Always One Step from Hell

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Chapter 1 – Lechery

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Why don’t you ask one of them out?

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

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

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

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

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

“Let us clean for you, Anita.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“No, He doesn’t!”

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

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

“Get away from me!”

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

“I won’t!”

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

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

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

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

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

“Until my death!”

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

“Ow!”

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

 

 

Chapter 2 – Gula

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

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

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

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

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

“I appreciate it. Thank you.”

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

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

“Hey! Excuse me! Mister? Ah!”

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

“Excuse me!!!!!”

“Hello, miss. Is something the matter?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Indulge yourself, honey. You deserve it.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“AAAAAAHHHHH!!!!”

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

“I’m not some ravenous animal.”

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

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

“I can control myself!”

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

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

“I can endure it!”

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

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

“Come on. Open up wide!”

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

 

 

 

Chapter 3 – Avaritia

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I shouldn’t.

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

“Princess!”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“No, I’m not. This isn’t real.”

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

“I don’t need it.”

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

That demon is behind me now.

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

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

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

“Not going to happen!”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

Chapter 4 – Inertia

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“He knows I’m not a lazy wife.”

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

“Good. You can leave me then.”

“I’m not that lazy.”

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

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

“Then you’re going to be disappointed.”

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

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

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

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

“This is still my responsibility.”

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

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

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

“You’re really talkative for being lazy.”

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

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

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

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

“Too bad.”

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

 

 

 

 

Chapter 5 – Ira

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Look at the freak.”

“She’s barely able to control herself.”

“What a child.”

“And a spoiled child at that.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Thank you for the kind gift.”

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

“Will do.”

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

 

 

 

 

Chapter 6 – Invidia

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“I pray that I won’t.”

“Then you better keep praying.”

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

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

 

 

 

Chapter 7 – Superbia

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

AAAAAAHHHH!

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

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

“You came back!”

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

“Oh, get in here you, dork!”

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

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

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

But I bet you’re still thinking about it.

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

 

The End

Choice and Consequence of Redemption: Fresh Blood

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

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

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

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

Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Crime and Punishment

 

Prologue – The Beginnings of a Killer

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

Chapter 1 – A Killer’s Night

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“I’m more sentimental about my life.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“What?”

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

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

“Let’s see it.”

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

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

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

“Fair enough.”

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

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

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

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

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

“Or some sort of code name.”

“Call me Amon.”

“Call us Sirene and Caim.”

“Heh, you like that series too?”

“What series?”

“Nevermind. I need to get back home.”

“See you again, hopefully.”

“Sure.”

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

 

Chapter 2 – Keeping your Demons

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

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

“Shut up.”

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

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

“I’m ready.”

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

“Did you have fun last night?”

“I did. How was work?”

“It was “great” as always.”

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

“You want us to be like your parents?”

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

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

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

“We already don’t have to.”

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

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

“Do you mean literally or…”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“I’m not trying to say you’re not.”

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

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

“That’s absolutely horrible,” Allison comments.

“…I know.”

“If only we could do something about it.”

“…”

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

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

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

“Yes.”

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

What Allison says catches Nick by surprise.

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

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

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

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

“Y-yeah.”

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

“…”

“Anyways, should we go out now?”

“Yeah.”

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

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

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

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

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

“Not if I can’t resist it.”

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

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

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

“Which one do you think it is?”

“What do you think?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“I don’t know.”

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

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

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

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

“It seems like you already have.”

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

 

 

Chapter 3 – A Massacre Everyone Will Enjoy

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

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

“I’m glad you’re here.”

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

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

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

“It’s a shame.”

“You don’t mean that.”

“Of course I don’t.”

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

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

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

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

“Right.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Good luck Nick.”

“You too.”

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

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

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

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

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

“She won’t find out.”

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

“After this. Maybe I will.”

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

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

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

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

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

Nick stays silent as the pain in his face subsides.

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

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

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

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

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

“Some random people and some high valued people.”

“Such as?”

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

“Just tell me!”

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

 

 

Chapter 4 – Righteous Anger

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Stop it!”

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

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

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

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

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

“That’s all we wanted to hear.”

His monsters start to fade from his vision.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Allison…”

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

“No, wait…”

“I love you, Nick.”

“I love you! Don’t-”

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

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

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

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

“Did…did you save my life?”

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

Nick laughs a bit, but it pains him to.

“What’s your name?”

“It’s Morgan.”

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

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

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

“That’s horrible! I’m so sorry.”

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

“That’s great, but-”

“No more buts. Let me help.”

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

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

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

Love is Revenge’s Best Motivator

Zander is a noble general who is on his way to becoming the ruler of his country. The current ruler has allowed himself to be possessed by a demon. This has allowed him to rule with absolute authority in order to make the country stronger and expand its borders. Afraid of Zander’s eventual replacement of him, the ruler secretly orders some of the troops to allow Zander and his group of soldiers to die in the next battle and they do. Zander’s head is cut off and the rest of his forces are wiped out.

Unsatisfied with the destruction he’s caused, the ruler decides to go after Zander’s family. He sends a small loyal force of demonically possessed soldiers to his house and burns down the house. Zander’s wife, Prisca, tries to save their children but is caught by falling debris. Desperate to save her children, she cuts her trapped right arm off with Zander’s sword, however, she falls through the floor and is unable to go back up to where they were. She tries to find some way outside of the house to get upstairs, but the house collapses and her children and everything she has is destroyed.

Catching her in her shock, the demonic soldiers try finishing her off. Prisca does her best to fight off the assault with her singular arm, even though it is obvious that she is outnumbered and under skilled. The spirit of Zander comes down from the afterlife and fights off the demons for Prisca. His skills outmatch the demons as they can’t do anything against a pure spirit who is also skilled with a sword. Most of them retreat, but one manages to sneak up on Prisca. He carves the Chinese symbol for death in her left eye before being taken out by Zander.

Before being sent to Hell, the demon says, “You’re marked for death, Prisca! Other beings like me will be after you. There will be no rest for you until you die! Hahaha!”

Finally free from danger, for now, Prisca cries over the ruins of her family as it rains.

Zander tries comforting her by holding her. “Calm down. I’m here with you.”

“Some timing you have! Our children are dead!”

“I know. I saw them in the afterlife. I’m allowed here in the mortal realm to aid you in defeating our demonic ruler.”

“I don’t know if I can do this. I don’t even have my right arm. I can’t fight like I used to.”

“It’s okay because I’ll possess you to help you fight, but you have to allow me to do so when the time comes.”

“I still…”

“I’m here with you now. Remember that there’s nothing that can stop us when we’re together.”

Zander wraps and heals Prisca’s wounds. He then kisses her then holds her hands to make her feel his power and love for her.

He then says, “We’ll send that demon to Hell together and free our country from his control. I promise you that we can do this.”

Prisca breathes in deeply. “Okay. I trust you.”

“I knew you would. We have to hurry. Evil is heading our way.”

Prisca collects herself, sheathes Zander’s sword, and heads off in the direction of the capital city. Because of his efforts and rank, Zander was able to earn a nice house not too far from the capital. It’s a nice area with plenty of natural beauties to it such as rivers, flower beds, and good land to grow crops. Prisca can only look at it now as she says goodbye to it.

She says to Zander, “Do you remember those days when you were home from war? The days that we spent together enjoying each moment of being together as if it were our last?”

“How could I not? Those are some of my most treasured memories.”

“And what about our first time meeting? Doesn’t it count up there with them?”

“Of course it does. I didn’t know the day meeting you in the streets would end up like this.”

The rain, mud, and pain that Prisca is going through starts to harshly strike at her nerves.

“I need to hear more,” she says, “All of this is eating at my soul. I don’t know if I can survive it.”

“I’m here. Don’t-They’re here. Get ready.”

Zander possesses Prisca’s body. Despite missing an arm, she holds her sword as if she still had it. Zander’s spirit arm helps her hold it up and keep a proper fighting stance in the pouring rain. A shadow moves in the dark sly and silent.

“Be on your guard. I’ve imbued my sword with the ability to exorcize demons. Let me handle this,” Zander says as he helps Prisca move.

Because of the frail condition of her body and her weakened spirit, Zander is able to easily move Prisca even though he’s never possessed someone before. He’s never even fought a demon before, so he tries to be ready for anything. Meanwhile, Prisca’s thoughts are empty. She’s calm as she moves along with Zander. The two have never felt closer. As his thoughts flow through hers, she remembers his memory of being killed, the betrayal he felt, and his judgment by God.

“Now’s not the time to be remembering that, Prisca.”

Figures start forming out of the darkness with their arms formed into swords ready to slash at Prisca. Zander senses their presence when they form and immediately reacts and cuts them down. He slashes at the shadows at the ground and the ones that form into soldiers. Archers form out of the shadows and shoot at Prisca from a distance. Zander manages to dodge them and even deflects back at the other shadows.

Seeing that they need to step up their efforts, the shadows and darkness of the small farm town then converge to a single point to form a singular being. This large shadowy demonic creature is comprised of two legs, two arms, three tails, and three heads with demonic faces. Its body is full of faces who laugh at Prisca since they think she has no chance of survival. It then begins to throw rocks and chunks of the ground at Prisca that Zander miraculously manages to slash through. The creature then uses its large fists to squash Prisca, but Zander manages to slash through its fists as well. Seeing that the creature’s fist regenerate because of the shadows, Zander keeps cutting down its limbs. First, its legs go then its arms, heads, and then Zander cuts into the creature’s chest then thrusts his sword into the core of the creature. The moon regains its light as the monster is destroyed and its body disintegrates into the light.

The damage it caused is now clear as some of the houses in the small town have major damage done to them. Some of the farms and flower gardens are ruined while the houses have major parts of it missing. The sounds of agony, loss, and fear are heard from the people who have suffered the most. Prisca feels their pain along with Zander.

“What happened here was terrible, Prisca, but we have to keep moving, otherwise, we’ll only be bringing them more suffering…”

“…right.”

Prisca’s mind has gone numb after experiencing so much suffering in less than an hour. She moves without feeling into the nearby forest so that the demons don’t hurt anyone else. After a short walk, she rests underneath a tree to give her some protection from the rain. Zander releases himself from her body and heals whatever damage that was done to her during the battle.

He says, “This battle is going to take a lot out of us, but if we cooperate like we just did, then we can take down the ruler.”

“…”

“We did great. That nightmare of a creature didn’t stand a chance against us. I told you that there’s nothing that can stop us.”

Prisca starts to smile to Zander’s relief, but then she starts to laugh in a crazy way with tears falling down her face. She holds out Zander’s sword and thinks about taking her life.

“Prisca! Calm down!”

“That’s easy for you to say, haha. You’re going to Heaven with our children after this. I’m going to have to struggle to stay alive.”

“I know what you’re feeling.” Zander puts his hand on Prisca’s and the two feel each other’s feelings. “You can feel how worried I am about you. The pain I feel over the loss of the lives of our children and the way things have turned out for us, but there is hope for us. We can make it out of this if you trust in God and me.”

“If you say so.” Prisca kisses Zander’s immaterial face.

“I’m sorry. I wish I could kiss and hold you as well.”

“You’re going to have to make it up to when I die then. Tell God to hold you to it.”

Prisca uses the tree trunk to help her stand up before heading off to the capital.

“I’m not sure if I should be more or less worried about you now.”

“If I die, I’ll be with my family. If I don’t, I’ll be a hero. It’s a win-win if you ask me.”

“I don’t think you’ll become a hero. You will bring peace to the land though. One of my most trusted friends should be the next ruler since I had him trained to be in case, I suddenly died on the battlefield or an assassin took my life.”

“I’m glad you were prepared for that, but you weren’t prepared for twins. I remember seeing your shocked face and you being scared for weeks. How can a general who constantly stares death in the face be scared of two of the sweetest children ever?”

“I know more about warfare than caring for children.”

“It’s scary stuff, isn’t it?”

“I don’t know how you did it.”

“It’s because I loved my children and wanted to give my husband the best children possible.”

“I didn’t think you would fail me even for a second.”

The rain starts to slow down as something in the environment changes. Zander quickly possesses Prisca and assumes a fighting stance.

“What weird demon do you think is after us next?”

“I don’t know. I just know it’s dangerous.”

“Thanks for the obvious information.”

“Silence. It’s coming.”

The rainfall progressively slows down until it completely stops. Zander stops as he closely listens to any possible footsteps until he catches them that sound like a single drop of water. He slashes at, cutting the water in the air. It then starts to pour again.

“Did we get it, Zander?”’

“No.”

Prisca runs underneath a tree for cover from the rain. It then begins to thunder.

“Move!”

A bolt of lightning strikes the tree Prisca is near and almost electrocutes her.

“What are we going to do?”

“Dance like we did at our wedding.”

“Dancing with lightning. How romantic.”

“Concentrate!”

Lightning strikes all around Prisca as Zander helps her dodge around it. A direct hit is about to hit her, but Zander manages to slash the demon within it while protecting Prisca from the electrocution.

“That was amazing!”

“Did you expect anything less from me? The demon isn’t done with us yet.”

“What else could it throw at us?”

“Watch out!”

The demon takes the form of rain again and is falling upon Prisca. Zander tries cutting it, but it gets on Prisca anyway.

“What’s going on?”

“Prisca! The demon is on your body. You have to trust me and stab yourself with the sword.”

“Don’t trust that demon, Prisca! I killed the demon for you. It’s just influencing your thoughts to try to make you kill yourself.”

The voices sound the same so Prisca doesn’t know what to do.

“Zander?”

“You’re going to have to trust me! Stab yourself and I’ll protect you!”

“Don’t listen to its insanity. It’ll go away from your mind eventually.”

Prisca takes a chance and thrusts the sword into her chest. Before the tip of the blade can touch her chest, the demon releases itself from Prisca. Zander takes back control and quickly upward slashes the demon, sending it back to Hell in pieces. The rain stops pouring and begins to calm down.

“Thank you for trusting me,” Zander says.

“I’ve never not trusted you,” Prisca replies.

“Come on, let’s keep moving.”

Prisca makes it far enough into the forest to see the capital in sight. The rain finally dies down as her goal is nearly within reach. Zander removes his control from her body as the two travel along the deserted road.

“How did you know stabbing myself would release the demon from me?”

“It was honestly just a bold guess.”

“A bold guess?!”

Prisca tries hitting Zander with the hilt of his sword multiple times.

“You’re not hurting me.”

“I’m still getting satisfaction from this!”

“Come on, stop messing around.”

“Fine. Do you have a plan for me to get close enough to the ruler to cut his head off?”

“My friends and his garrison should be there guarding the castle. If I say something to them that they would know, they should let you in.”

“I’m not sure if it’ll be that simple.”

“I do have backup plans if that doesn’t work.”

“I hope so.”

“Hope that we don’t bump into any more trouble along the way.”

“I doubt we won’t. They have to know how close we are.”

“And here one is on cue. You didn’t hope hard enough!”

“I’ll hope more when we kill it.”

Zander possesses Prisca again as she assumes a fighting stance.

“It seems that my constant possession of you has allowed you to copy some of my skills.”

“Good. I’ll need them after we succeed.”

“At least you’re thinking positive now.”

The various rock formations and trees start shaking around her until she is lifted into the air just near the top of the rest of the trees in the forest.

“What is this, Zander?”

“It’s a turtle dragon. That demon must’ve let it rest here in case we got close to the capital.”

“Shadow demons, rain demons, and now this? Why not? We can take it!”

“That’s the spirit!”

Trees and rocks on the dragon start forming themselves into parasites and attack Prisca. Zander dances in between them and easily takes them out because of their large size. The dragon then turns its head completely around, extends it, and swallows Prisca. Inside the belly of the beast are the skeletons of its previous victims near treasure.

“What happened to these people?”

“Turtle dragons like these act like small tunnels with sparkling treasures in them to lure in greedy treasure hunters. Once inside, the travelers starve to death with the treasure they went through the trouble to get,” Zander answers.

“That isn’t going to happen to us.”

Zander cuts through the dragon’s stone interior, which does major damage to it. Its defense system of parasites try defending its inside to no avail. With his sword in Prisca’s hands, he cuts open the turtle dragon, killing it.

Prisca gets out of the corpse of the dragon and says, “If we can defeat that thing, then we can beat that demonic ruler.”

“We can, assuming he doesn’t have any tricks up his sleeve.”

“You said to have hope, right? Then let’s have hope.”

“You’re right. Let’s keep going. We’re almost there.”

Once she finally reaches the capital, Prisca grabs a cloak to not draw attention to herself. Zander then leads her to the entrance that her friend should be guarding. He finds him there and his friend recognizes Prisca.

“Prisca. It’s good to see you, but what happened to your eye? Why do you have death in it?”

“Because the demon you serve marked me for death after taking everything away from me. I’m here to avenge my husband and my children. Please let me through.”

“I know our ruler is corrupt but it is my duty to protect him. Zander would agree with me. I’m sorry.”

“Zander has helped me get this far. His spirit has given me his skills and strength.”

“Prove it.”

Zander possesses Prisca and says, “Move it you, fool or do I need to tell your soldiers about the paintings of your wife that you keep in your bunker? I’m sure it’ll boost troop morale.”

“Ah! Zander, you are here!”

“That’s right. Our ruler is completely corrupt and killed me because I was going to be the next ruler of this country. Move aside so I can dethrone him myself.”

“I will. Godspeed, brother.”

“Thank you. You will be the ruler in his place as planned. You can’t say we did this for you or else you will be executed for conspiracy and the assassination of the rightful ruler. Be ready when the time comes.”

Zander’s friend nods as Prisca walks away into the castle. She makes her way to the throne room where the demonic ruler is waiting with his sword drawn.

Zander says, “It’s over, demon! You killed me, but God has granted me revenge.”

“Zander, do you really think you can beat me by possessing your wife who only has one arm?”

“We do,” Prisca and Zander say in unison.

“Then your arms better make up for hers.”

Six arms with swords come out from the ruler’s back. Despite his disadvantage, Zander manages to keep up with the flurry of attacks and cuts off two of the extra arms.

“Gah! Impossible!”

“If you only knew the odds, then you’d know that it’s impossible for you to win.”

“Ahhhhh!”

Zander then cuts off another two arms then another two on both sides, which leaves the demon with his original two arms.

“Your reign is over.”

“Not by a longshot!”

An arm comes out of the demon’s mouth with a sword and cuts off Prisca’s other arm in an instant. She writhes in pain as Zander gets her to dodge the demon’s finishing blows. The demon then laughs as continues his assault.

“I’m not giving up yet!” Prisca says as she thinks of a plan that Zander allows her to execute.

She slides through the demon’s attacks and picks up Zander’s sword with her mouth. Zander’s possession of her allows her to fight this way and cut off the mouth hand before beheading the demonic ruler. The symbol of death fades away from Prisca’s eye since the ruler is sent to Hell.

Prisca lets go of the sword in her mouth as she says, “We did it!”

“What did I tell you? Nothing can beat us when we’re together,” Zander says as he heals and wraps Prisca’s dismembered arm, “I’m sorry about your arm. I didn’t expect an arm with a sword to come out of his mouth.”

“It’s okay. We freed the country and you can move onto Heaven.”

“Right. Let’s get out of here.”

Prisca exits the castle the way she came. Zander’s friend sees this and brings in his fellow soldiers to show them what happened in order to take control of the throne. Meanwhile, Prisca rests on the streets of the capital, tired and weary.

“This is hardly a good treatment for a hero,” Prisca says.

“You’ll get your reward in Heaven where our children and I will be waiting for you.”

“How will I survive until then?”

“A priest will come by to take care of you.”

“Are you kidding? I’m of no use to anyone.”

“After what happened tonight, can you truly say that? I’ll be praying for you until I see you again.”

“I’ll see you then. I love you.”

“I love you too.”

Zander shares one last real kiss with Prisca before he fades away from her vision into a bright light that no one else in the capital sees.

After a few moments, a priest walks up to Prisca and says, “Poor woman. You need shelter and a place to stay.”

“I don’t think I’ll be of any use to you, father,” Prisca says as she shows the priest her lack of arms.

“Do not worry. I need people to talk and inspire others. I’m sure you will do this because I was led here to you.”

“Is that so? Ha, alright.”

Prisca becomes a teacher for a small convent in the capital while Zander’s friend becomes the next ruler of the country. Rumors of what happened circulate through the country. The most popular one is that the corrupt ruler had Zander killed and his spirit took revenge on him. Others include mentions of his wife, but she doesn’t play an important role. Despite getting neither glory nor rewards in this life, Prisca moves onto a happy life where she cares for new children to become as brave and strong and she and her husband are.

The End

The Monster and His Mistress – Part 1

Download for free on Smashwords – https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/793384

 

A teenage boy and girl wander the land of Eurasia the time of kings and knights in search of adventure, conflict, and redemption. To say they are merely children is a severe understatement. The boy has the soul of a warlord who has destroyed nations, killed innocent people, and taken their possessions. It was not until the girl, who was a woman at the time, came to him and readjusted his view of the world. Though he did not like what she was saying, he couldn’t bring himself to raise his hand against her. She showed him beauty and goodness in the world and in people that he was completely blind to. Her presence gave him peace that his possessions could not, so he married her. The blood of his actions, however, could not be washed away with the little time he had left to redeem himself and was cursed to live forever on the earth until it was. Though she was allowed into Heaven, the girl turned away from it and held onto the boy and promised to help him on his journey. He tried to push her away, so she wouldn’t be caught up in his punishment, but she stuck close to him. As part of his punishment, he was granted the blessing to turn into a white devil with six tendrils that protrude from his back. He can exact righteous justice on those who deserve it and the punishment will fit the crime. The girl was granted wisdom and knowledge to guide the man’s decisions and be his source of relief and happiness. The boy wears a hooded sackcloth, which is a far cry from his royal robes he once wore. It’s covered in the blood of the innocents he killed, and the blood is so much so that it looks naturally red instead of brown. The girl wears a simple white and red dress similar to the one she was married in.

The two of been through times of ruin and peace. Throughout it, the girl has kept the boy under control and on the road to redemption, but in some cases, the boy’s intuition and knowledge of the fallen humanity helps him make instant judgments while the girl’s empathy has lead to the death of innocents. As much as she helps keep him on the right path, he does the same every now and then. They still continue their journey throughout the land of Eurasia to not only obtain the boy’s redemption, but to also bring justice and peace.

 

Part I

As the two walk along a forest path, they come across an apple tree with a woman picking fruit from it.

The girl says to the woman, “Excuse me miss? Can we have an apple each? We’ve been adventuring for a while now and some fruit would help us immensely.”

“Oh, of course you can!”

The woman tries to get more than two apples for them, but as she shakes the tree to pick the apple, three loose apples fall on the girl’s head. This enrages the boy to which he transforms into the white devil.

“You wench!” he yells out, “How dare you be so careless in the presence of my beloved!”

His tendrils retrain the woman’s legs, arms, neck, and body. Her punishment then comes on her. A single apple falls on her head. Once her punishment is complete, the boy’s tendrils release her, and she runs away in fear of the two. The boy goes back to his human form once she’s clear of them.

“Are you okay my-”

He receives a hard backhand to the face from the girl.

“How many times do I have to tell you to not worry about me when things like this happen?!” she says, “Do you like getting slapped?”

“Kind of…” he says with a smirk before getting slapped again, “I was joking…”

“Hmph. Hopefully we won’t see that woman again so we won’t have trouble in the nearby town. Are you seriously eating the apples she dropped?!”

“Uh, yes? Want one?”

She takes an apple before backhanding him again. They take several apples with them as they enter the nearby town. The town has various churches and bustling marketplace since it’s a town of commerce and community. There’s an art contest being held at the art section of the marketplace and the girl decides to join in.

“Why don’t you join too?” the girl asks the boy.

“Nah. I don’t exactly…create things.”

“Nonsense. I’ve seen you doodling when you were bored and with pen and paper.”

“Yeah, but I wouldn’t call my doodling good art.”

“Just join with me for fun!”

“I guess I should, but why am I even doing this? I’m a grown man.”

“But mentally you’re a child.”

“I was a conqueror of men!”

“And now you’re my husband, which means I’ve conquered you and your men. Come on already!”

“…fine.”

The two go up to the adult who is taking the names of the participants.

“Hey kids!” a woman who appears to be a mother says, “Are you going to be making art with us today?”

“Yes mam!” the girl says.

The boy doesn’t say anything until the girl elbows him.

“Yes mam.”

“Can I get your names before you enter?”

“My name is Bella, and this is my boyfriend Mao.”

“Oh! A couple drawing together eh?”

The woman elbows and smiles at a man who the kids assume to be her husband. He smiles and laughs.

“Now that I have your names, you should look around here for the supplies you need to draw. We also have hundreds of pieces of art around the marketplace, so take a look around if you need some inspiration. It also doesn’t hurt to ask others for help. Got it?”

“Got it!” Bella says.

“Yup. I got it,” Mao responds.

“The contest starts in twenty minutes, so you still have plenty of time and don’t forget. This is just for fun, but still try your best!”

Mao and Bella go around to get their tools and drawing material. They go around the marketplace to find inspiration for their work and once it’s time to draw, they put their skills to the test. Bella draws a bright picture that has a small bunny with flowers around it. She uses paint, brushes, and her finger to draw the picture. Mao, on the other hand, draws a war-torn knight in bloodied and injured, but still charging towards battle. He uses charcoal and his sackcloth to erase and draw shapes and figures. Oddly enough, Mao wins the contest. Since Bella and Mao had previous experience in drawing and their competition are just normal kids, they outclassed the others by a mile. As a reward, Mao gets a small reward of money, a fruit basket, and a kiss from Bella.

“Congratulations young man!” the mother says, “I’m sure your parents are going to be very proud of you!”

“I-I guess so.”

Bella and Mao go to a fountain near a church to eat the fruit basket.

As Bella drinks in the feel of the town, she says, “This reminds me of my hometown.”

“That’s where I first met you. I came to raid your town, but you came out by yourself and got me to back off.”

“I’m that special, aren’t I?”

“Most towns don’t have a single woman coming to meet an army. Special isn’t half of it. I’m sure your parents were worried about you when you did that. What do you think my parents are thinking about me right now?”

“I’m sure they’re proud of you for changing.”

“I don’t know about that.”

All of the sudden, two girls run by and push the two into the fountain then run away.

“What was that for?!” Mao says as Bella tries to keep him calm.

A man helps the two out of the fountain while saying, “Don’t mind those two. They’re not used to losing so they get a little mad when they do.”

“Thanks mister,” Bella says then waits for him to leave to tell Mao, “I remember girls like them when I was little. They’re nothing, but jealous princesses who are full of themselves.”

“What do you want to do?” Mao asks with a bit of curiosity.

“The same thing I did to them years ago. Get revenge.”

Both Mao and Bella deviously smile at the different ways to get revenge from Bella’s innocent but humiliating ways to Mao’s harmful but simple ways.

“What are you thinking Bella?”

“I’m thinking that we should return the favor of them cleaning us.”

Bella gets several pale of water that are from the bathrooms and the two get on top of the rooftops. Mao uses his man tracking skills to find the girls and finds them with their friends. Bella and Mao wait until the girls walk closer to them to pour the water on top of them. Once they do, they quickly dump the water on top of the girls then sprint away as they hear their screams. The couple laugh then reward themselves with a little dinner date at an outside restaurant. Mao eats a steak while Bella eats fish.

“I didn’t know you were like that Bella.”

“What do you mean?”

“That you take revenge in that way. I thought you were a very forgiving person.”

“I am…most of the time, but I can’t stand prissy little girls like that.”

“Did other people in your town know you were like this?”

“I kept it secret from them, so I could always get away with what I did.”

“Do you know I like you more and more with each day?”

“I do.”

Before they can kiss, an incoming parade catches their attention. The town is celebrating the death of the tyrant that was Mao. They have fake statues of Mao and Bella that are half destroyed and covered in drawings.

“Hoorah! Hoorah! The demon Mao is dead and is rotting in hell! Praise be to God!” they say, “May all the earth rejoice in his absences! May we rejoice also in the death of his useless wife who tried to make him pay for his sins but failed.”

“Mao…This isn’t right. No one’s death should be celebrated like this!”

“I don’t mind it.”

“But!”

“I don’t mind it! I’d celebrate my death like this too because of the things I’ve done.”

Mao sighs as he turns to watch the parade as it passes by him. He watches how happy everyone is that he died and how they celebrate it with streamers, confetti, and fireworks.

“You know Bella, I’m happy that I died. I’m even happier that I got the chance to redeem myself and that you didn’t go to Heaven to help me out. The reason why I don’t really mind what they’re saying is because your opinion of me is all that matters…Bella?”

Bella has moved from her chair and is now in front of the parade.

She yells out, “What is wrong with you people?! No one’s death should be celebrated no matter how horrible they were! Stop this celebration at once!”

The crowds don’t take too kindly of Bella’s defense of Mao and start yelling at her and throw stones and various hard objects at her.

“Bella! You bastards!” Mao says as he transforms into a white devil.

The sky turns black as judgment is going to be dealt. Mao shields Bella from the projectiles and the crowds are shocked by Mao’s appearance.

“You people are just as evil as the people you mock!” Mao says in a demonic voice, “What kind of people praise death and throw things at a child wiser than you?!”

Mao’s tendrils spilt into multiple tendrils to catch everyone and hold them as they are judged. The things they threw at Bella levitate and get thrown back at them harder than they were thrown. Hard rocks then fall from the sky to ruin the parade and rain on the marketplace. Mao carries Bella out of the town as the rocks pelt everything and everyone around them. Though no one in the town is seriously hurt, houses, shops, and the other buildings and streets were heavily damaged. The people of the town then prayed for forgiveness as they rebuilt what was damaged because of their actions. Mao and Bella are now far away from the town as they continue Mao’s journey for redemption.

“Mao…I’m sorry you had to see that parade.”

“Like I said I didn’t mind it. The worst thing about it is that the statue they had of you had a bigger butt and chest than you did when you were that age.”

“What?”

“Your actual chest and butt are smaller and I’m not trying to say that it would be better if those parts of you body were bigger. I mean that’s probably the inner teenager in me speaking, but you know. I’m just saying.”

Mao takes one look at Bella’s mad face.

“Oooooh boy.”

Mao then starts to run away as Bella swings at him while saying, “I’ll show you who has smaller private body parts!”

 

Part II

After a beating and two days, Mao and Bella come across a village. There are several farms in this village along with a church and a school with various houses and shops near it. Bella brings Mao to a farm where the owners are allowing a few of the kids to ride the horses they have.

“I swear Bella! Your childlike personality is out of control!”

“But look at the horses!”

“I had dozens of them, but you didn’t care much for them.”

“That’s because you had them scarred to mark them as yours.”

“It made them look intimidating and battle experienced!”

“You made them look like a fantasy horse.”

“Which is scarier than a normal one.”

“Right…and I’m the one with a child’s personality.”

Since Mao isn’t too fond of riding the horses, he gets the adults to put him on it as she rides in front and he has to hold onto her back.

“This is embarrassing!” Mao says.

“This is great!” Bella says as she rides around the field with the horse.

It’s always been one of her favorite things to do years ago. She used to race horses with her fellow town’s people and do obstacle courses. Feeling that she still has the skill, she goes through the obstacle course that’s on the farm ground. Since Mao’s teenage body isn’t used to riding on a horse and wasn’t sure about Bella’s risky movements, he threw up after they finished their ride. Everyone who was watching claps at Bella’s performance and the owners tell her she can come back anytime she wants. They give her and Mao an apple pie as they leave.

“Can we eat it now?”

“But you just threw up!”

“And now I’m hungry because of it!”

“Fine.”

They both eat half of the pie before continuing to walk through the town. Unlike the previous town, this smaller one is quieter and less busy. It still manages to stay alive seemingly because of the community and farms around it, but the area itself has nothing of interest to Mao and Bella so they move on to the next area of interest. Along the way, they come across highwaymen robbing a young boy. The boy appears to have already tried resisting to no result.

“They’re mine,” Mao says as he transforms and tangles the robbers in his tendrils.

Everything they have including their clothes disintegrate and the thieves are left with nothing though the boy’s possessions are untouched. They run away from Mao in fear while the young boy stays where he is because he doesn’t know what to do.

Mao transforms back to a human and asks the boy, “Are you alright?”

“Yo-You’re like me?” the boy says.

“We both are,” Bella says, “Now go back to where you’re from.”

“I can’t I won’t,” the boy says as he collects what was stole from him.

“Why’s that?”

“It’s full of terrible people who touch me in weird ways.”

“We’ll deal with them. There’s a farm town not too far from here. Go there and they’ll take care of you.”

“Thank you so much!”

As the boy leaves, Mao says, “This place should be interesting.”

“That means we have to be careful,” Bella says.

“It means we’re going to be encountering a lot of sin and I love ridding the world of it.”

“Don’t be so caught up in violence. It’s what got you in this situation in the first place.”

“It’s what lead me to you, so it’s not all bad.”

“Don’t sweet talk me like that mister or else you’ll be getting my hand on your face again.”

“I love you.”

“…I love you too.”

Bella tries swinging at him, but he dodges it.

“Ha! Missed me, missed me, now you gotta kiss me.”

Bella kisses Mao’s face then smacks it.

“That was worth it.”

The couple makes it to the town the boy was from and it appears to be a cesspool of sin. It even smells the part as well. This town is filled with prostitutes and killers alike that don’t mind showing their private business in the open. Among the crowd, Mao spots a normal looking family that appears to be moving from the town. This familiar sight of a good family in a terrible area brings Mao back to his childhood.

“Do you think my parents are proud of me?” Mao says aloud without realizing, “Did I really let them get the best of me when they died? Do they regret having me after I did? Am I a bastard child? Bella?”

Mao notices that Bella isn’t with him and panics. Back when they were adults, Bella used to be interested in the human figure and liked making art that bordered on pornography. Mao is thinking that she’s watching these people and getting caught up in them for her “art”.

An older woman pulls Mao aside and says, “You’re a cute young man. Want to have some fun?”

Though this woman looks better than Bella, Mao rejects her by saying, “I don’t associate myself with harlots. Besides, I’m married.”

“Who cares about marriage? Trust me, when I’m done with you, you won’t want to be married.”

“I respectfully reject your offer now leave me be.”

The cougar pins up Mao against the wall and presses herself against him

“It isn’t an offer.”

She begins to lick his face. He responds in turn by biting into her neck and tearing her throat out, which he could do since it is self-defense. Mao leaves the woman to choke to death on her own blood as he turns to the rest of the people.

“Ssssinnnnnn,” Mao says in a snake-like voice as he transforms into the white devil.

He uses his tendrils and the people of this place receive their judgment.

“You have abandoned God and He has abandoned you in turn. You’re all mine now, which means you get my favorite execution. Shred and rip them apart!”

Blades and thorns come out of the ground to slowly cut and tear apart everyone. Blood and guts splatter the ground as Mao searches for Bella. He finds her naked with a piece of paper with one of her drawings on it. It doesn’t appear that she was harmed or sexually assaulted, so he quickly carries her away as the entire village sinks into the earth. During the next morning, the runaway boy goes back to this place with a couple escorts and only finds several objects that were stolen from other villages and towns. Mao is still carrying Bella who is still naked, but he isn’t in his devil form.

“How long do you think it’s going to be until I get another pair of clothes?”

“Hopefully soon.”

“Why’s that?”

“…Is there a correct answer to that?”

“Yes. Pick it.”

“…So no one sees you naked? But you being naked isn’t something that I mind!”

“That’s right.”

Bella kisses Mao’s forehead. As they keep moving, a traveling merchant appears from behind them. Mao turns around to hide Bella’s nakedness.

Mao says to the merchant, “Excuse me sir. Do you mind if we buy a pair of clothes from you? My wife here got them stolen.”

“Of course! You can have them for free. I have a perfect dress for her.”

It may be a coincidence, but the merchant gives Bella a red and white dress that she had from before. She gets changed and thanks the merchant and tries to give him money for his gift.

“It’s no problem my dear,” he says, “I don’t ask for anything from the needy. May I ask where you’re heading?”

“Wherever the road takes us,” Bella tells him.

“How about you two travel back to my house with me? Rest for a bit then leave?”

“Thank you. We’ll take your offer.”

Mao whispers to Bella, “Are you sure?”

“I’m sure.”

Mao and Bella board the carriage. As they travel to the merchant’s house, Mao falls asleep and rests across Bella’s lap.

“How far did your husband carry you?”

“Maybe ten miles at the least.”

“He must really love you then.”

“Of course he does. He’d do anything for me.”

“So why are you on your journey? If you don’t mind me asking.”

“It’s for his redemption and that’s all I’ll tell you I’m afraid.”

“Well that journey should be coming to an end soon. A man who would carry his wife for miles can’t be all bad.”

“I know he isn’t, but some people won’t see that.”

“Give them time. I’m sure your boy will show them who’s better.”

Once they arrive at the merchant’s house, they put Mao to bed who is still sleeping. Bella repays his kindness by helping around the house and fix his merchandise. She teaches him a couple recipes to use when selling food that she remembers from the royal chefs she had as a queen. After all that, Bella tells the merchant to prepare a special event for Mao when he wakes up. Mao eventually wakes up a couple hours later and doesn’t know where he is. He grabs a nearby object as a weapon to protect himself.

“Bella? Bella?” he says while wandering the house.

He eventually sees candlelight in the kitchen to which he goes to.

“Surprise! Happy birthday!” the merchant, his family, and Bella say as Mao turns the corner.

He almost swings but then says, “What?”

“Were you not keeping track of the days?” Bella asks, “Today is your ‘fourteenth’ birthday!”

Mao is embarrassed and sheepishly says, “I-uh. Thanks, but I don’t think I deserve it.”

“Of course you do!” the merchant says, “You carried your wife all the way to help. You’re what I call a real man!”

The merchant’s wife says, “Now would you do the same thing?”

“Of course I would especially if you weren’t wearing clothes!” he responds.

They all laugh, but Mao is still surprised by the celebration.

“Come on Mao! Sit down.”

The family and Bella have a cake made for Mao with candles on it. They sing him happy birthday as he sits at the head of the table. Bella sings while she holds him and while this is happening Mao is trying not to cry, but he can’t help but smile. He feels loved in the same way that he did with his family and Bella. His armies never did anything for him like this nor did they love him as his family and Bella do. Mao blows out the candles and everyone cheers. They then eat the cake and celebrate Mao’s birthday. The first birthday in a while that he felt good about. He eventually warms up to the family and talks to them though he doesn’t tell them who he and Bella really are. The couple leaves the next day with food, water, and good memories of this family. Starting the day after the family met the couple, the business they have starts to thrive as tons of people start buying food, clothes, and various other products from the father. He says to this day that both Mao and Bella are a blessing to this world.

 

Part III

Though they didn’t intend to, they’ve finally come back to Mao’s home country, the main capital to be precise. It’s in a state of civil war as Mao and Bella’s children fight against the leaders they put in before they died. Their children, like Mao, fell to bad influences as they were spoiled after hearing the power and strength their father had before he met Bella. They think their mother made their father weak and were constantly arguing with their father as he became a more peaceful man. Thinking they would need more help, Mao and Bella ordered several wise elders to control their country and continue teaching their children the right way to live. It doesn’t appear to have worked, but both Bella and Mao don’t think their children are behind this. As they make their way through the destroyed streets, they think about who could’ve done this.

“It has to be those bastards who were a bad influence on them!” Mao says.

“I’ll rip them apart! No one messes with my babies!” Bella yells out as she runs at full speed.

“What are we going to do if our children decide to fight us?”

“Let’s hope they haven’t committed too many evil acts. I can only imagine what inspiration they took from your old self.”

“Oh no.”

Mao sees one of the worst inspirations his children took from him. To make people fear him, Mao would take the bodies of people and impaled them to the ground and to buildings as a warning. He would impale the elderly, the fit, the poor, the rich, the young, it didn’t matter to him at the time. The bodies would stay there and rot in the cities of his enemies and his conquered. If anyone would bury or move them, they would be executed, and their bodies would be impaled on the streets as well.

“We have to get to them now!” Mao says with extreme worry.

Mao and Bella make it through the death and destruction to find their five children at the castle gates with their army behind them. They’re trying to knock down the gates to get to the rest of the civilians and resistance. Both Mao and Bella are transformed into adults so the soldiers and their children will recognize them. Mao is wearing his old armor set while Bella is wearing a luxurious white and red dress. They notice this and appear to realize the meaning of it.

“Clear the way! Your king returns!” Mao announces as to get the army’s attention.

The army sees their king and queen return and bow in their presence. Their children are shocked by this and stop breaking down the gates.

The army proclaims, “The king and queen are immortal! Give praise to the ultimate rulers of the strongest country on earth!”

They cheer and praise them, but Bella says, “Silence! What have you done to our capital city?! It lies in ruin with your fellow men and women lying in their own blood! Shame on you all especially the ones who made our children do this!”

One of the soldiers says, “But they organized it all! No one else made them do it.”

“My children would never do such a thing! If you do not want to face the righteous wrath of God, then turn your lives around and leave now!”

About one hundred and fifty soldiers of the four thousand retreats. Mao and Bella’s children approach them and the oldest, Martino, speaks for them.

He says, “Now that you are immortal you might see truth. Tear down this gate and restore this nation to its former glory!”

Mao says in a stern voice, “My son Martino, have you not seen sense yet? Blood and destruction is not the way to get what you truly want. It is through love of God, others, and self that will give satisfy and bring you what you need. Your mother taught me that.”

“Mother is a dolt who acts hypocritically. She’ll take childish revenge, draw pornography, and hit you to show her dominance.”

“Not everyone is perfect, and temptation gets to us every now and then. Be thankful those three things are the only things she does.”

“She matters not to us. Take back the kingdom and go back to your old ways so we can conquer the world!”

“Please. Don’t let me do this.”

Bella starts to tear up as she says, “I love you all! Please! Turn around and change your ways!”

“If you won’t turn let go of this woman then I’ll kill her for you father!”

“No!”

Mao unintentionally turns into the white devil and his tendrils restrict his children and call down their judgment.

“Please, don’t be so harsh on them,” Bella begs.

“I don’t have control of it,” Mao says with fear.

Seven angelic executioners descend from Heaven and behead all five of Mao and Bella’s children then toss their bodies into the abyss. The executioners then kill the rest of the army who didn’t retreat while a cherubim shields Mao and Bella as they mourn for their children.

“Why did this happen?” Mao asks the cherubim who doesn’t want to answer.

“Because that’s the way our kids were,” Bella answers for him, “There’s nothing else we could’ve done. It was their decision and they have to live with it.”

“I know that, but…but I want there to be a different reason.”

Mao looks out as his men are killed and his city brought to even more ruin than before. His fists are clenched, so Bella hugs him from behind to calm him. After the fight ends, all three thousand eight hundred and fifty soldiers lay dead. Though they tried to fight back, the executioners sustained no injuries from the army. The cherubim and executioners then rise back to Heaven and the gates of the castle open. Mao’s most trusted official, Shun, walks out to them.

He says, “You’ve brought us angels to save us. You truly have achieved redemption, my lord.”

“Not yet,” Mao responds, “I still have much to do.”

“I am sure that you will obtain it soon since you are alive and the angels came down to your aid.”

“I hope so my friend.”

“Are you going to rule us again? You were our mightiest king and there might be more rebellion.”

“No, I won’t. I died and am reborn for a different purpose. There won’t be any rebellion for generations after what has happened today, so be at peace. Again, I command you my last command. Keep the city safe and continue to teach them in the ways of our Lord God.”

“As you wish my king. We will begin with repairs for the city and burying of the dead.”

“If you couldn’t repair my child-”

Bella grips Mao’s arm while tears are still in her eyes.

“Forgive me my king. We tried our best-”

Mao puts his hands on Shun’s shoulders.

“I’m sorry too. I should’ve been a better king and father to begin with.”

The two old friends embrace then say their final goodbyes again. Once Bella and Mao leave the city, they turn back into teenagers. They hold hands as they go as they bear the pain of their children’s deaths. As the day turns to night, the sky light starts to turn into various colors and appears to be dancing around. Bella and Mao come to a field of roses and begin to hear angelic music played.

“This must be the angels comforting us,” Bella says with wonder.

“They should after what we’ve been through,” Mao responds with some distain.

“Don’t be that way Mao. They’re doing us a favor. Appreciate it. If we weren’t there to stop our children, then they would’ve killed more people.”

“…You’re right.”

“Let’s enjoy this and let the past be the past.”

Mao and Bella enter the field of roses and begin to dance to the music. The music is unlike anything made even by the great musicians Mao obtained for Bella when she was queen. Its cadence, tempo, and sound are foreign, but it brings peace to their souls and a smile to their face. The lovers dance and dance until they fall in exhaustion. They smile at each other and cuddle while admiring the lights in the sky then fall asleep.

Rested and rejuvenated, they continue their journey. They approach a small town and see that a prophet is talking to the people in center of town.

He says, “The tyrant Mao is alive and young! Be wary of him as he is dealing harsh judgment to everyone who shows their sinful nature!”

Mao and Bella don’t exactly know what to do about this. The prophet seems to have been told this information by someone in Heaven because they don’t think word of what happened yesterday has spread yet even though they aren’t far from the capital city. They decide to keep low and see if this town will be of any interest to them. Throughout the day, Mao and Bella help people out then disappear before they are rewarded for their efforts. The two do acts such as; stopping thieves, picking up things that people drop, cheer up young children, and help store owners clean up their vandalized markets. Of course, Mao has problems doing most of these acts besides stopping thieves, but Bella humbles him and gets him to help these people. A messenger from the capital arrives and tells the people what happened there yesterday.

The prophet comes out and says, “My words have come true before I predicted them! Heed them for Mao is among us!”

The couple try to leave town, but a few people catch them and try to bring them before the prophet. Fearing for Bella’s safety, Mao transforms into the white devil. Everyone from the town gathers in awe of the reborn tyrant.

“Behold! I, Mao the Tyrant, am alive! I, the tyrant that spilled the blood of hundreds of thousands of people and killed their children or sold them for a profit! Deal your judgment to me while you still can!”

The town is silent as to what to do so Bella speaks up.

“Don’t do anything to him! He dealt righteous judgment to his children and their armies and now they lie in ruin. He is a changed man who only punishes the wicked and sinful! Today, he and I helped you with your problems, so please! Don’t hurt him!”

“Young girl, who is Bella his wife,” the prophet says, “We do not deal in revenge. We only offer forgiveness.”

Mao is taken back by this then says, “Wa-What? I had to have done something to you that has made your lives worse than it is. Do something about it!”

The villagers come one by one to say, “I forgive you.”

With each “I forgive you”, Mao staggers and collapses in weakness. He turns back into a teenage boy and cries because of the town’s mercy. Bella embraces him to calm him down then the people of the town offer them a celebration for Mao’s victory in the capital and change of heart. Everything from music to food is prepared in minutes and Mao is the center of attention. Bella sits with him and tries to get him to smile, but he’s too shocked in tears to do anything. Eventually, she gets him to dance with him and talk with everyone who tell him how thankful they are that he’s changed his ways. The party the town put together in minutes lasts the entire day and by the next morning, Mao and Bella leave the town with leftovers from the party and more energy to move forward.

 

Part IV

“I’m sorry Mao, but I have to leave you.”

“What?! Why?!”

“You’re smart enough to figure that out on your own.”

A pillar of light takes Bella into Heaven, which leaves Mao completely alone.

“Why?!” Mao yells to the skies, “I’ve done everything that you’ve told me to! What else is there I can do besides fix the entire world?!”

Nothing and no one gives him an answer to his questions. He doesn’t know which direction to go and for what reason, so he just paces back and forth. Thinking that he’s still supposed to do something, he goes in a direction that feels like its pulling him its way. Along the way he finds a couple taking a morning walk. Jealous of them, he attempts to intervene in their walk, but is blocked off by an invisible barrier. Mao can only watch as the two enjoy each other’s company.

“There has to be a reason I’m seeing this. I have to be learning something!” Mao says to himself.

He quickly escapes the couple’s presence as it becomes unbearable and enters a village. Mao and Bella usually get into interesting situations in places like this, so Mao hopes something will happen as he sits down on the streets. There’s nothing about him that is different from a common beggar. Mao begs for something to happen to give him purpose. He hopes that someone will extend their hand to give him comfort and attention. As his frustration and depression increases, he feels the need to judge the people of the town for ignoring him. His abilities, however, are restrained for whatever test he’s going through, so he just sits in the dirt alone, angry, sad, and isolated from the one he loves. Eventually he passes out and awakens in a church.

The hooded pastor says to him, “It’s good to see that you’re awake my son. Eat and drink this so you can feel better.”

Mao eats a piece of bread and drinks a small cup of water that the pastor gives him.

“Why did you help me?”

“Because I try to help all of my children.”

“Well you didn’t help much.”

“What do you mean? You were hungry and thirsty, so I helped you there didn’t I?”

“That’s not the most important part.”

“Then what is?”

“My wife is gone.”

“Gone?”

“Heaven took her.”

“That sadly happens to every husband unfortunately.”

“But she’s my moral compass, my source of happiness, and the person that kept me going.”

“God usually fills that role for most people.”

“Heh. That guy and I have a complicated relationship.”

“How so?”

“He’s the reason I’m still alive to make up for my past, let’s just say.”

“Shouldn’t that be a good thing?”

“Not when I don’t have my wife with me. She’s everything to me.”

“You shouldn’t deify her.”

“I understand that God is our source of morality and the main reason why she is the way she is, but…”

“But you make your wife the center of your world. Let me help you see how things really are.”

The hooded pastor helps Mao up and brings him to the front doors of the church. The village is bustling with happiness, goodwill, and love as if everyone’s worries and pains went away in an instant.

“This is the world I wanted to see every day,” Mao says as he watches everyone.

“How were you going to make it this way?” the pastor asks.

“Drag out the evil people and execute them one by one. Don’t ask how I know, but that doesn’t work.”

“Did your wife changes your ways?”

“She did. She showed me the beauty of the world and how to be a better man. I’d probably be in hell right now if it wasn’t for her.”

“But she wouldn’t be a good person without…”

“I know, I know she taught me that, but God shouldn’t diminish her importance.”

“He doesn’t. It’s you who diminishes His importance.”

“I’d like for Him to give me a reason to not do so.”

“Your wife. Your continued life for a chance at redemption. Any more that I need to mention?”

Mao doesn’t want to say anything else.

“Let me show you a world that you would’ve created.”

The pastor closes and opens the door to reveal a village burned to the ground with bodies gored all over the ground.

“How did you do that?!” Mao says out of astonishment.

“Does it look familiar?”

“Who are you?!”

The church doors close.

“You already know.”

“You?! I have a few things I have to get off my chest!”

“Then do that if you haven’t already.”

“Why did you take Bella away from me?!”

“As we were talking about, you deified her. I think it was time we fixed that.”

“What about my children?! Why did we send them to hell?!”

“Because of their deeds and refusal and accept my help. You were on a similar path to theirs until you changed.”

“And why was I able to change, but not my children?”

“They had your wife’s persistence.”

“…You got me there, but why keep me here on earth? Haven’t I done enough already?”

“Do you think you are just here for redemption? Did you not think that the acts you have done are not for some higher purpose or to answer prayers?”

“Enough of this!”

“Didn’t you say once you would fight me?”

“I did.”

“Since you can’t beat me in a game of intelligence, how about we go with strength? What weapon will you use? The strongest weapon you have is a blessing from me and doesn’t work on me. So what are you going to use? A sword crafted with human hands?”

“I’m defeated okay?! You got me from turn zero, so let your will be done on me! Strike me down and let my life be yours!”

Mao falls to his knees and closes his eyes as he waits for his execution. Instead, he is hugged and brought to his feet.

“Now you understand my son.”

Love and tranquility fills Mao as a light envelops him and he is teleported to a field with a small lake. There he finds Bella who was waiting for him. The two yell for each other then embrace with a kiss.

A light from Heaven says, “You have already achieved your redemption, but there is still much to do on earth. What do you want to do?”

“You know better than I do lord.”

Mao closes his eyes again and lets whatever happens, happen. He gets lifted up into the air with grace and elegance then dropped into the lake.

“Take a bath,” the light says before fading back into the sky.

Bella joins Mao in the lake. The two splash water at each other while enjoying their reunion together with Mao enjoying it the most. After being cleaned, they dry up in the sunlit field.

Bella turns to Mao and asks, “What do you want to do next my love?”

“We continue helping the world together,” Mao answers, “What better thing is there to do?”

“Enjoy each other’s company alone for a bit longer.”

“I like it, but you know we have forever together.”

“Of course. So, should we get moving?”

“Yes and let the lord’s will be done.”

Check out the author’s edition on Amazon! – https://www.amazon.com/Monster-His-Mistress-Albert-Oon/dp/1986118584/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1520183203&sr=8-2&keywords=albert+oon

In Winter’s Clutches

Download the full story for free on Smashwords – https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/910409

Chapter 1 – So Young, but So Evil

It’s Christmas time again and Linus is back to his old ways. He acts like a spoiled brat with a long Christmas list and shows off the good things he does to make everyone think like he earns them. With his overbearing personality, he forcefully gets his way even if he’s doing wrong. If he does wrong, he justifies it by blaming his stress to do good and the responsibilities he has. There aren’t many people in town who actually like him. Most think ill of him while some pray for him to change.

His parents don’t believe in harsh discipline, so this behavior of his has been the same for years with no change in sight. On one harsh winter day, Linus comes back from donating a portion of his payments to a local church. In relation to the amount he got, he only gave a little, but the people in the church thought he gave a lot because of how much he gave. While exiting the church, he accidentally knocks over a nativity scene set that was sitting outside. Many of the figures are broken into pieces and scattered in the snow. Because he wants to get home early to relax, Linus disregards his accident and walks away. On the way home, he comes a homeless man curled up in dirty bedsheets sitting in the doorway of a closed store. The man has received generous donations with various fives, tens, and even two twenties and a fifty-dollar bill in his cup.

Linus sees that the man is barely awake. He thinks to himself that he can take the cup away and if he feels guilty, he can bring it back, but a bit lighter of course due to his fee of mercy. Once he grabs the cup and takes it away, a paranormal force within the snow storm takes him away with its winds and makes him disappear. The chilling gust of wind wakes up the homeless man. He looks down to see that his cup full of donations hasn’t moved as if Linus never took it. Thankful for the donations, he goes to church to donate some of it before using it to rent an apartment room and a warm meal.

In a dimension separate from earth, Linus finds himself in a more intense snow storm. There are no buildings or people nearby, only snow and ice.

A light with wings in a human figure appears to Linus and says, “Because of your continued selfishness, you must rediscover what it means to love.”

“Where am I?”

“You are in Winter’s Clutches. A pocket area in the pride layer of Hell.”

“Hell?! But I’m just a kid!”

“You are within the age of reason. You know what you did was wrong, and you’ve been doing it for years with that knowledge. Now you must redeem yourself or suffer the same fate as those that eternally wander this frozen wasteland.”

“Am I just going to freeze here while you lecture me?”

“No, you will not. This is a dangerous area with many dangerous spirits within it. You have to travel to my light to get to a safe area. This is to test your faith and determination to change. Don’t follow a false light or stray from the path or else the demons of pride will chase you until they catch you and trap you here forever.”

“This is unfair. Haven’t I done enough to make up for my mistakes?”

“All of your good deeds are vanity because you did them to reap the rewards rather than to love. Come to my light and be saved. Your soul rests in your hands.”

“Wait!”

The light travels to its destination within a blink of an eye. With no other choice, Linus begins to walk through the snow. The ground itself is uneven, but it isn’t obvious as all of the snow is fairly level with each other. Sometimes Linus can walk on top of the snow while other times it’s up to his waist. Some of the ice is hidden within this thick layer of snow, which makes him fall on the hard ice a few times. Linus has to walk carefully through the snow while enduring the harsh cold weather at the same time. It’s a taxing process that takes its toll on him within minutes.

The only thing driving him forward is his will to live and the light ahead of him. It gives him a warm feeling, but it also makes him feel guilty. When the wind blows, he hears every selfish act he’s done and word he’s said. He doesn’t want to think about it and tries to keep his guilts out of his head. His eyes begin to tear up because of his guilts and the shame he’s feeling.

Another light in a different direction then catches his eyes. It looks similar to the light he’s following, but it gives him a different feeling. He no longer feels guilty as his good actions are praised by the wind. The light itself gives off a weird cold chill that feels warm and comforting. The thought then occurs to Linus that what the light said to him might’ve been a trick. He’s always tried to do the right thing, so why should he be forced to do this challenge in the pride level of Hell of all places.

He decides to follow it instead of the original light. As he walks towards it, he feels stronger and more energized. To Linus, this seems to be the right way because of how it makes him feel and the idea he has about it. He then begins to hear other movements besides his own. It sounds like someone or something is walking in the snow. This makes him remember the demons of pride that will come after him should he stray from the light. He counters this thought by thinking that he’s hearing another person like him walking in the snow. Surely there must be other people like him since this dimension is so vast and expansive.

The sound of the being moving through the snow then begin to sound irregular for a normal person to be walking through it. It sounds like something large is trying to quietly and slowly walk through it. This sound seems like it’s heading in his direction. He thinks to himself that someone must be heading towards the same light he’s heading too since it seems to be the right one. This thought keeps him calm until the sound gets really close to him. When he turns around, he is shocked by what he sees.

It’s a tall, white, and lanky creatures with long legs, arms, and fingers. Its legs have a singular sharp foot that it uses to take long steps with. If it was in a simple room, it would have to bend down because of how tall it is. The demon then points at Linus with its contorted and long fingers as if it’s accusing him. It slowly opens its mouth while a noise that sounds like the scraping of nails on a chalkboard comes out. The silent rise of this noise is distracting and painful to listen to, but the soon of something moving behind Linus gets him to turn around to see a demon on all fours with a smile on its face and arm raised. He quickly rolls out of the way and runs towards the original light as the demons chase him.

They crawl on all fours and are fast enough to catch up with Linus who is the fastest runner in his school. The demons swipe at his legs, head, and arms to try to grab or trip him, but he manages to just barely stay ahead. Linus then runs across a frozen river. He slips and slides across it while trying to balance himself. He then comes to a halt around the center of the river with the demons standing in the snow.

Thinking they can’t walk across the ice, he smiles and says, “Ha! Can’t get me now, can ya?”

The demons smile then walk on two legs. With long strides, they rapidly close the distance between them and Linus. In a panic, Linus slips and slides across the ice until he reaches the solid snow just in time to avoid the demons’ clutches. He keeps running until the light is within reach. Once he gets to it, he enters into a simple cabin with a fireplace, chairs, and a dinner table with holiday food and drinks ready to consume. Linus eats his fill of ham and turkey and drinks a jug of tea because of how hungry and thirsty he is after the long chase.

The light with wings and a human figure comes out of the fireplace. Its face is clearer now, but it doesn’t appear to have one. It says, “Linus, I’m glad you made it.”

“Me too. Can you tell me what I need to learn so I can get out of here?”

“Have patience, boy. You will learn everything you need to know in good time. Tell me what charity is about.”

“It’s about helping the poor and needy.”

“It’s much more than that. It’s about showing your love of God by showing love to your neighbor. You show this by sacrificing or giving something to someone else who needs it.”

“Don’t I already do that when I give to charities and to the church?”

“Not at all even though it is the same act. It is your motivations that are wrong. You give to other people to make yourself feel good. To be praised and to be rewarded for your ‘good deeds’. You don’t even give enough for your charity to count as a sacrifice. It would be one thing if you gave a little because you had little, but you have so much more to give. You give so little that you might as well have not given at all.”

“Oh…I get it now. I can’t even save money, can I?”

“Currency is meant to be spent. You can save it up as long as you plan to spend it on something good that God would approve of.”

“Would if I become poor?”

“God takes care of all his creatures. The birds of the sky don’t work and are rarely given food by other creatures and God makes sure these creatures are fed. If He cares about them enough to feed them, then He will surely take care of you as well. You will eventually die and lose everything you have here except for your soul. That is unless your soul is rotten then it will be thrown into the eternal fire.”

“Why is this so serious? I thought the holidays were supposed to be a light and joyful time.”

“When you spit in the face of that in the form of your actions, especially during the month of the King of King’s birth, then your punishment must fit the crime.”

“I see.”

“You’re a smart boy, Linus. If you open yourself up to understanding, then you will survive this. Rest for now then head back out into the storm.”

“This isn’t over yet?”

“Not quite.”

The light fades back into the fireplace as Linus sits on the couch by the fire and passes out.

 

 

 

Chapter 2 – An Example to Remember

A cold chill makes its way into the cabin and wakes up Linus.

The light says to Linus, “You have to get going. The demons are coming.”

“Okay, okay.”

When Linus opens the door, the cabin behind him is swept completely away from him as if it was a piece of paper. The chilling wind bites yet again into his skin, which makes him brace himself. He lifts his head to see the light waiting for him in the distance. This time it seems farther away than last time. After a traveling a short distance into the storm, Linus finds himself in a forest with frozen trees and plants.

The vegetation here appears to be good enough to eat, but it’s stuck behind a thick sheet of ice. There are hide sheets of ice hidden near the vegetation as if they were placed there to purposefully slowly kill the vegetation or to trap someone hungry enough to be seduced by the appetizing look of the fruit. Linus makes sure to watch his steps while traversing this forest that soon becomes maze-like. Some of the trees are clustered together with ice surrounding them. He could fit through the gaps between the trees, but the ice is too slippery to attempt that. After what he experienced, he’s decided to not take any shortcuts no matter how right they feel to take.

Sounds of movement then catch his ear. This surprises him since he thought that he was doing the right thing. There shouldn’t be any demons chasing him, but then again, the light did say the demons were coming. Regardless, he still takes his time navigating the frozen forest. Even when the demons are in sight, he calms his nerves while focusing on the ice around him. There is a total of five demons around Linus or more. It’s hard for Linus to tell if the same ones are following him or if they’re more in the forest because of how the winter storm is. The demons themselves don’t seem to see him nor know where he is despite being so close, which is in stark contrast to how easily they found him in the frozen wasteland.

The idea gets into Linus’ head that him straying from the original path was the thing that attracted them to him like how the light said. He tries to keep thinking this as the demons cross paths with him and come uncomfortably close. Fortunately for him, there are plenty of trees and rock-like bushes to hide behind along the way. Progress through the forest goes by smoothly and without a hitch until one of the demons gets frustrated. It slams its fists into the ground several times like a primate while yelling its terrible yell. Smaller humanoid figures appear in the distance. At first, they seem to be normal people, but their lack of clothing makes them look extremely suspicious. Half of their head then splits in half to reveal a mouth with dozens of sharp teeth. The people also have a hole in their chest with a shriveled heart inside. These people appear to be the ones who failed to follow the light.

This shocks Linus as he becomes unsure of what to do. He tries dealing with them like the demons, but their erratic movements with their limbs and heads disturb him. It’s like they’re suffering inside their bodies and are trying to break out of them but can’t. They let out high pitched screams inconsistently, which shocks and makes Linus stay in place. He wants to keep moving to not end up like these people, but his fear keeps freezing him in place. This gets him in trouble as a demon comes close enough to see him.

Another chase ensues as both the demons and condemned souls run after him. The demons are able to easily traverse through the frozen trees and ice. The condemned are able to bite their way through the trees and their erratic movements negate the slippery ice. More shortcuts are in sight as if the forest itself is alive as false lights begin to shine through the trees.

They whisper to Linus, “Follow us.”

“Come to us.”

“We’ll keep you safe.”

“We’ll lead you to salvation.”

“The angel will only damn you.”

“You were right all along.”

“We’ll handsomely reward you.”

Linus does his best to ignore these voices no matter how sweet they sound or how enticing their offer is because he knows that it won’t end well. He manages to stay ahead of all the monsters while staying on the path towards the light. The storm then begins to pick up with snow quickly covering the ice around him. He has to have faith in the light ahead of him in order to not slip or walk on the ice. Even though he does slip a couple times, he makes it to the light by the skin of his teeth.

He finds himself in a cabin again with food, drinks, and warm fireplace there for his efforts. Linus digs in because this challenge was more taxing than the last. Even though what just happened might’ve seemed like it took a half hour at the most, he feels like it took a couple hours or even three hours at most to get through it all. After getting his fill, the light emerges from the fireplace, but this time its body is clearer. It appears to have a masculine figure with robes made from that of a tiger.

It says to Linus, “I’m glad you made it, but you can’t always get by like this.”

“I didn’t mean to.”

“I know. You must have faith and not fear any of the abominations that wander this plane of existence. If you do that, nothing will worry you. Not even death.”

“I’ll have to practice that then.”

“You’ll have plenty of time to here.”

“Oh great. Now, what do you have to tell me now?”

“What are you most grateful for?”

“My parents and the skills that I have.”

“Name some more things.”

“…I can’t.”

“What about this chance you are given to change? A lot of people lead lives like yours fully aware of their horrible actions and live them anyways without any plans to change or take responsibility for what they do.”

“I guess I am. I don’t feel thankful for it, but I guess I should. Why am I given this chance?”

“Because you were about to go over the point of no return. Your way of thinking is also able to be humbled in order for your ways to change.”

“Were the other people I saw out there like me?”

“Yes, they were. Everyone is given the same chance and the same level of difficulties to overcome. None are handicapped or given an easier challenge.”

“So then how did those other people die?”

“They chose to give up. They thought they knew better and did what they wanted to instead of following the instructions they were given. You were smart enough to pick yourself up when you fell.”

“Alright!”

“Don’t let it get to your head. Remember that this layer of Hell specifically punishes the prideful.”

“I’ll be sure to.”

“Good. Now rest up for the next challenge. Because what you’ll be facing next is so daunting, remember also to have faith and hope. These will carry you through what seems to be an impossible obstacle to overcome.”

“Can you tell me more?”

“Unfortunately no, but the only thing I can tell you is to not slip up.”

“That doesn’t sound good.”

“It wasn’t meant to. You should, nevertheless, be able to pass this challenge if you follow my advice. I trust that you will even though this may be the toughest one.”

“Great.”

The light goes back into the fireplace as Linus continues to eat and reflect on what the light told him. After about ten minutes, he falls asleep by the fire while holding onto a pillow as if it were his mother. He wishes he was back home with his family to tell them how much he appreciates them and how sorry he is for the things he’s done. There’s a part of him that also wishes that she and his dad would’ve told him what was right instead of approving of all his actions. He wishes that he got in trouble and talked down to so that he would know better. Now, he can only hope they do this to him later in case he becomes selfish and self-centered again.

 

 

Chapter 3 – The Slippery Slope

The cabin Linus is in suddenly shakes.

It wakes him up as the light from the fireplace speaks, “Hurry and wake up, Linus. The demons will be here soon.”

“Alright. Give me a second.”

“Be careful on your way out.”

“Right.”

Linus stretches and gulps down a glass of warm iced tea before exiting the door and falling door a slippery mountain of ice. He manages to catch himself on a piece of ice that juts out from the side of the rugged ice. Looking down at the mountain, he sees that it’s a long way down to the light as if he’s standing on the world’s tallest mountain that can reach the atmosphere. Several icicles, the size of a normal human being, jut out of it that Linus can use to safely slide down to the end. It’s even colder up on the mountain with a harsher wind and biting chill.

The temperatures keep Linus in place as he endures the cold. That is until demons break through the cabin and start slipping down the mountain. Linus then falls from one large icicle to another until his legs almost get caught in a large mouth. There are condemned souls within the ice of the mountain. They still appear to be alive, but these condemned have extra teeth behind their normal teeth that are larger than them. Their hands are little heads as with the fingers being teeth and their palms being mouths.

The condemned twitch and fidget as they try to break out of the thick ice. It seems that there is a countless amount of them trapped within the mountain. The ones near the surface seem like they could break out any second, so Linus makes sure to move swiftly, decisively, and carefully. The demons behind him walk with long strides with their legs while others fall from icicle to icicle like him to catch up. Some miscalculate their movements and fall down the mountain. Others are caught in the mouths of the condemned.

Even though Linus has foes on all sides that are aiming for him, they are unable to get to him despite their best efforts. It’s almost as if there’s an invisible barrier protecting him. Linus continues to keep a steady pace despite the constant close calls and the seemingly never-ending slide down the huge mountain. The light feels closer and closer with each fall down. The wind speaking his guilts and deeds no longer bother him because he sees the chance to redeem himself. A chance to be a new and better person.

As he continues to slide down, several other lights can be seen. They are lesser lights, but they let out a sort of burning freeze. These lights gravitate Linus towards them. He fights against their pull while continuing to fall to the original light. The lesser light’s pull becomes stronger and stronger the closer he gets to the end. Their pull becomes so strong that they completely through Linus off course from where he meant to slide to. He begins to become worried because it doesn’t seem like he’s going to make it.

Knowing the consequences of losing faith, Linus holds onto it and hopes that the light will catch him at the end. Near the end of the mountain, he can see that the lesser lights have long dark skinny hands in them. They reach out towards him and continuously scrape the side of the mountain as if trying to pull the mountain closer to bring him closer. Voices from these lights call out his name and beckon him towards him. Their pull is extremely strong from this distance as Linus struggles to hold onto the icicle. It seems like his chances for survival are slim, but he has no choice but to move. The demons behind him are swiftly approaching and are already reaching out to him with smiles on their faces.

He closes his eyes as he lets go of the icicle and trusts in the light to catch him. As he slides down, the multiple arms from the lesser light converge on him, but a hand from his light grabs Linus in the blink of an eye. After being grabbed, he opens his eyes to see his light holding him. The light’s features are clearer now with eyes on its angel wings.

“You did it, Linus.”

“I…I knew I would…somehow.”

The cabin Linus is in is the same as the rest. His light lets him down so that he can rest.

“What are you going to teach me about now?”

“What you just did to pass the last challenge which is having faith and hope. To have faith is to trust in a person despite your concerns and worries. It’s a constant action you must take every day in order to trust God and those around you. To have hope is to be sure that you will be saved. You must feel some sureness and comfort in yourself to have true faith. Both of these are intertwined and a means of saving your soul.”

“How do I show that I have faith and hope?”

“By doing what you just did. You have to trust in God, in what’s right, and then act from there. Faith without action is a dead faith because it shows a lack of faith in one’s self and in the person being trusted.”

“What about hope? What if things seem hopeless?”

“Then have faith. You know that better things are waiting for you in the future as long as you keep your faith and work towards them. Even when everything seems lost and the chances of success are slim like you saw, you will be caught and brought into safety.”

“Thank you. That’s reassuring to know.”

“You’ve grown so much, Linus and in a short amount of time.”

“Well, when you’re forced to see the consequences of your actions, it can change you in a matter of seconds, right? Also, the constant threat of eternal death and torment help too.”

“That’s always a threat in your normal reality. A single mortal sin will condemn you to Hell and you’ve committed many.”

“Thank God for this second chance then even if it’s a bit harsh.”

“Your parents never disciplined you like they should’ve.”

“They cared about me too much to.”

“But in actuality, discipline is a form of love. It’s better to correct someone you love now than to leave them to reap the harsh consequences of their ignorance later.”

“Will my parents be punished for not disciplining me?”

“In a way, they will be.”

“Can you please have mercy on them? I know that even though they are partially to blame for me being here, can you spare them from their punishment?”

“I can if you make it back them.”

“That’s good. How are they doing now? I bet they’re worried sick about me since I was supposed to be home.”

“Time works differently here. If you return home, it will be as if mere seconds passed.”

“That’s convenient.”

“You only have one more challenge ahead. Be prepared for it.”

“Can you tell me anything that will help me pass it?”

“It’s going to be more difficult than the last.”

“That doesn’t help!”

“Then remember the two greatest commandments. Love God above all and love your neighbor as you love yourself.”

The light fades into the fireplace as it’s given its final word on the matter of the challenge. Linus sits down to eat and rest with what the light said in his mind until he falls asleep.

 

Chapter 4 – Breaking an Icy Soul

For the last time, Linus is wakened up by the light for his last challenge.

“It’s time,” it says from the fireplace.

Linus has woken up groggily every time, but this time he shoots up and immediately goes out the door. He’s now in the icy center of pride. The devil is suspended in the center and is separated from Linus by a chasm. Satan’s limbs, body, head, and throat are wrapped in chains. He fidgets as spirits and energy are released from his body to exert his influence on the world as far as God allows. The body of Satan itself is at least as big as the mountain that Linus slid down.

Several demons and condemned souls crawl up from the depths of the chasm and surround Linus. There doesn’t appear to be any way out as the hordes surround the boy on all sides. They laugh and mock him as they push him around and swipe at him to make him dance for their enjoyment. The condemned souls here are much different than the previous ones. Because they are much crueler, there are more teeth in their mouth, which includes a snake-like mouth in it as well. Additional mouths line their skin that continuously eat their regenerating skin. Along with their hands being mouths, their feet have also become mouths as well. These particular condemned scare Linus the most.

They taunt him by saying, “You’re going to be like us, kid!”

“You can suffer with the rest of the brats here after we tear you apart limb from limb!”

“I’ve forgotten how children scream out in terror and pain! Give us a reminder won’t ya?!”

“We’ll be sure to make your pain last forever and ever!”

Several dark spirits spit out from Satan. The crowd of demons and condemned move aside to make way for them. The dark spirits morph themselves into different versions of Linus that are like the condemned and demons of pride.

One speaks, “I have a pride that rivals the devil.”

Another, “Look how good I am! I’m truly an angel among angels sent by God!”

And another, “What else do I need to trust in besides myself? I’m already amazing as is.”

The doppelgangers then surround Linus and begin throwing punches at him. None of the punches land weirdly enough, which gives Linus the opportunity to fight and push them back.

Unaffected by his attacks, the copies say, “Hahaha! So much for you being a force to be reckoned with!”

“A lowly street dog has more strength than you do!”

“You don’t have a chance to escape with your power!”

The three then start swinging at Linus again, but they never harm him. Thinking of solutions in his head, Linus remembers that through this journey he has learned to despise himself, but that’s not what he’s supposed to do. He thinks to himself that he should love himself and that he can’t everything on his own. He then puts his hands together to pray. As he does this, he can feel, not his heart, but the very core of his soul starts to crack and melt as if it had been frozen for years. A light then begins to shine from his body and scare away the demons and condemned while teleporting Linus away to a view overlooking all of Winter’s Clutches.

He sees all of the challenges he’s faced along with other areas he hasn’t seen. He can even see other normal people going through their challenges. Most fail while few succeed.

The light descends from above and says, “Congratulation, Linus. You’ve done what few do.”

“I guess I can be pretty amazing-if I put my selfishness aside.”

“Do you know what the goal of life is that this season emphasizes?”

“It’s to spread the love that God shows us back to Him and to our neighbor. We do that through our actions during the seasons, but we shouldn’t just show it now. We should be doing this for our entire life.”

“That’s right.”

The light hugs Linus.

“I’m so glad that you came back to your senses.”

Linus hugs back.

“Thank you for bringing me back to them. What happens now?”

A strong gust of snow sweeps Linus up into the wind. When he opens his eyes, he’s standing in front of his house.

“Oh…I guess this does,” Linus says aloud, “But I’ll always treasure my experience and the lessons they taught me. Yes, today, I’m a new boy!”

Linus’ parents step outside the house because they head him talking. He hugs them and tells them how much he loves them and how he’s going to be a better son from now on. He then heads inside with the biggest smile they’d seen on his face in a while. In terms of changing, he takes off things from his Christmas list, goes back to the church to donate more money, and becomes friends with the other kids at his school with the goal of having a relationship with them instead of taking advantage of their smarts and abilities. Everyone in town doesn’t have a clue as to why he changed, but they like it. Linus becomes a loving and productive member of his community with the goal of staying like this for the rest of his life thanks to the lessons he’s learned and the challenges that disciplined him.

 

The End

Happy Holidays and Merry Christmas!

The Thieves and the Child They Orphaned

Download the story for free on Smashwords – https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/908510

 

We have all become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a filthy cloth. We all fade like a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away.” Isaiah 64: 6

Chapter 1 – Doing Penance

We’ve might’ve made a mistake, Sylvia.

Yeah, it was not killing the kid before he could do this to us. He would’ve been with his parents right now if we did, and now we’re stuck with him and stuck with each other like this.

Who was that who put us like this? It seemed like it was God Himself.

Why would He have any beef with us? We don’t do anything that’s evil. In fact, if we did, then we’ve made it up with our heroics.

You got that right. This situation isn’t that bad in my opinion.

I know it isn’t, Simon. At least we know exactly what each other is thinking.

As if we didn’t know already.

“Is the coast clear yet?”

“Not yet, kid.”

“What did my parents ever do to you? Why did you kill them?”

“Nothing. They were just another target on our list. They did nothing but keep themselves happy and never tried to help others.”

“I’ve been trying to get them to do that. If you only gave them more time, then they would’ve helped more people than our family.”

“We didn’t mean to kill your parents. It was an accident. We don’t kill at all unless we need to. The bullets we use are non-lethal.”

“Then why did you try killing me?!”

“Because that’s one of our policies. If we accidentally kill a loved one, we have to kill everyone else who they love if they’re in the same house so they can die together. If they aren’t home, then we leave or send them a valuable gift as a way of saying sorry.”

“Your first way of making things right is horrible.”

“I think it’s a mercy. Do you know how hellish it is living without the people you love? We do. That’s why we do what we do. We lost people close to us by greedy people, so now we’re the Good Thieves.”

“The “Good” Thieves?”

“Yeah, don’t add quotations. We take from the greedy, whether they’re rich or poor, and give to those they hurt. You may have heard of us in the news. We’re pretty popular.”

“Is that why you’re being hunted down now?”

“Probably. We thought this would never happen, but I guess we stepped on too many toes. It’s safe to leave now. The one thing that your parents did do that was good was making a well-hidden closet in their room. It was a great hiding place. Whoever came after us really wanted us dead. Just look at how torn up this place is.”

“Can I bury my parents?”

“Sorry, kid, but we can’t now. We have to move if we want to stay alive.”

“My name is Alastair. Stop calling me kid.”

“Okay, kid. You’re with us now because you asked for God’s protection and he gave you to us. We’re your protectors from now on until we can get this curse off us.”

“I guess I have no choice. Let’s leave then.”

“You don’t order us. We do. Let’s go, kid.”

“Why do you always say we and us? Can’t you talk from one perspective? Your voices sound melded together.”

“This is what true love looks like. We trust each other to the point where we can finish each other’s sentences.”

“Wow. Your voices alternated when you said that.”

“Amazing, ain’t it? We still want to be back to normal since it’s better for us.”

“And I would be out of your life.”

“It’s not like that, kid.”

Yeah, it is.

Haha.

“If we’re supposed to be connected together, can you feel the same pain I do?”

“That sounds stupid-ow!”

“It’s true!”

“Then maybe you can feel the pain I inflict on ourself. Feel that?”

“No.”

“What? It’s only one way? That’s terrible.”

“For you it is. Remember that you’re the reason you’re like this.”

“Don’t smart talk us, kid. We’re your protectors now.”

“You’re more like my adoptive parents.”

“Don’t say that. We never wanted any kids especially since our line of work doesn’t allow it.”

“Are you ever going to stop thieving?”

“Not until every greedy man and woman pay for their sins.”

“That’s never going to happen through your efforts alone.”

“That’s fine as long as we get to see the hurt on them that we inflicted.”

“You don’t trust God too much, do you?”

“Can you blame us?”

“Yes, I can.”

“We’re adults. We have experience and wisdom. You should listen to us.”

“If I want to end up in a mess like you did, sure. Being older doesn’t mean you’re an adult.”

I guess he has a point, Sylvia.

Don’t admit that to him, Simon. He’ll just smart talk us more.

“And now we’re here at our little hideout. What do you think?”

“I expected more from such master thieves.”

“The best thieves travel light. Remember that we have to go from one place to another. The greedy don’t live in just one city and in this country.”

I swear we left our laptops somewhere. Let’s check this…oh no.

“Kid, we have to move.”

“What is it?”

“We’re compromised. Someone rigged our room with traps. I’m just taking the essentials with us.”

“Oh great. I thought you two were supposed to be experts.”

“Let’s hustle out of here before-”

“Ahhh!”

“Damn. They triggered the explosives manually. We have to move before they see us leaving. At least we disarmed the simple ones, so the explosion wasn’t as bad.”

“But won’t the small amounts of destruction make them think we survived?”

“Not if it’s all destroyed when we leave. Get clear!”

“Woah! Okay. I think you used too many explosives.”

“That just everything else in our hideout exploding. At least no one else was around the explosion.”

“Where are we going now?”

“Nowhere right now. We want to see who pops up to check if we’re still alive. We have a secret spot above here so we can see who comes without them noticing us.”

“What are you putting together?”

“It’s our special gun. We can turn it into a shotgun, assault rifle, submachine gun, and we’re turning it into a sniper rifle.”

“How did you get that?”

“We made it ourselves. You can make the best things when you’re motivated and bored.”

“My parents used to make the best things for me. They knew how to build and make things, which is why they were so rich.”

“Congratulations. You got parents who knew how to take care of themselves and their own. That’s not an accomplishment of any kind. Even the worst thieves and murderers we know help the people they care about.”

“What do you have against my parents?”

“Didn’t we already tell you? They’re greedy people who only care about themselves and their own.”

“But why?”

“We’ll tell you after this. Do you see those people down there?”

“Yeah, what about them? They look like normal officers to me.”

“Do you see those three lines on their back? A normal person would just think they’re wearing a strange undershirt, but what it really means is that they’re a group of unknown thieves vaguely known only to the thieving underground network.”

“Are they dangerous?”

“Extremely.”

“What are we going to do?”

“Take them out.”

“What? Won’t the other members hunt us down after this?”

“No, there’s only those few down there and…they’re done. Hello, nine-one-one? Do you know about that explosion that just occurred? Yeah, I know you just sent people to investigate it, but you might want to send more. Come on, kid. Let’s find a place to settle down.”

“There were only those few?”

“Yup. We know more about these guys than most. Nothing is more effective than deception and making people anxious about something as simple as the wrinkles on the back of someone’s shirt. They make themselves look big to intimate bigger foes.”

“Now what?”

“We hide our heads for a while before going back to stealing from the greedy.”

“You can’t!”

“You’re right. We don’t want to be responsible for any more children.”

“No, it’s not that. You can’t just take from people and think you’re justified in doing so because they’re evil. You can’t fight greater evil with lesser evil.”

“Both of us were orphaned by greedy people. It was fate that brought us together so that we could deliver justice to them. We aren’t any kind of evil.”

“Can you please stop being so self-righteous? I’m sorry about what happened to you two, but you can’t be like this. This isn’t going to help anyone. It’s more likely that you’ve created more greedy people. You don’t humble people this way.”

“And you’re more moral than us?”

“I was protected by God and you are forced to protect me. What do you think?”

“Ow!”

“Don’t even try to take out your anger on me. I didn’t ask for this situation to occur. This is just the way things are going to be for now.”

“Fine. We might as well properly introduce ourselves then. My name is Simon and my name is Sylvia.”

“My name is Alastair. It’s nice to meet you.”

He didn’t mean that.

I hope he didn’t. The brat’s too good for his age.

“Here, into this house.”

“It looks dirty and abandoned.”

“That’s what makes it a good hiding place. Eat up. You must be hungry.”

“What kind of food is this?”

“The kind that gets you through situations like this.”

“Most of these are sugary snacks.”

“What did you expect, military rations? We don’t need healthy food to keep up our beautiful figures.”

“Oh please.”

“What were you going to do today? You’re awfully well dressed for a normal weekday.”

“I convinced my parents to go to a volunteer charity event. I was in the process of changing them into better people.”

“You convinced them to go? Huh.”

“When’s the last time you did something charitable for someone?”

“It was a few months ago when we accidentally screwed over the wrong person. We gave them everything we took from them, two hundred thousand dollars, and a note saying sorry.”

“Where did you get the two hundred thousand from?”

“The people we were supposed to screw over.”

“That doesn’t count. You’re supposed to use your own money.”

“Kid, all we do is steal.”

“Then get a normal job.”

“That’s never going to happen.”

“It will now that I’m with you.”

“We doubt it.”

“We’ll see. Where am I going to sleep?”

“There’s only one bed. You can take it. We’ll sleep on the floor.”

“You shouldn’t. It’s not good for you.”

“We were homeless for a time in our life. We can handle it.”

“No, it’s fine you can sleep beside me, but I want to sleep next to Sylvia.”

“Why?”

“I’d just be more comfortable next to her.”

Isn’t he sweet?

“You better not try anything to my wife, buddy because remember that you get me too.”

“I wouldn’t even imagine it.”

I don’t know why I feel insulted.

Even when you look like this, you’re the most beautiful woman in the world, Sylvia.

That’s a sweet compliment, but that also makes you the most beautiful woman in the world since we’re in the same body.

Is that a good thing or a bad thing?

I’m going with good.

“Goodnight.”

“Goodnight, Alastair.”

We should find a fast and effective way to get rid of him, Sylvia.

I don’t know. I’m growing attached to him for some reason.

Well if you actually care for him, then we should put him into safer hands. He’s in serious danger with us.

Maybe we can leave him with a better couple.

Right. We’ll have to see after this assassination attempt on us blows over. We’ll get out of this situation. Just you wait.

Right. Good night, honey.

Good night.

 

 

Hear, my child, your father’s instruction, and do not reject your mother’s teaching; for they are a fair garland for your head, and pendants for your neck.” – Proverbs 1: 8-9

Chapter 2 – Becoming Parents

Hey, Simon. Look.

What is it? The kid is holding onto to you. He’s dead when we lose responsibility for him.

Are you jealous?

No!

I know when you’re lying. When’s the last time you cuddled up to me like this?

He’s double dead then.

Doesn’t he look cute like this? His curly hair is fun to play with. I just have to hold him.

Hey, let go.

You can’t move unless I let you.

The same is true for you.

Yeah, but don’t act like you don’t feel what I do.

Sure, I do. Maybe even stronger than you do.

We should get him something to eat. There’s a breakfast shop not too far from here.

Sure, let’s go. Be careful not to wake him up.

Okay, let’s go.

Do you remember what I said yesterday? That we should give him to actual parents?

Yeah, but I feel like we should be his parents now.

Are you kidding me? Do you how much danger he’ll be in?

No one knows the Good Thieves’ faces.

Then how are we going to make a living? Are we really going to take Curly’s advice?

You never know what kind of jobs we’ll take a liking to. It’s not we haven’t worked low wage jobs before and lived in poor conditions before.

That’s right, but what about him? He’s used to living in comfort and luxury. What will he think?

I don’t know, but we’ll try to make him happy to the best of our ability. Remember to keep your head down while you order.

Right.

“We’ll-I’ll have a dozen glazed donuts and three sausage and egg sandwiches.”

“Got it.”

I don’t think you realize either that we can’t get a job like this. What are we going to say to the employer?

We’ll cover it up with makeup.

Even the obvious black line separating our bodies? We have different facial and body features that’ll definitely draw attention to us.

We have to find a way to make it work.

Or we could just go with my plan. It’ll be easier for us and for him.

It being easy doesn’t mean it’s the right thing.

Like we know the right thing to do. Curly is making us rethink our lives.

“Here’s your order, sir.”

“Thank you.”

Let’s just take it one step at a time. I hope he didn’t wake up and think we left him.

Me too. I’m sort of surprised we made it passed that without drawing any attention to us.

Then maybe we can do it every day then.

Let’s take your advice and do this one step at a time.

“Hey, you’re awake, Curly.”

“You’re calling me Curly now?”

“Think of it as a loving nickname. We got you breakfast. We thought that you wouldn’t live on the scraps of food that we are used to.”

“You went out and didn’t get noticed for your appearance?”

“We were hiding it.”

“I’m glad you thought about me. Thank you.”

“You’re welcome, but I wish we could do more. Hey, uh. After things blow over, we were thinking about sticking you with a better couple. Our life is too dangerous for you and who knows what will happen later. You must have friends or family that will take you.”

“I don’t. Besides, God stuck you with me, so I’m staying with you. I don’t care if you’re a bit self-righteous. People can change.”

“That’s true, but just look at us. Do you really want us to be your caretakers?”

“If God thinks you can do it, I do too.”

“Fine, Curly. Keep digging yourself an early grave. The good do die young.”

“I’m sure you’ll keep me safe. So, what are we going to do today?”

“Lay low like we said until things blow over. We have enough money and snacks to live on until they do. We also have cards, our laptop, comics, and two handhelds that you can play games on if you want.”

“That sounds boring.”

“What kind of kid doesn’t want to do nothing all day?”

“Me. I did nothing but read books and educate myself when I wasn’t in school.”

“School wasn’t enough for you?”

“School doesn’t teach you the most important things you need to know like knowing God and being morally responsible.”

“You got a point there.”

“I heard weird noises that sounded like screaming last night next door. Did you?”

“We know of a bunch of thieves that steal people. They might be using this area of the city because the police usually keep away from here. You don’t want to know about it.”

“I’m old enough to know the worst of it. I know about kidnappers that steal people’s organs while they’re sleeping.”

“…Yeah. That’s the worst.”

“You have to do something about it.”

“We’re not sure if they’ll still be there. They usually move people during the night.”

“It doesn’t matter. You still have to save who’s there and bring the others to justice.”

“What happened to getting a normal job?”

“What happened to punishing the guilty and all that?”

“Fine, but we can’t make any promises. Stay here and don’t move until we come back. We should have an extra pistol in our large case. It’s non-lethal like the rest of our weapons.”

“I’m coming with you.”

“Absolutely not.”

“We’re connected. You can’t leave without me.”

“We left you when we got breakfast. Trust us on this. We know what we’re doing.”

“Okay. Come back safe and sound.”

“Thanks, and stay put.”

“Alright.”

Why don’t we do anything about the members of the thieves’ network that do things like kidnap people, Simon?

It’s a trust between thieves. I don’t mess with you and you don’t mess with me.

Should that really stop us from doing the right thing?

No, especially since we have other thieves after us.

This looks like a good building to do horrible things in secret.

I have the signal jammer on so they can’t call for help.

Let’s do this hard and fast.

Right. This doesn’t look like what we thought it would be.

Yeah. They do just sell organs.

At least we won’t have to lie to him.

There were only seven people in the building.

Well, it is the perfect number.

Wait, did you hear a gunshot?

Oh no. Let’s hurry!

They got Curly! Dumb kid.

“Put your gun down freak or the kid-”

“You don’t leave your head exposed during a hostage situation. Take it from the experts. Are you okay, Alastair?”

“Hey, you called me by my real name!”

“Ow! We forgot we couldn’t hit you. What did we tell you?”

“I thought-”

“You thought stupid! You could’ve been killed! Are you sure you weren’t hurt? Let me take a look at you.”

“You would’ve felt it. I didn’t know you cared so much about me.”

“It’s uh-we’re in this weird situation together and we couldn’t imagine an innocent like you being hurt. Oh.”

Never thought he would hug us.

He’s a good kid, Simon.

“Thank you for rescuing me. I’ll be sure to listen to you from now on…on things you know.”

“You better. Now go back. We’ll take care of things from here.”

“Okay.”

We didn’t check the thieves’ network yesterday. Let’s see if they’re saying anything about us.

Here’s a computer we can use. Hmmm. People are only talking about the thieves who attacked us getting arrested and our base being blown up. Most aren’t too worried about us.

Good. Let’s call this into the police then leave.

We’re acting like real heroes now.

Like we weren’t before.

We weren’t in the mind of Alastair. He seems to know about being good people better than we do.

He does have good points, but we shouldn’t make going after other thieves a habit. Don’t even think about saying yes to him if he asks us again, Sylvia.

I know you won’t say no to him.

He won’t suggest we do it again. I guarantee it.

“What are you guys going to do for the rest of the day?”

“Keep our heads down as planned. Maybe we’ll consider getting “real” jobs like you said.”

“That’s amazing, but do you know of any other thieves you could go after before you do that?”

Ha. You were wrong. You owe me something.

We didn’t even bet on it!

“Why? I thought you wanted us to leave that life behind. Now you’re making us doing vigilante work?”

“Okay, this is the last one. I want to see that you really want to change.”

“And the first one didn’t show it along with all of our other actions?”

“You always go the extra mile.”

“Fine. One more. You’re lucky that there’s one more group of thieves operating in this area. It’s a bit further away from here so you’ll have to stay a while by yourself.”

“I’m coming with you.”

“What did we say before?!”

“You don’t have to scream. Isn’t there anything I could do to help you with?”

“Maybe. The place these guys are held up just so happens to be throwing an early afternoon party for a charity event they’re holding.”

“Charity event?”

“Thieves can be charitable too, kid.”

“Here we go with the kid thing again.”

“Our looks should come in handy, but you could sneak into different places during the party to do things for us.”

“Then let’s go. We’re both already dressed up for the party.”

“Hold on. You can’t just go like that. Let me put makeup on your face so that you really look like you’re part of the party.”

“Don’t draw anything stupid.”

“I wouldn’t do that. Let’s see…Almost done…and…there we go. What do you think?”

“I look like a crazy killer. One half with a light blue eye and a purple frown, the other half with an orange eye and red smile.”

“I think you look cute.”

“You have weird taste in boys, so I believe it.”

“Watch it, kid. I could hold you down and draw something different on you.”

“I’m kidding, Simon. I think you’re a cool kind of weird.”

I’m not sure if that’s a compliment or half of one.

He likes you Simon.

I think he likes you more.

I won’t argue with that.

“Do you guys have a plan?”

“We do. You’ll have to sneak past the party and go to the power room to disable the power. We’ll be locking down the building and giving the authorities a nice present, even though some of the people are their own.”

“What are you going to do?”

“Distract everyone with our charming personality then make an escape route for us.”

“A very general plan, but I guess I should trust you on this.”

“We got this, Curly. Don’t you worry about it.”

“Are you sure you’re fine going out like this without covering your face? People are staring.”

“Hey, are you going to the costume party downtown?”

“We are.”

“I love your mask. How did you get it to be like…like you have it?”

“Mechanics and very fine cloth. It’s a delicate thing that you probably shouldn’t touch.”

“Don’t worry about it. It kind of freaks me out how realistic it looks to be honest. No offense.”

“None taken. So why are you going to the party?”

“To get more contacts within business and government. A bunch of medium to big names will be there today. Why are you going?”

“Same as you.”

“Then you heard about the rumors of some of the people there being thieves?”

“The greedy ones are always called thieves.”

“No, I mean literal thieves, as in, they steal for a living.”

“I always hear about businesses and governments doing that, but they don’t get what they deserve. At least not in this life.”

“I know. I’m just saying we should be careful about who you talk to.”

“We will. We know who’s going to be there.”

“You seem to know your stuff. What’s your name? Mine’s Walter.”

“Siylviaon. I mean, Simon.”

“Nice to meet you, Simon. I hope to do business with you in the future.”

“Same to you.”

Do you think that guy could be trouble, Simon?

Nah, but he may be obvious to what’s really happening at the party. We may have to get him out of it when the cops show up.

“Huh? What is it, Curly?”

“Do you know what I’m thinking?”

“We are.”

“Oh, is this your kid?”

“Yes.”

“I like his makeup.”

“You seem like a good parent.”

“Thanks.”

We seem like a good parent?

We’ve only been with Curly for a day, but he’s attached to us and we’re growing close to him.

It’s the attachment that God put between us. He’s forcing us to take a liking us to each other.

It’s also because we’re trying to get along in this situation. He’s a good kid and we’re trying to be good caretakers.

But parents?

I don’t know.  He seems to have forgiven us already for accidentally killing his parents.

We have to ask him later.

Let’s take him out after this so we can do that.

“Wow! Look at all the colorful lights in the luxury apartment.”

“It’s great, ain’t it? The ugliest of people hide in the prettiest of lights. Let’s get this done and then we’ll treat you.”

“Alright.”

“Okay, Curly. You ready for sneaking?”

“Ready.”

“Remember, the power generator should be in the bottom floor. Put this device on it and the power should shut down completely. No one can remove it without permanently damaging the generator.”

“This won’t hurt me, will it?”

“You might feel a small shock, but that’s it. Come back upstairs when the power is off.”

And there he goes.

Our little troublemaker.

How are we going to distract everyone here? It doesn’t seem like anyone wants to talk to us.

We just distract them with our looks. People are already looking at us.

He just entered the basement. It shouldn’t be too long now. I wonder what they have to drink and eat here.

It doesn’t look like much.

Rich people food always look appealing but there’s never much to it. Remember that one time we got steaks on a menu that cost eighty dollars? It was just that and mashed potatoes.

That was a rip-off. We’ve had dinners that cost eighty dollars that filled us up more. Oh? Curly did it.

Everyone is confused. We should get moving.

Here he comes.

“You did great, Curly. We’re proud of you.”

“Thanks, but what about-”

“Almost forgot. Thanks for reminding us. Hey, Walter.”

“What’s going on Simon?”

“Nothing good. You should follow us.”

“Why-Hey, don’t pull on my suit too hard. It cost me a paycheck.”

“We know a way out of the building. Don’t bring anyone along.”

“You guys didn’t do this, did you?”

“Not directly.”

“Why should I trust you? Ugh!”

“Because we’re going to save your life.”

“You didn’t have to knock him out.”

“It was going to be difficult for him to do this next part.”

“What’s the next part?”

“Hold on. Yes, operator? There’s a luxury apartment with a dozen or so people that you have on your wanted list. There’s a bomb about to go off! Hurr-Close your ears, Curly.”

“What? Woah! Won’t the others be able to escape from here? Not if they want to climb down twelve stories with their bare hands.”

“So how are we going to get down?”

“You see this backpack we have?”

“Oh no.”

“Sit on Walter. We’ll hold you as we descend down.”

“Have you ever done this before?”

“Yes.”

Yes, as in jumping out of a high building. Not like this though.

We still got this.

You bet.

“Comfortable?”

“No.”

“Let’s go then. Woah!”

“Woooooooah!”

“Relax Curly or else you’ll fall. Just hold onto us. We’ll be on the nearby rooftop in no time.”

“Ehhhhhhhhhh.”

“Oh, stop it you big baby. Hahaha. We’re safe already.”

“Oh thank God. I’ll never take my life for granted again.”

“Let’s get out of here.”

Oh, hide our face.

“Did you guys escape that explosion? We saw it from our window and came up here to get a better view.”

“We didn’t, but get this guy, Walter, someplace to rest. He’s been skydiving a bit too much.”

“Oh, sure.”

“That was something else you guys.”

“Are we redeemed in your eyes now?”

“I think you are. Besides, I don’t want to do anything like that ever again.”

“We’re glad. Let’s reward ourselves then.”

“Where are we going?”

“We know of this great garden that you could eat lunch and dinner at. It’ll be a nice place to rest our minds at.”

“I’ll take anything good after this.”

This should perfectly make him comfortable for what we’re going to ask him.

I hope he won’t get mad at us.

He would’ve shown it by now.

But we’re still connected to each other like this.

Maybe it’s our punishment for what we did as thieves.

Do we really have to stay like this until we die?

You don’t like being with me like this?

It’s not that.

If you knew what we did, then I guess this seems justified.

Then we’ll stay like this.

It’ll be difficult.

As long as Curly and you are happy, it’ll be worth it.

Stole the words right from my mind.

“This place is amazing.”

“This is where I proposed to Sylvia. We haven’t been here in years.”

“I can see why. It looks like a great place to set the mood. So, what are we getting to eat?”

“We uh…want to ask you something first.”

“What is it?”

“Try to keep this down. Do you still hate us for accidentally killing your parents?”

“…”

Uh oh. I don’t like awkward silences.

Say something, Sylvia.

“We’re sorry for what we did. We’ll take of you to the best of our abilities and get whatever you want to make it up to you.”

“…”

“If you want us to bring you to a better family, then we’ll do that.”

“I don’t hate you.”

“You don’t? Why not?”

“It wasn’t your fault. I can’t blame you for it.”

“Don’t you want to still hate us from taking you away from your comfortable life? You were set in terms of wealth and possessions.”

“I know, but I have to let that go. Besides, it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter into the Kingdom of Heaven.”

“Oh, that’s right. Do you want us to leave you with a better family? You must have friends and other family members that will happily take you in. We’re just a poor couple with no job, no house, and a dwindling bank account.”

“Didn’t I answer this before? God put us together, so I’m staying with you. It doesn’t matter if you’re poor or stuck together like you are. This is the way things are meant to be now.”

He’s set on us.

I’m not sure if I should cry or not.

Don’t, Sylvia because you’re going to make me cry too.

“Hey, who else has parents like I do? My parents are so cool that they redeemed themselves after being one of the most infamous thieving couples. I think I have the coolest parents ever.”

“You’re right we’re the coolest. Now, let’s get something to eat.”

“I saw a breakfast store here. I want ice cream and pancakes.”

“We think that’s a great idea. We’ll have the same.”

 

 

There is no place for selfishness and no place for fear! Do not be afraid, then, when love makes demands. Do not be afraid when love requires sacrifice.

-Pope John Paul II

Chapter 3 – A Family that Sacrifices Together, Stays Together

Simon, look at him smiling while he’s sleeping. I love it. I know you won’t say anything about it because it would make you sound weird.

What do you want me to say? The only thing I can pull from your mind is something positive, which is incredibly general.

You don’t understand at all, do you? Maybe it’s a motherly thing.

You’re not even his mother or one to begin with. What do you know about it?

I know that I’m feeling it. Do you think he’ll ever call us his parents?

I don’t know. It’s best not to get your hopes up.

He seemed to like what we got him yesterday. We should get it again for him.

I guess it’s better than nothing. Remember that we’re running out of money.

We’re good for a while. I pickpocketed some money at the party if you didn’t notice.

That’s great, but don’t let Curly know. We’re supposed to stop being thieves.

That’s right. We have to start becoming a real family.

If we really want to become his family, you’ll need to learn how to cook.

And you’ll have to learn how to be a real man and work.

You’ll have to come with me to work.

And you’ll have to learn how to cook with me.

What do you think we should make first?

He really liked those ice cream pancakes yesterday.

Breakfast sounds like a great idea. It’s the kind of meal that can be served at any time of day.

I’m full of great ideas, aren’t I?

You are. Hey, doesn’t that guy over there look familiar?

He does. I think we’ve seen him on the thieves’ network before.

The three thief groups being arrested should’ve been big news. Maybe they suspect us of double-crossing them because we are the only ones who haven’t been arrested yet or they might think we’re colluding with the authorities.

That’s true. We should get back to Alastair fast and get out of here.

They’ll think we’ve betrayed them if they catch us with him. We have to draw them away, get rid of them, and then haul out of this city.

Aren’t they experts in following people? Won’t they know if we’re leading them into a trap?

We’ll have to take a chance to protect Alastair. You ready?

Ready.

Let’s go to that one alleyway that leads into the building with the kidnappers. That’s right. Keep following us. Okay, so it looks like there’s three of them. Almost there. Where should we hide-Oh!

There were already two of them looking through this building.

Thankfully our reactions are still sharp.

Their friends are outside calling them now. They won’t come in until they respond.

Maybe we should use their friend’s unconscious body like a puppet. Lure them in that way.

That’s not going to work.

I know you don’t have a better plan let alone a plan at all.

Okay, we’ll go with that.

This is so stupid.

But it just might work.

Peek out. What can you see?

They’re confused but the three are coming this way.

Okay, now let’s use this guy as a body shield once they come in. And…action! One, two, three! That’s all of them.

You owe me again.

We didn’t bet-Let’s just get back to Alastair.

Do you think there’s more of them?

Probably. We have minutes before they converge on this area.

Let’s hurry up then!

I can’t make our legs move faster! That only stalls us.

Just try to think positively then.

“Alastair! We need to go!”

“What’s going on?”

“There’s a thieving group that might be after us. We aren’t taking any chances so pack your things and let’s go-damn! Get down, Alastair! Ack! Get off us!”

“Wow. What happened to you two?”

“None of your business, just let go of our kid!”

“Did the kid’s parents have some kind of special weapon to use on you? Did they do a kind of special surgery?”

“We said it’s none of your business!”

“I love the “we” routine you got going on there. I’ll tell you what. Because I respect your work and you so much, I’ll take the kid off your hands, maybe sell him to a rich family in a foreign country. You’ll thank me later. In the meantime, we’ll try to get you fixed up. Let’s get’em back to base boys.”

…Where are we?

We’re strapped to some surgery table.

We have to get out of here fast!

Maybe we can combine our strength to break these binds.

These binds are too tough!

Are you going to make that stop us? Alastair is in trouble. I can feel it. He’s going to be sold off or worse if we don’t do anything now.

You’re right.

“Rahhhh!!!!”

That’s right! We did it! Look how shocked they-oh boy.

Get down! We have to do something to stop them from firing at us.

What’s this stuff?

Medical stuff? Looks flammable. Let’s throw it at them. Woah!

They’re explosive too!

Really explosive.

I think we broke something important in the building. We might need this fireproof jacket for later.

Let’s take the rest of these.

Yeah keep running from us and our explosive …whatever it is! Uh oh.

I think we accidentally hit the power room. The building might be catching fire now.

That’s good and bad. Let’s make the most of it and find our weapons.

Here we go. We’re going full auto shotgun mode. This’ll give them a real headache when they wake up after getting hit from these rounds.

Now we’re ready. Where do you think they’re holding Alastair?

Top floor?

I’m not betting on it. Plus, it doesn’t really matter. We’re clearing this place out until we get to him.

Move out the way! Two pissed off parents coming through!

That’s right! Two heads are better than one!

We have one head.

It’s a technicality.

Whatever. There’s the guy that took us here! He’s got Alastair.

“Let go of our kid and you might live.”

“You guys don’t kill unless you need to. I know your history. Agh!”

“We don’t kill but we do hurt. Are you okay Alastair?”

“I’m okay. How are we going to do this? How did the building catch fire?”

“It doesn’t matter. We’ll care you through this. Here, we’ll wrap you up in this fireproof jacket, so the fire doesn’t touch your skin. Keep your head down.”

“What about you?”

“We’re going to be fine. All that matters to us is your safety. Trust us.”

“Okay.”

The flames are really tearing through this building, but we have to make it through this.

It’s so intense in here. I don’t know if we can make it.

We have to for our sake and Alastair’s. We have to give him the family he deserves. We put him in this situation and we’re taking him out of it.

I feel so strange.

Keep going! We’re going to make it!…Sylvia? Can you hear me? You see the exit? We’re going to make it! Just give it one final push and…we’re out! Smell that fresh air of victory and…woah.

“Simon, we’re back to normal.”

“But how?”

“You putting yourself at risk for me must’ve satisfied God. It was a literal trial of fire.”

“Thank you, God, for having mercy on us.”

“Oh, the firefighters are coming. Let’s get out of here. What are we going to do now? We’re flat broke with no home and nothing to our name.”

“That’s fine as long as we’re together.”

“Are you sure, Alastair?”

“We’re used to the homeless life, but you…”

“You’re my parents now. I don’t care as long as we love each other.”

“Alastair!”

“…I’m a father now…”

“Don’t cry or else you’re going to make me cry too.”

“You’re right. We’re going to be the best parents ever. We promise you that.”

“Are our minds still connected? Because you just took the words right out of my mouth.”

“I love you, mom and dad.”

“We love you too, son.”

 

The End

It is worthwhile to live as a family, that a society grows strong, grows in goodness, grows in beauty and truly grows if it is built on the foundation of the family.” – Pope Francis

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

From Hatred to Love

Download the story for yourself on Smashwords – https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/904030

 

Love, to be real, must cost. It must hurt. It must empty us of self.” – Blessed Mother Teresa

Chapter 1 – Forced Love

How are we ever going to fix this?

Maybe we should start from the beginning?

Maybe you should since you suggested it.

Okay. We woke up one morning in my room fused together. We were confused for a while before we heard a voice say, “Because you have hated each other and have secretly wanted harm upon one another, you will be fused together until you learn to love each other”. And here we are.

That’s overly simple, James. What about the fact that part of my house is fused to yours? My clothes are even fused to yours. Just look at our wardrobe. Everything is fused together.

Don’t worry about it, Julia. At least it all matches.

But we’ll have to go to the bathroom and take a shower together! We’ll see each other naked!

That’s definitely the worst part.

Ow!

Ha! When you use our hand to hit me you still hurt yourself.

Ow!

Doing it again doesn’t help and I know that you feel that it does. I’m still somewhat surprised that the doctors said that our bodies are completely fine together like this.

Sure, but we have to walk together with a hood on all the time with our heads down.

Speaking about that, do you want me to control our legs when we walk because we have trouble doing anything unless we consent to let one person walk?

I don’t care. We both get tired even when we let the other do something.

I’ll do the walking then.

I’ll do the talking.

You’ll do the talking? No.

Why not?

Because you’re terrible at talking with people.

No, I’m not!

Yes, you are. Who has more friends than you do? Who got a promotion because I was a pseudo-human resources expert? That’s right. I know the thought crossed your mind.

Shut up. What am I going to do then? Just silently scream in our mind?

Oh God no. I’ll let you talk if you know more about something than I do.

But we both know the same things now.

Are you really going to pass up this opportunity to talk?

You can stop me from talking at any time.

And so can you so you’re going to have to trust me. Okay? Come on. We can’t do anything unless we can trust each other.

Fine.

Good. So how about we get ready for work now? We didn’t take a shower yesterday, so let’s-okay. You know for a fact that I don’t want to see you naked. Okay! Now you have a self-abuse problem. So, do you want to strip us or-

I’ll do it. Just close your eye.

I can still see out of your eye.

I’ll just look up then. Hey, make the water hotter.

It is hot.

No, make it hotter like this.

It’s too hot!

I don’t feel it.

I do!

Good.

Who’s going to be the one who’s going to wash us?

I’ll do it.

I didn’t know you wanted to touch me like that.

It’s not that! I’d rather you not touch me is all.

It’s still our body.

Whatever.

What kind of genitalia do we have?

It’s not mine and it’s not yours. I don’t want to think about it. Just stop thinking about it.

Okay. That’s finally done. I think we should wear this simple outfit.

Nope, we’re wearing this.

Who cares what we look like?

I do! I’m a woman of business unlike you.

Do women of business look like us? That’s what I thought. What’s for breakfast?

Cereal.

I’m fine with that. Except not that kind.

What’s wrong with it?

It’s just plain healthy cereal.

What are you four years old? Why does your cereal have to have marshmallows in it?

Because it actually tastes appetizing.

It doesn’t taste bad to me.

It does to me.

It’s just your imagination.

Whatever. Okay, you bathed, clothed, and feed us which is basically what a normal woman is supposed to do. Don’t hit me-us. Let me take over for walking.

I still don’t feel comfortable going out at all.

But we got to earn that bread for ourselves. It’s not too bad.

I feel so awkward being out here like this. This is going to be a pain if this carries over into the summertime.

Ever hear of short-sleeved hoodies?

I still don’t want this to go on for long.

And I thought you were starting to like my company. We have to do this regardless of how comfortable we are with it, so we have to start loving each other.

I’m not going to marry you.

You don’t have to. Love isn’t all about marrying.

I hope that’s not what God wants.

Me too. See? We’re starting to agree with one another.

But what are we going to do now at work?

Whatever we usually do. I think we should-

No, we can’t talk to anyone like this. Only our boss knows about this.

He would’ve already told most of the people here by now knowing him.

What an idiot. We already have people looking at us.

Don’t mind them.

“Hey, James! Or should I say, Julia? Or both?”

“Hey, Nick!”

Are you still mad at that the boss is paying me more than you?

I went to college and work harder than you do. Of course I’m still mad.

I didn’t need that stupid college “education” to be successful in life. All I needed was my family, friends, and my God-given talents. Don’t be mad because I got past where you are with more effort.

I’m going to beat you to a pulp when we’re separated.

You would still be hating me then.

I’m going to lovingly beat you to a pulp. Sound better?

Yep. This is where we decide which of our jobs are going to get done.

Okay.

Ow!

What did we do?

We fell on our butt because we took control of a different leg to go in a different direction. Let’s just decide what we’re going to do first.

I’ve got tons of work to do to help dozens of people within the business and outside of it. At least I try to help others outside my sphere of friends, unlike some people.

Well, you can’t do that if your building burns to ashes. Most things in the building are working fine but I have been seeing abnormalities in it. I should probably check it out before it gets serious.

What? I’m not going to get dirty while wearing this.

You knew we were going to. Don’t lie.

Can’t we just get my work done first?

Let me just check out the systems in the building. Maybe we won’t need to get dirty today.

I always see you dirty.

Yeah? Well you’re always jealous of me, and I’m not making that up, so let’s go.

Fine.

Okay, well everything seems to be better than yesterday. It looks like shutting off some of the systems fixed some of the issues, but there’s still one thing we have to get dirty for to check out.

What? Why?

Because it could cause a major fire if we don’t at least check on it. I adjust and upgrade these things from time to time so that you can “help” people like you say you do.

Let’s just get this over with.

It’s not that bad up there.

To you maybe. It’s filthy up here.

I’m glad you think so.

Why don’t you clean up here? Isn’t that a hazard or something?

Not if it doesn’t affect anything. I’ve been in worse places, so this is nothing to me.

I can’t stand being in here.

Just keep your mind off it then. There are only a couple more things I need to check.

Was that a roach?!

Yeah, I named him Bob.

Why don’t we call an exterminator?

Because buildings like these always have bugs in them. They come and go and if they feel comfortable, they stay.

But shouldn’t we get rid of them?

This is your first time noticing them, so they’re not a problem to you. They’ll be gone soon.

That’s a relief.

Okay. It looks like there isn’t anything wrong here.

So we came up here for nothing?

We came up here to check on something that could’ve been important. I’ve been doing this for months and you haven’t had any problems, which is another reason for my promotion.

Okay, let’s just get out of here. I think I’m going to get sick.

That’s just your imagination.

No, it isn’t. I feel like I need to take two baths after doing that, but I have to get my work done.

This is going to be so boring.

It’s not that bad. It’s just how work is.

My work isn’t like that.

Your work is disgusting and dirty.

But at least it doesn’t put me to sleep. This sucks so much.

Shut up. I’m trying to concentrate here.

Did you notice that the others aren’t saying anything?

The boss told us that he told them not to say anything or he’ll fire them.

It’s probably why we’re not on the news right now.

Do you ever shut up?

No, that’s why so many people like me. I’m also trying to keep us awake.

I don’t need your help.

Fine then. Nap time then.

Wait…stop…Ah!

Told you this work is boring.

Just try to stay awake a little longer. I’m almost done.

How come you never liked talking to me when we first met?

Because I wanted to concentrate on my work.

And that’s why you don’t have friends. How can you say you want to help people when you don’t even want to talk to them?

How can you say you love making friends when you don’t care about helping other people?

Hey, at least I do help people. At least I don’t just think I’m helping people because people tell me I am when I’m just sitting behind a desk while being miserable. Hey! Control yourself! People are really watching now. I’m sorry, okay? I can be a bit too blunt. I get that. You help out people in your own way and I do it in my own way.

Look, that paper you made is probably going to convince the company to help out people in need. Do you know how many lives you’re going to save?

Stop wiping away my tears! I can do it myself!

Okay.

…I’m sorry for that outburst.

It’s fine. I get it.

“Hey, uh…Julia? The boss wants to see you.”

“Okay.”

This is my fault.

I started it. Don’t worry about it.

He might fire us.

I don’t think he’ll do that. He probably just wants to talk to us.

“Hello, James and Julia.”

“Hello, Lloyd.”

“Who am I talking to specifically?”

You’re better at talking.

“James.”

“I can hear it now. Did you know that your voice changes when one of you is in control?”

“I didn’t notice that actually. Thanks for pointing that out. What did you want to talk about?”

“I’m letting you two or one have a little break from work to get used to being together like this.”

“Was it something-”

“No, it wasn’t anything you did. Besides, I know you don’t get aggravated, James.”

I messed up bad.

“It’s not Julia’s fault she got angry. I said some things to her that I shouldn’t have.”

No, you’re right. Don’t even think about using this against me.

“It’s not that she lost control. I just want you two to get better acquainted with the way you are now. You’ll be paid during your time off as well so don’t worry about that.”

“Thank you so much.”

“Don’t worry about it. Just try to get adjusted soon so I can have my two best workers back.”

“You got it.”

See? That wasn’t so bad.

That’s because you were talking.

I didn’t say anything that you wouldn’t’ve.

I wouldn’t have defended you.

That’s true but I’m glad you’re honest.

Let’s just go home. I’m beat.

That wasn’t such a bad day of work. I thought it was pretty interesting.

It was okay.

At least we learned to be caring towards one another.

I wonder how long that will last.

Come on, be more positive.

Sure.

More positive!

Very sure. I’ll take that. So, what do you do after work?

Shower, eat, then sleep. At least it isn’t as awkward taking a shower now.

Uh, you’re making me look-there we go.

Sorry. It’s a habit.

It’s fine. I don’t mind too much. Don’t hit me.

I wasn’t thinking about it for some reason.

See? We’re getting comfortable with each other now.

A little too comfortable.

What do we have here to eat? Uh, oh! I still have leftover pizza here. I’ve been craving it.

I’ll make us something. Hey, stop making me crave pizza!

It’s pepperoni and sausage.

That does sound really good. Wait, no it doesn’t. Stop making me want it. I don’t even like eating pizza.

You what?! You’re going to Hell.

For what?

Not liking pizza. It is one of the many foods God inspired humanity to make. Let me fill your mind with thoughts and sensations of the blessed food.

You already take up too much of my mind, but it does sound appetizing. Okay, I’ll try it.

So? How does it taste?

I’m not sure if you’re making me taste it this way or not.

I’m not doing anything.

Then it tastes great even though it’s just heated up again.

See? I told you.

Okay. Fine. You were right. Now it’s time to get some sleep.

Today wasn’t so bad, right? I don’t mind being with you like this as much now.

I can’t say the same.

I know you’re lying.

Don’t think I actually like you now.

Well, at least we’re off to a good start.

I guess so.

I’m glad that you agree. Good night.

Good night.

 

 

 

The Bible tells us to love our neighbors, and also to love our enemies; probably because they are generally the same people.” – G.K. Chesterton

Chapter 2 – Learning to Love

Time to wake up, Julia. Huh? Why did you think of your ex-boyfriend? He seemed like a nice guy.

He wasn’t. Do you see that orange fox on my side of the bed? He got me that one Valentine’s day. Not because we were in a relationship, but because we’ve been friends since we were kids. We were each other’s only friend for years. The only other kind of love we felt was from our parents. We or at least I thought we were going to be friends forever. I thought we were going to graduate from college then get married, but then…

He cheated both on you and in college.

I never heard from him since. I keep this fox by my side to remind myself not to get my hopes up, even when it comes to people I love.

That’s cold but I understand. I have my own stuffed animal too. Do you see the white rabbit on my side of the bed? That was one of the only things my parents gave me to show me that they truly loved me. They worked in services that helped people, so they were always busy and never home. I keep this bunny to remind myself that them and people, in general, can be compassionate. I seem to have a more positive reminder of people than you do.

I see that. Even though your parents weren’t always there for you, it seems like you turned out exactly how they wanted you to. But me…

I’m sure your parents are proud of you and that ex of yours has been regretting his actions ever since. Please don’t put yourself down. You’re not a bad person. You just need the right person in your life.

Maybe you are that person.

Maybe.

You sure do have a lot of big textbooks over there. Read anything interesting?

You know.

I want to hear what you think of them.

They’re interesting to read. It helps me learn more about people and their motivations. Some of them are business and math books, which I know you find boring.

It’s kind of interesting from what you remember. I recognize some of the ways of thinking from my comic books and manga.

Those are children’s books.

And there we go.

What?

We were getting along so well and then you had to say that.

What makes them adult besides violence and sex?

The themes of good versus evil, moral responsibility, man playing god, pushing people to their limits, and the extremes someone would go to for their love.

That sounds interesting. Can you give me an example?

There’s this one series that’s about this crybaby who gets the powers of a devil. He becomes totally different after that, but things don’t go well as demonkind starts to wipe out humanity.

Okay. I’m remembering it through your mind and it seems good. It’s really dark.

How about something lighter? These comics are about a man who has an alien attached to him. The two go on adventures as they protect the innocent and punish the wicked. He’s a kind of lethal protector.

Looks fun, but it seems like a different take on the previous series that you told me about.

Okay, so how about this. This series is about this black swordsman that’s after this guy who was once one of his closest friends and well…it’s a long story, but you know what I’m trying to summarize.

You like a lot of dark stories.

But I do like my light ones too. Like this one series about this girl whose hair looks like a four-leaf clover. I especially like the part where she meets this guy with white hair that she absolutely hates.

Ha! That is so cute.

Alright, now enough about that. Do you want to get up?

What do you want to do?

We could go to the nearby church I usually attend. We could ask God for answers since He put us in this situation.

Do we have to now? I’m comfortable like this.

I didn’t know that you liked being with me in bed.

Okay. We’re going.

Haha. That did it.

I’m surprised that this church is doing so well in such a filthy area.

God works where the sinners are at and there are a lot over here. It’s a good thing it’s doing so well here. No one bothers it at all compared to the other places around here.

Have you ever been jumped in this area?

Once maybe twice when I was a teenager, but we should be fine.

And if we do get into trouble?

What? Do you want to make a bet? You already have my body and everything I have. Do you want my soul as well?

I’m just asking. Wow. This place is nice. The stained-glass windows, the statues of Jesus, Mary, the saints, and angels. The atmosphere here could stop any sinner in his tracks. This looks way better than the church I go to.

You don’t attend a heretical church, do you?

No, here’s what it looks like.

Oh, it’s not bad. It just has a simpler look to it. Let’s go up to the altar and pray while no one is around. Well no one besides God.

Okay…well? Is anything coming to mind? I can’t hear your thoughts for some reason.

I’m concentrating on prayer. I didn’t hear your prayers either. Is it me or are some of our thoughts audible to us while others are silent?

It seems that way, but we do hear the important parts.

That’s right. Hey, do you bring your family to church too?

No, I just go by myself.

I bring my family and friends to church. When there’s someone who isn’t strong in their faith or worships the wrong one, I bring them here to try to convert them.

What are you an evangelist?

No, not at all. I’ve only converted a few of the people I know.

That’s great. I’m sure God is happy…with…you…

What is it?

I save people money and help them get the help they need. You help save souls. Which one do you think is more important?

You do help more people than I do.

What does it matter when I don’t help them with what really matters? I don’t even think that I put God first like how I’m supposed to.

If you think that’s bad, I don’t even try to care about people. I only try to help those I’m comfortable with. I can see why that’s so bad now.

At least that isn’t as bad as divorcing people from numbers and generalizations. I always thought of people in terms of ideologies and I never took into account their unique personalities and situations. Everyone was just a different version of an archetype that I read in a psychology book in my mind.

Oh come on. Just look at the bigger picture. Because you help so many people with their problems, they can now focus on God and the afterlife.

But most people don’t do that. How about you look at the bigger picture. You’ve put all your friends and family on the narrow path of salvation that few people find and you’re putting me on it too.

If I did, then stop putting yourself down.

How about you stop putting down the importance of what you do?

Are we really arguing for each other on who is the better person?

We are, and you know I’m right.

And you know that I’m right as well.

Fine.

Fine.

…I guess those prayers helped after all.

And in so little time. He usually takes a while to answer them.

I guess we should put an extra donation.

We’ll go half and half.

I’ll donate forty dollars. You can buy me dinner later.

That’s not fair! I know you’re going to make it pricey.

Deal with it.

At least that was good for us. What do you think?

I think we’re being followed.

I think it’s your stereotyping of people that’s getting to you.

No, it isn’t.

I’ll look-oh we might have some trouble.

Told you. You deal with them.

“Hey, man. I remember you when we were kids.”

“Oh yeah? Do you remember what happened last time you snuck up behind us?”

“Yeah, and I remember, but you’re alone now.”

“And? I don’t need anyone else to beat-oh you brought along two of your boyfriends. How great.”

I’m going to need your help with this.

What am I supposed to do? I can’t fight.

Then what was all of that big talk about kicking my butt?

I’m still going to do that.

Watch out! Punch! Left! Kick! Duck!

Ow! I can’t do all of this at once!

Neither can I but maybe we can if we join our minds into one…Ready?

Ready.

Punch! Kick! Elbow! Pull! Punch! Left! Right! Left! Duck! Uppercut! Kick! Punch!

We did it!

“Ya’ll better fix yourselves up. If I see you again, it better be in that church praying for forgiveness.”

“What are you?!”

“That’s none of your business now get out of here!”

Look at them run. See, what did I tell you?

That calls for a little celebration. What do you think?

Are you just saying that because I’m buying?

Well, you don’t have to.

I will. It wouldn’t be manly of me if I didn’t.

Oh brother.

How about we try this sandwich place in town?

What do they serve?

Sandwiches.

I know-

I know what you meant. They have all kinds of sandwiches that are hard to find outside of the city.

At least it’s in a better area.

There are so many people here.

Remember to keep your head down. We don’t want to start a fuss.

Alright.

Let me try to remember what I got last time that was good. Uh…buffalo chicken, egg salad, grilled shark, some kind of double sandwich, uh…get an Italian sausage with gravy.

Okay. Oh man. The food smells great.

“Italian sausage?”

“That’s for me!”

“Here-oh!”

Dang it, you idiot. I told you to keep your head down. He almost dropped our sandwich.

I’m too used to bringing my head up to talk to people.

“Thank you!”

People are looking at us now. Keep your head down and we’ll eat somewhere else.

Where do you have in mind?

The only place that I know that is relatively empty is the garden park a couple blocks away from here.

Why is it relatively empty?

It’s a garden park. It smells like flowers and vegetables.

I love that smell.

Then I’m going to need you to make it seem good to me because the smell is irritating to me some days.

This place looks amazing. There’s a garden house fields to play and dozens of flowers. It’s amazing that this place exists in the city.

How about we sit over there on that bench near those roses?

Sure. Now it’s time to chow down. Yum! This is so good! What are you doing with my hand?

Hold on.

Why did you pick this flower?

Because I looked at it and I thought of you. Plus, you said you liked the smell of flowers and from what I can pull from your memories, you like these kinds of flowers.

I love it. Thank you.

You’re welcome. Remember to keep your head down. We don’t want anyone seeing our face…well maybe just yours in particular. I’m kidding of course!

I know. That guy was scared to see me.

I thought he was scared to see a pretty girl’s face attached to my ugly mug.

You’re not ugly. I know from your memories that there’s a girl in that shop that always likes looking at you.

That doesn’t mean anything. I’m only interested in girls that I talk to.

You’re always talking to me.

Well, that’s because I’m forced to-but that doesn’t mean I don’t like you! I think you’re a great person.

Do you really think that?

You know if I’m lying.

Then why are we still together like this?

I don’t know. Maybe there will be a challenge ahead of us that will test us.

I hope not. I’m not sure if I can handle challenges that make me distrust people.

Hey, you know me. You know my thoughts now. Even if I do something bad, I’ll make it up.

Okay. I trust you.

Now can we please go home? We’ve had to go to the bathroom since this morning.

I hate doing that like this.

Why? We’ve showered and dressed together.

But this is disgusting like this.

I’ll be quiet.

But I know you’ll be feeling it.

I know we’ll be crapping ourselves soon if you don’t move it! Pick your poison.

Okay, fine!

See? That wasn’t so bad.

I guess not.

So we’re cool with not holding it in for so long?

You’ll probably have to convince me again.

Dang it.

Should we go out for dinner? How can we hide our face in public for long periods of time?

We did it at work, but most people knew about it. Do you want to make dinner?

Is this another woman joke?

Half and half. I want to see what you can make.

I’m in the mood for breakfast. How about I make blueberry pancakes?

Sounds great.

Let me see if we have what we need and…we do. Should I start making it?

Yes. I’m thinking about going out again.

Where to?

That garden park again. Did you see those lights in the trees and greenery? Those light up every night.

I’d love to go!

Great. Let’s speed up making these pancakes then.

You can’t just speed up cooking. You know I’ve noticed that my way of talking is different from how I usually talk.

How so?

I’ve been talking more in laymen speak than the more proper, educated way that I usually talk in.

Maybe it’s because your mind and ours are almost completely connected?

Or maybe talking to you is making me dumb. I mean you know the way I feel now. I would never have dreamed of feeling this way towards another person just a few days ago.

You’re having a similar effect on me too. I’ve changed just as much as you have.

But you know me. You’ve done more for me than I have for you.

That’s true and I’m saying anything about doing more, it’s about the change. You know I wonder why you always you want to contradict me on things like this. First, we argued about each other and now we’re arguing for the other person. I’m trying to find a reason inside your head. Is it because-

It’s because I don’t trust myself anymore. The things I’ve learned these past couple days has completely destroyed the world I once knew. Now…I don’t know what to think.

You know what to think. Stop lying to yourself. You know what you did wrong, so now you know what to do. Even if you do the wrong thing again, you can just apologize and start over.

I don’t know.

Trust me about this. You got me to like you even after we hated each other for so many months. That has to count for something. I know you don’t like yourself anymore, but you have to love yourself a little. If you don’t, then I will.

Okay…thanks.

You’re welcome. Now pay attention to those pancakes because they might be getting a bit too burnt.

They are! I’m sorry.

Don’t worry about it. I like my food well done.

Stop lying.

No, it’s good. Great even! I’ve never tasted pancakes this good.

It tastes too burnt.

Yeah they are.

I’m glad you’re being honest with me now.

I was being honest!

Sure. Should we go out now?

Yeah. The lights should be on by the time we get there.

Okay. Wait, I just pulled up a memory that says you’ve never seen the lights?

Not at all. I’ve been waiting for someone to go there with.

Someone special?

You could say that. You ready to see them?

I can already see them from here. It’s like a completely different place.

It’s better than I imagined. Look at how the lights change and how they complement the colors of the flowers.

I know you want to compare me to them.

I do.

Say it then.

Why? You already hear it in my thoughts.

I want to hear it from you.

It’s cornier than corn!

Say it!

Okay. You’re more beautiful than all of the flowers and lights in the garden. Happy now?

Very. Aren’t you?

I guess so.

Guess?

I am happy even though I’m living like this with you. I wouldn’t mind living the rest of my life like this.

I wouldn’t mind either. Do you…just want to enjoy this moment in silence for a couple more minutes before we go home?

Yeah, I’d like that.

I knew you would. That’s how I got the idea.

Ha!

 

 

 

But from the beginning of creation, ‘God made them male and female.’ ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two but one flesh.” Mark 10: 6-8

Chapter 3 – Together as One

Julia.

James? What is it? Is it time to get up already?

Yeah. Hey, don’t try to go back to sleep! Why do you always have to put my side of our body on the bottom?

Because that’s where you belong.

Well, I’m burnt.

That’s right. Now, go back to sleep.

We can’t. We’re so close to being back to normal. I can feel it.

Do you want to leave me this badly?

What?

You’re the only person I’ve met who I can trust completely. I know what you think and what you’re going to do. There aren’t any consequences for staying like this until we die. This is perfect for us.

Stop thinking this nonsense! We can’t keep living like this.

We’ll find a way to make it work.

I’m-hey! Let me get up!

No. You’re mine until we die.

We can live well together separated.

But it won’t be like this.

You trust me, right?

Of course.

Then you know that I will never do you wrong.

Sure, but-

You don’t have to know everything I’m thinking to trust me.

But I want to.

Then you don’t trust me.

I do trust you!

Is it just because you can hear my thoughts? It sounds like it. Trust is vital in all relationships, so if you truly love me, then let me go.

But…I might lose you.

You know for a fact that fear bothers me too. I will do everything in my power to stay with you until the end.

But I won’t have you like this.

You will if you marry me.

I…I do.

I didn’t kneel or anything, but okay. This is great. Now all you have to do is let me have my control. Hey, I’m thinking of a song my parents used to sing to me during rainy days. Are you thinking about it too?

I am. Sing it with me then.

I can’t sing.

You’re not singing out loud and I love listening to your voice.

…okay.

 

I can see it in your eyes

In your tears

All of the suffering you’ve been through

All of the pain you’ve felt

 

I can feel your sadness

Your anger and your regrets

This world is a non-stop place for sorrow

Like an everlasting storm

 

I’ll be here for you

To hold you when things get tough

When hope seems far away!

I’ll always hold your hand

Through the happy moments and the sad

When everyone else has left, I’ll be right here!

 

The clouds cry with you

Angels shed tears as you suffer

So don’t believe you are broken beyond repair

And know that you will never be alone

 

I’ll stay with you through it all

Heal the bleeding in your heart

Walk with you through the storms

Nothing will stop me from getting you to smile

 

I’ll be here for you

To hold you when things get tough

When hope seems far away!

I’ll always hold your hand

Through the happy moments and the sad

When everyone else has left, I’ll be right here!

 

When the light seems so far away,

Hold onto me!

When all seems lost,

I will always stand with you!

 

I’ll be here for you

To hold you when things get tough

When hope seems far away!

I’ll always hold your hand

Through the happy moments and the sad

When everyone else has left, I’ll be right here!

 

Right here, always with you forever…

 

You know what the song means. You know how I feel. Trust me.

…Let me think about it for a second.

Eh…fine. Just don’t take waste time.

…Okay, I think I’ve made up my mind. Did you hear what I decided? Hey, are you awake? You have to be because I am. Ow. I guess you aren’t. That’s strange. I do like staying like this. I could stay lay down with you forever…but…I know I can’t. I’m sorry that I fooled myself into thinking we could stay like this forever. It’s just my mistrust of people, but I know that you won’t disappoint me. I trust you…

“Hey, stop hitting me…”

“I didn’t hit you because I didn’t feel it…”

“Wait! Ow!”

“That’s what you get for touching me where you’re not supposed to.”

“We’re going to be married! What’s so wrong with-Nevermind, our bodies are apart! My house is back to normal too!”

“Huh?! You’re right-”

“Ow! What now?”

“I wanted to be the one to kiss you first.”

“That’s too bad. Ow!”

“Ow! You can’t hit me!”

“I can defend myself. Is it really going to be like this?”

“It will be, and you can’t stop me. Hahaha! Hey!”

“You don’t have my strength anymore. You’re back to having the strength of a nerd. Haha! Ow! Why did you hit me there? I guess you don’t want kids.”

“I can still get you. Hahaha!”

We got married soon after then began to raise a family. We still argue with each other now and then, but who doesn’t with their closest friends and family? We thank God every day of our lives for the blessing he gave us that we thought was a curse. Even though we know life will have its difficulties when we will feel weak, we will stay faithful to one another until the very end.

 

The End

 

What is the mark of love for your neighbor? Not to seek what is for your own benefit, but what is for the benefit of the one loved, both in body and in soul.

-St. Basil the Great

The Martyr who Failed

Part 1 – The First Death

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sebastian knocks again.

“What? Do you need help or something?”

Again, another knock.

“You’ve got to be kidding. Hold on.”

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

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

“N-no,” the innocent man answers.

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

Sebastian begins to sneak up on them.

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

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

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

“What are you going to do?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

Part 2 – The Long Night

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Who are you talking about?”

“What? You’re not…”

Gunshots are heard outside.

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

“What is the furnace used for?”

“Why does it matter?!”

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

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

Sebastian looks at the fireproof body bags.

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

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

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

Two backup police come out of hiding as he escapes.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

She smiles then says, “Marry me?”

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

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

 

 

Part 3 – The Redemption

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sebastian hugs the man.

“What are you doing?!”

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

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

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

“I…I don’t know what to say.”

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

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

 

The End

 

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

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

Chapter 1 – Never-ending Nightmares

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

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

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

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

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

She takes her medication then throws away the empty bottle.

“And these shitty medications don’t help.”

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

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

“Just fine. You?”

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

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

“Well try not to overdose alright?”

“Alright.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rose starts to walk away and Richard follows her.

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

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

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

“…”

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

“Sure. I got nothing better to do.”

“Cool.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Hey Rose.”

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

“Breakfast is here,” says Richard.

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

 

 

Chapter 2 – Another Day, Another Nightmare

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

“Thanks for reminding me, captain obvious.”

“So what are you going to do?”

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

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

“What? You still hate that?”

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

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

“Man I hate that kind of job.”

“Like being a bank accountant is any different?”

“Hey, at least we got paid more.”

“True.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“I guess you’re right.”

The waitress brings them the receipt.

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

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

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

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

“There’s a reason why you know.”

“I know. Thanks for caring about me.”

“No problem.”

“See you.”

“See you later!”

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

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

“Suuuurrrre, but who are you?”

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

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

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

“Right…”

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

“And what if I’m not interested?”

“And listen to your girl friend?”

“He’s not a girl!”

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

“I uhhh…a while.”

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

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

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

“Hmmm, I’ll think about it.”

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

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

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

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

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

He asks Rose, “What’s your name?”

“It’s-”

“The Stranger,” Maria interrupts.

“Hey, that’s not my name!”

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

“Alright, so what’s your name here?”

“Judy Nails.”

“Nice name.”

“I know right?”

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

“Thanks,” says Rose.

“No problem.”

“How much do I owe you?”

“Nothing. It’s on me.”

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

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

“What for?”

“We’re friends now, aren’t we?”

“Uh, I guess.”

“Awesome!”

They exchange info.

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

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

“Alright, I understand. Good night.”

“Good night.”

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

“Hey there,” he says.

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

“I just got the job.”

“Me too.”

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

“Haha, that’s right.”

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

“Same.”

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

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

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

“Hey.”

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

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

“We definitely need to get better jobs.”

“Did you see if any banks need accountants?”

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

“Damn.”

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

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

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

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

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

“I do.”

“You’re such an asshole!”

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

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

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

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

Rose notices that she has her magnum with her.

‘It’s defiantly helping.’

She checks the gun.

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

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

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

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

“You’ll need it,” a voice says.

“What? Who’s there?”

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

Chapter 3 – Finding Relief

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

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

“I was thinking that…ummm.”

“You got our plans for this weekend?”

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

“Wow really?”

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

“Hmmm, you may be right.”

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

“Thanks.”

“No problem.”

“And…Richard?”

“Yeah?”

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

“Since college.”

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

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

Rose notices that she’s still holding her elephant.

“Uh…yes.”

“What did you name it again? Elephanty?”

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

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

“See you.”

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

“Hi,” says Maria.

“Maria? What are you doing here?”

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

“I’m fine thanks. How are you?”

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

“I tried it last night.”

“And?”

“It helped a little I guess.”

“Good. Do you want to hang out?”

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

“With the psychiatrist right?”

“Right. How do you know?”

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

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

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

“Ok.”

“Oh, and cute elephant plush.”

Maria smiles as she pets it.

“Thanks.”

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

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

“We could go to the Shopping Strip.”

“Sounds cool.”

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

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

“Aren’t most cities like that?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

“He really sounds like a badass now.”

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

“What about them?”

“How are you with them?”

“I could care less.”

“Why?”

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

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

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

“Oh, I’m sorry.”

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

“You mean a “street pharmacist”?

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

“Well hey, what are friends for right?”

Maria smiles.

“Yeah…right.”

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

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

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

“Oh…alright!”

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

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

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

“Do you remember what happens in your nightmares?”

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

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

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

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

“No clue.”

“Have you ever killed someone with that weapon?”

“No.”

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

“Ok.”

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

“How are you feeling?” the psychiatrist asks.

“I’m feeling better. Thank you.”

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

“Ok. I will.”

Rose leaves the psychiatrist, goes home and calls Richard.

“So how did it go?”

“Better than expected.”

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

“Definitely! You wanna hang out tomorrow?”

“Sure.”

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

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

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

“Who’s there?”

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

Chapter 4 – Together Forever

Rose grabs her phone and calls Richard.

“Good morning sunshine. Did you sleep well?”

“Fuck no.”

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

“That shit’s expense though!”

“Well, maybe you need another solution.”

“And what might that be?”

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

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

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

“I don’t know.”

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

“Yeah.”

“Cool. I’ll see you later then.”

“Alright.”

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

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

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

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

“Maybe.”

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

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

“Hahaha!”

“Pain isn’t funny!”

“It is when it happens to someone else.”

“Really? I didn’t know that.”

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

“Ow ow ow!”

“Hahaha! You’re right! It is funny!”

“Oh fuck you!”

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

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

“New as in?”

“I don’t know. How’s your family?”

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

“Oh, I’m sorry I forgot-”

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

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

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

“Yeah.”

“I feel bad for them.”

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

“You mean a drug dealer?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Ok.”

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

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

“I hear ya.”

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

“Yup.”

“So why are we talking about it?”

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

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

“Fuck you bitch.”

“No, fuck you bitch.”

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

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

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

‘God this sucks!’

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

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

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

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

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

‘There! The exit!’

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

Chapter 5 – Bigger Problems

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

“Hello, mom.”

“Hello, how have you’ve been doing?”

“Fine, you?”

“Alone with nobody to care for me.”

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

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

“Since when did you start caring about me?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

“N-”

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

“It’s because I was busy upstate.”

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

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

“Hi there,” Maria says.

“Hey. Come in.”

Maria enters the apartment and looks around.

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

“Are you alright? You seem mad.”

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

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

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

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

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

“I can’t wait to meet him one day.”

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

“Awesome.”

“So what’s brings you here today?”

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

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

“Alright.”

“Do you want to hang out today?”

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

“What’s wrong?”

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

“Awesome.”

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

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

“It’s fine Rosey. How are you doing?”

“I’m good, you?”

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

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

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

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

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

“Ok good night. I love you, dad.”

“Love you too Rosey.”

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

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

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

‘Holy shit. Well, that’s different.’

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

“Fucking fat piece of shit, move!”

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

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

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

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

Rose then wakes up after wrestling the blankets off her.

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

 

 

 

Chapter 6 – Someone New

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

“Hey there,” he says to Rose.

“Hey.”

“What’s up?”

“Nothing. Is there something you need?”

“No, I just wanted to talk to you.”

Rose blushes a little.

“Why?”

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

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

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

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

“Nope. Doesn’t ring a bell.”

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

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

Rose blushes again.

“What’s your name?”

“Rose, what’s yours?”

“Travis, it’s nice to meet you.”

“Same to you.”

“You wanna hang out after work?”

“Sure.”

“Sounds great.”

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

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

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

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

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

“Yep.”

“That’s amazing that you survived that.”

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

“Did your friend Richard work there with you?”

“He did. We went to college together.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“I know now.”

The two split the bill and leave the restaurant.

“Tonight was nice,” says Rose.

“It was.”

“You want to hang out again sometime?”

“Sure. I’d like that.”

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

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

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

 

 

 

Chapter 7 – The Ugly Side of a Best Friend

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

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

“I do. I’ve seen them everywhere.”

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

Rose nods her head sideways.

“I was?”

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

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

“Really? Did you give it a name?”

“I – uh…yes. It’s…Elephanty.”

“Elephanty huh? That’s a cute name.”

“Thank you.”

Travis smiles and walks away.

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

“I guess.”

“Well, he can’t have you.”

“What are you-”

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

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

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

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

“That’s me and you’re mine.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Uh alright then.”

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

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

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

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

“Thanks.”

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

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

“What? Am I too creepy?”

“Kinda.”

“I’m sorry.”

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

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

Or at least mostly normal.

 

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