Alexander Grigg 2014/15

The Husk

I’ve always had a hard time distinguishing reality from fantasy, but now I was completely certain that it was real and why I can’t sleep. I’m lying in my bed, it is 4:27am, Sunday morning. I’ve been lying here in bed for almost three hours trying to get to sleep, despite the fact I’ve been awake for over sixteen hours without sleep. But I heard a noise just before, and I’m pretty sure I’m not dreaming. I’m scared. Someone’s coming up the hallway, and I have no idea who. Mum and Dad aren’t home until tomorrow, er, today, and no one else should be in the house besides me. I hear the door next to my room swing open, and someone step in. They has very light footsteps, but it’s so quiet I can hear them. They’re breathing heavily. Oh god, they’re coming in here next. I look around my room for something to hit it with, but the only thing I can reach from my bed is a torch on my desk. I quickly grab it, and pretend to be asleep just as whoever it is comes through my door. As they step in and start looking around, I hear them more clearly, and it sounds more like wheezing than breathing. My eyes are closed, so I can’t see them, but the moonlight outside lights my room perfectly for them to see me. I feel their cold breath over my face. Their right next to me, oh my god, I’m gonna die! But then I hear a voice,

“Hey, calm down. It’s just me.”

I open my eyes to see that it was only a red haired boy from my class, though I have no idea why they’re here.

“Oh, Solus. Jeez, I thought you were a burglar or something. What the hell are you doing here this late?” I ask.

 He shrugs and says “Uh, it’s a long, weird story.”

 I sit up in bed, “Well, I can’t sleep, and I need some reasons not to call the police for breaking into my house.” I say in a friendly matter, “This is an interrogation now.” I hold the torch above his face and shine it on him like they do in movies and TV.

 The light shines over him and reveals that, it is not in fact Solus, but some sort of disgusting creature. It had a humanoid shape, but its skin was weak, loose, and made of decaying flesh and hessian rags, its eyes and mouth were empty, and the inside of it was just pitch black. Naturally, seeing something terrifying I scream as loud as I possibly could. I then wake up staring at my ceiling. I roll over to see its 12:37pm, the same day. Was it a dream, or am I finally losing my slim grip on reality? I get dressed, and go to open my door. It’s open. I always close it before going to sleep. It must have been real. I run downstairs and see my parents in the kitchen.

“Mum! Dad! There was a monster in the house last night! It was in my room, and it left the door open!” I shout.

My Mum sighs, “I knew we shouldn’t have left her on her own. Look, it was us who opened the door, not some ‘monster’. We’ve been over this, there’s no such thing as monsters.”

“It’s not her fault she sees things that aren’t real. It’s the schizophrenia. You didn’t take your pills last night did you?” my Dad says.

I didn’t expect they’d believe me. They never do. No one does. They all say “I’m crazy” or “it’s all in your head”. Maybe their right. Maybe none of it’s real. But it all feels so real. So real that I’m not sure how to distinguish what everyone else sees from what just I see. Oh well.

I wasted the weekend away and before I knew it, I had to go to school again. I went to class as usual. I don’t like school, the teachers always give me “special treatment” because I’m different. I know they’re only trying to help, but it’s like they’re trying to shove their opinion of me not being as smart as everyone else down my throat. The teacher eventually goes off to help someone else, and it was then I realised Solus wasn’t here. No one else noticed him missing. He always sits on his own, never says a word. But then again so do I. Teenagers are too judgemental to accept someone who’s different, so I always sit on my own. Just as I thought that, the door opens, and I freeze in terror. The Husk monster from the other night floats in.

“Solus. So kind of you to finally join us.” The teacher says, as if all this was normal.

The Husk then occupies the only empty seat which was next to me.  No one is batting an eye. It’s like I’m the only one who can see the Husk. And there’s no point speaking up, no one will believe me. I try to take everyone’s advice by ignoring it, but it isn’t the easiest thing to get out of mind.

The period ends, and I go to my locker to get my lunch. I close its door to reveal the Husk behind it. It’s just standing there, staring at me, wheezing like someone dying.

“What? What do you want?” I say backing away from it.

Then the strangest thing happened. It didn’t say a word, but it was like I could hear what it was saying through its deathly wheezing.

“< You called me a ‘husk’ before, do you know what ‘husk’ means?>”

I’m pretty sure I didn’t say that out loud, I shake my head anyway.

“<It could mean a few different things. But its most common definition is an empty shell with nothing inside of it.>”

I’m not sure what it means, so I go to walk away. But it reappears in front of me when I turned around.

“<We are not born like this you know. We become consumed. It happens when someone dies on the inside, but their body keeps going about daily life. From the outside, no one can tell us apart, but we are all slowly dying. Naturally, we want to slow that process, so we “borrow” souls off of unsuspecting people to keep ourselves living for a short while longer. When someone has their soul taken from them, it doesn’t turn them into a husk straight away, but it does seem to speed up the consumption.>”

I’m not sure why it’s telling me this, maybe it was after my soul the other night. Oh well, these days, it seems like I’d make a decent Husk. Doesn’t feel like much is in me. I want to know more, but I’m not sure I should ask it anything, not only because it scares the hell out of me, but I don’t even know if it’s real. But I decide to ask anyway.

“What do you mean by ‘we’? And what’s doing this consumption?”

“<Human weakness. Arrogance. Sin. Despair. Depression. Whichever name you pick for it. As for we, I am not the only Husk there is. I am one of millions, if not, billions. There are likely more Husks than humans. The average human is buried at 84 years, but dead by 23. Cursed to live a dreamless humdrum life. One cannot tell a Husk from a human, we can feign emotions, just not feel them.>”

“Why are you telling me this?” I ask.

“<I almost reaped your soul the other night. You should know about what could eventually happen to you.>”

“Then why are you a Husk? You’re only in High school.”

“<The body of Solus goes about its life as on lookers expect it to. I was consumed into a Husk by my own arrogance and weakness. Always looking down on others, I isolated myself not wanting to lower myself to such level. Of course, I actually had it backwards, the rest of society was above me. By the time I realised, it was too late. Too much damage was done. And the consumption was not rejected nor rebelled against. I have said enough, you might be able to figure who is a Husk from now on. Most of the disguise is just ignorance.>”

And just like that, he vanished.

Solus showed up to class again that day, looking like he normally did. The teacher acted like he didn’t come in this morning. Maybe he didn’t. Maybe all of that Husk stuff was, as everyone else says, all in my head. But whether it was real or not, most adults I see and some people younger, often look melancholic or lifeless, like they really were dead on the inside. Just an empty shell pretending to be alive. I’m never really bored, there’s always something on my mind, or in it, to keep me entertained. Well, there used to be. Lately I’ve been losing sleep. I’ve been thinking about this whole ‘Husk’ business a lot more, and the more I think about it, the more it bothers me. I don’t really want to become a Husk, the whole idea of it scares me. Of course, no one would believe me if I told them about it. But I think I’ve made up my mind. Although it is true, that I’ve always had a hard time distinguishing reality from fantasy, but now I’m completely certain they are real, and why I may never sleep again.

 

The Darkness of the Slums

The girl was fast asleep in her bed. Temporis had originally snuck in to find food for him and his friends, but he was interested by a book she had. He reached out to grab it. Don’t touch it. It emits a darker force than I do. “Ay, shut it Malus. It looks really cool” Temporis said as he reached out to grab it again. It’s supposed to look appealing. That’s how it lures in its victims. “Hmmph! Fine, I’ll take it to Ossa. He’ll know what to do with it.” Temporis said as he shoved it in his thief sack. Temporis wore a worn-out red cloak, tethered clothes and had a large sack where he put all of his stolen goods. He looked at the girl again, she was sound asleep, unaware of what he could do to her. Although he hated the rich, Temporis left her be having no reason to do anything to her. He snuck out of her door without making a sound and snooped around the house looking for other things worth stealing. Temporis picked the lock to another room that was locked for whatever reason, and inside was a boy sleeping. Malus floated in after him. Malus was Temporis’s spirit familiar, he is the source of his power and acts as a thing to guide him Temporis. When he felt the presence of the boy in the bed, he changed from his dark purple colour to a bright white colour. His tiny voice echoed silently, Can it be? Is he the one? “What is it now Malus?” Temporis asked. It would take too long to explain everything, but I believe this boy can restore order and bring humanity back to its former glory. “Hmm, that sounds like it’s a pretty big whoop, but I don’t think I can steal him out of here. I mean, pfft, maybe if Garves or even Flors were here we could get him…” Then it’s decided “Whoa, wait, are you serious? I was kidding” Well I was not. We shall come back another time, with more hands.

Temporis left the room realising that the only thing worth stealing was the boy. He snuck downstairs and raided the kitchen for things that he and the others would enjoy. But he eventually got careless and the cupboard door slammed behind him. He looked upstairs and saw a light turn on and a stomping noise coming closer. “Oh crap” Temporis said sneaking out of the kitchen into the hallway again. The stomping was growing closer and closer. Without thinking, he opened a door and closed it behind him, not bothering to be sneaky. The man knew he was here. Temporis lit his torch to see where he was and found he was in a basement. There wasn’t anything worth stealing there, only an ice skate, a rug, a radio and a stack of old newspapers. He then realised there was no exit. “Oh crap, oh crap. I can’t die here, the others need me.” Temporis heard more loud footsteps coming from the hallway. He couldn’t sneak out now. He desperately looked for something to barricade the door with, but there was nothing that would be useful. His heart was pounding, he was sure he saw the doorknob turn. Temporis started panicking, “Oh god. Malus, what do I do?” You could cast a gate open. Suddenly he’s worries faded away. He breathed a sigh of relief, “Oh, yeah. I reckon that would work,” he said pulling out a piece of black chalk and began drawing a sinister looking circle pattern on the floor. “Er…..what’s the home symbol again?” Triangle on top of a square. You know, like a house, the common home? “Well, la-de freakin’ dah, Malus. Did you live in a house when you were human? Because you fully well know that I don’t” Temporis hissed as he finished drawing up the Solomon and pulled out his knife.

He hesitated, “How much blood?” Temporis asked. You should really know by now. You won’t need to cut more than a slice on your wrist. Honestly Temporis, if you spent less time stealing and more time practising magic, maybe you wouldn’t need to escape now. The man upstairs only has a shotgun, nowhere near a match for an experienced dark magician Malus said in disappointment. Temporis quickly made a cut in his wrist and spread he’s blood over the circle just as the man who owned the house burst through the door. Temporis didn’t bother to turn around, it would only waste time. He shoved the knife into the middle of the circle and cut a tear in the fabric of space and time. He jumped in and closed the portal the second he was in. For a few moments, Temporis was falling through an empty black void. Eventually he slipped through a crack in the void and fell into the slum site that he called home. He pulled himself off the ground and took in lots of deep breaths of air. You wouldn’t strain yourself so much if you…. “Yeah, yeah! I get it! I’ll practise later, until then, get off my back.” Temporis’s ‘home’ was amidst a large wasteland full of forgotten past, old scrap and junk, and hidden dangers. He was outside of the city where all the rich people lived. Humanity had fallen into dark times throughout the last two decades. War and famine had tortured civilization until eventually, the governments throughout the world turned a blind eye to the middle and lower class. They built walls to separate the two of them. In these terrible wastelands, only a fraction of a small percentage had survived. Temporis and his friends lived in their makeshift homes made out of old civilisation and whatever they could find. They had to be careful of where they stayed however. Certain parts of the world had been bombed and now were covered in fields of radiation. It was so early in the morning that it was still dark. Temporis wandered until he found where his friends were resting.

“Oi chumps! I got food. I’d recommend waking up before I eat it all” Temporis called out. His three friends stirred from where they had been sleeping, but then arose out of hunger. They all groaned in anger having been woken before they intended to be, but food only came when Temporis went into the city. “Yeah, I know y’all crappy having been woken. I would be pretty pissed too, but look at alla this loot I swiped from some sucker” he said rolling out his sack into a rug. They all seemed quite pleased with the selection, especially Temporis. Of the four of them, there was three boys and one girl all aged 13 to 16. The youngest who was thirteen was called Ossa. He was smart and good at making things. The other boy was called Garves and was 15. He was big and very strong for his age, and could easily carry things and fight, but didn’t talk much. The girl’s name was Flors, and was 16 just like Temporis. She was good with medical things and healing with magic. Temporis exceled in swift moving and dark magic. He was also the oldest and provided food for the group, but was not too smart. The four of them ate together. “*Munch, munch* Thanks for getting me the cakes Temporis. You took your time though” Flors said. “Yeah, it’s almost dark, why were you late?” Ossa asked. “Oh, well, ya see…um. Things, how can I say…..kinda went pear-shaped.” Temporis said. He then stretched his arms and his sleeve rolled down revealing the cut he had made on his wrist. His friends noticed, and he quickly tried to hide it, but they had already seen. “Oh my gosh, your bleeding. What happened to you?” Flors asked. Temporis hid his hand behind his back, “It’s nothing. Stop worrying and enjoy the food. You don’t get to eat this good much, don’t ruin it with my problems.” Flors looked sad, “Temporis. I can help you know, you don’t have to do everything alone. Let me see your hand” she said grabbing her healing staff. Temporis groaned and held out his hand, “You should save that staff for when I’m actually hurt. It won’t last forever y’know?” Flors’s staff glowed and the cut on Temporis’s hand faded away. “What do you mean by “actually hurt”? Do you plan on getting into trouble?” Ossa asked. “Look man, I got away, barely, tonight. They’ll show no mercy if they catch me.” Temporis explained, “Maybe I should go with you next time” Garves said. “Actually, that’s kinda the point. Malus wanted me to steal something out next time I went there, and I can’t swipe it out on my own. Or, well, swipe him out.” The three of them seemed surprised, “You want us to help kidnap some boy?” Ossa asked, “Malus does. Not me. Oh by the way Ossa, I picked you up a little toy. Malus said it was dangerous, but I reckon it’s cool.” Temporis said handing Ossa the book he had stolen. He gasped when he looked at it, “What is it?” Flors asked, “If I’m not mistaken. This book is…” Ossa paused. “Is what?!” Temporis asked in anticipation.

“…..is a worthless piece of crap.” “What?!” Temporis yelled out. “Sorry, nothing more than a story book” Ossa said. “Aw, nice one Malus!” Temporis said sarcastically. I am quite old now. Not all of my predictions are accurate. “So the kid’s just a regular kid?” No. That one I am sure of. He is the boy the prophesy spoke of. Temporis was the only one who could see and speak to Malus, however Malus could see and hear them. Ossa seem sceptical, “Wait, so we’re going to break into the city?” “Yep. And snatch up some kid who might be able to restore humanity back to its former greatness.” Temporis said, “Or, at least Malus says so.” “Will things get messy?” Garves asked, “If you’re asking if we will be seen, probably. So that’s why I’m gonna actually practice magic. I know, it’s scary” Temporis said pretending to be serious, when he actually was. “Well, then. Since you are probably not kidding, I am going to see if I can cook something up that will stop the guards without killing them, they are still people.” Ossa said poking through some piles of waste hoping to find something useful. The four of them finished eating shortly after and Temporis and Ossa went off to practice and scavenge. “Flors” “Yes Garves?” “Remember that dagger you found a couple days ago?” He asked, “I do, what about it?” “Now is probably a good time to learn how to use it. Come with me, I’ll teach you a few things.” Garves said, getting up and searching through his belonging until he pulled out a makeshift axe. It was pretty big.

The four of them spent most of the day practising and making tools that they could use once they reached the city walls. Temporis however, had to sleep at one point, he was going to need all his strength. Once it began to get dark, the four of them headed towards the city. While they walked, Ossa spotted something, “Hey guys, look at this.” He said running over to a rail track. On it was a cart like structure that had a sail on it. Ossa started tampering with it, “Ya reckon it’ll work?” Temporis asked, “I think so. There does not appear to be much to it, we would just have to wait for a long period of wind.” Ossa explained. “When do you think that might happen?” Garves asked, “In a while hopefully.” Temporis said walking ahead, “If it does end up moving, it’ll catch up to us.” Temporis, Flors, Ossa and Garves continued walking alongside the rail track. After about ten or so minutes, a huge gale-force of wind came from behind. “There’s our call. Get ready to jump on the cart when it comes” Temporis said. “Wait, are you joking? We can’t just jump on the cart” Ossa protested, “Fine then, walk. I’ll see you at the city walls.” Temporis said noticing the cart catching up to them quickly, Flors and Garves got ready to jump as well. Ossa was concerned for them, “You guys aren’t really going to…” but Garves suddenly picked him up and they all jumped onto the fast moving cart.

The four of them held on to the cart for dear life. Ossa was scared that they would fall off and hurt themselves, Flors was as well. But Temporis and Garves seemed to be enjoying the ride. The tracks led them over a channel and they could see the city’s walls at the end of the tracks. But the wind started dying down, and they eventually came to a stop. The track was on a man-made stone path that was just wide enough to fit the tracks, so walking along it with falling in the deep water was not the easiest of tasks. It was close to midnight once they reached the wall that contained the city. Ossa pulled out a grapple hook he had made and tossed it up the wall. It didn’t make it near the top. Garves took it off him, “Let me try,” he said as he threw it with all his strength. It made the height, but there was nothing to latch onto at the top. “Now what?” Ossa asked in disappointment. Temporis thought about what Malus might say to him at a time like this. He mumbled some dark magic spell to himself and a ball of blue energy formed in his hand. “Doesn’t that hurt?” Flors asked, “Of course it does. I’ve sapped away my power and blood to make this” Temporis said. He then tossed it up in the air, and it flew up to the top of the wall. “Yo Garves. Toss me the rope when I’m up there, ‘kay?” Temporis said as he swept Flors of her feet. She blushed out of embarrassment, “What are you doing?!” she squealed. Temporis counted down for when the energy would reach the top of the wall, “Three. Two. One” as he finished saying that, he and Flors disappeared from sight and into the empty void again. The two of them flew up to the top of the wall and then reappeared on top of the wall. Temporis let her down to her feet. Flors was flustered, “Oh. I thought for a second there, you were…..going to...” Temporis was not paying attention to her and grabbed the rope Garves had thrown him. He handed it to her, “Here, hold this real quick.” Flors held the rope while Temporis signalled Garves to climb up. Temporis and Flors held the rope and helped Garves scale the wall. Once he was up, Temporis signalled Ossa to do the same, but he shook his head. They couldn’t yell to each other as it would alert the guards. Temporis made the body expression that would translate to “what the hell man?” But then Ossa tied the rope around himself and tugged it a bit. “What the hell is he doing?” Temporis whispered in rage, “He wants us to pull him up.” Garves said beginning to do so. The three of them pulled him up, it hadn’t crossed Temporis’s mind that Ossa wasn’t strong enough to climb the rope himself. The four of them looked over at the sleeping city. Ossa, Flors and Garves were lost for words, this being their first time seeing civilisation. “Wow” Garves muttered. “It’s beautiful” Flors added. “I wish we were alive when everyone lived like this” Ossa said, “Where is this house with the boy?” It was then Temporis realised he had no idea, “Ummm…..Malus?” It’s the house two houses to the left of the fountain. “What’s a fountain?”  The ceramic structure spraying water. “Ah, thanks. Okay guys, it’s over there” Temporis said gesturing to the general area of it. Without wasting time, the four of them ran across the rooftops to the destined house which held the boy. “Say, Temporis,” Flors asked, “Yeah?” “Why are we taking this boy anyway?” Temporis was silent. “You have no idea do you?” Ossa moaned. “Malus?” Temporis whispered. I heard a prophesy long ago about a child. And that this child could restore balance to human life, bring the poor back on their feet. This boy is exactly like the prophesy spoke of. “Well?” Ossa asked in anticipation. Temporis shrugged, “Eh. Something ‘bout restoring humans back to the way they used to be.” The others thought this was a much bigger deal than Temporis did. “*Gasp*, oh this is huge. Think, we could be living like this if we pull this off” Ossa said to them all. “Quiet. We’re here” Temporis said as they stopped on the rooftop of the house he had robbed the other night.  

One by one, Temporis, Flors, Ossa and Garves snuck in through the window. They landed in the hallway of the house on the top floor. “Which room is it?” Ossa asked, “The one on the end, it’s locked. Ya want me to get it, or can…..” “No, no. I got it.” Ossa said as he pulled out a lock-picking device he made. He begun working on the lock, for some reason it had much more security than the other night. “What’s going to happen about the parents?” Flors asked, “Good thinking Flors. Garves, with me” Temporis said he the two of them snuck downstairs. Temporis explained his plan “Ok Garves, I’ve seen these rich lot use some sorta do-hicky that let’s ‘em talk to someone not here. It’s like a flat U shape and black, go find the one in here and wreck it. And I’ll cheeseball the grown-ups out.” “Got it” Garves said as he began searching. Temporis then pushed over a statue and it smashed and made a loud noise. Flors yelled and whispered down form upstairs, “What are you doing?!” “Stay out of site. They’ll come from the far room.” Temporis whispered back. Sure enough, within moments a man with a shotgun appeared from the door Temporis told Flors about. He ran straight downstairs where the noise came from, not bothering to see the poorly hidden Flors and Ossa. To his knowledge, there was only one thief. “Heh, right on time” Temporis muttered as he scraped his knife against the wall. The man ran over to where Temporis was, but he was too fast for him, and easily reappeared from behind. “Yo, wassup?” Temporis taunted. The man turned around, he looked furious. “Two times in the same week! You’ll pay now you low life!” He barked raising his shotgun. Temporis jeered him a bit more, “Oh no. I’m sooo scared. It’s all over for me now” “Damn right you scum. We eliminated your kind long ago, but I guess there’s always scum on the bottom of the barrel. You can’t act so cocky boy! You unarmed, and I have a loaded weapon.” The man roared. Temporis smirked, “I see no weapon, but that’s a nice buncha flowers.” The man looked at his hands to see he was holding the bouquet from the vase next to him. His shotgun was stuck in the vase, Temporis had switched them faster than the eye could see. The man quickly went to grab his shotgun, but the second he took his eyes off Temporis it was too late. Temporis pulled his knife out of the man’s back a let out a sigh of relief. He went to find Garves to see if he had destroyed their communication device yet, but when he turned around he saw a woman holding her hands over her mouth seeing the man on the floor dead. He assumed that it was the man’s wife, and she did not look happy. “Uh oh” he muttered realising that he had already drawn his knife and couldn’t surprise attack her. She kicked him hard in the nose. “Ah crap!” he yelled out as he held his nose. When he moved his hands away he saw lots of blood on them. The woman punched him several times in the head until Temporis fell to the ground and she began kicking him violently. She was about to start stomping on his face, when Temporis worked up the strength to counter attack, “Taceo!” he yelled out as he shot out a dark aura form his hand. It hit the woman and she froze up. The spell had a short effect as he was low on blood and she started moving again before he could even crawl away. As the woman was about to finish him off Temporis braced for the hit, but instead of getting kick again, he heard a slicing noise. He looked up to see Garves violently pull his axe out of the woman’s neck, and she collapsed on the ground next to her husband. Garves helped Temporis upstairs. He was in bad shape, and was bleeding and bruising all over his body especially his face. Garves laid him down on the ground easily next to Ossa who had almost opened the door.

Temporis moaned, “*Augh*…….that……sucked…” Flors covered her mouth with her hands, “Oh my god?! Temporis…what happened to you?”  “Oh….I’m sorry…Did you…not see the…..kung-fu champion….come down the stairs….or hear her……beat the living crap outta me?!” He hissed. “Oh my god. Look at all that bl….b-b-blood. I think I’m going to be sick.” Flors said looking away. Temporis grumbled some more, “Hey remember….when I said save……your staff for a time……I’m actually hurt? As you can see……I’m pretty freakin’ hurt.” “Oh my god. Yes. Yes sorry,” Flors said grabbing her staff. She focused her energy on the gem at the tip of it and it glowed green. Slowly, but surely, Temporis’s wounds began to heal. “Thanks…Flors…Hey Garves…..” Temporis muttered, Garves turned to him, “I smashed the…” “That’s great. But what I wanted to say was thank you. Ya really saved my ass back there, I was getting’ beaten like the sleazy rat I am. Cheers bud” Temporis said as he grinned smugly. “You would have done the same for any of us.” Garves said bluntly, he was not used to praise. “Got it.” Ossa said as the door slowly creaked open. He and Flors poked their head in to check for any unlikely danger. Nothing of the sorts was there. The boy was asleep in his bed, Flors and Ossa crept up to the side of the bed and took a closer look at him. He looked like he was about 9 or 10, had brown hair and was pretty short. Ossa looked around at the room he was in to try and understand what he might be like, nut there was next to nothing but clothes and wallpaper with doves on it. “How the heck are we supposed to get him out of here?” Flors asked, “I dunno, chuck ‘im in a sack?” Temporis sarcastically suggested. Ossa seemed to be thinking hard, “Do you have something beneficial to say Ossa?” Garves asked. “I do not think we should bother trying to take him out. Whatever makes him special or whatever, can probably be done in the city. I think we should just stay here until we figure out what to do with him.” “I dunno, what if some guard or something raids this house?” Temporis asked, “Well, I do not think something like that would happen. I read up on the authorities here, and they only take action if something bad happen, like killing people.” Ossa explained, “But we’ve already killed two people” Garves added. “I know, but they won’t act unless they know that two people were killed. And they won’t know unless anyone tells them, and so far it’s only us who knows.” Temporis cut in, “Oh wait, hold on. Plot hole. There was another girl about our age in another room. Probs their kid, and I don’t think she’ll be too happy once she sees her parents are dead. And we kinda made a lotta noise down stairs, she’s probs awake now grabbin’ a knife or somethin’.” Ossa frowned, “Well. They did used to say “Leave no witnesses”.” “You’re suggesting we kill her?” Garves asked raising his axe. Flors didn’t like that idea, “No! We can’t just kill an innocent girl.” She yelled. “SHHHHHHHHH!!!!” Ossa hissed, but it was too late. The boy in the bed began to stir. Ossa quickly jumped out of his sight as he opened his eyes and saw Flors. His faced was then overcome by fear and he screamed. Flors quickly covered his mouth, “Shh. Shhhhh. Quiet now. It’s alright, I’m not going to hurt you” The boy muffled something from under her hand, “Who are you? Are you an angel?” Flors seemed surprised by that question and looked over to doorway way where her friends were. They were giving her the “just go with it, take one for the team” face and gestures. “Uh, yes. Yes I am. I am your….uh…Guardian Angel. Yeah that.” Flors said as she smiled nicely. Her act wasn’t very convincing but the boy must have been fairly gullible. “Oh, that’s good. My prayers have finally been answered.” He yawned, “Wait what? Your prayers?” she asked, “Yes. I have been praying for years now, and now you have finally come. That is why you’re here right?” “Uh huh. You bet.” Flors said, “now, go back to sleep. And we’ll, um, talk more in the morning.” The boy nodded and rolled over and went back to sleep. The four of them blew a sigh of relief. “Oh wait, crap. What he gonna say when he sees us? Because we’re gonna be camping here.” Temporis wondered. Ossa shrugged, “We’ll think of something. We have another….” The door next to them leaned opened and a girl walked out wielding an umbrella. “…problems.” Without hesitation, Temporis yelled out “Somnum!” And shot a dark aura at her. She feel to the ground, asleep, seconds later. “Nicely done” Ossa said to Temporis, who was hunching over in pain after using even more blood.

Temporis, Ossa, Flors and Garves cleaned up the mess of bodies and came up with an explanation for why their parents were gone; they had to head out on government business, and they left the four of them to take care of them. They then spent the rest of the night sleeping in the lounge room. Sleeping on dirty makeshift beds for all their lives made a proper piece of furniture like sitting on a cloud from the heavens. Temporis awoke in the morning. He looked outside, and saw the large beautiful city, “Oh good, it wasn’t a dream.” He said to himself, as he turned to where his friends were sleeping. Garves and Ossa were sleeping peacefully on a couch and a chair, but Flors was nowhere to be seen. “I wonder where she went.” Temporis muttered scanning the room. Something else was also on Temporis’s mind, “Hey Malus,” Yes Temporis? How may I be of assistance? “How is the kid gonna fix everything back to normal?” I am not entirely sure. Maybe try taking him to the highest authority. Perhaps that might trigger something. “That sounds kinda risky. But I guess it’s worth a try, I mean it’s not like….” Temporis looked around to make sure no one was listening. It’s not like your lives are worth anything. Temporis was shocked to hear Malus say that, “How did you…..know to say that?” Oh, did I steal your line? Your one to talk about stealing you little thief. “Yeah…you did. You’ve never had spunk until now, why’s this?” Heh, heh heh. Hahahaha! “Grim laughter isn’t the response I was looking for…” Don’t you get it? Or are you really that stupid? Don’t answer, I already know. I know everything about everything that has happened to you and will happen to you. “What?! How? This isn’t funny Malus” Hahaha! Oh but it is. And you can stop calling me Malus, it’s so demeaning. “What are you talking about?” Temporis was getting angry now, “Who the hell are you?! What are you?!” Hahaha. You really should get that temper under control, you’ll wake up the doomed. It honestly cannot be any more obvious. I am you. Temporis was beginning to lose it, “No. No. No! This can’t be happening. What are you?! Is this why no one else can hear you or see you?” Heh. The glowing light you see me as is an illusion I pulled on you, and they can’t hear me because I’m inside you. I know what will happen in the future. Tonight specifically. “You were talking bull about taking the kid to the highest guy, weren’t you?”  I wasn’t actually. That is the only way to put the lower class to peace, i.e. you. “How can I trust you?” Why wouldn’t you? I am you, remember? All that magic you can use, is because of me. I am your power, your inner strength I even have the power that you haven’t unlocked yet. “Oh yeah, like what?” I said I know what happens to us, and everything about us. Everything. Temporis thought about all the things he thought he had kept secret, and now this voice that he hears knows about them. You’re thinking about how I know about our secrets. All of them. I see the future, I know how to prevent everything. “What would I need to prevent?” I can’t spoil the story. You have to live through it. Heh, I’m going to leave for a while, but I’ll be back right when you need me again. And just remember, anything you think of, I’ve already thought of it. In a nutshell, I can make you do whatever I wish and you’ll think you’re doing it of your own free will. “You mean you can control me whenever you want? That’s a load of…” I can plant an idea in your head, and you have no way of knowing if it’s yours or mine. And while you’re asleep. I have full control of your body. Just a heads up, your gonna have to clean your knife again. And after Temporis heard that, the voice stopped.

“Does that mean I, no, he killed someone? With me?” Temporis wondered he looked around at the room again, it was just him, Ossa and Garves. “Uh oh, where’s Flors?” Temporis thought, “Have I killed her? No….no….if he’s laid a finger on her, using my body, I’ll…..”  “You’ll what? And who’s died?” Flors said walking through the door with the boy. “Oh. Uh, you heard alla that huh?” Temporis muttered in embarrassment, “No, just the bit about someone dying. What’s going on Temporis?” Temporis decided not to say anything about his alter ego. “Nothing. Nothing, I’m just a little crazy after losing so much blood. Where’d you go? I was worried when I saw you were gone” “You were?” He blushed, “Uh...um….yeah. I mean, I’d be worried if any of us were gone. I mean, uh, we’ve known each other for a real long time, it’d be a shame if someone died. So, where’d you go?” “Oh right, this is, uh, Alfie, yeah. And he just showed me his favourite place to visit. It was really cool, we came back to get you guys, you have to see it.” Ossa and Garves walked over to them, “See what?” Ossa asked. “What did you say it was called again?” Flors asked, “The gardens. It’s full of plants.” Alfie said. “Plants. They’re the greeny things right? I have read a bit about them.” “Yeah, there’s lots of colours of them. Come see,” the boy said running out the door. Garves and Ossa followed him out. “Aren’t you coming? I’d love to see this with you,” Flors asked. Temporis thought for a bit, “Nah. I wanna see it with you too, really. But I got crap to do later tonight, and I’m gonna try recover from all the blood loss. I am gonna need my blood for magic.” Flors seemed disappointed, “Oh, I see. Well, do you want me to stay here with you?” “No, I couldn’t ask you to do that. Go have fun, I’ll just….I’ll just, think about what I’m gonna do tonight.” “Oh….ok then. I guess I’ll see you later then,” Flors said as she left.

Temporis spent the rest of the morning sleeping, until the face on the wall said 3pm, whatever that meant. He then began wondering about the voice in his head. Was it really him? Was the so called ‘prophesy’ “Malus” spoke of was fake? And what did he mean by clean his knife, had he really killed someone? When he went to sleep last night, he felt very weak, but when he woke up he felt much better. Even before he slept again, he felt much stronger, like he had absorbed energy from something. For once in his life, Temporis put two and two together, and ran upstairs as fast as he could. He burst into the room of the older girl and was not too surprised to see what had happened. On the floor was her dead body, in the middle of a sacrificial circle. “I knew it…” Temporis muttered. He spotted his knife in the girl’s neck, and pulled it out. His other side had gotten the better of him during the night and snuck upstairs to sacrifice her for more power. He hadn’t known her and wasn’t overly sadden by her death, but he wasn’t for killing innocent people for self-gain, even though it technically wasn’t his fault. Hello again. I see you’ve noticed the mess we made “This is wrong. And sick! How can you keep talking to me like you are?!” Maybe we got off on the wrong foot. Let’s start over “I don’t want to. You’re a cold hearted killer and…” Just hear me out. That’s all I ask, then I’ll leave you be. He decided to give it a chance.

Temporis’s friends returned from the gardens when the face on the wall read 8:00pm. He knew what to do, and he was ready. “Well now, you look awful serious.” Ossa said. “I understand now……I know everything” Temporis muttered, “Get ready. We will be leaving shortly.” “Wait, hold on. Get ready for what?” Flors asked, “What’s wrong, you seem different since this morning.” Temporis was different now, “I’m fine, never been better. The only thing different is I understand.” “Understand what?” Ossa asked, “Everything, everyone. I feel everything! I know everything! I understand why everything happened, why everyone happened. The upper class taking over, why only Flors and I can use magic, how to return everything back to the way it should be. And I know how to do it.” Temporis spoke like a madman. “Well it’s finally happened; Temporis went crazy after using too much magic. It was bound to happen.” Ossa said unsurprisingly. “Quiet construction slave” Temporis hissed. Ossa was offended, “Hey! Where did that….” Temporis’s head twitched to the left and back quickly, “Um…ignore that. As me was saying, we should really get going. Everyone get your stuff ready, little kid included.” “Why? What’s going on?” Flors asked, “I’ll explain on the way.” Temporis said putting down the book from the other night.

Hoping he knew what he was doing, Garves, Ossa, Flors and Alfie followed Temporis into the night. Alfie tugged on Flors’s shoulder, “We can’t go out now. There’s curfew, the guards will see us and take us away” he whimpered. “Hush now. I’ll see what I can do.” Flors said comforting the boy, “Temporis, this isn’t a good idea. We might get caught by these guards. And what are we even doing?”  Temporis’s head twitched to the right, “Quiet, your feeble mind cannot conceive the idea I have in mind.” The five of them hid behind some bushes near the fountain to avoid being seen by the patrolling guards. “Ok, this is where we split up,” Temporis begun, “you two…” “No. I refuse to do anything until you tell me what you are planning. And what is this? You have never thought of a plan yourself. You have always looked to me or Malus.” Ossa protested, Flors and Garves nodded in agreement. “Do not call me that, it is so demeaning.” Temporis hissed, “I did not call you…” “If you fools will not cooperate without some knowledge, then I have no choice, I cannot do this alone. I plan to take over the central command, where the minister makes all his orders. Garves and Ossa will sneak in and chip away at their defences, while I make a distraction for all of the guards out here. Flors waits here and protects the kid, until I can come back and escort them to the top of the tower.” He pointed to a giant tower not too far from where they were. Garves and Ossa seemed sceptical, “How are we supposed to get in, and “chip away at their defences”?” Ossa asked. Temporis’s head twitched to the left, “You’re a smart kid. You’ll figure something out. And what I meant by chip away at their defences is kill the guards inside and break their security crap. It’s easier than it sounds, trust me. Go now. And hurry, the minister takes his break in 20 minutes, that’s when we strike.” Ossa and Garves went off even though they had their doubts about it. Temporis got up to leave, but Flors grabbed his hand, “Wait, before you go. In case I don’t see you again, I want you to know that I….that I….” Temporis’s head twitched to the right, “What is it, girl? There is little time as it is. Your petty ‘feelings’ have no place in this operation.” Flors was upset with what he had said, “G-g-girl? I…thought we were…on the same page here” Flors said on the verge of tears. Temporis sighed as he rolled his eyes and walked off.

 He ran down to the pier which also wasn’t too far from where they hid. Temporis noticed a lantern on a pole and thought it would make a nice makeshift staff. He ripped it off the fence, and held it up it the air. The flame turned from an orange colour to a dark black and he stomped it on the ground. It sent a shock wave of shadow energy out to sea. Temporis’s head twitched to the left as he clutched his aching body, he swapped one of his kidneys for that spell. But the pain seemed non-existent when he saw the huge tanker coming in from the horizon. It was approaching the city very fast. “Heh heh heh. Looks like that tome paid off after all,” Temporis hissed as he ran back to the fountain. “I hope Garves and Ossa made it in alright. A guard saw him running, “Hey! Stop right there!” he yelled out pulling out his gun. Temporis’s head twitched to the right, “Imbecile, you cannot stop me.” Temporis shouted at him, “Nosferatu!” as he held out his hand. The life force and soul was sucked right out of the guard and absorbed by Temporis, and the guard collapsed on the ground, dead. Temporis’s head twitched to the left, “You didn’t have to kill him” If I left him be, he would have called for backup, and ruined my great plan. You tried to take credit for it before you smug little thief!
“Didn’t you say that you may give me ideas, but I have no way of knowing? So in my books, this is my master plan” Well now, let’s just see how it pans out for you.

Ossa and Garves had made it to the central command tower, and were stalking the entrance from the cover of darkness. “Damn, there is too many guards to fight, “Ossa said, “Where is that ‘distraction’ Temporis spoke of before?” Garves looked into the distance, “Whether it was Temporis or not, that will certainly suffice.” Garves said pointing to the fast approaching tanker. The guards patrolling the entrance began looking at the tanker, and calling out to it to tell it to stop. “If there was a time to sneak in, it would be now” Ossa said running off. Garves tried to warn him, “No Ossa! They’ll see you.” But it was too late, Ossa ran as fast as he could behind the guards, but one of them turned around to see him trying to pick the lock of the door. “What do we have here? A little slum smuggler?” A guard said as they all slowly closed in on him. All the guards pulled out their guns and aimed at Ossa’s head, “Hey now. Let’s not do anything rash” Ossa said trying to negotiate his way out of his situation.  Garves had no other choice, he drew both his axes and ran out of his hiding place and threw a knife over the heads of the guards to Ossa. The guards turned around to where he threw the knife, Garves was very fast for his size. He attacked from behind, managing to kill three of the six guards. “Ossa now!” he shouted at the top of his lungs. Ossa grabbed the knife off the ground and stabbed one of the guards in the neck. But the other two had already aimed their rifles. They both fired at Garves as he charged and cut their throats. Garves smiled as the guards collapsed next to their comrades, “Alright, let’s get this door open” he said, but he then realised something was wrong when he saw Ossa’s shocked face. Garves looked down at his body and fell to his knees. He had several bullet holes in his chest and body, how he was still alive right then was a miracle. Garves rolled on his back, “Garves! No! Stay strong, you can make it. I know you can” Ossa pleaded, “Wait here, I’ll run for Flors, she can…” “Don’t bother,” Garves muttered, “I’m done. Send my regards to Temporis and Flors, and tell them I sorry,” he closed his eyes as he choked out his last words, “Don’t let my death be in vain…….” Ossa shed a tear to see his friend die right in front of him, but he knew he had no time to waste. Ossa grabbed Garves’s axes and began hacking at the door until it broke. Ossa looked around for a way to stop the guards from knowing Temporis would soon come. He noticed an odd device, it had a screen and was hooked up to a black box that said ‘security computer’. “Breaking that can’t do them any good” he said readying the axe to chop that up. He struck it once, but then stopped dead when he heard the words “Big mistake slum liver.” Ossa heard a loud bang and then fell over on the table dead.

Temporis ran up to the fountain where Flors and Alfie were waiting. “C’mon, we don’t have much time until the tanker crashes into the building. Ossa and Garves probs need our help, let’s go.” Flors sneered back at him, “I’m not going anywhere with you jerk!” Temporis seemed hurt by that, “Whoa, where’s this comin’ from?” “You dense little idiot! Why did you say that before?” She snarled at him, she looked like she had been crying. “Say what? What did I….ooohhh. Aw crap. Look whatever I said, it wasn’t me. It was, uh, this will sound like a crappy excuse, but it was ‘other me’ Malus. He can speak through my body sometimes…” “You expect me to buy that crap?!” Flors screamed back at him. Temporis had no idea what he had said, but he could tell she was really upset, “Look, I know ya hurtin’ right now, and I feel for ya. But I really have to go, I heard gunshots before, and Ossa and Garves will be needin’ our help. So when ya ready to come, well, y’know the way,” Temporis said. He ran off to the central tower, he didn’t want to leave Flors’s side, but he had to. “Alright punk, what the hell was that about? What the hell didja say?!” I said what needed to be said. You wanted all of us to come to peace right? “No. I wanted us to all be happy. And I don’t see that happenin’ anymore now that Flors hates me.” Temporis reached the entrance of the tower, and saw the horror of what had happened to his friends. “Nooooo! No, no, no! This can’t be happening…..they can’t be dead.” Temporis moaned. His face changed when he got an idea. He pulled out some chalk and started drawing up a resurrection circle. You probably won’t listen, but now is no time for necromancy. There’ll be time for them later. “Shut up!!! This is your fault! They’d be alive if it wasn’t for your plan,” No, you’d all be dead if it wasn’t for me. Now you can either cry over spilt tea, or you can go up this tower and kick their sorry asses into hell. “Option two!” Temporis screamed as he sprinted into the tower. There were no guards on the bottom floor where Ossa’s body was. His head twitched to the right, “Sadly for you, I’ll be taking charge here.” Temporis’s other side said. No! I need revenge! “Hey, same body pal. They’re technically my friends too” But it’s still your fault their dead. “No, Temporis, it’s yours.” Temporis’s other side ran up the stair case to the next floor to see it was also empty, he looked out the window to see the tanker about a minute away from crashing into the building. There were guards on board trying to stop the unmanned boat. But even with its mighty engines in reverse, the great ship was pulled further and further into the canal by the dark power of Temporis. The other side of Temporis smirked grimly as he saw his plan nearing completion. He used his enhanced power to sense what waited for him in the floor above him, “Hmmm, an ambush. Pfft, how stupid do they think I am?” He gloated as he focused his magic for a teleportation spell, “Motus,” The other side muttered. He vanished into a void and reappeared behind the guards aiming at the staircase. The other side smiled grimly as he cast a spell to their doom, “Ignem inferni! He yelled out. Temporis’s other side then unleashed a shadowy hell fire upon the unsuspecting guards. They were no match for his dark magic, “That should clear a path for her.” Temporis’s head twitched to the left, “Rggh. I never should have let you persuade me earlier. Trusting you to take over my body was a bad idea,” So you say, but was it really your idea? “I thought that might have been the case. You’re twisted and evil.” Hahaha. I’ll tell you in a moment “Tell me what?” Who and how I know everything. Temporis didn’t get a chance to argue more with his other side, he was interrupted by Flors and Alfie. His face lit up, “You made it, but then you must have…” “…Saw what happened to them. I know, it hurt a lot to see that,” Flors said as she teared up again, “If I had just come when you told me to…” “No, don’t blame yourself. They were both dead before I got here. But you’re here now, does that mean…?” She wiped her tears away, “Yes. I believe you. I thought you were acting strangely, and I guess I was just too upset when you came back. I’m really sorry for what I said before; I didn’t mean it I swear.” “It’s fine, water under the bridge. I can resurrect Ossa and Garves later. But where’s the kid?” Temporis asked, “I told him to wait downstairs. He’ll be fine there, I said I wanted to talk to you about something first. You see it’s about….” Flors was interrupted by a loud horn sound. The two of them looked outside to see the giant boat approaching them very fast. It would not be long before it crashed into the building. They both stared in horror at their doom slowly close in, there was no escape.

 “You didn’t plan on this did you?” Flors asked, “I didn’t do the plan at all! It was all…” Temporis’s head twitched to the right, “You. This was all you’re doing.” He twitched his head back to the left, “You! No! Shut up, get out of my head!” his head twitched back, “I can’t. I am you. That’s right.” Temporis’s head twitched back and forth between the two of them. “What?” “Yeah, I’m your inner power. Our strength, the side that is sane.” “You’re sane? You’ve gotten everyone killed,” “Not exactly, I’ve almost brought everyone to peace. Nothing is more peaceful than death they say.” “You knew this would happen, didn’t you?” “No, you did. You knew deep down that our merry little band had no hope of surviving, so you subconsciously made me. To make all the hard decisions for you. You’re crazy Temporis. You sealed away your true power because you knew this would happen.” The boat horn honked twice, it was seconds away from colliding with the building, crushing everyone and thing inside. “This is it” Flors said in despair, Temporis finally came to his true identity again, “I guess it is.” “Was all that true? That argument you had with yourself?” Flors asked grabbing onto Temporis’s arm. Temporis shrugged, “Maybe, I don’t know. But it doesn’t really matter anymore.” The boat honked its deafening horn once more before it would finally collide. Flors held onto to Temporis tight, “Hey Temporis?” “Yeah?” “I wanted to tell you something before, and I guess it’s literally now or never. I….I love you.” Temporis smiled as they looked each other in the eye, “Heh, me too. I have for a long time now.”  They both closed their eyes and spent their final moment on one kiss as the boat finally crashed into the tower.