Author’s Rant! (SPOILERS)

Wait, WTF did I just write? Bella is back? WHAT is that bitch doing free? I thought I was done with her! I was so sure her book was closed! But then poof! A rogue Bella appears.

If I was the reader, I’d be pissed. What the hell? I’d be all ‘can’t you let a character be gone’, ‘can’t you move the story along without her’?

Well, you see, here’s the thing. I was planning on there being a Bella in this story. A Bella from another dimension, so it’d be another version of herself. A different Bella. And maybe that Bella will still make an appearance. But I had never intended the Bella to make a re-appearance. Never, never, nope. I had that book all nicely and neatly closed.

And you know what? Now this throws me into a conundrum! Oh, woe, will Chaos go out with Bella again? Yay? Or Nay? Personally I still kind of ship them, but for them to be a healthy relationship Bella would still have to grow a Lot. So hmmm… where does this take us? Also, now the fuck what? Will Lucifer allow Bella back into the reins of hell? I doubt it, but this really complicates the story! I wasn’t expecting there to be this dimension to it! I thought it was all going to be in another world, all about these aliens and Kuryo. But nooo, Chaos had to go and make it all about themselves haha. Oh well, what the fuck.

I hope y’all have a nice day, with plenty of happy times! Thank you so much to everyone who’s been following along with my story, I really appreciate it!

 

 

Chaos & Kuryo (Novel 3) Chapter 6 Part 2

Chaos’ POV

Alright. Escaping hell. I could do this. I just – needed to figure out how?

I paced my dingy cell. Kicked at the edge of the cot. Wished for a pair of shoes.

“Kid, you’re getting all worked up,” drawled Ysolda from her cell, smoking again.

“I have things to do, places to be,” I grumbled, crossing my arms over my chest and squeezing myself. My feet were could, courtesy of the wet duckie socks but I refused to take them off. I had to find a way out of here. I had to find Sephira.

I needed to cause a commotion, I decided. The ideal would be to bust out everyone and use the ensuing chaos (hah!) to disappear. But how to do that?

I rested my head against the cell bars, staring across the hall at where I’d seen Sephira in my dream. Where would she be now? Where was I to run off to? Another dimension? Or here, in this world?

I rapped my head repeatedly on the bars, angry and frustrated.

“Beating yourself up is literally not going to get you anywhere,” Ysolda drawled from too close for my nerves. I glared at her and she shrugged. A billowing cloud puffed from her. “Just sayin’,” she said before resuming her cigarette.

I sat down on my cot, huffing my outrage at the world. The world did not care. I pulled on my hair and flopped onto my back. I stared holes into the ceiling.

Bla bla bla. Time passed. People fell asleep. Someone down the hall began to snore. I grew agitated, flipping back and forth on my sides like a fish out of water. My nerves frayed and I grew snappy in my thoughts, having internal arguments with myself and all the people I imagined caring two wits about me.

Inevitably, I imagined arguments with Kuryo. Asshole! Douchebag! Why hadn’t he told me he was trans? And now he was missing – how dared he get into trouble! If only he’d let me stay with him, then I bet nothing would have gone wrong!

But of course he couldn’t hear me. He wasn’t sentient, like some deities were, or even like the Buddhas in the Pure Lands – Pure Lands?

I sat up with a bolt. Pure Lands! There was someone I could ask for help!

Throwing myself out of bed, I landed with a crash onto my knees. Then I shifted into cross legged, thinking it would be more polite to address a Buddha that way. Clasping my hands before me, I tried to focus all my will-power into a prayer.

It’s rare for spirits to entreat each other in prayer, but hey, there’s always exceptions.

“Dear Amitabha,” I thought with all my gut-power. “I need help. Send help.”

I stayed like that, praying intensely and focusing so hard, for who knows how long. I entered a trance-like state I prayed so hard. It was rudely shattered by a drawl.
“Hey kid, you okay?”

I startled and nearly toppled over. My legs had fallen asleep! Ahhh!

“You praying?” drawled Ysolda, looking worried. “Who to?”

I looked around. No magical solution had appeared. “No one who cares, apparently,” I grumbled. Stretching out my legs I winced at the pins and needles effect as the blood rushed back into them. Even my chest started to hurt.

My chest? I looked down at myself, where nothing visible was happening. But there was a swelling sensation there, like I had a lump in my heart. It was getting hard to breathe. Whatever. I took a deep breath – then choked on the weight that grew within me.

What the hell? I gasped for air and found myself tipping over. The room swam as my entire body pounded with the sensation of something alien growing within me, sprouting from my chest. I choked and gasped for air, my hands gripping at my chest. Dimly, I heard Ysolda calling out but the cell was fading from me- and then whatever it was burst from me.

I actually saw a black shape materialize before me, growing tall and thin. It had a shining red eye and a blue one. It had orange hair cut to the chin and an obnoxious grin.

“Bella?” I gasped as I sat up, all woozy sensations gone.

“Chaos!” she squealed like a little baby. As I sat up she flung herself at me, toppling me over to smack hard onto the floor. Owww.

“Chaos! Baby! I’ve missed you so much!” she crooned as she squeezed tight against me.

What the fuck? I looked down at the squealing lump on my chest. My head sparked with pain and I wanted to shrivel up and die. Was this some prank?

But the person who hauled me up by my shoulders was definitely Bella, in the flesh. The very happy, squealing, flesh. “I’ve missing you! I’ve missed you! I’ve missed you!” she fairly screamed as if that was a shocker to her.

I gulped, tears rising within me. It was – so overwhelming to see her again.

“You missed me too?” she asked breathlessly, leaning in close. Delicately, she wiped a tear from my cheek.

A huge lump had formed in my throat. What was I supposed to say? “Bella,” I croaked before she kissed me.

Ahh, it felt good. It was like a balm on a bad wound. I’d missed her touch- but I pushed her away. “Bella,” I said sternly.

“They let me go,” she gushed. “I didn’t break out, I promise! I’m- released?”

I blinked. This- was the answer to my prayers? They sent Bella? I stopped my hand mid-caress of her hair and drew it back. She followed it though, leaning into my bubble even more. Our noses brushed.

“Chaos,” she was saying when, far away, the door to the corridor banged open.

“What’s all the screaming ’bout?” yelled a guard. A club was banged against the iron bars. “I’ll give ya a reason to scream!”

Bella seemed to finally cue into where we were. “What are we doing here?”

“I’m accused of your murder,” I snapped. Instantly I regretted my harshness. Bella looked wounded – but should I be feeling sorry for her?

The guard came down the hall, banging on the bars as they went. They were a big and burly goblin with two peas for a brain and only one tooth left. “I say I want silence!” they roared.

“Hey!” Bella jumped up. Her black trench coat (a very dramatic thing with belts and buckles and studs) flared around her as shes strode to the cell door. “Let me out!” And she waved me over.

The goblin laughed as it strolled over, then had a fit when it recognized who she was. “Be- Bella?”

Bella lifted her chin. “Open this door, Mervin.”

The goblin squeaked. Shaking all over and perhaps peeing themselves a little, they drew out a bunch of keys. Their giant hands shook as they fished for the right key. Bella snatched it from them and unlocked the door herself.

“Come on, Chaos,” she said before marching out.

I followed, mind blown. The goblin saluted as I walked past.

Let’s Talk about Bella…

Hi everyone! I have to say that these past few days have been exhausting, borderline devastating for me. Shit’s been rough, but in a strangely distant way. So me and my little nest is okay, thank the gods, and things should stay that way. Still, it has taken its toll. I spent the day in bed, just overwhelmed by everything. Not my preferred activity, to say the least.

However! I am here now to talk to you about Bella!

Come on y’all, I loved Bella! I really have fun with my villains, and probably way overthink them! Here are several topics I really wanted to discuss with y’all.

Her Powers!

  • Bella’s powers are directly pulled from my own experience of a mental health crisis, and my research on schizophrenia. I really did feel the occasional burst/episode of ecstasy with my symptoms when they weren’t controlled, and think (from my research) that they can be symptoms of schizophrenia and psychosis. When writing Bella’s powers I was just like ‘what if she controlled a person’s pleasure centers, like it can happen during mental health crisis?’, and that was it – boom. Bella’s power discovered.
  • The outgrowth of that was the ‘hive mind’, which was inspired by the book “The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test” by Tom Wolf that I read during my university years about how the ‘merry pranksters’ were trying to achieve a sort of unified mind-state through their drugs. I thought ‘hey that sort of sounds like my shoddy understanding of a hive mind so… I’mma do that!’.
  • So really, Bella’s powers are all related to drugs and psychosis, by how all that ties in to the brain’s pleasure centers, and how that can have such a grip over someone. I myself did miss my episodes of ecstasy, because life seemed really dull for the longest time without them. Similarly, my grandmother missed the ‘angels’ who used to speak to her in her schizophrenic episodes.

Her Personality!

  • She was quite fun to write! Like so many of my villains, I base them off of personal experience with mental health and jerks combined in certain people. What strikes me in so many of the villains I’ve met is their immaturity and insecurities. Yes, some aren’t, but some are and after all they’re still human and imperfect like the rest of us. So I was pretty excited to make her well-rounded (I hope!) by not just being mean, but by also having real emotions. SHe really did love Chaos, was jealous of them, but never respected them (never stuck to their pronouns!) or tried to take care of them (bad partner, boo!).
  • Also in my experience, real villains aren’t mean 100% of the time. What makes a good manipulator so dangerous is that they can actually be very nice and charming and funny. Now, Bella wasn’t really that nice, but she had her moments (I hope!) where her and Chaos actually did connect and touched on that ‘something’ between the two of them.

Her Backstory!

  • Bella was a daughter of Mara, the demon who tempted Buddha and tried to draw him away from his enlightenment. He (and his daughters) were famously dismissed/defeated by Buddha’s hand gesture. This, in Buddhist mythos (at least to my understanding), marks the defeat of all temptations by the Buddha’s enlightenment and teachings. So in the story, this was where Bella would have had her only major defeat. This would seriously piss her off, especially as Buddhism spread and grew and her defeat became famously enshrined in a popular Buddha-pose. Furthermore, Buddhism calms the mind and helps defeats the snares of  ‘false’ (physical or fleeting) pleasure, which is how she lures people in. This would make Buddhism her arch-enemy.

But but but … if she’s a demon why does she have the blue eye? Well, I never got the chance to explain it in the story (I will have to chuck that in with later edits) but it’s actually a tattoo. Yes, she got her eye tattooed blue to trick people like Chaos. My inspiration for this was meeting (at a street festival) a couple who were tattoed head to toe, even in their eyeballs. I think the woman in the (hetero) couple was the first in Quebec to have her eyes tattoed. So when I was writing Bella, at some point I remembered them and was like … ‘hey, what if her blue eye is a trick? Like, a tattoo?’  and it actually made sense. So that’s the official story. She’s a full demon with her eye tattooed blue to make her look like an angel.

“Just More Chaos” Epilogue

I woke up to the smell of coffee. Clean sheets and several blankets were laying on top of me. I was drenched in sweat, but felt rested.

Crawling out of bed, I left the bedroom – then paused just out of sight of the living room, in the small hallway. There was a jumble of low voices. Kuryo’s murmur, Aaliyah’s sharp interjections, and –

“You’re up?” Charr called out.

Trust the cat to out you. I stepped forward grudgingly. I just didn’t want to be seen, but here I was.

The four of them were squeezed on the couch. Jade and Aaliyah to the left of Kuryo, Charr to his right. They all looked pretty happy. Everyone looked showered and freshly combed out. Jade seemed a bit groggy still but hey, close enough.

“There’s coffee,” Kuryo pointed out. “in the kitchen. Here.” He got up, leaving his cup of something on the coffee table. We met in the kitchen where he was drawing out a mug and some creamer of sorts. “Here,” he repeated as he poured the coffee and handed it to me.

I didn’t even put anything in it. I just looked at it and tried to telephetically tell Kuryo that I wanted to be alone with him. I wanted everyone else to leave, and him to take me in his arms and comfort me.

But it seemed like the hive mind wasn’t working here. He took me by the shoulders and walked me to the couch. “Here,” he said (again) as he sat down in his squished up spot between Charr and Aaliyah.

I just looked. There was absolutely no room. This was a three-person couch.

Aaliyah cleared her throat and took my cup from me. Charr took my shoulders and turned me. Kuryo took my hand and dragged me down to sit on his lap.

Okay, so I fit somewhere on top of him and Charr. I pressed my face into his shoulder and Charr rubbed my shoulder.

“You’re going to be fine,” she said matter-of-factly, but with kindness.

Kuryo nodded with a humm, passing an arm around my shoulder.

There was a heavy silence. I tried not to sob.

“I seriously want pizza,” announced Jade, sounding completely high as a kite.

Somehow, I started to laugh.

“Just More Chaos”; Chapter Fourteen

“So, what were you thinking?” Bella laughed as she stood before me.

I was sitting in the living room, curled on myself. Kuryo sat beside me, a hand on my shoulder. He’d brought me crackers and hot soup, but I had been puking bile and couldn’t keep anything down.

It hadn’t been god who had been speaking to me. It must have been someone from inside the hive, which explained how they could speak to me without a spirit being around. Had it been Bella? A demon spirit? Someone who just wanted the fight to break out?

Bella was spattered with blood, but seemingly fine. Her vampire horde had prevailed over the weakened forces, evidently. Without the Trinity, half the rebellions’ army had just lost its godhead. They were weakened and their power would have been draining away. Some might have even died with the Trinity.

I buried my head in my arms and squeezed my eyes shut. Bella laughed. “Good job, Chaos,” and she tousled my hair before marching away.

Snippet by snippet, news came to me. Vampires and even demon overlords came by and found it important to tell me what had happened. They seemed to think it had all been part of Bella’s plan, and they were honoring me for my… bravery? One demon even bowed to me. I could barely look up from my arms. I seemed to have lost the ability to move.

They had won. Bella was now the undisputed overlord of the sky and earth. And with that power…

“We will have our third portal tomorrow,” Bella cackled as she sat down in her comfy chair, mug in hand and cookie in the other. She propped her feet up on her pouf. “Your father will be there to open it for me.”

I looked blankly at Bella. She opened her eyes wide, making a shockingly amused face. “Tomorrow we are invading the Pure Lands.”

I buried my face in my arms. Kuryo kept massaging my arm and shoulder, but the day faded from me.

Somehow I got moved upstairs, walking dimly through the house with Kuryo guiding me. I showered, then curled up in a ball in Bella’s bed. She was busy celebrating with her buddies and vampires. I closed my eyes and wished I was dead. Tomorrow I’d even have to face my father. He’d see what a failure I’d become.

I couldn’t even find it in me to cry anymore. I was wrecked. I’d killed, again. I was such a pawn. So useless. So pointless.

I wallowed in my despair all day. I slept fitfully that night, not even noticing Bella come to bed. I did notice her waking me the next day however.

“Wake up wake up!” she cheered, bouncing over me and dragging the pillow out from under me. Then she smacked me with the pillow playfully. “Today is the day!”

I startled (understandably) but by the time I was sitting up she was already bounding away, laughing giddily into the bathroom.

Still confused, I looked around. My eyes met Kuryo’s, which were dark and grudging. I wondered why I felt so terrible. Like – and then it all came crashing back to me.

“No, no,” Kuryo said, probably seeing it in my face as I remembered everything. In a flash he was by my side, holding me up to keep me from curling into a tiny ball. “You’ve got to get up,” he hissed.

I looked tearfully up at him. I didn’t feel ready to do anything! I felt like such a wreck…

“Bella,” Kuryo glanced at the bathroom door, then back at me with warning lights in his eyes. “Wants you back on your feet.”

Bella began to sing (off-key). I looked pleadingly at Kuryo. “I can’t do this,” I whispered. “My father’s going to be there. I-”

Kuryo rattled me gently. “Come on,” he whispered. “Get up. You’ve got to.”

What did Bella say she’d do to me to get Kuryo like this? I sniffled but shook myself. I huddled myself. Then I swung my legs off the bed and got up.

Everything ached. My reflection was hunched, my eyes were puffy, and I looked like a train wreck, complete with smeared eyeliner.

A short stint in the bathroom fixed the eyeliner problem, but no amount of cold water on my face unhunched me or fixed my broken expression. I just was over.

Bella, however, was twirling and singing as she made her way through the house. Kuryo held my elbow and directed me around in her wake. Down the stairs, to the living room to a chair. Breakfast was offered to me – I ate a cracker or two and swallowed my tears – and then Bella was up on her feet. “Let’s go!” she cheered, clapping her hands and twirling on the spot like an overexcited child. I wanted to smack her. So did Kuryo, by the look on her face.

“Try another cracker,” he muttered at me.

“We don’t have time!” Bella snapped. “I want to go! Now!”

Kuryo stashed the cracker in his pocket and swallowed a comment. Again, he took me by the elbow and hefted me to my feet. Then towards the door –

“She can stand on her own,” snarled Bella as she put her coat on. “Don’t baby her!”

Kuryo wanted to stab her. Repeatedly. With something jagged and sharp. He let go of my elbow, nodding me towards my coat. I shuffled forward and got it myself.

It was okay. I could do this. I just wanted to curl up into a little ball and was fighting back tears but I could do this. Just – one step at a time. I just had to get my coat on.

I managed, though my hands were shaking and I felt like barfing all over the place. Tears swelled in my eyes, and then I thought of my father. What he’d be thinking of me.

Kuryo took me by the elbow again. Bella had turned her back and sauntered out of the house. “Come on,” he murmured.

Together, we followed in her wake.

Outside, the air was biting cold. It made my skin hurt. But it was nothing like the sickenign sight before me.

There was Bella, and there was a crowd of vampires and werewolves and even some humans, all cheering and clapping. There was even some motivational cardboard posters being waved by the humans in the lines of “go get ’em”. Everyone was ecstatic. Bella was grinning, soaking it all up. And oh yeah, there was this massive portal.

But the portal wasn’t here to send us anywhere, at least not yet. It was a portal from the underworld, and minions from it were arriving, with Lucifer at their head. Smug, celebratory, they too were all applauding Bella.

I felt really, truly, sick. Disgusted down into my bones at the adoration in everyone’s eyes. Worse, Bella was just so childishly gleeful at it all.

A portal to the sky realm was set up (with lots of magical bla bla) on the opposite side of the street. As soon as it crackled to life, minions from the demons of the sky realm began arriving, with various deities and godheads at their helm.

Armies stretched on. I mean, of course they couldn’t fit the whole two armies on this street. There was probably just the leaders and stuff. But the street was filled, the vampires were squished up together, and hey, the air stunk of the mihs-mash of various realms clashing.

Then, the scents faded. Ashes swirled on the wind. A particular scent fluttered in, faded, wistful, and impossible to grasp. Death.

He materialized somewhere, and strode in from down the street, mother at his side. They were solemn, but looking their very truest to their nature. Mother was sprouting white rays, beaming with budding leaves and with a smear of fresh, vibrant blood on her hands up to her elbows, like a midwife. Death was wearing his charred robes, ashes smeared across his bones and scythe in hand, only dried and still blood to be seen upon him.

Hand in hand, they approached. The crowd parted for them. My stomach flipped. Kuryo held my hand tighter. I didn’t realize until then that he had taken my hand, but I was grateful for it.

Bella stood her ground, head held high and arms crossed across her chest. I stood behind her and to her left side, just wanting to hide. Lucifer was to her right. Minions spread behind us.

The moment Death and Life reached us, Bella snapped “I want my portal.”

Death and Life inclined their heads respectfully. Bella did no such thing. She remained straight-backed and arrogant as my parents rose from their incline.

They didn’t say a word. Neither Life nor Death showed a shred of emotion. Instead, they faced each other solemnly and stretched out their hands. Between them, precious and sparkling, formed a third portal.

Bella giggled. My stomach was doing somersaults as I realized my parents hadn’t yet looked at me. Was that a good thing? A bad thing? Now I just wanted them to look at me. See how much I regret it? I’m not awful, I promise…

But the portal grew and grew until it was the size to fit one person. Then, Death and Life drew back. They inclined once more, and turned their backs on us all to walk away.

My heart shattered somewhere beneath my feet. I felt like this, truly, was the fated punishment of ‘hell’.

I was so striken, watching my parents walk away, that I almost didn’t notice Bella march head-first into the portal. Kuryo tugged on my hand and, like two bodyguards, we went after her in the portal.

Ahh, the Pure Lands. I was instantly soothed as we stepped into it. The softness, the purity, the gentle truth of it all. My heart felt light and it felt like all my burdens were lifted away.

Bella was there, and before her was some sort of goddess with nondescript features wearing a simple red kimono (or maybe it was a chinese hanfu? I had a hard time telling them apart, to be honest).

“Guan yin,” Bella snorted. “You’re who they sent to guard the gates?”

Guan yin didn’t move. Instead she looked us over with a patient smile.

Lucifer stepped to Bella’s side. Somehow, probably through the hive, I knew that the others were to wait outside until further orders were given. Bella wanted this moment alone, to herself. But with her bodyguards there to keep her safe of course, and Lucifer there to applaud her on.

Do it now, Yhwh’s voice echoed in my head.

I startled, turning on myself. But he was nowhere to be seen. There was just us and the stretching fields and valleys. Yet the voice continued.

Bella is at her weakest in the Pure Lands. Her army is far away. Run her through.

I gawked, my insides turning to ice. Kuryo was tugging on my arm but that felt a whole world away. I was shutting down inside myself.

Do it! This is your only chance! The voice commanded.

I can’t I can’t, I thought, pressing my palms to the side of my head. I just can’t – not her, I can’t-

Lucifer was stepping to my side. Kuryo had my shoulders but Lucifer brushed him aside. Bella was ignoring it all and sneering something to Guan Yin.

“Hey,” Lucifer pulled me to stand behind Bella. As if that would shelter me from anything. He took my hands from the side of my head and shook them out. My swords snapped out accidentally, narrowly missing his hips.

“Sorry,” I babbled as he took my wrist – and stabbed my sword right through Bella.

For good measure, he put my second through her stomach.

I gasped. There was a gurgling sound. Lucifer smiled at me. He ruffled my hair. “That’s how it’s done,” he said in Yhwh’s voice, deep and somber. Then he strutted to Bella’s side.

He bowed to Guan Yin respectfully, his voice switching back to it’s usual drag queen falsetto. “I hope you will accept this soul’s offering as a peace token. I have no intention of striking a war against your realm, and I hope this will, ah, make up for any undue stress we may have caused you.”

Guan Yin inclined her head, like one does when they are not totally sure what to make of a situation.

Lucifer turned to Bella. “Nama-stay here you bitch,” he whispered sweetly, tapping her on the nose. “You,” he pointed to Kuryo “Fuck off to your realm. I don’t want to see any of you around here. Get lost. Now. You-,” he turned to me. With a sigh he shook his head. “Do I have to do everything?”

In two strides he was at my side. Yank! He pulled my swords out of Bella. With a splutter she crashed down.

Lucifer patted me on the cheek. “Don’t worry! She’s in heaven. Her hell, but hey! They’ll purify the shit out of her. Now come along, this way baby,” and he turned me back to face the portal.

A hand seized my shoulder, yanking me out of Lucifer’s grasp. I stumbled back, swords slipping back into my wrists. Kuryo had his arm around me. “You’re not taking her,” he said sharply. “You’re going to blame Bella’s death on her.”

Lucifer chuckled. “You’re not as stupid as you look.”

Kuryo drew me back, stepping slowly away from Lucifer. “I’m taking her,” he said sharply. “And I’m taking Jade and Aaliyah as well. And Charr. We’re all leaving, and you get this realm to yourself. Deal?”

Lucifer grinned, obviously thinking some other plan. He looked far too pleased for this to be right.

But he shrugged nonchalantly. “Do what you want. I’m not stopping you.”

Kuryo hesitated. Then, the world swerved around us and darkness enclosed me.

I felt the brush of blackish blue feathers. Heard their rustle and felt the cosmos rushing around us. I may have also blacked out.

The fact was, I came to sitting on a couch with water being scrubbed on my face with a damp cloth. I spluttered, startling awake.

“Shhh,” Kuryo said. He was crouching before me. My jacket was gone and my hands were washed. A blanket was wrapped around me. “You stay here,” he said gently. “You’re safe, okay?”

I looked around. This was his apartment. His home. It was so quiet, but my mind was racing, my heart was hammering, and I could feel my mouth pasty and dry and my stomach roiling-

“I’ll be right back,” he said, squeezing my hands. “I’m just going to get everyone.”

I just stared at him. Don’t go!, my mind shrieked. Something bad is going to happen to you! Something terrible!

But he squeezed my hands and stood. “I’ll be right back,” he repeated. Then he vanished.

It felt like an eternity that he was gone. But I didn’t move. I couldn’t. I could barely think, even though my mind was rushing full of disasters – half of which had already happened. I was numb, it felt like I was dead in some way, but the icy river inside of me churned on and on.

There was a stumble and a thud who knows how long later, and Aaliyah, Jade, and Kuryo appeared all together in the hallway. Aaliyah and Jade crashed to the floor, Kuryo doing his best to let them fall gently, but not quite managing.

“Found them!” he announced with a sort of grin. Was that supposed to make me feel better?

Aaliyah moaned, not moving. Jade rolled onto her back, gasping as if she’d just died and come back to life. Then she giggled. “The ceiling!” and she burst into another fit of giggles.

“They’re drugged,” Kuryo announced. He rolled Aaliyah over and hauled her to her feet. “To the bed with you,” he said.

I just sat there, staring. This was good, I was telling myself. Things were good.

But still my mind was telling me that this was disastrous, that we were all about to die – or worse. So much so that I was shaking when Kuryo reappeared to haul Jade into the bedroom as well. That done with, he came back to me. Crouched back down, taking my hands in his as if he was pleading with me.

“I’m leaving again,” he said softly. “I’m going to find Charr.” He reached and cupped my cheek with his hand. “You just stay here, okay?”

I started to sob. I didn’t want him to go. Something so bad was about to happen.

I curled on myself, pressing my face into my knees and clutching the blanket around myself. The couch creaked and arms passed around me. Kuryo shushed me gently over and over, whispering that everything was okay.

Hiccups were ripping through me, and he was rocking me back and forth. The world turned dark, and stayed that way.

“Just More Chaos”; Chapter Thirteen, Part Two

“Oh look at that,” Bella sneered, her voice cold and awful.

I pried my eyes open, knowing in the pit of my stomach that something bad was happening. Then the pillow under me moved. Kuryo. Oh shit. We were still snuggled up together – except now there was Bella looming over us like a dark storm cloud. An angry storm cloud.

I sat up guiltily, but Kuryo spoke first. “Look at what?”

Bella tilted her head to the side, arms crossed and sour all over. Kuryo sat up, his gaze challenging her.

“You’re just so cute together,” Bella hissed.

“Jealous?” Kuryo asked sharply, wrapping his arms around his knees, apparently not caring that he was at her kicking height.

“Whatever,” I muttered, rising so I was blocking them from each other. “Just-”

“Get ready!” Bella barked. “I don’t have time to sit around waiting for you two! Get up!” and she very nearly did kick Kuryo. I felt it in the air – but she turned and marched away, slamming the door to her bedroom and leaving us alone.

Oh gods, I let out such an exhale. That was stressful.

Later, as we were leaving the room, both dressed in fresh clothes and presentable, I tried to coax some sense into Kuryo. “Just try not to set her off, would you?”

He gave me a look like I was the weird one here. “You’re placating her,” he said softly. “And I’m not going to do that.”

“Could you try just – not to get yourself beat up?” I hissed. “I’m watching out for you here!”

“You’re just scared of her,” he muttered as we reached the bottom of the stairs.

“Maybe you should be!” I snapped angrily. She had successfully cornered the both of us! Sneaked and bullied her way into the top of the deity realm! Maybe, just maybe, we should be careful around her?

But Kuryo snorted as if that was ridiculous. We entered the living room with him in a cold mood and me being fidgety.

“You’re late,” said Bella angrily, as if she had given us a time to show up for. She set her mug of cocoa down on the hand table.“Am I supposed to stick around all day waiting on you two?”

Kuryo made a face and I sharply elbowed him. I just didn’t want to see him getting hurt. But Bella must have picked up on that. A sneer curled her lip. She chuckled.

“Interesting,” she said snidely. Then she caught up her coat from the side of her chair and marched to the door. I scurried after her, Kuryo in tow.

There was an army-load of vampires out of the house. They were ready for war, armed to the teeth and looking as aggressive as anyone can with a winter coat on. Or with fluffy mittens. It was just – hard on the mind to register them as a threat when they looked so fuzzy and cold. But I mean, they got points for trying, right? They were all wearing their most badass expressions, complete with stoic frowns and victory poses (legs planted, chests puffed out). Which was a whole lot of expression for a vampire, mind you.

Bella seized me by the arm and dragged me towards where everyone was facing – a massive portal ready to swallow us all up. It smelt of treetops and happy times (at least for me). It led to the air realm, certainly.

“Your job, along with your sweetie little boy-toy,” Bella said sneeringly, “Is to protect me. You’re not allowed to stray more than ten feet from me, the either of you. Got that?” She turned to smirk at Kuryo, who scowled in response.

“I’m not a fighter,” he objected.

“Be useful,” she snapped. “Or should I recycle you?”

Kuryo blanched just enough. Bella chuckled. Then, patting me on the arm like I really was her sweetheart, she dragged me after her into the portal.

Ick. Yuck. I was just too sleepy for this so early in the morning. The world swirled and my stomach churned, and we reappeared in a soft, fluffy feeling. It was a world full of light, breezes whipping up nearby treetops, and a land that was covered in gentle grasses.

It was heaven, I realized. The sanctuary of the Trinity. The holy land for millions of souls. And uh, there was their god, and several others besides, including the Thunderbird. They were all looking so angry.

And was it me or were their eyes zeroing in on me? No? Really? Especially Thunderbird?

“Oh, it’s so good to see you all,” Bella cooed, interlacing her fingers in mine. “What a lovely opportunity this is for all of us.”

Now’s your chance, the voice intoned in my head. I almost fainted from shock. This was my chance for what? Huh?

I looked at yhwh pleadingly. What did he want? I couldn’t murder Bella! Not with all her thralls appearing through the portal behind us. I’d be eviscerated!

No, no, the voice said steadily. You need to open the battlefield. Trust me.

“What?” I muttered under my breath, so silently that no one noticed.

Except the God. He stepped forward, carrying the grace and nobility of one who had once held the hearts of millions. “I would like to speak to Chaos, alone,” he said coldly. “I trust you understand.”

Bella laughed softly. “Of course,” and she let my hand go.

Yhwh guided me aside. Bella stepped to mingle with the other gods, grinning like a maniac. Lucifer appeared, along with Bella’s other council members. God placed a hand on my shoulder.

“Child,” he said in that deep voice.

Jittery, I looked all around, then tried to focus on those deep eyes.

You need to attack me, the voice said, full of conviction and strength. Do it now. Do it! This is our chance!

I took a good look at God. He was giving me such a patronizing, caring, and heavy gaze. Suddenly, I felt a surge of respect for him, as well as guilt for having fought him before. He wasn’t a bad guy.

“Okay,” I said softly. I’d do this for him. To get rid of Bella.

God inhaled deeply, drawing himself up as if to say something. There was a smile on his lips.

Strike in the heart, the voice said so clearly. It won’t hurt me.

I obeyed.

God’s eyes as I flicked my weapons out and attacked – I’ll never forget them. It was shock and – betrayal?

I struck him in the heart, just as the voice said.

Except there was a piercing shriek. Two other voices shrieking in tandem. The trinity- I felt it die more than I saw it.

It was as if I saw them from three different views, the dove and woman standing before Bella, suddenly collapsing and disintegrating into white dust –

There was screams. Shrieks of anger. Hatred. I was frozen, staring at the disappearing god at the end of my swords.

I’d killed him.

There was a clash of the battle beginning, but I couldn’t move. I was just watching the white dust dissipate, taking away the god who had been loved and adored by millions.

A hand snatched me and I was yanked sideways just as an arrow whizzed past. A clap of lightning struck where I had just been. Over Kuryo’s shoulder I saw the Thunderbird with his bow and arrows across the fray, aiming at me.

Kuryo yanked me again, and we toppled into the portal.

That’s It! It’s the End!

I’m not sure how to call this. The end of an ‘era’? Starting with a clean slate? Beginning the new year with a fresh book? Because, y’all, I just finished typing out the very last words to Chaos’s story.

I’m not joking! Today I went to a family brunch, came home, and wrote. I thought ‘hey, maybe I’ll get close to the ending’ but here it is. On the first day of the New Year, I finished Chaos’s novel. Which, for the record, I started last June (I think?). Less than a year ago, just after a massive move. Wow! Less than a year of growth, challenges, and so much writing! So much drawing, too!

What started out as just a dream has now become a full novel that ties in with another of my full novels (Dreaming of Lights) and has totally changed me. Chaos has grown so much, and with them I’ve become even more dedicated to my craft. I’ve started to really ‘feel’ myself as an author. I’m starting to connect with people via my stories (gasp! my dream is coming true!) and I’ve gotten my writing anxiety largely under control. I even started drawing out my story as a comic!

I feel so lucky to live where I live. Every day or so I tell my wife how happy I am to live out here, in the countryside. It’s done me wonders, as well as having a social worker and getting on testosterone. My anxiety and organizational skills are truly getting under control and my gender changes are happening. My mood is so balanced. I feel great. I haven’t been this happy for most of my life. Just truly happy to be here and alive, and so lucky to have what I have. I cherish everything and everyone (including all of you, dear readers one and all!) and feel like this is as good as it gets. Everything more from here on is just whipped cream on top of it a drink. Nice, but not the meat of it all.

So tonight, on the first day of this New Year, I will be opening up a document from another dream story (and creating a playlist for it, because I can’t write without music). I will probably be working on and posting that one, as well as working on Ranger’s on the sly (without posting). Y’all, I just can’t wait to start this year now. I’m so excited to see how you all feel about Chaos’s ending (to see all the treachery come to surface!) and to then share another of my weird, wacky, stories with you all. There is just so much to look forward to in this new decade.

Much love to you all, and a great year!

“Just More Chaos”; Chapter Thirteen, Part One

I’d like to say that a board was produced and, medieval style, they began playing around with little pawns on a map. That would have made things so much easier to understand. Instead, well, they began a long list of the heavenly realms that were resisting appointing Bella as their head, or at least as their champion. Some were even doubling down on visitations to the incarnate realm to try and maintain worshiper loyalties!

“That’s just cheap,” sighed one demon. “They’ve lost and they know it. Their era is over.”

The goddess who had brought up the topic had more to say though. “They’ve invited you for a peace talk. I’m afraid they might have something up their sleeve though.”

“Why?” Bella frowned. “It’s scheduled to happen on their holiest lands. They would never fight there.”

My stomach lurched, and I felt a cold shiver run through me. Or would they?

“Yhwh is desperate, and his pantheon is reeling. They are losing power, and fast. They are desperate and may act out rashly!”

But Bella shook her head. “They won’t dare attack me.”

Lucifer smirked for just a second, then covered his lips with his fingers to hide it.

“The whole trinity will be there, and all the angels. The entire rebellions’ forces will be together,” the goddess insisted.

“We could use this opportunity to wipe them out,” Lucifer drawled, lounging back in his chair. “That would be the smartest. We just have to execute the godheads, and the rest will fall into line. It would be a good lesson for anyone trying to oppose us.”

Bella frowned. “No,” she said crossly. “We can’t be the first to attack. I don’t want to do that.”

I almost laughed out loud. No better reason, Bella? Just ‘I don’t want to’? Really? It was childish and probably a show of strength over Lucifer’s idea, which frankly sounded smarter.

The council hesitated. Eyes flickered to Lucifer as if for leadership. Murmurs arose, one goddess faintly saying “But if we could kill them all,” only to let her own voice peter out when Bella looked at her.

Wow. What a council. Such debate. Such – toe licking on their part. Everyone seemed intent to stay on Bella’s good side. Normally, I would have expected Lucifer to put up a stink and demand his idea go forth and conquer, but no. He slunk back in his chair and watched the scene quite smugly. I was in awe.

Even Lucifer was in Bella’s pocket? Really? Wow.

The council lasted the whole day, and we returned to Bella’s home in the incarnate realm after that. She promptly passed out in bed, snuggling against me like I was her favorite pillow. My mind reeled. Everything today just felt like too much. The entire world was changing. Kingdoms were crumbling and I – was being used by a pillow by the most powerful person in this universe. It felt ridiculous, it felt stupid. I’d brought all this about, just by being me. By being reckless with her. My thought crowded and reeled, and the room darkened with the night.

Then, as the moonlight shone into the curtains, the voice returned to me.

“Are you ready, Chaos?”

I slowly sat up. Disentangled myself from Bella’s grasp. She didn’t even move. Then I crept to the window and looked out.

“Yes?” I whispered so softly I barely heard it myself.

“Tomorrow is the day. Are you ready to fight?”

“Yes,” I thought as hard as I could, mouthing it to the moon. Out in the courtyard, a murder of crows were sitting, watching me. There was about a dozen of them, and they all looked grouchy.

“Tomorrow, we need you to be our inner hand,” the voice intoned. “Be -”

I jumped so hard as Kuryo’s hand landed on my shoulder. I stifled my own yelp. He tilted his head to the side, a tense smile on his face.

“What are you doing?” he whispered.

I didn’t answer, not sure what to say.

He shook his head, amused but scolding. “Who are you talking to?” Then he glanced around. “There’s no spirit here.”

Well, uh, good point. How was anyone talking to me then? But I brushed that part aside. Maybe getting Yhwh’s blood all over me had made some sort of link between us. “Look,” I whispered. “Tomorrow is going to be a blood bath. Will you be safe?”

He nodded, his hand stroking my shoulder soothingly. “I’ll just perch somewhere and wait it out. It’ll be okay. Relax.”

I tried to smile but it was a terrible failure. Out through the window, those crows were still there, watching from all across the backyard. “Those your friends?” I asked, trying to change topic.

He chuckled. “Maybe. Are you my friend?”

I looked at him, jarred by the light-hearted question. “Maybe,” I muttered, those eyes looking straight through me.

He smiled, and it was so different than Bella’s. Precious. True. Intense a little. My heart did a silly flip-flop in my stomach. His fingers ran down my chin.

“Would you like a kiss?” he asked under his breath.

“Yeah,” I said weakly, not really believing I’d get one. But I did, and it was sweet. Our arms wrapped around the other – and he abruptly drew back.

“Just,” and he drew the curtain beside us shut, shutting out the night – and the crows. There were disappointed caws and cackles from outside.

I chuckled awkwardly. Heh heh. Look, him and I were alone now. I was half expecting him to suddenly morph or change personality. But he didn’t.

Instead he took my hand and led me to the blanket where he had been sleeping. It was as far away from Bella as we could be without leaving the room. There, we nestled down together with the blanket around us. I closed my eyes and pressed against him, focusing on his warmth and steady breathing and forgetting about the world.

“Just More Chaos”; Chapter Twelve Part Two

The next morning, just as the vampires got dozy and started complaining about wanting to nap, the sun rose. Crack!, went the dawn. Moo, went the cows somewhere on the horizon (I guess?) and ba-dang! Someone dropped something in the kitchen.

Bella sat up in her bed, startled awake. Kuryo woke too, but barely moved. He was watching Bella with dark eyes as if gauging what to do next.

I, innocent as could be, was sitting in the windowsill and pretending to be, you know, just sitting. Which I really was doing. But I was also thinking. And wondering. And thinking. But also realizing that I was part of the hive (maybe?) and so I shouldn’t think too loudly.

“What are you up to?” Bella asked, sweeping from bed to just sit on the edge of it, facing me.

I looked around and shrugged. “Sitting. Thinking.”

“I can hear that,” she said nastily.

Oh, ouch. uh-

“Stop thinking, and come here,” she said, reaching out a hand and beckoning me.

My heart did a stupid flip-flop. Aww, she wanted to see me. I slid from the window and padded over. Our fingers twined together and she looked happily up at me. “I’m happy you’re here,” she murmured, tugging me closer. “I missed you.”

Giddy butterflies rose in my stomach. Yayyy my Queen loved me, I couldn’t help but think. She twisted my hand a little and nodded to the floor. “Kneel for me,” she whispered.

I did, because I was happy and she was being kind and hey, wasn’t I supposed to just do what she wanted? It was surprisingly easy right then.

Bella tousled my hair with a grin, then cupped my chin and kissed me. I was happy. For a moment I liked to think that everything would be okay.

But of course it wouldn’t be. Bella grinned and pushed me aside with a foot, enjoying seeing me as disposable. As a plaything. I can’t say it wasn’t fun, but… it stung too, because it wasn’t just a game. It was real to her.

She left for a shower, and I stayed sitting on the floor. I didn’t see a point in moving, not until Kuryo appeared by my side.

“Hey,” he said, crouching down beside me. “You okay?”

I nodded, looking down at my lap. I mean, I wasn’t hurt, was I? It’s not like I’d been punched in the face or anything. But Kuryo put an arm around me. “It’s going to be alright,” he murmured. “I’ll find something.”

I looked at him from the corner of my eye. Should I tell him? Probably not. Bella’s hive – was he part of it? Was I? I wasn’t sure. Death messed around with connections like that.

“Come on, get up,” he said, pulling on my arm. “Don’t stay on the floor.”

I let him tell me what to do. Come to think of it, everyone was telling me what to do… I guess I felt spineless. I guess I just – wanted some direction to life?

I was sitting listlessly on the bed when Bella surfaced from the bathroom, all clean and fresh for the day. Kuryo was sitting beside me, rubbing my arms and trying to cheer me up. I just felt blah.

“Hey lovebirds,” she sneered. “Come along.”

And we followed her. Downstairs and out the front door, to where a portal was waiting. It filled the air with the stench of sulfur and sparkles emanated from it. So it went to Lucifer’s part of hell, I supposed.

Bella seized a hand of both Kuryo and me, and, with a curt nod to the overseeing vampires, dragged us after her into the portal. Whoopee.

For a second I was terrified that she was bringing us somewhere humiliating. That was my first fear, before realizing that I should be more worried about getting myself tortured for havign sneezed in her direction or something dumb like that.

On the other side of the portal, we were unceremoniously shoved forward. I stumbled as the ground rose up to me, and Kuryo caught me. How come he was always on his feet? I briefly wondered if he had psychic wings or something that held him up.

Then Bella called out, her voice just a pitch shrill. “Look what I found!”

And we looked up. And around. There was a whole council. Demon overlords, one wind god whose name I couldn’t remember, several goddesses who looked out for vengeance, and, of course, Lucifer.

Lucifer who, like a drama queen seeing her favourite dish come forward, applauded slowly. Bella strutted forward to take her space at the head of the table. “I also found a jade dragon and a golden one.”

The council oohed and ahhed. Some even applauded for real. I stood, mind reeling. Yeah, okay, so she had a war council. That was to be expected. So – she’d decided to come parade us like little trophies. Also to be expected.

“You know, they’re not just going to do what you ask of them. They’re not yours,” Kuryo snapped sharply.

Bella smirked his way. “You’re really naive.”

Kuryo’s face darkened. And uh, naive wasn’t a word I’d apply to him. Just – for some reason.

“Well, congrats darling,” cooed Lucifer. “You’re doing fabulously.”

Bella beamed, truly proud of herself.

Conversation struck up. Kuryo and I were shooed to a corner near Bella by servants who rushed around serving preferred beverages. Details were ranted about and I pretended not to be paying any attention while trying to soak it all in. Just in case I could relay any and all of it to the rebellion.

As things stood, Bella had nearly captured all of North America. South America had already fallen. Some heathen parts of Europe were still resisting – but her religion was spreading fast as an official religion.

“Even the penguins are worshiping you,” Lucifer added snidely – and I couldn’t tell if he was serious or not.

Then, the topic came up. “We need to speak of the rebellion,” one goddess announced.

“Just More Chaos”; Chapter Twelve, Part One

That night when we returned to the house, Aaliyah and Jade were nowhere to be seen. But, as promised, digging began nearly immediately for my body in the backyard. Bella kept our hands entwined as if she was afraid I’d run off somewhere. The moon was high, thin clouds wisping across the sky and blotting out stars here and there, and the temperatures were dropping what felt like ‘pretty far’, but which everyone assured me was actually ‘not so bad’.

Fuckin’ cold, I thought to myself as we shivered and stood around as my body was being dug up. Bella was insisting that it would be therapeutic for me to see my body dug up. “Jung would approve,” she said as if that solved it.

I bit my tongue and tried to keep silent.

Because, for the life of me, I still had no plan. Was I going to pitch myself dedicatedly to Bella’s side like a piece of used chewing gum? Was I going to bide my time and wait for a good opportunity? Was I going to try and flee pronto?

It was only when the body was being lifted up out of the ground by several disgruntled vampires when I got the feeling something was wrong. Maybe it was me picking up on Kuryo’s unease. Maybe it was me picking up on Bella’s trademarked nasty smile. Or maybe it was me thinking more than a step ahead.

“Bella,” I said cautiously, turning to look at the smug bug in a rug beside me.

“you should call me mistress,” she said, lifting her chin just enough. I bit back on a savage comment.

“Mistress,” I muttered under my breath, trying to remember to be polite. This could be important. “I don’t think this is a good idea.”

She lifted her mug of hot cocoa to her lips. A sip later, she looked me up and down. “You should be on your knees. I don’t like to see you standing so much.”

Oh, come on. I pretended I didn’t hear that. “If I go back into my body, what will happen to Kuryo’s body? Won’t it die?”

Bella’s eyebrows shot up exaggeratedly. Was she actually that shocked, or was she making fun of me? Making fun of me. “Oh my,” she said tartly. “Why didn’t I ever think of that?”

I looked down at the squishy mud mixed with snow between our boots.

“Did you really think I was going to believe that whole ‘voice of god’ shit?” she asked savagely. “I know he’s there. So don’t worry, unless he runs away like a little chicken, he’ll be just fine.”

So my body wasn’t a gift. It was her way of forcing Kuryo to show himself again.

“Did you just cue into that?” sighed the voice in my head of said person. I wanted to punch someone.

An icy wind whipped up, as if on cue. Bella huddled into her jacket and I hugged myself. It was so cold. She had mittens and a cute woolen hat on, and I had neither. Bugger it all, I wished to go home. For once, I was wishing.

“There we go!” A cry went up from the vampires and, ugh, there I was.

Bella shoved her mug at a vampire that was in the way and marched over. I followed gingerly. I guessed I would be needed. I was wrong.

First, three vampires slit their wrists and practically gushed blood all over the corpse. Which, yeah, I just tried not to look at it. Then, as magical vampires power did its thing, Bella just turned to me and said “Hop in.”

I looked at her like she was a dunce. No ritual? No preparation of the body and blessing and cleansing? No? Just – hop in?

Bella scowled. “Get, your soul, back in there! You can shower afterwards!”

I looked down. I mean, really looked down at the body. The light of the moon is softer, they say. Makes things look romantic, they say. Well fuck ’em. My body was chewed up, blood-splattered, and stinking. Could I take a hard pass?

“I don’t know how,” I fibbed, which wasn’t entirely untrue. Kuryo was the body-surfer. Not me. I just – no.

One look around, and the vampires looked totally fed up. Bella was, uh, extra unamused. Like, if the vampires were ten on a scale of unimpressed, Bella was a twenty.

“Conan,” she ordered sharply. “Put Chaos back in her body.”

I pressed my lips together. There was no answer from the back of my mind. Bella continued, not waiting. “If you don’t, I’ll kill this body and you’ll both die.”

I gulped. O-kay. Kuryo?

There was a pause. I looked around, desperate.

“Fine,” Kuryo sighed in the back of my mind. “Just – fine.”

With a pulse I popped out of the body. Just like -that- and I was out in the cold and open, then – Squish! Stuck in my yucky body.

And did it every feel yucky. Despite the vampire blood that had been doused over it, my body was stiff, cold, full of dried-up blood, and really, really, dirty. Imagine going from a nicely showered moment, and having to plunge into that.

Also I was out of air, and there was still a stake through me.

I gagged, gasped, limbs moving in jerky movements as I tried something, anything, to get air into me and pain out of me. It hurt like hell and I was freshly on my way to dying again when Bella stooped over me. There was a cruel smile to her, and she yanked the stake out of me.

Instead of blood gushing out, magic poured out like ripples of hot air → and I healed. In a rush of warmth my blood coursed, air got into me, and my hinges were greased. I jerked to a sitting position, choking on a clump of dirt in the back of my throat, blinking at the scene around me.

There was the vampires, a smirking Bella, but my eyes went to beyond, where there was Kuryo. His arms were crossed over his chest and he had on such a fed-up expression. I want to say ‘me too man, me too’. But I was too busy breathing air. Too busy looking around. Too busy being in the mess I created.

Bella offered me a hand. I took it, knuckles cracking and popping as I gripped her hand. Then I was on my feet. The world was fresh, the world was cool to the heat of my freshly awakened skin. Again, I couldn’t help but look to Kuryo. Something, something, was clicking in my mind. But I didn’t know what. Maybe that we were both in this mess together? Trapped, and we were the only things we had left? Or maybe the air hadn’t gotten to my brain fast enough.

Whatever. The magical ritual was over, I was alive and breathing, and that was that. We all trooped back inside, me tagging silently along after Bella like a little puppy dog. Kuryo came in last, grudgingly following everyone else in.

That night was when shit got screwy. I showered, plucked the worms from my hair, bla bla bla, and went to bed. Bella was already asleep like a rock, Kuryo was curled up with a blanket on the floor, and I found my side of the bed in the dark.

I tried my hardest to fall asleep. Counted flaming sheep, thought of nothing, did the whole deep breathing thing. Nothing. Guess my body didn’t need the rest. Whatever. I got up. And that’s when it happened.

“Chaos,” said a voice.

I spun around. No one. Spun again. No one. Was I losing it?

“Chaos, it’s the Lord. The god you defeated dishonorably, and so spilt the blood of the heavens upon the earth.”

Okay, that dramatic? Certainly him.

“What do you want?” I hissed, looking around. I stalked to the window and drew back the thick curtain just a crack. It seemed to make the transmission clearer.

“I want to tell you something,” the voice intoned.

I looked around again, nervous. What if Bella heard? Was I going to be in trouble, again?

“Don’t worry, she is fast asleep,” said the voice calmly. “Chaos, an uprising is being staged. Balance needs to be returned to the realms. This cannot go on. The spirit realms are not meant to be merged with the incarnate ones. Worse, she is about to launch an attack on the Pure Lands – she must be stopped!”

Gee, wonder who thought of that? Uhm, everyone? But still, I fidgeted and watched the bed for movement. My heart was beginning to sledgehammer in my throat. What if I was caught?

“We need your help,” said the voice steadily. “Are you ready to help?” and there was a dramatic pause. My ears were ringing and my heart was doing somersaults in my chest.

I took one final look at the figure in the bed. My first true love, my torturer. I turned my back on her and whispered to the moon “Yes.”

“Excellent,” said the voice after the slightest of pauses. “Be prepared. We will send you signals when the time comes for your actions. Until then, do nothing to rouse her suspicions. Nothing at all.”

“How long will this be?” I hissed, one eye on the bed behind me.

“Not long,” the voice crooned. “Not long at all.”

And that was that.

I really couldn’t sleep after that.