Monday, September 30, 2013
"Are you done with the mini-laptop yet?"
"Hey, I sound like I'm being all creepy and talking to myself. Not that I'm not talking to myself. I mean, you are me. Or, who I might've ended up as. And your name's Fabi, so I don't have anything else to call you, but that's beside the point. The point is, I need the laptop back, so I can see about getting an Internet signal from across the dimensions. It's technically impossible, but-- Oh."
Fabi from this universe, the Fabi you all know and bother with, was lying on the bench, not moving, not even seeming to breathe.
"Well, what've I done this time? You'd think the other me would be more experienced, and like, know better. Polly? Polly!"
ParaFabi walked over and pressed the yellow button, a sound like a doorbell reverberating throughout the building.
After a minute and twenty-six seconds, Polly ran in, followed by Martin, Kath, Linda, Lalla, Paul, Frank, Maurice and Eunice. None of them were able to wake Fabi up, though Maurice was able to determine that Fabi was alive and in some sort of coma.
"If it was me lying there unconscious, would you stupid people be just as helpless?!" ParaFabi shrieked.
"Ma'am, we do have a very thorough and detailed record of your medical history, and of course your wristwatch monitors your pulse and would inform us immediately if you were anywhere near death," Martin pointed out.
"Well what good is that? Shut up if you value your current position," ParaFabi snarled. Martin backed up a step and started to stammer an apology.
"Excuse me, ma'am?"
ParaFabi turned, "What is it, Linda?"
"This box... Does it belong to you?"
"No, why would it?"
"Then, perhaps it contained whatever made the other Fabienne unconscious?"
"Well, what use is that? Do you see anything there now?"
"No, ma'am, but there's this inscription on the side..."
"Well what does it say?"
"It says... MageBay. I believe that's a company."
"Interesting... Someone, write that down." All nine of her employees hurried to do so.
"She asked for a computer..." ParaFabi gestured around vaguely, and let Lalla locate the mini-laptop.
"She added a password protection, ma'am."
"Give it here." ParaFabi snatched the laptop and tried a few different combinations before she found the right one. She opened the web browser and looked at Fabi's browsing history. "MageBay is an online store..."
"Like a magical eBay?" Martin asked.
"It would seem so." ParaFabi was too intrigued to point out her employee's idiocy. "She was looking at items related to sort of meditation, lucid dreaming, and spirit travel, that sort of thing... Oh no."
"What is it?" about a half-dozen lackeys chorused.
"Other-Fabi is trying to save the world."
There was a silence.
"Um, boss?" Martin asked hesitantly, "Is that a bad thing?"
"Nah, but she's going about it all wrong."
"Okay... What would you like us to do?"
ParaFabi pulled out a wallet and fiddled around with it. Finally, she set it on the ground, somehow reached both arms inside and pulled out a bedframe. Polly and Kath helped steady it as she stumbled back, the metal bending so it wouldn't crush her. Finally, they set it in a corner and went back for the mattress. Polly, Martin and Lalla guided it on top of the frame of the bed.
Kath picked up Fabi and set her on top of the mattress. "Now what?"
ParaFabi shrugged, not wanting to state out loud that she had no idea. "I guess we wait," she finally decided, waving her hand to dismiss the others. "Polly, bring me some tea. The rest of you do what you like, goof off in the arcade, I don't care. What, you didn't think I knew about that? It's my arcade, it does have surveillance cameras." She laughed at their shocked faces. "As long as someone's there when I call you, you can do whatever you like in your free time. Just don't break anything and don't forget about your job. Otherwise..." she grinned and waved her hand, leaving the sentence to hang dramatically. There was a moment of silence and stillness, and then everyone returned to their work.
Sunday, September 29, 2013
"What?" ParaFabi jumped and turned around. She'd been busy at her computer, typing in commands. Very much a Cavendish, Fabi thought bitterly. She wondered if that had been better for the other her, too, family relationships.
"Leela Chrysanthabelle Fulviana Kim."
"If you think that just by mentioning her name..."
"She's the one the refugees were running from."
"What... Oh, I considered that possibity," ParaFabi said carefully. "I guess it all came down to her in the end."
"Yeah..." Both Fabis were silent for a while. "Did you have that recurring nightmare about the swamp?"
"The one where a giant laptop was floating on the water and these men in orange vests were trying to get it to eat me?"
"Yes, that dream, but... I meant more the feeling of running around someplace you should know by heart..."
"...and everything changes constantly," ParaFabi finished. "I generally prefer not to dwell on that bit. The laptop was actually sort of funny."
"For me it was a pencil case."
"Really?" ParaFabi frowned. "I never really had a pencil case. I had a purple zipper-pouch thingy for my school supplies."
"So did I. The pencil case was for some of my art pencils."
"Oh. I was never really into art... I guess when I was really small, but Mom wanted me to be a successful computer programmer like her."
"I guess. I was studying engineering in college. I'd rather build something, like with actual solid materials. That's how I got into metalmagic."
"Same. Um... How old are you?"
When ParaFabi told her, Fabi raised her eyebrows in shock. "You don't look any older than me."
"It's called magic," ParaFabi explained with a grin.
"But that means..."
"Don't worry about it, don't even think about it," ParaFabi snapped. "If it happens, it won't be for years."
Fabi nodded. "Okay... Would you mind untying me?"
ParaFabi laughed. "You're so nice, I don't get how we're the same person."
"Whatever. Just don't touch anything." ParaFabi said, bending over the chair.
Fabi bit back something, she wasn't sure if it was a laugh or a sob. Even her alternate self didn't see her as a threat. Once again, she had to remind herself that that was one of her greatest strengths. It really didn't feel like one, though.
ParaFabi resumed her computer work, and Fabi sat in the corner, taking note of all the cameras and traps in the room. For someone who had just arrived in this reality, ParaFabi had a pretty cool base of operations.
Fabi's mind changed the topic, as it always did, first to some topics irrelevant to the plot, such as Fabi's codes (she wondered if the other her could understand them), chocolate-filled croissants (hey, Fabi gets hungry just like the next person), tennis (a sport Fabi had not been hopeless at, surprisingly) and then finally to what had been worrying her. The other dimension was several years ahead, so did that mean that this world, too, would someday explode?
ParaFabi had practically threatened her not to worry about it, but Fabi wasn't really bothered by the threat. ParaFabi was incapable of reading her mind, no matter how similar they were.
Dreams might be the answer, she decided. She'd seen mages sort of meditate before, and let their subconscious travel. They all did it differently, in ways that fit with their disciplines, but underneath, there was a basic technique she might be able to use, with a little help.
"Is there a computer I can use?" Fabi asked the other Fabi.
"What? Oh, sure." ParaFabi pulled out a mini-laptop and quickly created a new account so that Fabi wouldn't see anything she didn't want her too. Unless she guessed the password. "Here you go," she said, handing it over.
Fabi nodded her thanks and opened a web browser, typing in the URL for MageBay.
"Please for once....for Alexis for me keep Zafira safe....it's all I want keep her free from Justaria I owe it to her its my fault she knows her true name."
"Then it's your fault. I don't care. Just die. " Zafira was in shock how cold Niccolò was sounding. What was going on?
"then you're....no better then I.. look Niccolò....don't be like me have a heart just...at least let my daughters say goodbye" Zafira shadow-walked down and suddenly saw Javier on fire. The connection broken and Niccolò spoke out loud to her,
"Damn emotions... Try to douse the flames or bring him back, and I'll only kill him again. " Zafira watched him vanish and she felt tears form. She went to the flames letting them go out. She took the charted remains of Javier and when she returned them to his parents she returned to Blogland and sighed. What was she thinking? She watched Javier die. He died. What did she do now? She lost Javier and she knew deep down inside Niccolò never would never love her nor would she ever have a shot to be with John Smith. She walked along the grass.
"I'm sorry, Javier." She whispered. "I'm sorry I left you to suffer. I'm sorry I was a fool to never have thought you loved me." She sank to her knees alone. She had never felt more alone in her life until now. He was always there, always. A memory stirred.
"Stay with me?" Javier asked.
"Always." Zafira replied.
The memory hurt. She knew how wrong she was to have doubted Javier. Now? She had to live with her choice. Now she must carry on and hope, merely hope that somewhere in Niccolò Croatoan's heart he had the capability to like her back. Just maybe. Or even John being allowed out. The tiny voice in her head of Justaria, even this voice grieved. Justaria of all people or names grieved. Today was not a good day to be alive.
Tuesday, September 24, 2013
It has been my long held belief that human beings are inherently cruel creatures, and any apparent kindness in their nature is forced. It may seem effortless, yet when we are physically and/or emotionally exhausted and can no longer afford to pretend, we always leap to violence and anger. When a human has lost something important, his first compulsion is to seek revenge. While vengeance is not actually productive in any way, we still want it. We're selfish creatures, who like to think ourselves better than others, and even the most admired among us feel some desires to watch those they dislike, for whatever reason, suffer.
Yet it is also undeniable that most people feel compulsions to assist each other and alleviate pain. I am convinced these compulsions come from impressions and standards pressed on us from a very young age, and perhaps also from the desire to reproduce programmed into every surviving species. From what I can tell the only impulse we are born with that serves no purpose beyond personal enjoyment, satisfaction, or entertainment, is sadistic.
But the fact remains that every now and then, a human comes along who fights their own sadism so well, I am forced to consider the possibility that compassion is equally ingrained in basic human nature. So, every now and then, I experiment. I do something that benefits only a person other than myself, and I see whether or not I feel like doing it again. Niccolò would argue that such experiments are heavily flawed and negate just about every basic principle of scientific method, but I didn't write this to argue with him. I wrote this because the lovely Miss Dark was curious. Now, she has her answer.
Sunday, September 22, 2013
Snow: Having awkward adventures with paraSnow (in our universe)
paraFabi: Texting paraAretha about making a new portal (in our universe)
Trip: Doubled over in pain and then "slowly teleported" away (in the parallel universe)
Emerald: Was last seen getting mad at parAretha (in our universe)
Adra/Zafira/Alexis/Aretha/Niccolò: Trying to fix the dying world (in parallel universe)
Current plot: There's a universe parallel to ours, where planet Earth is supposed to explode by the end of the week. The people tried to evacuate to our world and move us to theirs, so they could take our places, but chaos erupted so they broke all the portals. Now some of them are stuck here, and some of us are stuck there.
Really sorry if I missed anyone- it's late and I'm tired! Feel free to fix it or ask me to!
"Where is Aretha?" I asked Zafira, masking my anxiety as I pushed myself into a sitting position. I knew at that moment she was far weaker than I, and I knew she had enemies in that other universe. If they find her, and I'm not there... I quickly discontinued that line of thought.
"She's... She's still over there." Adra was the first to acknowledge the question.
"She's in the other universe. Clara went back to get her. And you are NOT going to look for her. Clara will get her. You're staying here." Zafira's response. If I was not so preoccupied with Aretha, I likely would've been angry with her. As it was, I nearly laughed, simply out of spite. "I'm sorry. Rest. You'll need your strength now more than ever," She continued a few moments later, and fell asleep on my leg. Are you, really? I marveled for a moment at how cold I could become in defense of another, even without the influence of my more sadistic names, though I suppose that is simply what love does.
"Zafira. Telling me to sit here idly while she..." She may be dying, but I can hardly bring myself to think it, let alone say it aloud... "She is no better than I, if not worse, I am certain. And Clara has not returned. They're likely stuck for whatever reason. I'm not leaving them." And I left her there.
At another time, it would have occurred to me to return her to her home rather than simply leaving her in the dirt, but under the circumstances I could barely think beyond Aretha. You may call me obsessive, yet before you do, consider that Mevolent was out to kill her, and several others as well, and I had last seen her bound and unconscious in the dim lighting of the room I had adopted as a study. Consider, also, that there is nothing in this world I value more than her.
I spent the rest of the night working my way through the cells of an underground terrorist group. Mevolent was a member. I released those who were on their native Earth, and returned those few who weren't, quickly dealing with anyone who crossed my path, until I came across Aretha. Since I could not leave her as she was in either universe, I carried her with me as I continued, searching in as many places as I could reach for anyone out of place. By and by, morning came, and despite the fair number of people I'd repatriated, I had yet to find Clara.
It was remarkably fortunate, in a relative sense, that I happened to be transporting a group of people to my universe directly outside of Adra's laboratory, at the same moment as she ran into the parallel version of herself. I was close enough to the situation to hear a few stray thoughts, and suddenly I realized exactly what the parallel version of myself was sure to do. I made it through the portal to my world just in time to see it shatter behind me, and brought Aretha to the only place she called home. I sent a copy of myself to assist the others while I myself remained with her, balancing the flow of her magic until she recovered enough to fall into a healthy sleep. I swore there would never be a faster way to spend an hour than to listen to her steady beating heart.
Wednesday, September 18, 2013
Tuesday, September 3, 2013
Saph had absolutely no idea how to dance.
But that wasn't going to stop her. The Requiem Ball was in half an hour, and she was determined to be there when it started, even if it was midnight! (Why everyone thought the Aussies were first in the world was beyond her. New Zealand was way ahead of the Australians!)
The air was cold and her blue eyes were starting to droop, but adrenaline and excitement kept her awake. She hurried to change into her dress (Sapphire blue, of course) and scooped her wavy brown hair back.
Five minutes! Saph took one last look in the bathroom mirror as she went to leave and paused. The girl in the mirror didn't look like her. The girl wore her wavy chocolate curls down, for one thing, and her cheeks were practically glowing with happiness. She looked sophisticated and foreign. There was a stupid little smile on her face, but for some reason Saph couldn't wipe it off when she tried.
"Good luck," she whispered to herself in the mirror. Blue eyes smiled back at her as the door softly shut behind her.
Sparky's tree house was pandemonium.
They were in the basement, which astounded Sapphire. How did people even build tree houses this big?
She had to admit though, it was perfect for the occasion. One corner was a music station, complete with a DJ booth that she so desperately wanted too try out. Another corner was given to beanbags, couches, and generally chilling out/ being antisocial. Everyone was swarming around the buffet in the north corner. The delicious smell of irresistible food made Saph's mouth water, but she got the feeling that if anyone got food on the floor, they would be cleaning up while Sparky whipped them- probably better not to risk it.
The final corner was the dancefloor- bigger than Saph's whole house put together.
"Four minutes until the Ball!" a boy yelled as he swept past. Was that Alex Chrome? In a suit? Really?
Apparently it was, because he started zipping around, handing out little disks like the ones used in Mortal Coil. For the first time, Sapphire noticed three Rippers, silent and creepy as hell, standing in the doorway. From what she could see, the treehouse was so secure any way they wouldn't be needed.
"One minute!" she called, suddenly unable to keep the childish excitement from her voice. She was at the Requiem Ball! Her!
There were people everywhere- Sparky was setting the rules of using her place, Mith was panicking and searching frantically for her dress and several people were standing in the doorway, looking completely confused. There was a small crowd around Luci (who looked completely incredible), all squealing and cheering and hugging each other. Saph suddenly felt very small and insignificant. Among all these magical and stunning things, her beautiful dress now seemed very ordinary and plain. Compared to these powerful mages, she was nothing. What had she been thinking? She was a girl, not a ballroom dancer.
Clang. Clang. Clang. Clang. Clang. Clang. Clang. Clang. Clang. Clang. Clang. Clang.
Too late to back out now. It was midnight!
Alex leapt up onto a platform and yelled into a microphone. "Okay, the Ball has started! Get your sexy fat asses over here!"
Then, to Sapphire's complete surprise and confusion, he let fifty ducks loose.
The laugh bubbled out of her as Adra, Zath, Snow and Aisling appeared like magic- how did they sneak up on her? There was joking and dancing and cheering until Alex leaned back into the microphone. His voice boomed out into the hall as he announced; "Welcome, everyone to the Requiem Ball, 2013.
We, unfortunately, do not have our beloved Golden God here tonight. But we have me. And ducks. So... That's great.
But welcome, and enjoy yourself. There are a number of drinks and foods and snacks and shit in that room over there. Enjoy your night."
Sparky leapt up, her red dress fluttering as she playfully pushed Alex aside to yell into the mike.
"Alright then kiddies! Welcome to my precious treehouse! You break, you die!" She shouted with a gigantic smile that made Saph burst into laughter as the first song played. Always, by Frank Sinatra. What a nice song to start the dance with.
Adra was still bustling about with the make-up and hair stuff, skilfully weaving around the ducks that Zath appeared to be setting on fire. The air smelt of smoke and singed feathers, but the ducks didn't even seem to notice that they were surrounded by flames.
"The ducks are fireproof!" Alex yelled from behind Mara and Luci (Damn, where did Mara get that epic dress?).
"Ducks are fireproof my ass!" Sparky yelled, jumping up and down in an attempt to squash one.
Missy swept in and nearly tripped over Adra, who was, quite literally, rolling on the floor laughing. It fact, almost everyone was laughing freely and naturally- including Saph, to her surprise. The air was full of smoke and glitter and the music was making her heart feel lighter. She would've danced around in circles, but the ducks bustling around her feet were... kind of off-putting.
But all that energy was racing around inside her, building and multiplying and she needed to do something, so she grabbed a bowl of fruit salad, snuck up on Alex as he called for people to socialise, and dumped it on his head.
The effect was immediate and hilarious. Alex leapt into the air and spun around as Saph whistled innocently, winking at Adra out of the corner of her eye. Mith was standing in the corner, not moving but still laughing at the expression on Alex's face. He shook himself and the fruit salad slipped off him as he gestured to a Ripper. Words were exchanged that Saph couldn't hear, and then he pointed straight at her.
She turned and tried to disappear into the crowd, but the Ripper's gloved hand was on her arm and then he was dragging out into the fresh air as she writhed and kicked. Long fingers reached in and drew the disc from her pocket, plucking it away from her grasp and heading back inside.
Saph got back to her feet and muttered all the swear words she knew (Most of them directed at Alex). Luckily, her dress was undamaged. But how was she going to get back in?
Her blue slip-on shoes were silent as she crept up to the window and looked through just in time to see Adra hit Zath on the head with a frying pan.
She winced in sympathy, but Adra reached one hand out the window and helped her back in.
"Thanks," Sapphire grinned, jumping lightly on to the dance floor. "I was about to... alter... the minds of the Rippers, but this is much easier."
Adra laughed, her silver dress shimmering as she opened her mouth to reply, but Zath appeared with a visible bump on the back of his head.
If looks could kill, Adra would be toast.
"Hi Zath!" She said cheerfully, waving with one hand as the other hid the pan behind her back.
He kept glaring. "Hey Adra,"" he said sarcastically, "Did you happen to see who whacked me in the head just then?"
"Noooo..." she said warily. "I didn't!" Moving surprisingly fast for someone with high heels on, she bolted away so fast Saph saw nothing but a silver, glittery blur.
It was time for an insane plan.
"Ouch!" Saph exclaimed, quickly stepping between him and Adra. "Are you okay! I just saw that random guy hit you with a frying pan!"
She pointed at where Alex was arguing with Sparky about ducks. Their conversation seemed to involve a lot of hand gestures and stamping feet.
Zath's head swivelled around to follow her finger and Sapphire ducked into the crowd.
She weaved through the crowd and found herself near the double doors, breathing in the fresh air. Wow, it was getting stuffy in here. She was contemplating removing the roof when Duck walked through the entrance with two bottles that seemed to be emitting steam.
Next to her, Saph felt Mith tense. She hit the floor with a painful thump about two seconds before Duck poured liquid nitrogen on everyone.
The resulting hydrogen peroxide blast from Adra was cut short by an angry Sparky yelling something Saph couldn't hear. She moved closer to hear the end.
"No f***ing ducks allowed!" Sparky was scowling. "Any ducks will be set on fire by Zath!"
Saph felt sorry for the ducks as Alex herded them outside.
Mith raised an eyebrow. "Shouldn't we be dancing, not fighting?"
Saph shrugged and pointed at Luci and Zath. Their feet were skilfully moving in an intricate and fast pattern as Skittles pelted through the air. "They're dancing. Sort of."
It would be great if Alex Stone had bothered to turn up and dance with her like he'd promised, but she supposed you couldn't have everything. Annoying little git. She'd phoned him just before the ball started, but naturally he hadn't arrived yet.
Some poor, deranged lunatic had given Adra a paintball gun, which she fired repeatedly at Zath, whooping and laughing. He somehow dodged the paintballs and the Skittles flying at him with incredible grace- until a pot-shot from Adra splatted across his shoulder.
Saph quickly turned and strode off, not willing to get mixed up in that fight- and thumped straight into a boy in a brown tuxedo.
"Sorry!" she apologised quickly, backing away. Her gaze flicked up to his face and she gasped.
"Saph?" Alex Stone said in surprise. He tugged at the sleeves of his suit- wow, she'd never seen him wearing that kind of thing before. His amber eyes were uncertain and sleepy.
"Um, I know I asked you to the dance, and you called me at midnight to wake me up." He waved his phone in the air. Distantly, Saph realised Zath was playing a song. Alex drew a tired hand over his face, brushing aside his caramel hair. "So... I guess we may as well dance."
She stared at him in shock for a moment, before he stretched out his hand. A little lopsided smile tugged at the corners of her mouth as she reached out and her fingers intertwined with his.
The room was warm and bright and finally, they could dance without ducks waddling around their feet. Duck, for some weird reason, had chosen to stay behind when the other ducks left. Saph hoped he could heal himself, because what Sparky had done to his neck was just wrong.
It was so calming to dance with Alex, just sway with him and watch the others. We should do this more often, she thought sleepily. A content happiness was soaking through her mind. One by one, each muscle in her body relaxed, and for the first time that night she let herself just listen to the music and enjoy the moment. It was perfect. I haven't tripped yet, she thought distantly in vague wonder. What kind of weird magic is this?
After several hours, there were Skittles across the floor, duck feathers still stuck to Sparky's shoes and the remains of the Miley Cyrus zombie thing in the corner. Both Alex Stone and Alex Chrome had disappeared, Zath was watching with amusement as a sopping wet Adra (Throwing her in the lake seemed to have ended their fight) disco danced. Missy was eating the Skittles.and chatting with Mith in the corner. Harralie and Snowlock had appeared, so fangirling over them was taking up most of Saph's time. They really were the perfect couples.
Nix, Eld and Dau had also come along- Eldau (What an awesome ship name!) were dancing together, tripping over feet and generally having a great time. The Ball was getting a little crowded, so Saph headed outside for fresh air.
The sun had sent a long ago, sinking into the ground with an explosion of soft red and purple tendrils, reaching out into the sky. The night was black and cold, light by faint streetlights as far as Sapphire could see. Somewhere on the horizon, they blended into the stars that stretched above her head in endless constellations.
She thought of the Ball, and all the people who were there. She thought of how fun, warm and friendly it had been, even when they were fighting.
It was the best night of her life, but not because of the Ball. But Saph had loved being with the people, all happy and carefree. She'd loved dancing with Alex and letting her worries slip away.
Tomorrow. Tomorrow, after having a good night of sleep, she would come back. But for now, Sapphire Iota just treasured the moment and the people she had right then, right there. She closed her tired eyes and fell asleep, underneath the streetlights and the stars.
A/N Maybe the ending makes no sense, but it's late and stuff *shrugs* I tried to keep to the comments as much as possible, but there's a few deviations :)
I'll do another one for when I came back later on :) Also, I'm going to put most of the dresses and suits on my blog (Just another thing to clog up cyberspace) in a minute :)
Monday, September 2, 2013
((This is now a pretty old thing. I just saw it, finished it up and now I'm posting it. Enjoy. I may go back in to polish this later.))
I opened my eyes to complete darkness... and immediately began to panic. I had always been afraid of the dark- especially total darkness like this. The whole world was black. It was even darker than when I had my eyes closed. True darkness. And it terrified me.
I scrambled to my feet and stumbled a few steps backwards, breathing hard. "No, no no no no no..." I muttered under my breath, "No, this is not happening!" My voice grew higher by the end of the sentence, but it was weak and panicked. I backpedaled for a few more steps, and then whirled around, as if I was certain something had been lurking just behind me.
A small, involuntary shriek escaped my lips and I raced forward, desperate for a way out. I ran into a wall that felt like a thin sheet of some strong alloy. Judging by the sound my footsteps made, I guessed the ground was made of the same thing. My fingers scrambled across the cold metal but I couldn't find any weak spot or opening, so I pounded my fists against the wall.
"Hello?" I yelled, trying in vain to keep the panic out of my voice, "Is anybody out there? Hello!" I heard laughter echo through the room behind me. I whirled around and pressed my back to the wall, my eyes darting about even though I couldn't see anything. I stayed like that for a moment, panting hard, then turned and banged against the wall again. "Please, please, someone, let me out!" I screeched at the top of my lungs. The laughter came from behind me once more, and I pressed my back hard into the wall and screamed.
"Well well well," Niccolo's smooth voice whispered in my ear, and even though he wasn't there I could feel his breath on my neck. I screamed, turned slightly sideways, and backed up so quickly I tripped over my own feet, then kept crawling backwards until I was pressed against the corner. Whatever container I was in wasn't all too big, after all. "It's true then," He continued, and I screamed again, tears forming in my eyes. "Aretha Tesla, the mighty assassin, is afraid of the dark."
"Who are you?" I said, my voice dark and demanding, but still trembling.
"You know me. You've known me for a long time. Niccolo Croatoan. You know, the one who's 'fallen hopelessly in love with you'."
"No, you're not. You're just stealing his voice."
"Well, his everything, really. I'm almost a better thief than he is, if you think about it."
"What's your name?"
"Alastair," he whispered softly, "Alastair Cruciatus. And I. Will tear you. Into teeny, tiny little pieces. And then laugh. And you get to experience everything inside your own personal worst nightmare. Well, aside from the deaths of everyone you care about, but that's already been done, so I'll have to get creative."
The moment he finished speaking I felt a searing pain in my chest, and when I coughed, even though I couldn't see, I knew I was coughing up blood. My breaths were ragged and uneven, though more from fear than pain. The tears were flowing freely now.
"Oh, and that whole insufficiency you feel? All those pretty little insecurities? 'I was supposed to be helping the war effort', 'I killed my whole family and the only friend who wanted to help me', 'I'm just a curse to everyone around me', 'I'm so sick of doing nothing', 'God knows how many times Niccolo's saved my life, but now that he needs me I'm useless'. It's pathetic." He spat.
"Stop using his voice!" My fear diluted all the anger that was meant to be infused in my words.
"Oh no, love, I'm just getting started," he promised, "The nightmare has only just begun. And all your little plans and discoveries are useless now. Your three hypothesis? Done. You are never, ever, getting out of this box."
I screamed again and lashed out, but my hands met with empty air. His deluded laughter sank back into the distance, and I pressed myself slowly into a standing position against the wall. I felt like my instincts were raging war inside of me- one part of me was desperate to run, to fight, and the other was paralyzed. Both were terrified. I screamed until my throat burned, pounded against the walls until I was sure I had more bruises than skin, and when all was said and done and I was still stuck in the box, I curled into the corner again, trying hard to hold on to my sanity.
My eyes snapped open and I flew to my feet, immediately assuming a fighting stance. Then I realized how thick the darkness was- I might as well have left my eyes closed- and the sound my feet made against the floor as I moved... It sounded like... No "No..." I muttered under my breath.
A feral growl sounded behind me and I whirled around, already beginning to shake. "Alastair!" I grimaced as sharp teeth tore into my leg and pulled off a chunk of flesh, but kept standing. "You can't do this to me anymore! You can't scare me! You have nothing on me now, I know your tricks!" I growled defiantly, but I still couldn't keep my voice from shaking.
"Fear not, my dear," I heard his voice beside my ear, low and smooth like dark chocolate, even though I knew he wasn't there. "I've had plenty of time to think up new ways to play with your lovely mind. I'll always have things to hold over you- that's the downside to caring. How about this, just to start? I'll give you a taste of what your precious Niccolo hears inside his head, every day."
Suffering beyond words took over all my senses, drowning out even the darkness, and for the first time ever the impenetrable black seemed comforting. I think I heard my scream somewhere amongst all the others, but I can't be sure. I might have sank to my knees and pressed my hands against my head, but I don't know. I couldn't feel anything. So many voices... So many screams... Please, please just be quiet... Please, please, please, please... SHUT UP! I must have been crying, because when I woke up again my face was wet with tears.
"See?" I heard his voice and jolted up, letting out a shrill involuntary scream. My throat felt like it was on fire, and soon I found myself coughing up blood. "I told you I could hurt you. Well, really, I didn't have to. You screamed so much, you actually hurt yourself. And still the others were louder." He laughed, and I ran at a wall and slammed my fist into it. That was Niccolo's laugh. "And you still don't have him back. Poor you. Perhaps I can distract you- let's try this one next."
It felt almost like I was drowning from the inside out. I let out an agonized half-scream, half-gasp and doubled over, falling back against the wall, one arm pressed tightly against my chest. "What-" I managed between labored breaths, and I could feel my heart failing. Suddenly I realized what he had done.
"This is my illusion, so I can make you feel whatever I want. This is what it feels like when your red blood cells stop carrying oxygen. This is what I felt when you killed me." He laughed a little more. "Enjoy it while you can- it only gets worse from here, and you know it." His voice grew softer, quieter, and closer as he finished. "I told you you were never getting out of this box. No matter what happens, no matter what you or anyone else does, you will always end up back here." I gritted my teeth, digging my fingernails into my arm, and stumbled forward, tripping over my own feet. I was conscious just long enough to feel my face slam into the cold metal floor.
When I woke again, I didn't bother to stand up. I didn't even bother to open my eyes. If nothing else, I had to learn from experience. Stop feeling, stop caring, stop hurting. Lie still and don't say a word. Don't scream when they hit you. Don't shiver when you feel all of them silently watching. Don't flinch when they scream inside your head. Maybe... Maybe like this I would survive. But the next scream I heard was eerily familiar.
I felt hot tears sting my eyes, and in an instant I knew he had me. Because no matter how well I could ignore pain, or the darkness- and even if I knew it was only illusion- I would never be able to stop caring for my friends. She screamed and I flinched, digging my fingernails into my arm until I drew blood without even realizing it. I squeezed my eyes shut, but I still saw her bloodied face. I couldn't deafen myself to her cries. So I made my own, and I prayed that I could be louder. I wasn't.
((Consider this revenge for not writing the Tadra date.))