a pile of ashes - ch01"Matt."The boy furrowed further into his arms, attempting to create a makeshift barrier between himself and the voice. He wanted to sleep more. It was much too early."Matt," the voice repeated, with more force now."Waisitnear?" Which, in English, roughly translated to, "What is it, Near?""You're drooling on your laptop."It took a moment for Matt to comprehend that the words "drooling" and "laptop" had just been used in the same sentence. It took another five moments for him to snap up, grab a tissue, and wipe furiously at the saliva that had collected."I wouldn't recommend you sleeping on your computer in the future, Matt." Near was mostly serious, but Matt was able to detect a hint of humor."I'll try not to make this a habit." For Matt, it was the opposite. He was mostly joking, with a hint of seriousness.Matt had finished his current hacking assignment late at night, and he thought it would be nice to rest his head a bit. Of course, before he knew it, he had slept for
To Save - Raz and SivRaz was honest. His feelings showed on his face, and he said whatever he thought, without compromise. Though the feelings and words were usually of annoyance or irritation, they were shown and spoken, nonetheless.Raz never lied. He never had any reason to lie, after all.Siv, on the other hand, was not honest. He hid everything behind fake, twisted smiles, lacing his words with sugar and caramel.Though Siv never lied, he also never spoke the truth. He never had any reason to tell the truth, after all.Raz never inflicted unnecessary pain. Siv revelled in it. Raz knew his limits. Siv barely had any idea of what the word meant. Raz never hated and never loved. Siv hated with passion and, though he would never admit it, loved with passion.A lot of people liked Siv.A lot of people hated Raz.But, similarly, the few that hated Siv, liked Raz, and the few that liked Raz, hated Siv.They themselves, however, were indifferent to each other. Or, at least, Raz was, as he always is. Siv wasn'
To Save - RazWhen Raz first tried to kill, his hand trembled violently, and he slipped, dropping the knife, letting the target escape. He got severely reprimanded and wasn't able to move correctly for months after, more out of fear than out of pain.Raz learned a valuable lesson from that.Never show weakness.Of course, on his second mission, he succeeded with the kill and was forgiven for his earlier mistake. It was only after everyone else left did Raz let his body get the better of him and vomited, all over the body, all over the ground.On his second kill, his hand shook slightly less, he didn't throw up, and he was able to put on at least a semblance of normalcy right afterward. On his third, he couldn't even remember the victim's face. And, from the fourth onwards, it was more of a chore to him than anything else. There was no more fear, no more uncertainty.It was just business.
91. DrowningIt was like falling, only moreso.It was like dying, only less-so.It was like drowning, he finally decided. Yes, like drowning, like falling and being smothered, being suffocated.It was a scary and calming feeling. It was a lot of different things all thrown together in the blender and blended imperfectly together.It was...It was losing yourself.It was losing everyone you knew.It was losing the world.Ariel was drowning.He had started drowning a long time ago, though he didn't realize it. (He had always thought he was a good enough swimmer. He had always thought he could stay afloat.) He had thought he could get back up, get back to dry land, but he couldn't, and didn't realize it.The first time he realized that he was really, without a doubt, really, really drowning was when his sister died. His world had shattered at his feet, a mess of blood and guts and organs and brain matter.Then, the dreams. Oh, the dreams.They made Ariel lose himself even more. Every single time he vi
65. HorrorThe look of horror on his face was priceless. And, Kina decided, that the whole thing had been worth the trouble, after all. Decorating her victims weren't her usual calling card, but this time was special. This time, the matter had been personal, rather than practical. She even had absolutely no qualms with going a bit farther than she had before with the preparations and with the torture that followed.It had been great fun.Now, it was simply fantastic.When the boy returned home to find her there, all the puzzle pieces seemed to automatically snap together and it turned out to be perfect. Oh, so perfect.Kina had even anticipated what he would do next, and she wasn't the least bit scared at the thought. Dying was what she had always expected (almost anticipated, actually). She was much more surprised that she was able to live this long already.So, when the boy, mad with rage and grief, grabbed a kitchen knife and stabbed her with it, Kina merely looked at him with a cold gaze and
39. DreamsAlice used to have dreams. She used to have a lot of them.Before she became the most powerful mage in the world, before she managed to break up the Demonic Order, before she was worshiped as a hero, she used to dream... She always used to dream. Every day, every night.But, now, there were no more dreams.There were no more dreams of the past, of the present, of the future.They were gone. They had fluttered away with the wind, with her magic, with her memories.They had first started drifting away from her when she stepped into the world of mages, of demons, when she decided to use her magical powers protect against destruction.Alice didn't notice when they first disappeared altogether.By the time that she had managed to enslave the great demon only known as Taint, they were already gone, and there was no hope of getting them back.Alice rarely regretted. But, the loss of dreams created a hole in her heart, and she couldn't help but feel secretly remorseful.It took her many, many
27. ForeignAnzu had gone to Hell.Literally.It wasn't bad. Really, it wasn't.The only things that bothered her about it was the feelings (uncomfortable, anxious, etc.) she always got when she was in a new, foreign place and the fact that she couldn't remember how she died. (It annoyed her a lot, actually.)But, really, those things start to matter less and less as she got more use to the place.And, really, Hell wasn't bad. Not at all. Anzu could even say it was pretty decent, or pretty good, if anyone asked (it was only a bit of a stretch, only a bit).It wasn't as hot as she had been told. (It turned out that Hell was on an entirely different plane than Earth and wasn't as close to the center of the world as everyone thought.) Besides, she couldn't feel heat or cold, anyway, considering that she was dead and all.The people weren't as scary as everyone had made them out to be. (They were more like...eccentric. Some were actually, dare she say it, quite pleasant and nice.) Besides, what