As the light sneaks through the open gap in the curtain, it reveals a hotel room. Morning has arrived.
“Bzzzt bzzzt bzzzt.”
Sounds of the morning alarm can be heard coming from a phone. An arm slowly reaches out, searching through the spots on the nightstand for it. More buzzing sounds come through as the arm fails to find it, knocking over empty alcohol bottles. A guy pops up from the bed, his blond hair still messy from the night sleep. He reaches for the phone and turns it off. He sat right up on the side of his bed, covered only by his boxers. A very handsome fellow, his body is lean and fit, with full abs and muscles all around. This guy who couldn’t even find his phone over here is Steven Miller, a young and rich actor in America. He walks over to the nearby chair, where his clothes are, and puts them on.
“Aww. Leaving already?”- A female voice asks, laying on the other side of her bed.
Her clothes can be seen on the same chair that Steven got his clothes from. It’s safe to assume the two had an intimate night before, filled with alcohol.
“Yep, gotta go. Have a thing today.”- Steven replies, not looking back.
“Buy yourself something nice.”- He smiles, leaving behind a fat stack of money.
The outside street is filled with paparazzi, each hoping for their chance to get a picture of Steven. A limousine is parked right outside the hotel, surrounded by security guards who keep the paparazzi away. Sound of flashes can be heard as Steven walks outside, smiling and waving. He is quickly directed by the security inside the limousine. The black door closes, and the vehicle takes its leave, slowly moving forward until all the paparazzi move out of the way. As Steven scrolls through his phone, looking at news articles about himself, a phone call interrupts. “Mom,” the name on the screen said. Steven sighs, looking at it for a few seconds before finally deciding to pick it up.
“Hey, Stevie. Hope that I didn’t interrupt you. Just calling to check in since it’s been a while.”- His mom said.
“I’m fine mom. My schedule is always packed.”- Steven said.
“Well, glad you’re still doing well. How about coming back home for dinner tonight? I made your favorite meatloaf.”- His mom joyfully invites.
“I’m busy tonight mom. Sorry, but you two can just enjoy dinner without me.”- Steven declines.
“But, it’s been two months and you…”- his mom said.
“I SAID I’M BUSY! I don’t have time for this.”- Steven interrupts.
“Look, I didn’t mean to make you mad. We just wanted to see you cause it's been a long time.”- His mom apologizes.
“Sigh, I have to go, see ya.”- Steven said, ending the call abruptly.
“So annoying! Why can’t I get some time to do what I want?”- Steven thought to himself.
Of course, Steven lied. His limousine is still a good distance from its destination. He went back onto his phone, scrolling through his social media timelines. Steven decided to check his texts, selecting the messaging app. His inbox is filled with texts, hundreds from many different people. As he scrolled down, Steven stopped at the name “CJ.” He pressed on it, reading the text from his best friend.
“ Yo, congrats on landing that role the other day. You’ll be one of the big guns soon.”- 1 month ago.
“ I saw you on TV with that Scott guy. To be honest, I heard he’s bad news ,you should keep your distance from him.”- 2 weeks ago.
“Hey, how have you been doing? I heard that you have been partying hard recently, want to meet up and talk?”- 5 days ago.
“Sorry, I have been quite busy recently. I’ll get back to you when I get a chance.”- Steven replies in the text message.
“CJ is just worrying about something that isn't even bad. He needs to stop worrying about it so much.”- Steven shrugs CJ’s concern off.
Eventually, Steven arrives at the studio and starts his day. He does the usual acting role in the morning, then goes on a fancy lunch break. Steven would then be driven to a different studio for his other roles. He would hop around until night time comes.
“Where to sir?”- His driver asks.
“To Monster in the Dark!”- Steven eagerly said.
“Understood.”- The driver answers.
After a brief drive, Steven arrives at the bar. It’s a famous high end bar where celebrities usually come to hang out. The prices are sky high, fitting only for the rich. This isn’t a problem for Steven as he is a well known young actor who has contracts after contracts. Walking up to the door, the bouncer welcomes him in, opening the door for the young lad. The bar is filled with music, flashing lights and scantily clad girls walking around. Steven went directly to one of the back rooms, passing through the dance floor filled with people. Opening the door, he is welcomed by sounds of clapping and people cheering.
“Look who’s finally here.”- Scott said, sitting on the couch with two girls in each of his arms.
The room’s atmosphere can only be described as a zoo, with drunk dudes howling and shouting. Some are having an ‘intimate’ time in some parts, but no one seems to mind or care.
“Why were you so late today?”- Scott asks.
“Ahahaha. My bad, one of my roles had me go overtime.”- Steven laughs.
“That just won’t do.”- Scott replies with a smile.
“PUNISHMENT! PUNISHMENT! PUNISHMENT!”- The room chants.
Steven understood the usual punishment, grabbing a bottle of Vodka and chugging it down without any hesitation. It’s an incredible feat as Steven has never touched alcohol before in his life just a few weeks ago. Hanging out with Scott Heigen, a fellow famous A list actor who is nicknamed to be , “The King of Parties,” has changed the way Steven acts. He continues to drink loads of alcohol, partying and getting to the point where he gets hazy. Steven strips and makes a fool of himself, laughing and shouting. Eventually, his body caught up to him and he blacked out drunk.
“Bzzzt bzzzt bzzzt.”
Sound of the morning alarm chimes again the next morning, waking Steven up. It seemed like he drank too much yesterday night as he woke up with a headache. After some great struggle, Steven managed to get up from his bed. He looked around the hotel room, searching for his clothes.
“Are you looking for your shirt and pants? They’re in the bathroom.”- A different girl on the bed next to him said.
It seemed like once again he had a fun time yesterday with her, taking her back to the hotel while drunk. Steven doesn't seem to mind, as he is used to waking up with a different girl everyday. Hurrying into the bathroom, he slipped on a bottle, falling face first onto the floor.
“Oh my God! Are you alive?”- The girl asked, concerned.
“Ow... ow… Yeah I’m still alive.”- Steven replies, getting up.
He heads into the bathroom, kicking away all the bottles that’s in the way. Entering the bathroom, he found her clothes and his all thrown around on the floor. Without embarrassment or worries, Steven sorts his clothes out, puts them on and takes his leave.
“Keep the change…”- Steven said, searching for his money in the shirt pocket.
Surprisingly he didn’t have any, so to save himself from embarrassment, he told the girl to keep his fancy watch as a gift instead. Steven grabs his phone and heads outside of the hotel. It’s once again the usual scenery, filled with paparazzi hounding him as he is escorted to his limousine. Steven mindlessly scrolls through his phone again, this time noticing a text from CJ that was sent the night before.
Steven has known CJ long enough to take that message very seriously.
“Ok, I’ll meet you after my acting gig.”- Steven replies.
The day continued as usual, with Steven going to the studio, getting lunch, heading to more studios for his roles. Afternoon eventually came, as Steven entered his limousine.
“Can you take me to this address?”- Steven requests.
“Absolutely!”- The driver replies, pleased by the sudden change of location.
40 minutes later, Steven arrives at his destination, an average suburban house.
“Hang out somewhere for around 20 minutes, I’ll just be here really quickly.”- Steven requests.
“As you wish.”- The driver said, dropping Steven off and driving away.
Steven takes a very deep breath. It’s a scenery he has seen many times, yet he doesn’t know why he is so nervous this time around. Steven slowly walks up through the driveway, coming up to the door. Before he could even knock, the door opens up. CJ has been waiting for Steven the whole day it seems.
“Hey dude, long time no see.”- Steven said.
“Yeah, you have been dead for quite a while. Didn’t even reply to my messages.”- CJ said.
“Yeah, sorry. Just been really busy these past months.”- Steven said with an awkward laugh.
“Come in, why are you standing outside?”- CJ jokes.
Steven enters CJ’s house. Nothing has really changed from the last time he has been here. The two are childhood friends, both were child actors. They met through sheer coincidence at a certain party, but they have been close since then.
“The usual Lemon juice?”- CJ asks.
“You got some Whiskey?”- Steven replied with another question.
It seemed that the question somewhat upset CJ, as he looks so uncomfortable. Steven quickly changed his answer, laughing it off:
“Just kidding! You know I’ll always get lemon juice.”
CJ went into the kitchen, grabbing the drinks. Steven waited on the couch, watching TV. Some of the channels feature him, a rising celebrity. Steven smiles at his appearance, he seems to enjoy the fame that he has right now. Once CJ returns with the drinks, Steven turns the TV off. The two had some quick talk, catching up with each other’s lives.
“...I can't believe you're still talking to that chick.”- Steven laughs.
“About that Scott guy, are you still seriously hanging out with him?”- CJ got serious, suddenly changing the topic.
“Scott is chill, he isn’t what people say about him. I have been drinking with him this whole time and I can promise you, he is a good guy.”- Steven replies.
“Sure, he might be good in your eyes but I’m telling you. He’s using you for your money. I’m sure you noticed that you have been spending big.”- CJ warns.
“Listen, I haven’t even looked at my bank account once this past year. Who do you think you’re talking to? Steven Miller! I have almost bottomless pockets.”- Steven replies.
“You don’t want me to get there. Your ego is blinding you Steven.”- CJ said.
“You are my friend. So why can’t you understand that Scott is also my friend? Homies look out for each other all the time!”- Steven replies, getting angrier.
“He isn’t your friend. I am. I have known you since we were young, I’m telling you right now that he is just USING YOU!”- CJ also gets riled up.
A brief moment of silence occurs between the two, both are considerably angry now.
“Are you just jealous that I’m spending my money for Scott and not you?”- Steven asks.
“It’s not about the money, I don’t even WANT your money. It’s about what you’re doing right now, and it’s not good for you.”- CJ said.
“YOU DON’T KNOW WHAT’S GOOD FOR ME! YOU CAN’T EVEN BE A FULL FLEDGED ACTOR. YOU ARE JUST A FAILURE WHO LIVES WITH HIS PARENTS.”- Steven broke out in anger.
Steven shocked himself. He couldn’t believe that he just said that. He looked directly at CJ, who was staring at the ground. Steven was about to reach out to apologize, but stopped himself.
“You aren’t wrong, but look at yourself first. Your parents have been contacting me, asking day in and day out where you are. You can’t even treat your own family right. They are worried about you and yet you are just out partying non-stop.”- CJ slowly replies.
Strangely enough, even though CJ isn’t yelling back in anger, his words just seemed to hurt, like a dagger piercing through Steven’s heart. Steven refused to accept reality, standing up and taking his leave. The sun is halfway to setting as Steven walks out of the house, leaving CJ sitting. He rushes to the limousine waiting outside, getting in quickly before the driver could even get out of the car.
“How was…”- The driver was about to ask.
“Take me to the bar.”- Steven interrupts.
The driver understood the request and inquired no more, he quietly drove Steven to the bar. As Steven sits there in the back seat, sad and frustrated, he sees the missed call from his parents, who have been calling him everyday. Another call suddenly came, “Mom” the name said. Steven picks it up in anger, before his mom could he say a world, he yells:
“STOP CALLING ME ALREADY! I’M BUSY, AND YOU GUYS ARE BOTHERING ME! JUST STOP!”
Steven quickly ends the call, turning off his phone and looking out the window. The limousine soon arrived outside the bar, Steven left and went inside without a single word. He enters the backroom again, trying to drink away his frustration.
“What’s wrong? Why do you look so down?”- Scott asks.
“...Nothing… Just got into some dumb arguments.”- Steven replied, staring at the wall.
“Don’t worry, no matter what, I got your back. Just let me know if anything is wrong.”- Scott said with a confident smile.
“You are my true friend.”- Steven said, laughing and drinking.
The pattern of drinking and partying at night continues. Steven’s performance at his job seems to worsen as he is constantly hungover. 3 days later, something unexpected happened.
“So we used your card to pay yesterday night, and well… they declined it.”- Scott said.
“No way! Are you sure?”- Steven said, already somewhat tipsy from drinking.
“We are friends here. I had your back when you needed help. Why didn’t you have our back when WE needed help?- Scott sternly asks.
“That doesn’t make sense, my card should be fine… It must be my parents, they probably got mad at me and locked my access to the cards! THOSE USELESS FOOLS!”- Steven gets angry, taking more sips of his drink.
“It’s fine, I don’t blame you. Just enjoy yourself here.”- Scott smiles with a very creepy look.
“His usefulness has come to an end. He might think that his parents locked his card, but in reality we have spent just a little too much of his money. Get rid of him.”- Scott said to one of the guys next to him.
Steven is too drunk at this point to notice what’s going on or even hear what Scott said. The guy Scott talked to sent his girlfriend out, executing their plan. She escorted the very drunk Steven to a nearby hotel, something he is used to everyday. Instead of having an affair, she told the drunk Steven to take a selfie of himself. Since he is too drunk to notice that he is naked, Steven complied, taking a selfie. The girl quickly snatched his phone away as Steven collapsed on the bed and passed out. She sent the picture to her boyfriend, and with a smile she got naked and laid down next to him. A few hours later, around 4 A.M. a group of men busted into the room. Steven woke up from the commotion, confused about what’s going on. He looked over to his left, seeing a girl crying and claiming that he assaulted her. The guys rush in, and before Steven could even react, they beat him to a pulp. They threw him outside naked. Since it’s a busy partying district, many people were around to see everything. They took pictures and recorded Steven, who is half conscious. It took a whole 20 minutes before someone called the cops, who brought Steven to the hospital.
“Where...where am I?”- Steven woke up, looking around the white ceiling.
His whole body is in pain as Steven realizes that he is on a hospital bed. He has bandages all over him, black eyes, and multiple broken bones. As he looked over to his left, the nurse watching him said:
“The patient is awake!”
She rushes out of the room, bringing back a doctor who checks his pulse and condition. Steven found out that he has been knocked out for 3 days, coming close to critical conditions many times. The nurses said that she will contact his parents, since they went home to rest. During the wait, Steven looks up at the news playing on TV. His story is the talk of the town, with videos of him naked on the street shown censored on TV. Many other celebrities chimed in their opinions, most were negative about what he did. His own coworkers also all came out, calling him a drunk douche, or a handsome guy with no brain. He has also been dropped from all the movie projects he has been working on due to the sexual assault allegation. Most damning evidence came from his social media post of him naked of that night. They also show the online reactions to what he did:
“What a clown! You deserve to rot.”
“A waste! So handsome but such a terrible human.”
“Free Steven, he did nothing wrong.”
“He wasn’t that good either way, they over hyped his acting skills”
“LMAO! Who names their kid Steven Miller? xd.”
Steven can do nothing but just look at them, saddened by the reality that’s finally sinking in. He waited and waited for the moment he dreaded would come, as he doesn’t know what to do when he faces his parents. As he hears footsteps rushing down the hallway, his heart pounds more rapidly. A pull sound can be heard as air rushes into the room. Steven looks over, and sees his parents who he has finally met for the first time in months. They have aged considerably since the last time he saw them, probably due to the stress caused by him. Steven can do nothing but feel the aching in his heart, waiting for his parents to yell at him. What came next was instead his mom rushing at him, giving him a big hug.
“I WAS SO WORRIED! I THOUGHT YOU WOULDN’T MAKE IT STEVIE! I’M SO SORRY!”- His mom embraced him, her eyes filled with tears.
His dad stood next to her. The person he had never seen crying once in his whole life, was shedding tears.
“Mom, why are you apologizing? Dad, why are you crying? It’s all my fault! Why aren’t you guys mad at me?”- Steven screams in his head, unable to say it out because of his injury.
He realized he was wrong this whole time. He should have listened to them. They were the ones that cared the most about him. Tears flowed from his eyes uncontrollably, as Steven cried his heart out.
Days later, as he recovered more from his injuries, Steven finally regained his ability to speak. He spoke to the nurses and doctor, who he knew some hated him, but is just doing their job. One day, an unexpected visitor came to visit Steven.
“Hey dude.”- CJ said, walking in.
Steven was surprised. After what he said to CJ, Steven never expected to ever see him again, but here CJ stood, right in front of him.
“I’m sorry.”- Steven said.
Those were the words he should have said long ago, it might have even saved him if he had realized soon enough. CJ smiles, pulling out a chair and sitting right by the bed.
“Not a big deal.”- CJ answers with a smile.
The two talked it out just like the old days, with CJ confident that Steven didn’t assault the girl. There is nothing the two can do anymore at this point, so they can only try to move forward.
“I’ll drop by later, and hey! If you’re still feeling down for what you said to me. I kinda realized you were somewhat right and managed to land a job working at a nearby clothing store. I know it’s nothing much, but it’s a start.”- CJ gave a confident look and took his leave.
Steven was already feeling better about himself, smiling a lot more as he talked to his parents. Eventually, he noticed that something was wrong, but every time he asked, his parents would brush it off and not elaborate. His days at the hospital continued. One day, when he was about to nap, he overheard the nurses talking, thinking that he was sleeping.
“Poor the Millers, they have to deal with such a terrible situation. Apparently, this guy spent all of his money partying. So after he was sent to the hospital, they had to pay for all of his bills.”- One nurse said.
“I heard that he also injured some guy in that fight at the hotel, and now his parents also have to pay that guy’s bill too. They apparently had to take out loans to be able to make the payments.”- The other nurse adds in.
“I don’t know how long they can keep it going.”- The first nurse said.
They took their leave after tidying up the room, leaving Steven to sit there and think. His memory was hazy, but Steven was confident that he wasn’t the one that injured the guy. His intuition was correct, as it was a one way beat down that night, with him on the receiving end. One of the guys faked his injury to try to leech money out of Steven’s parents. Just thinking of that made Steven’s blood boil, he is disappointed in himself for causing this. Soon, afternoon came as his parents showed up for a visit. They talked about mundane things, laughing and smiling.
“Is it just me or have you been losing weight recently?”- Steven asks.
He knows that his mom isn’t on any kind of diet, as he was trying to get her to reveal their financial situation.
“Oh, it’s nothing honey. Give it a few weeks and the weight will pick itself back up!”- His mom said with a smile.
Realizing that his parents won’t say anything no matter how much he asked, Steven just smiled and changed the topic. After an hour has passed, Steven’s parents have to take their leave for the night. Steven took his chance to say something to his parents.
“Mom… Dad… I love you all very much. Sorry for troubling you all this time. I’m a terrible son.”- Steven said.
“Don’t mind it. Rest well so you can be discharged soon.”- His dad said.
“See you tomorrow!”- His parents said.
“Bye!”- Steven replies.
As midnight arrived, Steven looked around his room to check for nurses. No one was there. With some great struggle, Steven managed to climb out of his bed, slowly making his way out of the room. Using the bathroom excuse to the nurses that aren't assigned to him, Steven made his way down to the main floor. He quietly took his leave. Since the police found him in critical condition before, they sent him to the nearest hospital. That worked in his favor as he found his way near the bar, trying to see what Scott was up to. Just like his intuition guessed, Scott can be seen leaving the bar with a new drunk celebrity. It’s pretty much confirmed for Steven now, Scott was just using him. He laughs as he walks through the night, tears rolling down his eyes.
“I’m such a fool. Even in the end, I still caused trouble for so many people.”
“If I wasn’t born, my parents would have been living a way better life.”
“If only I wasn’t born looking like this, maybe I wouldn’t have gone to this point. No, that’s just me deflecting my responsibility.”
Steven’s thought flooded him as he found himself on a bridge. He looked down at the dark, serene waters, lit by the moon. He climbed over the guardrail, looking aimlessly down to the river, the night breeze shaking his clothes.
“If I die here, my parents won’t have to suffer anymore.”- the thought echoes.
With his eyes closed, Steven takes a big breath, jumping off the bridge.
“What’s going on?”- Steven thought to himself.
The seemingly endless darkness turns to light as he wakes up, seeing a room filled only with bright light. A confused Steven stood up, it seemed like his body was no longer in pain. He walked towards the light, to the center of the room where a beautiful blonde goddess waited. Her expression is calm, looking directly at Steven.
“Welcome, lost soul. This is the afterword, where all the souls of those who experienced unfortunate deaths are given a second chance.”- She calmly states.
“Well, in your case. You choose to take your own life. A sin that is unforgivable as you waste the precious thing that is life.”- She follows up.
“I had no choice. Me living would just cause everyone more pain. Dying is the only way to fix it.”- Steven desperately reasons with her.
“What about your parents? Have you considered the feelings of those who are left behind?”- The Goddess asks.
“I..I…”- Steven struggles to come up with a reply, choosing to remain silent.
“Since you wasted the gift that is life, also failing to realize your own worth. You will not receive a miracle from the gods.”- The Goddess states.
“You will instead receive a punishment based on what you fail to understand while living. You could not accept your good looks in real life, so now you will be reborn as a hideous monster that everyone will fear. No one will ever attempt to talk to you or trust you because of the nature of monsters.”- She explains.
“I hope you can accept yourself for who you are. Be selfless, have friends who will trust you. Not those fakes you fail to realize while living.”- The Goddess said, her tone is soothing.
“I understand. I’ll seek the true companionship that is out there, no matter the amount it takes.”- Steven replies.
“Good luck on your journey, lost soul. May you find what you seek, you will now be reborn into the world of Ataxia. Go on, become something beyond yourself.”- The Goddess said.
Bright light flashes as Steven’s body contorts, changing form as he is sent into Ataxia.
Claudius wakes from his dream as he looks around. He sees Leo sleeping right next to him. Natalie, Amber and Sophia all sleeping on the other side of the campfire, all sharing a blanket.
“It's a big coincidence that the story of my past I told them happened to show up in my dreams also.”- Claudius thought, smiling.
“The strangest thing is that Leo seemed to completely believe my story without any doubts, as if he had experienced something similar. Maybe I should ask him about it later.”- Claudius thought to himself again.
“I wonder, have I done it, Goddess? Is this the true companionship I seek all this time? They accepted me for who I am. Well, only time can tell I guess.”- Claudius chuckles, looking up at the morning sky.