Cat's Meow

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artymon I\/
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Cat's Meow

Post by artymon I\/ » Thu 23rd May 2019

Rating: M+

Content: Adult content, featuring intense exposure to sequences of high octane volleyball displays....and implications of physical abuse

Category: Romance, horror(?), features non Artemis Fowl characters....least as far as you know ;)

So yeah, this is another one that may offend. I have another part in my head which I may eventually write (I know, I say that all the time :eyeroll: )
Kinda just got bogged down, I have two other 'full time' stories I'm working, technically three...
But I could easily see this as its own fully fleshed thing. Anyway...

Enjoy!

~~

If either had been forewarned at this juncture of how drastically their lives were about to be changed, it was difficult to tell if either would change anything.
It had started, as the cliché goes, as an entirely normal, average day.

She’d had the dream again.
The feral beast.
It started with the sounds. Sounds that chilled her and made her toss and wrestle with her blankets. To her unconscious mind, the binding blankets were interpreted as a straitjacket, fastening her, trapping her.
Thus, all she could do was wriggle helplessly as she heard the snarls and growls. They had a wet sound, as though already salivating at the prospect of devouring her.
She knew it wouldn’t just be that. The monster eating her.
It was something deeper the monster was gnawing at.
By this point, she usually began to realize it was a dream and attempted to drag herself back from the briny depths and shadowy recesses of her mind.
The beast senses her trying to leave. Somehow, someway, they’re connected.
It doesn’t want her to leave. Thus, it’s forced to press its hand and charge toward her.
Nails click across the ground. Nails that were wickedly curved, all the better to pierce and slice and gouge her, to penetrate and suck the soul from her.
Because that’s what it wanted, wasn’t it? Her soul, her being, her essence of life.
With a will, she herself claws away from the dream, ripping sheets and blankets off her, shedding the entrappings, aiding to shatter the illusion and icy grip of the dream.
Sometimes she wasn’t quick enough and managed to catch a cursory look at the beast.
Nothing more than an outline, really.
A mangy devil with matted hair.
Rarely, she caught a fleck of an eyeshine.
And then next she was aware, she was awake in bed, doused in a sheen of sweat that left her feeling uncomfortable in more than one way.
For, the dream was only a side effect of what already was transpiring…
In all events, her response had been the same.

The beach invite had been something of a surprise.
After the Pizzazium Infinionite peril, most had given him a wide berth for fear of their eyebrows autonomously combusting.
But Nick was more than happy to have an excuse to go to the beach. The sun, the surf, the succulent floss string bikinis, what more of an excuse did he need?
Well, a little hand-eye coordination mightn’t be a bad thing…

She had been coming here more often. The waves, the blue and white and dash of green...cascading and rolling...it was a good metaphor for her life. Stabilized chaos. Expected chaos.
She shivered.
Was this what her life was? She dreaded the night. What it brought. Who.
She knew how it would go. She'd be in her room, door closed. She'd lock it if she could.
There would be a knock at the door. She'd burrow under the covers, praying he'd just go away.
He never did.
Instead, the door creaks open, allowing a harsh shaft of light to fall on her bed, a shock of dark hair facing him.
Maybe he'd take the hint. Maybe he'd believe it. Believe she was fast asleep.
Softly, he calls her name.
Softly.
Soft enough...even if she was asleep, he wouldn't want her to hear him. The dark fog of unconsciousness leaves less objections to be found.
If she'd didn't respond, he'd come inside anyway.
Attempting to appear groggy, she rolls, protectively clutching her blankets, as though they were a shield, a force field barrier.
"What?" she timidly asks, intentionally inserting a minor slur in her voice.
"I'm kinda sore, can you rub my shoulders?"
That was how it always started.
Her heart thudded. Fear, anxiety.
He feigned a soreness, then once cured, he'd insist on repaying the favor and...massage her.
She was too scared to call him out. To tell her mother. They would just blame her. She must have lead him on or misunderstood...
Her mother might believe her...but would she leave his father? Could she leave him? They had barely been surviving until Mother had met him.
Feverishly, she pushed these thoughts aside.
She didn’t want to think of it.
Of them.
That wasn’t why she had come to the beach.
She had come because
(she was afraid her mother wouldn’t leave)
she needed the waves calming rhythm to help her paint.
Only in her art did she find some semblance of escape.
Entire worlds were created from her fingertips. It was easy for her to imagine herself as any one of the people she drew about. Sometimes people were the subject of her work, general snapshots of life. Other paintings and drawings consisted of scenery.
Today, she was painting. A bold move, yes. But she had been trying for ages to find and blend the perfect colours to simulate the ocean. Phone pictures simply didn’t cut it. They were pleasant and all, but somehow failed to capture the pure majesty of the ocean in all its natural glory.
Plus the fresh air was nice...
(not to mention he’s at the house…)
Cursing her inner demon for thinking it, but now that she had broached it, it occurred to her, the verbage used – house, not home – was curious.
It implied she didn’t feel at home there. It didn’t feel like one.
A fleck of movement from the corner of her eye over the ocean captures her attention. A bird that’s found something tasty.
Watching the bird, she wonders what it would be like to have the bird’s power.
To be free, float the sea, then fly away, whenever she wanted to.
No constraints, no one weighing her down. Just her and independence.
Checking back at the painting, she frowns, sensing it’s missing something. For a moment, a vast ship superimposes itself over her vision and the painting.
It’s a grand vessel, one we’re quite familiar with, even if she isn’t. Yet.
She hadn’t intended on including anything beyond the ocean, but the vision is rather compelling….
The poor lass never even saw the ball flying at her until it was too late.

What started as a ‘friendly game’ of volleyball had escalated with unsurprising rapidness to an all-out, take no losers, knock ‘em out, drag ‘em out match.
Spectacular dives and incredible coordinated counters egged each other on until Nick was certain he had unwittingly been invited to participate in an Olympic level tournament that was secretly being recorded from palm trees and coconuts.
Pah-ting!
Mason served the ball over to the opposing team.
As if this had been rehearsed for the past nine weeks, the other team perfectly countered the ball, from Glen to Trisha to Conor who made an amazing leap up to spike the ball.
Tutting, Nick’s team surrendered the ball to the opposite side and prepared for the coming onslaught.
The ball sailed high through the air.
Tracking and judging, Nick and his team shifted their position to meet the ball…until they saw it had risen too high and was being propelled too fast.
Heedless, Nick took a step back, certain he could smack it.
“Leave it!” Jerrod shouted. “It’ll be out of bounds.”
Unconvinced, Nick took another tentative step back, hoping for a chance to score a miraculous point. Everyone else had made some wild saves, why couldn’t he?
Alas it wasn’t meant to be, the ball sailed just past his fingertips and hit the sand hard, bouncing a good five to six feet up and away from the game area…casting a trajectory towards a girl sitting on a beach towel, laboring on a canvas of some sort.
In a panic, Nick desperately raced after the ball, hoping to somehow catch it before –
Thunk!
The ball didn’t directly score a hit against the girl; it had impacted right on the edge of the sand and her towel, jostling her knee and casting up a spray of sand.
In lieu of the Pizzazium Infinionite pandemonium, Nick had begun to feel intrinsically responsible for all chaos that happened in his vicinity.
This was no different, despite not even touching the ball, he felt guilty, as though he should have found a way to prevent this.
“I’m so sorry,” he gasped, racing forward. “Are you okay?”
Startled and still processing, the girl couldn’t have appeared more bewildered if a bull broke into her bedroom and brazenly battled her with a banjo competition.
“I think so,” she nodded.
Wiping sand off her legs and arms, she squinted up at her interloper.
The overhead sun blotted his features in a manly silhouette, but she caught a look at a few jagged locks of his hair that had fallen from a nauseatingly boring bun.
For a moment, something briefly resonated in her, briefer than a brilliant camera flash.
But it was gone before she fully had a chance to realize it, must be the sun.
She was eerily chill about being assaulted by a volleyball, in Nick’s opinion.
Either she’s accustomed to such displays of beach accessories raining down on her like locusts in a plague, or she’s bigger things on her mind.
Like that canvas she’d been working on.
Spying a tried and true, trusty and dusty cardboard box of paints and brushes, a look of horror comes over him, as he considers if her project has somehow been ruined.
“What about your drawing? Is it okay? I’m so so sorry,” he repeated.
That’s a painting, genius, he mentally corrected himself. Not a drawing.
Out of context, this may have sounded like an insult, but the sincerity in his voice and wide eyes convinced her otherwise. Lucky for him.
His fingers formed a web over his mouth, fearful of spewing further verbal diarrhea.
“Painting actually,” she kindly corrected, “and no, it…wasn’t that special.”
He grimaced. It was actually a beautiful duplicate of the ocean before them. The paint even seemed to curl and swim before his eyes.
“If that’s just average, I’m not sure I could handle what you consider special,” he mentioned, striving to sound halfway cool and complimentary.
The girl shrugged, her eyes darting to a ruffled looking sketchbook.
“You’d be surprised.”
“Still, the sand sort of gives it an authentic look,” Nick commented, angling his head at the painting.
She considered it and nodded, a small smile spreading.
“Yeah, I guess so. Definitely adds a texture depth.”
The smile was warm and seemed to bath her face in an ethereal glow.
“I know you,” he vaguely realized, feeling dense. “You go to school over at Yensid, right?”
She nodded.
“Yeah, I transferred over about four months ago. From Belleville.”
“Cool. I’m Nick by the way. And you’re…Elizabeth?”
“Lisbeth,” said Lisbeth.
“No Eh?” Nick asked, intrigued.
“No Eh,” she confirmed. “Just Lisbeth.” Already a ting of annoyance surged as she predicted his next line…
What, have you got something against vowels?
Which, technically, it wouldn’t be her that had elected to drop the E, that was on her parents. What atrocities the letter E had committed against Lis’s parents was a mystery to her.
But Nick surprised her.
Thoughtfully, he nodded.
“Hm…Lisbeth, that’s kinda cool.”
“Thanks,” she said, absolutely thrilled to have netted his approval of her fairly normal name. “I’ve definitely heard you before, by the way.”
Not ‘heard of’, Nick noted. That couldn’t be a good sign.
“Oh?”
“Usually in form of explosions and screams.”
“Ah.”
Awkwardly, he scratched the back of his neck, trying to fox his dastardly smirk. At least it’s nice to be infamous.
“….Actually, I sit at your desk in fifth period,” Lis confessed. “Apparently, you’re the reason why we can’t have nice things. Like desks without burns on them.”
Abashed, Nick sheepishly shrugs, sprouting a wide grin.
“At least the desks look more interesting now. They have depth, character.”
To his defense, he sounded like he believed the minutiae he was attempting to sell.
“Is that what you call it?”
But what Nick would call it is unknown as at that moment, patience tested, his team calls back to him.
“Oi! Are you still playing or what?”
Whipping around, Nick saw his team and the others making foot-tapping motions with hands on hips to display their impatience.
Nodding, he waved them off.
“I’ll be there in a second!”
Then as an afterthought, “Here!”
Tossing the ball over to them, he turned back to Lis.
Awkwardly, he tried to cobble something smooth together, eager to stay in this girl’s presence. There was something plain cool about her.
His eyes wander over her art supply box and onto her ruffled notebook. Questioningly, he cocks an eye from the book to Lis.
Immediately catching wind, she turns a bright shade of red, cheeks burning with self-conscious fears.
“Oh…that…that’s my sketchbook,” she explains, nearly tripping over her words.
“Oh? May I?”
Without waiting for a response (and presumably before she could promptly object), Nick had bent and scooped the book up, leafing through pages.
She objected anyway.
“Excuse you!”
But he was already engrossed by her work.
Inside was a menagerie of myriad morbid and miraculous images. Sketches of landscapes, of animals, of buildings and people popped out to greet him. One was a page of eyeballs, another of lip and mouth shapes, one for noses.
There was one sketch of an expansive field, it reminded him of back when he lived in the country. Just above the field was what looked a few dozen asterisks dotted about. They were too low to be stars, weren’t they?
“What’s this one?” he politely inquired, tilting the book to her.
A moment ago, vexed nigh to hostile (translation: Ready to bash his brains in and bury what’s left in the ocean for daring to intrude upon her private work), Lis had now attained a subdued, fretful stance, wringing her fingers.
Cautiously, she peeked at the particular drawing, praying it wasn’t one of the nudes.
“Oh…” She felt her face grow hot. “It’s…fireflies.”
Reluctantly caving, she takes the book from him and flips past a few pages to a colored version of the black and white sketch.
Eagerly, Nick’s eyes eat the delicious display, soaking in the hues and shades of black and purple and blue used to convey the night sky, dotted with a few white stars.
The main focus was the fireflies that glowed a radioactive green, of a private fallout. The light green shading lent a vague underwater vibe.
Tentatively, Lis checks from her drawing to his face, seeking to infer his thoughts.
“I like it,” he said, unable to fully express how simply looking at the sketch seemed to transport him to the countryside, where city pollution was nonexistent, where he could hear creatures of the night whispering through chirps, howls, and hoots.
“I’ve never actually seen fireflies,” Lis explained.
“No?”
Taking his eyes from the page, he examined her. She had a mixed posture about her, a fretful, worried look and small mannerisms like playing with her hands that indicated a nervousness of having someone look at and judge her work.
But her stance was strong, her feet firmly planted and body evenly distributed, ready to deck him if he so much issued a single crooked comment against her work.
A flash of her eyes made him smile.
Green. Just like the fireflies. Well. A few shades darker. But he found he liked that.
“Never had the chance,” she said.
Nick nods.
“Yeah, mostly you’ll see more fireflies back East…but I’ve heard there’s a few ‘secret’ spots here and there where you can find them.”
Her eyes attained a hungry mist.
“Oh? Where?”
He shook his head.
“The scientists are paranoid…they don’t like sharing much….so what’s this one?”
He had flipped back a few pages, to one he had only glimpsed as she shuffled to the color one.
It was a rough black and white sketch of the creature that haunted her dreams.
Her other nocturnal visitor.
Vehemently, she snatched the book back and snapped it closed.
“Nothing.”
Puzzled at the sudden shift in persona, from open and friendly to closed and cut off, Nick was perturbed.
“Doesn’t look like nothing,” he persisted.
A look flashed through Lis’s eyes. An acid, biting, venomous look. One that threatened to poison and burn and damage him if he continued down this path. It was only for a Planck or two, but it produced the desired results of getting Nick to back down.
The reaction hadn’t wholly been Lis’s, it was almost as if another sentient being inside Lis sensed her discomfort and took action.
“Just a sketch. It’s not finished. If you don’t mind…”

Both went home that night thinking of the other.
As Lis lay in bed (thankfully undisturbed as he had gone out for the night), her thoughts turned back to the beach guy. Nick. He had seemed alright, in an innocent puppy sort of way.
Hard to believe the subdued guy was the same one behind the Pizzazzium Infinionite panic from a few weeks ago.
As sleep edged through her and ate away her rational thoughts, only a sole thought remained, more of an image really…that wild tangle of Nick’s hair…respectfully contained…but eager to run loose….
It inferred a primal edge. Like an animal of some sort. But she wasn’t of full capability to puzzle it now…
Drifting, he entered her thoughts. The mercy of being physically spared him apparently wasn’t good enough for her subconscious and it had decided to subject her to a greatest hits playback.
The usual clichés zipped across her dream drenched mind.
….can I come in…
…go away…
…please, it’s okay, I won’t tell anyone…
…no…I don’t want…
His touch felt like fire. And not a pleasant, toasting marshmallows over the open flame with friends fire. A burning building that left her scarred and scalded. Unclean. Diseased. As if his very touch infected her and each point of contact burned with contamination.
Naturally, a dream of this nature was not her favorite and she did her best to attempt a forced wakening, tossing and turning. This only served to wrap her up like a mummy.
Or a straitjacket.
It was at this point she heard the noises again.
The howls and snarls and guttural growls.
She froze, recognizing that sound.
He didn’t, preferring to continue along.
His hot breath fell on her face and their eyes met. She caught a gleam of something nasty and unholy in his eyes.
A Need.
An unnatural and unwanted Need.
Thankfully, she was wrapped up tight in her blanket-straitjacket, no way for him to –
The scene melted, first with her legs, the blankets silently split and the severed material slithered down her legs like snakes, affixing each end around an ankle and a corner of her bed, lewdly splaying her legs in preparation of his Need.
No, no no nononono, please god no…
Behind, the noises grew louder and she could see a faint sweep of elegant movement.
To hell, she’d take being devoured over this.
She tried screaming, tried struggling and wrenching herself free…
Some small part of her was vaguely aware it was a dream, a nightmare of her darkest brand, but it wasn’t enough to break the spell. It was as if her subconscious wanted to see it through.
He ripped at the upper half of her blanket and the anthropomorphic bedding followed suit with the lower half, tying her wrists back, leaving her exposed and unguarded from what was sure to follow.
With a sly grin, he stretched a hand out, caressing her face. This time she was almost certain she felt her skin hiss with sickening sound of burning flesh. Like a demon touching iron.
Was she a demon? Did she maybe deserve this?
Was this hell? Was this her punishment from another life some millennia ago since wiped away from her memory like dirt off a kitchen counter?
Drawing his hand down her, more seared skin objected to this intrusion, this violation of her body.
She twisted her head, feeling the chords in her voice growing raw as she screamed and pleaded for help, despite the lack of sound.
Then it happened.
With lightning speed, the shadowy beast from beyond lunged forward, pouncing on him, knocking him off.
Amazed, Lis turned, craning her neck in time to watch the beast roll him on his back. The beast raised a massive paw loaded with wicked claws and rake his spine.
He howled in horror and pain, unaccustomed to being subjected to such unpleasantries.
She heard his screams and cries of terror, echoing her only moments ago.
Vainly, he tried standing and running, but the beast was too much for him, too heavy and the beast ripped and tore at him, utilizing a decadent set of long, curved teeth, knocking him back to the ground.
Standing with a paw atop him, the lion roared.
It was a powerful roar.
technically louder than a real lion….her subconscious nitpicked.
But it was a lion, there was no mistaking that majestic mane of hair. That majestic mane that was oddly familiar.
The lion’s roar echoed and reverberated throughout her, filling her with a rippling sense of comfort.
It’s okay he can’t hurt you, it said.
Beneath the lion, he tried squirming and wriggling.
Like a snake. And even then, that was an insult to the slithering reptile.
Quickly, the lion batted at him again, this time opening its massive mouth and bearing down on his neck.
Finally, he was still.
Satisfied, the lion leapt off him…and rounded on Lis, aiming his blazing amber eyes at her.
A strange new exhilarated terror ran through her.
Was she next on the lion’s menu?
As though it were equally uncertain, it started pacing back and forth in front of her, occasionally regarding Lis with a few chuffs, shaking it huge head.
You’re better than this, stronger than this, it seemed to say.
Halting its pace, it lunged atop her bed with an artful grace and deathly silence.
Now her heart beat faster again.
I’ve traded one tormentor for another, she grimly thought.
The lion stood over her, a giant specimen. She knew her mind was exaggerating, but he filled her entire vision.
Lions are lazy by nature…pack hunters usually…
Leaning down, the lion opened his jaws.
He’s going to go for the neck, go for the neck and squeeze the life out of me.
She closed her eyes.
Soft fur brushed against her face and on risking an eye open, she saw only more tan fur, a whole veritable wall of it, the lion was above off to the side. What was he…?
Tension released on her wrist, then the lion shifted and nipped off the other tie.
Chuffing again, the lion pressed its nose against her cheek, where a soothing calmness immediately radiated out from her, counterattacking the venomous bout his touched had induced.
Turning, the lion padded to free her legs and pounced off, retreating back to the shadowy recesses of her subconscious, a jagged mane that resembled black knifes the only suggestion of his waning presence.
“Wait…” Lis had gone on all fours, fully prepared to clamber off and chase the lion-beast….only she wasn’t sure if she stepped off the bed she might fall into an eternal plunge.
Pitch blackness surrounded her like an optic opposite of a blizzard.
I’m starting to wake up, she realized, cursing herself at that instant. Why did dreams always seem to leave off on cliffhangers?
With a physical force, Lis felt as she wrenched herself awake, violently rolling over, nearly falling out of her bed.
For a few minutes, she lay there panting in a heap of pillows and blankets, mussed and damp with sweat. She tried piecing together the dream and recreating it before it faded from memory.
The lion. Her savior.
Was he?
Savior or another sadist?
The image was prominent in her mind’s eye.
The vast creature lunging from the shadows. Raising a paw that was easily as big as her head. Long teeth, sharpened through evolution. Yet it had such a delicate touch. An elegance and grace of its own.
Snapping on a lamp by her bedside, she stretched an arm out to her art bag. Normally it was the home of her sketchbook and several colored pencils, a ruler, an eraser, a few lead pencils, a few crayons stolen from various restaurants for their unique but pleasant color, and a few other odds and ends.
Finding the nefarious bag just out of reach, she narrows her eyes at the bag, suspecting it had silently moved from her grasp of its own accord just to displease her.
Resignedly, she quickly hops out of bed, grabs the bag, then jumps back in, striving to make as little sound as possible.
Cautiously, she casts an eye at her door, shut tightly….but that was a security less assuring than Kevin McCallister’s Home Defense System.
But all was still and she set to work, flipping to the page of the creature, studying it. Her eyes disappear behind her eyelids, straining to recall the fading images.
Then she flips to a new page and starts sketching, her pencil making wide marks, outlining a rough animal head, then a jagged mane.
Image Image
The last step in any journey may be the first step of an even greater adventure.
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