(Chapter 1 of The Dualists can be found here)
“IVYYYYYYYYYY!” As she started walking home from school, Ivy heard her name shouted at a volume that only one person she knew could achieve. When she turned around, she saw Coco charging at her, at speeds that she did not know Coco could achieve. Too surprised to move, Ivy found herself on the receiving end of a hug so powerful that it knocked her to the ground. “Agh? What was that?” Ivy shouted. “A glomp,” Coco said, picking herself up and offering her hand to Ivy. “Is that some kind of wrestling move?” Ivy asked, as Coco helped pull her up. She was surprisingly strong. “No, it’s a kind of hug. One person runs at another and embraces them. The second person remains standing, and the momentum of the first person causes them to spin around. I suppose I should have known that my hug game would be too strong for an amateur like you.” Ivy almost mentioned that the weight difference between the two was likely a factor, but she bit her tongue. “So is this a thing from your…?” Ivy trailed off, searching for a word she’d forgotten. “Anime? Yes,” Coco said, indignantly, “If you like, I can give you an etching which you can use as a reference for what a successful glomp looks like, but you’ll have to wait a bit.” “I remember seeing you drawing- er, etching– something during the assembly. Is that what you were working on?” Ivy asked. “I was,” Coco confirmed, “But I had to stop partway through. Those speeches were too distracting. I decide to look up just once, and she was almost crying all of a sudden!” “Yeah, I was meaning to ask about that,” Ivy said, “That whole student council election thing was unusual, yeah? Like, as a newcomer, I can’t tell if that’s just the way things go around here.” “Don’t worry, that was definitely an anomaly,” Coco assured, “This school is mostly pretty normal. Present company excepted, of course.”
Coco paused for dramatic effect. “Unless you believe the rumors circulating in the occult underground, that is!” “Well, I can’t really say that I do, so-” Ivy began. Coco continued, despite Ivy’s disinterest. “Word on the street is that a massive gathering of supernatural entities is fast approaching, on this, the night of the Full Moon!” This piqued Ivy’s interest. “What do you mean, ‘supernatural entities’? You mean, like… ghosts?” “That’s exactly what makes it so mysterious. No one knows for sure!” Coco said, dramatically, “Some say they’re spirits. Others believe them to be gods, or demons, or incubi, or succubi, or elves, or gnomes, or… well, anything!” “That’s kind of vague. What are they supposed to be doing at this ‘gathering’?” Ivy asked. “Well, here’s where it gets really weird. Even though no one has any idea what these things are, key members of the community, myself included, strongly believe that they’ll try to possess humans.” “Why?” Ivy asked. “To make mischief, probably!” Coco responded, “Think of all the shenanigans you could pull off with that kind of power! A few believe that they may have humanity’s best interest at heart, but I wouldn’t bet on it.” “I meant to ask why you believe they’re possessing people,” Ivy clarified. “You know, I’m not quite sure. Maybe I’ve already been possessed, and my subconscious is trying to warn me. Or maybe…” Coco’s face twisted into a grin that Ivy found at once nostalgic and terrifying. “I’m possessed right now! HAHAHAHAHAHA!”
Ivy was too polite to admit that she was actually frightened, but Coco didn’t need her to. As her witch-like cackling died down, she apologized. “I’m sorry, I keep forgetting that this is our first time hanging out in years. I’ve only been getting spookier, but you haven’t been leveling up with me, so it makes sense that you’d be scared.” “Then I guess I’ll just have to train extra hard!” Ivy said. “Well, if you think you’re up to the challenge, I have a bone-chilling story about this old mansion I haunted a few centuries- er, I mean, what I meant to say is that I’myourfriendCocoanddefinitelynotaghostpossessingher” Ivy laughed. Same old Coco. “But for real, though,” Coco said, in an uncharacteristically serious tone, “If you don’t believe in the supernatural, it probably means they’re not targeting you. So even if something does happen tonight, I’m sure you’ll be safe.” “Thank you,” Ivy said, in a characteristically sincere tone, “If there’s one thing I don’t need right now, it’s something else to worry about. This goddamn move is stressful enough as it is.” Coco giggled. “Well, look at my little Ivy, all grown up! Finally using some words with some fuckin’ firepower.” “Oh, sorry,” Ivy said, “I guess I picked it up from my old man.” “Why are you saying sorry?” Coco said, “You should be saying you’re welcome! It wasn’t a very high level cuss, but I could feel the heat in it.” Ivy laughed. “You really haven’t changed a bit. Anyway, I should probably get going. Those boxes at home aren’t going to unpack themselves. Anyway, be sure to tell me if anything strange happens to you tonight!” “Will do!” Coco said, “Try not to get possessed by demons while you sleep!” And with that, they went their separate ways.
(Chapter 3 of The Dualists can be found here)