Fiction on Odyssey: Reawakening

Fiction on Odyssey: Reawakening

Heather awakens with a scream, hands clawing to get them off of her.

Heather Reawakens with a scream, hands clawing to get them off of her.


There’s nothing on her?

She touches a shaking hand to her neck and pulls it away to examine it. There’s no blood glistening on her toffee-colored skin, no torn flesh hanging from her neck, no pain radiating from her body, nothing. How is she not dead?

She shudders as memories of frenzied moans and snarls echo in her head. Hopefully, her distraction had bought her friends enough time to get out of there. Herself, on the other hand… hmm. Maybe someone came back and got her after all? If that’s the case, and she’s been out long enough for her injuries to heal, then just how much time has passed? Where even is she?

She sits up, reflexively reaching for the knife she keeps by her side before remembering that she’s not in her and Sun’s quarters at the base. Actually… she’s not in the infirmary, either. In fact, if she didn’t know any better, she’d say this was her old dorm room.

That’s impossible, though. The entire east side of campus was destroyed in one of the Purging explosions. She remembers because Sun had to drag her away from the building when she tried to run in and save her dorm mate Katie.

And yet… this sure looks like her dorm room. Her purple laptop is over there on the desk where she always kept it, her old posters are up on the ceiling, and behind that dresser may even be the hole that Katie accidentally punched in the wall in an experiment gone wrong.

Heather’s eyes slowly travel the familiar room, a hollow feeling in her chest. This dorm room is the core of the wild ride that was her first few years in college, and she loves every little part of it. If only this were her life again.

Then she notices the girl on Katie’s bed.

Than had been strangely drawn to Heather’s pending Reawakening. She hadn’t understood why, but for the first time in millennia, she decided to listen to her instincts again.

Heather’s Reawakening had been entirely unremarkable. She’d abruptly sat up, screaming in residual fear from her dying moments. Her dark skin glistened in the environment’s soft light as her screams quieted, confusion evident in her actions.

Had this been any other soul, Than would have lost interest and moved on to assist her Reapers in another day of Collecting. As it was, something about Heather was peculiar. Off. Wrong. Her aura is familiar in ways that it shouldn’t be, almost as if…

…no. Her love had been driven away millennia ago, and Than had resigned herself to never lay eyes on her soulmate again.

Heather’s eyes land on where Than sits on one of the Dream World's beds. Than expects the girl’s gaze to slide past where’s she’s sitting, but to her surprise, Heather gasps and locks a gaze.

She can see her.

The weight of Heather’s stare is almost a tangible burden on Than’s chest. Those eyes are so familiar, and overwhelming emotions she thought she had stifled long ago promptly return.

All of a sudden, she understands.

“You shouldn’t be here,” the girl says quietly. Her tone is even, but Heather gets the sense that she’s sad. Lonely. Heather suddenly longs to help her.

“What is your name?” Heather says. She’s not sure why. She should be looking for her friends, getting out of wherever this is, but this girl… Heather has an obligation to her. Somehow.

The girl doesn’t answer.

Heather tries again. “I feel like… have we met before?”

“You’re dead, Heather.”

Huh. Heather guesses she hadn’t survived the attack after all. She hopes her friends are okay. She hates that she had to leave them behind. She had so much to do. They were going to find the cure together, they were going to save the world. It looks like they’ll have to do that without her.

She feels strangely at peace with this fact.

Now that Than has realized it, she can't stop seeing Lux in Heather. The girl has the same curve to her lips that had once graced his features, the same compassionate aura that he had exuded, the same sparkling eyes that outshone all the stars in the heavens.

This was some cruel joke Than decides. Some cosmic deity had first ripped her love away and let her mourn for millennia and then reintroduced him in a different body just as she had healed and moved on. This poor girl had been ripped out of her life before her time was due, and it was all Than's fault.

"I'm so sorry I did this to you," Than says mournfully.

Heather seems confused. "What? Wait, you mean me dying? How could that possibly have been your fault?"

Than frowns. "I–"

"Look, I don't know you, but I'm guessing you're Death or something. I died because I wanted to save my friends. That was my choice, and I dunno what you're thinking, but if you're anything like me then you're guilting yourself into depression about something. So just… stop."



"You– "


Than stares.

"…Oh my gosh, I just back-talked Death. I'm sorry. Please don't kill me."

Than, stunned, watches in silence as the now flustered girl rambles apologies. Then, for the first time in millennia, Than grins.

Perhaps Heather was killed by some obscure deity, or perhaps her death had just had been coincidental timing to Than's Reaping day. Perhaps she was Lux reborn, or perhaps she was simply a girl that bore eerie resemblances to her old love. Regardless… perhaps it's time for Than to attempt to pursue happiness again.

"I'll consider forgiving you," Than interrupts Heather's flow of words, "if you give me a tour of your Dream World."

Heather blinks. "Dream World? You mean this is… wow. That makes sense." She beams at Than and holds out a hand. "Shall we?"

Disclaimer: This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events and incidents are either the products of the author's imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.

Cover Image Credit: Christine

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'Fifty Shades' Isn't A Love Story, It's An Abuse Story

Fifty Shades is not "empowering" or a "beautiful" love story, it is abuse.

In the midst of all the buzz about #metoo, I find it surprising that many of these people who are standing up for women who have been sexually abused and exploited are also going to see "Fifty Shades Freed."

I have not and will never go see or read any of the Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy. Beyond my own standards of what visual content I think is right or wrong to watch, I won't watch it because I do not think I should take part in something that normalizes and romanticises abuse.

I'm not the only one who thinks this. Check out #fiftyshadesisabuse to see what other people are tweeting. The National Center on Sexual Exploitation considers Fifty Shades to be abusive. Cosmopolitan, Fight the New Drug, The Independent UK, and Huffington Post all have also published articles on the abusive nature of Fifty Shades.

Dawn Hawkins, the Executive Director for the National Center on Sexual Exploitation, made this statement about 50 Shades:

"The popularity of Fifty Shades of Grey among women sends a message to men that this is what women really want. Even more dangerous, it also sends the message to women that they can “fix” violent, controlling men by being obedient and loving.

A warning to the women lining up to see this film: There is nothing empowering about whips and chains or humiliation and torture.

Women as a group will not gain power by collaborating with violent men. Women would be serving only as an agent to further their own sexual degradation, handing themselves on a silver platter to exactly the sort of men who want to use and abuse them, and take away their power."

As you can see, the Fifty Shades trilogy is no love story. It makes abuse seem normal and puts women into a submissive, weak, and degraded place. According to Fight the New Drug, Fifty Shades does these things, as compared to healthy relationships:

The Journal of Women's Health says, "Emotional abuse is present in nearly every interaction " in Fifty Shades and that Anastasia reacted like a typical abused woman. These abusive instances include:

1. Stalking

2. Intimidation

3. Isolation

4. Sexual Violence

Not only does Fifty Shades normalize abuse, it correlates to having negative effects on consumers.

In fact, there was a study done that traced the effects of reading Fifty Shades to young women's health. They found that women who had read Fifty Shades were more likely to have a verbally abusive partner, fast/diet, have more than five sexual partners, and binge drink.

Fifty Shades also teaches some pretty bad lessons, such as:

In light of the #metoo movement where women are standing up against sexually abusive and manipulative relationships, rape, and other forms of sexual harassment, "Fifty Shades Freed" should have sold zero tickets at the box office.

But that is not what is happening. People are flocking to the movie. In fact, as of right now, it is the #1 movie in the world.

It's not OK to view abuse through this movie or other forms, and then post about standing up against it through the use of #metoo. Either you are fine with domestic and sexual abuse, or you are not. If you want sexual abuse to stop, stop giving money to people or organizations like the Fifty Shades franchise who normalize it.

Fifty Shades is not "empowering" or a "beautiful" love story. It is abuse.

Cover Image Credit: YouTube

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Help, I Haven't Left The Couch Since The Olympics Started

Like any addiction, the first step is admitting you have a problem.

There were many strange things about my upbringing, but one of the strangest is that I did not grow up watching commercial television. I’ve never seen an episode of "Spongebob." I never watched the Disney Channel or Cartoon Network or Nickelodeon. My TV experience came in the form of episodes of PBS Kids shows, lovingly taped by my grandfather. My first encounter with reality TV came in the form of "The Biggest Loser" when I was 14. My family’s cable TV blackout was total — in all respects except one. Every two years, for two weeks, I glue my ass to the couch and my eyes to the screen to watch impossibly athletic humans perform feats of speed and skill in order to earn disks on ribbons made of precious metals. Yes, I’m talking about the Olympics. The Olympics have ruined me.

The Summer Olympics are fine, for the most part, since they’re in the summer and I’m usually free of responsibility at that time of year. During those two weeks, I cease to leave the house, leaving the couch only to go to the bathroom and to obtain more food. If my Summer Olympics watching habits were a sport, it would be Extreme Couch-Potatoing, with points awarded for the longest time elapsed between shifts in position and the largest drops in resting heart rate. I have a system for the Summer Olympics. The system works. The Winter Olympics, however…

With the 2014 Games, I got lucky, as my typically temperate hometown was snowed in for a decent portion of them. Not compelled to leave the house for school, I entombed myself on the couch and watched them almost straight through. This year I’m not so lucky. I’m hovering on the edge of real adulthood. I have school, and worse than school, I have work. There are myriad responsibilities preventing me from achieving my ultimate goal: to become one with the furniture as I cheer on whichever country seems likely to win a particular event. There’s no such thing as country loyalty for me when it comes to watching the Olympics. Patriotism is nonexistent in my attempt to consume as many sports as possible over two weeks to make up for the rest of the time when I consume no sports at all.

We’re not even a week into the Winter Olympics, and the cracks in my respectable public façade are already beginning to show. My eyes twitch unnervingly. I steer clear of social media, living in fear of spoilers for events that haven’t even happened yet. Instead of asking my coworkers and classmates if they had a good weekend or how their classes are going, I demand “Did you see _____ event at the Olympics last night?” and shake my head and cluck my tongue when they say no. I am a purist. I am obsessed. I make other people nervous.

Like all true and good things, however, the Winter Olympics will come to an end at some point — most likely in two weeks, at which time I will lurk around my apartment in varying stages of withdrawal. In time, the symptoms will fade. But the disease will lurk somewhere in the back of my mind, ready to spring out in summer 2020.

I am a marathon Olympics watcher. I am unstoppable.

Cover Image Credit: BLazarus / Pixabay

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