Work Header

Sickening Conundrums

Chapter Text

Joki stares wide-eyed at the glowing, sunlit fish floating towards him in the moonlight. Neon signs and the hospital lights dazzled his eyesight, the view of the fish almost illuminating. It was sickening. The lights were swallowing his field of view, sweat was building up on his forehead, and there was nothing he could do to stop it.

The hospital workers were sickening. They were these strange, one-eyed, artificially pastel creatures with more bandages than the patients. They knew more about Joki than he knew about himself. Yet there was clearly no use in banging the window, they lost interest in caring for their amnesiac patient.

He blinked back to reality. The sun fish was mere inches away from his face, its wide, googled eyes burning straight through his soul. Skulls floated awkwardly within the glowing body of the googly-eyed fish, with hundreds of tiny scales lining next to them. They looked stupidly dumb, yet something about the situation just made him exceedingly frightened. Joki’s blue hair nearly puffed up in fear like a cat, his legs trying uselessly to move back.

His breath caught and his eyes squeezed shut and his body eventually gave in, sliding down against the glass wall. Joki’s head tilted down, trying desperately to avoid the impending doom above him. His hands met his head as thoughts began to tumble through his head like uninvited guests at his own mind’s party. Taking in a shaky breath, Joki tried to rationalize.

“Just wait it out man... This is fine, cool even,” he tried to convince himself, feeling his body shrink further into his black hoodie. Then it clicked, his irrational rational conclusion to what was happening.

“Oh, well fuck... never been high before, so here’s a first,” Joki half realized, half forced. “It’s just floating giant fish and... glitchy people. This is just, a dream, that feels way too real.”

He felt his heart rate pick up again. The dazzling lights around him just kept getting brighter. The sunlit fish kept getting closer. Joki sucked in another shaky, forced breath, his throat nearly closing in from the sickening feeling in his gut. A laugh escaped without a smile, more out of pity for himself.

“Hahaha... amazing. Just an awful dream,” Joki breathed out, his head buzzing. “I’m high... so gone, I’m gone...”

Smoke billowed from afar. He was too gone to notice.


Ace, did not trust a single person. Maybe he didn’t make it obvious enough sometimes, but nothing could be quite the same as whatever past he had. Did he want to know his past? Sometimes he did, sometimes he didn’t. It was always a conundrum in his mind.

Now, taking that for granted, Ace would not believe himself if he said he was gonna save a blueberry-haired kid from some giant ass fish. No way in hell. He could barely believe himself when he was gonna eat something healthy, never mind actually helping someone else.

His choices, were in fact, a conundrum. Not even Ace knew how he ended up doing them, yet he still did. He supposed that was just how the world worked. So, would the old Ace really be that surprised if he knew that was what he chose?

He guessed not.

Hopping down from where he sat, cigar landing on the ground, Ace swiftly cocked his gun before taking a quick shot at the behemoth that was the fish. It didn’t have much chance to react — not that it could, anyways. The shot sliced straight through the beast, before a rightful explosion of orange guts followed suite. A single splatter landed on Ace’s strangely marked mask, before he quickly wiped it off.

Walking silently up to the weird looking kid (not like he was one to talk), he leaned down and picked up the card drop from the fish, which was apparently named ‘Markka’. He examined the print on the card, still getting grasps on the reality of the new system.

“Did... did, you just... shot the giant thing...?” Ace glanced over at the panicking blue boy. “What the hell is happening?” God, he looked liked a blueberry. Kinda cute, Ace wasn’t gonna lie. But that was besides the point, he supposed his pals at home would care more about the kid.

Ace snorted, throwing his arms up in the air as an exaggerated gesture. “The apocalypse, dude, that’s what’s happening!” The boy gave an exasperated expression, very obviously out of tune with everything going on. Ace’s arms fell back down to his side, relaxing.


Ace had to hold back a chuckle from how silly the boy looked. He grabbed him by the arm, then quickly pulled him along to make their way back to the van.

“H-hey! Wait!” The boy tried to yank back his arm, but Ace kept a firm grip as they continued to walk. “God — hold on! Where are you taking me?” He spat out, flustered. “Who are you anyways?”

Ignoring the questions, Ace quickened his pace. “Hurry man, or more Animated are gonna start showing up!” Of course, there wasn’t actually that much chance of anything bad happening, but he felt like messing with the kid a bit. It was truly a conundrum, how he thought of others. Sometimes everything with him was a conundrum.

“Animated? Wh... do you mean monsters?” The boy asked. Ace frowned, getting distracted for a moments as he glanced up to meet his startled gaze. He didn’t like being shorter than yet another person.

“Dude, the world is gone. Nothing’s the same anymore,” Ace stated, truthfully this time. He did find the reactions from the blue kid funny, though.

“The world ended?!” He replied, with a half disbelieving, half shocked expression.

“Yeah man, duh. You’re lucky I found you.” They turned the corner, reaching the van that Ace considered one of his best friends. He’d spent hours cleaning off all the grime, but it was worth it. He gestured to the kid to get in the car, but didn’t leave much choice as he pushed him in.

“What about my family?” The blue kid asked in a still-panicky voice, slightly resisting Ace’s push.

“Probably dead,” Ace replied dumbly, like he actually knew. “No time to cry. We need to get outta here. There’s barely any humans left in this city, you and I are one of the few survivors.”

“But don’t worry, you’re safe with me now.” He gave one last push into the van, then flashed a hidden smile under his mask.

“What? W-wait — no!” Looked like he was having a bit of a meltdown. Ace gave a light shove, with the boy landing on the pile of blankets near the door. He didn’t know whether to find the boy’s panicked state annoying or kinda cute. Yet another conundrum.

Ace was getting sick of that word describing his life.

“You can’t trust anyone here, alright?” He explained, not liking the hint of concern in his voice. “One wrong move and you’re dead.”

“Huh,” the boy replied, still looking slightly dazzled. Ace relaxed he shoulders a bit, seeing that the blueberry kid was looking more confused than scared. The boy flipped onto his back and lay on the blankets uncomfortably, glancing around at the various trinkets in the van. He didn’t want to brag or anything, but Ace spent quite a while getting all of them.

“Oh yeah, you should probably change those clothes,” Ace mentioned casually, “you’re gonna get some monster rabies, or fish rabies in this case. Or some weird shit.” Of course, there wasn’t actually much to be concerned about from the goop. He’d been covered in enough monster blood to know that — it just grossed him out and got all over the van. His poor baby van.

“What’s your name anyways?” Ace asked, sitting down next to him. The kid’s hair was even more blue up close. “Your hair’s super blue, odd... but I dig the style, dude.”

“I-I... what?” He responded, eyes widening. His expression hardened into a glare. “No. You know what, no! What the fuck is going on?!” Ace blinked, taken aback by the sudden anger. And here he was thinking this kid was just some confused soul.

“Who the hell are you? You...crazy creep!” Ouch. “And tell me what’s really going on... did you drug me? Are you kidnapping me?” Ace blinked even harder, trying to process what the hell was going through this guy’s mind. He seemed rationally irrational, or irrationally rational. Did that count as another stupid conundrum? Ace hoped not.

“Woah there, bud. I didn’t drug you,” he reassured, although he felt less keen to be concerned about the kid after his sudden outburst. Angry people always messed with his vibes. “You should know this is all real by now, man. So let’s just calm down, alright? What’s your name?” The boy wipes the fish guts off his face, an exasperated expression finding its way back.

“Well, it’s Joki for you,” the blueberry kid replied. Ace blinked, taking in his facial features through his mask.

“Cute.” He then turned and reached for his backpack, hoping explaining some stuff would convince Joki to calm his ass down. “Whatever, it’s cool. Call me Ace.”

He felt like Joki’s eyes were staring straight through the mask. Ace gulped.