Always One Step from Hell

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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!

Growing Up Late

Download the full story for free on Smashwords – https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/905559

Chapter 1 – Old in Age but Young in Mind

Most people wish they could live forever the way they did when they were children. Zita was spoiled as a child even as an adult. When she did bad in school, her parents took her out of it permanently and taught her how to live by themselves. They gave her everything she wanted and more. Her parents were her only friends for most of her life until they died when she was thirty-five years old. She inherited their great wealth and did whatever she wanted.

Inspired by the internet, she played video games, reviewed anime and manga, and generally acted like your average attention whore on the web. To get even more attention, she intentionally put naked pictures of herself across the internet. In addition, she played and reviewed hentai video games, and recorded doing lewd things and put all of this on pornographic websites. All of this gave her the attention she wanted. She felt loved and important. She thought that as long as she did whatever her audience wanted, she would be happy forever.

Zita is forty-years-old now, but still dresses and looks like she’s in her early twenties. With her dressing style and makeup, she hides her age. Even though she’s a bit chubby because she never leaves her apartment, her fans like her because she’s “thicc” and that’s enough for her not to worry about her health. She even uses to entice people to make them think she likes wearing tight clothes even though it’s a bit uncomfortable. Her apartment is mostly a mess hidden by the few clean spots in it that she shows on camera. The rooms with her collections of comics, video games, anime, and movies are all spotless along with the room that she sleeps in that contain her figures. The apartment room smells like a weird mixture of candy and perfume to coat the stink of an unclean room.

Today is a strange day for her. Her front door is locked along with the windows. She can’t break them down nor can she call or text anyone. Her computer mysteriously won’t turn on as well even though she had it upgraded not too long ago.

“I need to think what to do over breakfast,” she says as she looks into the fridge only to find that it’s empty. “I could’ve sworn I bought food, drinks, and ingredients last week.”

Zita’s parents taught her how to breakfast, lunch, and dinner for herself, but she usually orders. Now with nothing to eat, she lays down on her couch, hungry, worried, and confused as to what is happening. This is when a large hand forms out of her wall. It opens its hand to reveal a mouth in the center of its palm.

The hand says to her, “Zita, I am the hand of judgment. You have yet to grow up and take responsibility for your actions.”

“I’m a good girl who doesn’t do anything wrong. What are you talking about?”

“You will see very soon. There’s a hole in your closet. Climb through it and you will escape your room to face your first challenge.”

“Challenge? Do I get a prize at the end?”

“If you win, you will grow up and live a better life. If you lose, you will suffer for all eternity.”

“And if I don’t accept the challenge?”

“You lose automatically, and you’ll have to rot to death in this apartment.”

“I’ll take the first option then.”

When she goes into her room, the hand of judgment follows her by forming out of the ceiling in her room.

“Are you going to be my guide?” Zita asks the hand.

“In a way, but I your choices will determine whether or not you will survive.”

“That’s peachy.”

Zita moves her clothes around and finds a large hole in it.

“You didn’t make the hole this large because you think I’m fat, do you?”

“It’s made with the intention of you going through it. Now go if you have decided to.”

Even though the hole is relatively large, Zita has some trouble going through it. It’s a tight fit that’s difficult to go through. She reaches the end of the tunnel after ten seconds of crawling. The tunnel has led her to a small aquarium with various kinds of fishes in the many tanks. Paintings of the many fishes are drawn swimming through the ocean on the walls. Above her is a curved glass ceiling that shows the night sky even though it was morning when Zita left her apartment.

“Okay, where to now?”

“You must reach the exit of this building while being hunted by a hunter who is modeled after yourself,” the hand tells her. It’s nowhere to be seen but its voice echoes through her mind.

“What’s this challenge supposed to prove?”

“That you’re honest about changing for the better.”

“This’ll be easy then. I’ve played so many hide-and-seek horror games already.”

Using her knowledge of horror games, Zita carefully walks through the aquarium while trying not to make any noise. The entire building is uncomfortably quiet so much so that she can hear the fish swimming in their glass casing. One of the fishes catches her attention. It’s a red Chinese fighting fish that is swimming by the end of the tank looking at her. Back in her youth, Zita wanted to study fish and take care of them, but when her patience for the subject wore out, she left it behind like so many other jobs that interested her. When she gets close to the fish, it hits the glass so hard that the noise reverberates through the building and leaves a crack in the glass. Another crack of glass is heard above Zita, as she looks up to see her monster. It drops from the ceiling and crashes into the floor unscathed.

The monster is huge as it takes up half the hallway. Its skinny pink clothes are so tight that its skin oozes a black liquid. The arms of the creature are thin, and its fingers are as long as Zita’s arms. Its legs are swollen from its thighighs along with its feet. Black veins pop out from the creature’s skin as well as its bony spine. Its hair is a dirty blond with a thin black bow on it. Pink makeup covers its broken face that has no eyes.

“If this is like those psychological games I played, then I can handle this!” Zita confidently says as she punches the hunchbacked monster in the face to no effect.

It grabs Zita and slams her into the ground multiple times then smashes her into a fish tank and drowns her. She wakes up in her bed and begins to vomit water. The water never stops coming out of her stomach, so she goes to the bathroom and almost fills up the tube with all of the water she vomits. This is the first time in a while that’s she felt any kind of real pain, any kind of defeat. Her appearance is now that of a woman in her late twenties with most of her makeup gone. The damage done to her was immense and is multiplied by the fact that she’s lived a comfortable life for all of it. Her nerves are shot, and her body convulses with panic.

In need of immediate relaxation, she takes out one of her sex toys and tries to use it, but a sharp black spike comes out of it and impales her from her crotch through to her head. Instead of dying immediately, it takes her body a few agonizing minutes of the worst pain to kill her. Again, she wakes up in her bed, but this time she feels completely dead inside. She can’t make herself feel better instantly. She’s died twice already without completing any of her challenges, and now she looks like she’s in her thirties with no makeup at all. Despair has its grips on her, freezing her in thought.

The hand of judgment says, “You will need to grow up if you want to survive this. Get up and try again. If you don’t, then you’ll suffer forever because of your previous actions. Decide.”

The black and whiteness of her choices force her to move out of her bed and back into the aquarium. Zita doesn’t let anything distract her this time. Her monster still jumps down from the ceiling, but this time she runs and hides. The monster cannot smell her, and its vision is very limited, so it focuses more on sound than anything else. It overcomes some of its disabilities by smashing whatever hiding spots that Zita could hide under. Because of this, she is forced to go from hiding spot to hiding spot until she realizes that she’s close to the exit. When she sees it, she makes a break for it and makes it through the exit right before it catches her.

Upon exiting the aquarium, Zita finds herself back in her apartment standing in front of her front door as if she just went through it. She tries opening the door and finds that it’s still locked from the inside. After the challenge, she falls to the floor in tears.

“I don’t know if I can do this,” Zita admits to herself.

“Of course you can. You just made it through the first challenge. That shows me that you have a chance of getting through the rest,” the hand of judgment says with a stern but caring voice. “Now get up. Another challenge awaits you and the main vice that damages you and the people you affect.”

“Oh boy. What fun,” Zita miserably says.

 

 

 

 

Chapter 2 – Hunter and the Hunter

“Where did you make the next exit?” Zita asks with a dry voice.

“Just go through that door,” the hand says as it points towards it.

Zita smiles a bit as she remembers what’s behind the door. A spark in her mind wakes her conscience up and makes her think that what she loves to do might be wrong.

“You know what’s behind that door,” the hand says, “Your vices will destroy you if you don’t let go of that destructive force within yourself.”

“I…I don’t know if I can…but I have to try, right?”

“You have to not only try but accomplish it. There must be no hesitation in your decision or else you will die.”

Zita has never had so much pressure on her. Her body still doesn’t feel the same after the two painful deaths she suffered. She can feel a change happening in her mind and body.

“What you’re feeling is change. It feels painful, but it is good for you,” the hand notes as it notices her pain.

“I hope so. If I have to go through these challenges, then I will.”

Zita opens the door and ends up in a park with the sun setting. The gates around the park are locked and the edges of the fences are sharp and could cut anything that touches it.

“You remember this park, don’t you?” the echoing voice of the hand asks.

“I do. It was a fun place to be in.”

“But you never used the park as most people use it.”

“I did. I met people here. Tons of boys that wanted to be my friend.”

“You did more than become friends with them. Even though the sun is setting, it will soon rise up again. Stay alive until then.”

Zita quickly looks for a hiding spot and places in the dark to stay.

“What? No quip about your video games?”

“Huh? Oh uh…I don’t have one right now.”

After looking around, Zita finds a spot to hide in. It’s a small hollow out hump that people like to climb and sit on. It’s covered by trees and there is a little scattering of boulders and rocks nearby that are left there from the park’s construction. The deafening silence sets in as Zita hides within the lump and waits. An hour seemingly passes before a murder of crows is disturbed. They fly into the sky and away from whatever spooked them. Looking deeper into the darkness, she sees her monster creeping through it. It moves quietly despite its large size though it doesn’t appear to know where Zita is, for now.

Even though she isn’t in any immediate danger, Zita’s heart starts beating fast and her monster appears to pick up on it. Seeing that it’s reacting to her heart, she calms down by thinking in jokes. She reminds herself of the small good times she had playing games, which had her in similar situations to this, but not as deadly of course. Her efforts rewarded her with dozens of “friends” because of her simple ability to play video games and react to them in front of a camera.

She then began to think to herself, “That is a pretty shallow thing to do that most people try on the internet nowadays to become famous and rich. I’m not as special as I think I am for doing the same thing they are. Maybe there’s something more I can do with the talents I have. Maybe I can get new ones that’ll do more for people.”

After thinking for a bit, Zita notices that it’s getting brighter outside. The thought then hits her that she survived the last challenge by not messing around and dedicating herself to changing, so she continues thinking.

“My parents were very smart people and saved up money until they could live on it without having to work for the rest of their lives. They even saved up enough for me to live on their inheritance for the rest of my life as well. I can do things with the money I have and not worry too much about failing once or twice. They were really good parents, but…do I really want to give up this life? Everything that I love in it. Everything that makes me happy. Everything that gives me…pleasure…”

A small shriek is made from the darkness. A horde of five childlike creatures emerge from the trees. They have blank faces and parts of their flesh missing like a jigsaw puzzle. Something about these creatures stirs a part of Zita. She starts to feel hot and she starts to rub her arms. This feeling gets so extreme until she feels like she wants to touch herself more sexually. Zita resists until she lets the feeling overwhelm her. This is when her monster and the creatures know where she is.

Unfortunately, Zita is trapped within her lust and has to fight for control over herself. It isn’t until the monsters are right on top of her until she’s able to run away. She regrets giving herself up to her temptations as she runs through scattered rocks. Her monster crashes through what’s ever in its way while the children leap all around her, trying to find an opening to attack her from. Eventually, she runs out of cover and a child manages to cut off her right leg with one swipe. Time begins to move slowly as the rest of her limbs are cut off by the creatures.

“What did I do to deserve this? Am I really as good as parents always said I was?”

The creatures then tear out her eyes then her jaw along with all of her teeth. Her breasts are torn out as well with her ears and nose while the rest of her body is cut at until she is nothing more than a bloody mess that looks more like a pig than human. Despite her injuries, she’s still clinging to life and the sun is still trying to rise, so there’s still a chance that she might win.

“I regret what I did. I see why it’s wrong now. I’ll give it up not because I want the pain to end, but because it’s the right thing to do.”

The sun then begins to rapidly rise as her monster stands over her. It picks her up and tears her body in two just as the sun takes its place in the sky. Zita wakes back up in her room.

The hand says, “Because of what you said, you passed your challenge just barely. Congratulations.”

Zita gets on her knees and bows before the hand.

“I’m sorry for everything I’ve done! Even though I don’t think I can bring myself to get rid of my vices, please give me the strength to do so.”

“That will be done. Because you have shown humility, you will no longer be killed as long as you continue showing it. Now go into that room and release him.”

“Okay.”

Zita enters the bedroom next to hers to release the young boy she has captive. The boy is a fan of hers who she managed to meet up with. She usually tries to meet her young fans that are boys to have sex with them. This boy, in particular, told his parents that he would be away for a while with his friends. Zita’s been using him as her personal sex doll for almost a week now. There were some boys that stayed for entire summers tied up and under Zita’s control because they were captured by her degenerate influence.

She unchains the boy and gives him back his clothes and what he came with.

“What is it, Zita? You seem stressed. Are we going to go out together?”

“No, you’re going to have to go.”

“Why? Am I boring you? Maybe there’s something I can do to change your mind.”

The boy tries touching Zita inappropriately, but she smacks his hand away.

“No! I’m sorry I did this to you. It was wrong of me to do this to you and so many other young boys.”

“But I liked it and I thought you did too.”

“I did, but that’s changed, and you should too. You shouldn’t let people take advantage of you like this. You’re a smart boy who should be doing more with his life than just looking for sex.”

“Oh…well. Um…”

“Go home to your parents and live a better life.”

“Okay. Will I ever see you again?”

“You shouldn’t, but if you do, I’m not going to be the same.”

“Alright…well. Goodbye then.”

The young boy hugs Zita, takes his stuff, then leaves the apartment. Zita walks up to the door and tries opening it but finds that it is locked again as it only let out the boy.

The hand says to her, “Do you really believe the reason why you are wrong?”

“Not really. Every boy I was with consented to me.”

“Not every boy consented to you. You aren’t even allowed to have sex until you are wedded. There’s a man about your age a couple rooms down that you make small talk to. He’s interested in you, but you’ve barely given him any attention. Are you so sick that only boys thirty years younger than you are the only kind that interest you?”

Zita looks into a mirror to see that she almost looks her exact age.

“But I made them feel happier, didn’t I? I’ve had so many boys tell me how happy they were when they were with me. I’ve made so many friends because of it.”

“You still have a lot of change to go through.”

Zita sighs then says, “Then change me. I’m ready.”

 

 

 

Chapter 3 – Deadly Ignorance

The hand of judgment says, “If you are to truly change, then must accept what you are not. You must die in a manner of speaking.”

“I’m used to dying.”

“Physically yes, but not in terms of your personality. That part must die.”

“How do I do that?”

“Admit where you are wrong. This next challenge will help you do that.”

“Okay. Where’s the next uncomfortable hole I need to crawl through?”

“You don’t need to go anywhere.”

“Sweet.”

“You won’t think it’s so “sweet” when the challenge starts.”

“What do you mean?”

Zita is immobilized and falls onto her floor.

“Ow. I guess my floors are a bit too dirty. I do have to clean myself up a bit.”

“That’s only part of it, which I’m glad you’re seeing.”

“Is it because I’m lazy? Do I watch too much anime and play too many video games?”

“You can keep your comics and video games. Just get rid your pornographic materials including the things you have on the web. You’re allowed to have your leisurely activities as long as you keep it in moderation.”

“Alright. I can do that. Is there anything else I should know?”

“If you’re able to think about it, then you can be released from this challenge before it starts.”

“Umm…Ahhh…I got nothing.”

“Then your next challenge starts now. Everything that happens to you is in your mind. Nothing you see is true. Nothing you feel is real. Keep that in mind and you will survive.”

“What I’m imagining for this challenge, isn’t too good.”

“You have the right idea.”

“Wait-Nevermind…I’ll go through it.”

“Good.”

The hand retracts itself into the wall as Zita awaits what she knows it coming. She can hear something moving within the walls of her apartment. It sounds like the childlike creatures are coming for her. They sound like they’re splitting up into different groups to find an opening in the wall to enter through. Their claws scratch at the inside of the walls and break little bits and pieces out of it, but they are unable to break through the walls or find an entrance in.

A few minutes of nerve-wracking seconds pass by with nothing happening. The creatures don’t make any noise, nor can they be seen through the holes they made. Zita then begins to feel something strange stirring within her. A pain that feels unnatural that’s coming from places that these pains shouldn’t be coming from. She calms herself down and reminds herself that nothing she is feeling is real. This calms down her pain, but it doesn’t get rid of the sensation.

Four child creatures then emerge from her body. Her ears, mouth, and stomach to be specific. These places of her body expand beyond what their limits are and yet they don’t break. Zita feels the pain of these creatures clawing their way out of her and her mind is tempted to think this is real despite the absurdity of it. The pain is intense and numbs her senses and reason. She starts to sweat blood from the stress of the situation as her body begins to think that this pain is real.

Zita wrangles control of herself and thinks, “I…I can’t think this is real! It-it just isn’t!”

Her pain subsides again though the sensations still remain. The four creatures are now outside of her body that is back to the way it was before as if the creatures never emerged from it. They stand over her and start to caress her body like a massage therapist looking for tension and stress in a person. The creatures then begin to cut bits and pieces of her skin out. Each piece of skin cut out is more painful than the last, but she stays strong.

Seeing that she’s won’t even scream, the creatures then begin to cut parts of her body like they did in their first appearance. First, her arms go. Then her legs. Then her eyes. Zita closes her eyes after they’ve been plucked out and is afraid to open them up as the creatures slowly run their claws all around her body.

“I…I don’t know if I can do this anymore!” she thinks to herself as the pain worsens.

“Remember, Zita. Are you going to put yourself first? Or what is truly right?” the hand says.

“I’ll…I don’t always know what’s right, so…I put my trust in what is actually right.”

“Then open your eyes.”

Zita opens her eyes to see that she can see. The creatures have disappeared along with her injuries. She can now stand up perfectly fine as if nothing happened at all. Her room now seems to be clean and whatever blemishes she had on her body are gone as well.

The hand then reappears out of the wall, “Your faith has healed you.”

“Oh, that’s what that was. I understand now.”

“But do you? Can you tell me what you did wrong?”

“I’m afraid I’m a bit slow. I can’t word it correctly.”

“Instead of wanting to learn what is truly good, you stuck yourself in the willful ignorance of your parents.”

“My parents weren’t good people? They helped so many people in their careers and made me happy for the rest of their lives.”

“Fool. They were self-righteous hypocrites who only helped those who helped them, and you perfectly took after them. If you weren’t so ignorant to the truth, then you would’ve been struck down by now by your own hand.”

“I’m still struggling to understand where I went wrong.”

“Keep in mind the lesson you learned. That what is truly good is better than what you have in mind. Don’t play God with your decisions by thinking you have equal or better solutions than God has.”

“I wouldn’t do that.”

“But you have along with most people who say the same thing. They’re nothing but children who live in their own fantasies where they dictate what’s right and wrong, even if they say it’s from God. Do you want proof? You will see the fruits of the tree you’ve planted in your final challenge.”

“Will it be more painful than the last?”

“It will, but in a different way than you’re thinking.”

 

 

 

 

Chapter 4 – The Death and Rebirth of Self

“Where’s this final challenge of mine?” Zita asks the hand of judgment.

“You already know where it is. It is in the only room you didn’t go in yet.”

“What about that room?”

“Don’t be so ignorant. You know what’s special about it that separates it from the other room you freed that captive boy from.”

“It’s my recording room.”

“The last time you used it you recorded a pornographic video in it, and I’m sure the boy you recorded it with has yet to come out.”

“He…I guess consent doesn’t matter.”

“It’s not the consent that matters the most in this situation. It’s what you did to the poor boy. Go and free him.”

“Alright.”

“You knew you were going to have to do this. Clean up your mess now before your soul decays further.”

Zita enters her recording room and frees the boy she has strapped to a small bed. He has a gag around his mouth, a cloth around his eyes, and his arms and legs are tightly constricted to parts of the bed. With the removal of each strap, Zita remembers what happens to a particular boy. She saw him one day after traveling away from another boy she had just “entertained”. This boy looked special to her. A kind that she had never tasted. Wanting another boy to satisfy her rising desires, she took the boy aside with promises of large sums of money. The two were alone where no one would bother them then tried to entice the boy to have sex with her.

He respectfully denied her, something that she had not known. No boy had ever rejected her, no one told her she couldn’t have what she wanted. Zita tried everything she could to seduce him to submit to her, but he never did. She then forced herself onto him and had her way with him. He tried fighting back with a self-defense knife. Even though the knife could’ve easily killed Zita, she was too much for him as she made him drop his knife. After having her way with him for over an hour, she finally let him go and cleaned herself up.

“Wasn’t that fun?” she asked the boy while she was still in ecstasy.

The boy, after being defiled for so long, had been mentally damaged beyond repair. He grabbed his knife and cut his own throat. Zita tried to save him but there was nothing she could do. There was no way for her to deliver the boy’s body to his parents without the consequence of her being arrested after, so she buried his body and possessions, and left the area. There were many other boys like this one, but no other had killed themselves after because she got them all to submit themselves to her.

This boy that Zita has in her recording room is one of her fans. He only knew of her normal content since her more degenerate content was a secret among her fanbase. The only people that know about it are her diehard fans that lust after her. This boy was offered to stay with Zita for a long period of time, so he could learn from her what he could do to become moderately internet famous like her, and he learned more than he wanted to. He’s been trapped here for two days now and has somewhat submitted to Zita’s lusts.

The hand says, “How many boys have you turned into degenerates? They do nothing but look at pornography, have premarital sex, and rape like you do. Their souls are so severely damaged that it will take years to properly fix them. Now you know why your treatment has been so severe.”

The weight of Zita’s sins finally has their effect on her body as she kneels before the hand. “I’m sorry for everything I’ve done! Please, God, forgive me!”

“Bring this boy back to his parents then talk to the man two doors down from you. You’re blessed in that the boy doesn’t live too far from here.”

“Wait, I can’t be forgiven if I talk to God directly?”

“You can’t. You don’t have that privilege. Your soul will be damned forever if you don’t confess and do penance.”

“I thought I was saved forever after being baptized and accepting God as my savior.”

“Another lie that your parents taught you. That lie has damned so many souls to Hell and created so many hypocrites.”

The boy is unconscious and isn’t able to wake up.

“The boy won’t remember what you did to him after you do what I told you. If you don’t do what I tell you, then all of your sins will be exposed to the world and you will be executed then sent to burn forever.”

“I’ll do it! I’ll carry him home, just show me where he lives.”

The hand puts Zita’s head in its mouth which shows her exactly where the boy lives. She dresses him in his clothes, picks him up, and runs out the door. It’s currently nighttime and raining now. Zita doesn’t have a car so she has to run in the rain. She avoids attention from other people and uses the darkness and rain as cover as she did before when she took in random boys. Her lusts tempt her to go back to her apartment and forget about what the hand told her. She rejects them, which frustrates the demons within herself causing her to feel pain.

Her lusts manifest themselves into creatures with vaginal faces, male sex organs, enticing bodies, and sharp claws. They form themselves from the darkness and chase after her. Their speed allows them to quickly catch up to Zita so they can claw at her back. They tempt her to let go of the boy and give him to them, but she resists again. This constant cycle of temptations and pain continues until she reaches the boy’s house. She lays him at the front door, knocks and rings the doorbell. After hearing someone coming, she runs away as her lusts continue to swipe at her until they cut off her head.

Zita wakes up in her bed to a new morning. She rubs her face a couple times to make sure it’s there. After that, she looks into the mirror to see that she still retains the younger than her actual age look, but something about her looks different, brighter. Inside her closet, she finds clothes more proper to wear. She puts on a simple shirt and skirt then goes online to find that all of her pornographic content has been scrubbed from the internet much to her relief. She then exits her apartment to find the man the hand told her about. He smiles as she timidly approaches him.

“Hello, Zita,” he says, “How are you doing this fine morning?”

“I’m doing good. How are you?”

“I’m great now that you’re talking to me. I’m a big fan of your show online. I can’t entertain an audience like you can.”

“It’s nothing. I’m sorry for never paying much attention to you.”

“Don’t be. I’m sure you’re a busy woman.”

“It’s not that. Ummm. I’d like to get to know you better-if that’s okay with you.”

“Oh, that’s fine with me. I’m actually going to confession now. Do you want to come? We’ll have breakfast together then we can go out wherever you want.”

“I’ll come with you, but we can do whatever you want.”

“Sure. There are these great places in town that I know you’ll love.”

“Take me there then. It’s going to be your treat though.”

“I wouldn’t be a man if I didn’t treat a lady like you.”

 

The End

The Martyr who Failed

Part 1 – The First Death

There’s an unknown group of people that wander the country and kidnap and kill people for their own amusement. This night, they’ve kidnapped a man named Sebastian, his friends, and family, which includes his wife and two children. They force Sebastian to kill himself with a knife in order to save the life of his family. He tries to kill himself, but he passes out due to blood loss. The kidnappers don’t let him die honorably. They patch Sebastian up then kill everyone he knows. They then carve one of the Chinese symbols for failure on his head after they shave it. The kidnappers also carve three tear marks under both his eyes because of how much despair and sorrow Sebastian was in. After that, they bury him alive and naked, but since he almost did what they asked, they put him in a broken coffin with tools so that he can break out.

“We’ll let you off easy,” one of them says, “You have everything in your coffin to dig yourself out. If you’re ballsy enough, you can find out how to find us there.”

A glimmer of light in Sebastian’s lifeless eyes lights up. The kidnapper talking to him notices it but doesn’t pay it any attention.

“I will find you,” Sebastian swears, “But I won’t kill you. I’ll do worse! You better run fast and run far because I won’t have mercy on you!”

Sebastian is laughed at as he’s buried alive. He screams out his resolve as the final bit of dirt covers his grave. The kidnappers put down St. Peter’s cross before they drive off as Sebastian breaks free. He’s not an escape artist and his wounds still hurt so it takes some doing for him to escape. He emerges from the dirt as rain pours down on him and lightning lights up the night sky. It turns out that the kidnappers buried Sebastian in a graveyard not too far from his house.

He walks from the graveyard to his house while completely naked though he is unable to feel shame. His pain and anger are enough to push him forward.

“I’ll find them,” he says aloud to himself in a sneering voice, “I’ll make them all pay.”

A few people in cars pass Sebastian by and don’t bother with him. People on the streets that see him turn their heads away. No one cares about him. No one cares to think about the help he might need. Some think his situation is the result of a prank or one too many drinks. Sebastian keeps heading home while paying the same attention to them. Thoughts of revenge and what he’ll do to every single one of them course through his mind and memories of his loved ones. His anger gives way to sadness when he thinks of the people he lost.

“I’m sorry,” he says with tears flowing from his face yet again. The pain from his wounds makes it look like he’s crying bloody tears. “I’m sorry I couldn’t kill myself for you. I’m sorry they couldn’t let me die. I’m sorry you had to die for me…please…Please give me the strength to do this for you.”

Once he gets home, the first thing he notices is that the family car and his friends’ cars are gone along with the decoration his family put outside the house and the window. There’s nothing inside the house except for a piece of paper and a pair of basic clothes constituting of jeans, black sneakers, and black jacket on the floor. It’s as if his family never moved into the house. The letter has a number of places written on it with no context. These places aren’t too far from here, but the places are abandoned. They are the perfect places for Sebastian to get his revenge. The water still works in the house, so Sebastian takes a shower before changing clothes and heading out.

The first place he goes to is a small shack at the edge of town. Sebastian has to walk all the way there, but he doesn’t mind. This is the only thing in his life that he’s focused on.

“I will give my life to this if I have to,” he says to himself as if he’s telling God Himself what he’s about to do.

There’s a four-door truck outside the shack. Three people patrol the area and appear to have concealed weapons. The only person he doesn’t see is one of the people that forced him to kill himself.

“These might just be his underlings,” Sebastian says to himself while planning a strategy.

After having a plan of attack, he executes it. He takes a medium sized but heavy rock and throws it at one of the guards with it when he’s taking a leak. Once he’s down, Sebastian knocks him out with a punch to the face. The guard has a gun on him along with a wallet. Sebastian resists the idea to kill the guards and the leaders and leaves the wallet alone. The other two are sitting inside the shack and talking to each other. Sebastian knocks on the door.

“The door’s unlocked ya idiot,” one of them says.

Sebastian knocks again.

“What? Do you need help or something?”

Again, another knock.

“You’ve got to be kidding. Hold on.”

Once the guard comes outside, Sebastian knocks them out and puts their body aside. He then heads inside and throws the heavy rock at the other guard’s face and knocks him out with his fists. Sebastian finds a metal baseball bat in the shack and takes it with him. He goes outside to the backyard of the shack to find one of the people that forced him to kill his family. The man is with another victim. He’s showing the innocent man a pile of maggot infested corpses in a ditch.

The man asks, “Do you know who these people are?”

“N-no,” the innocent man answers.

“These are the people we were paid to kill mixed in with the people that chose to mess with us and people that we killed for fun.”

Sebastian begins to sneak up on them.

“If you don’t want to end up like them, then I suggest you never talk to anyone about what you found.”

Sebastian hits the kidnapper over the head, which scares the innocent who almost falls into the mass grave of bodies.

“You’re safe now,” Sebastian says to the man as he catches him from falling.

“What are you going to do?”

“I’m going to get my revenge on these bastards. I’m not going to kill them. I’m going to do worse.”

“Are you crazy? Do you even know what these people are capable of? They’re not just normal crazy people.”

“I don’t care. This is going to happen.”

“I’ll pray that you succeed but I’m not sure you will.”

The innocent man runs away from the shack. Sebastian then enacts his revenge on his first victim. He buries the man underneath all the maggot infested bodies but gives him just enough room to breathe. The man wakes up just as Sebastian is about to leave. He screams out in fear and disgust as the maggots cover him and crawl all over his face and body. With a smirk on his face, Sebastian leaves the backyard. He then takes the man’s phone and calls the police to come to this location before he heads out in the kidnapper’s truck to the next location.

“One down. Five to go. They’re all going to pay. Every last one of them. In the worst way possible,” Sebastian says with conviction.

 

 

Part 2 – The Long Night

The rain continues to pour on Sebastian’s darkest night. Lightning lights up the sky and thunder roars like war drums pounding to warn his victims of his arrival.

“I’m going to get them. I’m going to make them pay,” Sebastian says to himself over and over again, “I can do this. I have to…but what if I can’t? This’ll all be for nothing then. Would my parents approve of my actions? Would my wife still love me? Would my children still look at me as their father?”

Sebastian’s mind trails off before a bright flash of lightning snaps him out of it. He’s at where he needs to be.

“There’s no going back,” he continues, “There’s no other reason to live. If I won’t do this, no one will.”

Right now, he’s at an old grindhouse. The electricity is barely working and the blades in the building have grown dull and rusty. A couple of cars are parked at the side of the building. Peaking inside, Sebastian can see four guards and the woman that cut the throats of his children. The people here appear to be repurposing this place as a hideout. His blood boils, but he calms himself down and plans his attack. A sound from behind catches his attention and Sebastian quickly knocks out the guard with his baseball bat though he is still found out. He hastily knocks out another two guards before the rest shoot at him. He takes cover behind a piece of machinery. The guards and the woman who killed his children point their guns where he’s taking cover and slowly walk around the side to get a shot at Sebastian.

“What do I do? What do I do?” he asks himself.

The guns the knocked guards had are close by on the floor. Sebastian has never used a gun before but now he has no choice to. He runs to grab them and slides behind another big piece of machinery and manages not to get hit. Knowing he only has one shot at this, Sebastian calmly breathes in and out before running out of cover and unloading both of his guns. Ten shots land and hit the guards and the woman in the leg. He then goes up to where they are and knocks out the guards before grabbing the woman and holding her over a meat grinder.

“You actually did have the balls to come back. Ha, not many people do,” the woman says.

“You better stop killing innocent people! Or else you’ll face another person like me. Except they’ll probably kill you.”

“What? You aren’t going to do it yourself? It’s a shame that a child’s own father won’t take revenge for them. Do you remember the way they died? I do. They kept calling out for you as they bleed from their throats. I don’t know what’s so special about killing adults when children are so much more delectable.”

Something snaps in Sebastian and he strangles the woman’s neck. As she suffocates, she begins to smile as if she wanted him to do this. Seeing this, he quickly turns on the meat grinder and throws her in it. The blades are rusty and dull, and the factory is about to run out of power, so this’ll hurt, but it won’t kill her. Again, Sebastian uses one of the guards’ phones to call the police so that they can arrest these people. Sebastian then drives away still furious about what the woman said. His hands grip the steering wheel as if they were still around the woman’s neck.

“That bitch. That fucking bitch!” he says aloud before attempting to collect himself before he gets to the next place, “I gotta remember. I’m not like them. I’m not going to kill any of them. They’re just going to wish I did. But I still hurt them. I even buried one alive. Am I even still a good person? Was I ever?”

Before he can think of the answer, he’s at the next location. It’s an abandoned one-story building like the last place, but this one appears to be going through some construction. Sebastian doesn’t remember hearing about this building being built on the news, who would usually talk about new buildings. It appears that this group of murderers have enough money to create their own buildings in a not so secret way. Regardless, Sebastian parks a little far away from the building. There are quite a few trucks and cars here, so Sebastian makes sure to scout out the area before heading in. The power is on in the building, so he sneaks around and short circuits it. He then heads in through a basement window. Inside, he finds a cache of weapons, clothes, money, and various other things. These seem to be things that the kidnappers bought themselves or took from their victims, which is most likely out of the two.

Heading upstairs, Sebastian sees that there are some guards still patrolling the halls. He knocks out the nearest one near the door and hides their body in the basement. This noise attracts another two guards who Sebastian lures into the basement to take them out. Once he hides the unconscious bodies, Sebastian quickly, but quietly checks all the rooms to find his primary target. He knocks out who he can including one person on the toilet. That man’s face he leaves in the urinal.

Eventually, he finds his way to a room with a furnace. The man tweaking it is the man that killed his wife. Holding his anger in, for now, he quietly walks up the man pulls him out and breaks both of the man’s legs with his bat.

He holds up the man near the furnace’s fire and says, “Who’s the asshole who can’t do anything for his wife now?!”

“Look, I didn’t know you were with Tommy and Jefferson okay? If ya’ll just wanted us gone, then we would’ve disappeared into the wind and stopped hurting people! Or at least I would!”

“Who are you talking about?”

“What? You’re not…”

Gunshots are heard outside.

“The damn feds are turning against us after everything we did for them! They couldn’t keep their do-gooders out of the loop. Listen to me man, they’re going to think you’re a psycho like us. I can get you out of here and help you get your revenge for your family!”

“What is the furnace used for?”

“Why does it matter?!”

Sebastian headbutts the man in the face, which causes the man to lose a couple teeth.

“W-we used it to get information out of people and to scare them! We put them in those fireproof body bags over there, so they’d feel like they’re burning alive while in it.”

Sebastian looks at the fireproof body bags.

“Don’t get any ideas man! I already confessed my sins to you!”

“You confessed. Now you have to do penance.”

Sebastian knocks the man down then shoves him into the fireproof body bags. He then puts the furnace on and puts the man in it. As he watches the man burn and hears him scream, Sebastian smiles deviously, but in the fires, he sees his fate, which is similar. His smile fades away as he sees this. Since the gunfight is still going on, Sebastian sneaks through the fighting to get to his truck and drives away.

Two backup police come out of hiding as he escapes.

“Pull the vehicle over now!” one of the officers says over the car’s speakers.

Sebastian thinks about it then says to himself, “I can’t. I don’t know how long or if these killers are going to stay in their places. There’s only three left. I have to get this done myself. It’s what I have to do!”

The police cars chase Sebastian onto a highway. He weaves through cars in order to get through the dense traffic and escape, but the police stay on his tail. There doesn’t seem to be a way to escape until he sees the way laid before him.

“Well, at least this parking spot is close to where I need to be,” Sebastian says before driving his truck into a lake.

Once the truck is under water, Sebastian uses his bat to break the car window. He swims to a sewer entrance while under the cover of water. The action-packed ordeal takes a lot out of Sebastian, so he sits on the floor once he’s inside the sewer system. He breathes in the sewer stained air disinterested about how it smells and does the sign of the cross to show how thankful he is to still be breathing. This next person is supposed to be in these sewer systems for some reason. When Sebastian finds his way to a part where parts of the sewer converge, he’s ambushed by the woman who killed his family and her armed guards.

She says, “We were expecting someone else, but this’ll do. You have only one option if you want to live. Join our ranks. It might take some getting used to, but it’ll be worth it. Trust me. I was in your exact position a couple years ago.”

“It’s over for you and your band of mercenaries or psychos or whatever you are. Three of your leaders are already under arrest and the law is after you.”

“That’s not an answer I’ve heard before, but it’s also the answer I didn’t want to hear. It’s a shame too. I would’ve gladly been a replacement for your wife.”

The sewer system begins to flood because of the heavy storm outside. Sebastian and the kidnappers run away from the impending rush of sewage water while some of the guards are instantly caught up in it. The water blocks off certain passages and manages to catch the guards while Sebastian and the woman are still able to keep running. The only escape they find is a ladder that leads to a sewer grate. Sebastian is ahead, so he’s the first one to climb up. Both of them manage to climb up the ladder just in time as the flood of sewage water passes by. Sebastian looks down at the woman and she can already tell what he’s thinking.

She smiles then says, “Marry me?”

Sebastian responds by saying, “That’s not how it works,” before kicking her face and making her fall into the putrid water. “Shit is supposed to go down the toilet. Just like you.”

He gets back to land and goes back to where the sewage water gets out to see the guards and woman wash up on the other side into the arms of the police. Somewhat thankful these people are still alive. He turns around to continue his journey of revenge. The paper that says the location of the kidnappers is wet and barely readable, but Sebastian can infer what it says since he looked at it several times already. He has to walk in the rain again to get to the next place, but Sebastian doesn’t mind. There are only a couple of people left. Two more people that deserve a fate worse than death.

 

 

Part 3 – The Redemption

This next person is not too far away from Sebastian. They’re at a popular bar and town and the place is full of people tonight. Sebastian casually walks into the bar and looks around to see what he’s up against. Everyone here is enjoying a new type of drug, so they’re not a problem. In the upper room of the bar, he finds the man who killed his friends. He’s not drugged up and drunk like his friends and customers. The man is also enjoying him with two women. He has a shotgun by his side, so going in to attack him head-on might not be a good idea. Sebastian heads to the back alley to find the truck that the man and his guards came in. The truck looks like it was recently open. In it, he finds the ingredients for the drug, a gas mask, a list of what the drugs do, which notes amounts needed for a high, and a bag full of them.

He gets an idea and takes what he needs. With the drug ingredients in hand, he puts the right amount of it in the air ducts so that it spreads throughout the building. Sebastian puts the gas mask on and waits a few seconds for the drugs to take their effect. When he goes to the bar, he finds everyone giggling and smiling on the ground. They’re exhausted because of the drug and don’t have the strength or care to move. The same thing goes with the man upstairs and his girls. Now that he doesn’t have the strength to fight back Sebastian takes the man and brings him downstairs to the bar. He takes the strongest drinks from behind the bar and forces the man the drink until he pukes. He then throws the man aside and into someone’s crotch.

There’s only one more place to go now. One more person to get revenge on. Before Sebastian leaves, he takes the man’s car keys to the truck, calls the police to this bar, and drives off to the final location. The rain is still pouring hard on this particularly dark night. The lightning is striking more frequently and erratically now as if nature is playing a song to signal the end of Sebastian quest for vengeance. This next place is an abandoned hospital. When Sebastian gets to it, a couple other cars and trucks leave the hospital while a couple stays behind. Before he goes into the building, Sebastian says a quick prayer before entering the building. He starts by going through the basement. In it, his eyes see the fire again for a second before his eyes adjust to see gas canisters and a lighter among the stolen goods. Sebastian takes the gas canister and pours it into the room.

Once the gas can is empty, he goes upstairs and starts dealing with the guards. These guards are more attentive about watching the windows than the hallways so they’re not much to deal with. After they’re all knocked out, Sebastian finds his last target. It’s the man who came up with the idea that he should martyr himself for his family. The man is on the phone with someone.

He says, “Just because the others are caught, it doesn’t mean that I can’t bring us back from the brink. I did start this whole group after all…I got a few ideas, start a worldwide scare, kill a couple big names, whatever sounds too edgy to be real…Of course, I was kidding-Of course I’m being serious! Look…Ok, fine. I’ll talk to you later when something actually happens. Wait, you know what? I’ll find you and you might not like it when I do. Good day to you sir.”

The man hangs up the phone and looks over the table of guns and checks them. Since he’s caught up in thought, he’s easy to knock out, but this can’t be the end of it all. It’s too easy. This man is the leader of the nameless band of mercenaries who are also kidnappers. It is not likely that this person will change his ways, which is where Sebastian’s plan comes into effect. He takes the unconscious bodies of the guards outside of the building along with the stolen goods. After that, he uses the gas canisters and soaks every inch of the building in it. He breathes in and out slowly before going through the final part of his plan. He puts the leader of the mercenaries in a room with him and wakes him up before setting the building ablaze.

Everything quickly catches fire including the way out of the room.

“What did you do?!” the leader says in a panic.

“I lit everything on fire. It all ends here.”

“What?! Why?! I-I’ll change! I swear I will. We can both get out of this mess together if we-”

“No, I already know how people like you work. This is the only way you’ll change.”

“And what are you going to do? Huh? Did you stay just to watch me burn?”

Sebastian hugs the man.

“What are you doing?!”

“I’m going to die here with you. I’ve already forgiven you and your friends. I don’t hate you.”

“How can you not? We killed everyone you hold dear and took all your stuff. Don’t you hate me?”

“I said I forgive you. I’m willing to die with you to show you that. To show that you still have a person in this world that cares about you.”

“I…I don’t know what to say.”

“Let go of your hate and honestly confess the things you did wrong. And…please forgive me for ending things this way. The fires will only burn me for a short while, but they will burn you for an eternity if you don’t do this.”

The man begins to sob and hug Sebastian as the flames begin to consume them. Sebastian feels the intense flames for only a short amount of time. In the fire, he sees everyone he holds dear waiting for him in the eternal light with open arms.

 

The End

 

Download the whole story on Smashwords for free – https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/888809

Choice and Consequence of “Normality” (C&C1) – First half

Chapter 1 – Never-ending Nightmares

Someone wakes up in a dark room with two doors. One has a glass design of a naked male with blue flowers surrounding him while the other has a design of a naked female who is surrounded by red roses. The unknown individual walks through the female door and is presented by another set of two doors with one label yes and the other no.

“Do you know who you are?” a feminine voice asks.

The individual walks through the “Yes” door and a girl with markings on her body grabs the person and throws them into a pit of hands that grab them and pull them in while sinking them into a deep abyss.

A woman wakes up in her bed, sweaty and afraid.

She shakes off her feelings of fear and says, “Just another damn nightmare.”

She takes her medication then throws away the empty bottle.

“And these shitty medications don’t help.”

Her name is Rose, she’s twenty-five years old, and isn’t really anything special. She works as an accountant at a bank while living in an apartment in a city called Hillside City. She doesn’t talk to her family and only has one friend a man by the name of Richard. Today is another normal day for work so she gets dressed and walks to her job. Along the way, things get strange as the morning sky becomes cloudy and the city foggy. The people who rush to work in cars, buses, and on foot see to vanish in the fog leaving Rose to walk the streets alone and confused. She tries to ignore what’s happening and keeps walking forward. Further into the fog, dark figures are seen on the edge of the fog but don’t physically appear. What can only be described as a rusty machine is heard as Rose continues her way to work and as she gets closer, the fog seems to consume her, but as she enters the bank, everything goes back to normal. Rose checks outside to see if everything is normal and she sees the busy people that she was supposed to be seeing and the other people who walk the streets but didn’t. She then immediately goes to her desk and takes her medication again that she keeps in her desk in case of emergencies.

Richard, a close friend of Rose, who has brown eyes, hair, and wears black clothes, with a red tie, approaches her and says, “Hey, how are you doing?”

“Just fine. You?”

“Really? Because I just saw you taking your pills. Don’t you take them at home?”

“Yes, but a normal dose doesn’t help.”

“Well try not to overdose alright?”

“Alright.”

Suddenly, three armed robbers disguised in clown masks come in, shoot the guards, and demand money. Everyone including Rose and Richard get down as one of the robbers explain that they’re robbing the bank to get revenge on the government.

One person gets up in protest and says, “Then why involve us in it you pieces of shit?! You’re not only gonna hurt them, but you’re going to hurt us as well!”

The person gets shot in the leg and the crowd screams in fear.

The robber then says, “Now if anyone else wants to end up being shot then you have permission to speak.”

‘These guys are such assholes’, Rose thinks to herself, ‘Thankfully I actually have something to deal with them.’

She pulls out a high-powered magnum that she carries around in case of emergencies from her desk and crawls under her desk as she aims at the robbers’ legs and shoots them with one bullet that knocks down all of them. Once they are down, the crowd pounces on them, knocking their weapons away and beat them up. One of them activates an explosion that blows up certain parts of the bank like some of the walls and the ceiling. Everyone in the bank scatter as they leave the bank just as the police arrive. They pull out the robbers of the collapsing building and arrest them.

Rose watches her only source of income be destroyed right in front of her and feels the anger and headaches she has get worse.

“Well this is turning out to be a great day isn’t it?” says Richard.

“If great means absolutely terrible, then yes. Today is a great day.”

Rose starts to walk away and Richard follows her.

“Oh come on. Something like this always happens in this city.”

“But did it really have to happen to our job? I mean really as if I didn’t have enough to worry about.”

“That’s how it is though. Some people think only for themselves and end up ruining the lives of others.”

“…”

“Hey since I didn’t really get a chance to get breakfast, do you want to eat without with me?”

“Sure. I got nothing better to do.”

“Cool.”

The two go to a nearby diner and sit down and order what they want. While waiting for their dishes to arrive, Rose doses off and wakes up in a dark area with the dinner table and chair she sits at still there except there is a lighter and a flashlight.

‘Where the Hell am I?’ Rose thinks to herself as she picks up the lighter and flashlight, ‘Is this another nightmare?’

She wanders the abyss with the flashlight on as rain falls from the empty sky. She follows dark marks on the ground that seem to be arrows that lead her to a maze-like area made of corroded concrete. Movement can be heard in the maze as Rose moves forward along with the shadows of what look to be monsters can be seen moving away from her as if they are stalking her. As Rose keeps moving through the maze, the noise of movement grow louder and louder until it suddenly stops. Rose stops walking as she looks around and when she turns around, she sees a horrible looking monster that has the face of the robber’s masks and chains that go through its body. It swings at her as soon as she looks at it and breaks the flashlight that she is holding, which hurts her arm and causes her to run. She runs away from the monster as it chases her. It moves considerably fast despite the bullet wound in its leg, but Rose manages to get away with enough sharp turns. Rose sits down on the floor and takes a quick rest while holding her arm.

‘Ah! That thing really hit my arm really hard’, she thinks to herself.

Rose searches for her magnum on herself, but can’t manage to find it.

‘Damn it! I thought I still had it with me. Did I lose it? Whatever I just have to worry about getting out of here.’

She uses the lighter to light her way as she makes her way through the maze. It doesn’t give as much light as the flashlight, but it’s better than nothing. After making her way further into the maze, she stumbles into the monster again. She jolts back a little but quickly notices that it hasn’t noticed her yet despite being so close to it. It moves closer to her, but she tries to keep the same distance away from it as it moves past and away from her.

‘So that’s how it is. I just gotta keep a good distance away from them with the lighter, but I still can barely see anything.’

After a little more wandering, she finds a sees a light ahead and starts to run towards it and as she does, she hears the sound of footsteps chasing her. She picks up her pace as the light grows brighter and the footsteps grow louder. The bright light envelops her as she continues to run, giving her the hope that she’s escaping. As Rose thinks she’s at the exit, she looks behind her and sees the monster that is chasing her. It isn’t the monster from before. It’s something different, something indescribable. The monster reaches out for Rose and grabs her shoulder.

“Hey Rose.”

Rose wakes up in the dinner she was at before with Richard.

“Breakfast is here,” says Richard.

“Oh…cool,” Rose says as she shakes off what happened.

 

 

Chapter 2 – Another Day, Another Nightmare

As they eat breakfast, Richard says that, “So anyways. We’ve lost our jobs.”

“Thanks for reminding me, captain obvious.”

“So what are you going to do?”

“I doubt that the other banks have openings for accountants so we can’t get back into the positions we studied for in college.”

“Oh God don’t even mention college to me.”

“What? You still hate that?”

“Of course I do. I always told you how much I hate people going to it and not getting the jobs they want or when they do they get jobs that don’t pay that much.”

“Speaking about that, we should probably get a desk job in the meantime.”

“Man I hate that kind of job.”

“Like being a bank accountant is any different?”

“Hey, at least we got paid more.”

“True.”

“But who am I kidding I guess. We need a job to support us in the meantime. Maybe they’ll be a bank accountant job so we don’t need to worry about the desk job.”

Rose stares out the window while thinking about anything else she can do to fix the situation she’s in, but nothing comes to mind.

Richard interrupts her thoughts, “That was a really brave thing you did you know.”

“I guess so. I was just doing what I thought was right.”

“Well, it was right. I mean, I wish I had your magnum.”

“Why? It’s not like you’ll use it often.”

“I know, but it’s still handy to have especially in a city like this.”

“I guess you’re right.”

The waitress brings them the receipt.

“Hey, this’ll be on me,” says Richard.

“Thanks. I gotta go home and get some rest.”

“You do that and don’t forget about what I said about the medication.”

“I know I know, you tell me all the time.”

“There’s a reason why you know.”

“I know. Thanks for caring about me.”

“No problem.”

“See you.”

“See you later!”

Rose leaves the dinner and a girl, with purple hair and a pink shirt with a butterfly on it, approaches her.

She says, “Hello there stranger. I overheard you talking about medication. Now you know that over the counter medicine doesn’t work that well so may I offer you something better?”

“Suuuurrrre, but who are you?”

“My name is Maria and I can get you the best medicine in this city.”

“How? What are you some kind of drug dealer?”

“I like to think of myself as a “street pharmacist”.”

“Right…”

“Here,” Maria gives Rose a piece of paper with an address on it, “Come to this address later this afternoon if you’re interested.”

“And what if I’m not interested?”

“And listen to your girl friend?”

“He’s not a girl!”

“He sure sounded like one with the way he talked. How long have you known him anyway?”

“I uhhh…a while.”

“See? That crappy over the counter medication is guess what? Crap. It’s making you forget things.”

“Won’t your medication do the same thing?”

“Maybe, but it’ll definitely make you feel better.”

“Hmmm, I’ll think about it.”

Rose goes home, changes into casual clothes, and thinks about what to do.

‘I could be applying for a job now…but I already have a copy of my application on my computer. All I have to do is send it out and I’m good. Maybe going to see Maria is a good idea. I do need a better kind of medication so I guess it wouldn’t hurt to try what she has.’

Rose goes to the address where Maria is supposed to be and she finds her waiting outside. Maria smiles at her and gives her a hug.

Maria says, “I know you would choose the right decision. Come in my friend.”

They go into the house and there’s a person by a curtain with a list of sorts in his hand.

He asks Rose, “What’s your name?”

“It’s-”

“The Stranger,” Maria interrupts.

“Hey, that’s not my name!”

“It’s your name here,” She whispers in Rose’s ear, “We don’t use our real names just in case the cops hear us outside.”

“Alright, so what’s your name here?”

“Judy Nails.”

“Nice name.”

“I know right?”

They go past the curtain and see a small marketplace set up inside the medium sized house full of people buying medication. Maria gets in front of the line and gets Rose a small bottle of their own medication, which enough for a week.

“Thanks,” says Rose.

“No problem.”

“How much do I owe you?”

“Nothing. It’s on me.”

“Oh…you sure? I can pay you now if you want.”

“No, it’s fine. What I want is your number and address. I’ll give you mine too.”

“What for?”

“We’re friends now, aren’t we?”

“Uh, I guess.”

“Awesome!”

They exchange info.

“So do you want to stay for the party later tonight?” says Maria.

“No thanks. I gotta go home and get some rest.”

“Alright, I understand. Good night.”

“Good night.”

Rose leaves the building, goes home to her apartment, and applies for a job at a nearby office building and other banks. She doesn’t get a response from the bank, but she does get an interview at the office building. She hasn’t tried Maria’s medication yet just in case any of the jobs do drug tests and there happens to be something illegal in the medication. Once there, Rose’s college degree, experience at work, and sympathy for losing her job get her the job. At her first day of work, Richard runs into her when she’s working.

“Hey there,” he says.

“Hey, I didn’t know that you worked here.”

“I just got the job.”

“Me too.”

“That’s awesome. I guess we can’t be separated right?”

“Haha, that’s right.”

“Alright well, I’m going to get to work. I got lots to do.”

“Same.”

Rose works hard throughout the day and thinks to herself, ‘Now I know why Richard wanted to avoid this job.’ Since her coworkers aren’t the nicest and the work can be really tiring. ‘At least at the bank it was quiet and all we had was Richard and I working as accountants.’

At the end of the day as Rose leaves work, she sees Richard.

“Hey Rose!” he says as he runs to catch up to her.

“Hey.”

“Now do you see why I didn’t want this job?”

“Yeah, I was thinking that to myself earlier.”

“We definitely need to get better jobs.”

“Did you see if any banks need accountants?”

“Yeah, but I haven’t gotten any responses and the ones I have say they don’t need people like us.”

“Damn.”

“It looks like we’re gonna have to get used to this.”

“Or we could go back to college if you’d like.”

“Oh God no! I still haven’t paid my debts yet and I have to worry about my apartment bills among other things.”

“Alright then. It’s just a suggestion.”

“It’s a terrible one that you said because you know that it pisses me off.”

“I do.”

“You’re such an asshole!”

Rose and Richard laugh together and go their separate ways as they go back to their apartment rooms. Once Rose get ready for bed, she decides to take Maria’s medication. The nightmares she’s been having, haven’t been changing so she hopefully thinks this will changes things. In the dream, she wakes up at her job, but the lights are out and it’s night time.

‘What the? Did I accidentally fall asleep at work?’

This thought instantly goes away as she sees the monster from before with another one of its kind walks through a door and into the office space and look around the area, but they don’t seem to see her despite the amount of light in the room.

‘Hmm. Maybe the medication is actually helping…hmm?’

Rose notices that she has her magnum with her.

‘It’s defiantly helping.’

She checks the gun.

‘I only have three out of six bullets, but this is plenty.’

Rose then takes aim at the closest monster and shoots it in the head. It is not fazed by the first bullet, but the second one is what puts it down. The second monster has seemingly vanished when Rose looks around for it.

‘That’s right. You better run away. Now, where’s the exit.’

As she looks around the office building for the exit, she finds her coworkers looking like weird monster like-people who are chained to the desk with their eyes lids pulled open as they continuously work. Rose avoids them and enters the bathroom to see if there’s anything there and in it she sees a bloody handprint on the mirror. She goes up to it and as she touches it, it grabs her and tries pulls her in. She resists and eventually pulls out a rusty pipe from it.

“You’ll need it,” a voice says.

“What? Who’s there?”

Rose doesn’t get an answer, but the monster she shot down before barges through the door. She shoots it, but like before, it doesn’t go down in one shot so Rose instead beats it down with the pipe. It falls down and violently shakes on the floor as it makes noises distorted by the blood coming out of its mouth and eyes. Rose runs away and is now in a different office space than the one she was in before she entered the bathroom. There’s a window at the other end of the room that is lit up and the second monster from before is patrolling this room and Rose’s magnum is empty so she decides to sneak around it. She tries to use the cubicles as cover, but her nightmarish coworkers don’t like this and they scream out, which gets the attention of the monster. Rose runs for the exit with it directly behind her and as she gets to the exit, it tackles her through it. She wakes up in her room all sweaty and out of breath so she gets up from her bed, but as she does the monster from her nightmare punches a hole in her chest from behind. Rose wakes up again in the same state, but no monster attacks her.

She throws her elephant plush at the door and says, “I can’t fucking take this shit anymore!”

She stares at its eyes that are staring back at her and gets up to pick it up.

“I’m sorry,” she says as she holds it.

 

 

 

Chapter 3 – Finding Relief

There’s a knock at Rose’s door and when she answers it, she sees Richard.

“Hey what are you doing here this early?” Rose says.

“I was thinking that…ummm.”

“You got our plans for this weekend?”

“No, I was thinking you should go to the psychiatrist.”

“Wow really?”

“I’m sorry if it seems that you’re crazy, but it seems that this is the best way to get rid of your nightmares since your medication barely helps.”

“Hmmm, you may be right.”

“Here,” he gives her a piece of paper, “Call this number and schedule an appointment. I know this guy he’s pretty good.”

“Thanks.”

“No problem.”

“And…Richard?”

“Yeah?”

“I’m sorry I forgot, but how long have I known you?”

“Since college.”

“Alright. Thanks for reminding me. Again sorry I forgot.”

“It’s fine. Hey, you still have your elephant plush?”

Rose notices that she’s still holding her elephant.

“Uh…yes.”

“What did you name it again? Elephanty?”

“Yeah,” Rose embarrassingly says because of the name.

“Ha! Well, I think it’s a cute name for a cute elephant,” Richard pets it, “I’ll see you later.”

“See you.”

Rose looks at the piece of paper Richard gave her then there’s another knock at the door.

“Hi,” says Maria.

“Maria? What are you doing here?”

“I stopped here to see how you’re doing.”

“I’m fine thanks. How are you?”

“Alright. Did you try the medication I gave you?”

“I tried it last night.”

“And?”

“It helped a little I guess.”

“Good. Do you want to hang out?”

“Uh maybe in a little. I gotta set up an appointment.”

“With the psychiatrist right?”

“Right. How do you know?”

“I heard your conversation with your friend, but I couldn’t catch him for some reason. He must be a fast walker.”

“I don’t think he is. Anyways I gotta make this appointment.”

“If you think it’ll help, go ahead. Just text me what time and where you want to hang out, I got nothing to do.”

“Ok.”

“Oh, and cute elephant plush.”

Maria smiles as she pets it.

“Thanks.”

Rose closes the door as Maria leaves. She makes the appointment for tomorrow and arranges for Maria to meet her at the park in the afternoon after work. When she arrives, she already sees Maria waiting for her on the park bench.

“Hi, Rose. So what do you want to do?”

“We could go to the Shopping Strip.”

“Sounds cool.”

Rose and Maria go to the Shopping Strip, a collection of different shops, stores, and restaurants that go on for more than twenty blocks.

“You know it’s weird how nice places like this are so nice, but others are really bad.”

“Aren’t most cities like that?”

“Yeah, but most don’t have hills on one side and an island on the other.”

“My dad used to work on that island when it used to be an amusement park.”

“Really? That place was one of my favorites to go to as a kid. What was his job?”

“He used to be a security guy and he also fixed the rides and animatronics.”

“Wow, he really knows a lot doesn’t he?”

“Yeah. He even taught me how to use a magnum and how to defend myself.”

“He really sounds like a badass now.”

“He’s awesome. What about your family?”

“What about them?”

“How are you with them?”

“I could care less.”

“Why?”

“Because they do the same to me. All they wanted me to do was be their nurse and take care of them when they grew old.”

“But isn’t that what you’re supposed to do anyway?”

“Yeah, but they made it seem like I was born to take care of them so I ran away from them. They made me feel like a tool and nothing more.”

“Oh, I’m sorry.”

“You don’t have to be sorry. To give them credit though, I wouldn’t be helping people like I am now if they aren’t the way they are.”

“You mean a “street pharmacist”?

“Damn straight. I’m surprised you remember the name I like going by.”

“Well hey, what are friends for right?”

Maria smiles.

“Yeah…right.”

The two shop around and eat dinner out together until late at night until they decide to leave.

“I had a great time today, Rose. Thank you.”

“No problem. Let’s do it again sometime.”

“Oh…alright!”

They say their goodbyes and go back to their homes. On the next day, Rose takes the day off and goes to the psychiatrist as planned. She sits in a comfortable chair as the psychiatrist tries to help her.

“So can you tell me what’s troubling you?”

“The nightmares that I’ve been having and the stress in my life.”

“Do you remember what happens in your nightmares?”

“I’m always being chased by these monsters that have the faces of the masks that the robbers who attacked the bank I work at. I always have my magnum with me in these dreams including a flashlight, lighter, and a rusty pipe, which is the only weapon that seems to kill them while the magnum only slows them down.”

“I heard about a bank being attacked a while ago. I’m sorry for the loss of your job.”

“It’s fine. I’m working at as a regular accountant now.”

“So do you know why this rusty pipe is the only weapon that kills the monsters?”

“No clue.”

“Have you ever killed someone with that weapon?”

“No.”

“Alright. Well, I have an exercise that might help. Close your eyes and imagine the monsters. The real robbers that the monsters are based on are in a hospital in jail so you don’t need to worry about them so I’ll help you fall asleep to face the fake ones.”

“Ok.”

The psychiatrist puts Rose to sleep with hypnosis and she dreams of being in an empty gray space with a question scratched in the wall above her which says, “What is the way out?” There’s also a sliding puzzle with letters on it in front of her, which is supposed to be her answer. She can’t move, but she can move the puzzle pieces by looking at them to try to form words. As she attempts to solve it, the monsters from her dream hit her from behind with their fists. Every hit hurts tremendously, but it also removes a letter from the puzzle, which makes it easier to solve. Rose moves the pieces as fast as she can while enduring the pain. She gets hit over five times before the answer becomes clear. “Let go” is the answer and as she solves it, she wakes up feeling refreshed despite the pain she felt earlier.

“How are you feeling?” the psychiatrist asks.

“I’m feeling better. Thank you.”

“There’s no need to thank me, it’s a pleasure to help people. Don’t forget to come back the next time you have those kinds of nightmares. Your condition might be good now, but it could change later especially with all the stress you have.”

“Ok. I will.”

Rose leaves the psychiatrist, goes home and calls Richard.

“So how did it go?”

“Better than expected.”

“Good to hear. So are you finally going to sleep well?”

“Definitely! You wanna hang out tomorrow?”

“Sure.”

“Awesome. I’ll see you tomorrow then.”

Nighttime arrives and Rose goes to sleep without taking either her medications she has and dreams about being on one of the hills outside the city on a bright summer day. She has a picnic prepared for her friends and here they come. Richard and Maria arrive in the same car and Maria goes to join Rose while Richard unloads the car. Suddenly a car comes out of nowhere and crushes Richard and the grass beneath Maria become spikes and impale her. Rose is shocked by what is happening as the sky turns red and the once green hills turn black as everything around her dies. The ground beneath her gives way and Rose falls into the ground and arrives in a prison with what look to be naked people with black markings on them in prison cells.

“It isn’t over. Far from it,” a mysterious yet familiar voice says.

“Who’s there?”

Rose doesn’t get a response so she wanders the prison until she comes across a door with five panels missing so she searches the prison for them. She finds the first one labeled “D” near a person playing with a dead body as if it was alive. Another labeled “A” is found in a room with a dead person with a caved in face while another stands above them with a bloodied prison bar. “B” and “D” is found in a room with a person turning their skin inside out and the last labeled “A” is found in a room with a frame that seems to be giving light to someone standing in front of it. Rose puts the panels in order she found them in the door, which unlocks it. She goes through it and it leads it to a staircase that goes to the ground floor and on it she chooses to go through a door that seems to be the exit. The door bursts open, knocking back Rose. A person who looks like Rose walks out the door with the same markings that the people in the prison have. Her eyes are black bloodshot and she looks to be pissed.

“Fucking idiot, you’re going the wrong way!” the other Rose says.

Rose runs to the other door as the other her chases her. The way into the door suddenly now has spikes, fire, and crushing traps that Rose avoids as she makes her way to the exit. She gets out of the prison and is back at the hill she was previously at. The other her finally catches up to her by tackling her. It gets up and picks up Rose by the neck.

“You stupid bitch. You’re not done yet,” the other her says before throwing Rose down a never-ending hole.

Rose then wakes up in the morning feeling as if the treatment she went through didn’t help at all.

 

 

 

 

Chapter 4 – Together Forever

Rose grabs her phone and calls Richard.

“Good morning sunshine. Did you sleep well?”

“Fuck no.”

“Oh, I see. Well, it’s to be expected. You usually need to go there more than once with a condition like yours.”

“That shit’s expense though!”

“Well, maybe you need another solution.”

“And what might that be?”

“Have you ever thought of being in a relationship?”

“…Are you saying what I think you’re saying?”

“Not really. I’m just saying you might need someone in your life to help you.”

“I don’t know.”

“Just think about it. Are we still good to hang out today?”

“Yeah.”

“Cool. I’ll see you later then.”

“Alright.”

Rose and Richard meet each other in the afternoon. They go to a nearby park to do stress relieving exercises.

“You know this barely helps right?” says Rose.

“Right, but it’s better than it doing nothing.”

“Oh come on, admit it. You’re just doing it to try to impress the ladies aren’t you?”

“Maybe.”

“Well, you have to do more to impress.”

Rose uses her foot to extend Richard’s stretch, which makes him do a painful split.

“Hahaha!”

“Pain isn’t funny!”

“It is when it happens to someone else.”

“Really? I didn’t know that.”

Richard turns Rose around, who is on the ground, and stretches her legs behind her back as if he was doing a wrestling move.

“Ow ow ow!”

“Hahaha! You’re right! It is funny!”

“Oh fuck you!”

They continue to stretch and do exercises until they decide to rest by eating lunch underneath a tree.

“So is anything new going on?” asks Rose.

“New as in?”

“I don’t know. How’s your family?”

“What family? As far as I know, I don’t have one.”

“Oh, I’m sorry I forgot-”

“Those assholes and everyone else always doubted my ability to do things and look who proved them wrong. I can live by myself without anyone’s help.”

“You know everyone I seem to know has a bad family or views them as bad?”

“Really? You’re friends with someone then just me?”

“Yeah.”

“I feel bad for them.”

“Well her name is Maria and she’s a “street pharmacist”.”

“You mean a drug dealer?”

“She likes going by the title “street pharmacist”. She makes her own kind of medication with a few of her friends to help people in need.”

“You need to watch yourself around people like her. You remember the trouble I had to go through to get drugs for certain people at our college parties.”

“Yeah and that was stupid for you to do.”

“And what do to you think it is for you?”

“It’s not like that. Maria is a really nice person and-”

“Hey, I’m not saying she’s not a nice person I’m just saying to watch yourself. Alright?”

“Ok.”

“Speaking about college, do you remember what we did there?”

“How can you not?! Booze, babes, and a huge fucking hangover…from studying a lot. But if you’re asking about what we learned, I barely remember shit. I swear we wasted two semesters or more on classes that we needed to take to get the degree, but those classes didn’t teach us crap that we needed for the job.”

“I hear ya.”

“Hey didn’t I say that I hate talking about college?”

“Yup.”

“So why are we talking about it?”

“Because I love bothering the shit out of you.”

Richard stares at Rose’s smiling face for a second.

“Fuck you bitch.”

“No, fuck you bitch.”

The two play fight with each other for a while until it comes time to leave. They laugh over their fight and say goodbye to each other as they head back to their apartment rooms. Rose falls asleep and is sucked into her bed without her knowing and she awakens on a small patch of grass at night outside a maze made of thorns. There’s no way to go besides into the maze because she’s there isn’t any ground around the spot she’s standing on so she walks into the maze of thorns. She checks to see if she has anything and she has the usual items she carries in her dreams; a lighter, flashlight, rusty pipe, and her magnum with six bullets that seem to refill with every dream.

‘Damn this maze is tight and the thorns don’t help either.’

She uses her flashlight as she usually does for now until thinks a monster is nearby. Suddenly she hears a yelling sound from above and sees a ceiling of thorns fall down from the sky, which makes Rose duck and forces her to crouch to get through the maze.

‘God this sucks!’

A crackling noise is heard in the distance and Rose quickly switches to her lighter.

‘Maybe I can use my lighter to get rid of these thorns…Nah, I’ll just end up burning myself alive. Now, let’s see what new monster is coming for me.’

Rose carefully makes sure to not make the lighter touch the ground or the thorns as she goes through the maze and keeps an eye out for whatever is lurking in the darkness. The maze is more cumbersome to walk through now and the ceiling seems to be pushing itself closer to Rose. A shadow is seen in the distance that keeps making paths by breaking through the thorns by darting through them. Rose decides to go through these paths while keeping her lighter in one hand and gun ready in the other. The shadow continuously gets closer and closer every time she seems it pass by her until she sees exactly what it is. It looks like the other her, but its eyes and mouth are stretched out and the mark on its chest and back are different. As soon as it knows it’s seen, it runs away back into the maze.

‘Good. It’s too shy to directly attack me.’

But not shy to attack at all, as Rose makes her way further into the maze and she fails to turn to face it fast enough. It transforms into a giant mouth with big teeth and a tongue that grabs Rose’s leg and tries to pull her in. She shoots it’s throat a few times before it lets go and scurries away. Rose then picks up the pace as the monster as increased its aggressive nature and approaches her more frequently.

‘There! The exit!’

She sees that the exit of the maze and also the monster behind her. It doesn’t run away even though it’s noticed so Rose gets the idea to light the maze on fire to make it collapse on the monster. Everything around her starts to collapse and burn at a fast rate, but Rose manages to crawl out of and onto her bed.

She sighs then says, “Just another crazy nightmare.”

“It was an exciting nightmare!” a cartoony voice says.

Rose looks around her room and doesn’t see where the voice could’ve come from. All she sees is her plush elephant, which seems to be staring at her.

 

 

 

Chapter 5 – Bigger Problems

As Rose recovers from her newest nightmare, she receives a call from her mother.

“Hello, mom.”

“Hello, how have you’ve been doing?”

“Fine, you?”

“Alone with nobody to care for me.”

“Goddammit, mom you know why that is. Is this why you called?”

“No, it’s not. I wanted to see how you were doing.”

“Since when did you start caring about me?”

“Since you were born my dear. Why do you give me an attitude?”

“Because you kicked me out of the house for a stupid ass reason!”

“I did no such thing you kicked yourself out!”

“How? By trying to help our family’s financial problems?”

“No, by not giving enough time to visit and take care of me.”

“Mom, the job I had was very busy. I’m sorry I couldn’t find a whole lot of time to be there, but I tried to visit you at least once or twice a week, but that’s not enough for you because you put yourself on a fucking pedestal because you’re my mom. Am I right?”

“N-”

“No one not even dad tried hard enough in your opinion because you ask too much of a guy that worked his hands to dust and what’s this bullshit that you cared about since birth if you didn’t call me or anything after I lost my job?!”

“It’s because I was busy upstate.”

“What? Too busy drinking and looking for men. Pfft. Please do me a favor and never call me again if you really care about me. Goodbye.”

Rose hangs up her phone and throws it at her couch. She doesn’t like talking about her mother as before her mom lost her job, she was a pretty nice mom, but after that, her mom turned to drinking and looking for others to care for her because she didn’t think her friends and family did enough. Rose’s father tried his best to help her find a job, but jobs were hard to find in the economic situation in the country so the family grew poor and couldn’t have fun vacations or travel, but they did barely manage to get up thanks to her father and his job as a car mechanic. There’s a knock at the door and Rose answers it to see Maria.

“Hi there,” Maria says.

“Hey. Come in.”

Maria enters the apartment and looks around.

“You can sit if you want. You don’t need to ask.”

“Are you alright? You seem mad.”

“It’s fine. I just talked to my bitchy mom.”

“Really? And I was thinking that you had a happy family since you seem so nice.”

“My dad is the reason I’m any kind of nice.”

“The guy who taught you how to use a gun taught you how to be nice, alright.”

“I’m serious. Even though there’s something weird about him, he’s a really nice guy.”

“I can’t wait to meet him one day.”

“I can’t wait to visit him. He’s just busy now and he said he’ll call me when he’s free.”

“Awesome.”

“So what’s brings you here today?”

“I was just stopping by to see if you needed a refill if you know what I mean.”

“Oh, the medication? I occasionally take it so I’m still good for a few days.”

“Alright.”

“Do you want to hang out today?”

“I uh sure,” Maria says in with a surprised expression.

“What’s wrong?”

“Nothing. It’s just that most of my friends are all business and “other” related so it’s kind of weird to me for someone to ask me to hang out as a normal thing, but anyways sure let’s hang out.”

“Awesome.”

The two hang out for a while on the town and discuss current events, TV shows, music, and games until night time when the two part ways and go home. At home, Rose takes a look at her phone and realizes that she missed a call from her dad so she immediately calls him back and hopes that she isn’t bothering him at work.

“Hey dad I’m sorry I missed your call.”

“It’s fine Rosey. How are you doing?”

“I’m good, you?”

“Good now since I’m hearing your voice. I’m sorry I haven’t had the time to answer your calls and set up a time so we can be together.”

“No, it’s fine dad don’t worry about it. I know how busy you are.”

“Alright, but I still feel bad about it. So how’s Elephanty by the way? Is he taking good care of you?”

“Haha, he’s good. He tucks me in at night and keeps the monsters away.”

“Hahaha good to hear! I’ll talk to you later Rosey. I had a big day at work today so I’ve got to get some sleep.”

“Ok good night. I love you, dad.”

“Love you too Rosey.”

Rose hangs up the phone and feels better after having talked to her dad.

“I’ll protect you “Rosey”. Just as your father did,” a cartoony voice says.

The voice seems to be coming from her plush that is sitting on her bed, which is strange because it wasn’t there when she left. Rose goes to sleep and like every night, awakens in another time, but this time the entire space is lit up with a giant monster that is sitting on at the end of the maze and holding a bottle of alcohol.

‘Holy shit. Well, that’s different.’

She quickly runs through the maze while the monster yells out and attacks Rose. The attacks are slow, but they are powerful enough to break not only the maze walls but the floor as well. While going through the maze, there are levers in certain rooms that Rose pulls, without knowing what they do, that pour liquor into the monster’s bottle and distracts it for a while as it drinks it. Another monster comes out of nowhere and tries to seemingly stop it from drinking, but it ends up getting hit with the bottle. After getting to the end of the maze, Rose sees that the monster is blocking the exit.

“Fucking fat piece of shit, move!”

The monster from before gets up and stops it before it attacks Rose and pulls it out of the way, letting Rose leave the nightmare and enter back into her room. She gets up from her bed and goes to the kitchen to make breakfast, but she is quickly tackled by the other her.

“You have to stop this nightmare!” it says, “Stop living in this cycle!”

“What are you talking about it? Get off me!”

“You keep living this so-called normal life and if you don’t do anything to change, your stress will destroy you.”

Rose then wakes up after wrestling the blankets off her.

“What the Hell was that crazy bitch talking about?”

 

 

 

Chapter 6 – Someone New

Rose goes to work as usual on a weekday, but on this day so is approached by a random coworker at break time.

“Hey there,” he says to Rose.

“Hey.”

“What’s up?”

“Nothing. Is there something you need?”

“No, I just wanted to talk to you.”

Rose blushes a little.

“Why?”

“You’re usually alone and don’t really talk to anyone.”

“I talk to people. There’s my friend Richard who works here.”

“Richard? I didn’t hear of any Richards working here.”

“You haven’t seen him? He wears a dark gray shirt with black pants and a red tie. He also has brown eyes and hair.”

“Nope. Doesn’t ring a bell.”

“Weird. I usually see him every day. So why exactly are you talking to me?”

“Because you seem to be the most normal person here and you look cute.”

Rose blushes again.

“What’s your name?”

“Rose, what’s yours?”

“Travis, it’s nice to meet you.”

“Same to you.”

“You wanna hang out after work?”

“Sure.”

“Sounds great.”

After work, Rose gets together with Travis and go out to dinner at a nice bar restaurant.

“So how long have you worked at this job?” Rose asks.

“Not too long, but long enough to know most of the people.”

“I only started to work here a week ago after the place I worked at got destroyed.”

“You mean you worked at that bank that got blown up?”

“Yep.”

“That’s amazing that you survived that.”

“I guess, but it sucks that I had to find a different one because of it.”

“Did your friend Richard work there with you?”

“He did. We went to college together.”

“Oh, so do you have a lot of friends?”

“Nah I just have two. What about you?”

“I don’t really have any. I mean I have a really big and supporting family, but friends are a thing I’m lacking in.”

“Really? It’s the exact opposite with the people I know.”

“That’s weird isn’t family supposed to be good by default?”

“Yeah and so are friends, but it isn’t always like that with some people.”

“That’s true, isn’t it? Wow, I didn’t expect to learn something today from someone I just met.”

“Well hey, friends teach each other things too you know?”

“I know now.”

The two split the bill and leave the restaurant.

“Tonight was nice,” says Rose.

“It was.”

“You want to hang out again sometime?”

“Sure. I’d like that.”

They say their goodbyes and go back to their homes. Rose goes to sleep and awakens in a field of roses in morning daylight. As she looks around, she notices the other version of the other her in the distance. She draws her magnum and slowly approaches it as she watches it wander around the field. The monster seems to be searching for something, but it also doesn’t seem to care for Rose who it probably already saw. Another monster rises from the roses, one that looks like a male version of the other, and they seem to like each other. One of their arms and legs fall off as they connect their bodies to one another. The two now one monster walk off in the distance.

“Aww it looks like someone has a crush,” someone says behind Rose.

She then wakes up in bed with her elephant right beside her.

 

 

 

Chapter 7 – The Ugly Side of a Best Friend

Another day, another day of work is ahead of Rose today as she does her daily routine, but today she notices something different. Her elephant friend seems to be following her around today with it appearing in buses, store windows, and in the hands of the homeless people she passes by on the streets. She tries to ignore this and say to herself that she sees it because the plush is a popular one. This mindset gets Rose through most of the sightings of her favorite plush until she sees it at work, sitting on her desk. It stares at her as if it was expecting her and its eyes seem to follow her.

Travis puts his hand on Rose’s shoulder and asks her, “You have one of those elephant plushies too?”

“I do. I’ve seen them everywhere.”

“So did you just buy that one? I saw you walking in with it.”

Rose nods her head sideways.

“I was?”

“You were. I saw you carrying it when I got here.”

“Hmm. That’s weird. I thought I left at home. Anyways, my dad got this for me when I was little.”

“Really? Did you give it a name?”

“I – uh…yes. It’s…Elephanty.”

“Elephanty huh? That’s a cute name.”

“Thank you.”

Travis smiles and walks away.

“You think he’s cute don’t ya?” a dark voice says.

“I guess.”

“Well, he can’t have you.”

“What are you-”

Rose looks around and doesn’t see anyone who could’ve been talking to her. She looks down at her elephant and it seems to have darkened and its eyes are staring dead at her. She then puts it down at her desk as she keeps an eye on it and it keeps its eyes locked on her. After taking a shower and eating dinner, she goes to bed.

“He can’t have you!” a dark voice yells as the ground shakes, “I won’t allow it!”

Rose wakes up in a padded room with a demented version of her elephant. Its appearance is split in half, but its overall look is that of a butcher.

Confused and shocked, Rose says, “El…Elephanty?”

“That’s me and you’re mine.”

It pulls a huge cleaver out of its back and swings at Rose. She backs up and takes out her gun.

“You can’t leave me. You won’t leave me. I’ll cut your legs off before you do so you can stay with me forever,” the demented elephant says.

Rose empties her gun into the monster, but it isn’t affected at all by it so Rose uses the rusty pipe on it. The pipe is able to block and deflect the swings by the cleaver and Rose even manages to bring the monster down with a few good hits that she manages to get in.

As Rose stares at the bloodied monster that was her first best friend, it says to her, “I love you, Rose. Please don’t kill me.”

She somehow feels sympathy for the nightmarish monster and walks away from it. A door appears in the room, which leads to her job. Elephanty gets up and follows Rose.

“I’ll protect you no matter what Rose. You’re my bestest friend.”

“Uh alright then.”

As Rose goes through the building, there are switches that change the floors in the building so she can get to different parts in it. The switches are activated by answering =, =/, =?, or =?! to some questions such as; help___inconceivable, monsters___me, and suicide___possible answer. A new monster appears in this nightmare that is made by of nightmarish versions of her coworkers that are all part of the same body, but they fight for the top as they claw and tear each other of their own body.

“I’ll handle this,” Elephanty says as it walks in front of Rose, “You’re not gonna hurt my best friend!”

Elephanty fights the monster with its cleaver and chops it up into pieces.

“See? I told you that I would protect you.”

“Thanks.”

“You don’t need to thank me. This is what best friends do for each other.”

Its already big smile widens as it attempts to show a comforting smile.

“What? Am I too creepy?”

“Kinda.”

“I’m sorry.”

Rose manages to find the key to the exit after shifting the building for a while and wakes up next to her elephant plush who is back to normal.

“That was so much fun! I can wait to do it again!” it cheerfully says.

Or at least mostly normal.

 

Buy the full story on Amazon – https://www.amazon.com/Choice-Consequence-Normality-Black-Version/dp/1546627502/ref=sr_1_18?ie=UTF8&qid=1539219900&sr=8-18&keywords=albert+oon

Choices Reap Consequences

Chapter 1 – Set for Life at a Cost

Growing up is a process that could take one’s entire life. There’s a certain fear of it especially when it comes to financial concerns. It’s one of the main reasons why people get jobs after all. There is probably not one person in the world who hasn’t wished for a solution to all of their problems to appear to them in a single day. Jorge is a boy who is lucky enough to have a one-million-dollar bill fly straight to him. He then sees another and catches it. Then another then another and another until he has ten million dollars in his hands. Jorge is old enough to know what he can do with all of this money and that he is set for life with it. He runs to find the source of the money and comes across a band of thieves in a gunfight with the cops.

Gunfights in the streets of Hillside City are common since the city is one of the craziest in the world. The cops are trained to know when to shoot first and ask questions later and this is one of those situations. The reason why money is flying through the air appears to be because the case of money the thieves were stealing was shot open by the cops. The thieves are struggling to pick up what they can while retreating. One of them notices Jorge holding some of the money and runs after him.

Jorge runs into the nearby alleyways, which he and his friends repurposed into an obstacle course. It was dangerous work that they could’ve gotten into trouble for, but what kind of adventure doesn’t involve danger. Jorge leaps and crawls through the obstacle course while the thief struggles to keep up with him since the obstacle course was made for kids. The thief then gets caught in the obstacle course and gives up on chasing Jorge this way. Jorge takes the opportunity to quickly head home. Along the way, he periodically looks behind him as he’s anxious. He has the key to an easy life in his hands. He won’t need to worry anymore about going to school, college, or having enough money to survive once he gets this money back home.

Looking back behind him, he can see shadows quickly darting back into the shadows. People who aren’t looking at him appear to grow another face on their face that stares at Jorge when he looks at them. He knows this is more than his imagination. It’s Speculum Humanae or Human mirror, a condition that people have that’s reported to appear in them once they reach a certain point in their lives when everything changes. Jorge doesn’t want to believe he has this, but all the research papers and news reports he’s read point him towards this conclusion. Monsters and other supernatural happenings reflective of your personality are reported to haunt you until you get past this important moment in your life. Jorge hopes that him heading home will “cure” him of this condition before something dangerous happens to him.

Before he knows it, he’s back home and catches his parents leaving for work. He’s relieved to see them, but they’re less so.

“Jorge, what are you doing here?” his father yells.

Before he has the chance to say anything or pull out the money, his mother says, “It’s his lunch time. You know how these kids like heading home to get away from school. We used to go to a cool breakfast place around here, remember?”

“Oh, that’s right. I’m sorry Jorge.”

His mother goes up to him and hands him a twenty for lunch before kissing him on the head and going into their car. His parents then waved goodbye and tell him that they love him as they drive off to work. Jorge waves the money to them, but they’re too far to see it so they just wave back. Even though Jorge has a copy of the key to get inside the house, he left it inside the house because he usually heads home when his parents get back.

Now that his parents have left, Jorge feels unsafe. He can feel people staring at him from all around him. The only thing he can do is head back to school where he can possibly be protected. Since he’s out on the streets, Jorge goes through a series of alleyways to get to school. He feels that the walls around him might offer him protection. It’s then a strange sensation in the back of his head. It feels as if there’s a mouth in the back of his head. Jorge looks into a nearby broken mirror and sure enough, there is.

It speaks to him, “Hello there Jorge.”

Jorge screams as he fiddles with his head to try to get the mouth off.

“I know it’s weird to see a mouth on the back of your head but look at it this way. Would you rather be me, a mouth without a body, or you a boy with a full body?”

Jorge stays quiet and thinks the answer to himself.

“Exactly. Now the reason why I’m here, is because I’m going to help you as you go through this phase in your life. I’ll be telling you what you’re thinking and what we could possibly do, but you’re the one who has to decide. Got it?”

Jorge nods his head.

“Good! You and I are going to have so many adventures together, I can’t wait.”

The mouth then recedes back into Jorge’s head. Jorge thinks things have gotten worse for him. He quickens his pace until he’s back at school just in time as lunchtime has stopped. He quickly heads back to class and sits down in his seat. Class begins again, but Jorge wants to tell his friends what he got. The two of them sit ahead of Jorge and the people ahead of Jorge aren’t exactly friends with him so it’s not like they’ll do him a favor by passing his message to them, so he waits until school ends for the day.

Once the school day ends Jorge takes his stuff and goes to his talk to his friends, he almost catches up to him until the mouth on his head comes back.

“Watch it, kid, we got trouble,” it says as Jorge’s eyes catch the four of the thieves from before heading this way.

They point towards the school as they talk to each other. It seems that the one who was following Jorge managed to follow him to the school. The thought then comes to Jorge’s mind that the one thief also now knows where he lives. This terrifies him beyond belief. The cops, thankfully, find the thieves again and re-engage them in a gunfight. The children of the school scatter to the cars of their parents while others run back home. Jorge runs with his friends back to their house. The thieves catch sight of Jorge running away and send two of their members to get him. They chase after Jorge and his friends as they run through the city streets and into the alleyways that they’ve claimed for themselves. Again, because of their design, Jorge is able to get away from the robbers through the alleyways, however, Jorge’s friends are caught at the end of one alleyway causing him to take another exit.

“That wasn’t nice of you,” the mouth on his head says, “Leaving your friends to criminals like them?”

Jorge shakes off the guilt in his mind. It’s not like his friends won’t tell the thieves what they don’t already know, but then again, you never know what these criminals might do to his friends. Hillside City is home to some of the most dangerous and crazy people. The alleyways that Jorge once knew by heart have now turned into a maze. Arms, eyes, and mouths pop out from the sides. Some of them push him forward while others push him back while telling him to take either action.

“What are you going to choose, Jorge? Hmmm?”

When Jorge looks back, he can see two thieves chasing me, but they’re different. Their mouths are swollen and monstrous and their arms look like they could rip Jorge in two.

“Get me out of here!” Jorge screams.

“It shall be done.”

At the blink of an eye, Jorge remerges from an alleyway on the opposite side of the city. It’s way later in the day now and it’s almost nighttime. Jorge sighs in relief as he makes his way back home. Along the way, he hears two people talking.

“Did you hear about those thieves that stole a briefcase of money from a rich guy in the city? The cops shot the briefcase so the thieves’ priorities would be spilt, and all that money flew into the wind.”

“Really? I wish I was there to catch some.”

“I heard that some people did catch some of it, but as you can expect, they ran off with it before being asked to give it back.”

“What happened to the thieves?”

“Executed. Hillside City style.”

“That’s what you get when you have a mayor that was previously both a police chief and a crime boss.”

“Hey, he had a good reason for being a “criminal”. It’s not like he hurt anyone who didn’t deserve it.”

“Right. It’s just another day in the city then.”

“Yeah, but I heard at least four or more people died because they might’ve had the money that flew away.”

“Really? Who?”

“A bunch of middle-aged people and more importantly, kids.”

“You know what? I take back what I said. Let the major make the police do what he wants. Crime has gone down because of it and those dead criminals don’t breathe the same air as us anymore.”

Jorge’s heart sinks as he pulls out his phone to see the news report. Among the names of the victims, he finds the names of his friends and his parents. It is reported they died after being questioned by the thieves.

The mouth in the back of Jorge’s head says, “Welcome to your new life kid. Hey, don’t be sad. At least you have enough money to survive until you die, right?”

Jorge walks into the alleyway and quietly sobs as the long night begins.

 

 

Chapter 2 – Living with Everything and Nothing

“What am I going to do now? I have all of this money but what am I going to spend it on? Can I even deposit the money into a bank account? I don’t have one and I could one, but the bankers would be suspicious of me. The news of people taking the stolen money is still fresh news so they might report me to the police if I give them even a one-million-dollar bill. I could go to Hillfall Town or some other place where the news hasn’t reached yet. But still, a kid like me going into a bank will tons of money would be weird. I could go to jail for life for having this money on me!”

“I guess all that money in your pocket isn’t as valuable as you think, don’t you think? Wouldn’t it be easier to just throw it all away?”

Jorge thinks about it for a second then decides against it.

“All I have to do is find a way to use this money and then I’ll be set for life. I could make it up to my parents and friends by using it for good!”

“But it can’t bring them back to life.”

“I won’t need to, to make them proud of me.”

“Is that what you really think?”

Jorge doesn’t answer the mouth and gets up. The main idea in his head right now is to get to Hillfall Town to deposit his money into a bank account. He’s just old enough to have a bank account but he still needs a guardian that will have to share a joint account with him. Jorge is sure that he can get someone to share his money with him especially if he finds a nice family who will accept him. Not too long ago, a popular author lost his wife and has now lost his daughter. Jorge thinks to himself that he can bring this money to him and be adopted into this author’s family relatively easily, but that’s only one of the thoughts in his head so far.

“Maybe there’s even a poor family in the city that could use the money I have. Yeah, this’ll definitely help them out.”

“You’re such a hero, aren’t you?”

Jorge chuckles while ignoring the mouth’s sarcastic remark. There are much more important things to think about to him. So many more important things to look forward to. He’s on the edge of living an easy life and now it only takes the permission of one adult to get it. With all of this pressure on him, Jorge can feel the stares of everyone, everything, and the nothing around him. Eyes feel like they’re peering at him from all angles as if they’re waiting for him to let go of the money in his pocket. A single slip of the hand could cause them to lunge out from the shadows and take Jorge’s easy pass, so he’s holding tight to it as if his existence depended on it.

“Aren’t you forgetting something, Jorge?”

“No, I don’t think so.”

“Your parents Jorge and your friends. What about them? You just cried about them minutes ago and now you’re completely fine.”

“I’m still sad about them.”

“It doesn’t look like it. You didn’t even think about visiting their houses to pay your respects. You have ten million dollars on you. I’m sure you can give them at least one of those to them as a way of saying sorry for getting them killed. Or wait, is that why you don’t want to see them?”

“That’s not it.”

“Why aren’t you doing anything about it then?”

“There’s nothing I can do that’s going to make it up to them! This money isn’t going to help them feel better!”

“It’s helping you, isn’t it? Maybe it isn’t?”

“Shut up. I’ll just wait for a while to talk to them.”

“Are you sure? I’m sure they’re worried about you too. Are you really going to let your guilt get to you like this?”

“I’m done talking to you.”

“I’m sure you are.”

He hasn’t noticed, but Jorge has walked into a graveyard.

“How did we get here?”

“You weren’t paying attention to where we were going. You don’t even know where you’re going.”

The wind seems to whisper to Jorge. It’s a quiet whisper that whispers Jorge’s guilts to him. It unnerves him to the point where he starts scratching the inside of his ears.

“You heard what they said. What are you going to do about it?”

The unnerving feeling in his ears spreads to the rest of his body until mouths start growing in his ears, on his body, and in it. They keep whispering the words of the wind. Jorge tries to pull off the mouths off his skin but can’t manage to. He rolls around on the ground desperately trying to quiet the whispers until he wakes up inside his room. For some reason, he’s back inside his house.

Jorge looks around and it appears that everything he remembers was just a dream. He no longer has ten million dollars in his pockets. He doesn’t even have the twenty his mom gave him. It’s like today never happened. Jorge smiles as he feels relieved. Everything was a dream and how could it not be with how crazy things were. To make sure he’s truly awake, he quietly walks into his parent’s room to find them sleeping peacefully. He breathes another sigh of relief, but then his eyes catch something strange in the dark. Jorge sees blood dripping from the bed. Panicking, he goes to wake up his parents.

He shakes their shoulder’s while saying, “Mom? Dad?”

They don’t respond and don’t even seem to be breathing anymore.

“Mom?! Dad?!”

Again, they don’t respond. Jorge rips the sheets off his parents to find that only their heads are on the bed that is now crimson red.

“No…”

In denial at what he’s seeing, Jorge runs out of the room and wakes up in his classroom. The bell rings for lunchtime and all of the students get up to get their lunches. Jorge no longer knows what to think and intuitively leaves the school to get lunch at a place that his parents used to go. Along the way he sees money flying through the air, he catches as much money as he can until he has ten million dollars in his hand. He then thinks to himself about what he should do. After a bit of thinking and hearing the gunfire in the distance, he walks away with the money and doesn’t go to get more, however, a thief that’s chasing the flying money sees him and chases him. The same things happen up to the point where Jorge and his friends are running away in the alleyway.

When he is again presented with the choice to save his friends or to run the other way, he again runs the other way. Instead of running into a continuous alley, Jorge runs into a dead end with an open mouth at the end that speaks of Jorge’s guilts.

“You’re going to have to run into it kid if you want to survive.”

Jorge is hesitant, but he runs through the mouth and ends up back where he was in Hillside City and walking towards to some kind of destination.

“What was that? I don’t understand anything that’s happening to me! Why?”

“You saw why. You barely changed your decisions when you went through them again in your head. You might feel guilty for what you did, but you sure aren’t going to change the reason why you got that guilt. That’s for sure.”

“No! That’s not it, I do feel guilty! I am sorry for what I did!”

Wanting to prove himself, Jorge takes five million dollars out of his pocket and throws it into the air, but once the money files out, it appears back in his pockets. He keeps trying to get rid of the money to no avail as it keeps appearing in his pockets.

“Jorge, Jorge! You feel guilty, but you don’t want to get rid of the money. It’d be one thing if you felt like you didn’t want to get rid of it but wanted to, that’s understandable, however, you are the opposite. You feel like you want to get rid of it, but alas, you don’t want to. You want to be rid of the guilt not the reason for it.”

Jorge breathes as if he were running on a treadmill and puts his hands on his knees as he thinks about what he should do. He then goes back to his original plan.

“I want to have a reason to get rid of this.”

“It’s more like you want a good reason that sounds good to you, but sure. Let’s go find a reason.”

He walks off while still gripping the cash in his pockets that also appear to have their thorns in his hand.

 

 

 

 

Chapter 3 – Not your Typical Angel

As Jorge makes it way to whatever destination he’s thinking of, he comes across a church. He sees that the lights are still open inside. The thought comes to him that he should go inside and confess his sins or seek help from a priest, but he’s not sure if his sins are forgivable so he walks away. A noise draws his eyes to the cross on top of the cathedral. He sees a monster that’s almost indescribable. It appears to be a reaper with a single eye and a long mouth that can split. The monster has four arms in the center of its body and one long arm with an ax and another with a noose. All of its body is cloaked in a black robe and it has two wings that are half clipped with feathers falling off it.

“What is that thing?!” Jorge asks as he slowly backs away.

The monster focuses its eye on Jorge as two hands pray, two other hands are lifted into the air and the ax and noose are lifted into the air.

“You’ve heard of your guardian angel before. Now, behold the Divine Executioner as he cleanses the wicked.”

The executioner screams out as everything, but the church is affected by its screams. It flies down to attack Jorge as he runs away. Jorge moves out of the way of the fast strikes delivered by the heavy ax. He runs into an alleyway thinking that the monster can’t fit into it. The executioner flies over him as it chases him. Trash and other objects in the alleyway start forming themselves into obstacles like the ones Jorge and his friends made. The obstacles form as Jorge approaches him which forces him to quickly react to them. Adding to the danger, the executioner lowers its noose every now and then to try to catch Jorge in it. Fortunately, he manages to get through them, but he gets a few scratches from the sharp objects in the alley.

Unnerving laughter comes from the executioner as it flies down and manages to fit in the alley. The executioner only appears large because of the cloak over its skinny body. It raises its ax in preparation to attack.

“Watch it, kid. The alleyway splits off ahead. One way leads to a mouth that will lead you far away from the execution, but is the least dangerous, while the other is more dangerous, but doesn’t get you too far away from it.”

Seeing as the approaching executioner forces Jorge to choose the least difficult route. He goes through an obstacle course that only has one way to get around it.

“I thought you said this was the least difficult!”

“But I didn’t say that it wasn’t difficult.”

Jorge manages to get through the obstacle course and run through the mouth, but the executioner’s ax manages to slice through Jorge’s bag as if it wasn’t there and cut Jorge’s back. He reels in pain as he tries to keep moving. The mouth has teleported him back to where he left his friends. He goes back to where he left them and sees blood on the ground. It appears that a crime scene was set up here and the bodies have recently been taken away by the authorities.

“Why am here? Haven’t I seen this enough already?”

“Apparently not. I shouldn’t bother you though, right? You’re a big boy now who’s made this important decision not only once but twice.”

Not wanting to deal with this again, Jorge turns away and starts walking again. Suddenly, he hears the laughter and flapping wings of the executioner in the distance. Jorge turns around to see it approaching at a fast rate.

“I thought you said I would be far away from this thing!”

“But I never said you would get away.”

Jorge can’t run so he tries to hide. There’s an abandoned house not too far from the school that his friends used to explore. He finds his way into the house through the basement window and hides in the darkest corner of the basement.

“What’s the plan, Jorge?”

“I’m going to hide here for now.”

“Do you really think that’s going to help? It doesn’t track you by sight you know. You staying here will only give you a few moments of safety.”

As Jorge begins to think about what to do, he hears the executioner land outside. The sound of its robe can be heard gliding across the grass then across the floor upstairs. It phases through doors and through walls and floors to find Jorge.

“It knows where you are. It’s just playing with you to see if you’ll come out to face it.”

“That’s what I’ll do.”

“That’s the spirit, boy.”

Jorge recalls an old rifle in the bedroom that he and his friends found. They fired it once not too long ago and found out that it still works. Thankfully, no one got hurt that day, but right now, Jorge needs it to. Jorge exits the basement through the window then quietly walks up the stairs, which attracts the attention of the executioner. It chases Jorge as he runs into the bedroom with the rifle. He dodges its ax swings as he tries to find it. When he does, he shoots its eye, which makes it scream in pain. The recoil makes Jorge drop the gun. He scrambles to pick it up until the executioner uppercuts him with its ax, which makes Jorge fly out the window and into a giant gaping mouth outside. It transports him back to where he was outside the church. He’s still staring at the cross on top of the holy building.

A priest notices Jorge blankly staring outside, walks outside, and asks, “Are you okay, my son?”

Jorge then focuses on the priest whose entire face is now a mouth who constantly says, “Confess, confess, confess.”

People start gathering around Jorge say things like, “Confess.”

“Give it up.”

“Selfish child.”

“Uncaring friend.”

“Dishonest boy.”

“Confess.”

Their voices spin Jorge’s head around and around until his left arm falls off then the other. After, his head falls off, and the crowds gather around him and pick up his head and put his head and arms back on his body. They are silent as this happens.

Once Jorge is whole again, his friends and family whisper into his ear, “Confess.”

Again, Jorge is staring blankly at the cross on top of the church.

A priest notices Jorge blankly staring outside, walks outside, and asks, “Are you okay, my son?”

He snaps out of it this time and says, “Y-yes, father.”

“Okay, but you don’t seem to be. Isn’t it a bit late for you to be out by yourself? Do you want me to call your parents to pick you up?”

“Oh, no. I’m fine. I was just heading home.”

“Alright. Good night and bless you.”

Jorge nods his head and walks away from the church.

“Was that really the smart decision to make, Jorge?” the mouth on his head asks.

“No, probably not, but there’s always another way.”

“But you might not get to it. The priest is walking back into the church. It might be embarrassing, but at least your problem will be resolved.”

“…”

“Or is that not the way you want it to be resolved?”

“I…uh.”

“Oh, keep walking if you want, but know that it will get worse if you do.”

Jorge can’t help but keep walking in his directionless quest. It’s too easy for him to keep walking with his aching legs but it’s hard for him to stop and turn around.

“So be it then according to your will.”

 

 

Chapter 4 – Wanted by Some, Loved by None

Despite everything that’s happened to him, Jorge remains somewhat unshaken by his decision. All remains quiet for a while as he walks the streets. There aren’t many people out at this hour besides the police, and criminals that live in the shadows. Jorge’s mind makes him feel that people are staring at him in the dark. This makes him walk uneasy and with caution until he sees a woman on the corner. She’s scantily dressed, and Jorge is old enough to know what she is.

“Maybe I can get her out of this life if I offer her the money,” Jorge thinks to himself.

“Maybe or maybe you could make it worse.”

“Tch.”

Ignoring the mouth on his head’s advice, he walks up to the woman.

She curiously looks at him and asks, “Is there something you need, kid?”

“Yeah, I can get you out of this job if you take me in.”

Jorge lifts the millions of dollars in his pockets just enough so that she can see it. Her eyes widen, and she smiles a bit.

“Well, aren’t you the sweetest thing in the world. I might even just marry you right now if you asked me.”

“Uh…you’re welcome.”

“Aww. So shy.”

The woman kisses Jorge’s lips, which makes his face turn red. He rubs off the kiss as the woman giggles.

“What’s your name, kid? My name is Candice.”

“Jorge.”

“That’s a nice name. Let’s go to my or should I say our home.”

“Okay.”

Candice takes Jorge by his hand and he passively allows it. They walk a short distance and enter an unclean looking apartment. Jorge can smell the potent smell of Hillside City depravity in the air around him. Despite holding hands with a stranger, he’d rather have someone near him than no one. Candice unlocks her door and leads Jorge into her apartment room. It’s a mess like the rest of the apartment building, but at least he won’t have to live in it for too long. A young girl walks out of her room in her PJs that look more like would fit in her mom’s closet. She appears to be a little younger than Jorge.

“Natty honey, we have a new man in the family,” Candice says while hugging Jorge from behind.

Natty looks at Jorge funny as he blushes again and tries to keep eye contact. “H-hi Natty. I’m Jorge.”

“This boy, who would be perfect as your husband just saying, has the money we need to live easy lives.”

“Really?” Natty asks with a glimmer of hope sparkly in her eye.

“That’s right. Make him feel welcome while I run a few errands.”

Candice hits Jorge in the butt and winks at him before leaving. Natty leads Jorge to her room then closes the door behind him.

“Nice, Jorge. I’m jealous,” the mouth on the back of his head says.

“So uh, Natty. You got a nice mom.”

“Not really. How much money do you have on you?”

“Uh. Ten million and twenty dollars.”

“Oh wow! No wonder she wants you here. Hey, how did you get all that money? You weren’t at the robbery today, were you?”

“I was actually. I caught all this money.”

“Dang it.”

“What is it?”

Natty opens the door and eavesdrops on her mother who is talking on the phone outside the room. She puts her finger on her mouth to tell Jorge to be quiet. Once her mother is done talking, Natty hurries Jorge back to her room.

“What’s happening?”

“My mom knows people who ordered those robbers to steal that money you have. They might kill you and take the money you have for themselves.”

“How do you know?”

“Because that’s what we usually do with whoever we bring in.”

Jorge gulps. Only he can hear the mouth on his head laugh. “You really hit the jackpot now didn’t ya Jorge?”

“What should I do?”

“We have to see. I’m not sure what mom is going to do.”

The kids can hear a man enter the room.

“Oh no. He’s here.”

“Who is?”

“It doesn’t matter, just hide!”

Natty moves Jorge behind her closet which leads to a hidden escape staircase.

“Wait here for a second.”

Natty moves the closet over the escape route. It sounds like from Jorge’s side that’s she’s opening a window to make it look like he escaped through it. The two adults sound like they enter the room and ask Natty about what happened to Jorge. She tells him her answer and it appears that the man is upset. Candice sounds worried as well, but then it sounds like someone gets pushed up against a wall. Jorge can then hear what sounds like someone biting into bone. Screaming is heard for a while which includes the screams of Natty who sounds like she’s telling Jorge to run, though it sounds like she’s screaming outside the window. Another bone biting sound is heard along with screaming.

More afraid than ever, Jorge runs down the escape stairs while trying to make as less noise as possible. He escapes out a small door in an alleyway. He starts to run but is then stopped by the shadow of a man in the distance. Jorge hides in the shadows as he observes the man. The man is standing in the streets and appears to be wearing a mask of some sorts. The underneath of his mask appears to be oozing blood. He looks around and hastily walks as it appears that he’s the one who’s looking for Jorge. There’s an urban legend about a man who’s known to eat the necks of people in Hillside City. He would offer you your heart’s desire and after you enjoy it, he would eat your neck as payment.

“Come on, Jorge. You have to move. You can’t be frozen in fear. It’s too warm for that,” the mouth on his head says as it urges him forward.

Jorge cautiously walks forward. He peaks out of the alleyway and starts walking when it looks like no one is around.

Someone behind Jorge, says from the shadows, “There he is! Get him!”

Multiple shadow people come out from the darkness and begin to chase Jorge. He runs away and keeps running until he reaches another alleyway, in which he can lose them in and since they’ve always been his escape. A woman who looks similar to Candice catches him.

She looks at him with a smile and says, “Calm down, boy. I’ll keep you safe.”

The woman kisses Jorge as she uses one arm to hold him and the other to take the money in his pockets. He breaks away from her and knees her in her crotch in response. Jorge tries to run away but is caught by another older woman who does the same, but she bites his neck right after. Another woman comes by and bites into the other side of Jorge’s neck and more come to feel his pockets for his money.

“Just take it and leave me alone!” Jorge screams.

A familiar scream is heard as the Divine Executioner comes down from the sky and lands on the ground. The women scatter as the executioner defends Jorge. They try to get around the angel, but they are flattened by its large ax. Jorge, who is still scared out of his mind, runs away further into the alleyway. The executioner chases him as it defends him while trying to catch him. There’s a mouth at the end of this alley. Jorge runs through it and ends up near the edge of Hillside City.

Now that he’s away from the action, he sits at a nearby park bench in front of the famous hills of the city.

“You tried helping people and they ended up getting killed, Jorge. What are you going to do now?”

Jorge reaches into his pocket and he can feel the blood on the money he has. He pulls it out and looks at it. The money is now biting his skin and making him bleed, so he takes all of it out and releases it out into the air.

“Atta boy.”

“What do I do now?”

“The choice is up to you, but at least you’re better off now than before.”

“I hope so.”

Jorge gets up then resumes walking to whatever destination and fate await him.

 

 

 

Chapter 5 – Confession then Absolution

Now more directionless than ever, Jorge walks the streets of Hillside City waiting for something to happen. There is something urging him to go forward in a certain direction. A light that he can barely see ahead of him that’s bright enough for only the soul to notice. The screams of the executioner announce its approach and Jorge is not as afraid to face it this time. It lands in front of him and raises its ax with all four of its hands in a praying position. With nothing left to his life, Jorge closes his eyes and allows the executioner to strike him. Once it does, another body of Jorge’s falls to the ground behind him as the ax phases through him. The old Jorge burns into ashes as the new one lives on.

The Divine Executioner now looks more like an actual angel with its wings back and a more human look to it. It bows before Jorge and he bows in return.

The mouth on Jorge’s head says, “You know, people see angels as devils when they try to tear away their possessions that are causing their souls to decay. They’re trying to free your soul from the vices that lead you to ruin. Thankfully, you were able to be freed.”

“What’s going to happen now? Why do I still see you and the executioner?”

“You’re going to need our help with something that’s coming up.”

“What? When? Or is that a dumb question?”

“Actually, you’re going to need our help right now. Look behind you.”

A group of people is running towards Jorge. They appear to be the same people who were trying to take the ten million dollars off of him. They’re smug since he doesn’t move from where he is. Right now, they can’t see the executioner, but they do once it strikes the ground. They all look up to it and scream in terror. They call the angel a devil, a demon, and a monster as they try to uselessly fight against it. The executioner hangs several people and mercilessly hits them with its ax. They can’t take the sight of their previous body nor can they stand losing the vices that give them so much joy. The ruckus gets the attention of the cops that were looking for these criminals.

A group of officers arrive to find a bunch of people gone mad scraping the ground while Jorge stands above them and is trying to walk around them. The police arrest the many criminals and bring in Jorge who says that his parents were killed, and he needed a place to go. The families of his friends actually called the police after the shooting and are coming to the police station to see Jorge. While he is waiting, Jorge admits to the police that he was one of the people who caught the million dollars that were flying in the air. The chief of police, Harley, talks to him personally in her office.

She asks, “Do you still have the money with you?”

“N-no, I let go of it because having it got my family and friends killed.”

“I don’t know why you had to confess then. Do you still feel guilty?”

“I do.”

“Well, you shouldn’t. You did something that not many people would do.”

“Are you going to arrest me?”

“I don’t see a reason too. That money you had was blood money anyhow held by a person we didn’t exactly like so I’ll give you a pass.”

“Really?”

“Of course.”

“Thank you so much.”

“What do you want to be when you grow up?”

“I uh. I don’t really know yet.”

“That’s fine. Not many kids do at your age. Maybe you should be a police officer when you grow up. We could use officers who can make hard decisions like you do.”

“I’ll think about it.”

“Just keep it in mind. We have a lot of women in the force who like men like you. How did you get in that situation with all those criminals at your feet?”

“It’s complicated to explain.”

“Then make it as simple as possible.”

“It involves the Divine Executioner that hit them with an ax that killed a part of them and there was a mouth on the back of my head that liked to talk a lot and-”

“Okay, stop. Make it less complicated.”

“I don’t know how to.”

“It’s fine. I understand what you went through.”

The families of Jorge’s friends knock on Harley’s door.

“Come in.”

The families tell Jorge how thankful they are that he’s alive, but he shakes their hearts when he admits that he was the reason why their children died. They don’t know what to say so they awkwardly tell him again that they’re thankful he’s alive before leaving the room and the police station. The only family that Jorge thought who might’ve accepted him has just left him alone.

Harley puts her hand on Jorge’s shoulder, and says, “I’m sorry Jorge.”

“It’s okay. I forgive them.”

A man enters the room without knocking.

Harley turns around. “Leo, so you decided to show up.”

“That’s right, Harley. I had to see this remarkable young man.”

Leo holds out his hand with a smile and says, “Nice to meet you, Jorge. Do you know who I am?”

Jorge hastily shakes Leo’s hand and says, “Yes, Mr. Mayor.”

“Just call me Leo.”

“Okay, Leo.”

“Harley told me what you did, and it seems like you don’t have anywhere to go.”

“The families of his friends just left.”

“They did? Idiots. Those people don’t see the potential in you. Why don’t you come with me and live with me at my place? I could help you become a great man.”

Jorge thinks about it then says, “I’ll do that, but you have to promise me that you won’t give me money that I didn’t earn. I want to earn everything I get no matter how small it is.”

“I promise. You’ve actually started becoming a great man with that mindset. You’ll accomplish great things if you keep thinking this way and growing in it.”

“I will?”

“Yes, you’ll see.”

The End

 

Link to download the story for free on Smashwords. – https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/896881

Best Intentions, Worst Results

Link to download the story – https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/795392

 

Prologue – Carriage Ride to the Unknown

“Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.” Luke 23:24

What lengths would you go to in order to do good? My name is Ashton and I am on a mission to find the City of Sanguine, a city said to have the blood of Jesus Christ Himself and used it to cure any and all diseases and injuries. This city was the talk of the world for a good part of a month before suddenly disappearing along with those who sought after the city. People thought that the city is just a rumor made to make men wander the world until they died or that it was just a false rumor made to give people false hope and pull a little prank on them. Whether a rumor or not, the people who left to find the city have disappeared without a trace which brings in talk of the paranormal. My curiosity seems to have gotten the best of me as I have accepted a stranger’s proposal to go to the city. I met him after I was talking about the city with a few friends after church. He said that he knew how to get to the city and that he would drive me there for free. I don’t know why I accepted this. Again, my curiosity seems to be the cause.

In case this is a bad situation, I take a pistol with me, which is a family heirloom. Strangely enough, while waiting for the man, I talk to a priest I know that tells me that he doesn’t see the man I met even after I described the man to him in detail. The unknown man arrives with his carriage at the front of the church and beckons me to go. The priest tells me to be careful and I tell him not to worry and tell him about my secret weapon. I get on the carriage with my luggage and ride off to the City of Sanguine or at least I hope I am. We go down a few roads that I am familiar with, but we take another few turns off the road into a forest. Once I start to worry about the path we are taking, we exit the forest and I see a city on an island in the distance.

“Is that the City of Sanguine?” I ask the man.

“It is! Doesn’t it look grand from here?”

“It does.”

The way the setting sun shines against the wonderful current Victorian architecture gives the city a grand feeling to it. As we approach the bridge that connects here to the city gates, we stop.

“What’s the matter?” I ask.

“I have a gift to give you before you enter the city. Come out so I can properly show you it.”

I get out of the carriage and the man brings a long scythe out of a box from the back of the carriage.

“You’ll need this. It’ll be of better use to you than a pistol.”

Does he know of my concealed weapon?

He continues by saying, “Now watch your fingers when you use this function for it.”

The man squeezes a small lever in the middle of the weapon and it becomes an ax spear with two ax head on both sides.

“What possible use would I need for this elaborate weapon?”

“It is just a gift from a stranger. You’ll never know when a gift such as this will be of use, however, what you gift I give you that you will use is this.  Let beasts be beasts and men be men. Do not give into temptation. You are a faithful son of God and one of His many instruments on earth.”

“That sounds like very sound advice. I will use it when the situation comes.”

“I will hope so. Now get back into the carriage. I’ll drive you across the bridge.”

We drive across the long bridge and to the gate which opens as we approach it. The carriage stops, and the gates close behind us. I step outside the carriage and the city appears to be empty.

“Excuse me, driver, where might I find someone-”

I turn to see that the driver is gone and the horses that we guided us here are statues. The carriage itself feels more like an antique model that you would leave in your house to show off and collect dust. The porcelain carriage doors won’t open, which is especially strange since I opened them so easily before and the texture on them didn’t feel this way before. Thankfully though, I left everything in the back of the carriage and my possessions are still here along with the strange weapon the man gave me. I take my suitcase and the long case that contains the weapon and walk through the city. This appears to be a ghost town with not a noise being made anywhere with only the sound of the wind to remind me that I haven’t gone deaf. I do see shadows that dart around the corners of buildings and windows.

“Hello! Hello?” I say to try to get one of the people’s attention, but none answer back and only retreat into the darkness.

With nowhere to really go to, I arrive at what looks to be a hotel. The hotel doors are open and yet, there’s no one here like the rest of the city. I ring the service bell on the hotel’s desk several times without an answer. On further inspection, there’s a note that says to leave a certain amount of money on the desk and I’ll receive a key a few moments later. I do as the note says with nothing else to do and search the hotel for signs of life. What seems to be sounds of laughter, whimpering, and mumbling coming from several of the rooms. I knock on the doors to try to get their attention, but no one answers the doors. A dinging sound that sounds like someone dropped a key is made downstairs and I return to find a key where I left my money. This is indeed a strange city.

“Thank you, whoever left this key for me,” I say.

…no response again. There’s nothing I think I can do right now so I go to the room this key belongs to and enter the room. It’s actually really nice and well decorated for the price I paid. I check my pistol, the ammo I have for it, my spare clothes, and the weapon the man gave me before I decide to take a quick rest. Maybe people will be out early tomorrow morning? Do they have some kind of curfew that says they must be in this early? I cannot fathom why a city that is supposedly famous for having the healing blood of Jesus Christ Himself would be like this. Nevertheless, tomorrow will hopefully give me some kind of answer.

 

 

Chapter 1 – The First Blood that is Spilled Can Fill the Ocean

A scream awakens me from my sleep and it appears that I haven’t slept for long as the sun is still setting though it’s a bit lower than before. I quickly take my pistol and head downstairs to see a nun in white. She appears to be a young adult though what’s strange is, is that she’s carrying a sword.

“Are you okay sister?” I ask.

“Why yes. I heard a scream and came here to see if anyone was in trouble.”

“That wasn’t you? Why are you carrying a sword?”

“Well, not all nuns are defenseless, especially in this town. You should get a better weapon than that pistol if you wish to survive the night.”

“What do you mean?”

“You’ll see soon enough.”

“I got a scythe upstairs in my room, will that do?”

“Let me see it.”

I lead her upstairs and show her the weapon. She runs her hands through the weapon with an interested look on her face.

“You must’ve gotten this weapon from God Himself,” she says.

“Really?”

“You see this cross on the weapon? This cross is embedded into the weapon with a special material that blesses the weapon with immense strength.”

This explains the strange man and how weird it was on how I got here, but it’s strange that God Himself would lead someone like me here. I’m just an ordinary man or rather a waste of skin since I don’t do much for people.

“Can you wield this?” the nun continues.

“I have some experience wielding weapons, but not really.”

“You should be good then. Here, wield this weapon of God.”

I take the scythe and it’s lighter than I thought it would be. As I move the weapon’s blade through the air, it feels like I’m wielding a feather.

“We should go to the church,” the nun says, “It’s going to be safer there for us.”

“Ok. Are we going to ask the other people here to join us?”

“No, we regretfully won’t. You can hear their cries and laughter of madness, don’t you?”

“I can but-”

“I’m sorry but we must leave before they…I’ll explain along the way.”

We leave the hotel and make our way to the church. The church is the biggest building in the city which can be seen from most places in the city. Along the way, she starts to explain herself and the situation.

“My name is Sister Magdalene. I’m from the Holy Church of Jesus’ Blood and this town is suffering from an unusual curse. People here disappear and, in their place, come beasts that look like goats. These beasts come out at night and indiscriminately kill people then go back into hiding when the sun rises. They can only be scratched with regular weaponry, so we have to bless our weapons to hurt them. The church and the citizens here have been doing our best to get rid of all the beasts and eliminate the source, but we haven’t been too successful as our numbers dwindle with each passing day. There also doesn’t seem to be an exit for us as the only exit appears to be jumping into the abyss around the city.”

“Abyss? When I got here, it looked as normal as it can be.”

“You’re an outsider? You really are a blessing from God.”

“I don’t know about that. I just came here to see if the healing blood of Christ was true.”

“Oh, it is. I will give you some later if you wish.”

“Yes, please. I’d love to share your gift with the rest of the world.”

“Tis’ not my gift, but the gift of God. You truly are a blessing since you are here to spread our healing to the world.”

Again, I don’t know about that.

“So how did you obtain this blood?”

“We were given it by a stranger who drives a carriage. Once we confirmed the effects of the blood, he disappeared with his horses as if he was never there. His carriage was burned to ashes and his horses rotted on the ground with maggots in them.”

“That sounds similar to my carriage driver but not exactly mine. My carriage driver’s horses and carriage turned to porcelain.”

“Regardless of that minor difference, I truly believe that you are-”

“Yes sister, you’ve said what you believe I am many times already.”

“Yes, but I thought I’d reaffirm it-”

We suddenly hear a beastly scream that echoes throughout the city. It sounds like a goat mixed in with what I can only call a demon.

Magdalene draws her sword then says, “Prepare yourself…”

“Ashton. My apologies for not stating my name earlier.”

“You mustn’t worry about that now. Just draw your weapon.”

I draw my scythe and wait for the beast to show itself…wherever it is. In somewhat of a panic, I look around my surroundings and try to look for signs of the monster.

“Calm yourself, Ashton. You will know when it shows itself.”

Right…I’m calm now after a few breaths in and out and sure enough, the beast shows itself. It creeps out of the darkness with its goat demon head and big lanky body with barely any hair on it. Its skin also seems to be soaked in light blood as if it just killed its latest prey.

“Fear not Ashton for we are the hunters of these beasts and they are the prey. Now, attack without mercy!”

Magdalene charges in to attack and I follow. She goes on the left side of it and I go to the right. The beast lunges and swipes at both of us to try to break our pincer attack, but we dodge out of the way. Magdalene manages to slice off the arm of the beast with lightning speed before it has a chance to retract its arm. I follow her counterattack lead by raises my scythe and slicing the beast several times though it isn’t taken down so easily, so I quickly make the weapon switch itself to the ax to give one heavy finishing blow. After switching the weapon back and wiping some of the blood of me, Magdalene approaches me and begins to wipe the blade with her clothes.

Confused, I pull the weapon away then say, “What are you doing?”

“A weapon such as this doesn’t deserve to be dirty for so long.”

“Can’t we just wait to wash it at church?”

“We do have Holy water that would definitely improve the blade and make it clean. Ok then. I’ll wait,” Magdalene then gives me a smile that gives me a bit of unease, “You are truly blessed.”

“Thank you.”

What’s up with this city? Even Magdalene appears to be strange. We encounter a few more beasts along the way which is good practice for me as they don’t appear to be too much trouble for me despite their bloodthirsty way of fighting. This weapon is truly something special. It really makes my pistol look like a child’s toy when I try it on the beasts. Bullets don’t appear to have any effect on the beasts though Magdalene says that someone in the church could help improve it. After those encounters, we make it to a barricade in front of the walls of the church. There are people everywhere with torches, pitchforks, swords, and other weaponry but at least they appear to be normal.

Suddenly, Magdalene raises my hand that’s holding the scythe and proclaims, “Blessed is this dark night, for God has sent us a knight that will free us from this prison and spread His gift to the world.”

The crowd cheers for me. This what it must feel like to be celebrated, but I don’t feel like this is earned. Magdalene leads me through the crowd and they touch my shoulders while bowing and blessing me. They all seem so grateful for even receiving what seems to be a ray of hope. I guess shouldn’t do anything to spoil this and just help them in any way I can. As we approach the church walls, I see men and women with bows, crossbows, and rifles, above on the walls sniping what I assume to be beasts. The gate opens and there is a clergy of priests and nuns who are holding similar weapons to Magdalene.

“Sister Magdalene,” one of the priests say, “is this true that you’ve brought a gift from God?”

“It is true. I’ve heard his story and seen him fight. This man will give us great things,” she responds.

“We will see. What brings you here?”

“We are here to prepare him for saving us from this curse, bless his pistol, and give him a taste of the sacred blood of Christ.”

“Very well. Proceed though do be sure to check up on Lawrence if you can find him. He was posted on the inside of the front church doors, but no one can find him.”

“I’m sure he’s just resting or sharpening his blades.”

“Oh, those theories have not lost my mind, I am just merely telling you the situation with him.”

“I know. I’ll speak to you later. I must be on my way to help Sir Ashton.”

“Blessed be the path you walk.”

“Thank you.”

We both bow to each other and Magdalene and I continue up the church stairs.

“Who’s Lawrence?” I ask.

“The Holy Blade of the Church and one of the first church hunters. He lead many hunts on many nights so he has amassed much skill, strength, and glory.”

“And I’m a great blessing for this city? Lawrence sounds like your greatest blessing.”

“He’s one of them, but you alone have the tools to free us.”

“Whatever you say.”

As we approach the castle gates and open them, an unease creeps into me and with each inch the church’s front doors I see the reason why. The walls and ceiling are covered in blood and gore with mangled bodies that litter the ground. Magdalene and I are speechless as we walk into the church. A dismembered corpse manages to get up and we get to their aid.

The dismembered person says to us, “Ahh…ahh…please help us. An indescribable beast approaches. Lawrence the Abomination is hunting again. Please…God have mercy…have mercy on us all…hahaha!”

A terrible amalgamation of flesh, body parts, and beast approaches us on all fours. Its screech seems to be a combination of human, beast, and unimaginable horrors.

Though Magdalene is in more shock than I am, she reaches out to it while uttering the words, “Lawrence…is that you?”

The beast sets its sights on her and charges at her. I have to pull her out of the way to get her to move.

“Now is not the time for this!” I say while switching my scythe to the ax.

She slaps her face a bit before nodding and readying her sword. To beat this beast, we have to think on our feet as it seems adept at fighting us at the same time with wild flails of its body parts and charges to run away and make us swing at each other. Even so, a beast is still a beast and it falls, but then it catches a glimpse of something among the corpses. It reaches out one of its hands and grabs a huge greatsword. Its eyes seem captivated by it and as it grips it, it grows in size to match the beast’s size.

The monstrosity then lifts the sword to the ceiling and proclaims, “I am Lawrence the Holy Blade of the Church and I will fight as a Knight of God’s Will.”

It then stands on two feet and brings the sword in front of it as an honorable knight would. Though it doesn’t transform in any way, it seems to have taken the form of what I assume to be who Lawrence was and this brings tears to Magdalene’s face though she does not falter.

She shouts, “Lawrence! Honorable Knight of God’s Will! We will free you from your suffering!”

He fights more like a knight now that he’s gained some of his humanity back, which is more difficult for us now that can block and even parry attacks, but I feel more motivated to fight him. He’s a warrior who must be given an honorable death lest he goes down in history as a monster. With my weapon’s special ability, I get a great idea. I intentionally crash blows with Lawrence then switch my ax to the scythe which allows me to forcefully push his sword down to the ground which also slams him to the ground. I then spin and switch my weapon mid-swing to deliver the final blow, cutting off Lawrence’s head. The rest of the body melts into a sludge of blood though the head still remains and appears to be talking. Magdalene and I go to it to hear what he is saying.

“Forgive me, Magdalene,” he says, “The blood of beasts has consumed me and corrupted my body. Tell me…are the hunters of the church still fighting with hope and honor in their hearts?”

“Yes,” Magdalene says with tears still flowing from their face, “Yes, they are, and they will continue to fight as long as the sun shines in the sky.”

“Good. That gives me peace. Now…I’m afraid I must leave you again. God is calling His sword to its sheath…”

As Lawrence takes his last breath, Magdalene holds the head of her deformed friend and honorable knight and mourns his passing. I put my hand on her shoulder to give her some comfort, but then she stands up almost immediately.

She wipes the tears off her face then says, “I thank you for your help, but I mustn’t’ let this slow me down. Lawrence would’ve wanted us to not slow down for him and to just deliver salvation for the people he defended so valiantly. Now…let us improve your weaponry for the night has just begun.”

 

 

 

Chapter 2 – More Enemies, More Blood

We inform everyone what happened in the church and they’re just as shocked as we were. They try to help the injured though most if not all won’t live. Others help bury the corpses in the graveyard behind the church and clean the bloody mess that is everywhere, but I doubt that they’ll wash these bloodstains out of the floors and walls. In the meantime, Magdalene shows me how to improve my weaponry by cleaning it with Holy water and using a special kind of smelter with iron that gives it a very special quality. As for my pistol, she gives me special silver bullets that are better than regular ones and adds in different mechanisms that let it fire faster and load more than a few bullets into it, twelve to be exact. She also gives me a vial of what is supposed to be the Blood of Christ.

She tells me, “Please deliver the world the salvation it deserves.”

“I promise.”

“You can always get more here so don’t hesitate to heal yourself with it if you’re injured.”

Someone then barges into the room and says, “The beasts are coming!”

“Ashton, grab your scythe! It should be ready now.”

I grab the scythe and it feels exceptionally more different than it did before. Lighter, more versatile, deadlier. Magdalene, the rest of the hunters, and I exit the church to see the almost war-like state the outside is with beasts crawling and killing all over the place. We go to help, and I test out my new weaponry which works wonders. The pistol stuns and kills beasts with only one to two shots while the scythe cuts through them like butter and the switch to the ax is faster which is more destructive than before.

Magdalene turns to look at me then says, “Ashton!”

I turn to look where she is staring at right before a large dark grey hand grabs me and pulls me up and over the church walls. As it drags me through the city, I witness beasts crawling out of the darkness and woodwork as if the dark of the night itself births these creatures. They climb and crawl all over the city while killing people and heading for the church. Few take note of me and fewer chase after me since I’m being pulled at such a fast speed. I can’t really move my weapons at all though I still try to force my way out of this monster’s grip. It eventually pulls me on top of the city’s walls and lets me go here just to see the void between this city and where I came from. What was that hand’s purpose and why did it show me this just to fade into the darkness below? There’s no time to ponder such questions now as I must get back to Magdalene to help her and the others.

The streets seem awfully quiet after what I just witnessed but I still stay ready with both weapons in hand, ready for a bloody fight. I look up at the sky to see that there’s a blood moon out tonight. How appropriate. Blood and wreckage fill some of the streets with few bodies here and there. Thankfully some of the bodies are beasts so at least there are others here to fight them and help me. The further I go the stranger things I see and I’m not just talking about the lack of beasts who are probably just concentrating on the beasts. I find bodies of beasts who look somewhat human near houses, water fountains, and crosses. Even stranger, I find the exact opposite near the exact same landmarks. They all appear to have been killed or just killed themselves by hanging, gunshot or stab to the throat. I eventually stumble across one person who is slightly turned.

“Do not worry friend. I have the healing blood with me,” I say to him as I take out the blood vial.

The person stops me and says in a frightened tone, “Do not give me that accursed blood. It has killed more people than it can heal and-”

This person and many others around him start to transform into the beasts I see around the city, so I’m forced to fight and kill them. These ones have a more crimson look to their skin and are faster and stronger than the others as they can carve straight through the sides of nearby houses. Thankfully my skills and new weapons help me survive this skirmish with only a few scrapes and scratches. Is the blood the source of the beasts and madness among the citizens? It can’t be…can it?

Further along the way, I’m ambushed and put into a corner by these new crimson beasts. Suddenly, a few of them fall from strikes behind them and before the rest notice, they are slain.

A man in hunter attire walks over their bodies and greets me, “How do you do fellow hunter?”

“I’m alive thanks to you. You have my gratitude.”

“My name is Bradford. It’s a pleasure to meet you.”

“Mine is Ashton.”

“What are you doing here Ashton? Looking to fight the more challenging beasts?”

“No, I was dragged from the church to the walls and now I’m trying to get back.”

“Don’t bother with that accursed church and faith. They’re what started this plague of beasts and endless nights.”

Right…so he’s not too fond of the church.

“Do you know if this blood is the source of all of this?”

“It appears to be though I’m not sure why. A few alchemists and I are performing experiments on the blood to see what it truly is.”

“You do not think it is the Blood of Christ?”

“I am not a religious man so that is not on my mind. You should come with me to help us free this city and topple the church.”

Hmmm, what do I do…I should probably confirm the curse’s origins with Magdalene or at least save her for helping me start in the city. I shouldn’t be too quick to trust this man either.

“I will later but I must help a friend who is in trouble.”

“Very well then. I will not force your hand. Farewell and good hunting.”

He took that very well as if it wasn’t any trouble at all I should get back to the church now. With only a few more encounters with other beasts and the new crimson ones, I make it back to the church walls. There are only a few citizens guarding the entrance with no bodies on the ground for some reason despite the blood. They don’t appear to be well thought they look a bit better than the person I saw previously but I should still be careful. I approach the walls with caution while paying attention to the odd citizens they don’t seem to pay attention to me, so things are normal? Whoa! An ax comes down on me when I turn to look forward. Thankfully my reflexes are still sharp, so I dodge out of the way before it nicks me. This was their plan. They acted normal so I can walk in the center of their trap. These people aren’t beasts, but they attack me like beasts. They’re out of their mind so I have no choice but to defend myself. First, I killed beasts and now I’m killing people though from what I’ve recently seen, I’m not sure that the two are so different. These “beasts” go down more easily than the other ones but they can still use guns and reload them as if some part of their brains still remember this. Though I’m at a disadvantage, I’m also at a great advantage with my long reaching scythe and ax and my pistol that kills the “beasts” with guns in one shot. That was honestly easier to handle than I thought it would be, but my experience here makes my fighting style more bloodthirsty aggressive than the way I previously fought.

There’s no more time to waste. If these people have turned, then I fear what must’ve happened in the church. The giant church wall doors are open enough, so I can move through and when I make it past the walls, a giant-sized devil beast jumps from behind the walls and lands in front of me. It’s hairier and more covered in blood than the other beasts with three heads. The body and arms are massive though its legs are much thinner and longer. Its head and horns are unmistakably goat-like as the rest but a bit more demon-like. I start to engage head on it despite its intimating nature and uncanny screech. My scythe cuts through its arms and body, spraying its crimson blood all over the place but it doesn’t appear to injure the beast too heavily like Lawrence. To defend itself, it swipes at me with its arms and long nails and jumps around to avoid some of my attacks. Killing this beast by myself is going to be a worthy challenge. This battle makes me excited to fight, to slice, to spill blood…haha…damn it. I’ve got to stay focused! I use my pistol to hit the beasts head when it charges up for a huge attack to stun it for my final attacks. My scythe isn’t strong enough to slice through its legs, so I switch to the ax and cut off its legs. The beast still tries to fight despite massive blood loss, so I cut the beast from the bottom of the body up to the chest, which gets massive amounts of blood on me. It still lives and tries to fight back though its attacks are pathetic. The heart is exposed and, on the floor, and still attached to it so I rip it out and squash it with my hands. This finally kills the beast and makes it melt into a crimson flesh mess. Whew…that was exciting. Now then, back to Magdalene.

I walk up the church steps and go through its doors to find Magdalene with others who are helping her tend to the wounded. She sees me almost immediately and runs over to hug me.

“Ashton! God bless you, you’re alive! Are you hurt?”

“No, I’m fine Magdalene even though I’m drenched in blood. I just fought this huge beast that jumped over the church walls and other citizens that have turned.”

“That’s truly dreadful, but amazing at the same time that you survived it all. It shows that you’re-”

“Truly blessed right?”

“You know me so well. Please, rest up for a bit. I’ll clean your weapons and your clothes so we both can go out again and put an end to this night.”

“Haha. More work? Don’t let me rest for too long.”

“Hahaha. You’re right. A hunters’ duty ends when the night does, but you should really rest.”

“I will. I will.”

But seriously don’t let me rest for long. There’s more blood to be shed.

 

 

 

Chapter 3 – Painting the Town Red

After my weapons are spruced up a bit and my clothes are cleaned, I suit up to go back out. While getting dressed, I catch Magdalene peeking into the room I’m in. She quickly closes the door once she sees I noticed.

“Haha. Peeking at a man getting dressed Magdalene? I thought nuns were pure of heart.”

She enters the room and says, “I am. I uh I was just checking on you.”

“Sure you were. Is this the first time you’ve seen a man partially dressed?”

“No. I’ve seen plenty of men partially dressed. Naked even.”

“Want to elaborate?”

“Not at this moment. It’s something in the past I wish to keep there.”

“I understand. I won’t push any further.”

Magdalene continues to stare at me with some kind of lust in her eyes while I get dressed.

I ask her, “I’ve heard rumors that the source of this curse of beasts is the Blood of Christ. Is that true?”

The look on her face changes back to normal as she says, “No of course not! It’s true that the curse came to this city after we got the Holy Blood, but it is not confirmed as many people here have taken the blood since it first got here and they’re perfectly sane and healthy.”

“What about those people outside the church walls? They attacked me as if I were a beast. Also, what about those priests that you were with? The church must’ve had the most access to it and they probably used it the most.”

“I don’t how much blood the citizens that guarded the walls took though they were given a fair share of it as payment for their services. The priests here experimented along with the alchemists here, so I would ask them, but they aren’t here. They went out to search for you and have yet to return. I fear their fate since the three have yet to return as well.”

“We have to ask the alchemists then. Do you know where we can find them?”

“Yes, but I’m not too fond of them. They don’t believe in God as much as everyone else and try to disprove His existence.”

“They’re just trying to prove everything with material facts, so I wouldn’t pay any mind to them.”

“But God’s existence can’t be proved with material facts alone!”

“I know I know Magdalene, but we still need to visit them to help get rid of this curse. Can you please put your bias aside for the time being?”

“For you, of course, I will. You are-”

“Yes, sister I know what you say I am.”

“But-”

I put my finger on her mouth.

“I know. Let’s go now.”

She smiles and nods her head. We leave the church in the hands of fellow hunters and go to search for the alchemists who hopefully have information we can use. Along the way, we encounter several monsters and mad men. The entire town appears to be full of them with no normal man, woman, or even child in sight. Some of the beasts are miniature and fast. I pray in my head that these are just animals and not actual children.

“These streets are getting too dangerous,” I say, “Let’s take a different path.”

We run through several connected alleys and get ambushed by crows, dogs, and rodents that walk on two feet like men. Several of them appear to be combined together as if they are the product of a Frankenstein experiment.

Magdalene says, “This is the product of those alchemists’ work! I’ve seen these beasts in their labs before!”

“I’ll be sure to talk to them about it then. First, we have to survive and find them.”

My pistol takes care of these and the child-like beasts with one shot and my scythe cuts through them like butter. Our path is clear and yet, we constantly stop and take a different path. It’s like the beasts are making it seem like we can go where we want then they push us in a particular direction.

“Do you know where we’re going, Magdalene?”

“An altar in the center of the city where we celebrated our receiving of the healing blood.”

“Do you have any idea why we’re being pushed there?”

“I have no idea. I thought they would keep us from getting to a place like that.”

This can’t be a good sign. The beasts are unrelenting and there doesn’t seem to be an end to them nor the bloodshed nor the night. We arrive at the alter that the townsfolk have set up on top of many stairs. We are pushed to the very top and the beasts don’t attack us there.

A very demonic voice calls out from the darkness of the city, “Behold for the Anti-Christ shall be born from this whore!”

“What are you talking about?!” I scream back at it.

“Do you really believe this nun is truly virtuous? She greeted men of conflict and law enforcement with sex and pleasure. She is more of a pagan temple prostitute than a Christian nun, therefore it is her body, which is laced with demonic blood, that will birth the Anti-Christ.”

Magdalene holds her stomach and cries out in pain as her stomach inflates and gives birth to an abomination. I can hear the beasts and demons of hell howl and wail out as they shake their fists to the sky.

“Kill me, Ashton,” Magdalene says as she grabs my arm, “You cannot let this demon into this world!”

“I-I…”

“Do it!”

I switch my scythe to an ax, hold it up in the air over Magdalene’s stomach for a few seconds, close my eyes then bring down the ax on her and the monster. When I open my eyes, I can still see Magdalene twitching and movement in her body. This damned thing must be keeping her alive to be born.

“Die!” I repeatedly shout as I smash the unborn child into the ground.

Magdalene’s lower body is in pieces now along with what was supposed to be the Anti-Christ. The beasts of the night that surround us retreat from the altar in fear. I fall to my knees in exhaustion. Is this what God wanted me to do? Is my purpose in this world done? If so, then take me from this world…Nothing.

I pick myself up and look around to see that the city appears to be empty now. Oh, I see a light in a building not too far from here. Smoke appears to be coming out of the chimney so that’s probably where Bradford is. I go there with no resistance from any of the beasts. Whenever I think I hear or see one, it runs away from me. If nothing else, at least they’ll stop bothering me. That demonic voice said Magdalene had demonic blood laced with her own. That must mean my worst fears are confirmed. The man in a carriage who gave these people the “Blood of Christ” actually gave them the corrupted blood of demons. It probably was no man at all and was just Satan in the flesh. I should probably throw away this vial of blood Magdalene gave me, but I don’t know where to dispose of it. From what I’ve seen, the vermin of the city will just drink it up and become monsters so there has to be a good place to hide it or get rid of it completely. If I can do this, I’m sure my purpose here will be complete, but what about the town? The people in the church will probably scum to the beasts or the cursed blood so God might just deal with it like how He dealt with Sodom and Gomorrah.

Now I’m around where that building I saw is. Wait, what was-oh more new beasts. This one has eyes on its body, more than one face, and elongated arms and legs like some perverse version of a cherubim. It leaps from the roof and attacks me. It’s way nimbler than the other beasts and even dodges my pistol shoots and the slices from my scythe. A barrage of rifle shots from the darkness take it out and I turn to see Bradford and a couple other people who I assume to be his fellow hunters. He takes off his hood to reveal his flowing blond hair. Before I could see only a few features of his face and now I can see he has quite the ladies’ man look.

“Ashton,” he says, “I assume you took care of your friend?”

“Yes, I have.”

“I saw from a distance. You have my apologies for not being there with you.”

“It’s okay. It was my purpose for being here.”

“If it truly was, then let me help you get out of this twisted fate.”

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter 4 – Seeing Clearly with New Eyes

We go to Bradford’s place and it is a place of alchemy and natural philosophy or science as some people say. People here are experimenting with weapons, the blood from the beasts, and the dead bodies of the beasts themselves.

“What Magdalene said was true then. You are responsible for some of the beasts outside,” I say to Bradford and his colleagues.

“We were just experimenting with the blood that the church gave us. Of course, there’s going to be failures when we’re dealing with the unknown,” Bradford explains, “We aren’t even close to knowing even half of what this blood is capable of and the church just decided to use it just because it could cure any disease or injury. This is how we got into the situation we are in today. We’re going to get out of this accursed city then experiment with the blood until we can use it for good.”

“Experiment with the blood? Didn’t you hear the demonic voice say that this blood is the blood of demons?”

“I didn’t hear that, and I don’t believe it. If it is the blood of a demon, then we can possibly purify it so that it is the blood of an angel. Maybe then it can be used without worry.”

“These are all just unproven theories in your head. Enough death and destruction have taken place because of it so let’s just get rid of the blood you have, burn the beasts, and let’s leave this place!”

“He’s right, Bradford,” one of his colleagues say, “We’ve been researching this blood for months now and we’ve learned nothing new.”

“This blood has killed our families and friends and destroyed all of our lives,” another chimes in, “We should destroy it and leave this God-forsaken place!”

Several other of Bradford’s colleagues agree with me and voice their disdain for experimenting with this blood.

“Enough!” Bradford says, “We will do as Ashton and you say and leave this city as soon as we destroy this blood, which of course you know is easier said than done, but I know of a quick way to do so. It came up in my research-”

“And you didn’t tell us?”

“No, because I never thought I would have to. There are three parts of a celestial body that has elements in it that will get rid of this blood to the last drop. The only difficulty is that the places were quarantined off by the city and guarded by royal guards who have had the blood since it came to us so they’re going to be extremely dangerous.”

“I will go with you then,” I instantly volunteer.

“I figured you would. Since we are low on fighting power, the last of you will stay here, hold down the fort, and try to get rid of this poisonous blood as soon as possible. Agreed?”

“Agreed,” we all say.

“Good. Let’s get to work gentlemen.”

Bradford grabs a bag to carry the parts of the celestial body, ammo for our guns, and a marked map that shows the location of the bodies parts. We head off to the closest location and encounter more of those many-eyed beasts. To avoid difficult fights, we cautiously move and use the pitch-black shadows to our advantage.

Along the way, I whisper to Bradford, “Where did these beasts come from? Don’t tell me this was your fault as well.”

“In a way it is. Some of the researchers and priests who had excessive amounts of exposure to the blood became beasts like the ones you see. I didn’t stop or warn them of the possible negative effects because I wanted to see what would happen,” he responds.

“Curiosity kills the cat you know!”

“Curiosity is also what evolves humanity, so we can advance as a species.”

“That doesn’t mean you should let your fellow man suffer to help everyone else.”

“What’s the suffering of a few people compared to the joy of the millions?”

“You can’t value the suffering of people like that!”

“Save your arguing for the ethics committee. We’re here.”

We break through a wooden door then go down a long set of stairs to find a small room with an iron door. The door has the sentence, “Obtain the eyes of an angel to your left or walk in the void”.

“Yeah right,” Bradford says before opening the door that leads to complete darkness.

He tries to use a nearby wall lamp to light the darkness, but it doesn’t make anything visible in the room. I look to the left to see a place where I’m supposed to look into. The inscription below it says, “Only the faithful will survive obtaining the eyes of an angel”.

“Ashton. You’re one of the faithful, aren’t you?” Bradford says.

“Yes, so I assume I have to do this. Hopefully, it won’t be painful,” I say as I look into the eyeholes-, “AAAAAHHH!”

“Ashton! Are you okay?!”

“No, I’m not! That piece of shit just plucked out my eyes and stabbed me in the eye sockets!”

I can hear Bradford tearing a piece of cloth off his clothes. I’m covering my eye holes since they’re bleeding and in enormous pain.

“Never thought I’d hear a believer like you curse.”

“Just shut up and give me a bandage! Do you have any medicine on you?”

“I regretfully don’t, but here’s this for now. Move your hands.”

He puts something around my head.

“Is this some kind of joke Bradford? You didn’t put anything on my head. I’m lucky that thing didn’t take away my sight and I’m no longer in pain.”

“What are you talking about? I put a piece of my cloak on your head.”

“No, you didn’t. Even if you did, I can see right through it.”

“How many fingers am I holding up?”

“You aren’t holding up any fingers.”

“What about now?”

“Nine.”

“Do you still have your eyes after what happened? Oh crap, no you don’t! How can you see without your eyes?!”

“I don’t have any eyes?! You must be joking because I can see clearly!”

“I’m not joking! Put this bandage back on for now because I don’t want to look at two empty eye holes.”

I put it on and for some reason, I can see right through it.

“Ashton, try looking into the room now.”

Looking into the room, I can see everything in it as if the room was never dark to begin with.

“I can see everything in it now.”

“Wow, miraculous.”

“I guess this turned you into a believer, didn’t it?”

“In a way.”

“Here, I’ll guide you.”

I take Bradford’s hand and walk him through the room, which is normal for the most part though Bradford does manage to still fall over and bump into things.

“You’re a klutz,” I tell him.

“I’m as blind as bat in this room!”

“You’re saying that to the man who literally doesn’t have any eyes.”

“Shut up!”

We make it through the room and come to a cavern.

“I can see now Ashton.”

“Good. I don’t want to hold your hand any longer.”

We explore the linear cavern until we come to an altar room with three people surrounding a body part. One person has a katana, the other has a claymore, and the last has a pike. Once they look at us, we see that they have snakes as their body.

“There’s no end to many types of beasts,” I say.

“I will not be defeated by mere serpents,” Bradford adds.

These creatures move like the many-eyed beasts, but my eyes adjust to their movement, so I can slice at them no matter where they move. I manage to take down two of them while Bradford is still struggling to land a single hit on the one he takes on. Feeling charitable, I slice his enemy in half for him.

“I had that thing on the ropes,” he says.

“I can tell.”

We take the lower half of the celestial body and leave the lower area of the city. The many-eyed beasts ambush us, but they are no challenge to me with my new eyes or rather lack thereof. I can see every small movement they make. My side vision even picks up on their sneak attacks.

After the battle, Bradford asks me, “I guess we don’t need to go back to my workshop for medication, do we?”

“Does it look like it?”

Now that I’m really looking at Bradford, he appears to have a strange red aura about him, which makes sense because of the man’s character. We continue on nevertheless as I keep a close eye on him.

 

 

 

 

Chapter 5 – Without Form

We have to go through the residential area to find this next celestial body part. Along the way, we’re attacked by every form of beast that I’ve previously met.  They don’t pose a challenge to me now because of my enhanced vision. Now I can effectively wield my weapon as it was meant to be. A blade that cuts through flesh as if it was the air. It seems that we’ve killed most of the beasts in the city and now…all appears to be quiet, so Bradford and I just peacefully stroll under the blood moonlit night. Peacefully strolling while covered in the blood of beasts, but peacefully strolling nonetheless.

“How did you learn about the celestial body and how is it the cure for the demonic blood?” I ask Bradford to fill my curiosity.

“Legends and myths about fantastical events that happened in history,” he answers.

“You mean events like miracles and the resurrection?”

“Of course. After what happened to you, I’m starting to believe in the supernatural.”

“Only after what happened to me? What did those legends exactly tell you that makes you think the celestial bodies have the cure?”

“The elements within it, the nature of anything good purifying evil, and the various other things I had written down. I can’t remember everything exactly, but it should work.”

“You’re asking me to take a leap of faith with you?”

“Yes, but not in the way the church asks you. I have several foundational ideas that make my idea a step over a gap and not a leap of faith.”

“Did you know that faith is based on several foundational ideas and not just blind jumping?”

“In a way, I guess I do see it now, but not fully.”

“Think about this then. You have to have faith that nature continues to act in a consistent nature in order to do your tests and experiments. You have to have faith that the people you love won’t turn on you in an instant. You can trust them as much as you want, but you’ll never know what they’re truly thinking all the time. They could be just acting like they love you and betray you later.”

“I see your point. But what about the unseen?”

“Mathematics is unseen, and you use it. Morality is not written down in stone but is written on the hearts of men in their souls. They are a set of rules that everyone follows and yet, no one can empirically prove what is good and what is evil or even change what they are.”

“I didn’t know that you were such a philosopher.”

“Oh, I’m not. I’m just repeating what I learned from my priests and other teachers.”

“You’ve definitely peaked my interest. After this, we should talk about it more. We’re here.”

We’ve arrived at an orphanage, school, church hybrid.

“The celestial body part is here?” I ask Bradford.

“That’s right. It looks fairly innocent, so why would you expect them to keep anything secret here?”

“That’s clever.”

“It put children in danger.”

“I’m sure they had the best guards like the ones we faced guarding it.”

“I hope so.”

Bradford and I enter the orphanage and there doesn’t appear to be any signs of struggle or bloodshed here. There’s barely a speck of dust on the desks and chairs in this place as if someone is still living here.

“Someone might be here,” I warn Bradford.

“I’ll be on my guard then, but who would keep this place up with everything that’s happening outside?”

“Let’s find out.”

We wander through the halls with our weapons out and ready. An eerie silence fills the halls along the stench of the blood on us. Looking through each room that looks like we could find something, we find nothing but neat and clean classrooms, orphan rooms, and offices. The papers in the offices don’t mention anything that we’re looking for and only talk about the behavior of the children they took care of. The sound of movement in the halls get our attention.

“…Is anyone there?” I say with hesitation.

Silence responds to me, so I motion Bradford to follow me and he nods. We creep around the corner to find an empty room, that is until we see a cloaked figure walking through the halls. It appears to be wearing a nun’s outfits, but it has a tattered appearance to it. A book that appears to be a Bible is in her hands, but her hands are shaking.

“Excuse me, sister,” Bradford says to the nun.

I pull him back.

“What is it, Ashton?”

“Take a closer look at her.”

“I don’t notice anything. Are those new eyes of yours showing you something I don’t see?”

“She doesn’t have an aura. The beasts don’t have auras either.”

The nun turns to us and reveals a hollow dress. It then transforms so that multiple nuns come out of the dress with swords in their hands. Its form expands and starts to take up the entire hallway. Bradford and I run to the roof and it breaks its way through the roof to confront us. At least we have space to fight it now. We attack in a pincer way so that all of its attacks aren’t concentrated on us. The way its arms swing is almost on par with my scythe. I shoot at the beast, but my shots just go through the cloak as if spirits are controlling it. The beast hums a lullaby as it fights, which starts to take its toll on us for some reason. To try to end the fight faster by focusing on slicing off the multiple arms and this stops the humming after each extra nun dress is cut off.

Bradford appears to be making progress as well, but he concentrates more on not getting sliced to pieces. Now that most of the dress is sliced to pieces, we cut into the center, which completely stops the humming. With that out of the way, we’re fully awake and slice through the center multiple times finished off by one strong attack by the both of us. The beast then explodes into pieces and black fabric starts to rain from the sky.

“That will hopefully be the last nun I have to deal with,” Bradford says while being exhausted.

“I don’t blame you,” I respond, “Now let’s find-oh…is this it?”

A radiant looking torso is on the ground and appears to have come from the nun’s dress because of the fabric attached to it.

“It is! We only have one more body piece to find!”

“Whose celestial body do the legends say this belonged to?”

“Adam, the first man.”

“Why are you sure that his body will be the cure?”

“Because the legends say so. You trust me, don’t you? Have a little faith.”

“Since when did you become a believer?”

“Everything that I’ve seen made me one. Do you trust me?”

“Nothing that you’ve done has given me a reason not to.”

“Good man Ashton. We’ll get through this, go to a bar, and everything will be on me.”

I hope that Bradford is telling the truth. If he does end up doing something crafty, I’ll have to start planning now.

 

 

Chapter 6 – The Sum of All Suffering

Again, Bradford and I walk the streets of the city to get to our next location. It appears that we’ve killed every beast in the city since we’ve been walking for a while without even hearing the wind blow. My new eyes don’t pick up on anything either so we appear to be in the clear.

“Tell me, Ashton, how is God present in our lives right now?”

“He sent me here. How else do you explain me getting over the bridge and obtaining this weapon?”

“You just arrived from outside the city?”

“I did. I don’t think I mentioned that to you yet. A carriage driver, who I assume to be God now, told me about this place and took me here. His carriage turned to porcelain after he dropped me off here.”

“That’s interesting, but how is God helping us right now? What makes you think that he cares about what’s going on?”

“He sent me here with this weapon and without me being here, the Anti-Christ would’ve been born, and you wouldn’t be able to get these pieces of the body of Adam.”

“And yet he couldn’t have just changed everything in an instant?”

“He could’ve, but then he wouldn’t be dealing justice on the church for being so blind in their faith and on your alchemists and you for doing all of your unethical experiments.”

“But we were doing them to help humanity.”

“The means don’t justify the ends. You’re not doing anything for the benefit of anyone if you try to justify evil acts done for the greater good. You might as well justify the killing of the poor and homeless to get rid of poverty.”

“…I guess you’re right. I might have to rethink some of my plans.”

“What plans? What are you thinking about?”

“Nothing that you should concern yourself with now. You’ve changed me, I’ll admit that. I promise I won’t do anything that might cause anyone any more suffering. Believe me.”

“For now, I will. Just know that I’ll have to watch what you’re going to do to make sure you’re doing the right thing.”

“Don’t worry, I’m sure you’ll approve of what I have in mind.”

I hope so.

“Tell me, Ashton. What makes you so special that God decided to choose you?”

“I’m nothing special honestly. I have a little training in weapons, study philosophy and natural philosophy in my spare time, and work as a farm attendant to make money for my family.”

“Such a humble upbringing for such a big responsibility.”

“God usually does do that. Jesus was born in a manger and worked as a carpenter and yet, He’s the most important person in human history.”

“Then someone like me can be important as well. I came from a poor family with my dad working as a cleaner and my mother even working as a housemaid for our neighbors. I got interested in natural philosophy in my teenage years, went and graduated college, and moved here to further human knowledge of the known world. Maybe God has a purpose for me since I’m still alive.”

“I’m sure He does. He has a plan for everyone.”

“Indeed.”

He’s really smiling right now as if a ray of sunshine is shining in his heart. I hope this is a good sign of the change of his worldview.

We’ve arrived at the place where the final piece of Adam is and I’m back at the church Magdalene is from. There doesn’t appear to be anyone here, so it seems like the last people here died or changed. As we approach the large building, the church bells in the city ring in unison. The blood and bodies from the city start to gravitate towards the top of the church and mesh together into one atrocity that’s a mess of dead and decayed bodies with one creature at the top that appears to be controlling the rest. It crushes the entire church when it full forms and lets out a yell that sounds like all of hell is howling.

“It wouldn’t be worth it if it wasn’t insanely difficult to get,” I say.”

“What the bloody hell are we going to do?!” Bradford frantically says as we try to fight the many creatures on the atrocity.

“Cutting, smashing, and shooting always worked for us.”

“I don’t think it’s going to work this time.”

“Probably.”

I see holy water and several rosaries that have come from the destroyed church. I run towards them and pour holy water on my weapons and wrap them in rosaries. Maybe a prayer or two will make this plan of mine work.

“I don’t think Hail Marys and Our Fathers will help us much in this situation Ashton!” Bradford says as he fends off the many creatures who are getting the most of him.

“Will you let go and give me control?” an echoing voice says.

“I do my lord,” I respond.

I switch my scythe to an ax. Ready myself then run towards the beast and hold it as high as I can before bringing it down with every bit of strength that’s coursing through my veins. The blade slices higher than I expected and cuts the atrocity in half, which makes it rain blood on the entire city.

Bradford stares at me in amazement then says, “That blade was reaching the skies. God really was on your side.”

“I’ve been told that I’m blessed. I didn’t know I was this blessed.”

“You truly are a gift sent by God, Ashton.”

“Thank you for the compliment, but we must get the last piece of Adam before anything other crazy events happen.”

“Oh! Of course.”

Shifting through the wreckage of the church and the atrocity, Bradford finds the head of Adam.

“This is it, Ashton! We’ve done it! Come now, we should get back to my lab as fast as possible.”

Is this going to be the end? It feels like it and I hope it is. Despite my importance in what happened here, I won’t lie when I say that I miss my normal life. I hope Bradford knows what he’s doing.

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter 7 – Unnatural

Our little group of people start a celebration at a bar across the street from the alchemist’s workplace as Bradford puts the pieces of Adam together. The blood moon appears to be setting and morning appears to be slowly but surely approaching. I’m not a big fan of alcohol so I let everyone else enjoy themselves in the bar.

“Hey, Ashton! We’ve found this bottle of rare Italian wine in the basement of the bar. We think that Bradford and you should have it,” one of the alchemists say.

“Thank you.”

“You should give some to Bradford right now. Maybe it’ll help him move faster.”

“Haha, right.”

Entering the alchemist’s workplace, I say, “Hey Bradford, the boys are giving us this rare bottle of Italian wine. Want to share it?  I’m not a drinking man so you can have most of it…Bradford? Are you too caught up in your work to be bothered? Respond to me in some way man.”

I wait for a response then go to where Bradford is supposed to be working. Once I open the door, I see what was keeping Bradford so occupied. He’s fused himself with the body of Adam and the demonic blood. He’s completely naked and his muscles are huge.

“Bradford! What the hell are you doing?!” I say as I take out my weapons.

“I am making the most out of creation,” Bradford says in an echoing voice, “With my body, people will be able to make a cure for any disease and fix any injury. Isn’t it glorious Ashton?”

“Bradford, you’re turning yourself into-”

“A beacon of hope, of healing, and of inspiration.”

“A monster!”

“…You must be mistaken. I’m still alive and stronger now than I ever was before. I know what is good and what is evil in the world. Who knows what is truly good and evil and does evil anyway?”

“The devil.”

“Then you must be the Archangel Michael. If I am truly at fault, then strike me down with your weapon that you got from God Himself!”

I run at him and the blade actually starts to cut through his skin.

“Impossible!” he says as he moves away, “That blade must cut through anything! It can’t cut through anything good and pure!”

“I think you’re mistaken.”

“Prove it then. Give me your blade. I’ll cut you, but I won’t kill you.”

“You expect me to trust you after what you’ve done?”

“I think I’m doing the right thing. Give me a chance or rather, have faith in God.”

What a time to test my faith. My intelligence in my head must’ve left me because I give Bradford my scythe. He uses it to cut me, but the blade just bounces off me while causing no pain.

“What?!” he says in disbelief.

Bradford then switches to the ax and that too bounces off me and I don’t feel a thing. I try to take the scythe back, but Bradford just pushes me through the door and out of the workplace. Bradford’s colleagues come to see what’s happening, but they are swiftly cut down by Bradford.

“This is a battle between Ashford and me!”

“What’s wrong with you Bradford?! You aren’t going to help anyone like this!”

“That’s where you’re wrong. This body holds the cure for every disease and injury.”

“Are you sure of that? You haven’t even tested that yet.”

“I believe in the legends. If they got me this far, they must be true.”

“You believe in a blind faith based on nothing but wishful thinking.”

“Shut your mouth!”

Bradford breaks my scythe into pieces but not without hurting himself. The bastard!

“Your weapon from God is broken and you have nothing left. Your pistol won’t help you kill me since your scythe was your most powerful weapon.”

What am I gonna do? I can try to run away, but he’ll eventually kill me.

“You’ve always been an instrument of God,” a voice in my head says.

“Of course,” I say aloud.

“What is it, Ashton? Have you come to the same conclusion I have?”

“No. I’ve always been the instrument of God’s will here. The weapon was just my aid.”

“You’re a fool.”

Bradford rushes at me as I feel a surge of power rushing through my body. I block his punches then give him one in the face that sends him crashing into a wall.

“Wha-What?!”

“This is the end of the nightmare here. And it ends with your death. I’m sorry Bradford.”

He yells at me as he sends a barrage of kicks and punches at me. None of which are very painful. Once he starts to tire, I grab his arms break them with a single twist.  I then break his legs by stomping on his knees. Each break makes him scream out like a beast in pain. As I stand over him, he looks at me with a sudden change in his face.

He says to me, “How long would it take for God to forgive me?”

“Quicker than an instant, my friend. If you’re honest.”

“…Thank you.”

With one single punch, I smash his face into the ground. The sun starts to rise, and the city starts to sink and simmer from the sun’s rays. I run for the exit and make it over the bridge, which is suddenly fully repaired. I’m fast enough to make it back to land to see the City of Sanguine sink into the abyss below the sea and watch the sea cover over where the island city once was. The bridge I crossed and even the island also collapses into the abyss to ensure that everything disappears. I take off the cloth on my heads as my vision blurs and look into the sea to see that I have my eyes again.

No one on earth, besides me, will know what happened here, but fame here doesn’t matter to me since it will eventually fade away. I’m sure God will reward me a different way later in my life. I hear a carriage coming from behind me and I turn around to see one.

The carriage driver says to me, “Are you, Ashton?”

“Yes, I am sir.”

“A wealthy man paid me to come pick you up here and drive you back home. He also told me to give you this large sum of money along with a new Bible. You must have friends in high places, don’t you?”

I smile and say, “I do. And I’m thankful every moment of my life for them.”

I’ll be telling my relatives stories about what happened here. Sure, they’ll never know that the story is nonfiction, but I hope they learn the lessons taken from it. I feel like I can do almost anything now. There’s this beautiful lady I know back home. We usually exchange small talk and smiles every day. I know she’s single so I’m going to take my chances with her. Being a father sounds like a great idea as well. Maybe I’ll even go to college and become a teacher. The possibilities are endless for me. They’ve always been.

 

The End

The Rat with Red and Blue Eyes

Link to the book’s page to download this story for free – https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/812206

 

Adventure 1 – Living in a Tough World

There’s a small town that not many go to, but many people make legends of this place. The town’s name is Inanis. Legendary people are said to come from here along with the origins of certain urban legends and folklore. Ricky is the only rat in the world with red and blue eyes and he and his family and friends live in the city as it goes through rough times. Few know why Ricky has red and blue eyes, but it appears he has a connection to The Caretaker or The Light that no other being in this town has.

He’s been playing with his friends on the outskirts of town. They’ve been playing tag and hide and go seek with each other until several human pass through the area they’re playing in. They hide in the trees as they pass.

His friend Jasper says, “These humans are a nuisance.”

Jasper’s brother, Jett says, “We should find a way to be rid of them. They seem to get sick when we’re around them, so let’s run around their houses and touch everything that’s theirs.”

“We shouldn’t bother them,” Ricky says, “They’re just trying to survive and live a good life like us.”

“You’re right Ricky, but it doesn’t mean we shouldn’t make them know that they’re bothering us.”

“How could they understand us?” Becky says, “They can’t even understand our words.”

“They’re such illiterates.”

“Never mind them for now. Let’s just get back to playing.”

“Wait, did you hear that?” Ricky says as a noise catches his ears.

A noise that sounds like a horse running through the forest. Ricky sees a dark shadow in the distance with yellow eyes. As it comes closer he sees that it’s the Rat of Decay, a legendary rat that comes to towns that are filled with filth and lack good people. It spreads the plague and is known to be weak to fire.

“We have to stop it! It’s the Rat of Decay!” Ricky says as he climbs down from the tree to get rocks and other things to light sticks on fire.

“Why should we? If that rat gets rid of the humans here, then we can own this town.”

“Then who would feed us? If the humans go, then our source of food goes too. It’s not like you can farm like they can. Give me a hand here Becky.”

“Already with you.”

The pack of rats use the sticks of fire as weapons and stick them in the Rat of Decay. Some hit the monster while others are swiped away, which catches the forest on fire. With one last fire stick, Ricky runs towards the rat and sticks in the monster to burn it to ashes. Though the monster burns to nothing, it can and will reappear if the circumstances are right. The fires in the forest attract the attention of the people in the town who rush to put it out. Ricky and his friends scurry away as the forest comes down around them. A branch lands on Becky and Ricky stops in his track to save her.

“Don’t worry about me Ricky and save yourself!” Becky says as she tries to push him away.

“No! I’m not letting you die this way. We still have to get married and have children later!”

“If that’s what you want, then you should ask the other girls! They’d love to be with someone like you!”

“You’re wrong Becky. You’re the only one for me!”

The branch is slightly lifted up by an unseen force and Ricky carries Becky out of the burning branch and out of the forest.

“That was amazing Ricky!”

“That was more like a miracle.”

“The Caretaker does look after you more than any other rat I know.”

“I think the best thing he gave me was you.”

“Can you get us to safety before you start smooth talking me?”

Once the group of friends get home, they explain the situation to their elders. They’re happy that Ricky chose the right decision and throw a small party for him. Ricky is usually celebrated for his deeds of bravery. It’s what got him his red and blue eyes in the first place. He recounts the tale of how he got it to his pack of rats.

“It was a grey and awful day. I was starving to find food for us when I noticed a baby in the mud near a crashed carriage and it appeared that the parents perished in the accident. I ignored the baby at first, but I found a blanket and toy in the carriage and give them to it. After a few moments, it calmed down in time for a pack of human bandits to find us. It appeared that they were the reason the carriage crashed and why the baby was orphaned. I had the opportunity to run away, but I didn’t because I knew I had to do the right thing even if I died. As I attacked one of them head on, they stabbed their pointy sword through my eye and my entire body. That’s when the Caretaker hit me with a bolt of lightning and saved my life. He blinded the bandits both literally and figuratively because even they could sense his presence. The baby crawled over to me, pet me on the head, then ascended into the heavens. That is the story as to how I got these eyes and abilities.”

Everyone claps for him and cheers for Ricky. Ricky is a rat that goes on adventures in dangerous places to help people and his pack of rats. This is only the first of many that will happen in the town of Inanis. An empty, dirty, and depraved town that’s a perfect place for vermin of all kinds. A place of legends and of nightmares.

 

Adventure 2 – Both Beauty and Beast

A woman is known to wonder the world asking people if they think she’s pretty. She wears a mask around her mouth, but she has pretty black hair, shining brown eyes, and a decent dress. No matter what you answered, she would take the mask off from her mouth to reveal her shark-like teeth then ask you again if you thought she was pretty. If you said yes with a convincing tone of voice and expression, then she would leave you alone. If you couldn’t do this or said no, she would take your face off your head without ripping it off and you would suffocate to death because you couldn’t breathe. If you were female, she would take your appearance and your body would look like her previous victim. The woman was originally a princess who was rejected by every single prince in the land, so she sold her soul to The Inverted Light and goes around stealing other people’s beauty and getting rid of those who don’t like how she looks. Her real name is lost to time, so people call her the Princess of Many Faces.

Rumors have been circulating of this woman being in Inanis and Ricky is on the lookout for her even though she isn’t known to harm animals of any kind. His friend Jasper joins him.

As Jasper eats some grapes they found, he says, “Do you really think you can get rid that freaky princess, Ricky?”

“I’ll try to get rid of her from this town at least.”

“What’s your plan?”

“I’m still thinking of that.”

“Great.”

“Wait. I see a woman who could be her.”

“You do?”

Ricky points to a woman walking the streets.

“I’m going to go after her.”

“What if he’s just a woman wear a mask because she doesn’t like the smell of the town? Maybe we should wait until she does something?”

“We have to take a chance before she takes another life.”

Without a second thought, Ricky rushes down to the woman, runs up her body, then removes her mask. She isn’t the princess he seeks. The woman smacks Ricky off her face and runs away.

Jasper rejoins him and tells him that, “You aren’t going to find that woman like this.”

“Then what do you suggest we do?”

“Keep an ear out for a woman asking if they think she’s pretty. You know it takes longer than a few seconds for that beast to attack.”

“But that could happen anywhere in the town! We could be late…”

“Huh. Do you hear that?”

“Oh no.”

Jasper and Ricky run around the corner to find the woman who Ricky demasked now faceless and suffocating. Ricky tries to cut out a hole in her face to help her breath, but all he does is scrape her face.

A voice above him hands him a cloth then tells him, “Put this cloth over her face.”

Ricky takes the cloth and puts it over the woman’s face. After a few seconds, she gets up with her face back to how it used to be. She gasps for air then looks around for her savior. For some reason, she realizes it’s Ricky, so she picks him and thanks him.

“Thank you so much for saving me! I had no idea that a rat like you would save me,” she says.

“You’re welcome,” Ricky responds.

“What?! I can understand you!”

“You can? Well if that’s the case, can you tell me where that woman who stole your face went?”

“I don’t know, I’m sorry. Once she took my face, my vision went completely black.”

“Oh, well I’m sorry you had to go through that.  I’m going to catch her and drive her out of town.”

“Let me help you.”

“Thank you. What’s your name?”

“Pepper.”

“Thank you, Pepper. You’re saving lives by helping us.”

“No, thank you. If you hadn’t been here, I would’ve died. I’ll carry this cloth with me as a good luck charm.”

Both Jasper and Ricky travel on Pepper’s shoulders while looking around for the woman with Pepper’s face.

“You’re lucky you have the Caretaker on your side Pepper,” Ricky says.

“Who’s that?”

“You don’t know who the Caretaker is? The Light?” says Jasper.

“Oh, I know who you’re talking about now. You’re a special rat, aren’t you Ricky? Are there more like you?”

“None that I know of.”

“It’s a shame that a rat has to do what a more capable human should. No offense.”

“Hey, you would’ve been dead in the streets if it weren’t for Ricky.”

“It’s okay Jasper. No offense taken Pepper.”

“Why aren’t there more people out today?”

“What? You aren’t from these parts?”

“No, I’m a traveler who wanted to see this town to see if I can find an urban legend.”

“A lot of humans get into trouble when they come here for that reason.”

“Yeah, you should leave town for your own safety.”

“I will once I help you two out.”

Pepper and the two rats travel through the town until the find someone who looks like she has Pepper’s face. She’s turned around, but Ricky urges Pepper to check her out anyway, but once she turns around, the woman is revealed to not look like Pepper. It’s only their hairstyles that are similar.

“I’m sorry miss.”

“Uh, it’s-Oh! You have rats on your shoulders!”

“It’s fine. They’re harmless and friendly.”

Ricky smiles and friendly waves to the woman.

“Uh…hi there.”

“Be on the lookout for a woman with a mask on her mouth. She’ll steal your face.”

“I heard of that legend roaming the streets. Thank you for the warning. I’ll be heading home now.”

“Be safe!”

After patrolling the town for a bit longer, Pepper sees the princess they’re looking for as the turn a corner.

Pepper quickly steps back and hides then says, “That’s her! What should we do?”

“We’ll use the cloth that gave you back your face,” Ricky says, “If it can give you back your face, it should give the princess back her original face.”

Jasper asks, “And that will get rid of her how exactly?”

“I don’t know, but it should do something.”

“I’ll try to help…in some way. She already has my face, so I don’t think she can do anything else to me,” Pepper says.

“Alright. We should move before she gets away. Come on!”

Ricky and Jasper sprint towards the princess. She knows their intentions because of the Inverted Light and she takes off her the faces she’s obtained and throws them at them. Each one of them screams and home in on Ricky or Jasper with their mouths wide open. Pepper grabs a nearby sharp two-by-four piece of wood and protects her rat friends with it.

“You took my face you witch! You aren’t going to harm anyone ever again!”

Pepper then breaks her weapon over the head of the princess, which allows Ricky and Jasper to put the cloth over the princess’s face. The princess tries to get it off, but Ricky and Jasper keep it on her face until she stops struggling. Once they take off the cloth, her face goes back to the one she originally had. Her face along with her body turn to dust soon after.

“Thank you for helping us Pepper,” Ricky says, “We wouldn’t have been able to do this without you.”

“No, thank you. This was a great adventure for me despite almost dying.”

“I guess this is goodbye. I hope I’ll see you later.”

“Me too, but first, tell me if you know this. Do rats and other animals go to Heaven?”

“We have souls like humans, so we do in a way.”

“Ok then. I hope to see you again!”

“Me too! See Jasper? Some humans aren’t so bad.”

“I guess not.”

 

Adventure 3 – Don’t Talk to Strangers

No matter where you are, there are legends of spirit hitchhikers. Some legends end in death while others end in the disappearance of people. There are many stories that surround certain ghosts. Some spirits search for revenge, some are demons masquerading as weak people, and others are looking for closure. Because there are rumors of dangerous spirits, Ricky and his friend, Jett, are going to get rid of these spirits with a book of exorcist prayers and commands.

While searching for spirits, Jett asks Ricky, “Do you think we might find any animal spirits? What about rat spirits?”

“We already encountered the Rat of Decay two days ago, so it wouldn’t surprise me?”

“When are you going to marry Becky?”

“What kind of question is that?”

“A normal one.”

“I’ll marry her when I get a little older. We’re still young rats.”

“Can you tell me what Jasper and you did yesterday? He didn’t tell me much.”

“We got rid of the Princess of Many Faces and saved a human named Pepper yesterday.”

“That’s probably why he didn’t say much. I don’t blame him. Was she a pretty human woman?”

“I guess so.  Why is that even a concern for you?”

“I could’ve told Becky what you said.”

“I’d toss you in the trash.”

“Really? I thought you were supposed to be merciful.”

“You’re a rat. It shouldn’t bother you.”

“Why did you even bring me along?”

“If seeing a human in a positive light can change your brother, it can probably change you.”

A spirit appears before the two rats along the road and asks them, “Can either of you lead me home?”

“I can,” Ricky says before saying a prayer that sends the spirit to where they’re supposed to go.

“You know your plan isn’t going to work if we can’t find a spirit who’s gonna-”

Jett is interrupted by the sounds of a carriage and horse going out of control in the forest. The two rush to find a horse being pulled into a small well with a crashed carriage. A pastor is patching up what appears to be a prisoner who suffered injuries from the crash. The bones of the horse fly out after it somehow fit into the small well and half a person comes crawling out of it. Both Ricky and the pastor chant exorcist prayers, which makes the spirit burn to ashes, which disappear into the air.

The pastor looks down at Ricky and says, “Never in my years did I think I would see an exorcist rat.”

“I never thought I’d see a horse fit into a well like that.”

“And you can talk too. What is your name, my little friend?”

“Ricky. What is yours father?”

“My name is Father Urien. What are you and your friend doing here at this time of day?”

“I’m trying to protect the people of Inanis and teach my friend how good humans can be.”

“That is very interesting. You have to be a miracle from Heaven above. I’m here to take this man to a convent here in town. He’s trying to repent for all the things he’s done in life.”

“He looks like a prisoner,” Jett says.

“This man escaped from prison months ago.”

“Shouldn’t you turn him into the authorities for punishment for his crimes?”

“He’s already been punished by the One whose name is above all others and now he wants to make up for his mistakes. The Royals do not have power over Him.”

“That’s true. I thought humans made the royals to have power over Him, but I see that there’s some don’t see it that way,” Jett says as his respect for the humans grows.

“Thank you for opening your eyes to that. Can you help me get my friend over to the convent? I’ll be sure to reward you.”

“Of course,” Ricky says.

Father Urien helps the criminal walk as Ricky and Jett travel alongside them. Since rats have a better sense of spirits than humans do, the two lead them in a direction that allows them to avoid any hostile spirits.

“Tell me human,” Jett says to the criminal, “What did you do to be sent to jail?”

“My name is Ziv and my deeds are too horrifying to speak of. Let’s just say I have more bodies than a cemetery and stole more than a tax collector. After escaping prison, I thought I could just relax until I died, but visions and demons kept clawing at my soul until I couldn’t take it anymore. I met Father Urien after that and this is how I got to where I am now.”

“And now you think you can be saved after all you’ve done?”

Father Urien says, “It’s how grace works. I too was in a similar situation to this man’s and obtained redemption.”

“If you say so.”

They make it to the edge of Inanis, but a small group of spirits and demons prevents them from leaving the forest.

“We’re going to clear a path for Ziv then we’ll take care of these dark spirits,” Father Urien says to Ricky.

“Right.”

“What are you talking about father? I won’t just leave you,” Ziv says.

“You’ll have to. They sense the darkness within your soul and they’ll use it against us all, so you have to escape.”

“You should go too, Jett. It’s not safe for you here.”

“Tch. If you say so,” both Jett and Ziv seem to say at the same time.

Father Urien takes out a dagger and sword from his robe. Both have marks of the Caretaker on them and seem to shine in an unusual way despite the lack of sunlight in the sky.

“I used to be a knight in the royal army, so I’m no stranger to combat. Let’s go.”

Ricky and Father Urien clear a path for both of their friends with their prayers and strength until their friends are able to safely leave the forest.

“Are you okay father?” Ricky asks as he notices the scratches on Father Urien’s body and face.

“Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I shall fear no evil. For thou art with me.”

“Father!” Ziv screams as he runs back with Jett on his shoulders.

“What are you doing Ziv?!”

The spirits fly over Ricky and Father Urien and encircle Ziv and Jett. They whisper in his ears to go back to his violent ways and get rid of Father Urien.

“Don’t listen to them, Ziv! Do what I told you!” Jett says.

“I’m not sure if it’ll work now!”

“You have to have a little faith!”

“I…I will! Begone spirits! My soul doesn’t belong to you!”

A light emanates from Ziv’s body which dispels the spirits around him. Both Ricky and Father Urien ask their friends if they’re okay.

Ziv and Jett smile at each other before looking at their friends and telling them that, “We’re better than okay.”

“Ziv, I can see that your soul is ready to accept redemption.”

“Thank you, father, but I’m sure I still have much to do.”

“Of course. This process of living a good and honest life is never easy or simple.”

“But I’m sure it’ll be worth it. Thank you, Ricky and Jett, for helping us.”

“There’s no thanks necessary. We’re happy to help,” Ricky says.

“Is it okay if I see you again Ziv?” Jett asks.

“It goes without saying. You two can come visit us anytime you like.”

After saying goodbye to their new friends, Ricky asks, “I’m surprised you made a new friend. A human friend on top of that.”

“I’m surprised too. They’re not all that bad. Even the criminal ones.”

 

Adventure 4 – Here There be Monsters

There are dozens of rumors of sea and lake monsters. Some of the legends tell of creatures that match the description of beasts of old, others tell about wildlife that are abnormal versions of existing animals, and the last kinds are beyond imagination. Most of these monsters are dangerous to humans only when they bother them. The one Ricky is going after is a lake monster that killed his grandfather and grandmother who were fishing in the lake. He has put their untimely passing behind him, but his parents haven’t so they join him. They bring bait, sharp knives, and other things to draw out the creature of the lake. They have to take quite the hike to make it to the lake where the creature is supposed to be, so Ricky and his parents hop on a merchant’s carriage that is going in that direction.

Ricky says to his parents, “This is going to be really dangerous mom and dad. Be careful.”

His dad, Apollo, says, “Look who’s being the parent. You don’t have to worry about us son.”

“We can handle ourselves. Just because we’re old, it doesn’t mean we’re weak,” his mom, Daphne says.

“I know. I’m just saying because I care.”

“Listen to our son, Apollo. He’s growing up to sound like a parent already.”

“At least he cares about us unlike other young rats his ages.”

“Well you know the saying the humans have, ‘Every son is a knight to his mother who is his queen. His father is king, and his love is his princess. His love will become his queen once he marries her and gives her children and the cycle goes on’.”

“Well he certainly is our little knight.”

“We’re here mom and dad.”

The rats get off the carriage and make their way up to where the lake monster resides.

“Tell me Ricky, when are you going to marry Becky?” Daphne asks.

“What? I don’t know. Why? Do you want grandchildren that badly?”

“No, we’re just wondering. You’ve been together for years and I know you have a ring somewhere in your room.”

“I-I don’t have a ring for yet. I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

“You can impress her at the sports event coming up soon. I’ll be making the winner’s wreath again. Did I ever tell you how I met your mother?”

“You told me many times.”

“Well, I met her in a beautiful tree with pink flowers as leaves. It’s as if she were like the doves in the sky.”

“And your father always exaggerates our meeting.”

“He even made a painting of it with paint he stole from an artist’s house.”

“We still have it hanging in our room, so you must still like it.”

“Of course I do.”

“Hey, mom and dad. We’re here.”

Ricky and his parents set up their fishing equipment and have their weapons ready. They set themselves up in the same way Ricky’s grandparents were. To draw out the creature, they send their bait to the bottom of the river then wiggle the bait on what feels like a rock at the bottom of the lake. This makes a longnecked, snake-like monster emerge from the lake. It makes a loud roaring noise at the sky then focuses on Ricky and his parents. The rats attack the creature with sharp knives and sword, but their attacks barely affect the creature. Pores on the creature’s skin suck in Ricky and his parents who get sent to different parts of the creature’s body.

A light envelops Ricky’s body, which gives him a suit of rat knight armor, so he’s safe when he falls into the digestive stomach of the monster.

“Mom! Dad! Are you out there?!”

He can hear someone screaming something back, but he’s not sure if it’s his parents.

“Get out of here! I’ll take care of the rest.”

There’s silence this time. Ricky sees that he has a sword along with his armor. He walks around the stomach of the beast until he finds a tube that leads out of it.

“The heart has to be somewhere. This monster can’t be that big.”

Alas, Ricky finds himself walking through a maze in the monster’s body. It’s almost if the monster is designed from the inside to be a maze as the inside of the monster is vast and more open like a catacomb. There are skeletons of humans and other animals in the monster’s body that appear to very old. Among the skeletons, he finds a pair of rat skeletons with a couple trinkets on them. These trinkets are the ones that his grandma and grandfather.

“Grandma…Grandpop…I’ll be sure to avenge you and make sure this monster doesn’t hurt anyone else ever again!”

Ricky takes their trinkets as good luck charms. Suddenly, he’s attacked by goblins that act like the creature’s immune system against attackers. When Ricky slices them, they dissolve and split into two then two into three. Seeing that he can’t defeat them, he sprints towards the general direction he thinks the creature’s heart is. He hears a beating sound as he gets closer to it with the goblins hot on his tail, literally.

“I don’t have time to go through this maze of a body!”

As aggravation set in, Ricky cuts his way through the walls in the body until he cuts into the heart’s chamber. The heart is suspended by chains and worshipped by the goblins. Thinking on his feet, he scurries across the chains and cuts down the heart, which melts the monster from the inside out. Ricky quickly cuts his way out of the monster’s body while running for his life. Eventually, Ricky cuts his way the throat of the monster that lifts him up and out of the monster’s body as it uses its last breath to scream out at the sky again. With a sky view of the monster, Ricky can now see that the largeness of the monster’s insides makes sense now as its whole serpent body is a small mountain disguised by the forest.

“Wow, this view is-terrifying!”

To slow his descent, Ricky plunges his sword into the monster, which slows him considerably until he hits the ground and rolls down the monster and finally back onto solid ground.

“Mom?! Dad?! Oh no.”

Ricky cuts into the monster’s dead body to get to his parents, but they end up cutting themselves out not too far from him. He quickly runs to them and embraces them.

“Mom, dad! You’re okay!”

“We’re a bit bruised and cut, but we’re okay. What’s more important is that you’re okay,” Apollo says while holding his wife to help her stand.

“I found grandma and grandpop’s trinkets. Here.”

“Ricky…you found these in the monster?” Daphne asks.

“I found them near two rat skeletons. They died holding each other.”

His parents take a second to mourn but then smile.

“I’m sure they died happily,” Apollo says, “They’re probably smiling down from Heaven on their little boy who took down this giant monster.”

“How did you two survive?”

“We used our knives to slow our descent in the monster and wandered its body until we felt it dying. That’s when we started to cut our way out.”

“It’s a miracle you two survived.”

“It’s a miracle we all survived. Now let’s go home. I don’t think either your mother or I can handle another adventure like this.”

The family laughs before they go home where they tell the rest of the pack what happened and celebrate Ricky and his parents’ victory. The trinkets of Ricky’s grandparents are placed in a special part of their hideout where they keep treasured items that they honor from rats who were remarkable.

 

Adventure 5 – A Mad Dead Man’s Wonderland

You should never wander too far into the unknown otherwise you will lose your way back home and you’ll be lost forever. Because of the nature of Inanis, a wicked witch cursed the town, but she wasn’t able to do so before being burned at the stake. Instead, the witch secretly made another curse with an unknown effect. The place where the witch performed her experiments was destroyed and a hole full of valuable gold was found beneath the house. People from the town mined the seemingly infinite amounts of gold until the hole lead them to an unknown dimension. Few came back and told tales of a mysterious and even horrifying place full of strange beings and magic.

Ricky and Becky go to where the hole in and travel down it.

As they go down the hole, Ricky says, “Are you sure you want to do this? I can do this on my own.”

“You’ve said that so many times already and I’m not changing my answer. Everyone else has already gone on dangerous adventures with you. Now, it’s my turn.”

“Okay, but I’m just warning you.”

“I can handle myself.”

“Unless you need me to save you…again.”

“Hey, don’t act like you don’t like being the hero saving the girl.”

“Hey, don’t act like you don’t like being saved when I risk my life for you. I love you, Becky. I don’t want you getting hurt or worse.”

“You’re such a smooth talker, aren’t you?”

“I just say the truth.”

Eventually, they go so far down the hole that they end up on the other side of it. They end up in a magical kingdom with a clear blue sky, humongous plant life even for humans, and birds of many different breeds in the skies.

“This is beautiful,” Becky says.

“Yeah, but why is everything upside down?”

They look underneath their feet and see that they’re standing on the sky. This is when they fall down to the ground. Ricky holds onto Becky and covers her in a way so that he can take the effect of the fall. One of the humongous plants catches them and gently puts them down on the ground. It then bows to Becky.

“Uh…thank you,” Becky says to it.

Ricky looks up at the sky then says, “Where’s the hole that we came from? I can’t see it.”

Becky looks up.

“Me neither. I guess we’ll have to find another way out.”

Ricky holds Becky’s hand as he walks forward.

“I didn’t know you were so scared Ricky. I thought you were supposed to be the brave one.”

“I am. We just don’t know how this world works. I mean we stood on the sky and a plant caught us and saved our lives.”

“And you also just like holding my hand.”

“Ye-Yeah. That too.”

While traveling through the forest of exotic plants, they hear cackling. The cackling gets louder and louder until a head of a cat appears out of thin air.

He says to the couple, “Oh, rats have made their way into our kingdom, and one of them has red and blue eyes. That must mean you’re special.”

“We just came here to see what the fuss was about and why some people haven’t made it out of here,” Ricky says.

“Well why would you ever want to leave here? It’s such a wonderful place.”

“Are you keeping them somewhere?”

“No, they are keeping themselves here.”

“Tell me where they are then.”

“Why would I do that? You’ll leave after you find them. Enjoy yourselves while you’re here. Let me show you a few of my tricks.”

The hands of the cat appear out of thin air and they move around which makes the plants in the area dance and sing. Becky is amused by the serenade of the plants while Ricky is only slightly amused.

“How about this then for the gentleman?”

Women ladybugs, mice, and plant spirits come out to flirt and appease Ricky, but he holds firm to Becky’s hand.

“Thank you, ladies, but Becky is the only girl for me. I don’t need another.”

“How about this then?”

The cat holds Ricky with both of his hands then separates his lower half from his upper without killing him.

“What the?!”

Ricky’s legs start moving around as if it had a mind of its own and starts dancing. This is somewhat amusing to Becky, but part of her doesn’t feel right for some reason.

“Give me my legs back!”

“Ugh. Fine. You’re no fun.”

Ricky’s lower half attaches itself back to his upper as if nothing happened. He can also move around with no problems whatsoever.

“But now the two of you see the wonders of this place. Why won’t you stay for a while?”

“Thank you, but no thank you. Maybe we will next time.”

“There won’t be a next time and you know it. Maybe I should take you apart again.”

“Don’t touch me!”

When Ricky’s hand touches the cat’s, a light from Ricky’s hand slaps away the cat.

“You’re-you’re touched by Him!”

The cat and everything in the kingdom begin to melt as the light turns to darkness.

“We have to go Becky!” Ricky says as he pulls her along.

The two then sprint on all fours until they reach a rapid river. They see a boat with oars heading towards them, so they jump on it and take control as they head down the river. The river then turns black as the sky. Teeth fill its waters and doll hands start reaching up from it as if gasping for air. Sea serpents from the river that are black, doll faced, and filled with the souls of suffering people rage against the tide and the impending waterfall, which their boat falls down despite their best efforts to fight the tide.

A black bird with a doll face saves the couple and says, “S-s-save us.”

The doll faced bird takes the couple to the castle of the kingdom that is now laced with spikes. They land on the balcony of the castle with their boat and small bodies intact.

“Regretting coming with me yet Becky?”

“No, I’ll never regret being with you.”

The couple kiss before heading into the castle and confronting the queen of this kingdom, a magical witch who takes the form of her black cat. A light envelops Ricky to give him his knight armor and sword. This time he is also given a small knife.

The queen’s black cat knights attack Ricky. He swiftly uses his new weapon to frighten the cats with his fast movements before cutting at their legs, which bring them to heel. He does this to all of the knight till none stand and all bow to him.

“This is over,” Ricky says with his sword pointing at the witch queen, “Release the prisoners and I won’t have to send you to the afterlife.”

“Foolish rodent! You will do no such thing!”

The witch casts black magic on Ricky, which he struggles to fight against as it saps his strength. He tries slicing at it, but it has little effect since he can’t swing properly. Becky comes up from behind him and puts her hands on his shoulders.

“You can beat her Ricky! I believe in you!”

Becky’s encouragement allows Ricky to lift his sword up, which is now emanating a golden light. The light from the sword allows Ricky to send out a light wave from it that slices through the black magic, the witch, and the wall behind her. The witch turns to dust as the kingdom begins to implode from the inside. The bird from before and the other doll faced creatures take Ricky and Becky out of the castle and escape from everything that’s turning in on itself. Once everything in the kingdom is gone, it releases an explosion of energy that sends the couple and the captives through the hole they came in through and back into the normal world.

The hole is now gone, and the captives are back to their normal form as the witch’s magic is gone from them. They thank the rats then go their separate ways.

“So, what did you think of that, Becky? Do you still want to go on adventures with me?”

“Let me think about it-Of course I do! You would’ve died or worse if I wasn’t there to help you out.”

“I don’t know. I could’ve used the memory of everyone else I knew and you. Maybe that would’ve worked too.”

“Ricky!”

“I’m just kidding. I’m in your debt for helping me through my latest adventure.”

“That means you have to give me a massage and compliment me for the rest of the day.”

“What?”

“You said you’re in my debt and I’m already cashing in. Don’t make me give it more thought and make it worse for you.”

“Fine.”

“What? You have to compliment me.”

“Yes, princess. The love of my life.”

“That’s better.”

 

Adventure 6 – Hell’s Boy

There was an unfaithful nun who couldn’t keep her vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience. As a result, she gave birth to a child with small demon horns. He cursed at the sky using swear words and other curses that witches and devil worshippers would know. The priests and nun present at the birth tried to exorcise the demon, but at least six of them are killed, including the nun who gave birth, before the child escaped. The demon child is rumored to live in deep within the forests of Inanis. It kills wildlife and humans for sport and food.

Ricky is accompanied by Becky again because of what happened the other day. Her parents and his parents encouraged her to go with him since they told their parents and the pack their experience. They bring weapons, a book of exorcism prayers, and other tools in case the demon child set traps as it is known to.

“Why did you even complain about me coming with you? You don’t want me here.”

“I always want you with me, Becky. Truthfully, I’m scared of something bad happening to you. This is why I say that you should stay at home with the pack where it’s safe.”

Becky hugs him.

“You don’t have to be afraid, Ricky. You’ll protect me, won’t you?”

“With my life.”

“Now don’t be too risky. You wouldn’t want to break my heart.”

“I won’t make any promises should the situation come up.”

“You’re such a cruel hero.”

“And a dedicated one at that for such a beautiful princess. Speaking of princesses, did you like that snow globe I gave you?”

“Of course I do. By the way, who’s the princess of calmness and patience?”

“She’s a princess in human myth and legend. A princess who had to stand on a sharp sword to save her kingdom. It’s said she stood on the sword for hours without even damaging her skin. She was a wise princess who never let her anger and emotions get to her even when things got dangerous and the villains were mocking her.”

“Her standing on the sword reminds me of the legend of the little mermaid. When she got feet, didn’t she feel like she was walking on knives?”

“I think so, but the princess I’m talking about is a bit happier of a tale.”

Sounds of rustling can be heard in the forest as if something is jumping across the branches.

“We should probably get ready now,” Ricky says as he begins to put his plans in motion.

He sets up traps for demon child then he and Becky begin to draw it out with prayers and shows of affections. This draws out the demon child who attacks the couple. Ricky and Becky quickly retaliate, which makes the demon fly into the trees. It’s still visible, so they chase it. It brings them through its traps, which include bear traps, nets, and holes with sharp sticks that are covered with branches. Ricky throws his knives at the demon and it cuts off its wings. It yells an unnatural scream in the air that makes the leaves on the trees around it die and fall off. With rage searing through its body, it chases Ricky and Becky. They lead it back to their trap that ensnares him in a small ball.

Father Urien meets up with them and says, “I’m surprised you two captured this demon, but then again, I shouldn’t be surprised by anything when it involves you, Ricky.”

Dead animals and walking corpses come out of the ground with a demonic look to them.

“It’s somehow taken control of them! Get out of here father. We’ll hold them off.”

“I’ll help by exorcising this child. It should get rid of the dead.”

Ricky and Becky use their many knives and leftover traps to hold off the dead. Even when they cut off their heads, the bodies of the dead keep moving. The only way to stop them is by cutting off all their limbs, but even then, their torsos keep wiggling around.

“Father! We’re in trouble here.”

“Keep them busy for a little longer!”

Becky begins to be overwhelmed by the dead, so Ricky rushes to her aid. The Ricky breaks his weapons while fighting the dead. All hope seems lost for the rats until Father Urien finishes the exorcism. The child goes back to a normal human being and smiles and giggles at Father Urien.

He smiles at the baby boy then says, “Thank you for all you’ve done,” to Ricky and Becky, “I’ll be taking the child to the orphanage. Hopefully, he’ll be adopted by a loving family.”

“It was good working with you again Father Urien. How’s Ziv doing?”

“Better than ever. The man might turn out to be a better priest than I.”

“Is that so?”

“It’s very much so. Your friends Jasper and Jett help him when they visit. I should get to caring for this little boy. I’m sure he’s tired after all he’s been through.”

“Okay, bye!”

“Bye-bye! Thank you,” the baby says.

“I’ll see you again my friend,” Father Urien says as he walks away.

“I didn’t know human babies can talk,” Becky says.

“They can, but human babies have to learn to speak the human language before they can be understood by other humans.”

“Oh, well speaking about babies. How many do you think we’re going to have?”

“How can I know? Why? How many do you want?”

“Maybe twenty or twenty-five.”

“Twenty or twenty-five?!”

“That’s the normal number.”

“No, the normal number is around twelve.”

“Well, I want twenty to twenty-five. Maybe more.”

“Why?”

“Because that’s what I want.”

“I guess I have to give the princess what she wants.”

“Princess? You mean queen.”

“Sure, I do.”

 

Adventure 7 – What Everyone Wonders About

Because of Ricky’s adventures, the Inverted Light as finally decided to take action against him. Because dozens of people in the town are wishing for an end to their suffering, he opens a fissure in the earth, which swallows the city at an alarming rate. The Reaper of Souls himself appears in the town to reap the souls of the people who try to escape, so none will escape this destruction. Ricky’s pack and his exorcist friends are fighting against the Reaper with swords and prayers alongside brave townsfolk.

As Ricky looks over the destruction he utters, “How am I going to fix this? I might be really over my head this time.”

The Caretaker stands by Ricky and points to the fissure and says, “Destroy the source in there and the hole will close.”

“I don’t know if I can do it.”

“You can. I’ll be with you as you go.”

Ricky is given his knight armor and weapons. He breathes in and out before heading to the fissure. Becky sees him and runs alongside him.

“Where are you going, Ricky?”

“I’m headed towards the fissure. The Caretaker told me that’s how I can stop all of this. This situation is more dangerous than the others. You should stay up here and help the others.”

“For the last time, I’m helping you no matter what the danger is.”

“I guess there’s no arguing with you on that.”

“You’re right about that. I’ll be with you no matter where you go.”

The couple travels down the fissure until they reach the bottom where they see a gray, demonic goat monster with six hands that’s splitting the earth alongside The Inverted Light.

Ricky unsheathes his weapons and points it at him and says, “The Abuser! I knew you had something to do with this!”

“You have no chance of winning against this towering foe, vermin. Tell your ‘Caretaker’ I send my regards,” the Abuser says before leaving through a portal.

“Coward! Becky, I still don’t know if we can handle this.”

“Be brave for the town! Be brave for the pack and our friends! Be brave for me.”

“…Okay. Let’s destroy this demon! For the town! For our loved ones! For the Caretaker!”

The towering goat monster smashes the ground in an attempt to crush the rats as they rush it, but their small size and nimble speed are too fast for them. They climb along its arm and cut it several hundred times. A death by a thousand cuts is their strategy for this demon that’s as tall and big as a house. The two take down one arm each as the demon tries to get them off it but can’t manage. Their strength and size might be small, but their size and speed make up for this. Another two arms fall and now the demon struggles to separate the layers of the earth that begin to crush it. Ricky and Becky cut the other two arms to weaken it, but not cut it off so they have time to escape. The earth begins to reattach itself and crush the demon while the Reaper has disappeared.

“Let’s get out of here Becky!”

“I’m right behind you!”

As the earth begins to come together, it’s obvious to Ricky that Becky can’t run fast enough, so he gets behind her and pushes her ahead. Ricky manages to push her out as they get to the surface, but the earth closes on him before he gets out.

“Ricky!”

Becky begins to claw at the earth to dig him up. A sword pierces through the ground and Ricky emerges from the ground. Becky hugs him once he stands up.

“I told you something like this would happen,” Ricky says, “I almost died there.”

“Thank the Caretaker you didn’t otherwise this would’ve ended up like Romeo and Juliet.”

“Don’t even think that way. We saved the town, but I’m sure they will be many more adventures.”

“And I’ll be with you through them all.”

Ricky and Becky share a kiss as the pack of rats and townspeople cheer in victory against evil. A victory won by two small rats who are small and weak, but brave and courageous.