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One Shots of 2020

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The man walks down the street, his breathing a bit heavy as he had to run away from people he pushed the wrong way. He didn’t mean to really, he honestly thought he knew them from somewhere but it was made clear that that was, in fact, not the case. “Can’t understand a misunderstandin’ or anythin’ huh...Damn…” He shakes his head as he takes a sip of beer from his bag. Cheap, but it keeps him running.

He breathes and relaxes against a building, looking around the street. He has no idea where he is. ‘Coulda sworn I was headin’ home…’ He shakes his head, taking another sip of his beer and continuing down the street. Eventually he will see a sign, something, anything that would lead him home. He knows it. At least, that is what his confidence is driving him to believe as he takes another stuttering step across the wet pavement. He really should have called a cab when he had a chance to--

“Shut it, you!” He looks around-- “I hear you mocking me . And I ain’t gonna stand for it!”

He continues “No!” to walk down “I won’t do it!” the street, his little outbursts ceasing. He sneers and decides it is not a fight worth fighting. Another night, maybe one where he is not so drunk--

“I ain’t drunk! I only had a couple of these!” He shakes the bag around as though trying to prove a point, only adding to the madness of believing there is anyone there with him. He hesitates, then pulling the bag down and looking around, searching for any eyes that may decide to linger upon him. But he is, in fact, alone. Save for anyone that might reside in the buildings around him, he is completely and utterly alone on that street.

He breathes, shaking his head and continuing forward on the street that seems to never end. “It only doesn’t end ‘cause you make it keep going, you *sshat.” Language. “ I’m ‘sorry’. ” The man steps into a rather deep puddle that seems to have only just appeared in front of him. He curses as he takes off his boot, now going to get the water out on the sidewalk. “Y’know, I know you’ll be gone soon enough! As soon as I get to bed, you’ll be all gone!” ... “Don’t got anything to say now, huh?”

After making sure “Gawd” he is able to remove as much water as he can from the boot and his sock, “Shouldn’t have said anythin’’” he places them back on and continues on his way. He takes one last little swig from the beer before throwing it into a trash can. He hums to himself, moving to place his hands in his pockets as a rather sheepish smile takes over his features. Ah, the little high he enjoys so much is beginning to kick in. The sweet, relaxing moment he finds in that little sweet spot of his stomach. Nothing at all can kick the smile from his face as he moves along, even the thought of not being able to find home--

“I KNOW WHERE HOME IS!” he yells.

“Well, I am sure you do know where home is.”

The man turns on his heel only to lock eyes with a stranger he had never seen before. He is about his own height but somehow stands a little taller, his composure nothing short of a man who must have his life together. Either that or he is very good at making it seem that way, which can’t be all that hard in a nicely prepared suit, a cane joining his outfit as he places it in front of him. The man’s eyes might’ve been doing tricks on him as he thought he saw little lines of red and blue around the suited man. That couldn’t be right--

“Are you usually one to stare at strangers like this?”

The man’s head perks up, confusion riding on his features as he realizes that the man in a suit is talking to him. Someone people would hardly even bat an eye to unless it was to--

The man coughs, shaking his head. “Ah, sorry about that. I’m a bit on the ‘tipsy’ side if ya can understand that, haha.”

“Oh? I suppose that would make sense as you seem to have been having trouble choosing a direction to go.”

The man blinks, looking back and noticing he has not taken any real steps in any direction since a few minutes ago. “...Well damn. I guess I’m really out of it haha!”

“Mm, I suppose.” The man in the suit looks away for a moment before looking back to the drunk man. “Would you care if I joined you for a short stroll? At least, until you decide on a direction to go.”

“I mean, it ain’t really my street so I can’t really tell ya no.”

“True but it is better to ask to be company, is it not? After all, I am but a mere stranger to you as you are to me.”

The man looks over the man in the suit once more, darkness mostly covering him save from a little light from the moon but even then he cannot make out much of anything about him. It could be the sunglasses he insists on having on adding to that but the man is not about to admit that. “Well...I don’t think I’d mind some company. Just uh, if you could, can ya help me get back to goin’ north? I know I live somewhere over there, I think...”

The man in the suit smiles, just missing the shot of being genuine as he nods. “Of course. This way.” He motions with his hand and begins to walk, the man using all of his will power to not collapse then and there to follow him. “So, how did you find yourself here?”

“Uh, I was in some bar back there and accidentally leaned on somebody that I thought was an old friend.”

“I take it he was not?”

“Noooope. Not at all.”

The man in a suit chuckles, nodding. “I see. But, I suppose what I meant to ask is how you’ve come to be here. In Los Angeles. You certainly do not dress as though you are from around here and that accent seems too heavy to just be part of some show.”

“Oh! Well uh,” the man pulls at his suspenders a little, letting some air escape past his lips, “that right there is quite the story. A pretty long and boring one though, I’m sure you wouldn’t really want to hear it.”

“I do believe you are placing yourself at a lower standard here, sir. After all, I cannot imagine someone dressed as a cowboy out of all things would have a boring story.”

The man looks down to himself, chuckling a bit. “I guess ya got me there, huh? Haha…” He breathes. “Where do I even begin?”

“Perhaps a name?”

The man blinks. “Ah shit, I didn’t give ya one of those already?” He breathes out a laugh, raising a hand to shake the other’s. “The name’s Ed Edgar but uh, feel free to just call me Ed.”

The man in a suite tilts his head some before grasping his hand, the feeling startling Ed a bit as his hand felt cold. Like ‘placing your hand in a thing of ice’ cold. Ed nearly pulls away as the man grips his hand. “ Dark .”

As the man in the suit claims that as his name, Ed feels something wrapping around his arm, going up to his neck. The man’s eyes suddenly go dark, his skin seeming to be tearing away from his face--

He gasps and quickly pulls away, the feeling quickly fading away along with the dreadful image. He is more alert, a bit more sober than a moment ago. “What, what--”

“Is something wrong?” Dark tilts his head, watching Ed’s movements. “You look as though you have seen something akin to a ghost.”

Ed stares at Dark, breathing returning to normal as he fights the obviously incorrect image he was just witness to. “You, I…” He shakes his head. “Your hand is really cold…”

Dark smirks, inspecting his own hand. “Apologies, I do try to keep them cool. It helps to keep up my image; keeps the clothes crisp.”

Ed laughs to that, still trying to get comfortable again. “It’s as though you’re sayin’ you can control the temperature of your body or somethin’.”

Dark’s smirk widens but he offers nothing more as he turns again, stepping forward. “So, Ed Edgar , what is your story?”

Ed hesitates to follow him. There is definitely something wrong with the guy but what he could not quite pin down. But as he begins to get farther away, Ed shuffles after him, knowing he is really the only equivalent to a taxi that he could hope for here. He has to get home to Ednarb somehow...even with this weird guy with cold hands. And the weird name, ‘Dark’? ‘Must be some sort of name agents would give or something. I mean, he is in a suit...maybe he is some sort of spy. Or maybe he’s someone undercover, like a business kind of guy. One that’s actually successful though and needs to keep a low agenda...or he could be a politician--’

“Ed?”

“Ah, sorry haha. My story, right. Uh…” Ed lets out a long breath. “Well...I guess I should keep it short huh?”

“If that is what you would prefer. It is your story after all, I am only the curious stranger.”

“A stranger...right…” Ed nods a little, wishing he had kept that last bit of beer with him as he tries to remember where life all started falling apart. “Well, I was born and raised in Texas if you’d believe that. Had a huge family all around me, lots of love and support and all, y’know?”

“Did they pass?” Dark asks with a hint of melancholy in his tone.

Ed blinks. “What? No!”

“Oh, you said ‘had’ so, I assumed…”

“Oh...Well uh, I’ll get to that bit later. It’s...more complicated than that.” Ed breathes and shakes his head. “Anyway, I grew up and after I dropped outta high school--trust me, it wasn’t doin’ me no favors--I was goin’ to go and pursue my dream! Bull Ridin’!” Ed smiles fondly at the memory. Even now, he can picture himself heading down that street on his way to the rodeo for auditions. He was so determined.

Ed smile falters as he recalls what happened next. “But then, I met him .”

“Him?” Dark gently pushes.

“Mhm. You probably know him as some famous actor or somethin’, ‘Markiplier’?”

A silence hung in the air between the two for a moment before Dark muttered, “I am familiar with him, I suppose. Go on.”

“Well, he’s a real prick let me tell ya.” Ed breathes. “I knew him back then as the famous guy though, had seen him in a couple of movies and all growin’ up, y’know? In the movies, he seemed like a genuinely awesome guy! And he was famous! So of course when he crosses my way on the way over to do my tryouts, I was more than happy to stop him and grab a drink with him!”

“I thought you were a high school drop out?”

“I, uh, had failed a couple of grades, but that ain’t the point!” Ed places his hands out, as though directing the scene. “We get into the bar and grab a couple of drinks. Well, more than a couple. Honestly, I can’t really recall too much...BUT. I know that he was talkin’ about my future. You know what he tells me?”

“No.”

“He tells me that I didn’t look like I belonged in a rodeo. He says that I looked to be more of a businessman. The way I held myself, talked about goals, he told me that I would be the perfect man to start a business! And he’s an actor so obviously he has to know a thing or two, right?”

“...I will refrain from making a comment until after your story. Continue.”

Ed’s eyebrows furrow a little but he decides to let it go, instead continuing his speal. “Well, long story short, he and I begin to get into it and start to create a business! I wanted to do something good, something with children maybe, y’know, help families and all, maybe an orphanage. But y’know, ya can’t really make a business off of that and, well, those were already existin’ anyway. Wouldn’t really fix the main issue though.”

“The main issue as in…?”

“Well, that families are made kind of without too much thought. People give themselves either more than they can handle or they just don’t want the child anymore. So, why not make the child more...wantable.”

“...I am not sure I follow.”

“Well…” Ed braces himself as he says, “We decided to manufacture babies and sell ‘em.”

“...What?”

“We made babies. Well, not he and I but we had people volunteer to make babies and he had some scientists in some factory someplace do the rest. We uh, what’s that word they used again...Genetically altered them to make them more wanted.

“From little teeny babies to cyborg babies to even babies that liked to dress a particular way, we had all sorts of babies ready to give to loving homes! We were sellin’ ‘em in big ol’ bulks too with crazy deals year ‘round, trying to make sure each and every single one of those youngsters found themselves a home! It was called ‘Ed Edgar Adoptallot’s Baby Bulk Buy’!” Ed catches his mouth, soon looking around for anyone who might’ve been listening. He had quite a few people who were really ‘ proud’ of what he did and would ‘ love’ to show him some ‘appreciation’ . The kind that meant a blow to the face or shoving him into the damn wall.

“I seem to recall hearing your commercials. You were louder back then, were you not?”

“Well…” He looks around once more before nodding. “I had to be to get anyone to really hear me. I wanted to make sure all of those babies got good homes…they were really sweet…”

“So what happened?”

Ed stayed silent for a little longer before admitting, “My business got shut down. Was told it was unethical what I was doin’ and I lost my only big investor, that ‘Markiplier’ guy. It was like he fell off the earth or somethin’! Wouldn’t answer my calls or anythin’ and the whole thing was crumblin’! By the time everything came crashin’ down and the babies...the poor babies…” Ed stops, allowing silence to pass as he pushes to continue. “All I had left at the end was some money I saved up and my son, Ednarb, who I failed to sell. My family dropped me as the business was somethin’ that was ‘immoral’ and ‘disgustin’ and all and just, just...”

He sighs, taking off his hat as he runs a hand through his hair. “And now I’m that broke *sshole that decided to try and sell babies that were mutated monsters along with my own flesh and blood. It’s only a matter of time until I can’t do much of anythin’ anymore. And my son’s gonna be paying for it by starving and losing his chance at a life ‘cause his father was an idiot that couldn’t do a damn thing right...”

Silence drifts between the two for a long, long time. Ed could not tell you why he decided to tell this stranger his life story. He is not even all that drunk anymore and yet the two are walking down the street that seems to never end, talking about things Ed would have rather not ever talked about with anyone.

After a few minutes of silence, Dark comments, “It seems you have allowed yourself to spiral down into a dark place.”

Ed scoffs, nearing a laugh as he says, “Ya think?”

“My apologies. But...you seem to be in need of some stability. At least, until you are up to par again.”

Ed blinks. As he is about to ask about how he is going to help, he pauses and remembers he is talking to a man in a suit. A man that knew what he did. There is no way he has any intention in helping him at all. “No, I think I’m alright.”

“Oh?”

“Mhm. Just gotta find my way home and I’ll be alllll good.”

“Your lease is running out of time, is it not?”

Ed blinks. “How would you know…” He shakes his head. “Nuh uh, don’t wanna know.” He tries to walk ahead but finds his feet are getting heavier. “The hell?”

“Mr. Edgar, I would highly suggest you do not try to run off now. I promise I do not have any wish to harm you,” the man in a suit practically coos, throwing Ed for a loop as he tries to fight off the urge to relax.

“I said I’d be fine!” He wheezes as he keeps pushing himself forward, now attributing the sudden weight to the suited man. “You’re as bad as that damn person that likes to yap from time to time, gettin’ in my head and all. I bet you ain’t even real!” He leans heavily to the side and falls against a wall, still pulling himself forward, his legs wanting to give in. “Ain’t no man in a suit” he trips against his foot a little “with any sort of brain would ever, aaaand I mean ever ” he hits his feet together again and comes falling down to his knees “offer help to someone like me.”

‘Hoo, is it just me or is the air gettin’ heavy or somethin’?’ He breathes and reaches forward again, trying to keep moving forward but losing the battle.

“You are quite stubborn,” he hears the man say next to him. Somewhere in that conversation the man in the suit must have caught up to him. Dark bends down next to Ed, meeting his gaze. “I understand what it is like to be in your position.” He mutters, “In more ways than one if you would believe me.” He raises his voice again. “I only wish to offer you a place to stay. A roof over you and your son’s head, food, the works.”

“And what,” Ed breathes, having trouble catching his breath “do I, do I gotta sell my soul or somethin’? ‘C-Cause I ain’t, hooo, I ain’t doin’ that any time sooon. Ooof...”

“I believe you might have already done that…” the man mutters before reaching out to Ed. He grasps his shoulder. “Ed. You are going to pay attention to my words very carefully. And when we are done…”

 

*******************************************************

 

Ed blinks, finding himself standing in front of his apartment. Confusion covers his face as he looks around, trying to remember how he has gotten back home only to find a note in his hands. He opens it up and reads an address. ‘Oh...right. Right, right, I was...we are--’  

“Dad?”

Ed looks up to see his son peeking outside, staring at him. “Son, what are you doin’ up?” Ed crosses over, going through the door and ushering his son back inside.

“Y-You were late s-so I was worried. Sorry…”

Ed watches him before shaking his head, hugging him close. “No no, I’m sorry. I’m the one late, aren’t I?” He sighs, soon enough feeling the note in his hand. “...Son. We gotta pack up.”

“Pack up? Where, where are we going?”

“We’re gonna be livin’ with some people that are gonna help us. They got a real nice place to that I’m sure you’ll enjoy with time of course. It’s gonna be great but we gotta get to packin’. Come on, son.”