Like Father, Like Spawn

Discussion in 'ROLEPLAY GRAVEYARD' started by Mundane Monster, Feb 8, 2015.

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  1. You're evil.


    Don't look at me like that.
    I know you've always known.
    You've always had an inkling that you were just a little bit
    darker than the rest.
    You always wondered why your version of "Looking on the bright side!"
    always involved death and crippling d e s p a i r.
    Well there's a reason for that.
    And it all started with your mother.


    I mean, she's a single mother, but she doesn't work?
    Where did all of that dough come from?
    The
    sky?

    Oh hon,
    You naive little idiot.


    Where's your daddy?
    What did your mother tell you? Did she say...
    "He's on a
    very very very long business trip?"
    Or did she try to ease the pain by telling you
    "He died in a fire."


    Well I have news for you.

    I' m y o u r d a d d y

    [​IMG]

    Oh, don't be like that. After all it's...How does the saying go?
    Like Father, Like Spawn.
    Yes. At some point in your miserable existence you'll look like this too.
    If you make it that is.


    I have many children, and some of them have made me proud by passing the tests that I gave them and assuming positions as my demonic followers.
    And then some of them have failed me and I was forced to mutilate and consume them to rid the world of their putrid presence.
    I do hope you won't become the latter.


    - - - -
    The Test
    The first one is to kill someone close to you and relinquish the human part of yourself. (Aka your soul! What? You didn't really think you'd be able to become a proud citizen of Hell and still keep your soul did you? Christ.)
    The test doesn't really have any rules except for this one; Do not kill your mother. Satan knocked her up for a reason, so she needs to be kept around.

    The second one is to find and group up with your brothers and sisters. You will then be approached by Satan's most trusted servant, Mistofeles, who will take you to an underground--No not 'hidden', literally under the surface--fighting ring where you will be pitted against each other. The one who defeats all of their siblings will be ranked as Dragon. The one who was unable to beat anyone or who beat the least amount of siblings will be ranked as Worm. The rest of you will not have any fancy rank names. (This part of the test will be decided by rolling dice. Meaning there will be combat but the effectiveness of the attacks will be decided by whatever amount you rolled.)

    The third part-- and for all you Worms, this is your only chance for you to redeem your pitiful self (and if you don't well...Your Dear Daddy will be making an appearance.)-- For the third test you must...Successfully kill an Angel. You're all weaklings so Satan doesn't expect you to snuff a big time angel like Michael or Gabriel, but at the same time killing a simple worker Angel wouldn't be very impressive. So instead you'll kill Heaven's beloved; Cupid. A fitting task, as Cupid is the embodiment of love, while you are the embodiment of hatred. Or you should be.

    The last test is the most difficult. You thought executing Cupid was tough? Try fighting your father. Yes you heard me. You have to fight daddy. Naturally, since he is your father and one of the strongest beings on and out of Earth, killing him is impossible. But injuring him, specifically drawing his blood is...Well...It's possible, but extremely hard. So good luck, you'll need every bit of it.



    Spawn Ranking
    1
    2
    3
    4
    5
    6
    7
    8
    9
    10
    - - - -

    Cora was sitting on her bed, swinging her legs and thinking. She had just met her father in the Teen section of the library. He had appeared as a nearly decrepit old lady with a vicious smile and a hard glint in her eyes. At first Cora had thought the old woman was screwing with her, and she'd kindly told her to drop dead. But then as Cora made to walk away, the woman grabbed her with a fierce grip, spun her around and yanked her up so that she was pressed against her saggy bosom. Cora had shrieked and squirmed against the woman's iron hold and even though her cries of protest were loud, no one came. It was as if the two of them were in a soundproof bubble. The woman had then leaned down and spoken with a smooth male baritone voice that resounded in her soul and shook her to her very core. "You should really learn to respect your elders, dearie." She'd said and the girl had spat in her face. The old woman burst into loud belly shaking laughter and released her so that she fell on her ass. The woman then asked her if she believed her now, and Cora had nodded mutely. The Devil had then told her about her possible destiny and the test.

    Cora left the library soon after the Devil had departed, and she headed straight home.

    Now she sat on her bed, just thinking. On one hand she knew there was nothing left for her at home, which was further proved by the fact that her mother and the Brandon's had just left to see a movie without even asking her if she wanted to come. She wouldn't, because she would be ignored the entire time and her step sister would steal her popcorn and candy even though she had her own and claimed she didn't even like M&M's mixed with heavily buttered popcorn.

    But on the other hand, what if her mother and Charles got divorced? It was highly unlikely because they still acted like newlyweds even though they had gotten married two years ago. But still, what if? She didn't want to leave and then find out that only a few days later her mother had gotten divorce and was alone and missing her!

    But the Devil had informed her that if she didn't take the test he would never appear to her again, so she would never have this chance. And besides...Cora would see her mother again eventually! She had had sex with the Devil after all, so she would probably be going to hell anyway. And if Cora became a Knight, she could ask the Devil to not torture her mother for eternity and then they could be friends again!

    It was a perfect plan! Absolutely one hundred percent perfect! Completely flawless--But what if her mother went to Heaven instead? What if she did something so good that God forgave her for shacking up with the Devil and gave her a VIP ticket to the pearly gates?

    Shit. This was going to be hard.
     
  2. Zack was reading at the desk in his room, as he was wont to do, submersing himself in the twists and turns of a Stephen King novel while a fan blew cool air onto his bare chest. His mother always loved it relatively hot in the house for some reason, and after some complaining Zack had received the fancy fan as a present; it had no blades, just an empty circle, and used a small cooling unit to refrigerate the air as it moved through. The slight scent of the book's old pages and the plate of cheese cubes sitting on his desk perfected the situation. Now was his time to relax, just lose himself in another fantasy world while everyone else toiled pointlessly around him.

    And then there was a knock at the door.

    "Come in," said Zack. He'd long since learned that a visitor would not be dissuaded by a simple dismissal; even if they left initially, they would surely be back. Best to get it out of the way soon. As his mother was the only other person in the house, Zack didn't bother looking up from his book. "What is it, Mother?"

    "Try again, son," said a voice like bitter black coffee.

    Zack looked up, startled. He hated being startled. This man, with his rough, goateed face and his tattered clothes and his frame that nearly reached the top of the doorway, had the advantage on him. Zack smoothed out his expression and demanded that this homeless bum leave his room immediately. And just like that, the stranger swung out his arm and slapped Zack clean across the face. The welt left where the man's hand had been throbbed bright red and stung like fire. Perhaps more than being startled, Zack hated being confused. And no one was allowed to lay a hand on him without his permission.

    "Is that any way to talk to your daddy?" the man asked, dumping the fact unceremoniously into the cool air of the room. For a moment, Zack was truly terrified that a disgusting bum had contributed to his birth, but Satan was quick to officially introduce himself. He went on to describe The Test. He had Zack's full attention after that.

    Long after the Devil left the house, Zack's mind was a whirlwind of thoughts. The road to achieving his dreams was laid bare right in front of him. It would require his extended absence, perhaps even a permanent leave from his mortal plane. He would leave behind his mother's devotion to keeping up their relationship with material gifts. There were a few people at school that he found tolerable. Was he willing to give that all up for a series of grueling tests that could very well lead to his permanent end?

    ...Hell yes.
     
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  3. Zinnia Clark rolled down the street in one of her many vehicles. This SUV, sleek and black, made her look like the rich bitch she wasn’t. But the chrome detail had been too appetizing, and so she’d asked one of the many guys on her ‘list’ to get it for her. Zinnia’s ‘list’ was a list of men she could count on to do pretty much anything she wanted. And if one ever denied her, they were off the list. Permanently. Zinnia gets what Zinnia wants.

    But that doesn’t mean everything always goes according to plan. For example, on this day, while she headed to go get her morning coffee from her favorite place (Starbucks was too mainstream), she had to drive through a residential area. Little did she know she would be ruining her newest prize as a little boy rode his bike out in front of her and she hit him going 45 MPH. Her breath caught, what little color there was in her pale face draining, and black hair flying forwards as she slammed on her brakes.

    “Shit… shit shit shit,” she whispered, tucking her hair behind her ears and looking down at herself. She seemed okay. Maybe a little sore from the seatbelt cutting into her through her long, black sleeve shirt and short jean shorts. She unbuckled it anyway and swung her legs out, knee high black boots thudding onto the pavement where surprisingly, no one had run out. No parents, no neighbors. Zinnia looked around, lips parted until she saw the boy, standing, not a scratch on him. She stared at him and swallowed hard.

    “Are… you ok?” she asked tentatively, dark green eyes confused. The boy smiled slowly and crossed the distance between them. Bewildered, Zinnia tried stepping back from the kid who was a foot or two shorter than her, but his firm grip wrapped around her wrist and shoved her against her car. She struggled as the boy just smiled, making her angrier and angrier. “Let me go, you little prick!” she growled, confused still. The boy chuckled in a voice too deep for even many a grown man, making Zinnia stop struggling and just frown, staring into the boy’s eyes that slowly became a ring of red.

    The boy began spewing the story of Zinnia’s parentage and the test she must pass. Kill someone close to her? But not her mom? Zinnia felt increasingly uncomfortable and frightened, no matter how hard she tried to show defiance. But there was no denying the morbid common sense the devil was making. She had no other explanation for how this child was holding her and knew all about her life. It was disturbing to say the least. But the fact that there were others, other satan spawn she could beat… now that was attractive to Zinnia. A master manipulator who loved winning well… claiming a test to make satan proud was just too tempting.

    “Fine,” Zinnia said, eyes hardened but still obviously in thought at the grip was released, blood flowing back through her veins as a hand shape bruise remained near her wrist. With his permission now to leave, Zinnia climbed back into her damaged car and drove off, creepy smiling child in her review mirror,
     
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  4. That was the last time Chris would ever stay out in the park late. He'd never come home late again, he told himself as he walked stiffly the rest of the way home. Never ever. Oh, he generally liked the cool, slightly dangerous thrill that set into his bones when night fell, and he had always been fond of woods, but what he didn't like was the walk back through that part of the city after it had gotten dark. He should never have taken that alleyway. Why had he done that? No good ever came of dark alleyway shortcuts. He shouldn't have tested his luck. He should have been able to avoid that man who had looked for all the world like a weak, emaciated, drug-addicted teenager. The man who clearly wasn't. The man who had pinned him to the ground and purred about parenthood, destiny, and trials of fire. The man who was naught but a frightening bodily vessel for his infinitely more frightening father.

    He found himself at the front door to his home after some amount of time, but it took a second for him to place his hand on the knob and then a few more to turn it and open it slowly. He was hardly aware of the exact moment when he crossed the threshold. His mind was too busy to pay much more attention to his surroundings than just enough to put him on autopilot.

    "Mom, Chris's back." That was Owen's voice, from the direction of the living room sofa.

    "Ah, he's alive!" That voice belonged to Margaret, coming closer from somewhere deeper in the house. "You worried us, being out so late. Everything okay?"

    He'd only come about a foot into the house. He eased the door closed behind him, but his eyes were on the floor. Some part of his mind was aware that he probably looked shaken, which was true, but it was too weak of a thought for him to take it into account.

    "Chris? Is something wrong?"

    Okay, that inquiry was sharp enough to get his attention. He stiffened into an upright posture and met his foster mother's gaze with a practiced smile. "Oh, nothing. Sorry." He waved a dismissive hand. "Just thinking."

    Margaret came closer and lowered her voice, tucking one of her brown-but-graying flyaways behind her ear. "Well, if you need to talk about anything, I'm happy to--"

    "I'm fine, thank you." He nodded as he said it, still smiling politely. He sidestepped her and made for his room, ignoring the belated call after him to come dish up some dinner for himself whenever he was ready. Technically "his room" was the room he and Owen shared, but it was fairly large for a bedroom and had been divided into two sections with the assistance of a folding screen and a makeshift curtain mounted to the ceiling. After letting himself through the door, not bothering to turn the lights on, he pulled the curtain back and slipped into his division. One perk of having this arrangement was that the door opened on Owen's half of the room, so Chris always had a few second's warning to being checked in on by either parental unit. It wasn't as soundproof as having his own room, but it was a different kind of privacy, and being swathed away in curtains and screens did feel kind of cool and mysterious, if a bit juvenile. He removed his jacket and shoes and left them on the floor before tossing himself onto the bed. He wasn't in the mood to pick up after himself at the moment. He rolled onto his back and stared up at the ceiling, raising his palms to his forehead as he exhaled strongly.

    This meant changes. Changes to everything. It meant giving up his future, a future his instructors never failed to inform him was oh-so-promising. It meant giving up his dignity. It meant saying goodbye to all earthly pleasures: goodbye to the cool nights, goodbye to the park, goodbye to his and Owen's brand new PS4, goodbye to the teachers who sang his praises... Goodbye to that one last flicker of hope of finding his mother someday.

    Or were his chances of finding her even greater now that he was practically being invited down to Hell?
     
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  5. The wind was crisp and salty. Refreshing on any day. Something a bit more refreshing, perhaps, was crouching on the edge of a rooftop seven stories up. One misstep, and it all goes to hell. He'd learned that starting with small targets, and applied it to big ones. Go to Hell... He used to think it was just an expression. "No." He got up from his crouch and started at a brisk job for the other rooftop. "Not anymore." He jumped, his mind lost in the maelstrom of recent events.

    ***

    Luke's situation had been much the same as this one. His morning run downtown, scaling the apartment buildings and hopping rooftops. He had to stay in shape. It kept the pain out of his mind. The painkillers were running out, so he needed something to keep it out of his mind. The wound was little more than a scar now, puckered and ugly against an otherwise pristine chest. He did a flip over the gap between his current rooftop and the target, hitting the ground in a crouch. Luke hopped up and was sprinting almost as soon as he landed. He was skirting the borders of their territory. Hector had people everywhere in the downtown area, watching and waiting. Either for a Crip or a Blood to harass, or more importantly, to kill Lucas Batista. Unless Hector wanted him personally. Then he'd just be followed. Let them try, he had thought to himself. They'd never keep up. He miscalculated his landing and tripped as he hit the next roof, ducking into a roll as he crashed into an air conditioning unit. A burst of fire spread across his chest, nearly making him cry out. The crashes were nothing new, but old wounds hurt most.

    "I'll bet that stings."

    Luke always kept a gun on him. And he could still whip it out like back in the old days, tilted sideways like he didn't care if he could aim. He was nearly tempted to pull the trigger when the grip grew hot in his hand, forcing him to drop it. Checking his palms, Luke found that they looked as if nothing had touched them.

    "As if I'd hurt you, kid. Especially that way. So many other things I could do..." The voice sounded like the hardest iron wrapped in a thin layer of silk. The man (for it was a man's voice) spoke in such a taunting way, thickly coated with poisoned honey, a veiled arrogance Luke instantly hated. But there was something else to it, something genuine. Almost like... Fondness. He was dressed nicely, as if he were some top-notch business exec. The suit was black, the vest beneath it a crimson red. His tie was nothing special, just black striped with gray. His blond hair was slicked back, shining as if it was gelled. His mouth was curled into a cruel, baiting grin, his teeth shining like miniature suns against his porcelain skin. But those eyes. Bottomless pits of shadow, lit by a harsh, golden flame in each. Those eyes seemed to sear away his flesh to the bones, and he felt violated as if they saw him down to his soul. Saw through the falsehood that was his life, and saw through the lies that he lived by.

    The man's laugh was mocking and loving at the same time. "I can see more than that, kiddo." He glided, on what seemed like a cloud of pure shadow, across the rooftop to heft Lucas to his feet with what Luke thought was little more effort than was given to a fly. And when he stood, he could move no more. His body was locked, his hands and legs bound by some invisible force. He was forced to stare into those fiery pits. "I'm sorry, but it seems as though you have a habit of running." The man's smile smoothed out, as if a good memory had come to mind. "I appeared to your mother like this, you know. A long time ago. Well, minus the eyes of course." This seemed to amuse him a great deal. Despite being unable to move, Lucas could still talk.

    "What the fuck are you talking about, hermano? Let me go!" An invisible baseball bat slammed into Luke's injury, and the man's face hardened into a sneer.

    "Careful what you say to me, kiddo." He drew out that last word, which hit harder than the strike did, if that were possible. Seeming to notice Luke's expression, the man chuckled to himself. "And remember that I can do a lot worse than that. Now listen, and listen good. I'm your goddamned daddy." And he'd meant that. He'd meant that oh so literally. "And today, you get a birthday present."
    ***
    He was gliding through the air now, his hands outstretched. Luke caught hold of the flagpole and vaulted down to a windowsill. There had been no hugs, and certainly no wrapped up gifts. Instead, he got a brief lecture on respect, and an even longer one on the truth. The truth. Is that what it is? His father was El Diablo himself. Mama had never been sober enough to tell any solid stories about daddy dearest, besides half-high mutters of "So bright...", and "My beautiful Morningstar..." Tía and Tío had their own opinions on mom's "Morningstar". They called him a gigolo, a man-whore, and a cheating bastard. They spat at the very mention of that name, as though he had dishonored the family by even existing. As if that puta he had to call aunt had a right to call other people whores.

    Luke backflipped off the sill, sliding down the wall behind him. Then the man - Dad, he supposed - had gone on to explain his arrival. That it was time for Luke to take his place in Hell as a true demon. But that there were certain tasks that needed completion. One where he'd fight his siblings, and one where he needed to kill love itself. Never thought Cupid was a legit angel.

    He jumped down from the wall and onto a dumpster, and then off that onto the pavement. The last trial was a surprise, something at which dad had broken down into laughing. But that wasn't what was getting to Luke, if something that made the Devil laugh couldn't make someone shiver. It was the first trial that ate at him the most. Luke flashed back to that terrible conversation, and the last words that dad had said to him. "Something has to die inside, first. And someone has to die to make that happen. Can't have that charred heart of yours suddenly softening up, can we?" Lucas hadn't needed clarification for that one.

    Someone I love has to die. But not mama. Daddy dearest had made that clear. It's what had brought him here. Luke didn't know where she was, but he knew who could find her. Someone he hadn't visited in a long time. He didn't have to like it. Luke knew for sure he didn't. All that mattered was that he helped.

    Luke stopped at the entrance to the alley. It was trash-ridden, clearly ignored by almost everyone. But there was one thing that stood out. He traced the crown emblazoned on the gray wall, and tapped it in the center as he walked away. He tried to get the thought of a tagger jumping him out of his mind as he walked across the street to the shifty-looking auto-repair shop.
     
    #5 The Philosoraptor, Feb 10, 2015
    Last edited: Feb 10, 2015
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  6. When her mother and the Brandon's--Cora refused to refer to them as family-came home, Cora stayed in her room for a few minutes before coming down. Missy was coming up the steps as she was coming down and as they passed, Missy bucked at her and Cora recoiled, shooting the girl a nasty look. Of course neither adult saw what the other girl had done, so nothing was said. Cora learned a long time ago to keep her mouth shut because in her mother and Charles' eyes, Missy was a fucking angel.

    "How was the movie?" Cora asked sourly and her mother froze where she was standing in front of the door. Charles had no reaction of course because he was a prick and it was probably his idea to leave without asking her if she wanted to come.

    "Oh, honey, well it was a sappy romance, you wouldn't have wanted to see it anyway." Her mother stammered and Cora narrowed her eyes. "It still would have been fun to come with you guys though." She argued, but this time Charles decided to speak.

    "Why waste money on a ticket for a movie you wouldn't even appreciate?" He asked, a small smile on his face as if he was attempting to life the heavy mood by pretending to be 'easy going'.

    "I still would have like to come!" Cora snapped and her mother sighed in exasperation. Cora immediately felt her blood boiling with rage. She hated when her mother made her feel like her feelings were invalid and childish. She was always doing that and stupid Charles just smirked behind her. Cora wished that she was close to him, so she could stab him in the face and pass the first test.

    "Cora, just...Don't alright?" Her mother sighed and walked past her into the living room. Charles followed, giving Cora a 'well what can ya do?' shrug before disappearing into the other room. When she realized that her mother wasn't going to come back and apologize or at least talk about something else, Cora let out an angry huff and stomped to the kitchen were she made herself a snack and then returned to her room to think.

    She was going to take the test. But first she needed somebody to close to her. She wished she could have killed one of the Brandon's, but that probably wouldn't count because she hated them. But who else could she choose? She had friends...But...She didn't want to kill them! Then again, it's not as though she would ever see them again after she passed the tests and became a knight! But still...


    The Next Day - Monday

    Cora took the bus to school, so she could have more time to think. She usually got a ride from her mom, but she didn't want to be around her at the moment. Plus, Missy would be in the car too and lately she had been sucking up to Cora's mother and pretending to be the world's best step daughter. Every sickeningly sweet word that came out of her mouth made Cora want to projectile vomit all over her mother and that bitch Missy.

    When she arrived at school, she was immediately tackled by one of her friends, Amelia. Amelia was an unfortunate looking girl with too big a nose, a lazy eye and bucky teeth. Her hair was limp and greasy looking like a fast food place napkin, and Cora really didn't want to kill her. Her life was unfortunate enough. Plus Amelia lived with her mother and they only had each other. Cora knew what that was like, and she didn't want to separate them. Plus, Amelia had been her friend since they were in kindergarten. She really couldn't imagine herself taking her best friend's life.

    So she returned Amelia's aggressive hug and continued on to class with her.

    At lunch time, Amelia and Cora sat with their other friend Gareth, who just so happened to be Cora's crush since fifth grade. She'd been pining after him for so long, but he just didn't seem to be interested in her. He was more interested in girl's like Ashley Marks, one of the only freshman who had massive breasts as well as an equally large ass. Cora was extremely jealous, but not jealous enough to commit a crime of passion and murder Gareth. She wasn't that petty.
     
  7. WIP
     
    #7 Drallinix, Feb 10, 2015
    Last edited: Feb 10, 2015
  8. Daniel? No.
    Macy? No.
    Jack? No.
    Zinnia had spent all night going through people in her mind she knew. With each name she would think about whether or not she would feel anything if they died. Unfortunately, she hadn’t grown close to many people. But deep down she knew there was a name she was avoiding. Because she couldn’t rightly give a ‘no’ or ‘yes’ as to whether or not she cared. She swallowed hard while laying in her large black bed, head resting on pure white pillows while she stared up at the cold, unforgiving ceiling.
    Ryan?
    She let out a slow exhale through pursed lips when she allowed herself to think about him. A distorted, uncomfortable look arising on her visage. Green eyes flashed with memories of their tumult relationship from a year ago.
    Ryan had been her first… well, pretty much everything. She’d only been interested in him to begin with because he was good looking, but when she tried getting him into bed he’d hesitated to do so. She hadn’t understood until he explained that he didn’t want her to regret being with him, something else she hadn’t fully appreciated at the time. Considering when he rebuffed her attempts she had tried slapping him, and when that didn’t work, let a foot connect with his shin. She’d asked a few months later why he even liked her, considering what kind of person she was. But he’d just smiled and said she was deep and different, passionate and full of something no one else he’d ever met had.
    “Well, guess he changed his damn mind,” Zinnia spat, hating thinking about these things and crawling out of bed. The teen grabbed a striped navy and white tank from her closet, along with some grey skinny jeans and slipped the clothing onto her delicate frame before slamming her door behind her.
    Zinnia headed downstairs to find her mother in the kitchen, wearing a man’s button up shirt and blonde hair sticking up randomly. A cigarette hung from her lips, pink slippers on her feet, and a pan frying eggs on her hand. The old hag still could get laid despite her red eyes that bespoke of many drunken nights and parties long since ended, and Zinnia could only portray disgust whenever she saw the woman no matter how much she wished she could help her in some way.
    “School,” Zinnia said flatly to her mother who, upon hearing her daughter, seemed to just notice she was there.
    “No shit?” the woman muttered, removing the cigarette from her mouth and frowning. “Aren’t you old enough to get outta that and get a job?” she growled under her breath, shower turning on in another room where uncle… whoever must be cleaning up.
    “Yeah, no thanks,” Zinnia sighed, rolling her eyes and placing a wad of cash from her bag on the counter. “Sold one of the cars.”
    “Which?” was all the woman said, frowning
    “None of yours, now leave me alone!” Zinnia yelled spitefully, anger fresh on her face before she slipped into some shoes and ran away from the familiar scene. She raced to the SUV she’d damaged yesterday and sat in it with her forehead on the steering wheel, taking deep breaths. She had to calm down or she’d just ram every car between her house and the high school. Between thoughts of her ex and meeting her… dad… she was not going to be in a good mood today. Especially if it was going to have to be filled with murder plans.
     
  9. It was like any Monday, save for one difference: every time Chris interacted with someone, he secretly thought long and hard about whether he felt any attachment to that person. Dear Daddy Devil had informed him last night that his first trial would be the murder of someone he held dear. He imagined he might have felt much more squeamish about this first trial were he an average human being, but there was one problem that replaced that potential discomfort with plain old confusion: Chris didn't feel particularly attached to anyone. Just because he had smiles for most people didn't mean he felt anything for them, at least closer than professionally. Mrs. Ramsey, homeroom-slash-English? Nah. Mr. Lanford, world history? Nope. Mr. Jewett, pre-calc and his self-appointed college counselor? Not really. Any students from either of the two lunch crews he circled between? There was a tall, quiet guy in one of them who shared his first name and the aforementioned history class, and he supposed that made him notice him more than anyone else, but no, he could not honestly say that he would miss Other Chris in any capacity. Not that he had time for his usual "friends" today anyway—Chess Club met on Mondays in Room 14.

    He played Zach today. The slightly older boy had a distinctive look: a flannel shirt, a dark brown bowl cut, and a bright, boyish face that belied the acute brain behind it. One wouldn't have known he was Chris' intellectual rival, not with the way he made a questioning, casual face each time he moved a piece that looked more like he wasn't sure if he could make the move than like he was doing any scheming. Oh, but Chris knew he was scheming. Zach was a worthy opponent if ever he'd met one.

    Does that mean I'm close to him?

    He wasn't sure. Zach had a natural charm about him that had always made Chris feel envious, threatened. And yet the boy provided a breed of mental stimulation that Chris just couldn't get enough of, no matter how frustrating it got. There was a reason Zach was the sole member of Chris' Battle.net friends list: the one-on-one matches the two of them engaged in at least four times a week were naught but another drug to sustain Chris until the next Monday they had another chance at each other in Room 14.

    "You're...sure you want to do that?"

    Chris blinked and returned to the world. The sparse, endgame chessboard in front of him came back into focus. "Uh, yeah," he fumbled. "Yeah, sure." A smile was back on his face quickly.

    Zach's fingers were on one of his pieces, a white rook. After a moment of hesitation, he picked up and slid the rook hesitantly along a rank, his eyes on Chris the whole time in a skeptical 'You're really letting me do this?' kind of look. He nudged Chris' last remaining black rook from its place, set the white rook there, and removed the captured piece from the board. "Your move."

    Chris stared blankly at the board, trying to comprehend what had just happened. He'd just lost a rook to a fellow rook. That in itself was sad enough; not even having a trade ready to soften the blow was a special level of pathetic. He could feel his self-confidence crumbling as he took in the state of the board. Chris had but a pawn and a bishop left to protect his king. Zach had a pawn, a knight, and both rooks. Both rooks. It was only a matter of a move or two before Chris was as good as dead. No, he was as good as dead now. "You got me," he grumbled, flicking his king over with much more force than necessary. "GG, man." He pushed himself out of his chair and began to don his jacket. His movements were sharp.

    "Whoa, hey!" Zach rose as well, hands out in a placating gesture. "Chris. You feeling all right?"

    Chris stopped his motions, met Zach's gaze, and forced a smile that didn't reach his eyes. "Sorry, I'm just...distracted. I owe you a better game than I gave you today."

    "Hey, don't get like that." Zach caught Chris by the arm before the shorter boy had a chance to resume packing up. He stepped closer and lowered his voice to a murmur. "Look, if something's bothering you, and you need to talk about it to someone...I'll be online tonight, alright? I'd do it for any guy here."

    Chris looked around. The club wasn't very large, and at least half of the other members seemed to be sneaking the two of them glances, presumably because they were the most audible features of the room. Chris picked up his backpack and tilted his head in the direction of the door. Zach took the hint and followed him out into the hallway. It was vacant, what with lunch going on. Good. Chris didn't want to be heard getting sentimental.

    He turned to Zach and looked him in the eye, though it took him a moment to speak. "I know this is gonna sound weird. I just..." He paused, chewed his lower lip for a moment, and then continued. "Look, I realized something, just now. I think you're the closest thing I've ever had to a friend. Really." His face was soft and honest. Those words were true, he realized as he spoke them. They burned true in his chest. And that made this all the harder on his psyche. He knew what he was about to do.

    Zach looked surprised. He glanced away for a moment...and was that a dust of pink across his face? Maybe it was just Chris' imagination. "Really?" the boy asked. "I...huh. I thought you'd be the type to have lots of friends." He looked back at Chris. "I guess I'm flattered."

    A smile flickered across Chris' face, but it was short-lived. "Heh. Really, though. I feel like I should know you better than I do. That's my own fault, I know." He scratched the back of his head idly. "Are you, uh, doing anything important tonight? Maybe we should hang out. Owen and I just—I mean, my brother and I just got our hands on Far Cry 4." He tried to grin playfully.

    Zach's face lit up. "You have a PS4?"

    Chris' smile turned to an honestly amused smirk. "You know it."

    "And your parents are cool with me coming over on such short notice?"

    "Pff, Margaret always makes food for twenty. I swear she grew up in the South."

    Zach hesitated. "If you say so..."

    "Totally, it's fine. It's a date, then?"

    That one made Zach laugh. He reined in the burst of mirth after a second, but it was obvious when he folded an arm across his chest and put his other hand to his forehead that he was trying to hold in giggles. "A date. A date...you gotta be kidding me."

    Chris chuckled along. He hadn't thought the comment all that funny, but he'd roll with it. "Is that a yes?"

    "Yeah. Your address is in the student handbook?"

    "Yup."

    "I'll be there."

    "Awesome. Stay cool, man." After leaving his new friend with a wave, Chris peeled away and headed down the hall, a strangely satisfied smile on his face. A wicked voice in his mind was already cackling with glee. I've done it! This is perfect! It'll be all too easy. Off the streets, at night, my house. Silent as death. No one'll know until morning. Chris, you little devil!

    It wasn't until he rounded the corner and was long out of Zach's sight that he slowed, turned to the nearest wall, and crumpled there as guilt caught up with him. He slammed his forehead into the wall and clamped his hands around his head, clenching his hair in his fingers as tight as he could pull.
     
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  10. “It finally makes sense. It all makes sense.”
    -----

    The light was just beginning to dim as Lilith headed home from the park. With eyes on the ground, she walked in silence. She was in a generally good mood, despite the threat of tomorrow’s school day hanging over her head. She’d spent the day observing the families at the playground; They were interesting to watch, these people. They said and did some of the strangest things. She’d taken a bit of money out of her uncle’s wallet last time they’d spent the day together, and had used it to buy herself a bag of honey-roasted almonds, which she was now chewing on. Yes, the day had been mostly uneventful so far. Things were to change quickly, however.

    “Hello, girly.”
    Lilith scowled slightly, assuming it was just the voice of one of the many neighborhood bums. Though she found them annoying, she knew that, for the most part, they were harmless. There had only been one she had ever found a bit creepy, as she couldn't help but feel he paid just a bit too much attention for a grown man to pay a little girl. The problem had been resolved, however, as he had began to avoid her after she ‘accidentally’ allowed him to catch her taking apart a stray cat. With a slight shake of her head, she continued on, ignoring the man. As obnoxious as being called ‘girly’ by a stranger was, she didn’t have the time nor the patience for this. She picked up her pace slightly, only to be abruptly jerked backwards by a strong grip on her arm.


    “What the hell?!” She exclaimed, spinning around towards the bum so quickly that it caused her to drop her bag of almonds. “Now look what you made me do, you motherfucker!” His grip hurt, and as hard as she pulled she couldn’t get away. Though she wasn’t one who usually found herself frightened, she could feel her heartbeat quickening as the scraggly looking man leaned in towards her. “Oh, you don’t know how true that is.” He said with a smirk, his voice low and almost inhuman in nature.
    It was then, after some more struggling, that the man slammed her against a nearby wall and began to explain. He told her everything, about him, about her mother, about the tests. She protested a few times during the story, but was always quickly silenced when he would once again slam her back against the wall. When the man finally released her, she turned, and walked in the opposite direction of her house. She wasn’t planning on going home tonight; She couldn’t face her mother just yet, not after something like this.



     
  11. It was the next day, after a night of horrible dreams, of blood and screams and the ripping of flesh. Zack had woken up in the middle of the night, drenched in cold sweat, and he was too busy thinking to fall back asleep. As a result his eyes looked even more sunken than usual, and his hair clung to the back of his neck in greasy locks. He was walking to school as he always did, a thin white shirt and baggy jeans draped carelessly over his frame and a light bookbag slung over his shoulders. It had been ages since he felt this exhausted, not since he had to recover from jet lag after his longest cross-continental flight. He knew that his thoughts weren't running as fast as they could, and it troubled him. He needed to decide on a target for the first test.

    For Zack, the question wasn't of who he felt attached to; it was who was the most useful. He wasn't really attached to anybody. To those who decided they weren't scared of him, he only maintained a superficial relationship, so that he might use them for favors later on. Even his bond with Alexia, his own mother, had nearly shattered after the news that she had sex with Beelzebub himself. Ludicrous. Who would ever attempt something so dangerous?

    As he walked, Zack went through his mental catalog of associates, pinpointing how he felt about them. Vurto, the sullen goth punk with the overinflated ego? He was already suicidal; Zack would feel as though he were doing the young man a favor. Carl, the technology wizard and one of the few who could impress Zack with his leadership skills? Perhaps, but his family would ask too many questions. Sarah, hotheaded feminist atheist punk? She was perceptive, impressively so, but would be entirely too loud. Kelkov, the--

    "Hey, Ice-T, wait up!"

    Zack cringed inwardly, and then turned around to give Kelkov his version of a smile, the slightest upturning of the corner of his mouth. His friend was running up to him, dressed impeccably as always with his tailored suit jacket and his lightly quaffed brown hair. He and Zack shared many traits, including a lust for travel, an interest in hellish creatures, and an uncanny talent for manipulating others. There were two main differences: whereas Zack was quiet and terse, Kelkov was suave and adventurous, the love of every party. And while Zack manipulated others for personal gain, Kelkov did so because he thought it was fun, that everyone was a challenge waiting to be solved. Using annoying nicknames was one of his many go-to tactics for getting under people's skin. He was the only one allowed to do so to Zack without finding a nasty surprise in their lunch the next day.

    "You're getting more creative," Zack pointed out, a tinge of sarcasm tinting his voice.

    "Aw, you flatter me!" Kelkov laughed. He was a year older than Zack and a grade ahead, sitting comfortably in the senior slot with his college plans already laid out, so this walk was usually the only chance they got to talk to each other on a daily basis. "So who's on your hit list today? I hear that Richard kid got shot down trying to ask his crush Greg out. I dunno about you but I'm dying to take advantage of that."

    Zack snorted at Kelkov's choice of words. If there was anything that could make Zack believe in fate, perhaps that was it. "I have plans," he assured. "Big ones."
     
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  12. The bus was cramped, as all public transport typically was. An old woman sat on either side of him, one drooling on his shoulder, the other fussing with her tacky brown purse. If it weren't for his destination and what lay with it, nothing would have stopped him from acting out his violent fantasies on these two. Choke that one out with her purse. Make her choke on her own teeth. Where to shove that hair straightener? As if the old bitch has any hair left to straighten... He shook his head, trying to dispel the thoughts. Not here. Maybe in a back alley, somewhere I can dump the bodies. But not here. Desperate to think of anything else, Lucas lost himself in remembering the day before. He'd learned all he needed to know, and maybe a little extra. But it had been good to talk with Fern again...

    ******
    It was Kings run. That was clear the second Luke had walked in. Scrap heaped up in a corner, cigarette smoke layered heavily in the air, and most of the hardware secondhand at best, stolen at worst. It was a wonder the pigs hadn't taken it down yet. Luke knew the Miami Kings well enough to be able to guess that each car being fixed up here probably had about a pound of cocaine stashed under the dashboard. Each guy in the room, regardless of what they were doing, sported a king and crown tattoo on their right shoulder. Probably Primitives, working the business like this. His eyes passed over the man he was looking for twice before Luke finally recognized his face. Hidden by a beard, growing thick, and the eyes far more tired-looking than they used to, but it was Fern's face. And it looked completely terrified. A few others had stopped working to surround Luke. He didn't want trouble, but he got into a stance to make it clear he would if necessary. It was about a minute of tense silence, and one guy looked ready to advance with a tire iron, before Fern shouted "Back off! He's chill." The others seemed a little surprised, and stood still for another few seconds. Fern's eyes hardened, strong enough to shatter stones. "Did I mumble? GET BACK TO WORK!" That was new. Fern had always been the quiet one. But it worked, all of the Primitives stumbling over each other to get back to what they were doing. A little too arrogantly, Luke swaggered forward, his hands up in a sign of peace.

    "Nice to see you too, hermano. Got a crew of your own, now?" That had always been Fern's dream. Start an auto shop, work with cars all day long, go clubbing all night, wake up with a girl on each arm the next morning. Rinse and repeat. Not Luke's lifestyle, though. It elicited a smile from Fern.

    "I'm pretty sure you know whose crew this is." He scratched his beard, Fern's eyes a little more apprehensive. "Speaking of. What the hell are you doing here, Luke?"

    "What? I can't visit old friends now?"

    "Considering the circumstances? No. And knowing you? There's always some other reason you want to 'visit'." Sighing, Fern stretched his arm towards his office. "While you're here. Want a drink?"
    ***
    The "office" was small, and somewhat cramped. Probably a converted closet, the walls torn down and reconstructed to widen it. The chairs were old vinyl, but were comfortable enough. The air conditioning wasn't as strong, and the heavy cloud of smoke made it all the warmer. Coughing a bit, Luke said "I thought you hated cigs!"

    Fern grinned, one of those childish smiles Luke figured were too rare these days. "Hector has a few good sources. And a few good sources can get as many good Cubans. Your people make some wonderful products. Too good to resist." Luke gave a mock bow at the remark, ignoring the mentioning of his name.

    "I wasn't a G just because I was born that way, you know. Runs in the blood." Fern chuckled, a deep throaty laugh.

    "You were good. We suffered a bit after you... Left." Avoiding the subject. Wise. Fern settled into his chair, the only one that had arms. He pulled out and lit a thick cigar, no doubt some of the product he'd mentioned before. Speaking in between puffs, he said "So. What brings you here? What's so worth it that you would brave the wrath of an angry Mexican? Can't just be a friendly visit, otherwise you would have done it before in the past, oh, two years. What's on your mind that you come to me?"

    Luke plopped down into a chair nestled in the corner of the room and kicked his legs up on the inactive radiator. As if anyone would ever need one in Florida. How to do this? Direct? Skirt around it? No. He wouldn't appreciate that. Cocking his head to the side to make eye contact with Fern, Luke opened his mouth, but was cut off. "No, no. Let me guess. You came back for Hector, didn't you? Came back to stir up trouble that has already settled?" His voice was rising now, no longer friendly. "The watch has already started slacking, man! You would have been choking on lead if you'd come in a year ago! Hector. Has. Forgotten you. Time to move on, Batista!" Luke put his legs down, his eyes empty of emotion.

    He started slowly. "Do you know what it's like? The pain, I mean. One knife feels like ten. A bullet couldn't compare. I thought about ending it once. But now, I've got another chance. Another chance to make things right. And to get my payback. I've got a chance to make him feel this..." He tore open his jacket, revealing the old wound. It seemed darker than usual, the once-pale scar now darkening. He didn't notice, but Fern grimaced. "A chance to make Hector Lopez feel this a thousand times over. I've got a new purpose." Luke got up and paced in front of Fern's desk. "I don't want to involve you any more than I need to. I know what has to be done, for my... Employer, and for me. All I need from you is information." He stopped and slammed his hands on Fern's desk. "Where's Jasmin?"

    This brought out a mocking laugh, though it was completely real. "That's good! That's really good, Luke! First me, now you want her! I won't do it! She's happy! Has a better life than either of us with Hector! Damn, she's even got a kid, I think. If you don't know where she is, don't expect me to tell you where you can ruin her!"

    "THIS ISN'T ABOUT HER!" Luke shouted back.

    "No, Luke! This is about you! You can't let it go, can't live the life you're lucky to have! And you'll drag us all down to satisfy your thirst for Hector's blood."

    He snapped. Time seemed to bend around him, and when it popped back, Luke's fist had gone through the wall. It was some weak brick, but brick all the same. His fingers were broken and dislocated. Blood poured down the open cuts. But he felt nothing. Fern was staring in shock. Luke gathered himself again, determined not to let his composition slip again. "You're weak, Fern. You always were. Not in a bad way, if that can be said about weakness. Just too nice. I let it go because we were friends. But just because you aren't strong enough to do what needs doing, that doesn't mean you get to stop me." He found a box of tissues and started wrapping them around his fingers, the blood seeping through them as soon as they touched a wound. It was makeshift, but it would do. "We were friends once. I thought you would help. But if you won't, I'll just find someone who will. And more people's lives are ruined because of it. Only one person had to die before." He started for the door, and had gotten halfway out when Fern called out to him.

    "825, Hellion Circle. Old Town." Luke saw that Fern's head was in his hands. "It's an apartment building called Le Casa. Room 312. She moved there after she started going out with Hector. Her mom didn't like him coming around." Luke nodded and turned when Fern called him again. "Luke? Hermano? Only one person has to die, right?" Luke stared at him for a moment before answering.

    "Only one person has to die, Fern. Only one." He left without any incident, but he thought he heard sobs from the office.
    ******
    He was glad that Fern hadn't dug deeper into his statement. Only one person had to die. But more would if necessary. Luke didn't wish more emotional pain on Fern's part. The bus stopped at Hellion Circle. Luke had spent the night at a motel, unwilling to venture too far from his target, and had printed the map to the apartment complex off of Google Maps. He had gotten on the bus the very next morning. The old ladies were startled when he got up, but he didn't care. Everything was building up to this. Luke stepped off, and moved up to the apartment complex.
     
  13. Zinnia had gotten through most of her classes before arriving at Biology, where she sat in front of her ex. She had spent all day thinking about him, which she hadn’t done in ages. She usually had her days too full of doing what she wanted to think about things like that. After Ryan had broken up with her, she had been angry and tried to get him back because well, who was he to tell her no? And then she was cold, depressed. Slowly she had become apathetic like she was to most things. She could look at him and feel no anger or depression. And yet… she had never cared for anyone else more in her life. Probably including her mother to some extent since she hadn’t shared with her like she had Ryan.

    Zinnia found herself chewing her bottom lip raw, thinking about how she could possibly even get Ryan alone to kill him… if she even had to. She did have to didn’t she? Yes of course she did. Could you imagine what Satan, father, Hell ruler, would do if she ‘disappointed’ him? She sighed heavily and turned around, the class still buzzing with pre-bell chatter.

    “Ryan?” Zinnia said, in a tone that came out deeper and flater than she intended. The boy with sandy hair and heavy eyebrows looked up, surprised dark brown eyes meeting those of the girl that looked his complete opposite, and probably was in every way. He just stared at her for a moment before licking his teeth, glancing down, and then glancing back up.

    “Yeah?” he asked, as if expecting her to say something he wouldn’t like. Zinnia took a deep breath.

    “I was wondering… are you doing anything tonight? Because I’ve been wanting to eat at that new place on Elm but… well. No one to go with. Didn’t want to eat out alone,” she said, glancing down and to the side before meeting his eyes again, not smiling, not frowning. The tan, fit teen hesitated when listening to Zinnia before frowning.

    “Everything ok?” he asked, a mild concern on his face, and it was obvious this was not something Zinnia normally, well, did.

    “Of course,” Zinnia said, gritting her teeth behind closed lips, wanting to say something smart and sarcastic. But her vacant expression and no-strings-attached offer seemed to intrigue the other, who paused again before slowly nodding.

    “Ok, Z. Just as friends though. I can be there at 6,” he offered, still seeming a bit surprised and awaiting for her to say more. Zinnia swallowed hard, trying to pretend to be nice (yes, this is her version of nice) in order to just lure him closer towards her.

    “Yes, perfect,” she said, flashing a brief, forced smile before turning around swiftly, slamming her notebook on the desk to vent her frustration. A few in the class looked at her and she stopped, looking up with wider eyes. “Oops.” She said flatly, obviously not caring before pulling out her biology book as well.
     
  14. School was torture. The subject matter wasn't hard or anything, well except for English because really, why were they wondering about what some dead poet meant? Who cares? He was dead. But anyway, that wasn't why the day was horrific for Cora. It was mainly because she couldn't decide on who to kill. She was only really close to two people, Gareth and Amelia, and she really didn't want to have to kill one of them! Even if she would never see them again, she didn't want their death to linger on her conscience forever. So she needed to get someone else...Someone she wouldn't care about killing and someone that she was around enough to get close to, befriend and then kill. But who did she hate that much? Or at least, not give two shits about?

    She spent the majority of her classes, making lists of all the people she was kind of on friendly terms with that she could befriend easily, and she also made a list of people that she hated and wouldn't mind snuffing.

    She ended up with three names on each list. A girl named Harley Greene, she was in Cora's gym class and they sometimes partnered up. A boy named Ryan Baker who lived next door to Cora, but they had never spoken. The most interaction that had gone on between them was the subtle little 'oh I recognize you from my daily life' nod. But that was it. And finally the last person on the first list, Natalia Bay, she sometimes stared at Cora when she thought the other girl wasn't paying attention. Cora wasn't really sure about her, since they'd never spoken and Natalia usually just stared at her without speaking. It was kind of creepy, but not creepy enough for Cora to want to murder her. But then again...It was kind of annoying too. But even if she didn't kill her, and killed someone else, Cora wouldn't have to deal with Natalia's creepy looks ever again.

    On the second list she had the people that she despised but could probably cozy up to if she tried hard enough. Missy, Charles, and Ashley Marks. Obviously the easiest person to target was Missy. Cora saw her literally 24/7 and if she pretended to be a cold hearted, home wrecker like Missy, she could probably at least become frenemies with her. But then again, befriending Ashley would be easier. They were in most of the same classes and it's not like Ashley was unapproachable...

    "What's that list for?" Cora nearly jumped out of her skin but was relieved to see that it was just Amelia. Although how was she supposed to explain this? "Uh..." Cora began, totally blanking. "It's a list of...All the cute people at school. In my opinion." Ah well, she was going to be leaving anyway, so if Amelia thought she was gay now then it didn't really matter.

    Amelia glanced at the names then back at Cora and smiled. "Oh, I didn't realize you were bi, Cora. Well, I just want to let you know that it's a-okay with me!" She said cheerfully, and Cora smiled back.

    Oh Amelia was just so nice, it was almost kind of sickening, because every once in a while, Cora felt herself getting nauseous, because she was literally the child of the devil and Amelia was nearly a fucking angel. It was amazing that they were even friends.
     
  15. Jeff and Margaret both seemed to be under the impression that this was a momentous occasion. Chris' first friend, by the name of Zachary Keen! A nice-looking boy with a good, strong name. Oh, he goes by Zach? It's a pleasure to have you, Zach. We hope you enjoy dinner. Oh, of course you can spend the night! What kind of hosts would we be if we made you go home in the dark? Make yourself at home.

    The fact that Zachary Keen would not be long for this world was something that Chris kept under tight wraps inside him. It chewed at his insides all through dinner, ruining his appetite. He brushed it off when Margaret inquired about his facial expression, of course, and after dinner, several rounds of CoD: Advanced Warfare soon proved a welcome distraction. Even Owen joined in the fun in his own way, his eyes glued to the screen as the older boys played. A muttered "I still can't get over how pretty it is..." left his lips at one point.

    Normal friends having a sleepover would likely have stayed up much later into the night than Chris felt like doing. Try as he might to remain distracted, he began feeling sick to his stomach after a couple of hours, at which time he excused himself to prepare for bed. He left the living room and made for the bedroom. It didn't take more than a few seconds to collect his pajamas, but he took a long time to change. He would take one step, only to become lost in thought for a minute before remembering he was only partway changed. Then another step. Then eventually another. It took a good ten minutes before he pulled the curtain aside and opened the door, aiming for the bathroom so he could brush his teeth.

    "Ah!"

    He'd nearly walked face-first into Owen. The sandy-haired middle schooler stumbled back in surprise as well; clearly neither boy had expected the other to be right there on the other side of the door. "Sorry," Owen muttered.

    "It's fine. What's up?" He kept his voice down as well.

    "Just...wondering if you're okay."

    Chris' gut churned anew. "I'm fine."

    "Really?" Owen raised a brow. "You've been looking off all night. Is it something to do with Zach?"

    He felt something break inside him. His smile faltered, revealing the grimace he'd been wrestling to keep hidden. "Why do you care?"

    "Because!" Owen was struggling now to keep his voice to a whisper. "Because you're my brother. I care, okay? Jeez."

    "I'm not your brother."

    "Shut up. You're the closest I've ever had to one." Owen folded his arms across his chest and broke eye contact. The sudden gesture made him look shy, of all things. "I feel like...I never did express that well. You're cool, okay?" He looked back to Chris' face. "I appreciate you. Like, as a brother. It's nice."

    The hall was silent for a moment. Then a bothersome burning sensation made itself known in Chris' chest and behind his eyes, weak at first, but quickly and steadily growing stronger. He swung his face away and pressed his forehead to the wall. He didn't even care to hide his discomfort anymore.

    "Chris?"

    "Owen." His throat felt tight, changing the timbre of his speech. "Are we...close?"

    A pause. "I, uh. I think so?"

    Great. Just great. Now he had discovered there were two people that fit the Devil's criteria. The person he had to kill was the person he would hate to kill the most. It was the ultimate test of will. The most extreme sacrifice. And now Chris didn't know which of them was right! What if he muscled up the will to kill one of the two of them, but it was the wrong one? He would have destroyed himself for nothing!

    I'll have to kill both of them.

    He...he would have to kill both of them. His features twisted in determination and pain at the same time. He had to guarantee the success of this trial. The rewards were all he'd ever dreamed of. A fresh start. A license to maim. Freedom from guilt. And power, power beyond mortal comprehension. No, he couldn't back down now. He couldn't chicken out. He'd spent too much time thinking about it. He would never be able to look at either of these boys with a straight face again. He had to go through with it!

    He forced himself to pull away from the wall and shove past Owen. He still needed to brush his teeth.
     
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  16. Zack spent school in a fog. Try as he might, he couldn't focus on class. The teachers' voices just turned to static in his ears. He didn't know many people enough to even entertain the thought that he might be "close" to them. There had to be someone other than Kelkov, anyone. Names kept flitting in and out of his head, proposed and immediately discarded. Kraig, Kelkov's favorite drug dealer. Ellie, the first and only girl Zack had ever slept with. Frank and Robert, the two class gossips. No, no, no. None of them were important enough, or they knew too many people, or their family was too nosy. He refused to admit, even to himself, that he would actually care if Kelkov was gone, but the simple truth was that the thought of killing him made Zack sick to his stomach, regardless of the reason.

    "Kori?" said Ms. Gordman, the math teacher. "Do you know the answer?"

    She gestured at the board, which was covered in steps leading through some unfamiliar equation. Zack looked them over as fast as he could, flailing to come up with an answer under Ms. Gordman's critical stare. "Seventeen," he finally announced.

    "No, with a problem like this the answer should be much higher." The teacher's response made a few of the other students think it was okay to chitter amongst themselves; Zack Kori, getting an answer wrong? Thankfully an icy stare into the eyes of every jokester shut them up quickly enough.

    That incident shook Zack enough for him to think more clearly. Satan needed him to kill someone close to him, and it seemed Kelkov would be his best bet. Zack knew that the purpose of the test was to throw away his soul, but up until then, he thought he had no soul to throw away. Maybe there was something else in his heart, something that was making him sick whenever he thought of murdering the young man who he could, to some extent, call a friend. It would have to do.

    -snap-

    The pencil that had been in Zack's hands snapped in half. He'd been bending it without realizing. Once again, all eyes were on him. Could he really go through with this...?
     
  17. - Monday -

    Lillith took her time getting home the next day. She was hoping she'd take long enough that her aunt and mother would have already left for the day. After all, she had broken one of the many golden rules her mother yelled at her before she left the house: "Be back before dark!"
    It seemed promising, at first, as the household car wasn't parked in front of the small two-story house they called home. Her confidence that she had got away with it was shattered the moment she stepped into the door, however.

    "Lillith Oke!" The voice snapped.
    "...Yes?" She asked, turning to see her aunt Jordan, who - with arms crossed and eyes narrowed - was standing in the kitchen staring at her.
    "Where were you all night? I was worried!"
    "Off learning." Lillith repeated calmly, as she headed into her room and began to gather up her books.
    "Learning? What the hell were you learning in the middle of the night?"
    "Funny you mention it. It actually was hell." She replied. "I was just delving a little deeper into my family origins. You know, getting to know the other side of the family."
    Her aunt's face twisted up so strangely when she said this, that in any other situation Lillith might have laughed.

    ---

    School went as it usually did, though Lillith had an even harder time paying attention than usual.
    She had missed both the school bus, and her mother, leaving her with no transportation other than her own two feet. Because of this, she arrived at her first class - Algebra - late. No surprise there for her teacher. School was more than just boring, it was a nightmare. Algebra was the worst. There was no point to it. The class was too easy, and she had already learned enough math to get her through her life. Why should she have to sit around learning things she already understood?

    Her other classes weren't as bad. Gym was bearable, though she certainly wasn't fond of it. It always felt a bit awkward, running and jumping in front of the other kids - but that was nothing she couldn't handle. English and Social studies had a certain sort of charm to them, when she hadn't already learned the material that was being covered. Often though, this wasn't the case.

    There was only one class she truly liked - Biology. She found the intricate workings of the universe and organisms in it so terribly... entrancing. After all, who hadn't wondered how something so small as a cell played such a big part in sustaining life? Was there anyone who could honestly claim that gene expression and regulation weren't interesting? And what about evolution? Or forensic science? Was it even possible to read about such things without experiencing that childish feeling of giddy excitement? Normally Lillith would have said no. Today was different, though. Even the teacher's lecture on mitochondria and cellular respiration couldn't hold her attention.

    She'd been going over one simple question in her mind over and over again. "Who?"
    She was going to have to kill someone. That would be well and easy enough, but it had to be someone close to her, and that's where she ran into a brick wall. She didn't really have anyone she would consider her friend. Allison, maybe? They had been lab partners before, and even gone over to each other's houses once or twice after the project was over to hang out. But, no, that wouldn't work. They hadn't talked in months, and Lillith couldn't help but get the vague feeling the girl had never liked her in the first place. Maybe Casey? The boy was nice enough, and at one point Lillith might have even said she had a crush on him. Again though, the relationship had never gone anywhere. A few awkward whispered conversations during study hall were as close to making friends with him she'd ever got.
    All that really left was her aunt and uncle, neither of whom the girl wanted to kill. She couldn't simply get rid of one of them without a second thought, could she? She needed them. If her aunt was gone, who would cook her dinner? Or give her prizes for good grades? (Admittedly, she might have been getting a bit old for that - but it didn't mean she liked them any less.) Not to mention she couldn't get the nagging memory of hot cocoa and bedtime stories out of her head.
    And her uncle, he was terribly important too! He was always sticking up for her, no matter what she'd done, and she loved their Saturday outings. They always went to the coolest places - museums, parks, carnivals, train yards, hobby shops.
    She groaned slightly, leaning her head forward against her desk. This was going to be harder than she had thought.
     
    #17 Cwolf0615, Mar 6, 2015
    Last edited: Mar 9, 2015
  18. Lunch time was extra long because some substitute teacher had had a heart attack and the police were around trying to figure out what had happened to cause a twenty year old woman to just drop dead. The principal made an announcement about it and told anyone who was grieving or traumatized to go the counselor's office and everyone else to stay in the cafeteria. Naturally there were a few kids who thought themselves to be rebels and had snuck out and were probably wandering the halls and trying to see a dead body. Ironically, Cora was one of those few children. Although originally she hadn't set out to see a body due to the fact that she would be seeing another one soon. The reason she was even out in the halls was because Gareth had snuck out of the cafeteria and Amelia had seen him and gotten worried about his safety and gone after him, pulling Cora along behind him.

    "Aw man, we lost him!" Amelia whined, when she and Cora turned the corner. The hallway was empty and there was no sign of Gareth. Cora put her hand on Amelia's shoulder. "I'm sure he's fine 'lia, let's get back to the cafeteria. If someone sees us out here we'll be given three weeks worth of detention."

    Amelia sighed. "Fine. But Gareth better explain why he's always ditching us nowadays. Have you noticed that? He's always running off and giving excuses and he never goes to the movies with us anymore!" Amelia complained, her eyes tearing up. Cora nearly forgot that Amelia was a crier.

    "Hey, listen. As soon as we see him again we are going to do some serious--Do you hear that?" Cora cocked her head to the side, listening closely. There were gross smacking sounds coming from the janitor's closet. Cora crept closer, with Amelia tugging her arm and whimpering for her to please not open the door and that it could be a murderer or something.

    The door didn't have any windows, so Cora grasped the knob and flung it open to see Gareth and Missy sucking face. Cora's jaw dropped and so did her heart, except that organ shattered into a million little pieces. From behind her Amelia gasped, "GARETH!" like a disappointed mother. Both Amelia and Gareth knew how much Cora hated Missy and how much Missy bullied and ruined her life. She had told them countless times that Missy was the enemy and lovely Amelia had started hating her before she met her and Gareth...He's insisted that he hated her too.

    The two lovers pulled apart quickly, Gareth's face covered in pink lip gloss. "C-Cora!" He stammered, but Missy shut him up with a finger to his lips. "You don't have to explain yourself Gary. Cora knows that you don't belong to her and that you can do whatever you want. With whoever you want." She hissed, leaning into Cora's face and before Cora could think about it properly, she grabbed Missy by her hair and was pulling her out of the closet.

    "YOU BITCH!" Cora shrieked, ripping one hand free and then slapping Missy in the face. She delighted in Missy's screams of pain and how hard Missy struggled to get away, but just couldn't. Liquid trickled down her fingers and Cora guessed she's already ripped out a few clods of hair.


    How could Gareth do this to her? Even though he knew--

    "Cora let go of her!" Gareth yelled.

    "She doesn't even know your name, Gareth!" Cora roared. "How could you do th--
    Suddenly Gareth rammed into her and Cora stumbled backwards releasing Missy and giving Gareth a rough push with her bloodied fingers. Gareth stumbled backwards and slipped on the fallen drops of Missy's blood. It looked like some cheap slow motion action scene, as Gareth's eyes widened as he fell backwards and bashed his head against the shelf in the janitor's closet and fell limp on the ground.

    There was silence until Missy released a blood curdling scream and ran down the hall. Cora stared at her hands then at Gareth, unable to say anything.

    "Oh my God." someone whimpered from behind her and Cora remembered that Amelia was there the whole time. "You killed him, Cora." Amelia murmured, backing away slowly as if Cora were some deranged beast and not her best friend.

    "It was an accident!" Cora whispered.

    "Was it? I saw your face Cora. You looked insane. You wanted to hurt him! I-I have to tell someone--" Amelia yelled, whirling around and running down the hall. Cora dashed after her, tackling her around the waist. Amelia kicked and fought below her as Cora struggled to keep her quiet.

    "Amelia please! You know me! I didn't mean to!" Cora yelled, placing her hands over Amelia's mouth. Tears streamed down her face. "Please, 'lia! Please!" Suddenly Amelia thrust upwards and threw Cora off, she started running again and it was then that Cora realized that her choice had been made for her. Their friendship was over anyway.

    Cora lunged forwards once more but instead of grabbing Amelia's waist she grabbed her leg and yanked hard. Amelia let out a surprised scream as she pitched forward, her legs kicking out from under her. Her head hit the tile floor with a sickening crunch.

    She had not time to truly process what she'd done before she heard it. The sound of a million feet approaching her at a fast speed. At first she thought Missy had gotten to the police, but then she realized the feet sounded...smaller. But what the hell was it? Her question was answered when a hoard of cockroaches streamed down the hallway and Cora let out a frightened scream, scrambling backwards and trying to flee but the roaches got to her first. They crawled up her legs, and she suddenly she was engulfed in them. She couldn't scream for fear of getting them in her mouth. But as soon as they had mobbed her, they were gone and she was...In an abandoned train station.

    "Uh...Hello? Dad?" She called, but was answered with silence.
     
  19. Saturday night. It was the night Kelkov often chose for cards, and so he'd invited all his closest friends for a lighthearted -- but still high-stakes -- game of five-card draw in his family's shed. Zack hardly cared for Kelkov's social circle, and he wasn't one for games of chance, but it might have been his only opportunity to get Kelkov alone. Not too many people had shown up to the game: there was Paul Derickson, the rich son of a pizza mogul, Kraig Blitzer, Kelkov's trusted supplier (of course), and Flare Modus, an impulsive smoker and one of Kelkov's best friends. Zack never understood what his friend saw in the hotheaded young man.

    Flare had managed to "secure" a crate of tequila from his older brother Andrew, and the group was passing the bottles around jovially as Kraig took to dealing the cards. Zack took his first hand and peeked under the corners like he'd seen Kelkov do plenty of times -- a pair of 9s right off the bat, not a bad start -- and watched the others take hearty swigs from their alcohol with mild distaste. He and Kelkov were the only ones that would remain sober throughout the night, Zack due to his aversion to muddling his mental faculties in any way, and Kelkov because he knew that the clearer his mind was, the more money he would sucker out of the others.

    Zack did his best to ignore the drunken ramblings of Flare and Kraig, not to mention the disturbingly hard-to-read expression on Paul's shades-bearing face, and wait for an opportunity. What kind of opportunity, he didn't know. But he figured he would know it when he saw it. A loud clunk on the hard wood table they were all sitting around nearly made him jump; he hadn't realized he was so tense. "Ah, shit!" Kraig exclaimed. He had spilled his tequila, and the expensive alcohol was spreading across the wood and soaking the cards.

    "Smooth moves, Kraig the Plague," Kelkov said, chuckling. "You're lucky that wasn't my best deck. Start cleaning this up." With that he started fishing around in the nearby dressers, presumably for another pack of cards, or perhaps a rag of some kind.

    Flare merely laughed, leaned back in his chair, and produced a cigarette and lighter. "This is fuckin' ridiculous, man," he laughed, his words slurring slightly. "Hey Zack, you wanna be cool with me?" He held up the rest of the pack, the small flame on his lucky lighter still burning eagerly.

    "No thank you," Zack said, shaking his head, calm as ever. Idiots. This was why he never came to these things.

    "You sure man? It'll ease what ails ya."

    "No."

    "Come on, just one puff--"

    "I said no!"

    Before he knew what he was doing, Zack smacked the lighter out of Flare's hand, sending it clattering onto the table. The flame from the small device caught on the spilled tequila. Before the others could respond, the table was on fire.

    "Oh god dammit, what did you do this time?!" Kelkov snapped at Flare; the hothead was usually the cause behind arson-related incidents.

    "I swear it wasn't me!" Flare yelled back. "This kid is crazy! He smacked me, yell at him!"

    Zack practically growled at him; Flare was a year younger than him, hardly one to be calling him "kid."

    "Well, whatever," Kelkov said, rolling his eyes. "Where's the fire extinguisher..."

    Suddenly an idea came to Zack's mind. It was risky, but if he executed it correctly, he might fulfill his father's challenge once and for all. "There's no time," he barked. "Everyone, out."

    Paul and Kraig, in their drunken stupor, were more than happy to book it as far away from the quickly-spreading flames as possible. Flare stood there for a few more seconds, sputtering and stammering, but another fierce order to leave from Zack managed to shoo him out. The fire had spread to the cheap dry carpet on the shed floor now, and only Kelkov and Zack were left.

    "What was that about? Help me look!" Kelkov snapped. "I know it's in here somewhere..."

    Zack merely stared while Kelkov fumbled around the room, knocking over more tequila bottles in his desperation. This was Zack's only chance. If he didn't take it now, he would never see such a golden opportunity again.

    "Hey, you there, Ice-T?" Kelkov tried. "Come on!" He came to a sudden halt when he saw the look in Zack's eyes -- glazed, empty, no trace of the fury he'd expressed before. "Zack? You alright?"

    Zack couldn't manage any words. In a flash of movement, he spun around, ran through the only exit to the shed, and slammed the door shut with all his weight. A heavy metal hammer hung on the wall just outside; Zack seized it and shoved it through the door handles, effectively barring the door shut. He kept his back flush against the door, forced to hear all of Kelkov's increasingly desperate screams, from simple scolding to cracked pleas for help. How long it went on for, he couldn't say. But it almost didn't matter -- as soon as the screams stopped, painful heat rushed up Zack's legs.

    Zack looked down, his eyes wide in alarm: the flames seemed to have spread to his ankles, and they were climbing fast, clinging to his skin and clothes. It burned, it stung, he could almost feel his skin peeling away. He wanted to scream, but he was terrified of the heat snaking its way into his throat, burning him from the inside out. The fire engulfed him, surrounded him, covered his eyes until he could see nothing but endless flames--

    And then it was all gone.

    When he finally found the courage to open his eyes, Zack found that he was in an abandoned train station. There was a girl there, too, someone he had never seen before. But he couldn't find the strength to open his mouth.
     
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  20. The room was quiet. On one side of the curtain/screen divide, Owen slept heavily in his twin bed. That was Chris' assumption, at least. He'd had a few years now to determine that Owen was a heavy sleeper. Zach, meanwhile, was a mystery. He was currently lying between a few spare blankets on the floor next to Chris' bed, on Chris' side of the divide. How light or heavy a sleeper he was was completely unknown, but Chris had reason to assume he slept lighter than Owen. He would have to be taken out first. Maneuvering over to Owen's side after the first kill would be a hassle, but there wasn't much Chris could do about that.

    It went without saying that Chris himself couldn't sleep at all. He couldn't let himself sleep, of course, because he had to make these kills in the dead of night for his own safety, but that plan aside, he couldn't have slept even if he wanted too. His thoughts were too turbulent. He had to have a plan. It had to be perfect. Should he pack his things before or after committing the crime? That would involve leaving the bedroom, possibly making noise. And what should he pack? Food? His wallet? His phone, or would that be tracked? And would he need his throwing knife kit? He figured he would probably need some kind of weapon. Hell, he didn't even know where he was going. The nearest train station, or somewhere specific in the world that he had no reasonable way of finding? Or would he be drawn towards his half-siblings by some kind of demonic instinct?

    He huffed and flipped over in bed. He was thinking about too many things. He just had to do it. He'd figure out the rest later. Wait, but he didn't even know how he'd do the deed yet! A knife to the throat? Too slow, not safe enough. A few good stabs to the abdomen? Too loud, too messy. Strangling? Maybe, but still potentially too loud...

    Regardless of the optimal method, was it even late enough yet for Chris to swoop down on his prey without waking anyone up? He wasn't sure. He sat up in bed and pressed his face into his palms. Planning a murder did not feel good. He had decided that now. It made his insides feel rotten. Maybe that was just something he'd have to get used to. He was supposed to become a demon, wasn't he? He was supposed to be rotten to the core.

    "Hey. Chris."

    He winced. Someone was awake, and he was pretty sure from the whisper's proximity that the someone was Zach. Fuck.

    "You awake?"

    This complication was highly irritating. "Yeah," he whispered back.

    "Can't sleep either, huh?"

    "No."

    There came a shaky breath, as if Zach were attempting to convey a whispered version of laughter. "I guess that's sleepovers for ya."

    "Yeah..." Secretly, Chris' mind raced. Was there a way to do this fast enough that Zach couldn't raise the alarm? His movements and method of choice would have to be innocuous. He looked around the room. It was dimly lit by little more than what moonlight could filter through the blinds. Nothing jumped out at him. His, um...blankets? Could they be used for strangling, like a rope? But that wasn't any better than using his bare hands, which he was more apt to trust anyway...

    "What's on your mind?"

    No way he was going to answer that question honestly. "Stuff," he whispered after a second. His eyes were on his pillow now.

    "That's specific."

    He grabbed the corner of the pillow and shifted his weight forward. "It's dumb to keep talking like this. I'll come down there." He slipped off the bed and made to settle alongside Zach on the floor.

    "Heh, didn't know you were the type to get cozy—"

    Slam.

    It was a slam of a sharp motion, not of noise; in fact, the action was nearly silent. But now one hand pressed into the ground on each side of Zach's head with as much force as Chris could muster, drawing the pillow tightly between them across Zach's face. He straddled the other boy's hips with his knees right as Zach began to squirm and buck beneath him, and it only took a second for those motions to turn frantic. The pinned boy's limbs lashed about beneath the blankets, grappling blindly for Chris' arms, thumping the ground, whatever they could possibly do, with all the power and desperation of a cornered animal. A silenced scream made the pillow vibrate beneath Chris' hands, but he held fast, his arms trembling from the strain of the force he applied. His face pulled into a snarl as he held his victim down. Just die already...!!

    And then, with an agonizing slowness, Zach's movements began to weaken. His legs slowed their aimless churning and beating of the ground. His arms quivered, twitched, and finally fell limp. Chris waited, listening. No breath, no movement. Nothing but Chris' own pulse pounding in his ears. Jeez, and it was louder than he expected. Way louder. It took him a few seconds to realize he was breathing heavily. A strange trembling sensation was working its way through Chris' body already, carrying with it an emotion he did not know. He sat back on Zach's lifeless legs and stared uncomprehendingly at his own hands. They were shaking.

    I just committed murder.

    The realization rang in his head as clearly as a spoken sentence in a deserted chapel. The shaky feeling all over morphed into a panic crawling through his insides. His eyes darted around the dark room. He couldn't be seen here. He had to leave!

    "Chris?"

    His head whipped towards the source. No! After all he had done to keep the kill quiet, Owen had woken up, all because Chris had started hyperventilating like a weak-willed moron...

    "Chris? Zach? Is everything okay?" There came a few thumps of bare feet moving over carpet and then a rustle as the curtain moved. Chris' hand had darted back to the pillow, and by the time Owen's face appeared from behind the curtain, Chris was on his feet and ready. He lunged forward. Owen yelped in surprise, but it only lasted half of a second before Chris could hear and feel the sickening thud of the boy's head hitting the bookcase behind him. But Chris wasn't done, oh, no. Even as Owen's body fell sideways, Chris was on top of him, and he wasted no time shoving his head to the ground with the pillow and pinning it there as hard as he could. A peculiar burning sensation had begun to climb up his arms. Was it a feeling of power? Whatever it was, he didn't realize the grimace on his face had shifted to a grin. Yes. Yes! Die! He could kill! He could do it!

    The indescribable glee overtaking him meant that it took several seconds before he realized that the shadows in the room had been moving. They crawled out from beneath Owen's body, the bookcase, even the points where Chris' knees touched the carpet. They danced upwards in the same way that shadows dance in the face of fire, reaching up to Chris in tendrils. The flame of accomplishment within him sputtered out quickly, extinguished by a new, uneasy fear, and when the first shadow-tentacle clamped down on the back of his neck, clammy and oozing, every hair on his body bristled in disgust and terror. He yelled. He struggled. He was dragged down into the pool of his own shadow. Something slimy clamped across his mouth, turning his yell into a muffled squeal of panic. And then...

    Nothing. He was free. He was on his hands and knees, gasping for air, but he was free. He shook as he pushed himself up to a standing position. Where was he? Certainly not his bedroom. There were two others here already, looking just as lost as he did. Presumably they were his half-siblings. He glanced down at himself to see, much to his chagrin, that he still wore his pajamas: a black T-shirt with a faded gold Hyrule crest on it, a pair of grey-and-blue-checkered flannel pants, and bare feet. Not exactly the first impression he wanted to make, but he couldn't do much about that now. He stuffed his hands in his pockets and walked towards the other two, figuring that meeting them was as good a way to start as any.
     
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