Afflictions: Part Forty Four

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After a good night’s sleep, and a decent day of work, Arte, Ashley, and Webb put their plan into action. They followed more or less the same routine, with Ashley driving and Arte tracking, using a combination of magic and GPS. Also similarly to last time, they weren’t really talking that much. It was much less work to track him, since Webb laid out exactly where he was going. First to the grocery store, then to the game shop, then to get Chinese, then home.

At the first stop they both focused on absorbing all of the scenery. There were a bunch of cars, but nothing too notable.

“I think we need to talk.” Ashley said out of nowhere, at least out of nowhere in the moment. Arte had more or less seen this coming.

“Yeah…” She sighed.

“I think we’ve hit the point in our problem where other people notice. I mean, the weird devil guy noticed at least.” She put the car into gear and pulled out so they could arrive at the next destination before Webb.

“I don’t know how he knew, but I guess we should talk about it.” Arte nodded. It was bugging her exactly how he knew, but that wasn’t really important right now.

“I feel like you’re being a little overprotective.” Ashley said after a moment of silence. “Like, I know what we’re doing is dangerous, and we need to look out for each other, but I feel like this goes above that.”

“It’s just after last year, and with how happy we’ve been, I don’t know if I could stand to lose you again.” Arte thought for a moment about what Paul had said. If he was right, which she maintained he wasn’t, she would definitely stop Ashley from intervening. It wasn’t even a question.

“I know, and it’s honestly been hard for me to overcome being scared too, but I think we can’t live in fear.” She placed a hand on Arte’s.

“I know.” She nodded.

The conversation paused as they entered the game shop parking lot, and pulled into a discrete spot. A couple of minutes later, Webb pulled in, followed by a couple of cars a few minutes later. Arte took note of their makes and colors, and they pulled out to go to the Chinese restaurant.

“So can we agree to work on being less overprotective outside of work?” Ashley resumed.

“I want you to continue the self defense classes at the DSR.”

Ashley nodded for a moment. “I think that’s fair. Can we also go to couples therapy, especially since we’re getting married soon?”

“I think that makes sense.” Arte nodded. “I can try to work on it, but at least in the field, let me take the lead, since I have powers.”

“Deal.” Ashley nodded. “That seems fair. I think the counseling will help both of us.”

“Yeah… I’m sorry for not talking about this sooner.” Arte looked down. It really had been a simple resolution, so she felt a little silly.

“Me too. We need to talk about things sooner.” Ashley nodded.

The conversation was again put on pause as Webb pulled into the lot. A couple of minutes later, a red Toyota Camry pulled into the lot, very similar to one in the game shop parking lot.

“I’m pretty sure I saw that one at the store too.” Ashley added, like she’d read her mind.

“I think that’s gonna be our guy.” Arte nodded. She was a little suspicious at how non-covert this stalker seemed to be. Whoever it was clearly was either getting lazy, or not a professional at it to begin with, possibly both. “I think we follow them.”

“That sounds like a plan.” Ashley nodded, and the pair waited in silence.

Soon enough, Webb exited the restaurant with his dinner, and made his way to his house. After Webb pulled out, the blue camry followed. About 30 seconds after, Ashley put the car into gear and followed after.

The Camry made a series of identical turns as Webb, and it followed all the way to his apartment complex. Once Webb arrived, the Camry pulled into a spot by an adjacent building. Ashley pulled a similar maneuver, parking at a building a little further away.

Arte conjured a small green triangle, and looked through it. Like looking through a telescope, she could see the driver of the camry, a white man she didn’t recognize, making a phone call. She quickly rotated the triangle, and placed it by her ear, and tried to make out the conversation. The road noise was pretty loud, but she could mostly understand.

“-Alright, thanks Mr. Wentz. The usual place for my payment?” He paused for a moment. “I’ll be there.”

She dissipated the triangle. “Follow him Ashley. He was talking to Mr. Wentz.”

“What? Mr. Wentz?” Ashley stammered, putting the car back into gear.

“That’s what he said.” Arte nodded. “Let’s find out.”

They waited a moment, and the camry pulled out. Shortly after, they followed.

They followed behind for a few minutes, until eventually the guy pulled into a public park by the high school, that the school sometimes used for sports. He got out of his car as they parked a bit away, and made his way up a path.

Arte debated a moment, and decided to follow on foot. Trying to keep visual would be hard, so she figured it was now or never. “Ashley, you keep an eye out for Wentz, and call me if you see him. I’m going to follow.”

“Roger.” Ashley nodded.

Arte got out of the car and followed about a minute behind the guy in the Camry. Eventually she saw him from a distance by a tree talking to a tall white man. She reconjured the green triangle, and sure enough, it was Mr. Wentz.

She pulled out her phone, and shot Ash a text.

It’s Wentz, come give backup. We’ll talk to him.

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Hello traveler! You’ve happened upon my serial, or maybe found it intentionally. If you like what you see, be sure to check out the reading guide and read the rest of the series! This may be season 3, but there’s pretty comprehensive recaps, so it’s not as if there’s an enormous backlog.

Hello… It’s me… I forgot how the rest of that Adele song goes, but it rings true today. What’s up? I’m doing pretty good actually. I still haven’t had a lot of time to mess with the blog or writing, but I’ve kinda come to peace with letting my easily distracted brain just pick whichever hobby it wants to prioritize at a give time.

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Afflictions: Part Forty Three

You are joining part of an ongoing series: Earth 2

Check out the reading guide first if you’re new here!

Arte and Ashley sat in their room after an exhausting day. After last night’s events, they didn’t get any sleep, then had to do a full day of work like normal. Ashley wasn’t sure how people who worked two jobs were able to do it. This was nearly killing her. Not to mention they couldn’t go home yet either, because Webb left a note saying to stay after school. She supposed it was fair enough since he knew that they had done an investigation, but still a good nights sleep would be nice.

“Hope he comes soon…” Ashley muttered, as she felt her head droop down to the desk. Hearing no response, she looked over to see Arte was already asleep, and prodded her. “Hey, I’m awake, you’re awake.”

“Fiiiine,” Arte groaned. “I still have to do the silencing thing.” She got to her feet, pulled out her book, and began to trace the room with a thin blue laser.

“It’s been like 15 minutes. Is he coming?” On the one hand she knew that was a perfectly reasonable length of time to covertly finish up and come over here, but on the other, she wanted to go home.

“What was it, if your teacher doesn’t show up in 15 minutes, you’re legally allowed to leave? Does that apply here?” She connected the edges and slumped back into her chair.

“Hmmmm…” Ashley thought about it harder than she felt she should’ve, when she heard a knock on the doorframe. “Come in.”

“Hello.” Webb answered, closing the door behind him. He spared one last glance out the door’s window, before moving out of view. “So what did you find?”

Having something to do, Ashley felt more awake now. “Well we found there was some dude living here. He looked like the devil, and tried to make deals.”

“He said his name was Caveat.” She showed Webb his business card. “He seemed to know a good bit about us.” Arte added. “He knew about my relationship with my parents, but he didn’t know everything. He was definitely weird. I’d say Kriska’s read of him being powerful is right.”

“That’s concerning…” Webb muttered. “What did he seem to want? Did he have something to do with the girl?”

“Well for me he didn’t ask for anything. He offered a couple of things, but didn’t ask for anything.” She looked to Arte. “What about you?”

“He seemed to want my necklace, so I’d say it’s safe to assume he was at least passingly interested in your glasses, Webb.”

“Concerning…” Webb thought for a moment. “What kinds of things did he offer?”

“Nothing important… Nothing that I wanted from him at least…” Ashley mumbled. She didn’t really want to talk about their fight in front of Webb. They still hadn’t talked about this themselves, and this wasn’t really the time.

“So would you say his offerings were magical? Did he offer you money or things?” Webb pressed.

“I guess it would have to be magic.” Ashley thought. “What about you, Arte?”

“Yeah, I’d definitely say everything he mentioned would have to be magic.” Arte nodded in agreement.

“I don’t think he has anything to do with the missing girl, though.” Ashley said. “At least that’s what he said…”

“Assuming his ‘deal’ thing isn’t a lie, he swore that he didn’t, and that she wasn’t abducted at the school.” Arte confirmed. “I had him captured, but he just disappeared. Either way, between being caged and shot, I think we’re done with him for now.”

“Alright, well that’s good enough…” Webb nodded. “I suppose that settles that for now. That leaves pretty much one suspect.”

“Who’s that?” Arte asked.

“With me, you two, and the ‘devil’ ruled out, for now at least,” he held up 4 fingers, lowering one for each suspect that’s been resolved, leaving one. “That leaves just whoever has been following me.”

“So you’re being followed by people that aren’t us or Caveat?” Ashley asked.

“Yes, since I detect ‘Caveat’ in ways that differ from the ways I detect normal people, you two are no longer following me, and I am still being followed.”

“I guess that’s true.” Ashley nodded.

“So I guess we’ll just have to stalk the stalkers.” Arte said.

“That was exactly my line of thinking, Mrs. Collins.” Webb grinned. “I propose that tomorrow, you two place another tracker on my car, and follow at a greater distance behind me. Once you see the stalkers, you follow them until they stop following me, and figure out what they’re up to.”

“And what if it’s not the stalkers that kidnapped Jessica?” Ashley asked. This sounded like a solid plan, but it sounded like this was all they had.

“Then we are out of usable leads, unless you can manage to find another from said stalkers.” Webb replied. “Considering that this is the last lead that we have, and the general unlikeliness that there is one that completely escaped my view, I would say this lead should be the one.”

“I guess that’s true…”

“We’ll save worrying about what happens if it doesn’t work for after we get this done.” Arte rested a hand on Ashley’s shoulder.

“Then we’re resolved?”

“Yeah, I’d say that sounds like a plan.” Arte looked to Ashley for confirmation.

Ashley was fine with pretty much any plan that happened after a full night of sleep, so she nodded in confirmation.

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Hello traveler! You’ve happened upon my serial, or maybe found it intentionally. If you like what you see, be sure to check out the reading guide and read the rest of the series! This may be season 3, but there’s pretty comprehensive recaps, so it’s not as if there’s an enormous backlog.

I’m somehow still alive if you’re curious. All things considered, I’m doing pretty decent this week! Been playing skyrim lately. You guys play any video games? Suppose not, since nobody reads these, but i have to write them dammit, so I’m writing them how I so please.

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Afflictions: Part Forty Two

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Check out the reading guide first if you’re new here!

Paul sat on Arte’s bed, and stared blankly down. He really scared the shit out of Deven… and himself. He had to tell someone. Despite what he’d thought, he couldn’t just not talk about this. He couldn’t exactly seek out a therapist, and Arte already knew a lot of it, so he figured she was the natural choice.

He heard the door open. “Christ, Paul!” Arte shouted. “You can’t just go in here! It’s an invasion of my space!”

“Yeah, sorry. I guess you’re probably right.” Paul nodded. It had been a little bit since he had actually earnestly considered the feelings of others. He had mostly been engaged in the facts of the future, and preventing bad outcomes. “You never put up with my shit, huh?” He chuckled.

“Are you okay, Paul?” Ashley asked.

Paul was slightly startled. He hadn’t seen or heard her coming. He couldn’t let her know this, since she was potentially involved. He hadn’t gotten it fixed yet.

“Yeah, do you mind if I borrow Arte for a minute?” He tried to resume his usual casual tone.

“Oh, sure. I can wait.” She walked off, and the door closed again.

“Alright, asshat. You’re keeping me from a date, so make it quick.” Arte moved towards the desk.

“I haven’t told you the whole story about Zoey dying. Don’t worry, Zoey will still live, and please don’t hit me until I’ve had a chance to explain…” Paul sighed. He shouldn’t. It might change things. Then again, a few hours ago he had been looking for a big shock… He had to do this for Deven, and for everyone else. At this point he was bordering on being a danger to himself and others.

“Okay. I’m listening.” Arte sounded sincere. She always had a way of turning that on when he needed some comfort.

“We saved Zoey. That was true.” He nodded. “What I didn’t tell you is that someone has to die.”

“What do you mean? Who dies?”

“That’s not important. What’s important is that right now, Ashley is set to heal them. That can’t happen.” He shook his head. “It can’t.”

“Okay.” Arte nodded. “What happens if she does?”

“Well, the future isn’t significantly different from the correct person dying, but she would die. I can’t let that happen.” A tear ran down Paul’s face. He hated this. He didn’t want this awful power. Nobody should have to choose who lives and dies, least of all him. He was just some asshole, who thought he was smart, and got superpowers by chance.

“Paul. I need you to answer me honestly.” She sat down on the bed next to him. She was quiet for a moment. “It’s you isn’t it?”

Paul broke down crying. He couldn’t keep it in anymore. After all this time, and all this work, he finally broke. He felt a hand rubbing his back. He cried for a while. He wasn’t worried about keeping time. After a few minutes, he pulled himself together.

“Please, don’t let her heal me. You two deserve each other, and it’s my decision.”

“Isn’t there any other way?”

“No. If someone low impact doesn’t die, nothing works out. It’s a fixed point.” He shook his head.

“Are you saying you’d be low impact? We need you Paul.”

“I can arrange to have anything you’d need from me given to you at the right time. None of you can do the same.” He sighed. “Also, I’m minimizing the people that would miss me. I have no significant relationships outside of you, Deven, and Jude. Anastasia is done with me now, Vanessa’s been done with me for a while, Jude and Deven can manage, and you have Arte. I’ve put up a good distance.”

“Is that why you’ve been such an ass to everyone?! Do you have any idea how selfish you’re being? You’re taking away their choice!” She raised her voice for a moment, but then took a deep breath. “All relationships come to an end. You’re robbing them of happy memories with you.” She sighed, then added, “And that’s assuming I’m going to let anyone die.”

“Do you really think I’m doing the wrong thing here? I don’t have that long left. Wouldn’t it be selfish to get close to them, knowing what happens?”

“No, Paul. Everyone dies. Just because you think you know when it happens, doesn’t make that any different. Everything has to come to an end.”

“Well, I’m not sure that I could actually win anyone back at this point. I’ve been a dick to pretty much everyone.”

“So your answer to that is to… Keep being a dick to everyone?”

“I… I just don’t know…”

“I know with your god complex that’s a sensation you haven’t experienced in a while, but to us mortals, it’s a common occurrence.”

Paul chuckled. “Yeah, I guess so…” He paused for a moment. “Can you please promise you won’t let Ashley sacrifice herself for me?”

“Can you please promise me that you’ll respect all of our friends, and give them the choice they deserve to be able to make, and get your shit together?”

“Fine.” Paul nodded. “I’ll try to get it together.”

“In that case, I’ll abide by your wishes. I’m not letting anyone die, though. Seriously.”

“Thank you Arte.” Paul stood up, and paused. “Live a long and happy life with Ashley for me, okay? Since I won’t get that ending, I want to make sure someone does.”

“Keep your nose out of my love life you wannabe romantic.” She laughed. “Now if you’ll get out, I have to get ready for a date.”

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Hello traveler! You’ve happened upon my serial, or maybe found it intentionally. If you like what you see, be sure to check out the reading guide and read the rest of the series! This may be season 3, but there’s pretty comprehensive recaps, so it’s not as if there’s an enormous backlog.

I’m back from the dead! Sorry about last week. Everything kind of caught on fire, metaphorically speaking. I definitely didn’t almost forget this week.

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Afflictions: Part Forty One

You are joining part of an ongoing series: Earth 2

Check out the reading guide first if you’re new here!

TW: Seizures , Panic attacks , Blood , Light gore

Paul was having a pretty lovely afternoon. He’d started the day with a nice pot of coffee and breakfast with Deven. Then they watched some TV together until lunch, and Deven grabbed some food from a food truck not too far away. After which, they broke off to do their own thing for a bit. This left Paul standing in the kitchen hitting two spoons together to see what kinds of sounds they could make.

The next sounds the spoons made were a series of satisfying ringing and clanging noises as they hit the floor, followed by a couple of rattles as Paul’s back and head slammed onto the floor behind them.

Paul heard the ringing of the spoons sustain, as he found himself beginning to have a vision. He first saw a series of nauseating and abstract shapes and colors, that eventually moved and merged into an all too familiar sight. He stood on the basketball court, and all of his friends were there. They were shouting at each other, not that he could hear what they were saying. Everything seemed to be progressing as normal, but Paul had a very bad feeling about being here.


His thoughts exploded in static in his head, leaving him only able to watch.

The confrontation continued to escalate, until Zoey stepped in between the two parties. He couldn’t quite see the faces of anyone besides Zoey, Jude, and Vanessa. Everyone else was blurry and moving around. Zoey talked them down for a bit, and as normal it seemed to be working.

In one moment, in an explosion of motion, Paul’s hearing kicked in. He heard Zoey saying something, but couldn’t quite make it out, not that it was important. Vanessa tried to side step her and threw a disk. Zoey moved with it, but before the disk could hit her, Paul came running in and took the hit. The disc sliced cleanly through his abdomen, and out the other side. It still hit Zoey, but barely grazed her.

Then everything started screaming. Everything. The crate, the bent basketball goal, Zoey, Jude, Vanessa, and all the faceless others. Paul tried to cover his ears, but he had neither ears nor hands to cover them with.

Two of the forms began to approach the Paul bleeding out on the ground, and clicked into view. It was Arte and Ashley. They were also screaming. Ashley knelt down next to Paul, and began to scream louder than before. A red stain began to form on her shirt, as he began to realize what was happening. The red stain grew on her, and she began to stumble, as Paul’s abdomen began to stitch back together.

The screams grew to a crescendo. Paul tried to cry, but had no eyes. Then everything went silent except for the gently blowing breeze. There was a thud, as Ashley fell to the ground, and Paul got up.

In sync with himself in the vision, Paul found himself sitting up somewhere. He groped around and felt the spoons. His ears were filled with the awful ringing static from earlier. He got up from the kitchen floor and steadied himself on the counter.

He bumped into several things as he made his way to the front door, only falling once. He eventually felt the warm concrete on his feet. He carefully counted his steps as he went to the place. He made it through to first 286, when his hearing clicked in. His ears were once again filled with screaming, but this time he realized it was his own. He stopped screaming, and his throat felt like it was bleeding, but he continued.

Paul eventually felt his hand brush against the telltale chain link fence. He heard some kind of voices he didn’t recognize, but paid them no mind. He had to make sure.

The stumbled around the court until he felt the goal, then steadied himself on it. It was very important that he be precise with the angle here, so he took a moment to breathe. He felt the grass popping up behind the goal, and adjusted himself, then walked forwards. He held out his arms all the way to give himself a wide range of error. He walked all the way across the court and stumbled into the fence.

There was no box, so that meant he still had time to fix it.

Time, there’s time…

His thoughts exploded in his head again, filling his ears with screaming and static.

He found himself on the court again, but he could see. The scene he’d watched minutes ago began to unfold in front of him again, as if the universe was trying to drill the importance of his mission into his head. There was no sound, only screaming. He watched Ashley slump over again and again, for what must have been 100 times. He couldn’t think loud enough to really count them, but that was what he thought.

Once the universe had delivered his message again, Paul felt rough and warm asphalt beneath him. He must be on the court still. He stumbled to his feet, and groped around the basketball court again. He needed to get back home, home was the only place he could make a change. The universe demanded a change if he was to be the sacrifice.

Eventually, Paul felt the goal post, and aimed his trajectory for the exit. He counted his steps all the way back home. He was pretty sure he ran into something, but wasn’t quite sure what. It didn’t really matter since he was still moving.

According to Paul’s step counting, he’d finally reached the front door again. It was unlocked, so he was either about to trespass, or about to set things right. Sure none of the small shocks he’d try to introduce to the system before had ever worked, but he hadn’t tried introducing a large shock yet. It was time to see how many small shocks made a large shock. He groped around a bit, until he found furniture in the same space he expected. That was confirmation enough. He might’ve asked, but all he could hear was screaming, so that wouldn’t have worked anyways.

First he swept everything off of the end table. He felt a thud through the floor as what he thought was a lamp hit the ground. He made his way towards the mantle, when he felt a sharp pain in his foot. Probably some broken glass from the lamp. He might’ve screamed, he wasn’t really sure. He plucked out something hard from his foot, and tossed it to the side.

He swept the candles and wine bottles off the mantle, and felt more thuds, confirming his results.

He felt something firm wrap around him. He struggled against it, but it was to no avail. After a moment he went limp, and realized the screaming had stopped. He then realized that the screaming had been him again.

“It’s okay. It’s okay. It’s okay.” He heard Deven’s voice, but something was wrong. It sounded like he was crying.

Paul felt Deven’s steady and cool metal arms wrap around him, and began to make more sense of what had just happened. He became aware of every sensation in his body again. Deven’s unsteady breathing and heaving chest. His own bleeding foot. He felt tears begin to well up in his own eyes.

“It’s okay…” He hiccupped, “It’s okay… I’m sorry, Deven…”

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Hello traveler! You’ve happened upon my serial, or maybe found it intentionally. If you like what you see, be sure to check out the reading guide and read the rest of the series! This may be season 3, but there’s pretty comprehensive recaps, so it’s not as if there’s an enormous backlog.

Howdy! Probably off the whole streaming thing, but I’ll still do it every now and then. This part was actually pretty good, huh? Things are about to go off the wall, so buckle up! I may have found a bit of inspiration for writing again.

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Afflictions: Part Forty

You are joining part of an ongoing series: Earth 2

Check out the reading guide first if you’re new here!

Jude meandered around the farm with Zoey following closely behind him. It was their second day here, and he was starting to get a little bit bored already. He’d hoped the house’s ‘aesthetic’ would grow on him, but it had not. It was a nice day at least. The sun warmed his neck, but the gentle breeze cooled him off at exactly the perfect rate. As a matter of fact, there had been perfect weather for the whole time they’d been here, even at night. There were a few large puffy clouds dotting the horizon, partially obscuring the sun and rendering its bright light more bearable, and giving the sky enough variety to not be monotonous.

Perhaps he had grown a little paranoid, but the conjunction of the cracker barrel interior, absolutely perfect exterior, and John’s actions yesterday gave Jude a little bit of an uneasy feeling. He’d been thinking about voicing this for a little while, but decided against trying to ruin the vacation that he was a guest on. John had been nothing but hospitable, if occasionally a little intense, so there shouldn’t really be anything to worry about.

“So has Jessica answered you yet?” He turned to Zoey to get his mind off things.

“Nope.” She sighed. “Like you said though, I think I’m just going to try not to worry about it. I doubt anything’s wrong, at least nothing that can’t be fixed later. Knowing her she might’ve just broken her phone.”

“That is true. It’s probably something silly like that.” Jude nodded. He was slightly surprised at how well Zoey seemed to be shrugging off this worry. He could easily see this eating away at the average teenager, but she effectively rationalized it away. Truly a power to be admired.

They came around to an old weathered barn, and approached the doorway. The barn itself was unpainted, or at least the paint had faded away, but it didn’t appear to be structurally rotted. Jude peaked his head inside. It was partially illuminated by the sun peaking through the cracks of the other side of the barn. Inside was an accumulation of hay with a few tractors of varying ages.

“Wow…” Zoey muttered as she stepped past Jude into the barn.

“Pretty interesting, huh.” Jude nodded, walking in after her.

“Hope he doesn’t mind us being in here…” Zoey said as she examined a surprisingly clean tractor.

“Probably should be fine if we don’t touch anything.” Jude paced along the wall, looking at some of the things hung on it.

It looked like this barn was actively used for storing tools and tractors, but he also used it to store some older things. A lot of it was probably trash really. Jude eyed a particularly filthy looking oil lantern, and jumped back as he saw a spider the size of his thumb crawl past it.

“You alright?” Zoey turned to him.

“Yeah I’m fine…” He turned to her and smiled a falsely reassuring smile. He wasn’t a big fan of big bugs. Small bugs were no problem, but when they got to the size of a thumb, it creeped him out.

Jude was about to make a comment about the tractor Zoey was looking at, but suddenly John appeared in front of them.

Jude blinked to verify what had just happened, and the man was still standing there, in the middle of the barn, where nobody had been standing.

“Oh, howdy there…” John looked between Jude and Zoey, who were staring in awe.

“Did you just teleport?” Jude asked. He’d seen a lot of powers, but not teleportation. Paul had said the monks in Turkey could teleport, but that was all he’d heard of anything like this.

“Yup…” He nodded and sighed. “I suppose you’ve got a couple of questions for me.”

“Are you a super?” Zoey started to walk towards him but Jude held her back a few steps.

“Hold on, we don’t know for sure what’s up with this guy.” Jude stepped in front of Zoey.

“Yeah, I suppose that’s fair enough.” John nodded. “I wasn’t exactly honest, so a degree of caution is warranted.”

“So what exactly is your power? Teleportation?” Jude asked.

“Right to the big question, huh.” John chuckled. “Not exactly teleportation, but that’s one of them. I’d counter that by asking what exactly your power is. It’s kind of a nebulous question. You only know what you’ve tested.”

“Fair enough…” His answer made Jude more uneasy, but he had a point. “How much do you know about us?”

“I’d say it’s safe to say that I know nearly everything about you Jude.” John nodded. “I also know why you’re here.”

“So why am I here then?” Jude was interested to see how much he knew, considering Jude only knew that Paul said he should go.

“You’re here to train.” He looked past Jude to Zoey. “You too kid. That’s why I called up your dad, and that’s why Paul said you should come. I’ve already taught you one thing about you.” He looked back at Jude now. “You’re stronger than you thought.”

“How do you know Paul?” Zoey stepped out from behind Jude.

“I’d say that’s enough questions for now. I might answer a couple more later on.” He stepped forwards. “I’ve not once lied to you, your dad, or Paul, so my question to you is, do you trust me? I can teach you a couple of things I think you need to know about your power.”

Jude hesitated for a moment. He was reluctant to trust someone who had been this begrudging to give him important information, but Paul did trust him, and Paul hadn’t steered him wrong before. He may have his issues, but his visions always led Jude right where he needed to be.

Zoey pulled Jude in and whispered to him. “I say we trust him.”

Jude sighed, remembering moments ago when he had a bad feeling and rationalized it away. “Yeah, I guess we should.”

John held out his hand and Jude shook it.

“I think you’ll be happy with your decision.” John nodded.

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Hello traveler! You’ve happened upon my serial, or maybe found it intentionally. If you like what you see, be sure to check out the reading guide and read the rest of the series! This may be season 3, but there’s pretty comprehensive recaps, so it’s not as if there’s an enormous backlog.

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Afflictions: Part Thirty Nine

You are joining part of an ongoing series: Earth 2

Check out the reading guide first if you’re new here!

Jude sat at the desk in the room that John had shown him to. It was nicely decorated even if it wasn’t exactly his style. All of the furniture was very rustic, made of finished wood. It was proper wood too, not particleboard like most things these days. The walls were all decorated with old tools and things. Jude’s immediate thought while he was being shown the place was that he would be spending the next week or so sleeping in a Cracker Barrel, but he supposed that wasn’t so bad really.

He looked out the window and sighed. A beautiful bird of some kind landed on his windowsill, and sat still for a moment. It felt briefly like it was looking into his eyes right before it took off. He almost wanted to stay in his room and lay around all day, but he didn’t drive all the way to Wyoming just to sit in a different house, so he decided to go outside. It was a beautiful day after all. He might go for a run, or see what Zoey and Guillermo were up to.

He passed by both Zoey’s room and Guillermo’s room, but neither of them were there. Figuring they must be doing something outside if they weren’t inside, Jude made his way to join them.

He stepped out of the front door, and smelled the fresh air. It really was a sensation. The sun beamed down on him, with a gentle breeze cooling him to the perfect temperature. It was completely peaceful.

He heard something coming from around the corner of the house that sounded like an animal running. Moments later a cute little white baby goat came running around the corner. The goat ran past Jude, and gave him a wide berth. Jude then heard something else coming from around the corner of the house, that sounded a decent bit louder. From around the corner came John, closely followed by Zoey.

“Catch that goat!” John shouted, now looking at Jude.

He turned back to the goat and saw it was some hundred feet away, and about to reach the other corner of the house. He kicked off from the ground, and flew low. Within seconds, the goat was in Jude’s arms, desperately attempting to get away.

John and Zoey ran the rest of the way over, and John relieved Jude of the goat, slipping a lead around its neck.

“Well, I’ll be!” John said. “You’re pretty darn fast, huh Jude?”

Jude smiled awkwardly, not really sure what to say in response to that. He hadn’t really worked for this ability or anything, he just happened to have it.

“I’ll tell ya what, why don’t we do something interesting?” He said with a smile. “I wanna race you.”

Jude didn’t have the best feeling about this, and within moments, he found himself standing in a field next to John, who was on a reddish brown horse, with Zoey and Guillermo standing off to the side. The field was relatively clear, and about the size of a football field, but more square. A worn wooden fence surrounded the entire thing.

“Alright, here’s the rules.” John began. “It’s a simple race, first to make it around the field, hugging the fence, wins. I’m on a horse, and you’re on foot.”

“On foot?” Jude’s jaw dropped. “You’re on a horse.”

“And you have superpowers, so I’d call it fair.” John shrugged.

“So on foot means I can fly then, right?”

“No, it means on foot, like running. Your other powers aren’t off limits though, as long as you’re running. Except for blasting, don’t blast anyone.” John seemed to sense Jude’s disbelief. “Just humor me, will you? I think you’ll find this to be a valuable learning experience if you give it your all.”

Jude sighed and shrugged. “If you insist, I’ll give it a try.”

They both took their stances as Zoey counted them down. John shot off ahead immediately, with Jude trailing at an increasing distance.

Jude felt terribly unsurprised by this development, as his opponent was mounted, but something about John’s words to him struck him as significant. He did say he’d give it his all, so he figured he may as well try to use his powers somehow. Blasting and flight were his two main powers, and they were right out, unless he could somehow propel himself with blasting while still running. He considered it for a moment, then decided against it, as he didn’t like his odds of not accidentally incinerating anything. He had dealt with Deven enough to know that he had some kind of supernatural strength, so he wondered if perhaps he could concentrate that in his legs to go faster.

Jude concentrated, and tried to push into the ground as hard as he could, focusing the direction on forwards rather than up. He locked his eyes on the horse that was now over halfway around the field, and gave it all he had.

The motions felt unnatural, but powerful. The distance began to close between them, as Jude found himself going increasingly fast, taking massive strides at once. To a viewer it might’ve looked like flying close to the ground while moving his legs, but Jude could definitely feel the difference. This motion was all in his legs.

John was nearing the finish line, when Jude caught up to him and blitzed past him. He crossed the finish line, and braced himself on his knees as he tried to catch his breath.

“Wow, Jude!” Zoey ran up to him. “That was so cool, you outran a horse!”

Jude nodded. “I did it…”

“I told you it would be worthwhile.” John sauntered up behind them, and dismounted. “I think that power of yours has got a whole lot of aspects that you ain’t quite explored yet.” He patted him on the back, then turned to Zoey and Guillermo. “Now, how do y’all feel about some lunch? I’ve worked up an appetite myself.”

Zoey and Guillermo fell in behind him, saying something, but Jude just stared at John as he walked off. That was strange how much he seemed to know about Jude’s power. He himself wouldn’t have thought of doing that, so what kind of intel did this guy have?

“You coming?” John faced Jude, now a distance away.

“Yeah…” Jude called, before following.

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Hello traveler! You’ve happened upon my serial, or maybe found it intentionally. If you like what you see, be sure to check out the reading guide and read the rest of the series! This may be season 3, but there’s pretty comprehensive recaps, so it’s not as if there’s an enormous backlog.

I really need to start doing these monday night again. Anyways, I’ve got a twitch now, and I’ll be streaming some time around 6 or 7 EST this Sunday at

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Afflictions: Part Thirty Eight

You are joining part of an ongoing series: Earth 2

Check out the reading guide first if you’re new here!

Safety disclaimer: Be careful opening the hood of a car. If it was on recently it may be extremely hot.

Jude looked out the window as the highway passed by. They were finally in Wyoming, so they were getting pretty close to their destination. Detached from his experience of the past few hours, it was absolutely gorgeous. Flat land stretched out for miles, with occasional clusters of trees. The sun warmed his face, and the AC cooled him off. The road carried on as far as the eye could see, and the view was only interrupted by occasional hills.

Taking his experience of the past few hours into account, it was physically painful to look at. There was nothing, and there had been nothing for hours. There wasn’t much conversation, and the radio was off, so he’d taken to playing on his phone. A problem had arisen, however. It was almost dead. Jude pocketed it and sighed.

“I think we’re just about there…” Guillermo muttered. “Yeah, this is our exit.”

“Wow, really?” Relief washed over Jude, replacing the stiffness he had felt in his back and legs for a moment, only for a moment though. “I know I’ve asked this before, but remind me how you know this guy again? He was your boss right?”

“Yeah, back when I worked at Quiznos.” Guillermo nodded. “It was before Zoey was born, so I didn’t have much to keep me straight. This guy was probably the best boss I’ve ever had. I think he owned the place, but was pretty hands on, so I guess that’s how he has land out here. He just lives by himself.” Guillermo took the off ramp, made a left, and they were now on a two lane road.

“What’s Quiznos again?” Zoey asked. She seemed a lot more upbeat recently, so it looked like the vacation was treating her well. He was relieved that rest seemed to be doing the job.

“It’s a chain sandwich shop. A pretty decent one at that. There’s not that many in Georgia really, but there’s more in other places.” Guillermo smiled, looking into the rear-view mirror. It seemed like he noticed the difference too.

“Cool.” Zoey looked down at her phone for a bit, her curiosity about Quiznos seemingly satisfied.  She seemed worried, but not the same kind of expression that she’d had for most of the trip. “I’m starting to think Jessica might be mad at me. She’s been ignoring my texts for a while. They aren’t even marked read.”

“Really? Did something happen?” Jude turned to face her.

“I forgot to tell her before we left for the trip, so maybe that’s it?” She shrugged, but looked back down at her phone, clearly still concerned.

“I bet it’s fine. You can work it out when you get back.” Jude tried to think of another conversation starter to get her mind off of it, but his thoughts were cut short.

“Uh-oh…” Guillermo muttered.

Jude looked back to the front of the car and saw smoke pouring out of the hood. There was also some kind of sustained loud noise coming from it as well.

“That’s crappy timing too. We’re just far enough off the highway that I doubt anyone will see us to stop, and we’re kinda in the middle of nowhere.” He nodded, and seemed relatively unbothered by this.

He pulled over to the side of the road, turned off the car, and got out. Jude joined him at the front of the car. Guillermo reached his hand under the hood to open it, but pulled it back in pain.

“We’ll let it cool first.” He smiled, blowing on his fingers.

Jude looked off down the road, and saw a car coming their way. “Should we wave it over here? It might be the last one we see for a while.”

“Fair point.” He nodded, and raised an arm.

The truck slowly closed the distance between them, and once it was close, began to slow down and pull over. Out from it stepped a middle aged white guy with an unkempt beard, wearing a polo and overalls.

“You folks broke down?” He asks, looking at the wisps of smoke still coming out from under the hood.

“John…?” Guillermo looked confused for a moment.

“Oh, well, if it isn’t Rodriguez! Funny how timing works out.” He laughed and came in for a hug, then turned to Jude. “I’m John by the way. If I’m not mistaken, you’re Dayspring, right?”

Jude nodded, smiled, and shook the man’s hand. “Nice to meet you.”

“And I take it that that’s the famous Zoey I’ve heard about?” He peered through the windshield and waves at Zoey, who waves in return, and looks back down at her phone.

He steps up to the hood and opens it up. Guillermo was about to say something, presumably about it being hot, but John had no problems with it. With the hood propped open, he peered in. “Looks like you’ve got a belt that slipped.” He nodded, then went off to his truck and returned with a pair of gloves and a big bottle of water. He dumped the water on the engine, and steam came off at first, but then subsided. Once he’d done that, he reached his hands in and grunted, then pulled them out and turned back to Guillermo. “Alright, should be good now. Start her up, and I’ll drive with you back to the farm.”

Jude was slightly amazed by this guy’s prowess with cars, but then again, he slightly expected this kind of skill from people living in the middle of nowhere like this. If he was that good with cars, he presumably worked on them at his farm. Jude wasn’t that into cars himself, but he was always interested to see people’s hobbies.

They closed up the hood, piled back into the car, and started it up. Sure enough, it started up without any problems, and they followed John down some back roads up to his farm.

As the farm came into view, Jude had a better understanding of what John had meant by farm. It really seemed like more of a ranch. There were a couple of barns, with fenced areas around them, and a few cows, goats, and chickens milling around in their respective areas. The farmhouse was two stories and pretty large. Jude was told that John lived alone earlier, so really the size surprised him. He had a lurking feeling that the most interesting part of this trip had still yet to come.

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Hello traveler! You’ve happened upon my serial, or maybe found it intentionally. If you like what you see, be sure to check out the reading guide and read the rest of the series! This may be season 3, but there’s pretty comprehensive recaps, so it’s not as if there’s an enormous backlog.

To be fully honest I’m typing this super quick in two minutes before I go to work today. Have a good one. If you’ll notice, I’m using the same blurb as last week for the same reason.

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Afflictions: Part Thirty Seven

You are joining part of an ongoing series: Earth 2

Check out the reading guide first if you’re new here!

Zoey sat in the back of the truck, watching the plains go by out the window. This part of the drive had been pretty boring, and she was tired of looking at her phone. She’d scroll on insta for a little, then check to see if Jessica had messaged her back, return to insta, and repeat the cycle. She’d texted her a few times now, and still had no response. This was a little out of character, but she was trying not to worry about it. Ideally, she’d text someone else, but she didn’t really talk to anyone else besides Jessica.

She thought back, and tried to remember how they’d even become friends. Jessica and her group used to torment Zoey all the time, so it was a strange turn for things to end up like this.

 The day after Zoey got her powers, she’d accidentally used them on Jessica when she was picking on her. After that, Jessica basically completely left her alone for the rest of middle school. With that, her school life got a lot better. Sure, she wasn’t popular or anything, but she was no longer actively tormented, which was a huge upgrade.

It all changed when they hit high school, and there was a big redistricting.

Line break

Zoey sat alone in her new classroom like she’d done most years prior. All the other kids were coming in and clumping together with her friend groups, but she sat in the back, away from everyone else. It was 6th period already, so she’d done this same thing in five other classes already. The teachers here seemed to be nice enough, at least. There had been a big school shuffle, and it seemed like there was nobody here that she knew, which was another nice thing. Everyone else had their friend groups already, so it seemed like she and a few unlucky others got grouped with half of another school.

Into the room, came a tall girl with red hair that Zoey recognized very well. She’d seen her in a couple of other classes, but had successfully avoided her. What she didn’t recognize, was the unnerved expression on her face. She seemed to be peering into the room to see who was in the class. Evidently disappointed, she hung her head and entered.

Zoey sank into the corner as much as she possibly could. Hopefully she’d just sit somewhere else and ignore her, like she had in 3rd and 4th.

Jessica took one last glance around the class, and locked eyes with Zoey. Her eyes went a little wide for a moment, but she took a deep breath and made her way towards her.

“Hey Zoey…” She smiled, and pointed to the desk in front of her. “Is this seat taken?”

Zoey shook her head no, as her heart pounded. This was shaping up to be a good year, and of all the people to walk in, it had to be her.

“So have you seen anyone else from our school?” Jessica asked, as she sat her bag down and took a seat.

Zoey shook her head again. Maybe if she didn’t move then Jessica would forget she was there.

Jessica nodded for a moment, then looked down in silence. After a moment, she looked back at Zoey, and her face was red. “Listen, are you doing anything after school?”

Zoey’s heart sank. She tried to think of any excuse that she had. Her dad was at work, so he’d be a little late picking her up, but Jessica wouldn’t know that. “Um, I don’t…”

“Please?” Jessica added on. Her face was almost as red as her hair now. She almost looked ready to cry.

Zoey sighed. Whatever it was, Jessica seemed to be borderline begging for it. She was reluctant to, but she could already imagine her dad telling her to give her a second chance. “I guess I’ve got a little bit of time…”

“Really? I’ve got a couple of things I want to talk to you about.” She looked down again. “I’m… Well let’s just talk after school…”

Jessica faced forwards, and Zoey spent the remainder of the school day worrying about what Jessica could possibly want to talk about. The most obvious bet was that she was lonely at a new school and wanted to make up, but there was a chance she just wanted to torment her some more. That didn’t seem terribly likely based on how she’d asked, but Zoey was still wary. There was also the possibility that she suspected Zoey had powers, and wanted to ask about them. With how embarrassed she was, it almost looked like she wanted to ask her out, but that wasn’t possible…

After school, Zoey followed Jessica in silence to a pretty quiet spot in the school courtyard. Once they stopped, Jessica looked around. Her face looked almost redder than before.

“Hey, um…” Jessica paused for a moment, and looked down. “I’m really sorry. I don’t know what we were doing, but we just kept messing with you. I was kinda joking at the start of it, but then it just kept escalating… I’m so sorry…” She broke into tears, and put her face in her hands.

Zoey stood there, as her heart raced. She’d really never seen Jessica break down like that. “Um, it’s not a big deal…” She really had made her life hell, but she didn’t want to see her like this.

Jessica looked up in tears. “I’m sorry…” She wiped her face. “I didn’t mean to break down.”

“Don’t worry about it.” Zoey started to edge away.

“Would you mind if I sat next to you in 3rd and 4th too?”

Zoey stopped in her tracks. “Oh you saw me?”

“Yeah…” Jessica looked down again. “I was just nervous…”

She felt a little weird about this. It seemed like a little bit too sudden of a character change. “Listen, I’m sure you’ll be able to make plenty of new friends here. I don’t think you really need to-“

“I promise I’ll never be mean to you again! It’s not just that I don’t know anyone here…” Jessica stood up. “I wanted to say something sooner, but I was just…” Tears began to run down her face again.

Zoey was a little reluctant to believe this. On the other hand, she could already imagine what her dad would say. “I guess if you really want to, I don’t care. It’ll probably be boring…”

“Really?” Jessica wiped her eyes again, and smiled hopefully.

“Sure…” Zoey smiled as best as she could. This was going to be a weird year.


Somehow, Jessica actually held up to her promise after that. They hung out a lot outside of school, and she seemed nothing like before. She never ended up asking about her powers, until after her first mission. There were some pictures of her online, but nobody seemed to really recognize her, so she thought she was fine.

A few days after the mission, Jessica seemed to be acting a little off. They were hanging out upstairs at Zoey’s house like always, but she was very quiet.

“Hey, is everything okay?” Zoey asked. Things had been going good lately, so this was a little concerning.

“I need you to be honest with me.” She sighed, then held out her phone. On the screen was a picture of Zoey in that ridiculous Dayspring themed costume, charging the Impostor. “Is this you?”

Zoey’s heart stopped. They’d built a surprisingly good friendship considering their past. She always meant to bring it up, but there was never a good time. “Yes…”

Jessica’s face lit up. “That is so cool! So are you doing the full ‘secret identity’ thing?”

Zoey was a little surprised by her enthusiasm. “Um, I think that’s the plan…”

“So what exactly is your power?” She moved up to the edge of her seat.

“Well, we don’t really know…” Zoey looked off to the side and blushed. It was a little awkward getting questions like this, but it was still nice. “I can make some kind of salt.” She made a small piece in her hand to demonstrate. “I think it can take away other people’s powers. At least based on what it did to that guy… Listen, you can’t tell anyone though.”

“My lips are sealed.” Jessica nodded, miming zipping her lips. “You have to introduce me to the other supers you know. Do you have, like, a team?”

Zoey laughed. She felt relatively certain everyone would be fine with it. “Sure, I guess it’s kind of a team. There’s just a few of us right now. I’ll take you over soon.”

“You’re the best!” Jessica beamed.

It was funny how things could change in the course of a year. She’d thought that the year she got her powers would be the biggest year of her life, but this easily topped it.

Previous Part ______________ Next Part

Hello traveler! You’ve happened upon my serial, or maybe found it intentionally. If you like what you see, be sure to check out the reading guide and read the rest of the series! This may be season 3, but there’s pretty comprehensive recaps, so it’s not as if there’s an enormous backlog.

To be fully honest I’m typing this super quick in two minutes before I go to work today. Have a good one.

Like this and want to support me? Give a listen to my album, or better yet, buy it! It’s like tipping, but you get an album out of it. Here’s all my links!

Photo Credit: Original

Afflictions: Part Thirty Six

You are joining part of an ongoing series: Earth 2

Check out the reading guide first if you’re new here!

Jeremiah had an interesting week. He’d spent the past few months or so in a containment unit specifically for supers, but before that he was locked in a cell quite similar to this one. The containment unit he’d been in basically left him with the ‘lower threat’ supers, since he didn’t seem to have any overwhelmingly threatening powers. The rule was simple, don’t use your powers or you get an increased threat ranking. He’d served about a quarter of his sentence at this point, so he wasn’t trying to get in trouble. His wife had stuck by him and was doing her best to raise the kids, but that wouldn’t last if he got involved with anything.

This all changed when the guards woke him up before dawn, and without explanation, stuck him in a van. Before he knew it, he was back here. He sat in a chair behind a table with two chairs on the opposite side.

He jumped as he heard the loud clang of the door lock. The door slid open, and outside stood two familiar faces: a giant metal man, and a scrawny white kid. The pair stood still for a moment before Deven lunged forwards.

Jeremiah’s eyes went wide in an instant. Deven cleared the table before anyone had time to react, and wrapped his arms around Jeremiah, who reciprocated.

“It’s good to see you, Deven.” Jeremiah sighed in relief, as he gave Deven a pat on the back. “It’s been a while.” He felt warm tears soaking into his shirt.

“I didn’t think I’d see any of you again…” Deven cried.

“I wasn’t so sure myself.” Jeremiah nodded. He wasn’t quite sure where this was going. This didn’t bode well, an assembly of former criminal supers, and one of the heroes. Then again, he figured it couldn’t be much worse than prison.

“Hope you’ve been well.” Paul nodded and edged his way towards the chair.

Jeremiah thought for a moment, and settled on a direct approach. He wasn’t sure what was going on, but if he was here, it might mean he could see his family again. He knew Jamal would want him to ask about Deven, but that would have to wait. “So what’s going on?”

“Well, your sentence has been partially commuted, contingent to a few terms, of course.” Paul leaned back in the chair.

Jeremiah was relieved that the kid was doing well, after what he’d done. He wasn’t sure. He wasn’t ever really told what happened, but he never got charged with murder. He knew he wouldn’t ever be able to fully atone, but he’d spent his time haunted by it, and had to move on. Now he was focused on what he’d just said.

Jeremiah’s heart raced. If his sentence was commuted that means he could see his family again. His phrasing was unsettling, though. “What do you mean?”

“I have an assignment for you.” Paul slid a manilla envelope across the table.

Jeremiah looked down at the closed envelope, and opened it. Inside were a couple of documents, and a picture of a quaint house by the sea. “What kind of assignment is this?” He said, as he skimmed the text.

“You’re going to Washington state. There’s a house on the outskirts of a small town by the sea, and you’re going to be on house arrest there more or less.”

“Why? What am I supposed to do there?” Jeremiah looked up from the file.

“You’re going to complete some basic medical training, and wait for an old man to arrive for you to take care of. Eventually, someone who you’ve harmed will arrive, and you’ll make it right. There’s a catch though.” He paused. “You can’t have contact with anyone from your old life, and this will be monitored. You’ll be able to return to your family when the devil sets you free.”

Jeremiah stared forwards. “What?”

Paul sighed. “Look, it’s all written down in the file. You’ll still serve out some more of your sentence like this, but it’ll be shorter than what it was supposed to be, and in a quaint town in Washington rather than a prison.”

Jeremiah thumbed through the files and found the instructions written nearly exactly how Paul had said. “Can’t you give me something more clear?”

“No. Mysterious ways and all that.” Paul shook his head. “Any other questions?”

Jeremiah thought for a moment. Even if he still couldn’t see his family this was a pretty decent deal. He had to do a few things and make amends for his mistakes, which was fair enough, and it would be shorter than it originally was. Not to mention his time would be served in Washington rather than a jail. “So all my food and stuff will be provided? Or do I need to get a job or something?”

“You won’t need a job, everything will be provided by the DSR, and a contact I have on the west coast.” Paul nodded. “You’ll be meeting him today.”

“I guess I don’t have too much of a choice if the other option is prison.” Jeremiah nodded, as he came to terms with what was happening.

“Great. He’s waiting outside.” Paul got to his feet.

“So he’s leaving?” Deven asked.

“Yeah, I need him to help me plan for something.” Paul replied. “Remember, this is top secret. So don’t tell anyone else.”

Deven nodded and led Paul out of the room. Outside, a slim man in a suit was looking down at his watch. He escorted the trio out of the concrete prison and into a modern lobby. Outside was a large muscular black man.

“Jeremiah, I presume?” He spoke with a British accent. “I’m Darryl, nice to meet you.”

Previous Part ______________ Next Part

Hello traveler! You’ve happened upon my serial, or maybe found it intentionally. If you like what you see, be sure to check out the reading guide and read the rest of the series! This may be season 3, but there’s pretty comprehensive recaps, so it’s not as if there’s an enormous backlog.

I’m not 100% sure why I don’t abandon the blurb thing if I don’t love doing it. I’m probably about to abandon promo tweets, on accounts of them not working.

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Afflictions: Part Thirty Five

You are joining part of an ongoing series: Earth 2

Check out the reading guide first if you’re new here!

Paul rode in the back of one of the DSR’s cars with Deven. They’d been riding for about 20 minutes, and there’d been a lot of stopping and starting, so he figured traffic was bad. He focused predominantly on keeping his cool. He’d done a lot over this past week or so with everything in his vision set right. It really was amazing what one could accomplish when they didn’t have to constantly relive the vision of a little girl being murdered. Regardless, Paul was at least interested to know what ‘Josh’ had done with the DSR, since he hadn’t been paying a whole lot of attention the last year or so.

The car took a turn, and slowed down considerably, before coming to a complete stop.

“We’re here.” The driver said. His voice was young and happy. He sounded American, but more like he was from the north. Imported talent.

“Thank you.” Deven replied, and Paul nodded in sync. The pair got out of the car and were promptly greeted by a familiar voice.

“Deven and Paul!” Josh said a little too loudly. “Love to see ya!”

“Good to see you too, Josh.” Paul smiled and nodded.

He’d seen Josh a couple of times in miscellaneous visions, but not very often. He was a clean cut ‘tall skinny white guy’ who liked suits, but also liked to be more personal in his interactions. He was generally pretty nice, which was interesting in conjunction with him being the head of an important government agency. Paul had two theories about it. Either he was placed in this job to neuter the agency, or he is secretly cutthroat. Perhaps his outlook was pessimistic, but if you’re always pessimistic, you’re either pleasantly surprised or right.

Paul felt Josh take his arm and begin moving him towards what he presumed was the DSR HQ, and deftly ducked out of his grip, returning to Deven’s side. “I’m good, thanks.”

“Oh, my bad!” Josh replied, his cheerful tone unfazed. “Right this way.”

Josh led them into a cool air conditioned building, which was nice in comparison to the unpleasant heat outside. Inside it was relatively quiet, with a couple of sets of footsteps other than their own echoing through the lobby.

“Welcome to the DSR, how can I help you?” A receptionist greeted them, then quickly corrected herself. “Oh, Mr. Barry, welcome back.” Judging by her accent she was a local hire.

“Please Hannah, Mr. Barry was my father. Call me Josh.” He rapped his fingers on her desk as they walked past. “Keep up the good work!”

Josh returned his attention to Paul and Deven. “So, what do you think of the place? We just got done with the renovations!”

“It looks very fancy…” Deven nodded.

“Ah yes, I really appreciate the taste of the designer. Not too noisy.” Paul nodded. He slightly wished he’d caught himself before mouthing off to the guy he was asking for a favor, but he also definitely enjoyed it.

“Thanks! I worked with the designer, so I’ll definitely pass along the praise. We really want to create a welcoming environment to facilitate collaboration with our partners.” He lowered his voice to a normal talking volume briefly. “That’s what we call the supers that we work with now.”

“Oh is it?” Paul replied, nodding along. “You’re definitely running things different than Daniels. How long have you been official director?”

“About four months!” He replied at his normal volume. “It’s been a wild ride, but I’m hoping we’ll have a much better dynamic this time around. I really want to avoid any of the ‘control issues’ that Agent Daniels had.” He paused for a moment. “Nothing but respect for his work, of course.”

“Oh of course.” Paul nodded.

The three stepped onto an elevator, and Josh pressed some buttons. The elevator beeped a pleasant tone in reply and the door slowly closed.

“Anywho, I gotta say, your request was pretty tough to make happen, but I managed. I really strive to make our relationship with our partners work both ways.”

“Oh of course, I appreciate you making it happen.” Paul nodded, trying to channel the dialect of an ‘entrepreneur’ that wrote a book about ‘synergizing your workplace’. “I was confident that I could rely on you.”

“I appreciate the faith.” Josh replied. “I know there was a lot of work to do to undo the damage to our channels done by Agent Daniels, nothing but respect of course, but I feel like we’re making good progress.” He gave Paul a pat on the shoulder. “I definitely appreciate the intel you were able to pass along about the upcoming January situation, by the way. Really do. Higher-ups were thrilled about it.”

“Oh yeah?” Paul smiled. “I just really believe in making sure that I’m contributing to my associates when I can. I felt like it was very important information to pass along.”

“For sure!” Josh nodded in reply, leading into a few seconds of uncomfortable silence.

The elevator chimed, signaling that they had arrived. They’d been on for a little bit, but the elevator didn’t go that quickly, so Paul figured they were only around 5 floors deep.

Josh led the pair down a snaking concrete hallway. “Yeah, we moved away from housing prisoners here, so we could build partnerships with existing incarceration facilities, but I was able to get this guy here off the books. We still have the facilities for temporary stays and occasions like this.”

The three eventually came to a halt, and Josh began to whisper. “The guards are on break right now, so go on in. We’ll get him out once you’re done.”

“Appreciate it.” Paul nodded.

There was a series of beeps followed by a large metallic clank. Josh slid the door open and stepped to the side.

“Deven…?” A man’s voice asked from inside.

“Jeremiah?” Deven answered, frozen still.

“So this is actually Jeremiah then, Deven?” Paul asked.

“Yeah…” Deven nodded, and stood still for another moment. He suddenly lept forwards towards Jeremiah.

Previous Part ______________ Next Part

Hello traveler! You’ve happened upon my serial, or maybe found it intentionally. If you like what you see, be sure to check out the reading guide and read the rest of the series! This may be season 3, but there’s pretty comprehensive recaps, so it’s not as if there’s an enormous backlog.

Technical issues overcome. The blurb is short, because you guessed it, I’m tired.

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