I’ve made all my friends by being helpful.
I see someone struggling and ask if they’re alright. Anything I can do, I ask. No problem, I say. Take my number, just in case. And they call the next week. I don’t mind at all, I say. If you need something, I’m here. That’s what friends are for.
All my friendships are built on this foundation - rooted in kindness, as my momma taught me. My life is rich with friendships. My phone rings off the hook.
I am grateful to have so many friends. I care about them all so deeply. Let me help you, I say when I see them struggling. Let me carry your burdens for a bit. I am useful, I am helpful, I am worthwhile to keep around.
I am grateful to have so many friends. My friends bring meaning to my life. I don't know who I would be without them! I try to be there for them. I answer the phone at midnight and soothe them. I walk to their house, I hold them, I stroke their hair. No, I’m not tired, I tell them. I’m here for you. I am helpful, I am useful, I am quiet, I am always here for you. I have no hair that needs stroking or a heart that needs mending. My life is good - I have so many friends! Don’t worry about me, really. I have a wonderful life. I have so many friends and a beautiful park right by my house.
In fact, I’m going to the park today - unless you need me, of course! You do? I’ll be right there. Don’t be silly, I’m your friend, I’m always here for you. I love planning parties, it's so much fun! I hope y'all have an amazing time, really. I'll see you when I swing by to drop the cupcakes off! See how helpful I am? How useful?
Yes, I've been doing good! I've been chatting with him about things because he says he really needs someone right now. He's a sweet guy, he wants to feel better so he can be more present for his wife and kids - isn't that just so thoughtful of him? He's so appreciative, too. I'm doing well, don't worry about me. I'm making time in my life for the important things - like you! Speaking of you, you were saying that you've been feeling a bit blue lately? Oh, I see. Well, I'm glad you're comfortable talking to me. I'm a good listener, you know. I'm worth keeping around. Please keep me around.
Yes, I have time, no, it’s no problem. I’m doing well, thank you for asking! I’m good, truly, please don’t worry about me. You have so much going on in your life, please don’t add me to your burdens. I’m useful, I promise, I’m not any work to keep around. I love my friends. I am helpful, I am useful, I am worth keeping around. Sure, yes, of course I can come! No, I'm not busy. I'm helpful, I'm useful. I'm here for you. All I am is here for you.
I am helpful, I am useful, I am here for you. I’m helpful, I really am. I’m worth keeping. Please keep me. Please want me around. I promise I’m good for something. I’m a good listener and I always answer the phone. Please want me. Please like me. Please keep me around. I’m helpful, I promise. Please keep me. Please love me. I'm worth loving, I am, I promise I am.
Hello - yes, of course I can. Oh, it’s no trouble at all, I don’t mind helping out. You know, I’ve made all my friends by being helpful.
I found you
When I was alone and tired
I found you
When I was empty and afraid
I found you
When nothing else mattered
I found you
And the lights shone brighter
I found you
And now I am never alone
I found you
And I prayed for the first time in years
I found you
And I couldn't look away from your smile
I found you
And you found me
Over and Over again
No matter how far I ran
I found you
Beside my car
I found you
In front of my house
I found you
In my room
I found you
And you found me
you rushed it bud
once in a lifetime meeting with someone
the rush of endorphins is
kinda like drugs all day long
an obsession with skin and eye color
god this is purposeful
lovely and sexual
brand new identity
with endless complexity
planning for the future
"figuring it out" and
conveniently always fucking
realizing that's boring
going back to work and
having other things to think about
maybe someone dies and the feelings start changing
and there's not enough maturity to figure it all out
and the fucking starts festering, becoming routine
and the future becomes a steel cage
and like a trapped animal
you need to escape in some way
and you can't face them anymore, you feel guilt for some reason
and they notice "you've changed"
and repeat the same worries over and over again
but you don't want to hurt them
even though you hate them
and you try to hide it
and hurt them anyway
"goodbye then, I guess"
A heavy old book, a dustcloud and a gust of wind. My fingers graze the soft pages
that smelled faintly of vanilla. Ouch. How can such soft pages make such a cut? A drop lands on the empty page and like a water droplet entering the still pond; it rippled. Neat lines of ink come into focus and before i knew it my lips were moving on their own. The passage read "I shall grant you evergrowing power, it will give you the strength to overcome your obstecles, defeat your enemys, win the heart of your lover, topple kings and queens alike! You will be a consistantly growing unstopable force, just like your strength. As you start to age your power will not stop growing, you will be overcome by it and driven to maddness because of it. Rejoice! for i have bestowed upon you the gift of a new life and Repay me for my kindness tenfold with that which i need." Silence. Then, screams as i felt the overwhelming strength start to course through my veins the air leaving my lungs, and my vision was blurred by red but the feeling, wasn't all that bad...
Team Janet vs Team Sic
This story is based on the Reedsy.com prompt "Write a story about an afternoon picnic gone wrong."
"Hello, this is Drake from Channel 8 News. We are on the scene at New Leaf Park, where Ollie Prasko is treating this large crowd to a free catered lunch from Brando's Barbecue. Ollie is set to address the crowd now...."
"Greetings new and old friends, and thank you for being here today." Ollie said thankfully to the crowd on a community stage. "Previously I came to this park and melted everyone's popsicles, and planned to do much worse after that. The hero Jirk from Hugh's hero network set me straight, and helped me to start using the technology I create to benefit others instead of causing harm. Before we feast, I would like to tell you my pl-"
"Oh my goodness, Ollie has collapsed!" Drake reported in a panic while he continued filming. "Oh my, the rest of the crowd is also falling to the ground as well! What is-"
Jirk and Nostrel were watching the newscast of Ollie's event on their phones. After witnessing everyone pass out, including newscaster Drake, a video call patched through for both of them.
"Jirk, Nostrel, I know you both just finished rescuing that class from the monstrous chicken, but another mission has just surfaced."
"We understand Hugh, we saw what happened on the news. You are referring to Ollie's event at New Leaf Park, right?"
"Correct Nostrel." Hugh replied. "I believe Ollie and the other park goers were exposed to a toxin, and this is likely the work of the same person who infected the Pirate and the city he was visiting some time ago (the original arc of New Adventurers: Enter The Pirate & Crew! - https://theprose.com/post/409168/doctor-sic-s-plot-pirating-the-pirate)."
A familiar face appeared on the video call shortly after Hugh spoke.
"Hey everyone, I have a favor to ask. Please let me investigate this one. I worked alongside the Pirate and Rick during that city incident, and I have been seeking the one responsible since then. Please let me take this case Hugh - I'll get to the bottom of it for good."
"Hey there Janet." Jirk smiled. "It's fine with me boss, we can let Janet take the lead and back her up later if you are ok with that."
"Very well Janet." Hugh said with a smile as well. "I will have Jirk and Nostrel support you as you take the lead. If there is anything any of you need as this mission progresses, don't hesitate to let me know."
Janet arrived at New Leaf Park to investigate the scene. She donned the dark helmet provided from Hugh's network, which covered her body with body armor. She checked the bodies of the park goers, including Ollie Prasko's. She was relieved that everyone was breathing, only appearing to be passed out.
"Don't worry, everyone is just fine." A malicious voice said from behind Janet. She turned around and faced a man in a white suit.
"Is this your doing?" Janet asked heatedly. "What have you done to these people?"
"The same thing I did to the Pirate and the people in the city that you and he met in." The man laughed. "Well, not quite the same thing.... the toxin there bred evil in its victims. This one merely generates sleep in its victims."
"I had a feeling that the one behind this incident was also behind the same mess in that city." Janet responded. "Well whoever you are, your attacks on innocent people end here!"
"You can call me Dr. Sic." The man smiled pleasantly, then following up with a malicious laugh. "Rumor has it you've been seeking me for a long time, and not just because of the incident with the Pirate."
"What do you mean, doctor?"
"Some time ago, a young hero known as Eddie Jacques was investigating an incident where the employees of a pamphlet printing office died from a condition that caused their mouths to vanish. Poor Eddie was so distraught from the sight of the deceased victims, that he went home sobbing. He was never able to get his tears under control, causing him to pass away from dehydration. Are you familiar with this incident, Janet?"
Janet stood in shock at this revelation, along with the additional knowledge that this man knew her name, despite never providing it to him.
"Eddie.... was my fiance." Janet uttered, her shock turning to anger. "So the incident that broke his heart, causing his death, was your doing?"
"Indeed." Dr. Sic said with a sadistic smile. "While the incident did indeed upset Mr. Jacques, he did not cry himself to death from the sights I bestowed upon him. While he was on the scene, I exposed him to another toxin I had created. It is one of my favorites to be honest, I call it the Tearful Death toxin!"
As she trembled from rage, Janet made a laser gun appear in her hand by thought, pointing it at Dr. Sic.
"Before you fire that thing at me, there is one more thing you should know about the toxin that dear old Ollie and friends were exposed to."
"And what would that be?"
"I targeted it to only have them pass out - they will come to soon enough. But you my dear, are being exposed in a different way as we speak. You will be falling asleep very shortly, but you won't wake up unless you survive the nightmare within your dreams. And don't expect that helmet of yours to help you, one of our allies gave me insider information on how to get a toxin past the helmet's defenses. Your vision should be fading right about now, am I correct?"
Without a chance to reply, Janet dropped her gun and slumped to the ground, lost in a deep sleep....
When Janet came to, the sky was dark. She questioned how long she had been out. The community stage was dilapidated, the trees were bare, the grass was brown, and the beautiful flowers that once graced the park were all sickly. Ollie and the rest of the party were also nowhere to be seen. She hoped they had all been able to get away safely.
"Welcome to a nightmare world of your own creation." The unwelcoming voice of Dr. Sic echoed throughout the park. "You will remain here unless you survive your greatest fears Janet. Don't count on that happening though!"
Janet continued to explore her new environment, seeking out what she would need to overcome in order to escape. She then noticed several familiar looking figures sitting next to each other on a curb overlooking a parking lot riddled with potholes. Hugh, Jirk, Nostrel, Chris, Kirk, Serenity, Dirk and Doug were all present in their street clothes, black tears pouring down their faces as they cried uncontrollably.
"I've failed to bring peace to this world!" Hugh sobbed.
"We found love with each other, but it was all for nothing!" Kirk and Serenity sobbed together.
"Mirk died and Tam disappeared, and now we are just another pair of cursed brothers on this team!" Doug and Dirk lamented.
"Just when things were looking up, now it is all falling apart!" Chris sobbed.
"I brought you back from darkness, only for all of us to die!" Jirk cried out in anguish to a sobbing Nostrel. "Please forgive me friend!"
"Everyone, please hang in there!" Janet cried out, failing to stay calm. "Please don't give up, I can't bear to lose any of you!"
Janet watched her friends get weaker as they continued to cry, and her own tears joined in as she watched each of her friends succumb to the dehydration effects of the Tearful Death toxin. A small black pond formed by the tears of her now deceased comrades began bubbling before the dark water rose into the air. The water materialized into the form of a man, turning into a smirking silhouette.
"Ah, it is so nice to finally meet you Janet. I've heard so much about your work as one of Hugh's pawns."
"Leftover I presume? So you're the one pulling the strings behind all of this misery!"
"Indeed. It's nothing personal my dear, but you serve a man who doesn't have what it takes to protect anyone. He failed to save me from the man who turned me into this. He wasn't able to keep Mirk alive. He couldn't even keep Tam in his company. But don't worry Janet, once he and all of you are out of the picture, my team will remove the misery and make the world a better place!"
"You're delusional Leftover, the misery you speak of is all your doing! We could have helped you, and we will keep trying to get through to you. If you won't listen to reason, then I will have to send you to the Reflection Dimension!"
Janet made a sword appear in her hand and charged at Leftover. Leftover pulled a sword of his own and braced for Janet's attack.
"Alright little pawn, let's see what you're made of. I will even give you an advantage and not use my own strength enhancing helmet!"
Janet and Leftover clashed swords, navigating through the park as they each attempted to strike a blow on the other. Even with her helmet granting her additional strength, Leftover was parrying her strikes without any issue. She still refused to give up, knowing that stopping Leftover was what they had to do to end not only his agenda against Hugh, but to also protect the world from his twisted vision of being the ultimate hero network.
"You have some skills, but you're in over your head Janet!" Leftover jeered. "The weapons and technology we have access to makes your organization's gear look like children's playthings. Allow me to demonstrate."
A small laser shot out of Leftover's sword and nicked the side of Janet's helmet. The helmet shattered, causing Janet's armor to disappear. She was back in the t-shirt and shorts she was wearing before donning her helmet.
"You no longer have Hugh's technology to make you worth anything Janet! It is better for you to surrender and accept your fate. If you do, I promise to make your death as painless as possible."
"No Leftover, no matter what odds are against me, I won't give up!"
Janet charged at Leftover with her sword fearlessly, attempting to get through once more. Her strikes were impressive, but easily defended by Leftover's blade.
"Perhaps I underestimated you darling, but your efforts are still not enough to stand against me. I will now show you how outmatched you truly are."
Leftover struck Janet's sword once more, causing it to shatter. Despite being completely defenseless, Janet stood her ground and glared at him.
"I won't beg for mercy, do what you must." Janet said with defiance. "But no matter what you do to us, know that unless you change, you will never be true heroes."
"It is unfortunate you won't be alive to see the new world we will create and protect!" Leftover proclaimed as he raised his sword over his head to execute a perfect finishing blow. Before he could follow through, a long skeletal hand came up from behind him and grabbed his wrist. A laser blast then knocked the sword out of Leftover's hand. Leftover and Janet turned in the direction of where the blast came from, and found a figure in Hugh's signature helmet and armor standing beside a young mage.
"Rick! Essie!" Janet cried out happily. "Is it really you two?"
"Yup, we're having a really strange dream right now!" Rick replied, smiling under his helmet. "And we're not the only ones dreaming either!"
A pirate and another mage ran to the scene. The Pirate held two swords, one of them being a lit up laser sword. The mage pointed to the ground, and the shattered pieces of the helmet began circling around Janet's head, reforming into its original state. Janet's armor returned, and her sword also reformed in her hand.
"Pirate.... and Cerissa!" Janet yelled joyfully. "I'm so grateful you're here!"
"We promised we'd be there if you ever needed us, so here we are!" Cerissa said with a smile.
"So this is one of the big bads, huh?" The Pirate said excitedly. "Say the word and we'll follow your lead Janet!"
"Sure!" Janet answered as she smiled ear to ear under her helmet. "Essie, feel free to release your hold on him. Then go ahead and grab your sword Leftover. We'll settle this fair and square, you and me!"
"Alright Janet, I'll let him go now!" Essie replied as she had the skeletal hand release Leftover. The skeletal arm then returned to the ground.
"Fair and square, you must be joking!" Leftover laughed. "If the Pirate and his crew hadn't hijacked your dream, you would be dead already! Still, I do admit you have good friends Janet. So I will give you the win this time. But know this, when I awaken from this dream I will train with the abilities of your friends in mind, and if all of us cross paths in the real world, I will be prepared for anything any of you throw at me!"
Leftover cackled as his body disappeared. Everyone remaining then heard a loud whooshing sound, and everything went dark.
Janet woke up in a panic, quickly scanning the park for Ollie and the others. The park was green and alive, nothing like the realm from her dream. She was back in her t-shirt and shorts again, meaning Dr. Sic apparently stole her helmet. She then noticed her foe clapping his hands, with her dark helmet laying in the grass a couple feet behind him.
"Not many have survived my nightmare toxin, the boss himself struggled with it for a month. Yet you were able to wake up within an hour of being infected. You may be more than just a pawn of Hugh's after all!"
Janet stood up and walked over to Dr. Sic. She punched him in the face, sending him sprawling to the ground on his back. A syringe containing a purple liquid rolled out of his suit jacket's pocket.
"Heh heh, I deserved that." Dr. Sic snickered. "I was never a good fighter.... I had to use my toxins to be strong. Anyhoo, that syringe there is my last remaining dose of Tearful Death. Why don't you go ahead and avenge your fiance by injecting me with it?"
Janet grabbed the syringe and looked at the helpless doctor, laughing bitterly at him. She then dropped the syringe and crushed it with her foot.
"As tempting as it is to watch you cry yourself to death, doing that would make me no different from you and Leftover. No, I will grab my gear and send you to the Reflection Dimension, where you will remain if you don't change your ways."
"Ah, what a smart girl you are. You chose wisely, that was actually a toxin that would have turned me into a mindless, hulking beast. Not only would I have likely torn you to shreds, but I would have probably destroyed countless other lives too. That blood would have been on your hands, hee hee hee hee!"
Janet proceeded to her helmet, thankful that she wouldn't have to listen to him much longer. Before she could reach it, a t-shirt popped out of the ground and flung the helmet into the air. A laser blast then struck the helmet, destroying it. Janet turned around in shock to find Nostrel and an armored Jirk on the scene.
"Sorry Janet, but the doctor booby trapped your helmet!" Nostrel yelled. If you had donned it, you would have been infected with the Tearful Death!"
Jirk tossed a laser gun to Janet and nodded at her.
"Go ahead and end this Janet. Revoke his license and send him to the Reflection Dimension."
"This is for Eddie, the Pirate, and everyone else you ever hurt." Janet said as tears streamed down her face. "I truly do hope you change, but that is for you to decide."
Janet fired the gun, and the still smirking doctor vanished from their realm. She then gave the weapon back to Jirk and nodded.
"Thank you both. Eddie can rest in peace knowing that the monster he tried to stop is gone, and the world won't suffer from the pain he caused ever again."
"I'm so sorry about everything he put you through Janet. Are you ok?" Nostrel asked with concern.
"I'll be ok." Janet smiled, wiping the remaining tears from her eyes. "I need to go see the Pirate and his crew though. I need to confirm something, and warn them too."
maybe you could even call it bright-eyed for the future.
a vision so dense it drowned out all other reality.
never once imagining this narrow sighting was selfishly oblivious,
gullible to all other aspects of life.
a vision so narrowly focused,
along with it’s blind spots.
Slipping into the Dark
You are a new world of knowledge. I can't believe I never made you an option.
You've opened my eyes to a different kind of light. You've made me feel things and see things in technicolor. Lonely times are no longer lonely. I don't need anyone else because I have you. I have you all to myself. No one knows.
But. You're taking something from me. Not the cliche of taking my time and energy, but my innocence.
You didn't tell me that would be the price!
I never made a deal with you. Or at least, I don't think I did, did I?
You're taking, and taking, and now I wish I'd never met you, never sought you out.
I just needed to not be alone anymore, but now, I'm numb.
Mama said, "once you let the beast out, there's no caging it back".
What, then, am I supposed to do?
What have you done to me?!
I prayed to angels
Asked for a better life
So you came like a light
You trusted me your secret
I told you important things too
So I wish you to stay a little more
Jealous and stubborn
Day and night
We fight like daemons
You once went through my past
Messed you million times
Almost broke up two times
We've been blessed with a curse
Are we gonna come to an end?
Or is just me who is cursed?