Nico Di AngeFold and Will SolCrease: Tainted Love

Nico Di AngeFold and Will SolCrease: Tainted Love

By SF Hades

ACT ONE

I Could’ve Just Let My Sister Get Detention. But Nooooo

By August “Will SolCrease” Hunter

Oh. Oh my god. 

So, Chase Kemp died. I… didn’t know him that well. But, like, I know my sister knew a guy who did, and, by extension, I also knew this guy. Oh! Speaking of my sister… She introduced me to Heather Sawyer and Ballinae Ronson yesterday. But I’ll touch on that further, later. 

Because, seriously, I’ve lived life by a philosophy! That I should just keep trudging through, that college could just… be paradise. That I could be happy, for once. My grades are good, without Edward distracting me with his pointed nose and the way his hair swoops over his eyes, I could hopefully make it to Harvard. Then, boom, I’m out of here! Just one more year after this, and then High School and then- well, the real world. 

I just want everything to work out, guys. I just want everyone to be happy. Why can’t everything be sunshine and rainbows? 

“Hey, bestie.” Someone says, appearing behind me in the lunchroom. I jump back, in panic. “Good— it, Maya. Don’t sneak up on me like that.” 

Maya Amaro responded to my panic with jazz hands. “Yo. I got you a f—ing… uhh… snake.” She handed me a slinky. 

“You are so dumb.” I say, grabbing a tray of mashed potatoes and rotisserie chicken. 

“You… dumb.” Maya says, not noticing her finger is shoved into her green beans. 

Maya was pretty cool, and we had known each other for years, our friends liked each other, we had a lot of classes together, but we never really talked until recently. 

Suddenly, Jake Moon, Charybdis, slapped my lunch tray out of my hands. 

“Ooooops,” he said, in mock surprise. It was his third year as linebacker, and eighth year of being a p—wipe. 

“Hey,” Maya jumped in, “You. Pick that up. Right now.” 

I grabbed her shoulder, “Maya… you don’t have to, the food is like, literally on the floor. I’m not gonna eat it…” 

“Holy crap,” Alastor Cummings, Scylla, appears, resting his arm on Maya’s shoulder, “What do we have here? A couple of… losers… being losers.” 

Alastor, here, is the smartest guy on the Football team. 

Which is almost like being the nicest Greek god. 

It didn’t help that he had a strange infatuation with Maya Amaro, who constantly rejected his advances. “Hey, Maya, so Georgia told me you were signing up for the volleyball team, you might wanna gain some weight… you need a little more meat in your diet.”

“Bowchickawowwow.” Jake said. 

“What is… wrong with you guys?” I asked. 

“I’m sorry, are you actually talking to me?” 

I grabbed Maya by the arm and pulled her out of the lunch line to take a seat with me. “My buddy Jake asked you a question!” Alastor said, wrapping his arms around Jake’s neck, Jake squirming out of them, Alastor’s face melting into a frown. 

“Listen, buckeroo, what do you think gives you the right to mess with me and my friend? Look at you! You have a single brain cell that shimmies around your skull like a f—ing Windows screensaver!” 

“Yo, nice one.” 

Jake stepped back, “Ha. Well, you have a zit, like, right on your nose, so…”

Everybody clapped.

May I repeat. Everybody. Clapped. 

Why do they hate me? Wait, I know why. 

Why don’t I fight back? Wait, I know why. 

Why does everyone think I’m a creep? Wait, I know why. 

Why did I wear a Pride pin today? 

Wait, I know why. 

Maya tenderly put her arm around my shoulder, urging me to sit down. 

I should talk about what’s going on with CHRONOS. After Jackson’s takeover, many of the original members had quit. And due to the new OrigOlympus being controversial, a lot of people signed up for CHRONOS. They, along with the rest of the school, are none the wiser that CHRONOS only exists as an iron fist for OrigOlympus’ wrath.

Suddenly, from the silver gates we call the lunch room doors, they appeared, dressed in glorious skirted suits, three OriGoddesses in the flesh. Heather Sawyer, Art-rodite, the cheerleading captain, no discernable personality, and yet her makeup kit is supposedly in the triple digits. Ballinae Ronson, her parents are famous around town for selling jewelry, though urban legends say that’s not all they sell. 

And then, there’s my sister, Peyton Hunter. Peyton stood in front of the trio, her legs awkwardly quaking, the eyes of the entire school directed upon her. While Ballinae and Heather carried themself with such grace, Peyton stuck out like a sore thumb, tripping over her high heels, her golden tux becoming creased and wrinkled. She swore. 

“D—it,” she looked up at me and Maya, Maya jiggling the jel-o with her fork. “Oh, hi, August.” 

“Greetings, b—-.”

“Oh, and, um, who’s your friend.”

“This is Maya Amaro, Maya, this is my sister. Peyton.”

“It’s a pleasure,” Peyton said. 

Ballinae hissed, “Peyton, c’mon! Let’s go!” 

As Peyton ran off, Maya looked at me, “Soooo, does Peyton have a girlfriend?”

“Well… no, but I don’t think she’s-” 

“Oh, she’s definitely,” she waved her hand in a cat-like motion. 

“What’s her number?” Maya asked. 

I sighed, “I’ll send you the contact later, Mace.”

***

So, let me set the stage. Caesar has a lot of bathrooms, there’s a few in the lobby, and there’s like a whole locker room in each cohort, and the locker rooms have showers, toilets, everything that you need. I usually wait until everybody else has gone to bed to take my shower, so it’s like… midnight. And someone else is using the shower, and if you’re using the shower at 3AM you’re either like me, or you’re a creep. So I’m waiting outside, getting a drink from the water fountain, when I hear the strangest sound erupt from the girl’s locker room. 

The sound of vomiting. 

“Easy, girly, let it all out.” Another voice says. This one I recognize, it’s my sister, Peyton.

“Peyton,” Ballinae says, “I need a mint.” 

“No, Balie. You need to see a doctor.” 

“Hey!” I yell into the girl’s bathroom, “A good way to handle bulimia is to drink down lots of fluids, the school severes a lot of carbonated beverages from the vending machine, and those actually do more harm than good, I recommend you stick with water, I actually use the garden center to grow my own herbal tea!” 

“That’s… really helpful, actually.” Heather says, “Did you hear the medical man?” She asks. 

“Yeah, I d-” Ballinae pauses, “Is that blood?” 

I took a medical class over the summer, and one of the most important parts of the hippocratic oath is to treat the ill to the best of my ability. 

If this involves rushing into the girl’s locker room, so be it!

But I am stopped by the hall monitor. After the Battle of the Fifth Cohort, the school elected to employ adult hall monitors, instead of students. The Third Cohort’s, my cohort’s, hall monitor was the coach, Stuart Kwan. I knew his son.

He’s kind of a jerk. 

“What are you doing?” He asks. 

Peyton jumps out, “Oh, hi, August, didn’t know that was you, there.” He turns to Coach Kwan, “Ballinae wasn’t feeling well, we were, um, helping her.”

“At this hour?”

“Did you expect her immune system to only fail during daylight hours?” Peyton cracked.

Coach’s eyebrows furrowed, the monkeys that rest in his head where the brain cells belong attempt to detect sarcasm in that statement. 

“You need a hall pass.” He said. 

“From who? My roommate?” Peyton laughed. 

“Actually, we got a hall pass.” Heather Sawyer exits the girl’s locker room holding a forged hall pass. 

“From who?” 

“My Dad.” Peyton and I said at the same time. 

“Your Dad, the band director, gave you that hall pass.”

“Well, I mean. Duh. He’s a caring individual.”

“Yeah, we were doing late night practice.” Peyton tapped three fingers on the door frame, a code that CHRONOS had created, a code that had carried over after years. It meant to start texting. 

I knew, then, that Ballinae Ronson would be texting the situation to my Dad, who would be able to back us up. 

“You mean to tell me that if I go and check the camera I’ll be able to see you guys leave the band district and head to this cohort?” 

I nodded. 

“Very well, then.” He said. And he walked away. 

When he was out of earshot, Peyton wiped a bead of sweat from her brow. “F—. F—. F—ity F— F—. They’re gonna check the cameras.” 

“Ay, don’t worry about it, I’ll delete the footage.”

“Right on.” Peyton said.

Ballinae appeared from the bathroom, phone in hand. “I’m sorry, you can do what?” 

“When my Dad signed up for band director here he got the security camera admin password. I sort of stole his sticky note, I’m like the cleanup guy. Everyone talks to me on The Folded Connections about it, too.” 

“Oh, really?” Ballinae asks.

“We’ll keep that in mind…” 

“Can you do that?” Ballinae asked Peyton. 

“Yeah, but I’m not as good at it. Why?” 

Ballinae grinned, “Just curious…”

Qwikpick Calamity 

By Edward “Nico Di AngeFold” Emily 

No, but literally, why? Why do you have to make my life so hard? Huh? 

I literally have to keep track of all of you, and I leave for no more than two months and you break into civil war, a child dies, and my sister is cancelled. 

NO!

WHY? 

What is wrong with you people? 

But, it’s, like, three in the morning, I’m in the breakroom, my feet spread over the futon, I’m mixing a new song,  and I get a knock at my door. 

 “Oh, son of mine!” It’s my f—ing Mom. 

“Yes, Mother?” I ask, swinging the door open. 

“Your sister texted me, apparently she… killed someone?” 

“Oh… well, that’s not… good.”

“It’s Chase Kemp.” 

“Okay, that’s really not good. And when did this happen?” 

My Mother, Marianna Binford, rubs her eyes in distrust. “I don’t know… a week ago. Apparently your boyfriend wiped the footage but Peyton leaked it all.”

“Yo, Peyton did what?”

“She leaked all of it.” 

I slammed my head into the door frame, “Jesus f—ing Christ.”

My Dad rushed through the hallway, rambling on the phone. He pulled the phone away from his face, covering the microphone with his hand, “I’m talking to Tyler, did you know they put him in charge of student affairs?” He went back to his conversation. 

“So, Mom, what’s the plan?” 

“We’re going to pull your sister out of Caesar for a while, until this can all hopefully blow over.” 

“Oh, wow. That’s great, I can finally spend some quality time with my sister and-” 

“Not so fast,” she said, “We’re sending you in.” 

“I’m sorry, what?” 

“Caesar needs a hero, isn’t that what you’re in charge of? You’re the every man, you repair what is broken. Can’t Nico Di Angelo bring back the dead?” 

“I should’ve never let you read the Percy Jackson books.”

“So, you’re just going to send me to Caesar and expect me to change everything?”

“Yes, that.”

“You’re an awful parent.” I joked.

She rolled her eyes, “All I hear is complaining.” 

My Dad poked his head into the room, “Did he agree, yet?” 

“We’re getting around to th-” 

“Yes, Yes, I have.”

Welcome, Edward Emily, To Caesar Middle School

By August Hunter

I was walking to class the next morning, mildly sleep deprived, crowds of people rushing around me. A voice from within the crowd began to hiss and swear, I turned to see Edward Emily in an oversized sweater, a single necklace dangling over his neck. His hair was combed over his eyes, and his skin was bone white. I had to crane my neck around several people, given that he was… quite… short. 

Edward’s comment: Hey, shut up. 

August’s comment: Make me. 

Edward’s comment: If you say so. 

August’s comment: ….

Edward, holding onto a binder, slammed into me, bumping me into Maya Amaro, who had to hold me up by the arms. 

“Oh, hello, Maya.” Edward said, “And who are you, stranger?” Edward asked. 

“Oh, I’m August Hunter,” I laughed. 

“No clue who that is,” ever witty, he helped Maya prop me up and turned to her, whispering just loud enough to hear me, “He’s cute…” he said. 

“No, but, in all seriousness,” Edward kissed me on the cheek, “Hey, babe. What’s up?” 

“My sister bullied yours.”

“Yeah,” he began to clean his nails, “My Dad sent me here to… change things, I guess.” 

“What’s that even supposed to mean?” Maya asked.

“Beats the f— out of me,” he shrugged. “Anyways, losers, what’s up? August, I see you met Maya.”

“Oh, yeah. She’s great.” 

“Wait, wait, wait,” Maya blinked, “You said your sister,” he pointed at August, “Bullied your sister,” he pointed at Edward, “What’s the story on that.” 

“I thought that Peyton was getting better, she was always a tad selfish and narrow minded but this… seems out of character.” 

“I agree, but you have to face the facts here. My Dad showed me some screenshots this morning. It’s scary what people are sending her, okay? If Peyton did this… and she’s the only person who really could’ve done this, then she… she needs to pay.” 

“Ok, ok, good point,” I said, interrupting, “We’ll… get back to you on that.” 

Now, Edward seething in hatred over my sister should be horrible. But then, why does it feel so right? 

Like I shouldn’t encourage this. 

But d———–, violence is a good look on him. 

Like, imagine, for a moment, would he… would he fight for me? 

A world where we would fight against this bullying, against tyranny, and come out the other end of No Man’s Land with his hand in mine.

He could set my broken bones, and I know CPR. And the other things. 

Okay, Edward, um… do you want to sit with me at lunch, eh?”

“I would… not be opposed to that, actually.” 

“Great, just head to the band district, m’kay? My Dad’s letting me eat there because some losers bully me and Maya.” 

He shrugged, “Okie Dokie. Fine by me, SunnyD.”

Flash forward a few hours, and me, Peyton, Edward, and Maya are sitting in the bandroom, Edward giving Peyton devil eyes, Peyton analyzing a piece of sheet music, and me and Maya stretching a slinky out as far as it can go, balancing Bart Montez’ flute on it. We go about seven feet before the flute case falls over and my Dad yells at me for a bit. 

Edward tried out the saxophone, and he was… surprisingly good at it, not even going to lie. 

Peyton knocked on the chair we refused to sit in, “Hey, guys, would you like to maybe, I don’t know, come to a party with me and the gals?” 

“Gee, I don’t know….” 

Peyton checked to see if my Dad was nearby, her eyes darting around the room, “Your boyfriend can come.” She said,

Edward grumpily bit into his Cosmic Brownie as I accepted Peyton’s invitation. 

I Am Bullied

By Maya Amaro

“Woah,” I said, “This is just like my cousin’s bar mitzvah,” I said as apple juice was poured on Edward. 

“YOOOOOOO,” Alastor Cummings appears, playing with my hair. Edward jabs a pen into his back as he falls onto the ground. 

“Edward! Edward!” August rushes in, “They have a water bed! A guy is spooning his girlfriend in it but they’re playing Harley Quinn!”

“Shut up,” Edward yelled, “Me and Peyton’s friends are making drinks!” 

Heather nudged Edward, “Good god, you’re a natural! Just like my Mom…” 

“You’re doing it wrong,” Ballinae groaned. 

“Really? I feel great!” 

“Hey,” Alastor offered August a shot of jel-o. Honestly, it felt like ever since he helped the popular girls out August’s popularity, and by extension, my popularity has been rising. 

“Quit it, jack-” the music turned up, this really awesome band, The Orion Experience, “Get off of me.” A voice said from behind me, Ballinae Ronson. 

“Yo, Alastor,” I said, distracting him, “I’m like… pretty sure I saw some sixth graders trying to sneak in. You wanna go handle that?” I asked. 

Alastor and Jake scampered off, looking for a non-existent sixth grader.

“I didn’t need your help,” Ballinae said, patting herself down. 

“Awww, thanks, Balie, but I don’t really need to vomit right now.” 

“Wait, wait, wait,” Ballinae says, snapping at her friends, Peyton and Heather appearing out of nowhere, she looks at Peyton, “This is a pretty gal, isn’t she?” 

“Yeah, totally.” Peyton agreed. 

I blushed. 

“Do you have a boyfriend yet?” I shook my head, “No?” Ballinae asked. “C’mon, we can help you out.”

“Actually, I’m not into m-” 

“C’mon, who do you like? Who do you want to go out with?” 

“I actually don’t like anybody at this school and…” 

“Stop, yes, you do. Come on, we’re like best friends, you can tell me.” 

“We met a few minutes a-”

“Stop, we’re like best friends, right?”

“Oh my god, you were totally just looking at Alastor.” Peyton said. 

“No, I certainly w-” 

“Stop, yes, you were. You were totally just looking at Al, right? You like him!” 

“No, I d-” 

“Stop! Yes, you do! You totally like him,” she smacked her lips, “Okay. So. Stop, listen, Al is like literally my brother, not in a romantic way, and,” I shook my head. 

“No, c’mon. I can, like, set you up. That would be so cute. Come on,” she snapped her fingers at Alastor, “Al! Al, c’mere. Maya is, like, totally crushing on you, and you two would be so cute together!” Al pulls me close, “It’s a date, then? You wanna go to the-” he tried to kiss me. 

I shoved him off and ran out of the dorm room, I felt… sick. To my stomach. And Edward appeared behind me. 

“Hey… what’s up, buttercup?” 

“Peyton’s being a jerk, again.”

Edward cringed, “Fine. This f—ing stops.” 

He took a swig from his drink, with not one, but three maraschino cherries. “Well, August, this proves something to you?” 

I didn’t even realize August was there. 

“Fine, I suppose… we can do something small.” The song grew much, much louder, a song titled The Cult of Dionysus. “What do you have in mind?” 

The music grew louder. 

The Cut of Dionysus

By Edward Emily

“Poison it is, then.” August sighed. We were walking down a hallway in the sixth cohort that looked like a f—ing fever dream. 

“What was the thought process here?” Maya asked. 

“Guys, calm down. It’s nothing lethal, I just-” 

Dionysus Lashes jumps up behind us, and soon, the crowd consumes us. A disco ball drops from the ceiling as the lights flash vibrant rainbow colors. 

“Good afternoon, buddy boy.” Dionysus ruffles up my hair, “Just what can I do for you, darling?” 

“We need poison.” 

“Oh, murder? Now we’re talking,” they reached into their purse, “Okay. Okay, so, my specialty is actually with knives however-” 

“We’re not looking to kill anybody.” 

Dionysus frowned, “Ah, such a shame.” 

“Wait, now, hold on. Your name is Dionysus, right?” Maya interrupted. 

“Yes.” 

“And yet your puppet is…” 

“Dionysus, yes.”

“That’s… actually really cool.” 

“Why, thank you, Maya Amaro.” 

“Hold on, now. How do you know my name?”

They laughed, “Listen, I keep an eye out for…” they gestured vaguely at the entire group, including the cult that was surrounding us, “People like us, and yesterday I heard you say that your lust for life was, well, dwindling. So, this is going to be in the house.” He said. 

Edward grinned, “Great. That’s great.” 

“Y’know, they’ve been super strict after Chase Kemp’s death, I’ve just been dying to get into some mischief, okay?” 

One of the cult members pulled out a foldout table, right there in the hallway, and Dionysus snapped, “Guys! Gals! Pals! Remember what I told you! No cloaks around the guests!”

All of the members took their cloaks off, some of them frowning. They all looked like people I had seen on The Folded Connections, people I followed because, well, they were hot. The room quickly became a swirl of color as their dyed hair and tie dye overalls revealed themselves. 

“Sorry, they get… nervous, around, y’know, other people. Anyways, just how dangerous do you want our friend’s… um… cocktail to be.” 

“Nurse’s office for a week,” I said, “We need to send a message.” 

“Okie Dokie!” They snapped their fingers, “Abby! Get the f—ing Chocolate Hearts of Darkness! Melt them down in the toaster oven we stole, and throw in a crushd up Lily of the Valley, will you?” 

“On it, boss!” Dionysus kissed Abby on the forehead as he ran off. 

“Oh, good Nirvana! I forgot to introduce myself to you,” they pulled August in by the collar, “Hi, I’m Dionysus, senior manager of… the Cut of Dionysus! We here at the Cut of Dionysus, we started out as the official after school pride club of Athens but since the closing t things just sort of… fell apart,” they laughed, “Anywhoody, we basically made this club to just get out of classes and such, we get the entire month of May off for just… no reason, really. Membership is free if you pay thirteen dollars.” Dionysus rolled their eyes at their own backhanded remark. 

“But-”

“Oh, I’m just kidding, I’m no capitalist scum nut, after all, money is nothing more than paper” they shrugged, “Of course, Edward, here, is your expert on capitalism.”

“Capitalism is creating a product for the sole reason of profit, Dionysus,” I said, “What I did was capitalize on products with…” I giggled, “Glorious purpose.”

“You’re such a smarta–.”

“Yeah. Haha. Water under the bridge, or should I say styx under the bridge?” 

“Yeah… yeah… sure, Edward. Sure.” 

Abby rushed back in, holding a small container of something bloodred, “Mix this into her coffee, alright? Non-lethal, I promise. Oh, and remember, Maya, August, Edward… you guys are free to join the Cut of Dionysus  whenever you want to, okay?” They offered me their hand, “It’s a pleasure doing business with you.” I said.

And Edward, August, and I… walked off.

“So,” August asked, “How do you know that person?” 

“Well… we dated for a bit.” 

August gulped.

Never Shut Up Again

By Ballinae “Arthena” Ronson

Peyton’s eyes were bags of bleach, her skin bone pale. Heather stood beside me, gazing, her eyes hollow. “Do you know what happened?” Heather asked. 

“Some scumbags tried poisoning me,” she laughed, “Like that’s gonna get me down, eh?

“You should rest, Peyton.” Heather said, brushing her hand against Peyton’s forehead. 

“No, no, no. I’m fine. I promise.” The blanket rippled as Peyton tried to stand from her infirmary bed. 

The infirmary’s architecture was beautiful beyond comparison, silver arches climbing over the beds like rainbows, paintings of Greek tragedies lining the walls. A happy showtune plays in the background, the piano, the harmonica, the saxophone, the room all very mellow.

Wincing in pain, Peyton fell back down upon her bed. 

“You’re in no shape to return, Peyton,” I said, “I’m serious. Just- just lay down.” 

The silence drew itself out, more uncomfortable with each passing moment, “Xander.” Heather said, “Xander’s gone off his rocker… he’s convinced that people are rebelling against OrigOlympus.” 

Peyton coughed, her lips chapped with dried flakes. “Maybe that’s what should happen, right? I fought in the wars that saw Xander and the Triumvirate rise to power…”

“I agree,” I said, “But Peyton, you have to admit, Xander and Mallory are good leaders, injuries… fights… they’ve all gone down, and by a lot.” 

“The ends don’t justify the means, Bal.” 

“I- I disagree. The wise decision is not always the most popular.” 

Peyton rolled her eyes, “Yeah, of course. Who am I to argue with ‘the great new Arthena?’”

“Hey…” Peyton began, “What if it was Edward? Or…” her face grew dark, though the message was bright and clear as can be. 

August. 

“What if they poisoned me… d—, I- I shouldn’t have leaked that footage, should I have?”

“You took my advice,” I wrapped my fingers around Peyton’s watch, messing with the dials. It was a beautiful thing, the hands of the watch replaced with arrows, ticking away, pointing at roman numerals behind a golden backdrop, though as the sun faded through the curtains it shimmered shades of purple and red. The sun was setting. 

I ran my nail through the watch, ripping it from Peyton’s hand, “Hey! Give it back, that was my Mom’s!”

I pretend to examine it, making sure the setting sun reflects off of my glasses and into Peyton’s eyes. 

“You- you should give that back, Ballinae.” 

“No, I don’t believe I will.” I took a seat on the teal mattress, by Peyton’s side. I cackled, “For the time being, Miss Hunter, I think I’ll be running this wreck pit. For almost three years I’ve waited for a new OrigOlympus to rise, for me to seize my chance at power, and now… now my time has come. And with Sebastian Merrick, Mac Astley, Ximena Strohm, Kaitlyn Emily, you, and Edward Emily out of the way I’m the one who’s ready to fill that vacuum. See, Peyton, the thing that distances me from you is that I know when to bite my tongue, when to count to ten. But I’m never going to shut up again, Peyton Hunter.”

Heather raced after me as I left the room, “Bal! Bal! Stop- f—ing, can you- can you not?” A blue hairbrush racing past me, instead slamming into the burly chests of two of my more fearsome guards, Jake Moon and Alastor Cummings. Alastor sneered, though his sneer quickly shifted into a frown. 

“Miss Ronson?” He asked, “The girl is… really pretty. I can’t hit a pretty lady.” 

My twitch in annoyance was followed by Jake Moon performing the action of slamming for his dimwitted friend, Heather Sawyer bruised and on the floor, Jake Moon looking back, guilty. 

“Come along, Alastor. Jake. There’s a lot of work Xander wants us to do, and not much time to do it! Speaking of which, I sent you some files on our new… Friends. Edward Emily and August Hunter.”

ACT TWO

Date Night Interruptions

By August Hunter

I learned quite a bit today. 

  1. Never go on a date with Edward Emily. 
  2. Look to number one for more advice.

Now, what did Edward do, exactly? Nothing bad boyfriend-y, exactly. Just a bit too Edward. Now, Edward’s already a hard to manage guy. Now amplify that and you have an obnoxious date night Edward. 

It started like this: I’m sitting in my dorm room, alone. I’m chatting with one of my online friends, Linkin. Three knocks on my door. And a note slipped underneath:

Dear August,

Cafeteria. Now. Loser.

Love, Edward

And there were three little hearts in the corner. How romantic… 

Jesus Christ, a trail of roses led me to the cafeteria. Since it was night time, you’d expect the cafeteria to be empty and locked. But legend has it that Heff Heffner, back before he and all of OrigOlympus betrayed us, discovered that the lunch ladies would always leave it unlocked. Presto change-o, a few kids took up shop there, serving actually good dishes. And it also served as a great place to hide away. Away from teachers, and if you keep the lights low enough, the cameras don’t even spot you. 

They call it the Waystation.

And Edward Emily had mutilated it. A neon red walkway ran from the entrance to a table that Edward Emily sat upon, wearing a void black suit with a rose in his mouth, one that he plucked from between his teeth and threw at me. 

I was wearing a Britainy Spears shirt with a mustard stain on it.

“Come now, darling,” He pulled a seat out from a generic lunch table, embellished by a tablecloth. 

“Edward, you didn’t have to do this.” 

“But,” he pulled me in close and kissed my hand, “You are my glass of whine, and I take pleasure in filling it up.” 

“One. How did you misquote Corpse Bride so poorly? Two. Please never discuss ‘filling me up’ again. And third. No, Edward. You literally didn’t have to do this.” 

Edward pouted, “I… made you a lava cake.” He gestured at his lava cake. 

“I have a test to study for.” 

He beaded his eyes. 

“I… I do like lava cake.” 

Edward nodded, “And I studied yest… fine. I guess it wouldn’t hurt.” 

The Hunters of Art-emis from the table across from us promptly held a burping contest that went on for several minutes. 

“Just… just eat the lava cake, darling.” He patted me on the shoulder, “Hang in there,” he leaned over in his seat and held out Nico Di AngeFold on his finger, “Howdy, Edward Emily here. My grandma’s Angela Emily, my Dad nearly crushed the Hunters of Art-emis. My Mom, too, even. Now if you’ll excuse me, my boyfriend and I, who, mind you, is the son of Mr. David Hunter, are trying to have a date. Either shut up or I can have it arranged that your little girl scout troop is disbanded,” he giggled, “And then what’s gonna come of your future, kicked out of the volleyball team for ARSON?” He held his hand to his chest in mockery, his mouth wide open. 

“Now, what do you have to say to us?” 

“We’re… We’re sorry.” Murmured Anastasia Wisley. 

Once Edward turned back to dig into his lava cake, I stared at him in shock, “Could you really do that?” 

“Oh, good heavens, no. Gam gam hates me, then again, it’s fun seeing them shrivel up in absolute terror.” 

“Ha… that’s… that’s funny.” 

“I know, right?” He laughed. 

“Well, Edward, I was actually thinking. Hey! Maybe we can tone this down, just a little bit.” 

“Y’know, the funniest thing happened the other day! I was playing D&D with my roommates, and a guy just flirted with the orcs the whole time.” 

“What?” 

“The guy just flirted with the orcs the whole time.” 

“What does this have to do with my whole thing?” 

“The guy just flirted with the orcs the whole time.” 

“That’s… that’s great, Edward. I’d love to play D&D with you, sometime.” 

“Oh, yeah! That’d be great. We’ll do it on Sunday, it’s a date.” 

“I- I’m not free on Sunday.” 

“Oh, then I guess it’s off, I’ll cancel the order.” 

“The what?” 

He raised his finger, “I predicted you’d agree.” 

“But I didn’t agree.” 

“I predicted wrong.” 

“Also, you know I have band practice on Sunday afternoon.” 

Edward rolled his eyes, “Why can’t you skip it. Like, just once?” 

“You were supposed to be our drummer, Edward. Since you started skipping practice, we’ve had to try and find someone new.” 

“You did f—ing what? You knew I was excited about that, we had that concert in February planned. For the talent show.” 

“It’s March, Edward.” 

“Sorry. I just… would’ve liked a reminder.” 

“Jesus, what’s even the d— point, huh? You’re obsessed, Edward. Yeah, it’s great to have dreams but… you’re going nuts, Edward. I started going out with you because you were fun, you made my whole life nuts, babe. And it feels like everything is falling apart.” 

Edward stood up from his table, “Shut up. Just- just shut up, okay?” He slammed the chair into his table, “God, you always f—ing do this, everytime I’m happy you just try to rip it away from me.” 

“I’m worried about you, Edward!” I stood up, this time. 

“WHY? ARE YOU WORRIED THAT I’LL FINALLY BECOME SOMEONE THAT YOU CAN’T CONTROL, THAT I DON’T HAVE TO DEPEND ON YOU ANYMORE?” 

“WE’VE LITERALLY ONLY KNOWN EACH OTHER FOR A FEW MONTHS!!” 

Eyes were directed at us, staring intently. “Edward, do you think I want this!? Do you think I wanted any of this? Edward, I LOVE YOU!” 

You could’ve heard a pin drop. Everything seemed to collapse around us, a few members of the Hunters of Art-emis giggling. 

Ballinae Ronson jumped up on a table, “HA. CAUGHT IN 4K!” 

She was holding a video camera. Edward quietly whispered to himself, “It’s… it’s nothing.” Edward said. I knew what would happen if that video got out. My Dad would find it. Oh god, oh f—. 

“Oh, is it?” Ballinae asked. She cackled. 

“My god, Ballinae, why are you such a mega-b—.” 

Ballinae smirked, “Because I can be.”

And I realized something, wrapped around her arm, a watch. A golden watch. Peyton’s watch. 

“Stop… stop messing with Peyton’s stuff.” Was all I could muster. 

I realized something else. All twelve of the OrigOlympians were here, as well. 

Watching. 

“Peyton Hunter’s gone. Cast out from OrigOlympus, and it’s up to me to replace her.” 

“Replace my sister?” 

“Eh, you need to worry less about me and more about your reputation… the whole school’s going to know you and your friends are a couple of f—.” 

That was not the F word, by the way. 

Edward punched Ballinae, square in the face. I panicked. And I heard a scream, Edward on the floor, groaning. 

“Wait…” Heater interupted. “So, they’re gay, right?” 

“What?” Ballinae asked. 

“They’re… like… homosexuals, correct?” 

“I mean, yeah. But we’re bullying them.” 

“Why?” Heather asked. 

“Because… we don’t like them.” 

“Why?” 

“Great point.” 

“I don’t like them,” Xander said, from the back, blunt. 

“Oh, okay.” Heather shrugged, “Ruin them. Got it.”

Jake Moon and Alastor Cummings appeared, seamingly summoned. Jake clapped his hands, “Ayo!” He grabbed the camera from Ballinae’s hands, “What’s good guys, it’s me, ya boy, Jake, here we have a couple of fruit cakes,” they jumped between me and Edward, covering Edward in rainbow confetti, “And we’re gonna show them love and acceptance.” 

“What?” Ballinae asked. 

“F–, wrong script. Al, did you grab the wrong bucket?” Jake Moon asked

Alastor produced a second, exact replica, of the first bucket, though this one covered in green slime. He dumped the green slime on Edward. 

“HA! QUEER!” 

“Why did you even have the first bucket?” Jake asked. 

“Why did you have that first script?” Alastor asked. 

Edward and I took their bickering as the perfect opportunity to escape.

Though we later regrouped in the boy’s bathroom, and without saying a word, we agreed that the consequence of this video leaking would be better dealt with tomorrow. 

I Don’t Feel Bad, And That’s What Makes Me Feel Bad

By Edward Emily

We’re in the band room, I’m slumped forward in my seat while August is sweating in silence, praying into his hands. 

His Father, Artpollo, David Hunter, wears golden sunglasses, a tank top, and a leather jacket, in his hands, he holds a trumpet. He is the band director, after all.

My own Father is wearing a black suit, his hair combed back. He’s trying out a mustache, good for him. August’s Father has called him here, the first time the two OrigOlympians spoke in thirty years, to… discuss. 

“I- I don’t know what to say,” Mr. Hunter says, “I’m ashamed, certainly.” My Father’s eyes darted around the room, at the posters on the walls. All the while I’m silently thinking: How could a band director be homophobic? 

“August has turned my family into a laughing stock, our boys aren’t who we thought they were, and when I try to imagine the sick… and disgusting things these boys have been up to I-” 

“Now, hold on just a minute here,” My Father adjusts himself in his seat. Oh no. It’s happening again. “It is ignorant, hateful, talk like yours that drives my son to tears each night!” 

August looked at me, “You cry yourself to sleep?” 

I blush, “Shut up…” I say, in a small voice, praying to whatever god there is that I can sink into my sweater. 

“These kids aren’t dirty! They’re not wrong! They’re just two verses, two roles to play in Angela Emily’s grand plan,” he stood up and ruffled Mr. Hunter’s gelled hair. 

“Our boys are pansies, Charles.” 

“Yes!” My Father shouts, “My boy is a homo, and I am not scared, nor ashamed.” 

I shake my head and lean in to whisper in August’s ear, “He gets really excited about these types of things.”

My Dad buzzes the loud speaker, a fire in his eyes, “I WANT THE WORLD TO KNOW I LOVE MY GOTH GAY SON!” He rips his suit off revealing a rainbow sweater covered in gold and silver necklaces. 

“Jesus f—ing Christ.” I say. 

“When this boy came out to me I prayed it was a lie, in fact, I never cared for homos much until I adopted one, a beautiful one!” He’s still over the loudspeaker, mind you. “These boys would never commit a crime, there’s no bigotry, no swearing, just two friendly young men happy to be with each other,” he wraps Mr. Hunter in a forceful hug. 

My Mother appears from the band room storage closet, throwing rainbow confetti upon my Father. “These boys are as brave as Hades! They knew that the world would judge them and yet they prayed for freedom!” My Father stormed off in defeat. 

“David! I can’t believe that you still refuse to understand! After everything we’ve been through. After summer camp. 1991.” 

My Mother gasped as David turned his head to face Charles, and he paused to choose his words carefully. 

“That…” he sighed, “That was one hell of a fishing trip.” 

A crowd of people had formed outside the bandroom, gawking. Maya Amaro, the entire Cut of Dionysus, even a few strangers in the crowd, I recognized Harald Koenig and Xena Strohm, even Sebastian Merrick’s Dad, the track teacher, Lucas Merrick. So. Many. People. All cheering, all happy, and Mr. Hunter’s eyes water. My Mother, Father, and August’s Father all marched away, arm in arm, leaving August and I alone in the bandroom.

My Father rushed back in, once again going over the loudspeaker, “Oh, and Angela, it’s me. Yeah, hey Mom, hi, it’s me. Your son. F— you. I’m bi.”  

He turned to look at us, grinning, “Sorry, I just, really, really, wanted to do that.” He giggled, and then he ran away again, leaving August and I alone in the bandroom. 

And I stared at August, my eyes looking into his soul. And I didn’t care what I did, because my Father loved me. It’s strange, really. The defeat of Peyton Hunter gave her a soul, people mourned, people felt sad for the spoiled little girl. Maybe, just maybe, that’s my purpose. I brought Mac Astley back into the picture, and I shut down Athens Middle School. I’m what killed the dinosaurs.

I smelled the air, “Woah… woah… what is that?” 

August looked around, concerned, “Is that… Tolerance? Did I just help make Caesar Middle School a better place to live.” 

August smiled, kissing me on the cheek, “So, what are we going to do now?” 

“Maybe we will play around a bit. Maybe we can test how far we can go with this? Changing up people’s lives, after all, I’ve already made some arrangements with the Cut of Dionysus, Dionysus’s arranged it so that they’re going to be expelled, and their final test scores sent to every football team and school in New York.”

August looked like he was fuming, “Glory. Love. How often can you say it’s a good day to live in Athens, New York? You’re welcome, Athens!” 

I giggled. “Hey!” He said, “You don’t have to be so smug about it. You don’t have to do any of this.” 

“Oh, but I do. You know, Ballinae Ronson is behind this. I’ve known for months, I’ve already started underlining meaningful passages in her copy of 1984 if you know what I mean.” 

“No!” He shouted, “I’ve had enough of this, this stops now. Three lives have already been ruined, Edward. And Caesar’s already in so much pain, don’t add to it.” 

“Add to the pain? Can’t you see? Caesar is finally united! The people are loving each other again, the people are united! Every war has casualties, but that doesn’t mean it’s not worth fighting, darling.” 

“How many, Edward?” He stared into my eyes, the green blades staring into me. 

“I don’t know, August. I don’t know. EVIL F— WHO MAKES IT SO THAT YOU CAN’T STAND TO LIVE IN THIS WORLD ANYMORE!” 

“Edward!” August yelled. 

“WHAT!?” 

August lingered at the question, eyes looking for something to focus on, deciding themselves dead center on my shoes. 

“Edward. How did you end up adopted by Charles?”

“I… It was a little, maybe five. My Mom died, too, you know. The worst part was I watched her pull the trigger. Wait, no, the worst part is that the sound didn’t wake my father up. I just tugged at his sleeve as he was passed out on the couch, one bottle in his hand and dozens littering the floor. I called the number they taught in schools, the number we’re supposed to call. 911. My Dad- my real Dad- took me in. He knew what it was like to be thrown away by those who were supposed to care about you.”

August held his hands to his mouth, “I’m… I’m really sorry.”

“It’s okay, now, August,” I smiled, painfully, “The pain gives me clarity. You and I? We have so much work to do!”

“When- WHEN DOES IT END, EDWARD!?” He stood up from his seat, looking at me deadon. “WHEN DOES IT END?” 

“WHEN EVERY A–HOLE IS EXPELLED!” 

August shoved me onto the ground. 

“Stop. We’re damaged, we both know what it’s like to lose. But that doesn’t make us wise, that doesn’t give us the right to choose who’s expelled, who’s poisoned, who f—-ing falls off a belltower,” August is crying, “Please. Can we just be normal? Can we- can we see bad movies? Watch tik tok on my phone? Can’t we bake brownies? Go  bowling? We shouldn’t be able to decide these things- we aren’t gods. We’re just a couple of stupid teenagers, and can’t we just… stay that way? That’s all I want, Edward.”

I stepped towards him, “We can go camping. We can- we can play poker, or- or we can eat some chili fries.” I laughed. 

“Prom night?” 

“Dancing?” 

I pulled him in close, sweeping August Hunter off of his feet, twirling him around in my arms. I let him down, kissing him on the forehead. “So what’s it gonna be?” I asked, “We can be teenagers… when we finish what we started.” 

Dear Mother Of Mine

By August Hunter

Hey Mom, it’s been a while.  I need a little bit of help. I know I’m probably writing off into the void, but I just have to ask. Are you really on the ground? Because sometimes I feel like you’re still here, with me. 

I’ve gotten tired of trying to iron out my creases. I just want to be myself, and it feels like no one lets me anymore. Except for Edward, he’s a dream. I think. I’ll tell you more about him later. But it feels like I’m supposed to be happy- when I’m not. 

Every day Dad stares at me, and it’s like he’s just expecting me to get happy. I know he was once beautiful, and he’s getting better. But he’s spent so long in denial. 

He doesn’t want to feel. And all he lost was a wife. He didn’t lose a Mom. 

You won’t believe the mess that we’ve become. 

You were the only hope I had, and I was just your strange little creation. 

I don’t even think Peyton’s moved on. She says she moved on but I know she’s lying. She is a liar. 

Mama, I got a boyfriend and I’m crazy about him. Literally, I think he’s going to drive me crazy. I need your advice. I really need your advice. 

Thank you for holding my hand. I miss you.

Counseling 

By Miss Maxine “Nyx” Margine PhD. 

So, patient one. Edward Emily. Edward looks nervous, his hair a ruffled mess. “So, Edward. I assume you know why you’re here.”

“Yeah, I’m involved in the Cut of Dionysus case, you’re here to… what? Interrogate me?” 

“That’s pretty much the job description, but I don’t see the point in that at all. After all, I know you did it.” 

“I absolutely beg your pardon?” 

I laughed. Like, genuine laughter. This kid was a riot. 

“Yeah. Duh, it would take an idiot to not realize you’re obviously behind this. Then again, most of my colleagues are just that. Idiots. Hey, I won’t judge you.” I offered the young man a handshake, “Please, call me Maxine.” I held up my phone and cassette tape, making a point to stash them on my desk. 

Completely off the books.  

“So, tell me what the deal here is, Edward. I get all the pumped up frustration, I really, really, do. The teachers at this school are SO stupid. The only difference between a genius and an idiot is presentation.” 

“Thank you, I’ve been saying that for years.” 

“But the question is… what if it’s not about some big hierarchy?” I pointed at his chest, “What if it’s about you.

Edward laughed, eventually meeting my tired eyes, “Oh, you’re serious?”

“Yes, Edward. I am. It’s very clear here that you… didn’t have the most stable childhood. Your Father was an alcoholic, your Mother offed herself. You went to live with the Emilys, and I knew Charles and Marianna growing up. They’re good people, and I’m sure they were great to you and your older sister. The problem is… I don’t think they’re great parents.” 

“Don’t talk about my parents.” 

“Sure, they will unconditionally love you, and that’s the most important thing a parent can give a child. But they have expectations for you, high ones at that. And sure, you’re free to lay out the little details. Who you date, who you surround yourself with. But you’ve always been, if you don’t mind me saying this, small. And again, I can’t stress this enough, this isn’t even their parents. It’s Athens, it’s all this stupid game Angela Emily’s playing.”

Edward took a slow, quiet breath. “Y’know what, sure. You’re right, actually. But all these years, I’ve been the person who comes in, changes everything, and I guess… that’s my purpose, in all of this.”

I sighed. Another poor, tormented child. “Edward, what you all need to understand is this: You’re not a story that’s supposed to be told. This is real life, Edward. What Angela wants is to tell her own story, one that’s all about destruction and betrayal. And if you play along with it, if you act like you have some grand purpose in all of this, then you’ll be giving her exactly what she wants. And you’ll be disappointed.” 

Edward groaned, “I don’t- I don’t care. I know I should, but… I just don’t. This whole meeting is pointless, I’m… I’m happy, okay? I have everything I need, a great friend group…” 

“Your friend group is in shambles, Edward. You’re a psychopath.” 

“A super hot boyfriend, who I’m… in love with.” 

“He’s thinking about dumping you… you’re a psychopath.” 

“A great family.” 

“No. Your grandma is a psychopath.”

“At least I’m happy, okay? Why can’t you understand that?” 

“You’re a psychopath.” 

“No, I’m not.” He wasn’t even angry. He looked… tired. And then he walked out. Y’know what? Fine, another lost cause. 

Next patient, the allusive Peyton Hunter. Peyton was getting better, her hair less dry, her eyes less red. She even walked in with that juup, that jump that all the happy students have. 

“So, what’s up?” I asked her, carefully placing the pen on my mouth to chew on. 

“I’m doin’ great, doc. No, seriously, I’m heckin’ hyped to head on back to my classes.” 

“Your schedule says you’re heading back to classes next Monday.” 

“Yeah. Honestly, I just vomited a lot. And I guess I didn’t get much sleep, either, which didn’t help. But hey, I just drank lots of fluids and everything turned out ay-okay,” she punctuated her final word, ‘ay-okay’, with an okay sign and a wink. 

“Well, Peyton, glad to hear that you’re happy again. I just wanted to call you in here to, um, give you these.” A small collection of get well soon cards, made by the loving students of Caesar Middle School. 

Dear Peyton, 

Hey, I know, times are rough. I’m probably the last person you wanna hear from right now, but you gave me real scare when you collapsed the other day. Hang in there, champ.

  • Sebastian Merrick 

Peyton stared at that note for… hours, “Wow, guess Sebastian came out of hiding. That’s wild… are there… anymore?” Her eyes lit up like the Fourth of July. 

Ayo Peyton, 

As the certified expert in clownery and sickness, I know a thing or two. Y’know, I used to be popular once. And sickness changes how you look, how you act, hey, it changes everything. And when you’re so high and mighty, no one feels like they can touch you. Oh, Peyton touching me… I’m getting ahead of myself. It’s hard, and if you ever need someone to talk to my Discord’s @discokitten#4789 

  • Maya Amaro 

“This is… this is awesome, give me more. More!” 

Peyton, 

I know we didn’t get off to the best start, but I want to let you know that you’re a super cool person and that you get better soon. I don’t have anyone to really binge watch anime with (Because they locked Kaitlyn in her room) (Oh but there is this cute boy I’m thinking about asking out) so maybe we could watch Death Note or something. 

  • Keana

“Holy crap… this is awesome!” Peyton scooped up the stack of letters in her arms and ran off screaming, “I’m bigger than John Lennon!” 

Next patient. Maya Amaro. 

“Hi, Maya. What’s on your mind?” 

“Nothing… nothing much. There’s this group I’m thinking about joining, The Cut of Dionysus.” 

“That’s awesome, I’ve heard alot of… good… things about them. It’s important to find meaning in a group of people. Because, well, deep inside of everyone there’s a shame, y’know? Guilt, regret, anxiety, all of that. But with good friends, everything can really turn out… beautiful. Yeah, it can, I think.”

“Really?” 

“Yeah, I think it can.”

“Man, honestly, psychology is so interesting. Counsellor’s are awesome.” 

My jaw dropped, “That’s the nicest thing anybody’s ever said to me. And I’ve been married twice.” 

“Can I ask you a question?” 

“You just did.” 

“What’s… what’s your life like?” She asked. 

“Well, my name’s Maxine. I was one of the older OrigOlympians, I was actually a freshman in High School. I live alone, my husband… my husband left me, and took my kid, Vietch, to California. Y’know, when I was growing up, love was free. Life was pure and,” I could feel my eyes starting to water, “That didn’t work out so well for me, as you can tell. I tried to change the world, hell, I didn’t even make a dent. I joined a cult, I chopped off my hair. And I go to church on Sundays but god doesn’t answer prayers, god is dead, and-” Maya pushed the tissue box forward. 

“Tissue?” 

“Yes please. I haven’t seen my son in four years, and he’s graduating this year. And… and I started going out with one of my co-workers, and- and-”

Maya patted my back, “It’s okay, it’s okay.” 

“It’s just… been a hard couple of years.” 

“I understand that. Our time’s up for now, but we’ll resume this later, okay?”

I sniffed, “Okay…”

Next patient. Ballinae Ronson, and… Heather Sawyer. Ballinae insisted that the two have their therapy together, leaving the lobby I had the people of interest staying at. 

“Why are you crying?” Ballinae sighed. 

“It’s- it’s nothing. So… Bal, what’s on your mind?” Ronson rolled her eyes, “Forget about it. I don’t need counselling.” 

“That’s what everyone says.” 

“And everyone’s usually right.” 

“That’s fair.” I said, wanting to punch her, “I respect your opinion,” I wanted to kick Ballinae off of a roof.

“How about you, Heather?” 

“Oh my god, oh my god, so my boyfriend Jake got expelled and,” she immediately started crying, “Honestly, it’s like… I’m in a lifeboat. And there’s a storm. And I’m on the smallest boat… and everyone is floating away and bumping into each other.” 

“Bumper carts,” Ballinae said. 

“What?” I asked. 

“Bumper carts is a better metaphor. Boat metaphors are overused. The bumper carts are always swirling, always clashing into each other. Unless this is a really bad storm-” 

“It is.” 

“In New York? Girl, please…” 

“Heather, if you’d like, I could get her to leave.”

“No, no, it’s fine. She- can st-stay. It’s just… everyone’s pushing, everyone’s fighting, okay? And I feel like if I just say the wrong thing, or if I wear the wrong outfit, they’ll just… they’ll just push me overboard.” 

“What’s your damage, Heather? Are you saying Caesar’s not a nice place?”

“Ballinae-” I interjected. 

“Where’s your school spirit? Do you really think you deserve to wear our school colors?” Ballinae stood up, grabbing Heather by the shoulders, “Why don’t you move away and get your ugly a– over to Goodman?” She’s screaming. 

A few students peer in from the lobby, August looks defensive. “Is… is Heather crying?” He asks, all too loud. 

A few snickers. I grabbed Ballinae by the shoulder, “Young lady, you are suspended.” 

I see Edward peeping in, filming the whole thing. Probably to show Ballinae’s true colors. 

“Turn the cameras off,” I said, stepping into the lobby, “Turn them off, godd—it.” 

August jumped in, “Cameras? Is that all you care about?” 

“I care about keeping this school sane! Ballinae ruined a valuable teaching experience!” 

“Valuable?” August asked, “None of us want this! To be treated like spectacles and patronized like dogs!” 

“How dare you say I’d patronize dogs!” 

Edward whispered in August’s ear, “This is their big secret, August. The adults are powerless.” 

“Heather trusted you,” August said, “You said that you’d help her.” 

“Oh, they can’t help us,” Edward whispered, “No one can help us.” 

“You’re useless.” 

“We’re alone in this river.” 

“And all of you are idiots.” 

“Wait!” Edward jumped in, “August, you should sit down now.” 

“No! Jake, Alastor, and Peyton, they weren’t accidents! I did it, I did it all!” August put his hands to his mouth, as the silence inched onward. 

One second turned into thirty of a dreary quietness, the kind you could hear a pin drop in.

“What… what do you all think of that?” 

Ballinae bursted out laughing, busting a gut. “Some people will say anything if they think it’ll make them popular.” 

Heather rushed off, in tears. August ran the other direction. Edward shouted his name, chasing after him.

Pep In Her Step

By August Hunter

“Wait, it was Edward that poisoned me?” Peyton asked,  “Ha, nice.”

“You’re not… you’re not mad.” 

“Why would I be? I was acting like a b—-, but hey, I took a little while for self discovery, I met with Keana and I even sorted things out with Kaitlyn.” 

“D—, really?” 

Peyton threw a folder at me, Label Levesque and The Hunters of Art-emis. 

“Yeah, while you guys were romping around, look at us. Getting stuff done!” 

“Yeah, yeah, I’ve been busy…” 

“Busy with what?” 

“The whole Ballinae thing, mostly.”

“Ah. Yeah, I saw the video. That they posted. You and Edward looked like you were going through some stuff, man.” 

“What? Psh, no, we’re happy.” 

Peyton chuckled, “You’re such a bad liar.”

“What? No, me? Lie? Never…” 

“Oh, shut up. C’mon, man, look at your eyes. You used to be so happy when you were with him. Now, heh, look at you.” She held up a makeup mirror. “Your eyes are red, is that… acne? On your baby skin? And some of Dad’s browns are coming out. You’re lucky to have these,” she held up my golden locks. Mom’s genes. 

“Yeah, yeah, to tell the truth… Edward’s just so hard to handle, right? You know how he is…” I laughed, “He’d be a mess without me.” 

“Look, I know this is going to be a tough pill to swallow… but you’re not responsible for anybody’s personal happiness.” 

“But, he’s got really bad self esteem and I’m afraid.” 

“Not responsible for anybody’s personal happiness!”

“But he’s really depressed… and can’t help it… so I feel like…” 

“Not responsible for anybody’s personal happiness!” 

“Edward needs me. He needs my help. I- I can fix him.” 

Peyton snapped her fingers, “Ah, that’s exactly where you’re wrong! You can’t fix him. You are thirteen years old. You are a child, the more time you spend with him,” she poked my chest, “The more of an effect it has on you. And you’re my hecking little brother, you’re in my gray area.” 

“You’re like, four months older than me.” 

“I’m like, four months older than you.” 

“So, are you saying, dump him?” 

She shook her head, “No, no, no, just… leave him to himself, for a little while. Let him grow, you can’t fix him. Let him talk to a professional, let him know that it’s okay to get help. I promise, it’ll be better for the both of you in the long run,” Peyton leaned over and kissed me on the forehead. 

“See you, dude.” And she saluted me. And Peyton was gone. 

So, I opened Discord. 

And I wondered how to word my breakup message with Edward Emily. 

ACT THREE

hero to nero

By Edward Emily

I read the message. Wasn’t… too fond of it. Slit myself a few times, eh. There’s blood on the paper, I’m not writing this on my chromebook because I don’t want blood on it. 

I should literally stop bleeding. 

Shut up. Shut up. Shut up. 

These stupid voices are calling for me, I just want them to shut up. 

Shut up. Shut up. Shut up. 

There’s a knock… a knock at my door. Duh, yes. A gateway into the unknown. 

Straight one, little man! 

Sorry, honey, we have a privacy policy. 

Silly inferior, do you know what this is? It’s the diary of Sebastian Merrick. 

Come on, Eileen… 

Come on, Eileen… 

Come on, Eileen… 

SHUT UP. ALL OF YOU. SHUT UP. 

No, I’m fine. I’m fine. 

Shut up

By Edward Emily

Knock, Knock, Knock

By the person knocking at my door

who… who are you

by edward emily

neroigami

by my new friend

“come on,” it’s neroigami, “my name’s silver, kid. nero.“ 

“Why?” 

He’s laughing at me. Why is he laughing at me. “Edward? DO you recognize me? I know what you’re going through, I’m. [Money].” 

[Fame]

[Greed]

By edward emily

I need to talk to Edward Emily. I need to get better. 

“Have you ever heard of Project: 1992?” He ask. 

No, tell me more. 

Sorry about this. Caesar Middle School, I’m coming… 

The silver blade of Nero strikes at eight

Finale

By August Hunter 

“Well,” I clapped my hands,”I hope that you all know why you’re here.” 

Dionysus raised their hand, “Hi, yes, hello. I- I don’t actually. Dozens of members of the Cut of Dionysus muttered to each other. 

“I forgot to forward you guys Edward’s text message, sorry.” 

“You’re stupid.” Maya muttered to herself. 

“Am not.” 

“Am too.”

“Did I… ask?” 

“You didn’t… not ask.” 

“The point is, Edward’s text is virtually unintelligible, but from what I’ve managed to gather he’s planning something, something big. We need to figure out what, squash it, and hopefully bring Edward back to our side.”

“I know what he’s planning,” Maya said, “See, I know everybody. I have my sources, my muses, if you will. Xander’s going to be addressing the student body tonight, they don’t want anybody to know to stop whatever’s about to happen.” 

“Then how would Edward even be able to prepare? He’s just as in the dark as we are.” 

“Or is he? I mean, think about it. Edward’s always been a little sketchy. He knew about the Labyrinth, he knew Mac Astley’s exact address, down to the apartment number.” 

“Are you saying he’s a traitor?” 

“I’m saying he’s a pawn.” 

Dionysus grinned, “Yeah, that sounds about right. We were looking over old records of the Athens homophobes, Mrs. Kemp’s whole public call out of you and Edward, really, really sorry about that, by the way, anyways, she mentioned someone. That someone was helping the Athens-Caesar transfer… funding wise. I’ve heard the same name thrown around, Mr. Silver.” Dionysus looked up from their phone, “And this… this mentions the ‘silver blade of Nero.” Silver. Nero. In the Percy Jackson books… Nero owns everything. That would require money, right?” 

“So, Edward’s working with/for Nero, to get information on everybody for his own purposes.” 

“So, we defeat Nero?” 

“Not yet, there’s too many unknown variables. What we need to do is stop Edward from doing something stupid.” 

“But how? Edward’s one guy and yet he’s at the advantage, he knows all of our secrets, man.”

“Then we strike a nerve, we talk him out of it before all of it happens.” 

The silence was tense, only broken by Dionysus. 

“Guys, I think I know what Edward’s planning.” 

“Oh yeah?” 

“Yeah, in the 90s, his Dad created a system. It involves intercoms, and light work. It was ahead of its time, but not by much. He paid us when he first moved here to expand the project.” 

“By- by how much?” 

“Lights, smoke effects, distorted audio. Edward could turn the school into a light show.” 

Maya laughed, “That just sounds… funny, I’m sorry.”

“The last time Charles Emily did that, all of modern OrigOlympus has changed.” 

“Oh…” 

Suddenly, the bell rang. “Students of Caesar Middle School, please report to the amphitheater of Sector D.” 

“Bingo.” August said. 

“So, what do we do?” 

I passed out sticky notes, to Maya, and to the Cut of Dionysus, detailing their parts. “We go to Sector D.”

***

Flynn clapped his hands. “I’d like to begin my speech by addressing the question I’m sure you’re all asking. That question being, Flynn Mayantosh, what is with the giant balloon sculpture of Chronos devouring his child? And I’d be happy to tell you that, of course. The answer being, I saw a painting. Saturn devours his son. And I got to thinking, Wouldn’t Caesar Middle School benefit from a giant balloon sculpture of Chronos devouring his son? And the anwer, I think, is yes. Ever since this statue was created and the Triumvirate rose to power, wouldn’t you say life has gotten… easier?” 

To tell the truth, life has been easier. There’s been no intervention from teachers, the only problem so far has been with OrigOlympian affairs. 

“Life’s been peaceful, students are allowed fun and freedom under our authority and we’ve all moved on after the unfortunate and unplanned death of Chase Kemp…” There was a look on Flynn’s face, a look I couldn’t read. Either he truly was a master of deception, or he actually felt  sorry about the death of his old friend. 

“I think it was all for the better,” he convinced himself, “Because his death brought us together and united Caesar Middle School as a place for students to truly get a better education and life as a whole, Caesar’s already granted thirty scholarships to Claremont High in preparation for the upcoming school year, and believe me, what we have planned is going to knock your socks off. I know that our ascent to power has been less than honest but-” I think that’s when time slowed down. I gazed at Xander in the front row, gesturing for Flynn to cut it out. Then Xander fell to the ground, his silhouette tugged at the shadows of Mallory Cross’ hair, and in moments, both had disappeared. The lights cut out, and a twisted laugh echoed through the auditorium, the stadium lights cut out and a single spotlight illuminated on the face of Flynn Mayantosh. 

An unconscious Xander Strohm was kicked into the limelight. The room was engulfed with a purple mist. 

“What’s the matter, OrigOlympians? Have you never seen real power before?” 

From the projectors, scenes played along the walls, on our own faces. Graphic, grotesque images. A song I had learned on the keyboard and played back to Edward shot through the speakers, I Don’t Want To Set The World On Fire, a strange and personal taunt. Like Edward was beckoning me to save him, like he didn’t want to set the world on fire. 

The fire detectors shot off, dousing us in water. 

The videos slowly but surely shifted into personal videos, gazing into the homes of Mac Astley, a shaky webcam through the Labyrinth.

The shrill voice ran through the auditorium, “What’s the matter, false gods? Have you never tasted what real power feels like?”

“Stop!” Flynn yelled, “Please! Stop! I don’t care who you are, just- please-” Flynn breathed heavily, his eyes twitched violently. 

I think Edward Emily might have some minor mental health issues. 

I snapped when I saw videos of me. The videos were taken clearly, more soft in quality. Just little things, stuff like me reading in the common area. Still, it shocked me to my core. Edward Emily had shown the world his true colors. 

“Enough!” I shouted. I jumped out of my seat, and from the shadows in the center of the auditorium, Edward Emily appeared, wearing a suit with tips that ran down to his feet, so dark that it looked purple beneath the light. 

I snapped my fingers, and the Cut of Dionysus ran off. Stage one of the plan. 

“Fine, we’re damaged. But who isn’t? Does that mean we all deserve to be gods? I don’t- I don’t think so. We shouldn’t be able to choose all of this stuff,” Edward silently raised an eyebrow. 

The lighting changed, the video stopped. The reds and white mixed with the shadows quickly turned into a sea of vaporwave. 

“I wish that things could be better, again. I wish that none of this ever happened, that the OriGods never truly existed. But we can fight for a greater future, we can protest, we can make our voices heard.” I walked down the chairs, down each and every step. When I came to Ballinae Ronson in the front row, I ripped the golden watch off of her. 

I stood in front of Edward Emily, who stood in silence. I could see one thing in his eyes, and it was a kaleidoscope of pain. But as the Cut of Dionysus’ projections flashed across the screen, they turned star crossed, the contrast between the two worlds becoming clear as day. 

I grabbed the microphone from Edward’s hands, “Listen up, folks. The war’s just begun, brand new sheriffs are in town. I cannot promise no more gods, this story might not ever end. But we could fight without fists, we could fight with our words. We could prove a point, make our voices heard!” 

Projected stars shot across through the sky, reflecting back at me through Edward’s eyes. I threw the watch back at Peyton, and she smiled, grabbing her bow and firing a beacon off into the ceiling. The whole world saw us, hundreds of eyes lit with new inspiration. 

Edward whispered, “I love you.” 

“I know.”

“I’m sorry.” 

“I know.”

Guilt. 

By Edward Emily

Dear diary, 

It’s been a week, I think. I cut contact with Nero. I wish I could remember his name, but I was usually on something when we met. 

I’m sorry I never shared that. 

Me and August decided to take a break. I hope we can get back together again, but right now, I’m hurting him. And I don’t want to hurt him. I got a new counselor, one of the interns. He’s a bit younger, but I like him. He’s helped show me that maybe I don’t have some glorious purpose. And that’s okay. 

His name is Mr. Jude Decassius. 

I’m doing better, but I have a long way to go. Dionysus brought me some of that non-alcoholic champagne, and Maya talked me into joining the Cut of Dionysus with her. They gave me some pumpkin pie. 

I actually really like pumpkin pie. 

Sincerely, AngeFold 

Epilogue

By Xander “Zeusigami” Strohm

Origolympus Meeting #48

“Hey gamers, what the f— happened?” 

“Blame Heather and Peyton, they broke character.” Ballinae said. 

“Now, now, don’t blame Heather, she has a lot to work on. And Peyton’s been… dealt with. I think she’ll get the chance to finally prove herself again. But that’s honestly not what I called this meeting here to discuss. We looked through Edward Emily’s backpack after this incident and found a card for a company known as Ouranatox. Bal, did you bring me the records I asked you for?” 

Ballinae slid the papers forward, “Ouranatox is a corporate entity reportedly responsible for the funding of,” she pressed play on the projector, the logos flashing with each company’s name. 

“EduFun, owner of FunTime, Extreme.Fun, and the new monitoring program, A-Gus, as well as the now iconic Rib-B-Q sandwiches.” 

“A Nerf Bow rip off with over fifty lawsuits under its belt, Zerf Tech.” 

“A chain of Karate dojos that runs primarily East of the Mississippi River, Debbie Don’s Dance Dojo.

“A chain of thrift store convenient store hybrids, Qwikpicks.” 

“The Aesir Program of Wheeler Academy.

“And the most strange of it all, Caesar Middle School and The OrigOlympus Program.” 

“So the question is…” I began, “What exactly is Angela Emily hiding from all of us?” 

Join the conversation by leaving a comment!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: