Nicholas stood outside his new home with his hands on his hips and a smile on his face. He looked up at the run-down shed with desire in his eye. He turned to Ryan, who stood by his side; extending his grin further, he wrapped his arm around him.
“Are you excited?” Ryan asked, and he pushed closer to him.
“Oh fuck yes, this is going to be so much fun.”
Nicholas let go of Ryan; he walked towards the shed and opened the large bolted door to reveal the cavernous internals. Wandering in, he looked through everything with excitement. His mind ran with plans of what might come and what he desired.to do to the old shed.
“Do you think that this shed will be too much of a job for us?” Ryan asked with an antagonizing smile.
“What? No! This is the most perfect place ever, and the mortgage repayments will be less than rent in the city, so this is a massive win.”
Ryan grabbed Nicholas’ chin and directed it upwards.
“I ask because there appears to be a massive hole in that part of the roof, and not only that but that internal gutter looks like stars with all those holes in it.”
Nicholas swatted Ryan away.
“Those are all small fixes; you got to look at what everything can be, not what it is. Sure, there are a few holes here and there, and that part of the floor seems to be slanting like it is sinking into the ground, but this place will be my kingdom once I am done with it.”
“Kingdom?” Ryan Laughed. “This is just one shed, Nic; I think you are getting overly excited.”
“One shed can be a kingdom, but this one won’t have to be.”
Nicholas turned Ryan around to face into the large paddock they stood in.
“We own everything to those trees and along that line to those sets of trees. This means all these small sheds and covers are ours too. We just need to do a little weeding and maybe fix them up a bit, and then, we shall have a kingdom to rule over.”
“I think you are getting a little excited… And so am I. Let us rule as kings together over our pile of, um, trash and falling down buildings?”
Nicholas scratched at his chin as he peered out over his newly purchased land.
“I think that we need a new name, but for now. We shall rule over the kingdom of trash and falling down buildings.”
The two laughed with one another and hugged as they started to make plans in their mind with what to do with what they had bought.
“Okay, so hear me out. This is essentially two sheds put together; just ignore the leaky-looking internal gutter. We have two large sheds turned into one huge shed. We can turn one side into our living space.” Nicholas said as he gestured to one side of the shed, then gesturing to the other side, he continued. “Then we turn this side into the gallery, you can have all your art hanging up, and when people come to see you, you will have an enormous space to have all your work on disp-display.” He stuttered as a drop of water landed on his nose.
Ryan laughed at him and kissed his nose.
“Fix this gutter, and I may take you up on this plan.” He jested as he walked off with keys in one hand and a broom in the other.
“Now, you start sweeping; I am going to get everything else we are going to need to clean this up. I said I could handle a messy living environment for a while, while we get set up. But I will not tolerate dirty!” Bringing two fingers towards his eyes, he pointed them at Nicholas.
He reactively ran to the broom that Ryan was holding, starting to sweep the floor in a panic.
“Yes sir, no sir, three bags full, sir. I will make sure this place is sparkling new before you get back. Just don’t use the hose again, please.”
“Oh shut it, you; I will be back. Better sweep proper, not that useless back and forth nonsense.”
Nicholas smiled and calmed down, starting to sweep the concrete pad properly. By the time Ryan returned, he was pleasantly surprised by the efforts Nicholas had made; looking around the shed, he nodded with approval.
“Well, you have been busy.”
Nicholas looked up from his hunched position under a workbench, smacking his head on the underside before scuttering out with his body covered in dust and mania on his face.
“Okay, look, you need to appreciate me much more than that. I climbed to the top of the walls and brushed down all the dust and odd bits I found up there onto the floor, then swept everything into the massive pile there. “He said as he pointed to a mound of dust and hay.
“How did you get to the top of the walls?” Ryan asked as he marveled at the cleaned walls.
“I climbed the wall. Up all the exposed wood, it is pretty much a ladder.”
“You are a menace; what would you have done if you fell?”
Nicholas looked at the wall and scratched his head.
“Umm, die, I guess?”
The two of them looked at one another and laughed before emptying the car and starting to clean more in-depth. Over the course of the day, they scrubbed and disinfected everything within their main shed. They pulled up the roller door for the small moving truck that held their belongings; they quickly pulled everything out and started to shuffle it around on one half of the shed. They would place, adjust, rotate, relocate, and unload everything in the truck into the darkness of night.
Exhausted, they found themselves slouched onto their couch with a cold drink in hand and a weary smile on their faces as they leaned against one another.
“What is your favorite part of our new place?” Nicholas asked as he looked around their new home.
Ryan thought for a short while before pointing towards their kitchen.
“I think that it is the kitchen; I know it is not much, but it is organized and pretty looking. How about you?”
Nicholas stood up quickly and walked past the tv, clicking a switch. The tank that their tv was on lit up with fairy lights.
“My two favorite parts are the fact our tv is on a fish tank and that you filled it with fairy lights.”
Ryan raised their shoulders and smiled with a renewed vigor.
“Really, do you really like them?”
“They are oh so pretty.”
“Says you.” Ryan added shyly.
Nicholas wandered over to Ryan with a serious look on his face.
“What?” He replied nervously.
“My real favorite part is the big tv and the super cool sound system we bought the other week. But the fish tank is a close second.”
“Oh my gosh, yes, do you want to play some music really loud and tune the speakers?”
“Fuck yes, I do, but Ryan, we have to be quiet for our neighbors.”
The two of them looked down solemnly for a moment before bursting out into laughter.
“God damn, I love living in the country away from people. I’ll miss the city, but I fucking love the country.”
Ryan and Nicholas sat down on their couch and started to blast loud music from their sound system. As Nicholas played with the settings, they fine-tuned it until their ears were ringing. Satisfied, they finally turned everything off and went to bed, cuddling up; they fell asleep together.
As they lay in bed, Nicholas stirred; he rolled gently from side to side, sweat beading on his forehead as he frowned and started to twitch. Soon his breath was cut short, and he stopped being able to breathe; his face started to turn red right as he lurched forward, grasping for air. He took long inhalations as the color slowly returned to him; he wiped the sweat from his face as he slowly regulated his breath. He grabbed at his throat and could feel a pattern pressed into his skin; he slowly stood from his bed, making sure not to wake Ryan. Stumbling to the lounge space, he grabbed the mirror Ryan was using on his art table. Switching on the light on his phone, he examined his throat to see the weave of rope imprinted into his neck. Touching it with just his fingertips, he whispered under his breath.
“What the fuck.”
Suddenly the shed creaked, and Nicholas nearly dropped the small, round mirror. He looked up quickly, but he could not see after staring into the light for so long. His eyes scanned the shed for anything, but his eyes were still adjusting.
“Here.” A voice croaked from the corner of the shed.
Nicholas turned to face them, but all he could see was darkness. He squinted his eyes and walked forward slowly; raising his fists, he prepared for a fight. Out from the darkness, a pair of white eyes and a mouth of broken teeth appeared; they slowly moved forward, revealing the red and black paint on his face and body. He stepped forward, revealing a malnourished form; there was blood on his hands that dripped slowly onto the concrete floor. Nicholas lowered his hands, and his face dropped.
“One of you? I thought I was done with this; the fifteenth is long past; you have no place being here.”
The painted man grinned and walked towards the door of the shed; he beckoned for Nicholas to follow with a sickly curl of his finger. Nicholas turned back to Ryan, who remained in bed, sound asleep. Ryan looked back at the man and glared.
“You have five minutes, then I go back to bed.”
The man pushed open the side door and stepped out into the night; Nicholas waited a moment before following. He pushed the door open and stepped out; pulling the door closed behind him, he looked up to see a crowd of similar individuals, painted and blood covered, bowing on the ground towards Nicholas. Standing at the front of them was a man dressed in black leather and a plague doctor’s mask with glowing blue eyes and a pale man with feathered wings and a vicious stare.
“What are you all doing here? You are not wanted; you aren’t needed.”
The group in front of him remained in a silent stare.
“Fucking ridiculous; you guys are not supposed to be here. Didn’t you hear the prophecy failed? I’m still alive. So, you can all leave and let me live my life.”
Nicholas turned and placed a hand on the door handle but froze when the chilling voice of Anodyne spoke out.
“Prophecy failed, but that does not mean we have stopped.”
Nicholas turned around, his lip twitching with rage as he stared down Anodyne standing at the front of the group. As Anodyne continued, Nicholas started to march towards Anodyne.
“We are not leaving; this world will be ours.” He finished as Nicholas stood stopped just short of his face.
“I don’t give a fuck what you do, come to this planet or not, torment me or not. You do not control my life anymore, I will not become you, I am me, I am not your pawn…”
Nicholas continued to yell at Anodyne as Ryan stood in the doorway and watched Nicholas as he screamed into the night with no one in front of him. He gave a wry smile as Nicholas continued to stand up for himself against his delusions. He turned back inside and went back to bed, where he waited for Nicholas. By the time Nicholas came back, he was wide awake with a sore throat from yelling. Sitting on the edge of the bed, Ryan rolled over to see Nicholas pulling out his writing laptop and typing away furiously.
“Are you okay?” Ryan slurred out through his sleepy state.
“Oh, I am fine.” He said with anger in his voice. “I know you saw me outside, so I don’t feel like I need to explain that, but I know what I want, and I know what I have to do. So I am going to write.”