just hugging you.”

“Well, I don’t like you hugging me, Chloe. I know what your feelings are for me even though I’m with Brandy.”

“I’m not trying to do anything. I’m over you choosing her over me.”

“The way you touch me sometimes says otherwise. Let’s just drop this drama once and for all. We need to be on guard.”

“Right.”

“You know what to do, right?”

“I know. I’ll keep watch by the cliffs while you go in to turn the power on.”

“Good. Watch yourself. Even though I don’t trust you with touching me, I do trust you with everything else.”

“Okay, you don’t need to worry about me. This isn’t like it’s our last time together.”

“I know. I’m just saying.”

Hagan goes down to the power plant to find it empty with nothing broken or out of place, but the main power switch is turned off, which is strange. No one is stationed here nor are there any known human settlements around this area. After turning the power back on, a gunshot is made from Chloe’s general area.

Hagan says over the walkie talkie, “Chloe? What’s going on?”

He receives no response. When he goes outside, he finds multiple people converging on him. Since the cannibals know they can’t fool him, they use the energy they use for reasoning and convert it to enhance their strength and endurance. Hagan tries using his knife to conserve ammo since there are so many, but he realizes that he’s outnumbered. He heads back inside the building and barricades the main door. He then tries to kill as many cannibals as he can that come out of the three windows in the small building until his back is up against the wall. He’s managed to save a clip of ammo for himself in case he has to put a bullet in his head, but it appears like he doesn’t have to.

The cannibals stop moving for some reason and just corner Hagan. He stops fighting and wonders what could be happening. It becomes clear once Chloe comes into the building. Her hazel eyes are gone and have been replaced with light blue eyes. Her lips are now blue, and her skin is pale.

“Chloe…”

“I’m sorry, Hagan. I didn’t want this to happen. I wanted them to kill me once they got me, but now I’m like this, and there’s only one way for you to survive.”

If two virgins are attracted to one another, the virus will take advantage of this and cut of part off their reasoning and increase their hormones so they can make infected children. Once pregnant, a female will give birth within a few weeks and have grown children within the same amount of time. These “zombie” children act like normal children and are almost indistinguishable from normal children, which makes them effective for infiltration and easy takeover of human settlements. It seems like to Hagan that the cannibals knew of the people within their settlement and purposefully drew them out so this could happen. He’s extremely stressed out and doesn’t know what to do.

“Just trust me, Hagan.”

“I trust you with everything but controlling yourself around me. I could almost swear that you did this on purpose!”

“I didn’t. You know how we can get out of this. Just trust me for now.”

Chloe slowly walks towards Hagan with her arms out. He points his gun at her, which make the cannibals take a step toward him to remind him what would happen if he refuses her. Hagan then lowers his gun and stands still, but uneasy. He lets Chloe bite his neck to infect him as her mate. The cannibals walk away with a smile as they trust their virus to work on him. Hagan bleeds blue blood from his bite wound as his sclera turns light blue while his iris and pupil turn completely black.

“Ow. Ow! Stop it!” Hagan says as Chloe begins to sensually bite and lick his neck.

He pushes her away and points his gun at her again.

She says, “You know you’ll die too if I die.”

“I’m not sure if I’ll care.”

Chloe is a bit shaky as she tries to control her desire.

“Chloe, control yourself.”

“I…I…”

Chloe begins to hug Hagan and breathe in his face with a captivating look on her face, which doesn’t help the way he feels.

“Get…get off! You aren’t helping by doing this.”

Hagan pushes Chloe further away this time.

“I’m…I’m sorry.”

Needing to let go of his pent up energy, Hagan punches a wall then grunts in frustration. They both stay in silence for a few moments as they collect themselves.

“You couldn’t do anything else. You didn’t have a choice in the matter…I forgive you. It’s not your fault.”

“Thank you for understanding.”

Hagan walks away with Chloe behind him. He unconsciously walks faster than her because of his frustrations and begins to feel pains in chest. Chloe picks up her pace to get to him.

She holds his chest and says, “Remember, you can’t be far from me.”

“Yeah.”

Hagan walks away from Chloe still frustrated.

“I thought you said you forgave me.”

“I do. I’m still frustrated by this situation. I know for a fact that you like it more than you’re showing.”

“Hagan…”

“I don’t want to hear it right now.”

Chloe holds onto Hagan’s arm, which gives him a little comfort. He unknowingly goes along with her holding his arm until he realizes when they get back to their settlement. This is when he pulls his arm away from her. As they approach the small settlement set in a secluded prison, Hagan wishes the snipers would shoot them since he knows they can see him, but they don’t. The people in the settlement signal the doors to be open with an orange light to signal caution. Brandy, Hagan’s girlfriend, walks out of the doors armed with a shotgun and two other guards who have submachine guns. She has a condescending but worried look on her face. The three point their guns at Hagan and Chloe as they get closer.

Hagan says, “Brandy…I’m sorry. It was a trap set by the infected. I think they meant to get people like us so this could happen.”

“Then I should’ve been there instead,” Brandy says, “Do you remember where we first met?”

“On a grade school trip. We were at the docks and that’s where I got your number.”

“Good. You’re still conscious. Chloe, do you remember the first time we met?”

“We met in pre-school.”

“That’s right. Well…I guess we can’t do anything now. I already have someone calling the CDC to come here to cure you. Hopefully, this’ll turn out to be something good especially since you two have the cure for this virus in your blood.”

Since human blood and the virus are synergized when a couple is infected, their blood can be taken and used to create a cure that makes normal humans immune to the virus. It can also cure cannibals assuming they haven’t been infected for a long time or if their bodies aren’t heavily damaged.

“That’s good. I’m thinking that if the cannibals thought of this plan, then they’re probably going to keep tabs on us since they can sense us. Get the defenses ready if they do attack,” Hagan says.

Chloe brings up the fact that, “Wouldn’t it be better if we just secluded ourselves away from here? We’re going to be putting everyone in danger.”

“I didn’t trust you with Hagan when you weren’t infected. What makes you think I’ll trust you when you’re like this?” Brandy counters, “We’ll hold the two of you in separate cells, so nothing happens when you’re sleeping. I’ll be guarding you two during the day.”

“Brandy, I…”

“This is final, Chloe. We aren’t going to argue about this. Hagan, explain everything to me.”

Hagan explains what happened to Brandy as they enter the prison. After his explanation, Brandy lets the other guards go to help the others prepare for a possible attack by the cannibals. The three young adults who were close friends only a couple of hours ago sit in silence as if they were strangers.

“We may be infected but we can still help around the prison,” Hagan speaks up.

“It’s fine,” Brandy responds, “We have twenty well-armed people here. You don’t need to worry about them. Just worry about yourself for now. Oh, and take this gas mask. You’ll need it.”

“Thanks.”

As Hagan takes the gasmask, Brandy shakes her head.

“I can’t believe this happened to you of all people with her in the mix.”

“Me too. I’m sorry I didn’t prepare for something like this to happen.”

“It’s not your fault.”

Brandy stares at Chloe who’s been staring at Hagan for a while now.

“Eyes off him, Chloe. You don’t want to lose control of yourself.”

“Oh, I…I…”

“Yes?”

“You shouldn’t worry about him anymore. He’s mine now.”

“Excuse me?”

“I…I’m sorry. I don’t know what came over me.”

“That better have been the case. Go take a cold shower. That should help you keep control of yourself.”

“Hagan has to come with me.”

“Oh, that’s right. I guess you’re never taking another shower until the CDC come then. I think you two should get some rest before dinner. It should calm your minds.”

Hagan and Chloe sleep in separate cells with their doors locked while Brandy heads off to help the rest of the prison prepare for an attack and getting her mind off the situation to calm her mind as well. During his sleep, Hagan feels his heart slowly begin to beat. He can hear the beating of Chloe’s heart from the other side of the wall and the two hearts beat together as if calling out to one another. His breathing starts to slowly intensify as his heart keeps beating intensely. Before he knows it, the heart he feels on the other side moves into his cell until a presence lays on him and holds him.

His heart starts beating faster as he starts to feel warm and elated. The presence on top of him brings their beating hearts together and makes him more euphoric. Hagan then starts receiving kisses, which makes him uncontrollably kiss back and feel this presence. He starts getting licked then scratched as this keeps going on. The presence on top of him is pushed off. He then panics and tries to reconnect with it but is held down before being drenched in cold water and slapped several times.

He wakes up to see that Chloe managed to break open their cells and get to him. Three guards are holding her back while pouring cold water on her to calm her down. Brandy shakes her head with her hands on her face.

“I should’ve remembered,” she says.

Infected female mates who are infected are much like female insects who are stronger than their male counterparts. They are harder to calm down, easier to arose, and are usually violent during sexual intercourse.

“Brandy…I’m sorry I didn’t resist. I was sleeping and barely had any control over myself,” Hagan explains.

“You could’ve…Nevermind. I understand. We have to talk.”

“Look, when the CDC comes here, things will go back to normal, which includes our town!”

“I’m not sure that will happen. A large group of cannibals is coming this way soon. If we can’t hold out, you have to survive. You two are what humanity needs to get more of the cure.”

“Don’t talk like that Brandy!”

“I’m just saying if.”

“It won’t happen. I’ll help you defend the prison.”

“Then grab a gun and let’s rock.”

“That’s what I like to hear.”

Hagan and Chloe arm themselves with submachine guns and shotguns before going to the wall above the gate with Brandy. An almost uncountable number of cannibals arrive in the distance and surround the prison. They stop a few feet away from the prison to make sure the humans see their numbers to instill fear into them. They then walk forward with confidence and a smile much to the surprise of the humans.

A prison guard says, “There were supposed to be traps on the outside of the prison. What-”

Four people are shot in the legs by cannibals acting like normal humans before they turn vicious. Everyone outside retreats in and ten of the twenty people in the prison are already infected within a matter of minutes with no causalities on the side of the cannibals. Two virgins are infected, but they quickly shoot themselves in the head for fear of what might happen.

The humans try in vain to hold out in the prison as the cannibals find their way in without trouble due to their numbers and infiltrators. Six more virgins are infected but kill themselves as the others did. What seems like an hour passes until the battle is finally over. In actuality, it’s only been ten minutes. Hagan and Chloe stand with their guns pointed at the cannibals who don’t do anything but smile in victory.

“Oh, no…Brandy,” Hagan says as he sees her walk out of the crowd of cannibals infected.

She smiles at him then says, “It’s okay, Chloe. You can have him. He’s yours to do with whatever you please.”

Tempted by the thought, Chloe tries to resist doing anything.

“We’re leaving here, Chloe!” Hagan says as he tries to get her to move.

The cannibals say to the two, “You won’t last long.”

“You might as well give in now.”

“You’re only making this more difficult for yourself.”

“If you have children now, you’ll be helping humanity. Not damning them.”

“Give in to your desires.”

“You’ll live happily together.”

Chloe is stunned by the cannibals’ tempting thoughts which makes it almost impossible for her to move.

“Damn you! I’ll get help for you, Brandy. Just you wait,” Hagan says before dropping his heavier guns, picking Chloe up, and retreating into the forest.

The cannibals just smile as they run away, confident that the two of them will eventually give in. After miles of running, Chloe begins to lose herself. She touches Hagan’s chest before kissing his neck. Seeing that he’s near a small stream, he throws her into it to calm her down, but the light splash barely has an effect on her, so he holds her down in it until she calms down. The two are now near a small safehouse location not too far from the town.

As Chloe collects herself, she says, “I’m sorry, Hagan.”

“Whatever. We can’t do anything about the people we lost. We can only hope the CDC gets here soon so we can cure the ones who didn’t die.”

“Hagan…”

“I’m going to sleep in the basement of the shack and I’m going to lock the door. You can sleep in the bed upstairs. If you need something, just knock, but don’t lose yourself again like you did in the cells or I might kill us both like the others did.”

“…”

“I know how you’re feeling, and I’d give you a hug to make you feel better, but I can’t. Just know that I’m going to do my best to take care of us and that we get through this.”

“Thanks.”

“Get some sleep. We’re probably going to need it.”

 

 

Chapter 2 – Together in the Worst Way

Memories of last night play over and over again in Hagan’s dreams as he sleeps. He tries to do different things, but he always fails. He set the traps himself, but the infiltrators stop him. Killing the infiltrators before they strike doesn’t help them win. Killing Chloe doesn’t help. Killing himself doesn’t help. Almost giving into his temptations doesn’t help. Killing everyone in a rage doesn’t help him calm down.

Scratching and banging on his cellar door wakes him up. He rubs his face a couple times and holds his head after going through the same event multiple times.

“Okay, I’m coming!” he says as the scratching gets on his nerves.

He cautiously opens the cellar door to see Chloe on the floor. She’s tired and her face makes her look more exhausted than she really is. Because of their connection, they need to be in close proximity to each other or else they begin to feel depressed and dreary.

“Do you need something, Chloe?”

“I need your help.”

“With what?”

“I just want you to help me.

“You gotta tell me what it is so I can help you with it.”

“Just give me a hug so until I can feel better. I promise I’ll control myself once I feel okay.”

Hagan can’t lie that he feels okay, so he trusts Chloe and helps her up then hugs her. The two begin to feel better then feel as if nothing horrible had happened yesterday. Once they start feeling overly joyful, they stop hugging and go to the opposite sides of the room.

“Thank you, Hagan. I really needed that.”

“Me too, admittedly.”

“Can I have another?”

“No.”

“Oh…right. What are we going to do until the CDC comes? Just wait here?”

“That’s the plan. We should probably keep as much distance away from each other as possible, so nothing happens.”

“You’re right. How long do you think it’ll take them to get here?”

“Three or four days maybe five. They always want blood from people like us even if we turn.”

“Maybe we should set up some defenses. The cannibals will probably try to coax or even force us to-”

“Right. I don’t want to think about it, no offense.”

“None taken.”

“There should be supplies to make defenses downstairs.”

“I’ll help.”

Hagan and Chloe start putting sensors, hidden explosives, and nearly invisible tripwire around their location. Once he’s done his part, he checks where Chloe is to find that most of her traps are set up, but she’s gone. Before he calls out for her, he is shot by a tranquilizer dart and taken with Chloe to a location deeper in the forest. When he wakes up, he sees that he’s in a hole deep in the ground with Chloe, who is unconscious. There’s a light above them with a pulley and ladder that are completely out of reach. Hagan no longer has his pistol and gas mask on him, which makes things worse.

“This isn’t good,” he says to himself before yelling out, “Hey! Why did you bring us here?”

A man in hunting attire looks down into the hole and says, “I intercepted your message to the CDC. They’ll pay me a high price for you especially if you get your girlfriend pregnant.”

“She isn’t my girlfriend!”

“But you do like her a lot. You have to in order to be infected the way you are. Anyway, good luck down there and get it on. I’ll be recording you.”

“You sick fuck!”

The man above the hole goes silent. Hagan’s vision clears up a bit as he sees a camera above him that’s now recording Chloe and him below. Chloe is awake and appears to have heard everything.

“Chloe…” Hagan says as he tries to back as far into the hole’s interior as much as possible.

“Hagan…what are we supposed to do?”

“Uhhh…oh!” Hagan moves closer to Chloe so the man can’t hear him, “If I throw you upward, you can bring the ladder down.”

“Are you sure? We might only have one chance at this.”

“It’s our only shot.”

“Do you really trust me with this? What if I lose control?”

“I’ll handle it. Don’t even think about that and let’s just do this.”

“Okay.”

Because the two were so close, they’ve started to feel euphoric. Hagan and Chloe look into each other’s eyes and start to breath heavier. Their lips almost connect before Hagan turns away, kneels down, and cups his hands together. He nods his head and hopes that Chloe gets it together. It takes a couple of seconds for her to snap to her senses, but when she does, she takes as many steps back as she can before leaping onto Hagan’s hands. He throws her up into the air, but she misses the ladder by an inch and falls down. Not wanting for her to get seriously hurt, he manages to catch her. Because of this, Chloe is even more euphoric than before.

She uncontrollably kisses him then pushes him up against the walls while violently scratching his back. Hagan only has a shred of self-control while he uses his built up energy to knee and kick Chloe away. He manages to do it and kick her away from him. She lunges back at him, but he quickly dodges her and gets to the other side of the hole. He uses his strength to jump on Chloe’s shoulders then leap off her. His two fingers manage to grab the end of the ladder. Using them, he lifts himself up and goes up the ladder to see the man in the hunting attire.

He holds his hands up then smiles and laughs, “I didn’t know half infected like you could do that. I guess I underestimated you.”

Hagan stares at the man in frustration and walks to the man while backing him into a corner.

“Hey, listen to me. I’m just trying to survive out here. We can split the reward that comes from you. You can take eighty percent of it!”

“I don’t give a damn!”

Hagan uncontrollably bites the man’s face cheek off, which infects him. He then throws the man in the hole where Chloe is hoping to knock her out with his body. This doesn’t happen and there isn’t any cold water close by to help her calm down. Instead, he finds a metal neck collar with a long pole attached to it. It appears to be something used for dangerous criminals. He grabs this before letting the ladder down for Chloe.

When Chloe comes up, Hagan puts the collar around her neck. The collar appears to work as it allows him to keep a safe distance away from her. In a fit of lust, Chloe tries to break the metal bar separating her from her love, but the bar is too hard to break. The infected man comes up after Hagan gets used to controlling Chloe.

The infected man says, “I used that to control other infected, but you don’t need it. I’m jealous of you, man. If only I can have a lady like yours.”

Hagan takes his pistol from the desk where the man has his things at and shoots the man in the leg. The man screams then laughs before getting shoot in the other leg and falling down.

Again, the man laughs then says, “You’re going to give in eventually with that attitude.”

“Don’t bet on it,” Hagan says as he leaves with Chloe in a neck collar and with his gas mask on as temporary protection against her breath, kisses, and bites.

It doesn’t take too long to get back to their shack, but it’s a hard journey for Hagan who has to drag along his old best friend like a wild animal. He tries to calm her down by sticking her in the cool water, but it barely has an effect on her. Frustrated by everything that’s happening to him, he brings her inside and chains her to an iron bar inside the shack. He then points a gun at her face while she continuously reaches and claws for him. The condition she’s in is enough to bring him to tears. He then points the gun at his own head, which starts to make her worry. Chloe winches and starts to cry too while waking up from her uncontrollable desires. Feeling her emotions, he puts the gun away and pulls up a chair near her.

Hagan sits down and says, “Do you remember what we planned to do when we got old? We wanted to buy this shack and have all of our friends and family live in it once we made it bigger, of course. Brandy and a few others thought the idea was stupid, but we kept it in our minds. It was such a stupid storybook-like idea, wasn’t it? I don’t know why I’m telling you about this, but I feel like telling you it to remind you of the particular bond we share.

You and I used to be the best of friends. Remember when we used to go out every Friday after school for ice cream? Remember when we used to have a sleepover every time we had a party? Remember when we used to tell stories of a better life at night after the infection started? Those nights kept me alive and hopeful.

I don’t know if it’s the infection making me feel this way and talk like this. I just want to give into these desires I have, but I don’t want to lose myself to you like that. If we actually do end up being together, I’d want to do it the proper way by marrying you. I love you that much Chloe.”

Chloe snaps out of her trance and says, “I love you, Hagan.”

“Chloe…I’m sorry about the way I’m talking to you.”

“No, you’ve helped me go back to normal.”

“I guess. You’re going to have to stay like that for tonight because of what happened.”

“I understand.”

“Thank you.”

For the rest of the day, Hagan feeds and talks to Chloe while she’s chained up until they have to rest for the night. Meanwhile, a group of cannibals notice that they’ve been able to overcome the worst scenario. They now plan to make sure they have sex by convincing the two. If convincing them doesn’t work, then they’ll just force them to have sex. These cannibals are confident that they’ll accomplish their self-assigned task because of their particular past relationship with them.

 

Chapter 3 – Forced Consent to Love

When Hagan wakes up in the morning, he feels Chloe holding him. He makes sure that he isn’t dreaming, and once he realizes that he isn’t, he swiftly feels himself to make sure that she hadn’t done anything to him while he slept. He then remembered that if his body did succumb to his lusts, then he would’ve completely lost his ability to reason. All of the chains and the metal bar that was holding Chloe are broken. She has a few scratches on bruises on her from breaking free, but she sleeps peacefully regardless of them.

Hagan tries to carefully wiggle his way out of Chloe’s grips, but she just holds him tighter until she eventually wakes up. She quickly backs up and falls off the bed.

“I didn’t…did I?” Chloe asks.

“No. It doesn’t seem like it.”

Wondering if they’ve grown used to the virus, they move closer together until their lips are almost touching. They see how long they can stay like this until Chloe tries to lick Hagan’s face. He doesn’t finch and just closes his eyes as a sign of his trust in her, but her tongue never touches his face. Chloe manages to struggle against her desires and push herself away from him until she calms herself down.

“It looks like what happened to us yesterday allowed us to better control ourselves,” Hagan says.

“It looks like that. Does that mean-”

“No, you can’t sleep with me.”

“Hahaha, you knew what was on my mind, but no. Does this mean we won’t lose control of ourselves?”

“I hope so, but we can’t let our guard down.”

“We should practice.”

“We shouldn’t. You know on second thought…”

“Yes?”

“I should probably chain you back up just to be safe.”

“Don’t even try it.”

Hagan starts laughing as he picks up the broken chains and pushes Chloe up against the wall. She starts laughing and pushes back at him and onto the ground.

“The upside of this infection is that I’m stronger than you. It’s like I’m a black widow and you’re the lowly male spider,” Chloe says while on top of him.

“But here’s the difference,” Hagan says as he reverses their positions, “I’m a human man. If I wasn’t, then we would’ve completely lost ourselves yesterday.”

“You’re also you. That’s the part that I think is the strongest.”

“I could say the same thing about you.”

The two are infatuated just by looking at each other, but this isn’t caused by the virus even though it’s bugging them to take things further. The sound of walking outside in the forest gets them to get up and take out their guns to investigate what’s outside. To their shock, all of their past friends and family are here completely infected.

Brandy steps out of the crowd and says, “I see that Chloe isn’t pregnant yet. That’s surprising. Usually, couples have sex during the first three days.”

“What are you doing here, Brandy?” Hagan asks her with his pistol out.

“I’m just here to check up on my ex-boyfriend and best friend. I want to reassure them that I approve of whatever dirty things they want to do to each other especially you, Chloe. I remember that you’ve known Hagan longer than I have and that you’ve always wanted to be with him, but I stole him from you.”

Hagan’s dad steps forward, “You don’t need to worry about having to marry her first. Just take her, son.”

His mom adds, “And give me the grandchildren I’ve always wanted!”

Chloe’s dad says, “Chloe, I remember how many times you cried for being without a boy to call your own. Now’s your chance.”

Her mom adds, “It’s okay if you rough him up a bit, honey. I did the same to daddy.”

Two of Hagan and Chloe’s friends step forward. Both of them were virgins who were infected. Unfortunately, they gave in and it shows with the young girl’s lower half being barely held up by tons of duct tape and bandaging.

The young man says, “It’s okay, bud. You’ll be a father, which is great if you ask me. If you’re worried about how many children you’ll have, you shouldn’t. We have triplets and we know people who’ve had more than four children at once.”

The young girl says, “It’s just a one-time thing. You can also have sex as many times as you want after without worrying about more children if that’s what you’re worried about.”

Their friends and family continuing giving cases and reassurances that them having sex as they are is good and pure.

Brandy finishes it off by saying, “How can you disagree with us after we gave you so many reasons? Now come you two, get it over with. We won’t mind even if you do it in front of us.”

Hagan and Chloe have managed to keep their composure though they are horrified at what the virus has done to those they held close. They raise their pistols back up to show their defiance.

Brandy smiles then says, “I see that you have enough ammo to kill all of us, but will you? If the CDC gets here, you’ll have a chance to save us.”

“That’s the plan,” Hagan asserts.

“But here’s the thing. We’re going to force you two to have sex whether you like it or not.”

“What? You wouldn’t dare…”

“We will. You’re going to have to kill us because we need your children.”

The crowd of former friends and family start closing on the two.

Confident in the plan, Brandy says, “What’s it going to be, Hagan? Are you going to kill your sweet, loyal girlfri-”

Hagan shoots Brandy in the leg.

“Consider this as our break up.”

“Aw, what a shame. Not!”

The cannibals switch to being aggressive and rush towards the two. They run away while firing at those they love and wanted to save. Hagan puts on his gas mask in case he is caught. Several of them are killed, but many still remain. The two are forced to run into the town in search of a shelter to defend themselves in. They run into a white church with two large white doors and dead flowers by the broken windows. Regrettably, the two are overwhelmed by aiding cannibals who restrain them until their infected friends and family catch up. The aiding cannibals leave the church and let the others take over.

Brandy begins ripping off Chloe’s clothes. She says, “You know, I’ve always been jealous of your body. You have bigger tits and a bigger ass. I’ve caught Hagan checking those features out on you and now’s the time to fulfill his desires.”

Hagan’s clothes are being ripped apart by his friend, but he manages to get his pistol and knife and kill him and keep his gas mask on his face. He then quickly gives Chloe back her pistol so she could defend herself. In a matter of five minutes, Hagan and Chloe dispatch of everyone they cared about thanks to their enhanced infected abilities. Cautious about the other cannibals, they head out to see that the cannibals aren’t bothering them and appear to be regrouping to plan something different. They use their downtime to find temporary shelter.

The closest shelter they find is Chloe’s old house. During the first days of the outbreak, it was boarded up and fortified until Hagan got Chloe and her family to move to the prison. Her family didn’t make it to the prison during the long walk there. Presently, the house is still intact along with its defenses. Inside, it appears to be virtually untouched. Chloe gets a pair of her old clothes with a white shirt and skirt are the only thing she finds appealing to wear at the moment. Hagan finds her father’s old leather jacket and pants and gets rid of his torn up clothes and puts his gas mask on the side. After changing and finally getting a moment to rest, the two sit down on the old couch they spent so many days watching TV, playing video games, and sleeping on together.

So much has happened that there are no real words to say. Instead, they look at each other then embrace one another until they stop crying. After a little while of calming down, they fall asleep. Chloe is the first one to wake up and goes upstairs to her room to look for something to keep her preoccupied until Hagan wakes up. She finds her old piano and starts to play it, which wakes him up.

He goes upstairs and says, “Hey, I remember playing that in school.”

“Oh, I’m sorry I woke you up.”

“It’s no big deal. I wasn’t dreaming of anything good anyway. You’re playing really well.”

“Thanks. I’m still a bit rusty though.”

“Hey, can you play that one song we made up?”

“Are you serious?”

“Why not? Hold on, I think I remember where we last left it.”

“You aren’t embarrassed that we wrote it together?”

“No, why would I be?”

“It sounds like something out of a fantasy story fan fiction.”

“I still like it. Maybe I’m weary and not thinking straight, but I really like the song.”

“Why’s that?”

“Because we wrote it.”

“That’s it? That’s the reason?”

“Yeah. Is there something wrong with that?”

“N-no.”

“Here it is…”

“Is it as ‘good’ as you remember?”

“It’s still great.”

“Let me see it.”

As Chloe reads the song she wrote with Hagan many years ago, the memories attached to them start flooding back to her. She starts to feel a little emotional, but she holds back her emotions for now.

“Do you really want me to play this?”

“I do. I’ll even sing the lyrics with you.”

“You want me to sing too?”

“Why not?”

“I’m not that good at singing.”

“There’s no one here to harshly judge your singing. Besides, I think you have a great singing voice.”

Chloe taps the piano keys a few times to ready herself before playing the song. Hagan puts his arms around Chloe as they sing together in-sync.

 

Once upon a time, I believed in true love

One that would lift my soul up above

All the suffering the tears

A true love that would save me from my fears
What if this is what I’ve dreamed of?

What if all my dreams start to come true?


Will I just sit here and hesitate?

Can you show me that you’re truly my soul mate?

Or will you leave me in the dust

Like all the rest?


What if this is the day that I become free?

What if you’re all that I’ll ever need?

What if I give my heart to thee?


What if you’re God’s gift to me?

What if this is the love I’ve been dreaming of?

What if this is that love?


Your presence gives me joy

You make my heart sing

The thought of you is something my mind can’t avoid

What more can your love bring?


What if this is beyond what I’ve dreamed of?

What if more than my dreams come true?


I can’t just stay here

I need to be with you

Or else you’ll disappear

And my suffering will begin anew


What if this is the day that I become free?

What if you’re all that I’ll ever need?

What if I give my heart to thee?


What if you’re God’s gift to me?

What if this is the love I’ve been dreaming of?

What if this is that love?


What if I regret our love?

What if I end up hurting you?

I couldn’t live with myself.

What if it’s better to be alone in my despair?


No, I’m not afraid anymore

With you, I can accomplish anything

I will be happy as long as I’m with you


This is that love I’ve dreamed of and more

You are all that I adore

You and I will be together forevermore

 

After the song finishes. Chloe puts her hands on Hagan’s. He then kisses her lips and she kisses him for a long time. The infection within them doesn’t stir up as it is suppressed by their self-control.

Hagan then says, “I’m sorry if that was a bit sudden.”

“Are you going to blame the infection for that?”

“No, I’m not. I really do love you, Chloe.”

“I love you too Hagan.”

After embracing, Hagan and Chloe head out to the old supermarkets to get food. The infected haven’t eaten much of the stock there since they don’t need to eat as much as normal humans. They have also managed to keep the power on since they need the food to be relatively fresh as well. The new couple get the snacks and junk food they used to eat when they were children. They relax as if they were kids with TV and games until they pass out on top of each other from the all of the sugar they ate along with all of the energy they used.

 

 

More souls go to hell because of sins of the flesh than for any other reason.

– Our Lady of Fatima

Chapter 4 – The Sins of the Parents

A ruckus outside wakes up Hagan and Chloe. They quickly head out to see four children with crates. Neither Hagan nor Chloe can sense any kind of infection in them, so they go after the kids and find them in a small storage shed. The kids look at them and put their hands up.

Chloe says, “It’s okay. We aren’t cannibals.”

The kids lower their hands then smile.

One of them says, “That’s a relief! I thought everyone in town was a zombie.”

“What do you have in the crates there?” Hagan asks.

“It’s something important that we need to hide from the CDC.”

Hagan opens the crates to find pistol, shotgun, and assault rifle rounds with the cure in them.

“Why is that?”

“Because if they shoot our family with them then they’ll die. You know if someone who was infected for a long time is injected with the cure then they’ll instantly die.”

“Where did you even get this?”

“From a crashed car that was carrying these.”

“Who was driving the car? Was it the CDC?”

“No, they were just normal people. The zombies ambushed the car but didn’t find the cure in it.”

“The ‘zombies’ don’t bother you?”

“No, they don’t bother people our age. They just act nice. I think whatever is making them sick is lethal to us.”

“Oh, that’s right. I remember that.”

Hagan starts taking the pistol clips that have the cure in them and loads his gun with one of them.

“What are you doing mister? We need to get rid of that so our parents will be safe!”

“How do you know your parents are in danger?”

“The zombies told us that the CDC is coming for a couple. You’re them, aren’t you? I can tell because of your light blue eyes.”

“We are.”

“Please, don’t go to them to be cured. We want to keep our parents alive.”

“I’m sorry, but they’re already dead. We’ll put them out of their misery for you.”

“How can you do that?! The zombies are like normal people.”

“But they eat people. That’s why we call them cannibals.”

“They also eat normal food. They even make people longer.”

“So what? All the cannibals do is lie in wait to trap the next human person to satisfy their cravings. It’s a short-sighted lifestyle that isn’t worth losing all sense of reason and morality for. It doesn’t look like any of this cure has been used. Come here so I can inject some in you, so you don’t become like them.”

“No.”

“What do you mean no?”

Chloe says, “Hagan, you’re using a gun on them. They’re probably afraid of being shot.”

“These bullets with the cure in them shouldn’t hurt from what I know. They don’t even feel like normal bullets.”

“I’m still afraid of being shot.”

“It’ll be like getting your flu shot.”

“What’s a flu shot?”

“There we go.”

Hagan turns around and shoots the kids. Three out of four of them shrivel and die after being cured.

“How did you know they were infected?”

“Normal people usually confirm with others that they’re normal by asking them a question about something way in the past. They also don’t know what a flu shot is even though a kid their age should know what one is. It’s weird that we couldn’t sense their infection though.”

“That was smart.”

“Now what I don’t get is you. Stop playing dead.”

Hagan kicks the one kid who is still alive.

“Please don’t kill me!” the kid says while on his knees and his hands covering his face.

“It’s obvious that you were born of two cannibal parents. How come you’re different?”

“I don’t know!”

“Did you do anything that they didn’t do?”

“I never ate people. I only ate regular food.”

“I’ve never heard of a kid of cannibals never eating other people. I guess every not every kid born of those cannibals don’t all become monsters. Life must’ve been hard for you, kid.”

“It was because I couldn’t go a day without craving someone to eat, but for some reason, that craving is gone now.”

“It’s probably because we cured you.”

“It was?! Thank you so much!”

“You should probably hide somewhere close until the CDC gets here. If they see you with us, then they might think you’re our child and we’ve already lost our humanity.”

“Okay, I will! Thank you again!”

The kid heads off to a hiding place. Hagan hands Chloe some of the pistol magazines with the cure in it. He also finds a flare gun in one of the crates with a single shot in it.

“These cure bullets kill cannibals in one shot no matter where they get shot. We’re going to need it,” he says.

After the two head out of the storage shed, they head to the lighthouse to see if the CDC is approaching yet. Along the way, they come across cannibals who don’t engage them or bother with them. Most seem to fear the couple while others mumble behind their backs. The two ignore them for the most part.

Before getting to the lighthouse, Hagan says to Chloe, “Hold on. There’s something in the jewelry store I’ve always wanted to get.”

“Is it really important?”

“It is. Come on, it’s not like the CDC is here already. We would’ve heard fighting and gunshots by now.”

“Okay.”

Chloe and Hagan go into the jewelry store. She looks around the store while Hagan goes directly what he wants for in the drawers and pulls out what he wants and puts it in his pocket.

Chloe turns to him and says, “What are you getting?”

“This.”

Hagan pulls out a diamond knife.

“Oh, I remember that.”

“You remember it too? The owner used to take it out a lot to show it off and intimidate possible robbers. He used to show me how easily it cut almost anything.”

“Where is he now? I don’t think I saw him get killed or infected.”

“I think he left a week or so it began and is vacationing on an island somewhere. Lucky guy that he is.”

“Did we really come in here for just that?”

“Yup.”

Chloe sighs then walks out of the store.

“What? It’s a cool knife! Useful too.”

Once he gets what he wants, Hagan and Chloe leave and go to the lighthouse. They head up to the very top and wait while looking out for any sign of the CDC.

“Do you remember the first time we were up here?” Chloe asks.

“Yeah. We always used to imagine the things that were out at sea. I remember thinking there were magical lands out there to explore with dragons and treasures.”

“Besides that.”

“I remember thinking about all of the sea monsters that were in the water depths. Remember the time I thought I saw Cthulhu? I read all about the different real and made up sea monsters. They made me want to stay on dry land.”

“What? No, besides that.”

“Lighthouse ghost stories?”

“No.”

“Then what is it?”

“You promised me you’d be with me forever here.”

“I know I did.”

“Then why didn’t you mention it?”

“Because I’m fulfilling that promise right now.”

“Oh. I thought after you were dated Brandy that you meant that you’d be with me forever as a friend.”

“I actually meant as a girlfriend when I said it, but then things got complicated.”

“Complicated how?”

“You know, Brandy kind of took my attention away from you and ummm. It’s a long story.”

“You’re going to have to tell me when this is all done.”

“Oh boy.”

“Oh boy is right. You’ve got some explaining to do mister.”

“Hey, do you see that in the distance?”

“If you’re joking, then you’re going to have explain yourself in front of all the cannibals.”

“No, look!”

Using their binoculars they found in the lighthouse, Hagan and Chloe see three APCs heading into town with the CDC logo on them. Chloe and Hagan smile at the sight of the cure to their infection. Hagan shoots off his flare gun, so the CDC know where they are. Several cannibals head to the lighthouse to force the couple to do what their family and friends tried, but the two manage to hold out until the CDC arrives. Three teams of people in SWAT gear and gas masks get out of APCs and secure the area.

One of them approaches the couple and asks, “We’ve come to pick you up and take you to our camp outside of town. Please, come with us.”

Once they get in APC and drive off, Hagan says to the man, “Will we come back to the town?”

“We plan to clean it up then see what we can do from there. Were you two born here?”

“Yes, we were.”

“I understand that you want to revive this place to bring it back to the way it was. It looks like this’ll be a good place especially since it has its back to the ocean. We’ll consider it after the clean-up.”

“Thank you. There’s also this kid in the town that we need you to find. He’s already cured and found a few crates of bullets with the cure in it.”

“Three crates specifically?”

“Yes.”

“Then he might’ve found three stolen crates that we were looking for. He must be a special kid to find them by himself.”

“He sure is.”

Hagan and Chloe are taken to a small campsite where the CDC have tents and small defenses set up on a small hill. They are given a different version of the cure not found in the bullets to cure them of their condition. Once cured, their skin gets back its color, their eyes turn back to their normal colors, and Chloe’s lips turn back to normal. They kiss each other once they are allowed to be with each other again.

Hagan then says, “So…the diamond knife wasn’t the only thing I got in the shop.”

“It wasn’t? What else did you get?”

“Uh…this.”

Hagan gets down on one knee and shows Chloe a diamond wedding ring in a small golden box. She gasps and covers her mouth in shock.

“Wi-”

“Yes!”

“I didn’t even finish-”

Chloe kisses Hagan and pushes him to the ground.

Hagan then says, “I told you I’d marry you.”

“You did. I love you, Hagan.”

“I love you, Chloe.”

The people at the CDC can’t help but get emotional and clap for the couple. After that, Hagan explains to the CDC why they should immediately go back to rescue the cured kid, and they do that. The blood from the child of the cannibal’s results in a better form of the cure that requires a lesser dosage and ends up creating an airborne form of it. When the airborne cure is tested on the town, it results in the immediate death of the cannibals and the curing of those who weren’t too far gone. Not long after that, Hagan and Chloe are properly married and get the town back to the way it used to be with the added purpose of being a settlement for those looking for shelter in the new world. The airborne cure is spread throughout the country and more and more people are cured while the cannibals start to finally die off. The future finally looks bright after months of loss because of two people who were able to control their desires.

The End

Always One Step from Hell

Download the whole story for free on Smashwords – https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/916580

 

Chapter 1 – Lechery

It’s just another day. Nothing special. I clean the house, the yard, clothes, and everything else my husband and I own. My husband or my knight, I should say, is out fighting battles on behalf of God. He was never one for fighting, so I guess his calling is true. The Church is the only way I’m able to have this house and food on the table. In return, I act like a good Catholic wife and help the community if needed.

My life right now is rather drab. My knight left a few days after our wedding, so I don’t even have any children to raise, unlike my sisters and friends. I don’t even know if my husband will come back from the war. To give my life a little bit more spice, I’ve written short stories for the children I’ll hopefully get. I’ve also been practicing my drawing skills, so my husband has nice pictures and decorations to see when he comes home. Maybe the other people will see the drawings when I draw them outside and keep me company. We’re all friendly around here, but not exactly friends. I wish we were. It’s so lonely.

But it doesn’t have to be. There are some good men out there who could take care of me. My knight won’t know if I’m smart about it.

No, that’s a terrible thought. Did I really just think that? I hope not. This mundane life is getting my imagination going.  Sweep, dust, cut, wash, yadda, yadda. Sometimes I like to think I’m a princess in the making like those fairytales. I have my knight. All I need to do is make this humble home into a small castle.

I can do it with the right men. I’m sure they’ll do it for a young woman like myself. My looks got me married, so I’m sure they’ll get some men to work for me, especially if I flash a little skin at them.

Again, with these thoughts. I swear I’m not thinking of them myself. Maybe if I rest a bit outside of this dusty house, I can clear my head. The porch outside is one of the only things I’ve completely cleaned. I wonder what’s it’s going to be like outside here when I get kids. We have enough space out front for the kids to play without them getting in the way of people walking.

There are plenty of men out there who could give us wonderful children. There are rich, muscular, and hardworking men that walk these streets.

What’s going on? What’s with the look in their face? There’s something about them that makes them seem so…attractive. How can I smell them from here when they’re so far away? That masculine smell is intoxicating.

Why don’t you ask one of them out?

N-no. My life is fine with just one man in my life.

One man who might end up dead. Why not have one on standby just in case?

Hold on. Why are they walking towards me? What’s with the look on their faces?

They want you, Anita. Who doesn’t want an attractive housewife who’s good at taking care of her house? Look at them. Stare into the bright red light of their eyes and take their hands.

I…I’m going inside. I still have a few more things I want to do. What was that voice in my head? It sounded like me, but it said my name? Am I possessed or something? Holy Mary Mother of God pray for me a sinner and help me suffer through these temptations I’ve been given. I just have to get my mind off of it. Maybe I can read a book or two. Aaah! They’re coming in.

“Let us clean for you, Anita.”

“A princess in rags is no princess at all. Let us get you something wonderful to dress in.”

“Beautiful woman, who is confined to her house, let us ease your burdens.”

“Thank you for your concern, but I don’t need your help-hey! Let me down! Where are you taking me?! Aaaaaah!”

I manage to fall off them as they carried me, but I fell a long distance and now I’m in this town of arms? Why’s it so dark all of the sudden? The buildings, ground, and faceless people are made up of arms. I can feel them touching my feet as I walk over them. They feel so wrong but so right-stop! This is wrong! Who is that flying over here? Is that me? No, it isn’t, but she looks like me. Her eyes are angled strangely, and her long thick brown hair is the only thing covering her body.

“Do you feel them, Anita? They want you to embrace them.”

“You’re that voice I heard in my head! I have to mentally pray you away.”

“That’s not going to do anything. I always come back. Maybe it’s God’s will for you to embrace your desires.”

“No, He doesn’t!”

“How do you know what the will of God is? Oh, by all means, keep praying. It’s clearly helping you.”

The hands in the ground have me stuck in place! I can’t free myself from them.

“Get away from me!”

“These people made of hands only want to please you. Let them.”

“I won’t!”

I can’t break away from their arms! There’s too many of them.

“You’re a lonely housewife who wants her husband to come home to pleasure her. Why not do the job yourself or get someone else to do it?”

“I can wait for him to come home. I can!”

“Can you truly wait for him? Your resistance is fading. Your mind is numbing, and your control is fading. How long can you last?”

Fatigue is setting in. I’m so tired of not having any kind of meaningful relief in my life. All I get are small doses of fun and relaxation, but then I get back to my boring life. I need…I need…I need to…stay faithful. One mortal sin of being unfaithful to God and my husband can rightfully send my soul to Hell. I can already feel the heat from the Netherworld cooking my skin. My body is already so close to it that the demons are reaching out from it and use the tips of their fingers to scratch my face. I won’t let them have me!

“Until my death!”

I can feel my strength coming back to me. Yes! I can finally break through. I can get up-

“Ow!”

I hit my head on a cabinet. I must’ve fallen asleep while working. It looks like I slept through the night. Even though I slept in an uncomfortable place, I feel fine, but what was that dream?

 

 

Chapter 2 – Gula

My parish priest should know what’s going on with me. I talk with him and he tells me that I’m just facing normal temptations for being a devout wife and faithful Catholic. The more vivid dreams are just the demons taking advantage of my creative mind to tempt me in different ways. After confessing some unconfessed sins that I forgot to tell him last time, he reassures me that I’m a faithful wife and my knight is lucky to have me as his princess. He also reassures me that my knight will come back one day, maybe even earlier than I think. I thank him and tell him I’ll see him on Sunday.

Okay, I guess I’m not crazy. I just have to deal with these temptations for however long I’m supposed to. Temptations are supposed to show me my weaknesses and help me work to be a better servant of God. I can beat them if another comes my way. In the meantime, I have to do my grocery shopping for the week. The market is decently packed, so shopping should be easy today.

I should treat myself to more than usual. I have been working hard. I’ve been waiting for the perfect occasion to buy sweets and other ingredients to make the perfect meal for myself. There’s a discount on everything I want to, so this is the perfect opportunity to buy everything I want. It’s a lot to carry, but I can handle it.

Oh, now that I think about it, I might’ve gotten too much. Carrying all of this now is putting a real strain on my arms. I can’t return it, so…oh, there are some poor people on the street. I might as well give some of it to them.

“Bless your wonderful soul, miss! You will be in my prayers from this day forth!”

“I appreciate it. Thank you.”

“No, thank you. My prayers are the least I can do for you.”

At least I made someone’s day. The amount of food I’ve given away has really lightened what I need to carry. Oh, someone dropped some of their money.

“Hey! Excuse me! Mister? Ah!”

He’s not listening to me and the hole in his pockets makes him drop a little bit every time he moves erratically. I could just walk away or keep following him for more. No one is watching me pick up his loose change-Nevermind. It’s not worth it. I don’t need more money for myself. I’m fine the way I am.

“Excuse me!!!!!”

“Hello, miss. Is something the matter?”

“You’ve been dropping all the money in your pocket through the holes in your pants. Here’s everything I found.”

“Thank you, so much-ow! What is it, honey?”

“I told you that we should get those pants fixed! Thank you, miss. You have our gratitude and you will be in our prayers tonight.”

“You’re welcome. I’ll be sure to pray for you as well.”

“Pray for my husband. He’s going to need it.”

My husband better not do what hers did. He’ll be needing prayers too if he does. Back at home, I find some of the stuff I thought I gave away. That’s weird. I guess I bought extra, but I don’t think the price I paid reflected that. I’m not too good at math, so maybe I did. Again, I can’t return this, so I might as well enjoy the little that’s here. It’s not bad to treat myself a little every now and then.

Speaking about that, I could use new clothes. I could give what I have to the poor and give myself the new and pretty stuff. The clothes I have are becoming ugly. I’m sure the poor won’t mind it as long as it makes them comfortable for the weather outside. My closet holds a variety of clothes for the season, so I’m sure they’d appreciate it.

No, I’m fine with what I have. It’s not like I can’t fix the little tears in the clothes. I don’t go to any parties or fancy events to need better clothes. All I do is keep the house clean. I would ruin the expensive clothing and they would just take up space in my already tight closet, so there’s even less of a reason to buy them.

Hmmm, the food tastes good already. I’m going to eat a bit more for taste testing reasons. I could eat all of it right now. The ingredients I have make a good meal the way they are right now. Why should I wait until it becomes a complete meal? Sure, I could get sick, but…

Ew, now that I think about it, why did it taste good the way it is? Everything is barely cooked. Why did I like eating this raw meat to begin with? Am I that hungry? It won’t be that long until everything is ready, so I’ll wait.

Okay, almost…done! Everything smells delicious. It’s time to dig in! Yes! I’ve been waiting for this-I forgot to say grace. I know it’s not required, but I should be thankful for my meal at least before eating. I shouldn’t dig in like a pig either…okay. Now, I’ll eat.

I’m surprised I haven’t gotten any temptations yet though it feels like I have. Wait, have I? I think I have when I was shopping and cooking. These temptations don’t leave me alone even after going to confession. At least I didn’t give into them…I think. Eck. What’s this stuff on the table?

It feels like a greasy substance. I don’t think I dropped anything while cooking or eating. Where is this coming from? Now more of the table feels like it. Huh? There’s more of it. The house feels like it’s sweating this disgusting sticky substance. What’s going on? Huh? Someone came into the house? She looks like that previous demon that tempted me before except this one is fat and wears all black with black shoes. Her hair is extremely long and thick…almost thought something dirty there.

“Indulge yourself, honey. You deserve it.”

My table is full of food now even though I just ate everything.

“No, I’m not hungry. I’ve had my fill.”

“You haven’t had this kind of food in a while and you’re a hard-working woman.”

“I already gave myself a little bit more extra. I don’t need anymore.”

“Listen to yourself. You can feel how hungry you still are. Smell the food. Isn’t it delicious?”

It does smell delicious and it’s starting to make me feel hungry even though I feel full at the same time. I need to pray for strength.

“I…I just feel hungry, but I’m not. Leave me.”

“Just look at yourself. Your skin craves nourishment.”

“AAAAAAHHHHH!!!!”

There are mouths all over my arms, face, and I can feel them all over me. They crave food and drink. Their appetites will never be satisfied until they eat everything on the table and more. I…I won’t give in!

“I’m not some ravenous animal.”

Maybe I can cut off these mouths-Ah! One caught the blade with its mouth-Ahhhh! Then ate it and spat it out at me and now the blade of the knife is stuck in the ceiling. Thankfully, I avoided it without a scratch. I can’t remove these mouths with my hands either because they’re biting at me.

“Look at you. You can barely control yourself.”

“I can control myself!”

I have to get away from this food, but the floors are so slippery. It’s so hard to move around here. Great. One of the hands ate the door handle and I can’t get out this way. The smell of the food follows me through the house as I search for a way out.

“You can’t escape your temptations no matter how much you pray.”

“I can endure it!”

The mouths on my hands and feet try eating the floors and things around them. There has to be a way out of this. The way to control myself is primarily through prayer and self-control. Maybe I just have to forcibly shut the mouths on my body through my will. Here we go. I’m struggling to keep all of these mouths shut and I can’t move.

“Hey! Get that food away from me! I don’t need it!”

“Come on. Open up wide!”

I…have to…control myself! Don’t open your mouth. Don’t think about food. I’m not hungry. I don’t need anything to eat. I’m fine the way I am. Okay, I’m feeling better now. Huh? I must’ve eaten so much that I ate myself into a food coma. There’s a mess on the table and parts of the house seem dirtier than before for some reason. Thank you, God it isn’t greasy. There’s still some time in the day, so I might as well clean up. That’s another temptation overcome. This is difficult, but I can do this. I hope I can.

 

 

 

Chapter 3 – Avaritia

So far, I haven’t had any temptations today. Maybe my habit of saying the rosary has finally allowed me to take a break today. It’s either that or I’m too strong to be tempted. I hope that wasn’t me being prideful. Anyway, I managed to get a lot of cleaning done today and a surprise letter came in the mail. It’s from my knight.

The date on it says that he wrote it only a couple days ago. He should be coming home soon, and he mentions the kinds of things we’ll do when he gets home. Of course, I won’t mention everything since it’s…private, but he will make up for the time we lost. The money he’s earned for his services should keep him home long enough for both of us to take care of our children. He’ll have to get a normal job after, but at least we can raise our children together.

It’s almost time for bed. Something seems to be happening in town. I hear someone call for help and that they’ve been robbed by a thief. Looking outside, I see a man in black running away from city guards. Thieves aren’t common in this town since it’s a small town with nothing much to it other than its serenity. The thief seems to have dropped a few things while being chased. Since the guards didn’t pick up what was dropped, I go outside to see what was dropped and find a bunch of expensive looking jewelry.

No one else is out here, so I might as well take it. Who knows if that thief is out here alone? Maybe there’s another one out here who he dropped this jewelry here for? I pick everything up from the ground and make my way towards the jail. There I can leave the stolen items so the owner can pick them back up. Even though I don’t get anything out of it other than thanks, I should still make sure that someone responsible has it rather than just leave it here.

Or, I could just keep it for myself. No one else is out here and my house is a short distance away.

No, I…damn temptations. I’m bringing this to safety. There’s more on the ground. I guess I have to pick this up too since it seems like everyone else in town is sleeping. The trail of riches leads me to a house. This is weird. It seems like the guards didn’t catch the thief here. Maybe the thief thought he could drop off some of his stuff here or is this his house? Oh? There’s a hidden switch where some of this treasure is. Oh my, I find a basement filled with gold, jewelry, statues, and paintings. Is this the thief’s house or someone else’s? Maybe the thief accomplice and this is their treasure or is there another thief out tonight? I might be overthinking this.

Look at all this expensive stuff. How much is it all worth? Does the person who lives here own everything? How much of it is stolen? How did it all get stolen? So many questions, so many things. There are dresses and outfits here fit for kings and queens. If only I had this.

Maybe I can. The thief is probably long gone along with the guards. The rest of the town is asleep so I can take as much as I want.

I shouldn’t.

Why not? You are a princess to a knight after all.

“Princess!”

A couple knights come into the basement. They’re clad in gold and have golden weapons and shields.

“Who are you? Ah! Where are you taking me?”

We leave the basement and end up in a kingdom shimmering with gold. The people wear gold, the town is made of gold, and I’m wearing a golden outfit with a golden crown. This entire place shines as if it were the sun. I’m at the top of a castle, made of gold of course. Going into it, I find-! My husband who is dressed like the guards except he is wearing a very royal set of armor.

“Anita, you shouldn’t keep your children, your people, and I waiting,” he says to me with five children around him.

These five children are mine? People start coming in with gifts for me. Statues and paintings of me come in along with vases, furniture, food, drinks, and other luxuries are presented to me. It’s a lot. Do I really need all of this? A woman, who looks like me, goes from my side to in front of me. She has a weird look to her face, so she’s probably another demon.

“It’s not a question of need, but of want. All of this is being given to you at no cost to you. What’s better than treasures that cost you nothing?”

“All I need is the love of God and others like my husband. Everything else is extra.”

“This is the extra. Why not indulge yourself in it? You are a princess after all.”

“No, I’m not. This isn’t real.”

“Oh, but it can be! Take the treasures in front of you and you might have your own land to rule over. You might even obtain the kingdoms of the world if you take what you desire.”

“I don’t need it.”

I throw off my golden crown, take off my golden slippers and gloves, and go out the door into darkness. I’m not sure if my eyes need to adjust after being in the golden city for a bit, but I can’t see anything. Nevertheless, I walk into the darkness because it’s better than giving into temptations. What? What’s going on? My legs are turning into gold. They’re harder to move now as if my legs were asleep. AAAHHH! My legs just shattered into pieces. I have to get out of here.

That demon is behind me now.

“Come back and claim your treasure. The rest of you will break if you don’t come back.”

Now part of my face and part of my back feel stiff. They turned into gold too. I’m not going to turn back. This is all just a trick. There’s no way I’m going to give in. AAAHHHH! My face and back are shattered. I don’t know how I’m still alive, but I’m still going.

“You aren’t going to make it. Give in already. I’ll help you get back to safety.”

“Not going to happen!”

I don’t see an exit, but I feel one coming. Oh no. My right arm is turning into gold. It’s going to break if I don’t get to the exit soon. Come on. I don’t think I’m going to make it. Please, God. AAAAHHHH!

“God is just going to make you suffer more. Forget Him.”

“He’s just testing my faith in Him. I’ll make it through it. I trust in Him.”

I still have one arm. My body feels incredibly stiff, but I’m still moving. Almost there. The exit feels like it’s within reach. Here!

“Woah there miss! Explain to us why you’re carrying all of those stolen goods into here.”

I’m in the guards’ building. The thief is behind bars.

“I…I found this while you were chasing the thief. I thought I’d give them to you so you can get them to their proper owner.”

“You’re a model citizen miss. Please, let me help you lay it all down on the table. I’m surprised you carried all of this here. It’s incredibly heavy stuff. Hold on…I don’t remember some of this being dropped. Where did you find this?”

“On the streets dropped on the floor. Oh, and a trail of it led to a house with treasures in it. You didn’t chase him that house, did you?”

“No, it was a rather simple house. Lead us to it if you will.”

When I lead the guards back to the house, they find the thief’s accomplice and arrest her. She was hoarding the treasures they had in their secret basement after her husband had dropped them along the way. She was also doing a little thievery of her own during the night. Because of my efforts, I’m given a fairly large reward of gold. A guard writes a letter to the capital, so there’s going to be more of them here so that what happened here isn’t repeated.

Once all of that is done, a guard sketches my picture and puts it on their wall of model citizens along with what I did. The drawing isn’t too accurate, but at least they have my full name under it. I thank the guards and head back home for some well deserved rest. Huh? The sun is rising already? No rest for the weary, I guess.

 

 

 

Chapter 4 – Inertia

After last night, I feel exhausted. All of my energy feels completely drained, and I don’t feel like doing anything today even after sleeping until the afternoon. The house is collecting an odd amount of dust today. My strength only allows me to do so much before I feel like I have to sit down. The stiffness that demon caused me to be more tired than I’m used to. This challenge has probably been building up in me.

These days where I just uselessly labor away, cleaning the house, fixing things, and denying temptations just to do it all over again the next day without much rest. I just want a day or two where I do nothing and rest my mind without a care in the world. If I can do that, then I’ll have the strength to go back to my boring life again. It’s not wrong of me to ask for that, is it?

Because of my thoughts and tiredness, I’m not sure which thoughts are mine and which ones are my temptations. If they are one in the same to the point where I cannot tell the difference, then I’m in deep trouble. I know of saints that were never tired when they were doing more than I am. Am I so lazy that I can’t even do the meager tasks I’m supposed to? Am I allowed to rest today and maybe tomorrow to get my strength back? Am I being too scrupulous with myself?

The house is fine the way it is. If my knight came back in a few days and found the house dirty, then would he blame me for it? A lonely life of toiling away at a house that can never stay clean takes its toll on you after a while. It’s similar to life. You keep yourself healthy and happy until you eventually die. I shouldn’t think like this. I shouldn’t think at all today. The only thing in my mind is rest.

I’ve been getting up cleaning a bit then sitting down for most of the day. My eyes have been glued to the ceiling for what feels like hours. The sun is setting now, and I’ve barely done anything. I guess you can’t blame me after what I’ve been through mentally. Still, I could at least tidy myself for tomorrow.

My strength feels like it’s been completely sapped from me. Everything from my arms, legs, and body feel incapable of movement. If I could, I would just fall asleep on the floor and get up when I can whenever that might be. My mind has been going in circles for hours now with silence from time to time. Hopefully, tomorrow will be better.

What’s that over there? Is that another demon coming my way? It looks like me as drawn by a child. Completely green eyes, no noes, and a line for a mouth with brown hair and black clothes. It’s crawling towards me with its claw-like hands and I barely have the strength to move.

“Why move when you don’t need to? I’m so lazy that my legs have lost their function.”

“I’m not like you. Once I rest up, I’ll be back on my feet to do what I always do.”

“What you need to do is rest? Your knight might have pity on you and treat you extra special when he comes home.”

“He knows I’m not a lazy wife.”

“Then just rest for today. I’m not my other sisters. I won’t tempt you in any way. I’m too lazy to.”

“Good. You can leave me then.”

“I’m not that lazy.”

What’s coming out of the ceiling, the walls, and floors? Are those maggots or termites? They’re eating everything around them and they’re crawling on me. AAAAHHHHH! The maggots feel like they’re burrowing into my skin. They’re in my eyes and mouth! I have to move or else everything I have and am will be consumed.

“Decay does all the work for me. I don’t need to do anything. Your inactivity helps me as well.”

“Then you’re going to be disappointed.”

It takes everything I have to clean the maggots off me with whatever water I have. It’s incredibly painful to pick them out of my eyes and get them out of my mouth and ears too. Now I have to clean them from my floors. I get my mops and brooms to clean them from every surface of my house.

“Why are you worried about losing your house and everything in it? Blessed are the poor for theirs is the kingdom of heaven, right?”

“I’m still allowed to have my house. Plus, taking care of my house is my God given responsibility as a wife.”

“You’re going to lose everything anyway when you die.”

“This is still my responsibility.”

“Who’s going to care when works don’t get you into Heaven?”

“It’s faith show by works that show God that I am a willing servant of His that get you into Heaven. Not faith alone nor works alone. That and God’s sanctifying grace.”

“…I’m too lazy to come up with another argument. Three is usually enough.”

“You’re really talkative for being lazy.”

“It’s a problem I’m trying to get rid of.”

Most of the maggots and termites are gone now, but more are still appearing in the house. This demon is probably the reason why they keep appearing.

“Your maggots and you are really starting to get on my nerves. I think it’s time to leave. Holy Mary Mother of God pray for me a sinner and get rid of this demon torturing me.”

“Oh no, don’t invoke her. I hate her more than most saints.”

“Too bad.”

The demon is dragged out the door by an invisible force and the maggots and termites get sucked out with her. I’m almost afraid to rest now. Oh, I almost forgot to say my rosary for the day. To give my proper thanks to Mary, I say the rosary on my knees. If I’m allowed to rest, please give me a sign…

 

 

 

 

Chapter 5 – Ira

Ah! I must’ve fallen asleep while praying. Huh. I remember don’t holding my rosary at the end. I’m also laying down in bed with the covers on even though I clearly remember praying on my knees. My guardian angel probably put me in bed and finished my rosary for me. It’s a good start to a terrible day. For some reason, it’s one of those days where I drop things, stub my toe, hurt myself by accident, trip on nothing, and fall into the dirt.

Even though I’m aggravated, I thank God for my gifts and challenges, so that I may be a better person-and a bird just pooped on my head. Stupid bird! Don’t throw a rock at it. I won’t even hit it. Gotta stay calm. Go to keep mentally praying for strength-ack! I stub my toe again while walking back inside. Stupid, stupid, stupid! I just want today to be over. That’s not all I want to be over.

The cycle of waiting for my husband to come home and keeping myself busy repeats every single day. I swear this house is cursed because dirt and dust didn’t build up this quick in my parent’s house. It’s either that or I’m so bored that I notice even the smallest build up of dust. There has to be something else I can do. I could go to church and spend time there, but I pray most of the day anyway. What’s the point of doing it in a church if I can get results just by staying home? I don’t really know anyone in town since my house is far from most. The town itself is simple and small with nothing really going on in it. How did my husband convince me to move here with just the house and the look of the town as the main points?

Before I was bored, but now, I’m aggravated. Repeating the same things over and over in my head with no resolution is getting to me. No husband, no children, no friends, and no family. My temptations torture me every single day of my life with something new or something irritating old. I guess I shouldn’t ask for anything new to happen to me because that just makes my life more difficult. If I ask for things to stay the same, then I just get hit with the same temptations until they overcome me. No, I let them overcome me.

You’d think I’d learn to never fall to temptations, but I have. Repeatedly to the same ones too. Thankfully the only people that know about the sins I’ve committed are the priests at the local church, God, and my guardian angel, but that doesn’t excuse me for letting myself fall to weakness. I could’ve done something different. It would’ve been better if I did nothing, but no, I just had to feel better and run the risk of damning my soul to Hell. Thank you, God, for being so patient and forgiving because I would’ve gone to Hell several times by now. I just wish I had more help in my life. There has to be something good waiting for me around the corner. Woah! Are those?

“Hey! Ow! Oww! Stop it! Get away from me! Get out of my house!”

“There they are in that woman’s house!”

“Come on, we got our fill for now. Let’s go!”

Ah…ah. Those two were the thieves from before seeking revenge on me. The guards that were chasing them were the only thing that got them out of my house. Oh…no. They’ve torn up my living room and my clothes I’m wearing and hair…My house is a wreck now. I’m all beat up and bruised. All of that effort I put into being a good sinless wife has brought me, what? More difficult temptations to deal with and now a beating by criminals? And they’re going to come back for more?

These people don’t deserve mercy. They don’t deserve to be prayed for. The only thing I can think to ask God to give them is discipline, which I’m about to give to them. I can feel myself running faster than I usually do despite being injured. Maybe it’s because my skirt is torn in half or because I’m surging with rage. My newfound speed allows me to speed through the streets while avoiding the people around me until I see the thieves going into the forest. They manage to lose the guards, but they don’t lose me. These two have a little treehouse in the forest. Maybe it’s their backup location since their other one is compromised. Whatever the case is, it’s time for my revenge.

For some reason, I don’t even wait for them to separate or have their guard down. Once I get close to them, I barge into their hideout and use everything they have as a weapon. The statues, paintings, vases, and other valuables become my sword and shield against them. Before I could barely stand my ground against one of them, but now I’m able to fight both of them without even trying. It’s like I have multiple arms and my mind is thinking at the speed of light. Once they are down, a thief who is shorter than the man but taller than the woman shows up to fight me, but he’s no match for me. That felt liberating. All of my stress and built up anger is gone.

My vision clears to show me what I’ve done. The smaller thief seems to be the thieves’ teenage child. Rotten parents raise rotten children it seems. Looking down into an expensive mirror I broke, I can see the rage burning inside me. A fire burns my eyes and mouth. I do have multiple arms coming out of my back, which are all lanky, white, and slightly red. I look like a monster.

“This should teach you a lesson about stealing from others. I’ll pray for your soul, but I never want to see you again in this life again, got it?”

“W-w-we got it. Pl-p-ple-please leave.”

I’m not sure if this was a good decision anymore. Uck, I feel sick. Blech! Ugh. What’s going on? I’m puking fire? Is this the fire I saw within myself? My chest and mouth are burning as if I really did puke fire. The entire forest is on fire now because of the fire I puked. Is that a woman forming out of the fire? Her dress looks like fire itself and her face, eyes, and hair are similar to mine, but her hair has a red lining to it.

“So much for being a good wife and faithful servant of God.”

“I still am. I just lost myself a bit, that’s all.”

“Are you sure about that? Look around you. These are the fires that you held within yourself. Look at the people you hurt. You can come up with as many excuses as you want, but you know it would’ve been better if you didn’t do anything at all, a reoccurring problem for you.”

“I don’t need you to lecture me on what I should and shouldn’t do. All I need to do is go to confession, do penance, and be stronger next time.”

“I doubt you’ll get to confession in this situation.”

Multiple versions of the woman start coming out of the fire. They laugh and taunt me.

“Look at the freak.”

“She’s barely able to control herself.”

“What a child.”

“And a spoiled child at that.”

“She can’t even handle a simple, boring life.”

I fight off the taunting demons-blech! But now I’m puking more fire. My problem isn’t them. It’s me. I have to get out of here. Ah! Oww! These demons won’t stop hitting and mocking me. I can’t fight back or else I’ll keep puking fire and won’t be able to get out. These flames on me now, but I can’t put them out. There’s nothing I can do but run and run.  I don’t think I can make it! This burning is unbearable!

“Someone help me! I’m burning alive here! AAAAAAAAH!”

I’m sorry for what I did! I let myself lose control and embraced my anger. I’ll pay whatever price I have to. Just please have mercy! My whole body is engulfed in flames. If I die, I hope to be purified in the flames of Purgatory. Please, God, have mercy on me…

Huh? I’m…I’m alive? The forest isn’t on fire anymore and those extra arms I had are gone. I can see the thieves and their child getting arrested by the guards in the distance. That’s weird. I swear I got further away, but I’m very thankful for this mercy. It’s probably for the best that I’m this far away from them. Even though I might’ve deserved revenge, I don’t think I carried it out the way I was supposed to. It’s time to go back home and clean up…again.

Before the sun sets, some guards stop by and give me some funds for the damage that was caused by the thieves.

“It’s the least we can do,” they say, “We’ve also caught the thieves that have done this. They’ll be sent to a more protected jail for their crimes.”

“Thank you for the kind gift.”

“Don’t mention it. Have a good night, miss, and try not to make any more enemies.”

“Will do.”

They leave as I close the door. The money I have is enough to replace the things lost to me, but I’m afraid I lost something more when I fell to temptation. I’ll have to get up early in the morning to get absolution for my sins as soon as possible. I don’t want to make God think I don’t appreciate the second chance He’s given me.

 

 

 

 

Chapter 6 – Invidia

I say my confession and do my penance early in the morning. I’m surprised that the priest that gave me my penance wasn’t too harsh on me and was understanding. Of course, that’s how priests are supposed to be, but I thought what I did would’ve gotten me a long penance like community service instead of just praying the whole rosary twice in a day. Still, I’m glad that my soul is absolved of my sins. Hopefully, my next temptations aren’t as bad as yesterdays.

The two rosaries I said today should grant me sufficient protection, but I should do more. Today I work twice as hard on doing things that God would approve of. The inside and outside of the house are cleaned up after yesterday’s events. I’ve drawn more pictures to put up around the house. The stories I’m making for my children are almost done. There are some scary elements to it, but they should be able to handle it. My temptations have allowed me to expand my creative mind, so I’ve recently made more progress on these stories than I have before. I guess that means I’m facing these temptations the right way.

Whew! That was a busy day for me. It’s time to get some well-deserved rest now-hmm? What’s that noise outside? Oh, that’s right. The town has a little celebration because of the feast day of a few saints that’s associated it with it. It looks like most of the people in town are participating in it. I wish I could be a part of it, but I don’t have anyone to go with.

Those people are so blessed with their children, spouses, family, and friends while I have none of that. I’m on repeat with what my mind focuses and complains about. How can I not when I see people happier than me? All I do is housework all day with a few recreational activities. My husband might not be coming home to me while my sisters and friends didn’t have to deal with that. What friends do I even have when I think about it? The priests and merchants in town? Do those really count as friends?

What about family? They don’t even live in this town and I doubt they’ll ever move here. I was the only child to move out of the town that my family stayed in. Was that really the best decision? I know that I don’t have to worry about money now for the house and food, but is it worth it for a life like this? Temptations day and night…this was one of them. I hope I haven’t sinned in my thoughts. I just went to confession and did my penance too. I don’t think it’s a mortal sin if I did sin in my thoughts because those I did without full control of myself.

Am I making excuses for my sins again? What? What’s going on with my arms? They’re turning green and brown! It’s spread throughout my whole body now! AAAHH! Parts of me are falling off like before when they turned to gold, except I start to fall apart when I move. I have to stay still to stop from falling apart. What are these hands around me? I look up to see another demon who is posing as me. This one is wearing green and black instead of my blue and white. It has its hands over my head like it’s squeezing it, but despite it not touching me, I can still feel the pressure on my head.

“Keep thinking what you were thinking. There’s no shame in telling the truth of how you feel.”

“But I’m envious of others when I should be thankful of what I have. I shouldn’t be jealous of them. If anything, I should be praying for them. I’m sure they have challenges of their own.”

Parts of my body that I lost, like my right arm, are growing back. That’s good. I just have to keep praying in my mind to keep the temptations at bay.

“What about what you’ve gone through and are going through? You’re literally green with envy. Your body has turned into grass and dirt and falling apart as if you were turning back into the dust you were made from.”

“This is my cross to bear. I’ll do whatever God wants me to do.”

“Again, with these thoughts and devotions about God. Why can’t you fall in love with me?”

“Because what you call love isn’t love at all. I’ll only suffer more if I fall to your temptations.”

“You’re so stubborn, but you’ll fall again eventually.”

“I pray that I won’t.”

“Then you better keep praying.”

Images and sounds of people that I would be jealous of start filling my head. I’m shaking as I try to resist them, but this makes me begin to fall apart, so I have to try to stay still at the same time. I need better thoughts to counter these ones. Let me think. Uhhh, oh! I’m thankful for the life I have. My husband is a wonderful and strong man and I just know that I’m going to see him again. My house is nice and everything inside and outside of it is great. I’m thankful for my God-given skills as a housewife, artist, and writer. I pray for everyone who is suffering out there. I pray for the continued happiness of everyone who is currently happy and offer my sufferings as reparations for their sins. I pray for the souls in Purgatory. I pray for those who have yet to find salvation through the Catholic Church.

Huh? Where did the demon go? I’m back to normal, so I guess I did the right thing. I’ll have to reexamine my conscience then continue to pray for other people and myself. It’s a constant battle I always have to fight, don’t I?

 

 

 

Chapter 7 – Superbia

Today’s another great day to be good. I’ve already done everything I needed to yesterday so I can treat myself to some good relaxation today. I went to church early today, said my rosary, done my shopping, and even dressed up my house for my knight’s coming home. He could be coming home soon, so I set up the house to be extra nice for him. I can’t wait for him to come home and see the surprised look on his face. He should be so excited to see me that we might get to baby making as soon as he settles down. What knight wouldn’t want to do that when he comes home from war to a beautiful wife like myself?

I’ve always got a lot of food that we love ready to go. Since I got extra, I had a little for lunch already. I’m sure he won’t mind that is if he comes home. He should know that I’m a hard working woman that deserves her due reward for her faithfulness to God and her husband. I’ve also done my part in charity. Whatever wealth and possessions I haven’t donated are mine to keep. The extra things I’ve done should cover me for a while. If they don’t, I’ll just give whatever things that I have that I don’t really need.

I should stop overthinking about the things I do and the consequences of them. Since God is good, all I have to do is go to confession, do my penance, and that’s it! I’m set for Heaven! Today’s my day to rest and I’ve been enjoying the fresh Sunday air without a worry in the world. Damn it all. Why’s the town so loud today? Don’t they know that they should be resting today? Don’t they think about people like me who need a bit of silence from time to time? These people get on my nerve sometimes.

Part of me has to admit my envy of them. Their joy, energy, and want to do good for God and everyone is admirable. I wish I had what they did. I know I recently suffered from the sin of envy, but it’s just a thought that I sometimes have. I’ll get over it because I’m stronger than most women. Who else could go through the psychological and supernatural things that I have and come out mostly unscathed? All of the horrors I’ve gone through would scare a veteran warrior or exorcist. My nerves are made of steel. Nothing can overcome me.

Are you finished talking about yourself yet? Myself, I mean.

What are you talking about? I’m just speaking the truth.

You grew and took over half of my body when I looked in the mirror after church. You jumped out from the mirror and now I have two heads and four breasts.

What’s the matter with that? It’s double the me! I’m sure my knight having two of me.

Everything. I’ve gone through thinking about the seven deadly sins because of you.

Because of me? Or because of you? Do you know how many times you think to yourself, “I do this, I do that, me, me, me, me”?

I have to think about myself and my actions sometimes to make sure I’m acting according to God’s will.

Why should you? You’re perfect as you are! Do you know that I’m your biggest fan? I’ve shapeshifted my form to look like you and keep changing it when you change. We’re like the same person! Maybe you can even help me get to Heaven. You should still be in the state of sanctifying grace, so your ticket to Heaven should be good.

Demons don’t belong in Heaven and they’ll never make it their home again.

Oh, but I do God’s will like you do. What’s the difference?

I’m redeemed by His sacrifice. You aren’t. You had your chance and you’ll never recover from your sin. I can pick myself when I fall as long as I put my hope and faith in Him. You can only fall and when He comes back, you’ll stay there forever.

Harsh words coming from a woman who always thinks about herself. You suffer from the sin of pride just like the devil.

Right now, all I have to care for is myself. I try to pray for those who are lost and suffering. There’s nothing else that I can do for the world.

Your constant mental prayer doesn’t help you. Just say the word and I’ll leave you.

I have been praying for you to go away. I’m always praying because I know I’m nothing without God. He loves me, I love Him, and that’s something that will never change.

AAAAAAHHHH!

There we go. I’m finally back to normal. Huh? Who could be at the door? No way!

“I heard there was a princess in need of a knight and I came to answer the call.”

“You came back!”

“You aren’t even going to try to roleplay?”

“Oh, get in here you, dork!”

We embrace and kiss for several minutes. He tries to calm me down, but I deeply miss him, so I hold onto him for a while with tears of joy in my eyes. He talks to me about his adventures over dinner, most of which I’ll be using in my stories and drawings. We spend the rest of the day in each other’s arms until it’s time to save it for tomorrow.

He didn’t even want to make children with you tonight. You could tie him up and get him too.

That’s wrong. I’m not going to do that.

But I bet you’re still thinking about it.

I’m thinking the rosary in my head right now. How about that? No answer? Good. Thank you, God, Mary, my guardian angel, and everyone else who prays for me in Heaven. Special thanks to you God as always. I couldn’t do anything without you.

 

The End

Choice and Consequence of Redemption: Fresh Blood

What is there to redeem when you kill for a good cause?

Nick is a boxer with a taste for blood. He prowls the streets of Hillside City every other night to kill criminals, abusive parents, and such. On one night, he comes across the Doll Factory, a secret organization that sells people as sex dolls. Doubts about his vigilantism come in and he has to decide whether or not if he should keep killing or help people in a more peaceful way. Will Nick kill more or let more people be used as objects rather than people? One more massacre? Or a dozen more victims?

Download the full story on Smashwords for free – https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/884138

“The whole question here is: am I a monster, or a victim myself?”

Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Crime and Punishment

 

Prologue – The Beginnings of a Killer

Many people choose what they want to be when they grow up though some are not as fortunate. Nick is one of those people. He wanted to be a boxer like his father and mother, but they didn’t allow it. They wanted to be the only ones in the family who held the fame. Like most children, Nick didn’t listen to his parents and practiced boxing behind their backs. He watched videos of them boxing and made his own style from theirs. When he got older, he contacted their trainer and told him to train him and why his parents didn’t want him to be one. The trainer sympathized with Nick and trained him behind his parents’ back. To truly test Nick’s skills, his trainer got Nick into several underground boxing tournaments. Nick ended up winning all of them, which lead to his trainer turning him into an official boxer.

His parents were left in the dark by everyone about Nick’s first real match, but they heard about it when social media started blowing up about their son beating a professional boxer without getting hit. After the match, they confronted Nick and started beating on him in public. The rage he’d held onto in his past finally exploded as he fought back against his parents. Since he’s studied their moves for years, he knew how to counter their attacks and fought against them effectively. Things went wrong once Nick had them against a wall with jagged metal sticking out. He punched them against the wall and the back of their heads hit the wall so hard that the impact kills them. Once his rage subsided, he saw what he’d done but he barely felt any regret. His trainer span this as an abused child finally being getting revenge on his parents for everything they’ve done. The trainer’s exposing of Nick’s parents saved Nick from being arrested and shamed his parent’s legacy as honorable fighters.

Now finally freed from his parent’s influence, he boxed without worry and forgot about their deaths a few weeks after it happened. His popularity rose, and his story became one told to inspire people. Eventually, he met Allison, a fan of his who he gave his number to. The two spent some time with each other and got married. They settled in their hometown of Hillside City and traveled together as Nick fought to win not only for himself now but for his treasured wife.

After fighting for three years, he got tired of doing it since it didn’t have the same excitement that killing his parents had. On one Halloween night, he created a mask for himself and went out into the streets of Hillside City. He searched for someone to fight in a city known for its crime and crazy people. Finally, he found a couple of people who were stealing from a stranger. He defended this stranger and beat the two thieves to death. The stranger thanked Nick before quickly walking away as Nick scared him. The thrill came back to him and Nick found his true passion. From then on, Nick went out every other night to find another criminal to beat to death. He particularly liked to kill child abusers. The excuse he told Allison was that he went out every other night to practice with a few of his boxing friends, which she bought since she trusted him so much.

Allison is the person Nick values most in the world. Everything he does is to help her. He’s now a killer vigilante in Hillside City so that he can create a better city for her to live in. They’re now staying in Hillside City after Nick’s recent victory in another boxing tournament. Soon, Nick’s killings will resume, something that he eagerly awaits.

 

 

Chapter 1 – A Killer’s Night

Tainted blood is going to be spilled tonight as Nick takes his mask, hides it in his jacket, and walks into the worst parts of Hillside City. His habits of going out every other night have gotten him used to what sounds like trouble and what doesn’t. Sometimes he runs to find two people messing with each other or forcefully enters a house to find a couple roleplaying. Now he can better determine what is and isn’t trouble, or at least he can most of the time. Besides looking for people who could be in trouble, he also keeps a list of criminals living in the city. Since Hillside City and its police force have a low tolerance for criminals, it doesn’t matter to them if these people are taken in alive or if their corpse is sent to them. Of course, Nick doesn’t need the money from the bounties on their heads, so he just lets the nearest person call it in with the promise they’ll receive a reward and the same treatment if they should become that criminal.

He’s gained a reputation for himself as a vigilante. The name that’s been given to him is The Fist of Punishment. Even though Nick could think of other names, he sticks with it as the name does have a ring to it. There have been other vigilantes who have popped up here and there inspired by his actions. Even some cops celebrate his name as Nick does what some of them want to do.

While walking the streets, he sees a drug deal taking place in a dark alley. The dealer and buyer catch sight of Nick looking at him and retreat further into the alley with their hands in their pockets to hide what they have. Nick puts on his mask and enters the alley. The two get back to their deal, but once they look back outside of the alley they see Nick fast approaching. One tries pulling out his gun, but Nick gets to him and knocks it out of his hand. He then punches the dealer in the throat then takes the seller by the head and beats his head against the wall. After that, he finishes off the seller by breaking his already broken throat. Nick then leaves the bodies in the alleyway to rot as he does with most.

Nick could get away with taking the money off the criminals he kills since he wears gloves to avoid getting his fingerprints on things, but he doesn’t unless he wants to get something extra for Allison or himself. The criminal industry is rich and a good place to find rich people in though there aren’t many rich criminals in Hillside City. Most are either middle class or poor and Nick detests taking from the poor. He doesn’t mind, however, taking away evil people from their families. He thinks to himself that he’s doing them a favor because if they really cared for their families, they wouldn’t be committing evil deeds.

Some of the older abandoned buildings are used by criminals and is usually a good place for Nick to find new prey despite him clearing them out every now then. He goes to a nearby abandoned food corner store and enters in through the alleyway door, which is already open. Nature has taken over some of the building and slowly is destroying it as vines and foliage are on the walls and in the floors. Nick watches his step while being sneaky. He can hear two people talking about combining forces to better their business within the city. From a hole in the wall, Nick can see four people with pistols and a lone guard with an automatic shotgun near the only door in. Nick finds a pebble on the ground and throws it through the hole, which makes everyone look to see where it lands.

“This place is falling apart. We shouldn’t keep meeting here,” one of them says.

“Our family used to own this place. I’d thought you’d be more sentimental.”

“I’m more sentimental about my life.”

“Don’t worry about that, nature is holding up this building for us.”

Nick manages to get to the guard and snap his neck then take his shotgun. Just because he’s proficient in using his fists doesn’t mean he isn’t good with firearms. The criminals were about to take out their pistols, but the sight of Nick’s makes them hesitate since they remember the rumors about The Fist of Punishment. This hesitation gives Nick the opportunity to blast the criminals away or at least most of their body parts. Two are dead while one is clutching the place where his left leg used to be. Nick finishes the injured man off with the last shotgun shell. The fourth one that managed to take cover is shaking from a paralyzing fear. He begs for mercy, which Nick has none of. Nick punches the man in the face then impales the man’s face on broken glass. Knowing that the police should be here soon, Nick quickly leaves the scene by going through the back alley.

While going through the alleyway, his eyes catch a fresh bloody handprint on one of the backdoors of a house. He quietly goes into the house and checks upstairs to find a single sleeping guard. He’s wearing a weird masquerade mask that appears to be horror themed with weird makeup and blood red marks on it. He has a silenced assault rifle by his side leaning on the chair. The guard appears to have been guarding this house by a sniper’s window but fell asleep. Nick easily snaps his neck and takes the man’s assault rifle just in case there are more people in here with the same weaponry. He also finds a key on the man, which he uses on the nearby bedroom doors. In them, are several other people like the guard with different masquerade masks like his. Nick finds their weapons next to them and one of them has a knife, which makes his work easier. With the guards upstairs dead, he goes downstairs to the basement. The door is locked, so he uses the key he found on the guard.

Down in the basement, he has to unlock another door to see the horrors it contains. Each of the basement rooms contains a single naked man, woman, or child who is strapped to a bed and appear to be sex slaves. Some of the slaves have one or two of their limbs cut off while some even have their eyes sewn shut or pluck out entirely. The place smelled strange when Nick entered and now he knows why. There’s a map in the basement with certain houses circled including this one. He unlocks the cell doors then uses one of the guard’s phones to call the police and notifies them of what he found before leaving the house with only the map in hand.

Not too far from the house, Nick comes across two hooded people who are wearing purple butterfly masks.

The man says, “Out on the town again on this beautiful night? It’s a wonder that we keep seeing each other.”

“Have you reconsidered our offer yet?” the woman says.

“I haven’t. I’m not going to be part of your little group so you can tell Maria to stop asking if she wants me to keep being friendly.”

“Hey, you don’t need to be like that,” the man says, “So, meet any interesting people tonight?”

“There’s some sort of sex slavery organization here in the city. I just cleared out one of their houses and freed their victims.”

“We heard rumors of them being in the city. Thanks for confirming them. They’re an international sex slavery organization called The Doll Factory. They do business with all sorts of nasty groups. I heard on the news that they even caught an army sergeant and made her into a baby maker.”

“What?”

“Don’t worry about her since she eventually broke free and got her revenge. You should worry about their current and potential victims. Join us and we’ll help you get rid of them from this city.”

“You can do your own thing, but I will let you copy of this map I found in their hideout.”

“Let’s see it.”

The two put the locations of the Doll Factory’s hideout into their GPS on their phones.

“Your help will not be forgotten. We could still use your help though.”

“I’ll help by taking out locations that you aren’t.”

“Fair enough.”

“What are you two even doing around here anyway?”

The woman answers, “We’re going to visit a man who’s a lot like you. He’s a married serial killer who needs a punishment worse than death.”

“Kill his wife. That’ll do the trick. A woman married to a serial killer can’t be that innocent.”

“We were thinking the same thing. Before we go, we have to call you by a certain name. You can’t just keep leaving us before you give us your name?”

“You want my name? As in my real name?”

“Or some sort of code name.”

“Call me Amon.”

“Call us Sirene and Caim.”

“Heh, you like that series too?”

“What series?”

“Nevermind. I need to get back home.”

“See you again, hopefully.”

“Sure.”

Nick walks away from the two and back home to Allison. He sleeps with the aching feeling that he shouldn’t wait a day before going out again to kill especially with the Doll Factory in the city. He hopes that his time with Allison tomorrow will change his mind.

 

Chapter 2 – Keeping your Demons

It’s three at night. Nick has arrived home after being out for four hours. Sometimes he stays out longer or comes home even earlier because the police send out more officers if the criminal activity becomes high, which usually happens on full moons. He lays down on his bed with his sleeping wife. He thinks about what happened as he tries to fall asleep. His wife holds him while she’s sleeping as if part of her can feel his anxiety. Her touch puts him at peace. As he smiles and touches her face, she smiles as well before her head slowly cracks open in two. Nick quickly forces it together before going to the nearby bathroom to see that his head is completely spilt in two. His mirror image smiles at him and starts pulling out insects from his head.

The mirror version of himself says, “We have to clean out our head more often, don’t we?”

“Shut up.”

Nick then reaches into the mirror and puts the mirrored version of his head back together then goes back to sleep. As soon as he hits the bed, he wakes up holding Allison and Allison holding him. She wakes up and smiles at him, which makes him smile in return.

“Good morning sunshine,” she says before kissing him then getting up, “Are you ready for today?”

“I’m ready.”

The couple goes downstairs, and Allison begins making breakfast while Nick sets the table.

“Did you have fun last night?”

“I did. How was work?”

“It was “great” as always.”

“You could take up boxing like I do. We could go into mixed leagues together or maybe even do professional wrestling. I taught you how to defend yourself already.”

“You want us to be like your parents?”

“We aren’t going to let the fame get to our heads like them.”

“We don’t even have any kids yet and I expected them after we got married.”

“I just want to be set in life before we have our child, so we don’t need to worry about money.”

“We already don’t have to.”

“Ok, how about we do this next week when we go to Italy?”

“You better butter me up today, so that’ll sound like a good idea.”

“Do you mean literally or…”

“I will mean literally if you keep it up, mister.”

Allison makes French toast today and the two eat while watching the news. Nick likes watching it to see people recognize his work and if there are certain criminals he should look out for.

“So, if work was “great” as always, does that mean that the doctors are still being hard on you?”

“Of course, and how can you blame them? Hillside City is a hot place that always has people coming into the hospital. I have to make sure everything is correct and prepared for them so that they can treat their patients properly. I don’t mind it when they get agitated at me because I understand how they feel.”

“I mind it. They should understand your situation as well.”

“They only know me as Nick the Young Boxing Legend’s wife. They think I live an easy life and shouldn’t even have my job.”

“I don’t think you should either. You can probably do more good by getting your name out there and supporting charities like I do. It’s better than being a doctor’s assistant or nurse or whatever you call it.”

“Well I’m doing what I want, and I’ve helped dozens of people by doing it.”

“I’m not trying to say you’re not.”

“Then that’ll be the end of that discussion.”

The news talks about the Doll Factory hideout Nick went to and describes what they found.

“That’s absolutely horrible,” Allison comments.

“…I know.”

“If only we could do something about it.”

“…”

“Maybe you can talk about it on your social media accounts or during your next interviews?”

“I will,” Nick says as he spreads the news about the Doll Factory, “I just wish I could do more.”

“Like what? Challenge them to a boxing match and beat their face in?”

“Yes.”

“As much as that idea sounds appealing, you can’t always beat down evil in the face. Violence isn’t the best answer to anything in my opinion.”

What Allison says catches Nick by surprise.

He says, “Oh, but what about the vigilantes in the city like the Fist of Justice. He has a stupid name sure, but he seems to be doing a lot of good.”

“Not really. All he does is go around town and kill people. We’ll probably end up saving more lives than him even if we don’t get rid of criminals like him.”

Now Nick is completely caught off guard. He never got Allison’s opinion on his vigilantism until now because no one like the Doll Factory came into town until now.

“Are you okay babe?” Allison says to Nick who’s shocked.

“Y-yeah.”

“You’re better than that loser who’s trying to act like a hero.”

“…”

“Anyways, should we go out now?”

“Yeah.”

Nick isn’t sure what to think anymore. The person he listens to most just made him doubtful of what he likes doing the most besides being with her. He puts the thought aside so he can enjoy his day with his treasure. They go out together to the suburban part of Hillside City, which is called Hillfall Town. Allison always liked nature more than the city. There’s a clearing in a nearby forest that they like going to and where people usually go for picnics or big events. They set up a little picnic and just enjoy the nice weather. Their lives are filled with noise and they’ve already said what they’ve wanted to this morning, so it’s refreshing for them to tell each other how much they love each other in a soundless way. Allison lays down in Nick’s arms as they sit in the shade. A slight breeze makes the weather feel perfect while the chirping of birds gives the forest a nice background noise. They sit this way a little more than an hour, which results in them falling asleep.

Another hour passes and a noise in the forest wakes up Nick while Allison still sleeps. He looks around and the noise continues as it sounds like a person walking. He slowly puts down Allison on the blanket then gets up to search the area. The noise stops and starts almost randomly. No matter what direction Nick seems to go in, he can’t seem to find the source of the noise. Nick’s own shadow begins to take form. It tries to grab Nick, but he grabs it instead. The shadow takes the form of Nick, but with black scars on his body.

He says, “I was just going to give you a little scare. Nothing serious.”

“I know what you’re thinking. We’ve been through this before.”

“And I’m never going to stop unless you let go. You can’t control the powers of your nightmares for long. It will overcome you eventually.”

“Not if I can’t resist it.”

Nick lets go of the other him’s throat before continuing his search.

He says to it, “The thing in the forest wouldn’t happen to be one of my monsters, is it?”

“No. It’s probably someone who wants to enjoy the forest…or take advantage of people relaxing in it.”

“Which one do you think it is?”

“What do you think?”

The two Nicks combine to form one being made of nightmares. This usually happens to Nick without his knowledge on his killing nights. His face changes to a mask with a split face and a broken red halo on the back of his head. His hair is longer now and his back sprouts black wings. The shirt and pants on his body disappear so that his legs and hands are now made of jagged metal. Black markings hug his shoulders and sides and a red heart is exposed on his chest. Nick’s senses are now enhanced so he can hear and see better. He picks up the source of the sounds and chases after it. He sees a figure in the distance with a mask that’s like the ones that the Doll Factory have. Nick quickly runs to the mysterious individual to kill them before Allison wakes up. The mysterious individual is startled by the sound of Nick coming in their direction and unknowingly runs in the direction where is Allison. Nick quickens his pace until he can clearly see his target who can see him too. Nick appears to be the monster he is in the eyes of the mysterious individual, which only makes them run faster.

Nick eventually gets close enough so that he can tackle his target, but he tackles them in front of Allison, which wakes her up. Nick’s monstrous appearance disappears from the minds of Nick and the mystery person so that he looks normal now. Seeing that they’re in front of Allison, Nick repeatedly beats the person thinking that this was their intention all along. To find another person to kidnap and sell.

Allison separates the two then says, “What are you doing Nick?”

“This guy was sneaking around here in one of those masks that the Doll Factory have! We can’t let him escape!”

Allison turns to the person, “Tell me who you are.”

The mystery person reveals themselves to be a woman in her middle ages. She says, “I just came here to play a little prank on people. I run this web series where I scare people. It’s pretty popular right now, you might’ve heard of it.”

“Yeah, right. I don’t believe that for one second,” Nick dismissively says.

“Stop it, Nick. You can leave here miss. Just be careful next time you do something like this.”

“Thank you, and I’m sorry for intruding,” the woman says before running back into the forest.

There are a few moments of silence before Nick says, “You shouldn’t have let her go. She had one of those masks.”

“Then what would we do? It looks like you were going to kill her.”

“If she actually was one of those Doll Factory members, I probably would’ve. Those people are scum.”

“You shouldn’t think that way, Nick. You aren’t like that!”

Again, Allison criticizes Nick’s hidden killer personality. He doesn’t know what to do besides going out again tonight to get rid of the Doll Factory, so he doesn’t need to worry about them. After putting this situation behind them, they continue enjoying the rest of the day together until they go back home after watching the stars for a few hours.

At night in his sleep, he dreams of himself in a calm place with all of his monsters on a leash. Some of his monsters look like different boxers he’s fought and criminals he’s fought. Two of the monsters are his parents, which the other monsters continuously beat on. Nick is pondering on going out again tonight while his monsters try to break free from his control with more force than they usually do.

His other him sits by his side then says, “You know you want to go out there and paint the town red. What’s stopping you?”

“I don’t know.”

“Is it Allison? She’s usually right when it comes to moral judgments. Maybe you shouldn’t be a vigilante after all.”

“How about this. The Doll Factory will be my last targets. Once they are dealt with and their captives free, the city will be safer, and we can live in relative peace.”

“If you think that is the right option, then go for it. You do know the consequences if you fail, right?”

“I do, but I won’t fail. Not now and not ever. I will never fail Allison.”

“It seems like you already have.”

Nick gets up from his bed, gets his mask, the Doll Factory’s mask, and goes out for one last killing spree. His body is transformed and ready for all of the carnage he is about to relish in.

 

 

Chapter 3 – A Massacre Everyone Will Enjoy

Starting with the closest location on the map, Nick begins his crusade against the Doll Factory. The first location is a small warehouse not too far from the city. A location this close to the city would’ve gotten them caught a couple of days after they appeared, but they seem to be settled in. Nick thinks this could mean that the Doll Factory has ties to people in Hillside City, but it won’t matter what connections they have after tonight. As soon as he sneaks in, the building changes and the door behind him disappears.

“Surprised?” the other him says as Nick hides.

“I’m glad you’re here.”

“Don’t think for a second that you summoned me. There is another force at work here that wants to see the slaves set free and you’re being used as their means of liberation.”

“Give them my thanks. So they don’t care if these other people die?”

“They do, but these people are far more gone than you are. They don’t even sense beings like me.”

“It’s a shame.”

“You don’t mean that.”

“Of course I don’t.”

The other him gives Nick some of its power. Nick then uses it to make the guards think they’re hallucinating. Even though their senses are dull to their monsters, their minds are foggy. Nick has the power to easily make them see their own monsters who will destroy them, but he won’t. He’s a hands-on type of man. With his transformed body, he brutally kills every guard. They try to fight back hand to hand, but Nick has them beat in that regard with his skills and enhanced abilities. Some of the guards try using their guns, so Nick uses his new ability to blur the vision of the guards so that they see triples of Nick who act on their own and hurt them all the same. With all of the guards dead, Nick frees the prisoners and heads to the next location. He calls the police to get these people the help they need.

Along the way, he comes across Sirene and Caim who he cannot avoid talking to. They quickly catch up to him since they are excited that he’s out hunting with them.

Caim says, “Amon! You’re out at the right time. We’ve already planned what we’re going to do.”

“Just show me your plan of attack. We’ll work together on this one.”

“Right.”

Caim explains the Purple Butterflies plan of attack and marks the locations the Butterflies are going to hit last.

“We’re only going to work together this one time and that’s it,” Nick says.

“What do you mean ‘and that’s it’?” Caim says.

“My wife is making me reconsider vigilantism. She didn’t figure out that I go out every other night to do this, but we did talk about my vigilante identity. She doesn’t approve of it to say the least.”

“Don’t listen to her,” Sirene says, “She doesn’t know what she’s talking about. Take it from a wife who knows best like you do.”

“Don’t say that. My wife is the most compassionate, and the smartest person I know.”

“Sirene, even if he takes a break, he won’t be able to stay away for too long. Amon craves justice for those who evade it.”

Caim brings up a thought that Nick has when he thinks about quitting vigilantism. He wants to go out and kill criminals and evil men and women. It’s like an unhealthy addiction for him. Allison’s opinion on his addiction is the only thing that’s making him think twice about killing.

“I’ll think about it. We should go now. I don’t want to let these people get away with making people into sex dolls.”

“You got that right. Let’s go Caim,” Sirene says.

“Good luck Nick.”

“You too.”

At the next hideout, Nick makes each of the guards freeze in place. They’re being held by their monsters, but since they can’t see them, all they feel is a cold chill and immobile. This allows Nick to savor each kill. He can beat them down to his enjoyment and tear them apart with the help of their own monsters. Several guards are frozen in ambush and sniper points in the building. They would’ve had the drop on Nick if he didn’t freeze them. It seems that they also know they’re under attack, but a couple don’t seem to care as they are frozen while using their own products. These people receive the worst deaths. Nick’s abilities have also affected the slaves as they see him as an angel of death. An avenger of the innocent and punisher of the guilty. Once they are freed, Nick leaves for the next hideout before the people can thank him. He calls the police to help these people as well.

On the way to the next location, Nick’s monsters begin to fight him. He wrestles control from them though it is more difficult to stay in control than before.

The other him appears and says, “Once this is done, you’ll eventually lose control. You know you will.”

“Then I’ll try to do as much damage as I can until then. I’m don’t think I’ll ever stop killing though.”

“That’s your choice to make, but what will Allison think if she finds out? You might lose her forever.”

“She won’t find out.”

“She won’t? That woman can be sneaky if she suspects something…You’re considering quitting now, aren’t you?”

“After this. Maybe I will.”

“It’ll be easier if you stop sooner than later.”

The other him fades away right before Nick gets to the next location. He’s on an island that used to be an amusement park. He must’ve teleported from the city to the island since he never got on a boat. The invisible forces at work here tend to do paranormal activities such as this to get people where they need to go. There isn’t any cover here so Nick is spotted immediately. He takes cover from the gunfire before unleashes the monsters of the guards. The monsters tear through the guards and give Nick cover to eliminate his fair share of them. After that, he frees the slaves and takes a boat back to the city with them. They thank him profusely, but he just nods in return. He calls the police to pick them up before heading back home.

The Purple Butterflies should be getting the rest of the hideouts and driving the Doll Factory out of the city. This should be the last killing spree of his. Nick slowly takes off his mask that feels like its stuck his face. The mask almost feels alive as it squirms and even screeches as it resists Nick. It releases sharp blades from the edges of the mask so it can stay firmly planted on Nick’s face. Nick stops trying to take it off when he senses someone watching him. It’s Caim and Sirene. They approach him when they know he’s noticed him.

Caim says, “Don’t stop now. It’s okay if we know who you really are.”

“Were you trying to take your mask off? Are you trying to quit?” Sirene asks.

Nick stays silent as the pain in his face subsides.

“You can’t quit,” Sirene adds, “The fact that your mask resists you proves it.”

“You don’t want to quit anyway. Not now.”

“Why not? I already took care of my portion of the Doll Factory.”

“It’s not that. The Doll Factory have been kidnapping people from this city while we were clearing their hideouts. We’ve dispersed people to find them.”

Nick’s heart stops for a second before he asks, “Do you know who they kidnapped?”

“Some random people and some high valued people.”

“Such as?”

“Some of these people are our loved ones, so I hope none of yours are on the list.”

“Just tell me!”

Caim lists off the people he knows were kidnapped. Allison comes up as one of them. All feeling in Nick’s body goes away and his heart feels like it stops. Caim and Sirene notice Nick’s shock and try talking to him, but he can’t hear them. He can’t hear anything except the quickening pace of his heart as he runs back home. He loses the two along the way. Back at home, he doesn’t find anything. It looks like they kidnapped Allison while she was still sleeping. The rage within him builds. He tightens his grip on his monsters as he heads out to find her while filled with rage and panic.

 

 

Chapter 4 – Righteous Anger

His added panic and anger has changed his alternate appearance. His wings are now four sharped tendrils and the red center of his chest is missing. His skin is white from fear and his eyes red with blood red tears flow from his face. The power within him is overflowing and allows him to teleport to the various hideouts. His powers affect everyone he comes across, which puts their minds in a powerful haze. He massacres any Doll Factory guards he finds while scaring the slaves and any Purple Butterflies that happen to be there.

Nick goes through a few hideouts until his monsters start fighting against him. He can longer teleport, and he has to run to his next location. The city unleashes its monsters from every crack to attack Nick, but his power is greater. He eviscerates the smaller one is one punch and tears through the larger ones who are as big as buses. No matter how many different types of horrifying monsters are thrown at Nick, he tears them all in a bloody mess to get to the only thing he cares about in the world. The energy coming from Nick affects the people around him and they start seeing what he’s seeing in one big mass vision. The monsters don’t attack them, but they do feel the blood Nick spills around the city, even though it does disappear from them once they get far enough away.

Eventually, Nick makes it to the next hideout on the far end of the city. He eliminates the guards without any effort and frees the slaves. In one room, he finds Allison’s dead body. His rage subsides and gives way to sadness. Her throat is cut, her legs and arms are cut off, and her eyes are gone. He sits on her bed and holds her dead, bloody, and dirty body.

“I…I’m so sorry Allison,” he says with tears flowing from his eyes, “I’m sorry I couldn’t be the man you wanted me to be. You were always a better hero than I could ever be.”

In a daze of grief and tears, Nick doesn’t know what to do. He sings old songs they used to dance to together. Nick tells her of the good times they had together. He talks to her corpse as if it’ll bring her back. As if his tears will bring her soul back. After what feels like hours, Nick lifts his head and sees a clipboard with notes on it. He picks it up and reads what they wrote about Allison. They say she was a high-value target here in Hillside City. The Doll Factory was spying on them and the person Nick found in the forest was one of the spies. They planned on kidnapping both of them but were afraid to confront Nick after what he did, but once he left his house, they quickly moved in and settled for just Allison. It turns out that she fought against her captors to a stalemate. Since they had respect for her, they gave her a knife and gave her the choice to either; submit willingly to them or to kill herself to which Allison obviously chose to kill herself. They then chose to mutilate her body, so they can pack it and fix it in a way that they can use it later as another one of their dolls. Some of them actually tried testing her out before they heard they were under attack.

This temporarily replaces the sadness Nick feels with unending rage. His body transforms yet again to its final rage form.

His tendrils are now four fiery arms. The hole in his chest is now on fire along with his eyes, legs, and his soul. His hands are permanently made into fists with charred chains. Again, he gains an inordinate amount of power that allows him to teleport. He goes from criminal hideouts to abusive households to kill and let out his anger. The entire city is affected as his grief and rage infects everyone. Some people start fights and become impatient while others struggle to contain their feelings.

Nick kills over thirty people before reaching the final Doll Factory hideout on the other side of the city. In it, he rips apart everyone he can see besides the slaves who he sets free. The slaves flee in terror as Nick repeated tears apart the bodies of the Doll Factory guards. A young boy then walks out of a hidden room. Nick stops his slaughter as the boy looks among the bodies with tears in his eyes. A pair of bodies, a man and a woman, catch his attention. He runs to them, puts his hands on them, and cries. It appears that the two people he’s crying over are his parents. The boy gets up in a fit of rage and attacks Nick who defends himself.

“Stop it kid!” he says, “Your parents were human trash. You’re better off now than before!”

The boy doesn’t listen, which gets on Nick’s nerves.

“Stop it!”

Nick punches the body in the chest and makes him fall down in pain.

“Stay down! Don’t make me kill you! I’m telling you you’re going to have a better life without them!”

The boy tries to get up and Nick tries punching him in the chest again but ends up hitting the boy since he gets up. The boy’s neck is now completely broken and dies shortly after. Nick’s heart feels like it has completely stopped for the second time tonight as he has taken the life of an innocent. He yells out in pain and anger directed at himself as his monsters come out of his mouth and his power is taken away.

“Now do you see? You can’t handle this power,” the other him says.

“Ok…Ok. I give up. I give up the power I took. I give up killing.”

“That’s all we wanted to hear.”

His monsters start to fade from his vision.

“What? You aren’t going to haunt me or anything?”

“Your wife’s death will do that for us.”

His monsters then completely fade away and Nick can no longer see them or take their power. He sobs in the dark for a bit before hearing the disembodied voice of his wife in his head.

“Nick, you’re a hero to people. You’re my hero.”

He remembers what she said when he asked her about his charity events and speeches he made to inspire people.

“I love you and I always will,” the memory of her voice rings again.

“Yeah,” Nick says to himself, “That’s what I’ll do.”

Nick destroys his mask and leaves it behind. From the hideout, he walks back to the city. Not only does the pain of losing Allison and his guilt set in, but the pain he’s sustained kicks in as well. He’s been shot, stabbed, and hit multiple times. He tries to keep moving on but he eventually succumbs to the pain and collapses. After a few seconds of laying in his own blood, he opens his eyes to see Allison. An invisible barrier separates the two. Nick is on the side where souls are being purified in a fire while Allison is on the side where everything good is.

Allison places her hand on the barrier and says, “Do you mean it? Are you going to redeem yourself?”

Nick puts his hand where hers is then says, “I-I will. I promise you that.”

“I didn’t seriously ask that. It was rhetorical. I know what you did, but I also know the way you act.”

“Allison…”

“Heh, don’t worry. I’ll see you again. Don’t be afraid to make yourself happy and find someone else.”

“No, wait…”

“I love you, Nick.”

“I love you! Don’t-”

Nick wakes up in a hospital bed and jolts up. He sees all of his cuts, bruises, and injuries patched up though he can still feel the stinging pain of them.

A doctor enters his room and says, “I thought you’d wake up soon. Thank God.”

The doctor is a woman who is a bit older than Nick. She has green eyes and black hair with one or two strands of gray hair. There’s something about her that Nick can’t help but find attractive.

She catches his gaze, blushes then continues saying, “We guess you got caught up in that big city-wide panic. No one can really figure out what caused it though that’s not to say it hasn’t happened before.”

“Did…did you save my life?”

“I am a doctor and it is my job, so…yes, yes I did.”

Nick laughs a bit, but it pains him to.

“What’s your name?”

“It’s Morgan.”

“Morgan, I’ll make this up to you. I swear.”

“That’s sweet of you to say, but you don’t have to. Besides, aren’t you married?”

“My wife died last night. A friend told me the Doll Factory took her and she killed herself instead of letting herself be subjected to them.”

“That’s horrible! I’m so sorry.”

“You don’t have to be. Let me do something for you instead. I’m going to be doing more for people from now on.”

“That’s great, but-”

“No more buts. Let me help.”

From then on, Nick dedicates his time to helping others. He gives more to charities and spends his time helping others. He starts his own boxing school in Hillside City where he teaches people of all ages how to defend themselves. The painful memories of his wife’s death and the innocent life he took come back every now and then, but he fights through the regret so that can redeem himself. He talks to people in conferences and at his school about the lessons he’s learned and tries to inspire people to be better. Nick dedicates his life as he does this day in and day out without rest. He becomes a better man and an inspirational figure to most people he meets and to those who hear him speak. His redemption is just a practice of his that he does every day, but it’s the genuine effort and dedication that he puts into it that makes it count.

About a year later as he walks the streets of the city, he hears something in a nearby alleyway. He goes to the end of it to find Morgan with cut up clothes. She’s sobbing and holding herself over her recent loss.

Nick walks up to her with a welcoming smile on his face and says, “Do you need help, beautiful?”

Love is Revenge’s Best Motivator

Zander is a noble general who is on his way to becoming the ruler of his country. The current ruler has allowed himself to be possessed by a demon. This has allowed him to rule with absolute authority in order to make the country stronger and expand its borders. Afraid of Zander’s eventual replacement of him, the ruler secretly orders some of the troops to allow Zander and his group of soldiers to die in the next battle and they do. Zander’s head is cut off and the rest of his forces are wiped out.

Unsatisfied with the destruction he’s caused, the ruler decides to go after Zander’s family. He sends a small loyal force of demonically possessed soldiers to his house and burns down the house. Zander’s wife, Prisca, tries to save their children but is caught by falling debris. Desperate to save her children, she cuts her trapped right arm off with Zander’s sword, however, she falls through the floor and is unable to go back up to where they were. She tries to find some way outside of the house to get upstairs, but the house collapses and her children and everything she has is destroyed.

Catching her in her shock, the demonic soldiers try finishing her off. Prisca does her best to fight off the assault with her singular arm, even though it is obvious that she is outnumbered and under skilled. The spirit of Zander comes down from the afterlife and fights off the demons for Prisca. His skills outmatch the demons as they can’t do anything against a pure spirit who is also skilled with a sword. Most of them retreat, but one manages to sneak up on Prisca. He carves the Chinese symbol for death in her left eye before being taken out by Zander.

Before being sent to Hell, the demon says, “You’re marked for death, Prisca! Other beings like me will be after you. There will be no rest for you until you die! Hahaha!”

Finally free from danger, for now, Prisca cries over the ruins of her family as it rains.

Zander tries comforting her by holding her. “Calm down. I’m here with you.”

“Some timing you have! Our children are dead!”

“I know. I saw them in the afterlife. I’m allowed here in the mortal realm to aid you in defeating our demonic ruler.”

“I don’t know if I can do this. I don’t even have my right arm. I can’t fight like I used to.”

“It’s okay because I’ll possess you to help you fight, but you have to allow me to do so when the time comes.”

“I still…”

“I’m here with you now. Remember that there’s nothing that can stop us when we’re together.”

Zander wraps and heals Prisca’s wounds. He then kisses her then holds her hands to make her feel his power and love for her.

He then says, “We’ll send that demon to Hell together and free our country from his control. I promise you that we can do this.”

Prisca breathes in deeply. “Okay. I trust you.”

“I knew you would. We have to hurry. Evil is heading our way.”

Prisca collects herself, sheathes Zander’s sword, and heads off in the direction of the capital city. Because of his efforts and rank, Zander was able to earn a nice house not too far from the capital. It’s a nice area with plenty of natural beauties to it such as rivers, flower beds, and good land to grow crops. Prisca can only look at it now as she says goodbye to it.

She says to Zander, “Do you remember those days when you were home from war? The days that we spent together enjoying each moment of being together as if it were our last?”

“How could I not? Those are some of my most treasured memories.”

“And what about our first time meeting? Doesn’t it count up there with them?”

“Of course it does. I didn’t know the day meeting you in the streets would end up like this.”

The rain, mud, and pain that Prisca is going through starts to harshly strike at her nerves.

“I need to hear more,” she says, “All of this is eating at my soul. I don’t know if I can survive it.”

“I’m here. Don’t-They’re here. Get ready.”

Zander possesses Prisca’s body. Despite missing an arm, she holds her sword as if she still had it. Zander’s spirit arm helps her hold it up and keep a proper fighting stance in the pouring rain. A shadow moves in the dark sly and silent.

“Be on your guard. I’ve imbued my sword with the ability to exorcize demons. Let me handle this,” Zander says as he helps Prisca move.

Because of the frail condition of her body and her weakened spirit, Zander is able to easily move Prisca even though he’s never possessed someone before. He’s never even fought a demon before, so he tries to be ready for anything. Meanwhile, Prisca’s thoughts are empty. She’s calm as she moves along with Zander. The two have never felt closer. As his thoughts flow through hers, she remembers his memory of being killed, the betrayal he felt, and his judgment by God.

“Now’s not the time to be remembering that, Prisca.”

Figures start forming out of the darkness with their arms formed into swords ready to slash at Prisca. Zander senses their presence when they form and immediately reacts and cuts them down. He slashes at the shadows at the ground and the ones that form into soldiers. Archers form out of the shadows and shoot at Prisca from a distance. Zander manages to dodge them and even deflects back at the other shadows.

Seeing that they need to step up their efforts, the shadows and darkness of the small farm town then converge to a single point to form a singular being. This large shadowy demonic creature is comprised of two legs, two arms, three tails, and three heads with demonic faces. Its body is full of faces who laugh at Prisca since they think she has no chance of survival. It then begins to throw rocks and chunks of the ground at Prisca that Zander miraculously manages to slash through. The creature then uses its large fists to squash Prisca, but Zander manages to slash through its fists as well. Seeing that the creature’s fist regenerate because of the shadows, Zander keeps cutting down its limbs. First, its legs go then its arms, heads, and then Zander cuts into the creature’s chest then thrusts his sword into the core of the creature. The moon regains its light as the monster is destroyed and its body disintegrates into the light.

The damage it caused is now clear as some of the houses in the small town have major damage done to them. Some of the farms and flower gardens are ruined while the houses have major parts of it missing. The sounds of agony, loss, and fear are heard from the people who have suffered the most. Prisca feels their pain along with Zander.

“What happened here was terrible, Prisca, but we have to keep moving, otherwise, we’ll only be bringing them more suffering…”

“…right.”

Prisca’s mind has gone numb after experiencing so much suffering in less than an hour. She moves without feeling into the nearby forest so that the demons don’t hurt anyone else. After a short walk, she rests underneath a tree to give her some protection from the rain. Zander releases himself from her body and heals whatever damage that was done to her during the battle.

He says, “This battle is going to take a lot out of us, but if we cooperate like we just did, then we can take down the ruler.”

“…”

“We did great. That nightmare of a creature didn’t stand a chance against us. I told you that there’s nothing that can stop us.”

Prisca starts to smile to Zander’s relief, but then she starts to laugh in a crazy way with tears falling down her face. She holds out Zander’s sword and thinks about taking her life.

“Prisca! Calm down!”

“That’s easy for you to say, haha. You’re going to Heaven with our children after this. I’m going to have to struggle to stay alive.”

“I know what you’re feeling.” Zander puts his hand on Prisca’s and the two feel each other’s feelings. “You can feel how worried I am about you. The pain I feel over the loss of the lives of our children and the way things have turned out for us, but there is hope for us. We can make it out of this if you trust in God and me.”

“If you say so.” Prisca kisses Zander’s immaterial face.

“I’m sorry. I wish I could kiss and hold you as well.”

“You’re going to have to make it up to when I die then. Tell God to hold you to it.”

Prisca uses the tree trunk to help her stand up before heading off to the capital.

“I’m not sure if I should be more or less worried about you now.”

“If I die, I’ll be with my family. If I don’t, I’ll be a hero. It’s a win-win if you ask me.”

“I don’t think you’ll become a hero. You will bring peace to the land though. One of my most trusted friends should be the next ruler since I had him trained to be in case, I suddenly died on the battlefield or an assassin took my life.”

“I’m glad you were prepared for that, but you weren’t prepared for twins. I remember seeing your shocked face and you being scared for weeks. How can a general who constantly stares death in the face be scared of two of the sweetest children ever?”

“I know more about warfare than caring for children.”

“It’s scary stuff, isn’t it?”

“I don’t know how you did it.”

“It’s because I loved my children and wanted to give my husband the best children possible.”

“I didn’t think you would fail me even for a second.”

The rain starts to slow down as something in the environment changes. Zander quickly possesses Prisca and assumes a fighting stance.

“What weird demon do you think is after us next?”

“I don’t know. I just know it’s dangerous.”

“Thanks for the obvious information.”

“Silence. It’s coming.”

The rainfall progressively slows down until it completely stops. Zander stops as he closely listens to any possible footsteps until he catches them that sound like a single drop of water. He slashes at, cutting the water in the air. It then starts to pour again.

“Did we get it, Zander?”’

“No.”

Prisca runs underneath a tree for cover from the rain. It then begins to thunder.

“Move!”

A bolt of lightning strikes the tree Prisca is near and almost electrocutes her.

“What are we going to do?”

“Dance like we did at our wedding.”

“Dancing with lightning. How romantic.”

“Concentrate!”

Lightning strikes all around Prisca as Zander helps her dodge around it. A direct hit is about to hit her, but Zander manages to slash the demon within it while protecting Prisca from the electrocution.

“That was amazing!”

“Did you expect anything less from me? The demon isn’t done with us yet.”

“What else could it throw at us?”

“Watch out!”

The demon takes the form of rain again and is falling upon Prisca. Zander tries cutting it, but it gets on Prisca anyway.

“What’s going on?”

“Prisca! The demon is on your body. You have to trust me and stab yourself with the sword.”

“Don’t trust that demon, Prisca! I killed the demon for you. It’s just influencing your thoughts to try to make you kill yourself.”

The voices sound the same so Prisca doesn’t know what to do.

“Zander?”

“You’re going to have to trust me! Stab yourself and I’ll protect you!”

“Don’t listen to its insanity. It’ll go away from your mind eventually.”

Prisca takes a chance and thrusts the sword into her chest. Before the tip of the blade can touch her chest, the demon releases itself from Prisca. Zander takes back control and quickly upward slashes the demon, sending it back to Hell in pieces. The rain stops pouring and begins to calm down.

“Thank you for trusting me,” Zander says.

“I’ve never not trusted you,” Prisca replies.

“Come on, let’s keep moving.”

Prisca makes it far enough into the forest to see the capital in sight. The rain finally dies down as her goal is nearly within reach. Zander removes his control from her body as the two travel along the deserted road.

“How did you know stabbing myself would release the demon from me?”

“It was honestly just a bold guess.”

“A bold guess?!”

Prisca tries hitting Zander with the hilt of his sword multiple times.

“You’re not hurting me.”

“I’m still getting satisfaction from this!”

“Come on, stop messing around.”

“Fine. Do you have a plan for me to get close enough to the ruler to cut his head off?”

“My friends and his garrison should be there guarding the castle. If I say something to them that they would know, they should let you in.”

“I’m not sure if it’ll be that simple.”

“I do have backup plans if that doesn’t work.”

“I hope so.”

“Hope that we don’t bump into any more trouble along the way.”

“I doubt we won’t. They have to know how close we are.”

“And here one is on cue. You didn’t hope hard enough!”

“I’ll hope more when we kill it.”

Zander possesses Prisca again as she assumes a fighting stance.

“It seems that my constant possession of you has allowed you to copy some of my skills.”

“Good. I’ll need them after we succeed.”

“At least you’re thinking positive now.”

The various rock formations and trees start shaking around her until she is lifted into the air just near the top of the rest of the trees in the forest.

“What is this, Zander?”

“It’s a turtle dragon. That demon must’ve let it rest here in case we got close to the capital.”

“Shadow demons, rain demons, and now this? Why not? We can take it!”

“That’s the spirit!”

Trees and rocks on the dragon start forming themselves into parasites and attack Prisca. Zander dances in between them and easily takes them out because of their large size. The dragon then turns its head completely around, extends it, and swallows Prisca. Inside the belly of the beast are the skeletons of its previous victims near treasure.

“What happened to these people?”

“Turtle dragons like these act like small tunnels with sparkling treasures in them to lure in greedy treasure hunters. Once inside, the travelers starve to death with the treasure they went through the trouble to get,” Zander answers.

“That isn’t going to happen to us.”

Zander cuts through the dragon’s stone interior, which does major damage to it. Its defense system of parasites try defending its inside to no avail. With his sword in Prisca’s hands, he cuts open the turtle dragon, killing it.

Prisca gets out of the corpse of the dragon and says, “If we can defeat that thing, then we can beat that demonic ruler.”

“We can, assuming he doesn’t have any tricks up his sleeve.”

“You said to have hope, right? Then let’s have hope.”

“You’re right. Let’s keep going. We’re almost there.”

Once she finally reaches the capital, Prisca grabs a cloak to not draw attention to herself. Zander then leads her to the entrance that her friend should be guarding. He finds him there and his friend recognizes Prisca.

“Prisca. It’s good to see you, but what happened to your eye? Why do you have death in it?”

“Because the demon you serve marked me for death after taking everything away from me. I’m here to avenge my husband and my children. Please let me through.”

“I know our ruler is corrupt but it is my duty to protect him. Zander would agree with me. I’m sorry.”

“Zander has helped me get this far. His spirit has given me his skills and strength.”

“Prove it.”

Zander possesses Prisca and says, “Move it you, fool or do I need to tell your soldiers about the paintings of your wife that you keep in your bunker? I’m sure it’ll boost troop morale.”

“Ah! Zander, you are here!”

“That’s right. Our ruler is completely corrupt and killed me because I was going to be the next ruler of this country. Move aside so I can dethrone him myself.”

“I will. Godspeed, brother.”

“Thank you. You will be the ruler in his place as planned. You can’t say we did this for you or else you will be executed for conspiracy and the assassination of the rightful ruler. Be ready when the time comes.”

Zander’s friend nods as Prisca walks away into the castle. She makes her way to the throne room where the demonic ruler is waiting with his sword drawn.

Zander says, “It’s over, demon! You killed me, but God has granted me revenge.”

“Zander, do you really think you can beat me by possessing your wife who only has one arm?”

“We do,” Prisca and Zander say in unison.

“Then your arms better make up for hers.”

Six arms with swords come out from the ruler’s back. Despite his disadvantage, Zander manages to keep up with the flurry of attacks and cuts off two of the extra arms.

“Gah! Impossible!”

“If you only knew the odds, then you’d know that it’s impossible for you to win.”

“Ahhhhh!”

Zander then cuts off another two arms then another two on both sides, which leaves the demon with his original two arms.

“Your reign is over.”

“Not by a longshot!”

An arm comes out of the demon’s mouth with a sword and cuts off Prisca’s other arm in an instant. She writhes in pain as Zander gets her to dodge the demon’s finishing blows. The demon then laughs as continues his assault.

“I’m not giving up yet!” Prisca says as she thinks of a plan that Zander allows her to execute.

She slides through the demon’s attacks and picks up Zander’s sword with her mouth. Zander’s possession of her allows her to fight this way and cut off the mouth hand before beheading the demonic ruler. The symbol of death fades away from Prisca’s eye since the ruler is sent to Hell.

Prisca lets go of the sword in her mouth as she says, “We did it!”

“What did I tell you? Nothing can beat us when we’re together,” Zander says as he heals and wraps Prisca’s dismembered arm, “I’m sorry about your arm. I didn’t expect an arm with a sword to come out of his mouth.”

“It’s okay. We freed the country and you can move onto Heaven.”

“Right. Let’s get out of here.”

Prisca exits the castle the way she came. Zander’s friend sees this and brings in his fellow soldiers to show them what happened in order to take control of the throne. Meanwhile, Prisca rests on the streets of the capital, tired and weary.

“This is hardly a good treatment for a hero,” Prisca says.

“You’ll get your reward in Heaven where our children and I will be waiting for you.”

“How will I survive until then?”

“A priest will come by to take care of you.”

“Are you kidding? I’m of no use to anyone.”

“After what happened tonight, can you truly say that? I’ll be praying for you until I see you again.”

“I’ll see you then. I love you.”

“I love you too.”

Zander shares one last real kiss with Prisca before he fades away from her vision into a bright light that no one else in the capital sees.

After a few moments, a priest walks up to Prisca and says, “Poor woman. You need shelter and a place to stay.”

“I don’t think I’ll be of any use to you, father,” Prisca says as she shows the priest her lack of arms.

“Do not worry. I need people to talk and inspire others. I’m sure you will do this because I was led here to you.”

“Is that so? Ha, alright.”

Prisca becomes a teacher for a small convent in the capital while Zander’s friend becomes the next ruler of the country. Rumors of what happened circulate through the country. The most popular one is that the corrupt ruler had Zander killed and his spirit took revenge on him. Others include mentions of his wife, but she doesn’t play an important role. Despite getting neither glory nor rewards in this life, Prisca moves onto a happy life where she cares for new children to become as brave and strong and she and her husband are.

The End

In Winter’s Clutches

Download the full story for free on Smashwords – https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/910409

Chapter 1 – So Young, but So Evil

It’s Christmas time again and Linus is back to his old ways. He acts like a spoiled brat with a long Christmas list and shows off the good things he does to make everyone think like he earns them. With his overbearing personality, he forcefully gets his way even if he’s doing wrong. If he does wrong, he justifies it by blaming his stress to do good and the responsibilities he has. There aren’t many people in town who actually like him. Most think ill of him while some pray for him to change.

His parents don’t believe in harsh discipline, so this behavior of his has been the same for years with no change in sight. On one harsh winter day, Linus comes back from donating a portion of his payments to a local church. In relation to the amount he got, he only gave a little, but the people in the church thought he gave a lot because of how much he gave. While exiting the church, he accidentally knocks over a nativity scene set that was sitting outside. Many of the figures are broken into pieces and scattered in the snow. Because he wants to get home early to relax, Linus disregards his accident and walks away. On the way home, he comes a homeless man curled up in dirty bedsheets sitting in the doorway of a closed store. The man has received generous donations with various fives, tens, and even two twenties and a fifty-dollar bill in his cup.

Linus sees that the man is barely awake. He thinks to himself that he can take the cup away and if he feels guilty, he can bring it back, but a bit lighter of course due to his fee of mercy. Once he grabs the cup and takes it away, a paranormal force within the snow storm takes him away with its winds and makes him disappear. The chilling gust of wind wakes up the homeless man. He looks down to see that his cup full of donations hasn’t moved as if Linus never took it. Thankful for the donations, he goes to church to donate some of it before using it to rent an apartment room and a warm meal.

In a dimension separate from earth, Linus finds himself in a more intense snow storm. There are no buildings or people nearby, only snow and ice.

A light with wings in a human figure appears to Linus and says, “Because of your continued selfishness, you must rediscover what it means to love.”

“Where am I?”

“You are in Winter’s Clutches. A pocket area in the pride layer of Hell.”

“Hell?! But I’m just a kid!”

“You are within the age of reason. You know what you did was wrong, and you’ve been doing it for years with that knowledge. Now you must redeem yourself or suffer the same fate as those that eternally wander this frozen wasteland.”

“Am I just going to freeze here while you lecture me?”

“No, you will not. This is a dangerous area with many dangerous spirits within it. You have to travel to my light to get to a safe area. This is to test your faith and determination to change. Don’t follow a false light or stray from the path or else the demons of pride will chase you until they catch you and trap you here forever.”

“This is unfair. Haven’t I done enough to make up for my mistakes?”

“All of your good deeds are vanity because you did them to reap the rewards rather than to love. Come to my light and be saved. Your soul rests in your hands.”

“Wait!”

The light travels to its destination within a blink of an eye. With no other choice, Linus begins to walk through the snow. The ground itself is uneven, but it isn’t obvious as all of the snow is fairly level with each other. Sometimes Linus can walk on top of the snow while other times it’s up to his waist. Some of the ice is hidden within this thick layer of snow, which makes him fall on the hard ice a few times. Linus has to walk carefully through the snow while enduring the harsh cold weather at the same time. It’s a taxing process that takes its toll on him within minutes.

The only thing driving him forward is his will to live and the light ahead of him. It gives him a warm feeling, but it also makes him feel guilty. When the wind blows, he hears every selfish act he’s done and word he’s said. He doesn’t want to think about it and tries to keep his guilts out of his head. His eyes begin to tear up because of his guilts and the shame he’s feeling.

Another light in a different direction then catches his eyes. It looks similar to the light he’s following, but it gives him a different feeling. He no longer feels guilty as his good actions are praised by the wind. The light itself gives off a weird cold chill that feels warm and comforting. The thought then occurs to Linus that what the light said to him might’ve been a trick. He’s always tried to do the right thing, so why should he be forced to do this challenge in the pride level of Hell of all places.

He decides to follow it instead of the original light. As he walks towards it, he feels stronger and more energized. To Linus, this seems to be the right way because of how it makes him feel and the idea he has about it. He then begins to hear other movements besides his own. It sounds like someone or something is walking in the snow. This makes him remember the demons of pride that will come after him should he stray from the light. He counters this thought by thinking that he’s hearing another person like him walking in the snow. Surely there must be other people like him since this dimension is so vast and expansive.

The sound of the being moving through the snow then begin to sound irregular for a normal person to be walking through it. It sounds like something large is trying to quietly and slowly walk through it. This sound seems like it’s heading in his direction. He thinks to himself that someone must be heading towards the same light he’s heading too since it seems to be the right one. This thought keeps him calm until the sound gets really close to him. When he turns around, he is shocked by what he sees.

It’s a tall, white, and lanky creatures with long legs, arms, and fingers. Its legs have a singular sharp foot that it uses to take long steps with. If it was in a simple room, it would have to bend down because of how tall it is. The demon then points at Linus with its contorted and long fingers as if it’s accusing him. It slowly opens its mouth while a noise that sounds like the scraping of nails on a chalkboard comes out. The silent rise of this noise is distracting and painful to listen to, but the soon of something moving behind Linus gets him to turn around to see a demon on all fours with a smile on its face and arm raised. He quickly rolls out of the way and runs towards the original light as the demons chase him.

They crawl on all fours and are fast enough to catch up with Linus who is the fastest runner in his school. The demons swipe at his legs, head, and arms to try to grab or trip him, but he manages to just barely stay ahead. Linus then runs across a frozen river. He slips and slides across it while trying to balance himself. He then comes to a halt around the center of the river with the demons standing in the snow.

Thinking they can’t walk across the ice, he smiles and says, “Ha! Can’t get me now, can ya?”

The demons smile then walk on two legs. With long strides, they rapidly close the distance between them and Linus. In a panic, Linus slips and slides across the ice until he reaches the solid snow just in time to avoid the demons’ clutches. He keeps running until the light is within reach. Once he gets to it, he enters into a simple cabin with a fireplace, chairs, and a dinner table with holiday food and drinks ready to consume. Linus eats his fill of ham and turkey and drinks a jug of tea because of how hungry and thirsty he is after the long chase.

The light with wings and a human figure comes out of the fireplace. Its face is clearer now, but it doesn’t appear to have one. It says, “Linus, I’m glad you made it.”

“Me too. Can you tell me what I need to learn so I can get out of here?”

“Have patience, boy. You will learn everything you need to know in good time. Tell me what charity is about.”

“It’s about helping the poor and needy.”

“It’s much more than that. It’s about showing your love of God by showing love to your neighbor. You show this by sacrificing or giving something to someone else who needs it.”

“Don’t I already do that when I give to charities and to the church?”

“Not at all even though it is the same act. It is your motivations that are wrong. You give to other people to make yourself feel good. To be praised and to be rewarded for your ‘good deeds’. You don’t even give enough for your charity to count as a sacrifice. It would be one thing if you gave a little because you had little, but you have so much more to give. You give so little that you might as well have not given at all.”

“Oh…I get it now. I can’t even save money, can I?”

“Currency is meant to be spent. You can save it up as long as you plan to spend it on something good that God would approve of.”

“Would if I become poor?”

“God takes care of all his creatures. The birds of the sky don’t work and are rarely given food by other creatures and God makes sure these creatures are fed. If He cares about them enough to feed them, then He will surely take care of you as well. You will eventually die and lose everything you have here except for your soul. That is unless your soul is rotten then it will be thrown into the eternal fire.”

“Why is this so serious? I thought the holidays were supposed to be a light and joyful time.”

“When you spit in the face of that in the form of your actions, especially during the month of the King of King’s birth, then your punishment must fit the crime.”

“I see.”

“You’re a smart boy, Linus. If you open yourself up to understanding, then you will survive this. Rest for now then head back out into the storm.”

“This isn’t over yet?”

“Not quite.”

The light fades back into the fireplace as Linus sits on the couch by the fire and passes out.

 

 

 

Chapter 2 – An Example to Remember

A cold chill makes its way into the cabin and wakes up Linus.

The light says to Linus, “You have to get going. The demons are coming.”

“Okay, okay.”

When Linus opens the door, the cabin behind him is swept completely away from him as if it was a piece of paper. The chilling wind bites yet again into his skin, which makes him brace himself. He lifts his head to see the light waiting for him in the distance. This time it seems farther away than last time. After a traveling a short distance into the storm, Linus finds himself in a forest with frozen trees and plants.

The vegetation here appears to be good enough to eat, but it’s stuck behind a thick sheet of ice. There are hide sheets of ice hidden near the vegetation as if they were placed there to purposefully slowly kill the vegetation or to trap someone hungry enough to be seduced by the appetizing look of the fruit. Linus makes sure to watch his steps while traversing this forest that soon becomes maze-like. Some of the trees are clustered together with ice surrounding them. He could fit through the gaps between the trees, but the ice is too slippery to attempt that. After what he experienced, he’s decided to not take any shortcuts no matter how right they feel to take.

Sounds of movement then catch his ear. This surprises him since he thought that he was doing the right thing. There shouldn’t be any demons chasing him, but then again, the light did say the demons were coming. Regardless, he still takes his time navigating the frozen forest. Even when the demons are in sight, he calms his nerves while focusing on the ice around him. There is a total of five demons around Linus or more. It’s hard for Linus to tell if the same ones are following him or if they’re more in the forest because of how the winter storm is. The demons themselves don’t seem to see him nor know where he is despite being so close, which is in stark contrast to how easily they found him in the frozen wasteland.

The idea gets into Linus’ head that him straying from the original path was the thing that attracted them to him like how the light said. He tries to keep thinking this as the demons cross paths with him and come uncomfortably close. Fortunately for him, there are plenty of trees and rock-like bushes to hide behind along the way. Progress through the forest goes by smoothly and without a hitch until one of the demons gets frustrated. It slams its fists into the ground several times like a primate while yelling its terrible yell. Smaller humanoid figures appear in the distance. At first, they seem to be normal people, but their lack of clothing makes them look extremely suspicious. Half of their head then splits in half to reveal a mouth with dozens of sharp teeth. The people also have a hole in their chest with a shriveled heart inside. These people appear to be the ones who failed to follow the light.

This shocks Linus as he becomes unsure of what to do. He tries dealing with them like the demons, but their erratic movements with their limbs and heads disturb him. It’s like they’re suffering inside their bodies and are trying to break out of them but can’t. They let out high pitched screams inconsistently, which shocks and makes Linus stay in place. He wants to keep moving to not end up like these people, but his fear keeps freezing him in place. This gets him in trouble as a demon comes close enough to see him.

Another chase ensues as both the demons and condemned souls run after him. The demons are able to easily traverse through the frozen trees and ice. The condemned are able to bite their way through the trees and their erratic movements negate the slippery ice. More shortcuts are in sight as if the forest itself is alive as false lights begin to shine through the trees.

They whisper to Linus, “Follow us.”

“Come to us.”

“We’ll keep you safe.”

“We’ll lead you to salvation.”

“The angel will only damn you.”

“You were right all along.”

“We’ll handsomely reward you.”

Linus does his best to ignore these voices no matter how sweet they sound or how enticing their offer is because he knows that it won’t end well. He manages to stay ahead of all the monsters while staying on the path towards the light. The storm then begins to pick up with snow quickly covering the ice around him. He has to have faith in the light ahead of him in order to not slip or walk on the ice. Even though he does slip a couple times, he makes it to the light by the skin of his teeth.

He finds himself in a cabin again with food, drinks, and warm fireplace there for his efforts. Linus digs in because this challenge was more taxing than the last. Even though what just happened might’ve seemed like it took a half hour at the most, he feels like it took a couple hours or even three hours at most to get through it all. After getting his fill, the light emerges from the fireplace, but this time its body is clearer. It appears to have a masculine figure with robes made from that of a tiger.

It says to Linus, “I’m glad you made it, but you can’t always get by like this.”

“I didn’t mean to.”

“I know. You must have faith and not fear any of the abominations that wander this plane of existence. If you do that, nothing will worry you. Not even death.”

“I’ll have to practice that then.”

“You’ll have plenty of time to here.”

“Oh great. Now, what do you have to tell me now?”

“What are you most grateful for?”

“My parents and the skills that I have.”

“Name some more things.”

“…I can’t.”

“What about this chance you are given to change? A lot of people lead lives like yours fully aware of their horrible actions and live them anyways without any plans to change or take responsibility for what they do.”

“I guess I am. I don’t feel thankful for it, but I guess I should. Why am I given this chance?”

“Because you were about to go over the point of no return. Your way of thinking is also able to be humbled in order for your ways to change.”

“Were the other people I saw out there like me?”

“Yes, they were. Everyone is given the same chance and the same level of difficulties to overcome. None are handicapped or given an easier challenge.”

“So then how did those other people die?”

“They chose to give up. They thought they knew better and did what they wanted to instead of following the instructions they were given. You were smart enough to pick yourself up when you fell.”

“Alright!”

“Don’t let it get to your head. Remember that this layer of Hell specifically punishes the prideful.”

“I’ll be sure to.”

“Good. Now rest up for the next challenge. Because what you’ll be facing next is so daunting, remember also to have faith and hope. These will carry you through what seems to be an impossible obstacle to overcome.”

“Can you tell me more?”

“Unfortunately no, but the only thing I can tell you is to not slip up.”

“That doesn’t sound good.”

“It wasn’t meant to. You should, nevertheless, be able to pass this challenge if you follow my advice. I trust that you will even though this may be the toughest one.”

“Great.”

The light goes back into the fireplace as Linus continues to eat and reflect on what the light told him. After about ten minutes, he falls asleep by the fire while holding onto a pillow as if it were his mother. He wishes he was back home with his family to tell them how much he appreciates them and how sorry he is for the things he’s done. There’s a part of him that also wishes that she and his dad would’ve told him what was right instead of approving of all his actions. He wishes that he got in trouble and talked down to so that he would know better. Now, he can only hope they do this to him later in case he becomes selfish and self-centered again.

 

 

Chapter 3 – The Slippery Slope

The cabin Linus is in suddenly shakes.

It wakes him up as the light from the fireplace speaks, “Hurry and wake up, Linus. The demons will be here soon.”

“Alright. Give me a second.”

“Be careful on your way out.”

“Right.”

Linus stretches and gulps down a glass of warm iced tea before exiting the door and falling door a slippery mountain of ice. He manages to catch himself on a piece of ice that juts out from the side of the rugged ice. Looking down at the mountain, he sees that it’s a long way down to the light as if he’s standing on the world’s tallest mountain that can reach the atmosphere. Several icicles, the size of a normal human being, jut out of it that Linus can use to safely slide down to the end. It’s even colder up on the mountain with a harsher wind and biting chill.

The temperatures keep Linus in place as he endures the cold. That is until demons break through the cabin and start slipping down the mountain. Linus then falls from one large icicle to another until his legs almost get caught in a large mouth. There are condemned souls within the ice of the mountain. They still appear to be alive, but these condemned have extra teeth behind their normal teeth that are larger than them. Their hands are little heads as with the fingers being teeth and their palms being mouths.

The condemned twitch and fidget as they try to break out of the thick ice. It seems that there is a countless amount of them trapped within the mountain. The ones near the surface seem like they could break out any second, so Linus makes sure to move swiftly, decisively, and carefully. The demons behind him walk with long strides with their legs while others fall from icicle to icicle like him to catch up. Some miscalculate their movements and fall down the mountain. Others are caught in the mouths of the condemned.

Even though Linus has foes on all sides that are aiming for him, they are unable to get to him despite their best efforts. It’s almost as if there’s an invisible barrier protecting him. Linus continues to keep a steady pace despite the constant close calls and the seemingly never-ending slide down the huge mountain. The light feels closer and closer with each fall down. The wind speaking his guilts and deeds no longer bother him because he sees the chance to redeem himself. A chance to be a new and better person.

As he continues to slide down, several other lights can be seen. They are lesser lights, but they let out a sort of burning freeze. These lights gravitate Linus towards them. He fights against their pull while continuing to fall to the original light. The lesser light’s pull becomes stronger and stronger the closer he gets to the end. Their pull becomes so strong that they completely through Linus off course from where he meant to slide to. He begins to become worried because it doesn’t seem like he’s going to make it.

Knowing the consequences of losing faith, Linus holds onto it and hopes that the light will catch him at the end. Near the end of the mountain, he can see that the lesser lights have long dark skinny hands in them. They reach out towards him and continuously scrape the side of the mountain as if trying to pull the mountain closer to bring him closer. Voices from these lights call out his name and beckon him towards him. Their pull is extremely strong from this distance as Linus struggles to hold onto the icicle. It seems like his chances for survival are slim, but he has no choice but to move. The demons behind him are swiftly approaching and are already reaching out to him with smiles on their faces.

He closes his eyes as he lets go of the icicle and trusts in the light to catch him. As he slides down, the multiple arms from the lesser light converge on him, but a hand from his light grabs Linus in the blink of an eye. After being grabbed, he opens his eyes to see his light holding him. The light’s features are clearer now with eyes on its angel wings.

“You did it, Linus.”

“I…I knew I would…somehow.”

The cabin Linus is in is the same as the rest. His light lets him down so that he can rest.

“What are you going to teach me about now?”

“What you just did to pass the last challenge which is having faith and hope. To have faith is to trust in a person despite your concerns and worries. It’s a constant action you must take every day in order to trust God and those around you. To have hope is to be sure that you will be saved. You must feel some sureness and comfort in yourself to have true faith. Both of these are intertwined and a means of saving your soul.”

“How do I show that I have faith and hope?”

“By doing what you just did. You have to trust in God, in what’s right, and then act from there. Faith without action is a dead faith because it shows a lack of faith in one’s self and in the person being trusted.”

“What about hope? What if things seem hopeless?”

“Then have faith. You know that better things are waiting for you in the future as long as you keep your faith and work towards them. Even when everything seems lost and the chances of success are slim like you saw, you will be caught and brought into safety.”

“Thank you. That’s reassuring to know.”

“You’ve grown so much, Linus and in a short amount of time.”

“Well, when you’re forced to see the consequences of your actions, it can change you in a matter of seconds, right? Also, the constant threat of eternal death and torment help too.”

“That’s always a threat in your normal reality. A single mortal sin will condemn you to Hell and you’ve committed many.”

“Thank God for this second chance then even if it’s a bit harsh.”

“Your parents never disciplined you like they should’ve.”

“They cared about me too much to.”

“But in actuality, discipline is a form of love. It’s better to correct someone you love now than to leave them to reap the harsh consequences of their ignorance later.”

“Will my parents be punished for not disciplining me?”

“In a way, they will be.”

“Can you please have mercy on them? I know that even though they are partially to blame for me being here, can you spare them from their punishment?”

“I can if you make it back them.”

“That’s good. How are they doing now? I bet they’re worried sick about me since I was supposed to be home.”

“Time works differently here. If you return home, it will be as if mere seconds passed.”

“That’s convenient.”

“You only have one more challenge ahead. Be prepared for it.”

“Can you tell me anything that will help me pass it?”

“It’s going to be more difficult than the last.”

“That doesn’t help!”

“Then remember the two greatest commandments. Love God above all and love your neighbor as you love yourself.”

The light fades into the fireplace as it’s given its final word on the matter of the challenge. Linus sits down to eat and rest with what the light said in his mind until he falls asleep.

 

Chapter 4 – Breaking an Icy Soul

For the last time, Linus is wakened up by the light for his last challenge.

“It’s time,” it says from the fireplace.

Linus has woken up groggily every time, but this time he shoots up and immediately goes out the door. He’s now in the icy center of pride. The devil is suspended in the center and is separated from Linus by a chasm. Satan’s limbs, body, head, and throat are wrapped in chains. He fidgets as spirits and energy are released from his body to exert his influence on the world as far as God allows. The body of Satan itself is at least as big as the mountain that Linus slid down.

Several demons and condemned souls crawl up from the depths of the chasm and surround Linus. There doesn’t appear to be any way out as the hordes surround the boy on all sides. They laugh and mock him as they push him around and swipe at him to make him dance for their enjoyment. The condemned souls here are much different than the previous ones. Because they are much crueler, there are more teeth in their mouth, which includes a snake-like mouth in it as well. Additional mouths line their skin that continuously eat their regenerating skin. Along with their hands being mouths, their feet have also become mouths as well. These particular condemned scare Linus the most.

They taunt him by saying, “You’re going to be like us, kid!”

“You can suffer with the rest of the brats here after we tear you apart limb from limb!”

“I’ve forgotten how children scream out in terror and pain! Give us a reminder won’t ya?!”

“We’ll be sure to make your pain last forever and ever!”

Several dark spirits spit out from Satan. The crowd of demons and condemned move aside to make way for them. The dark spirits morph themselves into different versions of Linus that are like the condemned and demons of pride.

One speaks, “I have a pride that rivals the devil.”

Another, “Look how good I am! I’m truly an angel among angels sent by God!”

And another, “What else do I need to trust in besides myself? I’m already amazing as is.”

The doppelgangers then surround Linus and begin throwing punches at him. None of the punches land weirdly enough, which gives Linus the opportunity to fight and push them back.

Unaffected by his attacks, the copies say, “Hahaha! So much for you being a force to be reckoned with!”

“A lowly street dog has more strength than you do!”

“You don’t have a chance to escape with your power!”

The three then start swinging at Linus again, but they never harm him. Thinking of solutions in his head, Linus remembers that through this journey he has learned to despise himself, but that’s not what he’s supposed to do. He thinks to himself that he should love himself and that he can’t everything on his own. He then puts his hands together to pray. As he does this, he can feel, not his heart, but the very core of his soul starts to crack and melt as if it had been frozen for years. A light then begins to shine from his body and scare away the demons and condemned while teleporting Linus away to a view overlooking all of Winter’s Clutches.

He sees all of the challenges he’s faced along with other areas he hasn’t seen. He can even see other normal people going through their challenges. Most fail while few succeed.

The light descends from above and says, “Congratulation, Linus. You’ve done what few do.”

“I guess I can be pretty amazing-if I put my selfishness aside.”

“Do you know what the goal of life is that this season emphasizes?”

“It’s to spread the love that God shows us back to Him and to our neighbor. We do that through our actions during the seasons, but we shouldn’t just show it now. We should be doing this for our entire life.”

“That’s right.”

The light hugs Linus.

“I’m so glad that you came back to your senses.”

Linus hugs back.

“Thank you for bringing me back to them. What happens now?”

A strong gust of snow sweeps Linus up into the wind. When he opens his eyes, he’s standing in front of his house.

“Oh…I guess this does,” Linus says aloud, “But I’ll always treasure my experience and the lessons they taught me. Yes, today, I’m a new boy!”

Linus’ parents step outside the house because they head him talking. He hugs them and tells them how much he loves them and how he’s going to be a better son from now on. He then heads inside with the biggest smile they’d seen on his face in a while. In terms of changing, he takes off things from his Christmas list, goes back to the church to donate more money, and becomes friends with the other kids at his school with the goal of having a relationship with them instead of taking advantage of their smarts and abilities. Everyone in town doesn’t have a clue as to why he changed, but they like it. Linus becomes a loving and productive member of his community with the goal of staying like this for the rest of his life thanks to the lessons he’s learned and the challenges that disciplined him.

 

The End

Happy Holidays and Merry Christmas!