“Dreaming of Lights”; Chapter One, Part Three

I cawed for help. I shrieked. I flapped and flapped and wiggled my butt in the hopes of getting those feathers to do their job. Ingloriously, it made me think of pilates. Clench the buttcheeks! Wave the arms! Automatically, my legs paddled the air as well, and I must have looked like an idiot trying to run through the air.
Careening through the air, climbing up with no hopes of getting down, I found myself looping towards a tower.
Now, I want to take a minute to say that this tower wasn’t painted in brilliant orange with ‘forbidden tower’ scrawled over it. It just – no one went there is all.
It also just so happened to have a gridded balcony, sort of like a safety ramp, all around the top. I aimed for that, figuring I could sit up here until I got help.
With a zoom I careened towards the tower. A side draft of wind nearly bashed me into the tower, and I didn’t so much land as I flew to the floor and stuck my legs out and began to walk. Skittering to a stop, I slammed sideways against the tower’s wall.
Okay, I told myself. Okay. Ouch.
The wind whipped at me and I suddenly seemed to realize just how far I’d climbed. High, in short. Nauseatingly high. And this balcony? Not quite a balcony. More like a thin walkway that you could see through. Very thin.
I mean, it certainly was, what, five crows wide, but to me right then it was like a tightrope. I squished myself up against the wall and felt my heart pound in my throat.
Then I heard laughter. “Very well!” a man cheered.
I nearly jumped out of my skin. Whoa? Someone was here? Where? I looked all around before I realized that the voices were coming from within the building.
Help! I thought. Someone help me!
Feeling like every step was a gargantuan task, I began creeping forward, digging my fingers/claws in through the holes of the grid. Looking up, I crept my way around the corner. There, I poked my head around and up – and saw in through a large window.
Inside, from my bizarrely low angle, I saw Mister Murney and several other men I didn’t recognize. They looked like parents. Filthy rich too. They were pale like glass, wearing crisp white clothes like you saw in the magazines, and were lounging on a sofa. They were all in a sloppy ring, and at the center was someone, who was bowing to each person in turn.

Thank you for summoning me,” the person said in a feminine voice. As they straightened, shudders slid down my spine and all my feathers poked up.
The woman had slick black hair that fell into her face. Her eyes were a brilliant orange. Her features were strange. I couldn’t place her lineage by sight, which was strange. For though she had pale skin paler than I had ever seen, her features weren’t wealthy. There was something familiar to her, like she could have come from my own family. Her suit was an impeccable black and tailored to flatter her in every aspect, but it shimmered and sparkled with sequins like an evening dress. Oh, and she was wearing a little black bowtie.

We expect you to do exactly as we say,” one blonde man was saying.
The woman laughed, a strange and high-pitched cackle. She flipped a hand up and rolled her eyes to the sky. “Of cou-urse!” she laughed. “I just can’t tell you all how excited I am to be here! It’s an opportunity I’ve been waiting for-“
The men interrupted her. Typical. “We have arranged everything. You will be set to work straightaways. And,” this man, whom I could not see, added emphasis to his words. “We expect results.”
Again, that twittering laugh. She planted a hand on her hip and swung a hip out, looking down to her left at where the man must have been seated. “Don’t worry about that! I am the ah, result-maker?” She laughed at her own bad pun.
The men were not amused. Sure, they were smiling, but it was as if they weren’t seeing her. They were seeing beyond, imagining the results they so spoke of.

So!” the lady clapped her hands together twice and up high with a flourish. “Let’s do this!”
There was scuffles of chairs being scraped back. The woman began, in quiet tones that were still so nasally high-pitched, speaking to one member. I saw her place her hand on his shoulder as they walked away.
A door creaked open, and footsteps led away. I held my breath and counted to four. The business meeting was over – and now I just had to go through the window and follow them. Well! With a flap and a hop I propelled myself up to the window.
I smashed unceremoniously into the glass. Green shimmers marked it as being marked with a barrier. No souls could pass through.
With a flop I landed on the grid-like landing. My mind careened, not just in pain. This room was magically locked? How was anyone supposed to get out in case of an emergency? I thought all buildings, per protocol, had to be magically transparent to allow safe evacuations. Maybe that’s why no one came up to this tower. It wasn’t safe!
Curious and just wanting to get a look at what was surely a forbidden area, I hopped up onto the ledge. Inside, there was a dusty room, a dusty coffee table, and a few leather chairs from a few decades ago. I blinked, not even seeing a file folder or trace of the meeting.
Then, fleetingly, it struck me that this was a strange place to hold a parent-teacher meeting, or whatever kind of meeting it was. In an unsafe room, at the top of an unused tower, and in uncomfortable chairs.
Weird, but I had a bigger predicament facing me.

“Dreaming of Lights”; Chapter One, Part Two

In a catastrophic rush we ran through the building. She didn’t need to pull me anymore but she had a firm grip on me. But I wasn’t going to run away. I was by her side and was going to protect her from the sprites! Somehow, in the chaotic rush of the moment, I thought that I was going to prove that I could take care of her by… whacking sprites over the head? Yeah. Brilliant.

We crashed out the double front doors into the yard. It was full chaos. There was students in all shapes, everywhere, grabbing at sprites and battling them in the most (to my unmagical lens) epic of ways. Sparks were flying! Magic simmered through the air like ribbons!

Aaliyah let go of me, running towards the debris around the trees. “Grab a stick!” she called to me, doing so herself. Then, seeing as I wasn’t getting there fast enough she threw a stick at me, snapped one off a branch for herself, and whirled around to face…everything.

Because the school grounds were huge. The fields sprawled in all directions with preened green slopes, a little stream gurgling down among them, and trimmed trees here and there dotting the landscape. But the battle was all concentrated here, where the sprites were trying to destroy our sacred trees. We were smack in the thick of it.

Get as many as you can!” ordered Aaliyah before sprinting into the chaos. I wanted to yell at her to wait for me- but that would have sounded wimpy. I was brave! Rawwwr!

So I stood there and tried not to quiver with my stupid stick in hand. Damnit! Why?!

As they say, spirits and the bloomed ones that are so inclined can smell fear. Within seconds a sprite was flashing towards me, elemental powers in hand and teeth gnashing.

If you’ve never seen a sprite up close, their sparkling cloud doesn’t hide their shape very well. Beneath it, they sort of look like floating ghosts with evil hands and onion-shaped heads. This one had green lights sparkling around its hands and the nastiest pointy teeth I’d ever seen.

Snack- snack,” it seemed to say, clacking its teeth together as it floated before me.

I gripped my stick with both hands. Think of Aaliyah, I told myself. Think of school. You’re never going anywhere unless you bash this thing’s brains in-

Aaaand, just as I was thinking that, it zoomed in on me. I swung the stick with a yell, a sound that was mercifully drowned away by all the sounds of a battlefield around us. My stick whizzed above the sprite’s head and I lost my balance. The sprite leaped forward. Its fangs buried into my right forearm, its elemental spell sending electric shocks into me.

Okay, now I yelled.

And then something happened.

I felt a change come over me. Something rushed through my system like hot soda bubbling in my veins. I thrashed, the electric sparks suddenly seeming faint.

I’m fucking dying, I remember thinking. Good lords, this was stupid!

As the rush continued I found myself moving – and suddenly came to with my hand closed over the sprite. Both hands.

Beneath my fingers I felt the sprite pulsing. I felt the three parts of its soul throbbing with life. I heard it hissing and scrawling in a language I suddenly understood.

Let me go!” it shrieked in that tiny, hissing, voice. “You’re not one of them! Let me go! What are you? Let me go!”

Shocked, I moved my hands. Tentatively, I pulled on what I felt and the three soul parts began coming apart. The sprite shrieked – and burst one of its own parts. It killed itself.

I gaped as the body went limp in my hands. The two other parts throbbed with life still – and it smelt. It smelt delicious, a strange aroma of death and untimely consumption and decay that called to me like a corrupt song. Suddenly I knew what an addiction must feel like. What it must be like to crave the casinos, the drugs, the things you knew you shouldn’t do.

Because I knew I shouldn’t eat the sprite.

I mean, yes, everyone eats sprites. Their body is a common fall roast that mother could afford about once a year. But I wanted the soul.

Hesitant, I looked around. Maybe I was searching for a reality check. But the world felt woozy. It didn’t seem real. And somehow I just knew that no one was paying me a shred of attention, too busy searching out their own glory strikes.

So I gave in. I was lifting the sprite’s remaining two souls to my lips. Somewhere within me my rational self was wondering what was happening. I mean, can stomachs even digest souls?

But it never reached my lips. Instead, the two sprite souls sort of infused up my arms, dissolving into me, merging up through my skin.

I gasped, dropping the now thoroughly dead body. I wanted to scream as I realized that the souls were now in me. Did I digest them through my hands? Was the sprite now part of me? Did I now have five soul-parts? What was going on?

Completely freaking I fell backwards onto my butt. With a scramble I tried to get away from the inanimate body. Impulsively I wanted to flee.

That must have been the trick because suddenly I was scrambling, launching myself up, up, and flapping into the sky. It was when I was about five to six feet up, pumping my wings/arms like mad that I realized – wait a minute.

I looked down at the chaotic battlefield. I looked downer and saw my legs- now two stubby black bird legs. With a hoarse shriek I realized that I wasn’t me any longer.

With a jolt I realized I’d bloomed. Somehow. With another jolt I realized I was about to fall straight down if I didn’t do something about it.

“My Name is Chaos”; Chapter Fifteen, Part One

I made it two steps out into the world between worlds before I thought I was an idiot. A goof. A slug who was throwing their life away.

The fact that, any moment now, I could just turn around and get help, it was a nagging ache. Worse, every second that I ignored the ache cemented that I was never going back. I had made my choice and, deep within, it was holding fast.

I liked to contemplate that I would change my mind. I kept telling myself that, at the next crossroads, or after the portal, or when I saw Bella’s body, I’d rethink things, all while knowing that I would do no such thing.

To get to earth, I needed a portal. Like many spirits, I had no means to make one myself, hardly being that powerful, and indeed, not having permission to do so myself. But, like anything, it could be found in hell for a price. You just had to know where to look. And I, being me, just so happened to know that the very best place to look was where it wasn’t supposed to be.

“Hey,” I said as I approached Lucifer’s throne. Because, yeah, the guy who was supposed to keep this place in line was also the one who sold everything to keep it out of line.

chaos lucifer.jpeg
Lucifer on his throne

Lucifer, at least this representation/part of him (who knew if it was just a part of himself while the rest of his soul went off doing something stupid?), was draped across his throne. In hues of black and silver, he shimmered like starlight, his silver hair hanging around him like curtains. His face was decorated with a veil-like array of fine chains that dangled from piercings. Bright blue eyes shone out, tokens of his once angel-hood.

He tutted at me. “Darling, I’ve heard you weren’t well. Come here and tell me all about it.” And he reached out a lanky arm. I knew better than to say no. Lucifer was huggy, if anything just to give people the creeps by touching them constantly. It was especially hard to navigate someone who wanted to hug you persistently.

So I sat beside his throne, the usual place a supplicant found themselves, and his arm draped around my shoulders. Instantly it was like a hissing cat roused within me.

“Mine,” I clearly heard within my head as an itching sort of anger swept over me.

“Uh,” I jumped up, swiping Lucifer’s arm from me as fast as I could.

“Oh?” Lucifer asked casually. I froze. Was there some sort of punishment for spiting Lucifer? There was a certain glimmer to his eyes – was he angry now?

“Aww, I see,” Lucifer crooned. With a stretch he took a grip on my shoulder and dragged me to stand before him. Distracted by his glittering eyes, I didn’t see his leg sweep out as he straightened. My feet were kicked out from beneath me and I landed on the stone floor on my knees.

Yeah, ouch.

“Well hello,” Lucifer said, propping a foot up on my shoulder. I winced as his heel dug in, but then he added the weight of his other leg to it.

“I’m sorry,” I croaked.

“You should be!” he said happily. “Lying to angels like that. Tut-tut, Chaos. You know they’re looking all over for your little girlfriend?”

Inside, I felt a strange coolness. Bella was furious, but calm. She knew how to play this game it would seem.

But me? I wanted to protect her. So I opened my mouth, about to spout something about not knowing what he was talking about.

“Oh no, spare me that,” said Lucifer, holding up a hand dramatically. “I don’t want to talk with you. Summon your mistress, little slave.”

My jaw clamped shut. Humiliation spread over me and I gritted my teeth angrily. How dared he talk to me like that? He wasn’t the boss of me! “You-”

But I was cut off from within. Suddenly I felt myself callously shunted aside, crashing into a corner of myself. My limbs were moving but I had no control over them.

My hands shoved Lucifer’s feet from my shoulder. “Good morning,” Bella’s voice said coldly.

“Oh hey, doll!” Lucifer grinned, crossing one leg over the other knee. “I hope you don’t mind, I was using your footstool.”

Footstool? I wanted to squawk in horror. Bella didn’t seem to care. She was on her (mine?) feet now and dusting herself off. “I need a portal,” she was saying through me. “My slave is going to fetch my body on earth.”

Lucifer tutted. “Darling, everyone’s been looking for you. You know, I could make a lot of money if I told them where you are.”

Bella snorted. “As if you will. Give me a portal.”

“You know, I want a personal slave too,” Lucifer whined. He held up a hand, pretending to investigate his manicured fingernails.

“Lucifer!” Bella barked. Then, as he raised his eyebrows, she checked herself. “Lucifer,” she said politely. “I really need a portal.”

Lucifer waved his fingers at himself, making his rings glimmer. Bella continued. “I can pay you,” she said sweetly. I could feel her smile on my face.

“Of course you’re going to pay me,” drawled Lucifer. “But in what?”

Bella hesitated. “I can bring you some souls?” she offered.

Lucifer dropped his hand into his lap. “I like it when payment benefits everyone. Darling, you want to rule the three realms? Isn’t that it?”

“I want Nirvana,” Bella said cautiously. “Only one of the realms.”

“Only the strongest,” drawled Lucifer with a drag Queen-esque flip of the hand. “Now listen to me, chickling. I’ll give you a portal, and you will go get your body back, but you have to challenge God to a duel afterwards. It’s time someone dethrones the old fart.”

Bella hesitated.

“A duel, that’s all,” said Lucifer. “and as the prize, you’ll wager the rulership of the sky realm. Don’t you think it’ll be a lot easier to get into Nirvana if you can wage war against it with the power of the hordes of angels and demons, instead of your little piddly vampire-army? Hmm, girl?”

Bella hesitated again. I knew why. Lucifer was one to give gifts – at a price. “What do you want in return?” she asked cautiously.

“Oh, you know, I really just want to see that old deity crushed under someone’s heel,” he said viciously, bringing his fingers to his lip. “But, ah, for payment – hmmm we shall see.”

“We shall see?” Bella asked sharply. “I don’t think so.”

Lucifer flipped out a hand. In his palm, a miniature portal hovered, glowing a dark purple. “You don’t want a portal, darling?”

Bella gulped. Lucifer’s fingers waved around the portal. “I’ll make sure the angels look away as your slave travels,” he cooed.

Don’t do it! I thought as loudly as I could.

Bella hesitated.

Lucifer pouted. “Of course, if you don’t want it, I’ll have to respect my agreements to the ruling heavens and bla bla bla, you know how divine paperwork is, and,” he shrugged “I’ll have to turn you and your slave in to the angels.”

Bella grimaced.

Lucifer tilted his head. “As a great leader once said,” and he paused for dramatic effect, making a pitiable face “’Sad’.”

Bella scowled. “Fine!” she reached forward. “Give me the portal!”

“Ecx-el-lent!” Lucifer cheered, dropping the portal into my palm. It was heavy but Bella’s strength allowed me to hold it. “There you go darling. Use it well!” Now grinning most viciously, he kicked his legs up onto his armrest and returned to draping across his throne.

Bella smiled nastily in return. I felt her sarcasm, but at the same time her glee. With Lucifer officially on her side, she was one step closer to Nirvana.

“My Name is Chaos” Chapter Nine, Part One

I woke up in a fog. The world felt coated in an invisible mist. I didn’t place the room I was in, couldn’t recognize that weird photograph on the wall, or the wallpaper-covered walls.

Dizzily, I sat up. My chest was bandaged, but my jeans were still on. There was no pain, but I guessed that was courtesy of my massive brain fog. Too much painkillers? I shifted to the edge of the bed and looked around. There was Mark’s jacket and a pile of clothes.

I dressed like a robot. Recent events tumbled back at me, but I felt numb. There were no emotions in me to react to them. I felt aimless, empty. I wandered to the bedroom door and found myself wondering if it was a good idea. Maybe I should lie down. But I wasn’t sleepy, just limp emotionally.

After a moment of standing before the door and staring at it while debating with myself, it opened. The burly vampire was there, with two other female vamps. They seemed surprised at seeing me. I just blinked, brain not registering anything.

We stood like that for a minute, them staring at me and me staring at them. Then, the burly vampire cleared his throat. He held up a greasy paper bag. “Your food,” he said.

I didn’t understand. My brain was just so slow. I pressed palms to the side of my head. One of the female vampires stepped forward and I recognized her from being one of Bella’s troupe.

“Come on, you’re supposed to still be in bed,” she said, taking me by the elbows and steering me back into the room, then to the bed where she sat me down.

The room spun. I was guided down into the pillow, where I landed face-first. My arms didn’t want to move. I drifted away.

“Hey!”

I jumped, yet my body barely moved. I blinked, but could barely lift my head now. I felt like I was getting worse. I dug my hands into the mattress to prop myself up. The vampires were watching me – with pity?

“You need to eat. It’s going to absorb the poison,” she said. The burly vampire was at her side now, offering what looked like greasy potatoes and a sandwich. The sight made me want to retch.

I shook my head, sliding back down into the pillows. My eyes drifted shut.

“Bella’s going to be furious if you don’t eat,” she moaned. “Come on, please eat.”

I felt something. It pierced my fog like a knife. Love. Bella. I was suddenly awake, mind sharp and cut open.

I struggled up onto my arms, then sat up. “Bella?” I asked. Within me, there was happiness, but it didn’t make sense. Something in me was squealing like a fangirl just at the mention of her. I felt happy, light and giddy. Also nauseous.

The vampires nodded. The food was offered. “She wants you to eat,” the burly dude said, and the woman nodded enthusiastically. I felt like a toddler being coerced to eat their vegetables.

Bella. My mind was full of her. Recent events, the bow, our happy time yesterday, it all clashed together in me with this intense coating of happiness. Of desire to please her. To just be beside her. This fascination.

I looked dizzily at them. Did they feel feel this way about her too? Was that why everyone followed her and why she wasn’t their juicebox?

“W-why-” I tried to ask, but the food was put in my face.

“Eat!” they chorused together, but it wasn’t mean. They just seemed frightened.

I took a bite of the sandwich and chewed. My mouth was dry. It was such a chore, but I got through it. Then, I dropped it into my lap. There, I’d done my part. Now for them.

“Why do you follow Bella?” I asked, thinking that yeah, I should havce been asking this days ago. Don’t ask Bella the questions. Ask the minions.

They looked uneasily at each other. “You need to eat,” the woman said. “Come on, eat some more.”

“No!” I snapped. “Tell me!” I wasn’t taking orders from them!

Again, they looked at each other. The woman crouched down before me, clearing her throat.

“Bella is our leader,” she said, and again I felt like the toddler. “And we follow her.”

“Why?” I croaked, feeling that I already knew the answer. I did, didn’t I?

Again, they exchanged a look. The woman cleared her throat again and stood up. She dusted off her hands.

“You’ll know once you’re awakened,” she said quietly. “Eat your sandwich now.”

I wanted to throw the sandwich on the floor. But what would Bella do if I didn’t eat it? I took a mouthful grimly.

“We’re going to be around if you need anything. For now just stay in bed and rest. Let us know if you need anything,” she said, drawing away.

The big hulking dude was about to say something. But he didn’t. With a nod in my direction, he walked away. They closed the door behind themselves, and I was alone.

I really could have used some water, but got that sandwich down anyways. The potatoes could rot in hell. I flopped back down on the bed and let the mist cover me. It was as I was drifting away that I realized that I missed home.