Tumgir
#as soon as i heard that my brain leapt to Them. the brain rot is real and incurable
daylighteclipsed · 23 days ago
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cant stop thinking of brenner stranger things’s quote abt the nina opera in relation to sora kingdom hearts forgetting riku’s sacrifice/death I am fr mentally ill
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thepanipurisimp · 12 months ago
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Tandoori Nights Part 5: Stranded
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Vidhi couldn’t see well in the dark, but that shouldn’t have been a problem in the first place if her two idiot friends hadn’t run off by themselves. The part they were in was decorated by portraits of long dead people, framed with oxidised gold and adorned on chipping walls. The hallway floor was littered with what seemed like rat droppings and what looked like…
Skin.
Vidhi shuddered, electing not to think about it.
A sudden hand on her shoulder made her jump and she spun to see Nandini pointing ahead. She followed her compatriot’s finger and saw a blur of motion pass in front of her.
“Holy-”
“It's a cat.”
Vidhi turned to look at Luck for confirmation. The older person shrugged but didn’t contradict Nandini’s verdict. 
“We need to get to it,” Nandini concluded and began to power walk towards it.
“Wait-what? Why?” 
Vidhi and Luck scrambled along behind the determined cat lover. The air in the mansion smelled like mildew and rot; with something sweeter and more sinister creeping through its veins.
Vidhi couldn’t place a finger on it…
But there was something here.
Something that burned.
After breathlessly catching up to Nandini she saw that the girl had frozen in place, staring at the spot where the ‘cat’ had been.
“It was right here,” Nandini sounded mystified.
“That's what she said,” Vidhi grunted under her breath.
“But we saw something,” Luck interrupted, “We all saw something, right?”
And that's when it happened. What exactly happened, Vidhi could never remember again, but her phone buzzed in her pocket. She didn’t know who was calling. She couldn’t see. The ringtone played loudly enough to echo like a haunting, long forgotten melody.
Tak tana na na tandoori nights,tandoori nights, tandoori nights,
Tak tana na na tandoori nights,tandoori nights, tandoori nights..
Walls of flame spurted from both sides of the hallway. The three of them screamed and ducked down to the floor. Heat raced across Vidhi’s skin and she prayed that she lived long enough to Rickroll Vani and Shreya again.
Tak tana na na tandoori nights,tandoori nights, tandoori nights,
Tak tana na na tandoori nights,tandoori nights, tandoori nights..
“GET OUUUUUUUUUTTTTT!”
A wraith whose body looked almost papery, her skin translucent, appeared in a dance of fire. Her eyes were inflamed, like sizzling embers and her dark hair billowed around her like a swathe of night. She was decked in finery; more gold than any of the three had ever seen before, and the finest silks that cost more than Rude’s van.
“GET OUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUTTTTTT!”
Shama sharabi dono jahan sharabi,
Rutt rawa sharabi, dildar ve,
Hawa sharabi, teri ada sharabi,
Yeh fiza sharabi, dildar ve
Her voice was like the core of earth itself, cracking as the three leapt up and took down the hallway. Vidhi could feel sweat covering her entire body like she had been sucked into a cocoon, the walls around her seemed to be closing in.
She gulped in air, “Is she still onto us?”
Nandini was unnaturally calm, which initially had perturbed Vidhi, but she had decided that the girl had a perennial poker face, “I don’t think we should waste energy in checking.”
Tanha tanha hai din,
Tanha tandoori nights,
If loving you is wrong,
I don’t wanna be right
“I WILL KILL YOU ALLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLL!” 
“I THINK THAT'S OUR ANSWER,” Luck yelled over the commotion as the three turned a corner and nearly slammed into Shreya and Vani, both of whom sported wide eyes and pale faces.
Vidhi wanted to punch and hug then at the same time.
“WHERE THE HELL WERE THE TWO OF YOU?” She launched herself at them as her phone kept belting Himesh Reshamiya’s most genius tune till date. Shreya and Vani both sidestepped, making Vidhi nearly fall to her face.
She balanced herself on a peeling wall just in time.
Rabba rabba meri jaan jale, jale, jale, jale..
Tak tana na na tandoori nights,tandoori nights, tandoori nights,
Tak tana na na tandoori nights,tandoori nights, tandoori nights
Tere bin tere bine meri jaan jale, jale, jale, jale
“Hah, lol,” Shreya chuckled.
“Vani,”Vidhi gritted her teeth, “How do you block someone in real life?”
Vani blinked almost as if in a trance, “I’m going to kiss the ghost.”
“We really need to keep running,” Nandini and Luck urged as they each grabbed one of Vidhi’s wayward friends.
Vidhi stood up, dusting her hands on her pants and looked back. Or... made the mistake of looking back. Because she saw the wraith, now more humanoid, with her skin peeling and burned and red. She was missing an eye and her jewellery was rusted, her fine silk saree covered in soot.
Tak tana na na tandoori nights,tandoori nights, tandoori nights,
Tak tana na na tandoori nights,tandoori nights, tandoori nights..
“Oh shit,”she whispered
_____________________
Maraan hated the dark, it barely registered on his camera. His shoulder had developed a familiar ache as his camera dug into his skin. He hoped that all this hard work would turn up some precious footage.
He had paired off with the eccentric rich kids; or at least who he presumed were the eccentric rich kids. Saba and Freddie clung to each other as if it was the last days of civilization and Billu wandered off often only to return with some dust on his curly hair.
Maraan would ask about his adventures a little later.
“I hate it here,”Saba stated defiantly, “It smells wrong.”
“I want to make a joke,” Billu began, “But I fear the consequences.”
“As you should,” Saba warned, “I will end you.”
“Women empowerment,” Billu conceded.
Maraan chuckled at their exchange when he felt like an insect was buzzing near his ear. He raised his palm to swat it away, only for the sound to intensify painfully. The humming grew oppressive and it felt like the sound had wormed inside his skulls.
Saba shook her head, as if trying to dislodge the sound from inside her mind. Maraan squeezed his eyes shut as his vision swam and the smell of smoke and burning flesh covered him like a warm, wet blanket.
Was this place…?
He couldn’t answer the question as bright light assaulted his vision, making him jump back with a yelp. He heard a high scream and mustered enough energy to look at Saba.
He gulped.
Somehow her dupatta had caught fire. Bright scarlet flame that almost seemed otherworldly seemed to dance to music no one could hear. Maraan felt his skin crawl as cold and heat blanketed him together, trying to drag him down into its depth.
But he flexed his fingers and rushed forward, stamping on the end of Saba’s dupatta. A few moments later, Freddie joined him, fervently pounding his foot onto the ashen edges. 
Saba was covered in sweat, and Billu was kneeling in front of her, holding onto her hands as the immortal flame finally died. Once it did, Maraan staggered back but Freddie elbowed Billu aside gently to take Saba’s hands in his.
Both of them panted for a second before Freddie reached out gingerly, though tenderly, and cupped Saba’s face.
“Are you okay?” his voice was soft as he surveyed the girl before him.
All she could manage was a dumbfounded nod as Freddie realised he was touching her. He scrambled back and helped her up, but Maraan could swear that he heard him mumble; “I don’t know what I would have done if you had gotten hurt.”
Maraan mustered the strength to heft his camera up again and wondered if he would ever be able to eat bad chicken biryani again without being reminded of this night.
But for now, they had to get out.
“We have to get out,” Maraan stated the obvious.
The three others nodded and began to hobble out weakly when Saba turned around, seemingly hearing something. Her eyes widened and her skin blanched, her white knuckles were gripped in a vice around Freddie’s forearm.
“There’s a line of women behind us.”
“When that happens it's usually my mom and she’s about to throw a shoe at me,” Maraan’s sound-jumbled brain didn’t quite register the severity of what Saba was saying.
That is until he turned around…
And saw the line of half burned women behind them, their lips open in a haunted melody.
Tak tana na na tandoori nights,tandoori nights, tandoori nights,
Tak tana na na tandoori nights,tandoori nights, tandoori nights..
_________________________________
Luck was breathless from everything. Initially she had wanted to see what would happen if Rude licked the moss but after Rude and Anu had been thrown into the air and a non-existent chandelier had tried to kill their friend, they knew that there was no proof needed to know that the place was haunted.
Rude raced up to them, their spirited Pomeranian quipping at their ankles.
“Is she okay?” Rude was just as breathless as they were, it seemed.
“I-I don’t know,” Luck still felt her muscles registering what had happened, they blinked, “We should climb over and check.”
“We should,” Rude replied but Luck looked to see Bandit’s lips moving to the exact timing of the words.
“Your dog-”
“Can’t talk,” Rude finished as they strode towards the decimated pieces of crystal and sharply cut stone. 
They stood as their dog pawed away at the mass at almost superhuman speed. A small, precariously built but stable tunnel formed soon. Bandit scrambled back in through the other side and shared a decisive look with Rude.
And that was all it took for Rude to crawl in.
Luck chose to stumble over, feeling almost like a legendary hero climbing an impossible slope. Their hands registered mild pain and she could feel pieces of stone lodging in their shoes but she didn’t care.
Relief washed over them as she saw that Anu was fine. Her chest was lifting up and down to the rhythm of her breathing. Her head rested on the lap of the older owners of the guest house. Their sister kneeled next to them, patting Anu’s brow with a damp cloth.
And…
And there was one more girl next to them, a dark fuzzy shawl wrapped around her frame. That girl, Luck had not seen before. As they tried to slide down the length of the rubble, Rude emerged from the other end, rushing to Anu’s side.
Ariel looked up at Luck, a brow furrowed, “What happened?”
Luck opened their mouth to tell the whole story; how the face had materialized in the wall, scaring all of them. How Rude had gone flying as if they had been dragged back by unseen hands.
How Anu had nearly died.
But they didn't get a chance as all their travel companions converged at the same time in the courtyard; all in different states of frenzy. Raisin and Naina were pale-faced, clutching a camera in their hands that was close to its breaking point. Shaam, Nitya and Isha had an ashen look on their faces, and they subconsciously drew closer together. Vidhi, Nandini, Shreya and Vani were all grasping their knees, panting as if they had run a marathon.
And Saba, Billu, Freddie and Maraan looked around with wide eyes as if death had danced by and nearly claimed them.
All of them had a thin sheen of sweat gracing their brows.
Commotion erupted as everyone took each other in. 
“This place is cursed,” Saba began and was followed by Maraan rushing towards Luck and helping her down from the mound of debris.
Shaam looked at Isha and Nitya and marched towards the large copper door, determination setting her eyes on silent fire. She pulled hard on the door before shoving her shoulder against it.
It didn’t budge.
Nitya and Isha joined her, launching their weight against the door. But it didn’t give.
Not even a little.
Luck gulped, realising that they hadn’t had water for a long time now when a hand on their shoulder startled them. But their heart stopped it’s thundering rampage when they saw that it was only Vidhi.
“Luck,” she panted, gulping in the cold night air that wove them in like flies in a web, “Weren’t you… weren’t you with us? Nandini and I?”
Before Luck could answer, the strain of the door cut them off as more people joined the three. Saba was kicking the door with a ferocity Luck hadn’t witnessed before, and Rude and Bandit were trying to bite the hinges.
Luck felt like too much was happening at once.
Way too much.
Within herself they knew that something was wrong. Naina and Raisin had been outside… the door shouldn’t have… couldn’t have closed on its own.
They were stuck.
No. No, not stuck. They were…
“WAIT!” Naina’s voice rang out like the last bell at school. How Luck wished they could be dismissed.
Naina looked around frantically, her dark hair whipping in her face as Luck thought they looked oddly angelic.
“Where-where is Forest?”
Cast:
Anushka: Me
Rude: @rude-occurrence
Luck: @synesthetic-simp
Vidhi: @weird-u
Nandini: @mango-pickle
Maraan: @neon--mess
Saba: @inaayaat
Frederick Ramsbottom: @arrigatoroy
Billu: @reddish-green-personality
Vani: @vanini-head
Shreya: @psycho-mocha
Kashaf: @lemonsparkly
Ariel: @hewwoloki
Isha: @doodies-unite
Shaam: @moon--bug
Nitya: @hey-adoraaa
Naina: @some-major-ishues
Raisin: @stardustandvanilla
Neeti: @aadyeah
Anshi: @nemuri-ibarahime
Forest: @anou-yes
tagging some mutuals who wanted to be tagged: @puran-poli, @stars-triumphant, @cipher-dorito, @holding-infinity-and-a-book, @junebugsandknives, @gopikanyari, @acereader​ 
Previous Parts:
Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4: Episode 1
Part 4: Episode 2
If you wanted to be added or removed dm me :DD
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barricadebops · a year ago
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To Dance Through the Seasons
Summary: Marius reflects on a memory of dazzling dance turned melancholic as the people at his wedding spin through the ballroom with great ecstasy.
Contrary to popular belief, Marius' grandfather was not the one who had provided him with his education in dance. Most thought that he had hired a tutor for Marius when he was younger and before he had left the house to the many whisperings of the society in which he was raised. But this was not true. Some others yet believed that Gillenormand himself taught him to dance; the man certainly was interested enough in teaching Marius to behave the way he believed young men with spirit and a want for women should, and while it was true that the old man had quite a strength to his movement that seemed shouldn't be possible for a man of his age, this belief was not true either. There were a few still that believe that perhaps his aunt took pity on his essentially orphaned state and, seeing no other parental figure in his life do so, taught him to dance herself.
But none of these thoughts were true. For Marius had received his education and training in dance quite late for the position he held in society, and it was quite informal too, for Marius had been taught to waltz and even quadrille in the small flat owned by--once owned by Courfeyrac.
His first attempts had been laughable, and laugh Courfeyrac did. Having come from a family of means himself, Courfeyrac already knew well how to dance, and from what he had heard as they danced (or in Marius' case, tripped) around the room, spinning and attempting to keep to time, it seemed a good few of Courfeyrac's friends (his friends too, Courfeyrac was adamant on insisting) knew too.
It had come, surprisingly, before he had met Cosette, or even gained knowledge of her existence; it had come suddenly one day as Courfeyrac popped the question out of the blue. Retrospectively, others may say that they may have started much early in their friendship, but he supposed that was how youth was: quick transitions from vous to tu.
At his denial, Courfeyrac had sought to remedy this error and leapt out his seat to extend his hand to him, arranging them in the correct positions to teach Marius to lead. And thus the tradition was born; every so often, Courfeyrac would teach Marius to dance in the cramped little apartment, delighting himself in what little progress he made with each session.
And each time, Courfeyrac had always donned his best clothes and insisted Marius did the same. He believed it was for the atmosphere.
When he had met Cosette, these lessons became even more crucial. To Courfeyrac, that is, rather than Marius.
"You must dance with your wife when you finally have your wedding with her," he teased as he allowed himself to be lead by a then much-more confident Marius. "Ah, Marius! When am I to finally meet this mystery maiden of yours! Am I to suppose you shall reveal her only at the marriage?" And at this Marius would smile and make some comment back on how Courfeyrac would do better to focus instead on the newest woman to have caught his recent fancy, than disclose to him that he had once seen her before, and even deigned to call her ugly. It was a memory that made his nose wrinkle.
As it happened, with the impending rebellion, Courfeyrac seemed to have less time to dance with Marius. Marius, love struck with Cosette, hardly noticed.
Now, however, as his eyes swept across the dance floor at his grand weddding, he wished, though he was still giddy with the feeling of love that filled most of his heart, that there was some part of his love addled brain that noticed. A part of him wished that he insisted, nay demanded, that Courfeyrac take a few moments to step away from the papers he grew to scritch ink on more and more as the time went by, and spin with him through the room.
A part of Marius cursed his lack of awareness. Anothet part yet cursed all those in Paris--all of Paris--for being the reason he couldn't keep his promise to his dear friend.
"It's all good and well that you'll be dancing with this mystery-maiden-to-be-wife on the day of your wedding," Courfeyrac said as they glided across the floor. "Especially as your talent for this seems to grow--La Quadrille is quite difficult and yet you've picked it up rather well--but I've strayed from my point. What I'm saying is that while it's all well you should dance with your wife first on the day of your wedding--she will be your wife after all--I believe it is nothing groundbreaking for me to ask that I be your second."
There had been a twinkle in his eyes as he asked, daring Marius to reject something that would so obviously be accepted by both.
And so of course he had accepted. But it hadn't been enough for Courfeyrac.
"Do I have your guarantee on that, Monsieur?" he cried. "You're sure you won't offer it to any pesky cousins? Your aunt? Perhaps even that old wheezer of a grandfather of yours would want a go."
And so Marius laughed hard enough to break the rhythm of the dance--and it was quite welcome, for he couldn't remember ever laughing quite so much while under the rule of his grandfather--and he assured--promised Courfeyrac that unless heaven above suddenly experienced a storm, he would be his second dance at his wedding.
At that time, he hadn't noticed that the grounds of the city were in enough turmoil with the illness of Lamarque, man of the people, and the dissatisfaction of a great number of people, that its quakings were enough to be felt in heaven above, which would see a staggering number of arrivals soon enough.
"Excellent!" Courfeyrac had replied. "You watch Marius--at this rate, you shan't have to call in a tutor for your children either. I shall teach all your little ones to dance for their own weddings." And the mention of children--imagining children with Cosette--was enough an image to have him blushing and his mind cloud with visions of Cosette that turned his thoughts away from how joyous Courfeyrac looked as he laughed and teased at Marius' flush, and Marius never quite forgave himself for being so caught up as to miss such a moment.
As it happened to be, that promise was impossible to fulfill. He knew it the first time he woke up from his coma and his sobs racked his body hard enough for the doctor to express concern to his grandfather that he might worsen his injuries. He knew it when his grandfather handed him the guest list for the wedding and no matter how many times his eyes scanned the papers, the name M. Courfeyrac never once appeared, until his eyes could no longer run over the list from how they watered as he weeped. He knew it the moment he stepped out onto the floor and offered Cosette his hand and there was no brilliant smile in the background watching with pride as Marius led flawlessly on the dance floor.
But it still did not deter him from excusing himself from Cosette's side and approaching the figure situated in the corner, half concealed in shadows, away from the crowd, a faint smile on his usually illustriously vibrant face.
There were no words he had; this wasn't any sort of storybook where he poured all his grief out in his speech. For as soon as he felt it overburden his being, as soon as he felt it overwhelm his heart and sicken his stomach with how strongly he felt it, the words dissolved on his tongue the moment he opened his mouth to speak.
So there were no words to speak. There were only things to be done as Courfeyrac raised his hand to offer him a dance.
And he should have known. If not from the countless times he had played the memory of the exact event of it over and over until it rotted his brain--the way Courfeyrac had fallen quick as the lightning that struck his heart when he truly saw Cosette for the first time and he no doubt wasted Courfeyrac's time telling him about, the way the light was dashed out from his eyes usually so bright and expressive, a sort of warmth Marius had rarely experienced in his life, like that of a warm bed welcoming him after the cold possibility of loneliness having left such a life of certainty, now fizzled and extinguished leaving the hearth so cold--or the way he had spoken the fact out loud to his grandfather--he's dead, such a casual declaration for such a dazzling personality-- then from the way Courfeyrac was missing a hat. Being the dandy he was, he would not be caught in a wedding without proper attire. So he should have known. And yet, the haunting grief that forced his body into a shudder, the brief wave of rage he still hadn't completely managed to rid himself of even after these several months, and the last overwhelming sense of helplesness that he felt as his hand passed through that of Courfeyrac's--this mere apparition of Courfeyrac's--and his smile turned a little sadder; so close, he looked so real. Just in Marius' reach, and yet, everytime-- from the first time he had seen him the moment before he confronted his grandfather about his wishes to marry Cosette, to the present moment in the ballroom now--everytime Marius tried to extend even the tips of his fingers to brush what should have been warm skin, he only came away cold and empty, and any attempt to garner laughter which came so easily to his friend only caused him to smile with a more melancholic tone to him.
And Marius was no longer sure how he could go on with it anymore. Everywhere he turned, Courfeyrac seemed to be there; a part of him begged him to leave him to mourn and move on with some semblance of normal. Another felt that perhaps even if he had with him this silent spirit, then he may not have completely lost his best friend.
As it was, no matter which warring side was winning depending on the day, it should he said that Marius was exceedingly tired of it. His shoulders sagged under the weight of the ghosts he carried, and Courfeyrac was a great weight he could not get off his chest.
Not even as he stood there in front of an apparition, a ghost, he knew was not real, no matter how he sought to find a hat lying somewhere that would be the symbol of Courfeyrac's beating heart.
As it stood, there was none.
But there was nothing to be said. And so he turned back and restationed himself by Cosette's side. When she asked if he was alright, he plastered a smile on his face and said he'd never felt better in his life. Watching the others dance, he remarked how they would have to hire a tutor to teach their children to dance.
Courfeyrac once promised Marius he would share a dance with him on his wedding. But this hatless apparition of him had neither been dressed with the appropriate clothes for a dance at his wedding, nor the appropriate armour for a fight at an abandoned rebellion.
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sempermoi · 11 months ago
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Nightmare Tale
So I had a nightmare like an hour ago while taking a nap and after I recovered from the initial herat attack upon waking up... the story was actually kinda interesting imo. Like, I'm thinking it could be a small dnd plotline ^^
So I wrote it out: have fun (please don't mind the typos, i wrote this out on my phone...)
tw: mentions of body horror and abusive relationship (though not in-depth)
Two Curses of the Same Coin
A cruel lord marries the daughter from one of his enemies after he defeated him. The girl is sweet and the polar opposite of her new groom. Any chance of love between the two was quickly destroyed by the lord himself, his cold heart incapable of loving anything else but power. During the wedding the lord made it his endeavour to insult the bride's side of the guests, none who could stop them in their shame. But in his insults, would lie his mistake. He'd flip tables, push over chairs with the people still sitting in them and he'd casually use his sword to injure, arrest and break anyone and anything around him. He was so caught up in his revelrie that he had not noticed that in his path had lain the gifts to the Gods. When one his own priests finally pointed out the fallen chalices and food, the lord laughed, not caring in the slightest. But the Gods' wrath would soon follow, and then he could no longer ignore them.
The evening came to a close and the poor bride, who'd been terrified of this moment, followed the lord up to his private quarters. The Wedding Night was about to commence. But there was at least one merciful God out there, because the lord had become so drunk that he needed to be carried by his servants and when they laid him down on the bed he almost immediately passed out. The moment the servants left, the girl went to sit by the window the farthest from the bed and started crying. Inconsolable as she realised her fate. And after hours of wracking her body with sobbing, barely heard above the loud storm that had started reading outside, she fell asleep in exhaustion. In the morning the servants quickly came to wake up their masters. The lord, not fased by his wife's puffy face and misery, let it slide for once that the Wedding Night had not been consumed. After all, he thought, there'd be many more to come. At breakfast the servants informed the lord of a stray lightning bolt hitting the tower of his private quarters with seemingly no damage done. The lord nodded and waved them away so he could eat in peace. But when he touched an apple to bring it to his lips, the fruit rotted rapidly underneath his fingers. In shock he sat there for a moment, staring at the ball of mold in his hand. A servant went to quickly take the fruit away, a mistake. The moment the servant made skin contact with his master, his flesh started to decay and decompose where he stood. Even after quickly yanking his hand away, his entire lower arm was now bones with rotten skin. This seemed to shake the lord out of his shock, and his evil mind could only ask what would happen if he kept his hands on him longer. The servant lasted about five agonizing seconds as the rot crept up before his heart and then brain gave up as they went grey. The new lady screamed, and in her kind heart, she leapt past her husband, who'd taken to observing his hand in the sun coming from the windows. She cradled the remains of the servants in her lap, and lo, a miracle. Muscle and skin mended, lungs breathing air again and a newly red heart that beat regularly. Life had come back to the servant as rapidly as it had left him. There was not a trace left of the decay from before. The lord, at first as in awe as everyone else at what he had seen, now was answered at how his wife undid his work. How dare she disobey his unspoken word. The servant did not breathe for long after that. In the days after that, the lord States to test out their new gifts. That's what he called them. But the lady knew they were a curse. The lord could no longer eat anything that would touch his hands. Not only that, touching his own body, would be just as detrimental. And so the lady was forced to be near her husband at all times so she could heal him whenever he was careless without his gloves. Gloves he needed to replace each day, as by the evening, the fabric, leather or metal were all starting to fall apart. The lord became even more cruel with his curse, killing servants and guests at a whim, terrorising all with the threat of a painful death. And the lady, who may have been naive at first, had become more cunning. She thought up a plan, to rid herself of her husband and free everyone from tyranny at the same time. It was a fairly simple plan, but one that required allies among the servants, and finding the right moment. Finding allies wasn't hard. Everyone adored the lady as she'd tried to revive anyone being brought out of the palace after being killed by her husband, if she could. But fear was powerful and it still took months and even years of slowly building up trust and courage. Including for herself. Then one night, it was time to carry it out. As the lord fell asleep, and the lady healed the bruises and spots of decay she'd gotten from him taking his pleasure. She waited next to him. When she heard him snoring she felt it was safe to put things in motion. She quietly went to the door and let in a few trusted allies. What happened
after differs from story teller to story teller, but the result is always the same: the lord was brutally killed. The people he'd terrorised taking out their full revenge on his body long after he'd stopped breathing. The lady did not intend to revive him. For a few days the land of the lord was not in mourning, but in celebration. They were all finally free of the yoke of their oppressor and the lady proved to be a kind, but just successor. But it wasn't to last. Somehow, the lord had had allies, just as cruel and malicious as he'd been, from a dark order he'd joined years before. They wanted revenge on one of their own, but even there he hadn't been seen in a high regard. One morning the alarm was sounded, as the lady had vanished from her chambers, seemingly taken into the night, signs of struggle apparent. No one knew where she went. What was more, after searching the grounds, they found that the tomb of the lord had been broken open and his body was gone. The order had stolen the husband and wife and taken them both to a place only they knew the location of. A broken tower, forgotten by almost everyone except them. She was placed on the highest floor, with no hope of escape, all windows were filled shut with stones. He was placed in the dungeon complex underneath the tower. After she was forced to lay her hands on his body until they saw his chest rise again with breath. Then they shut all entrances of the tower. No way in or out. The lady needed no food, though she missed it. She could simply lay her hands on herself and she'd feel healthy again. Of course the lord knew this and he found his way out of the dungeons, to enact his revenge from his murder, but also to stay alive. And so a gruesome routine developed. She'd hear him come up the stairs with laboured, but determined breathing and prepare herself to make a stand. But he had his sword, and he'd succeed in forcing her to heal him back to health. But he hated the sight of her and her incessant attempts to kill him so he stayed down in the dungeon, until a few days later he'd return again. And so, again and again and again.
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buirbaby · a year ago
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The Wardens: A New Wind Blows
Notes:  Please note that this fanfic is entirely self-indulgent and warps a bit of the plotting/history. I thought it'd be fun to do a reincarnation insert, but also add rules to it to make it more difficult for the protagonist to be successful in saving canon characters. I've also added lore about the Wardens and griffins, because why not. Might not make sense (though I am trying to be as canonical as I can), but it's fun to write!
Rating: M + Mature themes, language, and violence
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Cold. Everything was so blasted cold.
Shuddering, Tabitha rolled over and opened her eyes, enough light in front of her for her breath to stream through the air. It had been early summer, why was it cold as balls here? Groaning, she sat up and rubbed the back of her head. Wherever she'd been laid down, it was lumpy, hard, and uncomfortable. Her bare palm scrabbled against stone and confusion ripped through her. Fire. There had been a fire in her home and Balerion had woken her up.
"Balerion?" she called, her hoarse voice echoing through the cave. None of this made sense. One moment she had been passing out from suffocating on smoke and now she was in some icy cave? Maybe this was hell. That's what she got for her years of service, somehow avowing that killing for her country was somehow not murder. God seemed to think not and thus this was his version of purgatory or hell. Who would've thought that hell was frosty? Grumbling, she clambered to her feet and glanced around, uncertain which direction was deeper into the cave and which was out. Either way, she needed to get moving because she was going to freeze her tits off at this rate.
Trailing into the abyss, she continued along the only path set before her, curious if some demon or spectre would greet her in the afterlife. Would they tell her she was an idiot for not taking the offer of money? Or that somehow that condo company had a hand in her death?
There was a light up ahead, brightening the shadows that she was having difficulty glaring through. Did all cats go to heaven and she was damned? At least death hadn't been that painful, just like going to sleep before the tidal waves of fire consumed them. Out of all the things that Tabitha could be thinking, she thought about how crappy it was that this fire had to happen right before the trip of a lifetime she'd been waiting for. Iceland had been the most anticipated trip, even bigger than Denali. So much for celebrating her big 3-0 in the fjords and ice. Now she'd rot in the ground at eternally 29.
The mouth widened in front of her and a chill breeze swept right through her, making her shudder, as she drew her arms closer. Shafts of grey light filtered in through slats in the stone, the cavern dome-shaped and wide open. Dried grass and leaf litter was scattered against the ground, almost in the shape of nests, but they were long abandoned. In front of her, she thought she saw a fleeting bit of moment, a dark shadow slinking along the perimeter of the room, but doubted herself. It wasn't until the pool of darkness flew across, pouncing on her, that her heart leapt up into her throat and her body collided back with the hard stone flooring. Gasping, trying to flounder for air that had been driven from her lungs, she was eye to eye was a behemoth creature.
Brilliant fiery orange eyes blinked at her, set into a raptor's face, only the head of the bird was larger than her own. Obsidian feathers encircled its face, a wickedly sharp beak preening close to her face, a set of long tufted ears twitching. Undoubtedly a demon of hell, Tabitha was convinced, wondering if she'd screwed up her descent into the layers or if she should have tried running. She need only wait for it to disembowl her to begin her eternal torture in this frigid wasteland, but it was acting strangely. Tilting its head to the side before a soft murmur, almost like a huffing trill-similar to that of a cat caught between a purr and meow-blew her hair back. No, she knew those eyes. She hadn't thought of them like fire before, but more like pumpkins.
"Balerion?" she whispered, afraid that speaking any louder would enrage the creature.
The raptor pushed its face into hers, nuzzling the shiny ink black beak into her cheek, before clambering off to allow her to sit up. Tabitha was startled by what she saw, her cat's feline form condensed to only the frame of which he now possessed, his bottle brush tail sweeping behind him, a thick mane of feathers and fur clustered around his neck and throat, akin to a lion. But his front paws were talons, sharper than knives, fashioned for killing. Yet, the griffin's mannerisms bespoke of her soul mate.
"What the fuck is going on?" she managed, pushing herself to her feet to trot toward him, burying her fingers in the warmth of his feathers. Damn, it was cold here and Balerion was radiating heat. "Man, we're definitely not in Kansas anymore, are we bud? You're... huge." Trying to fathom how it was possible her house cat had turned into a griffin, Tabitha continued to puzzle as she kept close to him.
Another trill of agreement before the feline pulled away, ear tufts twitching, before he let out a low growl, beak parting in fury. Suddenly, she was thrust behind him, barely able to glance over the broad set of wings he was unfurling to challenge the person approaching them. However, the initial reaction simmered down, the heat dialed back as a voice spoke in a soothing language that she did not comprehend.
"Please. Warden. Come out," the voice was youthful, childish, but within the timbre of the tone there was a great weight, almost as if there was a deep ancient wisdom contained within. A shiver lanced down her spine as she stepped out, pressing her palm against Balerion's muzz-er-beak to quell him. Despite the young voice, the small being in front of her was not inherently child-looking aside from the short stature. Just as she'd been startled with the griffin, the nut-brown skin dappled with spots like a baby deer caught her off guard. Its ears were also reminiscent of a doe, large and prominent as their slitted eyes.
He wore a cloak of leaves, his dark hair intertwined with vines and lichen.
"What... are you?" Part of her recalled the descriptors deep down, but it seemed too farfetched just along with the rest of this queer world.
"The humans call us the Children of the Forest. We call ourselves those who sing the song of the earth in our True Tongue," he answered cryptically, confirming what her heart had suspected. The revelation stole her breath away, the shock of falling into the depths of a book she'd had on her nightstand the evening of her death bone chilling. "I am called Fang."
"How are we here? This should be impossible," Tabitha muttered, convinced this was a coma dream. Still, it felt so real. Maybe they had survived the fire and her dying brain had concocted this dream state to float in while she healed. Whatever it was, being dropped into the realm of A Song of Ice and Fire without any blood ties to nobility was real shitty.
"I didn't think that another of your kind would awaken. I've stayed here a long time, protecting the Roost . The last of its kind after men hunted the griffins to extinction," Fang explained, gesturing to the nests, in which Tabitha could see were more figures. However, upon scrutiny she realized that they were stone, trapped eternally in their slumber. "But it was told that for every griffin here, there is one Warden, another half to their soul, waiting to rejoin them in this life."
"Excuse me for not being aware of what my sacred, foretold destiny is, but can you enlighten me? What exactly is a warden?"
Fang was more than keen to oblige, the years of solitude in this cold cavern grating on him. "Wardens are keepers of knowledge. Wargs in their own right. Warriors and guides during times of extreme strife."
"Never heard of them," Tabitha remarked, racking her brain for any lore on Wardens, but had never recalled seeing them in the books. Maybe they hadn't been recorded for a reason, a loophole that could change the tide of what had been written, never quite taking on a form themselves since they weren't nobles or remarkable characters aside from trying to subvert plotlines they knew were going to happen. Griffin-wielding-wargs. That's what she was now. "Then... Are we north of the Wall?" Where else would a Child of the Forest be? Unless this was well before when the books she'd known were set, this was the last frontier the Children had left.
"Yes, we are... You are familiar with Westeros' geography?"
"I am," Tabitha admitted grudgingly. "So, Fang, what's the plan? I mount up on Balerion and we fly off to try and change the world?" That was a fanciful way to put it and putting way too much hope in the fact that they wouldn't get shot right out of the sky while flying over the Wall.
"No," Fang shook his head. "You are not ready. You are not equipped for the journey. And unless you'd like to perish before your quest has even begun, you'd be wise not to just show up at any doorstep and hope for safe harbor, especially as a woman."
So Fang wasn't stupid. Tabitha's lips quirked up. "Then what do we do?"
This question would soon be answered, as Fang led them out of the cumbersome room that had wind ripping through it with icy, gnashing teeth. The cave went deeper, illuminated by strange blue lights contained within gnarled tree branches, more for her than it was for Fang, so that she might see where she placed her foot as they descended. Still, she wondered how any of this was real. How such a thing existed. Quietly, she amassed a collection of questions to ask Fang once they arrived at their destination.
The caverns grew warmer, the heat of a primordial hearth burning deep within the heart of the mountain. It took Tabitha a moment, staring at the grooves of the stone, the purposeful counter set in front of it, to realize that this was a forge. Fang paused, cocking his head and tilting his feline eyes back up toward her.
"This forge only lights when a Warden has awoken," he told her.
"When's the last time you saw it lit?" she asked.
"I have never, but before me, the time of dragons and conquerers came with the forge was bright and hot," Fang replied, skirting the room to place small hands on slate slabs that had been hewn into the wall, similar to a tomb.
"Lot a good a griffin must have been against dragons," Tabitha spoke her thought aloud, wondering how that would have sufficed. Balerion was large, perhaps even big enough to ride, but in comparison to the real Balerion? He was a pup, a mite without scales to protect him. Depending on when they were, dragons might fly again and be creatures that she'd have to be wary of. The thought of the flying reptilians made her shudder, Balerion pushing his head into her side as he noticed that she was disturbed.
"Griffins are fast," Fang countered, pushing the stone slab with a shocking amount of strength. "Faster than dragons perhaps. But they're not here to serve the same purpose. Balerion is here as a partner and an escort, not to raze cities or conquer empires."
"Good, I don't think that was on my bucket list," Tabitha quipped. "What year is it? Do you know?"
"If I've been keeping good enough record, 294 AC," the stone had been removed entirely and in its place was the hollowed out tomb filled with items.
294? That was a few years before the events of the first book. While she might not have been ready to embark on any crusade to change the ill fate of many characters, she realized now that she had time to figure out what the hell she was doing. "Well that's a relief. Would've sucked to show up after-" but the words didn't form, her tongue twisting in her mouth and becoming slow and dumb. She tried again, trying to explain the situation that would play out in a few years time, only to find that she could not speak it aloud at all.
Fang turned, his lips curving up in a smile. "Ah, so it is true," he commented, looking more his age than childish as he crossed his arms. "Legend says that for all the knowledge the Wardens might have, they cannot speak it to another."
Tabitha wanted to dash her brains against the stone. She knew all of this shit and she couldn't tell anyone? Couldn't write it down? Now this threw a bigger wrench in her plans. For if she came to a situation where she could save someone by simply saying 'hey look out for the Freys', she could not. "How am I supposed to do anything?" she hissed irritably.
"You'll know. Just as the forge beats with the life in your heart, you will know when it is time to make yourself known and to help change the tides of fate. Actions speak louder than words," Fang retorted, pulling out a thick, padded doublet that was within the stone storage. "Here, these should fit you. It is cold outside the forge and eventually, you will have to brave it."
Accepting the attire that had been stolen away for centuries, Tabitha was more than eager to put it on in place of her own thin clothing. Things could not be simple. She could not have the power over death in words, she would have to be clever, strong, resilient and work her way into politics without the cushion of a title or lands. Christ, that was going to be hard and even having Balerion beside her seemed more like a burden than a saving grace. No, she was thankful he was there, her dark star amidst the turmoil and confusion that was the world she'd suddenly been thrust into, but she felt daunted.
While Fang continued to rummage through the ancient artifacts of Wardens passed, she sat on a bench made of rock, hewn into the wall, and stared into the dancing flames of the hearth. Fire had taken her from her past life and now a new fire was ignited. Her fingertips swirled along her open palm, feeling the strange new mark that had found its way there, that hadn't been there. A swirl shaped like a griffin's head, rough around the edges, and akin to a burn--as if it had been branded into her skin. It did not hurt, but she wondered if this was her boon as a Warden.
To save Westeros. Obviously, the Night King would be the largest priority. Given that she was north of the Wall, she had to assume that her 'in' would be with the wildlings or the Night's Watch. Again, her head throbbed in worry, wondering how she'd manage to convince others that she was worthy of their time and not just a good lay, rape, or twat. She could not speak of what she knew, so she had to count on her actions and the cleverness of her tongue to aid those that she knew Westeros would be better with. Could she make it to Winterfell before Ned Stark left for King's Landing? Could she stop Bran from falling from the broken tower? Did she want to stop him? So many questions that had no answers and yet the fire danced madly in front of her, beckoning with flaming fingers, whispering into her ears.
"We shall guide you."
Through fire there had been rebirth. Not in the same manner as Dondarrian when he had a priest bless and revive him, but in another ancient method. Between worlds and veils. The fire had claimed the Warden and then spat her out into the arctic mountain that would suffice to become her home for the next few years as she gained her feet. A modern woman in a dark, twisted medieval fantasy. Not once had Tabitha yearned to be tossed amongst the pages she read with delight, because she knew that life was fickle, dangerous, and uncertain. No one was favored, even the main characters could die.
"Here," Fang interrupted her train of thoughts, breaking her line of sight with the fire that she had fallen into a trans with. He held up a scabbard before her, the sheathe a dark midnight blue, enameled with white gold detailing. Not too much, simple and clean, just enough that it wasn't utterly nondescript. The weight felt heavy on her lap, her fingers turning around the straps of the belt before she gripped the handle and pulled part of the blade out.
For a sword that had been collecting dust for more than a hundred years, it was honed and sharp. No, that was not right. There was a reason for that. Tabitha pulled it out entirely, the rippling waves in the folded steel catching the light of the fire and throwing refractions around the space like a mirror held to the sun. This was Valyrian steel, with no need to be taken to a whetstone.
"Fuck, I don't know how to use a sword."
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ashildrs · a year ago
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the things that they became
so i’m finally posting my gvbb fic, which has been a hell of a ride and i’m super happy to have worked with my very talented gang!! Thanks to @grishaversebigbang for hosting!
Materialki: @hayleylmorgan @laisacordeliaart @starstrucksailor
summary:  two years after leaving Ketterdam, Captain Inej Ghafa infamous on the seas, a name that people go running from. Her life in Ketterdam is behind her, and she's found a new family in her crew, a certain Ravkan ex-first army soldier in particular. Yet when Kaz Brekker has another job he needs her for, none of that seems to matter anymore. Inej was less finished with Ketterdam than she once believed
ao3 link is here
chapter one can be found under the cut
Kara always felt most alive when she was fighting. Perhaps there was something terrible in that, but there was no denying something in her loved to hear the crash of her sword against another. Loved the dance that followed, stepping back, forwards, dodge, strike, and on it went. There was less spinning and twirling and elaborate throwing of daggers than the stories would have you believe, but there was a certain grace to it. Yet no matter how much a part of her loved fighting, loved the beautiful thrill of it, she could never bring herself to love killing. She never had and she never would. Guilt always cloaked her whenever she drove her sword through a man’s heart, or put a bullet in his brain. No matter how terrible the person, to take a life was a cruel thing.
Killing slavers, however, was a little easier to bare than killing innocents (well exactly how innocent they were Kara felt was up for debate, but that was hardly relevant). Currently, she was trying to do just that. She was not doing particularly well at it, however. The short, dark haired slaver she was fighting had cornered her in the captains cabin, and taken her sword to boot. The doors had flung shut behind him, and Kara heart leapt uncomfortably as she realized she had hit the wall. There was no where else to back away to now. She still had her guns, one gripped tightly in her hand. Her eyes trained on the long thin sword trained at her heart. It was doubtless she could kill him if she wanted, but there was also a chance he could kill her. Kara was fond of life, she was not keen to die on a rotting slaver ship at the hands of some spineless asshole and his stolen sword.
“So this is awkward,” She said with a uncomfortable smile, never taking her eyes of the sword.
“It’s not awkward,” The slaver snarled, stepping forwards and shoving the point of his sword against her chest. “Just because that bitch captain of yours thinks she owns the damn seas – ” Oh but she does own the seas, Kara thought, hastily raising the gun in her hand, Inej Ghafa doesn’t loose. He broke off and scowled at her. The sword was putting fair distance between them, so she couldn’t stab or hit him with anything to throw him off. The sword was sharp enough to already be drawing blood at her stomach, where the slaver was jabbing it. Of course it was, it was her sword. Perhaps if she could shoot his hand, he’d be forced to drop it…
It seemed she would never have to worry about it. The doors were flung open again the man with her sword scrambled backwards to avoid being hit by one of them. Kara flinched too, then tripped and fell as she too tried to step back. She had intended to shoot the slaver, but when she looked across to the desk on the other side of the room she forgot all about him. The captain of the slaver ship was tripping backwards over his own feet, and following was a girl with two shining knives. Inej. One of her knives was quickly pressed to the mans throat. She hadn’t glanced over at Kara, but she knew Inej knew she was there. Saving me again. Kara would have been impressed if it hadn’t made her feel so bloody useless.  
“You’re dead Ghafa,” The Captain hissed, trying, and failing to fight Inej. Kara snorted, at that. People said lots of things about Inej. That she was invincible, the curse upon the seas, a goddess or a saint reborn to enact her justice, they were all lies. But they did say she never lost. Once she set her sights on you, you were as good as a ghost already. That was not wrong. People were often surprised to learn Inej was just a eighteen year old girl, no one was supposed to be so formidable so young. Kara knew a little of why, a few spare details of her time in Ketterdam. The reasons Inej was so dangerous were cruel and unfair and nothing anyone deserved. Using the skills Ketterdam and the dregs gave her for good though? It was beautifully ironic.
“I wouldn’t bet on it,” Kara said before she could stop herself, and that seemed to revitalize the slaver who had stolen her sword. He had spent the last few moments staring at Inej disbelievingly. As the slaver captain looked over at the two of them, Kara picked up her gun, took off the safety and fired a shot. The slaver slumped down to the ground, and Kara looked back to Inej and the captain. He looked afraid now, no more threats. Inej’s dagger was leaving beads of blood at his throat.
“I can give you money, or a share in profits, or the ship, or – ” Kara didn’t know why he was trying. Everybody knew you didn’t bargain with death. Inej drew the knife across his throat and he dropped back onto the desk, lifeless. She turned to Kara then, a subtle sort of smile on her face, wordlessly offering a hand. Kara looked at it resentfully for a moment, but then she sheathed her guns and took it.
“We won?” Kara asked, as she bent to pick up her sword from the dead man. It was only then that she had noticed it was remarkably quieter outside than it had been a few minutes before.
“Of course,” Inej said, pushing through the door and onto the main deck. Some part of Kara still expected bullets flying and men bleeding out and the ship a wreck. But it was never like that. The former prisoners were being carefully led across to Inej’s own ship by the rest of their crew and any remaining slavers were held a gun point. Some were even jumping ship. The Captain of the Wraith didn’t lose, the rumour carried across the sea, Kara had heard it long before she’d joined the crew. Now, two months after she had, it still amazed her. The good guys don’t always have to loose, it was a nice sentiment and a better reality.
“I suppose I should thank you,” Kara muttered, as she and Inej ventured towards Specht. He was leading the last of the slavers prisoners to the Wraith, and seemingly waiting for Inej to return.
“For saving your life?” Inej raised a brow as she glanced back at her, “I suppose you should.”
“Yeah well, thank you. I had it under control though, I would have been fine.”
“Hmm,” Inej shrugged, and before Kara could protest she was speaking to Specht. Kara didn’t make much of a conscious effort to listen, they were likely only discussing where they would dock to return the freed prisoners to wherever they came from. Kara figured she’d find out soon enough. By the look of it there were only five or six, but she wasn’t surprised. They hadn’t targeted the ship because of who they thought it was carrying. It was part of a larger game, a rich merchant turned slaver who ran a whole business of the illegal trade. He’d taken issue with Inej coming after his ships, sent some after her in return. Once they’d sunk those ships, Inej had decided to take out one of his most prized. The one they were on now. Kara would have pegged it for revenge, had she not known Inej better. It was practical, proof nothing was safe. Hunting slavers wasn’t just about playing the hero.
“Oh, and there’s a letter for you,” Specht’s words finally caught Kara’s attention, and she turned to Inej. Sure enough, he had handed her a rolled scroll of paper, tied with black string. A black crow was emblazoned on the side of the paper. The dregs, it had to be. Specht bore there tattoo, a crow and a cup, on his arm. Inej tended not to speak of her time in the dregs, or her time in Ketterdam at all. Kara couldn’t blame her. She knew a thing or two about troubled pasts, the parts of them she would rather not remember. Inej only ever spoke about the friends that she’d had there, and as far as Kara knew, none of them were still there. Besides, who was desperate enough to send letters to the middle of the ocean?
“Why would they send it to me here?” Inej voiced Kara’s thoughts aloud, and specht just shrugged.
“Some little messenger on a rowboat was sent, wouldn’t let go of the letter til it’d been put in my hand or yours,” He explained as the three of them reached the cabin of Inej’s door.
“Hell of a journey for a letter,” Kara remarked, raising an eyebrow at the scroll. Inej sighed and pocketed it, frowning a little at Kara. Kara couldn’t help but think sometimes the Captain looked at her like she was a mystery to be solved. One piece of the puzzle Inej couldn’t quite place. Inej wouldn’t have liked that, she hated a mystery she couldn’t solve.
“Thank you Specht,” She nodded in his direction, and leant back on the wooden double doors leading to her cabin. It was much nicer than the other, now dead, captains cabin, in Kara’s opinion anyway. The main body had several shelves filled with papers and books and various ornaments, a large desk and two chairs, and an inviting patterned rug. Through a door on the left hand side was a little room where Inej slept. There was something comforting about the cabin to Kara, even if it wasn’t her own. There was something comforting about the whole ship. The Wraith felt more her home than anywhere else ever had. She wondered slowly away from Inej and Spetch, leaving them to sort out whatever they were sorting out. Inej would hardly begrudge her for leaving.
Kara cast a glance to the ship across from them, Valeria and Lia were pulling away the ramp that connected the two boats. It left the remaining slavers alone at sea. An undue mercy, perhaps some would survive. It was more than they deserved, yet less than a different person might have given. She had wanted to ask Inej about the letter. She knew it was probably none of her business, but the thought kept nagging at her mind. If it’s important I’ll find out soon enough. If someone from the dregs was back and asking for anything at all it meant nothing but bad news.
Despite having never set foot in Ketterdam before, Kara had heard of the dregs. Her uncle on her mothers side had been swept up into Ketterdam’s world of gangs and Kara had grown up hearing how terrible they were. Her mother had taught her how terrible a lot of things were – if she could Kara now she’d be mortified. The weapons she carried, the company she kept, the things she’d done. At least I’m not a soldier anymore, She thought, you would have hated that the most. It was laughable to her that her kind, pacifist parents had managed to raise someone like her. You do terrible things to survive, and sometimes the terrible things become part of who you are. That was the story of everyone on this ship.
“Are you gonna help? Or are you just gonna stare at the ocean all day like you’ve never seen it before?” She heard Valeria call from behind her. The other girl was a year younger than Kara, only eighteen, and had almost been killed in the Ravkan civil war. Technically she was a deserter, but none of them saw leaving the service of a country like Ravka a dishonourable thing. Kara understood better than any of them.
“I’m coming!” Kara shouted back, realising that she hadn’t notice the boat start to move. Perhaps she had just become so accustomed to the sea it wasn’t the kind of thing she noticed anymore. But more likely thoughts of her mother had left her mind in another place entirely. Thinking of her family wasn’t exactly her favourite pastime, memories are painful when you know you can’t make anymore like them. She followed Valeria along the ships deck, pushing all thoughts of the letters and the dregs and her family to the back of her mind. Later, she decided, she would ask Inej later. Curiosity always did get the better of her in the end.
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La Pomme ~ Chapter Five
Pairing: Sam x OC (eventual Dean x OC and Dean x Castiel. And I mean eventual.)
Series summary: George is a casual French-Mistake-universe Supernatural fan living in no-COVID 2020, who's life is upended when she's suddenly launched between realities, two years into the boys' past (S13E22). What begins as an insane, immersive fan experience turns into more when Jack goes missing and George offers up her AU information to help track him down. Soon it's discovered that she and Sam may actually have history. But that's impossible, right?
Word Count: 4,300
Warnings: {smut, fluff, angst, show level violence, swearing, mentions of suicide} ***Detailed warnings will be tagged for specific chapters.
A/N: Following the events of my prequel Paradise and second story From My Eyes Off. Reading those first gives context but isn’t necessary to start this one.
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Two weeks later-and still no closer to finding MichaelDean-Jack was searching the bunker for Sam or Cas. He was having a shit day and needed to talk to someone, but so far his search was turning up empty. In fact, it seemed like the whole bunker was empty. He had a bad feeling that they'd all taken off for hunts and left without telling him. Again.
He'd just turned down the hallway along the kitchen, heading back to his room to stew, when he saw movement out of the corner of his eye. His head jerked toward it and he saw someone, dressed in thick black leggings and a grey racerback tank top with a solid purple flannel button down on top, opening the door to the fridge. It was that strange blonde woman again, the one he'd seen in Sam's room weeks ago. Maybe she knew where he was?
Walking into the kitchen, he began, "Hello agai-"
"Ah!" The woman leapt about a foot in the air and whirled around to him, the fridge door slamming closed. When she saw it was just him, she placed a hand on her chest and sighed, "Damn, dude."
"Sorry, I didn't mean to startle you," He apologized. "George, right?" She nodded hesitantly and he asked, "Have you seen Sam or Castiel anywhere?"
George shrugged casually and said, "No, but I think I heard someone say Sam left last night on a rougarou run to Dunning?" More like, you know he's on a rougarou run in Dunning because you've refused to leave your room for the last few weeks if he's in the bunker. She'd successfully been able to avoid Sam since waking up in his bed. That had been dangerous territory, so she'd been taking extra precautions to avoid him, and most everyone else, since. Which made it somewhat difficult to try and track down Rowena, who, George noticed, had seemingly done nothing to try and track HER down so far. She was beyond ticked with her now.
"Oh," Jack looked crestfallen and slowly nodded his head, "Alright. Thanks."
When Jack turned to leavesee she couldn't help herself and called, "Hey, wait…" He turned back toward her reluctantly and she almost lost her nerve, you shouldn't be doing this, "Uhh… what can I do to help?" He frowned at her and she squirmed awkwardly, "Sorry, I realize you don't know me at all, but… you seem upset, so I had to ask."
He considered her for a minute and then sighed frustratedly, "Sam-and everyone else-just keeps… leaving without telling me and-"
"You keep getting left behind?" She asked sympathetically. When he gave her an annoyed look, she smiled a little, "Sorry. I was left out a lot growing up, so I know how frustrating it can feel."
Jack's shoulders slumped and he let out an annoyed huff, sitting down at the kitchen table. "Now that my powers are gone, they all treat me like a child. They don't think I can handle anything! I'm not useless, I can do things! I can hunt! Or, at least I can be taught how to hunt, but they're all too busy!"
George deep sighed empathetically and moved to sit across from him, "Jack, you're not useless... you are young, though. And that's not a bad thing! But it does mean that sometimes you aren't ready to do certain things, even when it feels like you are." The look on his face didn't change and she smirked, "I know that isn't what you want to hear. I'm sure you'll want to hear this even less, but I wish I'd had this advice when I was your age so here you go: take the opportunity to enjoy being young and carefree and protected, even when it feels frustrating. Because… trust me when I say that you're lucky to have it and it really won't last."
"How can I enjoy it when I'm so pissed all the time?" Jack whined defeatedly. He seemed amenable to her advice but didn't know where to start.
She chuckled and shrugged, "Well, when I was a lonely, angsty teen-no offense-I used music. And video games… and food," She finished with a jokingly regrettable tone. "I wouldn't take my advice on the food, though," with a small smile she patted her fluffy midsection and he smiled with her.
Jack was studying her for a minute before asking, "What kind of music?"
"Oh, only the most angsty teen pop music the early aughts could provide: Linkin Park, Good Charlotte, Evanescence, Avril Lavigne-not the singles, the albums."
"Dean discourages pop music."
"Shocking," George muttered with a chuckle.
"What?" He asked curiously.
She shook her head, "Nothing-er-OK, so maybe not music. Have you got any video games here?"
Jack shook his head, "No."
George smirked and asked, "Let me guess, Dean discourages those too?"
Jack nodded and said, "He says it's because they'll rot my brain, but I'm pretty sure he just doesn't know how to play them and feels intimidated."
George laughed, "Yea, I would say that was probably a guarantee. The last time in his life he'd have had the luxury to play them was probably Atari?" Jack gave her a funny look. How would she know? Noticing the look she said quickly, "I mean, I assume. He just has that super old guy vibe ya know?"
Jack accepted her explanation and asked, "What kind of video games did you play?"
"Lots of different kinds. My favorite is probably N64. Those games were the best. Resident Evil, Goldeneye, Donkey Kong, Banjo Kazooie! All were personal favorites."
"Are those games still around? Can you still play them?" Jack wondered.
"If you buy all the equipment, yea? You have to get them used, probably Ebay or Gamestop or whatever."
"Gamestop?" He asked excitedly. "I know that place! There's one in town not far from here! Would they have the video games you're talking about?"
George looked confused. Why did he sound so excited all of a sudden? "Er… maybe, but-"
"Let's go!"
"WHAT?! Absolutely not."
"Please! You said video games would be a good distraction!"
"Jack, are you kidding? If Sam and Dean found out I took you out of the bunker without your powers, they'd have to stand in line behind Castiel to strangle me!"
"Please!" He begged.
She tried to be logical, "I-I don't have any money."
"Dean gave me a credit card!"
Damn. Instead she reasoned, "How would we get there?"
"I know where they keep the keys to Baby?"
Her face fell instantly and she asked, "Do you genuinely want to see me dead, Jack? If so, there are far less painful ways to accomplish that."
"Can't you drive?"
"Yes, I can drive, but there is no way we are doing this-especially not in that car. I cannot stress enough how badly this would turn out. This is literally the start of every episode! And when the bad idea goes wrong? You end up kidnapped and I end up dead!... Or worse: Winchestered!" When he just looked at her, confused, she said simply, "Jack, I'm sorry, but it's really not a good idea for us to leave the bunker. I can't fight, like, at all. If we got into a hairy situation, I couldn't do anything to protect you!"
He ignored her and kept begging, "George, please! You said that I needed to appreciate the opportunity to be young and to enjoy my time stuck here, so! Help me! We can take someone else with us, someone who can protect us both?"
Frowning at the desperate expression on his young, naive, baby face, she started considering it. I mean, if we took someone with us who knew how to fight it couldn't be that bad of an idea right? We could be in and out! Suddenly, every episode of Supernatural flooded her brain at once and she winced, shaking her head, "I'm sorry, but no, Jack. There is no one here that I would trust to be able to protect you enough to agree to do this."
"What about me?" Both of their necks snapped toward the doorway and found Sam standing there with an amused smile on his gorgeous, bearded face.
Whoa. George's jaw dropped. If she'd known he'd been growing that, she wouldn't have been avoiding him so hard. She was definitely feeling some kinda way about that beard.
"Sam!" Jack said nervously. "We were ju-"
"Planning to sneak out the window past curfew and go buy video games?" Sam shook his head with a couple teasing tsks and George couldn't help but chuckle.
Jack frowned, looking over at her and then back to Sam, "No... there aren't any windows in the bunker? We were just going to take one of the cars from the garage and drive there."
"No. We weren't!" George stood up and pointed a finger at him adamantly, "We weren't going to do anything that involved leaving or driving Baby or risking your life in any way!"
"Well, whatever you were doing," Sam interjected calmly and firmly, taking a step into the room, "I actually don't think it's a bad idea."
Jack leapt up excitedly, "Really?!" George echoed his excited 'really' with a surprised one of her own.
"Yeah. I know these last few weeks have been hard on you and if it'll help relieve some of the frustration and boredom, then," Sam paused, mulling it over before nodding, "why not?"
"Thanks, Sam!" Jack looked at George with an excited expression and she couldn't help but smile nervously at him.
"You're welcome," Sam smiled kindly, then added, "But I need a shower first. Give me 30 minutes?"
Jack nodded happily and then scurried off to wait, Sam slapping a hand on his back gently as he exited. When Sam turned back to George, she looked nervous still.
With a gulp, she asked, "Thought you were in Dunning?" Damn if he didn't look hot with that beard.
"Another team got there first. Didn't need the help after all," He explained. "You been checking on me?" He asked curiously.
Her mouth dropped open and she sputtered out a quick and pointed, "No!" giving him an offended expression, though the blush was hard to miss. She found his face frustratingly unreadable. Worried that he might be annoyed about their scheming, she tried to relax a bit and cleared her throat, "Listen, I'm really sorry. I was just trying to cheer him up; I never expected him to get the idea to leave the bunker. And-and, I never would have-"
"It's OK, you don't have to explain," Sam assured her, "I heard you guys talking. I know it was him. He has a tendency to get an idea and run with it; it's exhausting sometimes," He chortled, rubbing a tired hand over his face and she smiled understandingly.
George had a realization and frowned, asking, "Er… exactly how long were you listening?"
"Hmm, I got here right around…" He closed one eye in mock contemplation and finished with a smirk, "Avril Lavigne?"
George rolled her eyes in embarrassment and said, "OK, hold on. Listen, I'm not saying the singles! The albums have good stuff, very different from what the record company tried to force her singles to be. You have to hear the album before you judge, Sam! And I was a teenager!"
He chuckled and held his hands up. Despite the grin on his face he managed a serious tone, "Hey, I'm no hater boi."
Pinching the bridge of her nose and closing her eyes tightly, she muttered, "Ugh, Christ."
She heard him practically giggle and then say, "I'm sure it's complicated."
"Cool. Well, I'm just going to go ahead and leave now," George said pointedly, glaring at him playfully. He laughed, watching her head for the exit. She paused at the doorway to pat him on the shoulder roughly, "Let you get ready for your Father-Son bonding time."
"Hold up, you're coming with us, right?" Sam asked, suddenly looking concerned.
George, who was out in the hallway by now, turned back with a surprised expression and shrugged, "No?"
Sam gave her a look of impatience, "How will we know what to get?"
"Uh… I can make you a list?"
"What if we can't find something?"
"Congratulations, you just discovered what sales associates are for!" She cracked, smirking at his impish questioning. He knew darn well that they did not need her to go.
Sam narrowed his eyes at her stubbornness and finally pointed out, "I think Jack would like you to come."
Suddenly her expression was dubious and she said, "I doubt that. He barely knows me, we just met. Or-sort of," She blushed suddenly remembering the reason she'd been avoiding Sam in the first place. The memory of waking up in his bed conjured up in her mindseye in an instant. With a swallow, she insisted, "He just needed an adult to take him to the store and you're here now, so-"
Sam cut her off gently, "Listen, I heard most of that conversation. You were connecting with him, George. Making him feel better, which I can tell you from experience is not easy to do. I could be wrong here, but I think this is something he would like to share with you." There was a nervous, maybe even panicked expression on her face and she didn't respond.
Sam took a few steps into the hallway to stand in front of her and smiled charmingly, admitting, "And, I would like it if you came, too."
She furrowed her brow at him suspiciously, her heart beating faster all of a sudden, "You would?"
Sam nodded, "Yea. Do you know how long I've been checking my corners for beautiful women?" When her jaw dropped satisfyingly, he looked at his watch and said, "So, thirty minutes, right? More like twenty five now, I better hurry!" then walked briskly away with a wink.
Blinking rapidly, she stood there staring dumbfounded into the now empty hallway. Since when was Sam Mr. Smooth with the lines around here?!
After being frozen in place for too long, she looked up at the ceiling again and said, "OK, seriously, if anyone is recording this, I'll give you whatever you want for a copy of that, too!"
Then, shaking herself out of her stupor she panicked. She's supposed to be staying away from these people, not joining them on outings! What was she thinking? This was such a bad idea.
George sat in her tiny room of requirement, mulling over her options.
Option one, "Don't Fuck Up the Timeline," was to make an excuse and stay behind, avoiding people at all costs from now on. No more making friends with the sad little half-angels! And certainly no more thinking about Sam's beard.
Option two, "Sam's Beard (working title)," was taking advantage of a once in a lifetime opportunity by tagging along on this risky misadventure and enjoying herself.
On one hand she knew from watching shows exactly like this that screwing with a timeline could have disastrous results. But, on the other hand, it sounded like fun. And she'd been cooped up in this bunker for weeks! Plus, Sam said he wanted her to go. How could she say no to that bea-to him?
With a frustrated growl she launched herself up off the bed and stomped out of the room. She knew what she had to do.
George nervously walked up to Sam's bedroom door. You just have to tell him: you can't go. Period. Maybe Jack will be disappointed but… he'll get over it! You can't be messing around with the storylines; God knows what ramifications it could have! God knows what you've already fucked up by interacting with them! You have to stay away!
But… Did it kinda seem like Sam liked her…? Like, like-liked her. At the very least she was getting serious DTF vibes, and it was making her positively gooey. She definitely didn't remember him being so… forward on the show. Wasn't he the shy one? Either way, it was incredibly attractive. And with that damn beard? Her loins were on fire. She always knew he'd look amazing with some facial hair.
Ugh, stop it! You're being r.i.d.i.c.u.l.o.u.s. Sam Winchester. Does not. Like you! You have to keep your distance and wait for Rowena to send you back. You're risking messing with the entire fabric of the Supernatural universe and, in turn, your own! And you call yourself a fan, you should be ashamed. What is wrong with you?
Then again, you did wake up in his bed… The thought made her heart skip a beat and her head pound with frustration. As curious as she was, she knew it was dangerous territory to explore. With a deep, calming breath, she knocked herself on the forehead sharply a couple times before reaching up and knocking on his door next.
When it opened a few moments later, she was face to chest with the gorgeous giant, who was currently dressed in dark jeans and a grey, short-sleeved, v-neck undershirt. She guessed she'd interrupted him before he'd had a chance to throw on his trademark plaid on top. It was a disconcerting look, one she wasn't used to from him; almost like seeing him naked.
Oh, please don't go there.
Slowly, she looked up and her mouth went dry. His beautiful hair was still wet from the shower and slicked back out of his face. The scruffy beard was still there, too; praise Jesus.
When she met his eye, there was a happy, curious expression on his face. He reached a muscled arm up and looked at his watch, asking "Am I late? I'm almost rea-"
"Nono, no. You aren't late." Cutting him off gently, she shook her head, "I just came to give you this," she held out a piece of paper to him, which he took with a raised brow. "And to say that, as much as I'd like to, I can't go with you. It's just... safer that way," She finished vaguely.
"Safer?"
She nodded definitively, trying to sound firm without getting specific, "Yes, safer. Too many things could go wrong."
"At Gamestop?" He smirked suspiciously.
George narrowed her eyes and thought about it for a moment. Of course, she'd meant 'on Supernatural' but she obviously couldn't tell him that so she nodded slowly, "Right… at Gamestop. Sure… I mean, they'll let any riff raff in there."
Sam looked down at the list of video game supplies, amused yet confused. When he looked back at her face he said, half smiling, "OK… well, not to sound full-of-myself, but I think I can handle any potential 'riff raff'."
"I-I know, I know!" She placed a fingertip on either side of her forehead and squeezed. Good lord. OK, just stay focused. Do. Not. Go. "I have no doubt that you're very willing and able to handle things." She eyed his large arms appreciatively and then cleared her throat, "It's just… um, you just never know what could happen-especially here," his eyebrow furrowed curiously at the emphasis, "er-I mean, at Gamestop. And if-God forbid-anything did happen and my presence somehow… negatively affected things… like your ability to protect Jack-er, uh..." The curiously amused expression he was giving her was causing her to stumble. She took another deep breath and refocused: "This is supposed to be a fun experience for Jack, right? I just think it's important that that's the focus. That list is everything you'll need for him to get set up. If they don't have the games I listed," she pointed to the list in his hands and he looked down at it again, "there are plenty of others that I'm sure the workers can recommend."
Sam started to talk and she caved, cutting him off again, "And-and if this is really something he wanted me to be part of-which I'm still dubious about-then, I'll be here when you guys get back! I can help get him set up and show him a few of the games. I don't mind that, I... guess," She finished with a small gulp. She knew it was best to stay away completely but she had a feeling it was a little too late now. "I just don't think leaving the bunker is a good idea. For me. Please." She finally met his eye and pleaded a little, "Sam, if anything happened to him or to-to you, I could never forgive myself." And neither would hundreds of thousands of fans.
Sam's expression was half curious, half amused, and all charmed. He thought for a moment, looked back down at the list, and then nodded slowly. His smile was kind as he said, "OK. If you feel that strongly about it, then stay."
"Thank you." She let out a relieved sigh, then grimaced a bit.
"You OK?" Sam asked with a concerned half-smile.
"I just… I know staying back is the right thing, but I feel bad." She admitted with a small shrug. "Do you really think Jack is going to be disappointed?"
Sam's eyes softened and he shrugged softly before turning and walking back into his room. As he picked up a green and black checkered plaid shirt that was laying on his bed and put it on, he said, "I think so, a little bit, but I can handle it. Not to worry." As he buttoned the shirt, he slipped his feet into his giant shoes.
He'd been about to say something about his personal disappointment at her staying-something he'd hoped would make her jaw drop adorably once again. But her eyes were roving his room with a pensive expression and it caused him to pause. He raised an eyebrow, watching her. Something about her had seemed vaguely familiar since he first saw her in that hallway. Yet, he still couldn't place her, which bothered him; it was unusual for him not to remember a name with a face. He had a great memory.
Is she someone we helped on a hunt? Maybe she went to Stanford? Did we… have a fling at some point? Nothing was jogging his memory, but he felt strangely, intimately drawn to her.
"George, can I ask… Ha-have we met before?" Narrowing his eyes in thought he added, "Did you go to Stanford? Maybe we shared a class?"
George looked at him like he was crazy, "Uh… er… Uh, see, I'm not-" As she stuttered out a response, he kicked himself.
She's from Apocalypse World! Moron. Obviously, it wasn't possible that they'd met before.
"Oh, god, I'm sorry. What a stupid question." Sam shook his head, chuckling in embarrassment. "You just… you look familiar, so I was just trying to figure out the connection," He trailed off, staring at her curiously again.
"Oh?" Was all she could muster, squirming uncomfortably under his gaze. She was horribly embarrassed to admit even to herself that she felt a strong pull from him, too. Something about him put her at ease while simultaneously making her want to burst into a million happy pieces and cover the world in a confetti of her joy and love. Hell, something about being here at all eased all her normal feelings of depression and unrest so wonderfully, she'd hardly put that much effort into tracking Rowena down at all, not that she'd admit that to anyone. But, obviously, the only reason she felt like this was just the amazement, the adventure, the celebrity of it all, and especially him. She knew there was no way in this universe they'd ever met; the last thing she needed was him taking an interest either way.
Swallowing any further conversation she might have been tempted to engage in, she began to step back from his doorway slowly but said quickly, "Yea, ya know, people tell me I have one of those faces. Anyway, tell Jack I'm really sorry and to have fun. I can come find you in a bit to see what ya'll come back with?" Just before turning and fleeing she said, "Oh, and make sure to get a couple extra controllers. Those are always the first to break, especially when you're just starting."
Before he could stop her, she left down the hallway and turned a corner. He almost went after her but then couldn't think of a valid reason. She wasn't coming and Jack was waiting for him. So, he grabbed his gun, collected the keys, and hoped it wouldn't be another three weeks before he saw her again.
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mor-beck-more-problems · a year ago
Text
Dead Things || Morgan & Kaden
@chasseurdeloup
Just two friends having a walk in the woods. Guest-starring Ashley the Zombie!
It surprised Morgan that Kaden would choose her to walk in the woods with to let off steam and vent safely. It seemed like the sort of thing to do with a girlfriend, but maybe Regan and her denial blinders were a little much for him just now. And for all the times Morgan had been driven to sign off on him with a ‘fuck you’ on her lips, she did consider them to be friends of a certain kind. He was kind at heart, kinder than he let on even to himself. He had his anger, which Morgan still couldn’t quite fit her head around, but if his life had been anything like Deirdre’s, he had plenty of reason to be. She’d wished he had suggested a place a little less spooky than the woods, but it wasn’t like she could enjoy anything from the counter at Coffee Plus. Morgan reached out with what senses she had and tried to remember the comfort they’d once given her. The sanctity of nature. Never judging, always open to her. The soft earth, ready to take her body back some day. Did it welcome them now? Did either of them know how to fit in a space as simple and open as this?
“Shucks, Kaden,” Morgan teased, “I didn’t think you’d ever ask me to meet you like this. If you’d given me more time I’d have made us BFF bracelets.” She elbowed him gently as they walked. “What’s been up with you?”
There had been a few moments of calm in Kaden’s life the past week. But something about it felt more ominous than comforting. Even though it was a new moon and it should be the calmest time of the month, something felt off. He couldn’t say what. Maybe he just wasn’t used to peace and quiet. Hell even most of his assignments had been normal. It was possible that was why he felt the need to lean into the weird of hanging out with a supernatural friend. Though, to be honest, he was short on non-supernatural friends at the moment. And no matter how many times him and Morgan went head to head over things, there was something, enough easy rhythm, especially when sharing the realities of having banshee girlfriends; a strange commonality and bond he never expected to have or share with anyone else. Leave it to White Crest.
The mention of friendship bracelets pierced through him as he thought of the stupid leather braclet on his wrist. His nose scrunched a little even though he tried to hide it. He hadn’t planned on bringing up Celeste. Or having to dwell on death for a moment. Hopefully she didn’t catch it, assumed it was an overreaction to her elbow. “Well I’d say a friendship bracelet with me is a death sentence but I guess that’s not a problem is it?” Putain. Fine. Just fucking lean into it. Why not? “I figured we could both use a non-carcass walk every now and then.” He gave a small shrug. “And nothing much. No clue what the fuck I’m doing with my life but I guess that’s just what White Crest does to you.”
“Wow. I was kidding, but I didn’t think you’d give me literal stink-eye,” Morgan said, rolling her eyes. “What, are you afraid the big bad world isn’t ready for us? Are you embarrassed to be seen with me?” She pretended to be scandalized, gasping and clutching her imaginary pearls, but she could feel herself skirting close to a kind of truth that lay between them. They couldn’t exactly gather round a foosball table with his hunter friends anymore than she could bring him to a movie night with Remmy and Skylar. Granted, her friends wouldn’t ever try to kill him, but that wasn’t a path she should be going down when they were supposed to be enjoying each other’s company critter-free. “I have no idea what you’re talking about,” she huffed. “Every walk I take is a carcass walk.” She turned to face him, tilting her head so far to one side it threatened to dislocate her neck. “If you have beef with the dead, you really came to the wrong zombie.” She smirked, her smile growing wider as she kept their pace along the path, backwards now. She righted her head and rolled her shoulders. That had helped with muscle strain before, right? “You’re too easy to mess with sometimes. But, I can be serious if you need to talk about big things. Life isn’t for having all the answers, though. It’s not a performance, you know? We learn things. We try. We--”
An animal roared in the distance. It didn’t sound like any creature Morgan knew, but what else could it be? She looked over at Kaden. Did he hear that too? She turned in the direction of the sound. Something was lumbering through the underbrush, something big.
Kaden let out a sigh through his throat. “Very funny. I’m just saying my quota of friendship bracelets from dead girls is officially one. Spot’s taken, you’re too late,” he said, elbowing her back. “So quit your dramatics.” If anyone was going to be okay joking about death, it was Morgan. He knew that much. Honestly, it was nice to have second that he wasn’t just fucking sad about it all. And it was only a second because he looked over to see her fucking head turned around like some kind of horror movie. “Putain de merde, do you have to do that?” His face scrunched in disgust as he turned it away from her. It definitely didn’t turn like that, thank god, but it wasn’t quite enough to avoid the fucking scene of her putitng her head right. His mind flashed to Bea’s head in a jar and if he didn’t feel sick before, he sure did now. “At least warn me before you do.” Yeah he knew that wasn't going to happen.
Unsurprisingly, she had a deep answer to his dumb question. Or he was pretty sure she would have it hadn’t stopped paying attention as soon as he heard a wail. Inhuman, for sure. His stomach dropped. Again. She wasn’t going to like this. At least not if his suspicions were correct. Without thinking, his hand reached back to the knife in his pocket and he positioned himself between her and the rustling in the foliage. Another roar and the creature broke through the bush. A decaying, hungry zombie, shambling towards them. He leapt to act. There was only one thing to do with a monster.
“I didn’t even break anything,” Morgan grumbled, pouting. “And isn’t it good for me to have a positive relationship with my new body? Don’t you want the best for me, Kaden?” But, honestly, it was probably a good thing he hadn’t become completely inured to how dead dead-bodies could be, especially hers. Positioning herself in proximity to human existence was a losing game, but for Kaden...maybe it was the best he could do right now. “I want the best for you too, obviously,” she added, more sincerely.
But the moment was shattered by the figure that leapt out from the underbrush. Morgan recognized her at once. She had only seen her ruined face a few days ago in the cemetery with Rio. “A-ashley--?” She moved forward, but Ashley’s face was too rotted and glazed with hunger to give any intelligible response. She groaned from somewhere deep in her hungry belly and shambled forward, one arm half raised with want. Animals didn’t last long on a dead stomach, even the feast they’d given her, but Stars, she’d hoped Ashley would have at least lasted longer once she was herself again. Her path was clear, but Morgan wasn’t going to go any easier on her now. “Ashley don’t--!” She jumped into her path, holding her by the shoulders and digging in her heels. But Morgan had fed too recently since the last time they’d met, and her muscles were quickly meeting their limit. “Kaden! Help me!” She cried.
There was no doubt in Kaden’s mind what was headed towards him was a monster. The decaying hungry zombie was nothing more than undead bones and decay searching for flesh and organs to tear into. His knife was ready and he was prepared to run in and take care of the situation before this became a problem when Morgan put herself in front of him and started speaking. Did she just say a name? “Wait, do you know that thing?” His stomach fell watching the shambling gaunt body. He wanted to pull Morgan away and just get this over with but she ran towards it and  put herself right in harm’s way. Sure, she was a zombie, too, but that didn’t mean she couldn’t get hurt ever. Putain.
He ran over and wanted to tear her from the threat but it was clear she was fighting her hardest to keep it at bay. Which didn’t exactly bode well. Kaden ran around behind the monster and grabbed its shoulders, pulling back. He’d have to find a way to cut off its head, a knife seemed impractical but it would have to d-- Before he could even consider that, the zombie rounded on him and lunged for his neck. Fuck. He raised his hand and threw a punch in its decaying face, trying to get it away from him. But it was fucking determined. His eyes went wide as he watched the teeth come closer and braced his arm to try and keep it away. Fuck fuck fuck.
“Her name is Ashley!” Morgan snapped. What had she been doing this whole time? Sure, the animal food she’d been given wasn’t going to last long, but she’d had time to hunt or buy or even steal something. Did she not know how? Did she not feel like she could? Morgan gripped the zombie tighter, wrestling against her brute force-- and then she whirled on Kaden, teeth bared.
“Don’t hurt him!” It was the stupidest thing she could’ve said. Ashley didn’t even have enough brain cells to string together who she was. There was no way anything like pleading was going to work right now. Morgan barreled into her from the side, sending them both sprawling to the ground. She pinned her to the forest floor by the shoulder, but Ashley roared and wrenched herself up before she could make her position any more secure. The flesh from Ashley’s arm came straight off and Morgan stared helplessly as the dead limb lay in her grasp. “Shit,” she hissed, scrambling back to her feet to follow the hungry zombie. She was making a beeline right for the hunter and Morgan wasn’t sure if she’d be able to tackle her in time if he didn’t move. “Kaden, get back!” she cried.
“Her what?!” Kaden yelled as he pushed his forearm into the monster’s neck. Putain, it didn’t matter what flesh the teeth connected with, just that they did. His stomach flipped furiously. The thought of being undead was far worse than the threat of death. He may be immune to werewolf bites, but zombies and vampires were still on the table. He could feel his pulse pounding in his chest. And fuck, he’d like it to keep fucking doing so. Desperately, Kaden took his knife and rammed it into the monster’s guts over and over, intestines and rotting flesh tumbling out of its side. It was barely holding itself together anymore but all the same, he was fucking panicking just a bit.
Before he knew it, the monster was thrown away from him by Morgan’s body. Okay. Alright, He had to find something to behead it with. Something more effective than a knife. Shoe lace? No, that would take too long. Morgan could only keep it at bay so long and he had a feeling she wasn’t about to try and kill her “friend.” “I thought you said not all zombies fucking knew each other,” he grumbled as he pulled his belt from his pants. Not great, but it would fucking do.”Mo--” Kaden was about to yell at her to get out of the way but he didn’t have to, the monster was lunging at him all the same. He didn’t listen to his friend and kicked out at the zombie and went to wrap the belt around its neck.
“I just fucking asked her!” Morgan was running as fast as her legs would take her. She could do this. Kaden was bound to have something to restrain Ashley with until they could get her food again. He could hunt her as many deer as she needed. She just needed to get the two of them apart long enough for him to understand what the plan was. She grabbed Ashley from behind, tugging her back as hard as she could by her shirt and wrestling an arm around her neck. “What part of ‘get back’ was hard for you?” She grunted at Kaden. “She’s just starving!” She dragged Ashley back several paces, grimacing as she wriggled and bit at her skin. Her grip loosened as Ashley took a deep chunk out of her arm, and it was all she could do to push the zombie off her feet as she stumbled free. “Give me that,” she said, pulling on the belt in his hands. “You need to run for some fresh deer, or brains, or--fuck!” She hit the ground hard. Ashely’s hand was around her leg, pulling her down with a strength Morgan couldn’t compete against with her humanity intact. “Kaden, what are you doing?”
Kaden really didn’t give a shit if this zombie was hungry or not, but Morgan sure did. And it was hindering him from doing his job. She seemed to insist that she knew this monster and it was very hard for him to care when all he saw were teeth coming towards him, hell bent on tearing into his flesh. “Deer?! You think deer are going to solve this?!” He was just about to solve this his way when Morgan yanked the belt away and he was once again without a way to take care of the problem quickly or easily. Putain. Morgan was down and while deep down he knew that the other zombie couldn’t really hurt her, he didn’t want to risk it. But he had no confidence that Morgan could keep the zombie contained on her own. Kaden reached over and pulled the zombie away from his friend. Or tried to. All he got was a fist full of flesh that had pulled off the bones. “She’s too far gone, Morgan.” The monster turned and hands wrapped around his arm as it pulled at him, teeth coming dangerously close once again. This time he was ready and had his knife braced against its neck. The closer it came to him, the more of its head he hoped he’d sever. It was hungry alright. Hopefully starving to death.
“I don’t know, maybe two of them?” Morgan wrestled with Ashley on the ground. It shouldn’t have been this hard to overpower a woman who was falling apart, but she was still fierce enough to knock Morgan’s bones out of place every time she thought she had the upper hand. And Kaden wasn’t running. Morgan didn’t know how to get it through his thick skull that what she needed wasn’t a rescue, but zombie tofu. “You’re too far gone,” she said through gritted teeth. “Just get her something--no!” Kaden’s knife glared in the twilight around them, slicing deep into Ashley’s neck. Morgan reached out for them from the ground with her broken arms. “Stop! She doesn’t know what she’s doing!” She popped them back into place and scrambled up. Ashley’s neck had been sawed away down to the bone, so fragile and bare for all her thrashing. No one should look like that, she thought. No one’s bones were meant to be bared that way, with rotten flesh staining the surface brown and dripping over the rounded ends. The body protected the bones. All of this was wrong… “Kaden, don’t!”
The knife cut deep into her neck and the stench that came from the rotting severed neck was enough to make him gag. Kaden held it back and kept pushing the knife through. It slid and slipped through what was left of the muscle and then the bone. The monster backed off and started to crumple away. One last whack with the knife and there would be no way for it to regenerate. He was about to do it when Morgan spoke up. All of the fear he felt before was burning away with anger. “No.” It was all he said before taking that final chop to her head, the tenuous connection between the body and it finally removed. All that was left was two piles of disgusting decay. It smelled like the reverse garden in the back of Regan’s apartment, maybe worse. Even before the head was gone, there wasn’t much keeping this together.
“We should burn what’s left.” He frankly didn’t give a shit if she was okay with that or not. Now that he had a moment, he couldn’t stop thinking about what Morgan had said earlier. All of it. “Just get her something, huh? Something to eat?” He could feel the impression of the knife handle pushing into his palm as he gripped it tighter. “Like what? Me?!” He was so close to getting bitten so many times and here she was concerned about a fucking monster. “You knew her, didn’t you? Met her before? You knew her name.” His voice raised louder every fucking sentence. He kicked a lump of decayed flesh away from his shoe. He wanted to kick the fucking corpse but he didn’t feel like trying his luck. “You knew she was like this and you let her--” There was so much he wanted to scream about that he couldn’t even pick where to fucking start. He threw the knife blad first into the ground, making sure it fucking sank in instead. “Morgan what the fuck?!”
“No!” The cry was barely a sound in Morgan’s dead throat as Kaden lobbed off the woman’s head. She stared, mute and trembling, at the remains of her body. All the magic that had been holding her together was gone. There were only masses of green and purple rot and the poor bones that couldn’t hold themselves together anymore. Kaden was yelling, but Morgan couldn’t hold on to any of his words for more than a few moments. “I--I met her once,” she said faintly. “I got her some food. I fed her. It was just...a stupid faun, and the butcher’s whole stock of brains and organs. She...she was scared. I think she was scared. But I don’t know why she didn’t…” Take care of herself. Feed herself. Come up with something better than roaming the woods. Morgan shuddered, thinking of how deep her pit had to be for her to choose living this way, to run away from people who wanted to help. “She ran away before I could do anything more.” Her eyes filled with tears as she finally looked at Kaden, teeming with his hunter rage. “I wasn’t going to let her hurt you. She wasn’t even trying to hurt you, she was just...I don’t know. She was lost, Kaden. Haven’t you ever been lost and stupid?”
“You could barely hold on to her! And your fucking help before led to this!” Kaden said, pointing that the pile of decomposed flesh and bones. “She wasn’t trying to hurt me, she was trying to eat me. I was fucking two seconds from getting bit. A couple of times.” A chill ran through him. There were few fates he could imagine that were worse than being undead. Morgan had adjusted or what-fucking-ever she wanted to call it, but it was the last thing he wanted for himself. And he wasn’t immune. He rolled the muscles of his shoulder blades back, trying to ground himself, pull back. “Lost and stupid was going to fucking kill me, Morgan. If I didn’t-- She was going to eat me. You fucking saw that, right? Putain, if I didn’t have hunter strength--” He gave a small shake of his head. He was so fucking sure she didn’t see it or didn’t care. “What if she came across someone who wasn’t us? What if-- She would have killed them. That’s not some ‘lost stupid’ mistake,” he spat out. “That would be murder. Fucking murder, Morgan. You fail at rehab with monsters and it ends in murder.” He took a deep breath and reached donw for his fucking knife. He wanted to just leave. “This isn’t some fucking game you get to play at.”  
“She is not a monster!” Morgan cried, her voice cracking in her stiff throat. “She was a person, Kaden. Not a ‘this’ or a thing or a--whatever else someone told you she is! She is like me, Kaden! She’s just as much of a person as me! It’s not her fault what her brain does to her when she’s starving, we don’t even know how much of a choice she had! And now we’re never going to because you couldn’t see past the end of your knife long enough to think of a better solution!” She pointed at the body, shaking her head furiously. He couldn’t even feel bad for her. He couldn’t even mourn what he’d taken away from the world. He couldn’t even see her. “That’s murder, Kaden. Not your hypothetical hunter crap. That.”
“That. Wasn’t a person. Not anymore. And it was going to kill me. I’m really glad to know a pile of rotten flesh is worth more to you than--” Kaden couldn’t even finish his sentence. It hurt too much to hear out loud. And he knew the fucking answer already. How often had he seen supernaturals value each other’s lives over human’s? It made him sick. Potential zombie life valued more than a living, breathing human. “There was no time for a better fucking solution. And your attempt at a better fucking solution however long ago your little intervention was clearly didn’t work. She ended up like this.” He was ready to walk away and be done. He was so fucking tired of being told he was wrong for fighting for human life.
“Yes, she was! Ashley was sick, Kaden! People get sick and say and do hurtful things when they’re sick all the time. And we don’t murder them for it, we put them in hospitals! And plenty of your people, your fucking humans do them stone cold sober!” Morgan backed away from Kaden, her insides crawling with disgust. He seemed to come so far and when they were joking around or having their heart to hearts everything between them could feel so nice. She always forgot that to him she was just an exception to a rule about creatures, worse than the dogs he wrangled up for his day job. “But, you know, good job. I’m sure it’ll make a great story to tell all the guys over a beer someday. You showed that starving girl who’s boss all by yourself. If you don’t mind, though, I’m gonna pass on whatever you have lined up next.”
“Sick? What the fuck, Morgan? Sick?!” Kaden was walking away when he heard that, but he turned on his heel to walk back to her. Were they even talking about the same fucking event anymore? Had she even been there just now? “A starving girl? Is that how you think of that?” he shouted pointing once again at the pile of decomp between them. “That was a zombie. Who was very fucking hellbent on eating me.” The more she spoke the clearer it was to him that she didn’t get it. That she saw no value to him or what he did, what had to happen, the reality of things. She had some rose colored zombie glasses or something, he couldn’t figure it out. “You know what, have fun on your walk with your friend there. Because it’s apparently not me. Hope she’s better fucking company. Considering she was higher on your fucking priority list.”
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grim-faux · a year ago
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17 - Prometheus Lies
More of the floor had fallen due to rot or fire higher up on the stairs.  I nearly missed it in my climb, I was still taking the steps as I flicked the nightvision on and stumbled upon the gaping tear.  It was a large jump and I had my doubts about being able to drag myself up on the other side, given the slick tile, but no other options were available. This time I made sure the camera was secure in its pack before I put my back against the cool plaster and steeled myself for the short sprint.  Focus on the leap, on footing, don’t hesitate—
I hit the edge of the floor with my middle and gagged, I couldn’t see in the shadows where I would collide with the splintered wood.  I recovered and was able to get my elbows under my chest and hoist up.  My chest ached, as did my bad arm, nothing new.  Had to keep going, couldn’t stop, never again. Soft glowing candles decorated the broken shelf across from me.  The usual message Follow the Blood was painted on the wall above them.  I leaned through the gate examining the closed in surroundings, a gate on my far left looked locked.  Probably was.  A lone battery had been left to me between the candles wax drippings.  I took it feeling very little gratitude to my ‘benefactor.’ It was like being given a brick in this place.  Or a flashlight.  Didn’t help much but to keep me going. I paused as I glanced to the darkened hall at my left.  I thought…could’ve been ‘Farther’ Martin.  But I didn’t linger to certify this, blood was marked to the dark hall ahead.  I adjusted my hand under the cameras strap and took my time, in no hurry and with no drive for my current objective.  I wasn’t certain where I was headed, only that I was in another one of the numerous and indistinct corridors.  In a room someplace nearby, someone was shrieking as though their skin was peeling off.  I shuddered, but felt no other sentiment toward the matter.  Too preoccupied with that tingling in the back of my skull.  I was anticipating the horror that awaited my presence but it never ceased to terrify me. Blood was brushed across the floor curving to the right.  Follow the Blood. However, there was still a stretch of corridor to check ahead.  It wasn’t worth the trip at any rate, the corpse of another patient with his head nearly twisted off his shoulders, the air rich with copper, and a door boarded up.   Disquieted, I returned to my marked path and found the floor there wrecked by the fire, a light hung from above enabled me to store my camera away.  I inched closer to the wall, the boards underfoot reduced to charcoal and dusted with white, creaked as I moved to the edge.  A door sat nestled in the wall on the left, with the faint traces of blood marked on its sides.  There was very little space to press my heels back onto, and maybe I just didn’t give a damn how dangerous this stunt was on the unstable remains of floor.  But it was my path and that was all my mind had locked onto.   The light overhead flickered occasionally, but its illumination remained steady.  As I inched along, a shirtless patient began to patrol on the floor below bumping into walls despite the light and smashing his fist against doors.  I grimaced as I moved, the path was not as stable as I had hoped and shifted under my weight.  I didn’t need to fall down there with him. When I was directly across from the door, I braced for impact and leapt, hitting the ledge and freezing when the splintered wood punched into my chest.  My coat absorbed most the impact, but I still lost my grip and slipped backwards.  I barely snagged the edge with my hands and dangled, below the patient sobbed something about his shadows, I really couldn’t jot it down.  The wood lamented my weight and creaked, I held on for dear life trying to decide what to do. It wasn’t really up for debate.  I growled between my teeth and pulled my body up as much as my arm would allow, then swung my leg up over the burnt timber.  I fit my heel onto a little notch that held my weight, enabling me to lift myself parallel with the side, until I could get my elbow over.  I scooted the rest of the way up until I had cleared the edge, and rolled far-far from it.  I had to pause and catch my breath and let my muscles a moment to loosen.  I felt the familiar spreading warmth in my backside.  Damn. Maybe next time I should just drop and run like a bitch. I jerked up when I caught a flash of static, light flooded the next room.  I regretted it and winced as my ribs pulsed.  Damn it.  I heard thunder and chalked it up to the fierce weather that raged on outside. The room was large but cluttered by all manner of bed and furniture, most stacked in the center as well as along the walls.  I paused when I cleared the doorway, the hair on the back of my neck stood on end.  It felt like someone was watching me, though I couldn’t – could not detect a physical presence of any sort.  The room was empty aside from me, and silent, the soft patter of rain outside hammered on the thick glass as my heart thudded in my chest.  The feeling wouldn’t leave and I was wary to travel further within the labyrinth of disorder, fearing something inhuman would lunge out at me and shriek as my brain erupted inside my skull. I moved towards an open area on my left, crouching low and peering over the confusion of beds and mattresses.  My battery was already getting low on power, I had to watch it and would probably need to change it soon anyway.  Nothing was on this side, the shadows the nightvision couldn’t penetrate revealed no hidden eyes, no shifting shapes.  Absolutely nothing living. I moved around the support pillar off center of the room, rising to my full height and slipped forward, ready to bolt at the first hint of movement. The floor shifted beneath me, I turned the camera down as the boards gave a horrendous groan and I fell.  My spine jolted between my muscles when I hit, and I twisted in a stunned mess on the floor.  Right in my ear something shrieked and I turned over in time to see that hazy form dart overhead, at the outskirts of the NV.  I rolled aside and crawled behind a pillar, before I peeked out to watch it glide out of sight. It was gone.  Whatever the fuck it was, it was gone.  It could come back.  I had no sick desire to move around too much and draw attention, but I was becoming aware of the small room I was in and its lack of doors.  And escape. I moved away from the pillar scouting the open area visible.  It was identical to the floor above, I’m sure, but less clutter, more boarded up doors and windows.  A few items had been abandoned, a table cart and some bed frames stacked.  I pressed my palm to the side of my head while examining the blocked double doors.  This was one of many I had passed in the burnt out corridors, either those that had been locked inside had escaped, or there was nothing here to begin with. On the floor around a sequence of stacked bed frames, lay rotted wood and masonry.  I lowered my arm to peer up the way the shape had flittered, and saw a large hole where the floor had collapsed.  Maybe patients had been trapped in here, and they found a way out? The NV was dimming, I had to stop and change that before I could secure the camera and climb up.  I was detecting a pattern here. It was nice to actually grip something smooth for a change rather than the splintered and rough floor surfaces of lately.  I hopped up to the ragged floor boards and pulled the camera up before climbing onto the floor.  The camera wasn’t necessary, light flittered through the murky windows, allowing my eyes to perceive some of the dark edges.  More beds discarded, empty of mattresses and patients.  I kept low as I slipped towards the obstructions, trying to see the odd flickers just beyond the perception of dark, lights that flashed behind my eyes without the storm.  That odd vibration in my muscle.  Maybe I just wanted the paranoia, maybe I wanted the delusions to be true.  It felt more real than my current predicament.  Most of all, I feared what I was thinking. I stopped when that churning sound occurred and felt myself quiver.  There was nothing, I told myself.  The room was empty as far as I could see, I was seeing things.  I wasn’t seeing things.   Or was I? It sounded like scratching, or subtly rubbing.  Over and over, in a constant rhythm until I wasn’t sure if I was still hearing it or if it was the sound in my ears.  I let it drone on and ignored it as I ventured around the thick pillar near the hole, and scanned the cameras visor for movement, eyes.  A lone wheelchair sat beside the gaping hole I had fallen in.  A few feet beyond it was a small connecting hall, with light cutting through the dark shapes I imagined shuffling around.  Blood had been splattered along the floorboards, I shut off the NV to confirm the crimson hue before pushing the next door open. Somehow this room seemed darker, the shadows pressing on the NV range and giving me a feel for claustrophobe I was not accustomed to.  I took a few tentative steps forward testing the depth of my view, the black veil gave and retreated as I pressed further into the room.  Beds upturned, blotched with dried blood.  Overturned desks and rushed shelf stacking; I took the open path along the wall at the left.  On one of the beds beneath a shattered window, boxes had been dumped, more scattered files lay about the crusty mattress.  I gave my perimeter a short glance before poking through what remained of the damp pages.  I pulled out one file with two names that seemed familiar, couldn’t remember where I might’ve read about them. (Excerpt from the diary of Shirley Pierce, Mount Massive Mental Hospital Patient, 1952-1964) How can I not remember where the cuts are coming from?  They hurt so deeply, even days later.  Doctor Newhouse tells me that it’s my fault, I’m subconsciously resisting the hypnotherapy.  But I want so much to get better, I don’t know how I could be doing this to myself, Dr. Newhouse says it’s another condition of my bedroom-inspired hysteria.  Poor Bruce, I make him suffer so. I’ve tried, subtly, to ask Mrs. Jackson if she’s had similar “issues” with her husband, but she is loathe to talk about it.  Her husband, too, has found comfort in a younger woman. I know the doctors mean well, and with the help of the government men who’ve joined the staff, I am in the very best hands possible.  I should just take my pills and sleep, and hope for more pleasant dreams tonight. I was unmoving for a time, unaware that I had been standing a full minute holding the side of my ear.  The date on the page.  That date barely came to me.  That was long ago.  Long-long ago.  I reread it a few times before it finally began to sink in.  God, I’m an idiot. Mount Massive was shut down in the early 70s.  Miles, you fuckin idiot.  How did I not see this sooner?  It was staring me right in the face.  Right in my face.  Murkoff came along and ‘reopened’ it.  What was I reading again? She was committed to the Asylum from 1950 to 1960, before Mount Massive was shut down.  But they were doing experiments before then.  I didn’t need to linger on the subject any longer. I lost my train of thought as I knelt beside the bed, staring at the page.  I was certain of what was in this note, but I couldn’t focus. Was that what the patients meant when they talked about sleep therapy?  I thought this over carefully, ignoring that buzz in my head.  The Whistleblower said ”Sleep therapy going too deep.” The experiments were happening before Murkoff came along, the government was involved before Murkoff commissioned Dr. Wernicke.  Was I just blocking this information out?  Everything that was started here.  Could this go any deeper?  The Hypnotic transgression to alter individuals thought patterns, and the Project named Walrider for those side effects?  It seemed to lock together, yet the same old holes remained in my theories.  Murkoff never started this.   I took a deep breath and let it out slowly.  One mass hallucination.  Nothing more.  And I was buried deep in the center of it seeing what the patients saw, feeling what they felt.  For them it was real, and for me it felt real.  Too real. I lowered the camera and pressed my forehead into my palm.  A massive hallucination.  That was all it was.  But… hallucinations didn’t tear people to pieces.  Had I really seen the MHS cops murdered?  I was drugged at the time, my recollection wasn’t the most credible. I stood off the bed and continued around the room, passing between stacked beds and mattresses.  They must’ve been storing all this away when Project Walrider took its wrong turn, they butchered up most the patients and needed to put they vacant beds someplace.  What a grotesque thought. Even though some of them did NEED to die, they were still human beings.  I think.  I had no idea what the female patients were like, aside from the one transgender I had come across.  I hadn’t had the privilege thus yet to run screaming from a woman.  I’m such a man. Another small connecting hall appeared to my left, but the door that would lead to the next room was blocked by something large and unmovable.  I couldn’t budge it with my weight and gave up to resume my path to the front of the room. The sunken outline of smashed out double doors loomed ahead, and a corridor beyond that.  I hastened my steps, but jerked to a halt when that dark shape drifted by.  I recorded that - I SAW THAT!  That was no hallucination!  NO!  You can’t tell me I didn’t see that! I backpedaled around the corner, until I toppled backwards over a table cart and lay staring up.  That buzzing in my head was getting obnoxious.  If I didn’t think about it, it would dissipate somewhat, but it was there at the back of my mind scratching at my thoughts. I sat the camera on my chest and pulled up the most recent recorded file and played back the last few minutes. Yes!  A clear shot between frames, as it was at the center of the door.  I stared at the image trying to make sense of what I was looking at.  It looked….almost skeletal and corporal, at the same time.  Like black dust, or a statue carved from obsidian.  I could almost describe it as beautiful, if my mind were not so fractured. Time to go.  I pulled my legs off the overturned cart and stood.  It was going to the right, maybe I should try the left.   The hall extended a distance and took another left.  Double doors sat in the corridor to my right, but as with many doors they had been boarded up tight.  I blinked as I turned, and felt a searing blaze of light behind my eyes as though I’d been hit.  I didn’t understand it, I knelt to my knees and waited for the pain to subside, it didn’t actually hurt.  Felt like the memory of a hard punch, like when Trager beat me out of the dumbwaiter, I was shaking all over again and my breath came labored. Anxiety attack.  Just an anxiety attack.  Not shock, just relax, deep breaths, get it under control Miles.  I was in a bad place for this, I was totally exposed and if a patient happened upon me I would be done for.  Get it together, deep breaths, rhythmic breathing.  My chest felt like it wanted to splint open, and I dropped the camera beside me as I fell over.  The dust tickled my nose but I kept trying to drag myself back into focus, my left leg went numb.  Just anxiety, not shock, not heart attack.  I’d know if I was having a heart attack. The pain in my head died somewhat and the feeling slowly returned to my leg.  Good, good.  Get up and move, walk it off. I fumbled in the dark for my camera and picked it up.  I half expected a face to be staring right in the visor, it was almost a shock that there was none.  I pushed myself up and resumed walking. Chairs, broken beds stacked, more doors tempting but going nowhere.  On the wall there was the occasional dark arrow, still seeping with the fresh lines of its making.  I took another left, coming to realize I was going in a circle if this route endured.  Some open double doors, at least I was still headed somewhere, and apparently I could not have gone in the wrong direction.  A few feet away the flicker of candles caught my attention, yes, I was going the right way.  Though I think I could’ve come the other way, and still reached this place. This door would still be here when I came back, the blood stained arrows were still running thick lines down the plaster.  The door left ajar, inviting me. It could wait.  I crept slowly down the corridor, always aware the thing could be at any turn and suddenly spring from nowhere as though from thin air.  The hall took a right and a ways down I could see light, wavering from an open door. Inside was the mother load of files.  Shelves stuffed with boxes, and binders full of notes.  Boxes stacked around the room, many had been torn to pieces, some still had scraps of folders and pages littered everywhere.  None of them looked complete, exerts from Frankentein’s Monster, and more letters from family to patients and vice versa.  Some of the pages I handled felt brittle and were yellowed with age, a few dates on letters read as far back as 1950.  On the wall was a cross painted in blood and the familiar word in bold LIE The red was fresh, it still trickled down around where a trash chute was set into the wall.  My shoes squeaked on the tile as I checked down the opening, then proceeded to go through the boxes. “I recognize the handwriting.  Father Martin killed a man here.  Are the “LIES” he’s talking about all the files missing from these boxes?  The facts?  The records?  They look like government agency material, at least thirty years old, probably older.  I start thinking MKULTRA, CIA.  Mind Control.  The buzzing won’t stop.” There was a file about patients claiming to see a Dr. Wernicke in their dreams, though they had never known a man by that name.  There was a file of one individual that screamed so much his tongue and throat had swollen, and he had perished.  Another about a violent individual that had eventually died from blood loss when he had worn the skin from his fingers away, and tore his entire face off. I started feeling sick, I wanted to stop and sit down, rest a moment.  But I couldn’t.  There was no telling what lay ahead, everything was coming together now.  Or maybe it was the feeling I was having about this place, the hallucinations.  The whispers. I returned to the marks on the wall, the door left ajar encouraging my progress.  As I moved forward to push it open, someone shut it from the other side.  I drew my hand back.  Was the door now locked?  No, it couldn’t be, this was where I was supposed to go. That just sounded insane. I took the handle, it turned easily in my mutilated hand, and I pushed the door open just a bit.  My movement wasn’t unheard by the occupants of the room, and I cued in on soft foot falls just before they entered the range of the nightvision. The twins! I slammed the door shut and pulled the little cart with the candles on it and put it between the door and I.  Why I did this, I’m not sure.  I took a few steps back as the door opened and the first twin gave the small cart a baffled look before he scooted it aside with his machete. I took the hall I had first come down, through the double doors and paused to look back.  The twins stepped into the hall, glancing one way then the other.  I crept behind the corner and watched, they couldn’t see me I was certain but they knew I was here, or someone was here.  The candlelight, they might have seen me standing in the doorway! One twin began down the opposite hall, while the other turned and moved in my direction.  They were going to corner me like they tried in the caged hall, but this time there was no window for me to use to get around them. They were counting on me coming this way, with no other option but to follow the Priests blood trails.  This didn’t hardly seem fair, but I wouldn’t get a word in edge wise if I was caught.  I might still beat them back to the other room, but it didn’t change the fact I had to get by them to that door and with the two of them patrolling, it was only a matter of time before I was caught. I ducked aside when the twin reached the open double doors.  I needed a way to get around them, someplace to hide and double back. The stacked beds I passed.  I dropped down and scooted under them until my shoulder was to the wall.  My camera was getting low on power again, damn.  Why now? I held still as the bare foot falls grew louder with each step.  I shut the camera off and tucked it into jacket, gritting my teeth hard when the fibers caught on the remains of my index finger.  At least the bone was exposed only on that finger, the camera and loop somewhat protected it in my travel.  I shut my eyes and focused on the sound of the brittle wood as the twin stalked past.  Couldn’t see me, couldn’t know I was here.  I exhaled a low breath when his steps faded down the hall, and I began a count once I could hear them no longer. One-one thousand.  Two-one thousand.  Three one-thousand.  I was still counting as I slid out from under the bed and moved towards the door, and the candle light.  Four one-thousand.  Six one-thousand.  A sharp pain filled my skull as the candlelight clashed with the NV.  Couldn’t pause.  Keep moving.  Eight one-thousand.  Nine one-thousand. The door to the room was left open, I could barely make out the extending edges through the failing nightvision.  I entered and flung the door shut, all the time keeping by the wall and straining to pick up early warning I heavily relied on.  I couldn’t gamble that the other twin was unaware of my intentions, and would still be out to corner me off at his brother.  With the door shut I was more likely to hear of their return. Now it was impossible to see through the visor, I had to fumble and get the batteries switched out before proceeding.  It was another room identical to the previous ones I cut through, the few items of furniture scattered about, broken night stands, beds along the far wall.  I crept around the thick pillars, wary of what might be lurking. A door to the side of the room was jammed in its frame, another on the opposite side gave false hope.  Through the window I could see broken wood and the dusty tile on the floor far below.  I tried the handle out of habit, locked.  It didn’t matter, there was no visible way to climb down.  I pressed my palm to my head, the stress caught up to me as the revelation hit.  I could easily die if the twins returned this moment, and I had still not gotten my shit together.  Keep moving, keep moving.  Where didn’t I check yet?  It was obvious enough. The back of the room?  I moved close to the wall and the windows.  It sounded like the storm had lessened for a short while, but boards nailed against the wall made it impossible for the meager amount of light through.  The joining corridor was on the right side, and the door beyond open.  Boards had been torn away allowing chunks of light through, enough to pick out the jagged floor where the fire had eaten through the wood.   The wood protested my weight but the structure seemed stable enough for my weight, at least where the damage was not as sever.  Each gap of ruined floor was a distant, I couldn’t tell from a glance what sections were solid enough.  I tried not to think of it either. I sprang forward clearing the gap easily, the floor creaked under me and I tottered as wood snapped and clattered somewhere below.  Needed to stay sharp, none of this floor was stable.  For now it held. I crossed to the corner where the fire had done ‘less’ damage, and maneuvered around a bed as the wood groaned, warning its lack of patience with my weight.  The wall beside me had burnt out, leaving the skeletal remains of the framework within.  I leaned against it certain I saw something at the edge of my vision, something there without the NV.  There was comfort in my dependence of the camera, a trick of the light.  A voice reverberated from the floor below and I moved the camera over the demolished room, seeking its source. A bright beam flashed over me and I met eyes with ‘Father’ Martin.  “Only God needs be so mysterious.  Be patient, hold faith.”  As he spoke he turned away, looking across the edge of a gap of where he stood upon.  I couldn’t be sure, but I doubted he was speaking to me.   I moved on, reinforcing my resolve.  I needed to get out of this area, with the twins geared to hunt me down.  They wouldn’t hesitate to gut me on the spot, and I felt in my deepest fears that they wouldn’t kill me before they went to work.   Shuddering, I edged myself onto a thin path that ran flush with the wall, I had very little room for my feet but the edge felt stable enough.  The ruined timber moaned as the structure shifted under the malicious storm, it sounded like the whole place could topple at a wrong move, yet still it stood.  I used the NV to make sure that I was scraping onto a solid surface, the charcoal was black and blended with the shadows.  The floors center between the support pillars was still intact, not a big surprise.  Another break in the floor separated me from the next door, by a distance I was leery to attempt jumping, but I was certain that I had leapt farther previously this evening.  There was no easier way over. Lamps undamaged by the fire gleamed down, revealing the tile floor of the room below.  I focused on the door trimmed by light, wide open and inviting with only the ominous abyss of dark beyond.  I would have a moment to gather myself before I pushed resumed.  The floor didn’t seem stable enough on my island, I shuffled near the edge and tested the thin boards.  It made quite a bit of noise, but it felt solid.  Maybe made from a different wood, from whatever comprised the asylums charred sections?  I clicked off the NV and put some distance between myself and the edge, then dashed forward and threw myself out over the fissure. I hit the other side with more force than anticipated, the wind gushed out of my lungs and my arms hit the boards.  Hard.  I didn’t have a chance to inhale, my body began to slip backwards.  I panicked and slung the camera out of my grip a safe distance and braced my hands and elbows against the splintered wood, sweat trickled into the corner of my eye obscuring my sight.  I think I might’ve snapped a rib. It sounded like it.  Or was that the floor creaking against my weight?  As I pulled myself up, the board snapped and I fell catching the next piece with my hands.  A streak of light flashed through my eyes as my ragged finger tips locked into the timber.   The whole floor was falling! I clambered up, kicking and clawing for a stable grip, and finally got my torso over the edge in time to witness— My camera!   My camera was skidding backwards, off the slanting floor!  No!  I shuffled along trying to reach it before it fell.  Visions of it hitting the black tile, dashed into a million pieces of plastic and metal.  All my evidence!  My only source of light in this shit hole!  I reached, scratching it with my remaining fingertips as it tipped, then flipped jolly like over the edge.   Down, down, and down it went.  Everything in slow motion as I was stuck up here, watching it get smaller and smaller, the further it descended.  Any minute now, a millions pieces scattered everywhere.  You wouldn’t be able to tell what it was in the first place.  Scattered to the far corners.  I’d never be able to find them all and put it back together. But it didn’t scatter.  I watched as it bumped against a board, and held my breath, right before it hit the other side of the floor above a thin black hole.  Then, vanished into the dark abyss.  I reached for it.  I could still feel it in my hands, solid and comforting.  This couldn’t be happening.  It was in one piece but it was gone.  Fuck!  Why didn’t I secure it?  Why didn’t I remember to protect the damn thing?  It was gone forever and I was the one to blame.  Fucking idiot, Miles!  Your life is over!  The damn camera was the only thing keeping you— The floor whined as the boards gave out, and a piece clattered hollowly in the open room.  I shifted, dragging myself up just as I saw the door to a room below swing open and a dark figure creep into view.  Shit! Another panel snapped away before I had latched onto the next, and I was hanging by my hands snarling as hot needles pulsed through my fingertips.  GET UP THERE MILES!  I clawed my way up as the floor crumbled out from under me.  I dug my fingers into what I could reach and braced myself, launching forward as everything under my feet snapped free.  I was running on literal open air as the ground dissolved under me, I dove into the awaiting doorway and locked my hands on the frame as I spun about, to witness the last of the floor break away.  I took a few deep breaths, and gazed at the open door with light pouring through.  No evidence of the prowler below, I’m not sure if it was a twin or someone else hunting me. I was still shaking when I turned to the dark corridor awaiting my trespass.  I had become so dependent on the camera, the total blackness was like a wall I could never pierce with my conviction.  Memories of those inexperienced cavers returned to my thoughts, how they had been lost for days before they succumb to hunger and thirst. How do you get lost in a cave?  The darkness is disorienting, and even when you feel you must be turned in the right direction, it is impossible to be sure.  You can run in circles for days before you realize you’ve been in a room of nine by nine. I didn’t stand a chance navigating the dark totally blind, while the patients strolled about, conditioned to the dark halls that was their world.  Aside from all the evidence I could not afford to lose.  It would be better if I died trying to find it, rather die getting beaten to death by something I couldn’t identify. The ruined floor echoed a strange sound as the wood settled, almost like the shriek of a dying man.  I pondered it, as I pondered how to go about locating my camera.  I reviewed my recent progress through the asylum, deducing if I returned the way I came I would not be able to access the floor below where the camera should be.  That was not considering the twins, I didn’t doubt they were still hoping to stumble upon me in that section of the hall.  I wiped some sweat from my eyes, and recoiled at the blood soaking my palm. Oh god! After scrapping some of the fresh blood from my hands, I picked my way down what remained of the floor.  At least ‘if’ I returned, I could still climb up easily.  Small miracles.  There was no sign of the creeper, this made me uneasy.  He could as easily have been a spy for Father Martin, as he could have been one of the violent lunatics that’s only purpose was to shatter skulls.  He had to have come from somewhere, I doubt he came from the floor above or had a way up there.   This was all speculation, I had no reason to believe there was a way to access the lower floor through here.  I planned to turn back if it became too dangerous, or if there was no visible way to progress.  I don’t know which way I preferred more. The room was dim, light pouring through broken windows offered miniscule guidance, cutting dark lines over the beds and furniture that looked jammed into the space.  I heard no sound, nothing to indicate a living body present.  The path on my left was packed high with bed frames, to my right was a space I could slip through.  I didn’t want to attempt climbing over anything unless I absolutely had to, my hands were shaking against my sides.  They felt hollow and light without my camera.    A flash of lightening pulsed from the windows, I crouched down when I though there was a shape peering over the shelves on my right, but it was already gone before my eyes adjusted.  It felt like the ringing was getting louder, maybe my heart thudding harder in my chest.  I crept along listening to the sound, trying to blot it out with thoughts of the mountains.  How calm the night had seen before the storm.  I climbed over a bed and scanned the front of the room as it brightened with a blaze from the windows. Shadows raced back into place as the light died, I thought eyes were staring back at me but I didn’t have the NV of the camera.  Couldn’t be anything there.  Just the noise in my head making me feel like there was something that should be there, but couldn’t be. My camera.  Think about that for a bit.  Where would it be?  Fell through the floorboards, would be on the floor below here if it didn’t shatter into a million pieces.  My quest seemed lost, everything I had been through, everything that I had witnessed was on that camera.  I would go completely insane, and they’d find my body with my last words scrawled into the notebook and they’ll scratch their heads, no clue of what the hell happened here.  What horrors were witnessed. The camera will be there, in one piece, because I will it to be so.  With my fuckin mind! Bed frames and shelves.  They filled the gaps on either side of me as I moved towards another set of open doors.  It amazed me how comforting furniture could be in a place like this.  It looked like the doors had been blown apart, I couldn’t find where the other had fallen.  A sound startled me, the clatter of timber as something came down hard on the floor above.  I knelt down and listened to the noises of footfalls overhead, silt trickled down getting into my eye.   I blinked it out then checked beyond the doorframe, a soft whimper wheezed out of me at the black veil that greeted me.  I would get lost forever and die of hunger, or get beaten to death by someone in the dark.  By a shape in the dark. My spirits were lifted when the frail light spilled from a crack in the wall.  I crawled to it, on my hands and knees, and peered inside hearing water running from somewhere.  Another shower room.  Lockers had been torn from the walls and stacked in odd areas, some were left along the floor.  I tested the stability of the plaster that blocked me, and found I could tear the chunks out.  Enough that I could easily slip myself under. I entered and stood up and made my way along the side of the room that was open, and into the shadows that devoured my form.  I used my less torn up left hand and set my fingers on the wall feeling where I was going and tried not to get turned around, but my fears were unfounded, the wall gave way to the other side of the washroom and a light blazed from the ceiling. I checked a few of the stalls that would open, confirming there was no one hiding, nothing to surprise me.  The drum of the water intermingled with the buzzing in my head, my body quivered despite how dry the top layer of my coat had become.  It was bone quaking trembles, stemming from my muscles.  I needed to shut the water off, stop the insistent white noise.  I tried to figure out how to work the faucet, but the valve was snapped and spun uselessly in my grip. Beneath the spout was a tear in the floor, the wood exposed under the tile and something under that.  I went to the next stall over, the door taken somewhere left the access open for full view.  Inside was a large hole to the level below, and where my camera must be. I dropped down onto a plank of wood, and felt the hollow vibrations of lockers through my feet.  For a moment I listened and waited, that had been loud.  The drum of water above enveloped my senses, I few droplets of icy water splattered my neck.  Along the ceiling the thick pipes transporting the water crossed, thick calcite had formed along edges where water seeped.  Rather wait and confirm my isolation I crawled down onto the next floor. It was a sizable closet to store supplies and some furniture.  Everything had been dragged out into halls and used to board up doors, it was empty but for the lockers gathered into the center of the room.  I walked around it before I located the door, it was a relief to escape the consistent sound rattling my mind.  I gave no consideration to someone waiting outside, how reckless I was being.  I didn’t care.  I peeked out into the dark hall. The edges of a broken bed came into focus, the light from the closet didn’t tread far but the glow of another lamp did reach around a corner some distance away.  It was impossible to tell with the wall of black.  I opted to follow the light for now, until I needed to get lost in the dark.  I’d save that as last option if I could.  The hall that cut right was too bright for comfort, I lingered by the wall briefly, the light didn’t extended far.  Beyond the shadows bars were stacked, or bed frames, silhouetted against soft light a large window.  I really wanted to know that lights origins. I climbed over a broken bed frame and listened, as the crackle of thunder and the flash of static illuminated a figure darting across the room far ahead.  It looked like he had some destination in mind, but I wouldn’t just stand at the edge of the shadows and wait for him to come this way.  Couldn’t be certain of what I saw, I wasn’t confident in the stability of my mental faculty. A door boarded up on my left thudded as something hit it, or fought to get through.  I picked up the pace before they could get through while I was there.  Those boards had held all through the shit storm, there was no reason for them to give now. Light pulsed through the bars of the beds stacked at the end of a hall, cutting me off from the room.  But I was certain the figure I’d seen had been there as well.  A hall was to my left with light spilling like cold silver between the bars of a gate.  It was too far up out of sight, I couldn’t see where the light filtered down from. I hesitate when I thought there was a voice, or someone mumbling.  I listened, trying to get past the ringing in my own head.  The silence without the constant drum of rain on windows to drown out my thoughts, made the walls vibrate with a resonance of silence that was almost as thunderous as the sound of clatter.  No longer could I hear the voice, but it was probably my paranoia diluting my senses.  I was on high alert and couldn’t shut myself out. As I neared the corner, leaning forward— A man lunged out at me snaring my neck and bad shoulder.  I gave half a yelp as the air was cut off in my throat, the man yelled in my face and shook me.  My vision buzzed with static as he applied pressure, I couldn’t decide which was hurting worse.  The blood flow had been severely hindered by his grip on my neck and my ears started ringing.  I slapped my hands down over his elbows and struggled to pull his arms off, get them unlocked as he pushed forward nearly causing me to topple.  When I fell it would be all over, I wouldn’t have the leverage to throw him off.  I didn’t have it now. When I reached my limit, I knew I couldn’t take much more of this, I dropped to my back on the hard tile and somersault backwards.  The patient, placing all his weight against me fell forward.  I jammed my foot into his stomach and propelled him along as he tumbled over me.  Weak and stunned, I rolled aside not prepared for what would come next.  I only heard the man climb to his feet and dart off screaming about the coming and Billy.  That went well… I coughed into the floor until my throat reformed, the cold and dusty air of the Asylum a welcomed return. I was still rubbing the soreness out of my neck as I CAUTIOUSLY ventured into the next room.  I felt the walls as I went, making sure I wasn’t missing any doors that could lead to the room my camera was in.  I had no idea where it might have fallen, I would just go through the rooms I could find and then go into more detailed search once I was comfortable with the layout. The patients spent all of their time in this place, skulking through the dark, hiding in the shadows.  No wonder they could track me in the dead black.  With no other option, they had adapted to this way of life.  A scary thought. A wild blaze burned through the room, and for a brief moment I could see figures, men shaped.  One crouched on a table holding bars, fully focused on the world outside, a far away world.  I slunk forward, the second one seemed to be staring across the room directly at me but made no action.  I kept along the side of a bar, or some sort of countertop on the opposite side of the room.  I lost track of the other figure that had been in here, but as the windows pulsed with storm I located a door to the side of the room.   I lurched back and dropped to my side when something flashed in my vision, what exactly I couldn’t be sure.  But I felt nothing, no punishing blow and heard no sound of feet.  I couldn’t even be certain I had seen anything to frighten me, only that I had fallen on my side and felt the warm spot on my back.  I just wanted my camera.  It didn’t matter if I made it out alive, I just wanted my camera back. I crawled pathetically through the double doors that awaited, there was one tall window at the end of corridor, but the oppressive shadows huddled at the very breath of its light.  It appeared to be the connecting hall, where I saw the figure dart through.  I lifted to my feet and held my arms out, unable to see an inch in front of me.  I kept on my toes ready to run at the sound of movement, anything that indicated I was not alone.  I didn’t feel alone, but I couldn’t believe I would miss another living presence in the small space I now occupied.  The concept that this was an error of my thought, terrified me.  I was probably not alone, just kidding myself again. I took a shallow breath as I felt around the edges of another door, a lamp from outside glistened off the metal bars of shelves.  I blinked, and saw red, blood vessels in my eyes as the storm blazed.  My breath was labored and dots evaporated at my vision, contrasting with the shadows.  I blinked but I still couldn’t see. I moved around the shelves trying not to linger long in the light.  Another doorway opened in my path, on the other side windows cut long shapes on the tiled floor.  I crouched down and put my face just far enough past the opening to see what lay ahead, but was met with the invading veil of black.  I thought I heard movement, a voice, but as I bided my time and listened trying to perceive what my eyes failed to, it felt like my mind was playing tricks on me again. Something glint in the corner of my eye, and I drew back to spin on it but saw nothing.  Just the beads of the metal shelves as the light hit their sides.  I took a deep breath, I was shaking badly and my head pounded with the soft prattle of rain.  Or was that the humming in my bones?  Why’d I keep thinking of these things? I forced myself to leave the doorway and scoot away from the wall, into the indiscriminate shadows.  It was some sort of commune room with tables bolted to the floor.  Maybe the patients cafeteria, or some sort of indoor recreational area?  Being in this room right now unsettled me, like being in an orphanage after some sort of catastrophe killed all the children there.  Almost the same difference, if you considered the less violent patients.  Just mentally wrong, and locked away from their families that might’ve been trying to do the right thing for them. The cold seeped through my coat, I had not nearly dried out yet, even so it just seemed to burrow into everything.  It was getting darker as I moved from the windows, into areas of boarded up doors and the suppressive veil tightening over my shoulders.  I slipped over a broken counter, a frame with glittering glass sat before metal slats for trays.  This might’ve been the patients cafeteria, or where medicines was dispensed.  It was the same thing, wasn’t it? I saw something in the furthest distance flicker against the black wall.  I paused to stare and barely believed my eyes.  I blinked.  Was it possible?  On that table beside a large cooking pot? I let out a small whine, it was!  My camera!  Right there, not no more than a few feet away. Okay Miles, keep it together.  There’s the camera, don’t go running over there and tripping and tearing your fingers open again. But…My camera!  I edged towards it, pushing my senses into the wall of black, working to determine if there was anything I could stumble over, anything left lying in my path.  Something clattered to the floor, echoing off the walls in the next room.  I had no idea what that was from.  Might have been the floor above, the broken room my camera fell from still settling in my absence.   I could sense movement.  I couldn’t be sure if this was my paranoia or the unnatural state this room was in, where I was accompanied by a threat.  The big fucker?  I wouldn’t know until I picked up the camera, and by then it might be too late.  It sounded like something was being smashed on hollow metal, or someone was trying to flush something out. I dithered for a moment, debating what I should do. It was getting me nowhere, so I continued forward trying not to imagine what was beyond the black lurking at the edges of my senses.  I was distracted in my elation, finally the comfort of the camera back in my hands.  But I had not reached it yet, I was still vulnerable.  Too vulnerable.  Keep calm, deep breaths.  I was shaking, the nerves in my muscles buzzing into my mind.  Get the camera, it’d clear things up for me. I began to pick up on something else as well.  The typical rot of the asylum, of old bodies left to decompose into the carpet and wood, which was constant in the back of my mind.  But I was sure I smelt the patients.  Don’t think I’m being weird, you can go fuck yourself – but, it was that musty smell they had.  The baked on sweat, filthy clothing and the disregard for hygiene they shared, with this place going to hell.  It was the smell of something alive, and it was getting stronger. I put my hands on the pale light of the desk, where the NV poured out of the visor.  I couldn’t quiet my breathing, I had to get the camera and turn it, locate what it was in the dark.  My hands quaked on the cool wood, and I shuffled around to the backside and set my hands over my camera.   It was like reuniting with an old friend that I thought was lost forever.  Such a strong feeling for an inanimate object, but it still brought tears to my eyes.  I gently picked it up and fitted my ruined finger under the strap, then fixed the visor; it had been jarred before it dropped through the floor.  Slowly, I brought it to my eyes, reveling in the familiarity of seeing the distorted green hue of my surroundings.  The buzzing in my head was thunderous now, and I slowly turned from a solid wall on my right, to the large room revealed through the visor.
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furymint · 2 years ago
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misfit. getting out of bed too soon, insisting they feel much better, and collapsing / passing out.   Because I’m a sucker for this trope
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wc: 992 | rest prompts
L'selle smacked the bottom of the hammock, flinging Rothe's legs up towards the berthdeck ceiling. "Poor bugger," he spat, shaking his head. The tips of his ears dragged across the wood as he circled the seasick wayfarer. "Two suns on a ship o' this size and you go dead man on me. I'd take your share of grub if it wasn't its own punishment to swallow."
Rothe opened his eyes to madness. The waves sloshed beyond all sense, constant and brutal, pelting the sides of the ship without order. His ears rung with the shriek of the pulleys, and his lungs seized under the musty, humid air of the cabin. People hauled crates from somewhere aft to revert the deck into a haphazard common area. The haze of morning seemed as impenetrable as as the thick taste of salt that lingered on his teeth.
L'selle continued. "You keep where you are, then you can start counting the seconds it takes for the rest to wrap you in that sheet and stow you in the orlop. Less jumpy there."
Rothe covered his eyes and moaned. "The hell is that? Aught's better than here, you bastard."
L'selle stomped his feet. "So far below as you can go without crossin' waves. Might spy some barnacles yet though, so don't hold your breath until it's scuttle-check time."
"You say this nonsense on purpose."
"Glad you noticed. Now get up afore you're tarred; I know you got the cards to know what that one means."
The hammock strained against Rothe's weight as he leaned to the side to free himself. It creaked, adding to the incessant complaints of the ship, and he hated himself for contributing to the same racket that tortured him. His body rebelled, but he forced it from the clinging tarp.
The ceiling beam clipped his forehead as he dropped the yalm to the floor. L'selle, lucky enough to have the very limit of height to stand unperturbed, watched Rothe writhe up from the floor and throw his hand out for help.
L'selle reeled him up, patted him on the back, and watched him hit his head and sink back to the dark floorboards.
"You're a bad case, bucko. Let's get you up top."
"Yeah, yeah." Rothe struggled back to his feet. His socks skid against the layer of oily brine, and as he hobbled for his shoes, a bottle rolled into his ankle. He stared.
"Ain't mine," L'selle shrugged. He tore down the hammock, bundled it with the rest, and moved to support Rothe to the ladder.
The sky was cerulean above. Covering their eyes from the scathing glare, they tumbled into a cover of fresh spray. Water rained across the deck in unpredictable spurts. People tramped about, adjusting tack and lines, shouting over the winds. Despite pressure from the elites, uniforms had fallen quickly from favor; Alliance and Resistance members worked independent of direct orders to keep the peace. Maelstrom ship or not, more than red-clad hands were needed to sail it, and desperation was the best advocate for fellowship.
Besides, it took at least five Ala Mhigans to tell the full story of their goal--not because they each had variations of the tale, but because no one (especially a Gridanian) would believe a ghost city of lights and steam existed a week's journey off the coast. To hear them tell it, salt pillars gated any ship from entering, but lost and sea-turned sailors could wash through the bars at night, and find themselves in the company of knowledge unmet by the years. The granite floor tiles were separated by a grout made of polished gold, and chimeras of every beast and make would trudge passively by, unjudging. A monk even trained amongst the gardens, where trees bore fruit year-long with the calm silence of the grave.
It sounded Allagan-y enough to check out. If naught else, they could claim it was a team-building exercise.
Rothe navigated to the rails, rubbed spots of water from his face, and apologized for the trouble with the same mix of revolt and gratitude he'd shown towards the bag of "chakra rocks" L'selle gifted him a year back.
"I heard you didn't see my tomato growing in the seaman's quarter when you visited," L'selle said, leaning his back into the rail. His head tilted back to the sky, but he kept his gaze trained on Rothe. "Bet you'd've liked it."
"One of your bird friends probably up and carried the first bulb on it off."
"Then what?"
"It took the tomato back to its mates, and squaked about how some dude just left it on a shanty rooftop when it's much more useful in his belly."
"Damn. Bird must've spent too much time on the shore of Thanalan. Any brain's like to rot when all they see is sand and barely a ratio of water against it."
The blue-gray waves hurled across the horizon, hiding the final consistent thing in the world behind the sea's tyranny.
Rothe inhaled and stood taller. "And what's a brain do when there ain't any sand?"
"Drown," L'selle said simply. "But you're right about the tomato. Food's only worth something when it's eaten. You gonna join me to lock up the cook or not? We can use the biscuits he turns out as bricks, and the gravy like mortar, and build a hovel for him like that with the promise of some cooking sherry. I read it in a book once."
Rothe wheezed. "What else your reading teach you?"
L'selle frowned. He was static as chaos incarnate swirled behind him, and he blinked as yet more spray hit him on the back of his head. His lips puckered in thought. Then, severely, he moved from the railing, confident in the value of his life knowledge. With a grave pause, he said, "That you're a little bitch" and took off down the deck.
Rothe screamed and sprinted after him. As he leapt over storage crates and shoved through crowds, his body seemed his own again, and the pitch of the water seemed to be in his blood, ardent.
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its-the-g-tea-babey · 2 years ago
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Joker Asserts Dominance Over Banjo
It was a wild day at the Smash Mansion. It had been revealed that Terry Bogard would be making his way to Smash Bros, Banjo and Kazooie had finally arrived, and even SANS (from Undertale) was here! It was exciting for the fellow fighters to meet Sans, along with Banjo and his Bird friend. Everyone was crowded around the bear and bird duo, along with the skeleton.
Everyone except for Joker, that is.
As much as he wanted to meet Sans (he was a big fan of Undertale), he was scanning the scene with an air of dismay. He was almost certain he had been replaced by Banjo and his bitchy bird (who was not unlike Morgana), as they crowded around him and bombarded him with questions about his hometown now that Gruntilda wasn’t terrorizing Spiral Mountain anymore.
He secretly yearned to be at the spotlight, savoring his extremely extra and flashy moments as a Phantom Thief. But with Banjo being a cultural icon, it wasn’t very likely that he would be getting the spotlight soon.
Actually, scratch that.
Make it never.
He would never be popular ever again. He frowned as he gazed longingly at the other fighters, wishing they would notice he wasn’t there. But they wouldn’t. They wouldn’t notice him. Not over Banjo. He glared at the pudgy bear as his saddened frown turned into a rage-filled grimace. That bear, the one that took all his friends from him and left him to rot.
Damn him.
Damn him to the darkest, most sin filled pits of hell.
Hey, wait a minute.
Sin.
Joker’s eyes widened as the back of his mind made a plan. A devious plan to get rid of Banjo and Kazooie once and for all. A smirk split across his lips as his tongue licked and covered them with saliva. “I know what to do…” The Phantom Thief muttered devilishly as he slunk further into the shadows, planning on hatching his wicked plan very, very soon. “You better enjoy your time here, scuzz-fur and bird brain, for it’ll be very short.” He chuckled ominously as he disappeared from view.
***
It had been three days since Banjo, Kazooie, and Sans had come to stay at the Smash Mansion. It had been eventful, to say the least. The child fighters always fought over who would get to fight Banjo next, Pit would always be next to Sans, cracking terrible angel-themed puns (which Sans himself highly approved of) and Fox was surprisingly the only one to wonder where the actual hell Joker went. The vulpine pilot brought this up at the lunch table while talking to Palutena, Olimar, Kirby, and Ganondorf.
Palutena made a face like she left the oven on at her home as she realized that Joker was gone for the span of three days and she never noticed. “I don’t think he’s in trouble, he can take care of himself. He did kill a god, after all.” She said, despite the immense guilt and worry seeping into her words.
“You don’t sound so sure of that Palu.” Fox replied.
Kirby piped up. “You think he ran away cause he thought we didn’t love him anymore?”
McCloud’s ears flattened against his skull as remorse flooded his senses. “Considering his past, it’s very possible.” He said sadly.
“And the fact we’ve been basically latching onto Banjo and Kazooie doesn’t make it any better.” Ganondorf pointed out.
“You’re right, though I wish you weren’t…” Olimar, who had stayed silent the whole time they were talking, decided to put his piece onto the puzzle and help them in what way he could by throwing his input out there.
They all decided to put all their efforts into finding Joker and convincing him that he was still loved and wanted in the Smash Mansion.
***
“Where do you think he’ll be at 5:30?” Joker’s voice questioned.
“I dunno. Probably the garden.” Sans shrugged.
“Great! You just have to walk up to him, start up a conversation, tell him that there’s a fighter he never met, bring him to me, and bingo! Considering your charisma, quick wits, and his stupidity, there’s a 100% guarantee this’ll all work out!” Joker shot up from his seat and clapped his hands, fully knowing Banjo and Kazooie were going to get what they deserved very soon.
“Hehe. The funniest thing about this plan is that it’s not really a lie. There really is a fighter he never met, due to you hiding yourself so well.” Sans chuckled dryly.
Joker shrugged and nodded his head in agreement before sitting down once more. He looked at the clock. It was 5:27. He smiled broadly as he turned to his bony accomplice. “It’s time!” He beamed. “Sans, you must go to the garden!”
The skeleton winked at his Phantom Thief friend as he got up and started to walk out before turning his head towards Joker quizitivly. “What do you plan to do with them once you have them, kiddo?” He asked.
His beaming smile turned into a sadistic smirk as his eyes narrowed in an almost lusty way. “Something very, very wicked, my bony friend!”
Sans snorted loudly. “Okay. You do you kiddo. But i’m watching.” The skeleton had the final say as he left the room with an objective in mind for once.
***
It was bright and sunny when the bear Banjo and his bird friend Kazooie (who was tucked away in his backpack) strode into the garden to look at the flowers and cool his mind. He had been there for a few minutes when he heard the sound of someone walking towards him. He turned around to see Sans strolling on the path, while absentmindedly looking around, until setting his eyes on Banjo and waving to get his attention.
Banjo waved back and hopped over to the skeleton. “Lovely day, isn’t, Sans?” He cheerily called out. Sans shrugged his trademark shrug. “Yeah, I could guess so.” He replied. “Guessing is all you can do with that thick skull of yours, hollow-head!” Kazooie crowed. Banjo slapped the breegull on the back while muttering a hushed “Kazooie!” reprimandingly and looked up. “I’m very sorry about that, Sans.” He apologized profusely. Sans shrugged once again. “Nah, it’s nothin kid. Besides, I need you to come with me. Apparently there’s one fighter we somehow never met. I was shocked myself when I first met him. He’s a real piece of work, that’s what I say.”
Banjo’s shocked expression turned into one of excitement. “Well where is he, Sans?” The bear asked. The skeleton chuckled. “He’s somewhere in the back halls. Here, i’ll take you to him.” Banjo nodded swiftly and excitedly as he walked behind Sans, who showed them the way.
Sans snickered silently as he led the way to, unknowingly to Banjo and Kazooie, their doom.
Mission accomplished.
***
The door to the storage room opened as Sans walked into it with Banjo and Kazooie behind him. The group looked around the place in confusion as they wondered where this missing fighter actually was. Sans scratched his head, despite how impossible it may seem. “Huh. That’s strange. I thought he would be here.”
“Why would he be in a storage closet?” Kazooie piped up. Sans said nothing as he used his telekinesis to shut and lock the door, much to Banjo and Kazooie’s surprise. Banjo turned over to Sans while Kazooie flew out of the bag and attempted in vain to open the door. “S-Sans! What are you doing!” He gasped out.
“Helping me, worm-face!” A mysterious voice boomed. The lights went brighter, enough to reveal the mysterious figure, a teenager with a coal black ankle-length tailcoat, along with a dark gray high-necked waistcoat, that was embellished with shimmering gold accents, ink-colored pants, brownish-black shoes with pointed tips, a pair of  bright red gloves, a black and white birdlike domino mask which drew attention to his eyes, which were blood red and almost glowing. The boy grinned as he descended from the top of the shelf, crimson eyes shimmering evily.
“Hey! Who are you?” Kazooie squawked loudly, obviously angry at being betrayed by Sans. The masked teenager smirked. “The name’s Ren. Ren Amamiya. But to all, I am known as Joker, the Phantom, the Trickster, and, hell, some even know me as Akira Kurusu, although Akira Kurusu is actually my middle name.” He cleared his throat. “But enough with that, I shall soon have my revenge, so you don’t need to hear my life story.”
Banjo tilted his head. “Revenge? On us? Why?” He asked in confusion. Joker shook his head. “Ever since you came here, nobody has talked to me, or even noticed that I was gone! Before you came along, I was loved and cherished by all! You stole everything from me!” He started to quiver with rage, and jealous, anger filled tears began to grow in his eyes as he lost more and more of his composure and began to be driven more and more by his own hatred. “And you’ll pay!” He growled. “You’ll pay for everything!” He snarled as he lunged straight for Banjo, whose eyes were wide and scared, and gripped him by his arms, claw-like fingers drawing blood from the frightened bear, eyes wide, insane, and flickering from blood red to silvery gray.
Kazooie then leapt onto Joker and started pecking at his hair, to which the phantom released Banjo and started scratching and clawing furiously at the freegull before finally hitting her hardly in the chest and watching her fly from his head to the ground in a crumpled mess. “Banjo…” She coughed weakly. “G-get out of here now…” Banjo shook his head and tried to run over to Kazooie, but tripped and fell over a bone which Sans conjured. The skeleton walked over and tied up the bear securely, so that he couldn’t escape while Joker did the same for Kazooie. The phantom thief crouched next to Kazooie and grinned. “I’m going to enjoy this a lot.” He taunted. Kazooie grimaced. “What are you going to do, scum-bag?” Joker brightened up, despite just being insulted. “This.” He said right before grabbing Kazooie and licking her beak. The breegull squawked in disgust as Joker licked her a second time before putting her head inside his mouth. Kazooie cawed and crowed as she attempted to escape Joker’s maw, but to no avail as Joker continued to swallow her whole until she was fully in his stomach chamber, making sure to remove the ropes binding the bird. Joker licked his lips and patted his bulging stomach contently, whereas Banjo looked the fighter in fear, for he had just watched Kazooie get eaten alive, by a teenage boy, no less! Banjo’s eyes widened and he gulped as Joker set his sights on the bear and started to walk in his direction. The phantom crouched, his distended belly sticking out. He tilted Banjo’s head up to his eye level. “You’re gonna be with her soon, so don’t worry about a thing.”
“Kinky.” Sans commented as Joker loosened the ropes on Banjo so that he could eat him easier. Joker then licked his nose, before putting his face inside his mouth and gulping and, despite the bear’s struggling, managed to swallow him whole as well. He fell to the floor huffing and puffing after he found out he was too heavy to move. Despite this, Joker was being washed over by a wave of euphoria that wasn’t about to end any time soon. He rubbed at his own stomach, not understanding why the hell he was so happy about it, but then it hit him: Banjo and Kazooie were at his mercy. If he decided not to lift a finger, they would both be converted into pudge on his figure, and he liked that. A whole fucking lot. Perhaps, he thought, perhaps he would try this on someone else. Maybe that meddlesome assist trophy Waluigi would be an ideal next target, for he was very, very annoying. Maybe.
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just-imagine-1 · 3 years ago
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Take a Shot
****
Fandom: Supernatural
Summary: Y/N set out on a case which turned out to be something far bigger than expected, thus putting her life in danger.
Pairing: Sam x Reader x Dean (platonic)
Warnings: Violence, blood, angst
Notes: Female reader, and also this imagine was written for @supernatural-jackles #Weekly Writing Challenge and I used the writing prompt “Just breathe, okay?”
****
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You kicked down the rotting door, the aged hinges popping off effortlessly. A werewolf stood merely feet from you, launching itself towards you upon your entrance. Your instincts setting in, you raised your gun and aimed a shot at the monster. The silver bullet made a home deep within the werewolf’s chest, their eyes glossing over as their gazed permanently settled on the moldy ceiling. One down, two to go.
You crept down the hall of the abandoned ranch, wishing only for the case to be over, the sooner you could rid the town of the werewolves, the sooner you could return to Sam and Dean. The brothers’ strict orders for you to stay put at the hotel while they go question more witnesses didn’t sit well with you. After they left, you gathered your hunting gear and set out in search of the werewolves who had been slowly picking off the town’s citizens for the last two weeks. So there you were, scouring a werewolf infested and abandoned ranch, despite their wishes.
Concern for your safety wasn’t something you deeply considered. Something you took a high amount of pride in was your hunting skills. On multiple occasions your expertise in hunting was made perfectly clear, capable of completing even the toughest of cases while flying solo, the help of other hunters being, overall, unnecessary. The Winchesters were far too aware of that fact, and in no way shape or form doubted you or your skills. However this time around, the brothers suspected that there was something larger going on and not just the average, run-of-the-mill werewolf case. It wasn’t that you doubted them, but any information or proof that there actually was something larger going on had yet to present itself. There was no evidence to support Sam and Dean’s claim, which was the main reason why you went it search of the werewolves’ den.
As you slowly trodden down a dim hallway, your step prompted a creak from one of the floor boards, in turn causing you to flinch. Merely seconds later voices could be heard from the room ahead of you, and you scrambled into another dark hallway, holding your breath. You froze, cautious as to not make a sound as the voices gradually grew, becoming more distinct as they trailed footsteps along with them.
“I’m not wrong Jill, I heard something.” One voice, deep and oily, reverberated across the halls.
“Ned, we live in an abandoned house, it’s old and has seen much better days. There’s going to be noises, so quit worrying. Besides, everything smells the same, no one’s here.” The second voice, significantly higher, lead you to believe the other was female. You were also grateful your tactic was working, having rolled around in the muddy grass before approaching the ranch.
A grunt reached your ears, sounding far closer than what you cared for, before the footsteps began to retreat. You prepared yourself to ambush them, to catch them by surprise. It was now or never.
With a deep breath, you leapt out from behind your corner, plunging a silver knife into a man’s chest, Ned, watching him collapse with labored breathes as the green glow of his eyes slowly bled away from his irises. The female werewolf, Jill, was caught off guard, her horrified gaze locked onto the corpse, but quickly broke her trance as you raised your gun. In one swift movement, Jill launched herself at you, sending the two of you tumbling to the floor as your gun and knife skidded out of your reach.
Jill pinned you to the floor and bared her fangs, her rage fixated solely on you. She dove for the exposed skin on your neck, and you just barely managed to rip your arms from her iron grip, putting at least some distance between yourself and the monster’s wicked teeth. While, you dodged that bullet, you certainly weren’t as lucky the next round as Jill shredded any part of you that she could grasp. Her claws tore up your face and chest and arms with a dark, almost fervent fury. Pain licked every inch of your upper half as your cried out, thrashing under the werewolf in the growing pool of your blood. The reality of death crystallized before you, prompting a boost of adrenaline which turned out to be exactly what you needed.
With one powerful concentrated blow to Jill’s stomach, she was flung from atop of your bloody figure, giving you the two seconds necessary for your to locate your gun. Jill vaulted herself to her feet, but before she could finish what she started, a silver bullet planted itself in her brain, and Jill crumpled to the hard wooden floor.
Panting, you slumped against the moldy wall, blood seeping from your many wounds as a faint lightheaded feeling crept into your consciousness. The threat of bleeding out loomed before you, the need to tent to your injuries now becoming an exigency. Freeing your limbs from your sweatshirt was a challenge, the fabric of the clothing sticking to your bloody wounds. After that, you tore away parts of your sweatshirt before gingerly wrapping the cloth around your arms, chest, and torso. Your body ached horrifically, your one desire being to allow sleep to envelop you in its boundless, dark void of tranquility. However, you knew that if you permitted such things, there was the possibility of not returning from your slumber. What you needed was to complete the case, then you could find a hospital.
You clambered to your feet, biting your tongue to prevent your body’s pained protests. With your willpower quickly depleting, you staggered on down the hall. But, the moment you entered the room, a strange and chilling sensation washed over you before you were thrown across the room. You crashed into the wall with an agonizing cry, prompting more blood to ooze and pool from your injuries as agony rippled across your body.
Your vision became faulty as the room spun, going in and out of focus as a dark figure came into view. You blinked multiple times, willing your sight to focus, but your strength was too diminished to make a move to defend yourself. Soon, the mystery person became clear enough to make out that they were a woman, dressed in a midnight blue dress that clashed dramatically with their snowy white hair. The woman ducked to your level, a chilling intense power radiating from her.
“You know, I thought you would’ve caught on quicker.” She placed a soft hand under your head, gingerly tilting your head up to meet her gaze, her icy eyes encapsulating your stare. Despite the woman’s seemingly caring actions, she examined you like a broken object rather than a person. You wanted to slap the woman’s hands away, her touch sending electricity crackling down your spine, and not the good kind of electricity. However, your body failed you due to the combination of blood loss and your gradually depleting energy. If you didn’t tend to your injuries, you knew a slumber would overcome you, one you would cease to wake from this time.
“Who... who are you?” You choked out, your throat growing dry.
The woman let out a light, amused chuckle. “Who am I? Now that’s the interesting part.” She released you from her grasp, leaving you sprawled upon the floor in a gradually increasing pool of blood, your blood to be precise. She got to her feet and walked over to a dreary looking table, but her icy eyes never left your broken form for even a second.
“Not to avoid the subject, but you and those Winchesters have been the talk of all Heaven and Hell lately.”
The woman’s statement didn’t catch you by surprise, but it certainly issued a flicker of confusion. You knew that you were fairly popular on the supernatural scale, but you failed to see why that was of import in your current situation.
In response to your puzzlement, the woman chuckled and continued her seemly pointless small talk as she began to place various ingredients into a bowl on the rickety table. “You were there every step of the way. First with John Winchester and Azazel, then with the Gates of Hell, and then there was Dean’s little Lazarus deal and that rogue angel that adores him. Oh, and I almost forgot—the Apocalypse, of all things!”
“What—“ A hacking cough forced you to cease your speech, the faint coppery taste stinging the back of your throat, but you continued despite that. “What does that have to do with you?”
The woman shrugged, “Nothing, really,” Then her lips curled into an ominous grin, “but it certainly has grasped my attention.”
She returned to her work and cast her hands over the bowl, her icy eyes disappearing behind her eyelids. After a moment, the woman began to voice a short incantation in Latin. You attempted to translate her words, but you failed to do so, the spell the woman was reciting being of a more ancient Latin language. Then, without warning a grayish blue cloud of smoke consumed your crippled figure, a cool yet soothing sensation washing over you and cleansing your body of the agony and fatigue as well as the blood that once pooled around you. You felt up and down your body as the smoke faded, and sure enough your injuries ceased to exist. Almost as if your near death experience was simply a bad dream. You snapped your head up at the woman, who you assumed was a witch.
“Why did you heal me?” You asked tentatively, cautiously climbing to your feet.
“Oh it certainly wasn’t my original intention. My plans were to dispose of you after.... Well that’s not of import. After a moments contemplation, I decided to use you. You see, I’m not the average studier of witchcraft, nor the average monster, as you would put it.” The witch stepped out from behind the small table, beginning a leisurely pace in your direction. “For me to thrive, there comes certain necessities, a host being among those necessities. Sure, an ordinary person would suffice, but give it time, and soon said person would begin to rot, which is rather atrocious.” The woman then locked an eerie gaze on you, chilling you to the bone. “However, some hosts are stronger than others, therefore lasting longer. So you can see why that would be the more preferable option.”
The woman halted her approach, leaving a fair amount of space between the two of you. Then, with a sudden flick of her wrist, you were pitched against the wall, nonexistent bindings tethering you to the splintering wood.
“And you....” The woman sauntered up to your wriggling figure, tracing a finger over your jawline gingerly, “you’re one of the strongest I’ve come across in decades.”
Her words lit a sparke of panic in your chest, but you refuse to let it show.
“Who are you?” You repeated your question from earlier, attempting to buy yourself a little time, praying for Sam and Dean to figure out where you were.
“Call me Estelle.” The witch’s pale blue eyes glittered wickedly as a malicious grin curled up her lips.
Suddenly a bang reverberated through the room, Estelle staggering to the side to reveal the Winchester brothers, who stood in the doorway, Dean in the front with his gun fixated of the witch.
“Get away from her, bitch.” Dean snarled, the brother entering the room in an attempt to reach you. However, it ended up a failed attempt as Estelle raised a hand and clenched it into a fist, Sam and Dean freezing in place.
Estelle chuckled, finally righting herself with her head held high as she pulled the bullet from her abdomen. “Kudos for the attempt, but witch-killing bullets don’t affect me.”
“Who the hell are you.” Sam scowled while visibly tensing up, his attempts to move obviously failing.
“My, my—that is the question of the day, isn’t it? Well boys, as much as I’d be thrilled to chat over a cup of tea, I’m a busy woman, I’ve got things to do, places to be. You know how it is.” Estelle sent a wink at the men before striding up to you, grasping your jaw tightly, determination flashing in her icy eyes.
“Y/N! Don’t you touch her!” Dean flared up, but still his body betrayed him and refused to move even the slightest as Sam mirrored his brother’s actions, but meeting the same outcome.
Estelle unhinged her jaw in an almost snake like movement, and you thrashed around as a whisp of gray smoke emerged from Estelle’s throat and shoved its way down yours. The sensation was sickening, you could feel the smoke slithering down your throat and settling in your chest, burning your lungs and choking the air out of you. Suddenly, Estelle’s body, or rather a stranger’s body, collapsed to the floor as you, Sam and Dean were released from your invisible bonds, surprising you as the stranger started to shift back to their old appearance, mouse brown hair, tan skin and green eyes.
You slunk down to the floor, your breathing picking up a rapid pace as the brothers scrambled over to your trembling form.
“Y/N, just breathe, okay? Just breath, we’re here, we got you.” Sam gingerly took your hands in his as Dean crouched by your side with concerned looks.
However, their concern quickly faded to panic as your skin gradually grew paler. You frantically tore your hands from their grip, starring at them in terror.
“What’s happening to me?” You cried out as your body began to shift into a familiar appearance, the experience excruciating, almost as if every atom of your being was being shredded apart and realined into a new person. You screamed and howled in agony, thrashing drastically until your vision went dark, the last thing you saw being Sam and Dean starring at you in horror.
***3rd Person P.O.V.***
The boys regarded your writhing form in horror as your skin grew sickly pale in color, your hair stretching out to waist length and morphed from its original color to a snowy white. Then, as your eyes shifted to a tint of icy blue, you ceased your struggle and a chilling tranquility washed over your features.
“Y/N?” Dean questioned, your voice hesitantly slipping past his lips.
Estelle slowly shifted her focus on the eldest Winchester, a cold and sinister smirk tugging at her lips.
“Sorry darling, but Y/N’s gone.” The witch flicked her wrists, sending the brothers tumbling back onto the creaky floor. Fury flared in their eyes as they gazed up at Estelle, the witch climbing to her feet. She did a quick once over of her new host, a new sense of power radiating from her figure. Estelle raised her hands, peering at them in a sick satisfaction.
And with a morbid smile, she glanced at Sam and Dean with a horrifying intensity, “I can get used to this.”
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junryou · 4 years ago
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TLoU [au] | bandages //
{ reblog, do not repost }
“We’re going to have to sneak around. There’s too many to take on.”
Adrien watched as Mari ducked back down. Her perception was unmatched and had helped them avoid some pretty nasty situations already. He nodded and asked,
“Do you remember the way to the rendezvous point?” “Kind of. It’s been a while since we were in that zone.”
Mari’s brows knit together, eyes apparently darting through her thoughts. Adrien waited. Without a word, his companion rose to a crouch and began to creep through the shadows. Rotting office furniture littered the room. Papers covered in spread sheets melded with the foul, moldy carpet. Muffled banter bounced off the toppled filing cabinets—the Hunters were lamenting not seeing a “tourist” for weeks. Adrien took great care in his steps. The last thing he wanted was those men discovering these two tourists.
*SKREEEAK THUD*
The boy froze. He looked ahead of him. Mari’s shoelace had caught on an overturned roller-chair, causing her to trip forward. Four, no, five voices reacted to the sound. In an instant, Adrien was at Mari’s side, hands slipping the caught lace out of the clutches of the chair’s wheel.
“It came from over here!”
Beams of light flicked over the desks, casting erratic shadows on the nearby wall.
“Yeah, I heard it.”
As quickly as the flashlights darted, so did Mari, with Adrien right on her heels. The two sidled through a doorway into a back office. A flutter of relief rose in Adrien’s chest: There was a window! His hope crashed as soon as they reached it, though. That’s right… they were on the second floor.
“See anything?” “Naw.” “I’ll check the back. You flank.”
A soft jab in his ribs directed Adrien’s attention to his companion. She gestured to a car just below the window. How far down was that still?
“Hey man, there’s some footprints on these papers.” “So?” “They’re small-size. Not ours.”
Adrien cursed the dampness of this place, wriggling his foot into the floor. He glanced at Mari. Her eyes were wide and the force at which she bit her lip looked painful.
“What?” he mouthed. “No latch.” she returned.
Anxiety welled in his chest when his eyes confirmed her words. They couldn’t sneak out of here. The voices were too close to the door now. No way they’d be missed. In a smooth motion, Adrien released the lead pipe from his pack. Before Mari could protest, he pushed her aside and swung through the window pane. A cacophony followed. Shattered glass clinking on the car below. Hunters yelling. A desk being knocked into as they zeroed in.
“Found ‘em!”
A gangly dude in a wool hat emerged through the office’s doorway.
“Hey kiddos.” He leered at them, making Adrien’s stomach churn. Those eyes were as dead as a Runner’s.
“Go!” Adrien rounded on Mari, propelling her through the window. She replied with a curt yelp, tumbling to the car below with a metallic thud. Adrien gripped the window frame, prepared to leap, and winced at the sudden pressure around his arm.
“No ya’ don’t!”
The beanie-guy yanked Adrien from the sill. Only then did he notice what was in the Hunter’s other hand. Eyes froze on the studded bat. Nails rusted with blood. Without hesitation, he dropped. The abrupt shift in weight threw off the Hunter’s balance, allowing Adrien to break free of his grip. Just as the other Hunters reached the room, he leapt through the window.
The impact made his knees ache, but he ignored it. A flash of red caught his attention. Mari! Scrambling from the roof of the car, he sprinted after her. Taunts and exasperated cries rang out above them, not left behind fast enough.
=
Hours later and the duo made it to the city outskirts. Moonlight poured over a little shack Mari lead them to. Its tin-covered walls shone, at least in the spots not covered in rust… The roof was ramshackle, and ivy hid whatever wood might have been visible at one time. To Adrien, though, it was beautiful. After racing through the dingy brick-and-mortar city, this little place felt wonderful. Mari had told him about the times she and her group would meet up here. Swap food, plan raids, dream about better times… if those truly existed.
Mari waved at him to wait. He thought he saw something flash on her arm, but he nodded and hunkered down by the bushes. In a blink, his companion slunk around the shack. Ah. Checking the perimeter. He scolded himself and made a mental note to follow Mari’s example better. He looked up to see her emerge from the other side of the building. A thumbs-up encouraged him to her side.
“Help me lift this.”
She gestured to a large, flat plank covering a hole in the wall. He wouldn’t have noticed it had she not said anything—the ivy blended it into the wall. Slipping his hands underneath the wood, he glimpsed Mari’s arm again as they slid the “door” away. He grimaced.
Musk and old growth hit his senses when they crawled in through the hole. As his eyes adjusted to the dimness of the shack, Adrien could make out shelves lined with supplies. Dappled moonlight lay across a ratty mattress in the corner, alongside piles of clothes and moth-eaten blankets. Mari peeled her pack off her shoulders and set it next to the mattress. She plopped down with a ragged sigh. Adrien glanced back at the shelves, grabbed a roll of gauze from a med-kit, and shrugged his off his satchel. He joined Mari, who gave him a quizzical look.
“Let me see your arm.” “Ah…”
She looked down at the torn shirt sleeve and the shards of glass peeking out from it. Her face paled. It seemed as if she had just noticed it. Adrien gave her a sympathetic gaze and reached out his hand. Mari stared at him, not moving. The distrust in her eyes poked at his heart. Why? He retracted his hand.
“Sorry… uh, here?”
He offered the bandages instead. Mari still didn’t move.
“You pushed me.” “I— what?” “Back there. You pushed me out the window.”
Adrien sat there dumbfounded. She was blaming him for saving her?
“I got us out, didn’t I?” “That’s not my point.” “I’m sorry, did you want to be caught sneaking instead?” “No! Again, not my point.” “…okay?” “Why did you push me? I’m very capable of jumping.” “You are.” “Then. Why. Did. You. Push. Me.”
At this point, Mari’s face had regained its flush, and her brows cast a displeased shadow. Adrien’s gaze fell. Why did he?
“I… panicked.”
Plain and simple. Or was it? His words felt tinged with falsehood. Sure, the instinct to get out of harm’s way was strong, but was it the only reason? Adrien looked back up at Mari. The confusion on his face must have been apparent to her—the furrow in her brow eased slightly. He looked down again, feeling his face heat up in embarrassment and guilt.
“I wanted to get you out of there. Fast. I’m sorry… for pushing you.”
His words tumbled out faster than his brain could catch up. The silence that met him stagnated the air. He couldn’t even look up. It was his fault Mari got hurt after all… He was about to apologize again when her arm came into his line of sight. Adrien peeked at the owner’s face. It wore a forgiving smile. His heart twinged again but different this time… more pleasant, if that was possible? He gently took her arm and set the bandages aside. With the greatest care, he removed the bits of glass and peeled back her ragged sleeve. Dried blood and scabbing came with it, making Mari draw in a sharp breath. Adrien dug through his pack for a little bottle of alcohol.
“This will sting. Are you ready?”
Mari nodded, sucking her lips in. Adrien poured a small stream over the gashes. Her arm tensed, then relaxed as he dabbed it dry. He leaned in for a closer look, worrying whether or not some of the larger cuts needed extra care.
“What is it?” Mari asked. “Do you have thread, by any chance? I think this one needs stitches.” “It’s that bad?”
She bent forward, trying to get a better look too. The sudden proximity of her face let Adrien discover her freckles for the first time. She leaned back again and muttered,
“Just stick a couple butterflies across it. There should be some in my first-aid kit.” “Alright.”
Adrien rummaged through her pack, unlatched the white box, and found the little strips. He was actually relieved. The idea of sewing her up left him feeling a bit nauseous. After applying the butterflies, he began to wrap her arm.
“Thanks, Adrien.”
Her voice coaxed him to look up, mid-wrap. Gratitude replaced her look of distrust from earlier. He allowed himself to show her a small smile, then went back to securing the gauze. As soon as he finished, Mari brushed the dead leaves and dust off the mattress and flopped down. Adrien listened to her heave a sigh-turned-yawn. He echoed it. Guess there was truth to that saying about yawning being contagious. He grabbed and shook out one of the nicer blankets lying around and threw it over Mari before curling up on the mattress himself.
The stress of the day caught up to him. Exhaustion crept over his limbs and through his body. His eyelids felt like magnets. Just as Adrien began to slip into the realm of dreams, he felt a warmth at his back. Mari. Her back was a small comfort in this weary, bloody world, but a very welcome one. For a moment, a memory of his father played in his head. A big hand stroking his back, calming him to sleep… His voice… He missed Father. Mari must be missing her friends, he thought. Judging from her slow breathing, she was already out. Adrien whispered to her anyway,
“Don’t worry, Mari. We’ll find them.”
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spacedimentio · 3 years ago
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Fractures ch.5 - Burning Sun
- Pink Diamond fights for her freedom.
Pink Diamond remained on her back for what seemed like eons. Her ears were ringing, and her mind was dazed. The left side of her face burned and ached.
Finally, she stood. She stared blankly around the room, struggling to process what had just happened. Around her were hundreds of shards, sparkling in what little light remained. It was strangely beautiful.
She touched her face. Where it hurt, her skin was no longer smooth and soft.
White-
White had wanted to-
She’d been going to erase her. Erase all her memories and take away everything that made her who she was. Pink knew, because she’d seen it done before, to her own pearl, who had only done what had been asked of her and suffered because of it.
And she had-
She had…
She had fought, fought to save what little she had left. And somehow, she had gotten free and-
She… She hadn’t meant to, she hadn’t meant to, she had just lashed out blindly and…
It wasn’t her fault that White had been so close.
Unfeeling, she knelt and picked up a shard. It was small and jagged, rough against her fingers. Falling so far had turned the pieces into gravel.
She dropped it and continued to stand there, waiting. The room seemed impossibly vast and empty without White Diamond to fill it.
She soon heard the thunder of distant footsteps. They grew closer, split into two sets, shook the world. A moment longer, and the door was violently forced open.
Blue and Yellow Diamond entered, prepared to fight whatever horrible foe had slipped into White’s sanctuary. Instead, they found only their little sister, standing lost amidst a sea of shards.
Silence reigned as they processed what they saw.
“You little fool…” Yellow Diamond whispered. “What have you done.”
Pink turned towards them, watched them gasp, watched Blue Diamond’s hands fly to her mouth, watched Yellow Diamond’s body tense in horror. She knew what they saw. She had seen herself reflected in White’s gem, moments before it had shattered completely.
A series of cracks spread out from her left eye, trailing down her cheek. Where they touched, her skin was a dull, sickly gray, the pink leeched right out of it. Faint lines marked the eye itself, and her once bright magenta iris had faded to a pale, ghostly coral. She knew at once that the damage was permanent, and hardly cared.
Yellow and Blue didn’t move. They knew what the cracks meant, too.
Pink waited, feeling nothing and everything at once. She met their gazes evenly. She must look like an utter disaster, like she had lost her mind. Maybe she had.
Yellow snapped out of it first, taking a step into the room. She winced when a loud crunch resulted, growing paler. None of them had quite processed that White Diamond was gone yet.
“G-Go to your room,” Yellow said, her voice quiet and shaken. “We’ll decide what to do with you later.” She looked over her shoulder at Blue, spurring her into movement. Blue’s hands came away from her face, and she carefully began to gather the shards.
Something in Pink Diamond shifted. Something stirred. Something that had been left rotting inside of her for much too long.
She didn’t know what was going to happen. What she did know was that she never wanted to return to that room again.
“No.”
“Go. Now,” Yellow commanded, voice rising. Blue stopped what she was doing, clutching White’s shards to her bosom in fear.
Pink frowned, staring Yellow in the eye. “No,” she said again, firm and cold. “I’m not going back.”
She began to walk towards the door, intending to brush by Yellow and leave. She barely felt the shards cutting into her bare feet.
Yellow stopped her, grabbing her by the arm. “Pink, you will go to your room and you will go now. I’ll drag you there myself if I have to.”
Pink pulled away, leaping back and putting several yards between herself and Yellow. She settled automatically into a fighting stance. Pink sparks danced in the air around her form. “I’m not letting you lock me up again, Yellow. Move aside and let me leave.”
Yellow felt a chill. What she had seen a glimpse of so long ago was coming out in full force. At last, she recognized it as a great and terrible hatred.
Pink had to be shut down, now.
Yellow’s aura flared up, and she fired a bolt of lightning directly at Pink. A shield that had not been summoned in millennia redirected it back towards her. Yellow dodged it, stepping to the side, her face lined with fury.
Everything was clicking into place for Pink Diamond. White was gone. White, who was an immovable wall, an impossible hurdle, who insisted that she be pushed and pulled and twisted until she was something she didn’t want to be, was shattered. She was finally, blessedly free of her, and she would not be stopped again.
Yellow moved, firing again, and Pink raised her shield to deflect it once more. Her old, battle-hardened instincts fired into overdrive, assessing the situation. In her periphery, she saw Blue back away, confused and afraid. Pink braced herself as Yellow came towards her. Yellow’s fist hit her shield with the force of a crashing meteor; her knees threatened to buckle.
Before another blow could fall, Pink dashed in between Yellow’s legs and hit her in the back of her knee. Yellow stumbled, but turned and kicked the smaller diamond. Pink flew back a few hundred feet, her shield dissipating as she tumbled on the ground.
“That is enough, Pink!” Yellow boomed, her aura crackling around her.
Pink got up, unminding of the various scrapes and bruises she’d just received. Her anger, her hatred and guilt and grief and fear and all of the crushing things she’d been left alone to feel for thousands of years exploded out of her, forming a blazing pink aura.  “I’m not going back,” she growled.
Yellow launched another bolt; Pink stood still, defiant. Yellow’s lightning evaporated uselessly the moment it hit Pink’s aura.
Without warning, Pink ran towards Yellow, summoning another shield. She threw it at Yellow’s face, using the distraction to get in close again.
Blue Diamond watched in horror and worry, not knowing what to do. She watched as Pink seemed to dart effortlessly around Yellow, using her smaller size to her advantage. She delivered bruising blow after blow to Yellow. Even when Yellow caught her, she would break free. Even when Yellow knocked her away, she got back up as if she hadn’t felt the hit. Her burning aura easily overpowered Yellow’s own.
Blue Diamond gasped when Yellow suddenly froze.
Pink’s hand was digging painfully into the yellow gem’s collar, her feet braced against Yellow’s hips. Pink’s gaze drilled into Yellow’s, her expression utterly merciless, her eyes cold and cruel.
Her fist had stopped inches from Yellow’s gem.
For once in her life, Pink Diamond looked every bit like the diamond that she was meant to be.
Nobody moved for several seconds, until Pink let go and dropped to the floor. She walked towards the door and left without another word, leaving her two shell-shocked sisters to pick up the pieces.
Her aura faded gradually as she calmly went through the halls. The gems she passed hid from her, or wisely got out of her way.  She didn’t know where she was going; she just wanted it to be away from here.
She came to a halt when she reached the opening in the face of White Diamond’s ship. Before her was all of Homeworld. It was organized, lifeless, unfeeling.
Across from her, on the other side of the docking bay, stood her own ship. A ridiculous pair of hot pink legs, perfect for who she used to be. She could leave, and never come back. She wanted to.
But she had always been able to escape, if she had truly wanted to. No. White was gone, and she could finally follow her heart again.
So she leapt out into the dead, unmoving air. She slowed her descent, landing on the roof of a building. She leapt again, moving from structure to structure with careless, directionless abandon. Those who saw her that day would later say that she almost seemed to be dancing.
With one last bound, Pink Diamond sailed out into open nothingness, and descended down and down into the unknown abyss of Homeworld’s depths. 
A/N: Who Would Win: 1 Anger Mom, or 5000 Years of Repressed Suffering?
Here's a picture I drew of what Pink looks like now. I don't have the artistic skill to make the damage look as bad as I can describe with words, but it gets across well enough I think.
In fact, that singular concept is responsible for this entire story; one morning, I woke up with the half-formed idea of "the cracks on White Pearl's face sure are creepy, what if I put them on Pink Diamond's face?" I stayed in bed for another hour thinking about how and why that would be done to her, how she would manage to escape from being completely brainwashed, and what she would do afterwards. So you can thank my half-asleep brain for coming up with weird shit, as it does.
[FIRST - PREVIOUS - INDEX - NEXT]
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rum-and-shattered-dreams · 4 years ago
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An AU idea (inspired by this post) where Stan threw a rope to Ford as he was being pulled into the portal. He let go of his journal in favor of grabbing the rope and it was lost to Bill's dimension. Stan had saved him and for that, he was grateful. They talked and forgave each other for the past and all seemed well for as much as a day. That was when Bill's ruthless anger became apparent and he took full advantage of his deal with Ford. Thirty years later, the demon is still punishing him for his refusal to rebuild the portal.  (This has been nagging at me for a while now.  Since it's Forduary, maybe it's time to bring it back.  It sort of fits the paranoia theme.  It's been a long time since I've mentioned this AU but there are more posts about it under my "the man downstairs au" tag, including some brilliant ideas and contributions from other creative minds.  For now, here's a little piece of it.  I'm not sure if I'll write anymore for it (though I'd like to make this scene into a comic at some point) so I'll just release this into the wild for anyone to imagine what they'd like about it.
Warnings:  Psychological torture, angst, physical torture mention
A quiet mind was a rare occurrence for Stanford Pines even before he'd made the deal that plunged his life into lonely confinement.  Yet, it had been nearly twelve hours since the dream demon had last visited him.  He understood why.  Today's silence was, in itself, a form of torment - time alone, confined, unable to do anything but think about the things he couldn't do.  He'd had days like this before when the boredom nearly drove him over the edge, when knowing that access to activities as simple as writing, drawing, or reading could result in more scars added to the spattering of discolored lines and bruises already etched across his body.  But today was especially difficult.  He hoped, honestly hoped, his brother had enjoyed his day and, at the same time, hoped he'd visit soon, if only to relieve him from the miasma of his own mind. And so he waited, sitting among pillows of various sizes and colors on the padded floor, leaning against the equally padded wall of a cell built for him in his own basement; built at his own insistence to protect the world and built at his brother's to keep Ford, himself, as safe and comfortable as possible.  Despite the hours passed, his right eye remained reddened and raw from repeated possession.  At least, he thought, it isn't bleeding anymore.  At least, it hasn't rotted away to nothing yet.  Though, it certainly felt like it might at times.   He hadn't had access to a mirror in so long that he could only imagine how dark the circles under his eyes must be, how pale his face must look, and how thin he must have become.  Bill had only allowed him to eat and sleep enough to keep him teetering on the edge of life.  After all, he wanted him alive for more than one reason.  Too bad he wasn't sure anymore if he still wanted himself ali- A knock silenced his mind.  His head snapped up, looking past the bars of his cell to the wooden door centered in a wall covered in family photos and his own drawings (only in crayon since they were toughest to weaponize), his only window to the outside world. "Hey, Ford.  Mind if I come in?" his brother asked. "Certainly!" he answered, lifting himself to his feet and stepping over piles of pillows to approach the bars with an enthusiasm he hadn't felt in far too long mingled with a sinking feeling in his chest. Stan cracked open the door, peeking through to assure himself it was safe to enter.  He emerged slowly, one hand held behind his back, clad in an atypical outfit composed of a tropical shirt, khaki shorts, and his fishing hat.   Before he'd even fully opened the door, Ford flooded him with questions.  "How did it go?  Did the kids enjoy fishing?  Did you catch anything good?  Did you have fun?" "Well, it started off shaky, he answered, closing the door with a light click.  "They went off on their own to hunt some monster thing for a while but they eventually came back and we had some fun.  They wore the hats I made them." "That's good.  You worked hard on those," Ford said, his hands absently wrapping around the bars between himself and his brother. "Yeah.  I uh...  Here," he said, handing Ford a floppy fishing hat. He unfolded it, his fingers tracing the hand sewn letters spelling out his own name, a smile lifting the corners of his lips. "It's for when we figure this all out," Stan said, digging in his shorts pocket.  "I uh...  have some photos if you want to see."     "Of course!"  He stared down at the photos held out before him, refusing to reach through and take them.  He didn't need them torn to shreds by the monster in his mind.  "They're growing up so fast.  But, it does look like you had fun.  I'm glad.  You deserve a break." "Yeah, well...  So do you," Stan said with a melancholy sigh.  He turned the photos in his hand, gazing at them as he mused, "They're great kids, ya' know.  I think they'd understand if I told them about you and our uh...  situation.  He pocketed the photos, his hand rubbing the back of his head.  "I mean...  That is...  Do you want to meet them?" Ford smiled ready to answer with a joyful "yes" but his smile sagged mid-word and he corrected himself, "I would like to, yes.  But No.  It's too dangerous.  I'M too dangerous."  He sagged to the floor, his back to the bars, huddled in on himself as if trying to be physically smaller. Stan dropped to his knees, reaching through the bars to rest his hand on his brother's shoulder.  "I know it's been a long time.  Far too long.  But, we'll figure this out." Ford cradled his head in his hands, his voice shaking as he spoke, "He keeps rearranging things in my head.  There are ways...  It's maddening that I know I know them but they're just...  I just...  can't think of them."   Stan risked a little more, his arms stretching past the bars to hug his brother.  "I swear if I ever get my hands on that monster I'll..." he sighed, his anger melting into a gentle murmur, "I'm sorry things are still like this."   "No..."  Ford croaked, his voice straining, "No... Please..." Stan leapt back, anticipating Ford's violent turn toward him, his hand swiping through the bars.  Stan fell backwards, staring in awe at a sight he'd seen enough times that it should have lost it's impact on him.  His brother grinned wildly, his eyes glowing yellow, tears staining his cheeks. The cackle passing through his brother's lips grated on his nerves.  The demon's nasally whine echoed unnaturally through the basement, "You know how to end this, Brainiacac.  Rebuild the portal and you can see your family all you want!" Ford blinked, his eyes dimming back to their usual brown as he backed away from the bars.  "No," he answered, his tone failing to be as steady and stern as he wished it could be, "No!  I won't let you into our world."  He took another step back, tripping backwards over a bolster pillow. He clutched his head, fighting against himself, "Get out of my mind!" But he'd never once been able to successfully ward off the benefactor of the deal forged of his own gullibility and misplaced trust.  The yellow glow shone through his eyes yet again. "Hey, I'm not exactly happy about being in your brain box this often, either," Bill snorted, "It's too confined in here," he explained, motioning to cell, "to have much fun.  Sure would be nice if I could throw you down the stairs again like old times!  But, suit yourself.  Enjoy the mystery bruises tomorrow!" As the demon faded from his mind, Ford heard his brother call his name, an edge of desperation to his shout. "Stanley..."  He shook his head looking toward his brother through blurry eyes.  Stan still sat, slightly disheveled and stunned on the basement floor.  "Stanley!  Did...  Did I hurt you?" "Nah, I got out of the way in time," he answered, trying to wrangle his words into a lackadaisical tone adding a dismissive wave of his hand. "Because you've gotten used to avoiding it..."  Ford turned away, edging himself closer to the padded corner.  "I'm sorry Stanley..." "Ford..." "Just...  go.  Please," he whispered. Stan sighed, reaching into his pocket for the photos of himself and the kids.  He pinned them to the wall beside a faded photo of his childhood self posing with Ford in front of the Stan O' War.  "Someday," he muttered nearly inaudibly.  He turned back to his brother, huddled in the corner in a fruitless attempt to minimize his breakdown.  I'll figure out the way to fix this, he thought, opening the door and letting himself out.
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shipaholic · a year ago
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Omens Universe, Chapter 4 Part 2
Oof, I just finished this in time for my Sunday deadline. Er! Probably a bit more first-drafty than usual. Welcome to my extra-unfiltered brain-drippings, I guess?
Just a ton of weird body horror in this one. Why did I turn Crowley into a ball of black ectoplasm? Who knows, man.
btw the horse is a girl now. I’ve edited the last part to reflect this.
Onwards! On the quest for Hellfire to stick poor Crowley’s gem back together.
Link to next part at the end.
(last part)
(chrono)
Chapter 4, cont.
The route was ordinary, until it wasn’t.
On a damp country road indistinguishable from the mile of damp country road they’d already passed, Aziraphale nudged the horse towards a point where reality was slightly thinner than it should have been.
It was like a smoke hood snuffing out a candle. The wan sun vanished as though it had never existed. The soggy fields disappeared behind a curtain of fog.
Crowley bubbled to himself. He was slumped on the horse’s neck in a heap of misshapen armour. The horse, using horse logic, reacted to this by speeding up to get away from him, so they were now bouncing down the path at a nervous trot, jingling like a cutlery drawer.
Aziraphale leaned forward. “How are you holding up?”
“Ggggggggn.”
Crowley gave a long hiss, like steam escaping. Black tar oozed down the back of his neck. Patches of what looked like scales had broken out all over his face, like a teenage skin complaint. His right cheek was still swollen from the horse’s kick, and his broken gem was dull under the swirling fog. His eyes were unfocused. For a time, they had grown closer to passably human; now they were as snakelike as they ever had been.
Aziraphale contemplated him, his poison-yellow eyes and the creeping scales that covered his face. The thought occurred to him that demons had forms that were. Well. On the bestial side. Covered in bats or flies. Sometimes mould, if they couldn’t manage anything better. Crowley was the only one he knew of who looked, until now, mostly human. Mostly.
He thought about Crowley, straining with the effort of staying in one piece. Perhaps he had no energy to spare towards the little maintenance miracles he normally did without thinking about it. Like ensuring his hair was always perfect. Or that his clothes always hung just so. Or…
Or holding back some of the more obvious evidence of his nature. Aziraphale considered that what he was seeing now - the scales, the eyes - was what Crowley was meant to look like. How he looked in Hell, after the fall.
He said he disliked shape-shifting. But he still did it.
Aziraphale let this line of thought play out. Then he folded it away, for good. If Crowley wanted to look more human, that was nobody’s business.
The horse was far less generous. Her eyes rolled in a way that suggested everyone should brace themselves for an abrupt relocation. Aziraphale suspected the poor thing might have reached her limit, no matter how much serenity he projected at her.
A hiss came from within Crowley’s armour.
“Ssss… zsss… Aziraphale.”
He had to force the words out. Aziraphale leaned closer to catch them.
“You ssshould. Discorporate me.”
Aziraphale felt a cold swoop in his stomach.
“Don’t say that. Whatever for?”
“Horse. ‘Sss about to bolt.”
Aziraphale gripped the horse’s sides with his legs as they all almost jolted out of the saddle.
“Not at all,” he lied. “She’ll quiet down, eventually. She’s used to riding into danger for God and glory.”
“Don’t kid yourssself. If I’m in my gem, the damn thing ssstops freaking out. Jussst do it.”
Aziraphale frowned. “Stop it, Crowley. It’s not going to happen. What if you can’t reform?”
Crowley made a noise that could have been a sigh.
“Either the Hellfire heals me or it doesn’t.”
Aziraphale thought about it. Drawing his sword and… dispatching Crowley, for the first time since Eden. The first time ever on purpose.
He had suggested it earlier. But that was before Crowley lost form, and speech. Back when he thought they could solve this problem by popping Crowley’s gem in the post.
If this was the last -
If this was the last time they -
He couldn’t do it.
No, he refused to do it. He’d find another way. If Crowley wanted to argue, too bad.
“Angel, did you -”
“I heard you,” Aziraphale snapped. “The answer’s no. And I’m steering, so you’ll have to like it or lump it.”
Crowley undulated sulkily. “Gnnnggg.”
“Same to you. Now. Are we there yet?”
Crowley peered off into the fog. He took a deep sniff. Tendrils of mist curled into his nostrils.
He raised a dripping, gelatinous arm and shakily pointed left.
Aziraphale nudged the horse. They jingled on.
Aziraphale could swear the ground was flat, but it felt like they were somehow sloping down, down into the murk. Fog pressed in like shadows, dissolving the world. He could only guess the swooping sense of vertigo he felt was not in his imagination.
Then, from up ahead, came a deep, red glow. A sinister, hateful glow. A glow that wanted to envelop everything before it, then snuff it out.
The fog billowed as though stirred by wind. It rose, pulled back like a curtain, and revealed with a flourish the sweeping landscape before them.
A colourless sweep of grass led to the shore of a lake. The lake was small, but the waters were endlessly black. None of the fog, swirling at head-height, trickled down to brush the surface. The air above the water was dead. Aziraphale suspected if he tried to breathe it, he would find himself unable to.
In the centre of the lake was a tiny island, and on the island was a cave with a glowing red mouth. It was as red as Hell in a storybook.
On the shore sat a rickety wooden boat. It was big enough for two, if one was feeling generous. Someone had tossed an oar onto the seat.
Aziraphale rolled his eyes. All the scene was missing was a few skulls and a flock of bats to really set the mood. Call it snobbery - and Lord knew Heaven wasn’t any better, what with the robes and the head-pounding light and the choirs of angels that knew no dynamic markings beyond fortissimo - but he found this kind of thing embarrassing.
He dismounted and helped Crowley down after him. The horse perked up as soon as she was rid of them. Aziraphale gave her an absent-minded stroke, and put the route back to the castle in her head. She gave the snake a dirty parting look, and trotted away with a flick of her tail.
There was nothing to do but get on with it. Aziraphale guided Crowley to the boat. Crowley walked like an empty suit of armour, its inhabitant long-deceased, now puppeted by something that didn’t quite get how people were supposed to move. From time to time, he flickered, and his entire body turned off. It happened too quickly each time for Aziraphale to feel the sting of panic until Crowley had already reappeared. A quiet roar of static emanated from him, intermittently, like a faulty connection.
They reached the boat. Aziraphale poured Crowley into the bottom, like black tar. He glooped like a cauldron and spilled between the pieces of his armour. He looked like a quagmire with the drowned remains of a knight floating in it.
Aziraphale settled across from him, dubiously, onto the half-rotted seat. He picked up the oar and pushed off.
The boat glided out in total silence onto the lake. There was no sensation that they were floating upon anything. They drifted, perfectly level, as if on casters. Aziraphale had no intention of putting his hand in the water to check what was there. Maybe they were sailing across sheer void, and if he looked down, the spell would break and they would plummet forever into empty darkness.
It might be dangerous to use a miracle to get to the island faster. This place was steeped in demonic essence. It would be like putting opposing magnetic fields together. Or possibly it would just cause an explosion.
He rowed. His oar passed through whatever was beneath them with no resistance. The boat glided forward at an even pace.
The island loomed. Crowley was a lumpy puddle at the bottom of the boat. More of him spilled over the top of his armour, submerging it like an oil slick. The snake’s smooth dark head swam on the surface, the only part of him that kept its form.
Then, like a sauce thickening, he suddenly expanded, bursting the bounds of his armour. Aziraphale jerked backwards, pulling his feet up onto the seat. There was suddenly twice as much of Crowley as before. Appendages that could be presumed to be arms and legs erupted from him like wet, black roots. He had outgrown the boat before Aziraphale could react. Crowley tried to pull in his spiralling limbs, and accidentally punched a hole in the side.
Black water rushed in. It was nothing like water at all.
A forsaken feeling washed over Aziraphale. It was as though his essence, the part of him that rang in tune to Heaven, had gone cold. The water moaned, and his heart wrenched out of his chest.
Crowley hissed like a kettle and scrambled away as though the water was scalding hot. His limbs gored more holes as he went, and the boat began to list. The terrible cold rose from the bottom and crept through Aziraphale’s body, numbing and burning as it went. He gripped the oar with frozen hands and rowed faster. The island, which had seemed in reach minutes ago, was now a distant speck. They weren’t going to make it. They were going to break apart and fall away into the endless dark.
Clammy hands brushed Aziraphale’s ankles. He gave one of them a smack with the oar. When he looked back up, the island was right there, spilling its angry red glow from the cave onto the grey sand of the shore.
The boat broke in half as they reached it. Aziraphale didn’t look down. He grabbed Crowley and leapt off. For an instant, he was treading water that wasn’t water. The cold of it stopped his brain and heart. Then his feet were churning up wet sand, and he staggered up a pale, dirty beach, the last tendrils of the waves sighing as they unstuck and let him go.
Aziraphale kept moving, although he couldn’t feel his body. He could only feel Crowley’s hand, clutched in his, oozing and damp and not hand-shaped at all, but warm, the only warm thing in the world.
When they were a safe distance from the water, he bent over, put his hands on his knees and gasped for a minute. Crowley sunk into a puddle beside him. It was hard to read his body language, but Aziraphale guessed he was also collecting himself.
They only took a few moments. Crowley’s hand wasn’t a hand any more, and they needed to find what they came here for quickly.
Aziraphale turned and faced the cave. The mouth of it glowed like an oven. He felt the hellish heat radiating out, waiting for him to step into its radius.
He mustered a smile for Crowley. “At least we’ll dry out.”
Crowley made a motion that Aziraphale interpreted as a grim nod.
There was nothing more to say. Aziraphale walked, and Crowley oozed, towards the cave. They stepped into the circle of searing light. It was hot, but it didn’t burn. It was more like the close, miserable heat of a sweaty little room crammed with people who know they can never leave. They went further, past the threshold, all the way inside.
The cave swallowed them up. They kept walking.
---
(next part)
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spinwrites · 2 years ago
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the bag
Danny Phantom fanfic. Summary: Something in Danny's bag is going to get him killed. Will he outrun his fate?
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Danny woke up, looked out of his window where the birds were singing, and knew that he would die today.
Nothing to be done about it. He went through the motions: brushed his teeth, took a shower, pulled on clothes he hoped smelled clean, and in no time at all he was standing before his backpack, looking down at the contents within.
Did I leave anything behind? What even is the point of checking?
He decided to anyway, and went to his desk.
It did not look like a teenager’s desk. A stationery holder sat in a forlorn corner, containing one (1) obligatory pencil. Leaning against the wall were textbooks bought at the beginning of freshman year, though if Danny opened them, he knew their margins would be paper-white and its paragraphs devoid of highlight. The remainder of his desk was clean, as if its owner had never existed.
With nothing to take with him, he hefted the backpack over his shoulder. It weighed him down, and he imagined there were fresh corpses trapped within, but no corpse could sustain the ruse of merely sleeping; all would eventually fall into rot and grow into stench. Their discovery was inevitable, and it was inevitability that Danny feared.
As he walked down the stairs, every creak of the floorboards resounded, like the echoing toll of his funeral.
At the kitchen table, his father wielded an ecto-gun. The man pulled the trigger, and frowned at the weapon, but he bid a good morning to his son, who lingered at the doorway.
“Breakfast, Danno?” asked Jack, gesturing to a plate of toast before him. He fiddled with the gun, which Danny sensed was uncharged, and muttered, “Why’s this stuck?”
Danny wasn’t hungry – hadn’t been since he collapsed into slumber at four with bruises painted over his back. The toast was browned, charred at the corners. Butter oozed like yellow pus from its edges, pooling onto the silver plate.
He took a seat and picked up a slice. The clock on the wall ticked, loud over the lack of explosions from the lab below.
“Where’s Mom?” he asked.
“Out for some errands,” answered his father. “She’ll be back.”
“Oh. Okay.” He ate his toast, and tried not to think about the day. When his fingers were sticky but empty, he scrubbed them at the sink. “Dad,” he said.
“Yeah, bud?”
“It’s time.”
His father pocketed the gun. “Alright.” His smile was bright, antithetical to the thudding of Danny’s heart. “Let’s go.”
His father’s chatter filled the RV.
If Danny listened to it, the burn of the bag against his back dimmed to a simmer, and the inevitability retreated into an old nightmare. But the American flag soon came into sight, whipping from its pole, followed by the red bricks of Casper High, stark against the backdrop of a pale gray sky.
The RV slowed, and rolled to a stop before the courtyard. It led to a set of front steps, which ended at a pair of bright red doors.
From the window of the passenger seat, Danny watched the students pass by; youth after youth heading up these steps, their bags slung over their backs, walking into the jaws of the den.
“Danny?” asked his father, tone light. “You going?”
“I...”
Danny’s knuckles were white over the straps of his bag. He had no excuses, no get-out-of-jail cards.
“I– I don’t–”
He choked then, and hunched into a coughing fit that tore at his throat – he had swallowed his saliva wrong – but his father pounded his back, and when air returned to his lungs, he saw the wisp of cool condensation manifest before his eyes.
His ears caught it before his brain did.
“I AM THE BOX GHOST!”
Both Fentons launched into action. Jack shouted and whipped out his ecto-gun, then remembered the morning and pulled out the Jack o’ Nine Tails; Danny pressed his lips together and fumbled for his bag, grasping for the thermos.
His fingers brushed against other things, but these things– they no longer occupied the forefront of his mind.
“Danny, stay here! That ghost’s not going to get away from Jack Fenton!” The man disappeared with a slam of the door, which rocked the RV. He left the gun on the driver’s seat, Danny registered distantly, as his eyes tracked the blue menace speeding past the red doors of Casper High.
Half a year ago, the screaming would’ve begun. Today, students went about their day and gave the ghost a wide berth. But there was a pounding in Danny’s chest and a dizziness in his head, because in the vestiges of his mind, a flitting thought was warping into an idea, and the idea...
The idea... it was turning into a plan.
He grabbed the gun, unbuckled his seatbelt, then wrenched open the door and leapt out of the RV. He left the thermos propped against his bag on the passenger seat – two innocuous items that disappeared from his line of sight when the door swung shut.
Facing the courtyard, he took a deep breath and screamed, “Hey, Box Ghost!”
The courtyard stilled. Conversations fell silent and eyes turned to him, students blinking out of the stupors of their mornings.
The ghost spun to him, pale eyes aglow. Cardboard boxes and scraps of wrapping whirled in an inexplicable wind. “Phanto–” he began.
“How ‘bout you take on someone your own size?”
“Get away from my son!” boomed his father from a distance. With a bellow, he rushed at the ghost. A bang resounded; his Jack o’ Nine Tails fired, its net swelling into a web of cables that crackled with electricity. It missed the target by a mile.
Box Ghost ignored the man and whizzed towards where Danny stood, boxes trailing his back in a streak of blue light. Danny gritted his teeth, tightened his fingers over the gun, and whipped it out before him.
“Danny, wait–”
“Eat dirt!” shouted the teen, taking aim, squinting his eyes and then– “Ah! This weapon! It doesn’t work! Oh, God!”
Box Ghost threw his head back and laughed, his voice echoing. “Your puny weapons are no match against my wrath of all things square!” He raised a hand, and cast a palm out. Three cardboard boxes detached from its fellow squares and slammed into Danny’s face with consecutive thwacks.
Danny fell over and clutched his head. “Gah, it hurts!”
“Danny-boy,” his father gasped, horrified.
“Wait,” said Box Ghost. He had stopped advancing. “Seriously?”
Clambering to his feet, Danny trembled his arms, and the gun shook. He ignored everyone’s gaping – the students, his dad, the teachers – for there were grander things at stake than his rep. “Get- get away!” he said, then sent a pulse of ecto-energy into the gun and fired.
The shot went wide. Birds squawked from a nearby tree, and he heard fluttering in the sky.
But it worked. Box Ghost’s eyes glazed over in madness and he raised his arms. “You will PAY! You will experience the full force of my POWER!”
Bubble wrap slapped into Danny and wrapped around his arms. The static from the plastic made his hair stand, but the bubbles were unpopped; it felt like laying in an airy waterbed. An airbed. Danny felt the consequence of sleeping at 4AM hit him like a full-body slam, and was overcome with an overwhelming desire to take a nap.
Then he thought about the bag in the RV.
“Oh, God,” he sobbed, not trying very hard to break out. He popped a few bubbles though, because it was bubble wrap. “It hurts! Please, Box Ghost, n-no more!”
Tupperwares headed straight for him in a blaze of blue. He braced for impact, feeling the first one clip his shoulder, the second bounce off his shin, and the last– his eyes widened; this wasn’t part of the plan but he was also trapped in bubble wrap and was supposed to be immobile and–
Nuts, he thought, before the container smacked into his forehead with the force of a train.
By the time she had rushed to the school and brought Danny home, her boy – unconscious after defending his schoolmates from a ghost, oh my brave, brave child – had gained a canvas of bruises. There was a spread of it across his back, blue-black and yellow-green, and looking down at him, sleeping so soundly in his bed, Maddie Fenton experienced fear she had not felt in years.
“My son needs to stay at home,” she hissed into the phone by her ear. “For as long as he needs! He needs rest, so he can recover from the ghost attack in your school!”
Voices squawked at the end of the line.
“This has nothing to do with my family! With all due respect, why didn’t your staff activate the ecto-defensive system we installed for you–”
As she spoke, she set Danny’s school bag on the chair at his desk. Did he clean his table? she wondered, but the thought dissipated as she snapped a response, “And that includes an extension for his deadlines. I don’t care if anything important was due today, my boy’s health comes first!”
Despite her lowered volume, it began to rouse the teen from his slumber, and the tail end of his mother’s conversation registered faintly in his head.
Danny woke up, looked at the bag where all his untouched work lay, and with a shit-eating grin, knew that he would live another day.
-
Written: 3 May 2020 | danphanwritingprompt
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summernumber74 · 4 years ago
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“Summer No. 74″ — Day 3 — 4,922/50,000
Behind the house the sun was making itself known. Still behind the horizon, or maybe just the hills and trees. Judy preferred the hills, the trees. Sitting here on the old sofa staring into the morning night, not hung over but a few inches of center, she remembered the trip she made in high school to see her dying great-grandmother. This was the first time she’d travelled with her mother’s fiancé. The three of them drove through the secretive evil hills of North Georgia, through the softer evil hills of Alabama, the evil flat forests of North Mississippi, then the in the flat evil of Louisiana and finally arrived in the unending plains of North Texas. Judy and her mother hadn’t gone west for at least 5 years, when she was 12 or so, at which time Judy was so spiritually desolated that she never took in anything around her.
 They went back and forth between a now estranged uncle’s home (suburban and unthinkably ugly, an arrangement of blocks with tremendous pitched ceilings) and a hospice center (just typically ugly, like all spaces in the thrall of death). On the last visit to the hospice center, Judy knew she’d be seeing her great-grandmother for the last time. The air on this February day was empty and vicious. Out the window, she saw the barrenness of the plain. On the horizon she saw a few little hills, undeniably just a subdivision, and then it all came together. This was a death. A dry, indifferent, wintry flatness.
 A drop of an adult beverage, “the ol’ glug glug” in Jeremy’s terminology, and Judy was up at 6 on the dot. When she was up this early, Judy came out to sit on the damp couch and through the screen of tree limbs watch the world wake up. Already a pair of laborers had passed by, talked about how bad the bus schedule on this side of town was. Then there were the joggers that always caught their breath sitting on the half rotted log next to the road. Then the cyclist. Now, a break in the activity. Around 7:10, another batch of joggers, then students heading to their 8 AMs, and then and then and then. Sometimes it felt overwhelming, but Judy loved the endless procession of the world, of people’s elaborating on the business of their lives. Judy, for her part, felt most in herself running errands, Making Phone Calls, the kind of silly day-to-day shit that makes it possible to take care of her self. If she could tend to her body, broken and miserable as it was, then everything else was more tolerable.
 Finally awake enough, caffeinated enough, Judy gave some brain space to last night. After drinking and showing each other different playlists on their phones, they played with the BB gun and shot all their bottles apart, the front yard turned over to glass and pellets.  Kathleen got the PS2 she kept in her backpack and showed Judy and Jeremy this thing she found in Final Fantasy XII, then Ken in their sports bra and boxer briefs gave a reading of some choice passages from The Uncollected Dan Brown. Around 2 they all fell asleep cuddling on the futon Judy unfolded in her room. Who could want for more?
Well, more sleep and something to eat. Judy was hungry and feeling sort of queasy from all the coffee. She fried an egg in butter until it was crisp and terrible, then ate it on a dry piece of wheat toast. Even though her hand was a bit shaky from the coffee, she closed her eyes on the loveseat. In a caffeine dream, several dozen read lines expanded and contracted to a song that did not sound like, but that definitely was, “Take My Breath Away.”
 The she gasped away as Kathleen shook her and said loudly, “Judy!” Judy sat up so quickly that her and Kathleen hit foreheads. There was a ‘Klonk.’ Jeremy was rocking back and forth while sitting on the arm of the loveseat, and the arm rocked with him. “What time is it,” Judy asked, her voice half of a groan. Judy reached for her phone and saw that it was 7:30 AM, she’d been asleep only about 20 minutes. “We’re going to go hang out with Marshall at the bakery for a while and then head over to the print shop,” Kathleen said with a sleepy dreaminess, “Do you want to come with us?” Judy smiled slightly at the idea, then, propped on an arm of the loveseat, saw the washing machine. “Ughhhh. I gotta do a few chores, for moving out. I’ll come in around….1? Is that okay?” Jeremy leapt to his feet— “1! You want to come in at…1??” A pause. “Yeah 1 o’clock should be fine.” Kathleen nodded in agreement. “Yeah, come on in at 1. We’ll save you something.” Kathleen hugged Judy and gave her something between a peck and brush on the cheek— sensuous.
 When she heard the door close, Judy sat up and stared at the floor. She stared at it some more. Then she went and ran the load of clothes she’d left in the washer the day before. She played a Match 3 game on her phone for a while then closed herself inside her room. She still couldn’t imagine that she was leaving, and that this room, with its rough wooden floors that slanted at a different angle at every point in the room. She decided to smoke a cigarette in her room as a dumb, minor act of having been here. Paint flakes fell like pollen as Judy opened the old window, lit a cigarette and hunched out into the hot heat. The A/C chugged like a train, nearing it’s fifth death of the summer. Soon, she’d be back at her hometown, bored and belabored. No more waking up at 2 PM, or crying in front of the gas station, or setting off fireworks in the clearing by the tracks. Misery! Her bare torso scraped against the wood of the windowsill, splinter lodged in her rib. “How overloaded. This window is a rotting Longinus,” Judy said aloud to her empty house. Thinking about this summer, she felt the way it’d been a folding and folding of stereotyping, the sadness, the flatness, the seeming meaningless days punctuated by overloaded nights. In spite of that, in spite of the way she could feel herself rubbing against the walls of possibility, she felt good that she knew that, at least— that there could have been more. She wanted to feel the regret raher than not know there was something worth regretting. And she dreaded going home, and being in her old room, and her mother’s ex-husband, and the starchy traffic jams near public schools, and she dreaded being aware from her friends, even if it was only an hour away. An hour in any direction anywhere on the world could mean anything. An hour north or south or earlier or later, it mattered. Judy moved her laundry.
 The book return slot on the exterior of the library had been bolted shut for the last month. Judy walked into the air conditioning— noon and the heat outside was in its full swing— and felt the slight quiet pleasure of being in a pretty public library. This one was late modernist, low ceilings and wide avenues, with a few po-mo touches for new public study rooms. She approached the front desk and the librarian on duty, a soft-faced man with a piece of paper taped to his light jacket saying “He/Him Pronouns.” Judy made sure to give off extremely transgender energies.
 “Hi, how can I help you today?” The librarian was in a brief mood. Judy set the books, close to tumbling, onto the desk. “Hey, I need to return these books.” “Ok. Let’s see here,” and he swiped book after book across a red light scanner. Each book was accompanied by a throaty bark that Judy (shrewd one) figured meant they were overdue. This would be a thing.
“Are you aware that this books are overdue, some of them by several months?” The librarian was bored and a bit acidic.
“I’m not, um, surprised. What’s the fine?”
“Seventy-four dollars and thirty-one cents, exactly.”
“Well. Interesting. Anyway, they’re not mine, so, I’ll, uh try to get in touch with my friend about it. Umm, I’ll try calling him now, actually. Let me step outside.”
The librarian was unconvinced but turned back to his work. Judy rushed back to her car and exhaled from how hot it’d already gotten. She drove back home and stuffed the laundry, mostly dried, into a trash bag. While there, Dani came from her room. “Hey. So, I was at the Little Roll this morning, and saw Jeremy and Kathleen.” “Oh,” Judy asked, trying to get a read on Dani’s ambiguous tone.
“Yeah.”
“Uh, okay,” Judy said, sort of offput. Dani walked back into her room and shut the door. Judy checked her room to make sure there was nothing else to take down to the donation center. She remembered there was a stack of records in her trunk that her old roommates had given. No doubt they were now melted. She brushed aside the thought of looking at them.
Even having done so little in this crusty house, time had gotten away from her. Judy threw her bag into the backseat and drove to the big donation center.
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finestswordsmanfandral · 4 years ago
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And Into the Light | Fandral & Thor, ft. Loki & the Bloodwraith
[Counterpart - Thor’s Perspective]
Earlier that evening...
Fandral’s throat was dry. He was tired of screaming. The skin around his wrists and ankles was red and sore from the chains he dragged around the void. He was sitting with his head on his knees, arms wrapped around his thinned legs. His body was deteriorating, pale and aching. This creature was slowly killing him and some days he wondered why he didn’t just give up.
Perhaps it was the infrequent visits from Sir Percy and Dane. They gave him new information about the destruction; he often didn’t want to hear it. He himself wasn’t committing these thoughtless murders, but his body was. Even if he didn’t enjoy hearing about the slaughters, having company even briefly was better than the silence.
Then, he heard something. Something familiar. Someone he recognized.
Heimdall.
“Leave this place now.”
Fandral lifted his head. He was on Asgard now. His weak heart felt leapt, beating faster and stronger. The wraith didn’t say anything, but he heard Heimdall shouting and there were swords clashing.
Then came the thunder.
Fandral stood. Thor had arrived.
“Fandral is dead,” He heard the wraith say.
He clenched his fists. “No, I’m not.”
A jolt of electricity shot through his body, knocking him down onto the ground - this was the first time he had felt an external attack. He lifted his arms, and the shackles on his wrists were crackling with blue and white lightning. Even an entity of death wasn’t impervious to Thor’s power.
He could hear the battle ensuing as he lifted himself back to his feet.
“You will die now, prince.”
“No!” Fandral shouted. “Don’t hurt him! Please!”
He heard the wraith laughing - but the laugh was caught short.
“Not so fast, snake.” That voice...Loki? Before he could wonder why the long lost Asgardian Prince was with Thor, he felt something else.
The blackened void was met with a yellow white at the peak. Fandral felt the floor give out beneath him and he was floating between nothing and something. A hand reached through the darkness, grabbing hold of his body and ripping him free of the shackles. The light in front of him was so bright and he blinked a few times.
“I don’t think this will hold long, Fandral, so speak quickly.”
Fandral inhaled sharply. As his eyes adjusted, he saw the detailing of Heimdall’s conservatory surrounding him. He was in control, but only just. The figures before him focused and his eyes immediately locked with Thor. He relaxed, though the pressure of the wraith was pulsing in his brain. He felt a gentle kick and remembered he needed to speak.
“The sword is his power,” He said. Hearing his own voice reverberating in his throat was a strange sensation. “It must be cleansed. Thor, you must go to Camelot. He’s gaining power so he can return there to rule. Thor, you have to go - you need to save everyone.”
Thor was quick to interrupt: “I need to save you.”
Fandral shook his head saying, “No! He won’t stop.” The wraith was clawing its way out. He felt himself sinking back inside himself. “Thor - “
He was too late.
“No, no, no, no, no!” But the words weren’t coming from his mouth anymore.
He was falling. The light around him faded, and he landed flat on his back in the same familiar emptiness. He watched as the last flicker of white blipped out of existence. A silvery smoke rose from the darkness and wrapped around his extremities and a metal shink! solidified around his wrists and ankles. The shackles returned, and the chains secured him down.
For the first time in months, he finally had hope. Even though his imprisonment was more strict now than ever before, that meant the wraith was afraid. It didn’t want to risk Fandral getting out again and telling Thor about the Brazier of Truth.
-- --
[Counterpart - Thor’s Perspective]
Later that evening...
The Bloodwraith was weakened. He could feel they were passing through the Bifrost, which made him woozy, and he shut his eyes. He lay completely helpless and pinned. They were undoubtedly on their way to Camelot. He learned it was an old Midgardian kingdom that was sealed away. He didn’t have time to relay that to Thor, but he had the resources available to find it regardless.
As he settled back into the abyss, the creaks and aches of his bones returned. Then an intense pressure planted itself on his chest. He winced at the pain and he cracked one eye open. A ghostly image was hovering over his body. The wisps of smoke corporealized on top of him, and a knee was pressing down hard on his ribs.
The figure looked like him, which wasn’t entirely surprising.
“You’ve aged, swordsman. Soon your bones will turn to ash and your body will rot and I will prevail. Then I will kill your friends. The last thing they will see is their dear friend Fandral disemboweling them. Maybe I’ll keep you alive long enough to hear their screams...I haven’t yet decided.”
Fandral tensed and tried to lunge forward. The chains gave ever so slightly, but they were tightened quickly by the wraith. The imposter stood up and the dimension shifted, so Fandral was upright as if he were against a wall.
“Thor will defeat you,” It said, pulling forward on the chains again.
The wraith laughed. “Your tenacity continues to astound me. We will be in Camelot soon enough. Then I shall deal with you.”
Without another word, the figure vanished into smoke. He hung his head and sighed.
-- --
Fandral didn’t know how long he had waited. The wraith had never visited him before, but something told him that wouldn’t be the last time he saw it that day. As long as Thor was on the case, he wouldn’t rest until the evil was destroyed.
Soon enough, smoke manifested before him, and the shadow returned. He looked angry.
“That Asgardian is truly insufferable...though I suppose that is in your nature. You’re the strongest will I’ve come across in my entire existence.”
It sounded like a compliment, but Fandral knew it wasn’t intended to be.
“Why are you here? Are you afraid you’re going to lose?”
His fake laughed, then frowned. It pulled its arm back and punched directly into Fandral’s stomach. The chains holding him taught collapsed as his torso jolted backwards. No longer being held up, his knees dropped and his wrists strained under his weight.
“You would do well to keep silent.” The wraith snarled.
Fandral’s eyebrow furrowed. “And if I don’t?”
A swift kick came next. The creature had to’ve been afraid because it kept throwing kicks and punches at Fandral. He wasn’t dying fast enough, and the wraith was running out of time.
It reached backwards into the darkness and smoke manifested a dagger.
“Do you know what this is?” It asked. Fandral eyed the weapon, but the metal was so dark he could only see the hilt. “This is the obsidian dagger. Or...not really. That dagger was destroyed long ago, but - that doesn’t mean this won’t do the trick.”
Before Fandral could react, the wraith punched the dagger into his side. He yelled out in pain as the blade stuck his organs.
Unfortunately for the Bloodwraith, he did get his chance outside again. The same white light pulled him out of his body shone above the two. The wraith dissipated in the light, blasting away into smoke. His arms and feet dropped as the shackles unhinged and he drifted up towards the real world.
This time he saw Loki first. He coughed into his arm and saw red spatter along his sleeve.
“Loki, this thing is killing me. I - I don’t know how much longer I can fight it. You need to cleanse the sword in the Brazier of Truth - in the church.” He looked to Thor as he appeared up the steps. “Only someone worthy can light it.”
Fandral started to black out before the mind effect wore off. He slipped back into the abyss, landing hard on the imagined floor. He weakly lifted his head, seeing the bloody dagger next to him. He reached over and grabbed the hilt. As he pulled the dagger towards him, a boot stepped from out of the darkness and onto the blade.
“Leave me alone,” Fandral said, pulling his hand away from the dagger.
“And I thought you enjoyed company. After all, you spend so much time with those pretty women...and men.”
“I would rather spend eternity with Malekith the Accursed than you.”
It chuckled. “Do you still not know what this is? Do you not know where we are?”
Fandral grabbed onto his side and slid up to his knees. He stared up at the creature before him - but it was more than that. He nodded slowly.
“I’ve known for a while.”
On one of the visits with Sir Percy and Dane, they divulged information to him about what the ebony blade does to people like him. When the blade accumulates souls, it begins to break the user's soul, depending on how many lives they have taken.
Fandral had a violent reaction - worse than anyone could have imagined. His physical being shattered. The man bleeding on the ground was a mere fragment remaining of the true Fandral. The abyss was somewhere deep in his mind, but the evil being was in control. The Bloodwraith was just another side effect of the curse.
The true Fandral couldn’t hear the fight going on around him. He didn’t know that the physical wraith was trapped in fear, or that Thor and Loki were being fighting his ‘evil self’ outside. Time didn’t pass, and everything was still. His imposter bent down to pick up the obsidian dagger and extended it towards Fandral. With a small shimmer it elongated until it resembled the ebony blade.
“Once you’re dead, there will be nothing left. You will be free of this prison, off in Valhalla with our kin...or maybe you’ll go to Hel, where you belong. Assuming a fragment of a person could even find their way to the afterlife.”
Fandral looked to the ground. He clenched his side, where blood spilled from his wound. He closed his eyes. It can’t end like this.
The ground shook vigorously for a few seconds, and his alternate staggered backwards.
“Fandral!” Thor’s voice echoed throughout the void.
His eyes shot open and he pushed himself up to his feet. He charged forward and yelled, running directly into the creature. He knocked it onto the ground, and he began punching its face over and over again.
“Give me my body back!” He shouted.
“No!” The evil form growled. With a large heave, it knocked Fandral off and rolled him onto his back. It raised the sword and held it over Fandral’s heart. “If I die, you die with me.”
Fandral’s eyes scanned the blade from hilt to tip slowly. Smoke billowed around him, wrapping around his limbs again. As the smoke tightened around his limbs, he clenched his fists. He refused to die a prisoner.
He firmly planted his feet on the ground. With the last of his strength, he pushed up off the ground with his arms, knocking the wraith back. When their bodies met at a V shape, Fandral felt the sword pierce his skin. As he continued forward, it pushed through his chest and completely out the other side. His palms caught the floor, and he hovered over the wraith, breathing heavily as his body processed being stabbed.
The wraith chuckled. “You don’t give up, do you? This is why you lost.”
Fandral shook his head. He sat upright, pulling the ebony blade from his chest. He felt his wound open like a watergate. “I haven’t lost. It’s like you said...if I die…” He gripped the blade hard. “You die with me.”
Raising the sword over his head, he mustered as much strength as he could and brought the blade down on the wraith’s neck. It’s head held to its neck by threads, but it stopped moving instantly. Fandral continued breathing heavily, resting his forehead on the sword. He pushed himself up to his feet to step over the corpse before him before falling flat onto the ground again.
As he blinked in and out of consciousness, a white blip could be seen in the distance. He lifted his head an inch off the ground.The spot flickered and swelled slowly. He reached one hand out and tried to drag himself forward. He cried out in pain and placed the hand over his wound instead.
“I’m so sorry, Thor,” Fandral whispered, his eyes losing focus. He finally gave in and let his eyes close.
His skin felt warm...then hot...and then boiling. His eyelids clamped tightly and he felt like something was escaping his body. What he couldn’t see was the room around him ruptured with thousands of particles, erasing the blackness from the void around him. The body and sword next to him disintegrated into dust.
The warmth around him died out as his body burst into particles.
-- --
Something rolled him onto his back. He was pulled up and his head rested in what felt like a palm. A hand gripped his side gently, near where he was stabbed. There was no pain there, but his bones ached severely.
“Fandral...please wake up…”
The voice sounded close - Fandral realised he was back in his own body. His face contorted strangely, but he couldn’t quite figure out how to make any of his muscles move.
“Th…hh...oo...r…” He breathed.
Thor pulled him closer, and Fandral’s eyelids slid open. He blinked and looked around, everything focusing on the man hovering above him. The worry on Thor’s face shifted to a sad smile. Fandral smiled until his gaze met with a giant red bruise on the other man’s neck. He reached up and gently touched the mark.
“Did I…?”
Thor shook his head, grabbing Fandral’s hand and holding it tightly. “No...I don’t think…” He glanced away for a moment before continuing, “Do you remember what I gave you the first day we met?”
Fandral glanced away and thought for a moment.
“An apple,” He said finally. “It was gold and you said, ‘this is an apple of everlasting life. If you eat this, you will never be alone because we can be friends forever.’”
Thor sighed in relief and pulled Fandral into a tight embrace.
“Oh Fandral, I missed you so.”
“I missed you, too,” Fandral sniffed.
Thor whispered, “Let’s get you home.”
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sassyseeker · 3 years ago
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Chapters: 1/1 Fandom: Dragon Age: Inquisition, Dragon Age - All Media Types Rating: Teen And Up Audiences Warnings: No Archive Warnings Apply Relationships: Female Lavellan/Solas, Female Inquisitor/Solas Additional Tags: datrickntreat, happy all hallows, for ktfrancebee, starring lanyla lavellan, slightly spoopy, Inspired By Over The Garden Wall, dragon age x over the garden wall Summary:
Lanyla Lavellan finds a house in the wood where a young Solas labors for a frightening spirit. Nothing is as it seems.
She awoke in a place where she had not gone to sleep. Not that sleeping had been a part of the plan for this night, not truly, this brilliant autumn night under the Hunter’s Moon. No. The wind had been playing a wild dance upon the boughs of the ancient trees, and the leaves were swept along to the rattling beat, the branches clacking in the wind. The air was like a storm, reaching under her skin, bringing her along until her heartbeat matched the rhythm and her breath echoed through in counterpoint. Though the windows were shut and the doors of the aravel locked tight, she heard the forest, wild and woken and calling, calling, under her skin like an itch, itching and the moonlight staining soft furs an iridescent silver.
The window, normally a heavy, stubborn thing, leapt open at the slightest push of her hand. And perhaps it was a pity that children have so many rules. Any observer might say that, between the rules about what to wear and where to go and at what volume one might say one’s prayers, certain things get lost, left behind, lessened and forgotten under the sheer weight of numbers. Yet our readers will soon learn, some rules exist for a reason. Perhaps it is not so great a sin to slip out of your covers in the middle of the night to watch the Hunter’s Moon rise over the ancient trees. Perhaps there is no real danger to lifting the window sash, letting the wild wind dance and play within the packed confines of the old aravel. But as the elf (not truly a girl any longer, yet not quite a young woman) slipped out of the window, there was one rule she ignored completely, a rule that mattered quite a lot.
Do not go into the woods at night.
There is no telling what you will find.
She was not the first to go into the forest, nor shall she be the last. There are always those that believe their only hope lies tucked in the darkened valleys and shaded hillsides of the wood, where unknown things still live and laugh and linger. Some of these travelers are fleeing from – starvation, abuse, a murderous step-parent - perhaps all three. And some are fleeing to – there are grandmothers who live in the woods, and hidden castles full of fortune, and magical gardens that bloom in the dark, gardens that offer wealth, health, fertility, love – although the astute observer will notice that the women who tend such gardens often possess none of these qualities themselves. There are stories in the woods, and songs left unsung, and the doors to the land of the Good Folk where you dance until your feet are bone and all that is left is dust. Yes, there are many things in the wood, and many reasons to travel there. But, for all that come back out again, there are a hundred tales left rotting under the carpet of leaves and stones. And if, by chance, you are one of the lucky few who live to see the sunlight, I promise you this – never again will you be quite the same.
And so let us learn a little more about this creature as she slips away from her camp, before she stumbles headfirst into our story. She is a pretty thing on the crest of adolescence, and her bones say she will one day be beautiful. One day, in a different place, there will be other stories told of her – of shining copper hair and far-seeing blue eyes, of love and heartbreak and scars on our skin and the burdens of an Inquisition. One day, in a different place, the spirits will spark emerald in the palm of her hand. One day, in a different place, there will be a different story – but that is not today. Today she is a girl-almost-woman and she follows the wind deep into the forest, where no wise Keeper dares to walk. And her name is Lanyla, of the clan Lavellan.
Lanyla awakes in a place that she does not know, staring up at the night behind the rattling branches. There are no stars – the moon blots them out, staining the ground bone-white, draining all color from the carpet of dead leaves. If there were stars, perhaps, she would know the way home - or if the moon would sink down where it hang at the perfect apex of the sky. The wind, which had called to her so playfully from the aravel, now whips along the ground, chills her bare feet, and sinks cold fingers through the weave of her thin sleeping clothes. This is no place to linger.
There are paths in the wood, as steadfast as the winter’s wind, and Lanyla finds herself on one of these. It stretches forward like a river and the bright moonlight casts shadows of things that seem more than simple branches hanging from the trees. And yet it was a path, and paths are things for a journey, patterns worn through a place that link one something to another. If so, the path is the surest way to find a tavern or a town or the way back to her clan. The paths of the wood, though having minds of their own, do not dare to deviate from their purpose too greatly. Follow one, and you are bound find something eventually, as Lanyla does. Though she walks for hours, the moon does not dip closer to the horizon, nor do the stars come out to guide her way. But just as the young elf begins to fear that her toes will turn white from the bitter wind, she sees something in the distance, pale and white in the heavy gaze of the Hunter’s Moon. It is a ramshackle cabin, listing heavily to one side, and the windows are as dark as the Void.
A shelter, abandoned. The floor inside is splintered, heavy with leaves and dust, and the door hangs crooked in its frame. Barrels and crates stand, silent sentinels along the mud-daubed walls, and, at the far end, a grate and a hearth and cold, dead ashes. A shelter, to rest until morning. She spends only as much time as she must outside, gathering leaves, then twigs, then sticks. Next to the hearth is a pile of logs and a flint that produces sparks after heavy persuasion. She bullies the door back into its frame so the wind will not creep its long fingers into her fire.
The hearth lights easily, as if happy to hold a flame. The small yellow tongues of fire lick cheerfully at the kindling, first the leaves, then the twigs, then the sticks, until even the logs are glowing sweetly, cherry-red embers flickering their soft shadows along the walls. Lanyla curls up, watching the patterns of fire and ash dance, soothing.
Then the door crashes open, and the cold wind snaps into the cozy confines of the cabin. “What are you doing?!” comes a shocking shout, a wail that whips throughout the room. “You need to leave here, now!”
It’s a jolt. A live shock. There is a man in the doorway, a boy, no, a man, and his eyes are blue, blown wide. “Leave!” he hisses, panicked. “She is coming!”
“What?” she shakes awake. “What-?”
“Leave!” His hair, brown, whips wild. “Leave! She-”
Da’Fen, comes a voice. It skips her brain. Shoots down her spine. Where is my little wolf?
“Hide,” the man chokes.
Lanyla sucks in a breath and looks around. Hearth. Stairs. Crate – closed. Barrel.
Barrel.
She dives and the stink of it makes her gag, overwhelming. The wood is rancid, twisted and oily. She learns why. Clunk of a bucket and eels – slippering, slimy, writhing over her hair, against her skin, spilling into the barrel. She muffles a shriek, bites her lip so hard she tastes coppery blood. The eels thrash all around her. She wants out, she wants out, she wants out-
“Little wolf, little wolf, who has been here today?” There are footsteps, she can feel them through her toes, pressed against the slick bottom of the barrel. There are footsteps and the voice – like smoke, like gravel, like a coming landslide.
“No one, Aunt,” the man says smoothly, and the soft scrape scrape of broom bristle against wood floor.
“No one?” says the voice, says the Aunt. “No one to be eaten tonight?”
“No, Aunt,” says the man.
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