The heart of horror is that bad things happen to good people.
It started as a peaceful day. Nothing out of the ordinary happened to me or Chispa. We simply conducted life as usual, fulfilling orders and doing typical anarchist things. We were curled up beside each other on the couch watching some television on the rare day that we both had nothing to do. Just a boring day. Man, this sucks.
“Hey Ceylon, I think you sleepwalk.” Chispa said as she looked blankly at the television screen, hung upon their walls around photos of the two.
“What makes you say that?” I questioned, interested.
“Last night, you were in my room and looked at me smiling.”
Wait, what? “I think you’re delusional.” I said. I know for a fact that I do not sleepwalk, nor is my room anywhere close to Chispa’s.
“Maybe I was dreaming then,” Chispa pouted.
“Maybe you were dreaming of a giant kitten person!” I exclaimed, jokingly as I made cat ears with my hands above my head meowing. It made her laugh.
As with every day, it soon turned to night. Chispa had fallen asleep, her head against my shoulder. I didn’t want to wake her up, so I shut off the TV and picked her up. She was warm in my arms while I carried her into her room and placed her on the bed.
“Goodnight, Chispa.” I whispered, not wanting to wake her. I placed the cover over her, and as I walked out I looked around the room. Just her imagination, I suppose. The room was clear with the exception of the mess she made with her tinkering. I left the room and headed down the hall to my room. It ended up being a good day afterall.
I heard a scream down the hall in her room. Chispa. “Chispa, are you alright?” I yelled, busting into her room. I looked to where she should be. She was laying in her bed under dark crimson covers. Wait Chispa’s covers are a light pink, not red.
A light-hearted menacing laugh sounded making my heart race. “Who’s there?” I called out, half-way bursting into tears at the sight of my best-friend’s body. I meet eyes with a dark figure in the corner of the room. Their eyes were lifeless. Inhuman. I wanted to scream, but the sound wouldn’t come out. I frantically cut on the lights. The creature was gone. I sighed, relieved and looked down but that was a mistake. Why was I casting two shadows? After all, there was only one light bulb.
“Ceylon, turn around.” A familiar voice said, giving me shivers. It was Chispa’s. I slowly turned and was met with a horrific sight. It was her. At least I wish I could say it was. It’s face was something indescribable except that of a copy of Chispa only more…disturbing. More grotesque, more broken. Her eyes were bleeding and pitch black. But her smile was just as beautiful as usual, bringing me back to reality. I let out a scream, being shook over and over as the thing laughed.
“Ceylon wake up it’s okay. It’s me, Chispa!” I heard her say, voice full of worry. My face was covered in tears. I was squeezing something warm. Ah, that’s right. I was on the couch. My eyes creaked open to meet Chispa’s concerned ones. I was hyperventilating, but slowly calming down, full of relief as I saw she was just fine. My embrace became tighter as I held Chispa against my chest.
“Everything’s okay, Cey.” She said, just letting me hold her. Everything was okay.
"Chispa," Ceylon said, excited, shaking her awake. "Chispa! I've discovered something amazing in this book!"
Chispa pushed Ceylon's chest and attempted to roll over. "Cey, it's like...early." she muttered. "Tell me about the maze in the later."
Ceylon rolled their eyes. "No, not a maze. Something amazing, as in awesome, spectacular, cool, tubular, dank, fleek."
Chispa looked at Ceylon like they had six heads. "What in cyberspace are you saying? Those aren't words."
"They are, just old ones."
"Those stupid books."
"Exactly. Now, come outside! We're going to have a snowball fight!"
Chispa perked up. "A what? I like snow, balls, and fighting."
Ceylon grinned so wide Chispa could see the corners of their mouth above their jacket. "You're gonna love this." They glanced to the side and shrugged. "I mean, i think so. I've never actually done a snowball fight."
"Had. You have fights, not do them."
Ceylon shrugged and stepped back, tugging Chispa's hand.
The two went out through the side door and stepped onto the street. They were greeted by a white city, due to the thick coating of fluffy snow. Chispa exclaimed and clapped her hands. "Oh, it's so pretty in the morning!"
"If only you were capable of waking up before noon!" Ceylon said, and threw a glob of snow at Chispa. It fell apart in the air and drifted over her.
She turned and laughed. "Well it won't be much of a fight if we're just raining snowflakes over one another!
Ceylon's brow furrowed. "The book made it seem much more exciting. The snow should be able to fly through the air as a ball and only fall apart on impact." When Chispa gave them a look they added, "I'm sure of it! The book was very clear!"
Chispa tinkled another laugh and picked up snow in both hands. "Here, let the engineer try," she said, winking. Chispa tilted her head and threw the snow away, picking up snow that was deeper, slightly heavier, and pressed her hands together. Rather than melt, it compacted. "Haha!" She grabbed more and made the ball bigger. Chispa threw the ball at Ceylon as they were attempting to copy her, and it landed on their shoulder as they started to duck.
"This is war!" Ceylon said and threw their half made snowball back. And war erupted, snowballs flying back and forth as deftly as two people who had never thrown them before could manage. Ceylon had a disadvantage at first, but the odds quickly evened out, puffs of snow erupting just as often off of Chispa as off of Ceylon.
Chispa ducked behind a tree and popped back out to deliver another blow, snowball in hand, but Ceylon had moved. She spotted them out of the corner of her eye just as they picked her up from behind and spun around. She twisted out of their grasp and smashed the snowball onto the top of their head. Ceylon gasped and Chispa threw her hands in the air, shouting to no one: "No need to worry anymore citizens, i have vanquished the beast!"
"Excuse you miss I am not a beast. I am a tasteful villain with a troubled past."
"Ah pardon me for not knowing which one of those tropes you go on about is best suited for each situation." She spun back around and clapped her hands. "Ooo Ceylon I forgot! I have a surprise for you, too!" She ran inside and skipped back out moments later, carrying a rectangular machine. She set it down and pushed a few buttons, and a hologram shot into the sky.
"Happy New Year!" She cried, and pressed another button. Bursts of light erupted within the hologram, each burst accompanied by a small pop. The bursts looked like flowers with thin petals.
"Fireworks." Ceylon whispered. "Fireworks! Oh my goodness! Magé vasthuwȧ!" Ceylon exclaimed, using a pet name his father used to call his mother. "You made fireworks for me!" Ceylon squeezed Chispa's hands and then turned to look back at the sky. "They're beautiful! They're better than I imagined they would be!"
"Well then," Chispa said. "I think we've found a new tradition."
There’s a special bond held with those you live with. There’s fighting- sometimes to the point of crying. There’s hugging- sometimes because of crying. There were late night binges of talk shows- that sometimes ended in crying. Okay, Chispa cried a lot.
But then! Then there were the holidays: Birthdays. Halloween. Raccoon Forgiveness Day. Valentines Day. New Years. Christmas.
And of course, Christmas was the favorite. That special bond was brought out as you decorate together, bake together, and pick out presents for one another.
However, this year Chispa had a deadline. Three orders. And she had been working on them nonstop since December 16th. Ceylon hung back as they watched her meticulously tinker away at the orders. Ceylon was holding the box of worn out decorations they’d collected over the time they had been together, and not once had Chispa made them decorate alone. She’d always found time, and always without Ceylon having to ask. So they didn’t even know how to ask.
“So, Chispa...” Ceylon muttered bashfully, “want to decorate with me?” they smiled as they stared back at themselves in the mirror and groaned. It had been terribly hard to find the words to say. On the ground were pages and pages of words scribbled with things, but none of them seemed right to say. Ceylon pouted, setting the box on the floor. Well I can try do this on my own! Chispa always helped, since Ceylon had a bit of a problem styling things. Why, it was Chispa who even chose Ceylon’s clothing for them. But, surely today would be different! Ceylon pumped themselves up grabbing a set of string lights. Stepping onto a chair, they tried to untangle the lights.
“Come on, just a little bit more.” Ceylon tugged and twisted the cord. A few hours later and as expected, the was room done. Well… all but done. Various ornaments and decorations littered on the on the ground while in the middle of the floor was a twinkling ball of Ceylon stuck in the lights.
Chispa walked into the room looking seemingly tired from her work.
“Oh hey, just hanging here” Ceylon said and it brought out a rejuvenated laugh from Chispa.
“Cey, how about I come help?”
“Much appreciated” they said as they held their tangled hands towards Chispa with a pleading grin.
Once Chispa helped Ceylon get free, they began doing all the things that any other people would do. The lights were hung, they baked cookies, and even made time to watch a Christmas special. Despite the rough beginning to their Christmas spirit, it was just as good as any other Christmas.
The junkyard was a place for all who reside in the city to find parts and trinkets for their home. It reeked of garbage, rust, and a particularly thick scent of thievery. In the middle of this wasteland, however, one could find just about anything they needed, so here she was. Chispa, with her long, raven hair and vibrant style, had been looking for parts for her newest build. Although she usually went with her long time friend Ceylon to the Junkyard, today she decided to leave ahead of them. After all, the early bird gets the worm.
That being said, it still was considerably difficult to find the one trinket, a knob. Not any in particular, it could have been the oldest of knobs. It didn’t matter as long as she could complete her construction of a lamp for Ceylon. She had broken their lamp the other day, and the mere thought of it made Chispa cringe.
The music was pulsing through the house. Steady beats of Electro-Casanova guided Chipsa’s body as she drifted through the loft space. Ceylon, her studious companion, was hard at work plotting another series of events for their anarchist movements. They often ignored the commotion that the energetic girl made, due to the noise cancelling headphones that they wore, choosing instead to peer down at their plans from a dim lamp. It had a dark blue cord, similar to the shade of Ceylon’s shoes. Being that the room happened to only have one plug that was on the other side of the room, there was a long, snake-like trail of pulsing blue light. Chispa just so happened to catch her foot on this cord during a little spin. She shrieked and closed her eyes, expecting to tumble onto the cold, pale marble only to be met with a surprising feeling of warmth. Her eyes opened to see Ceylon, their arms around her and her face on their chest.
“Are you alright?” Ceylon muttered. Concern was met with the apologetic eyes of Chispa. Their ears were shocked by the sound of glass. The lamp had shattered to bits.
“Yes, I got a little carried away with the music.” She said almost bashfully, cheeks full of rosy blush.
The mere thought of the incident made her cheeks begin to warm once more. During this moment of reminiscence, a glaring light shined in Chispa’s eyes. She peered up to where the light was coming from. It was at the top of one of the piles of garbage. The particular item. What was it called? Ah, a lightbulb. Those were hard to come by here, a hot commodity if you will.
“There it is!” Chispa exclaimed, practically stumbling over the junk in her signature reflective pink bodysuit to get to the last piece of her project. She spotted another eager individual hurrying up the other side of the hill to the piece. “Oh no you don’t!” As her pace increased, they both met at the top of the hill. Each of their hands were on the sides of the bulb.
The goofy smile of Chispa’s opponent showed confidence. “Not today. This one’s mine, missy,” the stranger stated. But Chispa was more determined.
“Alright, I’ll let you have it. But first...what's that over there!” She said with a shocked expression causing her opponent to look away and loosen their grip on the bulb. Chispa took off down the hill and tripped. She rolled down safely onto an old mattress and began to hurry home.
When Ceylon came back to the loft from their meeting, they were met with a beaming grin from the girl and she covered their eyes “No, peeking!”
Walking further into the room, Ceylon questioned “Where are we going?” No comment was necessary though, as Chispa pulled her fingers off of their eyes revealing a brand new lamp. It was a pink and electric blue lamp that contained the two of them in a photo. The lamp was a bit on the rough side.
“Do you like it?” Chispa looked away, embarrassed. “I wanted to make up for breaking the other one, since I know you use that for your work.”
Ceylon smiled, and said “I love it. It looks great, thank you.” Chispa grinned, before laughing.
“Well, back to the music,” She said and the dancing resumed with the two doing their usual once more.
Chispa came through the door, no giant pile of junk in tow, but rather a very small, tattered box. Ceylon looked up from the cooking, something they had taken upon themselves for the day, and raised an eyebrow, “What’s that?”
Chispa walked it over to the dining table and began cooing at the contents, concerning Ceylon more than they were comfortable with. They turned the burner down to low and walked over, peeking into the box. Inside was a dirty, shaking, scared kitten. Ceylon couldn’t discern the natural color of its fur- it looked brown from the mud coating it- and Chispa was pretty sure it was white, “We can’t keep this.” Ceylon said.
“Why not?” Chispa whined and looked at them, stomping her foot and pouting, “It’s cold and hungry and lonely and our house has us and food and warmth! Why can’t we keep it?”
“Because it’s against the apartment rules!” Ceylon sighed and grabbed the bridge of their nose, they knew this was bound to happen. Chispa was actually on the lookout for cats when they went out sometimes. She continued to pout.
“Well, then I’ll find it a home tomorrow, but I’m keeping it tonight.” She huffed and picked up the scared kitten and marched to the bathroom to wash the dried mud from its fur. “Use the dirty towel!” Ceylon called after her and returned to cooking.
Chispa returned ten minutes later, flustered and her hands covered with tiny little scratches, but in her arms was the kitten, bundled up and half asleep. It was white and very fluffy, “Isn’t it cute?” Chispa held it up to Ceylon’s face.
Ceylon looked at it and the kitten mewed pathetically before settling back into the towel, then they heard it- the purring. It was hard to believe that such a small thing could make such a loud noise, it’s purr sounded like a motor, an old one. Ceylon nodded.
“Ha! Soon you’ll love it too and you won’t be able to give it away!” Chispa hugged it tight, the purring grew louder, “And then I’ll finally have a pet cat!”
Ceylon felt a little bad. “We can’t keep it.”
She rolled her eyes. “I know, I know. I’m not intending to. I just couldn’t let it starve on the street. I’ll find it a home tomorrow and you won’t have to worry about it.” She walked around with the kitten for the rest of the night, even eating with it curled up in her lap and sleeping with it on her chest. Then, when tomorrow finally became today, she found it a home. It took less than an hour for someone to take it into their family and Chispa moped around the apartment for the rest of the day. Ceylon wasn’t home when she got back and she flopped onto the couch, whining to the empty room.
There was work to do, but she missed her kitten and didn’t feel like doing any of it. She just continued to lounge and roll around on the couch waiting for Ceylon to get home and tell her to work.
Ceylon got home, latching the door behind them. “Where were you?” She asked.
They walked over and sat beside her, pulling something from under their jacket, “I’m sorry you couldn’t keep the kitten, but I could at least find you this.” And they handed it to her, a stuffed white cat. It was almost the same size, but not nearly as fluffy. It looked like Ceylon had tried to bleach the stains out of it and the eyes didn’t match, but it was a kitten for her, from Ceylon. She took it gingerly, Ceylon had only seen her treat her trinkets so carefully, and she hugged it to her chest, trying not to cry.
“Thank you.” They sat on the couch together, Chispa leaning into Ceylon as she hugged her new kitten.
Chispa came through the door in a huff, dropping her haul for the day onto the pile from yesterday. Ceylon looked up from their book - a find from a few days ago of a collector’s edition of Fahrenheit 451 that was printed well over a hundred years ago.
“Something wrong?” They asked.
“Apparently there was a raccoon sighting early this morning about three blocks over!” She replied, throwing her hands in the air in mock frustration.
“How… how do you know that?” Ceylon asked cautiously, not sure they wanted to know the answer. She pointed to her headphones, the ears glowing bright .
“I listen to the local alert station when I’m out without you.”
Ceylon was surprised. They had assumed she listened to the same music she did around the house. “Why?”
“In case something happens, silly. They report thefts, missing persons, sightings of animals, and messages from loved ones who can’t get ahold of their…” She struggled for the word, “Loved… ones… They play old jazz music unless there's an alert , and this way I'll know if something happens to you when I’m away. As soon as I can, at least.” She smiled and wandered off to the bathroom, assuming that was a good enough end to the conversation and desperately needing a shower. It had been a big day for her - she'd been to trinket shops to deliver some special orders, to Abuela’s apartment to check up on the security system she had made for her, dumpster diving, and to junk piles to scavenge. Ceylon was left at the dining table with their book, smiling. It was good to feel cared for, and the ways Chispa showed it always managed to surprise them.