It was 2am. The usual dull crowd had gathered for their 24 hour diner food. Mostly transients like truckers and the occasional tourist. No one ever stayed in La Sombra. People traveled through it often enough, but actually stayed? Not since the rift had opened. The owner sighed. Business was nothing like it used to be. He mused about a time where he and his father busted their asses all day every day. The buzz was near-constant. Now? He looked around the room. This wasn’t just the 2am crowd. This was the everyday crowd. What was once a nice coastal town had all but died out. Between the urban sprawl making it impossible for people to live in this tiny town and the goddamn dimensional tear slowly eating up the town… It was a wonder anyone even bothered passing through. Besides those… pilgrims. But they didn’t patronize his business so he really didn’t care about their presence. The owner sighed again. He should be grateful anyone at all still came around.
Suddenly the door swung open. Three people stood in the doorway. They were covered in fluids and viscera. A larger man accompanied boy a boy and a lithe woman. A look of utter exhaustion was on each of their faces. The clientele looked up briefly before returning to their meals. The owner leaned back against the cupboard.
The man wore a heavily stained black suit. His purple button up barely closing over his girth. What was once a black tie hung loosely around his neck.
The woman wore a rather casual athletic suit. Teal sweatpants and a matching jacket. She carried a long staff carved from stone. The top was formed into a swirl of tentacles holding a red gem. A pair of horns that curved up and over her head covered her eyes.
The boy was so covered in guts that it was hard to discern what he was wearing, but it was definitely a t-shirt and jeans at some point.
“Same as usual?” he almost yawned.
“As always,” the large man muttered as they entered the room.
They were seated in a booth at the back of the diner. The woman leaned her staff against the booth as she slid into the seat beside the boy and across from the man.
“You look like shit,” the owner sad loudly while handing them their menus.
The woman took off the horns that sat over her eyes. The boy pulled viscera from his hair. The man just sat with his face in his hands.
“Water to start?”
“Yes please,” the woman’s voice cracked from strain.
“Can I have a chocolate milk?” the boy replied.
The owner turned to the man. “That okay with you, Sy?”
“Hm?” he looked up from his hands, his eyes glowing purple and devoid of any sclera or pupil, “Of course.”
“And what do you want?”
“What do I want?”
The woman reached across the table, “My Lord, he’s speaking to Sylus.”
“I… I knew that…”
With a few blinks, his eyes returned to normal. A dull purple sheen staining his retinas.
“Sorry…” he muttered, “Water thanks…”
With a nod the owner walked away.
They sat in silence staring at the top of the table.The woman’s eyes were pale and empty yet full of expression. They darted around a lot, unseeing. She sighed and settled on closing them. The boy began drawing crude shapes in the blood that had dripped off his fingers. The man sat leaning back, his eyes closed, his throat moving as he muttered to himself.
The owner returned with their drinks. They all sat up as he placed them down.
“Now, I have to clean up after you, remember that. Try to take the chunks with you, hm?”
The boy was embarrassed as he shrank back against the booth. The man and the woman just smiled quietly as they drank their water.
“Dad?” the boy finally spoke up after drinking some of his milk, “Can we go on vacation someday?”
Sylus sighed as his gaze shifted between the boy and the woman.
“Like… away from here?” the boy added.
“You know how it is, Danny… Saari and I can’t leave here,” he lifted his glass to take a mouthful of ice.
“I just… I want to take a break…”
“Summer camp?” Sylus mumbled around the ice.
“What!? No! Please no…”
“The unfortunate thing is,” the woman spoke up, her eyes still shut, “You are forever branded as your father’s son. As I am his consort.”
Sylus began choking on the ice. He swallowed it all at once before slamming his fist on the table.
“You keep using that word!” he shouted in a whisper. The murmurs of the diner paused a moment before resuming almost seamlessly.
“What?” the woman faced his general direction without opening her eyes, “Consort?”
“Y-yes…” Sylus leaned forward, “Please stop…”
“Are we not bound?”
“In a manner of speaking…”
“And are you not My Lord?”
“Saari…” Sylus sighed heavily, “Y-You’re more than that…”
Saari reached across the table to scratch the underside of his chin. He smiled at her gently.
“GET A ROOM!” Daniel shouted through his hands.
Embarrassed, Sylus sat back ruminating until their food came.
“For the traumatized pre-teen,” the owner said as he placed a plate with two grilled cheese sandwiches and copious amounts of fries in front of Daniel.
“Something dredged from the depths and broiled for the lady,” he placed a plate of barely cooked tentacles in front of Saari.
“You’ll have to wait as usual, Sy,” the owner said as he wandered away.
Everyone remained quiet.
“Well?” Sylus leaned back from the table, “What are you two waiting for?”
There was a pause.
“You know mine takes forever to come out and I can eat it in thirty seconds. Max. So you may as well start on yours.”
With a sigh, Saari picked up her fork and knife and began cutting into her calamari. She measured each piece by placing the knife at either end of her piece. If it was too long she knew to cut it down.
Within a split second, Daniel’s mouth was filled with French fries.
Sylus sat quietly staring out at nothing. He never liked Saari’s love of tentacles as food. He always felt slightly repulsed by the prospect of his lover eating something he had in common with the unfortunate beast on her plate. The only consolation was that his weren’t exactly easy to see.
By the time Saari and Daniel were almost done, a whole ham was put in front of Sylus.
“Your sacrifice, oh benevolent monstrosity,” the owner bowed mockingly before leaning close, “mind eating it slowly and not like some deranged hellspawn?”
The ham began to float off its plate, “It’s Voidspawn. Thank you,” Sylus replied with a sheepish grin.
“Fuck you…” the owner wandered away.
“Maybe later!” Sylus called after him.
“What later?” Saari looked up from her plate.
“Don’t worry, love,” Sylus smiled.
“Oh good you got your meat. Now we can go home?” Daniel sneered as he finished his pickle.
“Occupy yourselves for thirty seconds,” Sylus turned the floating ham with his hand.
They both looked down at their plates.
“Nothing left to be occupied by. Besides, Dad, we’ve seen it all before. Really doesn’t bother me,” Daniel thought a moment, “should it?” he turned to Saari who just shrugged in reply. “Eh I need more milk,” Daniel leaned over the back of the booth and held up his empty glass toward the owner cashing someone out, “Yo, my man Jer, I need more of the good stuff!” he waved the glass.
“You got it. I’ll bring a glass once your father’s done being an abomination.”
“Rude. I’m a paying customer!” Sylus looked across the diner.
“Dad just eat your ham so I can get more milk,” Daniel sat back down.
“My own son…” he muttered as he shook his head in remorse.
Saari took up two small tentacles in her hands and started slapping them together. Sylus glared at her momentarily. She could feel his gaze and grinned tauntingly in reply before rubbing the tentacles together. Sylus rolled his eyes. Daniel started dragging the last of his fries through his remaining ketchup pile.
There were some uncomfortable sounds followed by a large gulp. Not long after a fresh glass of chocolate milk appeared in front of Daniel.
“That was fast…” he looked up at Jer the Owner.
“I’m going to be fucking sick…” Sylus groaned.
“No you are not,” Saari put her tentacles down.
“Are you going to eat those?” Sylus pointed at her plate as he struggled stifle a belch.
“Do you want them?” she slid her plate toward him.
“I feel like you’re trying to tell me something when you eat that shit…” he cringed.
With a smirk, she put the two remaining tentacles in her mouth. She wiggled them around a bit, much to Sylus’ chagrin before slurping them in leaving him in a confused state of disgust and morbid interest.
Daniel rolled his eyes and looked up at Jer the Owner. “Check please.”
Jer the Owner gave a curt salute before making his way to the cash register.
“Can you move, dad?” Daniel turned to his father with a look of exhaustion on his face.
“Excuse me!? Of course I can move! I’ve eaten far more and still been able to move. Quite frankly I’m insulted…”
“So you can’t?” Daniel replied with a tired look of disinterest on his face. “Can you drive Saari? I want to go home…”
“You know I cannot…” she replied gently.
Daniel rolled his eyes as he glanced over at Saari. She was putting her horns back on. Her movements were always so gracefully fluid. Without a single misstep, she tossed the leather straps over her shoulders. She grasped each end and used them to bring the horns up to her eyes. In one swift motion she tied a sturdy bow that was both elegant yet tight enough to stand the stress of battle. Once they were on properly, she looked to Sylus.
“Do you need help getting up, my Lord?” her voice was deep and sultry. She could easily lull someone to sleep just by talking to them.
“You, too, huh?” Sylus pale completion began to flush.
“You just ate. It usually is not in you to stand up immediately. Much less so after being so exhausted,” she spoke softly.
He cringed a bit at her, “I suppose…”
“Would you like assistance then?”
“N-no… I can get up myself thanks.”
“Very well,” Saari nodded, “Daniel and I will go ahead to pay the bill.”
“With what money?” Sylus balked.
“Yours.” she held up his wallet.
He immediately felt his pockets.
With a taunting grin she slid out if the booth behind Daniel.
Sylus remained behind a moment.
We should have let her help us…
“I don’t need hindsight from you right now,” Sylus mumbled to himself, “I can take care of myself just fine.”
There is no need for aggression. And of course you can take care of yourself, I simply suggest that accepting help may be preferable to standing up on unsteady limbs.
“Rude. What is with everyone attacking me tonight…” Sylus sighed as he slid to the edge of the booth.
In case you forgot, this is my body as well so I have as much a say in its functions as you do.
“It was mine first,” Sylus growled.
Not this one.
Sylus sneered as he grasped the back of the booth bench.
“Time to find out I suppose…” he turned so he was facing outward. With a large grunt he was on his feet. “See? You all underestimate me. Story of my life, but I expected better of you Qaitax.”
Try to walk over to the others.
“Shit…” Sylus hissed. It wasn’t that far to the counter. In any ordinary state it probably wouldn’t take more than a few seconds to traverse the distance. However, as he was, the diner seemed longer and more harrowing than it really was. He slouched a bit in dismay. “I’m going to faceplant, aren’t I?”
Would you like me to do the walking?
“No.” Sylus replied firmly before thinking a moment. “Maybe…”
With his next breath, his eyes lit up again. They gave off a dim purple glow akin to that of an animal in the dark. Reflecting light more than emitting it. Sylus immediately stood up straight. He began taking slow, long, deliberate steps toward the counter.
“My Lord,” Saari bowed curtly, “Is Sylus alright?”
“He’s fine,” the voice was Sylus’ but it carried a strange echo or reverberation to it.
“Whelp, here’s your receipt. As always thanks for your patronage. Though every time you come in you leave a mess that makes me wonder if it’s worth letting you in in the first place,” Jer the Owner always seemed slightly aggravated but they knew he was just messing around with them. For the most part.
Saari slid the receipt to Sylus. He looked up at her, confused.
“I cannot sign it. It is a legal document of transaction.”
“It really doesn’t matter…” Jer sighed.
Sylus reached across the counter for a pen. He began signing the paper before realizing it wasn’t his name. It was a series of archaic runes that made up the entirety of Qaitax’s name. Once he started he took the time to finish. Jer the Owner watched in a mix of annoyance and honest interest.
“I apologize. I’m not really certain as to how I keep making that mistake… It’s not as though voidlords have a written language…” Sylus sighed as he handed back the receipt, “I cannot help but notice that you only charged for my meal…”
“Only void monsters have to pay at this hour,” Jer muttered as he put the receipt into the cash register.
Sylus looked around before uttering a series of bizarre sounds. The patronage looked up for a moment before returning to their meals again. It wasn’t a sound they hadn’t heard before.
“I do hope you were not fooled into thinking they’re all voidspawns,” he turned back to Jer with a wry grin on his face.
Jer swayed a bit in annoyance as he handed Saari the second receipt, “You have quite the sense of humor, my lord,” he sneered.
“I am trying,” he smiled in earnest.
“My Lord… I just realized… Who is going to drive home?” Saari turned to him.
“Sylus will. We just need to get him to the car and he can handle the driving.”
“Is he feeling well enough?”
“Hm? Oh, yes. By the way,” he turned to Jer the owner again, “Our compliments to whoever made the ham. From what little we tasted it was delicious.”
“That was me. And you’re welcome. But next time maybe you could actually eat it like a human being and enjoy it? I’d appreciate that…” Jer the Owner closed the cash register.
Sylus flushed again, “We’ll make an effort to behave more humanly next time. But forgive us for now, it’s late and we’d really like to return home to rest.”
Jer the Owner gave a small smile as he laughed incredulously.
“Alright you all get out of here. I’ll clean up your awful mess… Wait…”
Jer leaned over the counter. The floor was clean. He moved down to the far end so he could see their booth. Also clean. He looked back at them. Sylus grinned.
“Huh… I suppose I owe you a ham,” Jer mused as he caught sight of the mob drifting back into the cleaning closet. He laughed. “Guess you’re good for something then, hm?”
“Besides keeping the void at bay?” Sylus chuckled.
“Hey… let’s not get into that. It’s almost like politics to talk about the rift. Gets harder and harder to ignore the bigger the encampment gets, though…” Jer sighed, “World’s certainly changing. If I’d told my dad, back when he was around, that some of our best customers would be a Q’taxian witch, er, priestess, sorry…”
“It is okay,” Saari nodded with a smile, “I do not mind the term witch. It sounds more whimsical than priestess…” Saari’s mind wandered a moment.
Jer smiled slightly as he motioned to Sylus, “And a voidlord he’d call me insane. Then again, he died before the incursion so he wouldn’t even know what those things were,” Jer sighed as he reminisced, “You’re all going in my memoir, just so you know. I’m calling it ‘Life on the Edge of the Abyss’.”
“I like it,” Daniel mutter, his exhaustion evident in his voice.
“You write?” Sylus leaned into the counter.
“Ah…” Jer became flustered, “A little. I dabble. Nothing serious.”
“Hmm…” Sylus leaned back, “I may have use for you.”
Jer balked a bit. “Excuse me but you already do. I feed your dumb ass. Try taking that act anywhere else and they’d try to kill you.”
“And we’d devour each and every one of them,” Sylus grinned menacingly, “But that’s not our situation, thankfully.”
“Thankfully…” Jer repeated flatly.
Saari felt something on her leg. She looked down to find Daniel dozing against her.
“My Lord,” she pointed down at the sleeping boy.
With a sigh, Sylus knelt down and picked up his son.
“Poor kid…” Jer mumbled a bit louder than he meant to.
“Yes…” Sylus breathed, “He is a trooper though.”
“That’s not a very voidlord thing to say…” Jer tilted his head to one side.
“You must forget I may as well be half human,” Sylus held the back of Daniel’s head against his shoulder.
“Guess Sy is rubbing off on you,” Jer chuckled.
“It was likely to happen eventually…” Sylus’ gaze drifted downsard. It was hard to tell with his eyes all one color, but his lids slid down slightly as though his sight had shifted.
“And you’re okay with that?” Jer leaned onto the counter.
“Seems an odd question to ask, but yes I am. I don’t exactly have much of a choice so it is in my best interest to make due,” he smiled weakly.
“Ever miss being a world devouring monster?” Jer groaned as he leaned back against the cupboard.
“Sometimes… This form is limiting, but we can still invoke our sect from time to time. Sylus doesn’t seem to mind,” Sylus began idly bumping against the counter, “He is oddly comfortable with our presence.”
“Ever thought of taking over completely?” Jer folded his arms over his chest.
“That’s very forward of you…”
Jer shrugged, “It’s not often I get to talk to the voidlord himself.”
“True. There was a time I could have done that. Worn his flesh without his presence… but that time has long passed. Our arrangement is amicable. Had we not crafted the body in a mortal image I would have no need for him, but alas,” Sylus shrugged, “I have no concept as to how mortal bodies function. Sylus, by design, is necessary.”
“You two get along? Can he hear you?”
“We get along as much as two beings of polar opposite origins can and yes he can hear me just as I can hear him when he speaks.”
“Excuse me? I hate to interrupt the exposition, but Daniel should really get home to his bed. Same to you, my Lord. We are all very tired,” Saari sounded a bit irritable, but not entirely upset.
“Ah yes,” he turned to Saari, “Of course. Sleep. See?” he turned back the Jer, “I have no idea what I’m doing,” he laughed his deep booming laugh, “Voidlords are always asleep in the Void..”
“Good night to all of you,” Jer waved as they made their way to the door, “Thanks for bussing, Sy.”
“It was my pleasure,” Sylus saluted with his free hand, “Until next time.”
The late summer’s night air surrounded them in a warm breeze. Looking up, all they could see was the moon. It glowed vaguely purple in the darkness. To their right the ominous glow of the rift could be seen though it was miles away. There was enough ambient lighting to render the night in La Sombra a far less threatening place than it should have been.
Two or three trucks were parked in the lot. Between them was a small black sedan. Nothing special. Saari ran ahead and opened the back door. Sylus leaned in to lay Daniel down on the seat.
“Is this safe, my Lord?” she asked as she closed the door.
“We don’t have far to go. Sylus is a good driver.”
“What if he falls asleep?”
“He won’t,” Qaitax smiled, “Precious cargo and all that.”
Saari smiled as she got up on her toes to kiss him gently on the lips, “That was for Sylus,” she clarified.
The glow in the eyes faded until they were back to their normal purple sheen. Sylus blinked a few times before wrapping his arms around her.
“God I love you so much, Saari,” he pulled her in close.
“We should get home,” she whispered in his ear.
“We should, shouldn’t we?” he smiled at her as she pulled away.
She gave him a purse grin before patting his stomach and making her way to the passenger side of the car. Sylus couldn’t stop smiling.
“What did I do to deserve you,” he called across the hood of the car.
Saari smiled wryly as she entered the vechicle with little effort. Sylus struggled a bit before finally fitting behind the wheel. The car sagged a bit under his weight. He looked behind him before sliding the seat back.
“Thank god…” he exhaled, his belly almost touching the wheel. He tried to fish the keys out of his pocket, “Should have done that BEFORE sitting down… and Saari?” he turned to her in the dark cabin of the car, “Thanks again, for always just accepting me for what I am,” he smiled, “I know it’s hard sometimes…”
“Sylus… I love you. I understand your condition more than you probably know. I will always accept you. No matter what. Even when you repulse me,” she smiled back at him.
Sylus looked straight out the windshield, “And how often does that happen…” his voice cracked a bit as his grip tightened on the steering wheel.
Saari spent a good few seconds thinking, “Not often, really. I suppose in those instances it is my Lord Qaitax and not so much yourself.”
Sylus smiled slightly as he kept his gaze forward.
She smiled at him, exhaustion etched in her face. She reached up to hold his hand, her head leaning into it.
“I want to go home,” she sighed, “I want to go to bed. With you.”
“Even though you don’t even know what I look like?”
She pulled away and slapped his stomach, “I know what you look like! Well enough! I could pick you out of a crowd in a heartbeat!”
Sylus laughed heartily as he put the key into the ignition. The engine sputtered and struggled to start up. It took some pulsing on the gas, but eventually it turned over.
“Need a new car…” he muttered
“One that does not cave to your weight, perhaps,” Saari added with a small laugh.
He glared at her in mock disgust as he put the car into reverse. She patted his lap gently.
“Let us go home.”
“Aye aye m’lady.”
“Sylus! You’re home!” she ran up to him wrapping her arms around his neck, “Oh god I was so worried you’d never come home… I missed you so much…” she kissed him on the lips.
“Sorry? Don’t be! Oh,” she nuzzled her face in his chest, “You smell just like I remember.”“Wh-where is… What…”
“You’re home sweety. Home sweet home,” she stepped aside. Daniel stood on the steps of the porch to a house he didn’t quite recognize, “Finally. After all this time.”
“DAD!” he shouted as he ran up to him, wrapping his arms around his waist, “You’re finally home…”
“We missed you…” her voice trailed off.
“I-I missed…” he looked down at Daniel. His neck was tilted upwards strangely. Sylus smiled awkwardly as he ran his fingers through his son’s hair.
“Daaaaaaaaad…” the voice sounded broken and distorted as his eyes began growing dark.
He looked up to the woman. A disturbingly large grin was plastered across her face.
“TOO BAD YOU DIDN’T DIE!” She screamed in a horrifically shrill tone.
Sylus woke with a start. Saari was leaning over him.
“Are you okay?” her eyes were wide with fear, “You were crying out in your sleep again…”
“I-I’m sorry… The… The dream… again…” he struggled to catch his breath.
He dragged himself upright. Saari sat up beside him. He clasped his hands over his face and sighed.
“This has to stop…”
“What causes it?” her words were wrapped in worry.
“I-I don’t know… The ham?” he laughed nervously before sighing into a cringe. “It’s Qaitax,” he said flatly. “He keeps feeding me the lifetime dream…”
I do not. You kept part of it. That’s on you.
“I didn’t want to keep ANY of it…”
What would you have me do then?
“Scrub it. I want it gone. I want every moment of it stored in my brain gone,” Sylus barked, his voice starting to break.
You know I can’t do that…
“THEN WHAT CAN YOU DO!?” he yelled.Saari pulled away as he put his hands over his face again. His body shook lightly as he began to cry.
“I can’t… I can’t take this anymore…”
Then perhaps you need closure of some kind?
“Closure? You mean face that DEMON again? After everything she did to Daniel? To me? Forget about me… How could I ever look her in the eyes again…” he mumbled through his hands.
Saari reached up and took hold of his wrists. He let her pull his hands away.
“I will go with you if you wish to confront her one last time. I know a lot went unsaid and you have much to say, but I will not let you go alone…” her voice was calm and collected.
“What because you know I’d kill her?” Sylus scoffed.
“No because I love you and I know you are better than that. But I also know she has a way of digging into you. I do not know if she understands your current condition, but it would be best if she knew not to prod you too hard. I am not certain I would stop you if you decided to devour her though,” she smiled at him.
“Devour her?” he scoffed, “I don’t eat garbage.”
She glared at him critically.
“Alright fine. I do. Pretty regularly. But her? She’s beneath that. I really don’t even want to see her face again…”
“You are clinging to something. It must be confronted. Whether it requires working with my Lord or facing her again, you must find a way to confront this,” she patted his hands.
“I-I just… I-” he felt his eyes starting to burn again, “I don’t want to remember what it was like… before…”
“But you already do. How could you forget? That was your life before the Incursion. It will forever be part of you,” she rested her hand on his thigh, “It is how you put it to rest that matters right now.”
“Ugh…” he sniffed, “Why does it have to be so hard…”
“Feelings are not easy things to just set aside,” she rubbed his leg gently, “It takes time and it really has not been that long.”
“Then maybe I should wait before I do anything…” he looked at her with exhaustion.
“You should do what you must in order to move on,” she gripped his thigh a bit before removing her hand.
He rolled over onto his side, wrapped his arms around her and pulled her down beside him. She laughed a bit as he kissed her neck.
“I have you and Daniel. That’s all I need. That’s all I care about,” he rested his head on her chest.
“You should still do something about this someday… It is hurting you…”
“I’ll get over it,” he smiled as he tightened his arms around her.Saari’s brow furrowed with concern.
With a sigh she leaned back on her pillow and began running her fingers through his hair.
“I love you,” he breathed against her skin.
“I love you, too,” she smiled before falling back asleep.