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Hatchetober 2021

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Blackness.

Infinite blackness.

That’s how Howard Goodman described what he saw when entering the Black and White, although that didn’t seem to cover the sheer darkness surrounding him.

It felt almost like a physical thing, so big, and so whole it felt like it was swallowing him up the longer he stood there. As if the darkness here was a tangible thing that could suffocate him, and it felt like his suit was closing in on itself, and the tiny digital readouts on his helmet were consumed by the darkness.

The voice of the general came in and seemed to cut through the darkness until the audio cut out, and he was once again alone. Until he heard him.

The sound of a voice that sounded like a southern drawl when it was spoken, a voice that sent shivers down his spine, and told him to run, but he couldn’t because it felt like the darkness had gotten him.

And then he actually saw the man. The man that seemed to radiate darkness, swallowing any snuff of light with him each step he took, but yet somehow also seemed to have a lone spotlight making him perfectly visible at the same time, reflecting off his shiny, greasy, black hair, and as each moment passes and this greasy-haired man talks, he can feel the pull to darkness more and more each time.

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Nightmares. They’re a horrible thing that plague so many people in the dead of night, especially in the tiny town of Hatchetfield.

There are the normal ones, of course, but the more important ones are the leaks. Memories that seep through other timelines.

For instance, Ethan Green finds himself waking up to phantom aches as he leaves a dream of hands and fists pummeling him until his eyes were blurred with tears and his heart stopped beating.

Or Emma Perkins, who across town wakes up and immediately feels around her body, looking for multiple stab wounds that don’t exist, a look of terror washing over her face as she looks over at her boyfriend.

Or Paul Matthews, laying next to Emma in bed, who wakes up a few hours later, in a cold sweat, gasping, relieved to not find himself choking on blue goo or singing anymore, horrified by what he had just done.

But then some have nightmares that aren’t leaks, but prophecies, conveyed through dreams, like the ones that Hannah Foster experiences. Dreams filled with songs sung by a woman in white, or messages told by a spider. But sometimes the spider isn’t there. Sometimes she can’t protect Hannah. That’s when the gates open. That’s when the nightmares come.

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Paul Matthews is afraid of musicals. Now, he knows that's dumb, and he honestly has no solid answer as to why he’s afraid of musicals. So, he just says he doesn’t like them. They make him very comfortable. It’s his own personal hell.

Thinking back, he tries to remember when he started fearing musicals. For some reason, he can’t seem to remember, and just assumed it was the first musical he saw in high school, but that doesn’t seem right. It wasn’t anything amazing by any means, it was a high school production after all, but nothing so bad that would cause such a fear of them.

It’s not until the meteor, the apotheosis, that day, that he realizes. He remembers. In a day filled with songs and blue goo and broken smiles, he remembers. He remembers the dreams filled with a giant blue being wearing a cracked mask and speaking to him in a melodic voice that seemed neither male nor female when he was younger. He remembers the whispered warnings that “you can hide but I will find you.”

He remembers pushing the dreams down once he woke up, repressing them further down until he forgot about them entirely. Until today. Until he found himself surrounded by the very songs and blue he forced himself to forget years ago. Until his fear went from irrational to rational. And when the darkness that closed in on him was blue instead of black, he wondered if maybe he had listened to those dreams instead of pushing them down, he would’ve known this was coming. Then maybe he would’ve known to get out sooner and he could’ve saved himself and Emma.

But he didn’t.

And now he’s left with just him, surrounded by his fear.

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Hannah Foster was constantly surrounded by song. At nights, Webby would fill her dreams with soothing songs, in a way to keep away the nightmares that tried to invade her mind every evening. During the day, however, there are two kinds of songs that seem to fill her life.

There’s the normal songs, the ones that everyone can hear, like her playing the ukulele, or the songs blasting from the radio in the car, or the singing from the coffee shop that offered a song for a tip.

But then there were the other songs. The songs that only she could hear. The melody that seemed to follow her wherever she went, silent to everyone but her, acting almost like background music to her life.

Sometimes, she wonders if she’s not the only one who hears these songs when she meets a businessman who appears to be humming along to the same unheard tune as she is. When asked about it, he didn’t seem to know anything about the song, but she knew he could hear it too, even if just a little bit.

So she sang, and hummed, and strummed to the tune of songs that don’t even technically exist in her universe but still found a way to her anyways. Because if no one else can share them, then she supposes she will.

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Wilbur Cross and Ms. Holloway are strangers when they first meet at PEIP training and orientation.

They are co-workers when they’re assigned the same division and start working closer together.

They are friends when their time spent together is more relaxed and light-hearted.

They are friends when they’re invited to General Macnamara and Major Lee’s wedding.

They are friends when Ms. Holloway always makes sure Wilbur gets home safe after a night at the bar.

They are friends when Wilbur makes sure she doesn’t stay up too late and takes care of herself when she’s too absorbed in her work.

They are friends when Wilbur is one of the few people she confesses to about her being a witch.

They are friends when they first start on a portal into the Black and White they had spent so many years researching.

They are friends with tensions when she starts saying it’s a bad idea to go through with the plan to enter the Black and White.

They are friends with tensions as the date to go through the portal approaches, and Ms. Holloway is more and more adamant about not going through with this.

They are not speaking with each other when Wilbur steps through the portal, and Ms. Holloway isn’t even at PEIP.

They are enemies when Ms. Holloway is staring down the wrong end of a black blade, held by a man covered in denim, who she once had considered her best friend, just as the blade makes its way into her heart.

 

~̶͔̠̟͈͎̪͎̥̗̳̟̈́̓̋̔̒͋̉͗͐̅̒̆̄͘͠ͅ~̶̛̬̝̪́̃̐̕͘~̷̯̦̹͔͚̱̣̼̮̠̭͕͉̜̹͚̄̇́̽̍̕͜~̴̦͈̥̞̘͂̈̉̒͑̅̏̐͂̈́̅̚͘͝͝ͅ~̴̛̛͈̹̣̘̬͖̞̎̈́̿̅̌̎͛͛̇̃͆̾͘͝ͅ~̷̞͎̀̅̉̀̋͋̓͋̌̇̊̄̓̚͝~̷̧̣̣̭̪̠͇̝̼͔͉̑̒̉͌̿͂̃́̏͋͠ͅ~̶̘̼͉͖̤̱̫̼̇͋̈͊̆̓̈́͘͠͝~̸̧̩͖̗͒͒̋~̴̛̫̮̼̟͔̯̯̖̥̪͚̭̤̍̋~̴̢̢̤̗̥̟͚̭͔̟͈̓̾̈́̈̒̈͐͐̉͛̓͛͌͝~̴̱̝̩̯͔̣̱͙͉̘̦̗̉͛̌̾̓̄͑̈̇̾͌̏~̴̦̱͈̰͍͉̜̪͍͚̈̐͊̐͠͝ͅ~̴̰̣͈̲̹̯̬̦̰͇̲̺̐̐̈́̑͊̉̓̓̋̌͋̓̈́͗̉ͅ~̶̢̞̤͌̉̌̔̇̂̈́̋̓̕̚͠͝~̷̟̔͛̆̿̍̾̋̔͗̏̅͑͋̄̕~̷̡̛̱͙̮̝̠̻͉̮̣̰̺͙̗̉͑̏̿̊̎͊͊͆͐̂͋̊̿̚͝ͅ~̷̨̡̝̤͚̯̟̪̉

 

They are enemies when Ms. Holloway is once again staring down the wrong end of a black blade, held by a man covered in denim, before gaining the upper hand and shoving the black blade into his heart, mourning the man who she once had considered her best friend.

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Paul Matthews could hear things that others couldn’t.

When he was younger, he was constantly surrounded by them. Mostly, it was music, but sometimes he’d hear whispered voices. And he didn’t like it. It always was too much, too loud, and he always wanted to drown it out. So that’s what he did. He pushed them down, ignored them, pretended they weren’t there. As he pushed harder, the music tried to force its way into his dreams, but he only pushed harder to keep it out. And it worked for the most part. As he grew older, he heard it less and less, until he couldn’t anymore, and he almost forgot about the voices.

He also got feelings. He had a bad feeling about today. He had a feeling something sinister was infecting Hatchetfield. That Wiggly commercial not only annoyed him but gave him a bad feeling. Maybe it was the fact that someone had died on the Tearjerker roller coaster years ago, but Watcher World gave him a bad feeling. He had a bad feeling when he got up today, as he made his way to work before spotting someone wearing his face.

He didn’t like the feelings he got, especially since most of them weren’t good. At times, he wonders if he should pay attention to these feelings and act on them. If he had, maybe he would’ve grabbed Emma and left the town the moment he heard a note come from that Greenpeace Girl’s mouth and he wouldn’t have to watch all of his friends die one by one before he too succumbed to the hive.

Maybe he would’ve begged Emma to grab her family and get them to run away, and though he logically knows nuclear bombs have a huge radius, he can’t help but wonder what would’ve happened if they had all driven nonstop since 6:30.

Maybe he would’ve recommended that Bill spend his daddy-daughter weekend somewhere else, anywhere else, maybe then he wouldn’t have to walk into work on Monday to find his best friend wearing a haunted expression that just didn’t fit his face.

Maybe he would’ve taken a different route to work that day and he wouldn’t have run into the knife-wielding doppelganger that took his life, both literally and figuratively.

But those are all maybes, and he never acts on them, leaving him wondering only once it's too late whether he should’ve listened to the whispers, to the feelings, to his powers. The powers that maybe he should stop pretending don’t exist.

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The Witchwood’s was a dense, dark forest, taking a large portion of the island of Hatchetfield. It had bordered the trailer Hannah Foster called home all her life, and only seemed to add to the whispers that filled her life.

And for once, she’s not the only one who seems to hear them. Others who have visited the Witchwood’s would come out with a carefully covered haunted expression on their faces, however, no one ever explains what happens inside.

Maybe they encountered the infamous Hatchetfield Ape-Man, rumored to roam the Witchwood, as big as six feet tall, with sharp teeth, stories ranging from a friendly cryptid who saved the British duchess year ago, to a ravaging beast, ready to feast on anyone who comes across it.

Perhaps they encountered Lumberaxe the Mad Woodsman, the lumberjack who snapped one day and rampaged through the nearby Abstinence Camp with his ax years ago, killing 20 counselors and campers before disappearing into the woods, never to be seen again.

Or they came across the spirit of Willabella Muckwab the Muck Witch, a woman accused of witchcraft and executed the year of the town's founding in 1824, claiming to hear whispers about the “lords” and her “kings” that she had worshiped all those centuries ago.

Either way, people tend to avoid the woods and tend to stay away, especially when the wind whistles through the trees in a way that almost seems to form words.

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Lex Foster was 5 years old when she was no longer an only child.

Lex Foster was 7 years old when she came home to find her sister crying and her mother passed out drunk on the couch.

Lex Foster was 10 years old when she first heard about her sister’s imaginary friend, a spider named Webby, who would sing her songs at night and make her feel better.

Lex Foster was 11 years old when she started hearing the things people were calling her sister. Words and accusations were tossed around by students, snobby parents, and even a teacher, who may have been later reprimanded by the principal, but the damage was done.

Lex Foster is 12 years old when a boy in a too big leather jacket comes up to her and introduces himself to her as Ethan

A few weeks later, Ethan asks why Lex is always rushing to the elementary school to pick up her sister, and she explains how all the kids tease her, and she doesn’t want Hannah to be there longer than she has to.

Ethan offers for Hannah to come to his dad’s body shop after school, which is practically right across the street, and Lex looks like a huge weight was just lifted off her shoulders.

After school, Lex introduces Ethan to Hannah, and she’s shy, practically hiding behind Lex at first, before coming out and saying, “Webby says he’s good. Seems nice.”

When Ethan asked who Webby is, Hannah simply replied, “A spider. She tells me things.”

“Well, I’m glad Webby approves,” Ethan said with a smile.

Lex Foster is 14 years old when she and Ethan are finally in an official relationship and she couldn’t be happier. But then she came home to a broken beer bottle, tears, a bloody lip, and words and slurs being thrown by her mother, she could only see red while trying to help Hannah clean up her lip and tears. Later that night while Hannah is sleeping, Lex pulls out a map and starts to make a plan. They’re getting out of Hatchetfield.

Lex Foster is 16 when her mom demands that she gets a job and she applies for ToyZone. She gets the job and helps pay the bills they’ve been struggling to afford, while also setting some aside in a hidden drawer marked California.

Lex Foster is 17 when her favorite teacher, Mr. Houston, quits and the school cancels shop class, the only good thing about school. She drops out soon after and decides it's better this way anyways, now she can focus more on Hannah and getting money to get out of Hatchetfield.

Lex Foster is 18 when she thinks they finally have enough to leave Hatchetfield and set out to California together but don’t get very far due to the nuke that drops later that day.

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Ted screams, and screams and screams, his mind completely shattered by the golden box in his hand. For 15 years he wanders the streets of Hatchetfield, alone and broken, sometimes crying or screaming in alleyways at night.

But then he’s confronted by Paul and Emma, and his life is cut short. And while his body lay dead and bleeding in the alley, his spirit falls down, down, down, making its way into the Bastard’s Box before he stops.

He’s reached the bottom and it's suffocating. A kind of darkness that surrounds him that seems all-encompassing yet still with a gilded tint. Before he has any chance to adjust to his surroundings, he hears them.

The screams, the cries, the pleas from every person that ever was, is, or ever will be, from all the different timelines that ever existed.

He can even see some things too in the box, his eyes forced to bear witness to horrors he can’t even describe, his eyes reflecting the blue and red that seemed to occupy the most time in this disturbing footage

And it's loud. And overwhelming. So he screams back and screws his eyes shut, hoping to drown out the torture, but Tinky only laughs, causing him to scream even louder, despite knowing that would do nothing. Tinky gets bored and leaves fairly quickly, leaving Ted by himself, left with nothing but his screams and pleads, along with the screams and cries of all those that surround him and will continue to surround him for all of eternity.

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“We need to run Emma, don’t look back, just run!” Paul yells, before tugging her out of the coffee shop and towards a thin alleyway before Emma wondered if this was the right way, it seemed too narrow after all.

He pauses his running. She’s right. He has a feeling that won’t work out. He also has a feeling it’d be smart to get out of Hatchetfield altogether.

He paces a few turns, muttering, “Ok, ok...ok, ok!” He turns towards Emma and indicates to the Beanies parking lot and asks, “Which car is yours?”

“What?”

“We need to get out of Hatchetfield, it’s not safe anymore, and I have a feeling the bridge to the mainland isn’t gonna stay open long, we should try and get over while we still can.”

Emma nodded, still reeling from what she saw, and led Paul to her car before sliding into the driver’s seat and driving off towards the Nantucket Bridge. As they approached the bridge, however, they started seeing flashing lights and the bars started lowering to prevent cars from passing onto the bridge and leaving the island.

Both seemed to notice the lights at the same time, and Emma immediately started speeding up, and zoomed right past the gate and the split in the bridge, clearing her way right into Clivesdale.

As they pulled into a nearby parking lot with a view of Hatchetfield, they both blew out a sigh of relief as they stared at the now completely raised bridge, relieved to be out of that. So then why did Paul feel as if that did nothing? As if the raised bridge wasn’t going to do anything at all?

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She’s not a monster, like they all said, ok?

That word was tossed around a lot to describe her, along with “witch,” though at least that was accurate.

Sure she killed those kids, but that was to make her Book, to please and praise her lords. That didn’t make her a monster, it made her loyal and faithful to her masters.

Those who accused her of being a monster weren’t too happy about that though. They found her and dragged her to the town square and shoved her head through that noose and the judge read to her the crimes she had supposedly committed. As the judge continued, she only had eyes for one thing: her Book, the Black Book, that was sitting on a pile of dry sticks and hay, with plans to have it burned, but she couldn’t let that happen. That was her life’s work of spells and research and worship about to be destroyed.

So while the judge yelled his words in satisfaction, she whispered her words in a tongue completely foreign to the Ungifted. Words that would keep her Book safe from harm, and tether her soul to the Book. So when the noose was pulled taut, and her last breath was taken, her body may have perished, but her spirit lived on, wandering through the Witchwood Forest for centuries, waiting to accumulate enough power to come back, to finish her work.

And then the opportunity came by the name of Hannah Foster. A psychic girl who was the most powerful she’d seen in centuries. And when her connection was cut off from that pesky spider, she knew the time was right to get her power back and worship her Lords.

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Being pulled into the Black and White is not a pleasant sensation, no matter who you are, no matter how powerful you are.

Any human who steps through is twisted and turned and pulled and pushed and tied and broken and put back together before being spit back into the infinite suffocating darkness feeling hot and cold and nauseous while taking gasping breaths.

Those with protection, including a protective suit or a magical spider’s webbing, don’t feel it to the same degree as those going in by themselves though and are often the ones to make it out okay.

But those without protection feel the full horrible twisting effects, and never come back the same, if at all.

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Emma Perkins didn’t really think about the future. It was kind of daunting to be completely honest, and planning for the future reminded her too much of her sister, who she definitely was not.

Besides, it was more fun to be spontaneous. It meant she didn’t worry as much about how much she spent on each hiking trip.

It was why she could never keep a relationship for very long. The further into a relationship she got, the more it felt like she was suffocating, and there was a constant ball and chain on her ankle, following her around. Every time someone indicated they wanted to take the next step, she panicked and backed out.

That is until she met Paul. The more time she spent with him, the happier it seemed she was, and the further their relationship progressed, she realized she wasn’t terrified for the future, she was excited about it. She didn’t feel heavier around him, she felt lighter. She found herself spending time thinking about her future, and especially one with Paul, something she never thought she’d do.

And with him, maybe the future wasn’t so bad.

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Do you all see?

Do you all hear?

Do you all know?

Tomorrow will come.

Tomorrow won’t come.

No, tomorrow always comes, even without us.

Tomorrow will come today.

Is there a tomorrow?

Will she be here tomorrow?

She’s surrounded by people, old and new.

Will they be here tomorrow?

Tomorrow’s almost here.

Tomorrow’s coming.

The night is being taken away.

She can see the memories of blue and yellow and purple.

She can hear it.

The ticking.

The woosh.

She looks up.

What if tomorrow-?

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“That usually works,” Cross noted, watching the green flames protruding from his finger lick around the journal, but never actually touching or burning it with a hidden fury.

There was only one thing that could stop this fire, the green fire gifted by the green Lord, the fire with the power to burn whole cities in seconds, and that was magic of equal power. Magic powerful enough to rival the Lord’s.

His first thought was Holloway. He never quite understood what her limits were and weren’t, and she had always been a thorn in his side, interfering in things she shouldn’t, but she looked just as confused as he felt. Either she took acting classes in the afterlife or there was something or someone else at play.

After exchanging confused words, a new set of flames were set on the journal, and they weren’t his. These flames, purple this time, overcame the journal in his hand and the other two on the bed, growing brighter and brighter before flickering out and taking the journals with them.

Ah.

So he’s dealing with someone new. New magic. Bit embarrassing, but he could work with this. It just warranted a change of plans.

As he passed through the wall away from the confused group of refugees, a twisted smile grew on his face. So they wanted to fight fire with fire huh? Alright then. There’s plenty more where that came from.

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Webby was good.

She sang Hannah lullabies when she was younger to help her fall asleep.

She whispered placating reassurances when her mother was drunk.

She warned Hannah if today was going to be a good day or a bad day.

She helped to quiet the voices that seemed to come everywhere all the time, overwhelming her.

She guided her in controlling and using her powers

She was a constant friend when Hannah needed one all her life.

Webby was good.

But then why was she acting odd lately? It was a barely perceptible change in attitude and personality, but Hannah had always been an observant person.

But she was still good.

But time passes, and she’s not 100% sure of that fact anymore. Webby isn’t around much anymore, and the time she is there is often filled with learning new tricks and abilities with her powers.

And it’s when she’s staring up at the being she had once called her friend, who has her sister pinned to a wall with webs and forcing her hand to do something she unknowingly trained for her whole life that she’s met with a sad realization- Webby is not good.

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Evil was something deeply rooted in Hatchetfield. Something that had encompassed the town since its founding with the execution of Willabella Muckwab, and seemed to spread throughout ever since.

After all, how could it not be, when so often the town is terrorized by the infamous Lords in Black, five beings who think of this tiny town as nothing more than a fun playground, and the people as toys or playthings to do with as they please?

There was the Singular Voice, intending to silence any voice that isn’t his, picking his leading everyman to take charge of his Hive.

There was the Lord in Black, using a chosen prophet and a vessel filled with his essence to bend the people of the world to his will before ultimately destroying it.

There was the Watcher With A Thousand Eyes, who took great pleasure in driving a wedge between loved ones and watching them fight each other, most times to the death.

There was the Bastard of Time and Space, who loved messing around with timelines but especially loved playing with his favorite Teddy Bear, who fell for it every single time.

There was the One Who Feasts in the Dark, the one that’s known the least about, except for the fact that he needs to eat.

Then there was the Spider, the sister to the Lords. She was the exception though, she wasn’t evil.

Right?

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Hannah Foster’s best friend was a spider.

Most people didn’t believe that she was real, not even her sister, but that was fine. Hannah knew she was real and that was good enough.

She did wonder if anyone else could hear her friend. She knew her sister was like her and was curious as to whether her sister would ever hear the spider as well, with the spider responding with a “maybe,” unsure if she would come into her abilities as Hannah had.

Sometimes her friend wasn’t always a spider. Sometimes she was a woman. Regardless, she was always there for Hannah when she needed her. However, for the longest time, her friend wouldn't tell Hannah her name. She claimed that names have power, and she should be careful who she gives her name to.

It was a few years before Hannah finally got a name for her friend that was there to comfort her at night: Webby.

Webby.

It was a nice name for a spider.

So, whether people believed her or not, her best friend was a spider, even if no one else could see her.

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Duke’s girlfriend was magic, and every time she used it, he was absolutely astounded.

He’s watched her do things that he had only ever seen in movies that he had never thought possible in the real world, yet he watches in awe as she works every single time. He can’t try to explain the things she can do, so he won’t even try.

He first met her on a work assignment helping a kid who was just a bit out of his league of expertise. It was when he watched this mysterious woman work that he realized just how head over heels he was for her. He loved watching how well she worked with kids and helping them with their nightmares that seemed to leave the realm of normal.

Time passes, and Duke finds himself in a relationship with this magical woman, soon learning that the term works for her in both the figurative and literal sense.

Months pass before she gives Duke her first name, claiming that names have power, and she should always be careful. So, Duke turned towards calling her “darlin’” instead, a personal favorite of his, since it always seems to make her blush.

Through her, Duke learned about the secrets that Hatchetfield contained, including the many magical threats against the town and herself. She had once tried to warn him that being with her meant that he had a target on his back now from all the threats that she had to face. He had then let her know without a shadow of a doubt that he didn’t care, as long as was with her (God, he loved making her blush).

So, this was how he knew that whatever Hannah Foster was going through, this was not something he could help her with on his own. She needed help with magic, and he knew just the person to help with this.

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Inevitable.

The word echoed around her repeatedly and incessantly, sung by the undead Hive dancing and chasing around her, and she ran, she tried to run, but she couldn’t go far because of her leg, god her leg, it hurt, it hurt so much, still aching from the surgery, each step sending off a new wave of pain through her body, and she tried to go faster but that only seemed to make the bandages and stitches come undone, and it all seemed to be for naught anyway, she wasn’t in the hospital anymore somehow, and wherever she was, it was just one big loop that she couldn’t seem to escape from.

What seemed to horrify her more was that wherever she had been brought to, it seemed almost like a stage, and as she stared out, she found an audience Watching her, staring at her with vacant purple eyes, and a plastered on smile. Hoping to get their attention, she yelled and screamed, trying to get their attention to help her, but they only continued to applaud, ignoring her pleas for help, and soon something else hurt, and it was her throat from calling out as loud and insistent as she could.

As she looked closer, it almost looked like the people in the audience wasn’t human, but some sort of weird purple bird-like creatures, and somehow she knew that they too were beyond any kind of help.

And as she’s surrounded by the Hive, feeling them close in, blue goo leaking from every feasible hole, all she could feel was the pain, the hurt that was coursing through her body in waves, before her infection begins, and the hurt fades, replaced by a feeling of peace and a unified song echoing in her mind.

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Lex Foster didn’t believe witches were real. The whole concept of witches and magic as a whole was too fantastical and unrealistic, something for little kids and suckers to hope for.

Hannah did though. She talked about her imaginary friend, who’s a magical spider named Webby, who tells her things and helps her all the time. But it was all just fake, imaginary.

Right?

That’s what she thought until a certain redhead in 80s attire came to their doorstep, and it wasn’t long before she had no choice to believe that this all was real, because how else is she supposed to explain all the things that this stranger, Ms. Holloway, she introduces herself as, can do, hell, that Hannah can do?

And soon, she knows that there’s no other word to describe what she can do, unbelievable as it may seem. And as she finds herself, her sister, and this strange new woman that she’s come to see as more of a mother than her biological mom running from monsters and threats alike, she finds herself growing used to the term witch.

There are witches in this world with unbelievable powers, and this new maternal figure in her life is a witch, and her sister is a witch, and she’s a witch, and sometimes it may be a lot, but she has her family, and that’s okay.

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There were many words and warnings Webby gave Hannah on that infamous Black Friday.

Cross.

Black and White.

Don’t do it.

Two doors, not one.

Some came true, some didn’t (though not all of them came true in front of her).

But the one that haunts her the most is bad blood. At first, it didn’t mean anything. It was just a couple of random, slightly ominous words, in a list of random, slightly ominous words.

But then it came to fruition. It all happened so fast. One second she was talking with Ethan right outside the Cineplex, the next, a couple of crazed shoppers with a green glint in their eyes were barreling towards them, and Ethan was spitting up blood next to her.

And that’s when it clicked. This was the bad blood she was warned about. Over the ringing in her ears, she could hear Ethan shout at her to go to the kiddy tunnel at the play place by Marshalls, and she did, she ran and she ran before hiding herself in the brightly colored play space, and as she sat there curled up, she knew. Even without Webby telling her, she knew.

Ethan was gone, and he wasn’t coming back, the sight of the bad blood burned into her head.

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Dance.

That’s what the Hive commanded him to do.

And so he did.

He danced and he danced, and soon she joined, and she danced too, often with him.

They danced, and often for long periods of time.

He would find his feet and arms sore and bruised, but he couldn't stop dancing or he’d lose the beat, and the Voice wouldn’t like that.

She also had bruises, he noticed. They weren’t just from dancing, but from strings, leading up to the sky, wrapped around her neck and wrists and ankles.

And yet they danced.

They danced their way around the world, spreading their blue song and dance, expanding their ever-growing symphony.

As they continued to dance, their bruises only seemed to grow. It was almost beautiful, a crisscrossing of blacks and blues and purples, dancing across their bodies.

And so they danced.

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Despite the circumstances that led her to become a nurse, Becky really liked her job at St. Damien’s pediatrics wing. She enjoyed working with kids, it was something she found comfort in.

It always made her feel good when she cared for them. Caring for them always left them with a big smile, whether it was patching up an injury, or giving them a lollipop.

But sometimes, she wishes she could receive the same comfort she’s able to give these kids. Someone to give her a hug that makes her feel better, someone to care for her when she feels sad or anxious.

But she hasn’t had someone like that in forever. She’s lived by herself for almost a year now, and before that- well, Becky doesn’t like to think about that.

But then, when she goes to visit ToyZone one day, to get some new toys for the kids she cares for, she runs into him again, after all these years.

Tom Houston.

They spotted each other. They stopped. They talked. They got lunch together. They started getting together more often. Tom introduced her to Tim. Tim loved her. She loved Tim.

And so Becky found solace and comfort in this little family she’s now a part of, always willing to care for them, but extremely happy now that she can receive care now as well.

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Alien.

That was the only word that could be used to describe what had crashed into the Starlight theater and had spread throughout town, infecting people. After all, how else would you describe something that came crashing from outer space and seemed to be sentient but alien?

But is it though? He supposes this thing is alien in the sense that this being is from a different world, but could you categorize where this Hive came from as a different world? It was alien in the sense that it was from another dimension, but that’s not part of the typical definition of alien.

So after 30 years of waiting, alien is simply the best word he can think of to describe the thing that’s infecting the town.

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There are many dimensions in this world, each inhabiting different people, different events, different creatures, each of them attempted to be studied by PIEP.

 

Most of their research went into the dimension known as the Black and White. An infinite dimension that’s full of creatures with god-like abilities and the source of power for a few residents in the tiny town of Hatchetfield. This was also the dimension they had the easiest access to, the others proved to be more of a challenge.

There was one dimension where they could hear distant singing and all they could see was blue. Another they could hear the chanting of a cult, and all they could see was green fur.

However, there was one dimension just out of their reach that they knew nothing about, save for one word that sounded like utter gibberish: Dikrats. The only person who got close to this dimension was Colonel Cross, and by the time he got anything he was too far gone, too loyal to the forces within the Black and White to give them anything, the only indication of his travels being a small collection of pins on his jean jacket, including a cartoonish style head of a white man with dark hair, and a purple flag with the green letters SK, neither of which PIEP could make head nor tail of.

They had tried to decipher and unscramble the word Dikrats but came up with nothing of any importance. The closest they got was spelling it backward, creating the word Starkid, perhaps the SK abbreviation on Cross’s jacket, but no one could seem to figure out what Starkid is, or what it represents.

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Lex Foster loved her family. Not her blood related-defined-by-the-dictionary family, she hadn’t given her father a single thought in years since he left her when she was little, and her mother was so neglectful she wondered if she’d even notice once Lex left.

No, Lex was referring to the family she had found. Her sister, Hannah, whom she had loved the moment she laid eyes on her, and her boyfriend, Ethan, who was always by her side through thick and thin.

And as time went on, she found herself, to her surprise, adding more people to this little family of hers.

There was Mr. Houston, who was the only one at school who gave any indication that he cared about her at all, while everyone else seemed to not care, or give up on her.

There was Ms. Holloway, a woman who had come into her life more recently, and helped her and Hannah in something she had never thought would be possible, let alone something she could do and would need help with.

These may not be the people that would conventionally be considered her family, but she loved them all anyway.

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Hannah Foster is a child. A kid. A young teen.

So why in the world did it feel like she was the one who was always being targeted by these malevolent beings in both her dreams and real life? She knew why, of course, but that right there is the problem isn’t it? That she knows things, knows things, can hear things, can do things that others can’t, which led her to be the target of something at least once each timeline.

Most of the time, she was scared of these beings, terrified of the power they had, and what they could do, but sometimes she was just angry. Why had fate bestowed such immense power on her, a child, someone who shouldn’t have to deal with anything remotely like this?

Plus, it felt like too often she couldn’t even use these powers to help people. She either didn’t get enough information, giving it out in vague lines that helped no one, or she got too much information, and she got overwhelmed trying to decipher it all, and once again couldn’t help anyone. What good was having all these powers if all she got was the bad guys chasing her down and couldn’t help anyone with them?

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Power. It was an interesting thing. There were lots of different types of power in Hatchetfield, and different people who hold it.

There was the societal power, held by the rich and powerful, like the Monroes, often able to buy their way in and out of anything.

There was the governmental power, though no one had that good of an idea of who exactly was in office, yet it never seemed to bother anyone.

There was the economic power, held by the shady tech conglomerate of CCRP, who, despite being a major tech company, didn’t have any other branches outside of Hatchetfield.

There was the unknown power, held by a select few in Hatchetfield who had been hand-picked by the Lords, though those chosen often didn’t know it.

Then there was the magical power. The kind held by witches, those who had the Gift in them. Not all of them knew they had the Gift, but it was said that these individuals are the most powerful in Hatchetfield.

Chapter Text

The lights on the attractions of Watcher World twinkled in the evening light as the sunset, lighting up the dimming sky, reflecting off the plastic eye of the Blinky doll that Bill held aloft in the air, announcing how he won this for his daughter. She didn’t care. She never did. Ungrateful brat.

Too often, he was always bending over backward trying to help her and do everything for her, but for once she was going to do something for him.

It didn’t matter what she wanted. She wouldn’t win this time. They were going to sit down and ride some rides, watch the fireworks, and they were going to have a good time, whether she wanted to or not.

He glared his now purple eyes at his daughter, who was pointing the barrel of a gun right at him. His attention was so focused on her he failed the maniac purple glint in the eyes of everyone else in Watcher World, encouraging him, and he listened to them, he chased her through the park, determined to take her to the show, determined to keep his little girl with him forever.

But then he made his way to the Hall of Mirrors, and the light reflecting off the mirrors showed him something. It was Alice. She was having a panic attack.

Wait a minute. This wasn’t right. This isn’t what he wanted. Another look in the mirror showed glowing purple eyes and himself with a mallet raised over his scared daughter.

He lowered the mallet. She wasn’t supposed to be scared, let alone of him, and she wasn’t supposed to be having a panic attack.

He knelt down to comfort his daughter, the mallet all but forgotten, but the lights dimmed. Blinky didn’t like that. He made Blinky mad, and now he had to pay the price.

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Past. It was an interesting thing for Ms. Holloway. She was never quite sure what to answer when someone asked about her past. It was quite checkered, and she didn’t always remember what to answer.

She’s lived in multiple decades, and sometimes they get mixed up, leaving her at a loss for what would be considered a normal past.

She’s had a past in the ’80s, as a pop singer that she made sure the world forgot.

She’s had a past in the Black and White, who knows how much time spent there, oftentimes fighting the malevolent forces within.

Some of that past she even regrets, between what happened to those three girls, and knowing she can only call herself a good witch most of the time.

But, she decided, her past didn’t matter as long as she could appreciate and love what she had in the present.