2021 JenEric Movie Reviews

Hello Movie Lovers,

This year I seem to have watched, and reviewed, 53 films. Not bad. Below is a list of them in decending star order. Within each catergory they are in alphabetical order.

5 Stars out of 5

4.5 Stars out of 5

4 Stars out of 5

3.5 Stars out of 5

3 Stars out of 5

2.5 Stars out of 5

2 Stars out of 5

1.5 Stars out of 5

1 Star out of 5

Monsters, Inc. – JenEric Movie Review

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 2001 Monsters, Inc.


Behind a cutesy story there’s a lot of great messages and social commentary. I’m a huge fan of the moment Sully realizes that what he’s always been told was the right thing to do actually hurt people. That moment was extremely relatable. The subtext of child labour, exploitation of others, and being a good person doesn’t mean you always do good things, are still very powerful.

Score: 1


A little bit of an odd couple, but with a great friendship, Sully and Mike are the heart of the movie. They are genuinely nice people who’ve been socialized to do bad things. It’s a wonderful dichotomy. The rest of the cast are a little less nuanced, but show different aspects of how this society molds people.

Score: 1


Every time I watch this movie I’m shocked by the amount of things in it that I’ve integrated into my everyday. From “Put that thing back where you found it or so help me” to “Follow the sultry sounds of my voice.”

The wonderful thing about the dialogue is that most of it does double or triple duty; humour, character development, and world building.

Score: 1

Visuals and Music

At now 20 years old, the 3D rendering does look dated. Especially compared to newer Disney or Pixar. That being said, the hair particles and snow are stunning. The character design is well balanced between creepy and funny. Even dated, it looks great and the attention to detail is amazing.

Score: 1


This is the hardest category to judge. I watched this one in theatres and it’s a staple in our house. My daughter was glued to the screen when she was younger and she was still glued this time. My son sat and watched the entire time, although he was pretty freaked out at the beginning. He loved Boo and kept asking for her when she wasn’t on screen.

Score: 1


A classic film with all the heart and levels that Pixar is so great at. Its warmth and humour make it a joy to watch. Even twenty years after, the hair and snow animations are amazing. I’ll be honest, I’m not objective since this is one of my top ten movies of all time.

Final Score: 5*

*A 5 star review doesn’t mean the movie was perfect nor that it is perfect for everyone but it is a movie I believe is as close to perfect as possible.

Monsters vs. Aliens – JenEric Movie Review

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 2009 film Monsters vs. Aliens.


An interesting mash-up (monster mash-up?) of typical monster and alien invasion tropes from both the classic movies and the newer ones. Although they revel in the tropes of the genre, the movie isn’t an alien invasion or monster movie, it’s a superhero origin story.

Score: 0.5


The characters were funny but not particularly interesting. They balanced their roles well and were likeable but nothing special.

Score: 0.5


The movie was filled with quotes, references, and jokes about other monster or invasion movies and TV shows. I’m sure I missed a few but greatly enjoyed those that I caught.

As far as original dialogue, each character had a few great moments.

Score: 1

Visuals and Music

The movie was colourful and the monsters were okay, but the humans and Susan were really off. The mouths and eyes were just off enough to make it disconcerting.

The music was a beautiful homage to classic monster and alien movies.

Score: 0.5


Lots of action, jokes, and fun moments. It was fun from start to finish. I’m sure the genre references and jokes help me a lot.

Score: 1


This is a movie that squeezes monsters, aliens, and superhero tropes all together. It’s what happens when you make a loving parody. It was exciting for the kids and a had lots of little Easter eggs for the adults.

Final Score: 3.5 Stars out of 5

Dear Dragon – Monsters

Hi Dragon,

Watching the news today, I held you tight and warned you about the monsters. They don’t have bolts in their neck, and they don’t get burned by sunlight. They look like us and walk around in daylight, but they exist.

This will be history for you when you read this, but one of those monsters shot at innocent people in a place of worship yesterday. He killed six innocent people and hurt a lot of others. His actions are inexcusable and monstrous.

That’s the difference, my little Dragon, between fictional monsters and real ones. Fictional monsters do terrible things because it’s in their nature, or they were made that way; real monsters make themselves from their actions.

Of course, there are other factors that help create real monsters. Hate, fear, intolerance, and anger help feed them, but in the end, it’s their actions that make them monsters. This means we are all capable of being monsters.

There are ways to help prevent monsters and they are so simple they seem silly. These ways are simply to keep love in your heart and share it with others. Treat people with respect, even when they don’t deserve it, help your neighbour, and be the kind of person who helps others.

Help, not through grand gestures, but through small acts of kindness. The small acts add up to bigger ones. We are all capable of being monsters, but that means we are also capable of being the opposite; Helpers.

It may be optimistic and it may be naïve, but I believe we can all make the world a better place by helping more.

Be a Helper and, as always, have hope!

I love you so much my little Dragon,

Your Papa

Jess Goldie – Part 2 of 2

I’m on vacation but enjoy this story!

Read Part 1

It was a terrifying place. I almost turned back but I saw movement and had to investigate. I followed the movement for a little, thinking I was hunting it. It lead me to a small clearing before two more of it came out of the forest.

It was fascinating; a grizzly sized capybara crossed with a teddy bear. As I looked at them in adoration they started to sing the sweetest song, layering harmonies. Before I knew what was happening, the one I’d followed had closed its jaws on my shoulder. The pain was excruciating and cut through their siren’s song. It ripped off a part of my shoulder and then salivated on it. Its saliva dripped onto my wound and I felt myself healing. I also learnt everything I needed about it.

Its natural predator was a form of large black hound, whose skin cracked and extruded some form of burning liquid. I forced myself to change shape and mimic the magma hound. When I’d grown to five times my size, I howled the howl the haunted the Adlat’s dreams.

The three creatures ran away and I shrank back to my dog form. I felt strange like I was missing something. I was scared and alone; all I wanted was the warmth of home.

I ran back to the gopher hole I’d made leaving the city. I looked at the hole and tried to bring up the memory of a gopher. I couldn’t. The knowledge I had about gophers was gone. That’s when I discovered my memories were spread across my being and losing part of me meant losing memories. I put myself to work and dug out the hole enough that I could get back into civilization.

I was part way through digging the hole when a howl, similar to the one I’d made earlier, echoed behind me. I melted back to my original shape and hurried through the rest of the hole.

I don’t like being goo, it’s like being naked, both physically and psychically. As goo I can feel all the emotions around me, plant, animal, human, and more. I also taste and feel every part of the earth.

Whatever made that noise was big and probably couldn’t get through the gopher hole I’d made. I changed into a crow and flew straight back to Jessie’s home.

Inside I walked gently into the kitchen. Even having changed several times, my heart beat swiftly.

“Goldie?” Jessie asked behind me. I jumped and made a strange snuffling noise and he giggled. “I can’t sleep. I had nightmares.” He shivered and I got a vague impression of a clown and the terror that accompanied it.

He walked over to me and hugged me, his little face buried in my fur. All the fear, mine and his, drained from me and was replaced by his love.

He took a glass of water and walked over to the couch near the antique television. “Do you want to watch something, Goldie?” I gave a soft woof of disapproval but he took it as acceptance and put in his favourite old movies (one his father didn’t let him watch alone). It was in colour and had a large insect like alien that tried to kill the crew.

I lay next to him and he put his hand in my fur, he was asleep before the first crewmember died. I don’t sleep but I was comfortable and not paying complete attention. I should have been sharper. I should have been more careful.

I lazily turned towards the kitchen and caught sight of two glowing violet eyes. Before I knew it,, the Magma hound had pounced towards us. I moved as fast as I could but I was too slow. It bit into Jessie’s leg, pulled him, and started to shake him.

The movie behind me influenced my shape and I changed into the alien. I’d never been so big before and I could feel it draining my energy. My double set of jaws snapped at the Hound. Surprised, it dropped Jessie and tried lunging for my neck.

I contorted my new body and unhinged my powerful jaws. It caught me in the throat but I bit down on its back, snapping its spine. The hound fell to the ground with a thump.

The terror in Jessie’s eyes when he looked at me haunts me still. I changed back to my Goldie shape and tried to move closer to him. He screamed and despite his bloodied and broken leg he scrambled backwards away from me.

Pain, fear, and betrayal emanated from him as he lost consciousness. I knew from his feelings that he’d never trust me again and that hurt more than the wounds that the Adlat or the magma hound had given me.

There was a lot of blood and I was worried that Jessie’s leg was still bleeding. Remembering the Adlat I transformed into one and started to salivate on his leg. Instantly, the bite marks started closing and he started looking healthier.

I felt fear emanating from the staircase at the same time I heard the sirens. Jessie’s parents had seen me change and then salivate all over their child. They feared too and now Elmsley was coming. The private police force of the NAF would show me no mercy.

I had no other choice but to leave.

I spent a long time living as various city animals. I watched Jessie grow up. His leg was never the same after that night but he eventually lost the haunted look I’d caused with my carelessness.

I was wallowing in guilt as a pigeon when I saw a poster on a mailbox with the picture of a young girl and the caption, “Missing.” I remembered the detective movies and decided it was time I started living like a human.

The wonderful thing about humans is clothing. It hides any form of sex organs and makes it much easier to mimic them. I chose a shape that was androgynous to let my clients expectations decide what I looked like. I took on the name Jess Goldie and I’m now a Private Detective.

Jess Goldie – Part 1 of 2

I’m on vacation but enjoy this story!

I was a pile of goo on the sidewalk, and it wasn’t because of a cute boy or girl. I was literally a pile of goo. The first thing I remember was oozing – yeah that’s the sexy description – towards a green lawn. Everything is a little fuzzy but I think I was running away from something.

I oozed under a white picket fence and felt the need to change my shape. When I’m around people I can sense what they’re expecting me to look like. My first shape was a golden retriever puppy. Exactly what Jessie Heaney wanted for this fifth birthday. I’m extremely grateful I didn’t show up the next year when he was into dinosaurs.

The only problem with the need to transform is the lack of information. Jessie knew what a puppy looked like and had a general idea what they should act like but no specifics. I did what I was expected to do and that was jump around and yip happily.

The early morning sun was warm on my new coat but the dew on the grass was refreshing. I didn’t mind running around. It was better than oozing.

When his parents saw him hugging me, I felt their sadness at the idea of hurting him. They said he could keep me if I was a stray and not someone’s pet. Jessie insisted that we go ask all the neighbours.

As they walked further out of their neighbourhood, Jessie asked, “What if someone owns the puppy?”

“If someone owns the puppy we’ll go to the pound and get you another puppy,” Jessie’s mother said.

He promptly burst into tears. Between gasps of breath he said, “But I don’t want another puppy! I want Goldie.” He’d given me a name. Names are odd, they’re abstract representations of the concept of self but it has a sort of power.

“I think he’s named the mutt,” Jessie’s father chuckled as he spoke.

His laughter was drowned out by the low growl from a black lab. It towered over me – everything towered over me – five or six times my size. My first instinct was to make myself small and curl into a ball.

When I did I heard a woman’s voice shout, “Calm down Ebony!” I risked a look up at the other dog and it moved slowly towards me sniffing me. I must have smelled wrong. A little boys mind doesn’t contain dog smells.

Ebony must have assumed I had rolled in something strange because she came up to me and licked my head. A shock ran through my entire being. Everything Ebony knew about being a dog and physically being Ebony was contained in her saliva.

It might be considered a gross way of getting information but it works. Any bodily fluid I come in contact with gives me all the physical information I need to imitate that being or species. It’s limited by what the other being knows genetically. In this case Ebony was a female black lab and that’s what I got as information.

It gave me the information to create animal genitals and basic behaviour, but the vet and dog experts would often mention that my behaviour and temperament was that of a lab not a golden retriever.

My life with Jessie and his Parents was simple and beautiful. I played, ate, and was loved. My days were spent lazing in the back yard, my evenings playing with Jessie and my nights exploring the city.

I learned a lot about the world from listening to Jessie’s homework sessions.

“It’s interesting,” Jessie’s father said, “I’d swear she knows what we’re saying.”

“Oh don’t be silly,” Jessie’s mother replied before asking her son another question, “Where do you live?”

“1227 Shatner Ave. Ottawa, Algonquin. Capital of the North American Federation.”

“Good job, and when was the NAF founded?”

“July 17th, two-thousand and thirty three.”

“Good Job, Champ!” Jessie’s father would say the same every time Jessie gave a right answer.

One thing I liked doing with Jessie was watch his father’s old movies. They were all on clunky round disks instead of data chips and they had to be watched on an old flat imaged television in the basement.

My favorites were mysteries from the late twentieth century. Not knowing what was happening was my default state but these movies gave clues and the men, they were always men, were confident and brash. By the end the bad guy was caught through hard work and intelligence.

Jessie however liked the movies that had monsters in them. His father wouldn’t let him watch any of those that were in colour without a parent watching with him.

After watching a movie where a rabbit had been made large with lion DNA Jessie wasn’t able to sleep. I had found the rabbits laughable. I’d licked one once and there was nothing violent or dangerous about them.

After waking up crying, Jessie asked his father, “Daddy, are there any real monsters?”

“I wish I could say no. There are no giant rabbit monsters and there are no monsters in Ottawa.” His father gave a big sigh and continued, “However, there are monsters out there. Both creatures and people with unholy powers. That’s why we have the Norns.”

“Aren’t they police?”

“Yes but they also protect us from monsters. And you have Goldie to protect you.”

I gave a soft woof of agreement and he gave me a furrowed look.

The conversation intrigued me and my nighttime explorations went from learning all I could about the wildlife around the house to exploring further and further out. I learnt a lot more about humans and dogs than any other animals.

Human’s leave their bodily fluids everywhere. I learnt from cigarette butts, half chewed gum, pieces of garbage, random spit on the ground, and humans that marked their territory. The older the sample the less I get from it but I learnt a lot of the cruelty of humans in those nights.

The hardest part of walking around at night is avoiding people’s expectations. In daylight they feel safe and expect other people or dogs. It’s a vague tugging on me making me want to mold to their expectations. At night, people expect their nightmares and fears. It’s a sharp and almost painful feeling. If I give in to it I’m tugged from one nightmare to the other. If I fight it, it’s like trying to keep water in a shape. It means I move slowly and must concentrate on my shape.

Eventually I reached the border between city and wilderness; it was marked by an electric fence. The fence was easily five metres high and made of hard thick metal. Underground it only reached a metre and was nothing for a gopher. (They were fun to chase even if I didn’t need to learn about them).

The wilderness around Ottawa is filled with wild, nearly random, tropical plants; nothing like the well curated plants of the city. The mists of the jungle clung to the plants in a way that I’d only seen in the movies with Dracula, Swamp Thing, or Frankenstein.

To Be Concluded

South Korea themed cafes

Heading to South Korea? After seeing all these awesome little cafes, I just might go soon! Here are a few that I found that looked interesting to me!

Harry Potter

The newest is Hogsmeade; a Harry Potter themed bar. It’s in North Gyeongsang Province, on the East coast of South Korea.


Hogsmeade, image from utiedkpop.com
Hogsmeade Cafe in South Korea, image from unitedkpop.com.

They have all sorts of Harry Potter-themed treats, including butterbeer and chocolate frogs, and if you haven’t gotten your house robes yet, you can buy them here, no matter which house you’re in. (As a Hufflepuff, I always find it difficult to get merch with my house, although stores are getting better!) The interior is stunningly decorated, and you might forget that you’re not actually in Hogsmeade!


221B is a very classy and elegant cafe in Seoul, with great attention to detail in the decor – check out the picture of the bathroom wallpaper! They have Sherlockian coffee and food items, including eggs Benedict. 😉 There’s a TV screen that shows the episodes on constant repeat. I wonder if they had a viewing party when the new episodes came out this year?

Monster Movies

Monster Cupcakes in Seoul has sweet treats based on classic monsters. They haven’t posted any pictures on their Facebook page since 2012, but hopefully they’re still around!

Doctor Who

Although not a cafe, the Doctor Who Pub & Grill in Anyang is a cute little place with subtle (and some not-so-subtle) nods to the British TV show, mostly through the decor. The food is not themed, or at least it wasn’t at the time of the article that I linked you to (April 2015). We can only hope they’ve added Whovian related foods to their menu now that it’s been around for a while.

Charlie Brown

There’s a cute little cafe called the Charlie Brown Cafe in Oebalsan-dong, Incheon Airport. The food, especially the pastries, is absolutely adorable, with images of the characters included in the edibles. You can also buy merchandise. The decor is mainly why I want to go here.

The interior of the Charlie Brown Cafe. Image from blogspot.com.
The interior of the Charlie Brown Cafe. Image from blogspot.com.

Hello Kitty

Of course there is a Hello Kitty Cafe. Actually, there are several throughout South Korea. The decor is adorable, the food is themed, and you can buy merchandise.

I hope you enjoyed this quick run-through of the themed cafes in South Korea! There are more that I didn’t talk about here.

If you’d like help booking a trip to South Korea. You can contact Jennifer Desmarais through Orleans Travel. jennifer.desmarais@orleanstravel.ca

Only Human (Serial Story) Part 13 – Conclusion

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6 | Part 7 | Part 8 | Part 9 |
Part 10 | Part 11 | Part 12

The circle glowed and bright lights erupted out of it as Tim and Ginny forced the lever down on his prototype Metaphysical Transfiguration device.

Rachel, still held by the neck by the Smiling Dark, felt oddly light. A feeling of joy and excitement ran through her. It was a feeling she hadn’t felt since she was a child.

* * *

It was Christmas morning. She and Natasha were sitting in painful anticipation for it to be seven AM. The time their parents told them they could wake them up.

“What do you think Santa brought us this year?” asked Rachel, vibrating with excitement.

“I don’t know, but I hope my motion sensor camera caught him doing it,” Natasha’s eyes sparkled with delight. “You know this is just a memory right?” she asked.

The question caught Rachel off guard. “Can’t I enjoy it?”

“This was my last Christmas…” Natasha trailed off.

“Am I dead?”

Laughing, Natasha said, “Always the optimist. No sweetie. You’re not dead… Not yet.”

“Are you real?” Rachel threw herself at her sister and hugged her.

“At the moment, anything you think of can be real. Now wake up.”

“I still miss you,” Rachel’s tears fell onto her sisters back as they hugged.

“I know, but I don’t miss you enough yet to have you join me. Wake up.”

* * *

The feeling of excitement and power was almost painful.

“What just happened?” asked the man in front of her. He was shadowed as if light didn’t enjoy touching him, but he was still just a man. His face looked like an aged movie star’s, his skin closer to grey than any real colour.

“I think you just became punchable.” She punctuated her quip with a punch.

Lightning crackled around her fist as it connected with the Smiling Dark’s face. It left small burn marks on his cheek. He fell to one knee, his smile disappearing for a moment, and said, “Just because I’m corporeal doesn’t mean I’m helpless.”

His arms reached out and shadows coalesced around his hands forming dark blades. He took a fencer’s stance and started moving towards her. She could see dark tendrils of shadow moving around him like some sort of Lovecraftian monster.

The machine had turned him into a monster that creates and manipulates shadow instead of being made of it. The belief of monsters all over the world that he existed was amplified. Rachel knew what had happened to him had happened to her. The belief of everyone on campus was that she was a demi-god, and she could feel the power of the gods inside her.

“Leave now and you can live.”

“I will have you one way or another.” He attacked and she parried with blades of lightning.

“Ew!” she exclaimed before adding, “I warned you.” Turning to her friends, she said, “Leave the room.”

They fenced, Rachel letting him think he could win, until everyone had left the room.

“I am darkness, shadow, and death. You can’t kill me.”

“I am a demi-god of lightning and energy. Let’s see if you can survive with so much light there isn’t room for shadows.” She reached deep into herself for her new power and pulled it out forcing it into a ball of pure lightning bright plasma around her. She let it expand and cover every millimetre of the room.

The Smiling Dark’s screams were drowned out by the crackle of power. When the entire room was light and electricity she tried to stop it and found she couldn’t. The energy went wild and there was nothing she could do to stop it.

* * *

“Thank you,” whispered her sister’s voice as Rachel started to wake up.

Everything hurt. Rachel opened her eyes to see that she was in her dorm. “She’s awake,” yelled Ginny. Her friends walked into the room followed by a large man with an eyepatch.

“How are you feeling?” asked the large man.

“I hurt, but I think I’m ok.” She was better than that; she knew her broken bones and cuts had healed completely.

“The ache will pass with time. It’s a side effect of returning you to your human self.”

“Ok.” It was all she could think.

“You fought well, Rachel, and for that I hold no grudge for you copying my son’s powers. Just don’t do it again.”

His son? Rachel’s eyes went wide. “Odin. Oh my…” she trailed off.

He chuckled. “If you so choose, your place in Valhalla is guaranteed.” With that, he disappeared.

“Way to go, you amused and impressed the All-Father,” Tim said, probably meaning it to be a joke, but sounding just as amazed as she felt.


“So whatever you did, vaporised my lab and the entire Transmutation building.” Tim still sounded amazed, and seeing her worried look, he quickly added, “Don’t worry about it. It happens more often than you’d think. Transmutation is a volatile area of study.”

“Dowan and I got everyone out in time,” said Ronnie smiling at Dowan.

“Naw, it was mostly you, man,” Dowan replied smiling back.

“Oh, get a room,” gagged Tim.

Turning to Tim, Ginny said, “That’s not a bad idea.” She cocked an eyebrow and crooked a finger. Tim turned bright red and rolled to the kitchen. They closed the door behind them as they entered the kitchen area.

Both Dowan and Ronnie looked uncomfortably around the room until she said, “I’m not up for a threesome.” Their eyes opened wide until they saw she was joking.

“Who would you have chosen?” Dowan asked, with a twinkle in his eye.

“Yeah,” smirked Ronnie.

“Me. If I had to choose someone to die, it would have been me.” The boys looked a little disappointed with her answer and she added, “If you’re asking who I choose now, I don’t know. I like both of you and I’ve had a long few days. Why don’t we have a few dates before I decide?”

“Ok,” they said at the same time.

“I’m not opposed to that threesome,” said Dowan, and he winked at Ronnie before disappearing.

Ronnie turned bright red, something Rachel thought vampires couldn’t do, and said, “Take care,” before walking out of the room still blushing. There would be a lot of time for her to choose. Avenging her sister made her feel more at peace than she’d ever thought possible, and now she was looking forward to her classes and flirting with two hot boys. Her life was looking pretty good.

Both Tim and Ginny were in the kitchen. Ginny walked back in and asked, “Anything I can do?”

“I’m ok. Thanks.”

“I’m glad you’re alive. Sorry you lost your god powers.”

“I’m not. I like being me. I like being Only Human.”

The End

Only Human (Serial Story) Part 12

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6 | Part 7 | Part 8 | Part 9 |
Part 10 | Part 11

Standing holding the heart of Rachel’s professor, the Smiling Dark said, “Shhh. That’s enough information for my new bride.”

Rachel, Dowan, and Ronnie stood there mouths agape for longer than they should have. The Smiling Dark was exactly what it sounded like; a Cheshire smile and piercing grey eyes surrounded by a semi-transparent shadow in the shape of a man.

“Bride?” asked Rachel, still in shock.

“Yes. I’ve been following and guiding you your entire life. I made sure you found what you needed to be strong and what you needed to grow stronger. I forged you through pain and combat until you became the woman you are. Now you’re almost ready to take your place at my side.”

“No!” she said sounding more confident than she felt.

“You don’t have much choice. You’ll do it. If not for yourself but for your friends,” the shadow sneered.

In a smooth motion Rachel pulled out and threw her mystical dagger. It should have hit the shadow right in the face but instead went through it and stabbed several books in the cluttered office.

The shadow laughed. “You cannot hurt me. I’m not corporeal. I’m an idea, a fear, I don’t work on your plane of existence unless I want to.”

Something about its words made her think of Tim but she didn’t know why and didn’t have time to think about it.

“Must make having a bride difficult,” snarked Dowan. “I mean what’s the point?”

“I will transform her to be like me and we will rule the world.” The shadow’s arms lifted and both Ronnie and Dowan were pulled up by their necks by an invisible force. “Rachel. You will be my bride or I’ll destroy anyone and anything you’ve cared about. The last woman to refuse me was Atlantean.”

“Scary. Put them down.” Again her voice was calm while she was terrified.

“Kill one and you’ll be ready.” When she hesitated, he laughed and added, “I’m not without a heart. You can keep one as a toy.”

The Smiling Dark, literally dangled two men in front of her. She’d known she’d have to choose between them eventually, but not like this. She’d hoped the other would still be her friend, not dead.

“The trickster is quite handsome but he’ll age and get old. The vampire will offer you decades of play time. Both will scream prettily for you.”

“I think you have me confused with someone else. I don’t want to hear them scream… in pain.”

“Not yet. Once you kill one, you’ll feel differently.”

Part of her relished the idea and it sickened the rest of her. Had her bloodlust and love of the hunt been because of the Shadow? Is he the reason she liked to kill?

Her stomach churned. How could she fight something that wasn’t corporeal; that was more of a metaphor?

“I’m not killing them! They’re my friends.” she said, and thought about all her friends.

“If you don’t, I’ll destroy everything you care about.” There was ageless patience in its voice.

“Can you give me time to decide?” She couldn’t think of a way out of this, if she couldn’t hurt it than she was helpless.

“Of course, my bride. You have one hour to decide.” Both men fell at the same time and the shadow was gone.

“I can’t believe that worked,” she mumbled.

“Good job getting more time,” choked Dowan.

“What do we do now? How do we beat that thing?”

“We don’t,” she replied. “But I know who will.”

She had a plan, based off sketchy information and half thought out, but it was a better than no plan at all.

* * *

“What does this thing do?” asked Dowan confused.

Looking up at him from his wheelchair, Tim sighed, “It converts belief to reality.”

“Isn’t that impossible?” asked Ronnie.

They were all standing in Tim’s lab. He was doing something with the electronic parts and all the knobs. Rachel didn’t fully understand was he was doing. Only that it could move the Smiling Dark into phase with them so she could punch it.

Shaking her head, Ginny said, “If people believe in something strongly enough, that belief can fuel the creation of something. It’s why we have gremlins; they were dreamed up through a combination of altitude sickness, lack of oxygen, and human belief. Over just a few years, all the pilots in world war one believed in their existence. A lot of the mythical races owe their existence to belief.”

“It’s called Gaiman’s Hypothesis of Metaphysical Transfiguration,” Tim added.

“Normally it takes years, sometimes lifetimes, for the belief to become real,” Ginny rubbed Tim’s shoulders as she talked. “Tim’s research is about speeding up or slowing down this process. The Smiling Dark is part way through and has found some way to influence the world.”

Ronnie looked at Rachel and tilted his head towards his sister and Tim, wiggling his eyebrows. Rachel gave him a smile.

“Wait, we want to make this thing more real?” asked Dowan, rubbing his throat.

“Yes. If he’s real, he can feel pain.” Rachel actually growled. She impressed even herself with the viciousness of the statement.

“Just make sure he’s standing in the middle of the collider,” Tim pointed at a series of tubes set in a perfect circle on the ground. There were wires coming from various parts of the tubes and magical glyphs on every surface.

“Don’t get trapped inside with it.” ordered Ginny.

“Why?” Rachel asked, and both Ginny and Tim shrugged.

“Time’s up, my bride.” The shadow appeared behind them, smiling, always smiling.

She had to figure out how to get him into the giant, really obvious, trap. “Remind me why you need a bride?” she asked to buy time and sidle towards the right place.

“Once your innocence has been taken—” he was cut off by snickers from all of Rachel’s friends. “Once you kill one of those you love, you’ll be ready to be my bride. We’ll combine and become one.” He moved with her, shadowing her movements.

“First, I’m still trying to decide if I like them enough to do more than kissing. I wouldn’t say I love them. And when you say combine and become one, you mean figuratively right?”

“My essence shall invade your body and we shall meld into a being of great strength and darkness.” If it was possible, its smile grew wider.

She was standing in the middle of the circle and the Smiling Dark was moving towards her. She was ready to throw herself out when his arm, composed of shadows and fear, reached out and grabbed her by her throat.

“Which of them have you decided to kill?” it asked, moving its entire body towards her.

“You!” she choked out. “Tim, now!”

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Only Human (Serial Story) Part 11

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6 | Part 7 | Part 8 | Part 9 |
Part 10

Ginny had fallen unconscious from blood loss. Rachel took her knife back up and shuddered at what she had to do next. She had to cut the flesh that had touched the holy oil. It infected and necrotised the flesh of a vampire, who were not actually undead.

After cutting up her best friend, she reached into the fridge for a bottle of artificial blood and fed it to Ginny. She woke up part way though feeding and screamed in pain. Her wound started to close slowly as security arrived.

She told them everything, except her being human and hunting for her sister’s killer.

When they left, Ginny insisted she stay in the same room. As she cuddled with the sobbing vampire, Rachel couldn’t help but feel like her quest to find her sister’s killer was hopeless.

* * *

There was no heat in the bed with Ginny. The extremely low body temperature of vampires must have been the root of the rumours about them being dead.

It was cold and Rachel was sore from her various fights of late. She’d come close to death that night. When Ginny had fallen asleep she got up and walked around, cleaned the kitchen, and did some studying.

When she went to the washroom, the toilet seat hurt her back. She rolled up the t-shirt she’d changed into and saw a perfectly circular bruise where she’d been hit by the wizard’s spell. It was as wide as her hand was long and just above her bellybutton. She touched it and it stung, the skin felt sensitive. It felt like she had burned her skin and bruised. Looking at her back in the mirror she saw that she had an identical bruise on her back.

“I hope this isn’t all in my head,” she whispered.

The whispered words connected with something inside her and she felt dizzy. A flash of memories burned into her brain.

* * *

“It’s all in your head, Natasha,” Rachel yelled at her little sister when the treehouse was empty.

The adult Rachel could see her younger self and sister arguing about the existence of what they’d always called cryptoids. Rachel was firmly convinced they didn’t exist, it took Natasha’s death to convince her.

Natasha was nine in this memory or vision and Rachel was eleven. It was when she’d stopped wanting to play at hunting mythical creatures.

Adult Rachel tried her best to ignore what was going on and not look at her sister. It hurt too much. Instead she concentrated on the treehouse, everything in it, and everything around it.

“You’re mean and I hate you!” yelled Natasha as she climbed down the rope ladder.

Younger Rachel rolled her eyes and yelled back, “You’re just a baby who still believes in monsters and fairies!”

As she watched the past, Rachel saw something behind her younger self. It looked vaguely human shaped but cloaked in shadows that shouldn’t exist on that bright summer’s day. As she watched in horror the shadow smiled a bright Cheshire cat smile at her younger self and slowly looked up at her. When she started to think it could see her, she said, “Can you see me?” It winked at her and she found herself once again looking at her bruise in the bathroom mirror.

Her phone rang.

* * *

“So I heard you and my sister cuddled last night. Should I be worried?” Ronnie asked as she distractedly walked across campus.

“Not from her,” replied Dowan appearing on the other side of her.

The two men followed her as she continued to walk. After her waking dream she’d contacted her divination teacher, who’d invited her to meet in the morning at her office.

“Ginny’s prettier than either of you, both of you should be worried.” Rachel said over their bickering.

Pulling a coffee from the air, Dowan asked, “How is she, by the way?” He was the one who’d called her after her vision.

Ronnie replied, “She’s fine. Tim’s with her.” When Dowan gave him a funny look, he added, “The little dude is awesome and makes her feel comfortable.”

“He has my gun and he’s a specialist in ‘Metaphysical Transfiguration’,” Rachel said shrugging.

“Do you know what that means?” asked Dowan.

“Do you?” snapped Ronnie.

“No,” replied Dowan.

“Me neither.”

Both of them burst out laughing and looked at Rachel. “He tried to explain it to me and I think I fell asleep. Something to do with changing things that aren’t tangible into something you can touch and manipulate.” Rachel couldn’t help joining into the laughter. The three of them had to stop walking they were laughing so hard.

Both men knew where she was going. She’d told Dowan when he called and she’d told Ronnie when he and Tim showed up to take care of Ginny.

The three of them walked in comfortable silence until they reached their teacher’s office in the Blue Wizards’ School of Divination and Illusion.

The office was small and cramped. It had four desks shoved in the middle together and it looked like the office was shared by multiple professors. The Hag, their teacher, was sitting with pink spectacles on her warty nose, grading essays.

They awkwardly filled into the room and Rachel told her all the details of her dream, or vision.

“Oh my dear. That’s terrible,” the Hag said, looking distraught.

“Am I getting visions or memories?” asked Rachel.

“Oh definitely a vision. You have great divinatory powers. It’s a rare power for a demi-god. Normally it’s a human trait.”


“Yes. Humans are the most powerful divinatory beings. They can feel the magic around them and use it instinctually. It’s fascinating they have no clue how powerful it is. They call it good reflexes, luck, or gut instincts, but it’s all because they’re more attuned to the magic of time and knowledge.”

“Wow,” said Ronnie.

“You’re human, aren’t you, dear?” the Hag asked.

Changing the subject, Rachel asked, “What about the Shadow Man I saw in my vision. Do you know who that is?”

“Yes but…” she trailed off. Sighing deeply she said, “It sounds like the Smiling Dark. Subridens Tenebris.”

Both men gasped and Dowan said, “That’s just a myth, right? A story that parents tell their kids to make sure they behave.”

“Says the trickster spirit, to the Hag, standing next to a vampire,” deadpanned Rachel.

Smiling, Dowan lifted his hands. “Good point.”

“How do I find it?” asked Rachel, feeling closer than she’d ever been before.

From the crowded bookshelf, a shadow moved. At first Rachel thought it was from the clouds shifting, but it was an overcast day. It floated behind the Hag, and in one swift movement pulled out her heart.

“Shhh,” said the shadow. “That’s enough information for my new bride.”

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