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"Here we go, the world is spinning. When it stops, it's just beginning. Sun comes up, we laugh`and we cry. Sun goes down, we all die…"

Thirteen Hallowed Nights

The First Night:

"The Envy"

By Corvus no Genmu

He blinked his eyes once… twice… three times before settling back against his chair and pressing eject on the remote control. He had known what to expect having been told of the contents by those who urged him to watch it anyway, thinking him foolish enough to be baited by such mediocrity as a childish dare. No, he wanted to see for himself the dreaded video that was whispered in the dark corners of the internet where many had joked of its true potential and spoke of their disgust at the tape's horrible images and spoke nevermore since.

He had seen them all, never pausing for reconsideration's sake. The burning tree, the eye of the equine, the lamb with a missing leg, the human forms swimming beneath a sea of velvet, as well as the glowing white ring. He had seen them all without blinking and had formed his own opinion.

For such a young child, so troubled by insomnia and already surrounded on all sides by death, she had a very artistic mind even if the work was not of her own true design. It was beautifully done; the images all had a message in them. He could immediately interpret some but a few would require more serious contemplation, perhaps even a dash of meditation, on his part. It would take time but that was something he had plenty of these days.

Almost immediately after the tape was ejected, the phone began to ring. He looked towards it and followed the cord to the wall where it laid just short of the jack-port. He stood and moved noiselessly to the phone and pressed the speaker button.

"Seven days…"

He smiled, a faint mist coming from his mouth as he spoke. "I'll be waiting."

The phone line remained connected for a moment, as though the other side was confused not so much by his answer but in the way he spoke. His was an eager voice like a child looking forward to reuniting with an old friend and the other side could not comprehend this.

The line went dead.

The days went by, those who gave him the tape were long gone out of this life and, through word of mouth or by other means, he had become the opposite of the pariah he had always been. The people of his high school were curious as to the contents of the video, whether or not he had heard the voice of the 'Demon of the Well' speak to him through his telephone, or if he had already begun to see the visions.

He was silent throughout the time, sparing them a glance or two before focusing on his schoolwork or on other mundane interests. Had the previous viewers lived many would have assumed it nothing more than lies that he had watched the tape, for no one in their right mind could be as calm as he was. His lack of fear was odd but his not trying to save himself was far more so. He hadn't questioned anyone about watching the tape for themselves and, had anyone asked, he would have told them the truth.

He had destroyed the tape.

A good smashing of the hammer was all it needed really.

The fear he could live with, if it kept the school population away from him as the week went on, and the visions themselves were nothing short of surreal. He had been watching a movie file on his laptop when a fly had suddenly flown into the video-screen before flying right out of the laptop itself. He snatched it out of thin air and held it by the wing to stare at it in wonder. Its body flickered in and out of focus, like a television going out of sync with the channel.

He fed it to the frog in his science class.

There were others that came and went, from trees suddenly bursting into flame but on a second glance would be completely unharmed to severed fingers floating in his pickle jar. He took them in stride and got rid of any foodstuffs that were expired in such a grisly fashion. Near the end of the week, students began to give him a wider birth than usual, as though they were afraid that just being near him would pass the curse onto them.

The frog's unexplainable demise only served to solidify their belief.

Now he was here, resting in his chair, a cup of lukewarm tea swirling lazily in his hand as he stared into the tome he was reading with not a care in the world as the minutes ticked onwards toward his doom. His ears twitched at the sound of static filling the air but he didn't look up from his book, choosing to only spare a glance towards the mirror in which he could see the reflection of the television's screen and the well it displayed. He sighed, a faint mist escaping from his mouth, and turned his attention back towards his book.

He turned a page and took a sip out of his teacup before setting it down on the table beside him. His eyes stayed on the small script until he could feel more than see her form standing before him. He raised an eyebrow before marking his page with a bookmark and setting the book down and looking at her for the first time.

She was dripping wet and was wearing a plain white dress that matched the hue of her skin perfectly. By the condition of her hands and arms, and the apparent lack of skin tone, he knew that she was nothing more than a husk, a walking corpse brought to this world by a power not her own. Her black hair, falling down past her waist, moved almost on its own accord, revealing her scowling face to him, before their eyes met.

He blinked and waited for her to kill him and was marginally surprised to see her scowl deepen and her eyes harden. He continued to watch her unblinking before yawning to himself. It was rather late after all, near the midnight hour and past the time he usually reserved for rest. She was trembling and the fingers of her hands were twitching as her hair seemed to waver in an unfelt wind. He idly noted that the floor of his living room was now quite wet when he felt her small form climb up onto his lap.

How dare this boy be so… so… She had no idea what is was or even how to phrase it. Ever since her death, she hadn't encountered anyone that was so indifferent to her appearance. He just looked at her as though he was waiting for her to speak but she wouldn't, she couldn't, not as she was now. He didn't scream, he didn't rot away into a soaking corpse, he just sat there staring at her, infuriating her with the same emotionless face she had used herself when she was alive. If her powers would not work against him, than she'd resort to mundane means if she had to in order to be heard!

Her hands reached toward his throat but his own grasped her wrists and she flinched back at the strange sensation that traveled up through her shoulders. The television made a loud noise like the whine of a broken car motor as she stared down at her arms, her perpetual scowl melting away for the first time in decades as she looked down upon plain, ordinary flesh, fingers whole and complete. The change wasn't instantaneous but it wasn't slow either. It was like watching water turn slowly into steam.

He released his grip on her wrists and placed a hand gently upon her knee, earning a shiver from her as she felt sensation return to her legs. His other hand reached up to her hair and stroked it gently, water condensing into steam as hair that was once compared to piano wire returned to its silken nature. Throughout it all, the whine from the television grew into a terrible sound as the world within the screen began to tremble and shake, bloodied water bursting up from the stone well.

A sudden agonized scream too high-pitched to be human echoed from the darkness abyss only to be swiftly overtaken by the neighing cries of a noble equine as hardened hoofs stamped down brutal retribution and yet nothing was there but a well gushing great geysers of water that slowly began to run red with blood though it be still a colorless world behind the glass.

Her eyes met his once more, shock evident on her distorted face, as he smiled and leaned forward to tenderly kiss her forehead. Salty water fell past her cheeks, flushed with warmth as mortal blood began to pump through her veins once more, but it wasn't water from the well. Her eyes, once nothing more than dark orbs of obsidian even in life, were now a shade of blue that was wet with tears that slowly fell down her cheeks. The screeching in the background cut off as the television screen depicted the well collapsing upon itself as the landscape around it fell away into oblivion, the sound of a equine stampede echoing though none could be seen in the colorless void.

In the trashcan outside the house, a cassette crushed beyond recognition melted as the tape, somehow still in one piece, burst into flames. Across the entire globe, the phenomenon continued as more tapes began to burn even when attempts were made to salvage them. In the end, the only thing left out of any one of those cursed tapes were piles of ash that were soon to be swept away by the four winds. She knew that somehow this boy; no she couldn't call him that if he did what she always believed to be impossible; this angel had given her a gift she could never repay.

He had set her free.

Her power was there but it was there at her beck and call, to rise and ebb as she so wished and her flesh, she could feel! Her clothes, his clothes, the heat their bodies were generating, and pain; actual physical discomfort! For the first time, she felt pain and, for but a moment, it scared her more than being in the well, more than those long seven days it took for her to die, but then she realized that now, in this new life, she was more alive than she had ever truly been. Her tears fell harder and she collapsed against him.

She didn't know how he did it, or if perhaps it was something of her own accord, but she needed this feeling of being alive to continue and she was too afraid to let it go even if it meant more emotional pain when the boy would eventually push her away. He didn't. He pulled her closer to him, wrapping an arm tight around her waist, the other hand continuing to stroke her soft hair. Her eyelids felt heavier, was she tired? She was actually feeling physical and mental exhaustion? A yawn amidst the tears answered her unvoiced questions. His chest bounced against her, his laughter contained behind a closed yet smiling mouth.

"Rest Samara," he whispered, "and dream beautiful dreams."

Tired eyes blinked up at him, the remaining tears falling, and she tried to ask him so many questions but she knew not a single one that was the most important. What was he that he could withstand her power as he did? How had she been freed from her self-induced torment? Why had this happened now or better yet, why he had even done this wonderful thing at all, but the desire to sleep was strong and having no experience in fighting it, she slowly began to fall into the welcoming embrace of unconsciousness.

But she had sense enough to ask at least one question.

"Who… are you…?" His shining emerald eyes sparkled through the ivory locks of his hair and his smile was enough to match the sun.

"I'm... whatever you want me to be," he whispered, pressing his lips once more to her forehead. "Call me Jacque."

Kindness melts away the wretched slimes of envy…