Tainted fortune

Hello!

So my last bout of productivity was somewhat short-lived. At least on here. Behind the scenes I’ve been working on restructuring Withered Legacy and that’s going better than I expected! I even have what might pass for a poor excuse of an outline, which is a lot for me, so yay! Here’s to getting more writing done!

Today’s post is inspired by  Our Write Side’s Master Class Monday prompt series. Provisional Freedom is still kind of in limbo while I figure out what’s next for Paola. In the meantime, though, there’s plenty of angst and personal drama to explore with her, so the story will consist of smaller moments – less grand than the overall stories of Videl, Ariella, and Emma. Maybe that’s what her story will be  – despite the supernatural, she’ll try living a normal life. We’ll see.

Prompt: Mused mourning/Tainted fortune

~~~

Is it weird I can’t remember how my mother died? Ever since I saw her in purgatory, it’s like that experience replaced the memory. My dad never talks about it, and I can’t bring myself to ask. Max would probably know, but something inside me stops me from asking them. Maybe it’s better not to remember. The anniversary of her death is coming up – I only know that because of the date stamp on her grave – and the closer we get to it, the more my dad shuts down. It’s been about a year since I came back, and I’ve done the math. It happened on the anniversary last year.

In small ways, I’ve tried to reassure my dad it won’t happen again. I don’t even know why I did it in the first place. Still, the look in his eyes when he realizes what I’m trying to say isn’t one of relief.

At Max’s suggestion, I’ve been spending more time at home. Maybe I’ll go back to school, too, but I don’t know how that could work. How would I be able to focus on papers and homework when none of it matters – at least not to me. To be honest, I’m surprised my father hasn’t been more vocal about a return to a normal routine. After all, it’s been a year.

Pa?”

“Hm?” He looks up from his morning newspaper. It’s like this every morning before he goes to work. I make breakfast and we sit together in silence. It’s not awkward or uncomfortable silence – it just is.

“I was thinking…that maybe, um, it’s about time I go back to school.” My eyes wander around the room as I speak, unwilling to meet his when the suggestion registers.

“That’d be great, mija.” As always, his eyes carry a melancholy kind of tranquility, but there’s hope there, too. Is it wrong to give him that hope, when it’s only a matter of time before I have to disappear? “Have you given any thought to your major?”

“Not really, no. To be honest, I don’t know if I’m ready to go back yet, but I think I should try.”

He reaches across the table and places a hand on mine. “Whatever decision you make, I’m here with you.”

I wasn’t really expecting this to turn into an emotional moment, but the words catch in my throat and the beginnings of tears prickle behind my eyes.

“Just let me know when, and we can start looking at schools.” My dad squeezes my hand for a split second before standing. With a smile, he places a kiss on my forehead before heading out to work.

~~~

And that’s it for now. The beginnings of something resembling a plot! Woo!

As always, think happy thoughts!

Borrowed Happiness

Hello!

I’ve started off the week on the right foot, so hopefully it holds! Had a pretty productive weekend so I’m hoping that carries over into the next few days. We’ll see.

Today’s post comes courtesy of Our Write Side’s Master Class Monday prompt series. Now that I’m only juggling two serials instead of three, I’m hoping to alternate every prompt response. Since my last one was A Vampire’s Bride, today’s will be Provincial Freedom. I’m still not sure where Paola’s story is going, but hopefully she reveals it to me soon. She’s a bit more difficult than the others, but I guess that’s understandable, given her circumstances.

Prompt: Borrowed happiness

~~~

Max has been making more of an effort to check in with me. Not that they have any news to report about my condition, but it does make me feel better – like I’m not alone. I’ve also taken their words to heart – about my dad worrying about me – and have made a similar effort to spend more time with him and less in a radioactive wasteland. After all, isolating myself isn’t really helping me cope. My dad has even started smiling again, something I hadn’t realized was missing until I started paying attention. I want to kick myself for letting it go on this long. How long since I came back from the dead? A few months? And all this time I just kind of ignored him.

“I’ve got it. You can go watch TV. Your show comes on soon.” I move to clear the table, a smile on my face at the look of relief and gratitude in my dad’s eyes. I guess it’s the little things.

“You sure, mija?” He places his dishes on the counter by the sink.

“Yeah, it’s okay. I wash them faster anyway.” My sleeves are already rolled up to my elbows. He gives me a kiss on the forehead before retreating into the living room. His happiness is almost contagious, and I find myself smiling at nothing in particular.

“You seem to be doing better.” Once, the unexpected sound of Max’s voice would have made me drop the plate in my hands. Now, I just take it in stride and wait until I hear the TV in the other room before responding.

“A little. Yeah. It’s funny, though. I can’t help but feel I’m living on borrowed time, you know? Like this fleeting, tiny joy has a time limit on it. Or it doesn’t really belong to me.” It’s a feeling that’s been nagging me for a while. My dad is happy now, but I can’t stay here forever, can I? He’ll notice eventually that I’m not aging. And even if Max fixes my immortality problem, I’ll still be leaving my dad behind.

“It’s what you make of it that matters, Paola. Don’t get hung up on its potential brevity.”

“Easy for you to say. You’re an angel. You don’t have these problems.”

“You’re right, but I’ve been around for a long time. Watched a lot of humans waste their lives worrying.  There isn’t much you can do about your current situation, so just make the best of the time you have with your dad. You’ve been given a second chance. Don’t squander it.” They lean against the counter, arms crossed, watching me through serene eyes. I’d kill for that kind of serenity.

~~~

And we slowly continue to inch forward. After writing this I have a bit of an idea of how this will move forward – how Paola will make the best of her time. Here’s to coming prompts providing the necessary inspiration 🙂

As always, think happy thoughts!

Tainted beauty, marked soul

Hello!

Posts on consecutive days? Unheard of! Don’t get used to it, either. Today is a special occasion, since we’re closing out Secondhand Soul (for now). That’s not to say we’re bidding farewell to Videl and Marcus – there’s still a lot of unresolved issues there. Just that we’re bringing Videl’s origin story to an end and shifting focus to Paola and her troubles for a while.

So let’s get on with it! The prompt I’ll be using is another of this week’s Master Class prompts at Our Write Side.

Prompt: Tainted beauty

Happy reading!


When I wake up, I’m alone. There’s no way to tell how long I’ve been out, or even where I am. The room is small – more of a closet, really – and there’s a single light hanging from a chain. It swings back and forth in a non-existent breeze, shifting the shadows about the space. It’s cold, forcing me to huddle in a corner and hug myself in an attempt to conserve warmth. I’m so consumed by the cold I almost don’t notice the oddest part of the room – it doesn’t have doors or windows.

How the hell did I get here? I push through the cold, the nerves prompting me to get up.

“Hello? Can anyone hear me?” My voice bounces back, grating on extra sensitive ears. Panic threatens to overtake me, and I’m no longer sure if I’m shivering from the cold.

~~~

I’ve never felt so useless – as a human or demon.

Videl has been lying there for the better part of a day, with still no improvement. More of her skin has turned to purple-tinted charcoal, the infection – at least, that’s what Max called it – spreading so that it covers her entire arm, most of her leg, and even a portion of her face and neck. It’s probably covering even more under her clothes. As I watch, her arms turn bloody.

“How’s she doing?” Max enters the room behind me.

“I don’t know. She hasn’t moved. The infection doesn’t seem to be actively spreading anymore, but it’s also not receding.”

“The stasis I put her in won’t let it spread. She’s safe for now. Take comfort in that.” They place a hand on my arm. “I spoke to my father, but there’s nothing he can do, since her soul belongs to Lucifer.”

“So what do we do now?”

“Hope she can fight it off on her own. She’s resilient. I have faith.”

“Easy for you to say.”

“I have a feeling she’ll surprise us. Especially since she was able to wield an angel blade.”

“It nearly killed her!” Turning around, I walk away from her and across the room.

“The operative word being ‘nearly’. It definitely would have killed you. For someone who’s soul belongs to my brother, hers is surprisingly pure. Likely because of the circumstances under which it came to be his in the first place.” Max smiles, like they don’t have a care in the world.

~~~

“Hello!!” My throat is raw, and the word ‘hello’ has lost all meaning. I’ve punched the walls I don’t even know how many times, but still I’m trapped.

The damn light won’t stop swinging, nearly hitting my head each time I pass under it. My frustrations getting the better of me, I grab the lightbulb and yank it out of the ceiling, plunging myself in darkness. I’m not sure if this is better or worse than before.

As my eyes adjust to the dark, sparks twinkle in my vision. I blink, hoping they’ll go away, but they  don’t. It takes a moment for me to realize the sparks aren’t in my vision, but in the air around me. I try to get close to one, try to reach out and touch it. It burns when I do, triggering a blinding light that forces me to shield my eyes.

When I open them again, I’m not in the dark anymore. Instead, I’m in another room, this one more of a large chamber. I feel like I’m being watched, stalked by something urging me to move forward. My steps echo on a floor that seems made of black opal as I approach the center of the room. There, a body floats in mid-air. I don’t recognize her until I get close enough to touch it – it’s me, but her skin is incandescent, letting off a soft glow that lights the area immediately around us. Something about her exudes purity, and I’m not sure how, but deep down I know what she is.

It’s my soul. The very thing that got me into this whole mess in the first place. She’s pretty, innocent, and I almost resent that fact. She’s everything I’m not and will never be again. I want to touch her, but I have a feeling it’ll burn worse than the spark did before.

A sound off to my left makes me turn. There’s a figure at the edges of my soul’s light, hovering just out of reach. I can’t make it out, but something inside me twists with fear and a sudden urge to protect my soul at all costs. The longer I watch it hover, the more difficult it becomes to figure out exactly what it is. All I can make out are two eyes, but they’re not focused on me. They’re focused on her.

When it launches itself at her, I don’t know what else to do but intercept it. We collide and fall to the floor with a thud, as what feels like tendrils of smoke wrap around me, suffocating me. I can’t move, so I stop struggling. Above us, as the darkness overtakes me, slipping inside me and seeping into my skin, my soul continues to hover.

At least she’s safe.

~~~

“Videl! Videl!” My whole body burns, but I latch onto the sound of Marcus’ voice. Something light touches my face, prompting my eyes to open. I have to blink several times before I get used to the light, but I immediately know where I am. Beneath me, my bed has never felt more comfortable. As my vision clears and the burning stops, Marcus’ face comes into focus.

“H-Hey.”

He pulls me up in response, wrapping his arms around me in an embrace I never thought I’d feel again. “You’re okay.”

“I think so?” I look down between us, noting that my hand – the one burned by the blade – is tinted in dark purple, almost black. “What happened to my hand?”

Marcus pulls back, uncertainty in his eyes. “It’s not just your hand – the infection left its mark.”

I follow his line of sight to the window by my bed. In the reflection, I notice that a portion of my face is the same color.

“Good to see you’re feeling better.” Lucifer’s voice distracts us, and we both immediately stand at attention.

“Relax.” He waves his hand, as if dismissing the formality. Lucifer smiles as he watches us sit back down. “It looks like I got more than I bargained for with you, Videl.”

“What do you mean?”

“That blade is a demon-killer. One-hit kill, so to speak, but something in you fought back. All it managed to do was pull your demon nature from your soul.”

“So am I…?”

“Don’t get your hopes up. Looks like you patched yourself back up again. Still a demon.” This time, he smirks. “Be more careful in the future, though, will you? I doubt it’ll work like that a second time.”

“Yes, sir.” I only let a second pass before I ask, “My family? Are they okay?”

“Yeah – Max took your siblings back to your mother. They don’t remember a thing.” The news that my siblings won’t recall any of the time I spent with them hurts, but I know they’re better off. Marcus seems to sense this, taking my hand in his. The gesture doesn’t escape Lucifer. His eyes flick to our hands before looking up at us again. “I’ll leave you to it, then. The witch community is in a frenzy over what just happened. I have some damage control to do.”

“You don’t have any assignments for us?”

“Not yet. For now, lay low. Don’t need the other demons thinking they can split their souls like you did.” He narrows his eyes at me. “I’ll call you when I need you.”

“Yes, sir.” We both stand and bow before he disappears.


And that’s that. Like I said, this isn’t the end of Videl’s story, just the close of this arc. I’ll definitely be visiting them again later, especially in Provisional Freedom. And, of course, this’ll get its own novella someday. Consider these serials very rough first drafts 🙂

As always, think happy thoughts!

Brazen whispers

Told you I’d be back! ICYMI, check out this morning’s post on why I’ve been MIA.

As usual, today’s post comes courtesy of Our Write Side’s Master Class Monday prompt series. As I’m writing this bit, I haven’t actually written my response (I usually do that after my blurb at the top of posts), but I’m hoping this post brings an end to Secondhand Soul. I know, that kind of comes out of nowhere, but I really think I can end it, or at least bring resolution to the grandma story line. Introducing Paola brought about a whole new set of issues for our characters, so I think it’s time to wrap up Videl’s origin story and get into a little more of what’s going on with the other characters. If the story as a whole feels rushed, don’t worry! I intend to eventually go back (with all my serials, not just this one) and flesh the stories out into novellas (my real ambition is visual novels, but that’s a whole different monster I’ll take on in the future). Of course, they’ll be available for free.

Anyway, to the fiction!

Continue reading

Two Word Tuesday – Ennui

Happy Friday!

Almost decided to forego putting up a post this week, but here I am! And for once, it won’t be for A Vampire’s BrideSecondhand Soul is quickly approaching its end (maybe that’s why I’m dragging my feet on it), so here’s to keeping it moving forward. Still not sure if Provisional Freedom is going to continue past its end, either.

Today’s post comes from another Our Write Side prompt series, Two Word Tuesday.

Prompt: Ennui/Boredom

~~~

It’s hard to concentrate on what Max is saying. I’m not bored, not really, I just care less about what they’re saying than I do about why Marcus seems so uncomfortable. Does he think Videl and I don’t notice his fidgeting? That his eyes – those terrifyingly deep pools of molten, green-tinted tar – continue to dart my way? He seemed fine when he first walked in, and I have a feeling this goes deeper than the fact I stared at him. Why have I made him so uncomfortable?

Max mentions purgatory, and my awareness returns to him. “Wait, what?”

“Were you not listening?” They’re annoyed, the first hint of emotion I’ve seen from them since they pulled me from limbo.

“Sorry.” I look away from Marcus and Videl. “I zoned out.”

“I said – we intend to trap the witch in purgatory. She’ll be stripped of her magic there.” Right – some kind of witch was giving both the angels and demons trouble. Something about a deal with the devil. To be honest, I don’t want to know more than I need to, so I didn’t ask questions.

“How are you going to do that?” Now I’m interested.

“That’s where you come in. We pulled you out to help us. Your mother is a placeholder. She’ll take her place.”

“I thought you said I’d be going back? And why couldn’t you just pull me out and drop the witch in? Instead of my mother?”

“Subduing the witch isn’t easy, and no one here is immune to her magic. Except for you.” Max crosses their arms. “Purgatory has that effect on people – its energy lingers on souls that have been pulled out. A nice side-effect is that your being near her will dull her magic. Not to mention you can’t be killed.”

“What?” This would have been nice to know.

“Did I not mention that?”

“No, you didn’t.” A new tension enters the room. A part of me wants to say ‘screw it’ and refuse. It’s only the look on Videl’s face that stops me. There’s a desperation behind her carefully controlled demeanor. Besides, I don’t think angels pull souls out of limbo for fun – especially if we can’t die after. That witch must be really bad if it’s worth the risk. With a sigh, I continue, “Whatever – as long as my mother gets out of purgatory.”

I’ll figure out what to do about my immortality later.

“She will.” Max directs their attention back to Videl. “Lucifer will take care of the specifics – leading your grandmother into another deal, trapping her in the summoning circle. She can still use her magic even when she’s trapped, so that’s where Paola will come in.” They turn to me. “You’ll be protecting Videl’s mother. We don’t want the witch doing anything that might hurt her when she realizes she’s trapped.”

“And us?” Marcus finally speaks.

“We’ve received word that the witch won’t be working alone. Seems she’s managed to get some angels to turn coat.” Max says this like it’s no big deal, but Marcus’ face makes it clear that it is. “So you’ll be standing guard, making sure no one interferes. Lucifer might be strong, but he’s just an angel, like me. He’ll need the protection from our siblings.”

“Great.”

“And Eva and Mikey?” Videl’s eyes glance to the ceiling.

“I’ll take care of them, keep them away from the danger.” Max’s voice is actually comforting, and I wonder who Eva and Mikey are that they’re so important. “I’ll go let Lucifer know I’ve told you the plan. Your grandmother is preparing for the summoning ceremony as we speak. She’ll probably do it in the next few days.”

At that Max disappears, and I’m left with Videl and Marcus, the room as uncomfortable as ever.

“I’ll take you home, Paola.” Videl stands from her place beside Marcus, shooting him a look I can’t decipher. Now that the angel is gone, Videl and Marcus’ marks have disappeared. Videl’s arms are clean of any blood, and Marcus’ eyes look normal – a vibrant green not unlike mine.

I don’t argue and simply follow her out the door.

~~~

And we’re one step closer! At least there’s a plan in place. Probably a plethora of plotholes, too, but oh well. Someday I’ll get around to cleaning it up.

As always, think happy thoughts!

Broken Moon

Happy Friday!

I’m slacking, worse than usual. It’s been an odd past few weeks, filled with moments of extreme motivation as well as extreme lethargy. It sucks, because I want to do things but can’t bring myself to actually start doing them. On the bright side, I have done a little bit of writing.

Also, I bought a new laptop this week, so having a new toy should motivate me to work more – maybe. I’ve also started tip-toeing into the world of game development, in an attempt to exercise my story-telling skills through a new medium. The dream is to some day write for video games, so this is a good step in the right direction.

As for today, we’ll be dedicating some time to Provisional Freedom, my most neglected of serials. Today’s prompt comes from Our Write Side’s Master Class Monday prompt series, and I’ll be using the “Broken moon” prompt for inspiration.

Happy reading!

~~~

After being brought back from the dead, I thought it was impossible to really feel nervous about anything. What would there be to be nervous about, when the worst case scenario had already happened? Well, you’d be surprised.

I tapped my foot, the only way I could think to direct and expel my nervous energy as I stood outside the intimidating house. Really, I never thought a house could be intimidating, either. The structure loomed over me, though, as if trying to scare me away. It seemed to create a kind of haze around itself, too, causing the moon to look like it was broken and hastily glue back together. It made it hard to look at, hurting my eyes and making me want to look away.

“Why does it look like that?” I couldn’t keep the question from bubbling up out of my throat as I finally gave in and let my eyes slide down to the ground, watching my tapping foot.

“Can’t have people wanting to approach it, can we?” Max hadn’t spoken much after showing me the demons. Most of my questions went unanswered, or they would just give me a look that said I didn’t need to know. I was surprised they’d deemed this question answerable.

“Who would ever stumble upon it out here, though?”

“You can never be too careful.” Max took one more look at the house before looking at me. “Well, time to meet your new comrades.” Was it me, or were they trying a little too hard to sound cheery? “Try not to stare – it’s rude.”

“Stare at what?” But Max didn’t answer, maybe because they didn’t hear me or they didn’t want to, I wasn’t sure. I followed after them as they walked up the pathway to the front door. Each of my steps were like lead, until we finally made it to the front door. Why was I so scared? I’d already died, been brought back, and had an angel hovering over me. And these demons were supposed to work with me, so I shouldn’t have been scared.

When the door opened, we were greeted by a young woman, probably some years older than me. The first thing I noticed were her forearms – they were drenched in blood. I couldn’t help but stare. The blood seemed to be flowing freely – fresh. I’m pretty sure Max sensed my need to run, because they placed a hand on my lower back to keep me still. The second thing I noticed was that she was the woman Max showed me before – one of the two demons.

“Max.” The demon scrutinized Max, her brow coming up at the sight of me. “What are you doing here, and since when do you bring friends?”

“Consider her reinforcement. She’s going to be helping us with the current situation. May we come in?”

“Okay…Marcus just stepped out, but we can wait for him to get back.” She stepped aside and let us in. Inside the house, it seemed silly that I was nervous before. It was perfectly normal, all things considered. There was nothing off-putting about it, except for the blood endlessly dripping from the demon’s arms. It continued to drip, but the drops never made it to the floor. They just disappeared. She caught me staring.

“You get used to it.” She led us down the hall and to the living room. “Are you hungry?”

“N-No. I’m good.” She must have heard the fear in my voice. Something in her eyes looked hurt before she directed her attention to Max.

“You know, next time you decide to bring a kid along with you, you might want to give her a head’s up of what she’s walking into.” She glared at Max, her annoyance as thick as the blood on her arms.

Max simply shrugged and waved off the demon’s concern.

“I’m sorry.” I didn’t expect an apology from her, so it was difficult to hide my surprise. “About the blood. I know it’s unnerving. Just try to ignore it. That’s what I do when Max is around – it’ll go away once they leave.”

“What?”

“Long story – it basically marks me as a demon. I can usually hide it but not in the presence of divinity.” She motions to Max. “Marcus has a similar issue, but with his eyes. You get used to it – just don’t freak out when he gets here.” Again, she turns to Max. “That’s how you give someone fair warning, for the record.”

This time, Max chuckles. “You did it much better than I could have.”

“You have an awful sense of humor.” The demon rolled her eyes before turning to me.  “Anyway, I’m Videl. I’d offer to shake your hand, but…”

“Paola – and no need.” I tried not to be rude, but the thought of touching her hands shot a chill through me. Videl seemed nice enough, though, so I did my best to relax a little. Maybe working with demons wouldn’t be so bad.

~~~

That’s probably the loosest interpretation of a prompt yet. At least I wrote something down.

Next time, Paola meets Marcus! I have some things swimming around in my brain regarding them, so here’s hoping the prompts offer the proper circumstances…

As always, think happy thoughts!

#ThursThreads – Cross-Over!

Happy Thursday!

Didn’t think I’d get around to actually writing a post for today, but here we are. It’s a special treat – a cross-over! Today’s prompt comes courtesy of #ThursThreads.

Prompt: “We are being watched.”

Happy reading!


“We are being watched.” The sensation drips down the back of my neck, every hair standing on end with the awareness of someone’s eyes on me.

“I know.” Marcus whispers his response, though if someone’s watching us, they can probably hear us, too. Both of us maintain an image of relaxation, as we continue to lounge on the couch- my siblings are asleep upstairs. My partner continues to read through some files, while I browse the same old copy of Faustus.

~~~

“And you expect me to work with a pair of demons?” The two people seem normal enough – a man and a woman, both sitting in a living room, wrapped up in their own work – and I wouldn’t have thought them demons if Max hadn’t told me so. At my question, the angel removes the scene from my television screen with a wave of their arm. What appears next is a scene in a bedroom with two sleeping children.

“Yes – they’ve been tasked with taking care of these children. They’ll need all the help they can get when it comes time to return them to their mother.” Max leans back in their seat, eyes thoughtful when considering the children on the screen.

“Why were they taken away in the first place?”

“It’s a long story, and you’re not here to ask questions. This is your assignment. I can’t be there when the exchange happens – you’ll be attending in my place.” Really? My mother took my place in purgatory for this?


And we kill two birds with one stone! Hooray for updating Provisional Freedom and Secondhand Soul. Still not sure how I’m going to introduce Paola to Videl and Marcus, but the moment draws nearer.

Be sure to check out the other responses at the prompt throughout the day!

As always, think happy thoughts!

Update: Got an Honorable Mention! Woo!

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