A Proper Hero (Part 3)

Parts 1 | 2


The feeling that I had while watching my body being buried could be best described as…

You know what? It was indescribable. Not least because my own gaze was drawn towards Aiden, tirelessly digging and shovelling, not resting for even a single moment.

Subliminal twinges of pain, strangeness, and dissonance attacked me all at once. I took some time to allow that that ever peculiar feeling of regret wash me from inside out, before finally discarding it like an old rag.

I had no use for it any longer.


Marcus was dead. But the Wraith was well and truly alive.

The Wraith’s hand was cold and deadly. It didn’t take long for my old home village to be gripped in terror, paralysed by fear. First, it was one death. Then, numerous trickled in.

Not everybody who died died. Like myself, I used their bodies as a guise for them to join my army, to turn the Wraith from one man into an army. After all, no dark lord would be complete without an army.

But some… some had to die. I couldn’t get used to the senseless violence. But there was reason behind it. For Aiden to become the greatest hero, sacrifices were needed. Each life attributed to the Wraith made my legend grow, which would make Aiden’s eventual defeat of me even more awe-inspiring.

It had to be. For each life that was drained via my hand, each light in the eyes that glinted for one final time, each throat that sounded its last gurgling cry… there was a point. Your lives had purpose.

And so I built. I grew strong. I left some of my minions and lieutenants for Aiden to kill. Taught him the tricks of the trade.

From Arathos, he learned to conquer fear itself. That his fists and mind were just as mighty as his sword swinging skills, even when he was trampled into the ground, laughed at from all directions.

From Munk, he learned that in a world of magic, his eyes were not to be trusted. That his wits had to be about him at all times, for vision was but another tool to be manipulated.

From Liskin, he learned that he had allies. That his friends and companions were behind him, willing him to succeed, pushing him to heights greater than he ever could by himself.

Weeks. Months. Years.

Until the one day arrived.

A Proper Hero (Part 2)

A part 2 continuation of yesterday’s writing prompt


The sunlight fought its way through each leaf on every tree speckling the forest floor with a unique, shining tapestry. I watched, perched on top of a tree branch, as each tiny pinprick of light moved independently, some swaying freely, some jittering agitatedly.

Much like how the remaining tatters of fabric billowed gently on my body, while Aiden was shivering and shaking in utter shock.

It was convincing. So convincing that I had a hard time believing that I was alive. But that was the power of magical glamour and a little human ingenuity. It was merely a doll, but for all of Aiden’s strength and potential in combat, he failed to see through what was a fairly rudimentary trick.

No matter. It was necessary. For the both of us.

“I can’t believe it,” Aiden muttered, his voice rife with grief and sorrow. “Marcus… gone… just gone like that.”

He was right, in a way. For Marcus laid on the floor, cold and already dead. I was no longer Marcus. I had to be something else to drive Aiden to be a hero like this world has never seen before.

What’s done was done. Marcus was dead.

I could hear it. The crack of thunder on the far side, the threatening speed of festering clouds. Turned out that the magic for predicting weather rather than creating it was far less taxing to learn.

I jumped from the tree. There was a thud, and just in time, wind gusted behind me. The leaves blew up, smacking itself rather rudely into Marcus and Aiden. And then, I laughed.

Aiden stared up at me. His big, blue eyes, still childlike in so many ways, contained thousands of questions. But I knew the first one that would roll off his tongue.

“Who the hell are you?”

“There are many answers to that question,” I cackled. “To some, I’m known as The Calamity. To you, I might be known as the being who killed your dear friend you were hugging so tightly.”

Those eyes. They expressed so much, and I don’t think Aiden could ever truly understand why others were so willing to sacrifice something for him. His irises darkened, warping from an endless ocean of despair into the static-filled electricity of anger.

“You!” he cried. “You!”

Even to a person he’s never met before, he was so trusting. But then, really, what could I gain from lying? Aside from the wonderful feeling of my heart being torn asunder, as I’m sure that his was but a few moments ago.

“Why?” Aiden pleaded. “What had Marcus ever done to you?”

“Do you not see? I desire nothing more but for you to become the hero you deserve to be,” I said. I began pacing, one hand held behind my back as I began gesticulating dramatically with my other. “Simply put, he was holding you back. An obstacle. A sapling stealing your sunlight, destined to be rooted out before it was too late.”

Every word was true. Twisted and debased, perhaps, but true.

Not another word came from Aiden. But as lightning flashed in the grey sky, and the first curtain of rain covered our little theatre, he charged at me, sword in hand, and tears streaming from those honest eyes.

As expected. I quickly swiped it away, revealing the dagger I had stowed behind me.

“Not so fast, Aiden,” I said.

“… How did you–“

“It matters not. But our battle merely begins here. The ending will be glorious, but it is yet to come.”

I smiled. Bittersweet. I pushed off his blade, backing away into the shadows of the forest, allowing my next line to echo out from the darkness.

“Till then. When you are a proper hero.”

Parting words settled, I leapt into the canopy once again, watching as Aiden shouted and searched desperately. He never looked up. It didn’t take long before he returned to Marcus, carrying him in his arms, trudging slowly and stumbling occasionally back to the village. He would rather let his knees crash to the ground in exhaustion rather than let a single piece of my former self’s clothing touch the ground itself.

I couldn’t help it when a tear rolled down my eye. A droplet that contained misery and unwavering determination in equal measure.


Part 3 here: https://draconiquesdrafts.wordpress.com/2020/09/26/a-proper-hero-part-3/

[WP] My best friend always said they dreamed of becoming a great hero, like the ones you hear about in stories. But they knew that it wasn’t something you could seek out, it had to be thrust upon you. Well, after years of villainous plotting, I’m ready to make my best friend’s dreams come true. [by Nev3rKnowsBest]

I’m always reminded of this proverb every time I think about Aiden.

You know, the one about how there’s a tree in the centre of a village, and there’s only two hours to cut down the tree. One woodcutter takes his axe, and immediately starts swinging his axe, all gung-ho like. Another woodcutter used an entire hour to sharpen his axe.

I like the story. But really, if you were a woodcutter, wouldn’t you be regularly sharpening your axe? What do you do with the other 22 hours of your life? That was Aiden, you know. He finds something he likes, and he poured all his efforts towards it.

Being a hero was admirable. It really was. But Aiden, bless his heart, he didn’t want to just be a hero. He wanted to be legendary; a household name, one whose name appeared in stories and songs, in poems and on posters. That kind of hero.

But he never sought to understand. For all the stories he’ve read, he never quite understood what makes a hero great.

It’s their counterpart. The villain. The big bad. The person who crows and says “we’re not that different after all,” in spite of their obvious differences in philosophies and methods.

See, a great hero need great adversity. Who knew how many people in the world were ready to be heroes, but were stunted by the lack of proper opposition? Even the most ferocious of lions forget how to hunt after living a life of kept luxury.

So, thank you, Aiden, for your friendship. You are a fantastic person.

But there’s one thing you’re not. Not yet, at least. A great hero. But I’ll make sure of it.

First, there was betrayal. It would hurt you. It would hurt me even more. But it was necessary for your metamorphosis. I…

“What are you thinking about now, you silly goose?” Aiden laughed and poked my cheek.

“Hmm?” I jolted out of my trance. “Oh. Nothing, really.”

“So, are you coming with me tomorrow?”

“To the forests?” I said. “Of course. I have… plans for tomorrow.”

“You know,” Aiden chuckled. “The way you say it? You sound like a proper villain.”

“I do, don’t I?” I couldn’t help it. A few peals of cackling left me.

Chortling turned to guffaws. Soon, for almost no reason at all, we found ourselves wheezing, out of breath, bent over double from our stomachs hurting so much.

It was a fitting memory. Laughing till our stomachs hurt. Because tomorrow, in a forest nearly devoid of light and life, at least two hearts would be split part from the agony inflicted by me.

All for a good cause. All for you to become a hero.


Part 2 here: https://draconiquesdrafts.wordpress.com/2020/09/25/a-proper-hero-part-2/

[WP] recently pieces of dead bodies has been appearing throughout the city. as a detective, you along with your boss are tasked to find the culprit. what they didn’t know however is that you are the one who killed all of them. [by catat1710]

“Look at this poor thing, Don,” my partner said. He knelt, and instinctively, one hand moved to cross himself.

“Another one?” I grimaced. I walked over to Alex, and looked over his shoulder. I sighed.

“I never get used to seeing these,” I said.

“Me too,” Alex agreed. “Even for how long I’ve been on the job… this is something else.”

It was true. I did never get used to seeing them, bloated and unrecognizable from their original forms. But it was necessary. I don’t do what I do for some sort of sick satisfaction and pat myself on the back. It’s only because it’s the right thing to do.

“This is what,” I tapped my chin. “The eighth one now?”

Alex nodded. He was far less squeamish than me when it came to this sort of thing, and he was now examining the part of the corpse meticulously.

“Why don’t you just wait for forensics to get here?” I tapped him on the shoulder. “I don’t think this is going to be of much use.”

“Wait,” he said. “Wait.”

He kept on saying wait, softer and softer each time. He leaned in close.

“Tweezers,” Alex said.

I took a pair out from the toolkit. Gingerly, he held it, and extracted something.

“Look at this damned thing, Don,” Alex said. Unexpectedly, a smile broke out on his face. “We might have something after all.”

Alex was good. Maybe the best in the business. I felt an involuntary shudder down my spine.

I grabbed a plastic bag, and Alex carefully put it in. I wrote down a label for it, before furiously writing something in my notepad.

“Right,” Alex said. “Can’t take much more of that. I’m going to go have a smoke far away from here.”

“You go on ahead,” I said. “I’ll just put this in the car.”

We trudged in two opposite directions. I opened the car door, tossing the evidence onto the passenger’s seat.

Shit. God damn shit!

I banged my fist on the steering wheel. I took one, two, three deep breaths.

I couldn’t believe it. How could I have been so careless?

My hand shakily opened the notepad, frantically flipping through the previous pages. I started muttering, making sure that I wouldn’t commit such a stupid mistake ever again.

Dropping a piece of evidence near the body? Unacceptable. That’s liable to get me into trouble. If I wanted to continue doing what was good for this godforsaken world, I had to be more careful.

Thanks, Alex. Without you, I would have been caught long, long ago.

[WP] “Would one of you idiots please explain to me how you managed to lose THE FREAKING MOON?!” [by Kirbykoopa]

See, the moon was a celestial body. It was, by all accounts, very large and heavy.

“How?” I asked. “Just… how?”

I scanned the flustered, fleeting gazes in front of me. All of them failed to look me in the eyes, instead preferring to leave their mouths periodically agape, like struggling fish out of the water.

“I need a response. A report. Something to help me explain how a celestial body is no longer in the god-forsaken sky,” I rubbed my temples as I ranted.

A slowly wavering hand gradually made its way into the air. This was supposed to be a highly professional, trained band of followers, not an elementary school class. I sighed, and pointed.

“Um,” a nervous voice said. “The moon wanted to take a break.”

“The… the what?” my voice raised a few octaves and a lot of decibels.

“That’s what she said,” another person spoke up, her head nodding rapidly, like an old bobble head on a speeding car’s dashboard. “The moon wanted to take a break.”

“That’s not uncommon,” I said. “What’s wrong is that she’s just freaking gone!”

So, that was it. Nothing to go by. I let out the longest, deepest sigh I’ve had in my long career as a huntress. Not even when I missed an arrow on Typhon was I this upset.

“I’m really sorry, Lady Artemis,” the patronizing apologies came now.

“No need,” I said, preparing my bow and quiver. “I’ll just have to find that anti-social Selene hiding in the constellations somewhere by myself. You girls… make up an explanation. Change the lunar calendar or something.”

The hunt was on. And Selene better watch out, because I was certain that a few arrows would accidentally slip from my bowstring at high speed, giving her a few more craters that she already had.

I was angry, obviously. Even a little impressed. Because how in the hell did these people accomplish the impossible feat of losing the freaking moon?

See, the moon was a celestial body. It was, by all accounts, very large and heavy.

“How?” I asked. “Just… how?”

I scanned the flustered, fleeting gazes in front of me. All of them failed to look me in the eyes, instead preferring to leave their mouths periodically agape, like struggling fish out of the water.

“I need a response. A report. Something to help me explain how a celestial body is no longer in the god-forsaken sky,” I rubbed my temples as I ranted.

A slowly wavering hand gradually made its way into the air. This was supposed to be a highly professional, trained band of followers, not an elementary school class. I sighed, and pointed.

“Um,” a nervous voice said. “The moon wanted to take a break.”

“The… the what?” my voice raised a few octaves and a lot of decibels.

“That’s what she said,” another person spoke up, her head nodding rapidly, like an old bobble head on a speeding car’s dashboard. “The moon wanted to take a break.”

“That’s not uncommon,” I said. “What’s wrong is that she’s just freaking gone!”

So, that was it. Nothing to go by. I let out the longest, deepest sigh I’ve had in my long career as a huntress. Not even when I missed an arrow on Typhon was I this upset.

“I’m really sorry, Lady Artemis,” the patronizing apologies came now.

“No need,” I said, preparing my bow and quiver. “I’ll just have to find that anti-social Selene hiding in the constellations somewhere by myself. You girls… make up an explanation. Change the lunar calendar or something.”

The hunt was on. And Selene better watch out, because I was certain that a few arrows would accidentally slip from my bowstring at high speed, giving her a few more craters that she already had.

[WP] The purple rose, its looks were as deadly as the poison in its thorns. [by oxycleans]

The purple rose, its looks as deadly as the poison in its thorns.

It had grown out alone, yet it never looked forlorn.

It was but a flower. But what a flower it was. The beautiful bud, unmatched by all. It swayed and danced to every breeze on its own terms, and never yielded or wilted regardless of the circumstances.

So many were mesmerized by it. So many found themselves deeply entranced, wanting to pick it up and make it their own.

The purple rose, its looks as deadly as the poison in its thorns, had other ideas. First, fight through the jealous mob that watched its every motion, desperately clinging and praising. Then, a little closer in, battle the people who do nothing but hurl insults at the purple rose and its admirers, contributing the exact amount the other party accomplishes: nothing.

Made your way through, and a surprise awaited. No life surrounded it. No one dared to get close to it.

The thorns were there, but they were guarded and unsullied. Navigate your way through them, and maybe, you can hold the purple rose in your own hands.

But beware. For the purple rose, one misstep was all it took to find yourself laying, wheezing, and watching your very life exit the mortal vessel, sucked up and discarded by the alluring flower.

Then, there will be always the next one. The next brave one who dared. Maybe one day, some day, somebody would finally understand: for the purple rose, whose looks were as deadly as the poison in its thorns, all it really wanted to do was to be left alone, basking in the sun, being seen not as purple but as a rose.

[WP] Your one of the most powerful hero’s of your generation. You have a distinguished hero lineage and amazing super powers. No one takes you seriously though because you HATE costumes and prefer genes and a t-shirt. [by mdsmestad]

It felt like the entire world had stopped and looked at me.

I had just dropped an apparent bombshell at dinner, apparently. I looked around, instinctively knowing that my time freeze powers were not currently in effect, but I mentally switched it off. Just in case. Nope, nothing change. Just agape mouths and wide eyes staring back at me, spoonfuls of rice hanging in mid-air as gracefully as bricks.

“No… no costume?” were the first words spoken since mine. They came courtesy of my father, who was still in his work clothes. An offensively yellow suit was paired with an insultingly purple belt and shoulder pads, forming the persona of Xanther the Great.

“No costume,” I reiterated. “I don’t like them. Jeans and a tee are much more comfy, anyway.”

“No… secret identity?” my mother asked. She had introduced hints of yellow and purple to her current costume, but the dominant, aggressively red and skintight leather was what continued to drew eyes onto her.

“I think we of all people should know that it’s basically a wink and a nudge at this point,” I said. I continued spooning rice into my mouth. It was white. Plain and simple. Something I wished the rest of my family understood.

“No… catchphrase?” my sister said. God. Her costume. Just… an utter abomination that even Jackson Pollock would have looked at and agreed that there was too much going on. And what the hell did ‘always go, go, go’ even actually meant?

“No,” was all that I offered on the particular subject.

I could feel the boiling. The inevitable tirade of questions and expressions of disappointments, and the whole spiel about legacy and following in your forefather’s footsteps or something. And so, I left.

I felt the cool night breeze directly in my face. It was pleasant, but I didn’t really feel like it that day. I inhaled, pursing my lips and pushed out the air slowly. The breeze changed its direction, now on my back, and I continued walking down the pavement.

It didn’t make any sense. None of it. Saving people was fine. That was part of the job. Everything else? Just a mindless gimmick.

The muttering occupied my thoughts. All of a sudden, I felt myself running into another person. As I quickly turned to apologise, I felt a blade pressed against my throat.

“Your money or your life,” the would-be mugger threatened.

20 metres into the air, two begs for mercy, and a snivelling apology later, I continued on my walk.

My ears wiggled. It had picked up something. A man. Holding an unwilling woman. I lifted into the air and closed my eyes, letting my hearing take me where I needed to go.

“What the hell?” was the first thing I heard. I’ve seen this many times. The would-be criminal turns, stares at somebody floating in the air, and runs off screaming.

But no. The man instead grinned maniacally. There was a sickening plunging sound, something that I never expected.

I instantly froze time, but it was too late. A hidden knife had found itself plunged into the woman. The thief’s feet were currently twisting, preparing themselves to run away.

I felt red-hot anger burst from within. Why? Why did this man not run away?

As I prepared myself to lunge at the man, I felt a familiar hand on my shoulder. There was only two people in the world that would have even been able to move at all.

“James,” he said. Not my father. Xanther the Great. “Save the girl first. Don’t lose sight of that.”

It took but seconds to accomplish both tasks. But my decision was to attack the aggressor first. Not save the victim.

“I…” was the only word that I could muster. He turned towards me.

“This wouldn’t have happened if you had a costume,” he said.

“But why?” I asked. “I had everything else. I was flying in the air!”

“I don’t know,” he admitted. “I just know it works. It’s what gets the right people afraid, and gives the right people hope.”

“It just…” I said.

“I know you have it in you,” he continued. “But it’s still your choice. This isn’t something I’m going to force you into.”

I thought. I looked towards him. My father, once more. For all his super, I could see tiny streaks of grey in his hair, wrinkles deep and weathered in his visage.

I nodded. I felt a slow tear trail itself down my cheek. I opened my mouth, closed, and finally spoke after much deliberation.

“Can it at least not be yellow?”

[CW] Create the final page of a huge 5000 page novel set in a world of magical realism where you name three characters, two items that act different than our world, and one poem. [by Baldeagle77]

“This is goodbye, then. I’ll leave you two to it. I’m sure there’s a lot to talk about.”

They could have sworn that for perhaps the first time in their and his life, Moby Basalt had the beginnings of a smile playing on the corners of his mouth, ruining the ever-statuesque look he had so carefully sculpted for himself.

Then, the final remnants of Cadence flared once, twice, and it was gone. The violent purple glare they had grown so used to now faded away, and the seven-coloured rainbow of the human world rushed back into all that was surrounding them.

Jean Slate and Xavier Flint stole a glance at each other, before quickly turning away, instinctively hiding their blushing cheeks and heated visages. It was true that they had spent an inordinate amount of time together. But now, having spent and shaved years together with Moby Basalt as a trio for so long, the now-duo wasn’t sure what to do.

“So,” Jean spoke first. “What now?”

Xavier remained silent. He didn’t know what to say. For he was deathly afraid of ruining the moment.

“I wrote a poem for you,” Xavier blurted out.

“What?” Jean said. Bemused, her eyebrows lifted a little higher, and her cheeks burned a little redder.

“Oh god,” Xavier said, hand embarrassedly rubbing the back of his own head. “I… I don’t know. I thought we were never getting out of Xolon. I just wrote it one day.”

“… Have you ever written a poem?”

“I don’t think so. That said, I’ve not done a lot of things,” Xavier suddenly felt an impulsive strength run through him, and he looked into Jean’s golden eyes. “Until I met you.”

“Don’t tell me that was your first kiss,” Jean teased. It was made considerably less effective due to the scarlet that now ran close to her neck.

“I did have to kiss The Siren after losing my Scissors,” Xavier said. “So you were technically my second.”

Xavier received a swift punch to the shoulder. It hurt more than he anticipated, but he grinned.

“Read it out, then,” Jean said.

“Read?”

“The poem.”

“What?” Xavier said, nerves now feeling a lot more raw and real. “But that’s for your eyes only. To be read silently.”

“But I want you to read it out loud. Here. In public.”

And so, Xavier begrudgingly took out a dirty, grungy piece of paper he had in his pocket. Unfurling it, he cleared his throat, once or twice.

“Oh, my dear Jean!” Xavier shouted.

“What the hell?” Jean cried. “Read it! Not shout it aloud!”

“But I want the world to know,” Xavier said.

“Do whatever the hell you want then,” Jean said, back turned towards him.

Xavier wasn’t sure what had come across him. Maybe a lifetime’s worth of harrowing escapes and near-death experiences had steeled his nerves. Maybe exploring another world and saving his own, and the multitudes of first times he had along the way made him less wary of plunging into the unknown. But even as his heart palpitated wildly, he began to read the words that he knew, and came, by heart:

Roses are red,

Violets are blue.

Jean Slate is super rad,

I love you.

Jean turned around. In a flash, Xavier’s other shoulder now smarted and ached, but his grin only grew wider.

“That was terrible,” Jean said. Then, she buried her head into Xavier’s chest, happy tears dampening her new cushion. “Absolutely terrible.”

“It was,” Xavier said, arms embraced around Jean. “But every word was true.”

And, for the first time in forever, they hugged tightly, no longer fearing what the world had to throw at them.


r/dexdrafts

[WP] Humanity has been eradicated. As the alien race that killed us begins to settle they’re shocked to discover that old Earth myths of spirits and demons are far from fiction. The Devil, pissed off at the aliens, has decided to open the gates of Hell and let humanity get its revenge. [by bystander007]

What happened to our souls when we died?

For so long, we joked about it, perhaps to make death a little scary. We said that even if there was a river Styx, the pearly gates, or a purgatory where we were made to live through our sins, we would never know.

Well, the secret’s out now. We still didn’t get to tell a single living soul though, because every single one of us was dead.

What exactly happened? None of us knew. From what I’ve gathered, we were doing normal human stuff. Mundane things, like sleeping. Or going to work. Or staying at home but still working. Life actually kind of sucked, eh?

But in one instant, we died. We found ourselves staring at each other’s ghostly shades, our minds and bodies still preoccupied with its previous tasks. All we could do was gaze horrifically upon our new forms, slowly realizing that this was now permanence.

We had nothing to do but trudge. Through the gates of hell. Through its numerous tortured inhabitants, gulping at what we were surely, soon to be going through. Until we reached the burgeoning throne room of the Devil himself.

“If you don’t mind me asking,” the Devil, with his large red horns quivering in response to the seething rage he had found himself in, said. “What the hell is happening?”

We could not talk. We were but shadows of our former selves, left without the human propensity for interaction and speech. The once-humans merely stared and looked as an imp scurried towards the Infernal Lord himself, whispering in his ear.

“Everything… gone… aliens… invaded,” the Devil muttered, nodding periodically.

The imp backed away from the Devil, bowed respectfully. Satan sighed.

“This is very obviously a problem,” the Devil cried. “These souls are ruining my carpet. Not to mention the severe lack of room that was already an issue before every single human soul decided to implode.”

In anguish, we moaned and groaned. But we still could not speak.

“You know what?” Lucifer said, suddenly standing up. “Screw it. I’m here because I broke the rules. What are they going to do if I broke a few more, send me to Hell?”

He beckoned towards the imp once again. A hushed exchanged was whispered, before it evolved into an increasingly intricate chain of telephone. Before long, the whole hall was buzzing, with imps and familiars flitting all about the place.

“My dear lost souls,” the Devil announced. “I don’t like you guys. I don’t hate you guys either, but right now, I’m really disliking the fact that so many of you are here, while apparently Heaven isn’t still at max capacity. What have you humans been up to, eh, besides dying to an alien invasion?”

An alien invasion? The collective’s roars grew in an amorphous cacophony and the Devil realized that he made a mistake. He coughed suddenly and loudly, bringing up a fist to hopefully quench our misery.

“OK, spoiler alert, I guess. Basically, aliens got their overdeveloped hands on you, and your underdeveloped minds basically exploded. Honestly, I appreciate that you guys are doing no good. But having every single one of you here at the same time is frankly making me very claustrophobic. And since I can’t send you guys to Heaven…”

We heard the groaning of chains and metal. By instinct, our heads turned, like we could feel the breeze from the mortal realm gently caressing our spectral necks.

“I know you guys haven’t been here very long, and I certainly won’t miss you,” the Devil sniffed, wiping a mock tear away from his eyes. “But go and give those damned aliens hell.”

A tidal wave of phantoms flooded out of hell. Without human desires and ambition, civilization and society was no longer a concern for this mob of ghosts. In death, we had but one mission:

Haunt and kill every living thing on Earth.

For so long, we joked about it, perhaps to make death a little scary. We said that even if there was a river Styx, the pearly gates, or a purgatory where we were made to live through our sins, we would never know.

Well, the secret’s out now. We still didn’t get to tell a single living soul though, because every single one of us was dead.

What exactly happened? None of us knew. From what I’ve gathered, we were doing normal human stuff. Mundane things, like sleeping. Or going to work. Or staying at home but still working. Life actually kind of sucked, eh?

But in one instant, we died. We found ourselves staring at each other’s ghostly shades, our minds and bodies still preoccupied with its previous tasks. All we could do was gaze horrifically upon our new forms, slowly realizing that this was now permanence.

We had nothing to do but trudge. Through the gates of hell. Through its numerous tortured inhabitants, gulping at what we were surely, soon to be going through. Until we reached the burgeoning throne room of the Devil himself.

“If you don’t mind me asking,” the Devil, with his large red horns quivering in response to the seething rage he had found himself in, said. “What the hell is happening?”

We could not talk. We were but shadows of our former selves, left without the human propensity for interaction and speech. The once-humans merely stared and looked as an imp scurried towards the Infernal Lord himself, whispering in his ear.

“Everything… gone… aliens… invaded,” the Devil muttered, nodding periodically.

The imp backed away from the Devil, bowed respectfully. Satan sighed.

“This is very obviously a problem,” the Devil cried. “These souls are ruining my carpet. Not to mention the severe lack of room that was already an issue before every single human soul decided to implode.”

In anguish, we moaned and groaned. But we still could not speak.

“You know what?” Lucifer said, suddenly standing up. “Screw it. I’m here because I broke the rules. What are they going to do if I broke a few more, send me to Hell?”

He beckoned towards the imp once again. A hushed exchanged was whispered, before it evolved into an increasingly intricate chain of telephone. Before long, the whole hall was buzzing, with imps and familiars flitting all about the place.

“My dear lost souls,” the Devil announced. “I don’t like you guys. I don’t hate you guys either, but right now, I’m really disliking the fact that so many of you are here, while apparently Heaven isn’t still at max capacity. What have you humans been up to, eh, besides dying to an alien invasion?”

An alien invasion? The collective’s roars grew in an amorphous cacophony and the Devil realized that he made a mistake. He coughed suddenly and loudly, bringing up a fist to hopefully quench our misery.

“OK, spoiler alert, I guess. Basically, aliens got their overdeveloped hands on you, and your underdeveloped minds basically exploded. Honestly, I appreciate that you guys are doing no good. But having every single one of you here at the same time is frankly making me very claustrophobic. And since I can’t send you guys to Heaven…”

We heard the groaning of chains and metal. By instinct, our heads turned, like we could feel the breeze from the mortal realm gently caressing our spectral necks.

“I know you guys haven’t been here very long, and I certainly won’t miss you,” the Devil sniffed, wiping a mock tear away from his eyes. “But go and give those damned aliens hell.”

A tidal wave of phantoms flooded out of hell. Without human desires and ambition, civilization and society was no longer a concern for this mob of ghosts. In death, we had but one mission:

Haunt and kill every living thing on Earth.

What happened to our souls when we died?

For so long, we joked about it, perhaps to make death a little scary. We said that even if there was a river Styx, the pearly gates, or a purgatory where we were made to live through our sins, we would never know.

Well, the secret’s out now. We still didn’t get to tell a single living soul though, because every single one of us was dead.

What exactly happened? None of us knew. From what I’ve gathered, we were doing normal human stuff. Mundane things, like sleeping. Or going to work. Or staying at home but still working. Life actually kind of sucked, eh?

But in one instant, we died. We found ourselves staring at each other’s ghostly shades, our minds and bodies still preoccupied with its previous tasks. All we could do was gaze horrifically upon our new forms, slowly realizing that this was now permanence.

We had nothing to do but trudge. Through the gates of hell. Through its numerous tortured inhabitants, gulping at what we were surely, soon to be going through. Until we reached the burgeoning throne room of the Devil himself.

“If you don’t mind me asking,” the Devil, with his large red horns quivering in response to the seething rage he had found himself in, said. “What the hell is happening?”

We could not talk. We were but shadows of our former selves, left without the human propensity for interaction and speech. The once-humans merely stared and looked as an imp scurried towards the Infernal Lord himself, whispering in his ear.

“Everything… gone… aliens… invaded,” the Devil muttered, nodding periodically.

The imp backed away from the Devil, bowed respectfully. Satan sighed.

“This is very obviously a problem,” the Devil cried. “These souls are ruining my carpet. Not to mention the severe lack of room that was already an issue before every single human soul decided to implode.”

In anguish, we moaned and groaned. But we still could not speak.

“You know what?” Lucifer said, suddenly standing up. “Screw it. I’m here because I broke the rules. What are they going to do if I broke a few more, send me to Hell?”

He beckoned towards the imp once again. A hushed exchanged was whispered, before it evolved into an increasingly intricate chain of telephone. Before long, the whole hall was buzzing, with imps and familiars flitting all about the place.

“My dear lost souls,” the Devil announced. “I don’t like you guys. I don’t hate you guys either, but right now, I’m really disliking the fact that so many of you are here, while apparently Heaven isn’t still at max capacity. What have you humans been up to, eh, besides dying to an alien invasion?”

An alien invasion? The collective’s roars grew in an amorphous cacophony and the Devil realized that he made a mistake. He coughed suddenly and loudly, bringing up a fist to hopefully quench our misery.

“OK, spoiler alert, I guess. Basically, aliens got their overdeveloped hands on you, and your underdeveloped minds basically exploded. Honestly, I appreciate that you guys are doing no good. But having every single one of you here at the same time is frankly making me very claustrophobic. And since I can’t send you guys to Heaven…”

We heard the groaning of chains and metal. By instinct, our heads turned, like we could feel the breeze from the mortal realm gently caressing our spectral necks.

“I know you guys haven’t been here very long, and I certainly won’t miss you,” the Devil sniffed, wiping a mock tear away from his eyes. “But go and give those damned aliens hell.”

A tidal wave of phantoms flooded out of hell. Without human desires and ambition, civilization and society was no longer a concern for this mob of ghosts. In death, we had but one mission:

Haunt and kill every living thing on Earth.

[WP] English really is a universal language, and aliens are as surprised about this as humans [by amorphousmemelord]

“Why would you choose to speak possibly the most ridiculous language, what with its weird grammatical rules and phonetics, and where the exact same word can be read differently and have meanings worlds apart?”

“Why would you choose to speak possibly the most ridiculous language, what with its weird grammatical rules and phonetics, and where the exact same word can be read differently and have meanings worlds apart?”

The alien and I looked at each other. Which was difficult, because our eyes weren’t in the same approximate biological region. The Esipuliks had their eyes where our chest would be, except that they had five, and they were in different formations according to caste. But we tried our best.

“Fair,” I conceded. “At least we didn’t have to muck around with translations and what not.”

“It is,” Doctor Wariimu of the Esipuliks agreed. “It’s an interesting question, but we do have more pressing work at hand.”

I laid down a scientific instrument native to the Esipuliks down gingerly, careful not to disrupt the burgeoning table of tools. I sighed.

“Really?” I asked. “Is what we are doing really more pressing?”

“Look, Logan,” Wariimu said. He was currently peering through a test tube containing a liquid that was shockingly yellow. A bubble frothed above it every second or so, before popping into nothing. “This isn’t for us to decide.”

“I just don’t get it,” I sighed. “I need a nice, soothing cup of coffee.”

“Poison,” Wariimu replied simply.

“It’s clear that your kind’s understanding of English is still far from satisfactory if you feel that way,” I replied.

As I sipped the terrible machine-made coffee, I wondered if there was some truth to Warrimu’s words. Regardless of how it actually tasted, I could feel the caffeine slowly massaging its way into the appropriate pathways, gently easing the unscratchable itch from within.

“What if we didn’t choose, Wariimu?” I mused. “What if us both speaking English wasn’t our choice nor God’s coincidence?”

The good doctor swivelled around. Their torsos didn’t work like ours.

“I didn’t know coffee had the same effects as alcohol to your physiology,” they said. “Are you drunk?”

“I’ve never been more sober,” I said. “Especially after staring at that worktable for hours.”

“Why are you thinking so hard about it?” Wariimu had now turned back to the test tube, now a violent orange.

“It’s just… strange? I guess we have more reservations about this than your kind. The Esipuliks is the first race we’ve made contact with, after all.”

“You’ll understand that English is apparently, something that binds us all together,” the doctor said. “Some way, somehow, it’s wormed its way into all of our collective tongues.”

“Maybe I’m thinking too much about it,” I said. Chucking the cup away, I stood up straight, stretching fully and hearing the satisfying crack in my spine.

“After all,” Wariimu said. “It’s not possible that there’s something wrong with the heads of every single person in the galaxy, right?”

“It certainly can’t be,” I nodded.

That’s right, the voice in my head confirmed. There’s no other reason why all of you know English. No other reason at all.