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Empty Wishes

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The building might’ve been something, once. The inside was completely gutted, so Ghoul didn’t have any idea of what that might’ve been. The broken neon lights and faded paint on the outside gave no indication.

It was a place of power, though, or so he heard. He’s heard a lot of legends, wandering the zones. He didn’t believe in many of them, but it was always worth a shot and he was bored tonight, so.

Here he was, smoking a cigarette in front of an abandoned building watching the moon slowly rise higher and higher in the sky. A can of spray paint was at his feet and he still had some drying on his hands from when he sprayed his message.

Accept My Challenge

He wrote it on top of maybe a decades worth of old graffiti. He lit a candle and left it there underneath with a piece of stale bread. Then, he walked outside. He didn’t know what the challenge was, or who he was challenging. He didn’t really care - at least 60% of him didn’t really think anything would happen and it would just be another story to tell in another dingy bar. Another late night chasing dust trails that were nothing more than just that - dust.

It didn’t take long for the moon to reach it’s peak and when it did something shifted. Ghoul blinked and immediately noticed that things were… off.

For one, the sky was purple and filled with a million more stars than he’s ever seen in his life. The entire landscape was purple. The mountains, the sand, the shrubs, his smoke from his cigarette. The only other color came from the neon lights that were previously broken. Green and red, shining down on him.

He crushed his cigarette into the dirt, suddenly feeling like having it lit was disrespectful.

A force tugged at him, urged him to walk inside. He was met with a woman kneeling in front of his candle, eating the bread.

“You could have offered something a little better.” She said, voice teasing yet full of so much power that Ghoul almost wanted to run. “A rat, perhaps. Stale bread has grown so tiring.”

She stood up and shook out her cloak. It shimmered and caught the nonexistent light and Ghoul saw that it was made of thousands of crow feathers. Half of her face was covered in a mask shaped like a crow skull, a third eye painted over the pitch black eye holes. She smiled. “You know who I am?”

Ghoul nodded, slowly, feeling in his gut that he knew who she was and shaking in fear because of it.

She noticed and laughed a laugh that sounded like thousands of beating wings. “You are not dead. Just sleeping. You will awaken soon, after this.”

“If I’m out there exposed I might as well be dead.” Ghoul countered, clenching his hands and forcing himself to stay where he was.

“Why do you think I made you walk inside?” Her smile suddenly became just a bit more dangerous. “What do you wish for?”

Ghoul honestly didn’t know. He didn’t have anything to wish for.

Suddenly she was right in front of him, hand lightly touching the scar on his cheek. It was unimaginably cold. “I can heal you, if you wish.” She took her hand away and circled him. “I can offer you food, shelter, safety. Anything you want. All you have to do is win.”

Ghoul touched his cheek, trying to warm it up again. He hardly registered the words. “I don’t want anything. Things are fine as they are.”

She paused, tilting her head. “Then why did you summon me?”

Ghoul shrugged. “I was curious. I didn’t think anything would happen.”

“I am not a toy to be called for your amusement.” Her voice was low and dark and Ghoul heard the ghosts of thousands of crows screaming behind her. Just barely felt them scratch at whatever exposed skin he had.

“Alright,” He replied, easily. Voice calm and controlled. “Surprise me, then. You probably know more about me then I do about myself.”

The scratching stopped and the crows flew away. She stood there, her mouth twisted in something unreadable. “You are a strange one.” She shrugged off her cloak and took off her mask. He forgot her face every time he blinked. “Are you aware of what you must do?”

Suddenly, he was. He nodded, already feeling his heart starting to race, his adrenaline beginning to build.

“Then begin.”

Ghoul charged at her.

He didn’t remember what happened after that.

-

Fun Ghoul woke up when the sun rose, curled in a ball behind the counter of a long abandoned building. Every muscle in him ached and he had dried blood on his knuckles and dried blood on his face and dried blood on his clothes.

He felt worse than that time he threw himself out of a Drac car to avoid being brought back to the city. He was sore for weeks after that and he shuddered to think about how long he’d be sore now. He forced himself up and examined the room, not remembering how he even got there.

The walls were covered in what must’ve been a decades worth of graffiti, but something felt missing. He felt like he should’ve seen something.

He didn’t care. The thought quickly left his mind.

He patted himself down to make sure nothing was missing.

In the pocket of his vest, he found a pack of cigarettes he didn’t remember buying.