A celestial walks the streets of the small town Chaos Point, Minnesota. The town is not small in size, more in population. It seems old despite being founded 50 years ago. The asphalt roads are painted in faded tar and the houses seem well put together. The celestial looks around at his surroundings, dragging a suitcase behind him in one hand, holding a phone in the other. His hair is as black as night and it dances in the wind. It shines under the sunlight, matching the bright glow in his sunshine coloured eyes. On his cheek are 18 dots which make the shape of the constellation Boötes, one dot a lighter shade than the others. His skin is a rich shade of mahagonny, his face speckled in white freckles like stars or falling snow. He appears very frustrated with the person on the phone.
“Gabriel, is this really the place?” The phone crackles in response. “Gabriel? Stars dammit, of course this damn phone won’t work,” he grumbles. He shuts the flip phone closed and shoves it in his pocket. He arrived by bus and finally makes it to the main town.
He looks around for somewhere to eat. Since being exiled, he had to get used to the typical human experience which includes getting hungry, taking a piss, the usual. In his search, his eyes land upon a man sitting on a rocking chair on the porch. He sighs and heads over there, thinking the man might be able to help him.
The man is very focused on writing something down, his eyes not leaving the page even as he greets the celestial before him. “Hi. How can I help?”
“Um hi. Is there anywhere around here to eat? Also is this really Chaos Point, Minnesota?” the celestial asks the man.
He looks the celestial up and down a bit before going back to writing. “Yes. Welcome to Chaos Point. Don’t know why you moved here. It’s an absolute hell hole. And later if you’d like I could show you somewhere to eat. I just gotta finish my work here.”
“Work?” the celestial asks, seeming to mock him.
“Yes, work. What’s your name, by the way?”
“Nathan.” Nathan’s eyes gleam in the sunlight as he looks up at India. The right one is a rich brown, like a soft patch of dirt swirling the deep sea, the left one a hollow grey with a scar running over it. His hair is a gentle shade of coffee and his skin is a glowing shade of jacobean. There’s a small chunk of cartilage that had been ripped off from his right ear, like something took a bite out of it. Over his vanilla sweater is a blue denim jacket and he wears black jeans to go with. Great, denim on denim India thinks to himself. His boots go up to his ankles, revealing cat socks that disappear under his jean cuffs. He seems to ooze charisma despite it being a facade and he has absolutely no clue what he’s doing half the time.
“Where the hell am I supposed to go while I wait for you to finish your ‘work’?” India asks, getting annoyed.
Nathan smirks. “It’s almost like there’s a bookstore behind me you could wander before I finish up. I’ll come inside to get you when I’m done.”
India grumbles under his breath as he enters the bookstore. It’s pretty small compared to other books stores he’s seen but it has a nice, cozy vibe to it. Behind the register is a short human with a warm presence and a mullet of curly green hair, black roots snaking into the mix. They’re wearing a green bomber jacket over a yellow polo shirt and plaid black pants that completments their skin tone–a shade of salem wood–very well. Pinned to their shirt is a name tag that says Riley. They greet India with a smile, seeming to spread the splatter of freckles on their face wider. Their eyes are the colour of sunshine passing through a bottle of whiskey. “Welcome to Little Bookshop of Horrors. Yes, kind of like the movie except we don’t have any horrors here, except the book genre. I just couldn’t think of another name. How may I help you today?”
“Oh I’m just wandering around,” India says.
“Alright well if you need anything, don’t hesitate to ask.” Riley goes back to scrolling on their phone because what else are you supposed to do at a cash register when no one’s buying something? Just… wait there? Yeah no, not happening.
Sitting in a chair near the back of the shop is a witch with long, raven black hair that falls to her shoulders in a beautiful stream. Her striking purple eyes are framed by circular glasses and her skin is a shade of polished natural oak. She wears a black varsity jacket over a yellow shirt, brown corduroy pants, and her lips are painted an elegant pink. Her posture is appalling–she’s half out of the chair, her converses kicked off, showing her mismatched socks. She seems absorbed in her reading, not even the noise of books falling snapping her out of her trance.
India’s head jerks to where the noise came from and standing there is a tall woman with cherry red hair, clearly dyed. She smells strongly of lavender and honeysuckle. Her nails are painted a sunny yellow, her hands dressed in lace fingerless gloves–the kind you could find at a Spirit Halloween. Her skin is a beautiful shade of brown cherry wood. Around her waist is a brown leather jacket and she wears a maroon button-up that’s tucked into her patch-work pants. The woman curses under her breath as she picks up the fallen books.
“Let me help,” India says. He helps her pick up some of the books and hands them to her.
“Oh, thanks.” She smiles at him. Pins clink from her lanyard which holds her name tag. Chilali “Cherry” reads in the same comic sans font from Riley’s name tag. She looks at the witch in the chair, her sharp brown eyes shooting daggers.. “Some beings are actually helpful unlike you, Hecate.”
Hecate raises her hand and lifts only her middle finger. “Shut it, Chilali.”
“Oooo, you said my full name. Should I be scared?” Cherry teases.
“No, I don’t have the energy to curse someone right now,” Hecate lies.
“Knock it off, you two,” Riley says from the front of the store. “Just because there aren’t many beings in here doesn’t mean you can start arguing. Hecate, actually do some work please.”
She sighs, “Fine,” then shuts her book, reluctantly getting up from her chair.
India wanders around a little longer, overhearing Hecate helping out a customer, the sound of books being slid out of the shelves, and Cherry talking with Riley.
Then the door opens and Nathan calls out, “India.” and he takes his cue to leave.
As he walks out he notices the look on Cherry’s face and wonders why exactly she’s looking at Nathan like that but then decides it’s none of his business and walks out, the door shutting behind him.
“So how was the book shop?” Nathan asks, stuffing his hands in his jacket pockets.
“Not too bad. I’ve seen bigger, but it was pretty nice.” India shrugs. “So are you finally gonna take me to get food or?”
“Yeah sure, but if you don’t mind I’d like to make it at my house. Between you and me, the cheap food around here isn’t any good. You either have to go to a fancy diner or make it yourself and I don’t often have the money for fancy diners.”
India ponders this. “Well I don’t really know you. How do I know you’re not gonna just kidnap me and turn me into a llama?”
“This isn’t the Emperor's New Groove, but that’s true, you don’t know me. How about I make it at my house then bring it over to yours?” Nathan suggests.
“I’d rather be able to monitor what you do with my food. You seem trustworthy enough, considering you understood my reference, but I’ve had bad experiences with trusting beings I just met. So I suppose I will come over to your place so you can make me food. And thank you for doing so. I still haven’t gotten accustomed to the feeling of hunger,” India says.
Nathan laughs. “Alright. My house it is.”
Riley locks up shop for their 30 minute break. Hecate went with Cherry to visit the dragons so they’re left to their own devices. They wander around, window shopping the antique shop down their way to the park. They eye a glowing jukebox, desperately wishing they had the money to spare for it. But they need to focus on food, water, electricity, the bookshop and the house.
When they get to the park, they wave to a vampire who’s dangling from the large oak tree above. He has a wicked grin plastered on his face, his jet black hair draping down his face. Hanging under his chin is a black face mask. His eyes are an electrifying green and his skin is a pale grey, like ash. His ears are pointy and two small brown horns sprout from his forehead. Scars cover his face and his sweater sleeves slide down to his hands. His jeans have big tears in them, showing bruised and scarred up knees. He swings around the branch and lands on the grass, leaves crunching under his boots.
“Hey Riles,” the vampire says, greeting Riley. He pulls up his face mask.
“Hi Andrew. How’re things?” they ask.
“Not too bad. My friend is still alive so that’s something.” Andrew shrugs.
“Are you able to get him out yet?”
Andrew shakes his head. “He’s not ready yet. Hopefully soon. But I’d rather him take his time and have a good plan than for him to rush it and get caught.”
Riley nods in understanding. “Hey, is it ok if I take my lunch break here?”
“Oh yeah! I’d love the company. It gets boring talking to birds all the time.”
Hecate helps Cherry fill up the feeders for the baby dragons. The older ones still have ample food as there are less of them around. The barn smells of old hay, meat, berries and fruits. The ground is covered in hay, the sticks pokey and uncomfortable if you sit on them for too long. The interior is plain brown wood but the outside is painted a crimson red with a mural of the stars on the front doors.
“So how was college? I don't think I asked at all since you got back,” Hecate says.
“Oh, it was fine. I dropped out though since I realized it wasn’t really what I wanted to do, y’know? None of the classes gave me the same energy and enjoyment as what me and my parents used to do. So I came back. They might not be around anymore, but at least I can carry on their memory.” Cherry stares off into the field, the grass and the tree branches dancing along to mother nature’s melodies.
Hecate nods solemnly. “Yeah, just don’t get killed, ok? You’re like, one of my only friends.”
“I’m your only friend,” Cherry points out.
“Hey! I also have Riley!”
“Your significant other doesn’t count.”
Hecate rolls her eyes and goes back to filling the feeders.
India sits on the kitchen counter as Nathan makes them both some lunch. India is enthralled by the process, the cracking of eggs, the sizzle from the pan, the bread popping out of the toaster. When Nathan is done, India smiles wide at him.
“I only really know how to make breakfast food without a recipe,” Nathan says, laughing nervously.
“I don’t mind. Food is food.” He takes a bite. “Wow, this may or may not be the best thing I’ve ever eaten.”
Nathan laughs. “Dude, it’s just bacon, eggs and toast. It’s not some meal fit for the gods.”
“I’m not a god now, am I?” India says, his mouth full of eggs.
“What are you exactly?” Nathan asks cautiously.
“I’m a celestial. A fallen star. What’re you?”
Nathan sighs with relief. “Oh, I’m a vampire.”
India stares at him for a second, not saying anything. “Do you eat people or…?”
“You’ve read too many vampire books haven’t you?”
“No!” India protests. “I’ve just… uh… heard things.”
“Uh-huh…” Nathan says, unconvinced. “Anyway, do you need any help moving in?”
“Oh, I think I live just across the street. I don’t have many things. Or a car.” India shrugs. “You could help me find a car or a bike if you want.”
“I don’t have anything better to do, so sure.”
Who the hell is that? Andrew thinks to himself as he watches a young being sit on a park bench. Zey have purple hair and two horns, the left one a stump. His skin is a dark shade of mahogany and his eyes are a vibrant pink-ish red. From zeir back sprouts big peacock green wings with tints of cornflower blue. The feathers are a jumbled mess, and zeir forehead seems to be bleeding. He seems to be trying to hide himself with his wings but winces in pain at the attempt to move them. On his head is a red beret and over the lower half of his face is a black reusable mask. Zey’re wearing a brown corduroy jacket, a lavender coloured shirt, black cargo pants, and a blue ribbon choker around zeir neck. Dangling from his ears are mushroom earrings, the red colour glistening in the sunlight. Blood is speckled over bits of his clothing.
Andrew decides to approach zem, cautiously at first, but then more urgently.
“Are you ok?” Andrew asks zem.
Zey jump at the sound of his voice. “Satan dude, you can’t just sneak up on people like that.”
“Are you ok?” Andrew repeats.
“Just peachy,” zey say, gritting zeir teeth.
“You don’t seem ok,” Andrew notes.
“Yeah well, why do you care?” the being snaps.
“Well, you’re in my park. And you’re bleeding.”
The being scoffs. “How the hell do you own a park?” His snow white eyebrows cock up in perplexity. Zey’ve never heard of someone owning an entire park before.
“Well, I don’t but I live here. Anyway. Let me help you. I have a first aid kit in my-”
“No, no, no. No. I don’t…” He takes in a sharp inhale. “I don’t need help. I’m fine. A little blood never killed anyone.” His tone is sharp but Andrew doesn’t back off.
“Bullshit. You’re hurt. Your wings are all messy and tattered. Let me help you,” Andrew insists.
“You don’t even know my name.” Zeir voice is filled with venom, spitting anger with every word. But Andrew’s stupid. He doesn’t know when to give up. He just wants to help people, even if they don’t want his help. And he is determined to help this being.
He extends his hand. “Well I’m Andrew.”
The being just stares for a bit. “The hell am I supposed to do with that?” Zey gesture to his hand.
“You shake it,” he tells zem.
Zey roll zeir eyes but take his hand and shakes it. “I’m Maxx.”
“Don’t fucking call me that.”
“-let me help you. I get it if you don’t want help with your wings, as I am a total stranger and wings can be a very intimate area, but at least let me help with your wounds.”
Maxx sighs. “Fine. And yeah, please don’t touch my wings. I’ll… take care of them… later.”
Andrew smiles. “Alright. Come with me.”
He leads zem down a pebble path to a small campsite. There’s really only one tent there– Andrew’s. Maxx hesitates before following Andrew inside. It’s a typical tent–a cobalt blue, water resistant tarps over the top, all of his belongings. Among them is a first aid kit. He pulls it into his lap and tells Maxx to come closer. Again, zey hesitate before finally allowing the stranger to clean up zeir wounds. He hisses at the sting of the peroxide and Andrew mumbles apologies as he continues cleaning.