Hey guys! My first time writing on FictionPress consisted of a story known as Depravity, which was about demon slayers. It's not on here anymore but I've started a new one: A Rush of Needles. And the summary:
Cornelia "Nell" Carlton lives a chaotic life; her brother is an alcoholic, her parents can't control their OCD, and Nell herself is suffering through periodic anxiety attacks. But when she meets a strange man encased in what seems to be wooden needles, her life becomes even more chaotic. Suddenly, Nell is brought into the world of the puppets and their human masters, the puppeteers, organized into one guild known as the Rune. But the puppets are not what Nell expects them to be. They appear to be human on the outside, and very much different on the inside; they possess special abilities and bonds with their puppeteer, and they are immensely powerful. But how is Nell, a normal human, able to control Roy, her very own puppet? And just how exactly does the Rune expect Nell to be of any use to them in their protection against the sudden influx of needle-wielding creatures when Nell doesn't even know anything about herself?
I hope you like all of these chapters :] Plus I love love reviews, so they're highly appreciated.
If there was one thing my life lacked, one very absence that drove me insane, it was control.
I lacked it completely and utterly over my emotions. My brother lacked it because of his addiction. My parents lacked it for their obsessive behavior. My whole world, in fact, seemed to be chaotic.
At least I knew there was one thing present in my life.
"Hey," said Thomas, clapping one hand on my shoulder. "You know the plan?"
I shuddered under his grip, putting every ounce of my self-control into not pulling back. If I did, I knew he wouldn't keep his side of the bargain—and that definitely was not something I wanted to deal with at the moment.
The evening air pressed against me tightly, sending whispers of doubt and guilt through my head. It was suddenly too hot for me to think—not too surprising considering it was the middle of July—and I swallowed loudly. This wasn't going to work. He would forget. He would surely forget.
I took in a deep breath. "Yeah," I said. I pushed the word out through gritted teeth.
"Good." He gave me a wide smile and finally let go. "I'm proud of you, you know. Thanks for having my back."
"Yeah," I said again. Had his back my ass. I was doing this for myself. If anything, the only reason I'd agreed to help him was because I needed him. Blood was thicker than water, but in this case, I didn't qualify Thomas as blood anymore. And neither was he really water.
I could smell the booze rolling out of his mouth a foot away. It made my stomach twist with nausea, and not for the first time, I wondered why I was doing this for him. I should be helping him, not encouraging his addiction. But then again, what has he ever done for me? Nothing. Nothing without something for him as well, at least.
"So you know where to find me, right?" he said, studying me through squinted eyes. He had already consumed two bottles of vodka a few hours ago, which meant that his vision was already clouding up. Not good, considering he was the one driving. But somehow throughout the whole entire year since he'd been an alcoholic, he had never even come close to a car accident. I wasn't exactly sure what would happen if he actually ended up in a wreck this time; I wasn't even sure how I would react.
"Tumult," I said, almost to myself. Then louder, I said, "You'll be at Tumult." A twenty one and older club, completely off limits for me, but not for Thomas who was about to turn twenty two in September. Not that he cared where I was in relation to him.
"Right," he said, nodding. He began backing away, his car keys flashing underneath the dim glow of the streetlights. "So if anyone asks—"
"You're out studying with Mackenzie," I said flatly.
"—and I'll be coming back—"
"At midnight, because Gone With the Wind lasted a little longer than you expected."
"And I'll call you about it, so don't tell them that until I do."
I nodded, my fingers clenching. "Fine."
"Then I'll see you later, Nell." He gave me another pat on the shoulder and slid into his car. Another second later I heard the engine rumble to life and the car pulled away, leaving me on the sidewalk. Alone.
I sighed and ran a hand through my thick, brown hair. If I did everything perfectly for Thomas, my parents wouldn't hear a single thing about what happened last night. My most recent anxiety attack, the very last thing I wanted them to know. And they absolutely couldn't know. I would never go back to that psychiatric ward again, to be medicated and put to bed. If there was one moment I'd experienced where I'd had no control at all, it had been then.
I made my way to my car, my fingers shaking as I stuck the key into the ignition. It was going to be okay, I told myself. Thomas always kept his promises. His alcoholism was the only thing he's lied to our parents about; they had no idea it was this serious. They only thought he was very dedicated to his summer book club for Northwestern University, with a slight drinking habit they could overlook, because after all, their son was attending one of the top colleges in the country.
How he got to Northwestern with his repulsive addiction—I had no idea.
"Okay," I muttered under my breath. "All right." I exhaled and turned the car into neutral, backing out of the parking spot clumsily. The street was completely empty; at this hour, everyone was at the fair, an annual event in the middle of the summer hosted by the Hudson High School. That meant the streets around City Hall and the courthouse were going to be filled with cars and people, which definitely was not something I wanted to take part in.
I groaned. That meant not taking the main roads to my house. It meant that I would have to take a detour through the back.
I drove with the radio blasting Dubstep, which helped me calm down and focus on the road in front of me. As I went further down though, turning left on the next intersection, I could feel a bad vibe radiating from outside the car. It was a dark feeling, something that only appeared in your gut and in the dark of the night. It was a feeling I was used to whenever I was going to have an anxiety attack.
Not here, I thought. Not while I'm driving! I gritted my teeth, breathing deeply through my nose. What had Dr. Guse said again? Count to ten…something about picturing a blank white room—
Without warning, the car came to a screeching halt.
I was thrown into the steering wheel, my forehead inches away from the horn until the air bag popped out, sending my head flying backwards. My feet pushed on the break, and then reflexively switched to the gas, but nothing happened. The car only let out a low groan, as if protesting out loud, and refused to move.
Blinking stars out of my eyes, I fumbled with my seatbelt, jabbing at it until I was free. I slapped at the air bag, pushing away from my face so I could breathe. Then, gasping, I unlocked the car and pushed myself out.
I landed on the ground with my hands first and crawled forward, bringing my knees in until I was folded into a crouch, my eyes glued to the gravel. For a split second, I couldn't think at all. All I could do was breathe, in and out, in and out. A constant, rhythmic breathing, until the panic in my head cleared and I was able to concentrate again.
Still quivering, I picked myself off the ground and squinted into the darkness.
I couldn't see anything in front of my car except for the endless road that seemed to stretch on and on for miles. There were plenty of trees around me—the path went through a forest—but no tree had fallen in the way. I frowned and walked shakily to the hood, popping it open. Then I reached inside my pocket, pulling out my phone and using the light from the screen to inspect whatever was in front of me—a foreign area, but hopefully not something I couldn't figure out.
"You won't be able to fix it."
I screamed, almost dropping my phone. I whirled around, my heart pounding wildly in my chest, thrusting out the phone in front of me like flashlight. At first, all I could see were the trees, but then the leaves in front of me stirred, and a dark shadow melted out of the forest.
He didn't even blink at the blinding light from my phone. His eyes were dilated and as dark as night, trained on my face impassively. He was dressed head to toe in black, the color striking against his pale complexion, and bore a deadpan expression. But the corner of his mouth was lifted up into a small smile.
"Who are you?" I asked, my voice breaking at the last word. I backed up until I felt the door of my car pressing against my shoulder blades. I could feel panic clawing its way up my chest and a scream building in my throat, but for some inexplicable reason, I couldn't let it out. My breathing hitched.
"Me?" The man pointed at himself and raised his eyebrows. He took one step toward me and my heart stuttered. His smile widened, as if he'd heard it. "I don't think it really matters who I am," he said, taking another step forward. "But you. You are what matters."
This close up, I could make out two black lines coming from the corners of his mouth, trailing down to his chin. His eyes were unblinking, so cold and black that I found I had to look away. Blinking furiously, I let my gaze drop, only to realize that his dark clothes in fact were not even clothes; they were wooden needles, hanging limp to resemble the shape of garments, trailing all the way down to his feet.
I backpedaled until my body was level with the trunk of my car, putting as much distance as I could between us. This man was crazy. Mad. Something was clearly wrong with him; something messed up in the head. He was an example of what belonged in a psychiatric ward.
Our gazes locked, and then before I knew it, he disappeared.
I twisted my head, searching for him wildly through the darkness, my phone going back and forth like searchlights. The panic in my body increased to a frenzy. Right as I decided that he'd left, he reappeared inches away from my face.
I screamed again, willing my body to move. But it didn't respond; it stood there, limp and frozen, as the strange man covered in needles moved towards me slowly, like a hunter advancing on its prey. A soft, whimpering sound seemed to be coming from somewhere, and my phone finally clattered to the ground. It didn't take for me to realize that the sound was coming from me.
"Well, well, well," he said, now so close to me that even in the darkness, I could see the whites of his eyes. His breath was odorless—so different from Thomas's, I noted absently. "Little Cornelia, so helpless after all. If you had any idea how long I've waited to meet you, any idea how much I've suffered for this very moment—"
For one wild second, I thought that it was the man's name. He snapped his head to the side as if he was answering the call, but it did not seem like it belonged to him. His nostrils flared and he swore under his breath, fear flashing plainly across his face. It was the first emotion I'd seen him show, and it would be the last I would ever want to see from him.
"Impossible," he said softly. "They shouldn't have been able to find me. Vincent said he had covered my tracks, he said he did. Vincent doesn't lie. Vincent never—"
Something streaked past my peripheral vision, and without warning, the man flew backwards, slamming into the tree behind him so hard that the trunk broke. My eyes widened, my mouth forming a silent O of terror as blue flames erupted where he'd landed, engulfing the tree in only a few seconds. But the man was still moving; he picked himself off the ground faster than any normal human being and turned around wildly, his gaze locking onto mine. For a second, all I could see were the needles on his body and the darkness in his eyes, but then he turned around, his knees bending as if he were getting ready to jump.
"Arone," the same voice from before said—a loud and definitely feminine voice. It came from somewhere behind me, much closer now. "Don't let him get away."
"Too late," the man said quietly. His legs bent even more and he launched himself into the air, suspended there for a brief moment. Wooden needles rained down, falling into the blue flames, and he turned his head to look at me. Footsteps thundered loudly behind me and the same voice tore through the air, this time with anger.
"Oh, for God's sake! Jareth! Get back here!"
But it was like he'd said—it was too late. Two people ran forward. One of them—the girl—had what seemed to be threads encased in blue light trailing from her fingers. They were almost blinding in the darkness, a beautiful color, and stretched on and on, attaching themselves to the other person—the boy—almost sinking into the back of his torso. The girl twisted her hands in a gruesome fashion, and once again I felt an invisible presence dart forward in the corners of my eyes. But Jareth only smiled, shaking his head.
I blinked once and he was gone.