Disclaimer: This novel contains adult material including sexually explicit activities, strong language, homophobic language, extreme violence, suicide, depictions of trauma, and more. Reader discretion is advised.
The Dominance of Abigale Quinlan
Shard 01: 108 Days Later
A harsh electronic wailing yanked me out of slumber and into the waking world. My eyes fluttered open as they adjusted to the morning sunlight creeping into my bedroom, but my vision soon narrowed on the alarm clock placed on my dresser, displaying 6:45 in green seven-segment characters. With a muted sigh, I threw my blanket off of my being and plopped myself onto the floor, where I walked up to the clock and turned off the alarm.
With my hand still on the clock, I thought about what today’s date was. Monday, April 6, 2015. Meaning spring break was over, and it was time to go back to school. With a sigh, I began my usual morning routine. Grabbing my uniform from my closet, throwing it on my unmade bed, stripping out of my pajamas, and putting on my light blue dress shirt and a pair of khakis. Admittedly, it was not a uniform in the strictest sense, as Oransen High’s ‘uniform policy’ was closer to a dress code with all the different styles and colors they offered. But everybody called them uniforms, so I did the same.
With my person dressed and sheets made, I walked downstairs and was met with silence. The ground floor was dark, the kitchen was empty, and I was reminded of just how large this home truly was. My mother had left for a vacation in Europe last week, and wasn’t set to return home until Friday evening. It was something she had wanted to do since she was a teenager, but she never could justify traveling alone. She never had the opportunity to travel in her youth and back when she was still married to Bryce, she did not want to leave me alone with him.
This meant that I was alone for the past week, but it was nothing I couldn’t handle. While I did not know much about cooking or general housekeeping, I knew enough to get by for a short while, and I had friends to help me with anything I needed. At least, that’s what I told myself.
Upon letting out a yawn, I got started on my breakfast, cleaning and chopping an apple before throwing a slice of bread into the toaster oven. As I chewed my apple, I sifted through my fridge, looking over the meals my friends and I made yesterday, before blindly picking one out for lunch and shutting the fridge. I slid the container into my lunchbox before I shifted my attention to the rack of dishes I washed last night, begging to be put away.
While gathering and placing every dish into the appropriate cupboard, I thought back to the mess we made of my kitchen yesterday. Maxxie, Terra, Zoe, Shiaka, and I were all crammed into my not-so-big kitchen, making five dishes at once. Partially because they wanted to make sure I had enough food for the week, and partially so we could, as Maxxie put it, ‘do a bit of Adult EXP grinding.’
She wasn’t wrong. Cooking was a good skill for all of us to develop. But just because all five of us were cooking together did not mean it was an efficient use of time… or enjoyable… mostly because of me. Because, even after 108 days of this, I still can’t get over what I did. It was in another world, and they hold no memories of it… but I saw into their minds. I made them flee in terror. I tormented them by depriving them of a body to call their own. If they knew what I did, they would have thrown me aside like the garbage I am. That’s why… I never told them.
I still don’t know how I could possibly explain this to them… without Verde to help me. This was a wretched fruit of knowledge, and all I could do was bear it for the rest of my days, hoping that this memory dies and never resurfaces.
I growled as I found myself sinking into that mental quagmire for the hundredth time, only to have the toaster oven let out a chime. Upon tidying things up, I went upstairs with my breakfast and lunchbox, and sat down at my computer.
As I checked through my usual feeds and sites, my thoughts drifted to that of school. I was less than two months away from graduating, and I just completed my last break before it was all over. It was the final quarter, the lead up to the final exams, and while that might be a time of stress for some students, it wasn’t for me. I had already done well enough to be accepted into the unremarkable Oransen Community College (OCC), where I could get my General Education credits and an Associate’s degree. So, in a sense, it did not really matter how this quarter went as long as I passed my classes.
It also did not matter that much because, after much rumination, my friends and I all decided to go to OCC for two years before heading elsewhere. This meant we didn’t need to say goodbye, as we would see each other at and outside of school. So, in a sense, it really was not going to be much of a transition. I’d be with the same people, in the same town, but in different buildings. Nothing I hadn’t gone through… thrice already.
I continued to entertain mundane musings such as these until it was almost time to leave. I made my way to the upstairs bathroom and began the routine process of washing my face and brushing my teeth, my thoughts drifting as I stared back at my reflection. I could see hints of veins poking through my fair pinkish skin. My emerald green eyes hung half open as I looked forward. And my curly brown hair was cut short right before spring break and had barely grown since then. I thought it was too short, and it was, but it would grow back, eventually.
I would never say that I looked anything better than average, and the most remarkable quality of my physique was probably how skinny I was, at 56 kilograms while standing at 1.77 meters. Borderline underweight, but still healthy.
As I thought back to these internalized figures, I briefly recalled the surreal yet enticing sensation of seeing someone else in the mirror, moving their face as my own. It was something I had only ever tried with Maxxie, Shiaka, Zoe, and… her, but it was something that I thought back to whenever I bothered looking at my reflection.
After I spat out my toothpaste, I felt my phone vibrate in my pocket, and pulled it out to see a text from Maxxie. “Maxxie is on the move! 5 minz!” She left ahead of schedule, or at least, the actual version of her schedule, so I grabbed what I needed and headed out my front door. With my forest green lightweight jacket and backpack slung over my shoulders, I headed out and waited for Maxxie, where she arrived a minute later.
I casually threw open the door to the back seat, sat down, and looked at Maxxie. Despite being a chilly morning, she was dressed in her summer uniform, which consisted of a short-sleeve periwinkle dress shirt, a pink ribbon tied around her collar, a navy skirt, and white knee-high socks. She looked cute, as she always did, with her black, endearingly disheveled, hair and a big smile on her brown, freckled face. Her ancestry was an assorted grab bag from east Asia to south Asia to Africa, so she personally described her racial identity as ‘Blasian.’ And while it was hard to tell with her sitting down, she still stood at 167 centimeters and, presumably, weighed 63 kilograms.
We exchanged smiles as I took a seat and scooched over to the seat behind Maxxie, my usual spot.
“Good nom-nom-noming, J-Star!” Maxxie shouted. “You ready to subject yourself to the conclusive quarter and end your high school days with a great big kaboomle?”
“As ready as I’ll ever be,” I said with a slight sigh. “Though, it’s not going to be anywhere near as explosive as you think it’ll be.”
“Hah! And how would you know? Hast thou contacted a seer? Why would you ever want to spoil such a magical time in your life?”
“It’s only magical if you make big mistakes after you leave it. For most well-adjusted people, it’s a thing you do before your life really starts.”
“Jeez, what crawled up your butt last night? Normally Zoe’s the one bringing down the mood with the realness and rawness.”
“I guess I’m just in a bit of a funk is all.”
I winced as I inadvertently used that term. Just the term ‘funk’ brought back a litany of bad memories surrounding my time in the body of Abigale Quinlan.
“Hm… well, it’s not because school’s starting— Oh, duh! You miss C, right?”
‘C’ was what Maxxie called my mother, Caroline, as she had difficulties saying her full name when she was younger, and ‘C is easy to say.’ My mother always thought it was a cute little nickname, so Maxxie kept on saying it.
“I mean, the longest I’ve gone without seeing her was a day when she went to visit relatives when I was little. So, isn’t it natural that I would miss her after she’s been gone for over a week?”
“You bet your butterscotch it is! Just ‘cos I’m more of a latchkey kid doesn’t mean I don’t get why it sucks to be all alone like that. You know, the offer to live at Casa del Flare is still open, as always.”
“‘Latchkey’ refers to when a kid returns to an empty home. Your parents are out on business for half the year, but you have a younger sibling in the form of Terra, and a caretaker in the form of Babs.”
“Ah crumbs! So that’s another word I’ve been misusing for years?”
“Yep. Add it to the list and patch your vernacular.”
“But seriously, Jad. If you want to stay with me, that’s totally cool. …Actually, are you down with coming over for dinner tonight?”
“We literally spent all of last week together Maxxie. Haven’t you had enough of me?”
“Of course not! You’re like a zero-calorie muffin that tastes like a lotsa-calorie muffin. I could eat you up all day!”
I bit my tongue as she referred to ‘eating’ me. Oh Maxxie, if only you knew…
“Okay, okay, keep your fangs where they belong, missy,” I said, emulating Maxxie’s snark. “I’ll head over to your place for dinner after school.”
“Hell to the yeah to the wrathful death bunny!”
As this conversational snippet came to a lull, Maxxie reached her second destination and arrived at Zoe Xing’s house. Zoe, as expected, was waiting for us outside and quickly entered the car. Being 1.92 meters tall, and 72 kilograms, it was only right for him to take shotgun, sitting right next to Maxxie. While I did not have the best angle to get a look at him, I could tell that he was dressed in a dark gray shirt, blue tie, and light pants. His dark hair gave off a slight shimmer, and the morning sun glared against his glasses.
Zoe, whose name was pronounced as Zō, so it sounded like Joe, foe, or mow, looked more mature than his years. His stature, professional manner of dress, and the way he composed himself often gave the impression he was in his mid-20s, despite only being 18. As his surname implies, he was half-Chinese, with his mother being a Ukrainian immigrant. From her, he received his relatively fair complexion, along with his hazel eyes.
“Good morning, you two,” Zoe said, his voice deep and relaxed.
“Morning,” I replied.
“So, how much prep work have you done, Zoe?” Maxxie asked as she resumed driving.
“For the umpteenth time, I do not review school material ahead of time, Maxxie. What the teachers choose to cover is not always determined in advance, and none of them request that I read the chapter prior to class.”
“That never made sense to me,” I interjected, “because if you are reading the book, then why do you need to even attend the class? The book has all the information inside it, and the book’s job is to present the information in a concise and understandable way. If anything, it’s more thorough than a class broken up into 42-minute intervals.”
“I was actually talking about college, but whatever,” Maxxie said. “I’m all for Mr. 3.5 GPA and Mr. 4.0 GPA dirt-talking school for the entire ride.”
“Or we could talk about anything else before we spend the next seven hours immersed in school,” I suggested.
“Anything?” Maxxie repeated in a sadistic tone.
“Anything that does not preoccupy the same circle as fetish porn,” Zoe said, rolling his eyes.
“Okay, fine… so did either of you start Bloodborne? I’m only about four bosses in, but it’s already so much better than Dark Souls 2 that it’s not even funny.”
“Are we seriously going to debate the merits of Dark Souls 2 yet again, Maxxie?” Zoe asked, clutching his temple.
“Unless you want to spin the topic wheel again, buddy!”
“Very well,” Zoe said before pausing. “…I heard that OnLive shut down this past week.”
“Wait, OnLive was still around?” I asked.
“Apparently. Sony acquired them in 2013, but it was not until this past week that they finally shut off their original service.”
“Great,” Maxxie said, her voice dripping with sarcasm.” Now instead of being able to stream games onto whatever, we can play laggy-ass PS3 games on PlayStation systems.”
“Truthfully,” Zoe began, “the lag is not because of anything Sony is doing. At least, not primarily. When communicating between a local user and data center, there will always be a slight amount of lag, and that’s before getting into infrastructural issues that prevent a service like PlayStation Now from functioning optimally.”
“Infrastructure that has become increasingly out of date, desperately needs to be upgraded, but hasn’t been due to political reasons and Telecom lobbying.” I said, reciting what I guesstimated Zoe was about to say.
“Unfortunately, that is largely true, and it is unlikely that anything will change anytime soon. Well, things might take a turn for the better depending on how the election goes next year, but I would not get my hopes up.”
“Oh snap, I just remembered that we can finally vote!” Maxxie added.
“While you can, votes are ultimately tallied by geographical region, and if the majority of the voting population around you agrees with your positions, then there is little good that one vote does.”
Before Zoe could try to explain how the electoral college works to Maxxie, again, Maxxie reached her penultimate stop and parked in front of Shiaka’s house. She came out a few seconds later, lightly jogging up to the car.
Shiaka Kurokawa was a short and tiny person, standing at 1.58 meters and weighing about 44 kilograms. From beneath her unzipped jacket, I could see the simple black and white school uniform she was wearing, with a yellow ribbon around her collar. She scooched herself into the back with me, and shot me a smile, shutting her blue eyes and brushing a hand through her straight shoulder-length blonde hair.
Based on her slightly tan complexion, many assumed that Shiaka’s blonde hair and blue eyes were the result of hair dye and contacts, but that’s not the case. Her father was Japanese and her mother was from Mexico, and they somehow had a child with both blonde hair and blue eyes. She also had, based on what Maxxie told me, C-cup breasts. A slightly above average size, but on someone like her, they both looked, and felt, a bit bigger than they should be. Genetics are weird sometimes, and Shiaka was a prime example of that.
“S-Sorry if I was late everyone,” Shiaka apologized in her soft voice.
“Relax, we’ve got plenty of time,” Maxxie said. “Because someone made me commit to a schedule.”
“I simply didn’t want to be late to first period, and Jad will testify that you do not get along well with alarm clocks,” Zoe replied.
“Hey! I was 14 the last time I broke one!” Maxxie refuted. “And that wasn’t even intentional. I just grabbed it while half-asleep, it didn’t have grippers, and it fell!”
“It must have been a very lightweight alarm clock,” Shiaka mused.
“It was,” Maxxie said, “but let’s drop this subject like that seven-dollar clock. What’s up, Shi-Shi? You’ve got a case of the high school blues?”
“Heh, hardly. If anything, I still wish that I tried to take an extra elective this semester. Aside from AP Calculus, I don’t have very much at all to give me blues… and I would never get the blues when it comes to math.”
“Jad, take a photo of the dorkus next to you, and forward it to me. I wanna preserve her innocence ‘til the end of time.”
I knew that Maxxie was probably joking, but I decided to do it anyway. I plucked my phone from my pocket and snapped a quick photo of Shiaka. She smiled as she saw that I was playing along with the bit, and I smiled in return, before sending the photo to Maxxie.
“…Ah crud,” Maxxie said as her phone vibrated. “I just realized that I probably have more drawings of you all than I do pictures. Zoe, make sure you take a photo of us after we get to school!”
“Because I have ‘long bird arms’?” Zoe replied.
“Ah, you are learning the ways of the Maxxisaurus. Very good, my young disciple!”
For the record, Maxxie was about four months older than Zoe, and Maxxie’s full legal name was Maxxisaurus Omega Flare.
“But wouldn’t the drawings have more sentimental value than photos?” Shiaka asked. “And you’ve drawn all of us at least a dozen times… even if some of them were a little weird.”
“Hell yeah, they were weird! What kind of friend would I be if I didn’t draw my friends as bugs, ponies, Sonic characters, or their Rule 63 selves?”
I gulped as I was reminded of the Rule 63 drawing she did back in 2012. I still don’t know how she made fem-Jad look so cute…
“Well, you certainly wouldn’t be the Maxxie we know and love,” Shiaka said, answering a rhetorical question.
Maxxie just laughed in response, and I couldn’t blame her. Shiaka’s attitude was truly precious at times.
“A-Anyway,” Shiaka began, “I started looking into Ren’py this past week, and I think it’s a pretty powerful tool for making visual novels.”
“WAIT! Are you finally hitting me up on my game ideas?!” Maxxie shouted.
“Erm, not quite, but I would be interested in making a visual novel with you all. I think it would be a lot of fun.”
“Shiaka,” Zoe said, “when you say these things, please include an asterisk, but, or other clause.”
“I’m going out on a limb and saying that whatever this is, it should not be any longer than two hours,” I said, adding my own asterisk.
“What? But two hours is—” Maxxie began before I cut her off.
“How far did you get in your Pokémon gijinka project? How many web comics have you started and stopped before finishing two chapters?”
“I got up to BBW Nidoqueen, and… I forget. Fine then, Mr. Novus T. Producer. Use your writer’s brain to write up a story, and I’ll lend my art to the task. BGs, CGs, and SGs.”
“…What are SGs?” Zoe asked with a modicum of fear in his voice.
“Y’know, sprite graphics. VNs have background graphics, Cinematic graphics, and sprite graphics.”
“None of those terms are correct… but I think I prefer them over the actual terms,” Shiaka replied. “BG is background and CG is computer graphic… even though every video game graphic is technically a computer graphic. While sprites are just called sprites.”
“Thanks Shiaka, but I was just messin’ with ya,” Maxxie said with a chuckle. “I know the lore p-darn well, but I’m being full-on real, we really should make a visual novel as a summer project. You’ll do the programming, Jad can do the writing, Zoe can do the grunt work, and yours truly shall do the art. Sounds like a dream team in my book!”
As the conversation reached a stopping point, Maxxie made her way into the parking lot outside of the school and found a free spot. We then shuffled out of the car and headed into the sight of Oransen High which… I still hated looking at it from this angle. It was far too easy for me to look at it and remember the state I left it in on January 1, 2015, in that other world. I suppressed this memory and my reaction as I walked toward the school… before Maxxie grabbed my arm as I neared the entrance.
“Ground control to Major Jad! Did you forget what we said we were gonna do ten minutes ago?”
I did, honestly. After making an awkward expression, I nestled up with Maxxie, Zoe, and Shiaka as they clustered together for a group photo. Maxxie threw her arms over myself and Zoe, while Shiaka slowly brought herself close to me, placing her arm around my back. I did not put my arm over her, given how hugs were still outside of her comfort zone… unless she asked for them.
Once we were all assembled, Zoe pulled out his phone and took a picture of us. It buzzed onto my phone a few seconds later and I took a moment to stare at it. To look at this symbol of the friendship that we have forged and refined throughout our school life. It filled me with a sense of happiness that I shared with these people over the years… and regret over how I’ve been acting around them.
The guilt was weighing me down yet again… but I accepted my helplessness and instead walked through the entrance along with a dozen other students, ready to go through yet another day of school. And as I walked through these doors, I began to go through the motions. Heading to my locker, hanging my jacket, putting away the books crammed into my backpack, and only taking the ones I needed for my morning classes.
Looking through these halls, full of people, brought me back to the leaked security camera footage from that fateful day in December, when these halls ran red with blood, and bodies were scattered about. I felt my composure cracking just walking through these halls, just making my way to first period, leading me to hide away in a corner, where I could at least attempt to reassure myself.
“It is just another day, Jad. Just 35 more days of classes and three days of finals. Then you’re done. Then it will be all over and you’ll be able to move past this. Things will get better. They have to.”
I thought those words were true as I said them, but… Oh, how wrong I was…
The Dominance of Abigale Quinlan Main Page
Shard 00: The Novus Logs Volumes 1 & 2
Shard 01: 108 Days Later
Shard 02: Melancholic Mundanity
Shard 03: Another Day; Another Doubt
Shard 04: Fractured Family
Shard 05: Troublesome Tuesday
Shard 06: Despair And Die
Shard 07: The Enigmatic Sickness
Shard 08: The Erotic Fantasy (Osananajimi;Myself Part 3700)
Shard 09: The Egregious Downfall
Shard 10: The Oransen High Massacre
Shard 11: The Dark Metamorphosis
Shard 12: The Dominant Reflection
Shard 13: My Life As Jadigale Novus
Shard 14: Fade Unto Dusk
Shard 15: Re;Birth Unto Jade
Shard 16: Gender Reveal Party
Shard 17: Enter The Three Wives (Psycho Bullet Festival 2222 – Bout 21-2)
Shard 18: Novus X – Ten Years Later