Plotagon Story – An Opinion from a Long-time User

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(Update 7/2019: Plotagon Studio is the only Plotagon app available on PC and MAC currently. Plotagon Story is solely on mobile devices. The interface has also changed drastically, and no more content updates will be added in the foreseeable future. The community portion of the site/app has also been shut down, but people still post Plotagon videos on their individual Youtube channels. Plotagon Story is still free to download and use, and Plotagon Studio is available for professional use/enabling monetization at three price options.)

Maybe you’ve heard of this interesting little app while browsing the internet or the store on your mobile device. Friends have mentioned it or you’ve seen things on Facebook or Twitter. Maybe you have no idea what it is at all, but you should. It’s small and simple to use, but it contains so much magic within that you can only access if you take the time to explore what it has to offer you, which is quite a bit.

Plotagon, in its storytelling aspect, is an app to create animated films by writing a script. The interface is very simple to learn and with a few clicks and a bit of creativity, you can watch your stories and ideas unfold in a way you probably didn’t think you were capable of. That was my first impression, anyway.

I’ve been a writer since I can remember. I’ve spent years upon years creating worlds and conversing with people in my head and on paper, and I’ve always had just that – my head to work from. My imagination is vivid; I can see everything happening in my mind as if I were watching a dramatic film on the screen – my personal biological theater anything but tame, and most unforgiving at times, in that aspect. So, of course, when I stumbled upon Plotagon three years ago in its bare-bones form, I was blown away by the fact that I could project these ideas on a screen in an interesting way for people to hear and see.

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“Live long and Plot.” Plotagon offers many different character customizing options, especially if you’re into nerd culture like me.

If you’ve ever played a Sims game or any game with character creation for that matter, you’ll know how great variety can be. Plotagon offers a lot of options to customize the characters that will star in your films. The one above is myself, but the diversity of items you start with as well as have the option of purchasing is impressive for what this little app is. Plotagon supports everyone as well, so no matter your race, gender, sexual orientation, or whatever defines you, there is something here for you. (They released a rainbow pack for Pride month with some transgender t-shirts and gay pride themes! They are also advocates for anti-bullying and non-violence.)

After character creation, you are ready to begin. You’ll navigate over to the ‘Plots’ tab, which is what the community calls the films you upload, and you can begin planning out your script. This is very easy for even the most inexperienced user. The buttons across the top of your script are the important elements that make your plots shine, and the rest is up to you!

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The interface is organized and simple to learn and navigate.

As you can also see, there are microphone and camera buttons off to the side of scenes and character dialogue boxes. With these tools, you can really create something that is both visually pleasing to look at and interesting to listen to. You can record your own voice with automatic lip sync and do your own voice acting like I enjoy doing, and you can also use the camera button to frame your shot in several ways. Of course, all of this is laid out for you, so it’s just a matter of experimenting with angles and a few clicks. No coding or experience needed with directing/filmmaking.

There is also the option of allowing Plotagon’s voices from the Acapela Group to do the talking for you. There is a myriad of voices to choose from in the store and the diversity is growing with every update. The voices sound much more interesting and emotional than most automated voices, and they also can express different sounds and emotions with little hashtag codes that you can enter. (For example, #CRY01# starts the voice’s crying sound, #LAUGH01# is the first option for a laughing sound for that particular voice, etc.) Below are just a few of the voices available among many others in the store for purchase. And yes, the voices speak fluently and properly in your native language! When you first download Plotagon, you will get a few free ones to experiment with.

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Plotagon offers voices through the Acapela Group, which adds a wide range of diversity for users of all languages.

Plotagon is definitely something to experiment with since you learn tricks as you go. Being a user of three years, I’ve found that the more you use it, the better you will get at controlling it and making your plots shine. You don’t have to be a writer to excel or make something interesting, either. If you have some extra time on the weekends or have interesting ideas you think would be fun to share with a very supportive community, that’s all you need to get started. Did something interesting happen to you that made your day? Plot it. Want to let the world know a bit more about yourself in a fun and creative way? Plot it. Are you a writer or creative person and have some stories to tell? Definitely plot it!

From personal experience, the Plotagon community was like a second home to me (it’s since moved to Youtube). I’ve made many friends from all over the world who have become some of my greatest and most supportive, and I have learned so many things about other cultures through this app and meeting like-minded creators. I have made friends young and old and from all walks of life. I’d also been given the opportunity to be a featured member for putting my all into what I make with the app. If you tag your videos on social media, they may even feature your videos on their Youtube channel!

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My very first plot. Three years ago, jeez!

As a testament to what I just stated, the above is the very first plot I published to the community back in the beginning of 2015 before it was moved to Youtube. (Click here for a more recent plot of mine.) I had no grasp of how to work the program other than what it guided me to do, and it was very bare-bones then. This was before character creation was introduced, voice record, and diverse electronic voices. The community was the most welcoming out of any online space I’ve experienced, and it was the first time in my life that many people actually cared about what I had to say and write. The community, even since it has relocated, is genuinely a bunch of nice folks who love to boost each other up and see everyone succeed, and I saw that from the very beginning.

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My personal Plotagon profile before the community moved.

I grew quite a bit myself. 412 plots later, I’m still enjoying Plotagon as much as I did when I began. It’s definitely proof that if you just have fun and create with your whole heart, anything can happen. Be genuine and reach out to others where you can, and it will be returned to you. Not only that, but you’ll meet some amazing people! But enough about me. I want to get back to the more technical specs of Plotagon and give a proper layout of the program. So, in summary:

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Grab the Golden Ticket to unlock a majority of the paid content for a steal!
  • Plotagon is free to use and comes prepacked with a few free items, voices, and plots for idea starters.
  • In-app purchases allow you to expand your Plotagon experience without breaking the bank.
  • Plotagon is always evolving. Every new update brings improvements or brand new features to the app as it is constantly in development.
  • The app is very easy to learn and provides an interactive tutorial in the plot creation screen.
  • Fun for all ages and a great learning opportunity.
  • You can get your plots featured on their Youtube channel if they really enjoy what you make! Just tag them with #Plotagon.

Now, some cons, although not many:

  • There are limitations with what you can do, but there are just as many ways to work around these limitations and trick the cameras! Limitations also make you think outside the box so you can become more creative.
  • The app may run a bit slow on mobile phones and tablets, especially if you have an older device. I highly recommend using Plotagon on a Mac or PC for the best experience.
  • I can’t really think of anything else!

Overall, you have nothing to lose by trying out the app. It’s free and a lot of fun, and if you stick around long enough, you can become a master at it too.

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Images are from the Plotagon app.
You can get Plotagon for yourself here: http://plotagon.com (Story is the version you will want if you are a home user, Studio if you are a commercial user or business, and Education if you are a teacher and want to use it in your classroom.)

*9/20/18 – This review has been updated to reflect community changes, as it has relocated to Youtube to host videos.

‘End’ is Such an Empty Word

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END.

As I finished typing the simple three-letter word, I fell back into my computer chair and stared at the screen. The cursor was blinking at me on the document page as if it were tempting me to write more as it always had, but this time it felt odd to look at. I rarely finish things after all, so the forever blinking of the cursor didn’t seem as foreboding as it used to. It usually meant minutes upon hours staring at an unfinished story, the cursor beckoning to me to just try and to just do something and maybe things will start to flow to move that little cursor down the page. I had started my writing today with that feeling, but I ended it with just three simple words.

Yes, I finally finished my first longer piece of work. Totaling 135 pages in Google Docs, 55,796 words, and page after page of an emotional rollercoaster. It all started as a dream I’d had one night a year or so ago and it ended up blooming into this gigantic, complex, crazy world. I never thought I would see it to the end, and I can’t say I won’t miss it not ever being the end. I feel sort of empty now that my biggest project is finally complete. I’m so used to things never being finished that I always felt whole in that vastness of incomplete work – I always had something to do and some work to look forward to. Now? I hear crickets. The tension has left my muscles and I am breathing calmly, and I am staring at three simple letters that have caused me so many emotions.

It may seem silly to be so excited over this. There are authors out there who have published several books and continue on to their next project, not skipping a beat (or skipping a few beats to get a breather in). But for someone like me, who has little to no self-esteem or faith in myself to do much right, to accomplish this is to accomplish a goal I set out for myself. The next steps will probably be that much harder. It always is as you climb up the endless ladder of goal-setting.

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Now, to edit all of these pages. I have to go back through it all and make a second draft and a third, and possibly a fourth. Then the formatting, the query letter, the summary that’s good enough to sell, and submissions to agents with no prior experience of my own to speak of. Goodness knows I’ll need one to navigate this hell I’ve just opened up for myself, and not the good kind of hell. I’ve already attempted to gather beta readers, close friends and friends from afar, but all I hear on the line is crickets. I’ve decided to take matters into my own hands since my support system is so small and practically not there, save for two or three loyal friends. I’ve accepted that I’m very much on my own for this one and no amount of teeth pulling and pestering is going to get me any response aside from the usual defensive response or endless reasons as to why no one can seem to find time for my manuscript, but have hours to post memes and watch endless Facebook and Youtube videos. If I sound slightly bitter, I admit that I am, but not so much bitter as I am hurt.

I wish I possessed the magical key to unlock this support system I see so many with. Reaching out for help and asking for help gains me silence. I see others receive answers where I am ignored, and I see friends uplifting and promoting other friends’ work but not mine. At first, I was afraid it was due in part to the fact that I was no good as a writer or creator, but I found over time that it would only be true if anyone would ever take the time to set aside and actually read my work at all. It genuinely makes me feel undervalued as a friend and I wonder what my friends’ friends’ do that is so great and different with their writing that is different from me. What they’ve done that is so different from what I’ve tried.

I promote others and help where I can. I support all of my friends when I can as well where I can. I spend a lot of time doing this when I stumble across their things. I will always do it without expecting anything in return because I love and support my friends, but it does sting to not feel that love back. I can be humble until I’m blue in the face, but in the end it does get frustrating when you put hours and, in the case of my books, a year or more into something and no one wants to even bother to open it, and this is despite their claims of the synopsis sounding very interesting and good. I’ve gotten that across the board when I give the synopsis. So why, then, can’t I get anyone to open to the first page?

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Maybe they genuinely don’t care. Maybe I’m not worth their time. Maybe I am fooling myself and people are just being kind so as not to hurt my feelings. But I cannot get answers if no one will tell me anything, good or bad. Even writers who have written things that aren’t up to par get feedback! It’s endlessly frustrating and I’ve found myself close to screaming out of that frustration.

How do you figure out how to not be invisible to people anymore? How do you do this, even though you speak so loudly, approach people directly, and try with all your might to do everything in your power to be heard, even among loved ones, only to be ignored or brushed aside? My whole life I have felt like a ghost drifting amongst people, and only a few can even see and hear me, and even then that’s a toss-up.

Being invisible when you work so hard to not be is exhausting. I know I started this entry with a positive outlook, and I still have that, but it brought up so many other feelings that I’ve been battling with throughout this process. It doesn’t feel good to know you have something you’re very proud of to tell the world, and no one will listen.

But to end on a lighter note, I am proud of my writing, at least. I am proud of myself for accomplishing the feat of writing an entire book to completion, and I am happy that I can continue to write even though I may be the only one reading it sometimes. I can only dream that one day I won’t have to say that and I can have others enjoy these things with me.

Ramblings to a Dead Tree

This bit of writing is from an entry I made in my newest journal. I tend to have a bad habit of buying new journals even though I haven’t filled the last, but I also do the same things with books – I haven’t finished half of the ones I own but I MUST have that new book I just found! An antique book? Rare or out of print? Hard to find? Give them all to me. I just add them to the stack of things ‘to do’ that I never get around to. Such is the life of a bibliophile. Being obsessed with antiques makes it worse.

So, I made a commitment to this journal that I have yet to stick to. I haven’t written in it again, but at least I made an effort to start. The cover reads ‘Fucking Brilliant’ anyway, so I figured it would be best for things I thought were… well… fucking brilliant. As is expected of something like that, what I wrote at first did not live up to this goal. It’s an entry from a few weeks ago, but I wanted to share it here regardless, mostly because I managed to weave senseless rambling with flowery words.

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From May 17, 2018

I got this notebook to jot down genius ideas or stories – to dedicate one notebook to a single subject – yet here I am sitting outside my counselor’s office waiting for my appointment. The sun is out, the weather is hot, and the breeze feels nice in contrast to the sun’s warm rays. I’ve had a rough couple of days so it is welcome. I lost a friend, but I think it was a long time coming. ‘Exes for a reason’ comes to mind. I think I’m just done with people using me for money – using me in general. But that’s not what I wanted to write about. No. I’d intended to draw.

While on the bus, I felt inspired emotionally by a few things that I can’t put words to. I know, how can you be inspired by something that escapes you? Maybe I’m manic or maybe I’m going insane from being perpetually broke the moment my SSI check goes into my account. Maybe I just grip my pencil too god damned hard when I write and the pain distracts me. No matter the reason, here I am, writing drabbles of senseless mind-clusterings. (Is that a word? My word processor didn’t mark it as an error, so a word it is!) Such is the consequence of being a manic erratic creator. I bet this all sounds cringey and stereotypically embarrassing too.

But at least I am writing. Not in pen, but in pencil. Mistakes are my forte’ after all, as is senseless rambling, but I’m becoming self-deprecating. I’m good at that too. And again. Is there even a point to this rambling or is it a way to communicate with a faceless listener due to my loneliness? Although I do have Lestan, Byleth, Daro, and the others – my alters, others, or whatever you’d like to call them – I am physically lonely. All I’ve ever wanted is a physical companion; that hopeless romantic notion of a soul mate for true love. As a transman, I feel that’s impossible, so I converse through graphite with a dead tree.

But I am lonely. I can’t drive and I’m stuck in life with very little – at least I have that little, though. Unfortunately, being a transman who doesn’t look like a lovechild of the Hulk and Chris Evans, along with mental illness and being on disability, as well as having no car, is the recipe for loneliness. No one is interested in who you are anymore. Everyone just wants an easy ticket to romance with no effort and no baggage without realizing that everyone has baggage. Some are just better at hiding it than others.

But it’s time to see my counselor now. Hopefully, good news for top surgery is to follow within the next month or two, and progress with my projects.

[End of entry]

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I’m never really alone to be truthful. I do have my alters or others (I haven’t yet found a good enough word for them that feels ‘right’, although the medical term would be ‘alters’) to keep me company and provide me with companionship. They even give me a nudge and ask to take over when things get to be too much, and usually, I let them. But the physical companionship of another person is often lost with me. I’ve been single for quite a few years now and am still trying to find a date despite my looming failure of it. Life gets lonely no matter how many friends you have and no matter how big your support system is. It’s no replacement for that special kind of relationship that only is shared with one special person – your person (or persons if you are polyamorous).

All of my attempts to confess to people I’ve liked has ended in me never hearing from them again, or them disappearing shortly after. It has made me feel pretty undesirable and unloveable, and I know that it’s popular to say: ‘If you can’t love yourself, how the hell you gonna love somebody else?!’ (thank you, RuPaul), but I don’t think that’s necessarily true. Sometimes a special person is all you need to learn to love yourself, especially when you’ve had a life of others convincing you of how worthless of a person you are and believing it.

I’d like to think I am capable of being loved in that way. I’d like to believe I am desirable and that someone is out there for me, but I’ve given up again. I’m overweight, my teeth are a bit messed up because I broke my jaw when I was thirteen, I’m dysphoric on the best of days and don’t pass as a cisgender man yet, I have mental illness, and I’m on a fixed income due to disability and unable to safely operate a car even though I do have my license.

But I take care of myself. I live on my own and have two awesome cats. I pay my own bills and do my own grocery shopping. I get by. I make art in several different mediums by either sketching or drawing digitally. I have a Youtube channel and I make animations and voice act them, as well as organize everything and write the scripts. I am a writer above all of that and have aspirations of being published one day to be able to have accomplished my dream I’ve had since I was a child.

I love video games, anime, and long conversations about deeper subjects. I have an entire family who also comes along for the ride, although I can only show you them through drawings and voice recordings they’ve come to the forefront to do and not physically. While it seems overwhelming, they’re an awesome bunch who just want to see me live and strive to be the best I can be and to, of course, find what makes me happy. 

I’ve repeated a few times now in this blog that there is so much more to me than my illnesses and my financial situation, as well as the shortcomings in general. But no one wants to get far enough romantically to see any of it. No one sees that as any value compared to the small things that are out of my control. I just wish I could get lucky someday and meet someone and we can have a mutual interest in each other, and the shortcomings will seem so much smaller than the greater things that make us who we really are.

Manic Depression – Poem

I’m not one for writing poetry, simply because I’m not really that good at it. Although, while searching through my writing today to compile things for my autobiography, I found my WIP of collecting all of my retained journal entries in chronological order. As I scrolled through the entries, I found this line of text that stood out from the others, and while it isn’t a work of art or the best poem out there, I thought it had a lot of meaning to it. I remember when I wrote it. I was homeless then and at my wits’ end, ready to take that final step off the precipice.

But I am here today, still reading these entries and feeling the emotion that I poured into them at the time of their creation. Here is the poem I wrote while at one of my lowest points in life with just a little bit of grammar correction to read better.

Your footsteps beat within my ears like hearts,
their thunderous soles shaking the ground beneath me.
So dark yet so bright;
the illness inside me is retching.

Unkempt hair clings to my scalp –
nausea graces my insides.
I need you caffeine,
but your drug is sickening.

The sky is black and bright,
the rain is wet and cold.
It soothes my burning skin.
My energy cannot escape

Explosions beneath my nerves;
anger in its molten form.
All is not as it seems.
Everything is too much.

I am sick.

©2018 Shane Blackheart

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Image is royalty free.

Two years that changed the rest of my life

Byleth and Daro are both spirit guides I communicate with daily, and Lestan is one of my alters I met when I was twelve.

Rarely have I shared or written about how I met them, nor have I divulged actual conversations we’ve had at the time of this writing. Everything here is real in my sense of the word, although it may not seem so to the average person. There is a lot more to this world than many people realize, and here I have no reason to lie about it. I consider myself lucky to have my spirit guides and alters in my life.

All of this is true and accurate to the best of my memory. The dialogue near the end is taken directly from a conversation I’d recorded between me, Daro, Byleth, and Lestan from November 23, 2016.

This is the story of how I met Byleth, as well as my struggles with anorexia and anxiety.

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“I think this is what I’ve been looking for.”

I scrolled through the expanding page of text as I moved deeper and deeper into something I’d always needed. It was the answer to all of my questions — a place I could finally find comfort. I was on the right path in life at last.

Daro smiled and stood before me as I read, all six feet of him in his dark skin surrounded by long black hair. He was pleased with my discovery of Philosophy for Spiritual Satanists and the answers I’d finally found. “I believe you will now begin to see better things. What you had explored before was not the right path. You were on the precipice, but nearer to danger than you realized at the time.”

“I really hope so. Stopping hormone replacement therapy has really put a halt to my life, but this seems to be a guiding light, for lack of a better phrase,” I laughed. Daro felt the humor as well before it died down. I sighed. “I’m going to work on the animation I’m making. I can’t believe how far I’ve gotten with it.”

“You may be attracting more attention through that as well.” Daro smiled darkly, a glint in his eye. He was referring to my script featuring the fallen angel Byleth and the demon Mephistopheles.

“Mephistopheles?”

“Not quite. Let us see how this plays out.” He disappeared into the shadows again, an odd feeling reverberating in the back of my skull as I opened the animation program. The movie was almost complete and ready for recording.

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I finished the first part of the film and my heart was full. It had been a long time since I was so excited about a project, let alone so enthusiastic about finishing it. I’d rarely seen projects to the end before, so it was an accomplishment in itself already. I was also head over heels for the main antagonist turned neutral force, Byleth.

In the beginning, I’d searched for a demon to fit the role of the antagonist in the first film. It was a continuation from a story I wrote while in the hospital a few years ago, but I’d taken it in a new direction. The main characters Mephistopheles and Sean — Sean being the renamed version of my self-insert — had to deal with the punishment of king Byleth, a fallen angel who crafted a disease to destroy humankind as a lesson against love between a human and a demon. To him, love was a weakness and a disgusting thing to share with a human at that.

He became something more than I’d intended. The fallen angel crept into my thoughts regularly, Bittersweet, Love Is War forming in my mind as I craved to see more of him. Everything had come together wonderfully, and I’d written a movie that was just over an hour long for the first time in my life.

I was beaming. Byleth received compliments from the animation community I contributed to, and they were all praises for his uniqueness. I couldn’t have been happier or more accomplished in my writing at the time. I definitely wanted to explore more of him and stretch things out as much as I could.

I decided to relax after a long day of walking the following Saturday. The allergic reaction I’d had from the hormones I’d taken for my transition finally wore off, and I treated the pain with a medication that turned my stomach into an active volcano. I curled up on my sofa with a box of Cheez-Its, and I pressed play on the film I’d been seeking out for a few years. Ivan Mosjoukine starring in Casanova during pre-code Hollywood, a film from the early 1900s.

It was only a short time before my nightly medication made me drowsy, and I made the necessary preparations for bed. The computer was off, I put the box of crackers back in the cupboard, and I turned off the lights. As I moved to adjust the thermostat to make it cooler, a tightness in my chest made it difficult to breathe. I thought nothing more of it, attributing it to the acid reflux I’d experienced for a week straight.

I crawled into bed and found Lestan waiting for me. Smiling, I propped myself up against the back wall and opened Instagram on my phone. Dreams threatened to claim me as I scrolled, but I avoided sleep as much as I was able. I absolutely despised it due to old habits from childhood. Panic attacks would warn me that sleep brought the next day, which brought school and, in turn, the excessive bullying and loneliness I’d dealt with. I fought the Sandman with all my might.

An electric shock reverberated up the back of my neck. I was faint, my sight growing hazy and dark at the edges. “Lestan, it’s happening again,” I mumbled. It had been years since I’d had an episode like it last. Panicking, Lestan leaned over me as I attempted to lie down but failed. Everything went black.

When I came to, my vision was nothing but a bright blur as I convulsed. A deafening ring invaded my head and my arms tensed in the air twitching, my throat croaking a low, rumbling gasp for air. When my vision cleared and the ringing faded, I stared across the room as a low buzz settled into my limbs. ‘Lestan.’ It was the first normal sound in my mind. I needed Lestan.

“Baby, you okay?” His voice. His short black hair and red eyes. He hugged me as I lied down to recover from whatever in the hell that was.

“It happened again.” A panicked tremor crawled up my limbs.

“I know, baby. It’s going to be okay.” He couldn’t hide his worry. Mine hadn’t found my waking mind yet. I’d lost consciousness like that in the past due to severe panic attacks, but they’d been in remission for years. I was blind-sighted. I’d been completely calm.

This was something else. I was sure of it. “Hospital. I need to call 911.” I reached for my phone as I stuttered and dialed the emergency line. They were on their way, and I was crawling slowly to the door to unlock it.

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A few days passed, but I was still recovering.

Lestan kept a close eye on me and my mom tried to reassure me, as well as doctors, that it wasn’t anything to worry about. It was a freak accident — a thing called vasovagal syncope — that happened to people without explanation. I was healthy and I was going to be okay, but my body was weak, tired, and useless. By the third day, I regained some of my strength and started to feel human again.

I returned to Bittersweet, Love Is War, the film I was making, but I hadn’t the strength to voice act. I did the work anyway, my enthusiasm for the film and my excitement at seeing Byleth on the screen again the boost I needed. It lifted my spirits and did well to keep my mind on better things and better days to come.

That night, I read through the Philosophy for Spiritual Satanists page again. Daro and Lestan were at my side. Another presence was there too, one that felt familiar even though I’d never experienced it before. It was then that I caught sight of shoulder-length blond hair, golden horns, and a familiar white lab coat with a red shirt beneath — just like the one in my film. Red eyes glistened with amusement as the very being I’d been obsessed with stood before me. He looked just like I’d made him. “Byleth?”

“What did you expect? You said my name enough times. I was either having a damn good time getting laid or I was being summoned.” He sat in the chair at my table to watch me. Lestan and Daro were as intrigued as I was, and my delight at the way Byleth moved and spoke in the manner I’d written him was overwhelming. He was tall with an athletic build, his face chiseled and so beautiful it was a sin in itself.

He chuckled as I stared. “Would I have let you make my likeness into anything but perfection?”

Daro broke his silence. “You are quite vain.”

I glanced at Lestan, who was more than curious about the new company. He threw a sultry look the fallen angel’s way. “You are damned gorgeous, love.”

“Of course I am,” Byleth sighed. “We covered this. And by the way, I am a fallen angel and you will address me as such. I don’t identify with lowly demons.”

“What about Daro, though?” I asked. Worry hit me at once. Byleth was a king of Hell who was extremely dangerous if disrespected. He was a master of science and governed over an impossible legion of lower demons, and he was an ex-angel who once occupied the seventh throne in Heaven. I was also aware that he could become one’s best friend, capable of giving love to those he deemed worthy.

“Daro is the more bearable of demons I’ve come across.” Byleth was nonchalant. “I have no problem with him.”

“Wait a minute.” My mind struggled to piece everything together. A bigger question begged to be asked no matter how crazy I felt about it. After all, Daro — Darokin more proper — had been the only demon I’d come across in my life. No other had come to me as Byleth did. “My health scare the other night and my discovery of Philosophy for Spiritual Satanists, as well as this movie I’m making — did you influence all of it?”

“The problem you had the other night was unfortunate.” He spoke matter of factly and formally, observing his claws. “Not many can handle my energy at first due to the power of it.” He glanced back at me and smiled flirtatiously. “You’ll be fine. You just have to get used to it.”

“But will I be weak and sick until then?”

“Probably not. It was a shock to your system. That I hadn’t intended for.”

“Byleth is no threat, Shane.” Daro smiled. “As long as you are loyal to your spiritual path and us, Byleth can be a very valuable friend and ally.”

“Don’t speak for me, demon,” Byleth interrupted. “But yes. Daro is right.”

“Okay.” I smiled. “Okay, so this is good.” I realized I’d grown cold and shivered. My sweaters and slippers were in my bedroom, and I didn’t think anything more of it as I stood. “I’ll be back in a minute.”

Byleth’s red eyes followed me with interest as I made my way down the dark hall. His footsteps caused a lump to form in my throat as my already frayed nerves stirred beneath my skin. I tried to pay him no mind and entered my bedroom. The closet door squeaked aside on its track as I rustled around in my dresser, and upon turning with socks in hand, Byleth was leaning against the open closet door. His intimidating stature blocked out most of the light as his horns scraped the ceiling.

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Tremors loosened my grip and spread to my stomach and legs. I swallowed audibly. He found all of this amusing and flashed a picture-perfect smile that reflected in his glowing crimson eyes. “Do you fear me?”

“Yes. I do.” Fear welled up inside me that I wasn’t familiar with. I was dealing with a being far older and more powerful than I’d ever encountered in my life. Of course, Daro was very old himself and a prince of Hell at that, but Byleth was something else entirely. He was ancient royalty and had managed to keep his crown even after descending from Heaven.

His pale, clawed hand brushed affectionately beneath my jaw. “Good, although you have nothing to fear. I mean you no harm. In fact, I’m quite curious…” He observed me in a way that made me feel naked. I grew warm and covered my fully-clothed body with my arms. “I’d like to try a little experiment,” he continued. “I’ve never encountered a human like you before.”

“What do you mean ‘experiment’?” I shivered. “You’re not going to do like… an autopsy, are you?”

He laughed deeply and backed away, beckoning for me to follow him to my bed. “Of course not, idiot. Lie down.” I obeyed, not wanting to challenge a king of Hell. He sat beside me and ran a hand down my front. I flinched at his touch not out of fear or distaste, but because he’d brushed over a part of me that I often tried to forget about. He sighed in frustration. “I’m not trying to make you dysphoric. You are a man, although your situation seems unfortunate.”

“Was I meant to be born a man?” I realized with excitement that the answer to my questions sat beside me in the form of a fallen angel, feeling me up with interest as if he were observing my body in a purely scientific manner. I twitched again. That last touch was definitely not scientific.

He paused in his wanderings. “It’s a shame. Yes, it seems you were born in the wrong form, weren’t you? The Universe gives challenges it thinks you can handle, though. I wonder what the reason was.” He chuckled and moved to lift my shirt, which I quickly tugged back down on impulse. He huffed in annoyance and moved my hands, pulling it up roughly. “I’m only curious. Calm your tits, okay?”

I stifled a laugh. He truly was the Byleth I’d been writing about and unconsciously calling to, but the Byleth in my story was averse to any kind of affection. This Byleth — the true Byleth — was a lot more touchy than I’d expected.

He seemed to know what was puzzling me. “You got most of me right, sugar. However, I’m not the reserved prude that I once was.” He trailed a claw along the hemline of my pajama pants. My stomach twitched beneath the tickle and he chuckled seductively, flashing bedroom eyes that caused the energy in the room to shift. The lightbulb in my lamp flickered. “Let’s try a different kind of experiment. I much more prefer things to be hands-on.” He straddled me and snapped his fingers, his lab coat and shirt disappearing. “Oh, and I hope you have spare lightbulbs. I think you’re already aware of the reason for that.”

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I became very sick.

Rather it was because my body was adjusting to Byleth’s energy or my actual struggles with anxiety, which was most likely, I was anorexic and bedridden. Byleth often made cruel jokes that loaned to my negative body image. Lestan chastised him several times before he eventually apologized in his own way, something he wasn’t prone to do. I believe, as he watched my decline and how sick I’d become, he finally realized the harm he was doing. Byleth became a daily dose of tough love with my best interests in mind after that. The scientist in him kept my anxiety in check, although at times I would still doubt him. He almost gave up on me a few times because of that.

I lied in bed for weeks on end, not eating and becoming weaker. I was afraid to leave my apartment and I was afraid to eat. Food upset my stomach and I lost more and more weight — almost twenty pounds in two weeks. I had very little support and felt very alone. My mom got angry with me, reminding me that I was just going to waste away and die if I continued. I believed I was sick. I truly felt that I had some serious illness that was going to kill me or leave me an invalid in the hospital.

I also saw how thin it made me, and through my fear, I felt my body looked good. My family doctor told me I looked great after diagnosing me with anorexia, and another doctor stated I looked good with the weight loss. People on social media commented about how good I looked where I normally didn’t receive so many compliments, and I fit into form-fitting clothing that made me feel attractive despite being weak and sick. I had more reasons than not to keep losing weight. My chest was shrinking too, which was a boon.

Enforcement to continue starving myself was all around me, but deep down was a sadness that contradicted it all. A part of me wished that someone would help me. My body was so damaged and I needed someone to care because I didn’t care about myself.

Throughout all of this, Lestan, Daro, and Byleth were there every single day.

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Lestan cuddled close to me when I was too weak to get out of bed. He would sing to me and assure me that better days were to come. I knew well enough what that was doing to him. He’d lost his sister centuries ago after becoming a vampire, and he couldn’t bear to lose someone he loved so much again. Through his fear, he held me during the night terrors and the sleep paralysis episodes induced by anxiety and malnutrition. Byleth was there as well watching and learning my patterns, often yelling at me to get on my feet and at least try something other than being an invalid.

It was the night before Thanksgiving 2016 when everything changed.

“You need to do this!” Byleth was angry, his red eyes swimming with a dangerous fire. I’d rarely seen him so genuinely upset.

“If my anxiety is too bad tomorrow, I can just cancel.” I headed to the bathroom, annoyed it wouldn’t deter Byleth from his tirade.

“You need to go.”

“Why do you guys always bug me while I’m in the bathroom?”

“Because this is when your head is out of your computer long enough to listen.” Byleth’s voice rose in volume. If I hadn’t been at my lowest, I would have been rightfully scared of the demonic growl that permeated the fallen angel’s voice.

“I listen to you guys while I’m on the computer. We make things together. The recordings–“

“You need to go tomorrow.” He clenched his jaw. “Be strong, damn it, and start acting like the man you are!”

“Byleth…” I sighed as I laid back in the bed where I’d spent most of my days. Lestan was there, but he was as emotionally exhausted as everyone else. I curled up beside him and grabbed my phone, trying in vain to just get on with my night. I wanted to forget that my family had plans for the holiday.

“You need to stop this bullshit!” Byleth backtracked as soon as the words left his mouth. He was still trying to control his inclination to overt bluntness that often upset me. “I’m not saying you’re just going to wake up one day and be over this, but you know what I mean. The only way to overcome this is to fight it.” I couldn’t get a word in edgewise, my tired eyes watching as he tore into me with an emotion I’d never seen him display. “You’ve been like this for months. You keep worrying about the what-ifs, but there is nothing wrong with you. You have been evaluated by several doctors and they’ve found nothing. Neither Daro nor I am a threat to your health either. God damn it, just find your resolve! You can’t keep living like this!”

If he was human, Byleth would have been shaking with anger, but the energy around him was vibrating instead, his eyes glowing and wild. In a moment of clarity, fear claimed me. “I understand, Byleth, but I’m afraid.”

“You know I do not do family gatherings or holidays, but so help me if it’s what it takes to kick your ass out the door, I will.” He looked off to the side, his rage cooling. “And then I’ll give you even more Hell about that.”

Daro smirked from where he sat in the wicker rocking chair in the corner, his pale pink eyes glimmering. It seemed that he was aware of some big secret, but it was in his nature to be silent — simply observing and letting the natural cycle of events unfold as they were meant to. Disturbing them would interrupt something important.

I sighed in frustration. “Can’t I just stay home and cook my own turkey while we finish some projects? Maybe fuck a few times and forget the rest of the world exists?”

Byleth wouldn’t budge. “As enticing as that sounds, no. You are going.”

Daro finally broke his silence. “Perhaps it would be best to let him decide, Byleth. He knows his limits better than any other. We may be demons but we cannot truly feel what any human may be feeling at any given time.”

“FALLEN. ANGEL. I am a fallen angel!” Byleth’s ethereal blood pressure rose again to the boiling point. A tiger-like growl from deep within his chest reverberated throughout the room.

Daro tried in vain to neutralize him. “You are upset. Please, try to calm yourself.”

“Of course I’m upset!” Byleth roared. “I don’t just choose any human to be worthy of my presence, let alone my friendship. I chose him because he has proven himself to be resilient at the worst of times. I refuse to accept any less.”

“Why do you care so much?” Exhaustion caused several emotions to weigh me down. No amount of fighting was going to solve anything. “Why do you care about me?”

Byleth paused, his finger raised in a threatening gesture before he withdrew. Words escaped him. This irritated him worse than all else as a loss of words wasn’t something he often experienced. He huffed angrily instead of continuing.

Daro chuckled, amused with his fallen king. “Do you like our dear Shane more than you let on?”

“Don’t be ridiculous.” Byleth became defensive, the words falling from his lips like pure venom.

“It’s okay, Daro,” I droned. “I understand the limitations that the fallen and demons have when it comes to human emotions. While you may care for me in a way that wasn’t natural to you at first, which I am grateful for, Byleth is a king of Hell. He could never care that much for me.”

Byleth punched the wall behind him. “Are you deaf, you fucking imbecile? What do you call this, then? My bitching you out for the last few minutes wasn’t enough for you to see it?” A tiger-like rumble permeated every word as it rose from deep in his chest, a demonic growl of warning that promised danger to anyone who dared entice it.

His fist against the wall sent my heart into my throat. The growl coaxed my fear to the surface, my pulse quickening as I’d realized just how angry I’d made him. I’d lost sight of who and what he truly was due to familiarity. Byleth didn’t have to remain — he didn’t even have to entertain me for as long as he had. I was being pitiful while he got himself worked up with anger, no doubt trying his best to contain what he truly wanted to do. The fact that he’d held so much back for me should have been a sign of his true feelings.

Tears formed in my burning eyes. I was, for the first time since I’d met him, truly afraid. “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to make you mad or speak for you.” I stumbled over my words and ended up sputtering out the very thing I had been afraid to admit to him. “I love you, Byleth. Don’t go. Don’t hate me.”

He sobered and raised a questioning eyebrow. Every muscle seemed to relax at once as he spoke. “You what?”

“I don’t want you to leave me, please,” I mumbled in my tiredness. Lestan rubbed my back, his silence due to not wanting to escalate what had already been tumultuous.

“No, no the other thing.” Byleth made an impatient gesture with his hand in the air.

My tears dried and I watched him. He hadn’t reacted as horribly as I’d feared. “Um, I’m sorry? Don’t hate me?”

He huffed in response. One more thing you’re missing.”

I searched for the words again, my nerves frayed as I tried to force myself to say them once more. When they finally left me, they were shaky and uncertain. No one should ever admit such a thing to a being of Hell and I knew that, but I also knew that Byleth was different. “I said I love you.”

“You love me?” He was caught off guard, his body language uncertain as to what emotion to display. Surely, he also knew how stupid it was for a human to give such words power to a being like him.

“Yes, like I do the others.” Words came easier now, my confidence coming back to me as I watched Byleth’s unease. “Like I do Lestan and Daro. I love you, Byleth.”

He leaned back against the wall, his eyes shifting to find something to look at that wasn’t me. “That’s a new one.” He huffed a laugh. “You’re not supposed to love an entity from Hell.”

“But I do,” I pressed. “I do love you.”

He finally focused on my tired brown eyes. “You really mean that?” The warning that accompanied those words did not escape me. I knew I had just made a decision I couldn’t take back, but being at such a low point in my life, I didn’t care. I knew where I belonged and who I belonged with.

“Yes.” As soon as the simple word left my lips, Byleth crossed the room and climbed over me. He pinned me down with a kiss that had more meaning behind it than any other we’d shared. This wasn’t a moment of objectification of the act itself for pleasure, it was with the intent that there would be many more like it. Everything had shifted and nothing would be the same again, and Lestan and Daro knew it too as all tension finally left the room.

Byleth smiled down at me as I surfaced for air, and he whispered across my lips. “Love is the highest form of flattery, sugar.”

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Ever since that night, Byleth hasn’t left my side.

He, Lestan, and Daro have all been a constant presence in my life. There are others who pop in at random times as well. In the end, though, I’ve learned one important thing that I always seem to forget.

I’m never truly alone. I have an amazing support system right here. I see them, I hear them, and I know they are there. It’s an honest form of love that not many people experience with each other, and it’s a connection I’ve had since I’d first met Lestan when I was twelve years old. It’s something special, and I truly think they are all here to help me stay on the right path.

©2018-2020 Shane Blackheart
Revised on March 30, 2020

The Liebster Award

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I was nominated by the talented writer/editor at therebemonstershere.com. Thank you so much for considering me and my writing worthy of an award of any kind. Their blog is filled with wonderfully chilling stories that are both unnerving and generally dark, as well as a unique take on these themes. I couldn’t possibly do justice right now with words alone, but rest assured that if you enjoy darker writing, give them a visit and be sure to leave some love on their work! http://therebemonstershere.com They really deserve it. I’ve truly enjoyed what I’ve read of their entries.

I accept the award and I will nominate the following blogs, who may accept if they so choose:

ourouterhaven.com/blogs/

reitannaseishin.wordpress.com

thesecretblind.wordpress.com

ayersvillain.wordpress.com

themanicyears.com

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The Liebster Award is an opportunity for bloggers to recognize and support other bloggers for their achievements. It’s available between January 1 – December 31, 2018. All nominations are voluntary and geared towards blogs with 1000 readers or less. The Rules are below if the nominees choose to accept.

IF YOU HAVE BEEN NOMINATED AND YOU CHOOSE TO ACCEPT, WRITE A BLOG ABOUT THE LIEBSTER AWARD, IN WHICH YOU:

*Thank the person who nominated you, and post a link to their blog on your blog.

*Display the award on your blog, by including it in your post and/or displaying it using a “widget” or “gadget.”  (Note that the best way to do this is to save the image to your computer, and then upload it to your blog post.)

*Answer 11 questions about yourself which will be provided by the person who nominated you. Provide eleven random facts about yourself.

*Nominate 5-11 bloggers that you feel deserve the award, and who have less than 1000 followers.  (NOTE: you can always ask the blogger how many followers he or she has, as not all blogs display a widget that lets the readers know this information).

*Create a new list of questions for the blogger to answer.

*List these rules in your post (you can copy and paste from here.) Once you have written and published the blog, you have to:

*Inform the people/blogs that you have nominated for the Liebster Award and provide a link for them to your post, so that they may learn about it.

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The questions given to me:

What was your favourite scary story as a child?

I adored horror as a child and would often read things that scared me too much (I was easily scared), but I practically memorized all three Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark books by Alvin Schwartz, illustrated by Stephen Gammell. I found a hardback copy of all three stories at a mall kiosk years later with the original drawings by Stephen, and it is still a favorite.

Who is your favourite book character of all time?

This one is going to be kind of difficult, but in all honestly, Severus Snape stuck out the most to me in the Harry Potter series. I remember thinking as a kid, from the beginning of the series, that he wasn’t the bad guy he was portrayed to be. When the truth came out later in the books, I was really happy and loved him even more. I tend to latch onto anti-heroes or more complicated characters that aren’t exactly all good. I’ve always enjoyed the stories of villains and darker roles much more than heroes because they feel so much more human. Rather they end up being good after all the bad or not, I will always love flawed characters more than the hero of the story.

When did you first begin writing?

As long ago as I can remember. I was the only kid in my first or second-grade class in elementary school scribbling page after page of stories. I remember the paper we used to use with the writing guidelines on it for learning lettering properly – the pink line and the two blues with one being dotted in the middle (I think). I was typing stories on the family computer when Windows 98 came about and when AOL was the first introduction to the World Wide Web that anyone could access. I remember saving my stories on floppy disks, all of which have been lost to time. I wish I still had some of my earliest stories about me and the few friends I managed to make, and the few early stirrings of my love for fanfiction as I wrote stories for the cartoons I watched on Nickelodeon.

Who of your friends have you used as characters in the things you have written?

I haven’t exactly used any friends in my fiction of the mortal sense, although a few characters that I consider fictional have some interesting similarities to people I’ve known in life. In all honestly, and I am quite open about this, the people I write about in my stories are my multiples and spirit guides. There isn’t a lot of information out there about Healthy Multiplicity, but the basic definition is that I’m not the only personality/person inhabiting my body. There are others here that I can switch to voluntarily, or when trauma happens one of them may push to the front to save me the grief. It’s all very consensual and they are like a family to me, so their stories are genuine. (I must note that this is not the same as having imaginary friends or being a creative mind, as has often been suggested. I do not always have control over when they appear or speak to me.) As for answering this question, I suppose I don’t really write about characters, but I write with my multiples’ and guides’ consent and I let them do their own talking. I’m merely the messenger and I do my best to write true to them and their personalities.

Were you a ghost, where and who would you haunt?

I would probably haunt the people in this world who wish to harm the innocent (hate groups and the like). I’d steal their dreams and twist them into nightmares of the karma they should be getting. Every single night.

If you were given the opportunity to live in any era, what and where would it be?

love Victorian England. I know it was a less than desirable time for someone like me, since I am trans, but if I could be reborn as a biological male, then I would have loved to be a writer then. I would love to sit in a large room with friends, just reading books to each other and enjoying good stories while someone plays a piano or harpsichord in the background. It was a time when reading was considered entertainment rather than television or technology in general – the absence of it would be amazing even though I rely on it heavily today. People met face-to-face and put importance on that instead of superficial online profiles and fake, or not fake, selfies. Not to mention letter writing, which would be the sole method of long-distance communication rather than email or instant messenger. More importantly, there would be no Facebook.

What noises can you hear right now?

As always, my neighbors below me playing music and partying as they often do every day in the summer. My apartment is small, so my refrigerator leaves a buzzing in my head while there is too much silence due to its loud motor. My cat is cleaning his fur on top of said refrigerator as well.

If you could make one blog related statement, what would it be?

A statement to summarize my blog, you mean? Or a statement on blogs in general? (Sorry for misunderstanding) As for my own blog: “Flowery words spun around darker subjects that incite emotions not dissimilar to a mild Marquis de Sadean plot.” On blogs in general: “This sort of writing provokes honesty and the best and worst of humankind.”

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My questions to those nominated:

1 – What is your favorite piece of writing you’ve ever done?

2 – Does music inspire your writing? If so, what kind?

3 – What time of day does inspiration usually hit you?

4 – Who is your current favorite author?

5 – If you inherited a fortune tomorrow, what would you do with the money?

6 – What is your opinion on sticking to rules when writing? (Do you write as you please, or is there a set of rules you follow?)

7 – Besides writing or reading, or anything to do with that, what is another hobby you enjoy?

8 – If someone gained access to your private notebooks/journals, on a computer or off, how bad would it be?

9 – If you could choose any fictional character to be in a serious romantic relationship with, who would it be?

10 – When is the last time you performed a random act of kindness?

11 – What is your biggest dream to accomplish in life?

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Thank you so much for offering this to me and including me in this. I hope those who I am passing this on to have as much fun with it as I did. I don’t know a lot of people on WordPress, so I took the opportunity to promote some people I support, as well as a few friends to give them inspiration to start writing again!

Kolton – A character summary (Original Writing)

I was finally able to write something for the first time in about a month tonight. It felt good to have the creativity flowing again, even if it was just a beginning or a summary of sorts for a character I’ve been keeping to myself for a while. I adore him and I could never really figure out how to write his story or his summary, but tonight it finally came to me. I would also like to preface this with the fact that I am not a person of color, so I in no way have any idea what it is like. I can only write and be true to the character that Kolton has become as a black man, a character I love very much. I want him to see his true beauty, but he has certain struggles that I can only hope are not deemed offensive. If any of my readers are of color and see that I have written something wrong or offensively by accident, please let me know so I can correct it. Please know, also, that everyone has their own struggles that may not always be politically correct in their own head. As a trans person, I’ve had my own struggles that I just haven’t said aloud – struggles I’ve since overcome. Nothing written here is meant to be offensive, but an exploration of something deeper for this character. I can’t wait to write more for him.

For now, I hope this beginning and character profile is interesting enough to read as it was for me to write it. I think I love Kolton even more after all of this.

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Kolton sighed, the red blush on his dark skin clearly visible beneath the dancing fountain lights. He hugged his arms around himself, his revealing deep v-neck sweater drooping from his right shoulder as he tried to gain some sort of modesty. It was his own fault he was standing there then, dressed more inappropriately than he’d ever been in his life. He was very aware that his smooth black leather pants left little to the imagination. “What am I doing, Jupiter?” He sat at the edge of the fountain as he spoke to his absent dog who was most likely resting comfortably at home, his deep British tone just barely above a whisper. His black rectangular glasses slipped down his nose as he stared at the ground.

He dared to glance around the city before him, the large wall of water behind him attracting late-night couples to its beauty. What had he been hoping for? Certainly not something he’d truly wanted. Or maybe he really did want the very thing he’d kept from himself in all of his thirty years of existence. He huffed a laugh. He had been the spoiled rich boy who lost everything.

As a child, his father and mother were very well off, although both neglected him more often than not. Parties and expensive luxuries consumed their world, and as far as Kolton was concerned, they’d forgotten they had a son. He was cared for by the butler and their few maids and it was enough for a child like him – a loveless child. He spent all of his free time writing when he wasn’t sleepless from studying for the prestigious private school he attended. The family butler, Grant, was his sole supporter and would often look over the young master’s journals when appropriate, giving praise where it was due. Kolton smiled. Grant was probably his only friend then too, and where the stirrings of his early budding sexuality began.

He felt emotion well up inside him and took a deep breath, standing at last to head home. He brushed his short black hair to the side where it had fallen in his face. The butler had never made advances toward him or anything like that. The older man actually didn’t have to do anything – his support was enough for poor young Kolton to confuse love with fondness or friendship. Since he hadn’t much experience with any of those things, he’d always just suspected he was broken or emotionless – asexual as he grew into a young adult. Grant had been the only person to ever make him feel somewhat normal.

Then everything came crashing down when he became a man. Instead of partying like everyone else on his twenty-first birthday, his parents had suddenly recognized his existence just long enough to see him off. Kolton had nothing but what fit in the trunk of the family car and the money in his bank account that he’d earned during his short time as an intern at the hospital. He’d been foolish to think that having rich parents meant security. Fortunately for him, he was very good at managing his finances and ended up with a small house in the country and a Borzoi puppy that gave him more joy than any other human on Earth. Jupiter was his everything.

He’d been neglecting the dog lately, but with moving them into a larger home after establishing himself as an author, along with the stress of his attempts to be more social left him with little energy at the end of the day. And then there was that short time in his life in between the mess that destroyed him and everything he’d learned for himself about human interaction – that painful blip in his life that kept gnawing at him any time he felt alone. He’d roomed with three of the most infuriating people he’d ever known, but it had been his only option upon leaving his parents behind.

It was a large home with rooms made into apartments, all of which were occupied once Kolton moved in for a short while. He had only needed a place during the transition while he sought out an affordable house, his life of luxury having spoiled him in the most horrible of ways. He noticed often the way the others stared at the gold and silver jewelry he wore – his rose gold watch one of the only presents his father had ever given him for Christmas one year. The rings were of his own acquisition, but their value alone was enough to have them kept hidden at all times when he wasn’t wearing them. The only housemate out of the three that never really bothered him, and seemed to be at peace with life in general, was the nature-loving blonde Minkz.

Minkz Murdock lived in a world all his own. His hair was equivalent to an 80’s glam metal band fashion disaster and he often wore a ridiculous pair of short cut-off shorts for a man. His heavily tattooed body only added to the clash of style that the man was. Regardless, he was kind and mostly kept to himself when he wasn’t outside fishing behind the house in the large lake. For some reason he’d taken an interest in Kolton, often watching him from afar and eventually striking up small conversation. At the time Kolton was repelled not only by his lazy, nature-loving persona, but by the fact that the man was obviously hitting on him. Repulsive.

Regardless, the two started talking more and more, Minkz inviting Kolton out back to sit with him in nature and Kolton rejecting many times. Eventually, Kolton made his way out to humor the man and found that existing in nature, where the only sounds were the wind and the rushing water, was rather healing and quieted his constantly rushing mind. He’d picked up smoking then for a short while, although he eventually stopped. During that time, Minkz would often share a cigarette with him – not because the man smoked himself, but to have a reason to be closer to the ex-rich boy that intrigued him so much.

“Why are you so fascinated with me?” Kolton put out his cigarette and slipped his hands into his pockets as he watched Minkz’s fishing line follow the stream of water.

“Honestly? I think you’re hot.”

“That’s a bit forward, isn’t it?” Kolton blushed and looked to the ground, suddenly wishing he hadn’t ventured out to the lake that afternoon. It was too damn hot out anyway and he was in one of his black turtlenecks. Minkz shrugged.

“Life’s too short not to be honest, man. Let me guess, you aren’t actually gay, are you?”

“I’m asexual, actually.”

“You can be asexual and have a preference – or no preference like me.”

“How can you not have a preference?!”

“So you do, then? Sorry, man. My gaydar just goes off when I’m around you.” Minkz chuckled as he began to fight a fish tugging at his line. Kolton blushed a dark pink.

“That’s rude. Besides, we’re much too different to even consider such a thing.” Yet, Kolton had actually thought about it. Even if it was just a fleeting thought brought on by the conversation, it hadn’t repulsed him as much as he’d wanted to say out loud. He felt queasy. Minkz had finally brought up the small fish that was now flopping around in the dirt and rocks.

“Different? Money doesn’t have anything to do with it.”

“I didn’t mean money…” Kolton suddenly felt self-conscious. It’s not that he wasn’t attracted to people of lighter skin colors, but that someone with skin so beautiful and pale like Minkz would even find his extremely dark skin attractive. He had always been self-conscious about it due to being teased in school for being one of the only kids with skin so dark in his class. Racism wasn’t something he was a stranger to.

Kolton was caught off guard when Minkz stood before him, lifting his chin to better see his pale gray eyes. The man’s voice was warm and gruff. “Kolton, you’re an attractive man regardless of anything so superficial. I think your skin is beautiful. You should be more confident in yourself.” It was the first time Kolton had ever been kissed or even considered kissing anyone, let alone a man dressed like some Woodstock hobo. Regardless, he’d fallen into it like a love-starved teenager, his whole body screaming at him to push Minkz away and never see him again. Once the rush in his stomach had turned to nausea he found the will to push the man away, backing up to gain some distance and wiping his mouth as if he’d tasted something foul. He’d been without affection his whole life in any physical manner and the very idea of it made him shake with anxiety. Minkz watched after him as he left angrily to return to the house, the blonde man returning to his fishing while deep in thought.

“Jupiter, there you are!” Kolton flipped on the light as he entered his home, his best friend coming to greet him with a wet kiss that was full of slobber. The man chuckled and kneeled down to hug the cream and tan colored Borzoi, rubbing the dog’s sides before ushering Jupiter into the kitchen. “Would you like a biscuit? Have you been a good boy?” The dog barked excitedly and Kolton tossed him a treat, then proceeded to make something for himself. It was much too late and he had gone without eating for most of the day. His stomach was still in knots.

Ever since Minkz had ruined him he’d discovered something within himself that he’d always tried to keep away. He had spent so much time fearing and detesting all forms of physical affection – love or friendship-wise – that he’d lived a celibate life up until then. Until Minkz had crept into his room and showed him just what physical affection could feel like and what he’d been missing for so many years. Kolton felt his cheeks grow warm and his stomach flipped in that familiar way that told him he was going to need a cold shower. It still disgusted him – that feeling that people often likened to ‘butterflies’ – but it seemed that once awakened it was a switch that he couldn’t turn off again. He hadn’t even seen Minkz since he’d moved out of there and he hadn’t been with anyone since they’d experimented that one night. Not until more recently when he’d decided that he couldn’t take it anymore and he had to explore those feelings again. He had to confront the fact that he’d been a closeted gay man for much too long, and rather it was Minkz’s fault or not, it was a beast that was slowly clawing at the closet door in a demand to be let free. He had himself to satisfy his embarrassing urges, but apparently that wasn’t enough.

So he’d gone out for the first time in search of… something. He’d purposely dressed provocative – revealing more of his dark skin that he tried so hard to cover up. It was progress at least, if he could even count it as anything positive. He was still confused and he still didn’t know anything about anything. He’d made it far enough to enter the nightclub, be hit on by a rather douchey looking guy, and then leave before the guy could even turn back around to hand Kolton a drink. The music had been too loud and there were too many people – too much noise. So he’d ended up in the city square, sitting by a fountain with dancing lights and suddenly so self-conscious he could have crawled into a hole. He’d felt naked even though he wasn’t.

Kolton managed a few bites of his sandwich before putting the rest in the fridge. It was going on ten at night and his office seemed a comforting getaway to all of his problems. Flipping on the dim light that illuminated the red wallpaper, Kolton sat down at his computer to start a new poem. He’d been writing a lot of poetry since he’d began exploring himself and who he truly was inside. He couldn’t admit it out loud or even truly to himself, but in reality, he was thinking about Minkz. Every time he sat down to write a poem the man’s glam rock blonde hair slid into his thoughts, remaining there until Kolton felt the need to pour bleach into his ears to cleanse the memories. The man had made him into an insatiable depravity.

Jupiter was at his feet, curling around his cold toes as he typed away. Giving into the words that wanted to remain hidden was at least a bit of a catharsis for his exhausted mind. Although it would probably never see the light of day, the series of poems that flowed from his fingers brought about a quiet that would lull him into sleep, Kolton once again realizing he’d almost fallen asleep at his desk. With his computer on standby and the house dark, Kolton drug himself up the steps with Jupiter at his heels to disrobe in his bedroom and then sink into the gray-blue silk sheets on his king size bed. His dreams were full of heartache and closeted monsters.

©2018 Shane Blackheart

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Kolton

 

Bear Your Arteries! (Original writing)

(This is a short bit of writing practice I did based off of some Sims 4 gameplay. Lucifuge Rofocale, a demon who lives as a vampire, couldn’t get enough of Bjorn’s blood. So, naturally, I had to write a story about it. MATURE themes ahead! Open-minded older teens & adults only! Link to a related Youtube video based on this story below.)

Bjorn stretched widely upon entering the old yet lavish home. He often visited – usually a few times a week at least. His absence had been much longer this time, however, and Lucifuge had become irritable. The demon who lived as a vampire had no shortage of ‘blood supply’. There was his chosen occupation, which brought many to his home in search of obscure sexual tastes – at times allowing Lucifuge to feed on them. This was a rare occurrence at the best of times and Lucifuge often was left with nothing but monetary compensation for his services, which was the expected outcome anyway. When it came to his particular tastes in blood, though, Bjorn seemed to be the only human who could sate his bloodlust.

The man was of average height with blonde hair that was slicked back just above his shoulders, still short enough to be decent for a human male of his age. His years were beginning to show on his brow and in the soft crow’s feet that were forming on his face. He was of average build but was lazy in his lifestyle and way of dress, often adorned in a beige sweater that fastened in front by a few buttons, a white t-shirt beneath, and a pair of faded dad jeans to complete the image of a sloth of a man. He spoke in a Southern drawl that made Lucifuge cringe with distaste, but despite all of this, at least the man had a redeeming pair of baby blues. Overall, he wasn’t the worst looking man on the planet. He could probably become quite attractive with a few trivial changes here or there, but Bjorn was as he presented himself, which Lucifuge had no control over.

And there the vampire was, focusing on all of this as his hunger for blood grew. He instinctively ran his hand over his silver braid to the side of his shoulder to occupy his hand with something. He knew his eyes were glowing a dark crimson by the way Bjorn seemed to back away from him ever so slightly, which wasn’t the norm. More than likely, his face had also changed due to his dark mood, the lines in his skin much more prominent and the shadows consuming his eyelids. He watched Bjorn as if he were eyeing up his prey and a dark, half-grin stole across his features. “My dear Bjorn, what has you so unnerved?” His dark and sophisticated English accent was clearly taunting, tugging at his guest’s nerves. Bjorn cleared his throat and leaned back against the window as if he were distracted by something outside. A low fog had started to drift about the property line.

“I just… I get nervous sometimes that the wife will catch me. We been doin’ this for a while now, you know? She’s gonna start to wonder where I go all the time at my age.”

“And that is exactly why she won’t suspect a thing. Is it so uncommon for a 40-year-old man to go out with friends to the bar? Play a game of poker or get completely pissed?”

“I got kids too, Lucifuge.” Bjorn sighed and ran a hand down his face. “I just don’t know how long I can keep doin’ this with all that weighing on me. I’m also a straight man.”

“Straight?” Lucifuge burst into laughter, leaning back on the second-floor railing for support. “Call yourself whatever you please, but what we do is far from it.” The vampire waited for his laughter to die down before he eyed the other man with a gaze to make even the most doubtful compliant. There was something within his dark red eyes that caused Bjorn to crumble inside no matter how hard he would try to avoid them. That damnable gaze won every time.

“Just take what you need so I can leave.”

“You love it and you know it. It’s a shame it had to be you, though.” Lucifuge pushed away from the railing and approached his guest, carefully sliding a hand low on the man’s hip and the other to the side of Bjorn’s face that had started to flush. He brought his lips close to ghost across the man’s neck, delighting in the shiver it brought forth. “You’re detestable. Your voice gives me a headache and your very existence irritates me. Yet… “ Lucifuge flicked his tongue out to tease the skin that had just begun to scar from repeated punctures. “I can practically taste your sanguis suavis.”

Bjorn held his breath as he expected the pain to come, but it never did. The vampire seemed to hesitate as he pulled his mouth back, watching Bjorn with interest. “What? Why didn’t you drain me?”

“No, that wouldn’t do for my current mood, I’m afraid.” Lucifuge pushed Bjorn back with force and the man fell onto the red satin sheets covering the lavish bed behind them. “The hunger will make for an interesting session – wouldn’t you agree?”

“You’re scaring me.” Bjorn’s heart threatened to break free from his chest as the vampire crawled over him, pressing their bodies together. Lucifuge’s voice lowered to barely above a whisper as he teased his lips along Bjorn’s ear.

“I must find a way to rekindle your interest. I can’t have you doubting what we have now.”

“Lucifuge…” A sigh escaped Bjorn as the body above him began its torturous dance. He felt utterly powerless and was embarrassed by his growing desire. “We don’t have nothin’ but convenience for you.” He groaned in pain as a clawed hand came up to grab his slightly fuzzy jaw, squeezing as it forced his head to the side to look into a pair of swimming red eyes.

“You can’t hide it from me when we’re like this, you fool. You’re quivering in your boots – which, speaking of…” Lucifuge released the man and sunk low to the floor, pulling both boots from Bjorn’s large feet. He then returned his gaze to the man above him and slid his hands along Bjorn’s thighs as he leaned up on his elbows to watch, the vampire tempting his desires as dark fingers crept higher. Lucifuge slid his tongue across his fangs, toying with Bjorn as his body swayed in an intoxicating spell that soon had the man on the bed gripping at the sheets in anticipation. “There is another artery here…” Lucifuge squeezed high on Bjorn’s thigh and the man forgot to breathe. “… and I’ve yet to try it, although I imagine your blood is rushing elsewhere.” The vampire laughed darkly as the man above him became compliant, falling back onto the bed and closing his eyes. “Speechless?” Lucifuge’s hand crept up to the button on Bjorn’s jeans, flicking it open and dragging down the zipper. “Then let’s begin.”

©2018 Shane Blackheart

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Check out the Sims Machinima I made based on this general story here: Lucifuge & Bjorn – Bear Your Arteries!

Thanks for reading! Let me know what you thought, and feel free to subscribe or follow to get more stories and random musings.

Purple & Gold (Original Writing)

(This is a short story I wrote to visit a happy place I desperately needed. When the brain decides to beat me up, this is my only escape sometimes. In the story is myself, my vampire hubby Lestan who is a multiple, and Byleth who is one of my spirit guides and a Fallen Angel. There is some mature humor, as a warning.

“Where are we now?” Byleth’s white heels became saturated in sand as he walked across the dark beach. I looked up at him from where I stood dressed in a pair of black trunks with 90s -streaks-of-neon in the design and a black tank. Lestan was at my other side wearing a much shorter pair of red and black shorts and nothing else. Byleth was, of course, in his usual white t-shirt, white bell bottoms, and red jacket.

“Somewhere.” I looked out over the expanse of sand and water, the ocean’s sprays barely felt on my face. Below my feet, the sand was purple and black with shimmerings of gold in the large moon’s light, and the water was a crystal blue, although the pale moon washed over everything with a dull offset that made it comforting rather than unsettling. I tugged on Lestan’s hand and he followed me to the water’s edge where I dug my feet into the wet, oddly colored sand. The breeze was much stronger here and it caressed my face with a featherlight touch that calmed me.

Lestan’s hand left mine as I ventured further. He seemed worried as I stumbled, moving further and further until I was up to my knees in water. The waves were kind tonight and there was no threat to be drawn under, but I wouldn’t have minded. After a short time, Lestan came up behind me and ran his hands along my arms, bringing his front against my back to better wrap his arms around me and embrace me for comfort. “It’ll be okay, love. Come on, let’s get back.”

“Just a little longer.” I stared out into the inky blackness of the ocean. I usually feared large expanses of water and avoided them at all costs, let alone coming so close to the edge of oblivion. And depending on where we were in any given space in time, if time even existed in this world, it was a guess as to the eldritch horrors lying beneath – maybe even just feet away. “I wonder how close we are to the drop-off.”

“Well, I’m not keen on helping you find Cthulhu, so let’s back away, okay, baby?” Lestan pleaded with me once more, finally drawing me back with him until I stumbled, accidentally dragging him down with me into the sand. We both laid face down in the dark, purple-gold beach, my body on top of Lestan’s. I quickly sat up in apology and watched as he lifted himself and turned around to face me, lifting an eyebrow in mild exasperation. “You still haven’t come down from the meds, have you?”

“Not completely, sorry. I’m kind of… trippy? No, that isn’t it…” Lestan laughed at my response, grabbing my tank and pulling me down on top of him. I straddled his thighs and attempted to clean off the rest of the dark sand that had latched onto his pale, thin face. He stopped me after a few swipes and took my wrists gently, holding them in the air where they were. “But you look silly like that, and it’s all in your hair…”

I was silenced with a kiss that came in slow and soft, just enough to take my breath away before lingering to ghost a chuckle across my open mouth. “It’s not going to hurt me.”

“No, but I feel bad because I literally knocked you on your face.”

“Then I’ll just have to put you on your back to make it even.”

“How’s…?” I grabbed onto Lestan’s arms as he laid me back and crawled over me, his hand wiping off the remainder of sand from his face. A small bit of purple and gold shimmered down from his medium-length black hair onto my cheek. “… how’s this considered making it even?”

“It isn’t. I just wanted an excuse to get you horizontal.” He grinned as I clammed up, my heart jumping into my throat. A pair of footsteps shuffling through the dark sand gained our attention and we both looked up to see Byleth in his bare feet, which wasn’t something I’d ever really remembered noticing. His feet were rather… normal for a Fallen. I gazed upon the rest of him standing tall in nothing but a pair of white swimming shorts that were much shorter than I’d have expected him to wear.

“I figured it would only be a matter of time before you two ended up like that.” He smiled as he passed us by to approach the water’s edge, and my face turned a dark shade of crimson. White shorts. Water. White shorts… water. Lestan must have noticed my discomfort and climbed off of me, laughing.

“What’s got you so unnerved, baby?”

“White water… “ I shook my head. No. “White shorts and water don’t mix.”

“I beg to differ,” Byleth mumbled as he walked into the ocean’s gentle waves. Lestan and I sat side by side as we both observed the Fallen King and his fascination with the vastness of such a place. It brought to mind the many mundane questions I’d never asked him in our short time of knowing each other, but had it really been so short? How long did ‘almost two years’ mean to a Fallen Angel?

“Byleth, how many times have you been near the ocean?” He turned around at my casual question and crossed his arms in thought. The water was up to his thighs. Lestan and I had slid closer, our feet touching the water’s edge with the flow reaching our knees.

“I’ve spent a lot of time observing your world but not really being a part of it. Not many humans are keen on keeping a demon ‘buddy’ let alone a serious romantic relationship of any kind. So my romantic ocean dates? Nil.”

“This isn’t a date, really.” I sighed, the wet sand getting stuck between my toes and my feet becoming buried. The breeze felt like a breath of healing across my naturally frowning lips. “I just needed something different. Something dark but nice at the same time. I didn’t want to go to just any beach because most of them are too bright and full of people.”

“So you made your own. Good job, sugar. I rather like it.” Byleth smiled and braced himself against the small waves that crashed against his backside, finally wetting his shorts. He glanced down and sighed. “I guess that was going to happen sooner or later.”

I glanced around even though I knew full well that the beach was empty save for us. It wasn’t any particular place in time anywhere, so it was as I wished it to be, but regardless of that fact, there was a six point five foot attractive, chiseled Fallen Angel approaching us with a pair of soaking wet white shorts and my head was screaming. Lestan poked my cheek that had become impossibly redder.

“You know he did that on purpose, right?”

“I honestly didn’t plan on getting wet.” He let a small lecherous chuckle slip before sitting beside me, sandwiching me in between him and Lestan. “Depending on the context, that is.”

“I need to relax, guys. At this rate you’re going to give me a heart attack. Both of you.” I caught my eyes wandering down to his shorts and quickly jerked my attention back to the ocean before us. As if on cue once more, my eyes wandered back over to him. Thankful that he’d seemed to be fascinated with the ambiance and the scenery in the distance, I caught sight of his light blonde hair that was nearly platinum – still perfect save for the strands that were feathering across his sharp features in the breeze. His golden horns that twisted up toward the sky glistened like solid gold itself in the moonlight. I wanted to touch them.

Lestan watched with amusement as I reached up to slide my fingers along the rough surface that looked much smoother than it really was. This drew Byleth’s attention back from the ambiance and he glanced down at me from the side to not move his head too much, my hands becoming more exploratory as I followed the horn’s shape up to the sky. A quiet sigh escaped him and he finally turned his head to look at me fully, taking my exploring hand that had been pondering the sharpness of the tip. “Sugar, keep doing that and I’ll have more than just puns when it comes to being wet.”

“You could feel that?” I was truly curious. Was it the same as a cow or a deer, or any other animal with horns?

“Well duh, they’re a part of me. So trust me, yes, I feel it.” With my hand still in his grasp, he lowered it into his lap and I looked off to the side in embarrassment.

“Yep. I… I guess you do.” He released my hand and I felt my fingers twitch in want to withdraw, but I left it where it was. Byleth returned his focus to the ocean, and Lestan had taken to hugging me from my side. Occasionally I’d feel his kisses on my shoulder and on my head, his long, thin fingers coming up to run through my blue-black hair. In that moment I felt possessive over both of them and it brought a warmth to my heart that I’d been missing. My free hand slipped into the back of Lestan’s shorts and I felt him smile against my shoulder. My other hand squeezed Byleth’s thigh affectionately, which seemed to act as a sort of invisible sign for him to come closer. He laid his head on mine and with Lestan on my other shoulder, I felt complete.

My whole reason for having created such a place and wanting to exist in it forever was still very much there, and I still very much wanted to never return. At least here I was surrounded by any one of them, Byleth and Lestan being the two to call forth the strongest. Daro would probably appear soon and if all went well there may even be more familiar faces, perhaps Lucifuge Rofocale for a proper introduction to the others.

But now was our time. It was quiet and intimate and peaceful. There was no urgency in the air and no worries to create that incessant vertigo that Medusa-ed me into stone. There was just Byleth and Lestan, and me, and the dark expanse of night – black and purple sand with its shimmering gold flakes – and the large, oversized moon that allowed a bit of light over the darkness. And then there was the expanse of ocean that could have been a symbol for the void, but at least with my boys there, I could see an expanse of interesting things that hadn’t yet been discovered.

©2018 Shane Blackheart

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(I’d like to start posting more of my one-shots here that I happen to write. Expect more!)