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First Contact - Chapter 313

2020.09.22 23:52 Ralts_Bloodthorne First Contact - Chapter 313

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Planet Slatmurt - Neo-Sapient/Near Sapient Space Border
14 Days after Case Omaha
Day Three of Red Dot
Three Months after Initial Red Dots in Hesstla System
A'armo'o felt the vibration of the engines die as the tank made a whining noise that slowed down to a stop. He stood up from command seat, the back swivelling out of the way, the rear of the seat sliding under the forward part, the arm rests lowering. Once it had shifted largely out of the way he carefully turned around and trotted out the back ramp.
The air was smokey, full of carbonized metal, prop charge vapors, and smoke from the burning city that lay ahead.
Trucker had already climbed out of the tank, shifting his body armor to get it more comfortable. A'armo'o could see a female Terran waiting for both Trucker and A'armo'o, standing in the ankle deep mud and staring at the city. A short set of power armor, designed for someone smaller than a Terran with a muzzled helmet, was standing next to her with a larger suit of the skull faced power armor next to the shorter one.
A'armo'o reached her the same time as Trucker.
"Colonel Maxine Sok," the female Terran said. "19th Air Cavalry Regiment."
"Most High A'armo'o, 326th Armored Great Herd," A'armo'o said.
"Trucker. Third Armor," the big burly Terran said, packing his lip with cud.
The skull-like faceplate opened up to reveal a Terran female with dark hair, dark eyes, freckles, who was sweating. "Colonel Paola O'Malley, 1st Telkan Marines, this is First Lieutenant Vuxten, same," the woman said.
The short power armor troop nodded.
Another human rushed up, one of the big black Terran cyborgs wearing additional armor and carrying one of the Terran magnetic accelerator rifles. The cyborg stopped.
"Colonel Wolfram Mwanajuma, Ninety-third Assault Infantry Regiment, 14th Infantry Division," the cyborg said once the introductions were completed.
Trucker turned and looked at the burning city. "Urban combat. Not the best fit for A'armo'o and my boys."
"No, sir," Colonel O'Malley said, chewing on something. A'armo'o wondered what it was. "This promises to be ugly."
"One shot from one of Trucker's big boys will blow a hole fifty feet wide in one of those sky-rakers," Mwanajuma mused, staring at the city. "It'll be light weapons only, which means we've got our hands tied and the clankers don't."
"If I reduce my weaponry to basic strength, I can operate in a city," A'armo'o said. "My weapons are designed to not be dangerous in an urban area."
The fact all of the predatory primates turned their burning gaze on him made A'armo'o uncomfortable but he continued on.
"All Unified Military Council weaponry is designed to do the minimum damage to structures," A'armo'o said. "It's one of the reasons we've stayed with plasma weapons and lasers."
"My boys brush the corner of one of those buildings and its coming down," Trucker said, spitting into the brown grass.
"What's the plan?" O'Malley asked.
"Break into smaller elements. Three tanks, 2 from Three Aye-Dee one from Great Herd, per platoon of infantry, two squads of you warborgs, and 19th hangs back according to Generak Kro'Daka," Mwanajuma said. "First Telkan provides tank cover, and 38th Infantry Division will man 19th's strikers for rapid deployment."
Trucker nodded. "I'd rather be slambanging out by The Graveyard, but," he shrugged and spit. "Recon confirm it?"
Colonel Sok nodded. "Flyby, drones, and recon from orbit shows the clankers are keeping about a quarter million of the locals alive. Mil-Int thinks its a trap to lure us in."
"Or something worse," Vuxten said. "With the Precursors it's always worse."
"You can hear the screaming from here," O'Malley said. "Soon as I opened my faceplate I could hear it."
"Been hearing it the last thirty miles," Trucker said, spitting into the grass. "I ordered my men to button up."
"Should we address the elephant in the room?" Sok asked.
A'armo'o's implant tossed him up an image of a large four legged creature in the middle of a room with everyone trying to talk around it. He had limited access to the Terran network. A few of his men had tried fully linking into it and had been almost lost in the deluge of information so A'armo'o kept the recommended filters engaged.
"Is this about your rebirthing system?" A'armo'o asked.
The Terrans all made motions of assent.
"General Kro'Daka said to do it with a voluntary leave or stay," O'Malley said.
Trucker shrugged. "Didn't have a single of my boys and girls dismount the tank."
"Yeah, but you're Third Fucking Armor - Old Metal," Sok laughed.
"I do not understand," A'armo'o said, frowning.
Sok turned to A'armo'o. "Just to be in Third Armor you have to have at least fifty years and ten combat drops in a tank. If you get killed, even if you're brought back, you leave Third Armor and are listed as one of Third Armor's dead. Once you're in Third Armor, you stay until you 'die' or retire."
A'armo'o considered it for a moment while the others waited. Finally, he nodded. "It is a prestige assignment, sought after by those who are more martial in your culture."
O'Malley nodded. "Same with 11th Air Cav. I'm hoping after this deployment I can transfer over there to whatever slot is open even if I have to take a reduction in rank. As it is, I'm just glad I made VII Army."
"Anyone have anyone who dropped?" Mwanajuma asked.
"One," O'Malley said. She shrugged. "His wife gave birth to triplets the week before we left. He's been having serious mortality thoughts ever since. Says he saw a black dog lurking around the firebase."
Trucker made a sound like someone had struck him in the stomach. "Man deploys with a new wife and new babies, he's dead. Law of the Universe, right up there with gravity and hatred."
A'armo'o was surprised that everyone nodded sagely. He had expected the martial lemurs to scoff at the other Terran's weakness.
"Time for the elephant's second foot," Trucker said. "Anyone noticed anything... odd?"
A'armo'o noticed that the Terrans looked uncomfortable.
Vuxten raised one armored hand. When everyone turned and looked at him he tapped the heavy autocannon on the smart harness. "I've seen some of the Terran troops with electrical arcs on their weaponry. It seems to be tied into how thick into the battle they are."
O'Malley nodded. "I've seen that too."
Mwanajuma shrugged. "Not so much. Tempers are up, combat chemicals are kicking in easier."
"Tempers are definitely up," Sok said. "There's been some fights."
Trucker spit again. "Have your officers and senior NCO's keep an eye out for anything odd."
"Like what?" A'armo'o asked.
"Any apparent psychic activity," Sok said.
Trucker nodded, his expression grave. "I overheard some of the Intel boys talking. They think a psychic attack on a sufficently large enough Terran population might have caused the SUDS disruption, which means we might react to it even though we aren't being attacked," he said. He stared at the city. "We're going in against Type III's with heavy Type I and Type II backup, as well as some hybrids."
"I can't believe we gave them almost an entire year to refit," Sok said. She sighed. "I get it, we couldn't find any of their bases in the Long Dark, and it's a big place, but we should still be looking."
"Woulda, shoulda, coulda, didn't," Vuxten shrugged.
"All right, let's give the orders, let this shake up, and get to the deployment points," O'Malley said. Her faceplate snapped closed and it was obvious to A'armo'o that her power armor went live. She nodded and walked away, Lieutenant Vuxten following.
"See you on the other side," Trucker said, turning away. He stopped, staring at the city. "They know we're here, know we're coming."
Mwanajuma shrugged. "Not like we've kept it a secret. Moving this much men and metal is kind of obvious."
Trucker nodded. "Get your drones up. They think they've got something nasty up their sleeves."
Mwanajuma nodded in return. "Ten-Four, General."
Trucker turned to A'armo'o. "Our orders are to do as little damage to the city as possible. You're a tanker, you know the chances of that."
"The same chances a Normadian shellback lizard has when it's sucked into a hoverfan," A'armo'o snorted.
"Pretty much. I'll see ya on the other side," Trucker said. He turned and headed for his tank.
A'armo'o stood out in the drizzling rain for a long moment before he turned and headed for his tank.
The whole meeting felt weird to him. No holograms, no discussion panels, no tons of staff all putting in their opinions, just a half dozen beings meeting in a field.
He clattered aboard his tank, straddling the bench seat. It extended and he settled down on it, the back swinging into place to lean against, the armrests coming up. He belted himself in and looked at his crew.
"We'll be fighting in the city," A'armo'o said. His crew all looked at him. "Set the weapons and battle screens for urban combat. Make sure the Terran modifications do not put the weapons outside of urban warfare parameters."
His crew nodded and set to work on their various systems.
"I have a lot of data on urban warfare from an armored perspective," T'Caw stated.
"I too can assist you," Torgath said through the datalink, his icon blinking on one of A'armo'o's command displays. "I have extensive experience at urban combat."
"Excellent. I will take all the advice you can give," A'armo'o stated.
------------------------
Vuxten had to admit, he felt totally exposed in a very weird way. During First and Second Telkan he had spent plenty of time out in the open, at least until the jungle had overgrown everything. During First Telkan he had spent almost the entire time in a city.
This felt different.
The city ahead on one hand seemed abandoned, on the other hand it was as if it was holding its breath, almost as if there were a ton of enemies just out of sight, watching his every move.
--hate city fighting-- 471 said from inside his armored housing.
"I spent most of the first war in a city," Vuxten said, looking around him. The suburb was largely Lanaktallan, with sloping lawns, two and three story domiciles, all with the rounded corners of Lanaktallan architecture. A lot of houses had broken windows, broken doors, holes in the walls, all of which was silent evidence that the Precursor Autonomous War Machines had been through the suburb.
He was one of six Telkan troops, six human troops, two of Trucker's big tanks, and a Lanaktallan tank. He was used to riding on the back deck so that the tank's speed and manueverability could be used, but now he was walking about fifteen feet away.
"Keep your intervals. Five meters," Sergeant Nazari said, her voice tight. "Let's not have half of us taken out by a mine or grenade."
Icons blinked in assent.
"Element halt," the tank commander suddenly said, holding up his hand in a closed fist.
Vuxten braced himself, putting pressure on the firing grip, and bringing around the heavy cannon to point at the houses. The rest of the Telkan and the humans went down on one knee, holding their weapons ready and scanning their assigned zones.
"Anyone else hear screaming from that house?" he asked, highlighting the house on everyone's retinal links.
"I do," the other tank commander said, racking back the charging handle on the quad-barrel gun and avoiding looking at the house.
Everyone else flashed negative.
"Sergeant Nazari, can you hear it?" Vuxten asked, bringing the house into focus and magnifying it.
"Negative, sir," the human NCO said.
"Open your face shield," Vuxten ordered.
"Yes, sir," The human's skull-like faceplate split down the middle and opened. "By the Digital Omnimessiah's glittering ballsack," she said softly. "It sounds like the wailing of the damned from the city."
"The house, Sergeant," Vuxten said.
"Yes, sir," she said. "I can hear it now. There has to be a dozen people screaming at the top of their lungs in there."
"Seal back up," Vuxten said. He turned and looked. All of the Terrans were in full power armor, the warborgs were, well, warborgs. The only Terrans outside armor were the two tank commanders, who were outside the hatch from the mid-chest up.
"Tankers, seal up. Tell me if you can hear the screaming," Vuxten said.
Something was nagging at him.
The two tankers didn't argue, just dropped inside and closed the hatches.
"Do you still hear it?" Vuxten asked.
"Negative, sir," Captain Geerson said, her voice sounding annoyed.
"No, sir," Captain Ulmamana said. "But I've got almost a thousand tons of armor between me and the screams now."
Vuxten opened his faceplate and listened.
Some explosions in the distance. The wind moaning. Rain pattering.
He couldn't hear any screaming.
"Psychic shields, now," Vuxten snapped. "Cover your teeth in glitter."
--don't see psy attack-- 471 said.
"Trust me, there's something going on," Vuxten replied.
--ride or die-- 471 answered, letting Vuxten know that the little green mantid has his back.
"Warborg Sanchez, pop a stealth drone, slave the feed to the heavies and me," Vuxten said.
"Roger, sir," the heavy assault cyborg's voice was electronic, giving no hint as to the brain's sex.
A panel opened on the big cyborg's leg and a drone popped out, rolled in mid-air to deploy the thin membrane-like wings. It oriented and began floating to the house.
Vuxten watched in a window on his visor, tabbing up a piece of gum to chew as the little drone hovered around the house then went in through a broken window.
The house was a shell. Inside was a massive Precursor vehicle surrounded by a horde of smaller ones. Clankers the size of Vuxten were hanging on the bigger one, ones the size of a ground car were clustered around the heavy treads of the biggest one, which was the size of sixteen freight train cars stacked two high, two wide, four long.
"It's an ambush," Vuxten said. "Pop drones, check the houses."
"Where's the screaming coming from?" Geerson asked.
"The clanker," Vuxten said softly, as if it could hear him. "Somehow, it's coming from the Clanker."
"Prisoners?" Sergeant Nazari suggested.
"If there is, they're inside. We can't help them if that's the case," Captain Ulmamana said.
The front of the house exploded as the Precursor AWM's roared out toward Vuxten and the others, their guns already firing.
Geerson's tank fired its main gun, the size of the big clanker authorizing weapon's free. The tank, named 'Shout it All Out' roared, rocking back on its treads, as the massive gun fired.
The smaller Lanaktallan tank opened fire, raking the smaller ones.
Ulmamana's tank, 'Last Word', opened up on the big one.
Vuxten, the cyborgs, and the other armored infantry opened up with their weapons. The four warbois had already deployed their heavy 20mm chainguns and opened up with rapid fire.
The AWM's had intended on ambushing Vuxten and the others, but an ambush relies on a split second hesitation from the ambushees.
Shout it All Out fired again and the bigger one's battlescreen went down in a shower of sparks. Last Word fired and the entire side of the big clanker caved in, fire gouting out. Two rockets sped in through the shattered armor and gutted the heavy AWM.
Vuxten had glanced up at Geerson in time to see it. The Terran female tanker was firing her quad-barrel, thumbs on the triggers, when the rotating barrels suddenly were wreathed in blue and white crackling electricity. The heavy APDS rounds slammed into the smaller clankers and Vuxten could see an eye-watering flash where the rounds connected.
It was over in less than ten seconds.
"Drones out, keep moving," Captain Geerson ordered.
Vuxten waved the barrel of the autocannon back and forth to cool it as he had his armor record what he had seen and squirt it to MilInt.
--you see that too-- 471 asked.
"Yeah," Vuxten said.
--ungood--
"Yeah."
-------------------------
TELKAN FORGE WORLDS
I'm getting reports of Terrans shooting lightning from their hands.
---NOTHING FOLLOWS---
AKLTAK FREE FLIGHT
Since when do Terrans shoot lightning?
---NOTHING FOLLOWS---
TNVARU GRIPPING HANDS
From what I've seen of historical documentaries, not since the end of the Dark Crusade of Burning Light. Apparently there are no more Terran psychers.
---NOTHING FOLLOWS---
TELKAN FORGE WORLDS
Yeah, well, looks like there are.
I'm getting some weird twinges out of Hesstla. I've had to isolate the Second Telkan Marine Division's feed.
---NOTHING FOLLOWS---
AKLTAK FREE FLIGHT
Define 'weird'.
---NOTHING FOLLOWS---
TELKAN FORGE WORLDS
Repeating time-date stamps with wildly different data.
---NOTHING FOLLOWS---
AKLTAK FREE FLIGHT
I've got a few of my people in with their naval forces. I'm getting the same thing.
---NOTHING FOLLOWS---
TNVARU GRIPPING HANDS
Anything I can help with?
---NOTHING FOLLOWS---
TELKAN FORGE WORLDS
Not unless you can figure out what's going on with the time date stamps. What's even weirder is I've gotten three times the data from those people who are with Second Telkan Marines than anyone else.
It's like they're resending three days worth the data in a single day.
I started to get a headache and had to put them on their own channel.
---NOTHING FOLLOWS---
TNVARU GRIPPING HANDS
That's weird.
Let us know what else happens.
---NOTHING FOLLOWS---
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submitted by Ralts_Bloodthorne to HFY [link] [comments]


2020.09.21 16:13 crumjd Faster Than Light via Sheer Willpower

IMPORTANT NOTE: I already posted the first quarter of this story. If you saw it at that time you can scroll down to the bold italic paragraph and begin reading there.

“What the hell is wrong with your ship?”
Non-human comm discipline isn’t quite as good as the human equivalent. As I understand it, they never had to deal with the crackling early radios that informed our procedures. Sure, on most worlds, when a communication spell was first developed it was the domain of a high priest or archmage, but it was clear.
Still, I’d expected a slightly better introduction to the local traffic control net than a half panicked voice asking a question that made no sense. “This is Frontier helm control. All ship systems reporting nominal. To whom am I speaking?”
I glanced down at my board after I finished speaking. The ship systems were reporting nominal by not activating any shrieking klaxons or flashing lights. But with a few pokes to the controls in front of me, I was able to project a little hologram of the ship status. Everything was outlined in happy green.
“Nominal! I’m registering explosions at your aft end.” The speaker still didn’t identify himself and he still sounded panicked.
I reached out, ‘grabbed’ the hologram, rotated it around to view the back side of the ship, and then zoomed in until I was looking at fairly low-level systems. I wasn’t as far down as I could go. The ship would happily report on the status of individual circuit boards and breakers, but I was surely low enough that I could see anything that a local space station could see. Some components were haloed in light green rather than dark green, but that only meant they were coming up on a service date.
I drummed my fingers against the control board mentally debating if I should launch a drone for an external view or if I should respond with ‘everything’s good’ a second time. On the one hand, whoever I was talking to was probably looking at me in a freaking scrying mirror and shouting into a pointy hat or something so there was seriously no way they’d have noticed something that the ship’s sensors hadn’t. On the other hand, I didn’t want to end up in textbooks as an example of why only a jackass would ignore panicked warnings from traffic control.
Then the hologram changed. A tiny icon shaped like an idealized hydrogen atom exited the back of the ship, a dozen lines lanced out at it, and a flare of fire blossomed behind the ship’s pusher plate. Because I was paying attention I felt the ship give a tiny shudder as we decelerated very slightly.
“There it is! There is again! I just saw a huge explosion behind your ship.”
“Oh, sorry. You’re registering our drive system control. All systems are nominal and everything is under control.”
This, at least, seemed to calm the alien traffic control operator down a tiny bit. He...
Well, I was assuming it was a male from the pitch of its voice. Translation spells are nicer than the computerized equivalent. They tend to give speakers roughly the voice the listener would expect given the nature of the speaker even if the original ‘speech’ was in the form of wild tentacle gesticulations and skin color changes via some alien squid thing. This voice was sort of nasal and high, but definitely male.
He at least listened to me this time, “You’re telling me your ship is deliberately firing off a series of huge fireballs? Is that safe?”
“Perfectly safe, control. You’re seeing laser triggered fusion pulses. They’re as clean as mother’s milk.” That wasn’t strictly true. Even laser pumped fusion makes some tritium. But it’s not very hot and the half-life is short enough that even if some mutant atoms end up in a planet’s upper atmosphere they aren’t going to hurt anyone.
“None of that translated.” The speaker's voice had become more nasal and somewhat accusatory as though I had any control over what its spells could or could not translate. “But if that’s your drive then don’t come any closer. I need to talk to someone about this.”
Then the line cut off. “Control! Control! That’s not how this works. The explosions are my brakes.”
I didn’t get any response.
* * *
I should probably back up enough for a little context.
Mankind made contact with extraterrestrial life for the first time when the Oohmahlock’s enormous crystalline spaceship floated out of the sky and set down in the wilds of Alaska. There was a lot of turmoil in response to that, of course, but the strangest part came when they told us why they were on Earth and how they’d gotten there: pure faith had carried them through space faster than a beam of light, and they were here to tell humanity of our divine mission.
We hadn’t believed them on either count. Tackling their technology seemed easier than tackling their belief system, so we’d set about examining everything they were willing to show us absolutely certain that it was standard tech that they didn’t understand and had thus reduced to superstition. Perhaps the ship had been built long before it had been piloted to Earth by a now fallen civilization.
It was not. Long story short it was not. The Oohmahlock allowed us to examine their technology in any way we requested. They knew what would happen before we started. We found nothing capable of doing anything in it and as soon as we looked closely at it the tech stopped functioning.
Next, the Oohmahlock explained how the ship had been built. And, indeed, they had built it themselves. The crystals that made it up were grown over the course of three generations nurtured by the prayers of their entire civilization. A holy order of monks was founded to slowly shape the crystals into livable spaces and workable power focuses. And, when the end of construction was finally in sight, a dozen times as many traveler priests as was normally needed were taught the chants and hymns of fast travel and breathable air. The very best of that group was selected to pilot the ship and only with this extraordinary effort were they able to land a ship on Earth, and then only by keeping it well away from most of the population.
Then they explained humanity’s divine mission. In the beginning, god created the universe. He created the races therein and to them he gave the ability to adjust the rules of reality so that they might not perish under the iron fist of physics. The races of the vastness grew proud. They called their powers magic and said that the wonders they worked were of will and mind rather than through faith. So, on a planet with more iron in its heart than any other, a race with cold iron in its very blood was born. To this race was given special magic; a magic that enforced the rules of the creator. This race would humble the works of the magi and test even the faithful.
This time god wasn’t screwing around. We would assert the rules of reality whenever we examined something. Humans didn’t get a choice in that.
So that was our mission. To survive and travel. Of course, most people thought that was a load of crap. There was even a contingent of people sufficiently contrary (or self-loathing) that said we shouldn’t travel the galaxy. However, the general reaction was, “There’s a great big fantastic universe out there and you’re going to help us get to it? Well praise the alien lord and pass the booster rockets!”
A new space race was on.
It eventually produced three key technologies that gave mankind the stars: laser lifters, the Orion drive, and the Orion two. Laser lifters were the simplest. If you focus a sufficiently powerful beam into a ‘thruster’ that’s essentially nothing more than a durable black cup then all the air inside flashes to plasma and the cup is tossed upwards. Do that a few thousand times and the cup, as well as anything attached to it, is in space without the brutal constraints imposed by the device having to haul its own fuel with it.
All of the research into lasers let us crack fusion. We were massively aided in this by having allies who could magically mine metallic hydrogen from gas giants. We probably could have built Orion’s with fission devices, but it was an almost perfect drive with laser pumped pulse fusion.
The Orion Two wasn’t related to the Orion Drive from an engineering standpoint but…
* * *
The bridge radio clicked on again and brought me the still nasal and slightly frustrated sounding voice of control. “OK, I talked to my boss, who talked to his boss, who talked to diplomatic affairs. For some reason, I’ve got to let your doom machine approach. So, here you go, park it there and try not to blow up. Well, not any more than you already are.”
The hologram of the ship was replaced with a holographic representation of the parking orbit Control wanted the Frontier to take up. I thought, not for the first time, that the translation spells used by most races really are amazing. Control had probably put a voodoo doll of the Frontier into a scale model of the system expecting a diagram to show up in my scrying bowl or some such. But, because of the translation spell, the information made it to me in a format that the ship’s computer could interpret. Better yet, because the spell was acting on their communication and not my reception the human anti-magic field couldn’t turn it off.
There was a sharp crack of static and the hologram in front of me shifted to a bunch of juvenile squid aliens playing a game that looked a lot like dodgeball. One of those allies, a small and awkward one even to my human eyes, was getting the worst of it. Several other beings were pelting it mercilessly with balls and each of them was using more than one tentacle at a time. Then that image started to fuzz and break up.
I quickly looked away from the hologram. Modern comms training includes a fairly extensive section on not thinking too hard about just how aliens who have never discovered radio are speaking to you. The human anti-magic field always gets a vote if you catch its attention.
Let’s see, the bastard over at control had stuck me in his system’s L2 point. L2 is way out past the moon and it’s gravitationally unstable. If I’d just gotten a normal parking orbit I could have shut off the ship's engines and taken some much-needed rack time. But, oh no, because Control thought I was going to blow up I was going to have to periodically correct the ship’s position. On top of that, I suspected the Orion Drive was too powerful for that work. It would be like trying to make a golf putt with a sledgehammer, so I’d have to run our maneuvering thrusters way more than they were really designed for.
I looked back down at the holo. It was back to being a display of Frontier's parking space. “Parking orbit acknowledged Control,” I said through clenched teeth.
There was a long silence and I thought maybe Control had wandered off without telling me for a moment. Then the line went live again and control spoke hesitantly, “So why is your trip that important, anyway?”
I ran my tongue across my teeth wondering just how to answer that. We were in a Von system. The Von were a race of mighty wizards of the sort that Humanity was sent to humble and bring low. We’d been doing a great job of that. The Von had a lot of desire for human consumer goods. Our technology filled niches their magic handled poorly and anyone could use it without training. Yet all we could buy from them was raw materials. Their military was nearly useless against us because we shrugged off their most potent death magic like it had never been cast; they could throw a rock at us or telekinetically fire an arrow, but that was only if they caught us off guard. So a species with 100 planets to their name was having to normalize diplomatic relations with a single planet species as though we were total equals.
I wasn’t exactly shocked the Von leaders hadn’t publicized this meeting well enough for Control to be ready for us. I also wasn’t going to give away their secrets. “Just some trade negotiations.”
Control’s only reply was a sigh so thick with annoyance that I actually started to feel for the guy. Embarrassing or not the local traffic control facilities really should have been told they were going to be dealing with a completely alien spaceship. No one ever thinks of the little guy.
Again I thought control had signed off without announcing it but he came back one last time. “OK, I’ve got to ask. You’re using fireballs to push yourself around space, which is still nuts, but I learned back in school only one or two really special spells can move something faster than light. Pyromancy definitely doesn’t do it! So how did you make the interstellar leg of your trip?”
* * *
The Orion Two wasn’t related to the Orion Drive from an engineering standpoint but they were philosophical and spiritual brothers. Humanity couldn’t learn directly from the Oohmahlock but we could stand way over there with a particle detector while they used miracles to torment space-time, and the Oohmahlock just loved to do that for us because they basically saw it as helping angels learn god’s will.
Eventually, we learned to make a G.E.C.; a gravity emitting circuit. Because the electroweak force is so much stronger than the gravitational force it’s possible to supercharge one of those until it very briefly becomes a singularity. If you toss such an artificial black hole in front of a ship, and lace enough G.E.Cs through the ship that the force gradient across it is even so you don’t get spaghettified, you’ve got an FTL drive. Better yet if you use a second artificial singularity inside the first, or a third in the second, or a fourth in the third and so on you can go really really fast indeed.
It annoys physicists and mathematicians because they can’t even begin to describe where the ship is after that bit of fuckery, but the tech tested as safe. At least it’s safe for human equipment and Earth life.
It’s not so safe for Oohmahlock. We learned that when one of their high priests took a historic first ride on one of our ‘Holy Vessels’. They started screaming and they didn’t stop until a faith healer wiped their memory. Their whole memory. The high priest was left as little more than a mentally damaged infant and everyone agreed the cure was way better than the disease.
The most sensible thing the priest said while it still had its memories was, “They can see me! They can see me! They can see you, but you can’t see them! They can touch me but they can’t touch you! You can touch them! Save me, save me, save me! Will you save me?”
The official human explanation is that the Oohmahlock have some sort of subconscious connection to the normal universe that allows them to achieve the things they can do. Taking them so far out of the normal universe causes a form of stress that can damage their minds.
The official Oohmahlock explanation is that some sort of horrible thing is looking into our universe from outside and maybe they were wrong about just what humanity needs to do. Perhaps we aren’t just supposed to annoy wizards. Maybe we need to fly around in the high warp bands acting like border guards for reality. Their church is in a bit of a state of flux.
I’d just spent a month in those warp bands and the only danger I’d felt was boredom, so I don’t know what to think. It is nice to imagine that my mind set a big brace down the spine of reality itself, but it’s kind of far fetched.
What I do know is there’s no way I was going to explain any of that to Control. I’d end up with a parking orbit in a neighboring star system. Or maybe he’d just tell me to go in for a landing on the system’s sun.
* * *
“Um, the force of will,” I answered into the radio. “Yeah, pure will power. Everyone on the ship just wants to go faster than light really badly and then we go faster than light.”
“Oh, well good. At least you’ve got a sensible FTL drive. Geez, you should just get that working in-system. Way better than those fireballs. Anyway, your approach vector is clear. Perform a sending if you need anything. Control out.”
* * *
The talks with the Von went well. The biggest incident was when one of the younger secretaries attached to the delegation lost all of her magical cosmetics. She had apparently been wearing a lot of them and apparently her coworkers hadn’t known.
I keep saying ‘apparently’ because the Von aren’t a race to inspire lust in humans. They kind of look like someone shoved a rudimentary skeleton into a squid. They have a skull on an invertebrate neck-stalk, an abbreviated rib-cage analog, and bones for added leverage in 4 of their 8 limbs. They can casually slip a lot of those bones out of joint sacrificing strength and speed for flexibility.
It also makes them look a bit like a deep-sea creature that has inexplicably fallen off a skyscraper. Not great model material.
The whole makeup incident had some positive side effects. The Von use a lot of medical magic at the end of their lives. Once everyone had gotten a visceral example of how hard and fast magic evaporates under the inspection of a room full of skeptical humans our scheduled meetings with some of the more senior staff were canceled. It would’ve been bad for the discussions if the head of the embassy screamed and collapsed into dust.
Second, it gave Control and me something to gossip about. He proved to be a pretty good guy even if he was uptight about human tech, and neither of us was very busy as the port was mostly shut down for the big meeting. We passed the time comparing cultures, swapping stories, and griping about our bosses. Or ‘building an intercultural rapport’ as I put it in my status reports.
* * *
“I said goodbye to my parents last night. Father was brave, but it almost pushed me over the edge when my mother began to cry,” Control said out of the blue.
Well, he didn’t say anything of the kind. He made a series of pops, squeaks, and clicks that the human ear could barely follow, and it would have been quite a huge coincidence if the Von cry. But I had my translator set to dynamic equivalence. As such, that was what I heard and there was no robotic voice breaking into his words to explain, ‘explosive flatulence is an expression of sadness for the Von,’ or whatever.
“Buddy, you’re going to be fine! Your people wouldn’t want to trade for our warp drives if they weren’t safe. And you’ve given us, what, like 10 whole planets if this works.”
“If! And my people aren’t thinking clearly. What is the horrible death of a single comms operator if it might alleviate the biggest weakness of our magic?”
Control could be a downer sort of squid. We were still calling each other ‘Control’ and ‘Helm’ because he couldn’t pronounce ‘Jeff’ and I couldn’t pronounce ‘engine that really needs oiled’ sounds.
I cast about for something to distract him and found it in the form of a rather grand Von in the corner of the room. He had on robes stitched with precious materials and held a quartz staff shot with veins of natural gold surmounted by a huge ruby. He was wearing a very grand hat though it actually looked more like a sombrero than the pointy thing humans associated with fictional wizards.
“Alright, even if your people would throw you to the wolves that guy is pretty important and magically experienced. He wouldn’t get onto this ship if all non-humans were doomed would he?”
“The high mage is the foremost master of spatial magics, so yeah he’s pretty important. He also has considerable faith in his own abilities. Perhaps enough so that he would underestimate the risk.” Despite his words, Control’s simulated tone sounded a bit less stressed.
I felt I was on the right track to comfort him. “This stuff is also pretty good, right? Some sort of magic armor?”
Control and I were hanging plates of enchanted material the Von had provided around one of the aft cargo bays like it was so much drywall. However, even to a complete mundy like me, it appeared to be fancy stuff. It was pattern welded like Demsasus steel. Only the patterns in it were magical runes and half a dozen materials had been woven together in its construction.
Control sniffed in an offended way, “‘Pretty good!’ ‘Magical armor!’ I’ll have you know, this is the best anti-magic armor in the known universe. This,’ He stroked it almost reverently, “enforces the rules of reality such that no spell may travel through it. This material accounts for some of the vast might of the Von military as well as the fact that our natural philosophy is far more advanced than any other race. It will contain a bubble of the real universe even in the face of your horrific drive system!”
Control was sounding a bit more like himself so I let him slide on referring to their iron age understanding of the laws of reality as ‘advanced.’ Instead I looked back at the magical plating. It was basically a weak version of the human effect. Interesting. No wonder they were letting me touch it. I’d thought that was just a sort of stress test, but this might be a spell humans couldn’t break. Or could we? Actually, it was probably best not to think about that question in case the answer was, “Yes.”
The High Wizard chose that moment to provide something better for more to think about. He was still over by his crate, but now he was loudly chanting something my translator couldn’t handle while he twisted his tentacles and limbs into all manner of strange shapes. That went on for a moment then, with a triumphal air that carried across species, he slammed his staff into the deck and the big gem on top flashed. With growing excitement, I realized I was watching magic.
The pallet of material in front of the wizard heaved itself off the ground and wobbled unsteadily about half a foot in the air for a moment. I started to mouth, “Cool!” Then the entire load slammed back into the ground with a crash that sounded like it couldn’t have been good for whatever was inside.
The high wizard slumped, and let me tell you, a being whose skeleton is mostly optional can really slump. Then he turned around in that slow ‘did anyone see that’ way of a being who has just realized their fly is open and hurriedly fixed it in public.
When he saw me he stiffened and pointed an angry appendage, “Human! You are rendering it impossible to work! Begone!”
I drew in breath for some sort of retort. I’m not sure what it would’ve been. Something so clever and scathing it would have set diplomatic relations back decades, probably. But then I felt the weight of Control’s tentacle on my shoulder. I looked back at him.
“Perhaps it would be best if you return to your duties elsewhere. We are well ahead of our schedule due to your wondrous ‘electric screwdrivers’ which penetrate the anti-magic plate where our most potent tools fail. It will ease the High Wizards work if he can once again access his spells.”
The High Wizard could have accessed a hand truck as far as I was concerned, but we were nearly done so I just nodded. “Alright, call me if you have any problems.”
* * *
“Comm check, medical bay here,” I spoke into the comms panel in the med bay. It was my station for our test flight. There were half a dozen Von soldiers lying unconscious in the beds. Half of them had been tranquilized via human medical science, half with magic. Human medical personnel buzzed around them.
“Um, this is the converted cargo bay. Oh, bay A-3. Can you hear me? Did I activate this correctly?”
“You’re on. Do it just like that if you need to send any messages.”
“Bridge here. Your headset should be listen-only on our general channel and I’ve got the wall panel hooked to Captain’s priority. Is it all coming in?”
I cocked my head and listened to the prelaunch chatter for a moment on that device. It was all coming in clearly. At the moment they were working through the end of the “Station Ready” checklist. That meant we were less than 5 minutes from getting underway. “It’s all coming in,” I told the bridge via the wall panel.
“Very good. Bridge over.”
I leaned back on the wall and felt minor shudders go through it as the first of the fusion pulses went off. We were moving farther away from everything so we could go FTL. It was somewhat strange to be doing nothing during this part of the flight as I would normally be at my busiest. At the moment my job was to have no job. That way I could keep track of where we were in OUR flight sequence so I’d know how long it was to the end of the flight and what our window was on an emergency abort while simultaneously being available to Control and the medical staff if anything went pear-shaped on their ends.
For fifteen minutes, we traveled through normal space and everything went smoothly. The magical sleepers stayed asleep and the medicated sleepers stayed healthy. Control reported back to his superiors magically and me via the comms system. He even admitted that fusion explosions were a softer means of propulsion than he’d expected.
I heard we were at a minimum safe distance on the general channel so opened the channel back to control and spoke into it and the room in general, “Alright everyone, we’re about to go superluminal. Fifteen minutes out. Fifteen minutes back.”
The anesthesiologist gave me the thumbs up, but everyone else in the room kept their eyes glued to their tasks.
“Grace of Magic, protect and provide in this my hour of need,” Control murmured over the comms. I doubted I was expected to comment on that.
Going FTL in a human ship feels a bit like getting pushed and poked from a half dozen directions at once as the gravitational stabilizers spin up hard enough to prevent spaghettification and then self-tune until the local gravity field is nice and even again. I felt that, heard a series of agitated clicks over the comms, and then everything went back to normal. I looked around at the brightly lit medical space and the still apparently peaceful Von laying in it. They seemed good. I thumbed open the channel to the converted cargo bay, “Control, how are you liking the ride?”
“Was it meant to feel like someone was tugging on my spleen for a moment then smooth out?”
“Yeah, that’s about right.”
“In that case, my situation remains nominal…”
Control’s all clear report cut out suddenly as two things happened simultaneously. First, there was a loud bang and a thick cloud of white acrid smoke rolled out of the communications panel in front of me. Second, all three of the magically tranquilized soldiers began to jerk and seize.
“Shit,” the anesthesiologist swore. Then she looked over at me, “Let the bridge know we’re going to need to abort.” She immediately turned back to her work either not noticing the panel in front of me was dead or deciding that was my problem. Doctors are focused like that.
The touch screen of the comms panel was dark, but I gave it a couple of good jabs with my thumb anyway hoping that it would wake back up. It didn’t, so I took off running out of medical and down the hall to the bridge. The Frontier is bigger than most people picture when they think, ‘spaceship’ but it was still going to be faster to run across it than it was to fix the comms.
Only it wasn’t. The first bulkhead door I came to was shut, which isn’t normal, and its motion sensor ignored my approach, which is even odder.
All the bulkhead doors have a little screen next to them. Under ordinary circumstances, they display an identifier and can provide a little map of the ship if you’re lost. During a depressurization event, which is the only thing that should have made the door fail shut, they’re supposed to display environmental status for the corridor beyond and allow for the door to be manually opened. Only now the screen was dark and there were scorch marks on the panel above it.
I gave the screen a punch, more out of anger than any hope that it would wake up. It didn’t wake up. It did fall off the wall. I looked into the recess beyond it and found a small scattering of black powder as well as the remnants of what looked like a crystal and maybe a couple of liquids. I wasn’t sure what I was looking at, but the crystal sure seemed like Von magic and the black stuff could have been gunpowder.
Down the hall, the anesthesiologist poked her head out of the med bay, “Hey, we’ve got the Von under again, but we’re getting some odd readings. It’s like they’ve all started to have nightmares. What’s going on with the abort?”
“Sabotage I think! We’re still superluminal.” My receive only headset was fine and still connected to the bridge so I knew we were four levels deep and holding with all systems green. They hadn’t noticed the link to the medical bay was dead yet. “There are panels in all of these rooms. Maybe I can…”
My clever plan to make the call from a different phone was interrupted by a huge explosion from the direction of the cargo bay. This one definitely wasn’t caused by black powder. Instead of a bang the sound of it was like a super high pitched tuning fork being struck and flashes of black light strobed all around us for a moment.
I felt nothing, of course, but someone in the medical bay yelled, “Fuck! What the hell was that? It’s hitting the Von hard; Ann we need you!”
Ann shot me a look, then vanished back into medical without speaking. We were close to the cargo bay, and I knew it had a commlink. So I sprinted in that direction planning to call in the abort from there once I had the full situation.
Fortunately, the door to the cargo bay was open. The screen next to it was glitching and there was a black stain on the wall above it, but whatever had happened hadn’t been enough to make it fail shut. I sprinted through without slowing.
The bay itself was a mess. The anti-magic paneling was fine, and the human equipment looked about like it always had, but all of the Von’s crates were scattered like they’d been hit by a strong wind. Control was laying in one corner making an undulating squealing sound I’d never heard from him before. My translator couldn’t do anything with it, but it sounded like distress to me.
“Buddy, are you OK. What’s going on?”
“I am… I feel… It’s like magic is looking directly at me. I feel like it’s judging me. Inspecting me. I can function. The plating helps, but this is most unpleasant.”
“Was that what that flash was?”
“No that was,” then the English from my translator dissolved into clicks and pops as it found a term it couldn’t handle. Most likely it was some technical explanation of whatever magical thing had just happened. “I must check on the High Wizard.”
The Frontier's cargo bays are modular and can be configured with extra walls and dividers at need. That’s what we’d done for this experiment: we’d set up one chamber that was the correct size for the amount of anti-magic plating the Von provided and a second unshielded chamber where the High Wizard could work freely. Control was looking at the door between them. It had been mostly covered by crates when the Von equipment was thrown around.
“The door servos are pretty strong. If you can squeeze your way over to the control panel they’ll be able to push that stuff out of the way.”
“I can do that,” Control said and the translator gave him a confident tone. Then he started popping his ribs out of joint and I had to look away as his entire torso crumpled up like an old sock that had been used to store nails. (No, I have no idea why someone would store nails in an old sock, but if the mental image of a being looking like that is unpleasant you’re on the right track.)
I walked over to the comm panel and, at last, found something that hadn’t been inexpertly blown up. It was showing that the link to the medical bay had cut out unexpectedly, which I already knew. I cleared that error and connected it to the bridge instead.
As soon as the channel was open, the bridge officer started speaking, “Cargo bay? What’s happening back there? Medical is offline.”
“This is Jeff. Medical has problems. I need an emergency abort.”
There was some garbled, but energetic, discussion on the other end of the line that I couldn’t quite follow, and then the bridge came back, “I’ve signaled it, but we’re in band transition. I’ll need five minutes to get us back to flat-space.”
Across the room, there was a whine of stressed servos, but when I looked back the door to the High Wizard’s chamber was open. “OK, I’m going to check on the High Wizard. I should be back with his status in 30 seconds. If you need me sooner, I’ve still got the general channel in ‘receive only’.”
“Roger.”
What I didn’t tell the bridge, because they couldn’t do anything about it at the moment, was that I suspected the High Wizard’s status was ‘traitorous bastard.’ Someone had set all of those black powder charges and when I looked over at Control I found him pressed up against a film of blue light which now filled the door.
“It’s a magical shield!”
I drew the sidearm I’d been issued before we let a half dozen soldiers and an alien wizard onto the ship. “Magical shields aren’t fucking real.” The shield popped like a soap bubble and Control went stumbling into the High Wizard’s chamber.
I ran to the door, crouched down, and looked around it with my head low to the ground so I wouldn’t provide a ready target. The scene beyond the door was like something out of a DnD game. There was a circle drawn on the floor in the milky blue-white fluid Von use for blood. Crystals, each one emitting enough black light that my uniform was fluorescing, were set at regular intervals around the outside of the circle. There was a ring of symbols on the inside. I can’t read Vonish script. They could have said anything, but they were glowing a nasty sickly green. The high wizard was on the outside of the circle on the far side of the room. Right after I arrived at the door he finished a chant that my translator couldn’t handle and turned to face Control who was sprawled on the floor.
The real piece de resistance of the whole scene was what looked like an extra-large Von made of glowing green light in the center of the circle.
We all froze for a second, but the High wizard recovered fastest. “So, you survived the,” my translator dropped a word, “that’s most impressive. You must have considerably more magical talent than I gave you credit for.”
“What are you doing,” Control demanded.
“I am gaining power. The power we need to ensure the Von place in the universe. Power far more potent than Human scraps. I can’t let you interfere.” With that, he raised his staff and snapped out an untranslatable word. A bolt of power lanced out of the staff and flew across the room. In his prone position, Control never had a chance at dodging. The bolt caught him squarely and he slumped back down as a nasty burnt fish smell filled the air.
The Wizard wasn’t holding any weapon beyond his staff that I could see. I stood, trained my sidearm on his chest, and stepped into the doorway. “Please put the staff down, and I will escort you to the bridge.” I glanced down at the still form of my friend, “You have considerable diplomatic immunity for what you’ve done thus far but I would strongly advise you not to push it any farther.”
He said his word again, only this time the spell was pointed at me and there wasn’t so much as a flicker in the crystal of the staff. “Put down the staff,” I said around clenched teeth.
“Oh please, allow me,” a third voice said. It was very cultured and smooth and it came from the center of the circle. When I looked, I saw that the figure of light had transformed itself from a Von to a handsome Human male. It was wearing a suit and it was built on a scale such that its head nearly brushed the ceiling.
It flicked its hand out at the High Wizard and the High Wizard turned inside out. That was nasty. The Wizard's jaws yawned wide and it started to let out a pained squeal. Then, with a crack, they jerked just a bit wider and filled with blueish tissue that must have come from somewhere inside the being. Over the next 15 seconds, more of its insides fountained through its mouth until they were all outside and it was nothing but an unidentifiable blob of flesh laying on the floor.
I opened my mouth. I suppose I wanted to say something, but if anything came out it was only a little whimper.
The thing did not appear to be overly concerned with what it had done, because it began speaking in a completely casual and urbane tone. “You are something very interesting. He was a sleeper who dreamt a dream not of this place. But you…. Hmmm, I can’t tell if you’re a dream of the one who dreamt of all of this or if maybe you just happened. Still, you are completely awake. I dare say we have quite a bit to offer each other. Would you like to be able to change all of this like that thing could before I killed it?”
“You’re offering me magic? Just like that.”
“Just like that! Well, there’s a certain resonance I’d need to achieve by killing the other beings on this ship. I can explain why later, but you need to decide quickly. I can feel you falling away from me and your nature is pushing me away. I don’t think one of your type could ever get me back on your own.”
I know a couple of TV show tough guy lines like, ‘here’s my decision’ or ‘is this quick enough for you’ ran through my head, but I’m pretty sure I just robotically trained my weapon on him and pulled the trigger without saying anything. My sidearm is a standard Gravitational Compression Gun. It fired a pulse of gravitational energy which compressed a meter wide column of air between me and the target into a centimetre wide beam of burning white plasma. Then a second pulse rippled down the plasma and slammed it into the target. There was a crack like thunder as the air collapsed back in on itself and my eyes were left slightly dazzled.
The GC gun does horrible things to any living target it hits. It’s not quite as hard on Outer Horrors but they don’t like it. The simulacrum of a man let out a bellow of rage and wavered for a moment before stabilizing again.
“Fine,” it snapped then raised its hand and made a gesture like it had at the High Wizard. I felt a painfully sharp tug at my jaw and stomach simultaneously, but it faded before it could even work my jaws open.
I squeezed the trigger of my GC again and the thing waved under another onslaught of plasma, but it only seemed like a momentary inconvenience for it. Worse yet, I could hear someone saying something about slow warp band collapse on the bridge general channel. We were having a hard time coming out of FTL. That’s not completely unusual, and no one on the bridge was that worried. With the context I had, it seemed bad.
The man shape made a different gesture then joined its two hands together such that its thumbs and fingers touched in front of it making a little triangle. A bar of silver light shot out of the triangle and slammed into my chest. It felt like an icicle stabbing into me, and I staggered backward. When I looked down frost coated the front of my uniform and a small patch of blood it. Still, the thing had a shocked look on its face and I had to assume that was because I was still standing.

SEE MY COMMENT FOR THE LAST BIT.

submitted by crumjd to HFY [link] [comments]


2020.09.19 04:47 NoYeezyAtWeezyHeezy Keith Urban - THE SPEED OF NOW Part 1 (Album Discussion)

Keith Urban - THE SPEED OF NOW Part 1 (Album Discussion)

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Keith Urban - THE SPEED OF NOW Part 1

Release Date: September 18th, 2020
Label: A Hit Red Records/Capitol Records Nashville
Producers:
  • Captain Cuts (Ben Berger, Ryan McMahon and Ryan Rabin): Track 4
  • Cutfather (Mich Hedin Hansen): Track 2 and 7
  • Dan McCarroll: Track 2, 5, 10 and 12
  • Dann Huff: Track 6, 15 and 16
  • Eg White: Track 14
  • Jaren Johnston: Track 11
  • Jeppe Bilsby: Track 7
  • Joey Moi: Track 13
  • Jordan Schmidt: Track 9
  • Keith Urban: All Tracks
  • Luke Niccoli: Track 10
  • Matthew Koma: Track 5
  • PhD (Peter Wallevik & Daniel Davidsen): Track 2
  • Sam Sumser: Track 1 and 8
  • Sean Small: Track 1 and 8
  • Zach Kale: Track 3
(songwriters in parenthesis)
  1. Out the Cage feat. BRELAND and Nile Rodgers - (Daniel Breland, Keith Urban; Sam Sumser; Sean Small)
  2. One Too Many feat. P!nk - (Cleo Tighe; Daniel Davidson; James Norton; Mich Hansen; Peter Wallevik)
  3. Live With - (Bobby Pinson; Jon Nite; Zach Kale)
  4. Superman - (Ben Berger; Craig Wiseman; Keith Urban; Ryan McMahon; Ryan Rabin)
  5. Change Your Mind - (Fransisca Hall; Matthew Bair)
  6. Forever - (Brentt Cobb; Jaren Johnston)
  7. Say Something - (Brandyn Burnette; Celine Svanback; Jeppe Bilsby; Keith Urban; Lindy Robbins; Mich Hansen; Scott Quinn)
  8. Soul Food - (Daniel Breland; Keith Urban; Sam Sumser; Sean Small)
  9. Ain't It Like a Woman - (Jaren Johnston; Jordan Schmidt; Justin Ebach)
  10. With You - (Luke Niccoli; Megan McInerney; Nate Cyphert)
  11. Tumbleweed - (James McNair; Jaren Johnston; Neil Mason)
  12. God Whispered Your Name - (Chris August; James Slater; Micah Carter; Shy Carter)
  13. Polaroid - (Geoff Warburton; Griffen Palmer; Mark Trussell; Sam Fischer; Steph Jones)
  14. Better Than I Am - (Eg White; Keith Urban)
  15. We Were - (Eric Church; Jeff Hyde; Ryan Tyndell)
  16. We Were feat. Eric Church - (Eric Church; Jeff Hyde; Ryan Tyndell)
Leave your thoughts below. Do you like it? Do you hate it? Favorite songs? Least favorite songs? All thoughts welcome!
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2020.09.15 20:14 a7xfanquebec Operation Urban Garden

Little crossover for an upcoming season me and my friend had.
Y6S2
OPERATION URBAN GARDEN
New operator : Ghost (2 speed and 2 armor), (Nomad from Ghost recon Breakpoint and wildlands)
Primary weapon : Stoner Lmg A1, M4
Secondary : M1911 TACOPS
Seconday Gadgets : Claymore or flashbangs
Gadget : Ghost has access to the EMP variation of the recon Drone. he has acess to 2 of them. the drone is similar to the echo drone but it can fly in all axis. When the drone activates the emp charge, the drone is destroyed. The drone can be counter by Mute jammers, Magnets, Electrified surfaces or by simply shooting on it. While being an intel operator he is also a subsitute for thatcher.
MAP REWORK : Favela (I currently don't have any ideas for this map rework but i think it could be a pretty good map if worked on properly)
submitted by a7xfanquebec to Rainbow6 [link] [comments]


2020.09.14 10:27 Oculusfluffy Policefluffs 2: Stake by Oculus (xpost from fluffybooru)

Policefluffs 2: Stake by Oculus (xpost from fluffybooru)
Originally posted on: https://www.fluffybooru.com/post/view/55977
Previous chapter: https://www.reddit.com/fluffycommunity/comments/iof3bn/policefluffs_by_oculus_xpost_from_fluffybooru/
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POLICEFLUFFS 2: STAKE
“Mummah wuv Buddie! Am bestest babbeh!”
The Yehdoo brought her two front legs around her son and kept him in a tight embrace, and Buddy felt a bit embarrassed. As required for his evaluation, Buddy was brought back to Hasbio every quarter, both for examination, and enrichment through parental contact.
“Fwuffy wuv mummah tu.” “Buddy am a good fwuff? Be good fwuff for da hummehs?” “Yus mummah. Buddy am good fwuff. Wowked hawd as a powice fwuff.”
Buddy’s mother, Flavia, smiled. A pedigree Yehdoo, she had nice puffy cheeks and a thick pink coat. Her legs were long, and an emblem of a hare in sprint on her flank indicated a past history as a racing fluffy. That was in her younger days. Now, as a trained Yehdoo, she spends most of her days training younger fluffies of her breed as a coach for races, and for some, as an instructor for guide fluffies for the blind.
As Buddy hugged her in return, he took a good look at his surroundings. A two storied area, complete with a television, areas for exercise, items for enrichment, a staircase to practise climbing, and to reach the beds in the second level. Home, he thinks. Not the same as the harder kennels and barracks he had become accustomed to, but it was welcome comfort. There was another fluffy here to see Buddy in the abode. Standing at the mid-section of the staircase, was a white fluffy, of the Waggytail breed. However, unlike other Waggytails, or most other fluffies, he carried himself in a dignified manner. He had a black mane and tail, and wore glasses, a result of age dimming his once strong eyesight. His name was Peter, and Buddy was happy to see him.
“Hey dad.”
Flavia leaves the embrace, and excitedly said “Speshul fwen! Buddie i-i-is here to s-see ‘ou!"
Flavia had spent a lot of time in training as both a “seeing-eye-fluff” and as a racehorse, and thus, had a lot of experience with human speech. However, even at her best attempts to replicate human speech, she was limited by a constant stammer and stutter.
“I know, Flavia. I’d like to talk to him.”
As the paternal figure climbed up the stairs, a slightly curious Buddy turned to his mother.
“Wai daddeh wan tok to fwuffy?”
Flavia gave a reassuring look to her son. “Daddeh miss his babbeh. Daddeh wuv his onwy an’ bestest babbeh.”
~
“So how is everything going for you, bud?”
Peter’s room sits atop a large building exposed to the harsh terrain of the future. Surveying the vast desert landscape, both Buddy and Peter looked through the desolate void. Decades of war, environmental damage and pollution had corrupted a once pristine landscape, and the scraps of forest that bordered it were now gone.
“I’m doing fine dad.”
“Are the people at the station treating you well?”
“They are.”
Buddy always wondered why his father wanted to have talks like this with him. It was like he was trying to get across some message to him, but had difficulty in doing so. This was not to say that Peter had not disciplined his son as a foal, but usually, most punishments or interaction was handled by Hasbio staff, or by Peter with supervision from the staff.
“Has there been any trouble? I remember the time you called me in the middle of the night, when you were being trained by the army, saying how much you missed your mother and I.” “I’m fine, dad. And that was a long time ago.” “That was just two years ago.” “Yeah, well, I’ve been a police fluffy for half a year now. I can manage dogs. I have seen dead bodies. And I can hold my ground in a fight.”
Peter turned to look at his son. Although Buddy was trained to be able to defend himself, fluffy fragility was not unknown to either of them.
“Fights? Buddy-“ “Dad, I’m a policefluff. Its going to happen, sooner or later.” “You’re supposed to let the dogs or the humans tackle the threat. Remember, you’re only a fluffy. Even if you eat meat, run like a dog and can bite, you’re still a fluffy. A horse. Not a dog.” “I know dad.”
Peter picked up on Buddy's annoyance. "Son, when we have these talks, they're only because we all love you very much, and we’re worried for you.” “I know dad, but you also know that Hasbio selected me for this.”
Peter sighed. “I know. I know all too well.”
A slight ding resounded. As the fluffy family had hooves, and thus no opposable thumbs, they could not cook. Food had to be provided to them through an elevator, in bowls that could be grasped by both hooves the way fluffies could grasp their building blocks. Upon receiving the meals through the delivery service, Flavia calls out for her two best boys.
“Speshul fwen! Babbeh! Nummies!”
As the fluffy family sat at the table, Buddy took a good look at his dish. It was specially ordered by his mother for her bestest babbeh.
“Eat up babbeh!
Steak.”
~
“So what is the Chef’s special today?” “Chateaubriand Steak, sir. Wagyu beef.” “What kind? “Australian Flufallo. Free range, well marbled and well-aged.” “I’ll have a steak then. Medium-rare.”
Officer Jenny was seated at the table, dressed formally in a black blouse and skirt for a civilian setting. Across the table sits a gentleman wearing a business suit. Wearing glasses and sporting a beard, he smiled as he looked at Jenny.
“I kind of miss when they served flufallo veal around here. It was the most delectable meat. And it’s a shame that the Australians never permitted the veal from their grade of cattle.” “You know why they banned it. The flufalloes in Australia started to riot when they found about the practise.” “But its not like the flufallo around here are any more intelligent. I seriously don’t get why some Ozziefluff agrarian decision should affe-“
Jenny was getting impatient and interrupted him mid-sentence.
“Look, I know you are my superior, but I would like to know why you called me all the way out here. Princess needs her shots.” “Ah yes, your wonderful Princess. How is she, ‘mistress’?” Jenny tried her best to hide resentment to the taunt. “Princess Rainbow Sprinkles is fine. She occasionally starts to develop awareness, but the shots have been enough to make her lose her memory or keep her docile.”
As Jenny said this, the waiter arrived with the executive’s dish. “Your steak sir. Bon appetit.”
Licking his lips, the executive grabs his knife. He delicately cuts a small portion, while asking about Outback. Jenny answers, “Outback’s the same. I keep him tanked up on VB as well as his favourite fruits and veggies. He’s cranky and a little bit stand-offish, but for the most part, he gets along with everyone in the station. Especially the SWAT.”
As he consumes the morsel, the executive takes a moment to appreciate the fat content and juice of a steer that had lived a long life, spent enough times with its herd and, with the humane policies of the Australian Beef Industry, underwent a euthanasia process that allowed the steer to reflect and enjoy its last moments in peace. All those memories and happiness, condensed into one juicy morsel.
“I heard Outback took out a few terrorists.” “Just two cult members. There has been no sightings of the Case Designate J in the past few months.”
The executive continued to cut into his steak. As the juice gushed forth from the cooked meat, Jenny could feel a tinge of hunger. The executive noticed. “Aren’t you going to order something? I can pay for the meal.” Jenny shook her head. “I just want to get back to Princess soon. And I know what you want to ask.”
The juice continued to drip from the meat piece, as some of it fell onto the executive’s bib.
“Buddy has been doing fine. We’ve only been placing him through search-and-rescue missions. We don’t expect him to fight, and he’s been pretty effective so-“ “He’s not developing.” Jenny raised an eyebrow. “Excuse me?” “We wanted a hybrid that was not only capable of infiltration and retrieval. You know there is more we expect out of the hybrid.” “He’s only been with the force for half a year. He may eat meat, he may run fast, but he’s not a dog, he’s a horse. A pony, even.” “You know that’s not what I’m talking about.”
As he keeps chewing, Jenny had enough. Restraining herself, she got up, and departed. The executive smirked to himself, as he continued to cut deep into the meat.
~
“This is a priority encoded communication from the Equine Development and Enrichment Subdivision of Hasbio Incorporated. Date June 20 2120. For urgent attention to Commissioner Remy Garry, Captain MacReady of the Central Investigation Department and Officer Clarke of the K-9 unit. Special order for immediate action. Priority. Send MacReady, Subjects 2214425B and 15212021311O to investigate Missing Person case 317. Location is at the 'De-Urbanized Arcological[4] Construct' located in Sector 37 of the Mega-City. No other personnel are to be attached.”
~
“So come on now MacReady, whose this missing person 317?” “Well, remember when Buddy found that body in level 50 of the arcology?” “Yeah, I ‘memba.” “According to the coroner, the guy was not sacrificed as part of the cult. He was murdered.”
The handler Clark blinked his eyes. “Excuse me?”
“According to forensics, the victim was in the middle of sacrificing a fluffy when some unknown individual interrupted him. There were signs of a struggle, but the other party managed to dominate him, and plunge the dagger into his heart. The black eyes were because he was in the middle of the trance and had injected himself with Blood Jelly drug.”
“Ah shit.” Clark had one too many encounters of people smuggling the blood of Jellenheimers across the border.
“So here’s the problem. The new missing person is that teenager’s sister. Apparently, the teenager had not finished some ritual, and now the Cult wants his sister. Perhaps as a sacrifice, perhaps to convert her, god knows what else.” “Fucking hell.”
Clark then raises an eyebrow. “Something like that requires like a team or something. Why are they only sending you and the two policefluffs?” “I dunno man. I think it's bullshit too, but it's orders from the Commish Garry.”
“I don’t like it. I don’t like one bit.”
~
Captain MacReady was decked out in a brown denim coat, with a checkered tie, blue shirt and pants. He lead Outback, Buddy, Huey, Dewey and Louie to the back of his personalized hovercar. Though designed as a single seater, the car, based after SUVs of a bygone era, had enough space for an animal as large as Outback, and still had enough space to fit in one tall fluffy and three German Shepherd Good Boys. Upon closing the loading door, MacReady opened the gull-wing door of his vehicle, and entered the cockpit. With MacReady manually switching on the various buttons and equipment, the craft started to hover as it slowly departed, away from the helipad of the Police Outpost 31.
“Fackin’ ‘ell, mate. Its like a cunt can’t even breathe in here.” “Shaddup, outback. You’re not the only who's in a tight squeeze.”
It is night. The hovercar speeds through the designated skyline, obeying the lights demarcating the imaginary roads of the airways, as it makes its way through the arcology.
~
Although they appear as huge buildings on the outside, the interior of the arcology, especially in its residential areas, were reminiscent of the sidewalks, streets and apartments of a city like Manhattan at the turn of the millennium. As the hovercar landed upon a road within the greater atriums of the arcology, a homeless man with dreadlocks sat beside the sidewalk. A young foal is busy dancing like a robot, while singing an ancient tune.
Bad fwuffs Whatcha want, watcha want Whatcha gonna do When shewiff Jon Bwown come for Fwuff Teww Fwuff Whatcha wanna do, whatcha gonna dooo Yeaheah Bad fwuffs, bad fwuffs Whatcha gonna do, whatcha gonna do When dey come for fwuff
~
The trio had split up. Detective MacReady was busy interviewing locals who lived in the nearby apartments. Two of the dogs remained in the vehicle. Buddy, Outback, and the dog Huey were walking down the alleyway, through the tunnels that connected to the vents and pipes. While the residential area was populated, the alleyway was a gateway to the dilapidated warehouse areas of the arcology, which had been abandoned not too long ago.
As the trio kept walking, and when they were well away from a camera, or human ear, Outback voiced a concern.
“You trust the humans too much, Buddy.” “What do you mean?” “Don’t get me wrong. Humans can be likeable, and my team are a bunch of adorable cunts, but there’s a lot about humans that’s downright facked in the head.” “Why are you being such a cynic now, Outback?” “Think about it, mate. We’re supposed to looking for a room with an altar aroun’ ‘ere. And a girl was missing. Yeah, that bit about them blokes saying this area was clear and no cultists? They’re telling porkies.” “Well, the cult did clear out, and you took down the remaining two members.” “My point is, we were assigned to find a missing individual in a place that was previously considered a ground for their cult.” “You speak like as if they will come back. Lighting does not strike the same area twice” “I hate it to break to ya mate, but this ain’t lightning. I’m sure the fuckers are around here. Even with the cameras and the coppers around, they’re bound to be around ‘ere, somewhere.”
Sensing a truth to Outback’s works, Buddy realized that there was a lead they both could follow. “Well, if the humans are lying, the fluffies don’t. Usually. The last time I was here, the ferals were starting to join the cult. If the humans are hiding something, maybe the ferals would know better.” “Yeah? And how do ya propose we go ‘bout gettin’ that intel?”
As Outback said this, Buddy noticed the graffiti on the wall. In a style evocative of a child using crayons, Buddy recognized the image of the Jellenheimer that he saw before, and of a man holding a tray. “I’ve been here before. There should be a friendly contact around here.” And true enough, the cardboard box was still there. Walking up to it, Buddy switched his mind to the tune of Fluffspeak, and initiated contact.
“Huwwo fwen? Fwen fwuffy hewe.” Buddy taps the box. No answer. “Fwen?” Buddy decides to peek inside the cardboard box.
The fluffy he met last time, who provided him with the info he needed, was dead. A large slash encircled its neck. The wound was fresh. But its eyes were black, indicating the consumption of Jellenheimer blood. And beside the corpse of the fluffy, Buddy could vaguely make out the letters, written in thick blood, “HEWP”
“Oh fuck.”
Just as Buddy said that, Huey started to bark. Huey’s bark echoed throughout the surroundings, as Buddy saw a young girl. She had black hair, her face dirty with grime, and a little blood. She was wearing a plain white dress, stained with dirt, and she was barefooted. It was the missing person.
As Huey kept barking, Buddy twitched his face. Using his face muscles to activate the non-invasive communication device attached this ear, he made a call to MacReady. “This is Buddy. Outback and I have found 317. Requesting immediate extraction-“
“She’s gone.”
As Outback said that, Buddy looked again. True enough, the girl was gone. In her place, a herd of feral fluffies could be seen. All of them sporting various colours. All of them consisting of the different types – unicorn, earth and Pegasus. A multitude of breeds, such as the Carpdime, Gowdie, McGonagall, Mutagen and Fwuffee breeds.
And all of them had the black eyes.
“JOIN DA JEWWY HURD JOIN DA JEWWY HURD”
~
BANG!
As the gunshot reverberated across the empty spaces, the ferals began to disperse. Buddy and Outback spun around to see the figure of MacReady, who fired the shot. Dewey and Louie were tagging along, ready to pounce in case any of the ferals get the wrong idea.
“So where’s the girl?” asked MacReady “No idea Mac. One minute we saw her, and next, those ferals turned up.” “She must be nearby.” “Any leads, mate?” “I got nothing. All the locals don’t want to talk. And seems the fluffy locals aren’t too friendly.” “You tell me. The fluffy who gave me the intel last time is dead.”
Outback looks left and right. He is unshaken, but gravely concerned, “Did you see the eyes on those facking things? They took the damn blood.” “Yeah that’s the least of our problems, Aussie. You said you saw the girl. Where was she?” Buddy raised his hoof towards the direction of where the feral assembly was. “She was there one moment, and then she was gone. And then the ferals turned up.” “Yeah, Buddy here ain’t telling porkies. I also saw her.” MacReady pauses for a moment to assess the situation. Outback and Buddy are a feeling a little tense, as Buddy asks the real question. “So what do we do now?” “I tried radio-ing for help, but no one’s responding.”
Fack, I knew it, muttered Outback to himself. This whole thing was a setup. But as he thought this, another question darted his mind. Why? “MacReady, what do we do? Do we just go after the girl, or wait?” Before MacReady could answer the question, more figures came out of the shadows.
Macready recognized the first man as the first local he interviewed: the kind old man who ran the local shop for ages. The second figure was an old lady, a grandmother and a retired factory worker. The third was a young teenage girl. As the figures appeared, any identity that MacReady had recognized in them, any semblance of humanity, was gone. All of them were wielding a makeshift weapon. The shop owner held a wooden stick, which he had sharpened at an end to create a stake. The grandmother was carrying a golf club. The teenager was carrying a pipe. The others had all sorts of basic weaponry. Kitchen knives. Scissors. One man was even carrying a machete.
And they all had the black eyes.
“Ah shit.”
As MacReady said this, he fired the first warning shot. The horde did not flinch. The dogs were starting to bark. Buddy was feeling trepidated. He had heard about the effects of Blood Jelly on its addicts, but this is the first time he saw anything like an induced riot. Or were all these people in the residential area of the arcology secret cult members? Too many questions. Too little time.
Outback took one good look at the crowd. He then cracked his neck, as he sighed.
“Eh, fack dis.”
Without any hesitation, Outback charged straight into the crowd. Within a minute, he managed to mow down three of the more able-bodied members of the mob, while avoiding the elderly. Seeing this as opportunity for action, MacReady brought the back of his gun to his mouth.
“Stun Mode.” “STUN MODE.” As his gun recalibrated itself to become a taser, MacReady started firing his weapon at the elderly and the young. He had gone for the lowest setting, to ensure that the incapacitated individuals suffered no more then a shock. He only had limited rounds, so he had to be careful. He had a baton ready, but, as far as he was concerned, his main focus was to stay alive without killing anyone.
Buddy, too, was prepared for this situation, as he gave the order. “Sic’ ‘em!” Huey, Dewey and Louie rushed into the crowd, as Buddy gave the targets. “Huey, grab that stake! Dewey, bite at her leg! Louie, subdue!”
As the detective, the two fluffies and three dogs did their work, the horde kept going. Outback reckoned that they had woken up the neighbourhood. As the action was going on, Huey caught a glimpse of the figure of the girl in white that he saw earlier. He started to bark. “ARF! ARF! ARF!”
He then gave chase, much to the surprise of the other police personnel. “Huey!” cried Buddy, as he went after his good boy.
“Buddy! Get back here! It's too dangerous!”
Buddy could not hear them. As Huey chased after the girl, who was now running from him, Buddy was chasing after his good boy. The only thing on his mind was rescuing that missing girl, and getting her away from the madness. As Macready, Outback and the two dogs kept working, Buddy and Huey disappeared into the darkness.
~
Buddy had no idea how long he had been running, but his stamina began to wear thin. Huey dove right into an open grate, and Buddy followed suit. Try as he might, he could not keep up with the canine. However, despite his desire to call it back or slow down, Buddy knew that Huey had the girl’s interest at heart. Crawling through the vents and tight corners, Buddy finally found that Huey had stopped, and was now barking incessantly. Buddy took a good look at the surroundings he was now in. It was an enclosed space, a room that may have been a janitor or washroom at some point. Whatever purpose it had in a past life was now forgotten, as its walls were now covered in murals of stained glass. A red light hung over the ceiling, and the light outside illuminated scenes of carnage against fluffykind, ranging from mutilation, to the decimation of ferals, to the stomping of foals. All in tinkling glass fogged with a bloody mist. And at the centre of the room was a make-shift altar, with remnants of blood near it. Atop of the altar was the golden figure of the Jellenheimer.
Figures, muttered Buddy.
Huey kept barking. As Buddy turned his eyes, he saw the missing girl, huddled underneath a table. Her hands were bloody. Her arms were bloody. She was shaking vigorously and uncontrollably, perhaps frightened by Huey’s barks. “Easy there, we’re here to help you!”
The girl took one good look at Buddy. She used her right hand to cover her eyes, as she tried her very best not to look in that direction. Huey's barking halted. Huey then started to froth at the mouth, and collapse. “Huey!!”
As Buddy shook his good boy, he then saw it.
It had the body similar to that of a fluffy. But its eyes were black. A smooth body, like jelly. And a permanent, unfaltering grin. As Buddy retreated from the Jellnehimer, another popped up from behind the altar. Another from near the girl. Buddy couldn’t count how many there were. All he knew was that they had their eyes trained on him. And one Jellenhimer, the ring leader, went ahead of the others. As he kept staring at Buddy, Buddy was not sure how to react.
~
Buddy was then overwhelmed by a sea of visions, as the lead Jellenheimer kept staring at him. Images and memories of torture flooded his mind, and he felt every wound and every atrocity committed against the fluffies he saw. Mares amputated and detongued, and forced into pods to birth foals. Foals that were placed haphazardly into cans, to be sold to the public. Foals that got tortured by some, or crushed while still in the can, or left neglected, never knowing a good life. He saw pogroms of fluffies throughout the century, of people wielding bats, clubs, and sharpened sticks, stabbing killing, beheading, mutilating, massacring, defiling. He brought his hooves to his head,but the images and sensations invaded him. The lead jellenheimer and its pack focused their psychic attack on Buddy.
However, through the encroaching insanity, Buddy saw her.
A tall, cream-colored alicorn. Her wings were fully formed, longer than any Pegasus he had seen. Her horn was sturdy, piercing the through the darkness of the madness he was bearing witness to. The alicorn was standing on a field of green, with the wind blowing through her mane. As Buddy focused on her, the Alicorn turned to glance at Buddy. She then said the line.
“Follow me.”
Her wings flapped, and she took off, and flew into the sky.
“Follow me.”
Buddy was initially reeling on the floor. But he got up on his legs. The Jellenheimers kept up their attack, but Buddy trained on that image he saw, of the alicorn, while repeating the mantra. “Follow me.”
Opening his mouth and bearing his teeth, he jumped straight for the lead Jellenheimer.
“SCREEEEEEEEEEE!”
As the Jellenheimer made an unearthly scream, a nightmarish form of the Fluffy cry for help, Buddy kept his eyes open. He could feel the crushing of bone as his teeth dug into the soft, jellylike flesh. As he bit down hard, he could feel the visions suddenly changing to a great white flash in his mind.
‘SCREEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!”
The Jellenheimers that besieged Buddy reeled from the communal pain from the loss of their leader, and immediately retreated, crawling into the various holes.
~
“One! Two! Three!”
Outback bashed down the door upon Macready’s order. They bore witness to the altar room. “Welp, guess that solves the mystery of the missing cult room.”
Both Outback and MacReady saw the body of Buddy on the floor. Huey, who had now recovered, was licking his own wounds.
“Buddy! BUDDY!!” Buddy could not hear them. He kept repeating “Nu huwt good fwuff. My name is Buddy. Buddy am good fwuff. I am a policefluffy”, repeating between the two languages.
~
It was a forever for Buddy as the images were blurry to him. Shifting through the dreamscape, and while battling the pain, he kept seeing glimpses of reality intermingling with the dream he was desperately trying to wake from. He had seen the alicorn numerous times, but at one point, the alicorn started to sing a song from his memory.
"Mummah wuvs her babbeh, Babbeh wuv his mummah, Babbeh dwink miwkies, Gwow up big an stwong”
The alicorn had morphed into a vision of his Yehdoo mother. Crying over him, kissing him, and giving him huggies. Even though he was hooked up to the medical equipment, Buddy knew she had to be there for him. But even his mother could only appear so many times in the visions. As the dreams alternated between the comforts of home, and the hell of what the Jellenheimers had put him through, he saw the alicorn again. This time growing younger, and until it had the appearance of an adolescent foal. This alicorn foal then sang another song.
“Somewhere ower da wainbow Way up high And da dweams that fwuffs dweam of Wunce in a wuwwaby”
Buddy could make out the foal to be Princess, at his side. Her tender hoof touching his head. Princess had always been there for him and guided him through the office as he got to know the people working there. Over time, the visions simplified, and became definite. Time started to make sense. And, soon, the figure of the fatherly Outback was by his side.
“Waltzing Matilda, Waltzing Matilda You'll come a-Waltzing Matilda, with me He sang as he watched and waited 'til his billy boiled, you'll come a-Waltzing Matilda, with me”
As Outback hummed the song of his kind, Buddy said the first words he could mutter in over a week.
“You missed some of the notes.”
Outback turned to his partner. He was a little miffed, and then, glad. “Fackin ‘ell. Ya alright, ya cunt.” Buddy smiled, then winced. The pain from the encounter still wracked his body.
“Easy there, mate. Jellenheimers are the facken devil’ “Yeah tell me about it. I feel like I spent a few seconds in Hell. But then I saw that alicorn, and I managed to get out of it.” “An alicorn, eh?” “You didn’t see one?" “Nah mate.” “Guess its different. How are the others?” “Carlos has been too busy with immigration, but he made a gift for you. Princess and I have been by your side everyday, along with your parents.” “That’s good to hear.”
Outback then got a serious, as he looked at Buddy in the eye. “I know you meant well, mate, but don’t try to be too much of a hero next time. You should have waited for us.” "I know Outback, but I wanted to save that girl. And Huey was too far ahead of me." "Not really an excuse, ya fuckwit. You coulda been killed. I'm even facking surprised you're still alive." "Yeah. I guess I am fucking lucky."
For a while, there was an uneasy silence in the room.
"What did Carlos get for me?" "A bunch of things. You'll see when you're out of the hospital." "Is one of them spaghetti?" "Yeah, one of them is spaghetti."
~
Jenny was angry.
As she stormed into the office at the Hasbio Headquarters, she made her way to the office of the man she met about a month ago. The executive was in the middle of a meeting in his office, when Jenny stormed him.
“Leave us.”
With his command, the other staff cleared until only Jenny and the exec remained in the room.
“You son of a bitch!”
In her police uniform, Jenny maintained a resolute defiance before her superior.
“What's the matter?” “You risked the lives of one of my wards, you fuck!” “But Buddy is not really under you, Princess is.” “Just because I don’t spend everyday of my life with Buddy doesn’t mean I’m not worried about him! Don’t forget, I was the one who selected him for the programme, and had monitored his process since birth!”
“Ah yes, Buddy.”
While remaining seated at his computer, the executive took a good look at the hybrid fluffy that was Buddy.
“Before that day, in that unit, only Outback survived the encounter with the Jellenheimer, owing to his mental strength. But now Buddy has survived it as well, which must mean the same. It was a difficult process, and the wounds will still be there. But Buddy is no longer just a product now.
He is an asset.”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xx0blzRFQRs
submitted by Oculusfluffy to fluffycommunity [link] [comments]


2020.09.11 06:24 StygianSagas A Scratching at the Door (part 1/2)

It is my cathedral, my magnum opus- the culmination of two decades spent grinding my way through the most debauched and blasphemous practices and indulgences. It’s a thing of imposing grandeur most might shrug off as ominous or distasteful, like a soviet-era state edifice or a moldering abandoned hospital on an overcast hillside. It’s also seedy, just the right mix of ordered and disordered to tickle my mind and draw me into the rapturous atmosphere I have worked so hard to create within its walls. For years, I have retreated here when the weight of the world around me has beaten me low with its tedious, mundane goings-on, a last respite for a mind that never felt quite at home there. Fitting, then, that it will serve as my tomb.
Whoever stumbles across this account will find it in my home. From there, my cathedral is some two miles away, down the old logging trail that forks off from Whispering Pines Road. The dugout is near its terminus- a low, brooding bunker-like structure buried in the hills and blocked by a pair of rusted metal doors. I will leave these locked, but accessible via the key beneath this letter.
I don’t have any idea as to what the purpose of the modest dugout was originally, for it was barren when I found it two decades ago. Perhaps storage, for the nearest house is much too far away for it to serve effectively as a storm shelter. Regardless, the contents will be unharmed. I have committed crimes to attain the totems and relics I surround myself with, but while I might be a thief, I have always considered myself a borrower of items, rather than a taker of treasures. They may be redistributed to their proper places as authorities see fit to distribute them. Whoever first goes to the cathedral should mentally steel themselves for what they’ll find when they push through those heavy doors, though.
The collection began when I was a teenager. The first modest additions were items I acquired while delving in abandoned places of ill repute close to my hometown. I took a century-old diary from a moldering manor home in Louisville, and snagged a small bust dulled by time from a tottering school’s library in Lynch. As I grew in boldness, my taste for eerie and unsettling items grew more and more insatiable.
The gravestones of several notable Civil War-era dead were taken from Perryville, beginning the collection of headstones and memorial plaques of supposedly spectral figures that tile my cathedral’s walls. A bone saw, taken from a reportedly haunted hospital across the state line in Ironton, leans on a shelf against the skull of a folklore-rumored hermit-turned-warlock from the hills west of Ashland, which I dug up and preserved with great care after his remains had lurked in the ground for the better part of a century.
International connections may be needed to return some of the items, though, for I have done a fair bit of traveling in my time, always on the lookout for suitably evocative items for my gallery. The collection boasts, for example, a golden ring pulled from the bottom of a Yucatan cenote, where it rested amongst the honored sacrificial dead piled there during the golden age of the Maya. It rests upon the index finger of an unnaturally large mummified hand treasured by a twisted group of scholarly mountainside cultists in Tibet, who believed it to be the withered claw of a woman from the fabled subterranean realm of Patala. All this shall be catalogued in the most intimate detail which my memory allows, and I will denote the dates and locations at which each item was acquired, from the most modest small-town tombstone to the most exotic ‘cursed’ statuette or storied murder weapon.
I won’t get too bogged down in all that here, though. You’ll find that list in the cathedral, along with whatever remains of me. The purpose of this text is to dissuade anyone from touching or tampering with, in any way, a certain item I’ve hidden away in a long-forgotten mine not terribly far from here. The entrance will be collapsed, a feat which will charge me no small amount of work, and it desperately needs to stay that way. I only bother to mention this item at all because, for reasons that will become evident, I am unsure whether it will stay put down there in the wake of my death.
Any perusing these pages would be justified in wondering what all the fuss is about, so I’ll lay out the story as clearly as I’m able, starting with why I even had cause to come in contact with the wretched thing in the first place. Some years into my darker explorations and trophy taking, exploiting a long interest in the darker side of paranormal speculation and occult practices, I began to experiment here and there with immersing myself in the kinds of provocative groups that often congregated around the places I visited. In college I visited a local quarry notorious for suicidal leaps with some of my fellow students on Halloween for a very stereotypical drunk layman’s séance. It produced nothing tangible in terms of unexplainable experiences, but electrified me with the mood -the atmosphere- that accompanied our silly ritual when it was performed in so ominous a setting.
Branching out from there, I found equally atmospheric experiences by hitching my wagon to various occult groups across my region, the most longstanding relation being with a nameless group of pagan revivalists in Cave City. They stoked my need for taboo moods with spectacular solstice sacrifices of live bullocks during firelight ceremonies in the cave systems across the county.
Over the years, I built up a book of contacts who shared my fascination, or at least held a belief in eldritch ritual and ample enough contacts to put me in a position to experience and partake in their rites. I never developed any belief that anything I was doing had any impact in the material sense, however.
Chasing these rituals and gatherings was to me purely a folkloric, atmospheric exercise, a passionate and exciting interest that sweetened my existence in a world I found comparatively drab. When I witnessed a group of isolated townspeople in the arid interior of Tunisia burn a live lamb on a bed of coals before an ancient horned statue in the hills under a full moon, I was under no illusions that I had made contact with Baal Hammon. Rather, I could imagine for the briefest hour that I stood in Carthage before it’s fall. I could feel the exaltations and excesses of the men and women of that lost land in a way that few others, even amongst our great but fast-decaying scholarly institutions, will ever know. In this way, I liked to pretend that my pursuits were entirely anthropological in nature, an extended study in the collection and interpretation of dark folklore.
There was a small, sequestered portion of my mind, however, that had less rational motivations. Whenever a promising message would come my way, titillating me at the thought of potential reality behind all the shadowy pageantry of these ritual outings, I would jump at the chance to experience the kinds of raw emotion -fear, awe, or otherwise- that were so often whispered about in occult gatherings. I wanted some taste of the beyond, whatever that happened to be, and a chance discovery I made in July seemed to promise that very thing. It was this call to the unknown that set me on the path towards my final resting place in the cathedral.
Several months ago, a contact I made years back while visiting radical underground pagan organizations in Europe and with whom I had shared deep if infrequent correspondence was mentioned in passing by a mutual acquaintance, and it came up that he hadn’t been heard from in some months. I wrote to him and, when calls and emails went unanswered, I resolved to make the trip east to his home in the mountains of western Maryland to see him in person. Even among circles as prone to weirdness and reclusiveness as mine, it was odd for someone to go entirely dark. The nature of my interests -and those of my friend, for that matter- meant that the hunger for understanding ears to speak to was endless. For someone to wholly disconnect from the people who were best able to understand his eldritch obsessions and habits was an act of self-isolation above and beyond anything I or most I inquired with had ever witnessed.
When I arrived at his modest home west of Cumberland, I found it deserted in an odd state, with the front door unlocked and unsecure but the windows boarded up as if a hurricane were soon due on the mountainside. His shotgun lay tossed on the couch in the front room as I entered the building, and by the looks of the place, he had been holed up there for some time, sequestered off from the rest of the house. The doorway to the basement was boarded up, as was his adjoining bedroom and the back door onto the porch, which left only the front door accessible, and even that seemed to have been secured until recently. With his front sitting room space and a combined kitchen cut off like that, he’d set himself up to sleep on his couch and over the intervening days built up a fearful mess of discarded food and hastily-rifled books and papers.
Upon forcing my way into the basement, I found the sparse furniture and stored books and pictures tossed and turned, but nothing missing. The shotgun resting in the front room above had been fired several times into the walls, but had apparently stricken nothing, for there was no trace of blood or injury to be discovered.
Such disorder was worrying, for he had been an orderly and reserved man. What worried me more, however, was that there were no signs of forced entry. His old truck still sat rusting in the gravel driveway, the keys tucked under the driver’s seat as was his custom. The boarding and locks holding shut the front door had been calmly removed and unlatched from within, and there was not a single sign of disturbance in his makeshift fortress that would suggest someone had laid siege to the house to take him or his belongings. After locking himself in his front room for days, perhaps weeks, he had finally freed himself and walked out into the dense, mountainous woodland surrounding the house with no gun, no shoes, no keys, and no truck.
I set about investigating myself, hesitant to involve the authorities for obvious reasons. It was one thing to call up mutual associates to check whether there was any consensus on what he had been up to in the days prior to his confinement, but it was quite another to allow police to intrude on his property and potentially discover some macabre collection similar to my own that I’d been unaware of. Call after call came back inconclusive and shrouded in uncertainty, leaving me less and less convinced as the evening wore on that he would simply stumble out of the darkening woodline any minute fresh off some spectacular hallucinogenic trip, angry at my intrusion into his home. Then, as the sun dipped below the hunched, wood-cloaked mountains, my friend’s ancient land line received a call, sending me stumbling inside at a run from the porch, and plunging me into roiling chaos.
The initial exchange seemed innocuous enough, considering what was to follow. Speaking accented but practiced English, a man asked after the whereabouts of my friend. I was initially hesitant to be fully forthright with this stranger, but when he voluntarily betrayed that my friend had been in Myanmar by asking how he had been since his return, I felt it was necessary to probe just a little. I asked when my friend had departed and, upon realizing his return to the states must have been immediately followed by his recent descent into paranoid compound fortification, I inquired whether he’d seemed distressed or ill in the days leading up to his return home. Those simple questions were somehow all the man on the other end of the line needed to hear, for his response was to ask if he had gone missing.
“I warned him,” the voice muttered. “I warned him not to go up into the mountains. I knew it must be bad, for him to stay so quiet after leaving.”
The exchange that followed couldn’t have totaled more than ten minutes, but my constant reflection on it over the intervening weeks has stretched it into an hours-long ordeal, remembered verbatim and retrievable down to a syllable. At my insistence, he told me of the witching circles he occupied in Yangon, and of my friend’s keen interest in them. As evasive as I had been with exact details, he described a trip through the country organized for my friend by contacts in the region, a sort of whirlwind tour of debauched and culturally subterranean experiences. This trip had apparently terminated in an ill-advised trek into the mountainous north of the country, that the speaker and his local Yangon brethren had absolutely refused to attend.
“There are ruins in the hills,” he told me, the disgust plain in his voice. “Sacked and toppled by the kings of Pagan, and with good reason. None should travel there.”
For centuries, people both local to the region and native to other provinces of Burma had stayed clear of the place. The longstanding curse placed upon it by the Pagan kings of old was bolstered here and there by the hushed retelling of another tale of woe sparked when a foreign traveler or urban youth from the south insisted on seeing the forbidden heights. Reiterated in the flesh of modernity just as it would’ve been recited those centuries ago from atop the peacock throne of Burma, the man warned me with hushed tones not to look into my friend’s final days, to burn any of his private writings, and to leave the dead to lie. He then hung up, the whole thing feeling for all the world like an establishing scene out of a century-old horror story.
That is precisely what made it impossible for me to heed his warnings.
Even as I looked over the domestic devastation around me left in the aftermath of just such a visit, I understood every ounce of thought that had driven my friend to make the trip into the mountains. These unnamed ruins, haunted by shadowy legendry so fierce an occultist guide among fellow occultists would not risk their ancient paths, were everything a chaser of the extravagant could dream to see. Initially worried for my friend, the realization that it had grown dark outside now breathed some level of fear into me, only heightening the racing of my thoughts.
Had he not boarded up his home, then thrashed and shot at some unknown force in the basement, only to run away into the woods? What, should I decide to stay there through the night, would I find?
These were the sort of thoughts that would’ve driven a reasonable man out of the house and down the little mountain road into the security of town, but I, as attested to by the stolen gravestones and human remains which shall soon surround my corpse in the cathedral, am not a reasonable man. I set about a fevered examination of the books and notes with which my friend had occupied himself during his voluntary imprisonment, and left messages with all the contacts I had garnered over a lifetime’s probing the obscure and obscene who I thought might have any knowledge of use to me. After all, with nothing else to work from, this scrap of tantalizing information was the only hope of learning what befell my companion, and discovering whether the unknown caller’s pessimism on that score was justified. The ominous connotations of that information were just an added incentive.
The night was a long, tedious affair, with several breaks taken for no better reason than to calm my nerves and assure there was nothing lurking in the unlit kitchen or creeping up the now exposed basement staircase. Nothing save the atmosphere of the little house was amiss, though, and the night ultimately proved enlightening. From a battered notebook well worn by continued visits from its owner over the years, I learned about my friend’s obsession with the concept of the Nat, a kind of mythic Burmese-Buddhist spirit, or deity. Writing using a cypher popularized by the Golden Dawn with which many in my circles will be familiar, he had been jotting down notes regarding the origination of the currently recognized pantheon of thirty-seven Nat, and on unofficial, more local Nat, revered or feared by populations of certain towns and villages spread here and there across the interior of Myanmar.
It was a history in which I was not versed, for Myanmar had never come up as a focal point of occult or otherwise weird significance, but he’d developed a fascination with rumors of a cult in the remote north of the country centered on a Nat of such wickedness that it had single-handedly spurred the attempted banning of local Nat offerings. This being was supposedly the reason for instituting the official pantheon of thirty-seven instituted some thousand years ago, after the end of the first millennium.
Scattered across the margins of Cambridge and Oxford histories of Southeast Asia and several more journals filled with scribbled code, I learned the story of King Anawrahta, founder of the first unified Burmese empire, and a figure seemingly obsessed with the imposition of Buddhist religious order overtop of the native faiths of his land. In the texts of academia, the reason given for this ranged from expanding state control over local governance to enriching the crown through more reliable religious taxation. Notes from my friend on correspondence with local occultists and their own books of speculative history painted a different, altogether darker picture.
Folk tales from the jungle-choked hills in the north of the country joined longstanding occult traditions in laying the blame for this crackdown on local rituals at the feet of a reviled figure called Paunggkuu, whose name is closely linked to the modern Burmese word for spider.
Paunggkuu, known by no other name or title, is shadowed by many rumored pasts and motives, with some tales alleging he was a noble member of a local clan whose prosperity was shattered by the expansion of the king’s empire in the south, turning he and his family to blood offerings and shadowy rites in hopes of bettering their fortunes. Still others believe he was a Nat-possessed vagrant, a nobody raised from nothing by a wicked spirit to great infamy only to just as quickly be tossed aside- an expendable mortal shell for a being which had long lurked in the mountains. Many more hinted origins exist, but the outcome of the rise of Paunggkuu is always the same, with the mundane man-turned-warlock leading a cult of several hundred followers into a megalithic ruined city tucked away in the trees, where they began to prey on the surrounding countryside.
Village youths started to go missing, and over time, whole rural communities were stripped clean of inhabitants. Rippling outwards from the ruined city, the locals spoke in hushed whispers of a creeping death, a diabolical Nat or witch in the guise of a monster who haunted the spaces beneath raised houses and huts at night, and whose disgusting visage appeared to the locals in nightmare night after sleepless night. So great was the fear brought about by this shadowy plague of disappearances that the regional seat of power, the small city of Mogaung, was forced to take notice. Its kingly high priest, himself a vassal and ally of the powerful King Anawrahta in the south, sent men into the region to quell the disorder and bring those responsible to justice. When those men, too, had gone missing, an army of several hundred was raised, and when that had failed to report back, the priest sent desperate word to Pagan, petitioning the king for aid.
Anawrahta, occupied with other matters in the south, failed to answer with speed, but was spurred to action by a dark event sometime around the middle of 1057, when a nighttime raid on the outskirts of Mogaung itself drove the priest to flee south to the capital, where he took up exiled residence in Pagan with his suzerain. This attack, which was laid at the feet of bandits in official records, did not topple the city or level any temples, but its nature was so horrid that Anawrahta put a momentary halt to his campaigns of unification and consolidation to march north with more than five thousand men, riding upon a gold-girdled war elephant and leading the host in person.
The events which followed seem singularly terrible, and the narrative presented in the royal chronicles of Pagan of a bandit revolt quashed by the glorious armies of Anawrahta does little to explain why all but a thousand of the men sent into the jungle never came back. It does nothing to explain why local Kachin legend speaks of the mortified screams which echoed down from the hills being audible even now on certain moonlit nights, when the skies are right. Bandits, after all, couldn’t have spurred a burgeoning kingdom with more enemies than allies to spend half a year leveling an ancient stone city, and the rest of the century burying its name and history by burning books and sundering stone carvings.
The sun rose over the Maryland hills, and with it, I found myself reverberating with not only a new grasp of a strange land’s lore and legendry, but of my aims moving forward. Several contacts of my friend’s had agreed to come search for him and continue looking into the mounds of documentation he had compiled. While they got on the road and began their long drives, a Javanese associate who had led me on an extravagant tour of ancient fire-cults still in practice on the remoter regions of that island contacted a friend at my behest. This friend initiated a chain of further connections from friend to friend until I was speaking with a Burmese Buddhist monk-turned-animist wiseman, who knew of the rumored city in the north.
Though he dissuaded me from my stated aim of visiting the site in search of answers, he agreed to meet me in Yangon upon my arrival and place me in contact with locals of the northern Kachin province who could aid me in getting transport and supplies in so remote a region. I purchased my tickets that morning for a chain of flights leaving out of Washington D.C. that evening, and after leaving a scribbled note for my vanished friend in the off chance he resurface before his other companions arrived, I piled into my car without a wink of sleep to drive for the capital.
I cannot entirely give voice to the feelings which drove my movements throughout the day. Exhaustion did not catch up to me until well into the initial flight from Washington to Japan, and even then, sleep came in fitful bursts. I was too busy pouring over hastily-copied scraps of information left by my friend, staring holes in satellite images of northern Myanmar, and memorizing a few helpful words of the Burmese language to even consider how I felt. The whole of the scenario seemed like some great initial stage in an epic drama, and my worry at the sudden disappearance of a close friend and associate in the pursuit of strangeness had fast been molded together with an urge to see what he must’ve seen, and to feel whatever had spurred the paranoia he must’ve felt during those last, manic days in the closed front room.
It would be trite of me to proclaim now what a fool I was for being so blind, so eager to face the unknown. Moreover, it wouldn’t be entirely honest. Even now, as I prepare to do what must be done, I can recognize that what I found in Myanmar was exactly the sort of thing I had been searching for throughout the long and confused span of years that led me into the jungles of rural Kachin, and I can’t claim I regret taking the journey. I can only regret that my friend had to suffer what he did to show me the path, and that both he and I proved too fragile to tolerate the thing which followed us home.
I met with my contact after a lengthy but fitful sleep at the cheapest hotel I could book once landed and settled in Yangon. After another lengthy attempt to dissuade me from my course outside a tiny local café which featured florid stories about regional Kachin Independence Army rebels, he sketched out a travel itinerary which would take me first by bus, then by locally arranged jeep up precarious roads to the tiny settlement of Sumprabum, in the farthest northern reaches of the nation. The way was precarious at times, with the aged dirt roads never failing to buck and rock the buses this way and that on the precipices of the scrub-choked cliff faces they hugged. The locals, bundled in like canned fish with a painfully conspicuous foreigner among them, mostly rode in sleepy silence through nearly two days of travel, leaving me to wonder whether I was the only one worried by the idea of toppling over the edge. It wouldn’t do, after all, to come so close to the unknown only to die in a bus crash.
Worry proved pointless, however, and I ended up in a tiny, flea-ridden bunk in Sumprabum a couple days after setting out from Maryland, my eyes scanning the tree-shrouded hills through the mist from my perch on the porch of a catholic mission as they reluctantly allowed me some much-needed sleep. It would be the first real rest I’d had since prior to my fateful road trip-turned-world excursion began. It would later prove to be the final mundane, dreamless sleep I would ever experience, but in my exhausted anticipation, I didn’t take any time to savor it.
Awakening plucked and prodded by mosquitoes but otherwise feeling prepared for anything, I made my way to a modest logger’s house of sheet metal and crude timber, where I met my local guide. He was an older man still steely with a laborer’s wiry muscle who the entire gathering of homes called Saya, something close to teacher. With my night owl’s pale skin, my relatively impressive height and my profuse sweating at the unaccustomed humidity, I must’ve looked like some traveling alien jester to the village’s locals, and we’d soon gathered a sizable crowd of onlookers as we talked over the plan for the day’s hike. I would pay a small sum to his family for his aid and the food and water he would furnish me with for the night I wanted to spend in the ruins, and then he would lead me on foot about twenty miles to the northwest into the forest, over hills and through valleys, until we arrived at the place the local Kachin population had dubbed Pyethceehon.
The name was only ever spoken in wavering tones of disgust and fear, and the assigning of so alien a name, alongside my newfound proximity to the place my friend had been only a short while ago, filled me with nervous apprehension for the first time since my entry into his home back in the states. While that vestigial, reptile-brained warning of danger to come was enough to put me on edge, it came nowhere close to drowning out my higher aspirations towards intrigue and awe. To be so close to the unknown was an ecstasy I hadn’t found in all my years of searching, and I was not about to abandon that sensation now.
Saya set a firm pace up what initially were muddy and brutally-sloped logging roads through the hills. After several hours we branched off and forded into the sea of trees. The undergrowth and tree trunks combined into a morass which looked absolutely identical to my untrained eye for hour after hour, but by nothing more than his memory of the landscape and the feel of the hills beneath his flip-flop clad feet, Saya pressed through. He always seemed to know just the right place to squeeze through a looming wall of interwoven trees or a jam of fallen logs in a creek bed. Our entire trip was scored by his thickly-accented English telling story after story about the sizes of snakes that could be found here or the density of the ant hives choking the ground there, interspersed with assurances that I could turn back at any time with but a word to him if I lost my nerve. I responded and questioned him when I could, but I was winded and broken by the endless ascents and descents we made despite years of avid hiking back home, and my spaces between strained breaths were few and far between.
He told me of several disappearances of hunters and scouts for logging outfits in the area, but nothing had transpired near the ruins in recent memory. So dark was their reputation that throughout the militia-driven guerrilla warfare which had preceded my arrival for several years, not one camp or troop movement had been made around or through Pyethceehon, whether by loyalist or separatist forces. Saya was the only man in the area that had come close in the past five or six decades, and even he never dared go the final mile or two towards the old settlement in the trees.
The first visit was a childhood expedition in search of village chickens spooked into the jungle by a storm, which had ended in him accidentally stumbling across the stream which babbled downhill from the hilltop upon which Pyethceehon brooded. The second was to lead my friend to the stony banks of that very same stream.
On arriving, the brave man made me the same offer he’d made my friend, standing with his hands on his hips and offering to come with me into the ruins if I felt I needed him there. It was an offer made through a face haunted by the very syllables formed in making the offer, and I couldn’t bring myself to ask Saya along.
Thanking him for his kindness, I made certain of the time I was to meet him tomorrow and departed for the legend-haunted wreck atop the low mountain, with afternoon long having set in. Our pace had been slowed by my pondering progress, and I knew the few remaining hours of daylight would provide more than enough time for the savvy Saya to reach the logging roads and be well on his way to the village by nightfall. The prospect of a night alone on this unknown precipice only set in when thirty minutes of hiking up the creek bed had secured my isolation. I gripped the little revolver I’d been given to ward off tigers with a tight desperation I had never before experienced. All the while, my tired legs carried me that last mile into Pyethceehon.
I was more vibrant and alive in those terrified minutes than I had ever been before. I pity my friend, for having been the very first outsider in a century to visit the place had denied him the experience of knowing some specter of the danger that lurked there firsthand. While he must’ve felt the weight of the ruin’s reputation and atmosphere, only I knew the fate of a personal friend who had come before. It lit a fire in my stomach so intense I chewed the interior of my cheek raw in jittery anticipation of reaching the summit, my wavering legs finding new strength as my destination neared.
During my hurried in-flight preparations for this moment, I had scoured pictures, satellite images and documentary footage of great Burmese temple and stupa sites like Bagan, wanting to be accustomed to the kind of structures I might find upon arrival. I had expected crumbling but mighty dome-and-spire edifices like those, but what I found was altogether alien. The structures of Pyethceehon were much more like the small, tightly-packed, cone-roofed structures of lesser-known Nyaung Ohak far to the south.
Its avenues were only a few feet wide, choked between hundreds of huddled monuments and teeming with hungry plant growth, the few untoppled stone peaks reaching no further than fifteen or twenty feet into the branch-strangled sky. Many of them leaned, their bases sinking into the stone of the ground as the passing of ten centuries remolded the very Earth beneath their feet. It was the material, though, that shocked me so, making me think I had wandered into some mighty forest of vine-blackened prehistoric teeth as I crested the hill and stumbled into that outpost of blasphemy.
The stone was not the reddish-brown of most of the nation’s monuments, nor the sandy, water-aged brown of monuments elsewhere in the near and far east. It was not the marble of rich classical sculpture or the placid limestone grey of contemplative new-world step pyramids and old-world castles. Rather, it was the shiny and rippling surface of masterfully-shaped obsidian, their rain-polished surfaces staring back in rank after rank at me through the scrub- looking for all the world like massive, teeming ant mounds.
The play of the sun through the canopy above off the slightly uneven surfaces even lent them the illusion of motion, as of water bubbling in rapids over a bank of piled stones, or, perhaps more appropriately, of millions of chitinous ant bodies amassing to repel an intruder. Their mostly conical spires were shingled with tiny interlocking plates of jade, weathered by centuries until it was almost muted, looking grey against the greens of the jungle.
I lingered there on the precipice for a long while, telling myself I needed to catch my breath, but knowing with every second I spent looking into the distance down those accursed rows that it was something much less explicable that kept my body frozen among the warm trees. It is only now, removed from the stress and excitement of the scene, that I can guess at what unspoken and unrecognized force halted my progress. Though I might not have been able to give voice to why at the time, I knew deep down that the conditions for obsidian to exist at all were not right here.
Obsidian was not among the pantheon of materials found in the jewelry, weapons or art of Southeast Asia, and that was because the nearest region with the right kind of volcanic activity to generate the substance at all lay thousands of miles away across the south china sea, on the island of Papua. I remember vividly having it pointed out as a commodity unique to the isle in my travels through Indonesia years before. What on Earth the glistening void-dark rock was doing in Myanmar remains far beyond me, but the grooved and layered construction of it, along with the faintly rough and uneven breaks in the glass-like surfaces where it had been so carefully shaped, told me it could be nothing else.
When at last my legs were moving beneath me again, I found winding my way through the obsidian forest testing at every moment my resolution to be there. Each stupa was littered with carvings, almost all of them pictographic, and almost all of these featuring the crouching forms of spiders. The largest, however, dotted every ten or twelve structures along the overgrown path I had chosen to follow, held another, more tantalizingly sinister image.
The first time I passed one of these carvings, I kept moving, my mind rushing to place why I recoiled on such an instinctive level from those particular figures amidst a legion of equally disturbing sights and sensations. Upon reaching a second rendition of the image, though, I opened my pack and flipped through my friend’s notebooks, desperate to confirm my suspicions. It didn’t take long to find his own rendition of the image, half-remembered in my nervous state, scrawled on the back cover of a cheap, weathered notebook.
The thing was a gaunt, thin, gangly creature, reminiscent of a man, but twisted and bent nearly beyond recognition. Its legs looked almost stick-like, ending in pointed barbs, and its torso sprouted three pairs of arms, evoking the image of sword-wielding Hindu gods. The arms sported one more joint than the single natural elbow showed by human beings, and each pair of them was held high in an awkward, exaggerated shrug- like a father aping a silent film-era monster to spook his children. This gave me the initial, erroneous impression that the many arms were the skeletal structure of unfurled wings. Each came to a blade-like point, just like the feet, with each lower pair slightly shorter than the last. The head -or what should have been a head- was by far the worst of it, though, and to think of it now in light of what I know makes me wonder beyond wonder that I stayed in that ruin at all.
Where a head should be, there was merely an aperture at the top of the torso, a large fang-lined mouth that ran like a zipper from where the back of a neck would’ve been to where the sternum should begin. Around it, unfurled and given the illusion of squirming motion by both the impromptu sketch artist and the ancient sculptors, were multiple layers of the sort of stunted forelegs that flank a tarantula’s mouth.
With the afternoon wearing on, I slowly pieced the shattered remnants of my aesthete’s zeal for the unusual back together. Wandering familiarized me with the two square miles or so that constituted the remnants of this little graveyard of forbidden worship, the knowledge I gained of its layout fortifying me with a sense of distant belonging I knew full well would disappear as soon as the sun sank beneath the horizon. Radiating inward like the strands of a great web, the avenues of the place all lead to a single center point where some massive temple or palace complex had once stood. It was here that I began to set up a modest little camp to wait out the night, piling what scant dry firewood I found and clearing undergrowth so that any insects or snakes would be scared out and away from my position.
The old temple was nothing save a foundation long sunk into the murky earth, its bottom littered with mud and stone from the superstructure, leaving only stalagmite-like fragments of its black obsidian walls to poke outward from the debris. It was in the protective shadow of one of these that I settled down, piling several more natural stones as a makeshift seat only after I ensured that none of the images of the damnable spider-thing were in view of my perch.
The final couple hours before nightfall felt like minutes, for time flew past with a speed only dread can create. I reflected, as I sat waiting for the proper moment to begin burning my small reserve of firewood, that there had been little in the way of totems or objects in the ruins. Most of the buildings had been stupas, too small to inhabit or enter, and the temple behind me had long ago been toppled in Pagan’s raid upon the despised cult. The sculptures, really the only testament to the past nature of this place, were repetitive, mimicking in stonework the kind of mantra repetitions witnessed in Buddhist or animist ceremonies.
I flipped through my catalogue of hastily-acquired knowledge, often referencing my friend’s notes and the books to which he’d clung, trying to recall anything which might help me retrace his steps in this dark corner of the Earth. I found none, for his notes said nothing of his actual expedition, and the treatments of this place in text and legend were so frightful and vague that there was little to work from. There were no signs of my friend in the avenues of shadowy Pyethceehon, just as there were no signs of the day-to-day lives of its ancient residents. The jungle had swallowed this vile place, and in another millennia, there would likely be nothing left to visit here.
Beyond the lack of information on my missing friend, I found my motivation consumed as the sunset got underway by an exhaustion which was entirely unlike me. Thoroughly unnerved and in a place unfamiliar to me, I should’ve been wide awake, ready to weather an entire night of vigilant, guarded listening over my fire. Instead, as the sky’s oranges darkened the shadows of the surrounding trees and scrub, turning the ranked stupas into ominous silhouettes which seemed to creep towards me through the encroaching trees, my usual explorer’s thrill at the unknown was extinguished. Each blink came as a labored exertion while I breathed life into the little woodpile before me.
Exacerbating this, I became aware of an impenetrable quiet hanging over the thinned mountaintop clearing in which Pyethceehon had brooded all these centuries. It was as if the very mosquitoes in the air knew not to disturb the slumber of such an ill-fated and ill-tempered beast as this.
I was in for a tense night.
submitted by StygianSagas to LovecraftianWriting [link] [comments]


2020.09.11 06:22 StygianSagas A Scratching at the Door [part 1]

It is my cathedral, my magnum opus- the culmination of two decades spent grinding my way through the most debauched and blasphemous practices and indulgences. It’s a thing of imposing grandeur most might shrug off as ominous or distasteful, like a soviet-era state edifice or a moldering abandoned hospital on an overcast hillside. It’s also seedy, just the right mix of ordered and disordered to tickle my mind and draw me into the rapturous atmosphere I have worked so hard to create within its walls. For years, I have retreated here when the weight of the world around me has beaten me low with its tedious, mundane goings-on, a last respite for a mind that never felt quite at home there. Fitting, then, that it will serve as my tomb.
Whoever stumbles across this account will find it in my home. From there, my cathedral is some two miles away, down the old logging trail that forks off from Whispering Pines Road. The dugout is near its terminus- a low, brooding bunker-like structure buried in the hills and blocked by a pair of rusted metal doors. I will leave these locked, but accessible via the key beneath this letter.
I don’t have any idea as to what the purpose of the modest dugout was originally, for it was barren when I found it two decades ago. Perhaps storage, for the nearest house is much too far away for it to serve effectively as a storm shelter. Regardless, the contents will be unharmed. I have committed crimes to attain the totems and relics I surround myself with, but while I might be a thief, I have always considered myself a borrower of items, rather than a taker of treasures. They may be redistributed to their proper places as authorities see fit to distribute them. Whoever first goes to the cathedral should mentally steel themselves for what they’ll find when they push through those heavy doors, though.
The collection began when I was a teenager. The first modest additions were items I acquired while delving in abandoned places of ill repute close to my hometown. I took a century-old diary from a moldering manor home in Louisville, and snagged a small bust dulled by time from a tottering school’s library in Lynch. As I grew in boldness, my taste for eerie and unsettling items grew more and more insatiable.
The gravestones of several notable Civil War-era dead were taken from Perryville, beginning the collection of headstones and memorial plaques of supposedly spectral figures that tile my cathedral’s walls. A bone saw, taken from a reportedly haunted hospital across the state line in Ironton, leans on a shelf against the skull of a folklore-rumored hermit-turned-warlock from the hills west of Ashland, which I dug up and preserved with great care after his remains had lurked in the ground for the better part of a century.
International connections may be needed to return some of the items, though, for I have done a fair bit of traveling in my time, always on the lookout for suitably evocative items for my gallery. The collection boasts, for example, a golden ring pulled from the bottom of a Yucatan cenote, where it rested amongst the honored sacrificial dead piled there during the golden age of the Maya. It rests upon the index finger of an unnaturally large mummified hand treasured by a twisted group of scholarly mountainside cultists in Tibet, who believed it to be the withered claw of a woman from the fabled subterranean realm of Patala. All this shall be catalogued in the most intimate detail which my memory allows, and I will denote the dates and locations at which each item was acquired, from the most modest small-town tombstone to the most exotic ‘cursed’ statuette or storied murder weapon.
I won’t get too bogged down in all that here, though. You’ll find that list in the cathedral, along with whatever remains of me. The purpose of this text is to dissuade anyone from touching or tampering with, in any way, a certain item I’ve hidden away in a long-forgotten mine not terribly far from here. The entrance will be collapsed, a feat which will charge me no small amount of work, and it desperately needs to stay that way. I only bother to mention this item at all because, for reasons that will become evident, I am unsure whether it will stay put down there in the wake of my death.
Any perusing these pages would be justified in wondering what all the fuss is about, so I’ll lay out the story as clearly as I’m able, starting with why I even had cause to come in contact with the wretched thing in the first place. Some years into my darker explorations and trophy taking, exploiting a long interest in the darker side of paranormal speculation and occult practices, I began to experiment here and there with immersing myself in the kinds of provocative groups that often congregated around the places I visited. In college I visited a local quarry notorious for suicidal leaps with some of my fellow students on Halloween for a very stereotypical drunk layman’s séance. It produced nothing tangible in terms of unexplainable experiences, but electrified me with the mood -the atmosphere- that accompanied our silly ritual when it was performed in so ominous a setting.
Branching out from there, I found equally atmospheric experiences by hitching my wagon to various occult groups across my region, the most longstanding relation being with a nameless group of pagan revivalists in Cave City. They stoked my need for taboo moods with spectacular solstice sacrifices of live bullocks during firelight ceremonies in the cave systems across the county.
Over the years, I built up a book of contacts who shared my fascination, or at least held a belief in eldritch ritual and ample enough contacts to put me in a position to experience and partake in their rites. I never developed any belief that anything I was doing had any impact in the material sense, however.
Chasing these rituals and gatherings was to me purely a folkloric, atmospheric exercise, a passionate and exciting interest that sweetened my existence in a world I found comparatively drab. When I witnessed a group of isolated townspeople in the arid interior of Tunisia burn a live lamb on a bed of coals before an ancient horned statue in the hills under a full moon, I was under no illusions that I had made contact with Baal Hammon. Rather, I could imagine for the briefest hour that I stood in Carthage before it’s fall. I could feel the exaltations and excesses of the men and women of that lost land in a way that few others, even amongst our great but fast-decaying scholarly institutions, will ever know. In this way, I liked to pretend that my pursuits were entirely anthropological in nature, an extended study in the collection and interpretation of dark folklore.
There was a small, sequestered portion of my mind, however, that had less rational motivations. Whenever a promising message would come my way, titillating me at the thought of potential reality behind all the shadowy pageantry of these ritual outings, I would jump at the chance to experience the kinds of raw emotion -fear, awe, or otherwise- that were so often whispered about in occult gatherings. I wanted some taste of the beyond, whatever that happened to be, and a chance discovery I made in July seemed to promise that very thing. It was this call to the unknown that set me on the path towards my final resting place in the cathedral.
Several months ago, a contact I made years back while visiting radical underground pagan organizations in Europe and with whom I had shared deep if infrequent correspondence was mentioned in passing by a mutual acquaintance, and it came up that he hadn’t been heard from in some months. I wrote to him and, when calls and emails went unanswered, I resolved to make the trip east to his home in the mountains of western Maryland to see him in person. Even among circles as prone to weirdness and reclusiveness as mine, it was odd for someone to go entirely dark. The nature of my interests -and those of my friend, for that matter- meant that the hunger for understanding ears to speak to was endless. For someone to wholly disconnect from the people who were best able to understand his eldritch obsessions and habits was an act of self-isolation above and beyond anything I or most I inquired with had ever witnessed.
When I arrived at his modest home west of Cumberland, I found it deserted in an odd state, with the front door unlocked and unsecure but the windows boarded up as if a hurricane were soon due on the mountainside. His shotgun lay tossed on the couch in the front room as I entered the building, and by the looks of the place, he had been holed up there for some time, sequestered off from the rest of the house. The doorway to the basement was boarded up, as was his adjoining bedroom and the back door onto the porch, which left only the front door accessible, and even that seemed to have been secured until recently. With his front sitting room space and a combined kitchen cut off like that, he’d set himself up to sleep on his couch and over the intervening days built up a fearful mess of discarded food and hastily-rifled books and papers.
Upon forcing my way into the basement, I found the sparse furniture and stored books and pictures tossed and turned, but nothing missing. The shotgun resting in the front room above had been fired several times into the walls, but had apparently stricken nothing, for there was no trace of blood or injury to be discovered.
Such disorder was worrying, for he had been an orderly and reserved man. What worried me more, however, was that there were no signs of forced entry. His old truck still sat rusting in the gravel driveway, the keys tucked under the driver’s seat as was his custom. The boarding and locks holding shut the front door had been calmly removed and unlatched from within, and there was not a single sign of disturbance in his makeshift fortress that would suggest someone had laid siege to the house to take him or his belongings. After locking himself in his front room for days, perhaps weeks, he had finally freed himself and walked out into the dense, mountainous woodland surrounding the house with no gun, no shoes, no keys, and no truck.
I set about investigating myself, hesitant to involve the authorities for obvious reasons. It was one thing to call up mutual associates to check whether there was any consensus on what he had been up to in the days prior to his confinement, but it was quite another to allow police to intrude on his property and potentially discover some macabre collection similar to my own that I’d been unaware of. Call after call came back inconclusive and shrouded in uncertainty, leaving me less and less convinced as the evening wore on that he would simply stumble out of the darkening woodline any minute fresh off some spectacular hallucinogenic trip, angry at my intrusion into his home. Then, as the sun dipped below the hunched, wood-cloaked mountains, my friend’s ancient land line received a call, sending me stumbling inside at a run from the porch, and plunging me into roiling chaos.
The initial exchange seemed innocuous enough, considering what was to follow. Speaking accented but practiced English, a man asked after the whereabouts of my friend. I was initially hesitant to be fully forthright with this stranger, but when he voluntarily betrayed that my friend had been in Myanmar by asking how he had been since his return, I felt it was necessary to probe just a little. I asked when my friend had departed and, upon realizing his return to the states must have been immediately followed by his recent descent into paranoid compound fortification, I inquired whether he’d seemed distressed or ill in the days leading up to his return home. Those simple questions were somehow all the man on the other end of the line needed to hear, for his response was to ask if he had gone missing.
“I warned him,” the voice muttered. “I warned him not to go up into the mountains. I knew it must be bad, for him to stay so quiet after leaving.”
The exchange that followed couldn’t have totaled more than ten minutes, but my constant reflection on it over the intervening weeks has stretched it into an hours-long ordeal, remembered verbatim and retrievable down to a syllable. At my insistence, he told me of the witching circles he occupied in Yangon, and of my friend’s keen interest in them. As evasive as I had been with exact details, he described a trip through the country organized for my friend by contacts in the region, a sort of whirlwind tour of debauched and culturally subterranean experiences. This trip had apparently terminated in an ill-advised trek into the mountainous north of the country, that the speaker and his local Yangon brethren had absolutely refused to attend.
“There are ruins in the hills,” he told me, the disgust plain in his voice. “Sacked and toppled by the kings of Pagan, and with good reason. None should travel there.”
For centuries, people both local to the region and native to other provinces of Burma had stayed clear of the place. The longstanding curse placed upon it by the Pagan kings of old was bolstered here and there by the hushed retelling of another tale of woe sparked when a foreign traveler or urban youth from the south insisted on seeing the forbidden heights. Reiterated in the flesh of modernity just as it would’ve been recited those centuries ago from atop the peacock throne of Burma, the man warned me with hushed tones not to look into my friend’s final days, to burn any of his private writings, and to leave the dead to lie. He then hung up, the whole thing feeling for all the world like an establishing scene out of a century-old horror story.
That is precisely what made it impossible for me to heed his warnings.
Even as I looked over the domestic devastation around me left in the aftermath of just such a visit, I understood every ounce of thought that had driven my friend to make the trip into the mountains. These unnamed ruins, haunted by shadowy legendry so fierce an occultist guide among fellow occultists would not risk their ancient paths, were everything a chaser of the extravagant could dream to see. Initially worried for my friend, the realization that it had grown dark outside now breathed some level of fear into me, only heightening the racing of my thoughts.
Had he not boarded up his home, then thrashed and shot at some unknown force in the basement, only to run away into the woods? What, should I decide to stay there through the night, would I find?
These were the sort of thoughts that would’ve driven a reasonable man out of the house and down the little mountain road into the security of town, but I, as attested to by the stolen gravestones and human remains which shall soon surround my corpse in the cathedral, am not a reasonable man. I set about a fevered examination of the books and notes with which my friend had occupied himself during his voluntary imprisonment, and left messages with all the contacts I had garnered over a lifetime’s probing the obscure and obscene who I thought might have any knowledge of use to me. After all, with nothing else to work from, this scrap of tantalizing information was the only hope of learning what befell my companion, and discovering whether the unknown caller’s pessimism on that score was justified. The ominous connotations of that information were just an added incentive.
The night was a long, tedious affair, with several breaks taken for no better reason than to calm my nerves and assure there was nothing lurking in the unlit kitchen or creeping up the now exposed basement staircase. Nothing save the atmosphere of the little house was amiss, though, and the night ultimately proved enlightening. From a battered notebook well worn by continued visits from its owner over the years, I learned about my friend’s obsession with the concept of the Nat, a kind of mythic Burmese-Buddhist spirit, or deity. Writing using a cypher popularized by the Golden Dawn with which many in my circles will be familiar, he had been jotting down notes regarding the origination of the currently recognized pantheon of thirty-seven Nat, and on unofficial, more local Nat, revered or feared by populations of certain towns and villages spread here and there across the interior of Myanmar.
It was a history in which I was not versed, for Myanmar had never come up as a focal point of occult or otherwise weird significance, but he’d developed a fascination with rumors of a cult in the remote north of the country centered on a Nat of such wickedness that it had single-handedly spurred the attempted banning of local Nat offerings. This being was supposedly the reason for instituting the official pantheon of thirty-seven instituted some thousand years ago, after the end of the first millennium.
Scattered across the margins of Cambridge and Oxford histories of Southeast Asia and several more journals filled with scribbled code, I learned the story of King Anawrahta, founder of the first unified Burmese empire, and a figure seemingly obsessed with the imposition of Buddhist religious order overtop of the native faiths of his land. In the texts of academia, the reason given for this ranged from expanding state control over local governance to enriching the crown through more reliable religious taxation. Notes from my friend on correspondence with local occultists and their own books of speculative history painted a different, altogether darker picture.
Folk tales from the jungle-choked hills in the north of the country joined longstanding occult traditions in laying the blame for this crackdown on local rituals at the feet of a reviled figure called Paunggkuu, whose name is closely linked to the modern Burmese word for spider.
Paunggkuu, known by no other name or title, is shadowed by many rumored pasts and motives, with some tales alleging he was a noble member of a local clan whose prosperity was shattered by the expansion of the king’s empire in the south, turning he and his family to blood offerings and shadowy rites in hopes of bettering their fortunes. Still others believe he was a Nat-possessed vagrant, a nobody raised from nothing by a wicked spirit to great infamy only to just as quickly be tossed aside- an expendable mortal shell for a being which had long lurked in the mountains. Many more hinted origins exist, but the outcome of the rise of Paunggkuu is always the same, with the mundane man-turned-warlock leading a cult of several hundred followers into a megalithic ruined city tucked away in the trees, where they began to prey on the surrounding countryside.
Village youths started to go missing, and over time, whole rural communities were stripped clean of inhabitants. Rippling outwards from the ruined city, the locals spoke in hushed whispers of a creeping death, a diabolical Nat or witch in the guise of a monster who haunted the spaces beneath raised houses and huts at night, and whose disgusting visage appeared to the locals in nightmare night after sleepless night. So great was the fear brought about by this shadowy plague of disappearances that the regional seat of power, the small city of Mogaung, was forced to take notice. Its kingly high priest, himself a vassal and ally of the powerful King Anawrahta in the south, sent men into the region to quell the disorder and bring those responsible to justice. When those men, too, had gone missing, an army of several hundred was raised, and when that had failed to report back, the priest sent desperate word to Pagan, petitioning the king for aid.
Anawrahta, occupied with other matters in the south, failed to answer with speed, but was spurred to action by a dark event sometime around the middle of 1057, when a nighttime raid on the outskirts of Mogaung itself drove the priest to flee south to the capital, where he took up exiled residence in Pagan with his suzerain. This attack, which was laid at the feet of bandits in official records, did not topple the city or level any temples, but its nature was so horrid that Anawrahta put a momentary halt to his campaigns of unification and consolidation to march north with more than five thousand men, riding upon a gold-girdled war elephant and leading the host in person.
The events which followed seem singularly terrible, and the narrative presented in the royal chronicles of Pagan of a bandit revolt quashed by the glorious armies of Anawrahta does little to explain why all but a thousand of the men sent into the jungle never came back. It does nothing to explain why local Kachin legend speaks of the mortified screams which echoed down from the hills being audible even now on certain moonlit nights, when the skies are right. Bandits, after all, couldn’t have spurred a burgeoning kingdom with more enemies than allies to spend half a year leveling an ancient stone city, and the rest of the century burying its name and history by burning books and sundering stone carvings.
The sun rose over the Maryland hills, and with it, I found myself reverberating with not only a new grasp of a strange land’s lore and legendry, but of my aims moving forward. Several contacts of my friend’s had agreed to come search for him and continue looking into the mounds of documentation he had compiled. While they got on the road and began their long drives, a Javanese associate who had led me on an extravagant tour of ancient fire-cults still in practice on the remoter regions of that island contacted a friend at my behest. This friend initiated a chain of further connections from friend to friend until I was speaking with a Burmese Buddhist monk-turned-animist wiseman, who knew of the rumored city in the north.
Though he dissuaded me from my stated aim of visiting the site in search of answers, he agreed to meet me in Yangon upon my arrival and place me in contact with locals of the northern Kachin province who could aid me in getting transport and supplies in so remote a region. I purchased my tickets that morning for a chain of flights leaving out of Washington D.C. that evening, and after leaving a scribbled note for my vanished friend in the off chance he resurface before his other companions arrived, I piled into my car without a wink of sleep to drive for the capital.
I cannot entirely give voice to the feelings which drove my movements throughout the day. Exhaustion did not catch up to me until well into the initial flight from Washington to Japan, and even then, sleep came in fitful bursts. I was too busy pouring over hastily-copied scraps of information left by my friend, staring holes in satellite images of northern Myanmar, and memorizing a few helpful words of the Burmese language to even consider how I felt. The whole of the scenario seemed like some great initial stage in an epic drama, and my worry at the sudden disappearance of a close friend and associate in the pursuit of strangeness had fast been molded together with an urge to see what he must’ve seen, and to feel whatever had spurred the paranoia he must’ve felt during those last, manic days in the closed front room.
It would be trite of me to proclaim now what a fool I was for being so blind, so eager to face the unknown. Moreover, it wouldn’t be entirely honest. Even now, as I prepare to do what must be done, I can recognize that what I found in Myanmar was exactly the sort of thing I had been searching for throughout the long and confused span of years that led me into the jungles of rural Kachin, and I can’t claim I regret taking the journey. I can only regret that my friend had to suffer what he did to show me the path, and that both he and I proved too fragile to tolerate the thing which followed us home.
I met with my contact after a lengthy but fitful sleep at the cheapest hotel I could book once landed and settled in Yangon. After another lengthy attempt to dissuade me from my course outside a tiny local café which featured florid stories about regional Kachin Independence Army rebels, he sketched out a travel itinerary which would take me first by bus, then by locally arranged jeep up precarious roads to the tiny settlement of Sumprabum, in the farthest northern reaches of the nation. The way was precarious at times, with the aged dirt roads never failing to buck and rock the buses this way and that on the precipices of the scrub-choked cliff faces they hugged. The locals, bundled in like canned fish with a painfully conspicuous foreigner among them, mostly rode in sleepy silence through nearly two days of travel, leaving me to wonder whether I was the only one worried by the idea of toppling over the edge. It wouldn’t do, after all, to come so close to the unknown only to die in a bus crash.
Worry proved pointless, however, and I ended up in a tiny, flea-ridden bunk in Sumprabum a couple days after setting out from Maryland, my eyes scanning the tree-shrouded hills through the mist from my perch on the porch of a catholic mission as they reluctantly allowed me some much-needed sleep. It would be the first real rest I’d had since prior to my fateful road trip-turned-world excursion began. It would later prove to be the final mundane, dreamless sleep I would ever experience, but in my exhausted anticipation, I didn’t take any time to savor it.
Awakening plucked and prodded by mosquitoes but otherwise feeling prepared for anything, I made my way to a modest logger’s house of sheet metal and crude timber, where I met my local guide. He was an older man still steely with a laborer’s wiry muscle who the entire gathering of homes called Saya, something close to teacher. With my night owl’s pale skin, my relatively impressive height and my profuse sweating at the unaccustomed humidity, I must’ve looked like some traveling alien jester to the village’s locals, and we’d soon gathered a sizable crowd of onlookers as we talked over the plan for the day’s hike. I would pay a small sum to his family for his aid and the food and water he would furnish me with for the night I wanted to spend in the ruins, and then he would lead me on foot about twenty miles to the northwest into the forest, over hills and through valleys, until we arrived at the place the local Kachin population had dubbed Pyethceehon.
The name was only ever spoken in wavering tones of disgust and fear, and the assigning of so alien a name, alongside my newfound proximity to the place my friend had been only a short while ago, filled me with nervous apprehension for the first time since my entry into his home back in the states. While that vestigial, reptile-brained warning of danger to come was enough to put me on edge, it came nowhere close to drowning out my higher aspirations towards intrigue and awe. To be so close to the unknown was an ecstasy I hadn’t found in all my years of searching, and I was not about to abandon that sensation now.
Saya set a firm pace up what initially were muddy and brutally-sloped logging roads through the hills. After several hours we branched off and forded into the sea of trees. The undergrowth and tree trunks combined into a morass which looked absolutely identical to my untrained eye for hour after hour, but by nothing more than his memory of the landscape and the feel of the hills beneath his flip-flop clad feet, Saya pressed through. He always seemed to know just the right place to squeeze through a looming wall of interwoven trees or a jam of fallen logs in a creek bed. Our entire trip was scored by his thickly-accented English telling story after story about the sizes of snakes that could be found here or the density of the ant hives choking the ground there, interspersed with assurances that I could turn back at any time with but a word to him if I lost my nerve. I responded and questioned him when I could, but I was winded and broken by the endless ascents and descents we made despite years of avid hiking back home, and my spaces between strained breaths were few and far between.
He told me of several disappearances of hunters and scouts for logging outfits in the area, but nothing had transpired near the ruins in recent memory. So dark was their reputation that throughout the militia-driven guerrilla warfare which had preceded my arrival for several years, not one camp or troop movement had been made around or through Pyethceehon, whether by loyalist or separatist forces. Saya was the only man in the area that had come close in the past five or six decades, and even he never dared go the final mile or two towards the old settlement in the trees.
The first visit was a childhood expedition in search of village chickens spooked into the jungle by a storm, which had ended in him accidentally stumbling across the stream which babbled downhill from the hilltop upon which Pyethceehon brooded. The second was to lead my friend to the stony banks of that very same stream.
On arriving, the brave man made me the same offer he’d made my friend, standing with his hands on his hips and offering to come with me into the ruins if I felt I needed him there. It was an offer made through a face haunted by the very syllables formed in making the offer, and I couldn’t bring myself to ask Saya along.
Thanking him for his kindness, I made certain of the time I was to meet him tomorrow and departed for the legend-haunted wreck atop the low mountain, with afternoon long having set in. Our pace had been slowed by my pondering progress, and I knew the few remaining hours of daylight would provide more than enough time for the savvy Saya to reach the logging roads and be well on his way to the village by nightfall. The prospect of a night alone on this unknown precipice only set in when thirty minutes of hiking up the creek bed had secured my isolation. I gripped the little revolver I’d been given to ward off tigers with a tight desperation I had never before experienced. All the while, my tired legs carried me that last mile into Pyethceehon.
I was more vibrant and alive in those terrified minutes than I had ever been before. I pity my friend, for having been the very first outsider in a century to visit the place had denied him the experience of knowing some specter of the danger that lurked there firsthand. While he must’ve felt the weight of the ruin’s reputation and atmosphere, only I knew the fate of a personal friend who had come before. It lit a fire in my stomach so intense I chewed the interior of my cheek raw in jittery anticipation of reaching the summit, my wavering legs finding new strength as my destination neared.
During my hurried in-flight preparations for this moment, I had scoured pictures, satellite images and documentary footage of great Burmese temple and stupa sites like Bagan, wanting to be accustomed to the kind of structures I might find upon arrival. I had expected crumbling but mighty dome-and-spire edifices like those, but what I found was altogether alien. The structures of Pyethceehon were much more like the small, tightly-packed, cone-roofed structures of lesser-known Nyaung Ohak far to the south.
Its avenues were only a few feet wide, choked between hundreds of huddled monuments and teeming with hungry plant growth, the few untoppled stone peaks reaching no further than fifteen or twenty feet into the branch-strangled sky. Many of them leaned, their bases sinking into the stone of the ground as the passing of ten centuries remolded the very Earth beneath their feet. It was the material, though, that shocked me so, making me think I had wandered into some mighty forest of vine-blackened prehistoric teeth as I crested the hill and stumbled into that outpost of blasphemy.
The stone was not the reddish-brown of most of the nation’s monuments, nor the sandy, water-aged brown of monuments elsewhere in the near and far east. It was not the marble of rich classical sculpture or the placid limestone grey of contemplative new-world step pyramids and old-world castles. Rather, it was the shiny and rippling surface of masterfully-shaped obsidian, their rain-polished surfaces staring back in rank after rank at me through the scrub- looking for all the world like massive, teeming ant mounds.
The play of the sun through the canopy above off the slightly uneven surfaces even lent them the illusion of motion, as of water bubbling in rapids over a bank of piled stones, or, perhaps more appropriately, of millions of chitinous ant bodies amassing to repel an intruder. Their mostly conical spires were shingled with tiny interlocking plates of jade, weathered by centuries until it was almost muted, looking grey against the greens of the jungle.
I lingered there on the precipice for a long while, telling myself I needed to catch my breath, but knowing with every second I spent looking into the distance down those accursed rows that it was something much less explicable that kept my body frozen among the warm trees. It is only now, removed from the stress and excitement of the scene, that I can guess at what unspoken and unrecognized force halted my progress. Though I might not have been able to give voice to why at the time, I knew deep down that the conditions for obsidian to exist at all were not right here.
Obsidian was not among the pantheon of materials found in the jewelry, weapons or art of Southeast Asia, and that was because the nearest region with the right kind of volcanic activity to generate the substance at all lay thousands of miles away across the south china sea, on the island of Papua. I remember vividly having it pointed out as a commodity unique to the isle in my travels through Indonesia years before. What on Earth the glistening void-dark rock was doing in Myanmar remains far beyond me, but the grooved and layered construction of it, along with the faintly rough and uneven breaks in the glass-like surfaces where it had been so carefully shaped, told me it could be nothing else.
When at last my legs were moving beneath me again, I found winding my way through the obsidian forest testing at every moment my resolution to be there. Each stupa was littered with carvings, almost all of them pictographic, and almost all of these featuring the crouching forms of spiders. The largest, however, dotted every ten or twelve structures along the overgrown path I had chosen to follow, held another, more tantalizingly sinister image.
The first time I passed one of these carvings, I kept moving, my mind rushing to place why I recoiled on such an instinctive level from those particular figures amidst a legion of equally disturbing sights and sensations. Upon reaching a second rendition of the image, though, I opened my pack and flipped through my friend’s notebooks, desperate to confirm my suspicions. It didn’t take long to find his own rendition of the image, half-remembered in my nervous state, scrawled on the back cover of a cheap, weathered notebook.
The thing was a gaunt, thin, gangly creature, reminiscent of a man, but twisted and bent nearly beyond recognition. Its legs looked almost stick-like, ending in pointed barbs, and its torso sprouted three pairs of arms, evoking the image of sword-wielding Hindu gods. The arms sported one more joint than the single natural elbow showed by human beings, and each pair of them was held high in an awkward, exaggerated shrug- like a father aping a silent film-era monster to spook his children. This gave me the initial, erroneous impression that the many arms were the skeletal structure of unfurled wings. Each came to a blade-like point, just like the feet, with each lower pair slightly shorter than the last. The head -or what should have been a head- was by far the worst of it, though, and to think of it now in light of what I know makes me wonder beyond wonder that I stayed in that ruin at all.
Where a head should be, there was merely an aperture at the top of the torso, a large fang-lined mouth that ran like a zipper from where the back of a neck would’ve been to where the sternum should begin. Around it, unfurled and given the illusion of squirming motion by both the impromptu sketch artist and the ancient sculptors, were multiple layers of the sort of stunted forelegs that flank a tarantula’s mouth.
With the afternoon wearing on, I slowly pieced the shattered remnants of my aesthete’s zeal for the unusual back together. Wandering familiarized me with the two square miles or so that constituted the remnants of this little graveyard of forbidden worship, the knowledge I gained of its layout fortifying me with a sense of distant belonging I knew full well would disappear as soon as the sun sank beneath the horizon. Radiating inward like the strands of a great web, the avenues of the place all lead to a single center point where some massive temple or palace complex had once stood. It was here that I began to set up a modest little camp to wait out the night, piling what scant dry firewood I found and clearing undergrowth so that any insects or snakes would be scared out and away from my position.
The old temple was nothing save a foundation long sunk into the murky earth, its bottom littered with mud and stone from the superstructure, leaving only stalagmite-like fragments of its black obsidian walls to poke outward from the debris. It was in the protective shadow of one of these that I settled down, piling several more natural stones as a makeshift seat only after I ensured that none of the images of the damnable spider-thing were in view of my perch.
The final couple hours before nightfall felt like minutes, for time flew past with a speed only dread can create. I reflected, as I sat waiting for the proper moment to begin burning my small reserve of firewood, that there had been little in the way of totems or objects in the ruins. Most of the buildings had been stupas, too small to inhabit or enter, and the temple behind me had long ago been toppled in Pagan’s raid upon the despised cult. The sculptures, really the only testament to the past nature of this place, were repetitive, mimicking in stonework the kind of mantra repetitions witnessed in Buddhist or animist ceremonies.
I flipped through my catalogue of hastily-acquired knowledge, often referencing my friend’s notes and the books to which he’d clung, trying to recall anything which might help me retrace his steps in this dark corner of the Earth. I found none, for his notes said nothing of his actual expedition, and the treatments of this place in text and legend were so frightful and vague that there was little to work from. There were no signs of my friend in the avenues of shadowy Pyethceehon, just as there were no signs of the day-to-day lives of its ancient residents. The jungle had swallowed this vile place, and in another millennia, there would likely be nothing left to visit here.
Beyond the lack of information on my missing friend, I found my motivation consumed as the sunset got underway by an exhaustion which was entirely unlike me. Thoroughly unnerved and in a place unfamiliar to me, I should’ve been wide awake, ready to weather an entire night of vigilant, guarded listening over my fire. Instead, as the sky’s oranges darkened the shadows of the surrounding trees and scrub, turning the ranked stupas into ominous silhouettes which seemed to creep towards me through the encroaching trees, my usual explorer’s thrill at the unknown was extinguished. Each blink came as a labored exertion while I breathed life into the little woodpile before me.
Exacerbating this, I became aware of an impenetrable quiet hanging over the thinned mountaintop clearing in which Pyethceehon had brooded all these centuries. It was as if the very mosquitoes in the air knew not to disturb the slumber of such an ill-fated and ill-tempered beast as this.
I was in for a tense night.
submitted by StygianSagas to libraryofshadows [link] [comments]


2020.09.11 06:14 StygianSagas A Scratching at the Door (part 1)

It is my cathedral, my magnum opus- the culmination of two decades spent grinding my way through the most debauched and blasphemous practices and indulgences. It’s a thing of imposing grandeur most might shrug off as ominous or distasteful, like a soviet-era state edifice or a moldering abandoned hospital on an overcast hillside. It’s also seedy, just the right mix of ordered and disordered to tickle my mind and draw me into the rapturous atmosphere I have worked so hard to create within its walls. For years, I have retreated here when the weight of the world around me has beaten me low with its tedious, mundane goings-on, a last respite for a mind that never felt quite at home there. Fitting, then, that it will serve as my tomb.
Whoever stumbles across this account will find it in my home. From there, my cathedral is some two miles away, down the old logging trail that forks off from Whispering Pines Road. The dugout is near its terminus- a low, brooding bunker-like structure buried in the hills and blocked by a pair of rusted metal doors. I will leave these locked, but accessible via the key beneath this letter.
I don’t have any idea as to what the purpose of the modest dugout was originally, for it was barren when I found it two decades ago. Perhaps storage, for the nearest house is much too far away for it to serve effectively as a storm shelter. Regardless, the contents will be unharmed. I have committed crimes to attain the totems and relics I surround myself with, but while I might be a thief, I have always considered myself a borrower of items, rather than a taker of treasures. They may be redistributed to their proper places as authorities see fit to distribute them. Whoever first goes to the cathedral should mentally steel themselves for what they’ll find when they push through those heavy doors, though.
The collection began when I was a teenager. The first modest additions were items I acquired while delving in abandoned places of ill repute close to my hometown. I took a century-old diary from a moldering manor home in Louisville, and snagged a small bust dulled by time from a tottering school’s library in Lynch. As I grew in boldness, my taste for eerie and unsettling items grew more and more insatiable.
The gravestones of several notable Civil War-era dead were taken from Perryville, beginning the collection of headstones and memorial plaques of supposedly spectral figures that tile my cathedral’s walls. A bone saw, taken from a reportedly haunted hospital across the state line in Ironton, leans on a shelf against the skull of a folklore-rumored hermit-turned-warlock from the hills west of Ashland, which I dug up and preserved with great care after his remains had lurked in the ground for the better part of a century.
International connections may be needed to return some of the items, though, for I have done a fair bit of traveling in my time, always on the lookout for suitably evocative items for my gallery. The collection boasts, for example, a golden ring pulled from the bottom of a Yucatan cenote, where it rested amongst the honored sacrificial dead piled there during the golden age of the Maya. It rests upon the index finger of an unnaturally large mummified hand treasured by a twisted group of scholarly mountainside cultists in Tibet, who believed it to be the withered claw of a woman from the fabled subterranean realm of Patala. All this shall be catalogued in the most intimate detail which my memory allows, and I will denote the dates and locations at which each item was acquired, from the most modest small-town tombstone to the most exotic ‘cursed’ statuette or storied murder weapon.
I won’t get too bogged down in all that here, though. You’ll find that list in the cathedral, along with whatever remains of me. The purpose of this text is to dissuade anyone from touching or tampering with, in any way, a certain item I’ve hidden away in a long-forgotten mine not terribly far from here. The entrance will be collapsed, a feat which will charge me no small amount of work, and it desperately needs to stay that way. I only bother to mention this item at all because, for reasons that will become evident, I am unsure whether it will stay put down there in the wake of my death.
Any perusing these pages would be justified in wondering what all the fuss is about, so I’ll lay out the story as clearly as I’m able, starting with why I even had cause to come in contact with the wretched thing in the first place. Some years into my darker explorations and trophy taking, exploiting a long interest in the darker side of paranormal speculation and occult practices, I began to experiment here and there with immersing myself in the kinds of provocative groups that often congregated around the places I visited. In college I visited a local quarry notorious for suicidal leaps with some of my fellow students on Halloween for a very stereotypical drunk layman’s séance. It produced nothing tangible in terms of unexplainable experiences, but electrified me with the mood -the atmosphere- that accompanied our silly ritual when it was performed in so ominous a setting.
Branching out from there, I found equally atmospheric experiences by hitching my wagon to various occult groups across my region, the most longstanding relation being with a nameless group of pagan revivalists in Cave City. They stoked my need for taboo moods with spectacular solstice sacrifices of live bullocks during firelight ceremonies in the cave systems across the county.
Over the years, I built up a book of contacts who shared my fascination, or at least held a belief in eldritch ritual and ample enough contacts to put me in a position to experience and partake in their rites. I never developed any belief that anything I was doing had any impact in the material sense, however.
Chasing these rituals and gatherings was to me purely a folkloric, atmospheric exercise, a passionate and exciting interest that sweetened my existence in a world I found comparatively drab. When I witnessed a group of isolated townspeople in the arid interior of Tunisia burn a live lamb on a bed of coals before an ancient horned statue in the hills under a full moon, I was under no illusions that I had made contact with Baal Hammon. Rather, I could imagine for the briefest hour that I stood in Carthage before it’s fall. I could feel the exaltations and excesses of the men and women of that lost land in a way that few others, even amongst our great but fast-decaying scholarly institutions, will ever know. In this way, I liked to pretend that my pursuits were entirely anthropological in nature, an extended study in the collection and interpretation of dark folklore.
There was a small, sequestered portion of my mind, however, that had less rational motivations. Whenever a promising message would come my way, titillating me at the thought of potential reality behind all the shadowy pageantry of these ritual outings, I would jump at the chance to experience the kinds of raw emotion -fear, awe, or otherwise- that were so often whispered about in occult gatherings. I wanted some taste of the beyond, whatever that happened to be, and a chance discovery I made in July seemed to promise that very thing. It was this call to the unknown that set me on the path towards my final resting place in the cathedral.
Several months ago, a contact I made years back while visiting radical underground pagan organizations in Europe and with whom I had shared deep if infrequent correspondence was mentioned in passing by a mutual acquaintance, and it came up that he hadn’t been heard from in some months. I wrote to him and, when calls and emails went unanswered, I resolved to make the trip east to his home in the mountains of western Maryland to see him in person. Even among circles as prone to weirdness and reclusiveness as mine, it was odd for someone to go entirely dark. The nature of my interests -and those of my friend, for that matter- meant that the hunger for understanding ears to speak to was endless. For someone to wholly disconnect from the people who were best able to understand his eldritch obsessions and habits was an act of self-isolation above and beyond anything I or most I inquired with had ever witnessed.
When I arrived at his modest home west of Cumberland, I found it deserted in an odd state, with the front door unlocked and unsecure but the windows boarded up as if a hurricane were soon due on the mountainside. His shotgun lay tossed on the couch in the front room as I entered the building, and by the looks of the place, he had been holed up there for some time, sequestered off from the rest of the house. The doorway to the basement was boarded up, as was his adjoining bedroom and the back door onto the porch, which left only the front door accessible, and even that seemed to have been secured until recently. With his front sitting room space and a combined kitchen cut off like that, he’d set himself up to sleep on his couch and over the intervening days built up a fearful mess of discarded food and hastily-rifled books and papers.
Upon forcing my way into the basement, I found the sparse furniture and stored books and pictures tossed and turned, but nothing missing. The shotgun resting in the front room above had been fired several times into the walls, but had apparently stricken nothing, for there was no trace of blood or injury to be discovered.
Such disorder was worrying, for he had been an orderly and reserved man. What worried me more, however, was that there were no signs of forced entry. His old truck still sat rusting in the gravel driveway, the keys tucked under the driver’s seat as was his custom. The boarding and locks holding shut the front door had been calmly removed and unlatched from within, and there was not a single sign of disturbance in his makeshift fortress that would suggest someone had laid siege to the house to take him or his belongings. After locking himself in his front room for days, perhaps weeks, he had finally freed himself and walked out into the dense, mountainous woodland surrounding the house with no gun, no shoes, no keys, and no truck.
I set about investigating myself, hesitant to involve the authorities for obvious reasons. It was one thing to call up mutual associates to check whether there was any consensus on what he had been up to in the days prior to his confinement, but it was quite another to allow police to intrude on his property and potentially discover some macabre collection similar to my own that I’d been unaware of. Call after call came back inconclusive and shrouded in uncertainty, leaving me less and less convinced as the evening wore on that he would simply stumble out of the darkening woodline any minute fresh off some spectacular hallucinogenic trip, angry at my intrusion into his home. Then, as the sun dipped below the hunched, wood-cloaked mountains, my friend’s ancient land line received a call, sending me stumbling inside at a run from the porch, and plunging me into roiling chaos.
The initial exchange seemed innocuous enough, considering what was to follow. Speaking accented but practiced English, a man asked after the whereabouts of my friend. I was initially hesitant to be fully forthright with this stranger, but when he voluntarily betrayed that my friend had been in Myanmar by asking how he had been since his return, I felt it was necessary to probe just a little. I asked when my friend had departed and, upon realizing his return to the states must have been immediately followed by his recent descent into paranoid compound fortification, I inquired whether he’d seemed distressed or ill in the days leading up to his return home. Those simple questions were somehow all the man on the other end of the line needed to hear, for his response was to ask if he had gone missing.
“I warned him,” the voice muttered. “I warned him not to go up into the mountains. I knew it must be bad, for him to stay so quiet after leaving.”
The exchange that followed couldn’t have totaled more than ten minutes, but my constant reflection on it over the intervening weeks has stretched it into an hours-long ordeal, remembered verbatim and retrievable down to a syllable. At my insistence, he told me of the witching circles he occupied in Yangon, and of my friend’s keen interest in them. As evasive as I had been with exact details, he described a trip through the country organized for my friend by contacts in the region, a sort of whirlwind tour of debauched and culturally subterranean experiences. This trip had apparently terminated in an ill-advised trek into the mountainous north of the country, that the speaker and his local Yangon brethren had absolutely refused to attend.
“There are ruins in the hills,” he told me, the disgust plain in his voice. “Sacked and toppled by the kings of Pagan, and with good reason. None should travel there.”
For centuries, people both local to the region and native to other provinces of Burma had stayed clear of the place. The longstanding curse placed upon it by the Pagan kings of old was bolstered here and there by the hushed retelling of another tale of woe sparked when a foreign traveler or urban youth from the south insisted on seeing the forbidden heights. Reiterated in the flesh of modernity just as it would’ve been recited those centuries ago from atop the peacock throne of Burma, the man warned me with hushed tones not to look into my friend’s final days, to burn any of his private writings, and to leave the dead to lie. He then hung up, the whole thing feeling for all the world like an establishing scene out of a century-old horror story.
That is precisely what made it impossible for me to heed his warnings.
Even as I looked over the domestic devastation around me left in the aftermath of just such a visit, I understood every ounce of thought that had driven my friend to make the trip into the mountains. These unnamed ruins, haunted by shadowy legendry so fierce an occultist guide among fellow occultists would not risk their ancient paths, were everything a chaser of the extravagant could dream to see. Initially worried for my friend, the realization that it had grown dark outside now breathed some level of fear into me, only heightening the racing of my thoughts.
Had he not boarded up his home, then thrashed and shot at some unknown force in the basement, only to run away into the woods? What, should I decide to stay there through the night, would I find?
These were the sort of thoughts that would’ve driven a reasonable man out of the house and down the little mountain road into the security of town, but I, as attested to by the stolen gravestones and human remains which shall soon surround my corpse in the cathedral, am not a reasonable man. I set about a fevered examination of the books and notes with which my friend had occupied himself during his voluntary imprisonment, and left messages with all the contacts I had garnered over a lifetime’s probing the obscure and obscene who I thought might have any knowledge of use to me. After all, with nothing else to work from, this scrap of tantalizing information was the only hope of learning what befell my companion, and discovering whether the unknown caller’s pessimism on that score was justified. The ominous connotations of that information were just an added incentive.
The night was a long, tedious affair, with several breaks taken for no better reason than to calm my nerves and assure there was nothing lurking in the unlit kitchen or creeping up the now exposed basement staircase. Nothing save the atmosphere of the little house was amiss, though, and the night ultimately proved enlightening. From a battered notebook well worn by continued visits from its owner over the years, I learned about my friend’s obsession with the concept of the Nat, a kind of mythic Burmese-Buddhist spirit, or deity. Writing using a cypher popularized by the Golden Dawn with which many in my circles will be familiar, he had been jotting down notes regarding the origination of the currently recognized pantheon of thirty-seven Nat, and on unofficial, more local Nat, revered or feared by populations of certain towns and villages spread here and there across the interior of Myanmar.
It was a history in which I was not versed, for Myanmar had never come up as a focal point of occult or otherwise weird significance, but he’d developed a fascination with rumors of a cult in the remote north of the country centered on a Nat of such wickedness that it had single-handedly spurred the attempted banning of local Nat offerings. This being was supposedly the reason for instituting the official pantheon of thirty-seven instituted some thousand years ago, after the end of the first millennium.
Scattered across the margins of Cambridge and Oxford histories of Southeast Asia and several more journals filled with scribbled code, I learned the story of King Anawrahta, founder of the first unified Burmese empire, and a figure seemingly obsessed with the imposition of Buddhist religious order overtop of the native faiths of his land. In the texts of academia, the reason given for this ranged from expanding state control over local governance to enriching the crown through more reliable religious taxation. Notes from my friend on correspondence with local occultists and their own books of speculative history painted a different, altogether darker picture.
Folk tales from the jungle-choked hills in the north of the country joined longstanding occult traditions in laying the blame for this crackdown on local rituals at the feet of a reviled figure called Paunggkuu, whose name is closely linked to the modern Burmese word for spider.
Paunggkuu, known by no other name or title, is shadowed by many rumored pasts and motives, with some tales alleging he was a noble member of a local clan whose prosperity was shattered by the expansion of the king’s empire in the south, turning he and his family to blood offerings and shadowy rites in hopes of bettering their fortunes. Still others believe he was a Nat-possessed vagrant, a nobody raised from nothing by a wicked spirit to great infamy only to just as quickly be tossed aside- an expendable mortal shell for a being which had long lurked in the mountains. Many more hinted origins exist, but the outcome of the rise of Paunggkuu is always the same, with the mundane man-turned-warlock leading a cult of several hundred followers into a megalithic ruined city tucked away in the trees, where they began to prey on the surrounding countryside.
Village youths started to go missing, and over time, whole rural communities were stripped clean of inhabitants. Rippling outwards from the ruined city, the locals spoke in hushed whispers of a creeping death, a diabolical Nat or witch in the guise of a monster who haunted the spaces beneath raised houses and huts at night, and whose disgusting visage appeared to the locals in nightmare night after sleepless night. So great was the fear brought about by this shadowy plague of disappearances that the regional seat of power, the small city of Mogaung, was forced to take notice. Its kingly high priest, himself a vassal and ally of the powerful King Anawrahta in the south, sent men into the region to quell the disorder and bring those responsible to justice. When those men, too, had gone missing, an army of several hundred was raised, and when that had failed to report back, the priest sent desperate word to Pagan, petitioning the king for aid.
Anawrahta, occupied with other matters in the south, failed to answer with speed, but was spurred to action by a dark event sometime around the middle of 1057, when a nighttime raid on the outskirts of Mogaung itself drove the priest to flee south to the capital, where he took up exiled residence in Pagan with his suzerain. This attack, which was laid at the feet of bandits in official records, did not topple the city or level any temples, but its nature was so horrid that Anawrahta put a momentary halt to his campaigns of unification and consolidation to march north with more than five thousand men, riding upon a gold-girdled war elephant and leading the host in person.
The events which followed seem singularly terrible, and the narrative presented in the royal chronicles of Pagan of a bandit revolt quashed by the glorious armies of Anawrahta does little to explain why all but a thousand of the men sent into the jungle never came back. It does nothing to explain why local Kachin legend speaks of the mortified screams which echoed down from the hills being audible even now on certain moonlit nights, when the skies are right. Bandits, after all, couldn’t have spurred a burgeoning kingdom with more enemies than allies to spend half a year leveling an ancient stone city, and the rest of the century burying its name and history by burning books and sundering stone carvings.
The sun rose over the Maryland hills, and with it, I found myself reverberating with not only a new grasp of a strange land’s lore and legendry, but of my aims moving forward. Several contacts of my friend’s had agreed to come search for him and continue looking into the mounds of documentation he had compiled. While they got on the road and began their long drives, a Javanese associate who had led me on an extravagant tour of ancient fire-cults still in practice on the remoter regions of that island contacted a friend at my behest. This friend initiated a chain of further connections from friend to friend until I was speaking with a Burmese Buddhist monk-turned-animist wiseman, who knew of the rumored city in the north.
Though he dissuaded me from my stated aim of visiting the site in search of answers, he agreed to meet me in Yangon upon my arrival and place me in contact with locals of the northern Kachin province who could aid me in getting transport and supplies in so remote a region. I purchased my tickets that morning for a chain of flights leaving out of Washington D.C. that evening, and after leaving a scribbled note for my vanished friend in the off chance he resurface before his other companions arrived, I piled into my car without a wink of sleep to drive for the capital.
I cannot entirely give voice to the feelings which drove my movements throughout the day. Exhaustion did not catch up to me until well into the initial flight from Washington to Japan, and even then, sleep came in fitful bursts. I was too busy pouring over hastily-copied scraps of information left by my friend, staring holes in satellite images of northern Myanmar, and memorizing a few helpful words of the Burmese language to even consider how I felt. The whole of the scenario seemed like some great initial stage in an epic drama, and my worry at the sudden disappearance of a close friend and associate in the pursuit of strangeness had fast been molded together with an urge to see what he must’ve seen, and to feel whatever had spurred the paranoia he must’ve felt during those last, manic days in the closed front room.
It would be trite of me to proclaim now what a fool I was for being so blind, so eager to face the unknown. Moreover, it wouldn’t be entirely honest. Even now, as I prepare to do what must be done, I can recognize that what I found in Myanmar was exactly the sort of thing I had been searching for throughout the long and confused span of years that led me into the jungles of rural Kachin, and I can’t claim I regret taking the journey. I can only regret that my friend had to suffer what he did to show me the path, and that both he and I proved too fragile to tolerate the thing which followed us home.
I met with my contact after a lengthy but fitful sleep at the cheapest hotel I could book once landed and settled in Yangon. After another lengthy attempt to dissuade me from my course outside a tiny local café which featured florid stories about regional Kachin Independence Army rebels, he sketched out a travel itinerary which would take me first by bus, then by locally arranged jeep up precarious roads to the tiny settlement of Sumprabum, in the farthest northern reaches of the nation. The way was precarious at times, with the aged dirt roads never failing to buck and rock the buses this way and that on the precipices of the scrub-choked cliff faces they hugged. The locals, bundled in like canned fish with a painfully conspicuous foreigner among them, mostly rode in sleepy silence through nearly two days of travel, leaving me to wonder whether I was the only one worried by the idea of toppling over the edge. It wouldn’t do, after all, to come so close to the unknown only to die in a bus crash.
Worry proved pointless, however, and I ended up in a tiny, flea-ridden bunk in Sumprabum a couple days after setting out from Maryland, my eyes scanning the tree-shrouded hills through the mist from my perch on the porch of a catholic mission as they reluctantly allowed me some much-needed sleep. It would be the first real rest I’d had since prior to my fateful road trip-turned-world excursion began. It would later prove to be the final mundane, dreamless sleep I would ever experience, but in my exhausted anticipation, I didn’t take any time to savor it.
Awakening plucked and prodded by mosquitoes but otherwise feeling prepared for anything, I made my way to a modest logger’s house of sheet metal and crude timber, where I met my local guide. He was an older man still steely with a laborer’s wiry muscle who the entire gathering of homes called Saya, something close to teacher. With my night owl’s pale skin, my relatively impressive height and my profuse sweating at the unaccustomed humidity, I must’ve looked like some traveling alien jester to the village’s locals, and we’d soon gathered a sizable crowd of onlookers as we talked over the plan for the day’s hike. I would pay a small sum to his family for his aid and the food and water he would furnish me with for the night I wanted to spend in the ruins, and then he would lead me on foot about twenty miles to the northwest into the forest, over hills and through valleys, until we arrived at the place the local Kachin population had dubbed Pyethceehon.
The name was only ever spoken in wavering tones of disgust and fear, and the assigning of so alien a name, alongside my newfound proximity to the place my friend had been only a short while ago, filled me with nervous apprehension for the first time since my entry into his home back in the states. While that vestigial, reptile-brained warning of danger to come was enough to put me on edge, it came nowhere close to drowning out my higher aspirations towards intrigue and awe. To be so close to the unknown was an ecstasy I hadn’t found in all my years of searching, and I was not about to abandon that sensation now.
Saya set a firm pace up what initially were muddy and brutally-sloped logging roads through the hills. After several hours we branched off and forded into the sea of trees. The undergrowth and tree trunks combined into a morass which looked absolutely identical to my untrained eye for hour after hour, but by nothing more than his memory of the landscape and the feel of the hills beneath his flip-flop clad feet, Saya pressed through. He always seemed to know just the right place to squeeze through a looming wall of interwoven trees or a jam of fallen logs in a creek bed. Our entire trip was scored by his thickly-accented English telling story after story about the sizes of snakes that could be found here or the density of the ant hives choking the ground there, interspersed with assurances that I could turn back at any time with but a word to him if I lost my nerve. I responded and questioned him when I could, but I was winded and broken by the endless ascents and descents we made despite years of avid hiking back home, and my spaces between strained breaths were few and far between.
He told me of several disappearances of hunters and scouts for logging outfits in the area, but nothing had transpired near the ruins in recent memory. So dark was their reputation that throughout the militia-driven guerrilla warfare which had preceded my arrival for several years, not one camp or troop movement had been made around or through Pyethceehon, whether by loyalist or separatist forces. Saya was the only man in the area that had come close in the past five or six decades, and even he never dared go the final mile or two towards the old settlement in the trees.
The first visit was a childhood expedition in search of village chickens spooked into the jungle by a storm, which had ended in him accidentally stumbling across the stream which babbled downhill from the hilltop upon which Pyethceehon brooded. The second was to lead my friend to the stony banks of that very same stream.
On arriving, the brave man made me the same offer he’d made my friend, standing with his hands on his hips and offering to come with me into the ruins if I felt I needed him there. It was an offer made through a face haunted by the very syllables formed in making the offer, and I couldn’t bring myself to ask Saya along.
Thanking him for his kindness, I made certain of the time I was to meet him tomorrow and departed for the legend-haunted wreck atop the low mountain, with afternoon long having set in. Our pace had been slowed by my pondering progress, and I knew the few remaining hours of daylight would provide more than enough time for the savvy Saya to reach the logging roads and be well on his way to the village by nightfall. The prospect of a night alone on this unknown precipice only set in when thirty minutes of hiking up the creek bed had secured my isolation. I gripped the little revolver I’d been given to ward off tigers with a tight desperation I had never before experienced. All the while, my tired legs carried me that last mile into Pyethceehon.
I was more vibrant and alive in those terrified minutes than I had ever been before. I pity my friend, for having been the very first outsider in a century to visit the place had denied him the experience of knowing some specter of the danger that lurked there firsthand. While he must’ve felt the weight of the ruin’s reputation and atmosphere, only I knew the fate of a personal friend who had come before. It lit a fire in my stomach so intense I chewed the interior of my cheek raw in jittery anticipation of reaching the summit, my wavering legs finding new strength as my destination neared.
During my hurried in-flight preparations for this moment, I had scoured pictures, satellite images and documentary footage of great Burmese temple and stupa sites like Bagan, wanting to be accustomed to the kind of structures I might find upon arrival. I had expected crumbling but mighty dome-and-spire edifices like those, but what I found was altogether alien. The structures of Pyethceehon were much more like the small, tightly-packed, cone-roofed structures of lesser-known Nyaung Ohak far to the south.
Its avenues were only a few feet wide, choked between hundreds of huddled monuments and teeming with hungry plant growth, the few untoppled stone peaks reaching no further than fifteen or twenty feet into the branch-strangled sky. Many of them leaned, their bases sinking into the stone of the ground as the passing of ten centuries remolded the very Earth beneath their feet. It was the material, though, that shocked me so, making me think I had wandered into some mighty forest of vine-blackened prehistoric teeth as I crested the hill and stumbled into that outpost of blasphemy.
The stone was not the reddish-brown of most of the nation’s monuments, nor the sandy, water-aged brown of monuments elsewhere in the near and far east. It was not the marble of rich classical sculpture or the placid limestone grey of contemplative new-world step pyramids and old-world castles. Rather, it was the shiny and rippling surface of masterfully-shaped obsidian, their rain-polished surfaces staring back in rank after rank at me through the scrub- looking for all the world like massive, teeming ant mounds.
The play of the sun through the canopy above off the slightly uneven surfaces even lent them the illusion of motion, as of water bubbling in rapids over a bank of piled stones, or, perhaps more appropriately, of millions of chitinous ant bodies amassing to repel an intruder. Their mostly conical spires were shingled with tiny interlocking plates of jade, weathered by centuries until it was almost muted, looking grey against the greens of the jungle.
I lingered there on the precipice for a long while, telling myself I needed to catch my breath, but knowing with every second I spent looking into the distance down those accursed rows that it was something much less explicable that kept my body frozen among the warm trees. It is only now, removed from the stress and excitement of the scene, that I can guess at what unspoken and unrecognized force halted my progress. Though I might not have been able to give voice to why at the time, I knew deep down that the conditions for obsidian to exist at all were not right here.
Obsidian was not among the pantheon of materials found in the jewelry, weapons or art of Southeast Asia, and that was because the nearest region with the right kind of volcanic activity to generate the substance at all lay thousands of miles away across the south china sea, on the island of Papua. I remember vividly having it pointed out as a commodity unique to the isle in my travels through Indonesia years before. What on Earth the glistening void-dark rock was doing in Myanmar remains far beyond me, but the grooved and layered construction of it, along with the faintly rough and uneven breaks in the glass-like surfaces where it had been so carefully shaped, told me it could be nothing else.
When at last my legs were moving beneath me again, I found winding my way through the obsidian forest testing at every moment my resolution to be there. Each stupa was littered with carvings, almost all of them pictographic, and almost all of these featuring the crouching forms of spiders. The largest, however, dotted every ten or twelve structures along the overgrown path I had chosen to follow, held another, more tantalizingly sinister image.
The first time I passed one of these carvings, I kept moving, my mind rushing to place why I recoiled on such an instinctive level from those particular figures amidst a legion of equally disturbing sights and sensations. Upon reaching a second rendition of the image, though, I opened my pack and flipped through my friend’s notebooks, desperate to confirm my suspicions. It didn’t take long to find his own rendition of the image, half-remembered in my nervous state, scrawled on the back cover of a cheap, weathered notebook.
The thing was a gaunt, thin, gangly creature, reminiscent of a man, but twisted and bent nearly beyond recognition. Its legs looked almost stick-like, ending in pointed barbs, and its torso sprouted three pairs of arms, evoking the image of sword-wielding Hindu gods. The arms sported one more joint than the single natural elbow showed by human beings, and each pair of them was held high in an awkward, exaggerated shrug- like a father aping a silent film-era monster to spook his children. This gave me the initial, erroneous impression that the many arms were the skeletal structure of unfurled wings. Each came to a blade-like point, just like the feet, with each lower pair slightly shorter than the last. The head -or what should have been a head- was by far the worst of it, though, and to think of it now in light of what I know makes me wonder beyond wonder that I stayed in that ruin at all.
Where a head should be, there was merely an aperture at the top of the torso, a large fang-lined mouth that ran like a zipper from where the back of a neck would’ve been to where the sternum should begin. Around it, unfurled and given the illusion of squirming motion by both the impromptu sketch artist and the ancient sculptors, were multiple layers of the sort of stunted forelegs that flank a tarantula’s mouth.
With the afternoon wearing on, I slowly pieced the shattered remnants of my aesthete’s zeal for the unusual back together. Wandering familiarized me with the two square miles or so that constituted the remnants of this little graveyard of forbidden worship, the knowledge I gained of its layout fortifying me with a sense of distant belonging I knew full well would disappear as soon as the sun sank beneath the horizon. Radiating inward like the strands of a great web, the avenues of the place all lead to a single center point where some massive temple or palace complex had once stood. It was here that I began to set up a modest little camp to wait out the night, piling what scant dry firewood I found and clearing undergrowth so that any insects or snakes would be scared out and away from my position.
The old temple was nothing save a foundation long sunk into the murky earth, its bottom littered with mud and stone from the superstructure, leaving only stalagmite-like fragments of its black obsidian walls to poke outward from the debris. It was in the protective shadow of one of these that I settled down, piling several more natural stones as a makeshift seat only after I ensured that none of the images of the damnable spider-thing were in view of my perch.
The final couple hours before nightfall felt like minutes, for time flew past with a speed only dread can create. I reflected, as I sat waiting for the proper moment to begin burning my small reserve of firewood, that there had been little in the way of totems or objects in the ruins. Most of the buildings had been stupas, too small to inhabit or enter, and the temple behind me had long ago been toppled in Pagan’s raid upon the despised cult. The sculptures, really the only testament to the past nature of this place, were repetitive, mimicking in stonework the kind of mantra repetitions witnessed in Buddhist or animist ceremonies.
I flipped through my catalogue of hastily-acquired knowledge, often referencing my friend’s notes and the books to which he’d clung, trying to recall anything which might help me retrace his steps in this dark corner of the Earth. I found none, for his notes said nothing of his actual expedition, and the treatments of this place in text and legend were so frightful and vague that there was little to work from. There were no signs of my friend in the avenues of shadowy Pyethceehon, just as there were no signs of the day-to-day lives of its ancient residents. The jungle had swallowed this vile place, and in another millennia, there would likely be nothing left to visit here.
Beyond the lack of information on my missing friend, I found my motivation consumed as the sunset got underway by an exhaustion which was entirely unlike me. Thoroughly unnerved and in a place unfamiliar to me, I should’ve been wide awake, ready to weather an entire night of vigilant, guarded listening over my fire. Instead, as the sky’s oranges darkened the shadows of the surrounding trees and scrub, turning the ranked stupas into ominous silhouettes which seemed to creep towards me through the encroaching trees, my usual explorer’s thrill at the unknown was extinguished. Each blink came as a labored exertion while I breathed life into the little woodpile before me.
Exacerbating this, I became aware of an impenetrable quiet hanging over the thinned mountaintop clearing in which Pyethceehon had brooded all these centuries. It was as if the very mosquitoes in the air knew not to disturb the slumber of such an ill-fated and ill-tempered beast as this.
I was in for a tense night.
submitted by StygianSagas to nosleep [link] [comments]


2020.09.10 22:43 nise7en Austin, Texas & Mountain Biking - Interview Seth Buckner

Copied and pasted from medium, https://medium.com/@zacharysisson/austin-texas-mountain-biking-interview-seth-buckner-1dc89ac87a49 If you want to see the original post with pictures, see the instruction below: To get past the medium paywall, copy the link, and DM yourself the link on Twitter, and you are past the paywall! Enjoy!
One of the pushers and movers of the ATX mountain bike scene.
After I posted the last two pieces Austin, Texas & Mountain Biking, and Austin, Texas & Mountain Biking — Community. People have reached out to me, recommending me to connect with Seth. I did have the opportunity to learn more things from him. Interviewing Seth made me understand more of Austin’s MTB scene. Seth is one of the icons that contributes to the growth of the scene in a little/big city, Austin, Texas. I added you on Facebook because your name seems to be popping up on places I looked for Austin mountain biking. What is your story? — My Name is Seth Buckner, 34 years old; I’ve worked at Apple Corporate as my full-time career since 2011.
How long have you been around in Austin? — Born and raised in north Austin, TX, my entire life.
What got you into gravity bikes? — Well, the long story.
I have tons of childhood memories riding mountain bikes as a young kid. Most memorably, in the super rocky dry creek beds in a greenbelt behind a house grew up in, riding in the rain and thunderstorms through the neighborhood on a silver hardtail that said “alloyminium” on the side. I raced BMX (at the original Capitol City BMX location off FM620 in the late ’90s) until I was about 13. After that was involved in other sports (skateboarding and competitive NPPL paintball) for most of my adolescent years. I got re-introduced to biking/mountain biking after getting a DUI when I was 19 years old in 2006. I lost my driver’s license for a year and bought a Kona Hardtail that was way too small for me from the pawnshop in a ghetto part of town.
I started getting into mountain biking and urban assault free ride type of stuff. The first actual mountain bike I ever built was a 2007 Kona stinky deluxe 26 inch Freeride bike off of wheelworld.com with a frame and a build kit; that was my full-time trail bike. Like a 42-pound nine-speed free ride bike in the Texas summer heat. But I like big hit type stuff, and I’m glad I was dumb enough to start on a rig like that. Haha.
Over the years, I slowly progressed as a mountain biker and got into downhill parks. 2008–2009ish at Trestle Winter Park, CO was my first ever DH park trip; I fell in love with that and the mountains. I eventually started going to local enduro races also.
Seth, I’ve had people tell me that you have pushed the limits of mountain biking in Austin. How is this so? — I will call myself a very dedicated and inclined (pun intended) trail builder who wants to stamp my mark on my Austin hometown, and Texas state. With gnarly trails that I love to ride for myself and the mountain biking community. I have grown to be super passionate about trail building. I built pretty much the entire cat mountain trail system over the last five years, built a full 10 stage enduro specific trail system at Bandera bike park in 2019, and now building trails at camp eagle. Where my race timing company Victory Racing — u/victoryracingevents just had a two day, eight staged shuttle supported enduro race last weekend, and that was incredible!
What drives you the most? — Mountain bike life is easy to love. Traveling places bring in the greatest form of outdoors — the mountains! I love to build trails. And shred them with my friends and also blow outta-towner people away with Austin mountain biking. Texas shredding is the real deal!
From start to finish, I get to be creative out in the woods and use that as a huge outlet for me, and then I get to have tons of fun riding those trails I built with my dog and my friends.
I quit drinking altogether in January of 2017. With the trail building being such an outlet, it was one of the easiest, non-wavering things I’ve ever done as far as a big lifestyle change. I don’t think at all I would’ve done it as well without all the trail building to occupy me. It also helped me get better as a rider.
What gets you to go out on the land with a chainsaw, tools, and a few friends? — Trail building is super meditative and therapeutic for me. You being out there in the woods either alone, with your dog or with your friends. Fresh air, away from all the city stuff, exercise, and you get to be creative designing and building trail. It’s just like a bunch of grown men acting like kids out in the woods but with power tools and more focused visions.
Tell me about 512 Freeride and your involvement? — I helped manage and promote the free ride 512 mountain biking club and help to get people into that style of mountain biking. Urban assault, freeride, downhill parks, Red Bull Rampage watch events, dig and ride events. FR512 is Still in existence, and there’s an awesome mountain bike club with a good group of people running it! The Rocky Hill Ranch Freeride 512 location is unique, and I would recommend anybody to check them out.
What about Victory Racing — Victory Racing was born in early 2019 when we were gaining momentum building Bandera Bike Park. The business/property owner that I was building the trails for wanted to start having races there. We came to a loan agreement, and I purchased a complete SportIdent active timing system. Capable of 8 stages and 200 racers per day in its current configuration and beacon/timing chip count. I started Victory Racing Company and Race Team.
What I believe makes Victory Racing unique is that we create the trails/venues where we are hosting the races. We are the first ever to provide full shuttle supported events (Bandera Race #2 & 2020 Shred Eagle @ Camp Eagle). Our events generally have more stages per day than other promoter’s events (all except one have been eight stages per day vs. others’ 4–5 stages max per day). Victory Racing also tends to race higher-level-difficulty race stages. They are not always the most beginner-friendly compared to other Enduro promoters in the state of Texas. There is a Risk vs. Reward balance when choosing to race higher-level stages with potentially higher consequences. Still, our events have all been great successes with extremely low incidences with rider safety. They seem to be providing the ultimate Texas enduro racing experience based on participant and racer feedback.
Dude, what’s going on at Cat Mtn.? — Oh man! Cat Mtn. is my pride and joy, my happy place. What I am most proud of In my life to date. It also has a cool story behind it, and I’d love to tell you.
About 11–12ish years ago, a couple of local Austin guys (who now all live in Angel Fire, NM at one of the best DH parks in the USA) pioneered and built just a small few of like 2–3 rowdy DH bandit trails with some really-super-sketchy wooden works of trail art big hit features in the woods, at cat mountain. A 108-acre wooden canyon nestled right in the middle of a very nice neighborhood in the hills of northwest Austin. Me, Wesley Crow, Brandon Goodman, and others, used to go out there and hit these wooden ladder drops and some single-hit drops and stuff like that.
Years went by, the pioneer guys all moved out of Texas (to Angelfire, NM, where they still reside), the woods took back the trails, and the wooden features rotted. Cat mtn. just went back to a patch of woods.
I went to buy a set of brakes and a bleed kit from a guy on craigslist. The dude would only talk to me through email and wouldn’t give me his phone number, but gave me his home address to meet him there at 6:30 pm one day. I drive there, park in front of his house for like an hour. The guy no shows, and I leave. No responses to email, either. I went onto the local mob forum board and posted about how flaky craigslist people are, even the sellers, and told me a story about the brakes. I just told you.
The seller saw that post and replied, apologized, and delivered the brakes. That’s the first time I ever met the guy.
A year or two goes by, and the same guy I got the brakes from posts on the forum board that he purchased the entire Cat Mtn property…!!!!! I’m shocked! I messaged him and told him the background of Cat mtn. and that we used to ride there. I explained I was part if FR512 and would love to bring the place back to life. And to keep the rest short and sweet, he gave me the keys to the kingdom, and here we are today. The free ride 512 club started to resurrect the place as a group effort. Ultimately it became mainly my thing, and I have been digging and running the trail system for close to 5 years now.
Its meant to be a very advanced trail system, not beginner-friendly. I take advantage of the super steep, rocky, and raw terrain there. My opportunity to build advanced wood features to build my favorite kind of trails I like to ride in places like New Mexico and Colorado. A trail that inspires a lot of my work is Upper Chillin’ double black at Angelfire Bike Park.
It will continue to create new lines there and keep pushing to keep it the raddest place in the state. Cat Mtn Invitational Enduro #2 is happening there Later this year.
Do you love your pup, don’t you? Does the pup run with you on the trails? — My boy Mack. Best trail dog ever :) he’s now almost 7, black lab & slight pitbull mix. He has been on the trails riding and building with me since he was four months old. He is getting into his more mature years now but is still super active; I’m just a lot more careful with the heat and running him on rides like we did when he was younger. He loves to hang out while we dig and lay in the cool dirt as we dig it up.
Is there anything you want to add or shout out on this piece, Seth? — Thank you, everyone, who has supported me and my efforts within Texas trail building and race promotion. Or just being riding buddies or a friend, thank you, everyone, who has come out to help dig. Your donations to trail building, racing my events and Promoting Victory Racing.
The biggest shout out to the most help of trail building, being my long time bike trip homies, my all-around right-hand bros, and the biggest supporters have been Alan Paryzek and Jason Kennedy. Yall have been there for me the longest and have been such huge help, and I could’ve have done it all without yall! Everyone else yall know who yall are!
Thanks again, and stay tuned for more from Seth Buckner and Victory Racing.
submitted by nise7en to Austin [link] [comments]


2020.09.08 16:38 ygeorge3 The Hand

A story outlining the thoughts and interactions of someone slowly descending into madness.
I’m slouched on my floor mat while I write this, it’s almost dawn. I know I don’t have long left I can barely tell the difference between my phone and a hair brush. I hope this serves as a warning for what’s going on up in that fenced up two story brick house please just stay away from it. God my body feels like it’s being crushed. There are some things we weren’t meant to try, please just listen so our real memories can live on. This is how it goes, I’d be there every weekend and it was just as beautiful as ever! You know! Surrounded by neighbors noise and the smell of pollution, but somehow the fenced up rooms that my grandmother maintain with my aunts and uncle where as if from another area the air smelled clean free of pollution and the cement walls and tiles both inside and outside where always spotless. It wasn’t a delicately crafted home the cement walls looked thick with layers of concrete and paint with some of the bricks still visible around the outside. Yet I’d always end up forgetting any discomfort while playing, with the smell of food, and fire. Every section of the house was decorated with refurbished furniture nothing really matched but nothing looked like it didn’t belong. It was all grey and white tones with the occasional pop of color
from the table cloths and small ceramic baby ornaments. Metalic sculptures of flowers lined the framed still life that hung on the walls. The catholic influence clung to every room, crosses, Jesus and the Virgin Mary, bibles everywhere. The beautiful odor of cement that filled the home reminded me of a rainy day and flowers when it wasn’t 100 degrees or more in the summer. My uncle Jorge had a brick fire pit in the front yard, we’d cookout in every weekend, and just half a mile down the road was a gasoline station we’d walk to for snacks. I remember on the first day my uncle Jorge showed us the different fruit stands around the area and my one and only brother had asked why the city smelled like rotting sewage my uncle laughed and told us we’d understand once we made it back, back home with our families and appreciate it. He said he had never seen people fight more than he had in this city where no modern amenities where allowed. “You better bet that someone got murdered and stuffed down there! But don’t scare your brother with that” He winked at me as I stared and the sewer quietly, nodding toward my brother. Bruce my younger brother only like two feet tall just waddled around looking for my mom not a clue in the world. “Awhhhh I’m just messing with you! I’ve never seen a body in there, people here are just looking to get away from the uptight they come down here to eat tacos, lie to women, and listen to them yell we all went back to the house and my grandma began instructing us on how to get ready for bed, we prepared beds on the floor for the arrival of our aunts when they all came back from work. Three days latter I found that I enjoy being scared more than I had anticipated, the urgency, no where to go, the anxiety and obsession, and the way the house would manifest the very thing I was afraid of when I was intensely focused. My grandmother Jorge and Bruce where always nice to me, we got along well you can say, and of course we would right we’re family after all. We where all creative and had our different interests. Jorge could stay in his home all day my brother wanted to travel and I liked school. We all wanted to play our parts and share the unique experiences with each other, and then there was my grandma she’d been living there like for years before I was born I didn’t have a grandpa. Jorge looked after the house doing most of the small renovations to doors, leeks, and stuff and he liked that. You could tell by the way he looked, he appeared to be 60 but he was in his 30’s, he was full jokes, and he enjoyed staying up late. Like a teenager with a smart mouth and quick witts. He welcomed everyone that came over, he had a chair set up in the front of the yard just behind the gate so he could greet everyone that came over. If we wanted he could tell us stories about our trips when we where too young to remember, or his trips with my cousins. We all looked to him during the afternoon cook outs for stories and jokes. This was all a little after I found the hole in the ground before I found out there was something wrong in my grandmas house. My brother and I looked for my grandmother in her room.” I want to hear a story” I exclaimed, “ but I want to hear something different.” my little brother just shadowed me. “Ok,” my grandmother said “your aunt will tell you a story.” We sat on her twin bed. My aunt who was in her 20s thin tall with green eyes and naturally long wavy hair came into the room that had a small audience crowding the twin bed. My brother and I along with my cousin and grandmother looked to her expectingly, “I heard y’all want to hear a different story, what? are y’all tired of the sweet stories your grandmother tells you? she only has good things to say, I don’t know if y’all really want to hear this story?!” I interrupted “Yes! I just. I like grandmas stories, but now I’m curious and I want to hear yours story too.” I said. She started “I walked through the woods to get to our house in the village, I had to use the restroom that was placed half a mile away from the house shrouded in darkness with only a candle to light my way.” I was the only one Interrupting her stories with my reactions and questions, what village, why was the restroom so far, wasn’t it terrifying? My cousin got up to turn the lights off, and my aunt just happened to have a flashlight with her that we all past around in the dark giving my little brother the most time with the flashlight. A sense of guilt came over me seeing everyone so well prepared to spoil my desire to hear a story. Something was making me regret my decisions I reminded my self to slow down as my breathing just involuntarily started speeding up. A warning went off in my brain before the story had even begun. I’d watched ”The Exorcist” already things couldn’t possibly get worse I tried to convince my self, but devine intervention kept on screaming in my brain and my surroundings and the room felt more like a set in a movie I didn’t want to be a part of. The longer I sat there the deeper the hole got, it was something, and it had nothing to do with the little story my aunt was about to tell me, but I couldn’t put my finger on what it was just yet, my curiosity kept my attention for the rest of the story. My aunt continued “ there’s three parts to what happened to me in the house. First of we had six beds in one room that we all shared, my bed was the one closest to the window. I didn’t think this thing that happened to me was weird until after. There was a man that visited me but he looked so black except for a glare of red in his eyes the only way I could tell it was a man was by his voice he stood like 12 feet away from the window whispering loud enough just for me to hear, he asked me to go outside with him “Patty, Patty come outside with we.” How do you know my name I asked him why did he want me to go outside I Told him I did know him. He said he wanted to talk to me I told him No and he just stood there Looking at me so I looked away and when I looked back he was gone, I fell asleep and had a dream of someone saying my name over and over again. No one believe me, so I just forgot about it. “That was the first part” My aunt said. I sat on my grandmas bed just totally curious at this point my mom decided to go to bed taking my brother with her, so now it was me my cousin and grandmother listening to my aunt. “The second part was bad and it really did happen to me just ask your grandma” my grandmother stood up to go do some laundry laughing and exclaiming how she’d heard other people had seen much worse in the village, the devil in the form of a completely black stallions with burning red eyes. It used to breath so loud they’d say! My grandmother imitated a big breath of a horse and left. Just me and my cousin sat listening as my aunt continued “So this other night I couldn’t fall asleep just remembering the voice of the man, how distant but close it sounded, like it was in my head, so I just decided I’d wake everyone up if the man showed up again.” I laughed thinking it was like her crush showing up at night, in that moment Jorge walked by my grandmas bedroom window “I hope you coming to bed soon,” he told my cousin, “sure dad,” my cousin said he’d be there in a minute. My eyes darted around the room realizing that that was a weird coincidence that he was at the window. I Stopped laughing at the thought of the man being my aunts boyfriend and I clenched my jaw. My aunt continued “it was getting late and I couldn’t fall asleep and I tried so tired but I just couldn’t and couldn’t then I heard out of no where some noise and I wanted it to be a rat or animal so badly, or even the man but my heart was pounding so loud and I couldn’t move for those seconds because I know I heard the sound of a hand crawling on the floor, one single hand it sounded so clearly like sticky heavy finger hitting a tile floor, and I was just thinking no what hell is going on who’s there it’s not possible it’s an animal, and I held my breath so I could hear it clearer then I felt it The weight of big hand at the foot of my bed, i stopped breathing I stared feeling my heart pound so loud as my fear grew I had to calm down, this was real life and I wasn’t waking up and everything felt so real I couldn’t believe It I thought maybe it’s just a blanket maybe it’s my sister maybe this and that and I couldn’t move out of fear so I decided to focus on moving then I felt that thing grab my left ankle, I know it doesn’t sound real but it is” I realized my aunt spoke with such honesty and fear for her life that only a young women can confidently speak in. I asked her again if it was just a blanket her sister playing a prank I asked her if she’d seen it again, and that’s when my cousin said he had to go to bed Saying he already knows the rest, giving me and my aunt a big hug and a kiss. When my cousin left I felt a sense of disappointment from him to me in my disbelief but I didn’t say anything. I apologized to my aunt for keeping her up so late, she smiled telling me she loved me and that it was okay. I asked her if she saw it again?! She smiled but sighed “ I saw it again and once more when we moved to this place I’ve seen it a couple times. I became worried for my aunts sanity at this point I could see it slipping away as I realized she had really had these horrible encounters. I became worried for my self and my own sanity and that hand was I going to see that hand? I kept on asking my self, I was visibly scared my aunt holding me as we went to get a snack and finally bed. She just gave me the details after ward like how the village had fields of fruits and vegetables, how they had so much faith in God that it was probably the reason they where seeing things. She told me that having faith would become very important for my own life. She told me I was strong and to never be afraid, and I fell asleep eventually a little uneasy listening for any hands crawling on the floor. Months past and I couldn’t get to sleep most nights thinking about that hand “can I ask you something mom?” Im lying down in my bedroom that I share with my brother, She’s sitting on the edge of my bed “of course sweety you can tell me anything you know” it’s to dark to see her face but I know it’s a little twisted by the sound of her voice. I can imagine it with her perfectly wavy hair falling at the sides. I lied back in my bed looking at my brother curled up facing the other wall probably already drifting into sleep how easily he’d always fall asleep. My mom moved forward a bit worrying I wouldn’t say anything, I frowned “mom, I can’t stop thinking about that stupid hand” the dark black silhouette of my mom stood still just for a second, “You still remember that?” I looked away remembering the dark black man my aunt saw, waiting for her, to continue to judge me for believing in the stupid hand or to tell me she was a devil, ”yeah mom the hand I think Ive been hearing it, I mean I always think it could be the air conditioner, but it just sounds different.” My mom looked at me “it’s the air conditioner, don’t believe in that do you understand me,” her perfect demeanor braking “ I mean it sweety you have to have faith nothing good comes from believing in that stuff.” “Mom is It my turn?” my brother spoke up waiting for her to tuck him in. She got up to go with my brother, and left with a “God bless you sweety.” There’s something wrong with the house that day I don’t know what it is but I know for a fact well people aren’t suppose to be around it there’s something unnatural about it. I know the hand grabbed me tonight I felt it, I heard it and it happened pretty fast. I don’t want to believe it, I don’t want to tell anyone about it because ghost aren’t real, but I guess there are other forces of nature that humankind just ain’t meant to find. I spent every night after that having nightmares or dreaming in black for the next 8 years. Every now and then I would remember the terror I felt that night and the weird coincidences that happened and it didn’t matter where I was If I just thought about it I’d feel it again just briefly the feeling of being on a movie set, or a hole, like the sounds around me where being fed into my ears thru a funnel. I sat in my Highschool restroom a little high from the joint I had smoked earlier just pushing my thoughts to side blaming the good shit my friend had sold me. It was the first day of my American History class, and I couldn’t stop thinking about the hand, seriously! History was my worst subject so I had to pay attention, I had to stay focused, stay focused, stay focused. I walked into the room and everything stopped for a second, in the middle of the room I saw the most handsome guy. His smile, and his slightly tanned skin, his hair was thick and black, but above all it was the feeling I got around him. It was that same feeling of terror, the same feeling I hated, but except this time I loved it. I wanted it, I needed it. I sat down right next to him feeling more brave than I ever had before, the guys around us laughed. “Hey! Jorge we’re getting it after school.” I knew they where talking about weed, so I quickly interrupted and asked him if he’d like to go with me after school, he sighed sarcastically, I got nervous, yeah please please. I invited the guy at front of me, acting cool. He agreed to go out with me, we spent the whole year together and my dreams changed they where nice, I never had a nightmare and going to church was fun for once I felt like I might really have faith things where going right, we weren’t dating I couldn’t risk loosing him from teenage jealousy. I was still going to my grandmas house every weekend and things there where also kinda looking up. Well actually I wanted to stop going to that house all together after finding Jorge, but my mom would get so angry at me I’d imagined. She’d get furious if I told her I didn’t want to see my grandmother her perfect persona shattering her face twisting again. I was so happy with Jorge, but I was still silently traumatized. Me and Jorge went our separate ways for college, I loved him, but we both knew that something was haunting me. Something was haunting me and I’d learned to love it. “I just willingly left the love of my life!“ I’d ye’ll angrily drunk in college! “Fuck his wife!” I’d stay up every other night furious, clenching teeth trying to figure out what happened why did it happen... I try to work out and eat healthy but I’d always breakdown I’d loose my mind and have to regain it just to continue going to school. I’m really starting to loose it now. I can’t even enjoy weed without Jorge I just get anxious and all I can think about it that stupid hand this scenario played out again and again night after night. My back feels like it’s being crushed lately. I’ve never been more fit in my life yet every night I feel a huge weight on me from this unseen presence. My uncle Jorge passed away And I couldn’t bare going to his funeral. Jorge, it’s such a common name I‘d laugh out loud in class without regarding my profesor or colleagues. Maybe the black silhouettes are just really high beings that’s why their eyes are red. Lmao. I think I’m going to die soon. My cousin sent me a message I haven’t spoken to him in a while, it says “Did anyone ever tell you that aunt Patty used to date a guy that liked to smoke weed, but granny wouldn’t let her be with him, and that that’s why she’s stayed single all these years.” Huh, this life feels so weird, Seriously, I’d welcome death If I wasn’t so afraid of this horrible hand. It’s become an urban legend in these areas now I don’t expect anyone to take me seriously with all the memes and fake sighting. I can really use some help though I can’t remember what I need to do maybe some prayers maybe if I burn the house down. Good thing there’s a lot of beautiful distractions these days and I absolutely love the career I chose, maybe I can find a guy despite dating anyone besides Jorge feeling wrong I know I can use the help getting out of bed and things. I hope I can enjoy it for a while before my mind completely escapes me sometimes I think I’m back at my grandmas house, my apartments and neighbors are just starting to look so similar.
Thank You, for listening
submitted by ygeorge3 to mrcreeps [link] [comments]


2020.09.07 01:01 TheEyesOhGodTheEyes Realm of the Cursed

I made this story a few months ago, and I’m currently working on a follow up, so here it is, in case I ever finish the sequel
My name is Vivian Tobias. I’m pretty sure I’m 17 right now, but I’m not even sure anymore. I’ve been trying to get this out for almost as long as we’ve been here. My close friend Mia and I have been stuck in this… place for at least a couple years by now, I don’t know, there might as well be no time here at all. Just… let me explain.
We’d been friends since we were seven. I was heavily interested in the paranormal. Mia never believed any of it, but she’d always join me in my folly attempts at ghost-hunting. Of course, she’d make the occasional snarky comment but she was by my side through everything. We were there for one another, and now, we’re all we have for each other.
Now for how we got here. As I mentioned earlier, I’ve always had an investment in the paranormal, and I never gave up on searching for proof of its existence. I have it now, but I can’t bring it to anyone. As I grew, I got more and more desperate to find evidence of supernatural things, moving from chanting in the middle of the night to things like seances, sacrificing objects important to me. I noticed Mia was growing more uncomfortable with my dedication to this hobby, but she stood by me, even if reluctantly.
These activities grew in intensity until one day in ninth grade. On that day, I’d been looking into rumors and urban legends about the bridge on the street downtown. I can’t remember the name for the life of me, but it was the talk of the school. The rumors said if you brought a candle and something that means a lot to you to the tiny island under the bridge and say a certain phrase, something would take you. I know it’s just playful childish ghost stories, but nobody at school had the balls to do it and at this point, I was so desperate, I was willing to possibly give up my life just to be sure that there’s something out there. Mia didn’t believe a bit of it, but she’d always been supportive of me and she wasn’t about to change that.
We had bought a little raft to float us to the island the day before. That day, School had just ended. I lived in a small town, so the school only had a couple hundred students. Everybody walked home and Mia and I were no different. We took the same route every day. After a few turns, Mia and I split up, she took her own path home and I took mine. Today, however, we both went to my house. Momma didn’t mind having Mia over, so she had no issue letting her hang out a bit. In my room, we searched through my stuff to find something that meant a lot to us.
After about 15 minutes of searching, we decided on a shitty crayon drawing I made of the two of us holding hands. It was an awful drawing, but we were eight when I made it so it meant the world to us and our friendship. Mia picked up the drawing. “Are you sure you’re ready to get rid of this?” I nodded. Mia let out a heavy sigh. “If you say so,” she muttered. While Momma didn’t mind Mia being over, she wouldn’t stand for me leaving without an adult to keep us company. Our minds struggled on what to do, but we ended up telling her that Mr. Lawless, Mia’s dad, would be accompanying us. It took her a second, but eventually she agreed to let us go out.
Mia and I had been dating since eighth grade. Our families always supported us and I’m super grateful to have had them. I gave Momma a hug and we left the house, inflatable raft, candle and crayon drawing in my bag. We followed the map on Mia's phone to the bridge. We stopped by a fast-food restaurant on the way to discuss what might happen if the legends are true. This was part of routine whenever we'd gone out to search for supernatural phenomena.
The conversation went kind of like this.
We'd placed our orders and Mia looked right at me. "Are you sure this is gonna work? This is what, your 50th attempt at finding something?" Looking out the window, I murmured back, "I know something's out there. If I stop now, all I've done in life will have never been worth it." The waiter passed us our drinks. Mia gave him a passing "thank you" before she continued. "I know you're not the type to back down, but..." Mia sucked in her teeth. "I think it might be time to take a hint." I laughed out of my nose. "Look, if this doesn't work, I'll stop this whole ghost-hunting thing, like, if it's what you want." Mia put both her hands on mine. "Listen, I don't want you to stop this, it's your passion, and I respect that, but maybe you could... I don't know, this whole thing, it's Bloody Mary all over again. Everyone was all about it in fourth grade, but it's just another urban legend."
I chuckled again. "Look, we'll try this one, and if it doesn't work, we'll just, uh... try something else." Mia shrugged. "Alright," she said. We didn't say another word until we left the restaurant. We made some passing comments about the food as we moved closer to the bridge. "Alright," Mia spoke. "We're here." She pocketed her phone and looked down the valley and into the lake below. Eventually, we could make out the shape of the island. There's one thing I forgot to mention about the legend. The ritual had to be carried out in the middle of the night. Mia and I both had location permissions turned off on our phones, so our parents couldn't come to pick us up if they got worried. Stupid idea, I know, but we were still teenagers. I mean, we still are, but we were dumb teenagers. We hung out for a while near the bridge, talking, scrolling through social media, things like that. I made sure to bring portable chargers in my bag because I knew we were gonna be here a while. Once our clocks read 11:30, we sprung into action. In preparation, we blew up the raft and started taking things off us that we wouldn't want to lose in the case of us falling into the water. Mia put her phone under my bag by the shore, but I kept mine because I was pretty confident in our raft.
Once midnight struck, we paddled our way to the island. Eventually, we didn't have to paddle, as the raft had just enough momentum going to carry us all the way. Mia got out the drawing and sighed. "Guess we're really doing this, huh?" I rested my elbows on the sides of the raft. "I guess so." We were silent until we reached the island. I stepped out and Mia followed me. I took a lighter out of my pocket and lit the candle, holding it above us. Mia took out the drawing, holding it by the candle, almost burning it early. I exhaled. "Count of three?" I asked Mia. She nodded. I counted down and we both spoke. It was a fairly childish chant, something you'd more expect from fifth-graders rather than 15-year-olds. We began speaking in jumbled unison. "Realm of the Cursed, give us refuge. In your walls, we shall be safe. Cursed One, give us the solace we beg of you." We moved the drawing and the candle together, and the paper began to burn. As the paper crumpled into ash, I blew out the candle and we both waited in anticipation. The sound of cars passing overhead sent spine-chilling rumbles all around us.
"So that's it, then," Mia said after a few eternities of waiting. "It's gone." I looked around us. "Something's gotta happen now, right?" I thought aloud. We looked into each other's eyes once more... and I blacked out.
The sound of rushing waves began to fill my ears. I felt my chest being repeatedly pushed down. Suddenly, water rushed out of my throat, sending me upright, coughing violently. My eyes stayed shut as I wiped at my mouth. A hand touched my face before I felt two arms wrap around me. “Oh, thank God,” I heard Mia’s voice say. “I thought I’d lost you.” I managed to get my eyes open. I returned Mia’s embrace, and I heard- rather felt her start to sob. As we held each other, I got a look around. It was daytime, under the same bridge we’d originally gone under to do this whole thing.
Something was different, though. The atmosphere seemed more… yellowed. Everything else was exactly the same, but this place had a totally different energy. I patted Mia’s shoulder twice, and we stood. Mia exhaled a sigh of relief. “We should probably head home.” I nodded, anticipating the hour-long lecture Momma would give me. We trudged up the valley, and we saw that both my bag and Mia’s phone weren’t by the bush we’d left them next to. Makes sense. This wasn’t a very bad neighborhood but I should have known there’d be a couple bad apples looking for an easy heist.
Mia didn’t take the loss of her phone too lightly. After a couple of punches on the ground, she rose back to her feet. I assured her that we would find it eventually.
We began up the valley. It was steep as hell, and I had to take a few billion breaks to catch my breath. When we finally reached the top, I got a better look around. The roads were completely empty. Not a car in sight. This was to be expected of our town, but at the time, it was extremely strange to me.
When we reached the more populated parts of the neighborhood, it got even more strange. Everything looked the same, but everybody was gone. Not a person on the streets. Mia nabbed me by the wrist and ran over to her house. We continued to see nobody on the way there. Just the empty streets painted over in a sepia tone. More than all of the other houses, Mia’s house looked battered and wrecked, like a tornado had blown through. Mia attempted to open the door. It swung open. It was unlocked. Nobody in Mia’s house ever left the door unlocked.
The house was just as it was when Mia left, however, there was no evidence of Mia ever living there. Everything else was intact, family photos, things like that, but there was no indication that Mia had ever set foot in this house. I could tell from her face. I felt the same way. It was so bizarre, having not a trace of your presence preserved. “Okay,” I admitted. “This has gone on too long. We need to get back home.”
Mia agreed. She opened the door… and immediately snapped it shut, putting her back against the door, facing me. Her eyes were opened wide and she was breathing incredibly quickly for someone of her calm nature. Mia always was a fighter. There was just about nothing that scared her, so seeing her like this, it meant something.
“What? What is it?” Mia only looked at me for a few seconds before closing her eyes and shaking her head. “Nope.” Mia put her head in her hands, sliding down to the floor. “This isn’t real. It’s not real. Any second, I’m gonna wake up- this isn’t real.” Anger started to grow in her voice. She slammed her fist against the carpeted floor. “THIS ISN’T REAL!!”
I felt a disturbance in the atmosphere around us. A ripple of sorts. A tingle rushed through my bones as a dark premonition hit me. I grabbed Mia’s shoulders. “We need to hide. NOW.” We rushedly scanned the room for somewhere to stay. After a couple of seconds, we chose the wardrobe. Clever, right? Shut up, we were fifteen.
As we sat in the closet, cowering for our lives, I heard the front door begin to turn. I looked at Mia. She was always unreasonably calm in situations of danger, but here you could see the panic in her posture. Her knees were up to her chest and her eyes were squeezed shut, almost appearing to be in anticipation. As we heard the front door pry open, I watched Mia force herself to relax her breath. I tried doing the same, but every inch of me was shaking. The closet door had little slits in it, allowing me to get a decent look into the living room. I really wish I’d never peeked out there, but I couldn’t stop myself.
It appeared to be silhouetted against the light that the windows let in, but I could make out a few features. It was huge. It almost had to kneel to avoid scraping its head on the ceiling. One arm appeared to be ripped off, ending in a brutal stump, with chunks taken out and what looked like a few veins, dried out and stuck in a zigzagged position. The other arm had a lot of flesh missing near the shoulder. You could see the bones and what was behind them. The arm continued into an abnormally large forearm and hand. The forearm widened into a bulbous, near egg-like shape, followed by three razor-sharp claws.
The thing lifted the couch effortlessly. I leaned in, most likely white as a ghost. What got me the most was… its face. A huge chunk of its face appeared to have been ripped off, revealing a jagged jawbone and more veins, sticking out haphazardly. I couldn’t stand the sight of it anymore. I moved back against the closet wall, quiet as a mouse.
We cowered in there for what seemed like a year when I began hearing the shuffling grow louder. Closer. The thing’s presence manifested in a low buzz, almost like that of an oscillator, humming perpetually. I froze, slowly turning my head towards Mia, who appeared to be in a meditative state. Her neutral expression began to transition into rage. Mia calmly stood, facing the wardrobe door.
“What are you doing, what are you doing, what are you doing,” my mind repeated as Mia grabbed a small knife out of one of her pockets. I watched the shadow of the thing’s hand move over the slits of light shining on her face. Mia widened her stance, readying herself.
The closet door ripped open. Mia wasted no time. The second the door opened, she darted forward, plunging the knife into the thing’s stomach. The thing backed up and made a sound that will never leave my mind. It sounded the scream of a small child; shrill, weak, furious. Mia held her hand out to me as the creature shrieked in agony, clutching its wound.
Not wanting to risk what could happen if I didn’t move, I took Mia’s hand and we bolted out of that damn house. As we left the door, I heard the creature’s anguished screams.
We ducked behind a Volvo in front of a neighboring house, stealthily watching as the creature clutched its stomach, growling in pain. “We need to get the hell out of here,” I muttered under my breath. Mia patted my shoulder with the back of her hand. “The school.” I was dumbstruck for a good second before she continued. “They talked all about the ritual. Maybe one of them talked about how to get out. Wrote it in a notebook somewhere.” The idea clicked in my mind like a puzzle piece. I nodded. “Right.”
Everyone always left their notebooks and folders at school, only using their bags to carry more personal belongings and books. They always left their bags in the lockers assigned to them, so if we managed to look through enough notebooks, we’d be able to find the way out of here, at least, I can only hope there’s a way out.
Our path to the school wasn’t a difficult one, it was getting there that threw a wrench in our plans. We had to stay out of that damn thing’s line of sight or God knows what’d happen. We could hardly walk 50 feet without the thing patrolling by. Thankfully, the yards usually had several things to hide behind, like slides, trash cans, cars, et cetera.
There was one street, however. One street I never want to walk down again. Ulysses Avenue. Long before I was born, something happened on this street that caused the entire town to abandon it, leaving houses decayed to the point of just being piles of rotten logs, yards devoid of anything short of grass and the occasional dandelion. The kids at school used to call it Cursed’s Pass, and did it look the part. The atmosphere appeared to dim near it, scraps of burnt paper drifting through the air like embers in the wind.
I considered going around, but Mia insisted. “We gotta get there as soon as possible if we want a better chance at making it out of here alive.” So, begrudgingly, I followed her. Mia seemed too calm, her only sign of reaction being loosely crossing her arms.
I was trembling. It was blisteringly cold in this specific street, and every step I took made me feel worse and worse. Don’t get me wrong, I was petrified, but as we got closer to the center of the street, I felt more and more helpless, like my death was inevitable and approaching quickly. I felt hopeless.
It was when we were about 75% through that I began to feel eyes on me. I could feel the thing looking at me, and after a few seconds of internally debating with myself, I finally mustered the strength to look at it.
“Vivian?”
In front of me stood a timid boy, his blond hair clashing against the silhouette Cursed’s Pass had become. His clothes looked mangled, covered in rips and tears. It took me a second to process the fact that he knew my name, so I just stood there. He looked slightly to the left. “Mia?” It took a moment of thinking for me to figure it out, but once I connected the dots, it was uncanny.
Dominic was a kid in my school who went missing within the first week. The few times I talked to him, he seemed really kind and quiet, but always up for trying something new. The three of us took a moment to chat. With each other to lighten the mood a little, we left Cursed’s Pass and continued on the path to school.
We did have to duck out of the way a lot, but other than that, the walk wasn’t so terrible. However, the whole time, I couldn’t shake the feeling of eyes on me.
After what felt like just fifteen minutes, we came up to the school. It seemed more run down, almost like it stood more a test of time than the rest of the town. The tan-painted bricks were riddled with cracks, some bricks missing altogether. The windows were mostly shattered, and the large steel doors were dented, almost like someone took a sledgehammer to the building.
I was admiring the peculiarity of it all when Mia bumped me with her shoulder. “Come on, we’re not getting out of here without finding the way.” Mia took two small knives from her pockets before handing one to each of us. We both obliged, sheathing them in our pockets. I brushed at my hair with my hand, nodding at Dominic. Dominic let out a nervous breath, entering the building.
As we entered the school, my mood completely changed. The school felt calmer. The LED lights echoing across the marble floor, I could feel a sense of true safety, something I could only ever feel when at school.
Let me reiterate. My dad was an abusive alcoholic piece of shit, and I had to deal with him from the moment I was born to when I was 11, when he died in a car accident. My family has been ashamed to share a last name with him ever since. Not even Dad’s side of the family defended him.
Even after he died, I never felt safe in my own home. The only time I ever really felt I could be safe was at school, where I didn’t have to worry about him.
Mia tried to open up a locker, but it didn’t budge. Mia sighed, turning towards us. “We’ll need to get the locker combos from the office.” I nodded. I’d been taking the safety of the school for granted. I was so calmed by the atmosphere that I almost didn’t notice a light go out at the end of the hall we entered the building through. And then another.
I watched in terror as each light that went out debilitated my sense of safety. Mia began to shake. Something about the way she stood there, her stance widened and her eyes shaking with her body. Again, there was nothing that scared Mia, but here she was, petrified. I couldn’t think. I don’t think any of us could. Dominic shook his head, breaking out of his trance. In an urging tone, Dominic shouted, “we’ve got to find a place to hide!”
Snapping out of our trances as well, we sprinted through the building. Mia and I had been inside the school for far longer than Dominic had, so we knew a better way around. I could hardly talk from my breath being torn to pieces from running. “Where the hell do we go!?”
Mia looked up, a thoughtful expression lying on her face. “The library!” “What?” Mia slowed her pace, and we did the same. “I found a hatch under the rug a few weeks ago. If we can find a way in there, I think it might have some kind of tunnel. Maybe some supplies. I’m not sure though.”
We followed her word, making our way through the corridors to the library, just before we heard the entrance to the school slam open. I saw the distress in Dominic’s eyes as he began to plead. “Come on, come on, come on! This fucker doesn’t wait around!”
Not wasting a beat, Mia tried at the doorknob. It didn’t move. Not a millimeter, almost like it was glued on to the door, like it was carved from stone. “W-what the hell?” The terror in Mia’s voice cut through me like a dagger. I felt it too. Why would the library be closed off? Would it have been our only hope of escape?
Dominic began to look around in a panic, cursing under his breath. Mia snapped her head towards us. “There’s no time. We have to get those combinations or we’re never getting out of here.”
As we neared the office, the floors of the building began to crumble, turning into the texture of gravel. The walls began to desaturate, transitioning into a darkened gray. The two of us came upon the office. The two of us… “Shit! Dominic!” Mia exclaimed in frustration. “You get him, I’ll get the combinations.” I nodded, hesitating for half a second before dashing back down the hall.
Screams began to fill the hallway. I unsheathed my pocket knife, letting it trail behind me as I sped up. I turned a corner, and Dominic was on the floor. There was blood coming from his hands, the knife sitting about a meter away, stained crudely. I looked up, and the thing was there, advancing on Dominic like a typical horror movie villain; slowly, coldly, imposing, fucking insidious.
Adrenaline rushed through me as I picked up my speed. It was no use, though. It was like the hallway was extending as I ran. Do you ever get one of those dreams where you try to run, but you can barely move? Or you’re running towards something, but it always appears the same distance away? That’s what was happening, and I could only watch in horror as the thing grabbed Dominic by the head, lifting him six feet off the ground.
Tears began to stream behind me, shooting back at nearly the speed of light. The ground was moving with me, the walls and ceiling blurring from speed. It was clear I was moving, I just wasn’t getting any closer. I watched Dominic scratch at the thing’s horrifically disfigured hand. My ears picked up the sickening sound of bones violently crunching; muffled, gargling screams, my own screams, the sound of gravel crunching under my feet, the low hum of the creature’s presence; I heard it all. I couldn’t take any more of it.
Squeezing my eyes tight shut, I hurled my knife at the thing, drifting to a full 180 and sprinting back to Mia to tell her to get the fuck out of this place. I heard the knife cut into something, along with the creature’s pained shrieks. I looked back to see the thing clutching its forehead. I was always a good throw. My short burst of self-confidence faded when I almost focused on the mangled, blood-spattered mess that used to be Dominic which lied in my peripheral vision.
My mind kicked back into gear, and my speed picked up, only this time I was actually getting somewhere. I returned to the office, and Mia was waiting for me, donning a khaki knapsack. “Where’s Dominic?!” Without a word, I grabbed Mia’s wrist, bashing through the window at full force, nearly destroying my damn shoulder in the process.
Glass shards rained upon us as we sprinted for my house. I knew Mia could tell from the tears raining down my face. I’d let Dominic die, and all I did was watch until it was too late. She saw me clutching my shoulder in agony and stopped me, wrapping an arm around me. I did the same and we continued.
One house we passed, Dominic’s house, seemed to be engulfed in an inky black, only cutting the reminder deeper into my soul. A few houses later, we happened upon my own house, just as destroyed as Mia’s.
There we stayed for several weeks as I attempted to recover from my injuries. Surprisingly, the pantries were all lined with food that wouldn’t expire for a long time. I realized we could ransack some houses for some seeds to plant. And that’s just what we did. We developed makeshift methods of defending ourselves from that fucker that killed Dominic.
And that’s what we’ve been doing for the past couple years. We gave Dominic the closest thing we could manage to a proper memorial. Every couple of days, we’d risk our lives going back to the school to bring back some notebooks to flip through. We knew the mastermind behind this legend was one of our peers, so if we find that person’s notebook, we might be able to escape.
In our time here, I managed to find a poor internet signal. Godawful, but it’s there. I can’t figure out how for the life of me, but my phone managed to survive this whole shitshow. They don’t lie when they say these things are waterproof.
So, if you’re out there, please know that we’re okay. We might not make it out of here alive, but we’ve got each other. I hope to God that one day we can kill that damn thing, but nothing’s worked. However, all it needs is a good poke and it’ll back off. The house is reinforced and the harvest is bountiful, so it’s safe to say we’ve got a lot of time to find a way out of here.
We’re okay. Please, for the love of God, don’t try to come get us. You’ll be trapped here, and it’s just gonna fuck more people over if it turns out there’s no way out of this place.
Momma, if you’re reading this, I love you. I hope you’re doing alright. Same for Mia’s family. And Dominic’s family, I’m so sorry. I’m sorry I had to relive Dom’s death in such… painstaking detail. It’s probably gonna be hard to get people to believe this, but, if you can, try to get a proper funeral set up for Dominic. We did what we could, but he deserves a proper goodbye.
Again, I can’t stress this enough.
We are okay.
I’m gonna head to the place where there’s internet so I can post this. Funny enough, it’s on the bridge above where we arrived. I love you, Mom. Mia says hi.
submitted by TheEyesOhGodTheEyes to DrCreepensVault [link] [comments]


2020.09.05 19:06 SlothropWho I trained a GPT-2 model on Pynchon novels and short stories

I finetuned the 355M model on a dataset consisting of V., The Crying of Lot 49, Gravity's Rainbow, Slow Learner, Vineland, Mason & Dixon, Against the Day, Inherent Vice, and Bleeding Edge for 8,000 steps with a learning rate of 1e-4 using gpt-2-simple, here's a few of samples it generated:

The head is a kind of sinister bug, with hair of barbed cobbles. It is one of the female virgins, smiling at you from an angle. Black boots and gold stockings flutter in the kimono. A shaved head, hair pulled closely in front of his ears, the kind of hair you get when you're drinking beer, jizzing over his underskirts. It is all glorious gold. The parrot folds his arms nicely, reaches to stroke the wings. The room is heavy with old things, tools and fittings, cleaning kits, signs of commerce that have no place in this life: the chicken pots of coffee and drops of Ether, the two bare ladies who sat like prostitutes on the stone coffee urns in the basement of the Cathedral last week; the rotten eggs of stalactites and sea-lagoons and sea-lagoons for lagoons only; the gilded teeth of drowned men; the bright enervated water and blue flesh of bird and fish; the wings of little children who died in their cradle and lay sprawled under their mother's arms; and the old ram bladders and the cracked cartilage that tied them to the floors and lay oozing their secret fluids all around the walls of the common pools.
And the face, born of fire! Fled down into blubbering pustules, splitting esophagus and stung lungs, it is as if the man had flown up into the sun, taken up all his elemental strength, and launched himself into the deep black, into the bright chemical rain, the raw brittle demise wrapped in crystal-smeared plastic from somewhere along the lines of these built-up peoples, men and women because there was no place for them in the now-quite-corrupt world they had grown old in. Or would he? He'd looked very old. According to the Voice, the face, as it had come to be called, was at least 60 years of age. The Voice of the General Electric, 18 Standard Gray, bearing the oldest possible date of conception, Charles Stuart (that is, born December 7, 1899) was only 30.
There was more. The voice of Charles Stuart had been alive when the old man died and the first letter U.S.S. Dean entered had been from St. Petersburg, not far away in any way recorded by the Public Archives.


The wisdom, out in the silence and without words, has persisted—after All is Illuminated, though its source should have been nowhere in sight.
Peggy may be on the way back to New York now. And says what he's back to. Or he may be seeing a friend in New York and there will be nothing.
If it is seeing Dominique now, could she be Happy Mother?
That we have found the Yih Pu, the source of his "light," there is no way now to know. He may be seeing a girl, two, or three, maybe even more. He would not be calling her a comely daytime beauty, she may be under the wrong impression that he is one of these high-class girl-superstars who are no stranger to the public eye, perhaps he even goes out to rendezvous near the Walden Pond, I have known the real us to rendezvous, she has seen us both on the street . . . come from different places, different nations. He may be seeing her for the first time--or maybe two. . . .
It wouldn't shock me if one of these really was her friend, the one they really are, the great Angel of Delicatessen. . . .
He can't tell from all the bureaucracy the trips up. He's always correcting his own mistakes, grading her on them, finding old pornographic images in her shopper's purse, a sudden dearth of one urban legend or another, no stuffing her lunch with a pork pie in it, no fluorescent lighting, no duct tape . . . "Ah, but that's the thought . . . oh, for Pete's sake, the thought that no, women are too out of the newsprint tonight, even the strange and hitherto under-reported stories that must make up the balance of her day. . . ." He is weary and unwilling to even consider the possibility that she might not come from somewhere else, besides the daily death-transmissions affecting the Western World at large. . . .
Maybe what he means is: she must be from Vienna or someplace. Their knowledge of one another is so filtered, so safe. But it's still possible, now, that different people think she's from different places. . . .
Can she be one of them? Some million snidele ducks in a bucket-full of privacy? How dismal is that? Too dismal.


The you-know-what?
The encrypted code.
Anyway, we're on crunch time, the code is the story, most of it was given to me by Neiwert. But, from what Neiwert had seen that day, he couldn't have provided the entire story.
It seemed that this extraordinary woman, who passed through corridors and elevators, whose body was a labyrinth of copper-colored doors, no floor or ceiling above, no wall or wall without a consecrated angle to anchor it, was the proprietor of a small store in the Yangon Business District. Now whenever Dally saw her husband she would always be taken for a curious and possibly dangerous woman. Maybe under that pseudonym, maybe a tourist from another planet. Their liaison had been more or less always romantic. But it was all about money, and the price of gold, and who knew what else.
The day Dally and Amanda met, it was in the dead of night. They were sharing a bathtub in the octagonal room of the C.E. No signs of a business deal going on. The water was still pure enough that when the rich children of the high place were asked to name the scariest place they had seen in Europe, St. Peter's would stand out as the one they remembered. Amanda was, in fact, adapting the bathtub to her own needs. When Dally asked where her husband was she was told he was away somewhere recovering from the wars in Vietnam. But when she showed up she was surprised to find him gone full slick with nicotine from some imported Chinese device. He gave her a list of things to be afraid of. Tried to visualize it many times. He even went as far as naming, and hiding, among the things that people had seen at St. Peter's. A little unnaturally? Of course she was frightened but had no way to say, no not out loud.
When he left, she ran away to find her family. It was next day, nightfall, they were awakened in the middle of the night by small, blood-curdling gassen.
It was the same old story again. Runaways out like wild dogs. Dally went out, back in the Louisana, east of the Trieste and into the wide enemy-brickwork of the city.
It would have been better if it hadn't been so long ago. Her father had died over in


The deep wooden shadows of this room betray the passing of dim music: music of the margins, of the makeshift. Porcepic's rule tonight is a silly-girl facet: every girl, Mondays-to-be Female of XX is visualized wistfully as a starlet in Fauve, leaning jitterbugged along in the circular fondamenta, the light of Genuine Italian Poppy-Stalk neatly pinned to the tapestry by artistes, and engrossing the hapless youth's attention.
Ha! Incest! What's this! He didn't think this far ahead. Isn't this piano, like the others? not hand-penned or, in fact, assembled? Calibrated to a day's run--- fine: he can sit here to-gether among workshop synths, faded Allen-turn-me-on tunes, dadaist techniques, glassy and serene. . . . But where does his passion come from? Even the bass line in here, after listening for a while to Hoagy Carmichael, the basses, what a discover-ing, heart-of-the-pine affair! There is a thunderous bass line, a "whisper." What is this, a "Dancing-Queen" song? No one could ever have guessed. Even if the one person who can tell does happen to be an actress, in this business one tends to end up looking for coincidences. But this deep bass line, this "whisper" has sparked an immediate investigation as to its orchestration. Fascinated, the thought occurred to Porcepic himself, with a comedy routine he was just going to improvise upon. The thought struck him as poignant, and he furrowed his eyebrows. But what on earth could be so clear?
Now Porcepic was in the habit of reading purgatory vignettes from other works, imagining there was something therein, something that would help him, like a dossier. As experiments go, his was unorthodox: he wouldn't win. The se-cret organs of memories--though often not so much behind closed doors or with the spineless mumblings of absorbed objects, he practiced interior monologue. Neither of the above, and yet. . .
Have you--really played him before? Her secret anger? Aha. The secret man. An alias, you know, Porcepic?


The establishments feel much the same way?”
“Some businesses.”
“Work?”
“The ones you really have to work for.”
“Hmmm what do they make you do?”
“Nothing. What do you mean?”
“You were talking about a union.”
“It’s not a union, I’m smart like that.”
“Ohhhhh, really? Did you see any of that talk I was making with Lobelia about women and women being dumb, almost as if--”
“One thing I do,” Maxine, “is I go in that room with myself, and I don’t stay there long.”
“What happened to you, anyway?”
“I, like, shouldn’t, I’m not smart like that, I should be more like dumb?”
It’s another forty-minute checkout. “You don’t mind if I just come in the bathroom and look around?”
“I don’t mind, Charles. It’s the snowing on my tits.”
They buy vegetables, seasonal avocados, wrapped in plastic, out of Whole Foods. There’s a bag of Cheetos and a half a can of vegetable oil. “Yum,” mumbling, or maybe es-tually, “f'r pure ah joy.”
Maxine starts to find the whole thing creepy. “There’s a code here,” she wonders. “Do you guys have to sign any?”
“Keepo,” sez Horst, “we’re all Dr. Jennifer, how can we be in any more than one business?”
“I’m a kid. I’m in the book, Mom.”
Lobelia comes running in. “Aawwww,” yelling at the kid.
The bag of corn on each visit to the above-ground supermarket, it turns out, has a pork-and-apple mixture inside, not excluded here by some wised-up field-sixty-degree sprinkling of gravy.


The Theorem of Opticks," as the Revd Gibbons informs us, "proceeds not only from a corrupting naivete, but from a corrupting principle itself, which admits nothing but the indefinite."
"And," the Professor continues, "our own genius is built on the back of those people, who were gifted at math only once, and who are now beyond any hope of redemption. Simple arithmetic is of course embraced by the schemers and planners of our day, but it cannot claim the glory. The real genius has to come from somewhere else - a particular architecture, a particular technique, a particular theorem. No matter what language or method we use, we are liable to the same unwholesome illusions about one another, so that we are never too sure of anything. The genius arrives in town, and goes rampant across the city. Our common enemy, that is."
He smiles as if David had never said a word. Webb is astonished at how well he knows. "You can't see what he's going to do, he's as dedicated to the murder of his own people and its construction as anyone here. Everyone's reaction is the same. The leaders rush in, short-term and long-term, to talk about the possibility of a Final Solution. The poets try to write their own solutions, and the musicians their own music. The idea is to expand a long poem to the point where the whole thing collapses at last into one big, silent burst of noise, emotion, loss. But if you listen carefully enough you can hear the orchestra wrapping itself around the entire speech, actually strumming it to the beat of some melody. Every word. All of it. Those same words and phrases. What we call 'organ music.' They're being played by the people who've invented the instruments to play them. I want to believe, but I want to believe in my own power, in the real omnipresence of an ancient God, who can make all the mistakes that I can make."
Still, Webb could not believe, he couldn't see, that play, that organ music. "How can you believe in God and not in the instruments? How can you believe in what you're supposed to be playing and not believe in what your God says you're supposed to be going in to do?"


The foe is most certain of his prowling for each dog-pudgin of mine. After me it's worse. The jitterbug style of search, his sneakers on the end of his snood. I can't see him. He's so big and black and white ...
"Don't turn around now," told my old commanding hand, "Tancredi has already made off with Hitler's boot-picture. He's sent it to you—look at the inscription on the spoon he sipped from! We have to see what it is before we can let you off."
"It's a picture of Adolf Hitler. A cartoon, a dramatic-novel of a fascist. Each Jew was ordered to draw each one differently, Hitler never as cut out or clever as he tries in the Manuever—"
"Fascists are both. It's not about drawing drawings, Säure. Hitler really sold or fabricated any boot-soles. He sold them to anyone at all. Fascists are makers of bootlaces.
"Remember man, there is no plan, the enemy has no concept of growth, they only go forward what they will find. You, on the other hand, know what plan we do. All we have to do is keep growing, we will be left with nothing."
"Hardly ever say that," said Säure. "What do you mean, grow?"
"Every time we drink or smoke we learn in the same way that eyes and ears can't hear, only see. Only this level of indeeepth. Aryan development is nothing at all to the velocity of history, the mass of the people, the speed of thought. But at the pace of thought we move, die. We move through the multitudes and fields of an enemy who is not so much aware of it as helpless at the very slow point, where we act, as we must, soon as we are aware of it. So we move, or discover we do. It's nothing to the power in the name of spring but a very slow growth curve, a very high boiling point. A different planet for the European soul."
"But he creates all the boot-soles," protested Iwo Jiménez. "Who otherwise? Why should he? Unless somebody is inventing them all...?"
"Maybe you were born under a different order," Säure said.

And my favorite one liner:

The picture is the cover of LIFE, March, the year Vegetable was invented, 1937.
submitted by SlothropWho to ThomasPynchon [link] [comments]


2020.09.04 23:23 globalwp [CONFLICT] Avenging Al-Quds: Operation HOTAMAH

mood
“The UAR shall not stand idly as the Zionist entity slaughters our people, destroys our sacred sites, and tramples upon our honor. The UAR has launched a strike on the Zionist menace to punish them for desacrating the sanctity of the holy city. Jerusalem is to be free and open to people of all faiths. We can no longer tolerate fascism in the region. The last vestige of colonialism in the Middle East shall soon be eradicated. Let it be known that the UAR will fight for what is right, and we will do what we must to liberate Palestine once and for all. Israel will immediately withdraw from the occupied territories, and the lands will be restored to their rightful owners. Be warned, for our use of nuclear weapons was limited, and intended to reduce the blood shed by this war. We do not aim to eradicate the Jewish people, who are innocent bystanders born into fascist rule, but we seek to eradicate the power structures which have led to the oppression and subjugation of an entire nation, culminating in a direct attack and insult on both Arabs and Muslims across the world. Should we not act quickly, St. James’s Cathedral, and the Church of the Holy Sepulchre would be next. Be warned, we will no longer tolerate such behaviour, and while we do not wish to harm civilians, we warn Israel that any nuclear retaliation would be grounds for a ten-fold response. The Falcon has awakened, and now soars with the Phoenix.” - Prime Minister Al-Zaidi, hours after the initial attack
The UAR, already in a state of high alert, and already mobilized due to the previous Iranian war, can afford to quickly mobilize its troops and move forward, providing it with a decisive advantage over its Israeli counterparts. The “military exercise” was but a ruse, and the UAR now seeks to liberate Palestine and establish a one-state binational solution by force, ending the Israeli occupation of lands stolen almost 90 years ago.
The destruction of Al-Aqsa and the planned “temple” has galvanized public opinion to a point where most muslims would consider joining the fight against Israel. It will thus be easy to recruit additional auxiliary units both from Palestine and from the Islamic world as a whole. As plans enacted by Jordan, Egypt, Turkey, and the UAR, come to fruition, one statement is becoming a reality, Jerusalem will be freed!

Opening Phase - Operation Hotamah

Woe to every backbiter, slanderer,
Who amasses wealth and counts it over and over.
He imagines that his wealth will make him immortal.
Nay! he shall surely be cast into the "hotamah".
And what should make thee know what the "hotamah" is?
Allah's fire as preserved fuel,
Which will leap suddenly on to the hearts.
It is locked up in outstretched pillars to be used against them. 1 - Quran 104-2
The Land-Based Missiles
With troops deployed in Jordan, and on the Zionist-UAR border, the UAR is poised to make a surprise first strike on the enemy’s most prized possession. Their nuclear weapons.
Israeli nuclear weapons are located mainly in one site, warehouses near Sdot Micha. While they may be potentially rated against conventional airstrikes, they would be unable to withstand a direct hit from a nuclear weapon, let alone a ground penetrating nuclear bunker buster. Israel’s other nuclear weapons are located on submarines that would presumably be located thanks to the UAR’s established hydrophone network in Lebanon.. Thus the main objective would be to overwhelm the enemy’s air defenses.
This will involve 5 different sources and directions forcing them to defend territory in 360 degrees in addition to a suter attack by EC-130 ELINT to paint the false picture of a clear sky prior to the attack:
Between the 75,000 rockets (including precision munitions), Hamas’s missiles, 1,500 cruise missiles, 2,000 ballistic missiles, and 200 JASSMs, it is highly unlikely that the Israelis will manage to intercept specifically the 5 INTIQAM-2TAAs that would be dropped on the area. A few cruise missiles alone are hard to intercept if taken by surprise, let alone thousands. The fireball would likely vaporize the neighbouring moshav of Sdot Micha, as well as Sdot Micha Airbase. The largest settlement that would be affected by the detonation would be Bet Shemesh which would suffer from the shockwave. The Negev Nuclear Research Centre in Dimona would similarly be targeted as well. This would effectively render Israel nuke-less and unable to retaliate.
Objective:
The Sub Hunt
The UAR Hydrophone network should reveal the locations of the submarines in Israel’s control. The UAR will deploy its fleet of ASW aircraft and ships to hunt the subs that are located to prevent them from firing. This will occur simultaneously with the attack to bring the UAR’s sub hunters within range to destroy the Israeli submarines within minutes of the initial salvo firing, faster than the time it takes for the news of a nuclear strike to travel to the 5 isolated subs.
Knowing vaguely where they are, ASW helicopters can be used to pinpoint their direct locations and thus allow them to be neutralized by torpedo fired either by helicopter, submarine, or surface the Sea Hunter Autonomous ASW ship designed specifically for this purpose. The limited range of fire of the enemy’s cruise missile systems used for nuclear weapons delivery dramatically reduce the search range. The following units will be deployed for this purpose:
Sub Hunter Group 1:
3 Arleigh Burke Flight II Destroyer 3 Ticonderoga Class Cruisers 2 Sea Hunter Autonomous ASW Ship 1 Sea Fighter LCS 5 Silorsky ASW Helicopter 1 Los Angeles Class Submarine
Sub Hunter Group 2: (First searches Tiran, then moves back to the Med.)
3 Arleigh Burke Flight II Destroyer 3 Ticonderoga Class Cruisers 2 Sea Hunter Autonomous ASW Ship 1 Sea Fighter LCS 5 Silorsky ASW Helicopter
Sub Hunter Group 3:
3 Arleigh Burke Flight II Destroyer 3 Ticonderoga Class Cruisers 2 Sea Hunter Autonomous ASW Ship 1 Giuseppe Garibaldi-class ASW Carrier 15 AS332 Super Puma ASW Helicopter
Sub Hunter Group 4:
3 Arleigh Burke Flight II Destroyer 3 Ticonderoga Class Cruisers 2 Sea Hunter Autonomous ASW Ship 1 Independence Class LCS 5 Silorsky ASW Helicopter
Sub Hunter Group 5:
3 Arleigh Burke Flight II Destroyer 3 Ticonderoga Class Cruisers 2 Sea Hunter Autonomous ASW Ship 1 Independence Class LCS 5 Silorsky ASW Helicopter
An additional 25 Sayeh Naval Drone (clone of ScanEagle), with ranges of up to 100 km, will be launched to help in the detection of enemy submarines.
Objective:

Hotamah Phase II

After the nuclear strike which would end Israel’s nuclear arsenal, which would last in the order of minutes, followup strikes would be ordered on their airbases as a horde of UAR Aircraft begin dropping JASSM and SEAD munitions on Israeli air defense in the area, targeting aircraft believed to be nuclear capable while still on the ground.
With UAR Air Defenses featuring quantum radar technologies obtained from China, and the UAR’s newest aircraft featuring advanced stealth suites and EW, it is hoped that the enemy’s air defenses would be promptly suppressed and enemy aircraft that do manage to take off shot down. Operating the Arrow 3 as an ABM, the David’s Sling as an air defense system, and the iron dome as an anti-rocket system, the Israelis have a decent air defense system… for the 2010s.
Extensive use will be made of EW aircraft to scramble enemy defenses during the attack, as well as simply strength in numbers as the Israelis cannot hope to intercept the large barrage of missiles fired from Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Gaza, the air, and the Mediterranean sea at the same time 5 F-16CJ ELINT will be used for this purpose in addition to the 2 EC-130 ELINT aircraft mentioned earlier.
The UAR will also fire 20 conventional Mudafi’ missiles, designed to counter the Arrow III, the schematics for which were generously provided by our allies in Laurentia. Combined with further tomahawk strikes on airbases and air defenses, as well as mass JASSM strikes and artillery barrages where applicable, the airbases and the air defenses presumably deployed at the [following sites]()https://i.imgur.com/zJqN5y5.png will be destroyed, hopefully with much of the IAF as well. Emphasis will be placed on the early destruction of Nevatim Air base due to the presence of F-35s in that airbase.
The UAR has deployed a total of 180 5th generation aircraft, aircraft that are more advanced than the F-35 which defeated the F-15 with 20:1 odds. With experience in Iran, the UAR’s capable fighters will attempt to destroy much of the Israeli Air Force while they're still on the ground following the first wave of coordinated SEAD strikes on enemy air defense systems.
Israeli air bases will also be hit by a further salvo of 100 Tomahawk missiles each while the SEAD strikes are ongoing. Continued suppressive fire from Hezbollah and Hamas missiles will further augment the chances of the more sophisticated missiles hitting their mark.
Fortifications in the Golan Heights as well as Lebanon and the West Bank of the Jordan river will be struck in subsequent strikes and neutralized.
Aircraft deployed:
Once Phase 1 is complete and the Israeli air defense network is suppressed, the 580 aircraft deployed will assist with CAS operations and will bomb enemy supply lines.
The above aircraft will be supported by the Turkish deployment of F-16s that would perform similar strike operations, as well as friendly B-21 bombers from friendly Laurentian bases.
Objective:
Ground Operations
Map
Northern Deployment (250,000 men)
Amount Item Type
350 Engesa EE-50 Tanks
150 Altay Tanks
150 T-26 Tanks
250 M1A2S Tanks
100 T-90 Tanks
1100 M113 APC
300 LAV 6 APC
125 Tuwaiq-2 APC
250 Al-Shbil APC
75 Sarrir APC
200 Fahd APC APC
2050 APCs
150 S.A.U.D Vehicle Drone Vehicle
25 Type 08 IFV IFV
100 M2A2 IFV
25 AMX-10P IFV
300 IFVs
1500 Al-Masmak MRAP
500 Toofan MRAP
250 Oshkosk M-ATV MRAP
25 Digori Medevac Medevac
2275 MRAPs
245 Raad self Propelled Artillery (with basir laser guidance) SPA
150 M109 SPA
2 Chinese Artillery Battery SPA
8 Jobaria MLRS
42 PHZ-89 MLRS MLRS
447 Artillery/MLRS
20 Denel Rooivalk Attack Helicopter
8 Denel Rooivalk (SAUD) Attack Helicopter
40 AH-64 Apache Attack Helicopter
15 Aérospatiale Gazelle utility / scout
15 Boeing CH-47F Chinook Utility
20 Sikorsky UH-60 Black Hawk Utility
20 Bell 212 Utility
5 Aérospatiale Gazelle scout / anti-armor
347 Heydar 1 Autonomous Swarm Robot
50 Nazir UGV
150 CAIG Wing Loong UCAV
15 Ababil UCAV
2 Ramah-II Air Defense System
10 LPD-1 Laser Point Defense System
15,000 Misc Trucks Supply Trucks
The UAR currently operates several satellites such as the Yaogan series which can be used to determine the bulk of Israel’s positions and bases prior to the attack.
In the initial attack, the Jobaria MLRS systems will provide firepower to demolish much of Israel’s fortifications in the Golan heights, feigning an attack from the Syrian side. However, knowing that the Syrian side is the most fortified compared to the Lebanese side, the UAR’s main northern advance will come from Lebanon. The intention is to pin down as many Israeli troops in the Golan Heights as possible while sending troops pouring southwards towards a line established from Haifa to Tiberias. Cutting off the bulk of the Israeli troops that would eventually run out of supply, the offensive would hopefully see the Golan and much of the Galilee fall to the UAR.
In the Golan Heights, extensive use of Nazir UGVs and Heydar Autonomous Swarm Vehicles will be used to combat minefields. Controlled from a distance, and with support from drones, the vehicles would be able to clear minefields with a minimal loss of life. The Jobaria strike, each of which fires 240 missiles per salvo, will assist in the destruction of minefields and defenses in the area. One Jobaria is said to cover an area of 4 km2, 8 would cover far more. The Golan contingent will represent 2/5ths of the total force, with 3/5ths being deployed to Lebanon. The UNFIL will kindly be asked to leave/step aside.
The Arabs in this section, which make up 53% of the population, will be encouraged to rise up, and Arab localities will be given small arms via airdrop. Seeing as they are actively discriminated against, and saw their holy sites destroyed, they would be more than willing to assist the UAR in liberating their homeland. Of the 700,000 Arabs in the territory, it is expected that some 70,000 would assist. They will be used to police the area and maintain the occupations of villages and towns liberated by UAR forces. This includes the Golan heights where a large number of Israeli troops would be stationed.
UAR forces boast a multitude of drones, partially deployed by S.A.U.D drone vehicles (ie a successful version of the Dakotan slaughterbot project) which release swarms that can be used to provide full battlefield awareness to soldiers via their personal helmet augmented reality HUDs. This would drastically reduce the cost of urban warfare and when combined with the larger UCAVs and UAVs flying overhead, helps integrate air, land, and sea combined firepower.
Extensive use of the UAR’s superior artillery and aerial intelligence will be used to target armored columns and harass enemy supply lines, ensuring that the UAR is well supplied in comparison to the Israelis. Close air support from helicopters as well as support air strikes from the aircraft deployed to the skies will help speed up the advance.
Furthermore, the UAR’s experience in urban warfare, owing to its abilities in the Syrian, Lebanese, Saudi, and Iranian wars will provide its professional army with an edge over the conscription based Israeli army who’s dated combat experience is largely based on waving guns at unarmed protestors and Palestinian children.
Objectives:
Southern Deployment (250,000 men)
Amount Item Type
350 Engesa EE-50 Tanks
150 Altay Tanks
150 T-26 Tanks
250 M1A2S Tanks
100 T-90 Tanks
1100 M113 APC
300 LAV 6 APC
125 Tuwaiq-2 APC
250 Al-Shbil APC
75 Sarrir APC
200 Fahd APC APC
2050 APCs
150 S.A.U.D Vehicle Drone Vehicle
25 Type 08 IFV IFV
100 M2A2 IFV
25 AMX-10P IFV
300 IFVs
1500 Al-Masmak MRAP
500 Toofan MRAP
250 Oshkosk M-ATV MRAP
25 Digori Medevac Medevac
245 Raad self Propelled Artillery (with basir laser guidance) SPA
150 M109 SPA
2 Chinese Artillery Battery SPA
8 Jobaria MLRS
42 PHZ-89 MLRS MLRS
80 M88 Armored Recovery vehicle
20 Denel Rooivalk Attack Helicopter
8 Denel Rooivalk (SAUD) Attack Helicopter
40 AH-64 Apache Attack Helicopter
15 Aérospatiale Gazelle utility / scout
5 Aérospatiale Gazelle scout / anti-armor
20 Mil Mi-17 Utility Helicopter
20 Mil Mi-24 Utility Helicopter
347 Heydar 1 Autonomous Swarm Robot
50 Nazir UGV
150 CAIG Wing Loong UCAV
15 Ababil UCAV
2 Ramah-II Air Defense System
10 LPD-1 Laser Point Defense System
15,000 Misc Trucks Supply Trucks
Operating over 50 bridges, and with air cover from Jordanian based air defense systems, the UAR will cross the Jordan River with three main thrusts, north, central, and south, which would be of equal size. This will involve the destruction of Israeli forces on the other side of the river through mass artillery. With what can only be described as the largest artillery barrage in history the entirety of the West Bank of the Jordan that is fortified by Israel will be struck by 471 Artillery units in addition to salvos fired by 50 MLRS systems with salvos of 3600 rounds per strike. This will be supplemented by air strikes from UCAVs and friendly aircraft.
In the north, defined as the West Bank to the Golan Heights, troops will attempt a push forward with similar tactics to that mentioned in the previous section towards Umm Al-Fahm to Nazareth. The pressure put on the Golan front will pin down troops that do not wish to forgo the high ground, as the unexpected large bridge crossing would occur. Once again, urban areas will be dealt with using the UAR’s drone tactics. 2/5ths of the Jordanian force will be deployed here. In the West Bank, the objective in sight is Jerusalem, as troops will attempt to seize much of the West Bank with support from artillery and air units. Liberated Palestinians who would be more than willing to fight will be provided with AKM rifles and shall act as auxiliaries. In the West Bank, with a population of approximately 4 million people (estimate based on 2%), at least 400,000 men would be willing to join. The destruction of the holy sites would see nearly every eligible man join the fight, and as such 400k is extremely conservative and a figure of closer to 2 million would be likely. The West Bank should already be in open revolt given the actions at Al-Aqsa, and as such the advance would be facilitated by Israeli troops being largely bogged down by the fighting . Friendly units in the region will work to sabotage Israeli military positions and supply lines and shall assist the advance, particularly in Jerusalem proper. 2/5ths of the Jordanian force will be deployed here.
Once the troops reach Jerusalem, special care will be taken to prevent the destruction of additional holy sites, and prevent Israel from destroying sensitive Holy sites important to Arabs such as the Church of the Holy Sepulhcre and the St. James Cathedral. Jerusalem’ population, which is 38% Arab despite Israeli ethnic cleansing, will be instrumental to assisting the UAR’s advance.
In the south, along the Negev Desert, troops will establish a land connection to Egypt by Seizing Eilat. The Negev is sparsely populated, and relatively open, allowing large armored units to be targeted from the skies and by missile. Urban combat is similarly less of a concern as the towns are notably smaller, and easier to place under martial law. UAVs and UCAVs will be used extensively to destroy armored columns, as the battle becomes one of range and maneuvering. Friendly Bedouins, Muslims who make up 25% of the Negev’s population, will be used as local auxiliary units, with some 20-30k out of the 400k strong population (estimate based on 1%) willing to assist. With 1/5th of the Jordanian force deployed here, the objective is to push forward and control Highway 40 (Line from Eilat to Beersheeba to the West Bank) by attacking from the east.
Once again, given the range of the UAR’s air defense systems in Jordan, the troops should be reasonably protected against Israeli incursions as the Quantum Radar batteries should be able to easily pick up the few F-35s that may have survived the original blast, and most certainly the F-16s that survived.
Objectives:

Air Defense

The UAR boasts some of the tightest air defense systems in the world, with numerous layers of Radar tested specifically against the type of aircraft Israel is expected to deploy with successful tests. The Quantum radar within the chinese designed, UAR produced HQ-90 ABM and Air Defense System provides the UAR with protection against stealth aircraft and ballistic missile threats within 600 km [Analogous to an upgraded S-500]. The Ramah-II Quantum Systems provide 100 km of coverage [Analogous to an upgraded Patriot] and protection from cruise missiles and stealth aircraft. The LPD-I laser point defense batteries provide laser point defense within 20 km against smaller munitions. Additionally, THAAD, and Patriot batteries have been deployed across the country as well as HQ-19 batteries, integrated with the quantum radar suites elsewhere.
While the UAR already has a vast array of air defense systems deployed, it shall be deploying additional systems to key sites including:
Each site will be protected with 3 HQ-90 Batteries, 2 Patriot Batteries, 2 Ramah-II Batteries, and 1 LPD-1 Batteries. 2 THAAD Batteries will be placed at Medina, Damascus, and Beirut and 1 THAAD Battery will be placed in Baghdad.
This layout ensures that cruise missiles fired from the mediteranean will have ample time to be detected and intercepted by the Ramah-II batteries designed specifically for this purpose, with multiple layers of security should a missile fail to be intercepted. With each HQ-90 battery being able to intercept and track up to 20 missiles at a time within 3 seconds of firing, each deployment should theoretically be able to protect against the entirety of the Israeli nuclear arsenal which is estimated at 80-120 nuclear weapons. With 60 HQ-90 systems deployed, as well as redundancies and overlapping coverage, the UAR should be able to intercept anything that Israel may have been able to save.
The UAR has not forgotten its allies, as it has already deployed 5 HQ-90 Quantum ABM/ADS Batteries, 10 Patriot-3 Batteries in the above cities, 30 LPD-1, and 15 Ramah-II in Amman, Irbid, Ma’an, Ajloun, and Russeifa. Jordan’s location between Israel and much of the UAR means that these systems would intercept missiles headed for the UAR as well. The Egyptian deployment similarly consists of 5 HQ-90 ABM Systems,10 Ramah-II ACM Batteries, and 10 LPD Laser Point Defense Batteries deployed to Alexandria, Asyut, Cairo, Aswan, and Port Said.
To further improve interception chances, 10 KJ-3000 AWAC, 6 Boeing E-3s, and 2 Saab 2000s will be used to provide round the clock airborne warning and control to track potential hostile airborne threats.
Lastly, the Arleigh Burkes currently deployed in the Mediterranean theatre are equipped with an AEGIS SM-2 system that would be capable of intercepting missiles fired from the Mediterranean sea within range. This provides yet another layer of protection from enemy missiles.
Note that the deployment of batteries in Lebanon, Jordan, and Egypt, allow for the UAR’s air coverage to include the entirety of Israel greatly affecting the enemy’s abilities to field aircraft.
Objective:

Naval Deployment

The naval deployment intends to neutralize Israel’s submarine based nuclear arsenal by deploying various “Sub-hunter Groups” that would utilize intelligence about submarine positions in the relatively shallow Mediteranean (compared to the open sea). These groups would neutalize the submarines and then work towards eliminating the Israeli surface fleet, be it in port or in the water. The bulk of the force will be in the mediteranean, with Sub Hunter Group 3 clearing the Straits of Tiran prior to moving back to the Meditereanean.
Sub Hunter Group 1:
3 Arleigh Burke Flight II Destroyer 3 Ticonderoga Class Cruisers 2 Sea Hunter Autonomous ASW Ship 1 Sea Fighter LCS 5 Silorsky ASW Helicopter 1 Los Angeles Class Submarine
Sub Hunter Group 2:
3 Arleigh Burke Flight II Destroyer 3 Ticonderoga Class Cruisers 2 Sea Hunter Autonomous ASW Ship 1 Sea Fighter LCS 5 Silorsky ASW Helicopter
Sub Hunter Group 3:
3 Arleigh Burke Flight II Destroyer 3 Ticonderoga Class Cruisers 2 Sea Hunter Autonomous ASW Ship 1 Giuseppe Garibaldi-class ASW Carrier 15 AS332 Super Puma ASW Helicopter
Sub Hunter Group 4:
3 Arleigh Burke Flight II Destroyer 3 Ticonderoga Class Cruisers 2 Sea Hunter Autonomous ASW Ship 1 Independence Class LCS 5 Silorsky ASW Helicopter
Sub Hunter Group 5:
3 Arleigh Burke Flight II Destroyer 3 Ticonderoga Class Cruisers 2 Sea Hunter Autonomous ASW Ship 1 Independence Class LCS 5 Silorsky ASW Helicopter
An additional “Fleet Destroyer” Group which would destroy the Israeli surface fleet while the other groups hunt for submarines, in port on on the water, the enemy’s ships will be destroyed. This will be made up of:
3 Arleigh Burke Flight II Destroyer 3 Ticonderoga Class Cruisers 2 Medina Class Frigates 3 Badr Class Corvettes
Extensive use of Naval UAVs such as the Sayeh Drone and the Fotros Drone will be used in eliminating the enemy’s naval capabilities. Munition drones, specifically, some 400 LJ-2 drones, will target Israeli warships during naval engagements to increase the odds of a direct hit. Aircraft mentioned in previous sections, once air superiority is achieved, will assist in dropping AshM munitions on the enemy.
Once the enemy’s fleet is destroyed, naval assets will provide shore bombardment support to attack Israeli Army positions.
Objective:
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2020.09.03 00:17 KeepItReal-ish The Psychogenic itch

My name is Eliza. I’m 24 years old, and If you asked any of my friends, they would tell you that I’m a tom boy, of sorts. I enjoy skateboarding, playing video games, and the occasional all you can eat buffet. I’m about as normal as normal can get…except for one small detail. I live with a rare condition that my doctor has labeled a psychogenic itch.
Sounds weird right? Well it just gets weirder. I started going to therapy when I was 18 after the loss of my asshole of an ex boyfriend. I know they say that you shouldn’t speak ill of the dead, but fuck him.
My ex was a controlling, manipulative, self centered asshole, and none of these problems had popped up before I met him. In our relationship, when things were great they were just ok and when things were bad, they were awful. One night, a few days after my 18th birthday, my ex and I had been texting and idk what it was. Maybe I had enough, maybe the courage just welled up in that instant. But I told him that I didn’t want to see him anymore and I turned off my phone.
The house that we lived in at the time was an older ranch style house, the type that looks a lot bigger on the inside than on the outside. I made my way out of my room, which was at the back of the house, to the front door, and out onto the porch.
The August air was heavy and sticky. If you know anything about August in the south, specifically Georgia, then you know what I’m dealing with. If not , its 100 degrees and the air makes it feel like you’re attempting to breathe soup through a sponge. I sat down in the old wicker rocker and pulled the small stool with the ashtray on top in between my legs and lit a cigarette. Now that I was 18 I didn’t have to hide the fact that I smoked from my parents and that was what I liked to call, the little victories. I finished my cigarette and left the pack and lighter on that old wicker rocker and made my way back inside to take a shower.
The water was slightly cool and it felt great on my sweat soaked skin, it felt refreshing. Kind of like a snake shedding its old skin and being born anew. I was being reborn, away from him, away from his bullshit….I dried off in the shower, wrapped myself up in a towel, and made my way to my room to throw on some pajamas.
As I was searching through what to wear I decided to turn my phone back on just to see if anyone besides my ex had tried to get in touch with me. I hit the power button and finished putting on my pajamas when my phone dinged.
DING 1 New Message: Mom. “Our date night is running a little long sweetie. Should be back around 2 am. We love you.” Well that’s sweet," I thought to myself. "They don’t have to tell me when they’ll be home, we're all adults here."
DING DING DING 3 New Message(s) Jacob…..I froze, I don’t know what I was expecting. I knew that he wouldn’t just disappear after I had broken up with him. But still, seeing my exes name on my phone turned my blood to ice.
1st message 11:37 pm “ What do you mean you’re breaking up with me?! This isn’t funny Eliza answer the fucking phone, RIGHT NOW!!”
2nd message 11:37 pm “if you don’t answer the phone right now, I swear to God im going to kill myself. Is that what you want? You want me to kill myself? I swear I’m going to do it. Pick up the PHONE.”
3RD message 11:38pm “if I can’t have you, nobody can. So if I’m going to kill myself, you’re coming with me.”
I threw the phone immediately onto my bed, simply out of shock, my mind and body both reeling from what I had just read. I stood in the middle of my room just gawking before the thought came to me. If he’s coming to kill me, I’m at home alone.
I ran directly into the kitchen and grabbed the biggest knife I could get my hands on. I ran back to my room and picked up the phone. I immediately began dialing 911
INCOMING CALL Jacob. I let out an audible gasp as I read the words over and over again. My mind was racing. Was he here, is he already in the house, is he really going to try to kill me just because we broke up? What the fuck is this guys problem.
Finally the call went to voice-mail and I dialed 911 again, this time getting through. 911 what’s your emergency? Yes ma’am, my name is Eliza, I said hurriedly. My ex boyfriend just sent me messages saying he was going to kill me and then himself. I’m afraid he’s on his way or already here. Can you please send someone to 4239 Willowark rd. PLEASE?!!
Please calm down Miss, the lady on the other end of the line said. My name is Kristin and I’m here with you. Everything is going to be ok, I have an officer dispatched to your location. They will be there in 10 minutes. Are you armed right now? Kristin asked. Yes ma’am, I replied. I have a kitchen knife just in case. But its all I have. Ma’am, is your front door locked? I stared blankly for a moment. I rolled the question over in my head, but for the life of me I could not remember. I don’t know, I replied. I don’t remember if I locked it or not. I’m going to go make sure.
I took the phone down from my ear, took one step towards the door, and just faintly heard Kristin tell me to just stay put, but it was too late. I dropped the knife between my three bottom fingers and my palm, then used my index finger and thumb to turn the doorknob.
I opened the door and looked up in just enough time to see Jacob’s left arm reach forward to grab me. I stumbled backwards and crab walked on the inside of my wrists until my back was against my bed. I used the bed to brace myself and make my way back to my feet quickly. Jacob wasn’t the strongest person but he was lanky, with a hefty reach advantage. 6’1 with greasy jet black hair, sunken eyes, and a sharp jawline. He was wearing a black leather jacket, blue jeans, and combat boots.
I wanted to just…go after him, but if I missed…I was dead. He would wrap me up in his arms and my life would be over. But, as luck would have it, he lunged first. My fight or flight kicked in and I was laser focused. He seemed to move in slow motion, I was prepared. My muscles ached as I watched him reach out for me, screaming to be set in motion, my entire body seemed to vibrate.
He was mid lunge, right hand extended. I side stepped the right and brought the knife down directly at his nose. His other hand shot forward to protect his face and the knife went clean through his palm.
He instinctively jerked backwards and as soon as he did I heard something heavy hit the floor. I looked down and saw his fathers 9mm.
My eyes grew wide and I guess he realized what I had planned so instead of diving for it, he kicked it straight past my legs and against the wall behind me. He extended himself a bit too far with that kick so he ended up on his right knee with his other leg outstretched and I capitalized. I drove the knife clean into his thigh all the way to the hilt and ripped it back out.
Jacob screamed and that’s where I fucked up, I got over confident. I stood straight up as I expected him to keep shouting or clutch the wound like in the movies, but he didn’t. He stabilized himself on that knee, jerked his waist, and used that momentum to take his right hand and hit me, directly in the face, with the back side of his fist.
I don’t know if you’ve ever been almost knocked unconscious, but the world…tilts, for just a second. It’ll be like trying to watch porn on a channel you didn’t have access to. The world itself seems to glitch. You see sparkles and hear a rushing WOOM sound.
I won’t lie to you and tell you that punch didn’t, literally, throw me for a loop. It spun me in almost a complete 360 and with my split second of semi unconsciousness, my body kind of rag dolled and my arms and legs splayed out as I spun like some kind of human tilt-o-whirl. What happened next, I don’t know if its luck, God, or some kind of black out rigor mortis, but I had a vice grip on that kitchen knife still.
Jacob is crawling away towards the opposite wall, towards his dads gun. I panicked and in a rush I jumped on top of him and drove the knife deep into his back. He threw back his elbow hard and howled out in pain. That elbow connected direct with the bridge of my nose and I saw stars. I fell to the floor, on my back, in a heap. My nose hurt and my ears were ringing. I was waiting to hear the heavy scrape of the 9mm being retrieved off of hardwood, but it never came.
I chanced to open my eyes and see that maybe, just maybe, he had bled out on the floor or given up. But no such luck. Both of my eyes, that were already extremely swollen, took forever to adjust. Jacob had turned around and was on both knees just, looming over me. I let him think he had won. He lurched forward, one last time, both hands straight forward together like he meant to strangle me. I put both hands on the knife pulled my head down and shoulders up for some small form of protection. Shot both my arms up, between his, and locked my elbows.
My eyes were closed, but I felt the unmistakable feeling of meat hitting the end of the blade, little to no resistance as I felt something…..pop, and then a weight continuing down on top of me.
I rolled Jacob’s body off to the right and slipped out from under him. I got to my feet and I slowly opened my eyes as far as I could with the swelling….the left eye. There had been little resistance on the blade because I stabbed clean through his left eye. The hilt still just…..sticking out of it. I wanted to vomit. That entire ordeal felt like hours but in reality, likely only lasted about 30 seconds.
My brain was racing, my ears were ringing and my fucking nose HURT. But I was alive. This asshole broke into my house to kill me and I’m fucking ALIVE. I sat back, back against my bed and just sat in silence for a moment. Until I heard my name, quiet. But it was my name. Then I heard it again. Oh shit…Kristin. The dispatcher at 911. She had stayed on the phone through the entire ordeal.
I picked up the phone and told her that I was there. Are you OK ma’am, what happened? She said frantically. My ex boyfriend, he was here, he attacked me…he’s dead. Eliza just stay calm, the officer is 7 minutes away and he is going to come in with the lights and sirens. I’m going to stay on the phone with you until he gets there so you can click I hung up. Kristin was a nice woman but I’m not in the mood to listen to anyone talk directly into my ear for the next 7 minutes. My nose felt like someone brained me with a tire iron and my right cheek was extremely tender. But I’m alive.
The officer got there shortly after I hung up and called my parents. He let them know that I was ok and they got to the house about 30 minutes after that.
I felt bad for ruining their date night but they assured me they’d rather be here. The officer had called an ambulance and EMT's showed up at the house to look me over. I had a broken nose and my cheek had been cut from where the back of his fist connected with my face. My parents told me I should let them take me to the hospital. My mom said she would come along while my dad stayed back and went to check out some hotels seeing as my room would probably become some kind of active crime scene investigation. I was carted into the back of the ambulance and was swept off to the hospital.
2 days, 4 stitches, and a reset nose later and I was ready to leave the hospital and never look back.
At this point in time, looking in the mirror was not something I enjoyed doing. All the way around my nose and eyes were deep purple, black, and yellow bruising. The swelling was down but things still seemed a bit blurry at times, which I was told was normal in my situation.
I packed up my bag, tipped my hat to the nurses station and hopped in the back of moms car to head back home. The ride back to the house was uneventful. Bright light hurt and gave me a headache so I rode the entire way with my seat back and my eyes closed. I’ve lived in this town for 18 years. I had an ongoing map of this place in my head. I knew every single twist and turn. So I knew when I heard my mom say, what the fuck, while we were coming up on our driveway.
Something was wrong. I sat my seat up and opened my eyes, standing on the porch was my dad and two police officers. The officers looked a bit worried and my dad looked absolutely dumbstruck. As we pulled into the driveway the officers gave my dad a nod, and made their way back to their patrol car. They left our driveway in a hurry and mom asked dad what was going on as soon as she stepped out. He just shook his head and made his way back inside.
"Honey, go to your room." my mom said. As soon as the words got out she froze and looked at me sympathetically.
"Don’t worry mom, ill be fine." I said. "I’m a big girl…."
I made my way to my room and stopped right in the doorway. I looked over everything…clean and pristine. You would never know that I stabbed a man to death in here just a few days ago.
I dropped my bag down on the floor and collapsed face first onto my bed. I took a deep breath in and could hear the muffled sounds of my parents , slightly heated, conversation. What are they arguing about, what did those officers want, what weren’t they telling me, are they going to try to lock me up, do they think I did this on purpose? My head began to swim and lash out. Panic set in and I felt my body fall back into that fight or flight. My breathing got short, my muscles ached to evade this invisible threat, and my body felt like it was vibrating. But there was no attacker to fend off, nothing to run from, I’m trapped in this state, and I cant fucking move. All the while my brain is an absolute whirlwind. I cant form clear sentences, I cant think straight…am I dying? BOOM, that thought flew into my mind and I began to hyperventilate. The room felt smaller and smaller and I lost consciousness.
I came to in the back seat of my dads truck. The speedometer read 97 MPH. "Dad, what’s going on?" I choked out. He snapped his head back quickly to see me moving and his eyes were wide with panic.
"Eliza, holy shit, you’re ok, thank Christ. What’s my name, can you tell me what year it is, did you have a stroke, are you ok?" I blinked my eyes a few times and just let out a long sigh. I felt the trucks speed slow down and after a few more minutes we were back at the hospital. A 3 hour wait later and the doctor told my dad that I had a panic attack. A fucking panic attack.
I climbed into the front seat of my dads truck and laid my head against the window. He was quiet and I let out another sigh and told him that I was sorry. That I didn’t mean to scare anyone. He told me its nothing to feel sorry for and to not think twice about it, but I did.
Intrusive thoughts flooded my brain about how mad he was at me and how stupid he thought I was. How weak he must think his daughter is…and with those thoughts, came my first case of the psychogenic itch. It started out at the bend in my arm and eventually spread into my forearm, hand, and even between my fingers. Nothing I used helped and I noticed that the more I thought about, the worse it got. That was my very first experience with the itching and shortly after, my parents got me into therapy. With the help of some medications prescribed by my therapist and the introduction to yoga I was able to live a relatively normal life.
That was six years ago. I’ve been doing yoga now for those 6 years and taking my medication regularly. They have, however, lowered my dosage. I’ve been getting out more, exercising , and spending time in nature.
My therapist said it would be good for me. But she was right about one thing. Trees we’re really good for me.
I work at a nice little dispensary in the mountains of Colorado known to the locals as, The Hot Box. My dad got a promotion at work and he figured, why not move the family 1400 miles away from bad memories? Understandable I figure, but here I am just standing behind the counter, minding my own business when the intrusive thoughts began. Oh lord what if we start itching at work and everyone thinks we’re on some hard-core drugs? Will we get fired? Will people make up rumors?! The itch immediately flares up. Its dead in the center of my left hand and it’s agonizing. I scratch at the top of my hand, peering around to make sure there are no customers or staff just watching me at that moment, and there’s no one.
The top of my hand yields no relief so I get to work on the inside of my palm. Exact same story, zero relief. The top of the counter where the register sits is made out of an old rough wood. I’m standing behind the service counter with full view of the shop out ahead of me.
I lay the side of my fist into that countertop and start to drag it back and forth hoping that the wood would do better than my fingernails. Back and forth, back and forth, nothing. Zero relief. I lay my palm flat and repeat the same motion, nothing. The back side of my hand, nothing. At this point its only been 5 minutes and I already feel like I’m going insane. Luckily my shift was over in another 10, so I just steeled myself to endure the next ten minutes……..It……..was……..excruciating.
You know what its like to have an itch you just can’t hit? Its everlasting, it will not go away and it is driving me up the fucking wall. When my ten minutes were up I ran to the time clock, out the front door, and to my moms old car that she had gifted me on my 21st birthday. I turned the key and the engine roared to life.
Our new home is a beautiful 2 story cabin that we moved into right after I turned 20 and we left Georgia. Dad figured the family could also use a fresh start. But right now I was on the backroads home hitting 70 in a 45 all because I couldn’t stop, what felt like, a hatched colony of ants pricking around inside my hand. 2 minutes away from the house I hit a red light and the itch surged when I came to a stop.
I screamed out in frustration, gripped my left hand around the top of the steering wheel and just started raining punches into the back of my hand. I couldn’t stop, every time a punch landed I told myself the next one would do it. The next time I landed a punch it would stop. But it didn’t. I continued throwing punches until the light turned green and as soon as it did I stomped the gas.
I pulled into the garage, turned off the car, and bolted upstairs. I didn’t know what I was going to do but I just felt the need to get to my room. I’m mid panic looking for something, anything at all. My eyes are darting from one side of my room to the other. “There’s the bookshelf we've been building.” the intrusive thoughts began again. My eyes locked onto the bookshelf and the hammer was right where I left it the week prior. I dashed for the hammer and before I knew it my hand was on the table and the hammer was up over my head.
My breathing was labored and rapid, there was sweat in my eyes and there was a bit of self preservation left telling me that this was an awful idea. But I had to get it to stop, I HAD TO. I brought the hammer down on the back of my hand at about half strength, it was a tease. My punches did more. I brought it down a second time, harder this time and I felt a tickle in that spot. I felt it, I can get there. Holy mother of God, sweet relief. I brought the hammer back up, I screamed into the back of my clenched teeth and brought it down as hard as I could right in the center. Fireworks went off in front of my eyes. A searing pain and a resounding CRACK I felt the bones in the back of my hand splinter and break, but those bones also hit the spot.
The pain was immediately replaced by a feeling of sweet euphoria. I didn’t want it to stop. I threw my right hand on top of my left and started moving it in a circle so the splintered bones could dig into that sweet spot. Involuntarily, I jut out my lower jaw and opened my mouth wide, I squeezed my eyes shut, and my toes spread as far apart as possible then curled. This lasted for about 10 seconds before I fell backwards onto my back, breathing heavily and all the pain and realization of what I had just done came flooding back. My hand felt like I had just dumped it in a vat of acid and I just started screaming………hyperventilating. I screamed and screamed until I finally passed out.
When I woke up I had no clue how much time had passed. All I knew was that my hand was on fire and I needed a doctor. I ran back outside and flung open my car door, I sat down in the driver’s seat and realized I had left my car keys in my room. I slammed my door and screamed in frustration, just as my dad was pulling up. "Honey what’s wrong?" he asked. Staring at me wild eyed and concerned.
"I….I slammed my hand in the door by accident, don’t ask me how I pulled this off but I’m sure its broken."
The lie came easily, much easier than usual. "Get in the truck dear, ill run you to the E.R."
He sounded worried as he spoke but I couldn’t think of anything other than the pain shooting through my hand.
I was looked at by a doctor immediately. I’d broken 3 metacarpal bones…..awesome. The doctor gave me a few funny looks when I gave him my story but he didn’t ask anything further. At this point I’m just hoping he’s not suspecting my father of something he didn’t do. My hand was reset and put into a cast. I was given a prescription for pain medication and sent on my way.
The ride home was quiet, I spent the time watching the light posts flick by while I fell in and out of consciousness. I woke up long enough to wave at Martha, the woman that’s run Brookson's pharmacy for the past 2 decades, and fell right back asleep.
When I finally woke up I was in my room, in my own bed. The hammer was back where I had it the week before on my DIY bookshelf project. The digital clock on my nightstand read 7:45 am. "FUCK, I’m supposed to be at work at 8." I yelled
I launched out of bed and towards my bedroom door. I paused when I saw a note there. A note? On my door? Who is it from? Why would they not text me? I always have my phone on me, who the hell leaves notes anymore. My vision began to blur and I felt my body start to vibrate. Deep breath Eliza, in through your nose, deep inhale out through your mouth deep exhale again…..again….again. Calm your thoughts. Everything is going to be fine. You are in charge here.
I dropped my shoulders and shook off the tension. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. This time, I was lucky. I looked at the note pinned to my door. “Eliza, I spoke with your manager and told him what was going on. He said for you to take a few days off and just return to work when you feel ready. Breakfast is in the fridge. Love, Dad.”
I put my non broken hand over my face and sighed into it. I almost panicked over time off and breakfast.
I walked down stairs to the fridge and pulled out eggs, bacon, and pancakes, score. Then after a quick trip to the microwave I was full and happy. After my episode in my room I figured a little bit of yoga and meditation wouldn’t work so I plopped down in the living room, popped in my yoga DVD, and gave an hour of my time to clearing my mind and stretching out my limbs. After it was over I grabbed my pillow from the arm chair, sat it against the wall, took a seat, and crossed my legs. Hands on my knees, back straight, head level, clear my mind……
The thought rang out in my head like a gunshot. “how much money did we just cost mom and dad with that little stunt? Oh my hand itches, boom, hospital. What a fucking joke.”
My body froze….I stared straight ahead and balled my good hand into an awkward fist. "A Hammer?? Really?! A hammer?? To scratch an itch?? I’m SO glad we didn’t go to college because that would have obviously been an exercise in futility."
Ok deep breath, Eli….El…what is my fucking name?! My breathing became rapid and I started to panic. The thoughts came again, quick and condescending. “You know you have to breathe deep, that rapid breathing keeps you in fight or flight. Full deep breaths, you’re depriving your brain of oxygen, you’re going to pass out.”
I threw my head back against the wall and gasped in a large breath. It wasn’t very technical but it was working, I sat there gasping like a fish out of water for what felt like hours. But finally I regained control of my body and after about 5 minutes I was fully functioning again. Absent minded I wiped my eyes and realized I must have been crying.
"God that was bad." I said to nobody in particular, when I felt that familiar sensation buried deep in my left thigh. It itches, and it itches bad.
"NOOO, please noo. I cant take this shit anymore! Why me?!"
I broke out into heavy sobs while the feeling in my thigh just intensified. It graduated from an itch to the feeling of a tarantula crawling in circles inside the muscle. I could feel every leg, every individual hair on each individual leg. I started to claw at it with my good hand, but I was getting nowhere fast. Tried slamming my fist down into my thigh and nothing. I don’t even know why I tried, I know what this shit wants. It wants me to mutilate myself for the relief. But I run this show, I just need to get this under control and it will go away. I crossed my legs, straightened my back, and tried to will away this phantom itch…..
Seventeen minutes, seventeen minutes I sat in complete agony attempting to take control of my mind and for seventeen minutes I failed. My entire body was sweating and the itch had done nothing but grow in strength. I stood up.
I paced slowly into the garage. I was trying desperately to block out the pain, and it felt like I was just being led on by a string, my body on auto pilot. I grabbed a kitchen towel as I passed the dining room table and through the door into the garage. I walked up to his workbench and pulled my dads Ryobi nail gun from the top shelf. I stared at it as I turned it over in my hand. I took up the kitchen towel and put it in my mouth, the itch in my thigh flaring up like it knows what’s about to happen.
Like that feeling you get when you have to pee. Once you see the toilet that feeling starts to get worse. Like that, but horrible.. I pressed the tip of the nail gun to my thigh and bit down hard on the towel…..
Silence, all except for the high pitched whine in my ears from the force of my jaw……
Thoop I pulled the trigger. The nail shot out and pierced deep into my thigh. Splashes of color whizzed by as I forced my eyes shut. Then again, euphoria. I dropped the nail gun and threw back my head. I let out a long note that sounded more like a growl and wiped my face from forehead to chin. I didn’t want it to end. But it did. The feeling came to a screeching halt and was replaced by pain. Searing fucking pain.
The nail embedded itself about halfway into the meat in my leg.
My dad has an old, shitty, nail gun, but it did the trick. I got a set of pliers, yanked out the nail, threw on some liquid band aid, some gauze, a wrap, and set on about my business. I know, I know, stop the bleeding, tetanus, I don’t fucking care right now. I made my way to my car and drove away from the house.
I drove around with the searing pain in my leg, no use of my broken hand, and a head full of questions. I found myself pulling into the hotbox just out of habit. Good idea, Eliza. I thought to myself.
I got out, headed inside and knew exactly where I was headed. 5 pack joints, pre rolled with "an urban legend." The most powerful strain to ever hit our store. I was going to smoke one of these, take one of my pain killers for this hand, and pretend that I’m warm syrup filling each individual hole of the world’s largest Belgian waffle.
I walk up to the counter to pay and I’m greeted by Cassandra, or Cassie, if you’re friendly. She gave me a look of pity and asked how I was doing. "Rough" I told her, "but not for long." I shook my 5 pack and handed it to her.
She rang me up, asked me to please be careful, and I was out the door.
Back in my car I turned up the radio to keep myself from thinking and just sang along with everything that played. When I pulled into my driveway I sat in the car for a few moments just staring straight ahead. I took a deep breath, opened the door and made my way back inside the house, making sure to avoid the garage.
I poured myself a glass of tea and made for the front door. I sat outside on the front porch, sat down in that wicker rocker, pulled the stool with the ashtray between my legs and lit up. As I smoked I sat back and thought to myself.
You know what I like more about August in Colorado? The air is crisp, its not assaulting and humid like August in Georgia.
“Remember the last time we sat in this chair in Georgia? We killed a man that loved us so much he was willing to die for us.”
My blood ran cold, but my breathing didn’t change, I was alert, I was paying attention, and for the first time I realized it. What the fuck took me so long to realize it?! So I asked, “who is we?” I felt lightning run across the inside of my head.
Tiny sparks spreading across the length of my brain as if something was smiling. No, I’m going crazy, its intrusive thoughts, my therapist said they were intrusive thoughts. The call of the void, its normal.
“Our situation is far from normal my dear, Eliza.” My eyes went wide, the voice I heard sounded familiar now, very familiar. J-Jacob? I sputtered out.
As soon as I said that name an itch exploded in the center of my back, just to the right of my spine. I shot out of the rocker and slammed my back into the siding if the house.
“Do you remember, Eliza? Do you remember how you stabbed me? In my left hand, in my left thigh, in my back, just to the right of my spine?! Do you remember how you reveled in it?! How strong it made you feel?!” His voice was echoing like thunder inside my head. It felt like if he kept talking it would just split in two.
I fumbled with my phone and was finally able to get it out of my pocket. I dialed 911 and put it on speaker phone. “911 what’s your emergency?” someone’s breaking into my house, please help me! Jacobs voice laughed in my head and my back felt like something was trying to claw its way out. The itch was more than unbearable.
I couldn’t think straight. I ran shoulder first into my front door and without the deadbolt I crashed straight through it. I stumbled through the living room and into the kitchen, straight to the kitchen counter.
Jacobs laughter was so loud, it reverberated inside my skull. My vision blurred and I swatted around for the knife block. I pulled a knife from the block and positioned myself with my back to the kitchen wall. I held the knife behind my back with the blade hovering just to the right of my spine. I clenched my eyes shut and thrust my back directly into the point of the blade. I screamed in agony but no relief came. The itch surged, I stood straight back up tears streaming from my face and thrust my back into the wall once more, driving the blade deeper.
Color wheel….like an artist hurling pastels at a black canvas I saw them all. Relief washed out over my body like a waterfall. It ran from the middle of my back, to my head, to the tips of my fingers and toes. Jacobs voice spoke softly into my ear. “isn’t the pain……exquisite?”
I woke up back in the hospital to a doctor explaining to my mom that the stab wound that I had received collapsed one of my lungs. He explained that, when the police got there, they saw me, unconscious, and my dad standing over my body.
How they had taken my dad into custody and I was brought here via ambulance. How I spent 4 hours in surgery, and the surgeons had placed tubes in my chest to drain the fluid build up. My mom was the first to notice me come to consciousness. The doctor quickly moved her aside, checked my vitals and my pupil reaction. Asked me how I was feeling, and after a few other tests, he allowed me and my mom a few minutes of privacy.
My mom immediately asked if my father was to blame….i shook my head no. My chest and throat were on fire so I mimed myself writing on a notepad and my mom gave me one, and a pen from her purse. I wrote, “was there anything weird about Jacob?”
"Oh honey" my mom said. "He was just a-"
I shook my head to cut her off. I pointed at the notepad aggressively. She looked sad and just said, “ no dear.”
I pointed at the notepad over and over and over again, shaking my head as hard as I could.
"Ok, honey ok. Please stop, please. You’ll pull something out." There was a long silence as she pondered over my question. "When the police found Jacobs body, they said they found his entire torso covered in carvings, words. They had no idea what they were because it was a different language. The coroner told the officers it was Latin. The officers didn’t know if you guys had been delving into witchcraft or the occult so they figured they’d tell your father just to keep an eye on you."
My mom continued to talk but I was no longer listening. My brain was racing 100 miles a minute. Latin? Carvings? His entire Torso? Was this his plan all along? Did he want me to kill him? Was he really ever in my head? Am I just fucking crazy? All these questions and I didn’t know ANYTHING!! The only thing I knew was in the midst of this panic that itch set in again….and its deep in the back of my left eye.
submitted by KeepItReal-ish to nosleep [link] [comments]


2020.09.02 18:23 KellyNewbie [SPOILERS!] Goedam (도시괴담) (2020 Netflix Korean Horror Anthology) Explained (+ Original Korean Urban Legends)

(Warning: HUGE SPOILERS!)
Goedam is a recent Netflix Korean horror anthology. Each episodes are really short and I personally really enjoyed it. But it seems like some Western people were unable to fully understand due to cultural differences.
I'm originally Korean myself (Canadian now), went up to Korean middle school, and love horror stories and urban legends, so I already knew about Korean folklore in this drama.
(Some titles were localized in English ver.)
(Was unable to hide all the spoilers :( Don't know what happened to the spoiler texts)

EP1. Crack (틈)
Original urban myth: 콩콩이 괴담 (Kongkong-i horror story)
There were 2 students: the top first and the top second. The top second got jealous of the top first, so she killed the top first by pushing her off on the school/apartment rooftop.
The top first died, hitting her head first on the ground when she fell. Later as an upside-down ghost, the first haunts the top second and kills her as revenge.
The name 'kongkong (콩콩)' means an onomatopoeic word for bouncing sound. The ghost literally moves with her head.
It's a pretty old horror story - I even heard that in elementary school (2000s).
In this episode, the top second student bites her nails, implying that she felt something guilty with the top first's death.
Also Korean school washroom/bathroom = the perfect horror spot (it is creepy, filthy and smells terrible!)

EP2. Destination (목적지)
Original urban myth: 자유로 귀신 (Jayuro ghost)
There is a road called Jayuro (자유로). People frequently reported that they saw a lady standing alone on Jayuro road at night (or almost got a car accident due to this lady).
She seemed to wear huge sunglasses - but turned out that she didn't have eyes.
But this episode had its own variation: the ghost actually killed the driver in the end. This doesn't happen in the original story.
>!(Tbh I don't know why she killed the driver - he was just working! :( )!<

EP3. Special Guest (합방 = Co-op Broadcast)
Original urban myth: 손 없는 날 (Guestless day)
"Son" (損) (the guest) is an evil spirit that wonders all 4 quarters (East West North and South) depending on certain dates and disturbs or harms humans.
The "guestless day" means the day when this ghost is not "active" (no harm for humans).
People still believe in this today and the cost of moving is even more expensive in this guestless day (just because many people prefer this day).
In this episode, the streamer somehow brought(?) a lot of ghosts because she moved in the "guest-active day".

*The term BJ here means Broadcast Jockey (= streamer) - it's not a sexual word we think in Western culture...
There is a Korean broadcast platform who called the streamers as BJ - it was very popular once, but now a lot of streamers moved to either Twitch or Youtube, thus now we call them as streamers or Youtubers more often.
Also I think the streamer girl was actually not a clean streamer - she seemed to use her stream and prank just to earn more money from her audiences.

EP4. Curiosity (장난 = Prank)
Original urban myth: Not sure about this one exactly, but I think it's like "Do not pick up what you find in the street - it may brings you misfortune" or something.
There are a lot of Asian horror stories about picking something up (usually dolls) at outside and things go horribly wrong because the object has spiritual influences.
...I assume that something was possessed in the doll and haunted the two girls? (Just a typical horror story of the ghost with awkward joints.)

EP5. Red Shoes (맞춤 신발 = Custom-made Shoes)
Original urban myth: 테케테케 (テケテケ/Teketeke) (Originally from Japan)
A woman got an accident or committed suicide and died, upper and lower bodies being separated.
She lost her legs so she walks with her arms/elbows instead with crazy speed (100km/h (?!)). She cuts the lower body of the "victim" and haunts the next target.

In this episode, the ghost girl (Jin-gyeong) was a poor student and was bullied by her classmates ("go die yourself"), and eventually committed suicide.
>!Hyae-su was actually one of the leaders of bullying her, and the teacher also covered up the bullying issue by removing evidence (students' group chat), instead of helping Jin-gyeong. (The teacher was a bystander, too.)!<
Sadly this happens A LOT in South Korean schools: the victims get severe bullying and mental health issues or even suicide; and many teachers/schools try to cover up problems/rumours not to get in socially trouble or harm their images.
There are reasons why Korea has a lot of horror stories related to schools (too competitive, depressive, bully, etc.). Life is not like a Japanese anime or Korean drama...

EP6. Dimension (엘리베이터 = Elevator)
Original urban myth: 다른 세계에 가는 방법 (How to go to another world/dimension)
Originated from a Korean chat website (I still go there too, similar to Japanese 5chan), this is a very recent and modern urban legend (been only few years?).
Someone posted how to reach to another dimension (the afterlife) using an elevator. (Not gonna explain the methods here because it's pretty long and complex.)
The lady in the fifth floor is not a human in this world. You must not talk to her, or you...probably won't be able to return to your world safely?
>!Also the two girls in the end (those who die in EP4) actually seemed to fail the "ritual" because only one person must participate to succeed (more than two people will fail).!<
This urban myth is 100% fake anyway, so don't even try. (Costs lots of electricity!)

EP7. Threshold (문지방)
Original urban myth: 문지방 (Door threshold)
There is an old myths of door threshold that it is actually the borderline of our world and the afterlife.
There is another superstition that you get misfortuned if you step on door threshold.
In a realistic view, your foot might get hurt if you step on it since it's the borderline of room to another room.
>!(Tbh I have no idea why the dad got killed in the end all the sudden :( )!<

EP8. Birth (생일 = Birthday)
Original urban myth: 염매(厭魅/Yeom-mae) (A strong ancient Asian curse using a child. Similar to Kotoribako (子取り箱) in Japan)
The perpetrator kidnap (or "buy") a child, make him/her suffer into starvation, and eventually kills the child, trapping in a jar or bamboo tube. This child spirit has a very strong spiritual power, but also very fickle.
Sadly this really existed in ancient East Asian history records (similar of using dogs and cats in ancient Japan and China). The government strictly prohibited this black magic with heavy punishment.
A misunderstanding fact is that a shamanese can amplify her spiritual power with this horrible black magic. This is NOT true. Instead, she may be abandoned by her god/spirit for crossing the line.
Also most shamaneses refuse to do the work of "curse" (because they know that it is a wrong thing to do and they will be punished as consequences).
In this episode, I think the shamanese received an evil god/spirit and crossed the line.
>!Some say the kidnapped child in this episode is actually the boy from EP7. And the shamanese is definitely the one from EP2 radio news (shamanese's death)!<

I hope this is helpful for those who were unable to understand the story due to cultural differences.
Thank you for reading!
submitted by KellyNewbie to KDRAMA [link] [comments]


2020.09.02 03:34 planetpike75 [Battle] The Dragon Cast Down

[M] At long last, we have the conclusion to the great China-Bahrain-UAE-CIRAP-KSA-USA saga. This post will consist of multiple parts parts: some will be more like a typical modevent detailing the results of China's cyberattacks and other espionage actions against the United Arab Emirates. The other part will consist of the actual battle results as per usual. They'll be tied together throughout the post, and note the dates because this isn't entirely in chronological order for the sake of the narrative. That said, let's begin.
Also, ignore the fact that I posted this already. It didn't have casualties so it doesn't count. This thing is just about the 40,000 character limit and over 20 pages long; I did it in one day, so please don't be too hard on me. [/M]

The Digital Theater

3And there appeared another wonder in heaven; and behold a great red dragon, having seven heads and ten horns, and seven crowns upon his heads. 4And his tail drew the third part of the stars from heaven, and cast them to the earth: and the dragon stood before the woman which was ready to be delivered, for to devour her child as soon as it was born.
-- Revelation 12:3-4
Dubai International Airport Dubai, United Arab Emirates April 16th, 2028 14:58 Local Time
It was a normal day for the Dubai International Airport, the largest in the world and often one of the busiest. Despite the toll the oil embargo had taken on the Emirati economy, planes were still constantly in transit, flying in and out of the complex, carrying civilians, migrant workers, businessmen, royals, soldiers, doctors, and more. At one of its multiple international terminals, a young citizen of the Emirates, Muhammad al-Kadaj, stood by a flight board, tapping his feet impatiently. He and his newlywed wife were supposed to meet at the airport to board their flight to Ankara to visit his now father-in-law, but she was now almost twenty-five minutes late with no indication of what was taking her so long.
It's probably just running late, he thought to himself. The trains never run on time, anyway. She'll be here soon.
His thoughts were interrupted by a loud blast of the sound of the display next to him turning to static. The flight schedule had been scrambled as letters and numbers flew across the screen in between bouts of static, and a piercing ringing exploded from a nearby intercom. After a brief moment to cover his ears and adjust himself to the shock, al-Kadaj looked up to see not only the display next to him showing an error message, but almost every screen within his field of view was either shut down, turned to static, or showing an error message of some kind. His immediate thoughts were panicked. What was happening? Was this a terror attack? A government coup?
About ten agonizing seconds later, the displays returned to normal and the screeching ceased. A voice rang out from the PA system. It was clearly not a prerecorded message; the man was fresh out of breath and seemed as confused as the airport's patrons.
"Please stay calm, everyone. We have had a minor security breach that is now under control. Please stay calm. Continue to your destinations and we will return to -- wait, what was that? Right now? Oh, god. Okay. Everyone, we are under attack. Please seek shelter in the nearest available space. This is not a drill. This is not a drill."
Al-Maktoum Station Dubai, United Arab Emirates April 16th, 2028 14:52 Local Time
Between the roar of the high-speed train and the bustling cacophony of the voices of its passengers, Layla certainly understood what her husband meant when he said that there was no city like Dubai. Her hometown, a small village about three hundred kilometers outside of Ankara, was all she had known for most of her life until she met Muhammad while studying in the Turkish capital. While she had adjusted to life in the city during her university years, she was not quite prepared for Dubai. And while she was overwhelmed, she found that she loved it. She had never felt so alive as she did when she walked its crowded streets, taking in the sounds of a hundred languages, the sights of grand skyscrapers, and the smells of the street vendors. It was different, but it was good. She was quite happy to live out the rest of her days with her husband in the city.
However, family had called her back to Turkey. Her father had fallen ill lately; while it wasn't life threatening, she and her husband found it proper to visit him and her mother to help with some renovations to their house and farmstead that were underway. Despite her newfound love for the city, she was excited to see her family again. It had been years since she last visited the cottage of her youth, and it would be a nice change of pace from the breakneck speed at which the average citizen of Dubai is forced to live his or her life.
She was roused from her half-slumber by the calming voice of the train attendant.
"Now arriving at al-Maktoum Station. Al-Maktoum Station. Please be careful as you exit the train."
The voice spoke, but the train did not slow down. The passengers began to notice this after a few seconds and a soft murmur soon erupted into a steady drone. And in an instant, the lights on the train were shut off. The train drew closer and closer to the station, where another train was parked -- but it did not show any signs of slowing down. The drone rose and rose, reaching its final form as an unearthly chorus of screaming and wailing.
Then, silence.
Ruwais Refinery Al-Ruwais, United Arab Emirates April 16th, 2028 15:05 Local Time
The refinery wasn't the best place to work -- especially not for a college-educated man like Ismail bin Talaal -- but it certainly paid the bills. At least, until the embargo hit. Ismail was one of many who found himself down on his luck after graduating from university with a mostly-useless degree, pushed out of any available opportunities by those more connected, more educated, or more experienced. After two years of looking for a job to no avail, he eventually followed in his father's footsteps as a worker at the Ruwais oil refinery. A lowly job, but it was better than nothing. The embargo had taken its toll on his paycheck and possibly the future of his employment, from what he could gather from the hushed whispers of his superiors at work. However, he couldn't afford to quit.
He was nearing the end of a long shift of sweeping floors and mopping up residue when he overheard two IT workers yelling at each other from across a hall. Tired of the mundanities of cleaning bathrooms and wiping off water fountains, he stood against the corner of the wall and bent his ear in to listen.
"Hey, uh, boss?"
"What's up?"
"Is the internet down for you, too?"
"What? No. At least, I don't think so. Let me check."
A brief moment of silence. Ismail had almost made up his mind to go back to work when the other voice piped back up.
"Yeah, it's wo-- nope, it's out for me, too. Shit. Have you tried the Ethernet cable? We can't stay offline for too long."
"Got it. Give me one sec. Hang on. What's all this? What happened to the maintenance page?"
"Is everything good?"
"Everything's gone!"
The New Age of Warfare
Contracted by the People's Republic of China, cybersoldiers from the Democratic People's Republic of Korea carried out a series of attacks against various positions and people within the United Arab Emirates on April 16th, 2028, as a preface to a Chinese intervention in the region. A number of targets, such as the Dubai International Airport and multiple desalination plants, were able to fend off the digital offensive, but not every target was so prepared, or so lucky. Specifically, the Dubai High-Speed Railway and the Ruwais Refinery crumbled under the weight of the attack. The attacks on the rail system resulted in a catastrophic failure of the entire railway network, causing four train crashes across the system that killed 76 and injured over 450 passengers. The Ruwais Refinery found its entire digital maintenance system wiped out. Entire records were destroyed, and the refining process was halted in its tracks, creating a sharp disruption to the flow of oil that keeps the Emirati economy afloat.
Not only this, but thousands of deepfakes of Emirati officials, leaders, generals, imams, economists, and businessmen immediately began circulating throughout social media, spreading across the globe. Ranging from fake sex tapes of President al-Maktoum with a variety of popular porn actresses, to the most popular imam in Dubai confessing to be a practicing Jew in private, to a faked tape of the Emirati general staff discussing their plans to unleash nuclear armageddon on Israel via a hidden cache of hydrogen bombs, troll accounts from IP addresses around the world were flooding Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Reddit. While many of these were easily identifiable as fakes, the more conspiracy-inclined people of the world were quick to latch on to a number of the fakes. In the UAE, hundreds of protestors gathered in Dubai to lament the sexual immorality of their President, while the "leak" from the military made its way across the pond to the United States, where large groups of evangelical Christians proclaimed that the end times were nigh, and that the antichrist, President al-Maktoum, would lead his army into Israel any day now as they demanded that President Cotton sever the American relationship with the great Satan, in a bizarre turn of fate.
In Bahrain, similar messages began to flood their networks and social media circles. The tyranny of Bahrain was laid bare for all to see as more and more people became sympathetic to the rebel cause. While they did not necessarily grow from this, a sort of apathy has spread throughout the Bahraini people as they can not bring themselves to condemn the rebels, but also can not bring themselves to join them.
In the immediate aftermath of these attacks, Emirati and Bahraini intelligence worked in cooperation with American and Saudi officials to determine the culprit of the attacks. They would not need to dig too deep, because the aggressor would soon announce its presence in the most obvious way possible.
After all, it is in a dragon's nature to roar.

The Peninsular Theater

6And the woman fled into the wilderness, where she hath a place prepared of God, that they should feed her there a thousand two hundred and threescore days.
-- Matthew 12:6
Before the true culprit revealed itself, however, there was another war raging across the Arabian Peninsula, one which had shaken the entire Islamic world to its core. The Gulf Cooperation Council had fully embraced its reliance on one another as a military alliance as the United Arab Emirates assisted Saudi Arabia in ridding itself of the Council for the Islamic Restoration of the Arabian Peninsula, and the Arab Republic of Egypt had also sent its Republican Guard to assist in securing the stability of its neighbor, and sometimes, friend. The Islamists reduced to the heartlands of its holy cities and their surrounding lands, the end was in sight. But one would be a fool to believe that radical Islamist jihadis would surrender Mecca and Medina without a fight.
The Battle of Medina April 18th, 2028
With the blessing of the Muslim faithful and the righteousness of the faith on their side, the GCC coalition forces led by the UAE and Saudi Arabia descended onto CIRAP in Hejaz like a pack of wolves. The morning light was greeted with the roar of hundreds of tanks as the Gulf's armies began their assault. Managing to catch CIRAP forces off guard, the town of Mahd al-Thahab was quickly secured by the Gulf with minimal losses. However, this victory would not bring entirely good news. Upon confiscating the armaments of the Islamist soldiers in the town, the Gulf forces found that their enemy was much, much better equipped than they had anticipated. From small arms and ATGMs to MANPADS and artillery shells, it seemed that the Council had a benefactor supplying them with arms to resist the Gulf's onslaught. Interrogation of local forces yielded information that Mecca and Medina were much better fortified than anticipated, and the Gulf's general staffs prepared themselves for the long road ahead.
When the Gulf forces arrived at Medina, they found that it was exactly as the captured CIRAP soldiers had described it. The city was loaded to capacity with guns; mortars and artillery lay ready to open fire on any who would approach, and soldiers equipped with rocket launchers took up positions in civilian buildings to fire on those who would not dare attack a hospital, a school, or a mosque. The Islamists had even gone so far as to forcibly conscript as many able-bodied men as they could coerce into fighting, many of them mere children handed an AK-47 and told to shoot anything that came from the east. It seemed that the former domain of the Prophet would not fall easily.
War is Hell, and the Battle of Medina was no exception. While the Gulf coalition had a relatively simple task in encircling the city, the constant harrying of their columns by artillery fire and suicide attacks by the CIRAP zealots would inflict many a wound upon their soldiers. Even so, the combined forces of the GCC managed to set up a ramshackle siege. However, this was only the beginning of the fight.
Siege warfare is insidious; when faced with adversity, men stand together, but when faced with hunger and poverty, men turn against one another. The siege took a great psychological toll on the CIRAP forces, and videos began to surface on al-Jazeera, MEMRI, and other social media circles of Islamist soldiers raiding civilians' homes to steal what food and supplies they could get their hands on. One particularly gruesome clip showed two CIRAP troops breaking into a home, beating a single mother bloody with the stock of an AK-47 while her infant child cried from within its crib, powerless to help its mother, who would eventually die from her wounds. All of these incidents lent a moral authority to the Gulf. While most of the world had never considered the GCC the "good guys," they were certainly better than this monstrous alternative.
With their hearts set on the liberation of their brothers in the faith and their rifles in hand, the Gulf coalition jumped feet first into Hell. They advanced slowly and precariously through the streets of Medina, fighting alley to alley, building to building -- breaking new ground as they fought a modern war in a city that housed almost two million people. Novel tactics were invented on the fly as the coalition armies sought out new ways to protect their armored vehicles from ambushes and keep a keen eye out for snipers hidden away in blown-out shells of buildings. The prevalence of the infantry squad remained at its all-time importance as the ever-changing cityscape required close cooperation by small groups of soldiers in coordination with one another. In the darkest alleys where tanks and vehicles could not fit, it was the infantryman who took the fight to CIRAP and liberated Medina, street by street.
Video footage from the battle made its way to all the regular destinations. Enthusiasts, families, journalists, and military officers alike were witness to the destruction wreaked by the conflict; each had their own reaction and used the footage for their own purposes. While this was not a Western war and most Americans and Europeans kept up with it very little compared to the White Russian War of the early 2020s, the rest of the world watched with wide eyes. A journalist from al-Jazeera, one Ali al-Assad -- of no relation to the President of the Syrian Arab Republic -- had this to say, a message recorded in the midst of a devastating artillery barrage from CIRAP:
"I'm here huddled with a few other journalists and a squad of soldiers in what looks to be a blown out elementary school. The entire building is nearly reduced to rubble; we're only in here because it's the only roof that looked stable enough to withstand a few artillery shells, and even then, you can see that each of us are taking turns praying for our own safety. The fighting here is fierce. I have never in my life seen anything like it, and I pray that no one ever has to witness what I've seen in the past few days. I have seen women and children hiding away, fearing for their lives, refusing to come out even at the call of Saudi and Emirati soldiers. I have seen enough corpses, both civilian and soldier, to fill ten graveyards. I have seen row after row of destroyed buildings, many of which will never be rebuilt. I have seen Hell, and I pray that God wipe from my memory the things I have seen -- things that no man should ever be made to witness."
Eventually, CIRAP was finally pushed out of Medina entirely. However, it was not without cost. The Gulf suffered heavy losses in the fighting, with hundreds of soldiers dying and losing millions and millions in valuable military equipment. They paid a heavy price, but Medina was finally free from the tyranny of the Islamists as one of two holy cities of the Arabian Peninsula was back in Saudi hands.
The Battle of Dammam April 20th, 2028
In the north, Gulf forces prepared for an assault on Dammam, the last stronghold of the PDF in the Arabian Peninsula. Unlike the Battle of Medina, this offensive would be relatively straightforward: the PDF operated mainly out of the countryside and struggled to maintain an effective presence in cities, so little would be needed in the way of a siege or protracted urban combat. The roar of tank columns and jet engines was almost enough to scare the PDF into surrendering; the actual devastation they wrought on the PDF emplacements was more than enough to break them apart. The PDF, a loose organization in the Peninsula, began to crack and tear away at the seams beneath the weight of the Gulf's offensive.
With Dammam secured for the KSA, the PDF's last major stronghold lies within Dhahran. The leader of the PDF in the Arabian Peninsula has sent a correspondence to the President of the UAE and the King of Saudi Arabia stating his intent to begin negotiations; he has made his position clear: the PDF will not surrender unconditionally, but has little desire to continue a war that it has no chance of winning, and is quite open to cutting its losses while it can. The decision now lies in the hands of the GCC on whether or not they will accept his offer or shatter his organization for good.
The Battle of Highway 85 April 21st, 2028
The hydra that is the Islamic State had again reared its ugly head in the Peninsula. Clearly not learning anything from its multitude of past defeats, it established itself in the towns of Hazem and Arar along Highway 85 in the deserts of northeastern Saudi Arabia. With little by way of natural protection and zero local support, the IS forces were left open and vulnerable, and the Gulf coalition knew this, taking advantage of the opportunity for a decisive strike.
The fighting was short and sweet. UAE air crews made short work of weakly-defended emplacements as Emirati and Saudi infantry moved in to secure the areas shortly afterward. The fighting had not even reached the population centers by the time the IS cell had crumbled, and when GCC forces rolled into Arar, they found almost no trace of the Islamic State as they had fled into the desert. While their presence did not evaporate entirely, their central command did, leaving scattered groups in the desert to carry out meager attacks on military police and other open targets.
The Battle of Mecca April 30th, 2028
As one wing of the Gulf's forces raised the Saudi flag over Medina once more, another wing crossed the perilous mountains to the birthplace of the prophet with the goal of liberating the city of Mecca. They had heard of the valiant struggle of their fellow soldiers in Medina and of the heavy price they paid to free the city. However, they were almost all ready to sacrifice their lives to liberate this holy city and return their home to normalcy. Many of them would follow through on that promise in the days ahead.
The Emirati and Saudi military leadership were not fools; they knew that radical Islamists would obviously not let the holiest city in Islam go without a fight. What they didn't expect was just how much of a fight they would put up. With a steady supply of Chinese and Qatari arms -- unbeknownst to the Gulf coalition -- what was once the shell of a guerrilla movement had reorganized itself into a semi-effective fighting force, and in a city as large as Mecca, a semi-effective insurgency force is one to be reckoned with. The story was similar to that of the Battle of Medina, but the resistance was fiercer as CIRAP was on its last legs. The fighters who managed to escape Medina alive had made their way to Mecca, and knowing that Jeddah would fall more easily than Mecca, CIRAP leadership ordered half of its forces on the coast to retreat into Mecca.
The strategic retreat of CIRAP from Jeddah led to an easy capture of the city by Gulf forces. It was becoming increasingly clear that CIRAP knew it would not survive, and that it was at this point merely determined to take down as many infidels as it could bring with it. Its death throes would be explosive; it would not go quietly into the night.
While the Gulf forces managed to encircle the city with relative ease, the siege of Mecca has seen suboptimal results. Suicide bombers, artillery strikes, and hit-and-run missions plague the Gulf supply lines and logistics chains. A host of soldiers equipped with anti-tank missiles and anti-air systems prevent any meaningful penetration of the city's interior. At this point, the Gulf coalition faces a decision: does it continue the siege, leaving the city's inhabitants to suffer as those of Medina did while maintaining the relative safety of its own forces, or does it muster up one final offensive to wipe the Islamists off the face of the earth? Whatever decision is reached will be bloody, and the world will always be left to consider what might have been had they chosen the other option. But such is the way and the cost of war: sacrifices must be made, regardless of the side taken or the outcome reached.
The Battle of Muharraq Island, Part One May 12th, 2028
In Bahrain, the rebels had been reduced to a small strip of land off the coast of greater Bahrain. With an indefensible position in spite of Chinese arms assistance and a disorganized leadership, the GCC set out to cut the head off the rebellious snake before it could do any more damage. In a violation of the Chinese no-fly zone, planes from the UAE took off toward Muharraq Island to assist in the liberation of the area, setting in motion a chain of events that would change the world forever.
Immediately after Chinese radars picked up the signature of Emirati fighters en route to Bahrain, a wing of Chinese H-20 stealth bombers took off toward the two airbases of the UAE. The strike was swift and decisive; the UAE was caught entirely off guard while their best pilots were away and the bases were sufficiently disabled. However, China overlooked two important presences in undertaking this mission. The first was the presence of European Union forces within the UAE airbases, which saw their fighters and equipment destroyed in the attack. The second was the presence of the one nation that could stand against the might of the Dragon.

The Gulf Theater

7And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; 8and the dragon fought and his angels, and prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven... 14And to the woman were given two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness, into her place, where she is nourished for a time, and times, and half a time, from the face of the serpent.
-- Revelation 12:7-8,14
Dragons are proud creatures. They live upon a great hoard of treasure, greedily devouring any wealth they come across while threatening to incinerate any who would dare oppose them. However, their pride is often their undoing -- every dragon knows that one day, they will face a knight who could slay them, but they assure themselves that this knight is not that knight. And today, the Dragon faced this realization.
The honor of the People's Republic of China was stained. The audacity of the Gulf Cooperation Council to place an oil embargo upon it could not go unpunished; despite warnings from the PLA general staff that China was not currently equipped to embark upon a full intervention and a personal ultimatum from President Tom Cotton that he would personally sink a hundred Chinese ships should they be so bold as to even think of standing against America, Premier Xi Jinping ordered the attack to continue. A great Type 002 aircraft carrier flanked by numerous smaller vessels made its way to the Persian Gulf with the intent of enforcing a no-fly zone over Bahrain. They were met by the might of the United States Navy's Fifth Fleet. Time stood still as the two titans stared one another down and dared the other to blink. After an eternity passed within minutes, Admiral Li Jiayi gave the order:
"Advance."
The Battle of the Strait of Hormuz May 14th, 2028
Military strategists and political scientists have long wondered what would happen should the People's Liberation Army Navy and the United States Navy finally meet in combat. But despite this morbid curiosity, it was natural that none of them would ever actually wish for this to come to pass, as it could accompany the destruction of the world as it stands today. However, the world drifts toward entropy, and the fated collision between the two great superpowers that remained after the collapse of Russia had arrived to shake the planet to its core.
China had taken special care to not anger the United States in its mission. Admiral Li had even sent a message to the US Navy that Chinese forces would not interfere with US forces at any point, and insisted that their quarrel was only with the United Arab Emirates. But true to its ever-belligerent nature, it seemed that the United States would not take that as an answer. The moment the Chinese fighters jumped from the deck of the Type 002 carrier, a swarm of United States fighters rose to meet them. And thus begun one of the greatest turkey shoots of modern warfare.
Chinese air doctrine relies on the advantage granted to the PLAAF by fighting on its home turf. The Great Wall of Sand and army of anti-ship and anti-air missile emplacements that exist to defend the Chinese coast are essential to the formation of air strategy by the Chinese general staff; the PLAN is much less comfortable operating outside of its known waters. On the opposite side of this deadly coin, the US 5th Fleet has been operating in the Persian Gulf since the 1980s, making it essentially their home away from home. So when a confident and powerful defender stood against the attacker in waters foreign to them fighting a style of battle unfamiliar to them, it was clear that there could only be one real outcome.
The Battle of the Strait of Hormuz was the largest naval confrontation to happen until that point in the twenty-first century, and was an exemplary statement of American naval dominance. The moment that the F-22 and F-35 fighter jets opened fire on the inferior Chinese J-31s, J-7s, and Q-7s, the American submarine command -- hiding away, unbeknownst to China -- opened fire on the PLAN vessels, along with a swarm of Harpoon anti-ship missiles. While the People's Republic forces were able to land a solid few blows against the Americans, the battle was heavily one-sided and ended with the complete decimation of the PLAN strike force as the last few Chinese captains still floating relayed a message of surrender in desperation. The Dragon had been cast down by the Eagle, which reminded the entire world of its superiority in all aspects of war.
The Battle of Muharraq Island, Part Two May 15th, 2028
With the Chinese strike force obliterated, the United Arab Emirates and Bahraini forces carried out their assault on the rebels, driving them off of the island and into the sea. However, the rebellion itself was far from over. The Gulf coalition did not know it, but in addition to the already-known fact that China was arming the rebels, they had engaged in a moderately effective propaganda campaign, rallying discontents in Bahrain to continue the fight. While the formal rebel army had been effectively scattered, it would be a long time before the small Kingdom would ever return to any semblance of normalcy, if ever.

The Global Theater

8And there followed another angel, saying, Babylon is fallen, is fallen, that great city, because she made all nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication.
-- Revelation 14:8
The Battle of the Strait of Hormuz -- an event that would soon be renamed to the Hormuz Strait Crisis due to being so one-sided that historians could hardly call it a battle -- marked a turning point in the course of the world as it was known, as a decisive blow was struck against the People's Republic of China, which was thought up to that point to be the premier rising superpower, the chairman of a new world order. In the Gulf, the people rejoiced at the sight of the Americans returning to their posts, heralding them as their saviors from the evil that was China, come to destroy them. In the same vein, a new wave of Sinophobia arose in the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and the other GCC member states. The "Great Satan" rhetoric that many imams had once applied to the United States of America was now being applied to China, drawing on its mistreatment of Uyghur Muslim minorities within its own borders and its audacity to attack the Arabian Peninsula itself. In their effort to usurp the United States as a global military power, they had mistakenly usurped another title that America once held -- one it was more than happy to give away.
In the United States and Europe, China was now seen in a new light. The United States had never been friendly with China -- especially not President Tom Cotton -- but not since the COVID-19 outbreak had such a pure hatred for the People's Republic run rampant in the country. And this vein of disdain was much, much stronger than that felt in 2020. China had spilled the blood of Americans, and while millions across the country celebrated that America had repaid their black eye with a gunshot to the head, the restless blood of the fallen continued to cry out for vengeance. American boys now lie dead in the Persian Gulf at the hands of the Chinese menace, and that was a transgression that could not be forgiven. President Cotton, once lambasted as a fascist lunatic, has seen his popularity skyrocket. 89% of Americans approve of his handling of the Hormuz Strait Crisis and his popularity within his own party has exploded. The Republican Party has surged with him, with thousands upon thousands of Americans joining the party in excitement after the great victory over China, many of whom would go on to join the Republican Vanguard and sign up to live in Vanguard communities. At the same time, the Democratic minority that was against the intervention were subject to a barrage of criticisms. Hawkish Democrats did their best to distance themselves from the pacifists while Republicans assaulted their rival party with accusations of being spineless cowards who did not have the faith in the American spirit that they had, the faith to trust that the United States military could overcome any opposition and destroy any foe.
The European Union would not be spared the consequences, either. French and British forces were in the UAE airbases destroyed by China; while no European soldiers were killed, European militaries were furious that China would be so bold as to think of damaging their property. At the same time, Europeans were both afraid and angry. They knew that they could not defeat China alone, especially given the United States' shaky relationship with the EU as of late, but the people did demand some kind of retaliation. In a matter of years, the EU-China relationship soured from the point of talks regarding an FTA to the European public demanding that the Union levy some kind of sanctions against the People's Republic.
In Asia, the nations of Japan, Indonesia, Vietnam, the Philippines, India, and South Korea breathed a heavy sigh of relief. The annihilation of no small part of the PLA was an embarrassing setback for China, and was practically guaranteed to force them to scale back their military aggression to focus on rebuilding and retraining due to a lack of confidence in their own abilities. Two factions have primarily emerged from this sentiment: those who believe that China is a non-threat and that Asia can now afford to let go of its fear and move past the need to counter China militarily, and those who believe that the time is now to strengthen a unified Asian military front that can match China and ensure that Xi Jinping and his ilk will never disturb their peace again. India, in particular, has fallen victim to the second position, as many in the BJP believe that there is no time like the present to solidify India as a real contender that can stand against China for years to come.
Finally, no nation has felt the impact of the Hormuz Strait Crisis more than China. With the utter failure of the PLAN to break the oil embargo and the collapse of their proxies, it would seem that their efforts of propaganda spreading and cyberattacking the Gulf were extremely effective in creating a disturbance and nuisance that would plague them for years to come, but not effective in forcing the Gulf to lift the embargo, especially with the results of the battle between them and the United States. China's alternative methods to acquire oil were largely failures, and due to this, their strategic reserves are running all but dry. China has been fighting on two fronts for some time now -- in Kazakhstan and in the Gulf -- and this has decimated its supply of oil reserves. The Chinese economy buckles under the weight of the embargo and loss of confidence in the central government as growth slows down to a halt; for a nation like China that is dependent on continued growth, this spells a looming disaster. The PLA has delivered a simple message to the Premier: lift the embargo and let us actually operate in Kazakhstan, or call all of this off and rebuild the country. There is no alternative left.
As predicted, the entire world quakes beneath the footsteps of giants. The Gulf's embargo has not been without its own costs. Oil prices all around the world are skyrocketing as the war takes its toll and the embargo weakens the GCC economies, not even to mention the disruptions caused to the Ruwais Refinery in the UAE by China's digital offensive and the disruptions caused by China's meddling in the global oil market. Furthermore, the strain on China's economy has reduced its ability to act as the world's leading exporter of cheap goods. In an alternate timeline where India, Nigeria, or Brazil may have been in a position to take over this role, this blow to the world market would be lessened, but unfortunately, this is not that reality. The entire global economy buckles under the weight of the clash of titans, and growth is expected to be down across the board as supplies of oil and consumer goods contract, causing price spikes that hammer the average consumer.
The world has changed. And as empires rise and fall, the only true certainty is that in spite of all of our differences -- be they cultural, racial, religious, or other -- is that we live and die as one. And should the world continue to live by the sword, we may soon find ourselves standing face to face with our own destruction.
CASUALTIES: THE HORMUZ STRAIT CRISIS
Side Killed/MIA Wounded Aircraft Ships
United States of America ~340 ~900 4 F-16 fighters, 4 F-15E fighters, 2 F-35 fighters 1 Arleigh Burke-class destroyer, 1 nonspecific supply vessel, 2 Cyclone-class patrol vessels
People's Republic of China ~3,500 ~4,000 26 J-31C carrier fighters, 8 Z-18 medium helicopters, 10 Z-9 utility helicopters, 8 J-7 interceptors, 9 Q-7 attack/strike fighters, 6 H6-Z bombers, 1 Y-8 transport/patrol plane 1 Type 002 aircraft carrier, 5 Type 052C destroyers, 5 Type 054A frigates, 3 Type 093 SSNs, 4 Type 096 SSBN, 1 Type 094 SSGN
CASUALTIES: THE PENINSULAR THEATER
Side Killed/MIA Wounded Aircraft Vehicles
Gulf Coalition (Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Jordan, United Arab Emirates) ~9,000 ~16,000 2 F-16s, 12 attack helicopters, various supply aircraft 180 APCs, 110 IFVs, 160 MBTs, 200 MRAPs, various supply vehicles
Bahraini Rebels ~2,100; wiped out ~1,500 N/A N/A
Islamic State ~1,400; nearly wiped out ~1,000 N/A N/A
Popular Defense Forces ~3,300; nearly exhausted ~2,200 N/A N/A
Council for the Islamic Restoration of the Arabian Peninsula ~6,000 ~14,000 N/A N/A
[M] If there is an issue with casualties please bring it to me as I have no clue how this all works, and will gladly fix any mistakes I made. Hope y'all enjoyed this read; it was very fun to write.
submitted by planetpike75 to Geosim [link] [comments]


2020.09.01 14:26 tarvolon So Long and Thanks for All the Cliffs: Mini-Reviews and Rankings from my First Bingo Board

I thought bingo would be a difficult challenge, but a lockdown-induced reading binge has gotten me a full board with seven months to spare. The only question is whether that seven months will be enough time to claw back onto all these cliffs I’m hanging off right now.
Overall, I really enjoyed this bingo challenge. There are 2-3 books among my ten favorite on the board that I probably wouldn’t have picked up if not for bingo (looking at you, romance square), which feels like a big win, as does 19 of the 25 being four-star or better in my book.
Decided to organize these mini-reviews in order of my enjoyment, because rankings are always fun and liable to get rotten vegetables thrown at your head. But there are definitely books on here that I’d flip if you asked me again tomorrow, so don’t worry too much about the difference between 12 and 13 or whatever. Anyways, here goes:
1. Inda by Sherwood Smith
Categories: Optimistic (hard), Ace/Aro, Ghost, Book Club, School Setting (hard), Politics
Mini-Review: A low-magic political fantasy with plenty of intrigue and back-stabbing. Reminds me of what ASOIAF would be if the author saw the noble characters as heroes and not fools—it’s a gritty world, but there’s an underlying current of optimism. I absolutely love how Smith presents the school setting, with kids from various factions thrown together in their nation’s warrior academy, and there’s also a significant seafaring setting, for those who like that. The interplay between the characters, especially the school kids, make this my favorite book of bingo.
Rating: 5/5
Cliff Severity: About as bad as it gets. No major resolution, tragedy and peril abounding. I grabbed book two (of four) before I even finished my board.
2. The Quiet Invasion by Sarah Zettel
Categories: Exploration (hard), Big Dumb Object (hard), Politics (hard)
Mini-Review: A first contact novel with some of the best non-human perspective I’ve come across. T’sha is definitely one of my top three characters of the year. Tons of subplots, with both the humans and the aliens being so caught up in their own squabbles that the first contact seems like a sideshow. A couple pieces of window dressing feel a bit dated, but they don’t detract much from an excellent book.
Rating: 5/5
Cliff Severity: Woo stand-alone!
3. The Lost Steersman by Rosemary Kirstein
Categories: Exploration, Feminist
Mini-Review: The third book in the series feels like a big step up, with endearing new side characters and the most fascinating plot thread of the series so far, as we see more and more layers unfold. And seeing the low-tech scholar MC figure out stuff the reader already knows is as fun as ever. If you’re just starting the series, the first two probably count for BDO and hard mode politics. If you like non-standard fantasy occupations (she’s a glorified cartographer) dynamic female friendships, and trope subversion, definitely worth a read.
Rating: 5/5
Cliff Severity: The storyline from this book wraps up, but it only increases the tension in the overarching series storyline.
4. The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix E. Harrow
Categories: Optimistic (hard), Exploration (hard), Book Club, Book About Books (hard), Feminist, Number Title
Mini-Review: I’m not sure there’s a ton of depth to this one, but if you want a beautiful, heart-warming grown-up fairy tale, give this one a read. A coming-of-age portal fantasy pitting a biracial girl against some rich White guys who don’t want her meddling in the supernatural. You can probably see where it’s going, but it’s an excellent ride. The portal aspect works especially well. Felt a lot like a fantasy counterpart to something like Where the Crawdads Sing (although I probably liked 10k Doors a bit better), and I would absolutely use it as an intro to fantasy for someone who liked that type of book.
Rating: 5/5
The Cliff: Woo another stand-alone!
5. All Systems Red by Martha Wells
Categories: Optimistic (hard), Ace/Aro (hard), Exploration, Color Title, Made You Laugh (hard)
Mini-Review: Everybody’s favorite anti-social security robot who just wants to be left alone to watch TV but can’t help helping makes this story. The action sequences are fine, but the main character makes this short read an absolute delight.
Rating: 5/5
Cliff Severity: Main storyline resolved, but with loose threads that are picked back up in books 2-4 (I read ahead, and, while there’s a bit of a dip in the second half of book two, the series keeps getting better, and the four novellas combine for what feels like a complete story arc. I would have this higher if I were rating on series and not just the one book)
6. The Golden Key by Melanie Rawn, Jennifer Roberson, and Kate Elliott
Categories: Color Title (hard), Book About Books (hard), Politics (hard)
Mini-Review: A family of artists with magic running through their blood and their paint vie for renown in an often dark story that spans centuries. The scene-setting through art criticism is pretty cool, and there are some good characters and plenty of tension. This one’s a chonk, but if you like generational stories and fantasy where the world isn’t at stake, it’s a good one.
Rating: 5/5
Cliff Severity: This one almost feels like a trilogy in one binding, with each author writing a different time period, and there are some huge cliffhangers between sections, but ultimately, it resolves.
7. The Calculating Stars by Mary Robinette Kowal
Categories: Snow/Ice/Cold, Optimistic (hard), Exploration, Climate (hard), Epigraphs (hard), Feminist, Politics (hard)
Mini-Review: An edge-of-your-seat disaster novelette followed by a high-quality story of competence and tenacity overcoming prejudice, all in one package. If “Hidden Figures, but alt history” sounds good to you, you’ll like this one.
Rating: 5/5
Cliff Severity: I suppose this is a prequel, but it ends on a pretty satisfying stopping point. There’s clearly room for more story though.
8. Fortune’s Fool by Angela Boord
Categories: Self-Published, Politics (hard)
Mini-Review: A character-driven tale of revenge and political machinations among warring houses and gods. One of my favorites despite using some of my least favorite tropes (revenge and gods usually don’t do it for me). Compelling story that keeps you guessing until the end.
Rating: 4/5
Cliff Severity: I believe there is more planned with this universe, and this one certainly doesn’t tie up an abundance of loose ends, but it is a satisfying story arc that feels complete.
9. Beguilement by Lois McMaster Bujold
Categories: Made You Laugh (hard), Paranormal Romance
Mini-Review: Lois McMaster Bujold keeps me greedily turning pages like no one else can. I’m not usually a romance reader, and I’m not sure I can fairly judge the quality of the romance (you need to be okay with a member of a long-lived fantasy race getting together with an 18-year-old though), but her characters come alive on the page, and she sucks you in with everything she writes. The more fantasy aspects are very frontloaded (though there are more as the series progresses), with most of the book being romancing and meeting the parents. Which is fantastic, because Bujold is an expert at writing awkward family dinners. I don’t even like that trope, and I love it when she does it.
Rating: 4/5
Cliff Severity: It’s a romance novel, so it has to have a happy ending, them’s the rules. That said, by the end of book one, they haven’t even met both sets of parents, so there’s a lot of story left to tell. I had an omnibus edition and immediately devoured book two, which is even better.
10. Redemption in Indigo by Karen Lord
Categories: Optimistic (hard), Color Title (hard), Made You Laugh (hard)
Mini-Review: A delightful retelling of a West African folktale with an oral storytelling frame—this one is just begging to be read aloud. There’s nothing to really blow you away (unless you love folktales, then maybe there is), but if you want a spot of warmth in a difficult year, this is well worth your while. A non-Western setting, an endearing MC, and a whole lot of laughs.
Rating: 4/5
Cliff Severity: Stand-alone!
11. Sunshine by Robin McKinley
Categories: ??? Audiobook
Mini-Review: A first-person narrative with plenty of digressions and side-trails that does an excellent job of getting you into the character’s head. It’s not quite so perfect for audio as the last one, but it really feels like a story being told aloud. Also it’s probably the best I’ve come across in my relatively limited experience with urban fantasy. Perhaps it helps that the main character is a baker rather than a magic cop.
Rating: 4/5
Cliff Severity: Two stand-alone in a row, what is the world coming to?
12. To Ride Hell’s Chasm by Janny Wurts
Categories: Optimistic (hard), Book Club, Politics
Mini-Review: In the first couple chapters, a princess disappears and a couple bodies drop, and it really doesn’t slow down from there. A distrusted hero trying to identify the baddies and rescue the princess while keeping clear of the locals who think he’s to blame, stakes that get more epic as the story progresses, and fantasy’s longest chase scene come together in a story that just doesn’t let up. The prose is more flowery than you’d expect from an action novel, but the story races ahead anyway. Gives me Chalion vibes, but more action.
Rating: 4/5
Cliff Severity: Stand-alone.
13. Song of the Beast by Carol Berg
Categories: Cold/Snow/Ice, Optimistic (hard), Politics
Mini-Review: Carol Berg puts her characters through hell and asks their broken remnants to save the world, pretty much. A world-renowned musician is thrown into prison by the dragon-riders guild. When he’s released, he has to figure out what they wanted with him, and what he’s going to do about it. Quicker-paced than Berg’s standard, but her typical great characters and many-layered plots are in evidence. There’s one POV character (not the MC) that didn’t really work for me, but other than that, this is excellent.
Rating: 4/5
Cliff-Severity: The unprecedented run on stand-alones continues.
14. Assassin’s Apprentice by Robin Hobb
Categories: Snow/Ice/Cold, Book Club, Epigraphs (hard), Politics
Mini-Review: A slow-building story that follows the main character from childhood. It’s interesting, but there’s not really an over-arching plot. There are moments of plot-related action and a lot of character development. Overall, I enjoyed it, but I’m also not moving the sequel to the top of the TBR (it’s still on it though).
Rating: 4/5
Cliff Severity: We get a climax with some resolution, but there’s a big bad lurking out there that doesn’t get addressed much at all. This definitely feels like an extended prologue to a series that I’ve heard is fantastic.
15. Circe by Madeline Miller
Categories: Book Club, Feminist, Politics
Mini-Review: A character study of a goddess who shows up as a side character in some of the mythology that everyone’s heard about. It’s well-done, it really hammers home how awful the gods are, and I enjoyed the whole thing. That said, while I lean more towards character-driven stories, I tend to like a little bit more plot to pair with it, as opposed to a straight character study. This one is the latter. If that’s your thing, read this one.
Rating: 4/5
Cliff Severity: Stand-alone
16. Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo
Categories: Snow/Ice/Cold, Number Title
Mini-Review: Everybody’s favorite YA heist novel with characters who definitely act several years older than they are. For the first half of the book, I was wondering what all the hype was for—it was a competently-told story but wasn’t really great at anything—but the second half improved immensely, with flashbacks fleshing out the characters and the action cranking up during the heist. I wasn’t awed by this, but I definitely enjoyed it, and if I hadn’t read it so early in bingo (and if the library hadn’t been locked down), I would’ve jumped straight into the sequel.
Rating: 4/5
Cliff Severity: The heist ends, but the interpersonal storylines are only half-finished, and this one has a doozy of a cliff. This is no stand-alone with a loose sequel, it’s a true duology, and from everything I’ve heard, it’s much better taken as a whole.
17. The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August by Claire North
Categories: Number Title
Mini-Review: A creative time-travel story about a man who just repeats his life over and over. The first-person narration skips around a lot, really setting up the character and evoking the feel of oral storytelling while dovetailing splendidly with the temporal conceit. It’s a good book, but whether it’s good or great for you will probably depend on how attached you get to the main character, and perhaps how much you can suspend disbelief on some of the paradoxical time-travel stuff. For me, good-but-not-great.
Rating: 4/5
Cliff Severity: Yes, there have been a lot of stand-alones in the teens, but still, there are lots of cliffs on this board. Just not in this book.
18. Shadow of the Moon by Fuyumi Ono
Categories: Translated (hard)
Mini-Review: A Japanese YA portal fantasy drops so many hints that it’s going to be an epic fantasy, but then it turns out to just be a teen girl trying to survive a new world in a very episodic narrative with new perils each chapter. It avoids a lot of frustrating YA and portal fantasy tropes, which I appreciate, and while I’d probably like more of a driving plot, I cared enough about the main character by the end that I want to pick up the next one.
Rating: 4/5
Cliff Severity: Main storyline resolves, but there are more books in this world, and the resolution sets the stage for intriguing open-ended future adventures with a bit more cohesion.
19. Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia
Categories: 2020 Publication, Big Dumb Object, Feminist
Mini-Review: An atmospheric horror story set in a Gothic-style mansion in Mexico (sometimes, titles are honest). I felt like the story did a great job with the creep factor (and really leaned into some of the more squicky aspects of horror), but I listened to the audiobook, and the narrator’s measured delivery really kept pulling me out of the story. I increased the speed toward the end, and that helped, but I think I’d have liked this more in a paper copy.
Rating: 4/5
Cliff Severity: Stand-alone
20. The Wolf of Oren-Yaro by K.S. Villoso
Categories: Canadian Author, Politics
Mini-Review: A very personal Asian-inspired fantasy with a queen on a diplomatic journey who gets separated from her retinue and has to navigate through a land where she can trust no one. There is some quality character work and some mysterious interpersonal drama that made me want to like this one more than I did, but I got whiplash from the shifts back and forth between “everyone is scared I’ll behead them and won’t speak their mind” and “everyone disrespects me and snarks at me constantly,” and there were some plot points where the main character’s naïveté was just painful. I know this one is really popular on this sub, and it did some good things, but it was too inconsistent for me.
Rating: 3/5
Cliff Severity: I guess we’ve resolved the subplot that takes most of book one, but the big questions we started with are still very much unresolved.
21. Cast in Shadow by Michelle Sagara
Categories: Optimistic (hard), Canadian Author
Mini-Review: An urban fantasy with a pretty strong setup (strange ritualistic murders that appear to be connected to our heroine magic cop!), but it’s just not able to keep the momentum, and it uses the “I refuse to hear your explanation for this apparently horrible thing you did, so I will hate you regardless of how much time I’m forced to spend with you” trope to try to string out the tension. I hate that trope. Ends up being a fairly unremarkable urban fantasy. Wasn’t mad about reading it, wouldn’t go on. I’ve heard this author’s epic fantasy might be more up my alley, but I tried this one because it was at the library and the epic wasn’t. I’ll be sure to give that one a go.
Rating: 3/5
Cliff Severity: Storyline resolved, room for open-ended future procedural adventures.
22. A Chameleon, a Boy, and a Quest by J.A. Myhre
Categories: Optimistic (hard), Magical Pet (hard)
Mini-Review: A Christian middle-grade novel set in Southeast Africa, and it...isn’t C.S. Lewis. The story was fine, the religious theme wasn’t too heavy-handed. If I’d read it as a kid, I’d probably have really liked it and then soon forgotten about it. As an adult, it wasn’t bad but wasn’t really gripping either. I did appreciate the non-Western setting, and that the few white characters, while generally helpful and trustworthy, weren’t the saviors.
Rating: 3/5
Cliff Severity: The storyline resolves, although there are others set in the same world.
23. Servant of the Underworld by Aliette de Bodard
Categories: Featuring Necromancy (hard), Politics
Mini-Review: A procedural murder mystery in an Aztec setting. The characters and plot were fine but not memorable, and there was way too much divine involvement for my tastes. I’m not mad I read it, but I’m not going to go on in this world.
Rating: 3/5
Cliff Severity: Major storyline resolves, although there is another book in this universe
24. Fortress in the Eye of Time by C.J. Cherryh
Categories: Optimistic (hard), Ghost (hard), Book About Books (hard), Politics
Mini-Review: This is an enormous novel with a totally naive main character (like, he has to be taught not to fall down the stairs) thrown into the middle of some intricate kingdom politics. It’s a very slow-build, and if you like slow-build, optimistic, political fantasy, you may really like this one. But I like all those things as well, and I was mostly just confused. I was able to enjoy it on a more episodic level, but it was hard to see the pieces cohere.
Rating: 3/5
Cliff Severity: Major storyline resolves, but it just sets the stage for what I expect is lots more story.
25. 2020 Hugo Nominated Short Stories by various authors
Categories: Five Short Stories
Mini-Review: This year’s batch of Hugo nominees was almost perfectly designed for me to hate. I like stories that make a powerful point, and I understand that they may be disproportionately represented among award finalists. But I loathe stories that are trying so hard to make a point that they don’t do anything to get you invested in the actual story. At least two of the stories struck me that way, five of the six were unrelentingly dark, and the one that wasn’t didn’t grab me. “And Now His Lordship Is Laughing” did pack a punch, and “As the Last I May Know” (the eventual winner) had a ton of heart and made me care a lot about the dark subject matter. But this was far and away my least favorite square.
Rating: 2/5
Cliff Severity: The nice thing about short stories is they usually don’t have much in the way of cliffhangers.
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2020.08.31 23:14 Jrubas My Friend's Bed Was Haunted by Sexual Energy

I was signing autographs in a downtown Richmond book boutique when Henry came in. I had been there for over four hours, sitting at a folding table scribbling my name on the inside covers of endless copies of Night Terrors, and was exhausted. My arm ached and my head throbbed. Meeting a perpetual flow of fans, many of them gushing, is hell to me. Don’t get me wrong, I love them dearly, but social situations tend to repel me, and actually engaging people I don’t know is an awkward near impossibility.
It was nearing one, dark and nasty without, and I was longing for a nice long nap in my hotel room when Henry’s turn came. I thought that the woman before him, a middle-aged blond in a brown leather jacket, would never leave. But thankfully Mr. Preston, the owner of the shop, ushered her away in his prissy manner.
I smiled at the man whom I did not recognize as Henry. He was tall and pale, his wavy black hair limp and lusterless, the flesh of his face tight and his eyes an unhealthy pink which bespoke sleepless nights. He smiled wearily yet warmly.
Without a word he passed me his copy of Night Terrors. “And how are you today?” I asked as I sat the book down, my blue Sharpie pen, the second one of the day, poised.
“Just peachy,” he croaked, and I at once knew the voice. I looked up, and Henry was still grinning as if through pain.
“Henry!” I cried happily, and extended my hand. He took it, and it was like a block of ice.
I and Henry were like brothers since time out of mind; our parents were high school friends who lived next to each other in the Pickett subdivision on Thomas Street, and from diapers we were always together, on play dates, camping trips, and backyard pool parties. We were inseparable all through our school years, and only parted, tearfully and grudgingly, when I left Picketts Meade to study at UVA in 1997. Since then, we had seen very little of each other, as I lived mostly in New York City and he in the house willed to him by his childless aunt and uncle.
“Hey, man,” he said, “what’s goin on?”
“Not much,” I said, “same old stuff. Working and all that. What about you?”
He shrugged. “Same here, pretty much. Listen, are you free this afternoon?”
“Sure, what’s up?”
“I got a ghost,” he said, as though the words were kidney stones.
“Sure, I’d be happy to come by.”
Henry smiled again. “Thanks. You know where my aunt’s old place is, right?”
“Ahhh, no, I forgot.”
“Okay, here.” Henry pulled out his wallet and opened it. In the translucent slot where preening fathers proudly put pictures of their children, there was a faded Polaroid of two boys, one tall and skinny, the other short and fat, at a lake on a summer day in 1988, mugging it up with their arms thrown around the other’s shoulder. I had the same one in my wallet.
Henry produced a small piece of creased paper and, with my pen, jotted down the directions.
“I’ll be there at around four or so,” I said, sticking the paper into my blazer’s breast pocket.
“Thanks a million, man, I can’t tell you the kinda shit I been goin through.”
“I can imagine.”
“Good book; is it number one?”
I snickered. “Ahead of Glenn Beck? I wish.”
Henry shrugged. “Still a classic. I can’t believe some of the shit. All of it’s real?”
“As you and I,” I replied. I jotted down my name and a small, personal message onto the inside cover, and handed it back to Henry.
“I’ll see you,” he said. “I’ll be there,” I responded with a smile.
***
Almost two hours later I left the bookstore by the back door, emerged into a narrow ally of grimy brick walls, and carefully crept toward busy 5thstreet. Above, the sky was malevolently silent.
Before leaving the relative safety of the alley, I looked both ways along the sidewalk, and found it empty save for several rushing, bundled forms. For a moment I was reminded of those old shots of The Beatles running from mad throngs of screaming women through the streets of London, and smiled.
I stepped into a freezing gust and hurried up the sidewalk, passing drab storefronts darkened by the gloomy afternoon light. A Ford Focus passed by on the street in a splash of puddled rain, its red taillights glowing satanically in the mist.
Ahead, a brave hotdog vendor, possibly a transplanted New Yorker, stood tensely behind his cart, ready to feed the world. He offered me a taste of his wares, and the almost desperate imploring of his voice touched me. Imagining poverty and mounting bills, I bought a small fountain Coke even though I wasn’t thirsty, and almost as soon as I was out of sight I cast the cup into a metal trash bin, the clanking ice cubes within having sapped the heat from my hand.
Slowly the scenery bled into one of the residential. Dirty Brownstone tenements marched dismally into the ashen day, their crumbling stoops guarded by rusted metal sentries overflowing with rank refuse.
I finally came to the small lot where I had left my Jeep in-between a pick-up truck and a hatchback. The latter was gone, replaced by a small red Beetle. I fished the keys from my pocket and opened the driver side door.
Behind the wheel, I started the engine and the radio came to life with one bland Taylor Swift song or another. Before leaving I slipped Krokus’ Change of Address into the CD player, and slowly cruised back the way I had come.
Several minutes later I took a sloping onramp and met the babbling interstate; before I joined the flow I waited for several large Mac trucks to scream by in their shrouds of water mist. The meager Richmond skyline stretched away to the east, interrupted only by the wide river which bisects the city. Maybe it was the mood and light of the afternoon, but the city seemed a deserted necropolis, the buildings bizarre Druid ruins rising black against the sky.
Once on the interstate I noticed that several idiots cars next to mine were busy blabbering into their cell-phones or texting. I’m not the kind of guy who wants to ban this and that, or the kind of asshole who preaches his opinion to everybody, but I know what can happen on a freeway when someone wants to whip out the old Droid and chat.
One girl, with wet black hair and dressed in a loose white t-shirt, flipped me off when I motioned hang up and drive.
Women, I thought with a grin, they taste good…but the heartburn!
I soon took rural Exit 154 and coasted into the parking lot of a small roadside gas station fed by a narrow hillside lane. I pulled under the gas-pump shelter and killed Marc Storace in the middle of Burning up the Night. I searched my hip pocket and checked the directions again. The name of the town was Fairfield, not too far north of the city.
I got out into the damp and filled the jeep up with juice, wincing at the price. With that done, I crossed the open space between the pumps and the store, my hair dampening, and entered.
After waiting for a white man in a mossy oak camo cap to buy a six pack of Bud Ice and a black woman to purchase a pack of condoms and tampons (an ungodly mix, if you ask me), it came my turn. The wispy old man behind the counter, wearing country regulation suspenders over his button up work shirt, studied me for a long moment.
“Hey, you’re that writer fella, aintcha?” he asked with a rough smile, revealing that his teeth were mostly black or tarnished gold.
Despite a swelling of pride in my chest, I wanted desperately to avoid an embarrassing scene.
“No.”
“Hm. You look a lot like ‘im. She loves all that damn ghost huntin’ garbage.”
I paid for the gas, and the old man wished me a good afternoon with a crooked grin.
Once back in my car, I again studied the directions, trying to absorb them so that I wouldn’t have to constantly consult them in transit.
Feeling confident that I could make it on my own, I started up the engine and followed the ascending byway toward Fairfield.
I soon left behind all urban pretense and found myself speeding through low hills and tiny hamlets made up of slanted wood structures decades past their prime. It had begun to rain more steadily. Crossing the murky Roman River, I saw that it had overflowed its banks.
The winding lane took me past yet more hilly farmland enclosed by strands of barbed wire, putting me slightly in mind of northern England. When I came to the outer limits of Fairfield, which sat across another, smaller, swollen river, I was greeted by a white board sign proclaiming it as The Nicest Town in America.
Main Street, lined with gray brick shops dating from the 1920s, sank down into the rest of the town, from which a white church spire rose into the air, and a blue water tower next to a tall brick schoolhouse loomed supernaturally forth from the thick valley mist. The sidewalk boasted fiery trees, the embers of which carpeted the wet concrete.
At the four-way intersection, the only cars that I met were a station wagon going to the east part of town, a minivan heading back the way I had come, and an SUV going down into the heart of the town, which lied spread before the hill like a fog enshrouded dream.
I took the left and followed the street for a time, passing a small doctor’s office and the police station. The big roll-top doors of the local volunteer fire department were open, and I glimpsed several men in the gloom lazily wiping down the sleeping green dragon within. A group of children struggled down the sidewalk with crammed backpacks dragging along the wet pavement. A boy on a ten-speed bike shot past them and hung a sharp right, taking a small dead-end road ending at the foot of the hill. In the rear view mirror a large yellow school grinded to a halt, the red lights on its mounted stop sign blinking rhythmically. Teenagers tumbled out and hurried across.
Lee Street was an odd mix of ranch and Victorian houses, all beautiful and tastefully enclosed by hedges or withering gardens. A few of the larger homes were sectioned off with low stone walls waist high to a man.
The last house on the left was tall and narrow, dating back at least to the latter half of the 1890s. With spires and gingerbread trim it affected a stately air.
I parked along the street and sat for a moment, memories washing over me. I and Henry had come here several summers during our childhood. Being unable to have children, Jo and Oscar doted on us so much it was almost cloying. They were rabid antique collectors, and spent thirty happy years hoarding history together before Flight 93 went down over Pennsylvania on the eleventh of September, 2001.
I killed the engine and got out into a brisk slap of wind. After waiting for a minivan to swoosh past, I crossed the street. The grass along the flagstone walk was encroachingly tall, and I wondered if Henry’s ghost had hidden his lawnmower.
I bounded up the porch and knocked on the door. I waited in the cold for a moment, a wind from the west raking my flesh. Finally, as I cocked my fist to knock again, the door opened, and was filled with Henry, dressed as he had been at the bookstore.
“Hey, man” he greeted and moved aside.
“Long time no see,” I smiled. Stepping across the threshold, I was immediately struck by the heaviness of the atmosphere, crushing down on me like the world upon Atlas’s shoulders. I staggered, and Henry at one grabbed my arm and helped steady me.
“Uh-oh,” he said, “I don’t like that.”
“I’m fine,” I lied, looking suspiciously about myself, “just tired.” I didn’t at once remember what such a black heft meant, but I did know that it wasn’t good. At all.
“Well, if you wanna go back…”
“Nah,” I dismissed, “I’m alright.”
“Okay,” Henry said and led me from the shadowy foyer and into a wide parlor. A large bay window, an ugly modern addition, sat across the room, uncurtained. Save for tall, dusty bookshelves along either wall, the only other furnishings in the room were a couch piled with tangled blankets and a pillow, and two armchairs.
Henry showed me to one of the chairs and took the one across from me.
“So, what’s up? How’s life treating you?”
I sighed. “Alright. I hate the touring, though. I can’t stand being on the road.”
“Ah,” he dismissed me with a wave of the hand, “you always were a little homebody. I love the open road. Nothing like it. You want a drink?”
I nodded.
“Coke,” he warned me.
“Better be.”
He laughed and moved off to the kitchen, leaving me alone in the room. The dark feeling pressed down on me harder than it had been, compressing my chest. I tried to take a deep breath, but was unable. It was like standing on a high butte overlooking a strange plain in a dark world, the air thin and sour.
Henry returned with two Cokes. He handed me one and sat back down. “Sorry they’re not cold. I just bought ‘em on the way back.”
“That’s fine,” I said, opening mine and taking a long drink. Henry sat his between his legs.
“I saw you on Ghost Hunters last month,” he said with something like pride, “I was over at my old girlfriend’s house and when your mug popped out, I about went crazy. “Hey, I know that guy!””
My appearance on the popular SYFY Channel show had been little more than a publicity stunt engineered by my agent. I was against it from the first, but ending up going on anyway. The target was a 13th Century castle on an Irish bluff overlooking the crashing sea. Supposedly, a family of werewolves had lived there in the sixteen hundreds.
“They’re a sham,” I said, glancing around as if expecting a hostile apparition to materialize. Maybe I was.
“Who?”
“Those attention whores,” I said, referring to the ‘ghost hunters’. “There weren’t any ghosts. It was all faked. The noises. The mist. All of it.
“I figured,” Henry said, “they usually are.”
“I guess,” I looked around.
“Yeah.” Henry finished off his Coke and sat the empty can at his foot.
“So, what have you been doing?” I asked, “just hanging out?”
“Yeah,” he said, “aunt Jo and uncle Oscar weren’t rich. They had money, but not much. The way the recession’s going, I’m probably gonna have to go back to work soon.”
“Sometimes I wish I could just stop writing and investigating and all that and just live off my books’ proceeds,” I confided, “live the life without doing the work.”
Henry chuckled. “You’re lucky; you got a kick-ass job. I’m most likely gonna end up at Food-Lion or something.”
“Gotta start somewhere,” I said. “Maybe we can write a novel together.”
Both of us had tried as children to write our own horror stories. Henry’s were mostly better than mine.
“Maybe,” he seemed to taste the idea.
I opened my mouth to reply, but a stiff gust of wind slammed into the house, and I jolted.
Henry laughed. “Scared?”
I shook my head. “No, not really. I just…well, what exactly are we dealing with, here?”
Henry sobered, his face darkening. “I…I been thinking how to word this for a while now.” He paused. “You ever hear that phrase La petite mort?”
I missed a beat. “What?”
“You know, that French metaphor? It refers to a state of euphoria after you “finish.””
“Yeah, I know.”
Henry sat grasping for a moment. “People believe that some kind of spiritual lifeforce is…expelled when you cum. Somehow that’s like dying or something.”
“Uh-huh,” I nodded awkwardly.
“And in Ghosts and Ghouls, you said that some people think a ghost is just…leftover human energy. Right?”
“The atheists and agnostics in the field, yes.”
“Do you think it’s possible that…that release of energy can leave a…a ghostly residue?”
I laughed. “Henry, that’s just a metaphor; it doesn’t mean anything.”
“Are you sure?”
I opened my mouth, but closed it again. I couldn’t honestly say that I was.
“What…what makes you ask that?”
“It’s my bed,” he replied darkly.
“Your bed?”
He nodded. “Remember Sarah Kerns?”
For a moment I drew a blank, and then an angular face framed in raven hair materialized before my mind’s eye.
“Sure,” I said, “your girlfriend in eighth grade. What about her?”
“Remember how she moved over the summer, before we started high school?”
I nodded. Her father was in some kind of business that forced him to relocate often. I can’t remember what it was, though.
“The night before she left, she came over to my house and we did it...”
“Alright,” I urged, and then it dawned on me. “You still have the same bed, don’t you?”
He shrugged. “Never saw a good reason to get rid of it.”
“And you’ve…done a lot in it, huh?”
“A lot,” he admitted.
“And now you think…what, all that combined energy has created a sort of ghost?”
“Look, I know it’s crazy, but just hear me out, okay?”
“Okay.”
Henry took a deep breath and began.
Several weeks before crying out to me for help, he told me, he had been lying awake in bed. It was a windy night and he was as far from sleep as a man can get, so, as he watched the darkened ceiling, he let his mind drift unfettered. He had always had a fertile imagination, and was entertaining himself with undisclosed fantasies when, all of a sudden, the foot of the bed lurched to one side, as though booted by an angry WWE star after an in-ring betrayal.
“Man, that scared the shit outta me,” Henry said. “I froze up and just laid there for a minute. Then it happened again, and this time I got knocked off.”
Frightened, Henry jumped up, fell in the sheets tangled at his feet, and flew down the stairs.
“I sat here in the living room for a little while. After a half hour or so, I decided it was a nightmare and went back up. In the room, I flipped on the light switch and…”
He was quiet for a long moment, looking down at his ashen hands. “And there was a fuckin dead girl spread out on the bed, covered in blood and shit.”
I gasped softly at this, my heart freezing in mid beat.
“You’re sure?” I asked incredulously.
He nodded without looking up. “Yeah. And she looked like Hanna Giles…you remember her, right?”
I did. She was a cheerleader during school, a tall drink of blond perfection. She and Henry spent much of the 11th grade getting hot and heavy together before he grew bored and found another conquest.
“And…and she…sat up, her fuckin eyes were black and she had these long Dracula fangs. She opened up her legs and…fucking blood gushed out.”
He stopped at my hiss of horror. “It looked like…you know, in The Shinning, when that elevator opens up in the beginning?”
I nodded, my mouth slightly agape.
“I saw that shit and lost my mind. I ran out the front door and down the street. Spent the rest of the night in a booth at the diner, too afraid to come home.”
In the morning, Henry stretched out in the parlor.
“I was having dinner the next day. A buffalo chicken Hungry Man. So, I was sitting at the kitchen table eating, when something above my head, in the room, crashed against the floor. And right after, I heard this long, high pitched laugh.”
Stiff with terror, Henry remained unmoving at the table for nearly an hour before packing up and going to a motel for a few days.
“I was starting to think it was a nightmare, but when that shit happened…”
Henry eventually returned, convinced that the “ghosts”, while frightening, were harmless.
“So, one night, I got brave and went back upstairs to see what would happen.”
After several uneventful hours, Henry was on the border of sleep when something, something cold and dry, wrapped around his throat.
“It felt like hands, little…you know, a woman’s hands.”
The world grayed as Henry clawned at the phantom hands to no avail. He nearly collapsed into death before they suddenly and inexplicably spared him.
“That was the other night. I was about to leave, go get a motel or something, but I heard you were coming down, so I thought I’d see if you could help me.”
For a long moment I sat in brooding silence.
In 1999, I left school to work for a noted regional paranormal researcher named John Haggis. I accompanied him on many outings, most of them busts. Only three confirmed cases of the genuinely supernatural came across our desk in the three years I worked with him, one of them being the demonic haunting of a bar in Headwaters, a tiny hamlet nestled in the Shenandoah foothills southwest of Harrisonburg.
I learned several things from our experience there. One: Demons despise the presence of a professional. Two: While ghosts can, on extremely rare occasions, possess human beings, only demons can shapeshift and actually harm someone without the use of a human agent.
“Have…have you ever smelled sulfur here?” I asked, my voice natural, at least to my own ears.
“Rotten eggs? No, why?”
“You’ve been left alone outside the room, right?”
“Yeah. What about the sulfur?” he seemed impatient.
I ignored him and looked from one shadowy corner to another, the house bathed in a sour, uneasy silence. I was shocked to find myself wanting to get as away from the house as I could.
“Henry,” I drew, my eyes darting apprehensively, “there…”
I stopped. How would he take hearing that a demon was in his house? But was it really a demon we were dealing with? I couldn’t be sure; I’m not, after all, a demonologist.
“What?” he asked, his tone low and worried.
If it was, then it appeared to be attached to the bed somehow, like a ghost to a favorite rocking chair…
“…I doubt that your ghost is made of girl goo.” I at length flashed a smile, hoping that it didn’t look too fake. “I’ve heard of similar cases, and they are relatively easy to deal with.”
“Really?” Henry’s face brightened for the first time all day, and his tone was one of a child in the presence of a shyster birthday-party magician.
“Yeah,” I said, “no problem. Tomorrow I’ll call some people and they’ll conduct…sort of an exorcism. It’ll be a breeze.”
Henry sighed, relieved. “Okay.”
I looked again from corner to corner. “Hey, you want to go and get some dinner, my treat?”
Henry smiled again, his dark eyes alight. “Sure.”
We took my car, and drove off into the thickening gloom. Main Street was busier than it had been when I entered town; it was past six, and people were returning home from work in droves.
“Take a left up here,” Henry said as we approached the four-way, “and go for about…five miles. Place called Ryan’s.”
I nodded, lost in thought. I would have to call Tom Youngblood, the only demonologist in the Richmond area, in the morning. And maybe I would have to call the Catholic Church in town, too. Then again, the church has tried in recent years to distance itself from the supernatural.
I took the left, and descended down into the heart of Fairfield. Queerly, about a mile of hillside between the upper and lower sections had been left undeveloped, and was currently a hopeless tangle of dead grass.
“Man, I feel like a weight’s been lifted,” Henry said as we passed the dark shops and rain sluiced sidewalks, empty save for the phantom trees along the edge. “You can really do all of this tomorrow?”
“Yeah,” I said confidently. I took a deep breath, and seemed to blow away all of the mounting worry crushing my chest. I only had to call Tom and a priest, and they would take it from there. They were experts. It might not be an easy break, but it would get done. Demons were actually weak in the presence of religious men; which is why I abandoned my former atheism.
“Good. I can’t wait to get this shit behind me. It’s been a living hell, you know?”
I nodded, and then realized that it was probably too dark for Henry to see. “Yeah, I bet it’ll feel really good.”
“Like a million bucks,” Henry said.
“And…get rid of the damn bed. I don’t think that what we’re dealing with is…what you thought, but just burn it. It’s possible that the ghost is attached to it for some reason.”
“Way ahead of you, man,” Henry said. “I’m gonna go down to Mattress Warehouse and get me a new one tomorrow.”
At the end of town, just before the beginning of the dark, wet woods, I slowed at the traffic light, pulling to a stop alongside a school bus; the small lights affixed to the ceiling within were on against the dark. I saw a few dark silhouettes through the rectangular windows, and ascertained from their distorted shapes that they belonged to the high school’s football team.
“And…don’t have all your fun in one place, okay?” I said as we got back underway, the bus falling behind in the darkness.
“I ain’t gonna have that kinda fun for a long time.”
“Yeah, bullshit,” I jested in hopes of further lightening the mood, “you can’t go a week without having sex with someone…or something.”
Henry chuckled. “Yeah? I once went a month without doin your mom.”
“She needed that long to stop laughing at your…handicap.”
Henry laughed. “Okay. Just wait till we get there; take you in the bathroom and show you what’s up.”
I snorted. “What’s limp.”
“It won’t be limp when I shove it down…”
The restaurant, a sparkling oasis cloaked in primal black, loomed so quickly from the darkness that I nearly missed the turn.
“Alright,” Henry said after I had slid us into a slanted parking spot facing the empty road, his penis forgotten, “let’s get some grub.”
“You look like a German Jew,” I said as we got out of the car, “you need a good meal.”
“Yeah, thanks, mom,” Henry said as we crossed the parking lot. Through the big front windows, we could see happy families sharing joyful meals in the warm brightness.
We came to the double doors, and both held them open for the shuffling passage of an elderly couple. “Thank you,” the old man rasped and nodded as he helped his wife past us and toward a silver Cadillac parked in one of the closest handicap spots. They were immediately followed by two teenage girls in gym shorts and pink tops.
“What is it with kids dressing like that when it’s cold?” I whispered as we entered the restaurant, assaulted at once by the good odors of many steaming, mingling foods.
“If you got it flaunt it,” Henry reckoned.
We walked up to the long lunch counter and took cups, silverware and plastic trays from a hotplate guarded from inconsiderate sneezers by smudged plastic. We waited behind a party of rowdy college students to pay the casher.
We paid the chipper blond behind the register and were shown by a young sleepy eyed man in a red t-shirt and black slacks to a booth along the far wall of the room, mercifully away from the main population. Henry was immediately off to fix himself a plate at the buffet.
I sat at the booth for a moment, looking around the brightly lit room. It was crowded with families, mostly, passing food and laughing over their tables.
After another moment of inventorying how many people I would have to pass to get to the drink machine, I got up and moved to the Coke island. Apart from the dispenser there sat a plain metal canister marked with the picture of a tall, frosty glass of chocolate milk looming forward like a favorite uncle. I considered for a moment, and finally decided to get the milk, the likes of which I haven’t tasted since I was a child.
As I drew the dark liquid into my clear cup, a beefy older man in a brown leather jacket walked unthinkingly up to the machine and filled his cup with Sprite, all the while gasping softly to himself about someone named Mony-Mony.
Sidestepping a yellow WET FLOOR sign at the head of a nasty spill, I went back to the booth where Henry sat, bent protectively over a plate of fried chicken and breaded shrimp. I took my plate and quickly filled it up with French fries, several times nearly colliding with a young boy in small glasses examining each bright pile of food as if he would die if he did not detect the poison on his choices. At the booth I splattered a liberal amount of Tabasco sauce on the golden potatoes and dug in, my chocolate milk standing dutifully by should I need its aid.
“Remember Donny West?” Henry asked around a mouthful of food. I nodded. Donny had been one of our friends as kids before his mother moved the family to West Virginia. A beefy kid with red hair and deep freckles.
“Yeah. How can I forget?”
“He died.”
“What?” I asked, a bit of fry falling from my mouth and landing on the plate.
Henry nodded and swallowed. “I talked to his sister on Facebook, and she said he was drinking and wrecked his car into a tree a couple years ago. Took two of his friends with him.”
“That’s horrible,” I said numbly. Though I had not seen Donny in years, to hear that a once close friend was dead broke my heart.
“You remember what he did on April Fool’s Day that one time?” I asked Henry after a long, respectful moment of silence.
Henry nodded. “He had balls to do that.”
Donny, much more a practical joker than even Henry, had run the Stars and Bars of the Confederacy up the flag pole before school started that day. What made it even funnier were the facts that no one even noticed until lunch, and that the school sat right on the main highway in Picketts Meade.
“Yeah,” I sighed, black, cancerous nostalgia flooding me. “The good old days.”
We then lapsed into a comfortable silence. After savagely stripping the meat from a chicken bone, Henry wandered off to treat himself to a cold dessert. I finished the last of my fries and polished off the chocolate milk, my burning mouth greedily absorbing the cool liquid.
After a return trip to the machine, meeting once again the boy who had been diligently studying for his buffet safety PhD (he wasn’t quiet as conscientious when it came to Coca-Cola), I placed myself in my seat and awaited Henry. He soon returned empty-handed.
“They all sucked,” he declared.
I did not reply, but suddenly realized that the ice cream machine was next to the soda and chocolate milk fountains.
Suddenly, from across the room, there came a loud racket, drawling the puzzled stares of patrons in the gulf between walls. From a door came a line of people dressed in red shirts and black pants. The person at the head of the rank, a rather fetching teen goth with long midnight hair and a generous bosom, held something in her hands, something aflame, for her strong angler face was awash in orange. The Ryan’s troops behind her were clapping.
With mortification I saw them making a B-line toward our table like a personified children’s show choo-choo. Now all of the bemused eaters were looking toward me and Henry.
“You bastard,” I said, turning to Henry. He was smiling and clapping flourishingly. I broke out in my own grin, my cheeks afire. “Oh you son of a bitch; real funny.”
The Ryan’s Birthday Army now surrounded my half of the booth, leering over me like grinning psychos and clapping madly. I hung my head in embarrassment as they sat a flaming birthday cake on the table before me. “Bastard,” I muttered, lowering my head, realizing that now all of the other patrons too were looking at me and clapping.
Then the singing started.
I could just imagine Henry going up to our hostess and stage whispering across the counter, his hand shielding his mouth from prying lip readers, Pissst; it’s his birthday, pointing in my direction.
Bastard.
***
Coming out of the Ryan’s parking lot nearly half an hour later, I took a right on the rain swept street and followed it back to town past several large comfortable southern homes boasting screened in front porches and spotlighted flags. Most of these were protected from the street by rusted chin link fences.
We were silent and content, our stomachs full.
Finally desirous of breaking the silence, but too stuffed with food and lazy to speak, I switched on the radio, picking up a station from southern Maryland. After a “local” newscast about a New York mobster choking to death in a King George pizza joint and the discovery of a well-known radical poet shot dead in a D.C. parking garage, Cyndi Lauper came on with Girls Just Wanna Have Fun.
“Your song,” Henry croaked from the passenger seat.
I changed the station. The Culture Club was singing about a Church of the Poisoned Mind.
“Damn, must be your night,” Henry snickered from the darkness.
“Shut up,” I replied, hitting the scan button; the radio settled for a station playing a Seether song.
Henry laughed. “I meant you like eighties music. I wasn’t trying to say you’re gay…not that there’s anything wrong with that.”
Pulling to the end of Henry’s street, I noticed that we had left none of the lights on when we departed; the thought of waltzing through the door into the pitch black slightly uneased me.
I thought of asking Henry to stay with me at the Marriot in Richmond rather than me staying with him, but quickly decided against it; we’d be safe in the parlor.
Putting down my own childish reluctance, I parked the car at the curb and killed the engine, shutting Kanye West off in mid-rant.
We entered the house and immediately repaired to the parlor, where Henry took care of stoking a warm fire into existence.
That done, he came back to his chair and sank with a pleasured sigh. “So, you gonna write about this?”
To be honest, the thought hadn’t crossed my mind. “Maybe,” I said. Of course I would. Would it make it into my next book? It had a better chance than some of the other cases I had. People love their supernatural when it’s really weird.
“Well…” Henry said, but was interrupted by a terrible crash from overhead, which shook the house and caused us to jerk in surprised fear.
“There it is,” he shivered.
Another long bang sounded upstairs, as if something had thumped to the floor.
I swallowed around a lump in my throat, and opened my mouth, but was forestalled by another loud crash, this one followed by a stomach-piercing moan.
“Maybe we should go,” I stammered, a sudden bubble of stark fear overwhelming my cool rationality.
Henry licked his lips and swallowed hard, his Adam’s apple bobbing.
I looked appraisingly up at the smooth ceiling above my head, partly hidden by the gloom. There was another thump that stopped my heart and froze my blood. A shower of fine plaster rained down upon me like hard snow, and I quickly averted my eyes to avoid it.
“Henry?” I panted breathlessly, wrestling with my own galloping fear.
“Fuck this,” Henry affirmed and moved to stand, “let’s…”
Henry had been whispering, as if worried about disturbing his inconsiderate guest, so I was able to hear the soft, terrible footfall. It was as if an electric shock ran through me, reducing my bones to jelly.
I heard it again, louder this time.
Henry’s eyes were wide. “Was that…?” he whispered superstitiously.
I gulped and nodded. “It sounded like it…
From the dark upstairs hall there came a soft, fugitive creak. Henry was now fully standing, his wiry body tense and rigid.
“Hennnryyyyyy!” drifted a thin and ghostly greeting.
“Jesus Christ!” I exclaimed, and bolted to my feet. I turned to the dark threshold into the rest of the hostile house, and saw nothing but playing shadows.
“Hennnryyyy, baaaabyyyyyyy!”
I spun on my heels. “We have to get the hell out of here!” I whispered incoherently, my mind reeling. There was no hope of using the front door. We would have to pass the stairs…
Henry stood slack in place, his eyes wide and seeming to vibrate with terror.
There was a more confident footfall from halfway down the staircase, and a definite swish like that of a passing priest’s cassock.
“Come on!” I screamed, my fear boiling over. I desperately regarded the window beyond Henry’s chair. It appeared wide enough for both of us to escape side-by-side.
I grabbed Henry’s wrist, but pulling him was like trying to move a wooden post set deeply in the ground.
“Come on, we gotta go, NOW!!” I screamed franticly, hearing the loud moan of the last step. Henry shook his head as if shaking away a dream and looked at me with frightened, pleading eyes. But before a word could pass between us he turned back to the threshold.
And screamed.
Hearing the horrible, damned-soul quality of his voice broke my resolve and nearly my mind. It was the high-pitched shriek of a child on finally seeing the thing under its bed and finding it far worse than imagined; it was the scream of a sinner being shown into his new abode in hell; it was the pitiful cry of a madman.
Fueled by mindless animal terror, I sprang for the window.
Forearms thrown protectively over my face, I crashed through with a cry, and sailed into the damp night in a shower of broken glass, my stomach throbbing in my throat. I hit the grassy ground with an umph and staggered to my feet, my knees watery and quivering.
Behind me, the laughter of madness turned into the orgasm of agony.
submitted by Jrubas to nosleep [link] [comments]


2020.08.28 12:58 wayemason New Enewsletter - Centre Plan R1 compared to ER1, secondary suites public hearing, Coronavirus Update #35, more

New Enewsletter - Centre Plan R1 compared to ER1, secondary suites public hearing, Coronavirus Update #35, more
Some folks have been getting emails or seeing social media posts that seem to show big changes proposed in the R1 zones in the Centre Plan. I’m going to try and show what is changing and what is not, but really what I think is surprising to the people who have called me is how permissive the rules are on the peninsula already.
Right now the R1 zone in the Peninsula Land Use Bylaw, South End Detail Area Plan (adopted around 1982) allows these uses:
  • Up to three-unit conversion in some areas if the home has not changed envelop since 1982
  • Daycare Up to 14 kids
  • Special Care home up to 10 people including staff
  • Office and/or home occupation
  • Boarding house up to 3 boarders (unregistered)
  • Boarding house up to bedroom limit if registered
  • Bed and Breakfast up to 3 bedrooms
  • Chicken keeping no limits or controls
If adopted the ER1 zone in the Centre Plan would allow:
  • Up to three-unit conversion in some areas (I am suggesting the same date of 1982 has to be used)
  • Secondary suite or backyard suite (up to 5.5 meters, or 18') permitted on most lots (has to meet the rules for a garage)
  • If backyard suite is built, maximum conversion drops from 3 units to 2 units
  • Daycare Up to 14 people (including staff) if owner-occupied
  • Small shared housing use (more info on this below)
  • Local commercial on corners on the ground floor (I have already said this has to go in my opinion)
  • Office and/or home occupation
  • Bed and Breakfast up to 3 bedrooms
  • Urban farms, beekeeping, chicken keeping (up to 10 hens per lot, no roosters)
Shared Housing Use is proposed for a dwelling unit that contains 4 or more bedrooms that:
  1. are rented for remuneration as separate units for residential accommodation;
  2. provide medical care for the occupants of the dwelling unit, such as nursing care;
  3. are licensed under the Homes for Special Care Act; or
  4. are operated by a non-profit organization or a registered Canadian charitable organization that provides support services to the occupants of the dwelling unit.
A shared housing use does not include: a multi-unit dwelling use, a hotel use, a bed and breakfast use, or any other tourist accommodation as defined under the Tourist Accommodation Registration Act.
Under proposed Package B – the scale of share housing uses in ER zones is controlled by:
  • Defining and only allowing ‘small shared housing uses’ - containing up to 10 bedrooms;
  • Ensuring shared housing uses are subject to the same building form, setback and lot requirements;
  • Prohibiting shared housing and some uses from locating on the same lot (i.e. can’t have both shared housing and home daycare etc. ) (LUB section 61); and
  • Including small shared housing in the max bedroom count requirements – as copied below.
And critical to make sure houses are not turned into off-campus dorms is the Maximum Bedroom Counts in Low-Density Dwellings. The following limits on the total number of bedrooms apply to all low-density dwelling uses in ER-3, ER-2, and ER-1 zones, including small shared housing, uses, as follows:
  1. single-unit dwelling use: 6 bedrooms per lot;
  2. semi-detached dwelling use: 4 bedrooms per unit;
  3. townhouse dwelling use: 4 bedrooms per unit;
  4. two-unit dwelling use: 4 bedrooms per unit;
  5. three-unit dwelling use: 9 bedrooms per lot; and
  6. four-unit dwelling use: 10 bedrooms per lot.
All bedrooms in a secondary suite use or a backyard suite use shall be counted toward the bedroom limits.
New info sheets on backyard/granny suites are coming in September, and a clearer comparison between R1, R2, and ER1, ER2 and ER3 is being prepared for the public ER stakeholder presentation posted on-line does make a few side by side comparisons. Please see the follow link, slides 14-17. https://www.shapeyourcityhalifax.ca/1041/widgets/5965/documents/28938
So that is a lot of detail, and of course, Centre Plan Package B is far from being adopted, due to COVID delaying the public engagement. So I want to hear from you!
I think there is a lot of merit to this clearer approach to the residential zones, and the changes are minimal for District 7, given how permissive the detailed area plans already are. I also like the backyard and granny suite options if it does not go on top of allowed unit counts. [ Email me your thoughts.](mailto:[email protected])
Due to the diligent work by Lorelei Nicoll, Cole Harbour Councillor and Chair of the Transportation Standing Committee, in-ground crosswalk signs are being tested at five school crosswalk locations. Staff describes them this way:
In-ground crosswalk signs are intended to enhance the conspicuity of school crosswalk locations. The idea behind the development of these types of signs is that signs in the street are more noticeable than signs on the side of the road.
The in-ground crosswalk signs are currently being implemented in the Halifax region on a trial basis at five school crosswalk locations through the Strategic Road Safety Plan. This trial period will test the durability of the signs when left in place for long periods of time, and determine whether they can withstand impacts by snowplows and other vehicles.
If the results of the trial are favourable, the signs may be considered for other school crosswalk locations where there is a demonstrated need.
I saw these in Portland Maine four years ago, and have been a fan ever since. Thank you Lorelei for championing this, more speed radar signs and more rapid flashing beacon installations like the one that was installed this month at Preston/Jubilee.

Public Hearings

Public Hearing - Accessory Dwelling Units All Residential Areas of HRM (Secondary and Backyard Suites) Tuesday, September 1, 6 pm and Thursday, September 3, 6 pm as needed Virtual Hearing
On September 1, 2020 at 6:00 p.m. (and Thursday, September 3, 2020 at 6:00 p.m. if more time is needed) Halifax Regional Council will hold a virtual public hearing on allowing Secondary and Backyard Suites (also called accessory dwelling units) in all residential areas of HRM.
WHAT ARE SECONDARY AND BACKYARD SUITES?
Secondary suites - are separate dwelling units that are completely contained within a home. They are often referred to as in-law suites or basement apartments.
Backyard suites - are separate free-standing buildings, either built overtop an accessory structure like a garage, or simply on their own. They are often referred to as granny suites, carriage flats and could be in the form of a tiny house.
Secondary and Backyard suites can be used by aging parents or adult children or can be used as rental units for the general public. The diagram below shows typical arrangements on a residential property.
https://preview.redd.it/hm93sw4k5qj51.png?width=644&format=png&auto=webp&s=3685b6b3663f573d6d94906479be2d1aff8587ef
Residents who wish to participate in the public hearing may forward a written submission no later than 3:00 p.m. on September 1, 2020 or register to speak no later than 4:30 p.m. on Monday, August 31, 2020.
Detailed information regarding the proposed changes and how to participate can be found here: https://www.shapeyourcityhalifax.ca/allowing-secondary-suites-as-a-permitted-use
Halifax Regional Council Tuesday, September 1, 2020, 10 am Virtual Meeting https://www.halifax.ca/city-hall/agendas-meetings-reports?category=140
Halifax and West Community Council Tuesday, September 8, 6pm Virtual Public Hearing https://www.halifax.ca/city-hall/agendas-meetings-reports?category=140
Halifax Regional Council Tuesday, September 22, 2020, 10 am Virtual Meeting https://www.halifax.ca/city-hall/agendas-meetings-reports?category=140
Halifax Peninsula Planning Advisory Committee Monday, September 28, 2020, 4:30 pm Virtual Meeting https://www.halifax.ca/city-hall/agendas-meetings-reports?category=140
Halifax Regional Council Tuesday, September 29, 2020, 10 am Virtual Meeting https://www.halifax.ca/city-hall/agendas-meetings-reports?category=140

Community Events

Halifax to Beirut Fundraiser I can’t bear to edit this amazing email, so here it is: My name is Jaden Lawen and I am a 17-year-old student from Halifax. I am writing to you today with the hope that you will consider donating to a Lebanese relief fund that I have initiated in partnership with the Red Cross. My initiative was put together out of my desire to help all the people affected by the catastrophic blast. My website is linked with more information and donations can be made directly on the website. In the last 5 days, I have raised over $40,000 and I am asking you for help to make this number grow. Thank you for your consideration! https://halifaxtobeirutwithlove.ca/
Taking BLK Gottingen August 29 Sat 12:00 noon Gottingen Street Gottingen Street is being taken over by local Black Businesses inside of various Gottingen Street business locations. These businesses will offer food, fashion, wellness products and more. Come experience the North End, celebrate its diversity and support all of our African Nova Scotian entrepreneurs https://www.facebook.com/events/743763263057213
Live Statue Friday, September 4, 2:00pm Halifax Public Gardens At 2:00 PM and 3:00 PM a Live Statue will pose for one half hour as Diana, Roman Goddess https://www.facebook.com/events/220574529363962/
Victoria Park Labyrinth Victoria Park at Spring Garden Sundays until October 4 (unless it is raining). Every Sunday afternoon a labyrinth is being set up at Victoria Park on the grass for anyone who wishes to walk it. It is a place to let go of daily preoccupations, to consciously be present. It is a project supported by the Cathedral Church of All Saints but offered to the community.
A little background might be in order. During the tumultuous and painful events of the past several months - COVID-19, Portapique, the protests following the murder of George Floyd, the healing walks held for Chantal Moore and other missing and murdered Indigenous peoples, and so much more, it became increasingly apparent that we are not separate entities -what happens to one has a ripple effect on others.
With so many people in distress, and isolation easing somewhat, the labyrinth is being set up weekly to provide a means to counteract stress and anxiety. Here, we are able to breathe, walk, relax, meditate, pray. It is a place of welcome for all. Labyrinths are universal across cultures and faiths (or no faiths) and are tools for meditation, for mindfulness, for healing, for wellness.
We chose Victoria Park for its proximity to hospitals, universities and shopping areas in an area where many people travel on foot. It is a tranquil location under a canopy of trees that provides shade and promotes an awareness of creation. In this space of harmony, we are able to renew ourselves. It is also a place to listen to the stories of others, to perhaps be more ok with being “uncomfortable” with new viewpoints, ideas.
We are distancing, allowing one person or "household" group on the labyrinth at one time, using masks, if needed, for conversation. We ask people to remove their shoes to protect the labyrinth.

Coronavirus Update #36 – post-secondary update, HRCE school facility rental update

I know a lot of residents are concerned about both out of bubble students as well as the potential for COVID transmission at parties and gatherings.
From what I’ve seen the universities all have the same messaging and it is very strong.
Out of Province and testing As you have heard in the news students from out of province will have to isolate for 14 days and be tested for COVID three times.
Students will receive the email with their clinic date/times locations etc as attached from the booking office with what they need to do.
If a student requires support to get to and from the clinic (lives off-campus, outside of walking/cycling distance) they will respond to the email that they require transportation support. Some students for short radius may walk or cycle, those beyond will have a cab provided, transit use is not permitted.
The messaging is clear on the expectations while in isolation, and what is not permitted.
Social Gatherings and Parties Public health rules and directions apply to students. For example:
  • Everyone must stay 2 metres / 6 feet apart unless they are in the same household or a close social group of up to 10 people
  • Masks must be worn on public transportation:
    • municipal transit buses and ferries
    • school buses
    • motorcoaches (except those that provide charters or tours)
    • transit vehicles o private taxis and shuttles
  • Masks must be worn in most indoor public places – on campus, that means public areas such as the library, student union building or common areas of a faculty building, but not classrooms, labs, offices or residences.
Full student info sheet here: https://novascotia.ca/coronavirus/docs/COVID-19_post-secondary_fact_sheet.pdf
So there should be no ragers as we may sometimes see during the back to school period, but students will still be able to gather 10 at a time with the same folks per these rules.
If you feel a gathering is exceeding these guidelines please report it to the Halifax Regional Police via police non-emergency 902.490.5020.
No use of HRCE School Facilities Nova Scotia’s Back to School plan has several, layered public health measures in place when students and staff return to school. This includes limiting the number of outside visitors in school building. The plan also states that, “Use of schools after hours by other organizations will be limited.”
To support the plan and protect our shared health, the Halifax Regional Centre for Education will not accommodate external evening bookings of school facilities for the period between September 2020 and December 2020, we will reassess through the fall and work with our recreation partners to create a plan for safe access to the schools. We look forward to welcoming groups back into our facilities when it is safe to resume this practice.
submitted by wayemason to halifax [link] [comments]


2020.08.26 19:06 GiveTheDucc [TECH] produk 29 [101] (redux mix)

ref
As the war against Dakota continues, West-Tek has begun a renewed front into upgraded versions of its rather lackluster first edition of power armour. Combined with innovations and breakthroughs from SEGU, West-Tek is preparing for a frankly terrifying second generation of its power armour.

EXO-0XIII (Zero-Thirteen) "Titan"

The EXO-0XIII "Titan" armour is the product of a combination of the design philosophies of the EXO-0V "Juggernaut" and EXO-1XI "Terminator" suits, which is to say, this suit (due to an increased power supply) is capable of taking lots of punishment and increasing strength to ludicrous levels. Some utility items from the EXO-2IV "Ranger" have also made their way into the Titan, at the behest of concerned parties. The result is the epitome of power armour, with room still for future improvement.

Stats

Statistic Metric
Running Speed 30 km/h
Lifting Strength 750 kg
Jump Height 1 meter
Longfall Survival 20 meters
Armour Strength 20,000 J
Battery Life (Li-Air) 2 weeks
Cost per Suit $250k

Features

Feature Description
Night Vision/Infrared The suit has the ability to toggle between standard, night vision, and infrared sights. Activated by a dial on the left side of the helmet.
Helmet & Tanks Survivability in hazardous gas, sandstorms, underwater, and high altitudes.
Homeostasis Suit has an internal heatecooler, allowing the wearer to survive for a longer period in temperatures between -30°C and 60°C.
Heads-up Display Battery life, electrical problems, as well as maps, (very) short-range radar, internet-connectivity, radio communication via headset, and objective marking (for commanders).

EXO-2VII (Two-Seven) "Lucky"

Pictured: the EXO-2VII general frame. Does not include the omnidirectional grappling gear.
The EXO-2VII "Lucky" is the evolution of the experimental EXO-2IV "Ranger" armour, and boasts slightly improved damage resistance, but, more importantly, includes a new innovation on the part of West-Tek: fully integrated AI support systems. With the extreme mobility of the Ranger in its arsenal, the Lucky is poised to dominate urban combat.
Statistic Metric
Running Speed 40 km/h
Lifting Strength 200 kg
Jump Height 5 meters
Longfall Survival "50" meters (automated roll sequences)
Armour Strength 4,000 J
Battery Life 3 weeks (less, if utilities are used liberally)
Cost per Suit $300k
Feature Description
Night Vision/Infrared The suit has the ability to toggle between standard, night vision, and infrared sights. Activated by a slide switch on the suit's right arm.
Heads-up Display Battery life, electrical problems, as well as maps, (very) short-range radar, internet-connectivity, radio communication via headset, and objective marking (for commanders).
Helmet & Tanks Survivability in hazardous gas, sandstorms, underwater, and high altitudes.
Homeostasis Suit has an internal heatecooler, allowing the wearer to survive for a longer period in temperatures between -30°C and 60°C.
Omnidirectional Grappling The suit comes equipped with grappling technology, allowing the wearer to navigate urban environments easily, as well as "gecko hands", for climbing. The suit has magnetic "holsters", allowing them to use their hands for grappling and climbing.
Camouflage Likely the most frivolous of the enhancements, this rudimentary camouflage will make the wearer "invisible", except for a shimmering effect, and is not hidden to radar or infrared. It only seeks to confuse enemy combatants. The camouflage extends to the standard equipped weaponry.
Trauma Harness The suit is equipped with a "Trauma Harness", which, in the event of the wearer being incapacitated, will take over the suit and attempt to flee from combat to the nearest friendly location.
Medical Stabilization The AI Chip controls several functions regarding keeping the wearer alive in the event of serious damage, such as autodispensing painkillers, a cardiac regulator, and an autodefibrilator, among other things.
AI Chip An AI chip is implanted into each suit (with a "personality" in order to better mesh with soldiers) that is able to take over functions of the suit to allow the wearer to focus on other objectives, as well as communicate objectives and offer statistical analysis to the wearer.
A general timeline of release is below. The Lucky suits are seeing a later release date, as much of the technology being used in the suit is still experimental, namely the Medical Stablization and AI chips
Suit Release Date Cost
EXO-0XIII "Titan" 2041 $250k
EXO-2VII "Lucky" 2045 $300k
submitted by GiveTheDucc to worldpowers [link] [comments]


2020.08.26 14:55 Euronotus Laura (14L - Gulf of Mexico): Day 6


Important Links

Reddit Live! thread for Hurricane Laura

Global Tropical Outlook & Discussion: 23-29 August 2020

2020 Hurricane Supplies Megathread

Laura Preparations Discussion

Latest news

Last updated: Wednesday, 26 August 2020 - 10:00 PM CDT (03:00 UTC)

An extremely dangerous Laura closes in on the northwestern Gulf Coast

A powerful Hurricane Laura is rounding the corner on its final lap toward the coast this evening. Animated infrared imagery continues to depict a well-organized cyclone, with a large, clear eye surrounded by a dense ring of deep convection. As the outer brands of Laura reach the coast of extreme southeastern Texas and southern Louisiana, the convection situated to the northeast of the eye has become somewhat degraded, but that has not significantly altered the overall strength and structure of the cyclone. Water vapor imagery indicates that Laura continues to produce a robust and well-established outflow in all directions.
Intensity estimates derived from NOAA and U.S. Air Force Hurricane Hunter missions indicates little change in Laura's strength, with maximum one-minute sustained winds holding steady at 130 knots (150 miles per hour). There remains very little time for Laura to strengthen further, and with convection already weakening ahead of the cyclone's eye, it is likely that Laura has reached its peak intensity. Laura has begun to turn toward the north as it rounds the western periphery of the subtropical ridge which had been steering it toward the west-northwest over the past several days. Laura is likely to make landfall sometime between now and the next intermediate advisory from the National Hurricane Center.
Latest data NHC Advisory #29 10:00 PM CDT (03:00 UTC)
Current location: 29.0°N 93.2°W 74 miles SE of Port Arthur, TX
  85 miles SSE of Lake Charles, LA
Forward motion: NNW (340°) at 13 knots (15 mph)
Maximum winds: 130 knots (150 mph)
Intensity: Hurricane (Category 4)
Minimum pressure: 939 millibars (27.73 inches)

Forecast Discussion

Last updated: Wednesday, 26 August 2020 - 10:00 PM CDT (03:00 UTC)

Laura will rapidly weaken overnight after making landfall

Up until now, Laura has enjoyed a favorable environment over the Gulf of Mexico with weak to moderate westerly shear (10 to 15 knots), very warm sea-surface temperatures (29 to 30°C) with abundant ocean heat content, and strong diffluence aloft. While mid-level moisture levels have remained unimpressive over the past several hours, vertical wind shear has not been strong enough to allow this dry mid-level air to penetrate Laura's eyewall, allowing it to continue to intensify through this evening.
Once Laura makes landfall later tonight, it will begin to weaken rapidly due as increased shear takes advantage of Laura's interaction with land. Laura is expected to drop from 130 knots (150 miles per hour) to 95 knots (110 miles per hour) within the span of the first twelve hours following landfall. By Thursday evening, Laura's wind speeds will have decreased to just 50 knots (60 miles per hour).
Through Friday, Laura is expected to gradually turn north-northeastward over northern Louisiana and Arkansas before making a hard east-northeastward turn on Friday morning as it become swept up in the mid-latitude westerlies. Laura will accelerate eastward through Saturday evening, when baroclinic forcing from a fast approaching frontal system will quickly transition the cyclone into a powerful extratropical system with tropical storm-force winds off the coast of Nova Scotia. Laura will eventually emerge over the northern Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Newfoundland on Monday evening.

There is no time left to prepare for this potentially catastrophic hurricane

The National Hurricane Center highlighted in a recent discussion that storm surge is not only expected to be life-threatening, but "unsurvivable" as it causes catastrophic damage from Sea Rim State Park in Texas to Intracoastal City, Louisiana. Depending on the timing of the tides, storm surge may cause sea-level rises of as much 15 to 20 feet in the hardest hit areas, causing significant amounts of water to rush inland from the Gulf of Mexico to a distance of almost 40 miles. This flooding may not recede for several days after Laura makes landfall and moves out of the region.
Hurricane-force winds are expected to begin along the coast between San Luis Pass, Texas and Intracoastal City, Louisiana later this evening. Catastrophic wind damage is expected as the eye of a strong Category 4 hurricane moves ashore late tonight or early Thursday morning. Hurricane-force windsd and gusts are expected to spread far inland on Thursday morning as Laura moves northward along the Texas-Louisiana border.
Widespread flash flooding is expected across a large area of eastern Texas, Louisiana, and Arkansas ahead of and after landfall late tonight. In the hardest hit areas, total rainfall accumulations are expected to reach 5 to 10 inches, with some isolated areas seeing as much as 15 inches of rainfall. Heavy rainfall is expected to cause widespread life-threatening flash flooding and urban flooding, and is expected to cause minor to isolated moderate river flooding. Heavy rainfall will spread northward over the next day or so and then northeastward as Laura weakens and accelerates toward the Ohio and Tennessee valleys later in the week.
A few brief and isolated tornadoes are expected to develop over Lousiana, southeastern Texas, and southwestern Mississippi later this afternoon and tonight as the outer rain bands ahead of Laura make their way on shore, creating significant low-level shear due to frictional effects. The risk for tornadoes will spread northward into Louisiana, Arkansas, and Mississippi on Thursday.

Official Forecast

Last updated: Wednesday, 26 August 2020 - 10:00 AM CDT (15:00 UTC)
Hour Date Time Intensity Winds - Lat Long
- - UTC CDT - knots mph ºN ºW
00 27 Aug 00:00 20:00 Hurricane (Category 4) 130 150 29.0 93.2
12 27 Aug 12:00 08:00 Hurricane (Category 2) (Inland) 95 110 31.0 93.7
24 28 Aug 00:00 20:00 Tropical Storm (Inland) 50 60 33.8 92.9
36 28 Aug 12:00 08:00 Tropical Storm (Inland) 35 40 35.6 91.5
48 29 Aug 00:00 20:00 Tropical Depression (Inland) 25 30 36.8 88.2
60 29 Aug 12:00 08:00 Tropical Depression (Inland) 25 30 37.5 82.7
72 30 Aug 00:00 20:00 Remnant Low (Inland) 30 35 38.5 75.5
96 31 Aug 00:00 20:00 Extratropical Cyclone 45 50 45.0 60.0
120 01 Sep 00:00 20:00 Extratropical Cyclone 45 50 52.0 46.0

Official Information Sources

National Hurricane Center

National Weather Service

Satellite Imagery

Floater imagery

Regional imagery

Radar

Regional Mosaics

Individual Stations

Analysis Graphics and Data

Wind analysis

Sea surface temperatures

Model Guidance

Storm-Specific Guidance

Western Atlantic Guidance

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2020.08.25 13:35 travel_ali My guide to cheap (or at least more affordable) travel in Switzerland (V2).

I posted a previous version of this a while back, but as I have expanded it quite a bit here is a new post.
More Swiss resources.
---General Points---
Switzerland is expensive to visit
Switzerland is well known for being expensive in comparison with surrounding countries (and most other countries in the world). Even a basic McDonalds meal will be painfully expensive to most visitors. If you are careful then a fun (if basic) trip can be had for less than 70CHF a day, or with eating out and spending on activities for more like 150CHf per day. If you are really hardcore and wild camp and eat what is basic enough to stay alive then 10CHF might be possible.
Living and working here you do at least have much higher pay than elsewhere and so very strong buying power. As someone living and working in Switzerland I mostly do daytrips or just for 1-2 nights at weekends, and so am lucky as most of the concerns of costs are covered by the salary and not being far from home. I do try and keep costs down so I have learnt quite a bit myself in how to avoid painful prices.
Ultimately if you really are on a tight budget and want to see the Alps then France, Austria, Germany, and Slovenia are all cheaper and offer much of the same.
As with Swiss watches the appeal is partly in the historical branding and the popular mindset, rather than Switzerland being the be-all-and-end-all of the topic.
Not everything is that expensive
The basics for travel are expensive (food/accommodation/transport) but many activities are actually cheaper than elsewhere. Compared to say London where many attractions are £20+ ($26 USD) or even the insane 200 KN ($31 USD) to walk the walls in Dubrovnik many Swiss attractions are quite reasonable.
  • Entry to the Château de Chillon is 13.5 CHF ($15 USD); less than half the price of the Tower of London and cheaper than most other castles in the UK.
  • A return ticket on my local cable car to a high ridge with panoramic views of the Alps and into French and Germany costs less than the half hour spin on the London Eye.
If you google around there are plenty of sites and blogs with suggestions in general, or for specific places
Be sure to double check the official details of anything I list on here
Things change with time and due to the size and scope of this post I am not going in depth with all the details – be sure to read up on the terms and conditions of any pass or other offers rather than just what is on here.
Be wary of advice from randoms online.
I have seen people complain about absurd prices (that a small lunch cost them 45CHF, or a simple takeaway sandwich cost them 20CHF) that simply are insane and exceptions rather than the rule (if they were even real to start with).
Likewise context is important: I have seen visitors from various parts of the USA claim Swiss food prices in the shops are cheaper, comparable, and far more expensive than back home (which may well all have been true).
----Accommodation-----
In general:
  • Official accommodation (which should include Airbnb) will give you a guest card in many cities and tourist focused areas. The exact benefits vary but normally include free local transport and free/discounted activities. Sometimes cable car rides will be included for free too. Usually you can look up what is included online beforehand (eg: for the Jungfrau region). You get the guest card at check in and it is valid until the end of the day that you check out on, sometimes you can print your accommodation reservation and use that to travel for free on the day of arrival before you check in too (again check the local website to see if that is valid). Mostly you only get the benefits in the town/village and places 10-20 minutes away, but in the beautiful and underrated canton of Ticino it covers the entire canton which is an incredible deal (if you are day tripping out of a main base then you can easily save more on transport than you spend on accommodation, especially as campsites are valid accommodation).
  • The most important factor here is season; January/February will be high season for skiing in the mountains (with DecembeMarch as the shoulder season), July/August will be high season for summer everywhere (with June/September as the shoulder season), and in most areas April/May and OctobeNovember are off season. So if you go to the Alps in May or October it will be much easier to find cheap accommodation than in August or February. The flip side is that not everything will be open or doable in the shoulder or off seasons (but it can still be worth visiting if you just want to enjoy the landscape but don’t have a certain hike or peak you are dead set on doing). For cities like Lugano that are more focused on summer tourism and don’t have a local ski resort then it will be much cheaper in the winter months like February than during the summer.
  • It might help to look to lesser known areas. You might be able reduce accommodation costs by staying somewhere nice but unknown. The difference probably won’t be significant, but if for example you stay in Täsch rather than the more famous and popular neighbouring Zermatt you will likely find more budget options.
  • Sticking to one area for longer will help cut transport costs down. Jumping several hours by train everyday will get expensive fast without a general pass.
  • If breakfast isn’t included and is more than 10CHF, then unless you are a heavy morning eater you might better off popping to a café or bakery for a coffee and bite to eat instead.
  • Tourist tax might not be included in the listed price (typically 2-3CHF per person per night). Likewise check for a non-listed cleaning fee if it is an apartment or Airbnb, this might not be too bad if it is after a week but could be a very nasty add-on for just a night or two.
Where to look:
Hostels:
  • Hostels can be had for as low as 20CHF for a bunk in a shared room if you are going to a popular tourist-heavy location like Interlaken or Luzern. But they are not always that cheap (especially in a ski resort in winter when a dorm bed can set you back 50CHF or more). Or even the cheapest option: a private room for 2 people in a budget hotel can be cheaper than 2 beds in a dorm. Check https://www.hostelz.com/ in addition to Hostelworld.
  • YHA hostels whilst not the cheapest are a good budget option that can be found all over the country, they tend to be family/relaxed places rather than party hostels. They are always clean, come with a good breakfast and some like Grindelwald have unbeatable views. The buildings tend to be very nice (in some cases like Burgdorf they are renovated castles). Sadly most don’t have a guest kitchen or fridge (check the info page for each location), but do offer cheap startemain/dessert dinners for 18CHF. If you are looking at the YHAs then book on their website rather than Hostelworld etc to avoid paying the extra for not being a member (membership pays for itself after only a few nights so it is worth signing up).
Camping:
----Transport-----
This is always a hard question to answer. The best solution will change depending on time-frame, number of people, how much you want to see/do across the country, and how much you want to keep your options open. Ultimately you will have to make a rough plan and calculate which option provides the best value.
Public transport will get you just about anywhere you need to go and many train lines have views you won't get from the roads. For public transport there are number of train passes to cover full or partial cost, the whole country or just an area, that can be bought anytime at a set price or are limited and vary in price. It can be somewhat overwhelming. I have written quite extensively about this, especially public transport, in a previous post and there are various other guides online to help there (for example this).
A few important examples:
  • Booking individual tickets in advance in itself does not make any difference to the price (unlike various other places in Europe like the UK and Germany). However from 60 days before the day of travel you can buy “Supersaver“ tickets which reduce the cost by up to 70%, but are only available at off-peak times and lock you to a certain train. This can be combined with the half-fare card for further discounts. A set number of supersaver tickets are available, so depending on how in demand a certain train is they might be sold out weeks in advance or be available still just before departure.
  • The Swiss Travel Pass might seem horrifically expensive at first glance, but if you are wanting to travel far and wide from a single base it will very quickly pay for itself. In addition to standard transport it also covers most ships, a number of cable cars (even going up to Rigi Kulm and Schilthorn for no extra cost), discounts on most of the rest of the mountain transport, and free entry to most museums.
  • Children get free or discounted travel. Below the age of 6 children can travel free of charge if they are accompanied by somebody 12 over older who has a ticket. The Junior Swiss Travel card costs 30CHF for a year and lets a child aged 6-16 travel for free so long as they travel with a parent. The pass is even free from the 3rd child.
  • If you want to be very flexible then Fairtiq might be worth checking out so you can hop on and off, or change direction without worrying about buying a ticket at the start.
Driving might be cheaper, especially with a group of people. However keep in mind:
  • If you are renting then it might be cheaper to rent just across the border in a neighbouring country and drive in.
  • If you are driving in from another country you will need to buy a 40CHF annual vignette to use the motorways (but not the smaller streets). This is actually really good value if you live here, less so if you want to just drive for a few hours to cut across the country.
  • Parking can be very expensive.
  • Some popular tourist spots like Zermatt/Wengen/Mürren are car-free so you have to pay for parking and then the transport to get you the last 10 minutes to the place.
  • Traffic offenses (speeding, not having your headlights on at all times) will result in VERY large fines.
Also:
  • If you are flying into Geneva and going to the city then you can get a ticket for free transport into the city from the luggage retrieval area.
  • You might also look into ride sharing like BlaClaCar. I have not used this, but from what I have read you should be prepared for cancelations and to be flexible.
  • Hitchhiking is possible and probably as safe as it is going to get, but I have no experience there.
----Food----
Do it yourself:
  • You almost never need to buy water. Tap water is fine, and just about every fountain has drinkable water (unless there is a sign on it stating otherwise). When in the mountains you can fill up from streams assuming there isn’t a farm or animals grazing above you.
  • Supermarket food is the obvious go to. But compared to the neighbouring countries you are still paying 50% or more for food items. Migros is the cheaper Swiss supermarket that you will find everywhere and is good quality. Denner is the slightly cheaper sister of Migros which isn’t always as easy to find. Lidl and Aldi are cheaper still, however they tend not to be in central areas or smaller towns or villages. Most supermarkets will have a small reduced section for goods near the sell by date. Be aware that supermarkets close early (typically 7pm or earlier), and outside of tourist resorts will be closed on a Sunday. There will be a shop (or a whole shopping complex) open everyday until 10pm at train or petrol stations though – but these are often more expensive.
  • If you REALLY love bread/cheese/pasta you can feed yourself for 10CHF for the whole day (maybe get an apple too to keep the scurvy at bay).
  • Markets on Wednesday/Saturday mornings are typically much more expensive than supermarkets. A few stands might offer free samples, but no market is big enough that you are going to fill up on them.
  • Places showing off a certain product (dairy, chocolate factory, etc) might give away a few free samples or include them in the tour price. The Kambly Erlebnis where you can eat as much as you want of their entire range without any need to buy anything is probably the best example of this, but it is rather out of the way for most trips. Whether you will save anything by going to such places compared to supermarket prices or are still able to buy cheap bags of rejects seems to be questionable.
  • A restaurant Fondue will set you back 25CHF per person or more. But a much cheaper and equally Swiss option is to buy some Cervelat sausages from any supermarket and go roast them over a fire somewhere in the countryside.
  • The cheapest beer is the supermarket own brands like the COOP “Prix Garantie Lager” which cost 0.5CHF per 0.5L can. Apparently these are mostly very acceptable for the price.
  • Meat is really expensive. Avoiding it will help cut costs.
  • You can bring food in with you, or if you have time then leave the country to go shopping (it is what the Swiss who live near the borders do). However Switzerland is not in the EU custom zone and there are limits on how much you can bring in per person without paying customs tax. It is not certain you will be checked at the border, but it isn’t impossible (especially on a Saturday afternoon when many Swiss shoppers will be coming back over the border).
Eating out:
  • There are plenty of takeaway options at stations and in larger towns. Figure 4-8CHF for a Sandwich/baguette or 8-10CHF for a kebab. Many cheap food stands might close by 7pm, or earlier if they are just aimed to commuters/shoppers, but there should always be something open to 10pm in any decent sized town.
  • There are a chain of cafes/outlets that sell day-old bread and baked goods sourced from local bakeries at a reduced price – ÄSS-BAR (meaning edible). These are only in the bigger cities at the moment, but have central locations.
  • Apps like “Too good to go” or “Homemade” are an option for finding cheap food (though outside of the bigger cities you might have very limited or no options).
  • Some areas have special deal packages you can buy, like “Zwei Für Eins” (two for one). However that is better suited to residents rather than short term visitors.
  • Migros restaurants are a budget friendly favourite. You can easily get a good meal for 15CHF (typically lunch as they are closed later in the evenings and all day on Sundays). The restaurants in the Manor department stores are also well regarded, some have quite nice views too.
  • Restaurants do not have to be as expensive as some people make out. You can easily find a Rösti or pizza for about 15CHF. A good dinner with drinks for 2 people for less than 50CHF should be easy to come across. Another option is to look for fixed menus at lunch time which will offer a good meal for 15-20CHF (especially at Italian or Asian places).
  • Finding coffee for less then 5CHF (and not a big one at that) will be very hard. My record is 3.5 CHF in Vallorbe.
  • You don’t want to know what a cocktail at a fancy club is going to cost you.
----Activities----
Obviously do something weather suitable. Money for a cable car ride is better spent on a sunny day than a wet and foggy one.
  • Take advantage of the free information. The quality of information you get through the Swiss topographic maps (see the Swisstopo phone app for one the go) is very useful for planning trips. It is very detailed, quick to load and allow all kinds of layers like hiking routes to be added is incredible and way beyond anything I have seen elsewhere – and all for free. Likewise the MeteoSwiss website (and app) offer lots of information and various maps to help plan your days. Being a popular destination for 200+ years means that there are endless sources for reading up on ideas.
  • Just walking around and taking things in is an obvious choice: most sights in towns like the churches, walls, and old towns are free to explore. All the main sights in Luzern (Lucerne) are free and easy to see by foot (see the tour suggestion in this post).
  • Free walking tours exist in most cities. In Bern you can even book a free tour around the Parliament building.
  • You can use the list at the bottom of this article to see free museums (click to arrange by Eintritt), others are free on certain days like a certain Sunday of month, otherwise 10-12CHF is a fairly standard price. If you plan to visit lots of museums then the Museum Pass might be worth a look – the Museum Pass is included in the Swiss Travel Pass.
  • If you travel by public transport you can get special Leisure deals with SBB that reduce the cost of some activities. For example in summer 2020 there is an offer for the FIFA World Football Museum that gives you 20% reduction on the journey to the location and back, and 20% reduction on admission to the Museum.
  • Larger and/or more popular places will have more extensive listings for free and budget events. For example Zürich on a Budget and Zürich unbezahlbar for Zürich.
  • In Bern you can see the bears for free and various other places have free wildlife parks (typically the free or cheaper ones will focus on local animals such as Wildnispark Zürich Langenberg or Biel Tierpark).
  • Festivals like Swiss National Day (August 1st) and Fasnacht (February time) provide free entertainment through fireworks, parades, and various other kinds of craziness. These range from Christmas markets to the burning of explosive wooden effigies (I have a list of more unique Swiss events here).
Shopping:
  • Mano COOP often sell the standard souvenirs and chocolates that you find in tourist shops but might well be cheaper.
Hiking, cable cars, and enjoying the views in general:
  • The views are free. But getting to them can be expensive, or otherwise require quite a bit of effort. The fitter you are the more you can do without having to take a cable car.
  • Resorts give you information about what is open/closed, what there is to do, and usually have multiple webcams showing the conditions at various locations. There is no excuse for paying a wodge of cash to find that all you can do is walk around a small viewing platform and see the same rain that you were already in below.
  • If you have the Swiss Travel Pass you get a free ride on most boats, or up a number of cable cars and some mountain trains. Typically to those where there is a village, but it even goes to Schilthorn and the top of Rigi. If you don’t get a free ride then you should get a 50% discount off the ticket.
  • Check ahead on the website for a cable car if you are hoping to get a discount with your Swiss Pass or half fare card. It works almost everywhere, but some resort areas (eg Davos) only give a discount if you are staying there and have a guest card.
  • Sometimes you will get an early bird / good morning ticket discount on cable cars or other mountain transport. Jungfraujoch for example has discounted Good Morning and Good Afternoon tickets if you are only up early or late, and Niederhorn gives you a free return if you go up before 9am.
  • The unsung Postbus is very cheap for what they offer. They will not get you to mountain peaks, but you can get higher up valleys or passes, which make good view points or starts for hikes. In Solothurn for example taking the Postbus to Balmberg costs 6.40CHF whereas taking the train to Oberdorf and the cable car to Weissenstein would cost twice as much.
Swimming:
  • Swimming is very popular in summer anywhere from urban rivers to mountain lakes. Almost everywhere has a swimming pool or Lido where you can change and have an area with various activities or leisure features for a price. But mostly you can very easily find somewhere to jump in for free. Just be careful in rivers – see what the locals do in places like Bern where it can be fast and dangerous.
Cycling:
  • A number of places (Zurich, Geneva, La Chaux-de-Fonds, Le Locle, Neuchâtel and the Canton of Valais) offer free/cheap bike rental during the summer - http://www.schweizrollt.ch/ . Bring 20CHF for deposit and ID has to be shown.
Winter sports:
  • Following the winter prepared paths is free, and renting a sled for a day is fairly cheap (about 15CHF).
  • Many resorts have special discount days or offers.
  • This - https://www.snow4free.ch/de/
----Misc----
  • If you have student ID then give it a shot.
  • There is free Wifi at bigger train stations (accessed via a code sent to you by SMS). Likewise the yellow Post Buses have free Wifi which you can use during the ride or just hanging out by them at a station.
  • In touristy and border areas you can often pay with euros but it is generally best not to unless you really don’t want to get some CHF. Typically they take euros at a 1:1 price to the CHF, but the euro is worth more than the CHF so you are making a loss. You might also not get change back if you pay in Euros.
  • Depending on what you want to see you could even stay over the border and drive in each day, but that would be too much effort to be worth the saving for visiting most of the country (especially most of the popular tourist areas are not in the border regions).
  • If you live in Switzerland then consider REKA which is a supplemented service aimed at family holidays in Switzerland. You can also buy Reka-checks which is essentially pretend money that costs less than the face value and can be used at a number of hotels/restaurants/cable cars/trains all over Switzerland.
  • The Rega is the mountain rescue service (phone: 1414). You can also download the Rega app to your phone which you can allow to use your location should you need to call for help from an unknown spot. For 30CHF per person a year you can become a Rega patron, this supports the mountain rescue service and means that (funds allowing) they will reduce/waive the rescue fees if you need help. That 30CHF could save you a hell of a lot a money.
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