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About Deviant Artist Aaron WeaverMale/United States Groups :iconi-am-gladius-dei: I-am-Gladius-Dei
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Agarwal Houses

Chapter 2

The Laundromat

Dim lights flickered and buzzed above Shobbi. She knew it was a dream, a really vivid one but she could not wake up. The stink of bleach and something else tickled her nose. Shobbi sneezed. She tried to get up, but her butt seemed to be glued to the chair. On her left and right, washing machines crusted with some sort of brownish filth spun and gurgled. Shobbi looked into the window of the one on her right to see what was being washed, but the roiling black liquid revealed nothing. Her head felt like it was spinning after a few minutes. Shobbi shook it to clear her mind.

Shobbi looked around the laundromat. The walls were covered with some sort of black nasty liquid that slid downward. On the floor there was a mixture of soap suds, and detritus she really didn't want to try to identify. In the distance, something screamed a rusty cry of despair. It was repeated by a washing machine near her. It shook and then stopped.

Again Shobbi tried to rise up from her chair, that attempt failed. She looked at her arm, and noticed that it was white instead of brown. Two copper armbands jingled when she moved her arms. Shobbi wondered who she was this time. There was not too much time to think because the washing machines started to scream and shake.

The screaming started at the back of the laundromat which was shrouded in darkness because the buzzing lights were dim. A chill raced down her back. Shobbi peered into the darkness to see what was coming. As she expected, the lights at the back of the laundromat flickered, and went out. After a few minutes, the washing machines next to her shook and screamed.

Now, the dark room was silent except for the buzzing light above Shobbi's head. That was the only place where there was light. It was dim, but she was happy for any light. Water splashed in the darkness then something fleshy hit the ground with a splat. Three more followed the first one.

Something in the darkness started to walk toward her. The dim lights started to blink slowly, so slowly that Shobbi was in darkness for a full second. She tried to get up again, her legs ached at the effort, but the chair held her down. What ever was in the darkness was walking toward her with a faster gait. The rhythm suggested that it had four limbs instead of two. The light came on, and Shobbi got a glimpse of what was coming for her. The creature was still some distance away.

It looked like a man, one that was crawling on his hands and feet. There was something off about his head, but Shobbi could not see it clearly at that distance. Darkness filled the room. When the lights came back on, the man like thing was halfway down the aisle. Fear filled her heart as she wondered how he was able to close the distance so fast. Now she knew why the creature looked strange, the man's head was upside down. His neck was twisted so much, his dark shiny eyes faced the ceiling instead of the grimy floor. The lights went off.

When the lights came on, the creature was on Shobbi tearing at her clothing with its claws. It hit her so hard when it leaped at her, the chair fell back with a crash. The stinking clawing thing was on top of her. She heard the word,”Soon!”


Shobbi awoke screaming in her bed. It seemed like the horrible thing was still in the bed with her!

Lakshmi knocked on her door. “I heard screaming! Shobbi are ya alright?”

It took a few minutes before Shobbi realized that the thing wrapped around her body was just a clammy bed sheet. “I'm okay,” she replied.

“If ya need some help, let me know,” Lakshmi said while she padded back to her room.

Shobbi did not reply while her eyes scanned her room. Of course the closet door was ajar again. She walked over to the door, and closed it. Shobbi wanted to get away from her room. A childlike fantasy filled her mind, maybe if Shobbi left, she would not have to deal with what's in the closet ever again. A scary thought snaked into her mind. What if whatever was in the closet followed her? She clenched her fists and resolved not to run away. It took her a few minutes to wash up, and throw on some clothes.

While Shobbi was putting on her sneakers, she had an idea to go check out the laundromat for the Agarwal Houses. She thought maybe there was a clue that might help her. When Shobbi walked into the living room. Her mother was sitting at the table eating her breakfast.

Shobbi watched as her mother precisely cut off a piece of her omelet then she looked up at her. “Are you alright, daughter?”

Shobbi looked away from her mother's concerned face. “I had a bad dream.”

Reva sighed. “Unlike your sister, Lakshmi, you have a gift for terseness. Even when you were a baby, you preferred short choking wails to full screams. You probably got it from my side of the family.” She rolled her eyes.

Shobbi was tempted to unburden herself, but she did not want to relive the experience again. Even thinking about the creature in the laundromat made her stomach churn. She wanted to change the subject in a hurry.

“Mom, where is the laundromat?” Shobbi tried not to look at her mother's breakfast. Her stomach was not in the mood.

Reva smiled. “You want to help me later?”

Shobbi shook her head. “Maybe?” She remembered times in the sunlit cozy laundromat with her mother. At those times she was less formal, Shobbi could imagine for a bit what her mother was like when she was young and unmarried. Her mind was filled with happiness and the smell of the sweet soaps. Then there were the neighbors as they gossiped.

“Shobbi?” Her mother's concern filled voice broke Shobbi out of her reverie.

“Sorry. Where is the laundromat?” Shobbi asked.

“Its in the basement of Building Two,” She answered and went back to eating. Shobbi gave her a quick peck on the cheek.

Reva thought of her daughters. Shobbi was so unlike Lakshmi. Her older sister was bright and cheery most of the time, like her father, but Shobbi was quiet and brooding sometimes. Like me, Reva thought. She sighed again and hoped that her daughter will tell her what is going on instead of fighting her problem alone.


Shobbi almost ran out the door of her building to Building Two. All of the buildings in the Agarwal Development looked the same. There was no time to check out the green waist high hedges or the pink and white flowers. She just had to see the laundromat.  Shobbi had to know if it was like the place in her dream. The lobby of Building Two felt comfortable. Her blue and gray sneakers slipped a little on the wet floor. To the left of the elevators was a white sign for the basement stairs.

When Shobbi rushed down the stairs to the basement, her sneakers barely touched the greenish gray stairs. Visions of her dream moved up into her mind's eye. Even her stomach started to churn again. Shobbi's right hand trembled before she pulled the gray wooden door open.

Voices mixed with the humming of washing machines washed over Shobbi. Warm golden sunlight streamed through the windows. She could smell food and detergent. Shobbi remembered that it was Saturday. That was why the place was so crowded. She excused her way past a bunch of men and women who were having animated discussions on their cell phones. Some of them were so loud, Shobbi could hear the person squawking on the other end.

Even though the situation was so different from the nightmare, she did notice that the layout of the room was the same. The aisles with the washers and dryers were in the same places. Shobbi had never been to the laundromat before, but through the nightmare she was familiar with it now. That brought a chill that raced down her back. She decided to leave the room and go clear her head with a trip into the neighborhood.


Enegagesammithran Road

After leaving the Agarwal Buildings grounds, Shobbi crossed some streets and quickly noticed the difference from her old neighborhood. There were more people shopping. Street vendors hawked their wares, and she did not see too many folks furtively eyeing her like she was a potential meal ticket or worse.

Shobbi walked down the street glancing at the stores and shoppers. Music blared out of some storefronts while vendors wanted Shobbi to check out their shiny wares. She was tempted, but a quick check of her pockets showed she just had enough money for a candy bar. Shobbi resolved to walk a bit further, and then return home.

The energy of the street gently washed the horror of her nightmare away from her mind. There was a pet shop just a few steps away with puppies in the window. She was thinking of looking at them when someone grabbed her arm.

A short woman with white hair tied into a bun pointed toward her storefront. “Child, I have seen your aura, and we must talk.”

Shobbi checked out the sign in front of the fortuneteller's shop. “I don't have enough money.”

The woman smiled revealing a mouth that had more gaps than yellow teeth. “Don't worry about that. It is free for you today.” Deep down though, she knew that the poor child will have to pay one way or another.

A quick flash of foreboding crossed Shobbi's mind. The woman seemed like a grinning demon trying to pull Shobbi into her dark and shadowy lair. Sobbi took a step back.

The fortuneteller's eyes narrowed for a second before she sighed. “I am sorry child for being so forceful. I can see now that you have been through a lot. Please come with me so we can discuss your situation. Your aura is of one that will not be on this world for too long.”

That statement brought a chill to Shobbi, she remembered what the creature and the smoke man had said. Shobbi followed the fortuneteller into her shop. Inside, it was cool and dark for a few seconds then Shobbi's eyes adjusted. The shop was full of cat statues with different colors. Some of the statues even waved. A sweet but musky smell hit her nose. Shobbi wondered if she could buy some incense.

The fortuneteller faced away from Shobbi. “Do you know the history of this region? No? Well, its a long and dark history. Evil terrible gods crouched here before the Holy Ones came from the Heavens, and drove them away, but there was a taint left across the land,” The fortuneteller turned around then looked at Shobbi. Shobbi looked back.

The fortuneteller continued. “Then demons and the foul men that served them came and stayed a while. A great temple filled with abominations was built on the site where your apartment complex is now. A holy army led by priests with the blessings of the Holy Ones was raised to stop the depredations of the demons and their followers. After a long battle, the temple was razed and the demons and their servants were killed.”

“That's an interesting story, but what does that have to do with me?” Shobbi said while looking at the cheap statues and trinkets in the room.

The fortuneteller gazed intently at Shobbi. Then a smile crossed the woman's face. “Direct and honest are you. Good. Stay that way. You will gain many friends because of that and unfortunately many enemies. To end my story, I will say that the evil from the ancient temple still poisons the area. You are marked by it. Lucky for you I have something that will help.” Then the fortuneteller walked to a cabinet covered with cat idols, and pulled out a simple jade necklace. She walked over to Shobbi, and placed it in her hand.

“Wear it until the darkness is defeated. Do not despair, you will not be alone. There is one that has fought the darkness before, you know who. Find her and face it together,” The fortuneteller said with a quick gap toothed grin.

Shobbi looked down at the plain green jade disk with the red string. “How do you know that? How is a necklace going to-” Shobbi looked up to find herself in front of a cell phone store while warm sunlight shone on her. The shadowy cool fortuneteller's shop was gone!

The next store was the pet shop. She looked across the street while vehicles zipped by. There was just a bunch of stores there. Shobbi put the necklace on, and went back home, her mind filled with confusing thoughts.
Two Crossed Pencils

Let me have 912 straight and boxed. 7184 straight and boxed. Let me have...

Balding, brown haired and brown eyed, Peter Cullen fumed as the old lady continued to spew out more Win 4 and NY Numbers. It seemed to him that she had more numbers in her gray haired head than a mathbook. He clutched his bet slips tightly in his fat sweaty hands. The tiny bodega was crowded, teens hustled in to buy junk food while older folks stood in line patiently behind the lotto machine.

"Teens, I just don't know what goes through their minds now. I was never that weird when I was a teen," the old guy in the blue jacket behind Peter mumbled.

Peter took another angry glance at the woman ahead of him, she still had more numbers. He was not sure he wanted to talk to the guy, but he was getting bored.

"What's so crazy about teens now?" Peter asked.

The old guy looked at Peter. "Have you heard of the charliecharlie game?"

Peter shrugged.

"I saw this on Youtube, a bunch of teens made a diamond on paper and placed two crossed pencils. Then they chanted charlie charlie something. The stupid kids asked questions. The pencil pointed to the answer. Of course they freaked out because they thought some demon or something was answering them," the old guy in the blue jacket said.

"Next customer!" the guy behind the lotto machine said.

Peter turned around and handed the lotto guy his slips. He watched as the machine scanned and chunked out his tickets. Peter looked back, and the old guy was gazing vacantly at the front of the store.

"What happened to the kids afterward?" Peter said.

"What kids? Oh, ida know," the man replied.

Peter turned back to watch his tickets pile up. When the machine was done, the lotto guy announced that Peter owed him $35.50. Peter paid him forty and got his tickets and change. A sour hope grew in his heart as he left the store, and stepped into the cold wind slashing down the street.

Peter remembered other times he bought lottery tickets with the certain hope that he would hit. One of those slips of paper would get him some money. Once in a while he did get money, twenty bucks here, ten bucks there, his biggest win to date was one hundred bucks. Of course that was when he was making decent money. Now he was unemployed, savings going fast and some extra money would be really welcome. A familiar figure in black and pink walked up to Peter, but he was still lost in his thoughts.

"So Petey, do you think you can win enough money to hang with me?" Gina's question broke Peter out of his thoughts.

"Um, I don't know Gina. I keep tryin but I just can't get the big ones. I have bought the dream books and subscribed to almost every lotto newspaper, but none of them worked for me," Peter said while looking up and down the dilapitdated block.

A cold look crossed Gina's face then she smiled a real smile. One that lit up her brown eyes. "I gave up on that lotto crap a long time ago. But you know what they say." She grimaced as the cold Fall wind tore through her thin but sexy looking pink and black outfit.

"Yeah, you gotta be in it to win it. Maybe I should be a zombie. My luck might be better then. Good luck," Peter said.

Gina leaned in close to Peter. "I had cow brains and eggs once and you know what, I prefer eggs." She pulled back and waved before walking off to find customers.

Peter waved back and started walking down the street past lots of closed storefronts. Like him, this neighborhood had seen better days. There were too many shuttered storefronts and buildings with broken vacant windows.


Peter's apartment

He walked into his apartment, and through the hallway to the kitchen. Peter had the typical bachelor pad that was more like the sloppy guy's pad from The Odd Couple. Dusty, dirty and dishes in the sink. To be fair though, Peter let the dishes pile up until he ran out of clean ones then he would wash everything. When he started to sneeze too much, the dusting cloths would come out and things got dusted. One day, maybe I will win enough to hire a maid, he thought.

After tossing the lotto tickets on the kitchen table, he went straight to his computer. It did not take him too long to find the videos the guy in the store mentioned. They seemed pretty silly until Peter suddenly saw an image in his head of a circle with numbers from zero to nine and two crossed pencils inside.

The chair creaked as Peter leaned back, and thought about what he saw. It seemed pretty silly, but the idea would not go away. He definitely needed more money, his savings account was shrinking with the demands of rent and food. The job search was not working out. Fussing with some pencils and saying something silly would probably not hurt him. After a few seconds thinking, Peter decided to give the ritual a try. For a second, a chill raced down his back and then it was gone.

Peter shrugged. Vague fears were not going to stop him from making some money. It took him about fifteen minutes to make his number choosing board. Then he watched the videos to find out what to say. He was going to change the formula a bit though. He took a deep breath and let it out. For some reason, he felt like he was at a point of no return. What ever he was going to do now would not be undone. An image rose in his mind of himself with big wads of cash in his hands. Then he puckered up to kiss something. That made Peter laugh a little. The idea of him kissing some creature for cash was good for some more laughs. Then the levity drained away and was replaced by desperation. Peter nodded. He resolved to kiss Charlie if the numbers worked. It was just a kiss, its not worth too much.

"Charlie Charlie, I want to know, what are the NY Numbers and NY Win Four for tomorrow! Charlie Charlie, I want to know, what are the NY Numbers and NY Win Four for tomorrow!" Peter said.

The room seemed to get cooler. Minutes passed and nothing happened. Peter stared at the still pencils. Just when he was thinking about the whole thing was a waste of time, the pencil on the top moved. Peter grabbed a pad and another pencil. Just as he asked, the pencil first pointed out the digits to the NY number, 920. Peter blinked in surprise but he managed to keep his eyes on the pencil for the NY win four number, 6241.

"Wow, thank you Charlie, if these hit, I owe you a kiss," Peter said with a smile.

As if in reply something moved the dirty dishes in the sink. Peter did not turn around for a few minutes then he went to watch tv. When the lotto results were shown on channel 7 at 11 pm, he was ready with his tickets. After three minutes, all of the tickets were ripped to shreds. All of them were losing tickets. He went to bed wondering if the numbers Charlie gave him would win some money. A more scary thought snaked into his mind. Did Charlie even have a face or even lips?


Next Day

The lotto guy looked at Peter in surprise when he saw that Peter had only two numbers to play. "Are you slipping?"

"Nah, I am going to win," Peter said with a smile. Deep down he wondered if the numbers were any good. He would find out tonight. The day dragged like the clocks were filled with molasses. Several agencies called, but they only offered jobs in other cities. Peter did not have a car so those calls were a waste of time. He just kept hitting the job boards, and slowly the day ground down to evening. Peter only posted his resume to three job boards, he did not expect any replies but maybe something might happen.

Finally, 11 pm arrived and the live lotto results were being shown. Peter's eyes began to widen as the balls were announced, each one a match to the digits he got from Charlie. When both winning numbers were announced, Peter had to put his hands up to his eyes to push them back in.

"Holy crap Charlie, maybe I should pucker up now!" Peter said with surprise. He would have to go to the store to find out how much he won. Something moved in the kitchen, but Peter was too excited to be scared.


Next Day

The lotto guy took Peter's tickets so he could scan them. Peter on the other hand was focused on the guy's face. Winning a thousand dollars would be good.

The lotto guy's eyes widened. "I'm sorry but you have to go downtown to 125 Beaver street. Congratulations!"

"Wha-what?" Peter said in surprise.

The lotto guy gestured for Peter to walk around the side of the lotto machine. Peter walked around while wondering if his wildest dream came true.

The lotto guy whispered,"You won thirty g's from the Win Four and twenty g's from the Numbers. We can't  pay that out here, you have to go to Beaver street for that. Put that money in a bank real soon or you will make a mugger very happy."

Fifty thousand dollars was a nice win, that was enough for paying Peter's rent for a few months as well as some expenses. Other fun thoughts filled his mind, but Peter reluctantly broke them off to get his tickets back. Several hours later, Peter was back in his apartment. He was still giddy about the money. Now he had some time to search for a job without having to take anything that came along. Also maybe he had enough to take some courses. A cold greedy thought crossed his mind. Maybe he could get more money, fifty thou will only last so long.

Peter stopped and thought. It seemed kinda greedy to ask for more than fifty thousand. Then again, rent was eight hundred and fifty. That money only brought him five or six months before things were bad again. Maybe he won't find a job within that time? Peter rushed to pull out the paper with the numbers and do the ritual again. When he had the new numbers he watched some tv and went to bed.

The Dream

He found himself standing in front of the bodega looking through dirty broken windows. The store was empty and dark. A smell of rotten candy wafted out. That made Peter cough. The windows were smashed and it looked like a hurricane had swept through the store. In the distance, he could hear galloping hooves. Peter looked away from the decrepit store. A small pink pony with a lavender and white striped mane ran by, fear was in its bright blue eyes. It glanced at Peter and squealed before galloping even faster down the block.

It would have been funny in another place, but not here. Peter surveyed the area. The buildings all looked like they had been abandoned for years. Empty windows gaped like sightless eyes. Then he heard the noise. Tik, tik tik. It sounded like someone was walking on stiletto heels. A feeling of dread swept through Peter. He pinched his arm. It hurt and he was still here.

A female figure slunk into view. Before her there was a smell. It reminded him of a landfill, but one that only saw the worst of garbage. Stuff that would never break down over the centuries. Peter could not see the face of the woman, his eyes slid off of her face like they were greased. The woman was so close now that Peter could see more of her. What he was seeing of her now was making his stomach churn.

She looked like she had curves alright, ones that would fling even the most savvy driver to his or her death. Also the woman seemed overstuffed, the poisonous pink and deathly black of her outfit barely contained the corpselike bulk. There was something sickening about the jiggling. No jam or jelly, just something viscious and vile. Finally the woman or what ever it was stopped in front of Peter. He wanted to step back, maybe have at least several blocks between himself and this creature.

"Are you Charlie?" he said while trying to hide a grimace of disgust.

A voice like Gina's, like a shark plush toy is like a real shark, replied. "Nope, I just work for him. I am authorized to speak for him and to collect for him..."

Peter wanted to ask collect what, but deep down he knew.

"You owe him a kiss and probably a lap dance," The creature said.

Peter would rather stick his lips into a shredder than kiss what was standing in front of him. A lap dance was definitely out of the question.

"How about I make things easier for you and me. You give me people and I can forget about you," The creature offered.

The idea of giving people to this thing that slouched before him was kinda attractive, but then Peter wondered how he was going to get people.

"How am I supposed to get people?" Peter said.

The creature sighed. "Really? Okay, it's real simple, stop looking at my boobs and listen carefully," it said with an annoyed voice.

Peter had stopped looking at the creature's massive breasts a long time ago when they still jiggled when the being stopped walking. Now, he was just looking around the creature. It was just too disgusting to look directly at it. Peter wondered if he could choke on his own vomit in a dream.

"You will have number choosing parties. Get other people to say the chant, and I pick their numbers. You hook up ten people in two weeks and we are good. You will never see me again. You got it?" The thing said.

Then there was a snap and a rustle. The creature held a black pen in one hand and a contract in another. "Oh yeah, there is a contract you gotta sign. This keeps us on the level. You cheat, I gotya. I cheat, you owe nothing," The thing said while holding out the items.

Even though the letters seemed to squirm, Peter could still read the contract.

"What? You have even more issues? Grab it and read it! Take your time. I don't want anyone saying you did not have enough time to read the fine print," the creature held out the contract for Peter to read.

Peter grabbed the contract. He was glad to be looking at something that was not so vomit inducing. What ever the paper was made of, it felt slimy and dry. He had an intense desire to wipe his hands on his pants, but Peter managed not to. He read the whole thing, it read like a regular contract in real life. That is, it was filled with mind numbing legalese, but he managed to plow through it. Even the fine print was scrutinized carefully.

"Can I get the pen now? I want to sign," Peter said.

The creature handed him the pen. It looked like a black bic pen, but when it touched his hand, his fingers started stinging and burning.

"What the hell?" Peter said with surprise.

"Freakin sign already! What do you think we just use regular ink?" The creature said in a really annoyed voice.

Peter placed the bottom of the contract over his left arm then he scrawled his signature. The ink looked thick and red. Peter guessed it was his blood. The pain faded from his hand. He gave the creature the contract and pen.

"When you wake, you better get to work," The creature said. Then it giggled.

Peter hoped to never hear such a sound full of hunger and malice ever again.


He found himself lying on his bed with a neatly folded contract on his chest. Peter was tempted to flick the paper or whatever that stuff was made of like a poisonous spider, but he remembered one of the clauses. Damage could invalidate the contract, and that over stuffed creature in black and pink would get him. He barely was able to tolerate standing next to that thing. It would be quite horrible to have it touch him. Peter carefully placed the contract in a drawer then he got ready for his shower, there was a lot of planning he had to do.



Again the lotto guy's eyes widened. "Jeez, Pete you are doing well. Looks like you will be heading down town again," he said.

When Peter checked the amount, he was suprised it was only a total of twenty thousand. He grinned, it was still welcome. He put the money in the bank, and rushed back uptown to his apartment.

Peter's Apartment

Several hours later, Peter had four people in his apartment. He did some light cleaning, but anyone could see the spots he missed. The folks here only cared about winning numbers.

"I hope this charlie is an angel, I don't want to be dealing with no demons." An old black woman said.

"Nah, charlie is a good being," Peter said while hoping to calm her fears. The other three people seemed pretty nervous about this topic too. He could see their eyes darting around his apartment like any moment demons would appear and drag them down to hell.

"Ok folks, please say the chant so we can move on," Peter said.

Ms. Chatterson wheezed a bit, but she said the chant along with the others. A few minutes later, the pencil picked out some numbers. Peter could see the greed in the eyes of the other people. On the other hand, Ms Chatterson had a genuine warm smile on her face. "If I hit, I am going to donate most of the money to the church I go to, Hillside Baptist Church."

Peter did not care what these people did with the money, he just wanted to be free. To show he had some heart, he smiled and nodded at Ms. Chatterson. He smiled just a bit wider when they all gave him fifty dollars. The next few sessions went even better. When word got around of the first group of folks hitting big and sharing a large jackpot totaling one hundred thousand, Peter had no problem getting more people.

The next few days flew by. Peter had number choosing sessions every day. He was a bit surprised and relieved that people did not cause trouble. He was even more happy that they paid him money before they won. At first he asked for fifty, but now he was asking for hundreds and later even thousands. People paid without a fuss because they knew it was an investment on something that would reward them greatly.



This was his last day on the contract, and he had managed to get twenty people. Peter wanted to get some more money before he quit cold turkey from lotto and numbers. This time he was asking for ten thousand. To his surprise, he still got four more people and a special guest. Gina had shown up with 10g's in a black leather bag.

Peter did not care about the other people, they were nothing against his freedom, but he sorta knew Gina for years. Well, he did not know where she lived or what her full name was but they had some interesting conversations. An image of the pink and black wearing creature made Peter shrug.  He did feel sad about getting Gina hooked up with the creature, then again he never wanted to see it ever again. Gina lost out against his desire to be free. That night he smiled and cheered on the desperate people as they chanted.

"Thanks Peter for the chance for me to leave this life behind with some cash," Gina said with gratitude in her brown eyes.

Peter smiled, "I wish you well in your new life."

When his guests left with bright eyes full of hope for a better future, Peter waited until they were out of the building. Then he destroyed his equipment. He was never going to gamble again. Peter went to his drawer in his bedroom to check on the contract. It glowed redly, and faded away. A laugh flew out of his mouth, he felt so light, he expected his head to bounce against the ceiling. He was never going to see that monstrosity again.

Next Day

Peter strode down the street, in a few days he would leave this area and go on a vacation. Maybe he would never come back. Then a large black man ran up to him and screamed. "My Gramma died screaming about a demon in pink and black! Her poor old heart gave out from fear!"

Before Peter could react, the man shoved a pencil into both of Peter's eyes. His eyes exploded in a blaze of pain, and he tumbled to the ground with his hands over his savaged eyes. While he screamed in agony and fear, Peter could hear a familiar giggle filled with malice and hunger.

He would hear it for the rest of his life and afterwards.
Two Crossed Pencils
A ritual found online seemed to be a way to make some quick bucks but there were hidden costs...
Once an Explorer

The hot desert sun blazed down on her, but the shiny black SR 25 sniper rifle felt
cool against her peach colored cheek. Dora Marquez took a breath and tried not to
cough. The cologne that the client used tickled her nose, but it did nothing to hide
the underlying stink of dirty mangy fur. Even Ramon, her trusty rifle was annoyed.
Qué asco/gross It whispered to her. 

Dora knew that her client heard him anyway. So far the client, Wile E. Coyote did 
not seem to notice or did not bother to react. For a second, she wondered if Ramon 
was just a hunk of cold metal whose only purpose was to put a piece of metal in 
things and kill them. Dora took another deep breath. No, she thought, Ramon was a 
good friend that saw her through a lot of bad times. She focused, it would not be 
long now. A cloud of brown dust was moving quickly past purple buttes to her target
area. Dora smiled as she thought about its almost time to give the gift of Death to

Dora took another breath, and let it out slowly while she prepared for the one 
moment. The scope picked out the blue crested head of the Road Runner. A pop rang 
out, a few seconds later, the smiling face of her client's hated enemy exploded into 
a red mist that dissolved into the dirty brown dust plume of its passage. She was 
surprised about the amount of ground the still running legs covered before they 
realized that there was no head. The body tumbled onto the ground causing the poor 
bird's last dust cloud. 

Senor Ramon crowed, “Estás muerto puta!/You're dead, bitch!

Dora's face was impassive. All the preparation was over, and she just wanted to be 
paid. The stink of cologne and coyote increased. Dora tried to get up, but she 
bumped into the client. For the amount of time she spent with her clients, it was 
not worth the time remembering their names. Her hand moved toward her hidden knife 
before the client stepped back.

“Oh, I am so sorry about that. I just had to see!”  Enthusiasm blazed out of the 
client's yellow eyes in contrast to Dora's bored brown eyes. Already she wanted to 
be paid and be gone.

The client reached into its brown fur and pulled out a black and silver tablet. Dora 
was beyond wondering how such a creature could afford the latest gear. He swiped 
away at his tablet with a dirty cracked claw. “Well, lets see. Liquidate some Acme 
preferred stock. Transfer the funds to the Swiss account and there, it is done!” The
client looked up from the tablet and gave Dora a yellow toothy grin.

Dora pulled out her pink and black smartphone then ran the app that managed her 
Swiss accounts. She nodded to the client after she saw that the money was there. The 
client turned away from Dora then turned back. Now he had a red bib on and a knife 
and fork was in each hand. “Well, unless there is something more. I will be off! The 
taste of final victory is sooo sweet!” She waited until the client was gone before 
getting Senor Ramon ready for transport. He said,”¡Qué bestia repugnante!/What a 
disgusting beast!” before Dora got him in his travel bag. Her mind was already on 
getting to the SUV, and finding a place for the night. When she got to the black 
SUV, it opened the doors for her. 

“So where do you want to go now?”

“A cool place with drinks and a bed if you know of a place,” Dora replied.

“Sorry, I don't know now, but let me check my GPS,” The SUV replied cheerfully. Dora 
placed Ramon in the back while the car turned on the air conditioning.

She hated sweating, it reminded her of that place, the place that the mean kids told
her to go. Dora learned a lot, but she also paid the price and gave up a lot. Her 
time of asking kids questions was over now, distrust filled her heart. She narrowed 
her eyes as the memories of the brothel started to surface.

“Um, Dora? I found two places that are not too far from here,” Mr. Map said in his 
rustling paper voice. Its suggestion pulled her out of the sweaty morass of her 

“Thanks Map, pick a place and tell me how to get there,” Dora said in a tired voice, 
the prep for the hit, the heat and the stink of the client just wore her down.

“Dora, d-did you d-do it?” Map asked.

“Yes Map, I did it, the target did not suffer,” Dora replied tiredly as she started 
the car. They had been driving through the desert for a bit while the sun sunk in 
purple western skies when a bullet hole appeared in the windshield.

“Damn! My freakin windshield! Lady, what kind of goings on you got me in!” The SUV 
squealed in pain.

Dora ignored the vehicle to concentrate on making the SUV swerve so she was not an 
easy target. This would only work for so long before the enemy got a lucky shot off 
and Dora's blood and brains painted the windshield of the whiny SUV. After a few 
more tense seconds and after two more bullets punched holes through the windows, 
Dora found a large brownish rock outcropping she could hide behind. She stopped the 
SUV and rolled out with Senor Ramon in her arms.  Another set of shots landed near 
her kicking up clouds of red dust. It took her a quick second to duck behind the 
rocks. The SUV made for poor cover because a bullet or two could hit the gas tank 
and its a fiery end for Dora. She wanted to live, and not explore the afterlife, at 
least not yet.

Then her cell phone rang. Dora picked it up. A quick glance showed that the phone 
number was blocked. A chill raced down her back. She had an idea who she would hear.

“Hello Dora,” The sneaky voice of Snypa slunk into her ear. Dora sighed.

Snypa used to be just a thief who liked to steal just for the fun of it then Dora 
was able to show him how to be good. He still stole stuff, but nothing too important 
then when Dora disappeared in the brothel, poor Swiper slowly slid to the dark side. 
He became a hitman and changed his name to Snypa. He used to be the best, but when 
Dora escaped she soon eclipsed him. Also they competed for the job as hitmen for the 
Hand of Death. Dora beat him.

Now Snypa swore revenge, but instead of just killing Dora outright, he liked to play 
games. That idea made her look up. Snypa was very good at making devices.

“Good bye Dora!” Snypa said with a laugh then he hung up. 

She scrutinized the rocks in front of her quickly. The red blinking light got Dora's 
attention. Dora ran to the SUV, got in and backed up as fast as she could.

“What the hell are you doing to my drive train?” The SUV whined.

“Do you want to roll back to the rental agency on your own power or to the junkyard 
on a 
tow truck?” Dora asked. The SUV stopped whining.

When they were several feet away, the rocks in front exploded with an orange flash 
and roar. A chunk of rock smashed the windshield on the left side. The SUV just 

Dora wanted to scream Snypa no sniping, but she remembered he paid another witch to 
take the curse off of him. Anger made her peach hands squeeze the steering wheel 
tighter. Dora wished it was his neck. Just one week to take him down, she thought 
but her bosses, the HOD would not allow that. She could only do sanctioned hits, no 

“Map pick a nice hotel or motel a few counties away!” Dora said. When the adrenalin 
wore off she would be even more exhausted, Dora decided to worry about that later.

“No problem Dora. Got one, head west...”

The SUV wept as it drove west.


Drive and Sleep
Dora's nightmare

Sweaty thrusting men were everywhere. Heavy and mean with a stinging slap for any 
reply. They were a crushing weight of lust holding her down while she cried into a 
soft wet pillow.


Dora awoke with a gasp while salty sweat mixed with equally salty tears. She smeared 
both ofthem across her face while she stumbled to the table. 

“D-Dora are you alright?” Map asked.

Her shaking hands found the cleaning kit's dark blue box then she pulled Senor Ramon 
out of his bag and broke him down for cleaning. The ritual calmed her hands. Sweat 
and tears stopped falling as peace filled her.


Abandoned Hangar 

When Dora walked into the hangar filled with planes that were almost piles of rust 
with wings, she knew there was something wrong. Was it the guy stirring his tea with 
the handle of a big wrench? Maybe it was the large dog of indeterminate breeding 
that wheezed at her or maybe it was the guy in the too large coat that quivered in 

A confident voice demanded Dora's attention. “Hello, my name is Richard Dastardly.” 
She looked up to see a man with a handlebar mustache. He pointed to the man with the 
coke bottle glasses who was licking tea off the handle of a large wrench. “This is 

Klunk faced her and said “Fwoop nanny zip gwart!”

Dora was not sure how to reply to that. The dog's wheezy laughter filled the room.

“Hey m-my n-n-name is Zilly and K-klunk said hello,” The shaking guy in the overcoat 

The client pointed at the dog and said,”That is Muttley.” Muttley walked up to Dora 
and bowed with a fancy flourish. Dora smiled and bowed to the dog. The client 
cleared his throat and was all business.

“I would like you to kill a pigeon, a wretched fowl that has cost me almost 
everything,” the client continued while an angry sneer covered his face.

She wanted to bitch about killing another bird, but Dora kept her face impassive so 
the client would not get annoyed.

“How do you want it done, long range or close up?” Dora asked. 

The client smiled, and Dora wished she was back in the desert with the coyote.

“Close up, tell him, I finally catch you. I finally catch you, you excuse for a 
flying...” The client went off into a tirade in which Dora could only understand one 
word, 'die'. Zilly stammered out 'die'. Klunk made noises with 'die' mixed in. Even 
Muttley started barking 'die'.

Dora waited patiently in the hot hangar with the metallic smell of rust until the 
client calmed down. It took him five minutes to stop screaming then he looked back 
with a sheepish look that switched to a sneer. “Well, sorry about that. Do you have 
any questions?”

Dora shook her head, HOD had provided enough info on the target. The client stuck 
out his hand to shake. Dora grasped his hand firmly and was rewarded with a soft 
limp handshake. She knew dead fish that would give a better handshake.

The client gave her another sneer disguised as a smile. “I hope you are successful.” 
Then he turned and walked away with his crew. Dora did not bother saying anything as 
she left. Muttley's wheezy laugh followed her out of the hangar.


Drive and Sleep motel

The sky was full of purple and orange, but Dora's eyes were locked on a blue velvet 
box. She had to change her motel room because the pictures of doe eyed children on 
the light green walls threatened to bring up bad memories. This room had light blue 
walls and forgettable pictures on the walls. Dora focused on the box, inside two 
female voices could be heard bantering.

“I recognize those footsteps anywhere girlfriend.”

“Ahh, yeah, Sister we gonna be goin to work!”

“Work is the salt and pepper of life!”

Dora opened the box to look at Slash and Slice, two twin silvery daggers. They felt 
good in her hands either for throwing or holding.

“Yo Dora, you have some work for us?” Slash asked.

“Yes I do. We are going to be dealing with a pigeon!” Dora said with a sigh.

“Don't be glum sister. I can't wait to taste some squab blood!” Slash said.

“I thought we are going to taste pigeon blood?” Slice asked.

“Squab is a fancy name for cooked pigeon!” Slash said.

“Sorry girls but the pigeon will be raw. I am not setting anyone on fire,” Dora 

“Awwwww!” Slash and Slice replied.

“Too bad we can't have that pigeon on a bed of collard greens with sweet potatoes on 
the side,” Slash said.

“Don't forget the corn muffins!” Slice said.

“Ahh yeah sister, you know what I like!” Slash said.

Dora turned away from the chatty knives to check out the packet of info from HOD.

Someone had written down the code to disable the alarms. All Dora had to do was deal
with a paranoid pigeon with a gun fetish. The county had pretty liberal home safety 
laws, that meant that Yankee Doodle Pigeon could blow holes in Dora and not go to 
jail if he can prove she did not belong there. Of course Dora planned to get to the 
pigeon first. It just took her a few minutes to prepare for tomorrow and then go to 


1776 Old Patriot Way

Dora was glad it was dark, she did not have to see the red, white and blue of the 
yard and house. The Nawcan 18700 night vision goggles were the top of the line, they 
cost Dora a cool seventeen thousand, but she knew she would get her money's worth. 
Right now, they shaded the red, white and blue items in the pigeon's yard to eye 
pleasing shades of green. She had a feeling that inside the house it would be worse.

The HOD psych profile said that Yankee was paranoid, but at least he was not a 
trapper. A lot of paranoid types were that way. Dora carefully walked up the steps 
to the greenish looking door. It took her a few seconds to pick the lock and get in. 
She took another second to type in the security code before the bright green 
blinking light switched to a darker green. Now the house's security system would not 
send an alert to the cops.

The area around the foyer was dark, the pigeon slept upstairs. Quieter than a cat, 
Dora slunk up to the staircase then a light brighter than a thousand suns burned 
into her eyes! Somehow she tumbled to the right as thunder boomed.

“Damn! That Snypa character was right. You are slow and careful. You are also 
freakin lucky too. If you had fell the other way, I could have gone to bed with a 
smile on my face,” The pigeon said from upstairs.

Dora's head throbbed with pain while warm tears flowed down her face. Opening her 
eyes just added more agony so she squeezed them shut. Though her pain, she knew that 
she had to keep the target talking, and not shooting. Maybe her eyesight will return 
in time?

“H-how did you know about me?” Dora croaked while covering her eyes with her hands.

“Well, this Snypa guy calls me up, and told me about you. I thought that Dastardly 
the prick would come for me, but I know he likes to delegate. Zilly is too scared, 
no stones. Klunk got the stones, but he likes his tech toys too much. If only one of 
them actually worked, I woulda been a goner. Muttley has stones too, but who knows 
under all of that fur? You alright down there?” Yankee asked with false concern in 
his voice. Dora tried to open her eyes, but even the light reflected off the wall 
hurt her like she was being stabbed.

“So this Snypa guy tells me about Dastardly's play to hire you to get me. I don't 
know what you did to piss that guy off, but he is just scary. Anyway, he frames 
Dastardly's group of dirtbags so they can't pay you. Then he calls this guy, what 
was his name again?” The pigeon paused.

“Oh yeah, Diego. He has been on the trail of the infamous hitwoman Dora Marquez for 
years. Don't worry about him, I will probably kill you before he claps handcuffs on 
you. There is a cool reward for your arrest and capture. I get to kill one of the 
things that have been chasing me, and I get a nice payday. That is what I call a 
Coooo Coooo Birdy Day!” Yankee enthused.

Hearing Diego's name in the crazy bird's mouth added to Dora's anger. She snapped a 
quick pain filled glance at the wall. There would be time later for her to feel sad 
about what happened between them if she survived. Now, the bird is going to pay, 
she thought.

She ducked into the middle of the stairs, and let Slash fly at the blur up the 
stairs. Dora was rewarded with a muffled curse, and a few floating white feathers. 
Tears still streamed out of her eyes, but Dora could see a little. It took a few 
seconds to crawl up the landing. Dora kept her head low when she pulled Slash 
out of the wall. So far the pigeon did not fire at her. That meant that the pigeon 
was hiding upstairs waiting to ambush her.

Dora crawled up the stairs keeping her head low. She expected any moment to get 
blasted. The first shot sounded like a shotgun. Even if the pigeon winged her, it 
still could be fatal.

Dora's cellphone vibrated in her pocket. For a second, she thought about ignoring 
it, but then she realized that she had no human friends. This might be an important 
call. She let herself slide down the stairs then she answered the phone.

“This is Blood Lilly. Asset Marquez, the termination notice has been canceled. We 
have found out that the client is unable to pay due to being arrested. Also it seems 
that some of our associates have been compromised. Inspector Diego of Interpol is 
also on your trail. Due to the unusual circumstances, we will pay you double the 
cancellation fee. Extract yourself and find a safe place to hole up until we contact 
you again. Again the Termination Notice is canceled. Unsanctioned terminations will 
be punished severely. Good evening,” Blood Lily said and hung up.
Dora lay on the landing and fought her rage before a series of calming breaths 
steadied her shaking hands. She turned around, and climbed down the stairs. Any 
second she expected to feel a shotgun blast tear through her back. Nothing happened. 
Once she stepped outside, Dora knew she was safe. The law would not protect the 
pigeon if she was killed outside his house. When she crossed into his garden, 
the pigeon screamed something unintelligible at her from a window. Dora did not 
care, she walked up to her car and turned around. Dora flipped the bird 
at the angry bird. Then she got into her car and drove away.

“Imagine being shot by a bird,” Slash said.

“Being hit by birdshot would hurt a lot,” Slice said.

“Are you, um, okay?” Map asked.

“I'm okay, Maps,” Dora replied.

“So Slash, what did the pigeon taste like?” Slice asked.

“He tasted like plaster covered by cheap paint!” Slash replied.

“Dayum Sister, I feel for you,” Slice said.

“Guys, we are going on a long trip,” Dora said.

No one could see the new tears that were slowly falling from Dora's eyes as she 
thought about Diego. A true friendship was gone, and there was nothing she could do 
about it. The pigeon's house faded into the background as the car sped away into 
the dark.


Feliz Street

Normally the chatter of children and happy adults would grate on Dora's nerves, but 
she had four months to think about things. HOD rarely gave her even two weeks off. 
She suspected something was going on. Dora spent the time gathering intel on HOD and 
Snypa. What she found out about Snypa made her blood run cold.  

The fox's hatred of her was so consuming he was killing little girls and boys from 
small towns that looked like her. Deep down Dora would not kill a child, she 
resented them for leading her astray, but killing them was something she would not 
do. Some days even the resentment faded away. Dora found out about the sniping when 
she traveled to a town, and watched as a funeral procession wended its slow way past 
her. After that, she did her research.

The police in the happy towns did not have the skills to handle crimes of this 
magnitude, they only had to handle stolen pies and noise complaints. Serial killers 
were beyond them, but not for Dora. She had a plan...

Feliz Street
Late Afternoon

Crisela hopped and skipped down the street, the warm yellow sunlight kissed her 
peach colored skin. Dora knew Crisela's cancer was too advanced, and that the end 
was near. Many kids faced with such news would want to stay home with their parents 
but, Crisela bravely put what's left of her life at risk to stop a monstrous 
murderous fox.

The hopping and skipping tired her out, and now she was walking slowly across the 
street when her head exploded like an overripe melon. Dora did not take the time to 
mourn Crisela's passing, instead she scanned the windows across the street for 
Snypa. Dora found him on the fourth floor.

The crazed creature was cavorting like he was at a party. He even did some hip 
thrusts. Dora's vision was filled with red. One shot, just one shot and the dancing 
would stop forever, Dora thought. Somehow she managed to pull herself back from the 
rage. HOD knew of the bad blood between them, and she could end up being “retired”. 
Dora was the best asset they had, but she would not last long if all of the other 
assets turned against her.

“How about we give the brave warrior a kiss?” Dora said.

“Si!” Senor One Shot replied.

A malicious smile grew on Dora's face. She was quite sure Snypa would not like this 
new game.

The bullet flew from Senor Ramon, and grazed Snypa's blue furry cheek. It even set 
the fur on fire. The creature dropped to the floor. Dora did not stay to watch, 
she collected her equipment, and was running down the stairs. Tears ran down her 
face as she mourned the passing of brave Crisela. 


Drive N Sleep
Room 14

The faces of nineteen children looked back at Dora from photographs. Dora was not 
sure if there were more. She hoped that Snypa would not go back to child killing. 

“Um, Dora?” Map said.

“Yes, Maps,” Dora said.

“I hope you are not beating yourself up about those poor kids or Snypa,” Map said.

“Before my incident, he was starting to come around. Maybe if I...” Dora said as her 
gaze shifted from the faces on the wall to Maps and back to the wall.

“You could do nothing. You did not teach him to do those things,” Map said.

Dora sighed. “I wish I could go to Crisela's funeral.”

“No girlfriend. Who knows what sort of nasty crap that crazy ass fox could cook up,” 
Slash said.

“You mutilated his face too? Girl, he is going to be gunning for you!” Slice said.

“The best thing you did was to leave,” Map said.

Again, Dora wished she could have attended Crisela's funeral, but she knew Snypa 
would find a way to punish the parents to get back at Dora. If she was gone, he 
would focus on finding her first then set up another game. Speaking of games, Dora 
wondered about the crazy fox's plans for HOD.

Through her sources she found out that Blood Lily had been “retired”. Dora was in 
good standing, but an unsanctioned hit would definitely put her on the retire list 
even if she did not get the message to back off. That was another issue for Dora. 
Also she had enough of killing. 

Dora's time with Crisela and her parents reminded her that she missed her parents. 
Shameful job or not, Dora wanted to see them again, but first HOD had to be dealt 
with. She padded over to the wall and took down the pictures. Each picture came off 
the wall with a prayer. Then she put the pictures in a yellow folder with the rest 
of her research. The digital version was already uploaded to a few HOD agents she 
knew that were not corrupted by Snypa. After that she smashed the burner phone to 
shiny metallic bits. Dora's personal phone buzzed on the table. She answered it.

“This is Scorpion. You have a new set of targets. I am uploading the data packet to 
your phone. Your targets are six ponies from a place called Equestria. Teach them 
about the power of Death any way you wish. There are instructions on how to get 
there in the data packet,” Scorpion said coldly.

“Do I need to meet the client?” Dora said.

“No! All you need to know is in the data packet. Good day,” Scorpion replied and 
hung up.

Tenemos trabajo?/We work?” Senor Ramon asked.

“Yes,” Dora replied.

“Yay we,” Slash said.

“Have work,” Slice said.

Dora shook her head in annoyance, she hated when the daggers finished each other's 

“Whats the job? Girlfriend,” Slash asked.

“We have to go to a Pony land and kill six ponies,” Dora said.

“We cut the ponies and they go neigh as we watch their life fade away!” Slice said 
with a grin.

Map looked concerned. “Dora, do we have to do this?”

Dora glanced at Map before looking away. “Yes, if I don't do this job, they may 
think I know what's going on. Don't worry, I will not kill them.”

Slice pouted. “No pretty horses to cut?”

Dora swiped through the data packet on the phone. “Well, there are monsters in 
some place called the Everfree Forest. Monsters might be more fun to kill.”

“The monster from the slab began to rise,” Slash said.

“And we cut out its eyes! Yayyyy!” Slash enthused.

Something about this mission made the hairs on her neck rise. She was familiar with 
that feeling. The HOD was sending her on a suicide mission. Dora had been on too 
many missions not to doubt that feeling. The six colorful ponies were probably very 
powerful. She would study the ponies and see what options revealed themselves.

Map rustled to get Dora's attention. “Um, Dora, how are you going to do this?”

“Maybe I will get the ponies to help me fake their deaths or maybe they can help me 
fake my own death. Once I am dead, the HOD will leave me alone. Then I can shut them 
down.” Dora said and looked over her friends.

“Its gonna be fun!” Slice said.

“Count us in Girlfriend. We got your back when you stick us in someone else's” 
Slash said confidently.

Senor Ramon said,”Voy a ayudar también!/I'll help too!”

Map looked down and then back up at Dora. “I will help you regain your freedom 
though I don't know what will happen after you, um, deal with the HOD.”

The support from her friends almost made Dora cry, but she blinked back the tears.

“What are our options?” Maps said.

“There are so many to explore but I was an explorer. Now to do that again!” 
Dora replied.

A cold smile covered her face.
Once an Explorer
A hitwoman decides to leave the Life, but will it let her go?
Agarwal Houses
Chapter 1

Shobha Srikanth or Shobbi, looked out at the green countryside rolling past. The hot air blew her short black hair into her brown eyes. She hated to move, but things had been pretty bad. There were several shootings in her old neighborhood. Her parents had both found new and better jobs in Jerida and that was it.

Reva Srikanth, her mother had narrowed her eyes and quietly put her foot down. “Child, we must move. You will make new friends,” Reva said while holding her daughter's eyes in a steady brown gaze.

Shobbi nodded yes and that was it.

Their faithful but beat up car wheezed around a curve and Shobbi saw her new home. Well, she saw the Agarwal Homes. Pink brick apartments as tall as eight floors. They looked much better than the boring gray building they used to live in.

To be honest, there was little to cry about, Shobbi had few, well, no friends back home.

Shobbi was not a big fan of change. The apartment buildings looked so pretty, she thought maybe some change is good.

“So, Shobbi, do you think you can find some friends here?” Lakshmi, her older sister asked.

Shobbi just shrugged.

Sandeep, their father was already upstairs working with the movers to get all their belongings in the new apartment. He did not want to disrupt their school schedule until the apartment was ready.

Reva parked the car and the family walked up the gray paving stones to the building. Inside, the lobby was cool. Compared to the long ride in the hot car, almost anyplace was cooler. The elevator came down and they took it to the fifth floor.

So far Shobbi was liking the new building. It was clean and not too shabby. The ride up to their floor was quick. It just took a few steps down the clean hall to apartment 5J. Reva unlocked the door and stepped inside.

When Shobbi stepped across the threshold, she felt a chill.  

A hungry sounding voice said, “Ah, a young one.”  

Shobbi looked around, her eyes wide with fear.

Everyone was fussing over the new apartment. Fans thrummed in the background blowing hot air around. She walked further into the apartment and her fear faded away.

“Shobbi, look how much room we have!” Lakshmi gushed while she stretched out her long brown arms.

Shobbi remembered how cramped the old apartment felt. It seemed like she was always bumping into someone all the time.

“Shobbi, darling what do you think?”  Her father asked while striding up to her. A large smile was on his face.

“Its great!” Shobbi answered. She was feeling better.

“Shobbi approves! We shall be happy here!” Sandeep beamed at his daughters and wife.

Shobbi gave her father a hug and walked down the hall to her room.

“Its the room next to the bathroom!” Reva said while she dug through a box for dinner plates.

Shobbi stepped into her room. Warm golden sunlight shone in through a window. The room was larger than her old one, there was enough room for a drawing table if she could get one. She looked to her left at the closet. The door was ajar. Something about the partially opened door gave her a bit of a chill. Shobbi rushed over and closed the door.

The next few hours were spent putting her stuff away in the night table and dresser. After that, Shobbi turned on her laptop and did some net surfing. Around six thirty, Lakshmi came by to tell her that they were going out to eat.

Full with a tasty meal and dessert, Shobbi walked back to her room. She could not wait to go to bed and sleep. A quick look at her closet showed that the door was open again. Shobbi tiredly closed the door. Then she closed the door to her room, turned out the lights and went to bed.

That night she did not sleep well. When the morning sun shone through her window, Shobbi was glad to wake up. Her arms and legs felt leaden like she had been running marathons. Her fear filled dreams faded away against the gray light of an overcast day.

Today was the first day in a new school. Since the family moved while in the middle of the school year, Shobbi would have to do a lot of catching up. After she closed the closet door, Shobbi got ready for school.

The next few days passed with a whirl of activities, new friends and new locations. Thank goodness the next day was Saturday, Shobbi wanted some time to recuperate. When she went to bed Friday night, it was like jumping into a deep dark well of sleep.

Sometime during the night Shobbi woke up. She did not know why but for some reason her eyes were drawn to the closet. The door was still closed. With a click, the door opened a little bit.

Fear filled Shobbi's heart, something was in the closet, she was so sure. Any moment it would come out and get her! It was a childish fear, but as the seconds went by, she knew that whatever was in the closet was coming for her. Shobbi kept staring at the closet until she slowly fell asleep.

Morning came and rain lashed the windows. Shobbi was awoken by the noise. She got out of bed, and timidly crept up to her closet like a knight would creep up to a ferocious dragon's lair. Why am I so afraid of my own closet, Shobbi wondered. Finally she opened the door wider, and looked inside.

The closet was full of clothes, shoes and boxes of unpacked items. Angrily, she shoved the clothes aside to check the back wall of the closet. The hangers shrieked as they slid along the rod holding the clothes up. Shobbi even knocked on the wall to see if there were any hollow spots, but there were none. She closed the door.

The rest of the day felt cloudy like the weather outside. Shobbi managed to get through it anyway. The good news was she was able to tear through the work needed to catch up. Her friends helped with lightening her mood. When she got home and walked into her room. The ajar closet door brought her mood down. She closed the door.

The next few days were OK, there was so much to do. Who or whatever was in the closet left her alone for some reason. Well, until the next night.


Shobbi woke up in the darkness. She knew instinctively that something was terribly wrong. The room was somehow smaller, and the furnishings were not the same. Even the view outside the window was somewhat different, some buildings were missing. Her bed just had white covers instead of the dark blue ones she used to have.

Even her arms were changed, they were whiter with silver armbands on them.What is going on? There was one thing that did not change, the closet door clicked open and Shobbi felt the same fear.

A dark smoke like cloud flowed from the closet toward her bed. Shobbi screamed as loud as she could. Her shrieks tore at the air as the cloud floated closer. She knew it was a man, and what he wanted. Shobbi tried to slap or punch the thing on her bed. The springs creaked as she flailed at her attacker.

Cold hands held her arms and pushed them down to the bed. Shobbi's lower body and legs grew cold and unfeeling. The smoke thing lowered its head close enough to her face and whispered,”Soon.”


The morning sun shone so brightly into Shobbi's eyes, it was like being stabbed. While she tried to turn away from the light, her legs would not respond. Shobbi grimaced at the smell of pee rising from the lower part of the bed. This so embarrassing.

A look at the foot of the bed showed that she still had legs and feet but why were they so unresponsive? Am I paralyzed?

“Shobbi, dear, its time to get up and get ready for school!” Her mother called.

Shobbi tried to get her legs to work, but they refused. In frustration, she screamed for her mother's help.


Jerida Medical Center
Room 421

The young doctor tried to look sympathetic, but he was just too harried to pull it off. “I'm sorry but I have to ask these questions.”

He did not seem sorry to Shobbi though.

“Do you take drugs for recreational purposes?” The doctor asked.

Shobbi shook her head. “I woke up and I could not feel my lower body. My legs did not work.”

The doctor and her mother exchanged glances. Shobbi knew that was going to lead to a stern talk for her, but she knew better than to tell the truth. No one would believe her.

The doctor faced her mother. “Excuse me Shobha, your mother and I will be just outside.” They stepped out of her room to talk.

Shobbi hated when strangers used her full name. Also something about that doctor rubbed her the wrong way. She just knew that the doctor and her mother were going to talk about her situation.

After several hours in the hospital, feeling slowly returned to her lower body, and legs. There was still some numbness but Shobbi could stumble around.

She was relieved, being paralyzed seemed to her to be such a terrible thing. Now Shobbi wanted to know what that doctor and her mother were planning for her. Slowly, she clumsily climbed out of bed, and walked up to the door to eavesdrop. The hospital floor felt ice cold against her feet.

“I'm sorry Miss Srikanth, but there is nothing physically wrong with your daughter. This might be a psychological problem,” The doctor stated.

“My daughter has been under a lot of stress lately. We had to move to a new neighborhood in the middle of the school season, and she had to catch up,” Her mother explained.

Shobbi scoffed that the workload from school was an issue.

“We have a psychologist on staff, she might be able to help,” The doctor offered.

Reva's voice went up an octave. “My daughter is not crazy!”

Shobbi heard the doctor sigh, it sounded so theatrical. Her dislike of him increased.

“Fine, may I suggest that you take your daughter home and she can visit one of our outpatient facilities then?”

Her mother mumbled something.

Shobbi decided to get back into bed before they knew she could walk. Her mother returned, but the doctor was gone.

“Shobbi, darling, can you walk now? I would like to leave this place,” Her mother said with barely concealed distaste.

Shobbi nodded yes and tried to get out of bed. She was a bit shaky at first but a few minutes later, she was ready to get dressed.

Reva stood outside the door to give Shobbi some privacy while she dressed.

An hour later, they were outside in the humid air looking at gray skies. Shobbi preferred the smells of the street vendor's food and other odors outside to the hospital's stink of disinfectant.

While they were driving home, Reva looked Shobbi in the eye. “Now daughter, when you get home, I will make an appointment with a psychologist. I will try to schedule it so you do not miss school. Do you understand?”

Her mother's tone made it quite clear that Shobbi better comply. She just nodded.


Shobbi's room

Lakshmi rolled her eyes at her sister. “Seriously Shobbi, you have to keep your closet door closed. If a moth were to get in and choke on your wardrobe, it might decide to go to my closet to feel better.”

“No way! Your wardrobe will just blind the moth, and he will sue you for that!” Shobbi replied with a wave of her hand.

Sandeep stuck his head into the doorway and finished the conversation. “How about the two of you keep your closet doors closed! I do not have the time to chase around and squash insects!”

Lakshmi left Shobbi's room with a giggle.

Once her sister was gone and the closet door closed again, Shobbi's smile faded away. The prospect of spending another night with whatever was in her closet put a pall over the evening.

What is it? What can I do against it?

“Knowledge is power, my daughter. Applied wisely, one can be like a god!” Sandeep said warmly from her memories.

It took Shobbi just a few minutes to start up her laptop. She typed in Agarwal into the searchbox and pressed return. The list of lurid articles made her gasp. With a sigh, Shobbi clicked through them.

In 1955, a serial rapist made these apartments his own playground. A lone female police woman named Raki Paranamurana had shot the rapist, but his body was never recovered. Due to the amount of blood found, it was assumed that he would not last long.

It did not help that the 65th anniversary was just a few days away. That fact gave her a chill. A quick fear filled glance showed that the closet door was still closed. Later on, the door would open again, Shobbi was sure of that.


Aaron Weaver
United States
Current Residence: Behind the Italian restaurant, next to dumpster.
Operating System: Windoze/Mac OS X
MP3 player of choice: Winamp
Skin of choice: My own skin
  • Mood: Joy
  • Listening to: Feral: Hungry
  • Reading: Game of Drones: Unsanctioned Flights
  • Watching: Skanky Hollow: Whore of Babylon
  • Playing: Army of Moo
  • Eating: Pomeranian Frites
  • Drinking: AppleJack Daniel's sipping sider

Everyone has them. You might cringe or giggle at the ghosties but they are there.
I have a bunch of fears but I am functional.

Well, at least more functional than Adrian Monk.
That guy is afraid of milk.

I will share one with you. I am afraid of the Dark. The psychologists call it "Nyctophobia".…

Seriously, I can't sleep in a totally dark room. I would just freak out.

When I went on a business trip to Atlanta, the room was pitch dark at night. I had to keep the bathroom light on, and keep the door cracked for some light.

Lucky for me, there are streetlamps outside at home so I get enough light. My computer's motherboard actually glows bright enough too.

I also can't walk by a totally dark room without looking in or closing the door. There is a voice inside that whispers,"Take a peek, maybe you will see something." I would like to ignore that voice, but I just have to look.

That is the other part, the fascination. I want to see if there is something looking back. Thank goodness, I don't see anything. This also covers my interest in empty dark storefronts, dark areas under bridges and other places.

Do you have a fear and fascination with the Dark?
Please share.

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Dawnrex15 Featured By Owner Jul 19, 2015  Hobbyist Writer
How's chapter 9 coming along?
leoatelier Featured By Owner Jun 28, 2015   General Artist
Thanks for adding one of my captures to your faves!
Much appreciate it:)
JRSnaith Featured By Owner Jun 24, 2015  Hobbyist Writer
Thank you for the +fav 

:D (Big Grin) 
Sahinsari Featured By Owner Jun 13, 2015  Professional Interface Designer
Thanks for the fav.
TheSlimeKing Featured By Owner Jun 10, 2015  Hobbyist Writer
So how's life?
sevenofeleven Featured By Owner Jun 11, 2015
Life's a beach when you need kelp!
Dawnrex15 Featured By Owner Jun 4, 2015  Hobbyist Writer
This is for you. 💕Read till the end, it's adorable. I sent an angel to watch over you last night but it came back. When I asked "why?" the angel said "Angels don't watch over angels" 😇Twenty angels are in your world. Ten of them are sleeping, nine of them are playing and one is reading this message. God has seen you struggling with some things and God says it's over. A blessing is coming your way. If you believe in God, send this to 14 friends, including me. As soon as you get 5 replies, someone you love💕 will quietly surprise you... Not joking. Pass this message on. Please don't ignore it. You are being tested and god is going to fix two big things tonight in your favor. If you believe in god drop everything and pass it on TOMORROW WILL BE THE BEST DAY OF YOUR LIFE. 🐇DON'T BREAK THIS. SEND THIS TO 14 FRIENDS IN 10 MINUTES IT'S NOT THAT HARD. don't forget, 
segaman4 Featured By Owner May 29, 2015
And give ke your honest opinion
segaman4 Featured By Owner May 29, 2015… here you go eerythings is put together
sevenofeleven Featured By Owner May 29, 2015
The beginning is an info dump.
You are better off starting with some action or some conversation and dribbling in the info. A lot of readers do not like large chunks of exposition and they will skip it.

Maybe you could start with one of your chars on mercury, living a peaceful life and then use a flashback to show how they got here.

There should be a way in which you can go over the past and not be such a big info dump.
Maybe you could go over the char's past while they are in the alien jail cells?

Is this part of a series or a new story?
I can tell from the first chapter, you could do a bit more description.
Is there a way I could get this story in another format?
I can't select any sentences which means I can't show you your errors.
Can you copy the text into google docs?
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