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Month: June 2017

2 Years of Impact Day

I can’t believe this has actually been running for 2 years! That’s a lot of posts, and a lot of story. If you’ve stuck with it for this long, thank you!

I started Impact Day because of a story I had stuck in my head. For about a decade. The first novel I ever tried to write was called No Longer Human, and it went through 14 rewrites. I still have every version. I was a pretty bad writer back then. I’m a much better writer now, but I hope I can look back in another 10 years and feel the same way.

Anyway, NLH kept growing, and became bloated and messy, as my ideas grew, and I tried to jam them all into one story, that became a trilogy, then a quadrilogy, and then a hot mess of books. I even wrote a same universe book, the first I self published, called Morning Star. It’s no longer canon, and I don’t sell it anymore. I’ll get back to that, though.

Impact Day served a lot of purposes for me. Regular content releases seemed like a good idea for a master procrastinator. It forced me to finish things, and not edit constantly, and be happy with getting thing out in a timely fashion. And it sure did help with that! You can tell by the complete lack of editing and copious spelling, grammar and continuity errors in the early stuff, and even in some of the stuff today. I don’t edit it.

At first, it wasn’t ~important~. It was something I did on the side, a writing exercise, and if people enjoyed it, great! If they didn’t, well, it wasn’t for them, anyway. But after two years, I can’t honestly say that anymore. I’ve put a lot of love and hard work into this story, and it means a lot to me. I hope it means something to you, as well.

It’s been interesting, working with the pacing of a story that updates bit by bit, rather than a whole contained novel. It definitely changes the way I approach storytelling. You might even be able to tell the difference, since the first half of Volume 2 is largely cannibalised from No Longer Human. That story got renamed to Dead Girls Don’t Cry after about 11 drafts, and is now Volume 2 of Impact Day, with a lot of changes. And the pacing, style and content are all quite different to Volume 1.

How much do I have planned? I couldn’t tell you. There’s definitely a Volume 3, and that kind of wraps up the small-scale story of Impact Day. By the time we get there, though, there are a lot of new questions that need answering. So there’s a Volume 4 in the works as well. After that? I dunno. That’s another couple of years away, at least. I’ve got time. There’s definitely a big plan for the universe, though.

Whatever happens next, I’m going to be putting a lot more work into this story, this world, this creation. I hope that you’ll get something out of it, and continue to enjoy it, I hope you’ll engage, and I hope you’ll support it.

Thanks for reading, and remember,

I love you.


Chapter 34 – Collateral Damage

Seven Months Before Impact Day

“So,” Aidan said, acting casual. “Did you catch whatever that thing was in Fed Square today?”

“I was there,” Mark said. “It was quite the spectacle.”

“What even happened?” I asked, wondering how much Mark suspected. There was a good chance he knew about my immortality, possibly had before I ever did. If that was true…

“A lot of unnecessary drama,” Mark said disdainfully. “Some fool just painted a target on their back, and every gun in the city is going to be pointed at it.”

“Isn’t that a good thing for you?” I asked. “This could keep you in work for, well, however long it lasts. And then some. Everyone loves a retrospective thinkpiece.”

“That’s certainly an optimistic perspective,” he said carefully. “Personally, I’m a little more preoccupied with the more direct consequences of the stunt.”


“Some of the most powerful criminal organisations in the city, possibly the world, have just been publicly challenged,” he said. “By someone claiming altruistic intent, no less. An anonymous hero, with no obvious vulnerabilities. Now, how would you respond to that?”

My gut twisted and my heart sank as I processed immediately what he was suggesting. Aidan looked at me, a casual glance that belied the same grim realisation.

“Collateral damage,” I said. “They’re gonna go after civilians.”

“I certainly would,” Mark agreed. “Punish the altruist, reinforce their power, reassure the less confident among their own numbers.”

“That’s a scary thought,” I said weakly.

“It’s a scary world,” he replied wearily.

“I wonder if they think it’s worth it,” Aidan said. “The vigilante, I mean.”

“Oh, almost certainly,” Mark said. “They’d have to convince themselves it’s worth it. That they’re fighting some kind of noble war, and the end justifies the means. They’ll feel guilty about the consequences, but the cost isn’t theirs to pay, not really, so they’ll push through. Eventually, they’ll fall prey to the sunk-cost fallacy, and every casualty will reinforce the need to continue, so the lives already lost won’t be in vain. Both sides will push harder and harder, escalating until one side loses or the city is consumed.”

I felt a chill run down my spine. Mark didn’t make eye contact with me once, but I knew he was speaking to me. Somehow, he knew, and he’d seen right through me.

Was that just paranoia? Would he have said any different if he didn’t suspect me? Probably not. Maybe he had no idea at all.

“Sounds like you’ve got your first article already written,” I said with forced joviality.

“I suppose so,” he said. “And write I must. When words are all you have, all you can do is share them with the world, and hope that they resonate. In a world such as this, what else could I contribute?” With that, he pushed out his chair, and stood. “If you’ll excuse me, I have a lot of work to do.”

Aidan and I exchanged worried glances.

“Do you think he knows?” Aidan asked.

“I can never tell, with him.”

“He was right though, you know.”

“Maybe,” I said. “It doesn’t matter. I can’t do nothing, and I can’t allow their poison to go unchecked.”

“Have you ever considered that maybe they’re not the problem?” Aidan asked. “That it’s the system that’s failing us, and they’re just a symptom?”

“Maybe,” I confessed. “But I don’t know how to fix the system. All I know how to do is fight the disease.”

“Right,” he said solemnly. “Well, I’m going to bed. I’ll talk to you tomorrow, Charlie.”

“Sure,” I said, feeling a little hollow.

Two Months Before Impact Day

“Ahh, yes, your big public entrance,” he said, sneering at me. “If we’d known then that you were just a teenage girl and a few friends…”

“You wouldn’t have taken me seriously, and it would have bitten you in the arse,” I said. “Oh wait, that’s exactly what happened.”

“I don’t think you caused quite the amount of damage you think you did,” he scoffed. “And look at you know. You’re in here, alone, and we’re still going strong.”

“How foolish of me,” I said dryly. “Guess you’re right. You’ve won, I lost, end of story.”

“Do you want another month in concrete?”

“This time, I’m calling your bluff,” I said. “I know you’re running out of time.”

“What makes you think there’s a time limit?” he demanded.

“Because my friends are still out there, and they’re a lot more dangerous than I am,” I told him.

“You’re the only immortal,” he pointed out. “Them, we can kill.”

“And yet you haven’t. And you won’t, because they’re not just a few teenage brats. And I know for a fact they’re still causing you one headache after another.”

“They’re a manageable concern,” he insisted.

“You still don’t get it, do you?” I asked. “Liz and Aidan are tools, very dangerous tools. There’s no secret Aidan can’t uncover, and no back safe from Liz’s knife, and they’re not the ones you need to be worried about.

“You haven’t been listening. Rachel will stop at nothing to get me back, and she’s not just clever. She’s a tinker. Do you understand what that means?”

“Your girlfriend is a nerd,” he said dismissively.

“My girlfriend is supernatural,” I said. “Given enough time, she can build anything, and so far, she’s had four months. What do you think she’s got waiting for you?”

“Bullshit,” he snapped. “You really want me to believe there’s another supernatural human out there, that you just magically found each other, and fell in love?”

“Don’t forget Wendy,” I said.

“Right, your café” owner. We looked into her. Nothing came of it.”

“She scared your men off, huh?”

“I think you’re just full of shit,” he said.

“Well, you’ve got one thing right,” I confessed.


“The idea that the only supernatural people in the world all live in the same city, all know each other, purely by coincidence, is bullshit. So what do you think that means?” I asked.

“That you’re a liar.”

“Dude, I am a literal immortal. I actively defy understanding or explanation. Do you really want to hang your hat on that being the only one that exists? That I’m lying about everything except that?”

“What’s your explanation, then?”

“You’ve only just started to scratch the surface of what I really am,” I told him. “And I promise, you’ll be dead before you’ve figured me out.”

“I thought you were against murder,” he said.

“Oh, I am,” I said. “Ethically. I genuinely believe there isn’t a person alive that deserves death, no matter their choices.”

“Then I’m finding it difficult to understand why I should take your threat seriously,” he said.

“Because you’ve spent four months torturing me,” I said. “Everyone has their breaking point. You found mine when you left me trapped in a block of concrete for a month.”

“Ah, so I am getting through to you,” he said.

“Rachel, I really need you to hurry up,” I muttered.


Next Week: Everything’s Gonna Work Out Just Fine

Chapter 33 – Not Broody Enough To Be A Superhero

Seven Months Before Impact Day

“We need something big,” Rachel had said, looking down at the city below. “Something public. We need to undermine the control they feel like they have. Challenge their authority.”

“I don’t like where this is going,” Sadie had objected, though nobody heard but me.

“They need a reason to want to capture me,” I’d agreed. “What did you have in mind?”

She’d only grinned. If only I’d listened to Sadie…

I took a deep breath, now ready to enact Rachel’s absurd plan. Doesn’t get much more public than this…

There were hundreds, maybe thousands of people gathered in Federation Square, including just about every media outlet in the city. Aidan had done a remarkably good job of making sure this would be as public as possible. I knew Mark would be among the journalists gathered, and silently hoped he wouldn’t recognise me.

If everything went according to plan, there was no way he could. The mask Rachel had crafted for me covered my face completely, and the armour more or less disguised my body shape. The glowing red eyes gave me a vaguely demonic look, and the black and grey colour scheme only added to that.

“This is a terrible idea,” Sadie said.

“Shut up,” I replied, my voice filtered through the mask.

The crowd was getting restless. None of them knew why they were here, only that it was important. All they could see was a large black box on a stage.

“No time like the present,” Rachel’s voice buzzed in my ear. She was far away, and safe, but I was still worried.

I stepped out onto the stage, causing a wave of murmuring and confused stares. For a few moments, I just stood there, staring back at them, trying to quieten down my thumping heart.

“This is not performance art,” I said, my voice amplified through dozens of speakers, and filtered to the point of being unrecognisable. “This is not a publicity stunt. This city is poisoned, and today, I’ve officially declared war on the source.”

Confusion, incredulity, scepticism. Nothing I hadn’t anticipated. Still, it was a little unnerving.

I nodded, and the sides of the box fell away, revealing a cage. Inside of it, a high-ranking member of Vengeance, looking thoroughly pissed off and just a little worried. Above me, a screen lit up, scrolling through incriminating photos, documents, messages, all acquired by Aidan.

“These gangs are everywhere. They touch everything, control everything, make our streets unsafe. Their masters hide in the shadows, puppet masters pulling your strings, profiting off your fear, above the law and beyond reproach.”

The bars of the cage lowered into the stage, freeing the man. He froze, unsure of what to do.

“One by one, I’ll dig them up, and air their dirty laundry. I’ll disrupt their operations, destroy their safehouses, and bring their empires to their knees.”

Movement in the audience. Several Vengeance members burst forth, revealing concealed weapons, screams erupting from the civilian masses. A gun was thrown to the captive, and within seconds, a hail of bullets tore through me.

Rachel’s armour was surprisingly effective. In less than a month, she’d constructed something even militaries would have killed to their hands on. It wasn’t enough to make me completely bulletproof, but what damage was done would heal. The illusion would be that the armour was even more effective than it was.

I ran across the stage to the captive, my left hand slamming into his face. An electric current travelled through the gauntlet I wore, delivering a shock strong enough to drop him to the ground, twitching.

The police present acted quickly, shutting down the other gang members. They’d all shot at someone, with illegal firearms, in a public place, in front of cameras. This time, the police had crimes to charge them with and evidence to arrest them. More importantly, my message had been sent. The city knew I was here. The gangs knew I was coming for them.

Of course, the police tried to come for me next. I kicked a hidden switch on the stage, causing thick black smoke to fill the air. A catapult built into the stage launched me into the air, carefully calculated by Rachel. I landed in the Yarra River, sinking fast, where Liz met me, helping me strip off the armour, stuff it into a bag, and with the help of an oxygen tank, stay underwater until we emerged in the harbour.

We pulled ourselves out of the water, and disappeared into a public restroom where changes of clothing were waiting. We dried ourselves off, got changed, and began to make our way back to the apartment where we’d made our base.

Rachel and Aidan met us when we returned, grinning. Rachel hugged me tight, whilst Aiden and Liz just nodded awkwardly at each other.

“How’d we go?” I asked, when Rachel finally let go.

“They’re pissed off,” Aidan said, scrolling through tabs on his laptop. “There’s a lot of confusion, a few heads rolling, and talk of a bounty.”

“Sounds like mission accomplished,” Rachel said smugly.

“I still say it was needlessly showy,” Aidan said. “We could do this entire thing discreetly, digging up information and passing it to the authorities.”

“They’d figure out ways around it,” I said. “And it wouldn’t teach them anything. They’re used to dodging the law. What they’re not used to is me, and besides, isn’t this more fun?”

“I didn’t realise fun was an important factor,” Liz said coldly.

“Why shouldn’t it be?” I asked. “What, am I not broody enough to be a superhero?”

“Is that how you think of yourself?” she asked, irritated.

“How would you describe me, if not that?”

“An egotistical, self-centred clown,” she said.


“You’re welcome to leave, you know,” Rachel said, right on cue.

“And leave you without a voice of reason?” Liz asked. “No, I think you need me.”

“Well, I think everything is going great,” I said. “But sure, I can take things more seriously. Aidan, let me know when they’ve set a trap for me, so I can get myself captured.”

“Shouldn’t be long,” he said.

“For now, we should get home. Mark’s probably expecting us.”

“Right, right.”

Rachel and I said our goodbyes, and I promised to call her after dinner. She was sticking around in the apartment, tinkering with whatever her latest project was. Liz, not wanting to be left alone with her, opted to return home too.

“Why didn’t you tell me sooner?” Aidan asked, as we sat on the bus together.

“About what?”

“Everything,” he said. “Rachel, how you were feeling, what you did…”

“I don’t know,” I lied. “I guess I never really found the words for any of it, and I was worried…”

“Worried? About what? Did you really think I would judge you? Don’t you trust me?”

“No,” I said. “It wasn’t about you. It wasn’t about trust. I just…” I leaned into him, resting my head on his shoulder. He wrapped an arm around me, idly playing with my hair.

“It’s complicated?” he offered.

“It’s complicated,” I agreed.

“I just don’t want to lose you,” he said. “You know I love you, right?”

“Of course,” I replied. “And I love you too. You’re family, and I promise, nothing will ever change that.”


Next Week: Collateral Damage

Chapter 32 – This Was Doomed From The Start

Seven Months Before Impact Day

After a month of solid training, planning and preparing, everything was finally ready. All the pieces were in place, and all that was left was to give the push that set it all off.

Things were tense with Liz for a while, but the friendship endured. I may not have wanted to date her, but she was precious to me, and I worked hard to make sure she knew that. We reconciled, and she and Aidan were entirely invested in my mission. They were so loyal; it almost broke my heart to think that wasn’t going to last much longer.

I didn’t want to use them, but there was no other way. The stakes were so much higher than anyone realised, and I couldn’t let sentiment get in the way of what needed to be done. Once it was done, they’d understand, surely. I could explain it all to them, and they’d forgive me. Together, I really believed we could save the city.

Besides, they both needed a push to become what I knew they could be. Liz might not have wanted to be a killer, but she was born to be a hero. She was the perfect sidekick, and once it was all done, I felt sure she’d embrace her destiny. She had too much potential to spend it on anything other than helping people.

And Aidan, he was incredible. I wasn’t sure if he even realised it, but his ability to manage information, contacts and plans was almost preternatural. With him helping with the planning and running of missions, it was all but guaranteed things would go smoothly. He was exactly what I needed.

Of course, Rachel continued to excel. Her brilliant mind continued to allow her to create more and more useful tools for me, and while I might not have been Batman, I sure was getting close. She was the only one who knew what I was really planning, the only reason any of it was possible. I couldn’t have asked for a better partner in crime.

Sadie eventually came to terms with my new lifestyle, often coming with me to play lookout or just keep my company. Things weren’t necessarily great, but as she put it, at least they were interesting. It was more than I’d hoped for.

Wendy, for the most part, stayed out of our way. That was just fine. Every so often, I prodded her, asking her to help, to fight with me, because that’s what I needed her to believe I wanted. Every time, she refused, much to my relief. She gave no indication she knew what I was really planning.

“Alright, here’s what I’ve got,” Aidan said, as Liz, Rachel and I took our seats around the dining table in our new ‘secret’ base, an apartment owned by Liz’s parents that they never used. Some kind of emergency safehouse they didn’t mind loaning to her without asking questions. Aidan placed a laptop on the table, swivelling it so we could see the screen.

“Did you make a slideshow?” Liz asked, smirking at him.

“As a matter of fact, I did,” he retorted.

“You’re such a nerd.”

“Yeah, yeah.”

“Less flirting, more working,” I interrupted, and they both blushed.

“There are four major gangs in the city,” Aidan said. “Vengeance, The Clan, The Imperials, and The Stars.”

“I’ve never heard of the Stars,” Liz said.

“They’re new, and not really worth our time right now,” Aidan said. “Their activities are all pretty low-key, they don’t hold any territory, and they haven’t caused much trouble.”


“I didn’t even know they were distinct gangs,” I admitted. “I thought they were all just, kind of… Actually, I don’t know what I thought.”

“That much is obvious,” Aidan said critically. “You didn’t think, and that’s why you never made any headway. Honestly, without us, this was doomed from the start.”

“Well, that’s why you’re here,” I said sweetly. “So, what’s our next move?”

“We focus on Vengeance,” he said. “They’re the biggest, and most dangerous. Taking them down has the biggest impact, and sends the strongest message.”

“Lovely,” I said. “How do we take them down?”

“Well, like we discussed before, you need to get yourself ‘captured’ by them. Right now, they don’t know you’re not working alone. Rachel provides you with a tracking device, and Liz rescues you, taking one of their leaders at the same time, and we interrogate them.”

“I thought we were luring them out with fake military technology?” I asked.

“That’s for phase 2,” he said. “Just trust me, okay?”

“Always,” I lied.

“We’re going to convince them this is a much bigger operation than it is,” he explained. “That’s what you’ll tell them, when you get captured. And when Liz rescues you, it’ll confirm it. When I leak that we have some big-time hardware, they’ll pull out all the stops to get their hands on it.”

“Only, it’ll be a trap,” Rachel chimed in. “We let them take the device, use it to spy on them for a bit, then set it off, hopefully gassing some of their higher-up members, letting us swoop in, recover it, kidnap a bunch of them, and keep climbing that ladder.”

“Sounds solid to me,” I said. “Alright. Let’s do this thing.”

“Great. Rachel, you get Charlie ready. Liz, you and I have some last-minute planning to do.”

Aidan and Liz disappeared into the office, and Rachel and I made our way into the bedroom. She pulled out a sturdy black briefcase.

“More presents?” I asked.

“Not the fun kind,” she said, opening it. “For once, your immortality is actually working against us.”

“How so?”

“Your body rejects foreign objects too quickly,” she said. “I can’t just implant a sub-dermal tracking chip, it’d get pushed out within minutes. So I gotta plant it way deeper, and wrap it in something your body won’t reject, while somehow still be able to receive its signal.”

“Hey, if anyone can do it, I’m sure you can,” I said.

“Oh, I already figured it out,” she told me. “It just won’t be very comfortable for you.” It was only then I noticed there was a plastic sheet over the bed, and surrounding floor. “Take your top off and lie down.”


“What, no flirty quip this time?” she asked, raising an eyebrow.

“Right now I’m more concerned with that scalpel you’re holding,” I said.

“Told you it wouldn’t be comfortable.”

I sighed, pulling off my top and lying down on the bed. She climbed on top of me, wrapped in a surgical smock and wearing gloves.

“At least talk me through what you’re doing,” I grumbled.

“If you want…”

“I do.”

“Alright. I’m going to cut open your chest, and drill into your collarbone, leaving a small gap for me to insert the chip. Bone won’t reject it the way flesh will, and it’ll be close to the surface.”

“I really wish anaesthetic worked on me,” I muttered.

“Me too, love.”

“Well, fair is fair. My body is yours. Cut me open.”


Next Week: Not Broody Enough To Be A Superhero

Chapter 31 – The Deluded Fantasy Of A Lonely Teenage Girl

Part 4 – Everything Goes Wrong

Two Months Before Impact Day

“So, is this the point where you tell me that getting captured was your plan the entire time?” he asked, more amused than concerned.

“No, that comes later,” I told him.

“Of course it does,” he said dryly. “So, tell me about this secret plan that you and Rachel hatched.”

I shook my head. “Not yet. We have to get through the next part first.”

“Your little ill-conceived trick? I am curious to hear how that went.”

“I’m surprised you don’t remember it,” I said.

“It would have needed to be significantly more widespread to have warranted my attention,” he told me. “I was vaguely aware of some minor vigilante work, but until I heard about your unique… gift, you weren’t even on my radar.”

That surprised me a little, but it also told me a lot about where he stood within the organisation. It was useful information.

“It’s nice to feel special,” I quipped.

“And what about your theory?” he asked. “About why you wanted to wage this little war of yours?”

“Oh, that. Well, let me put it this way. If you didn’t know that I was immortal, and I was telling you the rest of this story, what would it sound like to you?” I asked.

“The deluded fantasy of a lonely teenage girl,” he answered immediately. I felt my lips twitch into a sneer, but I held a straight face.

“Harsh,” I said. “But essentially accurate. So now consider that I am immortal, and everything I’m telling you is true. What does it say about that fantasy?”

“I’m not sure what to make of that,” he said.

“Well, that’s about as well as I can explain it. So, do you want me to continue my story?”

Eight Months Before Impact Day

Liz and I stood perfectly still, staring at one another. The padded floor was comfortably familiar beneath my bare feet. Like me, Liz was wearing loose, baggy clothing. She’d traded her glasses for contacts, and her already short hair was tied up.

It was obvious that neither of us wanted to make the first move. I’d never sparred with her before, and I didn’t really know what to expect. Would she be aggressive? Defensive? Was she better on her feet or on the floor? I could see in her eyes she was wondering the same things about me.

Without warning, I struck, lashing out with a quick double step and a side kick. Liz reacted immediately, side-stepping my attack and going for my throat with an open palm strike. Crap, she was fast.

I managed to deflect her strike with my forearm, and regained my balance just as she came at me again. I twisted my body at the last second, and her attack glanced off harmlessly. Before she could recover, I locked my arm around hers, and hooked my foot behind her ankle.

She recognised the movement before I could drop her to the floor, turning with me and breaking free of the hold. I tried to sweep her legs out from under her, but she leapt backwards, putting some distance between us.

The expression on her face was vicious. My own must have reflected it, because she quickly forced her face back to neutral.

“So,” I said, moving around her, planning my next attack, “are you gonna tell me what’s bothering you?”

I slid forward, feinting, then came at her with a roundhouse kick. She danced backwards, avoiding it.

“Do you really want to have this conversation now?” she asked, her eyes darting between my feet and my face.

“We’re alone, seems like a good time for it,” I said.

I stepped into her attack radius deliberately, trying to look distracted. She took the bait, coming at my throat again with a viper strike. I moved just as quickly, using her momentum against her and turning her around, but she recovered before I could drop her.

“Fine,” she said, backing away momentarily. “I’m mad at you.”


“For not trusting me,” she said.

I slid in close and went for her face with a quick jab. She flinched sideways and attacked my wrist, connecting with a pressure point. Pain shot down my arm.

“Like you trusted me, you mean?” I asked, trying and failing to keep the venom out of my voice.

I rubbed my wrist, glad to not have lost any mobility. I was starting to get a feel for how Liz fought. It was brutal.

“That’s not what I’m talking about,” she said.

“Well, it’s what I’m talking about,” I told her, coming at her with a feint to see how she’d react. She moved away. “Why didn’t you ever tell me?”

“Because that’s not who I am,” she said darkly.

“What?” I said as she lunged suddenly, a painful jab that connected with my shoulder. “Of course it is.”

“No, it’s not,” she insisted, as I charged towards her. “I am not a killer.”

She leapt away from me again, just as I’d predicted. I shifted quickly, turning my momentum into a travelling kick that connected with her stomach. The force knocked her backwards, but she recovered before I could press the advantage.

“I don’t think you are,” I told her. “But your parents, your training, that’s all a part of you.”

“Well, I don’t want it to be,” she said, rubbing her stomach.

“Maybe not, but it is,” I said. She met my eye. “And I love you no matter what.”

Her face froze, then she threw herself at me. I caught a flash of metal and realised she’d pulled a knife from somewhere.

I hurled myself sideways, rolling and turning. She followed me, surprisingly aggressive, and I got a good look at the knife in her hand. There was no way it was anything but a weapon.

Still low to the ground, I shifted my weight to my hands, and used them to balance as I struck out with my feet, slamming them into her chest. She staggered back, but kept her grip on the knife.

“Don’t,” she said, shaking her head.


“Don’t you dare say that to me,” she snarled.

Her anger stunned me. Were things really that bad between us?

“What, because of Rachel?” I asked, terrified that her answer would be yes. The last thing I wanted was for that to come between us.

“Yes, because of her,” Liz said.

I let my guard down, I was so astonished. She came at me again, and I rolled away too slowly. The knife cut through my arm, sending a spray of blood across the floor.

“Seriously?” I asked, instinctively applying pressure to the open wound.

Liz looked bashful all of a sudden, her body language far less aggressive. She lowered the knife.

“Not… Not like that,” she said. “I don’t care that she’s a girl.”

“Then what is your problem?” I demanded. The wound on my arm was already beginning to heal.

“You never told me you were gay,” she said. “Or whatever you are.”

“I never really thought about it,” I told her. “It just kind of happened. Why does it matter?”

She blushed, something I hadn’t seen in the entire time that I’d known her. She met my eye, and her face was full of regret.

“Fine, whatever,” she said. “I think I’m done for today anyway.”

“Like hell you are,” I snapped. “What is going on with you?”

Anger flashed in her eyes, and suddenly the knife was raised again. I silently willed her to try and attack me again.

“Did you ever think about me?” she asked, taking me by surprise yet again. “Was I ever even an option?”

I didn’t know what to say. She stared at me, waiting for an answer, and when I didn’t say anything, she sneered. Then she threw the knife at me.

I flinched, avoiding the knife, but it was just a distraction, and she was coming at me with another knife. She thrust it at me, an attack that would have killed anyone else if it connected.

Annoyed, I slammed my palm into the blade, which cut right through. With the blade embedded in my hand, I twisted it and wrenched it out of her hand. I caught her by surprise, grabbing her wrist and twisting it around behind her, holding her in a painful arm lock.

“No, I never thought about you,” I told her. “And you don’t get to throw that in my face.”

I let her go, and she pulled away from me, glaring.

“I’m not—”

“Liz, I love you,” I said. “You’re one of my best friends, and I can’t imagine my life without you. If that’s not enough for you…”

She sighed, her shoulders slumping.

“Of course that’s enough,” she said. “I’m sorry. I just…”

“I know,” I said.

“I want to support you, I really do.”

“You have been,” I told her. “I know this is hard for you, with your family history.”

“I have a thousand and one complicated feelings bouncing around my brain, and I don’t know how to express any of them,” she said.

“Try hitting me.”

She laughed.

“I don’t think that would help,” she said.

“You’d be surprised. Come on, really try and hurt me. I promise, I can take it.”

“You’re really weird, you know that?”

“So I’ve been told,” I said with a grin.


Next Week: This Was Doomed From The Start