Writer: Timothy Dumont Jr.
Co-writer: Crystal Ferguson

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Flashback 217: God-Rank -Indigo-

I was twenty-three when I earned my God-Rank. I was the second youngest person to earn their God rank; the first being Patrick at age 15.

I stood in front of my Father as he looked at me. He smiled and motioned for me to step forward. I had been waiting for this day even though I already knew what I would be God-ranking into. My power involved emotions; I could see and manipulate a person's emotions, but with my touch I could do all that, and create or destroy emotions as well. I was jumping right up to the top and becoming the Goddess of Emotions.

God-ranking was a rite of passage for most of us. We aspired toward it so we could find out where we ranked compared to our other classmates. Getting a rank could either give or take some power from the receiver, and very rarely did it ever leave them the same. It all really depended on what my Father decided was best, but most had a change to their abilities happen when they were ranked.

"Indigo, my dearest daughter, you have done well in proving yourself and you demonstrate incredible control over you ability, and that makes me proud."

I stood tall and proud like a daughter should. This was my moment.

"What doesn't make me proud is the relationship you have with Patrick. I've even heard rumors that you've joined him in his crusade to find an imaginary person. You spread rumors of a war that is going to be worse than the one we're in right now and you did all of this against my wishes."

My pride deflated like a popped balloon. How could I explain my feelings for Patrick? My feelings that had not been returned despite my best efforts. Everything my Father had said was happening started because I wanted to be noticed, but over time I realized that Patrick was speaking the truth and trying to save us from destruction.

"Dad, I didn't mean to disappoint you. Once I'm God-ranked then I'll be sure to make you proud."

"Or you could end up taking my rule right out from under me and giving it directly to Patrick." He slammed his hand on the throne's armrest, "You disobeyed a direct order from your ranking officer and your father. You have disgraced my name more than any has yet."

"But Father . . . " I felt the tears flow but didn't care, "I'm sorry."

"You have proved yourself to be capable of God-rank, that is true. So your rank shall be Goddess of Guilt, a title suitable for someone who has shamed their family so much."

I felt my powers slip away as I fell to my knees. I would no longer control all emotions, my control would center around guilt alone. Sadness at the loss of my ability built up in my chest and then slowly formed to anger. I pulled myself to my feet and smiled a dark smile at my Father.

The room became heavy with guilt. Some people burst into tears while others began tearing at their faces. I slowly intensified the feeling until everyone was trying to kill themselves over the guilt they felt. Except my Father. He sat there unaffected, like always. Our powers didn't work on our parents, something to do with protective powers through blood.

He stared at me angrily until the last person fell, "Are you done?"

I turned and stomped through the puddles of blood to the door, "I hate you."

I closed the door behind me and then fell to the floor in tears. How could he do that? How could my Father be so cruel? I thought he loved me, but I was nothing but a tool that had broken.

"So, I need a favor." It was Patrick and coming from across the hall.

I looked up at him, tears still streaming down my face, "Will it hurt my Father?"

"Yes. If I'm right, then it will do more than just hurt him."

I wiped the tears from my face, "You saw what happened in there?"

"No, but I did hear it. Your father is a very twisted man."

I ran up to hug him but he sidestepped, "Indigo, I can't ask anyone else to do this. I need your help."

I knew I would help him already. I wanted to make my Father suffer for destroying my powers like he did, "What do you need?"

"I need you to find someone willing to perform the needed spell so that I can go to the human realm. I think that's where Gilfred is hiding."

"I'll do it." I couldn't deny the request of someone I loved.

And I didn't care anymore.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Flashback 216: I Will Not -Indigo-

The first time I saw him I was twelve. I was the eldest daughter of the headmaster of the academy, and as such was always present whenever someone was given an award or a punishment. From when I was old enough to understand, I'd heard legends about Patrick; how he'd been the most powerful child in the academy, how even as a lowly Janitor he was able to proceed in raising his rank. I had always wanted to meet him, but my Father said that he was a very dangerous young man that talks of blasphemy.

"Step up, Patrick." My Father's voice echoed through the chambers.

His handsome features took my breath away as he approached the throne. He stood almost as tall as my Father and had piercing eyes. He stood there with a face lacking emotion, but it was very evident to me that he felt a deep hatred toward everyone in the room. I could see it flowing around him like a windstorm. The control he had over his emotions was unbelievable; like nothing I'd ever seen. He was everything the legends had said and more.

"You speak of a man while you work? Would you mind explaining yourself to me?" My Father was trying to make Patrick comfortable, but it would never work. Patrick had a whirlwind of anger that even my Father couldn't destroy.

"Sir, if you may, this is not why I'm here. I have other things to atten-"

"You will answer, Patrick!"

"Yes," Patrick was unaffected by Father's rage, "Gilfred is the only being that can stop Mardockt. I think people should know that for the coming war. We need to find him, only then is there any way to survive, sir."

At this point my Father's rage matched Patrick's, "Mardockt is dead and Gilfred is an old myth. You will stop spreading these falsehoods throughout the community. We have enough to deal with at the moment."

"I will not."

No one had ever said that to my Father. All my life I'd seen people walk up with an opinion or suggestion and the second my father denied it, they would nod and leave. That wasn't all. Anyone willing to go against my Father's orders was as good as dead, but Patrick had no fear. It was all anger and hatred that flowed around him; a red and yellow inferno that wouldn't be weakened by the presence of any threat.

My Father sat there staring at Patrick for a moment. Then he stood and walked in front of Patrick. He raised his hand back and then down toward Patrick's face. My Father was very strong, the strongest person in the academy and combined with his ability he was practically unstoppable. The force from that swing could end the life of any student. Right then, I knew that the legends of Patrick were over. I would never be able to speak to such an unbelievable person again.

I was wrong. All the anger and hatred that Patrick had flowing around him was absorbed into himself instantly, and I watched as my Father's hand was stopped by Patrick's wrist. A loud smack echoed off the walls and then silence took the entire room. There Patrick stood, his wrist holding back Father's hand while the rest of the people present stared on; shocked by what they'd just witnessed. Dumb-founded we watched as Patrick pushed my Father's hand aside and followed up with a swing that missed my Father's face by inches. My Father had been so shocked that he had waited till the last second to move.

"I'm sorry that you think force can make me agree with your views. It must be disappointing to find out that you can't control all your students like you used to. I don't understand why my talk of Myths and the dead could warrant such a response, but I'm sure you have your reasons. Now, I came here for a reason and I'd like to see the purpose through to the end. Unless you'd like to try again, but next time my retaliation will not miss." Patrick spoke with a smooth voice that was filled with strength, fearlessness and raw power. There was no one in the room who could doubt what they'd just witnessed and many of them were getting up to leave the room; something that I was considering at the moment as well. If my Father and Patrick began to fight then this room would become a war zone.

My Father composed himself and sat down in the throne, "Indeed we did. Let's proceed then."

My Father's anger was still raging around him, but Patrick had no emotion at all; not in his face, not in his aura. In fact, it was as though he was aura-less. His body was surrounded by clear air with no hint of feeling anywhere.

"Patrick, you have done much to prove yourself even after you'd been permanently ranked as a Janitor. As such, I remove the restriction and appoint you into a God-title worthy of your prowess. I hereby appoint you with the title: God of Death." My Father smiled a sly smile.

Patrick frowned, "Sir, that's still a janitorial position and is never permitted to leave The Other Lands. I beg you to reconsider and give me another post."

"You expect me to allow you to spread those lies to the humans from the other realm? You must be kidding. You've got what you wanted, you had your rank increased. Leave."

Patrick bowed, turned and then left. The people witnessing the ranking left shortly after leaving me, my father and his adviser alone.

"Sir. I think it was the wrong choice ranking him after that show of utter disobedience. You should have killed him right then." His adviser chose his words carefully.

"You think I didn't try?" My Father glanced in my direction and then back at his adviser, "He stopped me. He's less than half my age and he just brushed the hit aside."

"Shall I send the guards to pick him up?"

"They can't. We currently don't have any guards with enough poser to stop him. Right now we have him following our rules," My Father rubbed his cheek where he'd been nearly hit, "We don't want to provoke him to start breaking them."

The adviser noticed my Father rubbing his face, "Did he hit you sir?"

"No, but if he had then I would be leaving here in a casket."

Hearing that filled me with awe, fear and longing toward the only person who had made a lasting impression on me.


Thursday, December 15, 2011

215: Heart Vs. Fear -Andrew-

I found myself standing in the rain. Up ahead stood the one group of people that despised me more than anyone else. The Warlock stood off to the side, his head down with ears blushing red and Ben was wrapping Crystal in a blanket.

My job was simple. All I had to do was find Carl and his brother, then kill them. If this was the other me than I wouldn't have even hesitated, but I had escaped my prison. Indigo hadn't just devised this horrible situation just to get back at the brothers, but also to tell me where I stood. To her I was nothing but a human, an easily manipulated sponge that she would squeeze the water from until I was wrung dry.

"Daddy, I don't know what to tell you." My brain emulated my daughter's voice, "I don't want to go back in that place, but this is wrong."

I knew it was wrong but I had no choice. If I didn't go and do her bidding then I was lost; I would never have my mind back.

"Honey, what happens if you do it? What do you become if you do as she says?" My wife was always the stronger one, the one to ask the questions no one wanted to.

How different from the old me would I be if I did what she'd asked? Would I end up the same? A monster in the skin of a man. The only difference would be the hate I feel for myself, but after a while wouldn't even that fade away? The group up ahead had stood and were walking away. They were probably headed to the hotel they were staying at. As I watched them I noticed a kind of deep camaraderie that I had only felt when my life was simple, and my family was alive. If I did what she said, then I would be destroying another family, removing two important people and leaving the rest in ruins.

Up ahead a bus turned the corner splashing Ben, Crystal, Nick and Will.

When I was in the Other Lands I remembered watching them, studying their movements and learning their skills. I had gone to the museum knowing that I could beat them, only to find that everything I'd thought was wrong. This single group of people spit in the face of what was definite, almost as though they weren't held down by the rules that bound us all. None of them seemed very special, they weren't even the most powerful people he'd met, but something about them kept them going even against the power of Gods.

"Daddy, you're special too." Tears came to my eyes, and even though my mind was making up her words I was touched, "That mean lady can't control you if you don't let her. We can all choose to be different."

"Honey, we're with you no matter what you do. You've gotten us back, so we're here for you."

The bright headlights of the bus filled my vision and something in me fell together. Indigo and Patrick had caused me all this hardship, but this time I wasn't their puppet. Back then I was tortured and weak, unlike now when I'd faced death and lived. I was like those people I had studied. I was my own person, able to make my own choices and not be controlled by the greed and vengeance of Gods.

I stepped off the curb and turned to face the several tons of metal hurtling toward me. I held my hands up and screamed, "Indigo! Here's what I say to your request you manipulative, evil witch! Go to H-"

The bus collided with my body. I felt my skin rip open and my insides burst as pieces of me flew every direction. I heard a muffled scream as I hit the ground and slid in the mud. I was dying and the pain was incredible, but I'd felt worse. I had felt it for so long. Slowly the world blurred away and went black.

I was free. I was strong. I was special. I was dead.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Flashback 214: Adjusting part 4 -Christina-

I felt wetness on my cheek, touched it with my finger and stared at in confusion. It wasn't that I didn't know what it was, Samuel had told me it was called crying back when his mother died, but it had never happened to me.

"You cry because something you care about was lost," He had told me, "It's a way to help your body heal."

Maybe I thought I didn't need to heal because there wasn't much that could hurt me, but as I put my foot down again on the fay's face, I felt more pain than I'd felt my entire life. For the last year I'd spent my time with him learning to love, learning to adjust, becoming more human than God. For the first time I was starting to understand what happiness really was. Now as I cried, everything he did seemed so pointless; like a movie without an ending or a book with no last page. I felt there was more to be told, but key parts were missing.

Soon the rage slipped away, like water down a drain, leaving only emptiness behind. I felt my legs shaking and only had the strength to move near Samuel's body before I collapsed. I tried to look at his face, but just a glance was torture.

"Samuel," I lifted him up and pressed him against me, "Please, let this be a dream. I want to wake up. Please." My voice faded as I was overtaken by sobs.

A siren in the background told me that my time was up, so I laid him back down and bowed my head over him, "I swear," I slipped to fingers in to his wound, covering them with blood, "that I will find a way." I smeared the blood on my shirt, making a large, crude S, "I will be with you again."

I stood to my feet and wiped the tears from my cheeks, "And may God have mercy on anything that stands in my way."

The police car turned the corner as I got out of the area.

A week later, I had learned that about a year ago a fairy named Qaliphus had used Excalibur to revive every fairy that had died in the war and bring them into this realm. Carl and Melissa had both been trying to stop it, but ended up killing each other in the confusion. During the following year, fairies had been slowly and silently making their way toward complete human control, and anyone that had stood in their way was very quickly destroyed. Just like Samuel.

My hand grasped the final rock as I pulled myself up the side of Mount Ida, the final resting place of The Palladium. The Palladium was a large wooden statue that Athena had given to humans. They thought it was used to keep the city safe, but they didn't understand how. Only a few humans knew that.

I stood in front of a large cave opening; the entrance to the temple containing The Palladium, an artifact that could rewind time for the person, or persons touching it. There was nothing I could do now to bring Samuel back, but there was something I could have done then. I had to go back and fix it, only then would I be able to be with Samuel again. I looked down at my shirt, the S now a brown color, and remembered every moment of that day. Tears stung my face once more as I remembered my promise.

Stepping into the cave, I saw the statue sitting atop a shrine of gold and silver. It was unguarded, so I could just walk up and reach out to touch it. I knew it was unguarded because I had helped put it here. After I used it, I would be expelled and this temple would move to a place unknown; a final protective measure to keep humans from getting greedy.

My fingers touched the warm wood and I closed my eyes as the world around me blurred. I had to find Melissa, and then I would stop Qaliphus from bringing the faeries back. When I was done, I would fight no more. I would find Samuel and we would spend our days together, and be happy.

But first, I had to get my old sword Balmung back.

Flashback 213: Adjusting Part 3 -Christina-

"Hey, do you think you could go to the store?"

I laid the controller on the floor and pulled myself to my feet, "I guess. There's no more milk anyway." I stopped at the door as I grabbed my coat, "I think I'm going to grab a candy bar."

"Cookies n' Cream?" He stood and walked over to me. Placing his hands on my waist, he leaned in.

"Of course." I kissed him lightly and then slipped out the door.

As I made my way down the stairs I slipped on my coat. Almost a year had passed since he'd found me in that store and saved my life, but I still wasn't used to any display of affection yet. He was probably the only person that could get away with anything with out losing a limb, but normally even a hug put me on edge. I swooped down to grab an empty can off the street and looked ahead for a source of disposal. There it was, about five blocks away was a nearly full trash can that had just enough room.

Two children that I'd seen here before stopped to stare at me as they always did. I didn't like children and found enjoyment in making their jaws drop. At least it stopped them from staring. I pulled my arm back and threw the can with as much force as I could muster.

A loud boom was heard as the can zipped through the air, smashed in to the diamond grating of the trash can and stuck there. I glanced at the children and grinned at the way their mouths hung.

"Remember, pick up your trash." Then I turned and continued my way to the store.

I don't ever want things to be the way they had been at the academy again. I was never free to do things that I wanted to. I was trained to fight and never anything else. He had taken the time to teach me that the world wasn't just a terrible place where war ruled. He taught me to let my guard down enough to enjoy the world around me. He showed me a sunset for the first time and then taught me how to walk to the beach so I could see it again at anytime.

Video games. He gave me them so that I could relieve my anger in a way that wasn't a felony. I was a master at almost every one he put in front of me except Super Smash Bros. Brawl; I could never beat him in that no matter how many times I forced him to miss work so that we could keep going. He was right though, I didn't feel like punching anything that moved. I was even okay with people accidentaly touching me, and I didn't think of humans as lower than myself. In fact, I had come to realize that they had became the reigning species not because of an accident, but because they deserved it. I found myself feeling proud about their accomplishments, almost as if they were my own; as if I were human.

The shop owner was sitting outside of the store and as I approached he waved, "Well, how are you this morning?"

I returned the wave, "I'm just here to grab some milk and maybe some of those delicious candy bars of yours."

"That's good, I got a new shipment today. Just go inside, Darrel will take care of you."

I stepped in the store and walked to the milk. One thing I really loved about humans was the invention of air conditioning, which this place had neglected in purchasing. My candy bars were probably melted. I carried the milk to the front register and grabbed three cookies n' cream bars.

"Christina! Hey, How's the man?" That's what Darrel referred to him as, probably because they once played games together and Darrel was so bad that I had to look away.

" I think he's okay, he seems happy." I shrugged. Human emotions still confused me a lot. I could never tell the difference between happy and indifferent, but I tried to pretend I understood.

"Well, we should get together sometime. I've been practicing."

"Let me see your hands." I leaned over the counter as he raised his fingers.

The wear from playing games was nowhere on his fingers and not a single controller blister could be seen. I leaned back and laughed at him, "Not enough practice, but I'll see when he has time for you."

"Oh come on, you always say that."

"And you always lose." I grabbed the change from the counter and smiled as I walk past the store owner.

I enjoyed this life we'd made. I was smiling when we were together and peaceful when we were apart. I loved walking to the store and making dinner when I brought it home. My favorite movie at the moment was Mrs. Doubtfire, and I enjoyed the band Poets Of the Fall more than any other band out there. I didn't have to worry about having my life in danger at every moment of the day, which was more relaxing than I had thought it would be.

I turned the corner on to my street and I knew something was off. Ahead of me stood three people, a tall dark skinned man, a small child with a look of fear on her face and then there was him. He was defending the child. I knew it because that was the kind of person he was. He would do what ever he could to help someone and even some things that he couldn't do. He'd helped me because I looked like I didn't belong, and he didn't even crack a smile as I told him all about my life. He was the kind of person who was born to be the hero, even though he wasn't built for it.

The air was wrong. This situation was wrong, and as I dropped the milk to run over I noticed what it was. The man he was defending the girl from was a fairy and the young girl was anything but. As I raced toward him the girl lifted up in to the air, attached by a thin string of muscle to the man. It was its tail and he was their prey.

The tail grabbed him tight, restricting his movements and the fairy swung its arm straight through his chest. I was close enough to smell the blood, as the fairy raised the heart of the only person I truly cared about to his mouth and bit down.

"This one was good. Very . . . defiant, and strong. He was very tasty on my tongue." He hadn't realized that I was closing in, but he would soon.

The rage flowed forward, unlike anything I'd ever felt. In mere seconds everything that I'd learned had been torn to shreds in front of me. There was no amount of gaming that was going to release this tension. I knew of only one way to make the pain go away and I wasn't even sure if that would work. I felt empty and I filled the emptiness with rage. All the pain and suffering I was feeling slid along until it rested at the edge of my fist. For some reason I felt that would make my fist swing faster, hit harder; I felt that it would erase the emptiness once the rage was gone. I knew I was wrong.

"HIS NAME . . . " I was running full force as I pulled back my fist. The creature finally noticed me but it was very late, and it knew it.

I swung my fist forward with a force that left my ears ringing, "WAS SAMUEL!"

I felt the fairy's surprised face vaporize as my hand collided with its head. Fairy blood sprayed across the buildings along the street as the creature's body hit the ground. The tail screamed and tried to run, but was stopped by the weight of the body. I flicked my wrist, cleaning it of the blood and leaving a light, red stain in its place.

The fairy tail screamed as I crushed its head with my boot, but I didn't care. Samuel was dead.

Flashback 212: Adjusting Part 2 -Christina-

"A county is in mourning since early today when a school bus of forty-three children disappeared in thin air only to be found 2 hours later across state lines. The children were found dead inside and the bus driver had vanished. But that's not all of the unusual news today, as a you-" The radio was shut off and he pulled it from my grasp.

"You've been listening to that broadcast on repeat for the last hour." He flopped down on the bed next to me, "It's time for you to put it down and return to reality."

I watched him for a few moments and then smiled, "I guess I got distracted. Was there something planned today?"

He stared at me for a few moments before speaking. He did that a lot and at first it made me very uncomfortable, but lately I'd come to expect it. When it didn't happen I would feel weird and end up moving into his line of sight.

I guess he paused to think out his words beforehand because his questions always surprised me, "So, when are you going to start using my name?"

"I . . . I can't." I was an unsigned God but even they never called humans by their names, they usually came up with a nickname or just called them "you". Calling someone by their name signified equality, maybe even intimacy, and was very much frowned upon with humans, "It's not proper."

"We've been dating for two months." He rolled to look at the ceiling.

Dating was a very foreign word to me, even after I'd heard him using it so much lately. I knew what it meant and thinking about it made me feel flushed. Although we didn't talk about what we did when we were alone often, I always knew that he was thinking about it by the look in his eye or the way he smiles when he's deep in thought. I didn't understand why it was so important that I use his name, or why the fact that we're dating has anything to do with it. I reached over and pushed him off the bed.

A loud thump was heard followed by an exclamation of surprise and then silence. I waited for him to get back up but heard nothing. My heart leaped into my throat. Had I hurt him?

"Are you okay?" I leaned over, trying to see over the side of the bed to make sure he wasn't injured, "Say som-"

"HAH!" He sprung up at me, making me jump back in surprise and fall off the bed. As I untangled my limbs and pulled myself off the floor, he was laughing so hard that his eyes were watering. I grasped a pillow off the bed and smiled.

He looked surprised and ran for the door. He didn't make it, my pillow snagged him on the foot causing him to tumble into the living room. I went after him, snatching the other pillow off the bed. I turned into the living room and was met with a couch cushion in the face. My bottom hit the floor and he jumped at me, pushing my wrists down.

"Gotcha." He said breathing heavily.

He didn't have me. I could easily have thrown him off anytime I wanted, but that was the problem.

I laughed lightly, "Yeah, I guess you do."

"So, now I get one request and you have to comply." He grinned.

I bit my lower lip, thinking about all the things he could ask, "What is your request?"

"I want you to tell me about your past. I want to know why you were wearing armor and didn't know what a trash can was."

It wasn't what I had expected. I looked to the left, my eyes resting on a controller that had been kicked under the couch. I didn't want to tell him, because then he might go away. How many people have I killed? How many times have I done horrible things in the name of my academy? How could he stay around someone as horrible as me? I'm not worth his affection, and I don't even know what affection meant.

"Hey," He let go of my wrist and swiped a piece of hair away from my eyes.

I turned to look at him, but didn't say a thing.

"You have nothing to worry about. What ever you tell me, I'll stay right here. Then after you're done telling me, I'm going to take you to your favorite place to eat."

Looking at his eyes I could see sincerity, and for some reason I trusted him, "Okay. I'll tell you," He was about to move when I stopped him, "but don't go until I'm done."

"I'm not going anywhere."

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Flashback 211: Adjusting part 1 -Christina-

"Miss," He tugged at my armor for the fourth time, "Miss, could you grab that candy off the top shelf?"

He'd been tugging on my armor since I'd walked into the store, and immediately after I noticed that everyone was staring at me. I knelt down till I was eye level with the young boy and smiled, "If you like those fingers then you'll stop bothering me, okay? Now go ask your mom for help before I chop off those stubbly toes."

Very quickly his face transformed into a wail and I regretted not just helping the boy. His mother came running and pulled him away from me.

"What did you do to my boy? He never cries like this!" She stormed out of the store as I turned back to the newspaper. It had been a long time since I'd been put inside that jar and things had certainly changed. Most humans seemed even more mindless save for the few that I'd met before.

They were still squabbling over religion and killing each other for material possessions; barbarians in a suit. Feeling a tap on my shoulder I spun around grabbing my assailant and flipping him on to the stack of papers. I twisted his arm so it was under his body and then slammed my elbow into his gut.

"I'm not here to hurt you!" He cried, "I'm not here to hurt! Let me go!"

I released him and pushed him off the newspaper, "You shouldn't have come up behind me. Now go, I'm not in need of help."

"Listen, the manager of the store has called the police and they will be here any second. So, we kind of have to get out of here before they show up."

"I can kill them if they decide to attack me."

"I don't doubt it, but killing is really bad and will just make more show up. They're kind of like roaches, where there's one there's hundreds."

"Fine, what do you suggest?" I grabbed a newspaper and something called a RingDing.

"We le-" He stopped and slapped his forehead, "Too late."

"Hello, Miss? I think you should come down to the station with us." A person behind me spoke with authority. He made himself sound so important that a small giggle escaped my lips. I turned to see a small man with his hands on his hips. The only weapons seemed to be a large stick and a really small L-shape object.

"I'm really sorry officers." The man behind me stepped around to the front, "This is my mentally challenged sister an-"

"I am not your sister." I would not tolerate someone lying about me, "and what is mentally challenged? If I find out you're insulting me . . . "

The man looked like he'd just lost a fight, "You were not supposed to disagree."

"You lied, how is that disagreeing? I just told the truth."

The short man grabbed my arm, "Alright, your both coming with me!"

Elbow to face was my response. The man stumbled backwards, his hands holding his bleeding nose. I grabbed his right shoulder and spun him so he was facing the window of the shop. From there it only took a small kick to send him out the window.

"Holy Shit!" Two voices, the man that lied and the other "police" outside, who was eating a doughnut. The clumsy man dropped his doughnut in surprise as the short man flew out the window. Glass littered the ground and I heard some people scream behind me.

The man outside lifted up the L-shaped object and pointed it at me, he was shaking.

"Put your weap-" He noticed that I had no weapons and blinked a few times, "Come out with your hands up, both of you!"

Was raising the hands the new bow? I would never do that! I stepped out the window, one glance at the short man told me he was alive.

"Hands up! Now!" He was still pointing the object toward me.

The man who lied stepped down next to me, "You are a piece of work. I was trying to avoid something like this. Now please put your hands up before this only gets worse. You see what he's holding? It's a gun, it can kill you."

I knelt down and grabbed a small shard of glass, "Oh, it's a weapon." I flicked my wrist and a loud thwack was heard followed by a clattering noise as the gun fell to the ground.

"Oh, no." The man beside me put his hand over his face.

I slide up next to the police man as he reached for his gun. I grabbed his belt and lifted him in the air. A quick jab to the gut and he quickly went limp, "What? He was wielding a weapon. What was I supposed to do?"

I glared at the man as he reached for my arm, stopping him mid-grab.

"Lady, you need to follow me before more of them show up."

"You're very annoying with your demands."

"Yeah, I'm told that a lot. Now come on."

I followed him as he ran down the street and jumped a fence.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

210: The Church of Guilt -Andrew-

The inside of the church was elegantly furnished. The windows had curtains of black and red striped velvet, and the carpet was a deep shade of purple.

"Please, if you don't mind taking off your shoes before you walk in." Sister Victoria turned and looked at me, "God doesn't like her floors getting dirty."

I knelt down and slipped off my shoes, "So you think God is a she?" I was trying to make small talk. Something about this place didn't feel right, it felt . . . familiar.

"I know she is. Right now she's out, but soon she'll be back." Sister Victoria motioned for me to follow, "Please come and sit with the other Sisters."

The hallway opened up into a massive room with a high ceiling, too high for it to be the same building I'd seen outside. I was right, something was off about this place. It was bigger on the inside.

"I'm sorry, I just realized that there's something I need to do." I turned to leave, but was stopped when I saw who was standing in the hallway. I couldn't move my feet. My palms grew sweaty and I began to shake uncontrollably. She walked over to me and ruffled my hair, her hand warm and comforting. Her touch made me feel the happiest I had been in a long time, but when she stopped I couldn't stay standing because of the power of the returning emotions.

She knelt down to look at my face, our noses almost touching, "Aw, you remember me. That's sweet."

She patted my head as she stood up. My vomit from the assaulting emotions would stain her rug. I felt a warmth flow from down my thigh and wasn't sure what it was until I realized that I'd wet myself.

"Victoria? Please, stand him up." Her voice wasn't as sweet as it had been. It was all business and anger.

I felt Sister Victoria's hands lift me to my feet, "Yes, ma'am."

Through blurry eyes I watched her turn and wait until I was standing on my own. I reached up and wiped my eyes.

"Indigo." I growled.

She smiled cutely, "Oh wow, you even remember my name! This is getting better and better."

"How could I forget? You trapped away the parts of me I cared for the most. All because Patrick told you to."

"Patrick never made me do anything. He is searching for something and I am doing my best to help him find it. That's what you do for people you love." She grinned, "What am I saying? You wouldn't understand, you sacrificed your wife and child's memories just to feel better."

I was quiet because she was right. I had done that, it was all my fault because I was weak.

"Please, don't be angry at me. We had some good times, I thought we were friends." She pouted, "Oh well, I didn't bring you here to chat. This is business. I need you to do something for me."

"Why would I do anything for you?"

She motioned to the sisters who were standing in a circle around me, "For one, you won't make it out of here alive. My sisters are incredibly obedient, all they need is the word. Also, if you happen to get out anyway, then rest assured that what you've gotten back will be gone in seconds. You'll go back to the family slaughtering fiend you once were."

She walked over to me and frowned, "So here's what you're going to do, you know those people you just met? The ones who were with your dear, departed friend Vincent? There were two brothers, a tall one and a not so tall one. A long time ago, we met and they had the most delicious guilt, but they were after my head. I had them right where I needed them to be. They're pain was exquisite . . . but then the small one did something unexpected. His will was . . . like something I'd never felt from a human before. He broke free and stole something of mine, rendering him and any of his direct blood relations unaffected by my charms." She stomped her foot, "That stupid, little, rotten . . . he is why I'm even here, I have much more important things to do. I saw his brother on the television and the small one isn't ever far behind."

"So you want me to steal it?" I frowned, "You do know that they HUNT your kind? They've killed a God right in front of my eyes. I hear that just the small one alone stood against 20 or so zombies and survived. Also, judging from the news, I think Patrick poked one of their buttons too much. Going against their band of misfits is not just stupid, it's retarded."

"I don't want you to steal it back. I don't care about it anymore. I want you to kill the brothers and, while it's touching that you're worried about me, I won't be the one doing it. You will, and you know all about them."

"No. I won't do as you ask. They have an incredible warlock, and even a clairvoyant. Do it yourself and see for yourself. I go in there looking to kill some of their crew and I'll be wiped out. They already hate me."

She touched my chin, making my knees crumple when she removed her fingers, "Oh Andrew, did you think I was asking? No, no . . . I didn't even say please."

"Please, you're killing me."

"I'm commanding you, kill the brothers and if you feel like being on my good side, then you'll bring back what they stole. If you can't . . . "

She smiled a devilish smile, "Then I'll ask the other you instead."

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

209: Rash Choices -Crystal-

Guilt. No matter how far you run, it's always there. I killed someone today and it wasn't an accident. I went there wanting him gone, and left before they could put him in a body bag. I didn't feel bad that he was gone. It was like a large zit had been removed from the side of the planet, but I did feel bad that I had been the one to do it. I had erased someone's life with my own hands.

According to Saba, she had stopped Ben from killing because she didn't want him to become a monster, so what was I? I looked at my hands, wet from the rain that hid my tears of guilt. Was this how life was supposed to be? Only a year ago I was sitting in my bedroom playing with Malibu Barbie, my biggest worry being whether or not Ken would be on time for their date. Now my hands were stained with the invisible mark of a cold-blooded killer.

I put my hands under the run-off from a nearby gutter. Maybe I was trying to remove the past few hours; the past few hours that I barely remembered but knew the outcome of.

"Nothing can remove what you're feeling." A voice spoke up from behind me, "Well . . . almost nothing."

I turned to see a girl with black hair smiling at me, "Who are you?"

"My name is Indigo, the Goddess of Guilt and you look like you need to relax." She reached out and touched my wrist.

The guilt and pain faded away instantly. I felt good, I'd done what was needed and it turned out okay. I'm not sure how or what I did, but it sure made me happy. I smiled at the girl and then she let go.

I fell to my knees as sickness overtook me. The guilt flooded back as if a dam had been removed. I wretched on the ground as the memories came crashing back. I shakily pulled myself to my feet.

"What if-" Indigo stared at me, "What if I could get rid of your guilt? You certainly have a lot and much of it involves an old nemesis of mine, as well as a good friend. I think it's safe to say that you have more burdens than a young girl as yourself should hold."

She touched my hair and put her hand on my shoulder, "I can remove it all. Erase all the guilt. If you want."

Tears burst forth, "I didn't mean to. He killed my Daddy and I was just so angry. I was very, very angry. I wouldn't have ever done it. Oh God, I killed him."

She wrapped her arms around me and held me close, "Lucky you found me then. Just say the word and it's gone."

I looked into her eyes, hypnotized by the depth of them.

"What do I have to do? Please help me.", and the world went black.

I woke up a while later wrapped in a blanket and staring at Nick's face.

"Crystal? Talk to me."

"Nick. Nick, I feel funny."


Then I leaned in and kissed him. A deep, long, guilt-free kiss.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

208: Delayed Heartache With A Dash Of Betrayal -Melissa-

A pain blossomed deep in my heart as I became self aware once again. I slowly felt my energy returning; building till it could reconstruct my body again. Heartache stung as memories I'd never had before came flooding back as though they'd always been there, hidden behind a thick veil of false assumptions and hidden connections.

Qaliphus couldn't be dead. The first connection I made as my mind formed itself again was that his name had never been evoked. A fairy could only be destroyed by having their name evoked at the time of their destruction. Something that had never happened that horrible moment several years ago when my heart was torn to pieces and I'd lost everything.

Now I had to endure the same painful horror as the few good years of my life were colored black with sinister deception. The love that I'd felt from him never was. The feelings of safety, those last few moments that we'd had before he'd put his plan into action.

As my eyes formed, so did the tears. They fell directly to the floor because my cheeks had yet to reform themselves. I remembered his face as I looked at him dead, but I also remember him pushing the child in front of the car maliciously. Two memories clashing for dominance in the battleground of my mind; one laced with betrayal and the other grief. He looked at me with a soldier's eyes and told me that I would only get in the way. He told me I wasn't a true fairy. His magic seared my memories away and replaced them with lies. I felt him melding my mind so I wouldn't go looking for answers, so I wouldn't realize the inconsistencies inside my own past.

I fell to my newly formed knees as the image of him brutally murdering that child, our friends, with a smile on his face. To him he was working for the rest of our kind and I was a liability. I told him that I was happy there. I told him that these humans were our new family and he realized that I wouldn't help him with his plans.

How long had he been planning it?

I stood and glanced back at my wings as they formed, stretching out from my back purple and ending with light blue tips. I was haunted all at once by the face of people I'd killed, because I thought it was the parents' fault that the child had died. My hand flew to my mouth when Carl came to mind.

I loved Carl like a son, but discarded him when he tried to tell me what I had neglected to see. I sought out a pliant slave, but what I'd needed was exactly what Carl had given me. Qaliphus' deception caused so many people so much pain, and now he was planning something much worse. We were the last fairies alive, so there was only one option. He needed to bring the rest of our kind back to life.

I gasped. More heartbreak. This had been his plan the entire time, since we were forced to come into this world from our own. We could have hidden. We could have stayed there and never bother with this place, but this was the home to one of the most powerful artifacts known to man. Excalibur.

A weapon forged for a king long since fallen. Filled with fairy power and able to unleash devastating magic, it was the only thing that had enough power to reform all the fairies we'd lost in battle. He knew it was here, and that's why we ran to this realm. He's still fighting the Gods and now he's going to bring all the fairies here, to a world filled with beings I'd come to love. This war would tear the realm to shreds.

Ben and Carl. I needed their help. I leaped into the air and looked around. I had reformed inches away from a blonde girl wearing a black and white hoodie, with ears staring at a small object that kept flashing images across the front. An I-pad, I believe.

"I was waiting for you to reform. It's been almost a week." I knew that voice and was taken by surprise.

"You're that blonde bitch!", I went to fly off, but then realized something, "Wait. You can help me."

Her eyes never left the screen, "With what?"

"We have to warn Ben. Qaliphus is bringing my kind here, he's going to restart the war."

She was silent for what seemed like forever. I stared at her face as the light from her I-pad flashed across her face.

"Well?", I asked after twenty minutes had past. "Am I on my own?"

"YES!" She jumped to her feet, a large smile on her face, "Finally reached level 15 and got the ring of +7 fire resist!"

I was so surprised I fell back on my ass, "Wh-what? Are you okay?"

She looked at me finally and I could see the anger in her eyes, "Fine. Let's go warn him, but we need to be fast. I only have about 2 more hours of battery and if this shuts off, I lose everything that I've gained in the last hour. Oh, and one more thing."

She was like a different person.


"My name is Christina. Don't call me a Blonde Bitch or I'll cut your wings off."

Some things don't change I guess.

Monday, October 31, 2011

207: Sanity -Saba-

"You won't survive this. Let me out . . . I can protect you."

I shook my head as I ran down the hall away from the horrible, young child that Will had left for me to keep an eye on. The girl claimed that she was Crystal's sister, but it was an obvious lie. When we were alone I called her on the lie and she just flipped out.

I heard the teeny explosions as people looked out to find what the noise was, only to have their heads removed from their bodies. Whoever this girl was, she had immense power and was a danger to everyone. I glanced back to see her slowly walking down the hall behind me.

Behind her, the hallway was a mess of blood and brain matter. As the girl stepped on the rug little splashes of blood splattered on her and the walls. Her face was in a state of ecstasy as though she was getting her fix off every head that explodes in her presence.

"I can't let you out. I'll never get you back under control. You could hurt the people I care about."

More explosions. A family of four becomes a family of none.

"I thought we came to an agreement?! You're going to die unless you let me take over."

The other me was right, and I was running out of hallway. I pushed open the door to the stairs and quickly made my way down.

"The only agreement we came to was keeping Ben safe. This isn't affecting Ben at all."

I was halfway down the second set of stairs when the door above flew off its hinges. I could hear steps down the stairs as I finished the second set.

"Wow." Her voice was childish and malicious, "Being around you makes it easier for me to get the pieces I need. I wonder what it'd be like if I could just get inside your head."

My foot caught on a step and I tumbled down the stairs. An attempt to stand was met with extreme pain through out my entire leg.

"If you're dead, then you can't protect Ben. If she reaches us before you stop being stupid then we're dead . . . you have to know that. Just . . . give me control."

No choice. No choice but to let her be in control. She could help.

I looked at the top of the stairs and my breath caught. There she was staring down at me like a hungry beast at their next meal. She was terrifying, powerful, small, fragile . . . dead.

"It's about time you caught up to me." I smiled my signature dark smile, "I've always wanted to know what it'd feel like to wear a child's skin."

She paused, "Well, this is different."

Her face was what I concentrated on. It was an expression that was the best part of being a monster. The only emotion I felt was the right one to be expressed toward me. This girl was scared.

"Mmmmm." I pulled myself up ignoring the pain in my leg, something the other me could never do, "All this violence is making me tingly in places children your age shouldn't know about."

"What are you? Why aren't you terrified of me anymore?", she pulled herself together and the fear disappeared.

"I eat your type for breakfast . . . " I winked, "Literally."

I stepped up the stairs toward her, and she took a step back. I could see that she was weighing her options. I had completely surprised her.

"When they sent you up here to me, did you expect someone fragile and weak? Ben's much smarter than that. He didn't send you to me because of my weaker, more humane," I spit, "self. I'm the reason he left you here. So let's start with what you are."

As I made my way up the stairs I could tell she wasn't sure what to do, but I knew she understood the trouble she was in.

"I'm very old and much stronger than you." She obviously believed that, "I've been around for as long as humans have existed, maybe even longer."

"You aren't telling me anything of importance." I took a deep breath of the blood scented air, "These are your last moments, the least you could do is be more open with me."

Red flooded the front of the girl's dress, but she didn't scream. Instead she looked at me and smiled, "You want me to be more open? Well, how's this for being open?"

With that the girl's body burst open and fell to the floor. Standing in her place was a tall red-headed young woman completely nude and covered with blood. It was my turn to be put off guard by this unusual transformation.

"Ahh, so I've collected enough pieces to manifest my true form." She looked at me with eyes that I'd seen many times. She was an unsigned Goddess. One of Patrick's kind. I suddenly felt completely outranked.

"I'm not unsigned. I passed with flying colors and was signed." She smiled and bowed, "I'm the Goddess of Memory, or at least I was until they locked me away."

In a second she had me against the wall with her hand at my throat. Her strength was amazing, more so than even Bob had exhibited. I could feel her fingers biting into my neck.

"Sex-y." I smiled at her, "Why don't you and me find a room somewhere? I'll teach you how to scream with out making a sound."

Her grip tightened, "All I need from you is the piece I'm missing." She put her other hand on my forehead and after a few moments her face became quizzical, "You- don't have it. Why don't you have the piece I need?" She slammed me against the wall, "What are you?!"

I had trouble talking, "Let's play . . .", I coughed the words out slowly, "some show and tell."

My weaker self was screaming at me to stop making her mad. I took her advice in to consideration long enough to spit in the Goddess' face. She tossed me down the stairs in response. I hit the floor and slid in to the wall.

"You are not important to me if you are not in possession of what I seek. You can leave with your life.", she turned to walk away, but I wasn't having that. I called upon the dead, urging them to wrap themselves around the door she'd kicked down earlier.

"STOP!" She did, and slowly turned around.

"You are just asking for me to kill you." She tilted her head, "Or could you be trying to save the people of this hotel?"

That question made me very confused. I could just let her go, she wasn't a threat to me or anyone I cared about right now. Why was I stopping her? That's when it hit me, I was losing control. I took a deep breath of the disgusting air and all I wanted was Ben to hold me.

A loud clang was heard behind the Goddess as the door fell to the ground. My powers had faded because the evil me was deep within. I fearfully looked at the red haired Goddess and gave my best fearless face.

"You're a big meany-head."

She started laughing. She laughed for about 2 minutes and then her laughter turned to screams, "NO! . . . agh . . . urgh . . . I need more pieces . . . I need a body to hold me."

Her eyes fell on me and I felt a cold chill.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Flashback 206: Humanitarian -Kelly-

"You are hereby banished from these lands for the crime of loving a human. You are to never return and your powers will be stripped away from you until I judge you worthy."

I stared at my brother's angry face and saw no change, "But . . . I'm your kin. You can't do this to me!"

"In addition, for the murder of the high priest and priestess, from this moment on no living being will be able to return you any affections. Until your punishment is complete you will spend your days alone."

Pain tore through my body as my powers were ripped away. It was like five thousand needles were inserted in to my body and then shot with massive amounts of electricity. I fell to my knees gasping for air. I grasped at air with my hands toward where my brother stood, "It was an accident. I had no idea. Please, don't."

"Kelly," His voice was cold and heartless, "it was our parents; you killed our parents. So let me tell you this plainly. I don't care if your punishment ends. If I ever see you again, then I'll kill you dead. You will NEVER have your powers back."

He stood and motioned to his guards who grabbed me by the shoulders and dragged me to the portal's opening. Jason was the high priest now, having taken the spot upon the death of our Father. His wife would be the priest and I would be discarded and forgotten, a painful memory that he would force in to hiding until it became relevant. That was the way of the Succubi and Incubi. The way of my people.

They tossed me through the portal as if I were a child.

I felt the car smash in to my side and the air whooshing past as I flew in to a ditch at the side of the road. I felt the pain and knew I was injured, but being inhuman granted me a certain amount of endurance that was much higher than that of normal mortals. I would live, if I didn't move.

"Oh my . . . call 9-1-1! I hit someone!" The voice was male.

"Will . . . is she going to be okay?" Female. Probably a mate.

"Not if you don't make that call." I heard scuffles as the male made his way down the slope to me.

"It's going to be alright." He breathed, "We're getting help."

Humans were so different from my people. My people have stayed the same for thousands of years, unchanging in their habits, abilities and beliefs, but humans are constantly changing. Long ago they were too weak to battle against us, so all the prominent families had their own human settlements to feed from when needed, but now humans had grown stronger and broken away from our control. My people are heartless and cold toward a person of another species while humans had the ability to escape the confines of their raising, and show affection for someone or something different than them.

The cold of the night air was replaced by the warmth of the ambulance and then the cool of the hospital A/C. The sensations were too much and the pain was making my vision blurry, so I closed my eyes and slept.

When I awoke I was looking up at the face of the man that saved me. Beside him stood a young woman and a small child, both of them looking very concerned. The child had tears in her eyes but started smiling once I started moving.

"You shouldn't move much. The doctors say that even though you were very lucky, you shouldn't move much. You did quite a bit of damage to yourself."

"Where am I?", I glanced at the window but it was closed and the blinds drawn.

"You're at the hospital. You ran in front of my car. I thought that I'd killed you."

"What's your name?"

"Will. William Melahn."

"William." My love's name had been William as well. I expected worse to have become of him, seeing as he's the one that dealt the killing blow to both of my parents. "You saved my life. I think I owe you."

"I was the one that hit you with my car. I'd call us even."

I sat there powerless and injured, staring at the face of a man who had the name of my parents' murderer. Yet for some reason I felt calm, peaceful and safe. I felt . . . human.

I never expected to have anything to do with the Other Lands again.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

205: Hartman Tribe -Alice-

I stood there frozen in place as I heard movement all around me getting closer. The Black Baggers were hunting me and I didn't know what direction they were coming from.

I was still in the garden, but my back was against a stone wall with pathways leading to my left and right. On the other side of the plants in front of me, I could hear the Bagger that I had escaped from trying to pull at the plants. For the moment they were holding, but I couldn't be too sure how long they'd stay that way.

From both directions I could hear movement now. I was trapped with out any way to defend myself.

Why had I agreed to this? Had Ben known it would be dangerous? If so, he didn't say anything. I shook my head. No. Ben wouldn't have done that, he wouldn't have put me in danger intentionally unless he had no choice.

The screaming started up again as they got closer. Any second now they'd be visible in the pathway, and soon after they'd get to me. I sat staring to the right, waiting for them to appear.

"Hey!", I felt something hit the top of my head, it was a rope made of sheets. Glancing up I saw a guy's head looking out a window.

"Are you going to stay down there and let them get you, or climb up?" There was sarcasm in his voice, but I ignored it as I grabbed the sheet-rope.

Just as they started pulling me up The Black Baggers appeared in my pathway racing toward me.

"Pull faster!"

"We're pulling as fast as we can!"

I swung my foot out and caught a Bagger in the face as it got close. It fell back, causing the ones behind it to trip into a mess of black bags, arms and legs. When the next group of Baggers got to me, I was too high for them to reach. I grabbed the windowsill and pulled myself inside.

Inside the room stood the guy that helped me and four people. There was a young woman with a young child, a tall, fat guy who was lying on the bed looking at the ceiling, and another tall guy that wasn't as fat as the last, but had some weight on him.

The one who helped pointed to the young woman and child, "This is Stephanie Berthiaume and her daughter, Emily.", he gestured to the one that was lying down, "That's Alex Kayser, and finally this is Vincent Smith. He joined us just right before you did." He held out his hand.

"And I'm Jason Hartman."

Monday, October 3, 2011

204: Her Scent -Sara-

"Nick, did you see her face? I've never seen her like that." The shorter one pulled himself from the floor.

"What do you expect? That bastard Patrick killed her father. When I get my hands on him . . . " The tall one was already standing. I could feel energy flowing off him, massive amounts not normal for a human.

"We can't worry about that right now. We have to find Crystal before she does something that will get her killed. We don't know how long we've been out, so she could be any-", he stopped talking as he stared at the television behind the counter.

"We interrupt our scheduled programming for an important announcement," The television blared, "Millionaire Patrick Bernauw was killed about an hour ago in a horrible terrorist attack that left 2 guards injured and 7 in a coma. A small explosive was detonated in the bathroom while Patrick was showering, and as of right now the police have no leads."

"Ben, why do I get the feeling this has something to do with Crystal?" The tall one was very pale.

"Shit. We have to get to her now." Ben thought for a second and then pointed up, "You go get Will and Kelly. We'll need the Taxi. I'm going to keep watching to see if they turn up anything. Once you get back down, we'll find her."

The tall one ran for the stairs and I stepped forward. The closer I got to these people, the stronger her scent. It was the smell of completion and I wanted it more than anything. I stepped up to the short one called Ben.

"Uh, Sir?" I tugged at his shirt, "Sir, do you know a Crystal Ferguson?"

He looked down at me surprised, "Yes, have you seen her?"

I smiled my sweetest smile, "No sir, but I want to really bad. I miss her so much."

He watched me cautiously. What had this person been through that made it difficult for him to trust a child? It didn't matter. If he got in the way then he'd die like the others.

"How do you know her?"

I grasped the corners of my dress and curtsied, "I'm her sister. Nice to meet you." I had said it just as several people, including the tall one, came down the stairs. All of the people around wore shocked faces as I looked into Ben's face.

"She . . . uhm . . . " Ben glanced at the tall one as if asking for help, "She never told us about you. She's . . . not here right now, but we're going to get her. Would you mind waiting for us in our hotel room? Where're your parents?"

"My parents went to get me lunch. They told me to find her room and wait there."

Ben turned toward one of the other people; the one with the beard, "Will, take her up to the room. We'll be waiting for you in the car."

"Ben her story doesn't add u-"

"Leave her with Saba to keep an eye on her. We don't have a lot of time." I couldn't help but notice the way he emphasized Saba. I hadn't fooled them, but I would see Crystal eventually and if this Saba person was any trouble, then I'd have no trouble killing her.

"Hey, there. My name is Will, please come with me." I took his hand and we headed up the stairs together. I could tell he was tense. He didn't trust me at all. In fact, by the way he kept glancing at me, I could tell he was trying to figure out what was going on.

We passed a soda machine as we traveled down the hallway and he looked at me, "Would you like a drink?"

"No thank you, mister. I just want to be complete again."

203: Guilt -Andrew-

The streets of the city were torture to walk through. Everything reminded me of my wife and child, the victims of my warped mind. Every noise brought back a memory that I wish I could forget. but knew that I didn't want to.

The others had been very clear about where they wanted me. They wanted me anywhere but near them, and Carl had been the one to make it the clearest. I winced as I lightly touched my bruised face. I deserved their scorn; I deserved more than I'd gotten.

"Sir, are you alright?" It was a young nun that had just walked from a nearby church.

"I'll never be okay, Sister. Better you just leave me alone.", I continued walking.

"God can help." She caught up to me and grabbed my sleeve, "Come inside and talk to me."

"God . . . ", my mind settled back on the memories of Hell. I could almost feel the amounts of pain I had endured again as I remembered the whips and brands, "God has no place for me. I've done so much. I've ruined so many lives. I destroyed people I care about just to feel better."

"They'll forgive you, and so will God." She put her hand on my shoulder, halting me.

"What if some of them can't forgive me?" I fell to the steps of the church and put my face in my hands, "Not long ago, this didn't bother me. I used to be able to forget about the guilt. I could ignore the pain."

She sat down next to me.

"But I can't anymore. Now the guilt and pain floods my soul, it reminds me of their faces and compares them to better times. A constant reminder that I did it to them and that I can never go back. I can never undo what I did. Forever I'll be haunted by this pain."

"That's part of the glory of being human. God gave us guilt so we could learn how to treat others." She turned my face toward hers, "Maybe God gave you back your guilt so you can return to him; so you can stop treating others the way you have."

"Sister, I don't mean to be rude, but if there was a God than he'd have done something already. The only person that gave me back my guilt was myself. Don't talk as though you understand! You've never killed anyone."

She paused as though not sure what to say. She smiled and grasped my hand while standing, "Come inside with me. Maybe I can show you God's forgiveness and help you move on."

I was pulled to my feet and directed to the front doors. I hesitated before stepping over the threshold, because I was scared of being smote for entering God's house.

The doors closed behind me and the young nun turned to me, "I am Sister Victoria, and I'd like to welcome you to The Hicks Church of Christ."

Something told me this was a bad idea, but I was desperate. I needed to get rid of this pain that filled me. I pushed the feeling aside and followed Sister Victoria deeper in to the church.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

202: Black Baggers -Alice-

The grass beneath my feet felt cool and comfortable as the world around me came to focus. I found myself standing in a grove of trees outside of a massive building that looked like something out of ancient lore.

Ben had tried to explain everything and had told me how important it was that I find Alex, but now that I was in the Other Lands, everything seemed vibrant and interesting. Every sight tugged on my curiosity and filled me with awe.

The Other Lands seemed like Earth before humans covered most of the globe; natural and filled with a beauty not seen in many years. The large building I was next to didn't stick out against the natural beauty, instead it was built specifically to emphasize the world around it. I stared at the massive structure, my eyes following the flowing terraces and the columns that lined the walkway to the entrance.

The more I stood there looking, the more I noticed the silence of the place. The more I noticed the silence, the more unsettling it became. There were no noises from within this giant building. The air of abandonment was very evident as I stepped up to the entrance and read the words above it aloud, "The Academy." My voice echoed off the walls of the building.

I pushed on the heavy oaken doors and was surprised that I didn't flow straight through them. For the first time since I'd gotten here, I noticed that most of my ghostly properties were gone. I was still slightly translucent, but I couldn't travel through solid objects like I could on Earth. Here, I could feel my mortality, while on Earth I lacked the feeling of being alive. I knew as if by instinct that I could die here and I shuddered to think of what happened then.

The doors opened easy, swinging wide and slamming loudly against the walls. Stepping into the hallway, the first thing I noticed was the mess. It looked as though a battle had taken place inside this building, complete with broken furniture and dark brown bloodstains splattered on the walls. The place became intensely more creepy on the inside, but I was still led by my curiosity.

The door opened into a hallway and that hallway opened into a large courtyard. The plants of the courtyard had become overgrown, making it difficult to see across to the other side. The paths had survived the overgrowth, leaving natural hallways with walls of dense plant life. The sight was as breathtaking as it was disturbing. No one had been through these halls in many years. No one had been here to take care of the garden or clean up the place.

I climbed over a fallen archway and made my way down the path behind it. After a few minutes, I found myself staring at a tall, naked man standing in the middle of the walkway. The man was very pale and thin; skin hanging on his bones like clothes on a clothesline. His face was completely covered with what looked like a black, plastic bag tied tight around his neck. Even as I approached, the man didn't move. He just stood there, his arms slack at his sides and his head tilted as though looking at the floor.

I was terrified by the sight of him. He stood there still and silent, his chest not even moving to draw a breath. I pushed myself against the walls of green as I squeezed past, never taking my eyes off his thin frame. Who ever and what ever it was had left me utterly shaken, forcing me to increase the distance between me and it. I quickly turned my back to it and continued down the pathway.

I had made it about ten feet when a noise behind me made me freeze. I felt the blood drain from my face and my heart leap into my throat. I stood quietly listening for any sounds of movement. Hearing nothing I slowly turned around, and found myself staring at the black-bagged man. He stood three feet behind me unmoving again. He was facing in my direction, his head tilted like a curious child, though it was anything but endearing. The shock of him being so close nearly made me scream, but I grabbed my mouth. I fought to keep it in, fearful that if I did scream, what ever this thing was would hear me. The silence of the courtyard filled my ears as I sat there staring at the naked man.

Then it moved.

Slowly it stepped forward, so slowly that at first glance you would have never noticed. Even though the black bag kept me from seeing its face, I could tell it was staring at me. I began to crawl backwards, desperate to get away from the horror of its presence.

The further I moved away, the faster the black-bagged man moved. I spun to my feet and began to run, no longer trying to be silent. Fear filled me as I heard its heavy footfalls behind me. It was running too. I didn't glance behind me knowing that it was only a few feet away.

To the right near the ground I spotted an opening in the plants and dived through it. I pressed myself against the opposite wall as the man's arms stretched through the opening toward me. It tried to pull itself through the small opening, but soon quit trying when it realized it was too big. I breathed a sigh of relief. The relief didn't last long.

An ear-splitting scream, like something from the depths of Hell exploded from the pathway the creature was on. The sheer volume of the sound caused the sudden onset of a painful headache. When the sound had faded away another sound took its place. From all directions, the sounds of distant muffled screams slowly filled the silence.

This place was infested with these black-bagged people, and now they were all looking for me.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

201: Visible Lies -Crystal-

"Speak fast." I held the grenade ready to throw as he stood up.

"Let me collect myself." Patrick had an unsettling calm as he spoke. The anger from before was gone and replaced with confidence, as though he'd gotten control of the situation again. He didn't need any "collecting", he was stalling for time. He was going to lie.

"Vincent was a soul trapped inside that of a bear. Once the bear is destroyed his soul is no longer trapped there and can go find another, more suitable body."

The venom dripped off the lies as he spoke. He didn't even try to hide it. The anger that had been put aside so that I could possibly find a way to bring Vincent back filled me again.

"I can tell you a way to follow his soul from his remains to where he is now, but you need to put down that grenade first." I had to admit he was a good negotiator. If I didn't know that he was a filthy liar I might have done what he wanted.

"Fine." I tossed the grenade into the room he was standing.

Patrick's face went from calm confidence to fearful urgency in seconds. I had never felt a more gratifying moment in my short life. Patrick ran toward the door, but my heel between his eyes stopped him with a crunch of cracking bones. He fell to the ground and I ran. I'd gotten only a short distance away when the explosion shook the entire building. I ducked around a corner and covered my head as pieces of burning wall and shrapnel metal flew past. As the heat faded, the scent of burned flesh hit my nose.

I stood and made my way back down the hall to where I could see Patrick's burned, bleeding and unmoving body. I knelt and felt for his pulse.

There was none.

Something inside me cracked. I had killed someone. I had taken the life of another in a fit of anger and it scared me. This wasn't who I was. I didn't want this new part of me, I wanted it to go away. It had turned me into a murderer; a monster. I felt tears stream down my face as I stood and walked from the building.

I didn't want this.

Friday, June 24, 2011

200: Fatal Shadow -Unknown-

It took me three hours and twelve people to find the exact location of Patrick, and I won't lie; some of those people would have trouble walking for a while. I wasn't cutting corners. I wasn't taking chances. I knew better. You make a mistake or take a shortcut and you're dead. The only thing you can do is be one step ahead of the rest. You have to know the enemy so well that even their preference of cereal isn't a mystery to you.

I'd left them standing there staring after me. I didn't even hang up the phone. It was as though the sound of the death unlocked parts of me I'd never knew existed. An entire lifetime of espionage, and assassination flooded my mind. I knew the points on someone's body that would knock them out, cripple them, or worse. I could get to those spots before they could blink and disappear just as fast. Nothing was untouchable and as soon as I put my sights on a target, nothing could sway my gaze.

I wasn't a meek girl anymore.
I was the seven year old bringer of death.
I was a fatal shadow.
I was the eyes you always feel on you.
I was what made you hesitant to go into a dark room unarmed.
I was Crystal, and I was very, very mad.

Guards were nothing; just targets. They didn't last long enough to be surprised. There were three at the front doors. I always used the front door, because I wanted to spit in the face of my target's security. I wanted them to know when I arrived so that I could easily earn the quivering fear that I deserved to be shown. I left the gun where they laid and instead grabbed a single grenade as insurance. It's not that I didn't know how to use a gun. I could disassemble them in seconds and put them together just as fast. I had a killer's aim, but that was no surprise. I didn't pick them up because I wouldn't need them.

They wouldn't see me.

A group of seven heavily armed men flooded down the hall where I had been just earlier. They knelt to check the status of the door guards. Alive. I needed them to remember me. I needed them to fear me. I needed everyone in this place to know they weren't safe if they crossed me.

I came down like a spider from my hiding spot in a small nook on the ceiling. One, two, three, four, five, six, seven. A single touch and every last one of them would be in a coma for a week. I left the pile of bodies near the door as I made my way deeper into the interior of the building.

I slipped into a room as I heard a voice coming closer. John. My friend working for the wrong side, so he wouldn't get special treatment. Open the door to the face, and a single jab to one of those special places I knew of. He fell like a brick. Not coma, but he'd be out long enough for me to complete what I'd come here to do. I disarmed him just in case. During the time I'd known him he'd done some very surprising things, and there was NO way I was going to underestimate him. Jay and Tim were all that was left to make a move, and the only person that had seen me was Tim. He probably saw my entrance in the video feeds.

After taking John down I turned to the nearest camera and waved.

Jay would be in the library, and Tim in the control room. Simple.

Jay's face felt the heel of my foot before the world went dark. He wouldn't be getting up any time soon. I left the library and made my way to the showers; Patrick would be there unaware of my coming.

The doors to the bathroom were closed and locked, but a hairpin and thirty seconds later that obstacle was gone.

Patrick wasn't human, that much I was aware of. I wouldn't be able to rely on the normal means to do him in. He was also very experienced, and had probably had many assassins try to take him out. He would be ready for me and that wasn't something I could stop. We were in his territory, so I was all ready at a disadvantage. I had to switch it around. I had to change the field of battle so that it fell in my favor, or at least evened the odds.

I closed my eyes and counted to forty, all the while I could hear the shower running around the corner. I could hear his whistling as though he had no remorse or guilt about what he'd done. It drove me mad. I hit forty, turned off the lights, and opened my eyes.

I had already adjusted to the dark so getting to Patrick in his surprised state was simple. My fist said hello to his nose with a crack loud enough to cause my ears to ring. I jumped back as he swung blindly in the dark.

"Who are you?! Where are you!?", he yelled angrily as he tried to hit me.

I silently moved behind him, ignoring the heat of the shower water as my knee crashed into the small of his back.

Patrick went down to one knee faster than I'd expected. I figured that he'd be some kind of monster like the ones we'd faced before. I didn't even fathom that he could possibly be simply human.

"Attacking someone in the dark is pathetic! Attack me to my face you pathetic fool!" His face was fuming, as angry as I could get it.

"You didn't attack me to my face. You went after my Father. You are the coward!"

Even in the dark I could see the blood drain from his face. He hadn't even thought that I would be capable of coming after him. He didn't even think I had it in me to make a one man assault on his badly guarded fortress. It was breathtaking to watch his anger swiftly change to a worried uncertainty. I watched his mind put the pieces together by reading the small changes on his face. A small look of guilt slid over his face and then vanished into anger again.

"You." He stood to his feet, and as I watched him he seemed to gain more confidence, "You killed the only human in this horrible world that I actually cared about. You took Saba away from me, so I went straight after the only people that I could to make you feel my pain. Do you? Do you feel the horrific feeling of loss like I do? After my employee finished his work, I called him and do you know what he told me?"

I could feel my anger growing as he started to explain his actions, as though he was justified in killing such a kind and innocent person.

"He told me that he missed." I felt my heart skip a beat, "He said that he had to sit there and watch your father choke on his own blood for half an hour before death."

My anger erupted with a ferocity I had never felt before. My foot was on his chin, followed by the heavy thumps of my fists bruising his chest, knocking him out of the showers and closer to the door. He tried to retaliate, but the lack of sight made his swings ineffectual and pointless. He leaped through the door, crushing it to the ground. He was moving toward the light so he'd have a better advantage, but I was right behind him.

Before he even got back to his feet I was there, leveraging his weight to catapult him back into the showers where he collided into the wall with a crunch of linoleum. I pulled out the grenade as I moved to the door. My finger yanked the pin as I smiled at his very surprised face.

"WAIT!" Patrick's voice made me hesitate, "Wait. If you let me live, than I can help you."

"Now who's pathetic? Can't you just at least die as something other than a cockroach? Don't you dare try to weasel your way out of this.", I prepared to toss it.

"No. I can tell you how to bring Vincent back."

Patrick had earned some more time.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

199: Life For A Life -Crystal-

I can't say I wasn't nervous. What would I say? How would I explain? The phone rang into my ear as I waited.

It felt like forever before someone picked up.

"Hello?" It was a gruff male voice, one I didn't recognize.

"Um, is William Ferguson there?"

"He's a little," the voice pulled away from the phone for a moment and then returned, "preoccupied at the moment."

"It's important that I talk to him immediately. Please put him on the phone."

"You wouldn't happen to be Crystal, would you?"

My heart sank. Something was wrong. How could this person possibly know me?

"Just put my Daddy on the phone. Please."

The voice laughed, "Sure thing." Again the voice moved away from the phone, "Hey! It's your daughter, she wants to talk to you. You can take it? All right." The voice returned, "He says he can take it. Just let me remove the duct tape."

A yelp of pain echoed through the phone followed by a stern "quiet" from the man on the phone. Some more shuffling and then a voice came over the phone, one I recognized.

"Hello?" I couldn't help but tear up when I heard his voice, "I don't know what kind of sick joke you're playing bu-"

"Daddy, do you remember what Mommy told us before she died? She was laying there pale and weak; so weak that she couldn't hold my hand. I was crying and you were trying to hide your sadness for me even though I could always see it. Do you remember?"

"How did you-" He sounded surprised.

"Daddy, she told you that the best moments of her life were the years she spent with you. She said," painful memories stung me to the bone, "She said that even though she'd only had a few years to spend with us, she couldn't imagine another life she would have rather lived."

"Oh my God." I could hear the surprise in his voice, "Crystal. How?"

"That's not all, then she looked at me and told me to love with everything I had. Then she closed her eyes, Daddy, she closed her eyes for the last time."

"You- you sound older. How did this happen? When can I see yo-", I heard a loud thunk as he was cut off. "THAT'S ENOUGH!" The other voice returned.

"So, I have a message to you from Patrick." The voice was very calm and dangerous, "By now, you've probably found that all your money is gone, right? That's why you had to call here."

They had my Daddy; Patrick had my Father. I felt the blood rush from my face as I whispered into the phone, "Yes."

"He thought you would, so I was told to wait here until you called and then tell you this." He laughed lightly, "Patrick says, 'A life for a life.' "

I heard him put the phone down and in the distance I heard my Daddy's voice, "Crystal, I love yo-"

The loud bang of a gun echoed through the phone.

198: Daddy? -Ben-

"I'm sorry sir, you've been declined." The clerk looked upset and confused.

I forced down the rising frustration, "Okay, I had plenty of money on there to pay for the rooms just earlier today. You must be doing something wrong."

"Sir, I've tried it three times. Maybe you should give the bank a call?" She looked at me timidly.

"I think I will." I turned to see Nick and Crystal walking through the hotel doors.

"What's going on?", Nick jogged up, "Is there a problem?"

"They're telling me I have no money. I just checked the balance earlier today."

"No problem, let me see if I can help." Nick handed his card to the clerk and in a few moments it was returned with the same explanation.

"We have no money. Who could be doing this?", Nick looked exasperated.

"We can't even pay for a way back."

"I might be able to help.", Crystal spoke up, her voice shaky and unsure. "I could call my Daddy."

I'm sure that Nick and I had the same surprised look on our face. Crystal had chosen not to talk to her father, because there was no way she could explain this.

"You don't have to. We'll find another way to pay.", I stated.

"No. After losing Vincent," she looked at the floor, "I don't want to lose anyone else. I'm going to have to find a way to tell him."

She walked to the hotel phone and dialed the number.

Monday, June 20, 2011

197: Completion -Sara-

Incomplete. I was incomplete. I must become whole again, but to do that I'd need to find all the pieces. I could see them all around me everyday as I moved through this place. I was in pieces and slowly I would collect myself to become one again.

"Mister?" She was small, but she had a piece, "Are you okay? You look sick. I think you're bleeding."

She was right, I was bleeding. These vessels weren't strong enough to contain me and would eventually explode. Even after I leave them, the strain is too much and it usually kills them. Such fragile beings. If I could find a stronger vessel than this it would be much easier, less murderous. I didn't want to have to kill these creatures, but I was incomplete. I needed to be whole again.

Adding a new piece calmed me for a time, until I felt the gnawing urge for completion again. I felt it now as I looked at the young child in front of me. Why was she alone? Where was her guardian? Those questions quickly became irrelevant as the need overcame me. I began to detach myself from this vessel, allowing small amounts of their free will come back as I reached out to the little girl.

First I released the pain, so I didn't feel as the vessel's chest slowly split open. I watched the girl's eyes go wide as the blood spilled onto the ground. She turned to run but I was too fast. My arm whipped out, clipping her on the side of the head and she crumpled to the ground. I turned to the alley wall and coated my hand with blood.

After I retrieved the next piece, I couldn't be sure what I would remember. I had to leave myself a message, telling me what to do next. Direction was what I would need if I was to survive. I couldn't allow myself to be caught, but what should I do next?

I searched the vessel's mind for the part I needed, and began melding it to me. I had to get this piece before I leave. It would be many, many months before I found this specific piece again. As I finished, I learned where I needed to go next.

Soon my defense mechanism would kick in, and I would not remember anything for a long time. I had to give myself direction. My hand slid along the wall as I wrote the words and immediately after finishing, I released myself completely and flowed into the girl. The old vessel was too far gone to scream and as my memory faded, I watched his body explode.

My eyes roamed over the words as I began to lose consciousness.

"Find Crystal Ferguson."

I could taste the next piece already.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

196: Not Dead -Carl-

"Melissa isn't dead, Carl. She's out there somewhere causing more mayhem, and we have to stop her before she goes too far." The small fairy flew up and gave me a fierce gaze.

I had been in my hotel room for only 10 minutes alone when I had heard the tapping on the window. I was surprised to find a male fairy floating outside waiting to get in.

"I'm not going anywhere. My friend just died, I have to be here for the people that need me."

"I wish it was different, Carl, but this is more important than that. She's been planning something for a very long time and it's all coming together slowly. The pact, Joshua, your curse being broken; all of it a part of her plan, everything working together toward a single, horrible goal. One that we cannot allow to come to fruition."

"Who are you?" I hadn't had a chance to ask him his name before he'd started ranting about going after Melissa.

"My name is Qaliphus. I was with Melissa when she came to this world. Soon after I realized her intentions and had to fake my own death so that I could find a way to stop her. It saddens me to say that several innocents lost their lives so that I could get away, but they were needed sacrifices for the greater good."

I was getting angry. This fairy was dancing around the subject, not getting to his point. It was almost as though he was ashamed. I walked to the mini-bar and poured myself a drink.

"What's she planning?"

The fairy smiled, "We lost the war between us and the Gods. Melissa and I had escaped with the intentions of settling down and hiding. I wanted nothing more than to live out the rest of my life, but Melissa had other intentions. While I was growing attached to humans, she was becoming less sympathetic for their kind. The only humans she had any feelings for were the children. She saw them as completely innocent and untouched by the evil of age."

I was growing impatient as I took another gulp of my drink. I walked to the bed and sat on it, thinking about everything Melissa had done.

"She told me of her plans one night and I was horrified. Carl, she plans on bringing all the fairies back."

I stared at the small fairy, his eyes were honest and his face stern.

"Why are you against that? You're a fairy yourself."

He sighed and sat at the edge of the bed, "I'm a traitor, Carl. I never told Melissa, but I told the Gods our battle plans in the final battle." He shook his head, "My people are a cruel and heartless race. We know nothing of mercy and strive to control everything we can. Even our magics used to belong to another race that we wiped out. We tortured humans for fun, murdering them when we got bored. As I grew up I began to feel sorry for the humans, and when I had the chance to save them, I took it."

I raised a brow, "You wiped out your entire race to save mine? That's bold. Very, very bold."

I had to admit, I was impressed. Qaliphus had went against everything he was raised to believe to stop the torture of another race. I could see that it was difficult for him, but I could also tell that he was set on keeping humans safe at all costs.

"So," I put my glass down, "what makes you think she's not dead?"

"Fairies are notoriously hard to kill. If her name isn't used to kill her then she's not dead. You need to understand that she's planned so far ahead and if she succeeds, then the human race will be wiped out in seconds."

"How did the Gods even have any chance of winning against your race if they didn't know your names?" I knew her name was powerful but I didn't know it was required to kill her. No wonder it was the only thing that could control her.

I had already decided that I would go with him. I reached over to grab a shirt, and a sword that I'd snatched from the museum in the turmoil. As I stood he flew up to the door.

"They didn't, not until I gave them all the fairies names." I saw his strong demeanor falter slightly. I saw a deep sadness.

Could I kill my entire race to save another?

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

195: Bite Me -Sara-


My head jerked up from the steering wheel so fast I nearly got whiplash.

"It's me, Jerry, and I'm here to tell you to wake up! Rub that sleep out of your eyes because it's a sunny day in New York and there is a lot to tell. First thing's first, do you all remember the Identity murders?"

There was still a massive pain in my head and I didn't remember anything beyond leaving the apartment. Someone had to have seen me. Maybe they got me to my car.

"Well, the sad news is they've found another victim. A young male going by the name David Lanier, was found brutally murdered in an apartment right across the street from this studio. The way I hear it, the police are looking for a young lady by the name of Sara Coons. They're worried that she might be the next victim."

That's where I had been heading. I tried to recall what had happened but the sharp pain in my head told me to stop. What was going on? I put my hands on the steering wheel and nearly fainted. These weren't my hands. My hands were small, feminine and had painted nails. These were large, masculine and had the words "Bite me" written across their knuckles.

I glanced down at myself to find that I was very male. I grabbed my chest as the panic grew.

"Oh God, oh God someone help me please.", my voice was gruff and dangerous.

I turned to look out the back window and that's when I saw the message sprawled across the back windshield, and what ever was left of a body smeared across the backseat. I bit back my gag reflex and turned to look out the front windshield again.

Who ever it was had been very clearly female, with red hair, and wearing the same clothes that I was wearing when I woke up in the apartment. I bit back the panic and tried to come up with a plan, but what was I supposed to do? Just last night I had been female, and now I'm more male than I'd ever wanted to be. I heard distant sirens and knew they'd be headed my way, so all I had to do was wait.

I glanced back at the message, and then at the steering wheel. What if they thought this was all me? What if they thought I did it? I wasn't myself today; literally. There was no way to explain this to them.

"Hey officer, this isn't what it looks like. See, I'm actually a girl.", I said out loud, "Right, that's going to work."

I glanced at the words again.

'Run, Sara Coons. Run.' in the darkest red.

And that's what I planned on doing.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

194: Two Dollars -Crystal-

Three days had passed since the museum incident and we had barely spoken to one another. We were still at the Hotel. We ran into each other often, but silence was the common language.

Vincent's death had hit everyone harder than you'd have thought. We didn't even say his name anymore, and even if we did I don't think I could say it with out breaking down. I had only lived a short time and all ready I had to deal with the death of a close friend.

It was times like these that I wished I had my Father to run to.

We didn't know whether or not to bury Vincent. Instead, we burned what was left of the bear; a warrior's funeral. It wasn't fair. It could have happened to anyone, and it had to be him.

Vincent had saved my life more times than I could remember. When I was younger, before he came to life, he scared away the darkness just by being there. Then he fought for everyone I cared about till his death. Now he's gone and it should have been someone else. Someone who deserved it; maybe me.

Carl says that he died a death worthy of someone great, but the truth is that he was killed while completely unconscious. He was killed in his sleep, which normally would have been peaceful, but this sleep was anything but. Vincent died terrified, fighting and alone.

I stared in to the toy shop at the arrangements of bears in the window, hoping that one of them would get up and start talking. I had been staring for 5 hours now. I had watched as the lights in the shop dimmed and the owner locked the doors. All I had was this hope, and if I looked away then I would be admitting that he's gone.

I shouldn't be this attached because most of the time I knew him he was an inanimate toy, but he came to life. He was a person that I'd come to know. He was a person that I'd come to trust.

"Crystal," Nick's hand on my shoulder pulled me out of my thoughts, "everyone is wondering where you are."

"My Dad bought him for me.", I wiped the wet from my cheek, "He took me to a small toy store not far from where I lived. The store was super expensive, but my dad wanted me to choose whatever I wanted. I was looking at the dollhouses and fake carriages when I saw him. He was jammed between the biggest dollhouse and the wall, and he looked so uncomfortable, so unhappy."

Nick was silent, and I didn't blame him. Vincent was my bear, he'd been with me most of my life.

"I passed over him. I had my eye on another doll that could learn its name, one that would have put my Dad back $600 while the bear only cost $2. I kept thinking about that bear stuck, looking unhappy. I couldn't get him out of my head. I felt so bad leaving him there while all the other dolls would be sold. I didn't want him to not have a home. I got so confused at what I should do. I wanted the doll, but the bear would suffer and never be found."

I knew I was crying but I didn't care. This museum incident had taken its toll on everyone somehow. After the first night in the hotel, Carl vanished and Ben kept himself locked in his room. Andrew had been shunned immediately and violently, almost made me feel sorry for him until we learned what he'd done to Ben. Will spent the last two days trying to convince Kelly that all this stuff was real, and despite what she had seen it still took a lot of convincing. Nick and I were awkward together at best, and at worst we were at each other's throats.

"I chose Vincent because I didn't want him to be alone and scared, but it didn't matter. He still ended up that way and there's nothing I could have done. What was the point of bringing him to life if he was just going to be killed?"

"He was here for you, Crystal.", Nick tried to comfort me, "He always fought to protect you."

"I spent two dollars killing a good friend, Nick. If I'd chosen that first doll, then he'd never been put in this situation. I should have forgotten about the bear, then maybe he would have found someone normal. Maybe he would have protected someone whose biggest problem was children at a schoolyard. No, life had to be cruel. His life wasn't worth the money I spent. It was worth so much more."

"You're still alive, Crystal," Nick put his hand on my shoulder, "and I bet he would have considered that a bargain."

I heard Nick walk toward the hotel.

I stared at the window for another two hours.