Oh wow I'm behind. You guys haven't heard from me in over a year now. Oh well, I have a dual surprise for you today. I forgot to post the last Halloween event because it was so late (writing went well into November and didn't even get to a point I wanted it to end on). So today, on the fifth anniversary of the Cracker's start, I grant you 9volt's super spooky scary one-shot story.

***

October 31st, 2030.
Mobius Castle.
Five elves gathered around a roaring fire on All Hallows Eve. They had gathered for the yearly tradition of storytelling. Already Nick and Scott had told their stories, and this year the torch would be passed to the only shapeshifter of the group.
“I missed out last year,” Elementres said, sipping from her banana smoothie, “How was Scott’s tale?”
“Awful,” Nick blurted out.
“God-awful,” 9volt added.
“I liked it,” Elementire said with a slight smile.
“He pulled a Twilight Princess,” Nick continued.
Elementres sighed, glaring at Scott, “What the hell?”
Scott scowled, “All of you can suck my throbbing werewolf dick.”
Nick laughed, holding up a strawberry smoothie, “At the very least, The Smoothie Story was good, right?”
There was a long awkward silence, broken finally by Elementire, “I liked it.”
They all looked at her. Nick smiled slightly, “Well I’m not really sure what to think about this.”
9volt took a sip from his blueberry smoothie, nervous. He spoke, “Well now it seems that it is my turn to tell the tale.”
“It better be a good one,” Elementres said, picking at her nails with a knife, “I get bored easily.”
The shapeshifter smiled, “I’m sure you’ll like it. Our story begi-”
“I’ve got one,” Elementres interrupted.
Everyone looked at her. Elementire frowned, “One what?”
“A story,” Elementres explained, “I’ve got one. You’re the last person alive, and you’re alone in a room by yourself. You hear a knock at the door.”
There was a pause. Scott furrowed his brow, “How did everyone else die?”
“Why would I be sitting alone in a room?” Nick questioned.
“Is it an animal or a plant that fell over and is the one making a knocking sound...?” 9volt pondered.
“Your story’s full of holes, Elementres,” Elementire pointed out.
Elementres shrugged, “I’ll work on it for next year, then.”
9volt shook his head, “Right, this year it’s my turn. As I was saying, our story begins at the turn of the twentieth century...”

***

October 31st, 1900.
Croydon, England.
9volt walked along in a blustery evening. It was snowing heavily, and he was the only one out at this time of night. He quickly shifted his body into one with a heavy build, becoming more accustomed to the cold.
He hugged his jacket close, his pace steady now. Somewhere from outside the city, he heard a wolf howl. He narrowed his eyes at the sound, turning the corner. He walked along, eventually coming to a grubby tavern. He wrenched the doors open and slipped inside.
He pulled off his coat and hat, changing his body back to its normal shape. He looked around for a moment, and then slung the coat over his shoulder and put his hat back on.
The place was abandoned, with the exception of the bartender silently washing glasses with his head bowed. Soft candlelight lit the room, but the tables and chairs were all empty.
9volt hesitantly stepped up to the counter and sat down on a stool. He cleared his throat and the barkeep looked up at him. The shapeshifter nodded uncertainly, “Is this the Particular Inn?”
The bartender rolled his eyes, “This is the Nowhere Inn Particular pub. It’s an inn in Nowhere town, named Particular. Nowhere Inn Particular.”
9volt took this all in with a raised an eyebrow. He looked around and sighed, “No business tonight?”
The bartender shook his head, “I got a small gathering scheduled, rented out the whole place for the night. So far no one’s showed up. You part of that group?”
9volt pulled a small slip of paper from his pocket, “Yep. Got my invitation right here.”
The bartender looked at the clock and then went back to his work. 9volt turned to look at the door. He sighed, “It’s getting pretty late though.”
The bartender grunted in agreement. 9volt frowned, ordering a drink. As the bartender slammed the glass down on the counter, the door suddenly swung open, and the howling wind swept a chilling air through the air. The shapeshifter downed his drink, not looking at the gale that raged through the small pub. The barkeep shouted out, “Shut that damned door, you’re letting all the heat out!”
The door creaked on its hinges as the newcomer struggled to close it. After a moment, they were left in silence. The stool next to 9volt was pulled back, screeching against the floor, and a rather short young man sat down.
His head only poked up above the counter. His size was quite comical, and he rapped his knuckles against the wood in front of his face. He spoke in a quiet, but unusually deep voice, with a raspy tone, “I’d like to order a drink for my friend here-”
“I already had one,” 9volt interrupted, holding up his empty flask.
The newcomer frowned, “I see. Well you may call me Iota the Observant.”
“9volt,” the shapeshifter replied with a frown. Iota had long dark hair that hung down over his face, obscuring his left eye. His fingers twitched, every second a different one changing its position. Still he knocked against the counter, and then raised his hand.
The barkeep turned his back to them, grunting, “Maybe you’d like to buy a drink for yourself instead.”
Iota smiled, waving his hand, “No thank you.” Out of thin air, a goblet made entirely of bronze was conjured into his palm, its stem fitting neatly between his middle and ring fingers. It filled from the base up with red wine, and his raised it to his lips, whispering, “I already poured myself something.”
“Wh- how did you...?” 9volt stammered in awe.
Iota turned to the shapeshifter and smirked, “I am what is known as a Manifestor. The rule that ‘energy can be neither created nor destroyed’ does not apply to me. I can create any object of any size, any shape, any density, any mass, and in any state with any temperature, velocity, kinetic energy, potential energy, sense of magnetic, nuclear, or gravitational forces I so desire. I am only limited by my own imagination, but otherwise there is nothing I cannot make.”
9volt went deathly still, a shiver running up his spine. He placed a hand over his mouth, thinking. He narrowed his eyes, “But you cannot make anything you do not know the exact properties of, correct?”
Iota shrugged, “It depends on what it is.”
9volt stared at the Manifestor. He lowered his hand, commanding, “A tiny bicycle made of silver with twenty-three spokes on one wheel and thirty-five on the other.”
Iota held out his left hand, which now held the object 9volt had described, “Simple enough.”
“An inverted lizard, with its organs outside the skin but held in place by an external skeleton.”
Iota grinned, holding up the creature by its tail, “Tricky, but doable.”
“A copy of the Magna Carta, with all original signatures properly written.”
“That would be in your ear,” the Manifestor indicated. He waved a hand, and a roll of parchment fell from 9volt’s body and landed face-up. It was a perfect replication.
“A list of all people that have died in the past year in the country of Finland,” 9volt challenged.
“I cannot do that,” Iota countered, “I would have to personally know the fact before I can print it.”
“The weather forecast for tomorrow.”
“I also cannot predict future events.”
“Understandable,” 9volt said, “Your powers function similarly to shapeshifter logic, except instead of changing your body’s composition, you are creating something entirely new.”
Iota cracked his knuckles, “Give me something really hard now. I haven’t had this much fun in ages.”
9volt thought hard for a moment. At last he snapped his fingers, saying, “A one-thousandth scale model of the Eiffel Tower of Paris made of dove feathers, using a foundation of emeralds and support beams of compressed mercury.”
Iota wiggled his fingers, sighing joyously. He turned to a nearby table, and from it arose a diorama of the entire city of Paris, meeting all of 9volt’s specifications. The buildings were crafted from jade and cut glass, with perfect architecture throughout. He shuddered, admiring his creation, “I got carried away. Paris is a lovely city.”
“That is amazing,” 9volt said, examining the model.
“In addition to my Manifesting abilities, I also possess a photographic memory,” Iota explained, “Any detail I experience for even a fraction of a second I will remember for the rest of my life.”
9volt looked at the Manifestor in awe. He swallowed, “Why have you brought me here tonight?”
Iota sighed, “I came in here to kill a shapeshifter.”
9volt tensed up, his fists becoming clenched.

***

October 30th, 1900.
South Croydon, England.
Francine Smith lived a quiet life. She had married her husband, Jean, two years prior, when she was twenty years of age. They had moved here from France, wanting to start a new life together. While she was merely a housewife, he worked as a newspaper printer. It was a meager existence they shared, but they were comfortable together, living each day by day without any worries out of the ordinary.
She stared out of the window, frowning. Jean had acted strange this morning before going off to work. He hadn’t looked at her and barely spoke a word. She shook her head, sniffing. He was also very late coming home. She glanced over at the grandfather clock next the the fireplace. It was nearly midnight now. She walked to their shared bedroom and laid down under the covers, sighing. She sniffed again, narrowing her eyes at some strange smell that she had caught earlier that she couldn’t place. She shrugged. The house lay silent and dark in the night, and Francine soon fell asleep.
What seemed like a few hours later, she felt the covers rise and her husband slim next to her. She smiled, unable to see his face in the dark, “Long day at the press?”
She could feel his short, hot breath panting on her neck. She turned her head slightly, looking at his figure over her shoulder, “All tired out, I take it?”
She could see him slowly nod in the dark. She smiled, rolling over. Her hand reached out, cupping his face in her hand. His skin felt cool, sweaty, and oddly slimy, most likely from the paper pulp, although she wondered how it got on his face. She frowned, “You’re a mess. I’ll draw you a bath, I’m not sleeping with you when your face is like that.”
She got up out of bed and picked up a box of matches from the side table. She went to the bathroom and looked back toward her husband, “You’d best get up on your own. I’ll drag you out of that bed if I have to.”
She opened the door to the bathroom and lit a match. She gasped in alarm, dropping it immediately.
In front of her lay her husband’s mangled corpse, twisted all around as if by some huge blender. It dripped blood, as it had been doing all day, and the smell of rotting flesh was overwhelming.
Trembling, she drew another match and lit it, her shaking hands making it difficult. Suddenly she felt a hand on her shoulder, and she looked down at it. It was scaly, with large claws and a layer of slime over it. Her eyes grew wide.
“Come back to bed, dear,” it whispered.

***

October 31st, 1900.
Croydon, England.
A woman’s scream pierced the night. 9volt and Iota turned in the direction it came from, and then Iota said, “Perhaps I should have been more straightforward. I came here to kill a shapeshifter, but apparently you are not the one I’m looking for.”
“What are you saying?” 9volt demanded, furrowing his brow.
Iota nodded his head towards the door, setting off at a brisk pace towards it, “I’ll explain on the way!”
They slammed out of the Inn, running towards the sound of the scream. It had only sounded for a brief moment before being cut off.
“There is something,” Iota explained, “Either an Elvin Shapeshifter or a creature otherwise I don’t know, that is killing off humans. However, this killer is unique in its actions. So far it has only taken ten victims, but the way it twists and mutilates them is-” The Manifestor stopped, looking sick, “I’d wish not to remember it. The point is that this creature is instilling fear in the people rather than killing for the sake of pleasure.”
9volt frowned, “So you want my help in capturing this...thing?”
Iota gave him a half smile, “Well now that you offer it, I could use some help.”
They took off running again. After a moment, a shadow flashed past them, and then slowed to a halt. Iota, wide-eyed, turned, “That was it! After it!”
9volt gasped, “It ran right between us?”
“It was moving so fast that it was near impossible for us to detect,” Iota theorized, “It doesn’t know we’re here, and since humans have much slower perceptions, there’s no reason for it not to.”
He raised an arm, Manifesting a surreal firearm with glowing blue lights. He pulled the trigger, firing off a laser of wispy energy. The bolt struck the shadow in the back and it fell to the ground, stunned.
“Now!” Iota called out. They ran forth, the Manifestor discarding his gun in exchange for a blue orb that grew as he drew closer.
The shadow stood. It turned, bits of its body floating out like sparks from a flame. Its body was a bulging beast with thick forearms and large clawed fists. It lacked a lower body, coming straight out from the ground. Waves of a tangled and messy black hair-like substance flowed down the creature’s back, whipping around in the windless night. Its jaws parted, revealing a wide range of teeth of every format; human, animal, fish, and many more. A tail rose up from the murky shadows below it as it lowered its stance.
9volt drew back, “Iota, stand back! It’s going to-”
On the tail formed a sickly axe-blade that shimmered in the moonlight. The creature roared, spinning around. There was a flash of light as the blade cut through their surroundings.
The air was still. 9volt stood deathly still, his arm still outstretched towards his Manifestor companion, eyes wide with fear. Time had slowed to a halt. Slowly, out of the corner of his eye, he saw a light pole slant, split diagonally in two. The top half fell, the cut cleaner and more precise than any cut 9volt had ever seen. Time began to resume, and all around them objects began to fall apart, all split directly in two along the same path the tail had struck upon: half of a flower pot fell to the ground and shattered, wrought iron bars that covered windows on the north side clanged to the ground, even the street itself on the south side was cut, the earth split in a wide arcing pattern.
Then, a tiny, indescribably small line of red formed along the abdomen of Iota’s waistcoat. The fabric ripped apart, and 9volt felt the same happening to his own clothing. His molecules seemed to detach from each other, his upper body falling to the ground. He grunted, specks of dirt flying up his nose and into his eyes. He quickly looked up at the Manifestor.
Iota’s eyes rolled back in his head as his body split cleanly in two. He fell backward, spewing blood from his wound. He gasped, crying out into the night as he looked down upon himself. He threw his head back, screaming terribly in agony.
The creature paused for a moment, and then its mouth parted, curling back in what looked like a sinister smile. It released a deep, haughty sound and then melted into the ground, becoming nothing more than a shadow and a memory.
9volt’s body reattached itself, the molecules rejoining. He got to his feet, stumbled, and then fell again. He ran over to the Manifestor and gasped, hot tears flowing down his cheek, “Iota!”
The Manifestor looked up at him and smiled, then his eyes grew dark. He took one last long look up at the stars and then moved no more.

***

October 31st, 2030.
Mobius Castle.
The elves sat in stunned silence. Nick was the first to speak, “I thought it was decent.”
“Two people died,” Scott commented, “And that’s it. It really wasn’t very scary, per se...”
The rest of them thought this over. Finally, Elementres raised an eyebrow, “I agree with Scott. It really isn’t that noteworthy of a story.”
“Oh, come on!” 9volt yelled.
“Sorry, honey,” Elementire said solemnly.
“You didn’t like it?” 9volt cried, turning to the vampire. As she shook her head, looking at the floor, he scowled, “I suppose nothing can please you people.”
“The ending just seemed rushed,” Nick said, “I mean, imagine a situation where you have an entire year to write a scary story down, but you waste the first eleven months, get pretty far in the next three weeks, but then can’t think of an adequate ending, so you end up taking another half a month after your deadline to finish it.”
There was a pause as no one spoke. Finally, 9volt threw up his arms in frustration, “I honestly cannot think of a situation like that. It’s ridiculous and anyone that does something like that just sounds lazy.”
Elementres stood, sighing, “This was disappointing. Next year I think I won’t have to try too hard to scare you all shitless, if this is what you’re used to.”

***

December 31st, 1900.
London, England.
The shadow sulked through the streets, waiting and watching. For... three and a half months it had stalked this country and haunted it. There was no connection between its killings, having chosen a variety of means to carry out its murders.
No... that was not the right word. It was not murder. More like pest control. Yes, humanity was a pestilence, was it not?
Somewhere in the back of its mind that did not sound right. But he drowned that voice out. Shadows did not have voices nagging at their minds. They only spoke out loud... and only in whispers. Yes, that was why it was doing this. The fear of the whispers.
Although those stupid humans did not realize it - their ears clouded the sound that it sung so sweetly to them, like a lullaby - the shadow whispered terrifying promises of peace and quiet, of darkness and an end of suffering.
The shadows only whispered of death.
And the expressions that he twisted upon their faces - not just from the horrid whispers, but also the expressions it carved into their skin - were simply delightful. Suicide in this country was on the rise because of its appearance, and it would continue for years. But this shadow’s search had come to an end.
Its target had found it.
On that night two months ago, when it had been revealed, it had hoped the two would simply give up their chase. It had killed one and left the other. But the Royal Guard had stepped up security. Ultimately that became their downfall, as they led the shadow to its target.
Queen Victoria - God Save the Queen! - had gone away. Without the shadow to keep her company. It would show her that she was missing out.
That was six days ago. But the shadow felt compelled to stay in this capital city. For what reason, it knew not, but now was the time to move on. The Isle of Wight was its destination.
It swiftly moved through the streets, unleashing an invisible storm of spores. The spores were a creature, half fungus and half virus, that sought two things: to disease any person they came in contact with, and to reproduce. Yes, this nasty and tiny powder the shadow let loose as it pervaded across the land were its sperm and its eggs. If they were met with those of another of its species, more of the shadow would be born.
But that would never come. There were none like it. Even the shadow himself was only a shade, using this form as a disguise.
It slowed as this thought crossed its mind.
“Him...self?”
Its thoughts were interrupted before long as a man formed before it - the same one from that night, it recalled vaguely.
He spoke out at it, raising a finger accusingly. The shapeshifter - that must be what he was, the shadow had seen that race somewhere before - his words were muddled but pierced through to its inner mind. He invaded it, which filled the shadow with suppressed fury.
“Begone!” he shouted, “Leave this world, before I force you out of it!”
The shadow, in its true form, rose out of the ground. The shapeshifter winced at the sight of it. It only rose a quarter of the way out of the ground, revealing its head. Just like that night long ago, thin wafts of smoke rose off of its body and drifted away through the night. Long, hair-like tendrils hung down around its bulbous skull, and waved around madly in the windless night. The jaws of the creature opened, and the shapeshifter took a step back at the sight of its random assortment of teeth plastered together like a child’s art project on the canvas of its lips. The effect was made worse by the fact that all of its teeth - every single one - was at present coated in dried black blood.
The shapeshifter clenched his fists and then charged forward, “For Iota!” His fist sparked as lightning danced up and down his forearm. The shadow creature, with no patience left, swiftly moved to the side and then surged forth. Leaving the shapeshifter behind, in mere minutes it was able to reach the trap that its mouse had cowardly set herself in.
It scaled the walls of the stronghold with ease, dispatching the guards with ease. There was no art and no pleasure in their deaths. They were simply practice brushstrokes to wet its appetite. The satisfying masterpiece was to be painted soon.
Without difficulty the creature soon found itself standing at the bedside of Alexandrina Victoria, who slept soundly despite the imminent danger. Smiling in delight, and standing fully aboveground now, the creature leaned forward. It unfolded one of its bulging fists and gently scraped a thin claw along her cheek. A strand of pollen that the shadow-creature had been secreting fell into the cut, pussing immediately as the body fought the infection in vain.
A sharp pain shuddered through the shadow, however. It fell to the floor with a great thud, and the walls shook with its weight. Stunned, it slowly moved its head to look up, and saw with great rage the shapeshifter standing over it. Instead of letting loose its fury, the creature closed its mouth in a humble grin.
The creatures final thoughts were as such: “Bested.. beat.. my time is up, I suppose. This chance at renewed life, I.. cherished. Small matters. Someday, maybe soon, I will come again. Better.. the best...”

***

January 1st, 1901.
Southern England.
As the sun rose and the twentieth century began, 9volt dragged what was left of the shadow creature onto the southern coast of the island country it had ravaged. Much of its body had disintegrated away in smoky wisps of darkness, but there was still the fragile skeleton left over. He collapsed onto his back, turning his head to watch the sun rise.
Just as his eyes had begun to drift shut, he heard a gasp of breath. He straightened with a start and quickly turned his attention to the beast. It stood shakily once more and then fell to its knees as its outer skin faded away, revealing the shapeshifter hidden underneath.
“This must be what Iota meant,” 9volt thought, “This creature was merely a shapeshifter.. an elf in disguise.”
The younger shapeshifter coughed and gagged, spewing the meager contents of his stomach. Whatever was left was unidentifiable black mush. He cringed, his entire body convulsing in horror.
“My name.. 9Fear..”
“9volt,” the elder said in introduction.
“That creature.. I took its form.. but whatever it was.. became me. You must believe me, I was trapped beneath its skin. My mind was aware of every ghastly terror my body committed and I could do nothing.. nothing to stop myself.”
“I believe you,” 9volt said quietly, “Not just because you are my brother. I trust that creature was simply too terrifying to put into words. It had an otherworldly quality about it that I do not feel with you. I suppose in a farfetched way it is possible for something like that to happen.”
He trailed off, and for a moment the world was still. It held this peaceful gaze for a moment, and the two elves watched the sun rise in a brief harmony, savouring this precious time before parting ways soon after.

***

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World Nobles... Slaves... Human shops... Against the "purity" of these "upper classes", the villains of the world look positively humane in comparison. It's because the world's in the hands of scum like them that it's all screwed to hell... I mean, we're not the nicest of guys, but at least we're honest about it. - Eustass Captain Kid, One Piece

Hello everyone. Apparently illness must really love me. Yesterday in the wee morning hours after eating some cereal, I vomited. After vomiting two more times, I came down with some diarrhea. I actually used the bathroom and vomited at the same time once. I tried drinking some Sprite to settle my stomach but I just wound up throwing it up. After suffering in agony from a skull-splitting headache and stomach pains the rest of the night, Grandma took me to the ER. I got medicine inserted into me via IV and got a shit ton of blood drawn from me. Oh and the IV was inserted into my wrist so double pain for me. After being there for over 2 and a half hours, I went home and went to sleep for several hours. Afterwards I went to CiCi's Pizza and ran into my cousin there. And I wound up going to the bathroom after eating several slices of pizza. Now I feel somewhat ok. My head kinda hurts but it's not that bad.

Nothing more than a broken man starring death in the face. All my mistakes have got a hold on me again. Here we go. Another day, another fork in the road. I never know who to trust. Will someone just tell me which way to go?
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