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06-12-24 11:22 AM
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Xeogaming Forums - Muses' Sanctuary - Halloween Story Competition: Déjà Vu
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Interesting... didn't see that coming at the end
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“Okay, uhh...damn, can’t say’s...OH! Girls masturbate with a vibrating blank head!” Connor shouts excitedly.

His exclamation is met with a mere moment of blank stares from Zack, Julian, and Ty, before they break into a confused fit of hysterical laughter. Connor stares at them, perplexed, wondering what about the clue was so funny.

“What the hell are you laughing at?” he says. They don't answer, still stuck in their hilarity. “Come on Zack, time’s running out!” He looks down in desperation at the Taboo card in front of him, trying frantically to find a way to break through Zack’s laughter and get him to say the word “shower” without using any of the five forbidden words before the last tiny specks of sand fall to the bottom of the hourglass. He shakes his head, giving up, and watches the time run out on their round, disappointed in his partner.

“Connor...what the hell?!” Julian gasps through the laughter. Connor looks at the three of them. Ty is howling with laughter on the couch, his pirate hat now on the floor. Zack is rolling around on the floor, tears of laughter still streaming down his face as they mix with mascara, the fake breasts in his disturbingly revealing dress heaving with each laugh. Julian is staring through a Barack Obama mask, nonplussed, at Connor, still laughing but curious for an answer.

“The word was shower!” Connor shouts, annoyed. This sends them into another fit of laughter, and Connor rolls his eyes and watches some poor comedian get sympathy laughs from the audience on Comedy Central until his friends have calmed down.

“Shower?! How?!” Zack asks, once he can talk again.

“Haven’t you ever seen The 40 Year Old Virgin?” Connor says, annoyed.

“THAT was the best thing you could think of for shower?!” Zack inquires, laughing again.

“Whatever. We got two points that round. Let’s just get on with the game,” Connor mutters.

“Come on man, lighten up, it’s Halloween. We’re trying to cheer you up here, you don’t have to be so pissy about it,” Ty says.

“And I told you before I even came here that cheering me up is something that is probably not going to happen tonight. You don’t just bounce back from being found on the roof of your dorm room with a suicide note from one night of hanging out with your friends, in case that didn’t occur to you guys,” Connor says harshly. They look at him, obviously hurt and offended. “Look, guys, I know you’re trying your best, and I appreciate it,’s just probably not going to happen.”

An awkward silence follows this ominous proclamation, and Connor looks at the clock. 3:23 a.m.

“Jesus, it’s late. I gotta run, guys,” he murmurs, distracted. “I’ve got a meeting with that fucking shrink at 9 a.m. tomorrow...err, today, I guess.”

“You sure you don’t just wanna crash here, dude? It could be just like summer again. Ty and Zack are staying over,” Julian offers.

“Yeah, I’m good. Thanks though, man. I’ll see you guys later.” The group says a chorus of goodbyes to Connor as he heads to the door, and as he turns the knob, he hears his friends talking.

“So I can go upstairs to sleep if you want the couch, Zack,” he hears Julian say.

“Nah, it’s cool. I’ll just sleep on the floor. I can sleep pretty much anywhere,” Zack laughs.

“Whoa,” Connor says, turning around.

“What’s up?” Ty asks him, seeing the pensive look on Connor’s face.

“I just had major déjà vu, man,” he says, looking at the ground.

“Oh?” questions Zack, intrigued.

“Yeah. That little back-and-forth there between you and Julian, about you sleeping anywhere...I swear, I’ve heard that exact conversation before...”

“I don’t think so. We’ve never slept in the same place before, Connor,” Zack says, confused.

“Well, yeah, I know, but...I dunno. I’m just over-thinking things, probably. Déjà vu has just always freaked me out a little, I dunno why,” he mutters. “Alright, I’ll talk to you guys tomorrow.” He turns the knob the rest of the way and walks outside into the crisp October night. He pulls his cape close around his slim body, trying in vain to gain just a little bit of warmth to combat the biting cold of the autumn wind blowing his long brown hair around. He walks briskly down the calm suburban street, the only noise coming from the soft thud of his sneakers on the pavement, the crunching of the occasional brightly colored leaf under his feet, and the rustling of dying fall trees in the cool breeze.

He reaches Main Street and turns right, headed home. Scanning his surroundings, he notes several familiar landmarks; the dim glow of an all-night diner, several bulbs around the sign blown out. There’s a CVS on the corner, the lights still on despite being obviously closed. A gas station at the corner stands empty, looking strange without the normal hustle-and-bustle of aggravated workers that come here rather than the Sunoco down the street in a vain attempt to save those extra two cents per gallon.

He’s seen all of these sights many times before, walking the half-mile home from Julian’s house as he did most nights during this past summer. The counselor at his college thought that coming home and seeing his old friends for the weekend might renew Connor’s sense of self-preservation, and might give him a desire to live. It was also convenient that the counselor just happened to know a very esteemed psychiatrist that just happened to be located in the area. Connor thought it may help too; he had formed a very close bond with Ty, Julian, and Zack over the summer, and figured that the memories would be good for him.

Needless to say, he realized how wrong this was shortly into the night. He didn’t blame them for acting different; it’s natural to be a bit weird after finding out that one of your best friends had recently tried to kill himself. But that didn’t make the pain of disappointment any less.

Connor was so caught up in his own thoughts that he almost missed it. It was a quick flash, but it caught his eye. The sign of the diner had changed. Normally, it is defective and worn-looking, but this was different. It was crumbling and shattered, only half the letters actually still on the sign. Fire surrounded the sign and the diner itself, and a few short shrieks could be heard. Connor quickly glanced ahead, and his breath caught in his throat when he saw that something similar had happened at the CVS. The sign was completely knocked down here, and the building itself had been reduced to smoldering ruins. As his gaze swept around, he saw the whole world on fire, in a state of utter turmoil. Then, as suddenly as the vision of horror appeared, it was gone. The diner went back to being shabby but hospitable. The CVS was once again wasting electric, but was still standing and ash-free. In his confusion and preoccupation, he didn’t notice the stranger that had crept up behind him.

“Quite a sight, isn’t it?” wheezed the stranger.

Connor jumped in alarm, and turned around. Behind him, he saw a man in the most realistic, most disgustingly ugly Halloween mask that he had ever laid eyes on. The skin of the mask was purple and cracked, looking very much like a large, decrepit, raisin. Its mouth was a jagged gash near the jaw of the mask, and the nose was merely two holes positioned disproportionately above the mouth. Its large, almond-shaped eyes were pitch black, and lacked any hair at all. It was tight against the man’s head, and Connor wondered why he would wear such an obviously uncomfortable mask. The man was also wearing a pure black cloak that covers the rest of his extremities. Finally finding his voice, Connor spoke to the man.

“Jesus, you scared the hell out of me. Nice mask, dude.”

“I’m sorry...mask?” the man asks in a very dry voice, sounding perplexed.

“Yeah. It looks crazy uncomfortable, but it gets the job done. I almost pissed my pants.”

“I don’t think I understand what you’re saying.”

“Yeah, good one,” Connor laughs. “But said ‘quite a sight’. Did you see it too? With the signs of the diner and the CVS, and the fire and stuff? And...the screams?”

“See them? Foolish boy, I was the one who showed you them!” the man croaks.

“Showed me...what?” Connor sputters, taking his turn to be confused.

“Connor, my name is Mara. I’m...not of this world, you could say. And I’m here to show you the truth.”

“The truth? And what’s that?”

“That the world that you think you know is a lie.”

“Oh, okay man. Whatever you say. Look, it’s late, and I have an appointment in the morning, so I really gotta get home,” Connor says evasively, and starts to walk away from Mara. Mara extends a rotting, wrinkled purple hand and grabs Connor’s arm, pulling him back. Connor is surprised at the smaller man’s strength, and jumps back in disgust upon seeing that the man’s hand is made of the same strange material as his mask.

“I can’t just let you walk away like this, Connor,” Mara utters quietly.

“Okay, first of all, how the fuck do you know my name? Second of all, you don’t get to say when I can and can’t walk away, so you better spill how you know who I am before you piss me off even more than you already have,” Connor growls, agitated.

“I know your name because we have been watching you. We know a lot about you, Connor. We know that eleven days ago, the girl that you’ve been dating for close to four years left you. We know that in the following days, you struggled with severe heartbreak and depression, aided along by the fact that you’ve been steadily losing all of your friends and doing extremely poorly in school. We know that you tried alcohol to fill the void, and failed. And we know that all of this culminated in your suicide attempt two nights ago.”

“Okay, you fucking creep, have you been stalking me or something? And who the hell is ‘we’?”

“We are The Enlightened.”

“What the hell is that? Some kind of cult or something?”

“Not exactly, my friend. You see, as I’ve said, the world that you know is not the true nature of the world. This is just a fabrication, created by your mind, to cover up the truth.”

“What are you trying to tell me, that this is some kind of Matrix bullshit? That my body is lying in a field somewhere, and I’m plugged into a computer program?”

“No, not quite. This is more comparable to, but still not quite exactly described by, the Brain In A Vat story by John Pollock. I believe you studied the story in your freshman philosophy class at university, did you not?”

“Yeah, I did. So you’re telling me that I’m just a brain floating in some tank right now, hooked up to an electron computer, and that everything around me are just images being fed to me by some crazy, fucked up scientist?”

“Understand, Connor, that I did say ‘not exactly’. Your mind, as have the minds of your friends and family, have created this world together. It is not the creation of a devil, nor is it some kind of computer program; this is what humanity has made for itself. In reality, in the true world, you are a shell. You go through the motions of your daily life with no emotion, with no soul. You do the work that you are told to do, and when you’re not working, you’re resting.”

“But why?”

“Because people are never satisfied with what they have, and always want something better.”

“I still don’t buy it. If I’ve created this world, then why is it so awful?”

“Because some part of you knows the truth. Some unconscious part of your mind knows the true nature of the real world, and as such, you can’t allow yourself any happiness in this one. Many have this subconscious knowledge, and it is why so many people’s lives are so miserable in your world. But few have that knowledge so close to their conscious being as you, which is why yours is so much worse. You’ve been chosen, as few others have been, to be Enlightened.”

“I still don’t believe any of this. But why me?”

“As I’ve said, you are closer to the truth than the majority of the populous. You proved that tonight, when you experienced what you referred to as ‘déjà vu’ tonight was proof of that. You said it freaks you out, as you say, did you not?”

“Yeah. So?”

“It freaks you out because you understand it more than others. You understand that there is something wrong about it, where others just think that it’s a strange occurence. Have you worked out yet why déjà vu happens, Connor?”

“By your ridiculous logic, I think so.”

“Why do you think it does, then?”

“Because, according to you, my mind is creating all of the events that happen to me, right?”

“Yes. Go on.”

“Well, if that was the mind would already, in some form, be aware of everything that was going to happen. Déjà vu would just be my mind recognizing its own creation...right?”

“As right as an explanation of such a complicated concept can be, yes. Your mind thinks that you’ve experienced something before, not because you have, but because it is the very making of your mind. It is the knowledge of the event that you’re feeling, not experience. Does that make sense, Connor?”

“Yeah, it makes sense. But all of this is still just a load of crap. You really expect me to believe this?”

“Of course I do. It is the truth, and part of you knows this.”

“Okay, say I do believe you. Why are you telling me?”

“Because, Connor, I can awaken you from this world. I can make the deepest knowings of your subconscious be present in your conscious awareness. I can make the delusion of this world melt away, and allow you to live life in the true world.”

“Yeah, I figured you would say that,” Connor sneered. “But here’s the $64,000 question, Mara...why the fuck would I ever want to go to a world bathed in fire and filled with mindless zombies?”

“And I, young Connor, figured that you would say that. The answer is simple. Deep in the heart of the world, the real world, there is a city. This city is as close to paradise as exists. Don’t misunderstand me; it is not heaven. This is the real world, and you live out a normal lifespan in it. I do not know what happens after one dies in the real world, so do not ask me. However, in this city reside only those who have been Enlightened, as I have; and as you can be, if you so desire. This city is dressed in gold and diamonds, and has everything you could ever want in it. The intellectual capability to surpass the naturally placed inhibitions of one’s mind is rewarded in the real world, through entrance to and residence in this city. This is what I’m offering you.”

“Well that sounds great and all, but you’re totally full of shit, so I’m just gonna go home now.”

“Why do you refuse to believe me, Connor?”

“Because it’s a lie. You’re not some messenger from the real world. You’re just some freak in a mask trying to fuck with kids on Halloween.”

“This is not a mask, Connor. This is my visage in this world.”

“Bullshit!” Connor screams, and reaches for the man’s face. He tears at the skin around his neck, looking for where the mask ends. He can’t find the end of the mask, and peers down his cloak; the strange purple skin covers his whole body! Tiring of the game, Connor removes a small, very sharp switchblade from his pocket. He slashes at the weird skin on Mara’s hand, and, much to his shock, draws blood. Blue blood.

“What the fuck?!” Connor screams, taking a few swift steps backwards.

“I told you, Connor, it is not a mask or a costume. See for yourself.” Mara closes the gap between himself and Connor, and spreads apart the deep wound made by Connor’s knife. Inside, Connor sees slashed veins and bone, but no sign of any human skin.

“Jesus Christ!” Connor screams. “If that is really your skin, why the fuck did you let me cut you?!”

“Because I can’t feel pain in this place. It is a world created by the minds of those who have not been Enlightened; nothing can harm me here, because being Enlightened, I understand that none of this is real. Therefore, you can continue to cut me wherever you’d like, it will neither hurt nor harm me.”

“So wait... if you’re Enlightened or whatever, how can you get back here? I mean, this is a place created in our minds, so once you’re like awake or whatever, wouldn’t you be stuck in the ‘real’,” Connor says, putting air quotes around “real”, “world? Like, for good?”

“You’re cleverer than I anticipated, my young friend. However, no. This world existed in my mind, just as it does now in yours. When I became Enlightened, I retained the knowledge of this world, allowing me to visit it at will. I don’t often wish to do so. The city of the Enlightened in the real world is a wondrous place, much preferable to this fake world.”

“Then why are you here?”

“To recruit you, of course.”

“But wait. If everyone has this knowledge of the real world in the back of their mind, why don’t you just tell everyone about the real world?”

“Because do you think the masses would believe an ugly, demented-looking creature telling them that their world is false, and proposing that the real world is a wreck of a world, inhabited mostly by soulless zombies?”

“I guess you’re right. But you knew I’d believe it because...”

“Because you’re close to the knowledge already. One of us comes to recruit all of those who get as close to the truth as you do. Also, was that your subtle way of conceding that you believe what I have told you?”

“No. I mean, yes. I’s kind of hard to argue with the proof that you’ve shown me...” Connor trails off, lost in his own whirring mind.

“Then come with me, Connor. Step into reality.”

“What you look that how people look in the real world?”

“No, it is not. I’m actually quite the handsome fellow, if I do say so myself. The appearance of human beings is one thing that did not change between this world and the real world. Humans look like humans, not like...this,” Mara says, gesturing disgustedly at his cracked, purple skin.

“Then why do you look like this?”

“Because this world is essentially dead in my mind. I can’t return to it with my normal appearance, since I know it is a fake. Since this world is a hell to me, it’s only fitting that my mind projects the image of a demon,” Mara growls bitterly, causing Connor to let out a short bark of laughter.

“So...if I go with you...I get to live in this paradise city kinda thing? Grass is green and the girl’s are pretty, that whole deal?”

“To put it bluntly, yes. There is more to it than that, of course, but to describe it as a paradise wouldn’t be incorrect. And the females are quite attractive, if you were hoping to gleam some information about that,” Mara supplies, grinning crookedly.

“Definitely a plus,” Connor chuckles. “I’m still not sure, though...”

“Why?” Mara inquires. “What do you have in this world worth staying for? A girlfriend who broke your heart? Friends who have deserted you or treat you differently? Failing grades, unsupportive parents?” he finishes harshly.

Connor is hurt by Mara’s cruel comments, but weighs their value. He is, indeed, fed up with everything here. It’d be nice to be in a world without Christine, the bitch that broke his heart after almost four years. Paradise sounds pretty good compared to what he’s been stuck with these days. Still, it’d hurt to leave behind Ty, Julian, and Zack.

“Can I go tell my friends, before we go? They’re bright, I can convince them of the truth too!”

“Connor, be reasonable. Think about what would happen to them if you went there. In your current condition, if you told them that a purple-skinned demonoid man has told you that this world is a lie, and that you’re going to go with him to the real world, what would they do?”

“They’d have me committed now, instead of waiting ‘til tomorrow morning...” Connor mutters despairingly.

“Precisely. Are friends that wouldn’t have faith in you in times like this even worth staying behind for?”

“, I guess they’re not. Okay, let’s go. Let’s do it. I’ll go with you,” Connor says determinedly, holding his head high.

“You’re completely sure that this is the decision you want to make?” Mara asks him.

“Yes. How is it done?”

“Well, it it’s a relatively simple process. To allow your mind to fully relinquish its grip on this world, you have to do one very simple thing.”

“What’s that?”

“You are 100% positive that this is the choice that you are making. You have no doubts at all?”

“Yes. No doubts,” Connor says strongly, still standing tall. “Now what do I have to do?”

“You have to die,” Mara says, and plunges a large knife that was concealed in his long, baggy sleeve deep into Connor’s stomach.


“Come on, get up already, will you?” says a gruff voice. Connor groans, and tries to move, but is overcome with intense pain in his abdomen. He rolls over onto his back and opens his eyes, and is met with a horrific sight. The sky, grey and miserable, looms overheard with an expanse of clouds and lightning, while thunder booms out frequently. He lowers a hand to where Mara’s knife pierced, the memories coming back to him now, and is surprised to feel an almost healed wound.

“How...?” he begins to ask.

“First of all, you’ve been out for almost a half-hour. Second, as your mind lets go of what happened, the wound heals. Now man up and stand, we have somewhere to be,” he grumbles impatiently.

Connor sits up slowly, pain searing through his stomach. It lessens as he rises, however, and soon he’s on his feet, wincing gingerly but in surprisingly good shape for someone who had been gutted by a 12-inch blade less than a half-hour ago. He looks around, and sees the vision of destruction that Mara had showed him a small glimpse of shortly before his awakening. It is every bit as awful as the snippet that he saw seemed to be, if not worse. The world seems to be a horribly mockery of the world that Connor was used to, one coated in a bed of flames and rubble. He stands still, for a few moments, trying to get his bearings, until he is pushed ahead by someone behind him. He turns around to see a man in his mid thirties, long black hair down to his shoulders, very muscular, and pretty handsome.

“Mara? Is that you?” Connor asks incredulously.

“Yes, it is. I told you that the form you saw on Earth wasn’t the real me,” Mara says, sounding annoyed.

“Well good for you, man,” Connor replies, laughing.

“Can we just get a move on? We’re on kind of a tight schedule,” Mara grumbles, and marches ahead, limping slightly despite seeming to be in peak physical condition. Connor follows wordlessly, marveling at the chaotic world around him. He grimaces when he sees the mindless drones wandering emotionlessly through the destroyed city, and is caught off-guard by random explosions, some in the distance, some a bit too close for his comfort.

"So, we're headed to that paradise city thing you were talking about, right?" Connor asks, curiosity and awe giving way now to fear and disgust.

"Yes,” Mara says stiffly.

"Hey man, did I like, do something wrong? Ever since we got here, you've seemed really pissed off," Connor says, concerned.

"Did it ever occur to you that maybe being a guide to people like yourself isn’t exactly my idea of a good time?” Mara growls. “I’m taking you where you’re meant to go. Shut up and follow.”

Connor shakes his head, confused by the strange man’s sudden change of demeanor, but follows faithlessly nonetheless.

Shortly into their walk, Connor hears someone shouting behind him.

“Connor? Connor Blake?” calls the voice desperately. Connor turns around to see, running towards him, the battered, burned, and shaking body of Jordan Hartigan, an old friend of his.

“Jordan?!” Connor says weakly, staring in disbelief at the man approaching him. “What the hell are you doing here, Jay? Everyone thought that you hung yourself a few months ago...”

“Connor, dude, don’t go with him. Stop it. It’s a trap. Don’t go. Seriously,” Jordan whimpers, close to tears.

“Connor!” Mara yells commandingly from behind him. “Leave that vermin and come with me. Now!”

“Get the fuck out of here while you can, Connor, I’m fucking serious. This isn’t whatever he told you it was, you need to get away while you still can, if you still can--” Jordan is cut off by a sharp blow to the face by Mara.

“Shut the hell up with your propaganda, scum. Get back to work, now!” he says dangerously.

“Yes, sir,” Jordan murmurs, staggering quickly away.

“What the hell was that about?” Connor asks quietly, still shaken by the appearance of his friend whom he thought to be dead.

“A few months ago, one of The Enlightened went to recruit that piece of shit to our ranks. His mind wasn’t ready, and he broke down, and brought insolence and insubordination to our city. He was cast out to work with the rest of the drones as punishment, and has been bitter about it ever since, hanging as close as he can to the city, trying to scare away our potential recruits.”

“Oh, I see...” Connor says slowly, still confused.

“Pay him no attention. He’s just a jealous, worthless bit of scum. Come on, follow me.”

“But--” Connor starts.

“No more questions,” declares Mara with an air of finality.

After about an hour’s walk, they come to a large city closed off by an impossibly high gate that stretches as far as the eye can see in every direction. Mara approaches the center of the gate, pulling out his knife as he does so. He makes a deep cut in his left palm, and places his hand up to a panel on the wall. The panel glows red, and the gate begins to open slowly.

Mara proceeds through the door, gesturing impatiently for Connor to follow him. He complies, and the second he’s through the doors, all thoughts of Jordan and the awful world behind him are washed away by the immense beauty of this city. Tall skyscrapers that seem to be made of diamond create a wondrous skyline, and pathways that appear to be literally paved with gold lead the way through the labyrinth, although there are no other people in sight.

Straight ahead, in plain view from the moment he stepped through the gates, is the largest, most amazing palace that he had ever seen. It made the Taj Mahal look like a hovel. Naturally, this palace is where Mara leads Connor.

They proceed through the doors and up a gorgeous spiral staircase, and come to a stop outside a huge, oak door. Mara grasps a solid gold door knocker in the shape of a serpent, and knocks twice. The door swings open, and Mara leads the way into the room. The second he enters the room, he knows something is wrong. The creature sitting on the throne in front of him emanates pure evil, and Connor is struck with fear the moment he sees this beast. Mara stops in front of him, and turns around.

“About time we got here, I HATE having to take that pathetic form,” he grumbles, and begins to change before Connor’s eyes. Twisted horns sprout from his head as his skin begins to redden and turn scaly, as well as taking on a burnt look. He grows slightly, and as his shoulders broaden, his shirt rips down the middle, before he tears it off and throws it to the ground. Despite Mara’s horrific transformation, Connor can’t remove his eyes from the monster on the throne. Blood-red skin, awful yellow eyes, and an incomparably evil leer are easily visible from where Connor is standing, and horrible black wings stretch out behind him. Dropping to his knees as he begins to understand, tears begin to stream down his face.

“I don’t understand...” Connor sobs, transfixed on the being of pure evil in front of him. In a loud, deep, sadistic voice, the creature spoke.

“‘He was a murderer from the beginning, and has nothing to do with the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies.’ I believe that is what your people say about me.”
Xeogaming Forums - Muses' Sanctuary - Halloween Story Competition: Déjà Vu

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