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 05: Troublesome Tuesday
I woke up coughing and hacking onto my pillow, spraying it with saliva. My skin was damp with sweat, my back was aching, and I felt sore all over my body. Especially my right hand. Looking at it closer, I saw that my knuckles were torn, and my fingers were bruised. As if I had been punching the wall as I slept.
I then paused as I noticed something invade my nostrils. A foul aroma that came from my sheets. It smelled as if an entire locker room’s worth of teenage boys rubbed their naked bodies onto my sheets. I frustratedly jumped out of my bed and stripped it, mashing the sheets into a carriable wad. I checked the clock, which read 6:22. I didn’t have enough time to finish a load of sheets before school, so I left them as is. However, I had enough time to shower and remove the cold sweat from my body.
I grabbed a uniform and change of underwear and made my way to the shower. As I did so… I was reminded of the nightmare I had just escaped from. After three and a half fucking months of the same fucking trauma, my stupid fucking brain had to recount one of the worst parts of my fucking life and show me becoming a monster, but in a different way. At least it was just a dream. My body was not a wretched cesspit of masculinity, and there was no fucking way I would ever let myself go like that. No fucking way I would ever become him!
“Brain, why are you so fucking stupid? Don’t you think I fucking hate myself enough already?”
I could feel my skin reddening from rage, so I made my way to the shower and got my morning started. After a one minute rinse, I rubbed the towel across my being, and thrust a fresh set of clothes on. Briefs, an undershirt, a navy dress shirt, and the standard khaki pants. But as I did so, I noticed that my damp curly hair was covering half of my ears.
I had just gotten it cut last week, it felt too short until yesterday, but now it was about my usual length? It was strange, but nothing I was too concerned about. At least… assuming that rapid hair growth wasn’t a sign of male pattern baldness or something.
From there, I went about my morning in a daze. Gathering everything I needed for school, scarfing down an apple, and waiting for Maxxie to pick me up. The pre-school conversation went as per usual, with the four of us paddling topics back and forward as they rapidly mutated over time. Of course, being in such a vicious funk over my nightmare last night, I mostly just listened.
After my breakdown last night, Maxxie knew to give me space in Psychology, and I didn’t even attempt talking to Shiaka or Zoe in study hall. Instead, I went about typing my psych notes in the corner of the library. It was a routine process, but because of my hand injury, I kept making typos. It delayed things slightly, and before I could finish, let alone move onto my homework, a monotone voice spoke to me from behind.
“How did your hair get that much longer in a single day? It must be at least 2, probably 3, centimeters longer”
I turned around my swivel chair and saw Vivi Gaimz, a hand on her chin as she leered at me.
“Your complexion also looks a bit darker. Were you outside a lot after school?”
“I went out for P.E. and I walked home from Maxxie’s, but it wasn’t exactly sunny yesterday,” I recounted, confusion in my voice.
“Did anything unusual happen to you last night?”
“Um, I got a real nasty headache when I was walking home from Maxxie’s house, but I don’t see what that would have to do with my hair growing faster than normal, or a tan.”
“Indeed, it would not,” Vivi paused as her eyes drifted to my right hand, my knuckles red and fingers still bruised.
“And what about your hand?”
“You’re awfully pushy today, you know that?” I said to Vivi, half-jokingly. “I… I’m not sure. I think I punched my wall when I was asleep last night.”
Vivi did not say anything in response. Instead, she stared at me like I was a puzzle she was trying to solve in her mind. She glared at me, as if scanning my entire being into her internal database. Then, she turned away.
“Sorry about that,” she said as she walked back to a nearby table. “Sometimes my curiosity gets the better of me.”
I finished up my notes after she left, but I couldn’t help but think about what she said. Sure, what was happening to me was weird, but it was not fantastical like the two ’adventures’ Verde sent me on. Besides, Verde had promised to leave me alone. So, what was happening to me? Who knows? Maybe it’s just some sort of late stage puberty thing. Puberty is kind of like that. Constantly throwing bullshit your way even when it seems like it’s all over.
My wandering mind left me with little time to do anything else, so I just dawdled around until Creative Writing, which was being held in a library computer lab. Today’s class tasked us with doing prompt writing, again, with the prompt this time being to ‘describe a significant event that happened in your life this past year.’
I briefly contemplated making something up, but as the screen before me taunted me with its blinking cursor, I said screw it. I began recounting my meetings with Verde Dusk, framing them as a recurring series of dreams. Given how this narrative was merely a massaged version of the truth, the words came easily, and I was able to wrap up the assignment before the end of class. The only real fabrication was how I threw in a bullshit moral about how this helped me become more confident with myself, when the opposite was true.
Once my writing was uploaded to D2L, I packed my things and left as the bell rang, heading into Strength and Conditioning. Coach Olson had my class once again doing laps, running around the track surrounding the football field while the crisp early spring air prevented me from sweating too much. Considering the miserable state I was in when I woke up, I figured I’d be slogging it for the entire period, but whatever soreness that afflicted my body had faded, and I was doing better than normal. Though, I did feel some irritation around my chest.
I didn’t dare risk Olson’s ire by pausing to check my chest while I was supposed to be exercising, because exercise is more important than health. However, I could gather that the irritation was around my nipples. They were getting chafed by the fabric of my uniform, and it felt like a rash was developing around them. I tried jamming my shirt into my shorts as I ran, hoping that would prevent my shirt from bouncing up and down, but as I did so, I crossed paths with Zoe.
“Something wrong with your uniform, Jad?” Zoe asked as we slowed our pace to talk.
“No, I’m just getting a… chest rash from it.”
“Around your nipples?”
“I… yeah… how did you know?”
“It’s a common source of irritation for athletes in general. …Plus, they’re poking out from your shirt.”
My eyes shot open as Zoe made this comment, and they darted down to my chest, where I could see my nipples making tiny indentations in my uniform. I felt my face redden as I saw this, flush with embarrassment.
“You’re wearing an undershirt, right?” Zoe asked, smiling slightly.
“Y-Yeah. And I’m pretty sure I used enough fabric softener when I did my laundry. So I don’t know why this is happening.”
“Jad, if this is really bothering you, you can always excuse yourself and head to the nurse’s office after class. Olson talks a big game, but she’s not a drill sergeant. Besides, she sees that you work hard. She likes you.”
“It… it’s not the irritation that’s bothering me that much, just the fact that… they’re still nipples. It’s embarrassing for them to be so… you know.”
“I know that this is an issue you’re sensitive about Jad, but they’re just nipples. Nipples, whether male or female, are functionally the same thing, something formed in utero, and nothing to feel ashamed or embarrassed about. There is nothing provocative or lewd about someone getting erect nipples. It is part of human biology.”
I knew that Zoe was right about this, but it was one of my dumb asexual hang-ups. One of the many reasons why I wished that I asked my mother to buy a school-branded tracksuit.
“Right, right, male nipples are just leftover bits of skin and tissue from humans as they are being developed and before they gain a sex. Afterwards, they remain as part of the chest, where they are effectively useless. Unable to serve their original functions of producing milk for children and attracting mates by serving as an, as Maxxie put it, ‘front butt’.”
“At least unless they receive the correct hormones,” Zoe added, our jogs having steadily slowed into a walk.
“Well, that’s only the case for the latter, not the former.”
“No, actually. Transwomen can produce breast milk so long as they take the proper hormones.”
“…Wait, are you serious? So anybody can produce breast milk with the right hormones?”
As we continued our conversation, we were abruptly interrupted by a familiar, albeit unpleasant, face trotting up behind us.
“The fuck are you dumbasses talking about?”
“Human biology, Yuccot. And you were not part of our conversation, so you have no reason to butt in.”
I loved Zoe, but sometimes he was too practical and forgot just how emotional some people, like Yuccot, could be.
“I’ll say whatever the fuck I want. Especially when I hear a bunch of fags talking about faggot shit. You know shit like that rots your brain, right? It’s why people who think they’re smart like killing themselves so much.”
I knew he would keep this up unless Zoe and I jogged away, but the period was almost over, and I was pretty exhausted from the run-talking we were doing, so I decided to taunt the ogre as well.
“Do you want to actually talk to us, Yuccot? Or do you just want to have someone listen to you?” I asked before letting out a sigh.
“Oh, you think you’re so fucking cool, don’tcha?”
“No, actually. I don’t. I don’t care, and I know that not caring does not make me cool. Unlike you, we’re actually content with ourselves, because we haven’t lived a life of relentless failure.”
Zoe looked at me with surprise at the extremity of my language. I knew I was asking for trouble, but I felt the need to vent my frustrations somehow.
“The fuck you know about my life?”
“More than I want to know,” I said, breaking out into a jog again.
“What does that mean?”
I could feel the frustration in Yuccot’s voice and, rather than prod him further, I remained silent as I heard him simmer. He shouted louder and louder, while Zoe and I left him in our metaphorical dust.
“…Do you know something about Yuccot that I don’t?” Zoe asked with genuine curiosity.
“Let’s just say that I had a run-in with his father once, and we’re lucky that Yuccot’s an idiot.”
I could tell that Zoe was hungry for more information than my vagaries, but Olson’s whistle called us back to the main building before he could ask. Though, as should have been no surprise, Zoe made it a point to bring this up once we made it to room 1337 for lunch. When I not only had to bounce off him, but Maxxie and Shiaka as well.
“So, what was that about having met Yuccot’s father?” Zoe asked before biting into his sandwich.
“Huh,” Maxxie mumbled, food still in her mouth. “I always assumed that Yuccot didn’t have a dad, or at least an absent father.”
I paused when presented with this question. During my second ‘adventure,’ Raiyne brought me to the military facility 150 kilometers away from Oransen. There, I met with a man named Dick Kikansky. A brutal man who abused Raiyne, shot me, and said that I killed his son, Yuccot. I had done research in the past few months, confirming that Dick Kikansky is still a high-ranking military officer, and that this military facility still existed.
With a sigh, I looked up ‘Dick Kikansky’ on my phone, quickly found a photo of him in a military uniform, and presented this image to my friends.
“His name’s Dick Kikansky. He’s been in the military for a long time, and whatever skill he has in battle does not translate to fathering a child.”
“Have you… ever met him, Jad?” Shiaka asked.
I had become adept at obfuscating the truth— surrounding a kernel of truth with layers of bullshit— since Christmas. Accordingly, I was able to quickly formulate a satisfactory answer.
“I fell down an internet rabbit hole one night, learned about General Kikansky, saw a video of him, it may or may not still be up, and he seemed like a massive asshole. So it’s no surprise that he raised someone like Yuccot. The only surprising thing is that he didn’t send Yuccot to boot camp or something. I hate to say it, but… that would probably be good for someone like him.”
Right as my friends stewed on my words, I let out an exaggerated yawn, suppressing my mouth with my elbow.
“Uh-oh. Looks like someone stayed up past his bedtime,” Maxxie quipped as she shot me a smile.
“Actually, comma, I went to bed at 21:00 last night, so I got over nine hours of sleep. It just happened to be crappy sleep.” I explained before letting out another yawn.
“Is everything alright, Jad?” Shiaka asked, scooting her chair closer to me.
“Yeah, yeah. I’m just in a weird headspace, that’s all. I’ll get out of it sooner than later.”
As I said that, Maxxie, Shiaka, and Zoe all looked at each other for a fraction of a second, before returning their eyes to me.
My friends were not stupid. They were all brilliant in their own way, so they knew that something was up with me. That something had been up with me for the past three and a half months. Maxxie had tried at first, holding a faux intervention with me back in January, but when I refused to talk, she let the matter rest, wanting me to take my time. They had all been patient, pieced together little bits where they could, and let me have my space… but I still felt like a piece of shit for not telling them the truth.
As lunch ended, and study hall two began, I chose not to continue my text-based role-play adventure with Maxxie. Instead, I found an unoccupied corner computer and began writing out what happened… or at least I tried to. I wrote, wrote, and wrote, but the words were never right, they all sounded wrong, and I was left with a scattering of half-paragraphs and concepts lining three pages, too disorganized to even try to forge an outline.
Soon enough, the bell rang, thrusting me into my afternoon classes, where I cast my worries aside and indulged myself in math. Or rather, math and accounting. Though, I always considered accounting to just be a practical subset of math.
Sadly, I got strapped with enough homework to keep me busy during my ninth period study hall, meaning that the only progress I made in confessing the truth during school was a series of incoherent notes. With this failure stewing in my mind, I gathered amongst my friends again, chatted with them, and Maxxie dropped me off at my home. But as I left the car, she followed me.
“Jad, I just want you to know that no matter—”
I cut her off as I threw my arms around her, hugging her.
“I know I have been acting weird, Maxxie. I have been for too long. And… I’m still trying to find the words. I’ll work on it tonight and… hopefully I can tell you all sometime this weekend.”
I shot her a smile, the most honest smile I could manage, and she smiled back at me.
“Just remember that they don’t need to be the best words, Jad. You’re a good writer but, no matter how you phrase it, how you word it, you will always be my friend, and I will always love you.”
Maxxie then nuzzled herself away from me and brought her right index finger to my face. She pressed the finger against my right and left cheeks, alternating between them, before planting a kiss on my forehead, all while saying “poke-a poke-a puu I love you.”
It was something my mother used to do to cheer me up when I was a little kid, and now, with my mother away, it was a technique Maxxie adopted as her own. If anyone else did this, I might have felt infantilized, but with Maxxie, I could tell that this was just her way of showing how much she cared for me. Enough to remember a gesture and phrase with no purpose other than cheering me up.
Maxxie then went back into her car and drove away, while I went into my house. Once inside, I went about my usual rituals, washing my face, using the toilet, and then changing into my sleeping clothes, because my uniform was dirty with school germs. Maxxie was okay with school germs in her house, but my mother wasn’t. Hell, my mother was so anti-germ that I actually kept four changes of clothes for Maxxie in my closet. Two for summer and two for winter.
Anyway, after a few seconds in my room, I was reminded of the mound of sheets I had to wash. With a sigh, I grabbed the sheets and carried them downstairs into the basement. It was something I had done hundreds of times over the years, without thinking about it. Yet, as I pushed myself down the basement steps, I felt something twist in my stomach, bursting upward and out of my mouth.
With only a second’s notice, I fell backwards, planting my butt on the stairs, and vomited directly into the wad of sheets between my arms. I only had my lunch in my stomach, so there wasn’t much barf to speak of, and none of it sprayed onto my clothes, but that did little to comfort the confusion, disgust, and frustration that filled my mind. Let alone the burning sensation assaulting my throat.
I grumbled as I stood up and trudged downstairs, smelling and staring at my half-digested lunch as I made my way to the laundry room. There, I threw them into the sink, and began dousing them with cold water. Once all signs of puke had been rinsed out, I threw them into the washing machine.
With one dirty task completed, I brought my mouth to the sink, where I drank the unfiltered water. It tasted like metal, but it was good enough to clear the vomit from my face and ease the burning sensation in my throat. Only then did I get the sheets started, and only after that did I sit down and ask myself some questions about what the fuck is going on with me.
I was confused, I felt like garbage, but before I could mull over matters further, my phone vibrated from within my pants pocket. Pulling it out revealed that my mother was calling me, and that it was 16:12.
“Hello Mother,” I answered, my voice hoarse.
“Jad, are you okay? You don’t sound right.” My mother answered, her voice wracked with concern.
“I… just threw up.”
“Oh goodness, did you eat anything strange?”
“No. Just rice, chickpeas, zucchini, tomato, canola oil, vinegar.”
“Hm… I guess it could have been some bad produce, but that is very strange. Are you feeling alright though?”
“Well… no, not really. Last night, I had a nasty headache while I was walking home. I woke up sore and covered in sweat. My hair grew… three centimeters in a single day. And my… nipples were irritated while in gym today.”
“Jad, sweetie, I want you to take it easy tonight. Go to bed early, only eat simple things— remember, bananas, rice, applesauce, and toast— If you aren’t feeling 100% in the morning, I do not want you going to school. Go to the immediate care place on Greenvale Road and see what the doctor recommends. Remember to bring your state ID and insurance card. Even if you ‘feel fine’ in the afternoon, do not go to school. Understood?”
“I take it I should also have a vitamin drink once my stomach settles and drink lots of water?”
“You know it,” my mother said, adopting a chipper tone. “Look, I know that it sucks that you are missing out on getting your perfect attendance and that bike—”
“The ‘free bike for kids who got perfect attendance’ program was only in middle school, Mother. There’s no special prize for getting perfect attendance in Oransen High.”
“Right, right. Just don’t push yourself too much, and I’m sorry I’m not there for you. Oh, and I think we still have some of that bean soup mix in the pantry.”
“Mother, we have enough food in this house to last me a month. I’ll be fine.”
“I know, I know, but—”
“You’ll always be my mother, and you’ll always worry about me?”
“—You’ll always be my kid, and I will always worry about you.”
“Heh,” I snickered. “Okay, Mother. I’ll give you a call tomorrow morning and if I don’t feel 100%, I’ll call the school, take a sick day, and head to the immediate care place. Sounds good?”
“Sounds great sweetie. Hope you feel better, and don’t be afraid to call me, even if it’s 3 in the morning.”
With that, my mother hung up, and I was sent back to my current reality. Where my throat was still hoarse,my stomach was emptied, and my sheets still needed 50 minutes to wash and 30 minutes to dry.
I groaned as I rubbed my tongue across my mouth, and headed to the kitchen and later my bedroom as I followed my mother’s advice. I ate a toasted almond butter banana sandwich for dinner, drank a full bottle of water, stirred up a generic brand multivitamin drink, and relaxed at my computer as I ate. Then, finally, I brought myself into the bathroom for my second shower of the day. It was all a slight remix on my usual routine, but I found myself getting lightheaded as I washed my body.
Once I was finished, I took the shower squeegee to the bathroom mirror to look at myself. My face looked relatively normal, even if I wasn’t quite as pale as I normally was, but looking down at my chest, it seemed like my stomach was protruding.
Putting a hand against my stomach, it felt like it could be swollen or inflamed, but I wasn’t sure. I wasn’t sure about anything. Though, I figured that bedrest was probably the best way to get rid of whatever ailment I picked up.
“Right, spring break was last week,” I said out loud as I examined my condition. “Someone probably picked up some illness while traveling and brought it to Oransen High.”
It was the most likely explanation, and the one I carried with me as I carefully made my way up and down the stairs to retrieve my dried sheets. Fatigue returned to my person as I made my bed, and I immediately thrust myself under the covers.
It was only 18:20, so I was in one of those awful situations where I wanted to go to sleep, but I had just slept for nearly 10 hours the night prior. Meaning that I just laid down in my bed and began going through a cycle of shutting my eyes for several minutes, getting a sip of water, and mulling over whatever topics my brain greeted me with. And my brain, the asshole that it is, decided to pull the depression lever and force me to relive something I had tried to repress for nearly five months.
When I was going on my body swapping adventure with my friends, I had a revelation about myself. That I was not happy with myself as a person. That, next to my friends, I was useless. Bereft of value or worth. Maxxie reassured me as I told her of my anxiety, while Verde told me that I needed to do something about it. That this feeling would fester and grow if left unaddressed. I had to change my life to make myself happier. I tried to do that by writing more, learning more practical skills, and so forth.
But now… I still felt like the quantifiably, or objectively, lowest-worth person in my group of friends. Maxxie is a brilliant artist and has a rich personality. Zoe is mature and wise beyond his years, carving his own path of greatness. Shiaka’s technical skills guarantee she will either live in a comfortable position, or be given the ability to craft something truly spectacular. While Terra… is so brave for pursuing who she truly is at such a young age, and if she has that level of ambition, there’s no telling what she’ll be pursuing by the time she’s an adult.
Compared to them… what am I? I am loved, I am stable, but they are all exceptional, while I am merely average. They all have bright futures ahead of them, and next to such radiance, what am I?
As I mulled over this dismal topic, my thoughts became hazy and my attention waned, before my eyes finally remained sealed and I drifted to sleep. Though, much like every night, sleep did not bring me tranquility. Instead, it manifested my anxieties, regrets, and failures into another reality.
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