A/N - Ugggggghhhh. I have been so incredibly uninspired to write for such a long time, and as a result, I've disappointed all of you guys. I'm so sorry! If you haven't already, come find me on Tumblr as turbo-the-ghost-boy and hit me up for a roleplay or something - I'm there all the time. Now, on to the writing updates:
Ghost King will be updated by Friday. I'd also like to update If It Ain't Broke sometime in the near future (with amendments to the two previously written
"Help! Help me!"
King Candy rubbed his eyes as a tiny little voice dragged him from his slumber. At first, he didn't hear the words as much as the annoying shrill tone. Who dares interrupt the King of Sugar Rush while he's sleeping?! Sour Bill, that had better not be you!
His first cursory scan of the room revealed no one, but his royal bedchambers were huge – the largest in the whole castle, in fact. Someone could easily be hiding in the shadows. Or stuck there, by the sound of things...
"Help me! Help me!"
Couldn't be Sour Bill. The voice was too high-pitched, too childlike. One of the Sugar Rush racers, perhaps? If so, then King Candy's bet was on Gloyd Orangeboar, who seemed the most likely culprit when it came to sneaking in and getting trapped in a tiny space where you weren't meant to be.
"All right, I'm coming," grumbled the king softly, swinging his feet over the side of the plush pink bed and nudging on his slippers. "Keep your pantsth on, hoo." He hated being caught in just his nightshirt and cap – it wasn't very kingly, of course, but if he didn't attend to this now, he would surely get no sleep tonight. "Where are you, anywaysth? I can't thsee you – "
And suddenly, without a doubt, King Candy knew that the voice was coming from his mirror.
The king was privately considered by his subjects to be a trifle narcissistic. He bragged about his victories at every opportunity, often threw lavish celebrations of himself for no reason other than that he existed, and seemed more often than not to be wrapped up in his own little world. But if there was one egomaniacal behavior that he avoided on principle, it was gazing at himself in mirrors. As strange as it was, he seemed to have an aversion to his own reflection. So he kept the looking-glass in his bedchambers covered with a swatch of dark red velvet. (Red velvet, of course, because he lived in a game full of sweets and there's a kind of cake called – no? Harumph.)
Mirrors showed you who you were. They made King Candy uncomfortable, on a subconscious level, because he didn't know who he was...not really. Not anymore.
Numbness swept over him, and the lingering darkness seemed to enfold most of the room, until the only objects he could see were his bed, the mirror, and the path between them. Knowing on some level that this was a dream, and yet powerless to stop himself, the king shuffled forward.
"Help me! Help!"
His hand reached out and snatched the fabric drape away from the mirror.
The room behind him was reflected in the glass, just as it should have been...but his own image was not present. Instead, occupying the spot where he should have been was a boy. White skin, white clothes, huge and pleading yellow eyes set in dark hollows. It was easy to make out the capital letter T emblazoned in red across his helmet.
"Help me!" the boy cried again. The glow from his luminescent eyes cast strange shadows about his face, and his palms were pressed flat against the opposite side of the mirror, as if pushing hard enough would release him from his glass prison.
King Candy felt a chill in his veins.
"Impossible," he hissed, not bothering to question where his lisp had suddenly gone. "You...you're gone. You're gone! I got rid of you myself!"
The boy stopped his futile escape attempt and gazed at King Candy with an expression of utter betrayal. "How could you do this?!"
As King Candy often assured himself and others, the hardest part of being in a position of power was doing what's right, no matter what. Sometimes, doing what was right had surprisingly nasty consequences, leading to unpleasant things that no one wanted to think about. But that was all right; the king had disposed of his conscience a long time ago, around the time that he'd realized how his fate of moping around in Game Central Station could be changed by just pulling a few strings, and using the talents that he'd had from the start...
It was easy to justify all of that to himself, but somehow incredibly hard to justify it with who he'd once been.
"I don't have to explain myself to you," he growled, turning away. Yet his limbs felt heavy and stiff, and his eyes kept getting dragged back towards the mirror.
The boy's expression didn't change. "But you're hurting people!"
"I'm hurting people?!" King Candy barked out a strangled laugh. "You're a fine one to talk! Haven't you ever heard of going Turbo? You, boy, are a murderer!"
"B-but..." spluttered the boy, Turbo, guilt flickering through his lemon-colored eyes. "I never meant to do that! And you – "
"I never killed anyone, hoo!" King Candy made this sound as if it were something extremely difficult to achieve. "Just put a little glitch in her place, and earned myself the treatment I deserved! And do you know what that means? It means, ahoo, that I'm better than you!"
That seemed to shut the little brat up, so King Candy pivoted on his heels dramatically, his back facing in the direction of his former self. He'd had enough of this mirror business for one night. "It'th like I alwayth thaid," he grumbled. Oh, good, his lisp had returned; he was slipping back into his mask now, which meant that reality was returning. "You're jutht a kid!"
He couldn't see the looking-glass, and yet somehow, he could sense Turbo's face twisting with fury. "No, I'm not."
"Ahoo, yeth, you are!"
"No I'm not! You are!"
And as soon as he said it, King Candy's entire perspective turned inside-out. A choked gasp burbled from his throat, and he doubled over, clutching his head – only to find his fingers grasping at a smooth plastic hemet, instead of gray hair tufts ringing bald skin...
He looked down at himself to see that he truly was himself again, stuffed without warning back into his chunky 8-bit body, his white complexion, his ghost boy face. He was no longer a king. He was a child, as he'd so condescendingly told his reflection, just a kid. But if he was Turbo, then that meant that his reflection would now be...
He spun back to the mirror and yelped with terror.
The figure facing him wasn't King Candy, not really. It seemed to be a dozen different characters and creatures at once, melded and fused together with lumps of glitching pixels, sprouting tentacles and shriveled heads and too many limbs, all wrapped up and just barely contained within the skin of a saccharine old king. The old man had wild eyes and very sharp teeth, both of which were acid green. He leered, reaching through the glass of the mirror with fingers that were far too sharp.
"Do you see what you've become, Turbo?!"
Mercifully, the dream ended there.
Sour Bill had just parted the blackout curtains, and King Candy's bedchambers were bathed in cheerful Sugar Rush sunlight, the same as every morning. The sour attendant himself was nowhere to be found, and the king was grateful for it. He was trembling visibly, his skin beaded with cold sweat droplets, and for a second he could have sworn that sickly-colored static was sputtering against his torso, as if a dark shape was retreating into his chest...
But no. That was just ridiculous. He was a perfectly solid and healthy character; the only person who glitched around here was, well, the glitch.
Malware is a funny thing. It weaves its way into your mind, subtly changing who you are a bit at a time, becoming so much a part of you that you never even know it's there. So King Candy didn't realize that he'd been infected when it happened, and so many years later, he still didn't understand that he wasn't alone in his head, that the separation from his true self was becoming more and more pronounced every day. Still, there were some introspective moments, such as this morning, when he couldn't help but notice just how radically different he was now, and wonder how exactly that had happened...
But when he lifted his head and saw that the mirror was still hidden from sight beneath its red velvet drape, he felt reassured. It was time to get up, make himself look presentable, and go out and win a few races like the greatest racer ever that he was.
He had to peek at his reflection, though...just to be sure.
And he lifted a corner of the fabric, and the face that he saw was exactly the one that he'd expected to see.
"You're looking rather pale, old friend, hoo-hoo," he murmured to himself, gently dragging a hand across his gaunt cheek. "In fact, one might even thay ghothtly."