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Newcomer: Chapter 8

A Serial Flash Fiction Novel


By: Mike White

Copyright 2016 Mike White

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Cover Image by Torley under Creative Commons

Cali spent some time staring at all of the pictures and words, reading about demons and events from 2020 and before until the present, whenever that was. At the end of each section’s timeline, there was actually a pin with a note in it that normally would have the year, but in this case it just said-


April, Present Year ????”


There was also not very much written about Agares, which was apparently the insane monster thing she had seen earlier. The note underneath its picture just said-


Some kind of paralyzing rain? The person the crows call The “Not Human” called it Agares, but he wouldn’t tell me anything else. He knows something, I just know it, but he (or “it”?) is barely ever around and never tells me anything when he is! And all the crows do is confuse me.”


Beyond that, the biggest take away she had from the room was the huge line of notes at the bottom of at least half of every event on the board. It read-


More Information Needed.”


Under each of these cards, were sometimes additional details about, finding the information. Like, right here, there was a note that said “key hologram grew into some kind of crab and ran away. Think I saw it deep in the west woods somewhere, climbing a tree and doing god knows what.”


Well, OK.


Right.


Cali decided to explore the rest of the town first. It’s not like she knew what any of this stuff here meant anyway, plus it was creepy down here.


Maybe she would find some more people hiding out somewhere!


She would come back here, definitely-for-sure-no-doubt.


But it’s not like any of this was making sense to her anyways. There could be more clues in town, and then she could come back here to figure it out. Or better yet, maybe she could find whoever made all of this.


Carefully, she walked out of the room, closing the door behind her, and somehow the generator just clicked off as she did.


Then it was back up the stairs in the near-dark with the green glow that was familiar in a way Cali couldn’t place, and back through the living library. Cali had to suppress the urge to just run through the whole thing giving how much it was freaking her out now, with lines about demons caroming through her head.


Instead, she ended up stumbling through the breathing room, imagining that it was the belly of some dragon, and she was going to be engulfed in digestive flames building up here at any moment.


But, somehow, she sort of fell drunkenly out of the door of the strange building, and into the light.


Cali had to resist the urge to yell at the building for being a really stupid building that made no sense.


She should really try to figure out what all of that down there meant, who wrote it, and all that, but well, whoever wrote it wasn’t down there.


And Cali needed people.


As polite as the crows had been to her, she got the sense that they either weren’t telling her something, or were so alien that communicating with them wouldn’t be possible.


So, Cali set off walking again, back on the trail, and before long, she came across another building, a lot like the big one that she’d come from. This one had graffiti all over it though. Some kind of fine black paint on the brick. There was-


Newcomer is a False God”


And beside it-


The Second Coming Has Happened! Embrace Him, Heathens! Turn Awa from Your Sin”


Underneath these scrawlings was a perfect, block script that looked like it had been engraved with a laser that said-


Graffiti is a Suboptimal Means of Communication: But OK-The Above Statements are Fallacious.”


Well, that was weird.


The graffiti went on like that, it was like an extended argument, and she couldn’t make sense of it.


She stood there for some time, looking into the dark forest surrounding her, hardly knowing what to do next, what she could possibly expect to happen next, even.


The wall of the building was like a magnet, and she the iron, and she found her hand passing over the brick, which is the only way she found an extra carving in it, half obscured by some other declarative statement about how bad “Newcomer” was.


On tracing the carving with her hand, she found it said “wir sind uns Fremde.”


Not English. German?


Just another thing she didn’t understand.


Not for the first time, she wondered whether this was all some fever dream she was having while she laid paralyzed and weak in a hospital bed somewhere.


If that were the case, then reality was overrated.


There was a little rain on the trees above her, and a few pure droplets struck the back of her neck, making her shiver.


Every little thing was memorable here, unlike the glare of the same lights, wherever she was in a hospital, or which hospital it was, it was all the same.


There were noises coming from the forest, and Cali felt a mixture of loneliness and curiosity lead her away toward it against her better sense.


It sounded like people’s voices!


People!


If it’s something had, I’ll just run, She said to some internal part of herself that was protesting. Hey, it worked last time!


This seems like a poor long-term strategy, the voice responded, sounding distinctly different from Cali.


But that was a bit too disturbing to think about right now, and there were people to talk to in front of her. She stepped over the underbrush since there was no path here, and made her way towards the sounds of people talking. It was darker in here, and a little scary, if Cali was being honest.


When she past the last tree in the way and saw the group, instead of saying what she wanted to, which was something like ‘sorry for the intrusion but I wanted to see who was here and say hello,’ she blurted out-


“Crows make terrible speaking companions!”

Hey, it was her first time speaking to someone without a monster nearby since she started her second life.


There was a woman with blonde hair there, who had been peering into the woods where Cali emerged from. Her eyes widened, and Cali had come out close enough to see they were a cheerful blue.


A ways behind her in a patch of woods where the undergrowth was much less, a handful of men turned in her direction sharply, reaching behind their backs.


For weapons?


But before Cali could throw up her hands in terror, the woman laughed and gestured to them, making them all relax and go back to what they were doing.


“They aren’t very much, are they?” The woman said, all bubbly.


Cali resisted the urge to run forward on her brand new legs and embrace her.


“I’m sorry!” She said. “I haven’t spoken to anyone in so long.”


“Oh, really?" The woman said. “How long exactly?”


Decades, probably, Cali thought.


But before she could say it, another thought came.


Once you give out information, you cannot take it back, ever.


There was that weird voice again, which sounded kind of like her own thoughts, and kind of not.


“Oh, sorry, I don’t really know. Like, a really long time anyway.”


“Well, OK then! I’m Mel, by the way. It’s nice to meet you. This is our little family.”


Mel introduced Cali to a bunch of people, which was an amazing relief, but all their names went over her head, and Cali couldn’t shake the feeling that something was off. For one thing, her backpack was humming again, even though it wasn’t really cool at the moment. This was actually a little odd all by itself, given that it was obviously still so early into spring.


Run, something kept saying in her head. Run!


No! She told it, I’m finally around people again; I’m finally restarting my life. You’re just paranoid because this world is so strange, but it probably just seems that way because it’s unfamiliar.


“You should meet our lord and savior,” The woman said to her, which made Cali internally roll her eyes instinctively. She actually had a pair of Mormons or whatever come to the hospital once. So she’d heard all the speeches


“I admit that I wasn’t expecting to see Mormons out here,” Cali said wryly.


“I met with him last week, and it was amazing,” She said.


Wait a minute.


“Hold up, you met with him? You mean in person? Like he was physically there? You could see his actual body, like, touch it?”


“Oh yeah, it’s great isn’t it! Who would’ve thunk the apocalypse would come and go and we’d mostly miss it!”


“Well, OK, sorta, but wasn’t there, you know, a war?”


“Well, for sure, yes! But we all thought it was just a normal war or whatever, non like bible stuff!”


“A normal war? Between a robot and god?”


She snorted.


“Well, OK, it does sound kinda funny when you put it like that, for sure.”


“Okay, well what does the lord almighty tell you? What does he look like?” Cali said.


The woman smiled shyly, covering her face.


“You’ll have to see for yourself! Come with us!”


“Yeah, I don’t know. What else can you tell me about all of this? Honestly, I was asleep a long time and I have no idea what’s going on like at all.”


“Whoa, seriously. Must’ve been more like a coma. Well, OK, like, We’re the Remnant, yeah? Straight from the Bible! You read revelations? That’s totally over now; we’re past it- actually past it. Crazy, yeah?”


Cali could admit she wasn’t expecting someone to be so cheerful about the end of the world.


“Past it?”


“Totally. Now, God needs our help to finish up making the Earth into heaven. Basically, we failed him as the Remnant, and couldn’t defeat the devil on our own, so he had to come help us, but because he’s so merciful, he did!”


“Right,” Cali said slowly. Maybe she needed something a bit simpler. “Um, could you tell me what that writing on your uniform says?”


“Oh, that? Yeah it’s like German. Wir sind ons Fremde” or ‘We are strangers to ourselves.’


So, basically, we totally don’t know ourselves, and but the Lord can help us understand. Great, right?”


Was it possible these people were on the other side of some war? If they were this into Jesus they must be against the demon they met, right? They had to be on the same side, didn’t they?


Cali eyed the clothing they were all wearing-all the same. Like uniforms.


“Who are you fighting, anyway? If this is the apocalypse, I assume you’re fighting-“


“The devil, uh huh, that’s right! Wow, you must’ve been somewhere far away if you haven’t noticed that. Were you living in a cave? With crows?”


“I’m sorry,” Cali said quickly. “I’m just confused.”


“Oh, no worries. You should come with us and help us fight the devil. Around here, they call him “Newcomer,” honestly; the hard part is finding him. Our lord doesn’t know where he is currently, but He does have him on the run!”


Red hot panic coursed through Cali and she had no clue why.


She had to get out of here, but she desperately wanted to go with these people and she desperately didn’t, and she also didn’t want to be impolite.


It was all too much.


“Will you all be here later? I, um, I don’t think I can go with you right now. I’m so sorry. I told someone I would meet them.”


Great I’m already lying to my new friends.


Make sure they are your friends, first, some part of her replied. Your friends are out there, but you must reveal them. This comes both by seeking them out, and by making sure they are who you think they are. Friends should not have conditions on liking you.


There was some trepidation and suspicion as soon as she said she had to go, and Cali swore that she saw them go instinctively for weapons again, before coming up short.


“We’ll be here the same time tomorrow,” She said. “Or the next day, whatever God wants us to do, because that’s what will work out the best, right?”

Cali could only nod at that.


Mel offered her hand and they shook and the woman smiled at her warmly.


“OK…” She said, raising her eyebrows and she realized New Mel didn’t know her name.


“Cali,” was the reply without a second thought.


“OK, Cali,” Mel said. “We will see you again after you meet your friend. It was nice to meet you, no matter what,” She emphasized, and Cali could feel subtext building up that she couldn’t imagine.


No matter what else was true or wasn’t true, she somehow knew that Mel meant this bit.


“You two,” She gushed. “For sure, I’ll be back.”


“We’ll be here,” Mel said faintly, waving and walking back to her group. Right as she turned away from Cali, there was this note on her face, where she was looking at her own group.


Doubt.


Cali wondered what that meant, but mostly she was happy that no one shot her and that Mel seemed to like her even if she wasn’t supposed to because she thought Cali was part of an army of demons or whatever.


Was she?


Am I? She thought.


Suddenly, she felt a strong urge to be back among crows, so she flew back through the underbrush, slowing down only enough to make sure she didn’t sprain her precious new feet on a rock.


As soon as she made it back to the path, she hurried back past the Breathing Room, and moved on past the lake. This is where Candy Cane landed on her backpack strap on her shoulder so its claws wouldn’t hurt her, presumably.


“You left the path,” Candy Cane said.


“That was bad. Not safe.”


“I don’t suppose you want to tell me why?”


The thrill of panic she felt for no reason was so confusing. She was still working out why. She was getting flashes of her Old Life. Friends who promised to visit her in the hospital. Always busy, always vanishing.

What was going on with her?


It was just a few more minutes along the path until she was back at the house with the bunk. For some reason, it was revolting to her, so she sat on the ground instead.


BlackBox flew into the room through a window from god only knew where and landed on top of her bunk headboard.


Cali was gushing at him before she even knew what she was doing.


“I’m not a burden, and I shouldn’t be alone. I should have friends, and you aren’t telling me the truth at all. Take me to the others. You have to take me there. I deserve to be there. I deserve to have a life.”


BlackBox cocked his head to the side, back and forth, a few times.


The silence stretched on and on. The head-tilting continue; was he talking to someone through that box?


Cali didn’t know what else to say. It didn’t take long for her to start creating more dialogue in her head, to make BlackBox, or whoever was pulling his strings, to understand her.


She felt like screaming at him. Like picking up that bed and chucking it at his feathery black head-like she would be strong enough to do it.


Or bawling in front of him when he denied her again, that she was so tired of everyone pitying and looking down on her desperation.


Instead, he said-


“OK.”


Thanks for reading!


Check out my other stuff, a lot of it in the “newcomer world” category will fill in a lot of blanks for this story eventually.



Discover Other Titles by Michael White

Adam the Office Ninja

Ud the Mortal

From the World ofReality Zero’

Reality Zero Book 1-1

Shaping Glass

World Shard’ Series

Inhuman Freedom

Temporal Anchor

Tunneler’s Tale I

Newcomer’ Series

The Blood Calls You Back (Part I)

The Blood Calls You Back (Part II)

Time Traveler’s University

The Fury of Sentinels

Newcomer (Part 1)

Connect with Me:

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Email Me Directly: RealityNewsMail




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