The Dualists Paralogues: Rematch

[WARNING: this contains mild spoilers for The Dualists. I guess don’t read if you care about that sort of thing]


“So, like, that one time I beat you in arm wrestling,” Regina began, “How important was that to your self-esteem?” “I… what.” Clover said, flatly, “What are you trying to ask me.” “Well,” Regina said, “As I recall, winning against me was your first step towards overcoming your inferiority complex towards me, and I was wondering if you ever could have done that, if I’d won instead.” “I don’t know,” Clover said, “How could I know? And you’re acting like I completely moved on from all that.” “Oh… have you not?” Regina asked, “Sorry, my bad. I… probably shouldn’t have brought it up, then.” “Nah, you’re fine,” Clover said, “It’s just… I dunno. Mostly I just feel kind of stupid for ever feeling that way. Especially now that I know that the girl I respected and feared all these years is just… She’s just fully a shitlord.” “Hah,” Regina said, “Guilty as charged.” “But for real,” Clover said, “Why bring it up?” “Oh, no reason,” Regina said. “Bullshit,” Clover said, “No sane person would bring that up for no reason. And I don’t think you would, either.” Regina laughed. “Well, I was just wondering if, hypothetically, of course, you would get Actually Upset if I challenged to a rematch and fucking clowned on you.” “I… Yes? No? I don’t know. I mean, that would never happen, so I don’t know if your question has an answer.” “Well, any conditional statement with a false hypothesis is vacuously true,” Regina said, “So if we assume that I could never beat you, then the answer would be yes.” “Am I going to regret asking what the Hell you’re talking about?” Clover asked. “Well, in mathematical logic-” Regina began. “I’m going to stop you right there,” Clover interrupted, “You already answered my question. The answer is yes.” “Oh, please,” Regina said, “You know you love me because I’m a fuckin’ nerd.” “Sometimes.” Clover said, “Sometimes I love you despite being a fuckin’ nerd. This is one of those times.” Regina laughed. “I, on the other hand,” Regina said, “Always love you because you’re such a fuckin’ jock.” “I am no such thing,” Clover scoffed. “Haha, OK, Miss ‘Regina’s Strong Girlfriend’,” Regina said, sarcastically. “What are you implying?” Clover asked, “You trying to say that I’m NOT your strong girlfriend?” “Not at all,” Regina said, “Honestly, I’m not even sure that’s a ‘jock’ thing to call yourself. I think you may just be a weirdo.” “Well, if honesty is weird, I don’t want to be normal!” Clover said, “I am strong, I am a girl, I am your friend, and I am your girlfriend. The title fits.” “Let’s see,” Regina said, pantomiming writing in the air, “Yeah, the math checks out.”

 

Anyway,” Clover said, “don’t think you can just smooth-talk your way past the fact that you challenged me to arm wrestling.” I did not challenge you to arm wrestling!” Regina protested. “You challenged me to arm wrestling.” Clover insisted. “I challenged you to arm wrestling,” Regina admitted, “Do you accept? You were sounding pretty confident.” “I don’t get it,” Clover said, “What’s your angle?” “I know I can win, and I like winning,” Regina said, “Do I need more reason?” “How?” Clover asked, “I’m still stronger than you. Unless you’ve scienced up some nerd shit that makes you stronger… have you scienced up nerd shit that makes you stronger?” “I have scienced up nothing of the sort,” Regina said, “But arm wrestling isn’t just about strength.” “I… but it is, actually,” Clover said, “That’s… that’s literally the whole thing.” “Thinking like that is the reason you’re about to lose,” Regina said, “I know your weakness, now. You can’t defeat me.” “Alright, fine,” Clover said, “I just want to know what makes you so sure you’re going to win.” “I’ll gladly teach you,” Regina said. They sat down at a nearby table, put their right elbows on its surface, and held each other’s hands. “I’ll even let you count down to start the match,” Regina said. “Should we start when I say 1, or when I say go?” Clover asked. “Surprise me,” Regina said. “I… no,” Clover said, “It doesn’t… you can’t… it will not work that way.” “Then go on go,” Regina said. “Alright,” Clover said, “3, 2, 1, GO!”

 

At Clover’s signal, Regina immediately leaned forward, pushing her face towards Clover’s. But she wasn’t quick enough; her hand hit the table before she could execute her strategy. “What the Hell was that all about?” Clover asked, “It’s been a while since I checked the rules, but I’m pretty sure headbutts are forbidden in arm wrestling.” “It wasn’t a headbutt,” Regina said, “Rematch. Best two out of three.” “Then what… Oh my God,” Clover said, “You were trying to kiss me, weren’t you?” “REMATCH,” Regina said, neither confirming nor denying Clover’s suspicion. “You were going to kiss me and then I’d get all flustered and you’d beat me while I was distracted!” “Do you accept the rematch or not?” Regina asked. “Sure, I guess. I mean, you can’t trick me if I see it coming,” Clover said. “We won’t know that until we try, now will we?” Regina said. “So you admit to attempting gay trickery?” Clover asked. “You’re saying words instead of wrestling arms, even though you just said that you would wrestle arms.” Regina said, “Let’s go!” Clover sighed, and grabbed Regina’s hand. “Alright. 3, 2, 1, go!” Clover decided to go easy on Regina, to give her enough time to enact her ridiculous plan. Regina leaned forward, but stopped just short of Clover’s lips. This caught Clover off-guard, giving Regina enough of an opening to slam her hand onto the table. “Hey,” Clover said, “You tricked me!” “You were the one who said it wouldn’t work,” Regina said. “It didn’t!” Clover said, “You tricked me by making me think you’d trick me, then not tricking me while I was expecting to be tricked!” “Sounds like your problem,” Regina said, “Have you tried wanting to win more than you want to kiss me?” “You know I can’t do that!” Clover said, huffily, “Whatever. Two can play at that game. And we still have one more round.” “Bring it,” Regina said, grabbing Clover’s hand. “Alright,” Clover said, “This is it. 3, 2, 1, go!” Despite the signal, neither began arm wrestling. Instead, they both leaned forward. AND THEN THEY SMOOCHED.

 


Similar stories of Regina and Clover can be found here and here

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The Dualists Paralogues: Role-playing

[WARNING: this contains mild spoilers for The Dualists. I guess don’t read if you care about that sort of thing]


 

“There’s something I need to tell you,” Regina said, her voice quivering, “A dark secret that I’ve hidden from you for so long. But I can’t take it anymore.” “Oh my God, are you OK?” Clover asked, genuinely concerned. “Yes,” Regina said, “It’s just… the truth is… I LARP.” “I… I don’t understand.” Clover said. “I know it’s difficult to process,” Regina said, “But it’s the truth.” “No, I literally don’t understand,” Clover said, “What is LARPing? Is it a weird sex thing? Because it kind of sounds like one.” “No,” Regina said, “At least, not the way I do it. Usually.” Clover looked at her suspiciously. “It’s Live Action Role-Playing. That’s what it stands for.” Regina said. “Listen, I’m going to need you to explain this to me like I’m not a fuckin’ nerd. How does one LARP?” “Basically, I dress up like a knight and pretend to be a knight and fight monsters and stuff,” Regina said, “Like I’m playing a video game, but in real life.” “Wow,” Clover said, “Like, I’m a pretty strong person, but I don’t know if I can promise you that I can stop myself from giving you a noogie right now.” “Do what you must,” Regina said, hanging her head in shame. “I’m only doing this out of love,” Clover said, giving her the noogie she deserved, “It hurts me more than it hurts you.” “Ow!” Regina said, “That actually hurt!” “Well, what did you expect?” Clover asked, “I’m bullying you. Also, you literally told me to. Wait a second… did you just trick me into LARPing a weird sex thing?” “No, the weird sex thing was just a joke!” Regina said, “But I did just trick you into patting my head because you feel bad about hurting me.” “Fiiiiine,” Clover grumbled, giving Regina the headpats she arguably deserved.

 

“You want me to LARP with you, don’t you?” Clover asked. “Haha, what?” Regina said, “Don’t be ridiculous, I know you’d never waste your time with my nerd shit.” “So if I did want to LARP with you, you wouldn’t be cool with it?” Clover asked. “Hold on, I never said that,” Regina said. “So you do want me to LARP with you?” Clover asked. “No,” Regina said, “I’m just saying that, if you wanted to do it, I would be fine with it.” “So you don’t want me to LARP with you?” Clover asked. “Stop it!” Regina said, “Stop trying to trick me with your words!” “Well, if you did want me to LARP with you,” Clover said, “I might be willing to give it a shot. But only if you say ‘I want you, Clover K. Lie, my powerful and handsome girlfriend, to deign to LARP with me.’” “Shut up!” Regina said, flustered, “It’s not fair when you tease me! Only I can do that!” “It’s only teasing if you want me to LARP with you,” Clover said, “Which you said that you don’t. Right?” Regina sighed. “I want you, Clover K. Lie, my powerful and handsome girlfriend, to deign to LARP with me,” she said, “There, are you happy?” “I’m just happy that you’re happy,” Clover said, “This is what you wanted, right?” “Wait a second,” Regina said, “You actually wanted to LARP with me, but you didn’t want to admit it, so you tricked me into asking you to!” “You caught me,” Clover said, “Punching nerds while pretending to punch monsters sounds like a blast. And it’d be nice to fight alongside my beautiful and noble girlfriend with lower stakes, for a change.” “You don’t actually fight anyone,” Regina said, rolling her eyes, “And even when you’re pretend fighting, no one else knows anything about real fighting, so your formal boxing training probably won’t help.” “How would you know?” Clover asked. “Why do you think I got into fencing?” Regina asked. Clover stood in slack-jawed disbelief. “Are you telling me that I lost all those years ago to a girl who learned swordsmanship so she could pretend to fight dragons or whatever?” “Yeah, that’s pretty much the long and short of it,” Regina said, “…sorry.” “Listen,” Clover said, her voice eerily calm, “I am truly sorry for what is about to happen, and I’ll give you all the headpats you want afterwards, but before that I AM GOING TO NOOGIE YOUR PERFECT HAIR RIGHT OFF OF YOUR GODDAMN HEAD!” And she very nearly did. “Ouch, I don’t think headpats are going to be enough to fix that,” Regina said, “I’m pretty sure you’re going to have to kiss m-” She was cut off by Clover doing as she said. “Hey!” Regina said, “Give me a chance to get ready!” “I’m just following orders,” Clover said. “Oh, shut up,” Regina said. AND THEN THEY SMOOCHED AGAIN.


Similar stories of Regina and Clover can be found here and here

The Dualists Paralogues: Playing with Fire

[WARNING: this contains mild spoilers for The Dualists. I guess don’t read if you care about that sort of thing]


 

“Are you ticklish?” Regina asked. Clover scoffed. “If I say yes, you’ll tickle me because you know you can, and if I say no, you’ll tickle me to see if I’m lying, so it doesn’t matter what I- AAAAAHHHHH” She was cut off by Regina attacking her ribs with a devastating ten-finger tickle. Clover, being extremely ticklish, momentarily lost control of her body, and accidentally punched Regina in the face. “Ow! What the Hell was that for?” Regina demanded, her lips growing even redder than Clover’s cheeks. “It was involuntary!” Clover insisted, “I’m sorry you thought it was a good idea to tickle your strong girlfriend!” “I accept your apology,” Regina said, “If… you kiss it to make it better.” Clover’s cheeks started catching up to Regina’s lips. “That… does not sound sanitary,” Clover said, avoiding eye contact. “Oh, please,” Regina said, rolling her eyes, “Like you don’t have a dirty mouth already.” “I have no idea what the fuck you’re talking about,” Clover said. AND THEN THEY SMOOCH.


Similar stories of Regina and Clover can be found here and here

The Dualists: Chapter 2

(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)

The Dualists: Chapter 1

(The Prologue to The Dualists can be found here)

This story begins as so many do: with a transfer student. Namely, one Ivy Klein, who moved to the small town of Hooke Springs because of her father’s work. It was definitely a change of pace from the big city she came from, quite literally what the doctor ordered. Her father had suffered a minor heart attack, if any heart attack can truly be described as minor, which the doctors attributed to job-related stress. Thus, they prescribed him to move “out in the middle of goddamn nowhere,” as he always said. Then, like clockwork, his wife would roll her eyes and point to the swear jar, and he’d add another quarter to its impossibly vast riches. “What those-” he just barely managed to stop himself before he lost any more change. “What those dang doctors don’t seem to get is that moving is a whole-” he stopped himself again. “A whole heck of a lot more stressful than anything I’ve ever done for my job. And don’t even get me started on how much harder it is to conduct business over a conference call, rather than a good old-fashioned face-to-face meeting.” “Trust me, we wouldn’t dream of it”, his daughter would say. “Well, I was just about to go on to say that the worst part is that it puts my lovely wife and daughter under the same stress, but I guess if she’s going to be such a…” he sighed. “If she’s going to be such a smartass about it, maybe she deserves it!” At the very moment he said “smartass”, he flipped a coin in the direction of the swear jar. The very next moment, it hit the floor, several feet from its intended destination. Ivy couldn’t help but smile. “Was it worth it?” “You bet your-” he decided he’d lost enough for today. “You bet it was.” And then they’d all laugh.

 
Ivy was sure she’d miss her old friends from the city, but at least she’d always have her family. She decided to think of this move, not as the loss of her old friends, but as an opportunity to gain new friends, as well as reunite with one friend in particular. Coco, her best friend since elementary school, had moved to this very same town two years prior. No one better embodied the saying “opposites attract” than those two. Ivy was, for the most part, a perfectly normal girl. She had decent grades, performed adequately at sports, occasionally drew for fun, listened to popular music, and loved chocolate. If she had to name one unusual thing about herself, it’d be her status as an introverted extrovert (or an extroverted introvert, depending on how she was feeling that day). She enjoyed making friends and talking to people, but often had trouble striking up conversation with strangers, so she usually only had a few good friends. This, of course, only made her even more normal, but she was not aware of this. Coco, on the other hand, was… abnormal. Her grades were just good enough to get by, to the great frustration of her teachers, who could tell that she was plenty clever enough to excel. She proudly proclaimed that she “only moved when she had to,” so she was not the most physically fit person; she was far from dangerously overweight, but it was noticeable enough to get her teased. She never drew; she insisted that her creations were to be called “etchings”, and were only produced when she entered a trance-like state, or so she claimed. She insisted so ardently that her “art,” which seemed to inspire a precisely honed confusion and unease in all who gazed upon it, was the product of supernatural inspiration (or possession), that Ivy had no choice but to play along. Her tastes in music were similarly extreme, favoring either The Common Practice Era (Baroque, Classical, Romantic), various subgenres of Metal appended with creative adjectives, or something called “Neo-classical Darkwave.” She was an extrovert, but her desire to make friends was far stronger than her ability to do so. She’d always approach strangers, excitedly recounting a cool bug she saw, or a crazy song she just heard, and they’d politely play along until she left, never to speak to her again. Despite having so few friends, (or perhaps because of it) she treasured them dearly, and would go to any length to ensure their safety and happiness. She also loved chocolate, because who doesn’t love chocolate?

 
Ivy could still remember the day that she was approached by that weird girl that she’d heard unpleasant rumors about. “Hey, will you be my friend?” she asked, catching Ivy off guard. “Um, sure! But why me?” Ivy asked. “Well, I want a friend, and no one else in this school seems to want to be my friend. I think it’s because they’re boring,” Coco said, very matter-of-factly. “So you’re saying that I’m the last person in the school that you asked to be my friend? Gee, I’m honored.” Ivy said, sarcastically. She was only joking around, but this was lost on Coco. “Yeah, you’re right. Sorry, I’m just being a bother. As always. You really don’t have to be my friend if you don’t want to.” “I’m so sorry! I was just teasing. I really didn’t mean to hurt you. Of course I’ll be your friend!” Ivy said. Coco was unconvinced. “I can tell you’re just saying that because you feel sorry for me. But really, it’s fine. I’m used to it. You don’t have to feel bad for me.” “I-” Ivy wasn’t sure what to say. She DID feel sorry for the girl before her. But… “Look, since we’re friends and all, I’m not going to lie. I do feel sorry for you. But you know what? I also kind of envy you. I always want to make friends with people, but I’m too scared to say the wrong thing, so I don’t say anything. But you’re brave enough to be yourself, no matter what, and that’s awesome.” After a short silence, Coco spoke. “Soooooo… what you’re saying is that ‘being myself’ is ‘saying the wrong thing?’” “What? No, not at all! I mean, I was just-” Ivy began. “I was just teasing!” Coco said, with a wink. They both laughed. Coco said, “You know, going with the whole ‘not lying’ thing, you were kind of right. You were one of the last people I approached to be my friend, because I thought you looked boring. And I don’t think I’ve ever been more wrong about anything in my life. I’m glad that we’re friends.” “Me too,” Ivy said. “So, how do we make this official?” Coco asked, “Do we just shake hands? Or do we do that thing where we spit on our hands and then shake hands? Or is it on each other’s hands? Or do we do that thing where we cut our hands open and then shake hands? If we do that, we probably shouldn’t also do the spit thing, because infections are-” “I think just shaking hands is fine,” Ivy interrupted. They shook hands, and from that moment on, they were friends.

(Chapter 2 of The Dualists can be found here)

The Dualists: Prologue

If there is one thing that sets Man apart from his fellow creatures on this Earth, it is his recognition of the Abstract. While the animal sees only what is, Man sees what isn’t, what could be, and what cannot be. When a dog sees a tree, it sees only a tower of wood with branches. It may understand that it provides shade during the summer, and it may consider the tree to be its territory, but to the dog, the tree is nothing more than a physical object. A human, however, sees more. A human can grasp the idea of a tree, the concept of a tall, sturdy, unmoving organism, which encompasses so much more than the tree he or she sees presently. The human sees what it is that makes the collection of matter before them a tree, and what makes it different from everything that is not a tree. When the human sees a different object that shares these properties, it recognizes it as a tree, and can use its knowledge of the idea of the tree to understand how this particular tree is similar to, and different from, other trees. This idea can even be applied to the imagination, to create objects that cannot be found in real life, but may be considered trees, nonetheless. One might imagine a living tower of polished obsidian, branching off in geometric patterns, adorned with crimson blades of glass which throw the glimmer of ultraviolet fireflies at impossible angles. It takes its energy from gravitational waves emitted by the binary black holes that its home planet orbits, and slakes its thirst on the blood of any creature unfortunate enough to burrow beneath its roots. Such a terrible obelisk could surely never exist, yet the human knows that it might still be a tree, for the idea of a tree is not bound by the rules of existence.

 
It is the hubris of Mankind to suppose that they are the inventors of the abstract, that these ideas did not exist until a human conceived of them. In truth, these Ideals, as they are formally called, were not created by us. Rather, we were created by them. They exist in the Domain of the abstract, and shape the concrete world in their image. Yet there is a kernel of truth to be found in this belief. Just as the abstract shapes the concrete, the inverse process occurs, and the concrete shapes the abstract. Since the birth of humanity, the equilibrium between these two universes has been relatively stable. Just as differing ideals have sparked wars among humanity in the past, mankind has now fanned the flames of conflict among The Ideals. A great war has broken out, pitting hope versus despair, life versus death, chaos versus order, good versus evil, cats versus dogs, and so on. The futility of this war is plain to see, as it can reach no conclusion; it is, after all, impossible to kill an idea. Yet it is possible to kill everything which stands for an idea, and there are those who believe this is just as good. Since an ideal has little influence over that in the concrete world which is not a target of their domain, they must rely on humans to accomplish this. And so, they select champions, and grant them the power to fight on their behalf, on a battleground which exists somewhere between the real and abstract, mind and matter. Some fight for their beliefs, or the thrill of combat, or for a vain hope that they can put an end to the war. Yet fighting will only beget more fighting; only by bringing about Unity can we end this cataclysmic threat to the existence of our universe as we know it. And there are but four with the capability of bringing about Unity: The Dualists.

(Chapter 1 of The Dualists can be found here)