10/7/2018 9:06PM: Tonight’s Adventures (A conversation)

Sometimes I write out conversations between me and my alters/guides. It’s an interesting way to keep a journal, anyway. I definitely want to post more of these, but they are usually riddled with foul language because Byleth doesn’t really care about what he says. With that warning, this is what we were up to tonight. This was between me, Byleth, and Lestan.

***

“Sugar, you’re drinking and you shouldn’t be.” Byleth paced around my desk and computer chair, keeping an eye on me as my leg kept up with its nervous jitter, bouncing as if I were ready to run a marathon. I scoffed.

“I’m not drunk though. I’m still able to type.” Despite that, I did feel rather woozy.

“Rather woozy?” Byleth rolled his eyes. “You’re supposed to be picking up a pizza in fifteen minutes and you’re,” he lifted his claws in quotation, “‘woozy’.”

“Hey, it burned going down so it’s going to get me a bit messed up. Well, not messed up entirely, but numb enough to not care that my dreams are basically going to be flushed down the toilet.”

“Stop it.” Byleth latched his claws onto the back of my chair that was still vibrating with my leg’s nervous jitter. It seemed my excess energy was on a… roll? Is that even a thing? “No,” he interrupted. “It isn’t a thing. Lestan and I are walking with you when you leave. You shouldn’t have even drunk straight from the bottle.”

“He’ll be okay.” Lestan crossed his ankle over his knee and leaned back on the couch. He seemed bothered, his expression darker than what his voice suggested. “The bottle will be gone soon enough and then we won’t have to worry…”

“Soon enough?! Are you expecting – and enabling – him to drink it until it’s gone to get rid of it faster? What the fuck, Lestan?”

“That’s not what I was getting at and you know it.” Lestan grew slightly irritated. “I just mean that Shane won’t buy anymore after this one, right, love?”

“Right. That’s my plan anyway.” I was beginning to feel warm. The liquor had definitely kicked in. I also realized that it wasn’t such a good idea to drink directly from the bottle. It really did burn like hell going down.

“Because you’re not used to it.” Byleth left my chair and fell into the wooden one at the L part of my desk. He crossed his arms and watched me, his expression mostly blank, although I could see some sort of sympathy behind his red eyes. He snorted a laugh.

“Look at you getting all flowery with your words and assuming you can ‘see what’s behind my eyes’ or some shit.” He closed his eyes and looked to the side, but soon after returned his gaze to me from the corner of his eye. “Yeah, I do care about you, you know. If I haven’t made that fucking clear enough already.” I stopped to rub my forehead, but was brought back to the page. “Hey, don’t you stop writing. It’s been a while since we’ve talked and I won’t let you lose your mind and forget about this conversation too.”

“Wait.” I sighed. “We talk all the time. I just don’t always write it down.”

We write it down, sugar. You should’ve caught onto that by now.”

“Well, yes?” I guess I’d missed that part somewhere along the way when the small bouts of dissociation would happen. Lestan chuckled from where he sat on the futon sofa.

“Baby, it’s okay. It took you years to come to terms with who we are to you. I can understand a bit of confusion here.” He stood and came to stand behind me, ruffling my hair lovingly. Byleth lifted an eyebrow and sighed.

Cornyyyy.”

“Hey, Shane’s allowed to be silly when he’s drunk and forget a few things.”

“I’m not drunk!” I flashed a stubborn expression before I focused on the screen again. Or… was it really me focusing? I felt slightly spaced, but my phone’s alarm brought me back to reality. Byleth stood and Lestan backed away to approach the door. Byleth was the first to speak.

“It’s time to grab that pizza, sweetie. Let’s hope the guys at the counter don’t catch on to your slight inebriation.”

***

As we walked back through the front door, I set the pizza aside and pulled off my binder, threw on my shirt I’d been wearing before, and took another quick swig from the bottle of Malibu banana rum. Byleth was less than pleased, but started chuckling as he set eyes on the computer screen. I’d started to type but backtracked. “Shane, you should have kept it as a ‘tit corset’.”

“Nah. It was too ridiculous.”

“It is a tit corset. One you won’t have to worry about much longer if everything goes right.”

“Yeah… I hope.” I turned on Byleth’s playlist on the big screen through the PlayStation and settled in to eat some pizza. Like I needed to clog my arteries any more than they already were. He reclaimed his chair at the L in my desk and leaned his head in his hand. He seemed perturbed.

“Which I am,” he confirmed. I knew he was because I’d taken another swig from the bottle like he encouraged me to do the exact opposite of, and I was feeling pretty good to not really care. That brought a scowl forth from the Fallen Angel and he sighed.

“I’m just going to focus on my music and singing, and pretend like you’re not disobeying everything that I’ve asked of you tonight.”

“Hey, we had mind-blowing sex earlier, so don’t give me a hard time.” I flashed him a comical judgemental look, to which he lightened up and returned to a more positive mood.

“Oh, we did. [Redacted].” I shrugged in response, stuffing my face with pizza. Attractive.

“You’re a Fallen Angel. You have magic spit. We’ve been over this.” He broke into laughter at the ‘magic spit’ bit.

“Let’s just hope your body is done being difficult with sex.” He smirked. “[Redacted].”

“Like I said. Fallen Angel. Magic spit.” Lestan chuckled from where he sat on the futon sofa, his expression calm and at ease as he watched the images on the TV. ‘Me and Mrs. Jones’ by Billy Paul was currently flowing from the speakers, Byleth’s corny but groovy taste in music flooding the apartment.

“Hey. Corny? Bullshit. It’s classic seducing music, sugar. At one time in history, this was the sexiest song on the radio.”

“One of them, maybe. There’s a sweet romantic vibe to it now.” I smiled, a warm and fuzzy feeling consuming me. “Awww, Byleth, you’re such a romantic!” He laughed humorlessly and seemed to clam up with embarrassment.

“No, fuck the embarrassment part of that line.” He jabbed his claw in my direction. There was definitely a slight blush in his cheeks. “No, no there isn’t! Stop. I like the classics because they make me want to fuck something, okay? No romance involved there.”

“But,” I teased, “you are a romantic whether you admit it or not. You call me sweetie.”

“That is true,” Lestan chimed in from the futon. He slipped out of his leather jacket that he’d still been wearing. “Byleth, you aren’t fooling anyone. You’re very romantic. I saw the way you kissed Shane earlier.” He flashed Byleth a teasingly flirtatious expression. The Fallen Angel was becoming flustered.

“Seriously, if you both don’t quit I’m just going to take my music in the other room and say fuck all of you.” No irritation was in his voice, however. A small smile was playing on his lips and there was a glint in his red eyes. His mood had improved despite the teasing banter and he relaxed into his chair, falling into the lyrics of the next song that had started to play; ‘Little Wing’ by Jimi Hendrix.

A silence fell then, I eating my pizza and Lestan relaxing in the background, watching Byleth as he sang to the song that it was switched to – ‘You Don’t Own Me’ covered by Masquer. The song was appropriate for a brat king such as Byleth.

“Damn right it is, sugar. Don’t tell me what to do…. Don’t tell me what to say…” Despite Byleth being a Fallen, he definitely still had the voice of an angel. “I was an angel. The beauty of my voice or my devilishly good looks didn’t disappear because I fell.”

“Mr. Vain King.” Lestan stood from the futon and approached Byleth, who turned in his seat to welcome the vampire. Lestan straddled his thighs while standing over him, teasing the Fallen Angel’s golden horns. Byleth bit his lip.

“Would you have me any other way? And you keep talking like that, mister. Call me King a few more times and I’ll make sure you won’t be able to speak… In the best way, of course.”

“Reduce me to a mumbling mess, my King?” Lestan chuckled as Byleth hummed, the vampire’s hands sliding through the Fallen’s jaw-length blonde hair. Hands crept back up onto Byleth’s horns and he huffed a laugh.

“What are you trying to do? Get me so worked up I can’t sing? Make a distraction for Shane over there?”

“Maybe.” Lestan grinned and caressed one of Byleth’s horns before the Fallen wrapped an arm around the vampire’s torso and pulled him into his lap.

“Alright, vampire. You’ve got a deal.”

“We didn’t make a bet.”

“As long as Shane doesn’t drink any more rum tonight, I’ll do whatever you want.” Byleth trailed a claw down Lestan’s front, causing the vampire to sigh. “Anything, sugar.”

“Wait, why is this on me?” I pouted, still buzzed, although I suspected more than that. “Do what you want.”

“Oh no, sweetie. That’s the breaks.” I sighed in response to Byleth’s ridiculous stipulations. He cocked an eyebrow at that line. “Stop drinking and you get to see wonderful things.”

“Sorry, baby. I have to go with Byleth on this one.” Lestan ghosted his lips over the Fallen’s as he turned Byleth to face him once more. “I’m not passing up the opportunity to have control over the brat king.”

“Whatever.” I sighed hopelessly and chuckled. “I won’t drink anymore, but don’t go overboard. I want to be able to eat my pizza.” Byleth hummed his approval and gave his full attention to Lestan then, their lips meeting in a deep and much-needed kiss. I returned to my pizza, finally deciding to let the alcohol wear off.

(For the record, Byleth’s taste in music IS corny, but amazing.)

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A positive absence, for once!

When I am absent, it’s usually due to a multitude of emotions destroying me from the inside out. I can’t manage more than the videos I barely take in on my favorite Youtube channels, and my creative drive has taken a vacation abroad for an indeterminable amount of time. Things have been different this time around, though.

My mind has been more stable since trying the injectable form of testosterone over the gel to get my transition going again. It had been hell during my first try with the injections, and since I’ve covered all of that elsewhere on this blog, I won’t get into it here. Long story short, it seems like a different mixture is what was needed. My mood swings, while still there in the background, have dimmed significantly. I didn’t expect this to cure my bipolar episodes or the interpersonal problems I have with my borderline personality disorder, but it has been much easier to calm myself as well as stand up for myself when I need to. I’ve had this fire within me that refuses to let me take shit from anyone. This isn’t a bad thing for someone like me, who was more likely to sit by silently while verbal abuse or any other kind of bad thing would happen. To be able to speak up when I need to has been a great change for me.

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Along with all of this, I’ve pulled my creativity back from its extended vacation. My writing is important to me again and I’ve made it my job, or at least, I’m treating it like one until I can officially call it that. I’ve become more involved in writing communities online and am getting braver about asking for critiques, and I am learning to give them. I have learned so much within the last week about publishing, editing, and I’ve gotten great advice from editors and published authors alike on how to navigate all of this. It was something I desperately needed, but I couldn’t possibly accomplish it while I remained in my little bubble of self-hatred.

Yesterday, I finished editing and looking over the fifth draft of a novella. I had finished writing it during the summer of 2015 during a manic episode while I was homeless, and it was the first book I’d written that I saw to completion. Although it was riddled with poor grammar and my sentence structure was just as poor at best, I was proud of it. Over the past few days, I went and I fixed the earlier chapters that had been started years ago. It was something I began and left to sit, unable to finish like I’d done with so many. I fixed the wording, added new things and explained others, and poured more emotion into the original draft than was originally there. After all of this and splitting it into chapters, I feel like I have a second book ready to send out.

I’m in contact with an editor or two, one of which I am certain I want to do the job for my longer book that I’d like to publish first. Hopefully I can build up a working relationship with them for my future projects. Having that thought alone makes my nerves jump in all of the best ways.

I’m no stranger to anxiety. I’ve seen it in its worst form and it’s left me sickly and bedridden. (I wrote about that here: From My Memoir – Two Years that Changed the Rest of My Life and I recorded it with Byleth and the others here.) To finally understand that there is good anxiety and be able to feel it is freeing for me. It feels the same in all of the physical sensations, but there is a different emotion attached. It’s not fear, but anticipation.

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If you want something bad enough, it will happen. I’ve been wanting the title ‘author’ officially for many years. I can only hope that my want and need for this is bad enough to make it all happen.

From my Memoir: A Night with Mary

An excerpt from my memoir, in which I relive a memory of one of my very first experiences with friendship, a birthday party, and trauma incited by an urban legend.

***

My anxiety disorder formed into what it would be for the many coming years of my life. I still wet the bed well into my fourth-grade year, although I would always be reprimanded for it. I was punished whenever it would happen, my fear of the alarm clock in the middle of the night not enough to keep me from wetting myself. That horrific sound of metal striking metal as the sharp ringing of the purple clock would wake me from a deep sleep, often causing me to panic and slip beneath my bed sheets as I looked out into the darkness of my room. I feared the dark more than anything, and at times I would fear the silliest of things. I think I remember having a sleep hallucination of Jesus once that caused me to panic as the desire for it to go away gripped at my heart. It seemed that even as I child I found no comfort in Christian images or the idea of it. Regardless, I would climb out of bed once my bravery was there, no matter how small, and crept to the bathroom. The next morning my bedclothes would be wet, and I would be chastised and punished.

My pediatrician, Dr. Suk Kang, was a shining light in my life and also the reason for my parents having finally understood why my bedwetting wouldn’t cease. Not only was he one of the best doctors around, he was kind and very invested in my healthcare. Every time I visited him he would give me a quick kiss on my forehead or cheek and smile widely, happy to see me doing well. His accent was strong and he spoke broken English, but he spoke it well and was also a friend to my parents. He absolutely adored Disney and we often brought him posters and memorabilia back from Disney World, or any time we saw something relating to Disney for him. He always put them up in his office, and his place of practice was a Disney Wonderland in itself. Everything from the wallpaper to the decor was Disney centric. I always loved seeing him even if I was afraid of the doctor’s office in general.

He informed my parents that my late bedwetting was no fault of my own, but due to my body’s lack of producing a hormone to be able to hold it while asleep. I developed this eventually, of course, but it was a constant strain on me and my parent’s relationship, as well as me and my friends. I could not spend the night with others unless I had Pull-Ups with me to my own embarrassment, or friends would have to sleep on the floor instead of in my bed with me. I often got made fun of for this in school, and I remember having to wear Pull-Ups even during the day while I was there. The bullying started very early for me and caused a fear in me that led to agoraphobia, which is a fear of public places or certain places in general. I was afraid of everything and everyone.

This became worse and worse over the following few years. The other kids who I had thought were my friends turned out to be humoring me and nothing more. I had maybe one or two true friends in elementary school who I cherished and who did not use me as the butt of a joke as the others often did. I was pushed, physically assaulted on the playground, laughed at, mocked, and any secret I dared to trust my first best friend with, or who I called my best friend, became public knowledge and another teasing point for the other kids. A birthday party and sleepover at this best friend’s house ended up being one of the few childhood memories I have that is so vivid. We were still only in elementary school.

The girls and I were standing around in my friend’s room. There were two twin-sized beds there, one for my friend and the other for her older sister. There was a dresser to the side by the door and a large mirror over it. The room was of average size, but the memory of the small details are hazy now. I just remember spending a lot of time there and a lot of my childhood memories of any semblance of friendship formed there as well, but as we all stood there and faced the large mirror, a new memory was forming that wasn’t so pleasant. The girls were attempting to invoke Bloody Mary.

As most people know, the legend of Bloody Mary is an infamous one that is often brought up during parties. Back then it was popular due to the success of Alvin Schwartz’s ‘Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark’ series, illustrated with ghoulish amalgamations by the talented Stephen Gammell. The urban legends within the series of three books were not softened for children at all, except to be worded in a way that would be easier to understand. This led to the book going through a short time of contention with school librarians, and for a time it was almost banned from public school libraries. The gruesome nature of the stories remained the same and survived the legal struggles, and the Bloody Mary legend could be found within their pages.

I don’t believe I’d read about the legend yet, or even had read the ‘Scary Stories’ trilogy, but I was introduced to the traumatizing practice that night of looking into a mirror to conjure a violent spirit. She was to appear with blood on her skin and a vengeance that would pull the conjurer into the mirror, lest the foolish conjurer switch on a light instantly. The light remained on while we all stood in front of the large mirror that night, and I don’t remember if we switched it off at any time, but the fear was there. I was scared, but I was surrounded by my friends. That is, until they asked me to leave the room. As I stepped out into the hallway, I was alone to watch the bedroom door as it closed in front of me. I stood there for some time, my anxiety eating away at me as I heard the room erupt in laughter. I knew deep inside it was at my expense, but I stood there anyway, hoping that something special would happen and it was all just a joke.

The door was opened by my friend who was still giggling, and they invited me back in. I don’t remember what happened then, other than the party seemed to resume for a short time before I was coaxed into going into a dark bathroom by myself with a small flashlight. I didn’t want to do it. I was afraid of the dark and I knew that to try the Bloody Mary chant alone, as was suggested by the girls that I do, I was invoking danger upon myself. I believed in it wholeheartedly as any child would, and I was shoved into the bathroom before I could protest any further. The door was closed behind me and weight was pushed against it, and no matter how hard I pressed into that door with my body or pounded on the wood, no one would let me leave. I was trapped.

I backed away and I tried to calm myself. I was told that I was not allowed to turn the light on, and being as easily controlled back then as I was being a child, I listened. I didn’t want to disappoint my friends or lose them, so I looked into the mirror. With nothing but my anxiety and a small flashlight to guide me, I tried to stutter out the Bloody Mary chant three times – loud enough for them to hear. I began to cry. I was terrified and my heart had started to race against my ribcage. I was at the door again, pushing on it and pounding against the wood. I was begging to be let out but no one would listen. They stood against the door, pushing against my efforts cruelly to keep me trapped in that small room of danger. I cried louder. I screamed. I pleaded to call my mom because I wanted to go home. I just wanted to be safe again, and I knew that my mom’s presence would be enough to show me that everything would be okay.

After a short time, an older woman’s voice was tense out in the hallway in question as to what was going on. It was my friend’s mother. She finally released me from my dark prison and I stumbled out into the hallway, tears streaming down my face. I repeated over and over that I wanted my mom. I wanted to go home. It was all I could manage to say after the trauma I’d experienced, and it seemed that my friend and her sister weren’t too happy about their mother’s reaction to it all. Words are muffled in my memory and the rest became a blur as my parents were on the phone with that woman, I snuggling with my Winnie the Pooh security blanket I’d latched onto as an infant, and then they were in the driveway late at night, guiding me into their car as I tried to come down from the shock that I’d experienced.

To this day I am still afraid of dark bathrooms. Mirrors bring me discomfort in the dark and I don’t dare to look over my shoulder at them. The pounding heart and the racing mind – the fight or flight sensation that I still feel any time I have to walk across my hallway to get to the bathroom at night in my own apartment as an adult… It just won’t go away.

©2018 Shane Blackheart

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What If…?

Although I am not feeling so great today, I still wanted to post something a bit more positive since a lot of my entries have been dark. So, to mix up the monotony, I wanted to share a video I made solely in Plotagon itself without any outside editing. I am a beta tester for the program, and I was able to get my hands on a version that is still under heavy testing, but I’ve produced some amazing things with it! Hopefully, these new features will be available to all, but not until the bugs are worked out properly.

I made this video during a particularly bad night, as they have been lately. I was in a lot of pain from a medication that my body just didn’t like, but I wouldn’t let it stop me from creating this bit of comedy that I’m still pretty proud of. So without further commentary, here is the video, voiced by myself, Byleth, and Lestan:

***

Grab Plotagon here: http://plotagon.com
Join the community and upload your own animations, and meet some awesome people! You can find me here: http://plotagon.com/ShaneLestan

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.

***

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.

***

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.

From My Memoir – Two Years that Changed the Rest of My Life

Everything in this writing is from actual events in my life. Byleth and Daro are both spirit guides of mine who I communicate with daily, and Lestan is one of my multiples that I met when I was twelve. I see them; I hear them. We speak regularly and we make amazing things together, but rarely have I shared or written out how I met them or divulged actual conversations we’ve had that I’ve written down. 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. Some may coin me with crazy, but I consider myself lucky to have such friends as these. All of this is true and accurate to the best of my memory. All speech near the end is taken directly from a conversation I had saved between me, Daro, Byleth, and Lestan from November 23, 2016. So, without further commentary, here is what will end up being part of my memoir.

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The story of how I met Byleth, as well as my struggles with anorexia and anxiety

“I think this is what I’ve been looking for for a while now.” I scrolled through the expanding page of text as I moved deeper and deeper into something I knew I’d always needed. It was the answer to my confusion and it was home. It was a place I could finally find comfort in, and I felt 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 golden skin surrounded by long black hair – pleased with my discovery of ‘Philosophy for Spiritual Satanists’. It seemed he was also in agreeance with the path I had 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. Having to stop testosterone 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. I sighed. “I’m going to work more on that movie I’m making. I can’t believe how much work I’ve done on it.”

“I think you may be attracting more attention as well.” Daro smiled darkly, a glint in his eye.”

“Mephistopheles?”

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

***

I’d finally finished recording 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 finished things before, so this was an accomplishment in itself already. I was also falling deeply for the main antagonist turned neutral force, Byleth. At the start of it all, I’d been searching for a demon to fit the role I’d begun to plan out during the last film I’d made. I’d continued from a story I wrote while in the hospital, but took it in an entirely new direction. Mephistopheles and Sean, the two main characters, Sean being the renamed version of my self-insert, had to deal with the punishments of King Byleth, a demon who was slowly crafting a disease to destroy humankind as a lesson against loving a denizen of Hell. To him, love was a weakness and a disgusting thing to share with a human at that.

Yet he continued to become 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 and Faye. Everything started off 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 had gotten compliments from the animation community much more than most, and they were all praises for how unique he was. I couldn’t have been happier or at the top of my writing game. I definitely wanted to write more with him and stretch things out as much as I could.

It was late that weekend that I decided to relax after a long day of walking. I was finally getting over the allergic reaction I’d had to the testosterone injections that I’d had to stop as part of my transition as a transman, and was treating the pain with a medication that turned my stomach into an active volcano. Despite that, life felt alright and I was biding my time until everything calmed down again and I could get on with my life and make the next move. I curled up on my sofa with a box of Cheez-Its and pressed play on the film I’d been searching for the better part of a few years. Ivan Mosjoukine starring in ‘Casanova’ during pre-code Hollywood, a film from the early 1900s. I managed to last for about thirty minutes of the film before I grew drowsy from my nightly medication, 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, I noticed that a tightness in my chest made it difficult to breathe. I thought nothing more of it, attributing it to the acid reflux I’d been experiencing for about a week straight.

I crept into my bed and found Lestan there already waiting for me. I smiled and propped myself up against the back wall and opened Instagram on my phone, browsing through some posts from a magazine I followed called ‘Beautiful Bizarre’. I grew more and more drowsy, but it was my bad habit to fight sleep. I absolutely despised it due to old habits from my anxiety as a child that made their way into adulthood, so I drew it out and continued my Instagram fixation.

It came on as something sudden and unexpected, a strange electric shock vibrating up the back of my neck into my head. I felt faint, my head airy and fuzzy. “Lestan, it’s… happening again?” Even I was confused as it had been years since I’d had an episode like it last. Panicking, Lestan leaned over me and it was my last sight before I tried in vain to lie down before I lost consciousness.

I came to, my vision nothing but a blind blur as I convulsed, a powerful ringing in my ears and my arms tight and in the air before me twitching, my throat creating sounds better left in one of the Grudge films. After a time I came to fully, sitting there and staring into space. The only thought going through my still partially unconscious and ringing mind was Lestan. I needed Lestan. “Baby, you okay?” It was his voice, and he was hugging me as I lied down to recover from whatever in the hell just happened.

“It happened again.”

“I know, baby. It’s going to be okay.” He was as scared as I was, regardless of the fact that my fear was still underlying and not yet to the surface. I’d had problems with hypochondria and anxiety my entire life, but it had gone into remission for so long that I was in complete shock from the sudden onset of it.

“Hospital. I need to call the EMTs.” I reached for my phone, dialing 9-1-1 and lazily spoke to the operator. They were on their way, and I was crawling slowly to the door to unlock it.

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A day or so had passed and I was still recovering from the episode I’d had that horrible night. Lestan had kept a close eye on me and my mom had tried to reassure me, as well as medical professionals, that it wasn’t anything to worry about and a freak accident – a thing called a vasovagal episode – that happened to people without explanation. I was healthy and I was going to be okay, but for some reason my body was weak, tired, and useless for a few days following. By the third day, I finally started to gain my strength back and felt human.

I returned to the film I was making, but I hadn’t the strength to voice act. Regardless, I did the work anyway, my enthusiasm for the film and my excitement at seeing Byleth on the screen again clouding over all else. It lifted my spirits and did well to keep my mind on better things and better days to come.

That night I was reading through the ‘Philosophy for Spiritual Satanists’ page again, Daro and Lestan at my side. I felt another presence there, a presence that felt familiar. It was then that I caught the sight of shoulder length blonde hair, golden horns, and that familiar white lab coat with a red shirt beneath. Red eyes glistened with amusement as the very being I’d been consuming my life with appeared before my vision. He looked just like I’d made him in The Sims, a game that I used often to aid in my storytelling. “Byleth?”

“What did you expect? You said my name enough times. Names are a powerful thing.” He sat in the chair at my table, watching me. Lestan and Daro were as intrigued as I was, my delight at the fact that Byleth moved and spoke in all of the ways I’d become familiar with. He was tall with an athletic, muscular build, his face chiseled and so beautiful it was a sin in itself. He chuckled with amusement. “Would I have let you make my likeness into anything but perfection?”

“You are quite vain.” Daro finally spoke up to break the silence that had fallen in the room. I glanced at Lestan, who seemed to be more than curious about the new company.

“You are damned gorgeous, love.”

“Of course I am. 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. I was becoming worried. It hit me all at once – the series of events that led up to Byleth’s appearance. He was a King of Hell who was extremely dangerous if treated wrongly or disrespected. He was a master of the sciences and governed over an impossible legion of lower demons. I’d done more research since I’d felt his presence without knowing it was him, and 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 that I’ve come across. I have no problem with him.”

“So, wait.” The question begged to be asked no matter how crazy I felt about it. After all, Daro, or 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 episode the other night and my discovery of the right kind of spiritual Satanism, as well as this movie I’m making – is this all happening and you influenced it?”

“The episode 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 continue to 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 path and you are committed, Byleth can be a very valuable friend and ally to have.”

“Don’t speak for me, demon, but yes. Daro is right.”

“Okay. Okay, so this is good.” I smiled. It was then that I felt my feet growing cold and I shivered. “I’ll be back in a minute. My socks are in my room.” As I stood, I noticed Byleth’s red eyes following me with interest. A panic caused a lump in my throat at the sound of his footsteps behind me. No matter, I kept walking down the dark hallway to approach my bedroom and then hurried to my closet. Upon turning around with socks in hand, Byleth was leaning in the open closet door, blocking most of the light with his height. His horns were almost scraping the low ceiling.

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I felt a tremor climbing up my legs and into my stomach, then spreading to my arms. I swallowed hard, forgetting that my mouth was full. He found this all amusing and flashed a picture-perfect smile that was reflected in his swimming red eyes, his canines seeming sharper than they should have been without being fangs. “Do you fear me?”

“Yes… I do.” I felt emotion well up inside me, a fear that wasn’t like the usual anxiety I experienced. 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 an ex-angel, a King who had occupied the seventh throne in Heaven. His pale clawed hand lowered from where it rested on the wall to support himself and brushed it 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 blushed and stupidly covered my clothed body with my arms. “I’d like to try a little experiment. 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 once it died down, beckoning for me to follow him to where he stopped near my bed.

“Of course not, idiot. Lie down.” I obeyed, not wanting to challenge a King of Hell. He sat down 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 myself that I often tried to forget was there at all. 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?” The question left me as soon as I realized that the answer to my questions was currently sitting beside me in the form of a Fallen Angel – feeling me up with interest as if he were observing the human form in a purely scientific manner. I twitched again. That last touch was definitely not scientific.

“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 for the better part of a month. Although, the Byleth I remembered was averse to any kind of affection. This Byleth, the true Byleth, was a lot more touchy than I’d expected. He seemed to read what I was struggling with and responded with amusement.

“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 moved to straddle me and snapped his fingers, his lab coat and shirt disappearing. “Oh, and I hope you have spare light bulbs. I think you’re already aware of the reason for that.”

***

It was unfortunate that I was ‘sick’ for a few years after that. Rather it was because my body was becoming used to his energy and presence or due to my actual struggles with anxiety, which was more likely, I became anorexic and bedridden, Byleth making cruel jokes from time to time that led to my negative body image. Lestan would chastise him and Byleth eventually apologized, something he wasn’t prone to do. He became my daily dose of tough love, although with the best interests in mind. The scientist in him kept my anxiety in check, although at times I would doubt him.

He almost gave up on me a few times. Especially on the days when I would lie 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 made me feel sick and I was losing more and more weight. No one but my counselor seemed to care. My mother would get 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 in the hospital, or possibly end in serious surgery. Throughout all of this Lestan, Daro, and Byleth were there.

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Lestan would cuddle close to me at night and during the day 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 he’d been turned into 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 and how I existed, often yelling at me to get on my feet and at least try something. It was the night before Thanksgiving when everything changed. Nothing would be the same between all of us again.

“You need to do this!” Byleth was angry, his red eyes swimming with a dangerous fire. I had rarely seen him get that genuinely upset with me.

“If it’s too much anxiety for me tomorrow I can just cancel. I’ll text my brother and tell him not to get me.” I was heading to the bathroom, annoyed at the fact that alone 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 was raising in volume. If I hadn’t been at my lowest and so miserable, I should have been rightfully scared at the underlying demonic growl that permeated the Fallen Angel’s voice.

“I listen to you guys while I’m on the computer. We make things together and all kinds of fun stuff. The recordings…”

“You need to go tomorrow.” He clenched his fist at his side. “Be strong because you are a man, damn it! Start acting like the man you are and be brave!”

“Byleth…” I sighed as I made my way back to lie in bed where I’d been spending most of my days. Lestan was there, his mind just as exhausted as everyone else’s. I lied down beside him and grabbed my phone, trying in vain to just get on with my night and forget that the next day had to happen.

“You need to stop this bullshit!” He backtracked just as soon as the words left his mouth. He was still trying to control his natural inclination to overt bluntness that often upset me. “Not that I’m 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 him as he tore into me with an emotion I’d never seen him display before. He seemed genuinely worked up. “You’ve been like this for months. You keep living for the ‘what ifs’, but there is nothing wrong with you! You have been evaluated by several doctors and they find nothing! Neither Daro nor I am a threat to your health either, and will not cause you this kind of harm. You are fine. God damn it, just find your resolve! You can’t keep living like this!”

If he had been human he would have been shaking with anger, but the energy around him was vibrating instead, his eyes glowing and wild. For a moment I felt fear well up in me, although at that point in my life I wouldn’t have cared if it was my time. “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 into going, I will!” He looked off to the side, his control returning. “And then I will give you even more Hell about that.” Daro smirked from where he sat in the old retro rocking chair in the corner of my bedroom, his pale pink eyes glimmering. It seemed that he knew something that no one else could have possibly picked up on, but it was in his nature to sit and be silent – simply observing and letting matters play out to the eventual end. I sighed.

“Can’t I just stay home and cook my own turkey while we finish our project from tonight? 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 anxiety 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 the situation.

“You are upset. Please, try to calm yourself.”

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

“Why do you care so much?” Tears threatened at the corner of my eyes. I was exhausted and no amount of further fighting was going to solve anything. “Why do you care about me?”

“I…!” He paused, his finger raised in a threatening gesture before he withdrew, words escaping him. This seemed to irritate him worse than anything as a loss of words wasn’t something he often experienced. He huffed angrily instead of continuing. Daro chuckled, amused at 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 lamented. “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 every day, Byleth is a King of Hell. He could never care that much for me.”

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

The moment his fist hit the wall my heart was in my throat. The growl brought my fear to the surface, my pulse rising as I’d realized just how angry I’d made this Fallen King. I had been careless and selfish, and I’d lost sight due to the familiarity of who I was truly dealing with. Byleth didn’t have to remain – he didn’t even have to entertain me for as long as he had. I was being thankless and pitiful while he got himself so 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 what he truly felt despite what he tried so hard to avoid. The tears spilled over. 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 trying to fix whatever damage I had done, and in turn, 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 instantly and raised a questioning eyebrow, his fist falling to his side once more where it had been like a vice grip against the wall. Every muscle seemed to relax at once as he spoke. “You what?”

“I don’t want you to leave me, please.” I felt Lestan rubbing my back then, his silence due in part 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 stopped and I watched him, realizing that 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…” I searched for the words again, my nerves all on display 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.” The words came braver now, my confidence coming back to me as I watched Byleth’s unease. “Like I do Lestan, Daro, and everyone else you haven’t met yet. I love you, Byleth.” He shifted where he stood and leaned back against the wall, his eyes shifting to find something to look at other than me.

“That’s a new one.” He huffed a laugh. “You’re not supposed to love an entity from Hell.”

“But I do,” I continued. “I love you and I love Daro.” He looked at me fully then, focusing on my tired brown eyes with his dark crimson.

“You really mean that?” The warning that accompanied those words did not escape me. Somewhere inside I knew I had just made a decision I couldn’t take back, but I knew then 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, he crossed the room and climbed over me, pinning me down with a kiss that had more meaning behind it than any other he’d given me before. This wasn’t a moment of pure lust or objectification of the act itself for pleasure – it was with the intent that there would be many more like it and that everything had shifted. Nothing would be the same again, and both Lestan and Daro knew that very well as all tension finally left the room.

As soon as I was able to breathe again, Byleth smiled down at me, ghosting his words over my lips. “Love is the highest form of flattery, sugar.”

***

Ever since that night, Byleth hasn’t left my side. With Lestan and Daro along with him, they have all been a constant presence in my life, any of the others popping in at random times to let me know they’re there as well. Tetsu, the elf, seems to come around more often as he always had, but in the end, I’ve definitely learned one important thing that I always seem to forget.

I’m never truly alone. I have an amazing support system right here that is just as important regardless of anyone else’s ability to see or sense them. I see them, I hear them, and I know they are there. It’s the purest form of love that not many people experience with each other, but it’s a connection that I’ve had in one way or another since I’d first met Lestan when I was twelve years old. It’s something special, and I truly think they are all a gift that was given to me to help me walk this path of life that seems to be more than bumpy at the best of times.

©2018 Shane Blackheart

 

The Liebster Award

award

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!

Books are immortality