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Emotional Outlet

Mutual Destruction

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Michael stared at the woman in the mirror. He supposed averaging four hours of sleep over the past two weeks wasn't ideal, but hallucinations seemed excessive.


 


She seemed to blink when he did, mimicking his other movements perfectly. Even the number of teeth seemed to match as he ran his tongue over each one.


 


When he reached for the long dark hair that flowed over her shoulders in the reflection and grabbed an unexpected handful of hair, he took in a slow, controlled breath. The reflection smiled, the corners of her eyes crinkling and drawing attention to the faint bags that formed beneath.


 


He felt his lips part. “That’s enough for now.” The voice was feminine, static faint beneath the lilting sounds. “Rest your eyes, won’t you?”


 


Michael went to sleep.


 


===


 


Something stank.


 


Corben tried to roll over and go back to sleep, but was met with utmost resistance from his body. He groaned and took a mental step back, focusing his energy into opening his eyes.


 


It was painful, like soap rubbed under his eyelids. His arms wouldn’t cooperate long enough to let him rub the pain out, so he squeezed his eyes shut, forcing out the pooled tears. They tumbled over his cheeks hotly and still his eyes burned.


 


After a few orchestrated blinks, he managed to stabilise his vision long enough to examine his surroundings—or, at least, realise he was staring at the open predawn sky sandwiched between towering grey brick.


 


The smell hadn’t left either.


 


He tried to move again. It felt like he was lying on garbage bags, but he couldn’t get past how much his eyes hurt. Whether the bags were filled with pizza boxes or rotten fruit didn’t make much difference—he needed to get up. Corben grit his teeth and tried to launch his upper body forward.


 


When his back seized with pain instead of lifting, he swore he could crack a tooth. He clumsily groped the bags beneath him, trying to force some feeling into his limbs long enough to figure out what he was lying on. What little he could feel through the plastic was immediately recognisable.


 


Bottles. Broken bottles.


 


Corben laughed.


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“You’re being irresponsible.”


 


Natasha glanced up from her notebook, dragging the tip of her pen across the page. Her father stood in the doorway, still in his suit and tie with folio in hand.


 


“Your physics teacher called today.”


 


She sighed and sank into her beanbag, dropping the notebook and pen into her lap.


 


“Are you having problems at school?”


 


She scratched the base of her neck, tilting her head as she looked away. “It’s just one class.”


 


“Natasha, I—” His phone rang. She heard him tap the phone and launch into work mode, as though he were still at the office. She flicked her gaze towards the door in time to catch him walking away.


 


As his voice faded away, she looked down at her watch. Just past seven. She flipped to the back of her notebook, trying not to look at the scratched out lyrics and bars. Instead she focussed on the razor blade taped to the last page, right up against the spiral binding.


 


Her eyes flicked to her watch again. He was guaranteed to be on the phone for at least ten minutes.


 


She hoped it was enough time.

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This is very well written. Concise and sharp, there's practically no excess baggage. I also felt you did a good job projecting the characters from the Bios'. But more than that, it's really entertaining to read, ahah. Keep it up!! 
-^__^- V

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My writing is pretty spartan these days because I spend every day of my life editing and I was never much given towards purple prose anyway. I'm glad it comes across as concise instead of childishly simple, haha. Natasha's scene actually had a bit more dialogue, but away that went.


 


They'll all be fun together, especially parallel interactions between hosts and entities.


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Enjoying the concept and the writing, looking forward to more of it.


 


And you don't need a lot of description, sometimes best to let the reader just fill it in themselves.


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Oooh, this is dark I really like how your starting to form the character's. I hope some people start adding more characters. I get this weird feeling like I can't see what's gonna happen next.


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Alyssa sat at the bar, legs crossed at the ankles. She met the bartender’s eyes, drawing her near.


 


“What’ll it be tonight, honey?”


 


“Something sweet. Pink.”


 


The music pounded in her ears as she waited for her drink, mixed conversations rumbling beneath the beats. Two men sat at the other end of the bar, their gestures exaggerated and expressions grim.


 


Moments later the drink was placed in front of her. Alyssa handed over a bill and offered a smile, tilting her head towards the men. Returning the gesture with a nod and smirk of her own, the bartender stepped away.


 


She spun around on her seat, drink in hand as she scanned the dance floor.


 


Her gaze was quickly drawn by a woman near the edge of the crowd, commanding her own space on the floor. She spun two glowsticks on lengths of string, eyes half-lidded and lips pressed together with concentration as the spinning lights played over her.


 


Alyssa finished her drink and approached, leaving the empty glass on the bar. The woman spun the strings about her palms, catching the sticks as Alyssa sidled up and pulled her close.


 


The smashing of glasses and roar of voices drew the crowd’s attention, the argument from earlier now coming to a head, and the woman fell unconscious against Alyssa unnoticed.


 


She drank deeply, her chest fluttering with excitement as she let her drop to the ground.


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Face-down on the couch, flask held limply in hand, Corben tried to sleep. The stinging in his eyes never subsided, and the cuts in his back made the thought of showering unpalatable. It was a wonder he ended up anywhere near home.


 


With a grunt, he turned his head and brought the flask to his lips, draining the last of whatever was left. Rubbing alcohol or Everclear, it didn’t much matter. It burnt on the way down and that was good enough.


 


The pile of papers on the coffee table caught his eye. Bills. Loan and credit card offers. Collection notices. And a brightly coloured bit of paper to top it off—an eviction notice.


 


Corben pressed his face into the couch and played back his memories as best as he could.


 


Thrown out of a bar for brandishing a pair of scissors at a woman. Not like he was trying to hurt her, he just wanted a bit of hair. Red was so rare these days.


 


Stumbled home and found the notice on the door. Hard to miss, it’s bright pink. Obnoxiously pink. Prick couldn’t pick a more offensive colour.


 


He tightened his grip on the flask. The movement shot lighting up his arm and into his back. He hissed into the corduroy cushion, engulfing his face in a moist heat. Corben struggled to remember what came next.


 


Slammed the door, most likely. Neighbour probably said something. Definitely got to drinking at some point.


 


And it would have been a good stopping point. A logical one. He got drunk and ended up outside after making an ass of himself. Not like it never happened before.


 


Except he was certain there was more. No way he could even begin to imagine what he saw in the mirror.


 


Same messy mop of hair, same scraggly beard, same grungy Hawaiian shirt. The empty eye sockets were new, though. And when his arms dislocated themselves, Corben was fucking certain he wasn’t dreaming any of it.

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This was far from ideal, but it was hungry.


 


Months had passed since its last meal. Humouring Michael’s childish desire to lock himself away like the tortured artist he imagined himself as had finally worn thin its patience, to say nothing of his apparent inability to support himself financially.


 


Perhaps one day it will force him to accept its existence. That would certainly make keeping him alive less of a Sisyphean task.


 


For now, however, a meal was in order.


 


It stood in front of the club, a hand at its hip. Muffled music pounded, windows occasionally flashing with coloured lights. A brief surge of energy hit it, a warning from the primary.


 


After taking a moment to check in with Michael to ensure he was still sleeping, it stepped into the club, letting the wave of warmth and music wash over it.


 


The primary made itself apparent almost immediately—it stood at the balcony, glass in hand, its appearance outwardly masculine. Michael seized briefly, threatening to wake up, but was easily soothed back into slumber.


 


Determined, it wove through the undulating crowd and up the stairs, eventually leaning against the railing beside the primary. They exchanged glances.


 


“Are you lost, lamb?”


 


“Naught but a fool would tread carelessly into another’s den. A satisfying meal is all I ask for.”


 


The primary chuckled, a low and insincere sound. “What will you offer me? Have you a den of your own where I might be welcome?”


 


It let out a breath, brushing its thick hair behind its ear. It felt the primary’s roving eyes, noticed the way the primary moved ever closer. “I’m afraid you’ll not find comfort in this body, no matter how willing I may be. I can, however, acquire a suitable replacement in a week’s time.”


 


“If you are capable, what need have you for my charity?” The primary grabbed its arm, pulling it close, their noses nearly touching and breath mingling. When the primary noticed the move didn’t have the desired effect, it laughed, louder this time. “A shame to be trapped in such an unresponsive body.”


 


“A shame for you, perhaps.” It smoothed the fabric of its dress as it pulled away from the primary. “Fewer are crossing these days, you know.”


 


“That’s not my concern. Nor is it yours.” The primary gestured towards the dance floor below. “Find your meal there and be done with it. I’ll hold you to your word.” It smiled, taking a moment to lean in, pressing close and breathing deeply. “Don’t forget me, little lamb.”


 


“A task easier accomplished were you not so forgettable.”


 


The primary laughed again.


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Crystal awoke in someone else’s bed.


 


She pulled the covers to her neck, clutching them tightly. Sleeping beside her was a man, apparently naked and certainly unfamiliar. He snored, a cruel and grating noise.


 


Her clothes lay in a heap at the side of the bed. Slowly she slipped out of bed and gathered up her belongings, hurrying into the en suite bathroom. She closed the door and pressed her back to it, letting out a shaky breath as she pushed the lock.


 


Ax? Are you awake?


 


When no response came, she dressed, trying to remember what happened. A sudden urge to urinate struck her as she began to slip on her underwear. She quickly put the toilet seat down.


 


It burned. She bit her lip, restraining a shriek as she clamped her fists against her thighs, and waited for the fiery stream to abate.


 


She finished dressing in silence, occasionally casting sidelong glances at the mirror. As she fastened the final button on her blouse, she straightened her back and took in a deep breath, willing her pounding heart to slow.


 


Crystal stepped up to the mirror and was unsurprised to see Ax staring back at her. She tried to read his expression and came up with nothing; he pulled away from her, blocking her attempts to connect.


 


What happened?


 


He shook his head. It’s nothing you need concern yourself with.


 


I am concerned. It’s my body.


 


His response came quickly. Our body. I have given all you have desired, all you have asked for, so I may continue to exist. Forget not this arrangement is weighed heavily in your favour.


 


She narrowed her lips, matching his steady gaze with her own. Her fists tightened at her sides. The attempted guilt trip wasn’t going to cow her this time.


 


What did you do?


 


A human body is a fragile thing. A reality you seem intent on fleeing from.


 


I’m not running from anythi—


 


You’re not long for this world. This is my final demand.


 


Her lips separated, dry flesh tearing almost audibly as she drew in a sharp breath. You can’t—


 


A knock came at the bathroom door, commanding her attention briefly. Crystal cursed under her breath when she looked back at the mirror and saw nothing but herself.


 


===


 


A Note About Pronoun Usage


 


Entities do not exist within a gender binary, nor do they necessarily exhibit sexual dimorphism when not using a human form. They do understand the concept of a gender binary--it's just not applicable to them.


 


The shifting POV should reflect these concepts, but they might not! So, I will try to explain what I'm attempting to do.


 


The previous section with Michael's caracomi was written from its POV. Since it doesn't think of itself in terms of male or female, I used the pronoun "it". It also doesn't think of other entities in terms of a gender binary, so it also thinks of others as "it".


 


I could theoretically use other pronouns like ze or ey, but that might be more jarring than just using "it". Not to mention Michael doesn't seem like the type to concern himself with gender neutral pronouns, so it wouldn't know about these pronouns in the first place, much less have a preference.


 


The above section is from Crystal's POV and she does think in terms of a gender binary, so she assigns Ax masculine pronouns. Ax does not necessarily think in this way, so this isn't necessarily an inconsistency in world building, but the price I pay for shifting POV all over the damn place.


 


Hopefully this makes sense. If not, I can go back and switch out the "it" pronouns with "ze" pronouns to make things less confusing.

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Love what you did with my character EO! Nice work there.......not sure even I'm brave enough to go there. Hehe can't wait to read more! As for the pronoun usage, yes, I made the entity a male although I didn't know if they had a gender. Actually you've made sense so far, I don't see why you have to change it to match the others....... :)


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No worries about the gender thing! Even if it wasn't indicated in the sign-up, it'd still be reflected in the story. I just wanted to head off any confusion, since the style is pretty compact (compact for me, anyway) and stuff might end up lost in translation.


 


Mild spoilers below.


 


I think Ax's machinations (the goal of which is heavily hinted in their conversation) will likely end up playing a pretty big role in the story, since it fits with what I was going for in the first place. Hopefully it works out well, haha. The impression I got of their relationship ticked a lot of boxes for abuse for me, so it seems like something Ax would do to her.


 


There is still some mythos I need to get settled, but a lot of it is stuff that won't be relevant for a while.


 


Right now I'm just moving everyone into positions where they'll intersect at absolutely terrible moments--for them anyway. Their pain should be loads of entertainment for us, hohoho.


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No worries about the gender thing! Even if it wasn't indicated in the sign-up, it'd still be reflected in the story. I just wanted to head off any confusion, since the style is pretty compact (compact for me, anyway) and stuff might end up lost in translation.

 

Mild spoilers below.

 

I think Ax's machinations (the goal of which is heavily hinted in their conversation) will likely end up playing a pretty big role in the story, since it fits with what I was going for in the first place. Hopefully it works out well, haha. The impression I got of their relationship ticked a lot of boxes for abuse for me, so it seems like something Ax would do to her.

 

There is still some mythos I need to get settled, but a lot of it is stuff that won't be relevant for a while.

 

Right now I'm just moving everyone into positions where they'll intersect at absolutely terrible moments--for them anyway. Their pain should be loads of entertainment for us, hohoho.

 

Ahahahah poor us! We're in for a LOT of pain and sorrow from the sound of it. Haha, it was a really nice concept you've used for your story so do keep writing some more and post up here SOON!!!!!

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The cacophony of intermingling student voices filled Natasha’s ears. She sat at the top corner of the bleacher, surrounded by classmates whose names she could barely remember. Her hands moved carefully in her pockets.


 


She pushed her earbuds through the hole in her hoodie pocket and unzipped the jacket. She unfastened the safety pin near the zipper and secured the cord, leaving some slack.


 


After fluffing her hair and pulling up the zipper, she pushed the buds into her ears and shoved her hands back into her pockets. She unlocked the music player and pressed play, leaning back against the wall.


 


The colour guard marched onto the gym floor with pristine white gloves and rifles, black boots clicking in rhythm. Natasha watched the ceremony passively, letting her eyes droop shut as the song in her ears picked up.


 


Someone tapped her knee. She turned the volume down a few notches and looked around her. The girl next to her smiled and leaned in, her voice low.


 


“What are you listening to?”


 


“Nothing special.”


 


“That’s cool." Her eyes flicked away briefly. "Want to meet up after this?”


 


“I have to see Mr. Howard after this.”


 


“Physics?” She rolled her eyes. “Just bat your lashes at him and he won’t even give a shit. Come on.”


 


Natasha lifted her brows briefly before shrugging. “I’ll be there.”


 


The girl quietly celebrated, taking Natasha’s hands into hers cheerfully.


 


===


 


“Is this okay?”


 


“Yeah.”


 


“I appreciate it.”


 


“Sure.”


 


“Ah… is it going to be like this with Nathan, you think?”


 


“He’s your boyfriend.”


 


“He might be smaller.”


 


“Maybe.”


 


“Do you want me to…?”


 


“It’s fine.”


 


===


 


Natasha washed her hands in the sink, sticky and warm. Pink lip gloss smeared on her chest and neck caught the dim yellow light, highlighting shimmery lines that still burned hot.


 


She avoided looking into her reflection’s eyes. It was enough to deal with her father’s disappointment and constant nagging.


 


Natasha twisted the faucet and dried her hands, thankful to have something to look at besides her reflection.


 


A couple taps at the bathroom door pulled her from her thoughts. The girl leaned against the doorway; the long t-shirt she wore skimmed the tops of her scar-lined thighs. One of the few activities they did together.


 


“Hey, so, if you need help with physics, I can help you out.”


 


“It’s okay.”


 


She sighed and shifted her weight to her other hip. “Then why’d you have to see Mr. Howard for?”


 


“My father said I should.”


 


The girl made a noise Natasha supposed was sympathetic. Maybe it was sarcastic. It was hard to tell, and she didn’t much care.


 


“It’s okay. Really.”


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Realized that I hadn't commented in awhile. First off, amazing job so far. Quite enjoying the different arcs and how the sign-ups are being brought to life. My only criticism is that you are making me want to read more of suffering-filled posts. :)


 


Anyways, just as a question. Do you intend to throw all of the characters together in some crazy overarching plot of doom and terror (to them at least)?


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Yes, they all come together eventually.


 


The only one I'm having trouble with is Natasha unfortunately, haha. The others I can tie together, but she seems real intent on doing her own thing far away from the others. I have a couple of ideas rolling around that can get her in with the others, though. It's still too early to start panicking luckily.


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I look forward to the updates even more then. And sorry for creating such a difficult character to deal with, I have some ideas to link stuff up if you ever need to consult. But I won't spam your story thread too much, so I guess any real plot discussion should be done in the sign-up thread. Anyways, enjoy and we will wait patiently for more material.


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    • By Emotional Outlet
      Tangential Notes:

       





       

      ===

       

      Chapter One [Part One]

       

      The bedroom was cosy, bordering on spartan with its limited personal touches. A glass vase with two sun-faded paper flowers attached to bits of wire. An errant comb, a few strands of hair woven into its teeth, next to a small stack of dogeared magazines long since out of date. Windows curtained and shut, the bright sunlight outside was barred entry. The walls were blank, a faded beige that might have been white at some point.

       

      Blank, save for the wall behind the bed. A mirror, wall to wall and floor to ceiling, reflected the room in its entirety. Its surface was clean and unbroken, not a single scratch or speck of dust to be found despite the headboard pushed directly against it, the sheets and comforter on the mattress in disarray.

       

      Felicia’s voice came through the closed door from the hallway, words dampened to murmurs. The door was pushed open, marked by a slight pop as it moved past the frame. She pressed her phone to her ear with her shoulder, a bowl of cereal in her hands. Shadows had formed beneath her eyes, her dark brown hair pulled back into a messy ponytail.

       

      She set the bowl on the nightstand and pushed the blankets aside. “No, I just got back from the lab. What’s up?” She sat down on the bed, perching her feet on the edge of the bed frame.

       

      “Tim.” She let out a breath. “Tim, stop. I don’t think she hates you. Your sister just turned, what, thirty? Thirty-one. She’s been in the spotlight since she was your age—that’s an entire decade in front of the camera, of her name being plastered everywhere in magazines. She’s not as young as she used to be.”

       

      Felicia switched the phone to her other ear and picked up the bowl. She popped a few spoonfuls of cereal into her mouth. The flakes were beginning to get soggy. “Much as I love to hear you suffer,” she said, putting the bowl down, “I don’t think that’s why you called me this early on a Sunday. Early for you, anyway. What’s going on?”

       

      There was a pause as she listened, a grin spreading across her face as she snickered. “Are you kidding me? Come on, isn’t Steve going? Aren’t you guys—” Another pause. The smile on her face immediately disappeared. “Oh. Oh. Shit, I’m sorry. I didn’t… I hope they work it out. Have you asked Amy to go with you? Not my sister, Le—Bev’s daughter. She’s in town for a few weeks, isn’t she?”

       

      Another pause. Felicia rubbed her forehead. “Figures she’d already have plans. All right, all right. I’ll go with you. It’s tomorrow night? Okay. I’ll see you at seven.” She hung up the phone and sighed, staring at the blank screen for a while.

       

      Her eyes flicked to her reflection in the mirror. She put a hand to the glass and, for a moment, she thought that it began to ripple beneath her fingers. Something in her stomach seized and excitement crept up on her. She closed her eyes.

       

      All she felt was its surface, solid as ever. She scolded herself silently for getting worked up and turned on her phone.

       

      The background was somewhat distorted, just a touch too wide for the phone’s resolution. It was a picture of her as a teenager, with a ridiculous head of multi-coloured streaks she absolutely insisted was vital to her personality. Leon was carrying her on his back, a goofy grin on his face.

       

      She frowned.

       

      Here she found herself, sitting on a bed that had seen more people than she would like to admit, a mostly full bowl of cereal waiting for her on the nightstand, staring at an old picture…

       

      And all she could think about was what she was going to wear tomorrow. A welcome distraction to be sure; it would be nice to be able to get away from the house. Felicia cast a sidelong glance at the mirror. Among other things.

       

      She couldn’t shake what had happened. The mirror moved—she was convinced of that much. She dropped the phone on the bed and stood up, taking the bowl.

       

      What more was there for her to do? Wait in front of the mirror for days like she used to? She was years away from sixteen—talking with Tim reminded her of that much. Of course, she was also years away from thirty. A small smile touched her lips.

       

      She left the room, closing the door behind her, pulling it roughly to get it to stay shut.

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