Friday, June 19, 2015

Day Eight-Seventy-Five: Transferal

July trembled. Inwardly, of course - she couldn’t put her true feelings out on display - but inside, she was trembling. It was all coming together at last.

Watching through an invisible eye she’d installed on her son - she’d done a great many things to ‘upgrade’ him during their months together in her home - July’s stomach had almost folded in on itself as she watched Driscol fall from the bottom of the tower. Not because she cared for him, no, she’d long since rid herself of affection for her son, but because he carried someone very important to her plans. 

She’d never known of any other creature capable of destroying ghosts, after all. Control, yes, but not destroy. And she needed this one destroyed.

“Hurry,” July whispered, her sense of time grossly distorted. Grayson, his face growing red with anger, seemed to be moving at a snail’s pace. Hell, a snail would look positively speedy compared to Grayson… but that wouldn’t remain true for long. Time would catch up soon enough. “Hurry, hurry.”

Spectral fingers plunged out of the bottom of the tower, wrapping around Driscol and his crew and hauling them back into the crumbling brickwork. Though tinged with red and green highlights from the explosions around and below, the tendrils were still pure white, the remnants of a power that was rapidly losing its grasp on the world.

Though Driscol’s eyes were closed, July could see the world beneath. It was unravelling. Falling apart. Her heart ached to see it die - she had lived there for an awful long time, after all - but sacrifices needed to be made.

Driscol slingshotted into the tower, landing hard in one of the few stable rooms still remaining, a circular antechamber decorated with busts of Grayson. He hit the ground with a painful thud, and two of his three passengers rolled out of his grip. The third seemed content to cling to Driscol’s slick, dead hair follicles, squealing loudly.

Beside July, Libby tensed. The motion was so gradual that July could sense every tiny ripple of the younger woman’s muscles as they shifted into action mode, prepped and ready to do… something. July doubted Libby could do a hell of a lot against her son. Judging by the expression on his face, he wouldn’t be playing nice against anyone today.

Driscol pushed himself up and raised his head. Above him loomed the ghostly white figure of a robed man-thing, its elephantine nose jerking spasmodically. It had ditched the axe it was going to use for the execution, opting instead for an almost comically huge war hammer. It hefted the weapon over Driscol’s head, and as its arms moved July spotted purple sparks of light flowing along its pearlescent skin.

YOU… ROBBED… ME…” Philip moaned. The edges of its robe sprouted ghoulish teeth, as though the fabric was the only mouth Philip had left. “I… WAS… KILL… HIM… NOW… YOU… GO… INSTEAD… MY LORD…MY… MY…

The hammer fell. Driscol rolled out of the way with barely a moment to spare, grunting as the edge of the gammer tore away a chunk of the flesh on his left arm. The force of the impact cracked the stonework, leaving a hole in the ground, and through it July spotted stars.

Not long, kiddo, she admonished, simultaneously watching Grayson form his fingers into claws. Hurry up. We’re short on time up ‘ere, eh? You’ve everything ye need, now.

Driscol sneered, but he didn’t respond. He got up with a quick hop and planted one foot on the top of the hammer before Philip could yank the weapon back over its head. Philip howled briefly, then, with a visible twitch, he rendered the hammer insubstantial. It passed through Driscol’s leg like mist, solidifying over Philip’s head. The ghost’s snout lolled back and forth like a tongue in its hood-mouth, as if gloating.

YOU… CAN’T… STOP… US…” Philip brought the hammer around, this time in a horizontal arc aimed at Driscol’s midsection. “YOUCAN’TSTOPUSIT’STIMETOSLEEPTIMETOGOTOSLEEPELEPHANTELEPHANTELELELE”

Driscol tried to pull away, but Philip, perhaps empowered by his madness, was too quick. The hammer clipped Driscol’s side, cracking his ribs. Driscol flew across the antechamber, smashing into one of the Grayson busts and sliding onto the floor. Aribella, huddled nearby, scrambled blindly to get away from the action, and Philip appeared to ignore her as he stalked towards Driscol. Purple blood dripped from the edge of the weapon.

“Always purple,” July noted, pondering. She couldn’t do anything but ponder. “Undead things always seem te wind up purple in the end. Wonder why the devil that is.”

Libby looked at her. The glance took several minutes, however, and July wondered if the sentence had come out of her mouth as an auditory blur. She probably sounded like a mosquito. It was difficult to tell, trapped between two different realities.

Driscol raised one orange arm. The energy it contained - energy July had provided, of course, her son had lost most of his own magic when he’d ‘died’ - rushed out of the hole in Driscol’s shoulder like a piston, smashing Philip in the chest. It staggered, but not as much as July might have liked, and a quick swipe of one of Philip’s claws destroyed the arm. Ochre liquid trickled down his robes and pattered onto the stone.

Philip’s hood formed into a grin, the elephant trunk wriggling as the teeth clenched together. It raised the hammer over its head, and, with startling rapidity, brought the weapon down on Driscol’s right leg. The crack of his reinforced bones snapping made even July wince, and Driscol, though numbed by his undead state, screamed regardless. Apparently even the dead could feel pain, to some degree.

The rat scrambled out of Driscol’s hair and fled across the room. July couldn’t blame it. Driscol was as good as dead. Again. July wouldn’t miss him too much - he was, after all, a failure.

But Philip did not attack Driscol a fourth time. Instead, it focused on the fleeing rat, the hammer flying into the air so awkwardly that it cracked the ceiling. Bits of stone tumbled down onto - and, eventually, through - Philip’s head. The ghost spun to track the rat, bringing the hammer down once, twice, three times, collapsing the floor. Philip ignored gravity, however, and stalked evenly across the hole.


The hammer fell. The rat dodged. The hammer fell again, coming close enough this time that the rat nearly fell into the fresh hole in the floor. On the third stroke, another horizontal slash, the wall crumbled around the rat, trapping it under a heap of rubble. It continued to squeak, and its tail, miraculously unharmed, flailed impotently through a gap in the stone.

Grayson began to speak. No doubt what he’d planned on saying was rather important. But his words changed, abruptly, when his connection to Philip - already rather tenuous - disappeared completely.


Philip did not crush the rat. Philip did not even get a chance to raise his hammer again, not that there was much floor in the antechamber left to smash. It was rapidly collapsing. But there was enough room, just enough, for one ignored Non - a Non given ample time to power up - to unleash his greatest weapon, something far more potent than a stupid ghost hammer. Something, in fact, that he’d used to kill ghosts in the past, even if it had often been an accident.

Plato the Reaper swung his glowing green scythe with a practiced aim that belied his normally-clumsy nature. The blade ripped through Philip’s robes as easily as a clothier snips fabric, releasing a flurry of whip-like tendrils that punctured Philip’s limbs, disintegrating his arms and his legs more quickly than the apocalypse was devouring the tower below. Within seconds all that was left of the spirit was a bald, human head, robbed of its enclosure.

Thanks,” Philip whispered, smiling. His lips moved again, but Plato’s weapon acted too quickly, and he was devoured. 

And July, who’d waited for this moment for several lifetimes, or at least a moment like it, abandoned a body she’d stolen for the last time.


Monday, June 22

The end came swiftly.

The unleashing of the Catastrophe from Dragomir’s body - which, at this point, had become a solid, crystallized pixel with exactly three colours and exactly three segments - wreaked complete havoc on codespace. The very fabric of reality was chaotically re-written, and with it, the world fell apart.

As the tower collapsed the green-and-red tendrils connecting the core of the regulators to the planet snapped. Every rat in existence froze in that moment, whether they were clustered atop the head of a dragon or lurking in a sewer, and collapsed. Millions died; millions more woke up several seconds later with absolutely no knowledge of T.O.E., the Non, the war, the tower, Grayson, or, indeed, anything beyond concerns typical of rats. Balance was no longer a concern.

Survival, however, was, and the newfound freedom of the rats - for they were as much slaves to the regulators as anyone else - was short-lived.

The glitch that was the Catastrophe triggered a truly apocalyptic breakdown of the system. The power unleashed from Dragomir’s insides seeped into codespace, altering command lines and fouling equations that had long kept existence in check. Up was suddenly down; left was suddenly right; birds could fly underwater; bees could lift skyscrapers; the entirety of Pubton teleported into the ground, killing everyone instantly. And now that it had lost its connection to the world, the regulator core consciousness could do nothing to stop the breakdown.

The Imperium soldiers had no idea what was going on when they died. The Non soldiers knew a little better, though they expected that they were being sent back to the abyss from whence they’d come only a few years ago. They were, partially, correct. Even Iko, who managed to ride out the storm in a temple that would always exist, regardless of apocalypses, did not quite understand what was happening.

Only one person understood, fully, the implications of what had happened. And she was ready.

Grayson slumped, twitched, fell back, slumped again, and screamed. He clutched the sides of his head as his eyes rolled back into his skull, his whole body gyrating violently as he began to fade away. He begged and moaned and pleaded to no one in particular, and when that didn’t work he continued to scream.

“Oh my gods,” Libby murmured, the words virtually lost in her son’s death throes. A tear ran down her cheek. “I… this… the fuck is going… on…”

“Ascension,” July muttered back, mostly to herself. She was grinning. “C’mon, ye twat. Take the fuckin’ bait. It’s right here for ye.”

She didn’t need to say it, however. July could already feel the weakened tug of Grayson’s soul as he clawed for something, anything, to use as an anchor. He’d used Philip, dear, departed Philip, as an anchor for more than a year. He’d needed that anchor, because his own disembodied soul was apparently not cut out to be a ghost. And when it was lost -

July tensed as pain blossomed in her stomach. The insistent tug quickly became a piercing jab as Grayson’s soul, disappearing before her eyes, flooded into July’s system. It knew its body, it knew that something was inside the body, and it wanted back in. It needed somewhere to go, because the only other choice it understood was oblivion. That was not an option.

Despite the pain, July grinned, her pallid cheeks flushed. As Libby began to stare at her surroundings - something was happening in paradise, but July didn’t know or care what it was - July began a short conversation with herself.

Ye want in, don’t you? Ye want this lump ‘o flesh back.


Ye know the price, deary. Ye’ve always known.


The pain intensified, but July held fast, drawing on her magic. She knew how to possess people. As such, she also knew how to resist possession.

Give it up. Give it all up. Then ye can have whatever ye wish.


Let go, brat. I’ve won. Let go.

Without another word - another comprehensible word, anyway - Grayson did. And July, or June, or May, or whatever her name may have once been, finally got what she wanted.

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