Undertaker of Sorrows

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Sorrowful Heart 1 – Infectious Despair

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

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

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

“It’s time to stop your mourning

It’s time to wake to a new morning

Because this is a warning you should know

So you can be saved from your woes

 

You know what causes you despair

Your time for mourning has been fair

Now rise from your sadness

And taste the sweetness of gladness

 

The Undertaker of Sorrows is coming after you

He knows what you’ve been through

He wants you to succeed

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

 

Your ways have caused others harm

And the state of your soul is cause for alarm

So let go of what causes you sorrow

Or the Undertaker will not let you live after tomorrow”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

Sorrowful Heart 2 – Money Can’t Buy Happiness

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

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

“It’s time to stop your mourning

It’s time to wake to a new morning

Because this is a warning you should know

So you can be saved from your woes

 

You know what causes you despair

Your time for mourning has been fair

Now rise from your sadness

And taste the sweetness of gladness

 

The Undertaker of Sorrows is coming after you

He knows what you’ve been through

He wants you to succeed

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

 

Your ways have caused others harm

And the state of your soul is cause for alarm

So let go of what causes you sorrow

Or the Undertaker will not let you live after tomorrow”

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

Sorrowful Heart 3 – Back Too Late

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

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

“It’s time to stop your mourning

It’s time to wake to a new morning

Because this is a warning you should know

So you can be saved from your woes

 

You know what causes you despair

Your time for mourning has been fair

Now rise from your sadness

And taste the sweetness of gladness

 

The Undertaker of Sorrows is coming after you

He knows what you’ve been through

He wants you to succeed

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

 

Your ways have caused others harm

And the state of your soul is cause for alarm

So let go of what causes you sorrow

Or the Undertaker will not let you live after tomorrow”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

Sorrowful Heart 4 – Isolated in Misery

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

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

“It’s time to stop your mourning

It’s time to wake to a new morning

Because this is a warning you should know

So you can be saved from your woes

 

You know what causes you despair

Your time for mourning has been fair

Now rise from your sadness

And taste the sweetness of gladness

 

The Undertaker of Sorrows is coming after you

He knows what you’ve been through

He wants you to succeed

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

 

Your ways have caused others harm

And the state of your soul is cause for alarm

So let go of what causes you sorrow

Or the Undertaker will not let you live after tomorrow”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

Sorrowful Heart 5 – Sinner to Saint

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The End

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

Last Five Bullets

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Prologue – One Shot to Save a Life

Strange things happen, but I don’t think my life will ever get stranger from here. I got an email from the Curaga Company. They wanted my services as a bodyguard and I agreed, but when I met them, they offered me a different kind of bodyguard job.

They told me they wanted me to, “Be part of the security team that’s escorting part of our next big cure.”

The Curaga Company is known for curing most forms of cancer and other life-ending diseases. They apparently have one part of the cure to a disease they couldn’t disclose to me.

After some explaining, they said, “Do this for us and we’ll be able to cure your daughter of her disease that is thought to be incurable.”

“What? Really?”

“Yes.”

My life has been a series of terrible events until it culminated with the disease that put my daughter in the hospital. I’ve just been working guard jobs to keep myself and my daughter alive as long as possible.

“Why would you want to hire a nobody like me?”

“Because we are impressed by your devotion to your job. Let’s go over a few that sparked our interest the most. When you caught a criminal speeding, you knew that that criminal was part of a protected class of people, but you still defended yourself from him, shot him, and arrested him at the cost of your job as a police officer.”

“You find that particular action impressive? What if I find something I don’t like and think I should bring you to justice?”

“We are confident that we do no wrong. We aren’t some comical corporation of villains who conduct human experiments and make bioweapons. Now, the next thing was when you shot and killed various members of the mafia that owned the club you were a guard of. The report gives us the impression that you didn’t know who truly ran the club, so we’ll shrug off the fact that you were working for them.”

“You will? I took a lot of flak from not realizing it for the first week that I worked there.”

“You freed many women from prostitution. We will. The last thing that you may not want to be reminded of is-”

“I’m sorry, but if this is what I think it is…”

“We’ll keep the details to a minimum. You saved dozens upon dozens of people first before you went to save your family. Unfortunately, the only member of your family you saved was your daughter, so everyone else perished.”

“…”

“We’re sorry we had to remind you of that but remember the integrity that you have. It’s what makes you an unappreciated hero in the eyes of many and a dedicated worker. Do not think for a moment that you did the wrong thing by saving those other people first. If you just saved your family, so many more people would be dead and I’m sure your family and others would have a negative view of you. What credit is it to you if you love those who love you, am I right?”

“Yeah…I just don’t want to think about it.”

“So, what do you think? Will you accept our offer?”

“Everything you described before makes this job seem dangerous if you’re keeping it a secret. What will you do if I don’t come back?”

“If someone from your team comes back with the cure, we will cure your daughter for you as a sign of respect. If no one comes back with the cure, then we will release your daughter from the vegetative-like state she is in so she will join you in the afterlife. How does that sound?”

“I guess she doesn’t have any other options. I’ll take the job.”

“Very wise choice, Mr. Retto.”

I was then briefed on what we’re going to do, how we are going to do it, and the plans if things go south. I am given a hazmat suit with body armor and a special pistol that has “fire” bullets as they call them. They are better than normal bullets because they can penetrate harder surfaces and cure people who get infected with the cure we’re after. Apparently, when only one half of the cure is used on an animal, it mutates into a flesh-eating beast that can only be killed with fire or these kinds of bullets. I’m also given a heated knife that will burn the infected, I’m not sure if it’ll be too useful. Regular firearms don’t work on an infect animal as the animal will seemingly grow whatever got blown off in a mutated way that makes them more dangerous.

I’ve seen the videos of this, and man were they horrifying. I hope things don’t turn out that way.

“Hey, Mr. Retto,” a man on the helicopter says to me, “You’ve been staring into space for the past hour. You nearly look dead. Are you okay?”

“Yeah, I’m fine.”

“Good because we’re almost there so get ready.”

“Right.”

I look at the picture of my daughter one more time before we land.

“Don’t worry, sir. You’ll see her again.”

“I hope so.”

We’ve landed in a large cavern underneath a waterfall. This place must be extremely top secret for them to hide it like this. The inside of the facility looks incredibly slick and futuristic. There are a lot of experimental rooms that don’t look too bad, but there are rooms with dead mutated animals like the ones I saw from the videos. Those things better stay dead.

The people around us don’t look happy. Some are whispering to each other while the others look frightened. In the briefing, I heard that most of these people are just a hired third party with Curaga members mixed in. I don’t think I’m allowed to talk to any of them nor am I allowed to voice my concerns to my teammates. All I can do is just walk a little faster to get this over with quicker.

We enter a cold storage room with a few scientists in it.

The team leader steps forward and says, “We’re here to collect the other half of the cure. Give us what you have, and you will receive your agreed upon payment in full.”

There’s an uncomfortable silence in the room.

“We decline your payment. It’s not worth it.”

“Then hand over all the research that you have the cure.”

“I don’t think so.”

The scientists pull out guns, but we shoot them dead. I’m sorry it had to be this way. Why did they resist? I’m sure they were paid well to do something worthwhile.

“Hurry and collect the cure.”

“There’s empty slots over here. Are we expecting a certain amount?”

“No, just whatever they have will be useful.”

We take all the vials of the cure, put them in a box, and leave the room as if nothing happened. An alarm then gets rung as wild animals start devouring people. Damn these people! I guess we know where the other vials went. Why couldn’t they make it easy for us?! We use our special ammo on these creatures to kill them, but we waste a few since they’re so fast. Those who were killed reanimate themselves and become the living dead. What the hell is going on? Why are people becoming zombies?

My team is dying around me and turning. I knew something would go wrong and this job would end up turning on me! It’s just the climax to all the bad things that have been happening to me.

“AAAAHHHH!”

These things hit with the force of a sledgehammer. Oh no…

“AAAH!!”

Uhhh…Something hit me with this claw arms and knocked me into a wall. Wait…I’m still alive? Where is everyone? Where did all those zombies go? This place is a mess with blood everywhere, but no bodies or torn flesh anywhere. They do regenerate flesh, so I guess it just collects goes back where it came from. Those things are bound to be around here somewhere, so maybe there are some notes around here that can help me. Ah, I found them near the testing area.

Okay, so the flesh does form together once it’s broken off while regenerating what was lost. That means a huge monster formed of flesh and dangerous appendages could be made if enough flesh is collected together. That better not have happened yet. Oh, there’s also a note in here that says conscious prey is preferred over unconscious victims by the virus. The other people must’ve gotten out somehow if the zombies just left me.

Oh, damn, I almost forgot the other half of the “cure”. Some of the vials are broken, some are missing, but I do find one that’s still intact. This is my daughter’s ticket to being saved. Now I have to find a way out of here. Thankfully this place is straightforward, but I don’t like how quiet and dark it is. It feels like something will jump at me any second. The random sparks and noises have me on edge.

After following the path forward, I find a large set of stairs near a broken elevator. I guess I have to climb the stairs. It appears that people were fighting and dying as they were trying to escape. Wow, this is a lot of stairs. Where is it taking me…oh no. I’m in a town. This is a town that we passed by on the way here. I didn’t think the facility would have an exit to here. I’m in some kind of mechanic’s shop.

Looking out into the streets, I see that it’s littered with zombies and other mutants who are wandering around looking for their next meal. I have to get through them and find a way out of here. I take out my daughter’s head bow and put it on my arm. One of the last things she did for me while she was still mostly conscious was to give me her favorite head bow as a way of her to always be with me. I only have five bullets left to use with my knife being a somewhat useless backup. Your dad is going to help you and I’m going to do risk everything I have to get this cure to you. I promise. I’m going to need you to help me, sweetie.

 

 

 

 

Chapter 1 – Five Bullets, Hundreds of Enemies

I need to reach Curaga to let them know I’m still alive and that I have the other half of the cure. The communication device on me is all static so I guess I have to reach a radio tower to enhance the signal. Luckily enough, there’s one in the distance. I just have to get there safely without attracting the attention of the hordes of flesh zombies. The flesh zombies are all congregating in the streets and appear to be combining together just by bumping into one another. This doesn’t appear to be deliberate, but this will be a problem if I don’t get out of here quick.

I look around the mechanic’s shop and find a door to the back alley. It’s empty back here and I find a fire exit above me. I use a nearby garbage can to climb my way up to the rooftops. The situation looks way worse up here with most of the streets crowded with flesh zombies. The town doesn’t look that big from where I am. I wonder if anyone is still alive.

While traveling across the rooftops, I do see people trying to fight. They appear to know that these zombies can regenerate, and that fire is the only way to kill them as they’re using sticks with fire on it. They appear to be holding their own so if I interfere, they will probably die, but I have no idea how they’re going to survive. I’m not even sure if Curaga want them to survive. There’s nothing that connects them to the infection except the hidden lab, but no one is going to find it unless they know where it is and unless they can completely burn this town to ashes.

The zombies haven’t noticed me, but I’ve seen them on the rooftops. It looks like they can crawl and climb relatively quickly though I don’t know why I haven’t gotten their attention yet. I know sound and smells have something to do with it. Maybe it’s because they seem to be focused on fusing with one another. They appear to know that fusing makes them stronger. I see two trying to break into a store. They meld together with each other to finally break down the door then turn around to meld with a few others before going into the store. That place better be empty.

Some of the zombies that have noticed me are a pain to deal with since I have so little that’s effective in dealing with them. I throw whatever I find on the roof at them and sometimes light things on fire with the heat from my knife to keep them away. This is already turning into a big problem especially since I’m so close to the radio tower. Hold on. It might not be. I see a bar not too far from here. I quickly get to it and start making as many molotov cocktails as I can. This place looks like it was a hideout before it was overrun. Who would want to make this place their hideout? It looks like they escaped out a secret exit behind the bar, which is where I’m going because the zombies are coming in.

Before leaving, I make sure the bar is set ablaze so the town can catch fire. The zombies won’t react to the fire until they feel its heat and by the time that happens, they all should be spreading the fire to one another. Now that I’m out of the bar, I sparingly use my molotovs on the crowds of zombies around me so they’re pre-occupied as I get to the radio tower. Once I reach the tower, I’ve used up all of my molotovs. I could only make so many in the time that I had. Damn. I can see in the distance that the bar collapsed on itself and some of the zombies are sacrificing themselves to put out the fire. At least there aren’t any zombies around here and I should have enough time to ask questions.

I link up my radio to the radio tower and call to Curaga, “Come in command. This is Retto. I’m-”

“We know you’re still alive, and we’re glad because of it.”

“What? How do you know?”

“The armor and equipment we gave you tell us your status and health. I guess that got brushed over in the briefing.”

“I’m not even going to question how, but what I’m going to need extraction. Several workers of yours didn’t want to give up half of the cure and-”

“We know what happened. The cameras there link directly back to our main headquarters.”

“Why didn’t they want to give us the other half of the cure?”

“It’s because they didn’t like the fact that they could only make it with our funding and that they won’t the major credit. It’s a thing of pride really. We are the leader in medical advances and the biggest in the business for a reason. Most other companies partner up with us nowadays just for a chance to be noticed and profit.”

“Having a monopoly isn’t as fun as it sounds, is it?”

“It’s not our fault most of the customers and governments in the world decided to choose us for all their medical needs. Well, maybe it’s partially our fault. We’re highly charitable to the world and our workers, and it seems that it was our downfall for this event, but you can change that if you bring us the cure. You can still save your daughter. We already have a helicopter going to the roof of the police station, which is the safest part of town that the helicopter can land on. Be quick about getting there. From what we see from our satellites is that the flesh is growing at a rapid rate, despite your efforts, and will soon overtake the town.”

“What about any survivors?”

“If there are any, you must make them escape on their own if you want to save them. They cannot escape with you because they may exaggerate what happened here and put all the blame on us. Finding evidence to prove our innocence will be difficult with how things are. Besides our recording of the recent event, we have no other evidence for our case. The traitors must’ve done all their planning outside of our facilities so that it looks like we are at fault for this outbreak.”

“Are you sure about the survivors? It doesn’t look like there’s any way to escape by vehicle or on foot. Do you really think that they’ll just blame the outbreak on you and not take us on our word?”

“Unfortunately, it’s the way things are going to have to be. This outbreak is the reason their home is destroyed. It is not likely that they will cooperate with us. Mr. Retto, you must be getting to the extraction point now. The helicopter is quickly approaching and once it lands, it cannot wait for long because of the dangers in the town. Good luck and Godspeed.”

I guess that’s the way things are going to have to be. The police station isn’t that far from here but getting there is another story. What am I going to do? What the? An explosion went off on one side of town. It looks like it took half the block with it. There’s my chance to move. I’m hoping what caused the explosion isn’t what I think it was because I’m not sure how I’m going to deal with it. Before going, I take one look at a picture of my daughter to give me strength then head out.

The now barren streets where the zombies once were are covered in blood without one piece of bone or flesh in sight. It looks like the explosion that gathered them together may prove to be a problem. Thankfully I find a nearby gun store. There should be something here I can use to keep the zombies at bay even if it isn’t that effective. Maybe there are some grenades I could use? Please?

Oh no. A group of four people come into the gun shop. We point our guns at each other.

“Who are you?” a slender man who looks like a gambler says.

“I’m just a survivor like you.”

“Really? Because I’ve never seen anyone wear anything that you do.”

“We don’t have time to interrogate him,” the teenaged girl says, “Are you going to let us take what we need from this shop or not?”

“You can have whatever you want as long as I take what I need.”

“Deal.”

I slowly lower my weapon first as the other four lower theirs. They then look through the shop while I go back to looking for explosives.

“What’s your plan, mister?” the teenaged girl asks me.

“I’m going to the police station then getting out of here.”

“Huh. Do you have someone there waiting for you?”

“I’m meeting someone there, so yes.”

“What’s your name?”

“Call me, Mr. Morte.”

“I’m Clarrisa.”

“I thought you said we don’t have time to interrogate him.”

“Shut it, Tony. I can talk to him if I want to. Did you find what we need?”

“Not yet.”

“Then mind your own business. Don’t mind him, Mr. Morte. He hasn’t learned how to listen to his superiors yet because he’s a rookie.”

“You guys are cops?”

“Yeah, and I’m the daughter of the chief of police, so you know I’m tough.”

“I used to be an officer until I did my job as an officer and brought a person of a protected class to justice.”

“If you were an officer here, you wouldn’t have been fired. Heck, I’d say you be promoted to chief of police just for that one act. You can still be since my father recently died and the position’s open.”

“Thank you, but I have to decline. I have to get a job done first.”

“Suit yourself then. We can escort you to the station. Think of it as a favor from one officer to another.”

“I’m fine on my own. You need to get out of town before it’s too late. I’m sure you’ve seen the growing number of flesh zombies that are melding together to form one enormous freak of nature.”

“You call those things flesh zombies? We just call them the flesh.”

“Don’t ignore my point. I’m used to doing jobs on my own. You don’t need to worry about me.”

“Listen, old man. The place we’re going to is past the police station, and we’re going to need more weapons from the armory there, so we’re not bothering you if we tag along.”

She really wants to help even though she doesn’t know me. Her dad must’ve taught her well. I respect that, but I don’t want to be dishonest with her. I’ll have to make sure they leave before I’m picked up.

“If you’re going to be so persistent about it, then I guess I don’t have a choice. You can come along.”

“You got that right.”

Something in the corner of my eye catches my attention. It’s a flesh zombie that’s crawling on the glass outside of the gun store and it’s noticed us.

“Watch out!” I try to say as quickly as possible before the zombie attacks while pulling out a shotgun.

The zombie juts out its sharp bone-like tongue through the head of one of the cops. I shoot the zombie three times along with the other cops until the zombie is paste.

“Damn it!” Tony says as I gather my things.

I take out my knife, burn the remains of their friend, then burn the remains of the zombie.

“What are you doing?”

“These zombies come back to life and tougher if you don’t burn everything. Don’t you know that?”

“No. We’ve been surviving for a while and haven’t figured that out. How did you?”

“I pay more attention.”

Crowds of zombies start appearing around us.

“What the heck?” Clarrisa says as she readies her weapons, “I thought that explosion we made would’ve held their attention for longer.”

“I think we attract them more than sound.”

I take out the grenade launcher I found and start blowing up the nearby cars to start fires in the streets.

“Let’s hurry!” I say as I run through an alley, which is the only area without zombies.

I’m glad and terrified at the same time that I have help with me. What am I going to do to save their lives while also keeping my secret? I’m going to have to come up with an answer soon, and I already know that it’s going to be difficult.

 

 

 

 

Chapter 2 – A Biohazardous Residence

How many people live in this town? These streets are swarming with flesh zombies. I’ve been following Clarissa to get to the police station, but every place we go seems to be crowded with the undead.

“Let’s take a shortcut through the grand hotel,” Clarissa says as she points at the large hotel in front of us.

Since I don’t know any other better ways, I follow her into the hotel where we sit down and take a breather. This place has been boarded up and reinforced with furniture in certain entrances, so someone was definitely here. The lights aren’t on, so I’m assuming this place doesn’t have any power. There are signs of fighting with blood in certain places but no bodies, which is worrying. I don’t think I’ve ever wanted to see dead bodies as much as I wanted to in my life before.

“We should get moving. Those things will be melding with one another to break down the doors and I don’t want to be around to see that abomination,” I say as I get up.

“He’s right. Let’s move,” Clarrisa says as she follows after me.

“Do you know the way out of here to get to the station?”

“Yeah. It’s a straightforward path.”

“It doesn’t look like it’ll be with all of the junk in the hallways.”

“I can find a way around it. My friends and I always used to play hide and seek in this place when we were kids, so I know this place inside and out. I even know the little secret areas like the ones where the janitors kept their pinups of women. There was one photo that I found that was a ‘questionable’ photo let’s say of one of the employees.”

“That’s good to know.”

“So how did a cop like you get a job that landed you in our humble little town?”

“I got an email then traveled down here for the job. It’s not an exciting story.”

“What job did you get?”

“Guard duty.”

“For who?”

“Why does it matter, and why do you keep asking?”

“There’s no reason to keep quiet because those things know where we are, and I’d like to know more about you since you seem to be an interesting fella.”

We hear noises that sound like walking that makes us jump.

“You two can flirt later. Guns up,” Tony says.

We get closer to the noises until we see what’s causing it. Apparently, someone left a birdcage near a barricade and it’s been knocking down some of the luggage that’s blocking the hallway. We let out a sigh of relief.

“We should take this little guy with us. He could warn us when danger arrives.,” Clarrisa says as she grabs the bird’s cage.

“Why do you even ask when you just do it?” Tony asks.

“Who said I asked?”

We then enter a large dining hall with various kinds of supplies in it. Gas, food, makeshift weapons, and some guns are strewn about everywhere. It looks like the people here left in a hurry and took what they could. They didn’t leave any explosives, but the gas will be useful when the zombies get in. Tony and the other guy are eating what they can while Clarrisa is feeding the bird and herself.

“Do you want something, Mr. Morte? This may be your only chance to eat something,” Clarrisa says to me.

“I’m good.”

Even though I am hungry, I probably shouldn’t show them my face.

“What? Don’t want to show us your face or are you trying to be a big man?”

“No, I’m just not hungry. Besides, we can’t sit down for long.”

“You can’t take a quick bit of something? Maybe you’re wearing that gas mask for some other reason we don’t know.”

“Like what?”

“I don’t know. Do you think the air is infected?”

“I don’t think it is.”

Curaga never mentioned part of the cure affecting the air, so it shouldn’t be airborne in any way. Clarrisa walks over to me and stares me down with a smile.

“Stop messing around,” Tony says.

“Shut up,” Clarrisa commands him.

“If Morte wants to keep his secrets, let him. We’re going to leave him soon anyway.”

“His secrets are why I want to know more about him.” Clarrisa starts to take off my mask, but I grab her hand. She then pulls her pistol on me. “If you don’t let me see your face, then I will show you that the flesh will be the least of your worries.”

Not wanting to cause any trouble, I let her take off my mask. Everyone looks at me, including the bird for some reason.

“Do you know him? Because I sure as hell don’t,” Tony says.

“No, I don’t. He does look handsome for an old man though,” Clarissa says while putting my mask back on.

Thank you, God, no one knows who I am.

“I’m flattered, now can you stop messing around?”

“What? Don’t like a pretty girl getting close to you?”

The bird starts flying around in its cage seconds before a loud bang is made outside the hall. They’re in. Heavy footsteps walk through the hallway and stop outside the hall. We all have our guns up as we stand in the center of the room in case we get flanked from behind. The footsteps then cease for a couple seconds before what’s making them breaks through the wall.

It’s a large zombie with bones around every part of its body except for the bottom part of its face and its chest. We open fire on the creature as it charges at us. Bullets don’t slow it down, and I’ve already run out of grenade launcher ammo, so we dodge out of the way. It appears that it’s down for now as it’s slumped on the corner of the wall. I have to burn this thing somehow before it comes back worse than before.

“It’s not going to be dead for long. Help me burn it. Let’s move!” I say as I quickly run over to it.

First, I try to move the thing so that I can burn its flesh since its bone burns, but the fire isn’t burning through it, and the damn thing is too heavy. Even with the help of the other three, we can’t move the hulking monster.

“There’s only one option if we want to prevent this thing from coming back,” I say to the three, “We have to light up the wall this thing is on with gas, but the fire will probably light the rest of this place, and I doubt the sprinklers are working.”

“It’s really going to be like that, huh?” Tony asks as he flips open his lighter.

“That’s what it’s going to have to be,” Clarrisa says as she pours the gas on the monster.

After Clarrisa is finished pouring the gas, I light it on fire, and I quickly follow her out of the room. More sounds that sound like the zombies breaking in are made around the hotel. I make a short line from the gas can I have to the rest in the hall and light it on fire.

“Move! Move!” I say as the hotel begins to burn.

Clarrisa leads us through the halls of the hotel, some of which are blocked. The zombies start breaking through the ceilings and walls with some of them armored with bone, others have nothing but sharp bones on their bodies, and some are just half heads with mouths for bodies. We shoot these zombies or run away if we can. Suddenly, the hotel shakes as a loud noise is made.

“What was that?!” Tony frantically asks.

“It doesn’t matter. Keep moving!” I say as I keep running.

The zombie horde keeps breaking into the hotel and we keep mowing through them until we reach a dead end.

“Clarrisa?”

“This is the only other way out!”

“Maybe there’s another way.”

The wall behind us is broken down by a massive monster made of flesh. It’s a mess of faces, bones, eyes, teeth, mouths, arms, legs, and other body parts are all together in a mesh of horror. Without saying anything, Tony and I start firing at the atrocity with everything we got while Clarrisa and the other guy start taking out the luggage and tables from the barricade. I don’t think my fire bullets will do anything, so my trump card is out the window. Shooting its eyes, inside its mouth, and its appendages slows it down a bit, but it isn’t slowing down as much as I want it to.

Our backs are almost against the wall, so I start helping clear the barricade by throwing the luggage into the atrocity’s mouth, which actually chokes it up a bit. No wonder why it shoved it aside. I didn’t think it mattered, but once all of its mouths are full, it doesn’t matter anymore. Thankfully, the way is clear now to an exit without a door, so we just run through it, but the other guy who I don’t know is taken in by one of its tendrils and eaten whole. We shouldn’t have stopped firing at it. There’s nothing we can do for him, so I push Tony and Clarrisa outside and away from the hotel.

“I’m sorry, but he’s gone,” I say to them.

“It’s still coming after us!” Clarrisa says as she points at it.

That thing is larger than I think because it’s leaking out of all the floors of the hotel. Dammit! Is this thing made of all the zombies in the town?! The three of us shoot at it to slow it down as we back away. The good news is that the building is burning, which is probably one of the reasons why it was coming at us so fast. I look around for something to help us and see a gas station behind us.

I tell the two, “There’s a gas station behind us. We can use the gas there to make the fire spread faster!”

“I’ll get the gas! Hold it off!” Tony says as he runs to the gas station.

Clarrisa and I hold off the atrocity as it tries to stab and grab us with its long tendrils. The fire is making it weaker, but it’s still putting up quite a fight with all the appendages it has. It’s like the hotel itself is the monster. Tony comes back with four canisters of gas, but the atrocity catches him.

“Tony!” Clarissa yells out.

“Don’t worry, chief! I got this!”

Tony pour the gas on the atrocity and himself and lights both of them on fire. Tony is screaming out in agonizing pain, but I can tell he is satisfied with his decision with a small smirk on his burning face. The atrocity doesn’t appear to be dead, but at least it isn’t moving towards us anymore.

Clarrisa is crying for her friend, so I try to comfort her by putting my hand on her shoulder while saying, “He’s a hero, Clarrisa.”

“And I’m proud of him. For a rookie, you knew what to do when faced with a difficult decision. Now…you’re going to take me with you.”

“What? No. You don’t want to be with me. I’ll just be slowing you down since I have to wait at the station.”

“My plan was to escape with those two but you’re the only one I can go with now.”

“I’m not escaping until I need to do what I need to at the police station. Just find a car and escape with it without me. There shouldn’t be many more zombies in the town so you should have a clear shot out of here.”

“I’m not leaving without you. I’m the only cop left in this town and I’m not going to leave another one to die. You’re taking me with you and that’s it.”

“…Fine.”

“Good. I knew you’d see it my way.”

Clarrisa and I walk to the police station, which I see in the distance. The streets are empty, and the danger appears to have diminished, but what am I going to do with Clarrisa?

 

 

Chapter 3 – Chekhov’s Gun

We’re almost to the police station and there hasn’t been one single flesh zombie in sight. This feels so wrong compared to before where I couldn’t look in a single direction without seeing one of those things, but the town seems completely empty now. It makes sense because of what we just fought though it feels like there should be more. This makes things difficult for me in how I need to get rid of her. I’m hoping that either the people in the helicopter or in Curaga will change their mind if I can convince them that she can come with me. They must have seen what happened. They must know that she can be useful.

She’s sticking close to me while looking around and looking down at the ground every few seconds. Poor girl just lost her home and everyone she knew. There has to be something I can do.

“We’re here,” Clarrisa says as we arrive at the front of the police station.

This place isn’t heavily barricaded so it’s easy to slip into. The inside of the station barely has any blood in it and the place is mostly clean with a few things lying around as if someone was trying to leave after a normal Friday and they just wanted to go home. We pass by the armory and find that most of the guns are gone, but we do find some ammo and leftover grenades.

“We should take these just in case,” I say.

“You don’t think there are more out there, do you?”

“Better to be safe than sorry.”

“My dad always said that. He always warned me not to get into danger unless I knew I could get out.”

“He’s a smart man. I told my own daughter something similar.”

“You have a daughter?”

“Yeah. She has an incurable disease.”

“Is this job to help her?”

“Yes, it is.”

“I have a feeling you know more about this outbreak of flesh zombies than you let on. Is it true?”

Why does she really have to ask me this now?

She continues, “I know you’re an experienced officer, so you must be trained in knowing when someone’s lying, but that also must mean you know how to lie. You’ve been leaving just enough details in what you say and enough honesty in your voice to convince me that you’re an honest man, so be honest with me.”

“Your dad taught you how to be a good cop. I’m sure he’s proud of you.”

“Dad didn’t raise his daughter to be an airhead. Give me an honest answer.”

“The honest truth is that I was sent here to retrieve part of a cure that caused this outbreak, but the people who worked with us rebelled because they wanted the credit and fame for themselves. The cure itself can cure millions of people including my daughter, but when it’s separate, it’s deadly. Don’t blame the cure makers. Just blame the selfish pricks who didn’t want to cooperate because they weren’t going to get the credit they wanted.”

“Can you tell me who you work for?”

“You can figure that out on your own. A helicopter is coming here to pick me up with half the cure, but they don’t want anyone coming with me because they don’t trust you. That’s why you have to escape on your own.”

“They’re not much of a company that wants to help people if they want to leave me for dead.”

“They don’t want you dead. They just would rather you didn’t know who they were because you might not understand that it wasn’t their fault.”

“If that’s the way it’s going to be, then I will figure it out on my own.”

“I know you will. Now, go get a vehicle and leave.”

“Fine.”

Clarrisa leaves with her weapons. She’s going to find the answers she wants or Curaga is going to find her. I just know it. I hope they don’t do anything bad…oh no.

“Watch out!”

A large tendril is about to hit Clarrisa through a window, so I push her out of the way before it hits her.

“Clarrisa!”

“I’m okay!”

“Get out of here! Hurry!”

“How about you follow your own advice, old man?!”

Right. I head up the stairs as tendrils begin to pierce through them. Is that atrocity from before still alive or is this a different one? Whatever the answer is, I’m sure I’ll find out soon. When I get up to the roof, I look into the distance to see my helicopter, but when I look off one ledge I almost get hit with a tendril. I throw a few grenades I have off the ledge and after they all blow up, I slowly approach the ledge and look down to see a mess of burnt flesh, body parts, faces, and mouths. It’s definitely the same atrocity as before, but it’s smaller now and looks as if it cut off part of itself. Maybe it knew to do that so it could survive. There’s some kind of heart or core in the center of the mess that has veins connecting it together. I shoot at it and nothing happens. Even my last couple grenades don’t do anything.

Suddenly, I hear my helicopter and before I know it, it’s landing on the roof. When I look back down, I see that the atrocity is regenerating. My fire bullets are probably the only good weapon I can use. I then see a police car driving away. She finally gets out, but the atrocity gets up and runs with its many legs after Clarrisa. My normal bullets don’t do anything on the charred legs and body, and it’s already too far for my pistol shots to hit it. Damn it!

“Get in the chopper already!” I hear someone from the helicopter say.

I can’t do anything to help her now. Unless…

I get into the helicopter and tell the pilot, “Chase after that police car! That officer needs help!”

“Okay, but we aren’t stopping. Use the turret if you really want to do some real damage.”

I quickly get to the turret and unload whatever I can as we fly over Clarrisa, but I can only land so many shots that slow the atrocity down by a little. If only I had used my fire bullets on the core when I had the shot, then she wouldn’t have had any trouble escaping. It sounds like she’s taking sharp turns as she tries to dodge the atrocity. It’s on her tail. Come on Clarrisa…

“You still have half the cure, right?” the pilot asks.

“I got it.”

“It’s amazing that you survived. I heard that it was Hell on earth down there.”

“It was. I got out by the skin of my teeth thanks to a group of cops.”

“Is that who was in that car?”

“Yeah. There’s only one of them that survived.”

“That’s tough. They’re going to have a slim chance of survival especially with what’s coming next.”

“What do you mean?”

“They didn’t tell you? Here, use this comm device to ask them.”

The pilot gives me a communication device and I say into it, “This is Retto. I’m aboard the helicopter a-”

“We’re so glad you escaped, Mr. Retto. We knew we could rely on you. You’re just in time as well.”

“In time for what?”

“We were going to tell you, but we thought you already had so much rushing you that we thought it was better not to tell you about the nuke coming in.”

“Nuke?!”

“That’s the only way to truly clean the city. Any other way would just risk another outbreak.”

“Delay it! I rescued an officer who is trying to avoid an abomination of flesh while trying to escape.”

“Then we can only pray and hope that the officer escapes. We cannot call off the nuke especially since we’ve already pulled so many strings to get it deployed in the first place.”

I hit the side of the helicopter.

“Damn it! I should’ve brought her with me. If you only let me bring her with me-”

“Then you would’ve been in greater danger. We don’t believe in the exchange of lives, but you must think about the lives that will be saved with what you have. Don’t worry about the woman. If you think she is capable, she will escape.”

“Tch.”

“We will be seeing you soon with your reward, Mr. Retto, and don’t look directly into the explosion of the nuke, otherwise, you’ll be blinded.”

“Thanks for the tip.”

About thirty seconds pass before the town is nuked. I look at the aftermath and see that everything around the town is destroyed too. I guess the explosion had to be massive in order to destroy any infected creatures that might’ve wandered out of the town. Clarrisa is a smart girl, but I don’t know if she made it. If she did die…I don’t know. I can’t let myself worry about it now.

In the following days, my daughter is cured and is now perfectly healthy along with millions of other people. Even though I didn’t help in making the cure, my name is included with the others who did make it, which has given me some fame in the industry and government. I’m also set for life with the amount of money that Curaga has given me along with free healthcare, which is a nice bonus, however, I can’t get the events I went through out of my head.

My daughter and I now live in a nice small house for the two of us filled with all the things she wants. Pictures of my family, accomplishments, and all her toys and dolls in shelves for everyone to see. I don’t care for the look of the house, but I put my foot down when she suggests things such as putting up purple, red, and pink curtains all over the house to make it look fancier. My daughter goes to a special school to catch up on what she missed, and she’s doing well. I didn’t expect anything less from my daughter.

Speaking about daughters, Clarrisa is still on my mind. My daughter keeps reminding me of her because she wants to be an officer like me and acts tough and asks questions like how Clarrisa did. It may just be me being too hard on myself, but I could’ve saved more people if I actually used my fire bullets. I didn’t because I was afraid of exposing myself and risking my daughter’s life. Sure, the lives of millions of others were at stake, but in my mind, if I can’t save a single life, then I can’t save anyone. I’ve talked to psychiatrists at Curaga and they’ve told me to be easier on myself and the priests I see tell me the same. I guess I should just let it go, but I feel like I’m turning my back on my calling since I do nothing nowadays besides reading theology and philosophy books, instead of looking for guard jobs or at least trying to get back into law enforcement.

On one normal day, I get a knock at the door. A man dressed in a casual suit greets me and says, “We at Curaga have uses for your skills again if you wish to aid in the saving of more lives. What do you say, Mr. Retto?”

We talk about the pay and who will take care of my daughter then I say, “I accept, but please, call me Mr. Morte.”

 

The End

The Disease Killing Me is You

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

 

Chapter 1 – Infected with You

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

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

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

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

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

“Thank you so much for freeing me!”

“You-”

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

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

“What are you talking about?”

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

“What? Why?”

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

I push her away.

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

“There is no other way.”

She’s climbing all over me now.

“Get off!”

I throw her off me and run out the door.

“You can’t escape from me!”

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

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

“Stay away from me!”

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

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

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

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

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

“What are you going to do?”

“We are going to be one.”

“No, stop!”

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

Huh? What am I feeling now?

AHHHHHHH!

What was that screaming in my head?!

ARRRAAAGHHHHH!

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

ARRRGGHH!!! Yes! Finally!

What did to me and how are our thoughts connected?

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

What do you mean?

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

That’s just great.

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

Why should I trust you?

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

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

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

Woah!

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

Wow. Can we do anything else?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hey! I’m not crazy.

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

I said I’m not crazy.

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

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

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

“I barely remember you. Who are you?”

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

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

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

I guess so.

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

Hey, you used my mouth to talk, Bianco.

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

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

“What do you mean by that?”

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

“No! Explain everything to me first.”

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

“Stop! Get away from me!”

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

Okay!

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

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

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

Here we go.

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

“If you want it, then take it!”

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

I’m on it!

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

Shut the door on her and break the lock!

Right!

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

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

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

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

You know what I think.

Then let’s do it.

 

 

 

Chapter 2 – Still Burning for Love

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

Maybe we should free them?

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

Why do you say it that way?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Can we ever be together again?

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

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

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

My dad?

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

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

“Dad, what is going on?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

We aren’t-

You know we are.

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

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

“Get off!”

Their cold hands drive chills up my spine.

“We must have your skin!”

“Help us leave by being one with us!”

“He’s mine! Hands off him!”

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

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

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

‘I’ll be yours forever.’

‘And I’ll be yours forever and ever.’

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

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

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

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

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

You don’t even need to ask.

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

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

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

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

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

“Dad!”

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

Is he really writing notes on this?

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

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

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

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

That explains a bit more, but not enough.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Look! It’s the other people!

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

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

“Stay away from my children!”

“Be careful with them, Violet!”

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

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

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

Run!

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

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

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

“Fine.”

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

Give me control! That was close!

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

I’ll need to control things from here.

Okay, I trust you.

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

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

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

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

“Fix us, dad, or let us go.”

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

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

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

‘Your sun is always going to shine.’

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

‘My love for you conquers death.’

Our parents always did tell us things like that.

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

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

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

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

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

Thank you. I needed that.

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

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter 3 – Fractured by Desire

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

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

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

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

We’ll figure it out when we leave.

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

You never know. We may change their mind.

It’s only a slim chance.

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

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

This looks like where they do experiments on people.

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

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

If only we only had night vision.

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

Watch out! Got it!

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

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

Knowing doesn’t matter. Just concentrate. There!

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

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

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

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

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

I can hear them clanging on the metal bars.

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

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

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

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

Catch the bar!

I got it!

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

Let’s do this.

One.

Two.

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

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

Can I stop getting grabbed at for once?!

I don’t blame them.

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

“Let us touch your warm body!”

“Give us your warmth!”

“Let us bond like you!”

“We want that bond!”

“Give us your touch!”

Agh! What is that loud screeching sound?

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

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

“Dad?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“I…I don’t know if I can.”

“Ple-”

Why are we puking now?

I don’t know. I feel so weak.

Bianco…

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

“Bianco…Bianca…I’m sorry.”

“Please, dad…help us…”

“I’ll…try.”

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

I trust him. He’s my dad.

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

“Nero!”

Did you hear that?

It’s my mom.

“Violet…”

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

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

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

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

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

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

“We’ll bring them back to life.”

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

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

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

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

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

Okay!

“Watch out, dad!”

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

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

Right.

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

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

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

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

Bianco…I love you too.

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

And I am yours forever and ever.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

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

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

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

No, not anymore. Are you?

Not at all. I never was.

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

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

Yeah, yeah.

You know I’m telling the truth.

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

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

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

I will.

Thank you.

I think that might be the exit over there.

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

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

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

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

Nice plan.

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

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

…right.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The floor beneath us was a trap?

I’ve given up on expecting anything.

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

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

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

“This is amazing. They fused so quickly.”

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

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

“Stop them!”

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

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

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

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

“Nothing was wrong with us to begin with.”

“Wait, you can’t leave…you’ll die…”

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

“No…stop…”

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

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

Bianco?

What is it?

Are we really going to be together forever?

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

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

And I am yours forever and ever.

The End

Desecrating Infestation

Download the story for free on Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/927356

*Notice: This is a story that the squeamish or easily grossed out will likely not enjoy.

Chapter 1 – Infectious Investigation

There’s a strange infection going around in the city of Arklay. Normal people will wake up one day to find insects crawling in their body.  The insects are deep within their skin, but that doesn’t stop normal people from trying to cut them out by themselves. When surgery is done on these people, the insects have to be killed because they’ll try to renter the body of the patient. On further inspection, people infected with this strange condition have various kind of insect eggs within them. These eggs can hatch; maggots, worms, ants, centipedes, millipedes, spiders, cockroaches, hornets, flies, and even butterflies. Even when these eggs are removed, patients who were previously infected have a high chance of being infected again. People who get infected and don’t receive constant treatment die within days depending on the type of insects hatched in their body.

Panic has made people drink insect repellent, commit suicide if infected, or leave the city, which has spread the infection. One of the strangest parts of the infection is that it’s not spread by touch or physical contact. People who wear protective gear have a slightly lower chance of catching the infection, but they still catch it regardless of their gear. Disease control organizations have tracked down these people and are curing these people while experimenting on them to find a cure for the people of Arklay. The infection is now contained within the city with no one allowed to leave or enter besides disease control organizations, which have come from all countries to inspect the bizarre infection.

My name is Silva. I’m an agent and I used to live in Arklay, so I know my way around the city. I’m sent here by the Control and Contain Contaminations (CCC) organization to see if I can find the source of the infection. I’m wearing protective boots, gloves, and a gas mask. Along with a heated knife that can burn whatever it touches once it’s activated, I’m carrying a pistol and in case things get really bad, I have a flamethrower in the back of my truck. Before going in, I check my gear then go in the first building I want to inspect. This was the apartment where the first infected was from. Everyone else in the building was infected after half a month, so this place has been a place of interest with few people making out of it alive.

The first step into the building makes me feel sick. I feel as if I’m going to throw up. The mold, muck, and insect skins that line the wall make me feel slimy. It doesn’t help that the floors feel like I’m walking on mush. Flies, centipedes, hornets, and maggots are all over the place, but it’s like I’m invisible to them. I better not bother them, but then again, the insects born from the infection don’t become hostile for whatever reason. They almost seen unaware of everything around them and only focus on eating like normal bugs. Well, normal bugs that are twice or even three times the size of what they normally are.

The floors are littered with corpses of past human victims some of which barely still have flesh and meat on their bones. These insects are interesting. I’ve touched and dissected every kind that’s come from this disease and their insides are like those of normal insects. Even touching them now as I remove them from crawling on me is like touching a normal bug. I remember being used to bugs and gross things even as a kid. It’s one of the things that made me popular with the boys and unpopular with the girls. This, however, is beyond gross.

It gets worse as I go up towards the room of the first infected. The walls and floors are covered in a thicker slime and harder insect shells. Some of the skeletons on the ground are being picked apart by insects such as hornets and centipedes. It’s strange how these insects eat only the bodies of their human hosts and not any other kind of human flesh. We’ve tested it and they’ve completely ignored the human flesh and went for the normal foods that insects eat as if they only eat the bodies of their hosts. It’s a mystery I’m trying to solve, and I have absolutely no theories as of now. No one, not even the other scientists and agents I work with have any idea as to why this infection started in this city in particular. Hopefully, the answer lies in this room.

As I enter the room of the first infected, I see his decaying corpse on the floor. The room is a nesting ground for hundreds of insects who just crawl or fly around then rest in certain corners of the room before exiting it or resting in their nests. Their nests are nothing but beds for these creatures. These insects can’t even reproduce with one another. Anyways, the first person who was infected received surgery multiple times before giving up on life and died after three days. The insects burst out of his toes, fingers, eyes, mouth, and other areas of his body in a very painful way. Because more people got infected the next day, no one bothered to move his body and the building was eventually condemned.

I’m probably the first person here in a while or at least to my organization’s knowledge. None of the things here look tampered with. There are a lot of personal journal entries. They’re all dirty, but the heat from my knife makes the writing legible. This is the last entry.

“I can feel the pain getting worse. The damn bugs have started crawling out of my skin, so I don’t have much time. Why did I ever get this disease? I’ve never been seriously dirty or sick in my life. I’ve never been in a dirty place, so why me? Was it something I did? I don’t think I’ve ever seriously hurt someone. Did someone curse me because they didn’t like me? Is the end of the world going to happen soon? Is something biohazardous beneath the city? Are the insects going through some kind of natural evolution? I don’t know. I’m just a normal guy.”

There’s nothing here I can work with. Perhaps I can find something on his body. This isn’t exactly the best place to dissect his body, but it can’t be moved because it’s so embedded to the floor. Part of him will have to be destroyed anyway so I might as well look through it while I can. I take out my knife and start cutting in his body. There is nothing but broken eggs here and other insects who were using the body as a resting place. Oh? There’s a kind of weird fungus growing his body. I haven’t seen this weird black and green grown in the other infected bodies. This will be useful, so I carefully cut the fungus off and…it’s another insect. It’s a hybrid of a worm and millipede. I put the insect in a secure bag that will keep it fresh.

Huh? Something crawls out of the muck in the ceiling. A flying scorpion with spider legs. It doesn’t look friendly or passive like the other insects. I quickly bring up my heated knife in time to burn away the string it shoots at me. Since it’s going to be that way, I lunge forward and slice the scorpion in two. Two more scorpions come out of the muck and try to catch me, but since I know their tricks, I cut them down easily. Uck. I stepped in the webs. It’s pretty sticky. I have to heat up the knife in order to cut through it. These scorpions may be in pieces, but they might still be useful, so I put them in my secure bags.

When I exit the room, more scorpions attack me, I wonder what effect a gun will have. Oh. So, it takes two shots to kill one. Even so, it’s still struggling to hold onto life. More scorpions start crawling out of the walls, so I make my way out of the apartment while shooting them down and defending myself. These things are stubborn. When I leave the apartment, the bust through the windows and doors. I run to my car and break out my flamethrower. I have no choice but to light the entire apartment on fire since the scorpions won’t stop coming. It’s a shame I had to do this but-ah! I got all these bugs on me. Before I go anywhere, I change my clothes and burn my outfit. I then give my findings and report to the higher-ups who thank me and tell me they’ll have something for me by tomorrow since my findings are new.

As soon as I get home, I take a shower just to make sure I’m clean. I walk out to the balcony outside my room and look out at Arklay. I wonder what happened to my home. It used to be so peaceful, and now, it’s the center of attention because it’s infected with mysterious insects. My mom and dad used to live here. I wonder what they would think of this. I’ll get to the bottom of this.

The local news reports more infected people. Sewers and other dirty parts of the city are starting to crawl with these new kinds of insects along with the muck they bring along. They also talk about the fire I’ve started, but they don’t know about why it started nor the evidence I collected. Conspiracy theories will start cropping up if they haven’t done so already. I might’ve had some of my own if I didn’t know that all of the disease organizations don’t have a clue about what’s going on. I hope we get some answers soon…before this situation gets worse.

 

 

Chapter 2 – Sacrilegious Scum

During the next morning, I wake up to a message from my superiors. They tell me that they’ve found a sort of insect repellent. The fungus from the first infected is acidic to insects born from infected people, but it’s harmless to normal people. We’ve already tested this repellent out in normal people, and they don’t appear to have any side effects. When a person is injected with this repellent, the insects will cower away from them. They tell me this could be useful if I find any more scorpions or other bugs like them. It’s a risk to take this serum especially since it’s only been tested a few times on people, so I respond to their message by turning it down until there have been more tests. They say they understand then wish me luck in my investigation today.

I hope they weren’t wishing to use me as a test subject. My organization does consist of people with good intentions, but good intentions don’t always mean good methods. Whatever the case is, I head out today to the under part of the city. An earthquake hit this city one day and destroyed it. A new city was built on top of it, and the city below acts as a sort of pseudo home for the homeless. Once the insect disease became a serious problem for the city, the lower parts of the city became a home to a cult that worships the insects as servants of their insect god or whatever. It’s lunacy in my opinion. Because the cult views the disease as more of a blessing than a curse, they’ve tried everything in their power to get the disease themselves and even kidnap other people in the hopes of “ascending” or becoming honorable hosts of their insect god.

Since this might get messy, I’ve brought a small submachine gun in case I have to do some crowd control. I’ve also gotten fuel for my flamethrower and left extra in the back of my car. When I get to one of the entrances, I find some of the muck and insect skins. This is a bad sign since this stuff usually grows near highly infected areas. I equip my gas mask and go into the darkness to find a dead body that has recently died. Hornets, roaches, and spiders crawl out of the body’s skin and feast on its organs. A body this close to the public isn’t safe, so I use my knife’s blade to set the body on fire. I’m probably going to need to use it more if this is what I see when I first walk in. If that’s the case, I go back to my car and bring my flamethrower with me.

When I get back, I start burning whatever corpse nests I see. There were reports of people getting infected around here. Before we thought it had to do something with the cult abducting people, but now…that point still stands, however, we didn’t know about people dying around here. I send a message to my superiors to tell them to send clean-up crews to the other old city entrances. They message me back that they’re sending them right away. I can’t imagine how bad old city is if the way to it is littered with corpses.

The walls, ceiling, and floors of this pathway look stranger than what I saw at the apartments. It’s almost if some of this muck is made of human remains. Let’s just see to make sure. I cut open some of the muck and…ah! Yup. A human skull that’s split into three pieces falls from the ceiling where I cut. I didn’t know the insects could do this. Some of the fresher human remains look downright still alive with arms and legs reaching out as if calling for help. There are also human faces with their expressions still stuck in pain and fear.

Further into the passage, I find the old city. It’s in ruins with half-destroyed buildings barely hanging together due to the muck that the insects made. Hornets and butterflies the size of bikes fly around the large space above the city and pick at the dirt walls surrounding them. They could be trying to move out of this place to find food. This place has to be burned down, but it’s sitting in a place that could do serious damage to the city. We’re going to have to meticulously burn the muck from this place so Arklay can be safe. I wonder if the cult planned it so things would be this way.

The cult’s hideout is supposed to be further into the city. I have to cut my way through thick muck and the corpses of the infected in order to get to a church with the mark of the cult. Various huge insects are on display as if they were holy icons. There’s a bee the size of a car crucified in at the head of the altar. Maybe I don’t even need to question the cult members in order to find something that will be useful to me. I doubt any of them are alive after finding so many corpses. To start my search, I start cutting open the bodies of the insects to find more of the black and green fungus. Taking it might wake up those scorpions from before, so I leave it alone for now.

I heard screaming just now! There’s someone still alive, so I head over to the source of the noise to find a homeless woman being sexually assaulted by a grasshopper the size of a couch that looks like it’s mixed with fire ants. I didn’t know these insects could be so sick. Using my submachine gun, I light the grasshopper up until it dies. It takes half a clip to put it down. Even then, I have to stab it multiple times with my knife in order to kill it.

“Are you okay?” I ask the woman.

She tries talking, but she holds onto her stomach and screams in pain. Within seconds, three fire ants are burst from her stomach. I kill these abominations then take a second to collect myself. My mind is struggling to believe in the existence of these creatures. They’re so vile and now there’s a new terrifying variation of them. I guess I can’t get nauseous now, so I inspect the bodies of the dead woman. It appears that she’s been assaulted before judging by the condition of her genitals and stomach. There are eggs in her body with still dormant fire ants in them. It seems like she might’ve given birth multiple times to these insects. I take the eggs with me for further study.

Looking into the grasshopper, I find various new organs that I’ve never seen before. It’s probably the reason as to how it can reproduce with humans. I can’t drag this thing out by myself, so I leave it here for now. Damn thing is an abomination. I never want to see another one as I live, but I don’t think I’ll be that lucky.

I hear footsteps approaching me, so I take out my submachine gun and aim forward. It looks like a cult member. He’s wearing a black and green robe with the cult’s symbol on it.

“Are you here to help us?” he asks.

“I’m here to get rid of this plague. I’m not here to help your psychotic cult.”

“I know it looks bad, but I’m not with these guys. I’m just a normal doctor, who infiltrated the group to figure out a cure for the disease. I thought that I could get some of the insect’s blood and possibly make a cure.”

“You should leave it to the bigger disease control organizations. Lucky for you, I’m with them to help out.”

“Those organizations didn’t come here until a month after the disease was discovered. The damage done to the city and its people in that timeframe is unrepairable. Your people have no idea what it’s been like. We live in fear of randomly catching this disease every day of our life and you come here and think you’re doing us a favor.”

“Hey, I’m from this city. The CCC is doing its best to destroy this disease. They’re just playing it safe because we have no idea what’s happening. If we just acted without caution, then a lot more people could suffer.”

“I guess you got a point. I’ll share my findings with your organization. There’s nothing else for me to find here.”

“What happened here?”

“This? It’s been like this for a while. The cult’s been breeding these monsters because they thought they were divine.”

“What about these grasshoppers?”

“These atrocities could reproduce with men and women, and let me tell you, it was not a pretty sight especially for the men.”

“How were these things made?”

“I don’t know to be honest with you. It just seems like the more the area is infected, the weirder and more frightening insects begin to spawn from the waste these creatures make and from the infected.”

The two of us hear gunfire in the distance.

“The information you have will be useful to us, doctor. Let’s get out of here. The CCC should be here.”

“Thank you. I can’t stand being here anymore.”

The doctor and I run out to the streets of the old city to find a CCC clean-up crew in high-quality hazmat gear. They’re using a more powerful version of the flamethrower I have called Hellfire. I’d love to use that version one day or at least the Purgatory version of it. We come across more grasshoppers and flying scorpions as we try to join the hazmats. I have to use all of my submachine gun and flamethrower ammo in order to break through the hordes of mutated insects.

I go up to one of them and say, “Cover us while we leave and watch out for huge grasshoppers.”

“You got it, Silva. We’re going to turn this place into a furnace.”

“Don’t get too carried away hotheads. This place could come down around us if you burn too much.”

The doctor and I make it out of the old city. Before we go to my superiors, I get us a change of clothes then burn our previous outfits. The CCC better compensate me for all of the outfits I’m going to burn. After that, I drop him off with the eggs I found. Again, I am greatly thanked with the scientists and doctor exchanging friendly dialogue. They tell me that they should make great strides in their research because of my efforts. I say goodbye then take my leave.

When I get back home to my apartment, I take a shower then look out at the city. What have I been doing with my life? I’ve been trying to stand out and do the extraordinary for my entire life. Starting with acting like the boys then becoming a cleaner for the CCC. I wonder what it’s like to live a normal life. I’ve seen so many happy normal people in my life that I’ve lost count. They might’ve been struggling financially, but at least they were happy in their families. When this job is done, I’ll appreciate the little things more. I’ll watch the sunrise, hang out with friends, get a hobby, and maybe start a family. Yeah…that sounds good. Really good in fact.

 

Chapter 3 – Experimental Execration

It’s early in the morning and I can’t go back to sleep for some reason. I guess I was thinking more about what I was thinking about yesterday. What did I do in my life that didn’t concern study and acts to gain attention? Nothing, but I bunch of small events that don’t give me a warm feeling. I know dozens of people who can tell me heartwarming stories that bring smiles to everyone around them. They told simple stories, and to be honest, I don’t talk to anyone anymore, but still. I should stop moping about this and get back to work.

Soon after eating breakfast, I get a message from work that they’re working on a cure to the infection. Their testing is going well so far, however, they still want me to go out to see if I can find anything else to speed the process along or find something more potent they can use. They want me to look into a hospital that the doctor came from. It’s been condemned for a while since so much of it has been infected. The muck from the inside of the hospital has been seeping out of the building. Even the ground around the hospital has been reported to smell like rotting flesh with something leaking out of it.

It sounds bad and like what old city was like, so I agree to go there and head out with some new weapons. I’ve swapped out my submachine gun with a sawed-off double barrel shotgun. If I’m going to be in close quarters, then this is going to be incredibly useful. I managed to get a better flamethrower, which is called Purgatory. Hopefully, I get to try out Hellfire soon.

When I arrive at the hospital, I find it in a worse state than described. The muck has spread further out into the streets and into nearby buildings. Insects are crawling to and from the hospital to wherever the muck reaches. This entire block has been quarantined., but it should be destroyed. I don’t know about the nearby buildings and if they’re infested as well. They might be judging by all of the insects crawling and flying around here. More people will have to be brought in for a clean-up job this big.

I’d better get in there to fix what’s going on before it gets worse. Despite it being morning, the inside of the building is almost pitch black with the hospital’s lights flickering on and off. The lights should’ve been turned off a while ago, so someone must be here now or have been here recently. Maybe they were here to get medicine or maybe it was another disease control organization looking around here for research. I think this place might be worse than the old city. The muck here looks flesh-like and disgusting.

Some of the muck here is even pulsating like a beating heart. Eck. Before I have a chance to touch it, I hear glass being broken. When I run to check it, I find a person raiding a supply closet for pills and syringes. They’re wearing a bunch of heavy clothing as if wearing a makeshift hazmat suit.

I call out to them, “Hey! You can’t be here!”

“Screw you! You hazmats do nothing but burn our city to ashes.”

“That’s not true. Get out of here before you get sick. I’ll keep you safe.”

“The only safe place is outside the city and you people won’t let us leave.”

The person leans forward as to catch themselves as they slipped. What the hell? Part of the wall came to life. No. It was a moth the size of half the wall. The large winged insect has a mouth on its chest and a sharp syringe-like stinger. It attacks the person by latching onto them in the blink of an eye. It then eats the person’s body while its stinger is lodged in the person’s forehead. Before I can fire a shot, the insect dies and transforms the person into a corpse. Their arms, chest, and face are transformed into that of a praying mantis. I can see their organs through their see-through chest and their legs seem to have been split in two. How could a transformation like this happen within seconds?

The mutant appears to be dead, but their body is steaming and quivering. It just stopped moving. I can’t get any samples from the moth since it shriveled up and breaks at the slightest touch. It’s as if it transferred all of its energy into the person. As I approach the mutant, it leaps up with its legs and almost decapitates me. Reacting quickly, I shoot its head with my double barrel to send it into the wall. It twitches a few times before immediately getting back up to slash wildly at me. With another shot from my double barrel, I shoot one of its legs off. This thing is so damn stubborn and refuses to die, so I stab it with my knife set at the highest heat, which finally kills it. What a pain.

Huh? I heard something moving in the vents. There’s no time to waste. I cut off whatever I find on the mutant and bring it with me. Before I can get too far, a sharp limb comes out from the vents and almost stabs me in the face. I dodge it, but then another limb comes out to try to get me. I have to lay low as multiple limbs come out to try to cut my head off. There are more of these things? Why didn’t they ambush me before? I guess I must’ve woken them up.

The mutants in the vents just stopped. That’s a relief, but…there we go. It seems like they stopped just to try to get me off guard. Moths from the ceiling and floor begin to attack me and the mutants start dropping from the ceiling. I haven’t even reloaded my double barrel yet and I doubt it’s going to be effective in this situation. There’s no chance for me to get out of this alive without using my flamethrower, so I start burning this place down. It does wonders against the moths and mutants, but the rest of the hospital catches fire quickly.

From what the doctor said in his message, he said he left some notes in his office as to where he thought the most likely place the infection started in. I go to his office while burning whatever remotely looks alive. Damn it. These things are sacrificing themselves to put out the fires. I’m going to have to really spend all my fuel in this place. I set fire to multiple places in the hospital including an electrical room so that it causes an explosion and more flames. That should keep them distracted, but it puts me on a tight time limit.

Searching through the doctor’s office, I find notes saying that the city deposits all of its wastes beneath the city since its far from civilization and hasn’t harmed anyone for the years they’ve done it, but the doctor thought that it might’ve caused the insects to mutate into what they are now. There are also notes here that say the doctor and his associates did experiments on the infected and the bugs before any of the disease control organizations arrived. Some of the tests ended with a mutation in the insects, which explains what I saw. Okay, this is good enough, but I have to burn down this building to keep the rest of the city safe.

I go out of the office to find the mutants and moths heading downstairs while completely ignoring me. Maybe there’s something important they’re protecting. I follow them into the second-floor basement to find a beehive-like heart that takes up most of the room. The insects are sacrificing themselves to snuff out the fire while a small horde of them stands guard. The guard stares me down while hissing at me. You guys made a big mistake putting your hive here. I load my double barrel and shoot the sensitive machines in the room then switch to my flamethrower to light the rest of the place on fire.

This causes a chain reaction and now the entire building is starting to collapse. I run with everything I got then jump out of the exit as the building collapses onto itself. Dozens of insects, special insects like the scorpions and grasshoppers along with the mutants, and the moths flee from the neighboring abandoned buildings and into the city. This isn’t good. The city is in chaos as everyone who can fight, fights against the hordes of insects. I should make my way back to my superiors while cleaning up my mess. I’m sure they’d fire me if I didn’t.

The situation calms down after an hour and a half of burning, shooting, and stabbing. I’ve seen dozens of people die as a result of what I’ve done, but it’s also not my fault! How was I supposed to know this was going to happen?! I was just doing my job! Or am I just making excuses? This reminds me of the many times I’ve had to burn infected people alive along with everything they have like a maniacal arsonist. I can’t think about that now. That was just part of my job to keep people safe.

With no time to waste, I change my outfit, burn my original, then head off to report to my superiors. Their base hasn’t fared well in the attack with parts of it destroyed along with bodies on the ground most of which are getting burned to ashes. I give them my report and they tell me that I shouldn’t feel bad because I was just doing my job.

“Sometimes you can’t expect everything to go your way”, they tell me.

I already know that. They don’t seem too bothered by what happened. In fact, they tell me my findings along with the free subjects I’ve brought them will accelerate the completion of the cure. I ask them about that, and they tell me that they should have one made in a day or two, though the test versions they have were all destroyed in the attack. It’s a shame for the people who were infected and are now infected. They give me new supplies and my Hellfire flamethrower with plenty of fuel as a reward. It’s strange getting it now. I don’t feel like I deserve it, but I take it with a smile a thank you before heading home for some rest.

After showering like always, I take a look out at the city to see the destruction that I’ve caused. Most of the city lights are dark with fires being lit, which are probably burning bodies. I recognize the all too familiar smell. I hope my efforts have helped in some way. Huh? My skin feels itchy. That’s strange-

“AAAAAAHHHHHH!”

I scream as I see roaches, millipedes, and worms crawling around in my skin…I’m infected…

 

 

 

Chapter 4 – Revolting Roots

What did I do wrong? I’ve taken every precautious to stay clean. I burned my clothes, cleaned myself thoroughly, and have always kept my hands clean. Is this for what I’ve done in the past? All the lives I’ve taken for the greater good. All the lives I’ve burned down to keep people healthy and safe. Did I do too much? Were my excuses not enough to cover for my actions?

Is this for not caring about the people around me as much as I should? I do care about people, but I separate myself from others. When it’s time to work, I separate myself from what I do. I become a tool for the CCC and do what I’m told because I trust them and their goals. When I had the choice, the CCC looked like the most ethical organization, but are we? Do we focus too much on the ends rather than the means?

This kind of thinking is making my mind go in circles. It’s the infection’s fault. My skin is so itchy because of the insects crawling around in it. It’s so uncomfortable and chilling being like this. I was used to insects crawling on me, but them crawling in me is completely different. It’s like someone constantly lightly scratching the inside of every part of your body. I can feel them everywhere. In my skin, face, stomach, legs, and arms. Last night, I thought I was imagining things and thought that some sleep would help me, but it hasn’t. It’s gotten worse. I don’t feel so good, so I go to the bathroom and try taking normal medication that’s supposed to suppress the disease-!

Blech! I can’t believe it. I just barfed out a centipede the size of my arm. I still feel sick. My stomach is killing me and so is my bladder. This is terrible. Living with this disease is worse than I thought. I can’t hold it in anymore. This is getting even worse somehow! I crap and pee out insects. Why is this happening to me?! I put on my shower and set it to the highest temperature. This calms down my stomach and the bugs within my skin. It even manages to shrink some of them. No wonder why so many people kill themselves when they’re infected. Living like this is hell.

There have to be surgeons at the CCC base. I don’t care what kind of surgery or medicine they give me. I’ll do anything to get rid of this infection inside me. After hastily dressing, I go to my superiors and explain my situation to them. They tell me that they don’t currently have anything to suppress the infection or get rid of it as of now. The research they’ve done has come to a halt because of the attack and the complexity of the virus.

“There might not be a chance I can be cured or even relieved of my pain,” they say.

I almost lose my composure until they mention that they know where the source of the infection is. It’s exactly where the doctor thought it was. There’s a chance that the infection will be destroyed when the source is killed. They think this is correct because the CCC and other organizations have been finding the hives I found yesterday. When the hives are destroyed, the nearby bugs and mutants will go into a rampage to try to infect other people before dying shortly after. The scientists theorize that these hives act as field officers for their leader down below who controls the rest of them. If that’s what it takes to be cured, then I’ll do it. My superiors say that if the infection is not stopped today, then the government will have no choice but to destroy the city. I don’t know why I don’t care about it, however, I have to for the sake of everyone that lives here.

Before we go out, we operatives are armed with Hellfire flamethrowers, fireproof hazmat suits, satchel charges, fire grenades, and magnums as a last resort. I don’t know if they meant for us to use it to kill ourselves or to use on the insects, but I’ll take it as both. The CCC and other disease control organizations team up together to attack this threat from all sides. The best way to get to the city’s waste disposal site is through the old city. As we move our forces through there, we are ambushed by mutants, grasshoppers, and scorpions.

Whatever is controlling the insects must be feeling defensive because we’ve gotten rid of their forces on the surface. The fighting is long and intense with dozens of casualties despite our advanced equipment. Our forces are cut in half by the time we reach the halfway point. The way down is littered with corpses, toxic waste, trash, muck from the insects, insect shells, and excrement from the sewers. No wonder why there are so many insects down here. There are large rodents and stray animals down here, but it looks like they became hosts. Some of them look like they were fighting against the insects, however, they’re all dead and we’ve never seen them before, so we’re facing a more powerful and intelligent force than we thought.

We lose fewer people from this point on as we get used to the insect’s combined attacks and ambushes. The disease is me is starting to bother me again. When I’m not using my flamethrower, the disease almost seems to slowly grow. I’m getting sicker and sicker with each passing moment. I can tell other people are infected as well because of the way they’re acting. A few of the people we lost along the way succumbed to the infection, so we had to put them out of their misery then burn their bodies. I’ve known some of these people for years, but only on a surface layer. There are a couple of people that talked to me along the way down as if we were friends for years. I wouldn’t know. Thirty-five percent of our combined forces survive the long walk down to the source of the infection.

What we find at the disposal site is an army of all kind of insects along with a hive that looks more like a spiraling tower than a hive. Without a moment’s hesitation, we get to work in destroying everything around us. We unload all of our fire grenades that we have and those that we collected off our fallen. This gets a nice fire going. We use this fire as a barrier to keep away what’s ever coming to us as we approach the main hive. When we get to it, we plant all the charges we have then make our way back the way we came in.

Once we blow the charges, the hive lights up as if it was the center of the earth. Most of the insects go on a frenzy while the lesser ones die off one by one. The group loses more people as we escape the collapsing tunnel. We lose even more people the frenzied insects until I think I’m the only one who’s left. I wouldn’t know if anyone else is alive because I just cared about my own survival without thinking about anyone else.

Damn, the way I came in collapses on itself. I go through a tighter portion of the old city as it falls around me. Everything I had to protect myself is dropped including my hazmat suit. That’s how tight the way I’m going is. I see a light ahead. I’m almost there! When I emerge from the ruins, the ground begins to collapse as well, so I keep on running for my life. Buildings around me are collapsing to the ground and people are running for cover. I yell at them to run away from the city. Some listen to me, others don’t, and most die because of the destruction.

By the time I get to safe ground, the city has a massive hole in it that I can’t see the bottom of. Oh, wait a second! I don’t feel any bugs crawling around my skin! I can’t even feel anything that feels like a bug in it. I’m cured! Even though I’m elated, everyone around me is sad because their homes are destroyed. It used to be my home as well, but I don’t feel the same as they do. I feel like I’ve been in a situation like this before. It doesn’t matter. I report back to my superiors and they celebrate. We have a funeral for those who died then a party for our victory the next day outside the city.

From the view I have, I look back at what used to be the home I grew up in. It looks like a mini-apocalypse happened there. I doubt anyone is going to live there for a while especially since the CCC needs to double clean it to make sure no trace of the infection still exists. As for me, I take a vacation. My superiors are surprised since they usually have to force me to take breaks, but they approve of it, especially because of all the work I did. The CCC is recognized as the main contributor to ending the virus because of our research and clean-up efforts. I’m given three weeks off and told that I can have the month off if I so decided. I’ll think about it. It depends on how good this normal life I’ve heard so much about is like.

Huh? Is that a-Oh. It’s just a normal sized cockroach. I’m so used to seeing them big sized that the normal sized one surprises me. I’ve had enough of bugs for a lifetime, so I squish the roach then get in my car and head off to the shore. I heard it’s beautiful and full of people this time of year.

 

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

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.