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9

With Nobody long behind and only Penelope and his little harem, Mel lost his extra lump quick enough –though that’s not entirely fair; Brin made it a touch slower to go away. He still reminisced on that pizza, even as they stopped at the dining hall to eat before calling it a night, the traditional offering of steak, pork and lamb chops, Cornish hens, fish, and the slew of sides to go with it just not tantalizing to him after having been to food Nirvana earlier in the day. He spent the majority of the time just sitting there, looking at the tiny chickens, watching as they rose and marched off the table to the Russian anthem while the pork chops assembled with the steak and lamb making Meatotron, ready to fight back against the fowl army. The fish were neutral, the evil bastards. Meatotron and the Cornish Uprising should team up and take down the fish; nobody can trust neutral. It’s just... not normal. No one can live their lives neutrally, especially fish. Have you ever met a fish? There’s nothing neutral about this soulless abominations! They are not even wet in water; they only become wet when you pull them out of it, and let us not delve into the most cunning beast in the waters: catfish. He watched Animal Planet, saw how many times a river monster ended up just being a larger breed of the catfish- and sometimes smaller!

Just thinking of that smaller breed of cat took what bulge he had left, lest the ghost candiru made its home in his urethra when it was offered so, and he was able to cross his legs at last... Oh, and Penelope was talking to him, but how could he bother to listen to her when the poultry had seized the means of production and the red meat went full anime. In fact, he was watching the potato wedges, wondering if they would be true neutral and the two would have a common foe or would do the right thing and side with the mac and cheese. Nobody can hate macaroni and cheese, especially the shell kind. They’re the New Zealand of the food world, whereas the green beans were Australia. Just as likely to kill you, too; no matter how well you prepare them, even with magic, you can always tell when green beans come out of a can. Fresh, frozen, or n-

RED ALERT! RED ALERT!

Mel bolted out of his chair, heart racing as he glared down at his attacker, her weapon still poised, dribbling a little with her weapon of choice. The sky outside turned an ugly shade of orange, dark purple clouds seeming to simply blot into existence, turned almost white by the teal lightning passing in between them as it crackled and sparked on his hands. He wiped his cheek of her horrid attack, hoping it wasn’t too late. Goodness only knows what was laced in those lips.

“Stranger danger!” He boomed. “How dare you kiss me!”

“What?” She said, drawing it out, giggling as she laced her hands together. “I did ask if it was okay if I did. You didn’t say anything, so I thought you were fine. I even repeated it several times and even asked if silence was consent.”

“It’s true,” Saliim said, sipping on a bottle of brandy –well, now at least, when there was only a thimble left inside. Her cheeks were beyond rosy, swaying dangerously in her seat. As she spoke, her words were more slurs and run-ons than actual speech. However, he managed to piece it together well enough, which did not quell the storm above at all. “She did ask. Multiple times. Really, I didn’t see anything wrong with it; you two have had the hots for each other for a while, so what’s a bit of cheek action? Now that that is taken care of, you two can go fuck each other brainless while I sleep off my hangover in my new bed.”

“I apologize, Master Mel,” Brin said, quite sober. In fact, it looks like she was a bit tipsy just from just the fumes in her water glass. “I tried to tell her no, tried to dissuade her, but neither her nor Saliim would listen.” She stood and took him by the hands, goading him towards the exit. “Let’s get you home and to your Country-Western game. That usually calms you down; especially hog-tying those noisier individuals to the train tracks with dynamite.”

“Yeah,” he said, the lightning dulling on his digits, only slightly burning her hands. “Yeah, it does... Eh. Maybe next time I’ll do the sex with crazy.”

“What?” All three exclaimed.

“I doubt it, but anything’s possible with the Cornish red regime... Catch a smell, Penelope.”

“W-wait. I can walk wi-”

And Mel took off, graced with speed from the storm above. It burned the grass, making it ripple with teal energy until his feet touched it, rocketing forward into the next all the way to his dorm. The eye took too long for his liking, so he charged it and went inside anyways, closing shut... on Saliim’s chest. She whimpered as it opened again, her poor jubilees swelling as she lumbered over to the futon with Mel and Brin, and kneaded them tenderly, coating them in green energy.

“That was a bit rude, don’t you think?” Saliim grumbled, four ways sobered up. “She obviously loves you, and it wasn’t like that Khan woman was around. You didn’t have to lie-”

“But I never did lie,” Mel said, already engrossed in the game. He didn’t want to play cowboy tonight; instead, he was a silent protagonist in a world made entirely out of cube on a mission to strip mine the entire planet before nuking it with so much TNT that the only thing left would be his forty-meter tall golden obelisk with its two obsidian domes. “I really don’t like her like that.”

“You can fool her, but I noticed the rager you were sporting.”

“That wasn’t for her.”

“Was it for one of us, then? Finally?”

“Nah. It was for our lovely visitor this evening?”

“Really? That sow?”

“She’s no cow. She would fall into the thicc category.”

“But so do us! Hell, use us for... something! It’s what we’re here for. Not to peel light bulbs or to be turned to stone because you are pent up and bored! Hell, I’m bored!”

“I’m not,” Brin said, hugging his side. “I am having a blast.”

“You see, Saliim,” Mel said, watching as his character melted in lava at the bottom of the world –magma? This game always made it confusing; you put it into a bucket, it’s always a bucket of lava, even underground. Ergo, the logic of that universe is that it’s always lava. Except in the rare case it is not- in fact, this all makes sense so long as you don’t think about it. “You should be more like Brin. She’s so simple that even breathing is an adventure.”

“Darn tootin’!” Brin took a deep breath, and held it... and held it... and held it until her face turned blue. Tears wavered on her vision, running down her cheeks as it shifted to purple where she finally let it go, collapsing into Mel’s lap. She put her arm over her face, panting hard, tears and spit both rolling down into Mel’s lap. “That was exciting... felt like I was going to die...”

“Sometimes,” Mel said, and yawned, turning off the game. He only turned it on, but the excitement of the day, and the pizza, was finally catching up to him. He pressed back on the futon, and it returned to its bed-like state. Saliim had gotten up in time, already heading for the now-vacant extra bed- “What do you think you’re doing?”

She looked over her shoulder, giving him the evilest look he had ever seen. That’s saying something, considering she was a demon and all.

“Oh, by the nine rings of Hell, you better not say what I think you are going to say,” she hissed, the air turning to ice before those words, coating the room in frost as she turned on him. Fire flickered from her wings, fully fanned again, and not just from her runes, blazing brighter than ever. “You better not even consider giving that bed to HER before me. I will sooner destroy the bed than let her have it.”

“Nah. I’m not giving the bed to Brin.”

“What?” Brin exclaimed, bolting to her feet. “After all that I’ve done for you? I made you pizza! I stood by you when you are obviously in denial for your infatuation with Penelope-”

“I am not.”

“Still! I stood by you.” She whined, and collapsed into his arms, sniffling. “I tried my best to please you, master –even by calling you master!”

“That’s nice and all, but you’re not getting the bed.”

“Wow,” Saliim said, the ice on her lips gone. “I... sort of expected you to give it to her. Considering you think I’m a-”

“Nah. You can have that bed,” he said, yawning again... and wrapped his arms around Brin. “She gets to sleep with me.”

“What?” Both succubus said. Brin squealed and hugged him back, thanking him profusely, while Saliim simply stood there, dumbfounded and confused.

“Shouldn’t you be eating your bed by now?” Mel said, rolling over with his “body pillow”. “I must warn you, Brin. I have a bad tendency to sleep hump.”

“That’s okay; I’ll make do,” she said, mewing in a coy fashion, and tittered as the two faded into slumber. Saliim simply watched the two a moment, still lost in all that just transpired... but, eventually, found the strength to lumber over to her hard-won bed... only for it to fade into smoke as she laid down in it.


The room started to buzz all too soon the next day, heralding in nobody’s favorite day of the week: Monday. Though Mel always had a soft spot for Monday; it wasn’t its fault it was the first day of the work-or-school week. In fact, if the work week started on Tuesday, people would hate it more than they would ever hate Monday. Or even Wednesday, then Monday would be Saturday and everybody loved Saturday. Sunday, in his opinion, was just as bad as Monday, especially with how religious his mother was. They’d be woken up for 5 AM mass, one hour usually after he finally went to bed, and was forced to put on his best suit that wasn’t tie-dyed so that he could go and bow his head and fall asleep to the Lord’s gospel. It’s not that he found it boring; just that the reverend had the warmest, softest voice he ever heard. It was a compliment that he fell asleep; his voice was so serene that it actually made his mind shut down, truly a gift from the Almighty.

But now he wasn’t here, and that buzzing wasn’t going to stop itself. He hurried to take his shower, ignoring the daggers being flung by Saliim and the befuddlement and disappointment Brin carried. She must have misheard; he doesn’t sleep hump but sleep BUMP. He liked to bump fists in his sleep, and, considering the severely heavy bags under her eyes she must have received at least forty. Eight more, and it could have broken his previous record.

Regardless, both succubus were in an off-put mood that morning, which gave Mel some solace as he answered for his cheek rapist. She, too, looked rather frazzled, her poof of hair let down, allowing that cascade of red to swoop down her left eye in a jagged, curly mess. Her robes were unkempt, and she had an air about her that reminded him of something, maybe someone he didn’t know too long ago. Though she looked exhausted, her cheeks had a warm flush, her face aglow as she took his arm.

“Morning, sunshine,” she said, attempting to defile his cheek again.

Stopped by Brin.

She pushed Penelope off and took her place, waggling her finger at the predator.

“Master Mel does not wish to be sullied,” Brin declared, and faked enough of a smile for Mel. “Isn’t that right?”

“Sometimes, but what if seals were actually fondue?” He said, and started for the stairs.

Penelope managed to work her way to his other side, latching on, and giggled.

“So are you ready for today’s test?” She said.

“Test?”

“Yeah... in Professor Faust’s?”

“What kind of test is it? Because if it’s multiple choice I’m screwed. Even if it’s True or False; why is the answer never or?”

“It’s a practical test. You show off your best spell in primal so that he can gauge how well you understand the forces of nature and how magic is interlaced in i-”

“So basically go in and make big boom. Gotcha.”

“Maybe... not so big a boom.”

“No big boom? But isn’t that the reason we’re here at Terrorist High? To learn how to efficiently go ALLAHU ACKBAR! ALLAHU ACKBAR.”

Nobody laughed; instead, Penelope simply sighed.

“As much as I enjoy your antics, maybe you should take this seriously.”

“But I am being serious. It’s all about locat-”

She went ahead of him, blocking him from the entry into the courtyard, and looked him straight in the eyes.

“Mel... I want you to promise me you’ll actually be serious... I’m... I’m afraid that, due to your recent shenanigans, you are very likely to be... ‘purged’... I don’t want you to be gone; I don’t want to forget you.”

“Me neither- wait. Who am I again?”

“Will you listen to me for once?” She wiped her eyes, pinching her brow, and shook her head, looking at him again. “Just... actually show your skill. Don’t do any silly little thing. Don’t try another prank; just... just do your best.”

“Right... so really big boom.”

“Just enough to show your mastery of the elements. Just promise me that, okay?”

“Fine.”

She giggled, and clapped her hands, jumping in place.

“Great! Then let’s get to class and get it over with early. Then we can have a nice, quaint, relaxing break-”

Penelope’s face was locked in a massive O, her jaw unable to rise even if she tried. Saliim and Brin were the same, though were a bit blackened, still smoking, sitting in the chairs behind Mel in Benjamin’s office. The two simply shared a bored look, a repeat of the week before, but this time it was different. This time, Mel could see a spark of fear in Benjamin’s eyes.

Finally, Benjamin broke the silence with a sigh.

“What?” Mel exclaimed. “I just did what Penelope asked me to.”

His gaze slowly shift over to her, and she finally found the capacity to pick up her jaw, chattering against her other teeth with renewed vigor.

“I-I-I-I-” She started, but why was she trying to say the school’s name? Oh. Wait. No. It was just her jaw in hyper drive, repeating everything she said at least four times over. “I simply said to be serious on his test! I didn’t e... I mean, he’s always joking around. How was I supposed to kn-”

He silenced her by raising his right hand, and Mel could see it was shaking. Not much, but enough to make the sleeve slowly lower down his arm, fixed as he lowered it.

“I must admit,” Benjamin said at last, focusing on Mel once more. “I’m not sure to be impressed... or horrified.”

“Por que no las dos?” Mel said, and groaned, sitting forward. “Anyways, am I in trouble or not?”

“No, but you should be,” Professor Klan said, storming into the room. Her white robes were dyed red up to her elbows, the rest of her ensemble charred and frayed. “So much brutality; a miracle that I was able to save any of them. HOWEVER, Herr Faust was blown away by your presentation. He told me to tell you that you passed.”

“Is that a good pass or just edging by pa-”

“You are dismissed,” Benjamin said, sighing, weary. “Just... don’t ever use your full potential again. No matter what.”

He shot a glance at Penelope, but Mel didn’t really care. He stood up and was turned around before his grandfather was even done with his statement, showing that the bottom of his robes were, also, drenched in blood. His hands still ached, the skin on them grown back, covering his hands, normal once again. Which meant he was more than ready to play and c-

“Okay. I just have to ask,” Saliim blurted, squeaking. “What the hell was that?”

“Stuff,” he said, and hummed a song as he skipped and pranced across the courtyard and back to his room.

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