Cheap bed frames twin
2015.08.15 02:43 doug3465 Philadelphia
News from in and around Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
2023.06.07 23:03 cat_boy_the_toy Let's actually address pedos in the LGBTQ community and Shoe's views on them
With all the mudslinging going on about Shoe's "responsibility" for her content (from the recent alleged grooming of teenage boys into becoming alt-right neonazis to the months old handwringing over her Balanciaga posts providing ammo for rightwing groomer panic), I think it's worthwhile to really discuss a topic near and dear to a lot of people, which is what is the actual overlap between pedophiles and the LGBT community. I, like Shoe, don't have time to read studies or provide scientific evidence, but as a concerned LGBT person myself, I have my own anecdotes and observations to add.
First, I think anyone with basic reading comprehension should understand that Shoe doesn't believe that pedophilia is rampant in the queer community, nor does she believe that they belong to the community. Her attacks on drag shows and queer associations with children come from a good place. Shoe's entire ethos is to criticize things in order to make them better, and I believe she's sincere about that. I think she genuinely believes that if the left and queer communities don't call out sketchy and bad actors now, we're soon going to find ourselves in a world where pedos actually are accepted members of the community. I personally don't think that that's likely to happen anytime soon, but I still support her for calling out bad actors because we should always attack child predators regardless of which political side benefits from the optics of it.
So what is the actual, legitimate threat to children from the LGBT community? From my experience, LGBT children are especially vulnerable to being predated on because they tend to have fewer supportive adults in their life. Kids and teens look to trusted adults for support, and when they can't get that from their family or teachers due to homophobia and general bigotry, they're going to latch on to anybody who provides that validation and support...even if it turns out that that person has ulterior motives. To accept this argument, you need to first accept that LGBT kids exist in the first place. You have to also accept that people usually develop sexual and romantic attraction prior to turning 18, with romantic attraction sometimes starting even before puberty. You're not going to be able to fully grasp what's going on or provide effective solutions if you don't accept those realities.
Generally, the average LGBT adult is not a threat to LGBT kids, but a lot of queer culture has developed within a heavy backdrop of tolerance with pedophilia. A lot of teen gay boys get their first sexual experience with adult men. In some ways it's a hierarchical culture that's become engrained, where young gay boys in their teens and early 20s are encouraged to bottom and be submissive to older, more masculine and mature men...and then as they mature and gain more experience, their role reverses and they're expected to be tops to the newest generation of gays. Sure, some gay men will form lasting relationships and marriages, but the current climate still promotes an empty hookup culture that makes the heterosexual one look wholesome and quaint by comparison. Even if they're legal, we're culturally conditioned to be skeptical (rightly, imo) of straight relationships with large age gaps because they can be predatory and patriarchal. We're not similarly conditioned to be skeptical when that relationship is between two men, because these relationships are still considered part of the natural order (ironically also due to the patriarchy.) Age gap relationships between gay men are often framed as mentor-mentee or father-son relationships, rather than romantic ones, where the younger boy exchanges sex and pleasures the older man in exchange for his ability to provide - be it money, safety, housing, job opportunities, even just affirmation of his gay identity. Does this not sound explicitly predatory to you? It alarms me that when I go on queer dating apps, whether they be as sleazy like Grindr or "wholesome" like (such an app does not exist), I as someone who appears barely legal overwhelmingly attract older men who want to top me. I, for one, would rather date people closer to my age, and I don't appreciate the fact that having ugly hairy older men wanting to fuck jailbait like me is considered the natural order of things.
I am lucky that I wasn't socially active online as a teen, because if I was, I probably would've been victimized by a predator. Given that the queer community is heavily in the minority, we really have no option but to go online to find each other, and that creates a deadly confluence of circumstances. Predators bask in the anonymity of online spaces. Parents and other trusted adults are usually far removed from monitoring who their kids talk to online, and even when they are involved, their queer teens are loathe to trust their homophobic parents over the community of online strangers who affirm and validate who they truly are. And plus, teens are sexual and horny, especially isolated gay teenage boys who have literally few other outlets besides exchanging lewds with online strangers. And then, on top of that, these strangers can turn around and threaten to out these teens to their friends and family, blackmailing them with their own photos. Straight kids are a lot less vulnerable to these issues on average, because they don't usually have such strained relationships with their parents and don't have to go online to find people who are accepting of them.
If we want to stop predators within the LGBT community, the first place to start is with the parents of LGBT kids. If they were more accepting of their kids, their kids wouldn't turn to literal predators for support. And those monstrous parents that kick their kids out for being LGBT are literally enabling predators, because the vast majority of homeless queer youth are forced to exchange sex for survival - food, housing, transportation, etc. Homeless children share hotel rooms and take turns being raped by predators so that they can keep their room for an additional night. And let's be clear - when it's between an adult and a minor, it is rape. If you're a parent of a queer teen who you're considering disowning, please burn that image in your head, of your child being pinned down on a crusty stained hotel bed, crying and moaning in pain, as a fat hairy stranger rapes them and thanks you for the pleasure of forcing your child into this situation. You enable child predators by pushing your child away. Are you so selfish that you believe your child's queerness is really a means to spite you, a ploy just for attention?
If you're a conservative who truly believes in protecting children, how about you start by actually acknowledging that LGBT kids exist and root out the vile pedophilic element on your own side that believes teen girls being impregnated by middle-aged men is the ideal, traditional, natural order of things? Queerness manifests in every race, every ethnicity, every culture - gay and trans kids are born into even the most conservative traditional families. It is impossible to groom someone into being gay, just as you never had to be groomed into deciding to be straight. How about you take your own advice and leave the kids alone, stop trying to do everything within your power to separate them from trusted adults - parents, teachers, doctors, therapists - because all you're going to accomplish is make it even EASIER for predators to rape and take advantage of children.
And if you're a liberal, stop pretending that all queer content is appropriate for all audiences. Drag shows are sometimes not appropriate for children. Kinks belong in private, you are not being shut down or discriminated against or kink-shamed by not being allowed to show off half-naked at the pride event - as a community that's so big on consent, remember that viewing sexual content requires consent, too. And finally, stop humanizing monsters. The mass murderer and child rapist do not need to be given the grace of rehabilitation, actually. Some marginalization and discrimination is deserved. We don't need to "destigmatize" pedophilia. Sure, we can put pedophiles in therapy, but given that conversion therapy doesn't work and that they claim that their attraction can't be helped... I don't really see any other option but locking them up far away from kids. You don't need to feel sorry for them, and hey, it's better than the woodchipper that conservatives are calling for. Stop attacking people like Shoe for rightfully calling out the pedophilic element that's trying to weasel their way into acceptability.
Sorry if this is long-winded and brainwormed. I'm sure a lot of you disagree with my points.
TLDR - Shoe is right to criticize the left on the pedo issue but conservative bigotry is enabling pedos to thrive on queer kids.
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2023.06.07 22:59 iamasecretthrowaway I know this is prob old news, but I'm new. Can we talk about the septic tank situation? Bc wtf?
I asked on YouTube and someone responded that she claims she shares a septic tank with a neighbour and there's a dispute over who should pay for the repairs. She also claims that she's waiting to be hooked up to city sewer. Is that correct?
Bc, like, that's not how any of that works. I have a feeling one of two things is going on. Or maybe both things, I'm not choosey.
If she shares a septic tank (uncommon to just share with one neighbour buts it's possible), then her property came with an easement that negotiates the sharing. Usually maintenance is repair is split equally among the homes, so 50-50. If they're demanding she pay for it all, my guess is that her family vastly exceeds the use rating. Septic tanks are sized for houses, usually based on bedrooms when the home is originally built. They plan for 1-2 occupant per bedroom. If you add bedrooms or cram way more people in than average, the septic tank will be undersized and unable to properly manage the load.
If the neighbour is demanding she pay for the repairs, my money is firmly on they added bedrooms (either via additions, dividing rooms, finishing a basement, or converting rooms) and did not upgrade the septic. If it was a 3 bed house and they made it a 6 bed house, for example, they may need a septic tank more than 3 times the size what was planned for. Of course it's breaking. The leach field would be totally overwhelmed and raw sewage would be flooding out.
Upgrading a septic system can be easy or a straight up logistical nightmare. Bc a bigger system means a bigger leach field and they've prob shot theirs to hell. Which means the leach field has to be moved. And it usually has to be a certain distance from the house and property lines. Its 100% possible for there to be no alternative location for a septic system to move to. Also not positive, but that would likely require lawyers and surveys and all kinds of shit, bc she and her neighbour would need a new easement for the new location.
Which can make city sewer your only options.
As for the waiting on the city hookup. Yeah... How long they been waiting? Its usually a pretty quick process. I've done it 3 different cities and it took about a week or so. And you're only out water and sewer for like half a day... But that's only of there's sewer at the front of the property. My second bet is that there's no sewer at the top of their driveway. Which sometimes means you have to wait for the city to move out that way but usually means you have to pay for the city to bring to your property from the closest location. And shits not cheap. Some people have to pay per mile for miles. I saw one person get quoted like $60k. And that's only to bring it to your property. To actually hook up can be another $5-25k.
When I first heard about the septic problems I was like surely she has money, yeah? They spend an obscene amount on groceries that don't get eaten. They 100% can afford $5-10k to replace their goddamned septic. A lot of places will even do payment plans.
But if it's going to be $100k... Well I can see that taking a bit of time to work out and maybe the delay makes sense? Does anyone know anything more about it? Was what I was told even correct? Lol. Have they added bedrooms to the house?
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2023.06.07 22:55 Transcendshaman90 Time to ban the Bible as well.
2023.06.07 22:42 catedoge1 Where to get a cheap bed?
I need to get a cheap bed for the guest room. Where does /reddit suggest i take my business? Why are matress stores almost as bad as used car lots....
Thanks, doesnt need to be fancy at all just a basic matress and frame.
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to Spokane [link] [comments]
2023.06.07 22:41 Future_Ad_3485 The Night Squad Files Case Zero: The Meeting of Partners
My fingers drummed on the cold steel table in my specialized prison cell, my daily dose of blood having not been sent to me. A dry thirst burned in my throat, my ruby eyes dilating at the vampire in a cheap business suit plopping down across from me. Playing with my amethyst waves, he traced his slender finger along the nape of his neck. His ruby eyes glistened with excitement, his slicked back ivory hair reminded me of everything I hated about the government.
“Pretty hungry, Morticia Deathbite?” He taunted cruelly, hatred burning in my eyes. “I have a deal for you. The government will exonerate you of all your charges if you agree to become my wife for a mission. There is one catch, you have to let me bite you. Oh forgive my manners. I am Agent Stanton Lifewick, a member of Night Squad. The vampires in the program work to hunt down serial killers that the police can’t seem to get. Will you join me?” Growling through gritted teeth, my inky lips curled into a defiant snarl. Spitting in his face, wicked laughter rumbled in his throat.
“You can rot in hell. You guys put me in this jail cell for only drinking the blood of serial killers. Fuck you.” I retorted venomously, his hands wiping away the spit. “You can leave now, you rotten bastard!” Snatching the collar of my orange jumpsuit, he yanked me close to his face. The corner of his lips twitched with fury, a raw tension thickening between us. Shooting daggers into each other's eyes, my elbow slammed into his face. Crashing back, I sprinted out the door. Red light bathed the concrete halls, a shrill alarm blaring in my ears. Unlocking the other criminals on my way out, the distraction would be my way out. Security guards attempted to stop me, one punch smashing them into the wall. A Cheshire Cat grin spread cheek to cheek at the open gate, my bare feet smashing through. Feeling the pale moonlight on my skin pleased me, Stanton called for me to stop. Flipping him off, I leapt into the trees. Hopping from branch to branch, my heart stopped at him blocking my path. Straightening up, claws extended from my black fingernails. Cracking my neck, he pulled out a gun with holy water soaked wooden bullets.
“I can’t let you escape.” He snapped hotly, a bead of sweat dripping off of his brow. “Join me now or I’ll shoot you.” Putting my hands up in the air as a dare, maniacal laughter burst from my lips. Shrugging my shoulders, he watched me crack my fingers one by one. Leaning forward, something was stopping him. My face fell at the sound of guns clicking underneath me, the sheer amount of agents scaring me. Placing my hands behind my back, my claws receded back into their place.
“Just take me back so I can fucking die.” I grumbled under my breath, Stanton putting his gun away. Leaping closer to me, even my speed wouldn’t allow me to dodge all of their bullets. Standing behind me, his fangs grazed the nape of my neck. His hot breath bathed my neck, the agents’ fingers all ready to shoot me. Too many black suits, I thought irritably to myself. Freedom and blood was all I desired, the bastards stripping both from me.
“Just fucking say yes, you idiot!” He growled huskily in my ear, his hand sliding down the small of my waist. “You get freedom and all the blood you need from me.” His invisible strength threatened to break my back, my body trembling in his hold. Something about it dulled my hatred for him. Concern flashed in his eyes for a moment, tears welling up in my eyes. Peeking into his soul, a white aura surrounded him. Bowing my head in shame, my bangs hid my eyes. Live a life alone in prison or experience life again? Did the world hate me as much as I hated it?
“Fine.” I uttered in with defeat, a sickening dread bubbling in my gut. “You win but you better treat me like one of you. I refuse to be a slave and a prisoner.” Sinking his fangs into my neck, the disgusting sound of him drinking my blood drowned out the agents putting their guns back. Inky bats flew across my breasts, a solid black band forming on his finger. An indescribable bond formed between us, silent tears streaming down my cheeks. This contract reminded me of how my first master used me to kill innocent people for defying the church, his gentle touch scaring me out of my trance.
“Are you okay?” He whispered kindly in my ear, the sudden shift in his personality ringing the alarm bells. “I am going to get you to the car and we will sign a marriage contract to get our license. I don’t bite. Well, unless I have to. I am aware you have been alive since medieval times so the concept of living off your mate’s blood is new. It actually makes you ten times stronger. Imagine that power coursing through you.” Tossing me over his shoulder, he jumped off the branch.
“Operation Get Hitched is a success!” He announced with a warm smile, a tender blush rising to my cheeks. “Go home to your families.” Carrying me to the car, my waves bounced up and down with every step. Sitting me down in the passenger seat of a generic black armored SUV, my hair blew back as he slammed the door shut. Sliding into his seat, he pulled out a pile of papers from the center console. Passing me the pile, I knew the drill. Signing on the dotted lines, a knock stole his breath away. Rolling down the window, a fellow agent stamped the paper. Dropping two velvet boxes into my lap, the papers fluttered in the other agent’s hands. Closing his window, he held my hand up. Opening up the closest box to him, he slid on an onyx band of twisted branches. Grasping the remaining box, my jaw dropped at the matching band. Sliding on his finger shakily, surprise rounded his eyes. Thorns dug into my fingers, his face showing the same fate for him. Sniffing the ring, it reeked of an eternal curse. Fantastic, we were bound together forever.
“Can I ask you a question?” I choked out awkwardly, a warm gaze falling on me. “Why me? I am not the only vampire there. I can think of s-” Putting his finger up in the air, the ring glittered in the pale moonlight. Grabbing my shoulder, any cockiness he had was gone. It almost seemed to be a mask in front of the boys, his private personality seeming naturally sweet.
“I picked you because I saw your beautiful face in a pile of files. Also you are the oldest vampire alive, so that helped. I find you rather amazing. I don’t agree with you killing all those serial killers but you had to eat. Am I right?” He mused tenderly, is crooked grin stopped time as the urge to kiss him dominated my mind. “How about you drink something? I had them starve you for a couple of days. I am sorry about that.” Guiding my head to the nape of his neck, his vein throbbed violently. Biting him now would seal the deal from my side, the scent of a summer day wafted up my nose. Piercing his tender flesh, my pupils enlarged at the first sip, the sweet taste of lemonade coated my throat. Wrapping my arms around his neck, short gasps poured from his lips. Drinking my fill, a satisfied sigh flowed freely from me. He was right, your mate’s blood tasted like nothing else. Scarlet blood stained the corner of his lips, my hands cupping his face. Pressing my lips against his sensually, his arm slid down to the small of my waist. Refusing to let me go, his tongue danced in my mouth. Time stopped, our heartbeats were all I could hear. Releasing him from the spell, he sat back in a daze with a goofy grin. Scarlet burned his cheeks, my impulsive behavior having landed me in some hot water for sure.
“Sorry for that.” I apologized profusely, hoping that he wouldn’t hate me for acting on my inner thoughts. “I get a little impu-” Kissing me back with twice as much passion, my body arched towards him. The seat belt was the only thing that held me back, his heart beating faster than mine. Another knock interrupted him, a flustered Stanton rolled the window down.
“What!” He yelled sharply, the ivory haired female’s ruby eyes flitting between me and him. “Selena, you need to give your older brother privacy.” Her petite five two figure didn’t scream power but boy did her intense color changing aura. Sticking out her tongue, a deeper scarlet colored his cheeks. Blinking a couple of times, she leaned into the car.
“I am Selena Dogood, his baby sister. You must be the infamous Morticia he never stopped talking about. Honestly, he never shut up.” She teased lightly, her short leather dress fluttering in the breeze. “Would you like to h-” Covering her mouth with his hand, a stern gaze shut her offer down.
“I would but I need to get to the hell I am calling suburbia. You know the reason I married her in the first place. They suspect the serial killer is living in that godforsaken town.” He informed her briskly, cursing under his breath. “I might like her a bit. Do you have her clothes? People are going to stare if I bring her out in a prison jumpsuit.” Dropping a silky emerald dress into his lap, a horrendous flashback of the church dressing me in lingerie for special guests to view haunted me. Horrendous slurs had been carved into my skin, the people throwing rotten tomatoes at me. Clutching my chest, a tight embrace snapped me back to reality. Selena put her hands up into the air, walking back to her own SUV. Kissing the top of my head, the nature of our bond made this moment unbearably sweet. His slender six foot seven frame towered over me by a good foot, thus his embrace felt like Heaven. Shaking my head, I shoved him off. Undoing my seat belt, he turned his back as I peeled off the jumpsuit. Tossing it into the back, I tugged on the sweetheart neckline dress. The silk felt soft against my skin, the material a far better cry from the rough cotton of my previous outfit. The straps failed to cover the number the prison had branded me with, my fingers tracing the faint numbers. Not seeing what I did wrong, the people should have applauded me. Furthermore, I needed to eat.
“You look beautiful.” He commented pleasantly, his eyes falling on the numbers branded on my chest. “They didn’t tell me that they did that to the first vampires in prison. I promise to make your life better. Can you cook?” His question threw me off as the engine roared to life, the trees turning into a sea of houses. Rolling my eyes, most of them were close enough to pass a damn cup of sugar through the bathroom window. The ranches nauseated me further, my heart sinking at the car pulling up to a flamingo pink ranch. My face scrunched in disgust, my eyes falling on a red headed woman with piercing blue eyes. Her curls bounced around her shoulders, her ample cleavage hanging out of a tight tank top. Pouting in my direction, something seemed off about her. Perhaps it was because her aura was darker than the bottom of the ocean. Hopping out to the car, his hand ripped open the car door. Sliding on the shoes, a scowl planted itself on her lips.
“Who’s Shirley Temple across the street?” I inquired softly, his eyes rolling. “She seems to like you.” Rolling his eyes, a wicked grin spread cheek to cheek as he rose to his feet. Pinning me to the car, his lips kissed mine hungrily. Time stopped, the sound of the night fading to the background. Releasing me from his spell, her death glare sent chills up my spine. Lifting my finger, he purposely showed off our wedding rings. Glee glittered in his eyes at her obvious bewilderment, he flipped her off on the way into the house. The outside must have been deceptive because all sorts of taxidermy lined the Victorian style wallpaper, the dark wooden bookshelves were lined with first editions of books. Sitting me down on what was his original emerald velvet couch, my hands rubbing the carved bats on the armrest. Crossing my legs, my eyes fell on the coffin coffee table. Laying down, sweet slumber stole me away.
Snapping awake, a flurry of impatient knocks frightened the shit out of me. The bright sunshine blinded me, a fluke in my DNA allowing me not to burn in the sun. Rushing to the door, the redhead from the night before knocked once more. Opening the door, I leaned on the door frame. Horror rounded her eyes at my porcelain skin and black lips, her perfect ass shoving her way in. Following her into an all black kitchen, she called out Stanley. Cocking my brow in response, a messy haired Stanton wandered into the hall. Defiance glittered in his eyes, my eyes taking in the same emerald wallpaper from the living room now lining the hall.
“You are a cockadoody for your disrespectful behavior from last night.” She complained bitterly, her eyes snapping back to me. “Did you find her on an albino dating site? Why haven’t I seen her?” Rubbing his bare muscular chest, he examined her pristine white dress and black sun hat. My heart fluttered at the sight of him, part of me wishing he wouldn’t slick his hair back anymore. A matching branded set of numbers sat on his chest, curiosity twinkling in my eyes.
“Why don’t you leave, Susie?” He asked politely, popping a white tablet into his mouth. “I need you and your husband to leave me alone today.” Narrowing her eyes in his direction, he motioned towards the door. Something seemed off with her, her aura sickening me. Cupping my mouth, he noticed my reaction to her presence. Not only that, the scent of her blood reminded me of a corpse. Walking up next to her, I pushed Stanton out of the way.
“What is your name?” I demanded viciously, folding my arms across my chest. True love lit up in his eyes for the first time, the crack of her slap stunning me into a temporary silence. Her chest huffed up and down, my crazed grin infuriating her further. Pinning me to the wall, I stole the opportunity to peek into her soul. A shadow blocked me from seeing into it, my face falling.
“I am Susan Smith, the leader of the neighborhood watch. I am watching you. I am a black belt by the way.” She warned icily, my unimpressed expression peeving her off further. “What is so funny?” Knowing that she would charge me if I touched her, I cleared my throat.
“Hello to you then.” I chirped cheerfully, turning on my people-friendly smile. “I think you should go now. I work the night shift and you and your creepy neighborhood watch can go fuck yourself. You can keep your hungry eyes off my husband.” Raising her hand to strike me, I caught it mid slap. Lowering it to her side, my grip on her wrist refused to let her go.
“Whatever. My husband is hotter than yours and the mayor of the town. I wouldn’t touch him with a ten foot pole.” She returned haughtily, my fingers letting her go. “We don’t want you Gothic freaks in this perfect little slice of Heaven.” Cocking my brow at her words, it was obvious she liked my husband. A slightly overweight bald man in a pair of khakis and a blue button up shirt stepped out to search for his wife, his chocolate brown eyes falling on us. The name Richard stood out to me, a defiant glow coming over my face.
“He’s hot if slightly overweight and bald with a side of khaki’s is in fashion.” I taunted cruelly, watching her face grow red as the fire hydrant outside. Stomping off, she slammed the door behind her. Dusting off my dress, he pulled me in for a warm embrace. The foot difference made me feel pleasantly small, the feeling of his muscles against my face causing a tender blush to rise to my cheeks. This was an emotion that I haven’t felt in a while, the desire to give in to my nightly urges raged. Pushing him away, I folded my arms across my chest. Hurt dimmed his eyes, his hands running through his hair.
“We don’t have to do any of that until you are ready. We do have to get ready to go to the grocery. I just took my sunblock pill.” He explained happily, turning to walk back into his room. Hugging him from behind, my outcome was to alleviate his hurt. Freezing in his tracks, he spun on his heels. Hiding his wet eyes underneath his hair, he barely responded as I wiped away his tears. Pushing me away, a glass shattered on the worn wooden floor the moment I hit it. Shivering on the floor, I had tried too hard. Rushing into his room, I chased after him.
Fighting the tears, his years in prison had done a number on him. Sliding into the room in the nick of time, he shoved an onyx lace baby doll dress into my arms with a pair of chunky heeled boots. Stomping into the bathroom, he had his outfit hanging off of his arm. Changing quickly, he needed something to cheer him up. Crashing into the kitchen, the bottom of my dress fluttered with each step. Noting the dark roast coffee beans, coffee was the only thing vampires could taste beside blood. Humming to myself, I began the process of making him a latte. Smoothing out my bell sleeves, it was time to add the milk. Pouring the foaming milk into his coffee, he wandered in with a grumpy look on his face. My breath hitched at his black and white striped button up shirt over a pair of black shorts, his worn converses bringing him down to what age we looked like. A silver cross dangled from his left ear, his eyes falling on the apology coffee.
“I am sorry. It has been a long time since someone touched me. It is a tale I will tell you another time. Did you make that for me?” He queried with a tired smile, taking the clear cup in his trembling hands. “Did they teach you how to make this in jail?” Nodding silently, he took a sip. His eyes widened at how tasty it was, the cup was empty in a couple of minutes.
“Are we watching the people at the grocery store?” I questioned shakily, afraid to speak. “Won’t we stand out?” Shaking his head, he ruffled the top of my head. Kissing the top of my head, he offered me his elbow. Hooking mine around his, he guided me out to the car. Helping me in, we were soon heading to the local grocery store. The worn sign flickered against a faded tan facade, the housewives streamed in and out. An irritated Susan rushed past his car.
“We do but I have lived here for months, so they are used to it. If you wore pink it would be more alarming.” He whispered gruffly into my ears, those damn urges coming up again. “Trust me. We are the town freaks anyway with being “albinos”. The air quotes added a sense of humor to the moment, his soft chuckle telling me that he was fine. Helping me out, the wives all waved at him. Jealousy flashed in my eyes, his fingers intertwined with mine. While he received a bunch of smiles, I received death glare after death glare. Bright lights blinded me, the constant conversations caused my ears to pin back. The serial killer could be among these people, the very thought exhilarating.
“This can be a bit much for your first day out of jail. I would have left you at home but our bond won’t allow it.” He assured me sweetly, placing my hands on the cart. Holding me from behind, he rested his chin on my head. Talking for a minute to the butcher, a special symbol on his neck informed me that he was an ally. Susan rolled up next to me, one of her lackeys boxing me in. Leaning on the end of my cart, she cast insult after insult at me. Ignoring her words, a familiar face stole my attention. His wrinkles matched the father’s from back in the medieval times, a pair of sage eyes meeting mine. He smelled human, a Celtic symbol glowed on his neck. Susan waved her hands in front of me, a strained huh escaping my lips. His black priest’s uniform sickened me, clammy sweat soaking my skin.
“Did you hear me!” Susan demanded childishly, holding out an invitation. “This is something we call a book club.” Seconds from crumbling it up, Stanton snatched it from her fingers. Pecking me on the lips, she rolled her eyes in a huff. Father Rowell had disappeared into the crowd, my husband carrying on the conversation for me.
“I have to go to the bathroom!” I blurted out awkwardly, leaping over the carts. Crashing through the people, I skidded to a stop in front of Rowell. Reaching his hand out to me, a bolt of lightning zapped him the moment our skin touched. Clearing his throat, he pointed to the automatic doors.
“Shall we go outside?” He suggested with a sly grin, my ankle failing me at the wrong time. Crashing onto my ass, he snapped his finger. A rotting church towered over us, so many questions rested on the tip of my tongue. One pew remained, the wood groaning as we sat down on it. Why did this feel warmer than before?
“Are you the serial killer, you old man?” I interrogated intensely, his head shaking. Sliding me a Celtic spell book with the proper page open, the spell he was using only required the sacrifice of a lamb. Leaning back, he touched the glowing symbol on his neck. I guess it all added up.
“It’s not me. This damn thing prevents me from killing anyone. I turned it around, I swear. “ He attempted to assure me, my look of disbelief not pleasing him. “I am sorry for using you. You seemed so lost and I was lost by the propaganda they were spreading. The church today is much more honest. I can be a pair of ears for you. Will that help you out?” The church bell rang, the wood quaking underneath my boots, his eyes allowing me to peer into his soul. The white aura was enough to convince me, my hand touching his.
“Besides the killing, you did everything right.” I admitted sheepishly, allowing him to smile subtly. “You found me after one of my bloody massacres and still hid me from the church.” Snow drifted aimlessly, his palm catching a couple of snowflakes. Watching them melt in his palms, he turned to me.
“Do you remember when I found you? Ruby painted the snow but you looked at me with the biggest plea for help. You were but a ten year old child with fangs in my eyes.” He commented in a fatherly tone, both us leaning back to watch the snow fall. Resting our hands on our flat stomachs, he let out a soft chuckle
“I am surprised you helped me after finding out I was the daughter of the first vampire.” I laughed gently, his hand reaching for mine. “I got married yesterday. I am sorry that I went to prison. I must have disappointed you with that tidbit.” Taking my hand, he examined the ring. Snapping his fingers, we were back at the grocery store. Dropping a card into my palm, he shoved his hands into his pocket.
“I came to seek you out. The killer is among your little area I call Hell. Good luck with that marriage.” He called out as he walked to a waiting car, Stanton coming out with a bag of groceries. Peeking into the bag, it was two bags of coffee. Providing the perfect distraction, the contacts amusing me.
“It really looks like we eat.” I joked tenderly, nudging his shoulder. “Can we go home now?” Winking in my direction, his arm curled around my waist. Flipping me the invitation, his next words pissed me off.
“You are going to that book club tomorrow. Play nice and try not to stand out too much. The trick to winning Susie over is through the love of reading. As I recall, you had a cell full of the latest books.” He ordered sharply, rubbing his chin. “I know you read them all. Can you handle that tomorrow?” Whispering something in his ears, a devilish grin spread cheek to cheek.
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2023.06.07 22:36 Sir-Paperbag My Best Friend Is A Deathworlder - Part 46: Honest Day's Work
MBFD Part 46 - Honest Day’s Work
Kro’gnuar lets Fredrick take the lead as the off-world lemurian is definitely the most experienced of the two when it comes to these... ‘pohds
Grabbing his trusty wrench and crowbar from the driver's door, he patiently watches the young man as he studies the charred capsule.
Looking at the blackened exterior, Kro’gnuar thinks that it held up pretty damn well.
Not many star nations could claim that their spacecraft survived an unshielded atmospheric re-entry with so little damage in the first place.
The more technologically sophisticated nations would use typical magneto-shielding to keep the ridiculously hot plasma away from the hull, while the more ... pragmatically inclined nations would simply slap a few layers of ablative heat shielding on there and call it a day.
Not this one though.
The odd, somewhat
egg-like shape of the capsule surely raises a few questions for the reptilian, but Kro’gnuar's mind is preoccupied with something else right now.
Watching from a few paces behind, he tries to read Fredrick’s body-language as the young man stares at the capsule.
Is he happy to see something familiar again, or is he perhaps thinking about possible comrades of his that died during his arrival here on Kavir?
He could also just be lost in thought for a bit, trying to come up with a plan on how to dismantle that thing, or something along those lines.
The fact is, the old warrior simply could not tell. He has a hard time getting a read on him, as Fredrick does not only lack a tail, but his oddly shaped ears are also about as expressionless as possible for a mammal; He has not seen them make even the tiniest twitch in the last few days.
And so, he simply keeps watching the young man, giving him some room for now.
He is just glad to not be alone on a scrap job for once - a little bit of weirdness from his new friend is not going to change that.
<[Got to keep in mind to ask him about that later.]> he reminds himself.
Though, after a while of simply standing there, Kro’gnuar gets a bit concerned and trudges over to the young man, powdery snow crunching satisfyingly under his heavy steps.
“Fredrik?” he asks, his tone perfectly neutral. As always.
The young man flinches from the large hand suddenly poking his shoulder from behind, turning to face Kro’gnuar.
“Ah, sorry. Got lost in think.” he apologizes, brushing part of his mane out of his face and scratching the back of his head.
“No problem.” Kro’gnuar rumbles “You just went quiet for a bit, so I thought I better check if you are alright.” he explains “Are
“Yes, me alright!” Fredrick gives him an energetic thumbs-up and a big smile. “Just think I maybe remember new thing about how arrive here, a few second ago. Was... interesting.” he explains, walk-and-talking with Kro’gnuar to the escape pod.
As they arrive at the still closed hatch, Fredrick turns around and puts his hands behind his back as he gives Kro’gnuar a quick rundown of things.
“Okay, this is typical get-away-capsule. White part is sort of fabric that cover almost everything, black part is actually many, small tile put together for keep hot-hot away from inside.”
Kro’gnuar nods along; that sounds... about right?
Fredrick keeps explaining the general structure of the pod to him, pointing out potentially interesting points and components that he thinks might be more valuable than others, also telling him which areas to better leave alone if they both still want to exist later.
At least, that is what he thinks he tried to tell him; the algorithm is doing a great job at building a completely new database from the ground up, but sometimes those translations are a bit out there.
If he remembers right, the translator's words were “Big boom, not good, very dead. Part of you here, part of you over there. Not good time. Not good idea.”
Apparently, whoever built this thing thought it would be a great, absolutely genius idea to put a bunch of explosives inside
of an escape
Madness. Absolute madness.
Though, according to Fredrick, there is a valid reason for that.
Kro’gnuar highly doubts that.
Thankfully, Fredrick makes remembering all of it a lot easier by actually marking the spots he is talking about on the hull with a marker he took from one of the toolkits, using big circles and a couple of X’s to signify what to scrap and what to better leave alone as he talks about them.
It kind of reminds Kro’gnuar of the inter-cultural lectures he happily attended back on Kamorrha when he was still a strapping young warrior, scales shining brightly and eager to learn everything about those newly discovered and uplifted four-armed mammalians calling themselves ‘Kiroans’.
But that was almost a lifetime ago. Right now, he is making sure to keep everything Fredrick tells him in his mind and his experience is slowly starting to kick in as he starts to see the similarities to the kind of engineering he has gotten used to over time. Soon enough they are both engaged in pleasant technical talk, even exchanging a bit of knowledge here and there as they go over the pod one more time.
“Any more question?” Fredrick asks him after they are done.
“No, that should be everything for now.” Kro’gnuar replies, hefting his heavy-duty circular saw with a bit of anticipation.
“Good luck, then.
” Fredrick tells him in English, slipping inside the pod.
Staying true to their deal from earlier, Kro’gnuar simply lets Fredrick go ham on the inside as he keeps on cutting away parts of the hull to get to the juicy innards, occasionally taking a glance at the various things Fredrick pulls out of the capsule as he happily presents them to the old man.
After seeing the pod in person, he is glad that Fredrick volunteered to take care of the inside. The armored giant doubts that he even would have been able fit inside to begin with, let alone stand upright or do any kind of work in that tin can.
But he has to give it to the people who built this, they certainly knew what they were doing; as he keeps tearing away layer after layer, his respect for their ingenuity keeps growing.
Rarely has he seen such well thought-out layouts and frames, cramped together in such tight spaces.
It seems like everything is there for a good reason.
Kro’gnuar is also starting to have a sneaking suspicion that Fredrick might not have been completely lying to him when he said that his people have managed to go to space, if not without a bit of help.
The letters and glyphs on the parts he is ripping from the capsule’s cold, charred corpse are awfully familiar to those he has seen the young man use to write down words in the past, and he also seems very knowledgeable about its construction.
<[Maybe they were uplifted, after all.]>
<[Could he simply be just too prideful to admit it to him, then? That would certainly be a lot more likely.]>
“Look, I even find new covering! No more have to wear old and damage coverings!” Fredrick cheers as he re-appears from the capsule, showing off a neatly folded stack of various fabrics to Kro’gnuar.
"Good that you found something useful for yourself. Put them in the hatch to the left of the other one, that one should be a lot cleaner.”
He gets back to work and happily scraps away while Fredrick keeps flitting back and forth between the Scraploader and the pod, having his hands full with other things every time he exits the wreck, only stopping twice to take a short break.
The hours start to tick by as they happily scrap and loot to both their heart’s content, completely absorbed in their work respectively.
“I think, my work complete. I have take everything useful from inside, almost nothing left.” Fredrick proudly declares, walking up to him with a tired, but satisfied, smile.
Kro’gnuar grunts in agreement, gesturing at the completely torn apart escape pod with his saw.
“Same for me, except for some small parts that I am not sure of if they would even be worth scrapping.”
“Oh, which part?” Fredrick curiously asks.
“Any kind of electronics or computing components, if this really is as uncommon technology as I think it is, nobody will be able to program them. Not in these parts, at least.”
“Make sense.” Fredrick muses “We go back Kavir-L1, then?” he inquires, eager to head back and get some rest after a long day of good old-fashioned manual labor out in the cold.
Kro'gnuar looks to the horizon, mood souring a little as he spotsthe literal wall
of dark gray clouds in the direction they would be heading.
“Maybe not.” he frowns “Let me check the radar for a moment.”
They both walk over to the Scraploader and Kro’gnuar hands Fredrick his tools.
“Here, take those and put them back. I will go check on the radar.”
Fredrick takes the comically large tools from him and doesn’t even break a sweat as he quickly puts them into their respective spots, closing the hatches and joining Kro’gnuar in the cockpit after he is done.
“So, radar say good thing?” he asks, scooting over to take a look at the slightly scratched-up screen.
Kro’gnuar grumbles, definitely not happy.
“No, the radar did not warn us about that storm front forming up and it has gotten too big by now, I would not want to risk going through there if we do not have to.”
“Aw man.” Fredrick slumps into his seat.
“I agree. This is very irritating.” Kro’gnuar agrees, looking out of the window and back at the screen “I do not know why it did not warn us, a storm this big should have triggered a warning hours
Leaning back into the driver’s seat, Kro’gnuar closes his eyes in an attempt to keep the fire inside of him in check.This would be an incredibly stupid reason to use up one of his last blood-rages.
Taking a deep breath and exhaling through flaring nostrils, he opens his eyes again and turns to Fredrick.
“We will have to spend the night out here.”
“Mhm.” he agrees emotionlessly, simply accepting the fact.
“We will also have to make some preparations, the storm looks to be at least a Five.” he points at the radar screen.
“A Five?” Fredrick asks, trying to guess what that might mean.
“From out of ten. It is a rating we have developed.” he explains, confirming Fredrick’s hunch “Here on Kavir, even a Two can kill you if you do not know what you are doing - it gets extremely cold during a storm out here.”
“Wow.” Fredrick blurts out, both impressed and equally intimidated.
He wonders what rating the storm he endured in his pod might have been.
“A Four can knock vehicles over,” Kro’gnuar continues “a Six is able to damage structures, an Eight will definitely do major damage to anything and a Ten is almsot certain death for everything and everyone topside. Luckily, I have never even heard of a Ten even being seen.”
Fredrick swallows heavily, knowing what tornadoes are able to do back on Earth. He does not want to find out what they are capable of here.
“Okay, so what is have to do?” he asks, trying to be of use.
Kro’gnuar briefly thinks about it, recalling the checklist he made with Dushavee.
“We will have to strap down everything tight on the flatbed and put some debris-covers on the windows. We also have to put some covers on the engine intakes and anchor the vehicle to the ground.”
“I get, what is I supposed do?”
“You can take care of the intakes and the debris-covers, you can find them in the big compartment to the rear. I will go over the flatbed and then anchor us to the ground.” he instructs “And if one gets done before the other-”
“He will help other.” Fredrick finishes the sentence for him, taking things very serious.
“Exactly.” Kro’gnuar nods, his opinion of the odd lemurian steadily increasing.
They both get to work and Fredrick hops out of the cockpit, already feeling the breeze picking up a bit, which might also just be a classic case of placebo.
But it certainly does wonders in keeping him on his toes.
Not wasting any time, he power-walks to the rear and looks for the cargo hatch with the engine covers in them, quickly finding it. He turns the handle and pulls the access door open, taking out the covers and swiftly placing them in their spots, making sure that they are really stuffed in there.
After double- and triple-checking the intakes, he briskly walks back to the rear and takes out the pieces of window-shaped wire mesh, securing them in place with the turn of a few cleverly placed handles.
Kro’gnuar actually helps him with the biggest one, the one for the windshield.
“That should be everything.” Kro’gnuar sighs relieved “Did we forget any cargo boxes?”
Both briefly scan the vicinity of the Scraploader, thankfully finding nothing amiss.
“Good, let usss get inside. There is no use in staying outside any longer.”
“Yeah, I’d bet on that.” Fredrick agrees, thinking aloud in English, definitely not imagining the wind having picked up by now.
He climbs into the Scraploader, firmly closing the door shut with a solid thud.
“And now we wait.” Kro’gnuar sighs, rummaging through a glove box of sorts “Feel free to eat and rest, there is little else we can do right now.” he explains, handing Fredrick a cheap ration “Here, this should be edible for you.”
“Thanks.” Fredrick takes it hesitantly, taking a look at the unmarked silvery plastic wrapper.
Kro’gnuar tears open his own, identical ration, and takes a begrudging bite out of the unshapely brick of nutrients.
“Edible.” he grumbles, chewing on the tasteless lump “Not much more than that.”
Staring at the literal brick of food in his hands, Fredrick thinks back to his time in the military.He ate a lot of similar stuff during those nine months of mandatory service, and boy-oh-boy did his fresh-out-of-uni-self not like those.
With his mind somewhere else, he takes his first apprehensive bite out of it, not really bothered by something like that anymore.
he chuckles, swallowing the paste-y chunk.
“Do you want some water?” Kro’gnuar hands him a metal bottle “It helps wash it down.”
“Sure, thank.” Fredrick accepts it, taking a big sip.
The two men silently sit in the cockpit, both crunching on their dry-ass ration bars and thinking about the many, many things they would rather be doing than waiting out a storm in a cramped cockpit, stuck out in bumfuck nowhere, chewing on a kilo-brick of plaster.
“How long we have wait?” Fredrick breaks the silence, staring at the setting suns on the horizon with a faraway expression.
Kro’gnuar grumbles in thought, looking at the radar as he keeps chewing.
“I would guess somewhere between six and ten hours. That center looks hard to predict.” he points at the screen.
Fredrick doesn’t notice him doing so, though. He is still staring at the sunsets.
“Ten hours...?” Fredrick whines, at which Kro’gnuar simply nods.
“We are going to be here for a while, yes. Does your people have a way of passing time?” the reptilian inquires.
Fredrick lets out a dry laugh, looking back at the old warrior.
“We have many way of pass time - play games, tell story, and so further. I not tired enough for need sleep anway, so we can try few, if want.”
“Good.” Kro’gnuar lets out a deep, satisfied rumble “I have been meaning to ask you a few things.”
Being consistently late is still being consistent, right? :P
Jokes aside, I purposefully posted this one a day late.Last night, right before posting, I gave it my usual once-over and had a sudden flash of inspiration as I read through it, leading to me writing a bit more and delaying it for a day. :9
Reading your comments on the last chapter was a blast, by the way!
Fun science fact #35: The common swift is a bird that can stay aloft for up to ten months without ever landing once - they are even capable of reproducing mid-flight. Their young also enter a state similar to hibernation when their parents leave for up to three days to hunt for food.
Nature, you alright?
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2023.06.07 21:59 crunchatizemythighs Intermittent fasting helped repair my hunger cues and binge eating
I've had a very complicated relationship with food my whole life. Especially when dealing with anxiety and depression, smoking lots of weed, etc., I basically didn't know how to stop eating or resisting my urges. It was like I knew what I was doing was bad but I couldn't stop and then I'd go back to feeling like a piece of shit. I was constantly peckish, always looking forward to my next meal or snack, whatever. I knew at the rate I was going, I would eventually be 300 pounds or dead. Luckily it never got that bad but it still got out of control and I ended up hitting 240.
It's hard having an addiction to something everyone needs because most addictions you can just quit. You can't quit food. But thanks to counting calories and intermittent fasting, I've been able to repair my hunger cues, feel full much faster and understand when I truly need to eat versus when I'm just fiending. Just 2 months of this and I've started leaving food for leftovers, turning down treats, and knowing when to stop- something I've struggled with my ENTIRE life.
Typically I'll eat all my food between 11 AM to 7 PM. Although I'm not too strict with it. Like generally I'll take my last bite around 5 PM. From there, I know I basically just have to wind down and make it to bed and I'll be good. It's been surprisingly easy most days.
SPARKLING WATER has been HUGE in helping me satisfying a craving without consuming calories. I think it's a great tool. I also am a fiend for diet soda and that has helped a lot in my weight loss too, although I understand it's a bit of a polarizing topic.
Most days I skip breakfast for lunch or vice versa. Never been much of a breakfast person, but if I do, I make sure it's just an egg and cheese bagel which clocks in usually only around 410 calories. Still gives me about 1200-1400 calories to work with the rest of the day.
I find dinner is something I just can't skip. It's so important for me to get some calories in the afternoon so that I can make it to bed without feeling cranky. I've noticed though that my portions make me full much faster now. I legit couldn't even eat what I did 2 months ago if I tried, I would probably get sick.
For context, I would easily eat 3000-4000 calories a day no problem without ANY exercise and still be kind of hungry. Now on the off chance I eat 2500 calories in a day, I feel like I'm going to burst. I have NEVER been that guy and it's nice to see.
While fasting is important, counting calories was also instrumental in me being mindful about my eating. Following my hunger cues simply isn't enough as it's important to know what I'm putting in my body before I eat.
I HIGHLY HIGHLY HIGHLY recommend just ripping the bandaid and buying a FOOD SCALE. You hear me? BUY A FOOD SCALE. I have no clue why I put it off for so long. I thought people who used it were being too anal but as someone who cooks a lot of chicken and meats, going off the packaging simply isn't accurate enough. BE THAT PERSON that measures shit. I try to buy foods where the serving size can be gauged easily, but it's not always possible. Food scale was a pretty cheap purchase that helped a lot.
Also buy one of those measuring sets. You can find them for 2-3 bucks at Walmart where it comes with a tablespoon measure and different cup measures. Very helpful for things like mayonnaise or olive oil where the wrong measurement can easily mean an extra 100 calories.
SANDWICHES are a huge part of my diet because there are so many ways to vary it up, counting the calories are very very easy as opposed to something like rices or pastas, and using a panini press has taken it to the next level lol.
All in all, three kitchen appliances have helped a ton and that's been my measuring cups, my food scale and my panini press. Total that's cost me like 30 bucks and it's changed my diet and health completely.
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2023.06.07 21:55 Mrsharris820 Husband, M-52, Hates My Adult Children, M-29 and M-25. Should I leave?
Sorry in advance for the long post. Husband (m, 52) and I (f, 53) have been married for almost 12 years. First marriage for him, no kids. Second marriage for me. I had been in a marriage with a horrible narcissist, and have two boys from that marriage, who at the time were 13 and 17. New husband knew my kids had experienced trauma growing up, witnessing and experiencing verbal and emotional trauma. Both were in therapy and on medication, and at the time he seemed a supportive, loving partner, and stepfather. We were very much in love at the time, and he still remains the love of my life. Over the last 12 years, he has grown to resent both of my boys terribly, and has made it very clear that once they became adults, they should have left the house (he left home at 19, but had very supportive parents). My older son began a battle with addiction at 21, and my younger son has suffered mental health issues over the years. So I’m not saying it’s been easy, but it’s not like he didn’t know these issues were possibly on the horizon, given their childhood. They are currently both home, and now 25 and 29. The 25 year-old is doing okay, working, but a college dropout with seemingly no ambition to leave home. My older one is still struggling, but I take it one day at a time with him. My husband has done nothing over the years but ridicule them both for being non-functioning, and tells me that I am a terrible mother for allowing them to grow into non-functioning adults. I know that I overcompensated and babied both of them because of the trauma that went on in their childhood. I just don’t think I should have to choose between trying to continue to support my children, and my marriage. My husband is so angry and resentful, and he basically is just punishing me now. There is no physical relationship or intimacy, it’s only when he is in a (rare) good mood that we have any relationship at all. Last night I was feeling some peace and serenity, both boys out with their girlfriends, so I made a nice dinner and was playing music while I cooked. He came in and seemed pleasantly surprised to see that I seemed happy. He was upbeat and talkative for a bit, and we enjoyed a lovely dinner together. The moment the subject of one of the boys came up, be began tantruming and stomped off to bed. I reminded him once again that that is very triggering for me, and proceeded to go cry in the living room for two hours. I just don’t know what to do anymore. Marriage counseling is not an option for him, as he believes he is justified in the way he feels. I feel that he just wants me to throw them out of the house and turn my back on them. I’m not sure what his expectation was when we got married, but as someone with no children, I just don’t think he understands. His only frame of reference is what he did at that age, and again he had stable parents with means that could afford to help him. Should I have to choose between my kids and my marriage?
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2023.06.07 21:24 The-Wooden-Beard Walnut King Bed frame
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Upgraded to a douglas king mattress this year. Built my wife and I a live edge walnut frame to go with it. Much nicer than being on the ground while building the frame. submitted by The-Wooden-Beard to woodworking [link] [comments]
2023.06.07 21:23 Sola_Sista_94 Frankenhamster: Part Three (Fanfic)
After retrieving Maga-Z from Kokichi's desk drawer, Kokichi and Himiko snuck over to Miu and Kaede's room. The door was slightly ajar, so they could peek in and see who was inside. Kaede wasn't there, but Miu was. She was on her bed, talking on the phone.
"So, what'cha doin' tonight?" they heard her say in a seductive voice. "Workin' on a car, huh? How about you work on me for a little while, hmmm? Oh, you'd like that, wouldn't you? I know you would." Kokichi and Himiko looked at each other, sticking their tongues out in disgust. They figured she was talking to Kazuichi, her boyfriend that they paired Miu up with. "The twins? Oh, they're doin' alright," Miu said, squeezing her chest. "They're just as...big, and juicy, and bouncy as ever! Hmhmhm!" Kokichi and Himiko rolled their eyes and facepalmed. "I'll see ya tonight," Miu continued. "Can't wa-aaiiit! Byyyeee." She hung up the phone and squealed giddily. She sighed happily as she stood up and walked towards her door. Kokichi and Himiko quickly hid behind the wall and watched her exit her room and bounce away downstairs.
"Wh-What do you think they're going to do tonight?" Himiko asked.
"If we're lucky, kill each other," Kokichi muttered. "Let's go, HimiCocoa Bean! We've got work to do!" He took Himiko's hand in his and led her to Miu's closet, where the elevator to her lab was located. Kokichi flipped the light switch in the closet, which activated the elevator. They descended down and down until they reached Miu's lab. It was filled to the brim with Miu's inventions, both big and small.
"There's so much stuff down here," Himiko said. "Where do we start?"
"Well, we definitely need something with high electrical power," Kokichi said. "Something we can use as a defibrillator."
"A what?" Himiko asked.
"A defibrillator is a device that shoots electrical pulses to the heart to make it start up again," Kokichi explained.
"Ohhh...I understand," Himiko replied. "Well...I don't see anything like that, but maybe those can help us feel more like scientists." Himiko pointed over to some lab coats. Kokichi grinned impishly.
"Nee-heehee...mad scientists, to be more exact!" he said. Together, he and Himiko rushed over to the lab coats and put them on. They also put on some gloves, goggles, and lab boots. "Much better!" Kokichi said. He turned to give Himiko a high five. "Let's get to work, Monkey Buns!"
"Nyeh...you got it, Panta Bear!" Himiko replied. They went off in search to find some type of defibrillator that would help bring Maga-Z back to life.
"Heeey! Maybe that could work!" Kokichi said, pointing to a metal bed with straps on it. "That's the type of bed that Frankenstein's monster lies down on when Doctor Frankenstein revived him, remember?"
"Yeah!" Himiko said. "But...where's all the electrical stuff? Aren't there supposed to be, like...cable wires, or something?" Kokichi looked around him. He noticed that beneath the bed was a circular platform that seemed to detach from the rest of the floor.
"Maybe it has something to do with this?" Kokichi asked, tapping on the platform with his foot. He looked up and noticed a green button. "I bet that lifts the platform!"
"Why would it do that?" Himiko asked. "And where are we even going to find a defib...u...lator, or whatever?" Kokichi was about to shrug, when he suddenly heard a faint rumbling outside. A devious smile spread across his face.
"I think I may have the answer to both your questions, Himiko," he said before rushing over to the green button and pressing it. As he suspected, the platform began lifting up off the ground. It ascended through a circular passageway all the way up to a drafty, dimly-lit room filled with more mechanical devices filled with various buttons and switches, and strange narrow and bubble-shaped tubes that seemed to twist and turn in every direction. A lever labeled "rooftop" stood right next to them.
"What is this place?" Himiko asked.
"It's probably the attic," Kokichi replied, looking around the large room.
"Okay, so the platform takes us up here, but...how are we gonna fire up all these electrical devices?" Himiko wondered. The rumbling sound above them grew even louder. Kokichi smiled at her as he reached for the rooftop lever and pulled it. The roof above them slid open to reveal dark clouds looming over them. They felt the wind pick up and rush wildly through their hair. They could see the clouds sparkle as lightning flickered across them like a switch.
"That's how!" Kokichi answered as another rumble of thunder bellowed above them. He then pointed at a lightning rod on the side of the roof. "See that lightning rod? The lightning will hit it, send the electricity through that cable, and fire up all these devices! Then, after we connect these other electrical cables with the devices and to Maga-Z, we should be able to revive him by turning on the defibrillator power switch!" Himiko felt a rush of excitement course through her veins.
"Nyeh...you think it might work?!" she asked. Kokichi gave her a mischievous smile.
"Only one way to find out," he said. Immediately, Kokichi and Himiko got to work by hooking up the electrical cables to Maga-Z and the devices. The lightning struck the lightning rod and sent volts of electricity flowing through the cable that attached the rod to the electrical devices, causing the room to come to life with mechanical whirring and lights.
"It's working!! It's working!!" Kokichi shouted with glee like a mad scientist as wind rushed through his hair and the storm grew more intense. "We need more lightning!! More!! MORE!!! MWA-HAHAHAHAHAHAHAAAAA!!!" More lightning struck the rod, which gave the electrical devices so much power the lights from the machines flickered as they grew brighter. "YEEESSSSS!!! YEEESSSS!!!" Kokichi shouted. He turned to Himiko. "Now, Himiko...THROW THE SWITCH!!!"
"Yeessss, maaaasteeerrr," Himiko replied in an Igor-like voice. She turned the defibrillator power switch on, which sent large amounts of voltage coursing through the electrical cables to Maga-Z's body. Maga-Z's body contorted, twisting every which way. His body was twitching and writhing violently as the electricity coursed through his dead body.
"Liiiiive...LIIIIIIIIVE!!! YOU MUST LIIIIIIIVE!!!" Kokichi screamed at Maga-Z. The power of the electricity was so intense that the electrical cables attached to Maga-Z's body flew off. "Himiko...relinquish the switch!" Kokichi ordered dramatically.
"Yeeeessss, maaaasteeeerrrr," Himiko said with a bow and turned off the defibrillator power switch. As she did, the storm above subsided, with only a gentle breeze now blowing with the occasional rumble of thunder in the dark clouds above. Kokichi and Himiko lifted their goggles to see the results. Maga-Z laid there, still and silent. They waited for a few more seconds, waiting for the little hamster to awaken, but he remained unresponsive. They slumped their shoulders with disappointment.
"Nyeh...maybe it didn't work,' Himiko whispered softly.
"Crap," Kokichi muttered. They were about to call it quits, when suddenly, they heard tiny squeaking. Their eyes flickered with excitement as they saw Maga-Z spring back to life and rub his face with his tiny paws.
"MWA-HAHAHAHAHAAAA!!! IT'S ALIVE!!!" Kokichi laughed maniacally. "IT'S ALIIIIIVE!!!"
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2023.06.07 21:22 KeeganTroye [Event] The State of Rwanda 2024-2026
Rwandan Statistics Refugees
2024 – 132,305
2026 – 182 231
Due to pledged Rwandan support and increased hostilities in the Kivu region, as well as issues in Burundi stemming from tensions between the governments of Rwanda and Burundi resulting in lowered service delivery in Burundi there was an increase of 49,926 refugees into Rwanda.
2024 – 421 MW
2026 – 515 MW
2025 saw large gains in power predominantly from the diverting of energy from the Rusizi III Hydropower dam from the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Burundi but further energy production improvements were limited with long-term energy plans aimed further ahead.
% of Agriculture
2024 – 75% non-productive subsistence farming
2026 – 71% non-productive subsistence farming
Current non-aggressive policies have proven ineffective at reducing subsistence farming.
- Peat to Methane Power Renovations enter their final year– as the existing infrastructure is already in place and the technology is well developed and inexpensive estimates put completion by Q1 2027.
- North Akanyaru Peat-Fired Power Plant broke ground in late 2024 under development by the Punj Lloyd Group (PLG) since then construction has moved forward sporadically due to intermittent funding over concerns between Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Construction is once again moving forward and should be operational by Q2 2028.
- More successfully the Bugarama Natural Gas Power Plant has received positive private investment reaching 30% completion it will be a landmark in independent energy for Rwanda and Africa as a continent.
- The Kigali Electrification Plan which started off slowly has sped up dramatically as more and more infrastructure and local logistics chains have expanded with the growing demand. Government has maintained current investment and electrification as of Q1 2026 is at a very impressive 34% of public transport, mostly due to the growing confidence in Rwandan power distribution.
- After one year since full construction has moved ahead on the Green City Kigali project the challenges on what is not just an African first but a field lacking even internationally has led to hiccups delaying the completion of the project to 2030. Foreign and tourist interest has renewed government confidence to build two more simultaneous expansions at half the size of the main project due to be completed by 2033.
- The second and final phase of the Kigali Urban Transport Improvement (KUTI) aims to finish construction by Q4 2026 as the city has seen a heavy infrastructure overhaul to both support the electrification of public transport and also push toward non-motorized transport facilities through various international charities aiming to distribute bicycles to the poor.
- With funding from Libertad Ventures the Tanzania-Rwanda Isaka–Kigali Standard Gauge Railway began construction in late 2024– the standard gauge rail which is planned to stretch from the inland container depot at Isaka, in the Kahama Rural District of Shinyaga Region Tanzania for 571 kilometers through Rusumo and ending finally in Kigali. Time to completion remains on track for four years of construction putting the project at halfway to completion.
- With the upgrades to nearly a dozen hospitals around the country to improve access to to teaching facilities and spur the creation of healthcare professionals under the National Strategy for Health Professions Development (2030) the government managed to hit all targets on overhauling the medical facilities and with foreign Chinese funding providing the necessary equipment and technical training for local staff. The Minister of Health Dr Daniel Ngamije instituted a new educational programme for nurses and doctors to pursue part-time studies of healthcare fields– pointing out the difficulty in developing nations to dedicate the years of study without the financial support in more developed nations this programme has been designed to allow and support Rwandans in their efforts to financially support their educations.
- Included in these upgrades is the renovation of the Masaka District Hospital in cooperation with Rwanda’s Chinese allies the hospital has finally opened its doors tripling in beds it can now more fully service the community with the introduction of various specialities in the hospital. The government has already asked the People’s Republic of China to consider a second renovation to the hospital with the goal of adding an additional 700 beds and providing state-of-the-art medical technology that will make Rwanda a regional center for medical treatment in Africa.
- The MIDIMAR Agriculture Cooperative reached 90% penetration in refugee camps across the country bringing these refugees into a government-sponsored assistance programme– this has allowed these small agricultural holdings and livestock to use modern techniques and development to evolve beyond subsistence for those involved. Magofarms and Eza Neza Ltd two start-ups engaged in proof-of-concept work in the refugee communities have now begun scaling up development on a national scale.
- Through the start-up grants offered by MIDIMAR and the UN Environment Programme’s Share the Road Initiative and the Global Green Growth Institute multiple local companies have begun producing Recycled Bicycle companies using plastic waste to provide cheap biodegradable bicycles to the various refugee camps with companies moving to production in Kigali to service the poor with transportation in conjunction with the Kigali Urban Transport Improvement projects success at providing safe non-motorized road access for the city.
- The RZipper National Drone Delivery Partnership has been a massive success in urban areas providing fast and affordable deliveries without relying on and tearing down local road infrastructure with heavy delivery vehicles– the second generation of ZipLine drones are more economical and nearly silent and the addition of the Rwandan surveillance system which has been controversial has proven to be invaluable to law enforcement agencies who have begun integrating the constant air surveillance into their everyday use. Viebeg Medical has provided their logistical artificial intelligence framework services in conjunction with RZipper’s medical contracts keeping costs low and medicine and medical technology constantly up-to-date and stocked as necessary reducing overhead immensely.
- Pushing forward the new Safe-At-Night Initiative, Inspector General Dan Munyuza announced that it is now a national priority to ensure Kigali is the safest nation in Africa addressing crime and inequality in a fair but just practice. The Safe-At-Night Initiative would see a reorganization from the ground up on Rwanda’s approach to crime starting with investment in the Ruhengeri National Police College to add a further development programme that would be required all officers ranked at Captain or higher excluding Senior Management to undergo a one-year advanced training course to be developed in conjunction with Rwanda’s international allies– the course will focus on community engagement, corruption, internal management, and public perception. The police force will be expanded by 25% of its current pre-reorganization manpower with 10% of officers to be moved to Social And Welfare Services as joint coordination officers with both the police department and Social and Welfare. As a pilot project various departments in Kigali will be receiving non-optional body cameras for non-commissioned officers equaling roughly 30% of the police force in Kigali. All electric public transport will be equipped with new security observation equipment and a new surveillance task force will be created to more efficiently monitor the new systems.
- In the agriculture industry Minister Ildephonse Musafiri has announced that following the success of the MIDMAR Agriculture Cooperative the government will be implementing a National Agriculture Cooperative (NAC) that will be slowly phased in over the following year wherein all private agriculture projects not registered as commercial entities will be placed under local government cooperatives to incorporate these entities into the nation’s GDP and provide support to scale the operations above unproductive subsistence-level farms which currently accounts for 75% of agricultural production
- With the added funding from Libertad Ventures for the Tanzania-Rwanda Isaka–Kigali Standard Gauge Railway, Rwanda will pursue former independent financing options for the Kigali-Rubavu Extension that will allow future expansion into the Eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo should relationships improve. In addition to improve infrastructure capabilities in the area an RZipper Depo facility will be built to assist with humanitarian aid given the highly unstable nature of the area.
Elections The 2024 elections for Rwanda concluded on October 12th at the 23rd Rwandese Patriotic Front congress where President Kagame earned 96.4% of the vote being elected for his fourth term as President elect of Rwanda-- Kagame who has served as President for nearly thirty years spoke to his party following the confirmation of his elections and stating that this will be his last term. Kagame had already spoken that he did not intend to be ruler-for-life when congress voted to allow the president to run for a fourth term in 2017.
submitted by KeeganTroye
to Geosim [link] [comments]
2023.06.07 21:20 chko Can I refinish this?
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The dogs has scratched up the bed frame over the years. Is it possible to sand and refinish just this part? If so what stain/finish should I choose? submitted by chko to BeginnerWoodWorking [link] [comments]
2023.06.07 21:17 SouthParkiscool I dreamed an entire lifetime... I've never felt so empty and afraid
Last month, I was driving along the highway, coming back from a trip to my grandpa's house. I can't remember the exact second, but as I was driving, apparently a truck collided with my car and I was knocked unconscious. While I was out, I fell into a dream. One that will stick with me.
I need to type as many details as possible, so here's every single thing I remember.
I was a 7 year old boy, living in New Jersey rather than my real world home state of Massachusetts. My parents would drop me off at a school I never went to in the real world, and I would play with friends I never met.
2024 and 2025 were calm, upbeat years for me. I didn't care much for world events, so I barely paid attention to the news. It was just my toys, Disney Plus, and my friends, Josh, Emily, and Ryan. We played war and crime themed video games and watched hilarious videos on social media.
2026, however, was when things took a bit of a downturn. In March, my friend, Josh, died in a car accident, and they noticed his eyeballs were missing from their sockets after the wreck. I was shown a picture for god knows what reason, and I teared up as I saw my friend's red eye sockets and lifeless face.
That night, I kept my bedroom light on. I don't know exactly what time it was when this happened, but I was lying on my back, staring at the wall when a pair of black pants popped up out of nowhere at the foot of my bed. Sidetracked, I looked up and saw a rusted face. The thing, whatever I saw, vanished as I made eye contact with it. My heart dropped and I called for my Mom.
I chalked it up to the thing having been a ghost. I brought it up to my friends, Ryan and Emily, the next day. Emily told me she was in the car behind the one Josh was in, and saw a man with a rusted-looking face running towards the car, but for some reason she doesn't remember what happened next. Chills ran down my spine as I realized the man was real.
Together, my friends and I decided he was a ghost we needed to avoid. This pact made me feel less alone, and being as afraid of the ghost as I was, decided to never break it.
I slept under my covers to avoid seeing him, and I didn't see him again until the trip I took to Canada's Wonderland that summer. I was riding the Leviathan when I swore I saw a man a few rows ahead of where I sat, with a rust-coloured neck. The adrenaline I felt riding the coaster turned to panic. Time slowed and I wanted off the ride.
This man stole my friend's eyes and was probably after mine too. Once I was off the roller coaster, I looked around frantically for him. I managed to catch him walking into a bathroom. Was he following me? I begged my Mom to take me home as soon as possible.
My friends and I decided to go hunting for the man one day. I think before the end of August 2026. We walked into a nearby forest and waited for an hour. We didn't know where he came from, but Emily pointed out he was around at times we felt the most emotional, and we were telling each other how scared we were of him, which had to count.
Fortunately, he didn't show up. I was overwhelmed with chills, and told the two I didn't want to search for the rusted man anymore, and began walking home.
2027 and 2028 were my preteen years. I took my mind off of the rusted man by focusing on my favourite shows and musical artists. For the sake of getting all the details down, I watched a lot of Simpsons, Gumball, and this show called Camedon that went viral in 2027. The music I listened to was a rapper named Pestilence 40 and a pop singer named Rhonda Miller. In the Spring of 2028, I realized I was Asexual and Aromantic, meaning I didn't feel a sense of attraction towards anybody.
I spent a lot of time researching my favourite things while I'd overhear my parents freak out over a war that involved China. I have a hard time remembering anything more about said war.
The next time I saw the rusted man was shortly after I turned 13 in 2029. I was going through the pictures of my trip to Chicago, and, at the bottom of my camera roll, there was a picture of his face. I jumped.
When did that happen?
I went into the photo's details tab and found out it was dated February 5, 1950. Odd, considering there's no way the phone I was using was manufactured anytime around that year, but I sent it to my friends. Both of them responded by telling me the image was coming up blank. I went back to my Gallary, intenting to study the image closely, but it was gone.
A lot of the time after that were just casual memories of being dropped off at school, playing GTA 6 with friends, watching my favorite shows, listening to my favourite music, and joking about Secret Wars on Reddit and a viral app called BL. Nothing much about the man...
That is, until sometime in 2032, when I saw him walk by my bedroom window while I was right in the middle of a depressive episode. The chills I felt were one of the four emotional highs I felt that year. For the rest of the year, and for a lot of the following year, I felt numb, anxious, and mentally vacant. I barely cared about anything. Not even the man, or the flu epidemic going on at the time.
My friends were going through the same thing, so we exchanged affirmations and shared quotes from singers who were part of an indie wave trying to bring music back to its Billie Eilish phase. I was pretty much over the man at that point. I cared so much less about him, I considered seeking him out to let him kill me. I didn't think I was going to make it to 2034 anyway... so, why not?
Then in 2033, my depression began to lift, and I started to dread the thought of him again. I started drawing pictures of him and posted them on BL. Over the course of months, I gained a following who claimed to have seen him too. Some told me they saw him in their dreams, some told me they spotted him in a crowd, and others saw him in the window of a house they happened to be driving or walking by. Then there were a few people who told me they saw him running across roads and ripping eyeballs out of the heads of homeless people. By the end of the year, I had 10,000 followers.
In 2034, articles were being published about him. He became one of those big internet mysteries with dozens of videos and posts revolving around him and his actions, with some specific autobiographical drawings of mine being used as artistic renditions.
Some people made and posted highly vivid AI generated videos of him performing various tasks like midnight break-ins, murders, and to be jokingly relatable, cooking and cleaning. The videos looked like big budget movies, and, as I watched each of them, I got a deeper sense of dread. I avoided watching the videos altogether, as they began to scare the living shit out of me.
There was a popular form of technology at the time that let people share thoughts and feelings with others. Aside from, joking around with my friends, I used it to let people feel exactly how I felt during my encounters with him. I told them I hoped we'd get to a point where we'd be able to share memories with others, in order to give them the full observer experience.
In the fall of 2036, the FBI announced they were on the case of the rusted man after a string of murders across the US left victims without their eyeballs. I was overwhelmed with chills as I read the announcement. It was official confirmation of the rusted man's existence. I called the police, reporting my encounters with the rusted man. They told me they'd keep a look out for him.
Throughout 2037, 2038, and 2039, I'd hear reports about more victims being robbed of their eyes, yet no official photos or video of the rusted man ever surfaced. There were dozens of fakes all over the internet that were debunked, and I just wanted an official one. At the same time, however, I wanted it to be a hoax. I wanted it to turn out the man with a rusted face was just a murderer trying to become notorious by cosplaying an internet legend. I distracted myself from the whole fiasco by keeping up with the mission to Mars.
In 2040, the lack of photo and video evidence of the rusted man began to bug me. That was until that summer, when something was found. The FBI released security cam footage showing a man with a rust coloured face beating a police officer in a parking lot. His face resembled a mask, but looked organic at the same time. It was him. I knew it in my gut. Comments from other victims commented the same.
"That's him! I can't believe it took this long to get official footage of him."
"Yep. Definitely him. Right down to his eyes. I feel cold watching that."
"Yes, that is the man who stalked me when I was 7."
I too felt cold watching it. I deleted it from my search history and closed all my blinds. He was real. It was confirmed. I knew needed to hide away, even though I hadn't seen the man since I was 13. My friends told me they felt the same way.
The early 2040s were full of fear and doing as many things from home as possible. I made most of my money from making videos about music and movies. Occasionally, I'd make a video about the man, but only whenever he hit the news. I decided to share part of my revenue with my friends so they didn't need to go out as much and risk another encounter with the man. Luckily, most people just ordered food online anyway, which solved the hunger thing.
Sharing revenue with my friends became more important amidst a recession I only barely remember taking place in 2041 through 2043.
I began to go outside more in late 2043/early 2044. The man hadn't been in the news for a year, so I joked the FBI had caught him and found out he was an alien. It found it weird he was only reported in Canada and the US. Maybe it wasn't so weird in actuality, but it was as if something was missing. Like he was present in other places, but no reports had gotten out. I chalked it up to a random assumption and went along with my days.
In the summer of 2044, I discovered a conspiracy forum dedicated to the rusted man. I can remember some of the post titles quite vividly.
"The 'Rusted Man': what is his face really made of?"
"Is the Rusted Man the Last Resort for the US Government on Homelessness?"
"DNA CONNECTS THE RUSTED MAN TO DINAH CORTEZ"
I got out of that forum right away and blocked it from my search results. There was no reason to read any of that bologna...
Throughout 2045, Pop singers would insert references to the rusted man into their promotional music videos, but they usually either butchered him, had him get arrested, or portrayed him as a metaphor for the singer's own mental health issues.
While I was glad he was getting attention, I kinda regretted giving him so much coverage, as it meant I had to hear about him everywhere all the time. I brought it up to Emily.
"Yeah, but, I feel the same way," she said. "I sometimes wish I could hit a button and give everyone amnesia for a week."
While I kept hearing about him, I sure as hell hadn't seen him for a while. I thought I was free of him. Maybe he just left me alone... Maybe he leaves certain people alone after teasing them for a bit...
I was wrong. On one especially sunny afternoon in September 2045, I was jogging along the sidewalk on a road not too far from where I lived. I couldn't help but notice the sky looked like a painting. A really good one at that. As I stared up at the oddity, I bumped into somebody. My face colliding with theirs. Their complexion was odd. It was rough and almost felt like duct tape at the same time. I looked at him and told him I was sorry, but that's when I saw his face.
It was him. The fucking man with the fucking rusted out face. I went cold and felt I needed to force myself to step backwards. When I did, the man let out a chilling shriek. It sounded metallic, but like the climax of a sneeze at the same time. He stared into my eyes, which began to tingle. My heart dropped and I broke the stare, turning around and sprinting along the sidewalk.
Once I got home, I shut all my curtains, reported the man to the police, and texted my friends about the encounter. All I could think was, how long do I have to go through this? At least I was 29 years old, so people would believe it when I say it happened to me. I wasn't a kid anymore, but even then, I wished the rusted man was nothing more than a normal childhood hallucination.
I went to my doctor for my eyes, just to make sure they were alright. He found an odd transparent substance under each of my eyelids and referred me to a specialist. Some tests were done and I was told substance was the same one found in every crime scene involving the rusted man. They concluded I needed to be quarantined in my home for upwards of 20 years. I'm not kidding. That was the protocol.
During quarantine, the man never showed up at, or in, my house. I could only wonder what he was doing other than probably killing somebody. I dreaded the idea of him showing up. I had nightmares once a week... other than that, I still had access to the internet, so I watched as society developed while I was unable to go outside.
A political uprising happened in favour of conservatism in 2046, which was met with equal push from the liberal side due to proclaimations of violence towards those that wanted science to be taught in school.
In 2050, Russia collapsed and fell into a civil war, but was avenged by China and India.
By 2053, we were able to use MRI-like devices to project imagined images onto a screen. I ordered one for $100 and used it to recreate my memories of the rusted man and share them online. They were chilling to look at, so I considered not opening them for a while.
In 2056, a major cyberattack brought down various websites. Luckily, no archival sites were taken down.
Personally I just spent the years making content and building a fanbase that sent me emails all the time. The switch from foldable phones to perfectly flexible phones in the late 40s was fun. The phasing out of laptops due to phones becoming ever more useful was welcome.
Things were pretty normal for that stretch of time, aside from the quarantining. I got pretty used to it though, and developed a habit of jogging on the spot for exercise.
Throughout the 2050s, the rusted man made the news once a month. Throughout the early 2060s, he was making the news once a week. This I wanted to look at the news less often, but I had to because it was important. It didn't matter how dreadful the increased volume of attacks was.
Throughout the mid 2060s, reports came out about him destroying AIs, possibly because he didn't have high tech glasses that identified AIs as one of its features, so he likely thought they were human. This led to an upping of security around AIs and advancements in their security protocols. By 2067, a report came out stating less AIs were getting attacked by him.
The man spent the rest of the 2060s and the beginning of the 2070s continuing his murder spree without much to be discovered about him. He was still an unsolved mystery, and had become one of the most notorious figures of the 21st Century.
In 2071, reports about the rusted man's eye thieving became daily and worldwide. Major news talking heads began pushing the idea the rusted man is an alien who could attack a major celebrity or politician. Or course, celebrities and politicians upped their security ten-fold during the mid-2060s due to the weekly attacks, so nothing could go wrong, right?
That's what I thought, until May 2073, when a famous rapper named Fenny DON was found dead, inside his Atlanta mansion, without both his eyes. The security cameras caught the rusted man popping out of nowhere (in a very specific way that's difficult to explain. Either way, I went cold watching it,) restraining the rapper to their bed, removing their eyes, then vigorously ripping their brain out of their head. It was mortifying, and many people said they refuse to watch it, recreate it, share it, etc, but everybody had to have seen the screen shot of the man standing in the rapper's bedroom one second after appearing out of thin air. It was shared all over the internet for months. The video itself was proof this guy could teleport and move objects telekinetically.
The Pentagon released a report soon after, which included speculation about the rusted man's intentions. It was thought the rusted man was after people's eyes because they are impossible to reproduce alone and nothing beats them in terms of perception.
That wasn't the only thing I was wondering, however.
"Why he needs them is still very unknown and multiple theories so far haven't passed the merit test."
There it was. It needed to be figured out soon, because I wanted to know. I anticipated the day the truth came to be known. I needed the damn closure so bad.
In March 2074, I started to thinking of my life as wasted by the rusted man and my fear of him. I was 59 and rotting from the inside out. I didn't open up to my friends about it until I started slipping into a depression in May, despite my quarantine having just ended. That was when my friends told me the most assuring thing they could.
"Remember the little things, and we're here for you," Emily said.
"Yeah, all we can do now is whatever we want to do, because we're probably going to be killed at some point anyway," Ryan said.
It was cliche, but true. The emptiness lingered on through mid 2075, then it sorta lifted. Maybe I was desensitized, but at least I had my friends and the emotionally cathartic shows I was watching.
By the end of that year, I was thinking of upping my dosage of anti-depressants. Emily, Ryan, and I, were hanging out a lot more to make each other happier in spite of our emptiness and fear the rusted man would barge into our homes, randomly appear on the foot of our beds, or chase us down a road. And it was working. On December 29th, I felt the emptiness lift. Who needed pills? We just needed to stick together, like we always had. Emily suggested covering our heads to confuse the man, but I pointed out we'd need to know when he would arrive. We can't wear bags on our heads forever.
"We'll figure something out," Emily said.
In mid April 2076, I was eating dinner when I started hearing a loud rushing water-like sound coming from outside. I went outside to check out what was going on, but I couldn't find the source. I watched as my next door neighbor walked out onto their front porch, then the neighbor directly across the street stepped onto their porch, both of them looked up at the sky with looks of confusion.
I checked the news later on to find the sound was being reported all over Canada, all over the US, in the UK, Australia, Spain, Japan, South Africa, Chile... then pretty much everywhere else. The entire world was hearing this thing. The noise went on for days, then weeks, comments under articles were mixed about the sound. Some thought it was annoying, others enjoyed its fuzzyness. Both Emily and Ryan both told me they thought it was ear-piercingly horrible. Comedians joked about aliens, and NASA started to theorize it was actually extraterrestrial in nature. The sound finally faded in June 2076, and Emily, Ryan, and dozens of people across the internet expressed their relief.
Around August 10, 2076, I was mowing my lawn when I noticed him standing across the street from my house. The rusted man. He stared my way, not moving an inch. As he stared sinisterly into my soul, I was overwhelmed with chills. But that wasn't it. I noticed something off about the my surroundings. The trees, bushes, grass, were no longer moving in the wind. The man even looked static himself. I couldn't help but stare at the oddity. Everything that should've been moving just seemed so two-dimensional all of a sudden.
I pulled my digital glasses out of my pocket and attempted to call the police, but the numbers weren't in the right order. Attempting to dial 9-1-1 brought up a different combination of three numbers each time.
I sprinted back inside and shut all the curtains again, except for the ones in the kitchen, as they refused to move when I tried to shut them.
Over the following week, the fleeting rushing sound returned to the sky. This time, it sounded familiar. Not just because I heard it for two months straight not too long before. It seemed as if I had always known that sound. I realized it more and more as the weeks went on. In early September 2076, I went to the Museum. On my way to there, I noticed the trees were still static and fake looking. I tried my best to not even think about them, but rather on the technology of the early 21st Century.
When my phone decided to work, I texted Emily. Apparently, I had missed 20 messages from her, but I was too freaked out about my surroundings.
"Does anything seem off about the trees?" I asked.
"No? They look fine to me," Emily responded.
"They look fake all of a sudden. The grass too," I said. "Also, I feel like I've heard The Buzzy Static long before this year, and sometimes my phone looks off, which is why I missed your messages."
"Have you told your doctor about this?" she asked.
I hadn't, but I decided to make an appointment. On the day of the appointment, my doctor immediately diagnosed me with Schizophrenia, but I knew there was more to what I was experiencing. The day after my visit to the doctor, Emily and Ryan came over. I showed them the trees across the street and the grass on my lawn. I told them how fake it looked to me. They told me it all looked normal. They didn't notice anything unusual like I did, which only made my obsession deeper. I looked around at everything for a while. My friends tried to convince me to do stuff with them, but I refused. Eventually, they left, and I stood there, trying to make sense of what I was seeing.
Every day, I stood in my front yard for two hours, looking at the trees, bushes, and grass. In late September, the Buzzy Static began to feel more localized to my heart, and I could hear a subtle wooshing along with the buzzing. It too came from the sky.
By mid October, the sound dissipated, but the ambient noise was still going strong. People would walk past my house like there was no sound coming from the sky at all. On October 15, 2076, I stood on my front lawn, listening to the wooshing noise, and watching the trees cease to convince me they were normal. Then, the wooshing sounded localized to my lawn, and then it hit me.
None of this is real.
Suddenly, I immediately alternated from standing to laying down on my lawn without having moved a muscle. I was staring up at the sky, which was getting brighter. I could feel my heart beating. I began to hyperventilate, as this was new to me.
Where the hell am I going?
I looked at the unrealistic trees, then everything went blurry. Pain erupted in my chest, then I was lying on a stretcher. I wanted to move, but I was in shock.
What the... hell...? What's happening right now?
Then I remembered my life. My real life. Then the drive... The crash... I fished my phone out and looked at the date. May 23rd. I checked the calendar for the year. It was 2023. I was overcome with a heavy feeling of sadness. I thought I had spent 53 years being friends with two amazing people, but I was really just... unconscious for a short time?
I can't stop thinking about Emily and Ryan. The whole thing about the rusted man was crazy, but some things will never make sense. Last Thursday, I was sweeping my room, still feeling like I had lost real friends, when I turned around to sweep near the door and saw... the rusted man standing right outside my room. I went cold. It was really him... that rust coloured face... those eyes... I thought I was hallucinating at first. I knew I wasn't dreaming though, as you know when you're awake when you're dead awake. The rusted man lunged at me, and, before I could react, I was being tackled to the ground.
This isn't a hallucination at all... Fuck. Fuck. Fuck.
Dread overcame me as I struggled. Pain shot up through my back. At some point, I managed to get him off of me, then I sprinted into the living room and out the back door. I didn't have my phone with me, so I couldn't call the police. I looked back and saw the man's silhouette in the door frame. He lunged at me through the dark of the night. My heart sunk and I sprinted away, but tripped and fell face first onto the grass. Not a second later, I felt a painful thump.
I woke up in the hospital with that unexplainable liquid under my eyelids. The liquid I had in the same spot in the dream. My heart sank even further. Great... The doctors told me I'd be going in for testing, and asked me what happened. I told them, describing the man to them as well, but in a plausible way.
"He probably had face paint on or something. Something that made his face look like rusty metal."
Later that day, one of the doctors told me my tests have been scheduled for the 9th.
Just yestarday, I heard Emily's voice in a dream, but she was nowhere to be seen. I woke up with tears streaming down my face, wondering why the rusted man had to be real, but not the two people who were always there for me, or the other victims of the man himself.
My curtains have been shut for days now, I've informed my neighbors of the madman, and the police told me they're still on the lookout. All I want to know is who this man is, what he wants with my eyes, how much longer I'm going to live with him stalking me, and how dreaming truly works.
submitted by SouthParkiscool
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2023.06.07 21:13 Future_Ad_3485 Valley of the Unknown Part Twenty-Six: A Bittersweet Ending
Ember played with the boys on the floor, their hands reaching for him. Pouring over the files of the latest security breach on our magical borders, my eyes fell on Alex playing with his new friends outside. Waving at me, Jack embraced me from behind. Kissing the top of my head, it felt as if something big was going to happen today. A tender blush rose to my cheeks, my hand cupping his face.
“We need to raid an outpost today. Hopefully we can get information on the main headquarters.” He informed me warmly, biting my neck. Drinking his fill, my crippling anxiety stole any joy it normally would have given me. Missions like these frightened me, every cell in me wanted to turn into a raven and fly away for the day. Finishing up his breakfast, he set down an armored filled dress with leggings. Salford whispered something in his ear, sliding him a pair of car keys. Rising to my feet, I took my new outfit to our bedroom. Changing quickly, the dress felt heavy on my frame, the leggings seemed to be lined with chain mail. Pulling my hair into a ponytail, I ran into Jack on the way out. Embracing me lovingly, the keys dangled off of his fingers. Feeling his simple black suit, a light armor lined it. Chewing on my lips, our friends waited for us in matching black armor.
“We are ready to go.” Raven announced proudly, my eyes falling on Salford. “Salford said that he was going to watch the boys.” Adjusting their backpacks, weapons clanged in their bags. Guilt gnawed at me, the concept of putting them in danger sickening. My lips parted in protest, Raven raising her finger.
“We are coming. Those bastards killed my family and they are going to pay.” She asserted firmly, pulling her hair into a ponytail. “Besides, I want to back my friend up.” A deep sadness haunted her eyes, my hands cupping hers. A gentle but broken smile dimmed her features, silent tears staining her cheeks.
“I appreciate it and I apologize for not being there to stop it. I ruined everyone’s life by not being there.” I choked out shamefully, bowing my head. “I failed you and everyone else. I will make it up to you guys, I fucking promise you that.” Grabbing my shoulder, her other hand lifted up my chin.
“You were busy doing your own shit. I heard you showed up, girl!” She chatted pleasantly, my shaking fingers wiping away her tears. “You have a place where humans and monsters get along with ease. Have you been sleeping? You look like hell.” A deadpan expression appeared on my face, her last comment ticking me off slightly. Brushing it off, Jack cleared his throat. Placing me on his back, he carried me to a delivery van. Hopping off of his back, I let myself in. The Tainsworth twins sat in the front with their armor on, Raven climbing in with Ruby. Messing with her curls, Raven basically sat on top of her. Adjusting my bell sleeves, the leather hugged my slender arms. Oppressive silence hung between us, Ruby refusing to look at me. Folding her arms across her chest, something needed to be said. Choosing not to say it, the time passed horribly slow. The van screeched to a halt, Jack pulling me into a hidden compartment. The door squeaked open, heavy footfalls echoed in the back.
“Who are you?” A gruff voice demanded, Ruby speaking up. Clearing her throat, her voice tone seemed rather bitter.
“We wish to join your ranks. I can’t stand vampires, especially their fucking queen. She could die for all I care.” She snapped hotly, truth oozing from her words. “She is hiding somewhere in this van.” Horror rounded our eyes, her betrayal striking us in the heart.” Opening the compartment hiding us, she took a step back. The hunters slapped handcuffs on us all, Ruby grinning evilly ear to ear. Wicked laughter rumbled in her throat, her head cocking back.
“I have been working with them the entire time. There is no information, just the home of your executions.” She gloated sensually, the twins cursing in her direction. “I am not even a teenager. I am a witch who has been alive for centuries. Can I tell you a secret? I am the leader of the hunters. Everyone else was just a puppet.” Sighing with satisfaction, she circled us. Tears welled up in my eyes, Raven sobbed softly next to me. Pulling a gun from her pocket, Ruby shot her in the head. Time slowed, the twins crying out. Emptying her gun into them, a broken wail burst from my lips. Their bodies dropped forward, ruby dripping from the holes in the middle of their foreheads. Jack twitched darkly next to me, my mind officially broken. His bangs hid his eyes, his claws extended from his fingernails. Unlocking his handcuffs, he pretended to get madder as he worked on mine. The metal clanged to the ground, Ruby’s eyes widening with terror. Tears blurred my vision, my scythe sliding into my eager palms.
“You fucking bitch!” I screamed vehemently, pacing back and forth. Reapers held their souls in their palms, all hope of saving them was gone. “You are going to pay.” Shrugging her shoulders, she leaned forward.
“How pathetic for the queen to lose her cool so quickly?” She taunted cruelly, Jack fumed dangerously next to me. “You can’t damage me. You can kill this body and all I have to do is find another one. Angel of darkness! Kill all of my hunters and give me their lives.” The hunters holding us hostage dropped to the ground, thousands of white glowing balls flowing into her. Panic gripped my face, reapers burst from the ground surrounding her. Death himself popped up next to me, one raise of his hand stopping them.
“I am going to bring these souls to Heaven. Take her out.” He commanded urgently, the balls floating into a worn leather sack hanging off of his wrists. “They are all dead. You did all that you could. Good luck.” The last ball of light floated into the sack, a snap of his finger signaling his disappearance. The three of us remained, a ball of shadowy energy building in her palm. A low hissing noise echoed around us, the delivery truck fading to the base of a dead twisted tree. Violet grass danced around me, a chill running up my spine. Gripping my scythe tightly, rage mixed with depression. Sauntering out from behind the tree, a single wave of her hand sent us a couple of yards away. Gone was the armor she wore, a tight leather number hugging her body. Violet needles rested in between her fingers, dead man’s blood dripped onto the grass.
“I suppose you want to hear about my tale and why I am doing this?” She mused with a wicked chuckle, licking the blood off her hand. “I have a bomb ticking away. The lovely thing will release a virus that will kill all of the monsters in the world. Humans will be infected with a magical mind control. Don’t worry about your friends. I killed them because they were annoying me. Do you know how hard it was to pretend to be friends with you and arrange your fucking role? I made a deal with your father to kill you. How did you like the little bonfire?” Wanting to charge at her, Jack held me back. Raising my scythe into the attack position, the corner of my lips curled into a snarl.
“You freaking bitch.” I growled through gritted teeth, leaping into the air. Raising her hands in the air, thousands of needles floated behind her. Flicking her wrists, the rain of needles tore through my body. Jack would die, my boots pushing off the branch. Covering Jack with my body, the needles struck me instead. A burning sensation coursed through my veins, inky sludge pouring from my eyes. Cracks lined her face as needles struck the tree, an idea coming to mind. Jack trembled underneath me, his eyes falling on the blackened veins coursing lining my porcelain skin.
“Shoot her in the hands. She can’t throw her needles if her wrists can’t move.” I wheezed, coughing up blood. Dragging him behind the tree, my chains blocked the needles heading towards Jack. His hand quaked, his bullets hitting everywhere but the target. Lining my free arm up with his, my hand steadied his.
“I can’t!” He protested with wet eyes, his mental state beyond repair. “My friends are dead. My friends are dead! She used to be my friend!” Shimmering teardrops crashed to the grass, the grass darkening to an inky black. Confusion dawned on his face the moment I held his gun underneath his eyes. Teardrops flooded the chamber, my hand guiding his hand to the level of his eyes. Getting behind him, I clicked the safety. Aiming for her palm, a quick yank sent a blackening bullet up her arm. A wave of relief washed over me the moment her needles glitched, the muzzle of his gun aimed for her other palm. Pulling the trigger, the bullet shattered her other arm. Dropping to her side, cracks echoed in the air. The cracks on her face had deepened, my attention turning towards her tree. Swinging my scythe into the tree, her shrill shrieks filled the air as flames raced into the center of the tree. Water snaked around their branches, my chains clinking their way around the thick trunk. Mouthing a silent spell, the needles floated out of me.
“Water from my heart! Flames of the Dead! Chains from my master! I call upon thee to burn the tree down, drown it from the inside. Choke the shit out of it.” I ordered sharply, each word hurting. “Final spell, turn my blood into venom for a witch.” Raising my right hand, a bell rang the moment the tip of my scythe made contact. Closing my fist, the needles dug themselves into the tree. Flames devoured her skin, cold water filled her lungs. Chains snaked up her body, a sea of fiery orange coloring her skin. My vision blurred, Jack snapping out of his paralyzed state. Raising his gun, a bullet whistled into the tree. The bullet being the last thing we needed, the tree decayed to dust along with her. The dimension crumbled away, my legs giving out. Leaning against the destroyed van, fresh tears flowed freely at the sight of our dead friends. Jack picked up one of their backpacks, his tears soaking the top of the bag. Pulling out a medical bag, he ripped out a needle filled with milky liquid. Jamming the needle into my leg, the effects of the venom dying down. Pressing my ear to the ground, an ominous ticking echoed in my ear. Tick, tick, tick! Feeling around the dirt, a metal door clanged underneath my hand. One look in Jack’s direction, he understood. Spinning the rusty handle, he lifted up the door. Gathering the rest of my strength, I popped in. Shutting the door behind me, the lock sealed my fate. Jack protested outside, the top refusing to budge, my heart sinking at the only option. The only way to stop the bomb was to set it off in a dome, the spell caster having to be in the center of it. Praying that my reaper side would keep me alive even Jack had to know that he didn’t stand a chance. Using my scythe as a walking stick, my feet moved with adrenaline. Sniffing the air, the sweet smell told me where to go. Limping through the twisted concrete halls, my breath hitched at the orange angry metal ball. Taking a deep breath, the image of my dead friends and that town I called home flashed in my mind. Pushing through, I sank to my knees. The last of my power built around my hands, a sad smile haunting my face the moment I placed my palms on the surface. A water dome glittered over me, reaper’s flames reinforcing it. Channeling the rest of my flames into core, the metal rattled violently. Preparing for the worst, a giant raven folded its wings around me.
“I will protect you no matter what.” Dr. Death promised warmly, his energy providing me safety as the chemical blasted everywhere but us. “Dissolve the poison.” The colorful particles lightened to a snow white, everything hitting me at once. Ruffling my hair, he disappeared back into my mind. Jack sprinted in, his shattered expression speaking volumes.
“I am so sorry I couldn’t save them.” I blubbered uncontrollably, falling to the floor. “I don’t deserve you. You should just k-” Rushing over to me, he clutched me desperately to his chest. Tears flowed freely, neither of us able to move. Laying back, the clarified chemicals reminding me of snow. A tortured wail burst from my lips, my quaking fingers clinging to his jacket. Saphiro and Hazard skidded to a stop, their faces dropping at the sight of us. Shaking our shoulders to see if we were alive, gracious grins brightened their features at us breathing. Their words faded in and out, a rough darkness enveloping me in it’s sea of madness.
Jerking awake, an eager Alex and Hazel hovered by the white hospital bed. Covering my eyes from the blinding lights, their arms embraced me from either side. Eloise smothered Jack in love, his numb expression matching mine. Bursting into tears, their smiling faces taunted me. Holding me tighter, his words faded in and out. Jack screamed for everyone to leave him alone. Kissing Hazel on the head, Alex dragged her out. Walking over to my bed, his little sister sulked out. Crawling in next to me, his head rested on my chest. Wail after wail burst from his lips, my slender hands being the only thing comforting him. These were his friends and now they were gone. The fault was all mine, guilt eating me raw from the inside. Hours passed like this, him going numb then screaming with raw emotional agony. Swinging his feet over the edge of the bed, he tugged on his boots.
“Are you coming?” He asked hoarsely, offering me his hand. “We need to go home and raise our family.” Accepting his hand cautiously, he yanked me to feet. Placing me on his back, the look in his eyes begged for me to rest my head on his back. Walking into the hall, he ignored the pleading nurses. Saphiro blocked his path, his depressed smile not helping the situation. Tugging anxiously on his navy vest, my mind chose to focus on the midnight black blouse underneath his vest. Clearing his throat, clammy sweat drenched his skin.
“Come with me.” He begged kindly, Jack seconds from saying no. “Please. I have a couple of things to show you.” Caving to his request, we walked for a solid ten minutes to the cemetery. Three caskets waited to be lowered to the ground, Jack dropping me. Struggling to my feet, my heart shattered at him draping his arms over the coffin. Whispering a prayer to them, he took a step back. Pulling me close to his waist, his sobs grew louder as they lowered the caskets into the ground. Death popped up behind us with three letters in his hands, his head bowed in respect to the dead bodies.
“These are from your friends. Call it one final letter.” He informed Jack sullenly, turning towards me. “Thank you for your services. Unfortunately, I can’t remove the curse.” Offering me his hand, my fingers curled around his hand. Shaking it once, he bowed in my direction. Pressing his palms together, a twinkle glinted in his eyes.
“Once everything settles down, we should get together to have tea. I am sorry for your loss.” He expressed serenely, understanding death but not the grief part. Snapping his fingers he was gone, an eager Jack reading the letters. Curiosity burned a bit but my inside voice told me to leave it alone. Tucking them into his pocket, he placed me on his back. Following Saphiro back into town, his crooked grin lit up his face for a quick second.
“They said not to lose you.” He chuckled softly, a bit of hope glinting in his eyes. “Time will heal my wounds.” Hundreds of eyes watched us enter back into town, my jaw dropping at the statue of the five of us. The plaque read the heroes of the dawn, the two of us unsure of what to feel. Jack thanked him profusely, Saphiro pointing to the Victorian mansion at the top of the nearby hill.
“That mansion is yours to conduct your business as well as living in it.” He promised earnestly, fresh tears flooding from my eyes. “We hope you choose this town as your home.” Jumping down, I cupped his hands. A tender blush rose to his cheeks, my real smile illuminating my features for the first time since yesterday.
“Only if you'll have me, good sir.” I returned politely, his brow cocking at my response. Alex ran up to me with the boys in his arms. Accepting them, life was okay. Please karma, grant me peace for the rest of my life.
Alex had his head buried in his work, the twins ran around the yard. Elise read in the tree, the two kiddos looking so grown up. The morning sun bathed the idyllic scene, a good five years had passed. Holding my swollen bump, two wails snapped me out of my trance. Jack stepped out with our white haired twins Sammy and Raven, the one year old girls reaching for me. Their fiery orange and red eyes glittered with love, my arms scooping them up. Wrapping his arms around my bump, Mark was due in a couple of months.
“Alex, Elise!” He barked with his trademark grin as they rushed up to him. Elise smoothed out her white summer dress, Alex adjusting his glasses in a brisk manner. An irked look greeted him, his stern gaze shutting down any protest.
“Watch the boys for us.” He ordered lightly, passing them wrapped boxes. “I need to take your sister somewhere. Boys, go in and watch a show with your uncle and aunt.” Sprinting into the house, Alex shot him a thumbs up as he followed them inside. Guiding me down the hill and through the town, his beard kept capturing my attention. Grabbing three bouquets on the way, he dragged me to the cemetery. Stopping in front of our friends' graves, he laid a bouquet on each tombstone. Dusting off his navy designer suit, my simple orange summer dress felt like a sad attempt to match him. Rubbing my back, he kissed my bump.
“We came by to tell you how things are going. Alex and Elise are learning how to drive. Yeah, that is as scary as it sounds. Sammy and Raven’s birthday happened a couple of weeks ago. They are both one year old. Crazy, isn’t it?” He chatted pleasantly, happy tears welling up in his eyes. “We have one more on the way. It’s another boy. We are going to name him Mark. I miss you dummies every fucking day. I wouldn’t have survived if you gave me that letter. Thank you.” Wiping away his tears, Sammy and Raven cooed in my arms. Kissing the top of my head, Jack guided me to the square. Sitting me down at the fountain, he took the girls in his arms. Passing me a bundle of envelopes, they were all from the townsfolk and monsters all over the world.
“Word got out about where you live and they all wanted to write their thanks.” He explained jovially, sitting down next to me. “Read them tonight and write back. They would love to hear from you.” Flicking through the pile, this was going to take a while. Popping to my feet, I could sense that Alex was getting frustrated. Walking back home, the fact that people wanted to thank me touched my heart. Opening the door, my boys bounced towards me. Dragging me to the couch, one of Alex’s shows was playing. Climbing onto the couch next to me, Jack took the other seat next to me. Hazel skipped in, her long hair grazing the worn wooden floor. Sitting down by my feet, Elvira laid on her lap. Basking in the moment, this was how life was supposed to be. Thank you for the gift of a good life. All the tragedy led to this moment. All of the scars told the tale of my twisted journey here. Jack leaned his head on my shoulder, the boys laying on my lap. Playing with their hair, I hoped sincerely that this would never end.
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2023.06.07 21:01 Trash_Tia Camp Redwood is running out of counselors! These children ARE NOT CHILDREN. Update: So, you're telling me it's NOT 2018?
Welcome to Camp Redwood!
Are you ready to fight to the death with age regressed forty year olds with the faces of adorable little kids?
How about coming to terms with your entire life, or at least five years of it, being one big fucking lie?
We are so excited to announce our 2018
group! Where you will undoubtedly FIND
yourself here. Your true self.
The self you did not know existed.
SO, jump in that military bunker, grab that blunt object to fight against our little campers disembowelling our counselors, and get yourself down to CAMP REDWOOD. WHERE WE START EVERY DAY WITH A CAMP REDWOOD SMILE.
Application end date: 05/02/2018
It’s been a tough few days.
So, I think I will be posting this update in two chunks so I can get everything down and clear my head. I am alone right now.
Yes. I am the last survivor of Camp Redwood 2023 (?). I’ve been unsure how to start this and end this because I really just want to get into the meat of what has been going on.
But… I must ask. I have to.
What year is it?
That doesn't matter right now. I'll continue where I left off.
Teddy did leave us alone in the end. But his screams were still haunting me hours after the thing with his voice had left. I don’t even think I could call it his voice.
It sounded like him but there were pieces of him missing. Like someone had reached into the boy’s mind and pulled out the skeleton of his consciousness, the bare bones of his being—and cruelly stuffed him into a metal shell.
That is what Teddy sounded like.
He sounded like a wounded animal, confused why he was alive. Terrified. I now know what he is the product of. Teddy is a victim of horrifying, unethical experiments our campers have been forcing on kidnapped counselors after taking over the camp. Have you ever heard of the sound of crying which isn’t human?
That is Teddy. He is the product of forcing life into the dead, and leaving it to suffer with its consciousness. Which, in my opinion, is a fate far worse than death.
You’re probably wondering where my two companions are.
Well, that is why I am writing this.
I want to tell you what happened so I can wrap my head around it myself, and choose between killing all of us and sending these psychopaths to hell, or coming to terms with our truth and fighting back. Well, it’s their truth. I wouldn’t say it’s mine. It took us three whole days to get the guts to risk leaving Allison’s secret bunker inside her cabin, and attempting to find a way out of this hell-hole. Harry and I were the ones to do it, leaving a still-not-completely-himself Rowan to guard our safehouse. I didn’t want to leave him alone for a multitude of reasons but due to Harry actually having a soul and a semblance of empathy, I was overruled.
Despite being heavily under the influence of age-regressing animal crackers which had mentally turned him into a toddler, Rowan was still himself to a degree. Which meant he was back to being our leader. I was sceptical at first, because no matter how many times he insisted he was in fact okay, I couldn’t seem to shake off the feeling that the childish parts of him, the warped parts of his mind which had turned him into a child, were still there.
Even if they were very subtle. I caught him doodling on his clipboard, and much later on, singing to himself with an odd smile on his face he had successfully gaslit Harry and I into believing it was just a coping mechanism. Say what you want about Rowan Atlas, he is damn good at swaying your opinion. Even when we were 100% sure Rowan was not his original self, the guy we had both met at the start of camp.
It was almost like him having two minds. The mind of a child, and the mind of a teenager.
For example, he still ordered us around and attempted to take back his role of leader— which had at least secured some normality back into our lives. But he also hated loud noises, and freaked out every time one of the littles tried to get in. There was also the incident we had agreed not to talk about, because talking about it meant facing the fact that our friend was no longer himself.
It was a hours after Teddy left us in peace. Harry was sleeping, and I was on the cusp of slumber, slipping through more files. Rowan had been oddly quiet. Which wasn’t a Rowan thing. Whether he was mentally a child or a teenager, he was still being loud and obnoxious. I sat up to find him cross-legged, playing with something.
I thought it was a worm at first, but no. It was exactly like what I found at the start of this, an eye attached to a nerve. But this time it was undoubtedly human, and now Rowan’s plaything. When I questioned him, he said he was “studying” it. Though there was definitely a difference between studying something and playing with it. The scary thing was, he saw no wrong in it, holding it in his hands and stripping off the metallic pieces cruelly attached to it.
In the end, I took it from him and stamped on it. Rowan didn’t have the reaction I was expecting. Because he was still hiding behind the façade that his mind hadn’t been warped by de-aging animal crackers.
If that wasn’t bad enough, Eleanor Summers had given me a 24 hour deadline to hand over the boys, and we were well over the limit so an ambush was likely imminent.
I still had so many questions. Why were Rowan, Harry and Carmel so important while the rest of us were seen as nothing but spare parts?
That is what the little bitch said. Now physically eleven years old with the mind of a deranged forty year old scientist, Eleanor told me I was nothing to them but spare parts. God, it’s so weird calling her what she is after looking after her kid self, her fake self, for weeks.
Little Eleanor with her golden pigtails and obsession with teddy bear picnics was in fact a complete fucking sociopath. That much of one in fact, that her and her equally psychotic colleagues who engaged in these experiments had been regressed into little kids inside a rehabilitation camp (Nicknamed: Project Spearhead) which was supposed to fix them and had failed spectacularly. Because they’ve taken over. And this time? We’re the fucking lab rats.
The counselors here at Redwood.
I had seen her adult self being interviewed by mysterious Agent Lemrac, a face behind Project Spearhead, the girl who was far too young to be an agent, and have that kind of authority. Also, someone with a soul—who had a clear biased opinion against the experiments.
Part of me wondered if Lemrac still existed. Maybe she was behind the odd phone calls we kept receiving on an old fashioned rotary phone. With Eleanor’s deadline in mind, the two of us made our journey quick. It wasn’t hard to leave the camp itself. There were guards in the form of Callen and Olive, brainwashed and turned into the kid’s muscle, but they were easy enough to get past as long as we distracted them with something shiny.
They were mentally six-years-old so literally anything grabbed their attention.
I quickly realized my mistake once we managed to escape the camp—Harry in front of me, with me lagging behind. We moved slowly, ducking behind trees and throwing ourselves into the dirt. Very cloak and dagger. It didn’t take us long to slip into the woods. Just past the lake were the exit gates to Redwood which led to a road.
Not exactly civilisation, but I would take it over having my body taken apart for “parts” in these so-called experiments.
When we got to the gate, however, I realized I had given the adults too much fucking credit.
Whoever was in charge of Spearhead clearly did not care about lingering survivors, as long as they were successfully cutting us out from the outside world. And that’s what the giant wall I found myself staring at was, an impossible foot monster towering over us and cementing my earlier thoughts. We were screwed. The woman on the phone had made it clear we were being abandoned, and yet some of me naively held onto them maybe still rescuing us.
“Fuck.” I didn’t know what to do, but kicking the damn thing felt like the right thing. I did, and then regretted it half a second later.
This thing was impenetrable. Impossible to climb unless we had a fucking death-wish.
Blinking at it through fraying sunlight blinding me, the thing almost resembled a mirage. It stood under the sun, a giant roadblock completely blocking us from any form of help.
The sun wasn’t helping, scorching through my shirt. I swiped at my sweaty forehead, unable to resist a frustrated scream I had to muffle-gag with my hand. I risked a look behind us. Thankfully, we were around ten minutes away from the main camp. The lake was nearby glittering under a late afternoon sun, and all I wanted to right then was to wade into the shallows and let the murky water swallow me up. The little shits couldn’t swim, maybe I’d be safe.
“This is bad.” Harry Carlisle broke the silence after my frustrated cry. With his eyes glued to the wall, he took off his hat and ran a hand through dark brown curls which were catching the light of the sun, setting strands alight across his forehead. None of us were in great shape after spending days hunkered down in a secret bunker. Harry was no exception.
His short sleeved camp Redwood shirt was still covered with vomit, discoloured with days’ worth of sweat stains and lack of showers.
He bent over, grasping hold of his knees. “What do we do?” I could tell by the tone of his voice he was freaking out, and I didn’t blame him. But Harry was still on my mind.
His signature was undoubtedly all over every Project Spearhead file, despite him repeatedly insisting he had nothing to do with it. At that moment, I could almost believe him. The boy looked exhausted and frustrated, pained.
He surprised me by slipping to his knees and burying his head in the dirt and screaming into rough soil. I was struck, then, by the sudden memory of flames. I had been sitting around campfires for weeks at Redwood, but this one didn’t feel like it took place at camp.
Instead, it felt more personal. I could almost see it, flickering orange sparking at the backs of my eyes and the sour taste of beer in my throat. Like the memory was trying to push itself to the surface. This moment felt nostalgic and yet close—as if it had happened yesterday. Like both the past and present had entangled in one.
If I concentrated I swore I could hear the murmur of voices, phantom laughter in my head and a cool night breeze grazing my cheeks.
“Earth to Josie?”
I snapped out of it quickly. “You’re asking me?” I kicked the dirt again. “I thought Rowan was our camp leader.”
Harry lifted his head after a moment, his eyes flicking to me. “You know he can’t make rash decisions right now.”
“Exactly.” I said. “We both know he’s not back to his normal self. He’s both right now. A little kid, and a teenager.” I shuddered. “I’m sorry, did I forget to mention our so-called head counsellor was playing with a human eye like a fucking cat?”
“Well, why aren’t you taking it seriously?”
Harry’s gaze skated the horizon, cotton candy colored clouds blurring into twilight. “Becauuuse the sun is going to your head.”
I could practically hear his eyes rolling. Harry took three strides towards the wall and pressed his face into rough brick. “So, this is it, right?” He muffled into rough cement. “We are really going to die at fucking summer camp.”
“I’m going to die,” I corrected him. “They want you two and Carmel because apparently you’re special.”
Harry made a scoffing noise into the wall. I was starting to think he was setting up camp there, planning to tell all of his grievances to the cement. “Oh yeah, because that’s a good thing? You’ve seen—no—heard what they’ve done to Teddy and the others, and you think them wanting us for something else is special?” his voice broke a little. “I’d rather have your fate.”
The boy’s words made me realize how little I was compared to the others. While they and Carmel were part of some grand, psychotic scheme, I was just needed for extra bulk. “Why don’t you talk to your friends?” I said, after letting the boy throw several punches into the soil. I wasn’t going to comment on his hits being surprisingly strong enough to shake the ground.
Harry didn’t look at me after calming down, resorting to tracing the earth with the toes of his shoe. “Who?”
I was surprised by his retort, even if it was equally sarcastic. “Oh, you think I’m in the CIA?” He stepped closer to me, his breath in my face. “In case you haven’t noticed, this is bigger than the CIA. Whoever is in charge of this project is way higher up.”
“So, you’re admitting you’re a sleeper.”
“No, that’s not what I—”
“Then what?” I demanded, cutting him off. “Why are your fingerprints quite literally all over this?”
Harry folded his arms, his expression darkening. "You're still talking about this?" He groaned. “Josie.” He planted his hands on my shoulders. “I am not a spy, okay? Yes, my writing being on those documents was weird, but we’re also dealing with animal crackers which turn us into littles.” His lips curved into the slightest of smirks. “I’m pretty sure it would be easy for a group of scientists to use my writing as some kind of red herring. They’re trying to turn us against each other, obviously. And that’s not going to happen.” He squeezed my shoulders and I felt momentary comfort. I was so tired.
I hadn’t slept properly in days in fear of Eleanor coming to smoke us out—and the urge to just sink into the boy’s chest was suddenly overwhelming. Luckily, I had self-control. I took a step back, and he dropped his arms. “That's sobering, yes,” I said. “But I’m still going to try waking you up with those trigger phrases we found.”
When he tried to speak, I shook my head.
“Like it or not, you’re our only way out.”
I had made it clear several times to the two of them that I had no intention to use the trigger phrases we found taped to the back of the door in the bunker, when searching for more intel. But the more I was really thinking about it, if there were sleeper agents capable of taking down a group of forty-year-old tweens, I had no choice but to at least try. Because it was either that, or I gave the littles what they wanted. The boy’s. Whatever they needed, Rowan, Carmel, and Harry were the keys to their plan.
We needed a miracle, and those trigger phrases were our best shot.
Harry, of course, was against this idea.
He did that thing he always did when he scrunched up his nose and curled his lip. It reminded me of a toddler not getting their way. I saw it exclusively when the littles were taking advantage of his piggybacking service. “Josie, I’m not a fucking spy!”
"You could be." I said stiffly. "And until we figure out what is going on with you, I don't trust you. You said it yourself. Your writing was all over the kid's files, so at some point, regardless of you remembering or not, you have been part of this project.”
“So, why did you bring me out here?” He inclined his head. “You don’t trust me and yet you bring me on your little mission to find an exit.”
I shrugged. “I was partly hoping we would be attacked and your natural instincts would kick in.”
“So, I’m your lab-rat?”
Harry did the scrunchy-nose thing again. “What the fuck, dude?!”
He looked like he was going to argue before deciding against it. Instead, he slipped on his raybans and gestured behind me with a sigh.
"We should probably get going before those little freaks come looking for us and realize we’ve left our safehouse.” I didn’t know how to explain and put into words that to survive we had to try everything—and if there was a slither of a chance that Harry really was some kind of sleeper agent, I was going to take advantage of that. I hadn’t forgotten about Carmel, Callan, and Olive. Rowan too, no matter how screwed up he was. I was counting on getting all of us out. I turned on my heel and started to head back to camp. I didn’t look at him because doing that would make me weak.
“Right. Let’s go.”
There was something going at the camp when we got back. I was startled by an intense blue light illuminating from the lunch cabin, and I had half a mind to turn and run. Then the screams started. Just like Teddy, they sounded both human and not, a horrifying mix of man and machine wailing for death. I found myself paralysed, crouched behind Cassie’s cabin, their phantom screams rattling my skull sending my thoughts into overdrive. “Josie.” I felt warm fingers wrap around my elbow and pull me back. Harry was thankfully there, dragging me away before I could expose us. It was enough to snap me out of it. Enough to drive me into fight or flight.
When we made it back to Allison’s cabin, Rowan was sleeping. He had conked out halfway through a pack of gummy worms. I spent the next few hours going through each trigger phrase written on the yellow sticky note we found taped to the door. I figured if we were going to try and wake Harry up, he would have to be restrained in case he was triggered to hurt us or even himself. “Is this really necessary?”
“Yes.” I said, squinting at the third trigger phrase. The two of us were sitting cross-legged in front of each other. Harry, breathing heavily, and me, trying to make myself calm. Harry pulled gingerly at the jump-rope restraints we had managed to loop around his wrists. I was expecting something out of him, but all I got were his wide eyes staring back at me.
The latest phrase was twisting my brain. It sounded like a kid’s book. I took a deep breath.
“Green Tigers Do Not Live Independently.”
Harry didn’t move, making a deal of blinking rapidly back at me. “No, I mean,” he gestured to his arms pinned behind his back. “Why did you have to make them so tight?"
“Because you’re a spy, dude.” Rowan had woken up, intrigued by my attempts to wake up a possible sleeper. He was pretending to go through the Eleanor Summers footage again, but the boy was clearly invested in what we were doing. Sitting slumped in the spinning chair, he leaned his fist on his chin. There were various things about Rowan I wanted to point out, but I was too scared to. The tips of his fingers were still stained red, and I had no idea if it was new or old. Rowan Atlas used to be the one guy at camp I used to think looked older than he was—and acted older than he was.
Instead of taking part in camp activities, he chose to sit on a branch and read pretentious classics. Yeah. He was one of THOSE guys. The slight stubble on his chin would definitely get him served alcohol, and his intelligence and quick-thinking would easily sway you if you were sceptical. Now he was the complete opposite. Maybe I was imagining things, but he had definitely gotten younger in the face, even if it was just a year or two.
I am not talking about his appearance, however. Rowan’s mentality was drastically different from the guy who held crisis meetings and ordered all of us around like we were his own children. This guy had a certain childish twinkle in his eye when I happened to catch it, a twitch in his lips which was constantly a wide smile like he was constantly seeing butterflies. Before being force-fed animal crackers, the guy had maintained his hair and hygiene no matter what happened. Now, he looked like he’d been dragged through a forest. Literally. There was still grass and leaves caught in his sandy hair, his camp Redwood shirt torn in odd places.
He yawned, curling up on the chair, apparently getting comfy. “No hard feelings, but we gotta keep you under investigation. Like Josie said, your name was all over those shady documents.”
Even his voice was different. I couldn’t call it a squeak, but it was close enough to one.
“I’m not a spy,” Harry grumbled, ducking his head. “I think I would know if I was—what, some kind of government agent?”
“That’s the whole point of them,” Rowan, still with lingering childish traits, winked at him. “They don’t know either.” He raised his hand and mimed the finger guns, protruding them into his temples and pretending to pull the trigger. Adapting a storytelling tone, he lowered his voice to a whisper. Like he was talking to the kids.
“They can live their whole lives without realizing.” I could tell from his tone he was getting excited with the idea of sleeper agents. Maybe it was a kid thing. Rowan sat up straight with wide eyes. “Cruelly brainwashed by a secret organisation at a young age and turned into super soldiers, these guys have no family. No friends.” His gaze flicked to Harry, his lips twitching into a teasing grin. “Only the insatiable urge to kill and follow orders. They don’t have brains to feel or emotions. And that?”
He did a dramatic spin on the chair. I could tell he was revelling in the look of horror on Harry’s face. “That is the most dangerous thing about them. The inability to have free will. Because what happens when they come face to face with people they used to love? People from their old life?”
With both of us enthralled in his speech, the boy smirked. “They kill them. Family members and friends. With one simple order? BAM.” Harry jumped, and I am ashamed to say I did too. Rowan blew his imaginary finger guns. “With one single and yet perfect headshot, it’s allll over. There’s blood EVERYWHERE. There’s brains!” He giggled. “Brains! And it’s like, sooo gross.”
With the way he kept adding to his story, getting progressively more excited and practically vibrating in the chair, the boy was reminding me more and more of my little sister. Which terrified me. Because if this was him back to himself, was this his new normal?
“Rowan, stop.” It took every ounce of my being not to yell at him. “You’re acting like a fucking child.” I was frowning at a sign on the wall warning us to ‘mind our head’. It wasn’t even a low ceiling, and yet that was the fourth time I had seen that sign.
Harry looked mildly horrified. Usually, he was the one who told the ghost stories. I could tell even he was questioning his own identity at that moment, and I paused interrogating him with phrases. “I’m sorry, but who out of us ate our weight in animal crackers?”
“Against my will.” Rowan yawned again, doing another spin on the chair. I had to turn around and shoot him a glare. “That’s the second time you’ve thrown me being turned into a kid in my face. Which is not fair. Did I ask to be stuffed full of poison?"
“Well, you didn’t exactly fight against Eleanor.”
“I was tied up, asshole—and I’m pretty you were in la-la land at that point.”
“I’m allergic to peanut butter, so no,” Harry rolled his eyes. “I snapped out of it when my body reminded me.”
“That sounds like a you problem, dude.”
Harry groaned, tipping his head back. “Holy shit, Rowan. You used to be cool and now you’re like an annoying little brother.”
“Shut up. Both of you.” I found my voice, grabbing a pen and scribbling out the first line of trigger phrases which were a no-go.
“Rowan, annoyingly, is right.” I said, ignoring the guy’s noise of glee. If he kept spinning around on that chair, I was going to kill him.
The blur of movement at the corner of my eye was driving me mad. Focusing on Harry, I took a break from the trigger phrases for a moment, poking him in the cheek. It was supposed to be light-hearted, but the guy looked offended.
“For the third time, we can’t ignore that at some point you have signed off on all of those files, which means you were part of Spearhead.” I shrugged. “I’m not saying you are, but we have to be smart if we’re going to survive against a group of deranged scientists.”
Rowan chuckled. “What she saiiiiiid.”
"Why aren't we paying attention to the guy who clearly has allegiance to those freaks?” Harry stuck out his tongue at Rowan, which was surprising on multiple levels. Wasn’t he supposed to be the normal one? “Aren't you their favorite counselor?"
"I was literally mind controlled by preservatives, asshole," Rowan shot back. "And I'm not the only one. You and Carmel are on their radar too."
"Yeah, but we’re not the ones playing with eyes.”
"I'm too tired to argue with you." The boy responded in a yawn, cuddling into the chair armrest like a cat. “Also… you’re a noodlehead.”
“Ignore him.” I told Harry. “Just focus on me, alright? You have to look at me.”
“It’s time to make the donuts.” I articulated it perfectly.
Harry surprised me with a laugh. “That one can’t be real.”
“It is. Shush.” I cleared my throat. “The strawberry moon will rise in July.” When nothing happened, I frowned. “Maybe I’m not saying them right.” I peered at the next one, mentally speaking it and then muttering it to myself to get an idea of the tone.
“Or,” Harry shrugged, pulling at his restraints. “I’m just spit-balling here, but maybe I’m NOT a secret government sleeper agent after all?”
“Be mindful of the deep ravine.” This time I practically shouted it in his face, only to get his wide smile in return.
“Josie, this isn’t working.”
“It will.” I was growing increasingly more frustrated. “Just try and listen to them, okay? Don’t push them out.”
I tried one more time, leaning close and scrunching up the sticky note in my hand. Harry’s expression stayed stoic, though from the contortions in his forehead and the twitch in his lips he was trying so hard not to laugh. “It looks like it will rain tonight.”
I was surprised, then, when Rowan jolted in the chair suddenly. He lifted his head, his eyes wide. I was seeing him back to his usual self for the flicker of a second, his expression contorted with fright, lips curling into a scowl. “Do you guys smell that?”
“Smell what?” I sniffed the air, but there was nothing which was out of the ordinary. I had grown used to the combined stink of our body odour.
Rowan wrinkled his nose. He sat up straighter. “That.” He whispered. “It smells like… burning.”
I opened my mouth to ask what he meant before Harry went stiff suddenly. I sensed his entire body seem to brace itself. His eyes hardened. “Untie me.” He said in a croak.
When my shaking hands went to the boy’s restraints, his were balled into fists. I glimpsed muscles bulging through the back of his shirt and forearms. His demeanour reminded me of an animal growing territorial. “Something is… wrong,” he said in a sharp breath. Harry’s frightened eyes found mine. “Wrong.” He said again, blinking rapidly. “Something is...wr–wrong. ” When I pulled the last of the rope from his arms, Rowan shocked me with a piercing cry which sent him tumbling off of the chair, his trembling hands planted over his ears, lips carved into an O.
His eyes were wide with terror, with agony I couldn't understand. Childish terror. Which catapulted him back to his real age.
Before I could hesitate, I was crawling over to him, attempting to snap the boy out of it. But he was inconsolable, his eyes almost unseeing, his body contorting with every shriek. It took me a moment to realize Harry was the same. But instead of a piercing shriek of a scream, he was wailing into his knees, as if to escape something.
His body seemed to jolt left and right, like he was being electrocuted. When I saw glimpses of sharp red pooling between his fingers and down the back of his neck, something sickly crept up my throat. Rowan was somehow worse, his whole face contorting like it was it's own separate being, rivulets of intense red dripping from his nose and mouth, and staining his hands desperately pressed over his ears.
It was a synchronised cry, I realized, after concluding that no matter what I did, I couldn't save them.
It was a sound only they could hear, a high-pitched screech like a dog-whistle which was only affecting them. It was the kids, I thought. Surely. If they could disembowel counselors, I was sure they would have no problem engineering a sound which would only affect certain people.
Stumbling back, I had two choices. I could either try and help them, try and block out this phantom noise slowly killing them-- or I could leave them and find a safer place. With that choice in my mind, I barely noticed the phone begin to ring under Allison's desk.
That same old fashioned trilling rang in my head, and I managed to reach under and grab the receiver, my heart in my throat. "Please." I managed to squeak out, trying to ignore Harry, who was trying to rip out his hair, his eyes rolling into the back of his head. I saw the whites, blood vessels popping one by one.
When he crumpled to the ground, I thought he was dead. But his wails continued into the floor, and I wanted them to stop. I wanted him to die because I couldn’t stand hearing him screaming for help which wasn’t coming. I couldn't help them, and it was killing me. The kids were clearly trying to smoke us out, this time targeting the boy’s. Still though, I had my secret weapon. The Spearhead project.
"There are three of us left," I panted down the phone. "You have to help us. I am at Camp Redwood. You need to get us out of here. Do you hear me? You need to get us out–"
“Attempts to fix the current situation have been unsuccessful, Miss Greenfield," the woman with the British accent's voice came through in a rush of static, cutting me off. Her voice was monotone, and I wondered if she was in fact a programmed bot.
"All efforts for manual activation have failed from the disaster zone. The signal appears to have been sabotaged. I repeat. The E.485 frequency has been sabotaged. Designated models 0115, 0116, and 0118 are now officiated as being faulty and are no longer needed for protocol 9AXC5. Please stand by for standard protocol deactivation. Thank you for your service. Agent Salta. Agent Elsilrac. Agent Lemrac.”
My grip loosened on the phone, and I felt my legs started to give-way. "You're the one doing this to them?”
When Rowan dropped to his knees, blood dripping from his nose, my stomach jumped into my throat. There was no way. I figured it was an attack from the kids, but I was wrong. Instead, this sound, this frequency, was coming from the phone.
I thought back to the video footage. Agent Lemrac interviewing Eleanor Summers. Harry's signature on the paperwork. “Can you… say that again?” I heard myself say in a breath. But the dead ringing tone was already clanging in my skull, a robotic countdown laced within the static. I grabbed the pen I had been writing with, scribbling those names down, my hands shaking.
“Preparing emergency shutdown protocol. Thank you for your service, Agent Salta, Elsilrac, Lemrac.” The voice continued, which was just another stab in the gut. I heard Salta before. I heard Lemrac. But writing them down, I realized what they meant.
I was a fucking idiot. No wonder the littles wanted them and Carmel— why they were so important to their plan. Slowly, I could feel myself start to crumble. The phone slipped from my clammy hands, but I could still hear the woman beginning an emergency shut down.
I didn’t feel the impact when my knees hit the ground, but I did start to sense something twisted and sour tickling the back of my nose and throat. By the time I had noticed it, it was already choking the bunker. But somehow, I didn’t care about the stars in my eyes or my own blood being projected onto my hands with every wet sounding cough exploding from my lungs. I could still hear their names, and every time I said each of them, more and more of me shattered.
Laying on my back while my head spun, I was partially aware the boy’s screaming had cut off.
Instead, they were just sitting there, eyes wide and unseeing, the blankest I had ever seen them. There was so much blood running down their faces, and I imagined something rooted inside of them tearing their minds apart from the inside. Letting out another strangled cough, which was definitely biological warfare courtesy of the kids (not enough to kill, but definitely a warning not to fuck with them) my gaze flicked across the bunker, taking everything in. The paperwork we had been going through. The chair Rowan had been spinning around on. The ropes Harry’s arms had been entangled in. I was frowning at the walls, and then the ceiling. “Please mind your head when you step down the stairs.”
Drinking in the words slowly, my cotton candy thoughts imploding into one blurry mess.
But then I was a little more awake, this time turning my gaze to the wall where the same sign had been taped to the wall. Please mind your head when you step down the stairs.
And… there it was again, taped to the desk, and underneath the laptop. Hidden in plain sight. It had been there all along, and yet I only realised when I wasn't thinking about it, when my mind was being suffocated. Something seemed to snap inside of me, and I sat up, driven by pure adrenaline. With one hand pressed over my mouth and nose, I forced myself into a sitting position and dragged myself to Harry, whose head was lolled at an unnatural angle, his eyes closed.
Part of me wanted to smash up the phone, knowing what these bastards had done to their sleeper agents now they were no longer usable. The boy almost resembled a doll. Was this the so-called sleeper which had been planted inside Redwood? Empty eyes, empty everything. He was like a shell with a human face. No better than Eleanor's experiments.
When I grabbed hold of his arms, I had to hold him steady, his body cut from these puppet strings which had held him. “Harry.” I could barely speak, my voice more of a croak. I knew he was awake and aware, but a singeing, almost burning smell was coming from directly inside his head as blood ran from his nostrils in shades of red and pink. Now I knew what the burning was when I pressed my face against his and sucked in a lungful of poisoned air. It was him. He was a defect being set alight from the inside. “You need to look at me, okay?”
When he didn’t, instead crumbling in my arms, I struggled to hold him upright. Twisting my head to Rowan, he seemed in a better state—kind of. At least he was still sitting straight.
My last words were barely audible. “Please mind your head when you step down the—” no sooner had the words left my mouth before the sounds of footsteps coming from above, the unmistakable murmur of giggling getting closer and closer. Harry dropped to the ground like he had been severed from his puppet strings.
I wasn’t aware when I slipped to the floor, whatever had filled my lungs finally taking its toll. Through flickering eyes, I could see our barricade being blown through, the ground rumbling beneath me, throwing me into something warm.
His body was curled up against the wall, haemorrhaging from the ears.
It was only when I was truly taking in the stink curling in the back of my nose and throat as Eleanor Summer’s mechanical grin popped out of nowhere, when I realized I had smelled it before. I had choked on it before. The circle of kids looming above me let out a shrill squeak of, “Found you!” while I found the dark, and beyond that, a memory I thought was a dream.
Firelight flickered in the backs of my eyelids. The blur of orange and shadowy smoke was mesmerising. I stared real hard at the fire like I was told to, at smouldering shades of yellow and orange colliding, thick black smoke billowing into the air while our faces illuminated the circle. I tightened my grip on my beer, swallowing another mouthful. It was cheap shit, but had just enough burn to get me tipsy. I felt good at that moment. Relaxed.
My head was starting to spin, but it was the good spinning, like I was going round and around on a carousel. I wasn't sure why I felt apprehension at the moment.
It was just a game, right? So, why did I want to jump up and go home? Why did I want to squeeze my eyes shut? Milo's words rattled in my skull as I squinted into the fire. "Come forth, those who are no longer with us." Ghosts weren't real, I thought dizzily. They couldn't be.
Not when science and logic existed. However, when the flames began to grow increasingly more erratic, I couldn't resist leaning forward, and... there. Something warm crept its way up my throat.
There was a shadow twisted in the smoke, a very human-like thing stepping directly from the trees, from the hollowed darkness I had been too scared to fully take in-- finding solace in flickering and illuminated sparks spitting from the fire. The others started to murmur to each other as the thing took a step out of the trees. Clea shuffled back with a cry, and Milo and JJ turned twin shades of sickly pale. It was a guy.
Older, by maybe a year. Shaggy reddish hair tied into a loose ponytail. His clothes were a simple leather jacket and jeans, but looking at his face, he was bruised, every part of him exhausted and battered. His eyes, when I caught them, were nothing but twin pools of oblivion glaring back at us.
"Holy fuck." Milo hissed out. “I didn't think that would actually work!" Downing his beer, he whooped. "Alright! Name, age, occupation, and..."
His lips quirked into a grin. "How you died, man!”
The guy inclined his head, his mouth curling into the start of an amused smile. "I'm not a ghost, Jackass."
His British accent was jarring.
"And?" Milo leaned back, crossing his legs. "Play along, bro. Or I call the cops and tell 'em a grown ass man is fucking with some minors."
"But he looks our age," Clea hummed. "And he's kinda cute."
"I don't give a fuck," Milo's eyes were hard. "State your truth, or I get my dad on the line."
The guy rolled his eyes, raising both arms like he was surrendering. "Samuel Joseph Wilder," he surprised me by responding. Now that I looked at him, this guy definitely was not dead. Unless dead people carried a gun latched to their belt, and a cheap iPhone sticking from their jeans pocket. "Nineteen years old." He shrugged. "I guess you could say I'm an ex-student."
He paused, and I caught emotion flicker across his face, his hands balling into fists. "I was killed– no, murdered, by my town."
Milo leaned back, cracking open another beer and taking a sip. Clea leaned closer to him, her eyes wide. “Playing along, huh? I like it. State your truth."
The guy nodded, lowering his arms. His dark eyes flicked to each of us, drinking all of us in. “I just escaped from a secret government facility doubling as a summer camp which has converted half of my town’s kids into mindless super soldiers.”
There was a pause, before Clea burst into nervous giggles. Milo cocked his head. “I said state your truth, not plagiarise The Hunger Games.”
Ignoring Milo, the guy turned his eyes to me. "Josie Greenfield?" He took a step forward before seemingly deciding against it. I didn't move or speak, my heart in my throat. I didn't have to reply. This strange boy continued, his lips curling. "You're going to die tonight, Josie."
At that moment, I realized why I had been feeling nauseous all night. Why my mind had been anticipating something all day, and why, no matter how hard I tried, I couldn't brush off his words. Maybe part of me was expecting this.
The stranger's tone was too cold to ignore, the state of him too real to brush off as a joke.
Suddenly, it was just me, him, and fate itself glaring down on us, my life as I knew it exploding into nothing in the charred remains of the dying fire.
His voice echoed in my head, collapsing into white noise, when I noticed how truly inhuman he looked. I fully took him in, illuminated in firelight. "If you don't get the fuck out of this town, you are going to have the same fate as me."
I’m going to go out on a whim and say it’s… not 2018 and I’ve been at Camp Redwood for way longer than I realized?
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2023.06.07 20:59 Sylver713 Hunger Games : A new Generation (119th Hunger Games, part 1)
It's finally there... I really liked writing this one.
The 119th Hunger Games took place in the year 155. The past few months had been quite tense following the events in district N. After the terrorist attacks, more and more inhabitants started voicing their ire and demanding to be returned to their primitive ways. By some unknown means, they managed to communicate with districts 12 and 3, where some acts of defiance were noticed. Fortunately, a greater influx of peacekeepers helped keep the situation manageable.
However, it was under greater surveillance that Annie Sandler, victor of the 118th Hunger Games, officiated the reapings. The additional measures included more peacekeepers as well as a systematic search of anyone entering the reaping square. Annie was relieved to leave district N, continuing the reapings on the following days.
In the afternoon of the second day, a disheveled Annie arrived in district 8. Being quite late due to all the security precautions, she was allowed to skip the visit of a new rug factory. Mayor Smith seemed a little disappointed as he welcomed her.
Without wasting any time, the young woman approached the big glass bowl and picked a random slip of paper. She called up Vannery Gleason to the stage. The 13 years old girl stood at the front of the enclosure. When she heard her name, she almost fainted. Two other girls brought her to the nearest peacekeepers, and they helped her up. She was tiny, with a short mane of messy blond hair and a long pointy nose.
While Vannery cowered between the peacekeepers, Annie picked a name from the male reaping bowl, quickly settling on 16 years old Carton Abbassi. The boy walked to the front of the enclosure, expressionless, his terra cotta colored skin ever so slightly paling. He shook hands with the victor and the mayor and stood next to Vannery. He nervously played with his long black hair while mayor Smith gave a closing speech and urged the citizens to go back to their work.
The pair were urged to their holding rooms within the city hall, where they could only meet with two people due to the security measures taking place. For the entire time that was allotted, Vannery cried in her older sister’s lap. Her face was dirty with tears and dust, and when her sister tried to wipe them, it became even more stained due to the dyes she worked with all day long. They did not exchange many words, only hugging tightly and attempting to reassure each other. They both cried as they were separated because they only had each other.
Carton kept his calm. His stoic attitude was shared with his father and grandfather. The three men spoke almost casually about Carton’s reaping. They had been very aware of the possibility of it happening. They shared some advice and spoke a bit about the mentor of district 8, who lived almost as a recluse in her house. Carton hugged his relatives before heading to the train station, where a sniffling Vannery was already waiting.
Organza Duval (victor of the 105th Hunger Games) waited for them in the carriage, her ample form towering over the both of them. The thirty years old woman seemed in a strangely joyful mood, which could probably be explained by her co-mentor and sworn enemy Kaplan Templesmith dying of old age a week earlier. She welcomed the tributes, inviting them to get comfortable, while an avox brought food on the table. Organza warned them to be reasonable with the food in order not to get sick, advice which they both followed.
Carton was the most talkative of the two, although he was humble and well meaning. Before all, he proposed to ally with Vannery. The girl nodded wearily and continued nibbling on her celery stalk. He then talked about his family’s hat business. He was realistic about his chances, having no useful skill in the arena. “I had no skill either, you know. It’s all about luck, explained Organza. If it wasn’t, the careers would win every year”.
During the rest of the train ride, they watched Organza’s games. Vannery started asking more questions and participating in the conversation. As the train approached the Capitol, she went to the bathroom in order to clean herself up a little. She got rid of all but the blue smudge on her cheek.
When they finally arrived in Crane station, there wasn’t much of a crowd waiting for them. Organza was a very unpopular victor, and district 8 didn’t have a great track record. As their mentor stood in the background, almost hiding behind her afro, Vannery and Carton shyly shook a few hands and signed a few notebooks.
The greetings didn’t last long, and the tributes climbed into the limousine waiting for them. Once they were settled in their apartment, their stylist came to meet them. She was the angles to Organza’s curves, skinny and tall. Platonia Travers intimidated Vannery and Carton immediately. She gave them an intense look-over before claiming that she had seen enough and would be there tomorrow at 7 am sharp. The mentor reassured their mentees, saying that Platonia was severe but was “one of the few with a heart”.
She indeed came back the next morning at 7, accompanied by two associates who took the tributes’ measurements. While they were being manhandled, Organza turned on the television to watch the reaping in district 6.
It was much cloudier than the day before in district 6, which was not helped by the heavy smoke that hung in the air. Urania Whimsiwick, who had been joined again by her former co-host Argus Brown, complained about mayor Karpov’s long-winded speech. He eventually stopped, out of breath but with a smug look on his face. Annie proceeded to pick the female tribute, after which the smug look melted off mayor Karpov’s face. “Alexandra Karpov”, she called. A 17-year-old girl gasped and stifled a cry of despair. She had long chestnut hair that dangled down to her lower back and a very pretty face. She looked at the mayor, who happened to be her father, in despair. He avoided her gaze.
Feeling the tension, Annie hurried to pick the male tribute. She called 18 years old Delta Rossini to the stage. There was a short pause before a lumbering young man with dark hair and dark eyes made his way to the front. His gait was unsteady, Argus speculating that it was because of the morphling.
Mayor Karpov cut his closing speech short in order to join his daughter in the city Hall. She stood in the middle of the room, distraught, while her father and her mother (who had just arrived) hugged her tightly. Alexandra wept with them for a while. Then, she seemed to get herself back together, and she told her parents to be strong for her. There wasn’t much else to talk about, and none of them had any useful advice to share.
Meanwhile, Delta snored inside his holding room. His mother had come to see him but had promptly left when she understood that he was under the influence. He only woke up once the peacekeepers came to collect him, which made him grumpy. He barely acknowledged his district partner. They climbed into the carriage, only to be welcomed by the grumpy faces of their mentors, Sean Callahan and Halifax Devon (victor of the 111th Hunger Games).
Sean invited the pair to sit at a table, to which Alexandra promptly obliged. Delta, on the other hand slumped into a sofa. “Don’t worry, he’ll wake up when the drugs stop working. Right now, he’s high as a Capitolite’s hat.” Claimed Halifax. “I’ll get him through the withdrawal, you two go on.» Then he left, avoiding his female mentee’s gaze.
“So, your father is the mayor ?” asked Sean, trying to strike up a conversation. She nodded. There wasn’t much else to say, Alexandra thought. She could write, and count, and knew a lot about Panem’s history. She knew that it wouldn’t help her in the arena though. Sean told her that it was okay. All she needed was to keep her wits to herself. He showed her reels of past victors who had had no former training but instead relied on their intelligence or were just lucky.
When the train arrived in Crane station, Delta had just emerged from his slumber. Halifax sat in front of him. He gave him a pill and a glass of water, which the boy took without hesitation. It helped calm the headache. Now that he was more or less sober, Delta finally realized the situation he was in. His mentor ordered him to keep calm, and that they would think of a strategy once they were done with the parade.
The welcome was relatively warm, although it was still earlier in the morning. The sparse crowd gravitated more towards Alexandra, who appeared more “civilized” to them. She spoke to them politely, being used to wealthier people. She wished to follow her father’s footsteps. Delta was a little clumsier with his interactions, but still well behaved considering the situation. Halifax and Sean shook a few hands too, and they all made their way to the accommodation center.
Perseus Allfield, their stylist waited for them in the apartment. The pair didn’t have the time to take in their surroundings that they were being measured by half a dozen seamstresses. It appeared that Perseus had already chosen the pair’s outfit for tonight’s parade. While they were being dressed, Alexandra couldn’t help but notice that people frequently came to knock at the door, asking for random things. She could swear she saw Halifax hand a piece of paper to Alix Goldberg, who had come to ask for deodorant.
Carton and Vannery hesitantly went down to the stables on the night of the parade. They both wore pantsuits made of a heavy embroidered fabric. It was itchy and rigid, like a rug, and of course entirely black and white. Organza hadn’t accompanied them, since she was busy discussing with another stylist, Garner Townsend. At least, Carton said, they didn’t look as ridiculous as the pair from 9. Vannery, instead of looking back, stared at the careers, who were already creating a pack. The four of them approached the tributes from 4, but Sardine and Rivage seemed to refuse their proposal.
Two chariots over, Alexandra struggled to climb into her carriage. Delta helped her up, giving her a crooked smile. She thanked him awkwardly. The pair’s outfits were indeed incredibly heavy, made out of slowly rotating gears. Making them work had been an excruciating ordeal. Between them and the pair from 8 was the carriage of district 7. Sean came over to them, kissing his fiancé, Edmund Carrell, passionately. Ulma and Fraxen did not react, nor did they respond to Carton waving at them.
Soon enough, the parade began, with Argus Brown leaving his seat to head of Anderson fashion Corneo Anderson alongside Urania Whimsiwick. Both were unhinged that night, and they tore apart almost every outfit. Perfecto and Glare’s (1) were too shiny, Hattie (3) looked like she had tried to wear her grandma’s dress, and they even made fun of the pair from 5, even though they ended up winning best dressed this year.
Delta and Alexandra followed right after, in what Corneo Anderson described as “a pair of ambulatory scrapyards”. The girl tried her best to smile through the ordeal, and waved even though her arm was 15 pounds heavier than usual. She held on to Delta, who had turned as grey as the steel he was wearing. Halifax had helped him deal with the withdrawal symptoms, but the moving cart was still very harrowing to him.
Carton and Vannery did not make much of an impression. They waved and smiled, but very few people actually paid attention to them. They were too busy laughing at the pair from 9, whose straw outfits were indeed hilarious.
The carriages then all made their way to the end of the Avenue of The Tributes, where President Crane gave her annual opening speech. This time, she spoke about peace. She asked the rebelling districts to think of their future. Of their children. She said that unity was the only way to move forward as a nation. That everyone had to do their part.
Some tributes were seen scoffing, but no punitive actions were taken against this display of defiance. Instead, President Crane wished everyone a happy Hunger Games and dismissed them. Everyone came back to their accommodations, where they prepared for bed.
This year, even Organza Duval attended to the rooftop party, where she remained with Alix Goldberg and Solano Luongo for the entire time. Other tributes such as Galvany Driscoll and Orlando Cascade occasionally joined them for a chat. Their conversations could not be heard over the loud music unfortunately.
Training began on the next morning. Waking up proved a tough affair for Delta, who had been suffering for the entire night. His fever had dropped thanks to some special medicine his mentor had given him, but the ache in his muscles remained. Even speaking caused him pain. Nevertheless, he endured and pushed through in order to make it downstairs. Carmelo Harrington, the head trainer, gave him a disapproving look before starting his usual warning speech.
As soon as the speech ended, Delta asked Alexandra to be his ally, since they were district partners. She gave him a once over, then reluctantly agreed. He suggested they train at the survival station, but she told him she needed to be alone for a while. He went by himself, and clumsily learned to build a fire. No other tribute seemed willing to approach his station, so he spent the next couple of days unimpeded.
While her district partner fluttered from station to station, Alexandra spent the almost entirety of the first day learning to fight with a knife, then a sword. She had obviously no experience, but thanks to the help of the trainer, she managed to improve a lot in such a short amount of time. She beat Odette (N) and Kumquat (11). Seeing she was a little too confident to her taste, Proserpina (2) challenged her too. This fight Alexandra lost almost immediately, and while trying to avoid another one of the girl’s strikes, she fell backwards onto Angelo (2). They tumbled down. He helped her get back up, which annoyed the rest of the career pack even more.
For the next day and a half, Alexandra and Angelo always seemed to end up in the same stations. They tried to speak a little but every time another member of the career pack interrupted them. On the last day of training, Angelo asked the girl if she wanted to join him (in the alliance of course !). She knew the others did not want her and told him so. She was right. He thought a moment before saying that they could find a way to work together.
While this surprising friendship was taking place, Carton and Vannery trained together. They mostly kept to the survival stations, not having the confidence to handle weapons. In the textile station, they encountered Sardine and Rivage (4) who taught them to make fishing nets in exchange of them showing them ways to build a textile-based shelter. They hit it off so well that they agreed to work together in the arena. Rivage and Sardine were both tall and strong fighters. They taught a bit of fighting skills to the pair from 8, but Carton was much more adept at recognizing toxic plants, while Vannery excelled at weaving and basketry.
At the end of the training, the tributes were gathered in order to be evaluated. After Zapp (5), Alexandra was called inside the Black room. She was nervous but managed to keep her trembling in check. She asked for a trainer to be brought in so she could demonstrate her knife fighting skills. She showed decent improvement, although she got tired quite quickly. She exited the Black room with a satisfied smirk.
Delta followed her, and he was quite angry. He didn’t understand why his ally refused to train with him even though she constantly reassured him that they still would work together in the arena. The assessment was a perfect way to vent out his anger. He grabbed various weights and threw them around. He broke a few mannequins with his display of strength. After that little controlled tantrum, he felt better.
Some time later, Fraxen (7) exited the room and Vannery was called in. For some time, she fought against a fainting spell, which made her loose precious time. Some of the assessors were already going back to the buffet. Eventually, she weaved a piece of armor out of wicker in a record time. No one was watching her anymore though, so she climbed up a pillar to get to the upper floor, shocking the assessors with her stealth and dexterity. In the end, they barely even noticed her weaving.
Carton followed. He was undecided as to what he should show the assessors. He tried a bit of everything, with unconclusive results. Once he got back to the apartment, Organza reassured him, saying that the training scores didn’t mean anything.
While they were being dressed for that evening’s interviews, the tributes watched their training scores being announced. As was usual, the career pack scored the best points, with Glare and Perfecto (1) getting an 11, followed by Angelo, Proserpina (2) and Rivage (4) who got a 10.
There were quite a few decent scorers this year, with a 9 being given to Ulma (7) and Delta. Following them with an 8 were Alexandra and Vannery as well as Fraxen (7), Borea (5) and Georges (N). Carton got a mediocre 5, which was not as terrible as he had thought but still not very high. He shared this score with Zapp (5).
That evening, the interviews took place in a full to the brim Ravinstill hall. Urania Whimsiwick and Argus Brown welcomed the audience and were given a thunder of applause. They had coordinated their outfits to wear clothes typical of tourists. Urania’s turquoise sundress and wide brimmed straw hat reminded viewers of the bright sea and the thatch parasols, while Argus wore a flowy shirt with a tiger fur pattern and bedazzled flip flops. The crowd roared with laughter when Urania poured a glass of champagne for each of them and promised Argus not to attack him with the bottle.
The first interview was that of Glare (1), who proved to be as sharp and dry as she looked. Her district partner Perfecto was friendlier at first, but many Capitolites found him very whiny. Proserpina (2) was almost identical to Glare, and only Angelo appeared to have a semblant of heart, which experts later debated could be his downfall.
The hosts went down the list of tributes, the panel this year being very diverse. The pairs from districts 4 and 5 were among the favorites this year, with charismatic duos. Eventually, it was time for Alexandra to enter, clad in a light grey silk gown. Her long hair had been braided with silver thread, and she was positively stunning. She also appeared at ease on stage, answering Urania’s questions and jokingly flirting with Argus. She was asked about her unlikely friendship with Angelo (2), but like he had earlier, she responded that he had been nothing more than a friendly opponent. Argus then asked about her family, as another Karpov had participated in the 111th Games. Alexandra barely knew her, as she was from another branch of the family.
Once her imparted time was over, Alexandra left the stage, followed by cheers and applause. Delta entered, wearing a suit of the same color as her dress, although it did not fit him that well. He looked at the hosts’ outfits with confusion. Urania had to repeat her first question three times to snap him out of his trance, and it soon appeared that Delta was not in his element. He answered the next questions on the first try, but in a robotic voice. Urania, Argus, as well as the viewers, quickly grew bored of the boy, who only seemed to wake up to complain about his district partner refusing to spend time with him. He received some polite applause as he left the stage and Ulma entered.
After Fraxen’s underwhelming interview, Vannery was asked on stage. She had been given a pink and crème tulle dress, Urania commenting that she looked like a “particularly appetizing cupcake”. Vannery wobbled on stage and to her chair. She managed not to faint, which in itself was a miracle, but it was clear that she was terrified. Argus asked her about her strategy for the arena, and she said that she had allies she could count on, and that her small frame could help her hide quite easily. In the end, she had managed to endear herself to the Capitol, even though her winning odds were still of 1 to 60.
Carton followed Vannery, clad in a mauve tuxedo, his dark mane neatly attached. He appeared more confident than his district partner. After a short round of compliments, the interview really started. Unfortunately for him, Carton did not have a lot to say about himself. He had no passion, no funny anecdote to talk about, so after the usual questioning, the hosts decided to end the interview. Later, Urania would comment that the only thing interesting about Carton was his hair.
The interviews continued on, with Quinoa (9) asking the hosts for a glass of champagne, Lavandine (11) running out of the stage after a whopping 12 seconds and her district partner Kumquat raving about Capitolite cuisine for 15 minutes. Only the cousins from district N, Georges and Odette, made a better impression. Although they were both homely and physically unremarkable, they proved to be good strategists and survivalists.
Before closing the ceremony, Head Gamemaker Jahani Vishwa was invited to talk a little about her work. She reviewed last year’s arena, which had now been turned into a holiday destination, then gave an exposé about the weather in the arenas and how it was controlled. As always, Jahani Vishwa refused to say anything but a single hint : for this arena, the biggest challenge had been redesigning the microphones. Then, Argus and Urania wished everyone a Happy Hunger Games.
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2023.06.07 20:43 Future_Ad_3485 The Swallow and the Mad Hatter Part Eleven: A Lilac in the Bayou
Laying in bed, my hand rested on my bump. How did I end like this? Demonic and pregnant, that very statement sounding like a cheap movie title. Demy slumbered next to me, the day was ours to be had. Demy promised me a date today, and I suppose I should take it. Swinging my feet over the edge of the bed, a black box waited for me. Opening the top, my breath was stolen from me. Golden lace sparrows flew over a scarlet rockabilly dress, my shaking fingers pulling it out. Holding it to my body, the measurements were exact to me. The mattress creaked as Demy sat up, the morning sun bathing his handsome features.
“Do you like it? I ordered it a couple of weeks ago. Hopefully, it will fit.” He yawned groggily, rubbing his eyes. “I also ordered new jeans for you, considering that they won’t fit eventually. Try it on.” Tugging on my snug bra, the dress fit perfectly. Loving the way the skirt floated away from me, Demy was already dressed in a simple black dress shirt and dark jeans. His casual look threw me off, a scythe charm dangled off of his wrists. Staring at him with pure bewilderment, he tugged his hair into a neat man bun. Shrugging his shoulders, he sauntered over to me. His hungry eyes devoured me.
“I like it very much.” I stammered with a fluttering heart. Wrapping his arm around the small of my waist, his lips pressed against mine passionately. Arching my body towards him, time stopped once more. Why did this keep happening! Releasing me from his spell, his forehead pressed against mine.
“I forgot to tell you that I can disguise myself. Now I look like an albino goth.” He explained playfully, tucking a piece of hair behind my ear. “Let me fix your hair.” Brushing through it, he twisted it into a simple side braid. Kicking over my boots, he kissed my forehead while I slid on my boots. Spinning around the room, he swung me underneath him. Smothering me in kisses, he placed me on his back. Walking downstairs, we burst out onto the busy street. People smiled at us as he took every turn to an abandoned mansion. Vines had claimed the red brick, the metal porches barely hanging on.
“I bought it for us.” He proclaimed proudly, placing his hands on his hips. “I thought it was time we got a place of our own. What do you think?” Tears welled up in my eyes, my hand falling on my bump. He didn’t have to, my other hand clenching into a tight ball. Glancing up at the top window, a lone female spirit floated in her flowing nightgown. Cocking my head, shadowy hands ripped her back. Bursting through the front door, dust covered the water damaged walls. Sprinting upstairs, my fingers curled around my staff. The stairs creaked dangerously underneath my boots, a jump in the air saving me from a painful fall as the steps crumbled. Landing on the metal railing, my boots clanged against the metal with every step. A ghost was in trouble, the scene shifting around me. Demy caught up to me, the inside of the house rewinding back in time. Pristine walls with ornate wallpaper greeted me, Demy letting out a long sigh.
“We are trapped in another time bubble.” He groaned to himself, rubbing his forehead. “We know the only way out is to kill the ghost who brought us here. This bubble reeks of something else though. Can you smell the sulfur?” Sniffing the air, he wasn’t wrong. Hiding me underneath the staircase, my breath hitched at his body pressed against mine. A man with chocolate brown hair and caramel eyes landed inches from us, blood pouring from his eyes. A child’s scream snapped me from my horror filled trance, a thirteen year old girl ran by us with her long brown waves flying behind her. A shadow figure chased after her, a jagged blade sliding through her chest. Watching the ruby drops hit the floor, the worn wooden handle became stained with her blood. Dropping to the floor, her hand reached for me. The demon snapped its head towards us, rows of bloody fangs clicked together. Spinning his blade in his palm, his wrist flicked abruptly, Demy’s back caught the blade, his scythe charm glowing red hot. Pushing the knife out with his muscles, the charm grew to its full size. Ravens cawed behind him, the bracelet turning back into his top hat. Scarlet flames twisted with golden flames, the feathers floating behind me. Cocking his head back, crazed laughter burst from his lips.
“You are going to have to find me first.” He taunted cruelly, clapping his hands. “I will never let you claim my home.” Demy narrowed his eyes in his direction, the annoyance disappearing into the floor. Coming out of our hiding spot, jazz music played outside. Creeping around the corner, my flames died down for a second. A pile of bright yellow liquid coated the spot he went through, Demy crouching down to examine it.
“He is ancient.” He grumbled under his breath, his kind gaze watched me take in the information. “The brighter the sulfur the older they are.” Feeling stupid for not understanding him, the solution wasn’t obvious to me. Shifting uncomfortably, no words came to the tip of my tongue. The ghost of the girl floated over to me, tears flowing endlessly down her cheeks. Her hair floated up behind her, her quaking hands gripping her ragged nightgown. Her milky eyes met mine, surprise rounding her eyes at my outreached hand.
“We are going to get rid of him for you. Unfortunately, I don’t think I can free you because of the whole murder thing. Maybe we can find your father.” I offered sincerely, her icy hands cupping mine. “We can turn on the television for you every now and then. I’ll even cook your favorite foods so you can smell them. The one thing you have to do is help me out. Can you do that?” The spirit of the father floated around the corner, his snow white hair danced wildly. Fixing his mustache, his milky eyes fell on us. Dusting off his suit, he cleared his throat. Holding out his hand, I gave it one good firm shake.
“I am Mr. Smillet and that is my daughter Milly. We would love to help you.” He introduced himself politely, ruffling his daughter’s hair. “Unfortunately, we can’t leave because of an eternal curse on the land but your idea sounds lovely. Let’s make this place a home once more.” Floating through the floor, his head popped up through the center of the hole.
“This is going to sound backwards but he is in the attic.” He chirped warmly, pulling himself out. “We will lead the way.” Walking past the photos of them, the nineteen twenties raged outside. Stopping at the attic door, they took a step back. Thanking them silently, we pushed the door open. Pressing our backs against the wall, the stairs creaked with every step. Glancing behind me, the door slammed shut behind us. The only light flickered, my heart seconds from beating out of my chest. Pop! A sea of darkness swallowed us, cold breezes lashing our cheeks. Summoning my flames, my heart sank into the pit of my stomach at his face inches from mine. Slamming my heel into his chest, he smashed into the wall. Climbing the stairs, I kicked a pile of boxes down the stairs. Spinning my scythe over my head, balls of flames whipped in his direction. Stopping them before they hit him, he raised his hand over his head. Hundreds of those damn daggers spun over his head, my metal feathers destroying them upon impact. Snapping his fingers, cold hands smashed through the floorboards. Slicing my palm on an exposed nail, Demy seemed to be dealing with his own problems. Smearing my hand on the wall, the scent was enough for me to summon my pets. Whistling sharply, the attic door rattled violently. Wet snarls echoed on the other side, my three pets taking him down to the ground. Pulling his gun from his pocket, Demy towered over the howling demon. Pressing his gun to his forehead, his finger tugged on the trigger. His bullet burst from the end, his body decaying to ash. My pets bounded up to me, their tails wagging a mile a minute. Rubbing their bellies, they melted into puddles.
“Who are good doggies!” I spoke with my dog mom’s voice, tongues licking my face left and right. The time bubble still remained, my eyes narrowing. Something felt off, a glowing orb bounced in the corner. Walking over to it cautiously, the ball of light floated into my clammy palm. Tears welled up in my eyes, the spirit was her mother. The real reason the time bubble existed was because of her, her soul purpose had been served. She stayed behind to protect them, one more thing stopping her.
“I need you to promise to take care of them.” She spoke gently, the orb floating in the air. “I can’t stay here because I dragged myself outside of the property line. I need to know that they will be okay.” Drops of light hit the floor, sobs bounced off the wall. Demy embraced me from behind, his chin resting on my head. Flashing the orb with his crooked grin, the drops of light slowed to a halt.
“We vow to give them a lovely afterlife. I was thinking we could give them the attic.” He promised sincerely, kissing the top of my head. “We can furnish the space as they wish. Then they can hang out with us downstairs. How does that sound?” Thinking for a minute, the orb floated into the sky. The time bubble glitched, a dusty attic greeting us. Pressing my palm to the splintered floor, a bright light blinded us. Covering his eyes, the light died down. Pristine floors brushed against my palm, a neat bedroom pleased me. The simple furniture would do, a picture of the girl's family hung on the wall. Running downstairs, the two spirits waited on the other side of the door. Opening the door for them, I motioned for them to go on up. Gasps of wonder bounced off the wall, my eyes scanning the scarlet walls. The hall seemed empty, my fingers tracing the one ancient mirror. Demy’s jaw dropped, my finger picking it up.
“If I can heal living things I can bring inanimate objects back to life.” I bragged with a wide grin, poking it to see if it was real. “I didn’t think I could do this well. We do have to get some furniture though. I could only manifest theirs because it had existed at one point. Do you like it?” Parting his lips to speak, a distraught woman sprinted in. One of our marks entered the hall, I put my foot out. Not seeing my foot, his face smashed onto the floor. Pressing my staff into his back, he put his hands up. The silky onyx hair contrasted the restored wooden floors, my three dogs surrounding him.
“If you move a fucking muscle you'll become dog chow.” I snapped hotly, flaming feathers hovered over him. “Tell me why you were cha-” My face dead panned at my former colleague charging at me with a haunted expression. Grabbing her by the arm, I tossed her over my head. The floor groaned in protest, the boards repairing themselves. Examining her closer, her eyes were ruby. Her lilac waves cascaded down her back, the white frilly Lolita dress hugged her petite body. A diamond collar sparkled on her neck, my eyes falling on the inky stain spreading on the white lace. Sniffing the air, I let them both go. A nasty bugger limped down the hall, a curved lilac blade quivered in his sludgy back. Demy raised his scythe, his ravens cawing behind him. Harsh winds blew our hair around, my flames roaring to life. Crouching down to their level, I yanked both of the heads up by their hair.
“If I help you, you join my army. No ifs, and or buts.” I barked sternly, the two of them nodding. “Sit back and watch the show.” Resting against the wall, her master fussed over her. Spinning my staff over my head, flaming feathers landed in the body. Demy leapt over my head, his scythe cutting into the body. The demon roared, horror rounding our eyes as it absorbed our power. Opening up its mouth, a wall of lilacs blocked its path. An idea came to mine, the flames of the burning lilacs illuminating my features.
“We need to hit it with everything we have.” I whispered so it wouldn’t hear, bewildered expressions meeting my determined grin. “You have trust in me.” Allowing my powers to build up at the top of my staff, Demy’s pure power built at the end of his scythe. Swinging our weapons at the same time, a rush of hot air blew our hair back. Taking the mirror off the wall, I held it in front of us. Let’s see how much power he could take. Demy held me by my hips in preparation for the impact. Absorbing the power as I had planned, a beam of our power slid us back a few feet. The beam hit him, the cracks beginning to form on his skin. Absorbing the doubled energy, he blasted the mirror again. The frame creaked, the beam striking the mirror once more. Demy held me down with all of his strength. The game of tennis continued until the energy decayed him into a pile of ash. Lowering the mirror, the house repaired itself. Demy huffed behind me, his arm spinning me around. Kissing me hungrily, he seemed grateful that I was alive. Crouching down to her level, Demy’s top hat absorbed his scythe and ravens.
“Where is she wounded? I won’t hurt her. I want to heal her.” I assured him kindly, the fellow demon taking a step back. “Do you mind?” Lifting up her dress, a nasty spike stuck out of her back. Ripping it out, she cussed like a sailor. Hovering my hand over the gaping wound, her muscle fused back together. Watching her skin patch itself, a nasty scar throbbed underneath my touch. Demy kicked her blade over, her trembling fingers gripping the worn leather hilt with raw terror.
“You must be Davidos Darth and Lilac Mattson. These two defected a couple of years ago.” Demy explained calmly, the petite woman embracing me graciously. “They were just hunted down by one of her sludgy monsters. The Golden Lion must be after you. The question is why.” A two year old girl peeked out from around the corner, her lilac waves grazing the floor. A white summer dress floated away from her body, her ruby eyes falling on me. A bright smile illuminated Lilac’s purple lips, the girl’s purple lips curling into a matching smile.
“Mommy!” She cried out, Lilac tossing me to the floor as she caught her daughter. “I am glad you are safe. I hid in my invisibility bubble like you told me too. Who is the pretty lady?” Crouching down to her level, I held out my hand.
“I am Scarlet Deaclon, your mother’s best friend. How do you feel about living here? Is that alright with your mother?” I inquired sweetly, her face lighting up. “I can’t have you guys running like that. I will put a protection spell on the house if it makes you feel better. Us defectors have to stick together.” Silent tears stained Lilac’s cheek, Davidos seemed seconds from crying.
“Seriously, I can’t have you guys on the street. Fight with me and we can have a miniature family.” I continued jovially, ruffling the girl’s beautiful hair. “I can also babysit if you need it.” Lilac began to sob, several fresh cuts and bruises caught my eyes.
“Why are you being so nice?” She wept softly, wiping away her tears. “I don’t deserve it. We left in s-” Putting my hand in the air, confusion mixed with sadness. Cupping her face, she quaked underneath my touch.
“She is the best reason to leave.” I comforted her kindly, my three dogs bounding up to the little girl. “Don’t worry they don’t bite. What’s her name?” Oreo, Stripes, and Darkness smothered her in love, the girl's giggles twinkled in the air. The four of them played as Davidos helped Lilac to her feet, Demy pacing back and forth. An irritated growl rumbled in his throat, a hand on his shoulder calming him down. He had to know that we needed allies, his lips brushing against the top of my head. Fishing around his pocket, a worn pocket knife sat in my palm. Cutting the blade across my palm, my eyes watched the blood pool. Drawing a powerful protection spell on the wall, the house rattled the moment I slammed my palm onto the wall. A golden dome hummed to life around the house. Mouthing a silent spell, five necklaces appeared in my palms. Golden feathers dangled off of the golden chains, no words being said as I passed them out.
“These will protect you when you leave the house.” I informed them with my real smile, dropping the necklace over the little girl’s head. “This should increase your ability to become invisible.” Clearing her throat, she stood in the attention position. Holding her head up high, Demy grinned at her proud stance.
“I am Lavender.” She introduced herself boldly, cupping my hands. “I vow to be your ally.” Chuckling softly to myself, my hand fell to my stomach absentmindedly. Hoping my kid was this awesome, hope glittered in her eyes. Demy spun me on my heels, placing my necklace over my head. Hooking his elbow in mine, he glanced back with concern.
“We are going to pick up some grub. Is pizza okay?” He asked with his crooked grin, their heads nodding. “We will be right back.” Guiding me out the door, our neighbors stared at us long and hard. Waving to them, they waved back awkwardly. Letting the moonlight bathe me, he spun me around. Holding me by the small of my waist, scarlet colored my cheeks.
“Did you see that adorable little girl? Do you think ours will be as awesome?” He mused playfully, kissing my lips feverishly. A goofy look dawned on my face, the feather necklace I made glittered on his shirt. Following my gaze, he fiddled with the magical charm.
“I would be a fool not to wear what my wife made for me.” He continued happily, his hand sliding down to my slight bump. Getting onto his knees, his lips brushed against the surface. Hugging my bump, a deeper crimson rose to my cheeks. People watched with warm smiles, the older couples holding each other tighter. Rising to his feet, he hooked his elbow in mine. Making me feel like the lead in a romance novel, pride swelled in his eyes. Walking me to the local pizza place, a warmth came over me. A shadow figure darted in the distance, the serenity leaving my mind. What the hell was that?
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2023.06.07 20:40 dealgad [Amazon] AsKmore Queen Size Bed Frame,Velvet Upholstered Platform Bed with Decorative Flower Line & Nailhead Trim Headboard with Wood Slat Support,No Box Spring Needed, with 10% off, for $169.99 +save extra $30 with coupon
2023.06.07 20:30 acdn95 Are the bed frames any good?
Seen a few on FB marketplace and wasn’t sure what the quality is compared to wayfair, Amazon, etc. bed frames only.
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to IKEA [link] [comments]
2023.06.07 20:21 hgro318 Theory
I’m not sure if this has been predicted yet or not but I feel like the ending of volume 3 is gonna end up being a setup by Grace (and maybe whoever Ivy’s partner was?) Cause the whole interactions with her leading up to the “surprise in bed” are real weird. Like “how do you want him to greet you?” wtf? It’s gonna be Grace getting back at MC for the Ozzy stuff or something. The resolution is gonna be like “oh your twin was helping the LI you like plan a surprise and that’s why they’re in bed”. It’s a stupid resolution but they’ve been pushing the twin thing hard so I don’t think they’d go the cheating route (yet). I think any resolution to this cliffhanger would be dumb tbh
submitted by hgro318
to loveislandthegametwo [link] [comments]
2023.06.07 20:20 Popular-Island7329 How did they do this style?? Any ideas?
Am obsessed with these colors and basically everything about this! Do you guys thing it’s white wallpaper wood panels on the wall or actual panels? If I did wallpaper would it look ok?? Or cheap?
Also how did they get the canopy to hang like that without posts?
Any ideas on where to get that natural grey looking bed skirt?
submitted by Popular-Island7329
to DesignMyRoom [link] [comments]
2023.06.07 20:19 Such_Cauliflower_669 Eliminating Ivy at this stage is an even bigger mistake than sending Lexi home early
Like at least with lexi she went home about…..what a quarter of the way through? And we got to have fun beefing with her, being shady, you could even steal Kobi just cuz she was a bitch! But this with Ivy makes absolutely ZERO sense. It’s the third fucking volume ffs! What’s the drama gonna be now??? More “misunderstandings” with our twin? Nuh uh! No way! FUCK THAT!!! I DONT WANT UR CHEAP CRUSTY PREDICTABLE ASS TWIN DRAMA FB!! FUCK YOU! MAKE AN EFFORT AND LET US HAVE FUN VILLAINS THAT ARE ACTUALLY AMUSING TO FIGHT WITH!!!
Anyways yeah i hate it here. Sending the biggest drama stirrer home in favor of stupid, predictable twin drama that no one even wants. I’m officially disliking this season. The expectations for the rest are in HELL. Thinking of just downloading couple up and ditching new litg seasons after this.
submitted by Such_Cauliflower_669
to fuseboxgames [link] [comments]