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7 Deadly Roommates

Ver 1.0.2


George Saoulidis



Smashwords Edition

Copyright © 2018 George Saoulidis

All rights reserved.

Published by Mythography Studios

Cover image credit: Kinga Cichewicz

This is a work of fiction. Any resemblance with actual people and situations is purely coincidental.



Smashwords Edition, License Notes

This ebook is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This ebook may not be re-sold or given away to other people. If you would like to share this book with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each recipient. If you’re reading this book and did not purchase it, or it was not purchased for your use only, then please return to Smashwords.com or your favorite retailer and purchase your own copy. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.







Dedicated to the women in my life that have tried to put me on the right path.

















Chapter 1: Horace


Horace couldn’t handle life any more.

“And get the fuck out of my sight, you good-for-nothing temp!” the man screamed in his face. The man, in this case, as in, the man. His boss.

It was the final straw. He quickly threw his personal things in a box and promptly emptied his office space.

“Are you gonna just let him talk to you like that?” a female voice said next to him.

He spun around, still shoving things in his box. She was gorgeous, with a perfect neckline that she made sure to show by raising her nose high. “What? Who are you?”

“I’m Superbia. Now, back to our topic. Are you just gonna let him talk to you like that? The boss? He fired you already, didn’t he? Why are you taking it like a pussy?” She twirled a finger in the air, as if pointing at the whole situation.

He leaned on the box. “I’m sorry lady, I haven’t seen you here before. You must be new. If you are, I’m deeply sorry for you but I hope you get more out of this hellhole than I had. Now, as for you calling me a pussy...”

She had full, red lips. She popped them, breathing out and repeating the word, “Pussy.”

“Now look here you-”

“Oh, look, there’s some spine left in you after all. Now point that thing where you should.” She deflected his comeback and pointed a manicured finger at the boss’s office.

Horace had no clue what was happening. What he did know was that the pretty, annoying lady had a point. What was he so afraid of? Getting fired again? Getting yelled at? The boss had terrorised his existence for so long that he might as well be a pussy.

No.

Horace squeezed his fists and stormed into the boss’s office.

He stood up, holding a phone in hand. “Are you still here? Horace Cadmus, since you’re too thick to get this through your skull: You’ve been fired!”

He turned back to the phone, thinking the matter over.

Horace swallowed and stepped forward, then pressed the phone’s button to end the call.

“What are- Horace! That was an important phone call-”

“I want a letter of recommendation from you.” Horace said calmly, and planted his feet.

His former boss chuckled. “A letter of recommendation? I wouldn’t recommend you as a plug to my waste management service. If I told you to stay there and keep the shit in with your worthless carcass, you’d find a way to spray them all over the place.”

It wasn’t funny. It was just mean, and not even clever, as comebacks went. Horace gritted his teeth and didn’t budge.

“Get the fuck out of my sight before I call security,” the boss waved him away, pressing numbers for a call.

Horace wavered. He was about to leave. He had given his last stand, right?

He saw the pretty blonde sitting on top of his desk, going through his things, chuckling with what she found. He knew exactly what she was laughing about. It was his action figures. They were toys, but Horace liked to keep them around. Especially the female ones.

Horace pressed the button and cancelled his ex-boss’s call again.

He was furious. “Now, you worthless shit, I’ll kick you out myself!”

“I’m gonna tell people about Evie.”

The boss’s wrath evaporated. He mumbled a few sentences, then hurried and shut the door. “There’s nothing to tell. You’re bluffing.”

“Oh, there is. You see, I’m friends with Evie, and she told me everything. Not that she needed to, I have eyes. I saw your sexual advances. But I have your dickpics here, the ones you sent her.”

The boss went pale. He sat down on his big-boss chair.

Horace swiped his phone and logged into Evie’s Agora account. “I have her password. She won’t mind me doing this, actually, I believe it will lift a weight off of her. There you go, nice and hairy.”

The boss recognised the picture. It was what he saw every day as he looked down and relieved himself.

“Timestamped and everything. Proof of sexual advances during the time she was working here, in which you made her life a living hell. Do I really need to spell out sexual harassment for you? Wait, this is very selfish of me!” Horace tapped his finger on the side of his mouth. “I’m only thinking of myself. Make those two letters of recommendation, one for me, one for Evie. She’s been out of work for two months now, the poor girl has been to fifty interviews already and no luck.”

The boss cleared his throat but otherwise stared, wide-eyed.

Horace leaned forward, propping himself up on the desk by his arms. “I don’t see you writing,” he said, snarling the words.
















Chapter 2: Horace


Having nothing to do and being on the other side of Athens, Horace went to a cafe and plopped himself down opposite his box. He ordered a vodka instead of a coffee, because his nerves were shot.

He still couldn’t believe what he had done. This was so out of character for him. He read and reread the printed letters of recommendation for him and Evie. Glowing words for the both of them, signed by the boss himself.

His vodka lime came and he downed it in a single chug. It gave him a slight buzz, but that was exactly what he needed right now.

“Not a pussy, then,” a familiar voice came from behind.

He turned around, and found the same lady from before, sipping a latte on the table behind him. And it seemed like she had been there for quite some time.

Horace squinted at her. “Thanks for the kick in the balls, but who are you?”

She sighed but she looked more sexy than annoyed. “Superbia Hyperephania. Call me Superbia. And I don’t take shit from anyone.”

“No, you wouldn’t. I’m Horace. Cadmus. As in call me Horace, and my last name is Cadmus,” he stuttered.

“Okay then, Horace, why don’t you join me at my table?” She seemed very inviting and... well, hot.

“We barely know each other,” Horace complained weakly.

She waved it away. “Oh, Horace, we’ve fought a corporate minion today and won! You should be delighted. Come celebrate with me.”

He thought about it for a second, then picked up his box and his glass of water and sat across Superbia. He caught her smiling at the box but decided to let it go. She had prodded him to stand up for himself, after all. Gosh, he still couldn’t believe it.

“Another vodka? Or not, let’s not make Gula happy this early.”

“Who?”

She clicked her tongue. “You’ll see. Now, Horace, let me give you my token. Download the app so you can collect it.”

Horace frowned at that. “The what? No, lady, you don’t need to give me anything.”

“Download the Evil Thoughts app, please.”

He shook his head, but curiosity got the better of him. He located the app, which was real much to his surprise, and tapped the button to install it. It popped up a Terms Of Service legalese sheet which Horace instantly accepted with his thumb. It took a minute or so to finish, during which he took the time to look more closely at the woman. She was dressed in a violet skirt suit, which despite being modest drew plenty of attention to her lovely legs. She had perfect blonde hair, full lips and makeup that turned her blue eyes magnetic.

If this day hadn’t been so weird, he’d have time to question why such a gorgeous woman would give him the time of day.

The app glinged and he opened it, pointing his phone at Superbia.

Hovering between them was an Augmented Reality Object, semi-transparent and visible to anyone with an AR app. It was indeed something like a token, with the word pride written in Greek on it, ΥΠΕΡΗΦΑΝΙΑ.

“What am I supposed to do with it?” Horace asked, scratching his nose.

“Take it. It’s yours, you’ve earned it.” Superbia seemed real proud for the entire thing.

“Okay,” Horace shrugged and tapped on the app. The token was collected and he saw it increasing a counter, one of seven. “I don’t understand, Superbia, what is this? A video game, what?”

“It is a game of sorts, but the stakes are much higher,” she said meaningfully. She added with a deeper voice, “And so are the rewards.” She swapped her crossed legs and gave him a full Basic Instinct.

Horace gulped. He lost his words for a while. “I-I don’t understand, the token, you, anything.”

She raised her head, practically staring down at him. “You, Horace Cadmus, are to go through the Evil Thoughts test. Many, many mortals have gone through it but few have survived. The dangers are great but so are the rewards, as I said earlier. You will meet my sisters and we will help you along with your life, nudging you in the right direction. Should you manage to satisfy all seven of us and pass the test, you will be amongst the few men who have achieved their dreams.”

Horace went through a dozen of emotions. He frowned, he winced, he smiled, he gritted his teeth, he leered at her legs, he rubbed his face.

Finally, he stood up and said, “You, lady, are nuts. Goodbye.” He picked up his box and left the cafe.















Chapter 3: Horace


“So, I needed to come clean with you immediately, in case you got an email about unauthorised logins to devices or anything,” Horace said, waving his arms around.

“It’s okay,” Evie shrugged, hugging her legs on the bed. She was in her floral pyjamas and looked unkempt, but Horace still thought she looked pretty. She was a very cute black girl, the only one he ever knew, really, with a round face and lots of curly hair in browns and golden hues. “I know you didn’t do anything else. Though I should change my password at some point, I think I’ve used it elsewhere too.”

“You really should.”

Her apartment was small, made for a single person to live in. One room, some separation from the kitchenette/table/entry hall and a tiny bathroom with a shower. The laundry machine was the dominant piece in said bathroom, and Horace had to bend sideways every time needed to pee.

Horace’s eye went for the illustrations she had printed out. They were fantasy ladies, clad in armour, wielding weapons or staffs that glowed with energy, riding dragons or standing at the top of a pile of fallen skeletons. He found it funny that he had converted her to the dark side. Couple of years ago Evie would consider all this stupid, and would say so out loud and at every opportunity. But when he finally found the perfect game for her she dove in and absolutely loved it. It was a fantasy game where she played a powerful queen, slaying enemies, gathering up more magical power, dressing up in fabulous gear with exquisite detail.

It was the first epic drop she got from the game that she printed out, and it hung there on the wall. There were many more after that, in a progression typical of all role-playing-games on the computer. Bigger, bulkier, shinier, you could see with a single turn of your gaze her character’s progression in the game from a lowly princess to a powerful queen and finally an awe-inspiring empress.

Horace hadn’t seen the latest printouts, they must have been new. After all, he had no time to play online with her and she had.

She must have noticed him looking around and she became self-conscious. “Um, sorry for the mess,” she said, her throat dry.

“Puh-lease. I’m a bachelor. This is way better than mine. Anyway, here’s the letter.”

His friend accepted it, sniffing as she read. Her eyes widened. “Wow! How did you manage that?”

Horace shrugged. “I blackmailed him.”

“Hooo- what now?” she glared. “Damn, shoulda been there to see that. Nice work, Horace!” She punched him on the shoulder.

“Nah, why would you ever wanna walk back to that depressing place? I hope it helps a bit.”

“It will, Horace. Thanks,” Evie said sincerely. “Not that I’m not happy about it, but this whole thing, standing up for yourself, it’s very uncharacteristic of you.” She waved towards him, then quickly added, “Not that I’m complaining.”

Horace rubbed his neck. “Yeah, it was weird, actually. There was this strange woman at the office which I’ve never met before, um... Superbia. Weird name, I know. And she kinda prodded me to stand up for myself. And I did. And then I went for a coffee to calm down ‘cause my heart was pounding and I couldn’t believe what I’d done myself, and there she was again.”

“Wait,” Evie interrupted with a palm up, “she stalked you? How far?”

“Eh... Not that far, it wasn’t the cafe down the corner ‘cause I didn’t wanna stumble on anyone from work. So I walked a couple of blocks, at least, then just sat down at the first cafe I saw. It was definitely not within ‘grabbing a cup and going back to work’ range, but not by far.”

“And what did she say?” Evie asked, seeming interested. “And was she hot?” she raised an eyebrow.

He chuckled nervously. “Yeah, she was hot. She said the weirdest things. She had me download an app, then gave me an AR token with the word pride written on it in Greek, then she went on and on about some deal and success and danger. I had enough of her at that point and told her she was nuts and stormed off.”

Evie chuckled. “Ballsy. I’d never imagine you doing what you described.”

“I’m telling the truth, Evie.”

“I believe you. That’s why I’m saying I’d never expect this from you. It’s cool.” She stood up. “Want some orange juice?”

“Sure.”

She brought orange juice and it was nice and cool. It had been a warm day and Horace was after all chugging his box along in the heat of the metro. Evie lived in the centre, at Pangrati. It was close enough to make commute bearable wherever she might find work. Horace, on the other hand, had to endure at least an hour of commute-time and two or three mass transit swaps to get anywhere.

Oh, well.

She had a small fan blowing a bit of air from the window. It barely did anything and it had seen better days.

“Is it too hot? Want me to put on the air conditioner? I’m saving up but with you here I can spare it.”

“No, I’m heading home anyway. This is chilly enough, thanks. Got any interviews lined up?”

A sore subject. She looked away, pulling her legs close to her body. “No... I have one next week. I went and applied for unemployment benefits yesterday, when that clears I’ll be fine for a while. Well, for a couple of months if I stretch out expenses.”

“It’s okay, something will come up.” He hesitated, then repeated his invitation. “You know you can always crash with me if things get tight, right?”

She gave him a tight smile and nodded.

“Anyway, Evie, I’m off. Just wanted to come over and see what you’re doing, and to give you the letter of recommendation. Good luck with the job hunting! To the both of us.”

She greeted him off at the door, nodding away and folding her arms to her chest.

Horace left, but he kept thinking about his friend. She looked vulnerable, and the male part of his brain wanted to protect her and take care of her. But who was he kidding? He was in no position to take care of anyone, not even himself.

He took the long commute north, back towards home.















Chapter 4: Superbia


“What did you think of him?” the rich woman said.

The blonde replied, “I’m not sure yet. He has potential, but it remains to be seen.

The top-floor restaurant overlooking the Parthenon was one of the finest in Plaka. A waiter poured more champagne in their glasses and they clinked them together, just a slight tap, like ladies.

“Here’s to a good one, then,” the rich woman said. She wiped the edge of her mouth with a fancy cloth napkin, and breathed in as if preparing herself for something. “Did you get him to agree to the terms?”

The blonde grinned. “He didn’t even glance at them, he agreed on the spot.”

“Excellent, my dear,” the rich woman said with restrained joy.

“I’m certain our sisters are on their way to him as we speak.”

The rich woman looked up, thinking. Her golden jewelry tingled as she moved her neck. “I have this image in my mind of Acedia running towards him.”

“Well, she might run indeed, so that she may have more time sitting around and doing nothing.”

The rich woman chuckled at that. “Good one. Actually, I wouldn’t put it past her. She really does have strange motivations. Or lack thereof.” She picked up her ridiculously expensive clutch and fished out her credit card. With a slight wave, the waiter strode close and took it, going off to complete the payment.

“Why do you always come here before a job?”

The rich woman glanced at the ancient temple atop the Acropolis hill. She gave it some introspection. “It... grounds me. Helps me remember who we are.”

The blonde grunted and nodded, apparently satisfied with the answer.

“Not to mention that this is the last bit of luxury I can enjoy for a long while,” the rich woman said, taking in the champagne’s aroma.















Chapter 5: Horace


Horace queued to get through the automatic gates at the metro station. He juggled his box of things and his electronic pass in his hands. As he was about to swipe and go through, a large man cut him off and swiped instead, walking in front of him. Horace found it rude but let it go, and harrumphed as he balanced his step through the narrow gates.

He waited for a bit, and his arms got tired. He looked around and the only place to sit on was on the bench, right next to the large man. Now that Horace had the chance to take a look at him, he was the bodybuilder/asshole kind of person. Tight t-shirt over bloated muscles, dyed hair according to the latest fashion, tattoos, skinny jeans. He also rolled a komboloi in his hand, a circle of thread with beads in it, a traditional Greek alternative to a stress ball.

Horace had no beef with the guy, so he sat down next to him. The seats were tight, and it was as if the man felt obligated to claim his space for he stretched and turned and slowly pushed Horace to the side. Horace tsked but said nothing.

After a few minutes, the metro came. He got inside and stood in the middle of the compartment, putting his box on the floor, making sure it was out of the way.

Horace looked outside and his mind wandered. He didn’t realise that the large man had leaned down and grabbed one of his action figures from the box. It depicted a female warrior from a game, Horace only liked female action figures, and she was particularly buxom and wearing a skimpy outfit.

“What’s this? Jerk-off material? Playing with dolls, are you?” the large man said, waving it around.

Horace blushed with shame and he felt his blood boil. He didn’t want to confront another person this day. Actually, he didn’t want to confront another person this year, his quota had been used up. Not to mention that the large man was a head taller and about twenty kilos heavier, and they were all muscles. “Please, give me my action figure.”

“This thing?” the large man smiled but he wasn’t friendly.

“Yes. It’s mine. Please give it back.” He waited with a palm up.

“Want your doll back?” the large man said slowly.

“Yes- What? No, it’s not a doll. It’s an action figure, and it’s a collectible. Please, give it back.”

Horace didn’t want to confront the large man in this confined space. He waited and was ready for anything.

But he wasn’t ready for an elbow in his ribs. “Ow!” he started, stepping back. It came from below. A short woman stood there, frowning at him. She had black hair that poked around her head in angry short curls, an angry face on a head that was slightly larger than it should be for her height, and angry arms that were thicker than Horace’s. She definitely had dwarfism, Horace could tell from the proportions of her head and her limbs compared to her body.

“Aren’t you gonna fight back?” she asked, slapping her fist inside her tiny, but very powerful-looking palm.

Horace had no clue how to answer that. “I have no clue how to answer that,” he said, staring at her, mouth open. “Fight who? You?”

“Not me, you idiot! But I wouldn’t mind going a few rounds with you. You look like a bleeder, it will be fun. No, I’m talking about this pile of meat over here. Punch him in the groin.”

“What? No, why?” Horace said, shaking his head.

“He took something from you, didn’t he?”

“Yes...”

“So punch him and take it back!” she said, slapping her fist in her palm again and making Horace jerk back.

“I will not do that,” Horace said, as calmly as he could. What was it with this day and insane women telling him what to do?”

“Of course you wouldn’t.” She waved him away with her small hand. “If you were ready, we wouldn’t be here, would we? Okay, fine, don’t punch him in the groin, even though it’s nice and exposed like that. Then at least, get back what he took from you.”

The large man wasn’t paying attention. He was checking out the breasts on the action figure and showing it to people around, chuckling and pointing at Horace.

That was rude.

Horace balled his fists but kept calm. He decided to deflate the situation with cunning instead. Digging his hand into the box, he pulled up two more action figures, one that was a cat lady, still busty, and another of a witch. He presented them to the large man. “Here, you seem to like playing with my dolls. Have some more.”

The large man frowned down at him and then threw the action figure at Horace’s chest. It bounced off and fell on the floor. Horace wanted nothing more than to pick up his collectible action figure from the dirty mass-transit floor, but managed to stay still.

The large man grunted and stepped away, suddenly engrossed in his phone.

Horace picked up the action figure and placed it back in the box.

The short lady put her arms on her waist and frowned some more at him. “Hmm. Not what I would have done, but it was a confrontation nonetheless. Don’t let anyone say I cheated ya. Here, grab my token.”

Horace squinted at her and was about to ask what the fuck she was talking about, but then remembered the app. No way! This was nuts. He was nuts? Perhaps. He fished out his phone and opened the Evil Thoughts app, pointing it at the lady dwarf. There was indeed a token hovering in the air before her, spinning slowly just like before. It said wrath in Greek, ΟΡΓΗ.

“Seriously, lady, what the fuck is happening here? Did you follow me around?”

She laughed whole-heartedly and slapped him on the shoulder. It stung, it seriously did. She was very strong. “You’re funny. We’re gonna have a blast.”

“We? How? Do I know you?” He looked her up and down, even if that distance wasn’t that much to cover. She wore a plain red dress and brown moccasins that were more suited for a man. The hair was like a black mop on top, and she was somewhat average in beauty, barely touching the level of pretty if he had time to get used to her. Nope, he’d never met the crazy woman before in his life.

“This is your stop, ain’t it?” she said, and before he could actually look up and check he got kicked out, literally kicked out the coach’s doors by the dwarf lady.

He stumbled and looked back, her short leg still in the air.

The doors closed and she waved him off as she left the station, sliding to the left.

He looked around. Nope, he wasn’t in the right stop, it was one too early. The metro stopped at Kifisia station anyway, it was the end of the line, that was why we never paid attention while returning home.

He grabbed the box better and started walking home, basically going along the tracks. He could wait for the next train but he was too angry to wait. He was gonna pace up and down anyway so he might as well pace towards home. It was hot and he got sweaty.

Why were these things happening to him? Did he have a bull’s-eye in his back or something? He seemed to be on the receiving end of crap such as this for as long as he could remember. The same way some guys had a don’t-fuck-with-me face, Horace seemed to have a sucker-here face.

He put one foot after another and walked towards home. The last two stations weren’t that far away after all, and the setting sun between the trees made it cool and nice to walk about.















Chapter 6: Horace


Horace had enough for one day. Getting fired, meeting with weird women, confronting not one but two scary people, not to mention the heat. He was panting and sweaty and the front door to his apartment building seemed like an oasis.

Sure, he was unemployed now. But that was a problem for later.

He walked up the stairs, it was only the first floor and he didn’t wanna wait for the elevator. He fumbled with the box, again, found his keys and got inside.

His apartment was big, too big for a bachelor living alone.. Of course, he could never afford it on his own. It was his parents’ house, the one he grew up in. His parents had gone to visit some family in Australia for a prolonged summer in the winter, since seasons are swapped there, and decided to stay.

No really, they went there, loved the place, said, ‘What the heck, we’re retired anyway,’ and asked him to ship off some of their belongings to them.

So he was left alone in a three-bedroom apartment in northern Athens. The area was called Kifisia and it was one of the prominent ones, but it was way too far away for the daily commute down to central Athens. The mass transit was frequent but as with everything in Greece, you couldn’t really rely on it to be on time. Horace usually spent at least one hour, maybe an hour and a half back and forth every day. And that was on the days with proper service, because the frequent strikes by the bus or the metro drivers were creating new and exciting obstacles for him to overcome.

That was Greece for you.

He put the box down which had soaked sweat from his wrists where he held it. He kicked off his shoes, a habit from a lifetime of having his mother drill good manners into him. And he went straight for the kitchen, poured a cool glass of water and downed it all. In the same motion while chugging water, he spread his arm to unlatch the window and let some of the afternoon breeze in.

He found it open.

Had he forgotten it? That was stupid, Horace. The apartment was old but burglaries were pretty common around these parts, and couldn’t afford the fancy home alarm system.

Shrugging and making a mental note to check the balconies and the windows before going out, he opened the fridge. The chilly air felt nice on his cheek.

“There’s no more lemonade. You should go for another grocery run,” a tired voice said from the living room.

Horace nodded in agreement.

Then he froze in shock, because he remembered he lived alone.

He turned towards the living room and walked like a cat, stepping softly with his socks. He looked around for something he could use as a weapon. He had an ornamental dagger from some old videogame. It was flimsy, but the burglar didn’t know that. Putting one foot in front of another, he carefully approached the living room and peeked inside.

The TV was on. Indeed, cans of lemonade were thrown all over the place.

Someone was sitting on his sofa.

A female someone.

He looked behind him, then tension lifted from his shoulders. Putting his back towards the wall so he couldn’t be surprised by anyone else who might be inside, he walked in the living room carrying a fantasy dagger.

“Who the fuck are you?” he squeaked, a lot higher in pitch than he’d like. He cleared his throat and repeated the question deeply, like a man. “I mean, who are you?”

The woman turned slowly to him. She had droopy eyelids, she looked like he had interrupted her nap. How rude of him. She wore light blue pyjamas that had lumps of thread from the excessive use. They looked comfy and soft, and Horace was certain Evie would like them. She had a blanket on her feet and was sitting comfortably, coiled on his sofa. She was platinum blonde, and very thin. Her motions were veeery slooow, and her voice sounded faraway, like Luna’s from the Harry Potter movies. “Hello Horace. I’m Acedia. Nice to meet you,” she said and smiled slowly at him.

Horace realised he was threatening a skinny girl with a knife, so he pointed it away. But she had after all broken into his home. He then noticed the light blue travel bag next to her. “Yes, nice to meet you, Acedia, whatever. Why are you in my house?”

“I’m going to live here with you,” she said matter-of-factly.

“What?”

“Oh, excuse me, sometimes I speak too softly. I said, I’m-”

“No, I heard you. I said ‘what’ as in ‘why?’”

“Oh, wow. It’s part of the Terms of Service you agreed to.” She slowly turned to the TV, as if the matter was resolved.

Horace dropped the dagger on the coffee table and walked between her and the TV. “What terms are those?”

“Horace,” she tsked slowly three times, “you really should read those things. You never know what you might have agreed to.”

“You mean that app?” he asked, frantic, looking for his phone in his pocket.

“Yes!” she said with the minute excitement her eyes could muster.

He found the app and went through the terms of service, scrolling wildly.

“Let me help you with that. It says that the mortal, from hereon named user, agrees to provide lodging and all necessary amenities in exchange for guidance.”

“What sort of guidance is that?”

She chortled slowly. Then she stood up and it was like watching a glacier come towards you. When she finally closed the distance, she touched his temple with her bony finger. “Thought guidance, of course.”

Her eyes were light blue and he lost his train of thought for a minute as he felt her presence so close to him. The Acedia slowly walked back to her spot and made herself comfortable.

On. His. Sofa.

“Look, lady, I don’t know what sort of prank you and the other ladies are pulling here...”

“No prank. I’m staying. Now scoot over, I’m watching this show and the remote is too far away for me to rewind it.”

Horace stepped aside, then looked at the remote. Then at her. Then at the remote, again. It was right next to her.

Right. Next. To her.

He snapped. “What are you talking about? It’s right there! The fucking remote is right there! Just move your hand, what, five, six centimetres?”

Acedia turned her eyes at the remote and stared at it longingly. Then she sighed a deep sigh of surrender, of defeat. Of laziness.

Horace threw his arms up in the air. “Oh for fuck’s sake!” he said and walked around the coffee table, picked up the remote, and placed it just a few centimetres away right into her palm.

She looked up at him and smiled. “Wow. Thank you, dear.”

The app glinged and he opened the notification.

New token collected, it said. The rotating AR object had the Greek word for sloth on it, ΑΚΗΔΙΑ.

He tapped an icon on the app that said, ‘Stats.’


Evil Thought Tokens

Gula 0

Luxuria 0

Avaritia 0

Superbia 1

Invidia 0

Ira 1

Acedia 1


He frowned, looking at the frail woman on his sofa, then back at the app. What was the name of that dwarf lady? Ira? And Superbia from before at the office, and Acedia right here in front of him. So they were all in on the trick.

But what was the point to all this? It wasn’t funny. Were there hidden cameras? He was nobody, a temp, people wouldn’t even bother to prank him, let alone with something so elaborate as this, with apps and AROs and various women.

Horace’s mind raced and he whipped his head back to demand answers of Acedia or whatever.

His only reply was a soft snoring coming from the thin woman.

He blinked at her a few times. Still snoring.

He sighed, then covered her up with the blanket. It was still warm in the northern suburbs but thin people like her were always feeling chilly.















Chapter 7: Ira


Ira waited in the coach. When the large guy got off, she got off too. She walked behind him, practically jogging, his legs were so long and hers were so much shorter she couldn’t possibly keep up with him at a normal pace.

No matter. She worked out, after all.

He climbed the metro stairs and she shadowed him.

Despite her red dress, he didn’t pay attention to her. She wasn’t that pretty, and her being different made a lot of men look away.

Ira clenched her fists and followed him. He got off the metro station and walked down the street. Ira didn’t really know where she was but she didn’t care. All she saw was red in her vision, all that mattered was the unsuspecting son of a bitch in front of her, all she wanted was to pummel him to the ground.

She saw a beggar approach the large man as he walked past, shaking his foam cup, making the coins rattle. The large man slapped the beggar away and took his change.

What. An. Asshole.

The large man noticed her glaring at him, and said, “What do you want, midget?” He scoffed and walked away, not bothering with her any longer.

Ira’s nails were practically digging into her palms. She dashed forward and tackled the large man from behind. She didn’t need to fight fair. He weighed twice as much as she did, after all.

The large man groaned as he fell hard on the pavement. Ira climbed on top of him and dug her heel in his belly. He cried out in pain as she stomped him with her full weight. He fought her, clawing at her. She stomped on his knee. He punched her straight in the face, making her nose bloody.

The beggar cried out and ran away.

Ira went full-on rage and punched the large man. Her fists pounded on meat, her knuckles bled and cut open, her face a single expression of wrath.

She delivered each word with a punch to his face, “Midget. Is. Not. The. Politically. Correct. Term!”

She continued doing so until he stopped moving.















Chapter 8: Evie


“Wait, so you actually went to get her some lemonade?” Evie asked, speaking on the phone. She was lying on her back, her hair falling over the edge of the bed. She liked positioning herself like that and putting her feet up on the cool wall.

“Yeah, I’m at the periptero around the corner,” Horace sighed over the phone. He spoke of the kiosks that carried pretty much everything under the sun, those little shops located at every Greek corner.

Evie knew which one he was talking about. She’d hang out with him sometimes at home, Kifisia was a great suburb with lots of pinetrees and flowers. They’d watch movies or play board games together, and the periptero was a constant destination for a resupply run of munchies and soft drinks. Thinking of soft drinks, she pinched her belly. It was far more pinchable than she liked. She had to work out more.

But she didn’t wannaaa.

She huffed all alone, covering her eyes with her free arm.

“Horace, she broke into your house.”

“I know. But this thing, ugh. It’s weird, but it doesn’t feel threatening. The thing with the app and the tokens.”

“You said the other woman literally mentioned danger.” By the goddess, he was so thick-headed sometimes.

“She’s snoozing right now, with a soft snore and everything. Anyway, we’ll see. She might be an addict or something, the way she moves... I’ll kick her out tomorrow.”

Evie felt a pang of jealousy. It was irrational, she knew that. Horace wasn’t her boyfriend. He wasn’t her anything. She never admitted that she took that horrible temp job just to be around him for a few hours longer each day.

That stupid, geeky man wasn’t hers. At hearing that another woman would spend the night dozing off on his sofa, that stung her a bit. It was their thing, their sofa. They hadn’t done anything more than just hang out and laugh and whatever, but it was their thing.

Not this strange woman’s who had broken into his home.

How fucked up was that?

“But for now, you’re gonna bring her lemonade.”

Horace inhaled deeply. “Sure, why not?”

Oh, you poor, stupid man.

Evie imagined that slut all over Horace. ‘Bring me some lemonade,’ she imagined her squeaky voice in her mind. ‘Bring me ice cream, it’s hot.’ ‘Ooph, I’m gonna take this off, I hope you don’t mind.’

She shuddered and pushed the images away.

What was this all of a sudden? Her? Jealous? She hadn’t felt so jealous before. Maybe it was because she was thirty and all her friends had married off and got proper careers. She had carefully removed quite a lot of people from her Agora page. She didn’t wanna get assaulted by the constant barrage of marriage and baby pics.

It was too much.

She knew Horace from high school. They’d been friends on and off as their lives shifted into adulthood, but lately they had found they liked hanging out together. He was very nerdy, into those fantasy games and cartoon ladies that practically wore nothing at all and video games with the same thing, but animated in polygons.

She thought it was ridiculous at first, but after getting over her initial repulsion she found that she damn well enjoyed those games. She loooved being a badass sorceress that could call on flame and burn her enemies, her boobs jiggling with carefully implemented physics. She loved hacking through enemies as a female troll, impervious to physical damage, shrugging off cuts and slashes, killing enemies with her big magical sword.

She loved the escape from her miserable life.

Sure, the community at large was a bunch of weirdos. Nerdy, with glasses, most of them definitely virgins.

Horace wasn’t a virgin, she knew that. In fact, she knew all of his past conquests, even that summer fling he hadn’t told anyone about with a older teacher at Crete.

No, Horace was... How would she describe him?

Not fit, certainly. He didn’t work out much but had an average proper body. A slightly receding hairline in his brown hair. She didn’t mind that, judging by his dad, age would look good on him.

Evie really liked his hands, though. Soft, triangular, artistic. He could make a lot of things with those hands. He could paint, he could assemble models of fantasy waggons and sci-fi tanks, he could work things on the computer.

He was a head taller than her, but she was short to begin with. She liked stepping on her toes to hug him goodnight.

Evie realised she was grinning like an idiot.

Horace was telling her more things but she hadn’t heard a thing. “So, we’ll see for the weekend, right?”

“Um, sure. Text me,” she replied.

“Okay,” he said, and hung up.

Evie felt flushed, even hotter than she felt before. The phone was also overheating, making the side of her face sweat.

Yeah, that was it. She pfted.

It was the phone, heating up. There was nothing more to it. She put her feet up on the cool wall.















Chapter 9: Horace


Horace got back inside his home. He peeked into the living room to double-check that he wasn’t imagining things. Nope, there she was, Acedia, snoring softly, the blanket up to her waist, TV still playing.

What was he going to do with her? He didn’t really believe their story but he didn’t have the heart to kick her out. Did she wanna move in?

Horace wouldn’t mind that, he definitely had the space to spare and needed the cash. But could she even afford anything?

Acedia looked like the apotheosis of that lazy friend you had at university, the one bumming all your cigarettes, crashing on your couch, eating all your leftover pizza.

The one who inserted himself like a leech into your life until things got too serious to ignore and you had to cut him off rudely.

He put the lemonade plus a few more munchies in the fridge. He noticed it running warm, so he leaned inside and adjusted the temperature. It wasn’t Summer yet but the days kept getting hotter and hotter.

His leftover anger for Acedia barging into his place and planting herself on his sofa evaporated quickly.

If he had to admit it, he was kinda lonely. Sure, he saw people at work but nothing like being friends with anyone. And his parents had been away for a long time. He’d seen them two times in the past five years. They always invited him over to Australia and offered to pay for his flight but he never went through with it.

So now, he had a huge apartment all to himself, big enough to house a family, three bedrooms, two toilets, living room, balconies all over, good enough view in a green area, one-hundred and twenty square metres to feel bad about himself.

He knew the logical thing to do was to rent out the apartment and go live somewhere more affordable, but he always put it off for next year and time just went by. Things popped up, you know?

He went into his boyhood room and shut the door. Doing that, shutting the door, was something he hadn’t gotten used to doing these last few years. He took out the action figures from the box and put them on the shelves, next to the other ones in his collection.

Horace knew he wasn’t making it easy for himself to flaunt his geeky interests at his place of work. People snickered and made fun of him when he turned his back, but after a couple of months nobody really bothered anymore. He just couldn’t understand it, the guy right next to him had a full-blown Olympiacos shrine over there, in reds and whites. Athletes, cups, ticket stubs of some football championship or another.

Why was this considered tolerable and normal?

It was a shitty double-standard. The sports fans dressed up, painted their bodies, behaved like insane people and it was somehow more acceptable than a bunch of intelligent guys quietly appreciating storytelling and playing video games.

Horace realised he was doing the same thing, judging Acedia by a two-minute encounter. He decided to give her the benefit of the doubt. He dusted off the action figures and the other statues in his collection. He always preferred sci-fi stories, but the women from fantasy tales were always calling to him.

Then he relaxed in his room for a bit, thinking about what snack to make afterwards for the both of them. Something healthy, carrots and shit. Yeah, that would be best. He knew he was in for a long haul of job-seeking days, and he knew damn well from past cycles in his life that he slowly fell to bad habits, like eating takeout every day and sleeping in. It was inevitable, he knew that, but the more he pushed back the decay, the better.

He stood up and got to wash some dishes, taking extra care not to make a lot of noise. It was easy to tell if Acedia was still napping, you just had to listen for the cute snoring sound.

It was late but there was still light. The days were getting longer. He prepared a somewhat healthy dinner, turkey and cheese sandwiches with a side of carrots and potato chips. He’d go for healthier groceries tomorrow. He could no longer hear Acedia snoring. He picked up two of the chilly lemonades and brought the tray to the living room.

She turned her droopy eyes towards him. “Mmm, nice. Is this for me?”

“Yeah, thought you’d be hungry by now.” He put the tray on the coffee table and sat down next to her, but not too close so as to make her uncomfortable.

If she minded, she didn’t show it.

“Wow. That’s very sweet of you,” Acedia said in her drolling voice. She picked up a carrot with an oh-so-slow motion and nibbled on it like a rabbit.

He sighed. “Acedia, look. If this is a joke, I’m not in the mood. I’ve just been fired today and I need to take a minute and think about what I’m gonna do, you understand.”

She waved the worries away. “Wow. Relax,” she breathed out the word. “Let go of the worry. This is us, here, now. You and me. Let’s enjoy each other’s company. Let’s eat snacks and watch some TV shows. I’m in the mood for some crime drama, just a season or two.”

Horace snorted. “That argument of yours went in a way different direction than what I thought it would.”

Acedia ate a potato chip. It was a very small one. No wonder she was so skinny. “Don’t you like to binge?”

“Oh, I do like it! But...” his voice trailed off. Yeah, what was he worrying about? Today had been a shitty, weird day. He needed to cool off and empty his mind by the time-honoured tradition of bingeing on bad TV shows, not worry his ass off about tomorrow. “Yeah. Let’s do this.”

Acedia smiled but it didn’t go all the way up her cheeks. Gods, she was too lazy to even smile properly? What a weird little lady.

Horace shrugged, leaned back next to Acedia, put on a TV show with criminals and stuff and munched on his chips, letting the worries wash off of him.















Chapter 10: Horace


“You know, you have an impressive ability to nap through the entire episode but still keep up with what’s going on,” Horace said to her when they got halfway to the second season.

Acedia beamed at him. “Wow. Thank you! I try.”

They had gone through the night, took a nap, woke up, watched the end of the season, cursed at it for ending on a cliffhanger, then put on the second season, and now they were at episode 5. It was the next morning and they had barely moved a muscle, just a couple of trips to the bathroom.

Acedia had napped on and off the entire time. No wonder she kept wearing her light blue pyjamas.

Horace had to admit it was fun hanging out with her. They discussed the show, talked about the endless cliches, predicted whodunit and what would happen next, who would hook up with who. She was very relaxing to be around, and the guilt of doing nothing just seemed like an afterthought when he was around Acedia.

He knew this was the thing he and Evie did together, but it wasn’t such a bad thing, skipping it for a night. He’d make it up to her.



It was midday. “Come on, it will be fun,” he said.

Acedia sighed. “It sounds like a lot of work.”

“Going to the supermarket? Not really, people do it every week. Sometimes twice a week.”

Acedia looked shocked, as if someone had asked her to dig a hole for a grave. Twice.

“Okay, do this for me once. If you don’t like it, I’ll never even mention it again.”

She sighed audibly. “Fine. Is it far away?”

“Just around this corner, two streets down.”

She nodded, steeling herself. “So it is far.”



Horace couldn’t help but laugh. He was throwing groceries in the shopping cart while towing Acedia around. She was thin enough to fit in the baby seat, and she was having lots of fun while he pushed her around the shop. As long as she didn’t have to move, she was into everything.

“Wow. Grab these, they are precooked,” she said, pointing at some meals. She could have reached down and grabbed them herself, but nooo, he had to do it for her.

“We said we’re shopping healthy. Let’s not descend into the inevitable fast food diet from day 1 of being unemployed.” He crinkled the wrapping to read the instructions.

She pouted for a second then forgot all about it when they got to the cornflakes. “Horace, I have something to confess.”

“What?”

“I ate all your cornflakes.”

“I know. I was there. You eat them one at a time. It’s maddening to watch.”

“Can you get some more? Please?” She begged, gripping her hands before her chest.

Horace forced down a chuckle. Without breaking eye-contact, and without moving a muscle other than his shoulder and the accompanying ones in his arm, he grabbed a box of corn flakes and threw it in the shopping cart.

“Yay!” she beamed at him, clapping once.

“If only all girls were as easy to please as you,” Horace said, shaking his head.

The rest of the shopping run was pretty standard. He got some sandwich materials, then doubled them. Acedia didn’t eat much but he planned to offer it to her. He especially didn’t want her to avoid eating because of thinking she’d have his share.

At the little shop inside the supermarket where they give you cold cuts of various meats, his vision filled with a big woman. She wore a bright orange top and a billowy black skirt. She wore a little backpack with cartoons on. She turned straight towards him, looked him straight in the eye, then glanced at his shopping cart, scoffed at the contents, then emptied her groceries bag inside his cart.

“What- Who-” he said, dumbfounded.

“What is this, a meal for ants? These should get us through today. We’ll come around again tomorrow,” the fat woman said and ordered a couple of sausages. She was very cute, one of those big ladies that could pull off a killer selfie, provided they didn’t show the rest of the body. Her features were kind and inviting, and her smile was gorgeous. Her hair were wisps of brunette strands cut short.

“Wow. Sister, you forgot to introduce yourself again,” Acedia said, in the tone of voice of a person who kept reminding people of the same thing.

“Right. Sorry. I’m Gula Gastrimargia. Just call me Gula.” She was nice and friendly. Her various cuddly parts jiggled up and down as she moved.

“I’m Horace. You’re her sister?” He looked from one to the other, but there really was no resemblance.

“In a way, yes,” Acedia drolled.

“Come, Horace, let’s go back home and eat. All this food around is making me hungry,” Gula said and pulled him around while he gripped on the shopping cart like a train of crazy people.

Acedia squeed from delight, arms up in the air. Then she got tired and just sat there, contempt to just get carried along.















Chapter 11: Horace


The dinner was... ugh... interesting.

Gula downed the entire cooked chicken she had brought from the supermarket, then ate the chips, then the salad, then washed it all down with a couple of soft drinks. Then she leaned in for the corn flakes, which Acedia protected, close to her chest.

The kitchen table hadn’t been used since his parent had left. He usually ate at the sofa while watching some series or on his computer. Having people over made the use of the table a necessity, and Horace was glad he’d done so because the mess looked a lot easier to clean up afterwards.

But he had to admit he enjoyed eating dinner with company. The fact that it was two ladies also helped.

Gula punched a fist into her chest a couple of times, then burped gently. Her expression content, she leaned back on the chair.

“Full?” Horace asked.

“For now. Thank you, Horace. Here’s my token.” She motioned gently in the air before her as if blowing on a handful of leaves.

Horace checked his app. Indeed, there was a token. He collected it, and it said the word Gluttony in Greek, ΛΑΙΜΑΡΓΙΑ.

He couldn’t help himself checking the stats. It was addictive, like all games were, even one as strange as this one. What would he actually do with all the tokens?

He needed to ask the girls some pointed questions.


Evil Thought Tokens

Gula 1

Luxuria 0

Avaritia 0

Superbia 1

Invidia 0

Ira 1

Acedia 2


“Gula, how long are you staying?” he asked.

She shrugged and smiled at him, wiping her mouth with a napkin. She was still full of crumbs on her large chest, however. “For as long as success takes. Or failure.”

“How cryptic,” he nodded, grinning. He made a mental calculation of his bank account. Most of the groceries they’d bought were gone. Or, all over the table and the floor. Gula was a messy eater. Acedia, on the other hand, could nibble on a crumb for two hours. Both were maddening.

If he kept this up his cash would be gone in a week.

He needed to get out and look for a job tomorrow. Hanging out with Acedia was nice but he couldn’t postpone it.

He stood up and washed the dishes. Acedia still munched on a cornflake, and it could still very much be the same one he saw her holding earlier.

“I’ll help,” Gula said and pushed him aside with her butt. “Actually, let me do them all.”

“Okay,” Horace agreed. “I’m tired, didn’t get much sleep yesterday. And I slept on the couch which is terrible for my back.” Then he realised he had guests over. “Ugh, sleeping arrangements, right.”

“Wow. I’ll sleep on the sofa. It’s my spot,” Acedia said slowly, raising a hand.

He opened his mouth to argue but he didn’t really have the strength for it. “Fine. You, Gula? The guest room is right down the hall. You can sleep there. It’s practically turned into an office space but the bed is comfortable. Got anything you might need?”

She turned her pretty face and nodded towards her backpack. “It’s all in there.”

“Excellent. Well, ladies, make yourselves at home. Not that you haven’t already, but here it is formally,” he chuckled. “Goodnight, I’ll bring down clean sheets and some extra pillows and I’m off to bed.”















Chapter 12: Horace


Horace opened his eyes and stared at the ceiling. He kept trying to remember if the insanity of the last couple of days was a dream or if it was real. And if it was a dream, was it a normal one or a nightmare?

He heard giggling coming from the living room.

Real, then.

He got up, threw water on his face and became presentable, then made a frappe for himself. From the aftermath in the kitchen, it seemed Gula had already made herself one, plus a couple of sandwiches. At least she cleaned up after herself in the end.

Sipping glorious coffee, he walked into the living room.

Acedia, not surprisingly, was curled in the same spot on the sofa. Gula sat on the armchair. They were watching some sitcom.

Horace didn’t need to watch no sitcom. His life had currently turned into one. All that was missing was the canned laughter. “Good morning, ladies.”

“Good morning,” they both said in different reaction speeds.

“It’s already eleven o’clock. I’m gonna be off to hit some of my old jobs in case there’s some spot available. Will you be okay on your own back here?”

Gula looked hesitant. “If you could get some chocolates on the way back, then I’ll be fine.”

“Chocolates, sure. Anything else? You, Acedia? Need anything?”

“Nope,” she said softly. “But I would like you to hang out with me and watch the rest of the season.”

Horace chuckled. “Hah! You can watch ahead, I don’t mind, that show is really formulaic anyway. I don’t think I’m missing out on much. But I will join you tonight.”

“Wow!” Acedia said with the excitement of a dead person.








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