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Simon & Schuster is one of the world’s leading publishers and we are always looking for fresh new voices. Write a story, chapter, or essay about whatever you like. The 50 best entries will be announced by Prose and read by our editorial staff for consideration.
Written by HermitThrush in portal Simon & Schuster

The Disasterville Chronicles: Chapter One

Explanatory note: My name is Sophia Baumeister, and what you will be reading are slightly edited excerpts from a diary I kept. As strange as it might seem to some of the audience members, I only changed particularly problematic grammar and the names of people and places involved. Everything else is as factual as can be expected of a diary. I also decided to be kind and translated it from the triple cipher method I used, otherwise it would be unintelligible.

Day One:

Since I am officially starting high school tomorrow, I have decided to start keeping a diary. I suspect it will be necessary catharsis after dealing with the usual drama. Writing things down will also help me keep track of who is speaking to whom, the latest gossip, and most importantly who is on hero/villain rotation. You know, typical high school stuff.

Oh, who am I kidding. This city is the craziest place on the planet. I still can't believe we've lived here as long as we have; you would think my parents would be more interested in moving after the third time downtown got demolished. But no, our lives and jobs and houses are here, so no matter how insane it gets we're not moving from Disasterville. So this diary is to help me survive the weirdness that no one else cares about or notices.

First off, my initial assessment of Disasterville High. It is, without question, one of the top five epicenters of the inexplicable in this city. Last year alone major portions of the school had to be rebuilt thirty-seven times for "gas leaks." Make that thirty-six times, once it was "planned renovations" that just happened to follow a major kaiju smackdown thwarted by a girl in a poofy dress and her pet cat. That, of course, brings me to the second stage of the assessment. Based on the apparent age of most heroes/villains/alien robots in the city, combined with the number of the same in middle school, I'd say that my class will have, at most, 50% normal people. Knowing my luck, most of the teachers will be decidedly far from normal as well. I hope at least some of the teachers are both normal and competent; it will be much easier to come out unscathed if so.

Anyway, I'm trying to decide what to bring in my backpack. I have to bring the usual stuff for class, plus my sketchbook. I'll definitely keep the flashlight, glowsticks, nonperishable snacks, water bottle, and umbrella from middle school. I'm tempted to replace the extra walkie-talkies with a burner phone, but that would defeat the purpose of having a radio backup if the cell tower is down. I'd also like to bring something a little more defense-oriented, but I'm not sure school policies allow anything more than pepper spray. I might be able to sneak in some flour bombs if I pretend they're baking supplies since smoke bombs are explicitly banned. At least the water bottle is stainless steel. Oh, and I can't forget to bring the inflatable life vest I just got. I'll go add that now. Oh, and garlic. Lots and lots of garlic. It might be hard to bring a spare change of clothes with all that; maybe I'll just dress in layers and keep a heavy jacket in my locker.

My classes at least looks pretty good. I have history with Mr. Traveler (his first name isn't Tim, I checked), shop class with Mrs. Elric, Spanish with... actually the teacher isn't listed... geometry with Dr. Defender (take a wild guess what she does in her spare time), and biology with Mr. Daemon. Like I said, the classes look good, it's the teachers I'm worried about.

I should go to bed early but I'm nervous.I know I'll need to be at my best tomorrow, and that won't happen if I'm sleep deprived. I think I'll go double check the security system and set up the window cans just in case. In this city, you can't be too careful.

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Simon & Schuster is one of the world’s leading publishers and we are always looking for fresh new voices. Write a story, chapter, or essay about whatever you like. The 50 best entries will be announced by Prose and read by our editorial staff for consideration.
Written by HermitThrush in portal Simon & Schuster
The Disasterville Chronicles: Chapter One
Explanatory note: My name is Sophia Baumeister, and what you will be reading are slightly edited excerpts from a diary I kept. As strange as it might seem to some of the audience members, I only changed particularly problematic grammar and the names of people and places involved. Everything else is as factual as can be expected of a diary. I also decided to be kind and translated it from the triple cipher method I used, otherwise it would be unintelligible.

Day One:

Since I am officially starting high school tomorrow, I have decided to start keeping a diary. I suspect it will be necessary catharsis after dealing with the usual drama. Writing things down will also help me keep track of who is speaking to whom, the latest gossip, and most importantly who is on hero/villain rotation. You know, typical high school stuff.

Oh, who am I kidding. This city is the craziest place on the planet. I still can't believe we've lived here as long as we have; you would think my parents would be more interested in moving after the third time downtown got demolished. But no, our lives and jobs and houses are here, so no matter how insane it gets we're not moving from Disasterville. So this diary is to help me survive the weirdness that no one else cares about or notices.

First off, my initial assessment of Disasterville High. It is, without question, one of the top five epicenters of the inexplicable in this city. Last year alone major portions of the school had to be rebuilt thirty-seven times for "gas leaks." Make that thirty-six times, once it was "planned renovations" that just happened to follow a major kaiju smackdown thwarted by a girl in a poofy dress and her pet cat. That, of course, brings me to the second stage of the assessment. Based on the apparent age of most heroes/villains/alien robots in the city, combined with the number of the same in middle school, I'd say that my class will have, at most, 50% normal people. Knowing my luck, most of the teachers will be decidedly far from normal as well. I hope at least some of the teachers are both normal and competent; it will be much easier to come out unscathed if so.

Anyway, I'm trying to decide what to bring in my backpack. I have to bring the usual stuff for class, plus my sketchbook. I'll definitely keep the flashlight, glowsticks, nonperishable snacks, water bottle, and umbrella from middle school. I'm tempted to replace the extra walkie-talkies with a burner phone, but that would defeat the purpose of having a radio backup if the cell tower is down. I'd also like to bring something a little more defense-oriented, but I'm not sure school policies allow anything more than pepper spray. I might be able to sneak in some flour bombs if I pretend they're baking supplies since smoke bombs are explicitly banned. At least the water bottle is stainless steel. Oh, and I can't forget to bring the inflatable life vest I just got. I'll go add that now. Oh, and garlic. Lots and lots of garlic. It might be hard to bring a spare change of clothes with all that; maybe I'll just dress in layers and keep a heavy jacket in my locker.

My classes at least looks pretty good. I have history with Mr. Traveler (his first name isn't Tim, I checked), shop class with Mrs. Elric, Spanish with... actually the teacher isn't listed... geometry with Dr. Defender (take a wild guess what she does in her spare time), and biology with Mr. Daemon. Like I said, the classes look good, it's the teachers I'm worried about.

I should go to bed early but I'm nervous.I know I'll need to be at my best tomorrow, and that won't happen if I'm sleep deprived. I think I'll go double check the security system and set up the window cans just in case. In this city, you can't be too careful.
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CotW #66: Write about the biggest lesson life has taught you.
Written by HermitThrush

Who likes honesty?

Life has always been difficult for me to put into boxes. I hated essays, and still hate questions, that try to reduce a continuum into a point -- when did you realize X, what was your greatest victory or failure, what's your story, pick three words to describe you. It's always tempting to make up a something about that moment I ascended into the clouds and discovered the meaning of life. I strive for honesty, though, so the essays always took me much longer than they should have.

It is just one example of many I can think of where honesty is discouraged. There was that time in middle school when someone smugly dismissed any of the kids who said they didn't lie as liars. There was the discussion in class where everyone else looked at me like I had three heads when I suggested that you shouldn't just say "Of course it doesn't make you look fat." There was the time someone I knew almost missed out on a job interview because they weren't willing to screw over their current employer by skipping work. There was that one ethics session in class where it's taken for granted that you would agree to lie about your boss' whereabouts in the setup and the actual dilemma came later -- it's not a big deal, why wouldn't you? (I wish I were making that one up). Nothing major just -- well, everyone lies, so why won't you? Freak.

I think it runs a bit deeper, though. For me, I extend that honesty to things most people wouldn't think twice about. That's probably why they don't think twice when they forget to show up to an event they promised to go to when I would contact the hosts as soon as I realized my mistake and maybe even bake them something as an apology. And why I don't always reply with, "I'm good, how are you?" when the answer is closer to "AAAAAHHHHH!" Though I usually don't say "AAAAAHHHHH," I'm not that socially inept. I just hide my feelings from people I don't know well as a stopgap since I'm supposed to lie to myself and everyone else that everything is perfect. Not to mention how uncomfortable I get during interviews/job applications since employers want you to act like outgoing extroverts, at least until you get the job (Shy introvert here if that wasn't obvious).

Right. Life lesson. As much as it sucks, people don't always like the virtues they pay lip service to. They'll teach kids not to lie, certainly. It's cute and endearing when kids are honest. When it comes to honest peers, though, they'll steer clear, and reassure themselves that since they're not dishonest in big, damaging ways they're the better person. The message most people pick up on implicitly is, "Don't be yourself to succeed. Fudge things a little until you don't have to." Except the funny thing is once you start, it never stops. So my take on it is "Use discretion, but be honest even when it hurts because at the end of the day it's the right thing to do." Here's hoping I can get by on that.

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CotW #66: Write about the biggest lesson life has taught you.
Written by HermitThrush
Who likes honesty?
Life has always been difficult for me to put into boxes. I hated essays, and still hate questions, that try to reduce a continuum into a point -- when did you realize X, what was your greatest victory or failure, what's your story, pick three words to describe you. It's always tempting to make up a something about that moment I ascended into the clouds and discovered the meaning of life. I strive for honesty, though, so the essays always took me much longer than they should have.

It is just one example of many I can think of where honesty is discouraged. There was that time in middle school when someone smugly dismissed any of the kids who said they didn't lie as liars. There was the discussion in class where everyone else looked at me like I had three heads when I suggested that you shouldn't just say "Of course it doesn't make you look fat." There was the time someone I knew almost missed out on a job interview because they weren't willing to screw over their current employer by skipping work. There was that one ethics session in class where it's taken for granted that you would agree to lie about your boss' whereabouts in the setup and the actual dilemma came later -- it's not a big deal, why wouldn't you? (I wish I were making that one up). Nothing major just -- well, everyone lies, so why won't you? Freak.

I think it runs a bit deeper, though. For me, I extend that honesty to things most people wouldn't think twice about. That's probably why they don't think twice when they forget to show up to an event they promised to go to when I would contact the hosts as soon as I realized my mistake and maybe even bake them something as an apology. And why I don't always reply with, "I'm good, how are you?" when the answer is closer to "AAAAAHHHHH!" Though I usually don't say "AAAAAHHHHH," I'm not that socially inept. I just hide my feelings from people I don't know well as a stopgap since I'm supposed to lie to myself and everyone else that everything is perfect. Not to mention how uncomfortable I get during interviews/job applications since employers want you to act like outgoing extroverts, at least until you get the job (Shy introvert here if that wasn't obvious).

Right. Life lesson. As much as it sucks, people don't always like the virtues they pay lip service to. They'll teach kids not to lie, certainly. It's cute and endearing when kids are honest. When it comes to honest peers, though, they'll steer clear, and reassure themselves that since they're not dishonest in big, damaging ways they're the better person. The message most people pick up on implicitly is, "Don't be yourself to succeed. Fudge things a little until you don't have to." Except the funny thing is once you start, it never stops. So my take on it is "Use discretion, but be honest even when it hurts because at the end of the day it's the right thing to do." Here's hoping I can get by on that.
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Chapter 13 of The Disasterville Chronicles
Written by HermitThrush

What a Week

Ugh, where to begin? This week has been such a headache. Well, not entirely, but enough.

I started getting worried about Jack when he started skipping lunch. I texted him about it and he said that he was working on a project and it would be a surprise. Half the time that's code for "I'm off fighting alien invaders," but I saw him at the hardware store so I decided it might actually be a project and didn't worry about it too much.

The other reason I didn't worry is because of that stupid serial killer. When a serial killer prints clues to his next crime in the newspaper and still doesn't get caught, it's worrisome. A side effect of the situation is that my parents barely let me outside the house unless I have several people with me. While I appreciated the concern and the slightly higher safety margin, I got stir crazy fast. It felt like I was being watched, and I could have sworn I saw someone following me only to disappear into a crowd. Of course given who I ticked off on Halloween... but it was probably just me being paranoid. I hope.

Running club helped a lot. The park is lovely, and it's really helping my endurance. I've always been better at sprinting, not so much at going for a long time. Then on Wednesday my parents were late picking me up. I later found out that they closed a bunch of roads due to some sort of nanobot swarm. At the time, though, I just knew I was waiting by myself and the sun was going down. I pulled a Mrs. Reiser and kept my pocket knife handy.

I saw movement out of the corner of my eye and turned. Someone was coming out of the walking trail. I relaxed a bit when I saw it was Bernard. Then he walked toward me and I tensed up again.

"Um, hi Sophia," he said. "What are you doing here so late?"

"Just waiting for pickup. My parents will be here any second." Was that too much information? Wait, he has no reason to go after me -- still dangerous though.

"Do you mind if I wait with you?" He looked down and scuffed his foot against the ground.

"Of course, no problem." What was I supposed to say, go away I don't trust you?

He sat down at the opposite edge of the bench. I didn't feel like talking so I kept on the alert. 

After a while, I think the silence got to him. He took a deep breath, looked away, cleared his throat, then stayed quiet. Finally he said, "So, um... what did you think of that last geometry test?"

"It was OK." I got 100, but I kept that to myself. "It was hard, but I think the questions were fair."

"Well yeah, but you're really smart." He finally met my eyes with his soft brown ones and his hair looked good and GAAH STOP IT IGNORE THE CUTENESS.

I blushed. "Not really. I study a lot for that class, and the homework takes me a long time."

"Yeah, but so do I and I'm barely passing. Everyone knows you're at the top of the class."

"Maybe we should study together sometime." I immediately kicked myself for suggesting we spend more time together. And yet I still felt oddly happy when he responded, "Really? That would be great!" Then he got a big goofy grin. "Um... what time would be good for you?"

"Maybe right after class in the library?" It would be really convenient if our schedules didn't match up.

"Sure! I can do that!" 

My mind was torn between uncontrollable giggling and banging my head against the bench. Fortunately I did neither. "I bet we could make it a study group. I can ask a couple people in the class." More people equals safer, right?

Yet he didn't seem disappointed. "That's a great idea! And then we can all help each other study for the final too."

Then I saw someone walking by and immediately switched to observation mode. Bernard followed my gaze and scooted a bit closer. We both sighed when we were alone again, then jumped when the street lamps flickered on. I giggled nervously, and Bernard rubbed the back of his head.

"I guess we're both on edge, huh?" he asked.

I nodded. "Yeah, I mean with the news..." I trailed off. No need to finish that sentence.

He squirmed in his seat and crossed his arms.

"You OK?" I asked.

"Fine, fine, it's just cooling off a bit."

"You don't have to wait with me you know. My parents will be here soon." I checked my phone again. Still just a text saying they were stuck in traffic.

"I don't mind. It's kind of refreshing. I'll warm back up when I walk home."

I glared at him. "You're not walking home. I'll make sure my parents give you a ride."

"Really? Thanks!" He looked past me and stiffened. I turned to see what he was looking at.

The guy who had walked by earlier was now leaning against a vending machine. He looked away as soon as I turned, which meant he had probably been staring at me. I scooted closer to Bernard.

I leaned in close and whispered, "Don't stare. We can take turns keeping an eye on him."

He nodded and started blathering about newts while we did so. I had no idea there was so much to know about newts, but apparently he has an aunt who's a herpetologist. He had just gotten to a story about the time his aunt took him to look for newts during a camping trip when the guy started coming toward us. Bernard trailed off into a series of "umms" and took my hand. I gave it a squeeze. It felt reassuring somehow.

As the guy came closer, I noticed he was wearing sunglasses and a hood. At night. I released Bernard's hand so I could have both my phone and my knife at the ready. The knife stayed in my pocket, the phone on my lap. When he was a couple feet away, he asked, "Do either of you have the time? I'm supposed to meet a friend here but he's running late."

I flicked my eyes toward my phone. "8:37."

"Thanks," he said. He turned his back and started walking away. I almost relaxed. Then Bernard shoved me to the ground as he twirled around and pulled a gun. There was a sickenenly loud bang, then Bernard was bleeding.

The guy didn't have time to pull the trigger again before the Berserker was on top of him. My phone didn't even reach 8:38 before he was battered unconscious. I froze in shock as the behemoth in front of me shrank back into the cute kid from my class.

"Sophia, are you OK?" His eyes darted up and down, looking for any sign I wasn't.

I nodded, mouth open. Not exactly what I expected him to say.

He sighed and half-fell as he sat on the ground. "I saw the gun but he must have missed..." his voice trailed off as he looked between the hole in his shirt and the guy he had beaten up. "Wait, what? Did... did I?" He put his hand to his temple.

I started laughing weakly. Consciously I knew I was probably in shock, but it seemed funny at the time. 

Bernard stared at me like a wounded puppy. "What happened? Are you sure you're OK?"

I put my head between my knees and forced myself to take deep breaths. I finally looked up and blurted out, "You didn't KNOW?"

"Know what?" Bernard looked like he might throw up, which was about how I felt too.

I weighed my options, then decided he deserved the truth. "About the Berserker?"

He stared in confusion, then stood up and stepped back, mouth open. "Who? I didn't -- I can't be--" His eyes widened, he almost nodded, then he looked down at his hands. "I -- I should go." He turned and ran.

I called an ambulance and the police. They didn't ask too many questions when I said some guy showed up, saved me at the last second, then ran off. They probably hear that story more often than they'd like to admit. They told me I might have to testify, but that they'd contact me when it got closer. I just went along with it. If it meant putting a normal serial killer behind bars, that was something I could do.

My mom was crying when she picked me up, and my dad vowed never to let me out of his sight. They've gotten a bit less clingy over the past couple days though. On the plus side, they're talking about setting up a weekend vacation out of state just to spend time together, which would be awesome.

Bernard didn't come to school the next few days. Officially he was out sick. I sent him a text asking if he was OK, but he never replied. Can't blame him, really; I can't imagine how awful it would be to find out something like that. Well, actually I can, but it's still pretty bad. I suspected he would need a lot of space and time to work through it, if he ever did.

By the time Friday rolled around, I had just about decided I must have made it through without any further incident. After class, I grabbed Azlyn and Wisteria and we planned a trip to a new ice cream parlor. Next thing I knew, I was sitting in my room. I scrambled for my clock. I had one hour and twenty minutes of missing time. I searched my room and my backpack for anything out of place. When I realized what was amiss, I clenched my teeth. My notebook with information about my classmates' abilities was missing.

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Chapter 13 of The Disasterville Chronicles
Written by HermitThrush
What a Week
Ugh, where to begin? This week has been such a headache. Well, not entirely, but enough.

I started getting worried about Jack when he started skipping lunch. I texted him about it and he said that he was working on a project and it would be a surprise. Half the time that's code for "I'm off fighting alien invaders," but I saw him at the hardware store so I decided it might actually be a project and didn't worry about it too much.

The other reason I didn't worry is because of that stupid serial killer. When a serial killer prints clues to his next crime in the newspaper and still doesn't get caught, it's worrisome. A side effect of the situation is that my parents barely let me outside the house unless I have several people with me. While I appreciated the concern and the slightly higher safety margin, I got stir crazy fast. It felt like I was being watched, and I could have sworn I saw someone following me only to disappear into a crowd. Of course given who I ticked off on Halloween... but it was probably just me being paranoid. I hope.

Running club helped a lot. The park is lovely, and it's really helping my endurance. I've always been better at sprinting, not so much at going for a long time. Then on Wednesday my parents were late picking me up. I later found out that they closed a bunch of roads due to some sort of nanobot swarm. At the time, though, I just knew I was waiting by myself and the sun was going down. I pulled a Mrs. Reiser and kept my pocket knife handy.

I saw movement out of the corner of my eye and turned. Someone was coming out of the walking trail. I relaxed a bit when I saw it was Bernard. Then he walked toward me and I tensed up again.

"Um, hi Sophia," he said. "What are you doing here so late?"

"Just waiting for pickup. My parents will be here any second." Was that too much information? Wait, he has no reason to go after me -- still dangerous though.

"Do you mind if I wait with you?" He looked down and scuffed his foot against the ground.

"Of course, no problem." What was I supposed to say, go away I don't trust you?

He sat down at the opposite edge of the bench. I didn't feel like talking so I kept on the alert. 

After a while, I think the silence got to him. He took a deep breath, looked away, cleared his throat, then stayed quiet. Finally he said, "So, um... what did you think of that last geometry test?"

"It was OK." I got 100, but I kept that to myself. "It was hard, but I think the questions were fair."

"Well yeah, but you're really smart." He finally met my eyes with his soft brown ones and his hair looked good and GAAH STOP IT IGNORE THE CUTENESS.

I blushed. "Not really. I study a lot for that class, and the homework takes me a long time."

"Yeah, but so do I and I'm barely passing. Everyone knows you're at the top of the class."

"Maybe we should study together sometime." I immediately kicked myself for suggesting we spend more time together. And yet I still felt oddly happy when he responded, "Really? That would be great!" Then he got a big goofy grin. "Um... what time would be good for you?"

"Maybe right after class in the library?" It would be really convenient if our schedules didn't match up.

"Sure! I can do that!" 

My mind was torn between uncontrollable giggling and banging my head against the bench. Fortunately I did neither. "I bet we could make it a study group. I can ask a couple people in the class." More people equals safer, right?

Yet he didn't seem disappointed. "That's a great idea! And then we can all help each other study for the final too."

Then I saw someone walking by and immediately switched to observation mode. Bernard followed my gaze and scooted a bit closer. We both sighed when we were alone again, then jumped when the street lamps flickered on. I giggled nervously, and Bernard rubbed the back of his head.

"I guess we're both on edge, huh?" he asked.

I nodded. "Yeah, I mean with the news..." I trailed off. No need to finish that sentence.

He squirmed in his seat and crossed his arms.

"You OK?" I asked.

"Fine, fine, it's just cooling off a bit."

"You don't have to wait with me you know. My parents will be here soon." I checked my phone again. Still just a text saying they were stuck in traffic.

"I don't mind. It's kind of refreshing. I'll warm back up when I walk home."

I glared at him. "You're not walking home. I'll make sure my parents give you a ride."

"Really? Thanks!" He looked past me and stiffened. I turned to see what he was looking at.

The guy who had walked by earlier was now leaning against a vending machine. He looked away as soon as I turned, which meant he had probably been staring at me. I scooted closer to Bernard.

I leaned in close and whispered, "Don't stare. We can take turns keeping an eye on him."

He nodded and started blathering about newts while we did so. I had no idea there was so much to know about newts, but apparently he has an aunt who's a herpetologist. He had just gotten to a story about the time his aunt took him to look for newts during a camping trip when the guy started coming toward us. Bernard trailed off into a series of "umms" and took my hand. I gave it a squeeze. It felt reassuring somehow.

As the guy came closer, I noticed he was wearing sunglasses and a hood. At night. I released Bernard's hand so I could have both my phone and my knife at the ready. The knife stayed in my pocket, the phone on my lap. When he was a couple feet away, he asked, "Do either of you have the time? I'm supposed to meet a friend here but he's running late."

I flicked my eyes toward my phone. "8:37."

"Thanks," he said. He turned his back and started walking away. I almost relaxed. Then Bernard shoved me to the ground as he twirled around and pulled a gun. There was a sickenenly loud bang, then Bernard was bleeding.

The guy didn't have time to pull the trigger again before the Berserker was on top of him. My phone didn't even reach 8:38 before he was battered unconscious. I froze in shock as the behemoth in front of me shrank back into the cute kid from my class.

"Sophia, are you OK?" His eyes darted up and down, looking for any sign I wasn't.

I nodded, mouth open. Not exactly what I expected him to say.

He sighed and half-fell as he sat on the ground. "I saw the gun but he must have missed..." his voice trailed off as he looked between the hole in his shirt and the guy he had beaten up. "Wait, what? Did... did I?" He put his hand to his temple.

I started laughing weakly. Consciously I knew I was probably in shock, but it seemed funny at the time. 

Bernard stared at me like a wounded puppy. "What happened? Are you sure you're OK?"

I put my head between my knees and forced myself to take deep breaths. I finally looked up and blurted out, "You didn't KNOW?"

"Know what?" Bernard looked like he might throw up, which was about how I felt too.

I weighed my options, then decided he deserved the truth. "About the Berserker?"

He stared in confusion, then stood up and stepped back, mouth open. "Who? I didn't -- I can't be--" His eyes widened, he almost nodded, then he looked down at his hands. "I -- I should go." He turned and ran.

I called an ambulance and the police. They didn't ask too many questions when I said some guy showed up, saved me at the last second, then ran off. They probably hear that story more often than they'd like to admit. They told me I might have to testify, but that they'd contact me when it got closer. I just went along with it. If it meant putting a normal serial killer behind bars, that was something I could do.

My mom was crying when she picked me up, and my dad vowed never to let me out of his sight. They've gotten a bit less clingy over the past couple days though. On the plus side, they're talking about setting up a weekend vacation out of state just to spend time together, which would be awesome.

Bernard didn't come to school the next few days. Officially he was out sick. I sent him a text asking if he was OK, but he never replied. Can't blame him, really; I can't imagine how awful it would be to find out something like that. Well, actually I can, but it's still pretty bad. I suspected he would need a lot of space and time to work through it, if he ever did.

By the time Friday rolled around, I had just about decided I must have made it through without any further incident. After class, I grabbed Azlyn and Wisteria and we planned a trip to a new ice cream parlor. Next thing I knew, I was sitting in my room. I scrambled for my clock. I had one hour and twenty minutes of missing time. I searched my room and my backpack for anything out of place. When I realized what was amiss, I clenched my teeth. My notebook with information about my classmates' abilities was missing.
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Chapter 12 of The Disasterville Chronicles
Written by HermitThrush

Deal

In retrospect, it sounds like a dumb joke. Two vampires and a gorgon walk up to a house... maybe I'm just sleep deprived still.

We had finally gotten to the center of the spell. I was almost surprised at how normal the house looked (well, except for the obvious magic aura). Two stories, white paint, a lawn; that night something so normal looked strange.

When we got there a question I should have thought of sooner popped into my head. "Wait, what are we going to do about the invitation?"

Mrs. Reiser put her hand to her chin. "I... forgot about that. I didn't think it would be inside someone's house."

I looked around. Sanguis was gone. Then I looked up at the house. He was already on the roof, and gestured for me to join him. What was he thinking? I groaned and looked for a way to get up there. There was a tree growing close to the house at the back. I ran toward it, but found myself diving behind a bush before I registered voices coming through the closest window. That's when I realized why Sanguis was up there; enhanced senses meant that we could do some recon without even entering the house.

"This wasn't what I agreed to," said one of the voices. It was oddly familiar, but I couldn't quite place it.

"I don't see what you mean. I fulfilled the terms of our contract to the letter. Just as with our previous contracts." I froze. That was definitely Mr. Daemon's voice. I guess I should have been surprised, but he creeped me out enough that I had assumed he was up to something or other. Hm, but if that was Mr. Daemon, who was he talking to?

"The letter, yes, but I didn't want you to turn half the city into monsters! I only asked you for some easy fights so that everyone in the city will love me!" Ferris Eaton. Of course. Still not surprised somehow.

"Well, these new monsters will be easy pickings. Most of them have no idea what they are. And once you stop them, you will again be hailed as the hero who keeps the city from chaos."

I could feel my fangs starting to tickle my tongue, but restrained myself. Instead, I slowly crept to the window to peek in. Ferris was glaring at Mr. Daemon, hands clenched. Mr. Daemon had the smile he usually reserved for giving people failing grades, except creepier. In the background I saw an intricate circular pattern on the floor. I ducked back down. That must have been the magic circle.

I slowly started heading back to Mrs. Reiser, but kept listening. Mr. Daemon replied slowly. "If you want you may destroy the circle and render your part of the bargain null. But I will expect payment either way. And need I remind you of the penalties for doing so?"

As creepy as it sounds, I could hear Ferris' heart beat faster. When he didn't say anything, I heard Mr. Daemon reply, "Then stay here and make sure the circle is safe. You will reap your benefits in the morning."

I didn't hear anything else before I got back to Mrs. Reiser, but it was enough. She greeted me with hands on her hips. "I didn't realize vampires were compelled to run off without warning."

"Hey, he did it first," I said, motioning to Sanguis. This time he had popped up behind Mrs. Reiser, and it was really hard not to laugh. She jumped and started moving her knife before backing up.

"Besides," I continued, "I saw where the magic circle is."

They both looked at me. "It's in the room next to that window on the side. There are two people there guarding it. I think the caster must have been the older one, Mr. Daemon."

Sanguis hissed. "You know that demon?"

I blinked. "Um... he's my biology teacher. Wait, he's an actual demon? That sounds bad."

Mrs. Reiser switched out knives. "You could say that."

Sanguis moved to grab her arm, but Mrs. Reiser jerked away. He instead held out his open hands and said, "I can't let you face a demon by yourself."

Mrs. Reiser was surprisingly adept at glaring through her mask. "I can handle myself. And since neither of you can get inside without being invited, I'm going to have to."

"That might not be true," I interrupted. They both looked at me again. "The other person goes to my school. And I don't really look like a vampire yet. Maybe I can get him to invite us in."

The kept staring, and Sanguis frowned. I shrugged. "Well even if it doesn't work it'll distract them, right?"

Finally they nodded. Mrs. Reiser went to wait by the window, and Sanguis disappeared. I assumed he was close to the door, but I couldn't tell where he was hiding. I took a deep breath, marched up the sidewalk, and rang the doorbell.

I could hear hushed tones, but knew I shouldn't. So I waited a few seconds, then rang the doorbell again. I kept ringing the doorbell incessantly until I heard steps coming to the front door. I backed up as Ferris opened it.

"What?" he snapped. Then he must have realized it was a fairly normal looking teenage girl. "Excuse me. But what are you doing here in the middle of the night?"

"Oh, you're Ferris! I didn't realize you lived here. Oh, I'm so sorry I bothered you but... but..." I choked back disgust, but made it seem like I was about to cry. I could see his face soften. "But everything is crazy out here and your house looks like it might be safe! Can I please come in?"

Ferris scuffed his foot against the ground. "I don't know, I don't think we've even met..."

I looked down. "I mean... we haven't. I'm just a freshman. And you're so cool and popular and I guess you wouldn't even notice someone like me so I hate to bother you but my friends and I have been going around for hours trying to find somewhere to hide and I'm so sorry but if we could just stay until morning..." I trailed off, just about ready to gag. That should have stroked his ego at least.

"Friends? What friends? I don't see anyone with you."

I was hoping he wouldn't notice so Sanguis would get invited without too much effort, but I figured that might happen. "We split up to try to cover more ground. But now I'm by myself and I'm worried about them, and... and..." I sniffled. That was about as close to crying as I could manage. Not sure why everyone is convinced girls can just cry on command whenever they want something. But it was enough.

"Hey, hey, hey, it's OK. Come in, and your friends can come in when they get here. There's a spare bedroom upstairs you can stay in until morning, all right?" He put his arm around my shoulder and ushered me across the threshold.

I had hoped Sanguis would have enough sense to wait until we were upstairs to make a move, but nooo. The second he got that invitation he barged in and tried to jump Ferris. He must have been surprised when Ferris landed a hit no problem. 

Luckily Ferris didn't make the connection between the two events. "Go, run! I'll hold him off!" I nodded and ran straight to the room I saw the circle in. "Wait, not that way, that's --" Ferris got cut off by Sanguis' counterattack. Those two should keep each other busy, at least.

When I got there Mr. Daemon was still camped right over the circle. I guess him running out to see what the commotion was would have been too easy. He looked at me and smiled. "Why, Sophia! Fancy seeing you here. Why are you out so late at night?"

Wait, if he's a demon, can he tell if I'm lying? I was careful about my words, but took on a decidedly hysterical tone. "People are turning into monsters and everything is getting torn apart and FERRIS IS FIGHTING A VAMPIRE! SHOULDN'T YOU HELP HIM?"

Mr. Daemon put his finger on my lips. "Now, now, that's an impressive act, but I saw you lurking outside the window earlier. Besides, I can tell that you've been... affected."

Crap. I got ready to run, but he didn't seem like he was going to attack. Maybe if I ran he would still follow though? I definitely needed to keep him talking; I could see Mrs. Reiser quietly working on the window.

I sucked in my breath. "I... I... I don't know what you're talking about."

"Don't lie, my dear, I can tell." Mr. Daemon's smile got wider. "But don't worry, I don't mean you any harm. In fact, I have a proposition for you."

"No," I blurted out. How stupid did he think I was?

My bluntness prompted laughter. "A no before you've even heard the terms? Ah, Sophia, you should really listen to your teacher. Really, it will only be to your benefit."

I kept staring at Mr. Daemon but saw Mrs. Reiser easing open the window. Keep him talking. "What kind of proposition?"

He paced forward slightly. "You're here because you've changed. Indirectly my doing, I'm afraid. I suppose that monster in the other room told you the only way to get your life back is to destroy that circle? Well that's not true."

Mrs. Reiser started squeezing through the window even as Mr. Daemon came closer. I paced backward, one hand feeling behind me.

Mr. Daemon continued. "I control the spell. If you want, I can lift your curse and you can be on your way. Just don't tell anyone what happened and you'll have a normal life. Or," and his eyes glowed faintly, "I can grant you power. Far more power than what you feel right now. All you would have to do is lend my your aid when I called."

By now I was backed against the wall and Mr. Daemon was uncomfortably close to my face. Mrs. Reiser dropped to the floor. The noise caught his attention, and he started turning.

"No," I repeated, and punched him in the face. Then I ducked and rolled toward the door. He lunged at me, but then Mrs. Reiser tackled him.

The two of them struggled, and I headed toward the circle. I scuffed my foot against it; chalk. I pulled out my water bottle and dumped the contents across the circle. The symbols blurred into random streaks. Suddenly everything seemed a lot darker, but I could also feel my heart beating.

Mr. Daemon loomed behind me. "I expected more from such a good student." He knocked me to the floor. Then Sanguis was in front of me while Mrs. Reiser lunged at Mr. Daemon from behind.

Mr. Daemon's eyes glowed red and hot, almost like fire, as he dodged out of the way. He snarled, then dove around the corner. I looked out just in time to see him disappearing with the unconscious Ferris. "I am still owed my price," echoed his voice in the empty hallway.

Mrs. Reiser took off her mask and tied back her hair. She took my arm firmly and started walking out the door with me. I was too tired to argue or care. I figured I would let her explain the outing to my parents.

"A word," interjected Sanguis. Mrs. Reiser stopped, but kept her knife out. 

"I apologize for my rash assumptions," said Sanguis. "I should not have been so ready to attack when you instead needed my help." He handed me a piece of paper. I looked at it and saw a phone number of all things. "Should that demon attempt to harm you for your role in this night, contact me and I will come to your aid." Then he vanished.

I programmed the number into my cell phone, ignoring Mrs. Reiser's look of shock. If there was even the slightest chance of retaliation, having a vampire's phone number was a good thing. Unless it happens during the day, in which case I'm screwed.

Anyway, Mrs. Reiser and I made our way back. We saw a lot of people wandering around, and the news the next day said something about a fire from a gas leak. I didn't hear that until later because I slept for about ten hours, grabbed something to eat, then slept until the next morning. My parents didn't bug me at all, so apparently they bought whatever Mrs. Reiser told them. That or they didn't want to talk about what happened. Given the oddly large feathers I found later it might have been the latter.

Oh, and there was an email that we're getting a new biology teacher. I hear he's old and makes atrocious puns. Haven't heard anything about Ferris, so we'll see.

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Chapter 12 of The Disasterville Chronicles
Written by HermitThrush
Deal
In retrospect, it sounds like a dumb joke. Two vampires and a gorgon walk up to a house... maybe I'm just sleep deprived still.

We had finally gotten to the center of the spell. I was almost surprised at how normal the house looked (well, except for the obvious magic aura). Two stories, white paint, a lawn; that night something so normal looked strange.

When we got there a question I should have thought of sooner popped into my head. "Wait, what are we going to do about the invitation?"

Mrs. Reiser put her hand to her chin. "I... forgot about that. I didn't think it would be inside someone's house."

I looked around. Sanguis was gone. Then I looked up at the house. He was already on the roof, and gestured for me to join him. What was he thinking? I groaned and looked for a way to get up there. There was a tree growing close to the house at the back. I ran toward it, but found myself diving behind a bush before I registered voices coming through the closest window. That's when I realized why Sanguis was up there; enhanced senses meant that we could do some recon without even entering the house.

"This wasn't what I agreed to," said one of the voices. It was oddly familiar, but I couldn't quite place it.

"I don't see what you mean. I fulfilled the terms of our contract to the letter. Just as with our previous contracts." I froze. That was definitely Mr. Daemon's voice. I guess I should have been surprised, but he creeped me out enough that I had assumed he was up to something or other. Hm, but if that was Mr. Daemon, who was he talking to?

"The letter, yes, but I didn't want you to turn half the city into monsters! I only asked you for some easy fights so that everyone in the city will love me!" Ferris Eaton. Of course. Still not surprised somehow.

"Well, these new monsters will be easy pickings. Most of them have no idea what they are. And once you stop them, you will again be hailed as the hero who keeps the city from chaos."

I could feel my fangs starting to tickle my tongue, but restrained myself. Instead, I slowly crept to the window to peek in. Ferris was glaring at Mr. Daemon, hands clenched. Mr. Daemon had the smile he usually reserved for giving people failing grades, except creepier. In the background I saw an intricate circular pattern on the floor. I ducked back down. That must have been the magic circle.

I slowly started heading back to Mrs. Reiser, but kept listening. Mr. Daemon replied slowly. "If you want you may destroy the circle and render your part of the bargain null. But I will expect payment either way. And need I remind you of the penalties for doing so?"

As creepy as it sounds, I could hear Ferris' heart beat faster. When he didn't say anything, I heard Mr. Daemon reply, "Then stay here and make sure the circle is safe. You will reap your benefits in the morning."

I didn't hear anything else before I got back to Mrs. Reiser, but it was enough. She greeted me with hands on her hips. "I didn't realize vampires were compelled to run off without warning."

"Hey, he did it first," I said, motioning to Sanguis. This time he had popped up behind Mrs. Reiser, and it was really hard not to laugh. She jumped and started moving her knife before backing up.

"Besides," I continued, "I saw where the magic circle is."

They both looked at me. "It's in the room next to that window on the side. There are two people there guarding it. I think the caster must have been the older one, Mr. Daemon."

Sanguis hissed. "You know that demon?"

I blinked. "Um... he's my biology teacher. Wait, he's an actual demon? That sounds bad."

Mrs. Reiser switched out knives. "You could say that."

Sanguis moved to grab her arm, but Mrs. Reiser jerked away. He instead held out his open hands and said, "I can't let you face a demon by yourself."

Mrs. Reiser was surprisingly adept at glaring through her mask. "I can handle myself. And since neither of you can get inside without being invited, I'm going to have to."

"That might not be true," I interrupted. They both looked at me again. "The other person goes to my school. And I don't really look like a vampire yet. Maybe I can get him to invite us in."

The kept staring, and Sanguis frowned. I shrugged. "Well even if it doesn't work it'll distract them, right?"

Finally they nodded. Mrs. Reiser went to wait by the window, and Sanguis disappeared. I assumed he was close to the door, but I couldn't tell where he was hiding. I took a deep breath, marched up the sidewalk, and rang the doorbell.

I could hear hushed tones, but knew I shouldn't. So I waited a few seconds, then rang the doorbell again. I kept ringing the doorbell incessantly until I heard steps coming to the front door. I backed up as Ferris opened it.

"What?" he snapped. Then he must have realized it was a fairly normal looking teenage girl. "Excuse me. But what are you doing here in the middle of the night?"

"Oh, you're Ferris! I didn't realize you lived here. Oh, I'm so sorry I bothered you but... but..." I choked back disgust, but made it seem like I was about to cry. I could see his face soften. "But everything is crazy out here and your house looks like it might be safe! Can I please come in?"

Ferris scuffed his foot against the ground. "I don't know, I don't think we've even met..."

I looked down. "I mean... we haven't. I'm just a freshman. And you're so cool and popular and I guess you wouldn't even notice someone like me so I hate to bother you but my friends and I have been going around for hours trying to find somewhere to hide and I'm so sorry but if we could just stay until morning..." I trailed off, just about ready to gag. That should have stroked his ego at least.

"Friends? What friends? I don't see anyone with you."

I was hoping he wouldn't notice so Sanguis would get invited without too much effort, but I figured that might happen. "We split up to try to cover more ground. But now I'm by myself and I'm worried about them, and... and..." I sniffled. That was about as close to crying as I could manage. Not sure why everyone is convinced girls can just cry on command whenever they want something. But it was enough.

"Hey, hey, hey, it's OK. Come in, and your friends can come in when they get here. There's a spare bedroom upstairs you can stay in until morning, all right?" He put his arm around my shoulder and ushered me across the threshold.

I had hoped Sanguis would have enough sense to wait until we were upstairs to make a move, but nooo. The second he got that invitation he barged in and tried to jump Ferris. He must have been surprised when Ferris landed a hit no problem. 

Luckily Ferris didn't make the connection between the two events. "Go, run! I'll hold him off!" I nodded and ran straight to the room I saw the circle in. "Wait, not that way, that's --" Ferris got cut off by Sanguis' counterattack. Those two should keep each other busy, at least.

When I got there Mr. Daemon was still camped right over the circle. I guess him running out to see what the commotion was would have been too easy. He looked at me and smiled. "Why, Sophia! Fancy seeing you here. Why are you out so late at night?"

Wait, if he's a demon, can he tell if I'm lying? I was careful about my words, but took on a decidedly hysterical tone. "People are turning into monsters and everything is getting torn apart and FERRIS IS FIGHTING A VAMPIRE! SHOULDN'T YOU HELP HIM?"

Mr. Daemon put his finger on my lips. "Now, now, that's an impressive act, but I saw you lurking outside the window earlier. Besides, I can tell that you've been... affected."

Crap. I got ready to run, but he didn't seem like he was going to attack. Maybe if I ran he would still follow though? I definitely needed to keep him talking; I could see Mrs. Reiser quietly working on the window.

I sucked in my breath. "I... I... I don't know what you're talking about."

"Don't lie, my dear, I can tell." Mr. Daemon's smile got wider. "But don't worry, I don't mean you any harm. In fact, I have a proposition for you."

"No," I blurted out. How stupid did he think I was?

My bluntness prompted laughter. "A no before you've even heard the terms? Ah, Sophia, you should really listen to your teacher. Really, it will only be to your benefit."

I kept staring at Mr. Daemon but saw Mrs. Reiser easing open the window. Keep him talking. "What kind of proposition?"

He paced forward slightly. "You're here because you've changed. Indirectly my doing, I'm afraid. I suppose that monster in the other room told you the only way to get your life back is to destroy that circle? Well that's not true."

Mrs. Reiser started squeezing through the window even as Mr. Daemon came closer. I paced backward, one hand feeling behind me.

Mr. Daemon continued. "I control the spell. If you want, I can lift your curse and you can be on your way. Just don't tell anyone what happened and you'll have a normal life. Or," and his eyes glowed faintly, "I can grant you power. Far more power than what you feel right now. All you would have to do is lend my your aid when I called."

By now I was backed against the wall and Mr. Daemon was uncomfortably close to my face. Mrs. Reiser dropped to the floor. The noise caught his attention, and he started turning.

"No," I repeated, and punched him in the face. Then I ducked and rolled toward the door. He lunged at me, but then Mrs. Reiser tackled him.

The two of them struggled, and I headed toward the circle. I scuffed my foot against it; chalk. I pulled out my water bottle and dumped the contents across the circle. The symbols blurred into random streaks. Suddenly everything seemed a lot darker, but I could also feel my heart beating.

Mr. Daemon loomed behind me. "I expected more from such a good student." He knocked me to the floor. Then Sanguis was in front of me while Mrs. Reiser lunged at Mr. Daemon from behind.

Mr. Daemon's eyes glowed red and hot, almost like fire, as he dodged out of the way. He snarled, then dove around the corner. I looked out just in time to see him disappearing with the unconscious Ferris. "I am still owed my price," echoed his voice in the empty hallway.

Mrs. Reiser took off her mask and tied back her hair. She took my arm firmly and started walking out the door with me. I was too tired to argue or care. I figured I would let her explain the outing to my parents.

"A word," interjected Sanguis. Mrs. Reiser stopped, but kept her knife out. 

"I apologize for my rash assumptions," said Sanguis. "I should not have been so ready to attack when you instead needed my help." He handed me a piece of paper. I looked at it and saw a phone number of all things. "Should that demon attempt to harm you for your role in this night, contact me and I will come to your aid." Then he vanished.

I programmed the number into my cell phone, ignoring Mrs. Reiser's look of shock. If there was even the slightest chance of retaliation, having a vampire's phone number was a good thing. Unless it happens during the day, in which case I'm screwed.

Anyway, Mrs. Reiser and I made our way back. We saw a lot of people wandering around, and the news the next day said something about a fire from a gas leak. I didn't hear that until later because I slept for about ten hours, grabbed something to eat, then slept until the next morning. My parents didn't bug me at all, so apparently they bought whatever Mrs. Reiser told them. That or they didn't want to talk about what happened. Given the oddly large feathers I found later it might have been the latter.

Oh, and there was an email that we're getting a new biology teacher. I hear he's old and makes atrocious puns. Haven't heard anything about Ferris, so we'll see.
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Plop
Written by HermitThrush

Rock in the water

Skipped stone

hits the water

watch it drop

never forward

saddest tone

just one

plop.

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Plop
Written by HermitThrush
Rock in the water
Skipped stone
hits the water
watch it drop
never forward
saddest tone
just one
plop.


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3
Juice
28 reads
Load 3 Comments
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Chapter 11 of The Disasterville Chronicles
Written by HermitThrush

Fangs Out

Mrs. Reiser got out the car, and we started following the pocket watch. One hand pointed to the center of the disturbance, the other pointed in the direction we needed to take. Mrs. Reiser is a MUCH better driver than her husband, so navigation was pretty easy.

I kept getting weirded out by not seeing my reflection in the mirrors. Finally I asked Mrs. Reiser, "Should I put on sunglasses or something?"

She raised an eyebrow. "Too light out for you?"

"It's more that I don't know how bad my eyes look." I drummed my fingers on the seat. "Selfies don't work, I checked."

"Probably not," she replied. "Most people would just think you're sick or tired. And it's just your eyes that look different."

Most people. That implied any monster hunter worth their salt would be suspicious immediately. Now I really wanted to know what my eyes looked like for future reference.

The pocket watch ticked loudly. "Um, why is it doing that?"

Mrs. Reiser pulled over. "That usually means trouble."

Then we heard the wingbeats. The ground shook as a dragon landed in the middle of the road and curled up. The pocket watch whirred, then both hands pointed in the same direction.

We stared at it, then looked at each other. Finally, Mrs. Reiser said, "Time to walk." I nodded and got out of the car, and we slipped into a side alley.

As we walked further, I noticed open doors, broken windows, and occasional screams. One came particularly close and I jumped.

Mrs. Reiser stopped. "What's going on? Did you hear something?"

"How could you not have -- oh, let me guess, vampires have enhanced hearing."

Mrs. Reiser nodded. "It makes them a real pain to hide from."

"Screams. I've been hearing screams." I looked at the ground as I kept walking. "Frankly, I'm surprised we haven't heard more."

"It's been a while since the spell started. Most unaffected people are probably hiding or a decent distance away." Mrs. Reiser pulled a knife out of her purse. "Plus, the spell would have made more monsters closer in."

"And what makes you think the people turned into monsters aren't the ones screaming? I know I feel like curling up into a ball and crying about now."

Mrs. Reiser hesitated, then put the knife back in her purse. "Either way we need to be careful."

I rolled my eyes. Oh gosh, we're heading straight toward the center of a spell that's turned people into monsters to face off against a presumably powerful spellcaster. I know, I'll be reckless! Not.

"And we need to go over your role in the plan."

"We have a plan? That's new," I snarked.

Mrs. Reiser gave me the mom look (even more impressive since it was through a mask), and I stopped talking. "When we get to the spell center, you're going to need to take care of the caster while I erase the spell circle. Once I do that, everyone should revert to normal." Under her breath I heard her whisper, "Including my family."

Partly to keep her from remembering my enhanced hearing, I protested, "Take care of? What am I supposed to do, fight them?"

She turned her head toward me. "You realize you're a vampire and it's night. Move in fast and even a powerful witch wouldn't be able to stop you from draining them."

"Are you seriously telling me to kill someone?" I stopped and crossed my arms. "You know, for someone who's dead set about staking vampires you're pretty bloodthirsty."

"I didn't mean it like that! Just come in from behind. If you can't knock them out keep drawing fire while I do my part. You'll be able to take almost anything they can dish out, and you've got all sorts of abilities yourself: strength, speed, suggestion..."

"And I have no idea how to do any of that. Besides, what if I get hurt? I mean, sure, maybe a vampire can take that, but the point is to revert us all to human form. Would I keep wounds I took in vampire mode?"

Mrs. Reiser clutched her forehead. "Look, we can come up with a more specific strategy once we get the lay of the land, but I'm going to have to destroy the circle which means we'll have to get the caster out of the way somehow."

"Whatever," I mumbled.

We came up on an area where a tree had fallen into the road. We were getting into the road when I got a prickling feeling on the back of my neck. I motioned for Mrs. Reiser to stop, then peered over the log. Parts of the ground were charred, and the buildings had pieces missing, but otherwise everything seemed fine. I shrugged, then help Mrs. Reiser over the log.

As we started walking into the courtyard, I felt something fast coming up behind me. I jumped out of the way and someone went flying past me. It was a pale man wearing black. He looked up, and the whites of his eyes were instead red. He hissed and lunged, and I scrambled out of the way again. This time, though, Mrs. Reiser caught him and slammed him to the ground.

I could feel my teeth suddenly pricking into my lips, and instinctively put my hand over my mouth. I knew, without question, that this guy was a vampire. The question, of course, was what he wanted.

I could hear Mrs. Reiser asking who his sire was, but it sounded distant. There was a pounding in my head. I moved my hands and clutched my temples, then took deep breaths. I focused on my breathing, and the pounding faded. My teeth retracted. I was able to focus on the conversation in front of me again.

"I can tell you didn't change tonight. You know what you're doing. So who. is. your. sire?" Mrs. Reiser held her knife over his heart.

"I killed him myself," hissed the vampire. Mrs. Reiser flinched, and the vampire broke loose, pacing several feet away. "Know this," he continued. "I stalk the night, but I have honor. My lawful prey is other vampires. I am Sanguis."

Of course he was. Wait, but if he considered himself a hero, maybe we could reason with him?

"Sanguis?" I asked. "Wait, I've heard of you. Aren't you supposed to be a hero?" I could tell Mrs. Reiser was glaring at me for proposing that particular idea. "So why did you try to attack us?"

"Your feigned innocence will not protect you, vampire. I will not let you go on to suck the blood of innocents." He paced closer. "Though I regret that someone so young would fall to the curse."

"Wait, wait, wait, I fell to a different curse. Didn't you notice the spell? Lots of people got turned into all sorts of monsters by it."

Sanguis stopped pacing, but kept staring at me. "Such lies will not save you from your doom."

"No, look," I said, holding up my hair. I turned my head left and right. "No bite. Plus you can just ask her, she got turned into a gorgon. And didn't you see the dragon flying around?"

"I did feel strong magical energies," he said, walking forward. "Is this true?"

Mrs. Reiser nodded. "We have a way to find the center of the spell, and if we destroy the spell circle everyone affected by it will return to normal."

Sanguis emitted a raspy chuckle. "And the two of you sought to do this by yourselves?" He shook his head. "Ah, the impetuosity of mortals. Very well, you will have my aid in this quest."

I sighed in relief.

"But know that if you do not return to human form, I will be duty bound to hunt you."

I grimaced. Well, if it came down to it I could always run for the hills. It might work. Maybe.

Mrs. Reiser kept her distance as Sanguis approached. I noticed she was keeping her knife out. I didn't feel like walking between them, so I hung back a bit.

I looked down at the watch to make sure we were going in the right direction. I felt my neck prickle again, and this time a vague outline to my left. I whirled and saw that Sanguis had somehow moved right next to me the moment I took my eyes off him.

"You have a strong sense of danger," he commented. "Most vampires take years to be able to sense threats so readily."

I moved to the right a bit. "Is that supposed to be a compliment?"

Sanguis remained silent for a moment, then asked, "Have you faced danger before?"

"All the time." Somehow I knew lying would be pointless. "I grew up in this city after all."

Sanguis nodded. "What we are going to do will be dangerous. Your instincts will serve you well. But mind you keep control," he warned. "I think you have felt what might happen if you let your new instincts take over."

I bit my tongue. I had already suspected I should avoid using any vampire abilities, and not just so I wouldn't get used to having them. 

Mrs. Reiser not-so-subtly came closer, and Sanguis moved forward again. We continued the journey in silence, only veering from a straight line if too much rubble blocked our path. Finally, the watch hands spun back to the normal time as we approached a house that was suspiciously untouched. I could barely see lights flickering through the windows, and something shimmered in a half-sphere around the house. All three of us stopped. We had found the base of operations.

Ow, hand cramp. Guess I'll have to write the rest later.

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Chapter 11 of The Disasterville Chronicles
Written by HermitThrush
Fangs Out
Mrs. Reiser got out the car, and we started following the pocket watch. One hand pointed to the center of the disturbance, the other pointed in the direction we needed to take. Mrs. Reiser is a MUCH better driver than her husband, so navigation was pretty easy.

I kept getting weirded out by not seeing my reflection in the mirrors. Finally I asked Mrs. Reiser, "Should I put on sunglasses or something?"

She raised an eyebrow. "Too light out for you?"

"It's more that I don't know how bad my eyes look." I drummed my fingers on the seat. "Selfies don't work, I checked."

"Probably not," she replied. "Most people would just think you're sick or tired. And it's just your eyes that look different."

Most people. That implied any monster hunter worth their salt would be suspicious immediately. Now I really wanted to know what my eyes looked like for future reference.

The pocket watch ticked loudly. "Um, why is it doing that?"

Mrs. Reiser pulled over. "That usually means trouble."

Then we heard the wingbeats. The ground shook as a dragon landed in the middle of the road and curled up. The pocket watch whirred, then both hands pointed in the same direction.

We stared at it, then looked at each other. Finally, Mrs. Reiser said, "Time to walk." I nodded and got out of the car, and we slipped into a side alley.

As we walked further, I noticed open doors, broken windows, and occasional screams. One came particularly close and I jumped.

Mrs. Reiser stopped. "What's going on? Did you hear something?"

"How could you not have -- oh, let me guess, vampires have enhanced hearing."

Mrs. Reiser nodded. "It makes them a real pain to hide from."

"Screams. I've been hearing screams." I looked at the ground as I kept walking. "Frankly, I'm surprised we haven't heard more."

"It's been a while since the spell started. Most unaffected people are probably hiding or a decent distance away." Mrs. Reiser pulled a knife out of her purse. "Plus, the spell would have made more monsters closer in."

"And what makes you think the people turned into monsters aren't the ones screaming? I know I feel like curling up into a ball and crying about now."

Mrs. Reiser hesitated, then put the knife back in her purse. "Either way we need to be careful."

I rolled my eyes. Oh gosh, we're heading straight toward the center of a spell that's turned people into monsters to face off against a presumably powerful spellcaster. I know, I'll be reckless! Not.

"And we need to go over your role in the plan."

"We have a plan? That's new," I snarked.

Mrs. Reiser gave me the mom look (even more impressive since it was through a mask), and I stopped talking. "When we get to the spell center, you're going to need to take care of the caster while I erase the spell circle. Once I do that, everyone should revert to normal." Under her breath I heard her whisper, "Including my family."

Partly to keep her from remembering my enhanced hearing, I protested, "Take care of? What am I supposed to do, fight them?"

She turned her head toward me. "You realize you're a vampire and it's night. Move in fast and even a powerful witch wouldn't be able to stop you from draining them."

"Are you seriously telling me to kill someone?" I stopped and crossed my arms. "You know, for someone who's dead set about staking vampires you're pretty bloodthirsty."

"I didn't mean it like that! Just come in from behind. If you can't knock them out keep drawing fire while I do my part. You'll be able to take almost anything they can dish out, and you've got all sorts of abilities yourself: strength, speed, suggestion..."

"And I have no idea how to do any of that. Besides, what if I get hurt? I mean, sure, maybe a vampire can take that, but the point is to revert us all to human form. Would I keep wounds I took in vampire mode?"

Mrs. Reiser clutched her forehead. "Look, we can come up with a more specific strategy once we get the lay of the land, but I'm going to have to destroy the circle which means we'll have to get the caster out of the way somehow."

"Whatever," I mumbled.

We came up on an area where a tree had fallen into the road. We were getting into the road when I got a prickling feeling on the back of my neck. I motioned for Mrs. Reiser to stop, then peered over the log. Parts of the ground were charred, and the buildings had pieces missing, but otherwise everything seemed fine. I shrugged, then help Mrs. Reiser over the log.

As we started walking into the courtyard, I felt something fast coming up behind me. I jumped out of the way and someone went flying past me. It was a pale man wearing black. He looked up, and the whites of his eyes were instead red. He hissed and lunged, and I scrambled out of the way again. This time, though, Mrs. Reiser caught him and slammed him to the ground.

I could feel my teeth suddenly pricking into my lips, and instinctively put my hand over my mouth. I knew, without question, that this guy was a vampire. The question, of course, was what he wanted.

I could hear Mrs. Reiser asking who his sire was, but it sounded distant. There was a pounding in my head. I moved my hands and clutched my temples, then took deep breaths. I focused on my breathing, and the pounding faded. My teeth retracted. I was able to focus on the conversation in front of me again.

"I can tell you didn't change tonight. You know what you're doing. So who. is. your. sire?" Mrs. Reiser held her knife over his heart.

"I killed him myself," hissed the vampire. Mrs. Reiser flinched, and the vampire broke loose, pacing several feet away. "Know this," he continued. "I stalk the night, but I have honor. My lawful prey is other vampires. I am Sanguis."

Of course he was. Wait, but if he considered himself a hero, maybe we could reason with him?

"Sanguis?" I asked. "Wait, I've heard of you. Aren't you supposed to be a hero?" I could tell Mrs. Reiser was glaring at me for proposing that particular idea. "So why did you try to attack us?"

"Your feigned innocence will not protect you, vampire. I will not let you go on to suck the blood of innocents." He paced closer. "Though I regret that someone so young would fall to the curse."

"Wait, wait, wait, I fell to a different curse. Didn't you notice the spell? Lots of people got turned into all sorts of monsters by it."

Sanguis stopped pacing, but kept staring at me. "Such lies will not save you from your doom."

"No, look," I said, holding up my hair. I turned my head left and right. "No bite. Plus you can just ask her, she got turned into a gorgon. And didn't you see the dragon flying around?"

"I did feel strong magical energies," he said, walking forward. "Is this true?"

Mrs. Reiser nodded. "We have a way to find the center of the spell, and if we destroy the spell circle everyone affected by it will return to normal."

Sanguis emitted a raspy chuckle. "And the two of you sought to do this by yourselves?" He shook his head. "Ah, the impetuosity of mortals. Very well, you will have my aid in this quest."

I sighed in relief.

"But know that if you do not return to human form, I will be duty bound to hunt you."

I grimaced. Well, if it came down to it I could always run for the hills. It might work. Maybe.

Mrs. Reiser kept her distance as Sanguis approached. I noticed she was keeping her knife out. I didn't feel like walking between them, so I hung back a bit.

I looked down at the watch to make sure we were going in the right direction. I felt my neck prickle again, and this time a vague outline to my left. I whirled and saw that Sanguis had somehow moved right next to me the moment I took my eyes off him.

"You have a strong sense of danger," he commented. "Most vampires take years to be able to sense threats so readily."

I moved to the right a bit. "Is that supposed to be a compliment?"

Sanguis remained silent for a moment, then asked, "Have you faced danger before?"

"All the time." Somehow I knew lying would be pointless. "I grew up in this city after all."

Sanguis nodded. "What we are going to do will be dangerous. Your instincts will serve you well. But mind you keep control," he warned. "I think you have felt what might happen if you let your new instincts take over."

I bit my tongue. I had already suspected I should avoid using any vampire abilities, and not just so I wouldn't get used to having them. 

Mrs. Reiser not-so-subtly came closer, and Sanguis moved forward again. We continued the journey in silence, only veering from a straight line if too much rubble blocked our path. Finally, the watch hands spun back to the normal time as we approached a house that was suspiciously untouched. I could barely see lights flickering through the windows, and something shimmered in a half-sphere around the house. All three of us stopped. We had found the base of operations.

Ow, hand cramp. Guess I'll have to write the rest later.
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Chapter 10 of The Disasterville Chronicles
Written by HermitThrush

Monster Night

Well, I survived the night. Is survived the right word? Well, I guess I should pick up where I left off.

So. No reflection. The most obvious answer to that is I had become a vampire, but I had no idea how that could have happened. I didn't get bitten, and that was the only way to turn that I'd heard of. I felt around in my mouth. I didn't think I had fangs, but I'd seen movies where fangs are retractable, so there was still a chance. Then I thought to check my pulse. Nothing. Definitely undead, then, though how I pulled that off without dying... Focus. Next I tried taking a selfie with a digital camera. Didn't show up on that either. Great, no way to tell if there are any visible changes.

I took a deep breath. At least I could still do that somehow. I considered my options. Monster hunters would be the most likely to know what happened, but also the most likely to peg me as a vampire and stake me no questions asked. What I needed was someone who might be able to figure out what was happening but would trust me enough to hear me out. Then I remembered the rumors about Sanguis, a vampire superhero. Most people dismiss the possibility because there aren't any pictures of him. Yeah, they never seem to get to four on that one. He had been spotted with the Fire Twins once; maybe I could go to Iggy and Sol for help.

I snuck down the stairs and out the door. Given how badly my parents reacted to the candy golem last year, I probably shouldn't drag them into whatever was going on this time. 

The sun had already set and it must have been getting chilly, but I didn't feel anything. I looked around and noticed I could see much more clearly than I should, especially the bright colors of the leaves still clinging to the branches. I got so caught up in my night vision, in fact, that I rammed into someone else on the sidewalk without thinking.

"Excuse me, sorry," I muttered as I got up. 

"And where are you going so late?" asked Mr. Reiser.

Crap. Azlyn's dad. I needed to think of a good excuse. Well, her house was in the same direction... "Oh hi, Mr. Reiser. I'm missing a notebook for history class and I thought I might have left it at your house. Have you seen it? It's green. I probably would have left it in Azlyn's room though."

Mr. Reiser narrowed his eyes, but otherwise his face showed concern. "Sophia, your eyes are red! Are you feeling well?"

Crap, crap, crap. "Are they that bad? I was coughing a bit earlier, but I didn't think they'd be bloodshot."

"See for yourself." Mr. Reiser pulled a mirror out of his pocket. We both clearly saw his reflection and the empty space where I should have been. Next second I was pinned to the ground.

"You better tell me who sired you," he growled. "Don't think I'll go easy because I know you."

"I don't have one," I protested. Eff it, he had shown no signs of being a monster hunter: no odd hours, no random weapons lying around, no salt stockpiles. He twisted my arm, which hurt a surprising amount. "Ow! I'm serious! I have no idea what's going on! Check my neck if you don't believe me!"

I felt my hair being pushed out of the way, then his grip on my arm loosened. "Hm... odd." It tightened again. "But I still can't trust you. You're coming with me until I figure out what you are."

"OK," I agreed. I stumbled to my feet as he dragged me by my arm. He entered the front door, but I smacked head first into an invisible wall so hard that I fell out of his grasp. "Ow ow ow ow ow. I take it the invited in thing is true then?"

"Stay. Here. Or I will stake you before you can blink." Mr. Reiser retreated into the house, and I heard him calling for his wife. Azlyn's little brother Fred peeked around the corner and I gave him a wave. He ducked around the corner. Guess he wasn't out of his shy phase, or maybe I just looked that scary.

Then I heard a scream from upstairs. I leaned to the side of the door, trying to see what was going on.

Mrs. Reiser came barreling down the stairs, face shielded. I heard a hissing noise, then realized her hair had been replaced by snakes. Fred looked back out, eyes wide, and instantly turned to stone. I emitted a chocked gargle that was my best attempt at a scream.

That caught her attention. She stared at me hard, then slammed me to the ground. "You better tell me who sired you," she growled, and her snakes hissed in emphasis.

I was starting to get fed up, so I replied. "No sire. I just spontaneously turned into this. You'd think you'd know something odd is going on since YOU'RE A FREAKING GORGON!"

Her grip loosened, but she still checked my neck. Finally she let me go. "You're right. Come in; we need to head to the basement."

I tentatively held my hand up to the open door, and it fell through air. I stepped in and followed her down. I hadn't been to the basement before; given what I'd just seen, this should be interesting.

Except it didn't seem to be anything other than a normal basement: bare bulb, concrete floor, dusty shelves. Mrs. Reiser went to the back corner and pulled out two boxes. One was marked "Fine china set," the other was marked "Calculus textbooks."

As she bent to open them, I blurted out, "Hunting supplies?"

Mrs. Reiser looked up and glared at me. "You know, for someone who just happened to get turned into a vampire, you seem to know an awful lot about this."

"Are we really pretending that this sort of thing doesn't happen tonight of all nights? Or are you really that oblivious to what goes on in this city? I grew up here; do you really think I'd survive if I had no clue?" I knew I was lashing out for no good reason, but I was not in the mood to play dumb tonight.

Mrs. Reiser frowned as she began unpacking the boxes. "I had hoped we adults were better at shielding our children from this sort of thing."

I bit my lip to prevent another outburst. Really? Was that why no one talked about the mutant elephant in the room? They thought they were protecting us? How patronizing.

She continued. "Well, if you know and aren't in denial it shouldn't come as a shock that my husband and I used to hunt monsters. We retired when we started a family, though. So we packed up our things in the boxes no one would open just in case the need arose."

She pulled out an old, leatherbound book that quite clearly was not about calculus, then handed it to me. "Since you're so smart, why don't you look through this to see if you can find anything pertinent?"

I nodded and opened it. It appeared to be a guide to magic spells and curses, with notes on how to counter them. Before I started skimming, I looked up. "What are you going to do?"

Mrs. Reiser smiled grimly as she pulled out a flask of blue liquid. "I need a way to stop turning people to stone, at least temporarily, before I can leave this basement."

I blinked. "Wait, why haven't I turned to stone?"

Mrs. Reiser's snakes hissed. "Gorgons only turn the living to stone," she stated. "How do you think I knew you were a vampire so quickly?"

I turned back to the book, ignoring the clanks and odd smells from her side of the room. As I thumbed through the pages, the words "Night of Monsters" caught my eye. I focused in. The passage discussed a night in the eighteenth century where half the population of a town in Russia had spontaneously turned into monsters. Hunters had tracked the source to a witch at the edge of town. Apparently they had disrupted the spell by erasing a circle used to cast it, and everything went back to normal. It didn't say why anyone would want to turn random people into monsters, though, but it was a start.

"I found something," I called out to Mrs. Reiser. I flinched when I saw the wooden mask she was wearing. "I take it that's your solution?"

"It will hold until morning. But if we can't stop this..." her voice trailed off. "Let me read the book." She did, then nodded. "Of course. I remember hearing about this. But a curse on this scale? It would take someone powerful. That might make it easier to track, at least." She pulled out what looked like an antique pocket watch. "This can lead us to whoever is casting the spell. It's attracted to the center of the strongest magical effect in the area."

"But someone like that will be hard to beat on your own," I objected. "Shouldn't you have a plan?"

I could feel Mrs. Reiser grin through her mask and I suddenly felt cold. "That's why you're coming along."

I suddenly realized it was going to be a long night.

[Editor's note: I chose to break up this entry into multiple parts. The story continues in the next chapter.]

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Chapter 10 of The Disasterville Chronicles
Written by HermitThrush
Monster Night
Well, I survived the night. Is survived the right word? Well, I guess I should pick up where I left off.

So. No reflection. The most obvious answer to that is I had become a vampire, but I had no idea how that could have happened. I didn't get bitten, and that was the only way to turn that I'd heard of. I felt around in my mouth. I didn't think I had fangs, but I'd seen movies where fangs are retractable, so there was still a chance. Then I thought to check my pulse. Nothing. Definitely undead, then, though how I pulled that off without dying... Focus. Next I tried taking a selfie with a digital camera. Didn't show up on that either. Great, no way to tell if there are any visible changes.

I took a deep breath. At least I could still do that somehow. I considered my options. Monster hunters would be the most likely to know what happened, but also the most likely to peg me as a vampire and stake me no questions asked. What I needed was someone who might be able to figure out what was happening but would trust me enough to hear me out. Then I remembered the rumors about Sanguis, a vampire superhero. Most people dismiss the possibility because there aren't any pictures of him. Yeah, they never seem to get to four on that one. He had been spotted with the Fire Twins once; maybe I could go to Iggy and Sol for help.

I snuck down the stairs and out the door. Given how badly my parents reacted to the candy golem last year, I probably shouldn't drag them into whatever was going on this time. 

The sun had already set and it must have been getting chilly, but I didn't feel anything. I looked around and noticed I could see much more clearly than I should, especially the bright colors of the leaves still clinging to the branches. I got so caught up in my night vision, in fact, that I rammed into someone else on the sidewalk without thinking.

"Excuse me, sorry," I muttered as I got up. 

"And where are you going so late?" asked Mr. Reiser.

Crap. Azlyn's dad. I needed to think of a good excuse. Well, her house was in the same direction... "Oh hi, Mr. Reiser. I'm missing a notebook for history class and I thought I might have left it at your house. Have you seen it? It's green. I probably would have left it in Azlyn's room though."

Mr. Reiser narrowed his eyes, but otherwise his face showed concern. "Sophia, your eyes are red! Are you feeling well?"

Crap, crap, crap. "Are they that bad? I was coughing a bit earlier, but I didn't think they'd be bloodshot."

"See for yourself." Mr. Reiser pulled a mirror out of his pocket. We both clearly saw his reflection and the empty space where I should have been. Next second I was pinned to the ground.

"You better tell me who sired you," he growled. "Don't think I'll go easy because I know you."

"I don't have one," I protested. Eff it, he had shown no signs of being a monster hunter: no odd hours, no random weapons lying around, no salt stockpiles. He twisted my arm, which hurt a surprising amount. "Ow! I'm serious! I have no idea what's going on! Check my neck if you don't believe me!"

I felt my hair being pushed out of the way, then his grip on my arm loosened. "Hm... odd." It tightened again. "But I still can't trust you. You're coming with me until I figure out what you are."

"OK," I agreed. I stumbled to my feet as he dragged me by my arm. He entered the front door, but I smacked head first into an invisible wall so hard that I fell out of his grasp. "Ow ow ow ow ow. I take it the invited in thing is true then?"

"Stay. Here. Or I will stake you before you can blink." Mr. Reiser retreated into the house, and I heard him calling for his wife. Azlyn's little brother Fred peeked around the corner and I gave him a wave. He ducked around the corner. Guess he wasn't out of his shy phase, or maybe I just looked that scary.

Then I heard a scream from upstairs. I leaned to the side of the door, trying to see what was going on.

Mrs. Reiser came barreling down the stairs, face shielded. I heard a hissing noise, then realized her hair had been replaced by snakes. Fred looked back out, eyes wide, and instantly turned to stone. I emitted a chocked gargle that was my best attempt at a scream.

That caught her attention. She stared at me hard, then slammed me to the ground. "You better tell me who sired you," she growled, and her snakes hissed in emphasis.

I was starting to get fed up, so I replied. "No sire. I just spontaneously turned into this. You'd think you'd know something odd is going on since YOU'RE A FREAKING GORGON!"

Her grip loosened, but she still checked my neck. Finally she let me go. "You're right. Come in; we need to head to the basement."

I tentatively held my hand up to the open door, and it fell through air. I stepped in and followed her down. I hadn't been to the basement before; given what I'd just seen, this should be interesting.

Except it didn't seem to be anything other than a normal basement: bare bulb, concrete floor, dusty shelves. Mrs. Reiser went to the back corner and pulled out two boxes. One was marked "Fine china set," the other was marked "Calculus textbooks."

As she bent to open them, I blurted out, "Hunting supplies?"

Mrs. Reiser looked up and glared at me. "You know, for someone who just happened to get turned into a vampire, you seem to know an awful lot about this."

"Are we really pretending that this sort of thing doesn't happen tonight of all nights? Or are you really that oblivious to what goes on in this city? I grew up here; do you really think I'd survive if I had no clue?" I knew I was lashing out for no good reason, but I was not in the mood to play dumb tonight.

Mrs. Reiser frowned as she began unpacking the boxes. "I had hoped we adults were better at shielding our children from this sort of thing."

I bit my lip to prevent another outburst. Really? Was that why no one talked about the mutant elephant in the room? They thought they were protecting us? How patronizing.

She continued. "Well, if you know and aren't in denial it shouldn't come as a shock that my husband and I used to hunt monsters. We retired when we started a family, though. So we packed up our things in the boxes no one would open just in case the need arose."

She pulled out an old, leatherbound book that quite clearly was not about calculus, then handed it to me. "Since you're so smart, why don't you look through this to see if you can find anything pertinent?"

I nodded and opened it. It appeared to be a guide to magic spells and curses, with notes on how to counter them. Before I started skimming, I looked up. "What are you going to do?"

Mrs. Reiser smiled grimly as she pulled out a flask of blue liquid. "I need a way to stop turning people to stone, at least temporarily, before I can leave this basement."

I blinked. "Wait, why haven't I turned to stone?"

Mrs. Reiser's snakes hissed. "Gorgons only turn the living to stone," she stated. "How do you think I knew you were a vampire so quickly?"

I turned back to the book, ignoring the clanks and odd smells from her side of the room. As I thumbed through the pages, the words "Night of Monsters" caught my eye. I focused in. The passage discussed a night in the eighteenth century where half the population of a town in Russia had spontaneously turned into monsters. Hunters had tracked the source to a witch at the edge of town. Apparently they had disrupted the spell by erasing a circle used to cast it, and everything went back to normal. It didn't say why anyone would want to turn random people into monsters, though, but it was a start.

"I found something," I called out to Mrs. Reiser. I flinched when I saw the wooden mask she was wearing. "I take it that's your solution?"

"It will hold until morning. But if we can't stop this..." her voice trailed off. "Let me read the book." She did, then nodded. "Of course. I remember hearing about this. But a curse on this scale? It would take someone powerful. That might make it easier to track, at least." She pulled out what looked like an antique pocket watch. "This can lead us to whoever is casting the spell. It's attracted to the center of the strongest magical effect in the area."

"But someone like that will be hard to beat on your own," I objected. "Shouldn't you have a plan?"

I could feel Mrs. Reiser grin through her mask and I suddenly felt cold. "That's why you're coming along."

I suddenly realized it was going to be a long night.

[Editor's note: I chose to break up this entry into multiple parts. The story continues in the next chapter.]
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Chapter 9 of The Disasterville Chronicles
Written by HermitThrush

October Dreaming

We finally got to see the movie -- just not at the theater. What with everything that had happened, it was on DVD so we rented it. Azlyn invited me, Jack, Wisteria, Iggy, and Sol over. Wisteria couldn't make it, something about a job. Jack was quiet, but he said he would host the next movie night so I think he had fun. I know everyone else did. Azlyn made some spinach and artichoke dip that was delicious; I'll have to remind her to email everyone the recipe like she promised.

I got my first hint of weekly weirdness early. As I was walking in I overheard a group of people talking about all having dreams where they ended up naked in class. Later that afternoon, guess what the whole school was talking about? Then there was the guy who fell out of thin air -- thankfully a flying super was around to catch him. Not to mention the news anchor who freaked out when a bunch of ferrets in naval uniforms showed up to try to kidnap her. So yeah, didn't take too much effort to figure out something was making people's nightmares come to life. Without more information than that, I mostly tried to avoid anyone I knew was part of the magic community -- more so than usual I mean.

Then there was the news article about people not waking up in the morning. The doctors who were interviewed wouldn't comment beyond "cause unknown." That's code for "It's magic or really wonky technology and I have no clue." That's when I started checking the tabloids, but since that ranged from alien invasion to ancient curse, it didn't narrow it down much. The victims didn't have any obvious connection either; not even the conspiracy sites could come up with anything. So basically there was no obvious way to avoid it. I found myself cranking up the volume on my alarm clock even though I knew it wouldn't help anything.

As if that weren't enough to worry about, apparently a serial killer is on the loose. On the plus side, it seems like a mundane killer so it shouldn't take too long to catch him. On the downside he's targeting teenage girls. As a result my parents are (finally) buying an upgrade to our security system and won't let me go anywhere unless I'm with someone else. I can't wait for this sicko to get caught for so many reasons.

And then last night was the nightmare night. As soon as the dream started, I could feel something was different. Normally during dreams I can't think straight and everything was hazy, but everything was so clear it felt sharp. My first thought was "Oh crap, I just got caught up in the nightmare thing."

I tried to will myself awake, but that didn't work. So I decided to try to find a way inside the dream to wake up. I looked around; it was dark and wet. The tunnels? No, this looked different, more like a cave. There were flickering lights and chanting. I sucked in my breath and walked toward it.

There was a room lit by candlelight, with one person in the middle wearing a black cloak with the hood up. They didn't see me. As they chanted, their voice echoed in an unrecognizable language. Then I heard echoes of other voices, and the smoke from the candles formed into vaguely humanoid shapes. The chanting got louder as more figures formed, and soon the room was full. Then they all turned to look at me.

I would have run away, but what with it being a dream I suddenly lost the ability to move. Then, in unison, they said, "The eternity has ended, and Entropus is freed from the plain vessel. Without a vessel, all will burn." Then they started chanting, "Burn, burn, burn, burn!" It soon devolved into screechy gleeful laughter.

My legs started working again, so I ran away. In fact, I ran right into the gaping abyss that had somehow opened behind me without warning. I hit the ground and felt cold, dry rock beneath my hands. It was completely dark. I couldn't see or hear anything. Then there was a spark. It grew until it had illuminated the length of a sword. For a minute the sword glowed red, then I could see metal shatter. The fire spread through the room, and then I found myself floating above the city. The fire just kept spreading, and everything was burning.

I was frozen from shock and panic. Was this going to happen? Or was I just going to be stuck in this nightmare forever while doctors tested for some virus they would never find? Then Azlyn showed up next to me, and the two of us were in the middle of a garden.

"Um... I know this is a dream and all, but where exactly did you come from?"

She grinned. "Oh, you can tell when you're dreaming? Interesting, most people can't."

I looked at her, and something clicked. She was here. I was as sure of that as I was that I was still asleep. Something in my brain clicked. When I had figured out her sleepwalking activities I had assumed that was the extent of it, but she must have dream related powers as well. And if she was distracted with dream hopping all night, no way she would figure out what she did while sleepwalking. I kicked myself for missing it.

Since I didn't say any of this out loud, she kept talking. "I doubt you'll remember any of this in the morning anyway, so would you like to know what's going on?"

I nodded eagerly.

"Yeah, you always were curious. And to be honest I've wanted to tell you but didn't know how. Maybe sometime in the waking world I will for real, but this will do for now. Well... I was born with the ability to enter other people's dreams. There aren't many of us, but we can meet in dreamworlds like this one." She took a sip of tea from a mug that wasn't there a second ago. "This one is purely for personal use, but dreamwalkers can share them."

I took a second mug of tea she held out to me. It tasted like tea, but wasn't hot enough to burn my tongue.

"I took you here because a particularly unscrupulous dreamwalker has been turning people's dreams into nightmare worlds." Thunder crashed, and I rolled my eyes at Azlyn. 

She laughed. "Oh, come on, I've always wanted to do that." I groaned but kept listening. She continued her explanation. "Dreamwalkers can influence people's dreams, shape them into worlds. And dreams... dreams can be powerful. Usually they reflect the past and the self, but sometimes they can be tied to the future. And when a dreamwalker starts messing around, bad stuff can happen."

"Bad stuff? Can you be more specific?" I put my empty mug on a tray hovering at my elbow, and both vanished.

"You know... like dreams turning real or people getting trapped. Yet inevitably, some dreamwalker just has to try something and the rest of us have to clean up the mess. This one was convinced something bad was going to happen, so he's been manipulating dreams of people he says will be involved to try to figure out what it will be." She rolled her eyes. "I mean yeah, theoretically it's possible, but with all the effects it's having? Let's just say the rest of us made sure he stopped. Now we're going back to break people out of the nightmare worlds he set up."

I sighed. "Oh good."

Azlyn fidgeted. "Um... it's not going to be easy. When I realized you were one of the people affected I made sure to be the one to help you. I figured you might want someone you trust or maybe like?"

"Of course I... wait. You weren't just using this as an excuse to see what I dream about, were you?" Azlyn scratched her nose and looked to the side. I knew it. "Well, I guess I know you pretty well. Let me guess, you thought I might be dreaming about someone I have a crush on? Or maybe some absurd fear you could tease me about?"

Azlyn shrugged. "Can't blame a girl for trying. You never tell me who you think is cute. Have to admit, the city in flames is more intense than I expected." Her face turned dead serious. "But I wasn't making up the part about it not being easy."

I groaned. "Oh, this is going to be good."

"Usually you have to face your fear somehow to break out. That would weaken it enough for me to do the rest. Your dream felt different though. Almost like it was tied to the real world."

"You don't mean it's going to come true? Like the kids at school?"

"More like it could happen, or parts of it did happen but you didn't know about it. Like I said, dreams can have connections to reality, and this guy was trying to see the future..."

I narrowed my eyes. "You haven't said who this rogue dreamwalker is. Anyone I know?"

Azlyn shook her head. "Nah, he's actually from Switzerland. I'm the only dreamwalker in the state. Physical location doesn't mean much here."

"OK. So what do I have to do to break out?"

"First we'll have to go back. After that? We'll see. Are you ready?"

I curled my fingers into fists and clenched my teeth. "Ready."

And just like that, we were back in the dream; specifically, in the caverns. Only this time there wasn't any fire or chanting. Even though it was dark, I could still somehow see the sword. I looked at Azlyn but she just shrugged, so I walked toward the sword.

The sword was on a pedestal carved from the stone. I picked it up. It seemed like a normal sword. Although, on closer inspection, some of the light it seemed to reflect actually came from inside it. I set it back in its place, then inspected the pedestal. Carved on the front were the words "Ordo Caeruleus."

Suddenly everything started fading. I instinctively grabbed Azlyn. "What's going on?"

It was dark, but I could hear her. "The nightmare world is breaking up on its own. You should --"

I woke up, then scribbled down a short version so I wouldn't forget. I really hope that it doesn't mean I'm going to get caught up in something big. For now I'm just pretending I don't remember any of it in front of Azlyn.

And to top off the week, I realized we're getting awfully close to Halloween. I'm considering just playing sick for a while, but I'm not sure how much that will help. All the rules go out the window on Halloween. Even the most low-risk person in the city can suddenly find themselves staring down zombies. Last Halloween my parents and I had to fight off a monster made of Halloween candy that fell apart at dawn. They refuse to admit anything odd happened, but I noticed they're handing out raisins this year. Basically normals are even more likely to run into stuff, but are less equipped to deal with it. Maybe I can convince Sol and Iggy to host a party so they'll be around to cover me.

Oh, crap, it's starting already. I just realized I can't see me reflection. Um... I'll finish this later.

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Chapter 9 of The Disasterville Chronicles
Written by HermitThrush
October Dreaming
We finally got to see the movie -- just not at the theater. What with everything that had happened, it was on DVD so we rented it. Azlyn invited me, Jack, Wisteria, Iggy, and Sol over. Wisteria couldn't make it, something about a job. Jack was quiet, but he said he would host the next movie night so I think he had fun. I know everyone else did. Azlyn made some spinach and artichoke dip that was delicious; I'll have to remind her to email everyone the recipe like she promised.

I got my first hint of weekly weirdness early. As I was walking in I overheard a group of people talking about all having dreams where they ended up naked in class. Later that afternoon, guess what the whole school was talking about? Then there was the guy who fell out of thin air -- thankfully a flying super was around to catch him. Not to mention the news anchor who freaked out when a bunch of ferrets in naval uniforms showed up to try to kidnap her. So yeah, didn't take too much effort to figure out something was making people's nightmares come to life. Without more information than that, I mostly tried to avoid anyone I knew was part of the magic community -- more so than usual I mean.

Then there was the news article about people not waking up in the morning. The doctors who were interviewed wouldn't comment beyond "cause unknown." That's code for "It's magic or really wonky technology and I have no clue." That's when I started checking the tabloids, but since that ranged from alien invasion to ancient curse, it didn't narrow it down much. The victims didn't have any obvious connection either; not even the conspiracy sites could come up with anything. So basically there was no obvious way to avoid it. I found myself cranking up the volume on my alarm clock even though I knew it wouldn't help anything.

As if that weren't enough to worry about, apparently a serial killer is on the loose. On the plus side, it seems like a mundane killer so it shouldn't take too long to catch him. On the downside he's targeting teenage girls. As a result my parents are (finally) buying an upgrade to our security system and won't let me go anywhere unless I'm with someone else. I can't wait for this sicko to get caught for so many reasons.

And then last night was the nightmare night. As soon as the dream started, I could feel something was different. Normally during dreams I can't think straight and everything was hazy, but everything was so clear it felt sharp. My first thought was "Oh crap, I just got caught up in the nightmare thing."

I tried to will myself awake, but that didn't work. So I decided to try to find a way inside the dream to wake up. I looked around; it was dark and wet. The tunnels? No, this looked different, more like a cave. There were flickering lights and chanting. I sucked in my breath and walked toward it.

There was a room lit by candlelight, with one person in the middle wearing a black cloak with the hood up. They didn't see me. As they chanted, their voice echoed in an unrecognizable language. Then I heard echoes of other voices, and the smoke from the candles formed into vaguely humanoid shapes. The chanting got louder as more figures formed, and soon the room was full. Then they all turned to look at me.

I would have run away, but what with it being a dream I suddenly lost the ability to move. Then, in unison, they said, "The eternity has ended, and Entropus is freed from the plain vessel. Without a vessel, all will burn." Then they started chanting, "Burn, burn, burn, burn!" It soon devolved into screechy gleeful laughter.

My legs started working again, so I ran away. In fact, I ran right into the gaping abyss that had somehow opened behind me without warning. I hit the ground and felt cold, dry rock beneath my hands. It was completely dark. I couldn't see or hear anything. Then there was a spark. It grew until it had illuminated the length of a sword. For a minute the sword glowed red, then I could see metal shatter. The fire spread through the room, and then I found myself floating above the city. The fire just kept spreading, and everything was burning.

I was frozen from shock and panic. Was this going to happen? Or was I just going to be stuck in this nightmare forever while doctors tested for some virus they would never find? Then Azlyn showed up next to me, and the two of us were in the middle of a garden.

"Um... I know this is a dream and all, but where exactly did you come from?"

She grinned. "Oh, you can tell when you're dreaming? Interesting, most people can't."

I looked at her, and something clicked. She was here. I was as sure of that as I was that I was still asleep. Something in my brain clicked. When I had figured out her sleepwalking activities I had assumed that was the extent of it, but she must have dream related powers as well. And if she was distracted with dream hopping all night, no way she would figure out what she did while sleepwalking. I kicked myself for missing it.

Since I didn't say any of this out loud, she kept talking. "I doubt you'll remember any of this in the morning anyway, so would you like to know what's going on?"

I nodded eagerly.

"Yeah, you always were curious. And to be honest I've wanted to tell you but didn't know how. Maybe sometime in the waking world I will for real, but this will do for now. Well... I was born with the ability to enter other people's dreams. There aren't many of us, but we can meet in dreamworlds like this one." She took a sip of tea from a mug that wasn't there a second ago. "This one is purely for personal use, but dreamwalkers can share them."

I took a second mug of tea she held out to me. It tasted like tea, but wasn't hot enough to burn my tongue.

"I took you here because a particularly unscrupulous dreamwalker has been turning people's dreams into nightmare worlds." Thunder crashed, and I rolled my eyes at Azlyn. 
She laughed. "Oh, come on, I've always wanted to do that." I groaned but kept listening. She continued her explanation. "Dreamwalkers can influence people's dreams, shape them into worlds. And dreams... dreams can be powerful. Usually they reflect the past and the self, but sometimes they can be tied to the future. And when a dreamwalker starts messing around, bad stuff can happen."

"Bad stuff? Can you be more specific?" I put my empty mug on a tray hovering at my elbow, and both vanished.

"You know... like dreams turning real or people getting trapped. Yet inevitably, some dreamwalker just has to try something and the rest of us have to clean up the mess. This one was convinced something bad was going to happen, so he's been manipulating dreams of people he says will be involved to try to figure out what it will be." She rolled her eyes. "I mean yeah, theoretically it's possible, but with all the effects it's having? Let's just say the rest of us made sure he stopped. Now we're going back to break people out of the nightmare worlds he set up."

I sighed. "Oh good."

Azlyn fidgeted. "Um... it's not going to be easy. When I realized you were one of the people affected I made sure to be the one to help you. I figured you might want someone you trust or maybe like?"

"Of course I... wait. You weren't just using this as an excuse to see what I dream about, were you?" Azlyn scratched her nose and looked to the side. I knew it. "Well, I guess I know you pretty well. Let me guess, you thought I might be dreaming about someone I have a crush on? Or maybe some absurd fear you could tease me about?"

Azlyn shrugged. "Can't blame a girl for trying. You never tell me who you think is cute. Have to admit, the city in flames is more intense than I expected." Her face turned dead serious. "But I wasn't making up the part about it not being easy."

I groaned. "Oh, this is going to be good."

"Usually you have to face your fear somehow to break out. That would weaken it enough for me to do the rest. Your dream felt different though. Almost like it was tied to the real world."

"You don't mean it's going to come true? Like the kids at school?"

"More like it could happen, or parts of it did happen but you didn't know about it. Like I said, dreams can have connections to reality, and this guy was trying to see the future..."

I narrowed my eyes. "You haven't said who this rogue dreamwalker is. Anyone I know?"

Azlyn shook her head. "Nah, he's actually from Switzerland. I'm the only dreamwalker in the state. Physical location doesn't mean much here."

"OK. So what do I have to do to break out?"

"First we'll have to go back. After that? We'll see. Are you ready?"

I curled my fingers into fists and clenched my teeth. "Ready."

And just like that, we were back in the dream; specifically, in the caverns. Only this time there wasn't any fire or chanting. Even though it was dark, I could still somehow see the sword. I looked at Azlyn but she just shrugged, so I walked toward the sword.

The sword was on a pedestal carved from the stone. I picked it up. It seemed like a normal sword. Although, on closer inspection, some of the light it seemed to reflect actually came from inside it. I set it back in its place, then inspected the pedestal. Carved on the front were the words "Ordo Caeruleus."

Suddenly everything started fading. I instinctively grabbed Azlyn. "What's going on?"

It was dark, but I could hear her. "The nightmare world is breaking up on its own. You should --"

I woke up, then scribbled down a short version so I wouldn't forget. I really hope that it doesn't mean I'm going to get caught up in something big. For now I'm just pretending I don't remember any of it in front of Azlyn.

And to top off the week, I realized we're getting awfully close to Halloween. I'm considering just playing sick for a while, but I'm not sure how much that will help. All the rules go out the window on Halloween. Even the most low-risk person in the city can suddenly find themselves staring down zombies. Last Halloween my parents and I had to fight off a monster made of Halloween candy that fell apart at dawn. They refuse to admit anything odd happened, but I noticed they're handing out raisins this year. Basically normals are even more likely to run into stuff, but are less equipped to deal with it. Maybe I can convince Sol and Iggy to host a party so they'll be around to cover me.

Oh, crap, it's starting already. I just realized I can't see me reflection. Um... I'll finish this later.

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Chapter 8 of The Disasterville Chronicles
Written by HermitThrush

Rumor Has It

Apparently being in the hospital has gotten me out of the habit of writing in my diary. That, or I've raised the bar on how strange the shenanigans have to get before I write about them. Either way I'm going to force myself to write at least once a week.

So the class elections are in full swing. I don't care about most of them, but I hope Ferris Eaton doesn't win the senior election. See, the thing about this school is that most bullies don't last long for obvious reasons. There are two exceptions. One, the bullies who only pick on people who can't or won't fight back (the more restrained supers or the few normal kids). Two, bullies who are themselves powered and thus can handle it if their would-be victim turns on them. Ferris? Based on his reputation, he is a toxic mix of both categories. Just yesterday the girls in the locker room were talking about how his opponent in the election somehow ended up stranded on the school roof. Then of course there's the whole "Loser of the Week" thing he does on Facebook. Not to mention all the loud insults he puts his friends/girlfriends through in the halls and cafeteria, only to declare that he's just joking and they're too sensitive. Yet for some reason he never seems to have a shortage of friends/girlfriends/hangers-on, and I've even overheard teachers talking about how wonderful it would be if such a responsible boy won the presidency. Reason #189 I think they must live on a different planet than I do.

Oh, you're wondering where the powers come in? Yeah, that's the worst part. See, one of the only supers people will openly recognize, even praise, is one Mr. Atlas. Because he himself proclaims he carries the city on his shoulders. Super strength and speed, a nifty red costume with white highlights, and a penchant for posing with photogenic victims he's saved -- the media eats it up. All anyone sees is the hero who stops car accidents and pays lip service to emergency workers as he accepts yet another award or medal. I, on the other hand, see right past that tiny domino mask he wears to realize it's Ferris. It helps that I managed to get my hands on some vocal recognition software and it's an exact match of Ferris' many voice clips. Not to mention that any super who tries to team up with him quietly refuses to have anything to do with him after. I wish one of them would out him as the attention-seeking jerk he is, but he's popular and most of them are not.

Meanwhile, I just have to deal with the aggressive Ferris supporters who keep giving me fliers even though I can't vote in the senior class election. I almost wish I could turn invisible, but then they would probably hone in on my breathing or something.

Ugh, what other than the elections... Oh, right, Jack. I found out why the hospital staff wouldn't tell me how he was doing: turns out he has amnesia. The two people in front of me in Spanish class wouldn't stop gossiping about just how much or little he remembers, whether he has brain damage, and whether or not they would keep being friends with someone who didn't remember them. A bit distracting when we were all supposed to be practicing our conversational skills.

Though the last point they brought up hit home when I saw Jack sitting alone at lunch. The first time I thought maybe he just needed some space. The second time I noticed him staring at people, then going back to pretending to read if anyone looked back. He wasn't usually someone who ate alone; what had happened to his so-called friends?

In the interests of figuring out super social dynamics that could help me survive and satisfying my curiosity, I quietly followed a guy whose name I didn't remember but who was in Jack's Facebook photo and I think used to sit with him. Eventually I caught him talking to another girl who looked vaguely familiar.

Her: "Look, George, I know Jack lost his... abilities along with his memories, but it's not fair to just ignore him. Think how lonely he must be."

I raised my eyebrows. Lost his abilities, huh? It seems to happen to supers from time to time, but it rarely seems to be permanent. Guess that also means both these two are super as well. It's a petty reason to ditch him either way.

George: "You know it's not safe, Monica." (Oh wow, a super who recognizes being around them is dangerous? Fair point I guess, but still). "Besides, the Order keeps us busy. He'll start to question why we never have time after school."

Monica: "Abilities or not, he's our friend and an Order member. He just doesn't remember it. We should--"

George: "No. We can't tell him. You know why it has to be secret. If he remembers I'll be the first to welcome him back, but until then we keep our distance."

I slipped away at that point. I only have normal amounts of social invisibility, and they sounded paranoid enough to notice me following them after a while. Paranoid need for secrecy + magic + snoopy mortal = missing time or worse. This Order thing might be benevolent based on the very little I knew, but it's best not to push it.

So then I had a dilemma. Jack seemed like a nice guy and could definitely use a friend, but who knows how long he would stay normal. If I tried to get to know him and he got his powers back, my expected lifespan would decrease exponentially. On the other hand, if he stayed normal and I kept my distance I would have been a massive jerk for nothing. Well I guess not that big of a jerk since we weren't friends before, but it sure didn't seem like anyone else was going to befriend him.

The next day I saw him alone at lunch again and my empathy got the better of me. I walked over to his table.

"Hi. Is this seat taken?"

Jack looked up and smiled. "No, not at all. Have a seat."

I sat down and stretched out my hand. "Sophia. We met the other day but I wasn't sure you'd remember me um..." my voice trailed off and I kicked myself for being so awkward.

Jack met my handshake, then shook his head. "No, sorry, I didn't remember you. I lost most of my memory, though, if that's any excuse."

"Oh, no, no, I didn't mean it like that. Wow, I'm sorry. Um..." I blushed, then admitted, "This is awkward. I have no idea what to talk about"

Jack laughed. "That's how I've been feeling a lot lately. Why don't you tell me about yourself?"

"Um..." I racked my brain for something I'd be willing to share. "Well, I'm a freshman. My favorite color is yellow. I like architecture. I joined the running club but I'll only be able to make my first meeting tonight. I'm excited to see what that will be like."

"Oh, really? Why couldn't you make earlier ones?"

I looked down. "I was kind of in quarantine. I got exposed to some kind of flu when I was at the hospital. Luckily I didn't get sick though."

"Why were you at the hospital?"

"Oh, I hit my head when we were lost in the tunnels ...aaaand I just realized you probably don't remember that."

"No, but I heard about it a bit. My memory picks up right after they found me down there. Can you tell me anything about it?" He looked at me with big, pleading, puppy dog eyes.

I hesitated. "We got separated pretty early." Jack looked down, obviously disappointed. I bit my lip. "I do know you and Bernard came in together. He said you were there to avoid a monster traffic jam? I think you had a run-in with some rats that had you freaked out. I hit my head after that and we got split up while I was unconscious, so I don't know much else." To mention the tentacle monster or not? I decided not. No telling how he might take it.

Jack tilted his head. "Bernard? Is that someone I knew?"

"I don't think so. It sounded more like you bumped into each other. He's in my geometry class though. I could probably introduce you."

Jack nodded. "Yes, that would be nice. So how many people were in the tunnels, exactly? I just know other people were down there after a building collapsed downtown."

Is that what they told him? "Well, I already mentioned Bernard. There was also Matt from the frozen yogurt shop, Yuki, Wisteria, Erik, Amy, and Harriet."

Jack pulled out a notepad and scribbled down their names.

"I guess you really want to know what happened down there?"

"Well, yes. Maybe if I find out how I lost my memories..." his voice trailed off and he looked away. "Anyway, thanks for letting me know."

"Least I could do." I looked at the clock, then wolfed down my sandwich. Break was almost over. 

He looked at the clock, then ate his food as well. We finished just before it was time to get back to class.

"Sophia, right?" asked Jack as he repacked his things. "See you later?" 

"Sure thing." I briskly walked toward my next class.

On the car ride back, Azlyn poked me. "I saw you talking with a cute guy during lunch. Do you have a booyyfriend?"

Ignatius and Sol elbowed each other and started chanting "Boyfriend, boyfriend." Luckily their mom was driving and she just chuckled. If it had been my parents I never would have heard the end of it.

I rolled my eyes. "No. I saw someone sitting alone and figured I should make a new friend. His name is Jack, by the way."

Azlyn gasped. "Oh, right, didn't he get stuck in the tunnels? And then he got amnesia? Oh dear, you didn't confess your love to each other only for him to forget and now you have to wait for him to remember you're the love of his life?"

I facepalmed. "Have you been watching soap operas again?"

Azlyn giggled. "Maybe. But if you don't want him, you should introduce me."

If that's what it took to shut her up... "Deal. Maybe we can finally make it to the movies."

Sol covered his heart with his hands. "Azlyn, my beloved, would you abandon me so lightly?"

She grinned. "Yes."

Iggy and Sol began talking over each other as they professed undying devotion that reached to the end of the universe. Then all three of them burst out laughing.

I settled into my car seat. Well, at least that drama was averted.

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Chapter 8 of The Disasterville Chronicles
Written by HermitThrush
Rumor Has It
Apparently being in the hospital has gotten me out of the habit of writing in my diary. That, or I've raised the bar on how strange the shenanigans have to get before I write about them. Either way I'm going to force myself to write at least once a week.

So the class elections are in full swing. I don't care about most of them, but I hope Ferris Eaton doesn't win the senior election. See, the thing about this school is that most bullies don't last long for obvious reasons. There are two exceptions. One, the bullies who only pick on people who can't or won't fight back (the more restrained supers or the few normal kids). Two, bullies who are themselves powered and thus can handle it if their would-be victim turns on them. Ferris? Based on his reputation, he is a toxic mix of both categories. Just yesterday the girls in the locker room were talking about how his opponent in the election somehow ended up stranded on the school roof. Then of course there's the whole "Loser of the Week" thing he does on Facebook. Not to mention all the loud insults he puts his friends/girlfriends through in the halls and cafeteria, only to declare that he's just joking and they're too sensitive. Yet for some reason he never seems to have a shortage of friends/girlfriends/hangers-on, and I've even overheard teachers talking about how wonderful it would be if such a responsible boy won the presidency. Reason #189 I think they must live on a different planet than I do.

Oh, you're wondering where the powers come in? Yeah, that's the worst part. See, one of the only supers people will openly recognize, even praise, is one Mr. Atlas. Because he himself proclaims he carries the city on his shoulders. Super strength and speed, a nifty red costume with white highlights, and a penchant for posing with photogenic victims he's saved -- the media eats it up. All anyone sees is the hero who stops car accidents and pays lip service to emergency workers as he accepts yet another award or medal. I, on the other hand, see right past that tiny domino mask he wears to realize it's Ferris. It helps that I managed to get my hands on some vocal recognition software and it's an exact match of Ferris' many voice clips. Not to mention that any super who tries to team up with him quietly refuses to have anything to do with him after. I wish one of them would out him as the attention-seeking jerk he is, but he's popular and most of them are not.

Meanwhile, I just have to deal with the aggressive Ferris supporters who keep giving me fliers even though I can't vote in the senior class election. I almost wish I could turn invisible, but then they would probably hone in on my breathing or something.

Ugh, what other than the elections... Oh, right, Jack. I found out why the hospital staff wouldn't tell me how he was doing: turns out he has amnesia. The two people in front of me in Spanish class wouldn't stop gossiping about just how much or little he remembers, whether he has brain damage, and whether or not they would keep being friends with someone who didn't remember them. A bit distracting when we were all supposed to be practicing our conversational skills.

Though the last point they brought up hit home when I saw Jack sitting alone at lunch. The first time I thought maybe he just needed some space. The second time I noticed him staring at people, then going back to pretending to read if anyone looked back. He wasn't usually someone who ate alone; what had happened to his so-called friends?

In the interests of figuring out super social dynamics that could help me survive and satisfying my curiosity, I quietly followed a guy whose name I didn't remember but who was in Jack's Facebook photo and I think used to sit with him. Eventually I caught him talking to another girl who looked vaguely familiar.

Her: "Look, George, I know Jack lost his... abilities along with his memories, but it's not fair to just ignore him. Think how lonely he must be."

I raised my eyebrows. Lost his abilities, huh? It seems to happen to supers from time to time, but it rarely seems to be permanent. Guess that also means both these two are super as well. It's a petty reason to ditch him either way.

George: "You know it's not safe, Monica." (Oh wow, a super who recognizes being around them is dangerous? Fair point I guess, but still). "Besides, the Order keeps us busy. He'll start to question why we never have time after school."

Monica: "Abilities or not, he's our friend and an Order member. He just doesn't remember it. We should--"

George: "No. We can't tell him. You know why it has to be secret. If he remembers I'll be the first to welcome him back, but until then we keep our distance."

I slipped away at that point. I only have normal amounts of social invisibility, and they sounded paranoid enough to notice me following them after a while. Paranoid need for secrecy + magic + snoopy mortal = missing time or worse. This Order thing might be benevolent based on the very little I knew, but it's best not to push it.

So then I had a dilemma. Jack seemed like a nice guy and could definitely use a friend, but who knows how long he would stay normal. If I tried to get to know him and he got his powers back, my expected lifespan would decrease exponentially. On the other hand, if he stayed normal and I kept my distance I would have been a massive jerk for nothing. Well I guess not that big of a jerk since we weren't friends before, but it sure didn't seem like anyone else was going to befriend him.

The next day I saw him alone at lunch again and my empathy got the better of me. I walked over to his table.

"Hi. Is this seat taken?"

Jack looked up and smiled. "No, not at all. Have a seat."

I sat down and stretched out my hand. "Sophia. We met the other day but I wasn't sure you'd remember me um..." my voice trailed off and I kicked myself for being so awkward.

Jack met my handshake, then shook his head. "No, sorry, I didn't remember you. I lost most of my memory, though, if that's any excuse."

"Oh, no, no, I didn't mean it like that. Wow, I'm sorry. Um..." I blushed, then admitted, "This is awkward. I have no idea what to talk about"

Jack laughed. "That's how I've been feeling a lot lately. Why don't you tell me about yourself?"

"Um..." I racked my brain for something I'd be willing to share. "Well, I'm a freshman. My favorite color is yellow. I like architecture. I joined the running club but I'll only be able to make my first meeting tonight. I'm excited to see what that will be like."

"Oh, really? Why couldn't you make earlier ones?"

I looked down. "I was kind of in quarantine. I got exposed to some kind of flu when I was at the hospital. Luckily I didn't get sick though."

"Why were you at the hospital?"

"Oh, I hit my head when we were lost in the tunnels ...aaaand I just realized you probably don't remember that."

"No, but I heard about it a bit. My memory picks up right after they found me down there. Can you tell me anything about it?" He looked at me with big, pleading, puppy dog eyes.

I hesitated. "We got separated pretty early." Jack looked down, obviously disappointed. I bit my lip. "I do know you and Bernard came in together. He said you were there to avoid a monster traffic jam? I think you had a run-in with some rats that had you freaked out. I hit my head after that and we got split up while I was unconscious, so I don't know much else." To mention the tentacle monster or not? I decided not. No telling how he might take it.

Jack tilted his head. "Bernard? Is that someone I knew?"

"I don't think so. It sounded more like you bumped into each other. He's in my geometry class though. I could probably introduce you."

Jack nodded. "Yes, that would be nice. So how many people were in the tunnels, exactly? I just know other people were down there after a building collapsed downtown."

Is that what they told him? "Well, I already mentioned Bernard. There was also Matt from the frozen yogurt shop, Yuki, Wisteria, Erik, Amy, and Harriet."

Jack pulled out a notepad and scribbled down their names.

"I guess you really want to know what happened down there?"

"Well, yes. Maybe if I find out how I lost my memories..." his voice trailed off and he looked away. "Anyway, thanks for letting me know."

"Least I could do." I looked at the clock, then wolfed down my sandwich. Break was almost over. 

He looked at the clock, then ate his food as well. We finished just before it was time to get back to class.

"Sophia, right?" asked Jack as he repacked his things. "See you later?" 

"Sure thing." I briskly walked toward my next class.

On the car ride back, Azlyn poked me. "I saw you talking with a cute guy during lunch. Do you have a booyyfriend?"

Ignatius and Sol elbowed each other and started chanting "Boyfriend, boyfriend." Luckily their mom was driving and she just chuckled. If it had been my parents I never would have heard the end of it.

I rolled my eyes. "No. I saw someone sitting alone and figured I should make a new friend. His name is Jack, by the way."

Azlyn gasped. "Oh, right, didn't he get stuck in the tunnels? And then he got amnesia? Oh dear, you didn't confess your love to each other only for him to forget and now you have to wait for him to remember you're the love of his life?"

I facepalmed. "Have you been watching soap operas again?"

Azlyn giggled. "Maybe. But if you don't want him, you should introduce me."

If that's what it took to shut her up... "Deal. Maybe we can finally make it to the movies."

Sol covered his heart with his hands. "Azlyn, my beloved, would you abandon me so lightly?"

She grinned. "Yes."

Iggy and Sol began talking over each other as they professed undying devotion that reached to the end of the universe. Then all three of them burst out laughing.

I settled into my car seat. Well, at least that drama was averted.
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Chapter 7 of The Disasterville Chronicles
Written by HermitThrush

Underground

So where were we? Oh, right, the nine of us making our way through the abandoned tunnel death trap to avoid the aboveground giant monster attack. I hate this city so much.

I was on edge, so I kept scanning for signs of trouble as we walked. Wisteria helped me juggle the map and flashlight. Jack and Bernard hung back a bit; I'm not sure what they were talking about, but I heard "would think we're crazy" once or twice. Yuki and Amy were talking about anime, but Harriet was quiet and whirled around any time we heard a noise, so maybe she knew things would be more dangerous than she admitted. Matt must have gotten Erik monologuing because it was a pretty constant stream of "rule," "peasants," "society," and so on from in front.

After a while Yuki stopped and pointed at a tunnel we were passing. "What's that?" 

I looked at the map. "Access tunnel maybe? It goes off the map. It's probably unstable."

She shook her head and pointed. "I meant the thing at the end of it."

We had stopped, so everyone started coming closer to see what the holdup was. I hesitantly began pointing my flashlight into the tunnel. Erik and Harriet pointed theirs straight at the back. The light didn't go far enough for us to see anything. We turned to keep going, and that's when a tentacle came flying out and grabbed Amy.

Harriet and Erik ran into the tunnel after it. Everyone else was either standing still or turning to bolt. I was in the latter category, but then something hit my head from behind and I blacked out.

"Sophia! Sophia!" I opened my eyes and Bernard's face came into focus. Yuki was there too. I sat up and groaned as pain shot through my head. I felt around the back of my head; it didn't feel like I had gotten cut at least. Internal bleeding -- I forced myself not to think about that.

I glanced around the room. The walls here were a different color, and bare earth was showing in places. Either something destructive had happened here or this part had never been finished. Neither situation was particularly promising.

"What happened?"

"Quieter," instructed Bernard. "We found a side tunnel to duck into, but it's still out there."

I nodded. "Any idea what it is?"

Bernard scratched his nose. "I dunno. Maybe someone flushed their pet squid?" He looked away and I narrowed my eyes. Yes, clearly someone had flushed a giant land squid into the subway tunnels because that makes perfect sense. Oh well, if we didn't run into it I wouldn't need to know what it was anyway.

Yuki pulled out the map and put it in front of me. "Going back isn't an option. We had to go off the map about here." She pointed, then moved her finger into a giant white patch barely broken up by vague lines and question marks. "I think we're about here, but I'm not sure where an exit might be."

I could feel my eye start to twitch, but I looked at the map. Finally I put it down and pointed. "They might have made an exit here. If not, it might connect to the rest of the tunnels over here. Let's try for the exit first."

Yuki nodded, but Bernard flinched back. "What about everyone else?"

I frowned. "Unless your cell phones are getting underground reception, we have no good way to find them. Our best bet is to leave and come back with a search party. For all we know they got to safety already."

Bernard sighed and stood up. We peered around the corner, then Yuki took the lead. She has an impressive sense of direction; I could barely keep up on what there was of the map. After a while, though, she held out her arm for us to stop. This time I could just barely hear something. We huddled against the wall and turned off the flashlight. Something big clanked past us. Once it was quiet again, we turned the light back on and kept going.

After a while we reached a fork in the tunnel, but one side had partly caved in. Some light was coming through the top; it could be a way out. Bernard gave me a boost and I looked through.

It wasn't a way out. The light seemed to be coming from a flashlight on the floor, and I could just barely make out someone in the corner. "Psst," I hissed. I heard a bit of scrabbling, then Erik's face came up to the hole.

"Can you dig us out?" he whispered. "Wait, how are you below us?"

"I don't know." I glanced toward the side. There was a small section of the tunnel roof and floor that was just soil. "Maybe you can try collapsing it from your end?"

"I'll try. You'd better back up."

I quickly explained and the three of us hurried back. We heard some thumping, then some debris, then a loud thump. Erik fell into the tunnel holding Amy. Thankfully most of the tunnel stayed intact. We ran forward to prop up Amy, who remained unconscious. We started heading down the other tunnel after we showed Erik the map.

Then Erik explained what had happened on his end. Giant spiny tentacle monster (Bernard seemed a bit freaked out when Erik came out and said it), dragging Amy, Harriet managed to get it to follow her, he had tried to carry Amy to safety and ended up stuck in a side room. A bit uncharacteristic unless... hm, wonder if he has a crush on her.

I held Amy's wrist. I could definitely feel a pulse, but I wasn't sure about anything other than that. "Any idea why she's unconscious?"

Erik frowned. "Not really. She just kind of went limp after a bit. Maybe the tentacles were poisonous?"

I checked my cell phone. The odds of reception were low, but if we could get an ambulance waiting it would be better than nothing. No dice.

"Is that a ladder?" Yuki pointed just beyond where I could see. We rushed forward and found there was, in fact, a ladder. I checked my map; it was pretty close to where I thought it might be. Yuki climbed up before anyone else, pushed up a hatch, then came back down. "It goes out."

Then started the debate on how to get Amy out. I was right on the middle of working out whether we could make a duct tape stretcher when she woke up. She was pretty wobbly, but with Yuki and Erik going in front of and under her she made it out OK.

Bernard started climbing next. That's when I heard shouting and Harriet came tearing around the corner. I saw tentacles, screamed, and started climbing too.

I pulled myself onto the ground and stumbled into the sunlight. The sun was setting, but it still hurt my eyes. Harriet popped through moments later, and then we slammed the cover shut. Thumping, a screech, silence.

I pulled out my cell phone and called an ambulance. Luckily we ended up near an intersection so I could just read the street signs to tell them where I was. Then I tried calling Wisteria. Voice mail. No one knew Jack's number, but Yuki manage to reach Matt. He had somehow blundered his way to the first exit but was so scared he didn't even think to call 911 so they could look for us. Jerk.

Anyway, the EMTs insisted on taking both Amy and I to the hospital for observation. That's how I ended up there. The reason I'm still here after a MONTH is that I was possibly exposed to some crazy virus (they told me the flu but flus don't have the CDC cordoning off half the hospital). If I don't show any symptoms for just one more week I'll be able to go home. Amy, of course, was in a different wing and got to go home immediately. Luckily Azlyn has been emailing me homework so I'm not completely bored. Oh, and they managed to find Wisteria and Jack, though Jack was missing for a lot longer. The staff refuses to tell me much, though; the pains I had to go through to get a nurse to admit that there was a robot downtown that one day with the extra explosions...

Blech, someone's scratching at my door. Is it the full moon already? I am so glad my parents find it plausible that wolf's bane is my favorite flower and that the hospital staff lets me keep flowers in quarantine. Signing off.

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Chapter 7 of The Disasterville Chronicles
Written by HermitThrush
Underground
So where were we? Oh, right, the nine of us making our way through the abandoned tunnel death trap to avoid the aboveground giant monster attack. I hate this city so much.

I was on edge, so I kept scanning for signs of trouble as we walked. Wisteria helped me juggle the map and flashlight. Jack and Bernard hung back a bit; I'm not sure what they were talking about, but I heard "would think we're crazy" once or twice. Yuki and Amy were talking about anime, but Harriet was quiet and whirled around any time we heard a noise, so maybe she knew things would be more dangerous than she admitted. Matt must have gotten Erik monologuing because it was a pretty constant stream of "rule," "peasants," "society," and so on from in front.

After a while Yuki stopped and pointed at a tunnel we were passing. "What's that?" 

I looked at the map. "Access tunnel maybe? It goes off the map. It's probably unstable."

She shook her head and pointed. "I meant the thing at the end of it."

We had stopped, so everyone started coming closer to see what the holdup was. I hesitantly began pointing my flashlight into the tunnel. Erik and Harriet pointed theirs straight at the back. The light didn't go far enough for us to see anything. We turned to keep going, and that's when a tentacle came flying out and grabbed Amy.

Harriet and Erik ran into the tunnel after it. Everyone else was either standing still or turning to bolt. I was in the latter category, but then something hit my head from behind and I blacked out.

"Sophia! Sophia!" I opened my eyes and Bernard's face came into focus. Yuki was there too. I sat up and groaned as pain shot through my head. I felt around the back of my head; it didn't feel like I had gotten cut at least. Internal bleeding -- I forced myself not to think about that.

I glanced around the room. The walls here were a different color, and bare earth was showing in places. Either something destructive had happened here or this part had never been finished. Neither situation was particularly promising.

"What happened?"

"Quieter," instructed Bernard. "We found a side tunnel to duck into, but it's still out there."

I nodded. "Any idea what it is?"

Bernard scratched his nose. "I dunno. Maybe someone flushed their pet squid?" He looked away and I narrowed my eyes. Yes, clearly someone had flushed a giant land squid into the subway tunnels because that makes perfect sense. Oh well, if we didn't run into it I wouldn't need to know what it was anyway.

Yuki pulled out the map and put it in front of me. "Going back isn't an option. We had to go off the map about here." She pointed, then moved her finger into a giant white patch barely broken up by vague lines and question marks. "I think we're about here, but I'm not sure where an exit might be."

I could feel my eye start to twitch, but I looked at the map. Finally I put it down and pointed. "They might have made an exit here. If not, it might connect to the rest of the tunnels over here. Let's try for the exit first."

Yuki nodded, but Bernard flinched back. "What about everyone else?"

I frowned. "Unless your cell phones are getting underground reception, we have no good way to find them. Our best bet is to leave and come back with a search party. For all we know they got to safety already."

Bernard sighed and stood up. We peered around the corner, then Yuki took the lead. She has an impressive sense of direction; I could barely keep up on what there was of the map. After a while, though, she held out her arm for us to stop. This time I could just barely hear something. We huddled against the wall and turned off the flashlight. Something big clanked past us. Once it was quiet again, we turned the light back on and kept going.

After a while we reached a fork in the tunnel, but one side had partly caved in. Some light was coming through the top; it could be a way out. Bernard gave me a boost and I looked through.

It wasn't a way out. The light seemed to be coming from a flashlight on the floor, and I could just barely make out someone in the corner. "Psst," I hissed. I heard a bit of scrabbling, then Erik's face came up to the hole.

"Can you dig us out?" he whispered. "Wait, how are you below us?"

"I don't know." I glanced toward the side. There was a small section of the tunnel roof and floor that was just soil. "Maybe you can try collapsing it from your end?"

"I'll try. You'd better back up."

I quickly explained and the three of us hurried back. We heard some thumping, then some debris, then a loud thump. Erik fell into the tunnel holding Amy. Thankfully most of the tunnel stayed intact. We ran forward to prop up Amy, who remained unconscious. We started heading down the other tunnel after we showed Erik the map.

Then Erik explained what had happened on his end. Giant spiny tentacle monster (Bernard seemed a bit freaked out when Erik came out and said it), dragging Amy, Harriet managed to get it to follow her, he had tried to carry Amy to safety and ended up stuck in a side room. A bit uncharacteristic unless... hm, wonder if he has a crush on her.

I held Amy's wrist. I could definitely feel a pulse, but I wasn't sure about anything other than that. "Any idea why she's unconscious?"

Erik frowned. "Not really. She just kind of went limp after a bit. Maybe the tentacles were poisonous?"

I checked my cell phone. The odds of reception were low, but if we could get an ambulance waiting it would be better than nothing. No dice.

"Is that a ladder?" Yuki pointed just beyond where I could see. We rushed forward and found there was, in fact, a ladder. I checked my map; it was pretty close to where I thought it might be. Yuki climbed up before anyone else, pushed up a hatch, then came back down. "It goes out."

Then started the debate on how to get Amy out. I was right on the middle of working out whether we could make a duct tape stretcher when she woke up. She was pretty wobbly, but with Yuki and Erik going in front of and under her she made it out OK.

Bernard started climbing next. That's when I heard shouting and Harriet came tearing around the corner. I saw tentacles, screamed, and started climbing too.

I pulled myself onto the ground and stumbled into the sunlight. The sun was setting, but it still hurt my eyes. Harriet popped through moments later, and then we slammed the cover shut. Thumping, a screech, silence.

I pulled out my cell phone and called an ambulance. Luckily we ended up near an intersection so I could just read the street signs to tell them where I was. Then I tried calling Wisteria. Voice mail. No one knew Jack's number, but Yuki manage to reach Matt. He had somehow blundered his way to the first exit but was so scared he didn't even think to call 911 so they could look for us. Jerk.

Anyway, the EMTs insisted on taking both Amy and I to the hospital for observation. That's how I ended up there. The reason I'm still here after a MONTH is that I was possibly exposed to some crazy virus (they told me the flu but flus don't have the CDC cordoning off half the hospital). If I don't show any symptoms for just one more week I'll be able to go home. Amy, of course, was in a different wing and got to go home immediately. Luckily Azlyn has been emailing me homework so I'm not completely bored. Oh, and they managed to find Wisteria and Jack, though Jack was missing for a lot longer. The staff refuses to tell me much, though; the pains I had to go through to get a nurse to admit that there was a robot downtown that one day with the extra explosions...

Blech, someone's scratching at my door. Is it the full moon already? I am so glad my parents find it plausible that wolf's bane is my favorite flower and that the hospital staff lets me keep flowers in quarantine. Signing off.


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