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32

Monday morning. Again. To Mel, time seemed to have stood still since his grandfather “grounded” him, but much had changed in that month. At least twenty-eight days passed, after all. Twenty-four hours apiece, sixty minutes per hour as there are sixty seconds per minute and one-hundred milliseconds per second. In that time, easily 24 million things had changed, and that is not accounting change on the cellular level.

As for actual, tangible, far-reaching events? At the Institute? Only one: A new student had joined. But Mel did not know what horrible fate awaited him yet, as had the others when he joined. He did not know as he took his shower that everything he was taught, all that he learned, would be reset back to square one, as the professors had done when he was incarcerated in this Institute and forced a sentence on his colleagues that no blood debt would ever repay. Only now, after two years, were studies finally swinging towards new content, now forgotten as the professors had to break in yet another inmate and ease their awakening to a new, scary yet surprisingly arousing world.

But first Mel would have to leave the box he called a home, prove to his merciful, kind, caring, lovable grandfather that he was, in fact, rehabilitated and able to rejoin the magical society, where blowing shit up, raising the dead, and acquiring and using sex slaves as well as everything in between was not only the norm but encouraged. First step was to get to his attention; Mel thought about this while taking his shower, washing away the last week of shame at last. Thankfully, Saliim started to pick up the habit of showering too -mostly to wash his putrescence off; truly a wonderful teaching tool- so they were both squeaky clean as he plopped back on his futon, dressed, pondering still of what he could do.

“Another day of staring out into nothingness?” Saliim mused, her hand creeping into his robes, ready to continue an action she had done the last thirty days. “Should I go prepare breakfast now or after a ride?”

“Now would be better. At least that would be fulfilling,” he said.

Saliim’s hand cringed and reeled back as she grimaced at him.

“I’ll go make it, then,” she grumbled, and rose off the couch. Mel heard her mumbling what she planned to make for him, but wanted more what she was going to get for herself. A bottle of whiskey in the morning sounded downright delightful, especially with a lighter-brew coffee. But what did he know; his only true experience with alcohol was at the strip club. Sure, he sneaked drinks here and there, partook in a good bit of mouthwash, but whiskey was always that drink that got away... wait. That’s it!

Mel bolted off the futon and raised his hands towards the ceiling. He spread his legs out, bracing, while his palms were held up to the stone, flat as can be. All his focus was on his targets, no tangent nor rabbit able to break him away from his goal. His breathing deepened, struggling to keep steady as his body started to shake, straining. He could hear them, out in the distance, growing closer, slowly but still being pulled.

Saliim returned, silver platter in-hand, filled to the brim with half-burnt half-frozen French toast sticks, runny scrambled eggs, and half-filled glasses of orange juice and milk... stopped, seeing him in his pose.

“What are you doing?” She said.

“Getting Benjamin’s attention,” he managed to grunt out. It was so close, all of them so close. He just had to hold on a touch... longer... His hands started to glow pale blue, pulsing, growing with each pant, with each beat of his drumming h- The light switched to pure white, and he brought them both down. “There we go! This should get it perfectly.”

“Wha-”

She screamed, dropping the tray as she bolted towards Mel, pressing as flat as she could against him as the stone around fell apart. The Institute filled with screams as braying songs flowed through the dimension, thick, blubbery hides crashing into marble and stone, reducing them to nothing. Shades, hides, fins of blue, gray, black, even white, all lazing through the sky, slowly drifting down towards the ground as they emerged from the dimensional rifts made in the oceans of the Earth, now drifting through a whole new world.

Sadly, there was one additional creature that Mel did not expect. A man in bright, orange spandex swam through one of the holes, his muscles seen through it and his skin-tight green pants (which there was a distinct lack of a bulge there, by the way) as he leaped from creature to creature before landing on the only other bit of stone that managed to survive in Mel’s room, right before him.

“What do you think you’re doing with my whales?” The man said... for being such a big, buff man, Mel did not expect his voice to be like a thirteen-year-old boy right before he went through puberty. He did not expect such a... tinny... whiny tone from the chiseled jawline, deep, brooding eyes, thick, long dreadlocks, or the scarred visage of a man that stood a foot above him –BUT, Mel’s plan succeeded. The man was left behind as the rest of the beautiful creatures that heeded Mel’s call were sent back. The stone and marble was restored, Mel’s room the last as Benjamin came storming into it. The floor raised for his feet, catching his thunderous steps as they fell until he stood before him and the fellow in the bright orange shirt. The man blinked, turning to face Benjamin, and held out his hand. “And who a-”

The man, whoever he may have been, exploded. Not a simple expansion from within that would make him into “blood confetti”, as Mel would put it, but a full, gasoline-laced, dynamite eruption. Mel was reminded of a certain movie series with giant worms as he watched through the rippling shell Benjamin crafted around him and Saliim, as well as one he made for himself, watching as the viscera took its sweet time to come slapping down on the dark red wall. Whatever did land on it, though, hissed and melted away, and the room was taken by a cozy darkness as, at last, the tower was erected back into place.

Benjamin sighed, and lowered both shells, giving Mel a bored, yet stern, glare.

“If I had to listen to that voice for another moment, I would have done that to myself,” Benjamin muttered, and rolled his wrist to Mel. “Alright. Why did you reference a Gojira song, lad?”

“Wait. You listen to metal?”

“But of course. It was my generation, after all, that got it started. That reminds me. At some point I really am going to have to pay a certain singer a visit. People are starting to question.” He shook his head. “I digress, however. Why did you assault the Institute with whales?”

“Why not? Would it really be the first time?”

“Fourth.”

“Wow... I’m... huh... Anyways, I’ve seen the light –or, rather, Brin has. I know she won’t be coming back and have accepted the crippling depression that comes with it. Whee!” Mel waved his arms above his head as he said that, ending with slapping both thighs as they fell. “So I’m ready to return to class now and continue my miserable existence.”

Benjamin hummed, and rolled his wrist to Saliim. She took a step around Mel, holding his left arm.

“Is he telling the truth,” he asked. “This isn’t some hare-brained scheme?”

“N... no,” she said, casting her gaze to the ground. “He... he confided in me last night on it... He’s absolutely... serious.”

“Serious... and Mel... Two words I would never think to hear anywhere in the same conversation, let alone be in the same universe, together.” Benjamin sighed, and rolled his wrist to the door. “Very well. If you have finally accepted and moved on, you may return to class.”

“Do I have to move on?” Mel said, a bit taken aback by that notion.

“Well, yes. Magic is inherently reliant on one’s emotional state. You were able to summon the whales, but that does not mean you have full control over your abilities.”

“Do I ever?”

“Which is exactly why it is imperative that you are over Brin’s loss AND that you have accepted it... Have you, Mel? Can you say with absolute certainty?”

“Yeah, yeah. I’m over her death.” Which was the truth. It wasn’t her death keeping him down but the unbelievable amount of guilt he had for causing it... Benjamin seemed to have believed him, and left the room open, allowing Mel to step out and sprint downstairs to the dining hall, finally able to have good food at long last. His days of trailblazing were alas over –at least, until he ended up accidentally summoning something else. For now, at least he had Saliim running to keep up, but it wasn’t the same as hearing her grunts and screams as she caught alight and burned in his wake. Another item he would have to come to terms with. There was at least one problem he could deal with now, and that was filling his belly with food.

He slid into a chair, right before a huge stack of waffles, but, as expected from before, Saliim wasn’t as graceful. She knocked over those crispy walls, scattering them across the bowls of grits and plates of ham and steak that awaited on either side. Why did she take such joy in ruining the spirits’ hard work? Mel made sure it didn’t go unappreciated, though, gathering the waffles that were scattered for his own use. Right now, a plate of waffles sounded di-

“Finally busted out of jail, huh?”

No. That sounded divine.

Daisy tittered as she took the chair to the right, all smiles and warmth and- the table thumped. The waffles on Mel’s plates jumped easily a foot in the air, thumping back onto the plate it the grits slurped, settling in their bowl once more. Though he didn’t notice, Saliim had peeked under the table, cherishing her bottle of whiskey even more, practically chugging it. This didn’t go unnoticed by Daisy, however, smirking at the quickly turning-piss succubus.

“I take it you both had a long and hard time together,” she said, sighing. “I sort of wish conjugal visits were allowed, but Benjamin told me on multiple occasions that no one else was allowed into your room. Did you two at least have fun?”

“Fun is a strong-”

“Yes!” Saliim blurted, pushing the bottle of whiskey into Mel’s mouth. It was stronger than what he expected, but it had a... smokiness to it? Woodiness? In small bursts, or mixed with cola, it wouldn’t be bad. Forced as it was, though? It burned his mouth and even seeped a little into his nose, frying the hairs in there, as well. “Yes, we did.”

Mel pushed the bottle away, taking a deep breath, and it felt like he was inhaling fire. If he wasn’t awake before, he was now... Thankfully, too, whiskey’s most known side-effect on dudes kicked in quick; the table was no longer raised nine inches. Daisy took note of this as well, her smirk replaced with a pout.

“I don’t think that was wise, Saliim,” she said. “He’s still not old enough to drink by U.S. Standards.”

“We’re in another dimension. Fuck the rules,” she said, and took a long drink, herself. “So how have you been? Found anyone new since the lesbian rumor died down?”

“How did you know it died down... and no. I went on a few dates-”

“With who?” Mel blurted.

“Let’s see... Brian, Brandon, Cody, Alan, Peter, Norman, Lou, Darren, Grant, Reese, Tyson, Samuel, Samson, Thomas, Harry, Tim, Byron-”

“All at once, or did you give them an hour in between?” Saliim said.

“Some of them were two-to-three in one night, but that’s because one date was so dreadful that the next guy found me as I was leaving it... only to be just as lame.” She punched Mel’s shoulder, sticking out her tongue at him. “You set too high a bar.”

“Not apologizing,” Mel said, feeling a bit hopeful –though guilty that he did. His next question helped him pay for that hope, though, replacing it with dread as he tried to nonchalantly spread red berries on his waffles. “So... did any come close?”

“Nope. Not a single one. They were all so boring, too. All they wanted to do was go to their rooms, chill and watch videos.”

“Isn’t that what you wanted to do?”

“Yes, but that’s different. I was trying to trap you.”

“So it’s fine if you do it but if a guy does it that’s a big no-no? Talk about sexist.”

“I mean, if you wanted me to get laid by another guy-”

“I really can’t bitch because Saliim’s been trying to fuck me every day.”

“Oh come on,” Saliim exclaimed, finishing off her bottle... at least, the first time. Her finger glowed red, circling the bottom of it, and it refilled again. It wasn’t necessarily slow, but she had it already bottom-up before it was even a quarter filled, gulping it down hard.

“She should really be careful,” Daisy said. “I don’t know succubus physiology, but I doubt an excess of alcohol is good for it.”

“It doesn’t poison us, if that’s what you mean. We can get drunk, but that’s the extent.”

“But the whole point of ‘getting drunk’ is that your liver is breaking down the alcohol, which leads to inebriation. If you overwhelm that, it should have the same e-”

“Magical. Creature. What part of that don’t you get?”

“Then there’s the matter if you are pregnant-”

“Succubus can get pregnant?” Mel blurted, paling a little.

“You didn’t know!” Both Daisy and Saliim shrieked... Saliim chuckled, far drier than she should be able to do at that moment, and suckled at her bottle a moment as it strained to keep up with her demand. At last, she showed it mercy, shaking his head at him. “I have some bad news for you then, buddy.”

… Mel cleared his throat, chuckling a little sheepishly. “So how is that unbinding-unsummoning research coming, Daisy?”

“That’s n-” Saliim began.

“Well? How is it!” Mel raised his voice, leaning closer to Daisy. Once more he found himself hoping, hoping that Benjamin didn’t tell her.

“So far we haven’t found a solution yet,” Daisy said, for once his hope allowed to f- “However, it seems we have time. After all, it’ll only matter when you summon something else by accident.”

“Fan...fuckingtastic.” He heaved a sigh, and finished topping his waffles at last, which he had been adding layer after layer as they were talking. Wild berries, butter, whipped cream, syrup, red berries, chocolate chips, banana slices, pineapple, chocolate drizzle, caramel drizzle, another layer of wild berries, syrup, and, finally, a single cherry... yet he did not have a single want to eat any of it. He stood from the table, leaving the Frankenwaffles there for the spirits to mourn over, and started for Professor F-

“So you good tonight?” Daisy said.

“Huh?”

She giggled, twirling a bit of hair.

“For our date, silly. Raincheck and all.”

“You sure you don’t want to go see Frank? He’s a nice dude.”

“We had a date, but I’ll gladly cancel for you. Besides, I think Destiny would be mad if she found out he did... I still have that card game saved, too.”

“Then I guess I’ll see you later tonight. Your place, right?”

She nodded, standing, and kissed his cheek... pinching it after.

“My angel has been asking after you, too. Now, I allowed Brin-then-Saliim because of your... condition... but I draw the line at having my door be a part of the competition. Though I guess we now have to plan around the spawn in Saliim’s belly.”

“I mean, succubus are used to being single mothers anyways-”

“Hell no,” Saliim said. The alcohol finally was taking toll on her; her feet stumbled, her hands scrambled to find the right table as she stood, all the while her voice was drawling every which way but forward. Her face was beet red, eyes heavily lidded, giving Mel a smoldering glare. “I will n... not be a part of th... tha... that statisticicicicick... You’re the only m... ma... man I let shoot his goo and do the do in you know who... me... because I had something to p...prove... You. WILL. Help. Raise our child.”

“Nothing like a rapist demanding aid,” Mel said. “Technically, I don’t owe y-”

“You can’t rape the willing, Mel, and you were more than willing.”

“Regardless, it’s something we’ll have to deal with,” Daisy said, and kissed his cheek again. “Oh! There’s a new student in your class, by the way.”

“Is that why Peneloputty hasn’t shown her face this morning,” Mel implored, once again feeling hope. That lying bitch.

“Actually... Penelope’s gone.”

“Oh. That’s... How did she go?”

“She’s not dead, silly... She decided to travel abroad. Took a year hiatus to go see Earth.”

“A year? It took us a single night. I knew she was lazy, but damn!” He sighed, cracking his back, which turned into groans then yawns. “Shame, really. I’m going to miss... huh... I don’t really know what I’m going to miss, but I will definitely miss... Where did this come from? How did she get the idea?”

“I unno. I think it’s only me, but I don’t think she really liked me.”

“That’s okay. She didn’t really like anybody... Anyways, I really should head to class.”

“Okay! But remember: my place tonight.”

“I’m coming, too!” Saliim declared, hiccuping, the force of which made her teeter and knock off the plate of Frankenwaffles.

The spirits had enough.

They rose from the table, mangled forms covered in silvery blood, blanketed in dense, white fog. Their yellow eyes pierced through the mist that swirled around their wretched, rotten forms, giving life to their tattered aprons and rusted tools, gleaming as they closed in on Saliim. The succubus may have been drunk. She may not have been the brightest, but she knew death when it was bearing down on her. Mel had never seen her run so fast nor so straight in a line, flying as she entered the courtyard with the spirits in hot pursuit, taking with them the food on the table, left barren, rotten planks.

“Huh. Don’t see that every day,” Daisy said. “And of course she was welcome. She had to leave the bottle at the door, though.”

“Are you sure?”

“No, but grandpa would kill me if my room smelled like liquor.”

“Damn! There goes my plan to make you easy.”

“‘Make me easy’? You’re the one holding out! And that would technically be rape.”

“Please! Even consensual hand-holding is rape nowadays.”

As much as he hated to, he had to leave her and head to Professor Faust’s. At least he had something to look forward to after; at least everything was back to normal... Well, almost everything. Who exactly was this new student? Were they going to make his life annoying, too, or just ignore him like all the others... Only time would tell- and, like usual, even when he was running behind he was the first one in class. He walked over to his seat... but it wouldn’t raise.

“Uh,” he uttered, and turned his head to watch Professor Faust whir to life. The monitor was all smiles, wearing the biggest, goofiest one yet. “Morning.”

“Und guten morgan to you, Herr Llorwyn!” He boomed, almost making those speakers spark. “It’s truly great to have you back in my classroom.”

“Yup, but there seems to be a problem. My desk won’t raise.”

“Ah, of course of course. Hold on.” The monitor buzzed, and his desk finally rose. “Apologies, Mel, but when you were gone a new student came along-”

“I heard.”

“They decided to take your desk, which wasn’t a problem, but I had to register them to it for the time. They are now sitting behind you.”

“That’s okay. I’ll take that one if they want it that bad.”

“That can be discussed once she gets here.”

Oh no, he thought. “She?”

Professor Faust was about to answer when the door opened. There, in the doorway, was a bronze-skin woman with the second finest rack Mel had ever seen, barely contained in, you guessed it, blue robes. She had three sunspots on the right breast, standing out against the field of freckles that spread up her fine neck and onto her heart-shaped face. She had black hair, almost blue in the light, long and flowing down to the small of her back, kept back from her face by a red band. She had deep pools of blue for eyes, twinkling as they sucked Mel into their depths, only letting him out to see the rest of the details of her face, her small, almost pixie-like nose, and her full, luscious lips. They had a coat of red, matching the hair band but clashing with her purple earrings, two, solid amethysts pushed through each ear.

As she strode over, he could see that she had plenty of muscle, her abs peeking out, her curvy thighs toned but still having that bit of jiggle to them, hidden behind as she stood before him.

“Hi,” she said, her voice like velvet on the ears... yet somehow very familiar. “Are you new?”

“He’s a returning student, actually,” Professor Faust said. “Janice Hod, this is Mel Llorwyn. Mel, Janice.”

“I take it this was your seat once upon a time?” She said. “If you want it again, I’ll find another.”

“That’s okay. I’ll simply take the seat behind.”

“No no. I insist. You have seniority, after all.”

“You didn’t know and you chose. I don’t mind moving back one spot.”

“Such selflessness should be rewarded, then. I’ll take the seat behind you.”

“That’s kind and all, but I’ll take the sacrifice.”

On and on, back and forth, the two fought for who would get the second seat. It raged on even as the other students, and Saliim, entered and took their seats. Saliim looked a good bit worse for wear; she still had a rusted spatula sticking out of her head, slopping out as the green wave finally found it. She must have had a splitting headache already, and hearing the war of the meek must not have helped it at all. She stood, grabbed Mel, and had him sit at her desk, sitting in his lap.

With the war over, Janice took the second seat back, victorious. However, what seemed a senseless argument was actually a rather intimate conversation between the pair. They shared so much in that string of nonsense, understood so much about each other after the pointless war; Mel caught himself looking back at her during the lessons, a game between them to see who could catch the other... however... he could not shake that feeling of deja vu. He never met this girl before... had he? He couldn’t have; if he did, he would never had an issue with Penelope nor wanted to date Daisy... yet... but something else hit Mel –and it wasn’t Saliim, forcing his attention back to the textbook... all the way back on chapter one.

So this was how it was when I joined, he said. … No wonder everybody wanted me dead... Can’t really blame them.

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