• Halloween 2016 IF,  Interactive Fiction

    Halloween 2016 IF – Author’s Notes

    Thank you, once again, so much for playing in this little Halloween event. I hope both players and readers enjoyed it—I know I had a wonderful time!

    I want to give a huge shoutout to everyone who played! My biggest fear when I started this was that nobody would comment and it would flop before it even started, and you all stepped in and instead, under your direction, this became something incredible—28,000 words of it, in fact! An extra special shoutout goes to Vikarmic, who did the impossible and commented to every single day.

    In thanks, a little giveaway! Vikarmic, if you can leave me the email address associated with your kindle and the name of a story you want to read, I’d love to send you something! I also put all the other commenters in a hat and drew one at random—the lucky winner is Dranachronisms. So, Dranachronisms, if you have a kindle, please let me know the email for it and an ebook you’ve been wanting to read so I can fire something your way (or otherwise drop me a way to get you an ebook <3). I can’t get something for everyone, but I want to say how I’m so grateful for every single person who played, and want to thank you all so, so much.

    If you enjoyed Septimus and Sweet, you will always be able to read it again from my Extras page.  If you’d like to support my work in general, I hope you’ll consider checking out my Novels and Short Stories to see if there’s anything you’d like to buy, and following me on Twitter and Tumblr to keep up to date on my work as it comes out. As well, if you read and like my other works, please consider giving it a good rating and/or reviewing on Goodreads! I can’t stress how helpful a good rating is in drawing in new readership and supporting me. 

    Finally, what you’re all here for— Q&A! Feel free to ask me anything you want about the story, what my writing process was, things people may have suspected but not had confirmed, whatever. Wonder what would have happened if you’d done X instead of Y? Ask it here! I mean, for starters, I had a totally different story planned if people had Sep go “fuck this eldritch bullshit” and drive away, lol. Also: Is this sort of thing something people would like to see me do again someday?

    So: Ask me whatever you’d like and, once again, thank you and happy Halloween!

    [Instructions | Day 1 | Day 2 | Day 3 | Day 4 | Day 5 | Day 6 | Day 7 | Day 8 | Day 9 | Day 10 | Day 11 | Day 12 | Day 13 | Day 14 | Day 15 | Day 16 | Day 17 |  Day 18 | Day 19 | Day 20 | Day 21 | Day 22 | Day 23 | Day 24 | Day 25 | Conclusion | Author’s Notes]

  • Halloween 2016 IF,  Interactive Fiction

    Halloween 2016 IF – Conclusion

    In the end, it wasn’t much of a decision.

    Sweet’s father couldn’t be set free, and putting him back to sleep would just leave the problem for the future, however near or distant. Leaving him alive in any way left open a connection between him and Sweet that might never close, might always keep Sweet captive in some way. Trying to channel that power back to change him was, in some ways, even more horrible.

    So they would destroy him.

    It was done quickly, but not with malice. Despite everything Septimus had gone through, despite everything he knew Sweet had gone through, he couldn’t find it in himself to hate the creature. It was what it was, and it was doing what it knew how to do. It didn’t have anything inside itself to care one way or another who suffered in its path, so nothing it had done was actually cruel.

    Sweet had hated him, but had wanted something more, too. Septimus could feel that, almost taste that, and he bundled it up in the rest, in that forgiveness and regret and killing intent, and he released it all at once.

    Fire exploded around them, heat and flame, instant and fatal. The screaming outside stopped. The void outside stopped. A multitude of stars closed their eyes.

    And Sweet drew a sharp breath in as he felt the sudden end of a connection that had been there as long as he had been alive.

    Septimus closed his eyes too, rested his forehead against Sweet’s, and pulled on the bandage.

    They collapsed in a heap against the wall outside the basement door—or, rather, what had once been the basement door. It was a twisted, blackened thing, the wood warped beyond all recognition and barring all passage. The basement, and everything in it, had burned, but the house above still stood.

    Finally, unsteadily, Septimus exhaled. His breath felt raw, and that foreign heart still beat in his chest, but they were both too tired, too drained from that to be much more than human right then. He wondered if it would return someday, if they would fill back up with that strange power.

    That was a thought for another day, though.

    “You okay?” he managed, with a slow, tired tongue that didn’t want to form words.

    For a few moments, Sweet didn’t answer. Then he nodded and shrugged at the same time, looking up at Septimus with his eyes that refracted hundreds of times, as they always did. But there were only the two, and they were in the right place, and they were flooded with unshed tears.

    “I don’t know,” Sweet said. “I think so. I haven’t really… processed.”

    “Yeah,” Septimus said softly.

    “The power won’t come back. I mean, the electricity,” Sweet said, as if that was what was important right now. “He powered it. The house.”

    “We… could probably power it,” Septimus pointed out with a weak laugh. “If we wanted.”

    “Not now. Maybe not for years.” Sweet seemed to look inside himself, unsure. “Maybe not ever. We spent a lot on—that.”

    He couldn’t say it, or didn’t want to. There was no point in forcing it, though, not this soon.

    “Yeah,” Septimus said. “…m’cold.”

    “Me too.”

    “And tired.”

    “Me too.”

    “And alive.”

    “Somehow,” Sweet said. He managed an unsteady smile. “Want to go to bed?”

    “Yeah,” Septimus said. “For… however much of the night is left.”

    I don’t have anything to do tomorrow,” Sweet said. He rose unsteadily, shaking the burned remains of the gauze bandage from around himself, and held out a hand to help Septimus up.

    Septimus took it, and they almost both tumbled over again, but managed, if only just, to get upright. “Damn,” Septimus said. “I don’t know what I’m feeling.”

    You don’t know what you’re feeling,” Sweet grumbled, half-supporting Septimus and half being supported as they dragged themselves up the stairs. For a few steps, neither of them said anything, and then Sweet let out a wet little laugh.  “I can’t believe you married a guy you’d known for three months.”

    “I think it was a bit more permanent than marriage,” Septimus said, mustering up a dry humor. “Hopefully it works out.”

    “I think it will,” Sweet said. “I’m an optimist.” They paused in the upstairs hallway. “Do you want me to take my mom’s room?”

    “Don’t be an idiot.”

    Another strange, wet laugh, and they headed together to Sweet’s room and fell down together on the bed.

    “Shit,” Sweet whispered. “The comforter.”

    “I’ve got it,” Septimus said, and pulled it over them.

    They both paused, silently trying to figure where he’d pulled it from—then both simultaneously decided to deal with that another day too. They just pressed together for warmth and comfort as they fell into an uneasy sleep.

    And though Septimus was woken hours later by Sweet sobbing, he was a little glad, because eldritch horrors and cosmic power was one thing, but holding someone and rubbing their back and soothing them—that was something he understood.

    [Happy Halloween and thank you for playing!
    Please check out my Author’s Notes post for a thanks, a giveaway, and Q&A!]

    [Instructions | Day 1 | Day 2 | Day 3 | Day 4 | Day 5 | Day 6 | Day 7 | Day 8 | Day 9 | Day 10 | Day 11 | Day 12 | Day 13 | Day 14 | Day 15 | Day 16 | Day 17 |  Day 18 | Day 19 | Day 20 | Day 21 | Day 22 | Day 23 | Day 24 | Day 25 | Conclusion | Author’s Notes]

  • Halloween 2016 IF,  Interactive Fiction

    Halloween 2016 IF – Day 25

    [New and want to jump in? Please read the Instructions, but go ahead!]

    Septimus’s brows creased in stress and fear as he closed his eyes and thought about all their options: everything he’d laid out, everything they’d thought, everything they could do.

    Warmth. Hope. Dreams. Love.

    Fire. Destruction. Fear. Sacrifice.

    He knew which of the two he preferred.

    He opened them again, feeling a little more resolved, and looked at Sweet. Sweet seemed both scared and hungry, small and large beyond all reckoning, as foreign god and human upbringing churned inside him, his flesh hardly enough to contain him.

    Septimus loved him.

    He loved him just as he was. The Sweet who had originally covered his eyes so he wouldn’t see what now seemed like such a small horror, that uncomfortable moment in an old film. The Sweet who had invited him out here, bought pie, played games with him. The Sweet he’d spent long hours exploring. But also this Sweet: the one who had lied to him about his nature, who had brought him into the den of some deep terror, who was filled with space and eyes and void.

    “Sep?” Sweet asked him in a very small, very unnatural voice.

    “Yeah,” Septimus said. He smiled and leaned over, pulling him close.

    And he kissed Sweet.

    It was a symbol so long as it carried the meaning with it: Passion, a future together. In so many fairy tales, it was the signifier for every other promise, marriage and union and happily ever after. He tried to pour that all into it, kissing him with everything he had, all of his love, all of his hopes, all of his dreams.

    For a moment, Sweet was frozen with surprise, stiff against him.

    And then he let out a little whimper in that voice that wasn’t a voice, winding his arms around Septimus, bandages catching against him, mouth opening onto eternity.

    Septimus kissed that as well, determined to accept it all.

    When the kiss finally broke, both were breathless, airless. The room had seemed to fade out around them into darkness lit by strange lights; Septimus refused to look at that, at anything except Sweet.

    “I love you,” he said, and surprised himself by not stumbling over saying the words for the first time. “I want to stay with you from now until the end of time. I promise that—I swear that.”

    Sweet stared at him. Flesh came and went, reforming and vanishing, eyes opening and then blinking closed into nothing again. He said, softly, “I want that too.”

    “Then say it. Promise it.”

    “I love you,” Sweet said. It came out shyly, and his arms dropped from around Septimus, but only so he could find Septimus’s hands, squeezing them. He let out a weird, echoing laugh. Is this really happening?

    Septimus gave him a half-smile, heart pounding, wry. “We’re either going to die together or live together,” he said. “It seemed like a good time to say it.”

    Even with the room gone, it felt like something wasn’t quite right. Not quite done. He didn’t even have to think, though, to realize what it was.

    He was giving Sweet his heart. It had to be literal.

    But—

    “I’ll give you my heart,” Septimus said, “if you give me yours. That’s… what this kind of promise is supposed to mean, right? That kind of exchange. Sharing. Not something one-sided.”

    Sweet stared at him. His eyes grew larger and larger, opening onto infinity, until only the sensation of Sweet’s hands in his kept Septimus grounded.

    Okay, he whispered.

    And suddenly it was the two of them again, and Sweet looked normal, human. Septimus drew a breath, trying to understand what was about to happen.

    Sweet’s chest opened.

    His ribcage popped like a gate, doors swinging wide, showing only nothing inside, his black-purple heart pumping void into himself. Septimus stared at it, morbidly excited, then let out a shout as a sudden pain and heat shot through himself as well, a sharpness in his chest like he’d been stabbed.

    There was a horrible creaking feeling, a popping, more pain, unbearable pain, and he felt his own chest crack open.

    He didn’t dare look down. He didn’t want to see himself bleeding out, his insides working, or, worse, something more unnatural.

    Sweet, though, was staring at Septimus’s chest. “Is it all right?” he asked in his normal voice. “Really?”

    Septimus almost didn’t dare speak. He knew he had to. “I’m giving you my heart,” he repeated, and heard the wheezing of his own lungs from the outside. “Give me yours.”

    Sweet smiled.

    And he reached into Septimus’s chest.

    It hurt unbearably. He was screaming, couldn’t help it, squeezing his eyes shut and unable to watch as Sweet tore it free. He felt, for a moment, a horrible cold nothingness, his body struggling to function with nothing there to allow it, but with it came a sense of relief. He didn’t need to feel anything like this. With no heart, there was nothing to feel with and no need to do so.

    And then Sweet placed his own heart in Septimus’s chest and he felt it start to pump again, blood and emotion and something else. Once, twice—

    His ribcage slammed closed. Again, an unbearable pain welled up in him, and this time, as he screamed, he felt heat racing through him. He could taste eternity, feel reality spinning around him, and knew that he could touch some greater power now. Bend it to his will. Their offering to each other had doubled, quadrupled, rushed back through each of them in turn and reflected and grew, finding more and more to build off of. He felt like he could grant wishes, reset time, give life or death at will—

    Septimus opened his eyes, drawing an unsteady breath.

    The sound of screaming continued, but it was no longer Septimus doing it. It was Sweet’s father, that petty, old thing, a great creature who had once been powerful enough to be a god but now barely could keep its eyes open. He was screaming and tearing at what Septimus realized was a small, portable world they’d created around them to give them space to do this, a circle within Sweet’s father himself.

    The basement room, all of it, had still been inside Sweet’s father. They were still there. And they could tear him apart if they wanted, as they left.

    Sweet was pressed against him, arms wrapped around him, breathing steadily with his eyes closed. For a moment, Septimus worried that he’d fallen asleep, but no; he was just reacting to whatever he felt within him of this power, or, perhaps, just to Septimus’s humanity. They were tied together, Septimus realized, by the bandage he’d used to act as a guide home.

    All he’d have to do was follow it and they’d be out in the real world. But he knew that Sweet’s father would come pouring out of the hole they’d made, chasing them, trying to get his son back to eat him, too stubborn to stop.

    They had enough power now to deal with him. They could put him back to sleep for however long it took the next foolish cult to bring him back. They could burn him in their joint power so he would be destroyed. They could take the connection he had to Sweet and reverse it, so Sweet could devour him instead. Or they could wake him, let him free to do as he wished to the world.

    The unmade decision hung heavily around them as Sweet’s father raged and tore at the edges of their world, threatening to break it open.

    “I don’t know what to do,” Sweet said softly, wryly. “He’s still my father. But he’s not good. He’s not human. He doesn’t feel what I do, because he can’t.”

    “I’ll decide,” Septimus said gently.  “Sometimes we need other people to make these decisions for us. Will you trust me? Will you forgive me?”

    “I do,” Sweet said.

    [Please decide what Septimus will have them do about Sweet’s father.

    Please keep in mind that this is the last chance to influence the story,
    as Day 26 will be the final part and thus the outcome!]

    [Instructions | Day 1 | Day 2 | Day 3 | Day 4 | Day 5 | Day 6 | Day 7 | Day 8 | Day 9 | Day 10 | Day 11 | Day 12 | Day 13 | Day 14 | Day 15 | Day 16 | Day 17 |  Day 18 | Day 19 | Day 20 | Day 21 | Day 22 | Day 23 | Day 24 | Day 25 | Conclusion | Author’s Notes]