Winners Don't Do Drugs
rating: +28+x

Johnny's father perused the report card for two minutes that felt like twenty. All he could do now was just sit there in his seat and stare forwards now that he was in the spotlight. His father continued reading paragraph after paragraph of his teachers' notes and complaints.

"It's all just the same stuff, over and over," his father huffed as he flipped the report card over, his voice hushed and monotonous as if he were sighing every word. It was a voice that suited the dreary-looking man well, as well as his clothes. Johnny's father normally wore a rather monochrome outfit: a short sleeved Oxford shirt, black tie, and black slacks.

He scanned over the inverse side of the report card. "Same 'he loves the class but won't do the work,' every single time."

Johnny looked at his dad wide-eyed as if he was a confused pet. The wall behind him in his father's study was lined with a multitude of diplomas, class photos, and vintage, grainy portraits of men in labcoats standing beside their experiments. It did well in adding a stinging irony to the whole ordeal.

His father continued. "'…Jonathan Ward has a great attitude in class but almost religiously fails to turn in homework…' '…I fear Mr. Ward lacks the work ethic to succeed in this rigorous course…' '…Johnny's attention in class is seemingly ad-hoc and gung-ho to topics he takes great interest in, but this is not reflected in his homework or quizzes…'"

"I got a 90 on the history quiz." Johnny cringed internally as his attempt at lightening the mood only drew ire from his father.

"You know, Johnny…" his father began, rolling his eyes as he set down the report card. "You're on track to flunk out if you keep this up. I don't know what else to do."

He then began assessing his son with his judgemental black eyes, briefly scratching the top of his black crew cut before returning his attention to the report card. He pulled out a manilla folder where he stored Johnny’s report cards and slipped the latest inside. Johnny watched as his father carefully adjusted the folder’s orientation until it was as parallel with the edge of the desk.

He then lifted his hands from the folder, careful not to disturb its perfectly straight orientation on his meticulously neat desk. "I can't continue to waste my money on your mistakes anymore. You need a tutor. You're old enough to find one, and the school has plenty."

"How am I supposed to get a tutor?" Johnny whined. "I don't know how to, or where to start, and the ones at school…" He then began backtracking. "Wait, no, I can do this. I can do the work, just trust me…"

Johnny's father rubbed his temples. "You're eighteen. Ask your friends, ask your counselor," His father paused, jabbing a thumb backwards to the diplomas behind him. "Or, ask me. I know a few people. You can also look it up online. Make use of all those hours you spend gaming on that damn computer for once."

This sucks balls, Johnny thought to himself, almost blurting those words out loud as he shrugged his shoulders, defeated. "It's weird, Dad… because I want to do good, but, like, I don't know how to do good. Can't focus, don't like the work…"

"Man up, and have some faith in yourself, Johnny. After all, I have all the faith that you can do so." His father's tone lightened for only a split second as he sighed. "You've made it this far. Don't waste it away. Like I said, I can't pay for your mistakes or hear your excuses anymore, unless it's to get a tutor. So, go get one."

Johnny's father then stopped, noticing his phone had begun vibrating on the table. He reached for it, standing up from his seat.

"Maybe then, you'll learn a thing or two about good study habits." He looked down at his son with the same judging glare, although a smidge of affection was in his tone this time around. "Let me know who you pick by the end of the week, and I'll work something out. Gotta take a call."

Johnny watched his father pass him and exit the study, then waited until he was out of earshot. He pouted, resting an elbow on the table as he propped up his chin against his palm, then gave a loud sigh.

"This sucks balls."


brick
Today at 8:46 PM
brick wants to know where Johnny is
We supposed 2 b raiding 2nite
duble XP
hget on vcoice
astro929923
Today at 8:46 PM
How did you make those rune pics in #brick_archive? @brick
brick
Today at 8:46 PM
brick draw them
astro929923
Today at 8:46 PM
Wow. -_-
Very swag! I have learned much from these three words.
Thank you, brick. Very cool! ^_^
brick
Today at 8:47 PM
brick tell you later
Where is Johnny
@jDIZZLE
@jDIZZLE
@jDIZZLE
@jDIZZLE
@jDIZZLE
@jDIZZLE
@jDIZZLE
@jDIZZLE
@jDIZZLE
New Messages
jDIZZLE
Today at 8:47 PM
omfg i'm right here you shitbag
what
astro929923
Today at 8:47 PM
How was it? O_o
jDIZZLE
Today at 8:47 PM
awful
got absolutely owned by my dad
he thinks i should get a tutor
brick
Today at 8:47 PM
brick thinks johnny should get on
jDIZZLE
Today at 8:47 PM
in a sec @brick
im just kinda pissed off abt this
astro929923
Today at 8:47 PM
It's okay. Your dad may have glow-in-the-dark vibes, but at least he cares for you.
Unlike mine. 🙄
Also, a tutor…
You know ones at school are trash or weirdos, right? O_o
Remember Ms. Carter? She turned out to be fucking that Logan guy…
brick
Today at 8:47 PM
Epic School Moment
jDIZZLE
Today at 8:47 PM
ye but here's the thing
he just expects me to magically turn my life around
but i cant do that
and it fucking sucks dude
im not as good as he was
i never will be
my grades are absolutely fubar
i might as well just embrace it and see if i can enlist in the army or something
because idk if i can do this
sorry for the vent
astro929923
Today at 8:48 PM
Aww. ;(
There's still time left, Johnny. You're fine. hug.svg
Don't you worry. I believe in you. ^3^
brick
Today at 8:49 PM
eyebrow.svg
brick may be able to help
jDIZZLE
Today at 8:49 PM
how? @brick
brick
Today at 8:49 PM
You must promise brick to get on the game for raid after brick tells you
jDIZZLE
Today at 8:49 PM
ok @brick
astro929923
Today at 8:50 PM
Ok. What is it, brick?
brick
Today at 8:50 PM
brick knows someone
Or rather friend of brick know someone on other server
That is how brick rune drawing learn from
brick also know good site for solution
Can give u link in ZIP, u need onion tor stuff usual
astro929923
Today at 8:50 PM
Oh no, I'm not trusting anything deep web related. Miss me with that.
jDIZZLE
Today at 8:51 PM
i just need something
like homework solutions and answer keys and stuff like that
work smart not hard, as my dad says
brick
Today at 8:51 PM
brick assures u u're going to work smart and not hard
jDIZZLE
Today at 8:51 PM
give me the loot
brick
Today at 8:52 PM
jDIZZLE
Today at 8:52 PM
what is this
astro929923
Today at 8:53 PM
…Aren't these illegal?
brick
Today at 8:54 PM
No @astro929923
Here is list of link brick give you @jDIZZLE
ther ealso discord ID of person brick's Friend recommended
You can ask any question and they give any answer, trust brick
that is all I can provide
We gamer now?
jDIZZLE
Today at 8:55 PM
i suppose
astro929923
Today at 8:55 PM
Yeah…
brick
Today at 8:56 PM
catdanse.jpg
Its gamer time @everyone
get in voice

clethosdms.png

Johnny's chin was propped against his knuckles, his elbows on the table. His eyes were glued to the monitor as he stared at the mysterious user’s profile picture.

Brick’s zip file was full of broken and incredibly suspicious links, but finally Johnny found himself at the user’s profile. This was his last shot, and he couldn’t afford not to take it.

Be it math questions, history questions, life advice, or even financial advice, Clethos apparently could answer it all. However, Johnny didn’t feel comfortable trusting someone so enigmatic so soon, let alone someone from the darker circles of the internet.

It was worth a shot though. After all, any help was better than no help at all.

After pondering his next move for a moment, Johnny placed his hands on his keyboard, then began to type.

jDIZZLE
Today at 11:29 PM
hey so uh, i was referred to you by a friend of mine named brick, i was told you could help me out as like a tutor of sorts?
i mostly need help with math
and history
and physics
idk
can you help me? please?

A “CLETHOS is typing…” blinked beneath the input box as Johnny waited. Sixty dreadful seconds had passed, and knowing how apparently tech-savvy this Clethos person was, they were probably typing up something very long.

CLETHOS
Today at 11:30 PM
I only take serious inquiries
Sorry.

He was wrong. Shut down not by an essay, but only six words.

jDIZZLE
Today at 11:30 PM
ok
srry to bother you then

Johnny sighed out of frustration and started pacing around his room. His mind raced with numerous alternative scenarios for what to do. He dug his fingers deep into his black hair. He came up with nothing: he had no other options.

What the fuck do I do now? He huffed loudly, thrusting his hands to his sides in anger. All that deep-diving and web crawling, searching for answers and solutions, clicking on suspicious links and chatting with unsavory people… was it all for nothing? Was he really going to just flunk out all because of this?

New Messages
CLETHOS
Today at 11:32 PM
Actually, I might be able to help you.

Johnny rushed back to his computer after hearing a ping, plopping down in his seat as he focused in on the “CLETHOS is typing…” at the bottom of the screen.

jDIZZLE
Today at 11:32 PM
oh shit, really?
thats epic! how so?
CLETHOS
Today at 11:33 PM
Aite, so.
I'm not like a tutor of sorts
I'm more like an instructor.
jDIZZLE
Today at 11:33 PM
how does that work?
CLETHOS
Today at 11:33 PM
I can teach you true knowledge, rather than slop you'd hear during classroom lectures.
I can show you how things truly are and how they work, stuff way more useful than equations and shit like that.
But it's also stuff that your teacher wouldn't know.
You need your life on track? Why not learn how to get it on track.
jDIZZLE
Today at 11:33 PM
oh
uh
ok
wdym tho
CLETHOS
Today at 11:33 PM
Why not learn what makes the world tick, @jDIZZLE?
Why not learn how a mathematician thinks rather than memorizing functions and equations.
For instance, forget about all the boring technobabble behind the Pythagorean Theorem. Would you like to know what was going through Pythagoras's mind when he made his theory?
How did the Transcendentalist Ralph Waldo Emerson come up with his Self-Reliance essay?
What in his environment made him write it?
Would you like to know why a philosopher thinks rather than how?
And why's the number Five so important?
As you'll hopefully see, there's more to the world than meets the eye.
jDIZZLE
Today at 11:33 PM
uhhhhh
cool
what about the number Five??
CLETHOS
Today at 11:34 PM
I can teach you all of this.
For a price, of course.
Does this make sense?
jDIZZLE
Today at 11:35 PM
umm
i guess???
CLETHOS
Today at 11:35 PM
Be honest. I can tell if you're lying.
jDIZZLE
Today at 11:35 PM
idk man
ive got no idea what the fuck u mean by half of this shit
CLETHOS
Today at 11:36 PM
Okay.
cognitdog.png
Try this one out.
jDIZZLE
Today at 11:37 PM
whats this
CLETHOS
Today at 11:37 PM
A picture, dummy.
What do you see in it?
jDIZZLE
Today at 11:37 PM
wtf
its just a dog sitting over a bowl looking at me
whats so philosophical about it
CLETHOS
Today at 11:38 PM
Look at the bowl.
What's in it.
Do you feel hungry yet?
✌️
jDIZZLE
Today at 11:38 PM
wait
what the FUCK
CLETHOS
Today at 11:38 PM
Classic. :>
jDIZZLE
Today at 11:38 PM
HOW THE FUCKKKKKK
CLETHOS
Today at 11:38 PM
That's called a cognitohazard, it's a very simple one I've made. It's quite harmless.
Whenever you sense a cognitohazard with one of your five senses, it triggers it.
This one just makes you think you're hungry a little.
jDIZZLE
Today at 11:39 PM
how the FUCK did you do that
wtf is going on bro
CLETHOS
Today at 11:39 PM
;>
First we can talk payment, of course. Then I can teach you all about these.
If it's tutoring you want, I guess I can do that too.
You're pretty naive so teaching ya what I just showed you won't be hard. It'll also come complimentary.
You seem like the kind of kid who needs his life together, so hopefully what I teach you will help you fix things up.
Make sense?
jDIZZLE
Today at 11:41 PM
yeah
CLETHOS
Today at 11:41 PM
Great.
I'll need an address or safe place to drop some things off for you to help you understand it.
Study materials, if you will.
Got bitcoin? Crypto? Anything like that?
jDIZZLE
Today at 11:42 PM
uh
nothing like that
i have a Paypal if that works
moc.liamg|2101wj#moc.liamg|2101wj
and i got my address too
CLETHOS
Today at 11:43 PM
…I was honestly expecting better OPSEC from you, but I guess this'll work.
Invoice sent.
Can you pay the invoice now?
jDIZZLE
Today at 11:43 PM
yeah i can def do this
paid you btw
dads paying for it so
CLETHOS
Today at 11:43 PM
Sorry if it's a bit expensive, but you're learning things no one else would be learning.
Check your mailbox in a few minutes for an envelope. Your physical one.
jDIZZLE
Today at 11:43 PM
afk
CLETHOS
Today at 11:43 PM
I'll be here.
jDIZZLE
Today at 11:51 PM
wait holy SHIT howd u do that
i got the envelope, havent opened it
how tf did it get here so quickly
CLETHOS
Today at 11:52 PM
Magic. Quite literally so. :>
Aite. Do you have any questions?
jDIZZLE
Today at 11:52 PM
no
also wtf is in this envelope
what are these
pills?
CLETHOS
Today at 11:52 PM
Knowledge. I call it the Forbidden Fruit. I made them myself.
Don't worry, you won't die if you take one. Trust me, you can ask your buddy, brick, too.
Take one before the lesson, and we'll get started. First things first, your math work, what do you need help on?

Johnny quickly moved over to the Friends tab and opened up a DM with Brick.

jDIZZLE
Today at 11:52 PM
brick
are these pills this clethos dude gave me drugs or something
will i die
New Messages
brick
Today at 11:52 PM
Look this fool
brick still alive
They are harmless, trust brick
jDIZZLE
Today at 11:52 PM
ok
if i die its on you

Johnny picked one of the pills up. It was red and smooth, and were it not for the strange chalky smell it gave off he would've otherwise mistaken it for a jelly bean.

A red pill, huh. Johnny chuckled at the symbolism here, unceremoniously placing the pill in his mouth and swallowing it with a swig from his water bottle.

After about a minute, he leaned back in his chair and let out a sigh, feeling a sort of "clearness" entering his mind. He was alive, thank God, but the pill definitely had done something to him. Was it lightheadedness or something else?

He felt much more receptive to the world around him, but also felt much more aware of his environment, as if hyper-alert.

Okay… I can do this.

jDIZZLE
Today at 11:53 PM
took one
im alive
oh shit everything's like floaty now
but I feel kinda good
ready to learn
oh, also, math
uhh, functions and stuff
CLETHOS
Today at 11:54 PM
Then lemme send you a funny math meme. ;>

Johnny nonchalantly approached his father's workstation, arms folded behind his back. His father's typing on the keyboard sounded like machine gun fire as he worked, his attention fixated on whatever was on the computer.

"Hey, Dad?"

Johnny's father stopped typing and lifted his head up from his computer, his face artificially brightened by the whitespace on the screen. "Yes?"

"I, uh," He paused, trying to come up with an alibi in those few miliseconds. "Well, a couple days ago, I found a tutor through my friends. Online guy."

"Oh, really? Is that true?" Johnny's father cracked a small smile.

"Yep," Johnny fibbed, "I'm paying him through Paypal, weekly, and I'll send you the details. He specializes with math, but also is helping me with English and History, too." He folded his arm, smirking. "How's that for putting my gaming skills to the test?"

"That's great." Johnny's father said calmly, typing something out with both of his index fingers. "Hopefully we'll see some improvement all across the board. Have a good night."

Johnny smiled and executed an about face, stepping out of his father's study. "You too, Dad."


brick
Today at 7:30 PM
brick says no raid 2nite
The Big Test tomorrow
astro929923
Today at 7:30 PM
Agreed. I've gotta do good on this one, too. @brick
Anyways, what's this rune you've drawn today, brick?
brick
Today at 7:30 PM
brick rune
jDIZZLE
Today at 7:30 PM
that looks like one of those thaumaturgic ones @brick
idk what exactly it does
brick
Today at 7:31 PM
brick made rune to create more brick
astro929923
Today at 7:31 PM
Sounds like both of you guys have been productive. @brick ^.^
Also, Johnny, you've definitely been sounding like it. You've been a lot more positive these last couple of weeks. uwu
That Clethos fella helping you out any?
jDIZZLE
Today at 7:32 PM
plenty
astro u got no idea bro
all this makes so much more sense now
it's like i'm actually thinking like a mathematician now and its helping
and i can actually understand what those grimy old farts are talking about in the english books n shit
instead of, you know, just taking notes and memorizing shit
brick
Today at 7:32 PM
Make a brick math problem @jDIZZLE
jDIZZLE
Today at 7:32 PM
its crazy dude
like i understand exactly what they mean now
and how the world works too
im pretty sure i can get my life on track quickly if i keep this up
shit has been so fucking PogSex lately
astro929923
Today at 7:32 PM
That's great, Johnny!!
jDIZZLE
Today at 7:32 PM
ye
also sorry to vent again guys
but lifes still kinda been shitty for me lately
for my dad at least
remember what i was saying last week?
brick
Today at 7:32 PM
brick remember
Trouble at the Johnny Dad job right?
jDIZZLE
Today at 7:32 PM
yeah
dad called me yesterday and gave me the quick rundown
hella cutbacks
apparently those cucks at his job are docking his pay hard and letting some people go
he can't keep paying for this tutor stuff, so i had to tell clethos id be late on some payments
i think he took it fine tho, but i think i got it from here anyways
so i might need to stop paying clethos altogether and go on with my life
astro929923
Today at 7:32 PM
Oh.. jeez. I'm sorry to hear that about your dad's job…
I'm still glad you've been doing better though, Johnny! \OwO/
Sounds like you've got everything under control now.
jDIZZLE
Today at 7:32 PM
for the most part
it sucks but it is what it is
astro929923
Today at 7:33 PM
Maybe you could teach me a few things too? :o I'm still reluctant on learning these kinds of things tho.
Fear of the unknown and all…
From what brick describes it…it's like all sorts of mucho texto, but it all comes together in the end.
Some traumatizing stuff here and there…
brick
Today at 7:33 PM
It is not that bad
Also brick think Johnny sus
jDIZZLE
Today at 7:33 PM
how am i sus @brick
brick
Today at 7:33 PM
brick know u're been spending more time with Clethos
Mayhaps you like em
jDIZZLE
Today at 7:33 PM
that's cap @brick
brick
Today at 7:34 PM
Explain da love rune in #johnnys_stuff then
checks mate, liberal
jDIZZLE
Today at 7:34 PM
stfu
astro929923
Today at 7:34 PM
…Love…rune? OwO
Quick, Johnny, use it on me!! :3
jDIZZLE
Today at 7:34 PM
no
brick
Today at 7:35 PM
Yes @jDIZZLE
brick says do it @jDIZZLE
Make love rune for astro @jDIZZLE
Don't be shy, make a love rune @jDIZZLE
Come on dont be shy @jDIZZLE
astro929923
Today at 7:35 PM
Johnny…~
@jDIZZLE
New Messages
jDIZZLE
Today at 7:35 PM
omfg
can you guys FUCK OFF
i keep getting pinged by you jagaloons
im with Clethos rn
we're fucking
going over physics stuff
Failed to send message. Right click to retry.
astro929923
Today at 7:36 PM
Called it.
X3
jDIZZLE
Today at 7:37 PM
going over physics stuff
OMFG NOOOOOO
FUUUUUCK
brick
Today at 7:37 PM
outofcontext.png
Get fucked
anotha 1 for the #cursed_messages channel
jDIZZLE
Today at 7:38 PM
FUCK OFF
astro929923
Today at 7:38 PM
Too late. ;3
Don't worry, I don't hate you for this.
jDIZZLE
Today at 7:38 PM
ugh
lemme just go back to doing my work
I'll see you tomorrow after physics @brick

jDIZZLE
Today at 12:10 AM
okay i think i get this V=IR stuff
epic
CLETHOS
Today at 12:10 AM
Perfect.
You'll find physics gets quite easy when you start disregarding it. ✌️
jDIZZLE
Today at 12:11 AM
also, can i just say
this just
kind of feels weird yknow?
CLETHOS
Today at 12:12 AM
How so?
jDIZZLE
Today at 12:12 AM
like
i feel like im learning stuff i shouldn't be learning
three weeks ago i never knew what a cognitohazard was
let alone an anomaly
now i know so much anomalous shit and its all pretty normal to me now
just feel like i shouldn't be learning all this soon
or at all for that matter
its weird
New Messages
CLETHOS
Today at 12:12 AM
And that's perfectly fine! :>
It's normal to feel weird about the unknown. Though, I'd say you have barely scratched the surface, my friend.
It is in your human nature to question the environment around you if the information you are learning about is something your gut says you shouldn't be learning.
It is in your nature to question the unnatural, to try and ascertain reason from the impossible.
But I implore you to have an open mind.
jDIZZLE
Today at 12:13 AM
yeh
CLETHOS
Today at 12:13 AM
If something is out of the norm, do you run away in fear and hide, or do you face it head on and dissect its secrets and intricacies?
Having an open mind and confronting things that most people are simply too afraid to learn or too ignorant to learn is the first step to success.
You've done a stellar job so far, so for that I applaud you.
Do you have any questions before we move on?
jDIZZLE
Today at 12:15 AM
actually, i wanted to tell you something kinda important
CLETHOS
Today at 12:15 AM
What's up?
jDIZZLE
Today at 12:16 AM
dont think i can keep doing these sessions
CLETHOS
Today at 12:15 AM
Hmm? How so?
jDIZZLE
Today at 12:17 AM
i think ive got it from here, dude
ive pretty much pulled a 180 on my grades and got my life together and im on track to get everything fixed up
and you helped me learn a lot of cool stuff and for that i thank u
rn im fine basically
my dad is just going thru really some tough times at work and i dont think he can keep paying for this
i dont have pocket money to spare either cause i gotta help him too
its all hands on deck at my house
CLETHOS
Today at 12:17 AM

I see.
jDIZZLE
Today at 12:18 AM
im sorry i couldn't get those last two payments in
its been shitty for my dad for a long time
but once things lighten up for him hes promised me hes gonna pay me back for those weeks
CLETHOS
Today at 12:20 AM
We made a deal, though…
And I thought I could be so lenient with you.
jDIZZLE
Today at 12:20 AM
?
CLETHOS
Today at 12:21 AM
A deal. A payment plan. A contract.
And you can't just BREAK things like these, Johnny.
jDIZZLE
Today at 12:21 AM
contract?
like i said dude im sorry but i have to help my dad out for a bit
CLETHOS
Today at 12:21 AM
Ugh.
I feel sick. Used.
And you.
You're disgusting.
jDIZZLE
Today at 12:21 AM
?????
dude fuck
im so sorry
CLETHOS
Today at 12:21 AM
Absolutely disgusted
jDIZZLE
Today at 12:22 AM
please clethos
i swear ill pay you back
CLETHOS
Today at 12:22 AM
jDIZZLE
Today at 12:23 AM
dude im not looking at that memetic agent
you taught me about innoculation
CLETHOS
Today at 12:23 AM
See, that's exactly what I mean.
Now you think you're hot shit or something now that you know about the anomalous.
You little rat shit.
I don't like it when my friends break contracts like these.
jDIZZLE
Today at 12:24 AM
look clethos i promise ill get the money to u some way
just give me some time please dude
you dont need to teach me anything more im fine dude
CLETHOS
Today at 12:24 AM
It's not that simple.
You think this shit is something you can just pull up on fucking Google.
It's not.
These are thousands of years worth of knowledge and practice, Johnny.
And you're treating it like little more than a goddamn Wikipedia article.
Dude.
jDIZZLE
Today at 12:25 AM
dude its not like that on god
CLETHOS
Today at 12:26 AM
Fucking ridiculous.
You're just like brick, you know that, right?
jDIZZLE
Today at 12:26 AM
?
i thought brick only knew u indirectly?
CLETHOS
Today at 12:26 AM
No. They were one of my students.
I never told you, though
They were kind of like you, too.
Hungry for knowledge, open-minded, and a good learner…
But then they did what you did.
They betrayed me.
They left me starved out of my house and home after I taught them for nearly half a year.
Stopped paying. Same excuse as you. Said they couldn't afford it anymore.
Thought they could just get up and leave me without paying their dues for what I taught them.
Thought they could do it on their own or teach other people my knowledge.
Thought they could make it in the world by cheating me out of my knowledge.
But the truth is, none of you fucking vermin can.
You're nothing in this world without me and my knowledge.
You're just a lost little dog in a world full of big, bad wolves.
jDIZZLE
Today at 12:27 AM
bro please just stop fucking chimping out i'll get it to you asap
CLETHOS
Today at 12:27 AM
But there's one thing that sets brick apart from you.
Do you know what it is, Johnny?
jDIZZLE
Today at 12:27 AM
huh
CLETHOS
Today at 12:28 AM
brick actually had a modicum of intelligence.
I'm going to collect the funds in-person now.

Johnny squinted at those words for a moment, trying to draw some meaning from Clethos's cryptic threat. How was someone like brick smarter than him? Someone who, lest he forget, could barely form a coherent sentence and spoke in broken English?

Then, he paused, setting his eyes on the last remark.

In-person…?

The realization of what Clethos had meant by this then hit Johnny like a thrown brick as he froze up in his seat, sitting upright and rigid. He felt a lump in his throat as his heart skipped a beat.

Oh my fucking God. I gave him my home address.

I'm so fucked.

He heard a loud crash at the front door and immediately rose from his computer. Johnny crept out into the main atrium, looking for a hiding space or viable weapon. He paused as his gaze passed over the front door…

…which was missing.

In its place was a large, vaguely humanoid-shaped black mass in the doorway, standing slightly hunched over and casting a long shadow into the house from the light of the street lamps behind it. The man-shaped void emanated an unnatural, cosmic darkness as it stood there motionless, almost as if Johnny was viewing a chunk of the world that was missing from reality.

There were no defining features on its face except an unnaturally large open maw, filled with rows of white, razor sharp teeth… albeit vestigial, given the sheer volume of teeth. A clear liquid dripped from its mouth and fell to the wood floor, giving off a repetitive wet pitter-patter noise.

"Jooohhhnny…" it whispered, its voice slurred and slow as if it were artificially modified. It slowly turned its head towards him, its open maw reshaping into a crude smile. It then raised a fist, two clawed fingers extending out in a peace sign.

Johnny could barely speak at all. His mind stopped thinking about his run, hide, or fight plan as he instead started losing his shit. His legs slightly buckled as tears formed in his eyes, which were still having difficulty adjusting to the paranatural darkness before him. He just stared at the thing in the doorway, frozen in awe and fright.

The silhouette entered as smoothly as a panther, its steps giving off a light thumping noise as if it were walking barefoot on the floor.

"…I shall get my fair share…"

The room seemed to warp and contort around Johnny as if it were being stretched like silly putty as the entity extended a hand out towards him.

"….one way or another!"

Its movements were surreal, as if they were from an animation in 60 frames per second. In only a few bounds, the entity had made it halfway across the living room and into Johnny's face, pushing him towards the kitchen with a single shove as it bounded over the sofa.

Johnny fell to the floor, but before he could move, the entity had pounced on him, pinning him to the floor as it opened its maw. More of the slimy, clear liquid dripped down onto his face as he bore the brunt of an otherworldly howl that seemed to vibrate him and the room around him.

Johnny's ears continued ringing as the monster grabbed him by the neck, beginning to squeeze tight as its breaths became more and more laborous. He flopped his arms onto the entity's wrist in an attempt to get it off his neck, but to no avail. His hands began to slip across its oily skin, his fingertips feeling a tingling sensation similar to the effect of his arms falling asleep as he began losing control over his limbs.

"Clethos…" Johnny croaked weakly. The creature only continued huffing as it placed two hands around his neck, tightening its grip.

"…squeeze his head off… squeeze his head off… squeeze his head off… squeeze his head off… squeeze his head off"

Johnny began seeing stars as the world began to darken around him…

***

CLICK-CLACK

Clethos immediately loosened its grip on Johnny's neck. Johnny took a long and loud gasp as he broke into a violent coughing fit, painfully turning his head towards whatever the entity looming above him was looking at. He saw black dress shoes and black slacks… along with the shape of something long and dark held in the arms of his father.

That sound he heard was instantly recognizable as the sound of a shotgun racking, the universal
sound to kiss your ass goodbye.

BANG

Thick, tar-like ectoplasm spattered against Johnny's face and the nearby furniture as Clethos staggered backwards, slowly looking down at the dinner plate-sized hole in its chest. It hissed with fury and assumed a combat stance as it lunged at Johnny's father, but not before he racked the tactical shotgun again and put another blast into the entity's head at point blank.

BANG

Johnny cringed as he saw Clethos's body fly across the room, ragdolling and and dropping to the floor atop their coffee table, snapping it in two. It raised what Johnny now assumed to be its head, which it was missing half of along with a sizable portion of its jaw, as it turned towards his father.

CLICK-CLACK

BANG

Johnny's father wasted no time in shooting the monster again. More oily chunks were blasted from Clethos's head as it was almost completely reduced to pulpy ribbons, its teeth littering the floor like confetti from a party. It weakly raised an arm towards Johnny's father as it hissed and groaned like an injured animal.

Johnny saw his father simply kick the arm away, bending it at an impossible angle to the side and placing his right foot on the arm, while he planted his left foot on Clethos's chest.

CLICK-CLACK

BANG

Clethos finally went limp as Johnny's father stepped off the monster, racking his shotgun for one last time. Johnny really had no words about the whole ordeal as he watched his father calmly place the shotgun against the couch, reaching into his pocket for his phone and dialing a number. He then placed the phone to his ear.

"Hello? …yeah. It's Dr. Ward. …yeah, I had a bit of a situation at home. … Yes, it's been resolved." His father began to pace back and forth. "Just need cleanup and some Class A here," He paused, turning to his son as he glanced at him. "For one."

"..Dad..? What's going on..?"

His father hung up the phone and put it in his pocket. "Johnny… holy shit. I thought I told you to work smart, not hard…"

Johnny sat up on his butt. "B-but I did—"

"No. You worked dumb." His father said sternly as he emphasized his frustration with a knifehand. He sighed, briefly glancing over the corpse of the entity he had just killed. Steam rose from the body as the onyx skin melted away, leaving behind a blackened husk of a skeleton with large, misshapen extremities.

"How the hell do I explain this to them.. to you.." Johnny's father sighed loudly as he began talking to himself, pacing back and forth.

An idea for a response formed in Johnny's head as he finally stood up with great effort. "Dad… is that an, uh, infohazard?"

Johnny's father stopped, turning to his son with an incredibly confused look, his nose wrinkling as he narrowed his eyes in confusion. "No, that's not an info— how the hell do you know what those are? Oh, jeez…"

"He taught me." Johnny gestured to the corpse. "And he gave me some pills that helped."

He saw his father roll his eyes and shoulders as he gave a loud, extended sigh. "Pills? From online?!" He shook his head. "Like I said, Johnny… you should've just hired a damn tutor. Not a goddamn anomalous fiend from online."

The sound of a car approaching and parking in their driveway caused Johnny's father to lose focus and turn to the window. "Sounds like my coworkers are here. Wait here. Everything will be normal soon."

"Wait, what do you mean—" Johnny's voice trailed off as his father completely ignored his pleas, exiting the house. He peered over at the smoking body of Clethos for a split second, grimacing at the gruesome sight one last time, before crawling to the window.

Outside, his ectoplasm-spattered father was standing beside a white van bickering with a bespectacled man in a pristine white labcoat, with two men in blue jumpsuits and respirators close by inspecting a trail of darkness leading up to their front porch. The men in jumpsuits were also spraying some hazy aerosol around the place from strange machines they wore like backpacks.

The area was already being cordoned off by yellow caution tape by two more men in blue jumpsuits and respirators, but, otherwise, the world moved on as if nothing was going on.

What.. the.. fuck?

His mind was going in circles as his vision went fuzzy again. As the haze approached the house, he felt memories swap and shift around in his head. The raid sessions with Brick and Astro, the lectures with Clethos, and the clarity he felt when taking the Forbidden Fruit pills… all were forgotten in seconds much like the details to a dream that he'd just had the night before.

Johnny struggled to stay focused as he assessed the situation in the driveway and front yard, trying to make sense of the bizarre scene before him.

Then, he saw it.

His focus was now on the nondescript white van his father and the man in the labcoat were conversing beside. Rather, he'd thought it was nondescript.

In reality, the two men were standing beside a large black insignia on the side of the van: one inner circle was surrounded a larger, outer circle. A broom, mop, and vacuum cleaner were positioned around the inner circle, the head of each cleaning tool pointed inwards…

…and right before his vision went blurry again, he saw the name on the van: Sasha's Cleaning Products.

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