Chapter 28, Part 2: The Wings Are A Lot

Author notes

Part two of this chapter was a lot. I’ve been dreading it (and thus delaying it and rewriting it forever), but also laying the groundwork for it since the beginning so I’m kind of excited that I just took the plunge (?). I may have been a smidge ambitious and had to jettison a few things to a later chapter, but overall I’m happy (and also sad lol this chapter was an attack on myself).

Halfway through editing, I got a new computer so the quality of images on the last page is greatly improved.

Oh and I’m experimenting with footnotes because this story is dense and my world-building is dense (overzealous?). Hopefully, this will help when I’m doing call backs to past information. But who knows? This is an ever-evolving project 🙂

Laurel and Hodges Cemetery Crypts


Vlad did not look up when William came into the tomb. This is who I am. William had always known, and Vlad had wanted Alice to know too.

“I’m not used to receiving phone calls from you wanting to talk. Usually, I happen upon the destruction and force you.”

“There’s no destruction,” Vlad replied, unable to keep the petulant tone out of his voice. Ego and arrogance demanded he make calling William seem like a favor, rather than a need.

“Right,” William observed wryly, picking his way past a few stones and the coffins Vlad had tossed into the center of the room.

“Fine, there was a little destruction,” Vlad grumbled, ignoring the non-committal sound William made in response.

“I don’t understand any of this!” he continued, agitation causing him to pace. “All of this feeling is killing me. And to what purpose? There’s no rhyme or reason to it!”

“There’s no rhyme or…Vladislaus, do you not see that you’re a—”

“Monster,” Vlad finished, pinching the bridge of his nose. Talking was a bad idea. He already disliked it.

William sighed, casting his eyes heavenward as if to ask for patience. “Do you remember when we died?”

Of course he remembered. It was not a thing to forget. Vlad’s father had demanded they go and clear Forgotten Hollow. It was the price of getting back his wife and son.1 It seemed an insurmountable task but when they rode up with their small contingent and saw only a few half-starved looking soldiers, Vlad was sure his father had truly gone mad. 

“I told you that we were lucky,” Vlad recounted, his voice tinged with bitterness. “That the Villain King had lost his bite and his mind and we would do this small task and be home before a fortnight.”

But the small half-starved army had turned out to be half-starved vampires. They made mince-meat of nearly everyone but William and Vlad. 

“Your father, the King, knew exactly what early grave he sent us to.”

“Dying was not the worst of it,” Vlad croaked, voice thick with the emotion the memory summoned up. “The waking up was…brutal. But you were determined—”

“No,” William interjected. “You were determined. I was the last Great Knight of Windenburg,” he mocked, his head tilted in disgust. “Trained under Fatima Simovitch herself, and what did it buy me? A desire to meet the sun. But not you, crowned prince. You refused to grant me leave. A great big pain in my ass. Savior of my undead life.”

The olive branch hung in the air, but Vlad could not make himself reach for it. “I don’t remember that version of myself,” he said instead.

“You didn’t forget it by accident, Vladislaus. Josef ensured you would be so broken, so lost, that you would step into the mouth of that cave and let that darkness scrape out your insides and take up residence.” 2

Even as William laid the blame at his father’s feet, it scalded Vlad like an accusation. He could not stop experiencing his trauma as something he had somehow caused.

“My pain—”

“Was excruciating,” William countered angrily. “But not singular! You cannot carry it with you the whole of your immortal life. You won’t just be nothing, you’ll have nothing.”

William rubbed his eyes, “You can have your misery or you can have Alice, but mark my words, you cannot have both.”

Alice wasn’t just Alice. For Vlad, she had come to represent a purpose outside of just existing, a possible version of a life where he could pine for something other than how things used to be.

“Why would you tell me this?” he rasped. “To remind me that I have a beast within me? That it pushed her away?”

“Yes,” William declared firmly. “To remind you that you are this creature, but you are Vladislaus too. You called me here because you did something dramatic. That’s not the actions of some monster, that’s just the same soft-hearted fool I’ve known most of my life. So you went too far this time and didn’t go far enough before? Go and find some middle ground.”

Middle ground? Vlad often felt he was all one thing or all the other, nothing in between. But he could try, couldn’t he?

“Any other wisdom?” he retorted, but there was no heat in it.

“Yes, since you asked. Stop bloody blindsiding her! It’s a wonder she didn’t try to stake you. I’ve been a vampire for nearly 600 years and even I find the sight of those eyes and those wings unsettling.” 

  • Dolly Llama
    May 18, 2020

    No objections to the footnotes here. But my favorite book is Infinite Jest (WHICH SHOULD EXPLAIN A LOT), so take that with a grain of salt. Props for making it easy to keep track of things.

    “He could not stop experiencing his trauma as something he had somehow caused.” That how it be like. And who could come up with a more awkward and confusing way to start a conversation than saying “I don’t do it”? I buy that him interrupting her before she can word-vomit her important exposition (after the actual vomit) is a Hanlon’s razor thing and am slightly amused that the murder came out of nowhere. Waiting to see if it’s a theme that the elimination process involves actual elimination. Of life.

    Ooh, are we supposed to realize there are six bakers and five breads? Trying to figure it out but haven’t gotten there yet. Let me get out my Pepe Silvia corkboard.

    God, you don’t even have to say that’s Bloodvein. Everyone just knows it’s him. Burning our retinas. As Bernard S.-L. would say, he’s outing himself as a vampire because he clearly can’t see himself in the mirror. AND I SEE YOU INTENTIONALLY FRAMING THAT BERNARD PAINTING. No pun intended.

    Tryna figure out how you undo mortality. I’d buy that that’s Ben’s intention, but by Alice continuing to insist the undoing-Owl is going to return her to normal, what the hey does that word mean to her? And why do the voices in your head only pick the most dramatic moments to leave? Lots of emotions in that last section.

    • feroshgirl
      May 20, 2020

      – If you did not say Infinite Jest, I would have guessed it LOL! Yeah, I am trying to keep things straight (hell, even for myself). I mean, my introduction to a good footnote was The Discworld Series but I don’t think I can EVER achieve that level of perfection so I won’t even try.

      – Whew boy, Vlad has got some things going on. I’m interested in the idea of how we internalize trauma (I can *feel* my therapist peering over her eyeglasses at me) and I always thought it’d be fun to do with vampires because…well…you got like hundreds of years worth of stuff to work through. That said, I’m enjoying taking the “smooth and sexy vampire” trope and making him actually be an awkward murder-happy weirdo.

      -Cheat sheet: if happens between Vlad and Alice, it’s probably Hanlon’s razor. If it happens between Vlad and someone else, it’s probably malice.

      -Will* all of the contestants be murdered in horrifying ways as a backdrop to a budding romance? What kind of insane person would write something like that?

      -*And by will, I mean “can” they? We’ll see…

      – Dressing [clap] Bloodvein [clap] is [clap] my [clap] favorite [clap] pastime [clap]

      – You are, and I cannot stress this enough, going to hate Bernard. Chapter 29, Part 2: In Which I Write a Bernard So Awful I Almost Regret It.

      – Alice hasn’t done much by the way of investigation either of herself (what does normal even mean, Alice?) or The Owl (how DOES The Owl work Alice? You ain’t want to check that our BEFORE the contest?). She’s going to have to work through that without Ben as her crutch.

      -When is the right time to leave when you’re a non-corporeal ancient god who is trying desperately to save the conflict-averse mortal body you’ve been traveling around in for nearly 30 years?

      -I was debating whether I was going to make this scene quiet and agonizing or big and dramatic, but I decided I wanted it to be THE MOST. In part because I feel like female characters aren’t allowed to rage and have giant emotions without being crazy but also because I think we have a tradition of making big expressions of grief and emotion unseemly. Like you can get on your knees and wail at a funeral (it would probably feel good) but its frowned upon. Also, as someone who intellectually understands emotions but has a very hard time understanding them IRL, this was a really cathartic scene to write.

      • Dolly Llama
        May 22, 2020

        I know you’re saying it kind of in jest (finite jest), but, goodness, of course you’re capable of achieving that level of perfection! If I had a quarter for every time I had to reassure a writer friend that admiring someone else’s talents doesn’t diminish theirs, I could do so much laundry. So much. Funny, I think I compared your style to Terry Pratchett early on.

        Yes—I love the That-Boy-Needs-Therapy approach to vamps. People don’t automatically get better over time and if they’ve been heading down the wrong path for 500 years, that’s gonna take a shitload of therapists to reverse. And I don’t know when the right time is for a deity to un-possess a badass lady, but that ain’t it.

        There’s always something driving this story forward and it’s hard to guess what it’ll be next! Highly support having a character do stuff to flip the double bird at toxic societal expectations; totally okay with Bernard being awful. We know how dope his AU self is.

  • theplumbob
    Jul 9, 2020

    I don’t know that the footnotes are necessary, but I have had the luxury of reading all of this within less than a week 😊 Still, I think you’ve done a good job establishing everything and while perhaps noone will catch every reference, I don’t think it’s necessarily needed!

    I loved Vlad in this chapter. He’s really gone above and beyond entirely giving his all to Alice. He will be there for her in any way she needs. That is so tomantic *sniff*

    Yeah, I never thought the way Alice pictured it would, her suddenly being “normal” and Ben getting a body out of nowhere – but it’s cute she still has that hopeful side to her. I hope the news it may not be exactly like that did not break her beyond repair. Speaking of Ben, he’s been very quiet in the last few chapters.

  • Ninja Pink Sex
    Sep 30, 2022

    I gotta ask, what was it that you dreaded writing and why? Obvs you don’t have to reply – I’m just curious.

    I would like to also ask about the chapter title, The Wings are A Lot,” who is that directed to? Who would be the Sim saying/thinking that? It seems like it’s William (which is funny b/c he’s the one who gave [bought] Vlad his wings [every time a bell rings an angel gets its wings]). Alice doesn’t seem to be overwhelmed by Vlad’s “godliness.” They’re both just a couple of Sims who had gods thrust inside of them. If anyone can understand what the other has been dealing with, it’s them. I also really like the juxtaposition of Death and Fear; they sound like they are either the same or so close in relation that they’re married, which makes me get the warm fuzzies that Vlad and Alice embody both 😀

    Also, it was obvious on my phone when I read the story, but it is on my computer screen. William’s shirt is zipped down enough to make a red alert thirst trap.

    Okay, onto Deacon. Are all dudes from Sulani surfer boys? Or is it just the hot beefcakes? 😉
    Deacon was far too sweet to be the first victim eliminated (FROM THE STORY NOT THE BAKING SHOW). Damn, Fersoh. That’s just cruel. But then I got really excited b/c I know Deacon and Don the Grim Reaper hook up in this story (or so I’ve been mislead to believe?) and I was like FUCK YES FINALLY… and now I feel like this is another way you are teasing me and I am not a happy shade of Pink. Ugh. Come out of hiding, Grim Reaper! Gurdamnit.

    Alice’s expression even after winning were hilarious. Like such a “fuck this” moment that lasted for hours. I don’t blame her. She has A LOT on her mind, and apparently not a lot in her mind (Ben, I mean Ben. This is not a jab at Alice’s intelligence).

    Ben, what the fuck? Where are you? I feel like he’s getting wasted somewhere lamenting Alice’s death that hasn’t happened yet.

    Okay, what is up with Caleb and his self-righteous attitude all of a sudden. Like no bitch, B would not inhabit your body. Your body might be okay enough for our Vampire King Vlad who I will openly disrespect and stab with a sword, but you…YOU… are not fit for the God of the Death.
    Caleb is throwing shade like a weeping willow on a spring day. Fuuuuuuuuuuuk.

    I swear to god I thought Alice was going to nuke everyone after viewing Deacon’s body and explaining who she REALLY is. Gawd.

    While I did wonder how Alice would navigate a world without Ben copiloting, I never thought of her as nearly resorting to a childlike dependency on Ben. I mean, it makes sense b/c of her newfound powers and needing help navigating them, but the complete absence of him to help her navigate distress…The thing is Ben isn’t taking on a role of a best friend, but of a parent or mentor possibly. Wow her codependency was more than I imagined, but I’m also not surprised it exists, just that it exists on that level. Alice has shown herself to be so independent and in this moment it was like she reverted to her young teenage self/pre-Ben.

    • Ninja Pink Sex
      Sep 30, 2022

      * It WASN’T obvious about William’s shirt on my phone. Tiny ass photos.

    • feroshgirl
      Oct 8, 2022

      It’s so funny, I’ve been thinking about this because it’s hard to answer without hindsight being 20/20. At the time I was in a pretty codependent situation with a family member. They weren’t bad or evil, just traumatized. In fact, we grew up together traumatized, so it was hard to separate what was me and what was them. At this point, I was learning a lot about that in therapy and finding healthy ways of letting go (while still be loving! Because they weren’t bad!), but it was hard. Sometimes setting boundaries can feel like grief.

      When I realized that Ben and Alice were going to have separate (for practical reasons and story reasons), I was sort of heartbroken. I actually should have done it earlier in the story, but I enjoyed their dynamic so much, I didn’t want him to leave. I was also thinking a lot about Vlad and William’s co-dependent relationship. It was born out of love but it also stunted both of them in a lot of ways. I don’t know if I flagged this somewhere else, but when William calls Vlad “savior of his undead life,” he was not being dramatic. Literally, William was ready to kill himself after becoming a vampire. But Vlad refused to let him walk into the sun. He kept him “busy” which sort of devolved over time, but its a guilt William can’t let go of. Anyway, it just made this a really emotional chapter to write.

      The chapter title is directed at Alice and Vlad and it yeah, it came from William’s POV. His point to Vlad was just: there is a lot going on there so instead of dumping it on her and then calling it failure when she freaks out, just take your time—get her consent for revealing all of this. It was sort of a rough, ham-fisted way to try and signal that William was going through his own evolution about cursing Vlad without his consent.

      You are right though, Death and Fear give me the warm fuzzies too!

      Oh god, so many things you’ve made declarations about that I can’t answer! All I can say is that gods are cruel even when they are kind. It will be interesting to see what you think when you learn more about Ben…hehe

      You’re right! Alice has shown herself to be so independent but its like that first moment when you realize you’re pedaling the bike on your own and panic.

      ahh thank you always for such thoughtful questions and observations!

Leave a Reply