Magical Scribe Eleanor Slam versus Magical Killjoy “Madge"

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Eleanor shocked2.png

It's right outside Madge's office, just when I'm about to knock on her door, that the reality of what I just agreed to hits me and cools my anger. I just promised to scold a superior for something they did to someone I don't know who was close to them. I'm prying into somebody's personal life and telling her what she should be doing when I don't even know anything about her. Other than what I've seen, at least. Though what I've seen does sort of align with what I heard. She was pretty impatient, like she had better things to do.

Still, though, what kind of utter bitch would ignore someone close to them when they're having an emergency, just because it's work hours?

The kind that gets a swanky red vest while I'm stuck in a slutty leotard. The kind that has a cool purple half-cape while I have to go with a hat that gets told it has a wonderful personality. The kind that has a tasteful black knee-length skirt while I'm forced into the bastard child of a set of garters and harem pants. Yeah, I'll be petty and jealous about it. Whatever it takes to get mad. Mad enough to go through with this crazy plan. Mad enough to scold somebody who outranks me and could make me tear off my own arm in terror. Mad enough that I won’t realize how stupid this is. Mad enough to ball up my fists.

Alright, now I’m ready.

I knock on the door a couple times and wait quietly, trembling with what I hope is indignation. I'm saving my words for when I have to say something, because I'd just end up growling while trying to announce that I'm here.

“Come in,” Madge’s voice rings out clearly from behind the door. It makes my stomach tie itself in knots. I’m dreading… something, but it’s not what I already know. It’s what I don’t know, because I have no fucking idea how this meeting is gonna go. And somehow, that’s more important to me than leaving with my mind intact.

I shakily uncurl my fist and grasp the knob. And turn it. And slowly open the door. A bead of sweat nearly reaches my eye after I poke my head in to make sure this is her office. Well, that’s what I tell myself. It was her voice, so of course it’s her office. I’m just trying to find a reason to not be in it because I’m suddenly six years old again, and I’m being escorted to the principal’s office because I bit someone. Except this time, there are no other teachers here, so I have to go it alone. And I think they'd do a lot worse than a spanking here.

What I find is that it’s white. There are white sheets over almost everything. Well, there's a window behind Madge's covered desk, but otherwise-

“I said come in,” repeats Madge patiently, which makes me jump when it… probably shouldn’t. Is this what Suzi meant by her power? Because I see her just sitting there at her desk, her hands hidden behind a divider, and smiling at me, and I’m anxious as hell. It’s every bit as reassuring as a visit to the principal, and it feels I’m in trouble.

Madge dynamic.png

Oh, great, she has glasses now, too. The principal had glasses. She looks a lot prettier than the principal did. Not even the tattoos take away from that. She's prettier than I'll ever be, probably.

...I'm getting distracted again. I have to do this before I forget what I came here to do.

I slowly walk in with my hands clutched over my chest. I probably look so timid it’s stupid. Her Majesty – oh, I get it now – orders, “Please be seated.” She glances toward a small leather chair in front of her desk when she says that.

So I obediently reach out to pull it back – I thought it’d screech on the wood floor, but it slides back quietly - and sit in it, sinking back into the creaky piece of furniture. Huh, look at that - it’s even got armrests. It’d be comfortable if it weren’t for the buttons poking me on the back. At least it’s better than the crappy plastic seats in the actual principal’s office, at least. Those made my butt fall asleep after sitting in them for a while.

…Right, this is not the time to get nostalgic.

My examination of the chair all done, I nervously look back at Madge. I think she finds it amusing, though it’s hard to tell with her smiling all the time.

“Hello,” she greets, her tone more professional than principal. Doesn’t stop the shivers traveling down my neck. I’m not supposed to get spooked every single time she talks, right? “Normally an Eversor evaluation like this would be up to Miss Cress or one of her subordinates, but I wanted to perform this one personally.” She slides her glasses down her nose with one finger before smugly stating, “or rather, I'm certain she's much too rowdy and frightening for someone as sensitive and delicate as you.”

Wow, thanks for the vote of confidence, you smug bitch. I mean, you’re probably right, but you could have put it nicer. I wish I could slump back into this chair even more right now until I sink into it completely.

“Going by your records,” she continues, and I hear the sound of paper shuffling behind the barrier, “I don’t believe you’ve been given an actual evaluation before now.” While glancing down at whatever files she has, she asks me, “do you understand what the purpose of this meeting is, Eleanor?”

Okay. This is it. Focus on being upset. Focus on – no, no, don’t grip the chair too hard or you’ll break it!

...God, this is hard. I’m gonna have some choice words for Suzi later.

I swallow loud enough for Madge to hear. And then take some deep breaths while she patiently waits. I might have done that too quickly, though – I’m feeling dizzy.

“For me-” I start slowly. Madge nods encouragingly. “To tell you,” I continue, and she stops nodding. It’s too late for me to stop now, though. Better see this train wreck all the way to the end. So I finish quickly, blurting out, “-to stop emotionally abusing your girlfriend!” Then I'm panting like I’d just got done running.

Madge’s glasses fall off with a gentle thud on whatever paper’s on her desk. That’s all she does though. No shock on her face from what I can tell. She is staring at me with no more intensity than she had before, and it creeps me out.

I can’t decide whether I wanna grab the armrests until they snap or twiddle my thumbs. Either way, this silence hurts.

“Suzi told me to tell you that,” I explain, because saying something like that out of the blue is bad. “Because Aki called her, and-“

“Fine, fine,” Madge interrupts, letting out a large sigh as she picks the glasses up off the table and slips them back on. “I recognize my failing and will be sure to correct it.” With a bright smile, she tries to steer the conversation away from this. “Right, let’s get back on track.”

Fuck that.

“No,” I tell her.

Clasping her hands up her chin, Madge glares at me without changing her expression. “What do you mean ‘no’?” she asks.

I fold my hands into my lap so I can ball them up without breaking anything. My arm rings dully as it bumps into the armrest, but it's just a distraction. “She said to be persistent,” I insist. “That it’s happened before.”

Her Majesty narrows her eyes at me in irritation. “That really is none of your business,” she tells me, her voice calm, if slightly annoyed.

“I'm making it my business," I growl, though coming from me it's not especially threatening, "because you drink too much and hurt people.”

“You’re being a brat,” she says. Something brushes against my leg and makes me jump in my seat, but looking down, there's nothing there. Something else scuttles at the edge of my vision. When I try to look at it, again, there’s nothing there.

I think she’s just fucking with me now, trying to make me let up and curl up into a ball. And I want to, but I want to do this more. So I keep pressing her, saying, “You yell insults at your girlfriend when you’re drunk.”

There’s nothing sincere about Madge’s smile at this point. It’s… well, its shadows and edges are sharper and darker than they should be. “Eleanor,” she tells me sternly, “you’re ruining what good will I might have toward you.”

It’s now that I become fully aware of how I haven’t stopped sweating since I got here. Though instead of it being the hot sweat that stings your eyes, it’s chilly and makes me shiver when it trickles down. To make things harder for me, my stomach is trying to knot itself in an attempt to make me throw up or something.

My mouth’s going dry, but I keep pressing her, saying, “You… you’re angry. And you're abusive..."

Something tells me I shouldn't finish that sentence. That if I do, bad things are gonna happen. It's... well it feels surreal, like I'm in a dream, and I just somehow -know- that the monster's going to come out to kill me if I open the door. And Her Majesty's looking as monstrous as possible without actually doing anything, her glare hard to meet, but impossible to look away from.

Something tells me I need to shut up.

"...when you drink," I tell her anyway. I nearly throw up in my mouth after finishing it, but I don't mind. I'm still alive, after all.

...Aren't I?

That's when the world goes dark. The office fades to black until there's just nothing there but Madge, the furniture, and me. Right now, nothing else exists. Everything's gone, and we're the only two people left. “And here I thought you were a ssssmart girl,” Madge hisses, her not-smile growing wider. My brain's in a fog, but I recognize that I just fucked up pretty bad. Because the something came out to kill me. I can't see it, but I know it's there. I can feel it, staring at me from everywhere at once. And if I open my mouth again... if I don't do exactly what this person says... if I don't take their words to heart... it'll do it. Not that I have anything to say. Not that I can talk. I don't even have a voice anymore. The monster took it, right? No, that's not what happened. The monster is my voice, and everything else is gone because I talked. Everything is fucking gone because I couldn't shut up, and it tore reality and everything I ever cared about apart, and it's all my fault. It's all my fucking fault and all I can do is silently cry about it or else it'll get me next. Maybe I should just let it, I fucking deserve it, I'm awful. I feel sick to my stomach by how much I fucked up everything. But I have to listen to what Madge says or else things will get even worse and that'll be my fault too.

Eleanor devastated2.png

A shuffling of papers shocks me out of the horror of what I've done, and I focus on Her Majesty with all that I can give. "Now then," she says, her voice echoing across the vast nothing surrounding us, “you’ve made real strides with your Eversor training since the beginning. You’ve done better than I anticipated, as I was certain you would give up by now." I listen closely. I have to. Things won't get better unless I listen. “However, I must warn you against using on rage and painkillers to overcome your injuries." She waves her pen in my face and makes me flinch. I'm sorry. I'll be good. Just bring everyone back. "Relying on pure emotion to overcome pain is not good for you in the long run. It's the easy way, and generally the most risky, and that’s not counting how it makes witching out happen more easily. Not unlike those painkillers, you can become addicted to it if you use it too frequently."

"Do you always want to be angry?" she asks me suddenly. Is it okay for me to speak? Yeah, the monster is in shackles for the moment, I can talk. I just have to answer her questions correctly or else everyone will be gone forever and it'd be all my fault.

With a hoarse whisper, I tell her, "no." She smiles more confidently, and I knew it was the right thing to say. I think it was, anyway. I thought I was supposed to say something else, though, right?

Eleanor tears2.png

"Then don't just rely on anger," she explains. "I understand how asking you to 'just tough it out' might sound harsh, but it is in the best interest of your own well-being to learn how to do just that." I nod eagerly. I won't screw up again. When everything comes back from the monster's gut, I'll do things right this time. I won't have everything disappear, so please let me do this right. “If you must rage, rage in moderation. It’s like alcohol. Have too much of it and you’ll do something retarded.”

Yeah, that's... wait...I was doing something important earlier, right? Something that made the consequences worth it? I don't get it, though. What could be worth everything being shredded apart? I can't remember; something about Madge's girlfriend? Isn't she gone with the rest of everything else unless I do this evaluation? I'm sorry, Miss Madge. I'm so fucking sorry, this is all my fault. Everything's gone unless I do this right and it's all my fault. Except it's not, is it? Isn't this a trick? Suzi warned me about her fucking with my head. This sluggish feeling... this is just a Callidus illusion, right? It has to be. I grab at my cheek and pinch as hard as I can with my mechanical fist. I will all of this to please, please be fake, the pain spiking and giving me some clarity as I nearly tear my mouth open. The monster can't take my voice if it is my voice. How did she get it in shackles? How can she fix things? That makes no sense! None of this makes sense! This isn't real, it's not real, it's not real! None of it's real!

The black space around us fractures and cracks until it silently shatters like glass. The office is here, the outside is here, and everything else is still here.

I pinched my cheek way too fucking hard, though. I can taste blood. But Checkers' trick actually worked. Sort of. I'm still on edge, and I'm breathing like I just survived a car wreck, but fuck all that. And fuck what she said about getting mad, because I am pissed she went as far as she did.

Eleanor angry2.png

"Well," Madge says, "you're just going out of your way to disappoint me today, aren't you?"

"You bitch!" I scream at her, getting an indifferent reaction. "What are you doing?! Is it so much fun to torment people that you can't just make a fucking appointment?! Do you just want to stay a bitch forever?!"

Madge takes off her glasses. She starts buffing them with a cloth and doesn't even look me in the eye when she's talking. "Miss Slam," she says smugly, "if I was tormenting you, I'd be giving a modicum of effort to do so." She gestures towards me. "You saw through a very simple illusion, one that was supposed to steer you towards doing the right thing, because I was trying not to leave you brain-dead and I'm still nursing a hangover," she says, voice full of disdain. "So don't get-"

"SHUT UP!" I yell, spitting up blood on the white sheets covering her desk. I can't tell if she's trying her illusions anymore - my cheek hurts and I'm too busy glaring at her to care about anything skulking around. Fuck you for making me think I broke everything!

Eleanor angryshout2.png

Madge just chuckles at me. "You" she says, pointing at me, "Are telling me" Then points at herself. "What to do?" Her smile twists into a condescending smirk. "You're telling your superior what to do? Do you have a death wish or something?"

I nod back at her, my voice shaking when I ask, "did... did she have a death wish, dating someone who-"

"Not your fucking business, kid," she cuts me off, flipping through the papers on her desk. "I already told you, I will do those things -after- we're done here. And at this rate, you being an annoying, uncooperative little shit is going on your file forever."

I swallow another mouthful of blood and snarl at her, throwing my hands up, "Fine! Fine! Go do that! Can I put 'treats girlfriend like shit' on yours?" Yeah, that was smart.

Her Majesty rubs her temples while probably writing down how I'm the bad guy here. "Why are you still doing this?" she asks tiredly.

I want to say that it's because Suzi told me to, so I can at least get off with a warning instead of being blacklisted from nice things forever. Or because she's being horrible. Rather than do that, I stare at my lap and fiddle with my fingers, murmuring, “It's because I’m a 'crybaby.' I’m a 'scaredy cat.' I’m a 'slacker.' And I 'don’t apply myself.' If I wasn’t so upset about this whole thing I wouldn't have bothered.” I'm starting to feel tired, too. Burnt out, even, as my body starts sagging. “But I feel like I still gotta do this, because if the person I trusted more than anyone else in the world started hurting me whenever-”

Something slams on the desk and makes me jump in my seat. “I did not hurt her, Eleanor," Madge says, not even shouting or anything. I look back at her and... She's the same as she was before. If not for that outburst, I probably wouldn't know I'd hit a sore spot. Unless this whole thing has been a sore spot for her from the start. Me meddling in other people's personal lives...

...I'm gonna hate myself for this, aren't I?

“Are you sure?” I press her. “Would she even tell you?”

Madge stares at me, not moving or blinking. I'm not as good at that, fidgety and nervous as I am, but I don't look away from her. “How is this,” I ask, gesturing toward myself, “more important than her?”

Still no response. She's probably sick of dealing with my shit. I think I crossed the line with that last bit anyway. I let my head slump and try willing the chair to hide me in its creaky embrace.

Shit. I think I fucked up.

“Carol?" Madge says suddenly. "Yeah, it’s Madge.” I glance up and see Her Majesty isn't paying attention to me anymore. She's got a headset on and is typing something into a computer. “I’ve decided to go through with it after all... ... ...Don’t ask... ...Yeah, I'll hold."

“And that's that," Madge says after what seems like forever. A forever full of calls and tick-tacking at a keyboard and appointments being switched around while I sat nervously, waiting for her to scold me as the pain in my cheek and taste of blood slowly goes away.

I still can't believe that worked.

She looks at me and grins. Like, actually grins instead of just fake-smiling. “Don't get me wrong, I’m more than a little pissed off at you, but you did well.”

“Thanks?” I squeak back. Does that mean I'm not going to get yelled at?

“And with all of that finished," Madge says while stretching back in her chair, "we’re about out of time." She looks at the stuff on her desk and starts scribbling something. "If nothing else, this has made your reckless courage all the more apparent. Any idiot can have no fear. They just don’t know what they’re afraid of. Something which is easily fixed.” Pointing her pen at me again, which makes me flinch, she tells me, “you, on the other hand, are afraid of a lot of things, but you don’t let that stop you when you’re blindly determined.”

“Sorry," I say reflexively.

“Don’t you dare apologize when I'm praising you," she scolds, making me try to sink into my chair again. "You’re not in trouble right now, even though you have every reason to be. We’ll just have to try this again tomorrow morning. I’ll send you the details later so you don't forget.”

Madge takes off her glasses and sets them on her desk. "A warning, though," she says, resting her chin on her palms. “Besides the aforementioned dangers of using anger to fuel you, you won’t always have a strong enough emotion to power through something terrible, so don’t become overly reliant on it.” I nod along with this. “Master the conventional approach to enduring as soon as possible, and use your anger sparingly. Keep it at a slow simmer instead of a roaring blaze.”

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“Understood!” I tell her. I guess I need to work on getting motivated.

That seems good enough for her. She sits back up, takes the glasses off her desk, and puts them in a little case. “Now, take these,” she explains. “And wait until you get back to your room before you use them unless you want them to melt.”

“Why would it melt?” I ask her, taking the box as she hands it to me. And what are they for?

“Because our Vindicare Rank Leader, Miss Contra is going to be more hands-on today,” Her Majesty answers mysteriously. “And now, our time is up." Gesturing towards the door, she tells me, "You are dismissed, Miss Slam."

Only now fully aware of how much I have sunken into this chair, I drag myself out of it and try not to look like I was just psychologically tortured for being nosy. “Good-bye, Your Majesty!” I say with a smile, heading for the door. “And good luck!”

She just chuckles before I shut the door behind me.