Once in a LIfetime Chapter 2


In the dead of night, Davis lead Louise through the woods to his home. It was a compact, single story home, the outside decently kept though surrounded by fallen leaves.
The back of it faced the very edge of the woods, lit up by a small porchlight. He unlocked the back door, opening it for Louise.
“After you?”
Louise walked in, kicking off her shoes as Davis closed the door behind her, turning on the light. She stood in a very compact kitchen, a countertop dividing it with a lightly furnished and clean living room.
There was a big, puffy looking couch and a TV screen, surrounded by snack wrappers, and beyond that was a hallway connecting to a few more rooms.

“If you’re hungry or something, I have a lot of food stocked in the freezer. Just, don’t go to the room down the hall please. That’s my room.”
Louise nodded and hurried to the fridge, opening it. Inside was a few gallons of chocolate milk, one gallon of normal milk, two cakes, a bin of a few apples and bananas, cookie dough, several energy drinks, and a gallon of water. Louise looked up, back at Davis.

“Hey, not to be picky or anything, but I’m not really in a sweets mood.” She said with an awkward smile on her face. “Do you have anything simple?”
Davis looked back with a nervous expression. “Ooh uhh… I said the freezer not the fridge? I’m sorry if you don’t like frozen stuff, but that’s what I like usually.”
Switching over to the freezer, inside was a plethora of microwaveable food: Burritos, pizzas, mini-pizzas, vegetables, and so on. She took a mini pizza.
“This’ll do, thanks a bunch!” She said as she tore it out of the package, popping it into the microwave. 

“Oh, I forgot to mention, don’t worry about my parents, they’re out of state with work stuff, so they won’t be home for a while.” He walked over to the fridge, pulling out and cracking open an energy drink.
“and don’t worry about any monsters coming around here too. I guess it’s obvious, but they don’t really come near anywhere too populated. I should, probably tell you more-”
“Hold on, lemme finish this food first!” Louise hurried over, leaping onto the couch. “All right, NOW you can continue!”
He stared for a few moments. “You’re taking this well, aren’t you?”

“Well, other than the monster, did you see me at all? Got those awesome gauntlets that let me actually stand up and like, not die to that thing! I even got shot a few times, but bullets were no issue!”
Davis paused, continuing to stare.
“I… Well, back to what I was going to say. Since I was younger, can’t really remember when, I’ve had this weird power. As you saw, I can turn incorporeal, kinda like-”
He poofed into a plume of thin, black dust, rematerializing moments later. He was gasping for breath.

“That… Though, if I’m like that in the light, it’s like I’m suffocating. It’s also tough to see when I’m incorporeal, so that’s why I have these.” He tapped his night vision goggles. 

Louise looked up and down in amazement. “That’s really cool! Do you do like, hero work or something like that with your powers?”

Davis cracked a small smile.
“I… Hope to kinda do that. What I mostly do is wait around the woods, because there’s quite a few monsters in there. They stay away from groups of people, and only seem to come out at night. Though when I’m incorporeal, it’s really easy to watch them. I’ve seen like, giant bird around the size of a fighter jet, spiders that camouflage themselves on the trees, the wendigo is a frequent hunter. Oh yeah, Bigfoot is one hundred percent real as well, I’ve seen him. Did you know even sometimes the trees themselves stand up and walk around?”
With every monster listed, Louise’s eyes grew wider in wider.
“Holy crap, I knew I was right…” She muttered under her breath. “Wait, why didn’t you take pictures or tell anyone?”
A frown replaced Davis’s smile.
“Isn’t it kinda obvious? I don’t want to be seen as some crazy weirdo by others. Only reason I’m telling you is at least you like, SAW one, you know?”
Louise gave an irked look. “I’m not some kinda crazy weirdo, first off!”
“I didn’t mean- Just ignore that then. I can’t really fight off any of these monsters, so usually when I lurk around the woods, I at least try to find anyone who comes in after dark, and try to warn them about how dangerous the place is. A lot don’t really listen, and…”
He looked down at the floor. “I’m just glad some people do heed my warning. It’s the most I CAN do.”

Before he could continue, his TV lit up, static burning on the screen. The duo jumped, staring at the screen as the hiss of the white snow slowly fizzed into silence. 

An electronic voice pierced through through the snow.
“Louise Palrick, Davis Foster…”,
The voice spoke over the static, sounding like a phone with bad reception. Louise leaned in closer as Davis sunk back, gripping the couch anxiously.
“I am contacting you with important information regarding the events of tonight. It will be in both of our interests to listen.”
Louise’s eyes lit up. “So you’re the one who sent me that note earlier? The gauntlets too?”
“My TV doesn’t have a microphone you know.” Davis butted in.
“The TV may not, but your phones do.”
Davis flinched. “I didn’t give you permission to use my phone! Stay out of there, will you?”
“I am merely using their microphones, don’t worry. I will respect your privacy.”
“You still hijacked my phone, who are you?”
“My name is not important, but I offer myself as a benefactor to the two of you. You are not the only ones aware of this towns’ paranormal ongoings.”

On the static, redacted documents appeared, along with a few photos. One of them was a distant, night vision shot of the wendigo, and another was a distant shot of Davis. He gripped the couch tighter, clenching his teeth.

“These photos and documents are from P.A.I.N, the Paranormal Acquisition and Investigation Network. The name should be explanatory enough. I am an administrator working for them.”
Louise closed her eyes with a big smile, pumping her fist to herself. “I always KNEW there was some sort of cover up going on!” Her eyes flashed open.
“Wait a second, what do you mean ‘were’?”

“The man who attempted to murder you earlier tonight was an agent of P.A.I.N. They had a close eye on you and your computer history, and deemed you as too much of a liability and in need of termination.”

“Yeah, but what does he have do do with it all?” Davis glanced nervously towards her, thinking how she could be so uncaring that some government organization wanted her dead.
“Was he carrying all of the info around here?” She put her hands to her mouth. “They’re not going to send more assassins, are they?”

“To answer all in order: First, I managed to destroy the physical and digital files on your town when he was sent to kill you. With their field agent dead, they would need to build up a new report from the ground up with a fresh agent. Second, they most likely will not, and will focus on re-building their lost information.”
Louise sighed. “That’s a relief. Now, spill the beans on all the going-ons thats been happening around here-”
Davis placed his hand in front of Louise. “Sorry, but why did you destroy those files? What’s this all got to do with her? How do you know these agents won’t try to kill her again?”
“To both her and you, it’s obvious that Tomahawk Hills is a hotbed of paranormal activity. What I showed was only the tip of the iceberg of all documented information, and it nearly reached a critical point. P.A.I.N was beginning moves to quarantine the entire town, making it a research blacksite. This would effectively doom everyone.”

The two stared at the screen in disbelief. 

“As mentioned, I am very well aware of Louise’s history. She is one of few select candidates who I determined would be the most accepting of my mission: Find and contain any paranormal threat before P.A.I.N is able to re-log them. A perceived significant decrease in paranormal activity would effectively end their plans to turn Tomahawk Hills into a blacksite.”
Louise nodded in response. “I’m glad you did your research well. Though I could have sworn I kept my online browsing well hidden from the government…”

“There is a lot P.A.I.N can learn from everyone from browsing history alone.”
Davis butted in. “Hey, I thought you said you were gonna respect my privacy?”
“Well Louise, Davis, do you accept?”
“Of course! You already gave me the gauntlets too, so I wanna do what I can with them!”
Davis nervously tapped his foot. He looked down to the floor, scratching his chin. “I don’t think it’d be fair to just let P.A.I.N do what they want with our town. I’ll join.”

“Excellent. Outside of your home, you will find a USB drive, loaded with a program to contact me through an encrypted channel. Any paranormal object, device, or location you come across, you are to log and report to me. Even if you cannot contain or suppress them, I can use your information to keep the new field agent away from any confirmed paranormal locations. Be wary, as this method of contact is not foolproof. Do not contact me more than once a week, or P.A.I.N would have a chance of tracing the messages back to me. Good luck.”

The TV flickered to black, and Louise turned to Davis with the biggest grin on her face.

“Holy… Davis, do you know what this MEANS?”

“Our town needs saving? And that last part, did you write it down or anything? That was kinda a lot.”
“That and it’s like, I WAS RIGHT, and we got something AWESOME to do! Not gonna lie, my time at home was getting really boring and was trying to figure out somethin to do but MAN I just-”
“Hey, slow down! We still got school tomorrow too. We can meet up after it’s done, right?”

“Yeah but, can’t we just call that government guy to cancel it? Maybe skip school?”
Davis shook his head. “I at least wanna get my high school diploma, I’m sure we can find time to juggle saving the town and that.”
“Fine. But there’s still a lot we need to discuss!”
Davis pointed at a kitchen clock. It was 1AM.
“It’s too late to stay up talking more, and also too late for you to go home safely, I think? But I don’t have an extra bed, uh, is the couch fine with you?”
She shrugged. “It’s just one night for now. I don’t have any pajamas though, I don’t really want to sleep in these and make them too stinked up for tomorrow.”
“Oh… I should have thought of that first. You know, forget it, you can just sleep in my bed I guess? I stay up pretty late anyways. Plus, I have some sweatpants and a white shirt you can borrow, I just hope it’ll fit you all right.”
He ran into his room, emerging with the very wrinkled clothes moments later.
“Just, please don’t touch anything else in my bedroom, all right?”
She nodded, smiling and taking the clothes from him. “Thanks, I’ll go get changed!”


She pushed the door into his room, pausing as she stepped on a snack wrapper.
The room itself was smaller than hers, almost like a dorm room. All he had was an in-wall closet, a very small desk, and a bed crammed together.
At the foot of the bed was a big pile of clean yet wrinkly laundry sitting in a basket. The bed at the very least was still well made.
Next to his desk was a small wastebin, overflowing with crumpled pieces of paper and various snack wrappers.
Changing into the loaned pajamas and folding her uniform neatly on his desk, she dove into his surprisingly plush bed, letting sleep wash over her.
Davis, meanwhile, began heating up a burrito in the microwave, staring nervously at the TV.
“Didn’t think things were going to get this drastic,” He muttered. He took out his phone, turning on airplane mode, and opened the door to the garage.


An intense, high pitched grinding noise was in the air, rousing Louise from her sleep. She groggily stared at her phone, reading the time to be 6:00am. Rubbing her eyes and letting out a yawn, she quickly changed into uniform before following the noise out of the bedroom and into the garage.

In front of a long table, covered with tin cans, chemistry equipment, mangles of scrap metal, a stack of energy drink cans, and several bins full of presumably more assorted building materials, stood Davis, marking down cans with a large yellow marker.
To the side of him were several freshly-sharpened caltrops and other cans marked with colored markers. He wore goggles, a pair of headphones connected to his phone, and red-blue striped pajamas. Louise stumbled over, watching her feet for the little flakes of wood and scrap, and tapped him on the shoulder. He lurched back, before whipping off his headphones, hard rock silently blaring from them.

“Oh, hey, I’m a bit busy working right now. You need anything?”
She let out a huff. “Your work is kind of noisy.” She peeked over his shoulders at all the caltrops and cans he made. “What you workin on though?”
“Oh, well making stuff like smoke bombs and traps and stuff like that. I normally make them as a hobby, but since we’re going against some monsters in the woods, I thought having some more wouldn’t hurt.”
She carefully looked among all of his gadgets, several sharpened tripods of metal, and even a belt lined with firecrackers. Davis put on a big smile as she continued to observe his handiwork.

“My power works best in the dark, and I found out that it is a bit easier to turn intangible in a cloud of black smoke, so I usually carry smoke bombs on me in the middle of the day. It’s still rough, but it’s better than doing it in broad daylight and re-materializing completely sore and winded. Plus even without my powers, a smoke bomb combined with scattering some caltrops is like, THE perfect getaway plan.”
He grabbed a few cans that were striped neon orange.
“These are a new one, though kinda expensive. Basically just took a tin can, put a firecracker into it, filled it with pepper spray, and bam, pepper spray bomb! I’ve never tested it before, so I hope monsters are hurt by the stuff.” 

He pointed to the belt of firecrackers next.
“I assumed that monsters don’t like the big pops like gunshots, so I thought that if I’m in trouble, I can just light and chuck these at them and maybe that’ll spook them away.”

Louise continued to stare at it all with wide eyes.
“This is all so awesome! I’m surprised you never told anyone else about this, like it’s so cool!”
Davis scratched the back of his head. “Well, I think I might get in trouble for making homemade bombs, even if I do intend to use them on monsters. So uh, please don’t mention it at all, okay?”
She nodded energetically. Looking around the garage, she found a few very rough sketches of other gadgets pinned to the wall, and ran over to get a closer look.

Davis glanced over. “Those uh, I don’t think I’m competent enough to build those yet? I’ve always wanted a grappling hook to climb tall buildings and stuff. I can actually jump a little bit higher if I turn incorporeal, jump, then rematerialize, but not enough to scale buildings.”
“I think I could help, I’m sure I could track down some sort of working blueprint online? There’s a lot of cool forums and videos that build all this stuff!”
“I’ve looked hard, trust me. I REALLY wanted one since I started doing all this.”
“Actually, I got one more question.” She turned to face him. “You got anything else with a bit more like, oomph? Firecrackers are pretty strong but, do you have some actual weapons?”
He sighed, and opened a drawer, revealing a small contraption with a knife blade inside of it. “It’s just a hidden blade I can keep in my sleeve. I kinda wanna keep my stuff non-lethal altogether. I know sometimes humans can be monsters, but I still don’t really want to hurt them…”
Louise cocked her head. “But I thought this was for monster hunting?”
He shook his head. “Nevermind.”
“Now, a big change in topic, but you got anything for breakfast?”
“Yeah, I mean, I usually eat whatever I feel for breakfast.”
Louise stared for a moment.
“I mean like, breakfast food?”
“It’s whatever is in the fridge. Please, I do wanna work a bit more, I’m sure I have something you’d like.”
Louise huffed as she left the garage. “I’ll be getting ready in the meantime, so don’t walk in on me changing!”


A shower and a meal of microwaved frozen waffles later, Louise was all ready to go. She sat patiently on the couch, waiting and glancing at her phone every few moments. By 7, Davis had finally emerged from his workshop, still in pajamas.

“You sure you’ll be able to get ready in time? It’s almost a 30 minute walk to school from here, right?”
He shrugged. “I’ll be ready in 5.” He closed his room’s door behind him.

Five minutes later, he emerged, in what seemed like the exact same outfit he was wearing from the previous night: Big black school jacket, baggy pants, very wrinkled shirt, and boots. He walked over to the fridge, pulling out an energy bar and an energy drink, cracking it open and taking a swig.

“I’m all set to go.” He followed up chomping into the energy bar.

“Not even going to brush your hair?” Louise chided.
He threw his hood over it. “It’s no problem at all.”
Louise sighed. “I’m gonna be a bit honest, you do kinda look awful right now. Not even going to iron your clothes or anything?”
He zipped up his jacket, giving her a death glare. “This is my style, you know? Sorry if you don’t have enough taste to understand how good it looks.”
Louise snickered. “Ah, not like we have enough time to debate this. Come on, let’s get going.”


The day was cloudy with a chilly wind blowing through, but despite the sombre feel, the two made it to school with no issue. They split off to their respective classes, going through the motions until lunchtime hit.
Arriving at the cafeteria, Louise noticed Davis was waiting by the entrance, nervously looking around. She bounced over to him, yelling “HEY DAVIS OVER HERE!”
His head whipped over to her. “OH uh… Hey! So uh, I already brought something to eat so-”
“GREAT!” She yelled over the chatter of the cafeteria. “Find a place to sit, I gotta buy something for myself.”
She hurried on towards the lunch line as Davis stood stunned. He scanned the entire cafeteria, finding just about every table already filled with hungry students. They weren’t totally full, small gaps able to hold a few students here and there, but he wanted more space to himself. He slowly walked through the collection of lunch tables, hands in his pockets and looking at the floor, passing and bumping against other students. He looked up every other moment, still scanning around the cafeteria until noticed a somewhat dusty table in the corner, unoccupied by any students. He hurried over to secure the seat. Minutes later, when Louise left the lunch line with a sandwich, chips, and drink, Davis waved her down, her jogging over to the table.

“All righty!” she said, popping open the bag of chips and taking a quick bite. “Now’s a good time for us to plan for tonight.”
“Tonight? What’s happening?”
“Didn’t you forget? We’re going to have to hunt that wendigo before PAIN finds it!”
“Oh, I didn’t realize we were going to start like, so soon? Think we can at least wait till tomorrow?”
“NOPE! We have the advantage against PAIN, so we gotta take full advantage of it. By the way, where’s your lunch?”
He silently pulled out another energy drink, and a few bars of candy. “This is all I need to get through the day, don’t worry.”
“Yeah, get through a school day, but can it get you through a night of monster hunting?”
He groaned, taking a bite out of the candy bar. “I usually nap and snack after school, I’ll be fine.” He glanced out a nearby window.


He flinched as Louise’s packaged sandwich struck him in the face, plopping down on the table. His hood nearly fell off, and he scrambled to yank it back on.
“Have mine, I have enough money to buy a second one. I don’t want you crashing on me tonight!”
He stared at her for a few moments. “What the heck was that for?”
“Come on, you can’t just only eat snack bars and candies and stuff, you gotta have proper energy! I should NOT be more fit than you are!”
“I have plenty of energy! I just don’t really like using any of it…”
“Pft, I see you drinking lots of energy drinks for a dude who has plenty of energy!”
“What if I like the taste?”
“Then you should probably find some replacement drink, because those will turn your bones into dust or somethin!”
Davis huffed. “Fine, I’ll eat your sandwich…” He unwrapped it, taking a chomp out of it. Louise took another bite from her chips. “Anyways, I was thinking a lot during classes, and I think I got a good plan of attack for the wendigo.”
“Go on?”
“We already know it comes out only at like, dead of night in the woods. It only showed up after that assassin tried to shoot me, so it must be attracted to loud noises. It also ran off when you showed up.”
“Well yeah, that’s typical for a lot of these monsters in the woods. They typically go after lone targets, and run off if somebody else approaches. Though I’ve seen a few stalk small groups of up to four.”
“I also found out that he’s really tough, like I couldn’t even stab through his hide with a sword. He reacted when I started whacking at his head with my sword, and he didn’t like that at all.”
“So, you wanna bring something with a bit more oomph? I don’t think I can really make anything for that.”
Louise smiled, placing her hands on the table. “Don’t worry! I’m gonna bring a sledgehammer from home. That oughta do some damage.”
“Yeah, but you’ll be fighting alone, remember? If I show up he’ll just run away. Are you sure you’re up to that?”
“Well, listen to my plan! First, we both split up, with pots and pans or anything that can make loud noises. We’ll make a bunch of noise, and when the wendigo shows up, we’ll mark it with something that can help us track it. Then, we group up together, the wendigo runs away, we chase it down, back it into a corner, and BAM.” She clapped her hands together. “We got ourselves a dead monster!”
Davis tapped his chin. “I never really see a monster again when it flees. Maybe it does hide away to a lair or something? I don’t know, are you sure you thought this all through?”
“Well, where’s your master plan? Plus, the wendigo has to hide its victims’ corpses somewhere, right?”
He shrugged. “I guess so. As for a way to track it, I think I got a good idea for that. Will need just a small amount of time to prep it, and I can have it set tonight.”
Louise’s eyes beamed. “Sweet, ah I just can’t wait for tonight!”
Davis took a deep breath. “I just hope we aren’t getting in over our heads. So, after you get what you need, meet me at my home, and we can prepare. I’ll leave a key under the doormat for you, in case i’m asleep when you come on by.”

“Sure, I can show up early and rest up with you for the night!”
Davis coughed up a bite of his sandwich. “I am NOT going to share my bed! Just, nap at home or something!”
“I never wanted to sleep in the same bed, the couch would have been fine…”
Davis leaned back a bit. “Oh, then uh, that’s fine?”
A look of inspiration struck Louise’s face. “Actually, how about later on, we can make your house into our kinda hideout? Like a base of operations for our cryptid hunting! I could bring a sleeping bag too since I’m gonna be around pretty late, and maybe some extra clothes, and-”
“Hold on, what’s wrong with your house? Why do we gotta move everything into mine?”
“Well, for one you live right next to the woods.”
Davis paused, thinking to himself. “I guess that’s not a bad idea then, but like, let’s at least wait a little bit before we start remodeling my home, okay?”
Louise jumped out of her seat, yelling “YES!” A few other students in the cafeteria glanced over, and an embarrassed look grew on Davis’s face.
She sat back down. “Sorry, just, so much is happening and I really can’t wait to get ultra serious about all of this. That and…”
Davis raised an eyebrow. “And?”

“You’re kinda cooler than expected, you know?”
He flinched. “Expected? What do you-”
“Well just talking with you a bit, even if this is our job kinda? It’s still really fun. Plus, it’s been a while since I’ve eaten lunch with somebody else. Makes eating a lot more fun when you’re talking about wendigo hunting as an extra bonus.”
“I’ve been trying to keep up, but yeah. Lunch with you is better than what I used to do.”
“It’s settled then, let’s have lunch together every day, all right?”
Davis nodded, trying to hide a look of excitement on his face. “Sure!”


Once in a LIfetime Ch 1


Louise shivered, twitching her leg and pulling her jacket tighter around herself. It was very starry out, with a fair amount of moonlight seeping through the forest canopy. All she had brought with her was her phone, high powered flashlight, and a sword at her hip just in case of trouble.
Despite all reason, whoever sent that note had to at least know what she wanted. Receiving a cryptic note saying “I can help what you’re looking for: The Truth” would drive away any normal person, but for Louise, it was a door to something potentially greater. To her, whoever wrote it had seen her web history, and knew of her hideout in the middle of the woods as well. She stared into the sky, judging whether this was maybe a hit attempt to silence her from uncovering the truth this town held. Or maybe whoever sent the note was impressed with her detective skills, and sought to recruit her for her expertise?
Interrupting the sound of the wind blowing through the pine branches was a buzzing fading in, overhead. It wasn’t a mosquito or bug, but sounded like an RC helicopter. It faded away, and a sudden thump jolted Louise out of her thoughts.
It was a small wooden chest, sitting right in front of her. She shone her flashlight on it, finding a typed up note pinned to it.

“You’re in danger. Put these on.”

Her heart began to beat faster, thumping against her chest. She glanced around, flashing her light at her surroundings. She didn’t see anything threatening. Still, she returned to the chest, removing a small latch on the front and throwing the top open.
Inside was a pair of demi-gauntlets. She paused to stare at them for a few moments.
She slipped both of them on quickly. She rotated her hands around, looking at all the neat looking inscriptions.

This is perfect! I never thought I’d get a start on a full suit of armor this early! 

She bounced up and down, letting out a small squeal of joy.
A thought wormed its way back into her mind.
Wait, how is this supposed to protect me? Am I going to have to duel somebody?
An explosive crack boomed through the forest, and Louise felt something strike her in the back. Time slowed down for her, as her brain began to process what had happened.

She had been shot. 

Everything around her slowed down, her brain recalling how she got wrapped up in all this, all the way back to 7:15AM.



It was early enough for Louise to get prepared for school, but just late enough for her to eke out every last minute of sleep. Hearing her alarm clock blare, she smacked it off, kicking her blankets away and jumping towards her closet. Inside was assorted sporty looking outfits alongside more proper wear for school. Beneath her clothes were a stack of books about various monster sightings, each with several tabs sticking out of them.
She quickly threw on a black button up shirt and skirt, wearing her school’s orange and white track jacket. Last, she couldn’t forget the keys to tie together her look: a dark brown neckerchief, and red training gloves.
She considered those two parts the defining bits that really helped her stand out against the crowd.
Her room itself was small; Her paper-stacked desk only stood a chair’s length away from her bed, books were stacked on top of her wardrobe, and next to that was a corkboard, overflowing with various news articles.
Leaning against her wardrobe was a gladius and long staff, the sword being her “weapon of choice” that she purchased from a renaissance fair a year ago.
Her computer wasn’t top of the line, but it was good enough to browse the web smoothly, which was good enough for her.
She carefully walked past some of the scattered papers on her floor, grabbing a few textbooks among them to put in her backpack. With her school gear in tow, she hurried down to the kitchen. Her parents were gone already, having to leave early to reach their job out in the city. Thankfully, they had already made a loving lunch for her the night before, so she took some sausage patties out of the fridge and began cooking, preparing for the day ahead.

Louise’s hometown, Tomahawk Hills, was a mix of suburban sprawl surrounded by farmland and forestland. The urban housing clashed starkly against thick walls of green and brown trees. Off in the distant east, everyone could see the town’s titular hills, no matter where one was.
Roads ran between undeveloped lands to small clusters of shops and the occasional mall plaza. Those same roads continued, past the endless farmlands and up into the foothills, where a small number of very privileged houses sat.
Despite all this, it was no trouble for one to get around without a car, and Louise liked that fact as she saw her school coming into view. Tomahawk High had the same, unassuming feel the rest of the town shared. To her, it was nothing more than a normal high school, for better or for worse. Dozens of students hurried through the front doors, either arriving via bike or dropped off by car, and Louise happily jogged past all of them, hoping to start the day early and get through it as fast as possible.
Pushing past the crowds, she never really thought too much about others, as she didn’t really expect them to think much of her. There was the odd exception however.

Davis Foster.

She only shared a few classes with him, but he always carried the exact same social presence: Big dark jacket, hood up (even to the dismay of teachers), and always leaning against walls, watching others pass by. He rarely spoke during classes, and NEVER spoke to classmates unless required to. Louise felt intimidated somewhat, but did hope for some excuse to sit down and talk with him. She had searched for him willingly during lunch a few times, but could never find where he sat. His bizarre presence was the only real out of the ordinary thing around.

Other than ogling Davis, she didn’t really have solid friends other than other classmates to chat with randomly during breaks, but it was fine enough for her. Anything to help speed up the pace of the day.



    With a typical school day all wrapped up, Louise made a wind sprint for her classroom’s door. There was a lot to get done at home, though at the last hallway to the exit, she skidded to a halt at a small wall of students. There she spotted the only other person she remembered at school. Not because she cared too much for them, however. 

“Come on, I’ve been waiting for months for you, you saying you can’t make any amount of time for me?” Spoke an arrogant sounding boy’s voice.

“As much as you think your time is more important, I have other things to attend to. I don’t want to keep my soccer practice partner waiting.” Spoke Kirino Yorogami.

It was hard not to know about Kirino. She was a bonafide prodigy; Daughter of a tech giant CEO, top of all of her classes, and the school’s women’s soccer ace to boot. Louise couldn’t imagine how anyone’s self esteem could stand simply being around her. Whether she actually had friends was up for debate, at least Louise didn’t see her out openly with anyone else.
Her train of thought was cut off with a bang. The boy had slammed his fist against the wall lockers, his arm cutting off her path.

“Seriously, just take a break or something! Trust me, just one lunch out with me and-”

He yelped as she grabbed him by the arm, flipping him over flat onto his back. The boy groaned, face wrinkled in pain. He rolled over to his side, slowly crawling back up to his feet. She stared down at him

“If you think you’re deserving of my time, come back when you won’t be knocked down so easily.”


She turned to the exit, marching towards the wall of students without paying them any heed. An invisible command swept over them, the group parting for her to leave.

Louise felt a twinge in her stomach at the students’ reaction.

Shaking the feeling, she hurried through the doors, jogging back home, for her real work to begin.

   

The jog home was uneventful, as just about everything about Tomahawk Hills was. For Louise, however, everything was uneventful at only surface level. Kicking down the door to her room, tossing her backpack onto her bed, and flicking her computer tower on. She pushed aside the mess of papers and pulled her keyboard out, and opened her desk drawer to pull out a very fat notebook.
The book looked like it was carrying way too much paper for its spiral to hold, combined with several sticky tabs sticking out at every single possible space they could. Louise sat back in her chair, leaning back and cracking her knuckles as her computer chugged to life.

“Let’s get some REAL work started!” She said with a dumb grin on her face.

From that open on, the night was a flurry of opening dozens of tabs at once to several news sites, forum posts on weird sightings around town, tabloid sites, anything that could point towards the something suspicious she KNEW was going on. There were all sorts of stories that she thought had to mean more: Mysterious moose spotted in the woods (Her town wasn’t the proper climate for them), rumors of a ghost living at her high school, people vanishing out of their cars on backroads, and the endless slough of mysterious disappearances that all happen around the forest.
There were dangerous wild animals that live there, like coyotes or mountain lions, but for so many people to disappear there was far too suspicious for her. Her mindset was even more reinforced by the town’s love to just not mention whenever somebody vanishes, other than the occasional PSA saying “The woods are dangerous, stay out of there after sunset!” There was a good reason she had set up a small hideout out there.

During her search, she found an interesting forum post.

“Armored trucks traveling around outskirts, anyone else seen these?”
In the thread were quite a few photos of a dirt road, and large, military-esque trucks on them. Louise tapped her fingers on the desk as she squinted closely at the photos.
It COULD be her town, but a dirt road is pretty common. Only real landmark was a torn-up wire fence, but that was probably a common sighting out in the midwest. Still, she opened up her notebook to a new page, writing down:
“Mysterious armored trucks? Military training or something more?”
And below it
“Go camping this weekend near abandoned roads to look for them?”
The weekend was right around the corner, but if schoolwork piled up… Maybe next week, she thought. 

    After making a good dinner for herself and actually doing her homework, it was very dark out. Her desk was covered in even more paper, several notes on what military trucks were being used, where military bases around her area were, and random facts about armored cars and military vehicles. She was about to continue her hunt, when she heard a loud thump on the front door, as if somebody just ran up and punched it.
She ran on over, thinking perhaps it was her parents finally home from work.
Answering it, there was nothing there, except a small black box, no larger than a phone. She picked it up, opening it to find a small folded slip of paper. Opened it, finding a small, typed out note.

“I know what you’re looking for: The Truth. I am aware of your hideout in the woods, and there you’ll gain the first piece. Be there at 10pm.”

Her brain processed the note for a few seconds, before she whirled around, looking for a clock. Her stove clock read 9PM, and the forest was a fifteen minute jog. She gathered up her sword, a backpack, flashlight, and a few snacks before flying out the door in a full blown sprint.



There was a slight stinging pain in her back still, but Louise realized it didn’t really hurt all too much? She was clenching her eyes incredibly tight, but loosened them slowly. Her vision was still normal, not a deep red like she expected.
Powered by adrenaline, she scrambled back to her feet, hearing another crack in the distance.
She felt another bullet strike her, this time in the side of her chest. Despite being knocked over by it, she absolutely knew for sure it didn’t break her skin, let alone rip her clothes. It must have been some miracle from God, she thought. Maybe a blessing, or maybe she was just bulletproof this whole time and never really realized it?

She took cover behind a tree and turned off her flashlight, hoping to lose the sight of her assailant. Shaking, her brain was still trying to process what the miracle even did. She racked her brain, trying to think of everything different she did than usual. Then she remembered: The note. Her eyes glanced down to the gauntlets.

They looked like none she’d seen before, perhaps the product of some kinda eccentric knight or noble, but were they really keeping her protected?

Taking a deep breath, she flicked her light back on, and stood out in the open. The bullet struck her right in the back, but she had braced herself for the strike, staying on her feet. She only bent slightly from the blow, before turning around and drawing her sword with a grin.

“I got a good feeling where I’ll find you now!” She yelled, voice echoing through the trees.

“How about you stop being a coward and fight me one on one since your gun isn’t doing you any favors!”

She began charging towards where the bullet came from at full speed, sword in front of her triumphantly. She heard Another gunshot, but this time she was able to react somewhat faster, instinctively sidestepping out of the bullet’s path.

Oh my god, this is so amazing! I wonder how this thing will help with my sword combat?

She shone her light around, still trying to find the location of her assassin-turned-prey. Instead of one, there were three gunshots in succession, followed by a scream. She homed in on the sounds, skidding to a halt at what was not just the sniper. 

He lay limp against the tree, a gash in his chest and his rifle cleaved straight in half. He held a pistol in his other hand, which was lying on the forest floor.
Standing over him was a massive creature, easily three times Louise’s height. It stood on hooved legs, covered in thick fur. Stretching up a very muscular back up to a squarish head, were two massive antlers. The beast turned around revealing its head to be a cross between a human’s and a moose’s; Blank white human eyes and cheeks, with a moose-like snout extending from it, lined with razor-sharp teeth.
There were three red holes in its abdomen, where she could clearly see the pistol bullets embedded. It exhaled white mist, letting out a low growl towards Louise. She took a step back in fear, but then held her sword with both hands, taking another step forward into a stronger stance.

“You may have done me a favor here, but I don’t think you have good intentions for the other people around here, do you?” She held her sword in front of her as if offering a challenge.

The monster roared in return, swinging one of its elongated, clawed arms at her. Using the hilt of her sword, she parried its attack, charging forward to stab straight towards its stomach. It barely pierced the surface of its skin, quickly striking something hard. The impact shook through the rest of her body, stunning her for a brief enough moment for the beast to lift one of its legs to kick her.
She flew away, crashing into and cracking the trunk of a pine tree. The dull pain of the impact throbbed through her body, but wasn’t as bad as she had anticipated. Her breathing quickened as she got back onto her feet, the beast now charging at her on all fours, rearing its antlers.
Thinking of something new, she decided to try jumping, finding herself up in the air, well over her own height. Flailing around at her unexpected leap, she crashed back down on her face, behind the creature. She scrambled back to her feet, and the beast skidded to turn around.
It let out another roar, and she screamed in response. It charged forward, and so did she. A few seconds before impact, she jumped, grabbing onto one of its antlers. The beast kicked up a flurry of dirt, grinding to a halt, trying to buck the girl off. She held tight, the extra strength of the gauntlets aiding her well. With her free arm, she began to whack away at the skull of the beast. Her sword still bounced off of its skin, but the beast shrieked with every blow. 
The beast got on all fours again, this time charging straight for a tree. She took notice, and quickly leapt off right before it slammed into the pine, knocking the massive tree over. It crackled and collapsed, letting a massive boom, along with kicking up a plume of dirt. 
She was panting, still with a big smile on her face, gripping her sword with all she had, and the beast was slowly strafing around her.
“Is that really all you got? I’m gonna take those antlers home as a trophy and show everyone!”
In unison, both the beast and Louise turned to a new noise echoing through the forest: The noise of jingling keys?
The beast leapt up into the trees, blending in with the foliage. It leaped across to the next one and the next, quickly escaping sight. She stared and let out a sigh of frustration, desperately wishing she had the energy to keep up.
What a coward…

“H… HEY! Are you okay over there?” a voice cried out as the jingling got louder. 

Flashing her light over, she saw a man, wearing a large coat all the way down to his knees, baggy pants, a gaiter over his mouth, and night vision goggles.
With hardware that expensive, it had to be backup for her assassin!
She leapt towards him, tackling him. The two tumbled through the dirt as she pinned him down.

“Don’t think you can get me again! Now tell me who sent you!”

She pulled the goggles and mask off of the man revealing it to be a familiar face

Davis!
“Hey, don’t ruin those! They cost a lot of money!”
He continued to struggle, unable to break free from her grip. She lost it when he suddenly turned into a puff of black smoke, rematerializing standing up next to her.

“Please, seriously, I saw that wendigo you were fighting, and thought you needed help. You were uh, kinda hard to keep up with though…”

Louise’s eyes bugged out of her head at the sight.

“I just KNEW IT!” she yelped. “So you were hiding something all this time! You’re a ghost, aren’t you?”
Davis took a step back nervously. “N-no, nothing like that at all! I just uh… can dematerialize in the dark. I’m still alive and everything, I have a heartbeat and all that, please.”

Louise sighed. “I’m gonna have to listen for one, but I believe you. Anyways, what are you doing out here this late? It’s dangerous!”
Davis gave a curious look. “I was supposed to ask you that. I just heard the wendigo and saw you like, fighting it.”
“You knew about this monster this whole time?”
“Well, uh, yeah. It’s not like anyone would believe me about it and I can’t really fight or do anything about it.”

“Well you could have told me about it, I woulda believed you!”

Davis squinted his eyes judgingly. “Yeah, I’d totally know you wouldn’t call me insane and ruin my image at school. But I can at least warn others to stop them from going into the woods too late at night. I was kinda late in your case though so uh… sorry?”
Louise grew an enticed grin. “Woah, so you’re kinda being like, a helpful spirit-”
“I’m NOT a ghost please…”
“Sorry, sorry… Man if only I just talked with you earlier. You see,” She held up her hands, showing her gauntlets. “These fell out of the sky and they make me real strong! I like, was bulletproof too! It kinda hurt a bit, but better than dying, you know?”
“Wait, you were being attacked? By whom? I thought that was just some hunter who got caught by the wendigo…”
Louise shrugged. “I wish I could have asked, but yeah, the monster got him first. I think I have a feel-”
Davis held up his hand. “I’m sorry, but I would really prefer if we like, went somewhere safer. The wendigo is just one of the strange beasts I’ve spotted around here before-”
“Wait, there’s MORE?” Louise was bouncing giddily.
“Could we just go somewhere safe? I can tell you more but, it’s… still pretty scary right now.”
“Sure, I have a little hideout not too far away from here!”
“I would prefer to NOT be in the woods, since monsters don’t leave here typically. I could uh… Invite you over to my house for the night? It’s right outside of the woods too.”
“Oh that sounds awesome! I haven’t had a sleepover in forever! Come on, lead the  way, I can’t wait!”


Broken Masterpiece

It was early in the morning, near a small house nestled in the suburbs, big enough to only house a few people. It had a very unassuming exterior; The front was a simple sidewalk through an overgrown lawn, leading up to a white door. The walls were painted a pale green, two windows evenly spaced to the side. It was sandwiched between a more modern home, and a two story home for a large family.

Nobody really knew who lived there, though people could only mention hearing weeping from within every now and then.

There was an empty shoe cubby and empty coat rack immediately in the front door. 

The living room was well kept, a small love seat with a clean cover over it, sitting in front of a TV. The kitchen had dishes sitting on a drying rack, a few flies mindlessly buzzing around them. A small table with two seats was set, plates and silverware ready for a meal to be prepared upon. 

The bedroom door was locked.

The bathroom was clean, looking thoroughly scrubbed of any lime or hard water stains. A toothbrush sat in a cup next to the sink faucet. The medicine cabinet only held toothpaste and mouthwash inside of it.

From the basement door, the knob turned. From it, emerged an automaton.
It was put together from brass tubes and loose wires, electrical tape holding its joints and motors together. Its chest held a battery, along with all sorts of other strange, whirring machinery. Two spotlight-like eyes were propped to its “brain”: An absolute mess of wires and cables connected to something unknown. 

It slowly walked towards the living room, and stared silently at the couch. It turned to the kitchen, staring at the table. It walked towards the bathroom, staring again. It walked to the bedroom door, knocking on it.
Silence.
The automaton walked back to the living room, staring at the front door. Hours upon hours passed, as it stared. It occasionally caught glimpses of other families passing by, walking together, or children playing around the neighborhood.

As night fell, it turned around, returning to the basement.
Through the floorboards, weeping could be heard.

No One Lives Forever – Preview

A bit of a warning to start before I get into this.
This is just the first chapter, a preview to the new novel I’m working on. I’ll release it once it’s totally complete.

The book will involve heavy subjects such as depression and suicide

Any feedback to this first chapter will be greatly appreciated. It took a while to do so because I want to get this first chapter to be a perfect hook. Thank you, and enjoy the read.


Bleak black clouds covered an already deathly dark night. Hefty winds gusted, blowing leaves and garbage across the empty city streets. A new moon was out, whisking away any hope of natural lighting. Not even the vibrant streetlights could do anything to stave off the intense darkness.

It almost seemed fitting this would be the last night of William Rene. 

He walked alone through the barren streets, eventually reaching a bridge stretching across a river. Staring below, the winds swept up the tides, white foamy waters surging out towards the ocean. The poor lighting made it seem like the river Styx itself. He closed his eyes, taking a deep breath, and swallowed a lump in his throat.

If you asked him why, he made sure he had his reasons in order for his family. He graduated out of high school by the skin of his teeth, unable to make the cut for any good college, nor did he feel he had any talent he could carve a future out of with. Unless he were to win a million dollar prize for “Fakest smile as a Grocery Bagger”, he just never felt good enough. His small circle of friends was strained thanks to their college life, barely able to keep in contact through IRC chats, and he knew he was utterly pathetic to the sight of his parents. 

As far as he was concerned, throwing himself down into that river would be no different than dropping a pebble into it.


He climbed over the guardrails, standing on the edge.


His heart began to beat faster. He instinctively gripped the guardrails tighter.


His breathing intensified. He shut his eyes close, tears quickly streaming down his face. 

How would his mom and dad feel? Would they truly be relieved if he left their life for good? His friends were guaranteed to outgrow him. He’d be left behind in their wake. There’s no upwards momentum for his job. He’d be stuck with his parents for another decade before he could even afford to try somewhere else.

All these negatives, and yet, he still gripped the rails tightly. 

There was still some fraction of hope that maybe things would get better? A small speck in his brain cried out. He looked behind him, hoping to return to the safety of the bridge. 

A pressure began to envelope his head.

“Why won’t you return home?”


A voice?

“There’s nothing to be afraid of. You need to overcome your fear.”

His head felt more of the pressure, as if something sinister was clutching his brain.

“Your worldly things aren’t stopping you. The moment you thought your life here was for naught shows how little you care for them.”


He grew dizzy, his grip slipping.

“Overcome your fear, and join me in my domain. You came from nothingness, and it’s time for you to return home.”

His breathing became ragged and raspy.


“There is nothing more to desire for, nothing more to love, nothing to struggle for. Return.”

Every neuron screamed for him to return to the bridge, but whatever sudden spell that had overtaken him had won. He couldn’t grip the rails any longer. He let go, plummeting to the dark waters below. His vision clouded up, and he blacked out.


With nothing but a quiet splash, he vanished into nothingness.




  There was still nothingness, but something permeated his mind. First, the crashing of waves. Then he could make out seagulls calling. The right side of his head was resting on something coarse. Then he felt his damp clothes hugging his body. His eyes flew open, more of his senses still coming back and he got up on all fours, trying to take a deep breath.

He couldn’t inhale.


Reflexively, he coughed, a trove of sand and water spurting from his insides. He continued to cough, hacking up water at a rate comparable to a fire hose, as the waves crashed and subsided by his hands and knees. He pounded his chest, gagging and coughing up one object: A small fish. He felt his soaking wet body, making sure it all was real. His medium brown hair was damp, somewhat hanging over his eyes. He could certainly feel the weight of his wet t-shirt and cargo pants (And undergarments, unfortunately). His shoes were soaked through and through, squelching with each step. Most importantly, his heart was still throbbing in his chest, pumping fresh oxygen into his bloodstream.


He was alive? 

Funnily enough, that wasn’t the most pressing question, as he stared out to the rising sun in the distance.


What really piqued his curiosity was wondering where he was.

Staring off, he saw a bustling coastal city that certainly wasn’t his home. 

The beach he stood on had a small wooded park parallel to the coastline, a few small paths cutting through a dense thicket of trees. He stared towards the darkened path, and back towards the ocean. He felt his heart throbbing for a multitude of reasons.
No point in waiting around in soaking clothes. Maybe he could find a police station and call his parents. 

Trodding towards the path, the trees quickly blocked what little sunlight was shining. Only little fleks of light shone through the thicket. William slowed down, nerve building up inside of his stomach.
Is this the right way? Did I already get lost? I’m on the path, it’ll lead to a road or something eventually.

He shivered, continuing to march on. He kept thinking to himself about what possibly happened, if he had failed in his attempt, if this path was the right one, whether he was going to wander into a national park and get mauled by a bear, be seen as a coward and a runaway by all his friends and family.
His thoughts were interrupted when he heard muttering behind him.

“It’s the child…” “He was touched?” “We need to bring him home…” 

Two pairs of hands grabbed his arms, and began dragging him into the forest. He flailed his arms and legs about, the two mysterious figures holding tight. Incredibly tight, as he realized that their grips alone were almost crushing his arms. He looked to both of them, the two enshrouded in pitch black robes.

“Quit your struggle…”
“You’re coming home…”
He wiggled a bit more, until he realized the futility of fighting. Given a second chance at life and fate just had to throw more garbage his way was all he thought.

As if responding, fate threw him a bone.

A blinding light flashed through the woods, and a masked figure flew towards him, kicking one of his captors. The robed figure lost his grip, and went flying off into the darkness, and the assailant dove into the woods as well. The second captor let go of William, bringing his long sleeved arms close to his chest, like a rodent. He whirled around, wondering where the attacker would come from next. Another flash, this time a bolt of light shot out of the foliage, striking the captor. The energy from it visibly reverberated through the man, his body stiffening up in response. The man fell over, William unsure if he was dead or incapacitated. His masked savior brushed dirt off his outfit; black sweatpants and a black hoodie. He stretched out his hand to William, and he looked back somewhat dumbfounded.

“You’re not hurt or anything, right?”
William stared for a few more seconds. “S-shaken up a bit. Who are you?”
He took off his mask, revealing the face of a boy looking similar to William’s age.
“I can promise you, not one of the bad guys!”

I’m still alive

Well, figures that I might as well post a status update here at the very least.

It has been an incredibly stressful and busy past few years for me, trying to hop from job to job, to COVID having me unemployed for the greater half of the year, to finally returning to full time work, to even more things going on. I’ve been utterly jam packed with real life, it’s been really hard to sit down and just, find a good reason to right.

With everything going on and a plethora of self esteem and motivational issues involving my writing, the most I’ve gotten are various drafts for continuations to Congeria stories, and drafts for a brand new world and set of stories altogether. Yet I can never find the motivation to sit down and just write it out. Deep down, I do wanna hear feedback about what I write, if anyone is reading. The only thing more fun than writing to me, honestly, is watching people get invested and excited for a next chapter, or for what will happen next in a story.

With life starting to settle down, someday I might return to writing. The closest to a complete project is a bit of a sequel story to Congeria, sometime further down the line of Joy and Simon’s story. It’s just a matter of trying to convince myself I’m good enough and worth putting my work out there.

For those of you still subscribed to my site and reading, and anxiously awaiting any continuation, please do let me know if you’re there. It’s just nice to know that people want to read what I’m putting out.

Re-writing Congeria

Happy 2020 everyone, hope you all are handling the year well.

I’ve been returning to writing bit by bit, and as of late I plan on returning to Congeria, namely starting and finishing Joy and Simon’s story first. Though re-reading it, I realize there’s a lot I want to change, to make more consistent for future plans, and brush up since my skills have improved over the past few years.
Of course, I’ll keep the older chapters still available under an archive section, but when I return, I hope to get Joy and Simon’s story off to a fresh, engaging start. For those who still stuck around, thank you for reading, and hope all goes well.

Update once more

Happy 2020 everyone!

I’m sorry for my lack of writing as of late… I’ve hit some serious humps in almost every area when it comes to my own writing. I’m working a second job, I’m finding myself at a terrible loss of motivation, my depression is hitting hard, and much more going on. I barely have any time to think of what to write, let alone the motivation to continue.

I’ve still renewed the payment for the site so everyone can still browse it ad-free, but I’m not sure if I’ll put anything new up anytime soon. If any of you do want to see more, please do speak up! Feedback of any kind is too few and far between, and I do seriously appreciate any bit of vocal enjoyment of my work. It helps motivate me a lot

Take care, and hope you all have a good decade!

Story Concept: Pluto Rising

A bit of an authors note, I have a bunch of notes to really fully flesh out this into a full kinda short novel deal. It’s a bunch of fluff to something that can be summarized, but I hope it’s a fun read at the very least. If you’re intrigued by this concept, please do comment or tweet at me and let me know! I’d love to continue if there’s interest.


Pluto had its five minutes of fame as children across the US learned about its planetary status, and five more when it was declared a dwarf planet. Even despite the fact Pluto had shifted hundreds of thousands of miles from its original position in orbit, the governments of the world would do their damndest the planet would never get a devastating five more minutes. Kayden Copper, a budding new-hire astronomer, was one of few regular folk to notice how Pluto was not where it was supposed to be. Questioning this online on an astronomy forum, he was unpleasantly surprised by men in suits, who quickly arrested him and cuffed him inside a black hummer. His perception and skill didn’t go unnoticed, as his captors did make an offer to them as they sped away from his home: Either he could become a stellar navigator for the Juno project, or spend his days locked up until the governments of the world could go public with this information, if at all.

Taking the more sensible option, what met Kayden was nothing he could have ever expected: His building where he studied was a massive space center, surrounded by several factories and industrial buildings churning out building materials. Several tons of steel, munitions, and missiles all being hauled by rockets up into presumably high orbit. Stellar Navigation was more memorizing the stars, something he had done years ago, and learning how to use new navigational computers. Amongst classes, he still had time to think: Are we militarizing the Mars base? I’ve never heard of ships constructed in-orbit before. What does this all have to do with Pluto?

A year of training later, which included rocket conditioning and zero G training, Kayden was strapped in with a few other personnel and launched into orbit. He must have been the only one who was forced into this position, as what he saw caused him to audibly gasp: Thirty massive spacecraft all sit together, each one varied in size yet larger than all the spacecraft he’d ever read about, docked at a large wireframe space station. Mechanical suits twice the size of a human worked to weld on armor plating to the last few nearly-finished craft. Astronauts were hooked to the sides of the ship’s bridges, doing whatever checks could feasibly be done to such behemoths of starships. And the final crowning jewel to this fleet was what he could only assume to be the flagship to all of this: An even more massive ship doubling the size of most of the smaller ships, receiving its last tune-ups from dozens of the mecha-engineers. He turned to one of the men seated next to him.

“Did the Mars colony revolt or something? Is this all to blow up mars?”
“Wrong planet. It’s Pluto we’re gonna blow up.”

Tales from Congeria: Joy and Simon 5

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With a huff and a dull thud, Joy stacked a large crate on top of another.

Simon had surprised her early this morning by tossing baggy work clothes on top of her. He said she wasn’t going to get off easy from disobeying orders, and was relegated to warehouse duty. Her mind still fumed at the thought. 

I’m a one in a million person and this is the treatment I get here?

All day and afternoon for the past week, she worked tirelessly, reorganizing and stacking crates full of armaments, munitions, and others supplies. She was covered in dust and sweat, the humidity of the warehouse not helping at all either. She turned away from her finished wall of crates to begin a new one, bumping into a familiar face. Paul was strolling towards her with a smile on his face and hands in his pockets.

“I guess he’s really making you live up to the name of ‘Miss Cost Efficient’ now, hm?”

She paused, raising an eye. “I’m being called what now?”
He stopped not too far away from her. “It’s a little joke I thought of. Since you’re so keen on using fists and don’t use any armor, I thought you must have no impact on our budget. And now you’re giving our warehouse workers a run for their work!”

She rolled her eyes. “I’m really losing my mind here. Did you really come down here just to bug me?”

“Here to deliver a bit of a message actually. Your punishment is up, and Simon wants me to run you through some field work.”

Her face instantly brightened up. “I can lose this piece of crap I’m wearing too, right?”

“You’re actually going to have to dress in something a bit more casual. You don’t exactly want to stick out like a sore thumb when out on the field.”

She literally tore her work shirt off, exposing her well-built musculature only covered by a sports bra. She tossed the rag to the side. 

“Finally, I’ll be able to wear something other than these garbage bags. We get a selection, right?”

Paul slowly lowered his head into one of his hands, shaking it slightly. 

“For that, what do you think your punishment is going to be? One more week of warehouse duty or actually wearing garbage bags out on the field?”

She stared at him with an irritated look. “Please, from how uncomfortable this stuff feels, it wouldn’t make any difference if I was wearing garbage bags or not. You ever worn this stuff?”

“A few times in the past, but I have a good feeling you’ll be getting used to them in the future.”


With a bit of searching for the right-fitting clothing, Joy had changed into sneakers, shorts, and a nice fitting tank top, while Paul wore a bomber jacket, t-shirt and slacks. The two arrived together to a small office. Inside sat Simon, in front of a large table with a screen built into the top of it, and a few computers and consoles behind him. The two pulled up a few chairs and sat in front of him as he began to tap away on the table screen.

“So, I’m hoping you enjoyed your time in the warehouse Joy. Follow my orders next time and you’ll avoid bathroom duty stacked atop of that.”

She huffed and rolled her eyes.

“All right, now that that’s out of the way,” Paul turned to face Joy. “Hopefully you remember the ins and outs of field duty from your guide, right?”
Simon butted in “There’s a reason she’s assigned with you.”
She was smiling wryly, rubbing the back of her head. “Yeah, it’s kinda been well over a month since I last touched that thing.”

“I’m going to assume firsthand experience works better for you than books, so that’s no issue. The entire basis of field duty, at least for us, is responding to reports of demonic activity and dealing with them appropriately. Sound easy?”

“Dealing with them like pummeling the shit out of them, right?”

She could have sworn she head Simon sigh through his helmet.

“You’re half right,” spoke Paul. “The most important part of field duty is finding who specifically was responsible for it. Demons themselves don’t leave anything much to trace, and depending on the demon summoned, it’d actually be better to find the perpetrator instead of the demon first.”

“So find the cartel guys first, right?”
“A reminder for you.” She turned to Simon. “The cartels aren’t the only people who can perform demonic rituals. They merely treat it as a business, doing the killing for those who don’t want to dirty their hands. With a lot of asking around, maybe with a few greased palms, anyone can find out rituals and perform them on their own.”

“Huh, never really gave it that thought. I was wondering why there were so many non-lethal demons listed…”

“Keep in mind that some of the perpetrators are civilians. If you manage to find any, arrest them first, and have Paul deal with the rest.”

Pressing a few more buttons on his table screen, and a city map projected from it, marked with several orange and red blips. 

“All around here are reports of confirmed and suspected demonic activity in the past week. We’ll deploy you both near the neighborhood, and then make your way there on foot. The sight of Crusader jets directly overhead would scare them off anyways.”

Paul stood up and stretched out his arms. “All righty then, simple enough for you to understand Joy?”

“Of course, stop treating me as if I’m that dense!”
“Just follow my lead, and everything will go smoothly, all right?”


Less than an hour later, the two were landed atop a skyscraper from one of the VTOL transports. Taking the elevator the the ground floor and walking out, Joy was greeted with the familiar sight of one of Romitum’s commercial zones, one she lived near in particular. Multiple shops, from small businesses to multi-floored stores were all packed together on the streets. Crowds of people walked in and out of the human traffic that moved slowly on the sidewalks. Trucks and taxis made the majority of the traffic that cruised alongside.

Joy turned to Paul. “We’re still allowed lunch breaks, right? I know a really good barbeque place around here.”

He gave her a thumbs up. “A good four hours of demon hunting and we’ll get thirty to eat.”

She beamed a smile back in return. “Let’s get going, lead the way to the demons!”

Working their way through the crowds, the large department stores petered out, smaller businesses, restaraunts, and homes taking their place. To the plus of the duo, the crowds had also thinned out as well. Past a few more blocks later, they eventually entered a large neighborhood consisting of dozens of fancy looking houses lined up side by side. Joy whistled, gazing around.

“I expected us to stop off somewhere a bit… grimier. You’d think the people who live here would hire their own guards rather than get us to come out here.”

Paul chuckled. “You remember what PMC stands for, right?”
“Paid military-… Oh now I get it. But still, you’d expect to find these demons in skeevier places, right?”

“Alongside narcotics and weapons, the cartels can offer quite a few solutions for petty theft and revenge.”

The two continued to walk into the neighborhood, as Joy stared down at the sidewalk, pondering to herself.

“I get the theft stuff, but what do you mean ‘revenge’? Again, I’d expect that in seedier places.”

He held up his hand in front of her. She bumped into it, looking up. A black, furry, dog-sized beast had just dashed across the street, and was making its way towards a home. Alongside, a van screeched and sped away past the two.

“Maybe you’ll find out in a bit. That thing’s a Devil Skunk. You have my permission to smash the shit out of it, I’m going to head after that truck.”

He threw off his jacket, sprouting a pair of wings and taking to the skies. Unfased by his flight, Joy broke into a sprint, hurrying after the demon that had just hopped a wooden fence into some poor person’s back yard. She easily vaulted over it, and caught sight of the beast again, skittering into a small open window. A scream from somebody followed. The window being too small for her to fit, she hurried around the back yard, finding a doorway into from the back. She ran through, not realizing it was a glass pane door, and accidentally shattered the door, causing the poor homeowner to shriek once more. Inside a small kitchen, she stared sheepishly at the rather aged man, standing atop of a chair with a broom in-hand.

“Hey, don’t worry, I’m here to deal with that demon that came in. Let me just find it and I’ll be out super quick.” 

Running from the kitchen to the home’s living room, she found the beast, viciously hissing at her. She quickly recalled what she could remember about Devil Skunks, and the only thing she had to worry about was the stench it could spray. If it did, the surrounding houses would have to move out due to the stench, and gods help her if she herself got sprayed. As she ran closer towards it, the beast’s fur literally stood up straight, firing several needles at her. Each one bounced harmlessly off of her skin as she killed the beast with a powerful stomp. The house shook a bit with the impact, the floor even cracking, and the demon slowly dissolved into dust. She sighed, wiping a trickle of sweat off of her brow.

“Thank god that thing didn’t spray.”

She began strolling back out the back door.

“Hey, hold on! You’re going to pay for the damage done, right?”

She turned to the man, who had stepped down from the chair and looked rather angry. She simply shrugged. “It’s the price to pay to avoid getting your house labeled as a biohazard.”

She continued on, pressing a button on her earpiece. “Yeah Paul, please tell me there’s some kind of coverage for property damage, right?”

She heard a sigh. “Did the thing spray? No way in hell we can cover that.”

“No no, just a shattered sliding door. Kinda didn’t realize one was in the way.”

“Whew, well since you asked, we can cover for minor repair costs. Anyways, meet back out front.”
Hopping to the fence and waiting, Paul shortly landed in front of her. 

“Those two men were most certainly part of the cartels. The back of their truck was all set up for rituals, with a now killed sacrifice, and was probably where that devil skunk came from. Unfortunately, they killed themselves with cyanide tablets before I could get ahold of them.”

She groaned in response. “Cowards, the both of em.”

“Let’s just hope they were sloppy and left some clues for detectives to find, yeah?”

He retracted his wings, putting back on his jacket. 

“There’s still more reports of activity around here. Let’s get scouting and hope to get lucky.”

Hours passed of a mostly dull day of patrolling the neighborhood. Hoping a bit more excitement like when she first arrived, Joy was looking less for signs of demonic activity, but more something she could actually do. Paul constantly kept a good watch on the rows of houses, finding nothing out of the ordinary for the entirety of their patrol.

“You sure we weren’t fed false info or something?” Joy put her arms behind her head, stretching.

“Or maybe you aren’t being vigilant enough?”

She glared angrily at him, opening her mouth. He held up his hand, smiling.

“Hey, I’m just teasing! Today just may not be our day, you know? If you can’t tell, it’s not common sense to use demons blatantly, let alone summoning a beast.”

“Eh, figures. Hold on.”

She turned, noticing a man crouching in a bush at the end of somebody’s lawn. His head was barely peeping out of the top, staring through the window of a house. Joy sneered to herself and walked behind the man, slowly placing her hand on his shoulder.

“Hey, you trying to hide from anyone?”

The man shrieked and sprung out from his hiding place, landing on his back on the grass. His clothing was dirty and all patched up, looking like he’d been wearing the same shirt, pants, and jacket for the past week nonstop. He scrambled back, a bewildered look dominating his face.

“What the fuck? Who are you, and what do you want?”

She scoffed. “I’m not the one hiding in the bush. Maybe you want to tell me what you’re doing first?”

Bewilderment turned to anger as he simply spat at her, giving her a middle finger. She merely rolled her eyes, turning to Paul.

“Don’t these neighborhoods have rent-a-cops for people like this?”

Paul glanced over at the man, his eyes widening slightly. “Well, kinda. Notice something funny?”

Joy turned back to the main getting up, brushing the fresh dirt off of his clothes, and she noticed he spread blood on his pants. He looked up, still glaring and the two Crusaders.
“Either that was a sharp bush orrr…. There we are!” Paul pointed towards the house the man was standing at. Literally squeezing itself under the door, a fleshy rodent creature began scuttling towards the man. He kneeled down, picking it up, and turned back to his observers.

“What, I got a pet rat. You two got a problem or something?”

Joy quickly stepped forward, shoving the man to the ground, the creature flying into the air. She caught it, crushing it with her hand as she did. As the flesh slowly dissolved into dust, she felt something much harder in its place. When she opened it, a few expensive looking rings and a pearl necklace were in its place. She snapped her head towards the man, glaring deviously at him. 

“So thought you could use a snatcher without consequence, huh?”

The man quickly scrambled to his feet, but Joy effortlessly pushed him over once more, placing her foot on his back. Paul walked up to her, staring down as the man tried to scramble free.

“Nice catch Joy. Now then mister, I’m sure you realize that summoning a demon is one hell of a crime, pun intended. We might be able to lessen it however if you tell us who taught you how to do that?”

The man stopped scrambling. “Demon? Fuck I was told that thing was just some kind of special thief rat! I swear to god, I didn’t do any of that, some guy just sold this thing to me!”

He screamed as Joy applied a bit more pressure. “Really wiseguy? How do you explain that fresh cut on your hand?”

“The thing bites, and I didn’t have any carrier for it! Please, I didn’t intend to get involved with this demon shit, let me off easy!”

Joy stared at Paul, him nodding in response. Joy removed her foot from the man, and Paul dragged him up.

“I guess we can believe you, but you aren’t off the hook pal.”

He took him over to a lampost, cuffing his hands around it. He pulled a small tablet from his jacket, taking a few photos of his face.

“Just hang tight and the police will come and get you, all right?”

He struggled and yelled, screaming for help as Paul ran away. Joy stared nervously at him.

“You sure it’s all right to do that? He won’t get free?”

“If by some miracle he does break free, he’ll get caught fairly quickly. His face is all over the Crusaders database, all it’ll take is one match on any sort of security camera and local police will be all over him.”

“Ah, well that- Hold up, some sort of security camera? Do the Crusaders have cameras everywhere?”

“We don’t, but everyone else does. A bit of a lesser known fact, but the Romitum Council, and by extension the Crusaders have access to every CCTV feed around Romitum. Makes it pretty easy to clamp down on known offenders with good ole facial recognition tech.” He paused, noticing Joy giving him a stare of concern. “What, you expected this country to be so orderly simply by the goodwill of everyone living here?”

“The largest breach of privacy known to mankind running here and you still can’t get rid of these cartels?”
“I did say known offenders. Plus those slummish areas tend to be lacking in cameras for us to use.”

“When I get home, if I find a single hidden camera anywhere I’m going to give a good thrashing to whoever…. I don’t even know, who thought of that system?”

“Whoever suggested it is probably long dead to be fair. Now then, how does a lunch break sound?”

“Barbeque sounds great!”


Shoved snugly between an apartment and a large department store, “Slice of Radi” certainly lived up to its name. It’s wooden walls contrasted with the concrete around it, and the tonal whiplash was still the same on the inside: Old sanded down plank flooring, wooden chairs and tables that constanty creaked, and ceiling fans to really tie together the ancient feel of it. Paul relaxed at one of the tables with a glass of water in front of him, glancing around at the few customers who stuck around. Joy soon bounded back with two plates of ribs, cuts of beef, beans, and coleslaw, one plate with larger helpings than the other. She plopped the tray down, taking the larger plate for herself and bit into a rib.

“This place doesn’t skimp out when it comes to their meats. I hear they get it imported from cattle living way far outside city walls.” She spoke between bites.

Paul took his plate and started cutting a slab of beef into a smaller size.

“Does that really affect the taste? Beef is beef, be it grass-fed or raised in a factory.”

She laughed a bit, now shoving half a slice of beef into her already stuffed mouth. “It depends how much you like the taste of soot and chemicals! By the way, I had to pay with my cash for this. The Crusaders covers for costs like this, right?”

Paul shook his head as he took a bite of beef. “You know since we’re here and on topic, why did you want to join the crusaders… Well the special operations unit more specifically so badly. I haven’t mentioned why I joined, right?”

With a mouthfull of beans she shook her head. “I think it was something about search and rescue?”

“Yup. I don’t think it’d be a good idea to show my wings off again right now.” He chuckled. “Search and rescue just felt like a job for me when I first started, ya know? I started way back volunteering for my neighborhoods fire department, and just thought, ‘this is what I wanna do with my life.’ Not working for the fire department, but there’s something just wonderful about the feeling you get when an innocent family is saved. Not even just the glory of it, it’s just nice to see good honest people safe from disaster. The Guardian Angels was a perfect fit for me to join up with my life plotted out, like an added bonus to doing work I already love. I was already just so good, and when Simon extended his hand to have me join special operations? I’m not sure what excited me more, the position itself or the new opportunities it’d offer. The Crusaders just helped me get connected to help even more people.”

Joy was cleaning off another rib. “That’s nice. But why are you telling me this?”

“You just seem odd and I want to get to know you more Joy. Tit for tat except with our pasts. What’s your passion, why did you so… well… aggresively seek to join special operations?”

She stared at him for a few moments and shrugged.

“Honestly I just wanted to push myself further and beat the shit out of demons.” She picked up another rib and took a large chomp out of it. Paul simply felt the need to spit out his water if he was drinking it.

“You WHAT?”
“Is there something wrong with that? I do a good job at it.”
“So you just… What even was your plan? Just beat the shit out of demons? Get lucky and…”
He dropped his face into his palms. “What did you even do before this insane idea?”
“MMA and I used to be a personal trainer, but that didn’t work out too well. MMA meanwhile just lost its spark to me, so I thought “What’s the next best thing to do?” I did a bit of searching, found out about the God of Righteous Fury, heard word about the Special Operations Unit, and thought that it would work out pretty well for me. And so far, it has! I haven’t been this challenged in forever!”

“You wasted your pledge on a con artist of a God just for thrills?”

“What do you mean con artist? I’m the purest person I know!”
Paul took a deep breath, taking a quick drink of water. “Gods almighty I need to dull my senses to just process how you think.”
She glared at him. “You do realize I could literally bury you beneath the concrete, right?”

“But doesn’t the God of RIghteous Fury have any rules or drawbacks? Any other shit he’d jump on you if you’re deemed worthy or something?”

She raised an eyebrow. “Rules?”

“Yeah you know, guidelines to follow or hindrances. Followers of the Crusaders pledge their life to fighting demons and can’t use their skills anywhere else, Guardian Angels have to dedicate their life to rescuing other humans, be it in military or for civil service. Enforcers under the Divine Judge can only use their abilities for law enforcement, and they may never take another life. All to stop gods from becoming too powerful.?”
“Wait, like, if you break those rules your pledge gets revoked? I always thought for most Gods it was more related to their organization than the god.”
“What, do you think members of the Clergy of Companionship just killed themselves when their bonded animal died?”
“Good point… But back on topic, nope. He just told me to wear this insignia with pride.” She pointed to her abs, where the insignia was proudly displayed.

“How is that God even legal then? They HAVE to have some regulations, else that archstone would be several thousand meters below the surface.”

Swallowing a bit of food, she lifted up her finger. “Oh there’s actually a funny story about that. Apparently about half a decade ago, some officials saw him as a threat and petitioned to remove his church and archstone with the Council. Little did they know, one of those who was pure of heart was a VERY talented lawyer who fought and won against that movement. That must be pretty nice huh? Being able to destroy people in and out of the courtroom.”

Paul leaned back in his chair, dumbstruck as she cleaned off her plate. “Hey, you gonna finish your food?”

“I’ll get to it when my brain fully processes this insanity. I thought I saw it all working for special operations…”

“But given from history, he’s done a good job of picking those pure of heart, right? Hasn’t been a single man who went on a rampage of righteous fury.”

“Fair enough, I guess.” He picked up his fork and stabbed into a piece of beef. 

A few more bites into his meal, his tablet began to buzz noisily. Putting down the fork, he quickly yanked it out of his pocked, eyes widening at the sight.

“Looks like we got some action to get to. A berserker has been spotted in a nearby neighborhood.


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To new visitors!

I noticed a sudden influx in visitors today and decided to write a quick update post for yall!
Welcome, hope you enjoy the stories. As for updates, I’ve been pretty busy with real life. I’m working two part time jobs and attempting to keep up with classes. I’ve been pretty exhausted mentally and only find the energy to write once or twice a week as of late. Hopefully with a bit of luck, I can start writing more in the future!