Black and White and Red All Over

Content warnings: Torture, blood, sadomasochism, graphic violence, sexual themes, dubcon.

 

BLACK AND WHITE AND RED ALL OVER
or:
NARCISSUS BECOMES THE MARIGOLD
or:
PUPPY-LOVE AND DOG-EAT-DOG
or:
ZEBRA’S MANY MISTAKES, THEIR COSTS, AND THE PAYMENTS THEREOF
or:
HOW I STOPPED WORRYING AND LEARNED TO LOVE THE KNIFE
 
~*~

 

There was something about Hyde that kept him on Zebra’s mind well after the whole body-swap nightmare was cleared up. Something about the way Hyde looked at him when Zebra asked after his business, something that said Hyde was a man who would fight back.

Zebra did like it when they fought back.

For weeks, he found himself in idle thought, thinking about doing pleasantly unpleasant things to the questionably British man. He had never thought about anybody for weeks, before. He had always been far too fickle for that.

But a month passed, and then two, and he was still thinking about Hyde. There was something about him, yes. Something about the way he carried himself, about the way he dressed, about his pale skin and long hair and serious, yet quietly amused demeanour. About the suspicious package he’d come into and left the shop with.

They were kindred spirits, Zebra knew. They belonged together. Together, until one of them destroyed the other.
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Where She’ll Never Be Found – IV

 

A familiar face ran into him as he left the bar: Harry Wilhelm, on his way in.

“Mr. Rollins!” he said, too happy to see Zebra. His grin cut across his narrow face like an open wound, and the fangs his enthusiasm put on display combined with his red eyes and pointed ears to betray vampiric heritage. His carrot-like hair, kept short and neat under his fedora, betrayed something else in his blood. No proper vampire was ever a ginger.

He’d gotten a head start at home, or another bar, by the smell of him.

“What are you doing all the way out here in the city?” he asked.

“Looking for someone.”

“Ms. Jones?” His expression shifted to one of concern. “Is she alright?”

“She’s missing.”

“Oh, I’m sorry.”

Zebra waved him off. “Don’t be. It’ll be fine.”

“Can I help at all?”

“Do you know where she is?”

“Well, no, but—”

“Then I don’t know how you could help,” Zebra said, fishing his phone out of his pocket.
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Where She’ll Never Be Found – III

 

He was sure she had been there, but there weren’t any other people on the street aside from him, and there weren’t any doors nearby she could have slipped into. A brick wall stretched away from him in both directions, spotted with dark windows and unmarred by either door or alley.

Was it some kind of decoy? Had Sor known she was being followed?

Well, whatever it was, that was his only lead gone. He considered giving up and going home, but if he called for a rideshare now, he might get Kendrick again, and he wasn’t in the mood for another encounter with him just yet. He might even give Kendrick a one-star rating, prevent him from accepting any of Zebra’s requests ever again. And, as a bonus, that would damage his current five-star rating, which would be a small portion of the punishment Kendrick deserved for annoying him.

It was something to think about, anyway. At the very least, Kendrick wasn’t getting a tip for this particular ride.
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Swap, pt. 5

 

Zebra was dying.

At least, that’s what it felt like. A hot, sick feeling sat just below his ribs and spread like fire up his spine and into his throat. He hunched around the feeling. Held himself, fingers digging into his upper arms. His sinuses and his eyes burned, and he found himself trying not to cry.

Only, none of that was really his. It was Sor’s guts that felt too heavy, Sor’s sinuses that felt too raw. Her tears, too, in all likelihood. Blurring his vision. Sticking her eyelashes together.

And her magic, curling around his heart and dragging spindly legs over his lungs.

This was worse than any injury he’d ever had to endure. He had to have been bleeding internally. Ruptured something important. Developed spontaneous, stage-four magic-cancer.

He had to be dying. It was the only explanation.
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Where She’ll Never Be Found – II

 

Sor’s shop was closed, and locked, and there wasn’t a bell. Zebra did knock, but that only made the glass door rattle in a way that he knew would not carry well through the rest of the building — though, even a wooden door would have trouble announcing visitors to the fifth floor, or the sub-basement Zebra knew was lurking beneath the building.

He stalked around the front, not sure what he was looking for. Katters, maybe, passed out on Sor’s lawn like a drunken idiot. It had been a while since she’d last gone on a bender, perhaps she was due.

If Katters had dragged him out here because she’d been drinking more than she could handle, again, he was going to kill her.
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Where She’ll Never Be Found – I

It took Zebra a week to notice Katters was missing.

Well, no. He noticed immediately, or near enough. It was odd, that she didn’t come home that first night, that her bed remained empty clear through to the following morning. Odd that she skipped work the next day, and the day after, and the day after. Odd that she didn’t take her turns in the basement.

But it didn’t sink in that she was gone gone, not until a week had passed.

It took another week for him to decide to do anything about it.
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Russian Roulette

Director’s Commentary
Content Warnings: Torture (emotional, physical), blood, graphic violence.   

This story is set in 2011.

 

“Kaa-atters!”

Zebra’s voice carried, sing-song, through the house, and Katters considered jumping out a window.

Zebra had been bored, lately, and he acted that frustration out in ways that usually ended poorly for her. Whatever he had cooking this time, she wanted no part of it — but before she could even leave the bed, he was at the door.

“There you are.”

“I’m reading.” She held her book up before obstinately settling herself against the headboard.

He walked into the room with the confidence of a pick-up artist on a bus and sat himself on the end of the bed. He had a plastic bag with him, and he let that hang between his knees.

“I want to play a game,” he said, cheerfully.
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Something About a House – III: Dinner

 

They found a restaurant just inside of town. A family diner with an unfamiliar name and a full parking lot. Zebra went inside to wait for a table, leaving Katters standing by the car and smoking her fourth cigarette since they’d left the house.

She’d finally calmed down. Settled into a moody silence. But there was no telling how she’d react when they went back.
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Something About a House – II: Mercy

 

Leaving the house was cheating. Not technically — there were no actual rules to mercy, except that you stopped trying to kill your opponent when they cried “mercy” — but if Zebra had found Katters out here, sitting on the hood of the car, he would have cried “foul” first. And he knew she would have done the same, if she’d found him.

But cheating is only cheating if you get caught.

He sat on the hood of their rented, puke-green four-door and stared up at the house. In the interest of not getting caught, he needed to kill time until he was sure she was far away from the foyer, so she wouldn’t see him sneak back inside.

He did like the house. He almost wanted to keep it, but it would never be worth the hassle or the expense of owning a second home in a different country. It was too far away to be convenient, too close to be exotic.

But what he really wanted was to know why it was his now, in the first place.

It wasn’t a mystery why Great-Uncle Anthony hadn’t left it to any of his many, more-deserving relatives. Great-Uncle Anthony was even more of a black sheep than Zebra was, and had been pushed away from the family when Zebra was very young. But that was just it. Zebra barely remembered the man. He had never been invited to the house for a holiday, had no fond memories of bonding with his great-uncle over whatever it was people did for fun in Bayhedge. Had no fond memories of his great-uncle at all.

Why had the house been left to anyone? Why hadn’t Great-Uncle Anthony died in as much familial obscurity as he had lived, and let the house go to the bank, or whatever friends he’d gathered in his old age?

It was time to go back inside. If he waited too long, Katters would loop back around to the foyer, and he’d be stuck out there until she went back upstairs again. And his butt was getting cold.

He slid down from the hood of the car, dusted off the seat of his slacks, and crept up the porch steps. He kept his hand in his pocket, on the derringer he’d stolen from Katters’ luggage. Continue reading

Something About a House – I: The House

Gravel crunched under-tire as Katters and Zebra neared the end of their road-trip. It had taken ten hours of almost constant driving, but they’d made it to Bayhedge.

They were not in the quaint, seaside town they’d envisioned. Instead, Zebra drove them through a dense, uninhabited wood, over a side-road that twisted dangerously through the fog. His new property did not coexist with the rest of Bayhedge so much as sit above it, looking down on the city like a gargoyle.

He could not tell at what point, exactly, the gravel road turned into a gravel driveway. The trees, which could sometimes be spotted looming in through the fog, dwindled in frequency until the car was left alone with the road and a flat wall of grey. Here, all sound seemed to disappear — even the tires sounded distant, as though the entire world had been swallowed up by the fog and digested into nothing.

Katters lit a cigarette. Her scales and snout were illuminated orange for a moment, then faded back to their normal, brownish colours. “Yeah,” she said, rolling her window down. “This looks like a real fun place to live.” Continue reading