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2011.09.01 21:02 OKfuneraldirector Ask a Funeral Director
Welcome to AskFuneralDirectors! A place to ask questions or post information about Funerals, Embalming, Cemeteries, Cremation, or anything in the Death Care Industry. Please check out our FAQs and helpful information below...
2014.02.13 22:31 artisurn Cremation: Discussion & Cremation
Respectful discussion on the topic of cremation for your loved ones and pets.
2023.06.03 22:20 InkDiamond (cont.) It’s the end of the universe. To celebrate, you just want to chill with your best friend. After all, he’s the only other remaining person in the whole world. But to your surprise, he reveals that you’re not the only one invited to his party…
Here's the first half of the story
The two teens both looked toward the front of the room. There was a gray sphere. Hovering in the doorway.
But if you asked Marc, it was an annoying
gray sphere. And it hovered in the doorway like an absolute rustnut
Marc wasn’t sure where on the sphere to level his disdain. The whole dumb surface was the same all over. It was a series of interconnected, translucent hexagons. Stupid yellow lights blinked sporadically across its many faces—for no apparent rhyme or reason—perhaps just to further annoy Marc.
An electronic voice called out from the sphere. “Did I hear muuuuuusic?” he asked. “Before that last plasma burst?”
Marc shot Sid a glare that could kill. But the big blue alien didn’t back down.
Remember?” he told Marc before going toward Tōn-E with a brimming, sharp-toothed smile and arms extended. “Tōn-E! Glad you could make it! Come on in.”
On the inside, Marc cringed. He mostly tried to forget that Tōn-E walked (hovered?) the same Levels as them. Tōn-E represented the most self-destructive habits of the Outpost. The only features of the city indifferent to survival.
But Tōn-E was all too real. He entered the room like a ghost in a nightmare.
“I am also happy to be here,” he said. The faces of his sphere randomly lit up as he spoke. “I otherwise had no plans for tonight. Because the planet is set to explode.”
“Yes, I’ve heard,” Sid joked.
“I approximate it will only take a few more—hold on. What is this??”
Tōn-E spun slowly in the air. The side previously facing Sid rotated toward the ceiling. When it reached the top, a spotlight shot toward the ceiling—right where Sid’s door had slotted in.
The spotlight stretched horizontally across the door until it resembled a straight line. This line swept back and forth across the raised door. It moved as if he was cleaning it.
“I don’t believe it!” Tōn-E said. “What an exquisite painting. A remarkable addition to your growing and ever-expanding portfolio, Sid.”
Tōn-E finished his scan of the painting. His expanding spotlight shut off. And he re-centered himself to face Sid.
“Aww, shanks,” Sid said. Each of his right arms latched onto the bends of the left ones. “You really think so?”
“Of course! There are colors here I’ve only seen named in the logs. You have tastefully incorporated /#FF00FF: a color our ancestors previously referred to as ‘magenta.’”
“Yes! That’s right! I was going for ‘magenta!’ You really think I did it?”
Marc looked down to hide his face. He rolled his eyes. Magenta.
He would have loved to tell Sid how much he liked it too. But Marc had spent his years surviving
, not studying colors in old, useless historical archives.
Sid and Tōn-E continued their snooty, pretentious discussion.
“I made it mixing legblee blood and just a liiiiiiittle bit of groundwater,” Sid said.
“That was a very clever! Allow me to save your painting to my internal memory.”
“Really??” Sid’s cheeks greened a little.
“Yes, I will review at a later time when I am both unable to view the original but would still like to once again be inspired by your clever and skillful hands.”
“Tōn-E, I—I don’t know what to say. Thank you.”
Marc simmered in his anger. Stupid Tōn-E.
Always ruining things. Making them about him and his dumb, endless archives.
“I am perhaps only more impressed by your chosen ensemble! Do my eyes perceive veritable Lenorkian armor?”
The talkative orb whooshed toward Sid. It began revolving around him like an annoyingly-attached moon. As his exo-orb hummed excitedly, Tōn-E rattled off his useless knowledge of antiquated armor.
“Snorp-resistant spiked shoulder caps?!” He spun around Sid’s midsection. “Triple-layered chest plates?!” He dropped closer to the floor. “Anti-gravity shin guards made from the rare lenorkium alloy?!”
Tōn-E giggled as he orbited Sid. His laugh disturbed Marc. It sounded like a space rat being strangled in the bowels of an undersea air vent.
Sid could hardly keep up with Tōn-E’s flying. But he looked happy with the attention. “Yeah! I’m told this suit was built for the Frost Ring wars,” he said. “It never got used.”
Marc continued to not engage. He slunk deeper into his shawl, folded his arms, and sighed.
“I don’t believe it!”
He backed off from Sid, flying back toward the doorway. He turned on his spotlight once again. It now stretched over Sid’s body. “Saving! Saving!”
Sid wasted no time posing for the occasion. He flexed all four arms and gritted his snaggling teeth. His irises turned a deep red and his two small horns protruded from his forehead. Tōn-E was overjoyed. “I did not think I would ever have the chance to record your agitated state,” he said. I’ll show
you an agitated state,
Marc thought to himself.
“I’ve got a relic you’re going to love,” Tōn-E said. His tiny sphere filled the cave with noise. But it wasn’t Tōn-E’s usual metallic voice. The sound came from another species entirely.
His orb played an intense, ear-shuddering roar. The recording may have been slightly fuzzy, but Marc knew the source. It was unmistakably Lenorkian.
And like the gears in a drill, something appeared to “click” inside Sid. His eyes widened. His armored chest expanded. And he joined in. But Sid’s roar was… authentic.
“HRRRRRRRRRGAAAAAAAAHHHHH” he blasted out of mouth. Marc’s entire rib cage vibrated uncomfortably.
It spooked Marc. Igniting some primal desire to escape a dangerous predator. That was a feeling he never felt around Sid. He didn’t like it.
Sid himself even looked embarrassed for a second. Something he’d kept suppressed had slipped out. But Tōn-E turned up the volume on his recording. And with a cautious smile of someone nervously breaking a rule, Sid matched it. And then some. The two bellowed together. It was enough to make Marc queasy, although it was unclear whether it was due to the vibrations or Sid bonding so much with Tōn-E.
The roaring continued. Their talking continued. Tōn-E went on about Sid’s armor some more and his people’s valor and the hardship his ancestors must have faced.
“Usually I keep this stuff stashed away,” Sid said to Tōn-E in his soft normal voice. His horns had retracted, and his eyes had returned to normal. “These are shameful pieces of our history. Truly. And with a people I never really fit in with. But tonight, it just felt right to wear it, you know?”
“I understand completely,” Tōn-E said. “It is in these end times that we gravitate toward those traditions that were so much of what made us feel alive in the first place.”
The statement made Marc want to hurl. He didn’t want to entertain such stupid notions. But the gremlin rotated to him next.
“Hello Marc! Did you find any good junk today? Any new additions to your scrap pile?”
Marc seethed. “I didn't scavenge today, Tōn-E
. There wouldn't be any use. It's the end of the universe.”
“That surprises me. Humans love their junk and doodads.”
“Yeah well, we don’t have to cling to the past, do we? Not like that ever saved anyone.” He hugged his wrapped arms even tighter, tilting his body away from Sid and Tōn-E. His cold shoulder ended the conversation.
Sid picked it back up. “So Tōn-E, do you, uh… drink?”
As it turned out, he did. Tōn-E accepted a cup of fludge. He held it with a robotic arm—one that had suddenly extended from his exo-orb. Tōn-E’s orb whirred as the center of his “face” sprouted a grotesque, needle-like proboscis. It poked outward like a long nose.
This straw extended into the cup he held. Tōn-E sipped the fludge like an insect sipping nectar (whatever those two things were; the Archives were spotty).
Sid waited with anticipation. Then Tōn-E’s sphere shuddered. The fludge must have reached the insufferable little creature on the inside. “Scrumptious!” he said.
Marc sighed quietly to himself. For some reason, he thought the night would have made a turn for the better if Tōn-E had hated it.
“Two for two!” Sid pumped three victorious fists into the air. He grinned as Tōn-E’s straw dipped into the cup once more. The straw made a little slurping sound.
“My taste buds are tingling!” Tōn-E said.
But the big cup was too much for him to finish. He returned the mostly-full drink to Sid. And his robotic straw receded to his exo-orb. Sid of course finished the cup, slurping up the remaining pool of fludge.
“So…” Sid said. He wiped his mouth. “Should I put some tunes back on?” He pointed over his shoulder to the idle vent. Then he looked across his two guests for an answer.
Marc shrugged. He didn’t care about anything anymore. Next to Marc, Tōn-E bobbed excitedly.
“Oh, yes!” he said. “One reads about concepts such as scales and measures, but it is entirely different to actually experience them with one’s own body!” What body?
Marc thought to himself. And what were the other things Tōn-E had mentioned? Something about… measuring… dragons?
He studied the cave floor while Sid skipped to the vent.
“That’s what I’m talking about!” Sid said. “Get those Level 7 legs ready!” He tugged at the creaking cover once more.
It came off easier this time. With a pop!
the storm above returned to the cave. Its natural melody filled the room.
“Woooooooo!” Sid raised his hands again and walked back toward the other two.
Tōn-E mimicked him with two twig arms.
But the music didn’t have the same magic as before. The beats were stale. And Marc found himself unable to ignore the sting of the sand pelting his face. He lifted his shawl over his mouth. His voice was barely audible.
“I’m sitting this song out,” he said.
The other two didn't seem to hear him. They were facing each other, waving their arms sporadically against the air current.
Marc didn’t care. He grabbed his unfinished drink from the kitchen. Then he searched for a place to sit.
He found a couch, just in front of the dancing aliens. As he took his seat, his bottom started to sink into the sofa. The tarp covering the couch crinkled.
He tried guessing the material underneath it. Clay, maybe? He pondered the question while watching Sid and Tōn-E figure out dancing without him.
“This is how Marc was doing it before!” Sid said to Tōn-E. His four arms fanned across the breeze.
But he got everything wrong. His arms whipped around
the wind, not with it. And he was thinking too much
about his next move, as evidenced by his scrunched brows. But the greatest offense of all was his midsection: his hips and legs stayed in place—as if someone had threatened them.
A part of Marc wanted to get up and show him how it was done. But another part wanted to see Sid fail. Realize the effort was futile. Give up on bonding with Tōn-E. And kick the Sphere of Useless Facts out of his house.
“Am I doing it right, Marc?” Sid asked while each of his arms flew in a different direction.
“You look great!” Marc replied. He took a long sip of fludge.
Tōn-E, on the other hand, did his best to replicate Sid. He waved his skinny arms erratically. It almost made Marc laugh; Tōn-E looked like he’d been set on fire.
But in all, the whole thing was awful. A bad impression giving birth to an even worse impression.
And they didn’t seem to be enjoying it much either. Despite Marc’s glowing endorsement, Sid and Tōn-E danced themselves to the brink.
Sid kept losing his balance. He tried to keep up with the music but flung himself too hard in any one direction. And every time he made a misstep, he’d let loose an acidic snarl. Tōn-E grew frustrated as well. Every few seconds, he simply froze. His exterior lights would blink red in error. As Marc had hoped, the two “painting pals” quickly ran out of steam.
The dancing halted altogether. A tired Sid returned to the vent and hoisted the grate back onto the vent’s mouth. The music stopped.
“I’ll just turn it down for a minute,” he said. He adjusted a dial on the grate. The metal slits creaked open. And a muted sandstorm flowed through them.
The music reflected the overall energy in the room: depleted. Sid secured himself two more cups of fludge before joining Marc on the tarp couch.
Tōn-E followed his lead. The little troll took a seat too, which meant hovering over the last open spot on the other side of Marc.
The boys took a minute to relax on the couch. They sat quietly while the plasma storm above the Outpost boomed and cracked.
Well, Sid and Tōn-E relaxed. They chugged down another couple cups of fludge and floated quietly over the couch (respectively). Meanwhile, Marc continued to be annoyed. He considered stepping outside and climbing to Level 1. Offer himself to the plasma storm a few hours early. The non-stop hum of Tōn-E’s exo-orb goaded him further. Brrrrrrrrr!
Did it really have to make that noise?
Marc didn’t think the afternoon could get any worse. And then it did. Because Tōn-E’s insufferable humming suddenly quieted. And that
only could have meant…
“Oh!” Tōn-E exclaimed, “I know what we can talk about!”
Marc braced for impact. His nails dug into his knees. Don’t you dare,
“I read the most interesting fact about cats
today!” Tōn-E started. Not again,
Marc thought. Absolutely NOT again.
His fists trembled with rage.
“Did you know
cats were the central deity across ten different ancient civilizations? The trend started with humans, of course, but the religion quickly spread across the galaxy as interplanetary travel became more widely available.”
“I actually didn’t know that,” Sid said, entertaining Tōn-E’s ridiculous theory. “Where did you find that?”
“The Archives! They have somewhat documented this phenomenon. You see, it was a common practice to capture footage of cats, even in their sleeping state. They were so important to these cultures that even the most mundane moment yielded significant reason to capture and worship them. If you want to see, I can—”
Marc had had enough. He slammed his cup down on the floor and flew off the couch.
“—SHUT UP. SHUT UP
ABOUT CATS!” he shouted. He swung back around to face the other two. “CATS AREN’T REAL TŌN-E! AND THEY WERE NEVER
“That’s enough, Marc!
” Sid clenched his teeth.“Don’t start this.
Marc returned fire, “I didn’t start
anything; that was YOU. Going behind my back! Inviting more of these… fairy tales!
His emotions overwhelmed him. He didn’t know whether to yell more or start crying. He did both.
“It’s the end of the universe!” he said as tears streamed down his face. “We can’t keep clinging
to the things that brought us to this point in the first place! All these stupid traditions
are the reason no one’s even here with us now! IT KILLED THEM ALL! And anyone stupid
enough to keep believing in them is—"
“—I said THAT’S ENOUGH!
” Sid growled. Marc didn't care.
” he said. Then he looked back at Tōn-E. “NONE of what you’re seeing in the Archives is real!
The data is corrupt! It’s ALL CORRUPT!
And CATS are just another dumb fairy tale to keep people like you going, while…”
He ran out of steam. He realized there was no more “going.” In fact, there was no time remaining in the universe for anything. But that didn’t diminish his animosity and anger toward the world. He glared down at the gray sphere. His chest heaved.
Meanwhile, Sid kept a cooler, bluer head. He too looked to Tōn-E, but with compassion in his eyes.
Tōn-E didn’t immediately respond to either. The only sound in the room came from his exo-orb. Well, the exo-orb plus the ladle on the counter, which suddenly blooped
into the big pot.
All eyes were on the atypically quiet alien, whose hexagonal faces began to light up.
“I suppose,” his voice trailed, “that cats may not have been real after all. You said it yourself: records are foggy. They’re all from thousands of years ago...” He sighed. Tōn-E’s lights transitioned to a new blinking pattern. “And I also suppose… that I should have been more mature about interpreting error-prone information in the Archives…”
“It's okay, man,” Sid said. “I like that you dream big.” He reached across the couch to place a comforting hand on Tōn-E. But Tōn-E floated out of reach.
“I understand my presence here is probably upsetting,” he said. “You two have a special bond. I should not have interfered with it in its last moments. I will go.”
“No, Tōn-E,” Sid said. Each pair of his hands met in front of his chest “Please stay. You have every right to be here too.”
“I should go,” Tōn-E said. “I will spend the rest of the evening focused on real
things. And because I will no longer be here, I suppose it will be the perfect opportunity to review Sid’s art so I can feel inspired for the end times.”
He slipped between Sid and Marc toward the doorway.
“No, don’t!” Sid called after him. “We should do this together.
But Tōn-E had already vanished outside.
The Lenorkian, hand extended, waited for Tōn-E to come back. But the floating sphere did not reappear in the doorway.
And that was when a low trill emanated from the couch. It was coming from Sid’s his chest. He looked up at Marc, glaring. He bared his pointed teeth. His horns reappeared. And his eyes flushed with scarlet pigment. Yuh-oh,
Marc thought. About half his prior anger evaporated. Fear of a fight took hold.
Marc didn’t exactly dislike
his chances. Lenorkians may have been stronger, but Sid wasn't a fighter. Marc was.
But Sid stuck to his morals.
” Sid shouted.
Marc reflexively jumped out of reach. The short hop sort of ruined his show of anger. But he was still boiling mad. After all, fifty percent of him hadn't
abandoned the cat grudge.
” he shouted back. “Have fun exploding alone.” He whipped away to the exit.
The party was finished now. He almost stopped and went back for his fludge. But he didn’t want it anymore either. He just wanted a nice end of the universe with his friend. And now the end of the universe was ruined.
At least the apocalypse outside was behaving predictably. Marc stepped into the adjacent cave corridor. He surveyed the damage outside, looking through the long, horizontal gap in the cave wall. As the experts had predicted, the plasma storm took its toll.
The canyon glowed eerily bright, despite it being evening time. The wind howled as it raced through the canyon. And the cliffs around the gorge flashed white and pink as the storm charged with electricity, preparing to make its final jump.
Lightning cracked toward the ground. Some of the bolts hit the opposing cliff, sending rubble deep into the gorge. A gentle tremor rumbled in the ground beneath him.
The plasma storm overhead only creeped further around the planet. As the canyon brightened, shockwaves coursed through the entire city. They threw Marc off his feet again. He hit the ground.
Behind him, thunderous clacking erupted. The sound of falling rocks filled the corridor. He flipped over to see what explosion had thrown him.
It was bad. He stopped breathing. Because he could no longer see Sid’s home. All he saw was a pile of rubble.
submitted by InkDiamond
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2023.06.03 21:23 girl_from_the_crypt Stuck on earth and looking for a job: I'm being recruited by a cult
It’s nice not to be alone. I’ve been staying at Nettie Peterson’s house, tending to her garden in her stead while she's at work. I just sit there reading in the sun, to be honest. When she came back from the larvae today, she was in a surprisingly peaceful mood. Not exactly happy or content, but satisfied. I made us some tea and we settled in to soak up the flowery scents and sweet air. I took the time to tell her in detail about meeting Kit Sutton in the grotto, relaying the other woman’s message. It got a genuinely warm smile out of her; a sad one, but a smile nonetheless.
“Your server texted me earlier to apologize for… well, basically outing me and baring a private secret to my closest friend of five years,” she informed me. “Now that I think about it, I have no idea when or how that boy got my number… Oh, but he was sweet. I told him we were cool.” She took a long sip of her tea.
"Don't forgive him for my sake. If that's what's happening here."
"You really aren't mad anymore? I would be."
"I guess I'm just a very forgiving person." She gave me a sidelong grin and a shrug.
"Nettie, how'd your breeders die? I don't know if this is okay to ask. I hope it is."
"Uh." My savior human took a deep breath. "That, um… it's okay. Just unexpected. It was a car accident. That's all there is to it. I was at summer camp when it happened. Some college kid got drunk, sat down in his car and made me an orphan. I was thirteen… My auntie took care of me afterwards. You know, Elijah's mom. She tried, but it wasn't the same. She was too much for me sometimes, pretty often, if I'm being honest. My mother was so, so
different. Both my parents were. My dad had made it into money, so they were never really worried about my future or what I wanted to do with my life. They said I'd always have their support. I guess that made me kinda sheltered but… I don't know. I had a nice childhood, sue me."
She sighed. "Anyways, my aunt was really demanding when it came to school and stuff. I was always a good student but my grades dropped after my parents' crash, and it never got better. So she was picking fights over that all the time. I did recover over my last year, but no thanks to her, I'll have you know."
"And do you miss them?"
"Of course I do. Who wouldn't?"
Nettie leaned forward, catching my eyes. "Don't you miss your parents? Or was that different where you're from?"
"Breeders aren't like that at home." I paused. "Weren't. They protected their offspring for the first couple years of their life, but afterwards, everyone went their own way. And it was never more than that, just protection and a supply of nutrients. You wouldn't find any breeders kissing or cuddling their young like people do here."
"Oh. That's kinda sad."
"It's it? I never thought about it. Although sometimes I figure infancy in this dimension would have been a pleasant experience. It's nice being held. I wouldn't have minded it, had I known that feeling sooner." I raised my head to smile at her. "Then again, you've given me a lot in that regard."
Nettie reached out to squeeze my hand. "Baby girl." She said nothing else for a while. "So, what's this about Eli having to get his car fixed?"
"One of the windows got smashed in." I held her gently searching gaze. "Nothing was taken."
I groaned. "A folder. With an interrogation transcript from one of the murder cultists. Mary Markov gave it to me."
"And you didn't want to tell me this why?"
I pursed my lips.
Nettie Peterson crossed her arms, raising a brow at me. "I came clean about dating the fishwoman, so you really owe it to me to keep me informed on any magical stalkers you got."
"I don't know that I'd call them a stalker."
"What would you call them?"
"Jewel." My hand absently began tracing lines on my stomach. "That's their name, apparently."
"The creep who hit on you and then disemboweled you?"
"I don't know that they disemboweled me."
"They had to stuff your guts back in at the clinic," my savior human reminded me.
"Stop bringing that up, please." I feel so weak whenever I think about them. Totally helpless.
I took a deep, cleansing breath before settling against the backrest of my chair, grounding myself. Then I unpacked.
I'm turning into a regular unreliable narrator with my storytelling for this blog, aren't I. As you may or may not have guessed, there is another reason for me staying over at Nettie's the last couple days. Maybe she sensed it somehow—she claims to have mother's intuition, and even though she's not technically my parent, I believe her. Or perhaps Elijah Carter shared his suspicions with her. Either way, it's true. I seem to have acquired a stalker. I can't hold down a job but at least I've got that going for me. Let me stay over at the beginning.
The day after Eli and I had talked to Kit in the grotto—referring to her as Princess Chandra still doesn't feel right—I was driving out for gas. The whole time while I was filling up my car, I had this feeling that I was being watched. It was beyond uncomfortable, and I kept glancing into the rearview mirror during the drive back. I thought I could hear the roar of a motorcycle, but whenever I tried to focus on the sound or started looking for the source, it seemed to be escaping me. I double-checked whether I'd locked my door that night. In fact, I triple-checked. I was on edge. It was an eerie, uncanny sensation, like bugs crawling beneath my skin. I made dinner, then tried to sit still as I ate it in front of my television.
I ended up calling Elijah. We didn't talk about anything important, but he was glad to stay on the phone with me while I washed up and got ready for bed. It might have been his pleasing dark baritone or the weary relaxation that always swings along when he speaks, but something about his voice helped me unwind. I ended up falling asleep while still on the call. I was faintly aware of him saying my name and then chuckling and hanging up when he received a snore in response.
I have always enjoyed the transition into the sleeping state. My eyelids growing heavier, the world losing focus, my mind drifting off… It's such a soothing, peaceful process. I've found that I dislike dreaming, though. You never know what you get. I've had all sorts of rattling dreams, ranging anywhere from nightmarish and homesick to sexually confusing. But this one truly took the cake, as they say.
It started with me walking through an unfamiliar neighborhood that looked like an abstraction of my own. It was far too shiny and colorful, and not in an aesthetically pleasing way. I was not really walking either—my feet were heavy as lead, my bare skin unprotected from the harsh breeze assaulting my body. I kept staggering forward, aimless and confused, wishing for shelter but unsure of where to find it. My head was reeling from the hunger and desperation, and there was not a soul in sight to help. I started knocking on random doors, but nobody opened. House by house, I was getting increasingly frustrated. The knocks turned into incessant pounding, the sound mingling with my crying. The tears blurring my vision made it even harder to press on. Before long, I was weeping intensely, my steps becoming more frantic as I continued heading from door to door. Why was nobody answering me?
I could hear people talking in hushed voices behind the walls, I could see their silhouettes flitting to and fro in the windows. Anger began to bubble up inside me, heating up my chest and constricting my throat. My fist became more forceful as it clashed with the surface of each door, until I started to throw my whole body against them. My sobs turned into howls of fury, I was beginning to yell obscenities and outlandish threats before finally, my body started to turn. This wasn’t the silent transition I was used to, however.
I could feel my skin rip open
as it gave way for my tentacles to spring free. Normally, it’s like these extra appendages simply melt out of my body. It’s not painful, and I don’t even really pay attention to the sensation most of the time. But this, this was pure agony. I broke down in the middle of the street, wailing like a creature of myth. How could a dream give me this kind of anguish? I suppose I knew deep down that I was dreaming, and I willed myself to wake up, to emerge from this state…
That’s when a thought crossed my mind. Was this really a dream?
It didn’t seem like one. It felt way too real and structured, almost coming off as scripted. Like an experience that someone had thought up and planned out for me, vaguely meaningful, maybe in an attempt to prove some kind of point, maybe just to terrorize me. The realization had my blood run cold, and that little part of my conscience that was aware of this not being real went wild. What in the world was happening to me? Who was doing this to me, and just how
? And yet, a spark of fight lit up within me over it all. I had to tear myself out of this trance by any means necessary.
For a moment, I managed to push aside the pain and uncertainty, trying to focus
. I pushed against the heaviness of sleep, through the fog of my clouded mind. Apparently, that was enough. The surreal, unnaturally bright world around me grew dark and I could once more make out the familiar shadowy outlines of my bedroom. I was in the present, back in the actual, physical realm of the waking.
The first thing I noticed was that my eyes were burning
. There was a demanding pressure around my brows and lids, and my heart sank when I realized it was fingers peeling them open. My nightlight provided a soft blue sheen that came to rest on a chair that had been pushed up from my bedside, and furthermore, on the figure that occupied it. Their arms were extended, their hands resting on both sides of my face as they forced my eyes open. In the gentle cerulean glow, I recognized the shimmering vast irises of the cultist.
A deep, almost primal fear took hold of me. This was worse than the not-dream, a thousand times worse. The cold that seeped into my bones at the mere sight of them sent shivers running up and down my spine, trickling through my body like electric shocks.
I instantly started thrashing, or I would have liked to; except not a single muscle in my body would respond to the frantic outcries of my frenzied mind. My eyeballs had gone as dry as sandpaper, the painful sting penetrating my vision and setting my senses ablaze, paired with an accompanying feeling of nausea. And yet, I couldn’t help but remain transfixed on that horrid stare piercing into mine. My lips parted a mere fracture of an inch, just enough for me to take in a ragged, wheezing breath that I’d meant to give way to a shout. Not a single sound left my parched throat, though. Still, the cultist appeared to notice that I was awake.
With a sigh, they withdrew, releasing my eyes for me to blink furiously. The moment they averted their gaze, I covered my face with my hands, aggravated tears wetting my trembling palms. “You piece of shit,” I pressed out the second I regained my voice. “You fucking piece of shit…” I found myself unable to form any clear thoughts. My heart was thundering in my chest, my ears were ringing—I was a horrified, shaking mess.
“I didn’t think you’d wake up.” There was genuine astonishment in their tone. “Proper shame, too, I was just getting started.”
“What the fuck,” I breathed, still shielding my face. “How the hell did you get in here? Why… just… just why—what even was that?”
“What, you think doors keep me out? What a very human notion.”
I was slowly beginning to recover my wits, reason restoring to her throne. I squeezed my eyes shut, opening my mouth as my fangs came out. “You’re not getting out of here alive.”
“Calm down, okay? I was just having some fun. I was going to let you wake up, alright?” their disembodied voice came from my bedside. “I’m here to talk, is all.”
I vaguely turned my head in their direction. I knew I shouldn’t even bother, I should rip the bastard’s throat out now that I had the chance. There was something there, though; something in their words intrigued me. Besides, they could have easily killed me in my sleep, so why didn’t they? There was something they were after. I figured I would have to tell Mary Markov about this, and the more information I’d be able to give her, the better. “This feels like a fever dream,” I muttered.
“Doesn’t it?” Jewel asked giddily. “I get that a lot.”
“Speak then, leech. What is going on here?”
“I came to—Oh, will you open your eyes already? I’m not gonna try anything else, I promise. Cross my heart and hope to die.”
“Don’t you dare mock me.” I tried to mask the tremor in my voice. “Either you talk now or I swear I’ll skin you.”
“Okay, well. I’m here on behalf of the Collective. You have one week to report to the warehouse. We’ll have someone waiting there to welcome you. Simply put, you’ll join our cause. But you know, you can sleep on it or whatever. Take your time. I’m sure you’ll make the right decision soon, especially since there’s only the one option, really.”
I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. Part of me considered the possibility of all of this merely being part of another, bigger dream, but sadly, everything seemed to point against it. “What if I don’t?”
“Then we will
come after you and probably the rest of your little found family, too,” Jewel explained nonchalantly.
“You’re awfully sure I’d let you.”
“Yes, yes, you grow big, sharp teeth and tentacles, I get it. You’re a menace. To three to four people. But if you’re up against half a dozen, all armed and unintimidated by your admittedly glorious and utterly terrifying appearance, I imagine things would be different.”
I wanted to offer some sort of confident riposte, but I simply couldn’t. A tiny voice inside my head actually agreed. “So what is
your cause? Or are you aiming to recruit me based on fear alone?”
“Oh, not at all—I was just getting there. We want to, in essence, end all things.”
A brief silence settled upon us. I dropped my hands to lock eyes with Jewel, this time without any hypnotic side effects. They were beaming at me, my nightlight adding an unearthly quality to their bright, dimpling smile.
Jewel’s grin grew wider. “Oh, you heard me, baby. We want to… we will
bring about the apocalypse. It’s not going to be easy, and it’s not going to be fast. It’d be a boon if we had another being such as yourself at our side for it.”
Impossibly, the corners of the cultist’s mouth curled even further, their eyes shining with mirth. They tossed their pale blond hair, responding only with a huff of laughter.
“You,” I whispered. “You too.” I swallowed, reaching up to massage my throbbing temples. “Why do you want this world to end? You aren’t native to it, right? But do you really hate it that much?”
“Oh, it’s not that I hate it. I just don’t care for it all that much. Okay, listen, it’s not gonna be a real
apocalypse. It’s just gonna look like it for a moment. And sure, the humans may or may not survive—they probably won’t, not gonna lie—but it’ll be for the greater good, and the two of us are gonna make it for sure.”
I frowned. “What?”
“You keep saying that.”
“Yes, because you aren’t making any sense. I don’t get what you’re trying to tell me.”
Jewel sighed. “Well, I can’t give you everything
. Just… just trust me. You’ll want
to be on our side, you’re gonna want to help us. Again, you literally have no other choice, so… yeah.”
“You know, I’ve been asked to go on a murderous rampage by someone far more attractive before, and I still said no.”
“Oh, you won’t be doing any of the killing. Not much, at any rate.”
“That’s a great comfort to me,” I said, without much sarcasm at all.
Jewel tilted their head at me. “I gotta admit, I do not
get you. I kinda wish I did, though. Anyways, I guess I’ll leave you to it, then. Goodnight.”
“So you’ll head right out now? Just like that?”
They twinkled at me. “Want me to stay?”
“Oh, Lord, no.”
“Yeah, well, if you wanna fight now, I gotta disappoint you. I’m not feeling up to it.”
I wanted to tell them that it was not their decision to make, that I wouldn’t let them leave, but somehow, I thought better of it. Quelling the anger raging inside of me, I strained to keep my tone calm. “What was your home like? What kind of a dimension are you from?”
The question seemed to catch them off guard. “Please don’t ask me things like that.”
“You… just stop.” Their voice had suddenly become brittle and quiet. I’d rattled them. A warm feeling of glorious triumph surged through me like a wave.
“Do you remember what they called you back there? I don’t. Maybe we didn’t even have names, I really don’t know anymore.” I shrugged.
Jewel rose to their feet a little too quickly. Their eyes were shining with moisture, and before they could wipe them dry, a single tear rolled down their cheek. To my complete astonishment, it hardened the second it dropped off their chin, forming a tiny, sparkling yellow stone. They caught it with practiced precision, hastily stuffing it into the pocket of their jeans. “‘Scuse me, I, uh… I gotta go. See you soon.” Without losing another word, they headed out into the living room, and after another moment, I heard the front door slam. The noise of a motorcycle engine revving was carried in on the breeze through my open window a minute later.
I stayed seated upright in my bed, staring blankly at the wall across from me.
Thus ended my retelling of events to Nettie Peterson, taking us back into the garden. She regarded me with wide eyes, her jaw slackened. She then shook her head, letting out a string of incoherent murmurs as she sank back into her seat. “I don’t believe this,” she breathed. “What… what are you gonna do about this? You’re not seriously gonna go along with what that psycho wants from you, right? Have you told the agency yet?”
“No,” I admitted. “And I haven’t been to the warehouse either. My week is not up yet, so that’s probably okay… I really don’t know what to do, though.”
“Well, that’s an easy one. You call this Markov-lady, have her raid the warehouse and arrest every last one of those freaks she can find!”
“But they won’t leave it at that. They’ll come after me. And you, too.”
“Don’t worry about me. I can hold my own.n” lg
“I’m not saying you can’t, but—”
“No buts. I’ll be fine. Both of us will be. And I hope you know I won’t have you going back to your apartment after this. You’re staying here with me, where it’s safe.” Her eyes looked almost golden in the light of the setting sun. “Let's go back inside. It’s time I showed you where I hide my guns.”
I pursed my lips. “Gun-s? As in plural?”
“Oh, absolutely.” She took me by the hand, pulling me to my feet with a melodic hum falling from her lips.
I know I have a lot going on in my life right now, but Lord, am I grateful that this woman’s in it. X 1 2: deadbeat roommate 3: creepy crush 4: relocation 5: beach concert 6: First date 7: Temp work 8: roommate talk 9: a dismal worldview 10: warehouse 11: staircase 12: explanation 13: hurt 14: hospital 15: ocean 16: diner 17: government work 18: something in the caves 19: shopping cart 20: olms and Jewels 21: long hair
submitted by girl_from_the_crypt
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2023.06.03 21:06 Trash_Tia Camp Redwood are running out of counselors! These children ARE NOT CHILDREN. Update: our counsellors are not who they say they are.
Welcome to Camp Redwood! The feel-good camp for ALL AGES.
We toast marshmallows around the fire, tell spooky ghost stories, and hide in random secret military bunkers under the campgrounds! Because SOMETHING IS HERE WITH US.
Camp Redwood is the PERFECT PLACE for a summer getaway where we start EVERY DAY with a CAMP REDWOOD SMILE. Where our counselors disappear every five minutes, and our campers disembowel us for funsies! Did I forget to mention our littles aren’t actually eight years old, but fully grown adults?
We hope you enjoy your fucking stay!
We are also not responsible for any counselors revealing they are not who they said they are—and not who they appear to be.
So. There’s a LOT to tell you and not a lot of time to tell it.
Right now, I suppose you could say we are under lockdown—if that is the word. I want to go over the last several days to get you up to date. That’s all I can do right now. I can hope and pray the thing with Teddy’s voice does not get in here, and once again cry out for help—that I know is not coming. Not from the authorities, at least. But hey, if any of you fancy coming to rescue us, we’re in the middle of the Canadian wilderness. The closest rest-stop is maybe three fucking hours away. So have fun. Has it really almost been a week since I posted? Well, we’re still here!
And surprise, surprise, help is not coming. So, please excuse the salt. I am seventeen years old and I have been abandoned by the adults who were supposed to be looking after us.
Who were supposed to act under protocol if something like this happened. I know they were waiting for it—there are specific fucking guidelines on an emergency evacuation for counselors if this ever happened. But then the little shits took over before we could do anything. I guess I’ll start by letting you know that there are two of us left. (three, if we count Rowan, but I’m not). What I thought was going to be a quiet summer getaway with kids my age has turned into a nightmare.
For one, we have been cornered inside the head counselor’s underground secret bunker. If you want to know why she has a secret military bunker, I guess you should keep reading.
Because shit gets weirder than animal crackers having the power to turn adults into kids, and vice versa. When I made my first post, I thought that was it for us. I thought for sure there must have been a self-destruct somewhere—which meant whoever was running this camp was waiting for something like this. I was sure we were going to die, so after making the post, I have to admit with ya’ll—I just slept. I curled up, tried to ignore Harry and Carmel calling our names through childish laugher, and went to sleep with the thought in my head that I was completely at peace with what I had done with my life.
Sure, I was young. Seventeen years old is too young to be ripped apart by littles who are in fact grown adults. But as I was falling into slumber and allowing myself to fall, with my head resting in my lap, my head turned towards a separate pile of files on the other side of the room—I realized I really wanted to know how this was possible. There was so much I needed to know. Why did eight-year-old Eleanor Summers have a file where here birthday dated back to 1979? Why had supposedly innocent sugary snacks turned our adorable littles into mini psychopaths?
These kids were not kids, somehow. But how? How was that even possible? Could it be that the files were wrong?
1979 was definitely 45.
But Eleanor Summers couldn’t be 45 years old. I knew what 45 looked like. I knew that they thought like. They spent half of their time on Facebook laughing at outdated memes, and the other half… I don’t know, working? They have job’s! They’re happily married with kids, maybe soon grandkids! That was not Eleanor Summers. Because Eleanor Summers was most definitely eight years old. I had played several rounds of teddy-bears picnic, and spent hours reassuring her that Harry's ghost stories were in fact not real, enough times for me to know that this little kid was little—and a kid.
But something was bothering me. More than the secret military bunker, and magic age-regressing animal crackers. When I first signed up to Camp Redwood, one of the tag-lines to gain attraction had been, “Solve mysteries in the woods in the dead of night, with nothing but a flashlight and your fellow campers!” I had no idea I would be solving this thing on my own, trapped inside a bunker.
“What are you doing?” Rowan, who was still looking through Allison’s dinosaur laptop, turned to me with half lidded eyes, when I slowly got to my feet, careful not to make too much noise, and crept over to the pile of separate files which seemed to be crumbling apart from age. He kept his voice low, but it sounded almost like a whine. He could have been scared, but from the way he was sitting, cross-legged with a frowny face, I figured something must have been going on with him. The guy looked tired. More tired than normal.
The bags under his eyes were practically shadowing his face, and were an odd contrast to unusually ashy colored cheeks and slightly dilated eyes. Still though, Rowan refused to look vulnerable. I caught glimpse of Harry’s raybans sitting on his head, pinning back thick dark brown curls from falling in front of sleepy eyes. Maybe he was finally losing his cool and breaking out of the well-constructed façade he had been hiding behind since Teddy disappeared.
We had just narrowly escaped a crowd of psycho littles high on age-regressing sugary snacks who were doing who-the-fuck knows to the other counselors who had been captured, so I didn’t blame him looking like that. I guess he couldn’t look me in the eye, because in Rowan’s mind, he was the reason why this happened. He was the leader, and the camp had fallen to psychopathic little eight year olds who had taken half of the counselors hostage, and the other half—most likely taken apart in the physical sense, after what we had witnessed in Cassie’s cabin. Still though, it wasn’t Rowan’s fault. He could sit there and pull a face all he wanted, it’s not like I was going to blow up at him for getting us stuck down here. He actually saved us.
And trapped us, judging from the footsteps upstairs, Carmel and Harry still bouncing around looking for us.
It was a game in their heads. The little’s thought it was cat and mouse. Harry and Carmel were the oblivious cats prowling, while we were the mice, hoping to fucking GOD we weren’t caught and eaten. Ignoring Rowan, I glimpsed what looked like a box full of DVD’S—all of which were labelled with dates and names. I saw familiar ones, my heart racing into my throat. Phoebe. Eli. Cassandra.
Each DVD had one of the kid’s names scribbled on the front, as well as a date.
I found Eleanor’s right at the back of the box.
Before I could hesitate and think what I was doing, I slid the DVD into the portable player attached to the MacBook. Rowan, to my surprise, didn’t move. But he did make an acknowledging noise when the screen flickered to what looked like video footage. Peering at the screen, I found myself staring at a small white room. There was no door. Only a wooden desk and a chair, and sitting on it was a middle aged woman with dark blonde curls tied into a strict ponytail. She was wearing what looked like a prison jumpsuit.
Her eyes were eerily glued to the camera, unblinking. Her wrists were cuffed in front of her. Though from the look on her face, she saw the restraints as a game. Her eyes lit up with intrigue and I could practically see the cogs in her mind starting to turn as she struggled with them.
As soon as I saw this woman, I felt all of my nerve endings set alight. I wanted to turn the screen off, or look away. But once I was looking at the screen, I couldn’t bring myself to tear my eyes away. “Let’s try this again.” There was a woman offscreen. She sounded young. Too young to be in that kind of authority. I figured there was no way teenagers were being hired as special ops agents, but I guessed I was wrong. She cleared her throat. “It is 4:35 exactly. August 5th 2021. My name is Agent Lemrac,” she stated. “I am asking once again for you to comply with us. As I have said several times, the court are willing to lessen your sentence if you plead guilty with insanity.”
The woman surprised me with a snorting laugh. She seemed to come alive, leaning forward with animated features, her brow reaching her hairline. She was acting like a child, bouncing up and down in the seat, her lips stretching into a wider grin. “What did you just say?”
There was a pause. I could tell the woman was intentionally antagonising the interviewer.
“It means you have been legally declared insane,” the interviewer stumbled over her words slightly. “Mrs Summers, it would be in your best interest to work with us to lessen your current sentence which at the moment is standing at,” the sounds of shuffling paper crackled through the speakers. The interviewer cleared her throat again rustling paper. “Thirty six years. Without parole.”
The woman didn’t speak, only continued to smile—and the interviewer delved further into the sentence. “If you do in fact plead guilty with declared insanity, you will be sentenced to a program which is in the process of supporting and rehabilitating people with your…” she caught herself for a moment. I could tell this interviewer had a biased opinion and it was definitely showing through her interviewing style. I could hear the rapid intakes of her breath as she hurried through what seemed to be a script she was reading from. “Conditions.” She finished. “The Redwood program aims to help people exactly like you.”
Redwood? I thought.
Like… Camp Redwood?
Rowan whistled behind me. I guess I could call that a reaction. The guy was probably still in shock after seeing Café de Teddy splattered all over little Cassie’s cabin floor. I should have fucking know those little bitches weren’t playing Operation for eight hours straight. Turning my attention from Rowan and back to the screen, the woman in the jumpsuit appeared to have changed tactics. Her expression twisted into nonchalance. She leaned back in her chair. “I am not pleading insane because I am not insane.”
The woman cut her off. “I am not crazy.” She raised her hands “I am doing what needs to be done.” She leaned forward. “Humanity suffers in the skin. We age and die— and how is that fair? What if we want to see the next millennium? And the next two millennia after that? Why should our bodies dictate our lifespan? Why should we sit here and wait to rot and wither and die when we have the intelligence and mindset to do it? If nobody else is willing to throw ethics aside to take a step forwards in human evolution, I should do it myself.” She folded her arms across her chest, again, like a child. “I did what was to be done.”
“Dr. Summers.” The interviewer’s tone grew stiff. “You and your colleagues conducted illegal and unethical procedures on your family and friends—as well as four other victims.”
The woman inclined her head. “You have a daughter, am I correct? I have a son.”
“A child you killed, Dr Summers.” The interviewer retorted in a hiss which was definitely expressing emotion. She ignored the mention of her daughter, but I could tell it had rattled her to her core. Her voice had cracked. This case was close to her.
That was obvious. Without seeing the interviewer herself, I could sense how uncomfortable she was, shuffling in the chair. Every so often I would hear the sound of her rubbing her hands on her knees and tapping her shoe against the chair leg. She oozed anxiety, not just from her tone of voice, but the way the frame seemed to move with her. “Dr. Summers, you used your son in your research, along with several of his friends. This was not science.” Her voice shook. I heard her sharp inhale. Unprofessional, but very human. Instead of staying stoic and keeping to script, this agent was cracking apart. “It was murder.”
“Agent Lemrac, concentrate on the interview only.” An official voice crackled through what sounded like an intercom on screen.
“Got it.” She spoke through her teeth.
The woman was finding wounds and pressing on them. She was scanning the interviewer for vulnerabilities and preying on every insecurity. She leaned back speaking through a sigh. “Without my son’s sacrifice we wouldn’t have created an answer to death. To growing old and dying, and leaving loved ones behind.” Her voice softened into a murmur, but I didn’t trust it.
After identifying the shattering pieces of this interviewer which were very clear visible in her view, the woman was taking advantage.
“Agent Lemrac, you have a daughter. Am I correct in saying her name is Mari?
“That… that is not relevant.”
“Glioblastoma.” Dr. Summers lips curved into a sickening smile hidden behind mocking sympathy. “A sickness of the brain--which, unfortunately, I cannot fix. If your daughter’s brain was in my hands, I would try. However, not even a brand new body would help her. One which would never age or grow sick. And for that, I am deeply, deeply sorry.” She reached her cuffed hands forwards. “My condolences, Agent Lemrac. Honestly. I have to hand it to you. You are incredibly brave for coming here today and talking to me while abandoning your sick child.” She shook her head.
“Your daughter is dying of an incurable illness, suffering inside fragile skin which will break and fall apart and be unable to keep her standing for much longer. While my son will live on forever. He will see every millennia, a planet which will crumble and build itself back together. And maybe the end of the universe itself.” There was a twitch in her expression and a glitter in her eye I did not recognise. Insanity.
She was fucking insane. I was seeing the pure of it, the depraved and disgusting gleam in eyes empty of remorse and regret. This woman did not care what she had done. I could tell from the look on her face. If she had the chance, she would do this again.
But there was no way they were trying to say her cruelty and complete disregard for her son’s life was due to insanity.
“You are sick, Dr. Summers.” The interviewer said after a moment of gathering herself.
The woman shook her head with a chuckle. “I told you. I am not sick--”
“Sick in the head!” The interviewer’s voice exploded through the speakers in a shriek—a terrified cry she had been trying to hold in. I finally saw her—or at least the back of her. She was a young woman with light blonde hair falling loose on her shoulders. She was trembling. Slamming her hands down on the table, she screamed at the orange jumpsuit woman.
“You are psychologically fucked in the head! You psycho bitch! That is my sister!” She spoke through strangled sobs rattling her whole body. “Mari is my little sister. She is not my child.”
Her breaths were strangled and harboured. I noticed figures looming in the background, but she was continuing. “You killed your own fucking son,” she spat. “You are not legally insane, you are sick!” she shrieked. “You planned and put this together! You sit there and you talk about your son like he’s a… like he’s a tool! You deserve to rot. Do you hear me?” I noticed the orange jumpsuit woman was still smiling, satisfied with the interview’s reaction. Her words were spoken in a vicious poison as she leaned forward and spat directly in orange jumpsuit’s face.
“Agent Lemrac!” Whoever her superiors were—were panicking. “I told you not to turn it off. I knew this was going to happen. Can we stop the demonstration, please? Human emotions present inside an Aceville soldier are too powerful—"
Voices were murmuring in the background, and Agent Lemrac raised her hands. “I want to stop.” She choked out, her hands trembling. She spoke like she still had control over the situation and wasn’t being apprehended. “I want to stop. Do you hear me?” The interviewer was crying, I realized. “Stop the recording! I can’t do this. Oh god, I think I’m going to be sick—”
When the footage ended in a burst of static, I found myself backing away, something slimy creeping its way up my throat.
The woman in the orange jumpsuit who had murdered her son and countless others in what sounded like an attempt at playing god, was Eleanor Summers. I thought back to Teddy’s corpse, and the surgical precision of every organ’s removal. The young interviewer had mentioned colleagues of Eleanor.
Was it possible that Camp Redwood was in fact nothing more than a rehabilitation camp for murderous criminals? There was a loud bang from above, and I was torn from my thoughts.
I turned to Rowan, who had been unusually quiet. And I realized why, when I twisted around to find him three inches from my face, his laboured breath tickling my cheek.
The boy jumped back with a chuckle—like me noticing him was some kind of game, before diving back into the chair. I did notice something odd, as my thoughts spiralled. Rowan couldn’t sit still. Slumped in the leather spinning chair, he fingers tapped a rhythm on the armrests while his feet jumped up and down. In the dim light of the bunker, I glimpsed a sheen of sweat glistening on his forehead and the flesh of his neck. He looked to be… feverish—and now that I was looking at him properly, all of my attention on the boy, I noticed small things which seemed… off about him.
For one, he wasn’t coming up with a plan. Rowan always had a plan. Even if he wasn’t completely sure of it, or was completely winging it. This time though, he was strangely quiet. I found my voice when he stuck out his tongue at me. “What are you looking at?”
“Rowan.” I spoke softly, careful not to garner attention from above us where Harry and Carmel were still clamouring around, playing games. “Are you… feeling okay?” I asked, when he turned back to the laptop, manically biting his fingernails.
“I dunnnooooo, Josie! Am I feeeeeeling okaaaaaayyyyy?” He surprised me with an uncharacteristic laugh.
But I did know it.
I knew it from earlier when he reacted to Allison’s bunker and I had been too freaked out to realize that I was dragging along the enemy with me.
Because the fucking idiot had consumed animal crackers. I had seen him for myself earlier, pouring a pack into his mouth for a snack. Which meant either the ‘kids’ had intentionally dosed him with mind altering sugary snacks, or the more likely, he could not resist those preservatives which was the equivalent of caffeine. It’s not like I could blame him when he harboured the weight of an entire camp, but come on, did he really have to sacrifice his own fucking mind to keep himself awake?
Rowan wasn’t just biting. His nails. He was gnawing. Which he previously thought was a filthy habit. He had yelled at a camper for chewing on her nails a few days earlier.
Now that I was noticing it, I couldn’t… stop noticing it. The boy’s whole demeanour had changed; the way he was sinking into the chair, instead of sitting up straight like usual—- I used to call it having a stick up his ass. The boy started typing on the laptop, ignoring me. But when I watched the pattern of his fingers, he was just typing gibberish. Footsteps pounded above us, Harry and Carmel acting as the kid’s’ brainwashed foot-soldiers. Or, more likely somehow, if the animal crackers had caused the littles, or I guess, the fully grown forty year old criminals, to relapse in age-- then maybe it was possible for the same thing to happen to us. To Rowan.
I could feel myself starting to back away, but there was nowhere to run. I just slammed into a cupboard. My gaze flicked to Rowan again, who was tapping a beat on the laptop tracking pad, swaying back and forth, his eyes elsewhere before his gaze found mine. “Marcoooooo!” Harry shouted from above, giggling with Carmel.
I had to guess their mental age had to be at least 8-10 years old. Which meant I wasn’t just dealing with a camp full of forty-year-old psycho’s, I was also dealing with mentally relapsed counselors acting like toddlers.
Rowan seemed to jolt in the chair, twisting his head around, his eyes suddenly incredibly childlike and playful, and very Un-Rowan, were finding the ceiling, his mouth stretching into a smile, like he was seeing butterflies. His eyes flashed to me, and I caught a twitch in his lip. I knew that look. It was the look on my seven year old sister, who knew mom was mad at me, and wanted to make it even worse.
His cheeks were starting to blossom scarlet from what must have been the overwhelming urge to laugh. Rowan pressed his lips together and held in a breath like a hamster, and the asshole was fucking with me. waiting for me to beat him to it by accident. Kids were fucking ruthless, but there was something terrifying about an 18 year old with a little kid’s mind.
I lifted my index to my lips, miming for him not to even try, but the boy just mimicked me, bugging out his eyes and pressing his finger to his grinning mouth. “Don’t you fucking dare.” I managed to whisper. The boy was definitely playing his own game, moving in twitching movements, baiting me. When he cupped his mouth, I almost let out a cry, but then he dropped his arms with a giggle, as if to say, “I’m just kidding!”
Slowly, I turned around, grabbed the salt I’d found in Allison’s cupboard, and a flat can of soda. Without making too much movement, I poured a handful of salt into the can. But Rowan seemed to know exactly what I was doing. Because in the time it was taking me to advance towards him, with the can of salty soda, one arm shakily ready to grab hold of him, and put him into a headlock, he was cupping his mouth, all logic and everything adult, everything he had been as our leader, igniting in playful eyes, leaving me the last one standing.
By the time Rowan had managed to reveal our hiding place in a spluttered laugh, I had hold of the squirming boy, one arm wrapped around his neck, my other forcing the can of soda into his mouth. I had definitely miscalculated his strength. During camp Redwood activities, he was always the last one to come back from the trail, holding his knees and panting. I figured he was unfit. However, I was wrong. Underneath his shirt, the guy had some serious muscles.
It was like attacking a brick wall. However, Rowan was mentally a kid. So, I had my intelligence and logic on my side. When it became obvious I wasn’t going to get anywhere with brute strength, I resorted to tickling him, which made him squirming, squeaking out a laugh. When he opened his mouth to yell at me to stop, I took my chance, thrusting the can into his lips and holding his nose so he swallowed it down.
“No!” His laughter turned into muffled yelling, as he batted his fists at my chest. “No, no, no! Get off, get off!”
His body convulsed as the salt did its job, causing the boy to lurch to his knees and choke up forbidden animal crackers in a gooish sludge which turned my stomach. By the time Rowan seemed half himself and half not, still kneeling, his head pressed against the floor, Harry was poking his head through the door with a goonish grin. “Found you!” He giggled, before forcing the door open, allowing Carmel and Callen, freshly caught mentally turned into littles, to advance down the stairs with equally terrifying grins. There was something wrong with Harry’s face, and I only realized it when the guy himself was hauling me from the bunker, Carmel dragging a barely responsive Rowan. There was nothing in Harry’s expression, only blind childish excitement at winning the game. When he dragged me out of Allison’s cabin and threw me to the ground, I realized he too had insane strength I had not been expecting. But that thought quickly retracted when I was seeing his face in the light of a crescent moon lighting up the sky an eerie glow. Harry’s cheeks were puffy and swollen, his right eye way bigger than it should have been.
When he spoke, his voice was more of a lisp. This was something far more realistic than magical animal crackers fucking with his brain.
“He needs help!” I managed to choke out when Carmel wrapped jump-rope around my wrists. Next to me, Rowan was refusing to get up, still choking up salty soda, groaning into his hands. Every time Callen tried to restrain him, he hissed out like an animal.
“Do you hear me?!” I struggled violently. “Harry needs—”
Is what it felt like. The feeling of something—what felt and sounded like a toy car—colliding with my temples, sent me onto the ground, my head spinning itself off of its axis. I remember lying on my back and frowning at the moon which almost looked like it was getting closer to me, blurring into a white ball of light—before reality sunk in, and it was in fact Carmel’s converse coming down to finish me off. I didn’t stay knocked out for long. But I did dream.
I think you can call it a dream? I was lying in bed at home; my room drowned in the dark. I was cosy, curled up in my blankets, when a clammy hand slammed over my mouth, rousing me from slumber. There were two figures in my room. They didn’t have faces. They just existed as shadows, silhouettes. Before one of them raised something above their head, and… impact.
It was the same impact as the toy car hitting me, snapping me back to that night. It wasn’t a dream. Because I remembered his clammy fingers over my mouth, and his hisses for me to shut up as he dragged me from my room.
My parents stood in front of me with expressions of sympathy. Basked in warm light, my mom and dad looked almost otherworldly. “For the best.” Was what they mouthed when my own phantom screams slammed into me, I asked them why, and they didn’t reply, allowing him to pull me further and further from what I knew, from my life as I knew it. But.. that couldn’t be real. I had memories of getting on the bus to camp Redwood. I could recall the whole journey. So, why… why was my tangled mind saying otherwise?
When I gathered myself, the first thing I realized was I was sitting down. I was outside, cool night air grazing my bare arms. There was something attached to me, jerking violently, And it took me several disorientating blinks to understand that I was tied back to back with Rowan. My head pounded, and something wet and warm dripped down my temple. Great. I could add head injury to the long list of things to worry about.
“Let me go you little fucking witch.”
Rowan was back to himself, though from the muffled hissing and the sound of choking—I had to guess he was being force-fed animal crackers.
“Let me—mpphmmm. little…. fucking… mphmmphhmhppmm!”
“Rowan.” I managed to get out in a croak. Through flickering eyes, I caught glimpse of a familiar figure dancing around us. Shivers rocketed down my spine, and I wrenched at the jump-rope restraints, but they did a surprisingly job of restraining my arms behind my back.
Eleanor was with Rowan, while Eli was knelt in front of me. Looking at him, the boy had definitely aged in the face—and I couldn’t help wondering what exactly he had done as a forty something year old to be sent to this place.
“Josie!” Rowan responded in a wail. “Josie. Wake the FUCK up.”
Eleanor spoke with the cold tone of her actual age.
“Oh, yeah?” Rowan spluttered. “Fuck you.” The boy’s laugh was still rough from almost vomiting his insides out from too much salt intake. “I’m sorry, you were a fucking boomer all along?!” He wriggled in the restraints, lunging forwards, which sent me backwards.
“Stop swearing, Rowan.” Was all the girl responded with calmly.
“Like I’m going to listen to you!” He sneered. “Fuck, fuck, fuckity, fucking fuck!” What are you going to do, huh? Bite me with your false teeth?” The sound of saliva hitting skin made me wince. He was pissed. I had no doubt his completely rational anger was going to get us killed. Rowan was also somehow getting mixed up between forty and eighty. Though he was unwillingly snacking on mind bending sugary goodness.
“Fudge, Rowan.” Eleanor spoke in a giggle.
“Say fudge. Not fuck.”
His hiss of pain caught me off guard. I don’t know what she was doing to him, but it was hurting him.
“You fudging fudge! I’m going to fudging kill you when I get out of these fudging ropes—“ his manic cursing became a muffled yell.
“Say fudge,” Eleanor hummed, followed by his hiss when the palm of her hand skinned his cheek. “Fuck is a bad word. You even said so yourself and you’re my favourite counselor.”
He heaved out a breath.
“You fudge,” Rowan spat. “When I get out of this, I am going to fudging kill you, you fudging—” His manic ranting morphed, once again, into muffled yelling, after another fistful of animal crackers were forced into his mouth. When I risked twisting around, I could see his rebellion slowly starting to simmer out as he relaxed slightly. I wanted to yell at him to keep a clear head before cold fingers were dipping under my chin and forcing my head around where I found myself face to face with Eli.
“I like you, Josie,” he said, before untying me and pulling me to my feet. Now at the age of nine or ten, he was a lot stronger. When I tried to pull away, the cruel blade of a knife grazed my gut. I caught his grin. “But we don’t need you.” Eli pointed to Rowan.
“We just want them.”
I followed his pointer finger which went from Rowan to Harry and Carmel, who were just standing there like fucking idiots, probably awaiting the next game. Harry’s face was getting redder. It looked like he was suffocating, and yet his grin was growing wider and wider, splitting his lips apart. “Rowan Atlas.” Eleanor said, dragging him to his feet. Something was stapled to his forehead head, which caused him to howl in pain, hissing another strangled line of “Fudge”. but I couldn’t read what it was.
“Camp leader. Intelligent, and problem solving skills.”
“Harry Carlisle.” Eli nodded his head with a smile. “Quick thinker. Strong minded.”
“Carmel Locke.” Cassie spoke behind me. She had her arms folded, a wry smile on her lips. “Smarter than she makes out—- an independent learner, and can work well under pressure.”
Looking at these kids, I felt sick to my stomach. They were planning something—and had the intelligence of renowned scientists, which was what I gathered from the footage on the MacBook. “What?” was all I could hiss out, as Eli prodded the blade of the knife into my back, ushering me to walk. “What are you talking about?”
“Duh.” He spoke in a more tweeny giggle. “Like I said, Miss Josie. You’re my favorite counselor but we don’t need you, so I’m going to use you for parts.” He laughed when a shiver spiderwebbed down my spine. “See! I told you I was going to show you my collection!”
“But… what do you need them for?”
Eli pressed his index finger to his lips with a laugh before forcing me to face forwards. “That’s a secret!”
When I didn’t, or couldn’t move, he shoved me into a stumbling power-walk, and I managed to turn my head quickly, making feverish eye contact with Rowan.
“Rowan.” I said calmly through the gutter in my throat. “Get…. Get help.”
If I was going to die, I needed him to get a hold of himself and somehow alert the outside world what was going on.
“From whom, Josie?!” He wailed back—and as I was dragged away, I could once again sense the childish undertones in his voice.
I had no choice but to obey Eli’s orders. If I didn’t want a knife in my back. He took me to the main lunch cabin, which, when I set foot inside, almost sent me to my knees.
Something lurched inside me, and I was screaming with no voice, staggering backwards, only to be shoved onto my face. In front of me was what had been the lunch hall, fully converted into the beginning of a laboratory.
What had been cafeteria tables were fashioned into makeshift gurney’s and beds, and I was looking at all of the missing counselors. Yuri and Noah had been skinned completely, their faces laid out on a makeshift surgical table. Joey had been ripped open, his heart and brain removed, a glittering metallic substance creeping its way across his forehead. It was then when I remembered Eleanor Summers words.
She wanted to prevent death and preserve the human mind. Looking at what was in front of me, this was the start of it. There was equipment I had never seen before. Lily’s body was empty, carved out completely, tubes forced inside her. When I glimpsed her fingers move and begin to ball into a fist, I saw red. I saw fucking red. The exit was so close and yet Eli, fucking Eli, wielded his knife. I think that is when part of me gave up. My brain just stopped. It short circuited. Seeing my friends murdered and yet somehow being kept alive through playing god, my body slumped to the ground. I was numb. Completely numb.
I’m not sure what would have happened if those bloody saws and instruments which had been used on my friends were used on me too.
Luckily, that did not happen. Before Eli could get his slimy hands on me, he crumpled to the ground in an almost cartoon-like fashion, and standing over me was Harry. Who was looking better. When he grasped hold of me and helped me up, I only had one word. “Out.” And he was nodding, his eyes glistening as he drunk in our friends’ fate.
“How?” I managed to sputter out, when we made it out of the cabin, ducking behind a tree. Harry turned to me, motioning for me to shut up. There was a group of now ten to eleven year olds already running around, searching for what I guessed was him.
“I’m allergic to peanut butter,” Harry murmured, his grasp tightening on my wrist as he led me across the camp, the two of us stumbling.
“What, and you just magically healed?”
He didn’t respond to that, which bothered me.
“The bunker is our best shot,” I hissed out. “I think we can get in contact with someone down there.” I paused, unable to stop myself. “What makes you so important?”
“Dunno. Maybe I’m their favorite.”
When we found Allison’s cabin, which was more of a safehouse (an exposed safehouse) I found Rowan sitting on the wooden porch with his legs swinging over the side. “Rowan!” Harry hissed. I found it hard to believe their roles had been switched. Now he was the one yelling at the camp-leader. “I told you to stay inside!”
He ushered the boy inside, before barricading the door with some hefty looking equipment. I could tell from the grin on his face that our so-called leader was once again no longer himself.
I had to bite back a groan. “You’re kidding.” I said, pointing to Rowan, who buried his head in his knees and blew a raspberry. “Does he look and act like our leader right now?!”
“It’s Rowan, Josie.”
“He’s a liability.”
“He’s our friend! Wouldn’t Rowan do the same?”
Yes, he would. But. He would also realize we’re lost causes.
“Gag him with something.” I said. “If he makes any more noise, we’re dumping him.”
“He’s a kid!”
“Just the mind of one.”
I don’t know how animal crackers worked, but his age seemed to be progressively younger. This time he just sat with wide eyes watching us.
Harry almost tore apart the place looking for means of communication, before an old fashioned ringing sound made me jump.
“What was that?” Harry turned to me with his lip curled.
“How am I supposed to know?!” I hissed. “Keep looking!” But when I ducked under the table, my hands crawled under the desk, finding a wire—and attached to that, an ancient looking phone which looked straight out of a 1940’s movie, a bright green rotary phone.
Hesitantly, I answered it, lifting the phone to my ear. “Hello?”
“Did you awaken the subjects, Agent Salta?"
The voice on the other end was a woman, an oldish sounding woman with the tinge of a British accent.
“What?” I shot a look at Harry before shaking my head. “No. My name is Josie Greenfield. We’re at Camp Redwood, and we need help.”
The woman paused.
“Where is Agent Salta?” She cleared her throat. “This line is reserved for communication with agents only.”
“I don’t know who the fuck you’re talking about!" I hissed out. “My name is Josie, and whatever is happening here, we need help!”
“Josie. Did you awaken the subjects?”
I paused after a moment, shooting Harry a look when he tried to take the phone off of me. “Yes.”
“And… are our agents unavailable?”
“I don’t understand.”
“When a health and safety breach is activated, our agents are awakened to deal with the Project Spearhead subjects if they were to ever go rogue, or become conscious enough to think. Josie, can you tell me what is in front of you? Describe it to me.”
I held my breath. Next to the hidden phone under the desk was what looked like mismatched wires, all of which had been severed. I lowered myself slowly, poking at mess. “Wires. I see… cut up wires.” I whispered. “Does this mean they know about you?”
She hummed. “Ah…That makes sense. The only way to activate our sleeper handlers would be to send out the signal. You appear to have been sabotaged. Unless activated manually, our agents cannot help you. I am sorry. They are your problem now.” The woman paused.
“If I were you, I would hope and pray they have not sabotaged the self-destruct. If you find that, then you may be able to save yourselves and find peace.” She cleared her throat. “Thank you for your service, Josie Greenfield.”
“Wait.” I managed to get out. “Wait, no! You can’t just… you can’t leave us! We need help!”
I found myself yelling at nothing when the phone went dead. The dull tone of the dead ringtone was clanging in my ears before footsteps from up above. “Fuck this.” Harry picked up a lead pipe. “They’re still little kids, right? I mean, their head must still be partly kids—- so let’s fucking beat their heads in.”
He noticed something, then, starting forwards towards the mess of files I had left earlier. Harry knelt on the ground and picked up Eli’s file, his eyes wide. But he wasn’t staring at the dates confirming the little boy’s age.
Instead, Harry pointed at the bottom of the file. “I don’t want to freak you out, Josie,” he whispered. Initially, I didn’t know what he was trying to show before I glimpsed notes scrawled at the bottom of the file, followed by a signature. “But I’m pretty sure that is my fucking writing.”
Harry was right.
I pulled the paperwork off of him, flicking through each file before turning my eyes to him. “Who the fuck are you?” I managed to hiss out.
A clanging sound from above broke the tension, and whatever Harry was about to reply with was strangled in his throat. He slammed a hand over his mouth.
The voice twisted me up inside, threatening to release a shriek from my mouth I had managed to clamp shut.
“Are you down here?” His voice was strained, and had an odd tone to it. “I can’t… I can’t see you.”
Can someone please tell me what the fuck is going on?! It’s been a blur of a week. We’ve managed to stay down here, surviving off of Allison’s rations. Rowan isn’t getting any better. He seems to have stopped mentally de-ageing at the age of maybe six. Harry has spent the last few days trying to get in contact with anyone, but it’s like they are IGNORING US.
I’ve been looking through everything I can find on Project Spearhead, but nothing points to Harry being involved. So. How is his signature all over the files? How is it possible that two friends I thought I knew several days ago, are now complete strangers?
Teddy keeps coming back.
He’s crying out to us.
I think he’s… in pain.
My god, I can’t stand this anymore. Please. CAMP REDWOOD NEEDS HELP.
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2023.06.03 20:16 jimbobbypaul Ranking the Top 131 FBS Programs of the Last 40 Years: 83. Wyoming
Main hub thread with the full 131 rankings
“I have an army.”
“We have a Josh Allen.”
Coming in at 83rd on the list is the team representing the least populous state, Wyoming. While the Cowboys are mostly known by the average fan as being the school Josh Allen played at, they have a fairly rich history of success, and have produced many great coaches. College Football Hall of Famers Bowden Wyatt, Bob Devaney, Pat Dye, and Dennis Erickson all ran the show at Wyoming before moving onto bigger football powerhouses. Former Texas coach Fred Akers and Purdue coach Joe Tiller as well, and the current head man is Craig Bohl, who started the North Dakota State dynasty and won 3 national titles there.
Best Seasons and Highlights
1. 1988: 13. Wyoming: 11-2 (25.965) 2. 1987: 18. Wyoming: 10-3 (19.035) 3. 1996: 23. Wyoming: 10-2 (13.821) 4. 1998: 33. Wyoming: 8-3 (5.927) 5. 1999: 40. Wyoming: 7-4 (1.080) 6. 1990: 45. Wyoming: 9-4 (-1.091) 7. 2016: 52. Wyoming: 8-6 (-2.462) 8. 2019: 54. Wyoming: 8-5 (-2.971) 9. 1993: 39. Wyoming: 8-4 (-3.204) 10. 2017: 58. Wyoming: 8-5 (-5.051) 11. 1995: 53. Wyoming: 6-5 (-6.240) 12. 1983: 51. Wyoming: 7-5 (-8.685) 13. 2011: 67. Wyoming: 8-5 (-9.235) 14. 2004: 60. Wyoming: 7-5 (-10.844) 15. 2021: 74. Wyoming: 7-6 (-11.466) 16. 1997: 61. Wyoming: 7-6 (-12.755) 17. 2006: 68. Wyoming: 6-6 (-13.597) 18. 2009: 74. Wyoming: 7-6 (-14.432) 19. 2022: 79. Wyoming: 7-6 (-14.504) 20. 2018: 85. Wyoming: 6-6 (-16.091) 21. 1986: 69. Wyoming: 6-6 (-16.740) 22. 2020: 88. Wyoming: 2-4 (-17.248) 23. 1994: 67. Wyoming: 6-6 (-18.620) 24. 1984: 69. Wyoming: 6-6 (-19.144) 25. 1989: 69. Wyoming: 5-6 (-19.396) 26. 2007: 78. Wyoming: 5-7 (-19.792) 27. 1991: 70. Wyoming: 4-6-1 (-21.388) 28. 1992: 82. Wyoming: 5-7 (-24.123) 29. 2005: 92. Wyoming: 4-7 (-28.867) 30. 2014: 97. Wyoming: 4-8 (-31.500) 31. 2013: 94. Wyoming: 5-7 (-32.098) 32. 2012: 98. Wyoming: 4-8 (-33.199) 33. 2003: 92. Wyoming: 4-8 (-33.258) 34. 1985: 90. Wyoming: 3-8 (-38.705) 35. 2008: 104. Wyoming: 4-8 (-39.214) 36. 2010: 105. Wyoming: 3-9 (-40.666) 37. 2002: 107. Wyoming: 2-10 (-49.466) 38. 2001: 105. Wyoming: 2-9 (-52.188) 39. 2015: 122. Wyoming: 2-10 (-54.442) 40. 2000: 114. Wyoming: 1-10 (-63.312) Overall Score: 10204 (83rd)
- 232-244-1 record
- 3 conference titles
- 5-7 bowl record
- 3 consensus All-Americans
- 33 NFL players drafted
I mean…not bad, right? When I started this series I didn’t know how Wyoming would fare, but they certainly exceeded my expectations. 23 of 40 seasons with at least a .500 record is very good at the Group of 5 level, and they’re very close to becoming the first 40-year G5 team with a winning record on this list. The only conference title season that didn’t make the top 5 is 1993 at #9, when Joe Tiller led Wyoming to an 8-4 record and a 3-way share of the WAC crown. The All-Americans include the great Dallas Cowboys TE Jay Novacek in 1984, WR Marcus Harris in ‘96, and DB Brian Lee in ‘97. Surprisingly, the highest ranked Josh Allen team (2016) only comes in at 7th, which shows the high quality of teams Wyoming’s produced over the last 4 decades.
Top 5 Seasons Worst Season: 2000 (1-10 overall, 0-7 Mountain West)
Armed with a new coaching staff led by Vic Koenning, Wyoming’s defensive coordinator for one of the better 3 year stretches in Cowboy football history, Wyoming was full of confidence for the turn of the century. After predictably losing games to Auburn and Texas A&M, Wyoming rebounded to beat Central Michigan 31-10, and had a 21-7 point lead over Nevada, looking for their second straight win. The season ended there, and everyone went home happy. Kidding, Nevada scored 21 straight points to pull off the win in Laramie, and Wyoming didn’t win a game for the rest of the year. The closest loss was by just 12 points, and shutouts included 0-34 to San Diego State and 0-34 to Utah. But the Cowboys were certainly not without talent! Tucked away as the backup QB was Casey Bramlet, who would throw for 3000+ yards in each of the next 3 seasons and is an all-time great Wyoming QB. The receiver room was also loaded, with future NFL WR Malcolm Floyd (5500 receiving yards at the next level), and future CFL veteran WR brothers Brett and Brock Ralph. Brock won 2 Grey Cups, and Brett was a 4 year starter for the Calgary Stampeders. 5. 1999 (7-4 overall, 4-3 Mountain West)
Get ready for a history lesson, because each season in the top 5 predate the 21st century. 1999 was the first official year of the Mountain West Conference, formed by some of the longtime members of the WAC. Wyoming was known as a solid team around this time, but the class of the conference was clearly LaVell Edwards and BYU, who had won 18 of the last 25 WAC titles. So late in the season, when #15 8-1 BYU rolled into Laramie to face 5-3 Wyoming, the Cougars were heavy favorites to win the game and clinch the Mountain West in its inaugural season. The Cowboys had other plans though, and held BYU to just 29 rushing yards in a 31-17 upset. The fans stormed the field and tore down the goalposts, and Wyoming was right back in the conference title hunt. With a win in the final week they would’ve shared a 4-way title with Utah, BYU, and Colorado State, but lost 7-39 to San Diego State to finish 7-4 and 4th place in the MWC. Despite a winning record, they weren’t invited to play in a bowl either. 4. 1998 (8-3 overall, 6-2 WAC)
Conversely, this was Wyoming’s last year in the WAC. And they had a damn tough defense to play against. After beating Montana State 17-9 in week 1, the Cowboys flew to Athens to play #12 Georgia, and held them scoreless in the 2nd half in a 9-16 loss. Wyoming forced 4 turnovers, and could’ve even pulled off the upset if Georgia didn’t have one of the better defenses in the country. Fast forward later in the season with just 2 weeks left to play, Wyoming still had just 1 loss, to Georgia, and was 8-1 and ranked #25, with wins over .500 or better teams Louisiana Tech, TCU, Colorado State, and Utah. That set up a matchup with #23 Air Force for the WAC Mountain Division title in Laramie. In a battle of the top defenses in the WAC, Air Force did enough for the 10-3 win. Wyoming just needed to win their final game against 3-7 Tulsa, and Las Vegas Bowl representatives were so confident in a Wyoming win that they attended the game, ready to invite the Cowboys after the final whistle. Tulsa played their best game of the year though, in a 35-0 upset, and Wyoming missed out on a bowl. 3. 1996 (10-2 overall, 7-1 WAC)
As the season kicked off, Wyoming celebrated the 100th season in team history. This would be coach Joe Tiller’s last season at the helm before going on to success at Purdue. A 9-0 start came with its up and downs. An opening week 40-38 win over Idaho was too close for comfort, and Wyoming trailed Iowa State 23-38 with just half the 4th quarter remaining, before miraculously coming back to win 41-38 in OT. The defense started to find its stride afterwards and the offense kept clicking, averaging 43.3 PPG in the 9-0 start. A surprise 24-28 loss to 5-2 San Diego State ended the perfect season, but after beating Colorado State the Cowboys were headed to the inaugural WAC championship game to face BYU. A record crowd of 41,238 showed up to Sam Boyd Stadium in Las Vegas that day, for the bout between #6 BYU and #20 Wyoming. BYU QB Steve Sarkisian was the most accurate passer in the NCAA, and their offense was top 5 in the country. Holding a 25-20 lead with just 3 minutes to go, Tiller elected to take a safety instead of punting deep from their own end zone, but BYU would go on to tie it 25-25 before eventually winning 28-25 in OT. Wyoming surprisingly wasn’t invited to a bowl game, but finished #22 in the country.
WR Marcus Harris was the best in the country, earning consensus All-American honors with 109 catches for 1650 yards and 13 TD, also finishing 9th in Heisman voting (the only WR to finish top 10). Harris finished his career as the NCAA’s all-time leading receiver with 4518 yards in just 3 years of starting. S Brian Lee was arguably the best defensive back in school history, ranking 2nd in the nation in interceptions with 8. A year later in 1997, he’d repeat with another 8 INTs, this time leading the country, and earned a consensus All-American spot because of it. 2. 1987 (10-3 overall, 8-0 WAC)
After coach Dennis Erickson left for Washington State following the 1986 season, Wyoming’s athletic director, Paul Roach, hired himself to double as the head football coach. Fans and media members weren’t sure of the move, but would quickly come to enjoy the fruits of his labor. An opening 27-13 win over Air Force was a big one; the Falcons had gone 12-1 just 2 years prior. After dropping a game to Washington State + Erickson and Oklahoma State, a few weeks later the Cowboys were 4-2 heading into BYU. Down 0-14, the Cowboys headed into halftime in front of a record BYU crowd of 65,291. 29 straight points later, Wyoming was up by 15, and would hang on to win 29-27, the game now known as the “Silence of the Cougars”. BYU fans, who just 3 years ago had watched their team win a national title, filed out of the stadium in stunned silence. Wyoming players believed they’d run the table after that and they did, going 10-2 and winning the WAC with a perfect 8-0 record. Wyoming faced Hayden Fry and #18 Iowa in the Holiday Bowl, and the Hawkeyes needed a blocked punt return for TD, pick six, and blocked FG to eek out a 20-19 win. Wyoming QB Craig Burnett was top 10 in the nation in passing yards/TDs with 3131 yards 21 TD 16 INT. RB Gerald Abraham was also top 10 with 1305 rushing yards. The year set up nicely for the 1988 team that would end up being Wyoming’s best team in the last 40 years… 1. 1988 (11-2 overall, 8-0 WAC)
Was the win over BYU a fluke? Going 8-0 in the WAC a farce? The 1988 team set out to quell those doubts. Armed with a new QB in Randy Welniak, Wyoming faced off against BYU in the season opener, a grudge match with the Cougars out for revenge. This time, Wyoming left no doubt. A 24-14 win was even more dominant than the score looked, with Wyoming intercepting 4 passes, recovering 3 fumbles, and racking up 9 sacks. Freshman BYU QB and future Heisman winner Ty Detmer was just 9/26 for 133 yards 1 TD and 4 INT. After that, things were just easy for Wyoming. 44-9 over an 8-3 Louisville team. 38-6 over Louisiana Tech. 55-27 over San Diego State. 61-18 over Utah. Late in the season, ranked #10 and matched up with 8-1 UTEP for the WAC title, Wyoming put on their best performance of the season, beating the Miners 51-6 and winning the WAC title for the 2nd straight year in the process. Wyoming entered their bowl at 10-1, with the only loss to Houston and Andre Ware, who’d win the Heisman a year later. Unfortunately this is where the fun ends, as the Cowboys faced #12 Oklahoma State in the bowl. Do you remember who was on that Oklahoma State team? Yeah, Barry Sanders ran for 222 yards and 5 TD…and sat out the 4th quarter. Oh you thought I was talking about Mike Gundy? Yeah, he had a good game too, 20/24 for 315 yards.
But the focus is on Wyoming. An unreal year. They averaged 39.3 PPG (4th best in the nation) while giving up just 21.5 PPG. 6 wins were by 30+ points. QB Randy Welniak had one of the best seasons by a quarterback in school history, throwing for 2791 yards 21 TD 11 INT with 415 rushing yards and 16 TD. Welniak was 2nd in the country in TDs with 37, and won WAC Offensive POTY. DT Pat Rabold won WAC Defensive POTY. Paul Roach hiring himself as head coach in 1987 turned out to be a shrewd move in hindsight, and would go back to being just AD in 1991 after going 35-15 in his 4 years as coach.
What is your favorite Wyoming player, play, or game? Do you think Josh Allen is the best player to play at Wyoming, or is someone being overlooked? What does the future hold for the Cowboys in an NIL world, as the premier team in a small state? And what’d you think of their teams in the 80’s? Here’s some highlights of Wyoming beating Tennessee in Neyland Stadium in 2008! If you appreciate the effort, please consider subscribing on substack!
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2023.06.03 19:40 Seamoose_Art NoP 2177: Blue Moon 
Credit for the original story goes to u/spacepaladin15
. I have to say, this was easily my favorite chapter to write. I hope you enjoy!
--- Memory transcript subject:
Trish, Venlil civilian Date [Standardized Human Time]:
February 29th, 2177 Location:
Lower sprawl of City 23, Venlil Prime
It was a long drive back down to the Den, and the whole group held their breath for every second of it with spines bristling and skin crawling. To all of them, it felt like exterminators might appear behind them at any moment if they let themselves relax for so much as a second. The only noise (aside from the whiny roar of the engine) was the hiss of a spray bottle, as James disinfected the wound at Sasha’s side with some mild antiseptic and threw a light cover of bandages over the whole affair. Those aside, the vehicle was filled with a deathly silence.
By the time they were back at the Tipped Quill, even Beast seemed cowed. Trish set it down in the adjacent side-alley, and its doors opened without so much as a screech of the unoiled hinges. They silently disembarked for the bar with all the cheer of a funeral procession, each of them constantly sneaking looks behind them. James and Burai were in front, Tressa and Trish in back, with Sasha and the cargo shielded from all angles as though they were under attack. The thick tension in the air further silenced their movements, leaving only the sound of the ashen wind outside as they walked.
As soon as the door to the Den slid shut behind them, the tension snapped. A roar of exuberant emotion from every angle nearly pushed Trish to the ground, as the rest of them erupted with cheers. It was like being at the center of a supernova, a feeling of being crushed from all angles. Trish just barely managed to stay upright from the sudden shock, ears failing to adjust for several seconds to the new baseline of noise.
“—and just threw
himself at them, crying some sob story about a human hunting him. And they bought it! They actually bought it!”
“No shit they bought it! What were they gonna do, let an opportunity to put those flamers to work pass them by?”
“You know, there was a fire escape ladder on the other side of the building. If you’d let me say something
before jumping, maybe I wouldn’t need to pull this quill out of your side.”
“You and I both know we— mhfff
— didn’t have that sort of time. ”
The dizzying whirl of socialization around her faded into a manageable hum, nervous sharp laughter giving way to more gentle chuckles as the adrenaline faded. Trish managed to drag herself to a chair, nausea fading but legs still shaky from the sudden outburst. She should’ve thought to bring earplugs.
“Hey Trish, you good? You’re looking pretty faint yourself…” James wrapped up his work and paced over to her, his face a bizarre mix of mirth and concern.
“Fine, I’m fine. Just a lot of noise, that’s all. Is Sasha OK?”
“Yeah, just a spine in her side from that fall. It didn’t get past skin, so she’ll be just fine. Here, why don’t I get you some… hmmm, how do you feel about champagne?”
“I don’t— Champagne?
He grinned, almost literally ear-to-ear. “Yeah, ‘course! Or cider, if that’s more your style. You know, this is a big occasion! A mysterious unmarked bag from the same contact who got us those pistols last time, we can afford a bit of celebration!”
“...Cider sounds good. This has human amounts of alcohol, right? I don’t want to dull my perception if anything comes up.”
“Relax, relax! You’re acting like there’s a squad of exterminators waiting ‘till we’re drunk to kick the door down. Trust me, it’s all downhill from here! Here, let me get you a glass…”
The backpack was set upon a footrest, and all lamps trained on it to make a sort of spotlight. To a rapt and silent audience, Trish walked up to their little makeshift shrine and carefully unzipped the gray fabric.
After only a couple hours and far fewer drinks than might be expected, curiosity had gotten the better of them. They all knew it would be better to wait until morning to see what was in the backpack; for something as potentially monumental as this, being well-rested and sober would be invaluable. They kept their curiosity at bay for long, agonizing hours. But it couldn’t hold. Burai made some joke about holding a ceremony to open the thing, and that was all the push they needed.
Inside the backpack, an expensive-looking technological box lay cushioned in a nest of nondescript white fabric. Trish mercilessly gutted the bag, lifting the contents up high for all to see for a moment before placing the device on the spot where the backpack had set seconds prior. After a moment’s inspection, she found a clearly-marked button on the side which she pushed without so much as a moment’s consideration. A hiss of air and a blink from the green light on the side, and the entire box split in two before sliding open. The blast of heat from the inside made Trish recoil slightly. She peered in.
Her gaze was met by a small oval, glistening slightly under the light of heating elements and LEDs. Blue, glossy with a slightly rough texture, and barely the size of Trish’s paw. She ran a claw across the side; tiny bumps coated the surface. It was extremely warm to the touch. With great care, she lifted it from its metal cocoon and held it up for the rest of the group to see what exactly they’d risked life and limb for.
The only person who seemed to recognize it was Sasha, who all but collapsed at the sight. Mouth covered with a hand, eyes wide and frantic, breathing unsteady. Burai practically dragged her to a nearby chair.
“W-What the fuck? How? How!?”
“Sasha, are you—”
Without waiting for Burai’s question to finish, Tressa rushed over to her and practically tackled her with a hug. He was coming at her from an awkward angle, so rather than a graceful embrace, it ended up with him sliding down an arm head over tail. Undeterred, he righted himself and wrapped his tail around her shaking hand.
“Sasha, breath. Five seconds in, five seconds hold, five seconds out, remember? We’ve got you.”
Gradually, her breathing stabilized, and her hands began to steady. Her eyes, however, remained wild and dilated, still roughly focusing on the small blue object in Trish’s paws. After several long seconds, she finally took the hint and carefully set it back in the case.
“Sasha, talk to me. What is it?”
Sasha’s voice was still unsteady, hands still slightly trembling as she pointed at the container. “...What is it?
Do… any of you know what that is? What you’ve brought?”
“It’s an egg, isn’t it? I mean, it’s in an incu—”
“It’s an Arxur.”
“That’s an Arxur’s egg.”
Her words rang out like a gunshot, leaving still silence in its wake as the rest of the group processed the meaning behind them. Each person went through a set of reactions in series, timings offset. Shock, disbelief, denial, awe. Their faces and tails formed a silent orchestra of emotion.
Burai was the first to recover, and the first to speak. “How are we going to feed it?”
Sasha looked at him as though he had three heads.
“Well, it’s not like we can get synthesized meat anymore… there’s not exactly anywhere it could hunt, either. Maybe we—”
What fucking part of Arxur
don’t you understand!? This is the same species that tore… Burai, you were there!
On the cradle, you saw what they did! You should remember better than anyone! They had no empathy, no morals… They killed for fun, ate children out of their parent’s arms! And you want to…”
Sasha’s voice broke, but she continued. “...you want to raise
Burai met her gaze but did not answer. In a truly rare moment, he seemed to be at a loss for words. Sasha looked around at the rest of them; they all wore the same look of determination and all failed to justify their decision with so much as a whisper of argument.
“You want to raise it?
” she repeated again, louder this time, as though questioning them at higher volume would make them realize the error of their ways. “Do you think it’ll love you because you were the one feeding it flesh from birth? And… then what? What about every other species in this goddamn ash heap, will it love
them enough to starve itself?” She looked around expectantly, but was met with the same steel glares.
Say something!” she spat. “Any of you!”
“Sasha…” Burai began gently, “Do you remember when Cilany’s interview first leaked?”
It was Sasha’s turn to go silent with a cold glare, apparently not seeing where the question led. The rest of the room shuddered; they’d heard the story before. He continued regardless. “The news that the Gojid once ate meat… it hit a lot of people hard. I was in a refugee shelter on Earth at the time. Nobody took it well. Nobody even talked for days afterwards. I heard a couple people tore out their claws and tried to remove their teeth. And there was this one kid… Teveq.
“He was so energetic, always off doing something. With the pups, usually, keeping them out of trouble. Or praying. He prayed to the Great Protector every night for his family to be found hiding somewhere on the cradle. Or sketching, buildings and burrows and skyscrapers. He wanted to be an architect, told me about it a few times. He was always so chatty… he kept me company when I couldn’t even bear to get out of bed. I found him in his room a couple days after we learned. He had a gun to his head.
“He didn’t pull the trigger, but it didn’t make a difference. He stopped eating, stopped talking. He stopped crying too after a few days, and he was just a breathing corpse, a corpse that lost more and more weight each day. He didn’t even pray anymore. The god he’d prayed to for protection hated him.
“When the Kolshians surrounded Earth, he didn’t leave. He wanted to burn. He thought he deserved it, because his people once ate meat.”
Sasha’s look of rage was replaced with sheer horror, but he wasn’t done. “The Federation killed him. Tore out his heart and soul, and incinerated what was left. Not just him, either. Nobody knows what the Gojid were once like before the Federation ‘cured’ us of our meat-eating sins. Nobody knows what we could’ve been, if the Kolshians had used their forces to save the cradle. Maybe they wouldn’t have done so even now, for our status as cured predators.
“The unhatched Arxur sitting on the chair; was it on the cradle? Did it personally kill Gojid? Or do you want us to kill it, burn it in cold blood just because its people once ate meat?”
This, finally, managed to shake Sasha from her stunned silence. Her rebuke was a far cry from the snarling fury she’d held just minutes ago, but she tried to make her voice firm. “Once
ate meat? The Arxur can only eat meat, flesh they—”
“The Arxur are dead. They are dead, except for this little unhatched lizard. A being which has committed no sins, except by virtue of being born with a carnivorous digestive system. An innocent child, which represents everything the Federation tried to burn.”
The room was silent for several minutes. Sasha sat with her head buried in her hands, occasionally stealing glances at the container within which the egg sat and the Gojid sitting across from her. Each time, she wordlessly returned to her stance with a fresh layer of unease across her face.
A voice broke the silence. Shaky, muffled and laden with apprehension. Still, it sounded somehow firm, as though it had reached some sort of conclusion. Sasha sat up slightly straighter, though she kept her face covered.
“How… how are you going to feed it?”
— Memory transcript subject:
Burai, Gojid business owner Date [Standardized Human Time]:
February 30th, 2177 Location:
Lower sprawl of City 23, Venlil Prime
The rest of the group was already asleep downstairs, but Burai couldn’t make himself sleep. He’d dragged himself up to the empty bar and gotten back to work; though physically tired, the flame in his soul wouldn’t let him rest until it burned out. His passionate argument from earlier still filled his spirit with a fire which couldn’t be extinguished; he could at least put it to work tackling the awful pile of now-dried sludge he’d left for himself to clean up later.
There wasn’t much else for it to do, even if the rest of them were still awake. Sasha had conceded to not interfere with raising the Arxur; although she still wasn’t exactly thrilled about the prospect of one living at the Den, Burai’s defense had clearly knocked the wind out of her sails as far as killing it was concerned. The rest of them, having never lived in a world where the Arxur were a spectre of death and agony, were fully onboard from minute one. He might have to hold them back from cutting off their own fingers to feed the hatchling. After nearly an hour of debate, they still hadn’t established where they could get food for it.
A sharp knock on the door interrupted his thoughts and forced him to leave his task before completion once again. In his exhausted state, he nearly opened the door without even thinking. His claw was on the handle before he remembered that he’d left the hidden door to the Den wide open. He dragged himself over to the switch and lazily jabbed it, pointedly ignoring the knocks as they became more insistent.
Finally, once his little show of security theater was concluded to his liking, he sauntered back towards the door. One claw smoothed out his quills absentmindedly. He knew he probably looked like a wreck, although he didn’t have a mirror to prove it. Hopefully, whoever was outside wouldn’t take much notice. He unlocked the door and slipped it open.
“Hey! We’re closed today, but—”
[Subject death detected Memory transcription ended]
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2023.06.03 18:46 dreamingofislay Feis Ile 2023 Day Eight - Ardbeg Day Recap (6/3)
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That's a wrap, folks! Feis Ile 2023 has been an incredible experience, and it ended with a bang on Ardbeg's open day today. The chosen crew for Operation Smokescreen, a free single-cask tasting panel
The angry smokecloud residing in every bottle of Heavy Vapours
- Ardbeg Committee members could enter a lottery for a free experience called "Operation Smokescreen" in the runup to the Feis. I signed us both up, and my wife won a place! Here's what she could disclose to me. During the Operation, the fortunate 50 or so fans entered an elaborately decorated mad scientist's lab, where they tried samples from five Ardbeg single casks and Ardbeg 10 at cask strength. The mad scientist in question was Gillian Macdonald, the company's master blender. Working in teams, the lucky ducks offered tasting notes on the five casks using Ardbeg 10 as a reference point. My wife guessed that the Ardbeg crew will blend these cask types to make a new expression, perhaps an upcoming Committee release.
- This year's open day single cask release (495 pounds) was an 11.5-year-old whisky aged in a first-fill amontillado sherry cask. Even at that steep price, the line was massive, and it kept up all day, never letting up as new arrivals joined in. I saw stray bottle flippers grabbing as many as they could and then immediately leaving festival day, which is a real shame.
- I missed Bruichladdich and Bunnahabhain days doing activities at other distilleries, but I cannot imagine anyone does it better than Ardbeg. Their day is a fitting capstone to the week because they go all out. Elaborate decorations (this year, giant green octopus tentacles hanging from the windows, and comic panels all over the walls); staff in sci-fi and superhero costumes, along with savvy guests; and by far the most activities and games of Feis week. The entry ticket was 10 pounds but was a bargain: two drams, a "smokie" (a smoked fish), a mini-glencairn glass, and a scavenger hunt-style game that could earn another dram. And the crowds were the biggest we saw all week, by far.
- Aside from offering the whole core range and the Heavy Vapours festival bottle as those two included drams, Ardbeg also had a cash bar with very reasonable prices for rare or pricey whiskies, including Ardbeg 25 for 20 pounds and Supernova 2014 and other old Committee releases or Feis bottles for 10 pounds. The bartenders also had very heavy hands. A single pour was enough for my wife and me to split, with me filling up a 20 ml sample bottle and still having leftovers to nose and sip. There was also a fun game of chance where, for five pounds a play, we drew a surprise dram from a set of small mailbox-like lockers. The pours ranged from the standard Ardbeg 10 up to Twenty-something, Renaissance, Alligator Committee Release, 25, etc. In our three plays, we got the Heavy Vapours, 8-year-old For Discussion, and Traigh Bhan 19-year-old Batch 4. Not too bad!
- There were tons of games and activities. One of our favorites was a comic workshop where people could draw this year's "Heavy Vapours" villains or heroes (from the Planet Ardbeg comic book series) on merchandise they purchased at the gift shop. In my wife's case, she got a free lab coat from Operation Smokescreen and later added her own hand-drawn touch to it.
Farewell to another spectacular week with the best whisky-makers in the world Ardbeg Heavy Vapours Festival Bottling
- In contrast to other distilleries, Ardbeg festival day tastings are booked day-of. We jumped on the 1:30 tasting, led by distillery manager Colin Gordon and two employees, including Emma, our tour guide from yesterday. The tasting covered (1) new make; (2) Heavy Vapours; (3) Blaaack; (4) Supernova 2014; and (5) this year's Amontillado single cask. The price was 50 pounds, up from 40 pounds last year, and was held outside thanks to the spectacular weather. While it was nice, it was also mobbed - there must have been over 70-80 people in our tasting group. The pours were well worth the cost, although I preferred other experiences earlier in the week with smaller groups or more organization.
- We saw the swan couple again alongside the Ardbeg pier. Throughout the week, they proved themselves more dedicated festival attendees than we were.
- Note from last night: Lucci's Bar at the Bowmore Hotel is another iconic Islay watering hole, and Peter is an absolute encyclopedia of whisky knowledge. The bar had live music on Friday night; we left around midnight to a heartwarming rendition of Auld Lang Syne.
- Looking back at my notes, I tried 85 whiskies in 8 days on the island, so I'm ready for a vacation from this vacation. We're heading to Skye next and will visit three more distilleries in the next week or so, but nothing like this pace (thankfully).
- This is the 46%, slightly diluted version of the Committee Release we tried yesterday, but it's very similar. It has a dry presentation missing some of Ardbeg's brighter fruit notes, so it almost seemed to have a hole in the middle of the palate. I'm not a big fan, so I wasn't tempted by its 120-pound price tag. Ardbeg 8 y.o. For Discussion
- I'm wondering why Ardbeg would release an 8-year-old whisky, but it's hard to complain about a new, age-stated, higher ABV (50.8%) Ardbeg at a fair price of 60 pounds. This pretty much tastes like a champion's breakfast of a lemon muffin and two cigarettes. If released in America, we'd call this "Ardbeg Bottled in Bond." Good stuff. Ardbeg Blaaack Committee Release
- Alright, hello, this is different. This has lots of ripe orchard fruit, berries, and other rich flavors. On the finish, moreso than on the nose, I get a healthy dose of vanilla. Subsequent sips got more acidic and less pleasurable. Ardbeg Supernova Committee Release 2014
- This whisky epitomizes what it means to be peaty, not smoky. This whisky is a blend of very peated barrels (or barrels that expressed that character more than normal), but the type of peat is a vegetal, floral, and earthy melange, not the ashy smoke typical of Ardbegs. It's surprisingly mellow on the palate, and on one particularly good sip, there were hints of Boston cream donut on the finish. Ardbeg 11 y.o. Amontillado Single Cask Feis Ile 2023
- In watches, one way to distinguish between quartz watches and mechanicals (which are more of a luxury item) is by the movement of the seconds hand. Quartz watches tick, while mechanicals have a sweeping, smooth motion. But some super-high-end mechanical watchmakers include a feature called a "dead-beat" seconds hand, which ticks like a quartz watch. So for an extra $10,000 or $20,000, that feature makes a very expensive luxury watch look, in one way, like a regular quartz. That wasn't just random wristwatch trivia, folks; it was a very long metaphor for the fact that this single cask tastes a lot like my favorite bourbon, Elijah Craig Barrel Proof. It has a very oaky but sweet nose, and then a mix of fruit, brown sugar, and more charred wood on the palate before wrapping up with a dried-fruit-and-oak finish. On the one hand, I love every part on it. On the other hand, why would I pay $620 for a scotch that tastes like my favorite $80-100 bourbon? This is the dead-beats seconds hand of the scotch market. Ardbeg Traigh Bhan Batch 4
- I started getting palate exhaustion by this point. This dram seemed very subtle and balanced, especially in this day and age when almost all Ardbegs are well under 10 years old. The dried glass surprised me with a distinct deli ham note when we got home from festival day. This is a savory Ardbeg, and pretty different than the original Traigh Bhan from 2019. Ardbeg 10 Cask Strength
- OK, one quick pour at home, just to confirm this is as good as I would expect. It is. The "soot and fruit" core character of Ardbeg shines through. Yesterday, I almost asked our tour guide yesterday whether Ardbeg would ever consider doing a 10 at cask strength, since Laphroaig 10 Cask Strength is my favorite series of whiskies. After tasting this, I am holding out hope. Delicious.
And some stray notes from the Bowmore Hotel last night ... Bowmore Vault Edition No. 2 Peat Smoke
- It's so funny, this dram was supposed to highlight the peaty/smoky side of Bowmore's moderately peated spirit. Instead, it hit me with the clearest, most powerful prune note I've ever gotten in a whisky. Not the most complex, but a delightful surprise. Kilchoman STR Cask 2019
- STR is an experimental cask finish involving shaving, toasting, and recharring (hence, S-T-R) old wine casks to mature whisky. Based on this one, I'm not the biggest fan. Like a dried-out bourbon that had its sweet notes sucked out of its nose before mummification. Arrrrrrrdbeg!
- This pour was pretty pricey, but damned if it isn't worth it. The nose is minty and features starfruit, anise, and mukhwas, with more of those fresh fruit and spice characteristics on the palate, along with a balanced dose of cigar smoke peatiness. A mellow and self-assured Ardbeg, and a fitting tribute to longtime distillery manager Mickey Heads. Bunnahabhain 12 Cask Strength 2022 ed.
- Aberlour A'bunadh is like the Two Face of whiskies for me; half is amazing, but half is harsh and hot (even though we mostly drink cask-strength whisky). This dram is the good half of A'bunadh: spiced cider, sultanas and trail mix dried fruits, cocoa powder, all in a rich and syrupy whisky.
The complete week's recaps are here: Day One, Lagavulin Day Two, Bruichladdich - but we skipped and did Bunnahabhain Day Three, Caol Ila Day Four, Laphroaig Day Five, Bowmore and Ardnahoe Bonus notes from Days One through Five Day Six, Kilchoman Day Seven - Bunnahabhain Day, but we did Lagavulin and Ardbeg warehouse tastings
Slainte all, and thanks for reading! I plan to do two followup posts. Tomorrow, I'll compile a "best of the week" list to recognize which distilleries did which parts of the week well, and then I'll do a writeup in the next few weeks with some booking and logistics advice, if people are interested.
2023.06.03 18:10 JulianSkies Blackriver Cases -
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Season 5 “Exotic Pets”
Episode 1 “The Night's Weave”
In any other professional setting, doing what he was currently doing would be considered highly unprofessional. In fact, even in any other precinct what he was doing right now would be very unprofessional. Usually, walking through the front door with your boss clinging to your arm like a swooning teenager would generally be interpreted only one way.
Thankfully, nobody specifically cared about this in this precinct, nor did they come to the obvious conclusion “Thank you, I’ll finish recovering in the break room” she says, with a trembling voice.
“You sure you don’t want me there?” admittedly, playing this role wasn’t really professional either for him but everyone understood the need of it.
“Yes” Keya lets go of Santos’ arm “I’ll just do the thing and drink something cold, then I can start this waking properly” she gently taps her tail on his shoulder “Now go get to work”
He sighs as he walks back to his desk. They had a wonderful two days with nothing happening after the short little session of everything happening, it was unsurprising that she’d start processing things through her nightmares now, leading those being screaming days. “‘least it isn’t the cold bastard yet” he mutters as he sits down.
And so here he planned to spend the rest of his work day getting mighty annoyed at their Regional Firebase. That damned place was in charge of both the fiscal, maitenance and archivistic functions for all the precincts in this area, not only they held the pursestrings of the operation they were also the ones in charge of maintaining equipment, assigning personnel and keeping all the information they needed to work up to date. And they seemed to hate him. Him, specifically, because the problems only started happening when he got here.
Of course he wasn’t just getting annoyed at the Regional for no reason, he was getting annoyed at them for their sheer incompetence, and he hoped it was incompetence, at keeping up data. He’d been hunting down any information about some old unsolved cases, and he’d been getting more luck with random phone calls to other precincts halfway across the planet than an official request to his own Regional.
Sadly, not every plan survives contact with the work day. After some time he feels a presence nearby and turns to look, there is Keya looking mostly like her normal self, except perhaps more tired than normal. She brings her holopad down to put it against his, transferring mission data “Nothing serious, or at least nothing dangerous. But we really should take this call”
He looks down at his device and calls up the mission data he’s just received. Predator sighting near… Orran’s house? Bit too close for comfort, real sightings are usually at the farms, but scarcely any information. Just something small and quadrupedal is the useful information, the rest is just usual ‘predator’ panic speech. “This looks like a ghost call, but sure I’ll go” he stands up and starts heading towards the garage, but stops and turns around “Stay here boss, no need to-”
“Yes there is, don’t worry about me” Keya takes a deep breath “I’m not at full capacity but i’m fine, let’s go” she walks past him.
With a shrug, he follows. As they settle in the car and Keya starts driving, he picks up his holopad to re-read the mission data. Nothing, obviously, has changed but he gives it more attention now. Small quadruped, fast, like a shadow… If there were any other humans here he’d believe it was someone’s pet cat, but without anyone dumb enough to bring an exotic animal to an alien planet in sight that’s unlikely. Sadly, none of the usual trash-diggers quite match either.
But there’s one final detail that’s weird. This… Isn’t the first call. There’s been a lot more calls related to this one, an entire fifty eight different calls all tied to this same incident report. He starts following links to the previous calls and checking them- All of them are the same incident, small quadruped, fast and like a shadow… And they were all marked as minimal priority, and left forgotten and unattended.
With a raised eyebrow he continues to check, seeing the dates of the reports. They were insistent, and have been going on for a while now. They’re not older than his presence here, but aside from them having stopped completely for the previous five days, those calls have been a daily occurrence. And each and every one of them was set to minimum priority by Keya herself, and promptly forgotten. Which indicated there had to be something going on here, because she’d never leave a call forgotten like this, at least not when she woke up screaming.
“Boss-” but before he can say anything, they’ve arrived. A considerably different house than the rest of the residences of the town, Orran had been living here long enough to have completely rebuilt his house in the style of his people, or at least the exterior and a few additions. It was weirdly tall for his size despite being only one floor, the exterior was coated with a material that looked like an earthen-brown daub but the evenness of the striations in the material showed an artistic care in its application beyond the means of manual work. The windows were higher in the walls than in a normal venlil residence and they seemed to have multiple layers, both glass and wood were used in their construction with the final layer being some form of metal.
“Huhn, I wonder if the weather on his homeworld is that wild?” he says, staring at the windows. He’s familiar with that kind of design, it could easily be used to control airflow to various degrees and help regulate temperature. But this entire getup seemed like overkill to him, unless wherever this was used had the breadth of half of Earth’s weather happening in the same area.
“Only about where I lived” Orran’s voice echoes from behind the door, which consists of a mesh door behind a wooden door. The yotul opens them and offers him an ear flick “Nightmare weather that place, used to have a flood gate in the house too. Only good thing the feds to that town was deepening the river to handle the summer floodwaters”
Santos blinks, looks at the agriculturalist, looks back at the car where Keya still is, then back at the yotul “Dang, have I been just staring here for long? I got kind of distracted, haven’t ever actually stopped by to watch your house before”
“Oh, feel free to take it in. Took some effort to get the wattle and daub look just right, not really helping the primitive stereotype much” he says with a joyful wave of his tail “But what can I say, I’m wild nations, feds ain’t the first to call me primitive and i’m still proud of it. Still, to what do I owe the honor?”
He tilts his head to the side slightly, taking in the man’s words for a moment. They made a distressing amount of sense, guess the Yotul would still remember those parts of their own history. But he was here for a job “Yeah, we got a sighting report around here” he picks up his holopad and brings it up “In fact a report in your residence. Do you mind if I look around real quick?”
He notices Orran’s tail stilling “Hrm? I can say I haven’t seen anything, and I live here”
Taking a deep breath Santos stares at the yotul, he knows the flinch isn’t an instinctive reaction “Orran. A few paws ago you didn’t notice the nixa’s claw marks in your kitchen. And this call came in today” then he turns his stare to the side with a sigh “I just want to make sure there’s nothing, alright?”
He can see in his periphery the man going through a wild set of conflicting emotions, only to settle into a defeated expression “Alright… Just, I was uhn… Canning some food. Can you at least spare my dignity somewhat and let me clean up?”
“Sure man, it’s not urgent” he shrugs. As Orran heads back inside he looks back at the car, where Keya is still sitting. Then he looks back at Orran’s door. Something isn’t adding up, and that something is his boss’ behavior.
There is some noise from inside for a while until Orran returns “Alright, got my machinery packed, c’mon in” he mentions before waving him in.
There’s a certain aesthetic clash heading inside, it’s visible that Orran had put in effort into adding in the colors and signs of his people into a venlil residence, but the apparent lack of capacity (or funds) to really change the foundations of it meant a lot of the structure was still that of a normal venlil home.
Still, the walls had been decorated to look like they’re made of wooden planks on the inside with the actual materials only visible near things such as power sockets. The living room itself was decorated in a lightly distressing manner with effectively a circle of couches on slightly raised platforms around a central table, the television has been set up on it with a pivoting base. It looked like someone had repurposed a firepit, or rather the entire setup was designed to evoke the look of a firepit.
There was what looked like, initially, a cloth hanger near the door, but on second look what it really held was a very long string of beads- The way they were strung around it made him imagine Orran wearing those very much like a scarf which also bound around his wrists.
On the wall in the far end was something that looked like a banner, though it was best described as an unframed painting with a tougher canvas. It depicted a distant view of a town in some sandy plateau, the center of the picture was bright and colorful and clearly in the morning but at the sides one could see two long-tailed animals making their way to the center where the town resides, behind them the image was dark and stars could be seen in the sky. The way the nighttime emanated from the creatures it seemed more like they were dragging the curtains of night with their tails. Shaking his head, Santos forces himself to stop ogling Orran’s things and starts looking around.
He wasn’t, sincerely, being serious about this. But not only was this whole song and dance a necessity, but his earlier words WERE true. Just had to check for obvious signs of dangerous things. So a quick cursory glance under the couches, a short moment in the kitchen whose fridge’s scratches still weren’t repaired- Santos stops for a second more staring at the scratch marks on the fridge. He looks at Orran who’s following him, who looks confused. No, this man was not that stupid, he trusted him enough.
Still, that meant he’d have to pay more attention now. Respectfully, without actually touching anything, he continues a visual inspection towards the other side of the house. A short corridor with the doors to the bedroom and bathroom. He passes by the bedroom and stops in front of the closed bathroom door. He sighs and kneels down in front of it.
“What is it?” Orran says behind him
What is it, is that he had heard something “Just… Let me check…” he gently taps the door. And he hears the noise again, light scratching. It stops for a moment, and then he taps the door again, causing them to start for a moment again. He looks back to the frozen yotul, who was apparently actually that stupid “Set ‘em loose if you would?”
Orran doesn’t respond, he just stays there “Look, man. At the very least trust in the fact I’m a human? Not a fan of using my species as a bargaining tool but I think it’s actually relevant here?” Santos stands up again and starts heading to the living room.
He waits patiently for a while, until Orran finally arrives. A small little beast threads through his feet as he walks, not unlike a cat that is doing their best to get kicked, it is indeed a small quadruped with great agility, not only that it has a distinctive striped dark blue coat that is so deep it could be mistaken for black as well as a tail about as long as it’s torso. It’s not a beast Santos recognizes, other than from the painting in the wall, so at least he can’t blame his own kind for this problem. He looks up and sees Orran has another one in his arms, this one looking much more calm and gentle.
Santos rubs his eyes “Really, Orran? You, of all people” he sighs “Come on, not to be racist here but I’d expect a yotul, no, a yotul ecologist to know better.” he waves at the man’s beasts “Did you really bring exotic pets to another planet?! No, not another country, another planet?” he sighs “What even are those?”
“Nightweaver hensa” says a soft voice from behind him, he turns around to see that Keya had finally arrived “An endangered species native to Leirn, called like that after a legend that they were the ones who’d drag the veil of night over the scorching sun” she sounds mostly like herself, but he can feel a flatness creeping up in her delivery.
Santos stares at her for a moment, looks back at Orran with a piercing stare, then slowly lowers his eyes to the hensa he’s carrying “Endangered animals? Are you-” but a light sound draws his attention back to Keya. She simply taps a place in her chest, the motion confuses him for a moment until he looks down at himself. Where she tapped is exactly where the insignia of the exterminator’s guild is in his uniform. He starts exhaling air slowly as he sits down on a couch “Are. You. Fucking. Kidding. Me.”
He looks at Orran protectively holding his pet, looking terrified. The first time he’s seen the man look afraid. He looks down, and notices one of the two hensa had walked up to him. He notices in his periphery Orran flinches when he offers his hand for the feline-like to sniff “Plausible deniability” he says.
When nobody else says anything, he continues “I thought it was weird she made me get inside on my own before her. I am, of course, human. Some things are expected out of us, I’m sure a big fuss is expected out of me over a pet” when the alien feline seems confident enough, it gives his finger a gentle nip and puts its entire head on his hand “So just in case we don’t have any protocol about how to deal with this situation, she can pretend whatever happens is because of me”
He gently caresses the little beast “I thought it was weird you had personally deprioritized fifty eight calls” the tone is not quite accusatory
“He quite clearly had them under control, there was no need to do anything about it” Keya says as if it was the most normal thing
Keya gently sways her tail “I got tired of it. After the last few paws I don’t think I have the energy to deal with this anymore” it made sense, he knew she had a limit to her emotional energy.
Orran slowly tilts his head to look at Keya “Wait… You’ve known about them?”
She gives him an affirmative ear flick “I even know they’re Nightweavers. They were already an endangered breed before your first contact, for all I know they’re the last two living Nightweavers”
At that, Santos focuses on the one that Orran is holding… Something about it… It’s a she “A breeding pair” this causes the yotul to snap his focus on him “You brought a breeding pair. It would be bad enough if they were just pets, maybe they’d be neutered and the worst damage they’d do would be for however long those fluffball live, but you’re looking at increasing the population”
He sighs “Orran… You know this will cause a disaster, don’t you? Do I need to tell you about the extinction level events that were every goddamn invasive species on Earth? Do I need to tell you the number of species gone extinct because of our cats?” he takes a deep breath “Actually, no, I don’t think I need to. You don’t actually care, do you?” he continues to gently caress the overly-affectionate little feline that at this point had jumped on his lap and burrowed itself under his shirt “Not only you don’t care… Any collateral you cause is probably just rightful vengeance for you is it?”
“It’s not like that!” the yotul shouts “I… I was breeder back home, okay? I wasn’t a farmer, I was a hensa breeder” he thumps his tail on the ground in anger “You weren’t there… You weren’t there to watch what they did to my… When I had a chance to run away and… And save some of them. I just grabbed who I could and just ran.” he holds the pregnant female a little bit tighter “I wasn’t planning on… Anything. I wasn’t planning, I wasn’t thinking… I… I wound up here, eventually…”
Santos brings down his other hand to scratch the little alien kitten. He takes a moment to just take in the little beast, whatever ecological niche it filled had to be infinitely similar to that of cats to be so similar yet so different. The tail movements were so different, a lot more energetic, a lot more in general, made sense since their owners had tails too, they probably could read each other much better. And it seemed to enjoy getting squished for some reason, he wondered why. He had all of those wonders and thoughts while he tried to not think about what he’d have to do.
Those hensa couldn’t stay here. Maybe, a very wild maybe, if they were neutered they could. But those were pretty much for breeding and of a particularly endangered kind as well, so that was out of the picture. Of course, those two space felines would also need to be cared for, they were an endangered species so that was non-negotiable. The UN had some measures for dealing with terran animals in this planet, from relocation to shelters to even a few approved areas they could live in, but they only dealt in terran animals not leirnian animals.
At this point his thoughts are interrupted by Keya’s voice “I don’t care who, anyone that can help is enough” he looks up at her, she has her holopad firmly clenched in her hands and her right eye focused directly on it.
She’s on a call.
And here we have it, we meet the two little disasters-to-be while the precinct chief throws their human into the fire as a possible scapegoat for any possible crazy plan they might have to resort to. And in fact, said crazy plan seems to involve a desperate plea over the phone.
Also, I had a bit of fun trying to thinking what Orran's house might be like, and somewhere along the line I got this weird thought: They're certainly not innocent of or about colonialism, so wouldn't the displaced natives of their own world at least feel a tiny bit of vindication watching their own conquerors get conquered in turn? Doesn't make things better but the irony of it all must be sweet.
Edit: FFS. Reddit, LET ME EDIT TITLES
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2023.06.03 16:26 PixiePower65 Swan song. What song would you pick to cross over while listening
Just read a Reddit story on nursing
. Dude had them play Sweet Home Alabama on his way out.
ICU nurses granted the request by playing it for whole hospital.
Rather liked the thought of this. So what tune are you picking?
“Stayin Alive “ is my brothers request for the funeral 😂🥰
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2023.06.03 12:56 YukiteruAmano92 Remembrance, Chapter 2 of 28
--- Hr3101m973S’s perspective---
---Tuesday, 31st of October, 2682 Terran Calendar---
I ride the speeder at an altitude of 307m over the rural landscape.
I have 158 other bodies making similar deliveries across Britain right now, as well as 29 in Ireland and 11 in Doggerland. Though, none of them have quite as spectacular
a view as this one does so, for the moment, this is the body whose sensory feed I’m paying the most attention to.
I see a large herd of mammoths walking at the edge of the Galloway Forest.
Though it has a better view, the news I’m carrying with this
body is just as grim as all the rest.
In hindsight, it’s probably a good thing that I was such a spendthrift with regard to my fleet of courier bodies… If I hadn’t been, if I’d selected abilities that let them do much more than deliver things, they may well have been requisitioned for military use… which, I suppose
, they were anyway
… but there’s a big
difference between delivering notices on Earth and fighting on some distant planet!
Still, if sacrificing my replaceable bodies would save even a single irreplaceable life, I would definitely have done it.
The city comes into view.
Calling it a ‘city
’ may be a little generous… it only has 2,507,963 inhabitants.
have been a respectable city in the 22nd Century
but, for context, nearby Dumfries has 7,491,509 and Glasgow has 24,339,192!
Stranraer occupies a rare
middleground between the historic hamlets that are allowed to exist in the countryside and the megalopoleis where around 98.32% of people on Earth live.
I land in the northern part of the town and step off my speeder.
I get some raised eyebrows as I walk from the landing pad to the residential home.
I don’t blame them!
Before the War, every single one of my courier bodies had a full suit of elastomer over their entire body, to make them seem more lifelike… Now
, though, that’s considered a luxury and, so, this particular unit is walking around with its metal endoskeleton bare, bar its uniform.
The effect can be a little offputting… though, in truth
, it may also have to do with the news
they’ve inferred me to be delivering to some
I cross the wall into the garden and begin walking up the steps, through the mosslawn shrouded by pinus sylvestris trees, to the house on top of the little hillock.
It takes me 12 seconds to reach the door from the gate… I can’t rush, I need to give this girl her due respect.
I rap on the door 3 times and hear the knocks echo through the cavernous hall behind.
A man opens the door.
I begin, speaking in the most popular local dialect of Lallans Scots that I know to be this man’s primary speech register “Greetings, Mr Baird. I don’t know if you remember me but…”
you! I’m organic, not daft
! You’ve been here enough times
already…” interrupts the residential care manager, his demeanour gruff and no-nonsense “…Come
in, Hermes… You can wait in the kitchen while I go get her.”
I step into the building, passing below the lowest of 5 balcony walkways into an open space with a skylight ceiling, allowing in the natural light.
I let the man lead the way to a large kitchen.
He pulls out a chair for me.
“Thank you, Sir, but I believe I ought to remain standing to make this delivery.” I respond, politely.
…” he shrugs before walking off, presumably to fetch the girl he knows I’m here for.
I wait several minutes before he reappears.
The girl he has in tow is the perfect match of the file photo (though a few years older). She is average height, 178cm, and has an average build. Her skin is pale, her eyes are emerald green and her hair is long, absurdly voluminous, curly and vividly
She looks to be in fine physical health and is making no pretence of illness or injury, though she is
scowling at me.
The grey bearded man shuts the door, leaving me alone with the girl.
“Could you tell me your name, please?” I ask, already knowing.
“Esme Reid.” she answers, truculently.
“And your date of birth, Ms Reid?”
“31st of October, 2664. Come to give me a birthday
you(?)” she says, folding her arms, pursing her lips and looking away to the kitchen counter by the window.
“Thank you…” I say, reaching into my bag to withdraw a letter and a large holopad with a stylus attached.
I hold the letter out to her and say “This is your conscription notice, Ms Reid. Please sign receipt of it here.” indicating the holo.
Her eyes flick from the paper to the screen before she drily answers “I don’t suppose, if I don’t take that or don’t sign for it, that’d mean I couldn’t be drafted, would
I shake my head and respond “I’m afraid that no such loophole exists, Ms Reid… If you have a conscientious objection to fighting, you could request a nonmilitary national service. However, you would
be asked to provide some proof
of your conscientiousness and…”
“I’m no bleeding heart…” she says, snatching the letter from my hand, irritably “…I’ll sign for my bloody death
warrant!” scrawling her name on the pad.
Without looking at the pad, I check the signature she provided against the one on file and find it a close enough match to proceed.
“Thank you, Ms Reid. Please report to your local recruitment office in Stranraer within 14 days for your physical and psychological fitness assessments. They’ll then interview you regarding your preferences for training and deployment and they’ll try
to take those into account when assigning them.
(!) Maybe if I can convince my evaluator that I’m cracked enough in the head, I won’t get sent off to die
like my mam and dad did(!)” she quips, sarcastically.
“I don’t think you’ll have much luck with that
strategy, Ms Reid… Sol’s government have had quite the interest in weeding out malingerers these past few years… I would put the odds of success below 1%.” 0.75619902%, actually, but that’s too
many decimals for most biologicals’ patience(!)
She frowns up at me and demands “I’m being such
a brat about this… Why are you still
being so friendly!?”
I laugh “Ms Reid, though I strongly
encourage you not
to express the same demeanour to your drill
instructors as you are with me
, you are far from the worst person I’ve delivered this news to in even the last half hour
!… Right now, I’ve got a draftee in Leeds who’s explaining a hairbrained scheme involving unethically cloning a replacement to fight in his stead, I’ve got one in Bristol who’s trying to beat up my body but only really succeeding in hurting herself, I’ve got one in Edinburgh that’s run away in an attempt not to be served… by comparison
, a bit of scowling and sarcasm is rather tame
“Huh!… Guess I’m not quite
the bad girl Ms. Larch always told
me I was, am I(!)”
“It seems you shall simply have to work harder
(!) I believe there is a leather jacket emporium in Stranraer that still does business…”
She smiles and laughs for the first time that I’ve seen.
That’s the real
reason I don’t get touchy about the attitudes expressed to me by draftees: It makes my job so much easier when I soften the blow with good manners and good humour.
As unfair as it is that so many choose to shoot the messenger, it’s understandable when you consider the messages I carry.
“Ms Reid…” I start, seriously but softly “…if you truly
do not wish to fight, you know there are
alternatives? You can discuss them with your recruitment officer but…”
“I got no
special skills, Hermes… Nothing I can do that an AI couldn’t do faster and better… The Merchant Navy’s basically as dangerous as the Navy
Navy, just less
armed… the Humanitarian corps has a waiting list so long that the War’d be over
(one way or another) long
before they got to the point of considering me
… I know
going… no use in fighting it…”
“Alright, Ms Reid… I wish you the best
…” I say, turning to leave.
Mr Baird shows me out of the house.
Rather than walking back to the landingpad, to retrieve my bike, I walk the other way.
My bag is still heavy with conscription notices… it only makes sense to deliver all the ones in this town first…
The evening sun plays off of the calm waves of the North Sea.
It should be raining
on a day like this…
This gorgeous weather is slapping me in the face and telling me to be happy, to be content…
I know the weather does not care for the happenings of people… I know that, if it rained everywhere and every day there was a funeral, the whole world
would flood… I know this… and still
… I hate
this contrast between my grim, internal misery and the tranquil sun drenched beach where I stand, this autumn day… There’s barely
even any snow
on the grass…
When this War started, I was fourteen and had two loving parents…
My Father was too old to serve, at 51…
At 37, my mother was not
Yet, it’s not my mother
’s funeral I am attending right now. That was two months ago.
No… the strongly built 55 year old man, dressed in a long white robe and clutching a Norse langsverð, despite having been a fish
farmer and not a warrior, is my father… Lars ‘Walker’ Taylor.
His eyes are closed and he lies within a wooden boat, around 80cm wide and 3m long.
This boat was never meant to touch the water… I bought it from a supplier in Bankland that specialises in funerary boats for Doggerland’s Forn Siðr community.
I already recited a poem… there’s nothing else for me to do until the singer begins.
I’m not listening to the Goði prattle on about Valhalla and Ragnarök… I’m just looking at my father’s face… oscillating between hating him for doing this to me and hating myself for doing this to him.
The sermon concludes and a blonde woman, like everyone else present, dressed in snow white funeral clothes, steps forward.
One of the three men behind her brings his bow to the three strings of his tagelharpa, another raises a flute carved out of a cow’s leg bone to his lips, the last begins banging out a slow beat on his drum.
The band would definitely be larger if so many of the Hof’s musicians hadn’t been called up to serve.
The men begin playing a mournful tune and the woman begins a wailing, melismatic melody, not in English, the first language of most here, not in my father’s native Frisian, not even in New Norse, the liturgical language of his faith…
She sings in a strain of Norwegian that was spoken centuries
ago, when there were barely any
Forn Siðr practitioners living. mf♫ Eg songane søkte Eg songane sende Då den djupaste brunni Gav meg dråpar så ramme Av Valfaders pant♫mf
I have a final part to play in this ritual.
The Goði picks up the torch and lights it against a flaming brazier before beckoning to me.
I step forward from the small crowd.
In contrast to most, whose clothes are pristine white robes and tunics and such, I wear the same simple white suit that I wore two months ago.
I may be a nonbeliever but no one at my father’s Hof challenged the idea that I was the most fitting person to perform this last rite for him.
I take the torch from the man and walk to my father’s side.
I hesitate before I touch it to one of the mounds of high energy, smokeless fuel that surround his body… but only for a moment…
The flame quickly takes and, before the current verse of the song is even finished, the entire boat is engulfed in fire.
I toss the torch in and step back from the conflagration.
Minutes pass as I watch the inferno consume the entire pyre.
I barely notice the music stop.
I barely notice the crowd thinning as people leave.
I just watch as the man’s existence is wiped from the Earth.
“Have you thought about what you’re going to do now, brother?” asks a voice from beside me.
Without looking at the Pagan cleric, I dully answer “I have.”
“And, what is that
… if I may ask?”
“My birthday’s in January… I’ll be drafted… but I don’t have to wait… I’m going to go to the recruitment office and request an early start to my training… by the time it’s done, I’ll be 18 and they’ll be legally able to deploy me.”
… that’s certainly… an
option… Have you thought
“I haven’t, Tormund. This is what I’m doing.” I state, still looking at the blaze.
“I see… I wish you well
then, Oskar…” Tormund says, sincerely.
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--- TWBS Previous
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2023.06.03 10:36 Noghbuddy A Secret Chord - Part 5
This part got a little bit away from me. I only intended to have a brief moment between David and Ruk'sa, but it grew a bit more than I planned. It seemed like the right time for David to tell a little bit about his side of things. I hope you enjoy, and once again let me know what you think. First
/ Next (At some point)
CW: Suicidal thoughts/actions
David was all-too familiar with the ceiling of his bedroom. He’d spent many nights staring up at it praying for sleep to take him. Of course, then he had to deal with the nightmares. Tonight, was no different. Well, there were the two fik sleeping on either side of him, but the insomnia still had a firm grasp of him. The following afternoon he was supposed to catch a chartered shuttle out to the boonies for the funeral of a man he didn’t know. He could probably catch some sleep on the red eye, but if he couldn’t even sleep in his own bed…
He decided to stretch his legs. Thanks to a bit of luck, he wasn’t pinned down like last time, so he tried his best to stealthily shuffle off the foot of the bed. He padded silently to the bathroom, closed the door, then flicked on the light. Blinded for a moment, he blinked his eyes a couple times in the mirror until his vision cleared. Between the dark circles under his eyes and how gaunt his cheeks had become; his face took on an almost skull-like appearance.
He stared into his eyes, watching them dilate ever so slightly. Come on, man. You gotta get some sleep. Something. Anything.
He ran his fingers through his mop, contemplating whether he should try and find some kind of barber. Perhaps one that could do something about his beard too. Knowing his luck, the aliens probably just grow perfect hair and have no concept of a hairstylist.
Resting his elbows on the counter, he pressed the heels of his hands into his eyes until he saw spots. Just let exhaustion take you. It wouldn’t be the first time.
He flicked off the light and waited for his eyes to adjust to the dark once again. Once he could see, he padded back out of the bathroom and into the living room. The fik had overrun the small abode. Half a dozen bodies strewn about peacefully asleep on the floor, the room full of gentle breathing and the occasional snore. Chief Sulta had claimed the couch after being denied the bed by David. She made it clear he could also use the bed, but he didn’t feel comfortable letting a stranger into it. This of course didn’t stop the other two who were with him the previous night. Apparently, they thought they got a pass. He was too frustrated to object. Plus…They were warm…
David carefully stepped over the sleeping forms making his way to his kitchen. The chief seemed alright after a couple conversations. His guardians disapproved vehemently of course, but she seemed honest. A bit too honest. She really intended to do everything she could to keep David safe, but…Well, she wasn’t the sharpest bulb in the box.
Clearing the threshold, he made his way to the fridge for something to drink. As he sipped, he checked the time. It was still a few hours till morning. It was hard to tell on station. This one orbited a moon that orbited a gas giant that orbited another gas giant that all orbited a distant star. There was some kind of galactic standard time, but David could never get his head around it.
“Why are you awake?”
He looked up at Rus’ka leaning against the doorway. She was rubbing sleep out of her eyes.
“I can’t sleep.”
“I just can’t. I have insomnia.”
“It’s where I can’t sleep.”
She crossed the room to stand beside him as he turned to lean back against the counter.
“Sleeping is easy. Just close eyes and relax. Sleep come to you. You try too hard, maybe?”
He sighed and reminded himself that they were a relatively young species that didn’t come with countless medical journals or psychology papers. Lucky them.
“If only it were that easy. No. I broke whatever I had that let me sleep.”
“How can you fix?”
“I…I don’t know.”
“Well…How did you break?”
He closed his eyes and set his glass aside, “I don’t know…Well, I have some ideas, but I don’t know
He couldn’t tell if she knew what she was doing or was just stubbornly persistent. Probably a mix of both. “Probably what happened to me.”
“What happened to you?”
He took a deep breath and slid down the counter to sit on the floor. She joined him there. “I told you: a lot.” He looked her in the eyes. She didn’t look away. He didn’t want to talk about this. He’d do anything besides talk about this, but… If she wanted to live here. Live with him, then she should probably know. She’d find out one way or another. When did I accept that?
Looking down between his knees he sighed and began, “I was kidnapped. I don’t remember much of what happened. One minute I’m trying to figure out why my Honda died again, the next I’m strapped to a table.” He shuddered. “I was groggy, but I could still feel them-“ He swallowed, “cutting into me. I couldn’t move. Couldn’t scream. I just felt and watched. They were out of a nightmare. They couldn’t be real. But I felt it. It was real. It hurt. Oh God, it hurt.”
He screwed his eyes shut trying to force the memory down. To think of anything else. Ruk’sa put her arm around his shoulder and gave a gentle squeeze. “Then I could hear them. I could understand the snakes.” He fingered the scar behind his ear, “They put a translator in me. Then threw me in a cell. I was a slave.”
As soon as he could move his arms, he began hammering on the metal cage around him. “Let me out! Don’t do this! Let me out!”
In a flash a blade whizzed past his temple scoring a shallow cut. “Silence! You will not speak. You have nothing to say anyway.”
His crimson captor ignored him and returned to the console before them. David took stock of his situation to find any possible way out. He was prone on his back in a metal coffin with a grate by his head, apparently there for easy stabbing access. He took a minute to control his breathing when the guard slithered out the door.
The box wasn’t tiny. It seemed to be made for larger creatures, but it was still a challenge for David to sit up. He grabbed onto the bars and pulled himself up to the hatch. A quick scan revealed the handle just outside. He thrust his hands through the bars, but he couldn’t reach the latch. It was so close. It looked like it turned toward him. All he had to do was pull it.
He sat for a moment contemplating what he had available. All he had on him was his rental tux. He regretted not going for the cummerbund, so the bow tie would have to suffice. He pulled it off his neck and stuck his hands out of the cage. It took a few tries, but he eventually managed to toss one end of the tie around the handle and caught it in his other hand. He didn’t have a lot of leverage, but with a steady pull he managed to pop the latch.
It was awkward twisting and dropping to the floor, but he was free…Free-ish. Now he just had to get out of the room. Glancing back to the wall of cells he realized he was the only one there. That made things simple. He stalked to the iris door and peeked out after it hissed open. The halls were empty, so he ducked outside. The place was massive, which made sense given its inhabitants. He noticed the halls had a slight bow in them. Must have made slithering easier.
He picked a direction and padded away as quietly as his dress shoes allowed. He’d stop at every intersection and listen. He chose the path with the least sound up until some kind of alarm sounded.
“Cell breach. Alert. Cell breach.”
He needed to hide, and fast. Looking around the circular hallway he noticed pipes and vents above him. Using the rounded walls to his advantage, he got a running start and ran up the side of the warped wall. It took a couple tries, but he eventually made his primate ancestors proud and caught a pipe above him. He hauled himself up and began shuffling awkwardly above the hallway.
Below him pandemonium broke out. He saw dozens of snake monsters slithering this way or that, looking for him. Each armed.
David channeled his inner John McClain and pulled a vent off the ceiling and climbed inside. As he crawled, he thought about what he was even looking for. There had to be some kind of escape pod, or shuttle he could steal. Maybe hide out on the next shuttle headed down to abduct some other poor dumb bastard. All he knew was he needed to get home. After scuttling around for a while his luck ran out. He crawled over a vent that couldn’t hold his weight and he fell into a hallway. Hauling himself upright with a groan he stopped dead at what he saw.
He could see Earth through the window. David never believed he could be an astronaut. He thought this view would forever be a dream, but there it was. Earth was beautiful.
Then he felt a sharp stinging pain across his back as a monster slashed him. He convulsed and collapsed, losing consciousness as he was dragged back to Hell.
“I don’t know how long I was there…But that was the last time I saw home…I tried escaping. Many times. I saw home and damn it I was going to get back…Each time they punished me. Each time I ‘lost value’.” He looked over his scared arm then squeezed his eyes shut. Forcing the memories away. He didn’t want to be taken again, but they pulled. He could feel the cuts. The burns.
Ruk’sa rubbed his shoulders and leaned into him. Trying to keep him there with her.
With a shuddering breath, David continued, “Then one day, I was ‘rescued’. I don’t know if they were with the Community or just pretending, but some of those big bastards raided the ship. It got loud and violent. They hauled us off and took us to a little waystation. Refueling, I guess. They kept telling us we were safe. Then one of them…I think he was one of them, told us we needed a medical examination.”
David and a couple of other escapees stared out the window at the strange planet. It was a pale-yellow rock drifting around some distant star. They were let off the ship to stretch their legs while it refueled for the next leg of the journey. David didn’t know where it was supposed to go. He just wanted to go home. He didn’t know or care how he’d explain what happened to him. There were plenty of crazy whack-jobs who claimed to be abducted. He could just roll with them. Or just pretend the whole thing never happened.
One of those big bastards who ripped him out of his cell and tossed him bodily off the ship appeared in the doorway.
“You there. You need a medic to look you over. Come on over here and let’s take a look at you.”
Seemed fair enough. David wasn’t sure how much blood was too much to lose, but the snakes flirted with that line all too often. He and the others shuffled over to the giant and where he directed. David entered the room and was soon pulled up by his arm. It felt like it might pop out of its socket. He struggled and thrashed before a giant fist sent the world to spin.
He woke up in another cell with another man. All he could do was weep.
David didn’t notice when Ruk’sa drew him into her lap. He clutched at her arm to stay where he was. In the here and now. He could still see Sammuel’s face.
“The big bastards didn’t cut. They just hit you. Or starved you. All I could do was hold on. I tried to help Sammuel. Tried to keep him strong. If he was strong then I would be strong. We’d come so far. I held out. I did it once, I could do it again. And I was right. We were liberated once again after God only knows how long. We were free.” He swallowed and wiped away the tears forming in hie eyes.
“I can still remember the blinding light. I was numb when they hauled us off. They took us to some big station and asked where we wanted to go. I told them I just wanted to go home.” He let the tears fall now, “they told me it was gone. ‘What do you mean it’s gone?’ ‘It’s been destroyed. A terrible tragedy.’ I thought they were lying. It had to be another trick to keep me enslaved. I never escaped. They just refuse to send me home…Then they showed me…”
He clutched at her shoulders and buried his face in the nape of her neck, “That was all I had! I just wanted to go home! And they fucking stole that too!”
He wept and shuddered in her grasp. She stroked the back of his head while he collected himself.
“They tried to fix me. I broke down. I had nothing left. So, they sent me away to the loony bin. I just wanted to die. Is that too much to ask? Just bury me with the rest of my kind. But they had to try and fix me. They barely knew me or mine! How can you fix that!?”
He was trapped once again. The fucking snake sat there asking questions like they didn’t destroy his life.
“David. Please talk to me. I’m trying to help you. If you just talk to me, we can help you.”
What fresh Hell was this? Making his tormentors try and fix him? David closed his eyes and refused to speak. If he looked at her, he could only relive what they did.
“I know what you went through was stressful…”
She didn’t know shit! How could she? He wouldn’t give her anything. Never again. He wasn’t a slave. He’d die first. Why didn’t he die? He should be with all the others. What’s left?
“David, please. I’m trying to help you. I just want what’s best for you.”
He knew what was best for him. He was tired of everyone trying to control him. This was no different. Well, no more. He’d seize the last bit of control he had. His hands were bound, but his mouth was still free. He bit down on his wrist. Maybe he could bleed out before someone stopped him.
“Nurse! Nurse! I need you in here!”
David didn’t know how long it had been. Ruk’sa was rocking him back and forth. He felt tired. But he still couldn’t sleep.
“I was trapped there for a while…I couldn’t take it…Once they realized I wouldn’t talk to a snake, I started saying the magic words. ‘Oh, I feel better. I’m moving on. I’ll be fine I promise.’ They didn’t know the first thing about humans. I lied. They let me go thinking they’d done good… When they let me free, I tried taking all the pills they gave me. I tried ending it all a couple more times…They’re too damn good at stopping me.”
Ruk’sa couldn’t stop herself. She clutched David tightly to herself. “Saaaa, no! David, no! You can’t mean that! David must…David must….Saa!” She was ashamed for not having the words. She couldn’t fix him.
“I’m sorry…You just found a broken human…Just let me be broken.”
“No!...We fix you!...We must!” She held him tight as if he’d slip away. She didn’t know what to say. But she’d figure it out. She had to.
They stayed like that for a while before David asked, “Can…Can you hold me? Just like this? Please?”
She nodded, “Forever, if I must.”
David buried his face in her chest while she clutched him tightly. She tried to stop the tears from falling. To stay strong. To hold him and show him he was safe.
She tried her best, all the while a certain albino listened from around the corner, out of sight.
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2023.06.03 08:38 blaringbrunch4331 Jackson Memorial Funeral Home Recent Obituaries
2023.06.03 08:34 blaringbrunch4331 Jackson Memorial Funeral Home Recent Obituaries
2023.06.03 08:06 ChanRob69 Is this normal? I've never taken a bereavement, but they need proof before it's even approved?
2023.06.03 06:52 SJDude13 My girlfriend had a meltdown and fell asleep on my couch - New Update
I am not the OP. Original post is by u/Ad-West-7 in offmychest
TW: Mental illness, self-harm, references to suicide, physical violence, alcohol + drug abuse
Mood Spoiler: Still very sad Note: This is a follow-up to my previous BORU about this, which can be found here. The newest update is the second one, if you want to skip to it.
- May 9, 2023 My girlfriend had a meltdown and fell asleep on my couch
Last night my (25M) girlfriend (27F) came over to drop off a package that was sent to her house instead of mine. She’s been struggling with depression recently and for the last two weeks she has not been acting herself at all. It seemed like she had not slept in days and her usual high energy self was not there. I asked her if she was okay numerous times but she kept pushing me away and gave one sentence answers about how she is fine and I didn’t need to worry. I know she has a history with suicide but that was when she was a teenager and she has not thought of taking her life since she was 16.
When she came over she was in really bad shape. Her hair was messy and there were bags under her eyes. There were some cuts on her arm that looked like self harm and one of them was bleeding. Her voice was groggy and she was extremely quiet. She came into my apartment, put the package on the kitchen counter, said goodbye, and tried to leave immediately. She thanked me for being a good boyfriend which caught my attention. I felt a sense of doom so I stepped in front of the door and told her to stay for the night. She told me to move but I said she was not in a good condition to drive and something bad might happen.
Suddenly she hit me in the chest and said she wants something bad to happen. She broke down in tears and cried about how stressed out and unappreciated she felt. She talked about how she was the perfect student and went to Berkeley like her parents wanted and became a nurse but they never showed any support for her career. She gets pushed aside and hates how all the attention goes to her sister and she feels unnoticed. She cried about how stressful work has been and how understaffed her hospital is. She had not slept for 37 hours and tried to go to bed a couple hours earlier but couldn’t fall asleep. She hates her body and how much she struggles with maintaining her weight. I picked her up and brought her to the couch and she continued crying and told me she thought about crashing her car multiple times on the way to my apartment and I would be better off with her being dead. She finished off by saying she doesn’t feel human and how difficult it is to get out of bed then fell asleep in the middle of crying. That all happened in a span of about 10 minutes.
I laid her down on the couch and put a pillow under her head. I stopped the bleeding on her arm and put some bandages on the wound after I cleaned it. I put a blanket over her and stroked her hair for a while. I started crying watching her sleep. I knew she was going through a rough time but I did not know how bad it was. I got a blanket and pillow and slept in front of the couch in case she woke up.
It’s 10am right now and she’s still sleeping. She’s been asleep for 14 hours and has not moved. I don’t know what condition she’s going to be in when she wakes up but I hope she is calm and open to talk about getting help.
Edit: Thank you for the replies. She woke up a couple hours ago after sleeping for 16 hours and she explained everything. She was at work two days ago and a elderly patient yelled at her and shoved her. She reached her breaking point and when she got home she threw out her antidepressants (she gets a refill on Thursday) and went into a manic episode. She went to work yesterday without sleep but walked out an hour into her shift and relapsed into self harming. She decided she was going to drive into a tree but wanted to see me one last time so she dropped off the package to do so. Thankfully I saw the signs and stopped her and she had her breakdown. She asked if she could stay with me for a couple of days so we drove to her apartment to get some things and she played music and sang her heart out. She wanted Wingstop so I stopped to order her something and she ran to a grocery store nearby while I was in line and got her favorite ice cream. We drove back to my apartment and ate and she is currently taking a shower. When she gets out and dries off I’m going to sit down with her and talk about what she wants to do regarding her job. I think she’s going to quit tbh. I saw a comment asking me to call out for her but I think she’s going to call out entirely. She seems BURNT OUT. I’m also going to bring up idea of her talking to a therapist again. Thank you for listening to my ramble lol. Your support means a lot to me.
~~~ First Update
- May 13, 2023 My girlfriend showed up to my work drunk and high
A couple days ago I posted about how my girlfriend was in the middle of a mental crisis and fell asleep on my couch for half the day. She took a mental health leave from her job and found a therapist this morning who she says will begin to see her next week. She got her medication refills on Thursday and has been trying to relax but when I came home later that day she was not there. I texted her and she said she was out with friends and would be back soon. She came back a couple hours later with a brown bag but did not tell me what it was. She went into my bedroom to hide it and told me not to open it. I was a little concerned but decided not to push it.
It turns out she was hiding cocaine in the bag. I am a firefighter and I worked today and the next two days and tonight she showed up at my station drunk and high out of her mind. She knocked on the door and my Lieutenant opened it and I immediately recognized her drunk voice. She stumbled in asking where I was and started crying when she saw me. My Lieutenant told me to take her home so I guided her to the car and drove her back to my apartment. She started yelling about her job out of nowhere then fell asleep. When I reached my apartment I carried her up the stairs and sat her down on the couch. There were wine bottles and a line of cocaine on my kitchen counter. I called the station and said I would be back in an hour and cleaned up the kitchen and made sure she was not at risk of overdosing.
I have never been more mad in my life. I am okay with alcohol in my apartment but any kind of drugs is unacceptable. My father was a drug addict so drugs are forbidden from my apartment and my girlfriend knows this. I am upset about that but showing up inebriated and high at my job IN FRONT of my coworkers is even more unacceptable. I have been trying my hardest to put myself in a position to move up a rank and now I am the guy who had to drive his drunk girlfriend home. How did she even get to the station in the first place. I hope it was an Uber or something.
I love my girlfriend with all my heart but she needs to find serious professional help. I have been able to weather her manic episodes but this incident is something I am not going to be able to let go quickly. I know she has mental health problems and it’s something I have to accept to be with her but she is not taking her health seriously and it’s affecting her life and it’s starting to affect my life. She said she was going to admit herself to a psychiatric hospital on Thursday but it’s Saturday morning and she’s in my apartment passed out on my couch. I love my girlfriend. I really do. The past four years with her have been amazing but she keeps getting worse and it’s getting harder to help her. I watched my mother ruin her life trying to fix my father and I don’t want to end up on the same path as her. At some point I have to draw a line.
Update: She took herself to the hospital and admitted herself. She sent me a picture of the sign in sheet and apologized for her behavior. I don’t feel anything at this point. I get a break from her for a while so that’s nice. I might break up with her.
~~~ ***NEW UPDATE**\
* Second Update
- May 27, 2023 My girlfriend broke up with me through a letter and I miss her
My girlfriend was released from the psych ward yesterday and decided to break up with me for a while. She suffered a massive mental health crisis a couple of weeks ago and ended up taking a mental health leave from her job. She showed up at my work drunk and high on cocaine and I had to take her home. She admitted herself to the hospital the next day and stayed for two weeks before she was released.
Last night she knocked on my door before running back to her car. She left a box with all my things from her apartment and a letter attached to the box. In the letter, she said she needs to take a break from our relationship so she can take care of her mental health. She is in an extremely unstable condition and is receiving treatment for depression and suicidal ideation. She does not feel safe being around anyone at the moment and does not trust herself to make logical decisions around people. She is taking her medication and no longer feels like the world is ending but she is going back to the hospital to receive assistance with her depression. She is also going to start eating full meals again and try put on weight.
The next three pages of the letter were filled with her expressing her love for me and apologizing for her behavior. Because she knows I do not want drugs anywhere near my apartment she asked one of her coworkers about a person they know who sells cocaine and she bought a gram. She bought it in a brown bag along with some weed and hoped I would look at it and break up with her. When I didn’t she decided to sniff the cocaine and put a line on the kitchen table. She bought 10 bottles of wine and drank two of them and scattered the bottles around the apartment before taking an Uber to my job. Because I was the only thing that was stopping her from jumping off a bridge she hoped that I would get mad when I saw her walking into the fire station wasted and the state of my apartment when I brought her back and break up with her. Despite my anger, I did not break up with her and she ultimately decided to check herself into the hospital. She dedicated one page to apologizing for her actions that morning and all the things she did before because of her mental health. She doesn’t deserve a patient boyfriend like me who has the biggest heart in the world and she is afraid of corrupting me. She told me to find a woman who does not have the same problems as her and treat that woman with the same respect I gave her. The last page was her telling me how grateful she was to have me as a boyfriend and she could never repay me for the five years of love I gave her. She does not know when she’s going to feel ready to be in my presence again and told me not to come to her house to talk to me. She also drew a portrait of me while she was in the hospital and attached it to the letter.
I started crying in a way I haven’t since I was a kid. I knew what I was getting into when I met her and I never held her mental health against her. She always told me what emotions she was feeling and it helped our relationship greatly. This is a very serious situation and I am glad she recognized she needs professional support instead of trying to deal with it all by herself. She’s had episodes before but nothing like this. I miss her. I miss her so much. My apartment has been quiet for the past two weeks without her being loud and creating noise and I hate it. I miss holding her and rubbing her back while she fell asleep. I miss the streak of blonde hair in her black hair, her big, black, beautiful eyes, and how she always smelled like lavender. I miss cooking for her and making dinner so she had something to eat after a shift. I miss the smells of whatever recipe she was attempting to replicate from Pinterest. I miss the video of Daniel Craig saying “ladies and gentlemen, the weekend” she would send me every Friday after 5pm. I miss her chicken katsu and spam musubi and her cooking. She made two containers of katsu and curry and put them in my refrigerator before she started her cocaine plan and every bite I took made me miss her more. I miss exercising and doing ab workouts with her. I miss trying new hiking trails with her. I miss watching whatever dumb reality tv show she was obsessed with every two months and her asking a million questions every time she watched a sporting event with me. She was the love of my life and my life feels incomplete without her. I told my mom and younger sister we were taking a break and both of them said she feels like a member of our family. I miss her. The last four years have been the happiest times of my life and now all I feel is numbness and sadness. Whenever we had disagreements they never lasted more than two days and we apologized if one of us said something mean. She was the place I called home and the only person I feel safe confiding in and now she’s gone for I don’t know how long. I want to be right by her side giving her a hug and telling her how strong and beautiful she is but I can’t. I know she’s serious about improving her mental health and she’s making an effort to get her so that makes me feel a sense of peace. I hope she is able to find a sense of calmness in her mind. I collected all her things and dropped them off at her house this afternoon then got on the highway and just keep driving for an hour. No music or anything. Just the sound of cars and my thoughts. She deserves to be happy and feel like she wants to live. It hurts to live without her.
Edit: She has never done drugs before. This was the first time she ever bought or did drugs.
~~~ I was really sad to see this update, but perhaps it's for the best while she addresses her mental health. I wish them the best. Reminder - I am NOT the original poster. Don't forget that commenting on the original posts is not allowed.
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2023.06.03 02:05 Alpha-Sierra-Charlie Contractors 15.6 - Meeting the Family
Having survived in the violence-for-hire business for quite some time, I immediately noticed several things upon entering the conference room. The Lady Elissa sat at one end of a long and ornate conference table wearing what could barely be called a dress, largely because it was barely existent. A male aelflung of roughly her age and wearing a gaudy military uniform in House Ganthull colors was sitting a few chairs over from her. And John sat across from them, leaned back in his own chair and watching them bicker. I closed the door behind me as they fell silent at my entrance. John looked at me over his shoulder with a grin that nearly made me groan out loud. That grin has preceded some of the worst altercations I’ve ever been in outside of actual combat. The other parties had deserved it, but still. I didn’t want to have to pull John off some pompous aristocratic puppy who thought his chest full of unearned medals meant something. Again. Although it was always fun to watch those soft little whelps bleed for the first time.
Fortunately, Elissa broke the ice. “I’m so happy you could join us! I hope you have fully recovered from your wounds?”
“They have, thank you for asking.” It seemed the spoiled brat we’d saved years ago had grown up a little. Thank Uudin for that.
“As I told Lord Rosco, I was terribly sorry to hear of your loss on, well, I’m sorry but I cannot pronounce the name of that world. Hearing of Gratorf’s death saddened me greatly, I have been paying his family a stipend ever since.”
“Yeah, she told me that you two have stayed in touch over the years,” John added as he pulled out the chair next to him. “Her help behind the scenes has been most appreciated and well coordinated,
Oh shit. Oh shit, shit, shiiiiiiiit…..
“It has been, without your influence we might not have been able to fully repair our ship after it was damaged or get the medical care we needed after the bar shootout,” I told Elissa as I sat down.
John kicked me under the table.
Nobody else seemed to notice. Elissa turned to the male aelflung and said “Chrastoff, this is Lord Rex, Lord Rosco’s second in command and a fine warrior. Lord Rex, this is Lord Chrastoff Ganthull, Name-Bearer of our House, a high officer of our security forces, lord of the nearby habitat Deepwood, skeptic of logic, and my twin brother. I am the eldest, by several seconds.”
I was turning to say something bland and polite to the little lordling, but the little lordling scrunched his pointy face up in disgust.
“These are no ‘lords’ Elissa, just base savages seeking to separate us from some money before they leave and find new marks to swindle.”
“They are my guests,” she replied icily. “They saved my life where our own men couldn’t. They will prove to be a valuable asset in our coming endeavors.”
Chrastoff laughed, “They saved themselves and kept you alive to get paid and keep their own skins intact. Mercenaries do nothing but run the moment they’re at a disadvantage.”
Elissa opened her mouth to reply, but John butted in first.
“He’s right, ma’am. I’m not a lord. I had to come to my current position solely through my own capabilities and effort. My lack of any noble title doesn’t bother me, I’ve actually earned the titles I have. But I have learned that some of the least capable people are born into power are kept there by the efforts of their subordinates who actually know how make things happen. Speaking of capable people and positions of power, I meant to tell you earlier what a fantastic job you’ve done of renovating this habitat. It’s absolutely incredible, and I hope you get the credit you’re due.” FUCK. FUCKING HELL, JOHN!
Chrastoff’s genuine wood chair hit the floor as he launched to his feet and drew his rapier.
“I will spit you like a roast bird and dump your carcass at the dock!” He thundered, the tip of his rapier trembling crazily as he pointed it across the table at John and shook with rage. “I’ll kill you like scum! The scum that you are!”
“I doubt it,” John replied without even a trace of concern.
Chrastoff’s face turned an even darker shade of purple and it looked like he was about to launch himself across the table when a deeper voice came from a side entrance.
“Be seated my son, you are outmatched. You are a peerless fighting man but you are antagonizing a killer. I said be seated! Elissa, silence your chittering.”
An old, but not elderly, aelflung who could only be described as grizzled walked up to the table and sat at its head.
Elissa introduced us to her father, Great Lord Ganthull, as Chrastoff sheathed his rapier and righted his chair.
“Very bold of you to come into my home and engage in such provocation, Mr. Rosco. Were it not for our pending need and your impressive record, I would have you expelled from this station and your ship tossed out behind you.”
John tried to apologize but Lord Ganthull cut him off.
“A record that goes all the way back to the heyday of the Gunchow Combine as a distinguished Janissary soldier and commander, including the third and fifth battles of Stekkis IV and rumored participation in a revolt against the Stellar Angels abductor clan, who appear to be the only people in the known Fractureverse who know how to access your home world of Soil.”
Then he looked at me.
“And Mr. Rex, his stalwart companion and right hand, who was there to witness most of these events. Sold to the abductors by your kinsmen for your crime of being born with melanism to make their harvest quota, thrown into the cauldron of war between the big powers until you landed in Mr. Rosco’s elite unit. The two of you escaped from your bondage during the Fifth Battle of Stekkis IV, narrowly avoiding being caught in the supernova triggered by the Gunchow Combine as they retreated. Unable to save most of your comrades, you and your small band of escapees were forced into a life of piracy and crime, until you established yourselves enough to go legitimate as mercenaries, incorporating into Gallowglass Contracting and purchasing your first ship, the Fortunate Son
, seven years ago.”
The room was silent. That past was buried, nobody
knew that about us. Lifetimes of secrecy, gone. Chrastoff and Elissa sat, stunned, as they connected the dots and calculated the time. Those events were well known. Trillions had died. The effects had rippled out all the way to the fringes of civilized space. They were still rippling, in some places.
John broke the silence.
“How do you know all of this?”
“Oh, I know a great deal more,” the Great Lord told him. “We have a mutual acquaintance, who is extremely knowledgeable and recommends you very highly. Shall we discuss the terms of your employment? We need someone with your expertise for a little revolution we're starting.”
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2023.06.03 00:58 MjolnirPants Gary and the Nightmare: Part 3
Part 2 It's coming
, Inanna sent to him. Gary looked up from where he'd been peacefully sitting on the bench, waiting for everything to go down. He used his limited skill to push the mental connection to her into a different shape. He carefully followed the instructions Jerry had given him, adding knowledge magic in a certain shape until his awareness of Inanna's words expanded into an awareness of the area around her.
He had to know the girl was okay.
From there, he spotted Suzanne and expanded the magic further. A little love magic, a little knowledge magic, blended together just right, and he could feel her fear. His heart broke for the poor thing, but there was nothing to be done for it. She had to live with the fear, and the danger. With no way to alleviate her fear, he instead sought to understand it a little better.
There was a new fear; strong and vibrant, filling her body and making her nerves sing. But he could also feel the old fear. A face that was the source of it, as well as something the poor girl desperately wanted.
He dug into the old fear, knowing that time would slow in the real world as he did so. This magic moved at the speed of thought. His concern for the girl drove him to dig, until flashes of memories, the source of the fear, began to reach him.
A leather jacket with the sleeves cut off. A woman wearing it, long scars running up and down her arms. The face belonged to that woman, Gary saw, as she turned to Suzanne. Even twisted into an expression of disgust, Suzanne knew every detail of that face.
"Motherfucker," she said, "You filled your diaper again, didn't you?"
There was a man. He was the biggest man Suzanne had ever seen, with muscular arms and a fat belly. The man was nice, but still scary. Suzanne liked his kind of scary, though. He had scars on his face, one of which gave him a permanent sneer. His name was Mister Liam. He had a leather jacket like mommy's, but his was covered in patches. He had a big skull on the back, and numbers and letters that didn't make words all over. Mommy used to tease Mister Liam that he hadn't earned his jacket, and Mister Liam would tease Mommy the same way.
"Where's my fucking car keys, you little shit?!" Mommy was angry, which was scary. A stinging slap that made her see stars filled her awareness. "My keys, Suzanne! I saw you playing with them!"
Flash. Mommy was asleep on the couch. It was one of the deep sleeps that she had when she put the rubber band around her arm. Mister Liam opened the door. "Hey Stace, you want to..." he stopped when he saw Mommy on the couch and ran over to her.
"You stupid bitch," he muttered, taking the rubber band off her arm and slapping her in the face.
"Why are you hitting Mommy?" Suzanne asked.
"I need her to wake up, punkin'," Mister Liam said. He shook Mommy's shoulders until she started moaning.
Mister Liam was standing over the man who'd climbed in the window. Both of them were covered in blood. The stranger was crying, like a little kid, and Mister Liam was breathing heavily. Mommy burst into the room. "What did you do?!" she screamed at Mister Liam.
Mister Liam was kneeling in front of her. "This doesn't mean we can't still be friends, punkin," he said quietly. "It just means that Mommy and me aren't going to be the same kind of friends we were before."
Suzanne curled up on the bus stop bench as the rain poured down. It took a long, long time for the bus to come. The doors opened and she got up and ran inside. Even the few feet from the bench to the bus soaked her.
"Can you take me to Mister Liam's?" Suzanne asked. The driver, a heavyset black woman, drew her brows down in concern. "Do you know where Mister Liam lives, honey?"
"Suzanne!" Mommy's voice sounded angry as she ran up. "Suzanne, get off that bus!" Mommy grabbed her by the arms and yanked her off. "I'm sorry!" she said to the driver, whose frown changed as she regarded Mommy.
"I'm sorry, Stacey, but you're not in a position to raise a little girl. She needs to go into a foster home." Suzanne looked up, wondering what that meant.
"Do we tell her?" Miss Beth's voice could be heard through the walls from where Suzanne was playing with a doll.
"Jesus, Beth. How do we tell her? It's her mother."
"She deserves to know, Percy."
"I know, I just... Let's not tell her right away, okay?"
"How long do you want to wait?"
"I don't know. Maybe until she asks about her."
He pulled back out just in time to catch Inanna's next words. -ou ready? Born ready
, he sent back. Okay, I'll try to give you a head's up-Shit! What's wrong?
Gary sent. Percy and Beth are back, shit, this isn't good...
Gary cursed and prepared to teleport back. Shit,
Inanna sent, right before he left. It's here. We're all coming to you. Me, Suzanne, Percy, Beth and the bugbear.
Gary cursed under his breath. He prepared a wet blanket and brought his sword and shield out of hammerspace.
It only took a second for all of them to appear. Well, almost all of them. The three humans and the former goddess appeared next to the illusory bed. Suzanne was crouched down, clinging to Inanna's leg with a look of abject terror on her face.
The two adults both looked startled, knees bent, eyes casting about.
"Holy shit," Percy said.
"Get the fuck out of here!" Gary barked. "Now! Now! Now!" Both of them reacted to the force with which he shouted the command and took off.
They hadn't gotten more than a half dozen steps before an indistinct black shape appeared in front of Beth and she screamed. The black shape lunged at her, and her scream turned wet and then cut off. Gary rushed forward as Inanna collapsed from the effort of teleporting multiple people who weren't in physical contact.
Beth fell to the ground, a mess of blood and meat and the shape surged at Percy.
"Beth!" he shouted as he drew back a fist and punched at the bugbear's head. The thing flashed into solidity for a second, and Gary caught a glimpse of a white, demonic face before Percy's fist slammed into it. The thing had glowing red eyes, deep creases all over its face, large prominent fangs and a head of snarled black hair.
The thing flinched at the punch and growled, a deep, inhuman sound, its face fading back to indistinction as soon as Percy hauled his fist back for another.
"Kill you," it intoned in a sepulchral voice. Percy hit it again, and for a brief second, Gary thought the enraged man might actually take the beast down.
Percy had a good stance, and he threw his punches from the hip, hitting hard. But the bugbear wasn't an opponent in a boxing ring. When Percy swung the fifth punch, the bugbear flashed into solidity a split-second early, its maw stretching open wide and clamping down on Percy's fist with its fangs.
The man screamed as the bugbear bit his fist right off. Blood sprayed, a heartbeat pulsing it out right as the bugbear pulled back. Gary reached the beast and swung his sword, igniting it with a thought as he did.
The bugbear screamed this time, adding its unnatural voice to Percy's as the flames licked at its smokey form. The fire seemed to catch on it and the flames flowed out, engulfing it and making the silhouette more distinct.
Percy fell back and the bugbear fell on him. Gary heard his scream get cut off, and then watched his head bounce away, face still wearing an expression of shock and pain.
Gary growled and slashed again and again, each cut drawing a screech from the beast and making the flames engulfing it burn brighter. The creature jumped away, and then turned to face Gary. Its glowing red eyes bored into his and Gary felt... Something, happening.
"Take the shot," Boss said. Gary's hand trembled, making the crosshairs jump.
"You okay, Johnson?"
"I... I can't. It's my friend."
"Fuck it," Boss snapped. He raised his own rifle and sighted in.
"No!" Gary shouted, grabbing his barrel and yanking his aim off.
"God damnit!" Boss shouted. Chris ran up and grabbed Gary by the shoulders. "What the hell, Gary?" he asked.
"He's my friend," Gary said. "And the other one's Nat, babe!" He looked around, confused. How could they not know this?
The two running figures made it to a wall and climbed over.
"FUCK!" Boss screamed, then he grabbed his radio. "Everybody romeo tango bravo, right fucking now. Split up and get back north. We're fucked." He grabbed Rog, their RTO and spun him around. "Call it in. Mike foxtrot."
"Shit," Chris barked. Gary turned to see Boss bringing a spotting scope up to his eyes. Gary raised his rifle as Boss said "No way they didn't see us."
They were a couple of boys. Just kids. Running away from the men with guns.
"Drop 'em, Johnson," Boss said.
"They're just kids," Gary responded. Boss' hand came down on Gary's shoulder. "I know, brother," he said, his voice soft. "But you know the deal."
Gary sighted down the first one, but his hand began to tremble. The crosshairs jumped around, ruining his shot.
"They're just fucking kids, Boss," he said. The two figured reached a wall and climbed over it. They were gone.
"Shit, what do we do?" Chris asked.
Boss rubbed his face and thought for a second. "Fuck it," he said. "Charlie mike. Most likely, those two were just scared."
They picked back up their course. They made it almost all the way to the high point that was their destination when the first mortars fell.
"Scatter!" Top shouted, grabbing Boss' strap and yanking him away from where he'd been talking to Rog. Gary looked quickly around, spotting Chris and running in the same direction he was.
Another mortar fell behind him with an ear-splitting crunch, followed by a shout of pain that drew itself out into a scream. He spun to see Top laying on the ground, bloody. His right leg was a couple yards away, and the stump was pumping blood in a great big spray.
"Top's down!" Gary said, squeezing the transmit button on his radio.
Another mortar hit and Gary saw Rog cartwheeling through the air. This was bad, they'd dialed in directly on them. Gary froze, unsure of what to do. He looked between the spot where Rog had fallen and the direction where Chris had stopped to wait for him.
"Fuck," Gary muttered. He turned to Chris and ran, but then a mortar fell right on top of the man he loved in secret.
"Noooooo!" Gary screamed.
Chris' shout of "Shit," caught Gary's attention. He turned to see two small figures running away as Boss watched them through a spotting scope.
This was wrong, Gary knew.
"This..." he said. "This already happened."
"What are you talking about, Gary?" Chris asked.
"This already happened," Gary said again. "This isn't real, it's... It's a memory or something."
"What are you talking about?" Chris asked. Gary heard the suppressed crack as Rog took the shot. He looked up to see both figures mounting the wall. Rog had missed.
"Fuck," Boss muttered. "Come on, let's get the fuck out of here."
They made it less than half a mile when the trucks appeared and bullets began to whiz past them. Gary and Chris found cover behind a small shed and the others scattered. Gary leaned around one corner and dropped the man running a truck-mounted PKP before he could light up their cover.
"Shit, they stirred up the whole fucking valley," Gary muttered. He turned to coordinate with Chris, but found him laying on the ground, a neat hole above his left eye.
"Fuck," Gary said, then a hot explosion on the side of his head cut off everything.
"Shit," Chris shouted, causing Gary to spin. Boss already had a spotting scope up, and he was tracking two figures running away from them.
"What the fuck?" Gary muttered.
"Gary, you need to drop them," Boss said.
"This is some kind of trick," Gary said.
"It's not a trick, those two spotted us!" Chris responded. He raised his rifle and sighted in on one of them. Before he could shoot, an indistinct black figure appeared and rushed them.
"What the fuck?" Chris shouted as the blurry figure fell over both boys. A second later, Gary heard the screams.
"What in the hell is that thing?" Boss asked as it rose and began to move towards them.
"Whatever it is, fucking shoot it," Rog said, raising his rifle and firing. Gary, Chris and Boss joined in, followed a second later by Top and the rest. They unloaded full magazines into the thing, but it never even slowed. It hit Boss first, throwing him back like a rag doll with his armor and the flesh beneath it shredded. He crashed into Top and the both of them went tumbling in a tangle of limbs.
Gary swung his rifle butt into the creature, but it passed right through. A clawed hand lashed back out at him, easily carving through the ballistic plate in his armor and sending a spurt of blood arcing out. The blood passed through the creature to splatter Chris in the face.
"Gary!" he shouted. Gary stared at him, his arms no longer responding to his brain's commands to move. The creature spun on Chris and rushed forward. As the blood splashed back through the beast again to drench Gary, a word came to him.
"Bugbear," he muttered. Then he fell over and darkness took him.
Chris shouted "Shit," making Gary turn.
Anger flooded through him. This was bullshit.
"How many fucking times?" he asked. The two figures in the distance were so small...
"What the fuck am I supposed to do?!" he shouted. "I didn't have any fucking choice! If I let them go, we all fucking die!"
Growling deep in his chest, he raised his rifle and quickly sighted down. He recognized Jerry's haircut on the boy, a brown mop atop a face much younger than he remembered, but familiar nonetheless. But it didn't matter. He fired, causing the figure to throw up its hands and fall.
He lined his crosshairs up on the bouncing braids that terminated the cornrows of the other figure and pulled the trigger the instant the crosshairs swept onto them. That figure dropped, as well.
"You fucking happy?!" he shouted, making his teammates wince and stare at him in confusion.
"Is this what you wanted, you blurry little shit?! You want to make me fucking shoot them? To kill two fucking kids?"
Gary spun, searching for the indistinct figure. All he saw was Afghanistan, his team and two small, dead bodies.
"I did it fucking once, you sad excuse for a boogyman!" Gary shouted. He pulled the magazine from his gun and angrily slapped in a new one, stuffing the old one into the empty slot the new one had come from.
"I fucking did it in the real fucking world!" Gary shouted. "You know that, you vicious shit-stain? And I'd do it again, too. I didn't have any goddamn choice, you hear me?"
Chris and the others looked concerned, now. None of them had said a word, but Gary was beyond caring. Gary was furious in a way he hadn't felt in a long, long time.
"GET YOUR ASS OUT HERE, MOTHERFUCKER!" he roared. He glanced at his rifle, which was wrong. This was the rifle he had carried back then, not the one he carried now. He unclipped the sling and threw it down, then reached into hammerspace for his gun. But then he stopped.
Not the gun.
He drew his sword, instead. The moment the blade appeared in his hand, it lit up with an intense heat. The flames weren't even visible, only the shimmering distortion in the air. Gary felt his eyebrows and beard singing, so he called up his energy shield, adjusting it to block heat and claws, instead of bullets.
There was still no sign of the beast. Gary drew his shield out of hammerspace.
"You gonna make me find you, motherfucker?!" he yelled through a sneer of disgust and rage. He got no answer.
"That's it," he muttered. "I'm coming, you motherfucker. Fee Fi Fo Fum, Gary's coming to get him some."
He stomped off in search of the bugbear. Part 4
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2023.06.03 00:01 ralo_ramone An Otherworldly Scholar [LitRPG, Isekai] - Chapter 9
On today’s episode of ‘Things I never thought would happen to me’, two human-snake hybrids with long snouts and colorful scales cried in my arms. Despite the unsettling texture of their scales, I instinctively hugged them in a vain attempt to comfort them. It took me half a minute to process what was happening.
Elincia worked at an orphanage. [Awareness]: Of course she does.
I ignored the System prompt and focused on the kids crying against my chest. Elincia seemed to be too busy dealing with the seven or eight bawling kids at the same time.
“What happened, sweetie?” I asked, trying to sound reassuring.
The snake girl with shining blue and white scales tried to hold back the tears, and she made it for a brief second, but then she wrapped her arms around my neck and burst into tears again. By the way she trembled, I could tell she was scared.
“Hey, hey. It's okay. Elincia is already here. There is nothing to worry about.” I said, softly patting her back.
My words, as I should have expected, caused the kids to cry even harder. This wasn’t my first rodeo with teary small kids, however, it was my first time holding two snake-human hybrids. I wonder what had happened for the kids to be this distressed, a quick inspection told me they weren’t hurt.
The door opened again and a thin elven kid with fair blonde hair and dark circles around his eyes appeared in the doorway. Just as the rest of the orphans, he was dressed with well-worn oversized clothes. The elven kid was older than the rest of the kids but couldn’t be more than twelve or thirteen years old.
I wondered if he was Elincia’s kid but I quickly discarded that theory, there was no trace of human blood in his appearance. The boy seemed to be a pureblood elf.
“What’s happening, Zaon?” Elincia asked over the generalized bawling and I noticed a trembling in her voice, as if she was also about to burst into tears.
The elven kid walked down the flight of stairs and raised his voice to be heard over the generalized bawling.
“M-m-mister Holst left the orphanage f-five days ago. Ilya and I tried to keep things under control but the small ones were nervous without you around. They thought you were going to be gone forever.” Zaon stuttered.
My heart clenched at hearing the kids had been on their own for a whole week. I understood now why the small ones were so scared. Elincia’s angered voice caught my attention.
“Mister Holst did what?!” Elincia exclaimed and the weeping sound of the kids suddenly died, leaving an awkward silence behind.
“Mister Holst had an imp-p-portant Class breakthrough so he left the orphanage to go to the imperial capital. That was five days ago.” Zaon repeated, stuttering the same syllables. “We took care of the cooking and the bedtime of the small ones. I couldn’t get them to shower, I’m sorry.”
My heart shrunk even further.
“You did well, Zaon. Please take the kids inside, I need to talk to Elincia for a moment.” I said, gently putting the snake-children down. “We’ll be joining you in a moment.” I added seeing the kids didn’t let Elincia go.
Zaon nodded and led the way followed by a dozen reluctant small kids who casted anxious glances at Elincia as they entered the manor. After a moment, we were left alone in the front yard.
“I’m going to fucking kill him, that weasel.” Elincia turned around and walked towards the iron gate.
I grabbed her wrist, she tugged but I didn’t let go.
Elincia’s face was red from anger and her knuckles turned white as she clenched her fists. She had done well hiding her anger from the kids. Adult problems should be dealt with by adults.
“I should’ve known something like this was going to happen. I’m so stupid for trusting Holst.” Elincia covered her face with both hands.
“Holst is a Scholar who comes to the orphanage a couple times a week to teach the kids. He had a temper but I thought learning under the guidance of a high level Scholar would help the kids.” Elincia replied. “I was so blind. Of course he didn't care about the kids, he was just cultivating his class!”
I understood the general contempt Elincia showed towards the Scholar class now. Holst sounded like a despicable person.
“The kids are safe and that’s what matters the most.” I said, grabbing Elincia by the shoulders and forcing her to look at me. “You should be proud of yourself, Elincia, your kids faced an emergency and managed to get by. You raised them well.”
Elincia dropped her shoulders and took a deep breath with her eyes closed. When she opened her eyes again, she seemed to have regained her composure.
“You are right… but that doesn’t mean I’m not going to kill Holst if he puts a foot in this orphanage ever again.” She grinned with a wicked smile and I knew she was being serious.
“I’ll lend you my shotgun if you don’t mind cleaning up the aftermath.” I grinned back.
“Gross. I love it.” Elincia laughed, leaving behind the bad feelings and walking to the entrance of the manor. She signaled to follow her. “Welcome to Lowell’s Orphanage. You should call me Miss Elincia while the kids are around.”
I followed her.
The reception room was a spacious area with faded white walls and a tall ceiling, adorned solely with an old couch and a couple of worn out chairs. Square areas of less weathered white paint on the walls showed the places where old paintings had hung long ago. On the opposing wall, a great window overlooked the inner courtyard. I caught a glimpse of a small farm plot, a well, and a small groove.
The whole manor seemed to have seen better days but it felt cozy and welcoming.
“This is our home. And these orphaned children are my family.” Elincia said with a mix of pride and embarrassment. She opened her arms in a gesture that encompassed the entire room.
We left the receiving room behind and Elincia led me to the west wing of the manor into a corridor filled with sunlight. To the right there was the backyard and to the left a row of closed doors. Behind the only open door there was a classroom with rows of small worn-out desks lined up facing a worn-out chalkboard. Over each desk there was an old small wax tablet with their respective styluses.
“That is our schoolroom. It ain’t much but it’s quite handy during cold and rainy days. I try to teach the kids to read and write before they leave the orphanage.” Elincia said as she caught me looking inside.
My brain connected the dots and a sense of sadness got a sudden hold on me.
The Kingdom was at war and those who served as fodder were the least fortunate ones. I wondered how many of Elincia’s orphans ended up in the king’s army fighting in the Farlands to never come back home. But my sadness wasn’t solely aimed at the orphans, Elincia was rowing against a storm in a ship that was sailing to nowhere.
“It looks cozy.” I said.
We turned at the corner and found the harpy girl with the white pillowcase dress slowly walking down the corridor. The wooden floor clacked as she tried to catch up with the rest of the orphans but her talons were too big for her small body, making her steps slow and clumsy. She was more than ten meters behind but seemed unfazed by the matter.
The diminutive harpy saw us walking in her direction and stopped. It was my first time seeing a harpy. Her face was human but a pair of wings covered by golden feathers protruded from her pillowcase dress. She waited patiently for us, blocking the path.
“I haven’t peed myself in five days.” The harpy girl proudly declared, putting her hands on her hips and adopting a defiant pose I had seen in Elincia before.
“Shu, you don’t just…” Elincia looked at me, horrified, and I couldn’t help but let out a small laugh.
I squatted to Shu’s height and smiled. “You were so brave! I’m sure Miss Rosebud is happy to hear that.”
The harpy girl chuckled.
“You used the forbidden word. You are going to get scolded by Miss Elincia.” Shu hid her face beneath a wing. Before I could say anything else, Elincia grabbed her by the armpits and lifted her, interrupting our conversation.
Was ‘Rosebud’ a forbidden word?
“I’m going to prepare something to eat for the kids, you can wait in the classroom. I’m going to send Zaon over with a water basin.” Elincia said before Shu could add any extra outrageous comment.
Elincia and Shu followed the rest of the orphans and I came back to the classroom. Once alone, I punched the wall with full force, provoking a throbbing pain in my hand. My sadness had turned into anger. Holst was lucky to be away from Farcrest, otherwise I would be tempted to use one of my two remaining shells on him. I didn’t have a drop of sympathy for people who abandoned children.
I entertained myself with macabre fantasies until the left door opened again and Zaon entered the room carrying a large water basin.
“Miss Elincia says you can use her study to wash up. Then you can throw the water to the plants under the window.” Zaon said as he walked back to the corridor.
I followed him until we reached a closed door just by the corner of the corridor.
“This is the living quarters. The small kids sleep in the common room. We, the older ones, have our own rooms.” Zaon explained pointing with the head at the doors further down the living quarters. “This is Miss Elincia’s study.”
As I stepped into Elincia’s study, a floral smell filled my nostrils. The air was thick, as if I had walked into a greenhouse and I couldn’t help but take a deep breath, enjoying the fragrance.
The room was immaculately tiddy. A large bookshelf covered one of the walls and a wide writing desk was situated just under the window. A shabby bed was tucked in a corner with a knitted quilt neatly folded at the foot. On the night table there was a flower vase and a small diary. [Awareness]: You have entered the forbidden dungeon: Elincia’s Bedroom.
The prompt made me stop dead in my tracks but no hidden traps were triggered by my presence.
The lack of knives and hunting trophies hanging from the walls made me think this belonged to the Governess and not the adventure junkie I had met in the woods. A sense of serenity emanated from the room and I understood that, for the orphans, this was a place of peace and safety.
Zaon put the water basin in the corner over a dresser and rummaged through the desk’s drawer. He pulled out a pearlescent soap bar, a threadbare towel, and a change of men's clothes from the chest at the foot of the bed. I wondered who the previous owner was.
“Thank you, Zaon.” I thanked the kid as I sat in a small stool by the water basin and washed my hands and forearms. I had a hundred questions to ask him but I didn’t want to entertain him, Elincia probably needed Zaon’s help to deal with the smaller kids.
Zaon nodded and looked at me with curiosity.
“Speak your mind.” I said, realizing I wasn’t going to get privacy until I answered some questions.
Zaon was startled for a moment but he quickly made up his mind.
“C-c-can I? Really? Who are you? Your accent is strange.” He inquired.
“I am Robert Clarke, a Scholar from a faraway land.” I introduced myself, wondering how much information I should disclose to the kids. Or how much information I could get from them. “I met Miss Rosebud in the Farlands and tagged along on the way back here.”
“Are you here to replace Mister Holst… sir?” Zaon got tangled up in his words, unable to figure out the right amount of deference required to address me. I smiled, trying to seem reassuring.
“This is my first time here in Farcrest so I have to meet the Marquis first. I don’t even know if I could stay.” I replied, deciding to tell Zaon the truth. “Miss Rosebud told me about the Imperial Library, so I’m tempted to go to the capital to cultivate my class.”
The kid nodded in awe. For someone from a backwater town like Farcrest, the imperial capital must be a place of wonder and mystery.
“Miss Elincia doesn’t like to be called that.” Zaon pointed out.
“I think it's a charming name.” I shrugged my shoulders thinking it was too much of a cute name for someone as tough as Elincia.
I waited for a moment, expecting a sassy System prompt to slap me on the face but none appeared. Good. The last thing I needed was more titles about my politically incorrect thoughts. Zaon looked around, as if there were spies somewhere between the walls, before continuing talking.
“I think that too, sir. A truly charming elven name.” Zaon muttered full of pride but suddenly he seemed to realize he had overextended his stay. “I’m not taking more of your time, sir.” He politely added as he left the room at a quick pace.
Finding the key inside the hole, I locked the door before taking my shirt off, and started scrubbing my body. The soap was the size of a small stack of coins and it didn’t produce much foam but it was more than enough after all those days trekking through the Farlands. It felt good to be clean once again. My old shirt was ruined after my adventure in the forest so the new one felt nice even if it was a bit oversized and the fabric coarser.
When I was finished, I opened the window and discarded the dirty water on the clump of bushes and flowers that adorned the mansion’s exterior. Then I unlocked the door and returned to the classroom feeling like a new man.
As I was sitting in the classroom, I saw a group of kids spying on me from the corridor’s windows. I acted like I hadn't seen them. Instead, I let them quench their curiosity while I mindlessly drew doodles on a wax tablet. Zaon probably already informed the rest of the orphans about my identity.
“Here you are.” Elincia said with a tired voice as she stood on the doorway. She carried a tray with a wooden bowl filled with steamy soup. “Scared of being alone in a girl’s bedroom?”
I was about to make a snarky remark when I remembered the kids spying on us. Elincia seemed to notice too because she quickly added. “Shall we discuss our deal in my study?”
I followed Elincia into her bedroom and she invited me to sit at the timeworn desk. Then, she handed me a bowl of soup and a piece of old bread. The soup had a few pieces of vegetables floating on the surface similar to carrots and potatoes. I did what any logical person would’ve done. Elincia’s Vegetable Soup. [Identify] Edible. A watery, bland, and unseasoned soup made from various donated ingredients. It’s warm.
Luckily enough, Elincia didn’t realize I was using [Identify] on her soup. I put the spoon in my mouth. The flavor was indeed watery and bland but it was the first warm food I had since I arrived in this world, and it felt great. As I dipped the bread into the soup, Elincia untied her padded jacket, revealing a white blouse and a washed out light blue bodice that adhered to her figure.
I wasn’t completely ready for some Renaissance Fair action but I managed to keep my eyes glued to the bowl of soup. Elincia stretched her back and rotated her shoulders with feline grace before settling on the chair.
“You look good disguised as a governess, I almost bought it.” I said, fighting to keep my eyes away from Elincia’s delicate yet strong shoulders. If I didn’t know better, I would swear Elincia had a twin sister that looked after the orphanage while she explored the Farlands.
Elincia looked around as if there were spies in the walls before replying.
“Fuck off, Robert Clarke.” The woman whispered, rolling her eyes. “And thank you for helping me with the kids. You navigated the situation pretty well.” She added in an almost shy tone.
“Didn’t I say I was a teaching focused Scholar?” I replied with a smug voice.
“Yeah, I remember hearing an excuse like that for your lack of level.” Elincia grinned. “Now, show me the goods, I have a sick kid waiting for a potion.”
I brought my backpack I had left forgotten in the corner and started lining the bundles of herbs and roots over Elincia’s working desk.
“When you told me you had a sick kid I thought you meant your son or daughter.” I pointed out.
“Yeah, no. I already have enough kids around.” Elincia laughed as her eyes greedily pried over my alchemical loot.
I wondered if one of her skills allowed her to measure the herb’s magic concentration. Something like [Identify] but for Alchemists.
“Not to mention I’d need a man for that. A good one for that matter.” Elincia added.
“You don't have an army of volunteers lining up at the orphanage’s doors?” I jokingly asked. With her looks, she could have a fan club following her everywhere back on Earth.
Suddenly, Elincia forgot about the ingredients and locked her eyes with mine.
“Oh? Mister Scholar is interested in my relationship status now?” She gave me the biggest shit-eating grin I had seen in my life. And that was a lot to say considering Elincia’s mischievous personality.
“Dream on.” I quickly replied. Elincia’s big mouth made it difficult to feel bad for her. You have obtained Denial Lv.3. Temporary.
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2023.06.02 21:29 Nruiz43 I lost my best friend and it's all her fault
First off, I've (31m) never posted anything on Reddit before, I've only ever been a phantom browser (or listener for the few of us who listen to Slash
), so if there are formatting errors, or if I've mucked this entire post, forgive me; but that's not what I'm here for so get bent, I'm dying to unload all of this. There's a lot to unpack here, so please bear with, and without further ado:
I'm currently dealing with the loss of my best friend James (27m) who successfully completed suicide a few weeks ago. I'm so unbelievably angry at his loss as he was one of the brightest most intelligent people I've ever known. A person who was too smart for his own good regularly led him down a dark path that I've talked him out of several times in the past. Before we get into the heart of the matter, I'd like to provide some insight to when it all started.
I've known James from our time in the Service together, when we were both assigned to perform military honors for veterans. We met back in 2016, and I'll admit, at first I was standoffish as I am with most new people I meet. After a few weeks we bonded over our disdain for the training regimen and requirements for new Honor Guard(HG) trainees. I wouldn't say we became fast friends, but we deepened our relationship over time with big dreams and even bigger goals. Talking about cars, preferably JDM, guns, technology, games, anime; actually, just everything. This man knew a lot about everything, and we found in eachother kindred spirits. Although he was much better at knowing what the best (in his opinion) of the best was, and what I should focus my efforts or should buy, and I trusted his knowledge. He really was the best.
We maintained a pretty good relationship over the next few years when I left the service in 2018 and moved back home to Ohio and he was left back in Illinois to finish out his service commitment. And during that time, we talked regularly, if not every day, then every other day. With some spotty communication between, we're guys, talking all the time isn't always necessary, and it got to the point of regular check-ins and talks about life and the bullshit going on. Mine being the transition from the military to civilian life, and his, just regular bullshit within the service, and whatever car he was dealing with at the time.
It wasn't until 2019 when things started to unravel, and he decided he wanted to be in a relationship with a woman Brenda (27f) that he'd met at the airport. I'm not sure when he had, but it might've been a few years to a few months prior to the autumn of 2019. The only significance of Brenda was that James had managed to hook up with her AT THE AIRPORT. I dogged on him for being such a smooth talker and having the ability to do that. To my knowledge, it was a one and done thing, but he maintained contact with her, which led to them developing a relationship, and being "official" the autumn of 2019.
After three months, a total of 90 fucking days, this man was smitten. To the point of which he was so torn up about her getting cold feet and breaking up with him. Something I've never seen before from this man who basically had a revolving door with women in the past. I had to talk him off of the figurative ledge because of how much he felt he gave her. Nonetheless, they ended back together, and he moved her into his house to live with him and a long-time roommate Neil (25m). James introduced Neil and I and we've been pretty good friends, but nothing as significant as James and I. Either way we were all pretty close, and both Neil and I advised against staying with Brenda, as she was, as far as we could tell, unbalanced. That was putting it lightly.
This cycle of being together and not being together, and getting angry over petty things, begins to impact the relationship between James and I. To the point where I can't just talk about the bullshit between him and Brenda. So I stopped talking to him for a few months in 2020 and tell him off about how I can't listen to him bitch about his girl anymore.
Either way, we begin talking later on in 2020 and things are friendly as usual, with the exception that we don't really talk too much about Brenda anymore. Which is a nice change of pace. Anyway, from the time I was in the service, my experience translates to driving trucks. So what did I do when I got out? I drove trucks, which sucks, but pays well. So I've always nagged James for what I should do as far as getting out of trucking, and in to computers and IT. I've tried my hand at it in the past when I tried to get my BS in Comp. Sci. in 2019, which I failed miserably.
So back to trucking I went always looking for a way out, as I've got a wife and two sons, it makes it hard to raise a family and be present. So he maintains his relationship with Brenda and keeps it on the backburner for conversations, rarely bringing it up, all the way up into 2022 when he's been out of the service for two years, and has made a name for himself in the IT community. He came out to Ohio in Nov 2022 to buy some big ticket items for his own racing setup. He convinced me (without too much arm pulling) to drive out to St. Louis with him to visit our old digs. During this 6 hour drive we catch up on all the old bullshit and what's going on in his love life. The constant fighting, bickering, and me doing my best to cheer him up and let him know, that outside of what he's failing at in his relationship, he's got a pocket full of spades and is exceptionally successful at every other aspect of his life. I mean, what other person do you know who goes from making less than $40k a year to making over $600k in two years? Nonetheless, we also spent that entire time talking about what he currently does, and he set me on a pathway of learning, specifically books, that he said I should read. After I got back to my daily life, and read them; We talked about them, and he made sure I understood the concepts held within them, and oddly he said he'd get back to me.
This is just the surface stuff, what makes James an outright amazing person, is that he's always looking out for those close to him. He had so much pull at his current company, that he was able to make a special position just for me, as a "loyalty program" to get people to train who otherwise didn't have experience in his career field. The books he had me read were primers to see if I had the aptitude to take on this kind of training. The company signed me on at my current monthly rate (as of Dec. 2022) to come on and train exclusively and meet my commitments by the end of January. From then on, it was daily talks of knowledge this, or what experience you have in that. And daily life in general. I came to find out just how little I knew about how knowledgeable and smart James was, and a new appreciation for our friendship,
Where I was once his mentor in the service, he was now my mentor in the tech world. And he was brilliant. Things that would take a whole team months to do, he was capable of doing within a week. I saw him work magic, and was excited to see how I could graft his knowledge and experience into my own. In March, we had a work requirement to meetup at the work site (because IT is remote, duh) and meet with the team that our company supported. There was a whole fiasco and we got up to some of our old shenanigans, but everything was great with the exception of one thing: her. I hadn't asked the entire trip, and he had mentioned that this was the best he'd felt in years. I just didn't want to ask what the problem was, until the day we left to go back to our respective states. I'd come to find out, that the day before he'd left to come out for our trip, his now wife, had locked him out of the main portion of the house (luckily he has over 5000sq/ft house, so he made do with the "other half" as he called it) and I just listened as he lamented about all the garbage that happened prior to his departure. How he gave up everything; his interests, his desires, just to be around her more. How after everything he's sacrificed, he just wanted it to work. That he'd do anything for her, and all she did was spit in his face and shit all over his effort. This last argument he'd had with her before he'd left was all because of him wanting to go get tacos with some of his local friends. A simple disagreement that turned into a 3-day argument.
So things like this progress and he's talking to all the people he needs advice from. His pastor, his therapist, and they're all telling him to run from this woman. These things I've been telling him for years are all starting to come together, and I feel like I can finally take a breath. From hearing stories of how he's slept under his desk to avoid confrontation with her, how he works endlessly because she won't bother him while he works. I was so excited that divorce was now finally an option for him. Until finally she was moving out, and everything came crashing down.
Friday, May 12, 2023. It was work as usual, and he'd spent a little longer at work, and was talking about going out to play pool with a friend. So I ended up talking to him later that evening asking him how things were going, mostly just because I was bored and wanted someone to talk to. When he replied that he was "big sad" and I asked him what was going on. He told me that he was tricked into going out with his friend by Brenda. That the friend was convinced to ask James out by her, so that she could come by their house and move her things out. Which she had never done before, but was prone to leaving at the drop of a hat and going to her sister's house 1.5 hrs away. I expressed that I was sorry for what he had to go through, as I had also gone through a divorce years prior. That regardless if it was for the best, that it is still a painful process. The last thing he said to me: "Can't be mad about a loss that costs me the wins when I'm the one who made the bet" I replied, "Maybe not, but I can understand the loss still hurts."
That was the last thing I said to him at 0016. I'm so fucking mad, at him, at her, at everything. The entire situation, that I would be out there to help him, I joked about moving my family out there with him in that big ass house. That we'd buy property, hundreds and thousands of acres just to bullshit with, and do "hoodrat things with my friends." I texted him and called him Saturday to check on him, but figured he had a hangover, so I didn't want to bother but let him know that I would call a wellness check on him if I didn't hear back. So I called him a few more times on Sunday, which eventually lead to me calling the wellness check at 1421 on Mother's Day. Two hours later, at 1621 exactly, I get a phone call from a detective asking me questions about James. I thought he was in a snag with the police and was doing 180 on the freeway or something, or pulled some Eminem nonsnense. Did I fail to mention that Brenda claimed to be pregnant, and would use getting an abortion as a way to control James? No? Well it was one of the first things I told the detective after they asked me about him being depressed. I didn't understand why the questions were being asked, but they eventually came to tell me that upon their arrival, he was dead. The world snapped to a startling clarity, and I broke out into a cold sweat. I didn't think it could be possible, and my brain reeled at the rushing reality of it all. The sickening reality of it, that she didn't even care because she had already given up, had pulled her claws out of him. It was done, no new memories, no grand dreams, no future plans to conquer the world. But as we know, this is only just the beginning, the aftermath is where it all hurts more.
So his body had to be transported to his hometown on the other side of the country near the coast, from the OTHER side of the country. 3000 miles just to be put in the ground, all for his parents' sake. Which was nice, and a kind gesture, that Brenda allowed and a relatively beautiful ceremony. We show up the day James shows up, a 10 hour drive with no AC and the windows down. My wife and I both knew and loved James, so we were going to be there no matter what. I meet his dad for the first time, a topic James and I regularly talked about. How his father is the best person he knows, and would do anything for. I can see that now, and James' wife had sent a picture to my wife of one of their conversations, about how I reminded James of his dad. That shit broke my heart, and was hard to see, but I appreciated it. Although I think she reveled in twisting the knife. Anyway, come to find out from his dad, that Brenda allowed him to write the obituary, and as James' dad was finalizing it with his wife and James' sisters, Brenda took it and made changes and deleted the things she didn't like.
James' dad took us all around his hometown, showing us where he went to school, where they lived, and what he liked to do. He also took us out for lunch to a local place James liked. I've never felt so at home while not at home. We even got haircuts at James' dad's favorite barber. I met James' mother and sisters, and found that they share a lot of gestures and nuances that were just uncanny. It was good, although, terrifyingly sad. I'm so fucking glad Neil was there, dude was a rock.
The day of the funeral and memorial We got to say our final goodbyes, and there was a line of James' next of kin. Starting with his mother, and ending with his youngest sister. His wife sat separately and was laughing and joking before people started showing up. She adopted a somber and sorrowful set, when we locked eyes, I saw the poison, vitriol, and hate she had for me, and anyone else who cared about James. Her eyes looked like that of Bellatrix Lestrange. She didn't cry, once. It hurt to see someone James cared about so much, not care one lick at his loss. She didn't plan anything for this funeral, didn't appoint pallbearers, nothing. Fortunately, me, Neil, another roommate James had--Jesse, and some other close relatives of James, we raised him one last time. Everything was executed by his parents and was done wonderfully. At his burial site, he was given military honors, which he and I would joke as being terribly done, but for the masses, was acceptable. For military ceremonies like this, the next of kin gets the flag. And unfortunately, they were still married at the time of death. Which she received and treated like nothing so much as a burden. James' parents knew how vile she was and STILL invited her to attend a remembrance party in Honor of James. To which she ran off and never attended. This, this is still the easiest part of the entire process.
James parents are trying to file an injunction, but Brenda hasn't even filed the proper paperwork to begin the probate process. So there isn't even anything to file an injunction against! They want to be able to handle his estate, but can't. There's nothing to do, no memories to take. We fear that everything will be repossessed, foreclosed, and she will laugh her way to the bank to cash in on James' demise. I wish he'd had a will, or started the divorce process. I wish even more, that he was still here. For anyone out there who thinks you won't be missed, you will. For those who think no one will notice them gone, you will be noticed. I would rather talk to you for hours, than be at your grave. Please, reach out, ask for help, or just to talk. I'm sorry things get tough, but you have love and support here if you need it. I'm sorry I couldn't be more help, or talk you out of it. I love you man. Til Valhalla.
submitted by Nruiz43
to TrueOffMyChest [link] [comments]
2023.06.02 21:04 KKshilling The Cost of Greatness
| || | submitted by KKshilling to buildindia [link] [comments]
What will be the blood sacrifice on your altar of ambition?
I can’t tell you how bad I want it. Some days I wake up aflame. There is electricity crackling down my knuckles, an urgent rhythm pounded into the keys as I type. A river of creation flows out of me as I revel in the act of making. Other days, I mostly eat pretzels. I meander from task to task, completely content with being dead center of the bell curve.
I can’t even tell you what “it” is. Some days I want to be the
tech writer. Matt Levine will tremble. Ben Thompson’s email list will be torn asunder. I will be read and admired and praised. Other days I wake up disgusted by what yesterday’s Evan did.
Why did I write till 1 in the morning rather than spending time with my wife? I want to be great, yes, but I also want to be a great husband and son. There is a reason why lots of creatives struggle with addiction, or why many investors I know are on their third spouse. Money and power never come cheap. The only great I should want is a great life.
Perhaps you have felt similar confusion. You also want to be great. (Hopefully you’re saner than me and want to be great at something other than writing.) But still, you listen to that siren song of more
As life forces priorities to shift, so does your personal definition of what constitutes great. There is a tension; the longer you remain committed to a single cause of greatness, the more incapable you become of being good enough at everything else.
This terrible cost is most obvious in the people who have ascended to the heights of our society. The HBO series Succession
, which recently ended, showed it beautifully—for those unfamiliar, it follows Logan Roy and his four kids as they jockey to inherit the multibillion-dollar media empire Logan created.
(Beware, spoilers ahead.)
For me, the climax of the series is the penultimate episode—the funeral of Logan Roy. There, each of the children wrestle with their grief. The youngest son, Roman, collapses mid-eulogy with remorse. The eldest son, Connor, gets sidelined as he has been his whole life. But Kendall, the heir apparent, gives a speech that, my oh my, did something to me. Kendall was abused, degraded, and humiliated by his father. Logan beat Roman, committed Connor’s mother to an asylum, was misogynistic toward his daughter, Shiv, and was generally an evil, vile man. Despite all that, the company he built was great. In the eulogy he gives, Kendall grapples with his father’s legacy:
“My father was a brute. He was. He was tough. But, also, he built and he acted. And there are many people out there who will always tell you no. And there are a thousand reasons, there always are a thousand reasons to not act. But he was never one of those. He had a vitality,
a force...that could hurt...and it did. But my God, the sheer, the...the... I mean, look at it. The lives, and the livings, and the things that he made…I mean, great geysers of life he willed.
Of buildings he made stand. Of ships, steel hulls. Amusements, newspapers, shows, and films, and life. Bloody, complicated life. He made life happen.
He made me and my three siblings. And yes, he had a terrible force to him. And a fierce ambition that could push you to the side. But it was only that...that human thing. The will to be, and to be seen, and to do.
And now people might want to tend and prune the memory of him to denigrate that force. That magnificent, awful force of him, but my God, I hope it's in me.
” (emphasis added)
From the moment I first watched this speech, I have had the phrase “my God, I hope it’s in me” rattle through me. Despite Logan’s litany of sins, despite the abuse he heaped upon his children, Kendall hoped to inherit his father’s greatness.
A similar speech will be given at the eventual funerals of our current ruling elites. At Bill Gates' service they will not mention the Jeffrey Epstein connections, only the work his charity did. Mark Zuckerberg’s service will be attended by men festooned with medals, but there will be little mention of his partial responsibility for the genocide in Myanmar
. Murdoch, Musk, Jobs—all of these powerful and great people who reshape our world. Maybe these individuals' greatness outweighs their personal complications, but still, they did not ascend without significant costs.
In my own life, my father was an inverse Logan. He was steadily climbing at Fortune 150 corporations, but after missing one too many of my baseball games, he left. He spent the rest of his career taking good, secure jobs that let him be home in time for dinner. He is and was an incredible dad, but he never ascended to the greatness that was promised in his former career. To him, that trade-off was worth it. Being a great family man is what mattered.
On a recent fishing trip to the Florida Everglades, as we drifted among the gnarled groves of mangrove trees, I asked my dad what his biggest career regret was. His answer surprised me: “I wish I had started my own company.” He always felt like he had the ability to follow in the family tradition (my grandfather was a 4th-grade dropout who built his own business) but never did. He sacrificed that ambition so he could provide a good, consistent life for me and my mom. I love him for his willingness to be a great dad.
My God, I hope that desire is in me. When the time comes for me to choose, I pray I’m able to pick my family like my father did. I hope I do not walk the path of Logan.
But I am afraid I will. I am afraid because in both Kendall and my dad I find inspiration. Despite all the evidence I’ve seen in my own life, I still somehow delude myself that I can have it all.
There is even more to be afraid of. There is a fear that committing myself to the cause of greatness, to being all that I think I can be, will turn me into something I now dislike. Because greatness is so malleable, I worry that “being great” eventually destroys who I am.
In the world of content, the pursuit of greatness manifests as those folks who prostitute themselves to traffic, who helplessly careen from trend to trend, desperate in their desire for virality. In startups, the same can be said of those who shift from Web3 to AI to bootstrapping to whatever will be trendy in a month.
Greatness is not measurable. It is not quantifiable. I’m not even sure it is definable. But still we desire it. Be aware, it is a devourer resting within us. What we choose to feed it determines what kind of great we will be.
2023.06.02 16:56 SabbyOfSableWine Space pirates make the grave mistake of attacking a human's loved one. They very quickly learn what happens when a human is angry and full of adrenaline
This is part of my little series about the adventures of Vr'ocria and Human Aldrick. If you'd like to read previous parts, they're linked below, along with brief summaries of each: Part One: Alien learns what "sleep" is and how humans prefer to do it in a comfy bed with blankets and pillows. And they find it utterly adorable. Vr'ocria and Human Aldrick are sent on a survey mission together. Things go south, Aldrick makes sure they're safe, and then Vr'ocria learns what human sleep is and how vulnerable humans are when they sleep. Vr'ocria's people don't sleep, but enter stasis, a form of rest in which they typically stand, and they are still slightly aware of their surroundings. Vr'ocria finds human sleep utterly adorable, and also decides she will protect Aldrick while he sleeps. And she also develops a massive crush on him. (Her scales turning purple is her version of blushing) Part Two: An alien + human adventure with such shenanigans as poison drinking, befriending dangerous wildlife, and fighting a space pirate. Oh, and they have a huge crush on each other. Vr'ocria and Human Aldrick end up assigned together for another survey mission. Vr'ocria tries to deny her feelings for Aldrick after a tense conversation with her nestmate about the danger of humans, but when they're ambushed in the night by a pirate and Aldrick takes a blow to save her, becoming injured in the process, she comes to realize just how strongly she feels for him. She kills the pirate, carries Aldrick to safety, and the two share a tender moment. Part Three: When a cold-blooded alien has to cuddle a warm-blooded human for warmth Vr'ocria and Human Aldrick are assigned to an ice plant for their next mission. Aldrick chews out Command for assigning Vr'ocria there when they know she's cold-blooded and not built for the cold, and when the power goes out, they cuddle to keep her from freezing. They finally confess their feelings for one another, and Vr'ocria learns what kissing is. Part Four: A human leaves a hickey on his alien lover. Her nestmate doesn't understand what a hickey is, and thinks the human injured her Vr'ocria enjoys neck kisses, and asks Aldrick to indulge her. Later, she has a video call with her nestmate Galek. Galek is already wary of humans, and when he sees a bruise on her throat that she didn't notice, he figures out Aldrick is responsible and freaks out, thinking Aldrick intentionally hurt her. Vr'ocria dresses Galek down, explaining that it's not an injury, and also that he needs to get over it and respect her relationship with Aldrick. Now for the new story! TW: There will be blood and broken bones.
"I have a bad feeling about this."
Vr'ocria turned to Human Aldrick in the pilot seat next to her. He was drumming his fingers on the console, brow furrowed, as he watched the Xenthum solar system approach.
"What do you mean?" She asked.
"I dunno. I just–" he bit the inside of his cheek. "You ever just get an ick
feeling about something?"
Vr'ocria frowned. "No. Can you explain it?"
He scratched the back of his neck. "It's hard to explain. Like, there's nothing wrong
that I can tell about this mission, but ever since we got within visual range, I've had this gut feeling that we need to turn back."
Vr'ocria wasn't sure she understood, but she didn't like seeing him uncomfortable. "Well, we're here on orders–"
"I know, I know, I don't want to get us in trouble, I'm already on thin ice after yelling at Lieutenant Prax–"
"–but the minute anything starts to go wrong, no matter how small, we can turn around."
He glanced over at her. "Thanks," he said with a grateful smile.
They had entered the Xenthum system now. Its main planet was sparsely populated, used mostly as a trading outpost since it was so close to the Dridian border. The trick was navigating through the minefield of asteroid clusters. Aldrick let Vr'ocria take the lead piloting, since of the two of them, she was more skilled at delicate maneuvers.
They were almost to the planet when an alert pinged. Aldrick sat up to check the sensors.
"There's a ship nearby," he reported. "A big
"Where?" Vr'ocria pulled up the sensor on her screen. "I don't see anything. Just asteroids."
"Turn on the warp detector and increase the ion frequency."
Vr'ocria pressed a few controls. "Oh wow, you weren't kidding." She frowned. "It's way
too big to be in the middle of an asteroid field. What are they doing?"
"I don't know, but I don't like it." She could feel the tension radiating from him.
"You want to get out of here?" she asked.
He chewed his lip. "Y'know what? Yeah. Let's at least take an alternate route, we can–"
But before he could finish, there was a loud BANG
and they were sent flying from their seats as the shuttle rattled.
"What the fuck?"
Aldrick yelled as he scrambled to his feet, lunging for the console. "Did we scrape an asteroid?"
Vr'ocria crawled back into her seat as well and banged out a few commands on her screen. Her blood froze.
"No," she said in a low voice. "It was phaser fire."
They'd been so focused on the massive ship that they'd missed the tiny shuttle creeping up from below them. BANG.
The screens flickered and glitched.
Aldrick cursed. "We've lost shields!"
There was another hit, then another, and another. Sparks were flying now, and the sensors were screaming as the shuttle's operating systems started failing.
Vr'ocria was tossed against the wall in one particularly brutal crash, and the last thing she saw was a broken panel flying right towards her face.
Especially her nose. The tang of blood clung to the back of her throat.
There were muffled voices somewhere nearby, and the sound of metal scraping. When she tried to move, she abruptly registered something cold and hard encircling her wrists.
"She's waking up."
Vr'ocria coughed, blood splattering from her lips. Moaning in pain, she managed to lift her head and crack her eyes open.
The scraping sound was the heels of her boots sliding across metal grate flooring as she was dragged by her wrists. She craned her head back, pain shooting through her neck, and realized that her wrists were clapped in rusty manacles. A massive blue hand fisted the rust red chains that suspended her arms over her head.
"Wha' th'fmm–" she slurred. Her brain felt like sludge.
Suddenly she was yanked even higher into the air, her toes just brushing the floor. A shock of cold assaulted her and she yelped, flinching as water dripped down her face.
"You awake now?"
A man was standing in front of her, tossing aside a now-empty bucket. There were several people, actually. All different species, all looking very pleased, and all wearing distinctive black Norvidian armbands. Pirates.
A hand cracked across her cheek, sending more blood flying. She bit back a cry as the shockwave laced through her broken nose. "Fuck you," she spat instead.
The man chuckled. He was tall, muscles bulging through his coat, and his skin was blue. He must've been the one dragging her. "Picking up human words, I see."
Vr'ocria's blood turned to ice. "What have you done with him?" She demanded in a low voice.
His grin only widened. His teeth were crooked and rotting. "I'll be asking the questions here."
Her scales burned a bright and hot yellow and snapped as they turned on end. But before she could respond, his hand lashed out and grabbed her throat–not enough to choke her just yet, but enough to make her freeze.
"You're the lizard bitch from Theta-7, yes?" The grin was gone now, replaced by a withering glare.
Understanding dawned on Vr'ocria. Blast. Oh, blast.
He saw the realization in her eyes and slowly released her throat. "You are."
"What's it to you?" She snapped.
He sneered. "You killed one of my men."
"He attacked us first!"
Stars burst behind her eyes as the air was forced from her lungs, and it took her a moment to realize that he had punched her in the gut. All she could do was cough and gasp, trying to regain her bearings through the pain as he turned away from her and towards the others standing around. He raised his arms.
"We are Norvids!"
He boomed, and the others whooped in agreement. "We stand together! We protect our own!"
Vr'ocria tuned him out as he kept proselytizing, using the opportunity to look around the room. It was massive and almost all metal with towering walls. Crane chains hung from the ceiling, and crates and barrels of different sizes were scattered about, everything dusty, rusty, and old. A storage room. An old cargo ship?
She wondered. That would explain why it was so big.
She ran a quick headcount of everyone she could see. Seventeen.
But where was Aldrick?
Vr'ocria felt sick. You better be okay…you
have to…please be okay…
The man–the captain, she guessed–finally turned back to her. He drew a dagger from a sheath strapped to his arm, and her eyes went wide.
"A life for a life," he growled, stalking towards her.
But before he'd made it even two steps, a voice rang out through the cargo bay.
"Don't you fucking
It was enough to stop the captain in his tracks.
Footsteps sounded from behind her, and Vr'ocria tried in vain to twist her body around.
But she didn't have to. The man approaching from behind came forward and stepped in between her and the captain, and she didn't have to see his face to know who it was.
"Aldrick," she nearly whimpered.
The caption sneered. "Well well, a little escape artist, are we?"
Aldrick was silent.
Even the captain, who was twice Aldrick's size, seemed to waver. Vr'ocria wasn't sure she wanted to know what he saw on Aldrick's face.
Finally, Aldrick spoke. "Any of you touch her, and you will die." His voice was so cold it pierced her to the bone. She could see his clenched fists trembling at his sides. He's not even armed!
The captain began to laugh, his voice echoing around the bay. The others laughed with him.
"And who's gonna stop us?" He demanded. "You? Little human, you don't know who you're messing with." He dashed forward, raising the blade, ready to strike.
"Aldrick!" Vr'ocria screamed.
But Aldrick dodged as easily as water flows through a river, ducking under the dagger and going for the captain's legs. He barreled his full weight against his hips, and with a shout, the giant fell, the dagger clattering from his grasp. Quick as a whip, Aldrick snatched it up–and drove it directly into the captain's throat.
Vr'ocria couldn't help but watch in horror as green blood frothed forth, spraying all over Aldrick. The captain's eyes were wide, and he choked and spasmed as his life drained out onto the dirty floor.
By now, the others were surging forward, shouting, screaming, and brandishing their own weapons.
"NO!" Vr'ocria screamed as they converged on him. She kicked and yanked uselessly at her chains, desperate to help, to do anything.
The manacles bit painfully into her scales, some of them even popping off onto the floor, leaving beads of blood welling up in their wake. But the manacles did not yield.
When she looked back, she was terrified she'd see Aldrick lying dead on the floor.
But he wasn't.
In fact, there were three pirates–no, make that four now–sprawled lifelessly instead. Aldrick was a whirlwind of limbs and gnashing teeth–he ducked and dodged, spat and kicked, slashing at knees and elbows, slowly incapacitating or discombobulating each one until he was able to sink the dagger into throats, chests, between ribs–bodies were dropping--he was covered in blood now, eyes wild–
"BEHIND YOU!" Vr'ocria screamed.
Aldrick turned just a second too late, and a woman covered in dark fur landed a kick directly to his chest. He hit the floor, the dagger flying from his grasp. The woman pounced, her hands wrapping around his throat. His legs thrashed as he clutched at her hands, and he was just
able to roll them over until he was on top. From there, he simply started punching, and punching, blood spraying his face with each hit.
A large man behind him had stumbled back to his feet. He lunged forward and yanked Aldrick up by the back of his shirt, throwing him bodily into the air, where he crashed against a metal crate.
He hit the ground and didn't move.
Vr'ocria was screaming. She didn't know if she was saying words anymore, but she was screaming, and blood was streaming down her arms now from how hard she was pulling against the manacles. All she could do was watch as the final three pirates approached her mate where he lay lifeless on the floor.
They stopped before they were in arms length, looking between each other. She couldn't hear what they were saying, but one of them finally edged forward and poked Aldrick's side with her toe.
Vr'ocria wanted to rip their entrails out with her bare hands.
He still didn't move. Seeming satisfied, they moved forward, and one bent to grab him.
All at once, her human surged back to life. The man closest to him hit the ground as Aldrick swung his legs around, sweeping the man's feet out from under him. Once he was down, Aldrick bashed a crane hook–one he must've picked up from the floor–into the man's skull so hard that it caved in with one blow. Still lying on the floor, Aldrick used his vantage point to kick the woman's knee backwards, and she collapsed with an agonized scream. One more strike with the hook, and she was silenced.
That left just one. The final pirate appeared to be reptilian like her, although he had large spines stretching across his head and shoulders. This one didn't try to rush Aldrick. Instead, he kept his distance, watching warily as Aldrick climbed to his feet.
"So it's true," the spined pirate said, "what they say about humans."
Aldrick returned a deadly stare. "And what's that?" His voice almost didn't even sound like his anymore.
"You're monsters. Demons. Scourge of the universe."
Aldrick grinned, but it looked more like a feral animal baring its teeth. "That's me."
The pirate's spines flexed. "You could join us," he said. "Join the Norvids. We'll find another crew, you can be captain."
They were circling now, Aldrick crouched like a predator ready to strike, the pirate shuffling back with his hands held out.
"You could be rich!"
Aldrick picked up a rusty chain from a barrel as he passed by.
"Think of the power you would wield!" The pirate cried desperately.
Aldrick still said nothing. He forced him back, and back, until the pirate realized, too late, that he was cornered between two crates. His back hit the wall and he slid down, cowering, as Aldrick loomed over him.
Vr'ocria could barely hear because of the distance, but the metal room carried Aldrick's low hiss as he bent down to the trembling pirate: "You hurt my mate.
Now, you die."
The rusty chain crackled as Aldrick wrapped it around the pirate's neck in one fell swoop. He pulled the loop tight and the pirate clutched at the noose, his eyes and forked tongue bulging out. Then, with one swift and hard yank,
an audible splinter-snap
filled the room–and the pirate was dead before he hit the floor, his neck bent at an unnatural angle.
Aldrick dropped him in disgust. His back was turned, but Vr'ocria could still see his chest heaving.
He turned and met Vr'ocria's eyes, and the demented expression drained from his face. He stepped towards her, slowly at first, and then broke into a sprint.
It seemed like he wanted to throw his arms around her, but he came to a sudden halt before he could touch her, instead raising his shaking hands to her face. "Vr'ocria, 'ria, my Ria, I'm so sorry–" his voice broke and his eyes welled with tears that quickly spilled over and began running down his face, carving tracks into the grime and blood spatter.
"Aldrick," she whispered, drinking him in. He's alive.
"Hold on, hold on, I'll get you out of these cuffs, fuck–" he turned to the dead captain on the floor and rifled through his pockets until he produced a key.
He returned and had to stand on his tiptoes to reach the manacles, and with a scrape and groan of metal, the manacles cracked loose.
Vr'ocria collapsed onto Aldrick, her legs too weak to hold her up. Her arms fell over his shoulders, and he caught her around the waist. Together they sank to the floor until they were both on their knees, clutching at one another as if they would disappear.
Aldrick buried his face in her neck, shaking with silent sobs. Vr'ocria tangled her hands in his bloody hair, not caring about the mess. Her people couldn't weep like humans did, but she might as well have with the way her chest heaved with stuttering breaths, her scales burning bright red.
Aldrick clutched her tight enough to hurt, but she didn't care. "Ria, my Ria, my love," he gasped like a mantra.
She finally took his face in her hands and pulled him back, forcing him to look at her. "Are you alright?" She implored. "Are you hurt?"
He let out a half-laugh, half-sob. "You're asking me?"
She used her thumbs to wipe away some of the grime on his face. "You took on all of those people by yourself," she croaked. "And the way he threw you–planets, I thought you were dead."
His hands slid up her back to clutch her shoulders. "I'm alright," he assured her. "Bumps and bruises is all. But you–" he looked her up and down, rage rekindling in his eyes. "Son of a bitch,
what they did to you–"
She shook her head. "They're dead now," she said firmly. "It's over and done." She leaned forward to squeeze him again, resting her head on his shoulder. "Let's just go home."
"Don't have to tell me twice." Aldrick rose, pulling her up with him. Her legs were still too unsteady to walk, so instead, he slid one hand under her knees and swept her up into his arms. She settled against his chest as he carried her out of the cargo bay.
"Should we be worried about any other crew members?" She asked, casting her eyes around the barren corridor.
Aldrick shook his head as he walked. He seemed to know where he was going. "It was just them."
"How do you know? And what happened to you, by the way?"
His arms tightened around her. "After you got knocked out, they locked a tractor beam onto the shuttle and pulled us inside."
They came to a fork in the corridor, and he turned left. "I thought they were just raiding for scrap metal and Union tech, but when they boarded the shuttle, they went straight for you. I–" his voice cracked. "I tried to protect you, but there were so many of them and I was so caught off guard..."
Vr'ocria stroked the nape of his neck with her thumb. "It's okay, it's not your fault."
Aldrick swallowed before continuing. "They took you away and locked me in an old storage container. Thankfully the hinges were on the inside, so I just popped the pins out once they were gone. I was able to access the ship's computer and scan the whole ship, because the idiots didn't know how to encrypt anything. All brawn and no brains, I guess. That's also how I was able to figure out where they kept their own shuttles, since ours is pretty busted."
"Is that where we're going?"
He nodded. "Anyway, I used the scanner to find your location, and then I just crawled through the air ducts so I could get inside without them knowing." He stopped. "We're here."
They'd arrived at a loading door with a rusty label that read "SHUTTLE BAY."
Twenty minutes later found them back out in open space in the least-old shuttle they could find. The engine puttered every few minutes, but with any luck, they'd reach their ship in an hour or so.
Vr'ocria had regained her bearings, and she was rummaging around the storage box at the back of the cabin. She finally found an old "in case of emergency" kit, but frustratingly, all the first aid supplies had been picked clean. She did, however, find an unopened package of wet wipes.
Vr'ocria took the wipes back to the front of the cabin. Ripping the package open, she knelt by Aldrick where he sat in the pilot seat.
"What're you doing?"
"Hold still," she murmured. She raised a wipe to his face, and began gently cleaning the blood off. His eyes became soft as she tended to him, throwing the dirty wipes aside one by one while she worked her way down his face and neck.
When she was done, he took her hand before she could get up. He reached for the package as well, and began wiping the blood from her arms, taking care around the nasty scrapes that marred her wrists. "We need to get these bandaged up."
"It's okay. They're not bleeding anymore, we have time."
Aldrick placed a hand on her cheek. "I love you so much," he whispered. "And I'm glad you're okay."
Vr'ocria leaned into his hand, closing her eyes. "I love you too." Turns out it's REALLY hard to write fight scenes lol. I can see it happening in my head, but getting it down on paper is another story. I had fun though! And I hope I did it justice.
Thank you for reading!
submitted by SabbyOfSableWine
to humansarespaceorcs [link] [comments]
2023.06.02 15:48 flippenphil (Offer) Dr. Seuss 5 film collection (Request) The Menu, Amsterdam, Babylon
UPDATE: WB killed the Dr. SEUSS code some time in the past 3 weeks
MA = Movies Anywhere
GP = Googleplay
[?] = unknown definition
= pending trade
If a title is no longer listed = It has been traded COMBO Films
- 2film: My Girl 1 & 2 SD =MA
- 3film: Mall Cop / Zookeeper / Boom SD =MA
- 3film: Night at the Museum: Trilogy SD =MA
- 3film: The Other Guys, Step Brothers, Talladega Nights SD =MA
- 4film: The Magnificent Seven Collection HD Vudu
- 6film: Joe Dirt, Benchwarmers, House Bunny, The Animal, Deuce Bigalow, Master Of Disguise SD =MA
TV Series Marked
- SONY BUFF PASSES (Current) - 2
- Universal Rewards (Current) - 3
- 10 Clover Field Lane HD Vudu only
- 12 Rounds 2 Reload HD =MA
- 101 Dalmations HD =MA
- 101 Dalmations (Googleplay) HD =MA
- 127 Hours (iTunes Redeem) SD =MA
- 1917 HD =MA
- 2 Guns (iTunes Redeem) HD =MA
- 2 Guns HD =MA
- 21st Jump Street HD =MA
- 21st Jump Street SD =MA
- 22nd Jump Street SD =MA
- 3 From Hell 4K (Vudu Or iTunes)
- 40 Year Old Virgin HD =MA
- 47 Ronin HD =MA (MA Redeem, Vudu Kills Code)
- 47 Ronin =MA 4K (iTunes Portion)
- the 5th Wave SD =MA
- A Beautiful Day In The Neighborhood HD =MA
- A Dogs Way Home HD =MA
- A Good Day To Die Hard HD = MA
- A Good Day To Die Hard (iTunes redeem) SD = MA
- A Haunted House (iTunes Redeem) HD =MA
- A Madea Christmas HD Vudu
- A Madea Family Funeral HD (Vudu / iTunes OR GP)
- A Million Ways To Die In The West [unrated] (iTunes Redeem) HD =MA
- A Monster's Call HD =MA
- A Monster's Call (iTunes Redeem) HD =MA
- the A-Team (iTunes Redeem) SD =MA
- A Thousand Words SD Vudu
- A Quiet Place HD Vudu Or iTunes 4K
- A Walk Among Tombstones (iTunes Redeem) HD =MA
- About Last Night HD =MA
- Admission (redeems In iTunes) HD =MA
- the Adventures Of Tintin SD (Vudu Or iTunes)
- After Earth SD =MA
- the Age Of Adaline HD Vudu
- Alex Cross HD Vudu
- Alpha and Omega 3: Great Wolf Games HD Vudu
- Alice Through The Looking Glass HD =MA
- Alien Covenant HD (4K If iTunes Redeem) =MA
- All the Devil's Men HD Vudu or iTunes
- Alpha SD =MA
- Alvin And The Chipmunks: Chip Wrecked (iTunes Redeem) SD =MA
- Alvin And The Chipmunks: The Road Chip HD (4K If iTunes Redeem) =MA
- the Amazing Spiderman HD =MA
- the Amazing Spiderman SD =MA
- the Amazing Spiderman 2 HD =MA
- the Amazing Spiderman 2 SD =MA
- Amelia (iTunes Redeem) SD =MA
- American Assassin HD Vudu/GP/iTunes
- American Made HD =MA
- American Girl: Mckenna Shoots For The Stars HD =MA
- American Hustle HD =MA
- American Hustle SD =MA
- American Reunion UR HD =MA
- Anchorman 2 HD (Vudu Or iTunes)
- And So It Goes HD =MA
- the Angry Birds Movie HD =MA
- Annie (2014) HD =MA
- Annie (2014) SD =MA
- Annihilation HD (Vudu Or iTunes) Split
- the Art of Self Defense HD =MA
- Arrival HD Vudu or iTunes 4K
- Arthur (iTunes redeem) SD =MA
- Arthur Christmas SD =MA
- Assassin's Creed HD (4K If iTunes Redeem)=MA
- Atomic Blonde HD =MA
- Atomic Blonde (iTunes Portion) 4K =MA
- August Osage County HD Vudu
- Avengers: End Game HD (googleplay) =MA
- Avengers: Infinity War (googleplay) HD =MA
- Babylon A.D. (iTunes Redeem) SD =MA
- Bad Boys For Life HD =MA
- Bad Boys For Life SD =MA
- Bad Grandpa HD Vudu Or iTunes (split)
- Bad Moms (iTunes) HD =MA
- Bad Moms HD =MA
- Bad Words (iTunes Redeem) HD =MA
- the Bank Job HD Vudu
- Barbie & Her Sisters In A Puppy Chase HD =MA
- Battle Of The Year HD =MA
- Battleship 4K =MA (iTunes Portion)
- Battleship HD =MA
- Baywatch (Vudu-HD Or iTunes-4K)
- Beethoven Treasure Tail (iTunes Portion) HD =MA
- Beethoven Treasure Tail HD =MA
- Begin Again HD Vudu
- Beirut HD =MA
- the Best Man Holiday HD =MA
- the Best Man Holiday (iTunes Redeem) HD =MA
- Big Miracle (iTunes Redeem) HD =MA
- the Big Short HD Vudu Or iTunes (split)
- the Big Wedding HD Vudu Or iTunes
- the Big Wedding SD Vudu
- the Big Year (iTunes Redeem) SD =MA
- Black Nativity [Extended] HD =MA
- Black Swan (iTunes Redeem) SD =MA
- Blackhat HD =MA (iTunes Portion)
- Blockers HD =MA
- Bloodshot SD =MA
- Blue Jasmine HD =MA
- Boo! A Madea Halloween HD V/I/GP
- the Book Of Life HD =MA
- Boss Baby HD =MA
- the Bourne: Identity HD =MA
- the Bourne: Identity (iTunes Redeem) 4K =MA
- the Bourne: Legacy HD =MA
- the Bourne: Legacy (iTunes Redeem) 4K =MA
- the Bourne: Supremacy HD =MA
- the Bourne: Supremacy (iTunes Redeem) 4K =MA
- the Boy [unrated] HD =MA
- the Boy [unrated] HD =MA (iTunes portion)
- the Boy Next Door HD Vudu Or iTunes (split)
- Boyhood HD Vudu Or iTunes (split)
- Braven HD Vudu or GP
- Brian Banks HD =MA
- Bride Wars (iTunes Redeem) SD =MA
- Brides Maids (iTunes Redeem) HD =MA
- Bridge Of Spies HD =MA
- Bring It On: Cheersmack HD =MA
- Bring It On: Cheersmack (iTunes Redeem) HD =MA
- Broken City HD Vudu
- the Butler HD Vudu
- the Bye Bye Man HD =MA (iTunes Portion)
- the Cabin In The Woods SD Vudu Or iTunes (split)
- the Cabin In The Woods HD Vudu Or GP
- the Call SD =MA
- the Call HD =MA
- the Call Of The Wild (googleplay) HD =MA
- the Call Of The Wild HD =MA
- Captain Phillips HD =MA
- Captain Phillips SD =MA
- Captain Under Pants: The First Epic Movie HD =MA
- Carrie  (Vudu or GP) HD
- the Case For Christ (iTunes Redeem) HD =MA
- the Case For Christ HD =MA
- Casino Royale HD V/GP
- Cedar Rapids (iTunes Redeem) SD =MA
- the Change Up (iTunes Redeem) HD =MA
- the Change Up Unrated (iTunes Redeem) HD =MA
- Chappie SD =MA
- Chasing Mavericks  HD =MA
- the Choice HD (iTunes, Vudu Or GP)
- the Choice HD (Vudu Only)
- Chronicle HD =MA
- Chronicle (iTunes Redeem) SD =MA
- the Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage Of The Dawn Treader (iTunes Redeem) SD =MA
- Chronicles Of Riddick [unrated] (iTunes Redeem) HD =MA
- Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs 2 SD =MA
- Coal Miner's Daughter HD = MA
- Coal Miner's Daughter HD = MA (iTunes portion)
- the Commuter HD V/i/GP
- Concussion (will Smitch) HD =MA
- Concussion (will Smitch) SD =MA
- the Condemned 2 HD Vudu
- Contraband (iTunes Redeem) HD =MA
- the Counselor HD =MA
- Countdown [wwe films] HD Vudu
- Cowboys And Aliens (iTunes Redeem) HD =MA
- the Croods (iTunes Redeem) SD =MA
- Cruella HD =MA
- Cruella (Googleplay) HD =MA
- Cult Of Chucky [unrated] HD =MA
- Cult Of Chucky [unrated] HD =MA (iTunes Redeem)
- Curse Chucky (iTunes Redeem) HD =MA
- Curse Of Chucky HD =MA
- Daddy's Home HD Vudu / 4K iTunes (split)
- Dallas Buyers Club HD (iTunes Redeem) =MA
- Danny Collins HD (iTunes Redeem) =MA
- Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes HD (4K If iTunes Redeemed) =MA
- the Day The Earth Stood Still (iTunes Redeem) SD =MA
- Dead In Tombstone [unrated] HD =MA
- Dead Man Down SD =MA
- Deadpool HD (4K If iTunes Redeemed) =MA
- Deadpool 2 [super dooper cut] HD =MA
- the Descendants (iTunes Redeem) SD =MA
- Deliver Us From Evil SD =MA
- Despicable Me (iTunes Redeem) SD =MA
- Despicable Me 2 (4K iTunes) =MA
- Despicable Me 2 HD =MA
- the Devil Inside SD Vudu
- Devils Due HD =MA
- Diary Of A Wimpy Kid (iTunes Redeem) SD =MA
- the Dictator SD Vudu
- Die Hard: A Good Day To Die (iTunes Redeem) SD =MA
- the Dilemma HD =MA
- Dirty Dancing SD Vudu
- Dirty Grandpa SD Vudu
- Disney Nature: Monkey Kingdom HD =MA
- Disney Shorts Collection (googleplay) HD =MA
- Disney Shorts Collection HD =MA
- Divergent HD Vudu
- Divergent [4k Itunes] or [GP-HD]
- Divergent Series: Allegiant HD Vudu
- Divergent Series: Allegiant SD Vudu
- Divergent Series: Insurgent HD Vudu/GP (iTunes Split)
- Divergent Series: Insurgent SD Vudu
- Django Unchained HD Vudu
- Dom Hemingway HD =MA
- Downsizing HD Vudu & iTunes 4K
- Downton Abbey The Movie HD =MA
- Dracula Untold (iTunes Redeem) 4K =MA
- Dracula Untold HD =MA
- Draft Day HD Vudu/iTunes Split
- Draft Day SD Vudu
- Dragon Heart 3 (iTunes Redeem) HD =MA
- Dragon Heart 3 HD =MA
- Dredd HD Vudu Or iTunes (split)
- Dredd 4K (Vudu Or iTunes) Or GP-HD
- Drive (2011) HD MA
- the Duel SD Vudu
- the Duff HD Vudu
- Dumb And Dumber To (iTunes Redeem) HD =MA
- Dying Of The Light HD Vudu
- E.T. (iTunes Redeem) SD =MA (from bluray)
- E.T. HD =MA
- E.T. SD =MA
- Escape Plan HD Vudu
- Edward Scissorhands HD =MA
- Elysium SD =MA
- the Emoji Movie HD =MA
- Empire State HD Vudu
- End Of Watch (iTunes Redeem) HD =MA
- Ender's Game 4K Vudu/iTunes Split
- Ender's Game HD Vudu/iTunes/GP
- Enough Said HD =MA
- Epic (iTunes Redeem) SD =MA
- Epic HD =MA
- Escape Plan HD Vudu
- the Equalizer HD =MA
- the Equalizer SD =MA
- Ex Machina HD Vudu
- Exodus: Gods And Kings HD (4K If iTunes Redeemed) =MA
- the Expendables 2 HD Vudu/iTunes/GP
- the Expendables 3 4K Vudu
- the Expendables 3 [unrated] HD
- the Expendables 3 HD Vudu Or iTunes (split)
- Extraction HD Vudu
- Fast & Furious 1 (iTunes Redeem) HD =MA
- Fast & Furious 1 HD =MA
- Fast & Furious 2 (4K iTunes) =MA
- Fast & Furious 3 HD =MA
- Fast & Furious 4 HD =MA
- Fast & Furious 4 (iTunes Redeem) SD =MA
- Fast & Furious 5 Extended (iTunes Redeem) HD =MA
- Fast & Furious 5 Extended HD =MA
- Fast & Furious 6 Extended (4K iTunes) =MA
- Fast & Furious 6 Extended HD =MA
- Fast & Furious 7 Extended HD =MA
- Fast & Furious 7 Extended (4K iTunes) =MA
- Fast Furious 8 Extended 4K =MA
- Fast Furious 8 Extended HD =MA
- Fast Furious 8 Theatrical 4K =MA
- Fast Furious 8 Theatrical HD =MA
- the Fault In Our Stars HD (4K If iTunes Redeem) =MA
- the Fault In Our Stars HD =MA (no Upgrade)
- the Favourite HD =MA
- Fences HD VUDU or iTunes 4K (split)
- Fifty Shades Darker [unrated] (iTunes) HD =MA
- Fifty Shades Darker [unrated] HD =MA
- Fifty Shades Of Grey [unrated] HD =MA
- Fifty Shades Of Grey [standard] 4K (iTunes Redeem) =MA
- the Fighter HD =MA
- Finding Dory (googleplay) HD =MA
- Finding Dory HD (4K If iTunes Redeem) =MA
- Finding Nemo (googleplay) HD =MA
- the Finest Hour HD =MA
- the Finest Hour (googleplay) HD =MA
- the Five Year Engagement (iTunes Redeem) HD =MA
- Flight HD (Vudu / iTunes Split)
- Footloose (2011) SD (Vudu Or iTunes)
- Frank & Lola HD =MA
- Fright Night 2 UR HD =MA
- the Front Runner SD = MA
- Frozen HD (4K If iTunes Redeem) =MA
- Frozen (googleplay) HD =MA
- Frozen (sing Along Edition) HD =MA
- Frozen (sing-along Edition) (googleplay) HD =MA
- Frozen Ground HD Vudu
- Fury HD =MA
- Fury SD =MA
- G.I.Joe Retaliation HD Vudu Or iTunes (split)
- the Gambler HD (Vudu / iTunes Split)
- Gemini Man HD Vudu Or iTunes (split)
- Get On Up (iTunes Redeem) HD =MA
- Get The Gringo (iTunes Redeem) SD =MA
- Ghost In The Shell  HD Vudu Only
- Ghost Rider Spirit Of Vengeance SD =MA
- Ghostbusters HD =MA
- Ghostbusters: Answer The Call & Extended HD =MA
- Gifted HD =MA
- the Girl In The Spidersweb SD =MA
- the Girl On The Train =MA 4K (iTunes Redeem)
- the Girl On The Train =MA HD
- the Giver HD Vudu
- Gladiator Vudu or iTunes 4K
- Glee The Concert (iTunes Redeem) SD =MA
- God's Not Dead 3: A Light In Darkness HD =MA
- Gods Of Egypt HD Vudu (and iTunes 4K split)
- Gods Of Egypt SD Vudu
- Grace Unplugged HD Vudu
- the Grand Budapest Hotel HD =MA
- the Great Wall (iTunes Portion) 4K =MA
- the Great Wall HD =MA
- the Greatest Showman HD =MA
- the Grey (iTunes Redeem) HD =MA
- Grown Ups 2 HD =MA
- Grown Ups 2 SD =MA
- Guardians Of The Galaxy Volume 1 HD =MA (no 4K Upgrade)
- Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2.0 (googleplay) HD =MA
- Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2.0 4K =MA
- the Gunman HD =MA
- the Gunman (iTunes Redeem) HD =MA
- Hacksaw Ridge HD Vudu iTunes Or GP
- Hail, Caesar! HD =MA
- Hail, Caesar! (iTunes Redeem) HD =MA
- Halloween Kills Extended HD =MA
- Hammer Of The Gods SD Vudu
- Hansel & Gretel [unrated] HD Vudu / HD iTunes (split)
- Hands of Stones HD Vudu
- the Hangover (iTunes Redeem) SD =MA
- Hardcore Henry HD =MA (iTunes redeem)
- Harvey (1950) (iTunes Redeem) HD =MA
- the Hateful Eight HD Vudu Or GP
- the Haunting In Connecticut 2 Ghosts Of Georgia HD Vudu
- the Heat HD =MA
- the Heat (iTunes Redeem) SD =MA (will Send First)
- Heaven Is For Real HD =MA
- Heaven Is For Real SD =MA
- Hell Or High Water SD Vudu
- Hellboy (2019) 4K Vudu/iTunes/(GP HD)
- Here Comes The Boom SD =MA
- Hidden Figures HD (4K If iTunes Redeem) =MA
- Hillsong: Let Hope Rise HD =MA
- Hocus Pocus (googleplay) HD =MA
- Holiday Inn (iTunes Redeem) HD =MA
- Home Again HD =MA
- Home Alone 4K =MA
- Home Alone HD (4K If iTunes Redeem) =MA
- Home Alone 2: Lost In New York HD =MA
- Homefront (iTunes Redeem) HD =MA
- Homefront HD =MA
- Honey 2 (redeems In iTunes) HD =MA
- Honey 2 HD =MA
- Hop (redeems In iTunes) HD =MA
- Hop HD =MA
- Hope Springs HD =MA
- Horton Hears A Who (iTunes Redeem) SD =MA
- the Host (iTunes Redeem) HD =MA
- Hostiles 4K Vudu/iTunes/(GP HD)
- Hotel Transylvania SD =MA
- Hotel Transylvania 3 SD =MA
- Hours SD Vudu
- House With A Clock In Its Walls HD =MA
- How To Train A Dragon 2 HD =MA
- the Hundred Foot Journey (googleplay) HD =MA
- Hugo SD (Vudu Or iTunes)
- the Hunger Games HD Vudu
- the Hunger Games: Catching Fire HD Vudu
- the Hunger Games: Mocking Jay Part 1 HD Vudu
- the Hunger Games: Mocking Jay Part 2 HD Vudu
- I See You HD Vudu (no itunes)
- I, Frankenstein HD Vudu/iTunes/GP
- Ice Age: A Mammoth Christmas (iTunes Redeem) SD =MA
- Ice Age: Dawn Of Dinosaurs (iTunes Redeem) SD =MA
- Ice Age: the Great Egg-Scapade HD =MA
- Identity Thief (iTunes Redeem) HD =MA
- the Ides Of March HD =MA
- In Time (iTunes Redeem) SD =MA
- Incarnate (redeems In iTunes) HD =MA
- Independence Day Resurgence HD =MA (no Upgrade)
- Independence Day Resurgence HD (4K if iTunes Redeemed) =MA
- Inferno HD =MA
- Inglorious Bastards (iTunes Redeem) SD =MA
- Inside Out HD (4K If iTunes Redeemed) =MA
- Inside Out (google Redeem) HD =MA
- Insidious Chapter 2 SD =MA
- Insidious: the last key SD =MA
- Internship (iTunes Redeem) SD =MA
- the Interview HD =MA
- the Interview SD =MA
- Into The Spider-verse SD =MA
- Iron Man 3 (googleplay) HD =MA
- Iron Man 3 HD (4K If iTunes Redeemed) =MA
- Jack Reacher SD Vudu
- Jack Reacher HD Vudu (4K itunes split)
- Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit HD Vudu Or iTunes
- Jarhead 2 [unrated] HD =MA
- Jarhead 2 [unrated] HD =MA (iTunes portion)
- Jarhead Law Of Return HD =MA
- Jason Bourne HD =MA
- Jason Bourne 4K =MA (iTunes portion)
- Jaws HD =MA
- Joe SD Vudu
- John Wick 4K (Vudu,iTunes Or HD-GP)
- John Wick SD? Dvd (Vudu/iTunes/GP)
- John Wick : Chapter 2 HD (Vudu,iTunes Or HD-GP)
- John Wick 3 4K (Vudu,iTunes Or HD-GP)
- Joy HD (4K If iTunes Redeemed) =MA
- Joy HD =MA
- Jumanji: Welcome To The Jungle SD =MA
- Jumper (iTunes Redeem) SD =MA
- the Jungle Book  (preorder) HD =MA
- Jungle Cruise (googleplay) HD =MA
- Juno (iTunes Redeem) SD =MA
- Jurassic Park (4K iTunes) =MA
- Jurassic Park HD =MA
- Jurassic World (4K iTunes) =MA
- Jurassic World HD =MA
- Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom HD =MA
- Just Wright (iTunes Redeem) SD =MA
- Justin Bieber: Never Say Never HD VUDU / iTunes (split)
- Keeping Up with the Jones (4K if iTunes Redeem) = MA
- Kevin Heart: Let Me Explain HD
- Kickass 2 (iTunes Redeem) HD =MA
- Kickass 2 HD =MA
- Kidnap HD =MA
- Kidnap (iTunes Redeem) HD =MA
- Killer Elite (iTunes Redeem) HD =MA
- Killing Them Softly HD Vudu
- Kin HD Vudu/iTunes/GP
- the Kingsman: The Golden Circle HD (4K If iTunes Redeem) =MA
- the Kingsman: The Secret Service HD (4K If iTunes Redeem) =MA
- the Kingsman: The Secret Service SD (Vudu) =MA
- Knight And Day (iTunes Redeem) SD =MA
- Knocked Up HD =MA
- Knocked Up (iTunes redeem) HD =MA
- Kung Fu Panda 3 HD =MA
- the Last Exorcism Past2 SD =MA
- Last Knights HD Vudu
- the Last Stand HD
- Last Vegas SD =MA
- the Last Witch Hunter SD Vudu
- the Legend Of Hercules HD Vudu
- Les Miserables  HD =MA
- Les Miserables  (redeems In iTunes) HD =MA
- Les Miserables  HD =MA
- Let's Be Cops HD (4K If iTunes Redeem) =MA
- Life HD =MA
- Life As We Know It (iTunes Redeem) SD =MA
- Life As We Know It SD =MA
- Knight And Day (iTunes Redeem) SD =MA
- Life Of Pi HD (4K iTunes Through Foxredeem) =MA
- Lightyear (googleplay) HD =MA
- the Little Mermaid HD =MA
- the Little Mermaid (googleplay) HD =MA
- Little Women (2019) HD =MA
- Lockout (unrated) SD =MA
- the LOFT (iTunes Redeem) HD =MA
- Logan HD (4K If iTunes Redeem) =MA
- Logan Lucky HD =MA
- Logan Lucky 4K (iTunes) =MA
- the Lone Ranger (googleplay) HD =MA
- the Lone Ranger HD =MA
- Lone Survivor HD =MA
- Lone Survivor 4K (iTunes Redeem) =MA
- the Longest Ride HD ( 4K If iTunes Redeemed) =MA
- the Longest Week HD Vudu
- Looper SD =MA
- the Lorax (iTunes Redeem) HD =MA
- the Lorax HD =MA
- the Lord of The Rings: Return Of The King HD =MA
- the Lords Of Salem HD Vudu
- Love Actually (iTunes Redeem) SD =MA
- Love Actually SD =MA
- Love & Mercy HD VUDU
- Love & Other Drugs (iTunes Redeem) SD =MA
- Machete (iTunes Redeem) SD =MA
- Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted HD =MA
- Madea's Neighbors From Hell The Play SD Vudu
- Madea's Witness Protection HD Vudu Or iTunes
- Madea's Witness Protection SD Vudu
- Maggie HD Vudu Only
- Maleficent (googleplay) HD =MA
- Maleficent HD (4K If iTunes Redeem) =MA
- Maleficent: mistress of evil (googleplay) HD =MA
- Mall Cop 2 SD =MA
- Mamma Mia! (iTunes Redeem) SD =MA
- Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again HD =MA
- the Man With The Iron Fists (iTunes Redeem) HD =MA
- Marauders HD Vudu
- the Marine 4 HD Vudu
- the Marine 6: close quarters SD =MA
- Marley & Me (iTunes Redeem) SD =MA
- the Martian HD (4K If iTunes Redeem)=MA
- Mary Poppins HD =MA
- Mary Poppins (googleplay) HD =MA
- Mary Poppins: Returns (googleplay) HD =MA
- the Maze Runner HD (no Upgrade)
- the Mechanic: Resurrection HD Vudu, GP HD Or iTunes 4K
- the Mechanic: Resurrection SD Vudu
- Megan Leavey (iTunes Redeem) HD =MA
- Megan Leavey HD =MA
- Men In Black 2 HD =MA
- Men In Black 3 HD =MA
- Men In Black 3 SD =MA
- Middle School: The Worse Years Of My Life HD Vudu/GP or iTunes split
- Midway 4K Vudu/iTunes or GP
- Mike & Dave Need A Wedding Date HD (4K If iTunes Redeem) =MA
- Minions (4K iTunes) =MA
- Minions HD =MA
- Miss Peregrine's Home For Peculiar Children HD (4K iTunes redeem) =MA
- Miss Peregrine's Home For Peculiar Children HD =MA (Vudu Redeem)
- Mission Impossible: Fallout HD (Vudu or iTunes)
- Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocal HD (Vudu Or iTunes)
- Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocal Dvd (Vudu)
- Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation (HD Vudu Or iTunes 4K)
- Mom's Night Out SD =MA
- Moneyball HD =MA
- Monte Carlo (iTunes Redeem) SD =MA
- the Monuments Men HD =MA
- the Monuments Men SD =MA
- Moonlight HD Vudu
- Monster's University (googleplay) HD =MA
- Mortal Instruments SD =MA
- Mostly Ghostly: Have You Met My Ghoulfriend? (iTunes Portion) HD =MA
- Mostly Ghostly: Have You Met My Ghoulfriend? HD =MA
- the Mountain Between Us HD ( 4K If iTunes Redeem) =MA
- Mr. Holmes HD Vudu
- Mr. Peabody & Sherman HD =MA
- Mr. Popper's Penguins (iTunes Redeem) SD =MA
- Mud HD Vudu
- Mulan Original Cartoon (googleplay) HD =MA
- the Mummy: Tomb Of The Dragon Emperor (iTunes Redeem) SD =MA
- Muppets Most Wanted (googleplay) HD =MA
- Muppets Most Wanted HD =MA
- My All American HD =MA
- My All American (iTunes redeem) HD =MA
- My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2 (redeems In iTunes) HD =MA
- My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2 HD =MA
- My Life As A Zucchini (redeems In iTunes) HD =MA
- Nebraska HD Vudu
- Nerve SD Vudu
- Night At The Museum Or Night At The Museum: 2 [pick One] HD =MA
- Night At The Museum 2: Battle Of The Smithsonian (iTunes Redeem) SD =MA
- Night At The Museum 3: Secret Of The Tomb HD ( 4K If iTunes Redeem) =MA
- Night School [extended] HD =MA
- No Country For Old Men HD Vudu Or GP
- No Escape HD Vudu
- Noah HD Vudu Or iTunes (split)
- Non-stop (iTunes Redeem) HD =MA
- Non-stop HD =MA
- Norm Of The North HD (iTunes Or GP)
- Norm Of The North HD Vudu Only
- Now You See Me 4K Vudu/iTunes/GP
- Now You See Me HD Vudu
- Now You See Me HD Vudu/iTunes/GP
- Now You See Me 2 SD Vudu
- Oblivion HD =MA
- Office Party HD VUDU or iTunes (split)
- Olympus Has Fallen SD =MA
- the Oranges (itunes redeem) SD =MA
- the Other Woman HD =MA
- Ouija: Origin Of Evil (iTunes Redeem) HD =MA
- Overcomer SD =MA
- Oz The Great And Powerful (googleplay) HD =MA
- Oz The Great And Powerful HD =MA
- Pacific Rim: Uprising HD =MA
- Paddington HD Vudu
- Pain & Gain HD Vudu Only
- Paranormal Activity 2 HD (Vudu Or iTunes)
- Paranormal Activity 3 SD Vudu (try iTunes at your own risk)
- Paranormal Activity 4 HD (Vudu Or iTunes)
- Paranormal Activity Ghost Dimension HD (Vudu or iTunes)
- Parental Guidance HD =MA
- Parental Guidance (iTunes Redeem) SD =MA
- Parker HD =MA
- Parker SD =MA
- Passengers HD =MA
- Patriots Day HD Vudu (or 4K iTunes)
- Paul [unrated] HD =MA (iTunes Redeem)
- Peanuts Movies HD ( 4K If iTunes Redeem) =MA
- Penguins Of Madagascar HD =MA
- Percy Jackson: Sea Of Monsters HD =MA
- Perks Of Being A Wallflower HD Vudu Or iTunes SD (split)
- Peter Pan 2: Return To Never Land (googleplay) HD =MA
- Peter Pan 2: Return To Never Land HD =MA
- Philomena HD Vudu
- Pirates Of The Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales (googleplay) HD =MA
- Pirates Of The Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales HD =MA (iTunes kills code)
- Pirates! Band Of Misfits SD =MA
- Pitch Black [unrated] (redeems In iTunes) HD =MA
- Pitch Perfect HD =MA
- Pitch Perfect [iTunes redeem 4K] =MA
- Pitch Perfect 2 HD =MA
- Pitch Perfect 2 HD (4K If iTunes Redeem) =MA
- Pitch Perfect 3 HD =MA
- Pixels SD =MA
- Planes (googleplay) HD =MA
- Planes HD =MA
- Planes Fire And Rescue (googleplay) HD =MA
- Planes Fire And Rescue HD =MA
- Planes, Trains & Automobiles HD (Vudu or iTunes)
- Playing For Keeps SD =MA
- Pompeii HD =MA
- Pompeii SD =MA
- Possession HD Vudu (SD iTunes)
- Predators (iTunes Redeem) SD =MA
- Premium Rush SD =MA
- the Prince HD Vudu
- Prometheus HD =MA
- Prometheus (iTunes Redeem) [?] =MA
- Promised Land (iTunes Redeem) HD =MA
- the Protector 2 SD Vudu
- Public Enemies (iTunes Redeem) SD =MA
- Public Enemies (iTunes Redeem) HD =MA
- the Purge (4K iTunes) =MA
- the Purge HD =MA
- the Purge: Anarchy HD =MA
- the Purge: Election Year HD =MA
- Queen Of Katwe (googleplay) HD =MA
- Queen Of Katwe HD =MA
- R.I.P.D. (redeems In iTunes) 4K =MA
- R.I.P.D. HD =MA
- Ralph Breaks The Internet (googleplay) HD =MA
- Rambo HD (Vudu,iTunes4K Or GP)
- Rambo: Last Blood 4K (Vudu,iTunes Or HD-GP)
- Ramona And Beezus (iTunes Redeem) SD =MA
- Rango HD Vudu Or 4K iTunes (split)
- Real Steel (iTunes Redeem) SD =MA
- Reasonable Doubt HD =MA
- Red 2 HD Vudu
- Red Sparrow HD =MA
- Redemption HD Vudu
- Reprisal HD Vudu
- Resident Evil: Retribution HD =MA
- Resident Evil: Retribution SD =MA
- Resident Evil: Welcome To Raccoon City HD =MA
- the Revenant HD =MA
- Ricki And The Flash SD =MA
- Riddick [unrated] HD =MA
- Riddick [unrated] (redeems In iTunes) HD =MA
- Ride Along (iTunes Redeem) HD =MA
- Ride Along HD =MA
- Ride Along 2 (iTunes Redeem) HD =MA
- Rio HD =MA
- Rio (iTunes Redeem) SD =MA
- Rio 2 HD =MA
- Rise Of The Guardians HD =MA
- Rise Of The Planet Of Apes (iTunes Redeem) SD =MA
- Risen SD =MA
- Robin Hood (1973) [Disney-animation] (googleplay) HD =MA
- Robin Hood (2018) Vudu/GP HD or iTunes 4K
- Robocop 2014 HD Vudu Or GP
- the Rocker (iTunes Redeem) SD =MA
- the Rocky Horror Picture Show HD =MA
- Runner Runner HD =MA
- Rush HD =MA
- Safe HD Vudu Only
- Safe House (iTunes Redeem) HD =MA
- Safe House HD =MA
- Same Kind Of Different As Me HD Vudu Or iTunes (split)
- Samson HD =MA
- Santa's Little Helper HD =MA
- Sausage Party HD =MA
- Savages 4K (iTunes Redeem) =MA (unsure Which Version)
- Saving Mr. Banks HD =MA
- Saving Mr. Banks (googleplay) HD =MA
- Scarface 4K (iTunes Redeem) =MA
- Scarface HD =MA
- Scary Stories To Tell In The Dark 4K Vudu/iTunes or (GP HD)
- Schindler's List =MA HD
- the Scorpion King 3: Battle For Redemption (iTunes Redeem) HD =MA
- the Scorpion King 3: Battle For Redemption HD =MA
- the Scorpion King 4: Quest For Power (iTunes Redeem) HD =MA
- the Scorpion King 4: Quest For Power HD =MA
- Seal Team 8: Behind Enemy Lines HD (Vudu Or Googleplay)
- Search Party HD =MA
- Search Party (iTunes Redeem) HD =MA
- the Secret Life Of Pets HD =MA
- the Secret Life Of Pets (4K iTunes) =MA
- the Secret Life Of Pets 2 HD =MA
- the Secret Life Of Walter Mitty HD =MA
- See No Evil 2 HD Vudu
- Seeking A Friend For The End Of The Earth (iTunes Redeem) HD =MA
- Selma HD (redeems In iTunes) HD =MA
- Seventh Son (iTunes Redeem) HD =MA
- Seventh Son HD =MA (iTunes Portion)
- Sex Tape SD =MA
- the Shack HD Vudu Or iTunes (split)
- Shrek: Forever After (the final chapter) HD =MA
- Showdogs HD =MA
- Sicario HD Vudu
- Sicario 4K Vudu (or HD GP Or iTunes)
- Silver Linings Playbook HD (Vudu Or Googleplay)
- Single Mom's Club HD
- Sisters [unrated] (iTunes Redeem) HD =MA
- Sisters [unrated] HD =MA
- Skin Trade HD Vudu Redeem
- Skyfall HD (Vudu Or Googleplay)
- Skyfall SD (iTunes)
- Skyscraper HD =MA
- Sleepless (iTunes Redeem) HD =MA
- Slumdog Millionaire (iTunes Redeem) SD =MA
- the Smurfs 2 HD =MA
- the Smurfs 2 SD =MA
- Snitch HD Vudu
- Snow White & The Huntsman (4K iTunes) =MA
- Snow White & The Huntsman HD =MA
- Snowden HD =MA
- Snowden (iTunes Redeem) HD =MA
- Son Of God HD =MA
- Sonic The Hedge hog 2 4K (Vudu or iTunes)
- the Spectacular Now SD Vudu
- Spectre 007 HD Vudu/GP/iTunes
- Spider-man: Far From Home HD =MA
- Spider-man: Far From Home SD =MA
- Spider-man: Homecoming HD =MA
- Spider-man: No-way Home SD =MA
- Split HD =MA
- the Sponge Bob Movie: Sponge Out Of Water HD Vudu / iTunes (split)
- Spy [unrated] HD =MA
- St. Vincent HD Vudu
- Stand Up Guys HD Vudu
- the Star SD =MA
- Star Trek  HD (Vudu Or iTunes)
- Star Trek  Into Darkness HD (Vudu Or iTunes)
- Star Trek  Beyond HD (Vudu Or iTunes)
- Star Wars: Force Awakens HD =MA (Vudu - No Upgrade)
- Star Wars: Rise Of The Skywalker 4K =MA
- Star Wars: Rise Of Skywalker (googleplay) HD =MA
- Step Up Revolution HD Vudu Or (iTunes Quality Unknown)
- Straight Out Of Compton (iTunes Redeem) 4K =MA
- Straight Out Of Compton [unrated] HD =MA
- Strange World (googleplay) HD =MA
- Street Kings (iTunes Redeem) SD =MA
- Super 8 HD Vudu Portion
- Super Buddies (googleplay) HD =MA
- Super Troopers 2 HD =MA
- the Sword In The Stone (googleplay) HD =MA
- Taken (theatrical slip) SD =MA
- Taken (Extended slip) SD =MA
- Taken 2 HD =MA
- Taken 3 (extended) HD =MA
- Ted (iTunes Redeem) HD =MA
- Ted [unrated] HD =MA
- Ted 2 (iTunes Redeem) HD =MA
- Teen Spirit HD =MA
- Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles HD Vudu/iTunes split
- Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out Of The Shadows HD Vudu/iTunes split
- Temptation HD Vudu
- Temptation HD Vudu or Google Play (ask for this one for GP)
- Terminator Dark Fate HD (Vudu Or iTunes)
- That Awkward Moment SD =MA
- That's My Boy SD =MA
- the Theory Of Everything (iTunes Redeem) HD =MA
- Think Like A Man SD =MA
- Think Like A Man Too SD =MA
- This Is 40 (iTunes Portion) HD =MA
- This Is The End HD =MA
- This Is The End SD =MA
- Thor Love And Thunder 4K =MA
- Thor Love And Thunder HD =MA
- Thor Love And Thunder (googleplay) HD =MA
- Thor Ragnarok (googleplay) HD =MA
- Thor Ragnarok HD (4K If iTunes Redeem) =MA
- the Three Stooges [the movie] (iTunes redeem) SD =MA
- Tinker Tailor Solder (iTunes Redeem) HD =MA
- Tinkerbell And The Legend Of The NeverBeast HD =MA
- Top Gun HD Vudu & Unknown iTunes (split)
- Total Recall (1990) HD Vudu
- Total Recall (2012) [theater & Extended] HD =MA
- Total Recall (2012) SD =MA
- Tower Heist (iTunes Redeem) HD =MA
- Toy Story 4 (googleplay) HD =MA
- Tracers SD Vudu
- Trainwreck (iTunes Redeem) HD =MA
- Transformers: Age Of Extinction HD (Vudu Only)
- Transformers: Age Of Extinction SD Vudu
- Transformers: Dark Of The Moon HD Vudu
- Transformers: Dark Of The Moon SD Vudu
- Transformers: The Last Knight (digital Cut) HD Vudu Or iTunes 4K Split
- the Transporter (iTunes) SD =MA
- Trauma Center 4K Vudu/iTunes/GP
- Tremors 5: Bloodlines HD =MA
- Tremors 5: Bloodlines (iTunes Redeem) HD =MA
- Tremors 6: A Cold Day In Hell HD =MA
- Trolls HD =MA
- True Grit HD Vudu (iTunes Split)
- Trumbo (iTunes redeem) HD =MA
- the Trust SD Vudu
- Turbo (iTunes Redeem) SD =MA
- Turbo HD =MA
- Twilight: Breaking Dawn Pt 2 HD
- Unbroken (iTunes) HD =MA
- Unbroken HD =MA
- Underworld: Awakening SD =MA
- Underworld: Bloodwars HD =MA
- Unfriended HD (iTunes Portion) =MA
- Unfriended HD =MA
- Unknown (iTunes Redeem) SD =MA
- Unstoppable (iTunes Redeem) SD =MA
- Vampires Suck (iTunes Redeem) SD =MA
- Valerian And The City Of A Thousand Planets HD Vudu
- Venom HD =MA
- Venom SD =MA
- the Vow SD =MA
- Walking With Dinosaurs HD =MA
- Wallstreet 2: Never Sleeps (iTunes Redeem) SD =MA
- Wanderlust (iTunes Redeem) HD =MA
- War Of The Planet Of The Apes HD (4K If iTunes Redeem) =MA
- War Room HD =MA
- War Room SD =MA
- Warcraft (4K iTunes) =MA
- Warcraft HD =MA
- Warm Bodies HD Vudu
- Warm Bodies HD Vudu/GP/ iTunes (4K iTunes Split)
- the Watch HD =MA
- Water For Elephants (iTunes Redeem) SD =MA
- We Bought A Zoo (iTunes Redeem) SD =MA
- the Wedding Ringer SD =MA
- Werewolf: the Beast Among Us UR HD =MA
- Wanderlust (iTunes Redeem) HD =MA
- Wanted (iTunes Redeem) SD =MA
- What Happens In Vegas (iTunes Redeem) SD =MA
- What To Expect When You're Expecting HD
- Whats Your Number (iTunes Redeem) SD =MA
- When The Game Stands Tall HD =MA
- When The Game Stands Tall SD =MA
- White House Down SD =MA
- Why Him? HD (4K If iTunes Redeem) =MA
- Widows HD =MA
- Wild Card HD Vudu
- Winchester HD Vudu/GP/iTunes
- the Witch SD Vudu
- the Wolf Of Wall Street HD Vudu (and 4K iTunes Split)
- the Wolfman (iTunes Redeem) SD =MA
- the Wolverine (iTunes Redeem) [SD?] =MA
- the Wolverine (unrated) HD =MA (must redeem on MA)
- the Woman In Black SD =MA
- Won't Back Down HD =MA
- Wonder HD (iTunes, Vudu Or GP)
- Woodlawn HD =MA
- Woodlawn (iTunes Redeem) HD =MA
- World War Z HD (Vudu Or iTunes)
- X Men Apocalypse HD (4K If iTunes Redeem) =MA
- X Men Days Of Future Past HD (4K If iTunes Redeem) =MA
- X Men Days Of Future Past HD =MA
- X Men First Class (iTunes Redeem) SD =MA
- X Men Origins Wolverine (iTunes Redeem) SD =MA
- XXX: Return Of Xander Cage HD Vudu (or iTunes Split)
- Yesterday HD =MA
- Young Adult HD Vudu
- the Young Messiah (iTunes Redeem) HD =MA
- Zero Dark Thirty HD =MA
- Zero Dark Thirty SD =MA
- Zootopia (googleplay) HD =MA
- Nurse Jackie Season 6 HD Vudu
- Orange Is The New Black Season 1 SD Vudu
- True Detective Season 3 HD Vudu
ITUNES Only MOVIES - No Port - Marked
- Game Of Thrones Season 1 HD iTunes Only
- Game Of Thrones Season 2 HD iTunes Only
- Game Of Thrones Season 3 HD iTunes Only
- Game Of Thrones Season 4 HD iTunes Only
- True Detective Season 3 HD iTunes Only
CANADIAN CODES: GOOGLE PLAY / ITUNES MARKED
- Abduction SD (iTunes)
- the Act Of Valor SD (iTunes)
- the Adventures of Tin Tin HD (iTunes)
- Alex Cross SD (iTunes)
- All Eyez On Me HD (iTunes)
- Annihilation HD (iTunes)
- Bankok Dangerous SD (iTunes)
- the Bank Job SD (iTunes)
- the Big Wedding HD (iTunes)
- Book Club 4K (iTunes)
- Brooklyn's Finest SD (iTunes)
- the Corrupted  (iTunes)
- Criminal 4K (iTunes)
- Daybreakers SD (iTunes)
- the Dictator HD (iTunes)
- Divergent 4K (iTunes)
- Divergent Series: Allegiant 4K (iTunes)
- Divergent Series: Insurgent 4K (iTunes)
- Don Jon SD (iTunes)
- the Expendables [first movie] SD (iTunes)
- the Expendables 3 [unrated] HD (iTunes)
- Family Guy Its A Trap (iTunes)
- Forbidden Kingdom (iTunes)
- G.I.Joe The Rise Of The Cobra (iTunes)
- Gamer iTunes SD (iTunes)
- Ghost In The Shell 4K (iTunes)
- Gods Of Egypt 4K (iTunes)
- Hansel & Gretel [unrated] HD (iTunes)
- the Happytime Murders (apple Tv)
- the Haunting In Connecticut (iTunes)
- Hot Tub Time Machine SD (iTunes)
- House At The End Of The Street SD (iTunes)
- Hercules 4K (iTunes)
- Hot Tub Time Machine (iTunes)
- the Hunger Games [4k Itunes] or [GP-HD]
- the Hunger Games: Catching Fire [4k Itunes] or [HD GP]
- the Hunger Games: Mocking Jay Part 1 [4k Itunes] or [HD GP]
- I Feel Pretty (apple Tv)
- Jack Reacher 4K (iTunes)
- Jack Reacher: Never Go Back 4K (iTunes)
- John Wick 4K (iTunes)
- Immortals (iTunes)
- Interstellar 4K (iTunes)
- La La Land 4K (iTunes)
- Labor Day HD (iTunes)
- the Last Witch Hunter 4K (iTunes)
- Limitless (iTunes)
- the Lincoln Lawyer (iTunes)
- Machine Gun Preacher (iTunes)
- Mission Impossible: Fallout HD (iTunes)
- Monster Trucks HD (iTunes)
- Movie 43 (iTunes)
- Noah HD (iTunes)
- Office Christmas Party 4K (iTunes)
- One For The Money [Bluray] (iTunes)
- Pain & Gain HD (iTunes)
- Paranoia (iTunes)
- Paranormal Activity 2 HD (iTunes)
- Paranormal Activity 3 HD (iTunes)
- Paranormal Activity 4 HD (iTunes)
- Paranormal Activity 5: The Marked Ones HD (iTunes)
- Pet Sematary 2019 4K (iTunes)
- Pink Panther 2 (iTunes)
- the Raven SD (iTunes)
- Red Dawn SD (iTunes)
- Rogue Warfare HD (iTunes)
- Safehaven (iTunes)
- Same Kind Of Different As Me HD (iTunes)
- the Shack HD (iTunes)
- the Spirit SD (iTunes)
- Star Trek SD (iTunes)
- Star Wars: The Clone Wars SD (iTunes)
- Step Up Revolution (iTunes)
- Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (tmnt1) 4K (iTunes)
- Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2: Out Of The Shadows 4K (iTunes)
- Terminator: Dark Fate 4K (iTunes)
- Texas Chainsaw  (iTunes)
- Titanic (iTunes)
- Transformers: Age Of Extinction 4K (iTunes)
- Transformers: Dark Of The Moon 4K (iTunes)
- Transformers: the Last Knight 4K (iTunes)
- Transporter 3 SD (iTunes)
- Warm Bodies SD (iTunes)
- What to Expect While Expecting SD (iTunes)
- Wonder 4K (iTunes)
- Xxx Return Of Xander Cage 4K (iTunes)
I do not know any of these port
WANT LIST Titles I am looking for
- Black Water (GP) Can. (NOT MA)
- Hitman Agent 47 (GP/iTunes) Can.
- Kingsman: the Golden Circle (GP/iTunes) Can.
- the Wolverine (GP/iTunes) Can.
submitted by flippenphil
to uvtrade [link] [comments]
2023.06.02 14:31 LanesGrandma It Should Have Been A Three Hour Tour
If it weren’t for a killer urban legend, Tina and I would celebrate Valentine’s Day on the 14th
Honestly, I was enjoying a bit of human company after several hours of driving alone, four years ago. Correction. I was trying to enjoy human company. I couldn't identify what was out of sync about Ernestburgh and its inhabitants so I wrote it off to me being picky. I am picky. That's why I was looking this far away from home for the location of my much needed warehouse. I wasn't about to spend the money demanded for run down buildings in my hometown. My odometer assured me I was 114 miles from home. In Ernestburgh. Which isn't in my GPS or on any online map I called up.
Cindy the gas station cashier dropped the cash into my hand and wished me a happy day. Then, haltingly, as if going off script and unsure about doing so, she asked, "What brought you here?"
"Good question," I said, jamming the change into my jacket's inside pocket, "I'm in the market for a warehouse, around 1,000 square feet. Anything like that in town?"
"Let the young lady be on her way," a deep voice boomed behind me. My stomach jumped, although I think I remained calm on the outside as I turned around. A tall, muscular man was nodding at Cindy and me. "Don't mind her, Miss, sometimes we forget our manners here, being we all know each other. You know how that is." He chuckled, although his eyes never smiled. To me, he looked smug. I didn't appreciate that.
"Where are my manners?" I laughed, sticking my hand out to start a handshake. "I'm Lydia from the next town over. And you are?"
He stared at my hand for several seconds before taking it in a quick handshake. "Name's Hopper, Miss Lydia, good to meet you. My wife Cora tells me I need to socialize more and work less, but, you know how it is, I'm sure." He released my hand.
He sounded like he looked, smug. Part of me wanted to egg him on. But I took a breath before speaking and told him I was looking for a motel room for the night. His demeanor softened. "The Deu Lake Inn just reopened after renovations. Go right from our parking lot, left at the second stop sign. Ask for Room Number 103. It overlooks the Lake. Hope you're an early riser. Sunrise over the Lake is unforgettable this time of year!"
Ernestburgh didn't have street lights so the stop signs were a little hard to see but I managed to find the dirt road that ended at Deu Lake Inn's parking lot. That clicked for me. If I landed MoonDoor's warehouse here, the Inn and the entire old school vibe of Ernestburgh would be an easy sell to increase tourism. Especially to boomers.
Annie McIntosh greeted me at the front desk and offered me 10 % off on my stay, which I gratefully accepted. Annie called in Enzio Morton to take my 'overnight bag' to my room and make sure the air conditioning was working. I said I wasn't worried, since it was February 9 and I would rather the room was heated. Annie's response was the a/c was just installed and it being such new technology, staff needed to make sure it worked. I chuckled a little then noticed she probably wasn't joking so I stopped, rather awkwardly.
Annie busied herself with paperwork and actively avoided talking to me after that. Knowing that someone named Enzio had to accompany me to my room, I checked out the only photo on the wall. It was a black and white photo of a man who looked eerily familiar. He wore an odd white bucket hat with the brim pushed away from his face. He had dark hair with full, choppy bangs, eyebrows raised over large eyes opened wide, a nondescript nose and mouth open as if he was either talking or gawking.
It hit me: That was Bob Denver, when he was Gilligan from Gilligan's Island, a 1960s sitcom.
A document attached to the photo frame was titled "Official History and Lore of Our Founding Father". It explained 'Captain' Johnny Ernest spent his entire life in Ernestburgh. His parents raised him on their local farm, before the town existed. Deu Lake Inn was built over his family's farm property. He was orphaned at the age of 11 and lived alone for the rest of his life. He spent 25 years building the earliest homes, post office and stage coach station for what became known as Ernestburgh. Since his death, he returns every year to eat the living being he names. The town would not and could not exist without him, according to the document.
What the hell.
"Miss Annie," I asked, unwilling to be taken in by a local prank, "is that all there is to this story?"
Annie lifted her head, smiling widely. "Yes," she said brightly, "that's our Founding Father, Captain Ernest. Once a year he returns, eats whatever living being he names, then he returns to his beloved lake until the next February 10th."
'Eats whatever living being he names.' I felt fear without knowing its origin, something I don't often experience. I turned to face the Inn's entrance so I could avoid both Annie and Captain Ernest. Enzio appeared soon after. He got me to Room 103, confirmed the a/c was good, and I was left on my own for the night.
I opened the sports bag of spare essentials I always left in my vehicle. It stems from having to be prepared to run for my life when I was younger. Some habits are hard to break. It allowed me to change into a t shirt for that night. I grabbed the remote and jumped into bed.
Covers up to my neck, horror movie marathon playing quietly in the background, I was ready to relax. That's when I remembered my odometer. Part of my being picky is me recording my mileage at the end of every journey. My odometer registered exactly 114 miles from home to Ernestbugh. Based on memory, I'd travelled mostly westbound from home. And online maps clearly showed a large, well-known city 40 miles west of my place. Seems likely I would have noticed that city, had it been in my way during my travels.
Also, traveling no more than 50 miles per hour, my trip should have taken two and a half hours, three tops if I slowed down, got stuck in traffic jams or stopped a lot. That wasn't how my drive went at all. I left home at 10 a.m. and drove non-stop until I arrived at Ernestburgh nine hours later, just before 7 p.m.
Once again, what the hell.
I called up my dashcam footage and fast forwarded through the day's journey. There was scenery I recognized, close to home, then about five hours of static, then scenery that I recalled driving into Ernestburgh. The first time I watched it, I didn't believe it. Had to be a technical glitch. The third time I watched it, my muscles tightened for fight or flight. As much as I wanted to leave immediately, I realized I'd do better to wait until morning. I set my phone alarm for 6:45 a.m. and plugged in my phone to recharge, then spent a long time staring at the ceiling.
My alarm rang a bit too early for my liking and I didn't remember setting the ring tone to 'growls and groans'. The time on my phone was 5:45 a.m. so it wasn't my alarm. For a second I attributed the noise to the horror movie marathon I'd selected for the room's TV. Nope. TV must have shut itself off while I was asleep.
I heard it again. A growl, thunderous and a bit muffled, coming from the back of the Inn where my window faced. Expecting an incoming thunderstorm, I opened the curtains a bit and stared for a second or two at a huge bubble sitting on the lake. A face smiled at me from inside the bubble. A face. In a bubble. On a lake. Smiling at me. So much wrong.
After the fastest shower ever, I shoved all my gear into my sports bag and threw on my coat. I ran to the back of the Inn with all my gear and my phone (charge cord still attached, alarm shut off) at the ready. The beach, such as it was, was about a two minute jog from the back of the Inn and extended for quite a bit before meeting the water. There was a large bubble sitting on the water's surface, a significant distance from the shore. This was the same bubble I'd seen out the window. It kept getting larger, as did the face in it.
I was trying to focus my phone's camera when I heard someone speaking behind me. Annie, the front desk clerk, asked if I was ready to check out.
"Um, Annie, do you see that?" I said as gently as I could, pointing at the bubble. As soon as I looked at it, I couldn't look away. Annie didn't answer my question but she did keep talking. She said check out prior to 11:25 a.m. was fine but I had to pay now. I asked her how much and she didn't answer, which prompted me to look directly at her.
The growling started again. Of course it was much louder than I'd heard in my room. Annie frowned but stood firm, hand out, palm up. I looked back at the lake and the bubble had moved much closer to shore, almost touching dry land. It was huge, and the face now had a full body with arms and legs. Still smiling, it pointed at me with its left arm.
My blood ran cold. I heard Annie's voice but couldn't understand the words. The bubble drew ever closer. The growls were so loud, I clamped my hands over my ears but still couldn't stop staring at the face. It seemed so familiar.
Annie might have stopped talking, I don't know. All I could hear with my hands on my ears was muffled growling. I knew she was still there because she had grabbed my right arm with both hands and pulled fiercely. Even so, I kept staring at the bubble that had stopped rolling when it made land.
The growling continued.
Annie tugged until my right hand fell away from my ear. She screamed it wasn't her time as she released my arm. At that time I didn't know if she stayed or left because I was still watching the bubble.
A crack formed, splitting the bubble in half vertically. Within a blink or two, the bubble split open and the growling changed to a low, gravelly human voice. "Annie! Annie McIntosh!" the being said. Its finger no longer pointed at me, but to my right. I felt compelled to glance beside me and sure enough, there was Annie. Her hands were balled up into fists, pushing on her temples. She was crying and shaking, and I felt genuine terror just looking at her.
"Annie McIntosh, it is your time!" the being announced as it took two steps towards her. I'm ashamed to say I felt a brief moment of relief that the being wasn't aiming at me before I realized it appeared to be hellbent on getting Annie. She was now screaming wordlessly, seemingly unable or unwilling to run.
In that moment, two things occurred to me. The being was an exact replica of the black and white photo of the town's founding father. And if the urban legend was correct, 'Captain' Johnny Ernest can only eat one person per year. He names that person before eating them. Since he'd already named Annie, I figured I was safe at least for that year, and tried to distract him. Maybe Annie could escape and live another year.
I screamed at him, "Captain, you're dead, you don't need to eat anymore!" It was the best I could think of at the time. I put my hands on Annie's left arm and tried to drag her away with me. No luck, she felt like she was cemented to the spot.
Meanwhile, Captain Ernest continued to take huge steps towards us. I'm used to living with and around weird things, but this went beyond weird. Gilligan wanted to eat someone and he seemed focused on Annie.
Something in me broke. I screamed I was sorry to Annie and took off at a full run. I didn't stop running until I got to the back of the Inn. Maybe it was guilt, maybe it was morbid curiosity, but I had to take one last look back.
Captain Ernest was still at least two of his steps away from her when he grabbed her.
She was still screaming when he dropped her into his mouth.
I folded two ten dollar bills under the phone on the Inn's front desk then jumped into my car and peeled out. When I got to Ernestburgh's main street I turned left. A right turn would have taken me back to Ernestburgh and that was a huge nope for me. As soon as I saw something resembling a freeway, I took the eastbound route and didn't stop until I was home.
The trip home took two hours and added 114 miles to the odometer. My dashcam worked just fine that whole time. The previous day's footage came up as 'corrupted' when I tried to access it. I spent the next four days in bed, waiting for Tina to return from her mother’s.
Tina's mother recovered quickly and Tina came home on day five. She asked me to retrace my steps with her in the car. No matter what we did, we couldn't find Ernestburgh. I searched for obituary notices about Annie McIntosh until Tina said I might be reaching unhealthy levels of 'need to know' when, in fact, I don't need to know. And she was right.
But every February 9th and 10th since then, she and I spend those days together, at home, without guests. We stay in bed, watch our fav horror movies and eat whatever we want. It's our customized version of Valentine's Day. Author's note: Find me at LG Writes
, Odd Directions and Write_Right
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