An Exciting End

Two  people in ill kept white tie stood on a hill top smoking, their eyes glazed over with boredom, their fingernails housed dirt, and their shoes through to their shins were covered in mud. The deep depressions into the hill a clear indicator of where they came from. Down the hill the mud was slightly drier as the fires from the marque’s were spreading to anything that would take their heat, and cooking anything that was too wet to catch light. They passed the one cigarette between them, taking turns with what little stimulation they could share. The roar of the fire was nearly as loud as the screams of the people that  were panicking down below, with the distant sounds of emergency vehicles beginning to compete with the orchestra of noise that was happening. As the smoke rose into the air the light of the fire travelled through it, creating a pillar of light into the sky that was illuminating the nearby clouds, and the surrounding forest where it once lay in the darkness of night, only to be interrupted by the golden glow of small decorative lights, and now the harsh red flicker of the fire. One of the people bit their lip, pulling the stick from it they brought it back into their mouth before spitting it to the ground as they passed the stub of a cigarette back to their companion. “Well, that is one way to end a night. Job well done I would say, ae Imogen?” “To be honest it was the only way we were going to get any level of excitement out of this wedding.” The two stood in a long pause, their breath visible as the night became colder. “Yup, riveting.” “Shut it Riley.” Imogen said, taking their long black hair out of the bun it was in. “It just keeps on going, when do you think it will end?” “I mean, it is hard to say. But I assume the small tent town will go, at a minimum. The fire department may be here before the forest catches on…” Imogen was interrupted as there was a large explosion from one of the tents, cascading fire and shrapnel through the air, raining down on the other tents, cars, and in turn the edges of the forest. “Well, I guess that was the kitchens tent. I had forgotten about all their gas-powered stove tops.” “They had a whole restaurant in there. It was ridiculous how much equipment they brought out here. They might as well have had it somewhere in the city.” “But then they couldn’t get all these views, or experience nature.” “Nature? They put up so many tents, and walkways that they were barely outside. Not to mention all the air conditioning units, and the million bug zappers. Rich people don’t know how to experience the outside world anymore.” They two people watched as one of the guests was running in heels across the soft soil outside the tent, struggling to pull her feet up from them sinking into the ground. Her hands holding her elegant dress up, and away from the ground. “What one earth, is she seriously concerned about her dress?” “To be fair on that one, running in those tight dresses is probably impossible unless it is pulled up. However, the decision to keep the shoes on is confusing me.” There was a second explosion as the fire spread, and further equipment started to feel the heat of the fire. “And there goes the generators.” There was a second explosion in the same spot, mush larger than the first. “And that is the fuel bowser. Jesus you can feel the hear from here.” “It is kind of beautiful though, in its own way.” Imogen said as they tilted their head to the side. Riley saw Imogen adjust their view and decided to try the same. “Does the head tilt help reveal the beauty?” “No, but I was curious if it would look any different if I tried.” “You have an interesting brain, I appreciate it. I think I would suffocated myself in the chocolate fountain if it wasn’t for your constant stream of jokes about the guests.” “Mmm, what a delicious way to go. I mean with how thick that stuff is, and how warm I assume it would be horrific, but tasty none the less.” “Can we ask for anything more in life than a tasty death?” “I mean we can’t ask for a tasty meal.” “I know right?” Riley shouted, disturbing the low mumble that the two had going all this time. “It was like the chefs forgot how to cook when they got to us, I guess we weren’t important enough to get any real food.” “Oh didn’t you hear?” Riley raised an eyebrow, looking across to Imogen. “Apparently, clive heard the wedding planner talking to the chefs about how much effort to put into the meal for the… help.” “Gross, I hate that term. Did Clive happen to describe what was said?” “Yeah, essentially they felt that if the food that was served to us was seen by guests to be too close to what they were getting, they would feel like they were being cheated out of good food, and were just being fed sub-par food. So they artificially created bigger divide in quality so that they did not feel like they were being encroached on.” “Well that is actually disgusting. I can’t believe that people actually think like that.” “They are not people though, rich people lose people statis once they hit a certain point, they just become avatars of money, which is why they hoard wealth, they are trying to get their kind back together.” Imogen let out a small life with the hints of a grin breaking the bleak look on their face. “That is actually genius, it makes so much sense now. They are not greedy assholes addicted to endless streams of money, they are merely an inanimate object occupying a meat suit to collect their family back.” “Oh woah, I think I prefer your description much better. I might have to integrate that into my life going forward.” The two stopped talking as the screams of others started to change, and upon focusing on the instance below them they could see people burning to death, rolling on the ground in desperation, or even just aimlessly walking until their bodies fully collapsed. Imogen and Riley both recoiled from the sight, their stomachs turning. “I don’t think I was prepared for this much death.” “Even at a distance, this is not great, or good, or anything positive. I know we talk shit about these people a lot, but I obviously don’t want them to go through this.” Imogen half turned, checking the ground behind them they fell backwards, staring up at the sky they let their stomach settle. Riley smiled shyly, following suit they felt the ick in their throat start to recede down their throat, uncomfortable in of itself, but a good sign of getting better. “Do you think that maybe we were a bit rough on them? I am feeling weird about everything we said now.” Riley said as they passed their hair through their hands repetitively. Imogen let out a long exhale in exasperation. “You have to be kidding me, I know what is happening isn’t great, but to be honest I have no sympathy. They don’t even speak like humans, they don’t deserve the same kind of empathy that we give to our own.” “Our own?” Riley said awkwardly. “Come on kid, this really isn’t hard, we are in a class system, and that system is ranked by finances, we are not the bottom, but we are fucking close. Those pricks down there are not even the richest, and they hold wealth that we could never dream of seeing. Why? I’ll tell you why, so they can throw these massive weddings where they spend more on one day than we will earn combined in five years.” “Come on, it can’t be that much.” “Really? Because I heard the wedding planner talking about it over the phone to someone, and I know for a fact that the number mentioned was ten times our wage. So if the both of us wanted to throw this party, we would have to not spend any money, while working for five years each. Don’t defend them, I am sick and tired of people not being comfortable insulting people when they need to be. They talk big, then they feel bad because they said mean things, and then they make excuses for the hoarding fucks, and they continue to get away with what they are doing because we are too busy being stuck in a cycle of hating, empathising, and arguing.” Imogen sat up, screaming out for an instant before they started to clutch their knees close. “Look at me go, I am helping perpetuate the bullshit system by getting mad at you. Go team.” Riley slowly sat up, looking back down into the carnage they made their eyes lose focus so they didn’t have to see anything. “Did you know you call people kid when you think they are stupid?” “No, I call people kid when I know they are doing something stupid. Don’t give them a second thought, they couldn’t give a fuck about you.” “Look I don’t like them, but can they all really be that bad?” “Okay, let’s go through the list. There was the old man you groped everyone working on the wait team, and if anyone kicked up a fuss they were removed in case they caused offence to our guest. Or how about the endless stream of people who ignore the parking wardens to try and get a closer park so they don’t have to walk as far, just to get angry with the wardens for having a shit system, that was only shit because everyone acted like an entitled cunt and feel justified calling us stupid. Or the collection of people that hit on us, then call us sluts and smack shit off our serving trays when we turn them down, and even talk loud enough for us to hear them talk about how they had to turn down the helps incessant advances to their friends. Or this, this one is good.” “I get it.” “No you don’t.” Imogen yelled. “So listen. What about the times when we were talked about like a charity case by them, talking about how it is nice for us to find purpose, and be put in a positive environment by these generous benefactors that pay us as close to minimum wage, call us fucking idiots, slow, and trying, while half of them came from old money and have never even known what it is like having to actually budget for anything. They are not humans, not anymore, they forgot how to be.” “Are you telling me, that you can look me in the eye and say that those people down there deserve what is happening to them?” Imogen turned to face Riley, their eyes red with rage, casting a heat from their intensity they spoke clearly. “They deserve this, and more.” “Well if they deserve this, then what do we deserve, there are those poorer than us, to them we are the same monsters.” “We deserve a fucking break, we are not what THEY are. We do have more money than others, but the difference is if can’t work we die, if we donate any kind of money there is a good chance that our quality of life will be negatively affected, while them, they could give away millions without anything in their life changing so don’t pull that bullshit with me, I am sick of this conversation, I’ve had it too many times before.” “Maybe, if you keep having this conversation with people it means that you are a minority with what you think, and maybe …

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Faith Meets Worship

A small fire crackled into the cold air, flickers of embers cooled to a soft ash that floated away on the upwards draft. Around the small fire two friends sat with a drink in hand, and a joint resting in the corner of one of their mouths as the other searched through the bag for a lighter. “I can’t see it.” They said as they started to dive through other pockets. “Are you sure you packed it into this bag?” They kept their head down in the bag, but when they got no reply they called out again. “Mike? Which pocket?” They turned around to see Mike lighting the joint with a stick which they had pulled from the fire. Mike puffed the joint alive and grinned. “We are in nature Jules.” He muttered as he took the joint from his mouth. “And nature always finds a way.” “Fuck off.” Jules said as she took the joint from Mike. “That and it turns out the lighter was in my pocket.” He said as he pulled the small green lighter out, waving it around with a smile. Jules rolled their eyes as they took a deep breath, blowing smoke straight up she looked to Mike, “So now that we are out here, what are we going to do? Or was this trip more of just a change of scenery for the same old shit?” “Change of scenery, really. I was tired of staring at the same grey blocks whenever we did this shit. Isn’t it nice to be around this much green?” “I mean, sure. But I gotta be honest, since it has turned night, I can’t really see much. All looks brown-y-ish. That and the obvious red and orange from the fire.” Mike smiled and raised an eyebrow as he took back the joint, taking a long drag he held it in as he spoke, handing it back over at the same time. His voice was strained as he kept the smoke in while he spoke. “That is already like eight more colours than we get in the city.” “I only said like, at most, four colours.” Mike exhaled heavily with a chuckle. “Eight, four, same thing really.” “I feel like that defeats the purpose of numbers having two separate ones that are just, synonymous.” Jules said back with a smile. “I am sorry but who is the engineer here?” Jules looked around baffled. With great exaggeration she gestured to the woods around them. “Well unless there is some third person around here, stalking from the woods, no one. Unless you’ve been hiding a good five years of your life from me. Because I sure as shit don’t have an engineering degree.” “Okay that is a fair point.” Mike sat up. “But do you want to hear a story from my job?” “Oh god, I really don’t know how I feel about your job right now. If you had gotten it like five years ago, I would have called you crazy, but now, now I am lowkey thinking you might be the most sane person for taking it.” “God no, there is a reason I am not sober at home, I have seen some fucked up shit. But it is also how I got the weed for tonight, one of my workmates is a literal hydroponics doctor or some shit, all the plant crap, grows the most potent shit.” Jules nodded with agreement, “On that note, lets put a pause on this.” She said as she put the joint out on the log next to her. “And tell me about your work story Mr ghost hunter.” “Oh that title has changed, due to the amount of just downright oddities that happen we have re-branded as abnormality investigators, or A.I for short.” Jules mimed jerking someone off. “What a wanker, I bet you have some kind of suit you wear to work too.” “God no, Kit is a great boss. They don’t give a fuck about any of that. But also, you may laugh, but since we changed our title, work has gone up like three-fold. So must work for some people.” “Whatever, tell me your story ghost boy.” Mike rolled his eyes before getting comfortable. “Again, don’t repeat any…” “Anything I say, this is actually something I can get in trouble for, blah blah blah. Yeah I get it.” “All right, chill. I just need to say that, so you can’t say I didn’t.” “I agree to all terms and wish to continue, and yes I am over 18.” Jules joked as she slumped down against her log. “Sweet, so the other day I went to work, and everything was normal, or at least as normal as my job gets, and before I could even put down my helmet, Kit’s office opened up and Charlie came out in a full stride. He pointed to me and was like. ‘You, let’s go. We are going out.’ “That is the worst Charlie voice I have heard you do. You need to step up your story game.” Mike sat up straight and began to annunciate clearly. “You, let’s go. We are going out.” “Worse, but please continue.” Mike’s chest deflated a little, and his hunch returned. “Whatever.” He said back with a smile. “So, he grabbed me, and we left. And I was fucking nervous, because Charlie is the guy that deals with all the hectic shit, like man is scarred, physically and mentally. Which now that I think about it, makes him your type.” “Boring, we have done this joke too many times. Carry on UN-funny man.” “But yeah, we are going out, and he is driving very fast. Which is hilarious, because he knows where all of the speed cameras are, so he will be hooning his way around the city, then suddenly slam his brakes on and slow right down for like twenty seconds, then zip off again. But then after all the crazy driving he slow drives for the last five minutes of the drive, like not back down to the limit, but actually like ten under. It was bizarre, and when I asked him about it, he just rolled his eyes and acted like what he was doing was normal.” “Okay so one of my favourite things about your job is that the people that are in it are weird as shit. No wonder they know where all the weird shit is going to happen, they are probably drawn to it.” “Well funny you should say that.” Mike replied, pointing a finger at Jules. “Everyone that works there is really normal, slightly introverted, and mildly socially anxious like most adults these days. But Charlie, Kit and Alex are all bizarre.” “Trust a trio of weirdos to start a ghost hunting company.” “Yeah, I don’t really see Alex or Kit, but Charlie is in and out all day. I swear to god that guy does not sleep. Like I have seen him start a job on Monday, then finish it late Tuesday, and immediately go onto another, like I have no idea where he gets the energy from.” “Coffee, energy drinks, cocaine, meth?” Jules listed off in quick succession. “I would usually agree, but I have never seen that guy drink anything other than tap water.” “Ew gross. Where does he get his tooth decay and sugar fix from?” “Oh the guy inhales candy haha.” Mike frowned a little as his eyes darted around a little. “Actually I don’t think I have seen him with his candy bag recently.” Mike stared off into the distance before shrugging away his efforts to remember. “Shake it up, I wanna know where you guys went.” Jules said as she leant in a little. “Um, yeah.” Mike struggled to rack his brain, snapping his finger he started to talk again. “Yes, so zoom zoom driving, then like really slow driving and I am weird for asking why. Then finally we pull over, and we are sat outside a church that was currently in session. Doors all closed, and the sound of people singing coming from inside. Charlie cracked his neck and took a couple of deep breaths before telling me to get out of the car. Which I would like to say made me fucking terrified that he was psyching himself up, but we both got out and I asked what was up, all he said back was that he was certain that in that church there was going to be an incident. So we both walked inside, his face changed from that permanent scowl to a soft expression. He literally had to stretch his face out to achieve it.” “Really? Wait is this just the shit the popped up the other day about he stabbing in the church?” “Yeah, but this was way more than just a stabbing, it is so much more complicated, and much longer than what was posted on the news.” “Alright, I am interested. I will allow you to continue through the boring parts I know. Just to get your flair.” “Essentially, we rocked up and, and Charlie was being very suspicious, he was looking around heavily, almost like he was looking for a pet or something. But after a minute of looking around he just stood up like nothing was wrong and looked back to me with a smile and told me to hurry up in a friendly tone, like we had just rocked up to a party and he was excited to go in. Never the less we head in and we are respectful, we apologise entering late, we are quiet, and we take a seat at the back of the church. Up the front was the preacher, the one that was stabbed.” Mike shuffled in his seat, he grabbed the joint and started to light it again. “Now, what do you know about the preacher? I don’t want to have to go over any more details than I need to about this guy.” Jules turned their vision upwards, their eyes naturally locked into position as their mind tried to recall through the haze of the weed cloud in their mind. “Not much, I literally don’t even know his name. But just the generic crap, preacher, started the whatserface church, lots of weird money donations, dude now has a big house and a luxury car. All that, and he has a model looking wife who seems a little simple in the head, and a couple of children that are like still small enough that they still can do adorable singing and make him look wholesome.” “Sweet, that is perfect. I definitely wont be passing this on to you though.” Mike said holding the joint up. “ Because there weas so much delay between you opening your mouth and speaking that I ma concerned you wont be able to understand me at all.” Jules laughed, a little too loud and shyly recoiled. “Alright you might have a point there, the shit you get from work is other-worldly. I have no idea how you handle it, I am on like two puffs.: “Honestly, I did worse than you when I first got this strain, actually messed me up so hard after one toke.” “Pft, lightweight.” Jules said jokingly. Mike laughed at them and raised their eyebrows rapidly as they took a heavy inhale. “Alright. More story. So dumb money-grubbing preacher is standing at the front of the church. This church was nice too. Like no shit, speakers from floor to ceiling, the long seat-y things with the most comfortable cushions you ever experienced. Total fucking luxury, and there we are sitting in the back row, sitting patiently. I leant over to Charlie and asked him what we are doing. He spoke really quiet, but pretty much from what I heard, we were waiting on someone to reveal themselves, because apparently the fucking weird machine that Kit has been working on actually works, sort of.” “Wait hold up, what …

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Mind Of Madness

One late night in the centre of town a man wandered the streets of his city. He stepped with haste, his face covered with a black hood, and his arms filled with a thick black trash bag, his back was weighed down with a back pack, and his eyes darted in every direction. The city was alive with Friday night fun, drunks wandered the streets, and people could be found in every corner of parks, car parks, and even the abandoned buildings that were not secured well enough. But the one place this man knew he would be safe was down below. He stepped as fast as he could towards a nearby graveyard, where he knew of an old, and forgotten access way, somewhere he would be left alone. He kept his head low and walked at a speed most would consider to be running. He stood at the lights waiting for the green man to appear, too nervous to run across the road with the late night drivers, between the drunks, and the boy racers, this man had seen more than his fair share of carnage. As soon as the man turned green he ran across the road, the final obstacle to his destination, he vaulted the low fence to the graveyard with little difficulty, stumbling over the roots, and nearly disintegrated graves he made a lot of noise for the quiet part of town, and soon a voice chimed up behind him. “Hey man, what you doing here at night. Looks pretty dodgy.” The man stopped moving, his grip on his bag got tighter, and his jaw flexed from side to side. “Just visiting a grave.” He replied. “I would appreciate my privacy.” “Oh so sorry, off you go.” The man paused, still looking forward, he took a deep breath and made his next step, but stopped as the man’s voice behind him continued. “Thing is though, I am an upstanding citizen, so I would have to call the cops about the man with a suspicious amount of bags going into a graveyard. Unless of course, I knew what was in the bag.” The man scowled under his hood. “Fine, but not here, I will show you where I am going, just don’t call anyone.” “Ha, deal. Let’s go buddy.” “Buddy…” the man snarled as his nose twitched. The man started back at his march towards where he was going, the slur spoken drunk behind him struggled to keep up, but was not deterred, and pushed forward. Eventually he lost sight of the hooded man for but a moment, and upon walking around a large tree with the threat of calling the police on his tongue he watched as the hooded man lifted a heavy metal cover from the ground in-between a large set of roots. “Oh yo. What is down there?” The drunk asked as he stumbled over, looking down the hole. “You.” The hooded man said as his cold stare was locked on the drunk. “Ha, what?” The drunk said, going to turn his head to look at the hooded man he felt a small blade pierce his neck, the breath fell from his lips and his body fell in, landing with a wet thump at the bottom. The hooded man looked around, even though he was sure that he was secluded, free from prying eyes. Not even someone in the nearby skyscrapers could see through the think canopy of the woods he was hiding in. The man carefully picked up his trash bag and made his way down the ladder into the disused service tunnel. He placed the bag down on the corpse of the drunk and ditched the back pack on the nearest patch of dry concrete, before returning to the top of the ladder to seal the hatch behind him. With a secure clang of metal, it slotted into place, sealing the hooded man in, leaving him in near complete darkness. He made his way down the ladder again, standing on the corpse of the drunk he picked up his trash bag and back pack, switching on the torches that were fixed to the top of his backpack’s straps. He then started to march through the narrow tunnel, whistling as he went. At each junction he muttered under his breath. “Left, right, straight, left, right, right.” Turning the last corner, he found himself deep in the tunnels, wandering for nearly half an hour. Following the last stretch of tunnel, he made his way to a large circle room with a grate high above in the centre of the ceiling. Letting in drips of water, light, and the noise of the world above. The man took a moment to stare at the light coming from a nearby street lamp before he made his way into the centre of the room. He placed the trash bag in to one side, along with his backpack. “I am sick of this planet, I can’t wait to be upon you, Hollow.” He said as he pulled a small collection of loose pieces of paper from his bag, all stored on separate pages of a clear file. Each one was tarnished, burnt, and barely legible. His fingers ran across the pages delicately. “It took me years to get this many, I just prey to the gods of Hollow that I have enough information this time.” He said as he pulled a large canister, after canister from his bag. Cracking the top seal he started to pour the thick blood onto the ground. He smeared the blood into a long line with a large circle at the top with a cross dividing it into four equal parts. To each side of the circle were crescent moons, one filled with the blood, the other, just a frame of the moon. Above the circle were three small circles stacked like a pyramid. Then to finish it off he ran a double helix around the main line, ending at the base of the large circle. With the last of the blood remaining on his hand he pressed his palms into the sockets of his eyes and rubbed outwards until his palms rolled onto his temples. Giving him a red band across his face, dark and viscus. He grabbed his trash bag and carefully carried it over to the centre of the large circle. Opening the top, he poured the thing from inside out. A heap of flesh that had been sewn and put together with bones and organs squishing on the inside. The bloated flesh sac laid limp on the ground, and the man tossed the bag to the side as he ran back to his backpack. He flicked through the clear file, staining the plastic with the blood on his hands, following the text with his finger he muttered under his breath on repeat. Satisfied he grabbed a large knife from his bag, and walked to the flesh bag that laid on the ground. With one hand raised to his chin height and his palm facing inwards, and the other raised to the same height with the knife in hand he began to recite. “I am here, a subject. I vow to do as you say, to be what you need me to be. As an offering, I have created a new nightmare for you to use on Hollow, let it plague those who dare to defy you. With my blood I offer my life to you, in hopes that you will take me from this world, a world that does not understand.” The man paused for but a moment as he cut his hand, already three scars laid across his hand. “You are chaos and night, the beacon of blight, the fear in my throat that I try to swallow, you are the true god of Hollow.” The man squeezed the blood from his hand and let it drop onto his offering below. There was nothing, no change. He closed his eyes tightly and squeezed his hand as hard as he could. The sounds of the street above mocked him with failure, weeding their way into his mind as a reminder that he was still on Earth. “I did everything, acknowledge me!” Tears fell from his eyes as his hand started to feel cold and cramped. He fell back onto his ass as he sat on the damp of the chambers floor. Peeling back his hood he revealed himself. Pale skin, scars all over his scalp, a shaven head where no hair grows, the symbol he drew on the ground tattooed on the back of his head. “No one has ever understood me here, I need to live in a world of eat or be eaten, it is the only way for me to feel me. Here, here I am just a mask of what I should be.” The man sniffed at the cold air, deciding what he was going to do with himself after this, how he was to return to normal life, or how he was going to continue this venture of his. He pulled out his phone and signed into his bank account to see a crushing number present on the screen. “Oh great, fucking money rules my life once again, such a stupid fucking system.” Out from his bag he pulled a small bottle of alcohol and took a swig as he sniffed. Taking a packet of cigarettes out of his bag, he sparked one up, struggling with the lighter as he did. As the flame took his body froze for a moment as he could hear footsteps echoing through the tunnel, his panic faded, and his face shrugged as he took another swig and sat back onto one of his elbows. “Hello stranger, come to admire my art?” There was a short pause, then a calm, and oddly relaxing voice spoke up. “I never really was a fan of that symbol, Anodyne can be lazy when he wants to.” The pale man froze mid drag, turning around was a man in steel cap boots, cargo pants, a heavy blue and black jacket, and a mask which had many eyes running down the it like stripes. “Who are you?” The pale man asked. “Depends who you ask, the most common one I am given is Mask, you can use that for now.” “How fitting… What are you doing here?” “I am here, because I have a bit of a gripe with Anodyne, and I love messing with his plans, so I am offering you passage to Hollow.” The pale man looked over Mask very carefully, trying to size him up. “You don’t look how I expected.” ‘I won’t, I am not from Hollow, I am just hiding out there for the meantime, good entertainment.” A second set of foot prints slopped their way through one of the partially collapsed tunnels where dirt and water mix to make a layer of mud at the base of the tunnel. Out from the darkness came a police officer. “Oh shit.” The pale man said, as he rubbed his head. His thoughts raced as he was trying to figure out what he was to do, how he could get away, but still talk to Mask. “That lift won’t be nessesary, Anodyne has sent me to fetch Mr Cromb.” The officer said, staring at Mask, changing his attention to the pale man he gestured back down the tunnel he came from. “This way, we will be in Hollow in no time.” Cromb stood, looking between Mask, and the officer confused. “I don’t know what I am supposed to do here.” Cromb said, looking to continue, but over run by Mask. “This is rich, what does Anodyne answer favours like Santa Claus now, or maybe Jesus even.” The officer rolled his eyes. “Listen here Tamt, Anodyne does not have time for you right now, please step aside or force will be used to ensure his guest arrives to his destination.” “Firstly, you don’t …

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Let’s Find Ghosts

In the middle of a city lays a dark secret, the secret was closed down, boarded up, and forgotten. But late at night, there are those who like to walk the halls, spend the night as a dare, drink, take drugs, and try to scare one another. Then there are those who have the desire to know, armed with strange equipment, and the hope to see something that will give them answers. Three people walked down a road aimed to the centre of the city, led by one, they strode the streets at night with confidence. Arriving at the secret their feet stopped, and they stood on the opposite side of the road, staring it down, without knowing what they were really looking at. “Damn, this place is creepy as fuck, I bet heaps of ghosts live here. I can’t believe I have never come here before.” “Shut up Charlie, it is an abandoned building, it really is not that creepy, and ghosts don’t just live in creepy buildings anyway.” The taller of the three individuals turned to the shorter, stouter one. “The whole point of coming here was to prove that ghosts exist Alex. We have all seen the news, there have been so many weird things happening recently. The ghost world is waking up.” “Kit, come on, you know I am a believer, by why do they always have to be in creepy places? It seems a little cliché.” Kit turned back to the building and smiled. “It is not creepy that they need, it is forgotten. They need their space to grow, to be able to appear without the interference of humans, but it needs to be somewhere people have been so they can tether themselves to the mortal plane. Or, at least, that is the theory.” Kit trailed off as they held their backpack tightly and sniffed in the cold air. “Come on guys.” Kit said looking back to the others. “Let’s go find some ghosts.” The three individuals walked across the road to where the old building stood, it had large stone walls surrounding it, with metal spikes across the top, the old metal gate had warped, and rusted with neglect, and abuse, allowing the three of them to squeeze through into the unkempt grounds. “What was this place before it was shut down?” Alex asked as they struggled to fit through the gate with their satchel. “It was an orphanage.” Kit answered. “Oh, proper creepy. What the fuck happened here?” Charlie added. “Well no one really knows, if you look to your right, that building over there is a church, and apparently they had something to do with it. But in typical church fashion, they told no one.” “What do you mean no one knows, you can’t just shut down an orphanage, what happened to the kids?” Alex asked, throwing their hands up in confusion. “Well that is the interesting part, the church says they were re homed within their wider community, but there were no official records given, so there is no paper trail to finding them, so either they hid it, or those kids had a different ending than what has been said.” Kit said as they pulled out a flash light from their bag. “Come on, I want to go inside, I need to test out my new equipment.” The group approached the front of the building, the large double doors were boarded shut, but the bottom of the door was charred black and kicked in, leaving a small hole that was easy to crawl through. “Gross, my clothes are going to need to be cleaned after this. Shouldn’t we be concerned about the burning here, like structural integrity?” “Oh I actually know this one, some kids came here one night as a dare to one another, and apparently they were here most of the night, but before sunrise people noticed smoke coming from the building and called the fire people. The kids were crazy fucked up, and they actually deemed the building unsafe for habitation after that, there was a sign on the main gate we passed through warning people to stay out.” Charlie said as they dusted off the soot from their knees. “So the building is structurally unsafe, then why are we here?” “I don’t believe it, that is why.” “Kit, you are going to have to explain more than that if you want me to stay, let alone go to the second story.” “Firstly there are technically four stories, secondly, it was never logged officially with council, despite all the signs being addressed from the council. I have looked up every record I could find on this building, and every aspect of it is weird. Like very weird, look, come here.” Kit walked over to the reception desk and brushed as much of the dust and soot aside as they dumped their bag onto it and started to pull out large rolls of paper. The other two gathered around to have a look. “You do know that technology exists right? We don’t have to use big fuck off pieces of paper anymore.” Charlie stated as they flourished the paper. “It is literally already getting ruined by the damp and the burn of this place.” “Shut up, I want to hear what Kit has to say, I am all for finding dirty secrets of the church.” “Alright, check this out. Here are the schematics for the building before the church was built next door, memorize that as good as you can. Now this is the schematics after the church was established.” Alex and Charlie looked over both the schematics, studying them carefully. “Oh shit, the basement is missing.” “And the attic.” Alex added. “Not only that, but if you look more carefully, there are whole rooms that have been left off this schematic. Not only that, but the longer the church was there, the simpler the schematics got with each update. Fortunately, this is all public record, so we are going to be going off the original schematics, I have marked which doors have been removed in the later updates.” “Why the colours? Some of these doors are marked with green, yellow, red, black.” “So the colours are telling us in what update they were removed in, these colours are acting as a timeline.” Charlie looked around, pulling out their own torch they shone it around. “It is a shame this place has been trashed, it is a fucking fancy building, all those crazy ass wooden carved hand rails, and whatever is left of that chandelier. It’s a damn shame.” “Yeah, I wonder why they shut the building down, this place would have sold for a mint, could have been a fancy hotel.” Alex added as they looked over the schematics, spying the enormous kitchen. “Instead, it has become a point of interest to me, and that is much cooler than a hotel, or a fancy house for some rich pons. But hey, that is just my opinion.” The three of them laughed together, their hushed tones getting louder as their bodies started to relax more, Kit, their body remained tense with anticipation. They looked at their map and browsed the entrance way, counting doors and pacing out the room as the other two sifted through the trash that had been left from everyone who had managed to sneak into the building before them. “Hey Alex.” “Yeah?” “How long do you think it will take before Kit starts ripping down the walls to find these hidden doors?” Alex and Charlie looked at one another, then over to where they could hear kit rummaging around, they watched as Kit tapped rapidly against a wall until they heard a difference in the knock. “Uh ha!” They screamed as almost appearing from thin Kit had a crowbar in their hand, and hard started to knock chunks out of a wall. “I would say that long. But for the sake of their body, please go do the heavy hitting, I don’t want their body giving out on them again.” Charlie gave a little salute to Alex and jogged over to Kit. “Hey Kit, give me that. Your weak noodle arms won’t do enough damage to paper, let alone a door.” Alex watched as Kit handed over the crowbar, already out of breath from the few swings that they took. Charlie took over, and started to swing as Alex looked around. The floor was covered with a loose dirt that lifted with each step made through it, and the base of walls seemed to collect all the paper and cardboard trash that had been brought inside. Alex’s eyes tracked a series of large slashes through the wall paper above the wooden bottom of the walls. But even as Charlie continued to assault the wall in the background Alex became oblivious as their attention was drawn to a series of scratches at the base of an outward facing corner. They knelt down and got close to them. Two sets of four, thin scratches into the wood which ended at the corner, they looked up and the large slash through the wallpaper ended at the wooden panelling at the bottom of the wall, but not before it had taken a sizeable chunk out of the wood. Alex took a step back and mimed dragging someone, then stopped, and mimed the slashing of a single handed bladed weapon. When they looked up they saw the others laughing. “What the fuck are you doing?” Charlie asked as they leant on the crowbar with one arm as if it were a cane. “Look at this and tell me you don’t see the same thing. It looks like someone was dragged, then cut down with like a machete or something.” Charlie and Kit walked over and looked over the markings like Alex before them. Kit pulled out their camera and started to film the marks. “If you look here, there is a set of what looks like fingernail scratches in the wood, then this massive slash as if someone brought down a big machete into the person being dragged, and judging by the damage to this thick wooden panel, they were someone with a fair bit of strength.” They put away their camera, then grinned at Alex. “Come on, Charlie got the door open, this is amazing.” The three of them stepped to the hidden door and looked at how it swung gently in its frame. “In future, please bring a grinder with a cutting wheel, because peeling those wooden panels was a fucking bitch.” Charlie said, still a little out of breath. “Noted.” Kit said as they smiled. “Who wants to go first?” Alex and Charlie looked to one another with the same look. “Obviously you.” Alex said as they grabbed the door. “Come on, get your camera out.” “Oh right.” Kit said as they rushed to get their camera out, nearly dropping it in the process. “Okay, so we have just peeled back the fake wall, and revealed this hidden door at the old burnt orphanage.” “I Peeled back the wall, credit where credit is due please.” Charlie said jokingly, flexing as Kit aimed the camera at them. “Yes, Charlie peeled back the false wall, but now we are going in. Alex, if you don’t mind.” Alex obliged and pulled the door open, stopping after a few inches as the door got stuck, having to pull the door several times, jerking it open enough to walk through. “Elegance!” Charlie yelled. The other two laughed as Kit walked forward into the dark room. “Light.” Kit called out. The other two pulled out their torches and aimed them into the room, and all three of them stopped moving. “Are your torches dying?” Kit asked as they watched the light only reach a meter in before failing to pierce the dark. Charlie aimed their torch into the main hall and watched as it illuminated a shadow on the far side …

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My Day Has Disappeared

Nicholas sat, staring wide eyed at the opposing wall. He did not blink, nothing but a soft static echoed inside his ears. He blinked and shook his head as if he was breaking a hypnosis effect. His eyes ached, and it wasn’t until now that he noticed he mouth had been open slightly, leaving him with a dry tongue. Blinking through the pain on his eyes, he adjusted to the darkness of the room.“Strange.” He said as he rubbed gunk from the corner of his eyes. “I could have sworn it was morning, where did the day?”Nicholas rolled his tongue around his mouth as he tried to bring life back to it, meanwhile his hands had already started to tap away at his knees, as random tunes appeared in his head. He stared at every inch of his room, the strong white walls were overwhelming with the white lights in the Fluro tubes in the ceiling. His desk was somehow whiter, and the crisp sheets on his bed were whiter still. A simple, red, round rug filled the centre of his room with the only sign of colour that wasn’t himself, even though he was pale, he seemed tanned compared to the room.“Where.” Nicholas said as he finally took in his surroundings. “How, did I, here, where is here?”A small latch on the padded door flipped open and the sound of a deep voice fell through.“Now that you are awake, please wait for transport.”The latch closed as quick as it had opened, leaving more questions than answers.“Transport, where are you taking me?” Nicholas yelled, jumping to his feet.He stood awkwardly as he waited for a response, but he was left standing with his mouth slightly ajar.“You can’t just keep me in here, you have to tell me somethi…”The door opened abruptly, two large orderlies wheeled in a bed with wheels as an elderly man followed them in with a syringe in hand, and a medical face mask.“You are free to go if you no longer want to participate in the experiment.” The man said as he lowered the syringe. “It was your choice to come here, you are only one treatment away from being paid for this trial, memory loss is an unfortunate side effect of this particular medication. Something we were unaware of until this experiment started.”Nicholas looked at the now smaller looking orderlies, and how he felt as if they were not blocking his path. They simply stood patiently to one side of the room while the elderly man gestured for the door to be used.“If you do decide to leave, the exit is just through the doors at the end of the hall, push the green button on the wall to unlock them, and then you will be met with reception, sign out there.”Nicholas looked to the syringe with a cautious eye.“How much was the payment?” He said, still looking at the syringe that shook gently in the mans grasp.“For a full session of nine dosages over a thirty day period, twenty four thousand dollars.”“You said this was my last dose?”“That is correct Mr Baker. Lucky last.” The elderly mans face rose as if he was smiling.The man left the room and grabbed a clip board off the wall next to Nicholas’s room. He flicked through the pages until he came across the second to last page.“Here, incase you are unsure of anything,”Nicholas took the clipboard and looked over the page. It was covered with his information, date, and signature at the bottom.“Well no doubt that is my signature, and my hand writing.” Nicholas shrugged as he handed back the clip board. “One last dose then. What do you need me to do?”“Just lay on this bed, we will administrate the medication, then you will be shifted to your resting room.”“Yeah, no worries, sorry this is just a little jarring, it just feels a little creepy you know?”Nicholas waved his hands for emphasis when he noticed a plastic tube going into his hand.“Oh, it is one of this easy access point things. I guess I have been here for a while.” Nicholas looked up to them smiling. “Man, you think I would be used to memory loss stuff by now, considering my past history with it.”Nicholas rambled on nervously as he laid down on the bed. The old man administrated the medicine, then stepped back from the bed.“Hey, what is this medicine for?” Nicholas asked, trying to calm his nerves.“It is not medicine.”Nicholas chuckled nervously.“Oh right, because for it to be medicine I have to be sick right, so what is it?”“Well you see, Anodyne was having issues with holding onto you while you slept. This sedation will hold you asleep until he can do what he wants to do with you.”Nicholas’s eyes went wide as he clambered from his bed, falling to the floor.“Where am I?”The old man removed his mask to reveal severe facial burns, his teeth and mouth as black as coal. His voice changed from a soothing old man, to one of someone who had smoked since they were born.“You are already in Hollow Nicholas. We are sorry, but we can’t let you out. Those pesky Vindicators are still trying to get to you, and last time we forced you into taking the medicine my face ended up like this. You have more Anodyne in you than you realise, there is a fire in you Nicholas.” The old man started to cackle as Nicholas fell from consciousness.Nicholas felt the same dizziness that he was used to when he fell into a nightmare. The darkness that surrounded him felt thick, and cold. He spun, round, and round, until he slammed down hard, on a cold ground.“God, this feels so much worse with whatever that doctor gave me.”“You know you were the one that burned him, right? You torched his face without a second thought, pretty cold.” Anodyne spoke softly from the darkness of under a tree.“Where are we this time, what new horror are you going to put me through?”Anodyne walked out from the shadows, grinning.“I have a new game for you, one that I will enjoy. Greatly.”Nicholas had grown tired of Anodyne’s games, he stared at him, unamused.“Fine, fine. You used to be so much fun Nicholas, so many questions. Now you just wait for me to speak, that is fine though, because this time will be like the first time. The serum that you were given is going to affect your memory, soon you will be just like the others. Just another one looking for a fun for a scary, but fun time.”“What are you on about?” Nicholas asked as his vision went hazy.“Find me, you know my symbol.” Anodyne called out as he disappeared.Nicholas’s vision started to clear, but his mind clouded. He strained to keep his memories, kneeling on the ground he grasped his head and groaned until his memories fell from his mind. He slowly stood, trying to think as hard as he could with no luck.“Nicholas!” Yelled a woman’s voice from behind him.A short woman with long black hair ran up to him, giving him a big hug.“Oh hot damn, how are you going Mia?”She grinned and stepped back.“So good, the others are here too, you ready for a great night, a spooooky night?”Nicholas laughed as two more people wandered over.“Sophia, Jason. You two look great! What exactly have you come as?” Nicholas called out.“We have come as zombie rockers, we planned this remember? Mia came as her signature sexy short person, and I am ashamed to see that despite you loving Halloween more than the rest of us you have come, once again, in a hoodie and jeans.” Jason said, before giving a hug to Nicholas.“Oh shut up, just be glad I am never bothered, otherwise I would show all of you up. So what are we even doing here?” Nicholas said looking around confused.“This was your idea, we booked the most intense halloween horror house. You booked us in two years ago. Come on Hollow awaits.”Nicholas’ expression faded, his eyes fluttered and he looked to his friends, they seemed to move in slow motion towards a large dilapidated building with a large, flickering neon sign.‘Hollow House.’“Hollow House here we come.” Jason yelled as he wrapped his arm around Sophia and marched towards the building.“HH.” The two girls yelled in response.Nicholas followed instinctively, but his mind raced as he tried to remember something that felt like it was shrouded, just out of reach. Suddenly a panicked man fell from the exit door of the building screaming with a high pitch. His friends followed him out laughing. Nicholas’ thoughts were pulled from what he was thinking and he laughed, jogging slightly to catch up to the others.“Hurry up loser, or are you telling me that the horror writer is scared of the spooky house?”Sophia said, turning around, walking backwards she mocked Nicholas with a smirk.“Oh very funny woman, how about you turn around and cling to your man again. Hide under his jacket why don’t you.”“How rude, well we all know you are going to cling to Mia.”“Damn straight, nothing scarier than a sexy short woman.”Mia flicked her hair and took Nicholas’ arm into her own, before strutting past the other two.“Damn straight you two, prepare for this queen to march us through here like a walk in a park.”“Yeah you tell us Mia.” Sophia screamed and cheered as they got to the front door.At the front was a man who stood over six-foot-tall, he was dressed in a tattered suit with a manual ticket dispenser. He wore a mask with closed eyes and a soft smile. He bowed slightly with one hand pressed against his chest. He then cranked his dispenser and four tickets came out. In silence he handed them to Nicholas and his friends individually. He then stepped back and gestured for them to enter through a small crawl way.“Do not drop the ticket, that is not so you can enter, it is so you can leave.” Said the tall man before he stepped out of the way. “Enjoy your trip to Hollow.”The group laughed with one another as they all crawled through the entrance hole. Mia went first, followed by James and Sophia, then Nicholas went last. As Nicholas crawled through he looked back to see the tall man lean down in front of the entrance to the hole and wave.“Have a hellish time lost ones. Like lambs to the slaughter.”Nicholas shook his head as he continued.“What a terrible line, I can’t believe anyone thinks that, that is scary.” He muttered as he climbed from the tunnel to find the others looking around the room he had entered. The walls were made from pallets, and the floor looked like a well worn concrete, there were work benches and hay littered around the room with the floor painted with just one word.‘Search.’“Well that seems vague.” Nicholas said.“Yeah, but there is some cool stuff around here.” Mia said as she waved around a sickle. “Look a tiny scythe.”Jason laughed. “That is a sickle, used for gathering, guess what.” He said as he knelt and threw some hay in the air. “Hay.”“Come off it, I am not that dumb. I was making a joke.”“You know what they say. Those who laugh the hardest in a scary situation are usually the most scared.” Sophia said, staring over at Mia.Mia gave the evils to Sophia and they all continued looking around the shack.“What are we even looking for?” Jason said as he flicked through old mechanical manuals.“Has anyone tried the door?” Nicholas asked.Everyone looked around at one another and rolled their eyes.“Surely not.” Sophia said dismissively.Nicholas walked over to the door and held the handle, he looked at everyone else in turn before he turned the handle slowly. It creaked as the rusty mechanics of it struggled to move past one another. Nicholas pushed the door and released the handle at the same time, allowing it to creak open. …

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Pale Green Eyes

A young boy sat in his bed with his blanket pulled high to his face as his mother sat on the corner of his blanket, she flicked through a small book with a worn spine and faded colours on the cover. “We don’t have to read from this book, we can go back to your other one.” She said softly. The child shook his head and slowly lowered his blanket down to his waist. “No, that one is for babies. I want a spooky story.” “That is my big strong man. You will protect me if I get scared reading this won’t you?” The son sat up and reached over to the mum with a sympathetic hand. “I will protect you mum, they are just stories.” “Of course, I am so silly.” The mum giggled and grabbed her sons’ stomach and tickled him, the two of them giggled for one moment before the mum rested on a page. “Ah, how about this one? It is called, the Pale Green Eyes.” “What is it about?” His hands already tensing on his blankets again. The mum read ahead, flicking through the pages she frowned at points before she finally smiled. “This is a good story, for a big strong man. But I can only read it if you are really brave.” “I am really brave!” He practically shouted. “Okay well here we go then.” She said with excitement in her voice, shifting closer to her son she began. “The Pale Green Eyes, one story of many, in the small book of folklore. Up in the north where the green grass is replaced by the hard greys of stones, and the dew drops freeze to where they cling, is a small community of hardy people. They live in the sleet and snow, building their homes from the woods that protect them from the harsh winds of the few lands that are further north than they are. Their nights last weeks, and there days come and go in minutes, they struggle through life in darkness. If it were not for the light of the moon they would be bathed in the black blanket of the sky, consumed by its cold. The people that live here are large, they are nearly as wide as the trees that grow, with skin as thick as the stones that litter the landscape. Isolated from the comforts of the civilised world they have started to partake in strange forms of entertainment, competing with one another by testing their own strength against one another. They pick up, and throw entire tree trunks, shatter stones with their fists, and go into the wild to see you can survive in the most remote, wolf filled section of their country. Wolves, bears, and other beasts of the wood pose a challenge for these people, but there is one thing that they fear, the Green-Eyed Owl.” The child stirred in his bed, poking out from under his covers. “I love owls.” He ducked his head lower again, and babied his voice unintentionally. “Do you think this is going to be a bad owl?” The mother smiled sweetly and stroked the hair of her son to comfort him. “I think it might be, but that does not mean you have to stop liking owls. There are still plenty of good ones out there.” “Good, maybe this one will get told off, or maybe it will learn to be good.” The mother aww’d as she tweaked her son’s cheek. “Maybe if he came to meet you, you could get him to be good.” “Yes!” He shouted. “Go back to reading please.” The mum licked her thumb and turned the page. “This owl was special to the people, it had once been a guardian of the forest. He would wander between the trees and make sure that none of the Fae had come from the other side to play tricks on the inhabitants of the forest. But on one day the owl fell for the nastiest of the tricks that the Fae pulled.” “What do you think it is?” The boy asked. “I think that… they put all his socks in the river.” The boy giggled and scrunched his face as he tried to think of a response. “Well I think that they pulled off his pants when he was dancing.” “Oh, that is very tricky. I have never seen an owl wear pants before. Must be a very special owl.” The two went back and forth with a volley of nonsense until the mum insisted on continuing so they might finish the story before bed time. “The owl is huge, he is taller than the moose that roam, and his beak can crush entire tree logs with one snap. When he flies, there is no sound, and his feathers help him blend into the nights sky. If you were to be looking up at as he passed over you may not realise that he had already moved in and out of your vision. Being so large he has to eat a lot, the forest brings all their old and wounded to the owl to eat, it was apart of their nature to give themselves to the owl when they could no longer survive in the world, so the owl was not suspicious when a large green grub crawled up to him. The owl gobbled it up in a flash, but as it swallowed it noticed the Far starting to gather around, poking there little heads out from the trees, and emerging from under the leaf litter of the forest. The owl got ready to strike, but stopped when he noticed the Fae laughing. His stomach rumbled, and the laughter of the Fae got louder. The owl started to panic, and then it begun. His stomach twisted, and he fell to the ground with pain as the magical grub in his stomach started to do what it was meant to. The Fae had tricked the owl, and where it once had calming blue eyes and a soft complexion, he now had an angled face of anger, and pale green eyes that beamed from his face like two beams of moonlight.” “What do you think is going to happen?” The son asked. “I don’t know, but what do you think will happen?” “I think, that the bug in his tummy will make him do naughty things, but he will beat it, and go back to helping people.” The boy said optimistically, blind to the nature of the folklore in the book. “I think you may be right, lets see where this goes.” The mum started to read but stopped. “And if you need me to stop at any point let me know, okay?” “Yes mum.” He groaned. “Now, keep going… Please.” The mum smiled to herself and then continued reading. “The Fae giggled their wicked giggles as the Owl stood once again, black feathered, and greened eyed. He was no longer the moonlight owl, but the Fae light owl, a beacon of the Fae, a titan to lead them as they went out into the world to cause mischief and mayhem. The owl was now under the control of the Fae, and they were looking to make up for time lost because of the owl. They wanted to do things that they could not do before, and target those who were too strong for them to target before. They were feeling confident, and bold, looking for the next level of chaos they could cause to those around the world, starting with the town that they had been denied since the birth of the owl.” The mum looked up to see the fear in her sons eyes, he was trying to hide it, but it was still apparent. “You can keep reading.” He said with a quiet whisper. The mum sighed and continued reading. “But before any of the Fae could do anything the owl started to choke and splutter, out from its mouth came the grub, and the owl stomped down on it, killing it. The Fae all looked around shocked and began to run back into the forest, the owls eyes returned to normal and he started to hunt down all the Fae that got past him. It was not long before he had caught everyone, banishing them back to the forest, and keeping the town safe once again.” The child’s eyes lit up and he shot out of the blankets. “You said this was a scary story, but the owl kicked butt. He was all swoosh, and no Fae could trick him. He is too strong.” The mum grabbed her son and wrestled him back to the bed. “That is right, and now since you have your owl looking after you, you can go to sleep!” The mum wrestled and argued with her son until eventually the son wore out and slowly passed out. The mum walked out of the bedroom exhausted and sat down in the lounge, slumping down into the couch with the book on her lap. She grabbed the half empty glass of wine she was drinking early and sipped at it. “Why he wants to read these is a mystery to me, I barely want to read them, they always have grim endings.” She muttered as she opened the book to where she left off. “Now, what really happens in this story?” “The owl turned on the village, and wreaked havoc to all who slept in their homes. He led an army of Fae to the town he once swore to protect. Where once their intentions were mischief, they now felt strong enough to do more. With the owl at the head of their army they wanted to do more, they wanted to have more. They felt as if they had been denied the creature comforts that the humans indulged on, and now the Fae wanted it to be their turn. They stormed homes, taking goods of all sorts, from gold and gems, to weapons and powerful magics. With the owl at their vanguard they took all they desired, which soon included humans. They began to snatch the children from their beds and put them to work, forcing them to do anything and everything that the Fae wanted. The excitement from the power of the owl was overflowing, consuming their once mischievous nature, and turning it to one of villainy.” “God damn, how are these supposed to be kid stories? This is going to give any child a fear of abduction. Who wrote this?” She turned the book over to see the headshot of the author, but it was a photo of an empty chair with the name written beneath it. ‘The Author’ “Really? The Author. Is that supposed to be a pen name, or did they just forget to write him in?” She laughed to herself, self-congratulating her joke. “Okay, not too much left, I will finish this, then head to bed.” “It was not long before the town was over run, even the adults were forced into submission as the Fae took over everything, enslaving the whole town. The ideas of pranks changed from shuffling items and breaking small things to cutting people and putting glass through food. The spirits of everyone was broken, their souls crushed and compacted. Everyone was afraid of the owl, but terrified of leaving after seeing what happened to those that tried to run. But unlike a scared child in bed, they could not have their mum change the story to make them feel better. The Mother frowned and stiffened in her seat, sitting forward she chuckled to herself nervously as she took a large sip from her wine glass. It did not matter what people did, the Fae was never satisfied. They had been denied so much, and now they had everything they could want. But now it all started to feel empty, the Fae began to hurt one another, and fight amongst themselves …

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A Winning Smile

Nicholas wandered aimlessly down the main street, cruising on his board he enjoyed the cool nights air on his face as he wandered from club to club, laughing at the drunks and chatting to the bouncers outside. Rolling down the main thoroughfare late at night he often found himself dodging stray legs, stumbling drunks, and avoiding piles of vomit and piss. Although it was never an environment that Nicholas considered to be nice, he always enjoyed his Friday night skates. He made sure to keep his headphones on, with the music up loud so he never had to worry about what others would yell at him. But none of that mattered to Nicholas, because tonight was a special night, not for him, but for the city. A huge celebration was happening, a festival where people would dress up and get painted, while still getting up to the same drunk shenanigans. Except this time there was also street food and a much wider range of persons to watch and listen to. Nicholas weaved through the crowds, marvelling at their colourful dress, and intricate face paint. The decorations illuminated the street with strong reds, greens, and blues. While people carried around balloons and other thematic cosmetics from the various stalls. Nicholas couldn’t help but love the tacky plastic lightbulb cups that had an led light in them to make the drinks glow. It was on the forefront of his mind to find where they were coming from as everyone seemed to have one. The closer he got to the centre of the festival the more packed the sidewalks became, so he quickly moved onto the road, looking around he made sure he was safe from traffic when a strange individual caught his eye. Nicholas stood stiff legged, jaw slack as he stared at this man standing in the back of a crowd. He was nearly two heads taller than anyone else, bald, as pale as chalk, with violet eyes, and the most vibrant red gums which outlined his perfect smile. The mans dark robes added to the strangeness that was him. All of a sudden Nicholas was snapped out of his trance by the sound of a car horn. He turned to see a car barrelling towards him. Nicholas narrowly swerved out of the way and the guy droving threw a finger out the window. “Eat shit cunt, this is a festival, slow the fuck down.” Nicholas yelled as he corrected himself. Turning back to where the strange man stood he saw nothing but crowds and buildings. Nicholas scanned the crowds, and scrunched his face in frustration when he was incapable of spotting him. “Fucking weird, god damn eyes looked like they were going to pop out of his skull, I need to follow him.” Nicholas said as he shuddered. Despite the fact the man made Nicholas feel uncomfortable he wanted to find him again, so he could use his visage and self to inspire his writing to be written better when it came to writing characters with a creepy disposition. But that would have to wait, for he found the fake lightbulb drinks. “Oh thank fuck, I need one of these.” He said as he hoped off his board and ran to the stall. Catching a servers attention he called out with wallet in hand. “He can I get a lightbulb drink?” The server laughed then pointed to a long line of customers, the few at the front that heard him shook their head and pointed to the back of the line. Nicholas frowned, and let loose a long-winded sigh. “Yup, that checks out. Looks like I don’t really want one if I think about it.” He turned around to look at the other stalls that were nearby just to realise that they were all the same. Each one had a queue that seemed to stretch for a mile, and grew every second he did not enter one. Nicholas rolled his eyes and hoped back on his board. Heading away from the main section of the festival he scouted the outskirts for less popular stalls. But despite his searching, everywhere seemed to be as busy as the last, and as a rule Nicholas hated to be stationary on his late-night skates, doing whatever it would take to make sure he was moving in one way or another. But he had to stop when he spotted the tall man again. This time he was staring off in another direction and Nicholas caught the shining white beacon that was the back of his head. The man seemed almost perfectly motionless, and for the briefest of moments Nicholas assumed that he must be looking at a mannequin set up for a stall, but then he moved. Nicholas stopped his idle march completely when he noticed the slow pan of the mans head. His eyes were bulging from his skull and nearly stuck out as much as his nose. The wide grin made sure to instil the most amount of fear possible into Nicholas’ system. Nicholas felt as if he was staring at a robot the way his head seemed to rotate without affecting the rest of his body. Even when it stopped it seemed like it his the end of a run and stopped so fast that his head wobbled side to side slightly for the briefest moment before remaining still. Nicholas then had to lean in when he saw the mans lips moving as if he was in conversation, despite the fact that the two of them were dozens of meters apart, and there was music playing that made the masses sound quiet. “What  on Earth is thi…” Nicholas cut himself short and spun his head a hundred and eighty degrees to look behind himself. A feeling of relief crossed him when there was nothing weird behind him. He was worried that the man might have been staring at something sneaking up on him and was waiting for the chaos to ensue. After sating his fears he turned back to see the bald man walking off, intrigued Nicholas followed the man. Although when he started his feet felt heavy as he struggled to step closer to the man. “Come on Nic, it is just a guy. Probably has some kind of disease that makes him look weird, no need to be scared. Just follow him and see what we can find out.” He talked himself up, but still his footsteps felt weighted, like everything in his body was trying to put on the brakes. But he pushed forward, moving through the park he slowly built up speed, but felt like he was walking weird which caused him to over think and actually walk weird. Most people ignored him though as a lot of people were drunk enough that he still seemed more sober than most. Nicholas made sure not to lose the man, but also made sure that he was not seen, keeping him at the furthest distance possible, he wasn’t hard to follow, so he made sure to take his time. Usually he would attempt to intercept his movements by moving ahead of the person and sitting down somewhere where he would get to see them move, or even catch them talking with someone. But Nicholas was afraid to be in the eyeline of this man, there had already been two instances of this man looking at him while he was in a crowd, and he was not going to risk it happening in proximity. Furthermore, the man moved in ways that Nicholas found hard to predict, even with his slow trudge Nicholas did not have enough time to calculate his route. But once he saw him turn down an alley he thought that it was going to be the end of his chase, because he knew never to follow anyone into an alley, no matter how curious he was. Skating past the entrance to the alley he stopped by planting a single foot down heavy onto the pavement. He was shocked to see someone holding a knife to the man, a decision Nicholas thought was bold because of how much larger that weird man was. He was not only tall but with the side profile put into perspective he saw how much mass this man had, and it was intimidating. “Hand over the wallet, now freak.” The robber yelled as Nicholas approached slowly. “I don’t have a wallet, I need no money I simply need to be. Something that you won’t have the burden of being soon.” The mugger spat at the weird man and went to insult him again, but with surprising speed the man grabbed the knife with one hand, and the robbers through with his other. Nicholas watched as the weird man snapped the mugger’s neck like it was a chicken bone, he then carefully carried him over to a bin and placed him among the trash. Nicholas couldn’t speak, his body knew something was off and yet he still pushed, and now he was a witness to murder. He went to run but his legs had frozen, worse still, he had wandered deep into the alley without realising it and now feared the moment that the weird man might turn around. A fear that soon became reality, the weird man turned and smiled that same awful smile, and stared with those same bulging eyes. He started to walk towards Nicholas, this time he did not shuffle like he did through the streets, he almost looked like he was running, but the way his upper body was hunched, and seemed to fill the space of the alley he almost seemed as if he was just getting larger instead of moving closer. His hands rose and showed off his gnarled fingernails that were thick and pointed, not that he got to look at them for long because they soon found purchase on his shoulders and neck. Nicholas assumed he was about to die as he looked at the man with fear in his eyes. His breathing somehow less laboured than the weird man in front of him. But instead of raising him off the ground he gripped at his shoulders as if he was giving him a massage. Nicholas finally got time to examine his face, it looked as if it was melting from his very skull. It wasn’t until he felt himself being jostled that he realised that the weird man had been talking to him. “What?” Nicholas said, unable to hide his fear. “The cookie woman, have you seen her?” “The coo, the cookie woman?” “The cookie woman.” He said shaking Nicholas again. “She lives in a house on the wharf, her home is filled with lights.” Nicholas started to blubber as he struggled to deal with the situation. “Don’t cry here, come to the big water, add your salt to theirs. We can go together, you can meet her. Her eyes are sapphires, and her hair is made of sand and powdered glass, and most importantly she looked to me as if I were normal, but she does not know what I am. Because if she did she would have screamed and ran.” Nicholas started to shake, and his legs gave out, but the weird man held him up with no effort at all. “You have seen what I like to do, I like to harm.” The weird man pulled Nicholas closer, Nicholas’ eyeline brought to the same height as the weird man’s mouth. Nicholas watched the red of his gums come in and out of view as he spoke. “Do you want to be harmed like the other, he resides in that dumpster now, I gave him a home. I can give you a home too.” Nicholas felt the air being squeezed from his body, his eyes started to tear up almost as soon as the burning in his chest started to flair up. His ears popped and audio started to sound muffled as his …

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I Am Going To Write

Nicholas stood outside his new home with his hands on his hips, and a smile on his face. He looked up at the run down shed with desire in his eye. He turned to Dean who stood by his side, extending his grin further he wrapped his arm around him. “Are you excited?” Dean asked and he pushed closer to him. “Oh fuck yes, this is going to be so much fun.” Nicholas let go of Dean, he walked towards the shed and opened the large bolted door to reveal the cavernous internals. Wandering in he looked through everything with excitement. His mind ran with plans of what might come, and what he desired.to do to the old shed. “Do you think that this shed will be too much of a job for us?” Dean asked with an antagonising smile. “What? No! This is the most perfect place ever, and the mortgage repayments will be less than rent in the city so this is a massive win.” Dean grabbed Nicholas’ chin and directed it upwards. “I ask because there appears to be a massive hole in that part of the roof, and not only that, but that internal gutter looks like stars with all those holes in it.” Nicholas swatted Dean away. “Those are all small fixes, you got to look at what everything can be, not what it is. Sure there are a few holes here and there, and that part of the floor seems to be slanting like it is sinking into the ground, but this place will be my kingdom once I am done with it.” “Kingdom?” Dean Laughed. “This is just one shed Nic, I think you are getting overly excited.” “One shed can be a kingdom, but this one wont have to be.” Nicholas turned Dean around to face into the large paddock they stood in. “We own everything to those trees, and along that line to those sets of trees. Which means all these small shed and covers are ours too. We just need to do a little weeding and maybe fix them up a bit, and then, we shall have a kingdom to rule over.” “I think you are getting a little excited… And so am I. Let us rule as kings together over our pile of, um, trash, and falling down buildings?” Nicholas scratched at his chin as he peered out over his newly purchased land. “I think that we need a new name, but for now. We shall rule over the kingdom of trash and falling down buildings.” The two laughed with one another and hugged as they started to make plans in their mind with what to do with what they had bought. “Okay, so hear me out. This is essentially two sheds put together, just ignore the leaky looking internal gutter. We have two large sheds turned into one huge shed. We can turn one side into our living space.” Nicholas said as he gestured to one side of the shed, then gesturing to the other side he continued. “Then we turn this side into the gallery, you can have all your art hanging up, and when people come to see you, you will have an enormous space to have all your work on disp-display.” He stuttered as a drop of water landed on his nose. Dean laughed at him and kissed his nose. “Fix this gutter and I may take you up on this plan.” He jested as he walked off with keys in one hand, and a broom in the other. “Now you start sweeping, I am going to get everything else we are going to need to clean this up. I said I could handle a messy living environment for a while, while we get set up. But I will not tolerate dirty!” Brining two fingers towards his eyes he pointed them at Nicholas. He reactively ran to the broom that Dean was holding, starting to sweep the floor in a panic. “Yes sir, no sir, three bags full sir. I will make sure this place is sparkling new before you get back. Just don’t use the hose again please.” “Oh shut it you, I will be back. Better sweep proper, not that useless back and forth nonsense.” Nicholas smiled and calmed down, starting to sweep the concrete pad properly. By the time Dean returned he was pleasantly surprised by the efforts Nicholas had made, looking around the shed he nodded with approval. “Well you have been busy.” Nicholas looked up from his hunched position under a work bench, smacking his head on the underside before scuttering out with his body covered in dust and mania in his face. “Okay look, you need to appreciate me much more than that. I climbed to the top of the walls and brushed down all the dust and odd bits I found up there onto the floor, then swept everything into the massive pile there. “He said as he pointed to a mound of dust and hay. “How did you get to the top of the walls?” Dean asked as he marvelled at the cleaned walls. “I climbed the wall. Up all the exposed wood, it is pretty much a ladder.” “You are a menace, what would you have done if you fell?” Nicholas looked at the wall and scratched his head. “Umm, die I guess?” The two of them looked to one another and laughed before emptying the car and starting to clean more in depth. Over the course of the day they scrubbed and disinfected everything within their main shed. They pulled up the roller door for the small moving truck that held their belongings, they quickly pulled everything out and started to shuffle it around on one half of the shed. They would place, adjust, rotate, re-locate, and unload everything in the truck into the darkness of night. Exhausted they found themselves slouched onto their couch with a cold drink in hand and a weary smile on their faces as they leant against one another. “What is your favourite part of our new place?” Nicholas asked as he looked around their new home. Dean thought for a short while before pointing towards their kitchen. “I think that it is the kitchen, I know it is not much, but it is organised and pretty looking. How about you?” Nicholas stood up quickly and walked past the tv, clicking a switch the tank that their tv was on lit up with fairy lights. “My two favourite parts are the fact our tv in on a fish tank, and that you filled it with fairy lights.” Dean raised their shoulders and smiled with a renewed vigour. “Really, do you really like them?” “They are oh so pretty.” “Says you.” Dean added shyly. Nicholas wandered over to Dean with a serious look on his face. “Dean.” “What?” He replied nervously. “My real favourite part is the big tv and the super cool sound system we bought the other week. But the fish tank is a close second.” “Oh my gosh yes, do you want to play some music really loud and tune the speakers?” “Fuck yes I do, but Dean, we have to be quiet for our neighbours.” “Oh right.” The two of them looked down solemnly for a moment before bursting out into laughter. “God damn I love living in the country away from people. I’ll miss the city but I fucking love the country.” Dean and Nicholas sat down on their couch and started to blast loud music from their sound system as Nicholas played with the settings, they fine-tuned it until their ears were ringing. Satisfied they finally turned everything off and went to bed, cuddling up they fell asleep together. As they laid in bed Nicholas stirred, he rolled gently side to side, sweat beading on his forehead as he frowned and started to twitch. Soon his breath was cut short and he stopped being able to breath, his face started to turn red right as he lurched forward grasping for air. He took long inhalations as the colour slowly returned to him, he wiped the sweat from his face as he slowly regulated his breath. He grabbed at his throat and could feel a pattern pressed into his skin, he slowly stood from his bed making sure not to wake dean. Stumbling to the lounge space he grabbed the mirror Dean was using on his art table. Switching on the light on his phone he examined his throat to see the weave of rope imprinted into his neck. Touching it with just his fingertips he whispered under his breath. “What the fuck.” Suddenly the shed creaked and Nicholas nearly dropped the small, round, mirror. He looked up quickly but he could not see after staring into the light for so long. His eyes scanned the shed for anything but his eyes were still adjusting. “Here.” A voice croaked from the corner of the shed. Nicholas turned to face them, but all he could see was darkness. He squinted his eyes and walked forward slowly, raising his fists he prepared for a fight. Out from the darkness a pair of white eyes and a mouth of broken teeth appeared, they slowly moved forward, revealing the red and black paint on his face and body. He stepped forward revealing a malnourished form, there was blood on his hands that dripped slowly onto the concrete floor. Nicholas lowered his hands and his face dropped. “One of you? I thought I was done with this, the fifteenth is long past, you have no place being here.” The painted man grinned and walked towards the door of the shed, he beckoned for Nicholas to follow with a sickly curl of his finger. Nicholas turned back to Dean who remained in bed, sound asleep. Dean looked back at the man and glared. “You have five minutes, then I go back to bed.” The man pushed open the side door and stepped out into the night, Nicholas waited a moment before following. He pushed the door open and stepped out, pulling the door closed behind him he looked up to see a crowd of similar individuals painted and blood covered bowing on the ground towards Nicholas. Standing at the front of them was a man dressed in black leathers and a plague doctors mask with glowing blue eyes, and a pale man with feathered wings and a vicious stare. “What are you all doing here? You are not wanted, you aren’t needed.” The group in front of him remained in a silent stare. “Fucking ridiculous, you guys are not supposed to be here. Didn’t you hear, the prophecy failed, I’m still alive. So, you can all leave, and let me live my life.” Nicholas turned and placed a hand on the door handle but froze when the chilling voice of Anodyne spoke out. “Prophecy failed, but that does not mean we have stopped.” Nicholas turned around, his lip twitching with rage as he stared down Anodyne standing at the front of the group. As Anodyne continued Nicholas started to march towards Anodyne. “We are not leaving; this world will be ours.” He finished as Nicholas stood stopped just short of his face. “I don’t give a fuck what you do, come to this planet or not, torment me or not. You do not control my life anymore, I will not become you, I am me, I am not your pawn…” Nicholas continued to yell at Anodyne as Dean stood in the door way and watched Nicholas as he screamed into the night with no one in front of him. He gave a wry smile as Nicholas continued to stand up for himself against his delusions. He turned back inside and went back to bed where he waited for Nicholas. By the time Nicholas came back he was wide awake with a sore throat from yelling. Sitting on the edge of the bed …

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Why Do You Love Me?

Nicholas and his partner walked hand in hand up to a large gnarled tree, burn marks scarred its internal chamber that had been home to many homeless. Its branches stretched high, twisting towards the sky with very little collections of leaves at the end of the barren branches. Its roots dove and wove their way though the ground, flowing like waves through the earth. Nicholas let go of the hand of his partner and placed that same hand on the charred bark of the tree. He pulled his phone out with his other hand and read the time. “How long?” His partner asked. “There is ten minutes until midnight, so ten minutes until the prophecy is proven false.” Nicholas replied with a sigh. “You okay?” “Yes.” Nicholas paused, then corrected himself. “No, not really. It has been nearly ten years since I was first told that I was going to die by the end of today, and I know it was from a dream but when you are being told something like that every other night you start to believe it.” Nicholas slowly slid his hand off the tree. “This has been such a massive part of my life for so long, and I don’t know what I am going to do once it is all over, if this is really the end of it all.” “What kind of end though?” His partner asked as Nicholas fell silent for a moment. “Well there is two ways this end isn’t there? Either I somehow become Anodyne, or I simply carry on being me, and nothing happens. One is the end of me, and the beginning of another, the other is the end of the person I once was and I don’t know if I will rise like a phoenix from the ashes, or if I will blow away as that same ash into the wind.” Nicholas’s partner chuckled slightly. “Any reason why you chose ash as the metaphor? Seems rather appropriate.” Nicholas grinned slightly as we wandered around the tree. “It was not a conscious decision I made, but I guess my mind has been on Hollow quite a bit lately.” Nicholas kept running his hand across the tree while looking at it as one would look at an old friend. “Did you know that Enadrome was the first AI god that Anodyne made? He was made to guard portals between Hollow and other worlds, or I think he was more connected with something to do with the Dream God. I can’t actually remember all that well. It feels like an age ago that I wrote about it all.” “2 minutes.” Nicholas’s partner interrupted. “Sorry, but I didn’t want you to miss the turn of the night.” Nicholas made his way to the opening in the tree and stepped inside, shrouding himself slightly from his partner, but not completely disappearing. He sat down onto the soft soil and tossed the litter his hands fell upon as he made himself comfortable. “I don’t know how, or like if.” Nicholas sighed heavily. “Please don’t judge me on how I might react to what happens tonight.” Nicholas’s partner smiled softly before kneeling in front of Nicholas. “I would never judge you.” They said as they looked down at their phone screen, the soft blue light exaggerating their round cheeks and illuminating the underside of their dark, curly hair. “One minute.” Nicholas nestled himself deep into the centre of the tree. He dug his fingers into the dirt and closed his eyes. He breathed deep and leant back into the tree, he could feel spiderwebs clinging to the back of his head as found a resting spot against the tree. “Ten seconds.” His partner said softly, feeling the tension of the moment. Nicholas felt the temperature cool, bugs started to squirm from the dirt and cover his fingers. Worms tangled around him like rings while weevils ran across him, and up his arms. He sat with his eyes closed as tight as the muscles holding them would let him, until the moment when they would not, and he opened his eyes. Before him sitting in the soft blue light of their phone was Nicholas’ partner smiling sweetly with their legs crossed, and concern carved into their face. “I felt the air change. I, I, the bugs on my hands.” Nicholas said, starting to get frantic. “I know sweetie, but you are still here, on Earth.” “No, this can’t be. I am meant to be Anodyne, I still feel like me. This can’t be, I am supposed to change, and if I don’t change then it means that I have been him all along and I don’t think I could handle being him I need to be me because I hate him and I hate every part of him and I don’t want to be him because that means I lose you.” Nicholas started to cough as he chocked on his own tears, he voice warbling and croaking as he could feel snot sliding into the back of his throat, then his breathing started to speed up. “Nicholas you need to calm down, you are not losing me, I am right here.” Nicholas’ partner outstretched their hand and leant forward in their sitting position. “Look I am right here, you can touch me, I love you.” Nicholas started to look wild as he grasped at the darkened bark of the tree, his head starting to feel light as he hyperventilated. “I am not supposed to be here, I am supposed to be on Hollow, I am supposed to be Anodyne.” His eyes welled with tears as his panic turned to anger. “Ten, fucking, years.” “Nicholas, I need you to calm down okay? Everything will be fine.” “Ten fucking years of being told that today, now yesterday would be my last day alive. I suffered through a god damn decade of fucking distress for what?” Nicholas stepped from the tree and stood up as his partner backed away from him cautiously. “All I got from this was terrible mental health, an un-healthy work ethic, terrible relationship issues with my friends, family and fucking you. All because I was certain that I was going to die yesterday. Because what? Some cunt in a dream said so?” Nicholas pulled at the hair on his head in frustration as he screamed in frustration. He turned on the spot and started punching the tree with a closed fist. “Ten. Fucking, Years.” “Nic, I really need you to calm down please, you are scaring me.” “Scaring you?” He said turning with blood dripping from his knuckles, the whites of his bones exposed to the air of the night. “How do you think I feel?” The rage in his eyes softened as he saw the fear on his partners. His shoulders dropped, and he fell to his knees before his partner. “I am sorry, I am not him, I wont be him.” His partner carefully walked forward, cupping Nicholas’ bleeding hand they pressed their forehead against his. “You are kind, you are caring, and I love you. You are not Anodyne. You are mine, and I am yours.” Nicholas started to weep uncontrollably as he buried his head into his partners lap, his bleeding fist gripping his partners shirt and staining it with his blood. “Why do you love me?”

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Not A Surprise

As the sun crept over the trees it slowly fell upon a campsite hidden in the middle of the woods. Silently it crept down the tree line until it encroached on the tents, illuminating them one by one, causing those inside to stir. Where the light touched, the heat followed, the final straw that caused those inside the tent to wake. Sweaty and physically exhausted from the night before people started to emerge from their tents and meet one another by the fire pit. “Good morning all.” Adam called out as he stirred a pot that was sat atop a small fire. “How long have you been up?” Eden asked as she sat down next to Adam, leaning over the pot for a smell. “Just an hour or two, doing some of the set up for tonight.” “What are we doing tonight? You have been very vague on all of this.” “And yet you all came, which I do appreciate. I also do appreciate the fact that Fox and Ox managed to exceed my already high expectations of them. Speaking of the devils, here they come.” Fox and Ox both slowly crawled out of their tents, stretching their backs out as they slowly made their way to everyone else. “Morning.” Fox groaned as he sat down, still trying to fix a muscle that had tightened during his sleep. Ox just slumped down and started stretching his back against the log behind him. “Okay, now that everyone is here I guess I can start you all off with some information.” Adam said as he started to hand out the bowls of soup. “As you all know I have been looking into some of the more strange occurrences that have been happening. From the miscreation penitentiary, an insane asylum in the middle of the woods that appeared seemingly overnight, to the four year old who murdered his friend, all the way to the incident at the secluded beach.” “Can we not talk about that one.” Eden interrupted, everyone else nodding along. “Odd or not, what happened at the beach is just a little much for me.” “Yeah I agree with Eden, even the little kid one is too horrible for me to want to talk about it.” Ox chimed in as he sat up. “I respect that, they won’t be brought up again. Just making the point that that is what I have been researching, and that is the reason we are here.” “Don’t tell me we are going to have to kill someone.” Declan said grimly. “No.” Adam laughed. “Nothing anywhere as serious as that. I am hoping that we will witness a very special event tonight. Because I have reason to believe that something very unique is going to happen tonight, and that is why I need all of you.” Fox groaned and rolled his head in frustration. “This is like a some terrible radio show, you will never believe what happened to me on the weekend. Tune in next week to know.” “Interdimensional travel.” Adam said plainly as he looked to everyone gauging their reaction. “Nothing, seriously? I think there is going to be some science fiction stuff happening today and all you can do is sit there drinking your soups?” Declan put his soup down and leant in Adam’s direction. “To be fair, if you had said zombies or something equally unlikely I don’t think you would get a different response. Because I don’t think any of us thinks it will happen.” The others nodded in agreement and murmured words of affirmation towards the statement. “Well thankfully I don’t need you to be believers for this to happen, it is happening if you want it to or not.” “Well that is if it does happen.”  Eden laughed. “I mean worst comes to worse we have a night out camping and it is a great time.” Fox said trying not to offend Adam. “Alright, show of hands. Who thinks that despite what I think, what I have researched, that no one from another world is going to show up tonight?” Adam asked as he started to sip from his own soup. Hands slowly raised one by one until Adam was the only one with his hand down. “Alright, that is fine.” “Come on man don’t be like that.” Eden said as she disagreed with the tone in Adam’s voice. “Don’t be like what? That was a sincere statement.” He laughed. “I know how crazy this all looks, I don’t expect people to just be on board, I know I will have to show them proof, and that is fine.” The camp fell silent as no one knew how to continue the conversation. They took sips from their camping mugs and sat in silence for nearly a whole minute before fox downed his soup and stood up suddenly, drawing everyone’s attention. “Okay, well this party is not gonna set itself up, so what are we doing first Adam?” “I like the enthusiasm, and I appreciate the dedication to my cause. First thing we need to do is make this look a little more like a war camp, I did some of the prep work over the last few days, but the extra sets of hands will be welcome.” Adam said finishing his soup and heading off. The others followed in suit, helping Adam set up what he thought would be necessary. They put up spike poles in the dirt, dug tripping runs, and set up flame torches on stands within the camp. They worked all through the heat of the sun, getting tans and burns before the sun decided to move away from their camp. They draped light weight cloth over their tents to make them look like they were made of some sort of hide as a finishing touch. “The final thing we need to do is to be ready. So let me see what you guys brought.” Adam asked as he looked to the others. Eden started to empty her bag out as she spoke. “So I went with no shoes like you said, I went and bought some fancy face paint for us to use as well. Then I got my friend to help me stitch together a burlap skirt and top. It is a little itchy, so I am wearing my exercising skins underneath.” Declans brought out two haggard looking pieces of clothing. “I brought an old shirt and pair of pants that I cut up, and rubbed some dirt on.” “Not as cool as Eden, but I still like it.” Adam said excitedly. “Now you two, what on Earth did you bring in those massive bags?” Fox looked to Ox and they gestured each other forward before Ox took the lead. “We brought EVERYTHING!” He shouted as he turned his bag upside down and poured its contents onto the ground. Fox stepped forward and proceeded to do the same. “And what he didn’t bring, I did.” Everyone watched as tribal masks, sticks, scrap cloths, bones, and many other random items fell from the now empty bags. The last of the goods clattering down the side of the mountains that had created. “What do you think Adam? I think we more than make up for Declan’s, poor performance.” Fox said with a fistful of cheek behind each word. “Hey, unlike you I don’t collect, crap. I only have nice clothes, and none spoilable goods.” Declan defended as he shook his handful of tattered clothes. “Speaking of which, why do we need these dirty clothes?” “Because in all accounts of the strange people, they have been wearing torn and dirty clothes, usually made of crude materials, and have been seen sporting bones and other charm looking things on their persons. I want us to look as like them as possible, I want them the feel like that maybe we came from the same place.” “I guess, but what if we find someone who hates people from their world?” “Well there is more of us.” Adam said so uncertainly that the others could feel his discomfort. There was a moments pause before spoke again. “Okay then, let’s all get dressed up, then we can head to the tree.” Declan stopped Eden and under hushed toned asked her. “What tree? I don’t remember a tree being mentioned.” “It must be where the interdimensional being is coming from. A magic tree, Oooo.” Declan slapped Eden and they both giggled as they went off to change into their outfits. Some time later they all emerged, shoeless, torn clothes, small charms, and face paint of made up runes, and handprints. Gathering by the fire place they waited on Adam who was staring at the watch on his wrist intently. Taking it off he tossed it to the side and looked back at the group. “It is time, and you guys all look so great!” Adam smiled with un-ease as he lead the group into the tree line. Only a hundred meters in they stopped just before a large, burnt tree, that had strange growths on it. “Near a lot of the strange occurrences a poisoned, burnt tree stands. I believe that it is an indicator that something is about to come.” Adam said as he rose his flaming torch to illuminate the tree better. “Or maybe it is a sign of something that has already come.” Ox said. “In that case, that means the oddity has already happened.” Fox added. “Well, what are we waiting for?” Eden asked as she stared at the still tree. “Witching hour.” Adam answered. “What is witching hour?” Declan asked as he turned to Adam. “There are some arguments over when exactly it is, but roughly it is 2am to 5am. It is the point that night is coldest, and darkest. Which is where the phrase, night is darkest before dawn is derived from, so it is not only a motivational speech but also fact. During those hours is when most elderly people will die in their sleep, and originally it was time where the witches would do their witch magic.” “Damn that is a lot of stuff for what? Three hours of the day.” Fox said shocked. “So we have to wait here for three hours, how do we even know if anything will happen?” He continued. As his words left his mouth the front of the tree started to groan and everyone faced the tree with shock and anticipation. Adam stepped to the front of the group as the trunk of the tree cracked, echoeing out into the forest, the nearby birds took flight and left the area. The groaning stopped and the tree stood still once again. The group broke out into laughter as the grin on Adam’s face faded. “My god, I thought we were going to fucking die.” Ox said from the ground as he attempted to catch his breath. Declan leant against the nearest tree with his hand resting upon his chest as he calmed his heart rate. Eden stood wide eyed whispering okay under her breath over and over. Fox fell to his knees dramatically and struck the ground with both fists for a spectacle. “I, think, I, shat, my, self.” Adam stared at the tree with disappointment, his eyes glossing over as the excitement from the moment passed. Over the next few hours, the group sat with one another chatting, eventually taking out a speaker and playing music. Together they danced and had fun dressed in their tribal outfits, out from a separate pouch in their enormous bag Fox pulled out an enormous bottle of alcohol from his bag and raised it into the air, just to be met by a choir of cheers. The rest of the night quickly faded for everyone, except Adam, who remained sober and still focused on the tree, but even he slowly fell away to sleep as all his friends did before him. Collectively the friends awoke to see Adam sitting on the …

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