Monday, August 27, 2012

Scrawl of Dreams (Unedited)

Scrawl of Dreams

Ra’Chaun Rogers
Chapter I: The Concord. 

He walked, it was cold as usual, not blistering, but to him no cold was good. He wouldn't be out here if he didn't need to, but of course, he did. Walking with a cautious step, mindful that no one must see his face, not that any sane soul would travel this way. Still this was no consolation, for this was Winterbourne country and a Winterbourne he was not. They had taken everything and in doing so gained complete control although how they rose to prominence was a mystery, he was sure that his destination would provide a remedy to the cancer plaguing his world. The wilderness swirled around him in the torrent of snow; the howls of distant animals graced his ears. Slowly he entered a hollow wound in the earth. As he went deeper, the freezing cold gave way to a tingle. There was a dim light, which became brighter as he approached. There were rumors that this cave was guarded by something so horrible, the realm of nightmares wouldn’t dare conjure it up. Finally, he reached a cavern, illuminated by a translucent green fluid, hanging from stalagmites. They were like hesitant tear drops, cried by the cave long ago and along with the soft light they gave off there was also warmth. Below, a mirrored pool waited its surface calm, unmoving, beautiful, this was the ‘Fourth Wall’. He blinked at his reflection, his hair had grown, long black locks draping over his shoulders and his eyes, almost feral, were alien to him. How long had it been, since he’d been told about this place? He took a deep breath, pealing off his heavy clothes; he shed them for something lighter a white cloth over shirt and pants like something one would wear in a tropical climate. As he prepared to plunge into the liquid below, a sound reverberated through the cave, a sound much like that of water moving through strained metal pipes. Was this it, the horrible guardian of the fourth wall?  Jumping back he braced himself, a gale force wind slapped his locks back into his face, followed by a vertical wall of water. It spouted up from the pool and hit the ceiling, Where is it? The liquid hung in the air like a cloud of smoke, if formed a sphere as a light moved across its reflective surface. And then he heard it, the ear splitting screech, followed another gust. He covered his face and tried not to lose his balance, the wind stopped and standing directly across from him was something constructed of his childhood nightmares. It was a deathly gray, bent backward as its head spun around to observe him, its mouth or what counted for one appeared stitched shut, along with it’s eyes. It jerked around horribly as if it were on the verge of seizure, it’s elbows and knees were bent in the wrong angles, it stank of death, of violence. I’ve come too far to be stopped now.  The young man placed his hands at his sides, took in deep breathes, closed his eyes. The creature reared back ready to lunge toward him, it shook uncontrollably and launched itself over the hole.
Show time, the young man opened his eyes, which were now gleaming silver and a bright flash filled the room.  
Roderick stopped, saved his work, and logged off; he’d been writing this story for as week. It started as a project to relive stress and exercise recommended by his friend Sierra, but now he couldn’t stop as if something compelled him to write, as if he had a duty to tell this story. He walked over to his bed removed his glasses and laid down, it was as if his entire life force went his work, scrawling his dreams on to paper making them real, solid, dense. Sleep now hung on his eyelids; he’d write tomorrow, for now sleep.
He closed his eyes slowly dwelling between the point of reality and the rapid eye movements that awaited him in dreamtime. As his eyes closed he imagined himself in the story he wrote, nothing was different. Same town he lived in, nothing different except he could do what ever he felt like.  He was rattled awake by the sound of footsteps and his eyes shot open. “Who’s there?”  He waited for a reply but none came.
   It’s probably just Avery. He closed his eyes again and tried at a second attempt to go to sleep, and seemed to be succeeding.
   “Yes” he whispered. He shook his head.  
   Roderick got up out of his bed, opened the door, and walked into the hallway. “Avery did you call me?”
      “No.” said a loud voice from a door in the middle of the hallway.” You hearin’ things go to bed.”
  Roderick was about to ask his mother but stopped himself when he realized that she was at her boyfriend’s house across town. He closed his door and hit the bed, closed his eyes and hoped that he could get to sleep. And he did.
During the night he’d dreamt of a young man with dreadlocks like his swimming in a tunnel filled with water, no, not water; something else. He was woken up mid dream and seemed to be stricken by sleep paralysis. Of course, the only parts of his body that worked were his eyes and mouth. At the foot of his bed, he caught sight of a young man sitting down.
      “Hello Roderick” the young man dread locks that were covering his eyes.
       Roderick closed his eyes tight and utilizing the ostrich theory he hoped it would be gone when he opened them.
      “Open your eyes” the young man had a wide grin on his face too wide to be human. He wore a T-shirt with a soccer ball on it, blue jeans, and converse. “I’m not going anywhere just yet.”
     “What …I…I…Is it that you want?” Roderick broke into his nervous stutter. 
   “Only to talk”
     Roderick blinked and the young man was sitting in his computer chair. “I'm here to give you what you want.” The figure moved in the chair a bit.
    “What I want?” There were a couple of things that Roderick wanted.
       “I want to escape”
    “Great me too.” The Young man spun around in the chair playfully. “So do you want it or not, what am I saying, of course you do.”
     “How do I get it?”
        “Just shake my hand.” The young man smiled beneath his locks.
         “But I can’t move, sleep paralysis.” Roderick breathed.
         “Yes you can, get up.” The young man motioned for him to rise.
         Roderick bolted up immediately as if by some strange magnetism. “Ok… so we just shake and that’s it?”
         “That’s it, come on.”
       “What do I call you?” Roderick asked
       “It doesn’t really matter because by tomorrow, I’ll be you.” The Young man smiled and his eyes shown a bright silver.

     Roderick lay in his bed staring at the ceiling. It was 7:00 AM.  A cold sweat coursed down his brow and caused his hair to stick to his face. He looked over at his alarm clock flashing 7:00 and buzzing loudly.
   Why do I keep this thing, all it does is make noise. He slammed his fist down on the snooze button and got up. It was Thursday and school was at 9:00. Roderick put his hair in a rubber band, put on his glasses, walked to his dresser, and stepped over the pile of clothes on the floor. Reaching for the drawer, he took out a pair of boxers and an undershirt.  Opening the second drawer he pulled out a pair of Levis, then shuffled through his bottom drawer looking for a shirt to wear. He picked out a shirt with a fox on it and threw it next to the pants; he then picked up a dirty towel with boxers and undershirt in hand and walked out of his room.
         A few seconds after Roderick left a man two inches shorter than him, but obviously older walked in quietly. Slowly picked up Roderick’s wallet, he removed twenty dollars and crept out again.   
          After ten minutes the door flew open and Roderick walked back in. “Damn it, my hair.” stepping in front of the mirror he attempted to move the wet, matted mess from its entanglement not noticing the small thin crack that formed as he stepped in front of it.
    He walked up to his stereo and hit the Power button as raging guitar riffs and screeching vocals roared from the speakers.
         “Turn that shit off.” A voice lumbered from behind his door and a body followed” Nigga you black. You can’t’ listen to that shit”
          Roderick cringed. The word Nigga cut him like barbed wire.  He hated that word. He also hated his brother Avery the living embodiment of It. Avery rushed through the door. He never approved of Roderick leading the lifestyle he did or the music that came with it. Avery was your typical black stereotype, thuggish, listened to rap, spoke improper English, and was generally negative.
            Roderick never liked Avery, not in sight or in mind. He’d often times wondered why his mother didn’t abort him. He was an accident. 
        Roderick put his clothes on with no hurry and hadn’t even turned to acknowledge his brother shuffling through his drawer for his keys, wallet chain, and MP3 player.
         “You hear me?” Avery’s tone was annoyed.
         “Yeah, but do I care?” Roderick still didn’t turn around.
          “Man whatever” Avery walked out the room slightly angered.
            All the while Roderick hadn’t noticed that his mirror was cracking nor did he notice his reflection moving of its own accord. He turned to get his cell phone from the dresser. He stopped to notice that his reflection was staring at him. Its gaze was cold and distant. 
  “What the hell!?” Roderick stepped forward
     It made no attempt to move, if only to watch him move forward.
      He raised an eyebrow and tried to touch the mirror. At this it moved to match him. The mirror rippled like water and as the reflection reached out the glass bent around its hand.
        “Oh shit!” Roderick Jumped back and hit his bed causing it to make contact with the wall.
        Avery ran into the room “What the fuck happened?”
       Roderick looked at the mirror. Nothing was out of place; his reflection was where it was supposed to be “Uh I slipped...” Roderick looked for something he could have slipped on, he wasn’t in the mood to deal with his brother calling him crazy. “On my socks”
        “Well keep it down.” Avery was attempting to sound like the adult he was supposed to be, rather than the Child he was. “You gonna wake da dog.” He slammed the door behind him.
           Asshole. Roderick got to his feet put on his sneakers then picked up his messenger bag lying on the left side of his bed near the window. He crept passed the mirror regarding it as a sleeping giant. He opened the door and glanced at the mirror quickly to see if anything had changed. But all stayed the same.
     He walked out his door ignoring the loud music and weed smoke coming from his brother’s room then continued down the long hall. Roderick stopped in front of his mother’s room. Natalie kept her room like any other woman. Lots of jewelry, too many clothes with an abundance of shoes. On her dresser was a five-year-old picture of her Roderick at 12 and Avery at 22, right next to the new photo of her and her boyfriend James. There was no indication that his father Malcolm and his mother had been together or that he had a father.  
         Roderick never liked the idea of his mother attempting to erase his father from the family’s collective memory. The methods she used to do so, included but were not limited to letting the phone ring out when ever Malcolm’s name appeared on the caller ID and calling Roderick a cab rather than risk a direct encounter when he visited his father.  
      He stepped out, jogged down the stairs, opened the front door, and left his house.
      Roderick read an old worn copy of the book Vigilance on the bus ride to school. That was coupled with a song rock, which was steadily damaging his eardrums so as not to be disturbed. He sat in one of the single seats to further make sure no one bothered him.  Despite his trying the book failed to hold his attention and his mind teetered between thoughts and dreams, the music as loud as it was only did to mesh both together.
       With heavy eyelids, he glimpsed something like a dog running beside the bus, and then he began to doze off, glasses hanging off of his face.
           “Where are you!?” a loud obnoxious voice behind him broke through the barrier of guitar riffs and into Roderick’s lucid dreaming. “Oh yeah well hurry up I ain’t got all day and I gotta meet Trina to go shopping.”
     Damn, please shut up. Roderick adjusted his glasses and turned his head to glare at the person only to realize it was his brother’s girlfriend Latisha. Roderick tried to look away quickly enough so as not to be noticed but had no luck.
  “Hey, you’re A’s brother right?” her voice was even louder although she sat behind him.    “Uh, yeah… hi” Roderick trailed off and looked away 
     “Yeah well tell him I’m going shopping, so I’m gonna need money.”  She said nonchalantly
       Guess that means he’ll be doing more illegal shit or stealing from mom … not that she’d notice. “Sure. I’ll tell him.” Roderick buried his head in his book.
      Latisha leaned over his shoulder and looked at the yellow pages of the book he was reading. “Damn that book looks old, what is it” she said loudly.
     Roderick winced at the sound of her voice and its volume. “It’s Vigilance; it’s about a young man who goes about saving a city in the mid-west, using the occult.”
     “Oh, that’s for school?”
“No. It’s for me”
“You know, you don’t seem weird” Latisha looked at him somewhat puzzled
   “Excuse me?” Roderick raised an eyebrow.
“Well Avery said you were weird, you’re trying to be white and shit”
  Son of a bitch. “Listen Avery’s a liar with a Peter Pan complex.”
 “What, does that mean?”
   Roderick turned around “It means he’s damn near 30 living with his mother”
  “Naw, you lying, he said he was 22”
    Roderick had enough sense in his head not to try and contest her. Who knows what his brother had said to make himself look good and credible. “You’re right. I am lying. I’m only his brother right?”
     Latisha was quiet for the rest of the ride to school.

       The day went as usual a blur of long speeches about the important part classical literature played in our daily lives, the fact that PIs are squared and not round, and the glory of the rock cycle. How do I endure this everyday? His thoughts time traveled to the figure of a young girl with braided hair, chestnut skin, and beautiful full lips. Oh yeah that’s why. Time was apparently knee deep in a swamp so; it took a considerable amount of time for the day to come to a close. It did however in spite of itself.    
      The hallways were barren except for the few who had tutoring or wanted to be out of the house. Roderick strolled along nodding to those he knew sitting and standing. It was 3:00 and with his classes finished he’d bum around for a while, locate a quite corner to read or a loud open space in which to get lost. Roderick dreaded his house, even its aura was oppressive, and his only alternative was to go to his father’s house. Like he’d be home or crash at Sierra’s and well, that wasn’t doing anything but causing trouble. 

                   “I’m sorry Randy, its over.” The familiar monotone yet feminine voice raised an octave. Roderick turned his head to see the tail end of a bad scene.

       “But Sierra, can’t we just talk a little, I mean, we can work this out.”
       “No, we can’t, you’re too jealous…first you start a fight at the movies, because a guy, who was obviously gay, said he liked my shoes and now you’re accusing me of sleeping with Roderick?”

       “What am I supposed to think, you go out like every night with the guy, to the arcade and then I found out that nigga’s spent the night at your crib?” Randy gave his best thuggish scowl. “I haven’t even spent the night with you.”

       “It’s not like that, his older brother attacked him with a bottle one night and he was afraid to go home.”

         “Well tell that bitch ass nigga to handle his own problems.” Randy yelled.

         “Randy , I don’t turn away friends and when we started dating you told me you had no problem with me having a male best friend.” Sierra crossed her arms and cocked her hip. “And since you’ve shown me you can’t do that, we’re over.”

         Randy turned and walked away, caught sight of Roderick and walked toward him, Randy was four inches tall than Roderick and about forty pounds heavier. “You’re real lucky there are people here right now, because I’d fuck you up.” He breathed heavily . “But if I catch you alone or outside of school, it’s on bitch ass nigga.” With that he pushed passed Roderick and down the hallway. 

         Sierra came up to Roderick and sighed. “Don’t worry about him Roderick he’s all talk.”
         “I’m sorry I was a party to that.” He replied, a melancholy expression plastered on his face. “Maybe we shouldn’t hang out for a while, at least until you two can sort things out.”
         “No, this has nothing to do with you.” She sighed again, her newly braided hair framing her angular mahogany face.  “It’s my bad choice in men, I don’t know why I can’t I ever find one that’s not a jealous, thug with violent tendencies.”
         Roderick shrugged, he didn’t like to think about why Sierra kept dating the wrong guys, mainly because he wasn’t one of them. “It’ll work out for you, look at me, I haven’t been with anyone in…forever.” He allowed himself a bitter laugh.
Sierra had been Roderick’s best friend since he’d first attended Endwater high school. Endwater was the second largest city on the eastern seaboard and had been a trading post for many years. It was divided into five districts; Roderick lived in Endwater Flats a suburb of Endwater city, which was the center of commerce. The three other districts were Endwater sound, which severed as a port fort the City, Endwater Fields which was literally a university island and Endwater Commons. The Commons as they were called was the most dangerous part of the City, where crime was a common occurrence and some people estimated that its residents perpetrated crimes committed outside of it. Sierra was born and raised in the Commons, she’d taken a liking to Roderick a right away enjoying his quit wit and sarcastic humor. Her environment had made her less of a lady and more of a survivor and Roderick respected that, even if it meant that she wouldn’t ever think of him as anything other than a friend. Her type was tall, athletic with broad shoulders, a voice like a base drum, and a carefree swagger. Roderick was 5’7 and as wide as a toothpick, not to mention that his voice was in a perpetual bout with puberty and thanks to a car accident, what could’ve been a carefree swagger was now a nervous shuffle. But she tolerated him, whether for entertainment or out of some slight emotional attachment he could only guess, but he hoped for the latter.

       Sierra looked apologetically at him and then swiftly changed the subject. “So what’s up?”

       “Not much, except I realized that seeing you here is the best part of my day. Roderick exhaled slowly. “I’m now deciding whether I should cry about that now or later.”
         Sierra smirked and slapped him on the shoulder. “Man, you always got jokes.”
         “Yeah, I was thinking of trying stand up.” Roderick said with a tinge of melancholy. She was the brightest part of his day.

         “So are we heading to the chest tonight or what?” The Cyber chest or the ‘Chest’ as it was called was a local arcade, she and Roderick liked to frequent.
“Sure I’m just gonna, take my stuff home, and meet you there.” Roderick adjusted his glasses nervously.

“Ok, I’ll be waiting for you.” She giggled and smiled with just a little seduction behind it. Maybe there was something to Randy’s assumptions.  “I’m going to head home and change.” With that she turned and walked away.

         Roderick stared at her, his forlorn eyes held until, a swift movement to his right caught his attention, a shadow on the periphery of his vision, Must be imagining things, that’s been happening a lot lately.  Traveling down the hall he turned right, making his way into the bathroom. It was cold, the smell of urine filled the air, the once white porcelain walls now marred with graffiti, and the steel stalls were riddled with fake phone numbers and scribbles. Standing in front of a urinal he emptied his bladder, Whew I needed that.  At that moment the hairs on Roderick’s neck stood like soldiers, something had moved past him, fast.
         “Hello.” He turned, zipped up his pants and looked around. What the hell is going on?
         There was no sign of who may have been behind him and if someone was there, I’ve gotta get out of here.  Turning on the sink Roderick lathered up his hands and splashed his face with cold water. Chill out man.  
         “Yeah relax.” The voice wasn’t behind him but in front of him, in the mirror.

         Roderick looked up and came face to face with himself, well a version of himself. His hair was long and he wore stylish wire frame glasses. He had on the same clothes but wore them differently, better. Roderick began to breathe heavily and he shook just a little bit, as his mind attempted to adjust to what it was seeing.
     “I’m losing it right?” Roderick put his hands over his eyes, shaking his head causing his pony tailed locks to bob. “This isn’t happening, a daylight hallucination, like in that movie I saw.”

       “Relax man, you know me, we spoke last night.” The reflection put it’s hands up in a calming motion. “I’m just here to let you know you’re about to be in some trouble.”

       “Trouble. What kind of trouble?” Roderick still cradled his head in his hands but looked up between his fingers. “From where, from whom?”

         At that moment a fist rammed in to Roderick’s jaw nearly lifting him off his feet and knocking his glasses off his face, spinning in slow motion he caught a glimpse of his attacker. Randy, I should’ve known.  He hit the floor with thud.

         “Think I’m gonna let a bitch made nigga like you take my girl.” Randy landed a boot to Roderick’s ribs.

         Tears streamed down his face, as he clutched his side, another followed lifting him off of the floor momentarily, he hit the ground and pathetically groped for his glasses.

         “Get up.” Randy yelled.
         Roderick rolled over to face Randy blood trickling from his mouth, You need help. The voice was so clear in Roderick’s mind so familiar even more so than the pain he felt right now.

         “Help Me,” Roderick whispered.

         “What?” Randy grabbed Roderick by his collar and hoisted him up. “what did you say bitch, You want help.” He delivered a cross to Roderick’s jaw but didn’t let him go, another punch came as Randy began to pummel him.

         You need my help I’m taking over.  At that moment Roderick felt another presence enter his mind and then blacked out.

Chapter II: Blaq Prince


         Roderick sat up in his bed, cold sweat ran down his back like a serpent snaking across a desert. He looked at his surroundings; the bed room was cool and black. He put on his glasses, which were slightly cracked, the light from his alarm clock blinked 8:30. How did I get in my room.

         “Roddy?”  Natalie’s voice rang out through the hollow hall. “Are you up?”

         Roderick rubbed his eyes with is hands.  Of course I’m up who could sleep with you yelling like that? “Yeah mom I’m up.” Roderick stepped out of bed and ran his fingers through his hair. Walking out into the hallway he noticed his mother putting on her earrings in a hallway mirror. “What’s the matter why were you yelling?”

         “Well, your brother Avery didn’t come home last night, have you heard from him?” She maneuvered her earnings as if they were wires of a bomb, and one false move would set them off.

         “No mom sorry, can’t say that I have.” Roderick closed his door. He wouldn’t ask Avery for a molecule of air if he were drowning, so talking to him causally wasn’t going to happen. However, on the edges of his mind something told him that Avery was gone and may never come back.

         “Ok well, I’ll call him later I’m going out, love you honey.” Roderick heard her descend the stairs.

         Roderick swung his legs toward the edge of the bed, and felt a small tinge in his stomach. “How did I end up here, I was in school, getting my ass kicked by Randy.”

         “I made contact with you.” Roderick’s reflection began to speak. “That’s what happened.”

         “Contact, but that was a…?”

         “That thing in the bathroom earlier, I couldn’t let you get your ass kicked, there’s still so much to do, and my enemies from Scrawl are still on my trail.”

         “But Scrawl’s just at story I created.” Roderick plopped back onto his bed.        

         “Hate to break it to you but Scrawl existed long before you did, you were just taping into the Stasis, I’d tell you all about it, but it’d be better to show you.” 

         “How are you going to do that?” Roderick raised an eyebrow.

         His reflection sighed heavily, the glass stretched out like bubble gum. “I need your body.”

         Roderick crawled backward, a sinking fear framing his face.  “What’ll happen to me?”

         “Nothing, we’ll be sharing the same body.” He shrugged. “Look I can explain better to you once you’ve seen the Stasis.”

         “How do I do that?” Roderick’s face calmed a little bit.

         “Well you just Sleep” The last word was a voice in his head, and he was out.

They stood at the edge of a stream both on either side. Roderick walked toward the reflection that stood on the opposite side. With each step, he spun taking in the beauty of the new area. The sky was a powder blue and there was a thin haze all around, small green lights twinkled in the distance and the trees blew but there was no wind. Roderick noticed that his reflection didn’t wear, his eyes were silver, his locks were wild and untamed, and from what Roderick could tell, he was very athletic.

         “I thought you were supposed to be me.” Roderick raised an eyebrow. “You look different, better.”
         “Well I’m more of the other you, from Scrawl.” The smile was normal this time.

         “Right, do you have a name; I mean I don’t recall giving you one.” Roderick scratched his head. “I mean it’s mine but I assume you want your own.”

         “I have a name.”

         “You do, what is it?”
         “I’m called Blaq Prince back in Scrawl.” he smiled.

         “So if I give you my body, what do I get?”
“I’ll make your life better, I’m an Ink Dweller, we have power. Not only that but, I’m charming, I’m witty and I kicked Randy’s ass although you weren’t awake to see that.” Blaq laughed

         “About that, what happened?”

         “When I’m awake you’re asleep, but you can see what I’m doing and vice versa, but that’s only for now.”

         “So will I be like schizophrenic?” Roderick gave a puzzled look.

         “No, once this happens I’m you, it’ll be like the conscious and the subconscious or two halves of the brain.” Blaq rubbed his onyx chin. “It’s not like two people in one body, it’s more like a synthesis.”  
         “Oh ok, so how do we do this?”          
         “You just walk to the edge of the Stasis and you’ll wake up.”

         “Oh ok, whose gonna be in control?” Roderick asked.

         “I’ll take over, as I recall you have to meet with Sierra at the arcade, and I know how you feel about her, just leave it to me.”

         “Oh ok.” Roderick and Blaq walked to the edge of the Stasis, looking back he watched Blaq Prince vanish. Breathing deeply he walked toward the infinite expanse before him. 


       The sounds of exploding cars and bloody fights filled the air. Lights flashed from machines that prompted their users to dance on time to a beat. He stood still adjusting to the sounds and light
People went head to head on steep highways and racetracks at break neck speeds. If you’d like to kill an hour of your life, take a walk in the park, if you’d like to waste it, hit the local arcade. The Cyber Chest was an arcade and video game retailer that had been around since anyone could remember. All of its patrons were what you expected the younger versions of seedy bar flies that rarely had sex and used date rape drugs to do so look like. Roderick pushed his way through the crowd lining the arcade machines, beyond the smoke and smell of unwashed bodies he’d hoped to find a bit of fun while trying not to get sucked in. Now arcades usually had a high male to female population, that being 99:1, the females that were regulars sometimes made you wonder whether it wasn’t a 100:0 ratio. On occasion, an attractive female did show up and if she wasn’t on someone’s arm, she fell into three categories, Shrew, Crazed, and Rare. Tonight Roderick was looking for one in particular 
         There she sat staring at the lights of the newest racing game cooling off, from having danced her heart to a screaming pace. Roderick had seen her when he walked in ,hips like you wouldn’t believe and an ass to go with it; her hair was braided in a way that reminded him of tree roots. She wore a fitting novelty t-shirt, and pant’s so tight, you could see the change in her pocket. He brushed his hair in front of his face, to imitate the fashion of the day, his locks perfectly framing his glasses. Adjusting his t-shirt so that the logo on it was clearly visible, he tightened the belt on his skinny jeans to make them look even tighter. Finally he dusted off his sneakers and walked over.
         “Mind if I join you?” Roderick stood next to her seat. 

         She looked up a bit annoyed, but then her eyes changed, lighting up like stars. “Roddy, you made it, I was worried.” She got up and hugged him tightly.

         “Why would you be worried?” He hugged her back a bit closer.

         “I heard you and Randy had a fight in the bathroom.” She looked at him with a hint of sadness. “And he’s bigger than you…so I was afraid…”

         “Well as you can see I’m ok, but enough about that, let’s play some Zero fist.”
         “Oh well I didn’t know you were in such a hurry to get your butt whooped.” She laughed.

         Zero Fist was a 3D fighting game that both Sierra and Roderick had become acquainted over. On Roderick’s first day, he’d come to the arcade to find some competition. Here he and Sierra ran into each other and preceded to a match, after realizing they went to the same school, they began hanging. They walked up to the game cabinet, slotted their coins and selected their characters, they both picked Caporeia fighters.

         “How about we make this interesting, the loser buys dinner.” Sierra smirked.
         “Oh, sure, I hope you have enough to spot me though.” Roderick laughed.

         The first round she beat him badly inciting combo after combo, but there were three rounds in a head-to-head match and he’d have two more to win. The second round he used a flurry of kicks and acrobatics to throw her off guard and win. The third round would be tough, she didn’t seem at all worried, but he knew she was. Roderick could read people and he’d known from experience Sierra’s little nervous ticks. He watched her lips twitch and knew she was as nervous as he was. She began a simple combo, a barrage of kicks coming for him, the trick to winning would be anticipating her final attack. He waited for her to charge up a finishing blow and attack at the exact same time.

         Double K.O.” The voice from the machine blared.  

         “I guess we’re going Dutch.” Sierra smiled.

         “Yeah well let’s go now.” Roderick wiped sweat off of his face.

         They exited the arcade out into the cool night air. “You know I’ve always loved nights like this.” Roderick said as they began to walk, the moon hung large in the sky closer than it had ever been.

         “Oh yeah, why’s that?” Sierra put her hair in a ponytail using a rubber band.

         “Well it’s one of those nights, that makes you want to fall in love.” He smiled taking off his glasses to wipe the fog off.

         Sierra looked at him vacantly, as if transfixed by his words. “Yeah, I guess so.” She forced a laugh.

         They arrived at a small, Asian restaurant and were seated immediately; the place was almost empty and very quiet. They picked up their menus and looked them over. Instinctively Roderick checked his pockets for the money his mother had given him. God damn it Avery you fuck.
         “I’ve gotta go, I just realized I don’t have any money on me.” Roderick got up.

         “No, sit, I’ll pay for you.” Sierra had a worried expression on her face.

         Roderick sat back down. “Are you sure?”

         “Yes now sit and order.” She smiled.

         The waiter walked up to them and took their orders, she had shrimp with garlic sauce, and he had broccoli in the same manner. One thing Roderick loved about Sierra, besides the other things, was that she never made fun of him for being a vegetarian. So you only eat plants, it could be worse you could eat people.  

         “Hey did my remark about the night make you uncomfortable?” Roderick adjusted his glasses.

         “What, no, why would it?” Sierra looked around.

         “Well you gave me this kind of vacant look.”

         “It kinda caught me off guard.” She smiled nervously.

         “Well you know I’ve always been a hopeless romantic.” He tented his fingers.

         “I know, just not around me.”

         “Sorry, I’ll try not to be it so often.” He sighed.
“No, no it’s ok just give a sista some warning before you do it.” She laughed again this one was lighter.

         Roderick took a deep breath and thought about, what he came here to do. He hadn’t realized it but once he began talking to Sierra, everything became easier and seemed less depressing. He knew how he felt about her and now thanks to the Blaq persona had the courage to let her know. He reached across the table and grabbed her hand.

         “Sierra, would I be wrong if I said I wanted to kiss you?”

         She sat stunned; with a look so vast, she could’ve been calculating the expanse of space itself. “N-no.” She said almost breathlessly.

         At that moment Roderick leaned across the table and kissed her, a hot bolt of warm electricity, shot from his heart to his brain and nether region at lighting speed. It was as if the longing built up in a two-year friendship had culminated in this kiss. Time stopped and it could’ve stayed that way for all Roderick cared. He pulled back and she stared at him.

         “Maybe you should sit next to me.” He smiled
         She shook her head slowly. “Y-yeah.” She went to get up, but their orders had arrived.
         They were both slow to start they just stared at each other from across the table, then began taking little bites of their food. Roderick had lost his appetite; the electricity had settled in his stomach and refused to leave. The only thing that could satisfy him now was her and he knew she felt the same way. They finally finished and began to walk Sierra’s building was a few blocks ahead and as they walked they said nothing, Roderick listened in the night, he’d thought someone had been following them but wasn’t sure. Looking ahead, he stopped and held her hand for her to do the same.

         “What’s wrong?” Sierra looked at him puzzled.

         “Shh, someone’s following us.”

         “So it’s true, you were cheating on me bitch.” Randy had stepped out from a door way behind them; he had a knife in his hand, his face was bruised and strangely pale. His eyes were bloodshot and he looked disheveled, his cornrows were undone and out of place.

         “Randy, what are you doing?” Sierra stood in front of Roderick.

         “Catching you and this nigga in the act, just like I knew I would.” Randy advanced toward them. “You may have gotten lucky last time but now, I’m gonna kill your ass.”
         Roderick moved Sierra behind him something about Randy was off; it was most likely the effects of their previous altercation. “If you want a rematch we can have it, I’m sending her home though.” “Run.” He whispered to her.

         Sierra cocked her eyebrow at him. “And leave you to get stabbed, hell no, we just started something and I’ll be damned if he finishes it.”

         “Sierra.” He cradled her face in his hands. “Trust me, we’ll have a lot more time together just get home.”
         She looked in his eyes for any sign of hesitation, but he was dead serious, what ever was going on it wasn’t anything she’d experienced before. “Ok, but you better not die.”
         “I won’t, I promise.” He kissed her passionately. “Now go.”

         She ran away from Roderick and Randy, down the block, toward her building hoping that this wouldn’t be the last time she saw Roderick. They had begun something new and though her last relationship had been bad, she knew Roderick would be different and she’d welcome it.  Please live.


Chapter III: The Unbound 
         It had dwelled in the corner of the eye, jumping from consciousness to consciousness; dream-to-dream in search of its prey it had been given a mission. Its mission was its purpose, if it had no mission it would not exist, could not exist. So it hunted and hunted, and suddenly, it found its prey. Though it had no eyes or ears to speak of, it could ‘see’ him clearly, there was a problem another being was in its way attempting to take its prize, its purpose away. Shouting loudly the other one waved a small weapon in its hand. Its prey seemed unwavering as always, its trip through the fourth wall had transformed it into a dog it was still as ferocious and steadfast as ever. From the rooftop, it crept down the building, proving that though it was confined to a form of the reality its laws did not confine it.

         “Put the knife down Randy.” Roderick relaxed, he was calm and oh so collected. “You wouldn’t want to hurt yourself now would you?”

         “Shut the fuck up, I don’t know what you did to me last time but it won’t happen again.” Randy’s voice cracked under his hysterical scream.

         Roderick put up his hands in a placating gesture. “Listen to me, there’s no need to do this. You and Sierra can sit down and talk.”

         “Fuck that.” Randy broke into a run, knife waving wildly in front of him.

         This isn’t going well; I have to stop him before this gets out of hand. Roderick breathed deeply and closed his eyes; a surge of electricity began to build in the center of his skull and shot straight down his spine. He formed an image in his mind and then called it forth. “Stop!”

         Randy’s eyes went white, his arms slapped to his sides causing him to drop the knife and his legs stopped mid run as if caught in a snare and tied together. He hit the ground and due to the inertia slid a few feet forward. Completely paralyzed, he lay there like a rock.

         “I’m sorry Randy but you forced me to do this, I’m going to leave you here and when I go you’ll regain your ability to move.” Roderick walked over to the knife, picked it up and put it in his pocket. “Just so you won’t get any ideas.” He adjust his glasses and began to walk away, but a loud thump stopped him in his tracks and slow, measured foot steps caused him to whirl around; he took a step forward attempting to peer into the darkness beyond Randy’s comatose body. Strange gleaming eyes peered at him and a sense a familiar dread washed over. It was a German Sheppard, lithe and muscular; it crouched into position ready to spring like a coiled serpent. It opened its mouth wide; its jaw unhinged and down its throat was an extra set of jagged teeth. Roderick knew what this was, or at least Blaq Prince did and he didn’t think it would find him so soon. He took off his glasses and his pupils began to glow like fireflies in the pale moonlight. Crouching in a defensive position, he watched as the animal’s eyes move from him to Randy. No The beast crept closer a glistening pink tongue more reptilian than canine extended from it’s mouth and wrapped around Randy’s leg. Roderick, reached into his pocket to retrieve Randy’s knife.
         She had come to a halt in a short time, her years of athletics, conditioned her to run for long periods without getting winded, but tonight’s happenings all but stole her breath. What the hell am I doing, I can’t let Roderick get hurt over me.  Stopping short of the entrance to her building, she spun on her heel and turned around. She thought about the day and didn’t think that breaking up with Randy would lead to this series of events. It wasn’t as if they were together for that long and it wasn’t like she considered him a serious suitor. They had slept together a couple of times and despite his begging, he never met her family. For the most part, they were in a physical relationship, with the title of boyfriend and girlfriend at his insistence. She was using him in a sense but wasn’t, she grew up around guys like Randy, or those he claimed to be like, guys who went from girl to girl no strings attached. So why was it when he landed on her he started to “catch feelings” as they say, or was it she who landed on him? Her thoughts jumped to Roderick, she was never sure of Roderick’s actual feelings for her until tonight. For a short while, she wasn’t even sure if he liked girls, and then once or twice she caught him staring at her ass out of the corner of her eye, mainly at the arcade, where she dressed her best. In hindsight she wondered why she dressed so attractively to go to such a place, it wasn’t like any of the guys there were her type. The only explanation was to catch Roderick’s eye, but she hadn’t been trying to, at least not consciously. She wasn’t even sure if she’d thought about Roderick in an amours way, sure she had a few fleeting fantasies of what kind of lover he’d be, though after tonight she’d love to make them come true.  I’ve got to stop them she took off like a bullet, sprinting down the four long blocks with ease and grace, her mind focused on saving Roderick’s life. Rounding the corner she stopped in her tracks awe struck and partly horrified, her eyes went wide and she jumped back.  
         Roderick’s eyes glowed wildly as he ran toward Randy’s unmoving body. “Move!” He called out coming to a halt just as the young man jostled to life.

         “What the hell is this, get it off of me.” Randy screamed, it appeared that while his body was unmoving he was conscious up to this point. “Gimme the knife.”

           Roderick crouched down and Randy snatched the blade away, taking the knife to the creatures tongue as it began to drag him toward its wide jaws. Metal touched flesh and an unearthly wail sounded in response, dragging its tongue back the beast shook unsteadily and darted forward, in two fluid leaps it was upon Randy locking it’s jaws around his leg. Not good Roderick’s eyes flashed brighter as he kicked the dog hard in the face. “Off!” It retreated back but not without leaving a nasty bite on Randy’s leg, he fell back and all but cried like a baby.
         “Call an ambulance…that shit might have rabies.” He rolled around clutching his leg.

         Roderick turned from Randy to the Sheppard, their eyes locked as it shook off his attack. Why hasn’t it come after me yet? He looked at it trying to figure out its motives. This was an Unbound any doubts he had about that, were thoroughly washed away when he met its otherworldly eyes. He thought of how he could kill it, in Scrawl he had the entire world at his command, his power granted him control over the forces of reality. Here in this reality, his abilities were greatly diminished, not knowing what he could and couldn’t do wasn’t going to help him, and the rules of the realm didn’t come with a manual. All he had was his ability to command, hoping that this would be enough to best the ferocious creature he took a gamble. It had moved before he finished his thought and if it weren’t for his otherworldly abilities the animal would’ve mauled him, but he hit the ground as it leapt at him causing the creature to fly clear over him. Sliding along the floor, he watched it turn around and was upon it before it could leap up again and although he couldn’t avoid its tongue, he didn’t stop and in one fluid motion grabbed the muscle, wrapped it around the dog’s throat and began to pull.
         “Roderick!”  Sierra stood with her eyes wide and her mouth open. “What the hell is that?”

         Damn it “A stray dog that attacked Randy, call an ambulance I think he’s hurt.” I don’t want her to see this. As Roderick contemplated his image in front of Sierra, he failed to notice the growing form below him until he was floating weightlessly eight feet in the air. The impact jarred his entire skeletal system, knocking the wind from him with great force, his mind worked frantically as his eyes caught sight of the creature in front of him, its form so hideous it was almost beautiful. The Unbound had cast off its disguise, and was now towering over Sierra and the fallen Randy who she sought to. It was at least eight feet in height, its gangling oddly angled limbs still had pieces of fur and flesh on them. Its twisting skull made one revolution making it impossible to tell which end was the top and which was the bottom. Its ashen skin had the texture of old leather and the strange X patterned stitching that served as a mouth opening made it look like something out of a marvelous horror film. How the hell is it able to manifest in this realm, If I need a body how come it doesn’t? Roderick turned to look at Sierra, she was frozen starting awe struck at the creature before her. Roderick figured she was in shock, and if he had to get her and Randy out of here safely, he’d have to act quickly. Dashing with greatest speed, he positioned himself between Sierra, Randy, and the Unbound.

         “I’m your prey, your purpose, leave them alone.” Roderick spread his arms in front of them. His eyes flared and his ponytail came undone draping his locks on his shoulders. “Sierra, Randy, move now!” His voice was low, but forceful, it carried with a persuasion that almost forcibly pried the shock from Sierra’s mind and the pain from Randy’s leg, they both scrambled back across the street.

         Sierra now in full control of her faculties pulled out her cell phone and dialed 911. “Yes hello, I’m at South window Avenue on the corner of Jones place my friend was bitten by a rabid dog.” She hung up as soon as the chatter on the other end subsided. “Are you ok?” She looked at Randy’s leg; it was bleeding but not profusely.

         “Mutha fuckin…what ever that is bit me, what do you think?” Randy snapped, his eyes were red from crying. “Tell them niggas to hurry, I could have rabies…I don’t wanna get no shot.” At that moment, Sierra wondered what she ever saw in him. As his heavy masculine fa├žade fell away, she saw him as a little boy and not the charming type.

         Sierra’s eyes looked up to see Roderick stabbing the creature as its tongue held him in the air and slammed him into a wall. His skin showed darker in contrast to his now flaming silver eyes. As his body hit the red brick, she called out putting her hand to her heart. She didn’t know what was going on, but she knew whatever it was, wasn’t good not for her, or the city of Endwater. The creature darted toward Roderick, who had just gotten to his feet and was unarmed. These were the longest minutes of her life, she was terribly afraid for Roderick and that fear trumped the notion that none of what she was seeing could possibly be happening. Roderick rolled out of the way of the creatures tongue, got up and threw the recovered knife into its open mouth. It staggered, regained its balance, and then screamed at him, charging wildly. Roderick’s back was against a wall as he eyed the beast , Sierra stared wondering why he didn’t move out of the way and she then noticed he’s saying something, but what she couldn’t hear. A deafening yelp sounded from the creature as it tripped and hit the floor hard. It came to a stop right before Roderick and Sierra watched as the hideous form convulsed and with each movement, began to decay.
         Roderick’s breath slowed and as it did, the gleaming in his eyes subsided; he leaned against a wall slowly sliding down it as an ambulance’s sirens blared into the earshot. Klaxons bathed the block in red, temporarily blinding Sierra and Randy who had since  Seased crying. The paramedics hopped out of the van and opened the back doors where a third rolled out a stretcher; the first two gingerly helped Randy up on to it.
         “Will you be going with us?” The first paramedic turned to Sierra; he was a stocky man of Hispanic descent with short cropped black hair.
         She shook her head slowly, her eyes on Roderick leaning in the shadows across the street. “No, I’m ok, I wasn’t attacked.”

         “Oh he saved you eh?” The man smiled at her. “I guess chivalry isn’t dead huh?”

         Sierra flashed Randy a disdainful look as he was wheeled into the vehicle. “No…it’s not.”

         “Can you get home from here do you need a ride?” He offered.
         “I’m a few blocks up, I can manage.”

         The paramedic shrugged and walked back to the ambulance and then jumped into the driver’s seat. Sierra didn’t notice when the van pulled off, nor did she care about the on coming cars as she crossed the street. Her eyes were trying to adjust to the dark alcove in which moments ago Roderick Parker slouched, catching his breath after having fought with something that most certainly could not have been real.

         “Roderick?” She walked closer to the now shadowed area. “Are you there?” She crept closer and the sound of sudden movement made her jump back.

         “Stay there.” his still even voice shot back. He walked out of the shadows his hair tied back; he adjusted his glasses and looked up at her. All hints of silver were gone he smiled gently at her. “Everything’s ok.”
         “What was that?” She blinked rapidly. “What happened?” Her breathing began to increase. She wasn’t sure if it was the fact that she was seeing him after the maddening event that had just transpired, or because the need to help Randy was bigger than her need to quake, but now with no life or death situation and no buffers, shock set in like a run away freight train. Her pupils dilated and she began to tremble, Roderick put his hands on her shoulders to keep her standing and then looked at her hard. Her reality is crumbling came a voice in his head. Blaq Prince side of Roderick had some how known that this would happen, somehow being of two worlds a person intrinsically knew these things. He put her up against the wall, and thought, If everything I knew to be impossible started to happen right in front of me, how would I rationalize it? Roderick looked up at her vacant teary eyes and removed his glasses. His eyes were instantly alight. “This was a dream, nothing more!” His words bounced around her skull and flew up and down her nervous system; she stopped trembling and breathed in deeply as she came to.
         “Roderick, what’s the matter why am I leaning against this wall?” She said In even breaths.
         Putting his glasses back on, he looked at her. “You said you were feeling light headed, it might have been the food.” He smiled convincingly

         “Oh, yeah, that must have been it.” She blinked slowly.

         “I was just walking you home.” Roderick grabbed her hand and they headed toward her house. She looked at him as they walked to her stoop.

         “Thank you for, tonight.” Sierra’s words wrung in her own ears making her feel numb.
         He looked in her eyes and she was lost, again glowing in a bewilderment called romance. They kissed slowly tenderly, like lovers, old lovers Roderick thought. When they stopped he stepped backwards off of her stoop.

         “Please call me, let me know you got home ok.” She sighed and then smiled, she opened the door and went in as he waved goodbye.
         Walking down the block Roderick clenched his fists. He hated what he had to do to Sierra regardless if it was for her own good, he would have rather told her the truth then rearrange her thoughts. “I’m sorry.” He whispered in the night air, he continued on till he reached the train station, the last hour had been trying and if it was any indication of what was to come he’d need help and fast.


         The moon hung out in distant space, the clouds framed it to look like the eye of some majestic god, like a child looking into a fish bowl. The windows of the mayoral mansion fogged as the heat from the room gathered with intensity.

         “Go faster.” A young woman moaned as she neared climax. “Faster.” Her tan skin glistened in the moonlight as sweat coursed down her neck, chest, and thighs.

         The young man between them smiled at her, his curly brown hair bounced as he pushed deeper, his skin was just a shade lighter than hers marking his mixed ancestry, he’d never felt at home with any group of people, a kid who looked black with green eyes and wavy hair, found it hard to relate to many people mayor’s son or not. That didn’t stop him from being popular with women of all colors, black women seemed to love green eyes for whatever reason, and white women seemed to love the extra edge his melanin gave him. He didn’t care for either particularly; none had seemed to peak his interest not even the girl he was with now. He couldn’t remember her name and at some point didn’t care she was a fun time, a shiny new toy that would lose its luster.

         “I’m in control, not you.” He whispered as his right hand shot out clasped around her neck. Despite his stature, he was quite strong and as a hand reached up and clawed his arm, he pushed faster.

         “Ack…ugh…eck.” The girl’s gasps came short and sharp as she fought to remove his hand. She began to turn red trying to pry his iron-clad grip from her neck. Finally he let go and she was greeted by the most powerful sensation she had ever felt, sliding from her brain stem down to her nether region. She convulsed around him as she felt something wet and warm enter her.

         He looked down and smiled. “Wasn’t that good?” He pulled out of her and got up.

         She shook her head to affirm his question she was breathless, shaking, and completely satisfied despite having been choked a few moments ago.  She looked up at him in the moonlight and found herself oddly fascinated, though she had been with a number of men all attracted to her wide hips and ample butt. It felt like something otherworldly.

         “You just gonna stand there staring up at me, or you gonna get on this?” He pointed to his dick.

         As she put her lips around his member and began to suck, she was surprised to feel his hand grasping her face. “Faster….”

         “Nahbia.” She mouthed around him, her name was Nadia and he probably didn’t remember, but she’d make him remember, a favor for a favor she always thought. Being a sycophant was how she’d ended up in this position and when she thought about it being on her knees sucking off the mayor’s son wasn’t half bad.

         He grew impatient thrusting himself down her throat faster than when he had been inside of her. His smile became a maddening deaths head grin as he took pleasure in the sound of her choking once again.  I could be a porn star, this is how they do it right?  He shuddered before climaxing down her throat.

         She coughed as the sticky fluid filled her esophagus. Pulling away, she spit on the floor. “Are you trying to kill me?”

         He smiled at her. “If you don’t swallow next time I just might.” He stepped off the bed and walked into his own bathroom located to the far wall of his enormous room. 

         “Next time.” She said wiping her mouth and looking for her clothes. “What makes you think they’re be a next time?” For a moment, she was filled with a sense of outrage.

         “Because I’m Ian Ellis, there’s always a next time.” He looked out at her from the bathroom.

         Her anger faded as soon as it came she dropped her clothes and stood up. “You’re right, you are.”

         He smiled at her. “You wanna join me?”

         “Yes, please let me.” Nadia ran into the bathroom and Ian closed the door behind them.  
         As the moon and the sun sat across from one another in the sky Ian lay alone in his bed, drifting between sleep and thought, Nadia lie next to him smiling, sleeping . The noises coming from down stairs shattered his beautiful solitude. Getting dressed he walked out of his room and down the snaking spiral staircase. His mother was drunk again and rambling about his philandering father and how she thought white men were different when she first met him. Ian would later realize that men were all the same most of the time. And being a man like his father he didn't stay in one place too long. His dad's latest take was barely out of high school but legal, and because his mother wanted to remain, the mayor’s wife and keep all of the nice things she'd gotten, she said nothing. Ian wandered off into the garden surrounding the mayoral mansion and had come across the pond at its center. There he heard a voice, calling him like as siren song to the edge of the pond. The strangest thing about it was the voice was coming from the pond, like some mystical talking fish of legend. Traveling to its edge Ian sat down in front of it, but when he looked over to see his reflection in the still water, he saw something else, something more mystifying and beautiful than he could imagine. It was a man, with ash gray skin; his short wavy hair reminded Ian of his own.
         “Where did you come from?” Ian was startled to here himself ask the question.  As if a reflection could answer back,

         “I'm not a reflection I assure you.” The man began to move, he wore a long blue coat, knitted of a strange material, his pants fluttered as wind swept the pond and his heavy vest seemed warm in these summer months.

         “You talk?” Ian didn't move he stood still contemplating whether or not what he was seeing was the onset of some sort of insanity. “But how?”

         “I assure you I do.” The man smiled. “And you’re not crazy.”

         “Well coming from you, that helps.” Ian shifted.

         “Listen I need you to join me in the water. “ The young man reached his hand up toward the surface. “I'm here to rescue you from your life.” his gray lips split into a smile.

         “Really?” He looked toward his house.

         “Iannnnnnn!” Ian's drunken mother called for him. “Come help me out of this chair.”

         Ian turned away from the house and toward the pond. “Tell me more.”

          “Take my hand.” The gray man gestured again.

         Oh what the hell. He reached his hand into the pool and was pulled into the water, but what he found on the other side was not water at all. It was a large stone cavern with a large pool of water in the middle. Ian looked across to see the gray man.

         “Welcome Ian, I am Pariah Gray, the crown prince of the planet of Scrawl. “

         “That's a funny name for some one so important.” Ian thought about his own heritage and position in society and frowned. “So what happens now?”

         Pariah gray gestured to Ian to follow him. “I want to show you something.” He stopped and then turned. “Oh and be prepared it's hot outside.”

         Ian followed him out of the cavern as the cool climate gave way to an increasing humidity. The winds blew black sand at the mouth of the cave, Pariah handed Ian a scarf and Ian wrapped it around his face and head. “So why do they call you Pariah, I mean I get the Gray part.”

         Pariah turned to him regarding him with red eyes. “I am like you.” he looked down. “Of dual parentage.”

         Ian said nothing but followed Pariah out into desert. “This is my world, it’s called Scrawl.” Pariah swept his hand across the expanse of black sand.

         Ian looked at the mounds in the distance and the sun ascending the sky. He saw birds flying across the sky. “Looks kinda nice except for the wind.”

         “It's a dying world.” Pariah looks at Ian. “I need your help.”

         “With what?” Ian looks at Pariah.” What can I do?”

         Pariah smiled at him and extended his hand. “Take my hand.”          

         Ian stared at him, his smile causing any apprehension he had to be washed away in a sea that felt like familiarity. He took Pariah’s hand and was over come by a sensation so intense he lost consciousness. When Ian came to, he was beside the pond, the wind stirred around him. Getting to his feet he felt different, not as good as he did a second ago but savoring the glow, what ever had just happened, it had felt good and right. A smile crossed his lips, as his shoulders relaxed.  This is the feeling I’ve been searching for, this feeling of peace, of kinship, of self. As he turned back around he saw Nadia staring at him from behind one of the trees.

           “What was that?”

           “Why are you following me?” Ian walked up to her slowly.

           “You weren’t in bed so I…”

            “Are we dating?” Ian raised an eyebrow.

             “I don’t…we’ve been sleeping together a lot.” Nadia said with little conviction.

     “Yeah, we’re fucking. But are you my girlfriend?”

      “No…but I wouldn’t mind.”

      “Of course you wouldn’t, no one would mind.” Ian walked passed her “I’m the mayors son.”

             “Forget I asked.” She followed after him. “We can go back up stairs and cuddle.”

             “Naw I’m taking you home.”  He didn’t acknowledge her he just walked toward his car and got in

Chapter IV: The Way Home

         Scrawl, The Past
                     The black sun hung above his head, only four more days through the Onyx
Desert and he'd be at village of Abiola-Rey, the Inkdwellers there were visited less by the Winterborne because of the climate of the desert. Being born of the winter, their people could not take the direct contact of the black sun's data. The Inkdwellers however have been absorbing its information for as long as Scrawl has been around; they have become the color and hue of the sun they at one time worshipped along with the other aspects of the land. Now the sun domes that were erected by the Winterborne and maintained by their Secondborne children block any high-level information from reaching the people, which is probably why their abilities no longer work. At least that's what Blaq thought to himself, since his birth he'd been passed from person to person, no one could hold on to him for too long for fear of the Second-borne overseers finding him. Darr-Woolf and Black-Phoenyx, had told him that he was the true descendant of the Obsidian Empire and that he had to be kept safe to restore it and Scrawl to its rightful place. He had his doubts about his own lineage, however he did know one thing his existence was bad luck to those around him and everyone who helped him end up dead or exiled. Woolf and Phoenyx were his ideological parents meaning Woolf coded him and Phoenyx housed and birthed him after nine streams. He did have a number of spiritual parents most of whom had died protecting him throughout the years, rather than have his last family slaughtered he ran away, hearing a rumor he traveled north toward Winterborne country; to the very hands of those who wanted his life. The Fourth Wall was said to have existed from time immemorial, supposedly the Mother and Father had created it when everything was nothing and dawns were young, back when G.O.D first created them. That was his chance to escape that is if anything anyone said about the Wall was true, the legends said that the Fourth Wall was a gateway to other worlds. Several stories surrounding the Wall stemmed from the “Fall”, the little remembered war between the Inkdwellers royal families and the capitulation of their remaining power by the Winterborne that resulted in the current decaying state of Scrawl.
In Winterborne territory to the north, vegetation ceased growing and the animals that were herded need to be used as the main source of sustenance, they were processed, In the Winterborne capital city of Eventide. In the western cities of the United Bastions, Data from the Black sun had begun to turn much of the landscape to ash that coupled with the increasing number of Fantoms and Unbound appearing in the area it became less habitable every cycle.
         'If there is one thing that can save our world it's you, but you must get through the Fourth Wall'. Phoenyx used to say, he believed her, which is why he risked life and limb now to travel to this place.

         A loud bang erupted to his left and as he turned to look at the dune there he saw a group of males, Inkdweller males, surrounding a female wrapped in an earth tone shawl.  His head told him to keep moving but his soul said that he had to help, he was not raised to pass by one of his people in need and so he turned and made his way toward the group.
Though he had no weapons to speak of, he possessed a special ability the vast majority of Inkdwellers still lacked.  Sea ran down the basin toward the group and then slid down a steep crevice. “Hey what are you doing to her?”

         The group all looked at him as he came sliding down, they were armed with sharp crystal weapons and a few had Ricochet spheres floating about them. The largest man in the group broke the circle and began to walk towards him. “Leave here boy, it's not safe.” His voice filled with more worry than threat. Behind him the young woman turned to lock eyes with him she regarded him with a seductive smirk, then gestured that he put his hands over his ears and after he did, she screamed. The black sand around her began to kick up into an instant storm the leader of the group turned back toward her and they all charged in unison, Blaq crouched and closed his eyes, with his hands still covering his ears, and he heard or rather felt bodies or at least their parts flying past him. He felt weightless as the storm lifted him from his spot and a few more minutes he passed out. The feeling of warm, dark, bare skin sliding across his own jolted him awake, he looked up to see the young woman from the storm mounting him, she arched her back, licked her lips and ground her nails into the dirt beside him.

         “MMMMM.” She looked down and got off of him. “That’s a nice soul you have, interesting taste to it.

         She sat up and took a drink from a strange gourd to her right; it appeared to Prince that he was in a house or tent of some kind with a very high ceiling. Cool air blew in from the desert night. Black- Sea scrambled up to find himself naked and he instinctively put his back to the farthest wall he could find. “W-who are you?”

         She smiled at him and put the gourd away. “Don't be afraid, I just had to see what kind of man you were.” She stood up and walked toward him. “I am known by many names, most call me Dear Daughter of the Onyx Desert, but you can call me Dee Dee.”

         “Why were you on top of me?” He stood up naked and looked around. “Where are my clothes?”

         “Like I said I was sampling what kind of man you were, don't you know anything?” She walked over to one side of the structure, picked something up out of the darkness and threw it at him. “Here.”

         He caught a handful of clothes, which he realized were his. “Where are we?” He asked as he began to put his things on.

         Dee Dee picked up her shawl and it instantly wrapped itself into a dress around her. “We're in my home, what does it look like.” She then looked him over from where she stood. “You're not from the desert are you?”

         “No, I'm from Anoki-Can in the grassland region, to the south.” He finished dressing.

         “Oh ok, so that's why you don't know who I am, in that case.”  She walked up to him took his hand and led him to another section of the house. “Follow me.”

         He walked reluctantly, into the other room, which had candles all around it, she sat him down on the floor. “I will show you who I Am.” she sat down next to him and began to draw something on the floor. “I am the Daughter of the Desert Goddess Onyx, well the daughter of her descendant to be exact.”
         At his feet she drew the Black sun and the Silver moon in the vast sky, below it she drew a woman standing on top of an ocean on the firmament. “When Scrawl was still young, my mother was born along with the Great Black and Silver eyes, she covered it all. With the permission of the Great Mother and Father she allowed things to be born from her womb, from her came my father Earth Lord, he spewed flame across her surface to make land, and intern life was eventually created.” She finished her drawing. “Or at least that's what I was told by my mother before she left.” She shrugged. “I could never get it completely straight.”

          Sea sat back “That had nothing to do with the desert.” He arched an eyebrow.

         “Well I can't remember it all.” She put her hands on her hips.
         “So why did you tell me the story if you didn't know it?”
         “It's a tradition my mother made me remember it, I only told you because you're not from around here.” She got up. “I personally don't care for tradition, especially since the Winterborne tried to erase our history by destroying the Speaking sphere and the Talking Tree.”

         “Most Inkdwellers don't know those two things existed at one time, I almost didn't believe it myself.”

         “So how did you know about them?”

         “My parents Darr-Woolf and Phoenyx-Blac told me about them.” He looked down.

         She stared at him, with a knowing gaze, trying to recall something told to her as a child but unable to quite remember. “I'm sorry to hear that.”

         “Where are your parents, you said your mother left, where did she go?”  Sea ran his fingers through his hair nervously.

 “To pass on, when a daughter of the desert comes of age the daughter before her must travel out into the mouth of the desert and meet with the Goddess again.” Dee Dee looked down.

         “Oh, and what about your father, where is he?”

         Dee Dee looked down, at her hands. “He’s dead, remember the big guy in the desert, the leader of those men.” She looked out an open window into the night. “That was him.”

         “You killed your own father?”  Sea backed up from her. “Why?”

         “Well for starters he would have killed me.” She then looked at him. “But the real reason is because he blames me for my mother’s sacrifice.”

         Blaq looked down on the ground. “Must’ve been tough, killing your own father and all.”

         She smirked at him. “Not really he never loved me anyway.” She twirled a finger through one of her onyx locks. “So where were you headed?” she asked changing the subject.

         “To the Fourth wall.”

         She let out a loud laugh. “You believe in that place?”

         “What do you mean believe?” He adopted a serious expression. “It’s real.”

         “Sure it is; what did you plan to do when you got there?”

          Sea took a deep breath. “Use it to leave Scrawl.”

         “And go where?” She smiled and cocked an eyebrow.

         “Endwater.” He said solemnly.
         “Of course you believe that exists too.” She rolled her eyes.

         “It does.” He yelled. “It must.”
         “Oh yes and why must it?” She leaned back.

         “Because if it doesn’t I’m going to die.” He looked down at his hands.

         She moved closer to him. “Why, who are you?”

         He looked her in the eyes, his glinting sliver to her shinning gold. “I am the child of the Sun and the Moon.”

         She smirked she knew what that meant. The sun and the moon were one of the many analogies for the Empress and Emperor who had created their people’s first empire. The phrase was to denote those of Noble spiritual birth, but last she had heard all of the members of the Obsidian Empire had be exiled or killed, mostly the latter. However even if some were still alive could this young man be one of them? She did get that “interesting” feeling from him, that low hum, that steady vibration that hit the base of her spine and the center of her head at the same time, filling her with beautiful emotions. The more she focused on the sensations the easier it became to believe what this boy was saying. Smiling she looked upon him. “If you do make it to the Fourth wall, and to the other side, would you search for my other self and remind her of this?”

         Blaq smiled and his eyes shown brighter than ever. “Yes, of course.”

         She took his hand. “You promise?”

         He nodded to her. “Yes, I promise.”

         She picked up his hand and kissed it. “Thank you.” She then lay down next to him on her side and pulled him down to her. Her back was facing his stomach. “I’m tried; stay here tonight and in the morning I’ll send you to Abiola-Rey.”

         He lay down next to her. “O-ok.”  He rested his head behind hers.

         She smiled in the darkness and then turned her head slightly. “Put your arm around me would you; I don’t sleep alone if I can help it.”

         He obliged her and wrapped his hand around her waist. “Is this ok?”

         “Mmm, that’s perfect.” She closed her eyes and smiled. “Oh and if I start moving during the night, just hold me closer ok?”

         “Uh, o-ok.” Blaq stammered

         “Sleep well.” She said with a smile.

         “Y-you too.” Blaq exhaled slowly, closed his eyes and felt the weight of his body drop away.

Endwater, Now
         Roderick sat up; he was perspiring, his clothes and parts of his bed sheets clung to him. It’s like having a wet dream with your whole body. He peeled off his covers, got up and while he stretched his mind-attempted piece together the fading fragments of dream approaching the edges of his consciousness. Was it a dream or was it a memory He put on his glasses and walked to the bathroom groping for the lights in the pitch-black hallway, more out of habit than anything else. Coming up on the open door he flicked on the light and looked into the mirror, nothing out of the ordinary. No wide smile, no silver eyes nothing just plain old Roderick Parker. However he didn’t feel plain at all, on the contrary he felt quite extraordinary or at least better than normal. It was as if he couldn’t remember what thoughts currently depressed him and if he could the feelings of melancholy the thoughts brought with them were gone. Was this what Blaq meant when he said he’d make his life better? He did seem to have the courage to express his feelings to Sierra and she did seem to respond in kind. At least she returned both kisses. He was able to take on Randy twice, although he didn’t remember the first time. He smiled at his reflection and then remembered the Unbound, How can that exist in this world, in its true form. He ran his fingers through his hair, the thought that he had less time then he assumed ran through his mind. The shuffling from outside caused Roderick’s head to whip around to attention, he looked outside the bathroom door and saw a long shadow stretch across the floor. Leaning against the doorframe he peered around it and saw a figure shambling out of his mother’s room. Though he couldn’t make out the features he could tell it wasn’t his mother, the figures shoulders were broad and it was taller than her. It’s a man, must be James. His mother’s boyfriend never stayed at their house however she had been talking about having him spend the night. It didn’t matter to Roderick as long as he was safe down the hall with his nice sturdy walls. The figure cocked its head back at an odd angle and Roderick swore he heard the sound of loud sniffing. Roderick turned off the light and slinked out of the bathroom and back into his own room. After a moment he heard it stalking down the hallway toward his room and picked up his acoustic guitar, the one he never played and readied it for attack. He was certain that wasn’t James, what wasn’t sure of was if it was a human being at all. Since Blaq and I merged a lot of strange shit has been happening. A thought clicked in his head as if he was remembering something from another life, a memory that the other side of him had, of something grim and horrid. “Fantom.” Was the single word he whispered as the very thing came bursting through his door he swung with all his might smashing the polished wood against its head. He flicked on the switch and was face to pale, emaciated face with his brother Avery. His eyes were blood shot and he twitched uncontrollably, springing to his feet he lunged at Roderick and was on him in seconds. “Get off of me.” Roderick positioned his foot under Avery’s groin and kicked. Letting out a howl of pain he rolled off of him and curled into a fetal position. “Well your weak point was easy to find.” Roderick got up and took off his glasses as the air began to become thick and the hairs on his body stood up, his eyes became gleaming silver discs. “Now we can play, but not in here.” Roderick ran out of his room and past his mother’s noticing the crimson trail leading from her door. Mom The panic that began to flood his mind was quickly overcome by another calming force, something that made him stop at the stairs. The recovered Avery was now running toward him at a furious speed.  Roderick crouched into a defensive position and as Avery came upon him, Roderick shifted his weight and tossed Avery down the stairs, sending him through the banister and to the floor below. Roderick’s body moved on its own, he felt as if his muscles recalled prior fights of this nature and a way to handle them. So Blaq was a fighter? Roderick looked down at his brother’s body as it began to stir. This has to end leaping down the steps where the body was he was caught in mid-air by Avery’s iron grip. “Ack.” Clutching at his arm to relive the pressure he looked into Avery’s eyes, they were dead and vacant; nothing remained of his brother. His eyes began to glow and their silver sheen shown brightly causing Avery to drop him and shield his eyes.

         “You know, I was gonna waste my time thinking of some elaborate emotional speech before I ended this, but I know that wasn’t your thing, so I’m just going to kill you.” Roderick threw a kick to Avery’s side sending him rolling.

         “Argghhh” Avery let out a primal roar, picked up a chair and smashed it against Roderick’s head sending him flying into the kitchen.

         “Damn it.” Roderick hit the kitchen counter and cleared it of its contents. Rolling on his side he glimpsed a kitchen knife inches away from him.

         “Rahhhh.” Avery leapt onto the counter his movements were quick and primal. Gazing at the floor he grunted in frustration when he noticed Roderick was gone and then wailed in agony when he felt cold, sharp steel pierce his side.

         “Gotcha.” Roderick smiled and attempted to remove the knife but Avery, who proceeded to punch him in the face and then lift him over his head, seized his arm.

         Avery launched Roderick into the stove causing the mechanism to collapse and the gas line to be exposed. “Argh.” Roderick yelled at the pain. I’m lucky to be Alive but that hurt like hell.  Avery towered over him picked him up and tossed him back across the kitchen counter into the living room where he broke through the coffee table. Lying there in a haze he rolled to his feet he watched Avery come toward him slowly in the same manner a predator stalks its prey. Roderick shuffled over to his mothers well stocked liquor cabinet. He doubted that the bottles would stop him but he was sure that he could find something that would blind him until he could figure something out. Avery lunged at Roderick and was met by a bottle of scotch in the face, the glass and alcohol disoriented him as Roderick continued with various alcoholic beverages. Looking around frantically, Roderick spotted and auto lighter just as Avery was upon him. Pulling the trigger he threw it at Avery, setting him ablaze.

         “Arooooooh.” Avery spun in a circle as the flames engulfed him, the alcohol causing it to spread rapidly.
         Roderick made for the door and was almost out of it before he noticed Avery ‘dance’ into the kitchen and slam into the damaged stove with its open gas line. He felt more than heard the explosion as it rocketed him through the door; he felt the searing heat on the back of his neck and the bone jarring impact as he hit the pavement. That should’ve killed me; Blaq must give me a superhuman constitution. As his eyelids hung low he heard a distance voice calling to him, it wasn’t Blaq’s, it was a woman’s voice

            “I guess I got here too late.” The woman sounded worried but familiar. “At least you’re still breathing.” Roderick attempted to place it but wasn’t able to cycle through his memory and battle the wave of unconsciousness that threatened to over take him any moment. He fought it his body was limp and for the most part he could only hear and feel what was going on around him as his eyes were too weak to open. There was movement though and that woman’s voice, who she was he didn’t know but she didn’t seem to mean him any harm. Roderick realized then that he was losing his bout with the waking world and passed out again.
There was a dull ache in the base of his skull, but he was still alive. He opened his eyes for a moment and then immediately closed them as the piercing rays of the sun shot through the blinds. He didn’t know where he was but he felt that a familiar presence was near by. He got up off of the hot leather couch and in a haze stumbled over to the kitchen table where a glass of water was waiting for him. He downed it in one gulp.
         “I guess I found you instead huh?” He opened his eyes, looked up and their before him was the smiling face of a honey colored young woman. She had a ring in her lip and another one in her tongue. She walked over to a stove that had a number of things boiling over on top of it. “You want something to eat, I’m making rice and veggies.” He smiled this young woman had an air of familiar newness to her. Something he could use at the moment, with his mother having been murdered by his-possessed? He didn’t even know what to call it-brother; he had no home to go to. Especially since he had to kill the aforementioned brother in a fire that burned his house down and he was now in need of something different. He wanted to escape this craziness that had become his life Blaq had said it would make his life better, but now he’s homeless and alone.
                     “I’m gonna let this stuff sit and take a shower.” She walked into the bathroom. “The names Adriana by the way.”
Her apartment was your standard affair; he sat at the kitchen table made of some wood he hadn’t seen before. She had a half kitchen that connected to the dinning room. A leather couch parked in front of a dusty television set, a few potted plants and walls lined with bookshelves.          He sat in silence going over the past couple of hours in his head. What about Sierra he thought? Should I even bother to pursue a relationship with her? First the Unbound and then the stuff at my house, it seems like everything in my life ends suffering. I don’t think I can put her through that, he intoned. I should call her and tell her that we can’t be together, but it’s probably best if I just disappear.
         The sound of footsteps took him out of his head. Adriana walked back in wearing a towel. She was glistening and putting her tongue ring back in as she walked toward him. He gave her an odd look and she responded. “ I take it out when I’m brushing sometimes.”
         “Um It’s not that, You’re walking around in a towel and you barely know me.” Roderick was a bit flushed.

         “Of course I know you, wouldn’t have saved you if I didn’t.” She smiled. “ Scrawl, remember the desert?”
         Something clicked in Roderick’s mind. “Dee Dee?”
         “He remembers me.” She grinned.
         “I guess you saved me twice huh?”

         “Looks like it.” She walked over to the stove and he noticed the top of a tattoo on her shoulder blades. “You wanna eat?”
         “No thank you I’m not hungry.” He looked down at his hands. How could he be after killing his brother? The one he wanted dead anyway that was irony though.
         “ Okay.” She fixed herself a plate. “What were you doing in that rubble?”
         Roderick looked around; nervously he wasn’t ready to talk about this much less think about it. “Uh can we talk about something else please?”
         “Sure like what?” She looked up at him from her plate.

         “Your piercings did they hurt?”
         “The first couple did but after that nah.”
         “Well how many do you have?”

         “ Seven, one in each ear, one in my tongue, one in my lip and the rest are covered up by this towel.” She grinned lasciviously.

         Roderick blushed. “Oh.”

         She stood up and walked around to his side of the table and took his hand. “You wanna see the rest?”

         He looked into her eyes and they were a peculiar gold. “Yes, please.” She took him by the hand and led him into her bedroom.



Chapter V: Transitory

         Red eyes peered across the wind swept desert as black sand swirled as far as the eye could see. His father, the Winter-Lord had sent him to the south to investigate two rumors. The first was that there was another ‘Fourth Wall’ gate site in this region along with the others found in the north. However that wasn’t the real point of interest, that lie in the second rumor one so grand that it would completely overturn the seven hundred year rule his people had over the world of Scrawl. The rumor had it that there was still one descendent of the Obsidian Empire alive and that he was looking for a Fourth Wall gate. Pariah had heard legends about the Obsidian beings that once ruled Scrawl, one of his nanny’s was an old Ink-dweller woman who regaled him with tales of an empire so ancient that the entire planet forgot it existed. Of course when Pariah was a child he thought nothing of it, a fair tale spun by an old woman with nothing more to her life than taking care of a child who was half-Inkdweller half-Winterborne a child who would eventually look down on her due to her lineage

         “ Speaker.” Pariah directed his attention toward the young Secondborne woman standing behind him.

         Her face was downcast as she entered the room, she had been his advisor, attendant, confidante and on occasion lover. She was also a Secondborne however she favored her Indweller parentage in physicality; her complexion was her only conflicting feature.  Speaker Violet had known him all his life and in truth knew him better than anyone else including himself at times. “What is it you need Lord Gray?”

         “I’d like to go out to the Glass caverns. Now.” He began putting on his long linen coat. “Tell the Brig to watch the Vermillion Manor, It’ll give him a chance to feel like he owns something.” He chuckled and walked up to her, put his index finger under her chin and lifted it. “Dear Violet Why the forlorn look?”

         She met his gaze and her eyes held his in a vice like grip. “ You know that you’re not supposed to trek through the desert, what with the sun beaming so intensely, and there are other dangers. She referred to the dispossessed   Inkdweller’s who became a gang of bandits known as the Desert Scythes, a rumor had spread that one of the powers from old Scrawl an entity called Daughter of the Desert and both forces had made the desert a chaotic place to traverse.  “If word got out that that you were out there, you could be killed or accosted.”
         “Don’t be silly, I was there not two days ago talking with my other self.” He smiled and kissed her on the lips. “I’ve seen into his mind, I think I’ve found a place for you. If you wanted it.”
         “And where would that be?” She looked down cast.
         “By my side of course.”
         She smiled still looking down at him considering the idea. “But what about assuming your father’s role when he is gone?”

         “My father could care less about me, he just wants to make sure he has a seat of power to inhabit.” Gray grimaced. “I won’t be the vessel of anyone, I am my own man.”
         Violet walked up to him and draped her arms around his neck. “You always have been love.”
         “Ahem.” Brigadier Feist an Ink-dweller who had traded sides interrupted their embrace. He was hated by much of the populace and known for his staunch upholding of Winter-borne law. “Sorry to disturb you but I was told that you needed me to…”

         “Yes keep watch over the township. Violet and I are going for a walk.” He prepared the rest of his things. “ Where are the servants we’ll need water.”

         “I shall get them my lord.” Feist exited the room.

         Soon they were off outside the city gates. Walking on the hot black sands, set upon by the rays of the sun. Thankfully for them it was descending into the horizon. They were wrapped in fine bright linens that were lightweight. They each carried a stick to aid them “This is nice, you know?” Gray turned to Violet. “ To get away from all of that garbage.”
         “I have never met a prince who hated his title so much.” She chuckled.

         “I know it sounds selfish, but I never asked for this. None of it, I just don’t see the point in ruling over a land that hates us. I don’t just mean the people, I’m talking the planet.” They trekked on. “Sometimes I think we shouldn’t even be here.”

         “Is that why you want to find the Fourth Wall gate?” she looked up at him.

         “Was it that obvious?” He looked at her and smiled.

         “You forget how well I know you Lord Gray.” She laughed.

         “None of that out here we’re…” Both of them stopped in the tracks as a loud boom sounded for miles around. About a mile ahead of them a cloud of dust flew up into the air and then headed straight for them. “Sandstorm!” Gray quickly grabbed Violet and covered her with his body. It came over them like a wave of night and when it was finished they shrugged off the black stuff that fell from them like rainwater on oil. “I wonder what that was?” Violet began going towards the site of the storm. “It was coming from the direction we were heading in.” They shuffled along until they came to a crater about a mile wide. Below they could see bodies torn asunder by something, what however they didn’t know. “What could’ve done this, It obviously wasn’t a whyrm.” Violet looked down into the crater.  “There was a battle here, these men were the Deserts Scythes and they were destroyed by something much more powerful than themselves.” Gray didn’t even have to ask how she knew that, her speaker powers allowed her to see the last few minutes of a persons life by communing with their essence briefly. “So what was that thing?” Gray asked.
         “Not what but whom.” Violet sighed. “Looks like the rumors are true the Daughter of the Desert is stalking the dunes again.
         “That doesn’t effect us much, I’m sure we can take her.”
         “Gray, sometimes your ignorance is astounding.” She laughed.

         “What’s that supposed to mean?”
         “The Daughter of the Desert is a force of nature, the planet that you said hates us and the Winter-borne so much, and well she’s one of its avatars.” She wiped sweat from her brow. “She could have this whole desert swallow us up with out a trace.”

         “ Well then I guess we better get to the gate. Then shouldn’t we?” They continued to walk as the sun began its descent.

         “What do you plan for us once we’re on the otherside?”

         Gray turned and looked at her with hopeful eyes. “We’ll be free to do as we see fit.”

         “But you’re father will be angry.” Violet’s glance was more reprimanding.

         “My farther can’t reach us there.”

         “But his agents can and we don’t want him to send out anything like the….” Violet stopped and Gray was glad she did. There were some creatures that his father created as watchdogs, which lived to hunt down those who opposed his rule. He had been known to domesticate the Fantoms and use the animals of the north to create the Unbound, but neither of these monstrosities compared to the Nameless Blight. He had only seen it once but had heard his father talk about it enough as a child to give him nightmares for years. It was all but indescribable a falling tentacled mass of horns and eyes, skin the texture of gelatin. It’s initial form  or if it even had one was unknown it could change its shape for the most part and either favored the amoebic mass or a lumbering colossus with multiple arms, no face and spiked scaly skin.  The worst part of it was that the creature was directly controlled and possibly linked to his father.
         “Let’s hope it doesn’t come to that, Violet. I mean he wouldn’t kill his oldest heir for taking a little trip would he?”

         “I don’t know my love. I should hope not though.” Violet looked at him with remorse, he was the oldest heir but not the only one and he was only really valuable at his southern post. As execution would go he never did find out how his mother actually died after she tried to flee the capital.

         “Let’s press on, we’ll figure something out.” He smiled as they walked toward the horizon.


         Ian walked through the hall unhurried by the rushing masses of people and the ringing bells that reminded everyone that they had to be in class. Through the mass he caught site of Sierra Jones, a girl he had known of but not know for sometime now. She was on his ‘doesn’t care about me’ list, which was short so when a name showed up on it he took notice. She looked down in the mouth and that was a shame for such a pretty girl, so he walked over to her.
         “Hey are you alright?” Ian moved slowly and had his hands up in a placating gesture.
         Sierra shot him an icy glare but it softened. “You and Roderick are friends right?”

         Ian’s brow raised, five years ago that question would’ve been almost rhetorical. Friends, they were brothers, until High School dictated that the stations that life chooses for those and us we choose, as friends don’t always mix. “Uh, yeah why what’s up?
         “Well we went out last night, on a date and something happened something bad.” Worry colored her words.

         “What?” Ian almost jumped in anticipation.
         “Randy he well, he fought Roderick and well Roderick won but, he promised he’d call me when he got home but he didn’t and Randy had a knife.” She was tearing up now.

         “Wait what?” Ian began to get nervous, he and Roderick hadn’t spoken much anymore but they were still brothers in his eyes. “Look we can go to his house see what’s up okay?” Sierra shook her head slowly as they strode out of the building and into the parking lot. Ian unlocked his car with the remote and opened the door. “Get in, I know where he lives It’s a ways from here.” She got in reluctantly and as soon as she did they drove off. On the road they passed a few cars going here and there during midday, the silence between them was quite palpable and since Ian didn’t know her very well he decided if they were going to talk on the long ride over it would be about Roderick. “So how long have you known him?”
         Sierra stared through the windshield. “Four years I guess we met the first day of High School.” She smiled. “He asked me where the caf was and I led him there. Later we found out we frequented the same arcade.”

         “The Cyber Chest used to be our favorite hang out until…” Ian felt ashamed that he allowed the opinions of other people to separate him from his best friend. “We got to High School.” The cars on the road were thinning out as they passed through the tunnel up to Endwater Flats. They rode in silence until they got to the Flats the houses that mirrored each other lined up in rows along side them, which is why they came to a dead stop when they saw the smoking rubble that was once the home of Roderick Parker. Sierra stumbled out of the car with tears in her eyes. “No, no, no, no, no!” Ian followed after her mouth wide with disbelief. The entire thing was cordoned off and there were police and fire fighters everywhere. Ian walked up an officer who looked like he knew what he was doing. “I’m Mayor Ellis’s son, what’s happened here?”
         The cop looked at him and snorted. “ From what we can tell the gas main on the stove was leaking and some small spark or another blew it.”
                     “Was there anyone inside?”

                     “Two a male about 29 and a woman about 40 or so.”

                     Sierra walked up to the cop wiping her eyes. “Was that all?”

                     “ As far as we can tell, why do you know these people?” The officer raised an eyebrow.
         “That was our friends house, he went home last night and when I called he didn’t answer.” Sierra said frantically.

         “Well unless he was the young man we found then we don’t know where he is. If he wasn’t in the house when it went up that could mean he’s still alive.”  The officer pulled down his cap. “Now if you’ll excuse me.” With that he walked back over to the scene.

         “Okay so he could still be alive.” Sierra wiped her eyes. “Do you know where he might be?”

         “His dad lives in the commons but I don’t know if they speak much anymore.” Ian looked at her with pity.  “I guess we could go there, keep trying his cellphone.”

         The buzzing sound in Sierra’s pocket made her pause and fumble with her phone. “Hello?”
         “Sierra. It’s Roderick.” His voice was low over the phone.
         “Where are you, Ian and I are at what’s left of your house and…”

         “I’m calling you to tell you goodbye.”

         “What why, what happened?”

         “What happened at my house, that wasn’t an accident.” Roderick sighed and Sierra swore she heard another voice over the phone, a female’s voice. “There have been too many things that have been happening, weird things, dangerous things and I cannot and will not allow you to be hurt.”
         Sierra began to tear up. “Why are you saying this Roderick, why are you doing this?”

         “Because I love you Sierra, I have since the first night we met in the arcade and if anything happened to you because of me then well I couldn’t live with myself.”

         “Anything like what?” She said near hysterics.

         “Nothing you’d believe if I told you.” Roderick’s voice became heavy. “Please, tell Ian to take you home and forget about me, I can’t let them come after you too.”

         “Who?” Sierra yelled. “Does this have something to do with Randy?”

         “Goodbye.” The phone cut off.

         Ian walked up to Sierra. “Was that him, what happened?”
         “I think Roderick’s in some kind of trouble he said that the explosion wasn’t an accident. He mentioned a ‘them’ some people I don’t know who.” She looked down. “He told me he loved me but I had to stay away.”

         “We…we should find him.” Ian walked to his car. “We’ll start with his dads.”

         Roderick sat on the couch as Adriana brought him a cup of tea, he thought he could leave his old life and that by sleeping with her he’d be able to put himself mentally at least, in a position where he wouldn’t have the heart to go back. But he couldn’t just like he had to call Sierra one last time. He loved her dearly and anything that would jeopardize that relationship regardless to its stage was to him inherently wrong. Besides what’s carnal release to a lifetime of love he thought and he was sure he wouldn’t be anything special to Adriana.  “You’re wrong you know?”

         “About?” Roderick sat up straight

              “You not meaning anything to me.” She looked in his eyes. “There are very few people I am allowed to get close to on the other side by nature of my existence.” She put her hand on his causing him to almost drop the cup. “That night we spent together, just the cuddling was enough. I appreciate it.”

            “Y-you’re welcome.” Roderick looked away from her. “So uh whose trying to kill me?”
                    “ The Winter-Lord I suspect, but he’s not really trying to kill you so much as trying to get you out of the way.”

                    “ Why, I thought I was out of his way by being here.”

                       “No, You have to understand Scrawl is dying thanks to him and the other Winterborne and well they need a new place to live.” She stood up and sat next to him. “Endwater, isn’t real you know?”

                        “Come again?”

                          “Endwater is an extension of Scrawl, it was created as a safe Haven for those of us that escaped the subjugation.”

                           “So, We’re still in Scrawl, why can’t he just come get me?”

                             “Endwater is really a piece of Scrawl superimposed on this reality, it is only open to Inkdwellers. That being said he can’t crossover, he’ll likely send his son.

                           “ Why would his son be able to come through here if he can’t?” Roderick cocked an eyebrow.

                       “His son’s a half-breed, half-Inkdweller, Half-Winterborne.” She cocked her head to one side and though. “They go by Secondborne I believe.”

              Roderick downed the tea and stood up. “So how do I find this son and what do I do to get him and his father off my back?”

                “For guy who I just saved from a burning building you sure are in a hurry to rush into another one.” She smirked.

                Roderick walked to the kitchen and put his cup down in the sink. “Nice kitchen, I don’t have one anymore cause I don’t have a home. Or a family by the way.” Roderick turned toward her with conviction in his eyes. “ He’s been calling me out since Blaq and I merged, So why not bring the fight to him? He burned my home to the ground, so I should return the favor.”

              “I really like he way you think but I wouldn’t know where to find him, he could be anyone but he’d set up a beach head somewhere near others from his side.”

              Ian and Sierra are riding toward Roderick’s house as he hospital looms in front of them. “Can we stop here for just a second, Avery’s here and I wanna know if he did something to Roderick.” As the car stopped Ian got a strange feeling in the center of his stomach, it was as if there was something here that he needed to see, to witness. Making their way through the parking lot people smiled and nodded at him. Being the mayor’s son never gave him a moments rest, always entertaining even in transit .He wondered if this was how Pariah Gray felt, though he hadn’t thought about the encounter since it’d transpired, he remembered it in vivid detail. Everything about that night had felt like  dream, one that he didn’t truly want to wake up from and was not entirely sure that he had. This was starting to feel like that night, as they made their way into the lobby, Sierra had spoken to the clerk at the front desk and they were admitted in, they said he was being treated for rabies since he had been bitten by a stray. They entered the elevator and Ian was welcomed by more chatter by people he didn’t know, but who thought they knew him. They stepped into the sleeping Randy’s room, well Sierra did Ian was held up by a nurse who was trying to set him up with her daughter who went to school with him. She said her name was Yvonne and as it turns out Ian had slept with her before, she wasn’t spectacular nor was she an interesting person. He reminded her that he had limited time to see his sick friend and quickly slipped into the room. “How is he?”

            Sierra looked at him, teary eyed. “He’s fine thank God but he’ll be in here for a bit longer.”

           Ian and Randy had known each other in passing and as such never really engaged in a conversation so much of an exchange of head nods. Ian walked over to give Sierra some comfort and as he did Randy’s heart monitor began to beat faster. “I guess he does like me huh?” Ian laughed.

             “I didn’t much care for you until today.” Sierra smiled at him, It was the smile that said, I’m on her radar.
              Just then the monitor hit full tilt as Randy leaped up out of the bed. Sierra and Ian jumped back with a start as they stared at him or what used to be Randy. He was much thinner now, but his eyes were filled with a feral madness that could not belong to any human being. He let out a bone-chilling wail as doctors and nurses piled into the room. They were all mumbling something but it was cut short as Randy leapt down from the bed onto one of the nurses and tore her throat out with his teeth. Ian and Sierra had by that time run out of the room and were making there way out of the hospital. “What the hell is, going on?” Ian was holding Sierra by the hand and pulling her along through the corridors. He looked back at her to get her answer but only saw several creatures like Randy tearing down the hallway attacking everything they came across. They got to the car as people flooded out in panic some were trampled others mauled by the creatures and if they weren’t killed they became like their attackers.

             “We’ve got to get somewhere safe, somewhere far away.” Ian put the car into gear and peeled off.

                “My house is far away from here, I doubt those things will be able to make it to my ‘hood before we do.” Just then the roof buckled as something landed on in. Ian turned the wheel to compensate for the impact and slammed right into a tree. He blacked out just as the air bags deployed.

             “…Didn’t expect to see him on this side.” Ian heard a voice directly above him.

               “Is that him, I can see why you chose him he reminds me of you.” Ian opened his eyes and came face to face with Pariah and a beautiful young woman.

               “Where am I?” Ian sat up looking around the cool luminescent cave that separated his world from theirs.

               “This is the fourth wall” Pariah helped him up. “This is Violet by the way.”

          Violet smiled at him. “How did you come to be on this side of the wall?”

         “I was driving away from the hospital and…Sierra was in the car with me.” Ian looked frantic. “I have to go back, she’s in trouble.”

        “You companion is fine” Pariah put his hand on Ian’s shoulder. “But I’m was looking from behind your eyes and I think you’ll need help out there.”

       “What kind of help?” Ian looked at both of them sheepishly.

             “Go back through the pool, I’ll take care of the rest.” Gray motioned.

               “Uh, okay”

       Ian took the plunge and woke up in pain, inside a shell of twisted metal, he looked over to his right and saw an unconscious but living Sierra. He wondered how he would get out of this nightmarish steel coffin but then a voice very similar to his own recommended that he just power his way out and so he did kicking his door and most of the drivers side away he moved over to Sierra while noticing the body of a dead doctor which must’ve been what landed on his roof. To think that those things were so strong made him shudder, he removed Sierra from her side of the car and shook her a bit to wake her up.

    She gasped and came too wide-eyed. “W-what, happened?” She looked around frantically. “How are we still alive?”

“ Long story, we need to get out of here.” Ian helped her up. “ We need to find some way to get out of here.” Ian watched as police cars came in an attempt to bring order to the situation and watched with less horror than he expected as they could do nothing save fire at creatures that shrugged of the bullets effortlessly and then mauled them. The closest police car was right in front of a two officers being mauled by the creatures the had encountered. The voice in Ian’s head told him that he could stop these things If he really wanted to.

              “Hey, could you move we need that car.” Ian walked toward them with no intention of stopping.

               “What the hell are you doing?” Sierra stood back from him as she was now sure that he was going insane. “They’ll kill you.”

              “They can try.” He smiled filled with a confidence that came from somewhere else, a part of him that wasn’t there before. Then he remembered the deal with Pariah Gray and smiled even wider. The creatures rushed him and he responded in kind crashing into one of them running his hand through its sternum and tossing it at the other. “Fantom’s were no match for me back home and they will be no different here.”

          Sierra looked on at him “How are you doing that?”

          Ian in the process of crushing the skull of one of the Fantom’s with an axe kicked addressed her. “I’ve got our wheels and everything I think we’ve gotta find Roderick.” He completed his task and jumped in the car in question. “Let’s go we gotta get out here as fast as we can.” Sierra followed suit and they drove as fast as possible through the hordes of cop cars still coming.

         Adriana walked over to Roderick. “You can’t face anyone yet, not until you’ve fully accessed your powers.” She put her arms around his shoulders and kissed him.

         “And how do I do that?” He tried weakly to pull away from her.

        “Death and the little death.” She smiled at him. “Come on. You knew this was coming.” She led him out of the kitchen, into the bed room and closed the door. She pushed him down on to the bed. “If you don’t want to do this right now, we could wait but I figured you’d wanna get this done quick.”

               “Yeah. I guess.” Roderick began fidgeting nervously. It wasn’t his first time but it had been a while. “Could we go slow?”

              “Sorry I didn’t know if you were virgin or not.” She began to take off what little clothing she had on. He followed suit and then put his hands on her hips as she straddled him. They both gasped as he entered her and began to rock back and forth. “Keep your eyes on me.” She moaned. “We have to keep eye contact until till the point of climax.”
He began to match her rhythm and their breathing increased. He leaned up and kissed her and then did something neither of them excepted. He rolled her on her back and continued to thrust, their rhythm never changed and he never took his from her. She pulled him down closer to her and planted little kiss on his lips. They began to go faster and it was at that point that she became to much bare for him.  “I’m…”

             “Me too just…mmmm…keep looking at me.” She bit her lip and they both gasped as the reached climax. Then it was like time froze, like reality had slowly reconfigured itself. As the tattoos on Adriana’s body began to change position and at one point float off of her very skin. Something began to happen in Roderick’s brain his mind began to see and feel things differently as if it was everywhere at once. He felt like his brain had sprouted hands and was touching everything at the same time. He rolled off of her and exhaled heavily.

            “What was that?” He turned to look at her.

            “ You’re telepath.” She smiled. “Your abilities are based on your mind and how you shape the thoughts of others.” She kissed him and then turned on her side. “You were better than last time by the way.”

          “Uh, thanks.” He sat up. “Do you wanna, um?”

             “If you already know then don’t ask just do it.”

              He leaned over and put his arm around her. “When do we find the son of the Winter-lord?”

            “Chances are he’ll find you when he needs to.” As she whispered those words her doorbell rang. “You might want to get that.

            “O-okay.” Roderick put on his pants and walked outside to the front door upon getting to it he felt a familiar yet opposing energy on the other side. Ignoring it he opened the door and was nearly knocked over when Sierra hugged him.

                 “Thank God you’re alive. We went to your house and…” she let him up and her smile automatically turned into a frown when she saw Adriana walking out the bedroom wearing Roderick’s shirt. “I…I’m sorry didn’t know we were interrupting something. Now that we know you’re okay we should go.” She turned but walked directly into Ian who wasn’t budding.

             The stood their like statues, either sizing each other up or thinking of what to say or both. There was a palpable tension between the two of them. One that had not only their own but the thoughts and feelings of the part of themselves that they were now merged with. Roderick extended his hand and Ian took it. They shook for a brief bit then Roderick did something wholly uncharacteristic, he took the proverbial first swing hitting Ian with a telepathic blast that sent him reeling backward, while Sierra looked on in shock Adriana walked up behind Roderick with an amused look on her face. “Didn’t expect you to do that.”

               “I feel like he deserved that.” Roderick smiled.

                “Roderick, why would you do that?” Sierra unable to understand what was taking place grabbed Roderick’s arm but let go as soon as she felt whatever strange power it was that flowed through him. “What’s going on here?”

              “This’ll take a second.” Roderick walked out side to a face a smiling Ian.”

                “I was wondering if I had to swing first.” Ian put his hand on a car in front of the house as Adriana moved passed Sierra standing in the doorway. “This should be fun.” Ian punched his hand through the hood of the vehicle and retrieved the engine after a second or so he threw it at Roderick who had read his thoughts and dodge the mechanism. Ian rushed Roderick who began to dodge his blows and retaliate but to know avail.

                   “Why are you letting them fight?” Sierra screamed at Adriana. “Am I the only sane person here?”

                “They need to settle this.” Adriana smiled.

            Ian slammed back into the car totaling what was left. He got back up ready to mix it up again until the screaming started. Groups of people came tearing down the street chased by Fantom’s and the horrible unbound. “Not these things again.” Ian looked at Roderick. “Let’s postpone this we need to get out of here.” Ian went over to the cop car “We all need to get in.” They all followed suit.

         “Do we know where those things are coming from?” Roderick asked. “I mean I know your father sent them after me but…”

                Sierra looked at Ian incredulously. “The mayor…how would he even?” The car hitting something that had darted out in front of it stopped her inquiries. Ian halted the vehicle and got out.

       “Oh God!” Ian lifted the limp frame of a girl Roderick had only seen in passing through the halls. Nadia he thought her name was.

             “We should do something for her.” Ian said with worry melting his words.

             “You’ve got a passenger.” Roderick pointed to him. “When we fought I sensed her holding back your strength, maybe she can help you.”

                   Ian laid Nadia’s body down on the floor and looked into her half opened eyes. “Here goes nothing.” Something told Ian to try CPR and he did.”

        Nadia gasped as she awoke. “W-what, happened.”

          “The whole cities turned into a horror film and we’re trying to get the hell out of dodge.” Ian stood up and motioned for her to get into the car.

                “Hey, Sierra right?” Nadia smiled at her. “Good to see a familiar face.”

                “Y-yeah…good.” Sierra leaned on the window to her right in the passenger’s side. She wasn’t prepared for this level of crazy nor was she happy that it wasn’t explained to her but everyone else seemed to know what was going on. As they drove off her mind cycled through everything they had witness and it mad her even angrier. “Could some one please tell me what the hell is going on, since I’m the only one who doesn’t seem to know.”

         Roderick leaned up from the back seat. “Sorry about that.” Roderick took a deep breath and relayed the story, as they knew it so far. He slowed down and went back at parts that she didn’t seem to understand, Ian and Adriana also chimed in once in a while and even Nadia who had just recently been given contact the version of herself from Scrawl put her two sense in.

            “So basically everything’s gone crazy?”

              “Yes in a sense.” Roderick responded. “My question would be how do we stop these things, got any ideas, your highness?”

                “This all started at the hospital so I’m going to assume that , that is where we can end it.” They drove past the mad Fantom’s, wild Unbound creatures and screaming people up the road and on to the highway. Passing the school they saw the throngs of students being set upon by classmates that were now horribly disfigured and frightening creatures. They rode hard through the streets putting, Ian’s years of driving experience to the test as he swerved out the way oncoming monsters and pedestrians.

             “This is madness, why would the Winter-Lord unleash such carnage on a world he hopes to colonize?” Adriana directed her question at Ian.

            “ Probably to get rid of the populace, or get back at me.” Ian said sheepishly.

             “ Or to kill me.” Roderick chimed in.

               “Really it could be all three or none the task at hand is to stop it.” Sierra yelled. “This is my home town and unlike you I don’t have some other place to go back to.”

              “She makes a valid point” Nadia mused. “We’re the only ones who can escaped this unscathed and while Scrawl is on the verge of collapse there is no need for this world to suffer a similar fate” She said that as they approached the Hospital where droves of Fantom’s and the odd Unbound were lurking and in the center of them was something that could have only come from the twisted and fantastic nightmares of a lunatic. It was a sphere or at least what counted for its body was, where it should have had legs it had arms and tentacles where arms should’ve been. It had no face or sensory organs to speak of but when they arrived it became very active, pushing Fantom’s and Unbound creatures out of the way as it charged the car.

              “Everyone out now” Roderick screamed as they all scrambled away from the vehicle. Roderick stood in front of the car and used his telepathy to hold the creature back. His nose began to bleed and he shook from the pressure. It wasn’t that it was too large, it was some overbearing power that it had. He would’ve passed out had Ian not thrown the car at the beast causing it real back a bit.

              “We can’t beat this thing.” Ian yelled looking at Nadia. “You know what that is don’t you?” of course she knew they both knew but even after talking about it they never expected to encounter it.

               “We’ve never tried nor did we ever have to.” She was breathing heavily and her eyes took on the peculiar gold that Adriana’s did. As they did the few cars still left in the parking lot flew up and slammed into the creature. “We’ve got to hit it hard.” She yelled.

                 “Hard I can do.” Adriana smiled as her tattoos came to life in a sort of armor around her, clawed gauntlets covered her hands and her skin was overcome by gleaming metal. She rushed the creature with claws bared slashing rapidly.

               Roderick had taken hold of the minds of the Unbound and Fantom’s near by and had begun using them to attack the nameless blight. “”How are we going to stop it?” He yelled even as the creature devoured those under his control. It’s tentacles dissolving them instantly.

               “What is that thing?” Sierra ran for cover behind an ambulance that was still standing.”
              “It’s called the Nameless Blight.” Ian yelled looking around for something throw at the monstrosity. “It’s linked directly to my father it’s kinda like his version of an A-bomb.”  

             “That gives me an idea.” Roderick let go control of his temporary minions and focused his thoughts on the thing that with each fail of a tentacle attempted to kill them. He felt something a mind only full of the notions of subjugation and conquest. Then it noticed him and feelings of anger hatred and finally fear emerged, he grabbed onto that last one and stretched it as much as he could. The notion that no matter what the Winter-Lord had envisioned he could not win, for Roderick was a reckoning on the Winter-lord and all the Winterborne. The creature began to shake and tremble as its master’s conscious was driven out of it and then it began to collapse as it lost all source of animation. “That was easier than I thought it would be.”

                  “I’m glad it was and I’m glad it’s over.” Ian chimed in.

                  “What do we do now?” Nadia looked around at them.
                      “We’ve gotta save Scrawl, duh.” As Adriana spoke the creatures decomposing body melted a hole in the floor creating a luminescent pool similar to the fourth wall. “Ask and ye shall receive, let’s go.”

                      “What about me?” Sierra approached them as they prepared to enter the Fourth wall. “What do I do, what about the city?”

              Roderick walked up to her and planted a kiss upon her lips. “We’ll return, just be here when we get back.” He smiled as they all one by one jumped into the gate between this world and Scrawl. It almost immediately closed up behind them and Sierra was left there surrounded by carnage and filled with an anxious hope. “I’ll wait and when you get back Endwater will be a much different place. A better one, I promise.”