Depraved Arcadia

Gray eyes scanned the room and she tucked a strand of raven hair behind her pal ear, revealing a treble clef earring. Beatrice stood on her tiptoes; standing flat she was barely five foot tall. She was a chubby girl, small in height but not in weight. She was far from thin but she wasn't horribly fat. She looked at the room filled with long tables. Different groups of friends sat at the tables playing games of all assortments.

Her eyes lit up as she spotted an orange hoodie and a dark ponytail. She grinned and ambled around the back of the room. She was not heard over the chatter that filled the air. She slid her arms around his shoulders.

"Guess who~?" Beatrice asked in a sing-song voice. A smile crept onto Durante's lips.

"I have no idea!" he laughed. He placed his hand on her's and caught notice of the bracelet on her wrist. "Whats this?" his finger traced a few of the colored beads.

"Oh this?" Beatrice plopped down into the seat across from him and grabbed a deck of cards. "Its a memory bracelet. The star shaped beads are each one of my family and friends. See, this yellow round bead?" Durante nodded, watching her with amusement.

"It's from when I moved in with mom. This orange star is when I met you. The orange bead with the 8? That means we've been friends for five year. The orange heart is," she hesitated and blushed. "This orange heart is from where you asked me out."

"There's three orange hearts though," Durante commented and her gray eyes lit up with excitement that he had noticed.

"There is one for each year," she explained excitedly. She smiled and handed him a face down card and pulled a card for herself. She turned a card right side up in front of each of them. She stared at the Ace in her hand and the King on the table. "I'll stay."

He laid a two on the table on top of a one. Three. He tapped the table. "Hit." She handed him another card- four. He tapped again and she laid a ten on top of his pile. "Stay," he told her firmly and she smirked. She laid the Ace on top of the King.

"I win!" she exclaimed, grinning triumphantly. He leaned over the table to kiss her but was interrupted by a shrill beeping. A smoke alarm.

"Fire!" someone ran in shouting. Everyone stood in a panic, chairs fell to the floor in ruckus. Durante ran to the other side of the table and gripped her wrist tightly. Her bracelet snagged on the table and the elastic gave way. Her hand broke away from his in the commotion and she fell to the floor; quickly she gathered beads and scooped them into her pocket.

She stood quickly, smoke was filling the air and her lungs. Her head spun and so many people rushed around her. She reached out for Durante, calling his name but as she did so, the world warped and all was black momentarily.

They stood beside each other. People passed them, not even glancing at them. After a moment they noticed that people were not just walking past them but walking through them! Beatrice covered her mouth in surprise. Durante took her other hand in his, running his thumb along the back of her hand soothingly.

"Whats that?" she asked, pointing to a purple sign with a large green boarder and letters. They stepped closer, taking note of the screen in the center.

Player Names:
World 1: Depraved Arcadia
Press Start When Ready:

Durante glanced at Beatrice and she shrugged. "We're dead anyway so...I mean, no one can see us, right?" He nodded and entered their names. His finger hesitated over the Start button.

"Depraved Arcadia..." his brow furrowed with concern. However, before he could speak up a small hand wrapped around his and the last thing he saw was a pale finger pressing the button.

The worlds warped again until the air around them was thick and gray. The sky was a deep, dark purple. Half-human, half-bug people wandered the streets; some of the citizen's heads tilted at strange angles – as if broken. Bottom jaws were seen beneath torn flesh, some revealed bug pincers, some had elongated fangs. Dark, dead eyes stared at the couple. Beatrice shuddered and turned to face Durante – his dark hair was suddenly matted and he wore a tattered suit. She looked down to see that the clothes she now wore was a ratted pink dress with a bloodstained white apron. But then she realized it – she wasn't looking down – she was looking at herself.

It was like a dream. She was in this warped Wonderland but she was also staring at herself – like a third party member. She looked to see her Durante – the spirit form staring back at her. He looked just as confused as she was. She opened her mouth to speak but no words could be formed. She didn't understand what was going on.

Her breath caught in her throat as long talons caressed the back of her neck. But the neck of which "her"? She couldn't tell anymore. The figured slunk around in front of her. Her gray eyes met with dead black eyes from behind a half black and half white masked. She studied those eyes, enraptured and in fear. The feminine figure, clad in a red gown and fur-lined cloak, had multiple appendages – centipede legs but also a set of arms. In one hand were unnaturally large scissors. Burnt flesh and tufts of hair clung to the woman's scalp. She opened her mouth, as though to speak, and revealed what appeared to be a black hole – no teeth, no tongue – just blackness. A wretched screech escaped the mouth of the demon, which used both hands to open its scissors.

Durante collided with the woman's side, knocking her away from his girlfriend. "Don't touch her!" he growled, tossing the scissors away. Beatrice backed away slowly but yelped when burnt, cat-like demons gripped Durante's shoulders. They hoisted him up and a crowd began chanting.

"Execute him! Execute him!"

Beatrice's screams were drown out as she watched him dragged away to an area where a crowd gathered. The bug-like woman grabbed her wrist and dragged her to the arena. She pointed to a bench before shoving Beatrice down by her shoulder. Beside Beatrice sat a familiar face. Red curls, brown eyes- Nixon. She looked at her friend and Nixon stared back at her apologetically.

"There is nothing I can do..." her friend informed apologetically. "The judge wants him dead. She always gets her way. "

"No...what are they doing?" Beatrice watched in horror as they strapped Durante's legs and arms to an X-shaped effigy. With no one's handling, the leather tightened around his ankles and wrists, digging into the flesh.

The centipede woman, known as the Judge, wandered around the wooden platform. She looked into the crowd and even though nothing was said, everyone knew. The crowd chanted louder for a sacrifice. Nixon squeezed her friend's hand reassuringly. "He'll be okay."

A normal looking woman, clad in all pink with dark curls stood on the benches. "I love you, Durante!" she shouted before sitting back down, clutching a tissue to her face. Beatrice winced in pain, jealous and scared, sad and confused. She gripped her friend's hand tighter before standing. She was short but she stood out.

"I love you for eternity, Durante. Always and forever. In this life and the next!" Beatrice screamed with all her might.

Tears ran down his cheeks and he smiled, "I love you too, Beatrice." Beatrice blinked and there they stood, in front of another strange purple and green bordered screen. In the background they could still here the mindless droning of a blood thirsty crowd. Before them was a stuffed rabbit – an off-white cream color.

"Take me," read the tag. Desperate to leave this warped world wherein one of them died, Beatrice grasped the rabbit. The world warped around them again and they were transported to another dimension.

Dizziness slowly subsided and they stepped forward. The streets were cobblestone and horse-drawn buggies moved around them. Women in bustles and corsets – gentlemen in fine, swallowtail coats and top hats hurried along the streets. Ahead was a small home – dusty and run down. Something drew them towards it. They stepped inside and saw a human-sized doll sitting in a large-backed, cracked leather chair. Something wasn't right.

Durante and Beatrice gasped in unison. The doll looked just like her, only dressed in a a cream colored Victorian dress. The doll had long hair which was curled and the most striking eyes. The eyes looked as if they were...alive. They held so much pain and sadness.

And then he stumbled in, brown trousers that were too short, and a beige button-down shirt that was common to the time period. His long ebony hair was tied back in a black ribbon. He knelt on the floor and took her hand, his own brown eyes narrowing with sadness. "I am so sorry, Beatrice..."he whispered softly.

"We have to get out of here," the spirit form of Beatrice growled. She grabbed her companion's sleeve and pulled him outside. They glanced up and down the streets, looking for one of those screens. It would stand out – look out of place.

"That man...Durante...he's insane. No one spends that much time with their doll. I mean, she's just a doll now. Not a real human," a young woman gossiped as she passed the window of the small house. He friend chuckled softly, "I heard that the dolls in this town actually have souls. There's no way! Its preposterous."

At last, her eyes caught a glimpse of lime green. Her ears heard the sound of beeping. She tugged her boyfriend's sleeve and ran through the crowd. Sitting on a window sill were two hand-held, phone shaped purple screens with green boarders. They each took one in their hands and stared at the tiny screens. The beeping continued on as they stared.

Dimensions: 2

Love Points: 35

L-Status: Close Relationship

Next Dimension: Bairnland

Tip: Separation can mean the end. Stay in this realm, fiction will become fact.

"I think that means we need to go!" Durante exclaimed. They both hit the "Bairnland" button on their screens. Images fled past them as they grasped one another's hand. Slowly long grass and tall dandelions came into view. Blue cornflowers, pink tulips, red roses – an endless field of flowers surrounded them.

They walked for a few moments, enjoying the chorus of birds, the breeze in their hair. The beeping on their screens had stopped and they tucked them into their hands. Their eyes came into more focus and suddenly they were laying under a tree.

They viewed the child versions of themselves, lounging under a tree. The children spoke of their future and dreams, hopes and their homes. Conversations that had never happened to the real two. The older pair watched through their own eyes and listened.

"If I get taller than you...will you marry me?" the young Durante turned his head to stare into the eyes of the young Beatrice. Her small face lit up with embarrassment.

"As if! There's no way I could marry a shrimp like you!" she laughed and stuck out her tongue. She was only six inches taller than him. She never would have suspected that she would stop growing in four years when she turned twelve.

"We'll make a bet then!" Durante sat up, grinning mischievously. "If I get taller than you – you HAVE to marry me."

"What do I get out of it if I win?" Beatrice eyed him curiously.

Durante rubbed his small chin in thought. "I will be a knight and protect you always from anyone who is mean to you. I won't let you cry." He grinned a crooked, innocent little grin before offering his pinky. She tentatively held out her own, small pinky and wrapped it around his, blushing softly.

There was a soft beep from the screen. Love Points: +20, Promise Achieved. The older pair regained their site as their own and stared at the screen, it revealed that they only had two more minutes in this world.

They weren't sure how many worlds they had traversed – four, five? They sat in a blank white dimension. Their screens informing them they had 30 minutes of free time. They took the time to discuss where they had gone and what they had seen.

"I can't believe I was a princess!" Beatrice laughed, playing with them hem of her old t-shirt.

Durante grinned and ruffled her hair. "And I was your knight."

"Heh," she chuckled softly and kissed his cheek. "Let's see in one world we were a Southern woman and a Northern soldier amidst the second World War."

"Had we not left in time, I'd have been dead," Durante told her in a dark tone.

"I told you I had it covered. I just don't quite understand how this works still. We are us- in spirit. But we can see, feel, and hear as the other "us" of all these other worlds."

"Well we need to be more careful," he commanded.

"Relax, according to this, " she held up her screen to show him," We are at one thousand love points."

"It says we have to reach 1222..."he told her softly. And then the number jarred something in his memory. His umber eyes widened. "Twelve, twenty-two! The day we got together, right?" he smiled and grabbed her wrist but then his expression fell.

"Where is your bracelet? It's very important! What if you forget things and then its all over!" he roared, squeezing her wrist a little too tightly.

"It broke! And I don't know how... Now let go, dammit..." she pulled her wrist away and rubbed it softly. She scowled and he glared back at her, as if it was her fault it had broke. But before she could explain any further, the world around them shifted and turned like a kaleidoscope.

A familiar gray fog surrounded them under the violet sky. Durante's expression turned from anger to sadness in a matter of moments. "We can't be here. We have to go!" he shouted, on the verge of tears. And she stared at him, her eyes full of questions.

"I left you alone here..." he turned to walk away but they suddenly found themselves trapped in a small, light blue room that resembled the one she had known...when? Why did she know this room? The girl in hot pink from before sat with Beatrice on the bed.

"Wait." the Beatrice's spirit commanded and she pointed. Only her perspective changed to first-person this time. And Durante was left with a third person view.

"What are those?" the girl in pink asked; according to the screen – her name was Claudia.

Beatrice looked down at the beads she cradled in her hands. Tears threatened to burst from the corners of her eyes. She quietly explained the beads and their meanings.

"How did it break?" Claudia inquired.

"It snagged on the table and there was a fire..." Beatrice explained and suddenly there was a ding.

"Why not put it back together?" Claudia asked, patting Beatrice's hand. "My brother would like that."

"If...if I do that...those bad things will keep happening. Dolls with souls...promises that could have happened but never did...growing old together...fires...wars...and-" Her sentence was cut short by an ear-shattering "ding!"

"Our memories are meshing and carrying over!" Beatrice yelled, suddenly back in third-person view, staring at herself.

Again, the couple found themselves in the white dimension. This time, however, three dimensional orange diamonds floated around them in suspended animation. Each turned slowly and at times, they could view themselves in previous worlds.

Beatrice looked down and away from them. Below her was white, around her, above her. It was as though there were no walls, no ceilings. A seamless world where, though they stood level, there was no floor below them – no sky above them. It was just them an their memories from their own world and all the other worlds they lived in. Past lives, future reincarnations. Everything surrounded them. Whole lifetimes.

"Bee," Durante whispered softly. He came to stand behind her and wrapped her arms around her waist. Content with the fact it was neither too thin nor too thick. "I'm sorry..." he whispered. His voice pleaded for forgiveness as he pressed his face into the crook of her neck.

Her hand found his onyx locks and she rubbed his scalp. "Durante, I love you. I already told you that. I'm not angry over something like that. It hurt yes...but sometimes, we are going to feel hurt. But together, we have to overcome it." She placed one of her hands on his. He moved his hands to her shoulders and turned her to face him.

He leaned down and pressed his lips to hers. Sealing an unspoken promise with a firm yet loving kiss. After what seemed like an eternity, and yet, not long enough he pulled away and smiled. "I love you too, Beatrice."

The screens in their pockets rung softly. With urgency and worry, Beatrice pulled hers from her pocket. A black bead, resembling depression and anger, tumbled from her pocket and was swallowed by the limitless floor. The screen flashed an important number: 1222.

Goal Achieved: 1222

Love Points: 1222

L-Status: Inseparable Soulmates

Option: Do you wish to marry your soulmate? Y/N?

Durante smiled, and without hesitation clicked the Y before tossing his screen to the endless ground. This time, only their clothes changed. Durante wore his hair tied back in a soft lavender ribbon; he wore a black, perfectly tailored suit over a soft lavender dress shirt. Beatrice stood in a floor-length white dress. It had intricate and beautiful beading with belled sleeves and a corset top. A crown of small purple flowers rested on her short, tidy black locks. A soft veil covered her face.

"Beatrice, I may not have loved you as soon as I met you in some of our lives. But will you do me the honor, of becoming my bride? Right here, in this realm – take me as your eternal partner," Durante knelt on one knee. He took her hand in his and planted a kiss upon it.

She touched his shoulder and took his hand, helping him back to his feet gracefully. "In this life, and the next – if you ask, I will be your wife. Until I die. And even after that. I will love no other and have loved no other. You were meant for me."

"And you for me," he finished. He gently lifted the veil before placing his hands on her cheeks. He captured her lips again and in that moment nothing felt more real.

The soft beep of the heart machine became more urgent. The red head lifted her eyes from her book. Brown eyes met gray and she gasped. Just then, in the hospital bed next to her friend's the young man began to stir. His brown eyes shot open and he gasped, calling his beloved's name.

"Beatrice!?" he shouted. He turned his head and she smiled.

"Nurse! They're awake!" A college-aged girl shot up from her chair, her black curls bouncing as she ran down the hall. The red head stood and patted the bandaged leg of her friend.

"H-how long have we been here?" Durante asked, reaching over and grasping Beatrice's outstretched hand.

"A month. You two were injured and went into a coma at the same time. You didn't receive any severe burns. Just scrapes and bruises, you are lucky to be alive!" Nixon exclaimed. Becoming more aware of her surroundings she quieted down. "I'll leave you two alone for a few." She stood and excused herself.

"December...twenty-second," Beatrice muttered, staring at the digital clock on the hospital wall.

The two stared at each other before laughing softly. They wrapped their pinky fingers around each others, silently sealing a promise they had made in a shared dream.