Always One Step from Hell

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Chapter 1 – Lechery

It’s just another day. Nothing special. I clean the house, the yard, clothes, and everything else my husband and I own. My husband or my knight, I should say, is out fighting battles on behalf of God. He was never one for fighting, so I guess his calling is true. The Church is the only way I’m able to have this house and food on the table. In return, I act like a good Catholic wife and help the community if needed.

My life right now is rather drab. My knight left a few days after our wedding, so I don’t even have any children to raise, unlike my sisters and friends. I don’t even know if my husband will come back from the war. To give my life a little bit more spice, I’ve written short stories for the children I’ll hopefully get. I’ve also been practicing my drawing skills, so my husband has nice pictures and decorations to see when he comes home. Maybe the other people will see the drawings when I draw them outside and keep me company. We’re all friendly around here, but not exactly friends. I wish we were. It’s so lonely.

But it doesn’t have to be. There are some good men out there who could take care of me. My knight won’t know if I’m smart about it.

No, that’s a terrible thought. Did I really just think that? I hope not. This mundane life is getting my imagination going.  Sweep, dust, cut, wash, yadda, yadda. Sometimes I like to think I’m a princess in the making like those fairytales. I have my knight. All I need to do is make this humble home into a small castle.

I can do it with the right men. I’m sure they’ll do it for a young woman like myself. My looks got me married, so I’m sure they’ll get some men to work for me, especially if I flash a little skin at them.

Again, with these thoughts. I swear I’m not thinking of them myself. Maybe if I rest a bit outside of this dusty house, I can clear my head. The porch outside is one of the only things I’ve completely cleaned. I wonder what’s it’s going to be like outside here when I get kids. We have enough space out front for the kids to play without them getting in the way of people walking.

There are plenty of men out there who could give us wonderful children. There are rich, muscular, and hardworking men that walk these streets.

What’s going on? What’s with the look in their face? There’s something about them that makes them seem so…attractive. How can I smell them from here when they’re so far away? That masculine smell is intoxicating.

Why don’t you ask one of them out?

N-no. My life is fine with just one man in my life.

One man who might end up dead. Why not have one on standby just in case?

Hold on. Why are they walking towards me? What’s with the look on their faces?

They want you, Anita. Who doesn’t want an attractive housewife who’s good at taking care of her house? Look at them. Stare into the bright red light of their eyes and take their hands.

I…I’m going inside. I still have a few more things I want to do. What was that voice in my head? It sounded like me, but it said my name? Am I possessed or something? Holy Mary Mother of God pray for me a sinner and help me suffer through these temptations I’ve been given. I just have to get my mind off of it. Maybe I can read a book or two. Aaah! They’re coming in.

“Let us clean for you, Anita.”

“A princess in rags is no princess at all. Let us get you something wonderful to dress in.”

“Beautiful woman, who is confined to her house, let us ease your burdens.”

“Thank you for your concern, but I don’t need your help-hey! Let me down! Where are you taking me?! Aaaaaah!”

I manage to fall off them as they carried me, but I fell a long distance and now I’m in this town of arms? Why’s it so dark all of the sudden? The buildings, ground, and faceless people are made up of arms. I can feel them touching my feet as I walk over them. They feel so wrong but so right-stop! This is wrong! Who is that flying over here? Is that me? No, it isn’t, but she looks like me. Her eyes are angled strangely, and her long thick brown hair is the only thing covering her body.

“Do you feel them, Anita? They want you to embrace them.”

“You’re that voice I heard in my head! I have to mentally pray you away.”

“That’s not going to do anything. I always come back. Maybe it’s God’s will for you to embrace your desires.”

“No, He doesn’t!”

“How do you know what the will of God is? Oh, by all means, keep praying. It’s clearly helping you.”

The hands in the ground have me stuck in place! I can’t free myself from them.

“Get away from me!”

“These people made of hands only want to please you. Let them.”

“I won’t!”

I can’t break away from their arms! There’s too many of them.

“You’re a lonely housewife who wants her husband to come home to pleasure her. Why not do the job yourself or get someone else to do it?”

“I can wait for him to come home. I can!”

“Can you truly wait for him? Your resistance is fading. Your mind is numbing, and your control is fading. How long can you last?”

Fatigue is setting in. I’m so tired of not having any kind of meaningful relief in my life. All I get are small doses of fun and relaxation, but then I get back to my boring life. I need…I need…I need to…stay faithful. One mortal sin of being unfaithful to God and my husband can rightfully send my soul to Hell. I can already feel the heat from the Netherworld cooking my skin. My body is already so close to it that the demons are reaching out from it and use the tips of their fingers to scratch my face. I won’t let them have me!

“Until my death!”

I can feel my strength coming back to me. Yes! I can finally break through. I can get up-

“Ow!”

I hit my head on a cabinet. I must’ve fallen asleep while working. It looks like I slept through the night. Even though I slept in an uncomfortable place, I feel fine, but what was that dream?

 

 

Chapter 2 – Gula

My parish priest should know what’s going on with me. I talk with him and he tells me that I’m just facing normal temptations for being a devout wife and faithful Catholic. The more vivid dreams are just the demons taking advantage of my creative mind to tempt me in different ways. After confessing some unconfessed sins that I forgot to tell him last time, he reassures me that I’m a faithful wife and my knight is lucky to have me as his princess. He also reassures me that my knight will come back one day, maybe even earlier than I think. I thank him and tell him I’ll see him on Sunday.

Okay, I guess I’m not crazy. I just have to deal with these temptations for however long I’m supposed to. Temptations are supposed to show me my weaknesses and help me work to be a better servant of God. I can beat them if another comes my way. In the meantime, I have to do my grocery shopping for the week. The market is decently packed, so shopping should be easy today.

I should treat myself to more than usual. I have been working hard. I’ve been waiting for the perfect occasion to buy sweets and other ingredients to make the perfect meal for myself. There’s a discount on everything I want to, so this is the perfect opportunity to buy everything I want. It’s a lot to carry, but I can handle it.

Oh, now that I think about it, I might’ve gotten too much. Carrying all of this now is putting a real strain on my arms. I can’t return it, so…oh, there are some poor people on the street. I might as well give some of it to them.

“Bless your wonderful soul, miss! You will be in my prayers from this day forth!”

“I appreciate it. Thank you.”

“No, thank you. My prayers are the least I can do for you.”

At least I made someone’s day. The amount of food I’ve given away has really lightened what I need to carry. Oh, someone dropped some of their money.

“Hey! Excuse me! Mister? Ah!”

He’s not listening to me and the hole in his pockets makes him drop a little bit every time he moves erratically. I could just walk away or keep following him for more. No one is watching me pick up his loose change-Nevermind. It’s not worth it. I don’t need more money for myself. I’m fine the way I am.

“Excuse me!!!!!”

“Hello, miss. Is something the matter?”

“You’ve been dropping all the money in your pocket through the holes in your pants. Here’s everything I found.”

“Thank you, so much-ow! What is it, honey?”

“I told you that we should get those pants fixed! Thank you, miss. You have our gratitude and you will be in our prayers tonight.”

“You’re welcome. I’ll be sure to pray for you as well.”

“Pray for my husband. He’s going to need it.”

My husband better not do what hers did. He’ll be needing prayers too if he does. Back at home, I find some of the stuff I thought I gave away. That’s weird. I guess I bought extra, but I don’t think the price I paid reflected that. I’m not too good at math, so maybe I did. Again, I can’t return this, so I might as well enjoy the little that’s here. It’s not bad to treat myself a little every now and then.

Speaking about that, I could use new clothes. I could give what I have to the poor and give myself the new and pretty stuff. The clothes I have are becoming ugly. I’m sure the poor won’t mind it as long as it makes them comfortable for the weather outside. My closet holds a variety of clothes for the season, so I’m sure they’d appreciate it.

No, I’m fine with what I have. It’s not like I can’t fix the little tears in the clothes. I don’t go to any parties or fancy events to need better clothes. All I do is keep the house clean. I would ruin the expensive clothing and they would just take up space in my already tight closet, so there’s even less of a reason to buy them.

Hmmm, the food tastes good already. I’m going to eat a bit more for taste testing reasons. I could eat all of it right now. The ingredients I have make a good meal the way they are right now. Why should I wait until it becomes a complete meal? Sure, I could get sick, but…

Ew, now that I think about it, why did it taste good the way it is? Everything is barely cooked. Why did I like eating this raw meat to begin with? Am I that hungry? It won’t be that long until everything is ready, so I’ll wait.

Okay, almost…done! Everything smells delicious. It’s time to dig in! Yes! I’ve been waiting for this-I forgot to say grace. I know it’s not required, but I should be thankful for my meal at least before eating. I shouldn’t dig in like a pig either…okay. Now, I’ll eat.

I’m surprised I haven’t gotten any temptations yet though it feels like I have. Wait, have I? I think I have when I was shopping and cooking. These temptations don’t leave me alone even after going to confession. At least I didn’t give into them…I think. Eck. What’s this stuff on the table?

It feels like a greasy substance. I don’t think I dropped anything while cooking or eating. Where is this coming from? Now more of the table feels like it. Huh? There’s more of it. The house feels like it’s sweating this disgusting sticky substance. What’s going on? Huh? Someone came into the house? She looks like that previous demon that tempted me before except this one is fat and wears all black with black shoes. Her hair is extremely long and thick…almost thought something dirty there.

“Indulge yourself, honey. You deserve it.”

My table is full of food now even though I just ate everything.

“No, I’m not hungry. I’ve had my fill.”

“You haven’t had this kind of food in a while and you’re a hard-working woman.”

“I already gave myself a little bit more extra. I don’t need anymore.”

“Listen to yourself. You can feel how hungry you still are. Smell the food. Isn’t it delicious?”

It does smell delicious and it’s starting to make me feel hungry even though I feel full at the same time. I need to pray for strength.

“I…I just feel hungry, but I’m not. Leave me.”

“Just look at yourself. Your skin craves nourishment.”

“AAAAAAHHHHH!!!!”

There are mouths all over my arms, face, and I can feel them all over me. They crave food and drink. Their appetites will never be satisfied until they eat everything on the table and more. I…I won’t give in!

“I’m not some ravenous animal.”

Maybe I can cut off these mouths-Ah! One caught the blade with its mouth-Ahhhh! Then ate it and spat it out at me and now the blade of the knife is stuck in the ceiling. Thankfully, I avoided it without a scratch. I can’t remove these mouths with my hands either because they’re biting at me.

“Look at you. You can barely control yourself.”

“I can control myself!”

I have to get away from this food, but the floors are so slippery. It’s so hard to move around here. Great. One of the hands ate the door handle and I can’t get out this way. The smell of the food follows me through the house as I search for a way out.

“You can’t escape your temptations no matter how much you pray.”

“I can endure it!”

The mouths on my hands and feet try eating the floors and things around them. There has to be a way out of this. The way to control myself is primarily through prayer and self-control. Maybe I just have to forcibly shut the mouths on my body through my will. Here we go. I’m struggling to keep all of these mouths shut and I can’t move.

“Hey! Get that food away from me! I don’t need it!”

“Come on. Open up wide!”

I…have to…control myself! Don’t open your mouth. Don’t think about food. I’m not hungry. I don’t need anything to eat. I’m fine the way I am. Okay, I’m feeling better now. Huh? I must’ve eaten so much that I ate myself into a food coma. There’s a mess on the table and parts of the house seem dirtier than before for some reason. Thank you, God it isn’t greasy. There’s still some time in the day, so I might as well clean up. That’s another temptation overcome. This is difficult, but I can do this. I hope I can.

 

 

 

Chapter 3 – Avaritia

So far, I haven’t had any temptations today. Maybe my habit of saying the rosary has finally allowed me to take a break today. It’s either that or I’m too strong to be tempted. I hope that wasn’t me being prideful. Anyway, I managed to get a lot of cleaning done today and a surprise letter came in the mail. It’s from my knight.

The date on it says that he wrote it only a couple days ago. He should be coming home soon, and he mentions the kinds of things we’ll do when he gets home. Of course, I won’t mention everything since it’s…private, but he will make up for the time we lost. The money he’s earned for his services should keep him home long enough for both of us to take care of our children. He’ll have to get a normal job after, but at least we can raise our children together.

It’s almost time for bed. Something seems to be happening in town. I hear someone call for help and that they’ve been robbed by a thief. Looking outside, I see a man in black running away from city guards. Thieves aren’t common in this town since it’s a small town with nothing much to it other than its serenity. The thief seems to have dropped a few things while being chased. Since the guards didn’t pick up what was dropped, I go outside to see what was dropped and find a bunch of expensive looking jewelry.

No one else is out here, so I might as well take it. Who knows if that thief is out here alone? Maybe there’s another one out here who he dropped this jewelry here for? I pick everything up from the ground and make my way towards the jail. There I can leave the stolen items so the owner can pick them back up. Even though I don’t get anything out of it other than thanks, I should still make sure that someone responsible has it rather than just leave it here.

Or, I could just keep it for myself. No one else is out here and my house is a short distance away.

No, I…damn temptations. I’m bringing this to safety. There’s more on the ground. I guess I have to pick this up too since it seems like everyone else in town is sleeping. The trail of riches leads me to a house. This is weird. It seems like the guards didn’t catch the thief here. Maybe the thief thought he could drop off some of his stuff here or is this his house? Oh? There’s a hidden switch where some of this treasure is. Oh my, I find a basement filled with gold, jewelry, statues, and paintings. Is this the thief’s house or someone else’s? Maybe the thief accomplice and this is their treasure or is there another thief out tonight? I might be overthinking this.

Look at all this expensive stuff. How much is it all worth? Does the person who lives here own everything? How much of it is stolen? How did it all get stolen? So many questions, so many things. There are dresses and outfits here fit for kings and queens. If only I had this.

Maybe I can. The thief is probably long gone along with the guards. The rest of the town is asleep so I can take as much as I want.

I shouldn’t.

Why not? You are a princess to a knight after all.

“Princess!”

A couple knights come into the basement. They’re clad in gold and have golden weapons and shields.

“Who are you? Ah! Where are you taking me?”

We leave the basement and end up in a kingdom shimmering with gold. The people wear gold, the town is made of gold, and I’m wearing a golden outfit with a golden crown. This entire place shines as if it were the sun. I’m at the top of a castle, made of gold of course. Going into it, I find-! My husband who is dressed like the guards except he is wearing a very royal set of armor.

“Anita, you shouldn’t keep your children, your people, and I waiting,” he says to me with five children around him.

These five children are mine? People start coming in with gifts for me. Statues and paintings of me come in along with vases, furniture, food, drinks, and other luxuries are presented to me. It’s a lot. Do I really need all of this? A woman, who looks like me, goes from my side to in front of me. She has a weird look to her face, so she’s probably another demon.

“It’s not a question of need, but of want. All of this is being given to you at no cost to you. What’s better than treasures that cost you nothing?”

“All I need is the love of God and others like my husband. Everything else is extra.”

“This is the extra. Why not indulge yourself in it? You are a princess after all.”

“No, I’m not. This isn’t real.”

“Oh, but it can be! Take the treasures in front of you and you might have your own land to rule over. You might even obtain the kingdoms of the world if you take what you desire.”

“I don’t need it.”

I throw off my golden crown, take off my golden slippers and gloves, and go out the door into darkness. I’m not sure if my eyes need to adjust after being in the golden city for a bit, but I can’t see anything. Nevertheless, I walk into the darkness because it’s better than giving into temptations. What? What’s going on? My legs are turning into gold. They’re harder to move now as if my legs were asleep. AAAHHH! My legs just shattered into pieces. I have to get out of here.

That demon is behind me now.

“Come back and claim your treasure. The rest of you will break if you don’t come back.”

Now part of my face and part of my back feel stiff. They turned into gold too. I’m not going to turn back. This is all just a trick. There’s no way I’m going to give in. AAAHHHH! My face and back are shattered. I don’t know how I’m still alive, but I’m still going.

“You aren’t going to make it. Give in already. I’ll help you get back to safety.”

“Not going to happen!”

I don’t see an exit, but I feel one coming. Oh no. My right arm is turning into gold. It’s going to break if I don’t get to the exit soon. Come on. I don’t think I’m going to make it. Please, God. AAAAHHHH!

“God is just going to make you suffer more. Forget Him.”

“He’s just testing my faith in Him. I’ll make it through it. I trust in Him.”

I still have one arm. My body feels incredibly stiff, but I’m still moving. Almost there. The exit feels like it’s within reach. Here!

“Woah there miss! Explain to us why you’re carrying all of those stolen goods into here.”

I’m in the guards’ building. The thief is behind bars.

“I…I found this while you were chasing the thief. I thought I’d give them to you so you can get them to their proper owner.”

“You’re a model citizen miss. Please, let me help you lay it all down on the table. I’m surprised you carried all of this here. It’s incredibly heavy stuff. Hold on…I don’t remember some of this being dropped. Where did you find this?”

“On the streets dropped on the floor. Oh, and a trail of it led to a house with treasures in it. You didn’t chase him that house, did you?”

“No, it was a rather simple house. Lead us to it if you will.”

When I lead the guards back to the house, they find the thief’s accomplice and arrest her. She was hoarding the treasures they had in their secret basement after her husband had dropped them along the way. She was also doing a little thievery of her own during the night. Because of my efforts, I’m given a fairly large reward of gold. A guard writes a letter to the capital, so there’s going to be more of them here so that what happened here isn’t repeated.

Once all of that is done, a guard sketches my picture and puts it on their wall of model citizens along with what I did. The drawing isn’t too accurate, but at least they have my full name under it. I thank the guards and head back home for some well deserved rest. Huh? The sun is rising already? No rest for the weary, I guess.

 

 

 

Chapter 4 – Inertia

After last night, I feel exhausted. All of my energy feels completely drained, and I don’t feel like doing anything today even after sleeping until the afternoon. The house is collecting an odd amount of dust today. My strength only allows me to do so much before I feel like I have to sit down. The stiffness that demon caused me to be more tired than I’m used to. This challenge has probably been building up in me.

These days where I just uselessly labor away, cleaning the house, fixing things, and denying temptations just to do it all over again the next day without much rest. I just want a day or two where I do nothing and rest my mind without a care in the world. If I can do that, then I’ll have the strength to go back to my boring life again. It’s not wrong of me to ask for that, is it?

Because of my thoughts and tiredness, I’m not sure which thoughts are mine and which ones are my temptations. If they are one in the same to the point where I cannot tell the difference, then I’m in deep trouble. I know of saints that were never tired when they were doing more than I am. Am I so lazy that I can’t even do the meager tasks I’m supposed to? Am I allowed to rest today and maybe tomorrow to get my strength back? Am I being too scrupulous with myself?

The house is fine the way it is. If my knight came back in a few days and found the house dirty, then would he blame me for it? A lonely life of toiling away at a house that can never stay clean takes its toll on you after a while. It’s similar to life. You keep yourself healthy and happy until you eventually die. I shouldn’t think like this. I shouldn’t think at all today. The only thing in my mind is rest.

I’ve been getting up cleaning a bit then sitting down for most of the day. My eyes have been glued to the ceiling for what feels like hours. The sun is setting now, and I’ve barely done anything. I guess you can’t blame me after what I’ve been through mentally. Still, I could at least tidy myself for tomorrow.

My strength feels like it’s been completely sapped from me. Everything from my arms, legs, and body feel incapable of movement. If I could, I would just fall asleep on the floor and get up when I can whenever that might be. My mind has been going in circles for hours now with silence from time to time. Hopefully, tomorrow will be better.

What’s that over there? Is that another demon coming my way? It looks like me as drawn by a child. Completely green eyes, no noes, and a line for a mouth with brown hair and black clothes. It’s crawling towards me with its claw-like hands and I barely have the strength to move.

“Why move when you don’t need to? I’m so lazy that my legs have lost their function.”

“I’m not like you. Once I rest up, I’ll be back on my feet to do what I always do.”

“What you need to do is rest? Your knight might have pity on you and treat you extra special when he comes home.”

“He knows I’m not a lazy wife.”

“Then just rest for today. I’m not my other sisters. I won’t tempt you in any way. I’m too lazy to.”

“Good. You can leave me then.”

“I’m not that lazy.”

What’s coming out of the ceiling, the walls, and floors? Are those maggots or termites? They’re eating everything around them and they’re crawling on me. AAAAHHHHH! The maggots feel like they’re burrowing into my skin. They’re in my eyes and mouth! I have to move or else everything I have and am will be consumed.

“Decay does all the work for me. I don’t need to do anything. Your inactivity helps me as well.”

“Then you’re going to be disappointed.”

It takes everything I have to clean the maggots off me with whatever water I have. It’s incredibly painful to pick them out of my eyes and get them out of my mouth and ears too. Now I have to clean them from my floors. I get my mops and brooms to clean them from every surface of my house.

“Why are you worried about losing your house and everything in it? Blessed are the poor for theirs is the kingdom of heaven, right?”

“I’m still allowed to have my house. Plus, taking care of my house is my God given responsibility as a wife.”

“You’re going to lose everything anyway when you die.”

“This is still my responsibility.”

“Who’s going to care when works don’t get you into Heaven?”

“It’s faith show by works that show God that I am a willing servant of His that get you into Heaven. Not faith alone nor works alone. That and God’s sanctifying grace.”

“…I’m too lazy to come up with another argument. Three is usually enough.”

“You’re really talkative for being lazy.”

“It’s a problem I’m trying to get rid of.”

Most of the maggots and termites are gone now, but more are still appearing in the house. This demon is probably the reason why they keep appearing.

“Your maggots and you are really starting to get on my nerves. I think it’s time to leave. Holy Mary Mother of God pray for me a sinner and get rid of this demon torturing me.”

“Oh no, don’t invoke her. I hate her more than most saints.”

“Too bad.”

The demon is dragged out the door by an invisible force and the maggots and termites get sucked out with her. I’m almost afraid to rest now. Oh, I almost forgot to say my rosary for the day. To give my proper thanks to Mary, I say the rosary on my knees. If I’m allowed to rest, please give me a sign…

 

 

 

 

Chapter 5 – Ira

Ah! I must’ve fallen asleep while praying. Huh. I remember don’t holding my rosary at the end. I’m also laying down in bed with the covers on even though I clearly remember praying on my knees. My guardian angel probably put me in bed and finished my rosary for me. It’s a good start to a terrible day. For some reason, it’s one of those days where I drop things, stub my toe, hurt myself by accident, trip on nothing, and fall into the dirt.

Even though I’m aggravated, I thank God for my gifts and challenges, so that I may be a better person-and a bird just pooped on my head. Stupid bird! Don’t throw a rock at it. I won’t even hit it. Gotta stay calm. Go to keep mentally praying for strength-ack! I stub my toe again while walking back inside. Stupid, stupid, stupid! I just want today to be over. That’s not all I want to be over.

The cycle of waiting for my husband to come home and keeping myself busy repeats every single day. I swear this house is cursed because dirt and dust didn’t build up this quick in my parent’s house. It’s either that or I’m so bored that I notice even the smallest build up of dust. There has to be something else I can do. I could go to church and spend time there, but I pray most of the day anyway. What’s the point of doing it in a church if I can get results just by staying home? I don’t really know anyone in town since my house is far from most. The town itself is simple and small with nothing really going on in it. How did my husband convince me to move here with just the house and the look of the town as the main points?

Before I was bored, but now, I’m aggravated. Repeating the same things over and over in my head with no resolution is getting to me. No husband, no children, no friends, and no family. My temptations torture me every single day of my life with something new or something irritating old. I guess I shouldn’t ask for anything new to happen to me because that just makes my life more difficult. If I ask for things to stay the same, then I just get hit with the same temptations until they overcome me. No, I let them overcome me.

You’d think I’d learn to never fall to temptations, but I have. Repeatedly to the same ones too. Thankfully the only people that know about the sins I’ve committed are the priests at the local church, God, and my guardian angel, but that doesn’t excuse me for letting myself fall to weakness. I could’ve done something different. It would’ve been better if I did nothing, but no, I just had to feel better and run the risk of damning my soul to Hell. Thank you, God, for being so patient and forgiving because I would’ve gone to Hell several times by now. I just wish I had more help in my life. There has to be something good waiting for me around the corner. Woah! Are those?

“Hey! Ow! Oww! Stop it! Get away from me! Get out of my house!”

“There they are in that woman’s house!”

“Come on, we got our fill for now. Let’s go!”

Ah…ah. Those two were the thieves from before seeking revenge on me. The guards that were chasing them were the only thing that got them out of my house. Oh…no. They’ve torn up my living room and my clothes I’m wearing and hair…My house is a wreck now. I’m all beat up and bruised. All of that effort I put into being a good sinless wife has brought me, what? More difficult temptations to deal with and now a beating by criminals? And they’re going to come back for more?

These people don’t deserve mercy. They don’t deserve to be prayed for. The only thing I can think to ask God to give them is discipline, which I’m about to give to them. I can feel myself running faster than I usually do despite being injured. Maybe it’s because my skirt is torn in half or because I’m surging with rage. My newfound speed allows me to speed through the streets while avoiding the people around me until I see the thieves going into the forest. They manage to lose the guards, but they don’t lose me. These two have a little treehouse in the forest. Maybe it’s their backup location since their other one is compromised. Whatever the case is, it’s time for my revenge.

For some reason, I don’t even wait for them to separate or have their guard down. Once I get close to them, I barge into their hideout and use everything they have as a weapon. The statues, paintings, vases, and other valuables become my sword and shield against them. Before I could barely stand my ground against one of them, but now I’m able to fight both of them without even trying. It’s like I have multiple arms and my mind is thinking at the speed of light. Once they are down, a thief who is shorter than the man but taller than the woman shows up to fight me, but he’s no match for me. That felt liberating. All of my stress and built up anger is gone.

My vision clears to show me what I’ve done. The smaller thief seems to be the thieves’ teenage child. Rotten parents raise rotten children it seems. Looking down into an expensive mirror I broke, I can see the rage burning inside me. A fire burns my eyes and mouth. I do have multiple arms coming out of my back, which are all lanky, white, and slightly red. I look like a monster.

“This should teach you a lesson about stealing from others. I’ll pray for your soul, but I never want to see you again in this life again, got it?”

“W-w-we got it. Pl-p-ple-please leave.”

I’m not sure if this was a good decision anymore. Uck, I feel sick. Blech! Ugh. What’s going on? I’m puking fire? Is this the fire I saw within myself? My chest and mouth are burning as if I really did puke fire. The entire forest is on fire now because of the fire I puked. Is that a woman forming out of the fire? Her dress looks like fire itself and her face, eyes, and hair are similar to mine, but her hair has a red lining to it.

“So much for being a good wife and faithful servant of God.”

“I still am. I just lost myself a bit, that’s all.”

“Are you sure about that? Look around you. These are the fires that you held within yourself. Look at the people you hurt. You can come up with as many excuses as you want, but you know it would’ve been better if you didn’t do anything at all, a reoccurring problem for you.”

“I don’t need you to lecture me on what I should and shouldn’t do. All I need to do is go to confession, do penance, and be stronger next time.”

“I doubt you’ll get to confession in this situation.”

Multiple versions of the woman start coming out of the fire. They laugh and taunt me.

“Look at the freak.”

“She’s barely able to control herself.”

“What a child.”

“And a spoiled child at that.”

“She can’t even handle a simple, boring life.”

I fight off the taunting demons-blech! But now I’m puking more fire. My problem isn’t them. It’s me. I have to get out of here. Ah! Oww! These demons won’t stop hitting and mocking me. I can’t fight back or else I’ll keep puking fire and won’t be able to get out. These flames on me now, but I can’t put them out. There’s nothing I can do but run and run.  I don’t think I can make it! This burning is unbearable!

“Someone help me! I’m burning alive here! AAAAAAAAH!”

I’m sorry for what I did! I let myself lose control and embraced my anger. I’ll pay whatever price I have to. Just please have mercy! My whole body is engulfed in flames. If I die, I hope to be purified in the flames of Purgatory. Please, God, have mercy on me…

Huh? I’m…I’m alive? The forest isn’t on fire anymore and those extra arms I had are gone. I can see the thieves and their child getting arrested by the guards in the distance. That’s weird. I swear I got further away, but I’m very thankful for this mercy. It’s probably for the best that I’m this far away from them. Even though I might’ve deserved revenge, I don’t think I carried it out the way I was supposed to. It’s time to go back home and clean up…again.

Before the sun sets, some guards stop by and give me some funds for the damage that was caused by the thieves.

“It’s the least we can do,” they say, “We’ve also caught the thieves that have done this. They’ll be sent to a more protected jail for their crimes.”

“Thank you for the kind gift.”

“Don’t mention it. Have a good night, miss, and try not to make any more enemies.”

“Will do.”

They leave as I close the door. The money I have is enough to replace the things lost to me, but I’m afraid I lost something more when I fell to temptation. I’ll have to get up early in the morning to get absolution for my sins as soon as possible. I don’t want to make God think I don’t appreciate the second chance He’s given me.

 

 

 

 

Chapter 6 – Invidia

I say my confession and do my penance early in the morning. I’m surprised that the priest that gave me my penance wasn’t too harsh on me and was understanding. Of course, that’s how priests are supposed to be, but I thought what I did would’ve gotten me a long penance like community service instead of just praying the whole rosary twice in a day. Still, I’m glad that my soul is absolved of my sins. Hopefully, my next temptations aren’t as bad as yesterdays.

The two rosaries I said today should grant me sufficient protection, but I should do more. Today I work twice as hard on doing things that God would approve of. The inside and outside of the house are cleaned up after yesterday’s events. I’ve drawn more pictures to put up around the house. The stories I’m making for my children are almost done. There are some scary elements to it, but they should be able to handle it. My temptations have allowed me to expand my creative mind, so I’ve recently made more progress on these stories than I have before. I guess that means I’m facing these temptations the right way.

Whew! That was a busy day for me. It’s time to get some well-deserved rest now-hmm? What’s that noise outside? Oh, that’s right. The town has a little celebration because of the feast day of a few saints that’s associated it with it. It looks like most of the people in town are participating in it. I wish I could be a part of it, but I don’t have anyone to go with.

Those people are so blessed with their children, spouses, family, and friends while I have none of that. I’m on repeat with what my mind focuses and complains about. How can I not when I see people happier than me? All I do is housework all day with a few recreational activities. My husband might not be coming home to me while my sisters and friends didn’t have to deal with that. What friends do I even have when I think about it? The priests and merchants in town? Do those really count as friends?

What about family? They don’t even live in this town and I doubt they’ll ever move here. I was the only child to move out of the town that my family stayed in. Was that really the best decision? I know that I don’t have to worry about money now for the house and food, but is it worth it for a life like this? Temptations day and night…this was one of them. I hope I haven’t sinned in my thoughts. I just went to confession and did my penance too. I don’t think it’s a mortal sin if I did sin in my thoughts because those I did without full control of myself.

Am I making excuses for my sins again? What? What’s going on with my arms? They’re turning green and brown! It’s spread throughout my whole body now! AAAHH! Parts of me are falling off like before when they turned to gold, except I start to fall apart when I move. I have to stay still to stop from falling apart. What are these hands around me? I look up to see another demon who is posing as me. This one is wearing green and black instead of my blue and white. It has its hands over my head like it’s squeezing it, but despite it not touching me, I can still feel the pressure on my head.

“Keep thinking what you were thinking. There’s no shame in telling the truth of how you feel.”

“But I’m envious of others when I should be thankful of what I have. I shouldn’t be jealous of them. If anything, I should be praying for them. I’m sure they have challenges of their own.”

Parts of my body that I lost, like my right arm, are growing back. That’s good. I just have to keep praying in my mind to keep the temptations at bay.

“What about what you’ve gone through and are going through? You’re literally green with envy. Your body has turned into grass and dirt and falling apart as if you were turning back into the dust you were made from.”

“This is my cross to bear. I’ll do whatever God wants me to do.”

“Again, with these thoughts and devotions about God. Why can’t you fall in love with me?”

“Because what you call love isn’t love at all. I’ll only suffer more if I fall to your temptations.”

“You’re so stubborn, but you’ll fall again eventually.”

“I pray that I won’t.”

“Then you better keep praying.”

Images and sounds of people that I would be jealous of start filling my head. I’m shaking as I try to resist them, but this makes me begin to fall apart, so I have to try to stay still at the same time. I need better thoughts to counter these ones. Let me think. Uhhh, oh! I’m thankful for the life I have. My husband is a wonderful and strong man and I just know that I’m going to see him again. My house is nice and everything inside and outside of it is great. I’m thankful for my God-given skills as a housewife, artist, and writer. I pray for everyone who is suffering out there. I pray for the continued happiness of everyone who is currently happy and offer my sufferings as reparations for their sins. I pray for the souls in Purgatory. I pray for those who have yet to find salvation through the Catholic Church.

Huh? Where did the demon go? I’m back to normal, so I guess I did the right thing. I’ll have to reexamine my conscience then continue to pray for other people and myself. It’s a constant battle I always have to fight, don’t I?

 

 

 

Chapter 7 – Superbia

Today’s another great day to be good. I’ve already done everything I needed to yesterday so I can treat myself to some good relaxation today. I went to church early today, said my rosary, done my shopping, and even dressed up my house for my knight’s coming home. He could be coming home soon, so I set up the house to be extra nice for him. I can’t wait for him to come home and see the surprised look on his face. He should be so excited to see me that we might get to baby making as soon as he settles down. What knight wouldn’t want to do that when he comes home from war to a beautiful wife like myself?

I’ve always got a lot of food that we love ready to go. Since I got extra, I had a little for lunch already. I’m sure he won’t mind that is if he comes home. He should know that I’m a hard working woman that deserves her due reward for her faithfulness to God and her husband. I’ve also done my part in charity. Whatever wealth and possessions I haven’t donated are mine to keep. The extra things I’ve done should cover me for a while. If they don’t, I’ll just give whatever things that I have that I don’t really need.

I should stop overthinking about the things I do and the consequences of them. Since God is good, all I have to do is go to confession, do my penance, and that’s it! I’m set for Heaven! Today’s my day to rest and I’ve been enjoying the fresh Sunday air without a worry in the world. Damn it all. Why’s the town so loud today? Don’t they know that they should be resting today? Don’t they think about people like me who need a bit of silence from time to time? These people get on my nerve sometimes.

Part of me has to admit my envy of them. Their joy, energy, and want to do good for God and everyone is admirable. I wish I had what they did. I know I recently suffered from the sin of envy, but it’s just a thought that I sometimes have. I’ll get over it because I’m stronger than most women. Who else could go through the psychological and supernatural things that I have and come out mostly unscathed? All of the horrors I’ve gone through would scare a veteran warrior or exorcist. My nerves are made of steel. Nothing can overcome me.

Are you finished talking about yourself yet? Myself, I mean.

What are you talking about? I’m just speaking the truth.

You grew and took over half of my body when I looked in the mirror after church. You jumped out from the mirror and now I have two heads and four breasts.

What’s the matter with that? It’s double the me! I’m sure my knight having two of me.

Everything. I’ve gone through thinking about the seven deadly sins because of you.

Because of me? Or because of you? Do you know how many times you think to yourself, “I do this, I do that, me, me, me, me”?

I have to think about myself and my actions sometimes to make sure I’m acting according to God’s will.

Why should you? You’re perfect as you are! Do you know that I’m your biggest fan? I’ve shapeshifted my form to look like you and keep changing it when you change. We’re like the same person! Maybe you can even help me get to Heaven. You should still be in the state of sanctifying grace, so your ticket to Heaven should be good.

Demons don’t belong in Heaven and they’ll never make it their home again.

Oh, but I do God’s will like you do. What’s the difference?

I’m redeemed by His sacrifice. You aren’t. You had your chance and you’ll never recover from your sin. I can pick myself when I fall as long as I put my hope and faith in Him. You can only fall and when He comes back, you’ll stay there forever.

Harsh words coming from a woman who always thinks about herself. You suffer from the sin of pride just like the devil.

Right now, all I have to care for is myself. I try to pray for those who are lost and suffering. There’s nothing else that I can do for the world.

Your constant mental prayer doesn’t help you. Just say the word and I’ll leave you.

I have been praying for you to go away. I’m always praying because I know I’m nothing without God. He loves me, I love Him, and that’s something that will never change.

AAAAAAHHHH!

There we go. I’m finally back to normal. Huh? Who could be at the door? No way!

“I heard there was a princess in need of a knight and I came to answer the call.”

“You came back!”

“You aren’t even going to try to roleplay?”

“Oh, get in here you, dork!”

We embrace and kiss for several minutes. He tries to calm me down, but I deeply miss him, so I hold onto him for a while with tears of joy in my eyes. He talks to me about his adventures over dinner, most of which I’ll be using in my stories and drawings. We spend the rest of the day in each other’s arms until it’s time to save it for tomorrow.

He didn’t even want to make children with you tonight. You could tie him up and get him too.

That’s wrong. I’m not going to do that.

But I bet you’re still thinking about it.

I’m thinking the rosary in my head right now. How about that? No answer? Good. Thank you, God, Mary, my guardian angel, and everyone else who prays for me in Heaven. Special thanks to you God as always. I couldn’t do anything without you.

 

The End

Choice and Consequence of Redemption: Fresh Blood

What is there to redeem when you kill for a good cause?

Nick is a boxer with a taste for blood. He prowls the streets of Hillside City every other night to kill criminals, abusive parents, and such. On one night, he comes across the Doll Factory, a secret organization that sells people as sex dolls. Doubts about his vigilantism come in and he has to decide whether or not if he should keep killing or help people in a more peaceful way. Will Nick kill more or let more people be used as objects rather than people? One more massacre? Or a dozen more victims?

Download the full story on Smashwords for free – https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/884138

“The whole question here is: am I a monster, or a victim myself?”

Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Crime and Punishment

 

Prologue – The Beginnings of a Killer

Many people choose what they want to be when they grow up though some are not as fortunate. Nick is one of those people. He wanted to be a boxer like his father and mother, but they didn’t allow it. They wanted to be the only ones in the family who held the fame. Like most children, Nick didn’t listen to his parents and practiced boxing behind their backs. He watched videos of them boxing and made his own style from theirs. When he got older, he contacted their trainer and told him to train him and why his parents didn’t want him to be one. The trainer sympathized with Nick and trained him behind his parents’ back. To truly test Nick’s skills, his trainer got Nick into several underground boxing tournaments. Nick ended up winning all of them, which lead to his trainer turning him into an official boxer.

His parents were left in the dark by everyone about Nick’s first real match, but they heard about it when social media started blowing up about their son beating a professional boxer without getting hit. After the match, they confronted Nick and started beating on him in public. The rage he’d held onto in his past finally exploded as he fought back against his parents. Since he’s studied their moves for years, he knew how to counter their attacks and fought against them effectively. Things went wrong once Nick had them against a wall with jagged metal sticking out. He punched them against the wall and the back of their heads hit the wall so hard that the impact kills them. Once his rage subsided, he saw what he’d done but he barely felt any regret. His trainer span this as an abused child finally being getting revenge on his parents for everything they’ve done. The trainer’s exposing of Nick’s parents saved Nick from being arrested and shamed his parent’s legacy as honorable fighters.

Now finally freed from his parent’s influence, he boxed without worry and forgot about their deaths a few weeks after it happened. His popularity rose, and his story became one told to inspire people. Eventually, he met Allison, a fan of his who he gave his number to. The two spent some time with each other and got married. They settled in their hometown of Hillside City and traveled together as Nick fought to win not only for himself now but for his treasured wife.

After fighting for three years, he got tired of doing it since it didn’t have the same excitement that killing his parents had. On one Halloween night, he created a mask for himself and went out into the streets of Hillside City. He searched for someone to fight in a city known for its crime and crazy people. Finally, he found a couple of people who were stealing from a stranger. He defended this stranger and beat the two thieves to death. The stranger thanked Nick before quickly walking away as Nick scared him. The thrill came back to him and Nick found his true passion. From then on, Nick went out every other night to find another criminal to beat to death. He particularly liked to kill child abusers. The excuse he told Allison was that he went out every other night to practice with a few of his boxing friends, which she bought since she trusted him so much.

Allison is the person Nick values most in the world. Everything he does is to help her. He’s now a killer vigilante in Hillside City so that he can create a better city for her to live in. They’re now staying in Hillside City after Nick’s recent victory in another boxing tournament. Soon, Nick’s killings will resume, something that he eagerly awaits.

 

 

Chapter 1 – A Killer’s Night

Tainted blood is going to be spilled tonight as Nick takes his mask, hides it in his jacket, and walks into the worst parts of Hillside City. His habits of going out every other night have gotten him used to what sounds like trouble and what doesn’t. Sometimes he runs to find two people messing with each other or forcefully enters a house to find a couple roleplaying. Now he can better determine what is and isn’t trouble, or at least he can most of the time. Besides looking for people who could be in trouble, he also keeps a list of criminals living in the city. Since Hillside City and its police force have a low tolerance for criminals, it doesn’t matter to them if these people are taken in alive or if their corpse is sent to them. Of course, Nick doesn’t need the money from the bounties on their heads, so he just lets the nearest person call it in with the promise they’ll receive a reward and the same treatment if they should become that criminal.

He’s gained a reputation for himself as a vigilante. The name that’s been given to him is The Fist of Punishment. Even though Nick could think of other names, he sticks with it as the name does have a ring to it. There have been other vigilantes who have popped up here and there inspired by his actions. Even some cops celebrate his name as Nick does what some of them want to do.

While walking the streets, he sees a drug deal taking place in a dark alley. The dealer and buyer catch sight of Nick looking at him and retreat further into the alley with their hands in their pockets to hide what they have. Nick puts on his mask and enters the alley. The two get back to their deal, but once they look back outside of the alley they see Nick fast approaching. One tries pulling out his gun, but Nick gets to him and knocks it out of his hand. He then punches the dealer in the throat then takes the seller by the head and beats his head against the wall. After that, he finishes off the seller by breaking his already broken throat. Nick then leaves the bodies in the alleyway to rot as he does with most.

Nick could get away with taking the money off the criminals he kills since he wears gloves to avoid getting his fingerprints on things, but he doesn’t unless he wants to get something extra for Allison or himself. The criminal industry is rich and a good place to find rich people in though there aren’t many rich criminals in Hillside City. Most are either middle class or poor and Nick detests taking from the poor. He doesn’t mind, however, taking away evil people from their families. He thinks to himself that he’s doing them a favor because if they really cared for their families, they wouldn’t be committing evil deeds.

Some of the older abandoned buildings are used by criminals and is usually a good place for Nick to find new prey despite him clearing them out every now then. He goes to a nearby abandoned food corner store and enters in through the alleyway door, which is already open. Nature has taken over some of the building and slowly is destroying it as vines and foliage are on the walls and in the floors. Nick watches his step while being sneaky. He can hear two people talking about combining forces to better their business within the city. From a hole in the wall, Nick can see four people with pistols and a lone guard with an automatic shotgun near the only door in. Nick finds a pebble on the ground and throws it through the hole, which makes everyone look to see where it lands.

“This place is falling apart. We shouldn’t keep meeting here,” one of them says.

“Our family used to own this place. I’d thought you’d be more sentimental.”

“I’m more sentimental about my life.”

“Don’t worry about that, nature is holding up this building for us.”

Nick manages to get to the guard and snap his neck then take his shotgun. Just because he’s proficient in using his fists doesn’t mean he isn’t good with firearms. The criminals were about to take out their pistols, but the sight of Nick’s makes them hesitate since they remember the rumors about The Fist of Punishment. This hesitation gives Nick the opportunity to blast the criminals away or at least most of their body parts. Two are dead while one is clutching the place where his left leg used to be. Nick finishes the injured man off with the last shotgun shell. The fourth one that managed to take cover is shaking from a paralyzing fear. He begs for mercy, which Nick has none of. Nick punches the man in the face then impales the man’s face on broken glass. Knowing that the police should be here soon, Nick quickly leaves the scene by going through the back alley.

While going through the alleyway, his eyes catch a fresh bloody handprint on one of the backdoors of a house. He quietly goes into the house and checks upstairs to find a single sleeping guard. He’s wearing a weird masquerade mask that appears to be horror themed with weird makeup and blood red marks on it. He has a silenced assault rifle by his side leaning on the chair. The guard appears to have been guarding this house by a sniper’s window but fell asleep. Nick easily snaps his neck and takes the man’s assault rifle just in case there are more people in here with the same weaponry. He also finds a key on the man, which he uses on the nearby bedroom doors. In them, are several other people like the guard with different masquerade masks like his. Nick finds their weapons next to them and one of them has a knife, which makes his work easier. With the guards upstairs dead, he goes downstairs to the basement. The door is locked, so he uses the key he found on the guard.

Down in the basement, he has to unlock another door to see the horrors it contains. Each of the basement rooms contains a single naked man, woman, or child who is strapped to a bed and appear to be sex slaves. Some of the slaves have one or two of their limbs cut off while some even have their eyes sewn shut or pluck out entirely. The place smelled strange when Nick entered and now he knows why. There’s a map in the basement with certain houses circled including this one. He unlocks the cell doors then uses one of the guard’s phones to call the police and notifies them of what he found before leaving the house with only the map in hand.

Not too far from the house, Nick comes across two hooded people who are wearing purple butterfly masks.

The man says, “Out on the town again on this beautiful night? It’s a wonder that we keep seeing each other.”

“Have you reconsidered our offer yet?” the woman says.

“I haven’t. I’m not going to be part of your little group so you can tell Maria to stop asking if she wants me to keep being friendly.”

“Hey, you don’t need to be like that,” the man says, “So, meet any interesting people tonight?”

“There’s some sort of sex slavery organization here in the city. I just cleared out one of their houses and freed their victims.”

“We heard rumors of them being in the city. Thanks for confirming them. They’re an international sex slavery organization called The Doll Factory. They do business with all sorts of nasty groups. I heard on the news that they even caught an army sergeant and made her into a baby maker.”

“What?”

“Don’t worry about her since she eventually broke free and got her revenge. You should worry about their current and potential victims. Join us and we’ll help you get rid of them from this city.”

“You can do your own thing, but I will let you copy of this map I found in their hideout.”

“Let’s see it.”

The two put the locations of the Doll Factory’s hideout into their GPS on their phones.

“Your help will not be forgotten. We could still use your help though.”

“I’ll help by taking out locations that you aren’t.”

“Fair enough.”

“What are you two even doing around here anyway?”

The woman answers, “We’re going to visit a man who’s a lot like you. He’s a married serial killer who needs a punishment worse than death.”

“Kill his wife. That’ll do the trick. A woman married to a serial killer can’t be that innocent.”

“We were thinking the same thing. Before we go, we have to call you by a certain name. You can’t just keep leaving us before you give us your name?”

“You want my name? As in my real name?”

“Or some sort of code name.”

“Call me Amon.”

“Call us Sirene and Caim.”

“Heh, you like that series too?”

“What series?”

“Nevermind. I need to get back home.”

“See you again, hopefully.”

“Sure.”

Nick walks away from the two and back home to Allison. He sleeps with the aching feeling that he shouldn’t wait a day before going out again to kill especially with the Doll Factory in the city. He hopes that his time with Allison tomorrow will change his mind.

 

Chapter 2 – Keeping your Demons

It’s three at night. Nick has arrived home after being out for four hours. Sometimes he stays out longer or comes home even earlier because the police send out more officers if the criminal activity becomes high, which usually happens on full moons. He lays down on his bed with his sleeping wife. He thinks about what happened as he tries to fall asleep. His wife holds him while she’s sleeping as if part of her can feel his anxiety. Her touch puts him at peace. As he smiles and touches her face, she smiles as well before her head slowly cracks open in two. Nick quickly forces it together before going to the nearby bathroom to see that his head is completely spilt in two. His mirror image smiles at him and starts pulling out insects from his head.

The mirror version of himself says, “We have to clean out our head more often, don’t we?”

“Shut up.”

Nick then reaches into the mirror and puts the mirrored version of his head back together then goes back to sleep. As soon as he hits the bed, he wakes up holding Allison and Allison holding him. She wakes up and smiles at him, which makes him smile in return.

“Good morning sunshine,” she says before kissing him then getting up, “Are you ready for today?”

“I’m ready.”

The couple goes downstairs, and Allison begins making breakfast while Nick sets the table.

“Did you have fun last night?”

“I did. How was work?”

“It was “great” as always.”

“You could take up boxing like I do. We could go into mixed leagues together or maybe even do professional wrestling. I taught you how to defend yourself already.”

“You want us to be like your parents?”

“We aren’t going to let the fame get to our heads like them.”

“We don’t even have any kids yet and I expected them after we got married.”

“I just want to be set in life before we have our child, so we don’t need to worry about money.”

“We already don’t have to.”

“Ok, how about we do this next week when we go to Italy?”

“You better butter me up today, so that’ll sound like a good idea.”

“Do you mean literally or…”

“I will mean literally if you keep it up, mister.”

Allison makes French toast today and the two eat while watching the news. Nick likes watching it to see people recognize his work and if there are certain criminals he should look out for.

“So, if work was “great” as always, does that mean that the doctors are still being hard on you?”

“Of course, and how can you blame them? Hillside City is a hot place that always has people coming into the hospital. I have to make sure everything is correct and prepared for them so that they can treat their patients properly. I don’t mind it when they get agitated at me because I understand how they feel.”

“I mind it. They should understand your situation as well.”

“They only know me as Nick the Young Boxing Legend’s wife. They think I live an easy life and shouldn’t even have my job.”

“I don’t think you should either. You can probably do more good by getting your name out there and supporting charities like I do. It’s better than being a doctor’s assistant or nurse or whatever you call it.”

“Well I’m doing what I want, and I’ve helped dozens of people by doing it.”

“I’m not trying to say you’re not.”

“Then that’ll be the end of that discussion.”

The news talks about the Doll Factory hideout Nick went to and describes what they found.

“That’s absolutely horrible,” Allison comments.

“…I know.”

“If only we could do something about it.”

“…”

“Maybe you can talk about it on your social media accounts or during your next interviews?”

“I will,” Nick says as he spreads the news about the Doll Factory, “I just wish I could do more.”

“Like what? Challenge them to a boxing match and beat their face in?”

“Yes.”

“As much as that idea sounds appealing, you can’t always beat down evil in the face. Violence isn’t the best answer to anything in my opinion.”

What Allison says catches Nick by surprise.

He says, “Oh, but what about the vigilantes in the city like the Fist of Justice. He has a stupid name sure, but he seems to be doing a lot of good.”

“Not really. All he does is go around town and kill people. We’ll probably end up saving more lives than him even if we don’t get rid of criminals like him.”

Now Nick is completely caught off guard. He never got Allison’s opinion on his vigilantism until now because no one like the Doll Factory came into town until now.

“Are you okay babe?” Allison says to Nick who’s shocked.

“Y-yeah.”

“You’re better than that loser who’s trying to act like a hero.”

“…”

“Anyways, should we go out now?”

“Yeah.”

Nick isn’t sure what to think anymore. The person he listens to most just made him doubtful of what he likes doing the most besides being with her. He puts the thought aside so he can enjoy his day with his treasure. They go out together to the suburban part of Hillside City, which is called Hillfall Town. Allison always liked nature more than the city. There’s a clearing in a nearby forest that they like going to and where people usually go for picnics or big events. They set up a little picnic and just enjoy the nice weather. Their lives are filled with noise and they’ve already said what they’ve wanted to this morning, so it’s refreshing for them to tell each other how much they love each other in a soundless way. Allison lays down in Nick’s arms as they sit in the shade. A slight breeze makes the weather feel perfect while the chirping of birds gives the forest a nice background noise. They sit this way a little more than an hour, which results in them falling asleep.

Another hour passes and a noise in the forest wakes up Nick while Allison still sleeps. He looks around and the noise continues as it sounds like a person walking. He slowly puts down Allison on the blanket then gets up to search the area. The noise stops and starts almost randomly. No matter what direction Nick seems to go in, he can’t seem to find the source of the noise. Nick’s own shadow begins to take form. It tries to grab Nick, but he grabs it instead. The shadow takes the form of Nick, but with black scars on his body.

He says, “I was just going to give you a little scare. Nothing serious.”

“I know what you’re thinking. We’ve been through this before.”

“And I’m never going to stop unless you let go. You can’t control the powers of your nightmares for long. It will overcome you eventually.”

“Not if I can’t resist it.”

Nick lets go of the other him’s throat before continuing his search.

He says to it, “The thing in the forest wouldn’t happen to be one of my monsters, is it?”

“No. It’s probably someone who wants to enjoy the forest…or take advantage of people relaxing in it.”

“Which one do you think it is?”

“What do you think?”

The two Nicks combine to form one being made of nightmares. This usually happens to Nick without his knowledge on his killing nights. His face changes to a mask with a split face and a broken red halo on the back of his head. His hair is longer now and his back sprouts black wings. The shirt and pants on his body disappear so that his legs and hands are now made of jagged metal. Black markings hug his shoulders and sides and a red heart is exposed on his chest. Nick’s senses are now enhanced so he can hear and see better. He picks up the source of the sounds and chases after it. He sees a figure in the distance with a mask that’s like the ones that the Doll Factory have. Nick quickly runs to the mysterious individual to kill them before Allison wakes up. The mysterious individual is startled by the sound of Nick coming in their direction and unknowingly runs in the direction where is Allison. Nick quickens his pace until he can clearly see his target who can see him too. Nick appears to be the monster he is in the eyes of the mysterious individual, which only makes them run faster.

Nick eventually gets close enough so that he can tackle his target, but he tackles them in front of Allison, which wakes her up. Nick’s monstrous appearance disappears from the minds of Nick and the mystery person so that he looks normal now. Seeing that they’re in front of Allison, Nick repeatedly beats the person thinking that this was their intention all along. To find another person to kidnap and sell.

Allison separates the two then says, “What are you doing Nick?”

“This guy was sneaking around here in one of those masks that the Doll Factory have! We can’t let him escape!”

Allison turns to the person, “Tell me who you are.”

The mystery person reveals themselves to be a woman in her middle ages. She says, “I just came here to play a little prank on people. I run this web series where I scare people. It’s pretty popular right now, you might’ve heard of it.”

“Yeah, right. I don’t believe that for one second,” Nick dismissively says.

“Stop it, Nick. You can leave here miss. Just be careful next time you do something like this.”

“Thank you, and I’m sorry for intruding,” the woman says before running back into the forest.

There are a few moments of silence before Nick says, “You shouldn’t have let her go. She had one of those masks.”

“Then what would we do? It looks like you were going to kill her.”

“If she actually was one of those Doll Factory members, I probably would’ve. Those people are scum.”

“You shouldn’t think that way, Nick. You aren’t like that!”

Again, Allison criticizes Nick’s hidden killer personality. He doesn’t know what to do besides going out again tonight to get rid of the Doll Factory, so he doesn’t need to worry about them. After putting this situation behind them, they continue enjoying the rest of the day together until they go back home after watching the stars for a few hours.

At night in his sleep, he dreams of himself in a calm place with all of his monsters on a leash. Some of his monsters look like different boxers he’s fought and criminals he’s fought. Two of the monsters are his parents, which the other monsters continuously beat on. Nick is pondering on going out again tonight while his monsters try to break free from his control with more force than they usually do.

His other him sits by his side then says, “You know you want to go out there and paint the town red. What’s stopping you?”

“I don’t know.”

“Is it Allison? She’s usually right when it comes to moral judgments. Maybe you shouldn’t be a vigilante after all.”

“How about this. The Doll Factory will be my last targets. Once they are dealt with and their captives free, the city will be safer, and we can live in relative peace.”

“If you think that is the right option, then go for it. You do know the consequences if you fail, right?”

“I do, but I won’t fail. Not now and not ever. I will never fail Allison.”

“It seems like you already have.”

Nick gets up from his bed, gets his mask, the Doll Factory’s mask, and goes out for one last killing spree. His body is transformed and ready for all of the carnage he is about to relish in.

 

 

Chapter 3 – A Massacre Everyone Will Enjoy

Starting with the closest location on the map, Nick begins his crusade against the Doll Factory. The first location is a small warehouse not too far from the city. A location this close to the city would’ve gotten them caught a couple of days after they appeared, but they seem to be settled in. Nick thinks this could mean that the Doll Factory has ties to people in Hillside City, but it won’t matter what connections they have after tonight. As soon as he sneaks in, the building changes and the door behind him disappears.

“Surprised?” the other him says as Nick hides.

“I’m glad you’re here.”

“Don’t think for a second that you summoned me. There is another force at work here that wants to see the slaves set free and you’re being used as their means of liberation.”

“Give them my thanks. So they don’t care if these other people die?”

“They do, but these people are far more gone than you are. They don’t even sense beings like me.”

“It’s a shame.”

“You don’t mean that.”

“Of course I don’t.”

The other him gives Nick some of its power. Nick then uses it to make the guards think they’re hallucinating. Even though their senses are dull to their monsters, their minds are foggy. Nick has the power to easily make them see their own monsters who will destroy them, but he won’t. He’s a hands-on type of man. With his transformed body, he brutally kills every guard. They try to fight back hand to hand, but Nick has them beat in that regard with his skills and enhanced abilities. Some of the guards try using their guns, so Nick uses his new ability to blur the vision of the guards so that they see triples of Nick who act on their own and hurt them all the same. With all of the guards dead, Nick frees the prisoners and heads to the next location. He calls the police to get these people the help they need.

Along the way, he comes across Sirene and Caim who he cannot avoid talking to. They quickly catch up to him since they are excited that he’s out hunting with them.

Caim says, “Amon! You’re out at the right time. We’ve already planned what we’re going to do.”

“Just show me your plan of attack. We’ll work together on this one.”

“Right.”

Caim explains the Purple Butterflies plan of attack and marks the locations the Butterflies are going to hit last.

“We’re only going to work together this one time and that’s it,” Nick says.

“What do you mean ‘and that’s it’?” Caim says.

“My wife is making me reconsider vigilantism. She didn’t figure out that I go out every other night to do this, but we did talk about my vigilante identity. She doesn’t approve of it to say the least.”

“Don’t listen to her,” Sirene says, “She doesn’t know what she’s talking about. Take it from a wife who knows best like you do.”

“Don’t say that. My wife is the most compassionate, and the smartest person I know.”

“Sirene, even if he takes a break, he won’t be able to stay away for too long. Amon craves justice for those who evade it.”

Caim brings up a thought that Nick has when he thinks about quitting vigilantism. He wants to go out and kill criminals and evil men and women. It’s like an unhealthy addiction for him. Allison’s opinion on his addiction is the only thing that’s making him think twice about killing.

“I’ll think about it. We should go now. I don’t want to let these people get away with making people into sex dolls.”

“You got that right. Let’s go Caim,” Sirene says.

“Good luck Nick.”

“You too.”

At the next hideout, Nick makes each of the guards freeze in place. They’re being held by their monsters, but since they can’t see them, all they feel is a cold chill and immobile. This allows Nick to savor each kill. He can beat them down to his enjoyment and tear them apart with the help of their own monsters. Several guards are frozen in ambush and sniper points in the building. They would’ve had the drop on Nick if he didn’t freeze them. It seems that they also know they’re under attack, but a couple don’t seem to care as they are frozen while using their own products. These people receive the worst deaths. Nick’s abilities have also affected the slaves as they see him as an angel of death. An avenger of the innocent and punisher of the guilty. Once they are freed, Nick leaves for the next hideout before the people can thank him. He calls the police to help these people as well.

On the way to the next location, Nick’s monsters begin to fight him. He wrestles control from them though it is more difficult to stay in control than before.

The other him appears and says, “Once this is done, you’ll eventually lose control. You know you will.”

“Then I’ll try to do as much damage as I can until then. I’m don’t think I’ll ever stop killing though.”

“That’s your choice to make, but what will Allison think if she finds out? You might lose her forever.”

“She won’t find out.”

“She won’t? That woman can be sneaky if she suspects something…You’re considering quitting now, aren’t you?”

“After this. Maybe I will.”

“It’ll be easier if you stop sooner than later.”

The other him fades away right before Nick gets to the next location. He’s on an island that used to be an amusement park. He must’ve teleported from the city to the island since he never got on a boat. The invisible forces at work here tend to do paranormal activities such as this to get people where they need to go. There isn’t any cover here so Nick is spotted immediately. He takes cover from the gunfire before unleashes the monsters of the guards. The monsters tear through the guards and give Nick cover to eliminate his fair share of them. After that, he frees the slaves and takes a boat back to the city with them. They thank him profusely, but he just nods in return. He calls the police to pick them up before heading back home.

The Purple Butterflies should be getting the rest of the hideouts and driving the Doll Factory out of the city. This should be the last killing spree of his. Nick slowly takes off his mask that feels like its stuck his face. The mask almost feels alive as it squirms and even screeches as it resists Nick. It releases sharp blades from the edges of the mask so it can stay firmly planted on Nick’s face. Nick stops trying to take it off when he senses someone watching him. It’s Caim and Sirene. They approach him when they know he’s noticed him.

Caim says, “Don’t stop now. It’s okay if we know who you really are.”

“Were you trying to take your mask off? Are you trying to quit?” Sirene asks.

Nick stays silent as the pain in his face subsides.

“You can’t quit,” Sirene adds, “The fact that your mask resists you proves it.”

“You don’t want to quit anyway. Not now.”

“Why not? I already took care of my portion of the Doll Factory.”

“It’s not that. The Doll Factory have been kidnapping people from this city while we were clearing their hideouts. We’ve dispersed people to find them.”

Nick’s heart stops for a second before he asks, “Do you know who they kidnapped?”

“Some random people and some high valued people.”

“Such as?”

“Some of these people are our loved ones, so I hope none of yours are on the list.”

“Just tell me!”

Caim lists off the people he knows were kidnapped. Allison comes up as one of them. All feeling in Nick’s body goes away and his heart feels like it stops. Caim and Sirene notice Nick’s shock and try talking to him, but he can’t hear them. He can’t hear anything except the quickening pace of his heart as he runs back home. He loses the two along the way. Back at home, he doesn’t find anything. It looks like they kidnapped Allison while she was still sleeping. The rage within him builds. He tightens his grip on his monsters as he heads out to find her while filled with rage and panic.

 

 

Chapter 4 – Righteous Anger

His added panic and anger has changed his alternate appearance. His wings are now four sharped tendrils and the red center of his chest is missing. His skin is white from fear and his eyes red with blood red tears flow from his face. The power within him is overflowing and allows him to teleport to the various hideouts. His powers affect everyone he comes across, which puts their minds in a powerful haze. He massacres any Doll Factory guards he finds while scaring the slaves and any Purple Butterflies that happen to be there.

Nick goes through a few hideouts until his monsters start fighting against him. He can longer teleport, and he has to run to his next location. The city unleashes its monsters from every crack to attack Nick, but his power is greater. He eviscerates the smaller one is one punch and tears through the larger ones who are as big as buses. No matter how many different types of horrifying monsters are thrown at Nick, he tears them all in a bloody mess to get to the only thing he cares about in the world. The energy coming from Nick affects the people around him and they start seeing what he’s seeing in one big mass vision. The monsters don’t attack them, but they do feel the blood Nick spills around the city, even though it does disappear from them once they get far enough away.

Eventually, Nick makes it to the next hideout on the far end of the city. He eliminates the guards without any effort and frees the slaves. In one room, he finds Allison’s dead body. His rage subsides and gives way to sadness. Her throat is cut, her legs and arms are cut off, and her eyes are gone. He sits on her bed and holds her dead, bloody, and dirty body.

“I…I’m so sorry Allison,” he says with tears flowing from his eyes, “I’m sorry I couldn’t be the man you wanted me to be. You were always a better hero than I could ever be.”

In a daze of grief and tears, Nick doesn’t know what to do. He sings old songs they used to dance to together. Nick tells her of the good times they had together. He talks to her corpse as if it’ll bring her back. As if his tears will bring her soul back. After what feels like hours, Nick lifts his head and sees a clipboard with notes on it. He picks it up and reads what they wrote about Allison. They say she was a high-value target here in Hillside City. The Doll Factory was spying on them and the person Nick found in the forest was one of the spies. They planned on kidnapping both of them but were afraid to confront Nick after what he did, but once he left his house, they quickly moved in and settled for just Allison. It turns out that she fought against her captors to a stalemate. Since they had respect for her, they gave her a knife and gave her the choice to either; submit willingly to them or to kill herself to which Allison obviously chose to kill herself. They then chose to mutilate her body, so they can pack it and fix it in a way that they can use it later as another one of their dolls. Some of them actually tried testing her out before they heard they were under attack.

This temporarily replaces the sadness Nick feels with unending rage. His body transforms yet again to its final rage form.

His tendrils are now four fiery arms. The hole in his chest is now on fire along with his eyes, legs, and his soul. His hands are permanently made into fists with charred chains. Again, he gains an inordinate amount of power that allows him to teleport. He goes from criminal hideouts to abusive households to kill and let out his anger. The entire city is affected as his grief and rage infects everyone. Some people start fights and become impatient while others struggle to contain their feelings.

Nick kills over thirty people before reaching the final Doll Factory hideout on the other side of the city. In it, he rips apart everyone he can see besides the slaves who he sets free. The slaves flee in terror as Nick repeated tears apart the bodies of the Doll Factory guards. A young boy then walks out of a hidden room. Nick stops his slaughter as the boy looks among the bodies with tears in his eyes. A pair of bodies, a man and a woman, catch his attention. He runs to them, puts his hands on them, and cries. It appears that the two people he’s crying over are his parents. The boy gets up in a fit of rage and attacks Nick who defends himself.

“Stop it kid!” he says, “Your parents were human trash. You’re better off now than before!”

The boy doesn’t listen, which gets on Nick’s nerves.

“Stop it!”

Nick punches the body in the chest and makes him fall down in pain.

“Stay down! Don’t make me kill you! I’m telling you you’re going to have a better life without them!”

The boy tries to get up and Nick tries punching him in the chest again but ends up hitting the boy since he gets up. The boy’s neck is now completely broken and dies shortly after. Nick’s heart feels like it has completely stopped for the second time tonight as he has taken the life of an innocent. He yells out in pain and anger directed at himself as his monsters come out of his mouth and his power is taken away.

“Now do you see? You can’t handle this power,” the other him says.

“Ok…Ok. I give up. I give up the power I took. I give up killing.”

“That’s all we wanted to hear.”

His monsters start to fade from his vision.

“What? You aren’t going to haunt me or anything?”

“Your wife’s death will do that for us.”

His monsters then completely fade away and Nick can no longer see them or take their power. He sobs in the dark for a bit before hearing the disembodied voice of his wife in his head.

“Nick, you’re a hero to people. You’re my hero.”

He remembers what she said when he asked her about his charity events and speeches he made to inspire people.

“I love you and I always will,” the memory of her voice rings again.

“Yeah,” Nick says to himself, “That’s what I’ll do.”

Nick destroys his mask and leaves it behind. From the hideout, he walks back to the city. Not only does the pain of losing Allison and his guilt set in, but the pain he’s sustained kicks in as well. He’s been shot, stabbed, and hit multiple times. He tries to keep moving on but he eventually succumbs to the pain and collapses. After a few seconds of laying in his own blood, he opens his eyes to see Allison. An invisible barrier separates the two. Nick is on the side where souls are being purified in a fire while Allison is on the side where everything good is.

Allison places her hand on the barrier and says, “Do you mean it? Are you going to redeem yourself?”

Nick puts his hand where hers is then says, “I-I will. I promise you that.”

“I didn’t seriously ask that. It was rhetorical. I know what you did, but I also know the way you act.”

“Allison…”

“Heh, don’t worry. I’ll see you again. Don’t be afraid to make yourself happy and find someone else.”

“No, wait…”

“I love you, Nick.”

“I love you! Don’t-”

Nick wakes up in a hospital bed and jolts up. He sees all of his cuts, bruises, and injuries patched up though he can still feel the stinging pain of them.

A doctor enters his room and says, “I thought you’d wake up soon. Thank God.”

The doctor is a woman who is a bit older than Nick. She has green eyes and black hair with one or two strands of gray hair. There’s something about her that Nick can’t help but find attractive.

She catches his gaze, blushes then continues saying, “We guess you got caught up in that big city-wide panic. No one can really figure out what caused it though that’s not to say it hasn’t happened before.”

“Did…did you save my life?”

“I am a doctor and it is my job, so…yes, yes I did.”

Nick laughs a bit, but it pains him to.

“What’s your name?”

“It’s Morgan.”

“Morgan, I’ll make this up to you. I swear.”

“That’s sweet of you to say, but you don’t have to. Besides, aren’t you married?”

“My wife died last night. A friend told me the Doll Factory took her and she killed herself instead of letting herself be subjected to them.”

“That’s horrible! I’m so sorry.”

“You don’t have to be. Let me do something for you instead. I’m going to be doing more for people from now on.”

“That’s great, but-”

“No more buts. Let me help.”

From then on, Nick dedicates his time to helping others. He gives more to charities and spends his time helping others. He starts his own boxing school in Hillside City where he teaches people of all ages how to defend themselves. The painful memories of his wife’s death and the innocent life he took come back every now and then, but he fights through the regret so that can redeem himself. He talks to people in conferences and at his school about the lessons he’s learned and tries to inspire people to be better. Nick dedicates his life as he does this day in and day out without rest. He becomes a better man and an inspirational figure to most people he meets and to those who hear him speak. His redemption is just a practice of his that he does every day, but it’s the genuine effort and dedication that he puts into it that makes it count.

About a year later as he walks the streets of the city, he hears something in a nearby alleyway. He goes to the end of it to find Morgan with cut up clothes. She’s sobbing and holding herself over her recent loss.

Nick walks up to her with a welcoming smile on his face and says, “Do you need help, beautiful?”

Growing Up Late

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

Chapter 1 – Old in Age but Young in Mind

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“I’ll take the first option then.”

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

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

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

“That’s peachy.”

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

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

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

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

“Okay, where to now?”

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

“What’s this challenge supposed to prove?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

Chapter 2 – Hunter and the Hunter

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“I do. It was a fun place to be in.”

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

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

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

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

“What? No quip about your video games?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Zita gets on her knees and bows before the hand.

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

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

“Okay.”

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

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

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

“No, you’re going to have to go.”

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

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

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

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

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

“Oh…well. Um…”

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

“Okay. Will I ever see you again?”

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

“Alright…well. Goodbye then.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

Chapter 3 – Deadly Ignorance

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

“I’m used to dying.”

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

“How do I do that?”

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

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

“You don’t need to go anywhere.”

“Sweet.”

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

“What do you mean?”

Zita is immobilized and falls onto her floor.

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Umm…Ahhh…I got nothing.”

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

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

“You have the right idea.”

“Wait-Nevermind…I’ll go through it.”

“Good.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Then open your eyes.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“I wouldn’t do that.”

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

“Will it be more painful than the last?”

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

 

 

 

 

Chapter 4 – The Death and Rebirth of Self

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

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

“What about that room?”

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

“It’s my recording room.”

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

“He…I guess consent doesn’t matter.”

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

“Alright.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“I’m doing good. How are you?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

The End