The first poster went up on an unseasonably hot October day. School had only been in session for two weeks, but for Storm, it had felt like a marathon over the hottest, most scraggly brimstones of hell. Storm was sixteen years old, full of hormones, and full of rage. Occasionally, heavy metal music, horror movies, creepypastas, and scary stories from Reddit countdown videos on Youtube did the trick for nym, but lately, ne had grown colder inside. Actually, it alternated: the baseline was cold, but the heat increased by gradients. The heat was anger. The anger’s source was being who ne was in a world that did not understand.
Storm had been born Steven, and to most of the world, Steven ne stayed. Storm had been born male, and to most of the world, male ne stayed. Only one person had ever understood ne and nis gender identity, that which was unknown to even nymself. All ne knew was that ne was not and had never been male, despite the body hair which was increasing rapidly and developing quite replete across nis body. The body hair ne could deal with; the dick, on the other hand, ne constantly looked down and loathed like Christ might a demon. What was Storm? Storm was unsure, although labels such as quoigender might be appropriate. The rest of the world outside Storm’s small group of friends (and outside of nis inner world of macabre delights) was most certainly of the opinion that nis was—
“Hey, freak,” retorted a smug voice, interrupting Storm’s reverie in the most intrusive and antagonizing manner possible.
Simon Sharkey, whom most of the student body referred to by the moniker “Shark” because he was lithe, agile, cunning, and ferocious, scowled in distaste. As Storm stood at the corkboard in the main foyer, having a brief look at it on nym’s way to homeroom, Shark had nym cornered, as he was wont to do, and his scavengers were in attendance, waiting to gobble up the scraps of his social carnage.
“What did you call me, freak?”
Storm rolled nis eyes. “That’s what’s on your birth certificate, isn’t it?”
Tina, one of the popular girls, chief cheerleader and big-titted dream girl of most the (hetero) male student body, but had chosen to hump its scariest member, piped up from Storm’s other shoulder.
“Steven, a fucking degenerate like you has shit to say about what’s written on somebody’s birth certificate.”
Laughter from the scavengers.
“You always have better comebacks than me, baby,” cooed Shark, wrapping his arm around her waist like a serpent and inserting his tongue deep down her pharynx. She smiled as they separated, but her eyes still broadcasted chilly disdain towards Storm.
Storm had grown up knowing these two, as had most of their other victims. Shark had been a predator since at least the third grade. Tina, on the other hand, had been a quiet, bitter bookworm until, under the tutelage of the now-graduated supreme cheer-captain, Cassandra “Candy” Goodweather, risen to replace her and outshine her in both talent and malice. Storm’s two closest friends, fellow sophomore (and secret crush of nis) Lainey Safechuck, and head of Rotary Club and junior, most-assuredly Valedictorian, Jacqueline St. Clair, had been bullied by Shark for their intelligence and betrayed by Tina for selling them out to achieve heightened social status. Not that anyone dared physically mess with Jackie because her father was superintendent of schools; that was why as time wore on, Lainey and Storm became primary targets. Lainey was a wraith of a girl, who looked as if she might blow over in a harsh wind. Due to their (for the time being platonic) intimacy, Storm knew that she was in the throes of bulimia nervosa, acquired from being chubby most of her childhood and hating the way she looked in the mirror. Jackie was their untouchable saint, but her being so busy (as her grades had unexpectedly pushed her ahead a grade of them), she couldn’t always be around to protect them. So they were, the overly-skinny-yet-still-remembered-fat cishet girl, and the “gender bender.” For those who knew of Tumblr, they dare not speak of it, as Shark, Tina, and their ilk were the type to decry any outlier beyond suburban socialite perfectionism worthy of derision and banishment.
Day after day, week after week, year after year, a whirlpool of recycled, clichéd insults, coupled with the admonitions of a school administration that had utilized GLSEN safe-space kits and manuals to simply pass state standards, who decried nis “experimentations” as “bringing it upon yourself, young man.” And now here Storm stood, looking at the corkboard, because for the past two weeks, Jackie and Lainey had been methodically planning a pride event. Jackie shilling for the administration as their shining academic star, finally getting the go-ahead to implement advertising a week in advance. Lainey, the soft-spoken, fleet-footed little kitten, drumming up interest, beaming whenever someone took a flier, her cheeks dimpling, her eyes sparkling, and how she would spread her arms and face towards the sky as if in prayer but instead only caterwauling “cool beans” in joy.
Only to see, glaring from an over-pasted addendum to the form, that it had been canceled.
Due to football.
Far, far away, Storm heard a grinding in one’s head, felt slivers break into nis palms and spring fresh, coppery blood to be smelt in the incoming breeze from students in motion, coming and going through the foyer, and the sound, like a distant whistle, growing closer, climbing in pitch, only identifiable as the peel of rage, the rage that perpetually boiled in a molten core in nis diaphragm and only so often, only seldom, spiking the temperature of her visceral cavity as it was excreted from its dormant cage and rose, with that whistle, that if one listened, sounded more and more like a shriek of a suffering human being—
“C’mon,” snorted Tina in her most condescending voice, “freak’s in la-la land, probably meditating on when it’ll cut off its penis, or something.”
It took a few seconds before Storm realized that the bestial bellow and resounding echo off the stairwells had, in fact, been produced from within nym.
Shark, Tina, and the scavengers stood in stunned silence.
“Did you hear me?” Storm snarled through clenched teeth. “Enough.”
For what felt like a lifetime, but in reality only lasted a matter of seconds, the silence was deafening, and not one of the crowd gathered dare move. Lainey in fact was now in attendance, but through Storm’s rage, her angelic face did not register. All of time, all of the universe, rested in the particles of light that allowed Storm to stare into Tina’s face.
Finally, Tina, confused, remarked, “Is this tranny off its hormones, or something?”
Crack. This time, the silence was much briefer, quickly consumed in the cacophonous chatter of many voices speaking at the same time in hushed tones.
Storm came to, then, only because ne felt something warm running from nis knuckles to nis wrist. Now, Lainey’s face did register. Her hands were up to her mouth, her eyes wide and glassy. Storm looked one way, saw Shark’s mouth agape and his eyes a screaming conflagration of his own rage. Storm did not want to look in the opposite direction, predicting what nis eyes would see, but did anyhow. Tina was in tears, being consoled by a member of the crowd. Her mouth was bleeding profusely. The blood matched that slowly, seductively dripping a rivulet from Storm’s knuckles on nis right hand. Ne had hit her. Ne was still seen as male by the majority of the school’s administration and faculty. This would not be good.
And yet, somewhere deep inside of nym, perhaps where the rage slept before erupting, there was the twinkling emotion of glee.
In the end, Storm received three days of out-of-school suspension. Being raised by a single mother who thought she had taught “her son” to respect women better did not help things. Storm could only find compassion and empathy in nis older brother, Tom, who understood nis gender better and thought of it as “ignorant bullshit” that they considered nis actions of self-defense of his emotional well-being and dignity “misogynist in nature and completely inappropriate” (oh, gee, they knew their social justice lingo then).
Not as bad as the school’s punishment, or even nis mother’s ten ton weight of disappointment in nym, however, were the dreams. They were nightmares, really, not in that they catapulted nym awake, broken out into a cold sweat, but that they were just the opposite: pleasant in their brutality. Sounds were muffled, and yet somehow at the same instant, amplified. The hues of the world were airbrushed in the same blood red as ne had felt—and, practically, seen—the moment nis fist had made contact. The crack of bone against bone, the sound, the tactile sensation, the experience, of at last ventilating some of nis pent up rage, had been exhilarating, but nothing compared to this. These dreams were fantastic, a veritable ecstasy of revenge. Ne had never been particularly fond of the very gory in horror fare, preferring an atmospheric, Kubrick dread to splatter, and yet these dreams were the blood, sweat, and masturbatory concoctions of Barker or Cronenburg. Had ne ever wanted to watch The Mist again, as Storm had found the film’s ending to be singularly disturbing, these beings that cavorted, seemingly under his command, might hold semblance to any one of the creatures supposedly unleashed upon that Maine town besieged by more than fog.
Spiders. No, more than that—tremendously large, bulbous, differently-headed arachnid-like morbid shits of the creator. Could God possibly conceive of living things like this? No, thought Storm, rather his opposite. These were beings of Satan. Beings was too strong of a word, as due to ne being master of their control, they could not possibly be sentient. They stampeded upon nis enemies with no particular organization, and no particular purpose beyond nis prime directive: do not discriminate, kill every motherfucker that gets in your way. The carnage that resulted was marvelous. These were not simply spiders, but spiders with heads chock full of teeth serrated like knives, and every spindly leg was equipped with a razor-like claw. Some of the larger creatures came with stingers at least two feet long, which were produced with a decompression of the abdomen. Some of the other, smaller creatures were like grenades—to step upon them made them explode into green flame and dripping shrapnel. All the while, Storm presided over this chaos like Sissy Spacek over a room of trapped prom-goers.
And when Storm would awake from these macabre scenes, ne would find nymself saturated in not sweat… but semen.
Causing death to nis enemies in the land of slumber were nis life’s first wet dreams.
Dysphoria of the Dick (DOTD was how Storm wrote it in shorthand in nis diary to prevent being outed by those who might snoop) was something that perturbed Storm almost daily. As ne had decided that nis gender was anything but male, having that pendulous tube of flesh present and connected to nis body was quite discordant to nis otherwise femme form. Perhaps nis family was right—going full-femme when ne certainly didn’t, and wasn’t intending to, pass as a woman was a little bit much for their small, rural school and surrounding neighborhood to take. And yet when ne saw the fabulously femme Elliot Alexander cavorting in pictures on Tumblr, seeming to have the time of their life, Storm could not possibly resist that inner impulse to practice nis make-up and hair.
On top of gender presentation, Storm also fancied nymself a goth. Ne loved Marilyn Manson; ne was unsure if ne wanted to be or to fuck his royal Antichrist Superstar highness. Without the resources to do nis makeup quite as thoroughly as Manson did, ne opted for some regular foundation and added not blush but a whitish-silver powder on top. Having a white base to work with, ne then used gray eyeshadow on both bottom and top lids to make nis eye-sockets look deep and skull-like. The eyes were finished with black liner and a bit of purple glitter, and then ne put on nis signature black lipstick. Ne wasn’t allowed in nis school to grow out nis natural hair, so instead, ne wore extensions, mostly black but with touches of neon green. To add to nis creepy allure, ne favored Victorian goth, but as only a high school student with a modest income from online art commissions, ne had to mostly buy from thrift stores or deals at JC Penny’s. Ne had, however, suckered nis older brother into using nis credit card to go online and buy some expensive black platform boots, which they had both initially gotten in trouble for until nis mother had actually liked the product. “Oh, they’re cute, but can you walk in them, honey?” Ne practiced up and down their cul-de-sac for a week straight before ne wore them to school.
Everything on the outside made Storm seem like ne had all nis shit together, when that really wasn’t the case. The dysphoria was crippling at times. It was funny that truscum online always went out of their way to claim that non-binary transgender people never suffered from body dysphoria, therefore were “not really trans.” Storm could write a book on how much ne suffered on a day-to-day basis for everyone still thinking ne was male, and how on the inside, ne believed them sometimes. Who was ne kidding? Delphigender, scorpigender, magiboy, surboy, xoy, ne had considered all of these labels, but sometimes still had that nagging voice of internal transphobia in the back of nis mind: You’re just a boy, you special snowflake. But ne refused to listen, as tempting as it was.
There were times ne tried to have heart-to-hearts with nis mom about body dysphoria and the potential for one-day bottom surgery, but she would have none of it. The “crossdressing” she permitted, but no surgeon was “going to go snip-snip and take away but makes my little boy a boy.” Her ignorance was terrible. Ne hated her a lot. Even nis older brother, who was understanding on most of it, said, “Hold on there, kid, you may regret that.” He had to know his shit, right? Tom was getting ready to graduate. He had just been accepted into a really great college, majoring in criminal justice. If he was going to be a cop, Storm told nymself, then there was hope for the rest of them. Tom was a bastion of morality and wisdom. Storm had always looked up to nym, and in turn, Tom had always fondly looked after his little sibling, ex-brother. So was he right about this?
A funny thing accompanied these dreams on top of their lack of causing nym any great distress over the bloodshed. Everything caused DOTD, up to and including pissing. But when Storm woke from these dreams to discover nis sticky sheets, ne simply calmly stripped them off, walked through the dark house to place them in the washing machine, and crawled back atop the bare mattress with a quilt. The dick was acting like a dick should, supposedly getting hard and cumming in nis sleep, but it wasn’t bothering nym. On the contrary, ne woke from these dreams feeling empowered and more sure of nis gender than at any other point of the day.
It was confusing and frightening to feel so good overall from dreams that should be driving Storm insane. Ne needed to talk to Lainey about this. She was becoming the only light in nis life.
Storm rolled over on the mattress and reached for nis phone. Ne had been trying to cut back on late night texting, but this seemed important. Ne sent the following message to Lainey: are you awake? I need to talk to you.
Ne lay flat on his back waiting for about a minute before he got her reply.
I’m awake. I’m actually in the backyard on the swing, listening to the frogs.
Storm felt nis face crack out into a smile. Lainey had always lived next to a swamp, ergo when she couldn’t sleep, she loved tiptoeing out of the house to go listen to the bull frogs sing under the moonlight. They had done it together more than once. It was pure magic.
What is it, Storm? Lainey inquired before ne could reply. I’m worried about you.
Storm replied back, I don’t know. I’ve been having these scary dreams. I think they’re starting to affect me when I’m awake.
They texted back and forth for a short while. Storm provided brief, vague details on the dreams, not wanting to scare Lainey too much over the emotions that accompanied them. Lainey decided to head back in, and ne was about to bode her farewell when she dropped a bombshell.
Storm, I think I’m like you. I’m scared.
Suddenly frantic, Storm texted back, trying to seem calm, Trans?
Yeah, was Lainey’s meek reply.
Is there a test or anything in calc tomorrow? If not, skip it.
No test. I’ll come.
That settled, Storm lay back on nis pillow, but knew that there would be no sleep to come tonight.
Lainey came the next day, only she wasn’t Lainey, she was Lance. It both floored and utterly excited Storm to see his best friend masculine presenting as no one had yet seen her before—or, should ne say, him?
“How long have you known this?” came Storm’s initial query.
“Not long,” Lance said, “probably just as long as you’ve known about yourself. You’ve really inspired me to be who I really am, Storm.”
Storm began to cry, and Lance hugged nym. They were truly a pair of misfits. Always had been, always would be now.
“Please tell me I didn’t feel ace bandages.”
“You mean you’re not supposed to use those?”
“Lainey! I mean, Lance… No! They’ll hurt you! I know how to tuck, but let’s see how much is out there for binding.”
So they looked, explored, and bonded along the way. As time wore on that day (as eventually, Lance had decided to skip school altogether; figuring out one’s identity was much more important than the meaningless driven they passed off as an education), Storm began to fall more and more in love with nis best friend. This new boy was no different than the supposed girl Storm had known all nis life, and yet he was different, in the fact that he glowed. Before coming out, Lance had always been a very taciturn little lamb of a thing; now, the spark of a lion shone in his eyes. If not for the fact that coming out was enough of an epiphany on that day, Storm would have asked Lance if ne could kiss him.
At around usual school dismissal time, three-o’clock, Lance left the way he had came, sneaking out Storm’s window and around the back of the house, towards the woods and his development on the other side. Storm watched him fondly as he left. They had spent the best years of their lives in those woods, and, in retrospect, Storm should have known Lance was a boy because despite being usually shy, he had always wanted to take the lead. He was the captain of the imagination ship as it sailed anywhere from outer space to the plains of Africa. How much simpler things had been then, before the bullies, and before they had come to realize that they were in possession of truths that most of the world couldn’t help but hate.
Feeling a rush of nostalgia laced with sadness, Storm sat down upon nis bed, then lay on it. Something deep inside of nym felt like a thorn in nis side. Ne definitely was not a psychic, but at times, before something truly horrible happened, Storm felt a sense of dread like an omen. Why was ne feeling this now? Nis best friend was out, feeling more confident than he ever had in life. Storm was inches from confessing nis feelings to him, and maybe, just maybe, he would go along with it, and they would go from best friends to the best damn transgender power couple their school had ever seen. (Storm managed a small smile at the thought of this.) So why were drums of foreboding going off deep inside nis head?
Drums in the deep, doom, doom, doom.
And the faintest clicking of spider’s legs.
The second poster was waiting for Storm when ne returned to school three days later, and it was, in its searing, agonizing implications towards nis life, infinitely more disturbing than the first.
Memorial service for Lainey Safechuck held in the gymnasium, 2pm.
Storm’s mind reeled and nis body felt light years away. Nis legs trembled in nis skirt. Feeling nis knees give way only half-consciously, Storm dropped to them, tangling nis fingers into nis hair and digging nis nails into nis scalp, barely registering the pain, because the pain in nis heart, in nis soul, was phenomenally greater. Nis stomach felt like a stone at the bottom of a cold, deep lake. Nis mouth felt like the sand of Death Valley. Nis skin was drenched in an acidic sweat that sliced through nis makeup like so many knives. And, at imagining the metaphor of knives, Storm felt like plunging one deep into nis flesh. They could call it melodramatic all they wanted, but Lance and he could have been the lovers that Romeo and Juliet would have envied, and now those hopes, along with Lance’s life, had been snuffed out so suddenly and so cruelly.
Storm numbly felt someone lifting nym to nis feet. Ne turned to face the equally-tear-drenched face of Jackie.
The first words out of Storm’s lips was a faintly whispered “How?”
Through sobs, Jackie explained the freak accident. After a disclosure via text, Jackie had met Lance after school, prepped him for the potential backlash. Jackie wasn’t trans, but if anyone knew how to face down the snickers from bullies and the jealousy from the student body, it was its star pupil. Jackie was even able to supply a pair of pantyhose she never wore, carefully following the instructions online to construct a makeshift binder. On debut day, Lance had walked into school with the most aplomb and confidence his normally shy temperament could muster. The members of the school environment had been confused on the surface, suspicious beneath it. No one would admit it, but Jackie had sensed that they all wondered where this had come from, and if it was genuine.
Jackie continued that she had learned, via text, that Lance’s parents had been waiting for him at home, and they had immediately gotten into a fight. His father had erupted into a volcanic explosion of bigotry while his mother had gone the subtler route, being “concerned” that “maybe you’re just copying that boy to see if you can get him to like you.”
“His parents both thought you’d brainwashed him,” Jackie said then tearfully, “like he hadn’t come to the decision to come out at all, that you had just sucked him into some perverted lifestyle.”
At this, Storm felt the first pinpricks of that familiar rage.
As a result of this squall of accusations and misunderstanding that had assaulted him, Lance had turned to his old friend bulimia to cope. It had to be that no one was taking him seriously as a boy because he was still too fat, had too much adipose tissue on his hips and in his breasts. Having been sentenced to being grounded to his room without any supper, Lance had binged on potato chips and candy before forcing it all back up later on. The acrid taste of vomit on his tongue felt like an old, familiar friend, like arriving in one’s favorite bakery to smell the sweet, warm aroma in the air, like catching a whiff of one’s father’s cologne during a hug.
“Can dysphoria make an eating disorder worse?” Storm had interrupted Jackie here.
“I guess,” was Jackie’s only response, “I don’t know. All I know is, he went on a really bad bender and then came to school that way. He looked so pale and kept shaking, he should have stayed home, but I knew he was determined to show everyone wrong, you know?”
Yes, Storm knew. Lance had a stubborn side, especially when it came to being told off as not knowing what he damn well knew.
It had been a gym day and, despite the teacher’s protestations, Lance had gone into the male locker room to change. Defiant to the end, even when accosted by Shark and his gang of miscreants— “Nice titties, there, Laaaancce. Did you know boys aren’t supposed to have titties, or did that tranny freak get his bullshit inside your head?”—Lance had given them all two big one-finger salutes.
“They rushed him,” Jackie explained. The combined physical strength of half a dozen high school boys had been devastating. Lance had been slammed forcefully and repeatedly into the lockers and kicked several times while lying on the floor, including in the head. Because the gym teacher had worried about Lance changing in his chosen location, he had hovered within the locker area, and, detecting some unrest, came in to find the scuffle. Bellowing for all of the attackers to step aside, the teacher had found Lance, bruised, battered, and shaking, in the fetal position upon the cement floor. The worse part was that his nose and mouth had been bleeding.
An ambulance was called. Lance had been rushed into the emergency room. The team had found internal bleeding. Lance’s heart was also very weak, as is commonly the case with eating disorder sufferers. At one point, Lance had gone unconscious, and had been unable to be resuscitated.
“Just like that, he was gone,” Jackie said, now emptily. “Those assholes are murderers. Of course, they won’t be charged with anything. You know what they’ll say, Lance brought it upon himself, by ‘defying nature.’ All of this fucking lip service they give us in here about being ‘zero tolerance’ and ‘anti-bullying.’ I bring it up at every Rotary meeting, that they don’t mean shit, that’s just what it is, lip service. I try to implement policies, try to get things done, and they just won’t budge on it. They just won’t budge. They don’t want to. They’re perfectly content with being ignorant. Well, now they’ll do something, only because it cost one of their students his life.”
Storm was suddenly blinded by rage. He said to Jackie, “Take me with you,” and together, right that second, they marched into the principal’s office and demanded that better action be taken against transphobic bullying in the school. It was to no avail, as Storm was warned that ne had already been suspended, “do you want to be expelled, young man?” Jackie tried to get them to listen to her, and they claimed they would, but only after the matters with Lance had been settled. Jackie then warned that she would go to the local press about it, and, taking Storm by the arm, they both had marched back out.
The entire day passed by like a time-warped hallucination, sounds muffled, colors too bright, and the seconds ticking by entirely too slow. At two-o’clock, in lieu of either gym or study hall, the student body was herded into the bleachers, and a dreary slideshow commenced of “Lainey’s” life. Then came the stump speech, which openly rolled her eyes at, then came the chance for students to say any words.
So Storm raised nis hand, making the decision that would change everyone’s lives.
Through mascara stains, Storm said nis eulogy. Ne used proper name and pronoun, and when the mic was yanked from nis lips, ne screamed out the truth in a sorrowful rage.
“HE TRUSTED YOU!” Storm declared.
And when the principal came waddling, Storm acting not on impulse but out of spite, raised the mic stand off the floor and pointed it angrily in his direction to impede his path, issuing a gasp from the school administration.
“Young man--“ the principal began, but Storm silenced them, too.
“I AM NOT A MAN!” ne bellowed. “But Lance was, and rather than accept it, you buried him! You should all be ashamed of yourselves, how can you sleep at night?!”
A deafening silence told Storm that nis words were beginning to register.
“Storm is right!” Jackie suddenly cried, surprising all but her best friend by coming to nis defense. She bounded down the bleachers and ran to the microphone as Storm placed it back down, seizing it in hand. “This school is atrocious on its LGBT protective policies, even compared to the rest of the state! As valedictorian, I’m frankly ashamed of how lax the administration is on anti-gay bullying. A hate crime took place, and rather than acknowledging it, we’re here serving up some faux-concern sympathy fest while disrespecting the wishes of a dead student! It’s despicable!”
Suddenly there came another interruption from the audience, although a decidedly more negative one: Shark.
“I don’t care what that nigger in Washington says!” Simon bellowed, startling everyone not only with his raised voice but the vitriol it carried. “We don’t gotta accept no faggots, no trannies, no fairies, no sissies of any kind, because this is the United States of America, and we have freedom of speech!” At this outburst, even Tina looked on in disgust. But he had more. As the principal turned to address this new, more antagonistic insurrection, Shark continued roaring about liberty and the right to “kill any homo that dared look funny my way,” unabated. Just before he was snatched into the grasp of higher authority and made to march down the bleachers towards punishment, Shark threw back his arm and pitched something towards Jackie and Storm. It didn’t fully reach them but, as it flew, the object was clearly discernable: a pair of bloody underwear. It landed on the gym floor, the dried crimson of it resembling the macabre grin of death. As if in on the joke, Shark laughed, kicking his feet off the ground as now two members of the school governance hauled him away.
“She wasn’t dead yet, fuckers! Hahahaha!” he brayed. “I know because I snuck in there after all the doctors had left. I wanted to make sure! Real sure! Lil’ bitch still had a pulse! Lil’ bitch had some fight left in her, too! Pinned her down and reminded her she wasn’t no fucking man! Maybe a fag, but even a fag don’t have a pussy! Hahaha! I did it, arrest me, cunts, I did it! Hahahaha!”
Storm remembered nothing after the final notes of Shark’s sick, cackling laughter vanished along with him as he was forcefully escorted out the gym doors. Ne didn’t hear the teacher trying to calm the crowd and announce that the memorial service was over. Ne barely noticed Jackie’s wide eyed stare and her backing away from nym out of the corner of nis eye.
The world was now as red as the blood-stained panties lying at the foot of the bleachers.
They knew. They had to.
They all had to pay.
Chaos by nis design. Mascara becoming blood. A red rain. Red vision. Red fissures in nis skin. Red ooze from nis heart. Red river flowing from nis dick. Red gore of nis ribcage splitting open to deliver a red and black birth. Screams of terror like flute music to nis ears. One after one, the spiders poured out, following their mother, the largest, spiders with claw-tipped legs, spiders with stingers, spiders with teeth, spiders with only one objective on their arachnid little minds, murder, delivered package wrapped somehow through the body of Storm, somewhere from within Dante’s wrathful circle of hell. The spiders gnawed, clawed, gnashed, clashed, delivered pain and misery and death, sought the warmth of mouths and anuses, squeezed inside, ripped their way back out, detonated in miniature green plumes and towers of flame. Had Jackie made it out? Who knows, who cares, the Storm of friendship, allyship, compassion, and forgiveness was dead, gone, buried under geological centuries of age, drowning under untold ocean depths of vengeance, and really, despite her efforts, Jackie was still cis, wasn’t she? Yes, Jackie was still cis, and as the meme said, die cis scum, die from disembowelment, die from decapitation, die from disintegration, die suffering in agony and beg the Lord for your soul that is if he isn’t trans Himself. There was no humanity left in Storm, only rage, only anger, only retribution, and in a Laveyan sense, time had long since passed for the turning of the cheek, now was the time for the ignorant, the opinionated, for all the enemies life had thrown in Storm’s way, to pay. Pay with their lives, their souls, their bones, their blood, their apathy transfigured into screams.
So Storm stood, anchored to the spot, until nis flesh dissolved in the acid dripping from the spiders’ barbs and teeth, until nis body calcified, and ne stood, chest cavity sundered, arms spread wide open like the angel of death taking flight, like a tree of black bark sewn of spite grown tall and high, sprouted from the grave of a foe.