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Deadlines. Oh, how Langston Parker hated deadlines. They always seemed to crawl toward him at first, picking their way leisurely through weeks of plotting and typing and revising and retyping; but then they suddenly screamed, “BOO!” and leaped out from behind his computer monitor to torment him through the final weeks leading up to publication. His editors loved setting them. He was all too adept at breaking them.


He leaned forward in his computer chair, squinting at the screen through eyes clouded from lack of sleep. Four empty mugs stood at easy reach around him, resting on stacks of discarded manuscript. Stacks that were growing taller with every passing hour when they should have been shrinking – the Day of Reckoning was a mere seventy-two hours away, and he still had fourteen chapters to write.


The bags under his eyes twitched, as though encouraging the lids above them to close. Parker blinked them into submission and rested his fingers on the keyboard once more. They spit out a sentence: “And, taking her warm hand in his, he brought it to his lips and kiss it…”


“Excuse me, Mr. Parker.”


He gasped and spun around. He hadn’t thought Margaret was home yet—


There was no one there.


“Please correct your error, Mr. Parker. It is irritating me, which is not something that you should desire to happen.”


He scanned the sentence and caught the mistake. Kissed, he typed instead. Then it occurred to him that a disembodied voice had just ordered him to fix a grammatical mistake, and that he had obeyed. This was not like him; hearing disembodied voices, that is.


“Thank you,” he said hesitantly, just in case.


As he had expected, there was no answer.


Parker turned back to the screen. His fingers flashed across the keyboard once more. “’Oh come away with me.’ she breathed. ’Come away and let me be the one you spend the rest of your life with.’”


“Now I am irritated. There are no less than three errors in those two sentences. If you do not find them, then I shall become angry. My anger is even less desirable than my irritation, Mr. Parker.”


Panicking slightly now, he stared at the sentences. “There’s nothing wrong,” he ventured. “They’re fine.”


There was a silence.


“Mr. Parker. Fix them now, or you are a dead man.”


Cold terror, spurred by caffeine, gripped Parker’s heart. He read and reread what he had written, searching frantically for the mistakes, but they eluded him. “Where are they?”
he cried.


“You have five minutes, Mr. Parker, or in the name of English grammar I will personally purge you from the annals of literary history.”


He leaped up and darted about the room, throwing open doors, flinging cushions aside, but could find no one. “Who are you?” he shouted. “Why are you doing this to me?”


“Those who cannot use proper English have no business writing in it. I would suggest that you correct those sentences now, by the way; you have only three
minutes left.”


Parker raced back to the computer and sat down, his hands trembling on the keys. But he still could see nothing wrong with what he had written. “Please,” he moaned. “Tell me what I did wrong.”


“If you cannot see it, then I do not see why I should correct you, only to allow you to poison the English language even further than you already have.”


“But – but I have editors for this!” he cried. “They’ll find it! They’re there so I don’t have to focus on this!”


There was a silence that carried in it more hostility than any words Langston Parker had ever heard.


“So.” The voice was cold. “That is how you see it. You don’t have to use proper grammar, because there is someone else to do it for you.” The air swelled, and the voice suddenly seemed to come from all around him, pressing against him like a tangible force. “It is imbeciles like you who are responsible for the sickening decline of one of the great tongues of the world! It is you who made English the laughingstock of the Indo-European language family! It is you who has destroyed the credibility of the written word as a preservative force! In a thousand years, one could read your book and believe through your idiocy that there is nothing wrong with a dangling participle! With a comma splice! With a split infinitive!


Parker cowered against this grammatical onslaught. “What’s an infinitive?”
he cried.


“Mr. Parker.” Now, every word was a blatant threat, filled with a righteous fury that seemed to emanate from the air itself. “I have been lenient until now, but that statement completely shredded any integrity as a writer you might have had in my eyes. You have a single minute to redeem yourself. If you do not manage to correct your errors in that time, then you will meet your final deadline. And no editor will be able to save you.”


Parker broke down and wept. “You’re an illusion!” he screamed. “You’re an exhaustion-induced hallucination! A waking dream! I don’t believe in you! I don’t believe in you!
I don’t-“


“Thirty seconds, Mr. Parker.”


“No! No!” He snatched at an empty mug and flung it at the monitor. It plunged through the screen in a shower of sparks. With a whirr, the computer died. “You can’t kill me because you don’t exist! There’s no way for you to really kill me!”


“Your time is up. Let it be known that the last sentence you ever spoke contained a split infinitive – a fitting epitaph for your miserable, word-butchering existence.”


The atmosphere seemed to gather at a single point beside the couch, thickening to give the voice a body: a blurred conglomeration of text, fonts weaving back and forth across a humanoid form that stepped forward menacingly. A very real sword appeared in Times New Roman, its point brushing across a vengeful Century Gothic smile.


“Come and meet your final deadline,” it said. The sword flashed, blood splashed like spilled ink, and Langston Parker died on top of his own misspelled work.


The sword faded, and the being bent over Parker, its mouth questing for the ink that smeared the pages on which he had fallen – but before the errors could meet its tongue, its head jerked up as though it had heard its name called from far away.


Its eyes narrowed into Courier slits. “Rice,” it hissed, and faded back into the air, leaving Parker’s body for the coroners. All it took was the page containing his last ill-fated sentences – food for the journey.

So mebbe it's more humor than horror, but whatever. XD This is a story I randomly wrote about Editor-Sama, who, for those of you who don't know me well, is the rather terrifying, grammar-obsessed persona who inhabits my mind. Other people have muses. I have a serial killer.

XD Tell me what you think. This is the first time I've ever given her anything resembling a corporeal form. This might actually be part of a series; with me, there's no telling, though.
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"After What I've Done"
Based on the song "The Opened Way" from "Shadow of the Colossus"

lyrics by Joseph Blanchette


I would turn my soul to see your eyes again
Follow the voice inside so I can feel warmth once more

I'll ride across forbidden lands with sword in hand
Make the mountains bleed until there's nothing left

With every step I take, I'm lost
With every heart I spill, I'm found

I've lost to much only to be lied to
Will you love me after what I've done here?
These lyrics are taken from the first part of the song "The Opened Way" from Shadow of the Colossus"

[link]

The plot of the game is pretty minimal. A young man takes his diseased lover to a temple in the middle of a forbbiden land. Inside a mysterious voice tells him to hunt down and slay the Colossi, and he can bring her back. I won't spoil it, but there's some cool twists in it, and it ties into their previous game ICO quite well.

These lyrics are brief, but i tried to put myself into the mind of the young man, named Wander. I tried to include references to what he does in the game, but I hope its not to vague.
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The Art of Fu: A Legend Begins

I've been lucky for a while.

As a little kid, I wanted to get picked for something in class and the teacher just happened to pick me. I got the winning run in a little league game because the other team committed seventeen errors in a single play. A prize machine once paid out all its tickets to me.

It didn't happen with everything. And sometimes, on the things I wanted the most, it never seemed to work. But when I was really focused and relaxed, it was like things bended my way. It got really weird when I wanted a personal fridge in my bedroom and it just appeared one day. So far as my mom was concerned, I'd had it for years.

I thought of my friend with black hair instead of blond hair (like he always wanted) and he came to school with it one day. I always happened upon the biggest secrets in Zelda, I never died in any of the bullet hell shooters I loved, and I always won in matches verses friends.

I was humble about it with all the dirty looks I got. I tended to keep to myself with a small circle of friends. But I could tell my friends were a little…annoyed sometimes.

My martial arts film friend took a different look at it. He would always tell me that I needed to see "the Old Master" in town to develop my skill.

The Old Master had a real name but most people figured it was Douglas or something normal like that. The Old Master never gave his name. He lived on a hill far in the woods. It had been years since anyone said they had seen him.

After my friend proposed this idea, my other friends quickly picked up on it. I also heard them discussing holding big game tournaments while I was gone. I weighed the idea for a while and figured, since it was the summer and I didn't have much else to do, I would at least give it a try.

I took a walk into the woods, to the place where everyone said the Old Master lived. At the end of the dirt path, I saw the hill with steps cut into the side. The steps were small, barely large enough to plant your foot and almost as far apart as my legs could reach. I peered up but couldn't see the top.

I looked it over, wished I'd packed my brother's old hiking gear and tried the first step. Then, I heard a ding beside me. I turned and saw stone doors sliding open. Out stepped an old man, less than five feet tall. He had what looked like nose hair sideburns along his cheeks (though I hoped that wasn't the case) and a long beard on his chin to his chest. What caught my eye was that his hair (even his facial hair) was brilliant blue.

The same was true of the hair on his head, which was pulled into a tight ponytail at his neck. He was looking away from me and cracked his back like someone splitting a table. He sipped from a coffee mug with what looked to be Bugs Bunny on the side and tapped his pink sandaled feet. He also wore a lavender velvet bathrobe. Other than those oddities, he looked the part. He seemed very old with wrinkled hands but his motions were quick.

Before I could clear my throat, he asked, in a voice deeper than I expected from his small frame, "Why are you here?"

I paused a moment and tried, "Because fate led me here."

He turned from his coffee and scowled at me. "Don't be…a wise ass. I just boot out man who was sent to me by 'fate' last week."

I grimaced and said, "I have this skill. And my friend says, with training, it could really develop into something powerful."

The Old Master eyed me with his dark, steady eyes. "You realize how stupid that sounds?"

I admitted, "Yeah…but I didn't really have anything else planned."

The Old Master's eyes narrowed. He cracked his neck like the slice of a knife and approached me. He set his coffee mug at his feet and looked me in the eye.

I held steady as he reached out and put his hands around my head. His grip was tense. His skin felt strange, like it was tingling next to mine. He brought his head close, his face bulging with veins. He took a long breath in and exhaled.

Then he yelled at the top of his lungs. My ears rung for a moment.

He let go of my head and picked up his mug.

Poking a finger in my ear, I asked, "So what was that for?"

The Old Master shrugged. "It usually scares away the morons and those here on a bet. Guess you're for real. Come on…"

I walked with the Old Master to the steps. He gestured up them with his mug and said, "First test to see if you are worthy of my training. See you at the top." Then he walked back to where he emerged.

I leaned over and watched the hill open in front of the Old Master. I could hear an elevator ding and groan. I was tempted to ask him for a ride to the top but I figured that would not be a good move.

As soon as the mountain closed up, like those sliding doors in Star Trek, I took a breath, eyed the climb, and cracked my neck.

The first couple of steps weren't too bad. I remembered to lean forward so I didn't tumble straight back and to certain death once I got higher. I clawed at the dirt a little when my knees wobbled. I took each step carefully and tried to relax.

I knew my skill was there. I just needed not to think about it and focus on moving upwards. My progress was slow but I soon discovered moving sideways like a mountain goat removed a lot of the problems. It also meant I had an eye-twitching view of the ground way down below me.

I kept going despite feeling wobbly and soon made it over a crest and onto flat land. I panted and laughed to myself as I scanned over the area.

I could see a two-story house in what I could best describe as old, Chinese-style. Although I'd honestly never really seen one of those, except in movies. It had dark tiles with ends poking out at the corners. The roof wasn't particularly ornate, nor was the house itself. It had windows like a normal house. The end I saw was open. What I could see inside looked normal as well.

I took a breath and saw the Old Master approach through the opening. He had a glass of yellow liquid in his hand and was sipping from a straw. He paused in front of me and sighed.

"I guess you are serious. Fine then. But you will abide by my rules. Do you agree?"

I blinked and naturally asked, "What are the rules?"

He scowled. "Do you agree?!"

I grimaced and nodded. "I agree."

He nodded back. "Good start. Rule number the first is --- you will follow everything I say and obey my commands fully. Rule number the second….remember the first. Rule number last…seriously, remember."

That sounded pretty simple to me. Then he said, "Rule number the addendum…you buy all the groceries. And I will addendum any rules I deem…necessary."

I held onto a sigh and nodded. He beckoned me inside. The kitchen looked relatively modern. It even had a fridge and a blender as well as a nice table and a ceiling fan. The next room was a spacious living room with a blue couch, flat-screen TV, and a massive shelf full of DVDs. My eyes arched a little when I noticed all the video game consoles and classic games on a separate shelf. I could identify most of them.

The Old Master turned around, set his drink on a small table, and said, "Are you READY?"

I paused a moment, looked around, and nodded cautiously. He grunted and moved over an NES which was already on. He turned on the TV to reveal Super Mario Bros. 3 paused with Mario on the fifth world airship level. Sky World. He folded his arms and said, "Begin!"

I blinked and unpaused it. I hadn't played this particular level in years so it took a couple of tries. But I soon cleared the airship after taking care of Roy Koopa. I sighed with relief.

I got ready to play more but the Old Master plucked the controller from my hands. He paused it again and stroked his facial hair.

I waited as he walked around me. After a moment, he said, "You did very well."

"Cool. So, is this video game part of my training? Something I'm familiar with to help with focus and concentration?"

The Old Master raised his bushy blue eyebrows. "What the heck are you talking about? How would I guess that? I'm not a mind-reader. Not yet."

I pressed my lips together for a soft 'hmm' before asking, "So then you use video games in your training regularly?"

He shook his head. "I do not."

"Then why did I just play that game?"

He took a deep breath. "Because…I was stuck on that level for three days and it was annoying."

I massaged my forehead and wondered if all this was a bad idea. "Then when will my training begin?"

His eyes focused on me, even more intensely. "No one can be told when their training begins. They must begin the journey themselves."

I scratched my neck a bit. "I suppose. By the way, my name is Kyle Mason."

The Old Master gave me a steady, calm look. "You may call me Tang Fu. I am the master of Fu...and Fu is a part of my spirit. Kung Fu was barely a twinkle in the cosmos when the first Tangs had Fu. Fu is all. Fu is time. Fu can awaken all things. But it can take a long long time. Are you prepared for that commitment?!"

I sat up a little more and nodded vigorously. He watched me a moment and then put the NES aside. "I have a spare room with a roll-out bed. It is quiet and simple."

I figured my accommodations would be simple, so I was fine with that. He set up a few addendum rules. No unauthorized visitors. No loud music (which wasn't in his collection. I noticed he had Megadeth and Hammerfall CDs). Most of it seemed fine. I was here to learn my skill and this 'Fu' stuff. I could deal with some eccentricities. It was odd how much his accent seemed to randomly shift from almost-none to heavy.

Then, he added, "And you must abide by the stick."

"The stick?"

He went upstairs and returned with a long, thin wooden stick. I tensed and asked, "A punishment stick?"

"A reminder stick. Pain in small, precise doses can serve to keep the mind focused. And it makes a really fun sound when swung."

He demonstrated. The sound was halfway between a whip crack and an angry rattlesnake. He had me put out my hand. The stick flicked out. I didn't feel anything at first. Then it burned. Really really burned. Shaking it didn't help. Then it was gone.

For some reason, when the pain cleared, it felt much easier to concentrate than before. He added, "This will be a big part of your training and keeping you focused."

I stretched a bit and took a long breath. "So, this means my training has started?"

He lowered the stick and leaned his head. "Uh...yeah, I suppose so. But not because I told you!"

"Right. Any other lessons you could…impart, Master Tang?"

Tang raised an eyebrow. "Not 'Master Tang'...that sounds stupid. Like a weird cartoon character. Just Tang...or Tang Fu. And I don't have wisdom on command. I'm not a fortune cookie machine. But…you may reflect on this…"

He folded his arms and cleared his throat. "Sometimes...a lesson comes wrapped in many truths...and not truths. And you must decide."

"So I need to…." He darted the stick out and flicked me on the ear. It didn't burn quite as much as the first time but it lasted longer.

"Reflect! No "need to" thiiiis or thaaaaat. Time with reflection."

My shoulders slumped a little. This certainly wasn't going quite the way I hoped for. "Is there any good way for me to avoid getting the stick?"

Tang leaned his head back, set his face, and said, "Duck."

"Duck? As in avoid it?"

He gave me that look again but didn't flick me. "No, cook some duck for me. New addendum rule. You prepare all the meals. And you must wear a special item when you do it…"

He walked upstairs again. I wondered what was coming next. To my surprise, he brought down a pair of tall, soft rabbit ears attached to a headband. Hesitantly, I asked him, "Is this part of my training?"

He snorted. "If you were a cosplay hostess in a café. Mmmm…Ah yes…That was a good trip…" His gaze blanked for a moment. I waved a hand in front of him and he came back with a comment of, "Bunnies mean a lot to me…"

I slipped the ears on. They fit, barely. I wondered at first at the smile on Tang's face. It looked like he was ready to laugh at me. But there was something else in his look. I really hoped it was pride. Then, he sneezed and the look went away. I had to admit the ears were a little dusty.

I looked back towards the kitchen. "So, where's the duck?"

He gestured with a fanning hand and settled into the couch by the tons of shelves. "Lower fridge to the side. It's all ready. Try not to overcook it."

After a few wobbles, I found a positioning of the ears which felt the most comfortable. It was awkward but not bad. It did force me to concentrate on how I walked and moved. Every step I took required conscious effort to keep the ears from feeling unbalanced. I wondered, after all, if this was part of my training. As Tang slurped his drink, I had to have my doubts.

I opened the lower area of the fridge and peered in. A brown, living duck raised its head at me and fluffed its feathers. It had a knit, blue hat on its head. I pulled back from the door, sighed, and glanced around for the cleaver. I found one in a drawer and figured I might as well do it quick so I wouldn't have to think about it.

Out of caution though, I said, "It's not dead."

I could hear Tang jump up and look into the kitchen. He began to speak then he looked at the cleaver in my hand. "What the…were you trying to kill Douglas?"

I set the ears down on the counter along with the cleaver. "You…wanted duck."

He waved his hands with a snarl. "It's leftovers in a little baggy on the side!"

I looked beside 'Douglas' and saw a little baggy. It was a little odd to have a living duck next to a bag of duck meat.

After retrieving the baggy, I had to ask, "What's…Douglas doing in there?"

Tang sighed. "That's his home. And don't you dare take his little hat off. He hates that and he's a chomper when he's mad."

Tang mostly explained that Douglas was an 'arctic duck' he'd rescued. At least he didn't have the stick with him.

Tugging on his longest lock of blue facial hair, Tang sighed, "Alright. For this time only…get out of the kitchen before you kill something." Tang cursed under his breath in a foreign language. It took me a moment, but I soon realized it was Klingon. I wasn't very good at Klingon though, so I headed back to the other room and took a place on the couch. I checked to see that there weren't any other living things hidden around.

Leaning back to look at the rather nice ceiling, I had to wonder if I'd used all my luck with the journey up the steps. I didn't feel like crying but I felt confused, concerned, and not at all any better off here than I would've been just sitting in my room and playing video games by myself. Leaving would require walking out through the door I just came in and down those horrible steps. Or figuring out where Tang's elevator was.

To preoccupy my mind from concerns, I looked around the house a bit. Past the living room area was a narrow hallway. There was one restroom on the left with a tub and a fuzzy toilet. The soap was lavender-scented.

The elevator was rather conspicuous on the other side of the hall. I found of a couple of storage rooms, a book room with quite a bit of shoujo manga, and what seemed to be a small zen garden.

I walked up the stairs and soon found what I figured was the spare room. It was decent. About the size of my bedroom at home. It had a nice window view through a pair of oaks I saw before which were desperately clinging to the edge of the hill.

I didn't get much further before I had a sudden burning sensation on my neck and Tang's voice saying, "I said leave the kitchen…not go wandering. I like giving the whole tour!"

I followed him and the stick back to the room with the TV. He had prepared, in a surprisingly-short time, a steaming feast of duck and veggies. He showed me a scrawled recipe to memorize for when I would be cooking.

I ate cautiously as he turned on the Cartoon Network. Tang seemed to eat cautiously as well but noted, "Smacking of lips would not be an insult…" I made a bit more noise while eating to show my appreciation. The duck was good. I just found myself a little unnerved eating it as Douglas slowly waddled into the room. The look in his eyes seemed almost accusatory.

Halfway through the meal, Tang muted the sound. "I am sorry. It is not often I share this place with anyone…human. Many have said in the past that I am hard to be around."

I gave a quick little nod. Tang glared and muttered, "You didn't have to agree so swiftly…But I shall endeavor to my best effort… to show those many that they were wrong."

That in itself didn't seem to change much. Tang Fu still yelled through dinner and made pointing proclamations while telling me of all my errors. But I felt better.

And Tang still went through with the tour. He noted that keeping things clean would also be a responsibility wherever I went in the house. At the books, he aimed a finger and said, "You may borrow one book at a time. But remember…no dog-earring pages…no food or drink near a book…and don't you ever DARE bend a book on the spine!"

I assured him I shared many of his pet peeves and noted, "I'm a collector of a lot of things. I know how to take care of stuff."

He eyed me a moment and gave a nod.

We returned to the area which I figured would be my area and Tang told me as much. He said I was welcome to bring things from home. "Especially games you may own of…particular interest."

I wished I'd brought my own air mattress but the roll-out looked nice enough. Tang's bedroom was the nicest room so far. He bed looked really soft and he had what looked to be a meditation area set to one side. I saw in front of him there on a spare mat.

Tang rested his wrinkled hands on his legs and breathed out.

"Meditation always brings energy. Good for training. Now…tell me more about your abilities."

I told Tang all my experiences with my luck. He didn't interrupt me at any point, he just stroked his blue facial hair and wore the same, unshifting expression which sometimes looked a bit between concentration and constipation. When I was done, I looked to him expectantly.

He rose from his mat and said, "Excuse me a moment…"

A master bathroom adjoined the bedroom. He closed the door behind him. A few minutes later, I heard a flushing sound and sighed.

Tang returned, cleared his throat, and said, "After due reflection, I see you have much skill. You are untrained but nothing I can't shape into a force of strength and good."

Then, I saw a little twinkle in Tang's eye. "How would you like to see what I can do?"

"Absolutely." I leaned forward on the floor, waiting from some super-fast fight move or manipulation of energy or something.

"Then close your eyes."

I paused a moment but did as he said.

A few moments later, a different voice said, "Open them." The voice sounded so small, soft, and young.

I opened my eyes to a kid, who looked about twelve, standing there with long, flowing blue locks. I assumed it was a girl, or a very girlish boy. She had her arms folded just like Tang and wore a flowing purple dress with short sleeves at her shoulders, a slim form, and a wavy hem ending at her smooth knee. Her socks were long and a light shade of lavender. She brushed at her flowing locks.

"Tang?"

"Noooo….I'm his niece…Of course it's me!" Tang's glare sure felt the same on a younger, girlish body. And her voice grated the same way after that moment of softness. "I am a twelve-year-old girl."

I widened my eyes. "You mean that old man form was just a ruse and you're actually a little kid with mystical powers?"

Tang gave a cute little scowl. "Physical forms are not all that important with the right energy. I am all that you see. I am me. I am Fu…The name can be male or female…and is convenient in all forms."

Fu sat not quite as daintily as I expected for her shape. She folded her arms again. "You may always ask any questions you wish. Except about the color of my underwear! That's private!"

I shook my head and assured her, "Don't worry, Fu. I don't think of you that way in the least." The glare Fu sent me in response to that looked particularly annoyed. She grumbled, "I do have an older form. She's really…developed. But I find this one most relaxing."

I reassured Fu that she was very pretty. I thought for a split second that there would be a moment like from an anime where the younger girl character blushes from the comment of an older boy in a harem sort of show. Instead, Fu leaned her head back a little and said, "Naturally. I am very beautiful. Dainty like a flower. Smooth like silk. And just as quick as always."

I gained some amusement from the idea of hearing Fu say that in his once-rough voice. My amusement showed in a slight smile. Fu glared and drew the stick from wherever it was hiding within her dress. She set it down and said, "But I am slower to annoyance like this. And I have much to teach one as rough and untrained as you. We begin now…"

Fu started me off with breathing exercises for concentration and the rabbit ears returned. Although I had to wonder about them as girl Fu had trouble hiding little snickers as she gazed at them on my head.

Like before in the kitchen though, they were a distraction for my wandering mind to keep my focus up. I felt like I was actually getting somewhere. That first training session was short because little Fu wanted to watch the Powerpuff Girls on DVD. After that, we played Super Smash Brothers Melee (Fu vented for a bit about the changes in Brawl).

During that time, I tried to replicate the focus and wins from competition with my friends. I felt the same as I did then but Fu got all the lucky saves from falling out of bounds. Fu hung on despite a very high percentage. I was KOed several times in a row. And Fu used Pichu to beat me.   

As the victory theme played, I pondered about what other questions to ask Fu. She gave a big, girlish yawn. The light was dimming out the doors and windows. Fu mentioned to me, "If you want to bring anything for the night, you better get it now."

I had packed a bag at home but at the time I wasn't sure if I even had a chance of finding anyone out in the woods. I had to ask, "Can I take the elevator down?"

Fu rubbed her little neck and grunted. I assumed that was about the same as a 'yes'.

It felt so quiet walking home at dusk. At home, mom listened as I told her the situation. Of course, I did characterize Tang Fu more favorably than honestly. She told me to stop by at home if ever needed anything. I gave her a big hug.

I made sure to pack in plenty of really interesting games from my collection. I made sure I had enough everything I could imagine needing for the stay and packed my favorite pillow and toothbrush.

The walk back took longer in the growing night and with all I was hauling. By the time I'd gotten back to the house in the woods and made my way up the elevator (I'd found the wall was motion-activated), I felt pretty tired.

After setting my stuff in my room, I looked for Fu. She was curled up on the sofa with her arms under her head and her legs tight against her. I was tempted to reenact another cliché by carrying her to her bed and tucking her in. But, knowing Fu, she was liable to boot me in the face and whip out a stick by the time I put my arms around her.

Instead, I did a couple of quick stretches and exercises. By the time I was done, Fu sat up and looked around. She watched me a moment and said, "Physical exercise is good for relaxation. Tomorrow, I will show you a number of new exercises for releasing your abilities. For now, what time is it?"

I quoted the time for Fu and she immediately got up and started a new video game (Turtles in Time). I joined in for a bit until I started to get drowsy.

As I was playing, I felt a weird sensation. I was incredibly relaxed. Some of the feeling of exercising remained with me. The actions of jumping and fighting in the game also seemed to have an effect on me. I felt somewhat detached, as though floating in my own body.

Then, a sudden tension pressed at my forehead and nose. It was a little like having a sudden cold, but not sore. Instead, it was like there was a force inside my head, like something that wanted to get out.

In that moment, I looked over to Fu and wondered what it would be like if she actually acted like a girl her age. My vision rippled a little and Fu's expression changed. She smiled a little wider. She actually giggled.

I paused the game suddenly and she pouted at me. "What'd you do that for?"

"Are you okay, Fu?"

She wiggled her feet and said, "Yuppers! But I really really wanna beat this level, so can we?"

Hesitantly, I nodded to her and we worked our way through it. After we finished off Bebop and Rocksteady, Fu jumped up from her controller and did a little dance. She twirled in her dress. I asked her again if she was okay.

She gave a little smirk this time. "Oh? And why wouldn't I be okay? I'm just acting like a girl my age…"

I tensed up for a sticking that never came. Fu cracked her neck and said, "That was very good…for a beginner. I almost changed because of it. But I decided to play along. Now, I have an understanding of your energy focus. It is very much like mine."

I listened but understood very little about what Fu talked about. It was all very abstract and weird and metaphysical. She paused and I asked, "So is this 'Fu' thing kinda like the Force?"

Fu sighed to herself. "Actually…yeah. That probably work better. Only don't go assuming you're the Chosen One or anything. A lot of people have it but they don't wake up to it. So it is probably mere, dumb coincidence that we met. "

Through the rest of the game, I didn't have any further flashes. I was getting very tired and I had a lot of quick deaths. We didn't make to Krang or anywhere near the end of the game. I took a shower first and got ready for bed. Fu was still up with Super Mario Bros. 3.

I tried the roll out. It smelled of lavender. Really nice. Nothing like I expected for something stuck in the corner, almost like it had been prepared for me in advance (unlike the dusty ears). I did ponder whether I somehow unconsciously willed all this with my luck or maybe Fu willed me here because he was lonely.

I paused to think on it but rejected either option. Before long, I was asleep.

I didn't remember my dreams and next thing I knew was the word, "Breakfast."

Tang was standing over me, returned to old man form. I was a little disappointed to see his wrinkled features. He seemed to notice my disappointment as he remarked, with narrowed eyes, "Sorry I'm not as pretty today."

I blushed bright, which was apparently all Tang wanted. He laughed and added, "But seriously…breakfast. I want eggs…over easy. And don't try to take them from Douglas. He's currently male…" I made a note for the rest of Tang's breakfast.

After washing up and dressing, I made my way to the kitchen. Since my brother had always made breakfast and was ever eager to teach me about cooking, it wasn't all that hard. I made something similar for myself with the resources in the fridge. And I gave a little salute to Douglas. He turned his head and glared, bill aimed out.

With both plates in my hands, I walked back to what I considered the gaming room. My eyes widened. Fu was sitting on the couch and she was a girl again. Only she wasn't a kid. She was about my age.

Her hair was still blue and just as long. And she was dressed in sky-blue flannel pants and a t-shirt. The pants looked like the kind someone would wear just out of bed. They were very nice with the mature curve to Fu's hips and her slim legs. Her t-shirt had a high neck-line but the shape of her chest was unmistakable. Naturally, I thought of video game characters to compare her look to. Kula Diamond from King of Fighters sprung to my mind first. Maybe a bit older but close.

Fu brushed her hair back and said, "You better not drop my breakfast…and no eyeballing my boobies!" Her voice was actually still the same as Old Master Tang. The oddity of the situation struck me right then.

Breakfast went as well as could be expected with my curiosity about Fu's new form and my paranoia that a punishing glare or a stick to the head was next.  

Without preamble, Fu said, in Tang's voice, "I relax best in my other form but I use this one as well sometimes. I have many."

I chewed slowly and tried to focus on my meal. "When did you first discover your skills?"

Fu eased back in the couch. "During the Battle of Red Cliffs."

My eyes widened. I knew my Chinese history. Mostly from playing versions of Romance of the Three Kingdoms and Dynasty Warriors.

I stammered out, subtracting in my head, "You're over 1800 year old!?"

Fu laughed and gestured with a fork. "No! I was playing an old video game…and I had this moment…of what can only be described as perfect epiphany. All the world seemed to crystallize into perfect harmony. Like all of heaven was singing. And I beat the game…no problem. But…it took time to master my new skills. Time and patience, as I have said. As 'Fu' is."

After breakfast, Fu rose and beckoned me to rise as well. She faced me and looked me in the eye. I took such an effort not to look her over that she started glaring at me. She put her hands up and said, "Stop…you have my permission. Look and get it out of your system!"

I looked all over Fu's cute form. Several minutes later, Fu grumbled, "Done yet?!"

Eventually, I was.

Fu gripped my hands while facing me. Together, she showed me some tips for meditation. They ranged from stillness to tension. She explained that action worked as well as inaction for focusing the mind. That fit with my experience playing through the video game when I had a flash.

I breathed. I flexed. I even did a little scream session with Fu till my ears were ringing like yesterday.

After that, Fu gave me some books to read. Some of it was poetry. Some of it was manga. And there were even a few strategy guides. Reflecting on the complexity, and yet simplicity, of Street Fighter combos, I found myself floating again.

I settled into it. I let it consume me. Fu had left me alone in my room and I couldn't hear anything else. Not even the expected bird sounds outside. It was like being in my own little world. I breathed so slowly. I concentrated so precisely.

Looking in the corner carefully, so as not to break my focus, I found the rabbit ears from the day before. They found their way to my head despite the fact I couldn't remember picking them up and putting them on. The balance required felt like one of those superpower moments in animes and games. It all flashed.

But not like the last time. And not like the times before. I felt like I was reaching a new level or level-up. I stretched out for it without pressing myself. Like extending my arms, I touched it. I glowed. Everything glowed with light. The light had the tint of a rich field of grass. I embraced the light and it flowed all over me.

As the light began to fade, the sounds returned. Everything else snapped into being.

I stood and smiled. Then something else happened.

I felt it first like a little tickle down my spine. Then it felt like something had sprung a leak and phantom sensations were spilling out all over my body.

I felt a wave that seemed less to be flowing out than stretching inwards from my fingers and toes and radiating towards the center of my body. My fingers seemed more energized and the tingle in my toes was refreshing as well.

I let it flow further inward, though I doubted I could stop it. I looked to my hands. They seemed to undulate inwards, smaller. A few of the fingers shifted in length. My wrist narrowed as well. I could move it a little but I didn't feel the urge to move it more than that.

The undulation spread up my arms and to my shoulder. They looked so soft and small. I noticed down below that my legs had become bare. My pants were gone. None of this seemed to worry me at the time but I felt a rising concern that I couldn't quite place or express.

At my waist, I felt the undulation flow outward at my hips, shifting into the kind of perfect hips I'd seen on Fu. My waist sucked inward and so did something else...something much more important.

The tingle radiated over that area with sensations I'd never felt before. It felt very relaxing right then.

The sensations in my arms joined the ones rising at my waist. A lime skirt fringe formed at my waist and slipped to my knee. The rest of the dress stretched upwards.

What came closest to breaking my relaxation was the pressing sensation of my chest against the dress. The tingles gave me a slow shiver, slipped up my neck, and dissipated into the air above me.

When they rushed out, I immediately returned to my senses and sought out the nearest mirror. My scampering was accompanied by clear, uncomfortable jiggles and a flurry of green locks flowing around my face. And the rabbit ears tumbling on the floor behind me. I left them for the moment.

The mirror confirmed a few suspicions. I was shorter and female. My face was smooth, similar to before, but thoroughly feminized to resemble a girlish version of my dad with a few touches, like mom's dimples and the curve of her nose. My teeth, unfortunately, felt about the same, filled cavities and all.

What stuck out more than anything else, quite literally, was my chest. 'They' were well below the absurdities of Taki and Ivy from Soul Calibur, but were far above what I'd seen on mature Fu. Peeking under my dress, I gulped. I immediately thought of Litchi Faye Ling from BlazBlue.

My hips also looked like something from a video game. They swelled out so much and showed especially in the slim dress I was wearing. I squirmed a bit when I realized that not only had my groin changed to match all the rest but the underwear I wore was a bit too snug.

After some adjustments, I braved my way out of the restroom and down to the game room. Fu was still there. She'd shifted into little girl form again. The expression on her face made me think she'd expected this to happen.

She said, "Didn't expect this. Not so soon. Suppose it is confession time then…"

Fu took a deep breath. "I was an old man, long into my training when I first unlocked my skill. But my first form…not even consciously-formed… related to my essence. The blue of my hair related in some way to my aura or something…like that. My youth related to….whatever influenced that. Uh…but the point is…that first form…I remained in for a good while. Till I learned how to change my body on my own. No matter what after that…I always had blue hair."

It would've been nice for him to tell me about that earlier but I sighed and nodded. "Well, if I got to this point faster, maybe I can get to the shifting skill faster?"

Fu pulled out a Wavebird controller from behind a cushion. "You better get on it. Unless you don't mind being known as 'the boobie lady'." Fu gave a little smirk.

I winced and wondered again if Fu could read my mind about the Litchi thought. Then again, she probably had all versions of BlazBlue somewhere.

Before we settled down to a game of Smash Brothers, Fu shifted the reality of my clothes. Some of my new clothes looked like something which could go with the ears in a fetish café. But Fu did give me plenty of comfortable outfits.

With some good support for my chest, a loose top, and some soft pants, I was ready to begin the next leveling up of my luck. As we sat down, Fu handed me the rabbit ears. I half-wondered if Fu included them as a distraction so she could further hand me my ass. But her expression was calm and friendly.

Her next words were, "Although, I hope you get on it soon…because no way you stay here rent-free forever…Of course, I do have a couple laptops and a good webcam. And there are plenty of people out there willing to watch the right cosplay for a price. Green hair, a cute fuku, and that figure…"

I eyed Fu and she chuckled in her little voice. I grimaced at first but then I smiled and put the ears on. "Plenty of people also wouldn't mind a cute girl with blue hair and the right cosplay."

Fu snorted. "…How do you think I pay for things around here? Douglas lays golden eggs when he's a girl duck? No way! But you know…they might pay more for two cute girls in matching outfits…"

I laughed and steadied my ears. Fu chuckled in her own little way and said, "Later. For now… let's go so I can teach you in how to be schooled by Marth's counter!"

I have been lucky for a while. And I still am.



So ends…The Art of Fu: A Legend Begins.

Next time…

Douglas sails over.

"No sequel! QUAAAAACK!"
This was a lot of fun to write. It kinda spiraled beyond the original kiriban request by :iconsolarismaid: though it still has all the elements they requested.

I really enjoyed it although I think I used all my best jokes in the first half...although it's okay. I wanted it to be funny but not every moment of it. I wanted to give the characters breathing room too ^^.

This is another story rife with references. ^^
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This episode is a sexy collab with awesome peeps- :iconkris-wilson: and :iconskinpupcoss: from zee Cyanide and Happiness crew.
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Rose Lalonde is not familiar with adults. Her mother only invites friends for "tea" on occasion, and they all might as well be the same woman. They form a blurred parade in her mind, a never ending procession of socialites toeing the line of middle-age. She sees their different outfits, different press-dried hairstyles, but always, always that same copy-pasted smile fresh from the school of passive aggressive knocks. Oh, what a charming dress, I remember having one like that as a little girl. Oh, you're still writing your little stories? Good for you, it's good to spread out of those dark little horror books you always read. Little, little, little- always the operative word.

Mr. Egbert is different. For one thing he is, as his name may suggest, a man. Her experience with older men is almost non-existent, and from her point of view they might as well be a different species from her entirely: silent, rugged beasts stalking jungles of business suits and automobiles. He does indeed own both, but he doesn't seem dominated by them. He doesn't seem dominated by any particular thing, except perhaps his extensive collection of harlequins.

That's what he's showing her right now, as she offers polite nods and John pulls faces by her side. Another person might have not believed that so many figurines, paintings, and statues could be composed based around one subject-but all she can think of is her mother and her silly wizards.  Well, alright, that's one similarity.

But he's something different entirely from her mother.

She picks it up when he compliments her dress—a modified version of her old black velvet ensemble, with a white bib collar. She casually mentions she's fixed it up herself, opening herself to about a dozen snarky comments her mother could have come up—and all he says is "you knit?" Before she knows it, she's talk animatedly about John's gift and her assorted modified outfits.

By the time dinner rolls around John sarcastically mentions how he should bring his dad for their next date so he can ask her how she's doing, and she blushes. Stupid. How long had she been rambling? Stupid, foolish…and yet, Mr. Egbert had been nothing but polite about her trusting openness. Polite, bringing up her hobbies in order to let her talk as much as she wanted, and not a snarky comment to be found.

In short, he had been kind.

(suspicious)

They sit at the table, the meal laid out in front of them sumptuous- but suspiciously sweet-free. She has an amusing mental image of John standing behind him in the kitchen like a stern teacher trying to catch an unruly pupil cheating. And that's when the questions roll out, all the tried and true inquiries she's run into dozens of times: what does she want to do when she's older (preferably something in psychology), how she's doing in school (almost depressingly well), and so on, and so on.  On the surface she gives polite answers, in her mind she dissects his words from every angle.

And nothing.

No ulterior motive, no silent adult in-jokes, no sarcasm. His questions sound hand-picked from a parenting magazine, but apart from their blandness they're well intentioned. He doesn't prod her one-syllable answers for more information, doesn't push—although, since John is more than eager to fill in her blanks, ("psh, older nothing. She's already giving the teachers advice!") perhaps it's unnecessary.

In short, he had been understanding.

(suspicious)

And when dinner is over and the three sit on the couch lazily listening to the news, John asks him if they can go to his room so he can show her the video game Dave sent him. Rose's ears perk at this, for she has a feeling that this isn't the only game he wants to play—after all, the younger Egbert had been paying more attention to her dress than his father had.  And without raising an eyebrow he nods, letting two teenagers just barely finding their hormones stay in a room. Alone. Far from his eyes or ears.

In short, he had been trustworthy.
(very

suspicious)

Rose Lalonde is not stupid. She knows what to do with unfamiliar data: analyze. And before the pair reaches the top of the stairwell, she reaches her conclusion:

it's a trap.

...

"Wait, what?" John turns away from the searing graphics on the computer screen to look at her. "He's doing what now?"

Rose sighs, smoothing her skirt primly. "It's very simple John. Although I would hate to imply that your guardian would have sinister motives, the facts are that it's impossible for someone of that age to be so shamelessly kind to a teenager. Your father is very obviously trying to get me to lower my defenses, in order to perform a symbolic dissection of sorts— he wants to see if this frog is suitable for the son he is so proud of."

John's mouth twitches—he seems conflicted between smiling and frowning. "Rose." And his voice comes out so solemn she almost laughs. "You are not a frog."

"…That is so far from the point it's helping Dave render JPEG artifacts in Houston. Speaking of which," Rose squints at the wild mishmash of colors on his screen. "What on Earth is this game, anyways?  The music could be used to kill a small dog."

"Oh, I dunno, some conksuck indie thing. Whatever it is, I'm probably losing." He frowns. "Aw crap, I think I caught on fire! Or maybe I'm being eaten by a bunch of red pygmies. " Resetting the game, he leaves his hand tapping thoughtfully on the desk. "But seriously Rose, I think you're overthinking things. Dad seems to really like you! And even if he does have sucky taste in decoration and is a mindless slave to the Crocker crone, he's not that bad a guy."

"While that may be true…"

"Yeah?"

She blows her pale bangs. "It just seems unnatural…I mean, I suppose I understand being polite, but…why nice? Why nice to me?"

John rolls his eyes. "Oh, I dunno Rose, maybe it's cause for all your doom and gloom you're a nice person? A GOOD person? Maybe it's cause you're smart and polite and interesting and those are usually GOOD things?"

He pauses, she blinks. For a moment the two hover in a somewhat shy silence, until he turns to her with a kind (if sheepish) grin. "Maybe you just deserve better than you think you do."

Rose's face may be impassive, but she can feel heat rising in her cheeks. "…flattery aside, John, I'm waiting for when the other shoe drops. I am missing something." John simply sighs and shakes his head, turning back to the computer.

Rose shifts in her rolling chair, bare feet swishing gently at the floor. Could he be right? Could it be possible that a parent could be so supportive and sincere? And if that was the case…well, where could she get one?

She sighs, laying her cheek in her palm. Maybe she did misread him. She hated to think she was losing her touch, but tonight both Egberts had surprised her. The elder had proven himself to being an upfront, non-passive aggressive (!), caring parent. And John…well, it turned out John really had wanted to show her a laughably awful game. Strangely enough, she was finding herself more disappointed in that than her failed psychoanalysis.

"Hey." The voice pulls her from her thoughts. "Besides him being…like, nice and everything, what is it that makes you so suspicious?"

"Too trusting," she says immediately.

"Huh?" He talks without taking his eyes from the screen. Somehow he's gotten the hang of the game. "How?"

She gives her eyes a slight roll. "Well, the fact that we're here right now is a good starting point. Mother wouldn't have…actually, no, she would have let us be in my room alone, but she also would be popping by every five minutes. Dropping off sarcastic little cookies, smiling that condescending little smile..." Oh dear, and now she has a case of the littles as well. "But then there's your father. I'm willing to wager that if you were to march downstairs and request I spend the night, he would give you nothing but a single, masculine tear and the old family heirloom."

"The Colonel Sassacre book?"

"A condom."

John's shoulders jolt, and his character dies nosily in an explosion of Technicolor gore. The game forgotten, he inclines his face very, very slightly towards her. "I…don't follow." He's blushing.

Rose leans back in her chair, eyes on the ceiling. "Well, John. Usually, one has his reasons for inviting a lady to his room, and typically those reasons, even those not involving contraception, are not to try and make each other's eyes bleed via 'conksuck' gamery."

Seconds pass in silence, and Rose begins to worry that's she's insulted him. But when she brings her gaze back to meet his, she is surprised to find a very shrewd expression on the boy's face.

The screen is black.

"Well, Rose." He slides his chair close to hers, the definition of suave. "Usually, one doesn't go being all passive-aggressive towards their awesome boyfriends. But," he leans close, voice going faux-baritone. "For you, I'm willing to overlook sUUDAUGH-."

THUD.

Apparently his swag has been too much, for John's face meets the floor, the movement simultaneously sending Rose's chair wheeling backwards. "John?!" She leaps up. "Are you alright?"

"Y-yeah." He picks up his head with a sheepish grin, and Rose leans down to help him to his feet. "I'm fine, I was just…kinda maybe trying to do something I saw in a movie once."

"…Ah. Color me shocked."

John pouts, but before he can respond she gives him a gentle kiss on the mouth. "I appreciate the gesture, if not the originality." Rose pulls back a bit, pressing her forehead to his and looking into his eyes. "Let's forgo the rising action for the moment, shall we?"

Too dazed to reply out loud, he simply nods with a goofy grin.

They drift to the bed. For a moment they can only look at each other with somewhat nervous smiles, only to break the silence with a simultaneous chuckle.  Surprisingly it's John who takes the initiative, leaning in with a quick kiss, as if he might lose the nerve at any moment. Rose's hands go up in surprise, only to find their place on his cheeks.

She loses herself in the haze of the kiss for a moment, closing her eyes as her mind goes blissfully blank. The contours of his mouths are slowly becoming familiar to her, lips, teeth…tongue, that's certainly new. Her fingers move to tousle messy black hair, making a pleased noise rumble from his throat. John leans in further, so far that they tumble backwards onto the bed.

He pulls back a moment to look down at her, almost as if in shock, almost as if just realizing 'oh yeah, you are my girlfriend and not some amazing dream.' Slowly he grins, almost sultry, and tilts his head to gaze at her over his glasses. "Wow," he says in his best Bruce Willis drawl. "I'd ask you for a light, but looks like you've already lit my fire."

She…stares at him, eyelids lowered.

"No no, wait," he flusters, "…okay, well you're definitely the Seer of Light because you've seared my..." Stare. "Wait, no, because you've lit..." Stare. "No, 'cause...cause...h-hey, quit laughing!" He sputters indignantly, seeing her shaking shoulders. A blush blooms in his cheeks as the chuckles bubble out of her lips. "This is my best material here!"

"My word." Rose manages to put a staunch on her laughter with a near-perfect smirk. "To what do I owe such an honor?" She claps a hand to her mouth in faux-awe. "How many hearts have your words broken? How many starving children run to the streets to offer their starving backs as your soapbox? Why, John, I am….truly, truly touched."

"Oh, HA, Rose. All of my HAs." He rolls his eyes with comic exaggeration. She smiles, suddenly sitting up so that their eyes are level. With a pointer finger she closes his jaw mid-retort.

"I'm already your girlfriend, John. I would say that pickup lines are fairly redundant at this point."

"They're not pickup lines, they're just…!" John's eyes dip. "Just…lines. I dunno, it just feels like I should say something. I just want …oh jeez, this is so corny and you will make fun of me for the rest of our lives." The blush in his cheeks darkens, even touching his ears. "I want to make you as happy as you make me."

Her mouth opens but no words come. For a moment she can do nothing but blink. "I…" Oh lord, and now she's blushing. "Well…I would assure you that you're doing a fairly spectacular job, but I have severe doubts that I could make you as happy as you do for me. As you just did."

"A-ha!" He beams with triumph. "So it did work!"

Rose sighs, giving her head a little shake. "So it did. You win this round, Egbert." Despite herself she smiles. "Claim your reward."

And he does, leaning in so they sit against the headboard. As they kiss one of her hands meets his to lace their fingers together—because the sappiness levels of this night weren't high enough, oh no.  She sighs in her head, half in exasperation, half in happiness. He really was corrupting her.

Minutes pass in content silence. After a time John takes his hand from hers, moving it to place it on her upper arm. The fingers twitch a little there, feeling the soft black material of her sleeve, and slowly his hand scoots to her shoulder, just barely touching. Then lower…lower…

Her eyes snap open in surprise, and he suddenly pulls back, shamefaced. "S-sorry! Is that not-? Oh geez, I'm sorry, that was total-!"

His voice trails away when she guides his hand back to the curve of her chest. A moment of startled blinking later he gets it, and his face lights up. He moves back in eagerly.

Things become slow and warm. His kisses turn slow, almost dreamy, his hand giving gentle rubs. Rose shivers, bringing her own hand back to tangle his black hair. She opens her eyes slowly, wanting to take a moment to gaze intOH MY GOD MR. EGBERT.

For what feels like an eternity he simply stands there, his head just emerging from behind the door. Rose freezes like a rabbit in the eyes of a wolf, her mouth going stiff against John's. And the boy goes on obliviously, kissing and feeling her right under the gaze of his dad. At another time, another place, Rose would have been practically bouncing in her seat at the opportunity to analyze the situation: the unwilling heir, disdainful of the loving father, taking his lady right under the enemy's eyes, a beautifully, nearly Oedipal puzzle…

And yet, somehow, she cannot summon the excitement.

Seconds stretch into hours. Rose's eyes feel as wide as dinner plates, her mouth attempting to form thoughts without a lick of success. Mr. Egbert simply stares. And stares. His face is totally impassive—he might as well not have eyes or a mouth for how much emotion Rose can pick up from him. And finally…time seems to fall back into place, and he steps back. The door clicks shut without a sound.

"…Rose?" John pulls back from her with a frown of concern. "A-are you alright?"

"…" She blinks, as if coming out of a trance. "I…sorry?"

"You stopped all of a sudden…and you look really pale!" He bites his lip anxiously. "Are you feeling okay?"

"No…I mean, no, I feel fine." If "fine" meant "seized up in mortification, eyes still stuck in a saucer-sized stare." She shakes her head. "I'm just…"

"Did I…like, come on too strong or something?" he stutters, bowing his head in a flustered way. "I'm sorry! I just thought you were liking it, a-and, if you didn't I'm really-!"

Oh god, why did he have to be so sincere?  "No, no, please don't apologize, it's not your fault, I…"

"What?"

"…may I lie down for a moment?"


...

The moment apparently lasted longer than she had intended, for by the time Rose awakens the sun has disappeared. Thoughts untangling themselves from the snarls of sleep, she blinks groggily at the darkness. Gradually she comes to an understanding of the situation:  this is not her room. She is still at John's house, specifically, in his room, specifically, in his bed—specifically, in his arms. He holds her close under the sheets, his cheek against hers, chest falling down and up in gentle breathes. Realization washes over Rose slowly, synching up well with the deepening color of her face, and she quickly sits up-

-or makes an attempt to, for as she tries to pull away from John he shifts in his sleep, tightening his hold on her.  For a moment she just lies there as he clings to her, nuzzling her temple.

She sighs. "John."

"mmnghf…"

Rose turns her head to him and taps his forehead with her own. "John…"

With a slight snort he stirs, blinking dully behind his glasses. "Uh…oh…"  It takes him a moment to register the girl in front of him. "…oh." After a moment of surprised (if pleased) silence, he gives a slightly drowsy grin. "Eheh…good morning, I guess."

She ducks her head a bit, concealing most of her face under the sheets. "...evening, you mean. I…I'm assuming I fell asleep?"
"

Yeah, you kinda did." He chuckles as he straightens his glasses. "I actually wanted to watch you and I sorta...joined you "

And she's suddenly thankful for the cover of darkness. "Ugh." She buries her face under the blanket. "You are so—tell me, why are you so insistent in converting me into such a saccharine dope? You're sweet enough for the both of us."

He laughs. "Aw! Well, believe it or not, you're sweeter than you thi…"

Rose frowns, peeking out to find John frozen with a look of vague horror.
"

Sweet…"

"J…John? Is everything alright?"

"The smell." His eyes bulge with horror. "Oh no. OH NO. Oh god, I told him, I TOLD him not to-!" In the space of a second he's untangled himself from the sheets and is on the floor, running out the door. "Daaaah, dammit Dad-!"

She's left utterly perplexed on the bed. Rose straightens up, and after a moment she can hear the sounds of an argument downstairs. Curiously, she picks herself off the bed and walks to the door… to be immediately hit by a powerful, sweet scent.

The scent of baked goods.

...

In the kitchen she finds John gesticulating furiously at his father, his words mangled by utter disbelief. But even with his sputtered angrish, its clear what the source of his annoyance is—the enormous, decadently-frosted cake that stands tall and magnificent on the kitchen table. Mr. Egbert's face is oddly complacent, as if he's used to John's impudence about baked goods. He simply goes about the kitchen, cleaning up various utensils and ingredients all while John goes on with his rant of oh my god you said you weren't and I can't believe you did this when she was still in the house she is going to see this and she will think we're a family of weirdass baking friars or something and AGAIN with the cake what IS it with you and CAKE MAN it's like-

"Excuse me."

The two look up at her. Rose shifts her weight from one foot to the other. "Is…is that red velvet?"

Mr. Egbert smiles.

...

"You know, aside from the color, this is quite good."

"Mmph."

"Did you know red velvet isn't actually a flavor? It's actually just chocolate cake with copious amounts of food dye."

"Suuuper."

Rose smiles, nibbling the bite of cake as she looks over at the table. She's impressed—all this time she had been fearing that John's father was…well, not foolish, but someone too simple or sincere to conspire against their child. Thankfully, her initial theories had been proven correct--for all his kindness, Mr. Egbert was still an adult.

And she has to admit, she's impressed. Even her mother, with all her little antics and displays, had never been able to come up with something like this. And as Rose's eyes skim the frosted message across the cake's top-

(SON—CONGRATULATIONS ON THE COPPING OF YOUR FIRST FEEL

I AM SO PROUD OF YOU)

-she can't help but give a shiver of awe. She truly is dealing with a pro.

"either Rose or Dave are going out with John, and meet Mr Egbert for the first time

and Mr Egbert is so straightforward and NICE to them it completely freaks them the fuck out. Adults aren't supposed to be so supportive and nice and easy to read damnit what is going on"

spoiler: I wrote 3700 words just to make that cake possible
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“Dreyden… We need to talk.”

That was what she said. That was where it all ended. Or where it all began, depending on which way you looked at it.

“This just… isn’t working. I mean-… Listen-… I love you. I’m never going to say that I don’t, but-…”

It was already over, and he knew it.

It wasn’t the first time he’d dealt with a breakup, but it was the first time that it hurt.

Dreyden Blazer hadn’t had a single thing ever turn out right in his life. Twenty-five years of absolute failure, constant disappointment, and an impressive amount of rotten luck.

That was just life, as far as he was concerned.

Ever since he was born, Dreyden believed, it had always been his destiny to be nothing more than a screw-up. Because that’s what he was: a mistake.

His brother was the one they wanted. Brian was the good child. Brian was the successful one. He was thirty-two now; handsome, muscular- and everything, absolutely everything seemed to work out for him somehow. He was the one who would take over the family business (Dreyden wasn’t even sure what his father did- something about sales management? Stock market? Briefcases. Expensive suits and important business meetings. That was all he knew.), he was married to a beautiful woman, he had a beautiful daughter, and a son on the way. He lived in a big expensive house, and drove a big expensive car. He was tall, and well-built. He had nice teeth and nice hair and wore fancy suits that cost more money than some people saw in a year.

Brian got good grades all through school, graduated with honors, and was the beloved captain of the football team in the private high school he had attended. And now Brian’s daughter was the best reader in her class and impressed the grandparents with how brilliant she was. “Such a precious child!” Brian’s father and mother exclaimed. “She’s gorgeous! She’s so creative! She’s a prodigy! She’ll be President one day!”

Dreyden, on the other hand, was the accident. Mom and dad weren’t careful enough one night and there he was, nine months later.

Now, they never told him they didn’t want him. They’d tell their friends he was a “surprise!” and then rapidly change the subject if ever it was brought up.

But Dreyden knew in the way they treated him and the way they looked at him compared to how they looked at Brian- he was as much a “surprise” as coming home to find that your house burned down when you went on vacation, and that was the truth.

Dreyden was tall, too, and maybe not as athletic or well built as his brother, but was used to physical labor (considering most of the jobs he’d had consisted of doing yard work and chopping firewood for the neighbors) and couldn’t be called a weakling, even so. But he wasn’t handsome like Brian.

Dreyden’s skin was greyer; his hair a jumbled black mess sticking out of a grey thrift store beanie, his tired eyes a dull grey, with no life to them at all. He wore the same old stitched-up worn out grey jacket, jagged striped brown and green shirt, and scruffy old cargo pants every single day (though he claimed he washed them- at least sometimes.) His nose was big and unflattering, his eyes seemed to have permanent exhausted bags under them, and he forever smelled of smoke.

He’d started smoking just about when he’d dropped out of high school and filled his ears full of metal piercings. He lived with his parents and couldn’t hold a job for longer than a week, somehow.

He never smiled. He never did anything. The only thing he seemed to enjoy was music. He’d spend hours lost in the wave of sound from his stereo, content just to lie around in the mess of his room and listen.

He went through girlfriend after girlfriend and none of them stayed long. He didn’t seem to mind. They’d leave, and he’d just shrug and move on to find the next one. That was all it was. So long as he had somebody to share his bed with now and then when his parents weren’t home, that was good enough for him.

But Chloe was different.

Chloe Bailey’s arms were all covered in dragon tattoos, and she, too, had piercings all over her face. She’d cut her lovely blonde hair short and dyed it all black as night, and nearly given her mother a heart attack.

But she was sweet and pretty, and she was the first one who believed that Dreyden Blazer was more than just a mistake.

She had tried to believe that, anyway.

She knew there was more to him than that- but no matter how she tried to convince him to try again to get a job, and try again to find an apartment to move to, and try again to do something, anything with his life that wasn’t just listening to music all day long- he never did.

“Dreyden… I tried… to make this work. I wanted this to work. But if you’re-… if you’re never going to try, if you’re never going to get serious… I’m leaving. I don’t ever want us to hate each other, that’s not what I mean at all, I just-…”

She smoothed out her hair, and her silver hoop earrings jangled around as she shook her head.

“I’m done.”

“…A’right…” Dreyden said softly.

“Is that it? Just “alright,” that’s all you’re going to say?”

“What d’ya want me to say?” He looked up, sighing. “I ain’t good enough for ya, I get it.”

“What? That’s not what I-“

“No, I know that’s not what you meant. But it’s true.” Dreyden stood up. “I’m not. And I’m never gonna be, and that’s all there is to it.” He let out a long sigh. “I’m not sayin’ that to be bitter at ya, I’m sayin’ it ‘cause it’s a fact. And I know that.”

He turned to leave.

“I hope y’find a way to be happy, Chlo. S’all I care about.”

-x-

“Son, we need to talk.”

There it was again. Dreyden’s least favorite phrase in the world, back once again to bring more bad news.

He couldn’t look his father in the eyes, somehow.

“You can’t stay here anymore.”

Dreyden still refused to look at him.

“You need to go out and start your own life. We’re not going to hold your hand anymore, you’re an adult, not a child, and it’s time you started living like one. Get out of my house, I don’t care where you go, I don’t care what you do- just find something to do with yourself, Dreyden!”

And that was it.

That was the last time he would see his parents for years to come.

Dreyden didn’t know where he was going. He just knew he had to get as far away from that house as possible, as fast as possible. He got on the first bus out of town and stayed there until the very last stop.

He watched the scenery fly past out the windows. Cities changed to long open stretches of blank highway, and blank highway changed to trees. He found himself venturing on a crowded bus through a forest so dense the trees blocked out the sky. Eventually the wood began to thin out, until the bus stopped one last time, at a little town called Brookton.

He wasn’t sure where he was, exactly, and he’d never heard of the place, but it was away from his parents, and that was all that mattered.

With the little money his father had left him to get started, he got into the cheapest motel he could find for the night, and started to try to form some kind of a plan to survive.
AAAAAH
AAAAAHAHAAHAHAAAAA
IT HAS A BEGINNING
LOOK
A BEGINNING I WROTE A BEGINNING AWW MAAANN
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WARNING!!! DO NOT READ IF YOU HAVE NOT WATCHED CLOVERFIELD AND/OR HAVE NOT BEEN PAYING ATTENTION TO THE REVIEWS/THEORIES/VIRAL TIE-INS.  THOUGH THIS SHORT STORY MAY END UP HAVING NO RELEVANCE TO THE PLOT OF THE MYTH OF THE CREATURE, THERE ARE STILL SPOILING ELEMENTS TO THE FILM AND FAKE NEWSCASTING ON THE WEB.  WATCHING THE FILM FIRST IS STRONGLY ADVISED!

And now for those who have passed by the warning or don't give a damn, please enjoy the following interputation of the monster of the movie, based on recent reports of what the design and concept of the creature was "to be" or "were" based on.

Mommy?

What has happened to the world?
Where did these fleshy ants come from?
Why have the oceans gotten so small?
Where is my mommy?

I was sleeping for so long
The days have turned to years
I thought I was safe here
Knowing my mother was with me

Then something crashed from the sky
And the ants began to make so much noise
I finally awoke to a fright
My mother was nowhere to be found

These ants were hovering around me
Freeing me from my bed of rocks and reefs
But they began to prod and poke me
And I didn’t like that feeling

I wanted them to stop
To leave me alone
So I went to the surface
Roared to scare them off

Their little village made such a racket
And began to fire fireflies, stinging my skin
I had to make them stop
So I dragged their village to the sea

I am so scared, this world isn't real
Where is my mommy, why can’t she protect me?

I’ve searched the oceans
Found no trace
Perhaps I may have better luck
Searching the dry world

This long object was in my way
And the ants looked similar to the ones at the village
Their faces rekindled the rage
And I knocked their boat over

Something large stood on this smaller island
Mother, was that you?
But it was green creature with a steel flame and dress
Angry, I swiped her head, her face so ugly and crying

I stood on dryer land
The bigger stretch of this island
It was huge and polluted
And the ants flickered massively here

I just want to fine mommy
These ants better stay out of the way
But their screaming startles me so
I had to quiet them now

I stepped into some hot and smoky
A giant fire roared in front of me
It burned the little ants around the flame
And destroyed the monoliths they had created as well

The flame was hot and scary
I forgot all about the head I carried
It flew from my hand across the monolithic island
As I fanned away the fire

I continued my search for mommy
Only to meet ants with hostility
These ants were covered in brown and green
And they brought with them their fireflies

Big ones and small ones zoomed at me
Stinging my skin like the ones before
I wanted them to stop, it pained me so much
I had to crush the ants and the mobile fire flingers

My stomach itched badly, but not from the fireflies
Little travelers from the deep hitched a ride with me
They poked at my skin and was draining my blood
A quick rub against a monolith eased the itch

I was rid of many of these bugs
Relieved that the painful itch was gone
They found a immediate taste for the ants below
Scampering for their meal and keeping the ants busy

I searched almost all the island, but mommy is not here
I want my mommy so much; I’m scared in this ant infested world

Morning seems to come
And with it come more pest
Black birds from the sky drop their eggs
And they explode in fire on top of me

The eggs hurt so much
But they cannot pierce my skin
But they don’t seem to care
And continue their bombardment

More eggs drop, massive loads this time
I’m pinned to the earth, the pain too much to take
But I can still move, and their hostility is now too much
I leap from the smoke, dragging a nearby bird in revenge

I come across open land, finding I am hungry
But mommy isn’t hear to feed me
I find an ant frozen beneath me, holding something small in its hand
Out of frustration and hungry; maybe this ant was tasty

More fiery eggs come again, but now there are more
And this time it surrounds the entire island
In a flash the fire and force knocks me off guard
And for a moment I give up, the pain too much

I want my mommy, where is she?
I so scared, this new world frightens me
Please mommy, protect me
I’m so scared, can’t you hear my cry?

The flames are hot, the island is sinking
Rubble and water surrounds me
They’ve finally stopped, the eggs no longer dropping
When it’s safe I’ll leave hear and try the oceans again

I will never stop searching till I find you mommy
No matter how much the ants hurt me
Their fireflies and exploding eggs can’t destroy us
And my roars will continue to sound

…until we are reunited, mommy.
So...yeah, weird huh?
This was the result of watching Cloverfield three times in a week already and the fact that I was bored and artistically drained but waiting to post something. As stated above I actually read somewhere about what the creature's design and motive or nature was going to be, stating that the designer wanted the creature to be immature or infant like to begin with. It was described that the creature would be more like a baby elephant scared and frightened and roaming for the protectiveness of its family...i think. I DID READ THIS SOMEWHERE. However, if I hear from somewhere else that this idea ends up being moot, then...well, i dunno.

I was basically trying to write up a summary of the film based upon the thoughts of the monster. And since I HEARD the creature is really an infant scared and frightened, I thought the narrative would sound more childish.

Either way, I hope you guys got a kick out of it. Please no bashing if you found this absurd (again, I HEARD about this online...I WILL FIND SOURCES IF NEED BE!!!).
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John Egbert, age 8, February 4th.


He hadn't thought much of him when he first saw him. In fact, he wasn't even aware that it was a person. John just thought it was a bird. But he definitely noticed it was very much a person.  The blond landed right in front of him. John stared in awe. The ninja kid only gave him a  short look through his shades before continuing on his way to the same elementary school John was headed for.


He smiled to himself and began walking towards school once more.  What a cool new kid.


Dave Strider, age 9, March 12th.


God, he only saw him at lunch and recess, but that 3rd grader with buck teeth was so damn adorable. (He wouldn't admit that using cuss words made him feel so much older and mature; he'd say that that is just a thing he did, as a coolkid.) And no, it wasn't Jade. He didn't know his name, But he wanted to. He wanted to protect him from those annoying kids that bullied him all the time, wanted to play house with him (ironically, of course), wanted to hug him when he scraped his knees like he did so often.


Yes, Dave had a fucking crush, and yes, he was aware of it. It was totally fine because it was... ironic, yeah.


John Egbert, age 8, April 2nd.


"John! John!"


John laughed as he heard Jade's voice the second he walked out of Ms. Miryam's classroom. His pseudo-twin practically pounced him, nearly making him lose his footing. He laughed more and hugged her back. "John, I have a new friend who said he wanted to meet you!"


"I didn't say shit, Harley." His words were condescending, but his tone of voice had a sprinkle of friendly banter. John instantly recognized him as the kid from that morning a couple months back; he had the same pointy shades, the same red shirt with a record on it, the same jeans, the same coolkid face.


He wanted to meet him? That's funny (not in the funny-haha way, John, you prankster you). Jade giggled, and stood beside the two. "John, this is Dave Strider!" she said, clasping her hands together. This Dave boy seemed pretty nonchalant and chill. However, had John been paying attention, he would've noticed the nervous pinkness to his cheeks; the way he gripped his upper arms, as they were folded across his chest; how he kept shifting from one foot to the other in an unnoticable dance of anxiousness.


"Sup," is all he said.


"Hi Dave, s'nice to meet you," John said, grinning at him.


"Dave's a fourth grader!" Jade cried in excitement, "He can save us from those dumb jerks who always tease us and bully us!" She stuck out her tongue in disgust and stomped her foot on the ground. Dave couldn't hold back a small chuckle, "I could even if I was in first grade."


"No way!" John laughed. Dave quirked a brow over his shades, and as he spoke, he stared at John -- or in his general direction, at least, who could tell behind those shades? -- almost as if he were searching for some kind of approval, "I could. I knew how to fight when I was  a baby. A fucking badass ninja baby." His face turned a tint darker when John stared at him, thoroughly impressed, and said, "That's so cool..."


"Of course," Dave replied, regaining his composure fast, "I'm the coolest in the school."


"You've only been here for three months! How can you already be that cool?" Jade asked, giggling for the umpteenth time. A smirk grew on Dave's face, fed by the derpy kids' awe. He rolled his shoulders and sighed, in a rather smug way. More comfortable with this situation -- impressing two third graders, one of which was his crush -- he explained, "I just am, man."


John rocked back and forth on his feet, hands in his overalls pockets. Dave... This kid was pretty intimidating (in a totally cool way), and gosh, John sure was glad he was friends with him! Or... or was he? He laughed a little nervously, and asked, "So, are we friends--?"


"Yes," Dave answered all too quickly. John was mildly surprised. But he grinned and went in to hug the older boy, shouting, "Awesome!" Dave stiffened in shock, and was quiet for a moment before awkwardly pushing him off. "Dude, that is so gay." John had no idea what gay meant. But before he could ask, a scream was heard just next to him. Both boys heads snapped to the side to see Eridan, one of the bullies, pulling and tugging on Jade's hair, calling her dumb, and stupid, and an idiot, and other rather rude things.


John shrunk back a little, unsure of what to do to help and unable to help his best friend, but Dave. Dave stepped forward, almost casually, and said, "Hey, let her go."


"Make me!" Eridan yelled at him. Needless to say, Eridan went home with a little more than just a few booboos.


Dave Strider, age 9, April 13th.


"It's your birthday," Dave asked what it was from Jade over a month ago, "so I'm going to give you the gift of being my wife today." John stared at him for a moment, but burst into a fit of giggles, "How is that a present?" Being Dave's wife sounded so silly! Wives aren't boys, what was he thinking?


"It's better than being the baby, like you usually are." John pondered this for a moment. "I gueeess," he murmured.


The three of them have been playing house together since Dave met John. Jade had always been the wife-slash-mom, Dave the husband-slash-dad, and John the baby. John was always indignant about it, but Dave never let him make a complaint. Yet, as nice as Jade's little kisses on his cheek were, he bet that John's would be better. And maybe, just maybe if he was lucky, he could get a little peck on the lips too.


Jade whined, and pouted, arms crossed and cheeks pink, "Daaave! You can't have two wives!" Dave smirked and patted her on the head,  ruffling her already messy hair, "I know daughter. I know."


"Darnit! Whatever, you two can play house by yourselves! I'm going to go play with Rose!" And with that, she stomped off. John stared after her, beginning to feel a little guilty. "Maybe we should just let her be the wife? I mean, she usually is anyways... I'd probably be a really crappy wife anyways!"


"Nah, man, it's fine. She'll calm down by tomorrow. Now, wife, make me a sandwich."


(He would be later disappointed he had gotten no kissses at all.)


John Egbert, age 9, December 3rd.


It had been about a week since Jade had told John about Dave's crush on him. It had been rather sudden--in fact, she just blurted it out to him while on the bus home from school. Surprisingly, he felt rather glad about this; it took him a whole five minutes to realize that possibly, John had a little crush on him too, maybe. Jade seemed so excited about this fact, and she urged him to tell the Strider boy on his birthday.


And so here he was now.


Dave didn't want much. He didn't really want to go anywhere, he didn't want cake, he didn't want presents. He just wanted to "chill with his best bros".  They had decided on John's house, where they had secretly made a cake. The coolkid acted anoyed by the gesture, but both could tell he really enjoyed the effort. The cake was thoroughly enjoyed by all the children, and John's father pulled out the Gamecube for the three of them to enjoy.


After the cake was gone and the games finished, they all plodded up to John's room, and fell on his bed, completely tired and full. John groaned a little when he felt Jade poke him in the side. "Whaaat, Jade?"


"Do it!" she whispered to him, reminding John of the little "gift" he was giving him. John perked a little. Oh yeah. Dave seemed to almost be asleep, leaned up against the wall, but when John touched his arm, he jolted and jerked his head towards John so fast his shades almost fell off. He blushed, and asked, "What?"


"Uhhhhm... well, Dave, I just wanted to uhm..." John giggled and looked away nervously. He figured if he just... did it, instead of saying it, it'd be easier on him. So, puckering his lips, he leaned forward and gave Dave a kiss. On the mouth, oh gosh! John broke away about a second later, and stared at Dave, terribly flushed. Darnit, with those shades on, how was he supposed to see his reaction! The blond lifted a hand to his mouth, then seemed to stare at John directly, face just as red as the shirts he always wore.


"Wh-what..." Dave nearly hit himself for stuttering like that, how uncool, "Why did you..." Oh shit, the remnants of Dave's adolescent pokerface fell to the bed, and his mouth hung open just slightly. "Uhm... because..." John fidgeted, and his eyes darted from Dave, to Jade, who kept making urging gestures. "Because I like you? Kinda?"


"Like me... like like me?" he sounded almost hopeful.


"Yeah!" John said smiling at him, starting gain confidence from Dave's inapparent disdain, and very apprent joy. Dave let his hand drop to his lap, and said, as smoothly as he could, "I like like you too, Egbert..." he paused, and amended, "John."


John laughed, "This is the first time you've ever said my name!" Dave shrugged and yanked the buck toothed kid into a hug. "This is the first time I've ever been this happy."


"Are you two getting married? I wanna be the pastor!" Jade said, flailing around and giggling. "Yeah, sure Jade. You can be the pastor."
Yeah.






John, Dave, Jade, Bro, Dad, Eridan (c) Andrew Hussie.
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THE HOTEL WAWANAKWA: Part Five

Approximately two hours must have passed since ensemble of Total Drama had been first thrown into this nightmarish game. In that time no one had yet to find the hidden prize money, three contestants had been eliminated, and at least three interns were hunting their prey. The ground floor had become rather quiet in that time, Trent's team choosing to move up a floor after crossing paths with Noah and Eva twice. Team E-Scope was looking a little thin, missing two party members, but Noah had decided it was better that way. Brains and muscle, he and Eva were enough of a team to turn the whole hotel on its head.
Eva somehow must have heard the inner dialogue as she upturned a large vase, emptied it of debris, than let it smash to pieces on the tile below. Noah internally frowned, he didn't mean for her to literally turn the place upside-down.
"Eva," he gestured with his hands, "Calm down."
"I am calm!" she snapped back, stomping back towards the lobby.
"Right," Noah rolled his eyes, calmly trailing after her.
"This is pointless and dumb!"
"Generally," Noah nodded, watching Eva plop heavily down on the cover sofa. Her weight pulled down the sheet enough to reveal the elegantly curve sofa upholstered is warm grey sateen. In its heyday, this hotel must have been a gorgeous establishment. Art Deco design accented the walls in welcoming tones of orange, cream and gold. Many of the pieces that still remained must hold great value, but were instead left to waste and rot.
"We've only covered two floors and everyone else is way ahead of us!" Eva burst, sinking further into the seat. Sighing, Noah sat too, leaving the middle cushion free between them. Folding his hands together he willfully gathered his thoughts, staring forward when he spoke, "Even if they cover more ground, that doesn't mean they'll find it first. We have to think like Chris, be sneaky and devious and underhanded…"
"And a jackass?" Eva smirked ever so slightly before her mouth fell back into a frown.
"Yes, a jackass. Now if I were a jackass," Noah smirked coyly, "Where would I hide a million dollar case?"
Eva's broad shoulders shrugged half heartedly but she still offered suggestions, "The basement… in the pool… in the Jacuzzi of the most obnoxiously large suite in the hotel… in a stove… at the checkout with the other luggage…"
"Wait," Noah's eyes locked on the female athlete, gripping her shoulders in anticipation. Her amber eyes stared back, somewhere between annoyed, angry and surprised. In unison both teens got up from their seat and nearly fell over one another to scramble to the reception desk.
Right there, in plain site was a worn carpet bag and a suitcase leaning against the side of the desk. Eagerly the two ripped open a bag each only to find some spare change in the carpet bag. Noah opened his mouth to say something but instead a much higher and familiar voice interrupted, "That's so sad."
"Izzy?" Eva and Noah questioned as they leaned over the reception desk to spy their missing team mates. Owen was curled up in a little ball covering his head with his hands, still hiding from something. Izzy however was sitting cross-legged, animatedly holding a conversation with herself. The arrival of her missing teammates didn't go unnoticed as she tilted her head back to smile widely at the pair, "Oh, there you guys are."
"There we are?" Noah scoffed while Eva glared, "You're the two scaredy cats that took off on us. By the way, there was no body in the basement, it was just a trick."
"Oh I know," she responded plainly as she twisted her position to face them more comfortably. Eva looked ready to smack her, "Then why'd you run away?"
"I was caught up in the moment, I guess," she shrugged, rotating herself around on her rear again and speak to the air in front of her, "So, where were we?"
Gritting her teeth and pulling back, Eva nearly lunged over the desk to pummel the loopy red-head before Noah latched onto her arm. The scrawny teen practically had to dangle from her curled bicep just to have an ounce of strength against her, "She's not worth it!"
"But I want to hit something," Eva protested while Izzy laughed out loud to her invisible conversation partner. Noah desperately pulled down on her arm once more as her nostrils flared in anger.
"Don't be silly. He can't hurt you if you're already dead." Izzy chuckled to herself before straightening her expression, "Or is that offensive to you. I should say living impaired."
Rounding the desk with his face buried in his palm, Noah groaned loudly, "What the hell are you doing Izzy?"
"Talking obviously."
"To whom? There's no one there," he emphasized by waving his hand over where she was supposedly "talking" to someone. Her expression grew hurt and serious as she stood eye level with the bookworm. Izzy snatched his wrist and forced it back to his side before defending, "You're being rude. How'd you like it if someone waved their hand in your face?"
"There's no one there, just your crazy imaginary friend!"
"She's not imaginary… she's a ghost… I mean living impaired," Izzy explained as if it were obvious. Noah face palmed again, on the verge of a breakdown himself. Although Izzy saying that she was talking to a ghost did make some semblance of sense, as Owen was cowering on the floor. The red-head herself was predisposed to add fuel to the flame when it came to Chris' outlandish ideas, increasing her own entertainment as well. Owen, the big loveable lug, was a bit naïve and tended to believe anything the energetic Izzy feed him.
Resigning them as a lost cause, Noah lay down his last two cents on Izzy's imaginary ghost friend, "There are no such things as ghosts. Let's go Eva, leave these two knuckleheads here and…"
Glancing at the now empty floor space where he was sure Eva once stood, Noah nearly fell over when he'd saw she was a good 20 feet away. Backpedaling towards the exit, she never took her eyes off her teammates as she put distance between them. Her stance was rigid; she was definitely struggling between fight or flight. There was a good chance that with some added adrenaline, she could probably knock down the large oak front doors of the hotel.
"Not you too," moaned the slender bookworm.
"That's not good," Izzy commented to her invisible ghost friend.
"What's not good?" Noah reluctantly humored.
"It's him. He's angry. He's about to do something."
"Okay? Who? What? Where?"

It was decided out of fairness that since Katie found the paintball gun, that she had the right to carry it. If it was a condition of skill, Beth was probably the most qualified, but for their team, it was all a matter of fairness. Besides the tall girl seemed to have a sense of pride and duty as she wielded the brightly colored toy weapon. As they approached each new guest room, Tyler would open the door and Katie would swing in from around the frame, locked and loaded. Confidence shown throughout the whole team, believing they were doing well and had the upper hand in the game.  
Katie stood proudly at the door frame of one of the last three rooms yet to be checked on the third floor. She diligently scanned the hallway for any sign of rivals or ghosts… though she didn't really know what to do if she saw a ghost. Inside Tyler was attempting to upturn a mattress from the bed, Beth offered to help him seeing as he was struggling. Lindsay casually opened another empty dresser drawer, pursing her lips in disappointment. The next drawer below troubles her even more as she pulls the knob clean off of the face.
"Oh," she whined, stumbling back in her high heel boots. Studying her hand, she sees that she's broken a nail trying to pry open the stubborn drawer. Examining the crack, she calls out to her boyfriend Tyler to come help her.
"Tyler's taking a break," Beth informed, furrowing her brow as she searched the upturned mattress. Lindsay pouts deeply as she turns back towards the offending furniture.
"Let me help you Lindsay," Sadie brightly offered, producing a nail clipper for the blond and turning to attempt to pry the drawer open with her own fingers. Dutifully the blonde turned to repairing her broken nail, perching on top of the dresser and complaining, "This is hard work."
Outside of the room, Katie absently began to twirl her fingers through her left pigtail. She was vaguely easing dropping on her team before she remembered that she needed to pay attention to the things outside of the room. Focusing ahead she squared her shoulders and saluted to no one in particular. It only took a few moments for her posture to slouch over again and her fingers find her hair to twist and turn.
"Slut," Katie gasped and perked up as the words whispered into her ears. Her eyes searched the corridor than she turned back to see if anyone was behind her. Everything seemed in place and the bubbly sweet girl just shook it off as her imagination.
"Slut," the disembodied voice spoke again, more clearly than before followed by a feeling of someone brushing the back of her neck. Katie jerked, hobbling out into the hallway to whirl around and face her tormentor. Her perky pink lips began to shout out, but she hesitated when she saw nothing but the door frame.
Her tanned fingers curled protectively around the shotgun she'd procured, eyes searching up, down, left and right for the person who was speaking to her. Her heart thumped erratically, trapped within her chest. The hall seemed to be growing dimmer by the second, the air much colder and Katie was feeling all too claustrophobic.
"Slut," the masculine whisper called her again, and she felt ice cold fingers run across her spin. Turning again the girl found herself face to face with Tyler, her fear quickly morphing into anger, "Excuse me?"
"You heard me," he growled, lowly with an emotionless stare. He took a step forwards, causing Katie to respond by stepping back, "Do you think I'm blind. I see the way you whore yourself around, the way you look at other men."
"I…" her words faltered, seeing the look it his eyes, the venom dripping from his tongue. This was so unlike Tyler, while enthusiastic and full of bravado, he was considered by most to be relatively harmless. "You can't… talk to me like that."
Suddenly a loud crack echoed through the corridor as Tyler's hand lashed out to backhand the slender girl's cheek. The commotion drew out remaining girls from the room just in time to witness the strike.
"Katie!"
"Tyler!"
"What's going on?"
Katie quickly reached up to touch her sore cheek, tears already spilling from her eyes. The trio of girls immediately at her side as she looked up at Tyler, who didn't even seem to mind the other's presence.
"I thought we could have something. But no, a fast piece of work like you," Tyler abruptly wrenched one of Katie's pigtails. Violently she was pulled forwards, the bright pink pom-pom in her hair ripping free as she yelped in pain. Inertia sent her slamming into the opposite wall, with Tyler quick to turn on her. Time seemed to slow down as he stepped, Lindsay gently holding his arm, but him brushing her off like she was nothing. Beth seemed to be running towards her, while Sadie wrung her hands together in anticipation. His hand was outstretched, aiming right for her neck as he intending to choke the life from her lungs.
In that moment of frozen time, with the once gentle Tyler looming menacingly overhead, Katie had a moment of clarity. She turned her paintball gun towards him and fired, paint striking his outstretched arm in splash of green. The red suited jock reeled back, and she fired again, hitting him in the shoulder. A third shot fired hitting him right in the groin and with a painful moan, Tyler tumbled over. Her opponent floored, Katie choked out a strangled cry as she turned the gun over and used the butt end as a bat. With a mighty swing she cracked it over his head, certainly knocking him out from the blow. Just before she reeled back for another strike, Beth and Sadie threw their arms around her, wrestling the gun free and begging her to stop.
"Katie! Katie!" Sadie sobbed, hugging her friend as tightly as she could. They were sobbing and trembling while Beth examined the carnage of the hall. Lindsay gingerly felt the lump forming on the side of Tyler's head, softly cooing over him. It wasn't the first traumatic blow to the head the teen had endured, probably not the last, but he would live through it.
"I," Katie began through trembling lips. The girls gave her rapt attention as she tried to speak, staring vacantly towards at the room they'd last examined, "I don't like this game anymore."
The girls followed her line of sight to the now closed door of the room. They were entranced as the once white washed door turned red as words were cut into the surface. The letters wept blood, repeating the same word over and over again: slut.

*****
For lack of better description, the first floor was turning out to be a total bust for Trent, DJ, Leshawna and Harold. Eleven rooms later and all they'd discovered was a shoe, a thread worn robe, a couple of vintage magazines, a bible and an old brass key. Harold browsed the through one of the magazines as they walked, amusing himself with outdated articles and advertisements from the seventies. DJ was on pins and needles ever since they'd gotten to the floor, passing by a message reading, "Keep out." He was assured by both Trent and Leshawna that it was nothing but paint and to stop being such a baby. If experience taught anyone anything, it was that DJ was the biggest baby of them all.
Every time a shadow shifted, it was all they could do to reel him back in that there was nothing to be scared off. It was quit ironic when the other three nearly jumped out of their skin at the sound of groaning and moaning from behind them.
"Unnal kad un uu oo un amiaded." a soft voice slobbered and mumbled. DJ of course shrieked like a girl, jumping behind Harold, who had slithered behind Leshawna and she had stepped non to casually behind Trent. The quartet looked down to see the familiar little girl from earlier in the night, a box of Oreo cookies in her hands that she was greedily munching away one.
"Come again?" Leshawna asked, stepping away from the collection of cowards.
"I said," Cleo swallowed hard, pounding her chest lightly as she gulped, "Uncle Chef said another one of you maggots got eliminated. It was epic."
"Sounds like Chef," the heavy woman agreed. Cleo continued past the teens, finding another cookie to consume.
"Aren't you, y'know supposed to be a zombie chasing us?" Harold questioned her, receiving a quick elbow to the gut from Leshawna. Cleo cocks her head to the side curiously before turning around with a devilish smile, "I wonder."
Sweat beads ran down their temples, awaiting her next move, but instead she returned to eating cookies and walking away. The group smiled in relief as she distanced herself from them. The scavenger hunt for the money could continue without an elimination by little zombie girl. Abruptly a retching cry was whimpered from the little girl.  Her tiny hand flew up to cover her mouth as she dropped to her knees.
Surprisingly it was DJ who ran to her aid first, "Hey! Are you sick?"
Cleo whimpered some more, glancing up at the gentle giant before spewing up blood that trickled through her fingertips. Leshawna cringed at the sight, "That ain't normal sick."
DJ placed a large comforting hand on her shoulder assuring, "Don't worry. We'll take you back down to the lobby and call a doctor."
The child remained still for a moment before she again threw up blood all over DJ's calves. Disgusted but still concerned, he stood up to announce to his team that he would be escorting the young girl back to the lobby. Harold raised his finger up as if to say something, but couldn't seem to find the words he wanted. Leshawna's expression changed from worried to annoyed as her shoulders dropped down in defeat. It was Trent who finally announced to all that, "You've just been had by a 9 year old girl."
"What?" DJ questioned before he looked down to where she'd been kneeling as she looked up and smiled with red stained teeth. He would have backed away from her if it wasn't for the fact that she'd expediently tied his ankles together with a collection of shoelaces. He teetered back and forth while Cleo scampered out of the way before he landed face first into the floor.
Smiling in triumph, Cleo began to excessively celebrate through dance in front of her catch. Her small voice chanted over and over, "I win! I win!" The other cast mates just watched dumfounded at how the smallest person there, single handedly captured the biggest member of their party. That feeling of dread suddenly filled the pits of their stomachs again as she abruptly stopped her flaunting and stared them down with scheming eyes. In a heartbeat Harold, Trent and Leshawna took off full speed in the opposite direction.

*****
On the second floor, the distinct chime of an elevator lift resonated down the corridors. The sound of the shaft doors opening for a moment alighting the hallway in a bright yellow glare. After a few seconds, the doors resealed and the ding chimed again, the mechanical melody playing endlessly.
Two contestants crept down the hallway on tiptoes, backs pressed to the wall as they approached the chiming sound. A plum colored head poked around the corner warily, than whispered a little too loudly to her partner, "There's no one there."
"That's… that's bad, right?" Cody's clear blue eyes chanced as glance as the elevator continued to open and close of its own accord, "But it doesn't mean it's haunted, right? It's just faulty engineering, right?"
Sierra helplessly shrugged before craning her neck around the corner again. Her breath hitched in her throat as she focused on the doors jerk open once more and she noticed a shadow cast on the back wall. She eagerly turned to announce her discovery to her partner when another figure caught her attention.
The familiar brunette C.I.T. entered into view, purposefully heading towards the elevator. Sierra quickly revealed herself from the corner, surprising Cody who soon noticed their fellow cast member too. Cheerfully Sierra threw her arm into the air, "Courtney!"
The brunette however didn't responded, lost in her own thoughts as she reached down the press the call button. As the doors slide open, the pair quickly moved towards the silent teen. Courtney entered, never flinching as they repeated her name over and over again. The duo paused in front of the elevator door, awaiting it to cycle open again, but this time the doors remained shut, the needle moving over towards five.

Impatiently a finger pressed down on the call button, cursing that it was taking far too long. Gwen leaned back against the wall, knowing that an old elevator system like this would take some time to reach each floor. The fifth floor had turned out to be a lost cause for Duncan and Gwen, but that didn't mean the other floors would be. Duncan found a locked stairwell leading up to the penthouse suites, but despite his best efforts he couldn't pick or pry that door open.
Certainly the pair deduced that the elevator went to the top too, it was just a matter of convincing it to take them there. It seemed so obvious that the money was hidden on the ritziest floor the hotel had to offer. It was also likely that Chris and Chef were hiding up there as well. If the elevator plan didn't work than Duncan suggested they find an axe and chop the door down. Plan C was to climb the elevator shaft from within and force the door open on the top. Gwen never voiced an agreement to that final plan.
A repetitive ding announced the arrival of the carriage at last, both teens eagerly anticipating the doors sliding open. The chime continued to repeat without the doors opening and Duncan exclaimed in frustration, "What the hell?"
"We should probably look for that axe." Gwen smiled helpfully, turning to head for the stairs. A moment after they turned away, the doors finally creaked open. Quickly the pair turned toward the lift, surprised to see a familiar standing within.
The arrival to her floor didn't draw her attention, nor did the clearing of a throat from outside. She seemed focused on the keypad ahead directly in her sight. Her bronzed fingers running absently over a keyhole, meticulously feeling every edge and curve of the surface.
"Courtney?" Gwen summons her attention and slowly the C.I.T. looks up. The rims of her eyes are watery, her face tired and hair tousled. Her lips is swollen red and her cheek is discoloring quickly from the invisible assault she'd suffered earlier. Carefully she steps out of the elevator, looking at the pair but not really seeing either of them. Callously Duncan speaks first, "You look like hell."
Immediately Gwen scoffs him, unaware of the smile playing on Courtney's bloodied lips. She plays with the waistband behind her back, caressing the cool metal revolver concealed beneath her layers of clothes. Fingers begin to curl around the hilt and she smiles coldly, "Really, because I feel like heaven right now."
wouldn't it be horrible if Izzy was really just talking to herself?

this chapter was long and made my neck hurt a lot. I hope you notice some recurring themes here. I also hope that you will bear with my forgetfullness... i know SOMEWHERE i outlined a lot of this story and now i can't find it. maybe it's better becaue maybe my ideas will be better now.
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HOTEL WAWANAKWA
part 01

On an average day for the average person, it might be a little disconcerting to find oneself in a strange abandoned building, unconscious on the floor. Panic and dread would follow your awakening, with paranoia and a million questions overloading your brain. This wasn't the case for 23 still unaware teens, haphazardly sleeping on the floor and various pieces of furniture in what appeared to be a lobby. This was just the beginning of another dramatic day, under the sadistically cruel wing of host Chris Maclean.

The creak of a door opening, hinges almost rusted through, and the echo of footsteps signaled the first sign of activity in the lobby. Briskly, almost enthusiastically the steps made their way to the mess of bodies, passing by a dusty and worn reception desk. Embellishing the once rich maple colored desk, hung the remains of the establishments title, mostly unreadable except for the word: HOTEL.

Beyond the dirty, shattered windows, the sun was setting just as the first of the teens began to rise from their drug induced nap. The crunching of dead leaves snapped awake one of the young girls, who's hand clenched tightly around her dearest friend's hand. Her dark brown eyes instantly targeted the pair making their way to the center of the lobby. One, a roguishly handsome man in his mid-thirties and second, an imposing dark skinned man, wearing a bloodied apron and a deep scowl.

Sitting up, her recent awakening did not go unnoticed by witty Chris, who playfully put his finger to his lips to hush her. In his other hand he held onto a bullhorn, the sight of which made the sizeable woman urgently shake the thin Samoan girl besides her.
"Katie! Katie! Wake up!"
"Mng," Katie dryly mumbled in her haze, "Sadie? We there yet?"
"Oh, we're here alright," Sadie confirmed, pulling her friend up into a sitting position.
Any other sleepy questions that remained were drowned out by the ear-splitting blare of foghorn being amplified through a bullhorn.

Immediately bodies began to spring up from their resting places, the lobby echoing with startled gasps, curses and outright screams. Those placed haphazardly on sheet covered chairs, clumsily knocked their seats over. Another of the rudely awakened teens tumbled off a couch she was laid across with a loud thud and torrent of curses. Many of the teens looked ready to and willing to fight, others ready to flee the scene. Still, despite the clamor, the sadistic cackling of Chris and Chef Hatchet could still be heard.

"I shoulda known," snarled Leshawna as she was helped to stand by Harold and Bridgette. Her mocha skinned face glowed red with anger, and from when she smacked her head into the floor.

"Good morning kiddies," Chris beamed, brazenly pleased with himself, "Or should I say, good evening?"

The hues of dusk sprinkled the inside of the lobby through cloudy windows, hallowing the grinning man and further disorienting the group. Lindsay's bright blue eyes squinted beyond the familiar host, dusting off what looked like years of dust from her orange skirt. Her questioning stare voiced a dozen important questions, but her lips asked the trivial one instead, "Ummm, this doesn't look like the concert hall."

"That's cuz it's not," he lowly chuckled again.

"Ugh, isn't it obvious, he tricked us… again," scoffed Heather from a far corner of the lobby, "I don't know what's wrong with us to ever trust Chris Maclean. The party, the concert hall, the recognition… it was all a scam… for whatever 'this' is."

"Thanks for being obvious, Heather. But I guess it's a great segway into why you're here." For dramatic effect, he gave the group a moment to collect themselves. Almost meticulously, he watched them gather themselves, Tyler went to Lindsay's side, and they were soon accompanied by short and stout Beth. Geoff held tightly on to his lady love Bridgette, while BFF's Katie and Sadie took each other's hand for comfort as the waited in anticipation. High pitched squeals from Sierra echoed throughout the room as she worried over Cody, who persisted that he was fine on his own.

Wedge heels stomped annoyingly loud towards the center of the group as Courtney shot daggers towards Gwen, Duncan and Trent. Trent was unfortunately just in the wrong place at the wrong time, attempting to help Gwen steady herself at the same time as Duncan. The trio had an awkward moment of apologies before Trent conceded, backing away from the petite Goth girl.

Fiery red-head Izzy seemed to be the least affected by the situation as she tip-toed past Owen, who somehow had remained sound asleep. She seemed to be studying the higher architecture of the building interior, for her own peculiar reasoning. The remaining players, DJ, Alejandro, Justin, and Eva stood their ground, watching Chris impatiently.

"Welcome to the Hotel Wawanakwa, the most haunted and abandoned lodging in all of Ontario. By now, I'm sure you've already realized that the cast reunion was a fake and that I may or may not have drugged you on the bus ride." Expectantly, he laughed at his own plotting, than frowned deeply as Owen snorted loudly.

"Guess you over did it with the big guy, Chef. Anyway! I've invited everyone back for a very special challenge. You see, back in its heyday, this was one of the most luxurious and profitable establishments in the province. But because of some unexplained phenomenon, and building code violations, they shut the doors in the late 80s. Rumor has it; the tortured, horribly… gruesomely murdered souls of past residents still haunt the halls of this hotel, cursing it to failure. That's where the 22 of you… 23, no…"

The gears in Chris' brain visibly began to strain as he silently pointed to count each of the teens in front of him. He looked up towards Chef, mumbling, "We missing one?"

The larger man shrugged indifferently. Chris scratched at his stubble thoughtfully, and Eva surprisingly perked up, loosening her crossed arms. With a swift kick of her navy sneaker, she kicked the still slumbering Owen, effectively rolling him over and revealing Noah's twisted up form underneath.

"God! What took you so long woman?" The muscled brunette barely flinched as she wrenched the scrawny young man up from the ground, flinging him across the floor behind her.

"Where was I? Oh yeah. Today, you kids will be on a little treasure hunt, because hidden somewhere within this hotel, is another case of another million dollars! First one to the case takes it all or you can attempt to team up and split the winnings… if you can. Sound easy? Maybe not, because there's still the unresolved issue of," for effect, Chris dropped his voice a notch, "the murdered souls of this hotel."

Chris mewed pleasantly to himself as the beginnings of fear formed on a few faces. Still there were skeptic remaining like Duncan, Heather and Gwen that simply rolled their eyes at his antics. Chef let out an exasperated breath when he noticed Izzy pop her head out from behind the reception desk and almost appeared: giddy.

Brave resolve only lasted a moment more when the sound of a pipe clattered loudly from down a hall, followed by bewailing moans. The twins screeched aloud while they latched onto one another as approaching footsteps echoed down the hall. Tyler took up a brave fighting stance, behind Lindsay and Beth who had taken to hugging each other for support. From opposite sides of the lobby, Alejandro looked doubtful, and Heather, simply looked annoyed.

From beyond the hallway, a grotesquely pale form crept into the reception area, still moaning and groaning loudly with each dragged out step. Chef frowned even deeper as his dark eyes rolled, while the host face palmed in annoyance. Approaching at snail speed before and below them was a small girl around the age of ten. She donned an outfit more suitable for a 50's musical, and was covered head to toe in white powder and red stain. It was instantly clear that she was acting the part of an undead resident of the hotel. Gwen sudden outburst of laugh summed up the fact that no one was impressed and scared anymore.

"You weren't supposed to come out yet!" Chris hollered towards the young girl, but a quick glare from Chef Hatchet quelled much of the host's anger.

"Oh," she blinked innocently as Chef towered besides her, slinging her carefully over his shoulder. The frustrated host grumbled something about firing some interns under his breath as the little actress and Chef disappeared down the hallway.

"You can't be serious," Gwen snorted, attempting to hide her smile.

"Hey, I'd watch out for that one, she's an ankle biter… really. And since she ruined the suspense I was building, and some of the mystery, I'll give you the cliff notes version. Your job is to find the case of money and win the game, but be warned there will be obstacles in the way. Also, you may eliminate your competition if you choose. You'll do that by 'tagging' the other players with paint guns," from his back pocket, Chris revealed a small derringer sized pistol for an example. "The number of paint guns and other obstacles in this game will be an unknown. There could be 23, one for each of you, or there could only be one. These can only be used on fellow players, cuz' y'know it's not fun otherwise."  

Pausing again, Chris allowed a moment to soak in what he'd said, also giving an opportunity for one of the sound men to run up behind him and whisper. His dark brow furrowed as he carefully listened, and other contestants began to whispering to each other as well. Duncan leaned back towards Gwen to quietly announce, "First chance I get, I'm bailing."

"Count me in. There's no way he can keep us here." Gwen agreed, noting that their host was finishing up.

"So, I'm told we're only allowing 22 of you to compete in this challenge."

"I'll go," Duncan volunteered within a heartbeat. Even so, as the delinquent attempted to march out towards the front door, Chris reached up to close line him and thwarts his escape.

"Not so fast. My show. My pick." The two men stared dangerously at each other, before the pierced juvenile returned obediently to his spot by Gwen.  Chris returned to scrutinizing the cast of teens, pointing with his finger as he chanted, "Eenie, menie, minie… Justin."

All eyes fell upon the teenage model as his handsome blue eyes widened in confusion, "What? Why me?"

"Because, this show can only have one pretty face," Chris arrogantly proclaimed.

"But Alejandro…" Justin earnestly began when Chris fired the compact derringer still in his grasp. Screams and startled gasps resonated in the room as the pistol exploded color across the protesting man's chest, splattering up his chin. The force of the impact sent Justin off balance, careening back while gripping his "wounded" chest. Chris' resolve remained firm as everyone looked from him to Justin, back to him and one last time at Justin.

"There, you've been officially eliminated," Chris turned his back to the mass, replacing the pistol into his back pocket. All watched expectantly on the spot where Justin fell, Sadie nearly fainted from the suspense. A cough of pain pushed out from his lungs, before he finally pushed himself up, whipping florescent pink paint from his face.

No real words of comfort were shared as Justin stood up, and proceeded somberly towards the front door. With the young model exiting the Hotel the first elimination of the game was complete.
**EDIT** fixed a ton of run on sentences... and my inability to count.

Cross posted [link]
Since everyone seemed so excited about the idea and drawing,

and my fingers decided to work, i tried my had at actually writing about the Haunted Hotel Wawanakwa (gosh, this is just as annoying to spell as the real town i live in).

And holy hell... I forgot how daunting it is to keep track of 22+ (yes, i made a mistake in my head count the first time) characters in one story.

Feel free to critique it, give me some feedback, flame me if you must (please don't really flame me though).

it might be evil of me to let you guys technically "beta" this for me... but what the hey. first drafts are first drafts.

part 2 THE HOTEL WAWANAKWA: Part TWO   Ten minutes after Justin left the premises and Chris speedily (well vaguely actually) explained the remaining details of the latest Total Drama challenge. The host excused himself down a hall, clicking a remote control over his head before disappearing. It became clear moments later what the remote did when Duncan stormed towards the front entrance to find it locked tight. The pierced teen commented it "unusual" that such a decrepit hotel had such tight security before joining sides with Gwen. Their fingers curled together discretely by their sides, but even so Courtney couldn't miss the gesture, even
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