She was never really a bother to anyone but she always appeared to be in the way of bad things. The time she stood on the pavement and was splashed with muddy water or the time she walked under a building and paint fell on her. Her name was Fay, Fayetta, and Fayetta had a messy room. Clothes scattered across the room, her dress, her toys. Mr. Rousseau was her doll’s name, her rosy cheek red hair doll and dark buttons for eyes. Originally the doll didn’t have buttons for eyes but she couldn’t recall what color they were.
Mr. Rousseau often helped her in her daily mysteries of life. She was Sherlock and he was Watson. And today’s mystery was a rugged one.
“Oh where, oh where, could my left shoe be”, she tapped her chin as she asked herself. She picked up her trusted companion and mimicked his words because dolls don’t talk. “W-what if it was the thief! The thief from Heathrow Lane? All shrouded in black and blue. Perhaps he took the shoe”
“Oh! I say my dear Watson, you are a genius, lets ask Tellalot Bear. That bear can’t tell a lie”
“Indeed… but Lialot Goat is always there”
“And so we’ll have to find the truth dear Watson!!”
I had the weirdest dream that I was on a train and I was falling to my death after some pink haired girl supposedly blew it up and told me she had to watch me die in order to finish a commission. I also dreamt a large pinkish bird caught me in its talons and afterwards I don’t know, but my head aches like I cracked it. In fact I believe I did, I woke up and immediately my hand went to my head. It was wrapped like I was injured.
I was in some sort of room, smelled wet, musty and a little like mildew. I waved away the flies that flew in my face. No one was here, I was alone in a room. Is this me in Purga? Am I dead now? Ollie, he’s dead! Spiders, they were every where. Where was I!?
“Hey, your mind is very loud and I can’t disconnect from you so can you think about ponies and rainbows?”, said a mysterious girl sitting near a desk in the room. She wore a dark hood over her eyes so I assumed she was a crowd. “Nice to see you wake, Stalker man”, she alleged.
“Who are you? Are you with that girl?”
“Mavis?”, she tipped her head. “If you count being related then yes. I’m her sister, Krisis”
That is not a normal name for a female but this isn’t about gender right now. “Where am I?”, my voice was quick in my inquiry.
“In Nuyung”, she answered.
“The slums?”, she removed herself from her seat to strike me. “I’m sick of you uppers talking down on us, calling where we live the slums. You have no idea what goes on down here”
I rubbed my face. “My apologies”, I didn’t bother to ask again since I technically got my reply. “You know Noctis has a uniform system?”
“Yeah…”, she muttered. “Why should we Crowds care for the stupid rule, you aren’t in uniform, Stalker”
“I have a name”, I commented.
“And I’ll ask for it when it matters”
“I didn’t ask for yours and it didn’t seem important”
She bent my way, her hood covering her eyes, showing only her full lips and nose. “Touché”
“So… why am I here?”, I wondered. “I should be dead, the girl with pink hair–”
“Mavis”, she added.
“–She said someone wanted me dead”
“I was on the train and she tore it up, killed Ollie–”
I looked her way, “an Illusion?”, then I thought of what she said, that she could make what happen on the train an accident by sending an illusion through the t.v. “An illusion, that’s her niche, we all have a gift”
“They say the boss is an old fool now, withering away, how is the boss?”
“Marcello Arch is fine… I… Don’t expect people to care for him, he isn’t exactly nice ya know?”
He has done some wrong, that wasn’t a lie. The boss was known, he wasn’t a secret about what he practiced, he liked credit for the things he did like a public execution of Don Gnocchi on April 9th 3XX. The Don was a priest and according to him a swine, a liar, and a cheat. “The Boss is… respected, no?”
“Respected is not a word we use. I’m personally scared of him, his mind is not a tranquil thing. Always thinking… planning…”, she said with reluctance. “He’s like us… a Crowd. He is a… generous man, however, willing to lift a target off someone by doing him a favor then they can join the clique if they so choose and be his underling”
“Mavis told me I could bring the target off my back by joining the pack. Can I?”
“Not my choice, ask Marcello. If he likes you, he might let you but….”, she walked closer to me. “Get ready to take a life. Crowds aren’t normal, we break this world’s logic, you better get ready to be an outcast stalker… this carefree life but might be even better as soon as you pick a blade to a neck”
I cringed, she took out a dagger and thrusted it towards my neck then smiled slightly. “Suppose you can stand blood?”, she put the knife away.
“Sure, I just can’t stand spiders”
She laughed softly. “Spiders scare you? What about death?”, she stated. “You never wake up once you black out, breathing becomes hard, everything feels heavy and stiff. There is no white light but the sensation of your soul leaving you. Let me ask who is your God, Stalker?”
She squinted her eyes. “That’s a all mighty God… do you know him?”
“That’s the first God… isn’t the way Noctis works is everyone has some ties to a supernatural being?”
“Yes”, she cut across her arms. “Your blood traces back to him?”
I looked down to the floor. “Yeah”, I lied. I’m not a blood born. Noctis has eight gods, an even number in gender however so lines are a bit crossed. Mundus had several wives five that were human. Blood borns are privileged bastards who sit high. Pampered, spoiled, politics as well. I don’t even know our president but he’s awful. The laws like this dress code, even an IQ requirement on the women. Your blood depends on access to places as well. Even riding the train so that’s why I’m so concentrated on that pink lady, her hair shouldn’t be dyed. Black, Brown, and Red are the only colors allowed. Rebels are… so brave. They will pluck you from the streets and harass you about your hair.
“Lucky… you have some privilege?”, her mouth twisted into a smile but she was down right hating. No one likes privileged, they strain to make everybody their whipping boys. They have… entitlement, smack you down for talking to them. I’m not privilege but… I’m special case. I may not be blood born specifically but… I know my ways, I have some status. “Yeah… I’m Lucky”, I grinned.
“Don’t be smug about it, Rich boy, speaking of… why you pretending to be a bum?”, she sneered. Wow, mighty, tone down that attitude, this is what I mean, I should simply come out with it, but I don’t care about status or… my situation. “None of your concern of what my business is”, I snapped back in return of that attitude change. I am not the one, I’m really not.
She looked offended by how my voice changed, she was avoiding my gaze, the door swung open finally. Mavis walked in, her hood on her head and something clasped in her hand. “Your awake”, she looked at me then at Krisis. Both had such… I guess boring voices. No enthusiasm, no vibe, just tired and numb inside. Usually that marks an intelligent individual.
“So you wanna be a Crowd? Kill a person for a dallion or two? Maybe a sack of coin or gems?”
“Well… someone tried to take my life. If they had the guts then so do i”
“But not with spiders”, chimed in Krisis.
I looked at her, stared her down. “Excuse you”
She shyed her eyes away, Mavis looked at her sister. “What’s wrong? You scared of a bum?”, she cut across her arms and smirked. “That’s a Privilege!”
Mavis’s head snapped back to me with bewilderment then smiled wildly. “Oh… then you should definitely join. Marcello would love you… a privilege in the crowd, drive the city mad”
Oh yeah, drive’em mad. “Mavis! A privilege in the ranks, come on!”
“Krisis”, she put her hands on her sister shoulder. “There is walking opportunity and money right there, so, shut up. That’s a ticket I’m cashing in”
“Cash in?”, I raised a eyebrow.
“Oh yes. Your gonna hand us some land. Nice fat home, all you gotta do is a favor for the Boss”
A favor, I heard the Boss ask simple favors not too heavy, I might even get a reward, but really imma just leave the first sign of danger. I’m not screwing with Crowds.
I heard a click and my eyes snapped open “Remember how I said your mind isn’t really quiet?”, said Krisis holding a handgun to my temple, “You wanna bail? Fine, but we hold to cross off the mission.
“I’ve made a mistake”, I said in a hush tone.
“Damn right… now. Marcello has been holding this thing needed done and your perfect just cause your blood born. You know how the Treasurer is in charge of the city wealth?”
“Oh for the love of my God. You want me to kill the Treasurer, Ben MaBishi?”, I shouted. “He’s a pack of power, I could get thrown in prison–”
Forgetting she owned the gun against my temple. “You ain’t gots a choice, Stalker”
“Hullo, my names Dimitri, I have this name and it is not stalker”
She pushed the gun against my head. “I never asked nor do I care”
“Well if you don’t care I guess I don’t have to do this”
The gun clicked again. “You don’t have a choice”
What else am I going to do? What more could I have said? Get killed for simply not cooperating? I’ve just nearly had it with death threats, I’m a peaceful stalker, I steal from people, I don’t need this. Thus I agreed cause I don’t need the drama in my life. Mavis drove a 350 Planet a luxury car, a decent gloss of black, tinted windows and red leather seats. Krisis even had the gun poked at me but digging in my back with it. “That’s, um, a nice car… how you get it?”, of course I was going to ask. Planets cost a lot of coin and the rich and privileged own them, I was not at all surprised by her reply. “I get paid real well for murder. You can as well, walk softly and carry a large gun. That’s my motto”
Krisis pushed me into the car and wrapped a blindfold on me. “Why?” I questioned. “It’s simply a rule for people like you and Marcello has been paranoid after last year”
“He got shot during a heist? I remember that. Big Bad Gangsta Shot”, she tied the fold tighter on my head at my mention.
“Yeah”. I was entirely blind to my surroundings, Didn’t even try to peek under the blindfold. The ride was long and it was bumpy and the only bumpy roads I know are like going to the points, the mountains, why does a big syndicate hide in the mountains. I was also real careful with my thoughts since some tiny woman can read minds. I suppose I fell asleep for a minute after we came to a halt, I’m assuming they dragged me out the car. When I awoke I was in a fancy house, sitting in the kitchen staring across a man with slicked back black hair and another brown skinned man beside him. The man with greased hair was eating and the other stood.
“Mmm”, he moaned. “I have to thank my god for such a fantastic meal. “Now, who the F is this street rat?”
I’ve just about had it with the name calling. “Marcello… this Stalker would like to rid the target on him”, said Mavis. Krisis lend in my ear and whispered. “The right way to address him is not begging. Say ‘I wish to invoke a debt, a wish for you’
I was…. skeptical about that phasing but I didn’t think twice of it. “Marcello… I wish to invoke a debt with you… in exchange for my life. A favor.” I changed the word unintentionally as they occurred from my lips.
“What is this favor”, his voice was deep, a bit intimidating for me.
“I care to rid the hit put on me”
He wiped the corners of his mouth. “Hits are not easily removed but I am a decent, decent man”
“Marcello… you’ve been allowing too many take a life pass”, said the brown individual
“Kleo… I got this. People respect their lives”, he looked at me. “Give me a reason”
“If I may speak Marcello, the boy is a blood born, traces back to Mundus”
His eyes shot open and he blinked. “Well…”
“You can use him for that thing”
“What thing?”, the brown man nudged him. “Oh! Oh, oh, oh, shut up. I got this”
I tilted my head, this man was….. the great boss? I was so skittish, but I feel this childish air about him now, but this is a man that shot down a blimp, killed eight hundred people, so I should shut up, I’m gambling my life.”Say you wanna be a crowd, if you succeed the mission, you won’t receive any more hits on your head”, Krisis whispered. Her attitude change was annoying, nice and friendly and so hateful
“I have a deed that needs done and you are the perfect candidate. I’m not a blood born, but a bronze blood and this peculiar person, Ben MaBishi, has decided to turn his back on his family–”
“He’s my cousin–”
“Why don’t you kill your own family?”
He glowered at me, “don’t cut me off again”, his right hand man chuckled. I looked down and bit my tongue, mistake mistake.
“He’s my cousin, a cheat, a liar and a gambler. The man has a problem and he ran to me for service. I, being the good cousin, oftered assistance. Long story short, he’s in there, sitting pretty when I did…. everything for him”, he frowned. “The bastard owns money, no one but me knows he’s been gambling half the cash out the bank and he owns me payments”
Then quit making your cousin pay you back, he’s probably using that gov money to pay you back, I thought these things but I didn’t say them outloud. Once again it slipped my mind that Krisis could hear me. She ran a nail down my neck, I believed it was a nail but it was a knife.
“Evil it may be but I have 99 problems and this bitch is one. As a pure blood you can slide in the casinos. “He’s a stalker as well sir”, said Mavis.
“Perfect, you stick to him and cut him down in an alley or his home, if you follow him home, make it look like an accident. I’m sending Hallelujah to watch you, don’t lose him or I’ll be sending someone after you again”
I swallowed hard, I don’t like death threats. “He’s at Green Back Casino, doing his work… kill him and the hit is raised”
“If I succeed, can I be a crowd?”, I demanded. He smirked at me. “Ooh, that’s the first I’ve been asked that, I could use a blood born in the ranks. You look promising, like Hallelujah did when I plucked him from the streets, good with guns. He’ll hand you one if needed. Do good and I just might…”
The minute I stepped on the ground pass the fences, gravity weighed me down. I struggled to break free. Who marked this territory?
As much as I passed through here, it’s always been free. I don’t know why we started this tagging thing. It only divides us and divides the hood.
“Hey! You wanna get beat kid! You crossing the wrong line”
I looked up just barely at the faces. I muttered sorry under my breath, but I didn’t mean it. Screw these taggers.
“Ooo”, one boy cooed at me. He traveled behind me, out of sight, and rooted for my tail. I shrieked in pain.
He laughed, “Look at the little pepper, he has a tail. A ghost tail”
Pepper… I wondered if it was because of my freckles that dotted my brown skin. It made sense that it would, my mom use to call them chips across my face. Straight across my nose, I got them from Youngblood.
I hissed, flicking my baby fangs at him. He just smirked and put his foot on my back. “Kagan! What you want with him?”, the boy asked.
The man named Kagan stomped the ground, I felt it shake beneath me. Was he causing this gravity?
He snapped his fingers and I could finally take a breather, he lifted the tag from my body. “You know what territory this is little hoodling?”, he asked me. I may be a hoodling, but he talked like he wasn’t, those obvious claws and cat eyes along with the fangs hanging out.
“I’m sorry…”, I said.
“Cute brat”, he stated. “Leon kick the boy out”
I looked at the ground, their tag was glowing yellow. A cat paw with gold claws. I acknowledged that the paw had five fingers. I looked at Kagan’s hand, he was missing his pinky on the right hand. His eyes were amber, he looked like a beaten up kitten.
“What’s your name boy?”
I stood up and looked at the members of his pride. They all had whiskers painted on their faces except him and the boy he called Leon, who was tan in the face with. Scar over his left eye.
“Oasis…”, I said
“Oasis? You African?”
They asked me this within the reason that many Africans mark the hood. A hoodling like me separates themselves and are distinguishing by the fact we have animal tails.
“You part of the Taboo Clan?”, he growled, bearing his fangs at me. “I should cut your tail off!”
He took that step forward and I felt the ground tremble beneath me. I backed away slowly, hitting Leon’s chest. I looked up at him with concern in my eyes. He kicked me on the ground and yanked my tail.
Making it to be visible. He was going to cut my tail off. He might as easily rip out my spine. Two others pinned me with their knees on my arm as Leon prepared to take my tail. Kagan watched, smoking vapor. I struggle, Leon pulled my tail and i heard the sounds of a flicking blade.
I’m not even African… I’m just as cursed but you just don’t tell a hoodling that. They never listen, their too angry and to hateful.
They blame ancestry for this problem we have. Some form of spell… a curse? Not many know why… your either a witch which is rare or one of us.
I felt a piercing pain in my back then Leon got off me and the rest of the cats made a run for it. I heard howls and growls behind me followed by racing paws. I could just barely wag. My black tail was cut half way. Youngblood helped me up, he growled at me and I whimpered as always when he was sore at me.
He gripped under my sleeve and dragged me to the car. I didn’t bother to come up with an apology. I looked behind me, Black Panthers… Kagan was a huge black guy with gray stripes and a scar I couldn’t tell because he was wearing a huge jacket.
I’m always surprised how no one can pick up the screaming as the dogs chewed on them like toys.
“Your stupid”, he said to me as he smoked. “You couldn’t see that tag?”
“No”, i said.
“We don’t cross Black Panthers. Their hoods and they ain’t right, you know this”
“Blood it wasn’t on purpose! I didn’t see it and I wasn’t hanging out with them! Like a cat would love a dog like me”, I said as I climbed into the rear of the truck.
“Your right”, he stared at me blowing red smoke. “No one would mess with a mongrel like you. I’m placing you back in your cage, puppy”
“I’m freaking 7! You can’t keep putting me in the basement!”
“Every time you leave the yard, you find trouble. If you’re not bringing home a rat, you’re bringing a hood girl home, Oasis”
“Mia isn’t a hood”
“Your a hoodling and she’s a hoodlum. End of story”
I really don’t know. I just free wrote this without a thought.