As Alan quietly turn the lock on his bedroom door, he could feel the slippery sweat sliding between his fingers and the small knob. He knew his roommates should all be at work by now...but it was better to be safe than sorry.
He chuckled. Was(more) he really going to be safe tonight? Or....
His grin vanished.
Would he be sorry?
As he walked over to his bedside drawers, he pushed the thought out of his mind. Where he was going, he couldn't afford to be negative. Or afraid.
He slid open the top drawer of his bedside table and began sliding random objects aside. Eventually, he gently brushed off a black, simple notebook.
Alan noted how new the journal always looked, in spite of the many hands it had passed through. Or perhaps most people preferred to shy away from psychadelic drugs? Alan shrugged at their loss, and flipped through the book until he landed on a page with a folded corner.
1. We had to explain everything we meant. So international relations crumbled. Court trials, pop music concerts, and business meetings dragged on for years. Small, neighborly kinds of talk became labyrinthine pits of despair and woe.
2. We would only talk when we needed something to keep our bodies(more) going. Food, water, a sweater, a pillow. No longer did spoken sentences meander into clause after dependent clause or carry on with lilting emphasis and without a full stop in sight. At this point it seemed the only persons unaffected were Russian or Mongolian.
3. We strongly shamed those who could not follow these unwritten rules for wasting our precious fucking time.
4. The word "love" fell out of use.(less)
the dirt was soft and wet with a passing rain, churned up enough near our feet to melt into mud. the sky was tinged pink as the sun's first few rays licked up from the horizon, and the chirping of birds was replaced with the rattle of ammunition fire(more) in the distance and the march of feet on dead earth.
adam had frozen somewhere along the way, feet stock still in our walking, and i'd taken him by the elbow to move him along.
he wouldn't budge.
"why?" he asked, softly enough that i barely caught it over the shouting being exchanged among soldiers. they passed on around us, uncaring. "why do they have to die?"
"come on, buddy, keep it moving," i jabbed him between the shoulder blades, but he remained where he was. people were starting to notice. "whatever it is, we can talk about it while we walk, we don't have to stand here."
i remember his hair always being a tad bit too short, like a mother's careful handiwork before getting shipped off to work. it was matted with mud, and the bandage above his eye bloomed right as he furrowed his brow to try and stave off tears.
"i don't get it," his feet started to move then, but they staggered in broken steps. i helped him along by the arm. "why are we killing? what purpose?"
"for the war," i whispered. "for our country."
i'd said these words so much to try and justify it-- the killing, the barbarism, our unadulterated patriotism that eventually ended in bloodshed.
"i don't want to do it anymore," his steps became larger then, like he'd gained strength his spirit enough to carry him. "i'm so tired of fighting."
he died two days later. god had answered his prayers.(less)
he says "i'm going to kill you slowly" and you don't ask questions. he says "i want us to fall in love" and you know there's hardly a difference. he says "why are you crying" and you tell him to look at his hands.
it starts in the basement. that's where you found the apple slices: the cores missing, the skins in soft piles, the stems swallowed. when i look back i'll always remember the look on your face as you opened the furnace. the pilot was still on, the flames licked the(more) open air, and all you cared about was the apple pie, roasting to perfection. there's something about pie that makes you think it will last forever. but it never made it upstairs.
i wondered how it tasted so i kissed you. that wasn't my first mistake.(less)
'Love-bites' seemed kind of cliche, even if it was true. But Hazel made a point not to break skin--truly a demonstration of iron-clad restraint--and the sensation without the feeling of being drained left it akin to being chewed on by a particularly affectionate cat. Though Hazel's tongue was smooth,(more) at least.
"Say, Hazel..." Joji kept his gaze lowered to his feet submerged in the hot spring, hiding his stiffening arousal with a careful fold of his arms over his lap. The brush of black lashes across his cheeks assured him Hazel's eyes were closed, but it still felt like he was all-seeing. A press of cool lips followed near his chin.
"Shireikan~" came Hazel's purring acknowledgement. Tonal inflection outside of his subdued default always sent a shiver down Joji's spine.
"U-uh..." His train of thought briefly derailed. Pale fingers crept from the other side and teased along his neck.
"U-uh, no, nothing, it's fine." That nibble nibble, moving lower to his shoulder. "Just do as you'd like, 's all."
He'd pin him down eventually, at this rate. With his mind made up, he turned his thoughts to rehearsing what he planned to say once he reached the point where he couldn't hold back.
"Oh..." Hazel paused briefly, a slight sound of surprise. So the commander planned to--
"Oh, nothing..." Nibble, nibble. "Just do as you like. I don't mind."(less)
adam was a young one, bright and shiny like a brand new penny with eyes as wide as saucers the first time we set foot onto the front lines. i was sure he would die within the first few days-- he had spunk, but in the wrong way, the(more) kind that can get you out of paying a check at dinner but not the kind to win a war.
his hair was a little too short, dark and matted with dirt onto his pale forehead. i imagined then that his eyes were the most perfect cornflower blue-- up to hitler standards at that, the nazis would've loved him.
he smiled at me the first time we met. i snorted and cuffed him on the shoulder, and i knew how young he was by the way he flinched.
"how old're you?"
"nineteen," he huffed out.
i scoffed. his eyes went wide.
"sixteen? seventeen? you're a pretty good liar, you got a baby face on you and yah still made it in. you wanna fight that bad?"
"my brother-- my brother signed up, i wanted to go too but i'm too young--"
"well you're here now," i jabbed him in the shoulder again. "as long as you kill krauts, you're good enough to be here. but once you start slacking and gettin all scared like the boy you are, don't think i'll offer you one ounce of pity."
his mouth opened as if to say something more, but just then eddie came running by, a cigarette dangling between his lips and something about me slacking off running out of his mouth.
"new kid," i watched eddie eye him up. their gazes met for only a second, but i saw it.
"just remember kid: not everyone chose to be here."
"W-what are you talking about?" Souji said. He stared at the cell phone in his other hand as though it was about to explode.
"You know who I mean!" Adachi snapped, and Souji flinched as if struck. He'd been referring to his phone, but he realized now that(more) the question had been ambiguous. "That little shit must've done it when he had your phone last night. Does he still have it?"
Souji couldn't remember the last time Adachi had sounded this angry. It might have been the angriest he'd ever heard him. "N-no, I have it right here... what do you mean, he fucked with it?"
"I've been calling you all fucking day," Adachi said, enunciating each word slowly, like he was speaking to a child. "None of the calls went through. I couldn't even get your voice mail, not that I'd leave a message. So, what, you've had it all day and it's never rung?"
Souji didn't respond right away, distracted by frantically checking his phone's settings. The phone wasn't on silent, still seemed to be able to accept calls, except--
"He blocked your number," Souji said solemnly, flipping the phone closed and clutching it to his chest, as though he could siphon the battery power into his failing heart.
There was a long pause; Souji could hear Adachi's even breathing on the other end of the line. He couldn't imagine what Yosuke had been trying to accomplish; it was dangerous and reckless and so very like Yosuke that it made Souji's chest ache. "So," Adachi's voice cut in, cold as ice, "unblock it."
/Don't waste it,/ came a small voice somewhere in the long-banished part of Souji's mind. /Don't waste the chance he gave you./
Despite the fact that they'd barely spoken since Souji moved back to Inaba, the house felt unbearably quiet without Nanako. It was funny how a person could grow used to certain things -- the TV being on when he came downstairs in the morning, coffee made and waiting tacitly(more) in the pot, the warm presence of another human sitting in the living room and carefully ignoring him -- to the point where they're barely noticed until they're unceremoniously ripped away.
It was just the same as the previous November, except this time he knew for a fact that one of the Dojimas would never come home, and he had no one to blame but himself.
Souji tried sitting in front of the TV, his phone face-up on the table in case the hospital called, but he couldn't bring himself to even turn the set on. It would still be on the last channel Nanako had watched; at this time of day it would be the news, then a Featherman rerun, then that that quiz show she liked so much. He couldn't remember a time when he'd watched either Featherman or the quiz show by himself, and he wasn't about to start now.
The foggy sky was beginning to dim by the time Souji managed to extricate himself from the living room. The entire day had somehow passed and he hadn't noticed.
It was just after 4:30 when the Dojima house phone rang. Souji rushed to answer; he had given the hospital his cell phone number, but this one would have been listed first on Nanako's file. "Dojima residence," he answered breathlessly, steeling himself for bad news.
"You should know," Adachi said, vicious and venomous, causing Souji's heart to leap into his throat, "that your little boyfriend fucked with your phone."(less)
Hairikiri squirmed on the spot, fingertips touching in that sheepish gesture everyone knows but is never described the same way.
(more) "Like really."
"Y-yes, I-I'm sorry, I just didn't know what to do." He looked close to tears, tone apologetic.
"I mean, it's fine, Hairikiri-kun, don't worry." After all, the Returner had single-handedly thrashed the Eldritch Abomination, after his own combined attempts with Yuzura and Katori had only resulted in it being sealed. "We were going to find a way to chuck him back into space, is all... whatever you did is fine, except..." Now there was hella collateral damage to take into account. Namely the big-ass hole that was too jagged to be explained away as a car or semi being smashed into the ground.
"Even you still ran into some trouble?"
"Y-yes, and that's when I started to worry about what to do. I didn't know when you were coming back..."
"So you're saying it's my fault."
"N-NO! No, it's not like that, I--"
"Omifuckin', I'm just kidding, don't worry." A snort. "Just joking, I promise."
"Master, please..." Hairikiri sighed heavily, both relieved and exasperated.
"So you're all tapped out, huh." It was probably a good thing he was late to the party, if the Returner had to go full-on One-Winged Angel. He applauded the fact that there wasn't more extensive damage.
"Yes, but, ah, I just need a little while and I can recharge..."
"Heh." He pat Hairikiri's head, and lightly mussed the silver tresses. Heterochromatic eyes blinked up at him. "Good job, Hairikiri-kun. No, more than that. Thank you."
"N-not at all, Master. I-I..." That sheepish gesture again, but paired with a blush. "I will always do my best to protect this world."
"Keh." Another pat. "And aren't we all the luckier for it." (less)
I said shhh.... I'm on the last chapter.
Last Chapter Tom!
(more) It's growing.
The subject. Its getting bigger.
Schooch, Lemme see.
Has it always had those little arm thingy's?
The abnormal limbs?
No, and neither did any of the other subjects.
Is it possible that this one's different?
Well it seems clear its different, none of the other's grew in any measurable way, they just adapted different pigments depending on sound frequency.
Oh look, the arm things are splitting. That's so freaky!
And its also half again as big. Fifty percent growth in less than a minute. My worry is that it might be a different species.
My worry is that it will outgrow our lab. Look, you can already see the arm thingy's without the microscope.
You collected this sample from the same location as the rest, correct?
Yea, got it all in one scoop from the bottom of the pit. Smelt like cow dung.
And there was no observable differences in any of the samples.
If there had I would have marked them Tom.
Then maybe the rest are increasing in mass as well, some delayed reaction to our atmosphere.
I told you messing with alien goo was always a bad idea.
Just check the storage closet.
Can I get a flame thrower first, in case I need to fry some monster?
You have a flame thrower??
No but I keep telling management it would be a great idea. Next meeting I want your support on this.
Just open the damn closet.
Hello Humans, have you seen a little a part of me lying around? I must retrieve it before it grows too...
It's too dark to see anything beyond the white headlights of my dad's sedan. But hell, the darkness hardly matters. Even if I had the luxury of sunlight, I'm much too timid to look beyond what's in front of me. I'v(more)e been fooled before by the horizon's sleight-of-hand, seeing places that didn't exist - so I now I focus on the road ahead. Where I'm at, not where I'll be.
I know where I've come from, and I know I could find bare necessities if I backtracked. But I don't have forever to travel, and I may not have the energy to continue once I go back to rest.
Was that a sign I just passed? Its hard to stay focused on the signs pointing you to your destination - there's so many towns listed that I've never heard of. Most of the signs are meaningless to me, they point to places that mean something to somebody, but nothing to me.
It's times like these that people use the meters and gadgets provided. The meter says I have a quarter tank left. But I've always kept the tank full, to be safe. For all I know, things could turn south in a hurry, and I'd be sitting in this car, wondering where all the fuel went.
My heart starts to beat fast, and my stomach turns. I shouldn't have done this, I shouldn't be here. I could have taken his trip slower. Why did I even take the risk? The hopes that I could get the most out of this tank? Who will I call if I don't make it? What will they all think, when photos of my defeated engine show up online?
My car knows what I don't think about. It knows that there is a quarter tank of gas left. It knows that the air is below freezing and that the tire pressure is normal. It knows that I buckled my seat belt out of habit when I reached the(more) stop sign at the end of the lane to get onto the highway.
I don't think about these things, because all I can think about is the static in my brain. The insistent buzzing filled with voices telling me about their day, the neighbor's lost dog, the stomach pain, the headache, the weather, the store clerk, their dead aunt. They asked me questions about where I'm going, when I'm going, who would be there and would they walk me out because only guys can handle themselves. They tell me to smile because their wish that I have a good day should be enough to make me happy. The voices were loud, but the static is louder and blurred and confusing and I just need to get out. I need to get out. So I did. And rolled down the windows, not feeling the cold. They want loud? I will give them loud. I will turn up the radio for two hours as I drive down the interstate, barely looking at the speed, screaming the songs at the top of my lungs until my voice is raw and real. The tightness and the scratch give me something to focus on and teach me to breath again.
By the time I've drowned out the static and found myself, I'm half a state away and a little yellow gas pump flashes on my dashboard, telling me it's time to pay up and to go home. (less)