Bella Johnson is a thirteen-year old writer who participated in the Summer 2023 Elemental Writing Challenge in which she wrote a 5,000 word original short story this summer. Bella’s contemporary adventure introduces readers to Scarlett, a girl struggling to care of her ill mother, balance her complex friend groups, and decide what to do about a mysterious magical object offered to her by an even more mysterious sorcerer.
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We began in an indoor pool with nobody there, the perfect place for 2, 14 year old girls to work. When the new aquatics center opened up nobody wanted to come to the old aquatics center. The girls’ names were Mia and Scarlett. Mia was a tall girl, with brown hair that was dyed blue at the tips. She had on a red swimsuit and Scarlett had a green. Scarlett was a little bit shorter, with red hair dyed with silver tips, she also had green eyes.
“What are you doing tonight Scarlett?”
“Same thing I do every night Mia. I have to look over my mother and watch my sisters. Sorry, I can’t do anything tonight either.”
“Are you going to hang out with me ever, I remember before your mother got sick. We used to hang out all the time. I miss that.”
“We are hanging out right now, wanna race?”
“Nah, remember the last time we raced?”
Scarlett thought about the last time they raced, she just found out that her mother was sick. She also remembered getting stuck in the water and almost drowned, but thanks to the lifeguards they saved her. That’s why she became a lifeguard.
“Yes, I remember.”
“Hey it’s time for me to go home, you got close up again?”
“Yeah, just be careful. I heard your sisters are at it again.”
“Aren’t they always? I will talk to you later bye.”
Scarlett changed out of her swimsuit into her school outfit putting on her most boring jacket. She turned in everything about that day and clock out. On her walk home, Scarlett could not stop thinking about how boring her life is. She can’t hang out with any of her friends unless her father is home or Grandma or Grandpa could come over and help out. When she got home she heard yelling inside the house. She stayed outside for a couple of minutes, before going into the crazy house.
Kayley Roach is a 14-year old writer who participated in the Summer 2023 Elemental Writing Challenge in which she wrote a 5,000 word original short story this summer. Kayley’s contemporary romance follows the character, Kay, a high school senior preparing to graduate. Kay’s anxiety about the future manifests into strange mystical sensations amplified by the growing tension with her friend, Skye, who claims that Kay’s boyfriend cannot be trusted.
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11:58am – After School
Sometimes, I wish I was a whole different person. I mean, I never really did ask to be who I am. All I know is that I was magically here one day and I’ve been living my life like this ever since.
I guess I decided not to do what I wanted and stay in bed till noon, but I guess I had to be there, you know. To say goodbye. If it weren’t for my best friend convincing me to come, I’d never have realized why I was being asked to come.
If only I had stayed home… in my warm bed, writing my stories at home. But no. Instead, Ihadto go to school, even though it was only for two and a half hours. What was the point? Was the last day of school reallythat important? All I knew was that I didn’t want to go back… Ever.
Layla Mendoza is a thirteen-year old writer who participated in the Summer 2023 Elemental Writing Challenge in which she wrote a 5,000 word original short story this summer. Layla’s fantasy adventure tells the tale of Bringleclaw, a curmudgeonly villain desperate to return the flourishing kingdomof Betom back to the old ways, and a group of unlikely misfits determined to stop him.
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Chapter 1: Bringleclaw
Far away, in a place that humans have scarcely seen, there was a kingdom called Betom, that had beautiful emerald green hills, sparkling bubbling brooks, tall, multi-colored trees that only you and I can dream of, and most of all: Magic. The magic that lived here dwelled everywhere, not just in the magical beings, but in the land itself, tucked away into the darkest corner, the smallest thorn, even small, unsuspecting insects!
And you can only imagine how joyous the creatures that lived here were! The elves often held grand feasts and dances. The goblins, as fierce as they might seem, liked to play wondrous music when they were feeling especially happy and even the smallest fairies would go about, joining in any festivities they could. Of course, it wasn’t always like this. In the ancient days, the Goblins liked to cause all sorts of mischief, wreaking havoc in not only their own realm, but as many others as possible.
But festivities and joyous occasions were the daily life for the citizens of Betom, and it went on for many years – the same things, the same celebrations. But then one day, everything changed.
Isaac McKinnie is a twelve-year old writer who participated in the 2022 Seafarer’s Writing Challenge in which he wrote a 5,000 word original short story this summer. Isaac’s sci-fi thriller involves a young motorcyclist participating in a race that takes a drastic and traitorous detour.
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Roads are dull. There is no other way to describe them. They are just slabs of concrete shaped to make a meaningless line. However, roads are even more mind-numbing when no one is using them. On these occasions it almost hurts to see a sight so boring. Luckily for the road next the small harbor in Winfred, Sasnak, this was hardly ever the case; and today was no exception. If someone had been counting how many cars had passed through, they would have lost count in the first ten seconds.
Yet, in all the hustle and bustle of this road, one vehicle stood out. It was a motorcycle, a Hoss Boss to be exact. Its black body paint glistened like obsidian in the early afternoon sun. The beautiful Hoss Boss sped down the (still dull) road with the same amount of importance as King Arthur and his own steed would have. The driver was unfortunately neither wearing a helmet nor taking any safety precautions at all. You might say that he was not very smart. If you did, I would commend you for being smarter than him. However, he seemed to prefer riding without any safety measures. Dylan (for that was the name of the motorcycle rider) laughed as the salty sea wind blew back his black hair and lifted the smell of the ocean to his nostrils. After he finished admiring the view, he revved the engine and sped off. As he rode, he decided to take a route he had not taken yet before going to the meeting place. He sped and then took a random turn. This was what excited him about motorcycling the most: the constant adrenaline, the rush of fear when he took a sharp turn, and the idea that anything might happen. He wove his way around the roads until he finally found his way to the meeting place. There it was––an abandoned warehouse. Now, this warehouse might look like any other abandoned warehouse. But if you went inside and walked through the abandoned warehouse you would find a tear in the wall. If you squeezed through that tear, you would see a small shed. It was there that Dylan met up with his friends.
Amy Rogers is a twelve-year old writer who participated in the 2022 Seafarer’s Writing Challenge in which she wrote a 5,000 word original short story this summer. Amy’s contemporary story explores a young girl’s unexpected summer with her aunt which turns bloodier than expected.
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I was happy with my life. No, I wasn’t just happy with my life, I loved it! I had indoor plumbing, electricity throughout the whole house, a comfortable smelling house [you know that nice scent when you come into a clean inviting house], and best of all I got to watch television and play video games! I didn’t have to worry about goats needing milked, and leaky roofs needing fixed, or even any chores at all. In short, I was a lazy, selfish, entitled princess who only cared about herself and nothing else.
But one day, a week before summer break, my father and stepmother told me something that changed my life forever…
Layla Mendoza is a twelve-year old writer who participated in the 2022 Seafarer’s Writing Challenge in which she wrote a 5,000 word original short story this summer. Layla’s nautical adventure tells the swashbuckling tale of Captain Howe and the spell that changes his life.
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There really was no explanation as to how Captain Howe’s vessel had ended up in the Pacific Ocean. He could have sworn that they were going to stay in the Atlantic waters, but nooooooo, they just had to end up in the Pacific Ocean, and right by the Ring of Fire, too, if he had read his maps correctly.
“WHAT?” Captain Howe shouted, banging one pudgy fist down on the wooden table where he was sitting. Maps and books that had been on the edge of the table fell to the floor, and his Cartographer, the one who had spoken, slumped a bit lower in his seat.
“Uh, um, just that, we- ah- seem to be getting fairly close to some active volcanoes that are part of the Ring of Fire, if I’m right about where we are on the map. We aren’t exactly headed directly towards a volcano, but we might pass by one. But,” he shrugged his shoulders, “If you don’t want to take precautions-”
“No, no,” Captain Howe said gruffly. “Do take precautions. Try to alter our course so that we don’t have the chance of getting blown up by a volcano.”
Olivia is a 15 year old writer who has participated in many of the library’s writing challenges, including last summer’s Voyager Writing Challenge and this spring’s Bad Guy Writing Challenge. Red Strings is the sequel to Olivia’s first short story, Neutral Zone, and dives deeper into the motivations of the tormented villain, Vic!
Vick can admit that he is not the best person,
but he certainly is not stupid. He knew the oblivious, helpless person he and
Terrace quite literally stumbled upon was not to be killed. He may want the end
of the AWs, Alternate Worlds, but he is not that evil.
“You brought us here anyway,” Vick accused. The
first AW was not his ideal battle terrain, mostly because anything multiverse
travelers, like himself, killed there killed its counterpart everywhere else.
“No I didn’t! You did!” Terrace yelled back up
at Vick. Vick smirked. Even if he was not suspended on a swing, he was still
taller than the short creator.
recall ever thinking to put myself at a disadvantage.” Vick was not happy. He
lowered himself to the ground. He stared directly into Terrace’s ever changing
“It’s not like you don’t make mistakes,” Terrace
said. “We’re both human, Vick.”
“Human, huh?” Vick spat at him. The red markings
wrapped around his arms glowed with a fiery intensity. Vick scowled at Terrace.
He felt his familiar red strings flow down from the marks to his hands. He shot
them toward part of the back porch. The strings wrapped themselves around the
poor porch and paused. He shot Terrace a crazed grin. “What part of me is
He gripped his hand into a fist. He swung his
arm at Terrace as if he was throwing a shot-put. The strings strained and
yanked the porch out of the ground. In a blur of wood, the porch was on a
direct course toward Terrace. It landed with a huge Crash!and…
Terrace. Vick knew that would happen, but was not in the mood. Terrace had
teleported over to the fence gate.
Terrace teased. Vick was fuming. He angrily directed his strings toward the
nearest fence post, tore it out of the ground, and threw it at Terrace. He
could not care less if he killed anyone else, he just wanted to wipe off
Terrace’s smug grin.
He retreated his strings. Though he really
wanted to make sure Terrace was at least scared, he did not want to stick
around longer. Let Terrace take care of his ownbusinesshe
thought, teleporting away from the destroyed yard.
Now, one may expect Vick to have some sort of huge base where he would
monitor the whole multiverse. That is not the case. Because of the
stereotypical villain, Vick’s “base” is in a small cabin in AW 27, another
“magic filled” AW.
Vick’s teleportation destination landed him in
the kitchen of said cabin. He took a peek in the fridge for anything that
looked edible. Believe it or not, destroying useless worlds worked up an
appetite. Vick took the leftover pancakes from breakfast and closed the fridge.
“Back already?” Vick heard someone say from the
“Not like you’ve been anywhere,” Vick grumbled.
“Dumb creator teleported the both of us to the original. I gave him a bit of a
job to fix.” Vick heard laughter. He made his way to the living room and found
the new(ish) recruit, dressed in all black, playing with a knife.
“The original’s found out, huh?” Blood laughed.
“Yep. Scared the kid out of his skin. You should
have seen it, turned him white on the spot.” Vick started gnawing on one of the
“My turn?” Blood asked excitedly, his eyes
flashing red as if to seal his intentions.
“Go aheath,” Vick said, half a pancake dangling
out of his mouth. “Whehe’s Lethon?”
“Lendon’s probably in his room,” Blood answered.
“Later!” Blood teleported out of the room.
Vick finished his pancakes and sighed. Blood
joined them —that is, the team— about two years ago. Vick never thought about
time because it did not mean much for a multiverse traveler like himself. It
changes too much from AW to AW that Vick just stopped caring.
Vick never asked Blood why he joined the team,
but Blood always seemed to know where Terrace and Cerulean were. Vick just went
with it. He was sure Lendon knew —he was the head of the team and he knew just
about everything about each of them.
Lendon was originally from AW 17, which also had
magic. Vick does not know much about his origin either, but does know Lendon is
pretty powerful. Vick has seen him
level a city in seconds. He has also fought
Terrace and Cerulean to a stalemate, which Vick has yet to do. Vick is not
patient enough for it.
“Yo, Vick!” yelled someone. Vick snapped himself
out of his thoughts and looked up. He saw another member of the team. He wore a
blood red sweater and black jeans. He stared at Vick with his cyan eyes burning
through his shaggy black hair.
“What do you want, Dultin?” Vick grumbled.
Dultin took playful offense as he flopped on the
couch next to Vick. “Why do you always assume I want something whenever I talk
do.” The day before, Dultin asked Vick to help him find one of his guns. Dultin
claimed it was his “favorite” and “couldn’t live without it.” They almost got
caught by the police in five different AWs and Vick came home sore.
Dultin came from AW 30. His father was a police
officer and taught Dultin everything about guns. Dultin said it was his
“calling” whenever he told the story. He claimed he brought a gun to “show and
tell” in Kindergarten and accidentally shot and killed one of his classmates.
Vick was wary about the credibility of the story, but did not put it past him
to do so.
“Okay, you got me,” Dultin said, raising his
hands up as if he was getting arrested. “I only want to know where Blood is.”
Vick forgot that Blood and Dultin had bonded over the past two years.
“Fine.” Vick closed his eyes and searched the
entire multiverse for Blood. Luckily, he had a good idea about where he was.
“Upmost. AW 10.” Dultin was stood up to leave. Vick grabbed his arm. “Let him
be for a bit. He’s playing with the original.”
Dultin seemed to understand and sat back down.
Blood did not come back in the next hours.
assuming the worst. He could barely think, mostly because Dultin was constantly
assembling and taking apart one of his handguns. Vick grew tired of the
constant clinking of metal. He stood up.
“Fine!” he groaned. “We’ll look for him. Get
your things. I have a trap.”
Dultin shot up, giddy to leave. “You think it’ll
work? It’s about 11 pm original time.”
“It definitely will. Terrace wouldn’t miss.”
Vick opened a portal. “Come on.” Dultin hopped into the portal as Vick
followed, sealing the portal after entering the location.
They ended up in a field surrounded by forest.
The clearing was almost miraculous.
Occasional dandelions popped up every once and
awhile. It was about noon in that AW.
“You’ve never seen me destroy an entire world,
have you?” Vick asked Dultin. Dultin shook his head no. “Well, today’s your
lucky day.” Vick’s markings glowed blood red. Vick knelt on the ground and put
both hands on the grassy field. He again felt his strings flow into his hands,
but this time they slipped out and into the ground like worms. Vick got up.
“The trap’s set.”
“What did you do?” Dultin asked with genuine
“Each world has a ‘soul,’ so to speak,” Vick
explained. “My strings can locate and destroy that ‘soul,’ leaving the world to
rot and disappear. The process takes about 10 to 15 minutes. Quick and
efficient. The only flaw is that Terrace can sense when my strings are close to
the ‘soul’ and can get rid of them the same way I distribute them. That is our
“Which world is this, anyway?” Dultin asked,
loading a pistol with one of his homemade bullets.
“AW 2,102,” Vick replied. He rolled his eyes.
“There’s too much of the same trash.”
“Darn right.” Dultin laughed.
The pair of delinquents were treated to a bright
flash of light. When the light diminished, Vick saw four silhouettes. Two
obviously belonged to Terrace and Cerulean. The third was the original, Vick
figured. Vick could not figure out who the fourth was. He seemed to be part of
Cerulean’s shadow, dressed in all black as he was.
Then he caught sight of his face. Vick stared at
him, a spike of disbelief shooting through his insides. He wondered what
happened in the last few hours that caused this.
Dultin started laughing. The laugh turned dry,
shooting imaginary daggers into their adversaries. “Yes, Vick, the trap
worked,” he said. He directed his now loaded gun at the “shadow.” “Alas, it
worked too well. We caught a ghost, and now it’s time to dispose of him.”
Dultin’s smile turned toxic. “Goodbye Blood.”
Dultin loaded and fired his pistol in half a second, aiming it directly at
Blood. There was no time for Blood to dodge. Better
A mind-numbing screech of metal was heard. Blood
had decided to deflect the bullet, using a knife to cut the bullet before it
hit him. The two pieces of the bullet fell harmlessly on either side of him.
Sadly, the pieces did not hit anyone else.
did not waste time. Arms glowing, he sent his strings toward Terrace and
Cerulean. They wrapped around their necks, daring to choke them to death. Vick
pulled and their eyes grew wide with fear. They started choking and clawed at
the strings to try to get air.
They were cut free soon after. Vick glared at
Blood, who had freed them. Vick redirected his attention to Terrace. The short
creator had eyed him and was holding his paintbrushes. “You got the other
three?” Vick half asked Dultin.
“Can’t wait to kill that traitor,” Dultin
“Just don’t kill Derick.” Dultin scoffed. Vick
could not worry about that. He had to keep Terrace from saving the AW. And he
had a great idea. In the long time that he and Terrace have been fighting, he
knew he put others as more important than himself. That was his flaw. Vick
wondered if Terrace would ever learn after being exploited so much.
strings shot toward Derick. The “poor kid” did not know what hit him. Vick
pinned Derick’s arms to his sides and suspended him in the air. Vick shot
Dultin a look. Dultin smiled, pointed another one of his “special” guns at
Derick, and fired.
Terrace looked terrified. He froze and looked up
at Derick in disbelief. Cerulean displayed similar emotions —even crying, to
Vick’s delight. Blood just stared at Dultin. The gaze held back a hurricane of
emotions, ready to be unleashed.
Vick watched as Blood almost doubled over,
clutching his side as if he had taken the bullet. Vick smirked. “Dultin, what
was in the bullet?” he asked playfully, getting everyone’s attention.
“Well!” Dultin responded excitedly. “That was
one of my special concoctions! It locates magical bonds in the recipient and
exploits the connection!” Dultin stared at Blood. “I wanted to use it on
Cerulean, but you —you lying traitor— deserved it more.”
Derick started coughing. He was struggling to
get out of the strings, but to no avail. Vick only tightened his bindings.
Derick was staring at the ground in fear. “C-Cerulean? Why’s the ground red?”
Cerulean and Terrace gave him a terrified look.
Vick smirked. “Looks like someone forgot why
they were here. Forgetful creator,” he teased Terrace while shaking his head.
Vick turned his attention to Derick and shot him a crazed smile. “That’s what a
world looks like before it’s destroyed. Terrace was being slow, as always.” He
nodded at Dultin. “Hope you all enjoyed your little late night expedition. I
“Burn…in…hell,” Blood said, still holding
his side in pain. “You know…you didn’t.”
Dultin’s instinctual course of action was to
shoot Blood with another one of the special bullets. The bullet passed through
Blood’s head without spilling any blood. Derick let out a strained yelp in
pain. Vick dropped the now passed out kid from his strings. Terrace ran to
catch the kid in time and, unfortunately, did. Vick almost signaled Dultin to
leave when Cerulean also dropped. This shocked Vick. Any new connections like
that shine like a beacon to Vick. That
connection is nowhere near newhe
He motioned at Dultin that it was time to leave.
They both teleported out of there, just as the ground started collapsing. They
arrived back at their base and just… stood in the living room.
“That traitor!” Dultin yelled, kicking over the
living room couch. “I swear, I’m going to kill him after ghosting us like
Vick was also mad. Blood was the last person he
saw deserting and flipping sides. Honestly, he thought that if Dultin ever had
therapy, he would be first. Dultin did what he did because he thought it was
fun. Vick always saw that as a poor reason, so he always thought Dultin would
He, Lendon, and Blood all had solid reasons, he
assumed. As already mentioned, he did not know much about either of the two,
but he pieced together that Blood has something against Cerulean. Vick did not
know what, but after what happened with the bullets, he knew it was deep.
Lendon was still a mystery. Vick had no idea of
how he even got so powerful in the first place. He just remembers when Lendon
recruited him to his team. Vick could feel his power. It emanated from him like
a radio signal that Vick could pick up and listen to. He remembered feeling
uneasy as his fierce orange eyes stared into him as he spoke.
snapped back into reality as Dultin toppled the couch again. He was still angry
about Blood. Dultin stormed off to his room. Vick figured he should go to his
room also. He thought about telling Lendon, but Vick had a feeling he already
Vick went up the staircase in the back of the
room toward his room. It was the first door on the right. He opened the door to
his bland room. He never bothered to decorate. He didn’t like clutter, and
didn’t see any reason in doing so. He wasn’t in his room much anyway.
He was, however, exhausted. He plopped on his
bed and went out like a light.
was in a white and black area. He didn’t bother looking around. He knew where
he was. The landscape swirled with the white and black colors, but nothing else
could be seen. He also knew that. He did not know why he tried every time.
Where was he? Well, he was home. His AW.
There was nothing. Vick did not know what
happened, but what was supposed to be an actually livable space with other
people only turned out to be him. He could not count the number of times he had
false hopes about someone being out there and disappointed when there was not.
Sometimes, the area would play tricks on him and the blackness would shape like
a person and then disappear.
He always dreams of being here. He cannot
remember ever having a “good” dream. He always looked at the other AWs in
disgust. They had so much when he had nothing. That is why he is so numb.
He simply does not care.
He did not always have the marks, either. They
were blood. When he was stuck there, he would often think and dream about
death. That was the only way out he saw. He would constantly dream of killing
himself and the like. One time, his dream did not go away and he found the
markings on his arms. The strings were painful at first, it was like shaping
his own blood, but he grew numb to it.
Leaving was a complete accident. Vick remembered
wishing to be somewhere better and he was instantly in a forest. He instantly
knew he was not home. He heard birds and excited shouts. He followed them to a
campsite with about five tents. Kids were running about as parents watched
loosely while conversing with each other.
Vick was mad. He did not know that was out
there. Why did he not get any of that? Why did he have to live in that
nightmarish landscape while they had everything? His markings glowed blood red
Vick stared up at his ceiling. That was the
first world he destroyed. It was the 3,979th AW. He never regretted destroying
it. He knew it had only been an hour. He could never sleep for long and hunger
was never a concern for him. He could go a very long time without eating and be
fine. Eating was more of a “hobby” to him, so to speak. He did not care if it
was abnormal. Nothing about him was normal anyway.
He really only joined because he was tired of
his place and he thought it would be interesting. He doesn’t mind working for
Lendon but made sure to tell Lendon that it would be no deal if he could not do
as he pleased at times. Lendon agreed to it and welcomed him aboard. Vick made
a point to destroy the world they were in before following Lendon. That was AW
Terrace was an almost immediate acquaintance
after he left his AW, but before Lendon (which was almost one and a half years
after he started). Terrace was very confusing to him. He did not try to kill
Vick, but also reversed the destruction of the AW. Confusion turned to anger
and Vick decked Terrace before teleporting away. He hit a few other AWs before
going back to his home.
Vick was not patient. He was, however, very
easily distracted by his thoughts. A few days could go by and he would not have
noticed unless something happened to or near him. He called this one of his
“trances.” He blamed it on his sociopathic behavior. He luckily never did this
during a fight. Plus, he never liked patience. He saw it as useless and
wasteful. If he wanted to wait around, he would not have left.
Terrace also lacked patience, in his eyes. Their
fights never lasted long and he could tell by the way Terrace used his attacks.
Surprisingly, Vick found that attacks say a lot about a person. Vick deduced
that Terrace was an outgoing person and would never kill anyone.
Someone was saying his name. He got off his bed
and sauntered down the stairs to the living room. “Look who decided to show
up!” Dultin smirked. Vick saw both Dultin and Lendon looking at him. Lendon
looked like he had a plan. He was wearing his normal green shirt, grey pants,
brown boots, and orange gloves. His aura hung around him like a magnetic field.
Vick took his seat on the fixed couch. “What’s
the plan?” he asked.
“Thanks to Dultin’s… experiment,” Lendon started.
“We know three of our four adversaries have a magic bond of varying magnitude.
Any magic bonds strengthen both/all participants, thus decreasing our chances
of defeating them. If we single out the one without any magic ties to the
others, we should be able to lure the rest into any trap we may set. For
instance, if we kept Terrace locked up here, we could count on the other three
coming to us. But, we would have to keep Derick out of it.”
though?” Dultin asked. “He’s weak and inexperienced.” He pointed a finger gun
at Vick’s head. “Just one well placed shot and—” He jerked his hand back in
recoil as if he shot Vick. “Well, no more problem.”
“Dultin, he’s the original!” Vick hissed. “We
can’t kill him.”
know what he may be capable of,” Lendon continued. “I intend on finding out one
way or another. After we successfully capture Terrace, we will be able to ‘take
out’ Derick. I’m thinking of the Prison. Thoughts?”
The Prison was an abandoned military base near
their cabin. Each holding cell had soundproof walls and security cameras. It
was easy to monitor and there was no way to know if anyone else was in there
with you. Vick saw it as perfect. He nodded his head in approval.
“Finally!” Dultin said.
“Very well,” Lendon said, looking between the
two killers. “The plan will start as soon as possible. Places, everyone.”
Vick was out again. He had the task of luring
out Terrace, which would be very easy.
Another AW, another seed planted. Vick waited.
Terrace came alone. PerfectVick
thought. Terrace did not have time to react when Vick strangled him enough to
make him pass out. Vick dropped Terrace off in one of the cells in the Prison.
Not even a second later, Dultin came back with a
passed out Derick. Dultin paraded him around down to his cell like a hunter
carrying a deer he killed home. Vick thought for a second that Derick was dead,
but they were all still there so it was not the case. Now,we wait, Vick
thought. And wait they did. An almost 40 minutes.
Cerulean and Blood turned up near their base—
glorified house. Vick could feel them coming in the Prison’s direction. He told
Dultin to get ready. “This is exciting!” Dultin replied, playing with a switch
in the control room of the Prison. The two entered the complex. Dultin and Vick
watched them through the various security cameras placed in the maze-like
The moment came. “Now!” Vick shouted at Dultin.
Dultin slammed the switch down and a sliding steel door slid between the two.
The now separated pair tried to open/destroy the door, but nothing happened.
They continued on their separate ways. Vick radioed Lendon: “He’s all yours.”
Lendon was waiting for Cerulean. He did not give
any details on what he would do, so Vick and Dultin watched the security tapes
intriguingly. Cerulean walked back the way he came. He took a left near the
entrance and stopped at another crossroad. He took another left and a right at
another crossroad. All along the walls are doors leading to cell after cell after
cell. “Close the left door,” Vick told Dultin. At the upcoming intersection,
the left door closed. Cerulean’s only options were right or backtrack. Cerulean
took the right.
That was where Lendon was. Cerulean stopped and
started backing away from him. Dultin was about to close the door behind him,
but Lendon made a magical barrier, blocking Cerulean’s escape. Vick heard
Dultin snicker. To be honest, Cerulean’s terrified face was hilarious, but Vick
shut him up.
“Poor Cerulean,” Lendon sneered. “A weak shell
of a human that wanted too much. Now look where that got you. Your so-called
‘friends’ are gone and it’s all your fault.”
“No, no!” Cerulean said, still deathly afraid.
“I couldn’t have known!”
“Maybe,” Lendon smiled. “But, think about it. If
you didn’t split yourself, maybe you could’ve found them and left by now.
That’s not done by now because you’re weak and pathetic.”
“No… no!” Cerulean shook his head. Cerulean
was frozen still by an orange glow around him. “That’s not true!”
“Oh, quit lying to yourself. It’s tiring,
really.” Lendon walked toward Cerulean. Cerulean tried moving away, but the
orange magic held him in place. Lendon tilted Cerulean’s head toward him so
they made eye contact.
“No!” Cerulean tried looking away, but couldn’t.
A blinding orange light filled the security camera. After blinking away the
after effects, Vick saw only Cerulean in the corridor. He walked over to the
dropped radio and radioed the duo in the control center. “Open the doors,” he
said. He stared directly at the security camera.
They saw his
eyes and immediately opened the doors. His eyes glowed the same orange as
Lendon’s. Well, he can possess people nowVick thought. He cracked a
smile. “He’s certainly full of surprises,” Vick said aloud.
“You bet!” Dultin said. “This just got better!”
“It sure did,” Vick said as they continually
stared at the cameras. One more to gohe
kept to himself.
Lendon was approaching Blood. Blood must have
sensed him because he said: “What do you want, Lendon?”
“Blood!” Lendon said as Cerulean. “I found the
switches to the doors and opened them. We should continue looking together.”
“I’m not a naive fool, Lendon!” Blood continued
without turning around. “Leave me alone! I’m not going to be part of your team
Lendon laughed. “That’s crazy Blood!” Cerulean’s
voice said. “Why would I want you back? You obviously can’t be trusted.” Blood
finally turned around.
“Cerulean?!” Blood shouted in surprise. Lendon
stared at Blood.
“It would be easier to kill you now!” Cerulean’s
voice took a dark turn as Lendon lunged for Blood’s throat. Blood sidestepped
Lendon. He threw a knife in his direction. Lendon latched onto it with magic
and used its momentum to fling it back at Blood. The knife destroyed the door
“No way!” Dultin yelled.
“What?” Vick asked.
“That’s where I put Derick! How did he know?!”
Cerulean did not convey any emotional reaction.
Blood helped Derick out of the wreckage. “ ‘Really accurate hunches’, huh?”
“Hey, I got you out, didn’t I?” Blood responded.
Blood shoved Derick behind himself. “Go find Terrace. I’ll deal with Lendon.”
“Who’s—?” Derick began to ask before he started
glowing orange. He was struggling against the translucent bindings.
Lendon smirked. “You’re not going anywhere,”
Cerulean’s voice said.
“Let him go, Lendon!” Blood threatened.
“Sure.” Lendon threw Derick against a wall. The
wall was damaged on impact and debris went everywhere. Blood tried to protect
himself from the blast, but Vick could see clear cuts in his sweats.
Derick was not unscathed. He had a huge cut on
his cheek and Vick bet that he had popped his arm out of socket. He had many
other minor cuts everywhere. He struggled to get up, using the wall as some
sort of crutch. He looked at Lendon. “Why?” he asked. “Why Cerulean?”
“Cerulean’s not here,” Lendon smirked. Blood
walked up behind Lendon and tried to hit him with the blunt end of his knife.
Lendon froze him and sent him flying into one of the
other cells. “You’re very annoying, Blood.” He
sighed. “It’s not like you’ll actually try to kill me. Though you might’ve
wanted to kill him, you can’t kill Cerulean.”
The dust cleared and Blood was staring Lendon
down. “… heh heh…” he laughed. “Who said I was trying to kill you?” Blood
looked like he would drop down any moment. He threateningly raised a glowing
red knife at Lendon. “By now, Derick’s been looking for Terrace. You really are
unobservant idiots.” He eyed the security camera on the wall, which was
directly at Vick and Dultin.
Vick was mad. He did not like that he was that
easily distracted. “Where is he?” he wondered aloud while searching the
“There he is!” Dultin pointed at one of the
screens. Derick was walking quickly; it seemed as if he already knew where
Terrace was. Vick realized he was heading in the right direction.
“I’ll go stop him,” Vick told Dultin. “Keep
watching Lendon, just in case something goes wrong.” Dultin puffed up in
resistance, but did not make any moves to challenge Vick.
Vick teleported to where Derick was last seen.
He did not want to accidentally hit Terrace’s cell while he tried to stop
Derick, so he concocted a plan. His arms glowed red as he pursues Derick, who
was getting dangerously close to the cell. He shot his arm forward, his strings
lashing out toward their target. They grabbed onto Derick, promptly stopping
his progress and incapacitating him.
out a surprised shout as he was yanked backward. Vick’s strings pulled him back
like a fishing rod being reeled in. Vick grabbed Derick and teleported the both
of them to the one place that Vick knew would do nicely.
The landscape swirled around their arrival.
Nothing made a sound. The endlessness was welcoming Vick home. “Home sweet
home,” he said.
Derick tried asking before a tight squeeze from his bindings shut him up. He
seemed to be shaking from pain. Vick has almost forgotten about his injury
Vick laughed. “You’re lucky,” he said. “You’re
the first to see this place. There is nothing here. This AW has no number
anymore. Such a fitting place for someone like me.” Vick’s strings let go of
Derick. It’s not like he can do anythinghe
Derick hit the floor immediately. He used his
right arm to help himself up as his left hung limp. He managed to get himself
into a sitting position. “This… is where you’re from?” he asked. Vick
shrugged, not interested in the slightest. “Do you have any family? Friends?”
“What part of ‘there is nothing here’ do you not
understand?” Vick snapped. His markings glowed in his anger.
Derick flinched at the retribution. “So, you’re
really alone here? That’s—”
“I don’t want your pity. I don’t care anymore.”
Derick looked a bit annoyed at Vick’s
interruption, but thought a bit before talking again. “It hurts, doesn’t it?
Being alone like this?”
“What did I say about pity?” Vick spat daggers.
“And what would you know?”
“Nothing,” Derick shrugged. “I’ve never been
secluded like this. As for my knowledge, only you have. Only you can find a way
to deal with it.”
“It doesn’t affect me anymore.”
Derick laughed. “That’s like saying history is
nonessential. Vick, being numb is not coping. It’s blatant ignorance. You can’t
say you’ve moved on without, well, ‘moving on.’ It’s obvious you haven’t.”
Vick laughed. The longer it went on, the crazier
it was. “That’s what Terrace has been saying all this time. I don’t need two of
him.” Vick’s strings reattached themselves around Derick and lifted him into
the air. Vick opened a portal back to the Prison underneath him. He slammed
Derick down through it and jumped in after. Vick’s strings receded.
Derick hit the floor with the satisfying sound
of bones breaking. Derick shakingly stood up and trudged over to one of the
cells. Vick was about to follow when he saw Lendon, the real him, get flung
into the cell Derick passed. The door cracked open and, well, curse their luck,
Terrace jumped out of the cell. He caught notice of Derick and immediately
generated his paintbrushes and painted him into some state of health. Derick
looked surprised, but didn’t say anything.
Blood walked toward them with a limp. He had
with him a non possessed Cerulean looking emotionally unstable. Blood devil
stared at Lendon. “Don’t you dare mess with Cerulean like that again!” Lendon
only hissed his denial.
Terrace looked between Vick and Lendon. “Your
plan didn’t work,” he said. “Good job! Bravo!” he teased.
“Terrace,” Cerulean rolled his eyes. Terrace
shrugged and teleported out of the Prison.
Cerulean and Derick followed, leaving Blood
Blood stared at an overhead security camera.
“You’re so lazy, Dultin,” he said shaking his head. He left promptly.
Vick sighed. He knew they lost. He caught
Vick knew it was not over yet. Not as long as
they three were there would it ever be over. Vick also smiled. He would be
seeing them soon.
Marley is a 13 year old writer who participated in the Spring 2020 Bad Guy Writing Challenge. Below is her creepy and action-packed short story about a family plagued by a strange nature spirit that roams their house.
It peered down on the family from the tall tree where it had been stationed for the past hour observing them. “Hold on, watch this real quick” says Lili’s dad. Laughs fade to silence, and eyes flick towards him, as he throws a piece of what looks to be plastic into the large bonfire. After only a couple of seconds, the fire bursts out into a beautiful blue color, with purple streaks and if you look hard enough, even a very faint tone of green.
Everyone is silent, observing the fire in awe as the colors fade back into the traditional array of warm colors. As the night takes over on the chilly evening in the town of Springwood Pennsylvania, the Locke family decides to head inside as their bonfire grows smaller. Lili, the second oldest child, with two younger sisters and an older brother, decides to stay out after the rest of the family for just a few minutes. She liked watching when their monthly bonfires slowly die out, especially towards the end of the fire when all the tiny flames dance in the glowing red pieces of wood at the bottom of the pile.
Lili found it very awing that the giant piles of leaves, sticks, branches, and the occasional piece of broken furniture from the home could turn into a way smaller mound of ash that could be disposed of by simply blowing it around the yard. As the last few flames danced in the breeze, she saw something amongst the treeline. Two balls of warm white light, like a reflection. She giggled, because she knew it was her brother hiding trying to scare her as he normally did. However, when there was no response back, she became skeptical. She saw the two reflections go away for only a second, then appear right back in the same spot, like they were blinking. At that point, she was certain it was her brother trying to scare her, and he had simply blinked because he didn’t realise that you could see the reflection of their eyes.
And that’s when the thought hit her- human eyes don’t reflect light, such as the light from the fire which was probably causing it. Lili saw the eyes slowly moving, as if the unknown creature was moving, and then the eyes disappeared into the darkness in the forest. Just then, she heard a large crash from the trees as she had turned to head back to the house. There was another one. Then another. She recognized the sound as falling trees, but there was no noise indicating someone had cut them down such as a chainsaw. They were also falling at a rate that no person could cut down that quickly. One right after another, there must have been two trees falling every five seconds. Spooked, she sprinted back to the house, and ran into the bathroom to shower and get the smell of smoke, which she had grown to love over time, off of her body and out of her long, brown hair. Lili was just turning the water on in the shower when she heard something downstairs fall and break, so she decided to brave the walk down the stairs and see what had happened.
Then she saw it- her mother laying in her husband’s arms. The floor was covered with blood, and there were two huge gashes on the backs of her calves. Lili’s mom, dad, and the kitchen floor were drenched blood spatter, as if something had come behind her and slashed her legs open. Her dad picked up the phone, and tried to call an ambulance, or someone that could help. Just as he had hit the call button, the phone just beeped like there was no service. The only other time she had heard that noise was right after a category 4 hurricane had hit near her home along the border of Pennsylvania, and torn the power lines right in half. How could that be? Lili thought, because the power was still on.
“Dad, I’m going to check on the lines outside to see if something happened to them. Try and figure out what happened to mom!” She grabbed the flashlight off the table, and ran outside to check. As the light flooded the darkness, she saw that a single part of the line was cut cleanly in half. The two halves were swaying as if there was wind that was blowing them around, but there wasn’t. The breeze had gone away. That could only mean one thing, Lili thought. The line had to have been cut very recently if they were still swaying like that. She shined the light around the lines looking for an answer. She didn’t see anything. She was shining the light all the way down both sides of the cables until the light could not shine any further. But when she flashed it back to where it was originally cut, there it was again.
That pair of eyes shining in the darkness. Again, reflecting the light, only this time, it was the flashlight and not the fire. Lili could not see exactly where the eyes were shining, but she felt that they were staring straight into hers. They blinked again, and the creature started moving. It began slowly, and then all at once, began leaping from one post to the next. She was in shock at how it could move like that, because all the posts must have been at least thirty feet apart from each other. Shining the flashlight towards whatever was jumping, she saw a large bony body, light grey in color, and it had almost looked transparent. Lili still had no clue what it could be, but one thing she knew for sure, and that was that it definitely could not be human.
She then ran as quickly as possible back into the house to tell her dad what she had seen. But when she tried getting inside the door, it was locked. She banged on it for someone to let her in, but within twenty seconds no one answered it. So she ran over to grab the ladder and come back in her window that she knew was unlocked. She set the ladder on the house, and climbed up onto a part of the roof, where she then pushed it back down so nothing could follow her, and ran to her window. She had always left it unlocked because the doors sometimes got jammed and they needed a way to get inside the house, but when she went to pull it open, it was locked. She tried every other window, but they were all locked too. Lili ran back to where she had put the ladder so she could get back down and try another way, but when she got there, she realized that she had pushed the ladder down, and she was now stuck on the roof.
Don’t think you’re getting away that easy, sweetheart. It thought. Good luck getting down without a ladder. You want to take my family away from me? Two can play at that game. My nest used to belong where your huge brick nest is that you’re constantly inside. Sleeping, eating, everything. Why your nest is so much bigger than mine was, I don’t know. But I’m going to take care of it. Once and for all. Good luck to you all, Locke’s.
The games have begun. It watched Lili scrambling to the windows looking for a way down, but there was nothing. Windows? Locked. Ladders? Tipped over. There was nothing she could do. The drop down from the first story section of the roof was still a nine foot drop. Curse you, country houses for having such high roofs she thought. Then she remembered she had a trampoline in her back yard. She tried running around on the roof on the first story, but it got blocked off before she was at the point she could jump. So she climbed up onto the second story section, which was very easy as part of it came down close to the first story roofing above the porch.
So she got up there, and eventually made her way around to the back of the house. Looking up from the trampoline onto the roof had not looked like that tall of a drop, but now that she looked where she had to land and how far down it was, she was hesitant. She had to drop nearly two stories and jump out six feet to hit the edge of the trampoline. It was very dark too, since none of the back lights had been turned on because they were motion sensors. This is the only way. I have to do this. For mom. She took a large breath, and jumped as she exhaled, pushing forward with all her strength. She landed on the trampoline, and fell through the padding onto the ground. Could’ve been worse. And then she got up- almost. She noticed that her leg was bent in a way it should not have been bending. That’s when the pain set in. Nothing hurt her until she realized that there was something wrong with her leg and that it was messed up somehow.
The pain quickly seared through her ankle and up to her knee. It was like someone had struck it with a metal club that was on fire. She tried to touch it, but she instantly regretted it as she had touched her ankle directly on the injury. She tried to pull herself to her feet from the metal framing of the trampoline, but when she got on her feet, she fell right back down. What am I supposed to do? Mom and Dad are in serious trouble and I can’t even be there for them! Lili thought, tears rolling down her cheeks, pale from fright. She eventually got on her feet again and began hopping on one foot, headed for the back door. She tried to stand on her hurt foot, but it could not yet support her. So she continued hobbling on her right foot until she reached the back door.
She pulled it open, and walked in between the counters and used them almost like crutches. She turned the corner into the dining room and saw that her mom and dad were still in the same peril state. She bent down and touched her mother’s head, making sure she knew Lili was there too. Her mother slowly looked at her, eyes red and wet. “Lili, honey, you know I love you right?” These words brought tears to Lili’s eyes as well, knowing what the next few following sentences would bring. She nodded. “You know that wherever I may go, I’ll always be right here with you, don’t you?” Her heart dropped. “Yes”. Lili looked up at her dad, who was trying very hard to hide the fact that he was hurting. But Lili could tell he was crying, both on the inside and on the outside.
It was at this moment she realized how much blood her mother had really lost. She didn’t have anything to say. She just bent over and gave her mom a hug. She didn’t care that her shirt was covered in blood at that point, she just cared that she was with her mother, while her mother was still with her. Her dad pulled out his phone to try to call someone one last time, and to everyone’s shock, it worked.
He called an ambulance and they were out in nearly ten minutes. They put Lili’s mom on a stretcher and took her away. At that point her dad quit trying to be strong. He grabbed Lili and held her, sobbing. She held him just at tight as he had. “I love you baby girl” he said. “I love you too dad.” Those were the last words they spoke to each other for the next twenty minutes. Eventually they got in the pickup truck, and headed to the hospital. They weren’t allowed in the ambulance simply because there would have been too many people, but nevertheless, they were on their way.
arrived at the hospital half an hour later, and they sat down in the waiting
room. This gave Lili time to think about everything. What it was, who it was,
what it’s problem was with her family, and why it was trying to hurt them. It
had nearly killed her mother already, who knows what else it could do. She
tried to think about all the stories she’d read as a girl, about all these
different kinds of paranormal and extraterrestrial creatures that may or may
not exist. She’d always been a fan of stories and documentaries on the subject,
but she never thought she would be living in one. She gave herself a list of
things to figure out; what it was, why it was targeting her family, and what it
wanted. She thought and thought for hours on end and never came up with
anything. There was no lead. They hadn’t done anything spiritual that might
have triggered it such as a ouija board. “Hey dad?” He looked over at her.
“Have you ever seen it?”
“That creature, the one that hurt mom?”
“What creature? You know what did this to her?”
“I think so. I went outside to check why you couldn’t call
anyone earlier, and I saw this thing on the power lines. It wasn’t the first
time I had seen it either. Do you remember the other night when we had the
bonfire in the yard?” He nodded. “Along the treeline facing the back of the
house really far away I saw it then too.”
“Are you sure it wasn’t just someone from the other side of
the tree line? There are a couple of houses on the opposite side like ours.” He
“Yeah, I’m sure. Human eyes don’t reflect light, that thing’s did. I have no clue what is going on.” Lili looked down at the cast on her ankle and wondered why she jumped from the highest spot instead of hanging off the edge and dropping. She would have only been a couple feet off the ground. And it would have saved her a lot of pain. It was too late at that point, however. Her thoughts wandered back to her mom. She wondered when she would get to see her, and if she would be okay. About an hour of thinking later, she still had come up with no explanation, nor a place to start.
A nurse came into the waiting room from a door across the room. “Are the Locke’s here?” Lili’s dad shot up from his chair, and Lili followed. She giggled at the fact that there was an indention where her dad had been sitting, but the joke quickly escaped her mind when they walked through the doors into a long hallway. The nurse showed them where Lili’s mom was staying, opened the door to the room, and stepped aside so they could walk in. She let the door close behind them as she continued down the hallway to do her job. The room scared Lili, as there were multiple tubes coming out of her mom’s arms, and machines beeping, over and over. She felt trapped. She watched the heart monitor continue in the same path. With each beep, it would spike, then go back down. Then again, and again, and again. It never sped up, it never slowed down. Until it did.
“Hey mom, can you hear me?” No response. The nurse had told
them that because of the medicine she had given her, she might be unresponsive
because she was sleeping. Lili reached for her hand, and laid hers on top of
“I know you’re in there, mom. Keep fighting. Don’t give up on us. You can’t give up on us. I need you.” Silence followed by the beeping of the monitor. Then it began speeding up. A lot. Doctors burst into the room and ordered the family out. So they left the room in a panic. They turned to look from outside the window on the side, but the curtain closed on them. They could hear faint shouting coming from the other side of the room.
“Is she going to be okay, Dad? Please tell me she is going
to be fine.” He did not respond for a few seconds.
“I don’t know yet, Tiger.” Tiger. She’d been called Tiger once before by her dad, and that was when she fell off of her bicycle when she was younger and broke her arm. That sent a wave of shock over her, and her heart dropped yet again. The same nurse began walking towards them from the direction she had left earlier, and ushered them to another waiting room. There were no people in this one, and it was much smaller. This room had to be four times smaller than the normal one, with only ten chairs and a small coffee table. A TV was mounted to the wall, and it was broadcasting some little kid show Lili had never seen before. Just like in any other waiting room, the volume had been turned down very quiet. In that room they sat.
One hour, two hours, three hours. The room had gradually become darker as dusk had set in. Finally, someone had come into the room. By that point, both Lili and her dad were dozing off, and the sudden burst of the door startled them both awake. It took them a second to realize where they were but once they did, the doctor took them to see Lili’s mom. The doctor said that she had a seizure, but that she was stable as of right now. Lili walked over to see her mother with bags under her eyes. Meanwhile, the creature was trying to find where the Locke’s were at. They were not inside nor outside the house. It had checked already. Maybe I finally got rid of that stupid family. They decided to take my family away from me, don’t think I’ve forgotten that easily. The creature posted up on the roof, scanning the surrounding area for signs of the family. But when nothing came up, it moved on. I’ll be back in the morning. Prepare yourselves Lockes. I will get my revenge. Don’t you doubt it for a second. And just as quickly as it had appeared, it sped off into the treeline.
drove away from the hospital, Lili’s mother began to speak. “I’m still so
confused as to what happened.”
“Something attacked you, Mom. What do you remember? Did you
see it? Hear it? Tell me everything.” Lili said.
“I didn’t see much, all I remember was that I was at the
counter making sandwiches for dinner that night, and something knocked me to
the ground. I could not see what it was, I just felt a sharp pain in the backs
of my legs. When I turned around to see what happened, nothing was there. I
tried to scream for someone to come help me, but I couldn’t. I don’t know why,
but I couldn’t. Then I passed out and woke up in that hospital bed.”
Lili pondered on this for a bit. If that creature she had
seen multiple times before was the culprit, it would make sense. Her mother
said it was quiet, and she never heard anything. Lili didn’t hear anything when
it was leaping away on the telephone poles. Her mom said it was so fast she could
not see it. That thing had been pretty quick when Lili saw it. It all
Okay, well at least I’ve got somewhere to start now Lili
thought. I know now that the creature I saw was probably what hurt mom. I still
don’t have the why, but at least I have the who. The Lockes got home, and at
that point it was nearly two in the morning, so everyone went to bed.
When Lili woke up the next morning, she went downstairs to make herself some breakfast, thinking this whole thing would be over and done with. But after her parents did not come down stairs, she became skeptical. She went upstairs to check on them at about noon, which was way late for them to get up, as they are early risers and are usually out and about by nine. She opened the door to her parents room, but they were not there. Lili searched the whole house, but could not find anyone. She soon pulled out her phone, and called her dad. No answer. Then she tried her mom. No answer. She went outside to look for them out there, because sometimes they liked to go out to the pastures and groom the horses and milk the cows. But they were not there.
In fact, nothing was there. The cows were all gone, and so were the horses and chickens. She checked and even the eggs were gone from the coop. This had never happened before. She tried calling again, but there was still no answer. Eventually she began running back to the house, and called her mom one more time. This time, instead of hearing her own phone ring, she heard her mom’s ringtone going off in the distance. Confused and terrified, she called again and again, until she found the source of the sound. Lili found both of her parents’s phones laying right next to each other, perfectly straight. None of this made any sense. And then that is when she saw the eyes again. Along the treeline yet again, but instead of being at her house looking towards the trees, she was only yards away. They blinked, and moved forward. It was at this moment Lili realized how large the creature really was, towering above her nearly as tall as her house did.
“Lili, I see we finally meet face to face.” She heard the
voice, it was deep and monotone. She did not see a mouth for a moment, because
the creature was black. Really black. Darker than the night sky. When she did
eventually find it, it looked like someone had attempted to stitch it closed
and failed. Skin stretched between the lips as it’s mouth opened, making it
even more terrifying than it was before. “Who are you, and what do you want
with me? Where are my mom and dad?” Lili shouted at the creature.
“Me? I’m surprised you don’t remember me, Lili Locke.” A
shiver ran down her back.
“Who are you!” She screamed.
“Oh honey, you shouldn’t be worried about me. It is your
parents you should be concerned about. Do you know where they are?” Silence.
“Oh, that’s right. I have them. You guys took my family from me and left me
alone for years, so I am going to do the same to you, Lili Locke.”
“Why are you doing this?” She shouted at it, tears beginning
to sting her eyes.
“You killed my family when you built this house. You took
away the only people I have ever loved. So I am going to do the same to you.” The creature pulled out
an arm with long, sharp looking fingers, which only added to the terrifying
aspect of this creature. It pointed behind the tree line, where there was an
open area. It was at this point she saw her mother and father, wrapped in
web-like material, from there feet to their necks. They were motionless and
their eyes were closed. “What family are you talking about? Who did we take
“My mother, my father, and my brothers and sisters. When you burned down the forest to create this area of land to build your giant house on, you burned my family’s home. I was the only lucky one that was able to get out!”
even are you?” Lili asked.
“That doesn’t matter! Who do you all think you are, to come
to my forrest, burn it all, and claim the land as your own? Why should you get
to keep your family, but I lost mine?”
“Because I didn’t do anything to deserve to lose my family!”
“And you think I did? I was very young, I had known my
family for less then a year! You’ve had yours way longer, and it’s finally time
you feel what i’ve felt all along.” Lili went stiff as a board. She had no clue
what to say.
“We aren’t the ones who burned your forest! This house has been here longer then any of us have been alive!” Even though Lili knew this was a lie, she had to try everything she could in order to save her family. Years ago, many before she was born, they had bought out the plot of land and burned it to make a new life here. They had hundreds of acres of forest burned down for them, and never replanted a single tree.
“LIES! I watched your father light the match and toss it at
the tree! Don’t try and lie to me, Lili Locke, you WILL regret it.” the
creature got closer to her face. This made Lili very uncomfortable, and she
“I’ve seen what your family can and will do to get their
way. And I think it’s finally time they pay for that, don’t you?”
“Please, you’ve got to take piddy on me, I wasn’t even alive
yet when it happened, please don’t punish me!”
“It’s too late. Begging isn’t going to do anything. I wish
you would see that already.” The creature leaped over the tall trees back into
the clearing where Lili’s parents were being kept. She sprinted as fast as
possible towards them, and stood in front of them. She shook them aggressively,
but they did not come out of their state.
“Wake up! Mom! Dad! Don’t leave me like this!!” she
screamed, but it was useless.
“Move child, or you’re going with them.” The creature said.
She did not budge. Lili simply stood there in between her parents, as if she
was guarding them.
“Dang it kid, I said move!” The creature was now only half a
foot away from her face. She could feel it breathing on her as she reached up
and grabbed it’s head. She punched it multiple times, until eventually it threw
her off of him. Thats when something happened that no one expected. Lili’s eyes
shone bright green beams of light, and began rising into the sky.
“Let. Them. Go. Now.” She said.
“Silly girl, haven’t you realized by now-” he was cut off.
The same green appeared in his eyes that were in Lili’s eyes.
happening?” it cried. Lili watched as it began fading colors, shifting grey,
then white, until it was nearly transparent. Thats when everything began to pan
out. With the loudest BOOM Lili had ever heard, the creature was gone. The
explosion sent her flying backwards towards the ground, and she blacked out.
When she came to, she saw her mom standing over her. She sat up, wondering what
“Where am I?” she asked. Her mom simply giggled.
“Honey, you’re still in bed. It’s time to wake up, you’ve
slept way longer than usual. Are you feeling alright?” Lili was just confused
at this point.
“Wait, but how did you get out of the web nets?” Her parents
now looked as confused as Lili.
“What web nets, you crazy?” Her mom said, laughing.
“The ones the creature wrapped you up in! You and dad were
both stuck and when I tried to shake you awake, you didn’t wake up!”
“Sweetheart, I think you’ve been dreaming a lot lately. Come
on, I made breakfast. It’s your favorite, scrambled eggs, toast, and bacon!
It’s real bacon this time too, not the turkey bacon you said you didn’t like.
But I don’t understand how you don’t like turkey bacon, I honestly like it more
than normal bacon. Come down when you’re dressed.” She turned and walked away.
Lili looked at the back of her moms legs as she walked out, and there were no
signs of cuts. Not even any scars. She got up and looked in the mirror. Her
eyes weren’t green anymore. Just her normal blue. Maybe it was all just a dream
She thought. But it felt so real! It was like I was right there. Even now that
I know it was just a dream, it still feels like i’m going to walk into the
kitchen and see mom laying on the floor in peril again. Lili got dressed, and
headed down stairs. Her mom greeted her in the kitchen with a hug, and handed
her a glass plate to get her food. Lili looked at all the amazing food, and it
smelled so good. She couldn’t wait to dig in, but she let her mom get her food
first since she cooked it all.
“Hey, where is dad at? I haven’t seen him yet today.” Lili
“Oh, he just went out to do some work around the pastures,
fixing old broken boards and that horrible old gate. He went out to get wood
and stuff last night to fix it. Said it should all be done around supper time.”
Lili wondered if she should help him or not
“Do you think he would want any help? I don’t think I have
anything to do today. I finished the replica you told me to build.”
“I’m sure he would love some help, honey. You can go out
there after you’re done eating. Did you sleep well?”
“Yeah.” She was reminded of the dream again. She sat down at
the dining table across from her mom, and began eating. So much happened in so
little time, I still can’t believe it was only a dream.
Olivia is a 15 year old writer who has participated in many of the library’s writing challenges, including last summer’s Voyager Writing Challenge and this spring’s Bad Guy Writing Challenge. Neutral Zone is a science fiction story that leads the main character through multiple universes to battle against his alternate self!
Check it out below!
Derick slouched in his chair. The seemingly endless babble of his History teacher discouraged any interest he had in the Industrial Revolution, which was none in the first place. He just wanted the class to be over and the weekend to start. He stared blankly at his History book, trying to make sense of it. His teacher was not even talking about the Industrial Revolution at this point, instead about a bet that he made with one of Derick’s classmates. It was something about a race around the school with Derick’s fastest classmate.
Derick shrugged and tried to fill out notes for
the section. He hurried through them, barely reading the section, so he could
finish before the bell, which was supposed to go off in five minutes.
When the clock was in the last minute, Derick
could hear the sea of eager children quickly stacking all the stuff they had in
messy piles on their desks. He was doing it too, so he had no room to judge.
The bell rang and Derick almost had to run out
of the classroom to get to his locker before the hallway became too crowded. He
shoved his stuff in his backpack, closed his locker, and was out the door
before someone could count to ten.
“Hey, dude!” called someone from behind him.
Derick looked over his shoulder to find his friend Chris running after him.
“You’re taking me home today, remember? And what’s got you hurrying?”
“Sorry, I forgot,” Derick answered as he slowed
down a bit for Chris to catch up. “And Mom’s got to go for her yearly check up
today. I didn’t want to miss my chance.”
“You knew I was coming you dumb nut, and okay.”
They both continued to run to Derick’s mom’s car. The red minivan was not hard
to miss. Sprinting across the parking lot was not their best idea, Derick
admitted, but they did get there faster than they would have any other way.
“Boys!” Derick’s mom exclaimed once they got in
“Sorry for Sprinting,” Derick apologized. “But
the car was over the Verizon.” He added gun fingers.
“Derick no!” Chris said, threatening to get out
of his seat and leave.
“Derick yes!” Derick
retorted. He loved to mess with Chris like that.
His mom sighed. “Can we not have one moment of
peace?” she asked wishfully.
“Nope,” Derick and Chris said at the same time.
The drive home was a quick three minutes. Derick’s
mom dropped them at the front door and drove off. Derick walked up to the door
and rummaged around in his pocket to find the key to the house…
Of which he accidentally left in the long gone
red minivan that belongs to his mom. He face palmed.
“You left the key in the car, didn’t you?” Chris
asked, already knowing the answer.
“Yep,” Derick said.
“Dude, you have a problem. That’s the third time
“And your mom’s going to kill you next time you
“Just saying.” Chris sat down on the front step.
“You know, that cloud looks like a dragon.”
Derick joined him. “No, it looks like a Star
Destroyer from Star Wars.”
“You and your Star Wars.” Chris said, shaking
something that sounded like a bomb went off in his backyard. He noticed Chris
was not put off by it. Derick wondered if he was hearing things, but he figured
it would be safe to check anyway.
“Hey, I’m gonna go check on something,” he told
Chris while trying to strain his neck around to see his backyard.
“Sure dude,” Chris shrugged and went back to
stabbing the ground with sticks he found laying in the grass. Derick rolled his
Derick quickly climbed over his fence to see
what was going on. He could not believe what he saw. There was a huge crater in
the middle of his backyard. In the center was a short person, about a head
shorter than Derick. He wore a tan short-sleeve shirt with one light green
triangle in the center of the sleeve. The tan color matched the color of his
skin pretty well, but his skin was a tad bit lighter. Under it was an orange
shirt with sleeves that reached his elbows. It was matched with dark brown
cargo shorts. He had light blue shoes on and a sash that contained little
containers full of paint that was pretty much every color of the rainbow. He
had dark brown hair, the color matched Derick’s, and different colored eyes
which seemed to change every few seconds. Some black paint was splatted near
where his nose was, but he did not seem to notice.
only had about a thousand questions for him, but another person was hovering in
the air. Derick looked again and realized that he was not hovering, but sitting
on a swing made of blood red strings. The strings seemed to be coming from
markings on his arms. He wore a black t-shirt with grey sweats. He had on black
shoes. His skin was a dark brown and his hair pitch black. His crazed grin sent
a shiver down Derick’s spine. He had a bad feeling about this.
“It’s all your fault, Terrace,” the person on the
swing said. “If you let me do my job, we wouldn’t be here, would we?”
“If I let you do your ‘job,’ Vick,” Terrace
said. Derick assumed that was his name because the other person said so. “There
wouldn’t be anything left!”
glad both of them had not noticed him yet. They both looked piping mad at each
other and he wanted no part in that. He tried sneaking back over the fence. It
was going well, he almost made it over.
Another chill went down his spine. He felt like
he was being watched. He froze, not daring to move.
“Well, what do we have here?” sneered Vick.
Derick could tell it was him because his voice was a lot harsher than
“Gosh darn it,” Derick mumbled to himself. He
turned his head back around. He saw both of them now staring at him.
Terrace had a terrified look on his face while
Vick continued to smile. Vick pointed his hand at Derick and his markings
started to glow.
“Don’t do it Vick!” Terrace yelled. “You can’t
kill him! This is the original AW, don’t you know that?” He pronounced ‘AW’ as
two individual letters.
Derick was confused. He had no idea what was
Vick lowered his hand and his markings stopped
glowing. “What makes you think I was gonna kill him?” he asked Terrace. “You
brought us here anyway.”
“No I didn’t!” Terrace yelled back. “You did!”
Derick noticed that, at this point, their battle
had been forgotten and they now resorted to bickering with each other. Derick
used this time to finish making his way over the fence. He could not leave them
like that in his backyard, so he used a crack in the fence to watch them.
“Hi!” someone exclaimed next to Derick. He
jumped back and turned to look at the person. He was wearing a light grey
t-shirt and dark blue basketball shorts. He had on light blue shoes, which
matched the color of the scarf he had around his neck. His skin tone was the
same as Derick’s, a tan color, light brown hair, and, to Derick’s surprise,
green eyes. He had on a big smile.
“What are you doing here?” Derick asked. He had
no idea who this person was. “It isn’t safe!”
“You mean them?” The person pointed at the
fence, but Derick knew what he meant. “They always do that! That’ll be over
soon!” He giggled. “I’m Cerulean by the way!”
Derick shook Cerulean’s outstretched hand.
“You know them?”
“Of course I do! Terrace is my friend! He helped
create the multiverse and the AWs! Vick destroys the AWs.”
“Hold up, what multiverse?
That’s just a dumb theory. It’s not real!”
“You better believe it! Where you live is called
an Alternate World, or AW for short! Your AW is the first one and mine’s the
“Nope! Derick, everything I said was true!”
“How do you know my name?” Cerulean did not
answer. “I don’t remember telling you.”
Cerulean took a deep breath in and out. “Derick,
Something blasted the fence gate and destroyed
it. Cerulean and Derick ducked for cover. When he looked up, Derick saw Terrace
run over towards them. “Cerulean!?” he called frantically.
“I’m here!” Cerulean called back from behind a
bush. Terrace looked relieved. “So is Derick!” Cerulean added.
“I’m over here!” Derick
called. He and Cerulean got up from behind the bushes. Derick quickly looked at
the damage to the fence gate. He could not even recognize that there was a
fence there. He further looked around the wreckage into his backyard to check
“What happened?” He heard Cerulean ask Terrace
“Well, Vick and I were arguing for a bit and,
well, you know how unstable he is,
he…uh…” Terrace stumbled around for words to
describe it. “Kinda wrapped his strings around part of the porch and threw it
at me. I dodged and it hit the gate. Then I laughed at him for missing me and
he tried to hit me with a fence post. He stormed off to who-knows-where.”
“Man! How am
I going to explain this!” Derick exclaimed. “I’m home for ten minutes and my
backyard looks like I was experimenting with nukes and accidentally exploded
one!” Derick was freaking out.
“Derick!” Terrace yelled. Derick stopped. “I can
fix this, just give me a sec!”
“Really?” Derick scoffed. “This is not a one man jo—” Terrace generated
two paint brushes out of thin air and, with a determined look in his eyes,
proceeded to draw Derick’s backyard back to its original state.
“How?” Derick gaped. He was in shock.
“Terrace is the god of Creativity,” Cerulean
“Oh.” Derick recalled Cerulean saying something
like that earlier.
“Oh yeah! I was going to tell you how I knew
“I would still like to know.”
“Well, so, basically, I’M YOU IN MY AW!”
Derick was surprised. He did not see the
connection until then. “So are Terrace and Vick?”
“Yes,” Cerulean said, with less enthusiasm.
“What’s with the nicknames then?”
“Derick, you are more important than you
Terrace started laughing, much to both of their
surprise. They both looked at him weirdly. “What?” Terrace asked.
“Does he always do that?” Derick asked Cerulean
“Yes, but sometimes it’s a bit different. The
other day, he got really mad at me for no reason. A second later, he apologized
to me for it and claimed he didn’t know what got over him. I think he’s keeping
something from me.” Cerulean whispered back.
“ ‘I got a bad feeling about this,’ ” Derick
said in his best impersonation of Han Solo. Cerulean laughed.
“You want to see something cool?” Cerulean asked
“Sure,” Derick said, winking
one eye and smiling.
Cerulean bounded over to Terrace. “Terrace!! Can
we show him the place??” he asked.
“Which place?” Terrace asked playfully. Derick
could tell Terrace knew which place Cerulean was talking about.
“You know what place, silly!” Cerulean smiled.
“Okay,” Terrace said. “I guess I can do that.”
“Yay!” Cerulean cheered. “Come on, Derick!”
Terrace drew a big portal-like thing with his paint brushes, stepped in, and
disappeared. Cerulean did the same.
Derick did not know if he wanted to go with some
strangers to some place. Scratch that, he wanted to go, he just did not know if
he should. He figured a few moments could not hurt, so he walked through the
portal. Gotta trust myself at some pointhe
Derick had to take a step back. The
teleportation made him a bit queasy, but Terrace reassured him that it was only
because it was his first time.
“Derick, welcome to AW 10,” Terrace said. “Or,
specifically, to Upmost, Earth satellite and a hospitable place for humans.”
At the moment, Derick realized…
He was in space.
Derick had to step back to take in the
breathtaking view of the Earth from space. He could see the sun peaking out
from just over the horizon the Earth made.
“Wait, how can we breathe up here?” Derick
“This place is covered by a sort of force
field,” Cerulean explained. “I’m not sure exactly how it works, but in the
building over there is a generator that generates oxygen.” Cerulean gestured
toward a whitish-grey covered building in the distance. The building seemed to
be laid out in sections and each section was connected by some sort of
“Here comes the head man,” Terrace announced.
Derick saw someone emerge from the building. He was taller than all of them and
wore a white lab coat over a dark gray shirt. “Derick, this is Astro. He’s a
future you that’s a scientist. He also runs things around here.”
“Hello,” Astro said. Derick gave him a small
wave. Astro turned his attention towards Terrace. “Terrace, I don’t mind that
you come here, but you have to tell me beforehand, got it?”
“Sorry,” Terrace apologized. “But I had to show
Derick around, Cerulean begged me.”
“This is your one pass,” Astro said.
“Hey Derick!” Cerulean pulled on Derick’s shirt.
“How about I show you around?”
“Okay.” Derick followed Cerulean inside the
barely paid attention to Cerulean giving him a tour. He really was fascinated
by the structure, but he was not feeling well. Shortly after entering the
building, he heard a ringing sound in his ears. After a while, he also felt
“Hey, Cerulean?” Derick started to ask. “Is it
hot in here or what?”
“Derick, are you okay?” Cerulean asked. “This
room is practically a big freezer for all the food here.”
“Nah, I’m fine,” Derick lied. His vision started
to blur. His knees buckled and he fell forward.
“Derick!” Cerulean screamed, but Derick did not
hear him. He had blacked out.
Derick opened his eyes. He seemed to still be in
the building. The air was musty with the smell of blood. A strange fog covered
the area, giving it an eerie feel. Derick started walking around. He saw a
shadowy outline in the fog. After getting a bit closer, he identified the
outline as Cerulean.
Cerulean was really beat up. He had generated
some sort of weapon that hung loosely in his right hand. Derick made a mental
note to ask about it later.
Cerulean noticed Derick. “What are you doing
here? It’s not safe!” Derick heard laughter behind him. “Watch out!” Cerulean
yelled. Derick turned around to try and identify what the threat was. He tried
to move, but he was not fast enough.
could feel the terrible pain of a knife piercing his side. His hands flew to
the place where the knife was. He could feel his blood on it. In front of him,
he saw another outline in the fog.
“Who—” Derick started to say but was interrupted
by a coughing fit. He could feel blood trickling down from his mouth. “Who are
you?” he rasped.
“Who am I?” The person stepped out of the fog.
He was wearing a black hoodie and black sweatpants. His hood was pulled over
his eye line and he held another knife. “I’m you, but everyone calls me Blood.”
closer to Derick. “It’s so nice to haunt your dreams. Too bad you’re not
actually here. This would have been so much more fun if so.” Derick only
stared. He knew he did not have the strength to run.
Blood stood in front of Derick. He smiled. “You
must have thought Vick was the only one.” Blood pulled out the knife that was
wedged in Derick. The ripping motion reopened the wound and blood flowed out of
it. Derick desperately tried to stop the blood flow with his hands and, while
doing so, sank to his knees. He felt a hand grip his hair, forcing his head to
tilt upward. He saw Blood’s merciless eyes staring back.
“Silly,” he laughed. “There are a lot of us.”
Blood stabbed Derick again. “Goodbye, for now.”
Derick jolted awake. He saw Terrace and Cerulean
staring at him. He grew a little uncomfortable. He seemed to be in some sort of
infirmary. “Welcome back, Derick,” he heard Astro say. Derick got up from what
resembled a hospital bed. He felt a weird pain from his side.
The pain was
close to nothing, but it was enough to remind Derick about his dream, if it
could even be called that. He could still perfectly picture the knife in his
side and Blood laughing at him. He all of a sudden wanted to get out of the
Derick walked out of the room before anyone
could say anything. Somehow, his feet remembered which way he entered from. He
could hear Cerulean following him; Derick knew it was him because he was
calling Derick’s name. He continued on.
found his way to the exit. He was going to open the door, but his side started
hurting more. He figured it was because he had been running, so he casted it
aside. He tried to open the door again, but Cerulean caught up with him.
“Derick!” Cerulean yelled. “What’s wrong?”
“Nothing,” Derick said. “I just need some fresh
air.” He reached again for the handle.
“That’s not a good reason why you bolted off!”
At this point, Derick’s side was throbbing
with pain. Derick opened the door.
planning on going through the door, but he did not. He took a step back and
stared forward. Speak of the devilDerick
“What’s wrong?” Cerulean asked. He also looked
forward and flinched.
“Aww, this is so cute,” Blood said. “I actually
get to kill someone.”
“When you said ‘for now,’ I didn’t think you
meant in five minutes,” Derick said, trying to be funny for his own sake.
Blood was obviously not amused. “Your humor is
stupid,” he said. He took a step forward. Out of the corner of his eye Derick
saw Cerulean generate a slingshot. That’swhat that wasDerick
“Don’t come any closer!” Cerulean warned.
“Or what? You’re going to hit me with that?”
Blood laughed. “You can’t aim!”
“Yes I can!” To prove his point, Cerulean flung
a rock like object at Blood. It hit him in the face. It did not seem to hurt
him, but it did surprise him.
Blood was furious. He generated a knife. “This
has your name on it Cerulean.”
“Get behind me, Derick,” Cerulean ordered “So he
can’t hit you.” Derick did what he was told.
did,” Blood smiled. He snapped his fingers. Derick’s side started hurting as
much as it did in his dream. Again, he imagined a knife in his side. He grabbed
onto Cerulean’s shirt to try to stay standing.
“Derick!” Cerulean shrieked. He put his arms
around Derick to steady him. Cerulean looked back at Blood “What did you do?!”
“No, Cerulean,” Blood shook his head “It’s ‘what
did you do?’” Cerulean flinched. “You’ve kept the truth long enough. Heck,
you’ve lied to keep the truth. Now what kind of friend is that?”
“Cerulean, what is he talking about?” Derick
asked. He was skeptical about what Blood was saying but Cerulean’s reaction
made it seem like it was true. “What truth?”
“It’s nothing,” Cerulean said. Cerulean did not
make eye contact with Derick.
“‘Nothing’? I’ve been living ‘nothing’ my whole
life?!” Blood spat. “I’m only here because of you! Do you know what it’s like
to be made of someone’s insecurities? Huh?”
“I didn’t know it would turn out like this!”
“Oh, so you ‘didn’t know’ you were lying about
Terrace? Is that how this is going? And now you’re pulling not just another
person, but the original into this?”
Derick was completely lost. The pain in his side
subsided, finally, but Cerulean would not let go of him. Somehow, he felt like
he needed to be strong for Cerulean. “I don’t get it,” Derick asked. “Who are
you?” He directed the question at Blood.
Cerulean answered. “He’s me, Derick.” Derick
just stared at him. “In my… our AW, people are born with the natural ability to
do magic. Some are better than others. And you can be whatever you want to be!”
“But that’s true for everyone…?” Derick half
“Well, I took it more literal than everyone else. I wanted to be the
best me I could be by locking away almost all of my negative traits. It took
almost all of my magic to do, but I was a better person. I loved it!
“Over time, all those negative feelings grew a
literal mind of their own. First, it was just nightmares. Those nightmares gave
me back my regret. And then, after a while, they had a body that followed me
around like a ghost. He was stable at first. He gave me criticism, but I mostly
“You actually heard me?” Blood looked surprised.
“Yes,” Cerulean answered. “Anyway, I met at Terrace
one day. I showed Terrace around my home, and we became friends. When he asked
if I wanted to go with him, I immediately said yes. He showed me his favorite
places in the AWs, and we had fun. During this, I didn’t realize my negative
ghost was gone. When I finally did, I was concerned, actually.
“Yeah right,” Blood scoffed.
”I’m not kidding. I was so used to the constant
commentary that I felt weird without it. Well, the days went on and I met
Blood, he was calling himself that, truly on accident. I recognized him
“So you’ve lied about this instead of telling
the truth?” Derick pieced together. “I know the truth is very important. While
you were telling the story, did you realize Blood lost the insane look he had
before?” Cerulean was stunned. So was Blood. “The more you lied, the more piled
on Blood, the more crazy he seemed, and the more positive you were.” As a joke,
he added. “Come on, you guys do magic. You’re, like, ten times more powerful
than me.” Cerulean laughed. Blood chuckled a bit too.
“You are going to explain to him this one,”
Cerulean said to Blood.
“Fine,” Blood took a deep breath. “Derick, you
know you are the original, right?”
“Yes?” Derick said. He did not know why that
“You get certain powers because of that. The
most important one is that if you die outside your AW, all other yous die and
all AWs collapse and there goes the multiverse. You can traverse the multiverse
without help and…um…”
“We don’t know all of those powers,” Cerulean finished.
“Wow,” Derick said. “That’s awesome! I have one
“Shoot for it,” Cerulean said.
“Are you ready to tell Terrace?”
“I don’t know. I’ll need time. I’ve known him
longer and I don’t know if he’ll take it well.”
“We’ll tell him together, all three of us,”
Derick assured Cerulean. “In about five seconds.”
“What?!” Cerulean and Blood said at the same
The door slammed open. “Oh my gosh! Did someone
die?” Terrace demanded. Derick saw that he had his paintbrushes out.
“Everyone is alive!” Derick yelled back.
“Not while he’s here!” Terrace started at Blood.
Cerulean stepped in between them.
“We have something to tell you,” Cerulean said.
It took a while, but the three of them told
Terrace the whole story. Terrace took it surprisingly well.
“Do we have to tell Astro that Terrace broke the
door?” Derick asked.
“Nah, Terrace will fix it,” Cerulean assured
“He was you the whole time?!” Terrace asked.
Cerulean nodded. “Why didn’t you tell me?”
“I didn’t want to think less of me,” Cerulean
admitted. “And I was ashamed of it.” “Cerulean, you’re my friend. I would
never.” Terrace gave Cerulean a reassuring smile.
Derick was happy for the two. He could not help
but glance in Blood’s direction. “So,” Derick started. “What will you do now? I
mean, you have things sorted out with Cerulean, and you’re done with that knife
trick of yours.”
“Who said I was?” Blood smirked. Derick felt a
bit of pain from his side. He elbowed Blood. “Hey, I was kidding.”
“How do you do that anyway?” Derick asked.
“Magic.” Blood grinned. Derick glared at him.
“Well, I don’t know what I’m going to do now.”
“This may seem stupid, but what if you helped
“Me?” Blood laughed. “I’m the literal opposite
of the hero type.”
“Cerulean just admitted to being ashamed. Maybe
you two share some emotions instead of trade them off.”
“Derick, I’ve killed a lot of people. How am I
going to come back from that?”
“One step at a time. You’ll have to give
yourself some sort of chance at redemption.”
“You are very hopeful.” Blood stared up at the
stars. “I’ll consider it.”
Derick smiled. He noticed that Astro was coming
out of the building. “Terrace! The door!” Derick shouted.
“Shoot!” Terrace exclaimed. He quickly repainted
the door. It reminded Derick about his yard. For the first time during the
trip, Derick felt homesick.
He chuckled to himself. “Man, my life will never
be the same after this,” he said.
“Welcome to the club,” Blood said. “If Cerulean
doesn’t throw off any more negativity, I can finally act sane for once. It’ll
be nice.” He smiled.
“Derick! Are you ready to go home?” Terrace
“Not yet!” Derick called back. He looked at
Blood. “After all you put me through, I’m going to miss you.”
“Heh, me too,” Blood said. “I might just have to
invade your dreams again.”
“If you do, pick somewhere less creepy, okay?”
Derick and Blood both laughed. Derick had a feeling that, deep down, something
sparked in Blood.
“In that case, see you on the flip side,” Blood said.
“Make sure you talk to Cerulean, it looks like he has something for you.”
“Okay,” Derick waved back at Blood before
walking over to Cerulean.
“Oh, Derick!” Cerulean said. “Thank you for
giving me another chance! I did a terrible thing and I told big lies to cover
it up and I just went about it the wrong way and I really should have known
better and—” Cerulean was almost in tears.
“Cerulean,” Derick said, cutting Cerulean off.
He looked Cerulean in the eyes. “It’s okay. Making mistakes is what makes us
human. It’s not healthy to beat yourself up about it. You have to accept that
you did something wrong so you can move on.”
“I don’t think Blood will let me.”
“Yes he will. He’s as done with the lies as you
Cerulean grinned. “Thank you, again, Derick.”
“That reminds me!” Cerulean held out a piece of
paper. “It’s my number. If you need anything, just ask!”
“Okay, give me a quick second,” Terrace created
a portal. “See you, Derick.”
“Come by anytime, Terrace!” Derick smiled. He went through the portal
and ended up back in his backyard. He waved at his new friends through the
portal before it closed. He climbed back over his fence.
“Hey dude,” Chris said. “Did you see something?”
“Well,” Derick looked back at his backyard. “I
guess you could say that.”
Derick’s mom was disappointed with Derick. After
she dropped Chris back at his house, she talked to Derick about being
responsible with things that were not his. Derick promised to do better.
After dinner, when Derick had enough time to
himself, he whipped out his phone. He took out the slip of paper in his pocket.
He entered in Cerulean’s phone number. He was about to close the contact when
he saw the words “dial (-) first” scribbled on the back of the slip. He
completed the contact. He took a deep breath. He hoped it worked and he would
not accidentally text some random person instead. He texted “Heya, it’s Derick.”
The response was almost instant. “Hi Derick!
It’s Cerulean!” Derick smiled. He had a feeling he would see him again soon.
Above everything, he was really tired. He had had too much excitement for one
day. He said good night to his parents and went to bed.
It did not last long. Derick woke up to a
crashing sound. He reached over to his light switch and flicked it on. He saw
Cerulean tangled up in a cord. Derick was not sure what it was to. “Why are you
here, Cerulean?” he said groggily. “It’s probably midnight.”
“It’s eleven,” Cerulean said. “And we need your
“Why didn’t you call me?” Derick was not fully
awake. He was not thinking straight.
“This calls for drastic measures!” Cerulean gave
someone behind Derick a thumbs up.
In an instant, Derick felt a cold liquid poor
down his shirt. That woke him up.
“What the—” Derick started to say. He looked
behind him. He saw Blood laughing his head off. “Guys, my parents!”
E is 16 years old and participated in the Bad Guy Writing Challenge in April 2020. E completed a intense short story about a bitter villain desperately trying to overcome the constant thwarting of the world’s luckiest superhero! This story is great for fans of Deadpool and Despicable Me!
Enjoy E’s story below!
Chapter 1: Mike’s Perspective
I mean duh I’m the bad guy it’s not rocket science though if someone does know rocket science could you teach me. Any who I’m getting off point and talking to a fourth wall probably isn’t the best thing to do right now. Cheerful McGee is over there once again monologuing about JUSTICE and THE POWER OF FRIENDSHIP which gets annoying after the 20th time of doing it like hey us villains don’t have all day. The more he monologues the more his face looks punchable. Now you must be wondering what have I gotten myself into and who is this random person?
It’s Mike by the way yeah I have a villain name but since you’re seeing it from my side I might as well give a somewhat okay introduction. And what I’m doing is facing off with Happy Go Lucky once more the hero who always has a smile and luck on his hands I MEAN IS LUCK EVEN A SUPERPOWER looking at you Ladybug and Domino. Oh great now he’s looking at me he must have finished monologuing and now is waiting for a comeback think Mike think. Oh here I turn to HGL and say “Well justice may be your partner BUT VILLAINY IS MINE!” I let off an evil laugh to punctuate it but that was a terrible line. He reels up with one of his arms ready to punch at me but I really don’t want to deal with this dude. I mean you guys are here and he wins every time so why even bother.
Villains get tired of mundane routines, daily thwartings, and ending up in jail. I just needed to get something from one of my dealers but here’s HGL dealer knocked out behind him with that GRIN THAT AWFUL GRIN on his face. Then he and I had traded one liners then he had monologued and now here we are. As he aimed for my face with his punch I had completely forgotten to shield myself because I was talking with you guys. When his fist connected with my face I felt my nose crack and I just decided in that time and moment that I SHOULD RUN AWAY so I did. As he was reeling up for his next punch I turned around and booked it.
Now you may be wondering, does he have a superpower to let him get away? Short answer is no I don’t have a superpower to get away my superpower is well my creativity its stupid yes but it lets me create my invention plans on a whim and is able to allow me to talk with you guys it also lets me come up with henchmen but even that isn’t enough to stop HGL. I hear HGL’s heavy footsteps behind me as he chases after I just need to come up with a small escape route good enough to get HGL off my tail. I spot another alley way up ahead and turn into it hoping that there is a fire escape stairway. I do indeed see a fire escape, I immediately run faster scrambling up the ladder to the stairs. I could hear HGL just enter the alley. He may have luck on his side but speed was not even if he is fit a man like that is still slower than me. I got to the stairs and ran up them and by then HGL had gotten to the bottom of the ladder but it was much smaller than him which led to him having some difficulty trying to scale it which allowed me more time to escape. I got to the rooftop and judged the distance from this one and the next one. I ran and took a leap, I barely made it my chest hitting the side of the other building. I dragged myself up and hid behind the small wall to hide from HGL.
Now at this point you must be wondering Mike why are you a villain? I mean my parents were both villains and I wanted to carry on their legacy even if my power is as bad as CREATIVITY. They ended up dying to a hero named Firing Squad who had guns for hands. I hate the dude but also I feel bad for him I mean how does he even hold a fork. I’m well known for one thing though: MY INVENTIONS. My inventions aren’t ever really major, more of just general nuisances like I made an invention that made stop lights turn red after every 5 seconds. It was fun to watch people get more and more angry with each light change until I was abruptly stopped by HGL. Speaking of the guy, it sounded like he finally had gotten to the other rooftop and he was muttering to himself about my disappearance. The dude may have been a hero but he was kinda stupid. As I heard him get more and more frustrated I heard the crunch of metal against fist, he must have punched one of the air conditioner units. People say villains do more damage than heroes but I haven’t done any damage and HGL has broken his fair share of cars, air conditioner units, and glass a lot of glass just to get rid of me. I would say the dudes persistent but all heroes are.
I finally hear him leave after another 10 minutes of muttering and air conditioner destruction which he will most likely blame me for. I’m finally able to stand up and god sitting like that for 20 minutes left me with such a crick in the neck. I stretch a bit as I survey the ground below. The police have made it by now and HGL is talking to them and finally now is my time to escape. As I make my way down another fire escape another question from you guys comes through. Can you please elaborate on who you are? Well my name is Mike also known as the villain The Creator I live in AlesCreek city my antagonist is Happy Go Lucky the hero and I am a minor villain of this city though soon I will be the best villain very soon.
Chapter 2: Happy Go Lucky’s Perspective
The police take so long to finish questioning me about The Creator’s disappearance. I’m so tired after chasing him, I wish he couldn’t move as fast as he could, that’s how I usually lose him. I’ve won the most out of our encounters but lately he’s been trying to avoid me all the time. I mean nemeses are supposed to thwart each other and when he keeps avoiding me I feel like we aren’t enemies anymore. I know it’s stupid to think like that we’re supposed to take down our villains, throw them in jail, and then not worry about them anymore. I’m finally let go by the police and I walk home. I wish I could fly, that would make my job much easier but unlike The Crow, I can’t. I make it to the suburbs of the city and get to my small home, it’s not much but it helps keep my exercise equipment, food, and bed in a shelter. I walk through the door squeezing through it. I look in the mirror in my entryway, worry about The Creator is plain on my face, he didn’t even come up with any good one liners this time. I walk over and sit down on my couch as I work on taking off my boots and eye cover. Well now that I’m home maybe I can finally get some sleep. As I take off the rest of my main costume and slip on shorts and a shirt I head to my bed and at 4:00 in the afternoon I flop down on the bed and immediately pass out sinking into a nice relaxing slumber.
The elevator dings as it opens to a dimly lit area, there’s a few plastic folding tables holding up parts and pieces to other inventions, there’s a wall of previous inventions, there’s a room to the side that’s all blacked out I call it my think room, and then there’s my mattress in the corner. Yes unlike other villains I do not live a life of luxury. Now you might be wondering Mike where are you? Currently at my lair which is an apartment basement. I was loaned the room by a lady who owns the apartment building, she’s a jerk and is very strict but I live here anyways.
I look over at my mattress sleep beckons but I hang up on that call and instead I walk over to the wall of past inventions and remember all the fights I had to deal with from HGL when I used them. I pick up the TANTRUM CHILD EMITTER it looks like one of those plasma globes but I can turn it on anywhere and it causes kids to throw a tantrum. It ANNOYS EVERYONE around them, it was one of my best until HGL cracked it, now if you turn it on it leaks radiation. Then there is the FORGET YOUR PASSWORD GIZMO which if shot at someone they forget all their passwords. I used it in computer labs, schools, and libraries, it was amazing until HGL made everyone remember their passwords with his LUCKINESS then promptly once again beat me to a pulp. With every invention HGL stopped it and threw me into jail. Now Lego Batman made it seem like villains and heroes have this special relationship, WRONG, I hate HGL and I really hope he just DISAPPEARS from my life. I just want him gone and he will disappear very soon though. I’ve studied HGL as he fought me and he may seem human but he’s built of luck essence, get rid of that essence he just poofs from existence.
So my next invention will get rid of him for good. I walk over to the far wall on the table there is a small metal cube with a few lines on it. I call it my BAD LUCK CUBE, it’s not complete yet I was actually getting the final piece today from a dealer but instead HGL was there and I couldn’t get the piece. So now I have to make the piece myself because I’m sure that dealer won’t contact me ever again. With all that happened today I feel exasperated I really want to sleep but I also have to figure out what to do so I suppose TO THE THINK ROOM. I walk over to the room, it has all its walls painted black and there’s no lights. I close the door and and the room is pitch black it lets me think the best. I lie down on the floor which has a bunch of sound foam to block out any sound. All of this helps me come up with the best ideas, it causes hallucinations yes but that helps as well.
As I lie there the minutes tick by I start to hallucinate sounds and colors and light but they start to form into a more solid idea. Five minutes after this I bolt up right, I’ve got it the perfect way to fix this. I stand up and open the door and immediately shield my eyes, even if the room is dim it still is blinding after that. I go to one of the tables with blueprints and notes, and immediately began to write down the notes of my idea. After a few minutes of scribbling down notes I finally have a way to make this last piece of the puzzle, the only problem is that I’m gonna have to get blood from HGL to finish the piece. It’s a little circuit system that passes electricity through the circuit into the blood then it rearranges that power into its opposite power aka good luck into bad luck then emits that power. As I come to that conclusion I look towards the mattress in the corner. Sleep is gonna have to wait.
Chapter 3: Mike’s Perspective
It took me 3 hours to get the board set up but now I need to get HGL’s blood. I grab a syringe off the table as I head for the elevator. I just need to get a few milliliters of blood and get back to here. I’m sure he’s probably at his house by now. Yes I know where his house is, I found it on Zillow because I don’t know maybe I wanted to booby trap it once, it never happened though. The elevator opens and I pull up my hood as I head out into the streets.
The first time I met HGL was back when I was 18, I wanted to join the Villain Organization to keep on my family’s legacy and my parents had been a part of the organization before they had been killed. To get in though you have to show off how and why you are a villain. So I decided to make an invention to show them. All my other inventions had been small and I decided to try my hand at something else. I searched up the most annoying things for a person and found an idea THE SLOW WALKER RAY GUN. Once I built it I went up onto my apartment’s roof with a beach chair and shot walking people to make them go slower the more they were shot the slower they went. It went on like this for 3 hours until I shot what looked like a bodybuilder but he didn’t slow down so I shot him again and he still didn’t slow down. I decided to try and fine tune the gun more but during that the dude had turned towards the apartment building, walked towards it, and scaled the wall.
When I looked back up from the gun he was standing right in front of me. He then promptly beat me to a pulp and put me in jail. I was actually only in jail for a day due to the fact I hadn’t harmed anyone just made them walk slower. I did get into the V.O. with the invention but it was the very beginner level and I haven’t been promoted at all and it’s been eight years since that beginning invention. As you could have probably guessed the bodybuilder dude was HGL and that’s how he also became my nemesis. As I walk into the suburbs I think back on all the times HGL has beat me and how this new invention will be my greatest victory of all. I finally get to his house and hop the back gate. He had left a window open, guess a guy with luck doesn’t have to worry about break-ins. I slip through the window and his place is a mess, even my lair isn’t all that organized but this is just sloppy. I hear snoring coming from one of the rooms and creep towards it.
As I figured HGL was passed out in his room with the door wide open, this man is so careless. I quickly pull out the syringe step forward and stab HGL in the arm with it. He begins to stir so I quickly draw some blood then take back the syringe. I then scamper out of the room and out through the window before HGL can really wake up. As I make my way down the street once more I pull my hood down further and think on how I’m one step closer to truly winning against this man.
I awake to a slight stingy pain in my arm. I rub my eyes trying to get rid of any gunk and bleariness. I hear something outside but ignore it, it’s probably a squirrel anyways. As I sit up the stinging pain is still there. It’s weird maybe a fly bit me or something who knows. I stand up and stretch out my back and arms then shuffle my way to the kitchen. It looks like it’s around 7:00 at this point so I should probably make something to eat. I root around in my freezer as I think more on the Creator situation. He doesn’t harm anyone so that’s why it’s so hard to keep him in jail but his actions are still villainous and he’s still a part of the Villain Organization. I decide on meatloaf and potatoes and open the box. I mean I just need one incriminating factor about The Creator and then I can keep him in jail forever. I bet he doesn’t even really have a home, he seems homeless though who knows.
I pull back the plastic cover and stick the food in the microwave heating it up. Villains and heroes both have similar levels to them the higher up you are the more well known you are. Which makes you think about how similar these two groups are. I mean me and The Creator are both minor people of our groups. There’s Thunderstorm who’s a higher hero and has a nemesis named Desolate and they are both well known. The higher you are the more recognition, the more popularity, just all more. The microwave beeps and I take the food out. I dump it onto a plate and walk over to my living room. Maybe I should rethink being a hero, I mean with my nemesis being The Creator he isn’t really a threat so I technically don’t have a job to begin with. I feel a chill and go over to close a window I had accidentally left open. I’ve been off my lucky game since this whole worrying began and it just reminds me of how The Creator is acting. I sit down on the couch and turn on the tv. Heroes, Villains in the end we’re all the same.
Chapter 4: Mike’s Perspective
It has been a week since I stole some of HGL’s blood. I finally got the board set up and into the cube but now I’ve got to test it. I walk the streets keeping an eye out for a single superhero in this city. I have to start with erasing moderate luck before erasing complete luck. The first thing that comes to mind with luck is a four leaf clover but that’s taken by HGL, so then the next item was a rabbit’s foot. There is one rabbit themed superhero in AlesCreek, Cottontail, she can hear extremely well, smell extremely well, and leap buildings in one jump. If I find her in her usual spots I could make the cube target her and then take away her luck and if I monitor her for this next week maybe I can see what results I’ll get.
I get to West AlesCreek and climb up one of the fire escapes onto a roof. Now it’s the waiting game to see if she comes this way. I sit down criss cross on the roof but I immediately stand back up because it’s 80 degrees out but the roof tiles are burning. As I stand and wait I can feel myself begin to bake like a rotisserie chicken. I wonder if I should turn as I’m standing out here to imitate a chicken. As I wait I suppose I should answer more questions from you guys. My favorite color is purple, my favorite season is fall, my favorite food is chicken alfredo, and my favorite hobby is playing with legos. And there she goes, I was so focused on answering that Cottontail passed by me. I immediately run after her pulling the cube out of my pocket, I just have to get within 20 feet of her then I can activate the cube.
She’s fast but that’s only because she’s jumping over the buildings while I have to run across them. She finally stops on the ground listening for something and I take this as my chance. I slowly crawl down one fire escape and then activate the cube once I’m close. She freezes like a deer caught in headlights she knows something is near her but she can’t tell what it is. I let the cube work for about five minutes before I turn it off. I then slowly climb back up the fire escape. She seems to relax like she can’t sense anything so I can’t tell if the cube deadened her senses or if I’m just that sneaky. I’ll be monitoring her over the next week to see if the cube truly works.
. . .
It’s a week later and the device very much did work. Cottontail’s senses had been so deadened that she was so confused when she was attacked and the news had eaten it up. I scrolled through my phone seeing reports of Cottontail’s bad luck streak. I smile inwardly; this makes great leaps and bounds for my experiment unlike what Cottontail is doing now which is hitting buildings face first when she tries to jump. I think I may have put her out of a job all together but I feel no remorse. I mean I had to test my cube on someone, it’s not my fault she was the perfect candidate. Now that I know the cube works I can fine tune it completely and set it so it will get rid of all luck. Now is the beginning of the end for HGL. I stand up from my mattress and begin my final work.
I hear about Cottontail’s bad luck streak for the fourth time this week. I don’t know what happened to her, maybe there’s a new villain in town who has bad luck as their thing. If that is true maybe they’re my true nemesis which makes me want to get rid of The Creator more, maybe fighting this bad luck villain is my true purpose. I can’t be mopey anymore just because The Creator keeps running away we had no real nemesis relationship anyways. I put on my face mask and stand up. I’ve always hated how tight this suit was but it fits my theme. I go out on patrol to stop any minor crimes that may be happening.
As I patrol the streets without my knowing I wander into the part of town that The Creator usually stays in and does his deals. I haven’t seen much of him over these past two weeks or so and to be honest I’m kinda hoping he’s just disappeared off the face of the Earth. I stop two robberies by making the bad guys drop their bags then detain them while the police get there. I love the praise and hopefully this will get me more noticed by the hero committee. I keep wandering and patrolling until I make it to that alleyway that we had fought in just a few weeks ago. It’s been cleaned up from our fight well as clean as an alley can be. I wonder why he needed the part he needed, it had looked like a computer chip with a small capsule in the middle. I couldn’t figure out what it was or why he needed it. It’s probably locked away in an evidence box somewhere at this point.
I walk farther into the alley way but there really isn’t anything here a few garbage cans, some boxes, junk, and a stray cat. I just walk out and continue on my patrol. I don’t know what The Creator is scheming or planning but it can’t be big, he never does anything big, but maybe with this new bad luck villain I could finally take on something big. Though that would mean getting The Creator out of the way first. So I begin to plan for my next encounter with him. I plan on finally capturing him and getting rid of him for good, all I would have to do first is frame him but luck is always on my side for things like that. So with this our next encounter will be our last Creator so watch out.
Chapter 5: HGL’s Perspective
Three days later and my plan has been set in action. I made a few people steal stuff by making it a high luck chance then made them forget they did it. I called the police saying I’m gonna detain The Creator and that they should wait for my signal or call. I’m in the alley way with the stolen stuff next to me. I wait for The Creator to get here tapping my foot a bit. This is it, the main event, the main turning point in my life that I hope will put me on the right track to success. All I have to do is wait.
I know he framed me, it’s obvious. He wouldn’t have made it so obvious of where he was to me if he hadn’t framed me. So I took care of the police before, giving them all bad nausea with one of my other inventions before walking to that alleyway. He sure has a way for irony since this is the same alley we were in before. As I make my way I don’t feel nervous at all, actually I feel determined like I’m finally going to win. The cube feels as light as a feather in my pocket even though it weighs about half a pound. I step into the alleyway and here HGL mumbling to himself about victory and success. He doesn’t notice I’m here until I’m like five feet away. He’s not very sense aware and he doesn’t usually put up his luck kind of shield until he’s in a real fight so he is kinda idiotic in that way too. Now this fight would be boring if it were just from my perspective so I’m gonna shift you guys to third person so you can see the full fight in effect. It should give you a whole new wow factor.
Mike looks over at the fourth wall winking as a way to say ta daa. HGL doesn’t notice and begins to speak.
He pointed his finger at Mike”Creator I am here to end you for good,”.
“Yeah yeah I know you framed me but I took care of the police force and other obstacles it’s now just you and me HGL,” Mike said this so calmly that it almost seemed like they were about to play chess.
HGL just stood there his hand sagging a bit when he heard his plan was foiled.
“Fine then I’ll just capture you a different way and you will go to jail for good Creator,”
“That’s what you think HGL now bring it on,”
With that HGL charged at Mike fist cocked back. Mike ducked under his first punch then dove to the side out of the way of a kick. He began to rummage around in his pocket and took out the cube. It looked like one of those fidget cubes except instead of several things it just had one button. HGL looked at it and dove for it so he could destroy it like every other invention he had destroyed. Mike stuck it behind his back and HGL hit Mike full on like a bulldozer. Mike scrambled away and got up as he pulled the cube out from behind his back.
“Freeze lucky boy, it’s my turn to win,” Mike grinned for once in his life feeling the victory so close to him.
“You’re gonna stop me with a measly cube. You’ve descended into complete madness Creator,”
“You know that bad luck villain you’ve been hearing so much about. He isn’t real HGL it’s just this cube,” Mike shook the cube mockingly at him and watched as HGL’s face flashed to disbelief for a second before going back to anger.
HGL ran at Mike again but at that point Mike pressed the button and they both flew back as a powerful amount of energy hit them both.
I change the perspective back to first person and let you guys back into my head.I watch as HGL falls over the very edges of him start to fade like he is a hologram fading out slowly. He gets up and tackles me and I let him, he can’t stop me, he’s done for finally. The cube hits the ground along with me and HGL ends up crushing it with his knee. He tries to punch me but his hand is no longer there having faded out completely. You could see the disbelief hit him like a truck and he sits back as I scramble away and stand up. I give my best villain grin as he then flashes to anger trying to attack me once more. Then finally one more emotion flashes on his face. Defeat he looks at me with a saddened look. It cuts me deep to the core but try to not let that on. I’m not fully apathetic guys and I’m sending this guy to nothingness. I shake my head a bit as I try to get rid of a slight bit of guilt. I mean we were both nemeses, so our end goal was to defeat each other. I don’t think he expected me to ever win since villains never do. I watch him fade away completely, that look still very much on his face. I pick up the crushed cube pocketing it. I then head out of the alleyway pulling my hood up. I walk by ordinary people going on with their day not knowing that a hero has just disappeared from this world. Something felt wrong though, it hadn’t just been the look on HGL’s face but something felt off, like I had just erased an entire law of the universe with a single push of a button.