I'm male.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

#5 Flames

I got the hell out of there as soon as the screaming happened, of course. I was thoroughly creeped out myself, but I knew better than to stick around after someone died. Running always got me out of trouble, and it worked here, too.

The town quieted down after that. The whole month of November passed by in a flash. Frankly, I can hardly remember anything anyone did during that time. After that, people started putting up holiday decorations. I took a few of the ones I figured I could get to a fence in a different part of town, but some of them were plain out creepy.

Take the wreaths, for example. Nobody has a clue who put them up, but they're on everyone's door. Including mine. And every time you walk by, it bursts into flames. People have tried to move them, or look for an ignition line, but nobody can seem to find anything abnormal about it that would let it burst into flames. And even weirder, it never burns out. Some of the more religiously inclined members of our town have started worshiping them. They call it the Christmas Cult, and they dress up as Mariah Carey and sing "All I Want for Christmas Is You" around town. I try to avoid them.

On Christmas day, a present showed up at my door. I allowed myself a small smile. There's only one person who even knew where I lived, let alone get me a gift. Guin. I had given back her wallet by now, of course, saying that she must have dropped it that first time we ran into each other. She felt enormously grateful, and keeps finding time to meet up. For some reason, I agree. Life seems a little less grim around her.

I opened the box. Hah. Pepper spray. I had been joking to her earlier about how this was a dangerous part of town, and apparently she took that to heart. Well, I wonder what she would think of my gift.

I met her later at the tree lighting. She was wearing the sweater I gave her. It used to be my mothers.

She looked beautiful.

We sat under the starts, and kissed as the tree was lit. It was perfect.

And then it fell apart. I said something that crossed the line, she got mad and demanded an apology, my stupid pride wouldn't give it. She stormed away in huff, I ran down the stairs and out of the building.

Eventually, for some reason, I found myself at the laundromat.

"Don't think I've seen you before," said Debra.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

#4 - Death

Huh. Looks like I'm dead.

Everyone in the building had an invite to the party. It was supposed to be one of the "murder mystery" parties that upper class socialites enjoy. Not really my scene. Lots of people, lots of noise, lots of problems.

But lately people hadn't been too bad. I ran into Guin a few more times, and we even hung out last weekend. She told me she got an invite, too, although she wasn't one of the main characters. So I figured maybe I could go.

That's when I glance at my role. I'm the murdered person? It says that I'm supposed show up, and when the lights go off, I lie down on the table. The charming host even sent me some fake blood to use.

Heh. I guess he knows me pretty well. I don't mind being dead. I don't have to talk to people that way.

The party went pretty smoothly, at first. I showed up, talked to Guin a bit, she tried to figure out my role. I wouldn't tell her, though. She'll see soon enough.

Then, as my letter said, the lights went off. I found the table and stretched out. Time to not move for an hour.

That's when I heard a scream, and someone else bumped into me. The lights came on.

Guess I'm not the only dead one around here.

Monday, October 3, 2016

#3 - Mud

Some random group was hosting a "forum" or whatever at the bar. My dad said I should go, and make friends or whatever. I think he forgot that the drinking age was twenty one. Well, I might as well see if I can sneak one anyway. We did somehow get invited.

I nodded to the bartender as I stepped in. I knew him a little too well for someone that technically wasn't allowed in here. The person from that group was already talking, I was late. But then I saw that girl from earlier. The one I stole from earlier. I couldn't let her see me, what if she knew?

I snuck into the crowd, hoping no one would notice just another face. That's all I really was, anyway. The people on stage started prattling on about "energy efficiency" and "saving the environment" and all that jazz. They were just here to sell something, I knew it. That's the only reason anyone talks to me. I kept one eye on her, though. I knew her name, it was in her wallet. Guinevere. It stood out in my head; nobody deserves that pretty of a name. She seemed to be rapt in attention to the talk.

Eventually they got to the point. They were selling these "gold star" washing machines, which supposedly used 30% water. I thought it was all BS. And who the hell were they trying to sell to, anyway? Nobody in this town could afford any of that. I stopped listening around then, and started paying more attention to Guinevere.

She was trying to pay attention, but it was difficult. They were pretty much just saying the same thing over and over again. Eventually, her eyes wandered. And then they met mine, and widened.

I looked away quickly, of course. But after leaving to the bathroom, she scooted closer to me, and whispered:

"Hey! It's the guy who helped me when I was in a rush. I wanted to thank you, I would never have made it to the train on time, but you left in a hurry. What's your name?"

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

#2 - Dirt

                I never felt at home in a crowd. He felt the people press in on him, talking and chattering about happy little nothings and how nice a day it was just wasn’t quite my style. I liked flying through the streets, when it was just me and the night sky and nobody could possibly bother me.
                This circus was a little different, though. Nobody was talking all that much. Probably because of how… weird the whole thing was. What kind of circus comes in at midnight, unannounced? And only opens at night? The people were kinda creepy, too. The ringmaster had a smile so wide that there was no way it wasn’t fake, and I was pretty sure some of his teeth were, too. The parrot on his shoulder did not help.
                I walked between the tents. One night only, right? There was no harm in seeing what it was all about. At least that’s what my dad said. He told me I should get out more, meet some friends. When I told him about the circus, he looked so happy… So here I was.
                I ducked into the biggest tent I saw. The ring was pitch black at first, I couldn’t even figure out where the seats were. But then the center started glowing. Brighter, and brighter. It looked like someone lit a fire there. So it was some kind of pyrotechnic performance, with a bonfire at the center?
                And then the whole place lit up. Torches had been placed around the tent, and they all lit at once. And I could see for myself that it wasn’t a bonfire that had been at the center. It was a boy. And he danced.
                The flames licked and whirled around him as he danced. They didn’t seem to harm him; rather, they seemed to move with him. He traveled around the whole arena, showing off.
                I looked back at the exit. This was seriously weird. I had to get out of here. But the show wasn’t over yet. A girl came out too, and I figured that she was also going to light herself on fire. But then she froze. She stopped moving, completely, not even a shudder or shake. And then so did the fire. It became solid, filling up with ice.
                Yeah, I ran out. I wasn’t going to hang around some creepy twins any longer. The playground was right outside the circus grounds, so I went there. It had plenty of empty space, and was usually empty. Usually. I smacked into someone, discovering that to my surprise, it wasn’t empty. Why do people have to be places I want to be? She was little girl, around age eight. I was about to leave, when she asked,
                “Hey! What’s your name? Mine’s Jupiter!”
Ah, heck. My dad told me to make friends, didn’t he?
                “Briar. Briar Leyman.”

Monday, August 29, 2016

#1 - (407) - Rain

The day began with a groan. Dad’s groan, specifically. I didn’t quite wake up then, though. Last night was pretty rough. The thud, though. That got me out of bed. He needed my help.
He had fallen, again, of course. It happened pretty regularly. He forgets that he can’t walk, and tries to get up and make me some eggs before school, like he used to. I wish he wouldn’t. I don’t need that any more. It was my job to take care of him, now.
“Dad, it’s okay. You should get back in bed.”
“Yeah, Dad, it’s me. Now rest, I’ll make it to school on time.”
School had changed a lot since she left. I had to make it there myself, for one. That meant I went a lot less. Especially on days like today. The rain and thunder told me that today was a good day to skip. But that’s okay. I had other plans anyway. And the rain would help. I threw on that old coat and the torn pants, rubbed some mud on my cheeks, and set out. I didn’t need to look nice today.
It had been awhile since I had stolen. The last mark was some girl from Dreamwood who thought she was cool for “slumming” around Winthrop. She had been a laughably easy job, but she carried a fair bit of cash on her. It was probably just her day’s spending cash over there, but it would last my dad and me over a week, if I stretched it. But it had been two weeks since then, and I made my last pack of instant noodles last night. I needed cash.
The rain kept me from going to the nicer parts of town, but that’s probably for the best. The marks were richer, but the cops actually liked to spend time there. Some of them even had their own security. And the rain made my job easier. I walked down the street, looking for anyone who had an umbrella. I wasn’t the kind of thief who would sneak up on you and take your wallet while you never knew he was there. I had a different skill. I could run.
I walked through the neighborhood, looking for someone or somewhere that wouldn’t recognize me. I didn’t particularly like stealing, but it’s not like it actually hurts anyone. Well, anyone I care about. I see an umbrella walking by, here and there, but most of them looked more disheveled than me. Winthrop isn’t really the best place to look for marks. If you have a nice amount of cash, generally, the first thing you do is get the heck out of here. Really, I was mostly looking for someone passing through. There’s a train stop nearby, and occasionally someone tries to walk through here to it.
It didn’t look like that was going to happen in the rain, though. It really was awful out, and the townies seemed to understand that. I turned around, resigning myself to going hungry. I’d done it before, I could do it again. But you know, being hungry really sucks. And my dad needed to eat too. I really didn’t know where our next meal was going to come from. Maybe it wouldn’t come. Maybe we’d go hungry again tomorrow, and the day after. Maybe we’d starve. Maybe I couldn’t do this, I couldn’t support my dad and me. Maybe I should just give up. Maybe I should just call her. I hated it, but maybe I just wasn’t good enough.
And then it happened. I was looking down at the ground, trapped in my thoughts rather than the road, when something knocked me straight back onto the pavement.
“Oh! Sorry! Sorry! I’m just in such a rush, and I don’t know where, I’m going, and…”
It was a woman, a few years older than me. She didn’t have an umbrella, and with her glasses, she probably couldn’t see a thing in the rain. She had fallen to the ground too, with some of her belongings lying beside her.
“... and I just don’t know where I’m it is and I really have to get there or I’ll miss my interview, really, I’m so sorry…”
I put on my best face and went to work.
“Ma’am, it’s okay, calm down, I’ll help you pick up your things. I was going to get wet in this weather anyway. Where were you headed, the train station?”
“Yes, yes, how did you know? Do you know where it is?”
“Yeah, it’s over there, just go straight until Greystone Avenue and take a left. It’s around a half mile down the street. Here, here’s the last of your things, you can still make it!”
“Oh, okay, thank you so much! I’ll make sure to repay you when I come back!”
She seemed nice enough, I reflected after she left. Although I didn’t think she’d come back.  Not after she realizes that she doesn’t have her wallet. I looked down and my prize. It was too easy. I didn’t even have to run. I almost felt bad for her. Almost.
What little guilt I had disappeared when I thought of the food I could get with this. I looked through it as I walked back to my apartment, through the twisting streets. It had a nice sum in it; she probably planned to stay a few nights in the city. A card, but using that would lead police right to me. A driver’s license, too, for a different state. She must be from out of town. Probably wouldn’t be here long.
I took my time on the walk back home, taking in the environment. Things happen in this part of town, y’know. Things like that strange glow coming from the abandoned old apartment building, or the stain by the fountain from something I don’t want to know about. I try not to get involved. Sometimes it’s unavoidable, part of living here. But today, I had something else.

(“Dad, I’m home!”