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Persona: Philosophy of Man [IC/PG-16/No Longer Accepting]

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King K. Azo

King K. Azo

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Reno finished his small conversation with Shattered Wrist Jason, who seemed... pretty un-confident for a former basketball star. Granted, Shattered Wrist Jason had a shattered wrist, so maybe it shattered his confidence as well. Still, he seemed to have a decent reputation here, as Lace was... 'fawning' (was that the word?) over the fact Jason was talking to her, so it couldn't be that bad... could it? Maybe Shattered Wrist Jason was making a mountain out of an anthill. 

Then again, Reno knew by experience that shattered wrists weren't the best thing in the world, so maybe he was being too hard on him. Anyways, Shattered Wrist Jason then turned to speak with a very plain looking girl, one that someone people might consider cute. She seemed very flustered, and after confirming that she would indeed join the club, she ran off in a hurry.

Reno couldn't help but feel her uneasiness was his fault. 

"I suppose I should get going to...," Reno said as he grabbed his bag. "I guess we'll see each other at the next meeting...," with that, Reno went to leave. His walk was slow and calculated. While it might have given some the idea he was trying to be imposing, in reality, he was trying to waste as much time as possible. He was waiting for the sun to go down, for the one place he felt free to be ready. 





The moon was out, the air was cool, and the small cafe, the one away from his school, his family. and anyone that knew who he was, had their mics opened. Tonight was a special night, one that Reno always looked forwards to, one of the few things that kept him going through the week. 

Karaoke night. 


People from all over the city gathered to passionately sing, some good, some bad, and some painfully average. Reno wasn't sure where he fell on the spectrum, but he didn't care. Here, it didn't matter. It was a spot where no one judged, where people could sing, write, draw, whatever without the fear of being ousted. 

Not to mention they had some killer hot chocolate. 

Reno finished sipping his drink before walking up on stage. Taking a breath, he began to let his passion out, and sing of what he truly wanted out of life.

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The Poem for Everyone's Souls

The Velvet Room


       Paul awoke with a start, gasping for air.  He let out a jarring cough that resonated in his cell.  He felt as though he had just gone swimming and had emerged from a deep end.  When he realized where he was, Paul sat up slowly.  He was once more in chains and his evening pajamas had been exchanged for black and white striped prisoner's garb.  Dragging a heavy ball and chain at his feet, he approached the cell bars where the large dark-skinned man before had his back to Paul.  He turned around to face Paul with a grimacing expression of disgust.  The large man stood aside and gave view to Igor, who was sitting comfortably in his chair at his desk.  "Welcome, Paul.  You are nearing ever closer to your time of departure."


Paul shook his head and sighed.  "...these dreams are getting out of control," he mumbled.


"Do not test the master," said the large, dark man over his shoulder toward Paul.


"In the coming days, you will experience a great change in your life.  This change will shift the course of events that surrounds you, and you will begin a new journey," Igor said.


"A new journey?"


"Within you lies a dormant power which will serve to save your world from the coming ruin.  You must hone and strengthen it if you wish to see a promising future," Igor continued.  "Only by forming powerful bonds will you become powerful.  And only when you have obtained strength can you hope to prevent ruin from taking your world."


"Ruin.  You keep saying that.  How am I supposed to stop something I can't see?"


"By trusting in yourself and the people around you, there will be no limit to what you can achieve.  But be wary, Paul.  There lies many a trickster in your world which may serve only to deceive you," said Igor with a composed stare.  "In two days, you will begin your journey.  Should you fail, your world will crumble, and there will be nothing you can do to change that."


Paul frowned.  "There's really no way out of this, is there?"


Igor chuckled.  "You do not require a way out, Paul.  You require... a way in.  And so it shall be presented to you in a form that is familiar.  It is your task to go forward with those you have drawn to you and carry out a successful mission.  The question now is, will you do it?"


Paul took a few steps back from his cell door.  He was only now realizing how tightly he had gripped the cell bars.  He could not shake the rust from his hands, nor the empty feeling inside his head.  What was happening to him was real.


Paul raised his head and stared back at Igor, before finally giving an answer.


"I don't know how or why I was chosen for this.  I'm not a hero.  I don't even believe in heroes," Paul began.  "But for everyone else's sake.  For my sister, for my mother, for my friends.  I'll do it"


There came a burning sensation suddenly, rapidly in Paul's chest.  He felt a great pain like he had never experienced before.  He began to holler in pain, and Igor and his attendant observed Paul.  Paul fell to his knees and began to clutch at his chest.  He ripped through his clothes and where his heart should be was a crystal ball with a resonating blue flame within it.  It burned brightly as Paul stared down at it, trying to claw it away.  But instead, the pain slowly overcame Paul, and he could no longer maintain consciousness.  In the moments before he blacked out, Paul struck the crystal ball with his fist, and a tiny crack appeared down its center.


"It is time, inmate," said the large, dark man, as Paul blacked out and returned to the real world.



Tokyo Daylight

Friday, Morning

Heavy Fog 


       The school was abuzz early, as word of Kevin Garcia's "Bak-2-Skool Ba$h" had started spreading.  Invitations were limited, but what was most prevalent this morning was not the guest list.  Rather, it was the now publicly displayed "no invite" list.  An anonymous student had somehow obtained Kevin's "Do Not Invite" list, which had at least a dozen names on it.  Prominently displayed at the top of the screenshot were the names of his fellow teammates Ivan Louis, Brock Polpovich, Eric Sanders, and Oliver James.  They were among the most well-known players since Jason Garrett had been off the team due to his injuries, so seeing their names scratched out in Kevin Garcia's list was a shock to a lot of the school.  Garcia had unfortunately arrived on time to school today, and Ivan, Brock, Eric, and Oliver had not yet gotten word of his party or their lack of invitation.


"Shit," he mumbled, snatching down flyers in the halls.


"Kevin!" called Paul from down the hall.


"Hey.  Gimme a hand," Kevin said as Paul approached.


"Oh, dude.  We better get a move on.  This might be bad blood," Paul commented.


There was a sudden uproar behind Kevin and Paul from building D, and a storm of twenty to thirty students came marching toward them.  "Too late," Kevin groaned.


Leading the pack was Ivan.  Beside him were Brock, Eric, and Oliver respectively.  "What's this, Garcia?" Ivan asked as he approached his point guard.  "I'm not good enough for your shitty party?"


Kevin sighed and shook his head.  "You being good enough ain't got shit to do with it, Ivan."


Ivan looked at Brock, then back to Kevin.  "So, what?  I'm good enough to be on the team with you but not good enough to be welcome in your home, huh?"


"Basketball ain't got nothin' to do with it either," Kevin said, putting his hands in his pockets.


"Okay then.  Explain this list to me," Ivan demanded.  He stood nearly four inches taller than Kevin and his brooding face made Ivan quite intimidating.


"You're an asshole, Ivan.  You, Brock, all of you.  I can't stand you.  You can play ball, but you got no common courtesy.  Or even common sense.  That's why you ain't comin' to my party," Kevin said matter-of-factly.  


Ivan lurched forward but was stopped by Brock who restrained Ivan's arm.  "Do not ruin the season for a party.  It is of no consequence," Brock said in his thick accent.  "Besides.  Kevin is right.  You are an asshole," Brock laughed.


Ivan snatched his arm from Brock and shoved Brock backward.  "Shut up, Brock.  Let's go.  We'll see how much you get the ball now, Garcia.  Maybe I let Grace King run picks on your ass for free next week."  Ivan flipped Garcia off before storming out of Building C, back toward Building D.


Kevin sighed and shook his head, balling up the last flyers in his hands.  Paul pat Kevin on the back and grinned from ear to ear.  "What're you so cheeky about?" Kevin said, almost laughing at Paul's stupid grin.


"Ain't no good party without a little bit of controversy.  Am I right?" Paul joked.  "Seeing Ivan the Terrible get pissy about a party will probably get him invited to even less.  So it's pretty great."


Kevin shook his head again, laughing at Paul.  "Startin' to think you're an asshole too."





Morning classes were active with chatter as Kevin Garcia's party seemed to be the talk of the school.  In Paul's second class of the day, Algebra II, he couldn't focus on his assignment because he was busy texting Amanda.  Today, he sat at the back of the class just to make sure he wasn't seen with his phone in his hands.  He sat in the shortest row of desks which totaled three, placing him behind a new student named Piper, and another Junior named Avery.


"So, you wanna go with me to the party?  :)"


"Hmm.  I want to but I didn't get an invite."


"Kevin's cool, he's my guy.  He won't give me shit about bringing you lol"


"Okay.  On one condition."


Paul was elated. "?"


"We bring the whole crew.  Ded. Fic."


Paul frowned slightly.  This wasn't what he had in mind.  "...aight deal.  Group msg?"


"Nah.  Meet after school so we can talk it out :D."




"Junior parking lot.  I'll tell everyone."


"K.  See you then."


Paul audibly sighed.  He was hoping to just have fun with Amanda, but if Ded. Fiction was that important to her, he wasn't going to impose.  He could only hope that the rest of the club would oblige so that his chance to get closer to Amanda wouldn't be stifled by them not going.  He slid his phone back into his pocket, going unnoticed over the rest of the students in his class who were chatting among themselves about the party tomorrow evening.  


"Alright, settle down.  Even I heard about Kevin's party, but this is Algebra two, not Facebook.  So shut up, and pay attention.  This chapter is gonna cover inequalities.  And much like the difference in your grades, things will rarely be equal, so I suggest you invest in the coursework.  Now then..." said a slightly annoyed Ms. Herald.








"You going to the party?" Christina asked of Nathan as she sat down across from him.


"Nah, I got something I gotta do.  Why?  You gonna go?" Nathan replied before shoving a bread roll in his mouth.  He had picked up a G.O.H. "Southern Lovin'" roast beef special.


"Ugh, I don't wanna go by myself dude.  It's weird.  Everyone's goin' with a friend or a boyfriend, and I'm new here.  I can't just show up, y'know?" Christina said as she bit into a large slice of pepperoni pizza.  She stretched out the slice and cheese fell by the wayside as she pulled the slice away from her mouth.  She caught it with a finger and rolled the cheese up and plucked it into her mouth.


"Should you really be eating that?" Nathan joked.


"Today's my cheat day," Christina grinned, wiping her lips.  "But then, I'm gonna eat badly at the party too.  Guess my workout is gonna double on Sunday," she groaned.


"Oh yeah, that reminds me.  You ever come up with a stage name?" Nathan asked, taking a sip of his Coke-a-Cola.


"Mm, not quite.  But I was thinking like, 'Crazy Chris!' or 'Wild Red!' or somethin' y'know," Christina shrugged.


"Crazy Chris?  How about... Luda-Chris?" Nathan laughed.


Christina paused and swallowed her food.  "Dude.  That's perfect."


Nathan nearly choked on his bread roll.  "I was joking!"


"But I love it!" Christina said excitedly.



After School


A large number of clubs had called last minute meetings with their members to find out about party arrangements.  Ded. Fiction, Automotive, and Drama were among those clubs involved in last minute school meetings today.  


"Okay," Amanda began as the Ded. Fiction club's meeting began in the library.  "Everyone should be aware of this kick-ass party going down this weekend, right?"


Paul and Janet nodded, but Leo did not.  "Well, now you know.  I thought it would be an awesome idea as a club event for us to all go together.  We'll get to loosen up, have some fun, and get to know our newest member a little better.  Plus, after the first week of school, I already feel like I need a break," Amanda joked.  "So, whaddya say?  We all in?"


Leo rubbed his chin.  "Alright, I'll go.  Maybe I hook up with Rhonda.  I know for sure her and a few other cheerleaders are gonna be there."


"Ew.  Rhonda's your type?" Janet said quickly.


Leo rolled his eyes and ignored Janet.  "What about you, Haruka?  You gonna join us?"


"Yeah.  I don't wanna go if it's not gonna be all of us," Amanda said, nodding at Haruka.  "C'mon.  We'll keep a close eye on you.  You get uncomfortable or whatever and we'll dip like chips."


Paul began to secretly cross his fingers, hoping that Haruka would seal the deal for him.



Stage Presence


"So you're really stickin' with Luda-Chris?" Nathan asked, shaking his head.


"Yeah dude, it's badass," Christina smiled.


"Well, while you two discuss the impossibility of Red becoming a big name boxer, Jake is taking me to the party.  I was going to ask Tyler but, he uh, isn't present," Hensley said with emphasis.


Jake chuckled.  "Guess I got lucky."


"Not yet," Hensley shrugged.  "But depending on the party goes, you just might."


Jake's face was flushed red suddenly, and he couldn't help but chuckle to himself.


"Can we... can we not talk about Tyler?  I'm still bummed," Nathan said.  "Anyway, I only called you guys here to see about ride arrangements.  Chris doesn't wanna go alone, so do you mind if she third wheels?"


"Hey!" Christina interrupted.  "I'm no one's third wheel," she frowned.  Her mean streak was beginning to take over.


"E-easy Red.  We'd be happy to have you," Jake said.  "I-I can pick you up.  It's no trouble."


Christina sighed and regained her composure.  She quickly lost it and began to pout.  "This sucks, dude."



Fun and Games


"Okay, okay, okay.  So I already got everything planned out, aight?  I got the food, and since I know not everybody is gonna eat Mexican, I got a little somethin' for everybody.  I'm half black so I can do a lil' whippin' in the kitchen, okay?" Kevin joked.


"Yeah, yeah, but you better have those amazing chilaquiles this year.  They were so good last year!" Lace commented.


"Dude, I made so many," Kevin laughed.  "But yo, I know Jason's coming.  And Brad too.  Uh, new guy, Reno.  Avery.  Y'all gonna come through?  We a club so it wouldn't be right if you didn't.  Matter of fact, I would be super sad.  I might even cry a lil bit," Jason said, faking puppy dog eyes.  "Nah, but for real, y'all should come.  The more the merrier.  My ma's house his huge.  We got room.  Trust me.  Y'all could prolly ride with Lace and get there."


"Yeah, I know where his house is," Lace said with a smile.  "So, what do you guys think?  We gonna party, or what?"



  • Interact with your club mates.
  • Decide on whether or not you're attending Kevin Garcia's "Bak-2-Skool Ba$h".
  • Wrap up your day.

Drowning in your silence.



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Tyler’s day hadn’t gotten off to a good start. His phone had died sometime during the night so he slept in, completely missing most of his morning block, and then he had been forced to endure a stern lecture over his attendance when he had tried to check into the front office just before gym. That had taken so long to slip away from that by the time he got his gym class, Nathan was nowhere to be found, and Overton gave him an earful for not doing the stupid exercises he had assigned the class to keep them busy.


Needless to say by the time Tyler got to his fourth period, a woodshop class with basically no one he knew, he was in rare form. Most of the students took one look at the storm cloud that was his face and scrambled out of his way before he could let out his frustration on them, though a few senior boys in a group smarted off some snide remark as he walked by them.


Tyler ground his teeth so hard they threatened to break, resisting the urge to pick up the nearby shop stool and beat one of them over the head with it. He shoved his hands into the pockets of his jackets, digging his nails into the palms of his hands until he felt blood pooling beneath his fingertips, and moved away from all the other students to find an isolated corner in the shop. Somewhere with a power outlet so he could charge his phone to listen to music.


It was early enough that they hadn’t been assigned a project yet so Tyler just jammed for most of the class. His reputation preceded him to the point that nobody came within a five foot radius of him, and the teacher knew him well enough to know he wouldn’t cause any trouble if he was left to his own devices. As soon as it was time to leave Tyler beelined for the door, heading towards the gymnasium to hopefully catch the club in the middle of a meeting.


They were there, thankfully. Tyler hung back, out of sight, hesitant. Just as he was about to go over to them, his cell phone buzzed. He fished it out of his pocket to see a new text message:


Got a package for you. Need it delivered tonight, no later than 8:30.



Tyler glanced over his shoulder to make sure no one was looking, then swore, shoving his phone into his coat. He had been working part time as a delivery man for the extra cash, over the last few months. It wasn’t quite a normal job and the hours were inconsistent, but the pay was always good and when they had first moved to New Orleans his Dad had needed help with the rent, even if he hadn’t admitted it.


Tyler looked back at Nathan and the rest one last time, then turned and exited the gym. He always made sure that no one in the club interacted with him on delivery day; they didn’t need (to be?) dragged into that.


The sun was just starting to set when Tyler pulled the dinged up Crown Vic to a stop in front of the house. He wasn’t a fan of his ride for the night. It was different every time, but they all had a few things in common; the car was always older and inconspicuous, classic A-to-B junkers on the outside, but under the hood they were a different story entirely. They had paid him to make sure of that.


Well… That was the easy part of the job.


Tyler rubbed his hands together and sighed heavily, mentally preparing himself, then exited the car and walked toward the house. He hated going to new places and meeting new people. The house was dingy, located in one of the many rundown neighborhoods of New Orleans; the ceiling had started to fall in and the paint was peeling off the walls. Tyler knocked three times.


Sometimes the deliveries were easier than others. In the beginning it was just dropping packages where he was told and driving away, but more recently he had been forced to meet face-to-face with people. He wasn’t all that big a fan of how things had started working lately if he was being honest.


The man that answered the door was tall and gaunt, with bloodshot eyes that had a paranoid flicker. “... You’re the pizza guy?” he muttered.


“Yeah,” Tyler told him, nodding back towards the car. “Food’s in the car. Was too much to carry up on my own.” He stepped back to give the other guy room. “If you wanna go ahead and pay me you can help me bring it into the house.”


The man looked around again. Tyler had a bad feeling in his stomach, and noticed movement in the house from behind the man. “Bring it in first. I wanna make sure the order’s right before you leave.”


That wasn’t how this worked. “Ain’t happening,” Tyler shook his head. “Money first, then food. Can’t let you eat what you didn’t pay for.”


The gaunt man looked around again. He was getting tense. “The money’s inside. Just bring the dr--just bring it inside and we’ll pay you.” His tone was becoming more demanding.


Tyler started to move off the porch. “I’m getting outta her--”


A fist slammed into the back of his head before he got far. Tyler stumbled but caught himself on the railing and spun around. The gaunt man was pulling his arm back to swing another punch, and two more guys came out of the house behind him.


God f***ing damn it.


The second punch hit him on the side of the cheek but Tyler was ready for that one. He swung back hard, easily the strongest of the men present, and knocked the gaunt guy flat on his ass. His knuckles cracked painfully as it happened, and he was sure he had just dislocated a few of them.


The second two guys were on him before he could do anything else. One of them rammed into him and knocked him into railing on the porch, knocking the wind out of him and cracking his back in a way that sent a jolt of pain up to the base of his neck. He made to grab Tyler by the neck to choke him, but as soon as he leaned over, Tyler threw all of his weight into a headbutt that collided with his nose. It busted like a tomato and he howled, and Tyler went to follow up and hit him again before his side exploded with pain and he stumbled and almost fell.


The last guy had apparently hit him in the ribs hard. He swung again before Tyler could even get a shot at him, knocking him down the stairs and onto the ground. The fall was hard on his shoulder but Tyler launched back up to his feet. Two of them were already bearing down on him, one of them with a bloody nose and the other gripping a bloody pocket knife. The gaunt man still hadn’t gotten up from the ground.


Tyler snarled and threw himself at the one with a knife, tackling him back onto the stairs and smashing his head into the edge. The guy screamed and Tyler felt blood on his hand but before he could do it again the one with a busted nose grabbed his jacket from behind and hauled him off, trying to wrap his arms around the teenager to hold him still. Tyler threw himself backwards into the hold and sent them both tumbling to the ground in a heap.


They struggled on the ground, and the man grabbed his face trying to get ahold of him. Tyler bit into his hand as hard as he could, and the man yelped and let him go, rolling away. Tyler scrambled to his feet and a rushed over to the car, which he had left running for this reason. The men were all still getting to their feet and the pain hadn’t set in for him yet thanks to the adrenaline.


The Crown Vic’s tires smoked as Tyler peeled out and gunned it.



Tyler didn’t relax until he had returned the package and car to the house he had picked them up at and was back in his own car, roaring down the highway. The pain had finally hit him and it was all he could do to keep his eyes on the road; his head throbbed, his shoulder ached, his jaw was bruised, but the worst of it was his side.


What he had originally thought was a punch had actually been a knife. It hadn’t hit anything major, and he wound it up tight and stopped the bleeding, but it hurt so much that even sitting up straight was proving to be a challenge.


He was so focused on just driving that he failed to notice he was doing over a hundred until the sirens and lights lit up behind him. Tyler swore and eased on the brakes, pulling to the side of the road and dropping it into neutral. He sagged forward and laid his head on the steering wheel. He just couldn’t catch a break.


In his head, he heard his Pops voice again, telling him there was those who ran and those who stayed. His grip on the wheel tightened and he watched the officer approach in his mirror, shining his flashlight. All he had wanted out of the day was to reconcile with his friends, and instead he had been stabbed, beaten, and given a god damn ticket. No. No, f*** this. He wasn’t about to get a f***ing ticket after all the s*** he had just been through.


Right as the officer leaned down to tap on the window, Tyler threw it into drive and left him sputtering in a cloud of tire smoke. As he flew down the road, in his rearview, he could see the officer reaching for his radio as he ran back to his patrol car.


He heard his old man’s voice saying, “ain’t nobody faster than a radio”, and he growled and pressed the gas harder. f***. This. Entire. Day.



“New Orleans Correctional Facility?” Hensley whispered to herself.  “Uh, yeah, I’ll take the call,” she groaned.  She had a few guesses as to who it could be calling her this time of evening from the jailhouse.


“Hello?” the voice on the other end of the phone was hoarse, and the accent was familiar.


Hensley sighed.  “Tyler.  What the hell happened to you?  Why are you in jail?”


“... Would you believe me if I told you cops don’t appreciate it when you run from them?”


She tried her best not to laugh, stifling it to a chuckle.  “Yeah.  I would.  So what’s this about?  You needed a friend to talk to?”


Tyler was silent for a minute, the only sound coming from the other end of the line being his ragged breathing. “I… you know I wouldn’t ask if I had any other options. I can get you the money back, I just--f***. I need you to come bail me out, okay?”


Hensley didn’t say anything at first.  It was late and she had a visitor.  But this was as good a time as any to be asked to be bailed out of prison.  She finally sighed and answered.  “Okay.  Stay where you ar--actually you’re not going anywhere, are you?  God damn it,” she said as she got up to throw on her clothes.  “--hand me that,” Tyler would hear from the other end.  “No, Jake, the other one.  Okay.  Alright, Ty, I’m on my way.  Just, don’t get ganked before I make it there.”


Tyler sighed in relief. “Yeah, alright. Thanks,” and then after a momentary silence, “so… you and Jake huh?” he snickered.


Hensley grunted, annoyed.  “Well you wouldn’t and he was a sick puppy.  See you soon.”  Hensley ended the call.



Tyler could say for sure that he had been locked up in worse places. The cell was small and they had taken all his stuff, but they had given him water and only hit him with the nightstick a couple times when they had finally caught up to him. He had been in worse spirits before he had gotten ahold of Hensley, now it was just killing time until she got there to get him out.


Right on que he heard the guard on duty talking to someone, leading them into the room. He did his best to grin at Hensley when she entered the room, even though he knew he looked like hell warmed over with his busted up face. “Fancy meeting you here.”


“Long time no see, stranger,” Hensley said with a yawn.  “Oh uh, before we go out there, I have a few conditions,” she said as she stopped and folded her arms.


Tyler’s smirk wilted. “Conditions?” he said quietly.


“Don’t worry.  I’ll give you a disclaimer.  That is, you won’t have to pay me back.  And believe me, this wasn’t cheap.  It wasn’t expensive, but it wasn’t cheap.  So, you ready for ‘em?”


Tyler shuffled around. “Yeah, go ahead.”


Hensley nodded.  “First thing’s first.  You’re gonna apologize to Nathan.  Not to me, because I don’t give a s***.  Seeing you in cuffs is payback enough.  But Nathan is pretty sore about you walkin’ out on him.”


Tyler narrowed his eyes. He had already planned on apologizing but he hated being told what to do. “Yeah well I didn’t appreciate him just throwing that at m--” he sighed and hung his head, remembering where he was at. “Yeah, okay, apologize. Got it. Anything else, your Grace?”


“Yeah, there’s just one other thing,” Hensley said with a suddenly sly smirk.  She almost couldn’t wait to get it out.  “There’s a party tomorrow, and I’m going with Jake.  Nathan can’t make it.  So instead, you’re gonna take Christina in his place.”


Tyler blinked a few times. “Let me get this straight,” he said slowly. “You want me… to take Nathan’s sister, a new girl who I’ve barely met and probably hates me, to some dumbass high school party. Sound about right?”


Hensley nodded.  “I’m not gonna let her third wheel with us and she could use a chaperone.  Garcia’s parties aren’t known to be kid friendly, so I think you can handle it.  Either that, or you can sit here for the rest of the night and call your old man in the morning.”


Tyler rocked back on his haunches, staring at the ceiling. “Ooohh… tough decision. Sit here in this cell all night with a piss bucket and nothing to do, or take Nate’s hot redheaded sister to a party.” He shook his head. “You know you drive a hard bargain, but I think I’m gonna have to take you up on that offer.”


Hensley was secretly glad.  She was going to bail him out regardless, but she had to make sure she got something, anything out of Tyler.  “Okay.  Then I’ll get you out of here.  Oh and, uh, Nathan and Chris are outside,” she said quickly before she departed out of view.


Tyler jumped to his feet, knocking the wind out of himself because he was handcuffed to the cot. “What?! Hensley you b****! You weren’--... god damn it she’s gone. f*** this stupid day.” He sagged back against the cot and hissed in pain.



Tyler rubbed his wrists, smirking at the officer who had arrested him a little bit before deciding not to test his luck. It was bound to go wrong if he did. “See ya again, Mr. Police Man,” he waved as he slipped out the door of the station.


He looked over to Hensley, walking beside him. “So where did you all park? I’m gonna need a ride to a motel, ‘cause I told my old man I was staying at a friend’s for the night so I can’t go home. Especially not looking like this,” he waved his hand to gesture at himself, and then grimaced again from the movement.


Hensley held up the remote to her car and pressed the alarm to turn it off.  Neon blue headlights flashed to her north.  “We’re somewhere in the back here.  But uh, don’t you have something you wanna say to them?” she nodded toward a slightly jogging Christina and a low-head-hanging Nathan who were approaching.


“Dude,” Christina said as she got closer to Tyler.  “You got banged up.  You look like me after a bad fight,” she groaned.  “You good?”  Nathan stood silently behind her.


Tyler shrugged and smiled weakly. “You should see the other guys,” he said softly, looking at Nate. He took a deep breath. “Look man.. I’m sorry, okay? I didn’t mean to lose my cool like that. Just…” He worked a muscle in his jaw, trailing off awkwardly.


Nathan shrugged.  “You had every right to be angry, now that I think about it.  What I said was way out of line, and I didn’t mean it that way.  It’s no secret you’ve got a past but it wasn’t my intention to use that against you.  Nor was it my intention to hang that over you as some get out of jail free card.  Truth is, I don’t know anyone else besides you with the skills you have.  And your history has nothing to do with how good you are.  I just thought…” Nathan rolled his shoulder.


“I just hoped that maybe me and you could do something big with what we go.  But I won’t force that on you.  But if you ever change your mind, the offer is on the table,” Nathan said, finally sticking out his hand.


Tyler took his hand and pulled him into a one-armed hug. “I’ll take you up on it soon, man, just… not right now. I can’t right now. We cool though?”


Nathan nodded.  “I trust you.  And yeah, we’re cool.”





A whisper in the wind faded past them all, and no one heard it.  But on that wind, words of power bloomed, and a bond was formed.


They whispered, “I am thou.  Thou art I.  Thou hast acquired a new vow.  It shall become the wings of rebellion that breaketh thy chains of captivity.  With the birth of the JUSTICE Arcana, I have obtained the winds of blessing that shall lead to freedom and new power…”


But Tyler would not hear those words.  He could only grow stronger over time.




“But seriously they impounded my car, can I get a ride?”


Hensley sighed.  “I’ll get you a room in the Harahan in the Quarter.  Just make sure you don’t sleep for eleven hours.  Party starts at ten tomorrow night.”

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Daily School Routine

Friday, Morning

Heavy Fog


Jason went back to class the next morning, still thinking about the party that Kevin texted him about the night prior. It was no secret that Kevin Garcia's parties were quite the bash. And to be honest, he had joined at least just one that he could recall. And since the accident, he hadn't really done any partying, so this was a plus.


However, arriving in American History, Jason heard the mumbles about what apparently was leaked out: the Do Not Invite List. That only spelt trouble in his mind. He did notice that Paul was talking about it as well, so it would probably be best to ask about it. ...After class though...


Once class ended, Jason moved over towards Paul and waved. "Hey Paul. So what exactly happened?"


"Hmm? Whaddya mean what happened?" Paul scratched his head.


"That Don't Invite List that was posted out." Jason said. "Kinda made it sound like things are put under control now. Also, some of the other students mentioned Ivan almost beat Kevin."


"Oh, that," Paul shrugged. "Kevin's got certain dudes on the basketball team that he doesn't like. I dunno how his private list got out there, but yeah, everyone knows. And two-ton Ivan the Palm Tree Terrible didn't like it. He called his lil' possie over and they were gonna beat Kevin's ass for that list. Brock wasn't trying to lose his spot on the team for Ivan, so he held Ivan back. Then they just dipped out," Paul said with a nod. "Oh yeah, that's right. You and Kevin are tight, huh? So you must be goin' to the party then," Paul said with a smile.


Oh that didn't sound good at all. But then again, Jason was glad it all worked out at the end. However, Jason did make note of the last remark Paul made. "Well we were teammates..." Jason chuckled nervously. "But yeah. I'm going to the party. He said there wasn't going to be the basketball team there...so yeah. Definitely going to jump at that chance."


"Okay, cool. You bringin' any females witchu, Mr. Basketball star?" Paul joked, slowly walking toward the hall.


"Yeah...that I don't even know." Jason chuckled, rubbing the back of his neck nervously. "There's always that possiblity...but I dunno."


"Well keep your eyes open at that party bro," Paul said. "Oh, shit I'm being rude." He doubled back and balled up his fist, stretching it out toward Jason. "I'll see you Saturday," Paul said, waiting for the returned triple fistbump.


"Yeah." Jason nodded, returning the triple fistbump to Paul. "Catch ya then, Paul." he said, before moving towards the direction of his next class.




Achievement Unlocked: First Club Meeting

Friday, After School


"So, what do you guys think? We gonna party, or what?"


Of course, his first meeting in the Video Game Club, and right now all that was on the topic of discussion: Kevin's party. Then again, it wasn't too much of a surprise to Jason, since Kevin was in this club. He leaned in his chair some, before hearing what Lace said. "I mean...I think it would be cool if the whole club goes to the party like Kevin mentioned." Jason said, before smiling. "After all, with the basketball team not being there to be a nuisance, we might actually have a fun time there."


Kevin nodded. "Yeah, the less assholes the better."


Lace agreed. "And the more of the Video Game club there, the better."


Brad was busy in his mobile game. He only gave an excited grunt and a thumbs up.

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Friday, After School

Heavy Fog

"Okay. Everyone should be aware of this kick-ass party going down this weekend, right?"


Haruka didn't want to be here. Her uncle was leaving on a plane for Japan tonight to spend some time with the rest of Haruka's family. She couldn't comprehend why he'd want to spend time with those people, but it meant that Haruka would have the house all to herself this weekend. A couple days of well-deserved solitude were what Haruka wanted right now, not some last-minute meeting with the Ded. Fiction Club. Especially not to discuss attending a party. Of course Haruka wasn't attending!


"I thought it would be an awesome idea as a club event for us to all go together. We'll get to loosen up, have some fun, and get to know our newest member a little better. Plus, after the first week of school, I already feel like I need a break. So, whaddya say? We all in?"


"Alright, I'll go. Maybe I hook up with Rhonda. I know for sure her and a few other cheerleaders are gonna be there."


"What about you, Haruka? You gonna join us?"


"Yeah. I don't wanna go if it's not gonna be all of us. C'mon. We'll keep a close eye on you. You get uncomfortable or whatever and we'll dip like chips."


And they were putting pressure on her to let them all join. If it were just Haruka, obviously she'd say no. She had no interest in some dumb party hosted to commemorate coming back to this stupid place. But, at the same time, if it were Haruka on the other end of this, she'd absolutely expect a yes. It was a conundrum. Saying no didn't seem to be in her best interest, but she absolutely, definitely, undebatably, did not want to say yes.


"...I'll think about it," she eventually answered. "You can expect a more definitive answer sometime tomorrow."


And with any luck, they'll forget all about it by then.

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Friday, After School

Heavy Fog

Oh no. 
Avery hadn't felt like going to club today. Like always, she had just wanted to go from her last class to home. However, there was talk of a party going on. It was going on everywhere. Which meant it involved everyone. While the girl didn't really want to go to such an event to begin with, there was another issue that had come up in regards to it. One that she had found out when she had went to club that day. That was who was running this party. 
The girl's face seemed to be a bit pensive as her foot tapped in repetition as the club began talking about the party. They seemed to be pretty keen on having everyone go, especially as one of them was hosting it, and the girl's eyes started to drift away from the club, It was then directed at her and Reno to come and join the party as well. The girl's posture froze once again, as she looked to the rest of the group with a smile on her face. "Well, if I'm invited, sure. I'm not much of a party animal so be gentle with me." The girl let out a small chuckle at her own laugh. 
Bad. Stupid. Why. 
Avery wished that she could shut herself up.

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Friday, Morning

Heavy Fog


Gwen hadn't wanted him to go to school the next, however Quinn had just wanted to get his life back to normal. They'd compromised in that Quinn had stayed home for half of the day.


"Stay safe, ok kiddo. If you need anything call me, ok? I'll have my phone on me at all times." Gwen said as she let Quinn out of the car.


"Ok, thanks. I'll see you tonight."



Quinn's classes passed slow and uneventfully, and as the day dragged on Quinn wished more and more that he'd stayed at home. Everything seemed so pointless, like none of it was real. Everything sounded muffled to him like he was underwater or in a dream. He wondered what he was even doing here. Return to normal. What could go back to normal?



After School


Riku had called an "emergency" meeting for the drama club to make arrangements for Kevin Garcia's party. Quinn had heard about it during the school day, but it hadn't really cocerned him. He didn't really know Kevin that well, and parties weren't exactly his first priority at the moment. Besides he'd also heard about how Kevin had gotten into a fight with Ivan earlier in the day, and Quinn didn't exactly feel like getting in the middle of fight between those two.


"Ok, ok. Like this is all well and good, but did any of you guys actually get an invite to the party?" Quinn tuned back into the conversation as Wren, another member of the club.


"Ok, but like I heard the Ded. Fic club's going," Siobhan, another girl in the drama club, piped up, "like come on if those dorks can get in, I really don't think we'll have problem."


"Hey, hey, hey..." Riku gave Siobhan a disaproving look, "we really shouldn't be attacking other club's members over something as silly as a party." Siobhan simply blew out a snort in response.


"Hey wait, Quinn, what about you?" Siobhan turned her attention to him, "you're pretty popular aren't you? You must've gotten an invite, right?"


"Hm? Oh, no I didn't. I don't really know Kevin that well, and I mean not a big shocker he's part of the video game club and you know what type they attract." Quinn made a face while raising his eyebrows, which again drew a disapproving and distressed look from Riku.


"Guys, c'mon. Please don't go roasting people for the clubs they're in."


"You know, I heard that kid from basket ball team joined, so they can't all be total losers, right?" Wren returned to the conversation, and at this point Riku had given up trying to control his members.


"Jason Garret? I hear he doesn't exactly run with the in crowd anymore, you know after that game..." All four of them know which game Siobhan was referring too. Everyone at the school had taken that loss pretty hard, and the mob mentality that had come from it hadn't exactly been the Horseman's proudest moments.


"Broken wrist or not he's still pretty cute..." Wren muttered.


"Seriously?" Siobhan looked like she was about to crack up, "he looks so mopey, I just know he's got some baggage or some shit, and like I really don't care about dealing with that shit. What about you Quinn would you tap that?"


"I mean... I guess, but like his good looks really get ruined by the fact that he constantly looks like a kicked puppy who just walked in from the rain. Also he kind of looks like he would cry after sex..." At that Quinn and the two girls burst out laughing, while Riku just shook his head.


"You know it's wonderful that the irony you guys are roasting a former basketball star and also the guy throwing the first big party of the year, while also not being invited to said party." All three immediately stopped laughing, Wren muttering something about Riku being a party pooper.


"Why don't we just crash the thing?" Siobhan asked. "I'm a shit ton of people are going to be there, it's not like somebody's going to notice four extra people."


"Three." Quinn corrected. "I don't think I'm going to go out tonight, I'd rather just stay in you know."


"Whaaaaatt!?" Siobhan and Wren yelled at the same time. "You're going to turn down the first party of year, you can't!"


"Yeah we can't go to a party without our main bitch!"


Quinn was about to decline again, when he heard Riku, just barely speak up.


"Yeah it just wouldn't be a party without you."


Quinn was actually a little shocked. Sure, he and Riku were friends, but well parties generally weren't his thing and he was generally pretty distant.


"Alright, fine." Quinn said trying to keep his composure together. "On one condition though. Riku has to be my date."


"Uh..." Riku could barely form words, shocked by Quinn's request. "You want... with me?" Riku's face flushed red, not sure if Quinn was joking or not.


"Yup. If I'm gonna go I might as well not go solo."


"I-I mean, but... well we'll all be there as like a group..."


"That's not what I meant by solo."


"Come on, Riku!"


"O-ok. Ok, Quinn I'll be your date."


"Good." Quinn smiled. "Be sure you're not late to pick me up~" Quinn winked before leaving the room leaving Riku red as a tomato.


"Hey how was school today?" Gwen asked as Quinn hopped in the car.


"It was fine, pretty boring though. Honestly, probably should of stayed home like you said."


"Oh... anything interesting happen?"


"Not really..." Quinn paused for a moment. "Hey, is it alright if I go out with the drama crew tomorrow night?"


"Tomorrow...?" Gwen furrowed her brow, "so soon, I mean..." Gwen stopped. She couldn't keep Quinn shut inside the house to keep him safe, and this would only serve to drive him away more. "Ok. Yeah, just be safe, and text me an update every couple hours or so. I just want to know you're safe."


Quinn opened his mouth to protest, however he shut it before he said anything. Gwen was just looking out for him. "Ok," he said, almost too quietly to hear. "And thanks."




At home Quinn tossed his backpack down on the bed before tossing himself down on it as well. Letting his thoughts drift Quinn thought of another person who might want to do a little partying tomorrow night. Opening his phone he went to Piper's contact info.


Hey. It's Quinn. You want to go to Kevin Garcia's party tomorrow night with the drama crew and me?


Hitting send on the text Quinn flopped to his side on the bed before letting the sweet release of sleep take him.

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After School


        Paul quietly sighed to himself, admittedly feeling down.  He knew he wasn't going to be able to party with Amanda if Haruka didn't go.  Amanda always kept her word, after all.  He perked back up for appearance's sake and shrugged.  "Don't force yourself, Haruka," Paul said right away.  "These kinds of social settings are for everyone.  Not everybody likes parties.  And that's cool too."  He began to jog off from the Junior Parking Lot toward the bus stop.  "Anyway, I gotta get goin'.  I'm gonna stop at Athlete's Foot and see about some kicks.  Catch y'all later," Paul called as he turned his back to the Dedicated Fiction club.  He was lying of course.  Paul was just too disappointed to waste any more time at school.  They weren't supposed to meet on Friday anyway.


Once he was on the bus, Paul's smile faded.  He secretly hoped Amanda would change her mind and go anyway, with or without the rest of the club.  However, Paul was doubtful.  He plugged his Bluetooth earbuds into either of his ears and pressed play on his phone, drowning out any thoughts of Amanda or the party.  He couldn't be mad with Haruka.  It was her decision whether she went to the party or not.  How it affected him was not her fault or her problem.  He turned up the volume of his music until he could feel the bass vibrate in his ears, then leaned back against the cold siding of the bus.


"...so much for that," Paul thought to himself.



"Okay, baby.  Well, you be careful and give me a holler when you make it in," said Ms. Brown through her cellphone.  She could see Paul approaching the house as she sat on the porch in her jeans and tennis.  She had gotten off from work early today.  "Love you too.  Give Mickey a hug for me, alright?  Okay, baby.  Bye-bye."  She could see the disappointed look on Paul's face.  She didn't like it when he came home from school in a sour mood.


"Hey, mama.  Who was that?" Paul asked as he approached the house.  He stopped at the mailbox and lowered the handle, fiddling around inside of it for any mail.


"That," she said, standing to her feet and sighing dejectedly.  "Was your brother."


Paul took his hand from the mailbox and snapped it shut, annoyed.  "The hell does he want?  Did he do something stupid again?  Need us to send money to Mickey so she can bail him out?  Sick of him calling here," Paul mouthed off as he walked toward the screen door.  Paul pulled it open but Ms. Brown had stood up and slammed it shut before she let her open palm slap Paul across his jaw.  He turned his head at her strike and fell silent.


"First of all, you watch your damn mouth in my house.  You ain't no adult.  Not yet.  And the minute you wanna be a grown man, you can get out," she reminded him.  "It's what your brother did, and you have the same choice."




Ms. Brown held up a hand, threatening to slap him again.  Paul went silent once more.  "And second of all, that's still my son.  I ain't proud of the way he's acting, but he's still your brother.  And no, he wasn't callin' asking for anything.  He said he was callin' just to check on us.  To see if we needed anything," said Ms. Brown.  She sighed.  "He misses you."


Paul was finally allowed some breathing room, so he held the door open for his mother.  He followed her into the house and closed both doors behind her.  "Ma, I don't know why you don't just let him go.  I love Randy too, but he hasn't been home in years.  It's obvious he doesn't wanna be bothered.  I know he's your son and all, but I feel like he's taking advantage of you," Paul said at last.


"I'll worry about my relationship with Randy.  You two don't even have a relationship anymore.  And you ain't bothered to fix it, have ya?" Ms. Brown asked.


Paul shrugged.  "I don't really have a reason to, ma.  I'm getting by fine, with just you and Ann.  I don't need Randy."


Ms. Brown sighed.  "I don't expect you to understand a mother's love, Paul.  Randy's not home, so I'm always worried.  He hasn't been in trouble in a while but I still keep dreading picking up my phone everytime I see his number come up.  'Is he dead?  Did he get arrested again?  Is Mickie okay?'  I can't help but worry about my son.  You and your brother may not be close, but I still pray that one day you two will fix your relationship.  Y'all are all I've got.  And I'm gettin' old.  One of you two shitheads has to take care of me," she joked.


Paul smiled.  "What about Ann?  Why can't she take care of you?"


Ms. Brown raised an eyebrow.  "So you gonna stick me in a home till Ann can cover for you?"


"Ma, I was just playin', you know that."


"Mmm-hmm.  There's chicken and broccoli left from last night.  I made some fresh rice too.  Go eat," she said, dismissing Paul.


"Thanks, ma," Paul said as he dropped his backpack in the living room and darted to the kitchen.  He was suddenly overcome with hunger.



Before long, Paul was exhausted.  He had eaten dinner, showered, and said a prayer.  Even if he didn't get to go with Amanda to Kevin's party tomorrow, he had still made a commitment to Kevin.  He was going to go with or without friends.  


"Oh, yeah.  Jason Garrett is going.  Maybe I can get cool with him.  I bet he pulls girls with no issue," Paul thought to himself.  He sighed and flopped onto his bed.  His eyes were heavy and his body felt weighted down by his blanket.  Within twenty minutes, he had fallen asleep.

Drowning in your silence.

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Friday, Morning

Heavy Fog

Reno eyes opened slowly at the sound of the alarm going off. It was another day, another reason he should have stayed in bed. Groaning to himself, he rolled out of bed, sighing as he stretched his nude body, its full glory unseen to the world. He then went to wash his body in the shower, warm water running down his muscular body, cleaning it of the filth and waking up the sleepy giant. 

Finally, after drying off, Reno clothed himself, heading downstairs. He sighed as the smell of alcohol filled his nose. He knew what had happened last night, it was in his best interest to get out as fast as possible. Grabbing his bag, he rushed out the door, determined to get breakfast someplace else. 



Friday, After School



It seemed there was a party going on. Reno never really went to parties. The last time he remembered going was... never. He wasn't a party kind of guy, and most people just left him alone. However, it seemed the party organizer was part of this club. Perhaps he did a bad thing coming to this club after all...
"Yeah, I know where his house is," Lace said with a smile.  "So, what do you guys think?  We gonna party, or what?"
"I mean...I think it would be cool if the whole club goes to the party like Kevin mentioned." Jason said, before smiling. "After all, with the basketball team not being there to be a nuisance, we might actually have a fun time there."
"Well, if I'm invited, sure. I'm not much of a party animal so be gentle with me."


It seemed like everyone was going. Reno thought about it. It was an excuse to stay out of the house, at the very least. "I guess I'll go to," He said with a shrug. "Never been to a party before though, so beats me what we do there,"

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Piper's Room
The low hum of the new band she discovered on her way to home filled her room as she sat with her legs crossed on her bed. There was a canvas sitting a few feet in front of her, with a swirl of dark hues that seemed to be centered around an orb of some sorts. In the orb, she had begun to fill in different shades of light blues in what was the beginning of a fiery texture... she wasn't quite sure why, but something about this painting felt... right. It was almost like she had seen the scene before.
She hadn't been able to focus even a bit during school. There was talk of a party, and Quinn had skipped their morning period but other than that it was just another day. She drifted through all of her classes without even noticing, and after dealing with the process of getting her Art Club off the ground. Now all she need to do was find some members...
*beepbeep boobeebee boop*
Her cell phone sounded off causing her to jump slightly. With both her hands covered paint, Piper leaned back and swiped her screen with her foot. Sight of the words "Queen" in her notification made her face light up slightly, it was Quinn.
Hey. It's Quinn. You want to go to Kevin Garcia's party tomorrow night with the drama crew and me?
Piper's lips curled into a smirk. As she moved her phone so that it between her legs, the girl already began plotting what kind of outfit she'd be bringing out...
funk yes! I'll bring paint :D
She typed the words with her toes in a manner that clearly indicated that she had done so before. Leaning back and giggling with excitement, Piper brought her attention back to her painting. Inspiration stroke again with a vengeance. 

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Beneath the Mask



Light Rain


        Saturdays in New Orleans were a paradox.  This state of Louisiana's rich French and Spanish history was soaked in blood and mischief, and it carried over into the city of New Orleans today.  The French Quarter was guaranteed to be busy, and if you were a tourist you would assume that this was because New Orleans was a party town.  You would be wrong, however.  New Orleans was a city that valued its tradition above all else, and Saturdays were almost sinless.  Saturdays were reserved for mass, and more than half the population were making their way to their church of choice.  Whether you were Baptist, Catholic, Jewish, or any other denomination, a rather absurd portion of New Orleans' population would be spending their time practicing their religion on Saturdays.  This was an unavoidable fact, no matter how disturbing it may be.  And the numbers of persons practicing religion were growing every year.


One popular church, in particular, was "Resurrection of the Lord", now established in the St. Louis Cathedral in the French Quarter.  It drew an incredible crowd every Saturday, as people gathered to repent for their sins before they spent their next day sinning again.  


Each Saturday, "Resurrection of the Lord" held three services: one in the early morning, one after 10 a.m., and one after one p.m. to accommodate its crowd.  Each service drew more than three-thousand churchgoers, not including church staff and members of church committees.  That was more than nine thousand people attending one church.  And you would think this following would be attributed to the religion, but the people of this church follow their leader above all else; that man was Father Jacob Tiverly.  An older white man from right in the heart of New Orleans had been born into the Catholic faith like his father before him, and also like his father before him, he led "Ressurection of the Lord" every Saturday.


Father Tiverly's church and its followers were so popular that they had even seen their fair share of celebrities come and go to "Resurrection of the Lord", including the Pope.  Because of this incredible following, Father Tiverly had to recruit many more priests to assist him.  Even after church services ended, the confession booths would be flooded with those who were seeking forgiveness, creating lines that wrapped around the church pews.  There was something about Father Tiverly that drew these people, and it made for a powerful spectacle.  There were always whispers of just how Father Tiverly managed to get such a following beneath him, but he always accredited his work to the Lord.  "I am only doing the Lord's work.  They should follow Him, not me.  I'm but a shepherd," he would say.



"Lock up and I'll go start the car," Ms. Brown said to Paul.  She was wearing a neat black and white blouse with a ruffled black skirt and black heels.  She opened a large dark-green umbrella to shield herself and Ann from the morning rain.  Ann was wearing a ruffled red and black polka-dot dress with white stockings and black buckled shoes.  


"Don't trip mama," Paul said, closing the door behind him as their alarm beeped.  He had on black slacks, a white oxford collared shirt, and his good church shoes.  He locked the screen door behind them and opened his own smaller, black umbrella.  Ms. Brown's car started and Paul shuffled his way to the passenger's seat.


"Mama, can we go to McDonald's for breakfast?" Ann asked from the backseat.


"After church, we'll go to the Pancake House and get you some pancakes instead.  How's that?" Ms. Brown asked, backing out of the driveway.


Ann cheered and even Paul couldn't help but smile.  But his smile quickly faded.  For the first time in some time, he felt strange about going to church.  He had practiced the Catholic faith all his life, but today, he wondered why he was going at all.  He shook his head silently and tried to push those blasphemous thoughts from his mind.  "Resurrection of the Lord" was a great church, and he had no reason to doubt his faith or the people who led him.



The church service today had dragged on more than Paul was expecting.  It was like he was back in church for the first time, unsure of what to think or how to feel.  Yet, when Father Tiverly cracked a joke, he perked right back up.  Thankfully, by the time he realized it, the service had ended.






After brunch, Ms. Brown dropped Paul back at home while she and Ann decided to do some Saturday shopping.  The rain had stopped and the skies were clear for the day.  "We'll be back around 5 tonight.  I'm gonna get Ann another dress for church and stop at the grocery," she said from the window of her car.


"Oh, ma.  Is it cool if I go chill with Kevin tonight?" Paul asked.


"He still in Eastover?  And are his parents okay with you coming over?" Ms. Brown replied.


Paul nodded.  "Yes, ma'am.  They were cool with it and me and Kevin are probably gonna stay up all night playing this new game he got."


"You gonna stay over?" Ms. Brown reaffirmed.


Paul nodded again.  "Yeah.  I'll be back first thing in the morning if that's cool."


Ms. Brown nodded.  "Alright.  Just make sure you pack a bag and be a good guest.  You know I like the Garcia's.  Don't you embarrass me."


Paul smiled.  "Never, ma."


"You gonna walk?"


"Nah, I'll take my bike.  I'll lock it up in Kevin's backyard."


"Alright.  C'mere, gimme a hug," Ms. Brown insisted.  Paul leaned in the window and hugged his mother.


"Bye Paulie!" called Ann from the backseat.


"Bye sis.  See y'all tomorrow," he replied, stepping away from the vehicle.  It pulled away and Ms. Brown honked twice.  Paul waved to them as they disappeared onto Pressburg Street and turned the corner.


Paul stepped back into the house, turned off all the bells and whistles and loosened up.  He snatched off his church clothes quickly and threw them in his hamper.  He had bought new black jean shorts, new shoes, and a hat to match.  Those savings from the summer were going quickly, but he didn't mind.  He slipped into his shorts and then picked up his phone from his bedside table.  He powered it on and sent a message to Kevin right away.


"I'm good for tonight.  How you makin out over there?"


"Dude I'm swamped.  Even with my bro we got so much to do."


"I'm omw.  I'll give you a hand."


"Aight, bet."


Paul began to pack a bag with a spare shirt, the necessary hygiene equipment, his phone charger, and a few condoms, just in case he got lucky.  It was now 1:15 p.m.  He could get to Kevin's house in fifteen minutes even if he took his time.  He threw on his shirt and hat, tucked his earbuds into his ears, and grabbed his bike from the side of his house.  Then, he locked up, threw his bag on his back and began to pedal.



Kevin's parents were pretty wealthy.  His mother was a traveling saleswoman and his father was the leading electrical engineer for NASA in Michoud, about twenty minutes from their home.  But this weekend was their anniversary, so both Mr. and Mrs. Garcia took time off to spend with one another for the weekend.  They were on a trip to Chicago and wouldn't be back until Tuesday morning.  This gave plenty of time for Kevin to throw his party and clean up afterward.


The Garcias lived in a large house in a gated community.  Kevin was cool with the guard and paid him off to be "sick" today.  The guard was still watching the neighborhood, but truth be told, he wasn't paying much attention to anyone passing through.  He simply waved them all through.  As Paul passed by on his bike, he too was waved through and made his way to Kevin's house.


It was a large house, and it impressed Paul every time he saw it.  It was two stories, with five bedrooms, three bathrooms, a theater, a sunken living room, a massive dining room that seated fifty, two guest bedrooms, a study, a "man cave", and an incredible backyard with a pool, a barbeque pit, and a six car garage.  


Paul knocked on the door and was greeted by Anthony Garcia, Kevin's younger brother.  "What's up lil' man?" Paul asked with a nod.  Anthony opened the door wide and shook Paul's hand.


"Hey, Paul.  Kevin's in the kitchen.  We're finishing food prep," Anthony said.  "Drop your bag anywhere.  Did you put your bike up?"


Paul nodded.  "Yeah, I stuck it in the garage.  It was open."


"Cool.  Wash your hands and help us out."



"Holy shit dude, we finished," Kevin laughed, wiping sweat from his brow.  "And with three hours to spare."


"Good thing you said ten and not seven," Paul chuckled.  "Mind if I borrow your shower?"


Kevin shrugged.  "Yeah, pick one."


Paul shook his head and laughed.  "Jesus dude, you've gotta tell your guests to pick a shower.  That's money right there."


Kevin and Anthony laughed.  "Yeah, and I'm gonna be rollin' in it when I get this contract from Tulane."


Paul stopped and turned around.  "Word!?"


Kevin nodded.  "I knew we were getting scouted last semester bro, but I got approached after the championship.  Full ride."


Paul threw his disposable gloves away and shook Kevin's hands.  "My man.  Aight I'mma go clean up then ride back to my house.  I might be meeting some friends to bring this way, so I'll be back."


"Dude, Ant can drop you off so you're not sweaty all over again," Kevin said.




"Yeah, I got you.  Go clean up."





Paul arrived back at home.  He had left his bike and his bag at Kevin's house.  It was now eight o'clock p.m.  There were just two hours before the party started.  He opened up his phone and started a group message with the Ded. Fiction members.


"Anyone heard from Haruka?  Anyone know if she's going or not?"


"No, not yet," said Janet.


"Nope.  Nada," replied Amanda.


"Nah, sorry," Leo added.


"Okay, thanks."


Paul shoved his phone back into his pocket.  He had added Haruka to the group in the event she changed her mind, but it looked like he would be going to this party solo after all.  



Kevin sent a mass text to the Video Game club with his address and directions on how to reach his home.  He prioritized them, then he began to send text messages to other outliers from the party.  The text eventually reached every club with the exception of the Art Club and the Drama Club.  Even so, Kevin's party had already been talked about so much that word of mouth got "public invitations" with his address to most of the student body.  The address for the party practically fell into Quinn and Piper's lap.  


And when Nathan, Hensley, Jake, and Christina got the invitation, they immediately relayed it to Tyler.


The party was about to begin.

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Tyler leaned back against the door of his car and crossed his arms over his chest, waiting for Christina to come out of the house. He wasn’t totally dressed for a party; he had put on a black hoodie, a beanie, and and one of the few unstained pairs of jeans he had.


Comfort over style this time. The doctor had bound his ribs up tight with gauze and told him to avoid any strenuous activity, so that he didn’t tear out his stitches or make anything any worse than it already was. He had still made sure to polish his car and detail the interior before heading over, though, because even being stabbed wouldn’t keep him from having a clean car.


He pulled out his phone and shot Nathan a text.


Tyler - 9:24 PM

Never gave me her number so tell her im here.


Christina had been waiting at the door, admittedly nervous.  She had elected to style out a bit since this was her first party in a new city.  She had on skinny jeans that amplified her curves.  She wore a long sleeve red and white low-cut top that covered her shoulders and tied in the back.  Her hair was drawn into a bun atop her head and she wore red and white Nike’s to match her top.  She threw a light red sweater over her shoulders and came bounding down the stairs.  Her nervousness turned into excitement.


“Hey,” she said with a grin.  “Ready to go?”


Nathan waved from the door.  “Have fun.  I’m going out.  You got your key?”


Christina turned around.  “Yeah dude, in my pocket,” she said dangling her keys in one hand.


Nathan nodded.  “You guys drive safe,” Nathan joked.  He gave them both a wave and closed the door.


Tyler didn’t move for a moment. “So… they weren’t really specific. Am I just taking you to this party, or am I taking you to this party?”


Christina tossed the sweater on her shoulders into the alley beside her home.  She hated that sweater.  Then she let down her hair and shook her head.  “I’m cuttin’ loose tonight,” she said now that Nathan wasn’t at the door.  “So if you wanna go, I’m happy to go with you.  Or you can drop me off and dip.  I’ll find a ride home.”


Tyler couldn’t lie, the offer was tempting. He wasn’t in a partying mood, so much as he was ready to start hibernating. “Nah, I’ll stay. I don’t trust half the people showing up to that party, and you’re my best friend’s sister. Gotta make sure you at least get home safe.”


Christina nodded.  “Okay, then.  Show me a good time ‘bro’,” she joked.  


Tyler snorted. “Get in the car then.”



When they arrived, there were already eight other cars parked in the driveway of a large two-story home.  The music being played could be heard from outside, and two more cars were pulling up behind Tyler.  


Inside, the smell of marijuana and beef filled the air.  People were dancing in the living room and Kevin was seated high on the back of a sofa with a large blunt in his hands.  The DJ was in the back of the home but he had speakers connected upstairs and downstairs.  Kevin waved Christina and Tyler in, despite not recognizing either of them.


“Food’s in the kitchen, help yourself!” he screamed over the DJ.  “Drinks in the kitchen too.  Liquor in the minifridge!”


There was a crowd of people in the kitchen standing around a keg and a tall white boy with a tall mug in his hand.


“Chug it!”


“Chug!  Don’t puss out!”


Christina grinned and headed straight for the kitchen, past the stairs, through the living room, stepping past the DJ booth.


There was an array of food, mostly Latin.  There were nachos, chilaquiles, enchiladas, a spicy chorizo dip, and much more.  There were cheap beers and expensive beers, then there was Kevin’s personal hard liquor which was kept shelved at the top of the kitchen shelves.  From tequila and scotch to crown and goose, they had it all.


“Tyler!” Christina waved to him.  “Do a shot with me!” she said, pointing to the tequila.


Tyler was already fighting off the beginnings of a migraine. “Yeah, sure,” he said as enthusiastically as he could muster. This was going to be a looonnggg night.

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Light Rain

Haruka never was one for religion. Youkai, gods, magic, and divine intervention, all belonged in the realm of fantasy and superstition. Haruka wasn't having any of it. Her uncle, on the other hand, he'd always been pretty open to all sorts of things, ever since Haruka met him at least. She wasn't surprised to hear he'd visit this church or that one on a given Saturday. Today was no exception.


<Haruka, I'm going now,> her uncle said. He was speaking plain Japanese, but for some reason, the statement irked her this weekend in particular. Maybe because he was taking off for Japan later today, but was still treating the morning like any other morning? He'd be gone for a whole week, and while Haruka welcomed the chance at some solitude, it felt like he should have been attending any last-minute business instead of meandering off to hear somebody preach about a big man in the sky who probably wasn't there in the first place and his son, the carpenter with some parlor tricks.


<Alright, try not to do anything stupid.>


<By the way... when I get to Japan, would you like me to put you on the phone with anyone?>


<Absolutely not,> Haruka scoffed. Those were the last people Haruka wanted to talk to. <Unless a certain somebody keels over and dies, I don't care what everyone else is doing over there.>


<Okay, okay, easy there, killer. I'll come back before it's time for me to head for the airport, okay?>


<Do what you want.>


The time had come. The time for Haruka's uncle to take off for Japan, that is. The rain from this morning had cleared up earlier today - which Haruka was glad about - and her week of solitude was finally about to begin. Her and her uncle exchanged some brief goodbyes, before he got in the car and drove off. Time to get her week of Haruka time started, then. She turned, grabbed the doorknob for the front door, and found... it was locked.


I must have locked it out of habit, she thought to herself. Reaching for where she usually kept her house key, Haruka thought to herself, No big deal. It's just a tiny roadbump toward...




That wasn't right. Her keys were supposed to be there. She checked again, in various places on her person. Keys? Where did I put them? Maybe here? No? Ummm... dammit. I'm locked out!


And as if that wasn't enough, her phone was ringing. Seemed Paul started a group message with all the Ded. Fiction club members, asking if anyone had heard from Haruka herself if she was going to the party.


Divine intervention belongs in the realm of make-believe Haruka says. That sort of stuff only ever happens in anime and manga Haruka says. Shows how much I know.


<This is a joke,> she grumbled to herself, typing in a response for the group message. Seemed she was going to that stupid party anyway.


I'll go.


Can't wait to start regretting this.

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Friday, Evening


After the club came to the conclusion of everyone was going to Kevin's party, they broke the meeting up and let everyone get back to their respective homes to rest up for the big day tomorrow.


When Jason arrived home, he honestly was in a good mood and nothing his parents muttered was going to get him down. To be honest, this was the perfect excuse for him to get out and hang out with friends...er...kids his age and to keep himself away from staying home. Honestly, what was his plans for Saturday before the party? Homework, possibly gaming, and then just going to stay in bed. Not the most productive day.


Tomorrow...tomorrow is gonna be a good day. he thought, deciding to turn in for the night.




Saturday, Morning

Light Rain


Unfortunately, the party wasn't right away. And to be honest, Jason didn't want it to be right away first thing in the morning. After all, he had an appointment today for a bit of rehab. It was a one week check and work out with his sports injury rehabilitation for his wrist. The last couple of weeks it actually was showing some good signs. But of course, the doctor kept reminding him not to use his wrist over long periods of time. Though it was hard not to, considering this WAS his dominant hand.


Jason at this moment of his rehab was in the ends of Phase II (Restore joint motion and muscle flexibility) and the beginnings of Phase III (Restore muscle strength, power, and endurance). If things didn't change at this point, he'd be on the road to a full recovery and just need to visit the doctor once every three months, or something like that, he wasn't sure.


All he cared about was the possibility of his wrist being 100% healed.




Carpool - Video Game Edition

Saturday, Evening


It wasn't long when Jason got the text via Kevin regarding his address and the directions to get there. Before he was able to send anything back, he got one from Lace.


"Yooooo! We r N route! Send me ur gps ping so we kno where u r!"


A ride over to the party as well? Jason thought, before chuckling as he sent a GPS ping back to Lace.


He slid his phone into his pocket before making sure he had his stuff all together. His in somewhat of good state, his clothes looked good, had his phone in his pocket. Other than that, he just needed to put his wrist brace on his left wrist. After that, he slowly headed downstairs, to which he could hear his foster parents having quite the...ahem..."talk". He moved out the way, away from where the yelling sounded like it was coming from and then ran into Alice.


"Jase, where are you going?" she asked.


Jason sighed and looked back towards the area where the yelling was happening. "Going out with the members of the Video Game Club. T-They said it was...ya know, team building exercises."


Alice crossed her arms, sighing. "Your a terrible liar. But still, be safe out there. Alright?"


"I will sis." Jason said, moving past Alice and then heading towards the door where he was finally greeted with the sight of a 2025 skyblue Dodge mini-van. "Min-van...wasn't what I was expecting." he said, making his way towards the van.


Brad circled a corner and stopped as he saw Jason in his rear-view mirror. He slid open the passenger door and waited for Jason to enter the vehicle.


Jason gave Brad a thumbs up as he got into the van. "Thanks for the lift guys. I honestly wasn't sure if I needed to hoof it there or just get dropped off."


Brad remained silent as the door automatically closed behind Jason. For the first time in Lace and Jason's presence, Brad would speak. "Seat belts, please," he said with the most dry, monotone voice.


"You can still talk?" Lace squeaked in surprise.


Brad turned to her slowly before changing gears. "Seat belts."


Jason almost immediately did what the man asked, before deciding to send Lace a quick text. "Is this legit the first time he's talked? o.o"


Lace's phone vibrated in her pocket. She quickly took her phone out to reply. "I aint heard him speak since the day he joined! o.O That was 2 years ago! waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah!"


Jason blinked a bit, sliding his phone back into his pocket. A guy not talking in a club for almost two years? That's pretty impressive and scary at the same time. Still, he felt Brad start driving the car, as he guessed they'd probably head out to pick up the others.




Standing there, outside the school’s entrance, it was clear to any onlooker that Avery had been waiting for someone. Wearing a t-shirt and skirt, tags freshly cut off them, the girl seemed to have an expression shifting between neutrality and nervousness, as she continually tapped her foot where she stood. Every car that passed by seemed to arrest her attention, as she didn’t actually remember which one she was supposed to be looking for.


A suspiciously pristine sky-blue minivan pulled into Greater Orleans’ High’s entrance, where Avery awaited.  The passenger rear door opened to reveal Jason, Brad, and Lace inside. Five empty seats remained, and Avery was about to take one of them.


“Hmm.  She doesn’t look convinced.  I’m gonna make sure she has some fun at this party.  Even if I have to enter a special quick-time event and mash the correct buttons to ensure the fun is rammed down her throat.  AVERY GET IN HERE!” Lace screeched excitedly.


“Hopefully, it won’t have to come down to that.” Jason chuckled nervously. Special Quick-Time Event? Yeah, that sounded like someone who truly took this Video Game Club seriously.


The girl seemed to be surprised as she heard Lace’s voice yell out to her. Her expression becoming more pleasant the girl walked over to the van in question. “Oh, um, hey there guys.” The girl’s surprise came back as she noticed how...spotless...the inside of the van was. Shaking it off, she said, “sorry about having you pick me up here.”


“Eh, I’m sure it’s fine.  Off to Reno Carino Babino’s pick-up site!!” Lace cheered.


“Erm.  Is that his name?  I’ll need to update his contact information in my phone,” Brad commented.


“...no.  Now drive, minion!” Lace demanded




Reno waited silently in front of the cafe he told the others to pick him up at, looking to the sky as he sipped on some hot chocolate. He wasn’t sure if they even remembered to come pick them up. Honestly, it wouldn’t surprise him. He was quiet, and everyone was excited. Well, he had other things he could do.

Why was he doing this instead of those things? This party was a bad idea, something he could feel in in his gut. Still, he made a promise, and it wouldn’t be very manly of him to break that. He really didn’t like this though.


Brad slowed his van around a corner, carefully monitoring for oncoming traffic and flicking on his turn signal. With a very precise turn, Brad positioned the minivan exactly in front of the cafe. He proceeded to honk his horn exactly one time.  A low octave beep alerted Reno of their presence, the giant taking one final sip of his hot chocolate before tossing the cup into the trash can. He then climbed in, taking a seat in the back.

“Thanks for the ride,” He stated in a neutral tone.


“Reno isn’t smiling.  Why isn’t he smiling?  Isn’t he happy to see us?  We’re going to a party!  Time for party hats, streamers, and horns!  HONK THAT BABY, ONE MORE TIME!” Lace insisted of Brad.

Brad slowly turned his head toward her and shook it left and right.  “That’s quite impossible, I’m afraid,” he said.  “I’m given exactly one specially designated honk per use of my mother’s vehicle.”


“Eh?  You’re weird,” Lace commented.  She proceeded to lean over into Brad’s lap and honk the horn four more times.  “LET’S GO RENO BURRITO!  IT’S PARTY TIME!” she screeched.


Brad frowned.  “Mother will be most displeased.”


“Woo hoo,” Reno stated so flatly a flat earth theorist would fall in love with him, after getting in.

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Piper sat at the edge of her bed with her legs crossed. Her eyes rhythmically darted back and forth between the phone on her lap, and the window to her right that gave her a view of the street below.

Waiting for the "we're outside" text was always the worst part of going out...

Sighing, she blew a stray strand of hair out of her face before jumping up and drifting over to her mirror to study her attire for the night.


This was the first time that she had an excuse to get dressed up since being shipped out, so she decided to go grunge with a black oversized Nirvana T-shirt that she cut down to the top of her stomach to reveal a tiny crop top. Glancing down at her legs, she wondered if fishnets were going a bit overboard... but quickly decided it was a good call after imagining how cute they'd look with boots.

“Com’on, Quinn…” Piper groaned.




“Riku, hurry uuuuuupppp Quinn whined from the passenger seat, “She’s probably waiting now!”

“I am going the speed limit Quinn, and besides maybe if you hadn’t taken so long to get ready we wouldn’t be late.” Riku shot back, Quinn only responded with an offended look. “Also where's the next turn, I told you I don’t know this neighborhood, so I’m going to need your help.”

“Oh yeah, uh…” Quinn glanced down at the Google Map, “Um, it looks like we’re going to take a left at that stop sign, and then I think it should be down that cul de sac to the left?”

“Ok- Siobhan you better not light that blunt in the back of my parent’s car,” Riku glared daggers at the girl in his back seat as she slowly returned the blunt to what was now an empty Altoids case.

A few minutes later the four drama club students had pulled up in front of the house they believed to be Piper’s.

beep beep motherfucker, we’re outside Quinn typed before hitting send.

“Damn this girl’s wild rich!” Wren marveled staring out the window. “You never told us you ran with the 1% girl!”

“I wasn’t aware that I did, she never mentioned anything about her home life…” Quinn also stared up at the big house.


Keep the engine running! I'll be right down... Piper's fingers danced across her screen whilst she darted around her room to gather her things. Sliding black leather backpack over her shoulder, she gave herself one final examination in the mirror before ducking under her bed to grab the large bottle of expensive apple vodka that she had looted from the liquor cabinet in the basement.

"This turn-up is brought to you by, Uncle Tom and Diddy~" She giggled with excitement.  

With her preparations complete, Piper made her way over to her door and flicked the lights off. Clicking the lock, she tested the door to make sure it was secure before tiptoeing to the window.

This was where the fun really started. No better way to start a night out than sneaking out of a second-floor window, right?

She had planned this trick the very moment she’d been dropped off here at her Uncle’s and saw the large tree looming conveniently close to the house. It seemed easy enough on paper. Though as she lifted open her window and took her first step out onto the ledge, she began to wonder if maybe she should have told Quinn and the others to bring a ladder...


The Drama club was treated to quite the spectacle as Piper’s tiny form leaped onto the tree and began clumsily climbing downwards whilst cradling the monster bottle of booze in her arm as if she were rescuing a child. Ending her not so graceful descent with a tumble that landed her flat on her ass, Piper quickly shot up and sprinted over to the car with a big grin on her face.

“Go Go Go!” Her voice was a hushed whisper as she reached the car and pulled the door open seconds after her home’s kitchen light flickered on.

“Uuuuhhhh…” Wren stared at Piper as she slid into the bad seat, Y’all she just jumped from the window…”

“Do your parents know you’re going out tonight?” Riku looked back at Piper from the front seat.

“Who cares she’s got some good ass vodka! Let’s get to that party Riku!” Quinn smacked Riku on the shoulder and started giggling.

“Hey!” Riku recoiled from the smack but started driving all the same.

“Yea my uncle won’t miss it, and I figured if we’re crashing this kid’s party we should at least bring some booze…” Piper smirked as she sat up in her seat and twisted the bottle’s cap off. Finally catching her breath she glanced around the car and smirked, completely ignoring Riku’s inquiry about her parents.

“I’m sure Quinn already told you guys, but I’m Pipper!”  After bringing the bottle up to her lips for a quick swig, Piper turned to the other members of the club and tilted her head to smile and offer the bottle around.

“Girl I’ll call you whatever you want if you bring shit like this with you!” Siobhan grabbed the bottle from Piper and took a quick swig.

“Hey! We’re going to get pulled over by the cops, put that thing away!”

“Ugh, fine party pooper.”



A few minutes later the group of 5 pulled up to Kevin’s house, where it seemed the party was already in full swing.

“See I told you it’s always good to be fashionably late, the party doesn’t get good until like an hour in at least.”

“Yeah, yeah, yeah alright,” Riku laughed as he and the four passengers left the car.

“Now I can really start having fun,” Siobhan cackled taking the blunt from its place in her purse lighting it. “Now that’s some good shit!”

“Gimme that!” Riku said wrestling the blunted from the dark-skinned girl’s hands, and impressing most of the group when he took a long rip off the blunt before passing it back to an open-mouthed Siobhan. “Woo! Now that was good… what’s up guys?”

“Riku that was a blunt, like weed…”


The three drama club members stared dumbly at their club president, who to their knowledge, had never broken a rule in his life.

“What I’m not allowed to cut loose every once and a while?”

“Yeah, well try not to cut too loose aren’t you supposed to be our DD?” Wren laughed.

“Don’t worry I’ll be fine. Now are we gonna sit out here all night, or are we going to go party?” Riku asked which got the group cheering as they entered the house.



Inside Quinn immediately felt himself getting claustrophobic uncharacteristically uncomfortable from all the people around him. Sliding next to Riku he grabbed his hand, which cause Riku to look down surprised.

W-what’s this all about?” Riku said hopeful Quinn couldn’t tell how red he was due to the low light in the room.

“You’re my date, remember?” Quinn replied winking coyly.

“Oh, y-yeah.”

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No Limit

The Turn-Up
        Kevin was in the living room standing on his sofa when several strangers showed up.  He knew it was inevitable to get party crashers, so he blew it off.  "Aye, yo!  Somebody get these ladies some drinks," he called out excitedly.  "Yo Anthony!  Pretty girl at the door!" he said pointing to Piper as he threw back a half cup of Bourbon.  
The house was littered with guests, ranging up to about sixty people total.  Variously scented smokes filled the air and mixed with the smell of food and alcohol.  The stairs were packed, the living room was practically spilling over out onto the lawn, and the kitchen was covered with bodies.  People were busy exchanging laughs and digging into a plentiful kitchen of alcohol and food.  The DJ had left his set-up on auto-play to take a breather, so the music was constantly going.  The house rocked with fun Kevin couldn't have been happier.
Anthony looked up from the lips of a black haired female with a blunt in her hands.  She sat backward on his lap with her legs around his waist and blew smoke into the air.  "I got mines," Anthony called back.  "And get yo stupid ass off the sofa!"
"Fuck you!" Kevin replied as he jumped down and stomped over to his brother.  "Let me get that, sweetheart," he requested, taking the large blunt from the black haired girl.
"Kev, your mans is fucked up.  Can't handle his liquor," said a laughing Paul.  
"He in the bathroom?" Kevin asked as he ripped one from the blunt.
"Yeah, he's over the toilet now with some girl holdin' his head," Paul said still laughing.
"Long as he doesn't puke on my floor, I don't care," Kevin laughed.  "Lemee know if he kills over," Kevin joked.
"Yeah, aight," Paul replied, passing back toward the kitchen.  He carefully stepped past a tall guy standing next to a redhead, taking shots.  He grazed the back of the large guys' shoes, citing "my bad", as he eased into the kitchen.
Christina took the tequila down from her lips and threw her head back.  She smiled as she slammed down her third shot.  "Now I'm hungry," she giggled.
"Don't starve, bitch," said Hensley behind her.  "The food's good."
"Yeah?" Christina said over her shoulder.  "All of it?"
Jake grinned, taking a bite of an enchilada.  "I don't really care for Mexican, but this is good shit."
Hensley took a piece of chicken from Jake's lip with the tip of her finger and put it in her mouth, tenderly sucking on her finger for an extended amount of time.  Jake gulped and swallowed his food hard.  "Yeah, it's pretty damn good," she teased.  "At least the catering is good, because the music sucks," Hensley shrugged as she stole Christina's next shot.
"Hey!" Christina snapped.
"You can't drink and not eat," Hensley said as she wiped her lips.  "And friends don't let friends drink tequila.  Go get food.  Tyler, don't stand there you big lug of rubber.  Go dance with her or something."
Christina shrugged and marched over to the kitchen where she slid between an Asian young man who had removed his shirt and was showing his tattoos to a British girl about his age.  She had long sleek black hair, and he was particularly fit as though he had serious physical training.  "Kendo," he told her proudly as he flexed his back muscles to reveal a crescent moon at its center.  "But that's not the only thing I work out," he said proudly.  He began to whisper in the British girl's ear.
"Mari, you freak," she laughed as Amaris whispered to her.  She whispered back to him to reply.
"Guess you could say it was destiny," he joked.
She groaned and shook her head.  "You might've just ruined your night," Destiny shrugged.
"Don't be like that," Amaris said as he took a swig from a can of beer.  He was suddenly bumped from behind and his beer splashed onto his chest.  "Watch it!" he called over his shoulder.
A passing by Paul excused himself once more.  "My bad bro.  Lemee get by you."
"Yeah, yeah,"  Amaris sighed.
Paul made his way back to the living room and nearly tripped over someone's big feet.  It was Jason Garrett's.  "Fuckin' shit," he swore aloud.  "Jason, you bigfoot bastard!  Damn!" he said as he stood up.  He shook Jason's hand and passed by him into the living room.  He was making his way over to Amanda with a plate of finger foods and two drinks.  "Havin' fun?"
Amanda was dancing when she turned around to see Paul behind her.  She giggled and backed up a bit into the stairs and stole a seat.  They both plopped down beside one another and she happily accepted the food.  "Dude, I was starving.  How'd you know?"
"Girl, please.  I know you better than I know my own brother," Paul laughed, shoving a finger sandwich into his mouth.
"You're an animal, jeez," Amanda laughed, then took a similar finger sandwich and downed it in one bite.
"Oh, damn, you kinda good at that," Paul joked, slightly turning his head.
She flipped him off, laughing and trying to chew her food.  "Fuck you, Paul," she laughed as she finished her sandwich.  "Now I want something sweet," she said as she took a cup from Paul.
"How 'bout me?" Paul replied with a grin.  
Amanda giggled again and took a sip from her cup.  "Mm," she said as she took the cup from her lips.  "What's this?"
"Strawberry Ciroc Vodka with cranberry," Paul said, taking a sip from his own cup.
"That's actually really good," Amanda said taking another sip.  "I'm gonna run to the restroom," she said standing to her feet.  Paul nodded as she disappeared toward the restrooms, past the kitchen.  She lightly brushed into two young men holding hands and recognized one of them immediately.  She said nothing but gave Quinn a quick, approving wave as her gaze landed on Riku.
On her way to the restroom, Amanda accidentally bumped into a girl she missed completely.  She was rather bland and plain looking, but this girl was positively beautiful.  "Wow, you're cute," Amanda commented to Avery.  "Oh, uh, sorry!"
Haruka had been standing against the wall for most of the party when Paul suddenly came up to her with a glass of water and a small plate of finger sandwiches, fresh from the kitchen.  "You look nervous," he commented.
Haruka begrudgingly accepted the food and water.  "Do I, now?" she asked sarcastically.  "Thanks," she mumbled.
"I'm sorry if you got pushed into this.  I know you're new to the club and all."
Haruka hesitatingly took a bite of one of the sandwiches.  It was savory and salty, but just right.  She swallowed her food and shrugged.  "I was locked out.  Better than sitting out in the dark, I guess."
Paul nodded.  "Well, you're with friends here.  When you're ready to go, just say so and I'll ask Janet to bring you home."
"Okay.  Thanks," Haruka said nonchalantly.
"Paul!" called a voice behind him.  It was Anthony, waving him over. 
"Scuse me," Paul said with a shrug.  "Check this dude out," Anthony said with a grin, nodding toward the kitchen.  A tall, well built young man was putting trash away and taking bags to and from the outside garbage can without a fuss.  It was Reno.
"Oh yeah, I know that dude," Paul said.  "He's in my physics class."
"He psycho or somethin'?  He knows we're gonna clean up later, right?" Anthony asked, laughing.
Paul shook his head and jogged over to Reno, placing a hand on his shoulder.  "Yo, dude," Paul said.
Reno put the last garbage bag into the outside can and turned around to face Paul.  "Yes?"
"You don't have to do that.  We'll do it later.  It's nice and all, but you're a guest," Paul said.
"I'm aware," Reno acknowledge.  "But, it needed to be done.  Please excuse me."
Paul rubbed his head as Reno brushed past him and went back to the kitchen to wash his hands.  "Weird ass guy," he thought to himself.

Kevin was drunk about two hours into the party.  He was standing at the top of the staircase with his shirt tied around his waist and nothing but his shorts and socks on.  "I will now attempt an Olympic swan dive," Kevin said drunkenly as he approached the balcony on the second floor of his home.
People had gathered outside near the pool and behind Kevin on the balcony, cheering him on.
"Ke-vin!  Ke-vin!  Ke-vin!" they cheered.
"This is gonna be good," Amanda said from the opposite side of the pool.
"This is gonna be stupid if he clips his leg," Paul shrugged.
Sure enough, Kevin dove and belly flopped into the pool, landing hard and causing a big splash.  Cheers, oohs, and ahs filled rang out.  Christina and several other guests got soaked by the big splash, quickly sobering up as they were struck with water.
Haruka could only laugh at the idiots who had been drenched with water as she watched quietly from inside.  With a small plate of food, she shook her head, thinking, "dumbasses".  
"My hair!" Christina cried out.  "Argh!"
Hensley laughed as she pulled Christina back, away from the edge of the pool.  "You drunken idiot," she slurred.  "C'mon, let's--let's go clean up and get you dry and warm."  Hensley and Christina began to walk away and leave Tyler by his lonesome in the backyard.
Jake waited quietly by the back fence, watching the dripping wet Christina walk away.  Hensley waved him over and Jake froze in place.  "Hmm?"
"Come--come help me dry her off," Hensley demanded.
"Wha--no, I can't.  You can--you can do it," Jake replied as he threw his plate in a trashcan.
Christina took her top off and dropped it to the floor.  "Freezing," she commented.  Jake immediately ran behind them and picked up Christina's clothes.
"I changed my mind," Jake said as he followed them up the stairs.
Standing stoically in the backyard, Reno watched with an expression of fake interest as he took a swig of water.  He put his cup down and assisted Kevin out of the pool while others stood laughing and staring at Kevin.
"Whoo!  Thanks, big dude!" Kevin said, almost sober again.
"Think nothing of it," Reno replied.
Haruka, from the house, was mentally etching a lewd scene with a soaking wet Kevin and a strapping young Reno together.  She giggled to herself as she took a bite of a piece of cake.  It took her attention away from the couple for a moment because it was surprisingly good.  "Wow," she mumbled to herself.  "They might be idiots, but they can bake at least."  The corner of Haruka's peripheral vision caught a flare of lights and she turned around with a mouthful of sweet yellow cake.  "Cops," she whispered to herself at first.

She dropped her plate and immediately sprinted to the backyard.  "Cops!" Haruka screamed with a sudden urgency.  She was drowned out by the loud music before she did something completely uncharacteristic.  She stood atop a patio chair and cupped her hands and yelled out to the disorderly crowd.  "Cops!"
Paul looked up first.  His face was suddenly drained of color and he grabbed Amanda by the hand.  He took her inside and to the kitchen.  "You need to go.  Take Janet and Leo and Haruka, and go home."
"What about you?" Amanda asked in a panic.
"I'll be fine.  Just go," Paul urged her.  Amanda did not reply but turned around and headed for the front door.
Haruka had become lost in the crowd, and her height was preventing her from getting much further.  "Outta the way, you asshats!" she screamed, trying to get through the crowd.  A giant appeared before her and scooped Haruka up, placing her back on the table where she could see the crowd.  "Put me--!  Grr!  I am not a doll!" she barked at Reno.
"My apologies," Reno replied, taking a bow in the middle of the crowd.
"What are you--why are you bowing!?  Shouldn't you be leaving!?" Haruka exclaimed.
"I must wait for my party before I can depart," Reno explained.
Unfortunately, Brad was nowhere to be seen and Lace had vanished among the crowd.  Reno, however, did see a face he recognized.  Avery was standing to the side of the home trying to squeeze past the crowd and escape.  He approached her with caution and made himself visible as not to alarm her.  "Club member.  Are you lost as well?"
Avery frowned.  "Yes.  We should leave quickly," she replied.
Paul bumped past Reno and Avery and practically tackled Kevin as he got to the pool.  "Bruh, you need to open the side gate and let people out!  Right now!"
Kevin shrugged.  "Better hop that fence like my boys!" Kevin joked, still completely wasted.
"Fuck!" Paul exclaimed.  But then, Kevin wasn't wrong either.
Paul pushed past the rest of the crowd and went to the back fence.  He saw a handful of people still standing around the backyard.  "Climb the fence!  There's a back way out!" he called to anyone who could hear him.
Tyler had frankly had enough of this shit.  He had wanted to get out to his car, but Christina was upstairs with Hensley and Jake.  He would have to leave her in their hands and explain it to Nathan later.  "It's always somethin' fuckin' stupid," he swore aloud.  He shoved past a few more drunken teens and reached the back fence.
Paul hopped over and began ushering people past him.  Most others split off, but Jason, Haruka, Tyler, Reno, Avery, Quinn, and Piper had followed him over.
“This way,” Paul whispered to them, ushering them through the back gate.  “Hurry up!”  There was only one police car in front of Kevin’s home, but there were bound to be more if the cops discovered underage drinking.  The main gate was blocked off by two more police cars, meaning driving away would have gotten them nowhere.  
Paul had to leave his bike behind, but he could recover it anytime.  Phone in his hands, Paul cut through Kevin’s backyard, climbed over the gate and made his way to the edge of the Eastover community with the others behind him.  There was an empty construction site that Paul led the others through.  Abandoned homes were being torn down and replaced by businesses, but there was no one here today.
Haruka begrudgingly climbed the gate, annoyed and outraged.  “I was hoping not to engage in physical activity, thanks.”
“A-At least you don’t have a wrist you don’t want to put pressure on!” Jason grumbled towards Haruka, trying his best to climb the gate and hop it, without putting too much pressure on his left wrist...which was a bit hard to do.
Haruka blinked.  “You must be that Jason person everyone keeps moaning about.  Circumstances,” she sighed.  She could only think what Jason would’ve looked like if he were bound and gagged by Tyler.  Though, now wasn’t the best time to be visualizing these things.
Reno shook his head and began to scale the gate, a task that was easy enough. The complaints everyone had made him roll his eyes. Here they were trying to escape arrest and they were worried about physical activity and wrists. Glad their priorities were straight. 
Lagging a bit behind, Avery took a deep breath before trying to hop over the gate. While she had cleared it, she fell flat on her back after she did, letting out a soft, “ow.” Seeing the others begin to take off, the girl said, “w-wait up guys,” taking off to keep up with them.
Paul cut through one of the old homes when he heard a jingle of a metal can.  “Hey, man,” said a young, raspy voice.  “Spare some change?”
“Oh God.  Homeless people,” Quinn whispered.  
It was a homeless teen, wearing nothing but rags.  They couldn’t see his face in the dark.  “Sorry bro, I ain’t got the money or the time to help you.”
“We don’t have time for this.  Lead on,” Haruka demanded.
Paul took another step forward but was suddenly held at knifepoint as three others stepped out of the darkness.  They were also wearing rags and tattered clothes, their skin covered in dirt and soot.  
“You come through my house, you pay up.  It’s that easy,” said a black male.  This shocked Paul and caused him to drop his phone.
Haruka stepped back and Quinn shrieked.  “This is bullshit!” Quinn cried out.
“Or you can be our next meal,” said a white female.
“Easy,” said the boy with the can.  He had stepped forward enough that his scarred chest and dirty brown hair were visible.  He had dark green eyes, and his skin was dry and cracked.  “We just want a little money to get food.  Nobody has to die tonight.”
“Are you trying to say you all are cannibals?” Reno asked dryly, forming the longest sentence he had said all night long. Their phrasing was horrendous, to say the least. 
The black male with the weapon lowered it and backed away.  “Not tonight, we’re not.”  He slinked into the darkness with the other three and vanished from sight.  
“You must’ve been at that party, right?” said the boy with the can.
Paul didn’t say anything.  He leaned over and grabbed his phone, noticing the display was brightly lit.  Apparently he had pocket dialed the resort number again.  He shoved his phone back into his pocket, thinking nothing of it.
“Then you must be a friend of the Garcia’s.”
Paul took a step back, bumping into Quinn on accident.  “Watch it, you big burly--”
 “How do you--” Paul began.
“We hear everything man.  You see four of us, but there are thousands of us.  You should be more careful,” the boy said ominously.
“Whatever man.  We don’t have time to deal with you,” Paul sneered.  “We’ll go around.”
The boy with the can nodded.  “Come see me again sometime.”
Haruka shook her head.  “No, thank you.”
“Yeah. Hell no,” Quinn reiterated. 
“Who knows?” Reno said simply. 
Jason didn’t say anything but followed the others, just wanting to be out of this situation. “J-Jeez...how can this night possibly get any worse?” he muttered silently to himself.
Paul elected to take the long way around the abandoned homes, costing them ten minutes.  Fortunately, they were out of range of the police by now.  “Once we reach this corner, we go right.  We can duck at my house for a few until the heat is gone.  Kevin will let me know.”
Paul peered around the corner carefully before he assured everyone behind him that it was clear ahead.  “Okay.  Let’s go.”
Paul rounded the corner and immediately had to shield his eyes.  There was a sudden bright light, and he couldn’t see a thing.  
“Stop where you are!” called a heavy male voice.  “Police!  Show us your hands!”
Tyler swore. “I knew I shouldn’t have come to this dumb fucking party!” Reno just nodded in agreement to the punk’s statement.
“...I had to ask...” Jason muttered, before cursing under his breath. “Goddamnit...”
Paul began to panic.  How did he miss them!?  “Back!  Go back!”
They all turned around in a hurry and sprinted back toward the abandoned homes.  He, Tyler, Jason, Reno, Avery, Haruka, Quinn, and Piper all began to feel a pulsing in their heads, as though a headache had come and gone.  Paul led the way but as fast he returned to the abandoned homes, he found himself confused and bewildered.

“Wha…” Paul stuttered.
Quinn stopped just short of running into Paul.  “What the hell?”
“Is anyone else seeing this?” Paul said, looking around.  Paul found himself staring at a shoreline, water stretching as far as he could see.  
Quinn stepped past Paul and looked into the horizon, the moonlight dancing on the waves of the ocean.  “Did I get a crazy contact high?”
Paul looked at Quinn then back to the water.  “If I’m seeing it and you’re seeing it, we can’t both be that high.  Can we?”
“Well.  Surely I’m not a heathen like you two,” Haruka said with a gulp.  She too was staring at the deep, dark waters before them.  “But… when did New Orleans turn into a beach?”
Paul had turned around, examining his surroundings.  Tyler, Jason, Piper, Avery, and Reno were right behind him.  He wasn’t dreaming.  He was really on a beach.  Or, if his guess was correct, “an island.  What the hell’s going on?”
“...does this mean we’re dead?” Jason asked with a hard swallow. That would definitely put a damper on the rest of this school year for him.
“We can’t all be dead.  Can we?  If this is heaven, it’s not what I was expecting,” Paul admitted.
“It looks too good for Hell, which I’m pretty sure most of us would really go to,” Reno muttered.
With a strangely giddy expression across her face, Avery said, “or maybe we were abducted and put in a strange new world!”
A violent clap of thunder shook Paul and confirmed that neither he nor the people around him were hallucinating.  They were all experiencing the same thing.  Paul looked to a thick jungle, and beyond it, he could see an array of lights.  “That way!”
“What do you mean ‘that way’!?  We’re fugitives!  On an island!  In the middle of the night!  You just want to run into a jungle you don’t know!?” Haruka screeched.
“Then you can stay here in the rain,” Paul snapped back.  “I’m gonna go figure out where the hell we are.”
As fast as Paul said this, rain began to pour down on them.  He sprinted toward the thick greenery of the jungle and ducked under the trees.
The rain was unusually cold and made Paul shiver.  After several minutes, he was approaching a clearing, and the lights he spotted from the shoreline had become much brighter.  He stepped through the brush, over a fallen tree, and into the clearing.  There, before his eyes was a fully functioning hotel.
Paul didn’t waste any time.  He dashed to the door and yanked it open.  

“Welcome!” said a gargly, bubbly voice.  A creature in a red and white vest and black slacks and shoes called to Paul from the front desk.  It had only eyes, and it was completely made of darkness.  It was a darkness that was so deep and disturbing that looking at the creature for too long made Paul uneasy.  He wanted to step back outside to be sure once more that he wasn’t dreaming, but as his hand touched the cold metal of the hotel handle doors, he was sure it was real.
Paul swallowed hard but turned to face the shadow, who still patiently waited for him at the front desk.
Paul elected not to approach the front desk but instead waited in the lobby.  Slowly, everyone else entered behind him.
“You all must be exhausted.  We had been expecting you!” said the shadow from the front desk.
Haruka had to make an active effort not to gag at the sight of the shadow, and Quinn had to hold himself up against a wall.
“H-Holy shit...” Jason stared at the shadow, obviously saying what everyone else was thinking.
“C-Can you tell us where we are?” Paul asked, loudly.
“Or better yet,  what in the hell is going on?” Tyler demanded.
“Or why it’s going on,” Reno added.
“Sir, could you please approach the front desk?  We could speak more privately.  I assure you, I mean you no harm,” the shadow said calmly.
Paul approached cautiously, ready to double back if this thing tried to harm him.  “Y-yeah.  Can you explain to us where we are?  And how we got here?” Paul inquired.
The shadow nodded.  “Of course, sir.  My name is Georaldo, and I’ll be your guide.  Your arrival here has been anticipated since you scheduled your vacation, of course.”
Paul blinked.  “Vacation?”
Georaldo nodded.  “Of course.  You called us a few days ago, and we booked your rooms throughout the hotel.  Mind you, there was limited space.  We haven’t gotten visitors in ten years!” Georaldo said with a chuckle.
“Ten yea--wait, wait.  I don’t understand.  You just booked rooms for us?  As in, not me, but everyone?” Paul asked.
“Well, of course, you would be sharing a room, but there’s plenty of space, I assure you,” Georaldo clarified.
“I still don’t get it.  How did you just assume we would show up here?  How did we get here?  And what exactly is this place?”
“Well, this is Origin Island of course!  Home to the Legendary Orpheus Storm!  And of course when we got your call today, we knew you must have been ready to check in,” Georaldo explained.
“Origin Island?  Is that like, part of the Virgin Islands or--”
“Get to the point!” demanded a panting Haruka.  “There is no reasonable explanation that we would arrive on an island from New Orleans in under a minute!  How.  Did.  We.  Get.  Here!?”
“Well, when our guests call, we simply dial them in.  You arrived at an access point and made your way to the hotel, did you not?” Georaldo asked.
“Y--what?  No.  I did not call you.  Maybe this blundering idiot called you by mistake, but I did not.  And I want to leave.  How do I get home from here?” Haruka asked.
“You simply have to make your way back to the access point and dial out.  But, I would advise against going out in the storm.  It attracts all kinds of nasty, dangerous creatures, you see.  And Lord Orpheus would be devastated if you left without seeing him first.”  Georaldo’s ‘smile’ could be heard in his voice.  This creature was surely insane.
“So we just have to go back where we came from and...what?  Call the same number again?” Paul asked, ignoring Haruka’s remarks.
“That is correct.  Again, however, I strongly advise against--”
“We’ll be going now,” Paul interrupted.  “Sorry, and thanks but no thanks.”
Paul didn’t bother asking everyone to follow him.  He opened the door to the hotel and Georaldo called behind them.  “Safe travels!  We’ll be open for ten more days!  We hope to see you again!”
Paul ignored the shadow and stepped back into the freezing rain.  He began sprinting toward the jungle and climbed back over the tree he crossed to get to the hotel.  He pulled his phone from his pocket, but he had no signal.  He had to get clear of the trees.
He followed the crushed foliage on the ground; it was clear that this was where everyone walked.  This path led him to the edge of the forest and allowed a look at the beach.  As Paul drew nearer to the shore, he felt the rain stop above him; yet, he could see it falling in front of him.
Paul stopped and looked up into the trees where a much larger, more dense shadow stared down at him and caused him to stumble back onto the ground.  
Haruka ducked beneath trees and stepped past Paul.  “What’s your problem?  Let’s go,” she demanded.
But as the words left her lips, Haruka was silenced.  What could only be described as a twelve-foot tall gorilla shaped shadow crashed down in front of them.  It raised its large hands and beat its chest, blocking the path ahead.
Paul began to scramble backward, trying desperately to get to his feet.  “What the fuck!?” he heard himself yell.
Quinn pulled Paul up and everyone began to run back to the hotel.  The shadow chased them down, crushing trees with ease and shaking the ground with its every footstep.  As the clearing came closer, they would feel more rumbling on the ground.
This time, it was very close by and not behind them.  The gorilla shadow leaped forward and landed in front of its prey, nearly crushing Tyler and Jason.  But as it prepared to smash them beneath its fists, it was tackled by a larger, more dangerous shadow which took on the shape and appearance of a rhino.

“Holy shit,” Tyler breathed.
“W-What the hell ARE these things?!” Jason asked as he tried to catch his breath. They looked almost like some sort of colossi from a game he watched.
The gorilla shadow burst into darkness and dissipated into nothing, while the rhino turned and bared its massive head at the humans.  It was just as tall as the previous shadow, but it looked much more intimidating.  And as it bared down on them threatening their lives, Paul began to feel his chest burn.
He stared up at the rhino-shadow, and then back down to his chest.  There it was: the crystal orb.  The burning in his chest was extreme, to the point, it caused Paul great pain.  He screamed in agony, and this enraged the shadow.  It reared back on its hind legs and threatened to crush everyone beneath it at once.
Paul desperately scratched his chest until he had a tight grip on the orb and pulled it from his body.  He bled profusely, but the relief from having removed the crystal orb was enough to keep him awake.
There was a bright flare of light when Paul removed the orb, and it temporarily blinded and stunned the shadow.  It stumbled backward onto its rear and shook the ground.  Paul panted, staring down into the orb.
“You made it angry with your stupid crying!” Haruka screamed, panicking as the rhino snorted and got to its feet.  
Paul, however, couldn’t get a grip on reality.  As he stared down into the orb, his dreams came flooding back to him all at once.  The rhino roared at them all, but Paul somehow drowned it out.  Paul stared down at the orb and began to squeeze it with his right hand.  A crack formed immediately, and Paul could feel the fire inside of the orb teasing his fingertips.
He squeezed until the orb shattered in his hand, and the fire began to spread.  It instantly cauterized his wound and covered him in brilliant blue flames.
Paul gasped at the cold flames, now reliving his dream once more.  This was the fire he had been seeking.  He had finally acquired it.
In that same instance, Paul felt a little piece of him, deep within his very soul, become cold.  And then a voice called out to him.  Something, someone, was trying to get free. 


 “I see you’ve awakened to your power,” boomed a deep voice.  “You have recognized the threat before you and seen the dangers that lie ahead.  Keeper of Oaths, there are many dangers ahead that only you can lay to rest.  Let us put the world at ease, and form a contract.  I am thou…”
And it wasn’t until Paul breathed the words that he could finally be free.
“Thou art I.  Persona.”
The flames were doused and steam filled the jungle.  The shadow was blinded once more, rampaging recklessly around the jungle.  As the steam cleared, a dark-skinned man wielding a hammer floated above Paul.  The man’s eyes were ghostly white, and a lightning-shaped scar was atop his forehead.
Paul stared up at the dark-skinned man, and the man returned Paul’s glare.  “So,” he began.
Paul remained silently flabbergasted.
“Are you going to kill that thing?  Or will you let it kill you?” the man asked.
Paul raised his hands, confused.  The rhino had stopped rampaging and was staring at Paul.
“Ready or not, here it comes,” the dark man said.
Paul raised his hands to shield himself from the charging shadow, hearing its footsteps suddenly stop.  Paul lowered his arms to see the dark-skinned man holding the shadow at bay with a single hand.  He whipped his hammer around thrice and struck the shadow rapidly.  It burst into three smaller shadows, each of them gorillas.  
“I am Shango, god of storms.  I am the piece of your soul.  I am the fire which rages within you.  Your soul, which would give itself away, is part of a greater collection of souls which protects your world.”
Shango held up his hammer and brought it down with a violent clap against the ground.  “Makougaon,” he whispered.  Three enormous pillars of light erupted beneath the gorillas and erased them from the night.
“And you, Paul,” Shango said, raising his hammer again.  “Are destined to complete this story.  With their help, perhaps you will save the lost.”
Paul said nothing, still completely clueless as to why Shango had appeared.  Yet, every word Shango spoke coincided with Igor’s.  “Henceforth, wherever you may go, so shall I go also.  I am forever a part of you, Paul.  I am your strength.  You must learn to trust and use me.”
Shango vanished in a burst of bright light, and Paul nearly collapsed against a tree.  He slumped down against it and breathed slow, deep breaths.  It was still raining out, but Paul could no longer feel the effects of the weather.
“What the hell was that?” Haruka began.  “There’s a logical explanation for everything, so far.  Everything!  So I demand to know who this Shango person is and how he just killed--”
“I don’t know!  I don’t know, okay?” Paul said quickly.  “I’m just as confused as you are.”  
Tyler closed the distance between them until he was standing literal inches from Paul. “Bullshit. You know somethin’ the rest of us obviously fuckin’ don’t, so talk!”
Paul scratched his head furiously, trying to get a grip.  He sighed, standing up again.  “Let’s get out of the rain first.”
“Y-Yeah… out of the rain… and the place where there are things trying to kill us!!” Jason added, shaking his head. “At this point… I’d rather take my chances with the police...”
They pushed back to the hotel and into the lobby, where Paul snatched off his shoes and socks and plopped down on an empty sofa.
“Disclaimer,” he started.  “I don’t know why this started happening.  I just know it happened.  And it all began with my dreams.  The crystal ball I broke, I saw it before.  Then, a few days ago, it appeared in my room.”
Paul explained to the others the dreams he had.  The Velvet Room.  Igor.  The fire consuming him.  He relayed Igor’s words about how Paul was meant to “stop the coming ruin” with the help of his friends.  He also cautiously suggested that the people with him now were meant to be the ones he counted on.
Tyler slammed his fist into the wall. “God damn it!” he yelled, and then rested his head against the wall, breathing heavily.
“Oh, I am not doing this.  Not with you, not with them.  I don’t know you!  I only met you at this stupid party because you ‘knew a back way out’.  I didn’t want to get caught up with police again,” Quinn exclaimed.  
“You think I want to be here right now?  I almost got stabbed by a homeless guy and then arrested.  But yeah, sure, this is my fault,” Paul said, rolling his eyes.
“Unbelievable,” Haruka said, shaking her head.  “So the magic man who appeared in the pretty blue room and threw you in jail.  What did he say about us being friends?”
“He said we were supposed to save the world, or whatever,” Paul shrugged.
“Save the--save the world?  Okay, there had better be cameras somewhere, because this is the worst prank ever.”  Haruka threw up her hands in disgust.
Jason looked over at Haruka. “W-Well, you could always think of it less as a prank...and more of just a level from a video g-...yeah that analogy is going nowhere.” he sighed. “I got nothing...”
“... I’m okay with this,” Reno muttered.
“If I may,” Georaldo spoke from the front desk.  
Paul looked at the shadow, then sighed and threw his face into his hands.
“There may be someone who can help you,” Georaldo said.
Paul lifted his hands from his face.  “Who?  Tell me.  Tell me right now,” Paul ordered, getting to his feet.
Georaldo held up his hands.  “The island has a guardian.  Someone who ensures the safe passage of travelers.  He--”
“Where the hell was he tonight then!?” Quinn yelled.
“Apologies.  He’s been sleeping for ten years.  As I said before, we don’t get guests often,” Georaldo continued.  “I believe your presence may have awoken him.  As an Anomaly Shadow, I can sense a lot of changes among the islands.  And I’m certain that he is awake.”
“Wait.  Islands?  As in more than one?” Paul asked.
Georaldo nodded.  “There are seven to be precise.  But, they are only reachable for a certain period of time.  In just ten days, this island will sink, for example.”
Paul’s eyes opened wide.  “Sink!?  Then we need to get off the island and stay off!  How long is that storm gonna last!?” Paul barked.
“Until sunrise, I’m afraid.  You would do best to rest here until then,” Georaldo said.
“What are these islands?” Tyler asked, holding his busted up hand close to his chest.
“Well, the islands themselves are a bit of a mystery.  But, from what master told me, they are held together by a very powerful, very sinister connection.  And each island has a storm over it that can be quelled ‘by the guardian’s howl’.  If the storm is quelled, the island is purified, and the master must answer to those who quelled it.  However, I’ve only met one master.  And that is Lord Orpheus.  Hence, the Orpheus Storm.  Of course, he may explain better than I,” Georaldo answered.
Tyler slumped back against the wall. “Great… more fairytale bullshit…”
Paul leaned in toward Georaldo.  “How many hours until dawn?” Paul asked.
Georaldo checked the large analog clock behind him, on the wall.  “Ten.”
“Ten!?” Paul exclaimed.
“Again, you may as well rest here.  You’re more likely to run into shadows again if you go out during the storm.”
Paul shook his head and sighed.  “If we’re stuck here, I might as well get some Zs.  Where’s our room?”
Georaldo pointed down a dark, black corridor with no lighting.  “If you make your way to the end of the hall there, on your right, you’ll find a large room with two purple doors and accented gold handles.  You’ll be safe there.”
Paul sighed.  “You uh, got a torch or something we can carry so we can see?”
Georaldo chuckled and flipped a switch beneath his desk.  Lights snapped on in the once dark corridor, lighting the way to the room.  “Thanks,” Paul said.

“Do you actually expect me to sleep here?” Haruka said, following Paul.  “Please tell me you’re not serious.”
“What choice do we have, Haruka?  You wanna go out there and get killed, or you wanna stay in this shitty hotel and live one more night?” Paul asked, not raising his head.
“I’ll take staying in a shitty hotel for 200...” Jason said, trying to lighten the mood.
Haruka rolled her eyes.  “At least someone can keep a sense of humor.”
In the corridor as Paul passed, there were eight portraits hanging on the eastern wall.  One of them was his, drawn in black and white.  In the background, Shango stood above Paul.  It was like a snapshot of their meeting in the forest.  Paul stopped and examined it, shaking his head.  “There’s no way.”
There were seven more portraits, and beneath each portrait was a name framed in gold, written in black.  Every portrait beside Paul’s was empty.
The second portrait was Jason’s.  Then, Haruka.  Avery came fourth.  Tyler was fifth.  In sixth was Piper.  The seventh portrait was Quinn’s.  The eight and last portrait belong to Reno.
“This… is highly disturbing,” Haruka said.
“Tell me about it,” Quinn added.
“Really startin’ to feel like I’m in a horror movie…” Tyler grumbled.
Jason nodded. “I’m not feelin’ this myself...”
Avery curiously poked her own portrait, not saying anything on the matter.
Reno stared at the portrait, a neutral expression on his face. He had been unusually calm this whole time, and here it was no different.  
Paul stepped back from his portrait and noticed the detail on Shango’s face and his own expression.  “How is this possible?”  Paul shook his head for the millionth time.  “Never mind.  I’ve seen enough shit I can’t explain.”
Paul stepped away from the picture at last and pressed on to the room that was prepared for them.  He slowly pushed open the doors, hoping nothing was going to jump out and take his life.
To his extreme surprise, this room was decorated from head to toe, stock full of amenities, and it was extraordinarily spacious.  There was no way it should have fit in the hotel at all, because the room was at least two thousand square feet.  
There were eight king sized beds, eight separate bathrooms, a fully stocked kitchen, a nursing station with its own Anomaly Nurse Shadow.  It was decorated with bright red curtains and plush gold carpet.  It smelled of lavender and it was warm.  
“I… Well, besides almost dying, this isn’t so bad,” Paul thought to himself.  “Though, I’m starving all of a sudden.”
“Yeah, well don’t eat the food.  If the shadows almost killed you, who knows if the food is toxic or not,” Haruka said quickly.
“I just survived getting my ass handed to me by a twelve-foot rhino who was blacker than I am.  I’ll take my chances,” Paul said, making his way to the kitchen.
He started small and picked up an apple from a bundle of fruit.  He bit into it, crossing his fingers.  It was sweet and juicy, and every bite felt real.  Paul tossed an apple to Jason whether he was ready for it or not.
Jason saw the apple heading in his direction, immediately fumbling to catch the apple. Nevertheless, he made sure to hold onto it after Paul threw it. “Bit of a warning next time, Paul...” he chuckled nervously.
Paul took another bite before looking over to the beds.  He sprang over to the first bed in sight and flopped down on it.  The bed was fit to his exact preferences, creepily so.  It wasn’t too firm, and the sheets and comforter were soft but breathable.  Paul put his head against one of the pillows and almost instantly fell asleep.  He jolted upright and shook his head, a strange sensation of peace and calm slowly left him.
“What the--” he touched the pillow with his head again and felt his eyes get heavy.  He forced himself upright once more.  “Guess we should only sleep if we really wanna sleep,” he thought aloud.
“That is correct,” said the nurse shadow.
“Eep!” Quinn squealed, having neglected to notice her.
“These beds will put you into a natural, deep sleep.  They will restore your stamina and recover your wounds.  If you choose to awake early, you may not fully recover.  However, the effects of the restoration will last for a short period of time after you leave your room,” the nurse explained.
“This is some serious shit.  Wish I had a bed like this at home.  I’d never be tired,” Paul laughed.
“I’m glad this is a joke to you,” Haruka snapped.  “We almost got arrested.  We almost died.  I want to go home.  So can we please just sleep and get the hell off this island?  I don’t ever wanna see this place again.”
Paul nodded.  Haruka was right.  The room was nice, but nearly dying for it wasn’t worth it.  They had to get home.
“Wait.  We need to do something first,” Paul said, sitting on the edge of his bed.  “We should exchange contact info.”
Haruka rolled her eyes.  “You already have mine.  And why would we do that?”
“Because this is going to come up again.  I just know it,” Paul said.
“What makes you so sure of that?” Quinn asked.
“We’re teenagers.  These kinds of things don’t just happen and then everybody goes their separate ways.  Those portraits, the monsters, the dude floating over my head, the fire that appeared in my dream and in my life--you’re not just gonna forget about this.  And we can’t go telling anyone about it.  They’ll throw us in an insane asylum,” Paul stood up and took out his phone.  “We need to keep each other quiet about this.  Even if it means the rest of our lives.”
“I barely know you now, and you think I’m going to want to have a therapy session with you for the rest of my life?  Ugh,” Haruka groaned.
“It’s a safety net,” Paul said.  “We keep each other in check, and if anyone has questions, we can reassure one another.  Plus, I…” Paul paused, thinking about what he was going to say.
“You what?” Quinn asked.
“I’m probably going to come back,” Paul said finally.
“Are you completely out of your mind?” Haruka asked.  “You want to come back?  You’re on your own.”
“I have to, damn it. This didn’t happen to me for no reason.  I’ve begun to question a lot of shit, and now, I need answers.  So whether or not you come back with me is completely up to you.  But I am coming back,” Paul decided.
“I’m sending my number to each of you, assuming your Bluetooth is enabled.  Now let’s get some sleep.  Sunday is gonna be weird," Paul said softly.




  • Add any wanted character interactions and have fun at the party.
  • Individually reflect on your new circumstance with Origin Island.
  • Sleep



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Drowning in your silence.



    「Number 1」

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As the group went to explore their new room, Avery stepped forward, her walking pace slow as her eyes darted around the room. Resting on the shadow, she recognized it to be of the same origin as the one downstairs. They went by the name, or title, of Anomaly Nurse Shadow. 


Anomaly. Unknown. 

Nurse. Helpful. 

Shadow. ??? 


Curiosity sparkled in the girl's eyes, though was swiftly subdued as she looked around to the others. No questions. Nothing strange. 


Walking slowly, the girl made her way to the table full of apples, looking to Paul, to Jason, and then to the apples. Reaching out her hand, her eyes darted down to observe it. Trembling. Her hand stiffened up as she continued to finally pick it up and take a bite of out of it. 




As the girl ate her apple, the rest of the group seemed to be talking about something. About how they couldn't tell anyone else about this. About how they were going to need to figure all of this out. The girls eyes went wide, pausing eating her apple, as Paul mentioned that he would be coming back. While she seemed like she was about to say something, she paused. Her eyes studied the faces of everyone else in the room. 


Annoyed. Concerned. Pensive.


The girl stopped herself, instead merely watching the scene play out with all of her classmates. As they seemed to reach some sort of a conclusion, the girl looked back to her phone, seeing the number there. Fiddling around the bit, the girl looked over to Paul saying, "u-um," her voice cracked as she started, and both her body and voice seemed to be trembling as she continued speaking. "Y-yeah, coming back here would be crazy, right?" The girl let out an awkward chuckle before saying, "but it's uh, um, better to be safe then sorry." After sending her number out, the girl awkwardly put her phone back in her pocket before saying, "but um, yeah. I'm just gonna, gonna head off to bed. Right." With an awkward wave, the girl made her way to her bed. Lying down, her face planted first into her pillow, obscuring a wide smile on her face.

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In conclusion, today had sucked entirely. This all could have been avoided if Haruka hadn't locked herself out like an idiot, but she did, and now here she was, with a bunch of people she barely knew at best, after escaping from a party where the police arrived, getting to this stupid island with its creepy bullshit as a result, and now everyone was trying to be all buddy-buddy with each other all of a sudden.


At least the food wasn't poisoned.


She would have preferred lemons instead of apples, but apples would have to suffice. One apple, for herself, then Haruka made for her bed, sitting on it but taking care not to let her head hit the pillow. Whatever weird stuff they'd done to the pillow, she wasn't having any of it. She didn't need some lousy magic charm to fall asleep or anything like that; Haruka was a perfectly mature young woman, who could sleep on her own just fine. She glanced around the room. There was Paul, from the fiction club. Did he think he was some sort of protagonist, acting like the team leader just because he'd summoned some tall guy one time? There was also the guy with the car. How did he get here?


Everyone else, Haruka only really recognized from the party or rumors. Jason was the guy who'd busted his wrist last year and ruined everything for the basketball team. I bet all the boys on the basketball team hate his guts for that. I wonder if I can do something with that. That would be her first project when she got home, Haruka decided. Although, now that she thought about it...


Haruka took the first bite from her apple, and after swallowing, asked "I don't suppose any of you know how to pick a lock?" Even if she didn't intend to, she cast brief glances at both the car guy and the freakishly tall person who'd picked her up like some toy when everyone was leaving the party earlier.

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you're just a well-rounded, gatorade-drinking gif machine that looks like He-Man and Shaggy had a lovechild.

stuff I've won

Super Chaos Sonic

Super Chaos Sonic

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Jason sat there, the apple that Paul tossed him in his hands. Staring at the apple, he just let out a quiet sigh. This...this wasn't something he was expecting to see or deal with. ...How the hell did I get into the mess...? he thought, before finally taking a bite out of the apple, just reflecting on what events brought him to this point...




-Not Too Long Ago-

High School Party - Dancing Game Night

Saturday, Evening




Jason watched from the seat he was in, seeing Kevin's house in full view and he was pretty astonished at how it looked. And it was obvious that the party was starting to get into full swing. "Wow..." he muttered.


Of course, Brad parked the vehicle and had all the passengers exit the vehicle, as he did so as well. After everyone was out of the vehicle, he double-checked...possibly even triple-checked each door's lock and finally set the alarm. Brad also seemed to lead the charge of the Video Game Club into the house, but he stopped suddenly when a certain smell hit his nose. Now in the presence of the club, he had a huge smile on his face.


"Hmm...smells like Colorado Sweet Summer!" he simply said, before disappearing into a sideroom where there was smoke billowing from under the doors.


For Jason, the same scent hit his nose, but he had a different reaction to it. He coughed slightly, recognizing the smell from the others on the basketball team. It was marijuana. "Jeez...just throw a warning that people are passing that stuff around here..." he muttered, wafting the air in front of his face a bit, before noticing Lace definitely getting into this.


"Toga! Toga! Toga! I don't even know what that means but I'm excited!" Lace recited, pumping her arm into the air.


"Faaaaairly certain that doesn't mean what you think it means, Lace." Jason chuckled some, before noticing Kevin in passing. "Hey Kevin!"


Kevin was taking his tongue out of a young lady's mouth when he heard his name. "Jason, you fuckin' made it!" he said excitedly. He bumped past her and went to show Jason some love.


Stretching out a hand he pulled Jason into a hug, smelling of cheap cologne and expensive weed, which made Jason cough a slight bit. "Bruh, I wasn't sure you were gonna show. And don't worry about your wrist, I'll make sure one of these fine, beautiful girls makes it so you ain't gotta use it. Huh," Kevin said with a wink.


"Make yourself at home, hermano. Mi casa es su casa. Food's in the back and the DJ is taking requests. Just, no country. I'll kick your ass out," Kevin said with a serious look on his face.


"Thanks Kev. And no worries. I wouldn't DREAM of putting on country music." Jason chuckled, shaking his head. "That's the devil's music, you know that."
"No, no. That," Kevin said pointing to his younger brother. "Is the devil himself. Ay, yo, Ant, get my man a beverage!"
"I told you once and I'll tell you again, Kev! Fuck you!" Anthony replied.
"Ouch." Jason chuckled at this. "That is pretty harsh. But still, something tells me you deserved it, buddy."


"Yeah, fuck you too, J. J. Now go have fun. If you want a room, my bed is free. Just use a condom," Kevin joked before he brushed past Jason.


Jason chuckled a bit, letting Kevin brush past him, as he shook his head a bit. Yeah...no offense Kevin, but I honestly don't see myself doing anything like that tonight. he thought, before heading towards the back towards the food. He was a bit famished. At the same time, he really needed to figure out what he was gonna do at this party.




"Ay, yo, hotshot McGarrett," Kevin slurred, obviously drunk, or getting into that mood. "I'm feelin' pretty good. Wanna get your ass beat?"


"Get a room, you two," Anthony said from the stairs.


"I got a nice big court outside. How bout a lil birthday one on one, huh?" Kevin asked.


"No thanks Anthony!" Jason chuckled. "He isn't my type...not, ya know...a chick." he said, looking back at Kevin. "And you, you are just incredibly drunk...so I might actually have an advantage here. And plus side, no Brock here to knock me on my ass."


"Oh? Oh? You feelin--" Kevin hiccuped. "You feelin' confident, Mr. All Star? HEY!" Kevin said as he turned around to the party. "Yo, cut--cut the music," he said to the DJ. "Who wants--" he let out a raunchy belch. "Oh man, that tasted like cherry. WHO WANTS TO SEE ME BEAT JASON'S ASS ON THE COURT!?"


There were cheers from inside the house and Paul came sprinting up to Kevin. "You gonna take your drunk ass out there and play J.G.? You know I'm not rootin' for you, right?" Paul joked.


"Fuck you, Paul. C'MON LET'S DO IT!" Kevin demanded as he stepped past the DJ.


Jason took one last gulp of his drink, his first one of the night, actually and with just a bit of liquid courage in him right now, he accepted Kevin's little challenge. With the slight buzz he had right now, he knew he'd probably be a bit more aware of his surroundings or something like that.


"Up high," Anthony called from the stairs once more, holding Kevin's ball. He tossed it over the balcony thinking Kevin would catch it. Buuuuuuuut...


Kevin reached up for the ball and slipped between his fingers and punched him right in the forehead. It bounced and Paul caught it in Kevin's stead, as he just collapsed to the floor in quite the dizzy stupor.


"Ayeeeeee, man," Kevin said from the floor. "Aye, uh, Paul, Paul, and Paul," he said pointing to to Paul and the missing space beside him. "Why don't uh--yo you should ball for me, I'mma sit this one out."
Paul raised an eyebrow, then turned to Jason. Behind Jason, he could see Amanda watching from the kitchen. "Okay, yeah. You down, J.G.?" Paul asked as he took his shirt off.
"Yeah. I guess so." Jason shrugged.


Paul bumped Kevin's drunken fist as the party host fell onto his back, singing lullabies. "Alright, let's make a deal then," Paul said, making his way past Jason and toward the backyard. "If you win, I'll make sure nobody talks shit about you ever again," he said with a chuckle. "You don't deserve that shit no way." Paul then palmed the basketball. "But if I win, you gotta help me out with something. Doesn't matter what it is. When I hit you up, Imma need your help. Deal?" Paul asked.


"Heh...well, doubtful the basketball team will just stop with the shit talkin'..." Jason chuckled before nodding firmly. "Either way, your on, Paul!"


There was a moment of distinct silence between Paul and Jason. It was as if time stopped. The wind blew and words of power whispered between them, to where Jason could distinctly hear every word...
I am thou, thou art I.
Thou hast acquired a new vow.
It shall become the wings of rebellion that breaketh thy chains of captivity.
With the birth of the CHARIOT Arcana, I have obtained the winds of blessing that shall lead to freedom and new power...
Paul and Jason made a deal.
"Alright, then. It's time to ball with Paul," Paul joked. "Hey that rhymed. I'm good off the court too." He tossed the ball to Jason as they made their way outside. "First to ten?"
"Sounds like a plan to me!" Jason nodded once more...not exactly thinking much of what he had just heard. It was probably just the alcohol.
"Alright, check," Paul said as he jogged over to the court.
It was the size of a college regulated basketball court, but on cement in Kevin's backyard. The crowd slowly started to gather around the court and let Jason pass through.
Jason felt a bit at home on this court, as he checked the ball. "Hope you know what your gettin' into..." he joked.




This game was a close one, neither side really giving an inch. Surprisingly, Paul was able to keep up with Jason, to which this was a huge surprise to the former member of the basketball team. Paul was actually pretty good, and it wasn't just because he was black, which the guy did actually joke about.


The first shot of the game was taken by Jason, followed by the next two shots being taken by Paul. This first to ten game was one that was quite a heated race. Both sides, they really wanted to win. After about a few more shots, they were nearing the game winning point. They were tied and the crowd at this point, was silenced as they held their breath. Just who was going to win?


Jason had the ball and right now, he went for it. He lunged with the ball, dribbling it as he made his way towards the basket, still using only his right hand. However, at the last minute, in a shock to Paul and the others, he moved the ball over into his left hand and made the shot. Again, it was like he was on auto-pilot and just didn't remember that his left wrist was still in it's condition. Nevertheless, the ball flew straight and true...and it made the 'swish' sound through the basket, and then a sudden roar of excitement erupted.


Jason had won, and the crowd was definitely cheering for him.


Jason made his way towards Paul, giving him a high-five. "Good game man." he smiled, before moving his right hand to hold his left wrist. "So, about that deal..."


Paul put his hands on his knees, panting as he hunched over the court. He finally stood up straight and patted Jason on the back. "I lost man. I gotta uphold my end of the deal," Paul said with a laugh. "Me and Kevin will deal with your old teammates."


"Good luck on trying to get through their hard heads..." Jason chuckled, before smiling. "So...what were you gonna ask me to help you with, Paul?"


"Well," Paul said as he looked over his shoulder at the scattering onlookers. Amanda was sitting by the pool, staring into the water. "I was gonna ask you to be my wingman," Paul said with a chuckle as he turned back to Jason. "But, I can't do that now."


"Okay." Jason said with the most deadpan response. "All ya needed to do was ask."


Paul chuckled again in disbelief. "You're an easy guy to get along with," Paul commented. He pulled his shirt off of a nearby patio chair and pulled it back over his head. "See the pretty red head by the water? Think you can make me look better than you did on the court?"


Jason looked over at the red head, and nodded. "I mean, I can do what I can." he shrugged with a chuckle. "I'm only human."


Paul approached Amanda and sat down with a huff.

"Tired from getting your ass kicked, huh?" she said with a laugh.


"You wanna play one of the greats, then?" Paul asked with a retorting chuckle. "Jason, Amanda. Amanda, Jason."


"I know who he is," Amanda said as she stretched out a hand to Jason. "Nice to meet you Jason."


"Likewise." Jason said with a smile, chuckling a bit, shaking Amanda's hand.


"So uh, what's all this, Paulie?" Amanda asked. "He supposed to be your wingman?"




Paul sighed. "Damn. No matter how hard I try, I can't get next to you. Don't worry about it J," he said with a grin. "I'll take it from here." Paul and Amanda got up and walked back inside. He called back over his shoulder as they stepped in the house. "Someday I'm gonna want a rematch, Jason!"


Yikes...this girl was actually really smart. Jason let out a sigh about the same time Paul did. "Sorry bout that. Should've prefaced with I've never been a wingman before." he chuckled nervously, before nodding at Paul. "You got it!"


...and it wasn't too long after that...the whole party went down south.






Jason's reflections finally ended, thinking it wasn't best to just recall the events of the last minutes, so he took another bite from the apple and then sighed again.


Right now, he thought about what Paul said. That he was going to go and come back to this place quite a few times. And after what happened, he guessed it made sense. He kept in silence, before clearing his throat and held his phone for Paul to see.


"You got my number man." Jason said, sending his number immediately to him. "Honestly...I want in for two reasons. First, you and I still have that rematch...so yeah. You can't just go off and die or get seriously injured before then." he chuckled, before sighing. "And second, well...if it gets me out of the house and away from my parents, I'm all for it."


"Upside though..." Jason said, putting his phone away. "I already have Avery and Reno's numbers. Perks of being in the Video Game Club, I suppose."


It was all he could do right now...and right now, to be honest, he was dead dog tired. Finally moving over to a bed, Jason laid his head back and once it hit the pillow...he was immediately snoring. Sweet dreams and a great night sleep ahoy!!

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"Yeah... uh... f*** no." Quinn immediately went into his phone and deleted Paul's number. "Don't send me your number I don't want to be your friend. I'm waiting the ten hours and then I'm f***ing leaving. You can play fantasy fun time if you want, but I don't want anything to do with whatever the hell is going on here."


Quinn turned on his heel with a huff turning towards the picture on the wall that had his name under it. While at the moment the canvas was blank it bothered him that whatever was in control of this place just expected him to play along. Quinn tore the picture from the wall and tossed the thing violently across the room.


"Hey! Tell your Lord Orpheus," Quinn directed his fury at the Anomaly Nurse Shadow now walking over to where his picture had landed, "that he can take his greetings or whatever and stuff it." Quinn began stomping on the portrait before finally grinding his heel into it and spitting on it. "Oh yeah, and give him this too." Quinn flipped the shadow the bird.


"Now you all seem like wonderful people," Quinn turned back to everyone in the room, heavy sarcasm laced into his voice, "but I quite frankly don't want to spend a single night with you, so I'll just take this," Quinn tore the comforter and pillow from the bed, "and be on my way." On that sour note Quinn walked towards one of the eight bathrooms, and then once inside slammed the door. On the outside, the others would hear the sound click of the door locking. 




Inside the bathroom, Quinn breathed a heavy sigh. This was crazy. It had to be some really bad trip, right? There was no other logical explanation. That meant, however, that someone had slipped something into his drink, and that thought drove Quinn even crazier.


When did it happen? He was watching his drink all night. He'd been with Riku all night. Riku would've said something if someone had done something funny with his drink right? What if Riku had done something to his drink. Riku wouldn't do that, would he? Of course not he was a nice guy... wasn't he? Then again, Grant was a nice guy too, and Quinn remembered vividly how that had turned out. No, he ran all the way her from Kevin's house, he would've felt something. Unless that was part of the trip, too... f***! f***! f***!


Quinn screamed in frustration and grabbed onto the closest thing he could find, which happened to be a small soap dispenser on the sink counter and tossed it across the room shattering it against the wall. 


"None of this makes any sense..." Quinn whimpered sinking down to his knees his hands reaching up and tearing at his hair. "God, what the hell am I getting into?"


Exhausted both physically and mentally Quinn grabbed the comforter and pillow from where he'd dropped them on the floor and crawled into the bathroom's rather spacious bathtub, and despite the fact that it was rather uncomfortable fell asleep almost instantly.

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