“This one is coffee-flavoured milk,” the waiter said, presenting the little bottle in one hand. The white label read in a light brown font: COFFEE.

“Isn’t that just coffee with milk?” I asked.

“No, no, it’s coffee-flavoured milk,” the waiter shook his head and smiled. “There’s many more flavours, if you would like to have a look. We haven’t prepared a menu yet, so you’ll have to have a look yourself.”

It was a new place. I’d spotted it while on one of my midnight walks. There used to be a hardware shop here, but then it got shut down for a few months, and this restaurant popped up in its place. “A Dairy Situation”, the sign outside said, along with a cheap graphic of a Holstein Friesian cow.

I stepped towards the refrigerator and squatted to get a good look. The waiter was right, there was quite the variety. You had the usual varieties: cocoa, strawberry, mango, orange, vanilla, pistachio, cardamom, saffron and even some strange ones like chilli, chicken, beef, wasabi, and so on.

“You make these here?” I asked.

“Right there in the back, ma'am,” the waiter nodded, and pulled out a passionfruit flavour bottle. “This is the newest one,” he said.

“I’ll have it,” I took the bottle from his hands and put it to my lips. Before I could down it, the waiter said—almost yelled—at me to stop. I asked him what’s wrong.

“There is something very important you need to know,” he nodded, “As soon as you drink it, you will return to when you were a baby. Your life, as you have lived it until now, will disappear, never to return. You will be a baby again, but the circumstances of your life will change in minute ways, culminating in a butterfly effect.”

I looked at the bottle in my hands and at the waiter.

“I’ve been here before,” I said.

“Several times,” he said, and then waved at the refrigerator. “These many times, to be exact.”

“And I’ve tried a new flavour each time?” I asked.

“Without fail.”

I contemplated the flavoured milk. “And every single time, I’ve ended up here,” I said.

“Oh, we have branches in many cities,” the waiter smiled again, but it wasn’t the same humble smile as before. Now it was a knowing smile.

I nodded. Then I flung the bottle against the glass door. The glass of the bottle shattered, and the pale yellow milk splattered across the door. I opened the refrigerator and started chucking each of the bottles at the door. The waiter watched without expression as the door was covered in different flavours of milk.

At the end, there was one flavour left. It was plain milk, without a label. Just white.

“That one’s not ready, ma'am,” the waiter said.

I opened the bottle and chugged it down. Once the bottle was empty, I slammed it on the table and wiped my mouth with the back of my wrist.

“What was this going to be?” I asked.

The waiter’s mouth opened and closed as he answered my question with a smile. Even as he spoke his words, I felt them slipping away from my mind. My vision faded, and soon, all I could hear was the sound of my own crying, and the warmth of my mother’s breast.

Shady Deals

“Are you saying that serial killers can’t be feminist?”

I sucked loudly at my drink, trying to get the rest of the nearly melted frappe. “No, that’s not what I’m saying.”

“Well what are you saying?”

“I mean, anyone can be a feminist. But once you go around killing people, it’s not like it matters anymore. Now you’re just a murderer, regardless of your views on gender equality.”

“I’d still rather be killed by a feminist.”

I laughed, “Why’s that?”

“Because,” said Liz, waving her drink in the air despite the looks she got from the other people in the cafe, “at least then I know i’m not being killed by some prick who’s twisted idea of justice is taking out my ovaries because I had an abortion.”

“Liz, you’ve never gotten pregnant.”

“My killer doesn’t know that!”

I unwrapped the cookie we bought earlier, broke it in half and handed the bigger piece to liz. In between bites, I asked, “Why is your killer taking your ovaries?”

“It’s his signature. He takes the organs as trophies.”

“Geez, Liz,” I laughed again, “I think you’ve given this too much thought.”

“Promise me, Joni,” she said, taking my hand, “Promise me that If I die before you, you’ll turn my corpse into a work of art.”

“Oh my God.”

“I want to be posed beautifully. I give you full permission to do what you will. Take out my organs. Skin me and lay my skin suit down next to me as if it were my lover. Just make me look good.”

“Liz!” I could see multiple heads turn in our direction. They must have thought we were crazy.

“I want to die in style.”

“Well,” I said, reaching for my phone, “That day will have to wait. It’s already two. Are you ready to go?”

Liz stuffed her half of the cookie in her mouth, red lipstick smearing a little. Then she chugged her drink and grabbed her purse.

The walk to the park wasn’t far, fifteen minutes, but it felt like an hour. I was nervous and liz could tell.

“So what are you trading again?”

“This,” I said, taking an old iPod out from my purse. It was in great condition- the screen wasn’t cracked, and it was only half full of songs. “The guy was willing to trade his old film camera for it.”

“Oh yeah,” she said, turning the iPod over in her hands,” I remember you saying something about wanting to get into photography. Why film?”

I smiled, “Film is superior to other mediums. It doesn’t lie. It doesn’t use microchips to convert a real image into digital; it is real. I’ll show you when I start taking pictures.”

Liz shrugged. She didn’t get it yet, but she would.

“Thanks for coming with me by the way,” I said, taking the iPod back as she handed it to me.

She nodded, “Buddy system is best. Do you know what the guy looks like?”

“He said he’d be wearing a black hoodie.”

“That could be half the people in the park, Joni.”

“Well, just keep an eye out.” We arrived at the park then, and sat down on a bench. IT was warm from the sun, and the warmth felt great on my back.

I scanned the park, looking for a black hoodie. There were many. Liz gave me a look that I knew meant, see? Half the park is wearing black. I just shrugged, and continued to look.

I was about to send him a text saying we’re here, on one of the benches. Are you here yet? When a shadow fell across me and Liz.

“Joni?” He asked. I stared at him. I couldn’t see his face under the hoodie. It was so dark underneath- like the jacket swallowed up any possible light that could have revealed his face.

As I continued to stare, I realized it was his face. Or rather, he didn’t seem to have one. I tried to be polite.

“Uh. Yeah, yes, I’m Joni. Can I see the camera?”

“Of course.” His voice was harsh, as if he’d been swallowing big gulps of sand. If sand had a voice, his would have been what it sounded like. “It’s in excellent condition. I took it earlier to be cleaned- it’s working perfectly.”

When he handed me the camera, the metal body was cold. Liz was frozen next to me. I looked through the viewfinder, opened the back to get a look at the aperture mechanism. He was right- it was perfect.

“Thanks,” I said, and handed him the iPod. When he took it from my hand, I could see his fingers. Black as shadows and just as insubstantial. Like smoke.

He nodded under the hoodie, and stuck the iPod in his pocket. I could feel Liz’s arm grasp mine suddenly, as if she was afraid he would pocket me too.

He took my hand then, and liz held on to me even tighter. I held my breath but all he did was shake my hand and say, “Pleasure doing business with you, Joni.” His hands were very soft.

I looked into where I thought his eyes might be. I could feel the heat on my cheeks and prayed no one else could. Finally he let go, and turned to walk away.

“Wait,” I said, placing a reassuring hand over Liz’s. She was worried over nothing. “I didn’t get your name.”

He turned around. For the first time, I realized he did have a mouth. He smiled, showing off rows of sharp teeth. “We have been called many things. But you can call us… Rick.”

“Bye, Rick. Maybe…”

“Yes?”

“Let me know If you ever have something else you’d like to trade.” I blushed again as I said it, but if Rick noticed, he just continued to smile.

“I will.”

Somewhere deep inside, he felt himself fall apart each second that passed in complete silence, knowing there was only one possible answer to that stupid question he insisted on asking. His heart ached and his whole body was cold and weakened. As much as he tried to hide away his pain and anguish behind a hostile, enraged facade, tears just wouldn’t stop streaming down his cheeks and falling on his coat, each of them hurting as bad as the sharpest of knives stabbing his chest with the truth that, from now on, he was all alone. 

S o l i p s i s

My name is Benjamin. My job is search and rescue.

But not the kind of search and rescue you’re probably thinking of. Instead of navigating dangerous terrain and hiking mishaps, I save people from virtual reality.

Whenever something goes wrong; whenever there’s a malfunction with the neural simulator, and someone stays under too long—whenever somebody’s mother finds them unresponsive after 15 hours and starts to worry that they can’t wake up, my job is to go in after them.

Sometimes there isn’t even a problem. Some kid didn’t realize how long they’d been in there. Happens all the time. Sometimes there’s a bug and they can’t come out of the dive until I’ve fooled around, run an antivirus—and sometimes there’s a real issue, but that’s rare. I’ve never failed to save someone from what’s usually their own stupidity.

Until today.

It seemed pretty typical when I entered the house. His mom sat at the kitchen table, like they usually do, looking up at me anxiously over her folded hands.

“Where is he?” I said.

“He’s right in here.” She opened the door to the bedroom. He was lying on the bed.

I looked him over a bit. His lips were pale and dry, his muscles were slightly tense but looked weak and wasted. I snapped my fingers in front of his face, just to make sure he wasn’t faking. Teenagers will do anything to get attention from their parents.

“Have you got any clue as to what the issue might be?” I asked.

“That’s the thing,” she said. “There isn’t one. Not as far as I can tell.”

“How long has he been under?”

“Two days.” I heard the tremble in her voice. “Thirty-six hours.”

“That’s a long time,” I said. “He must be getting pretty dehydrated.”

She nodded fretfully.

“Don’t worry. I see it all the time. What were his gaming habits like before this?”

She pursed her lips together, and then finally decided to answer me. “To be honest, Isaac has been in there almost 24/7 for several weeks now. Last time I saw him up and walking around, it was only to eat and barely that. He wouldn’t speak to me when I tried to talk to him. We think he’s been sleeping plugged in.”

“Hmm.” I gave the hardware another quick check. “Well, I can’t just yank him out—but you know that. The brain damage could be irreversible.”

She gave a terrified look, so I quickly followed with, “But there are other ways. Let me go try to speak to him. Maybe he can tell me what the problem is.”

Keep reading

Two-Minute Personality Test
By Jonathan Safran Foer

What’s the kindest thing you almost did? Is your fear of insomnia stronger than your fear of what awoke you? Are bonsai cruel? Do you love what you love, or just the feeling? Your earliest memories: do you look though your young eyes, or look at your young self? Which feels worse: to know that there are people who do more with less talent, or that there are people with more talent? Do you walk on moving walkways? Should it make any difference that you knew it was wrong as you were doing it? Would you trade actual intelligence for the perception of being smarter? Why does it bother you when someone at the next table is having a conversation on a cell phone? How many years of your life would you trade for the greatest month of your life? What would you tell your father, if it were possible? Which is changing faster, your body, or your mind? Is it cruel to tell an old person his prognosis? Are you in any way angry at your phone? When you pass a storefront, do you look at what’s inside, look at your reflection, or neither? Is there anything you would die for if no one could ever know you died for it? If you could be assured that money wouldn’t make you any small bit happier, would you still want more money? What has been irrevocably spoiled for you? If your deepest secret became public, would you be forgiven? Is your best friend your kindest friend? Is it any way cruel to give a dog a name? Is there anything you feel a need to confess? You know it’s a “murder of crows” and a “wake of buzzards” but it’s a what of ravens, again? What is it about death that you’re afraid of? How does it make you feel to know that it’s an “unkindness of ravens”?

Taekook .

it’s 2.00 Am. What am I doing with my life?

Kim Taehyung is a prick.

Jung Kook can’t remember the last time he’s wanted to peel the skin off someone’s face just because they smirked. At least ,not a someone who isn’t Kim Taehyung. And here he is, with his arms around Jung Kook’s shoulders, leering at him and smirking at the blonde girl in front of them.

The girl, who had just been about to ask for Jung Kook’s number , blinks up at Taehyung with a bemused look on her face.

“Oh.. are .. are you guys… together?” Her face is flaming red, as red as Hobi hyung’s hair and Jung Kook opens his mouth in horror because, christ, the mere thought of being together with Taehyung is horrifying and of course they…

“Of course we’re together. Right sweetcheeks?” And he leans over , purring into Jung Kook’s ears.

Sweetcheeks? What the fuck was that?!

But the damage was done and the girl scarpers off before Jung Kook can voice his displeasure at the ferret.

“What the fuck are you doing? I was talking to her!” He hisses out in anger but Taehyung merely shrugs.

“Her nose is off center and she giggles like a fucking hyena. You can do better Jeon.”

Kim Taehyung is a sap ( when drunk )

Jung Kook watches the blonde as he tumbles over the back of the couch, his long legs hitting the coffee table in Yoongi’s apartment with a deafening crash. He winces. He doesn’t move to help him up because, God, that could go wrong in so many ways. Instead he waits till Taehyung has finally righted himself , apologized profusely to everyone in the vicinity and settled back against the dirty couch before making his presence known.

“You’ve had enough, Taehyung. Lets get the hell outta here.” He prods him at the base of his skull and Taehyungs head lolls forward, his chin hitting the edge of his collar bone.

“Jung Kook… I love you.”

Very few people actively react to the confession because its a standard equation. Kim Taehyung plus alcohol equals love confessions to all and sundry.

“Yes, blondie. I know. Now get your ass off the couch.” Jung Kook walks around to stand in between Taehyung’s legs, hands slipping around his shoulders in an attempt to yank him to his feet. It works quite well and he soon has a swaying , wasted Taehyung, teetering on his toes, one arm draped around his shoulders the other clutching a glass of champagne .

“Will you marry me?”

“Of course. I’m all yours.” Jung Kook is too amused to sound sarcastic.

“Forget about Eunha. I’ll make you happy.”

Jung Kook stifles a smile.

And then it happens. Taehyung kisses him. Its never happened before and Jung Kook is stunned. Too stunned to realize he almost, kinda , maybe a little , likes it. Likes it so much that he kisses back, their tongues tangling and hands getting frisky, right there on the balcony and only when Taehyung knocks one of the flowerpots to the pavement, Jung Kook comes back to his senses.

Taehyung doesn’t remember it the next day and Jung Kook sees no need to change that fact.

Kim Taehyung is an enigma.

“You won’t believe who I ran into today. ” Jung Kook exclaims excitedly , practically flouncing into their shared apartment, a bagful of Taehyung’s favorite snacks and a carton of beer held in his hands. Taehyung relieves him of the baggage and hums a question.

Jung Kook waits till he’s on the couch, pulling off his socks. He wants to share his big news in the most amazing way ever. Like a punchline or something cocky so that Taehyung would be like No shit ! Potter really?! Wow! That is totally awesome!

He glances at the blonde , who’s pouring a glassful of beer ( which is totally dumb ) and finally gives up. He’s never been good with words and he can’t wait to get the news out.

“Eun Ha. She’s back from Egypt.”

The sound of shattering glass has him on his foot, staring wildly at Taehyung who has blood running down his palms and is looking at him with a blank expression on his face.

“Oh, shit, are you alright, Taehyung?” He rushes to his side but the other is already swearing and kneeling right into the shards on the floor and Jung Kook rolls his eyes , slipping an arm underneath the guy’s armpits in an attempt to pull him away from the massacre on the floor. But Taehyung pushes him away. So hard that Jung Kook collides with the dining table catching himself at the last second.

“i.. I’m fine. ” Taehyung is shaking, his eyes flitting wildly between the shattered glass on the floor and the blood in his hand. He mutters something and without warning punches the dining table, nearly splintering the wood.

The pain seemed to bring him to his senses,

“Oh, fuck. I’m sorry, I-” Taehyung looks clinically insane and Jung Kook reaches out, stopping him from hurting himself further..

“Hey. Its alright. You.. you should take it easy. I’ll take care of this.” Jung Kook mutters.

He wants to take care of the cut on Taehyung, but he’s not particularly good at that.

He carefully cleans the cut on Taehyung’s smooth skin and tapes it up. He stops for a second to admire his handiwork .

“there, all better.” He places a kiss on Taehyung’s finger and feels his entire body seize up. Taehyung bounds to his feet and with a mumbled ‘goodnight’, disappears into his bedroom. The sound of the door slamming follows almost immediately after and Jung Kookis left blinking in confusion.

“You’re welcome!” He calls out to the closed door.

He doesn’t get a response.

Kim Taehyung is a life saver.

From : KTaehyung.

To : JJkook

Whr r u? Meeting starts in ten. They’re picking ppl for promotion exams in may. Don be late you fool.

From : JJKook

To : KTaehyung

Shit. 4got abt tat. Taehyung help me out. Promised  Eunha will take her out for dinner. Cover for me.

From : JJKook

To : KTaehyung

Tae?

From : KTaehyung

To : JJKook

K.

From : JJKook

To : KTaehyung

I love you, dude. You’re the best.

Kim Taehyung is the best roommate ever.

Taehyung walks into the apartment at the precise second when Jung Kook has managed to wiggle his hands underneath Eunha’s blouse. The blonde freezes on the spot and Jung Kook curses his impeccable timing , as always.

“Tar. I.. We..” He stops as Eunha scrambles to her feet, adjusting her clothes with disturbing quickness and smiling, wide-eyed and blushing .

“Oh, Taehyung. You’re home?” She moves forward but Taehyung is already shrugging his coat back on. He waves his wallet a bit.

“I was just here to get this. You guys.. you should.. you know.. continue with…”

And he leaves quickly , before any of them could be more embarrassed.

Eunha smiles at the locked door and turns to Jung Kook.

“He’s a lot more handsome now.” She says, running a finger up and down his jaw.

Jung Kook is too busy staring at the freckled skin of Eunha’s neck to make sense of her words.

“Who? Tae? Oh.. Yeah.. He’s awesome. Now, where were we?”

Kim Taehyung is an idiot.

“ Taehyung, why would you-?” Yerin looks stunned when she finds out that Taehyung is the blind date Eunha has set her up with. Didn’t Eunha know about how badly the guy was in love with Jung Kook??

Taehyung quickly shushes her and drapes an arms around her shoulder and squeezes. Jung Kook frowns, not sure why he’s manhandling the poor girl.

After dinner, Jung Kook moves to the rest room and Yerin goes to talk to some of her friends at the other table. When they return, Eunha is flushed and red.

“You’re still the world’s biggest git , Kim Taehyung. Jung Kook,I’d like to leave.” She gets up, prodding Jung Kook’s shoulder. Jung Kook catches the sneer on Taehyung’s face and automatically mouths what did you do?

Taehyung shrugs , calmly drinking his wine and making no attempts to apologize for whatever he’s done to Eunha.

Later, Jung Kook confronts him.

“What the fuck was that?”

“Maybe you should ask your precious Eunha.”

“She’s too nice to tell it out loud. She told me she doesn’t want to come between the pair of us. What the hell did you say, you moron?” Jung Kook snaps.

Taehyung looks stunned.

“Forget it, Jeon. Since you’ve already decided who’s mistake this is, I’m not going to hang around and justify myself.”

“You’re a fucking idiot!” Jung Kook screams at his retreating back.

The door slams shut in his face .

Kim Taehyung is heartless.

“I’m moving out.” Taehyung announces and Jung Kook works hard to keep his face neutral. Like it isn’t really a big deal. Like best friends ceased existing without warning and friendships dissolved everyday.

“Fine.”

Taehyung packs all his clothes and stops at a Mario figurine.

“I’m taking this.” He says , quickly picking the toy up.

“What-No! I paid half! And we bought it for the house. So its supposed to stay in the house.” Jung Kook snaps, holding his hand out. Taehyung sneers.

“Whatever. It getting a new house. I bet its sick of sticking around with you anyway”.

Jung Kook opens his mouth in shock and then pounces on Taehyung. They roll around on the couch, the carpet and the coffee table till their hair sticks up in odd angles and they’re both breathless and panting.

“I’m not letting you leave with that.” Jung Kookglares.

“I’m not leaving without it.” Taehyung glares right back.

“So don’t!” Jung Kook snaps. Taehyung looks stunned and then collapses against him.

“Fine.” He mutters.

Jung Kook fights to keep the goofy grin off his face.

Kim Taehyung is unpredictable.

“I proposed.” Jung Kook says casually.

Taehyung doesn’t reply. They’re both sitting on the stairs leading to the terrace and Taehyung is smoking .

“She said yes.”

The cigarette drops to the floor and Taehyung snuffs it out before turning to him with a smile.

Its wide and bright and blinding and so fucking artificial that Jung Kookis embarrassed.

“TAe, I…”

“I’ll kill you if you apologize.”

Jung Kook gulps, nodding.

“I might not make it to the wedding.” Taehyung says casually and Jung Kook feels a bit wronged. Maybe Tae was a little possessive of him but missing his wedding?

“What? No! Come on, Tae… I was hoping you’d be my best-”

And Taehyung explodes.

“Okay stop! Okay! I’ve had enough of you and your fucking obliviousness and God knows I’ve put up with more shit that any half-wit should but I’m not going to stand here and pretend I’m happy for you and that its alright for me to come and stand next to you in a big fucking church while you swear your love to some other …” He stops , glares and rushes out and Jung Kookis too stunned to do more than blink.

What the hell was that?!

Jung Kook doesn’t go after him but when he does reach home he finds that Taehyung has vanished. With his things.

And he has left the Mario behind.

Kim Taehyung is gay.

“He is what?”

“He’s gay , Jung Kook. Everyone knows that.” Hoseok gives him a look. Jung Kook tries not to have a panic attack.

“What- No! He isn’t…I mean.. I’d know.. I’m his best friend and-”

“He’s always hanging around with you and hugging you and holding hands and shit. How can that not be gay?” Namjoon snickers and Hoseok elbows him on the ribs. Jung Kook however is too mindfucked to notice.

“That-That’s just Tae. I mean its like me and Jimin, I mean its nothing new or different-”

“Me? When was the last time I got drunk and asked you to marry me?” Jimin rolls his eyes.

And the kiss.

And the hugs and the frisky hands and the lingering glances and the stupid nicknames and the home cooked meals and the way he would take a day off every time Jung Kook caught a cold and-

Taehyung likes me.

like, really really, likes me.

and maybe, kinda, just a little bit, I like him?

Jung Kook feels his breath catch. He isn’t … gay. He isn’t. He’s attracted to Eunha. even though he feels a little fake around her , like he’s acting unlike him but that’s expected. You can’t just be yourself with the girl you love right?

Right?

But his mind isn’t agreeing and he keeps getting flashes of being himself with  Taehyung.

He needs to get his head on straight.

So he goes right up To Eunha’s apartment.

And finds her in bed with some other guy.

Kim Taehyung is a smug bastard.

“ I’m sorry.”

Taehyung looks up from his place in Yoongi’s couch and raises an eyebrow. Yoongi is on vacation with Jin for a month and Taehyung is crashing here for the duration. At least that’s what Jimin says.

“That day at the restaurant. She came onto you didn’t she?” Jung Kook studiously stares at Taehyung’s face although he wants to look away.

“Does that make a difference?”

“I suppose not. I just.. I wanted to apologize. ”

“Apology accepted.” Taehyung doesn’t look up from his position, face down on the couch.

“I called off the wedding.”

There is just a tiny fraction of a pause.

“A simple sorry will do.” Taehyung shrugs.

Jung Kook curses the stubborn blonde and prods him on the shoulder.

Taehyung finally turns around.

“Jeon, I don’t have time for-”

Jung Kook cuts him off with a kiss. Its frantic and fast and over before Taehyung can even acknowledge it .

Taehyung blinks .

“What was that?” He doesn’t look angry . Just curious.

“I’m not gay!” Jung Kook blurts out. Taehyung raises an eyebrow and if he’s fighting laughter on the inside, it doesn’t show on his face.

“You aren’t?”

“No.. I mean not in general.”

“In general?”

“Yeah, but you, you’re like… different. An exception. Like an anomaly. ”

“An anomaly?”

“Yeah, you know, like the deviation from the normal. Not that you aren’t normal. Because you are. You’re normal. But not in a boring way. You aren’t boring.” Its a train wreck and Taehyung thinks that Jung Kook’s lucky that Taehyung’s already madly in love with him because there’s no other way he’d enjoy this confession.

“Christ, Taehyung. A little help here?” Jung Kook finally grunts looking heavenward in exasperation. Taehyung carefully wraps a finger around the waistband of Jung Kook’s pants and yanks him to the couch. Jung Kook yelps. Lands on the taller boy with a plop.

“You’re so clueless , ?Jeon its rather endearing.”

Jung Kook rolls his eyes.

“I just-”

Taehyung kisses him, slow and smooth and Jung Kook whimpers , the sensation new and frightening. He opens his mouth instinctively and Taehyung pushes his tongue in , the soft pink muscle exploring his mouth with relaxed patience. Jung Kook tightens his fingers on Taehyung’s shirt and groans as their hips make contact.

He suddenly realizes that he’s having a little problem down there and tries to rise up but collapses again when Taehyung wraps his arms around his waist and yanks.

“Fuck.” Taehyung hisses when Jung Kook’s arousal grinds into his hips and he cants his hips forward till they’re lined against each other, breath coming out in pants, grinding down between each exhale.

Jung Kook waits a bit, swallows the saliva pooling in his mouth and can’t bring himself to look up at Tae. Instead he shifts a bit more and tries to look for some reaction , anything that says this isn’t alright but what he gets is -

“Oh, fuck.. ” Taehyung’s eyes are glassy, his breath whooshing out in a gasp. Jung Kook wants to sit back up, suggest moving this to the bedroom but the moment he rises himself to his elbows he gets hit by a bout of vertigo and his blood rushes south, collecting somewhere around his belly button and he groans.

White noise fills his ears as Taehyung kisses him. Slow and deep, his fingers tangling into Jung Kook’s messy black hair, massaging his scalp. One hand slips up his shirt and traces his stomach muscles , fingers pebbling the nipple and eliciting a yelp of pleasure from his mouth.

Jung Kook feels fingers ghosting on the front of his pants and he returns the favor, shocked to find Taehyung equally hard.

At first it seems a rather pointless attempt at friction. Jung Kook can guess that this isn’t going to get them off, but a particularly forceful impact sets his nerve endings on fire and he grinds down , eager for more. Taehyung flips them over and even though their dicks aren’t aligned completely, they fall into a rhythm.

Its not perfect and its not something anyone would even consider doing but its them. And its fucking perfect.

And suddenly Jung Kookis hit by the thought that this is Taehyung and they’re doing this and he feels the familiar tug at the pit of his stomach .

“Shit, Tae I think I’m gonna-” He feels Taehyung’s fingers reaching between them, pushing against his cock through the fabric of his slacks .

“Yeah- fuck- Jung Kook…” Taehyung grunts and grinds down and in a frenzy of heated hips, they both come into their pants , shuddering .

Jung Kook tries to calm his pounding heart and collapses against Taehyung’s chest. His nose tickles as he burrows it into soft blonde hair.

“I’m good aren’t I?” Taehyung grins.

“Shut up, you smug bastard.”

Kim Taehyung is amazing.

When Jung Kook pushes into Taehyung he has a million thoughts warring inside his head as he pants into the pillow next to Tae’s head. The sensation surrounding his cock is otherworldly ; tight and warm and hot and fiery and he can’t help but wonder if his brains gonna be fried by the time they’re done with each other.

But the thought of this hurting Taehyung is keeping his pleasure at bay.

“Are you all right? Is this okay? Am I hurting you too much? Fuck Am I doing this right? Should I stop? I’ll stop.” He pants, staring into the blonde’s face.

But Taehyung reaches out, fingers curling at the base of his neck, his eyes squeezed shut as he pulls Jung Kook down for a kiss.

Jung Kook relaxes into the kiss, angles his hips carefully and pushes, brushing against the blonde’s prostate and enjoying the way he keens and shudders, back arching off the bed and mouth open in a 'O’.

“I love you Kim Taehyung. You’re so fucking amazing.”

Story 225: Changelings

Stacey froze, no longer concerned that she might be late for Calculus.  She was certain the figure in front of her wasn’t human.

It was too beautiful at first glance, and too hideous on the second.  Like a life-sized Barbie doll, it fell right into the Uncanny Valley - nobody had a waist that thin, eyes that large.  The longer she stared the more predatory the thing’s smile looked.  Something about the… woman… reminded her very much of a praying mantis.  It was watching Stacey watching it, waiting to see her reaction.  So she gave a small bow.
“Do you know what I am, little one?”  Stacey thought about being offended at ‘little one’ - she was nineteen - but figured the thing in front of her was potentially hundreds of years old so she let it slide.  Lying, Stacey shook her head.

“I am a fey, child.  I have come to bring you home with me.  Where you belong.”  The voice was musical.
“I… actually belong in math class right now.”
The thing looked confused.  It hadn’t liked that reaction.  "You have no need for math.  You are not of this world.  You are a changeling, a fey who gains strength by being raised with the humans.  Surely you have felt that you are different, that you do not belong here?“
Half right, Stacey thought.  Certainly she had been painfully aware at times that she didn’t fit in.

She struggled sometimes.  She didn’t have as much empathy as she was supposed to, she was sure of it, and that meant she had to just pretend to feel sorry for people and resist the urge to do little spiteful things like trip someone that was walking by with their arms full.  She told her mother once, "I don’t know if I love you like I’m supposed to.  I don’t know if I feel anything like I’m supposed to.” but rather than hurt or horror there was a long hug and an even longer talk, about just how many people in the world felt the same way and by the end of it her face was damp and a tightness in her chest she hadn’t been aware of had released and she thought, if I can feel this right now then it’s not all fake.  She didn’t pretend around her mom after that; if she didn’t care about something she would say so and if her mother said 'I love you’ she would sometimes say it back and mean it and sometimes just say 'I know’.

Today was an 'I love you’ day, though.  "Would I be able to return?“
Once again the fey looked confused.  This wasn’t how the conversation was supposed to go.  "You should not want to return.  You should feel only relief at meeting your true family.  Perhaps we left you too long.”
“Yeah, maybe,” she said.  That wasn’t it at all, of course.  Oh, sure, there had been a phase she went through when she was six where she couldn’t wait for the fairies to come and take her away and angrily told her family as much whenever she felt the least bit slighted - but that hadn’t lasted long.  She thought about explaining, but decided that could wait.  She had an important question to ask.  "So, if I’m a changeling, what happened to the human child?“
"The…?  Oh.  Given to Elven royalty, I believe.  Though they tire of the humans once they begin to grow older, so it may have been gifted elsewhere by now.  It doesn’t matter.”
It didn’t know, or care.  That wasn’t a total surprise.  Stacey could feel her heart beating as she thought about what had to happen next.  She reached into her purse, for the special box she carried with her at all times.
“You’re so beautiful, let me give you a gift.”  Vain and greedy, the stories had said, and sure enough the fey leaned down to allow Stacey to clasp a golden chain around its impossibly thin neck.  It started screaming as soon as the latch closed.

“No!  This is not gold!”
“It’s gold plated,” Stacey said, “and you need to quiet down or you’re going to draw too much attention to us.”  In fact, there were already some looks from the other kids heading to class or back to their dorm rooms.
Looking less beautiful already, the thing reached up repeatedly to claw at the thin chain - and then pulled its hand away like something had stung it.  "You would do this to your own kind?  You would bind us in iron?“
"Yeah.  Sorry,” she lied.  She was having a really hard time feeling any empathy for the thing.  Mainly she was just glad the iron worked - it seemed to be dependent on intent more than anything.  A horseshoe hung over a door for luck could be ignored, one hung up specifically to keep fairies out would give her a migraine if she tried to pass it.  Her little brother had once placed a railroad spike in the hallway to keep her from getting to the bathroom, and she had retaliated by making his teeth fall out.  By accident, mostly - she hadn’t thought it would actually work.  They formed an uneasy truce after that, under threat of mom’s wrath.

“You have been corrupted by the humans!” the fey cried, as if she - it - knew Stacey was thinking of her family. “We are your true kin!”
“No.”  Enough of that, Stacey decided.  "Not 'true’ family.  You’re just my biological family.  And you’re neglectful and abusive.“  She could feel an angry heat inside her, and took a deep breath to calm down.  She hadn’t expected to feel so strongly about it.  "You didn’t trick my mom - she figured it out after just a month or so, okay?  I suppose in the old days she would have left me in the woods or something, but it’s not the middle ages anymore.  She just… Googled it and did her best.  Never lied to me about it, either.  So no, I’m not a changeling.  I’m adopted.”
The thing paced back and forth, glaring at Stacey while she took her phone out.  "Speaking of… Mom?  Hey!  It happened, just like you said it would!  Yes, the fey!  No mom, I’m fine.  I promise.  Yes, I would tell you.  It’s okay.  No, it’s wearing the necklace.  Listen, can you call the school and tell them I had to go home for a family emergency or something?  I’m going to do it.  Yes, mom.  I’m sure.  No, I know it’s dangerous.  I know mom.  I love you too.  I’ll be back soon, you’ll see.“

Hanging up, Stacey smiled her own predatory grin at the fey.  "You’re going to take me back to where you came from,” she said, “but I’m not going to stay.  You took something from my family, my real family, and we want it back.  You’re going to help me find my twin sister.”

So I met this guy the other day

who told me how once he was on this road trip, and he was passing through some little mountain town. Apparently, he gets out of his car to go get dinner at this pub, when out of nowhere this dog, he said it was a beagle or something, runs up and bites him right on the ankle, and then takes off running. An older guy was coming out of the pub and sees what happened, and is like “oh shit! The dog that bit you, did it draw blood?”

And at this point, the guy is freaking out, like, was the dog rabid or something?

The old man looks at him gravely and tells him no, it’s worse. He’s cursed. Anyone he bites is doomed to itch constantly. The guy actually starts laughing now, he says “okay, you really had me going there!”

And the old man looks him dead in the eye and says “Don’t leave town tonight. At sundown it’ll start.”

Anyway, so the guy leaves town anyway because this is clearly a crock of crap. But as he’s checking into his hotel a few hours down the road, sure enough he starts itching. And itching. And itching. No way this is a curse, he says.

But it doesn’t go away. He tries showering, he tries oatmeal baths, he eventually even shaves his entire body but nothing works. Even doctors can’t find anything wrong with him.

After months of non stop itching with no relief, he finally decides to go back to the town where he got bit.

He finds the old man at the pub, who says he wondered when he’d be back. Last time this happened the victim was back in a week.

“Last time?”

“Oh, sure, that old mongrel is a mean one alright. But you’re in luck, he’s been knocking up the fine lady dogs of this town left and right.”

The guy asks, “why does that make me lucky?”

Turns out, the old man tells him, he has to go find which litter of puppies the cursed beagle sired. So he and the old man go around seeing all the puppies in town. “Grab the runt of the litter an’ give it a cuddle” the old man instructs.

The guy is desperate by now and doesn’t even question. He spends several days hugging puppies, but to no avail.

Then one morning, reading a paper at the local diner, he turns the page with one hand while itching his neck with the other, and sees a classified ad for puppies who were found, abandoned outside the animal shelter the next town over.

He and the old man drive out to meet the pups. They’re a squirmy bumch, but clearly half beagle. The guy grabs for the nearest one, but the old man stops him. You need the runt, he says.

The man looks the littlest ball of pudge, suddenly apprehensive. “We don’t have to hurt it, do we?”

“Hurt it?! Yer gonna adopt it, sonny.” The old man cackles.

So the guy takes the tiniest puppy, picks him up, and rubs his face into the fur.

Miraculously, the itch is gone! He shouts and laughs for sheer joy! Itching relieved, suddenly he wants a scientific explanation. Why did that work?

“Simple.” Said the old man. “The best cure is the little heir of the dog that bit ya.”

Overwatch Short Fiction: Failure

(AN: Okay, so… my midterms didn’t go great. So I wrote this as a sort of therapy, an emotional catharsis if you will. Something I kinda needed. But I hope you guys all like this too. It’s also a bit long? Longer than my normal short fics, at least.)


Originally posted by condvit

               Jesse thought it was odd that you weren’t immediately in the living room when he arrived home. He was used to you being there to greet him when he came from missions. Or coming home at all, really. But the house was deathly silent. Not filled with the sounds of your activity, like normal. He slowly stepped in, undoing his serape and throwing it onto a nearby coat-rack. “Darlin?” He asked, undoing his boots and glove.

               No response. He blinked, scratching his beard idly. This was certainly beginning to seem like an odd situation. He plodded along, deciding to look for you. He knew you were home, you had to be. You would have mentioned to him if you weren’t going to be there. He peeks into the kitchen, looking around for a moment. For a moment he was almost sadder by the fact that dinner wasn’t being cooked. He loved your cooking. But his real concern was still the fact that you were missing.

               “Babydoll, you there?” He called again into the back of the house, hoping you’d respond. Still nothing. Now he was starting to get truly concerned. If only Ana was easier to get a hold of, he thought. He would deploy her intelligence gathering skills to find you, if necessary. “Okay, uh…” McCree sighed, pacing a bit. He was at a loss for how to proceed. Should he call one of your friends? See if you had told them if you’d be late or out of the house? Maybe he should wait a little bit to see if you turn up? But what if something had happened to you? The possibilities swirled in his head.  “C’mon Jesse, get it together…” He growled at himself, trying to regain focus.

               As he was walking toward the bedroom to have a seat, he stopped. He heard something coming from that room. Was it… crying? His pace quickened as he walked toward the door, grasping the handle and opening it with swift purpose. The room was dark; the curtains had been drawn across the window and the lights were off. McCree reached to the wall with his other hand, turning on the lights. And there you were, on the bed. His momentary relief at finding you was short lived, however, as he discovered what state you were in. You were curled up in as tight a ball as you could, sobbing. The instant he realized that sound was your crying, his heart broke.

               “Y/N…? Sweetheart what’s wrong?!” All of his previous concern was thrown out the window and replaced by worry for your well-being. He moved quickly to the bedside, wrapping his arms around you and bringing you into a warm embrace. You barely registered he was there. You didn’t answer immediately. The crying had taken away your voice; there wasn’t much else you could do but sob. Weakly you lift a hand to hold onto his arm. Looking around, McCree finally noticed a paper was sitting next to you on the bed. Picking it up, he examined it. While he couldn’t quite understand it, he did realize it must have been an assignment from one of your courses. Or test. And the large red mark with the low grade gave him an indication of why you were so distraught. He knew how seriously you took your studies.

               “… Oh sweetheart…” His voice was low, gentle, and concerned as he realized the situation. It was only now that you could finally find the words. “I’m so stupid!” You shout amidst your tears. “I studied so much! Crammed in so much information and I couldn’t do that right! God I’m such an idiot!” Your voice was filled with such sadness and self-hatred. McCree couldn’t stand to see you this upset and self-loathing.

               “Darlin’, no. You’re so smart!” His embrace became tenderer, warmer, as he pulled you in closer. He shifted you so your head rested against his chest. “The fact that you’re this far means you’re so smart and driven. You got such an amazin’ mind, Y/N.” You bury your face in his chest, the crying having yet to cease. “Everyone’s gonna run into roadblocks. But I know you’re smart and passionate enough to make it around this one.” His voice implied just how strongly he believed this. He wanted his conviction to help convince you of your brilliance. You shake your head. “But what if this means I can’t pass?! What if I can’t handle the rest of the course?!” You reply, still in hysterics. McCree shakes his head, looking down at you. He brings a finger gently under your chin, lifting your head up so you meet his gaze.

               “I know you can handle it. And even if you don’t pass, there’s no shame in retakin’ it. And you’ll come back, better than ever, and I know you’ll kick ass either way.” The one thing that helped was how much you valued McCree’s opinion. Your tears slowly ebbed; you lift your hands to wipe them away from your face. He continues to look down at you, a soft smile forming. “I believe in you, Y/N… you can do this.” Slowly, you wrap your arms around him, holding yourself close. He sighs with a bit of relief as you seemed to be calming down. “There’s my Y/N…” He cranes down to place a gentle kiss on the top of your head. “We’ll make it through this, together. I’ll be by your side the whole way…”

               You let out a heavy sigh, still wracked by your previous hysterical state. Those words meant a lot to you right now. Knowing he would be there made a lot of difference. Looking back up at him, you just offer a silent nod in return. “But… there’s somethin’ I’m gonna ask of you, babydoll…” You cant your head, curious about what he meant. He then looked at you with a surprisingly stern expression, shaking his head. “Yer not gonna put yourself down like that again, I ain’t gonna allow it. You’re brilliant, understand?” Despite the stern look on his face, you knew his intentions, and it was honestly touching. You nod again. “Okay…” You finally speak again. With that, the smirk returned to his face.

               “Now… I want you to relax tonight, okay? Lemme handle dinner and everything else… and I want you to rest your mind, you’ve been through a lot today.” McCree stood up, offering his hand to you. You take it as he lifts you up off the bed. His free hand deftly wraps around your waist. “Just leave it to me.” He says with a wink. You look up to him with a somewhat pensive expression. “Can… we stay in tonight? I’d… rather be with just you.” You ask, your voice still a bit unsteady. McCree brings you in close, nodding. “Of course, I wouldn’t have it any other way.”

               And for the first time that evening, even if it was just a little, you give him a little smile. You lay your head on his chest again, feeling the tense energy you had before leaving you. “… Thank you, Jesse. I… I love you.” He slowly rubs your back, kissing you gently. “I love ya too, Y/N… you’re a wonderful person, and I just want you to remember that.”

theverge.com
Sci-fi author Nnedi Okorafor on creating an interstellar coming-of-age story
Nnedi Okorafor is one of the most exciting authors writing science fiction and fantasy today, and we really enjoyed her Binti stories when we read them earlier this year. She’s currently an associate professor of creative writing and literature at the University of Buffalo, and has won widespread acclaim for her work, including the World Fantasy, Hugo, and Nebula awards.
By Andrew Liptak

Aisle 13

by Justina Ireland


It’s two days before the last day of school, and I’m sitting in my Combatives class ready to die of boredom.  Mr. Vaughn is showing a demonstration video on how to slay a basilisk. Again. It was the last question on our final. Only half of us got it right.

I was not one of the lucky few.

No one is paying attention as the warrior in the party uses her reflective shield to distract the basilisk while a mage makes a big deal about putting the creature down with a sleep spell.  We’re all talking and thinking about the summer.

“What did you get in here?” Jeb asks from across the row.

“C,” I say.  “What about you?”

“D minus,” he says, waving his test at me.  His ears droop a little like a chastised puppy. Demons are so sensitive.

I shrug.  “At least you dodged a bullet. No summer school.”

“Yeah,” Jeb looks down at his test morosely.  “But still, you can’t kill a basilisk?  Who knew they were an endangered species?”

Mr. Vaughn is clip-clopping across the front of the room now, arms crossed as he gives one of his “these are skills for the real world” lectures once again. As fun as it is to watch a centaur go off on a tear, I’m over Mr. Vaughn and I’m over this school year.  

I don’t really care about the test, but I do hate when Jeb gets all emo.  “Look, we’re never going to use this anyway.  No one goes adventuring anymore.”

He nods and incinerates his test with a simple fire spell.  No one even glances at him.

“What are you doing this summer?” he asks after a long while, his voice low. He’s still bummed about his bad grade. Maybe I’ll take him out for frozen yogurt after school.  Cheer him up. Sprinkles would cheer anyone up.

I slouch down in my desk, stretching with a yawn.  Mr. Vaughn has given up on his lecture and has retreated to his desk to eat an apple someone brought him.  He’s much calmer now.  It’s probably the apple.  Centaurs freaking love apples.

“Nothing dude,” I say, finally answering Jeb’s question.  “Absolutely nothing.”

*****

The second day of summer vacation my mom tells me I need to get a job.

We’re sitting at dinner eating Mom’s famous tavern stew, which is really just a bunch of random things boiled down to mush.  She’s still dressed in her work clothes: low cut white gown and flower crown.  I asked her once why the clinic makes her wear such a ridiculous outfit, and she just shrugged and said “It’s tradition. This is how healers dress.”  The men have an outfit that is just as stupid, tight white breeches and a flowy tunic, but I still think it sucks that my mom has to dress like a sex object to help people. Like, where is the self-respect in that?

“So, Caitlyn, what are your plans for summer?” Mom asks as I’m about to shovel in some of her stew.  My mouth is full so I just shrug and say “Uhnano.”

“What do you mean you don’t know? No big plans?” Mom is giving me this tight smile that means she wants a specific answer, but I have no idea what she’s looking for here.  It’s summer.  It’s two and a half months of not thinking about magic spells or chemistry or monster identification or algebra or anything, really.  So why is she hassling me?

“I was thinking of maybe taking my mage’s test or something,” I say, hoping it’s enough to distract Mom from whatever she’s about.  Dad isn’t even paying attention to the conversation. As usual he’s nose deep in Berserker Weekly.  Dad used to be this big time adventurer, walking through forests and bashing in heads for fun and profit.  That’s where he met Mom.  I think he saved her from an evil wizard or a druidic cult or something. It was a long time ago, though, and now he mainly consults for a living.

“Oh, that’s a good idea.  After you get your license maybe you could call Marcus and see if he’ll let you work in the Hex shop.  I mean, you should really get a job this summer.  Don’t you agree, Brock?”

A frown creases Dad’s dark face but he grunts in assent.

I take another bite of stew and look down at the bowl to avoid answering. There’s no way I’m going to work in my Uncle Marcus’s Hex shop. The thought of untangling curses all summer makes me want to turn myself into a frog and hide out in the forest.  Not to mention that my Uncle Marcus is the cheapest man alive.  I’d be lucky if he even paid me.

Mom pushes her bowl of stew away and jumps to her feet.  “Good! Caitlyn, I’ll send Marcus a note letting him know you’ll be there tomorrow bright and early—”

“I don’t want to work in the Hex shop. It’s gross.”

Mom stops and turns to me slowly.  Her skin is pale as usual but two spots of color have appeared high on her cheeks.  She is pissed.  “Removing hexes is not gross.  Your uncle gives those people their lives back.”

“A woman with boils all over her face is pretty gross, Mom.”  Last year when I had to pick a concentration Mom took me to see Marcus to convince me to pick cursework because it pays pretty well.  I chose spellweaving instead.  I’d rather work in a factory making love charms or fire spells than to have to turn frogs back into snotty princes all day.

Mom purses her lips and turns to my Dad.  “Brock, will you please talk some sense into your daughter?”

“Cursework is disgusting, Mel,” Dad says, lowering his paper.  “Why can’t the girl go adventuring like everyone else her age?”

“No one goes adventuring anymore, Dad,” I say.  Because it’s true. Adventuring is something your parents make you do because they don’t understand that it isn’t cool to slay dragons anymore or that maidens can rescue themselves.

I mean, adventuring is just so lame. Walking around, looking for a prophecy to fulfill, and then working really hard for something that may or may not come true? Yawn. I have better things to do.

“No one goes adventuring, huh?” Dad and Mom exchange a look, like they’re about to laugh at some inside joke.  Then Dad raises his paper again.  “Either way, you’re not going to sit around the house all summer and play video games.  Get a job, Caity-Bird, and if you can’t find one then your mother will call Marcus and you can spend all summer waking princesses.”

And that’s how I end up working at the Shop Quick.

Keep reading

gdmora  asked:

Hi there! I love your writing so far! I was wondering if I could request Mccree and Reinhardt with a chubby and self-conscious s/o?

Ah! I had so much fun writing this since I’m also extremely self conscious and these are some of my favorite characters! You didn’t specify if you wanted HC’s or short fics so I did some short fics and I hope what I wrote is okay but if it’s not I will certainly change it to HC’s! Hope you enjoy!
~Mod Fennec

McCree
Emotions were stupid. Well, some of them at least. The stupid ones. Like anxiety, fear, angry, sadness, the not fun ones. The ones that made you insecure. The ones that prevented you from the fun ones like loving your boyfriend and self or confidence. You slowly ran a hand along your belly. You thought it poked out too much and considered yourself chubby and despite your boyfriends constant love you hated it. You scowled in the mirror you were looking in and fell backwards onto your bed. Did Jesse really think you were pretty? Maybe he was just saying that out of pity? You felt tears prick your eyes. Maybe he actually hated you. Did he just hang out with you because of pity? You felt a few tears threaten to fall. Poor you didn’t have any friends. You were to fat for that-too ugly. You felt a few tears fall. You continued to overthink but your thoughts were interrupted by a knock at your door. Hurriedly wiping your eyes, you opened the door. “Jesse?!”, You exclaimed in surprise, “I-I thought you were on a mission!” You finished, hugging him. “Well, I told them I needed to see you, doll, and with my charm they just swooned and agreed.” He said smirking. You rolled your eyes, “The mission was shorter then expected, wasn’t it you cocky narcissist?” You teased. McCree just smirked holding up his hands, “Ya got me-darlin’! What the matter, sweet pea?!”, he said suddenly. You froze. Your nose and eyes must’ve still been red from crying. Sighing a little, you looked down. “Doll? Darlin’? Sugar pea? Honey bun?”, Jesse said quietly, encouraging you to speak. You felt a few tears fall as it all cam flooding out as you once again voiced your insecurities. “Oh darlin’…” Jesse muttered quietly before walking in and sitting down with you on the bed as he listened to you. Once you finished, he picked up your face with his hands. His cool metal one brushing away tears while his flesh one fixed your hair as he talked. “Look at me, darlin’. You’re beautiful just the way you are. If anyone says other wise,” he gave a short bark of laughter, “Then screw ‘em! What do they know about you? You’re gorgeous and I love your soft belly. It’s healthy to have a belly like that, y'know? I’d rather have you than any of those skinny sticks caked in makeup. I love ya, because you’re you and you’re beautiful just like that. So, don’t you ever change just because you’re insecure or because you think it would please me.” He said, kissing you’re forehead. “I’ve got my insecurities too,” he said, gesturing to his metal arm, “But I wouldn’t stop wearing my prosthetic just ‘cause i thought you’d like me more, because I know ya love me for my personality and I’m the same. I see your beautiful personality which shines brighter than the sun before I see your gorgeous body-so don’t ever change for me because I love you just the way ya are, doll, and I always wonder how I was some how lucky enough to get ya to love me back.” He said kissing your forehead once again. You smiled a little. He’d always do these speeches whenever you were insecure and you knew he’d do them as many times as he’d have to.


Reinhardt
You sighed happily, watching your giant, German boyfriend, Reinhardt, act out one of his many stories. Exaggerated for what he called dramatic effect of course. He was standing up, waving his arms around while other agents gathered around watching him with amusement. You sighed again, this time though it was a sad one. You didn’t understand how he could be so confident. You struggled with some insecurities, well everyone did, but more specifically-insecurities about your slightly chubby body. You frowned a little before getting up and walking back to your room. You could hear laughter from the crowd and just shook your head. Today wasn’t a great day. You were feeling really insecure and just wanted to be alone. Walking into your room, you closed the door behind you and slid down the back of it until you were sitting on the floor. You felt insecure about your body and hated it, always wondering why Reinhardt loved you. A few minutes later you heard a little too loud knock in your door. “Liebling? You left during my story-is something bothering you?” boomed a voice from the other side. Reinhardt. You got up and opened the door, still frowning a little. “Oh Liebling…” be muttered quietly, his face wilting into a frown as well. He gave you a small hug. “I’ll make some tea.” He said walking in. You sat on the couch and started to rant about you insecurities. While the water boiled he sat with you and listened until you finished. “Liebling…why didn’t you tell me sooner? I’m sorry you had to feel like that alone. Well, what caused to believe such things are lies. You are beautiful, inside and out. That’s why you’re my little maus. My bärchen. Mein schnucki.” He said pulling you into a hug. “You’re perfect to me and I’d love you any form you’d take because I love you for your personality, schnucki. Although, your beauty is a grand bonus.” He said, smiling. You blushed a little, both at his comforting words and German pet names. “I promise you schnucki, I’ll help you build your confidence so you can see yourself how I see you-an amazing girlfriend!” He said, kissing the top of your head. “Now, let’s have some tea.” He muttered as he got up. You softly smiled. His confidence in you wrapped around you like a warm blanket and you knew he’d always be there for you.

(Libeling-Darling
Maus-Mouse
Bärchen-Little Bear
Mein-My
Schnucki-This German word actually doesn’t have an English equivalent but is used as a term of endearment!)
I hope you enjoyed this!

Coffee helps most people stay awake and alert, but for me, coffee takes me to a different dimension. Now, it’s a very subtle thing, changing the dimension you’re in. It’s the same thing as moving slowly, or watching the passage of time: it’s so slow, you almost feel like nothing changed at all. And yet, you can feel somewhere deep inside that something has changed.

It doesn’t matter where I have it or if it’s homemade or from a café. As soon as it slides down my throat, my head feels a little heavy, like it’s too heavy to be supported by my neck. When I was younger, I’d almost faint, but now it’s a lot more under control. Once the initial sip is down, the rest of the coffee doesn’t seem to change much.

And just then, I see the visions of what could have been. At first, I never really understood what I was seeing, and assumed it was just idle imagination. The more I drank coffee, however, the more I realised that these visions followed a pattern. Sometimes, they’d be mundane, like the kind of pizza I ordered would be different. Other times, I could see the horrid beings claw their way in through the doors and windows, shadows spreading across wherever they stalked.

There were always different visions. A coup, a crash, a lottery win, a new job, a friend’s death: the list goes on and on. No two visions repeated, which gave me the impression that my movement through the dimensions was strictly in one direction. I could not return to a previous world. This also meant that my original life could only have been possible if I had never drank coffee at all. Was it worth it?

The next question was, naturally, whether coffee was saving me. To be sure, I’d be saved from a lot of incredible things: alien invasions, wars, shootouts. So many deaths and injuries averted. This opinion became so common that I started drinking coffee every moment I could. I craved it, like an actual addiction, but not because of the caffeine—coffee didn’t seem to have any physiological effect on me, unlike most people. No, I craved it because every time I drank it, I could see something horrible that I’d just saved myself from.

Ultimately, a realisation came to dawn on me. Coffee was my medicine. I was taking it just to keep staying alive, and that all this time, I was dying. I was dying dimensionally. I was fated to die, and every time I drank coffee, I was averting that fate. But why was I granted this ability?

The question has never been answered. All I know is that I hate the taste of coffee. I hate the smell of it. I hate how it feels in my mouth. I hate how much of it I have to keep drinking just to stay sane, and alive.

Maybe I was meant to be dead after all.


Today’s throwback story is about an imaginary friend who is an astronaut.

Welcome to a new kind of posts, a sci-fi short story written by yours truly every tuesday. This is a standalone cyberpunk story, but if you wish to read more stories here’s the masterpost

TOO TIRED FOR THIS

“Now, stay there and behave.” Detective Nguyen yawned and looked at Mark “Valice” Johanssen, his feet and hands handcuffed and sitting on the backseat of his car. Valice replied with a mere grunt, since the gag prevented him from talking.

Nguyen started his car, and the vehicle lifted off with a hum. He entered the destination and activated the autopilot. Estimated time: 27 minutes.

He sighed. The raindrops drummed on the windows, and the soft evening lights created a faint contrast with the lights of the queueing cars.

He yawned again. The palms rustled at a delicate tropical wind on the giant hologram on the building next to him, and he found himself wishing to be on some white beach, even if he never liked the sea nor the hot weather. But to take a nap, his car would have been enough.

Fuck jet lag, fuck this assohole I had to follow on four continents, he told himself while adjusting his coat’s hood to work as a pillow. Enjoying the intimate warmth of his car in the regular traffic, Nguyen closed his eyes. Half-asleep, cuddled by the soft hum of his flying car, he thought about his bed, a small bed in an even smaller apartment… but so comfortable.

He fantasized about taking a day off, maybe two, and relax in his bed, drinking stale coffee in his pajamas and watching the news talking gleefully about the capture of the infamous Valice.

Thunk.

“Don’t knock, I’m not home” he muttered.

Thunk, thunk.

At the third hit, he woke up. The traffic was proceeding as usual, and next to him the hologram of the Inami Bank let virtual banknotes fall from the sky on the queueing cars.

He turned and he saw Valice who had somehow managed to get rid of his seatbelt and was pressing his feet against the window.

“What the fuck are you doing?”

Valice grunted something that sounded awfully like “I sure as fuck am not trying to learn ballroom dancing.” but resumed his sitting position.

Nguyen pressed a button and the seatbelt blocked him again.

“What were you expecting, a pleasure trip? Now please cut the bullshit, you don’t want to make things worse.”

Valice shrugged. Yeah, I mean, with all he did why should he care. Ah well, that’s his problem, it’s not like his doctor told him to become a criminal.

The raindrops became bigger and stronger, and Nguyen made himself comfortable. He still had about twenty minutes.

After what had felt like a couple of minutes but had been actually teen, a loud thud resounded in the car.

“What the…”

Valice grunted, but looked as surprised as him. Nguyen raised his gaze to see a car parked right above his own. The hiss of a laser and the white and red line on the car ceiling told him the rest. He took out his gun and aimed it at the hole that was forming.

Two men with face masks appeared on the backseat, and one of them aimed his gun at Nguyen and shot. He lowered his head and the bullets got stuck on the bulletproof glass.

He heard Valice’s voice.

“Jesus, that took centuries.”

“Sorry, boss.”

Taking advantage of their distraction, Nguyen peered from behind the seat and shot at the two accomplices, who fell one on top of the other.

“Is there someone else who wants to come down?” he yelled at the hole. No answer. He gained back command of his car just to steer all the way to his left, and the car above him lifted off. It took the car some time to find hide in the traffic of another airway, and that meant the driver was escaping.

“You killed them?” Valice looked at the men.

“No, I’m not like you, I don’t kill unless I absolutely have to. But if you cause me more trouble, I might change my mind.”

Seven minutes to his destination. Nguyen yawned.

“Thank you for attending this press conference.” his boss smiled, the robocameras hummed and Nguyen stared at his coffee cup like a terminally ill man looking at an aspirin.

“It wasn’t easy and it has required the work of our best agent, but the famous Mark “Valice” Johanssen is now in the hands of justice!”

The sound of clapping hands reminded Nguyen of the pleasant ticking of the rain.

He heard his boss say something about his fundamental part in Valice’s capture, but everything sounded distant and unreal. The soft wind among the palm trees, however, was so relaxing that he hoped it was real.

WINTERVINE
by Lindsay Smith

I will rule for a thousand years, and none shall defy my reign.

I am the sole queen of these lands. Sole heir to the winter and the forests and the streams, sole arbiter of the echoing city streets of stone. So many would keep me from my throne, my true calling. But I have earned my place. I have shown them all what it means to rule.

It started with my sister. From my first hazy memories I remember her shadow weighing down on me, stifling my every move. “One day one of you must rule,” our father said to us, night after night when we gathered at his feet. “If it must be one of you, then I will be the one to choose.”

How could we learn to be sisters with such a decree? All I wanted was a friend, someone to look up to, someone to whisper to at night to keep the darkness away. But I learned quickly that that was only the surest path to her scorn. She saw me as weak, as foolish, as younger. I would reach out to her to pull me up and she would shove me right back down. I would show her my weakness and she would pry it open wide, ragged and bloody.

I didn’t realize the significance, at first, of what our father wanted us to become. Didn’t know what it meant to be queen, or why it was something worth fighting for. But as I learned from my sister, I learned to covet it, to hunger for it so fiercely that everything else tasted dried out and dull. She wanted to rule so that all would obey her. I wanted to rule so she could not.

The first time she tried to kill me, it was my nurse who gave it away. She woke me up in the dead of night and bundled me into a closet, told me not to make a noise no matter what followed. Then the guards came, swords drawn, visors lowered. They were only boys infatuated with my sister, but at the time everyone seemed impossibly old to me, unstoppably strong. I feared them, but I believed my nurse invincible too.

They taught me, quickly, how wrong I was.

After that, my father sent me to the country for a spell. Armed guards, a fleet of tutors, and an ailing count who watched over me with a gaze like sharpened knives. Sometimes the threats came in letters that the count would burn before he thought I could read them. Sometimes, It was assassins in the night.

Worst of all, though, were the long silences. The heaviness of her inaction dragging me to the bottom, drowning me. I never knew when the next assault would come for me.

Slowly, finally, I could wait no longer.

I found the woman in the country market, slender fingers grazing over her wares of pewter charms and crystals and bundled flowers. Her skin was smooth, her hair like silk, and when she looked my way, I saw the kiss of winter in her eyes.

“You look troubled,” she said, and the words wrapped around me like a soft breeze. “You look far too troubled for someone your age.”

I looked away then, ashamed to be so young. If I was older, if I was cleverer, I wouldn’t have to be sent away. I could prove myself worthy of the crown. I could beat my sister for good, beat her just enough that she’d never need attack me again. How foolish, that I thought winning once would be enough.

“Come closer.” She swept her hand over her goods. “Perhaps I might ease some of your pain.”

I started to meet with her every time I could sneak away from the count’s estate. It wasn’t often, but her lessons in the ways of magic filled me up with a sustenance I didn’t know I craved. I wanted to be her, to share her easy confidence and capability, to bend the world toward me with a subtle call the way she did. Her poultices cleared away blemishes and made water drinkable, but they also could boil blood, shatter bones, freeze a pond. She let me practice these skills as though they were interchangeable. She let me build on them, stringing them together like beads on a necklace, as I practiced on the woods beyond her hut.

The more power I gained, the more I sought. At long last, I understood the hunger in my sister’s belly. For now, I hungered too.

“You have a keen mind for magic,” she told me, when I worked something particularly cruel on a sparrow we found feasting on her garden. “A cruel mind. But I think a girl like you has to be cruel.”

“My sister is cruel. I just wish to survive.”

“Then I hope I’ve equipped you well,” she said. “Be like the wintervine. Feast on cold, on nothingness. For they have given you nothing. Use it to sprout your ice, your thorns.”

I looked at the wintervine where it flourished in the ice, and I felt its loneliness, its stubbornness, its scorn.

At long last I was of age, and my father sent for me once more. The time to choose was drawing near, but, he confided, in some ways he feared us both. His kingdom needed a decisive leader, yes, a sturdy leader, but compassion, too, he said, was called for. He did not see that he’d been the one to rob us of that. He didn’t see the dark seeds he’d planted in both our minds take hold.

My sister began her attempts anew, but this time, I was ready.

The first men she sent to kill me simply disappeared. They became nothing more than char burned into the cobbles of my bedroom floor. The next, though, I made sure she saw, their flayed corpses piled at the palace gates. Cruelty was my reflex, now, and each test made it stronger still.

“You cannot beat me,” she hissed, over a banquet table while our father entertained. “I deserve this. I will earn this.”

She cut her steak with a furious scrape of knife and fork. The noise grated at my soul. When was the last time she had shown kindness? It had been carved out of her, if it had ever been there at all.

Father wanted to make one of us a queen. He wanted someone compassionate. Maybe compassion was still in me; maybe not.

But it would never be in her.

As she swallowed, the lump of meat grew thorns. I could almost feel it myself as I directed it, as it swelled inside her throat, tore its way through her flesh. She gagged and choked, and I imagined she gagged and choked on all the hatred she’d let fester for years and years.

I wanted the coldness, the loneliness I felt to be visible to everyone. I wanted those thorns.

Frost sprouted from my fingertips and webbed across the banquet table. She scrabbled for a goblet of wine to try to wash the meat down, but everything turned cold. A guard stepped forward—but she deserved no kindness, no comfort. I never felt her embrace, so why should she feel the same? He withered, cold and empty, before he could reach her.

“What is the meaning of this?” my father cried. “Stop this at once!”

But the cold was radiant, alive now, warming me even as it drew warmth away from everything. The dark thorns in my sister’s throat flourished, drinking up the cold, and twined their way across the table to wrap around everyone’s limbs. My breath hung in the air before me as I stood, untouched, unsnared by the darkness and frost.

I had to beat her. I could not let her win.

And if I could feel no warmth, no freedom without her darkness over me, then neither could anyone.

I do not remember what came next, but it did not come for a long time. Icicles hung from the chandeliers; black thorns sprouted from the walls. All was still and glistening and cold. I walked through the hall like a phantom, soundless, for it was how I felt. But I was all that remained of my sister’s hatred. I was her greed given form.

And I will rule for a thousand years. With this cruelty beating inside me, my sister’s words, her greed, her anger—with the coldness she left inside me—I will rule for a thousand more.