I think I need a new name, he thought to himself as he sat down on the overlook he had just found.  He let his legs hang off the side and swung his bare feet back and forth like a child on a porch swing. A passerby might have mistaken him for some carefree spirit pondering the small nothings of a simple life, but, alas, there were no more passersby.  And carefree, he was not, for he was nothing.  He had nothing.  He felt nothing.  He felt nothing unless the fire was upon him, and he had no desire to call it forth.  He loathed it.  If ever he was capable of feeling anything at all, he was certain that he would hate the fire.

Maybe I should just let them have me.

He thought for a while about a name.  His old name was meaningless in this new world.  He had nothing.  His purpose had been taken.  His will.  His ambition.  His love.  He was nothing more than a rotting pile of apathy wandering aimlessly waiting to die.

Apathy.  That might be a good name.  Apathy.  No, even that is too much.  Nobody?  Nothing?  None?  Fuckface?  Dead Stupid Pathetic Empty Jackass?  Ugh.

He could see the city from that overlook, and it seemed almost normal, the barren chaos that it had become notwithstanding.  He dared not let his mind wander, so he began to imagine he could see little people in the far-off city, like little ants leading little lives.  Over there was a banker granting a mortgage to a newlywed couple for a tiny house just outside the city.  And over by the apartment were children playing some kind of game in the street while poor little Johnny sat by himself off to the side because nobody ever picked him for a team.  Oh, and there in the window was a man and woman arguing over what to get for dinner.  And next door, another man and woman arguing over a recent infidelity even though they were both guilty of it on multiple occasions and neither would ever leave the other. He looked over to the park in the distance and imagined a man stabbing a woman over and over again and he wondered if there would ever be enough holes in the woman for the man to be satisfied.

Damn it all.  He would find no peace.  It had been weeks since peace had left the world, and it was not returning.  And now they were coming.  He didn’t know how he always knew, and he didn’t really care enough to think about it.  His quiet respite would soon be interrupted, yet again.  He sighed.

It was almost second nature at that point, summoning the fire.  He called it from somewhere behind the pit of his stomach, deep in the recesses of himself.  He could not think of words to describe it.  He did not know why it was there.  He did not know why he could summon it.  But summon it, he did; for they were upon him.

The first to reach him grasped out and found nothing but air where he had once sat.  The fire had given him speed and in an instant, he was on the opposite side of them. They turned immediately toward him as if they had been expecting his sudden teleportation.  But he cared not for their expectation, and he let loose his fire.

A giant torrent of flame erupted toward them, yet still, they came at him, slowed but only a little.  And then, like always, the fire brought that damned emotion with it and his emptiness pierced his heart and he cried out to them.

“You have taken everything!  You have taken everyone!”

As if a dam had burst inside him, his flames poured forth with even greater intensity, and they began to melt and burn.

“You took my mother!”

They could no longer move forward for the force of his flames.  They still struggled toward him despite their inevitable demise.  Pieces of them melted into entrails of molten goo whilst other pieces burned to ash and dissipated into the gale of his fire. Yet, they did not cry out.  They did not falter.  Then all sensation became lost to him and he could only pay heed to his loss and his nothingness.

“You took my Samson!  You took my Persephone!”

Tears welled in his eyes and he could no longer see.  The flames turned white and illuminated the sky.


What remained of their forms began to disintegrate entirely.  Every bit was reduced to char and ash, even the molten goo, but the flames did not quell.  Even when nothing at all remained, the flames did not relent.  He found himself laughing, giddy on the raw emotion the fire had brought with it.

Am I enjoying this?

And with that thought, the spell was broken, and he released his fire and sat where he had been standing, still giggling to himself, in spite of the emotional vacuum left behind after releasing the fire.  So I am nothing and I have nothing and now I’m high on that damn fucking fire.  I couldn’t even turn the stupid thing off when there was exactly zero percent of the things left, not even a toe, not even a single bit of ash.  He smirked.  Ha!  I think I’ve just thought of the perfect name.

Alice Thorn

Even after a year, the castle still felt like home.  Having just stepped in the forward break in the wall, she took a moment to absorb the nostalgic emanations of her old home. An overabundance of kudzu and moss still covered the majority of the stonework and the same familiar crumbling walls and breaks in the ceiling greeted her eyes.  She smiled.  She didn’t even mind the mustiness or the heavy dew permeating the air.  On the contrary, she welcomed the old smells and smiled even brighter.

She turned her eyes upward toward the single remaining battlement where her training had begun.  For a moment, she became transfixed by old memories.  She had been so carefree then.  Even at the beginning, she had known what was coming, but at the time, it seemed so far away.  Her training was the solitary thing she had desired since she met her Master, and really the only thing she had ever dared to desire in her lifetime. She had been happy for the first time in her short, miserable existence.

She snapped her eyes back in front and found her old throne, as she had called it, though that wasn’t even close to what it really was.  She didn’t have time to reminisce.  She had a purpose in coming back here.  She somehow knew that it should begin in this place, and she also somehow knew that it was almost time.

They were coming.

She strode forth to sit on her throne, which was really nothing more than a broken stone that sort of resembled a chair with one armrest, and when she did so, she immediately felt their presence.  Suddenly, she realized she was afraid.  Doubts plagued her thoughts and she began to tremble.  Was she ready?  Was she destined to die here?  These were things never-before-seen in this world; was it even possible to be ready?  Her heartbeat thrummed in her ears and she found it impossible to keep her hands from shaking. She took her sword in both hands and attempted to grip it only to find that she could not. Tears welled in her eyes as the fear took over her senses and her heartbeat throbbed from her face to the back of her neck.  She could barely breathe.  They were close.

She forced herself to take a deep breath and Master’s words formed in the back of her mind. “Fear can be harnessed, shaped, and directed toward whatever you so choose.  As can all emotion, be it anger, love, hate, envy, lust, and so on. In fact, the greater the emotion, the more energy that can be harnessed from it.  You have strong emotions, as clearly evidenced by your non-stop crying just a few weeks ago (he’ll never let me live that down), and you must learn to use them.  Do not allow your emotion to control you.  Rather, let it spill forth in the direction you have need of it.  Let your anger fuel your desire for goodness.  Let your fear fuel your offense.  Let your pride fuel your defense. Let your determination fuel your speed.  Do not be afraid to experience emotion.  Indeed you should seek to raise it ever higher.”

She took another breath and waited.  She could hear them now; some climbing the walls, some peering over the breaks in the ceiling, some at the breaks in the wall.  Their raspy breath and incoherent mutterings could be heard like whispers from all directions.  She closed her eyes and allowed her fear to overcome until it drowned out her heartbeat and the whispers and she could no longer see despite her open eyes.  Then she took hold of it, shaped it, and channeled it into the pit of her stomach.  She had found her resolve.

She stood and brandished her sword as she poured her spirit into her hands and into her blade.  A bright blue light burst forth from the blade illuminating the tiny inner castle.  She could see them now.  She would prevail.

She held her glowing blade aloft and cried, “I am Alice Thorn! And I am ready! Come.”

I Walk Through This Forest

I walk through this forest with solemn fascination
Oak and ash and maple deluge all senses
Root and leaf and scurrying things give way before my strides
I perceive this ancient soul and I am home

But I sense another presence
Just beyond the boughs
Beckoning my heed
And I strain to see

I walk through this forest and I gaze into the stars
The boughs break and give way to them
And I cannot look away
They guide my steps and I do not falter

I am mesmerized
I no longer feel home
The flames of desire ignite beneath my feet
And I burst forth

I run through this forest with reckless abandon
Yearning to see more of the celestial lights
They dance above the trees and urge the trees to part
And the trees consent so that I may bathe in heavenly glory

And I feel whole
Home is just within reach
But suddenly they vanish
And my legs waver

I stumble through this forest disoriented and weary
I cry out to them, the stars, my new home
My home I glimpsed but for a moment
Teardrops of desperation cloud my vision

And it begins to rain
The tears turn to sadness
They stream down to my lips
And I taste them; they are somehow quenching

I sit in this forest and drink of my tears
I take them into the void the stars created within my core
The void they refused to fill
But I find that my tears no longer have salt

The trees have departed
The long grass has taken their place
It seems I should move
Though I have not the strength to stand

I crawl through this grassland aimlessly adrift
The rain turns to storm
The storm turns to tempest
And I have no more tears from which to drink

Jennifer and Jell

“Don’t leave me!” Jennifer cried in Jell’s direction.

Which was altogether pointless, but Jell didn’t complain.  For 9 years, Jell had not left Jennifer.  For 9 years, Jell had protected her.  And, for 9 years, Jell had followed Jennifer wherever her whims had led them.

So many adventures they had together those 9 years!  The whims of Jennifer were wide and varied, and sometimes silly, and sometimes frighteningly dangerous.  This was one of those dangerous times, perhaps the most dangerous, but Jell didn’t complain.  She would follow Jennifer into the depths of hell if that’s where she wanted to go.

That’s really not that far from the truth this time, Jell thought to herself as she looked back at Jennifer and motioned for her to come on.

Jennifer had led them into a volcano.  Why they were in a volcano, Jell had no idea, and she was terrified, but she didn’t complain.  Jell was leading the way over the rocky steps trying to find the best path through.  They were surrounded by lava and the safe places to step were few and far-between.  The rocks appeared in places here and there like tiny rocky islands in an ocean of lava.  Many of them were slippery.  Occasionally, she’d find a rocky outcropping large enough to rest for a minute, which she needed badly; maintaining her balance hopping from stone to stone was exhausting.

Breaking the silence, Jennifer cheerfully asked, “Hey do you remember that time I stitched up your neck?”

Jell turned around and smiled.  Jennifer was always so cheerful and it always made Jell’s heart swell.  Of course she remembered, it was one of her fondest memories.  They had taken an adventure through the woods and had a horrible incident with a thorn bush.  Jennifer had cried uncontrollably while she stitched up Jell’s neck, and had continued crying long after.  The cut had been minor, but it was large enough to require stitching.  It hadn’t been life threatening, though.  The pain had been excruciating both before and after and especially during the stitching, but Jell had never complained; her only concern had been consoling Jennifer in some way.

Jennifer smiled back at Jell.  And then they just smiled at each other for a moment, eventually breaking into a laugh; the kind of hearty laugh that can only be shared between the best of friends.  They didn’t laugh too hard, though, because they were still busy keeping their balance.

They carried on for a while, Jell in the front finding the path, and Jennifer happily following and laughing all the while.  Jell was amazed at Jennifer’s ability to laugh in the face of these dangerous situations.  Jennifer really enjoys this stuff, Jell thought, and suddenly she felt a swell of courage within and she pressed on ever more quickly.

The rocky islands came to an end at a cliff face; a cliff face so tall that they couldn’t even see the top.  Jell turned around to go back, but Jennifer was having none of that.  She gaily jumped onto a thin ledge leading along the cliff and began to inch her way along it.  Jell had no choice but to follow.

Jell’s newfound courage vanished on the ledge. The ledge varied greatly in width and the lava below seemed ever hotter.  The lava seemed to be bubbling more than it had around the stone islands, and even sometimes bubbled up to just below the ledge.  Jennifer was undeterred, however, even as they came upon gaps in the ledge.  She hopped across them with glee.  Jell was terrified for Jennifer, but she didn’t complain; she simply followed.

Jell was so relieved when the ledge finally came to an end.  She thought for sure they would turn back.  She thought they didn’t have any choice.  Of course, Jennifer had other ideas.  She spotted another ledge just above them and decided to jump for it, but that ledge proved to be unclimbable.

Jennifer jumped and grabbed the ledge, but she did not find her grip.  She scrambled with both hands and flailed her legs in every direction as Jell frantically tried to think of a way to save her.

“Jelly Bean I’m going to fall!”

Then the ledge gave way and Jennifer came crashing down on top of Jell, followed immediately by the ledge crashing on top of both, and pushing them off the ledge at the same time!  Jell’s leg caught in a crack on the edge of the ledge, and she could only watch as Jennifer fell into the lava.

“What are you doing this time?!” mom asked exasperatedly as she ran into the room.

It was a good thing the floor wasn’t actually lava.  Jennifer turned out to be fine, but the book shelf that just broke earned her a massive scolding.  Jell could only watch helplessly as she dangled from the bottom shelf.

Jennifer interrupted her scolding. “I have to save Jelly Bean, she looks hurt!”

“Like I already told you, I am NOT fixing that teddy bear again! You’ll have to fix her YOURSELF!”

Mom picked up the broken shelf and stormed out of the room.

Jell’s leg ended up being broken in two places.  Jennifer fashioned her a cast for it and a little crutch that was just the perfect size for Jell to hobble around on.  Their next adventure would have to wait for Jell’s leg to heal, and Jell certainly did not complain about the wait.

The Die

A single die lay on the ground at my feet; six-sided, white, and dotted.  It was almost unnoticeable in the bright sun of midday amidst the concrete, yet I did take notice, and stopped to pick it up.  Upon first touch, time slowed for just a moment, or so it seemed; quite like a head rush after standing too fast.  The die seemed heavier than it should have, or maybe it was the heat wearing on me.  Perhaps I was light-headed; the sun did hate me so, and I so hated it in return.  Its great heat had drained all of whatever vigor I had once possessed, and I longed to arrive at my destination and be rid of the foul scathing beast.  I thought it best to drop the die and be on my way.

Even before I had raised upright, there was no mistaking the difference in color.  Was this the beginning of a migraine?  Hues of all variety faintly danced in my vision, mingling with flashes and dots of pure white.  I steadied myself and thought it best to get away from the great ball of torture in the sky before I really did faint, and so I looked for shade.  I spotted a small alcove in front of a building just to my right, and there I sat on the ground.

I sat for a time that I do not know.  My legs were stretched out before me and my arms were splayed out at my sides, and I was leaning against something solid.  And, in my right hand, with palm turned upward and open, I saw the die.  I could have sworn I had dropped it.  It became apparent to me that I was far too weak to move even my fingers, and so I sat in petrified nothingness unable to take my eyes away from the die.

Some eternity later, I began to feel emotion in my state of petrification.  It began as what I can only describe as calm euphoria.  Nothing mattered and everything mattered.  Everything was perfect and also imperfect.  Everything was light and dark at the same time.  This turned into a sort of joy and that joy turned into a sort of pleasure.  It was like I had taken all the good drugs in the world at once and I was delightfully overdosing on my own death.

This would not last.  All emotions came and went over my eternity.  Pain, sorrow, anticipation, fear, surprise, jealousy, rage, love, pity, shame, and so many others became my reality, all at once and individually.  I saw and felt things I had never before.  Two lovers high on some unknown drug in passionate bliss.  A young boy beaten and raped by his father while strapped to a saw horse.  Four passengers in mid crash, their pain and vacuity at the moment of their deaths.  A loyal dog’s joy and excitement as its owner returned home after a week away.  So many church worshipers singing in unison.  An entire crowd of parents and students at a graduation ceremony.  A cancer patient’s pain and despair.  I felt all of these things and so many others.  After a time, I could not distinguish them.  The sensory overload was too much to bear.

A soft voice whispered, “Roll.”

A distraction from my state.  “What?”

Louder it said, “Roll.”

“But I cannot even move.  I cannot even see any longer.  I can no longer feel my body.”

The voice became wholly feminine and soothing, and still, it said, “Roll.”

“I do not know how.”



The voice became louder.  “Roll.”

I said nothing.

The voice turned into a mix of masculinity and femininity and said again, “Roll.”

“I do not understand.”

Louder still, “Roll.”

The sensory overload faded a bit and I became aware of my body once more.  Was the die still in my hand?


The die was, in fact, still in my hand.

The voice became angrier.  “Roll.”

I was becoming aware of my own emotions again.  “To what end?” I asked.


“What if I refuse?”

Even louder still, the voice boomed, “Roll!”

“I don’t think I want to.”

The voice became demonic in tone and drowned out all sensory overload.  There was only the voice.  “Roll!”

I closed my fist around the die.


I refused to respond.



The presence of the voice suddenly faded away.  I felt the sun again.  I felt peace.  I felt relief.  I felt quiet.  Though I still could not see.  I did not attempt to move again for some time.

Slowly, the sun became hotter and brighter.  And, was it getting closer?  I tried to move only to find myself paralyzed once more.  The heat gradually became unbearable.  I began to hear footsteps.


My emotional void began to fill with fear and I struggled to move, but it was no use.  I could hear faint breathing in the distance.  More heat.


The heat was too much.  I could feel malice and rage in whatever was approaching.  The breathing became louder.


I could not move!  Fear had overtaken all emotion.  I could feel my body straining against the paralysis.  I could not move!


It was as if the entire swarm of negative emotion I experienced before had converged on the approaching beast.  Still, it approached!


The breathing became raspy and harsh.  The beast’s animosity knew no bounds.  The beast was close now.  So close!  I struggled and struggled against my immobility.  I began to despair.  It comes!


I was burning!  There was so much pain!  The beast was at my face then!  Its foul breath burning my cheek even more so than the rest of my body.  It felt as if my very soul was on fire.  I could feel its intent.  So much unbridled rage encompassed its entire being and I knew I would never not burn again.  I would burn for eternity.  And then it spoke with an evil voice in my burning ear.

“You should have rolled.”