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Life= Gun to head.

Blam.


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-The Fish

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Devil's Heartache, Chapter Two

Midnight at Perkins

MIDNIGHT AT PERKINS

“He’s an amazing drifter. Like, the best in Wausau,” he says, waving his cigarette in the air and wearing a smile like an awkward shirt. The kind that’s a little too wide and a little too short, but it’s the perfect color so is still worn. “He’s a great drifter,” he says again, and I know he wants me to ask him what a drifter is, but I can pretty much guess and I don’t feel like learning that much about street-racing at 12:20 in the night.

So I just grin and sit back a little more. The way my neck is bent on the wall makes it slightly uncomfortable, but I just want to sit and lounge so I ignore it. My legs are up and my hands are laced around the right, my head tilted just so. I can better look at the rest of the people here this way.

“Look at his hat,” I suddenly say.

Adam twirls the ashes off the end of his cigarette, because he smokes like a chick and can’t flick for the life of him, and glances over at the table of boys we’ve been observing. We aren’t being stalkers; there’s just no one else here. It’s the hours between when everybody with a job gets tired leaves and the bar closes, so it’s desolate and boring, but we don’t move anyway. “What? Which one?”

“The black cap.” There are four guys; Yellow Shirt, Black Cap (also known as Dancing Dan), Striped Shirt (the Drifter), and That Fat Creepy-Looking Guy. “It says, ‘Got Drift?’ That’s funny.”

He laughs a little and takes another drag. I turn my head slightly away as he exhales, because cigarette smoke makes me cough. Lucy starts walking towards us and I smile up at her, even though I haven’t known her before tonight.

“Gotta finish my cigarette,” she mutters as Adam greets her cheerfully. She takes out a white pack that I don’t recognize and fishes out the rest of her cancer stick. After she lights it she sticks the purple lighter in the empty carton and puts it in her apron pocket, then shakes her hand. “Love it when I get hot ash on my palm.”

I make a sympathetic wince and Adam chuckles. She glances at my feet and asks if she can sit. “Of course!” I reply, and quickly move my feet. Lucy perches on the very of the maroon bench anyway.

She’s a tough lady, with flecks of grey in her short black hair and a sharp tongue, but a motherly love. I have a lot of respect for her because the first time I saw her I learned she used to have six jobs but cut down to three. I can barely keep two, so she deserves a pedestal in my opinion. The place we’re at, Perkins, is her fourth job. She has quit and next Saturday is her last day, much to the disappointment of many, I’m learning.

She smokes in silence for a few moments before reaching out and pushing the cup Dennis poured his leftover coffee in and Anne’s half-empty Mello Yellow glass away. “Gotta make a clear path to the ashtray,” she mutters.

“Oh, sorry!” Adam exclaims, moving the glass tray closer to her.

“S’alright,” she smiles.

Her and Adam make small talk about people I don’t know, but who my friend affectionately calls Sir Puffs A Lot and Headphone Guy. Apparently Sir Puffs A Lot is actually named Mike, and comes in to see Lucy all the time since he learned she was quitting. Headphone Guy, on the other hand, is a genuine creep. He always came in with huge sunglasses and headphones, and would sit at a table for hours smoking and drinking the bad Perkins coffee. He had a girlfriend, but then dumped her so he could ask Lucy out, then when he was refused got back together with his girlfriend. Pathetic, really.

“He brings her all these weird, dusty things. Like from his house,” Adam tells me.

“Creepy!” I make a face.

Lucy smiles and tells me she kept once piece, but I didn’t catch what it was.

“Oh, somebody’s here,” Adam announces, leaning forward a little bit to better see the front desk. I’m hoping it’s somebody he knows so they can sit and I can learn about them, but he sits back and I’m slightly disappointed.

“Megan’s got it,” Lucy says, but crushes her cigarette and gets up anyways. She starts gathering up the cups. Dennis had decided to severely sugar and cream his coffee down to make it taste slightly better, all to no avail in the end anyway, then when he had had as much as he could handle, dumped it in an empty Mello Yellow glass. Deciding it almost looked like lemonade, I poured his full glass of water in there. It looked like an alcoholic mix, except for the coffee rinds floating around the bottom. I started to feel kinda bad Lucy had to pick it up, but when she emptied the ashtray out in the glass that feeling disappeared and left me laughing as my friend told her how nasty it looked. She just grinned and shrugged, grabbing the empty water cup, which Dennis had stuffed full of empty creamer containers, and walking away.

I looked over as Megan, another waitress, walked in with some guy in tow. Small black shirt, baggy jeans, and gelled-spiky blonde hair. He reeked of badass, but his smile was cute. He sat at the booth next to ours, on the other side so we could see him, as Adam and I were both lounging on the benches with our backs to the wall. Previously, I had been sitting next to Adam, but then my best friend Anne and her boyfriend Dennis took off early, so I moved over and sprawled, joking that they should have left earlier.

“Hey, Derrick!” Lucy greets, coming back over with a tray. For some reason, I like him a little bit more since he’s obviously a regular here. Lucy comes over to our table as Adam asks for another raspberry ice tea and I make a face at his choice of beverage.

“More Mello Yellow...?” She waits for my name.

“Madison,” I smile.

“Bessie?” she makes a face and turns her ear more towards me.

“Madison!” I exclaim as Derrick and Adam laugh uproariously.

“Bessie?” Derrick guffaws.

“You live in Wisconsin; it’s the capital!” I yell jokingly. “C’mon!”

“Sorry! My hearing is shot!” Bessie shrugs wildly. “Madison. Madison’s the capital.”

“Right,” I laugh. “And no more Mello Yellow, please.” I can’t be too caffeinated tonight; I still have work in the afternoon. I don’t have school tomorrow because of a bomb threat that got called in. Even if the cops don’t find anything, we still can’t go to school for legal purposes. If you think that’s weird; last Monday we didn’t have school because the wind chill was dangerously low. I hate Wisconsin winters. What really tops it all off though, is that we don’t have school next Monday either because of a teacher inservice. I’m loving it, but not in a McDonald’s way.

Lucy gathers up the other three Mello Yellow glasses and Adam’s cup, taking with it the coffee pot Dennis had ordered and the trash that was mostly my fault- I got bored and tore up a lot of straw wrappers.

“What do you want?” she asks Derrick.

“Uh, coffee,” he decides. “Can I get a basket of creamer and sugar too?” Lucy moves away and clears off another table. “Oh, and an ashtray.”

“So demanding!” Adam laughs.

Derrick grins and takes out a cigarette. “I was just about to say that.”

“Lucy!” Adam shouts, but the lady is already disappearing into the back.

“Her hearing really is bad,” I giggle.

He rolls his eyes and takes out his cheap cell phone.

“Texting?” I ask, curious about the recipient.

“Shh!” he smiles, glancing at my own red phone on the table. A moment later it beeps.

I laugh and grab it, flipping it open. He is decent looking what do you think? Ah.

“Well that was pointless,” Derrick laughs, having seen the exchange.

“We can’t really talk about it publically...” Adam says mischievously.

“Cause we’re talking about YOU!” I can be pretty obnoxious at times.

“Really?” he laughs embarrassedly.

“Nooo,” I reply, even though I’m lying. I text Adam back, Yeah- he’s a cutie. He’d be my type if he didn’t smoke. He seems cocky to me too. Your type? Ah, an arrest and fines. His points for me just dropped like 10. The latter part of the message was inspired by the fact that Derrick started talking about his fines for his wreck he has to pay on Tuesday and how he thinks he’s supposed to be in jail because he didn’t pay a fine in Medford, a small city close to here.

Adam is listening and talking and texting all at once; a man of many talents. I ask him for his lighter again and start to play with it.

“Madi, you’re such a pyro,” he laughs. I smirk and shrug. I’m not really... I just like fire.

“Are you?” Derrick asks. “I am too, actually. For my sixteenth... no, fifteenth birthday my friend lit this dumpster and a porta potty on fire for me.”

“That had to stink,” I laugh, thoroughly unimpressed.

He shrugged. “Then when we were leaving we saw all these firetrucks race past us; it was awesome.”

My phone beeps. Yea i know what you mean but a bad ass is kind of sexy.

“You look a bit freaked,” Derrick remarks to Adam.

“No,” he laughs, “I’m just trying to figure out which birthday I should tell you about.”

“Ah.”

“Have you ever lit a copper tube on fire?” I ask.

“No...”

“It’s awesome; the fire makes all these crazy colors! It’s really pretty.”

Derrick just laughs like he doesn’t believe me and I text Adam back, Not for me, lmao. Can’t be a conformist, ha. Is he gay? He should be. I'm slightly biased.

At this point Lucy comes returns. She has another raspberry ice tea for my friend and a Mello Yellow for me. I laugh and tell her thank you as she gives Derrick his coffee and the biggest basket of creamer and sugar I’ve ever seen.

“What about an ashtray?” he asks.

Adam replies, I dont know how to get a vibe from him or no.

“Didn’t have any back there,” she shrugs. “Go ask the front for one.”

“Fine,” Derrick laughs, getting up and moving towards the front and out of sight.

I’m thinking he swings both ways. Otherwise he’d be running from your flamboyant gayness by now, lmao.

“Ah!” Adam gasps, mouth agape.

I raise my eyebrows. “Seriously! You are!” I take a sip from my glass. “Not like that’s bad or anything.”

“I’m not that bad,” he replies.

“Uh, yeah you are,” I laugh. “But it’s cool; I wish I was flamboyantly gay. I could totally pick up more chicks that way. Ha- joking!”

“Well, you’re sort of flamboyant.”

“Really?”

“You walk in and I get a total dyke-vibe from you. You’re not really a bulldog or a lipstick though.”

“Bulldog?” I laugh. “It’s bull-dyke!”

“I know, but I call them bulldogs,” he smiles.

We get into an impressively deep conversation about bulldogs and lipsticks when Derrick comes back and sits down. He listens to us for about a minute before asking, “What are you guys talking about?”

“Faggots!” I grin, trying to imitate Mindless Self Indulgence and failing miserably.

“What?” He does this sort-of-laugh like he thinks we’re joking.

“Gays and lesbians?” Adam supplies.

“Oh, right.”

“Madison, give me my lighter.”

“Nope.”

“I need it to light my cigarette!”

“Then I’ll light it for you!”

I’m doing so when Derrick asks Adam, “So are you?”

“You couldn’t tell?” I gape jokingly.

Adam leans back and turns to him. “Gay? Yup. And for the record,” he juts his thumb back at me, “she’s a lesbian.”

“Really?” he sounds utterly surprised, and my hopes of being at least a little flamboyant are shot.

“Yeah.”

“That’s hot.”

I laugh a little and start to hate him.

“No,” he says, starting a whole new tangent. “I knew this gay guy. I graduated with him; he was cool.”

“What’s his name?” Adam asks. He’s the gay phonebook of Wisconsin, basically.

“Ben?”

“Ben...”

“Er, Shepards, I think.”

“Do I know him?” Adam asks himself, glancing up at the ceiling in thought.

“Well you don’t know Greg,” I supply helpfully. He was this gay guy I had met the last time I was at Perkins. Made me laugh for three hours straight. “You should meet him; he’s hilarious. Maybe he’ll be here Pen15 night.”

Adam makes an interested sound. Pen15 is a Friday night spent at Perkins from eleven and on. You’re supposed to write it on your hand because it looks like the word ‘penis.’ I honestly wonder who comes up with these things.

The two guys start talking about cars and being badass. Derrick tells us that if we think he’s badass, we should see his friends. He’s the good guy of the group, apparently.

My friend whips out his phone again, and soon I get a new text. Straight or very closeted half breed

“Half breed?” I raise my eyebrows at him, because now Derrick is talking on the phone. “It’s-”

“I know, but every bisexual male I met has always turned out to be a big creep, so I call them half breeds.”

“Ah,” I reply, and text him back. Slightly closeted, methinks. He’s interested. Expose him enough and he’d be a halfy

You think?

Oh yeah.

Cool.


Striped Shirt gets up and leaves, but the other three guys stay.

“Perkins Junkies,” I smirk.

“Hey!” Adam exclaims. He comes here at least three times a week.

I laugh and shake my head, “I’m just joking. I’m close to being a Perkins Junkie myself.”

You can tell. He showed a little too much interest in asking. He’s cool with it too, with that guy he graduated with and how he responded when you told him about me.

Yea he is cool with lesbians and gay guys but showed more interest in you i think god i hate trying to tell if someone is or not when it is late.


At this point Derrick starts talking less about cars and more about pussy and MILF’s, which is severely offending me. I learned enough about Mothers I’d Like to Fuck from a guy I work with Friday night. Ever since I told him I’m a lesbian he’s been like my best friend, which makes him think he can tell me all these weird things about women I didn’t know guys thought about. It’s pretty disturbing.

Lmao, well yeah he’s interested in me- he’s a guy and I’m a girl that likes other girls, lmao. He’s trying a little too hard to be cool now though.

I know but the question is who is he trying to impress he knows you are a lesbian.


Lucy comes back to see how we’re doing. “Wow that’s loud!” she exclaims, glancing over at Derrick, who is holding his sleek black cell two inches from his ear. “I can hear that from over here!”

He laughs and I start to text Adam back. Lucy asks me who I’m texting and Adam says, “Me!”

Lucy starts to move away and Adam suddenly says, “What was that look for?”

“What look?” she asks innocently, busing another table. I missed it, as I was focused on my phone.

“She knows what we’re talking about,” he smirks. “She knows me too well. I know that smile, Lucy!”

“It was a fine smile!” She clears one and moves to the other. “Okay, so it was kind of mischievous.”

I laugh. As she moves on Adam suddenly says, “I wanna go see if she knows.”

“Okay,” I reply. “I’ll just sit here and text you.”

Derrick is still talking about shooting his load and pussy and hot chicks he can’t get ahold of at three in the morning. Adam comes back just as I send my text.

Doesn’t mean he can’t try, lmao. EW. I’m rapidly losing interest and growing disgust with him now. I think I want to leave.

Adam reads it and looks up at me.

“Want to?” I ask.

“Yeah,” he nods, standing.

I take another drink before standing also. I grab my purse, heavy with three books, and follow him to the front, not even bothering to look back at Derrick.

“Leaving?” Lucy asks. She had sat across this creepy-looking older man a few minutes ago.

“Yeah, sorry hun,” Adam replies, coming up and hugging her.

“Thanks for everything,” I smile as he lets her go and we move off.

“Bye Madison,” she smiles, and I feel a little more at home here.

Adam tries to leave Megan a five dollar type by rolling it up and sticking it down her shirt, which he can only get away with because he’s gay. Megan says no, glances around nervously, and Adam backs off after realizing he chose the wrong location. There’s a video camera right by the door. I just zip up my coat and wrap my scarf around my neck.

“Bye sweetie!” Megan calls as we exit.

“Call me or text me tomorrow,” he instructs as we hit the parking lot, since we won’t see each other.

“You too,” I smile, going to my own car. It’s 12:50 and we’re finally heading home. When I get in the car R.E.M. starts and I realize I reek of cigarette smoke. Adam speeds out of the parking lot and down the street as I shiver and will my car to heat up faster. I leave at a much more legal pace.

-The Fish

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Shy Blood

SHY BLOOD

Her whispers fell like teardrops from the empty eyes of a mask. A forgotten one that hung from the edge of a bookshelf for years, or that sat at the bottom of a drawer or tucked away in some closet, where all it did was collect dust and gradually fade away. Her smile was faint, like the tiny white explosions striving to shine their light and power through the clouds in the sky, fleeting though they were. The moon, a much larger presence, shone through the gaps in the grey clouds, spilling its gentle moonlight onto the waters, where ripples danced and laughed. Her world was dipped into the crystalline water, held up only by a string tied around it and another around the index finger of her right hand. Murmurs of waves lapped at the sand she was crouched upon, reaching out as if to touch her, only to shy away once they realized what she truly was.

Shi noticed none of this though, her intensity focused completely upon her world, which dangled from her finger on a string, dipping in the water and creating ripples. Even the river got lonely; she wanted to give it something to play with. Not a tranquility so rudely interrupted, but rather a smile in the shadow of a ripple as the water enjoyed its rare company. A red butterfly flapped its cursed wings, skimming over the water yet refusing to touch it. Shi smiled gently over at one as it perched on her shoulder, waving its vermillion wings as if trying to say hello or good evening. Lovely night, isn’t it?

Indeed it was; warm summer air haunted by the ghost of a cool wind, keeping the temperature comfortable and fresh. Shi loved summer nights more than anything else, especially the fireflies that fluttered and blinked, trying to find another little firefly to love. She was often reminded of humanity as her luminescent green eyes tried to capture their light. The light of those trying and trying and trying, all to find love because everybody thought that love would make them happy.

A small laugh escaped Shi. Loud enough to cause the butterfly on her shoulder to flap, but soft enough as to not destroy the tranquility of the night. She didn’t understand any of it, really.

With a tug, she pulled her little world out of the water so she could bend over and grab it with her left hand, which was swathed in loose white bandages. Her eyes gleamed dully as she stared at the transparent heart in her hands, perfectly sculpted by the sharp glass and jagged edges of the crystalized staircase that was life. The wind blew her lightweight hair out to the side, wanting to play with the soft grey locks. A few shorter strands clung to her face, not wanting to be carried away, preferring to stay by her. Shi let the wind do as it pleased as she continued to look at the heart in her hand.

Suddenly the butterfly on her shoulder took flight, gliding along the hint of wind to land on her little heart. She watched it until it flew away a few minutes later, leaving a bloody smear on the glass in its wake. Shi bit her lower lip gently, turning her head up to watch the red creature fly away, off to take a life under the light of the midnight moon.

Her long, slanted ears twitched once before she stood up, leaving the water to sigh at her departure. She hung the heart around her head once again before dropping her arms and gently stepping through the tall grass, back into the forest. Even there, though, she was feared.

The bandage slipped off her left hand a little to dangle behind her and dance with the wind, since her hair had been lost to them. Where there was once gentle white skin was now charred, decaying blackness. The inky obscurity a forever reminder of the darkness that was the soul of the world.

-The Fish

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I Live To Let You Shine

((I wrote this a long time ago after first hearing the song Boats and Birds by Gregory and the Hawk. I editted and kinda liked it.))

I LIVE TO LET YOU SHINE

He laughed harder, leaning over against his friend. “Do you... Do you remember that movie The Lion King? And the three dudes were looking up at the sky and the one’s like, ‘What are stars?’ and the other says they’re fireflies?”

“‘Stuck up in that big bluish... black thing’,” Greg quoted back, smiling.

His friend toppled over as he laughed loudly, falling on his back and letting the empty Jack Daniel’s bottle roll away from him.

Greg looked back to make sure he hadn’t hurt himself before casting his blue eyes down into his own bottle, from which he was just sipping from. It was Friday, and this is what happened on Friday nights. They came here, just the two of them, after sneaking out of their houses and breaking into this place. They would grab some blankets and make a little nest, get drunk, and sometimes even have sex.

Greg wondered if it was all empty, though. Meaningless.

“Red?” he asked quietly. Reddington was actually the other’s full name, but he would use his fists on anyone that would dare call him that.

“Wha?”

At the slurred askance, his courage dropped. “Nothing,” Greg shook his head, soft brown hair brushing against his face.

“Aw c’mon,” Red crooned, sitting up to slip his arms around the other’s shoulders, pressing his chest to his back. He kissed the back of his neck sweetly, making the brunette shiver a little. “You can tell me.”

He stared into the bottle of liquor as he contemplated. Wondered... why they did this to themselves, why they came here every Friday night instead of going to a movie, why it still hurt so bad, even after they were drunk. “Do you think she misses us?” he whispered, not speaking what was really on his mind.

Red blinked his brown eyes, almost looking sober a moment. He glanced at the grave they sat in front of, the same one they came to every week. On it was the name Mylene Johnson, followed by dates stating that she’d died in the year. They’d only been doing this for a couple months.

“I’m sure she does,” he finally answered, words slurring a little. “She’d have to be a damn fool not to!”

“Don’t yell,” Greg winced, his lover right by his ear. Red suddenly drew away and blue eyes blinked, wondering if he’d upset it. He turned to look as Red ran, if clumsily, over to a large monument with an intricate angel made of marble, the red hair he was so famous for waving behind him from its low ponytail.

Red wasted no time in stepping up on the same pedestal the angel stood on, clambering up to sit on her back, right between her wings. He ran his hands lovingly along the finely detailed feathers, smiling wistfully at them. “I want to fly.”

Greg stood up and walked over, standing in front of it and watching the other. “Fly?”

“Yes!” he suddenly gushed, enthused. “Like a hawk!” He spread his arms wide, like he had wings. “I see them, Greg! I see them flying in the sky, soaring along the wind currents with those beautiful wings of theirs outstretched! I want to be like that; to have wings so I can get away whenever things get too tough, to be able to soar and drift wherever they want!” Greg stared up at him, not saying anything. After a long moment Red lowered his arms back down to his sides, losing his enthusiasm. “I wouldn’t want their eyes though... Hawk eyes are amazing; they can catch a tiny little mouse in a field on a cloudy day. I don’t want that; I don’t want their eyes. If I didn’t have them I could fly and soar for forever and never have to see all the bad things that happen here.”

Blue eyes dropped, feeling slightly hurt. He wanted to be able to soar with him, with this boy he loved. But he didn’t have the power to voice his thoughts. He glanced back up at him. “Come on down before you hurt yourself.”

Red shrugged and turned, sliding down the angel’s back to land gracefully on the ground. Greg wondered if he really was drunk at all. He suddenly sighed and looked back at the brunette. “Greg, I gotta get away from here. I can’t take much more of this.”

The whisper of his voice broke Greg’s heart. “And leave behind all the people you care about? That care about you?”

He scoffed. “Like my mother? She doesn’t give a shit about me. And since Mylene’s death... I’ve been feeling like a zombie, Greg.” Brown eyes met blue ones. “I just... I can’t seem to get a grasp on anything. I’ve been doing better in school because I stopped thinking about it and just do the work, I stopped caring about the things my mother said about me because she may as well be right. I’m not living anymore, y’know? I’m just... here.”

Greg stepped forward and wrapped his arms around his boyfriend, hugging him tight, as if trying to protect him from all the evil Red saw in this world. “I know...”

He sighed and returned the hug. “I know you do... I’m just saying,” he whispered. “We go through all the motions of living, but after losing her... Friday nights are the only peace I can find.”

“It’ll pass,” he murmured, wishing he believed his own words. “It will always be painful and sad, but it’ll pass. It has to.”

Red sighed again, staying quiet a moment before saying, “I don’t want to live here anymore. I want to escape from everything. All the shit that’s happened in this town... I just want to move somewhere far away and forget it all.”

The brunette couldn’t bring himself to ask what would happen to them if he did... he just couldn’t. “But will that even help? Even if you did move as far away as you could get... even if you did forget all the shit that’s happened here... You’d still carry that sorrow on your heart. It’s all this shit we go through that makes us who we are, whether we get stronger or weaker... If we want to live on or if we want to die.”

Red was still for a long moment. Finally he let out a breath in a faint laugh. “You sounded just like Mylene for a second there...”

A smile twisted his mouth. “That’s what I get for hanging around her so much.”

The stood there, in the cemetery next to the grave of a girl they’d both loved almost as much as they’d loved each other, hugging closely and just being there. Existing.

There wasn’t much else they could do at that point.

~

Early the next morning, Greg stood in his lover’s empty bedroom. He had let himself in, Red’s mother too drunk to care who entered her house or where her only son was. The brunette looked around the room, everything but the furniture and some of the heavier blankets gone. He walked over to the vanity where a piece of paper lay on the dark cedar, and read it after picking it up.

Greg,
I’m sorry. I’m not as strong as you are; I can’t do this anymore. I just can’t. Please try to understand...

Love always,
Red

Greg read the note again, then again. Blue eyes took in those same words over and over until they were burned into his memory, never to leave. He folded the piece of paper carefully and put it in his pocket, tilting his head back and taking in a deep breath. There was moisture on his cheeks, which was weird since it couldn’t rain inside the house, but he was too busy thinking about Red to care.

He could chase after him... Chase after the boy he loved and bring him back to his home, where he belonged. But this is what he wanted. And Greg wanted his lover to be happy, even if it was away from him and all the familiar things he’d grown up with. Besides, Greg wasn’t strong at all. He only stayed because he was scared of the world outside this town he’d lived all of his life in. He couldn’t just leave his home, or the people here that still cared about him. He just couldn’t.

“So fly free, little hawk,” he whispered as he glanced around the room, a faint smile touching his lips, even though he didn’t have anything to smile about.

That was the last night he visited Mylene’s grave.

-The Fish

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Prompt from creativewriter

He reached into his father's desk pulling out the book he knew lay hidden for years. His father was gone; he could now lay bare long hidden secrets. He turned the book to the last page and read the stained entry that invaded the old paper in smudged black.

'I feel like I’ll die soon in this place. The screams around me are whispered shadows of people long past. I think I’m the only one left alive here, but I just don’t know anymore. I can’t know anymore. God, if you’re out there, hear my prayer. Let this place burn. Let it burn into nothingness. Let the ashes of the poor souls that remain in this deserted prison float up to grace the pale sky before falling again; at least let them know that brief taste of Heaven.

'I know we deserve this. I know I deserved everything that had been done to me. But even so I found myself clinging to innocence and life as they tortured me. Why? After all the wrong and harm I’ve done in this life, why did I think that I was worth anything more than the pain they were giving me? It’s the frailty of human hope, which is actually not frail at all. It refuses to listen to my mind because, god, I deserve pain and nothing else. But hope kept returning to me. Hope that I may once again stand in His light, hope that maybe I could escape this place, hope that I wasn’t so tarnished as to spend every waking and sleeping moment here for the rest of my life.

'Unfortunately, reality often beats hope. It’s taken me a full hour to write this already; I can barely move but I must get this done. I must leave something of myself behind. I want those people to know that I do feel. Feel guilt, remorse, sorrow, and so much pain I weep at the very thought. I need to know that this journal will be read and passed on. Even if the victims never get to read this, at least my heart will know an ounce of peace because I wrote this. I tried to reach out to them; whether or not they accept it is their decision.

'My hands are shaking. I remember, not too long ago, when it was odd that I could see my bones through the translucent flesh covering the back of my hand. Now it’s normal. It seems terrible that I should die in such a place as this, but I know it’s nothing more than I deserve. I killed so many... but even the ones I killed were the lucky ones compared to- no, please. I don’t want to think about it on my dying breath. I regret, I regret! Is that not enough?

'I often think back on the demon I was in those days. What possessed me to do the awful things I did? When did my conscious die and let that beast overrule my mind? And why did it reawaken when I was suddenly faced with the weight of my crimes? I feel like a foolish old man, laying here on the dirt floor, weeping and writing and thinking of forgiveness when I know none shall be granted. I’m the only one left here.

'I wonder about the other people that shared this place with me. What were their crimes? Did they regret? Did they feel pain? Did some of them know me? The idea we all held so strong in our minds for so long is now lost to me; vanished. I don’t know where the fire from back then came from. Surely Hell, for it was all I had afterwards.

'I’m running out of paper. This journal has been my constant companion these last seven years, even though I dirtied it every day by writing on the pages with charcoal, but I had nothing else. God, must I ask forgiveness from my own book now? I have no hope left, truly.

'This is the end of the paper. I must conclude this drawling pity I find myself lost in. Whoever you are, reading this, I only ask that you might forgive me. That’s all I ask. I just want to know that the weight of my crimes may be lifted by at least one person. Please. I know I am undeserving, but... God, I don’t care. I just want to be forgiven.'


Mark took a shaky breath, closing the journal and holding it to his chest for a moment. He always felt the bitter sting of guilt, knowing he could never forgive his father. And now he was set to condemn him, forever.

The brunette boy tied the leather cord around the old journal again before turning and heading out the wooden door.

-The Fish

Tags:

Devil's Heartache, Chapter One

I partied on Friday, turned eighteen yesterday, saw Epic Movie which sucked anal, get my mom's lasagna tonight, and finally finished this!

Good weekend, eh? Enjoy! :)

ONE


    Banditt yanked her arm away, scowling. “Bugger off already. Seriously? I’m trying to hold a decent conversation here.”
    “You’ve been holding a decent conversation for two hours! Do you know how long ago we passed our stop?”
    “Probably five stops back, because it’s only five stops after we miss ours that you come up here to bitch at me!”
    “I’m serious, Banditt-”
    “I am also!” she threw up her arms. “Just go chill and we’ll circuit again, okay? Go take a nap or something; you’re always so grouchy on trains.”
    “I’m not staying on this train for another circuit- that’s fourteen hours! I’m getting off at the next stop whether you’re with me or not.” And with that, he turned on his heel and strode out of the dining cart.
    Banditt rolled her eyes dramatically as she turned back to the elderly woman sitting across from her. In her head, though, she was silently applauding her friend’s performance. Hopefully his interruption would cut short the rather lengthy story the old lady was telling her. “Sorry about that, Marie. You were saying?”
    “Oh, but... Shouldn’t you go with your friend?” the one across from her asked, the slightest of trembles to her paper-thin voice.
    She smirked, brushing her long white hair over one shoulder. “Nah; we won’t be getting off any time soon. He doesn’t know these tracks as well as I do. The next stop is Kikimaru, which is almost three hours away.”
    “My,” the elderly lady chuckled. “Won’t he be furious?”
    “Hopefully he’ll just sleep through it all,” Banditt muttered, crossing her legs and picking up her silver cigarette holder from the table covered in a pristine white cloth. “Anyway; you were telling me about Roger? Your fourth husband?” She flicked open the holder and fished a cigarette out, then borrowed the packet of matches off the table and lit her black cancer stick as the other launched into her tale once again. She hated listening to stories like these, but the old lady might have some information for her, whether she was aware of it or not, so she suffered through.
    “Well my previous three husbands all worked with money, as you know. Todd was an accountant, Carl was a banker, and Theodore was the manager of the First Bank in Woodland. I was an absolute ditz with money,” she tittered, as if she’d told some great and exciting secret. “I always had the man of the house balance my checkbook and manage my accounts... You know how it goes. Well, after Theodore’s death, I tried to make it on my own. Unfortunately I really have no head for numbers, and found myself face-to-face with bankruptcy within the first few months!”
    Banditt exhaled a stream of grey smoke, a coy smile teasing her lips. “The plot thickens.”
    Marie tittered again. “Indeed! So really, I married Roger more for his skill and money than love, but I think he knew and understood that.”
    “What did Roger do?”
    “He was the head accountant at several large firms across the Eastern Border. We had a lovely time together. However, he was rather fond of the drink; he drank too much German Beer at a pub once and the silly thing stumbled right over a railing into the Eastern River!”
    The other rose her thin eyebrows in surprise as she tapped the ashes off the end of her cigarette. “Shit. He was good as dead as soon as he hit the water then.”   
    “Indeed,” she sighed. “They found poor Roger washed up on the bank six miles downstream.”
    “I’m surprised nothing had at him,” Banditt muttered with her slight British accent, then corrected herself, “Ate him. I’ve heard of the monsters residing in the Eastern River from more than a couple of mouths.”
    “Well I’m glad nothing did eat him. We had a proper funeral for Roger, buried by his family,” she said brightly.
    The other laughed throatily. “Oh I like you; nothing gets you down.”
    “Well, when you’ve lived as long as I have you tend to just start taking things in stride,” Marie smiled.
    “I suppose,” she smirked, crushing the remains of her cigarette in the glass ashtray that sat by her elbow on the table. “So now what? You looking for a new husband?”
    “Can’t stop on an even number,” she smiled helplessly. “I thought to move to the West though; start a whole new life.”
    “That’s a nice idea,” Banditt smiled, picking up her glass of water to take a sip.
    “What about you, dear? Are you moving to the West with your boyfriend?”
    Banditt choked viciously on the water she had been drinking, bending over the table and coughing for a few minutes to clear out her airway as the old lady blinked worriedly. “Excuse me?” she gasped, staring at her incredulously.
    “Or is he your brother? You both has such beautiful features.”
    “We’re not dating or related!” she gaped, before suddenly collapsing into a fit of laughter. “I can’t wait to tell him what you said. We’re just friends; that’s all.”
    “Oh my,” the elderly lady muttered, pressing a weather hand to the side of her face. “You two just seemed so close to me.”
    “He’s my best friend,” she shrugged. “I could never date him; he can be a real tight-ass sometimes.”
    “Well you two make a good pair regardless,” she smiled. “Such beautiful white hair.”
    Banditt wanted to argue that her friend’s hair was silver, not white, but decided to let it slide. “Thank you,” she smiled politely.
    “So? What brings you two out here to the West?”
    She tapped out another cigarette and lit it. In her mind, she could see a thick red curtain, velvet of course, rising. It was time for her act. “We’re just looking for adventure,” she smiled, grey smoke pouring from her lips. “We’re both from fairly wealthy families, so we decided to go out and explore the world a little. And what better way than by train?” she smirked, leaning back and spreading her arms expressively.
    “Where were you headed? The young man mentioned you had passed your stop quite awhile ago.”
    “He wanted to go to See’An, but I don’t really mind as long as we get away from home.”
    “See’An?” The wrinkles between her grey eyebrows deepened and multiplied. “That’s a strange place to want to see; there’s nothing but slums there.”
    “Really?” Banditt frowned, as if this was news to her. She sighed and flicked the ashes from her cancer stick into the ashtray again. “He’s always had such weird tastes. I guess it’s a good thing we missed it.”
    “Kikimaru, on the other hand, is a fine city,” she smiled. “I think you two would like it there.”
    Suddenly deciding to take a chance, Banditt asked, “Have you heard of a place called Deepeden?” The other paled noticeably, her wrinkled face losing its kindly look. Banditt kept going, though. “I heard of it from this man at the last train station we were at. Never seen or read about it before, but it sounds interesting.”
    Marie quickly shook her head, wispy curls bouncing a bit. “No, no child, you must not go there.”
    “Why not?” she asked innocently.
    The elderly lady glanced around her before leaning in, as if she were sharing a big secret or juicy piece of gossip. “It’s a place of devils!”
    “Devils?” Banditt frowned, her voice also hushed.
    “Yes!” she nodded fiercely with a hiss. “Legends say that the devil god Moondeath is the master of the island Deepeden! It’s a place where nothing grows, where no lights touch, where death lives off the stars in the sky!”
    As if the sky itself could hear them, it suddenly started to rain, adding to the dramatic affect the old woman’s hushed words were creating. Banditt was glad they were the only ones in the dining cart for this conversation.
    “Moondeath?” she murmured in askance, violet eyes alight with curiosity.
    “The devil that controls all the others! They say when he comes up from the pits of Hell, he slays the moon and sends this world plummeting into darkness, so his minions can feed off the flesh of the living!”
    Banditt leaned back, looking thoughtful as she extinguished her cigarette in the ashtray. “Guess we won’t be going there then.”
    “I strongly advise against it, child,” the old lady muttered darkly in warning. “If you’ll excuse me, I should probably be getting to bed now.” It seemed all the talk about death and devils had unnerved her.
    The other nodded, smiling. “Thank you for talking with me. It was a pleasure to meet you.”
    Marie smiled back tightly. After nodding, she moved off, bracing her thin arm against the other tables as she went along. The door at the end of the cart hissed shut, and Banditt couldn’t hold it in any longer.
    She threw her head back and laughed. She laughed so hard for so long she had tears streaming down her cheeks as she clutched her aching gut. After several minutes of catching her breath and letting her chuckles die down, Banditt finally grabbed her cigarette holder and stuck them in her small pocket as she stood and moved to the other end of the cart, opposite of the door Marie had gone through.
    Unlike the deep red of the carpet in the dining cart, the floor was a flat blue-grey in the rest of the Riyuvi Express. Banditt was strongly reminded of the sudden rain as she compared the carpet with the dull world blurring by outside the window. The train had ten carts in all, including the coach and the dining cart, the latter which sat in the middle of the train. Each cart had four rooms, which consisted of little more than two benches that turned into a bed and a few shelves for personal belongings. Banditt passed through a hall where all the rooms were on the right side and all the large windows were on the left. In the next cart the rooms would be on the left side while the windows were on the right. The train was built this way so there would be light in the otherwise-dismal carts, but also it would stay balanced. Grey sliding doors separated each cart, which hissed open every time Banditt stepped up to one. Her room was 7-2, which meant that it was the second room in the seventh cart.
    As she reached her room, the numbers 7-2 indented deeply in the grey door, she slid a card into a slot on the doorframe. As she removed it, something clicked and the door slid open. She rose her eyebrow as she found her friend sprawled on the right bench, arms crossed behind his head and black hood low over his eyes. She kicked his foot that was resting on the floor, causing him to startle a little and push the hood out of his eyes to blink up at her blearily.
    “Seriously?” she scowled, picking back up on their act. “You come and bitch at me for missing our stop and you’re sleeping?”
    He took one of the speakers out of his ears, and Banditt could hear raging metal screaming from the tiny bud. “Hmn?”
    She rose her eyebrow irritably. “You. You were sleeping. If we miss our next stop it’s all your fault.”   
    He pulled his other earbud out and lay his head back down. “You can’t fool me like that old bat. The next stop is Kikimaru- over three hours away.”
    “Bah,” she threw her hands in the air before falling on the deep blue bench across from him. If she was going to lose this one, she didn’t want to act it out anymore. “So guess what they’re calling ol’ Bag-o-Bones these days?”
    “Let’s see...” he sighed, sounding thoughtful. “Black Death?”
    “Close; Moondeath!”
    A barking laugh escaped him. “Shut up.”
    “I’m serious! That old lady was all like, ‘he comes from the depths of Hell to slay the moon and send the world into darkness!’”
    “That’s what light bulbs and flashlights are for,” he muttered, staring up at the dull ceiling of their cart. “Humans are morons.”
    “Pretty much,” Banditt sighed. “How are we gonna get to Deepeden to see him, anyway?”
    “See who?”
    “Buddha? Marrow, you dope!”
    “Marrow’s dead,” he hissed. “Dope.”
    “So are you, Kage,” she fired back, lifting an eyebrow. Of course, neither were actually dead, but rather most of the world thought they were through a series of... complications.
    He muttered something, but she failed to catch it. She sighed again and slouched on the less-than-comfy bench, crossing her right leg over her left. A few inches under six feet, Banditt struck an impressive figure with her huge, heavy black boots and her long white hair that fell to the small of her back. She wore a low square-neck black shirt that clung to the curve of her hips and slanted a few inches past her hands in waves. A small, soft grey skirt hung around her waist, and under that was a pair of grey and black-striped stockings. Finally, around her neck was what looked like a black scale that hung off a thin silver chain and dangled by her cleavage.
    “When did we decide to go to Deepeden anyway?” he suddenly asked, still looking up at the ceiling.
    “Since I thought to ask him some things,” she answered casually. “Marrow, that is.”
    He shot her an incredulous glance. “Are you joking? He hates us; especially you.”
    “Well then he can suck a fat one, can’t he?” Wanting to change the subject, she asked, “What do you think is in Kikimaru?”
    Kage shrugged, finally sitting up and pushing back his hood. At six feet, he was dressed much more simply in a long black sweatshirt, baggy blue jeans, and large black skater shoes. His hair, a gentle silver color, was spiked up messily, a few longer strands hanging down in his azure eyes. “Don’t know. Hopefully we won’t stand out so much though, like in Volon.”
    She chuckled helplessly, giving him a lopsided grin. Banditt was so-named because of a black mask over her eyes that looked like a butterfly, the tips of the upper ‘wings’ brushing her hairline an inch or so above her temples, while the curved ends of the lower ones stopped at the middle of her cheeks. This mask curved inward at the corners of her eyes and down with her eyebrows to connect at the bridge of her petite nose. “What can I say? I was born to stand out!”
    “Obviously,” he smirked.
    “Like you’re so much better! At least all my stand-out-ness is natural!”
    Kage had size zero gauges in the lobes of both ears, with wicked silver claw-like earrings stuck through them. His right ear was adorned with smaller claw-like earrings up to the beginning of his cartilage, while his left was completely gauged, each hole a size smaller from the lobe to the top, all the way around his cartilage. In addition, he also had his right eyebrow pierced twice and a ring through the left side of his lower lip to shine through the light tuft of hair that sat on his chin and touched the corners of his upper lip. He shrugged languidly. “I like the way I look. Besides, I wanted to go to See’An; you’re the one that decided to talk to some old crone for forever, and now we’re headed to the mysterious Kikimaru.”
    She smiled innocently and shrugged. “I want to see the Western World. Plus, we’ve been to See’An tons of times before. We haven’t found much before; why do you keep wanting to go back there?”
    “I just do,” he brushed it off. A yawn escaped him before he asked, “What did you learn from the old woman, anyway?”
    “Nothing of importance,” she made a face. “Just a lot of bank business. We might have been able to hit one of them, but we’re too far away now.”
    “We’ll be fine,” Kage shrugged, digging his mp3 player out of his sweatshirt pocket, which was still playing. After turning it off, he glanced up, looking tense. “Is it raining?”
    She tilted her head in curiosity, but replied that it was.
    “I hate it when it rains and we’re on a train,” he griped, getting up. As he stepped up to the door, it slid open to let him go into the hallway. Banditt stood as well, going to stand in the doorframe to keep it open as she watched her friend. Kage glanced out the window of the speeding train, watching the ocean beneath it blur by. “No good,” he muttered, stepping back.
    She tugged on the flared ends of her grey skirt as her violet eyes watched him. “What’s that? Something coming?”
    He turned and opened his mouth to reply just as some black object came crashing through the window with a loud noise, sending glass flying everywhere.
    Kage threw his hands over his head and instinctively ducked as Banditt drew her gun from the holster strapped around her upper right leg, firing the long black weapon at the thing, each shot sounding like a thin, metallic ripple. He rolled to the side as the black mess, which looked like a tall blob, slithered to the other side. It rose up, the bullets falling out of it uselessly, preparing to attack again when ice suddenly crawled along its body from the floor where Kage was crouched to the side by the wall. Within moments, the blob was completely frozen.
    “Seriously?” Banditt muttered, cocking her gun. The unusual weapon was so dark it looked like it could suck all the light out of the room. She placed the barrel against their frozen attacker and pulled the trigger. The trademark ring sounded through the cart, followed by the painfully slow cracking of ice, which carried on dramatically before it finally shattered. “I’ve had it with these weaklings,” she groused, poking a piece of frozen blob with the toe of her boot.
    Kage stood, shaking his head a little to get a few shards of glass out of his hair. “Maybe so, but it’s not like we have a choice. Besides, one touch from them means a slow, painful death by poison for you.”
    “I know, I know,” she waved him off, wrinkling her nose.
    “Someone from another cart was bound to hear the gunshots and alert security; we’d better get back inside.”
    Banditt nodded her consent as she smoothly slid and buckled her gun back into place, cleverly hidden beneath her skirt. She turned and opened the door for them, using the card from earlier, and stepped inside. No sooner had it closed behind Kage did the sound of one of the cart doors hissing open come from the hallway. The heard pounding footsteps and muffled voices next.
    “You put your headphones back in and I’ll pretend to be asleep,” Banditt ordered, laying down on the bench and grabbing a magazine from the shelf behind her head. She opened it and put it face-down on her stomach before reaching one arm behind her to cradle her head as violet eyes closed. The other pulled out his headphones and hit the play button, the music so loud she could faintly hear it even as he placed the black buds in his ears and slouched on the bench.
    Not moments later, there was a series of rude knocks before the people outside simply used their master card to open the door. Six men poured into the already-tiny room, and immediately raised their guns at seeing the dangerous-looking people inside.
    Kage sat up in surprise, frowning at the man yelling at him before he took his headphones back out. Banditt continued to masterfully feign sleep. “What the hell is your problem?” he demanded.
    One man stepped forward. Garbed in a suit that looked like cloth quicksilver with black gloves and boots as well as a helmet with a thick visor to cover their eyes, they all looked completely ridiculous. Even the long, rectangular guns they held with both hands seemed horribly plastic and fake. Azure eyes appraised the six men as the first spoke, “You are under arrest for suspicion of assault and hidden weaponry! Hands in the air- now!”
    Kage had to strongly resist the urge to roll his eyes, raising his hands instead. At least these guys were amateurs; they would have no problem getting out of this one. “What are you talking about?” he demanded, frowning like the guy was a raving lunatic. “I’ve been in my room almost this entire ride!”
    “You and your companion are the only passengers in this cart, right by the scene of the crime. You are only under arrest for suspicion. Please cooperate!”
    “Scene of what crime? Are you guys on crack or something?”
    The man bristled, but maintained his professional demeanor. Well, as professional as he could get. “Three other carts called and informed us they heard a crash, followed by the sounds of what could possibly have been gunshots. You two are closest to the scene of the crime, so you are our top suspects.”
    “I don’t know about you officers, but if I shot someone I would run as far from the scene as possible. Like out a window or something?” One of the men murmured something to the guy beside him, but Kage ignored them. “Who got shot anyways?”
    The first man was looking more unsure of himself. “Well, nobody on the train. There are black puddles all over the floor though.”
    “And a broken window,” someone piped up from the back.
    A silver eyebrow rose. “Don’t you think it’s more probable that something broke in through the window and attacked someone? The black puddles could be the blood of some creature.”
    “We thought of that,” chimed in a third man. “But there’s nobody missing or hurt. We have other men patrolling the rest of the carts and checking up on people.”
    “So if nobody was hurt or anything, then why are we under arrest?” he asked incredulously.
    The first man straightened again. “Possible gunshots were heard. It’s illegal to carry any sort of weapon on the train.”
    “‘Possible gunshots’?”
    “Reports said that it sounded sort of like a gun. We’re assuming it was a foreign one.”
    “Well,” Kage spread his arms, “you can search me and my friend all you like, but you won’t find any guns on us.”
    The man eyed him for a moment before he snapped his fingers. Another guy behind him came up with a long metal detector in hand, giving it to the first man. Kage kept his arms out, not wanting to startle and cause the other to do anything drastic. The little machine made a weird clicking sound as the man scanned it over Kage’s body.
    It beeped shrilly when it got to his sweatshirt pocket, causing all the guns to click and whir into action, each tiny barrel pointed to the silver-haired man. When they pulled out the mp3 player though, sighs of relief were released, making Kage wonder how long these men had been on the force if they were still nervous about possibly shooting somebody. Other than that, and his numerous earrings, he was clear.
    “Fine,” muttered the man with the metal detector. “But what about your friend there?” he asked, gesturing with the device towards Banditt.
    “Her?” Kage wrinkled his brow. “She sleeps like the dead and has been that way since the start of this trip.” He made a face, “She’s such a party-pooper.”
    “We have to check regardless. Wake her up.”
    He sighed mournfully before dropping his arms, stepping over to his friend and shaking her. “Hey,” he called, shaking her harder. “Hey!” he tried again, lightly smacking her cheek. When she stirred a little, he grabbed her ear and twisted it, making her sit straight up with a loud yelp.
    “That hurt!” she accused, glaring at him and ignoring the magazine as it slipped off her lap to the floor.
    “Sorry,” Kage shrugged. He gestured to the men behind him, “There were gunshots or something outside our room. These guys want to scan you for a gun.”
    “What fucking gun?” she grumbled, rubbing her eyes sleepily.
    “Just stand up and let him scan you,” he sighed, grabbing her upper arm and pulling her up till she was standing.
    “The man stepped forward and ran the detector over her, sweeping along the arms and chest, (“Because I’m totally hiding a gun in my cleavage,” she rolled her eyes,) and finally along the legs, all without a peep, except for her necklace.
    “Alright,” the man admitted as he stepped back, even though he sounded skeptical. “But we’re gathering all the passengers in the first carts for safety. Please allow a couple of my men to escort you there.”
    Banditt snorted, but Kage nodded agreeably. Of course they didn’t need or want an escort, but it seemed to appease the gunmen. Half the silver-clad men stepped outside while the other half let the two friends out before them, for better protection and guarding. The man in charge ordered two men for their escort before leading the rest of his troops on to the eight cart.
    “Nice tattoo,” snorted one of the men walking beside Banditt as they started off.
    “Nice outfit,” she sneered in return. “You lot could put a trash bin to shame.”
    He flushed under the dark visor and muttered, “It’s for our protection.”
    “Not against the fashion police.”
    “The who?”
    “We’re unfamiliar with Western culture,” Kage cut in quickly, smoothly. “We just have never seen outfits like yours before.”
    “They’re the most advanced line of bullet-proof outfits in the world,” the second man answered. “They’re not very stylish, but no bullet can penetrate the silver cloth. The visors aren’t as protective, but we can’t see out of anything else. Plus these can extend down to protect our faces if we press the right button on the side of the helmet.” He turned his head to expose a row of different-sized buttons along the right temple of the strange head-piece.
    “Really?” Kage asked, sounding intrigued. “What do the other buttons do?”
    “Different things; lets us see in the dark, cloaks us from radar or heat detection, changes the channels for the headphones in our ears... All sorts of neat stuff. The outfit is the most important part though, with all the illegal guns and gun-trading going on these days.”
    “What’s the cloth called?”
    “I couldn’t pronounce it if I tried,” he laughed. “We all just call it Plasilver.”
    “And no bullet can penetrate it?”
    He nodded. “The researchers even found several special bullets in the Underground and tested them on the outfits. It will still hurt us if we get shot, but the bullets won’t actually pierce the cloth.”
    “The must be expensive,” Banditt muttered, joining the conversation.
    The man laughed a little, helplessly. “Yes, well. Money is a small price to pay for a human life.”
    “Really?” She stopped walking. The two men stopped as well, glancing back at her curiously. Kage paused a few steps ahead of them, but didn’t look back. “A human life is more important than money? Is that what you’re saying?”
    “Well... of course,” the second man responded, sounding baffled.
    “What about the life of something else? An animal? A demon? A monster? A devil?”
    “They’re... different,” frowned the first man.
    “Different? I see,” she smiled, but it was mocking. Her British accent became a little thicker and her words a little faster, like she had too many thoughts buzzing around in her mind and couldn’t sort them out. “What else is different that doesn’t matter? Well, what about different types of humans? African Americans, Asians, Jews, Muslims, homosexuals, transgenders- minorities in general. They’re humans, even though oftentimes they’re not treated as such; are their lives more important than money?”
    The two men stared at her. Kage didn’t move; he knew where this was going, and already knew what the end result was going to be.
    “It depends,” stuttered the second man, tentatively finding his voice.
    “On what? What are the stakes? If they’re a rapist, does money become worth more than their lives? What about a murderer? Or perhaps a robber?” Her words were coming out a little too fast now, and the men frowned as they tried to soak it all in. She didn’t give them any downtime. “It’s only after people do something that their society is against are they seen as less than human. Oh but wait, there are others, aren’t there? Those that commit some sort of ‘societal crime’ without meaning to? Like say, perhaps, a young lady of fifteen who has a child? She is immediately deemed disgusting, correct? A slut? A skank? People stop looking at her like a person and only see their own judgements. But what if she were raped? What if she chose, instead of putting the poor child in an adoption center, to keep it and try her hardest to raise it? No good? Here’s another one; a child born retarded. Automatically that child is deemed sub-human because he looks and acts and feels different than ‘normal people’. Or how about a man that commits some sort of crime? Let’s say he robbed a store, only he robbed it to feed his starving family because his job does not pay enough for their housing before his hard-earned money is snatched away for taxes. You deem him sub-human as well and you tell me that now money is more important than his life. But what about his starving family? What about them? Was he not doing what we were all imbedded to do; survive? Not even for himself either, but for the ones he loves.”
    The two men continued to simply stare at her. She couldn’t see their eyes for the dark visors, but she knew they were wide and shocked. People too comfortable with life often didn’t see the same things she did.
    “Perhaps,” she said, “instead of saying that human life is more important than money, you should have said, ‘Normal-by-societies-standards-human-life is more important than money’. Because that’s really what you meant.”
    Banditt stared at them with piercing violet eyes for another moment before striding forward once more, brushing past Kage on her way to the door. As it slid closed behind her, he followed, leaving the two police in guilty confusion and inner turmoil behind.

-The Fish

Devil's Heartache- Prologue

PROLOGUE

    Dying hurt.
    That was the only thing he could think, he could feel, he could agonize over. Had he been unconscious before this? He couldn’t recall. All he knew was pain. Nothing could hurt more than this, he was sure of it. There was so much pain everywhere. It was overwhelming and all-consuming, like it was trying to nibble his life away piece by excruciating piece. It seemed like he couldn’t remember what it was like to not hurt. God it was everywhere...
    “Kage!”
    There was so much noise around him. The air was thick with sulfur and blood. Every breath he took made him feel like he was forming balls of icy, fiery lead in his lungs, which only served to rip him apart further. He tried to open his eyes, but sweat and blood stung them. All he could see was fire and smoke and ash and the painfully warm night sky. The world was in chaos. Everything was screaming and ringing and dying and killing. It seemed like he had never known anything but this moment.
    “He’s losing too much blood! We can’t-”
    “Stop telling me what you can’t do and start focusing on what you can!”
    He felt like he was drowning. Too much noise and pain and liquid. Wetness covered his body, flowing into his mouth to gag him and running from the lacerations that seemed to cover every inch of flesh he possessed. With each panicked rise of his chest he felt like shrapnel was invading his veins and was ripping him open a little more. The warm stickiness told him it couldn’t be anything but blood. Blood everywhere. He was absolutely covered in it. He didn’t know if most of it was his, or somebody else’s. But who else’s could it be?
    Flickers of half-images and distorted memories surged through his mind as he tried to remember. It felt like there was something black blocking the way of his memory. It was writhing in the attempt to make him forget. But he wanted to remember. Who had he been fighting? And why? Who had he been trying to protect?
    Protect.
    Raine!
    “Hold him still; we have to keep him from moving!”
    “He’s ripping open all his injuries again!    
    “Pin him down, then!”
    “How?! I can’t tell what’s an open wound or what’s-”
    “Somebody get me a sedative already!”
    Raine was in trouble; why were these people holding him back? He had to get to her, had to save her. Why were they trying to stop him? She had lost her sword. She couldn’t hold off all those men. She was hurt. She needed him. He had promised.
    He opened his mouth, her name already screaming through his mind.
    Warm blood poured in, choking him.
    “Stop struggling!”
    He tried to lash out at the hand pinning his shoulder, but something was restraining his other wrist. He fought it and felt like he was trying to rip his shoulder right from his arm. Fury rose inside of him sharp and hot, but he was gagging and choking and couldn’t breathe. He turned his head to spit the blood out and felt something rip. Something on his neck that felt like his vertebrae had sharpened and wrapped around his throat to slice the tender flesh every time he moved. He was dying. He couldn’t die. He had to save Raine. He had promised. In a flash of desperation, he tried to call upon his magic.
    New pain ripped through him so harsh and so fast he thought he was going to split in two.
    “Kage, don’t!”
    “Somebody stop him; he’ll kill himself!”
    Who were these voices? The people they belonged to? Why were they trying to stop him? He had to save Raine. He had to protect her. He had promised.
    A new pain nipped at his arm. His mind suddenly felt thick and heavy. His vision, hitherto filled with smoke and fire and so much darkness, swam and rippled in hazy black.
    Raine... he had to save Raine.
    “Kage.”
    A voice in his ear. Soft and whispered. Familiar. It filtered in through the ringing that threatened to overthrow his mind in its entirety. He knew. He knew.
    “Kage. Raine’s dead.”
    He knew that, but...

-The Fish

Prompt from creativewriter

Mist is swirling through bare branched trees. The horse carriage's wheels crunch across frost covered cobbles. Inside the carriage, a man with a black bag full of medical equipment, sweats despite the cold. It is a nervous sweat. His breath comes out as a dull wheeze as he fishes his handkerchief out of the pocket on the inside of his coat and dabs it across his forehead, which has grown as his hairline has receded over the past few years.

Abruptly the large man pushes his medical bag out of his lap, throws the white hanky on top of it, and sticks his head out the window of the carriage. The cold wind bites his face and brings bitter tears to his eyes, but the carriage is going too slow. “Driver!” he shouts to the unfortunate man up at the head of the carriage. “I bid you hurry! Faster, faster!”

Satisfied when the carriage gives a lurch accompanied by the whinnying of a pair of over-worked horses, he sits back down with a sigh. “I had to have lost them by now,” he mutters, glancing over his shoulder even though there this nothing to see. His small pink tongue darts out to lick his lips absently, nervously, as he picks up his bag and starts to fidget with the handle again, twisting the soft cloth of his handkerchief. There are cold spots of sweat around his neck and under his armpits, and he can’t remember ever feeling so frightened before. He licks his lips again while blinking rapidly and swallowing, desperately trying not to think of what might become of him should they catch him.

“They should have known,” he mutters. It was a nervous habit of his he’d picked up from his late mother; talking to himself aloud and trying to reassure that everything was alright. “Blast it all, they should have known. A perfectly normal doctor like myself summoned to cure the likes of them? Hardly!” He began to feel a little better. That’s right; this wasn’t his fault. They should have known he wouldn’t be able to do anything, not anything at all. He was a gentleman and a fine one at that. Why should he know anything about their dealings?

“Indeed I shouldn’t,” he nodded, affirming his thoughts. But just as he began to relax, a tremendously loud crack startled the thick night air. The horses screamed and the driver hollered just as the carriage felt like it was dropping over a cliff. Utterly terrified, no sound left the doctor’s wide mouth. He was so sure that he was going to fall and break his being amongst some awfully jagged rocks, that he let out a tiny squeal of shock and surprise as the carriage landed with a loud crash on the ground.

Panting and wheezing, and his bottom smarting from the fall and the carriage bench, the doctor scrambled to his feet and tried the door. Upon finding it jammed, he ran into a few times with his elbow until it opened. In utter confusion, he glanced out and found himself on a dirt road. As he stepped out completely and away from the scene a bit, it was all he could do to think past the numb astonishment of what he was seeing.

It looked like someone had completely removed each of the four wheels in an instant, leaving only the compartment, which explained the falling-over-a-cliff sensation.

“Driver!” he called in a panic, quickly waddling to the other side. The man had to be there since he wasn’t on the side he had been staring at. “I say, driver! You lazy sod, get up. We’ll walk if we have to! I daresay-” The doctor cut himself off with a gurgled scream as he stumbled backwards about two paces before falling right on his bottom. Not only the driver, but the two horses were almost completely eviscerated, their blood and intestines gleaming in the pale moonlight. The shadows of dead black trees cast nightmare shadows on the dead forms, a sudden cold wind howling through the night to add to the effect.

“No, no!” He scrambled to his feet and started a sort of run deeper into the forest. They had left the town and all there was around him were trees and dirt, roughly made into a sort of path for carriages. “If I hide in the forest, they won’t be able to see me!” he wheezed quietly to himself. With that thought, he quickly slipped into the darkness in an attempt to throw his pursuers.

-The Fish

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Reasoning

Look, a second post in less than a day, :) This is actually for creativewriter , because they requested it and I'm highly intrigued by their community. I normally wouldn't do this because I'm just that lazy, but the entire reason I started seriously thinking about my stories and writing and such was because of a Creative Writing class I took last year. Not only do I enjoy writing my stories, but also reading other people's. I'm back on LJ because I want to get help and inspiration for my writing, as well as read other works because I like reading a lot, especially works by people of my age/generation/all that jazz.

Hopefully this is adequate enough, :)

-The Fish

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