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Betting on Losing Horses


take it all or leave it... I Feel You
reboot of "Suburbia" bc i have a reboot problem

warnings for blood, injury, and mentions of mass death


Lord Forgive Me / Things That I Don't Understand

The forest was silent, almost dead in the California heat. The temperature is stifling, crushing, eating away at anyone who stands under it for too long, and the man stumbling through the gritty pale soil and underbrush is starting to feel its effects. He paws at his t-shirt, fanning himself desperately by tugging at its collar, and a sweaty sickness spreads all over his body, pooling in his stomach.

The man finds himself peeking through the trees, squinting at the hills surrounding it. His steps are wobbly and uncertain, his dark hiking boots making a crunching noise with every step onto the ground. His head is fuzzy and warm, his thoughts seeming to rush around his head with varying amounts of lucidity.

In the distance, the man can see his bosses’ house, the dark shape hard to make out now that he’s a good distance away. It’s glimmering in the evening, and in the distance, he can make out the forms of his coworkers, looking like specks in his vision. They must be dancing or chatting amongst themselves, he thinks to himself, coughing shortly after.

To be quite honest, he’s not sure why he went to the party in the first place.

The man had been invited, of course. Why else would he have bothered to drive thirty minutes from his apartment in Downtown Los Angeles up to the practical middle of nowhere? It was the season wrap-up party for the project he had been hired to work on as a cameraman, some internet true crime show about unexplained **** with a supernatural twist, like the thousands of others that populated the internet. It paid good money and was a fun, stable job, but he always had left work feeling out of place.

The rest of the crew seemed to know each other well, with inside jokes that he could never understand, and conversations that just seemed to happen naturally between all of them. But, between them and him, it felt like an uphill battle. Every joke he made seemed to fall flat, and he’d mostly given up on making them by the end of the first week. Other than the scattered times one of his colleagues chatted with him about the news or progress on the series, the man mostly worked in solitude.

At first, it had been a change of pace for him. His old job was in retail, which involved constant interaction with frustrated customers with little to no alone time, which ended up draining him completely by the end of the workday. But, after a few weeks in, the loneliness at work had begun to seep into his very being.

He should’ve stayed in Florida, he berated himself, should’ve kept working on his side projects instead of taking that job offer. At least then he would still have friends near him, he wouldn’t be alone most of the time…

The man laughs to himself, his voice slurring. No matter where he is, or what he’s doing, he’s always alone and miserable. He was alone then, as much as he wants to convince himself otherwise, and he’s alone now. Nothing he could do, no change to his life would change that, nothing…

A few paces away from where he stands, the man jumps when he hears the underbrush rustle quickly, and after a few seconds of silence, he hears a faint groan. For a few moments, he just stands in place, his eyes wide and a coldness running through his stiff body. At first, his mind instantly goes to thoughts of a gigantic demon, trying to lure him into a false sense of security. That’s one of the warning signs of an impending demon attack right? Something trying to pass off as a dying animal that needs you to help it, so it can strike easier. So he should…. do what? Probably run away back to safety, right? He wasn’t sure, the memory of learning these tips in grade-whatever out of his mind’s shaky grasp.

“H-Hello?” the man says loudly, before cringing at himself.

He shouldn’t be engaging it in conversation, he should be running for the hills right about now. However, he cannot bring himself to move, his legs feeling as if they’re made of lead.

Slowly, as he’s gathering his bearings, a figure begins to crawl from the bushes, a thin, rather long person, wearing something dark with long sleeves, and what he thinks are skinny jeans. They barely manage to make it in front of the man before slowly rising on their haunches, and going into a long wet coughing fit. The person’s upper half convulses forward, and the man watches as they cough up some sort of liquid, and then let out a low noise, almost sounding like a sob.

Despite everything before telling him to run away from the figure, he finds himself rushing in front of it, kneeling down and reaching his hands out to try and help it. With an urgent noise, the person reaches out to him suddenly, and takes a grip on his arms, practically crawling onto his lap. Blood rushes to his face at the proximity of this stranger, and the temptation to push them away rushes through him, but he doesn’t act on it.

Now that this person is closer, the man can sort of make out round dark eyes full of tears peering at him, from underneath a short, mop-like mass of dark hair. Their face is round with their ears sticking out somewhat, and the man notices streaks of blood dripping down from their full lips. His gaze travels downwards to their body, and sees their white dress shirt torn up underneath her leather jacket, most of it staining presumably with blood, and he turns away before he can spot the wounds in their abdomen, a sickening coldness running through him.

“Are you okay man?” he asks, and the person heaves out a shaky breath.

“Too late,” they groan, and a part of him marvels over how beautiful their voice is, like bells chiming, “it’s too late for me.”

“Whaddya mean?” he slurs despite himself, managing to reach out and touch their shoulder even with their vice grip, “I-I can go get help, there’s a house only a few-

He loses his train of thought when the figure moves their hand from his upper arm to his wrist, and pulls it towards their face, looking at it with an expression the man can’t read. An icy feeling runs through him as they sniff at it, and he feels his body begin to tighten, his legs itching to move.

“...Human,” they say lowly, staring directly at him with that same unreadable expression.

Instantly, the man moves to stand up, wanting to put as much distance away from the demon before it can hurt him, but their grip tightens, and he’s no match for a demon’s strength, even one on it’s way out.

“No! Please!” the demon shouts, tears running down its face and its grip shakes somewhat, “I-I don’t want to be alone right now!”

“You’re not going to hurt me?” the man asks quietly, his voice shaking, and the demon shakes their head furiously.

“Just listen to me,” they whimper, tears continuing to fall, “there are people after me. Humans. They caught up to me… and it’s too late now, but it isn’t too late for you!”

“You’ve spoken to me, so they’re going to try and kill you next because you’re a witness. You need to leave me behind after I’m gone, and go back to wherever the hell you came from, and get out as fast as you can. Before they can see you. After that you-”

The demon stops mid-sentence, and the man notices their expression change. Their eyes go wide with a wild light to them, their mouth goes slack, hanging open slightly with their breathing quick and erratic. Before the man could move away, the demon lunges onto him, wrapping their arms around his upper body and burying their face into his neck. Their hands grip into his upper arms tightly, and no matter how much the man struggles, he can’t get them off of him. However, instead of going for the kill and tearing out his jugular, the demon continues to breathe quickly into his neck.

“W-What are you doing?” he asks, trying to sound strong as he shudders at the feeling of their breath on him, but his voice cracks halfway, “You said you-”

“You’re warm,” they babble into his neck, voice high in what the man thinks is delirium, and he can feel her tears roll down his neck, “you’re so warm. So warm, human. So nice, so comfortable. Such a nice feeling... So perfect, such a good human. Perfect…”

A blinding white light comes over the two of them, and the man feels searing pain suddenly rip through him, and he chokes back a howl of agony. The man can’t focus on what the demon is doing, his mind unable to think anything coherent or focus. It feels like something is slowly and ripping him apart at the seams, one by one, and then sewing him up again. The light shines for a few more moments before it, and the pain that came with it, is abruptly gone. There’s silence as the man lays against the dirt, his mind reeling from the events prior.

The demon is completely gone, no pressure on his arms holding him down, no rapid breathing, nothing. He almost thinks that they ran off into the underbrush again, the sudden light scaring them, but when he sits up, he feels something warm and wet move over his arm. He picks it up, trying to examine it, and realizes that it’s the demon’s jacket. His blood goes cold when he notices a hole in the back of it, the forest peeking through. When he gets to his feet, jacket still in his hand, the man notices that all of the demon’s clothes lay on the forest floor, all close together.

It looked almost as if the demon’s body had simply just vanished from existence, leaving their clothes behind.

But, he knew that was impossible! Demons didn’t die like that, they leave bodies behind like any other living being! He holds his head and groans, fingers running through his scalp. He needs a drink. Or fifty.

He stares at the clothing for a few moments, eyes going between the jeans and the remains of the demon’s shirt. The urge to bring the clothes back with him crosses his mind, so people don’t freak out, but the man ultimately decides bringing bloody, torn clothing home would not be a good look for him. Walking to a true crime show wrap up party with bloody clothes is some form of career suicide...

Turning around, he spots something dark and square poking from the bushes in the distance, and the man slowly walks over and pulls it out to examine it. The object looks like some sort of purse, a long strap tapering out towards the end, sort of heavy towards the end. Without thinking too hard about it, the man quickly makes his way down the path, purse in hand. It’s probably the purse of a girl he works with, or the demon’s. Whoever it belongs to, he’ll hold onto it and give it to them later on. No biggie, if it’s a coworker’s, he’ll just say he found it while on a walk to clear his mind, and leave out all the demon ****.

The man manages to make it back to the house without another demon accosting him, but with exhaustion beginning to creep up on him. The party is dying down, the heavy music is still playing from the speakers on the massive stone patio at the front, but everyone else looks like they’re either drunk or slowly tapping out. At the edge of the yard, standing by a group of carefully cut hedges, the man notices two of his coworkers, the two he remembers as being the hosts for the show he films. Their faces are taut, eyebrows furrowing as they look at their phones, and the shorter, more muscular one has his hand up to his face, running his fingers through his scalp.

The man approaches them, and both of them look up at him with wide eyes.

“Hey,” he says, his voice feeling shaky and fake in his ears, “party’s kind of dead, huh? What’s going on?”

“Uh,” the shorter man starts to say, and the man knows from the wavering tone of his voice that the news is not good, “well, Max… You’ve heard of the Demon-Human Relations Association before, right?”

“Yeah,” Max nods, and the itch to tell him about his encounter in the woods runs up his spine, but he suppresses it, “they do good work. What about them?”

“The news is saying that the convention center in Boston they were having a conference at exploded. Multiple fatalities.”

“What?” Max hisses, his eyes widening, “Do they know how it blew up yet?”

“No,” the taller man says, shaking his head, “it happened like an hour ago at the most. Everything is kind of murky right now, no definitive police statements”

Max thinks of the demon in the forest, begging him to stay with them as they lay dying, the blood all over their shirt. He wonders if there’s some connection between the two, but quickly dismisses it. How would a demon in Boston reach this particular California forest in under an hour? That made no sense to him. It’s just a coincidence.

“...Max?” one of the hosts says, and Max blinks quickly.

“Jesus Chirst,” he hisses, running a hand down his face, “I-I really don’t know what to say about that.”

“Yeah. Annie was really torn up about it. She really admired one of the leaders… Wei-shun was her name, I think, and a lot of reports are suggesting she was in there when it blew up.”

Wei-shun… Part of him feels like he knows that name somehow, like it was the name of a friend or relative. However, racking his mind brings up nothing of interest to him, but the feeling still remains, making his stomach turn inside out.

He shakes his head and sighs.

“I think I’m gonna get a drink,” Max grunts, fingers rubbing at his stubbly chin, “Elijah, Mike, do you want me to get you something?”

Both of them shake their heads, and Max makes his way to the patio, his throat itching for a beer or something that can take his mind off of all this ****.

Passing by people, he can barely make out people discussing the explosion over the music still playing, gesturing rapidly with shaky movements. He can’t see the tall, angular form of Annie anywhere, so he assumes that she’s back home at her apartment, the events too much for her to handle. He doesn’t blame her, the air around him feels heavy, and his mind is churning quickly with worry and fear.

This is my punishment.

Max’s head jolts up, and whips around the yard. There’s no one close to him talking, and the people who are nearby stare at him for a few moments, eyebrows furrowing.

There was a voice… It sounded like it was close to him, as if the person was standing directly in front of him as he walked. It came out clear over the music, not straining itself. The dark tone of it made his skin crawl.

A chill runs up his spine, even in the burning heat of the California summer, but he continues to walk forwards. Max reaches the patio, and fishes out a can of Pabst Blue Ribbon from the beat-up blue cooler. His boss was disgustingly rich and couldn’t get anything besides cheap, disgusting beer? Really?

Whatever, Max thinks as he chokes down a sip, he’s not paying for this **** and it’s not the worst thing that’s happened tonight.

It’s what I deserve.

The voice again! Max whips his head around, but finds no one around him again. Who is talking to him?

“Who are you?” he hisses, trying to hide the fact that he’s speaking by mimicking a sip of his beer.

I’m a selfish little *****. All I do is hurt others.

“What do you mean?” he asks, his body icy cold, and his fingers tracing the ridge of the top of his beer can.

I just wanted to live, and now I’ll pay the price for what’ve done.

The voice speaks quick, with a high, whiny tone. Almost as if they were crying as they spoke, and Max swears that he can hear sobbing close by, but no one near him is visibly upset. After a while, where he tries to see who is talking to him, the sobbing is cut off, and there’s only the ambience of the party. It’s too abrupt for him to feel safe or any real satisfaction.

**** it, he thinks to himself as he downs the can, this night is ****ing cursed. I’m gonna drink shitty beer until I forget everything.

He manages to down about three or four cans of Pabst, and feels delightfully woozy before one of his coworkers informs him that all of them have to leave the premises immediately. By some act of god, he manages to get an Uber to drive him down to his apartment for a decent price.

Most of the ride back, Max slumps in the car seat, purse laying in his lap as his head rests against the window. The bright lights of the Los Angeles skyline greet him, the driver rushing past nightclubs, storefronts, and large shining billboards advertising new skincare products or the latest seasonal Starbucks drink. As the car pulls up to his apartment block, a pinkish-purplish light covers the ground outside, flickering slightly.

Nothing could get worse than tonight, he thinks to himself, absolutely nothing.