I gotta say, taking all of these together- if there was some kinda universe in which all these MCs existed at the exact same time solely for the purpose of a Halloween party… it’d be one wild Halloween party.
Hello! So, uh, fun fact. I read a short story about… oh, an hour and a half ago or so I want to say. I thought it was a pretty good post-apocalyptic-ish horror story with some very good writing about manipulation and self-sacrifice…
Then I read the author’s afterward, and it stated that it was supposed to be a story about love and freedom of choice, and this made me very upset and confused. Granted, I’ll let the author be what it wants to be, but I thought that if it was a love story, then it was a very bad love story. And it made me sad, knowing that. So because I was sad, I wanted to write something happy and uplifting and, y’know, not manipulative and something that would make me feel icky afterwards.
This was the result of that wish
It was nice to be out of Nickelport for once- the sun was unobscured by tall buildings and instead shone freely over rolling hills of green grass, broken only by the occasional flowering tree and leaving mosaic-shadows over the ground. There was something very calming about it all and calmness was a rare, precious commodity in the concrete jungle. Especially with such a rowdy crowd as this.
“Thought you might want this,” You blink open your eyes, a little peeved to be pulled back from the gentle grasp of sleep, but the offense is quickly forgiven with the offering of a cool, lemony, hand-pressed beverage. You accept the lemonade with a quiet chirp of thanks, swinging yourself upright and taking a long sip- not too sweet, not too sour, and pleanty flavorful. The perfect drink for a sunny day.
“Dang, this is good.” You remark quietly as Finley flops down beside you, cradling their own small lemonade which is- like yours- contained in a reusable water bottle. “You make them?”
Finley gives you the kinda look that asks whether or not you’d serious believe them capable of making such a thing, “Eileen brought them, of course. Apparently she made a trip to the farmer’s market over the weekend,” They gesture almost haphazardly with the open bottle, but surprisingly none of the precious lemonade spills, “Saw some lemons, remembered the picnic… bam!” They hold up the bottle, “Lemonade.”
“Hey, I’m not complaining,” You clink your makeshift glas against theirs, then take another swig- yep. Definitely perfect for a day like today.
“Who would?” Finley snorts over their drink, they stand up then, one hand in their pocket as they nod down the hill where some of the others have congregated. “I’mma go ahead and check back with the others.”
You stare down the hill, from the distance you can just barely make out the blurry figure of Lucy sprinting down the field, Jacob hot at her heels as a frisbee flies above the two of them- Eileen cheering something, bouncing excitedly from further down the field. “Never took you to be the sporty type, Finn.”
A laughing bark, arm swinging out to the side as if to highlight their lanky frame, “Oh, definitely, I’m obviously just dripping with athletic potential.” A sigh, “Nah, I lost a bet. Needed someone else for the second team-”
“What happened to V?”
Finley bites their lower lip and shrugs, “Whaddaya think?”
You barely have to blink before the answer comes to you, “They tried to cheat, again, didn’t they?”
“Ding-ding, we have a winner.” Finley smirks, “They’re probably still sulking over it. Anyway, it came down to that Informant guy and myself… We flipped a coin, I picked tails.”
“Ah,” You set your drink beside you, hands interlinking underneath your chin as you grin, “See, Finn, therein lies your mistake- always pick heads.”
“Right. I’ll keep that in mind next time,” Finley rolls their eyes, “But, hey, you should come down sometime, play with us.”
“You just want me to take your place.”
“I admit to nothing.”
“Uh-huh,” You shake your head and lean back on your hands, the grass pricks up- scrunching scratchily between your fingertips. “Try not to have too much fun.”
“Easier said than done.” Finley drawls, waving loosely to you before turning on their heels and trotting down the hill. You crane your neck back and soak up a bit more of the sun, there’s no clouds daring to take it away from you any time soon but you still can’t help but savor every moment of such a nice day. With a temperate wind caressing over your cheeks and the only noise around being happy squeals and shouts and giggles from the group at the bottom of the hill. The picnic seemed like a crazy, ridiculous idea- especially considering how many clashing personalities would be present, but a day this perfect makes you believe that, somehow, it was almost meant to be.
With some reluctance you manage to pull yourself from your spot on the grass, dusting off green stains with lemonade in hand as you watch the frisbee game grow one player, by Lucy’s enthusiastic clap on Finley’s shoulder you’d guess that they’re on her team. You can’t quite tell who won the last round- or if they’re even keeping points or, heck, playing any well-known game or just winging it- but they already seem gearing up for a new go at it, with Lucy clutching the frisbee tightly, Eileen and Jacob both looking ready to sprint for it and, for all their groaning about it, even Finley’s stance is focused and ready. Then Lucy sends it flying through the air- and the frisbee makes a high arc until it becomes but a black blot against the sun- Jacob is the first to take off- already darting in a full sprint after it while Finley seems to be waiting- gauging where it might land, and Eileen tries to circle around towards the other end of the disc. Leaving them to their game, you turn and head up the hill- where a large oak tree, one of the few non-flowering trees in the park, leaves a small patch of well-stitched-together shade for the others to sit. You can practically smell the picnic from here. Indeed, all of it is lain out on a mess of multicolored blankets, with the others spread around nearby. Raf spots you first, a little ways away still preparing a couple of the other foods with a grill he’d brought along. He gives you a wide grin and a wave, which you happily return, mouthing ‘smells good’ as you pass by. Raf’s smile only grows wider the compliment, returning a wordless ‘thanks’ before turning back to his concoction of great-smelling hot dogs. Ricky sits in the shade cross-legged, sunglasses pushed to his head as he focuses intently on the book in his lap- or, rather, intently tries to ignore V… whose chattering he’s left mostly to the Informant, whose own irritation is visible even behind the dark sunglasses he continues to insist to wear as he leans up against the tree, cradled by the roots. V has… Well, V has apparently climbed the tree. With their legs swinging over the Informant as they lean back against a high branch. They momentarily stop in their one-sided conversation when you approach, face splitting into a wide, sly smile.
“How lovely of you to join us!” They scoot forward, the branch dipping dangerously beneath them- Informant spares it a glance, decides that it’s not in danger of crashing down on him, and goes back to resting his head against the tree. “While our lovely enigmatic mystery man here has been such… charming company, I’ve so missed actual conversation. Come, sit, talk!” They wave you over to their branch- which already barely looks like it can only just hold their weight. And no matter how unconcerned they are with that fact, you’d rather… not get injured on your day off.
“Uhh… I think I’m good, thanks for the invitation, though.” You glance around the group, “Where’s Yolanda?”
“Waltz is over there,” Ricky glances up from his book and nods to the left, “She got tired of the shade- or so she says.” His gaze slides over towards V, who appears to be debating whether or not they could climb even higher without horribly injuring themself… Or, well, whether or not they could climb any higher, at least.
“Awesome, thanks.” You trot down to the other side of the hill, where, sure enough, Yolanda sits with a sunbathing reflector held against her chest as she lounges- dark, wide-framed sunglasses across her face and high heels placed neatly beside her own, personal blanket. She twists her head to glance up at your arrival, red lips pulling back into a wide grin when she sees you.
“Ah, welcome, I see you’ve come to take a peek at my small slice of paradise, no? Here, come, sit with me.” She scoots to the side, folding the reflector and placing it next to her shoes as she pats the space behind her. Recalling your previous almost-nap, the offer is hard to refuse.
“Don’t mind if I do.” You flop down rather ungracefully next to Yolanda, who has folded her hands behind her elegantly braided-up hair. The fabric of the blanket is soft against your arms, making the prickles of the grass little more than massaging lumps against your back. You let out a wide yawn, only just barely remembering it to cover it with your hand before Yolanda chuckles slightly.
“Don’t fall asleep quite yet, lest you’ll miss the picnic.” She warns.
A tired, drunken, “Will do,” just manages to slip out of your mouth before the world starts to fade to darkness. You hear Yolanda laugh once more, a lilting, bird-like sound.
“Well,” Her voice seems as if it’s slipping through a misty haze, wavering and not quite there, “I suppose one of us will simply have to wake you up.”
“Mmmhmm.” You mumble, the sun glimmers in the edge of your vision, a deep blue sky arcing above you- the sounds of laughter and chatter all behind you. Before, finally, it all seems to just… slip away.
I feel better now.
(Obviously none of this is ‘canon’, but y’know, I wanted to feel happy instead of… horrified.)