Afflictions: Part Nineteen

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Arte and Ashley sat on the floor of the warehouse, watching Webb and Vanessa sitting across from each other holding hands, as she read his mind. Ashley’s breathing had finally steadied after the whole encounter at gunpoint. She was still slightly on edge, but something just told her that things would work out. Arte seemed to be about as on edge as before, so she presumed she had less optimistic feelings. That had always been Arte though, she worried more. Sure, she wasn’t always the most levelheaded under stress herself, but she tended to see the best in people. Not to mention, after last year, she had to get better at handling stress.

A few moments of relative silence passed, and Vanessa stood to her feet. “He’s telling the truth, or a master of controlling his memories.” She shrugged. “He’s had nothing to do with Jessica’s disappearance, and he’s even spent a good deal of time thinking about who could have done it.”

“As you can see, I was telling the truth.” Webb stood to his feet with slightly less ease, and took his hand off of his holster. “Whether or not you believe what has been presented to you is up to you.”

“I feel fairly confident he’s trustworthy.” Vanessa nodded. “He also shared more, but I believe that will be best conveyed by him.”

“Then I guess that settles it.” Ashley nodded and turned to Arte. “Right?”

“I guess so.” She nodded, and turned to Webb. “Sorry for the false accusations.”

“No hard feelings.” He nodded and smiled. “To tell you the truth, I’m a little relieved to have some allies here.”

“So what exactly has been going on?” Arte leaned up against a shelf. “You said something about factions being out to get you for your artifact? What’s your artifact?”

“I suppose I start at the beginning.” He began to pace as he spoke. “February 25th, 2018. The green light hit, and seemingly random people were given superpowers. I was still at work when it happened, and these glasses,” he tapped the glasses he wore, “Appeared on my desk. I put them on and found they gave me a much more detailed view of the world, along with the processing power necessary to use all the information they give me.

“For example, I noticed that there were two of you that came in because I could see the disruptions in the dust in this warehouse. When I lowered my firearm earlier, I was actually holding it at a calculated angle to ricochet around your shield and hit you squarely through the center of your nose.” He tapped the bridge of his nose. “Instant death.”

Ashley’s heart skipped a beat, and she looked to Arte in shock. Arte simply sighed and lowered her head.

“Now with that kind of power, I immediately recognized I needed to lead as low-profile of an existence as possible, while still enjoying the benefits of it.” He continued, unfazed. “I was able to continue for about a year and a half, until the beginning of the school year of Fall 2020. I started to notice some irregularities. First I realized that there was a noticeable change in behavior in a few of the teachers, and some of the non-teacher staff. They were looking around more, and making oddly specific paths. They were either being very clever about how they observed me, or not aware that they were observing me specifically. The only reason I could conclude for this is that they are after my glasses. It’s statistically improbable that there are more people at this school that were affected by the green light. Not to mention, I’m able to tell when someone has powers, and I haven’t seen anyone.

“That was the first strange thing I noticed.” Webb nodded. “That wasn’t the end of it, though. This school year, there has been… something… roaming the halls of the school.” His face turned grim. “It’s not human, not fully at least. As best as I can tell, it has no set form. Nobody can seem to remember when they run into it, and it doesn’t seem to do anything besides watch. It knows I can see it, so it taunts me.”

“Jesus Christ…” Ashley muttered, then looked over to Arte, who seemed to be thinking.

“That’s what I’ve been running into.” She nodded. “Whatever that thing is, I’ve run into it before. I try to look at it, then I get a headache, and start to forget, but I remember it now…”

“That might have something to do with your artifact.” He pointed at her necklace. “Regardless, not terribly long after this thing appears, the girl goes missing.” He nods. “Once she went missing, two people with superpowers turn up to the school and are aggressively asking questions, which is why I figured you weren’t affiliated with the other groups, since they seem to be more tactful.”

Ashley nodded. She wasn’t terribly surprised that they weren’t great at this. While it might be their job, they were just engineers, not espionage agents. Right now it was a way that only they could help.

“So, that’s most of what I’ve observed before you showed up.” He nodded. “Any questions?”

“There is one thing you’re wrong about.” Arte spoke up. “You’re not the only person at your school with powers. There’s a girl that works with us at the DSR now, and she attends your high-school.”

“I won’t say it’s impossible, but I think it’s unlikely.” He thought for a moment, then his eyes went wide. “Does she have some kind of power that nullifies other powers?”

“Yes.” Arte nodded. “What’s with the expression?”

Webb was silent for a moment. “That changes quite a lot. She’s gone on missions with you? Has she ever been caught on camera?”

“I’d say probably? She was involved in one relatively public mission at a mall, and used her powers.”

“I see. This changes quite a lot indeed.” He locked eyes with Arte, his expression was grim. “She’s in quite a good bit of danger, but now I need to focus on reanalyzing everything. For now I think you should focus on investigating whatever unknown element is roaming the school. That’s probably the biggest threat to her. If you keep her guarded then I’d say whatever human influence is operating here is minimally threatening.”

Ashley and Arte both reeled for a moment.

“Zoey’s at the center of all of this?” Arte repeated.

“Well, right now supers are operating completely unchecked.” He began to pace again. “Sure, many could easily be stopped with guns, and they’re of little concern. There are bound to be some, however, that are much more powerful. I theorize that there could even be a super that is influencing everything, like some kind of god. I’d say my first priority, were I rich and powerful, would be to secure a way to nullify any potential unstoppable supers.”

“Shit…” Arte’s word echoed through the warehouse leaving behind an uncomfortable silence of shattered facades.

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Short blurb this week, because the power’s flickering and I’m tired. Love you all.

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Afflictions: Part Eighteen

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Arte stood still, at a stalemate with Webb. He was armed with a pistol, trained on her head, and she had a laser trained on him. Between them was a translucent pane, created by her amulet. She had tested its strength before and knew it was good to stand up against about 3 rounds of any caliber that pistol could possibly shoot. After that, it was a gamble. Ashley was off to her side, presumably hiding with her gun pulled. Arte couldn’t risk a glance that direction, but that was the plan, so it was the best guess she had.

“I’ll ask you again. How confident are you in the strength of your barrier?” He spoke calmly, and didn’t move. “I bet it would stop one, but you don’t know how many bullets this clip has. It’s a semi-automatic, so I’m pretty sure I could fire at least two rounds in a second. How many seconds would that buy you? One, maybe two?”

“Certainly long enough to incapacitate you.” She replied, trying to keep her tone as calm as his. She was fairly confident that she could take care of him before he could kill her, but she wasn’t sure if she could do it without killing him. She needed him alive, because he obviously wouldn’t have led them to where he was keeping Jessica. If he dies, they may not be able to find her. She needed to deescalate. “We don’t need to escalate this.”

“I can certainly say that the direction this goes is entirely in the hands of you and your friend there.” He pointed where Ashley should be sitting.

Arte broke, and glanced to verify that Ashley was still there. She was sitting with her gun in her hand, seeming to watch Arte. She looked back and swore.

“Don’t worry, you didn’t give anything away, I already knew beyond a shadow of a doubt.” His face remained emotionless.

Arte took a deep breath, without breaking eye contact with Webb. He’s trying to rattle you. Just keep focused on what’s on hand. She thought to herself. “I’ll be direct, Webb. Where is Jessica?”

“Oh, I see. That’s your game.” He nodded. “Your attempts to frame me are as clumsy as your attempts to track me.”

“Just be honest with us, Webb.” Arte felt her voice waver, but pressed on. “Things look bad for you, but you don’t have to make this any worse.”

He narrowed his eyes. “If you want honesty, why don’t you start first? Who sent you? Who do you work for?”

Arte debated for a moment how much information to give him. Really it would be best to give him nothing. Anything they could give him would put them in a more vulnerable position. That’s not something she could afford. Not with Ashley here. She started to regret bringing Ashley into the field, but knew she was safer by her side than anywhere else, even if they were going into danger.

“We work with the DSR.” Ashley called from her position. “We’re investigating the disappearance of Jessica Maguire.”

Arte swore silently, but this was not the time to bicker.

“I’ve got nothing to do with that.” He replied. “I know why you’re really here, even if you don’t.”

Arte raised an eyebrow. “Why are we here then?”

“Why don’t we take the weapons off of each other first?” He suggested, waiting for her to make the first move.

She slowly repositioned the laser from him, in sync with how far he moved his gun. “Alright. Now why do you think we’re here?”

Webb left his gun angled down and to the side, but still ready to fire. “You want the thing that gives me my powers. I can see you already have one of your own, so I imagine that’s how you pinpointed me. I hate to tell you, but there’s at least two other groups that want it more badly than you, and none of you are smart enough to take it from me.”

“So you’re saying you didn’t kidnap Jessica, and you’re being targeted because you’re in possession of an artifact?” Arte didn’t fully buy it, but it was possible. Regardless she still hadn’t seen anything that showed that he didn’t kidnap Jessica. He had no alibi, and was by far the strangest individual at the school.

“That’s correct.” He nodded. “Even if you didn’t know it, your superiors, or someone else, is framing me so they can arrest me or shoot me dead and take it off of me.”

“Then provide some evidence of where you were on the night she disappeared.”

“I was at home, and I live alone. There is no evidence.” He kept his eyes trained on her. “You’d have to be dense to think that me having evidence would exonerate me in any way. There’s at least two other factions involved in this, and it would be absolutely stupid to have your source of information on people at the school actually be the one to abduct the kid.”

Arte thought for a moment. He had a point, but he was still one of the most suspicious figures totally without an alibi. His statement would be true if she was abducted by some large organization, but if he was just a lone maniac, then not so much. She was about to reply, but was cut off by Ashley.

“You’ve said a couple of times that even if we don’t know about this conspiracy, our bosses do. What makes you think we don’t know?”

Arte’s heart was racing. Ashley was drawing too much attention to herself. The whole point of this plan was to keep her safe.

“I’ve been watching your face.” He points to Arte. “You’ve not told one lie, so thusly you’ve been sent on a false mission.”

“So what you’re saying is that you can tell if we’re lying right?” Ashley asked, starting to get up from her position.

“That’s correct.” His glance shifted towards Ashley.

“Then you’ll know we’re telling the truth when we say that we have no intention of harming you over your artifact. We just want to find Jessica, and bring whoever kidnapped her to justice.” She was totally out of cover now, dangling her gun away from herself.

“Ashley what are you doing?” Arte whispered, moving the shield to cover her.

“I’ve got an idea, just let me talk to him.” She whispered back.

Arte started to object, but Ashley went forwards anyways.

“I’d say I believe you.” He answered, not moving his gun from its lowered position.

“And you don’t have any strict proof of where you were the night Jessica disappeared?” Ashley stopped when she was right next to Arte, and placed her gun on the floor.


“Then would you let us bring in a friend who can read your mind and prove you right?”

Arte gasped. She couldn’t believe she hadn’t thought of that. Vanessa could help them out here.

“After I verify what their power does, then certainly.” He nodded. “Bring them in.”

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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.

In combat, many things are uncertain. You may be waiting for a blow that never comes. That is why I decided to delay this post by a completely random amount of time. Yes indeed, I definitely did not get swamped with work and forget to upload, but if I did, cut me some slack, it’s been a little bit since I slipped, haha.

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[A very cool unnamed person], better known online simply as Marge, was the picture of success. She was in her last semester of a computer science degree at [A college bigger and better than yours], and was set to graduate at the top of her class. She’d already completed an internship, and had a job lined up for after she graduated. All of that was in the past, though. In her last semester, she lost any and all motivation to carry on. 

It was all just so inane. Everything she’d studied for the past semester and a half, she either already knew, or saw it as an absolute waste of time. Nobody in her class seemed to work even half as hard as her, and not one of her professors had an ounce of respect for her. She made the easy decision, and simply stopped leaving her apartment. Sure, she’d run out of rent one day, but for once in her entire life she wanted to have some time for herself.

So she set out to rot. She knew it was bad for her, and that she was squandering all of her hard work, but that didn’t matter. 

That night, she slouched at her desk, and let the blue tinted light wash over her, as she blasted meaningless information and hot takes into her brain. It was just easier this way. She saw a post about someone hacking [Some fascist fuckwit]’s [Hellsite account] to challenge [Some neolib asshole] to a duel. She chuckled at the thought, and considered how hard it would be for her to pull something like that. She didn’t think it could possibly be that hard, but as she started to open up a new page, she felt her motivation slipping away from her. Thirty minutes later, she found herself at the bottom of her feed.

She debated going to bed, and leaned back, staring up at the ceiling. 

“Surely anything would be better than this…” She sighed, talking out loud to herself. “When’s the last time I spoke to another human in the meatspace, that wasn’t paid to bring me food?”

She thought for a moment, and it was probably when [Some fake that never cared about me anyways] came to check to make sure she wasn’t dead [Probably couldn’t pass without me]. After all, who would do all the assignments first if it wasn’t her.

As she thought this, she noticed a bright light from the corner of her eye. She let out a scream, as she felt electric current running through her body. Everything went… Green?

Marge found herself standing in the middle of a busy square, wearing street clothes. It was night, but there were still a lot of people around. This was a real city, with giant buildings towering as far as she could see. She looked around at the people, but as she did, they went out of focus. Her head went fuzzy, but she began to see through each of the people. Every one of them was performing a task. One was checking to see if a light was on, one was informing an air conditioner to turn on, and another was carrying a file.

Simultaneously, Marge felt a surge of information rushing through her. Countless numbers and strings of code entered and exited her brain in the span of a single second. She felt like the city she was seeing was not quite an illusion, but something closer to a construction of her mind. 

With a lurking feeling of dread, she looked to a large building in front of her. With a thought, the side was replaced with a text box with her blog’s username, ‘MargaretThatcherisinHell’, and avatar, depicting her username, at the top. She watched the words appear, as they entered her mind.

Oh shit I think I just got isekaied into the world wide web… 

With another thought, she posted it.

Instantaneously, a person appeared in front of her, holding a manila envelope, and took off running. Without a thought, she chased after him.

He didn’t appear to be particularly affected by her following him, and proceeded through a series of alleys, eventually taking a set of stairs down into a subway. Marge [Like a badass] followed him down, and watched as he stepped towards a train, pausing to let the exiting passengers off. Each of the exiting passengers also carried a file, and their contents flashed through her mind. More shitposts and hot takes. 

“Oh shit I actually got isekaied to the internet…” She muttered to herself, remarking that she could actually hear herself speak like usual.

Without time to think, she saw the man sprint onto the train, and hopped on [Again, like a badass] after him right before the doors closed. The cabin lurched, then began to pick up speed, eventually hitting what must’ve been hundreds of miles per hour. Out the window, she saw the ocean, as far as the eye could see. It was actually a little bit difficult to tell how fast they were going with no frame of reference, but it was faster than any train she’d ever been on.

On the horizon, another train appeared, identical to the train she was on. It grew closer and closer, until she eventually figured out it was headed directly towards her cabin. She had time to gasp and brace herself [Not like you would’ve done anything cooler], but nothing happened. She opened an eye, and saw that several people had appeared in the train car. This happened a few more times before they reached their destination, each time bringing new passengers, until the car was full.

In a few moments, the window’s scenery was suddenly replaced with that of a giant building. There was another train across from the platform, with a series of steel depositories lining it. Both the platform and the train seemed to go on as far as she could see, with repeating depositories along the way. 

All the passengers stepped out of the train, and formed a queue in front of the box. The guy that she followed here placed the envelope in the depository, and suddenly vanished. On the other side of the depository, hundreds of identical copies of him appeared on one spot, then ran at full speed in different directions. Each passenger on the train did the same. She was somehow actually inside of [Yes it’s that website, shut up].

This was unreal, but she didn’t have time to marvel. She didn’t particularly want to get lost. If she understood this correctly, this was her post going to her followers. If she was right, she could find a mutual, and find her way back to what must’ve been her computer.

Then a thought occurred to her. If she was somehow in the internet, then it didn’t particularly matter if she found her way back. She could discern the mission of everyone here, so she could find her way anywhere. 

“Maybe this was the motivation I needed.” She said with a smile.

[Fixed your post! Too many personal details ahaha,,, ❤ Marge]

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Afflictions: Part Seventeen

You are joining part of an ongoing series: Earth 2

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Arte and Ashley sat in their car, trying to keep up a light conversation, while also secretly watching Webb’s car. Arte had placed two trackers on his car, one relatively in the open, and one very well hidden. Her trackers, a new feature of her amulet, should be invisible to the naked eye, but she wasn’t sure exactly what this guy had going on, so she decided to go with two.

Soon enough, Mr. Webb went towards his car, with a frown and a general glare under his glasses. Arte couldn’t tell, but he seemed to hesitate a moment on the way to his car, but whatever it was didn’t seem to faze him for long. He got into his car, and started it up. She was a little worried he noticed the tracker, but he seemed to leave it be, so it was doubtful.

They gave him a minute to get ahead of them, before pulling out after him. On their way out of the parking lot, Arte noticed a man standing in the security guard’s station. She thought it was a little late for him to still be there, but she had enough going on in her head right now. She was keeping up a mental map of each turn Webb made, mapping those turns onto her phone, and relaying them to Ashley as she drove.

He made a series of turns that Arte could barely keep up with, but if she was right, he parked outside of… a grocery store?

She relayed directions to Ashley, and soon enough they were in a grocery store parking lot. Arte felt the tracker nearby, and spotted his burgundy Camry. He didn’t seem to be in it, so they pulled into a spot as far away from him as they could, while still being with the bulk of the cars.

“So I guess he’s getting groceries?” Ashley said, looking out the window across the parking lot.

“Evidently.” Arte nodded. “He may have noticed the tracker and decided to go somewhere innocent looking.”

“I feel like it’s more plausible that he is just getting groceries.” Ashley shrugged. “Your trackers are invisible right?”

“They should be, but if he’s actually associated with this, then who knows what kind of powers he could have.” Arte sighed. They didn’t really have all that much info on him, except that he was acting weird. “I’ve been noticing a lot of irregularities around the school, so I think we’re dealing with some kind of super here.”

A few silent minutes of worrying pass, and eventually Webb came out with a few grocery bags. He spends a few seconds positioning them in his passenger seat, before getting back into his car, and pulling out of the parking lot.

They tailed him again in the same manner, leaving a minute or so after him, with Arte navigating. He seemed to be going on a string of mundane errands. First he went to the comic shop, and came out with a bag, then he went to the hardware store and came out with something else.

“Are you sure he’s up to something? I think he’s just going on errands.” Ashley sighed. “We’ve been following him for like an hour now.”

“I want to at least work out everywhere this guy regularly goes. He’s our only suspect really, so I think we should look into him.” She hoped he would wrap it up soon, since it seemed Ashley was losing patience some. “Besides, you get to spend time driving around with me. I’d call that a nice thing.”

Ashley rolled her eyes. “Obviously that’s a nice thing, but I’d still rather hang out at home, and not tail a potential suspect. Not to mention I’m really starting to question how suspicious he looks.

Arte sensed him coming to a stop again and began to try to pinpoint where. “How many errands is he going on…” She muttered as she manipulated the map. Something was strange about his stop this time. There weren’t any major shops around, and if she was correct, he was pulling into some warehouse. She did some cursory googling, and found that this used to be a shipping warehouse, but closed down a few years ago. It’s currently abandoned.

“I think we have him now.” Arte’s heart began to race. She couldn’t think of a single mundane reason to be pulling into an abandoned warehouse. They needed to be on their guard now.

She directed Arte to the parking lot of a neighboring building a bit away, so their car wouldn’t be visible. His car still hadn’t moved, so she figured he had settled in there. They got out of the car, and started going, when Arte stopped.

The DSR had given them protective gear to wear under their clothes, so Arte wasn’t worried about that, but she did want to make sure Ashley could defend herself if things went downhill. “Ash, did you grab your pistol? We don’t know what this guy has up his sleeve.”

“Yeah, I pulled it out of the car safe.” Ashley nodded and fell in behind her.

They made their way around buildings to the back of the warehouse. The pair surveilled through the exterior windows, but couldn’t see anything of note inside. His car was here, and one of the doors was open with footprints leading up to it, so he was definitely inside, they just didn’t know where.

“Alright,” Arte whispered, “I’m gonna go in first with a wall up. You keep your hand on the gun, and keep close behind me.”

Ashley nodded, and Arte summoned a translucent plane in front of herself. Nearly silent, they went in through a door that was unlocked on the opposite side of the building as where Webb went in. Inside, shelves with decaying boxes lined the warehouse floor. It looked like they came into the biggest area of the place.

They began to clear rows, with Arte swinging out the translucent wall before they looked in. They repeated this for a few rows, not finding anything.

Arte was beginning to get antsy.

She repeated the maneuver, swinging the shield out in front of her before moving, and found Webb standing with a gun pointed right at her. She readied a laser, gestured for Ashley to freeze, and locked eyes with him.

“How confident in your shield are you?” The man asked flatly.

Arte swore. It was a trap.

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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’ve mildly stalled on season 4, but I’m setting a reasonable writing schedule to carry forwards. I’m about to get busy again, but I think I should be able to manage. Anyways, new One-Off post coming Tuesday! Look forwards to that. I’ve been polishing this for a while now.

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Afflictions: Part Sixteen

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Arte sighed with relief as the bell tolled, and students filed out of their classroom. Another long day was done. They had thorough enough lesson plans provided, but it was still exhausting to actually do. She was definitely glad she decided to roll Ashley into this. It didn’t seem to be dangerous thusfar, and it was a huge help to have her here. She wasn’t sure that she could get this job done without her.

“So, I know we talked about this earlier, but…” Ashley started. “I think it’s best if we split up to do interviews today. We’ve got our suspect, and we need to cover more ground.”

“No way.” Arte replied flatly. “I don’t see any benefit that offsets the potential risks. You’ve gotta remember that we’re investigating a disappearance, and you don’t have that much more fighting power than Jessica did. We need to go together to be safe.”

Ashley sighed. “Fine, I guess if I can’t talk you out of it, spending time with you isn’t the worst thing, even if it’s inefficient.”

“Now we’re talking.” Arte chuckled. “Let’s get on to Dr. Flores first.”

Arte and Ashley made their way down the halls, and into the office. It wasn’t too long after dismissal, so there were still plenty of students milling around. They nodded at the receptionist as they walked past, and found their way to the principal’s office. Arte lightly knocked on the door.

“Come in.” Dr. Flores answered. He sat at his desk, and closed his laptop. “What can I do for you two?” He gestured for them to shut the door behind them.

“We wanted to ask you about Mr. Webb.” Arte replied. “We looked into a few of Zoey’s teachers, and we think he’s the most suspicious. I think he might suspect us of being up to something too.”

“Ah.” Dr. Flores nodded and sighed. “I can’t say I’m surprised you ask about him. He’s certainly one of the top suspects, to me at least.

“I hired him about ten years ago, pretty early into my tenure here as principal. He was a smart man, and while it could be difficult to tell at times, cared deeply about his students. A couple of years ago, though, he had a little bit of a personality shift. He got here at 8 and left at 4, and he started being a little twitchy.” He looked off to the side. “I want to believe that he has nothing to do with this, but something has been going on with him for the past couple of years, and this year it’s only gotten worse. It ramped up after Jessica’s disappearance. While I want to believe he’s just concerned, I can’t help but be suspicious. It pains me to say this, because I could never believe he’d hurt anyone, but I think you are right to hold him as your prime suspect.”

“Did he have an alibi for the night that Jessica went missing?” Arte asked. She knew the police did an investigation, but it didn’t bring too much up and the DSR took over. The police were still present, to direct attention away from Arte and Ashley, but the DSR was doing the primary investigation.

“Not particularly.” Dr. Flores shook his head. “He was at home alone, and nobody can verify his story.”

“We’ll look a bit more into him. It might still be a misunderstanding.” Ashley replied, in her usual soothing tone of voice.

Dr. Flores smiled. “Good luck with your investigation. I hope everything comes to light.”

The pair made their way back towards the classroom to regroup. As they were walking, Arte’s vision went a little blurry. She saw something in front of her, and then she fell onto the ground. Ashley reached out and softened the fall.

“Are you alright?” Ashley asked.

Arte was about to answer, but saw someone running up. “You alright? Tripped over nothing there.” Wentz asked.

Arte felt like that wasn’t true, there was something there, but she couldn’t make out what. She began to question herself, but thought it best to just drop it for the moment. Wentz was the other person she wanted to talk to. “Yeah, I’m fine. Tripped over my own feet. Thanks.”

“Glad you’re alright. Going somewhere?” He asked, reaching out a hand to help her up.

Arte got to her feet. “We were just on our way back to our room, but we were actually about to be looking for you.”

“Oh?” He raised his brow. “Well, it appears you’ve found me. My room’s right over here, why don’t we talk there.”

He led the pair over to his room. Inside, the lights were dimmed, and the walls were lined with bookshelves. All of the desks were arranged together to make larger tables.

“Let me take a guess.” He put his hand to his chin to mime deep thought. “You want to talk more about the missing girl? Can’t blame you. I’m glad you two came in. Mr. Ashe was never all that into gossip.”

Arte laughed as convincingly as she could. “I guess you pegged us. I was asking around about that Webb guy, and nobody seems to know what his deal is. They say he started acting more suspicious when the girl disappeared though.”

“He’s something of an interesting figure.” Wentz nodded. “He used to be this vaguely awkward normal guy, but then a couple of years ago, he just shut down anyone talking to him. I think that started about three school years ago. He’s acted weird ever since. Earlier this year, I heard him shouting at someone, as I walked by, and looked in to check on him, but there was nobody there. Another time, I tried to talk to him about the girl’s disappearance, and he got twitchy and nearly ran away. I was just talking about how we both got interviewed by detectives, and how thankful I was that I had a good alibi for that night. I was having a dinner with my wife, then we saw a show. We took a bunch of pictures, so the officers seemed satisfied.”

“Weird…” Arte nodded.

“Isn’t it?” He replied. “I don’t know how he hasn’t been arrested, or at least fired, to be honest. I can’t imagine he has a good alibi. He seems to get out of here pretty quick every day. It does make you wonder where he’s going.”

“Something’s fishy…” Arte muttered. Something had to be going on with Mr. Webb. That would be a good place to focus their investigation for now. She was a little wary of how chatty Mr. Wentz was, but if he had a good alibi, he was low priority right now.

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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’ve started work in earnest on season 4, and I’ve just finished the posts I intend to do between seasons 3 and 4, season 3.5 if you will. I’ll hopefully have a better name by the time it’s up. I’m going to try to have some form of schedule for writing season 4, with the hope of maybe actually starting on season 5 before season 4 even airs.

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 Fifteen

You are joining part of an ongoing series: Earth 2

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

The crowd roared, and the sound system blared, “Home run!”

Zoey jumped to her feet and cheered, along with both Jude and her dad. It was the sixth inning, and the Braves were already up 4 runs over the Royals, and that home run gave them 2 more. It had been a while since Zoey had been to a baseball game, and she loved it. The snacks, the crowd, and the excitement were some of her favorite things. Her dad had said that his boss had won some tickets from a radio show, but couldn’t go, so he asked if he could have them.

She looked over at Jude, and noticed that he seemed to be having a good time. It seemed like he’d run into a lot of trouble during all of their other stops, so she was glad he finally seemed to be having a good time.

She looked over at her dad, who she already knew would be having a good time. He noticed and turned to her with a smile. She leaned over and gave him a hug.

“We’re doing good, huh?” He shouted over the noise of the game.

“Yeah!” Zoey shouted back.

Her mind turned to back home, and she wondered if Jessica liked baseball. If she did, maybe they could go to a game some time. It had caught her a little off guard when she started being nice to her, but she turned out to be really cool. Zoey’s heart sank, as she remembered she’d forgotten to tell Jessica about her trip. After all, she was going to be gone for like three weeks, even if one of those weeks was a break. Hopefully she wouldn’t worry too much. She’d try to text her later, since her phone was dead right now.

Her attention was called back to the game, as the other half of the stadium began to boo. She looked around and saw who was going up to the plate.

“Why are they booing that guy so loudly?” Jude asked

“Oh, that’s Julian Arias. He’s the first super in the MLB with a power relevant to the sport.”

“Oh that’s right. I think I’ve heard of him…” Jude thought for a moment. “He was really controversial right?”

“Yeah. He can throw and hit really hard, but the MLB said he was allowed to play if he stayed within normal human limits. Atlanta really loves supers, but I don’t think it would fly in some other places.”

The conversation came to a pause as Arias reached the plate. The booing of the Royals fans kicked into high gear, as the pitcher wound up. Arias swung, but it was a strike. The pitcher wound up again, and threw a curveball, but this time Arias made contact and sent the ball flying towards the outfield. He’d already made it to second base by the time the ball made it back to the pitcher.

“Wow, so he’s just holding back?” Jude asked.

“Yup.” Zoey nodded. “I heard that he could hit it out of the park every single time if he wanted to, but he doesn’t.”

“Wow, maybe I should turn to professional sports.” Jude laughed.

“Oh yeah! My dad and I could totally coach you! You’d be great!”

“I think I’ll stick with the superhero gig for now, but I’ll let you know if I change my mind.”

Zoey laughed, and looked back down at the game. Jude and the others did seem to be pretty happy lately. Ever since Josh got put in charge, things seemed to be going well. She wasn’t doing too bad either, she was just tired a lot. She hadn’t gotten a lot of sleep lately, even on the trip, outside of sometimes on the car rides. She was a little worried she’d wake someone up, so it was just better to try to stay up.

Her attention was pulled back to the game by what appeared to be a commotion on the field. Someone was storming the field holding some kind of poster. She looked up at the jumbotron, and saw that it read ‘No Supers in Kansas’. He looked like he was running for Arias, but he was tackled by a couple of players, one Royals and one Braves. Everyone on the Braves side of the stadium and most of the Royals fans began to boo the guy that charged the field, as he was escorted off.

Zoey sighed. Things were pretty good in Atlanta, but she was wondering if things were like this everywhere else. It wasn’t like supers asked for this, or like most of them were hurting anyone. There were even super celebrities.

She felt a hand on her back, and saw her dad looking over at her. He smiled like he always would when he was worried about her.

She didn’t want to ruin the game, since she’d been having a good time up until this anyways, even if she was a little tired. She smiled back at him like she always did when she didn’t want him to worry about her. She gets to be a super after all, and that’s something most people dream about. She had friends now. She had a loving dad. Above all she was on vacation, and wasn’t about to drag down anyone else’s mood or her own.

“I’m gonna go get some snacks, do you want anything?” Jude asked as he got to his feet. He didn’t seem to be bothered by the guy who stormed the field at all.

“Can you get me a hot dog?” Her dad passed Jude his wallet around her.

“Me too!” Zoey smiled.

“Alrighty, two hot dogs on the way.” Jude smiled as he put the wallet in his pocket.

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Hello traveler! Hope you had a good pride month, and hope you remember that being an ally does not begin and end with the month of June.

I’ve started work in earnest on season 4, and I’ve just finished the posts I intend to do between seasons 3 and 4, season 3.5 if you will. I’ll hopefully have a better name by the time it’s up. Season 4 has a really interesting story structure that I’m looking forwards to writing. It’s not TOO far off of what I’ve done the past few seasons, but it’s a definite difference. In the meantime, I hope you enjoy Afflictions! Things seem to be going pretty well for everyone, surely that’ll hold up.

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 Fourteen

You are joining part of an ongoing series: Earth 2

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

Bottles clinked together, as Jude switched which hand he carried a paper bag in. He wiped the sweat from his forehead and sighed. He’d honestly be pretty happy to get out of St. Louis. Between the sun and the air pollution, he was feeling pretty bad, but Zoey was excited so he couldn’t bring himself to bail. He just had to tough it out. He’d already stopped by Ashen Brews for Arte, so all that was left was the gateway arch, and then he could go sleep.

“Didn’t know Arte was into fancy beers.” Guillermo held out his hand, offering to take the bag, and Jude obliged.

“Yeah, now that I think about it, she talked a little about it before, but I guess she just hasn’t had the budget for it until lately.” Jude thought for a moment. Things had actually been good lately. They’ve had time and money for hobbies, and nobody was really fighting. Paul had been acting off, but it had really become a given that somebody is always acting a little off. Jude had asked if there was anything Paul wanted, but he said he had everything he needed. He’d asked Arte to keep an eye on him, so he’d probably be fine.

“I try to stay away from the stuff, really. Every now and then I’ll indulge, but I don’t have good taste anyways, so the cheap stuff does fine for me.”

“I think I’m the same way, more or less.” Jude nodded.

“Hey, look at that!” Zoey got their attention, and pointed off at a building.

On the side of what looked like an apartment complex, someone had spray painted a giant red smiling face with horns. It had to be at least 20 feet tall. Jude was actually a little impressed. Not for its quality, it was pretty simple, but since it was so tall, that meant that either someone brought out a ladder to paint this, or a super did it.

“Wow, wonder how they pulled that off.” Guillermo nodded.

They walked a few blocks more, and were finally at the gateway arch. Hundreds of people milled around, and slowly moved towards the entrance. The arch itself towered over everything, and was more impressive than Jude had thought it would be.

“Its huge!” Zoey exclaimed, running forwards. Jude caught a glimpse of her massive smile and laughed a little.

“No kidding.” Jude nodded.

They made their way towards the entrance, and filed into the queue. After about ten minutes, they finally reached the security checkpoint. Jude looked down the list of things you weren’t allowed to bring in. Firearms, knives over four inches, alcoholic beverages, and a sign he didn’t recognize. He knew one of them would have to wait outside with Arte’s drinks, but he looked closer and saw that it said ‘No Supers Allowed’. He looked up at the woman running the checkpoint in disbelief.

“How is that legal?” He pointed at the sign.

“Sorry, sir. Those are the rules.” She looked a little worried.

“You’re blocking people out on something they can’t control!” His anger boiled over, and his eyes flashed white.

“Supers are considered to be always armed by the state of Missouri.” She reached her hand under her desk.

Jude could see where this was going. He took a deep breath, sighed, and turned to Guillermo. “You guys go in. I’ll wait outside. One of us would’ve had to wait with the drinks anyways.” He reached out his hand for the bag.

“But-” Zoey started.

“No honey, he’s right. One of us would’ve had to wait with the drinks anyways.” He handed Jude the drinks, and ushered Zoey forwards.

Guillermo placed the contents of his pockets in a basket, and stepped forwards through the x-ray scanner. It was marked with the logo of ‘Syngenuity’. Once he passed through, the woman waited a moment, then slid him the basket of his things. He filled his pockets, and Zoey stepped forwards. She placed her bag in the basket, and stepped through the detector. It began to beep loudly, as she passed through to the other side.

“Sorry ma’am, you’ll have to wait outside.” The woman said, reaching under the desk again.

“C’mon, she’s just a kid!” Guillermo looked off to the side, and noticed the security personelle approaching. He sighed, grabbed Zoey’s bag, and went back out of the entrance.

Jude was considerably more pissed off than he’d been since he got into that fight with Mr. Smith. He started to say something, but saw Zoey’s crushed expression. He took a deep breath and sighed. Angry Jude was not going to help anything here, and would most definitely make things worse.

“Sorry, kiddo.” Guillermo rubbed her shoulder.

“That’s a stupid law…” Zoey sat down in the grass, and looked up at the arch.

Jude thought for a moment. “Hey, so I know you wanted to go up into the arch, but how would you feel about just getting a good look at the city from up near it?”

“What do you mean?” She looked over to him.

“Well, I can fly.” It was probably a little risky, but if he went up and didn’t spend too long up there, he figured nobody would call the cops or anything. They might need to make a prompt exit after that, but he doubted anything too bad would happen.

“Can we?” Her disappointment immediately turned back into excitement, as she looked towards her dad.

“Well, if Jude can safely carry you, then I don’t see why not. Give me your bags.” He held out his hands, took their bags, and sat down.

Jude held out his arms, and picked Zoey up. It was a little uncomfortable, but he couldn’t really let Zoey not do the one thing she asked to do on the way, if he could help it. He gently lifted off, and rose up into the sky. He looked around, and it didn’t look like anyone on the ground was panicking, so that was a good sign. After about half a minute of slow ascent, he was at about the same height as the arch. The city really was impressive, but he definitely preferred Atlanta. He looked out at all of the roads, the buildings, the boats on the river, and the park surrounding the arch.

“Wow!” Zoey looked down over his shoulder.

“Pretty impressive.” Jude smiled. He still preferred Atlanta, but he was happy to make Zoey happy.

Previous Part ______________ Next Part

Happy Pride traveler! I just released an album! Here’s all my links. You can also find it under the music tab in my navigation bar. I’m not sure exactly how much I’m going to do with this, but I had fun making it. If you’re here for my writing, don’t worry. I will still be uploading Earth 2, I’m just doing a little bit of rebranding as I combine more projects with this blog.

This does mean that there is now a way to directly financially support me! Just buy or stream my album! I’m going to look at a few things this weekend. I still have aspirations to set up a patreon and a kofi/paypal link or something, but I’m slightly busy right now, so don’t hold out hope for the patreon.

Photo Credit: Original

Afflictions: Part Thirteen

You are joining part of an ongoing series: Earth 2

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

Jude stood outside of a large brick building, his heart racing, and looked up at the sign. It was a traffic light, on green, with the words ‘Green Light Comics’ in large white letters next to it. He had scoured the internet and knew for certain, that inside this store lay a hidden treasure of immense value. Issue number 13 of the Vanguard. He had, over 10 years of collecting comics, acquired 18 of the 20 issues of the Vanguard, one of his favorite comic series. It is so rare, not because of its popularity, in fact it is for the opposite reason, it’s obscurity. Green Light Comics specialized in indie titles, and thusly had come across one of the two issues he needed.

“Jude, are we gonna go inside, or just stare at the sign?” Zoey nudged him.

“Sorry.” Jude smiled. “Let’s go.”

Zoey nodded and followed him into the building. Inside, Jude saw a horde of people milling about hundreds of shelves. The store was actually not that popular before the green light hit, but once the name association took off, and supers became real, comics took off again.

He analyzed the shelves, and saw that the shelves were organized by publisher. The front of the store was largely dedicated to the biggest publishers, since that was what most people came here for. He began to make his way into the store, when out of the corner of his eye he spotted something. He glanced back to where Zoey was, and sure enough, she had noticed it before him.

“Jude, is that a cardboard cutout of you? That’s so cool!” She made her way into a throng of people, and went towards it.

Jude groaned and fell in behind her.

They steadily approached, and, sure enough, there stood a life-sized cardboard cutout of himself. He knew that the DSR had licensed a comic series for some of their more well known supers, but it looked like his was really popular. They eventually reached the front of the crowd, and Zoey had gotten her hands on a couple of issues, so Jude began to shuffle them out of the throng of people. He found himself shoulder to shoulder with his cardboard cutout, when he realized just how terrible of an idea it was to enter this particular crowd.

“Whoa, that guy looks just like Dayspring!” A voice called out of the crowd.

“No way, that is Dayspring!” Another voice shouted, loud enough for everyone to hear.

Jude sighed, and forced a smile. “Yup, that’s me.”

The next thirty minutes were the longest that Jude had ever experienced. He was mobbed by at least two hundred people for selfies, autographs, and handshakes, and he ended up obliging every one of them. He received three different business cards from people offering to sponsor him, and one person showed off their Dayspring tattoo. Two people showed off their superpowers to him, asking to join his team. To each of them he gave one of the business cards Josh had asked him to keep in his wallet. One of them had the ability to slowly make small metal objects, and the other claimed to be able to see for miles.

Eventually, an older man pushed his way through the crowd, and caught Jude’s attention.

“Mr. Dayspring! I’m so pleased you’ve come to my store, I’m Mr. Liefeld.” He shook his hand.

“Hello! I’ve actually come here looking for a particular comic.” Jude shouted over the crowd.

“Let us go upstairs, where we can discuss more quietly!” Mr. Liefeld led Jude out of a now disappointed crowd, through a door, and up into a room filled with shelves of boxes of comics. It was silent, except for what little noise seeped in from downstairs. “What were you looking for?”

“I heard you had issue 13 of the Vanguard, is that true?”

The man thought for a moment, then went into the back of the room. After a moment, he returned with a single comic in a sleeve, and handed it off to Jude. “Here you are! I see you are quite into comics! This came out in the 90’s, and wasn’t exactly popular.”

“I’ve collected them for a while.” He smiled as he looked down at his prize. “Now, I think the listing price was-”

“Oh, I can’t take payment from you! Do you have any idea how much you’ve boosted my sales? I started this place as a retirement project with the intent of losing money, but you and The Siren are some of my greatest sellers!”

“Are you sure?” Jude was surprised to be lumped in with The Siren. He was a super that actually operated in Nashville, and had built up quite a following. Jude wasn’t a fan personally, but he was aware of the success of the series.

“I insist. Now, I would like to ask a favor. Would you be willing to take a photo with me?”

Jude smiled. “Sure thing.”

Zoey sat on a bench, about a block away from Green Light, and stuffed the comic she’d just finished back into its sleeve. She looked down at her phone, and saw Jude hadn’t texted her anything else after he told her to get out of the store before she got recognized.

“Sorry about that.”

Zoey looked up, and saw Jude standing beside the bench. “It’s fine. I didn’t know you had your own comic.”

“Yeah, I don’t really keep up with it.” He answered, as he sat next to her.

“I grabbed a couple of issues before I left. Was Electrified really planning a takedown of the city’s power grid?” She handed him the issues.

Jude rolled his eyes. “Not even close. He was just a guy. Stuff like that is why I don’t read my own comic. Real people don’t make for well formatted comic arcs.”

“Oh…” Zoey looked down. She hadn’t meant to touch on a sensitive spot.

“Anyways…” Jude looked around. “I’ve made my stop, and your dad is waiting for us at the hotel, so why don’t we grab something to eat, and make our way back?”

“Sure.” Zoey grabbed her bag.

“Oh, wait…” Jude reached into his bag. “I got a few first issues I thought you might like.” He handed her a stack of ten or so comics.

“Wow, thanks!” Zoey thumbed through them. Most of them she didn’t recognize, but there were a few she did: ‘The Siren’, ‘Heavy Hitter’, and ‘Batman’. She put them in her bag with the other few she got, and followed after Jude.

Previous Part ______________ Next Part

Happy Pride traveler! I just released an album! Here’s all my links. You can also find it under the music tab in my navigation bar. I’m not sure exactly how much I’m going to do with this, but I had fun making it. If you’re here for my writing, don’t worry. I will still be uploading Earth 2, I’m just doing a little bit of rebranding as I combine more projects with this blog.

This does mean that there is now a way to directly financially support me! Just buy or stream my album! I’m going to look at a few things this weekend. I still have aspirations to set up a patreon and a kofi/paypal link or something, but I’m slightly busy right now, so don’t hold out hope for the patreon.

Photo Credit: Original

Afflictions: Part Twelve

You are joining part of an ongoing series: Earth 2

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

Jude sat in the passenger seat of Guillermo’s pickup, and watched the alternating fields and trees pass by. The even rumble of the car pushed him closer to nodding off. Everyone had talked a little at the start, but they’d been driving for a couple of hours, so the conversation died off. The radio was playing music earlier, but now it was just quite static.

Jude noticed a sort of dirt road breaking off of the interstate into a field. Off in the distance, he saw it led to a large white tent. That was easily the most interesting thing he’d seen in the last half hour, so he considered it for a moment. It was probably some kind of surveyors or something along those lines.

The radio began to switch from static to a man speaking. It was incomprehensible for a minute, but eventually it became clear enough.

“…And that’s the crux of my argument, Frank. I’m just not sure why we seem to be ignoring this. It clearly lines up with the scriptures of Revelations, the green light, the green horse of death. These supers are the fourth horseman, and we seem to just be welcoming death into our midst. You know what comes after the fourth horseman? The antichrist, and judgement day.”

“So, what’s the answer then, reverend? What do we do?” Another man spoke.

“Well, it’s a hard question to answer, Frank. I think we both know the answer, though. I’m not saying we should round them up or anything, but maybe some kind of monitoring. We’re talking about a quarter of life on earth, here. The DSR just isn’t enough. We need-”

Guillermo shut off the radio, and gave a halfhearted laugh. “I think that’s enough of that.”

Jude nodded, and glanced back at Zoey. She was looking out the window, and seemed a little glum. He was used to this kind of thing by now, but he figured it had to be hard on a kid like her. “Well, I’m really grateful you guys don’t mind me tagging along.”

“We’re really glad to have you, Jude.” Guillermo smiled.

“I’m not sure why Paul seemed so insistent on me going, but it’ll probably be good to get away from things. I haven’t had a vacation in forever.”

“We don’t go too often, but dad’s road trips are the best.” Zoey smiled. “I think a road trip is the best kind of vacation. Everybody gets to do something they’re excited about.”

“I don’t think I’ve ever been on anything I could call a road trip before, so you’ll have to show me the ropes.”

“Don’t worry, we’ll go easy on you.” Guillermo laughed.

“I wish Arte could’ve come too…” Zoey sighed.

“Well, Paul seemed pretty insistent that everybody else should remain home, so I hope I’ll be good enough.” Jude laughed.

“I didn’t mean it like that!” Zoey hurriedly replied, before sighing, “Jeez, quit messing with me.”

“Sorry,” Jude laughed. “So, Zoey. What are you most excited about? St. Louis?”

“Hmm.” Zoey thought for a moment. “I don’t know really. I think I’m happy just to spend time with you guys.”

“Aww, how-”

“No, actually hold on.” Zoey interrupted. “Dad, you said your friend has horses right?”

“He’s got a whole farm, horses included.”

“Yeah, I’m pretty hyped to ride a horse.” Zoey smiled.

Jude laughed. “So how do you know this guy again?”

“Well, he was my boss when we were younger. He managed a small store. He sent me a letter a couple of months ago inviting me, my family, and any friends I like to stay a week at his farm. He wanted to catch up.” Guillermo replied, glancing briefly at Jude, then back at the road. “He was a good friend. He helped me stay on the right path.”

“Sounds interesting. I don’t think I’ve every stayed on a farm before.” Jude thought for a moment. He never really left Gainesville, except for the one time his mom took him to Disney World. That’s the only vacation he’s ever been on.

“I don’t think I have either.” Guillermo replied. “I’ve mostly stayed in Atlanta, except on the few road trips I take with Zoey. We followed the Braves around for a week one time.”

“I think Jessica said he has family who owns land somewhere in North Georgia…” Zoey looked back out the window.

“Oh? Jessica, huh?” Guillermo thought for a moment. “I don’t think you’ve mentioned her before. Who’s that?”

“Just a friend…” Zoey didn’t turn from the window.

“Glad to hear you’re making new friends.” He smiled, but Jude thought he looked a little worried.

Zoey had been acting a little sluggish since that whole thing happened in California. She’d gone on a couple of missions since then, and they both went well, but she just seemed to be tired. He hoped he wasn’t pushing her too hard. He figured a vacation should definitely help. Absolutely free of worries about school and being a super, she can just be a kid. Arte had said to make sure she gets the break she needs, and he intended to do that.

It seemed the DSR was planning for his role to be mostly keeping up the public image of supers. He did a lot of public appearances, and speeches at schools and things. He did still do missions every now and then, but he’d only done three, and he had the entire team with him, which felt like overkill for the kinds of missions he got. One had been a robbery, and felt more like a PR stunt than a mission.

Regardless, he was on vacation now. He intended to relax and not do any work. Of course if something happened, he’d help, but he didn’t really think anything would. It didn’t feel like too much of anything happened these days.

Previous Part ______________ Next Part

Happy Pride traveler! I just released an album! Here’s all my links. You can also find it under the music tab in my navigation bar. I’m not sure exactly how much I’m going to do with this, but I had fun making it. If you’re here for my writing, don’t worry. I will still be uploading Earth 2, I’m just doing a little bit of rebranding as I combine more projects with this blog.

This does mean that there is now a way to directly financially support me! Just buy or stream my album! I’m going to look at a few things this weekend. I still have aspirations to set up a patreon and a kofi/paypal link or something, but I’m slightly busy right now, so don’t hold out hope for the patreon.

Photo Credit: Original

Afflictions: Part Eleven

You are joining part of an ongoing series: Earth 2

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

Paul sat alone in his room again. He’d just eaten an entire pack of saltine crackers, and he felt revitalized. Sure it had been two days since he’d slept now, but he had more important things to do. He had to keep his eyes open though, or else he’d fall asleep and waste time. For now he had even more mysteries to unfurl. Jessica had gone missing, and Vanessa was talking to Mr. Smith. It was best to avoid looking into Mr. Smith’s side of things too much, since he already knew plenty, and Felix could see him back.

A missing child was insignificant in the grand scheme of things, but perhaps if he could use his vision to end this early, something would change. The girl was significant to Zoey, after all. He’d have to manage it without help if he could, but he was sure he could manage. He cackled a little bit, and then cackled a lot at the fact that he had descended completely into madness.

“Very good.” He cut himself off, and slapped his cheeks to wake himself up.

He stared blankly forward into nothingness, and felt the world lurch around him. He concentrated on the missing girl. He needed to find her quickly. Perhaps he could guide her out himself if he found her.

He found himself standing outside in a corn field. It was night, but it wasn’t dark. In front of him was a large white tent surrounded by flood lights. The tent was patrolled by a few armed guards. He made his way inside of the tent.

Inside, a bunch of people in lab coats were running around, along with a few more armed guards. There were folding tables covered with various instruments, bottles, and papers. At the center of the tent was a man strapped down to an operating table. Scientists crowded around him, as he screamed out in agony. Paul noticed that he had several black tendrils emerging from his back, all of which were stretched out and pinned to the ground.

“Dammit! I don’t care about this! I’ve already seen this!” Paul shouted in frustration, and several people looked towards where he was standing. The world faded around him, and he was back to being blind.

Paul sighed and concentrated again. He didn’t need to see things he already knew about. He focused specifically on the concept of a female high schooler. It would be so much easier if he had something more than ‘Jessica, friend of Zoey’ to go off of. She wasn’t with Zoey right now, so that was useless.

The world lurched, and he found himself standing in the middle of a hallway. Lockers were around him, so presumably he was in a school. He questioned why he thought concentrating on the idea of a female high schooler would put him anywhere other than a school. Sure it was all he had to go on, but it was pretty much useless. Maybe ‘friend of Zoey’ would’ve been more helpful.

Paul began to pace around the hallway. He didn’t usually end up somewhere where nothing was happening, so he just had to find out what was going on. He supposed it might end up being useful in the end.

He heard some talking from a room with an open door. He peaked in and saw Zoey being talked to by some ginger guy with a cop buzzcut. She was looking dejectedly at the floor, and he kept going on.

“Zoey, you’re sleeping in everyone else’s class too. It’s not even just mine. How do you expect to learn anything if you aren’t willing to put in the time for your health? What’s going on?”

“Nothing.” She replied, not looking up.

The teacher looked at her for a moment and then sighed. “Well, I can’t help if you won’t tell me what’s going on. Let me know if you want to talk about it.”

Zoey nodded and started to exit the classroom.

“Really that’s it? God, I don’t care. Just show me Jessica, dammit!” Paul shouted in frustration and punched the wall. Naturally his fist just went through it.

“Hey, who was that?” Cop-cut shouted and started to move towards the hallway.

Paul groaned, and found himself back in his room. He began to contemplate just making a deal with the devil. He quickly dismissed the thought. He only had so much bargaining power, and he needed to save it for when he needed it. He leaned back, hit his head on the wall, and swore.

He was rubbing his head when he heard someone knocking on the door. He double checked to make sure he was wearing pants then replied. “Come in, what do you want?”

The door squeaked as it opened. “Are you okay? That was a loud bang.” It was Vanessa

“Yeah I’m fine.” Paul looked towards the door. “Is that it?” It was strange for her to just check in with him. Then again, if she heard it, she was probably in Anastasia’s room and just doing it for her.”

“Well, I also heard some cackling earlier, and…” She paused for a moment and stepped closer. “Wait, when’s the last time you slept?”

Paul considered the question for a moment. It was two days ago… He was pretty sure. He stopped himself from thinking about it. “Doesn’t matter.” He shrugged.

“When’s the last time you left your room?” She pressed on.

“I went out with Deven, like, yesterday.” He rolled his eyes. “Besides, you definitely don’t actually care, and it’s none of Anastasia’s business anyways.” It was best if he ended this quickly so he could get back to work.

Vanessa scoffed. “You are somehow even more of an asshole than when I first met you.” She began to storm out of the room, but turned back around. “And for your information, you went out with Deven three days ago.” She slammed the door behind her.

That was an interesting statement. Maybe he did fall asleep at some point. It wasn’t exactly like he enjoyed being an asshole either. He was just doing what was necessary. Either way, time was imaginary, so it was time to get back to business. He chugged a water bottle, stuffed a saltine cracker in his mouth, and started to concentrate. “I wonder what he’s up to…”

Previous Part ______________ Next Part

Happy Pride traveler! I just released an album! As in the very minute this post is uploaded. It’ll take me a second or two to link everything to the page, but here’s all my links! You can also find it under the music tab in my navigation bar. I’m not sure exactly how much I’m going to do with this, but I had fun making it.

This also provides a way for you to financially support me, if you so choose. You can either stream my album (don’t loop it in the background to make me money, as that’ll get me in trouble, but listen to it as much as you’d like) or buy it (I think, I’m not 100% sure that’s still a thing, showing my age here). I’m hoping to get a couple of other things like a Kofi or a patreon set up, but we’ll see how that goes.

If you mainly visit my blog for my writing, please don’t worry. I will still continue uploading at the regularity I always have, and Earth 2 will reach completion. I manage time for both music and writing fairly well so as to meet all my deadlines. In general, my writing deadlines supersede my music deadlines.

Thank you for reading, and especially thank you if you check out my album. Have a wonderful day.

Photo Credit: Original