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Wasting no time you snap up from your desk and grab the dark indigo jean jacket draped over your chair. Slipping it on you brisk at its tight fit over your lithe build; a perfect production of fashionable form and function. Still heady from admiring the jacket’s feel, you take a deep breath and fill your lungs with its peculiar ashy smell of cherry tobacco and jasmine. Through heavily lidded eyes your AP English class melts around you to show its true reality:
//''Your fellow classmates aren’t just bored and apathetic from the teacher’s lecture. No. You see separate neon pink threads emanating from the tops of heads from every seated teen. Each thread leads back to English teacher Mr. Lenz’s black, oval mouth. Thirty strands of throbbing pink funnel into his gaping maw while he salivates with bulging eyes. Even though Mr. Lenz’s mouth is filled with this supernatural chum you can make out a distinct sound emanating from his grotesque orifice.''//
[[Listen to the sound.]]
[[Reach out and touch a pink thread.]]
[[Tackle Mr. Lenz.]]
[[Admire your jean jacket more.]]
[[Sit back down.|Nothing.]]Your senior AP English class nods in and out of consciousness while Mr. Lenz drones on about //The Education of Little Tree//. You begin to notice slight white spittle form around the corners of his mouth; you muse to yourself that he might be rabid. Smirking at your wittiness, you continue to notice that the wetness on his lips becomes more prominent at the end of each sentence. Also, his neck strains and reddens at the utterance of certain words – specifically //Indian// and //grout.//
Weird behavior from a weird man.
You turn your head to the right and see Jacqueline Rosetta barely keeping a presentable posture. Between her fluttering eyes and bobbing head you begin to fear that she may be entering into a seizure.
[[Check on Jacqueline.]]
[[Put on your jean jacket.]]Your apathy is your undoing.
Instead of becoming the dark hero your high school so desperately needs you decide to do nothing.
[[Begin again.|Grey Flowers]]
Mr. Lenz is a short, rotund middle-aged man whose beady eyes recede into a bulbous head. So the sight of pulsating neon pink threads gathering in his mouth turns your stomach even moreso. But the din of something else echoes in your ears. It’s Lenz’s voice, but a language you never heard. Not Western or Eastern, but arcane and decidedly old.
The English teacher’s mouth doesn’t move while the evil words continue to spew out.
Lenz’s voice becomes louder and garbled with phlegm while bile begins to stream down his chin and onto his paisley tie. His potbelly jiggles with delight as more pink enters his mouth. You notice jagged malformed teeth where coffee-stained molars use to be. His skin forms hard red boils that tightly pucker. And brown eyes flash into a queasy orange…
His transformation is complete.
[[Reach into your left pocket.]]
[[Reach into your right pocket.]]
Cold to the touch, but much colder on your soul.
You scream in pain as you feel your innards instantaneously freeze and shatter. Your lifeless form slumps to the classroom floor and laughter comes from Lenz’s direction.
[[Begin again.|Grey Flowers]]Heroism can sometimes lead to foolishness.
It’s clear that your English teacher is doing something to your classmates. But you leave your common sense and investigative acumen behind in hopes that some physical act will equate a selfless victory.
You never would have thought that your pudgy English teacher would move with such speed and force. But he does and stops your raging tackle mid-lunge with an out stretched hand that immediately grips your neck, crushing your windpipe.
[[Begin again.|Grey Flowers]]Vanity is always dangerous. But rarely does it look this good.
You will never spoil the perfect dark cobalt wash with stupid band pins or patches. Never.
In fact you’ll never do anything ever again because the demonic Lenz has taken advantage of your narcissism:
You slowly sit back down and before you fade into a vegetative state you notice a wisp of pink reaching toward Lenz’s mouth.
[[Begin again.|Grey Flowers]][img[images/greyflowers/greyflowers6.jpg]]
Any other time you would be too embarrassed to even make mere eye contact with Jacqueline.
She is, by far, a superb specimen of teenage beauty. With long ringlets of honey blonde hair falling over her usually exposed sun kissed shoulders. Graceful and sleek, you liken it to watching a panther saunter through the jungle when she takes her seat before the start of class.
This time, however, she is looking less than favorable.
She meets your gaze with crossed bloodshot eyes and an open red mouth that babbles incoherent gibberish. On the utterance of her last garbled word she painfully whispers, //''“Help me, Jasper…”.''//
Jacqueline’s head then promptly explodes and the concussive force caves in your skull.
[[Begin again.|Grey Flowers]]The horrific transformation that you just witnessed of Mr. Lenz into some demonic goblin would induce madness in a lesser high schooler. Not you – not ever.
You instinctively thrust your left hand in your jean pocket and pull out a pair of brass knuckles.
[[Put on brass knuckles.]]
[[Inspect the brass knuckles.]]The horrific transformation that you just witnessed of Mr. Lenz into some demonic goblin would induce madness in a lesser high schooler. Not you – not ever.
You thrust your right hand in your jean pocket and fish around for something, anything to stop Lenz.
You pull out scrap piece of paper with Lisa Veppen’s number. You smile, because it took you a lot of nerve to ask her out…and she accepted.
You tear up and dab your eyes with Lisa’s number because you know that date will never happen:
Lenz has taken advantage of your daydreaming. You slowly sit back down and before you fade into a vegetative state you notice a wisp of pink billowing from your head toward Lenz’s mouth.
[[Begin again.|Grey Flowers]]
Purchased with your fake ID from Tito's Weapons Kiosk at the mall, you knew these knuckledusters would come in handy one day. Shimmering yellow-gold with flecked metallic glitter – these beasts will knock down any burly jock with jarring force.
You would think that would be enough, but you still weren’t quite satisfied.
Your interest in dark majik lead you to casting an enchantment spell on the knucks that would facilitate exorcizing otherworldly beings.
[[What did the spell consist of?]]
Most enchantment spells require little more than burning sage and chanting. But to charm an item capable of exorcizing inter-dimensional vermin? That takes precise skill with potentially dangerous consequences.
Through your occult research you determined it was necessary to summon an Imp and convince it to blood let on your weapons. Yes, an Imp dripping blood on your brass knuckles was a crucial component of this spell.
[[Who did you summon?]]
The danger of summoning another creature to our world for personal gain is unholy. But the night you decided to bid an extra-planar creature passage to your bedroom proved successful! Your intelligence and fluency in arcane majik managed to call forth the Imp Lord Durn Vig. Standing only 8 inches tall and ruddy in color, the resentful lord cursed your summoning competence and scoffed at your request.
But when you produced a small pouch of beef jerky, Durn changed his tune considerably. Such delicacies are unknown on his world and whetted his appetite.
He agreed to your offer and slashed his tiny fingers to ooze a viscous purple over your brass knuckles. The Imp Lord’s blood immediately absorbed into the plated gold while you recited the dark words required to consecrate the enchantment.
When the last drop of Imp blood soaked into the knucks, Vig cackled and grabbed the pouch vanishing from your bedroom back to his dimension.
The spell was a success.
[[Put on brass knuckles.]]
Shimmering yellow-gold with flecked metallic glitter, these knuckledusters were cast for one reason, and one reason only: plowing through those unfortunate to have wronged you.
You tightly grip the pair in your fists advancing toward Lenz while walking by your drooling peers. Throbbing pink strands still emanate from their heads, all leading back to your teacher’s open mouth.
About a foot away from the teacher's desk you notice Lenz's orange eyes dart in your direction.
With a recoiling snap the creature sucks the pink back, not unlike a child trying to eat spaghetti. With the last strand slithering into his gross hole, Lenz reopens his mouth to address you:
//''“Jasper, the always quiet and brooding loner in the corner. You now see my true form! But look around you. Your classmates will remain dazed for a bit longer. And when they awake have no recollection of what has happened. But what has happened, Jasper? Care to take a guess?”''//
[[Take a guess.]]
It isn't a guess, but a cold fact. Mr. Douglas F. Lenz is a Qar demon from the 32nd outer realm of X'znilop. The Qarian race rarely travels to our plane. But when they do it is only for the consumption of youthful essences via psychic means to sustain their own hideous existences. Qars usually won't kill their prey for fear of being discovered, but have been known to drain their victims to near death.
Much to his surprise you calmly share this knowledge with the English teacher.
//''"How do you know this?" demands the bewildered creature.''//
Your mind flicks back to your first encounter with Mr. Rulan, the elderly owner of a rare book store near your school. Your acquaintance with Rulan matured into a stalwart mentee as he made recommendations during your weekly visits.
As a dark teenage hero you spend most nights reading his suggested old tomes by candle. The esoteric knowledge gained by those books has opened your eyes to what this world truly is: Earth is but one of infinite realms of existence. And those that wish to do it harm make no qualms and harbor no regret.
Too upset to banter with Lenz you spring forward, teeth clenched and fists cocked anticipating to unleash damage.
A red flash stops you short just before you land the first punch on his fleshy face.
Lenz’s hand, now large and scaly, engulfs your head. The monster slightly squeezes and you scream.
A mix of flesh, bone, and brains is all that remains in the demon’s clenched fist.
[[Begin again.|Grey Flowers]]You jolt back from your reverie to confront the Qar demon who is still puzzled at your deduction of his identity.
With the dusters still gripped in your fists, you crack your knuckles audibly enough for Lenz to wince.
His banishment from this classroom draws closer…
[[Kneel.]]Closing your eyes would seem like the wrong choice, but you must have total concentration reciting your spell. Your world dims to darkness and you hear only the sound of your heart’s slow beating. You focus on your blood flowing with each successive pump, like an ominous drumming pushing away the din of reality.
Then, with hands clasped and a straight posture you begin to say the words that will protect you from any harm:
Usually cautiousness isn’t your strong suit. But you felt the urge protect yourself before sending the Qar away.
But after a moment into your incantation the demon punctured both your closed eyes with his gnarled fingers – his nails scraping the inside of you skull.
[[Begin again.|Grey Flowers]][img[images/greyflowers/greyflowers4.jpg]]
This is not a show of submission. Instead a necessary move to protect yourself and begin the exorcism.
Quickly dropping to your knees the intimate space around you erupts into a blue and black circle of flame. Lenz swipes at you with meaty claws only to singe himself. Howling in pain he stumbles back.
Unaffected by his actions, your lips instinctively move as you enunciate each distinctive syllable of your spell. At its completion a vibrant pearlescent web darts from your mouth to bind the Qar to the blackboard.
Lenz, enraged and confused, doesn’t know what to make of his predicament. He futilely thrashes against the wall, kicking his bloated legs at an attempt for traction.
You rise, confident that your binding spell has done its job.
You walk up to the beast with raised fists and begin to mercilessly pummel him. Each blow are equal bursts of gold and crimson as Lenz’s body becomes a pulpy mess.
You realize that your enchanted punches are working when the demon begins to heinously swell. Through distended cheeks and lips the Qar curses your name and explodes across the entirety of the room. The gore covers you and a majority of your classmates. But before you panic about being covered in demonic viscera you notice the carnage lifting off you and dissolving mid-air into a beryl sparkle. Quite beautiful, actually.
The bell rings and your peers simultaneously awake from their Qarian induced stupor. They gather their books and exit the classroom vaguely wondering where their English teacher has gone. You, Jasper Flint, however, ditched a good 10 minutes earlier to enjoy a well-earned cigarette in the high school parking lot.
After a long, last drag you stare deeply into the powder blue sky and ponder what other adventures await a dark hero such as yourself…
//''End.''//This high school needs a hero – a dark hero.
And, Jasper Flint, that dark hero is you.
[[Put on your jean jacket.]]
[[Where am I?]]
[[Nothing.]]This high school needs a hero – a dark hero.
And, Jasper Flint, that dark hero is you.
[Put on your jean jacket.]
[Where am I?]