This is another World of Darkness homebrew. This time a friend wanted to have something similar to the game Muramasa: The Demon Blade, so I came up with this template for her game.
Geist isn’t actually updated to the GMC rules yet, but I’ve done my best to encorporate them here.
Long ago in Muromachi period of Japanese history there lived a swordsman named Sengo Muramasa. Second only to Soshu Masamune, his swords were of legendary quality, said to cleave any opponent in two. They were also claimed to be cursed, incapable of being drawn without drinking blood, even going so far as to cause bloodlust in whoever wielded one of his blades. They were said to go insane, slaughtering their kin or even turning the blade on themselves if it couldn’t have it’s bloodlust sated.
I made a vampire Bloodline based off of a joke. While the core concept (catgirl vampire) seems a bit funny, I’ve made it so that the bloodline itself can be played seriously.
A monster chases you through the graveyard. It taunts you, always with a smile and two mismatched eyes staring out from the darkness. It comes with flickering ghost-light and yowling laughs. It dresses like an entertainer, but tonight you’re the entertainment. Claws run down your shoulder and you turn, only for another slash across the opposite hip. The cat plays with you, toying and laughing. A gentle kick to the back sends you stumbling forward, and you break into a run.
The red lights of the motorcycle zipped through the light rain, riding the curves like a lecher’s hands. From the bike itself came the blaring synthetic pop music, intense and rising over the motor. In the distance, a storm was rolling in, and the low rumble of distant thunder could be heard. The rider wore a green and white varsity jacket, the back and breast blazoned not with a high school letter but something half corporate logo, half medieval crest. A stylized gryphon struggling against thorns on a shield. His helmet was pure black, reflecting the lights of the mansion as he pulled up to the gate.
A black man held up a hand at the guard station, and looked at a clipboard. He was in his thirties, and the man still seated in the station was about twenty years his senior. The rider slowed, and the blarring synth-pop died.
"Woah, now, need you to take that helmet off," he said, looking over his list.
He was a mortal. Nothing special, just a rent-a-cop.
Two quick shots coughed out of the silenced 1911M1A1 pulled from the side pouch of the gym bag slung over the Rider’s shoulder. The man died in confusion, but he died quick. His partner barely had time to draw his piece, and went down the same way, bullets coughed out by the weapon slamming into his chest, painting the back wall with red, then lazily tearing through the cheap drywall.
The Rider got off, slipped into the guard station and flicked the gates open. Then the music was back on, and he put the hammer down and drove towards the mansion.
Inside, a party was going on. Drugs and booze, a hazy room with beautiful people. Most of them were stoned out of their mind, and all of them were overtaken by the music and the lusts and emotions. It was nearly orgiastic.
And then a green Kawasaki slammed through the French doors, sending wood and door handles flying. For a moment, the dancing stopped, and then it was replaced by screaming as the Rider lept off the bike, sending it spinning into the crowd. One was silenced, the other wasn’t. With a cough-BLAM two shots went out and everything was chaos.
Two black suited men, skin grey and stony, their bulk inhuman, stumbled. Two more, looking like growling wolves, reached for shotguns and fired at the rider.
The party-goers, some mortal, some gorgeous creatures of wet dreams and nightmares, panicked. One went down to a shotgun blast meant for the rider, who ducked behind a stairway. The bike spun in loud, roaring circles in the center of the hallway. More men were coming, all monstrous and terrifying. A man with skin like glassy ice took two hits to the chest and kept coming, but the third to his temple shattered half his face and dropped him to the ground. His blood was red and cold.
The Rider tossed his spent pistols aside, and rolled to the iceman’s corpse, grabbing his machine gun and keeping his helmeted head down as more gunfire tore through the air. With a rapid drumbeat, he took down one of the ogres, and winged the second. He hadn’t been hit. And then the motorcycle slammed right into him, flying through the air after thrown by the grey skinned man. As he flew backwards into a decorative indoor fountain he took out the stoneskin, pouring the rest of the machine gun into him.
He slammed into the fountain’s wall, and water and foot long golden fish came flowing out. Pulling the keys from the bike and pocketing them, the Rider pushed the Kawasaki between himself and the bullets roaring from the wolf-man’s gun. He grabbed the plastic molding, and in a second he was up on his feet, supernatural strength pressing him forward. The bike slammed into the wolf man as if it were on the road. Muted by the heavy synth still pumping from the walls, his spine snapped.
The floor was painted with blood. Some red, some not. Some mortal, some not. Four dancers were dead. Others, still staring out from behind furniture and art fixtures looked on in shock as the rider picked up his bag. The figure shot a glance around the room, and they all got the message, fleeing from the hole in the doors.
Deeper in the mansion, a man with the face of a weasel hides, six guards with him. He wears a blue track suit, and snorts cocaine. A woman in an artfully torn shirt and pink spandex lies chained on the chaisse, her shoulders bared and her lips parted in a stupor.
One of the men goes to investigate, all of them drawing their guns. With the roar of a lion—the *actual* roar of a lion—the door shatters, and the inhuman creature is knocked backwards, baring fangs in anger. As stolen blood reheals shredded skin, another blast from the shotgun turns the monster to ash.
The five remaining guards let loose on the doorway, shredding the frame with machinegun and shotgun fire. The weasel does what he always does, and hides. Magazines are reloaded, and a creature of the night takes a bullet to the temple, sending the lifeless corpse into stillness. The Rider comes in with a rifle this time, lever action, a classic Winchester repeater.
His foes move with blinding speed, and the walls and bookshelves are torn by bullets. He ducks behind a mahogany desk, and the wap wap wap of a machine pistol blows through it. He lays back, one leg on either side, pressed against drawers. The rider looks between his legs, at the feet in the room, advancing on him and putting holes in the wood.
Twelve inches up, on the left. He pulls the trigger and recocks as the body hits the floor, crumbling into ashes. Three down. Three left.
The coffee table comes flying over the desk, and nearly crushes the Rider. He interposes the stock of the Winchester, and ice and chill spread out around him. The table freezes in the Winter wind, and a strong blow from the butt of the gun splits it in half. The assassin gets in a low crouch, and pushes against the heavy wooden desk with both hands. It lifts three feet off the ground as he heaves it away, and the count is two and one. A vampire lies on the ground, panick in his dead eyes, legs torn off by the force of the desk. Wounds knit, there’s no way to restore that much damage.
The other two fire off shots, and the bullets catch on snowflakes and ice, missing the Rider. Fire-cock, and the teams are one on one. A bullet sends the Driver piroutting, green jacket stained with blood. He pulls the rifle up one handed, and pulls the trigger, only for the hammer to click uselessly.
The vampire smirks on the other side of the carnage, and levels a heavy Baretta at the rider’s black helmet.
The slide is pulled back and the chamber is empty. His smirk goes away.
The Rider tosses the Winchester, grabs it from the stock, and in one smooth motion heaves the weapon barrel first into the undead bastard’s chest. He falls to his knees, then drops. The rifle clatters to the floor in a vaguely human shaped pile of ash.
The weasel has the girl in his arms. Her head droops, and she’s still chained to the chaisse. There’s a .38 special at her temple.
"D-don’t come any closer!" he stammers, hands trembling.
"You sold us out, Weasel."
"N-no, man, no, I didn’t, I’d never do that," the coward lies.
He takes a bullet from an M1A1 in the thigh and drops the girl, clutching his leg, eyes wide. “To *leeches*.”
"C-come on, man!" the weasel whimpers, crying like a dog. "Th-they were gonna kill me, man! T-tell the king it’s done! N-no more, no more deals!"
Another bullet slams into his same thigh, this one going through the back of his hand first. He pulls it away, clutching at it and staring in shock at the hole straight through.
"O-okay, okay! L-look, man, they paid me in Krugerrands! All yours!" the coward pleads, "You ever seen one? F-fuckin’ gold coins, man!"
The next bullet tears through his foot. “You’d bribe a knight with apartheid money,” he says simply. “You are a rat-faced bastard.”
Two more bullets knock the girl free, taking care of the silvery chain around her ankle that keeps her in place. The knight says nothing as he picks the girl up, ignoring the pleas of the Weasel. He carries her in his arms, and walks out of the room.
"W-wait, man! You can’t leave me like this! Th-they’re gonna come back for me! I-I ain’t useful no more, man!"
The gym bag lands in a heap in front of the Weasel, and he winces, crawling towards it and opening it up.
"Fuck…" he murmurs, seeing the plastique and the green LCD counting down.
The Rider ignores his obscenities and begging, rights his bike, and peels out with the girl on the back, both hands at the Rider’s waist, one of his over top for security. Nothing is left behind but carnage and a streak of black rubber on the bloodstained marble floors. The music still blares.
The mansion becomes kindling.
I never realized how much I need the internet.
I came home at noon after an awkward night spent in the top bunk of a friend’s guest bedroom. I hate sleeping over. I hate the obligations of being a guest, I hate not having a retreat, not being able to hide. Do I really need to? Others in our group have gone off to be alone, to sulk or cry for no reason. We tiptoe around each others’ illnesses and provide comfort. Why do I always feel like if I speak up and say that I feel bad, that sometimes I can’t take the jokes, or the way the weight of obligation from sleeping over makes me feel, that I’ll be met with hostility or derision? Why do I feel that I’ll be hated? I hate the dance of being asked to stay over so that drinks can be had late into the night, and then having to play the guest as if I asked to stay over. I hate feeling like a burden, but if I don’t, someone needs to drive. If I do, then I can’t be up like my usual vampiric self, sitting at the dining room table on the computer, because I might wake someone or interrupt morning ‘me’ time.
Regardless, though, the internet.
I came home and the internet was off. Apparently it’s been off since 1am. Here I sit at 8pm and it’s still off. At first I didn’t care. I fiddled with the router, heard it was going to be off for another hour, then took to entertaining myself with cheesy low grade vampire porn from Kink.com I downloaded ages ago. It was as corny as you can imagine, I finished up in the spots I could keep from laughing, and took a shower, expecting the internet to be back. It wasn’t.
By two, the internet still wasn’t on, and I tried to read a comic I was suggested. 54 pages in, and The Nikopol trilogy didn’t interest me in the least. I took a nap. Or tried to.
I didn’t get to sleep. Instead, I had a bit of a freak out. I didn’t cry or even whimper, but I still lay there with my face in the pillow and worried. Feared.
Halloween is coming up, and I’ll be turning 25. When I was in high school, I always assumed I’d be dead or have my life together.
I’m still living with my parents, I’m spiraling deeper into depression. I’m broke, with a single dollar to my name. Of course, with the mountain of debt above my head, ready to fall on me like so many men buried in trenches from artillery fire, I don’t really even have that. I live in a toxic environment, were I’m constantly confronted with passive-aggression on a daily basis, and reminded in so few words that I’m a burden. And worst of all, I’m in the oroboros circlejerk Catch-22 where I need money to get treatment, and I need treatment to get money.
And on the other end of the coin, I see no burning orphanages to valiantly risk my life on, so I doubt I’ll be dead by All Saint’s Day. Suicide isn’t something I want. Really, I don’t even want the noncommittal oblivion of sleeping and never waking up. I want to get better. I want this bullshit to end. I’ve lost a quarter of my life. Maybe even a third. What’s suicide if you haven’t got a life? I just want to get free of the cables trying to drag me down.
But that’s where we come back to the circlejerk. I can’t get treatment. I have 0 dollars and 0 cents. I have negatives, actually. Every time I’m getting treatment, I feel that passive-aggressive weight. It nearly physically pains me to go to the psychiatrist. Six months or more have passed and none of the medication seems to do a damned thing for me. Or maybe I’m just saying that because I’m off of it, and will be for another fifteen days, at least, while waiting for the doctor to come back from vacation.
Every time, during that long car ride, I can just feel the resentment from whichever parent is driving me. “Why can’t you drive yourself? Why can’t you get a job? Why can’t you pay for the medicine and the co-payment yourself? Why are you such a burden? Why am I still caring for you at 25? Why do you always blame us?” I’ve been told I should hate them. Maybe if I was sane enough that I didn’t need to hear those things, I would. But instead I can only feel a sense of pity. Pity to the people who’s apathy has driven me to depression. We don’t speak the same language. It’s not a generation gap, or even an issue of intellectualism. They simply cannot understand me. It’s impossible to talk to them. And so I don’t hate them, I just feel sorry for them.
But back to the internet.
I never realize how much I need it until I don’t have it. Even now, writing this in OpenOffice, I keep glancing at the little icon of a monitor and that yellow triangle overtop it. Wishing the internet would come back on.
I don’t even DO anything. The last month I’ve done nothing but hang out in the /tg/chat room on a fetish roleplaying website. In a month and a half I’ve wracked up twenty characters. And only a fraction of that time has been spent “lewding”, that is engaging in erotic roleplay. And the times I do, I don’t get aroused by it, as others seem to. I do it to write. And embarrassingly enough, it’s the most writing I’ve done in ages. And I fulfill people’s typefucking fetishes. Female on male rape, romance, being seduced by demons, or just bards. Helped one person explore orientation play, with her young princess being given a working over by an older woman after being unsatisfied with awkward teenage boys just looking to get their nut off.
What I do, though, is just hang out and shoot the shit. Sure, I’d rather do it in an IRC room with ten people instead of a fetish website’s chat with 70, but talking is talking, and talking is a distraction. Perhaps not a healthy one, in the long run, since it distracts me from things like writing and working to dig my way out of this hole, but it is helpful in keeping me from experiencing the fucking anxiety that I faced today.
And even beyond whatever flavour of the year I’m experiencing, the internet is always there with a pile of distractions, from 4chan to Reddit to Youtube to Newgrounds to anything else, if I pull myself out of a rut and search. And it can provide a balm, too. So often I’ve worked out my problems by bitching to others, or even by listening to others bitch. Worked out like knotted muscles, soon to return, but still.
And still I glance at that icon, hoping for a change. And it seems like I can’t put it off any longer, and I need to move. I need to move my mattress and desk downstairs to the den. From Quasimodo to cave dwelling creature. I’d rather leave my belltower and go somewhere else, but once again, I need money.
Maybe this will work out for the best. A change of scenery, at the least. Let that small change help me. God, I hope it does.
I hate writing about myself…
If anyone does read these posts, go read another one. Go read Lauren, or On Your Feet, Private. I feel like I owe any reader something that isn’t shit. I need to tell another story. Fuck, I owe myself that.
This was written back during my ill-conceived time at ITT, during an Ethics class. I stumbled across it wondering “what the heck is ‘The Code’?” and I’m reminded how much I like my own writing, so I thought I’d share. So much of this blog seems to be me finding old stuff, I really ought’a write something new, huh? I was still dating my old Mage ST at the time, and it shows a bit. Remembering the people I talk about here makes me nostalgic. Happy for a time that no longer exists, and that I can’t go back to.
I am a saint, and I am a sinner. I mock, deride, and insult some, while encouraging, praising, and cheering others. I’ve done no great good, or great evil. I’m a human being, and as such, my ethics are contradictory and often contrived. Selective, subjective, and at odds with one another.
I find that many of the statements of my ethics are in the form of “I would X but not Y”. I would steal two dollars sitting on a table, but I wouldn’t steal a .99 cent pack of gum from a store. Is it because there’s harsher penalties to shoplifting even small items than to pick up untended money? Perhaps. I’d never want to hurt someone, but at the same time I’d like to. I wouldn’t want to start a fight, but I’d like to be in one. I wouldn’t want to be a thief, but I’d like to steal something.
I suppose the bulk of my ethics comes, as with everything, with my interactions with people over the internet, having lived a rather boring life off of it. As I’ve mentioned in previous Reflections papers, I find myself in the position of an inadvertent counselor. I seem to attract people with issues, and I let my shoulders be far bigger than they are, shrouding them in a mantle of tears. I provide a mostly sympathetic ear. Even the ones who seem schizophrenic in outlook, calling me a good friend one moment and the next insulting me and mocking my efforts, get the same treatment of arm chair psychiatry and advice into their problems.
Over the years, the doctor has been in on issues of gender dysphoria (more than twice), feelings of hopelessness and isolation, offering a kind, gentle word to people who hate what they are and others who’ve been for lack of more colourful descriptions were raped by a family member. I’ve talked with people who suffered cancer, survived it, are afraid it’s coming back. I’ve talked with at least one person who caught it in time. I’ve talked with a lonely, isolated girl who lost six feet of her intestines to Chron’s Disease, and an admittedly very creepy transsexual in her mandatory year as a woman who performed a meatotomy on herself while talking to me on IRC. For your own sanity, do not Google that.
Often times, I feel almost as if I’m someone who’s phone number is one digit away from the suicide hotline, and many times—thankfully none in recent years—I’ve felt like the people on the other end of the line were going to end their perceived suffering if I said the wrong thing. Most of them were whiny adolescents and barely-out-of-their-teens angst ridden melodramatists. Once again, an example of contradictory nature. The people I ‘see’ now in my little unofficial ‘practice’ are more deserving, and yet less effected. Despite their issues of intimacy, gender confusion, and straight up displacement, the things that get them down are online games.
Lately, I’ve taken it upon myself to become more proactive in my helping of others, going from being a sympathetic ear to actively offering kindness to those who seemed like they needed it, beyond my usual. I doubt that this class had anything to do with it, but there’s always the chance that if I say it has, I’ll get a bit better grade. It was here, in cheering someone up, that I was given what I feel may have been the most heartwarming praise that I have ever been given—as well as yet another indicator that my life is weird.
“If I was a real girl, I wish I could marry someone as good as you.”
In thinking of this topic, I was advised to look at the actions of the characters that I play in my roleplaying games. I was told to look at the character’s action, and then think about how I would do it differently. My character, a “Death” focused Mage, who uses his necromantic powers, and manipulation of Shadow as if it was a physical substance, to solve crimes and help the living, has faced many things. In his first case, a man killed his wife and children. But it was because of the influence of a ghost that conned a church into believing he was a God. The pastor let himself unspool from this mortal coil to become ephemeral, my Mage stopped him. In the end, the result of that first case was a man in prison for a crime that wasn’t his fault, and a man who wants to kill me for showing him that his beliefs were a lie, and having the gall to keep him from dying.
He’s seen children living in an underground city, Lost Boys style, with gladiatorial matches sometimes to the death. He’s seen a flood drown the sick leper children in Low Town. He’s saved a woman—a cop, basically—from pushing herself for her career in a way that was suicide. He’s had to deal with the ethics of whether his Goddaughter belongs with him—who loves her and cares for her enough to kill for her, despite refusing to kill for any reason—or whether her father deserves to have her back—he faked his own death, and is possibly the cause of a series of storms that caused widespread black outs across the US.
I don’t know what Juste’s decisions say about me. But that he has had to make them is a big exploration of morality and ethics as a whole for me. After all, what better conflict than Man versus Himself? What better way to create tension in a story than to have an internal conflict mirror an external one? Or of course the other way around. That my ST is creative enough to give me these issues is one of the reasons I love him so much.
But the question is: What do the character’s choices say about me? What about the characters that are further removed from me? Can a character who thinks very differently from me tell me as much about myself as the actions of a character that thinks similarly to myself?
I don’t really know. I don’t know what my ethics are, to be honest. I think, if boiled down, it would simply be… Don’t be a jerk. But at the same time, I’m very flexible on that definition. I say mean things as often as I say nice things. I borrow with no intent of repayment, I lend with no intent of repayment. I say kind words to those who need them, and yet I’m brash and brusque.
Asked by Anonymous
Either way too early or way too late, depending on your frame of reference. Also, thanks. I really need to write more, even if it is just random vignettes.
Frank fucked me well. He didn’t fumble around or feel me up. He knew just how to press my buttons to get me where I needed to go. He fucked me good. I was writhing beneath him, gasping for air. When he finished inside me, for a brief moment, I felt alive. He was good at what he did. A real pro.
"See you next week," he said, as I lay there, spent, trying not to move. He zipped up his pants, and took the folded up hundreds from off the night stand, next to the Kleenex. I grunted in agreement as he left. What’s that phrase? You pay them to leave?
I lay there, still in my cheerleader uniform, panties around my ankles, and reached for the other thing on the night stand: A pack of menthols. I tried not to move too much, just letting the seed of my “prince” simmer between my legs as I inhaled a ragged breath of nicotine and tar and slow death.
"Those things’ll kill you."
I lifted my head slightly and glared at the ratty stuffed tiger sitting on the unused dresser. A long puff of smoke was my only reply.
I was reaching for the tissues to clean myself up and go wander the midnight nation looking for trouble when I felt an all too familiar nausea come over me. A twisting, wretched sickness that never impaired my abilities, but nonetheless told me that nothing was right in the world. And then the wall of the no-tell motel exploded inwards, pieces of wood and glass following a dark blur.
In an instant, I threw myself to the other side of the bed. With the supernatural strength granted to me by the night’s ‘lovemaking’, currently running down my thigh, I flipped it. Rivets popped out and metal bent as the bed went sideways. Barely in time to block the youkai barreling at me.
It snapped the bed the rest of the way out of the floor and pinned me up against the wall, the legs keeping me from getting crushed. I put my knees against it, and pushing outwards with my shoulders against the cheap wallpaper. The rusted metal underwire bit into my legs like little more than stiff grass.
The living wrecking ball warbled in a weirdly modulated voice, sounding like a robotic chicken. A claw came up from over the bed, nearly cutting into my face. I dodged, and grabbed it by the wrist, squeezing and twisting. It was disgusting, and made my uterus quiver painfully. But even monsters feel pain, and the thing squawked, then shoulder checked the bed. One of the legs of the bent upward, and the frame smacked me in the forehead.
I ducked down, but lost my grip as the stars flooded in. The hand was replaced by a beak. A red, razorlined thing, like some freakish cockatiel, with dripping waddles on either side. It snapped at me, but couldn’t reach. I held out my hand to the side and with a flash of pink light and rose petals I was holding a Chinese straight sword.
The demon let out an angry warble and scratched at the floor, trying to shove the bed into me. It wasn’t going to be folded like an accordion though, and shoved back with my knees. Unfortunately the cheap wall wasn’t as strong as I was, and I could hear it cracking under my back. With a grunt of effort, I pushed the bed away. Only, the wall gave, and I ended up with my shoulders going through the drywall. Either way, I had enough room to move.
The jian went through the bed like butter, and the youkai wasn’t any more of a problem than the cheap steel wires, the box spring, and the disgusting mattress. When the sword plunged into flesh, the pressure went away, the monster shrieking in freakish agony. The blade burned the damned thing and singed flesh and the disturbingly inappropriate scent of cherry blossoms filled the room.
With the leeway from the recoil, I lifted both legs up and double kicked the bed and bird away from me. They didn’t go dramatically sailing out the hole in the wall, but they did drag across the floor into the center of the room in a tangle. I got to my feet first, and was finally able to get a good look at the monster that attacked me.
It had a short, blunt beak with a wicked curve, but the body of a dinosaur, and it was covered in a shaggy, matted fur. It smelled like blood, and now women’s shampoo. As it warbled and clawed at the floor trying to right itself, I got into a defensive stance, black-bloodstained blade between me and the beast. It was flailing wildly, lashing out with claws like the ones I’d seen in some science class ages ago on a giant sloth.
A pillow came flying at me, batted to the side with the sword, and the thing righted itself, crouched over in the motel room, with the neon lights of the vacancy sign streaming in and backlighting it. It was hideous. And it let out a warbling, shrieking cry that physically hurt down at the base of my belly. Not that I wanted to let it show, so I just grit my teeth and growled back. We stood off for a long stretch of moment, the thing’s miasma now distorting the room. Colours faded and bent, lengthening oddly.
And then from the dresser, next to the TV advertised as colour with HBO, the little stuffed tiger let out a sharp whistle. The creature lost concentration, and jerked it’s head to the side, half panicked by the intrusion. Knowing it was coming, I just smiled, and kicked off the ground, driving the sword into the monster’s gut. The thing tore at me as I bit into it with my blade, that nauseating scent of cherry blossom and rancid blood filling the room again. Those scythelike claws managed to tear open my back, so I just dug in deeper, ignoring the blood staining the back of my Cheer uniform.
Instead of trying to pull me off, the freak did the sensible thing and rolled around back and forth, slamming me into the wall and getting away from my sword. It lumbered around in the middle of the room, trying to stay away from me, and kept glancing at the stuffed tiger. One of those big taloned shovel hands was pressed against it’s belly, keeping organs and ichor from falling to the floor. It was on it’s last legs, and was already putting it’s back to the monster sized hole in the back wall. But I was getting woozy as well, despite my recent recharge.
"Jenn?" came a concerned voice from the dresser.
“‘Mokay…” I mumbled, dismissively flicking a hand in that direction.
Birdbrain flicked his eyes back and forth, finally understanding. I needed to end this.
Love was the answer. I closed my eyes and tried to think of love. Instead I thought of getting fucked well by Frank, and the now half-dried semen on my thighs. I snapped my eyes opened just in time to get out of the way of the youkai swiping at me. Love. Fuck love. Nail bounced off steel, parried to the side, and the thing clucked at me, taking a few steps closer, forcing me to take a few steps back. I tried again. Why was it always so hard?
All I could think of were burned bridges. Parents, friends. I was running out of love.
My lack of action was met with a redoubled effort by the freak. It lashed out at me, and I ended up with nowhere to go, my back pressing against the wall. The gashes lit up like fire. I only had one sword, while he—it—had two claws, and a beak. I blocked once, but the other came down and tore through the drywall and ripped the front of my uniform into tatters. My shoulder would have been gone of I was a lesser girl. The stuffed tiger was crying out in worry, but I was ignoring him.
A *foot* came up and pressed against me. The touch was disgusting, and came with that nauseating burning glow within my uterus thanks to my ‘gift’. I swiped at it with my blade, but the thing caught my wrist and trapped it between two giant talons. The pressure increased. I couldn’t help but cry out in agony as another cheerleader shaped hole cracked into the wall. I think I felt a rib break, although it might have been a support beam. More agony. No, it was definitely a rib.
"Jennifer!" the tiger called out, panicking. Panicking and useless.
The freak warbled in victory, and I couldn’t help but wish I was thirteen again. Thirteen and naive. With fresh power restoring seed filling me up, and so much less dead inside. This would have been a minor threat, before three years of bullshit, three years of broken relationships and alcoholism. I reached down inside myself and tried to find love. Tried to find idealism, or hope, or anything. Somewhere, beneath ashes and cigarette butts I found it. A ratty stuffed tiger. A dead man inside. A kiss that meant something. Fuck me, of course it’s the improbable, impossible relationship.
I muttered a cheer with ragged breath, trying to keep cadence and banish the miasma. It’s hard to make cheerleading work when you’re being pushed through a wall. But I did. And the writhing in my ladyparts went away, moving upwards to become a dense knot of warmth in my chest. I let in a breath as best I could through a compressed chest, the definitely broken rib threatening to break my concentration.
And I went limp, my head rolling back. I stopped fighting the freak for a single, desperate second. And then a pulsing pink beam burst out of my chest, burning the youkai off of me. I stumbled to my feet, pressing it back with the light of hope and love, and took another breath, raising the sword above my head.
"Foul demon," I shouted, tracing a glowing sigil in the air, "I banish you back to Hell from which you came!" with a strike of my outstretch palm—and a warbling shriek of terror—the sigil exploded. The youkai was nothing more than a disgusting, stinking smear of jelly on the carpet. The second it was gone, the sparkling pink light faded from me, and I dropped my sword to the floor. It clattered there for a moment, then faded away. I stumbled over to the upside down bed, grabbed the half empty pack of cigarettes from off the floor, and lit one up.
I looked at my thighs, and my exposed breast, covered in blood and sweat, chips of drywall and paint on my shoulder. Then I looked at the Kleenex. And I sighed. “I need a shower.”
All in a night’s work for a magical girl.
It was a bright, sunny day outside Crescent Garden Avenue. The kind of day where soccer fields would be filled up and you’d practically need to reserve a spot if you wanted to picnic in the park. It wasn’t really the kind of day you’d associate with a brutal murder, but then again, if every day with a murder was horrible, the sun would never come out.
The one thing that ruined the picturesque suburban cul-de-sac’s image of warmth was the bright yellow and orange caution tape. That and all the police vehicles. Seeing the already full driveway, CSU had just gone and pulled their van up onto the front lawn.
Standing out front, looking very noticeable leaning on the telephone pole, just outside the caution tape, was Detective Inspector Alex Drake. He looked like he might be related to the telephone pole, standing a respectable far-too-tall. He was handsome, though I suspected he didn’t realize it, with his thick, dark blond hair and strong jaw. He had that stereotypical stubble, the kind that makes you wonder if he shaves with a spoon, but still looks rugged. His shield hung around his neck, and he wore a shoulder rig beneath his jacket. He was indulging in one of his vices, but crushed the butt beneath his heel when he saw me coming. He looked uncomfortably queasy.
"Hey, kid," he said, taking a deep breath and looking down at me. Most people looked down at me, but Alex had to look way down. "Hope you skipped lunch."
"I haven’t even had breakfast," I said with a yawn. "Is it that bad? Sam wouldn’t elaborate, just said I needed to get down here."
Alex chuckled, looking for a moment like he wasn’t about to vomit. “It’s two-thirty… And yeah, it’s bad. Guy musta gone crazy or something. Killed his wife and kids, tore them up into pieces or some shit.”
"Pieces," he said with a sigh. "Go on, don’t make her wait. She’s already pissed I needed a smoke break."
With that, the two of us walked up the path to the house. The path struck me as incredibly well manacured, with hexagonal paving stones each about a foot apart, in a footstep pattern. They were neatly edged, but it wasn’t a professional job. The grass was cut, probably within the last few days. I could see the lawnmower in the back, one of those ones with the bag attached to suck up the clippings. Anticipating the worst and with my imagination running wild, it all seemed far too disconcerting.
But my imagination, it turns out, was small time compared to the real thing.
There was blood everywhere.
I don’t just mean “everywhere”, all over the carpet or the couch. I mean every. Where. There was blood on the cieling. He must have been painting with it. And just as Alex said, body parts. Small, child sized body parts.
For a moment, I just stood there in the doorway, my eyes focused on nothing in particular, the coppery smell of mostly fresh blood mixed with the more pungent smells of last night’s dinner, and the kind of piss that only comes from utter terror. When it finally managed to piece together what it was looking at, a piece of my soul started screaming out. I quickly closed my eyes and told it to shut up. A little chant to calm my nerves.
"Careful where you step," came a woman’s voice.
She startled me, and I had to clench to keep my eyes closed, and lock that screaming in my brain back up.
"Sam," I said quietly, trying to keep the emotion out of my voice. I didn’t open my eyes yet.
Detective Chief Inspector Samantha Tyler, bless her heart, just gave me some quiet. It only took a moment, then I opened my eyes with unflinching resolve and scanned the room, trying to take it in only in small portions.
Sam was the first thing I saw. Taller than me, but nowhere near as tall as Alex. She wasn’t as good looking as her partner, not traditionally at least. Her button nose looked like it had gotten all buttony from one too many playground fights, and she kept her hair short. It was strawberry blonde, and her bangs always seemed spiked up. I think she tried for a bob cut, but it never really looked like one. Her eyes were the thing I always noticed, though. She had worry lines, and caring eyes. We locked eyes for a moment, and then I scanned the room once I could take it in without tossing my cookies.
I did a little math. “Where’s the wife?”
"In the kitchen," Sam told me.
"Mostly," Alex said with a sigh.
The fresh snow crunched under my shoes as I stood around nervously. It was coming down softly, the pines out on the trail behind the school, and the Lacrosse field, all covered in white. It looked like a greeting card, almost. I was starting to feel foolish, standing there in the snow. I realized I’d walked a ever widening circle, and just shivered a little, sticking my hands in my coat pockets and hunching up my shoulders.
I took a look back over at the school, and finally saw what I was waiting for. Dark hair standing out against the snow, purple jacket, school skirt, thick black stockings. I could tell it was Isabella even from across the field. I nervously fingered the jewelry in my pocket, and tried to keep my composure as she took the long walk from the school. It was excruciating. I bit my lip, and my heart made a weird fluttering.
"Keep it together, Cory," I muttered, the sotto words still coming out in a little grey puff.
Standing there with my chest tightening, I began to worry. I had time to think about how stupid what I did was. Maybe I could come up with an excuse. “No, Izzy, someone else must have put that note in your locker” I mumbled, wincing at the sound of it. “Bella, we’ve been really close these last few weeks, and I’ve always thought you were… no, that makes me sound like a stalker…” It felt like forever and a day before she’d get to me, but at the same time it was like watching a fuze run out. What if she was angry? my fingers twisted around in my pocket. Maybe it was too forward?
"Christmas is coming up, and it’s a time for lovers… Ugh, why didn’t I think of something to say first?" I was mentally kicking myself over that one. Once I slipped that letter in her locker, it was too late to back out. Isabella was close enough now that I could see the look on her face.
She didn’t look angry. Was she smiling? She kind of looked like she was, but it was a humourous, incredulous smile. She was going to let me down easy, I could just tell. It was like every other time. I’d spend another Christmas alone in my room watching movies with my cat.
"I’m sorry!" I blurted out, after she gave me a friendly wave. I winced, feeling like more of an idiot.
"For what?" She asked, taking the note and envelope out of her pocket.
I winced again, and only opened one eye, my face all scrunched up. “That…” I halfheartedly mumbled.
“‘Dear Isabella,’” she read, the hint of a laugh in her voice. My face started burning. “‘I have something very important to ask you. Please meet me out by the trails at your earliest convenience. Yours, Cory.’”
I bit my lip. That was a bad way to sign it. “I-um…” I stammered. My heart was pounding. “Would you take a walk with me?” I asked, taking one hand out of my pocket and motioning to the beautifully white trail.
Izzy chuckled, covering her hand with her mouth. “Of course,” she said, moving in to walk alongside me. She glanced at the circle of powder kicked up and flattened down during my nervous pacing, but didn’t say anything.
I kept my hands in my pockets, fiddling with the chain and trying to think of what to say. Izzy just walked along, humming softly.
When she moved closer, and slipped her arm through mine, my heart nearly lept out of my throat, and my chest got tighter. It was starting to hurt. I bit my lip and swallowed, trying to ignore it. She didn’t think it was weird. Maybe she liked it. I was starting to think it would work out.
The woods were quiet, just the two of us, the falling snow, and the occasional bird not yet tucked away for winter. When we got to the Big Pine, I stopped, and with a deep breath, I broke away from Izzy. The Big Pine was almost a sacred place for the school. They say anyone who confesses there will have good luck in their relationships. I know that’s just superstition, and lots of people have had break ups, but Mrs Morgandy confessed to her husband here, and she’s had one of the happiest marriages I’ve ever seen.
I bit my lip, and fumbled around in my pocket, stumbling over my words as I did. “Izzy, we’ve, um, I mean, working together with you on the project… I always thought you were beautiful, and… I-I mean…”
That pounding came back tenfold, and I could barely hear myself. Izzy looked a little… concerned? I closed my eyes and swallowed. “What I mean to say is, I—”
The words caught in my throat, and out of nowhere, someone stabbed me in the chest with a burning hot iron. Red flashed through my vision, and everything when blurry and out of focus.
“I—” another flash of bright, bloody red accompanying searing pain. I stumbled for real, and dropped the bracelet, the little red heart falling down what seemed like miles to land in the snow. Everything felt slow.
Isabella was calling my name, but I couldn’t hear anything but that pounding. She rushed forward, but was too slow—so, so very slow, like she was barely moving—I dropped to my knees and them my face hit the snow. I was met with thousands of little flakes, before beautiful and scenic, now like frozen glass cutting into my cheeks, already wet with tears. My fingers were cold. Everything was cold. Except my chest. My lungs were on fire, and I couldn’t breath. When I tried, I sucked in the fresh white powdered glass.
Izzy was on her knees beside me, and all I could think about was how she was ruining her new stockings getting them wet and dirty like that. Her grandma gave them to her as a birthday present. I remembered her sitting there telling me how comfortable and cute they were over a bunsen burner, the goggles making her green eyes stand out and look watery through the plastic. Somewhere in the stretching space between breaths I could feel the memory of my cheeks burning when she lifted the hem of her skirt to show me the little purple ribbons, and I caught a glimpse of the gorgeous thighs I always tried not to stare at in gym class, and at the pool, and that time I walked in on the girls changing.
I wouldn’t see those milky thighs again. Or her long, black hair catching the sun. Or watch her face light up in a laugh when I let her draw little hearts on my hands during class. I wouldn’t see her eyes over the flame of a burner, goggles making them look like they were underwater. Was this the end?
I couldn’t think straight through the pain, and was crying into the snow, whimpering. I think I was trying to say I love her, but I don’t know if anything was coming out. My hand reached for the little white gold of the bracelet, closed around the little ruby heart. I saved up for weeks, fretting over whether she’d like it. Now I wasn’t going to be able to give it to her.
Fresh powder was kicked up in my face as she ran away, back towards the school. Through water and packing peanuts I could hear her shouting for help.
I panicked more. I could feel something inside of me fracturing. I didn’t want to be alone. I didn’t want to spend Christmas alone. I wanted to kiss Izzy. I wanted to hold her, and sit by the fireplace.
Another sharp, searing spear of frost coated fire jabbed it’s way through my back and out my rib cage, tearing through my heart with jagged, white hot barbs. Everything went bright, firework red, and then the colour faded from the world and I couldn’t see anything. I couldn’t feel anything, except the clear shadow of my heart cracking.
There are different types of ghosts.
Some are your standard chains rattling, “get out” types, warning onlookers and occupants of impending doom. Others are just phantom feelings, little chills you get on the back of your neck, and the uncertainty of knowing no one is there, but feeling watched anyway. Usually harmless enough, if unnerving and downright spooky. Sometimes you’ll get shades that are restless illusions, going through the motions that lead up to their death, not really anything more than an echo. Ghosts can sometimes fixate upon their death, just obsessing, and not really understanding.
And sometimes they’re psychotic, angry, bitter phantasms that don’t really give a crap what’s going on around them, and only want to inflict pain on whoever’s around, driven mad by age and the trauma of their death, rightly pissed off at the living and even some of their kindred amongst the dead. Bitter, hollow spirits who want nothing than to spread the stain of death to all they encounter once provoked.
I’ll let you figure out which of them tossed me across the room, slamming me into the wall so hard that I left a dent.
I tumbled to the floor, landing on my face. I’d be dead if not for the imbuements on my grey-black trenchcoat, magical energy and alchemy strengthening every fiber and allowing it to disperse the energy in ways that rivaled body armour. Unfortunately it still hurt like hell, and my thoughts rattled around like dimes in a begger’s beer can.
The ghost of Howard Holmes had long ago stopped being human, his mind perverted, warped with the already depraved emotions that filled him when he was alive—emotions that caused him to murder six girls. And the ectoplasmic flesh that made up his incorporeal form had twisted with it.
Holmes’ ghostly flesh was a pale, sickly green, his clothes now tattered and shredded, though still recognizable as the suit of a well-to-do gentleman, the little ribbon tied in a bow at his collar now ratted and frayed. His black slacks torn and dangling, fading into the faint grey mist that hung around the mad ghost. What really changed, though, was his face.
In life, Holmes had been young, handsome, with fine features that lead six women to the afterlife. In death, he was emaciated, thin and skeletal, with eyes that burned with hatred. His cheekbones looked like they would cut me if I tried socking him. And where his thin lips and teeth that looked so white in the faded photograph used to sit, contorting his features and pulling taut the ephemeral flesh, was a deep, dark hole that couldn’t fit more than a pinky finger.
The dark, wretched shade hunched over in the middle of the room, letting back his arms like some kind of pit fighter and seemed to howl at me, the tiny pinprick of a mouth widening to show off thousands of little, like the Sarlaac Pit, going off into utter darkness. I sure as hell didn’t want to stick my hand in there. The sound came out in a low, rumbling hiss, like it had to work to escape that darkness.
I did my best to ignore the way that phantasmal growl chilled my bones, and seemed to make frost form on the broken shards of glass all over the floor. I blocked it out as I gathered myself up, standing shakily on my feet. With an almost casual wave, a gentle beckoning motion with my shaking hands, shadows began to dance around me, coalescing into something solid.
"Alright, ugly…" I muttered, tasting blood on my lip, "let’s do this the hard way."
Technically, it’s not for another month—July 1st is Re-Resolution Day, 6 months after January 1st, you remake your resolutions—but it’s time to set down my re-resolutions. Time to make a plan, and hopefully follow through.
I’ve failed at my trip. Maybe I’ll come back to that, maybe I won’t. I will still meet those friends, or at least go visit them and crash on their couches for a while, maybe spend a vacation hanging out or whatever. But for now, it looks like I’m stuck here. It hurts, but maybe it’s for the best. Maybe I just need to make the friends that I have better, and realize that, well, I have friends. Hard to remember, since most of my life I really haven’t had someone who would have picked me up from Baltimore if I needed it, which I did, and they did.
So… now I’m back in Richmond. What to do with my life? Not ten minutes here and I already remembered why I left. I’m very… incompatible with my family. So how do I stop from getting into the same funk of depression, the constant spiral of nothingness?
Well, to start with, I’m going to need to get a job. Unfortunately, the only one I can think of is waiting tables for racist old people at the senior home, a job that keeps being offered to me with the worst sell ever. I don’t know if I can stand that, but at $10 an hour, plus tips, I don’t really have any choice in the matter.
Once I’ve secured a job, then it’s time to move the fuck out. I have maybe an option or two as far as that goes. But who I become roommates with can actually wait until after I get the job. All that matters is that it is on the list.
Once I have a job and a roommate and an apartment, all of which will hopefully be secured by the time the actual re-resolution day rolls around (July 1st), I need to write. In fact, I need to write right now. I need to plan out my story, and I need to write the first novel of the Black Cat Investigation series so that I can have it finished and (self) published by October. I have a feeling that getting a novel finished, even if not a single soul buys it, will be monumentally good for my personal mental health. And, well, I can always count on a few Redditors to buy it. Should also probably write some smutty gay porn. With vampires. Always rakes in the cash.
And then there’s the matter of school. ITT was a shitty place, and not a real school. If I at all want a real career, then I have a few choices. I can either hope that I’m a good enough and prolific enough writer, I can get a better computer and practice on the things ITT didn’t teach me and then get a career in that field and then have them say they helped me even though they didn’t. Or… I can go back to school for something else. And, well, there’s the teaching program here in VA, so I can get a lot of my stuff paid for if I go to J Sarg and plan to teach and blahblahblah whatever. So I guess I’ll do that. Go back to school. If for no other reason than to structure myself and give me sanity.
So, job, apartment, roommate, novel, school. I’ll also want to go and finally see a shrink. Get diagnosed with whatever problems I have, and get help for them. There’s no telling how much that will help.
Job, Apartment, Roommate, Novel, School, Shrink.
Maybe I can still fix myself by the end of the year. Maybe?
I was all set to fail yesterday. When my host came home from work, I told her that I’d decided I was going to go back to Richmond after spending the week doing GAY stuff with her, volunteering and meeting the “lovely queers” and whatnot. She then made a counteroffer, suggesting I upgrade from surfer to roommate.
She only needs an extra hundred or so as my rent. I’d be sleeping on the couch, at least every other week when her children are here, and she constantly seems to be reminding me that she might shave off all her hair and try to burn things if she runs out of her Prozac. But after mulling it over, I decided that, yeah, maybe. That might actually not be a terrible idea.
I have no idea how to be an adult. Admittedly, much as I love her, my host seems to have trouble with that as well, but if I can get a job in this small town, just something that lets me save up some money and I can learn from someone 12 years my senior, who’s lived a very… interesting life, then, yeah, that might work.
I can have my change of perspective and outlook and most importantly the physical change of location that symbolically ties my thoughts to the metaphorical changes, and I can hopefully grow as a person. Also, apparently houses are cheap now? That’s something I would know if I were an adult. So, in effect, I get to uproot myself, learn from different people, and hopefully grow into a better person. All while not being a bum, which so many people seemed to have a problem with.
I’m still going to travel, and I know there are so many people I still want to meet, but I guess I won’t just be walking to them. My ho—roommate has her boyfriend who lives in Canada to visit every so often, and maybe during those times, I’ll visit my friends, provided I have the money. And, well, if I can’t get a job by the end of the month, then I’ll just give up and head back down to Richmond. Failure doesn’t seem so bad when you’d already resigned yourself to it.
I’ve spent a whopping 300+ dollars over the last month. I wake up every morning with a horrendous cough, and a throat full of congestion. I haven’t written but two or three blog posts, I haven’t actually walked any of my walking across the country, and I’ve only met one of my friends, and he mostly played on the internet. And I lost my ID.
I don’t know whether I should continue with my trip. Or what I’m doing. I still haven’t figured out what to do with my life, although I have had a bit of an experience as far as things go. I realize that I do know what I am, I just don’t have a good way of putting it into words. I’m becoming more open with myself, and being away from home and the people I know has allowed me to be more open with others. I’ve helped look after children, I’ve gone to a transgender pride thing (I didn’t do anything other than be there for support and steal some freebies, though), and I’ve opened up and told a person I barely know personal things that I haven’t told anyone without the aid of typing to them first.
I’m no closer to my goal of writing, though. I’m not closer to my goal of being a novelist, or publishing anything, or even putting something up on Amazon. Hell, I’m five blog posts behind, at least, and I may never get to them. I didn’t take notes on things, I didn’t do anything.
I’m running out of means to support myself, and all the stuff I have available to me are things I don’t really know if I want to use. Maybe it is time to go back home. Time to just buckle down and work things out. Maybe I’ve gotten what I need to get. Maybe I haven’t. I don’t know whether I’ve failed, or just realized that I don’t have to succeed. Who knows?