Sample of a New Book: World Shatterers

Chapter One

Eternal Rot

There are many things I regret, and there are many things I don’t. Among the things I regret, there’s one that I wish to reverse at any cost. I’d even die for it, if that were an option. If I’d been smarter back then, I wouldn’t be in this cruel situation. But, since I’m a soldier, I’m all about muscles. I don’t use my head enough, to be honest.

The thing is, I have a daughter who’s sixteen years old, and she is sick. As odd as it sounds, I’m basically nineteen years old, that is, if you look at my physique. I’ve seen many winters in my life. I’m far older than that.

How do I look? Don’t ask me. I haven’t looked at a mirror ever before, and I never remember to take a look at my reflection on water surfaces. Well, since I had a wife at one point, I guess I can declare that I’m not ugly, if nothing else. Obviously, I’m rather muscular, otherwise I wouldn’t survive on battlefields.

Water…” I hear my daughter’s plea.

She is resting on her bed right now, and I’m sitting at a table in our humble home. Her name is Riana, and if I can’t cure her, she’ll die before she reaches adulthood. If curing her required normal medicines, I’d have stolen them long ago, or bought if they were affordable.

The truth is that she is suffering a disease called Eternal Rot. While it sounds like a horrible disease that malforms the host, that isn’t exactly the case. Eternal Rot is an incurable curse that causes us perennial humans to become ephemeral, that is, Riana will simply die a natural death, much like how old people die of age.

Here,” I hand Riana a glass of water.

Thanks.”

She can’t do any chores in that state. She can only fight the impending death. It’s all my fault. If only I hadn’t been so foolish! I’d trade my immortality and my life for her recovery, but even such price isn’t enough. I’d have to defeat the Divine One, the god of our world, and then force it to lift the curse. To be honest, I’m not sure if even the Divine One can lift the curse.

I can’t leave Riana’s side, which means I can’t work, so we’re running low on rations. Thankfully, the government is supporting us. I’ve performed exceptionally in many battles, you see. The King owes me this much.

Our house is located in a town near the border where many battles have been fought. It’s a cozy home, made of logs for the most part.

Dad,” Riana calls me, “I want to go out.”

Okay.”

I move Riana’s blanket aside, and then I kneel next to her bed. She clings onto my back, and so I carry her outside. It’s a warm day in the summer. Our house isn’t in the downtown. Therefore, it’s somewhat quiet here. There’s a field nearby, and that’s where Riana often wants to go, including today.

But before we can go there, three riders approach us. They’re clearly some government officials, for they’re wearing fancy clothes only nobles can afford. One of them has scrolls in his bag, so much that I’m surprised they haven’t fallen off on the way. Also, the horses are all brown.

Sir Kerad,” the one with the scrolls speaks, “I have an urgent message for you. It is from the King himself.”

Riana, can you sit for a moment?”

Yes, dad.”

I leave Riana to sit on a barrel a few yards away while I talk to the messengers. I wonder what the King wants of me.

Go on,” I urge.

Sir Kerad, there is an expedition that requires your skill.”

I can’t leave my daughter’s side. You know that.”

Indeed, and that is why the King will see to her treatment while you are away from home.”

And what will I gain?”

According to a report,” the messenger reads aloud, “the scholars have found a place where anything is possible. It is not certain, but that is what they have speculated. In your case, Sir Kerad, you may have a chance to cure the Eternal Rot.”

I’m sold.

What is this expedition?”

Do you remember what happened two months ago?” I’m asked such a question.

The town in East disappeared, and a strange rift appeared,” I answer.

Exactly. The rift has been studied, and it seems it is a portal.”

A portal?” I’m sold already, but that word worries me.

Yes, a portal. A group of soldiers explored the other side, and they found a whole new world. Scholars have found peculiar things to study, and even now, they are making new discoveries.”

And what are the threats?” If they need me, there’s got to be something out there that wants the scholars dead.

That, my friend, is still a mystery.”

Mystery?”

No one has seen an enemy in the New World and lived to tell the tale. However, scouts have found some of our scholars dead.”

Can we discuss this later? As long as you promise that Riana is looked after, I am ready to venture the New World.”

I will come to see you tomorrow in the morning, Sir Kerad. I will also bring the maid who will look after your daughter. Be prepared by then.”

I will be prepared.”

Splendid!”

The messengers ride away, the sound of hooves hitting the pavement of the streets resounding in the air. I end up staring at them until they’re out of sight.

Dad, are you going somewhere?”

It stings my heart to say it. “Yes, to find a cure for you.”

But…”

Don’t worry, they’ll send someone to look after you. And if they won’t, I won’t go.”

That’s not the issue. What if you die?”

I won’t,” I assure.

You might be immortal, but if your head is cut off, you will die!”

I won’t lose my head.”

Riana is too weak to keep arguing, and I know that. I let her cling onto my back once again. Finally, we can go to the fields.

Promise me you’ll come back.”

I’ll definitely come back.”

Thank you.”

The noise of traffic doesn’t reach the field, but we can see the town from here. I still don’t know why Riana wants to come here so often, but I guess I can’t complain. This place is practically next to our home.

Well, I have to admit, the flowers around us are indeed gorgeous. Most of them are white, pure. I don’t understand why we haven’t got any ticks from this place, though. The grass reaches my knees, so it should be an ideal place for ticks. Well, I’m glad they don’t like this place.

I let Riana get off my back, for she always wants to stand here on her own feet. Really, I’d like to know what makes her come here so often. I tried asking her once, and she did answer, but it didn’t make any sense. She said, “Euz nig tiri, aram.”

I asked some language experts, but they had no idea as to what language it is. Maybe she’s just teasing me? I do hope that’s the case, for I’d be troubled if my daughter could speak a language no one else seems to understand.

I guess I’ll try asking about it again. “Riana, what does it mean? The euz thing.”

Why do you ask?”

Why can’t I know?”

Riana sighs. “Fine. I’ll tell you.”

Wait, what?

Euz nig tiri, aram.”

And there she goes again…

Get it?”

No.”

The thing about it is that I don’t know.”

What do you mean?”

I don’t know what it means. It just comes to my head whenever I visit this place.”

And I spent so much time trying to get the meaning…”

If you learn its meaning, tell me.”

I will.”

So it was as simple as that? Really, I should’ve pressured her earlier to spit it out. But still, it’s a bit strange. Why’d she utter it every time she comes here? Is it some symptom? I hope it’s nothing serious.

Riana doesn’t usually want to stay here for long, so we head back home a while later. I lay her on her bed and pull the blanket over her. Then I start preparing dinner. I’m not the best cook out there, so Riana tends to complain about my cooking, and each time I apologize and promise to make better food. She’s praised me a few times for actually getting better at it.

I hope she’ll be fine while I’m gone.

***

So, the morning comes, and I wake up first. Riana is still sleeping soundly. Her dark hair is spread on the sheets. She’d be so much more beautiful if she wasn’t sick. I end up staring at her for a while before I start doing chores.

What good am I? I’m a soldier who ruined his daughter’s life by becoming immortal. I was nineteen years old when I killed the dragon and ate its heart to ascend from perennial to eternal. I was greedy. I was a fool.

Only after eating the heart, I slept with my wife, and that’s how Riana inherited the curse. If I’d eaten the heart after that night, she wouldn’t have got Eternal Rot. I’m such an idiot. And I didn’t just curse Riana, I also caused my wife’s death. She, too, was infected by Eternal Rot.

If I could somehow sacrifice my life to save Riana, I wouldn’t hesitate to do it. I’d plunge myself into the darkest hole on earth to save her. In fact, that’s why I’m joining the expedition. It’s unlikely, but we might find a cure to the disease in the New World.

Once I’ve prepared breakfast for us, the messenger from yesterday returns. He knocks the door, and I open it for him. I’ve known the man for years, so I let him inside.

Diana!?” I yelp.

The messenger did promise to bring a maid, but I didn’t expect to see a familiar face.

Hello, Kerad,” Diana greets.

She’s twenty-five years old, if memory serves me, and she used to be a field medic back in the days. She’s tended to my wounds on quite a few occasions.

How did you end up as a maid?”

I put maid’s clothes on and petitioned to be accepted into government service.”

Why?”

To get a chance to see you again.”

Right, I forgot. This lady’s been one-sidedly in love with me. Of course she’d do something like that to get here. But really, I might be older than her, but I still look like a young man! Is she attracted to young boys or what? Tch, that woman will die virgin. I’ve told her I can’t remarry. I’ll only end up killing her, but she doesn’t care. Well, I’m ready to throw my life for Riana’s sake, so I guess I’m as crazy. Love drives people nuts.

I believe you can trust Miss Diana,” the messenger says.

You can!” Diana declares, smiling.

Do you even know Riana’s condition?”

She’s sick,” Diana answers with a bit of hesitation.

Eternal Rot,” I say. “She can barely walk a few yards at a time.”

Yeah, that’s what I heard.”

So you understand that you’ll have to live in this house for the time I’m gone?” I make it extra clear that Riana must be looked after, or I’m not going. “You know me, don’t you? I can tell immediately if Riana isn’t doing well, even if we’re worlds apart. And if I get that feeling, I’ll return at once.”

I, I’ll do my utmost best to ensure that Miss Riana will be well!” Diana assures.

Good.”

The messenger seems pleased. “So it’s settled Diana will be looking after Riana. Now, Kerad, please take a moment to read this.” He hands me a scroll.

What’s this?”

The terms.”

Alright.”

I sit down to read the scroll. Sunlight is coming in from the windows, and I put the paper in the light. It’s morning, so it’s somewhat dark without the sunlight.

Everything looks good to me.”

The terms were made in your favor. We really need you for the expedition, after all.”

I can’t promise anything, but I’ll fulfill my duty.”

Splendid. We shall leave as soon as you are ready.”

I don’t have much to do to be prepared. The government will give me all the equipment I’ll need. The only thing I have to do before departing is to say goodbyes to Riana. She’s still sleeping.

Riana,” I wake her up.

Dad?”

I’m going now.”

Ah,” Riana sits up with my help, “please, don’t die out there. I need you.”

I’ll definitely see you again. Diana will look after you while I’m gone.”

Euz nig tiri, aram. Please don’t forget it. You might find out what it means. Anything’s possible in the New World, right?”

I won’t forget it. Not this time.” I vow.

Thanks, and goodbye.”

Goodbye,” I hug her as I say it.

I leave her side, and Diana comes to greet Riana. They know each other, so it should be fine. I take nothing with me but my clothes. Two horses wait for us outside. I guess Diana must’ve ridden the other on her way here.

If only I knew the danger I’m going to face…

Chapter Two

Into the Unknown

Kerad is led to a fortress where he can get the equipment he needs. The government is doing everything it can to help Kerad. Indeed, Kerad is a very important person. Not only is he immortal, he is also a feared soldier. He’s killed hundreds, if not even thousands.

However, even Kerad wouldn’t have survived the war without mana, the essence of magic. While hurling fireballs and icicles isn’t what he can do, Kerad excels at physically enhancing himself. That is how he defeated a dragon more than a decade ago.

There’s a reason why he can’t cast spells of destruction. While he boasts of a big mana gland, his mana is turquoise, which means he can only physically enhance himself. If he had red or blue mana, he could cast fire or water.

Scholars have been studying mana glands for eons, but they have yet to discover what defines one’s color of mana. Furthermore, sentimentality can cause a change in one’s mana gland, that is, a very angry mage can be thrice as dangerous.

Kerad’s mana is categorized as rare, though not so useful. Turquoise mana has been looked down upon for a long time for an obvious reason. However, Kerad proved that even the turquoise mana can be powerful, as long as it’s utilized efficiently. In fact, Kerad was the first person to slay a dragon, which only promotes the turquoise mana even further.

Have a look at these. Tell me what you need, and I will have the equipment transported to the rift.”

Kerad nods to the messenger. He is in an underground storage room beneath the fortress whereto he’s been led. The place has an odor of mold and oil. There are weapons of all sorts, armor for any purpose and utility tools.

I’ll take a light mana armor and four mana swords. Also, one steel dagger and a backpack for general supplies.”

As you wish.”

Usually, a soldier is given only one mana weapon. They are very durable, so if one maintains their blade, it’ll last a long time, but in Kerad’s case, they tend to break after little use. It’s all because of his intense mana output. Therefore, he needs at least two weapons, especially when fighting an unknown foe. Four is to guarantee he won’t run out of weapons.

The rift is thirty miles from here. We will recruit a few more soldiers here and depart tomorrow. I will see to your lodging, Sir Kerad.”

The immortal man grunts. “I was expecting to see the rift today.”

I am sorry but we must prepare for the next expedition. We have already lost too many men in the New World.”

Then I recommend you recruit mercenaries from the Tholar Peak. They’re far better soldiers than the young ones here.”

We already did,” the messenger remarks. “These young ones will be tasked with the protection of the rift, and we will recruit a hundred to do it. The mercenaries will come with you.”

I see.”

By the time it’s evening, Kerad has had a meal and a room has been appointed for him. He’ll be sleeping in a local tavern near the fortress. They already traveled ten miles today. Kerad’s room is eleven square yards, the bed taking most of the space. He doesn’t complain, however. He’s slept in far worse places during the war.

Euz nig tiri, aram, Kerad repeats in his mind.

He wakes up early in the morning, heading back to the fortress, which is a short distance away from the town. It was once a brigade, but now its purpose is to store military equipment.

The guards ask no questions from Kerad. They let him in, showing their respect to the dragonslayer. Even if they tried to block his way, he’d get in nonetheless, either through or over the wall. Piercing a dragon’s scale is harder than crushing stone, after all.

Ah, Sir Kerad! We are ready to depart in no time. I was on my way to come to pick you up.”

Which one is my horse?” Kerad asks, looking at saddled steeds in the courtyard.

Pick the one you like.”

Kerad does just that. He mounts one of the steeds. The other recruits are mounting as well, and thus they’re ready to leave. The New World awaits them.

The journey goes smoothly. The roads they travel on are well maintained, and the weather is warm, windless. They have one cart with them, loaded with equipment and supply. The other recruits are soldiers by profession. Therefore, they have armors and weapons with them, unlike Kerad, the retired veteran.

The kingdom’s geographical location is such that there are some winters with very little snow, and summers are often hot. The trees are deciduous for the most part, oak and birch being the most common ones.

After the long thirty miles, the recruits arrive at the rift, where a town used to be. The locals, the houses, even the ground disappeared, leaving a pit in the scene. In the middle of it, there’s a turquoise anomaly in the air. It reminds a rip, much like a torn hole in a paper. Only the frame of the rift is turquoise, as the center is a portal wherein the New World can be seen clearly. There seems to be a settlement on the other side, as people come and go. Also, there are dozens of tents erected around the pit, guards standing near the rift.

There it is. Once we have briefed you, a scholar will come to pick you up. He will lead the expedition.”

We’re going today?” Kerad asks.

Yes and no. You’ll rest on the other side before heading out. So yes, you enter the New World today.”

There’s a large tent in the middle of the camp. Kerad and the recruits are taken there to be briefed. A mercenary who’s been in the New World will do the briefing. The recruits sit on stools, facing a board, next to which a scarred veteran stands. The mercenary has a leather vest and muddy boots, a mana sword, which looks much like a steel one, and general clothes under leather armor. He looks fierce to say the least.

Kerad stands instead of sitting. The mercenary glares at him for a moment, scorning him for acting so arrogant, but the mercenary decides to shut up, knowing it’s the rumored dragonslayer. Also, Kerad looks young, adding to the air of arrogance.

I’m no teacher,” the mercenary begins, “and therefore I will be blunt. Something’s killing our men out there, and we don’t know what it is. However, we’ve encountered some hazards you must be aware of, lest you might end up dead. For example, any water you might find in the New World that isn’t from your canteen is dangerous. One scholar lost his life after touching turquoise water, and it happened rather fast.”

Your mission,” the mercenary raises his voice, “is to ensure the safety of the scholars. If you can save a scholar from certain death by sacrificing your life, you take the shot! If you die, your family will be paid extra, and if you don’t fulfill your duty, you’ll be executed. Have I made myself clear?”

The recruits nod.

Now, move out!”

Excuse me,” a tall man at the back speaks up, a scholar, “shouldn’t you explain the dangers in-depth?”

They’ll learn on the way,” the mercenary claims, “for they’re soldiers doing soldiering.”

Fine, if you say so. Now, follow me, soldiers.”

The tall man is wearing robes, a bag on his back. His long hair and behavior make him look like a professor, and he might be one, for his age is around fifty. If nothing else, he is an intellectual person.

My name is Pheran,” the scholar introduces on the way to the rift. “I’m the second in command around here. You’ll be coming with me tomorrow. Our destination will be a ridge four miles from our base in the New World. We will return after that.”

Kerad asks, “Can we find a cure to any disease in the New World?”

Maybe,” Pheran gives his answer. “We have already discovered many things.”

Kerad isn’t satisfied, but there’s nothing he can do about it. It’s unreasonable to demand a cure to Eternal Rot right off the bat.

Pheran stops in front of the rift. “Alright, before we cross to the other side, you must know that the gravity is slightly different in the New World. Also, the thickness of the portal is zero, meaning that there’s no space in the between of the two destinations. It’s the same as entering a house. Now, let’s explore the New World!”

Just as Pheran has stated, stepping through the rift is the same as entering a house. However, the gravity surprises even Kerad. He feels like his body had become heavier, and therefore he and the recruits have to take a moment to get used to the stronger gravity. Obviously, it’ll take days to get used to it, but a few minutes is enough for them to walk properly.

There are just as many tents in the New World as there are in the Old World. The camp area around the rift is even and rocky. However, the nature is anything but organic. It isn’t known whether the whole world is like it, or if it’s just that particular region, but the camp is located in a very strange environment where not a single form of life has been discovered. Massive rocks are everywhere, stone that doesn’t look natural in any way. They’re angular, cubic, some even triangular or pyramidical, gray in color and smooth in texture. It’s unlikely they’ve formed by natural means. The most impressive part is that the largest ones cover a square mile.

If you find something suspicious, don’t touch it. It’ll likely kill you,” Pheran warns.

A group of people is setting up even more tents at the edge of the camp. Pheran is taking the recruits there. It’s a buzz everywhere else, for scholars are working day and night. The faster they discover countermeasures to the hazards of the New World, the better.

Help those gentlemen erect the tents. You’ll sleep in them.” Pheran turns to Kerad. “Sir Kerad, come with me.”

The veteran who looks young nods. He isn’t talkative around people he doesn’t know.

I’ll have you meet the mercenaries you might’ve heard of already.”

Kerad grunts.

One of the tents is clearly different. Its color is darker, and it has a sigil painted on its side. Also, the size is by far the biggest. There’s no mistaking it, it’s a military tent, and the sigil gives away the faction. Kerad was told there would be mercenaries from Tholar Peak, and that surely is the case, but he wasn’t told there are some from Ghulair Pass too. His reputation with the mercenaries of Ghulair is rather poor.

Pheran is leading Kerad right into the military tent, four guards, who stand at the entrance, salute and let Pheran and Kerad get in. No one sleeps in there, for the purpose of the tent is to store military resources. Also, officers hold strategy meetings in there, which is why there are tables. There isn’t much space to move around, the stuff and the pillars taking most of the room.

My, my,” an officer utters, “the dragonslayer has joined the fray!”

Kerad grunts, ignoring the man. Pheran, however, speaks to the officer, which makes it hard to ignore him.

Treyner, Sir Kerad will be working with you from now on.”

Oh? To what do I owe this pleasure?”

Kerad comments with an ounce of irritation spelled on his face, “Ain’t for your pleasure, it’s for mine.”

Ah,” the officer is just as annoyed, “so you’ve come to kill more of my men, eh?”

Pheran pales, for he’s surmised the rest of the context. It may not have been the greatest idea to recruit Kerad and the mercenary before him. Treyner, the officer, is a veteran who’s seen many wars. If Kerad weren’t immortal, they’d be peers in terms of power.

I might spare a few for the sake of this mission,” Kerad intimidates.

As if I’d let you,” Treyner threatens while clenching the hilt of his mana sword.

Uh, please don’t fight in here. We are in the New World, remember? Enemies or not, you’ve been both recruited for this mission, and therefore, you’ll have to cooperate, like it or not.”

Yeah, that was my plan—for as long as the contract is valid,” Kerad assures.

The moment the contract is invalid, I’ll have his head,” Treyner adds.

Pheran sighs, feeling inclined to send both of them back to the Old World. “As long as you won’t fight each other while you’re in the New World, I’m happy.”

There are other officers in the tent as well, and most of them belong to Treyner’s faction, Ghulair Pass Mercenaries. Therefore, they’re glaring daggers at Kerad, who’s killed hundreds of their men.

Treyner, can you brief Sir Kerad about the situation?”

If I must,” he replies.

Likely won’t be accurate information,” Kerad insults.

Then I guess you’ll do just fine without it, eh?”

Of course.”

Pheran really can’t handle them. A young-looking old man and a wrinkled old man are beyond his expertise. The thing is that he’ll have to risk his life while trusting their cooperation. The thought of it makes him nervous.

Kerad exits the tent, leaving Pheran behind. Treyner grunts in displeasure. The scholar hurries after Kerad, who walks rather fast.

Sir Kerad, please, you must accept Treyner as your ally, at least for this expedition.”

Did I say I wouldn’t?”

N-no, but you don’t seem to like it.”

I don’t, but I’ll work with him. However, if he gets on my nerves, I’ll make sure no one can ever find his remains.”

Uh, why do you hate him so much?”

Kerad glances at him, giving such glare Pheran gulps. He won’t ask it ever again, not from Kerad or Treyner. They might kill him if he does. For someone so young-looking, Kerad is truly intimidating.

His hair is short and dark, naturally spiky, and his eyes are menacing, usually half closed, brown in color. During his years of soldiering, he’s earned a few mana scars and a couple of physical ones too. Mana scars are much like fancy tattoos, irregularly shaped stains that glow with the color of one’s mana, stigmata he’ll carry for the rest of his life.

Say, Sir Kerad,” Pheran asks out of curiosity, “have you noticed anything familiar in this New World?”

No.”

There’s a pond nearby you might’ve seen at one point. It’s behind one of those cubic obstacles.”

Uh-huh.”

The water is turquoise.”

And?”

Don’t you get it? It might have something to do with the turquoise mana. It’s one of the reasons why you’re best suited for this expedition.”

I came here to find a cure for Eternal Rot. Everything else is meaningless.”

Eternal Rot, huh? Is someone affected by Eternal Rot?”

Not your business.”

Alright.”

Kerad’s wife and daughter are the only people who’ve been affected by Eternal Rot. It’s been known for a long time that such curse exists, for the Divine One warned the people about the curse of immortality when the first humans came to be. Therefore, Pheran is very curious about the subject, but he won’t pressure Kerad to tell him more. He might snap at him if he does.

The others are still erecting the tents. Help them out, and pick yours as you do. We’re going tomorrow, so be sure to rest well.”

I want my equipment in my tent.”

Fair enough.”

Pheran leads Kerad back to the rift, where the cart has been left. Peasants are unloading the stuff, moving them into a storage tent, which is heavily guarded. By the time Pheran and Kerad get to the cart, Kerad’s equipment has been moved already. The guards recognize Pheran right away, so they don’t stop them from entering the storage space. It’s full of crates and sacks.

Once they find Kerad’s equipment, Kerad wears the armor at once. As it’s a mana armor, it’s made of thin plates of mithril. It doesn’t cover his body from all angles. Its purpose isn’t to protect from physical damage, after all. Mithril is the only material that reacts appropriately with mana, allowing the wearer to maintain a mana barrier for longer periods. Obviously, the more there’s mithril, the better it is, but a light armor is more than enough.

Kerad attaches two sheaths to his belt, one for a mana sword, one for a dagger. He then wears three more sheaths on his back. Before he grabs the swords, he enchants them so that only he can wield them. If he didn’t, someone else could manipulate his weapons at will. The process is rather simple; Kerad imbues the swords with his mana by holding his palm above the blades. He does the same to his armor.

I’m ready.”

© 2019 COPYRIGHT Patrik Mielonen

This is a work of fiction. Everything is author’s imagination. Any resemblance to actual locales, events, or people, either dead or living, is purely coincidental.

Giveaways and a Book Release

February is becoming a very exciting month for me! My second book, Apocalyptic Life is now live on Amazon, and I’m very soon done with the third book, though I can’t just publish it just yet. I need to do some editorial work first. That being said, I’m going to share it with a handful of beta readers, and that’s what’s making it exciting! Really, I’m only 20 years old, and I’m very close to publishing my third book too. My goal is to publish it in March. My birthday is May 24, so I’m very confident I’ll have my third book out before that.

Furthermore, I’m participating in two group giveaways, which means I’m getting new readers every day this month. Truly, it’s an exciting month! It’s all thanks to Derek Murphy that I’m getting this far. His ‘Guerilla Publishing’ course is my bible. I suppose I could still do better, but I’m too lazy for that…

Links to the giveaways (they’re all free books!):

The Dark Lords of Fantasy

Witchy Book Giveaway

Links to my books on Amazon:

Transient Life

Apocalyptic Life

Oh, and once Languished Life is finished, I’m planning on revising one of my short stories. I’ll repost it on my blog. I’ll rename it and write it again, and also expand the story. As soon as that’s done, I’ll start working on Cataclysmic Life.

Thanks for coming by!

Eater of Faces, Part 3 (Short Story)

2nd Time

I wake up, heart pounding.

And I remember.

I remember a young man whose face was peeled off, I remember a lady, I…!

I tear at my hair, this can’t be because of drugs, can it? I’ve never used such, or at least I’m not aware of it myself. Is someone putting drugs in my food?

I jump up from the bed, rushing to my calendar to see if today is June 4, and my worst fear appears to be true. Today is just another iteration, tomorrow is no more. But how the hell? No, how can I remember the previous iteration in the first place?

Calm down, calm down, calm down…

The hell is going on!?

First of all, I need to find out how the day resets itself. Secondly, I need to find a way out of this loop. No, why am I believing this crap? It was just a dream, right?

I take a deep breath and sit down. “Calm down, it was just a nightmare…”

Soon enough, I’m calm and ready to go. I drink my coffee and prepare for the upcoming school day. As I’m about to exit my apartment, a voice resounds behind me.

Hi.”

Startled, I turn around, the previous fear making a come-back. “W-who?”

Your very end, my friend.”

W-what do you mean?”

I, my friend, am the one who’ll eat your face over and over and over again.”

It can’t be.

Tell me this isn’t real.

Who put drugs in my coffee?

Gulp. “Are you real?”

Hah!” The lady laughs. “Oh, yes I am. Mind if I ask where you’re going?”

To school, I hope.”

You know, I’m very curious. How do you do it?”

I’ve got no idea as to what she means by that. “What do you mean?”

Recover your memory.” From her smile, I can read some of her thoughts. ‘I’m curious.’ ‘I’m intrigued.’ ‘I’m enjoying.’ ‘I’m clueless.’

She is an interesting character. But on the other hand, I’d like it if she just disappeared, for good. I’ve never felt this kind of a fear, the kind of fear you get when you’re about to be killed. Nay, I take my words back, I have felt this fear before, for who-knows-how-many iterations it has been.

I see your point. I don’t know either. In fact, this is the first time I totally recover my memories. Wait, do you know how many iterations it has been?”

The lady giggles. “I do. I’ve reset the day by eating your face 32 times. If I’d have to count all the iterations thus far, I’d say the number is too big for a human mind to comprehend. I usually eat a person’s face about two thousand times before I change the prey. You were an exception, as you remembered the previous iterations, you began to act differently each time. It was annoying, Each and every time I had to go looking for you.”

However, After eating a stupid person for a few years, I remembered you for some reason. I had this thought ‘though it was annoying, it was interesting’ and with that, I came back to you. R.I.P.”

So you’re saying that you’re tormenting me out of self-interest?” What should I say? Should I curse her?

Umm, yeah. Also, I need to feed on someone, so.”

Then, tell me, how does this whole cycle work? What must be done and what happens if you eat someone’s face?”

Mind if I have a snack?” She smiles.

I’d like it if you did not.”

Time to feed!”

3rd Time

So, as long as you eat my face, I’ll live, right?”

As soon as I wake up, I ask that from my tormentor. My heart is racing. I mean, I was eaten just a moment ago, wasn’t I?

Should I eat your face right away?”

Please, don’t. It’s not like I can escape anyway, so at least tell me how you do this to me.”

You’re just trying to scheme your way out of this loop. How interesting.”

I was caught?

You see, I have no reason to reveal you anything. Why should I?”

Are you bored?”

Huh?” She snorts.

Are you?”

Maybe I am.”

I might be able to fix that, if you tell me how this cycle works.”

Her eyes gleam in anticipation. “How, exactly?”

Let’s say, depending on the rules, I might be able to craft a spectacular show for you, a show where you’re the main character. You’ll be fed, you’ll have fun, and I’ll get out of this loop. Something like that. Of course, if you find my ideas boring, it’s not like you can’t eat my face anymore, right?”

She retreats into her thoughts, pondering over it. If I’m to be tormented, at least I want to know how. Am I asking for too much?

Fine.”

I make a victory pose in my mind.

However, I’m far worse than you think. If you start playing tricks with me, I’ll make sure you regret it.”

Deal.”

She sits down beside me on the bed. I haven’t stood up just yet, for as soon as I woke up, she was there, waiting for me. I dare say I’d be embarrassed if she was a human. You see, I have my boxers only.

Rule number one. Eating a human’s face causes that day to be reset to 2 AM. The reset happens 11 PM, so there is a 3-hour gap where I can eat faces without causing the reset. I seldom eat during that time, however.”

Rule number two. The latest person whose face I eat before the reset will have his life saved. Let’s say, if I ate your face and then someone else’s, you’d die, for good. If I just ate your face, no problem. People whose faces are eaten outside the time cycle will die instantly.”

Rule number three. I live externally, so I’m not inside this loop. I grow older every second, and resets won’t make me younger. However, I won’t age physically like humans, so I’m an eternal being. Also, I need to feed daily, but I can manage two days without a snack. Of course, I have no reason to go on a diet, so know this: I will eat someone’s face each and every day, end of the discussion.”

I wonder if those were all the conditions. She didn’t explain her own self, though. I’ve got no idea what powers she possesses.

Give me a moment of peace and I’ll craft something for you,” I ask of her.

You’ll have two hours.”

*

Okay, I’ve written down a nice show. She has been watching me silently from the side, not even once looking at my notebook. What I wonder the most right now is that how can she smile for all this time?

I’m done.”

Took you an hour and sixteen minutes.”

I just hope that my memory serves me right. I have a recollection where I see her teleporting. I have to be careful with that part.

Is there a way to recover objects from previous iterations?” I ask.

Depends. I have my clothes recovered with each iteration. I don’t like running around naked, even though I’m Face-Eater. I have a woman’s heart, too.”

Right, that’s not what I wanted to hear. “Can you make this notebook remain as it is right now?”

Gimme.”

Nope, I can’t show the contents to you.”

If you that notebook to be excluded from the reset, then give it to me.”

Jeez, I didn’t think it’d be like this. “Then I need to wrap this notebook with something. No matter what, I can’t show you the contents until after the play is over.”

She smiles rather unhappily. “Hmph. This better be worth the time. I’ll make sure you’ll suffer for all of eternity if you betray me.”

Now that statement makes my hairs stand on the edge. I better keep that in mind as I proceed. Once I have the notebook wrapped in paper, I give it to her.

Shall we begin? Though I think we might need to start a new iteration.”

Oh, I’m fine with that.” No longer unhappy, she smiles beautifully.

4th Time

Is the notebook okay?” I ask as soon as I wake up. Shouldn’t I be more worried about the fact that my face was eaten once again?

This?” She hands it over.

Good. Though I don’t need it right now. As long as you make sure that it will remain like that, it doesn’t matter.”

So I’ll keep it?”

Yes. Now, let us begin. I will be amused by this, just play along.”

Something about that sentence makes me wonder if my girl-hood is in danger.”

Girl-hood? Nevermind, I probably shouldn’t question a monster lady.”

I’m offended.”

If you’re offended, you shouldn’t smile as if you actually like being called that!”

*

We’re both walking to the school I attend. I’m nervous, I’ve never imagined that I’d be doing anything like this. Hold your psyche together, my heart and mind.

I’m bored.” She complains for the 12th time.

Hold your horses. It’s been an hour and a half since we began.”

I’ve been bored for eons, so if I’m suddenly promised amusement, can’t I be impatient for once? Nah, I should I just eat your face right this instant.”

Please, don’t.” I don’t fancy being eaten.

My plan doesn’t really include anything until we get to the school building. As long as she won’t eat my face until we get to school, I think I can keep her amused from then on.

Then when does the fun start?”

As soon as we get to school. But first, may I ask something?”

Depends.” Her unhappy smile sure captures my interest.

Have you seen humans panic? Like a herd of headless chicken.”

A few times, yes.”

Describe the situations.”

Ancient or modern time?”

Modern.”

Let’s see, one occasion was Hiroshima’s bombing. Another was the World Trade Center. Once I happened to come across with a murderer who shot two civilians. His face was tasty…”

I didn’t want to hear the last part, but okay. “So you haven’t been the cause of a panic even once?”

…Eh?” I guess I hit the bullseye.

I speed up, marking the end of the conversation. Let’s see if that made her interested. I don’t think she minds being an antagonist of a horror show, does she? After all, she can reset the day so that no one remembers her doing anything, except for my case.

By the way, how far will you go with my play?”

How far must I go?”

I smile for the first time while in this loop. “You’ll be my girlfriend for the next few hours.”

*

Once we enter the school grounds, I teacher who likes to look after the students is standing under the shadow of the building. She is an old hag, though a good teacher.

I try to sneak past her with my temporal girlfriend. “Good day.” She greets.

It is.” I greet back and try to hurry past her.

Stop right there.” Damn, this hag.

Yeah? What is it?”

Who is she, may I ask?”

My girlfriend.”

When did you get a girlfriend? I thought you were the kind who can’t afford to have a girlfriend.”

I was such a person, but youngsters change at the pace of heart, and heart can either remain as it is, or it can change several times in a short period.” I’m majoring in psychology, so I should be fine.

Always so dramatic. However, I can’t let her stay on the school grounds for long.”

Now the temporal girlfriend of mine speaks up, very slowly tilting her head to the right, smiling brightly. “What I’m curious about is the limit of the human heart. Just how far is it willing to bend? Will it fall for dark even when there’s light, if the dark offers something great in exchange for the light?”

Now I’ve never heard her talk like that. By the way, she’s drooling. The teacher probably didn’t notice as it’s early in the morning and we’re in a shadow. Seriously, she claimed to have a woman’s heart but what I see is a glutton.

I wonder, how’s your face?” She actually asks that…

I pinch her arm to tell her that she should stop. “Let’s go.”

The teacher is left puzzled as we hurry inside. My heart is racing as we do, for I may not be able to do this. I mean, I need to entertain a monster who has lived for eons, so the method I’m going to use may very well spell me a psychopath or something. But hey, I don’t feel like being eaten over and over again for what, eons?

I need you to separate from me for a while. Eat someone’s face, leave the body so that someone can find it, but don’t get caught. Once you’re done, look for a young man with a red hoodie and blue jeans. His hair is brown and short. And do not open the notebook until I say so. I’ll find you later.”

Sounds fishy.”

Trust me, if you’ve lived all your life eating people’s faces, this will make you feel refreshed.”

Fine. But remember, no one escapes Face-Eater.”

I know. If you start eating someone else’s face to reset the day, you’ll eventually find me.”

Exactly.” Like always, her smile is beautiful.

*

I have no idea where she went, or who she’ll eat, but I can’t care about that. I’m looking for a certain guy, the one I described to her. He isn’t my friend, he is just an acquaintance whom I might have to sacrifice.

Yes, I’m literally killing people now. I’m a human, and humans tend to do anything in order to survive.

I find the person in question walking in a hallway. I rush over, tugging his sleeve. “Got a minute?”

Huh? I think so, yes.”

Once a young lady finds you, tell her this, ‘I’m free now.’ And I suggest that you run for it once you tell her that.”

Hold on, just what’s going on?”

No time to explain. Just tell her that, okay?”

I don’t know, if some young lady comes looking for me, I’ll say that, but know this, if she’s a beauty, heh.”

Trust me, she has a cold heart.”

*

Next step is to run for it. Ideally, I want to get out of this loop, and if she did as I told her, she ate someone else’s face. Now if I just hide for long enough, I’ll succeed.

I’m fleeing to a certain restaurant, there I’ll lock myself in a restroom. Of course, I don’t think that a restroom door can hold her back, but I doubt she’ll find me until the reset, unless there’s some factor I’m not aware of.

As soon as I get to the restaurant, my phone rings, someone sent me a message. I check the message as I walk, and as expected, the message came from the monster lady. I’d given her my phone number in the morning for a good reason. I need to know what she’s thinking right now, and since I’d angered her for certain, she will send me a message or two to demonstrate her wrath. She is a girl, too, after all.

Rule number four: all whom I eat are marked for all of eternity, I know where they are no matter what they do, and you, my dear prey, aren’t different. Either come to me, or I’ll come to you, eating your face, and killing you off by eating another person as soon as I’ve eaten your face. You know the death rule, don’t you?

I think I fucked up. She didn’t even use caps lock to write her message, so I guess she thinks that she has the upper hand, and I won’t deny that. But she didn’t mention my location, so it’s fifty-fifty whether that rule is true or not.

I’m seriously fucked up.

*

Tail between legs, I enter the school grounds again. For some reason, the sun has disappeared although it’s midday. I wonder if that has something to do with her wrath? It’s dark now like it was a night.

Once I get a better view of the school grounds, I see that my calculations betrayed me.

There are countless bodies lying around.

None of them has face.

Countless people who’ll never live again.

My psyche can’t hold, I feel like throwing up. I knew that people were going to die, but I never expected to see so many casualties… I, I think…

Am I a… monster?

Is the actual monster more humane?

Do you see what you did?” A mocking voice resounds.

There she is, standing in the middle of the faceless bodies, eyes glowing yellow, unearthly. She’s spreading her arms in a manner that she wants to show something big, and a big graveyard there is.

Do you get it? You made all these people die, for good. There is no way to resurrect them now. I’ve eaten my fill here, leaving only one person alive. The very person who told me the words that spelled the end of these people. Do you get it? You killed them.”

I… never thought that—”

Did you really think I’d tell everything? Of course I hide a stratagem to ensure my victory. Are you stupid?” Her voice is unearthly, wrathful.

I just—”

Don’t say anything. I’ll eat your face, and once I’ve done so, I’ll eat that boy’s face next, that stupid idiot who tried to hit on me. Hah, hitting on a monster, now that’s new. You used my longing to get away? You abandoned me, a girl who longs for amusement. I may be a monster, but I can get angry just like any human. I’ve lived for 1,000,000,000,000,000,000 years in the iterations, multiplied by 1,056,201,030,009,678,040. Do you even understand how desperate I am to find amusement? And now that I was promised amusement, I get betrayal!?”

Listen—”

No, I won’t listen, I’ll just eat your face and be done with it.”

And the last thing I can remember is her insane smile.

The Beginning of the Future

My heart is racing. Funny, it has been racing for a long time now. I mean, I’ve been eaten by a monster several times now.

Wait, I was eaten!?

I died!?

Horrified, I sit up faster than ever before, and the thing that’s only an inch away from my face as soon as I wake up, is the face of my predator.

Startled, I back away a little. “W-whoa, there!”

You. Betrayed. Me.”

Listen—”

Shut. It. Be. Thankful. For. I. Spared. Your. Life.”

Open the—”

I. Am. Going. To. Make. You—”

Open the notebook!!!

For a second, she stops, her facial expression changing to puzzled one. She looks at me with suspicious eyes. She digs for something in her hoodie pocket while staring at me. You know, I’m not going anywhere, especially now.

Read what I wrote back then.”

She tears off the paper, then she looks for the page where my writing is.

Look for Path 1 Branch 6. Read it slowly so that you’ll understand my point.”

For now, she does as I told. Now I just need to hope that she won’t snap suddenly. I need her to understand it, lest I’ll be tortured and eaten, and most likely killed for good.

Though I feel like a monster now. Because of me, all the teachers and students are dead. Psyche, please, don’t crumble. I feel like committing suicide right now. No, I won’t do that, I can’t.

She seems to have read it. “Are you telling me that you planned six different paths for future ahead of time, and eleven branches for each? And all of them lead to one final ending: you and I sitting here? With each of those paths spelling you as a betrayer?”

Correct. It was intentional, to make you angry. You most likely haven’t felt anger for eons, so the emotion alone should be amusing enough, now wasn’t it?”

Her facial expression is so neutral that I can’t read a single emotion from her face. After a moment of silence, she tilts her head to left, really slowly, her expression changing as she does. I think I pissed her off.

So, you controlled me? Am I that easy to read? Am I like an open book?”

I can’t lie here, that’s what my instinct tells. “Yes.”

Then,” she begins, taking a deep breath, “do you hate me for that?”

I considered thirteen possible sentences she might blurt, but that wasn’t one of them. Maybe she isn’t like an open book after all.

I don’t see why I should hate you for that. Rather, if there’s something I’d hate you for, then that’d be tormenting me.”

Should I stop then?”

Rather than asking me such, mind to explain why you’re acting like this?”

Because I’m not amused by your show.”

Should I run for it? I mean, she literally stated that she’ll kill me. Or at least torture…

Then…?”

However, I am amused by you.”

W-what does that even mean?

H-how?”

You risked your life, you risked the lives of others, and you even did something that no one else has done before—recovering your memories, that is. Tell me, why wouldn’t I be amused? You even controlled me.

I don’t know…?”

So, you don’t mind if I’ll hang around with you for rest of your life?”

E-eh?”

I want to be amused, but now that I was, I thirst for more. Take responsibility, as they say.”

Right…”

I never thought that I’d actually have her as my girlfriend, a monster that has eaten my face several times.

Maybe this wasn’t the end, maybe this was.

Patrik Mielonen

Eater of Faces, Part 2 (Short Story)

Oookay, the confusing horror story of a face-eating monster continues. Enjoy! (P.S. I’m going to reveal something cool this week, it’ll be 100% free. Stay tuned!)

You can find the previous part here, in case you haven’t read it yet. Also, share your opinions in the comments down below!

 

The face-eating monster keeps haunting him

27th Time

June, third calendar day. As I step out of the store, a sudden thought comes to my mind—nay, it’s not a thought, but a memory, I think? I remember a shadow, it had a huge maw and it was about to consume someone. Oh well, I think it was just a dream I’d seen at some point.

After a few dozen meters from the store, a young lady appears from the dark of night, walking slowly towards me. She smiles beautifully, I wonder who she is. Her clothes aren’t flashy, so I don’t think she’s from a rich family. I mean, rich people (especially women) seldom wear hoodies, right? Or am I totally wrong here?

But as I look at her, a strange sense of deja-vu comes to me. Strange, maybe I’d seen her in a dream? Or was she in the same primary school? Ugh, my head hurts the more I try to figure it out.

Hi,” she says.

Hi.” I don’t feel like flirting with women now, my head is aching.

Did you like it?”

No matter how I think about it, I can’t come to understand what she means by that. “What?”

Do you feel even slightly better now?”

By any chance, was I drunk last weekend? I mean, did I get laid? I don’t remember such. Jeez, she’s causing my headache to worsen. “I have no idea what you mean by that.”

Do you feel scared?” She asks.

Now that I think about it, yes, I do feel a little scared for some reason. “A little, yes. Why?”

Ugh, you know, you’re the first one to remember the previous iterations, even if it’s just an emotion your body remembers. Tell me, do you use drugs?”

The hell is this lady talking about!? Drugs? Iterations? What!? “You know, I don’t like women who spout nonsense the moment I meet them.”

The lady laughs. “Then it’s fine for me to spout nonsense, isn’t it?”

Her brains must be damaged somehow. “Get to the point. I need to get home soon.”

The lady sighs. “If you can’t remember the previous iterations, then it’s pointless. I’ll try to keep at it until you start remembering. Let’s just hope that you won’t lose your sanity.”

The next thing that happens is something that my heart will remember always.

32nd Time

June, third calendar day. Ever since I left the store I’ve felt fearful. Once I’m home, I drop my stuff on the floor and strip. I need a long shower to wash the fear off my shoulders.

I let the water run for a moment so that the warm water starts flowing. I test it with my toe, and once warm, I enter the shower. For a couple of minutes, I just stand there, wondering what could make my heart pound in fear, until I sit down in a yoga pose. I’ve never sat while showering, and now that I think about it, it feels relaxing, to let the warm water flow upon me.

Face-Eater.

Such a name comes to my mind.

1st Time

June, fourth calendar day. I wake up in the morning, prepare some coffee, and once it’s time, I’m going to school. As I get outside, a cold gust of wind reminds me of something. The memory is vague, but it makes my heart pounding in terror. It’s vexing.

A few blocks later, some young lady calls me out. “Hey there! How are you?”

I’m fine.”

Are you still scared?”

Strange, I am scared, how did she know? If I think about it, that lady does remind me of someone.

What do you mean?”

Nothing. Have a nice day.”

*

After I’m done with school for today, I’m heading to my part-time job. I asked my friends at school if they knew about a symptom that causes permanent fear. I don’t think I’ve been to a near-death situation recently so it can’t be that, now can it?

They didn’t really find the answer for me. I guess I need to figure this out by myself, and soon. This may become a problem if I grow fearful of everything around me. It’d mean no more school or work, which translates to screwed up future.

Much later in the future, I’ll get to know that today, the fourth day of June, repeats itself 2567 times without me knowing it.

2567th Time

June, fourth calendar day. I wake up in the morning with a strange feeling. It’s like I’d forgotten something, but I can’t recall what. I brew some coffee as I ponder over it. Important it had to be, otherwise, I wouldn’t be straining myself this hard.

I shouldn’t waste my time, I need to get to school. I grab my bag and leave, our teacher can be rough if he catches us being late for a class. Just thinking about all that homework he’d make us do if we got late, yikes!

Of course, I get to school right on time. What follows is an ordinary school day.

*

It’s starting to get dark, I’m heading to my part-time job as soon as I finish my homework. I work four hours a day, any more than that and I’d never get my homework done. It’s tiresome as it is.

Halfway to the store, I encounter a young lady I’ve never seen before. She is smiling beautifully, looking at me. Is she just flirting with me? A building next to us blocks the last light of the day, so it’s too dark for me to see her face clearly, therefore, I can’t tell if she’s a beauty or not. Also, if I’m not mistaken, her face is muddied…?

Hi.” The lady greets.

Hello.” Since she started it, I let her lead the conversation.

I might need help. There is a guy injured over there.” The lady points the direction.

In that dark alley?” I ask. It looks like an attempt of robbery to me. Isn’t this how every ignorant character gets robbed in the movies?

Yes.”

Hmm.” It’s not like she can rob me in the public, so I just walk over to the alley without going further in there. If I see a wounded person, I’ll help. Anyway, she keeps smiling like an idiot, so that does make me suspicious.

As soon as I get a good look at the alley, I see someone lying on the ground some dozen yards from the street. “What happened?” I ask as I rush over.

See for yourself.” The lady states. Something about that statement makes my spine shiver.

Ignoring the fear creeping in my heart, I turn the young man on the ground around so that I can see his face more clearly—

only to find it missing.

My hands are frozen still, the shivers run down my spine even worse. I have never seen a human’s face peeled off like someone had made a clean slice with a sharp knife. I almost throw up.

I ate his face, for the 2567th time.”

W-what?” I stutter in fear.

I decided to ignore you and changed my prey, but after a few years of eating someone else’s face, a sudden longing came, I had to come back to you. After all, you were the first one to remember the previous iterations, even if it’s just an emotion. So, shall we begin our bloody relationship for all of eternity, like an immortal couple of lovers?”

Heart pounding, I stare at her face which is bloodied all over, it was this lady I’d forgotten, I’m sure of it. She had to be the thing I’d forgotten. To think that I’ve forgotten a monster like her, just what’s going on!?

Bon Appetit!” She says.

Next Part

Eater of Faces (Short Story)

The Face-Eating Woman

1st Time

June, third calendar day. I see a figure, a dark slim figure of a lady, wandering in the night. She looks drunk, maybe she was partying? I don’t know, the way she’s walking reminds me of a zombie. By the way, I don’t believe in paranormal.

I walk over, asking her if she needs help or anything. I don’t want to see a news about a dead young lady in tomorrow’s newspaper. That’d make me feel horrible since I could’ve prevented it.

Hey, need help?”

The young lady turns to look me in the eyes. Yep, she ain’t a zombie, just a regular hu—wait, I think there’s mud on her face. Nevermind that, she might have just stumbled face-first.

Huh?” The young lady snorts.

Need help?” I repeat myself.

The young lady doesn’t seem to care. “No.” She starts walking away slowly.

You look drunk.”

She stops, turning around. “Yes, I’m drunk.” I still can’t see her face properly, it’s too dark and the streetlight that should light this spot is broken.

Should I walk you home?”

The young lady snorts again. Is that a bad habit of hers? “What home? I have none.”

Are you a beggar, then? How did you get drunk?”

Listen,” the lady begins, “I like you. You saw my face but you aren’t running away. Interesting. But it doesn’t change the fact that you are a meal.”

Huh? What is she saying? “Excuse me?”

It’s nothing.”

I think I should walk you somewhere, so tell me where you were partying. I’ll take you there.” And I’m thinking of calling some doctor if she keeps blabbering nonsense like that.

You see, I had a blast, but it wasn’t because of a party. I’ve been alone for quite a long period now. I’m just looking for something to eat, tee-hee.”

Food? Should I treat you to a burger?”

Yuck!” The young lady almost throws up, or at least it seems so. “Don’t wanna.”

Are you sure? I don’t think I should just leave you here like this.”

Aish, if you really need to satisfy your sense of justice, then see that corner over there? There’s someone who might need your help.” She points at a corner of a brick house some dozens of meters away.

I start walking there at once, fearing that someone might be hurt. Thankfully, that corner is lighted by the streetlight so I can see the person she was talking about. There is a man sitting over there like he was unconscious. He must be hurt somehow.

Hey, you okay?” I ask in case he happens to be conscious.

The man doesn’t respond. I take a closer look at his face—what the hell!? “Holy…!”

That man has no face. It’s like his face was peeled carefully with a sharp and long blade.

He tasted good.” Someone whispers in my ear.

Startled, I turn around. “What happened to him!?”

I ate his face.” The young lady’s smile conveys her thoughts. She really means it. Wait, now I can see her face. It wasn’t mud, it just looked like mud in dark.

Your… face! You—! You really ate him!?” Her mouth is bloodied, and beneath that blood, a beautiful smile tries to tell me that it’s okay and that I shouldn’t worry.

I wonder how do you taste.” Her smile is truly beautiful.

2nd Time

June, third calendar day. I’m walking home from the part-time job like every day. I’m walking fast as it’s already late and strange people tend to come out at this hour. I don’t want to meet anyone like that.

I’m taking a different route today, one that I seldom take unless I have no other choice. I wouldn’t say it’s my only option, it’s just that my instinct tells me to. This route takes me through a park which I seldom visit.

Not a single streetlight was ever built here, so I’m walking in the complete dark. I’m not afraid of the dark, but I prefer light, of course, I’m not a bat, after all. As my night vision is getting better—

a figure of a lady shows up from the side of the path.

W-who?” For some reason, my heart pounds crazy. Strange, I don’t remember being afraid of anything in my life. Even near-death situations haven’t made my heart pounding in fear.

Did you forget me? Tee-hee”

Honestly speaking, I don’t remember meeting a lady recently.”

How nice of you, calling me a lady.”

Are you not?”

I suppose I am, heh.”

She walks toward me. I can’t see her face or even distinguish her clothes. I can just see a figure coming at me, should I run?

W-why are you acting like that?”

The single statement she says aloud is the last thing I can hear. “I’m hungry.”

3rd Time

June, third calendar day. I just exited my part-time job building. My heart is pounding with terror as I look around me. This street is lighted, but when I look in my apartment’s direction from this hill where the store is located, I can see dark alleys, paths, and streets. For some reason all that darkness makes me want to work until daybreak.

I can’t act like this, I need to go home. Sleeping outside is a no go, it’ll become a bad habit. Anyway, I need to prepare for tomorrow’s school day. Damn it, what’s wrong with me?

I decide to walk a path I have never even considered taking, one that has streetlights all the way until home.

8th Time

June, third calendar day. I’m going crazy. I’m begging my boss to let me sleep in the store. He won’t let me, though. I feel like committing a suicide, that’s just how much I’m afraid of the dark now. I don’t understand…!

26th Time

June, third calendar day. I feel like I’ve experienced something horrifying but I can’t remember what. I called a taxi to get me home today. I ask the driver to drive safely, for I feel like something bad is going to happen.

Once at my doorstep, I pay the driver and hurry inside before I go nuts. I’m living on the second floor, so I run up the stairs faster than I ever have. I look for the keys as I run, and once at the door, I open the door with lightning fast moves and lock the door behind me.

Sigh.

I put the lights on and leave my things on the floor. I’m going to shower a bit before sleep. I remove my clothes, entering the shower. I wonder why I feel so terrified. Did something happen that I don’t remember? Strange…

It’s a beautiful night, isn’t it?”

I can feel every hair on my body straighten up, a chill running down my spine. I definitely heard someone. I was just imagining things, right? Right?

You know, your taste is top tier, but not the best.”

I turn around, and a young lady stands there. I’m startled. And don’t even get me started as to why that is.

Who the hell are you!?”

Me? I’m 1/2×1/4-81. The answer is my name.”

I’m not good at math—no wait, that doesn’t matter, how did you get in here? Why are you here?”

The young lady smiles beautifully. “I’m here to consult you. It’s troubling if you’re trying to avoid me like that, so I decided to help you feel at ease a little so that you’ll behave like a good obedient boy. Got it?”

That makes no sense.” I grab my towel and tie it around my waist.

It does.”

In what way?”

You see, you’re my prey. I live by eating you.”

For some reason, that seduction sounds scary.”

I’m not seducing. I’m talking the truth. I’ve eaten your face 25 times now.”

My head is aching for some reason. “That makes no sense. Tell me, how did you get here!”

Stand still and stare me.”

What?”

Just do it.”

I suppose it won’t hurt, so I look at her, waiting for her to do something.

Do you see me?” She asks. However, the voice is coming from behind me, like she was whispering in my ear from behind. And then I realize it, she isn’t standing in front of me anymore, but somehow she’d appeared behind me. I don’t get it, I’m nuts.

I turn around to see her. Not only did she appear behind me, she also changed her clothes in that fraction of a second.

Wait, why a white gown?” That dark long loose hair combined with a white gown, if she hadn’t chosen her words so poorly I’d be excited.

Once again, she smiles beautifully. It’s like she was happy, genuinely. I wonder, what’s the meaning behind that smile? I can’t tell, and it’s not because I don’t understand women. It’s just that, her aura, I don’t know, it’s impossible to guess what she has in her mind. As a side note, it should be mentioned that I’m majoring in psychology.

Why a gown, you ask? Does it bother you?”

I don’t know, I’m troubled. She doesn’t seem to be seducing me, of that I’m certain. There has to be some other meaning behind her actions.

If you can just appear as you like, I recommend that you disappear before I call the police.”

You won’t succeed.”

How do you know?”

You can try.” She sure knows how to talk.

Just out of curiosity, I try to ignore her and see how she behaves then. So far I’ve got the idea that she wants to draw attention, which means that ignoring her may cause her to behave differently.

I walk over to my bed while grabbing boxers from the cabinet. She saw me already so I don’t care if she sees me for two seconds more. Also, this is part of my plan to test whether she hates being ignored or not. I throw myself onto the bed, closing my eyes to see if I can get some sleep.

You won’t sleep this night.”

Ignored.

If you do fall asleep, I might have a snack.”

Suddenly, I remember something. “Oh, right, teeth! Need to brush them.” I don’t even glance at her, I just hurry to brush my teeth so that I can sleep.

She follows me around in my apartment. What are you, a shark? And am I the boat? Nevermind, I’ll just brush my teeth and be done with this.

You know, I’m starting to feel hungry.”

After a moment of silence, I feel something sharp sinking into my right shoulder. I wail softly, then I turn around to see the culprit. Again, she smiles beautifully, her fingernail pressed into my flesh.

Stop it!”

Then stop ignoring me.”

Sheesh, that wound must be treated.”

She leaves me alone for a moment as I tend to my wound she caused. Once I have it patched up, I return to bed, only to find that damn lady sitting on my bed with that gown, moonlight unveiling her in the dark of night.

Should I help you get some sleep?” She asks, now with a mischievous smile. No matter how I look at it, she isn’t seducing me, not even with that smile of hers.

I can sleep well enough alone, thanks.”

I walk over to the bed, looking down on her who is lower than me now that she sits on the bed, and in turn, she’s looking up to me. The shadow caused by the moonlight reflects the two us on a blank wall of my apartment. As I stroke her chin for some unknown reason I can’t comprehend, her shadow turns into a huge monster that is about to swallow my shadow whole.

What are you?” I ask.

I’m face-eater.”

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