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The Massacre at Crybaby Bridge: An Oral History - Finale and Aftermath

2020.10.20 06:30 throwawayaracehorse The Massacre at Crybaby Bridge: An Oral History - Finale and Aftermath

The following is the conclusion of my senior capstone for my journalism degree. I sought out to explore the truth behind a local legend in my hometown. My professor rejected the original draft due to its disturbing and unbelievable nature, even though everyone I spoke to claims they're telling the truth. The previous parts are available here:
Part 1 - Part 2 - Part 3 - Part 4 - Part 5 - Part 6 - Part 7
PART 8
BOB SCHROEDER, LOCAL HISTORIAN: The Massacre at Crybaby Bridge will live on in the annals of Somerset history and lore. Like all local legends, it’s not immune to thegossip and embellishments that are inevitable in a rural town the size of Somerset.
The state news covered it for about a week and it barely made a blip in the national news headlines. The nation was too caught up with coverage of the war in Iraq and Afghanistan. There was also an effort by many members of the community to suppress the story. They didn’t want the travesty to be the only thing the town was known for.
STEPHEN PARKER: How much fight could I possibly have left? How much adrenaline did I have in reserve? I know that a certain point that death might come as relief. I would no longer have to feel scared for my life.
I wasn’t ready yet.
We rounded the side of the house. There was a barn out back, old and wooden. Completely dark. An old truck was parked next to the barn. Maybe it was open. Maybe it would have the keys in it. Nick headed straight for it. I followed. “Need...to...catch my breath,” he gasped. “Me too,” I agreed.
DAVID NEAL, SHERIFF, MOMADAY COUNTY: The Loveless property was a massacre in its own right. That place alone might be the kind of crime scene that sticks with you for years. Five dead at the scene and in all of those different manners.
STEPHEN PARKER: The doors to the truck were locked. We darted to the inside of the barn. We couldn’t hear anything from behind us, no signs we had been seen or followed. It was really dark in there and as my eyes adjusted I could see a tractor parked dead center of the barn and smell the musty scent of dust and hay.
There was a loft towards the back of the barn that was loaded with bales of hay. A ladder led up to it and in the back of the loft under the angle of the barn’s roof was an open window.
“Let’s hide up there, catch our breath,” Nick said, pointing. Looking back it seems like such a rookie horror movie mistake.
The loft was warm and stuffy and Nick quickly piled up a few bales for us to hide behind. We lied on our bellies like soldiers in a foxhole, peeking through a crack in our alfalfa barricade, waiting for the enemy.
DAVID NEAL, SHERIFF, MOMADAY COUNTY: The first body we encountered was Floyd Loveless. He was deceased on the porch with an extensive penetrating neck injury.
JOEY KESSLER, LOCAL RESIDENT, FARMER**:** They were confused as to what to do with that ol’ gal with the blade in her back. Everyone was afraid to move it. I got creative while they was twiddling their thumbs and waiting on the helicopter. I rushed back with my cutting torch and cut it down close enough to her back.
SKYE BRIGGS: What else could I do but pray? I’d never done it much before, but I sure as hell was right then.
STEPHEN PARKER: The mind of a teenager is not a rational thing. I don’t know what I was thinking. My best friend had just been brutally killed and I had seen it, seen him staggering around in his final throes before he collapsed. All of the others, too.
Maybe stress had done crazy things to my mind. Maybe the adrenaline and survival instinct had made it impossible for me to feel any sort of grief.
It felt like we were up in that loft a long time. I guess it was the silence that made it feel that way. All that I know is that I felt safe in that moment despite all that had happened, the dark all around, the warmth. It felt like there would never be another one.
I could feel Nick’s body rising and falling beside me, his heavy respirations slowing as he caught his breath. I could feel his warmth in the crisp autumn air and smell his sweat and cologne.
In the dark it was like we were anywhere else.
I whispered his name.
“Yeah,” he whispered back, and his face was close to mine as he turned. I took it in my hand and right there in that dusty, hay filled barn, I leaned in to kiss him.
The mind of a teenager is not a rational thing.
DAVID NEAL, SHERIFF, MOMADAY COUNTY: Around the backside of the house we found the second body. A decapitation had occurred.
STEPHEN PARKER: He didn’t turn away right away, didn’t shove me off in a fit of disgust. For a second he let me, I think. I could feel his lips and mouth and then he pulled away.
“Stephen. C’mon man. A bunch of people are dead.”
“Oh. Yeah. You’re right.”
He gave me a pat on the back and then whispered, “I’ve got a plan. If he comes here we can go out the window. It’s a twelve foot drop. We’ll just hang off the side and let go. Bet we could do it pretty quietly.”
Before we could discuss any more there was a scream.
DAVID NEAL, SHERIFF, MOMADAY COUNTY: It was presumed that Mrs. Lorraine Loveless had come out to check on her husband, encountered the perpetrator, and fled to the backside of the house.
STEPHEN PARKER: It was a woman’s voice, screaming “Floyd! Floyd!” and then these kinds of yelps that started sounding closer and then nothing.
DAVID NEAL: Next it was presumed that Shaun Loveless, the son of Mr. and Mrs. Loveless that lived on the property in a fifth wheel camper trailer, attempted to subdue the suspect. His body was found nearby with a twelve-gauge pump action shotgun that was empty of shells. There was blunt trauma to the head with gray matter in the nearby grass accompanied with massive blood loss.
STEPHEN PARKER: After a little while we heard the angry shouts of a man, followed by several gunshots. From our vantage point, this seemed to be coming from a direction away from the house. Nick’s eyes got big. We inched backwards towards the window, but then he stopped, looked at me.
“I’m through running,” he said. His face was serious. “He’s just gonna keep coming and coming and more innocent people are gonna get caught up in it. I’ve got an idea.”
I could only stammer out a “What?”
“Stay here,” he said and gave me a smile. “Go out the window if things get too hairy.”
SKYE BRIGGS: They say the explosion could be heard for miles. I certainly heard it.
STEPHEN PARKER: Nick slithered down the ladder, disappeared in the shadows below me. I waited. So much for my heart rate going back to normal. It beat rapidly in anticipation and I felt close to pissing myself as I feared the worst to come.
STEPHEN PARKER: I still get nightmares where I’m at the end of a long hallway. There’s a door on the other end and it opens. I see that figure, that face, the one that had now appeared in the wide doorway of the barn. It was as close a look at him as I’d been able to get so far. His eyes were dark dead pits in the middle of an expressionless face. I could see now that he wore some type of mask over the top half of his face. His head was sleek and without hair. There were several bleeding holes scattered around his torso, blood oozing from them and not appearing to slow him down in any capacity. In his hands he wielded a T-post. Whether it was the same one he had used before or another I don’t know. It looked wet. Something dripped from its sharp edge.
DAVID NEAL: We arrived on the scene after the explosion. In fact, several of the deputies en route to the area heard it.
STEPHEN PARKER: That motherfucker looked up at me. The tractor roared to life, the diesel engine revving, the gears grinded as the clutch was popped and it lurched forward. It had a front end loader on its front-- basically like this bulldozer kind of thing. It slammed into Big Baby. He didn’t fall underneath it, he withstood the blow, caught it right in his arms and managed to push back on his feet against it. The engine struggled and the throttle roared and Nick sat behind the wheel.
Big Baby managed to skitter back a few feet, but the tractor kept coming for him and soon they both were well out of the barn. Nick maneuvered the levers and tilted the front end loader’s bucket to keep Big Baby on his heels. I slid down the ladder and ducked my head out of the barn’s doorway to watch the outcome.
The last steps took place in a matter of fast forward, before I could truly comprehend what was going on. Big Baby’s arms were bloody and he hung onto the bucket of the front end loader, attempting to pull himself up. His feet hung above the ground. It seemed his goal was climb onto the arms and leap at Nick if he had the chance.
He wasn’t quick enough.
Nick shifted gears and the tractor revved forward to a utility line pole to the left of the house. Sitting next to that pole was the shiny silver of a propane tank, one of those that are shaped like a pill and the size of a house.
I yelled for Nick to look out, yelled for him to jump off, as if gunning straight for that tank hadn’t been his plan all along. As if he didn’t know the stakes.
As if he didn’t know exactly what he was doing.
There was the collision of metal on a body and then the sound of grinding metal as the corner of the bucket pierced the tank. The gas hissed as it escaped and I saw Nick stand up in his seat and fish around in his pocket. He was pretty far away, but I could make out his hand movements as a flame appeared in his hand, the flame from a Zippo lighter.
JOEY KESSLER: I heard that explosion and I thought, “what now?”
IRENE MYRTLE, LOCAL RESIDENT: I thought the good Lord was coming down to get us. The rapture y’know?
TERESA RUSSEL, 911 OPERATOR: The calls started coming in left and right, first the injuries and then about the explosion and all in this particular part of the county. It was mayhem for a while. Busiest night I ever worked.
EDDIE DUNN: LOCAL RESIDENT, UNEMPLOYED: I thought it was them damn terrorists, myself. Heard they might try and strike a little place like the Somerset area on account of all our oil wells and the like. Had even seen some A-rabs at the truck stop recently.
STEPHEN PARKER: If this is a feel-good action movie, if I’m the one writing the screenplay, then Nick turns his back right as he throws the lighter. He does a running leap off the back of the tractor just as the propane tank explodes. The fireball propels him forward, singing the back of his shirt and head and that’s it. He lands in the grass and I run to him and I say, “Looks like you got out just in the Nick of time.” We both laugh and embrace. End scene.
But that’s not what happened no matter how much I look back and try and rewrite it in my mind. What happened was he managed to do a half turn before the tank exploded and the flames engulfed him.
Through the smoldering rubble and debris I found his body and rolled him over and it was clear that there would be no happy ending for us. No final words. Just an embrace followed by me scrambling into the house, finding a phone, dialing 911.
That was it.
SOMERSET REGISTER 10/xx/2003, FRONT PAGE: MULTIPLE VICTIMS IN KILLING SPREE SATURDAY NIGHT, SUSPECT DECEASED AT SCENE, TEENAGER REMAINS IN CRITICAL CONDITION
____________________________________________________________
AFTERMATH
SKYE BRIGGS: What we went through only made me stronger. I hate that it happened and I’m not trying to say I’m ultimately glad that it happened or anything like that. I guess what I’m saying is that after you go through something so terrible, it really puts everything into perspective y’know? All your insecurities, all your fears--surviving something like that, they’re nothing in comparison. Besides, I’m only living the life that I think Hailey would want me to. My new confidence or whatever is a testament to her. I mean if you look at what she’s gone through, it’s the least I could do. I think she’s proud of me, but I’m even more proud of her. I could only hope to be fifteen percent of what she is and has always been.
HAILEY ADAMS: That’s something I speak about at my engagements. How even still after all this time and what I’ve remade myself into, there’s still people that speak from the perspective that I’ve had my life ruined or whatever. I don’t look at it that way. Were there times I got down about what I had lost?
Hell yeah. I got pretty low on several occasions. In the end I looked at it as my life was headed in one direction and then this happened and it swerved to this other direction.
The extent of Hailey Adams’s injuries was significant. She was medflighted to the University Hospital, the state’s only Level One trauma center, where she underwent an eight hour surgery. In the end she was left with a spinal cord injury that left her with paraplegia.
Her disability was only the beginning of her journey, however. After rehabilitation and high school graduation she attended college and received her teaching certificate where she became a cheer coach and special education teacher for a number of years. She would later become an advocate for those with disabilities and became quite active on the motivational speech circuit. She has signed a book deal with Simon and Schuster for the publication of her memoir.
She is married and has two children.
STEPHEN PARKER: Back when I would get those emails from Dylan about him and Nick hanging out and I would get this uncomfortable feeling I didn’t quite understand. Later, I would be able to put a name to that feeling: jealousy.
I wished it was me hanging out with Nick instead of him, sweating in that barn and playing guitar, his jawline and the look in his eyes while he played and got lost in the music. I would imagine it would get hot and there and we would have to take off our shirts and then who knows what would happen. It was a fantasy I returned to often and it left me feeling guilty and ashamed. I tried to suppress it.
I didn’t come out for many years after. I grew up going to church and church camps and all that stuff and I guess I suppressed a lot of stuff, y’know? Grew up hearing the word “f-g” and “fxxgot” tossed around. There was lots of denial and confusion. For the longest time, I thought that the death of Nick and everything we’d been through was a punishment for being gay.
SKYE BRIGGS: Steve and I? Yeah, we ended up dating for a while. A long while actually. Going through that event together really made us closer. How could it not? We would go visit Hailey at the hospital together. We would recommend music to each other. My dad, he would teach Steve guitar. He was my date to Junior Prom and we even went to Senior Prom together as friends.
If you had told me before that night all of this, it would’ve seemed like a dream come true. After a while though I realized something was up. I had no qualms or hang ups about sex before marriage and when we got to that point in the relationship I noticed something was...off. Like he wasn’t totally into me that way? I mean I tried to convince myself otherwise and he would swear up and down that he was, but there was a drunken night in his den our senior year when we went out to the alley to look up at the night sky and he broke down and confessed.
STEPHEN PARKER: I could trust Skye. It was finally time for me to tell someone, but I asked her to keep it secret. We continued to fake it for a while and eventually broke up. We still keep in touch pretty regularly, although it’s been hard in recent years.
Skye Briggs became the front woman to an alternative rock band. They performed at Vans Warped Tour, SXSW, and ACL Music Festival among others over the years. They had several mild crossover hits including songs featured in various soundtracks for television and movies that you have most likely heard.
She is twice divorced and has a daughter and when not parenting she can be found working on her solo musical career. Her debut solo album is set to release next year.
BOB SCHROEDER, LOCAL HISTORIAN: Why does such a tale captivate us? It is a classic tale with much in common with the slasher genre of films from the horror section of the video rental store. There are teens to be sacrificed, bodies to be collected, scores to be paid, and lessons to be learned. Except in this tale, I’m not sure that there is a moral or lesson to be learned.
STEPHEN PARKER: A moral? A lesson to be learned? Stay home, I guess. Wrap yourself up in bubble wrap and never go outside.
BOB SCHROEDER: Teenagers as a cautionary tale is an old concept. They are the bridges to adulthood, yet we’ve used them over the years for various ends. They are young and dumb and full of come. Or is it piss and vinegar? I can’t remember.
They are nine foot tall and bullet-proof. Or so they think. We use this to our advantage, get them to join our wars and fight for us. They will storm that hill without a second thought and we like them for that. The thirty year old might have second thoughts about it.
We give them 2 ton hunks of steel, death machines capable of reaching speeds of 120 MPH. We give them cell phones to check in with us, knowing full well that they are distracting and likely to increase the chance of a wreck. We cross our fingers and hope for the best.
We send them to school with bullet-proof backpacks and contingency plans for school shooters. We haven’t figured out a better solution.
Our teens are lambs to the slaughter. Always have been. (shrugs shoulders) Eh, but most of them make it out ok.
STEPHEN PARKER: I mentioned earlier that I had found myself back in Somerset years down the road. I mentioned that it brought the emotions roaring back. I found myself in the park and I got out and it was mostly empty, but I was under this row of giant sycamore trees, and I walked around a little until it hit me like a sledgehammer to the gut.
I just broke down and wept. I wept for my past. I wept for Nick and Dylan. I wept for what could’ve been.
BOB SCHROEDER: The other thing about slashers is that they often feature the common trope of the killer getting away. The killer is out there, not quite dead, waiting to return again.
STATE BUREAU OF INVESTIGATION NOTES, OCT 2003: A body from the state medical examiner’s office has been reported missing. The body of the John Doe believed to be responsible for the numerous deaths in Somerset has vanished from the lab site. If you have any information regarding this please contact us at (XXX) XXX-XXXX.
STEPHEN PARKER: I mentioned before about pivotal moments and I’ve thought of another. It’s one that I keep coming back to, a moment outside of all of the trauma. Something warm. Something comforting. In spite of everything that happened, I’m glad that I have this.
Let me set the scene. We’re heading out to Buster’s and we’re all a little giddy. Dylan, he says, “Look at us, just a regular bunch of Breakfast Club motherfuckers up in here.”
HAILEY: Oh really? Why’s that?
DYLAN: It’s an unlikely crew is all I’m saying.
HAILEY: Oh, because I thought you were saying its like all of us fit into a bunch of cliched roles. Are you saying that I’m the cheerleader and Nick’s the jock? What does that make Stephen and Skye?
NICK: I ain’t no jock.
SKYE: Wait, are you saying I’m the weird girl?
STEPHEN: No way in hell you’re the rebel, Nick. You’re the geeky dude.
DYLAN: Look, can we just drop it? How about we’re the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles or Justice League or something?
Just then, Nick starts to sing the chorus of that song from the movie, “Hey! Hey! Hey! Don’t you...forget about me…” And before you know it it was like a goddamn singalong, the whole truck singing along.
So this was another pivotal moment, for we were all happy and it was like this high we would continue to pursue so that the night didn’t have to end.
Now I’m not a journalist or writer or anything, but if I was writing this thing, that’s where I’d end it.
END

Stephen Parker drifted for a few years after high school. He eventually pursued a career in medicine. He lives in California.
Image of Bridge 17 Years Later: https://imgur.com/a/CwuQxbF
~~~[II]
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2020.10.17 18:03 LordCongra [Runes & Brews] - Book 1: Trouble Brewing, Chapter 15

Cover Art Personal discord Chat to me on the Reddit Serials discord Runes & Brews Homepage Patreon advanced chapters: 6 First Chapter
If you want to stay up to date with news from me, make sure to follow Congra too!
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“Pina, before I forget, would you happen to know any channels I could send a letter through where the Merchant’s Guild won’t have… prying fingers?” Theo asked, holding his letter out to Pina.
She took the letter, glancing over the address. “Is this for your parents? I… know a guy. He charges 10 silver for a letter though.”
Grumbling, Theo pulled out his coin purse from his bag, taking out a square shaped coin with a hole in the center. “Here. Things here are too expensive. If I were to send the letter in a bulk mail delivery it would cost me a few coppers at most.”
Pina took the coin, slipping it into her own coin purse. “That’s because it’s in bulk. This guy is discreet and fast.” Pina leaned in closer. “Don’t tell anyone I told you this, but he’s a yellow like me.”
“I wouldn’t dream of it, Pina. Thank you. If you could drop it off to your… contact after we’re done with whatever all of you have planned for me, I’d appreciate it immensely,” Theo said, heading for the door.
“No problem, Theo. We’re thick thieves at this point,” Pina said, elbowing him lightly in the side.
“It’s thick as thieves,” Theo muttered, receiving an eye roll in response.
Pina waved a hand dismissively. “Whatever, same thing.”
As they walked through the door into Theo’s shop space, Telsa smiled them. “What took you guys so long?”
“Pina is going to have a letter delivered for me, we were just working out the details. Anyway, before I learn whatever your plans are, despite my curiosity, I need to visit the blacksmith Frevan told me to meet,” Theo said, opening the door for everyone and locking it after they left.
He checked his bag once more as they walked. A bag of wind stones and a wand sat at the bottom of it, reassuring him with their presence. Also included was a set of examples for the blacksmith to see his enchanting work. It felt… somewhat dangerous having this many enchanted objects in one bag, but he wanted to impress the blacksmith.
Adam eyed him as he dug through his bag. “Everything okay, Theo?”
Looking up, Theo smiled brightly at him. “Mhm. Just making sure I have plenty of examples to show the blacksmith. I’m hoping to set up a good deal with him.”
Adam held a hand out which Theo took. Color reached both of their cheeks as Telsa and Pina began whispering with each other. Adam frowned at them but turned back to Theo. “I’m sure he’ll be impressed. Your enchantments are solid stuff.” He gave Theo’s hand a light squeeze.
“Thank you, I appreciate the vote of confidence,” Theo said, squeezing back.
“No problem. Just saying the truth,” Adam said, winking at him. “So, where is this blacksmith anyway?”
“I was wondering the same, we’ve just been walking for a while,” Telsa added, peering down the street.
“It’s a bit of a walk. It’s building number… 9, on 15th street in this district,” Theo said, reading off the parchment.
“Oh, I know who works there! Well, I delivered something to him once and he grumbled at me. But that’s almost the same as knowing him. He tipped me, at least,” Pina added, shrugging.
Theo couldn’t help but shake his head and chuckle. “Well, let’s go then. I have a blacksmith to impress.”
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“Come on guys! Hurry up!” Pina called from down the street, gesturing vigorously with her hands.
Theo’s chest heaved, the air burning his lungs. “I- why did… I run…” He leaned forward with his hands on his knees, taking in large gulps of breath.
Adam and Telsa looked down at him, then shared a glance. An arm wrapped itself around Theo moments later. He wouldn’t want to admit it, but he yelped.
It had been Pina’s idea to run to the location. Adam and Telsa were all for the exercise, despite Theo’s protests about his full bag. Apparently, without the speed of panic, Adam couldn’t outrun Pina as easily without really pushing his body, but he could certainly carry Theo and still run.
Which led them all to thunder down the streets, Theo tucked securely under Adam’s arm with his legs flapping in the breeze - or it could have been him struggling.
They arrived at the blacksmith’s in record time, a small sheen of sweat covering everyone. A quick self-cast of Broomgust dried Theo off in a powerful gust of wind. He almost elected to not dry anyone else off, but guilt won out.
Telsa fixed her windblown hair, pulling out snarls and knots out of the teal locks while grumbling.
As everyone else began to walk forward, Theo stayed in his spot. Adam swiveled, looking at Theo. “Everything okay?”
“Yes, I just- um, it’s just that- well, you see…” Theo trailed off, fussing with his vest.
“You’re nervous. Why?” Adam asked, sidling up closer to Theo and gripping his hand.
Theo gripped back, frowning. “What if he thinks my enchantments are… substandard? Or he laughs in my face about my plans? Just because he gives some adventurers good deals doesn’t mean Frevan is right about him.”
“Then he’s an idiot. Your enchantments are good, Theo. And I’ll beat up anyone who says otherwise,” he said, grinning and elbowing Theo lightly in the side.
The corner of Theo’s lips quirked up. He stared up at Adam, meeting the man’s steely green eyes. “You mean that?”
Adam kissed Theo on top of his head, a distant squeal from Pina and Telsa making him glare for a moment. “Of course I do. Let’s head inside and knock his socks off.” He tapped Theo lightly on the back, pulling him along.
Theo found dragging his feet to be woefully ineffective. “Wait but I- just five more minutes- I swear I’ll-”
“Nope. Socks are in need of being knocked off. You’re going,” Adam declared with a smile.
Falling into step, Theo took a calming breath. “I can do this.” A loud clang sounded out from inside the building, followed by a stream of cursing - and a hunk of deformed metal flying out the window. “I can’t do this.” He tugged on Adam’s arm, trying to turn around.
“You’re gonna be fine,” Adam assured him, opening the door for Telsa and Pina first.
Inside, Theo gaped at the room around him. He’d never seen a forge like this one! He found himself standing on a stone platform just inside the door, but the rest of the forge was filled with what looked like shin-deep water.
From across the room, an orange-red octopus chosen glanced at them before returning to his hammering. “I be full up on requests, lads and lasses.”
Theo heard Adam mutter to himself. “Shit, he doesn’t have socks.”
Noticing his stare, Adam colored slightly and began to take off his boots. Theo followed suit with his shoes and rolled up his pant legs as well.
Telsa and Pina stood on the platform, arms crossed.
“Nope. These pants are new, not getting them wet,” Telsa said, shaking her head.
“I don’t know what kind of metals my roots could suck up in this water. I’m out. Theo, we’ll be outside,” Pina said, opening the door for Telsa.
“Wait but I- okay,” Theo said, sighing in defeat as they left.
Adam smiled at him, laying a hand on Theo’s shoulder. “I’m still here, let’s go talk to him.”
The chosen man continued to hammer away at a piece of white-hot metal in front of him. The billet slowly took form with each hit, the metal elongating yet retaining the same amount of heat.
Theo focused Infusion mana into his eyes, noticing the magic at work in this process. He took a deep breath, steeling himself to begin. The first step into the water surprised him, it was warm. “Hello there, I-”
“I told ye, I’m fresh outta requests. Come back some other time, lad,” the blacksmith said, turning to glare at Theo.
Adam’s hand on Theo’s shoulder tightened. He opened his mouth but Theo shook his head. This was his mountain to overcome.
“I’m not looking to request anything. I-”
“Then what are ye doin’ in me forge?” the chosen man asked, an orange brow quirked.
Gritting his teeth at the interruptions, Theo channeled that annoyance into something akin to confidence. “I come on recommendation from Frevan Lolorm. He told me you may be interested in what I have to say.”
The blacksmith’s expression changed to annoyance once more. “Why didn’t ye just say so, lad?”
A low noise of frustration tried to escape Theo’s throat, but he held it down. “I- nevermind. I’m Theo Lukien. Alchemist and enchanter. I just moved here a couple of weeks ago.”
The blacksmith waved an arm. “I don’t need yer life story, lad. But eh, if you’re a friend of Frevan, I suppose I can give ye the time o’ day. Neniramli, blacksmith. But ye know that last bit.”
Theo scratched the back of his head. “Indeed, that’s relevant to my line of questioning as well. I was hoping to set up some form of contract with you. If you’re able to supply me with weapons, I could enchant them and sell them in my shop. I believe we could both profit more in total from this exchange.”
“And I’m supposed te trust ye won’t jest ruin me work?” Neniramli asked, setting down the surprisingly still white-hot billet and putting his arms on his hips.
“I brought quite a few samples with me so that you can see my work. I assume you’re an Infuser if you’re keeping the metal hot like that outside of the forge,” Theo said, indicating the metal on the anvil.
Neniramli’s chest puffed out and his brows lowered. “Yer right, but I don’t need te be an Infuser to see if enchantments are shite. Bring ‘em ‘ere.”
Theo wanted to think he was brave, but his hands trembled as he sloshed through the water on the floor of the stone building and picked out several objects to show the blacksmith. It didn’t help that the cephalopod seemed pricklier than his urchin kin.
Adam began to follow before Neniramli held up a hand. “I don’t need yer stinkin’ adventurer feet in me waters. Motiqua knows the last time ye washed ‘em.”
Turning to Adam, Theo tried to provide a reassuring smile. “It’s fine, you can just stay on the platform. I can handle things from here.”
“Well okay, but- you sure?” Adam asked, glowering at Neniramli.
The blacksmith scowled right back, but his gaze had a fire behind it - Adam turned away first.
“...Right. Anyway, Neniramli, you can look at more if you want, but I think these are some of my best,” Theo said, laying each object in question on a work table that the octopus man beckoned him towards.
An arm wrapped around the wand he’d laid down first. The chosen blacksmith’s large, black eyes inspected every inch of it. A silvery glow shone from the center of his eyes.
Definitely an Infuser then. I didn’t realize it was this obvious with eyes that big, Theo thought, fiddling with a button and biting his lip.
Neniramli shifted his gaze back up to Theo. His beak opened in what Theo hoped was a smile. “Yer lines are good. Not the best I’ve seen, but they’re clean and orderly. I like yer organization, ye know to order yer runes better than most I see. This one produces wind blades in a flurry, eh? Using Infusion mana te harden the wind be clever.” He handed the wand back.
Theo stepped backwards before catching himself. “You uh, you know a lot about runes, huh?” His ears reddened, realizing that Frevan may have simply not known that the blacksmith did his own enchanting. “Have I overstepped here? You must enchant your own-”
Raising an arm, Neniramli shook his head. “Nay, lad. Don’t have the time, talent, nor patience fer that. Let’s see some of yer other work.” He picked up a set of two silver bands next, giving them equal attention.
After muttering to himself, Neniramli looked back up at Theo. “Good to know ye understand enchantments aren’t just fer killing. Slow fall anklets? Nice workmanship. Who made these bands?”
“I bought this set from a fulvitre merchant back in Renwurd. They come from the southern desert, apparently,” Theo said, shrugging.
“I thought they be fulvitre-made,” Naniramli said, nodding. “Ye have any trap-type enchantments?”
Theo smiled, realizing the blacksmith’s interest had been piqued. “Indeed I do. They should be right in… here… somewhere… aha!” He pulled out three smooth, metal spheres. They rang gently in his hands as he handled them. “I call this enchantment ‘Dissonance’.”
Neniramli took each one with a suction cup, holding them and poring over the runic script. “Sound trap, eh? Good design. Mana efficient and unlikely to be activated accidentally. Ye put a lot o’ effort into yer formulae, don’t ye? This be some clever use o’ Primordial air magic. Should stun a big beastie fer awhile. Though, can ye do elements other than air?”
Realizing what the blacksmith meant, Theo spluttered for a second. He’d shown the man exclusively air enchantments! “Of course! Air and lightning are my specialties, but I’m quite capable of others, even outside of Primordial or Infusion enchantments.”
He rifled through his bag, pulling out a metal plate. “I call this enchantment a Bastion Plate. I could enchant it on shields as well, but it utilizes Fundamental mana to form a kinetic shield to nullify incoming physical forces.”
Neniramli took the plate and flipped it around several times in his arms, muttering and tsking. “A little weaker in the design, but that’s te be expected. It’s outta yer comfort zone. Yer Primordial secondary, I’m guessing? What else do ye have?”
Theo gulped. He’d hoped the man would be impressed enough by now. “I could provide an example of a fire enchantment? Or perhaps a lightning enchantment? Or even a Phrenic option.”
“Yer flighty enough, I believe ye on the lightning enchantments. Show me fire n’ Phrenic,” Neniramli said, handing the metal plate back to Theo.
“I can do that,” Theo said, pulling out a stone orb. “This one is single use, but I don’t price it as highly. The enchantment is called Flare Burst. It’s a bit simplistic, but quite effective.” A genuine smile began to form on his face. The chosen man was honest, but clearly thought highly of his work.
Another inspection later, and Neniramli handed the orb back. “That one’s blasted dangerous. Good work. I’d recommend ye make another burst o’ fire happen on the outside. I get where yer goin’ with the rock shrapnel - good use o’ earth enchantments there to increase the force - but ye’d get more firepower outta surface flames.”
Theo looked over his own enchantments, seeing what the blacksmith meant. “Oh, that makes sense. Good idea. I’ll see if I can rework my formula. That should increase the efficacy of the fire part of the enchantment substantially. It mostly relied on the burning shrapnel before.” He pulled out a glittering amethyst next from a padded carrying case. “This is my Phrenic work. And uh, handle it with care, please. It’s rated as a depth three dungeon gemstone so it’s a bit on the pricier side.”
“Handle it with ca- I should have ye strung up. I know te handle with care,” Neniramli said, snatching the gemstone out of Theo’s hands with enough force to make his heart sink.
This gemstone took a large amount of head-scratching on the chosen’s part, but he eventually handed it back to Theo, nodding. “Pacification, eh? Smart. Most Phrenic enchantments I see’re all ‘bout control. Ye know ‘bout subtlety.”
Theo couldn’t help but preen a bit at the praise. “Well thank you, I-”
“This is older work though, innit? Yer lines ain’t as clean,” Neniramli said, gesturing towards the gem.
Confidence shattered, Theo nodded sullenly. “Ah, yes, I made this… three years ago, I believe.”
Now that I think about it… I may have more plans for dealing with Maraz than I thought.
“Can ye show me a water enchantment? I’ve seen yer other elements, but not the one most important to me race,” Neniramli said, placing his arms on his hips once again.
“Oh, goodness! I didn’t mean to offend! Of course, I should have one right in this pocket…” Theo said, digging through the bag once more. “Found it. I call it Vortex, for hopefully obvious reasons.” He handed a wooden top to the man, clenching his hands at his sides afterward.
A bead of sweat rolled down Theo’s back as he watched the octopus man criticize every inch of the top. After a long pause, Neniramli opened his beak in a smile. “I approve. Very efficient te use an outside water source fer yer enchantment. So many spells waste mana generating the element - and not even permanently! Jest yer standard magical variant. Ye have yerself a weapons supplier, Theo - if ye can impress me with a first product.”
Jumping up in the air with joy, Theo immediately regretted his decision when he landed and metallic water splashed into his mouth. A minute of coughing and sputtering later, he looked up at the blacksmith, his cheeks coloring. “Uh, apologies. I just - got excited.”
“Yer fine, lad. Oh, to be young again… I have one final question for ye, however. Yer runes are all clearly of tier 2 mana quality or lower, how close are ye to tier 3?” Neniramli asked, scanning Theo up and down as if he could tell from that.
“I uh, Snapped recently, actually. From an… unfortunate incident with an unwanted visitor in my shop. My new enchantments will all be tier 3 quality, especially so once I upgrade to a new inscribing stylus. It’s my only bottleneck at this point,” Theo said, smiling weakly.
Neniramli’s eyes widened before lowering once more. “Snapped, eh? Good on ye fer not dyin’ or explodin’.”
Anxiety sprouted in Theo’s chest. “...I was told that can’t happen.”
“Don’t believe everything ye hear, lad,” Neniramli said, patting Theo on the shoulder.
Theo gulped, nodding. Then realization struck. “Wait- do you mean I should not believe you? Or the others who told me?”
“What do ye think, lad?” Neniramli asked, lowering a brow.
“...I don’t know,” Theo admitted.
“Oh, to be young again. Here, take this dagger n’ enchant it. Come back to me with yer results and we’ll see if I’ll truly work with ye,” Neniramli said, placing a sheathed dagger into his bag and shooing him towards the door.
“I-I can do that. Thank you very much for considering working with me, Neniramli. I won’t let you down,” Theo said, bowing deeply to the man.
An arm inclined Theo back to neutral. “Don’t bow te me, lad. I ain’t no fulvitre or cool-spectrum perren.”
Theo held up two placating hands. “Oh, my apologies. I’m very sorry- I just- I really wanted to show you my gratitude and I-”
An arm pushed him through the door, his shoes and socks flying out moments later. “I told ye, I have requests te fill. Enchant that, then talk to me.” The door slammed shut.
Adam turned from Pina and Telsa to look at Theo. He took in the footwear on the ground. “Woah, he really did knock his socks off.”
First Chapter Patreon advanced chapters: 6 Previous Chapter Next Chapter
submitted by LordCongra to redditserials [link] [comments]


2020.10.06 22:49 PowerWindows85 Bored? Looking for something to do? Start with this list of things to do in the Sacramento area.

(Credit for the below list has to be given to u/BurritoFueled, who created the original list in 2014 and updated it a year later. Almost two-thirds of the items below are still from that original list. All I’ve done with the list is revive it a little bit by updating dead links and making little tweaks when necessary. Also, thanks to those that submitted new additions to the list last week. Over a third of the below items are new and a lot of the original items have had newer information added onto them.)
People are always looking for something to do around here. Maybe you’re a transplant, unaware of what this area has to offer, or maybe you’re a lifelong resident, tired of the same old thing. Well friend, if you fall into the latter category, do not despair. There’s actually plenty of things to do in the Sacramento area – things of interest to almost any lifestyle, personality, or budget.
So, whether you’re an athlete, geek, eccentric, hipster, weirdo, sexual deviant or just a normal person looking for a new activity, below is a list of activities for you to try. Please note that it includes only activities that take place at least a few times a year – no one-off events or festivals here.
Enjoy this list. If you have any suggestions of your own to add, comment below in this thread. I'll try to keep this as up to date as possible.
Away we go.
UPDATED 10-6-20
(Note: Due to the current pandemic, some of these activities may be curtailed or not offered at all.)
submitted by PowerWindows85 to Sacramento [link] [comments]


2020.10.05 01:01 Seething_Entropy No One Told the Monsters Halloween Isn't Happening.

“It’s a full-moon on a Saturday for crying out loud!” my brother, Alex, shouted over his Spooky Halloween Mix. His head periodically popped out of the plywood abomination covering his lawn like a human whack-a-mole. “There’s no way I’m gonna miss it!”
I sighed and zipped up my jacket. Even during the day, the early October wind was biting. “Don’t you think it’s a bit much?” I asked, “no one is trick-or-treating this year.”
“I won’t be outdone! The Henderson’s are into it!” His hand whipped out of the maze and pointed aggressively to the yard across the street. The neighbors’ intimidating display consisted of a single orange bag of leaves with a jack-o’-lantern face on the front.
Every year, Alex adds new pieces to his already elaborate Halloween “decorations.” That creature had now evolved into this short maze, starting on the sidewalk and ostensibly ending at the front door. My sister-in-law gives out the candy and Alex operates a new jump-scare from somewhere within. I think this year he was a giant trapdoor spider or something. He even built a chicken door halfway through in case kids need to bail.
My brother has many… interesting feelings about the holiday. One of which is that candy should be “earned” and that the more of it he keeps for himself, the more he has “won.” I love him anyway.
I felt a tug on my hand.
“Can I go in yet, Dad?” Lily asked.
I told her to hang on until Uncle Alex gave the all-clear. He was still tearing through the maze, turning props around and throwing blankets over the grizzlier scenes. If he wanted to use my five-year-old as a test subject, he’d have to tone it down to the “before 7 o’clock” setting. Maybe he really thought he’d learn something from a test run, but I think he was just excited to share his passion with someone else.
Lily hopped around in excitement, the cardboard discs sandwiching her threatened to fall apart with every jump. We had sat down one night and Googled costume ideas, but her mind was made up from the get-go. She insisted on being a button. Whatever, it was super easy, and her costume was already done a month ahead of the date.
Celebratory sounds grew louder as my brother emerged from the entrance.
“Okay, kiddo! Are you ready?” Alex asked in a loopy ghost voice.
Lily nodded and bolted forward.
“Whoa whoa whoa!” Alex called, “it’s dangerous to go alone!”
He grinned at me as he untied a line of string.
Out on the verge, a dummy Alex had intended to be a clown, was propped up in a lawn chair. He made it from his clothes stuffed with more clothes and then threw a clown wig on it. I assumed he’d refine it before the big day. Right then, it was just a lump of laundry sporting a polka dot shirt and a wig.
A single foil balloon was tied to the arm of the chair. Alex handed it to Lily, giving her this whole speech about how the balloon would keep her safe and how important it was to hang on to it.
I liked this new touch. I think a lot of parents would get anxious sending their kids onto a strangers’ property where they can’t see them. The balloons keep track of where everyone is and help to assuage those fears. Though, I wondered if he considered who’s supposed to give the balloons out.
Alex told Lily to count to thirty and made for his hiding spot. I helped her count all the way to thirty, and then she took off into the maze.
I watched her balloon bob around. It would speed up abruptly or slowly round corners. I heard a growl from a low-quality speaker ring out above the ambient Halloween music, followed by a little yelp from Lily. The balloon retreated and stopped. I could picture her gathering her courage. Sure enough, the balloon started making progress again.
I stood on the sidewalk smiling to myself and shuffled my feet to stay warm. I was shocked to attention when I suddenly sensed movement nearby. I took a step back as three figures shambled passed me without a word. I’d been idly glancing around in boredom that entire time and hadn’t seen them approach. The only car parked on the street was mine.
I caught their profiles as they went. The person in the lead took great, loping steps, throwing the weight of their bulky costume ahead of them. Their torso was conversely thin with saggy skin, thin hairs popped out of the top of their pale head. The middle one almost seemed to glide forward. Theirs was the least intricate costume, as they simply looked like someone hunched over in a burlap sack. I thought they must be on wheels, somehow. Trailing the trio was someone who looked to be attending a masquerade. I caught a flash of black contacts in the peripheral of their mask.
They paid me absolutely no mind; like I wasn’t even there.
Must be friends of Alex’s, I settled on. If anyone knew people who get that into Halloween so early, it was my brother.
I was going to make a joke about needing more balloons, but they had already rounded the first corner of the maze.
Lily’s balloon was more than halfway through when I heard that growl again, tripped by the strangers. They must’ve been moving really fast, not exactly allowing time to stop and smell the corpses. Lily’s balloon hit a straightaway near the end when I heard a startled squeak from her. The cry cut off abruptly, and the balloon wavered like a fishing bobber. It went end to end of that longer corridor, as if Lily was sprinting back and forth. It came to a halt and then just floated away. Lily had let go.
I watched the balloon drift into the sky, feeling a cold sweat break out on my skin. The tense music from that stupid Halloween CD lent an air of ridiculousness to how I was feeling.
“Lily!” I called out, trying to keep the concern from my voice.
No response from anyone.
“LILY!” I yelled into the first five feet of the maze.
I heard wood scraping on wood off to my right. I ran to the edge of the maze and saw those three adult trick-or-treaters exiting through the chicken door.
I expected them to say something, either to me or each other, but they quietly made for the sidewalk.
“Hey!” I shouted.
The tall, pale one with the weird body stopped and turned to look at me. Their tiny yellow eyes narrowed even further in confusion.
“Yea, you.” I continued, “Who are you people?”
The tall one looked around, its too-wide mouth drawn in a grimace. The other two stopped on the sidewalk and waited for their companion. My eyes couldn’t even focus on the one in the rough cloak. The tall one’s gaze finally fell on the clown dummy behind me. It replaced the thin hairs on its head with bright red tufts, sprouting from its scalp. Multicolored splotches broke out all over their body. With a look of satisfaction, it backed away again.
“What the hell-” I started. Noticing I was still upset with it, contentment gave to rage as its massive mouth flashed into a snarl, baring countless grimy teeth. It roared and wobbled towards me. I fell back onto the grass and scrambled for the maze. Self preservation screamed in tandem with concern for my daughter. In a terrified frenzy, I rammed into the flimsy plywood walls.
I kept shouting Lily’s name until everything was leveled. The world and I spun as I poured over the ruined decorations. It was impossible. Lily went in and I would have seen her come out. She had to be there! By the time I felt Alex shaking me back to my senses, the trio was gone. I collapsed when I found half of her button costume, the cardboard all mangled and torn. My mind reeling as to the origin of the tiny red flecks, peppering the crumpled costume.
Before the police put curtains up, some neighbors came around to take pictures and tried to congratulate Alex on “out-doing himself with the ‘crime scene.” We’re still being questioned on Lily’s disappearance, and apparently, I’m being treated with a great deal of suspicion. The investigators are at least humoring bringing those Trick-or-treaters in for questioning. Alex maintains he has no idea who they were and says he never even saw them. The only theory I dare to hold is those three kidnapped Lily and concealed her as they escaped. And the transformation that thing went through. The way it seemed like a nocturnal predator caught in the light of day. That feeling I got- that I shouldn’t be able to look at them. I think it all comes back to our early Halloween activities.
Halloween started for a reason, and I think...we enjoyed the protection our numbers provided.
Similarly, I think they enjoyed the camouflage.
I can only imagine the calamity when none of that happens this year.
submitted by Seething_Entropy to nosleep [link] [comments]


2020.10.04 00:37 NotErikCartman TBxFF


Summary:

Starlight's powers can be super embarrassing sometimes. And super destructive.

Work Text:

"For more on this devastating news, we're joined by Starlight."
"Hello, nice to meet you." Starlight greeted the reporter and his camera crew with the widest smile possible, just like she'd been told to do in these situations.
"You too." The reporter said dismissively, before asking, "Can you tell us more about this terrible tragedy?"
"Well, I wouldn't call it a tragedy, but..." Starlight said hesitantly, trying to downplay it.
"You wouldn't?" The reporter frowned, "We have several homes still without working electricity, and crashed cars all around us. What exactly would you call it?"
For a moment Starlight's smile slipped, before it came right back with a vengeance as she explained, "Yes, but thankfully myself and Queen Maeve were here to take everyone who needed medical attention to the hospital, and the blast was restricted to just a few blocks. No one was seriously hurt, thank God, so there's no real need to blow this out of proportion."
"What do you mean exactly the blast was restricted?" The reporter quickly asked with a frown, "Are you saying you know what caused this?"
"Well, I..." Starlight froze like a deer caught in headlights, desperately trying to come up with an excuse, but instead her mind went straight back to a few hours ago, causing her to blush furiously...
*
A few hours ago...
"I'm... I'm really not sure about this." Annie stammered nervously.
"Relax, everything is going to be fine." Maggie reassured, "Hey, do you trust me?"
"It's not fair to use Disney references against me." Annie grumbled, and then after a long pause softly added, "Yes."
"Well then..." Maggie grinned wickedly, "Bend over."
Annie took a deep and calming breath, and then psyched herself up, "Okay, I can do this... I can do this..."
Maggie Shaw, AKA, Queen Maeve couldn't help but smile, and hated herself for it. Annie January, AKA, Starlight was just too cute for her own good. She had thought for sure that would have been both physically and mentally beaten out of her by now, but while she wasn't the naïve girl she'd first met, becoming a lot tougher and bad ass, she managed to keep a surprising amount of cuteness. It was a serious problem, because Maggie was terrified that Homelander would find out the relationship between them had, evolved. But Maggie forgot all about that when the mighty Starlight bent over in front of her, showing off that deceptively juicy little booty of hers, and giving it to Queen Maeve. Specifically Annie crawled into the centre of the cheap hotel room bed, her cute butt pointed directly at Maggie, offering it to her as a gift.
One Maggie had talked her into giving her, but it still counted. Although she should probably hurry up before Annie lost her nerve. Luckily she was already equipped with her strap-on, and was rubbing lube into it as she positioned herself behind the younger woman, admiring Starlight in her costume for a few more long seconds before she had to move it out of the way. Of course, this was Starlight's OG costume, as removing the strip of cloth that Vought gave her to wear would pretty much leave her with nothing, and part of the thrill of this was that it was Queen Maeve doing such an unspeakable things to sweet little OG Starlight. Oh yes, this was sweet little OG Starlight looking dishevelled, and even violated already, simply by having her cute little skirt and cape pushed upwards, and then her panties pulled downwards, revealing that ass in all it's glory.
Again, she just had to admire that work of art for a few long seconds, and then again when she spread those cheeks to reveal her target. She then licked her lips, spat onto Annie's ass hole, and then started rubbing that saliva in with her tongue. Or to put it another way, Queen Maeve started to give sweet little OG Starlight a rim job. And even that was just a warm-up for the main event. Admittedly a very pleasant warm-up, one which had sweet little Annie January gasping, whimpering, crying out and even moaning in pure pleasure, and maybe in anticipation of what was to come, showing just how much the older woman had corrupted the younger one. God, Maggie loved it. And she loved this ass.
Ever since they had started this whole affair, shortly after Starlight had been angry enough with her lying boyfriend to drink with her, and then do so much more, Queen Maeve had been obsessed with this perfect little booty. And tonight it would finally be hers, in every single way. So it only seemed right to start off with a nice, long, drawn-out rim job. After all, this was the very first thing Maggie had done to Annie's ass, and it was the perfect preparation for more. And it was just incredibly tasty. Not quite as heavenly as Annie's pussy, or her cum, but still pretty amazing. Also, with any luck, it could help her girl relax, which was really necessary right now, as she was understandably very tense.
Annie couldn't believe she agreed to do this. Any of it really. Nothing in The Seven was like she imagined it. Hell, she had been in Capes For Christ, for God sakes, and now she was bent over in a cheap hotel room, about to get fucked in the ass like a common whore. And God help her, she actually wanted it. It felt like she would do anything to please her Queen. Even this. Because everything they had done so far was amazing, and she truly believed if anyone could make her like this, it was... Maggie. This woman, who she used to idolized, had taught her more about pleasing her body than she thought possible, and she wanted to give her this, her last cherry.
While she was determined to go through with this Annie was extremely nervous, and was sure that she was going to break Maggie's strap-on with her insides if she tried to stick it in now. Hopefully her insides didn't have the same enhanced strength and healing that the outside did, otherwise this was going to be very embarrassing. Or more accurately, even more so. But Starlight was doing her best not to think about that right now, and instead concentrated on the tongue massaging her ass hole. Well, she tried, but it was hard to get out of her own head and relax, even when the mighty Queen Maeve swirled her tongue around her back door, as well as up and down it. Which normally relaxed her, but this time it didn't do the trick, which was even more frustrating.
It was all very pleasurable though, which was a very good sign. Not as good as getting her pussy licked, fingered, or fucked with a toy, but enough that she wouldn't absolutely hate this. At least not all of it. Hell, She didn't even mind when the tongue was exchanged for a finger, which Maggie very slowly pushed inside her most private hole. Annie couldn't resist letting out a sharp cry at the initial penetration, although it didn't really hurt, she was just a little overwhelmed by the sensation, and the one which followed it. Namely, that finger slowly slid up to the knuckle into her butt hole, and then after a brief pause, beginning to slide in and out of her back door.
"Oooooooooh fuck, this is a tight little hole." Maggie moaned, mostly to herself.
"I'm glad I please you, my Queen." Annie replied, trying to make it sound sarcastic, but it was clear that she meant it.
"Oh, you do honey, mmmmmmm, you always do." Maggie grinned, "And I'm going to please you, too."
"I, I hope so." Annie grumbled, although again she meant it.
"I will, I promise." Maggie swore, before pressing a kiss to Annie's lower back, "Now just relax and give me that ass."
"Yes my Queen." Annie tried for sarcasm again, but was severely undermined by a moan escaping her lips, which caused the other woman to chuckle wickedly.
This really took Annie by surprise, while Maggie had fingered her ass before, and it was always to push the blonde over the edge of orgasm, or while she was cumming, and Annie had always thought that had a lot more to do with what was going on with her pussy. But for better or for worse, she found herself actually enjoying it. So much so it didn't take long for her to start moaning in almost pure pleasure. They went through the same thing after Queen Maeve pushed another finger into Starlight's ass hole. Which she was thankfully lost in for quite a while, Maggie twirling and curling her fingers around inside Annie's ass, making sure she was nice and stretched out for what was to come, and maybe ready as she was ever going to be.
Then finally Queen Maeve pulled her finger out of Starlight's butt and firmly ordered, "Spread your cheeks for me, sweetie. Mmmmmmmm yessssssssss, I want to see sweet little Starlight spreading her cheeks nice and wide, and offering up her virgin ass hole as a gift to her Queen."
"Yes my Queen." Annie replied and obeyed softly and without a hint of sarcasm, although she couldn't help but hesitate nervously while doing so.
Queen Maeve only found that more endearing, and it added to the fantasy, and honestly, the reality, that she was further corrupting the once innocent Starlight. After all, if someone with premonition powers told them that this was where they would end up just a few months after originally meeting each other Maeve would most likely laugh, or more likely 'shoot the messenger', maybe literally, while sweet little Starlight would have been just disgusted. But here they were, Annie January slowly reaching back, grabbing hold of her meaty cheeks, and then spreading them wide apart so that Maggie Shaw could take her anal virginity. Which was something that once again Maeve had to savour again, before she did the one thing she had wanted the most ever since she got a good look at this girl's booty.
Namely pressing the tip of her lubed up cock against that forbidden hole and slowly beginning to push forwards, causing innocent little Starlight to cry out loudly, as her most intimate hole began stretching for a toy for the very first time. Oh yes, she was stretching Annie's ass, and it wasn't long before she was stretching it wider than ever before. Wider, and wider, and wider, until the head of the cock slid through it and into Annie's cute little ass. Her cock! Oh yes, Queen Maeve's cock was the first to violate Starlight's butt hole, meaning that in that moment she had taken this sweet girl's anal cherry. It was hers! Just like Annie's ass would be when Maggie was finished with it.
This was something Maeve very much wanted to share with the class, but given that unsurprisingly Starlight had just cried out in pain from being anally violated for the first time, it seemed like a bad time. Besides, Annie was only hers for as long as she wanted to be, something Maggie made very clear on a regular basis, given what both women had gone through. Of course, it was hard to stay focused on that when they were indulging in such a twisted act, one which Maggie savoured for a few long seconds. Which more importantly gave sweet and innocent little Starlight a chance to relax, and get used to the sensation of having her ass hole stretched wide open for an invading force. Or at least, as used to it as she could do at this point.
Of course, inevitably Queen Maeve pushed forwards, causing her big dick to slide through Starlight's tight little back hole and deeper into her back passage. To make this moment perfect, sweet little Starlight continued spreading her cheeks to give her Queen the best possible look at that big cock disappearing into her widely stretched butt hole. Which probably wasn't a conscious decision, Annie probably just too lost in the sensations to do anything but stay perfectly still, but Maggie still appreciated it. And she showed that appreciation by moving as slowly as she possibly could, to make sure she did minimize the pain for poor sweet Annie. Although admittedly her enjoyment was a big factor, as Maeve gleefully savoured every moment of fucking Starlight in the ass.
Annie whimpered, gasped and cried out in pain throughout the butt stuffing. It wasn't quite as bad as she imagined it would be, especially considering the pain she'd experienced 'on the job', but it was certainly the most unique pain she had ever experienced. Thankfully she'd never been attacked in that area before, and this was something she'd actually consented too. Something that maybe even she wanted. Not before she started dating Queen Maeve, but after she realized just how fixated Maggie was on her butt, and how much she wanted to fuck it, the idea became increasingly appealing. And while the initial pain of the anal penetration had been just as bad as she thought it would be, the rest of losing her back door cherry was surprisingly bearable. Especially given the happy look on the face of her lover.
She looked even happier after those thighs came to rest against Annie's juicy ass cheeks, announcing every inch of that big strap-on dildo was buried deep within Starlight's butt. This initially surprised her, as she had begun to think this would never happen, but then when she did it, took every inch of that big dick up her butt, Annie was almost overwhelmed with a weird sense of pride. Especially as, in her current position, it was easy to look over her shoulder, meaning that she got to see the happy look on Queen Maeve's face throughout the butt stuffing, then turn into a wide grin and chuckle of delight when the older woman finished burying her cock into the younger one's bottom. Which then led to some words of encouragement.
"Good girl, ooooooooooh, that's a very, very good girl. Just a little more, just a little more, mmmmmmmm fuckkkkkkkkkkk, ah fuck, oh baby, you did it!" Maggie tried to encourage softly towards the end, but then completely lost it when the butt fucking was finally completed and she was all the way inside the, maybe formally, innocent girl's rectum, "Oh fuck baby, you just took it all! Every single inch all the way up your perfect little butt! Oh God, I'm so proud of you! Mmmmmmmmm, Queen Maeve is so proud of Starlight for taking every single inch of this big dick all the way up her tight little ass. Ohhhhhhhhh fuck, I used to think there was a stick up here, mmmmmmmm, and maybe there was, but we replaced it with a nice big cock, didn't we baby? Yes we did, mmmmmmmm, and now? Now you're going to let me fuck this perfect little fat ass, like a good little anal whore."
Those words made Annie blush furiously, but she didn't reply, because what could she possibly say? It wasn't like Maeve said anything that wasn't true, and she probably wasn't even aware of what she was saying she was so lost in her lust, so it would just be more embarrassing for them both, if she called her out on it. Besides, by pausing to gloat, Maeve was actually giving her a chance to relax and get used to this weird sensation. Or at least, as used to it as she was likely to get. Which was surprisingly effective, as Annie's rectum slowly relaxed and accepted it was going to be used as a cock depository. Then her poor butt hole, which had barely had a chance to get used to being a cock pocket, had to get use to officially being used as a fuck hole.
Inevitably the other woman pulled her hips back, causing inch after inch of dildo to slowly slide out of Annie's ass hole. Then when it was about half way out, she slid right back in again, and then repeated the process over and over again. Oh God, a cock was sliding in and out, in and out, in and out of her back door, making it official. She, Annie January, was getting butt fucked. Butt fucked by Queen Maeve! Oh God, Starlight, who was supposed to be an inspiration to women everywhere, and of all ages, was bent over and spreading her cheeks and allowing the legendary Queen Maeve to use her most private hole as a fuck hole for her pleasure. Oh God, Annie couldn't believe this was happening to her.
Some combination of those words echoed in her mind over and over again for the next few minutes, which felt more like hours, as the other woman used her for her pleasure. Which should have been horrifying, especially given exactly what part of her the legendary Queen Maeve was using. But it was, somehow, not enough to be off-putting. And while she was lost in her thoughts the pain slowly faded away to simple discomfort, and then nothing at all. Nothing but pleasure. Oh God, before Annie could realize what was going on she found herself letting out a moan of pure pleasure. Something which made her blush furiously, and then an even deeper shade of red as this of course led to the older woman laughing in delight, and taunting her.
"I knew it!" Maggie chuckled with delight, after getting over the initial shock herself, "I fucking knew it, mmmmmmmm yesssssssssss, it's always the quiet ones. Oh fuck yes, the good little Christian girl loves it up the ass. What a fucking cliché. Mmmmmmmm yeahhhhhhhhhh, I've known girls like you, my entire life. So prim and proper, but once my girl cock is in their asses they're total anal whores. Ohhhhhhhhh yeahhhhhhhhhh, it's always the same. Except maybe, you. And that's just because I don't think I've ever had a girl moaning for me so soon. Mmmmmmmm, makes me wonder how quickly I can make you cum for me. And you know what? I can't wait to find out! Oooooooooh, fuck yeah, moan for me little Starlight, moan for me!"
If it was possible to die from embarrassment Annie would have definitely done so in that moment. Which somehow only added to her enjoyment, as did the fact that Maggie pushed her hands off of her cheeks, and slapped them hard enough to make them jiggle. To make matters even worse, that gentle spanking actually had her crying out, whimpering and even moaning in pleasure, just like the sadistic bitch wanted. Oh God, why had Annie ever agreed to this in the first place? She must of been out of her mind. This was gross, and disgusting, and weird, and only total sluts liked it up the butt. Annie had never in a million years thought that she would be one of them, so why had she agreed to this? And why was she continuing to let it happen?
Of course she knew the answer to both these questions, and that it was simply that she had feelings for Queen Maeve. Deep, overwhelming feelings, which had somehow led her to being bent over like a little bitch, and getting fucked like one. And even now, those stupid feelings were keeping her in place, and allowing Maeve to do whatever she wanted to her, no matter how twisted and perverted it was. How humiliating. How horribly good it felt. Oh God, it might be simultaneously the best and the worst thing that ever happened to her, which was really saying something, especially when it came to the worst. And the worst part? She was going to cum. Nothing could stop that now.
Especially with Queen Maeve continuing to smack her ass, and encouraging her, "Yessssssssss, mmmmmmmmm, that's it, moan for me little bitch! Moan and cum! Oh yes, cum for me! Cum while my dick is in your fat ass! Oooooooooooh yesssssssssss, cum like a bitch! An anal bitch! Oh yes, ohhhhhhhhhhhh, fuck yes, that's what you are, Starlight. Oh yes, sweet little Starlight is my anal bitch. I took your back door cherry, and now? Now your ass is mine! Literally! Yeahhhhhhhhhh, ooooooooooohhhhhhhhhhhh fuckkkkkkkkkkkkk, your ass is mine! I own it! And now you're gonna cum like the bitch you are! Yes, yes, oh yeeeeeeeeeeesssssssssss, cum for me! Cum, fucking cum! Cum now! Cum, oh fuck! Aaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhh fuckkkkkkkkkkkkkk!"
She tried to stop this, but it was no use. She tried to stop herself from moaning, but she couldn't do that either. All poor Annie could do was stop herself from cumming as soon as she was ordered to do so. Even then she came incredibly quickly in the grand scheme of things, and what was worse she then came over and over again, each climax more powerful than the last. And in the process Annie felt her powers activate. At that point, she didn't even try to stop it. No, there was barely even any warning, as one moment her eyes were flickering, and then they glowed a blinding white, the entire room seemingly filling up with it. And yet, Queen Maeve continued brutalizing Starlight's poor little butt hole, truly turning innocent little Annie January into her fuck hole.
Queen Maeve was stronger than Starlight. She was stronger then pretty much everybody, with one terrifying exception, that she didn't like to think about at times like this. The point was, Maeve was strong, and normally had to be very careful with the people around her, especially her lovers. But not Starlight. No, this prim and proper Christian girl could take everything Maeve could give her, which was also part of the appeal. That was certainly the case now, as Maeve slowly worked up to giving her full speed and strength to what was truly becoming a rectum wrecking, and no doubt it was only Starlight's enhanced healing which would allow her to ever sit right again. Among other things.
It wasn't something Maeve even planned on doing, it just kind of happened. One minute she was carefully thrusting as slow and gentle as possible to give her girl a chance to adjust to having her ass obscenely violated, the next she was pounding so hard and deep her hips were literally a blur. Better yet so were Starlight's big juicy butt cheeks, which Maeve wouldn't have been able to even see if it wasn't for her enhanced senses. She would however hear the deafening sound of flesh on flesh, and Starlight's screams of pleasure, which had to be echoing throughout the whole city. Which was thankfully drowning out Maeve's ramblings, as she just couldn't help but get completely carried away with the dirty talk.
"YESSSSSSSSSSSSSS, CUM FOR ME YOU LITTLE BITCH, AAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHH FUCKKKKKKKKKKKKKKK!" Maeve yelled at the top of her lungs, while grabbing Starlight's pretty blonde hair and yanking it back, and continuing to spank that cute little ass, "MMMMMMMMMMM YEAHHHHHHHHHHHH, CUM LIKE AN ANAL BITCH! CUM LIKE THE ANAL BITCH YOU ARE! OOOOOOOOOOOH YESSSSSSSSSSSSSS, MMMMMMMMMM FUCKKKKKKKKKKKK, YOU ARE MY LITTLE ANAL BITCH! I OWN YOUR ASS! IT'S MINE! YOU'RE MINE! ALL MINE! OOOOOOOOOOHHHHHHHHHHHH YEEEEEEEEEEEEEESSSSSSSSSSSS, FUCKING CUM FOR ME STARLIGHT, CUM FOR ME, AAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH FUCKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKK!"
She would probably have to apologize later for some of the things she said, but it would totally be worth it, given that those words combined with the other end of the dildo bashing against her clit, and the sheer joy of sodomizing sweet little Starlight gave Maeve maybe the most satisfying climax of her life. Which was really saying something, considering all the other naughty things she had done to this woman, and this woman had done for her. But it was true, her favourite thing ever was fucking this perfect ass. And thankfully it seemed that Starlight felt the same way, given just how hard she was screaming and cumming for her. Although the most impressive thing was yet to come.
Firstly Starlight started hammering backwards against her thrusts, almost making Maeve lose her balance. Because apparently Queen Maeve was stronger than Starlight under normal circumstances, but when there was a cock in her ass sweet little Annie January went supernova. Apparently literally, as all of a sudden the room was filled with bright yellow and then white light, which left the 'Queen' blind for several long minutes after the fact. Of course she didn't need her eyes to continue destroying that perfect ass, but it was the devastation she was hearing around them which caused the older superhero to groan with displeasure, and then pull herself away from the younger one. Which involved pulling her cock out of Starlight's ass with a wonderfully obscene sound, and then moving back to admire her handiwork.
Of course, she was still having trouble seeing at first, even as thankfully light was fading away, now she wasn't lighting up Starlight like a Christmas tree with orgasms. She could just about make out the shape of the other woman, collapsing face down as she tried to recover from her climaxes, accidentally perfectly presenting herself for a little photo shoot. Which Maggie took advantage of with an evil smile, quickly retrieving her phone, and then when her vision had returned enough, she took a picture of that widely stretched crater which had only a few minutes ago been a virgin rosebud. Admittedly, it felt more like hours, but still the devastation was impressive, and again, it didn't look like Starlight would ever recover if it wasn't for her enhanced healing.
With her vision now fully restored Maeve smiled wickedly at her magnificent handiwork. It was something she dearly wished she could spend much longer admiring, but sadly it seems their little tripped down Hershey highway had some unintended consequences. One which even a weary cynic like Queen Maeve had to do something about. Or maybe that was Starlight being a bad influence on her? Either way, Starlight certainly wouldn't let it go, quickly collecting her clothes and putting them back on as she quickly hopped over to the window and witnessed the devastation she had caused. Which actually caused the blonde to cover her face in gasp with horror, which would've been cute, if it wasn't for the reason behind it.
Actually, it was still cute, but Maeve's heart broke when sweet little Annie gasped, "Oh my God! Did, did I do that?"
"Yeah." Maggie admitted, for better or for worse, and then she tried to make the other woman feel better, "But I'm pretty sure no one was hurt."
"You're pretty sure?" Annie snapped, and then grumbled, "But you don't know, do you? Unless you have a secret power no one knows about, or something."
"No, but if I listened carefully, I can tell if a nearby heart stops beating. And none of them did." Maggie said firmly, even though by her own admission, she wasn't 100% sure. Then when she got a look in response she insisted, "It will be fine. We'll just get out there, and save the day. We're The Seven, it's what we do."
Annie initially just grunted in response, heading towards the door, only to stop and question, "Wait, you're not... you're not going out there like that, are you?"
"Well, it could be a fun new look." Maggie teased with a wicked grin.
"I'm sure Vought would love that." Annie grumbled, "And it wouldn't have questioning implications on the whole, empowering women thing, you're supposed to be all about."
"Perhaps you're right." Maggie admitted, before grinning wickedly, "But before I put it away, it has to be cleaned properly."
"So get a cloth or something." Annie said dismissively.
"I was more thinking something along the lines of your hot little mouth." Maggie said, deadly seriously.
Which of course caused Annie to blush furiously, and adorably, and then stammered, "Wha, what?"
"You heard." Maggie said firmly, taking a few menacing steps forward.
For some insane reason Annie actually considered this for a few long seconds, before dismissing it, "No."
"No?" Maggie questioned.
"No." Annie said more firmly, "I've tried enough new, and weird, stuff for you today."
"Are you sure?" Maggie pushed, taking a big risk in the process, "Because you just lit up soooooooooo bright because you were cumming so hard with a cock in your ass. Mmmmmmmm, in fact, you came so hard from being fucked in the ass, I really don't think I should waste time fucking you any other way from now on. Oh yes, you should just be my little anal bitch, cumming nice and hard every time I stick my dick up your perfect little butt. And afterwards you should show me the proper respect, by being my ass to mouth whore. I mean, I think I'm reading the room, but maybe I'm wrong, huh? Am I? Just tell me, and I swear I'll never fuck your ass again."
There was a long pause, then Annie whimpered, "Please don't."
"Don't what?" Maggie pushed.
"Don't, not fuck me like that." Annie blushed, "Just please, don't make me, you know?"
There was another pause, then Maggie shrugged, "Okay, I'll let you off just this once. But this does need cleaning..."
With that Maggie took off the strap-on, and pushed it into her own mouth. Which certainly wasn't Maggie's preference, but it was worth it to see the look on Annie's face. Especially when she moaned in pleasure. Admittedly, that was a little forced, because again, this wasn't really her thing, but the truth was Annie January did have one tasty little booty, and it was a pleasure to slowly clean that cock right in front of Annie's face. More importantly, it planted the idea that this really wasn't so bad, and maybe this was yet another thing this sweet little church girl wouldn't have thought she would've liked, but actually would, as long as it was for her Queen.
"Twisted bitch." Annie grumbled.
"Actually." Maggie grinned wickedly, as she took the cock out of her mouth, "I think we just proved once and for all that you're the bitch in this relationship."
In response Annie just rolled her eyes, and then just jumped out the window as she began to help the innocent lives which she accidentally put in danger. Queen Maeve was quick to follow Starlight, and as they told the reporters who would later arrive, no one was seriously hurt. There was probably a couple millions worth of property damage, and Maeve wasn't sure that Starlight would ever stop blushing, which could be a serious problem when the cameras were rolling. But it was worth it, even if she only got to fuck Starlight in the ass that one time. Which certainly wouldn't be the case if Maeve had anything to say about it. Oh yes, lighting up Starlight with butt sex would now be a more regular thing than any actual type of heroics, something that she dearly wanted to tell the whole world about.
Instead, she reassured the public, "Don't worry, with me and Starlight here, everything will work out, in the end."
Annie yelped and blushed, first when Maggie seem to appear out of nowhere, and then when she playfully slapped her sore ass, leaving her to rush off after stammering, "R, right... in, in the end."
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2020.10.03 17:07 LordCongra [Runes & Brews] - Book 1: Trouble Brewing, Chapter 11

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Theo clapped a hand over his mouth, guilt lancing through him. His stomach was in knots. Okay, first. I need to make sure I’m okay before I move more.
Patting himself down, he probed for any obvious injuries. It hurt to move, but nothing felt broken or dislocated, just bruised. He hobbled over to his shelves and picked up a healing potion - a tincture. The sharp bite of the alcohol medium burned on his tongue as rejuvenating force flowed through him.
Looking down at the floor, one small worry fell away. It’s a good thing I enchant my bottles, only three broke from the Wind Tunnel.
Theo shook himself out of his stupor, things felt a little… cloudy still. Had he hit his head? Something teased at the back of his mind about healing potions draining one’s stamina, but he couldn’t bring himself to care at the moment. Whatever. Maraz. Right.
All of this process had taken him maybe half a minute, but that was half a minute that Maraz was bleeding out on the ground. He ran out the door, nearly falling off the steps with his speed, and reached the guild representative’s side.
With a quick glance of his surroundings, people were staring but no one came forward. “Somebody please help! He’s hurt!” Tears pricked the corner of Theo’s eyes, but the sting couldn’t even compare to how he was feeling about what he’d done.
A few people met Theo’s eyes but frowned and shook their heads - or just the latter for two fulvitres. One human came running from a street over, but the second they saw Maraz’s face they froze and turned away.
“Gods, people! He’s bleeding!” he cried out, but everyone began to inch away.
A fulvitre shopkeeper that Theo recognized from down the street - a wand-maker he had wanted to check out sometime - shook their head once more. “Apologies, shopkeeper, but no one here wants to help him. Not after all he has done.”
Theo grasped at the flames of anger in his chest, seizing them for himself. “Well if you all won’t, I will.” He began to check over Maraz. The man was covered in scores of cuts from the glass in areas his clothes hadn’t blocked, but the worst was the bleeding at the crown of his head.
He must have hit his head off of my window frame on the way out, he thought, grimacing as he touched the area, making sure there weren’t any obvious breaks. Fortunately, only the skin appeared to be broken as far as he could tell. Good, this should work then.
Taking the healing tincture out of his pocket, Theo uncorked it and dripped two drops of the potent brew onto the wound. He had to pull Maraz’s hair out of the way, which coated his fingers in brilliant red blood, but he forced himself to do it regardless.
The large gash on Maraz’s head sealed up quickly under the effects of Theo’s potion, but he didn’t wake up.
An adventurer had told him about what to do in this situation once, and Theo just remembered, so he turned an ear towards Maraz’s mouth, staring down at his chest as he did. It rose and fell slowly and he felt shallow breaths against his ear. He sighed in relief. Just unconscious, not dead. Thank Taberna. I need to get him off this street.
“Can anyone at least help me carry him inside my shop?” he begged, but the street was empty when he looked up. A growl of frustration left his throat. “I suppose it’s on me then.”
Lifting Maraz’s side up, Infusion mana reached his eyes. Just as I thought, enchanted cloth suit. That saved him from any puncture wounds at least. He ran a hand over the back of Maraz’s head slowly, picking away any glass shards in the man’s hair. A few were embedded but he didn’t have any way to remove them right now.
Finally, he attempted to lift Maraz. Gods, the man was heavy. Theo frowned, tapping his chin in thought. Even with his newfound Snap strength, he couldn’t lift the hulking form of Maraz. The man likely had a full foot of height or more over his own short form and was essentially a walking slab of muscle.
He tried lacing Maraz’s arms over his shoulders and standing up, but he couldn’t find enough leverage to lift himself off the ground. An idea struck him, however. He carefully lowered the man to the ground before running into the house. Things had shifted around in the past few days, but he eventually found his original air cage diagram. With the runic layout fresh in his mind, he ran back out to Maraz.
His hope that the man would be awake by now was dashed when he was still laying on the ground, eyes closed. “Well, whatever. Let’s hope this works.” Theo crouched low to the ground, manually casting the air cage spell. It snapped into place around Maraz’s form, lifting him off the ground as the air under him solidified.
The strain on his mind intensified, and the vestiges of his mana that were left were draining, but he came prepared. Uncorking a mana potion, he drank greedily from it, feeling his stores replenish to a more appropriate level.
With the air cage locked in his mind, he mentally tied its position to himself. When he stood up, the load on his mind intensified, but he was stronger now. He could handle this, even if he was hemorrhaging mana every second. The air cage followed suit, lifting Maraz’s body into the air.
His head drooped downward, a side effect of Theo not adding runes for the head to avoid suffocating someone. He cringed at that, hoping it wouldn’t cause any undue harm, but he had to get the man off the street. What if a wagon came barreling by?
Slowly but surely, he treaded into his shop with Maraz floating just inches away from himself. It was a tight fit, but he managed to fit the brute through the doorway with only a little difficulty. He had to polish off the rest of the mana philtre to finish the job, however. Crouching down once more, he softly laid Maraz on the floor with the spell, feeling mentally exhausted. If the world had felt fuzzy when he used his healing tincture, it was full-on blurry now.
He crashed and thumped through his shop, trying to find his bearings. At last, he fingers closed around what he was looking for, a stamina potion. I am in for quite the morning tomorrow… He gritted his teeth before swallowing some of the brew. The bitter taste brought sharp clarity to him once more, his vision clearing and his mind working closer to how it should.
In his workshop, he found his tweezers and returned to the shop room where Maraz lay on the floor. Still unconscious. He grabbed a healing philtre and set to work. With the tweezers, he plucked shards of glass out of Maraz’s scalp, applying a drop of the philtre to the area afterward.
Once he’d cleared all of the glass he could find, he pulled Maraz’s head up and poured some of the healing potion down the man’s throat, rubbing it to force him to swallow it. He’d seen a farmer do that to a cow once and hoped the principle worked here too.
Some color returned to Maraz’s skin, relieving Theo further, but the guilt was still there, a knife twisting in his gut. Now that the situation had calmed down, emotions he’d been pushing away welled up. And so did his eyes.
“Please wake up, Maraz. I didn’t mean to hurt you. I just wanted to push you out of my shop so you couldn’t hurt me,” he said, tears falling on Maraz’s suit as he leaned over the man. He sat there for a moment, letting his emotions run their course.
Determination settled him, he ran through the door to his house and grabbed a towel - a red one - and a bucket of water. With the utmost care, he cleaned up the blood from Maraz and himself. The healing potion had closed up all of the man’s wounds, leaving light pink marks where they had been, but the man had bled.
As he was cleaning off Maraz’s face, golden honey eyes flicked open, meeting his. He yelped, falling on his butt. That hurt, he was still recovering from his own injuries. But he was happy, Maraz was finally awake!
Theo leaned in close, smiling at the brute. “You’re okay! Goodness, I was so worried! Maraz, I’m deeply sorry for what happened. You see, I Snapped the other day after you, well, broke my air cage and-”
Maraz held up a hand. “Please, Theo. Slow down. Gods, I hurt.” He eyed the remains of the healing potion in Theo’s hand. “Hand me that.”
Obliging, Theo handed him the bottle which he downed in a single gulp. “Better?”
“Bet- what the fuck happened?” he asked, staring at the destroyed front of the shop once more and groaning again. “Can you close your roof slats? Gods, the light hurts.”
“O-Of course.” As he walked over to the bar to close his roof slats, he explained to Maraz. “Well, you see. When you were here a few days ago, I Snapped after you broke my air cage spell. That’s caused some… problems with mana control currently. I’m releasing more at a time than I should even be able to. I made a new wand in hopes of simply pushing you out of my shop and closing the door on you but… well, we see where that went.” He smiled weakly, returning to sit near Maraz on the floor.
“And what was your plan-” he asked, gritting his teeth as he sat up. “Once you closed the door on me?”
Theo scratched his head. “Well, I uh- Hm. I wanted to enchant my door so you couldn’t break it, but I haven’t had the time to get around to that yet.”
Maraz lifted a hand, causing him to flinch. He frowned. “I’m not going to hurt you. At least right now.”
Lowering his raised hands, he watched Maraz check himself over for injuries. “Y-You’re not mad?”
“I don’t believe mad is the right word. My pride is hurt, yes. I’ve been properly trounced by a tiny shopkeeper by the name of Theodius, but I’m not mad. You… tended to my wounds immediately after, didn’t you? I don’t feel lightheaded enough for the blood loss to have been too bad. I- thank you. I’m guessing no one else helped?” he asked, glaring out the window before turning away and blinking rapidly. The light clearly still bothered him.
That was an… unexpected response. I’m almost more scared that he isn’t hitting me right now. Is Maraz more than just a guild thug? Theo asked himself, stifling a frown at the fact that Maraz was informed enough to know his full name. He chose his words carefully. “Well, it’s not that no one helped. It um is just that… no one was… available for your assistance?”
Maraz raised a brow, disbelief clear on his face. “You’re telling me not a single person came to see what happened with that loud of a crash.”
“Well, no. I just- okay. No one helped you,” he said, staring at the floor.
“Except you. Theo, I don’t blame them for not helping me. There’s probably not a single person working on this street that I haven’t… paid a visit to. And I’m more than aware of my reputation. It’s no surprise to me that I would have been left for dead. The question is, why did you help me?” Maraz asked, his honey-colored gaze forcing Theo’s eyes to meet his.
He squirmed uncomfortably where he was sitting. “I… caused this mess, I suppose. I didn’t want to hurt you, just… harmlessly push you out of my shop. Gods… my security deposit. Oh well, that’s gone.”
Laughing, Maraz coughed and winced. “You are an enigma, Theo. I threaten you, and you don’t even wish harm on me. Hell, you help me when you accidentally hurt me. That’s what this was, correct? An accident?”
Theo’s eyes widened. “Of course it was! I wouldn’t want to hurt you! I- don’t have it in me. I feel guilty enough as is.”
Maraz ran a hand through his hair, nose wrinkling at it came away covered in blood. Theo handed him the towel. “Theo, you’ve Snapped, correct? I’m unsurprised that your control was lacking in the heat of the moment. As much as I hurt right now- Do you recall what I told you?”
Fire returned to Theo’s chest. “Despite what happened, Maraz, I’m not changing my pri-”
Shaking his head, Maraz grinned. “Not the prices, Theo. I told you I’m bored. I’ve been working for the guild for quite some time. You may not be the first who has stood up to me, but you’re the only one who has been this… persistent. And annoying. But admittedly, entertaining. Even this, as hard as that is to believe. Life has felt… dull.”
Theo stared at him, hope gleaming in his eyes. “So does that mean you’re not going to threaten me about my prices anymore?”
Maraz glared at him, but there was no vigor behind it. “I still have my job, Theo.”
He frowned. “Oh.”
“But. In my book, you’ve earned yourself a bit of time. Keep coming up with ways to make my life not so dreadfully dull and we’ll see what happens. I have been… enjoying this game of cat and mouse. I find myself wondering what you’ll come up with next,” he said, shrugging, which led to another wince.
Suppressing a shudder, Theo glanced off to his window again. “H-How much time?”
Maraz lowered a brow. “Really now, Theo? Where’s the fun in it if you expect me?”
“I’m… not sure I appreciate this situation,” Theo said, crossing his arms.
Shrugging, Maraz laughed. “Don’t care.” He stood up, groaning in pain once more. With a glance around the room, a grin was back on his face. “Might wanna clean up a little. Your shop is a mess. That’s not good for business.”
Theo glared at him until Maraz turned around, snapping his face to a frown. “I suppose I should.”
“Well, I should get going. I could use a better potion,” Maraz said, clearly waiting for a retort from his jab.
A response bubbled up inside Theo, but he pushed it down. “...I hope you feel better soon, Maraz. I’m sorry once again. I didn’t mean to hurt you.”
His eyes widened, what might have been guilt crossed his face so quickly that Theo wasn’t sure he’d seen it right in the first place. “I’m fine. I won’t be beaten by you again. Remember that.” He pointed at Theo as he walked out the door.
Sighing, Theo took in the damage his shop had taken. Most of it was the window, only a few potions had broken, the enchanted glass saved the rest. He stood up and raised two hands. “Broomgust.” Shards of glass flew at him. He yelped and dropped to the floor, hearing the shards clatter against the wall behind him.
I have to do this the old fashioned way, huh? Theo thought, grabbing his broom. It took him awhile but eventually, he had a pile of broken glass on the floor. A single cast of Condense let him peel the spilled potions off the floor as the liquid turned gelatinous.
His doorbell rang. He turned around, the apology about not being open currently died on his lips. “Viktor. Uh, hello.”
The crystalline orb swayed in greeting. “Hello, Theo. I was informed that there had been an altercation at this property.”
Theo took a step back, surprised. News spreads fast. “Oh. Yes. You see uh-”
“I encountered Maraz on my trip here. After inquiring about the lifeblood soaking his suit, he informed me of his defenestration. As he is not pressing charges, you will be under no legal recourse for your actions. However, your security deposit is considered null and void at this point unless proper repairs are made,” Viktor said, the orb swiveling to take in the damage.
His shoulders sunk. “Ah. Yes. Am I… still allowed to work out of this property? I can find a way to pay for the repairs, I promise.”
“You may continue your business as usual. However, my understanding of your culture indicates that business may be decreased drastically when there are hazards such as broken glass inside and outside of your shop. I must also inform you, you are required to keep your storefront clear of any hazards as well,” he said, his orb drifting towards the window to stare outside.
“I was about to clean outside. I can get to it in just a moment,” Theo said, rubbing his face as wave of exhaustion shuddered through him.
“I must also inquire about your own physical health. From the path of the latent mana in the room, as well as the blood coating you, I am under the belief that you were harmed as well. Have you been maimed in any life-altering way?” Viktor asked, invasive winds touching Theo.
“Not in any life-altering way, I hope. My… backside hurts a bit, but I believe I’m just bruised. Though, I used a healing tincture and it was quite draining, surprisingly so,” he said, pressing a hand to his stomach. To his relief, he didn’t feel any pain from the action.
Viktor drifted closer to him, his gusts making Theo’s pant legs flap. “You may have been bleeding internally. Tell me, what was that experience like?”
Theo’s eyes widened, considering the possibility. “Um, painful? I’m not sure. I hope I wasn’t bleeding, but with how hard I hit, it’s certainly possible. I’ve had a dose of a healing tincture, a mana philtre, and a stamina philtre today. I believe I've healed enough that my life isn’t in danger but I know for a fact I will not be well tomorrow.”
“I have been instructed that chicken soup with wheat-based noodles in it is a cure-all for ailments. Perhaps you should research this wonderful panacea. It may help you in your own recovery,” he said, fingers of wind still prodding at Theo.
He sighed. “I don’t- Viktor, I’m sorry to inform you but… chicken noodle soup is simply nutritionally rich. It’s not like a potion. It won’t immediately heal me.”
The orb tilted downward, somehow managing to seem downtrodden. “Ah. I have adjusted the parameters of my knowledge on this ‘chicken noodle soup’ and thusly categorized it more appropriately. Thank you for your assistance in this matter, Theo. You may want to change your clothes before cleaning up the outside of your shop. Some may find the bloodstains objectionable to look upon.”
Theo tilted his head down, his entire outfit had bloodstains on it from Maraz. “Oh no. This was one of my favorite vests.”
“A regrettable loss. I must take my leave now, Theo. I wish you well in your recovery. If you would like, I could offer a ‘hug’, which I am told is comforting to humans,” he said, drifting back towards Theo.
“I- you know what? Okay. I could use a hug right now. Just… lightly, please,” he said, considering his aching body.
“I will apply appropriate force,” the orb affirmed, light winds gripping Theo. He felt odd wrapping his arms around what looked like nothing. It wasn’t very comforting, to be honest, but it made him feel the tiniest bit better.
Viktor broke contact first, the winds simply losing their form as the orb pivoted back towards the door. “Goodbye, Theo. I will check in with you later. Do not let your organic body come into any more undue harm.”
“I’ll uh, avoid that. Thank you for checking in on me, Viktor,” he said, waving the starborn off.
“You are most welcome. I appreciated being able to make closer contact with your organic body. It was most pleasing.” The orb drifted out the door, closing it before Theo could say anything about that last comment.
He glanced down at his clothes once more, then outside at the broken glass glittering in the sunlight. “Shi-” He stopped himself.
“Shoot.”
First Chapter Patreon advanced chapters: 6 Previous Chapter Next Chapter
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2020.10.03 12:44 Mandahrk Here's why you must never attempt to rescue a dog.

Some dogs are abandoned for a reason. I learnt that the hard way.
I found him halfway through my daily morning run.
I had traversed the winding jogging track as it cut through the wooded portion of the park, before making its way to the top of a little hillock, slicing it into two clean halves. It was at this little summit that I first heard it. This soft, barely audible whining coming from somewhere beneath the hulking oak tree to my right. I stopped and took a moment to catch my breath, which escaped out of my mouth as little puffs of steam, making me feel like an overworked smokestack.
He was peeking at me through a tiny gap in the unkempt grass that he was using like a shield, as soft rays of the early morning sun fought their way through the thick cloud cover and fell on his large brown head. I quickly scanned the surroundings and saw that there wasn't anyone else anywhere nearby. What in the world was this little pupper doing here? Had he been abandoned? Was he lost? He didn't seem to be wearing a collar. He gazed up at me almost longingly, so I decided to investigate. Barking softly softly, his tail began to wag as I trotted over to him. But maybe I got a little too close, too quickly, because he suddenly threw up his tail up like a battle standard, and growled. Mixed signals, huh? It was possible that whoever had left him here had also abused him. That would be a likely, if heartbreaking explanation of his odd behavior.
I decided to respect his boundaries, and retreated to a distance I thought would make him feel safe.
"Hey there, buddy!" I said, in a voice as sweet as saccharin. "What are you doing here all alone?"
He cocked his head to the right, and began looking at me in amazement with these strange, almost human like eyes. I snapped my fingers in rapid succession and whistled tenderly, letting him know I posed no threat to him. He howled delightfully as his bushy tail began sweeping the air once again.
I patted my thighs. "Come here, boy! Come!"
He sprinted towards me, trampling the grass with astonishingly long strides, startling me with his speed. I thought he was going to bowl me over, but he ground to a halt right outside of my reach, licking his lips and wagging his tail nervously. I instinctively bent towards him, but stopped when he looked warily at me. Better be safe here, and let him take the lead.
He hesitated, but began slowly approaching me, his nose buried in the ground, sucking up all the interesting smells as he kept watching me from the corner of his eyes; cautious, but hopeful. His whole backside started jerking left-right as his nostrils reached my shoes, and he howled in elation before licking away at my shins. He then jumped up, standing on his hind legs as he put his front paws on my waist for support, his tail turning into a blur. I crinkled my nose as he blew air in my face. His breath was rank, like a rotting corpse. Ugh, why did it smell so bad? Was he sick? Is that why he was abandoned? I fought through the repulsion, brought my hand down to his head, and began petting him. He really liked that, and showed as much to me by rubbing himself against my legs.
He then backed up, and jumped at me again, playfully biting at my fingers. I threw my hands up in the air, far out of his reach, so he went down and started nipping at my shoelaces. Fuck, he was really energetic, hopping from one place to another, running circles around me, barking, whining, biting, scratching, just an endless bundle of energy. If I'm being honest, it was getting to be a little bit much. His bites and scratches were starting to hurt, though he hadn't broken my skin yet, thankfully. It was when he caught my pants between his teeth, and began shaking his head furiously that I decided to speak up.
"Stop. That's enough." I said gently, but firmly. "Stop it."
He looked up at me questioningly, the fabric of my pants still tangled up in his mouth.
"Drop it." I said. He didn't listen and continued to bite at my leg, his teeth digging into the flesh. I decided to be a bit more stern.
"No!"
He froze, and I could feel his whole body tense up. He came at me again, trying to bite my knees, so I said no again, much louder this time. He reacted by baring his teeth at me aggressively as the hairs on his back stood up. It was a shocking change, going from playful to such violent behaviour in a matter of seconds. I felt a little nervous as I took in the baleful snarl on his face. Should I not have been so stern?
"It's okay buddy." I whispered, my voice a little unsteady now, not knowing how he'd react.
He growled threateningly as his eyes hardened and he began nipping at the air, his teeth gnashing awkwardly, sending a tingling sensation crawling down my spine. Jesus Fuck. What was the reason behind this sudden transformation? The dog almost looked rabid at this point. It suddenly dawned on me that I was all alone here, if he decided to attack me, which seemed to be a certainty now, I'd have to fight him off all by myself. I wanted to diffuse the situation, but he didn't look like he wanted to do anything other than to attack me.
He lunged at me, snapping his teeth dangerously, and I brought my foot up to push his face away, taking care not to hit him. But with the way he was looking at me, I doubt my restraint would last, not if I wanted to avoid getting bitten. He came at me again, this time wrapping his teeth around my shoe and biting with all his might. I quickly swung my leg and he jumped away to safety before charging at me again, fangs bared, ready to sink his canines into my flesh. I kicked at his head, more out of desperation than a desire to hurt the animal. But he was far too nimble, easy dodging my attack and pouncing on me again. And again. And again. He circled me like a predator, eyes sharp, growling menacingly. There was actual malice on his face, he didn't just look like your average angry mutt, there was something much more vicious going on here.
Sweat gushed down my brow and stained my pits as my heart began pounding so hard in my chest I feared it would burst out any second. This had turned into a very dangerous situation, and my fight and flight instinct was kicking in hard. He leapt at me one more time, but this time I connected. It was a solid blow, hard enough to daze him and make him whine. I took full advantage of that and took off running, not looking behind me even once.
But I could feel him hot on my heels, his breath warming the back of my knees, teeth always inches from tearing off chunks of my flesh. I pumped my arms and legs as I ran, fear and adrenaline pushing me past my limits. Down the incline of the hillock, past the towering pine tees, over the little wooden bridge, I ran, and ran, and ran, and the fucking dog kept pace with me. It felt like he was playing with me, for he could have caught me a long time ago, despite my years of running experience. But he didn't. Was he wearing me down? I was starting to run out of breath, and as his teeth scraped my shin I knew I was going to run out of time soon enough regardless.
Salvation came in the form of voices just up ahead. With renewed vigour, I picked up speed once again even as my lungs threatened to explode in my chest. The dog trailed off when people started becoming more than just tiny dots in the distance, and he soon disappeared into the foliage, leaving me a wheezing, shivering mess.
"Really? A little puppy traumatised you this much?" My wife asked, her eyes twinkling with mirth.
I pulled up my pants and began applying the cream to my leg that was now white all over with scratches and bites, none of which had thankfully drawn blood.
"You should have seen him, Amy." I replied, still feeling a little unsettled. "It's not just that he was fucking big, but… I don't know. There was just something… wrong with him, you know? The way he became so aggressive so suddenly, how persistent he was.…just..."
"You sure you don't wanna go to the hospital?" She asked, her voice full of genuine concern now.
I shook my head. "It's fine. Really."
"You really should." She said firmly.
"Okay." I relented. "I'll swing by after I get off work."
"Want me to kiss it and make it better in the meantime?"
"...I would really, really like that."
By the time I made it back home that evening, I had mostly put that morning's incident aside, rationalising it as just an oddity, even though I was a little apprehensive about running into that dog the next morning. Thankfully, I didn't have to get rabies shots, and since I was already up to date with my tetanus vaccine, my visit to the doctor's had been relatively short. I turned in early that night, work had been especially tiring.
At first I didn't understand what exactly had woken me up in the middle of the night. I blinked my eyes open, and noticed the soft beams of moonlight passing through the arched glass windows, forming hypnotic whitish shimmering strips on the hardwood floor. A mournful howl reached my ears, jolting me to alertness. Goosebumps formed on my arms as I instantly understood what was making that sound.
No. No freaking way
I sprang out of bed, pushing the quilt aside and scrambled for the windows. I drew the curtains aside and peered outside. Our house was located on a quaint little cul de sac, right where the road loops around, giving me a wide view of the neighborhood. Out there, beneath a flickering streetlight that intermittently swept aside the darkness was the dog, sitting patiently and howling to his heart's content. My heart started racing. What in the world was he doing here?
He stopped, swung his head around and began staring at me hatefully. I don't know how, but he knew it was me standing here at the window looking at him. I shuddered as I met his malicious, piercing gaze, feeling more naked and exposed than I've ever had. He snarled, and began slowly walking towards me, fangs bared, ready to pounce.
It was so bizzarely terrifying. Why was he here? What did he want?
"Amy…" I whispered, my voice so fearfully low even I couldn't hear it. I gulped and cleared my throat. "Amy…"
"What?" She groaned, and the sheets rustled as she began to yawn.
"It's him." I said, the curtains shaking as my hands trembled. "The dog. He's here."
"Ughhh… Go back to sleep, baby."
"Get off my fucking lawn, you mutt!" Came the voice of Mr. Kowalski from his house lying to the left of where the dog was. Something crashed against the trashcan in front of the house, making a loud booming sound. "Out!" My neighbour screamed again.
The dog stopped, turned to his right, hackles raised, chest rumbling slightly, and darted towards Mr. Kowalski's house, disappearing from the short reach of the streetlight before I could so much as blink. The screaming started almost immediately. This heart wrenching, soul crushing screeching that sounded like someone's death throes. I felt fear, no, sheer primal terror coil around my chest, making it difficult to breathe.
"Oh my god. What was that?"
I jumped, the fear nearly making me yelp. I turned my head and looked at Any, sitting up, fully alert with her eyes wide open.
"Call 911." I said, as I reached for my phone.
"What's happening?"
"Just do it!"
I grabbed my ball bat, and went bounding down the stairs, jumping over two steps at a time, pure adrenaline pumping me forward. I was already out the door and sprinting towards Mr. Kowalski's house before I could even begin to contemplate just how stupid it was to bum-rush this. Other neighbours were groggily coming out of their homes, wondering what the fuck was happening in this quiet neighborhood at 1 in the morning on a weekday.
"Call 911." I screamed while pointing at them. "Mr. Kowalski's house."
I didn't wait for their reactions and ran up Mr. Kowalski's yard, the short, dewy grass tickling my slipper clad feet, and entered through the door that had been left ajar. I stopped, and started groping around for the light switch, but soon gave up, and pulled out my phone, using its flashlight to illuminate the way. I hadn't even taken a couple of steps into the house when I heard a clattering sound and something flew past me, rubbing against my legs and making me drop my phone. I turned and saw a dog skittering off into the darkness.
The most frightening thing about this was that the dog I just saw wasn't the one that had attacked me this morning and had just charged into this house moments ago. And Mr. Kowalski didn't have a dog either. What the fuck was going on here?
I picked my phone up off the ground, and swung it around, the light it emitted vibrating in the air as my hands shook in fear, before falling on a corpse splayed out on a coffee table in the center of the living room. His throat was ripped off, and the oodles of blood that had gushed out of his body had stained the table, before pooling on the hardwood floor below, and now glowing under the light from my phone. It was the dog that had been scaring the living daylights out of me since this morning, his brown fur now looking lifeless and carrying splotches of dark, coagulated red blood. Mr Kowalski's walking stick was lying on the floor beneath the corpse, forsaken by its missing owner.
I was horrified, and beyond confused at this point. Why was this dog dead? Who was the dog that just ran out of this house? Also, the owner of the house was nowhere to be seen. My brain was working overtime, trying to solve this puzzle, to figure out what the fuck was going on, when loud screaming brought me back to reality. My heart almost jumped out of my mouth when I recognised Amy's voice. Before I realised what was happening, my feet were moving and I was running back to my house, shoving past some people who were coming to the crime scene to investigate, while praying that my wife was alright.
The smell of death rushed down the wooden staircase and assaulted my nostrils as I entered my house.
No. No. No. Please, no.
I started climbing the stairs, slowly because I feared what was waiting for me up there. Halfway up I heard noises, noises that made want to retch, to run far away from this place. Crunch. Squish. Bones were being shattered, flesh was being chewed on, blood was dripping on the floor. My brain was going into overdrive, conjuring up horrific images that were threatening to drag me down into the void of insanity. I clutched my bat tighter, and plodded on, trying hard to stamp out the images from my mind. I heard something shuffling around, making scratching noises as its clawed paws rubbed against the hard floor.
I stopped outside my bedroom, the source of the sounds which sounded so painfully loud from here. After taking a deep breath, I walked in, using the phone to light up the room. What I saw there wasn't what I was expecting, not even close to it, and will continue to haunt me till the day I'm lowered into my grave, maybe even beyond it.
The dog that had run out of Mr. Kowalski's house was lying dead on the floor of my bedroom, its throat ripped out, and my wife was hunched over his corpse.
"A… Amy.." I whispered as I shone the light on her.
Crunch. Squish. Crack. The sounds rang loudly in the quiet room, bouncing around on the walls before harshly invading my ears. It was Amy. She was biting the dead dog's flesh and eating it, her gnarly looking hands now sprouting vicious little claws as clumps of hair fell out of her fast balding head. Her arms were pockmarked with puncture wounds, scars of the short battle she'd fought with the dog who was now laid out like a scrumptious meal in front of her. The dog may have died, but I had a sinking feeling it had gotten what it had really wanted. I grunted involuntarily at the repulsive sight in front of me.
Her head shot up at my voice, then was cocked to the right. She saw me, fur and flesh hanging from her mouth, and growled.
submitted by Mandahrk to TheCrypticCompendium [link] [comments]


2020.09.29 15:48 justinposition CVC 22405, Los Angeles, 63 in a 45

First of all, I have read and re-read the 12-Step Guide.
Second, here is the ticket.
On Sunday morning, my car and a motorcycle next to me were driving on the Vincent Thomas Bridge, passing by a parked CHP vehicle on the shoulder. The CHP vehicle started moving and asked me to pull over. The officer then wrote me up for speeding on a bridge.
My intention is to fight the ticket. The following is my plan:
  1. Request at least a 30 day extension. As of 9/29/2020, the due date to appear is 2/2/2021. I have yet to receive the Courtesy Notice in the mail.
  2. About two weeks before the extended due date, I will mail to the court a letter requesting the TR-205 form to do TBWD.
  3. About two weeks before the due date specified on the TR-205 form, I will mail the same form to the court. For the Statement of Facts, I intend to only write "I respectfully demand the prosecution prove its case" as my defense.
  4. After receiving the result of the TBWD, and it says "guilty," I will submit a TR-220 to request a Trial de Novo (TDN).
  5. On the date specified by the letter responding to the TR-220, my attorney will go to court. If the officer shows up, then the attorney will negotiate with them with the goal to dismiss or reduce the severity of the ticket. If that is not possible, the attorney will seek the option to do traffic school. All of the above will be done before the actual trial starts.
In executing the above described plan, I have several questions:
  1. How much of an advantage do I get when I hire a firm to write an actual defense for the Statement of Facts portion of the TR-205 for TBWD (versus "I respectfully demand the prosecution prove its case")? I'm really considering Ticket Snipers based on the many positive reviews I read online at multiple sites. If you know any other firms that I should consider, please let me know in your response.
  2. Do you know any good traffic attorneys in the Los Angeles area (costing around $100-$150, willing to pay up to $350) who can represent me for the TDN if necessary? As of now, I am shopping around, mostly on Yelp and reading their reviews.
  3. All the firms I contacted so far suggest that I should take care of the ticket ASAP. I responded by saying that I want to take care of the ticket later for reasons described in the 12-Step Guide. The firms then said that there is no noticeable difference in outcome. With the pandemic still going on, does the advantage of taking care of the ticket later (versus sooner) still applicable?
  4. While shopping around, I heard news from firms that due to more people doing TBWD due to the pandemic, CHP is responding to them more in response, thus leading to more Guilty verdicts. Also, I heard CHP and judges are now less lenient in negotiations with attorneys representing people who already received Guilty verdicts in TBWD. In addition, I heard clerks at courthouses are struggling in sending out court forms on time. Then there are issues with USPS in delivering mail on time. Given the above, is it still worth doing TBWD, then TDN afterwards?
That is all for now. Thank you very much for taking a look. I will post regular updates.
submitted by justinposition to CaliforniaTicketHelp [link] [comments]


2020.09.25 18:42 BeardyGoodGuy [B/S]+ Our full story

I'll start off saying that I'm not a great writer, but we wanted to share our story after reading other's stories here. Memories are a bit hazy here and there but we 3 agreed on the contents of this story. Hope y'all like our story, enjoy.
My youngest sister was ... and I was ... when we started exploring eachothers bodies, a year after our parents got divorced. Not in an overly sexual way. We'd play games with eachother and the game that set it all off was: Doctor... We had this toy doctor kit and it had everything a doctor needed. The thermometer was used mostly, because when we got a fever our mom used to take our temperature, so it was the only one we knew. The key to how it all started, the thermometer. First we hold it over our clothes onto eachothers butt. After some time I asked my sister why we used it the wrong way, we were, after all, medical experts. We started to insert the thermometer in eachothers butt, like we knew. It only took me one time to wonder why my sister had two holes, so I stuck it in her pussy. She had said that it wasnt how it was done.
I think it took about a year, for our mom to find out what we've been up to. We weren't really punished, we we're just told that it's not a thing kids should do. We stopped using the thermometer. We had seen everything of eachother and we're curious like kids are, so we started inspecting eachother. How it looks, feels and smells and how the skin interacts when touching it. Still kind of innocent at this point.
We kept on exploring eachother upstairs, after dinner, not really moving further than fingering. Our mom must have expected something because she checked in with us often, but that didn't stop us. My sister was always wet when I'd start to touch her, I learned that inserting my fingers and moving them would make my sister whimper. It was always a nice, wet and warm pussy. First couple of times I fingered her I never really knew what I was doing, but she'd make sure her little brother would pleasure her. She told me what felt good and I eventually made her cum everytime I would finger her.
Almost every time I got a mad boner from my sister's gentle touch. At the time I didnt really know what I should do with that feeling, but my sister did instictually. She kept stroking untill I came for the first time I remember, I was just ... years old. I remember that I didnt shoot any cum then, but my cock throbbed so incredibly hard. Because of how much our mom would check on us during playtime, we'd move it around and we'd start fucking around when the other was showering. Our mom never checked in during showertime, I think because I should be sleeping when my sister was in the shower.
My sister had figured out that she could cum from putting her clit under the faucet. She told me later that she wanted to wash her pussy and that she'd try using the faucet, but instead found out that's a great way to cum. She would turn on the shower, get it to her desired temperature and switch over to the faucet and lie on the floor. Now the faucet was 1,2 meters up from the floor. She'd turn the water down to the point the stream would brake before it hit her clit. Having that water fall on her clit made her squirm so hard. I watched her with curiousity and observed how her clit danced under the water stream falling down. It made me hard seeing her get off like that.
My sister told me to try and put my cock under the faucet like she did and see what it does. I did as she'd suggested. It did make my cock hard, but nothing close to orgasm. However, I knew that the part where my foreskin connects to my cocks head meet was very sensitive, so I'd try to use the shower head, turn it to the 5 stream airated option and have it shoot onto that sensitive part. I came after 15 minutes. My sister impressed with the improvisation, she'd sit down on the floor next to me and wanted the showerhead. I denied her the control, saying I'm your little brother let me do it for you, her orgasm was harder than previous one. It turned me on, but that was short lived, because we heard mom downstairs.
We kept going at it at least once or twice a week, depending on how closely we were watched, till we were ... and .... Our parents split the holidays between them. During that years summer holiday we had found a porntape in our dad's VCR, it was called Muchos Grassy Ass or something. A poolside gangbang, with a lot of girls giving handjobs, blowjobs and swallowing a lot of cum. We saw what they did in that porn video and in the coming weeks we'd mimick everything we saw. Our dad never checked in on us, he'd just what we were doing or when dinner was ready. He left us playing upstairs. Little did he know what was up. When we were at our dad's we'd play almost entire days and after having seen that porn... We'd start taking it further.
My sister would start sucking my cock, I'd eat her pussy, we'd kiss with tongue and masterbate eachother like we had seen them do on that tape. No penetration yet. This went on for almost every day for that summer holiday, sometimes we we're playing card games with our dad and his wife. When we got home we'd went back to our old routine, with added extra things we could do. My sister would try to get me to cum by sucking my cock when I would be brushing my teeth. I remember only one time that I came in her mouth like this, most times she'd stop because there were other siblings coming upstairs or mom.
Next year, our parents bickered whom should get the kids this summer. Our parents asked us, I said I was okay with both, my sister on the otherhand said she wanted to go to dad. When she did she looked at me with a expecting look I had seen before. So I sighed and said, sure if sister wanted to go I'd join her. Dad told her we'd go somewhere cool, that's also why she said she wanted to go to dad I learned later that summer.
That summer we went on a trip to Paris and Disneypark. The days before we left, we were having eachother every night. Dad and stepmom never checked in with us. Not even when we screamed or anything. We kept our ears open even though we thought we did nothing wrong. Ever since I had cum when I came since I was almost 11 my sis would swallow all of it, everytime. I made sure I eat her out just as often or more. The days at our dad's just sent this in hypermode since we were never checked. At home, our mom kept closer watch.
So the night before we would go to Paris for the summer holiday I came a ton in my sisters eager mouth. She always said she liked how it tasted and that it was only fair because I was her little brother. After I came for a 3rd time I was sore and said it was enough. I still wanted to cum more but my cockhead was too sensitive. She sucked it so well all the time. So i decided it was her turn. I ate her out, finger fucked her, she was so wet and her smell drove me crazy. We went to bed at 6, right after dinner claiming we needed to rest for the long journey(4 hours, lol). We did all the above till 11 something... I was going crazy because of my sisters pussy. Totally sex drunk my sis and I didn't hear my dad come upstairs. He opened the door and I crawled from under the blanket. Thinking this was it.
My sister claimed she had lost her earring and I was helping her find it. My sister, most clever girl knew how to lie and convincingly too. My dad said, we'll turn the bed over tomorrow and we'll find it, I'm sure. We said okay and went to 'sleep'. Our dad snores very loud. So we kept going till I busted a 5th time, a very small bit of cum, my sister sort of disappointed, but still licking as much as she could. I got her off I don't know how many times. The room smelled musky. My stepmom said the same. We claimed it was hot and we sweated alot. No questions asked. Beds both very wet with our sweat, hehe.
We were woken up at 5 am. We slept in the car. My sister kept fondling my parts with her feet. I was annoyed, I wanted to sleep. Dad said to stop annoying eachother, my sister stopped only to scowl at me with a pouty face. I got to sleep the rest of the journey. Finally we arrived in Paris. Dad had 2 rooms booked, 1 for him and stepmom and 1 for my sister and me. They said it was 2 seperate beds, but it was a single doublebed. We hid our excitement well. Dad was angry, but said he didnt care, it was what it was. We got the only key to that room. We shared the bathroom with the room of our dad, so we locked it and hid the key, saying the key wasnt there. My dad ever practical said to come to our door in the morning and you can come in through our side. Great thinking dad. We think that he was done with hotel services, dont know what else was fucked up. We walk through Paris, we eat, at 8pm we were in the hotel and dad said he was tired, we saw him grab our stepmom's butt. So we didn't complain much. We started fake fighting a little so dad said go to your room. We gave him an out on us and by doing so we create our own space. We argued that wasn't fair we wanted to stay up with them. He said no. We angrily got to our rooms. Or so dad thought. We undressed real fast, closed the curtains. Air-conditioning on full cuz it was going to be hot. We got busy like animals.
Licking and sucking and fingers and all of it. She was doing her very best, doing new things with her tongue and fingers. I asked where she got that from and said from another tape she found of my dad. I disappointedly asked why she hid it from me, I'd want to learn new things too. She looked at me all mischievous and stopped, my heart stopped thinking I'd not get any anymore. Bit she leaned back, started rubbing, pulling and pinching her nipples and clit. While looking at me all intense like. She show me how wet she was and told me to come get it, little brother, it's yours. My dick sprung up. I got so hard from that.
I crawled to her and smelled her tight slit, the smell is indescribable. I start to lick her while shes widespread sitting with her hands behind her leaning back. She'd moan my name and guide me to what she wanted me to do. Yes little brother lick my clit, put your fingers in me, you know the spot to hit. So I tried to do the same with my tongue as she did earlier to me. I was so in trance with her body, smell and taste that I started low moaning while sucking on her clit. That was a success, my big sister came like she'd never. The amount of pussy juice drooling down her pussy, amazing! I licked it all up, I love her taste.
She took my head and pulled me up for a kiss, with tongue. I'm not sure what this is and I just try to hug her tongue with mine. We stay kissing like that for a while. She pulls away from me and pushes me back so I'm on my knees and my hands behind me leaning back just like my sister a little while ago. My dick poked up with some pre-cum on the tip and a string of pre-cum where it had already leaked. She kissed me again and stroked my cock, licked the pre-cum off. Smiled at me and asked me what I wanted most of her to do. I told her I love it when you give me a handjob, finish me in your mouth and show me how much you love to swallow me. She does.
After that we were glistening from sweat even though the airco was on. Maybe it wasnt on or the settings were wrong. Who knows. We're spooning, I started stroking my sisters hair, kiss her neck and glide my hands over her body next to mine. Teasing her nipples, softly squeezing her tits, caress her stomache and cup her pussy with my other hand. I whisper in her ear, I love you. I can feel her heartbeat going faster, she turned her head to try and look me in the eye. She pushes herself into me and moves her hips. Is that true, she asked me. I nod, whisper yes, and nozzle her neck, taking in her sweaty, musky smell. I kept her pussy cupped in my hand and with the other hand i cupped a breast.
My sister pulled my hands of her and I let her go completely. She sits up and puts her hands on my chest and says to relax and lay down. With one hand on my chest and one on my leg she used her mouth on me again. When I was rock hard again she said did you REALLY mean what you said? I hold her hand that's on my chest, nod and said yes. She asked do you trust me? I just nod, my heart racing and drumming in my ears. She straddles me, looks me deep in my eye and asks me if I'm ready.
My cock is real close to her warmth and wetness I can feel it radiate. I nod the smallest nods. She moves back a little, halfway my cockhead she holds there. She looked so sexy then, I wanted my sister so bad! We looked deep in eachothers eyes, our hands intertwine which she hold above my head. Slowly backing up her hips, I feel her slide over my cock. Her pussy so slick and warm. It is the best I've ever felt. I can feel all of her around my cock. She cums for just that and her orgasm feels like her pussy hugging my cock. Our breathing is shaky from pleasure and nerves.
When my sister hilts me, she kisses me deeply. I make smallest thrusts using my hips. She moans the hottest moan. Our hands stay intertwined and she pulls herself forward. I feel her pussy sliding up. I move my hips to stay in, but my sister says no, Ill do it little brother, stay there. I stop my moving, enjoying the sensation, kissing my sister again. I hold her hand and move one on my chest, she lets go and my free hand goes to her hip. She opens her eyes when I'm almost out of her, she looks at me and gives me the sexiest smile. We sync our breath, she nods and I know what she wants to do. She pushes down, my hand on her hip pushes her down too. She speeds up, both hands go to my chest. I play with her tits and clit. She bends over and says to lick her nipples.
My sister pushed down so slow, her pussy envelops my cock and hugs it so tight. My cock is throbbing, we both feel eachother. Again and again, I feel my cock get harder and my balls tighten. My sister must have felt or seen my face, she pushed down hard the last time, making me go balls deep I thrust with my hips to go as far into my sisters tight, warm pussy. She repeatedly whispers yes yes yes. Cum for me little brother she said as she pushed down for the last time, I thrusted to her pushing down. We came together. I came hard and deep and kept hip thrusting into her pussy. My sister wanted to lay like that with my cock in her pussy. She laid on top of me and I felt myself ever so slowly shrink inside her. We kissed and she said she was glad and asked me if I was okay. I nodded. Couldn't talk. That was night 1 in Paris. I dont the time we went to sleep, we woke up with her still having a pussy full of my cum. We got up and she used a little wipe to get most of it. We went to our dad's room, I asked my dad if he had the map with the routes he wanted to walk. I covered my sister so she could go into the shower.
During that week I came so often in her pussy and mouth it's crazy. A week and a half passed by real fast. We walked routes with our dad and stepmom by day, we had dinner and we'd see how late we'd be excused to go to bed. We were quite often already tired at 9 after dinner. But once in bed, we'd not be able to let the other sleep before they had came one way or another. I fucked my sister's pussy so often and came deep everytime. She feels amazing! In hindsight I asked Andrea yesterday, why didn't she bleed the first time we were together. She laughed and said I think I took my own virginity by fucking a big dildo she'd found in the house. Up to this day we don't know whose it was.
The last night, of this insane holiday, we found out that our dad had ordered xxx channel. The next morning he'd get the news that both rooms had the channel and both rooms watched. I was watching tv because I couldn't sleep and stumbled upon it, and watched it. Andrea confirmed this and said she took the remote and stopped me watching. My dad was so proud of his little girl stopping his perverted son. If he had only known. The name of that movie escaped us. But we saw a girl getting fucked in her ass. Andrea, told me she wanted to try that too. Not lying when I say I was scared.
She starts me up and sat doggy like the girl on TV. She said good that dad ordered this channel and that it must be a mistake, I didn't listen. I just wanted my Andrea. I put my dick to her ass and tried to push in. I said it wasn't going. She said push harder. It hurt, I stopped. She said I could try and lick her first like before. So I do. It wasn't planned so I'm not sure if sour is the flavour you should get licking ass, but I'm not a quiter. I wanted to give it to her when she was face down ass up. I lick like my life depended on it. In hindsight it is only good that she went toilet before bed... She squirms and moans softly I shouldn't delay.
While I'm getting ready I keep an eye on the screen. I see the girl push back. And the guy finger her ass. So I copy and tell Andrea to to do like her. Again I set my dick against her ass and push, I feel her push back and I'm in. Andrea yelps and says it hurts, but it also feels good. I ask if I should stop and I move to get out and she takes my arm and says no I want you to have me like that. Without any thought I spit on her ass and she slowly moves so I go in deeper and deeper. It feels weird, but good.
She quivers and says I can try to slide in and out if I want but do it slowly. It takes all my effort to not just go, I wanted to have her like that guy in the movie had that girl. She comes. Asks if I'm close. I says I'm not. She says she wants me to cum. She wants to feel me throb in her. I spit again and slide in and out faster and push her into the bed, she goes prone and yelps hard into the bed. I say sorry, she says no it's fine. I feel her anus contract. I ask if she came and she says yes now you little brother. I give her some more slow balls deep thrusts and I come the hardest in all my life. I retract and caress Andreas back. She's panting so hard. I ask her if she's fine. She nods.
After it all we went for a quiet wash, hoping not to wake our parents. We take the key to the shared bathroom and I go check on my parents. They're not there. Now I know that they were out for drinks, enjoying music downstairs in the restaurant. We wash up fast, she walks a little funny. Maybe that was me. We go to bed, we spoon and fall asleep. We sleep for a couple hours and see our dad and stepmom the next morning at 8am so we can go have a shower.We go back home and have 2 more days of sex filled insanity, never being checked. The holiday ended and we had to go back to mom's house.
A couple of weeks after the Paris trip our stepbrother found us in bed, we said we're fucking. But he didn't think we did because he just saw out faces. A few days after we were playing truth or dare with our stepbrother. So I said truth and he asked me if I have had sex, I said yes and he said liar. I'm not a liar I told him and got quite upset that he called me a virgin. I don't know why I got upset, probably because I was scared to prove it. My stepbrother's turn and he said truth. My sister asked him if he would tell mom and his dad if my sister and me fucked in front of him. He said no. My sisters turn and she said dare. My stepbrother and I said in unison: fuck your brother / fuck me. She said we would do it under blankets. Stepbrother said sure. I got on bed already hard. My sister removed my clothes and I removed hers while protecting our modesty I guess. It was routine for us by that time. I lie down, she moves on her knees over me and guides my cock to her pussy... She lowers herself over my cock and I thrust my pelvis up. He saw out faces while fucking, kissing and our climaxing. He got up, laughed and said we were great actors. Nothing happened after that from him knowing what we did/do.
We keep at it as many times as we can. Interchanging BJ, HJ, sex... Never was scared until I got the memo that women can get pregnant, I wasn't think about all that. I thought she'd be with child for sure. So much cum I shot in her pussy. I almost died. I asked Andrea if she was on BC and it was all good, she was already on the pill at this point for over a year. When I can I still keep her pussy, mouth and rarely her ass filled whenever Andrea wants me to.
Somewhere around Xmas that year there was a girl that fancid me in school so of course I'd say yes to her and have her over at our house. Alexandra is her name. She made Andrea jealous and Andrea was angry with me for sometime. She stopped speaking with me and I didn't get to make love to her for some months. Being pent up like that I jerked it more often than normal. I did get agitated more because of not getting my sister's sweet pussy.
Some time went by, started having fun with my gf Alexandra. She must have wondered why I knew what I knew. She asked me if I had sex before and said yes. She asked if she knew her and I said yes. She asked for a name and I said I couldn't tell her her name. She accepted. We moved slow. She wasn't like my sister at all. Mostly because we didn't see eachother as much as I saw Andrea and I had to use a condom. But we progressed. So after those 2 months I already established sexual relationship with my gf, I was less agitated and Andrea finally started talking with me again. One day mom was shopping, Andrea pulled me upstairs, didn't say anything, till we were in the attic and she asked me how could I do that to her. I said I never loved Alexandra, I do now, but I wasn't going to do anything with Alexandra. Not untill Andrea stopped talking with me and stopped having sex with me. Andrea was crying, I tried to console her and said I could break it off and just blame myself for it and we'll continue together.
Andrea walked away without saying one more word. Slowly she acted normal around me. We got back to talking and stuff. She got a bf, he dumped her later on. Andrea cried, I was the only one she kind of found solace in. With Alexandra it got better and better. Found more time to be with her and she started to be more adventurous like my Andrea was. It was somewhere during summer holiday where I had turned 15 and Andrea 17. Alexandra was over at my place. My mom had found a man to date and she was gone to see him, she entrusted Andrea and I with the house. She left money for food and the cabinets were stocked. My other siblings already had left the house (army, summer job, own home)so I had all the space and time I wanted with my gf. I had planned a week of fucking her silly. Day one: mom left early, gf got here around midday, played games with Andrea and then got upstairs to watch a movie. I put on Dirty Dancing cuz my mom said that was a good film. Indeed it was. Before the begin credits were done we were kissing and she pulled my clothes off and I just pulled down her leggings and panties. Gotta love dresses.
We start getting heavy and I notice the house is too quiet for my liking. My gf licking my cock made me forget that thought fast. Later I learned Andrea had been watching us. Alexandra was allowed to sleep over after we forgot the time while fucking. I think her dad suspected something but her mom said it was fine. Day 2: wake up, stroke my cock, wait for gf to wake up, rail her some fierce. Get food. Play on PlayStation. Go to swimming pool with gf parents and Andrea could come with. Nothing fancy at night much to my dislike.
Day 3: Alexandra's parents drove us home yesterday so... I had to wait for Alexandra. We had breakfast Andrea and I. We talk about playing boardgames later. I ask her for some privacy later when my gf walked in through the backdoor. Alexandra kissed me and talked girly stuff with Andrea. All good. We played several boardgames, Alexandra teasing me under the table. I stretch and yawn, tell Andrea I'm go upstairs and watch a movie, maybe take a nap. Alexandra got the hint. So with Alexandra I had to use condoms which is asked my oldest brother to get. Alexandra isn't on birth controle. Only 2 condoms left, I kind of panicked, just 2?! Oh well it's 2 more, cross that bridge when we get there, maybe I'd buy them myself this time. I start feeling Alexandra up, kiss her neck and whisper in her ear that she is the most beautiful girl I had ever seen. It always took a bit of tender time and effort to get her ready. I rub her feet and back using directions I found in a book I found in my brother's room.
I eat her pussy, she tastes like musk smells I guess, very animalistic. I love it. Find her g-spot and make her a sloppy mess. She gives me a blowjob, I'm enjoying myself, that's when I hear floorboards creak. I turn a bit to see the door slightly ajar. Did I leave it like that? Again it was too quiet, Alexandra sucking me off hard now because I wasn't paying attention. I ignore the door, but see something flash in the gap. That's when I knew it had to be Andrea. That got my heart racing. Was she watching us? Did she want to join? Many months went by so I thought she wouldn't want me anymore.
I make Alexandra stop and have her turned sideways to the door and I sit legs wide open but straight on the bed so if she was looking Andrea would have a clear sight of my cock. I told Alexandra to lie on her stomache sucking me off like that. She always pulls her feet up and opens her legs lying down on her stomache. Now Andrea must be able to see it all I thought. Some time goes by I hold Alexandra's ponytail and guide her up and down. I set the pace. Slow slow fast slow slow slow fast fast. I hear or see nothing so I thought it was just my imagination. We continue for a bit before I cum in her mouth I put on a condom have her bend over the edge of the bed legs as wide apart as she can. It's a tall bed, I can perfectly insert myself standing behind her. Lust takes over and I push myself in deep, thrusting harder and harder. I didn't hear Andrea open the door and come in, neither did my gf.
Andrea was behind me and slowly hugged me from behind, I stop for the smallest second wanting to say something. Andrea holds her hand over my mouth thrusts her hip against mine making me fuck my gf. She whispers in my ear that she couldn't take it anymore. Her second hand moved to my balls and she plays with them while keeping me moving. She whispers: a condom? Why not cum in her? My gf moaning, never looking up or back never knew what happened. Andrea took my hand and made me feel her wet pussy. My thrusting got harder. Alexandra is almost screaming. Andrea tells me to fuck my gf, but to pull out and take the condom off before I come to feed Andra my cum. Andrea wanted my cum in her eager mouth. She got down next to my gf's leg dangling over the edge of the bed. I feel a rush coming, I give 2 more slow deep thrusts and I'm coming. I pull out, pull the condom off, Andrea takes my throbbing cock in her mouth and gives me a wink while she does, she has smiling eyes. Before Alexandra is any the wiser I keep her there and finger her hard, still cumming in my sis's mouth. Greatest moment at that point, pure bliss.
Andrea swallows it all, Alexandra didn't notice anything. Andrea gets behind me, strokes my cock and whispers want me to eat her pussy? I'm rock hard instantly. I want to say yes, but don't know what will happen. In my sex drunk stupor I say yes, eat her pussy sis. I pull Alexandra a little over the edge. Andrea gets down on her knees between Alexandra's legs. Eating her. I take the image in and can't believe this is happening. Alexandra is coming hard, I don't know how much. Andreas legs are open so I go to the floor and lick her juices up. She grabs my hair after a few licks and motions no... I couldn't think straight and the only option I saw was Alexandra's mouth. I walked to the other side of the bed and moved to Alexandra. Her eyes closed climaxing, grab her hair and pull her face up, she opens her eyes, mouth opens and starts sucking my dick. I could see the confusion in her eyes. She stopped sucking only to cum again and turning around seeing Andrea. Im sitting on my knees on the bed, Andrea between Alexandra's legs and Alexandra is lost for words.
Alexandra pushed herself up and tried to speak but I pushed her towards my cock. She didn't object and sucked me hard. I motioned Andrea to come over here. Alexandra watching her move closer. I think my sis got the idea and lay down next to Alexandra. I grab her hair too and pull Alexandra off to have Andrea continue the work. Alexandra got up rubbing her pussy. Still in disbelief. I told her to eat my sister's pussy. She looked at me, at Andrea. I took her hand and put Andreas hair in her hand. I asked Andrea to spread her legs so she could be reached. Alexandra moved my sisters head up and down, like she knew I liked. I kissed my gf. My gf let Andrea go and started to move away. I stop Andrea have her turn on her back and get to my gf. Having seen my dad's tapes I knew what I wanted. Have my gf eat my sister. Andrea stayed still. I whisper to my gf I want her on her hands and knees. I enter her and push her to the edge of the bed and Andrea came closer. My sisters pussy smelled great and was soaking wet. I start eating her pussy and my gf looked away. I said it wasn't fair for my sis she made you cum, you got to return the favour. Thus we both ate my sisters pussy. Almost forgetting I didn't have a condom on I look at my sister, she knows that face. I pull out of Alexandra and she watches as I pour my seed in my Andreas eager mouth, swallowing it al.
Alexandra was uncomfortable after, so we got clean and talked alot. She didn't think this was okay, but she did enjoy it. I told Alexandra we didn't have to do it anymore, but Andrea came in naked and said she wanted to continue. She wanted more. I turned to Alexandra thought she'd be gone now. To just stand there and see her be doubting, what to do? My sister took her hand and pulled Alexandra to her. She whispers something in her ear, and Alexandra smiled. Up to this day they refuse to tell me what was said. But she nodded. Dropped everything she had gathered and crawled to me. My sister shot me a wink and sat on the bed opening her legs wide. Alexandra now on her knees before me said I should eat my sisters pussy if I wanted to. I must have looked like a deer in headlights. I moved to my sister and smelled that amazing pussy. I got to town and when I did Alexandra took my cock in her mouth.
So went by a couple more days. Till my mom got back. The last day was spent doing laundry and all that. Now we talked more about what we liked with us three. Alexandra eats pussy but only because it delights me. I do it all, because I like it all, Andrea wants me as much as possible, she does anything to make her little brother happy. We told Alexandra how it started. She didn't seem bothered anymore at that point. She had loads of questions though. We answered as well as we could. In the end I get to fuck and eat my sister and my gf. We made arrangements. Alexandra isn't a fan of swallowing so my sister does it all. If my Andrea isn't here, Alexandra will. I get to eat, finger and fuck both my girls, but they'll share me equally between eachother if both are present, basically I get used.
Now that has been years ago. Alexandra is now my wife. We don't want kids and don't have any. Maybe later? We still have sex with my sister, we want to daily, but agendas aren't always compatible. Sometimes I just fuck my sis. My wife will call and ask me if I'm cumming in my sister again and that I should save some for her. It's turned into a crazy triangle where we all 3 are super happy. Nobody knows but us 3. Some might expect something but probably not that I'm cumming in my sister that often. My sister never has or had boyfriends, just her little brother, claims she doesn't need another. My sister is still jealous of Alexandra, but I make sure she gets a little more attention sometims. Alexandra's sex drive isn't as high and she's fine with Andrea getting a little more sometimes. Alexandra even edges me to go to her.
Edit1: format
submitted by BeardyGoodGuy to Realinceststories [link] [comments]


2020.09.16 08:26 sephirothishotlmao another thing i found

"...'N then I said: 'I'm going back to Morioh.' And I woke up."
...Good lord, these dreams are getting weird.
She knows that dreams tend to put together things that have been heard in the waking world, she recalled that much. She never remembered seeing or hearing anything named "Morioh", however, nor have any knowledge of Japanese language. That was the strangeness she encountered within her dreamscape for the last few months, however. She didn't recall ever seeing any of the names or faces within the dream world in the real world, nor their bizarre outfits and fashion. Why is there a high schooler that looks like he's nine? How does this "Rohan" make so many manga issues within a week? How does "Josuke" keep his hair like that? Wait, why does he keep his hair like that? And why does she keep on speaking Japanese in these dreams?
Orieis tapped her pencil on her journal page with irritation in deep thought. She had what little she could make sense of written down:
It was a decent amount of information, though nothing really seemed to get clearer. It's happening within the dream, but why? Why is she having these dreams? Why is the setting so consistent throughout each dream? How is it so consistent over the course of many months' worth of dreams? She clenched the side of her messy-haired head in frustration: things didn't line up. She knew that she had to get more data, and there was only one way to get it, which she dreaded. The thought made her heart sink, what with her always seeming to wake up in a cold sweat from these dreams, along with the thought that she wasn't guaranteed to remember anything when she woke up. She sighed, her dark eyes easily showing how tired she was: there was only one way to find out.
She slowly shuffled into bed, covering herself up in multiple layers of thick blankets. Such was always comfortable, that she could give credit. It was weirdly chilly tonight despite being in the middle of summer and having the heat on, so this was quite comfortable. She kept the journal and the pencil on the stand right beside her bed in order to write down what she may recall when she woke up. Though she felt uneasy, she slowly drifted off to sleep.
She had a feeling that she wouldn't have these dreams again after this night.
Her vision was blurred as she slowly woke up, morning light streaming through her windows as she leaned up. She looked out the window, watching the sky's unnatural colors, along with surveying the unfamiliar room: definitely the dream realm. She rose from her bed, getting dressed in the clothes presented to her dream self, which really did look odd when she thought about them. They were rather large on her, especially the pants, and from her limited research looked to be heavily-modified, if dated, Japanese school clothes. She wore a lilac undershirt, and most of the uniform was a dark blue, with a rim of pale tubing around the collar and bottom edge of the torso. The uniform seemed to fasten in the front from her left side with a seam of pale tubing and six gold-colored buttons, along with a gold band around each wrist. There were multiple gold-colored decorations across the uniform shirt: a yen symbol and a dollar sign on the neck, and a large dollar sign on her chest. She noticed white text on each shoulder: on left was a bold white English "BILLION", and on her left was a kanji symbol that she understood in the dream to read "billion" in Japanese.
The redundancy didn't really seem to phase her, however. In any other circumstance, she'd be irritated, but here, in this realm of "anything and everything happens" dreams, she felt that it was completely normal. She loosely strapped on two green-and-gold belts: she wasn't sure why she needed so many belts if the pants were still going to be so baggy, but she brushed it off yet again. Outside of the undershirt, the most normal part of the outfit seemed to be the dull green dress shoes, which fit comfortably on her feet. As she attempted to use her real-world mindset to analyze her actions, she felt slight embarrassment wave over her. A distinct realization was starting to take form: she never put on a bra, and she was wearing boxers instead of panties. Her breasts weren't really that big or visible under the uniform, nor did they seem to squish on the hard pins and medallions, which let her push the awkwardness out of her mind as she went through her dream world-day.
This strange "Morioh", despite its strange, dream-like qualities, still felt oddly casual. She wasn't sure why she was wearing the school uniform on a non-school day, but she again dismissed it as dream logic. She didn't recall having much of anything to do today, leaving her bored. She really only thought of one thing: hanging out with he friends Koichi and Josuke, and it was a good thing that they didn't really hang out too far away. Looks like she wouldn't even need to gather those two together separately today, which meant that she could get to reading through her issues of Pink Dark Boy earlier! She'd say "score" if it weren't for the fact that some unfamiliar faces weir loitering around while Koichi and Josuke were attempting to talk. She furrowed her brow, proceeding onwards to sit with her friends while watching the snickering strangers.
She fiddled within what could best be described as hammerspace to pull out her copy of Pink Dark Boy and set to reading. Her reading was slowed, however, through a combination of chatting with her friends about taking the piss out of Rohan, and keeping an eye on the strangers. She attempted to pay attention to the strangers' conversation, though that proved to be overwhelmingly difficult. She tugged on her overly-large clothes in apprehension, though she attempted to calm herself down. These were just a bunch of loitering tools, things couldn't get that bad.
Right?
She normally didn't hate it when people proved her point, because it didn't normally risk leading to horrible things happening. She also wasn't really a violent individual in the real world, so it was another break from reality that she couldn't really do anything about. In this strange world, getting her mad would lead to a swift ass-beating from either her, Josuke, or even both of them, and she found that... satisfying, somehow. Looks like today is going to lead to another fight, she can see it on the face of one of the strangers. She knows that he's going to pick a fight, so might as well get ready. She slowly put down her copy of Pink Dark Boy as she watched with intent.
One of the strangers' began to snicker louder, approaching Josuke with a grin. Josuke met his gaze as the stranger tapped his shoulder, giving them a skeptical expression in contrast to their cocky grin. Josuke attempted to speak in a question, but found himself interrupted as they poked his large pompadour, which bounced with a squishy weight. Josuke paused, his eyes wide, and Koichi gasped in surprise and fear. Orieis winced slightly with a confused expression on her face: she thought that they were going to pick a fight with her, not with someone who can quite literally rearrange someone's face when mad! Those two didn't even need to say anything, the first stranger started to chuckle, while the other burst out in rapturous laughter. Josuke's dawning realization quickly lead to a familiar, irritated growl, his face shifting to a scowl.
She knew exactly what to do. She sprung to her feet, clothes sagging slightly on her wiry frame as she clenched her fists. The two choffers didn't seem to notice her that much, which served as the perfect opportunity to strike! She slipped behind the loud-cackling one and gave a quick tap to their shoulder. It was almost as if within a single blink that her knuckles met their face, shoving in their nose and knocking them on them firmly on the ground. The first one writhed on the ground in agony, holding their profusely-bleeding face with wide eyes, and Josuke's gaze shifted to focus on her. She rubbed her fist, before shaking it out loosely for a few moments in an attempt to reduce the pain. She had gotten into many a fight within these dreams, but she didn't recall a single punch hurting her hand this much.
Her hand twitched, aching as her palm widened and fingers lengthened and became more square. She didn't really seem to notice the changes, still shaking out her hand: she was more focused on helping her buddy than anything else. The remaining moron looked around between both her and Josuke, getting up on guard. She attempted to block out the pain, quickly winding up a punch that ended up colliding with the stranger's shoulder, the pain from her hand rippling up her arm, causing her to wince. She rubbed her shoulder, fist clenching again as her arm started to lengthen, a creaking sounding in her head as the bones seemed to grow and joints rolled in-and-out to fit. Across the arm grew a noticeable amount of muscle, preventing the arm from looking gangly or emaciated. The arm seemed to actually fit the sleeve now.
The stranger continued to look between her and Josuke, before suddenly turning on a heel and lunging at her. She found it strange how Josuke wasn't actually attacking, his wide-eyed gaze turned almost entirely towards her. She didn't pay too much attention to the expressed emotion on his face, however, mostly due to the punk running right into her face. Despite the pain present in her arm, she managed to give a powerful sucker punch that caused them to stagger back. He didn't go down like his buddy, though, and he threw a punch of his own while holding the side of his face. She grabbed the punch, managing to keep it from moving ahead, her arm shaking. She hissed as her shoulders suddenly pushed outwards, broadening with a sickening crack and a growth of muscle.
She didn't pay any mind to her newly-found strength. In her previous dreams, she banked more on a one-punch knockout due to her lack of endurance, but this resilience felt normal to her, the idea of her previous weakness starting to wash away. She cocked a grin, managing to block out a large part of the pain as she grabbed their arm and flung them over her head, sending them into a wall. She rubbed her shoulder, watching them scramble to their feet, before her other arm and shoulder jerked with growth that mirrored the first arm. It was painful, but the physical changes spreading across her seemed to fly completely over her head, the actual physical differences not phasing her.
They scrambled to their feet, quickly breaking into a sprint towards her. Her perception seemed to have become more dull, now, for some reason, as she didn't seem to notice his speed in order to brace herself properly. She was brought back to reality with a swift and painful punch to the gut, leaving her reeling for a few moments as they wound up another punch. She attempted to wind up another punch herself, but found that she didn't need to as Josuke kicked down the combatant, grabbing their arms in an attempt to restrain them. She attempted to compose herself again, holding her belly with both arms in pain. Her stomach turned and her head ached greatly.
A series of cracks resounded through her body as her back cracked, spine and torso growing and leaving her taller in her torso area. Her hips pressed inwards, cracking and feeling tense through a pressure, as if being pushed in with the clenching of a mechanical vice. This, along with her broader shoulders, gave her a more masculine-appearing figure overall. A warmth pulsed across her body as her breasts disappeared, seeming to melt into her chest and leaving it flat. A decent amount of muscle, similar to what happened to her arms, started to grow across her torso, filling it up under her clothes, which were starting to fit better. She gagged, covering her mouth with one hand as her stomach seemed to flip completely upside-down from an intense, horrible pain. She seemed to know how guys felt when kicked firmly in the balls... because she had those now.
She tried her best to restrain herself from throwing up, the pain intensifying further as her legs lengthened similarly to her arms and bulked up with muscle. The pants didn't drag on the ground anymore, though they were still rather poofy on her legs. Josuke's expression was the same as before, but she still didn't pay attention to it, both because of her own pain and Josuke being thrown off. The stranger looks to be much stronger than anticipated! Though, really, she didn't anticipate anything: She wasn't one to think through things much, actually.
She slowly looked up, watching the stranger loom over her hunched figure. The figure winded up a punch, and she yelped, covering her face out of impulse. She wasn't a coward like this, what was she doing? Her face was saved from an unpleasant impact by the figure being sucker punched by a large, pink fist, getting launched at high speed.
"Do-RA!"
She smiled. She could recognize that voice and battle cry from anywhere: Josuke was using his stand, Crazy Diamond! A new pain spread up her neck and face, neck flexing with a jerking pain as it thickened out. The bump of a prominent Adam's Apple formed, deepening her voice to a masculine tone, and her voice seeming to sound scratchier, too. Her headache intensified as her jaw cracked, face and jaw squaring out and looking more solid, along with gaining more prominent cheekbones. Her nose became more square, and her eyes stung as the irises and pupils seemed to become much smaller in comparison to the rest of her eye: looking from a distance, people could easily think that she had just two tiny black dots in her eyes.
Her eyebrows became thinner and smaller, and her hair seemed to compress and shorten as it shifted into a much shorter pompadour. The hair previously on the sides of her head seemed shaved down, looking a silvery-grey in color, with some silver hair scruffing up near the back behind her neck. Her face tingled oddly as two long, thin, curved marks formed curling inwards all the way down her face between her eyes. She sat on her knees, curling over slightly: her head throbbed, her eyes stung, and her entire body ached in general. Wait... Hm... Why is he thinking of himself with the word "she"? He held his head, attempting to cling to consciousness for a bit longer as he looked around. He looked up, seeing Josuke looking down at him as he attempted to pick him up.
His expression was one of fear.
Okuyasu could see him mouthing words on his wide-eyed expression, though the fell silent as Okuyasu quickly passed out.
Okuyasu's head throbbed painfully, his eyes stinging as he slowly woke up: he didn't really remember what happened. He remembered having a weird dream, though the only thing that he could remember clearly was a journal or diary written in English, which he didn't really speak much. He was under bright, synthetic lights, finding himself in a hospital room. He looked around, seeing Koichi standing beside his bed with an uneasy expression. He attempted to speak, wanting to ask what happened, but Koichi quickly interrupted him with a shaky voice before he could open his mouth.
"Don't ask."
Alright, then. He looked around, remembering seeing Josuke before passing out from something. His groggy expression lit up as he saw Josuke by the window, his eyes wide and his face extremely unnerved and uneasy. He leaned up more, smiling and calling over to Josuke for hope of learning what happened.
"Oi, Josuke!"
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2020.09.14 14:07 LordCongra [Runes & Brews] - Book 1: Trouble Brewing, Chapter 6

Cover Art Personal discord Chat to me on the Reddit Serials discord Runes & Brews Homepage Patreon advanced chapters: 6 First Chapter
If you want to stay up to date with news from me, make sure to follow Congra too!
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Rapid knocking on his window woke Theo up with a start. A muffled voice called from outside as he rubbed his bleary eyes. “Theo! It’s nearly midday already!”
He shot out of bed. “Wha- oh!” His foot was caught in a blanket, so he tumbled to the floor. Fortunately, his face was there to break his fall. Rubbing his cheek, he opened the window drapes. Once his eyes adjusted to the midday sun, he saw Adam staring at him.
“Adam? What are you doing- Oh dear, it’s so late, I should have had the shop open hours ago! Meet me at the front!” Theo said, raising his voice so Adam could hear him through the glass.
He bolted through his shop, running at the speed of panic. Adam arrived at the door just as Theo opened it up for him. “You’re… very… fast…” He breathed heavily from his rapid sprint.
“Uh, yeah, I guess. So-”
“Watch the... shop for me, please,” Theo said, still out of breath as he dashed back into his home. Halfway into cleaning himself up, he realized what he’d just done.
Why did I just trust a man I’ve met for a single day to watch my shop? He sped up his process further, running back out to the shop room while still buttoning up his shirt. Bursting through the door once more, he crashed into Adam behind the counter.
His cheeks erupted into heat as he stepped back. “Oh- I, um- sorry I just-”
Adam pat Theo on the shoulder, chuckling. “It’s fine. It’ll take a lot more than that to hurt me. No vest today, huh?”
Theo gazed down at himself, eyes widening. “I forgot my vest!” He fumbled with the door, running back into his apartment to find a vest. Slipping on the first one he found, he hurried back to the shop, properly winded from all the sprinting.
Adam watched him take a few deep breaths. “You good?”
“I… believe so.” He checked his outfit, straightening out any folds in the clothes and tucking his shirt in. “Yes, I’m all set now. Thank you for watching the shop. Come to think of it, why are you here?”
Adam glanced off to the side. “I was uh, guarding your shop all last night.” He scratched at his cheek, still not meeting Theo’s eyes.
His heartbeat sped up. A small glimmer of hope lit inside of him. “You guarded me?”
Adam colored slightly. “Yeah, well, Telsa asked me to. Protect the shopkeeper who saved our asses a lot of money from Maraz. Y’know?”
Theo’s heart sank. He forced a slight smile onto his face. “Oh. Of course. Well, thank you. I do appreciate it.”
“Yup.”
He waited a moment for anything more. “...Is Maraz truly that bad?”
“Uh, let’s just say the way it went for you was pretty light from what I’ve heard normally happens. Maybe he liked that you stood up to him? Most shopkeepers don’t,” Adam said, shrugging.
Theo suppressed a shiver. “What have I done? Maybe I should just…” He stopped himself. “No. I refuse to change my prices because some bully tells me to do so. My prices are fair.”
“Yeah, it’s been really nice for my team. We’re spending so much less on supplies. Reminds me of when I first started adventuring,” Adam said, staring dreamily out the window.
“How old are you, Adam? That is, if that’s not an invasive question. I wouldn’t want to-”
“I’m 28. Been adventuring since I was 23.”
“You’ve been adventuring for 5 years? I mean no offense but, how are you still steel rank?” Theo asked, glancing for any obvious debilitating injuries that he hadn’t noticed earlier.
“Funny story about that. You know how I said my parents wanted me to be an enchanter, right? Once I told them that I wanted to be an adventurer, they took away all of my funding and kicked me out. Had to punch monsters until I could afford a club. Moved up from there,” he said, gesturing to the battleaxe on his back.
“Even so, shouldn’t you at least be silver rank by now?” Theo realized what he’d just asked. “Not that there’s anything wrong with steel! Perfectly acceptable rank I just-”
Adam laughed, patting Theo once more on the shoulder. “It’s not rude to ask. My team has… problems passing the test. We’re retesting again next week though. We’re hoping your wand will help us pass. Our comp is good at taking out single targets fast, but we struggle with groups.”
“Oh. Well, I wish you luck on passing. I’m sure you will, I have confidence in my products,” Theo said, smiling slightly.
“Thanks. I’ll make sure to pass then,” he said with a yawn. “If you don’t mind, I’m gonna head home and sleep now.”
“Of course not! Sorry to be keeping you up. Thank you again for guarding my shop. I appreciate it,” Theo said, his heart dropping again as he remembered his previous hope being crushed.
“No problem. Not sure I can do this every night, I’ll need to rest up for our test, but…” He frowned for a moment. “Stay safe, Theo.”
He mirrored Adam’s expression. “I will. I’ll have a security enchantment soon.”
Adam nodded to him. “Right. I’m gonna go pass out now. Bye, Theo.” He waved as he walked out the door.
Theo waved back, frowning as Adam left. “I had hoped for just a second that maybe… Well, never mind that. I have a security enchantment to build.”
He retrieved the sketch of his enchantment he’d be doing and laid it out on the counter. After poring over it, he noticed a few areas where improvement could be made and modified them. It was a simple repositioning of some of the Aspect runes, but he was happier with the end result.
This is all so obvious to me now. Note to self: never draw enchantments when you’re sleep-deprived. However, I do have to admit, these runes shouldn’t be particularly unstable even though I removed a node here and here.
It was finally time to test the effectiveness of the enchantment. Theo retrieved the two items he needed from his workshop, moving quickly as he didn’t have anyone to watch his shop.
First thing’s first, I’ll need a bell and an arm shape. He grabbed a small lump of pristine white vacium clay out of its smooth stone case. Wiping down the counter, he cleaned the surface before laying the expensive clay on it.
Theo hummed as he worked, and soon, he had something that vaguely resembled a bell with a hanging arm sitting on the counter in front of him. It was close enough for a test at least.
This next part required mana and he didn’t want to drain himself, so he opened the roof slats in his shop. Crystal inscription stylus in hand, he pulsed mana into his prized possession. Runes on the stylus lit up, running the spell to inscribe runes onto an object. This freed up his mind from having to constantly cast the same spell so he could focus on the work at hand.
He checked between the paper and the clay bell before he began. Once he was sure where to start, he touched the stylus to the clay. Silvery light emitted from the tip, leaving the telltale lines of runes where it passed.
Theo moved faster than usual, he didn’t have to be as precise on the vacium clay. He had to stop a few times and help customers, but towards the end of the day, Theo had transcribed the complete runic setup from the paper onto the clay bell.
It was a somewhat messy inscription job, but it would work well enough to activate - if a little costly on the mana front. Theo established a connection of his Infusion and Primordial mana to the bell arm. Afterward, he attached a Phrenic-attuned stardust crystal on the bell itself.
Now, how am I going to test the violent intentions sensor? Theo thought, tapping the bell.
He brought his thoughts back to Maraz, trying to capture the moment where he stood up to the man. It filled him with fear and anxiety more than any sense of anger.
The bell at his door rang. Theo looked up. Perfect.
------------
“Wait so this is gonna do what?” Pina asked, raising a brow at Theo’s enchanted clay bell.
“A harmless air cage, I promise. You just need to think violent or malicious thoughts. Perhaps about causing me harm or stealing something from the shop. And tilt the clay bell while you do it. Like this,” Theo said, demonstrating the motion Pina would perform.
“Alright then. I can try,” she said, tilting the bell back and forth and closing her eyes.
He watched as she scrunched her face, moving the bell more rapidly as time passed.
“Theo, this isn’t working. Wait. My boss today was a total jerk and I really wanted to punch him in the- Ah!” she yelped, her body freezing in place as Theo felt a drain on his mana pool.
“It works! Oh, I’m so glad. I was worried I did something wrong with the enchantments and-”
“Theo. Release me first before you gush,” Pina said, glaring at him.
“Oh! Sorry. Right, let me just…” He broke the established link to his mana pool and Pina unfroze. “There we go.”
“It works. It was softer than I thought it would be,” she said, carefully placing the bell back on the counter.
“That’s because it’s just solidified air using Infusion and Primordial mana. The only problem I see now is if someone comes into my shop particularly upset by something,” he said, resting his chin on his hand in thought.
“Is there any way you can make it only thoughts focused on you? It’s pretty creepy that your bell can read minds, by the way,” she said, eyeing the bell warily.
“It just picks up surface emotions. It’s a Phrenic principle I don’t particularly understand but I guess you ‘emit’ thoughts or emotions from yourself that those runes can pick up on. And to answer your question. Maybe? I’m unsure. I certainly don’t have the runes for that. I may just need to offer some apologies and release the customer quickly if that happens,” he said, shrugging.
“So why do you need this, anyway? To stop shoplifters?”
“Ah, well, you see…” Theo lowered his voice, glanced around, and explained the situation to Pina.
Her eyes widened. “Maraz? You threatened that beast of a hu- ahem, man?”
Theo cringed internally. “Unfortunately, it seems. I just thought he was some bully trying to force me to scam people. I wasn’t aware he had a reputation.”
“I’m shocked you don’t have a broken…” She paused, assessing Theo’s body. “Everything.”
He felt sweat breaking out at the small of his back. “I’m not sure why he treated me differently, but I refuse to change my prices.”
“Good, because I need more stamina potions,” she said, picking a few philtres off the shelf. “And a new ache relief poultice. That other one stopped working.”
“I have those right over on that shelf,” he said, pointing to the shelf in question.
She walked over to pick one out. “You owe me a tester’s fee or something, by the way.”
Theo frowned, drumming his fingers on the counter. “Understandable. How about you don’t pay two silver for the wand today and I’ll count it off anyway?”
Pina inclined her head in thought for a moment. “Deal. But you have to make sure I’m buying a good poultice.”
“All of my poultices are quality, I assure you.”
“Yeah, but I want the best one,” she said, smiling widely.
“...Allow me to take a look then,” he said, stepping out from behind the counter. After comparing a few, he handed Pina the newest one he’d made.
“Aha! I knew there were better ones,” she said, holding the poultice up like a prize.
Theo had to smile at her antics. They certainly helped him calm down anyway. “They were all fine, I promise. That one just happens to be the last one I made.”
“So it’s the best. It’ll last the longest.”
“I suppose so, yes.”
“Good. How much do I owe you?” she asked, taking out her coin purse from her messenger bag.
“Well, the stamina philtres are 14 silvers each, and that poultice is only a silver. So 29 silvers total.”
Pina inhaled sharply. “I only have a silver oval, do you have change?”
“Indeed I do,” Theo said, holding out his hand. Pina handed him the oval-shaped silver coin and he counted out her change - two square-shaped silver coins with a hole in the middle, and a circular coin with a hole. “21 silvers is your change. Unless you need anything else today?”
“Nope. All good now. I gotta get going or I’ll be late for dinner,” she said, placing her purchases in her bag and waving to Theo. “Bye, Theo!”
“Thank you for helping me with my enchantment, Pina. Have a nice evening,” he said, waving back to her.
“Yup! See you next time I need a stamina potion!” she said, calling to him as she ran out the door.
Theo regarded his clay bell once more, smiling at the success. He grabbed it, detached the Phrenic stardust crystal, and squished the clay back into a ball. The runes disappeared from the surface and he put the clay back in its box to prevent it from drying out.
After depositing the crystal under his counter, Theo flipped the sign on his door to ‘closed’. His mind felt weary from spending so much time on such a complex enchantment. Rubbing his eyes, he moved back into the house portion of his apartment.
It had been a light day for business, but he still felt exhausted. The slight price increase has been well-received so far at least. I’m still less expensive than anyone else. How could they charge so much for potions? The materials aren’t that expensive and the spells aren’t even that high in mana consumption.
He sat up straight when he heard knocking on his shop door. The knocking only grew louder as he remained in his seat. Feeling on edge, he grabbed the wand he kept under his counter. His suspicions were confirmed when he saw Maraz smiling through the glass of the door’s window.
“I see you, Theo. Come on, let me in,” he said, his voice a mix of cocky and venomous.
Theo froze in place. He swallowed, tightening his grip on the wand. “I apologize, Maraz, but I’m closed for the night.”
A laugh came through the door, loud and deep. “Oh come on, Theo. We both know I’m not here to buy something. That is, unless your prices are higher? I’ve heard they still aren’t.”
Theo’s door shook as Maraz tried the handle. He shivered, his mouth going dry. Sweat accumulated, wetting his shirt under his vest. It felt considerably hotter in the room than it had just a few minutes ago.
“I’m not changing my prices! I increased them a bit as I said I would, but that was because of the ingredient costs. I won’t leave the very people who protect us from monsters unequipped because of greed!” Theo called out to Maraz, grabbing on to a seed of anger once more. He wished he’d kept the clay bell now.
“Alright then. You’ve got two choices, Theo. You open this door or I will,” Maraz said, shaking the door once again.
Please let me be able to do this…
“Okay! I’ll open the door,” he said, steeling himself and walking up to the door. His hand trembled as he unlocked it. He stepped back. “Okay, it’s unlocked.”
The door swung open. Maraz’s face was set in a vicious grin. He walked up to Theo, towering over him.
Theo glanced up, then stepped back. “I-I’ll have you know, I’ll call the guards if you try anything!”
Maraz tilted his head back, laughing loudly. “Oh, that’s rich.”
I suppose that was a bit of a stretch. He didn’t seem scared of the guards last time. And with that reputation… Taking a deep breath, he met Maraz’s eyes. “I’m not scared of you. Well, I am, but that’s not going to change my prices. I’ve heard a lot about you by now, why haven’t you just… beaten me up or something?”
Maraz’s smile only grew wider, exposing his perfectly white teeth. “Honestly? Boredom. It’s been some time since anyone even tried to say no to me.” He flicked Theo in the chest. That flick had enough force that it knocked him off balance. He pinwheeled his arms to catch his balance.
Unfortunately, he lost his grip on his wand in the process and it clattered across the floor. Eyeing the distance, retrieving it was a lost cause. Maraz’s grin turned smug.
Theo rubbed at his chest, already feeling a bruise forming. He hated that he was trembling right now. In an attempt to distract Maraz while he mentally formulated, he tried changing the subject. “Why don’t other shopkeepers lower their prices? It’s profitable regardless, I’ve done the math.”
“Who doesn’t want to make more money? The guild makes more money if the shopkeepers make more. If I don’t make them make more, I don’t make more. So how about you change your prices and I can go home.”
“I refuse,” Theo said, grasping on to the fires of rebellion inside himself for strength.
“How utterly respectable of you,” Maraz said with a sneer. “I’m bored with you again. Maybe this will change your mind,” He tightened his hand into a fist.
Theo raised his own open palm. “Stun Bolt!” Lightning discharged from his hand, dispersing harmlessly across Maraz’s suit.
“Damn, the little shopkeeper has balls. Too bad you mentioned your Stun Bolt last time,” he said, chuckling and raising a hand to show a gleaming yellow gem on a ring. That same hand reached out, lightning-quick, and slapped Theo across the face.
He tumbled to the floor. Please work.
“I-I believe I t-told you before,” he said, voice trembling. “I won’t be bullied!” The full force of his mana pool unleashed as Theo brought his most recent runic construct to mind, sans the Phrenic component.
Maraz began to move closer to Theo before he froze in place. He glanced down in interest. “Oh? What’s this now?”
Theo gulped, rubbing his cheek and standing up. Already he was beginning to feel the strain of manual casting as the runes performed their work inside his mana pool. “An air cage.”
“Sure. So what now? Your mana won’t last forever.” He paused, grinning once more. “Actually, I’m curious if you can even hold me,” Maraz said, his muscles swelling as his own spells activated.
The strain on Theo’s mind increased as Maraz pushed against the air cage. He struggled to hold on.
“Huh. Strong little bugger, aren’t you? Explosive Strength,” he said, voice echoing with the activation of a Named Spell.
Theo cried out as sharp pain lanced through his head. Blood leaked from his nose as he held on. Eventually, he lost control. The world spun, breaking his focus.
Maraz smoothed out his slightly rumpled suit. “This was fun, Theo. You’ve earned yourself one more chance. Change, or else.” He pointed at Theo and walked out the door, adjusting the cuffs of his suit.
The edges of Theo’s vision began to turn black, the last thing he heard was someone calling out to him as he collapsed to the floor.
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submitted by LordCongra to redditserials [link] [comments]


2020.09.07 02:25 NintyAyansa Roleplay Test 2020/09/06 Pirate RP

2020/09/06
Participants:
- Alice - Alice
- AceDroo Ace - Ace
- Vidak Casrias - Vidak
- Nilin - Nilin
- Mifit Diego - Misfit
- Johniall John - John
- W_LM27 Lego - Lego
- Grand_Zenarck Zenarck - Zenarck
- Xalneriva Delkyrith - Delkyrith
- Giron Lirah - Giron
- Pan Marisol - Pan
- Dylan - Dylan
- Tucker Birdie - Birdie
-- oopse Gray - Captain Graybeard

Scenario:
The eleven of you are on a ship. You are pirates.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f7Cpkup4g3I
Alice is the captain of the ship. Pan is her aide.
Ace, Vidak and Misfit are manning the rigs.
Nilin is the ship's doctor, with John her assistant.
Lego is sick and in need of medicine.
Zenarck and Delkyrith man the cannons.
Giron, Dylan and Birdie are crew members without specific jobs.

Aidan 6:37 PM
This roleplay session is a test and is in no way canon. Please place the name of the character you intend to use in #roleplay-meta.
The session will act similar to D&D. You will be given a scenario and will each have a turn to take an action of some sort. Dialogue is free reign, you can say anything anytime, just don't spam the chat. The turns are taken in no order, but everyone gets at least one in between progression.
Please be mindful of anything put into #roleplay-meta during the session. Everything in this channel once the session starts is part of the roleplay; even things in parenthesis (). Use #roleplay-meta to talk out-of-character.
To perform an action, do as you would in Minecraft and use /me [action]. Discord automatically formats it for you as an action. If your action needs some sort of roll, we will roll in #roleplay-meta using Iris.

Scenario:
The eleven of you are on a ship. You are pirates.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f7Cpkup4g3I
Alice is the captain of the ship. Pan is her aide.
Ace, Vidak and Misfit are manning the rigs.
Nilin is the ship's doctor, with John her assistant.
Lego is sick and in need of medicine.
Zenarck and Delkyrith man the cannons.
Giron, Dylan and Birdie are crew members without specific jobs.


Aidan 6:59 PM
Ace and Misfit are currently fast asleep while Vidak mans the rigs alone. It is early in the morning and the sun is just beginning to rise.
John is tending to Lego while Nilin tries to come up with a remedy that will cure him.
Zenarck, Delkyrith, Giron, Dylan, Birdie, and Pan are all on the deck. Alice is in the Captain's Quarters.
Suddenly, Lego cries out as his pain increases. Pan instructs Giron to consult the map and search for nearby land so that Nilin can gather herbs.
This roleplay session begins now. You can perform one action in each turn. You can speak as much as you want as long as you don't spam or fill up chat.

Turn 1
W_LM27 Lego 7:02 PM
Lego clutches his chest, gritting his teeth. It seems the pain is coming from- "ME HEART-IES...!" ...his heart, yes...
AceDroo Ace 7:03 PM
Ace is having a nice dream about paper when he is suddenly awoken by a scream nearby
Johniall John 7:03 PM
facepalms as he tries to help lego
Tucker Birdie 7:03 PM
Birdie looks at the others, unsure of what to do. He consults his parrot on how to react. "Oh no! He must be helped!" Giggles a little.
Mifit Diego 7:03 PM
Misfit is still snoring slighly not easily woken when she's done hard work
Nilin 7:04 PM
"Looks like he's getting worse..." Nilin looks through a medical journal, trying to find a type of herbs that could be useful
Dylan 7:04 PM
“Still making puns as you die? I expect no different”
Xalneriva Delkyrith 7:04 PM
Delkyrith sits near a cannon, taking a bite from a stalk of sugarcane. She looks on in concern at the infirmary - Lego still seems to be in quite a bit of pain, and it's been impacting the morale of the ship.
Vidak Casrias 7:04 PM
is working through the night, humming a sea shanty to himself quietly.
Alice 7:04 PM
tends to her quarters, arranging papers, charters, and small supplies in an orderly fashion to get her cabin in tip-top shape before the day's work really begins for her.
Grand_Zenarck Zenarck 7:05 PM
Whistles Sea Shanties while Polishing the Cannons wincing at Lego's Screams
Giron Lirah 7:05 PM
says "Roger that!" to Pan, before having a look at the map, compass in hand, and glancing at the direction of the sun every so often to get their bearings.
Aidan 7:06 PM
A nearby ship approaches.

Turn 2
Tucker Birdie 7:06 PM
Birdie sees the ship but is unsure if he should tell anyone, he shrugs and figures they'll see shortly.
Dylan 7:07 PM
Dylan grabs the handle of his cutlass ready to draw
W_LM27 Lego 7:07 PM
"What can I say, Dylan... I'm a die-mond in the rough. I'm make shore the reaper seas me by himshellf... waitizzataship-"
Giron Lirah 7:07 PM
sees the ship. He yells "Ship approaching!"
Vidak Casrias 7:07 PM
looks up from his work and spots the ship, sighing before turning to the rest of the crew yelling. "ALL HANDS ON DECK!"
Pan Marisol 7:08 PM
“What!?” Rushes to the captain to see if she needs help.
Grand_Zenarck Zenarck 7:08 PM
Loads up the cannonballs in to the cannons "Aye"
AceDroo Ace 7:08 PM
Ace looks in the distance, and then hears Vidak calling for hands on deck. He then helps Vidak with the tasks at hand
Johniall John 7:08 PM
John hears the shouting and is concern
Nilin 7:08 PM
Nilin sighs "Save your breath Lego." She hears the yells from the other crew members and looks nervous
Alice 7:09 PM
puts down her papers, hearing the commotion outside her cabin. She grabs her ornate jacket and slips it on before stepping out on to the main deck and walking steadily over to the crew members.
Aidan 7:10 PM
The ship nears closer. A man stands on the forward, waving his cutlass wildly. It's the dreaded Captain Graybeard, the arch nemesis of our band of heroes.

Turn 3 -- Captain Graybeard must speak first.
oopse Gray 7:12 PM
"Give me all your meat or die!!!"
Tucker Birdie 7:12 PM
Birdie is very confused "Our meat? No! Not the steak!!"
W_LM27 Lego 7:12 PM
"Currently meat-ing you half-mast there, buddy... cough...!"
Pan Marisol 7:13 PM
Pan approaches the captain after hearing the words of the awful nemesis.
“Captain, what are your orders.?”
Xalneriva Delkyrith 7:13 PM
Delkyrith was taking another bite from the sugarcane when she noticed the commotion going on outside. Taking a telescope from the table to her side, she stops cleaning the cannon, walking up to the captain's room.
Giron Lirah 7:13 PM
scrambles, putting the compass away and rolling up the map. He gets up and turns to hear the Captain's orders
Xalneriva Delkyrith 7:13 PM
"Guys, what's the matter here?"
oopse Gray 7:13 PM
waves his cutlass almost snipping off his beard in the process
Dylan 7:14 PM
Dylan draws his cutlass “Not today Graybeard, you wont survive the day!”
Nilin 7:14 PM
"If you're able to make those sort of puns, you can't be that injured Lego." Nilin lightly hits him across the head and cautiously walks out on to the deck to investigate the commotion.
Alice 7:14 PM
pulls out a spyglass and points it at the approaching ship. She sees the flag on the ship and the fearsome Captain Graybeard. She shouts to the others "To your places! As we've practiced!" she collapses her spyglass and draws her own cutlass, heading to the front of the ship
oopse Gray 7:15 PM
Graybeard motions for his crew to start loading up the cannons
Johniall John 7:15 PM
john stays with lego trying to bear his puns
Grand_Zenarck Zenarck 7:15 PM
Facepalms at Lego's Pun before readying the Cannons to fire at the Approaching ship
Mifit Diego 7:16 PM
Misfit is rushing around quickly heading to the front readying her cutlass "You got it Cap!"
AceDroo Ace 7:17 PM
Ace draws his knife and stays above deck on the rigging, waiting patiently for his chance to strike if needed
Giron Lirah 7:17 PM
heads to the side Zenarck is on, readying himself to load the cannons once Zenarck fires.
Vidak Casrias 7:17 PM
climbs up the rigging and draws his cutlass ready to board the opposing ship or protect this one from a boarding party.
Aidan 7:18 PM
Captain Graybeard's ship, the Gray Blight, slows before stopping parallel to The Tavern. His cannons are facing the ship, and The Tavern's cannons are facing his. It's a standoff.

Turn 4
Xalneriva Delkyrith 7:18 PM
"Oh... Shit."
Mifit Diego 7:19 PM
". . . . We gonna sit here all day or fight"
Xalneriva Delkyrith 7:19 PM
"Zenarck? Hurry up."
Tucker Birdie 7:19 PM
Birdie sits on the steps. "Uhh you cant fire at us, sorry bb." Birdie giggles as he goes back to carving a piece of wood with his knife.
Xalneriva Delkyrith 7:19 PM
Delkyrith begins to fire at the other ship.
Johniall John 7:19 PM
john peeks his head above deck to see whats happening and just goes "nopenopenopenope"
W_LM27 Lego 7:19 PM
"...well, boys, I think I've tav-earned a day off..." Lego swiftly puts his head down, already feeling weak from pushing himself to make as many puns as possible.
oopse Gray 7:20 PM
Graybeard yells out "FIRE" and his band of pirates begin firing off cannon after cannon
Grand_Zenarck Zenarck 7:20 PM
Fires the Other Cannon
Nilin 7:20 PM
Nilin turns and slowly looks at the situation, before quickly turning around 180 degrees and walking straight back inside. She picks up her hat and looks at John and Lego "We got company, be ready you two."
Mifit Diego 7:20 PM
"John you stay down there and make sure lego is-OH HELL"
"John you stay down there and make sure lego is-OH HELL"
Alice 7:21 PM
Alice waits for the call and immediately yells at her crew to fire a counter strike on the opposing ship
Aidan 7:21 PM
Captain Graybeard's cannons start firing, hitting the lower part of the ship. They damage one of the Tavern's cannons.
Pan Marisol 7:21 PM
An expression of fury forms onto Pan’s face.
“LET’S SEND THEM TO DAVY JONES’ LOCKER!!”
Pulls out her flint lock pistols and fires at the other ship.
Giron Lirah 7:22 PM
braces for impact, and sees one of the cannons get damaged. "Shit!" he curses, before loading in cannonballs as quick as he can to the remaining ones so they can fire.
Grand_Zenarck Zenarck 7:22 PM
Aims the cannon at the starboard side of the opposite ship and Fires
Xalneriva Delkyrith 7:22 PM
"Augh... Not good. I need to douse out the gunpowder before it starts a fire."
oopse Gray 7:22 PM
Graybeard laughs, "Having a bit of a struggle?" He yells to the opposing ship
Dylan 7:22 PM
Dylan is shaken a little by the fire and gets back up “We should board them!”
Aidan 7:22 PM
Pan tries to fire her pistols, but they jam in her hands.
Mifit Diego 7:23 PM
Misfit takes a deep breath blowing a kiss to Vidak "On my way then" She attempts to swing over
Alice 7:23 PM
"This is why we clean our guns, people!" she grits her teeth
Aidan 7:24 PM
Zenarck fires the cannon, but the Gray Blight is actually on the port side, so he fires straight into the ocean.
Nilin 7:24 PM
Nilin picks up her pistol and positions herself just outside the infirmary before firing on the opposing ship
Aidan 7:24 PM

Turn 5
Tucker Birdie 7:25 PM
Birdie watches, realizing that it is bad he quickly sends Clucker his parrot to fly and canvas the area. "Fly bud fly."
Pan Marisol 7:25 PM
“BLASTED TOOLS! I CLEANED THEM THIS MORNING!”
Drops the pistols before running up to the side of the ship to climb the nets.
Grand_Zenarck Zenarck 7:25 PM
Facepalms "I'm never living that shot down"
oopse Gray 7:25 PM
Graybeard takes aim at the stray parrot
Mifit Diego 7:26 PM
Misfit Joins Pan in trying to board the other ship "You coming Vidak?" She yelled with a grin wings fluttering slightly
Vidak Casrias 7:26 PM
looks at Misfit as she swings across before smiling and turning to Dylan. "Dylan! Stay here and kill'em if they board, I've got a date today!" With that Vidak swings across the gap towards the opposing ship.
Nilin 7:26 PM
"I can't be dealing with more injured crew members, Lego is more than enough!" Nilin yells before opening fire on The Gray Blight's crew
Alice 7:26 PM
Alice draws her flintlock pistol and aims it squarely at Captain Graybeard before firing, determination in her eyes "Not our parrot you bastard!"
Xalneriva Delkyrith 7:26 PM
Delkyrith keeps manning the cannons, aiming towards the deck of the other ship.
Aidan 7:26 PM
Graybeard fires at Clucker, severely injuring the bird, which falls on to the deck of the Gray Blight.
Giron Lirah 7:27 PM
"CANNONS READY!"
Giron yells out
Dylan 7:27 PM
“How come you get to do all the fun stuff!?” grabs his pistol and starts firing
Grand_Zenarck Zenarck 7:27 PM
Loads up another cannonball in to the Cannon and fires at the other ship
Xalneriva Delkyrith 7:27 PM
"Let's do this! FIRE!"
Delkyrith yells with exhilaration.
Aidan 7:28 PM
Vidak manages to cross the gap, landing squarely on the deck of the Gray Blight.
W_LM27 Lego 7:28 PM
Lego covers his head with a pillow to drown out the loud noises... it doesn't work well...
Aidan 7:28 PM
Alice fires at Graybeard, hitting him in the shoulder and making him drop his pistol.
Nilin's pistol explodes in her hand, injuring her.
oopse Gray 7:29 PM
Graybeard yells out "That was my good arm"
Mifit Diego 7:29 PM
"Really I didn't think any part of you was good!"
AceDroo Ace 7:30 PM
"Wait, Vidak! Argh, are you serious?" Ace says, exasperated. He stays on the ship and tries to fix the rigging so that The Tavern can gain speed on Greybeard's ship
Aidan 7:30 PM
Zen attempts to light the cannon, but ends up setting his own clothes on fire with the match before tossing it on the ground. Luckily he accidentally stomps on it before he starts a fire.
Dylan's pistol explodes in his hand as well, blowing one of his fingers off. He is bleeding profusely.
Grand_Zenarck Zenarck 7:31 PM
"Argggg That be my good clothes"
Pan Marisol 7:31 PM
Climbs up the nets to get a better view and height to use a rope and then saw that the captain had taken a shot at the enemy and instead uses the rope to slide down onto the deck to approach the captain Alice.
“What do you plan for him if we managed to wjn?”
Dylan 7:31 PM
“AHHHHHHH MY FINGER”
Nilin 7:31 PM
Nilin yelps and a significant amount of incoherent swearing can be heard. She returns inside the infirmary briefly and retrieves a sword and a bottle of alcohol.
Giron Lirah 7:32 PM
Giron sees Zen almost set alight, and hears the explosions of Nilin and Dylan's pistols. "Shit." he mutters, getting up from the cannons and pulling out his own pistol, attempting to hit some of the Gray Blight's crew.
Xalneriva Delkyrith 7:33 PM
Delkyrith groans, seeing that Zen and Dylan have... Injured themselves through less-than savory ways.
Aidan 7:34 PM
Misfit manages to swing across to the Gray Blight, joining Vidak.
Giron attempts to fire his pistol, but it slips in his hand, and he ends up shooting himself in the foot, both figuratively and literally.

Turn 6
Giron Lirah 7:35 PM
"GAH, SHIT SHIT SHIT!"
Tucker Birdie 7:36 PM
Birdie is sobbing while holding his knife. Aiming his knife at Graybeard's leg he swiftly throws it across at him.
Vidak Casrias 7:36 PM
turns to one of Graybeard's crew members and fires his pistol at them.
Xalneriva Delkyrith 7:37 PM
Fires at the Grey Blight
Mifit Diego 7:37 PM
Misfit aims her cutlass at another intending on stabbing his heart
Grand_Zenarck Zenarck 7:37 PM
Pulls out his pistols and aims at an enemy before firing a shot. "May aswell try with a pistol then"
Aidan 7:37 PM
Delkyrith aims the cannon and fires, but it goes well short of the Gray Blight. The cannon itself bursts into flames, somehow.
Johniall John 7:37 PM
john peeks above deck and aims his pistol at one of graybeards crew
Xalneriva Delkyrith 7:37 PM
"How?!"
oopse Gray 7:37 PM
Graybeard commands his best swordsmen to attack the intruders
W_LM27 Lego 7:39 PM
Lego, putting down his pillow, sits up in curiosity. "What's it lookin like, doc...?"
AceDroo Ace 7:39 PM
"I can already see this not going well" Ace clings onto a rope tightly and then prepares to swing across to back up Misfit and Vidak
Aidan 7:39 PM
All three shots misfire, hitting none of their targets... the crew is in disarray.
Alice 7:39 PM
gets a spark in her eye and smirks, aiming once more for the infamous opposing captain and firing her pistol. She's sweating a bit as her crew fumbles this encounter, but she has faith yet.
Johniall John 7:39 PM
"not good lego..." tries to feign a smile
Grand_Zenarck Zenarck 7:39 PM
"God damn it, Why have the seas forsaken me this way"
Aidan 7:40 PM
Misfit slashes one of Graybeard's crew members across the neck, killing him.
Nilin 7:40 PM
"Some rest and you'll be fine...walk it off!" Nilin shouts to Giron and takes a swig from the bottle of alcohol.
Aidan 7:40 PM
Alice's pistol clicks and jams in her hand.
Xalneriva Delkyrith 7:40 PM
"Ugh, screw this. Giron?"
Delkyrith pulls out a pistol on one hand, and a cutlass on another.
Dylan 7:41 PM
grabs his pistol with his healthy hand and fires at one of the swordsmen
W_LM27 Lego 7:41 PM
"Need me to go out and- cough- help?" He'd ask, clearly still ill...
Pan Marisol 7:41 PM
“As you said Captain...you didn’t clean yours either didn’t you?”
Xalneriva Delkyrith 7:41 PM
"I'm going over to the Grey Blight, Man the guns. I'm horrible at manning the cannons..."
Aidan 7:41 PM
Ace tries to swing across, but gets nervous and doesn't let go. He's now hovering over the ocean as the rope has lost momentum.
oopse Gray 7:41 PM
Graybeard takes a seat, laughing at the opposing pirates
Alice 7:42 PM
"Nonsense. You know I regularly clean my hardware as per the manufacturer's manual."
Vidak Casrias 7:42 PM
"Ace you idiot!"
Aidan 7:42 PM
Dylan fires his pistol but it misses.
oopse Gray 7:42 PM
Graybeard commands his men to start boarding the tavern
Nilin 7:42 PM
"Stay where you are Lego! You'd just be cannon fodder." Nilin yells into the infirmary
Giron Lirah 7:42 PM
Giron grits his teeth, grabbing his pistol from the deck. "Right!" Attempting to walk off the shot in his foot, he loads and aims one of the remaining cannons at the Gray Blight, then fires.
Aidan 7:42 PM
Graybeard's men try to board the ship, but a few of them are cut off by the crew of The Tavern, falling into the ocean.
Mifit Diego 7:43 PM
"Vidak can you reach him!?" Misfit yells seeing Ace stuck like a helpless maiden
Pan Marisol 7:43 PM
“Fair enough Captain...”
Pan rushes up the net and takes a rope with her to go and save Ace.
Aidan 7:43 PM
Giron fires the cannon, and it hits the deck of the Gray Blight, sending some of its crew flying.
At this point, both sides are losing more than they have to gain. As the battle rages on, Vidak discovers something interesting on the Gray Blight...
A bottle containing the herbs that Nilin thinks can cure Lego.
Can a deal be made or will the battle descend into further chaos?

Turn 7
Tucker Birdie 7:46 PM
Birdie sat there sobbing, not doing anything. He looks down into the water waiting to be shot. "I have to fight.. for Clucker.." He stands up and gets his pistol out, firing at Graybeard's leg. Birdie fires at his leg.
Xalneriva Delkyrith 7:46 PM
Delkyrith leaps onto a rope, swinging towards the Grey Blight while firing from her matchlock pistol.
Pan Marisol 7:46 PM
Pan jumps off of the ship from the mast to help get Ace swinging again.
“IM ON MY WAY!”
Giron Lirah 7:46 PM
Giron breathes heavily, a grin on his face. "How'd you like that, huh?!" He yells, taunting the enemy crew. He slowly loads another cannonball into the cannon, takes aim, and, taking another deep breath, fires again.
AceDroo Ace 7:47 PM
Ace sees Pan swinging over and reaches his hand out to grab her
Grand_Zenarck Zenarck 7:47 PM
aims at Graybeard's arm and fires a shot at him "Have at it ya Scallywags!"
Alice 7:47 PM
Alice glares across at the injured Captain Graybeard "Avast ye, Graybeard! Lest ye be drawn and quartered upon your own decks." she aims her pistol one more time at a crew member attempting to board the ship and promptly fires
Aidan 7:47 PM
Birdie misses.
Delkyrith swings across, landing on the Gray Blight. She shoots a crew member in the head.
Mifit Diego 7:47 PM
Misfit aims her cutlass at another crew mate "Vidak! Where did you vanish!"
Xalneriva Delkyrith 7:47 PM
"And none of the Grey Blight could put humpty dumpty back together again~"
oopse Gray 7:48 PM
Graybeard begins to use his beard as a shield, deflecting any shots fired toward him
Aidan 7:49 PM
Giron misses with the cannon.
Ace manages to grab hold of Pan, swinging to safety.
Zenarck fires at Graybeard's arm, hitting him in the same spot.
Alice manages to kill another crew member.
The shots go right through Graybeard's beard, luckily only grazing him. However, one of the shots slices his beard clean off.
Turn 8
oopse Gray 7:51 PM
"MY BLOODY BEARD"
"YOU SHOT ME BEARD CLEAN OFF YE BASTERDS"
W_LM27 Lego 7:52 PM
"It's bloody, alright!" Lego shouts, having no clue what's going on
Grand_Zenarck Zenarck 7:52 PM
"Finally a good bloody shot"
Vidak Casrias 7:52 PM
quickly stows the bottle in one of his pouches before turning to cut another Gray Blight swordsman down.
Tucker Birdie 7:52 PM
Birdie swiftly dives off the back of the boat, swimming to the underside of the boat hopefully to find a way on. He quickly grabs onto one of the pieces of wood coming off of the boat and begins to climb up and onto the boat.
Dylan 7:52 PM
swings over to the Gray blight with his cutlass placed in his mouth as he cant use one hand
Johniall John 7:53 PM
"try to rest lego" john goes above deck to try to help and aims at one of graybeards crew members with his pistol
oopse Gray 7:53 PM
"Drop that bottle!" Graybeard yells out
Pan Marisol 7:54 PM
Pan extends her hand out to Ace, and grabs his forearm and swing with him onto the other ship.
“I couldn’t believe you didn’t swing your legs! But the past is past..now into the action!”
Aidan 7:54 PM
Vidak manages to kill another swordsman.
Birdie climbs to safety.
AceDroo Ace 7:54 PM
"Thanks Pan. I'll keep that in mind" Ace holds tightly onto Pan and swings with her over to the other ship
Xalneriva Delkyrith 7:54 PM
Delkyrith pulls out her cutlass and begins to slice through the enemy crew members.
Mifit Diego 7:54 PM
"It was tacky you ass" Misfit. Snaps aiming her own pistol at Greybeards chest and firing
Johniall John 7:54 PM
john fires his pistol
Nilin 7:55 PM
Nilin discards her bottle of alcohol and rips a strip of fabric from her coat to bandage her injured hand. She runs to the nearest cannon and attempts to fire on the Gray Blight
Grand_Zenarck Zenarck 7:55 PM
Grabs a rope and Prepares to swing over to the other ship with a cutlass in hand at the ready to attack
Alice 7:55 PM
Alice jumps the gap and points her cutlass at the bare chin of the captain "I was hoping to slice that beard off myself, but it seems your own arrogance did it for me!" she laughs and jabs her sword at the captain formerly known as Graybeard
oopse Gray 7:55 PM
Graybeard with some urgency runs to the lower decks and can be heard unlocking something
Vidak Casrias 7:55 PM
"Having thought long and hard about it, I've decided no." Vidak rushes to join Misfit again.
Giron Lirah 7:55 PM
Giron grits his teeth, looking around the deck for a moment, before loading another cannonball into the cannon - taking a moment to see what was left. He aims for one of the Gray Blight's cannons, and fires.
Aidan 7:57 PM
Delkyrith slices through more crew members, killing two.
Misfit fires at Graybeard's chest, but the pistol explodes and injures her.
John fires his pistol at a crew member and kills one.
Nilin fires the cannon, hitting the Gray Blight. All of its cannons are now down.
Zenarck attempts to swing over, but slips and plunges into the sea.
Alice gets the better of Graybeard, and manages to stab him in the chest.
Giron tries to fire the cannon, but the cannonball just slides out in a depressing fashion.
Graybeard is bleeding out, and the crew begin to retreat. The members of The Tavern return to their ship, wounded.
The Gray Blight sails away as fast as it can.
Turn 9 - final
Vidak Casrias 8:03 PM
gives Nilin the bottle of herbs before beginning to tend to the wounded.
W_LM27 Lego 8:03 PM
Lego coughs up a little sea-water - how it got there, no one knows - clutching his chest weakly...
Johniall John 8:04 PM
moves to help tend the wounded
Dylan 8:04 PM
Dylan picks up whats left of his finger off the ground “I’m gonna need a new finger”
Nilin 8:05 PM
Nilin quickly takes the herbs and grinds them into a horrible smelling paste, then adding it to some water. She takes the foul smelling drink over to Lego and holds his nose as she brings the cup close to his mouth. "Best you don't smell it, drink up"
Mifit Diego 8:05 PM
Misfit is holding her hand scowling but attempts to move out of sight from Vidak waiting on John to help her
Pan Marisol 8:05 PM
Pan helps out with clean up and sneers at the mess but then starts to sing a sea shanty.
Tucker Birdie 8:05 PM
Birdie sits there lookin pretty, mourning over Clucker. He quickly sets Clucker into the sea, letting him rest and float away in the water. "Rest well little birdie."
Aidan 8:05 PM
Lego drinks the herb-drink. He seems to be feeling better already.
Grand_Zenarck Zenarck 8:06 PM
Swims back to the Tavern and Climbs up the Rope Ladder, His clothes having been soaked by the Ocean. "Great, just bloody great"
W_LM27 Lego 8:06 PM
Lego naturally takes a whiff, groaning, before taking a chug. As Mr. Narrator said, he feels better already, sitting up. "Whew... that was... a rough few hours..."
Alice 8:06 PM
Captain Alice stomps back onto the main deck, assessing the damage. She smirks, it was a close victory but a victory nonetheless. She does her best to make sure and go around to each crew member, helping to tend wounds and clear the deck. "Looks like there's plenty of work to do. But for now, you should all rest up! I'll have the galley put together a proper meal tonight. I'm proud of you all."
Nilin 8:07 PM
"Welcome back Lego. Can't have you sitting in bed all day now can we?" She chuckles
AceDroo Ace 8:07 PM
Ace nods politely to the captain, before climbing back onto the rigging and falling asleep
W_LM27 Lego 8:08 PM
"You're more than right on that!" Lego chuckles, sighing a little. "Felt pretty useless here... but hey, things still turned out grayt for you guys, and a grayve mistake for them, eh?"
Finger guns
Xalneriva Delkyrith 8:08 PM
"Fear ME- oh it's over?"
Johniall John 8:09 PM
john facepalms so hard he falls on the floor
Grand_Zenarck Zenarck 8:09 PM
Looks at the Captain in confusion "I didn't do anything though asides from that shot in the arm"
Vidak Casrias 8:09 PM
sets to work fixing things on the ship to try and get something done.
Xalneriva Delkyrith 8:09 PM
Delkyrith helps with the cleanup, slightly embarrassed with the random 'fear me.'
Nilin 8:09 PM
"Nevermind, you talked less when you were dying. I take it back"
Mifit Diego 8:09 PM
"Eh. john do you think I could get a bandage or two" Misfit calls
Dylan 8:10 PM
goes to sleep, holding his finger in his arms
Mifit Diego 8:10 PM
"Also good work babe!" She grins
Vidak Casrias 8:10 PM
"Thanks dear!"
Johniall John 8:11 PM
john hands misfit a bandage
W_LM27 Lego 8:11 PM
"Aw, c'mon, Nilin - t'wasn't that bad. I'm sure you've herb worse?"
Pan Marisol 8:11 PM
“We’d be aaalllright if the wind was in our sail. Weee’d be allllright if the wind was in our sail..”
Pan sang to herself as she helped with repairing and cleaning the ship.
Johniall John 8:11 PM
john wants to jump overboard after legos pun
Nilin 8:11 PM
Nilin hits Lego across the back of his head, and says nothing

Aidan 8:12 PM
The ship begins to sail away into the rising sun, as a lone pirate can be heard singing an off-kilter sea shanty. They may have won the battle, but most of them will know that Graybeard likely walks free, and he won't stay down forever.

End of session.
submitted by NintyAyansa to theworldofchertia [link] [comments]


2020.08.31 01:54 flintroseline Hi 5 couple chapter two

Everyone finishes work. CJ and Sierra get to his apartment build and get into the elevator. So I was wondering if you could fuck me hard and use me asked Sierra nervously? What no why said CJ. Sierra gets upset. Wait did you like when the cop fucked you, asked CJ? No but I like being used, said Sierra. What the fuck thats gross. Well fuck you CJ said Sierra.
The elevator doors open and Sierra gets off and knocks on a door. What are you doing, asked CJ? Proving a point said Sierra. A six foot guy opens the door. Can I help you asked the guy? Sierra peers into the room and sees three other guys that are all big and tall. So my boyfriend is refusing to fuck me rough. So to prove a point fuck me rough and use me. Yo guys this chick wants to teach her boyfriend lesson about fucking his girl rough. The three agree.
Do you guys have rope asked Sierra? Yeah we do. Yo grab the rope. Tie up my boyfriend and use me, said Sierra. They grab CJ and tie him to a chair. They grab Sierra and tear her clothes off her. Then two guys grab her and then put two ropes over and under her tits then tie her hands behind her back with the same rope.
One guy puts her on the coffee table and puts his cock down her throat. Sierra coughs and chokes. Another guy starts rubbing her pussy fast. Sierra opens her mouth more out of pleasure. Hey I think she wants another cock in her mouth. Another guy comes over and puts another cock in her mouth. Sierra is gagging on the two cocks down in her throat. Every time they would go down her throat, it would have an outline of two cocks in her throat.
The other two guys that are rubbing her pussy one of them puts a cock in her ass. The other guy kept rubbing then fingering her pussy. The guy who has a cock in her ass is slamming Sierra hard and fast. Sierra is screaming in pleasure but she has two cocks in her mouth so it is muffled. The two guys who have their cocks in her mouth take them out and cum on her nice big b cup tits. Sierra coughs and gasps for air, at the same time the other two guys just made her cum.
Sierra tries to get air but with cuming she can’t get enough.The two guys then stick their cocks back down her throat. The guy at her ass has taken his cock out of her ass and the other put his cock in her pussy. The guy who was in her ass cums on her tits and stomach.
A few minutes later Sierra is being choked by cocks and cumming again by her pussy being pounded. The guys stop and move to the coach. One sits on the coach. They retie Sierra so her arms are in front of her. They sit Sierra on the guy sitting on the coach. His cock goes in her ass. Another guy puts his cock in her pussy. The two other guys put their cock in her mouth.
CJ is blocked by one of the guys. Can we cum in you asked a guy? She shook her head no but they didn’t care. One guy looks at CJ saying this is how to treat a woman. Both guys in her ass and pussy cum in her and then go back to pounding her. The two guys in her mouth cum a few seconds later. A couple thrusts later Sierra cums again. Then they untie Sierra. When she stands up she has cum dripping down her legs and tits. She unties CJ and dashes to his apartment because Sierra is ass naked with cum dripping on her and coming out of her. They get into the apartment. Sierra says your right. What the fuck was I thinking.
That night Woods and Rose went for dinner. They get to the parking lot and Woods gets a call. Hello? Muffled voices. That’s great news thank you. Woods hangs up. Who was that asked Rose? It was my landlord. He said they found the guys who robbed the apartments. So I can go back home.
Rose looks at Woods happy but a little sad. That’s awesome I’m so glad they caught the guys. Woods can tell Rose is not that happy about it. Woods puts his hand on Rose’s cheek. Look just because I can go back to my house doesn’t mean I don't l love you any less. Rose looks up at Woods. Really? Yes really, said Woods. Woods leans in and kisses Rose softly on the cheek.
They walk in the restaurant and get a table towards the back of the place. There aren't many people in the restaurant on a Monday night. They got a booth that is on the wall Woods slides in then Rose slides in. The waiter comes and gets their drinks order. Rose hands Woods her purse to put on the side of him so no one would steal it. The waiter comes back and gives them their drinks and they order food.
Woods and Rose are holding hands under the table. So who thought that Sierra and CJ are dating said, Woods. I know that is so strange. I would have never thought that, said Woods. I wonder what they would like to do? What do you mean Woods? I mean like sexually? As he winks at her and squeezes her hand. I don’t want to know, said Rose.
Woods lets go of Rose's hand and pulls his phone out of his pocket. Sorry someone is texting me, said Woods. He opens his phone and it was Sam. He goes into her text. She is saying thanks again for today. Rose peers other to Woods phone to see the pictures of Sam topless with her tits in full view on the photo. What is that from, asked Rose? Sams and Tanner fucked in the props for a prop hunt video. Well Sam yelped or moaned loudly so I covered for them. Okay then. You should ask Sam why she yelped said Rose while grinning. Woods laughs and then texts so why did you yelp? Well Tanner found my G spot. He is great at it. Woods and Rose both read the text. Okay then Rose wanted to know Woods texted back. Okay have a good night you two Sam texted back. Woods puts his phone on the table.
Why don't you hit my G spot ,asked Rose? First of all cold and I do and I will prove it tonight. Rose is wearing a long skirt with a short sleeve shirt and a jacket. Rose reaches over to get something out of her purse. She put her hand on Woods cock. Then Rose unzips his pants then puts her pussy right over his cock. Woods feels her soft lips of her pussy rubbing on his cock. Rose intentionally is slowly going back and forth on Woods cock.
Woods gets hard. His dick is stuck on his pants so his cock isn’t up. Woods shifts a little and his cock pops out of his pants. Rose is going back when his cock pops up. When Rose went forwards she got a cock going into her wet soft pussy. Rose ginned at Woods.
A few seconds later the waiter came with their food. Rose pretends to drop something. She reaches down to go under the table at the same time Woods’s cock is going in her pussy. Sorry we are a little silly tonight, said Woods to the waiter. It's cool my girl is this way sometimes, said the waiter. Yep, what can you do ,said Woods. The waiter and Woods chuckle and the waiter leaves. Rose sits up onto Woods’s cock getting all of it in her. Okay let's eat first ,said Woods. Fine ,Rose said upset.
While eating their food Woods has his hand under Rose’s skirt and on her pussy. She isn’t wearing any panties. They finish eating and Rose is dipping wet. Rose gets out of the booth, grabs her purse and goes to the bathroom. Woods waits for the waiter to come back with the check. He comes back and Woods hands the waiter his card.
Hey come into the handicap stall texted Rose. I have to pay then I will babe, Woods text back. Aww you called me babe. I’m getting more horny ,Rose texted. A few minutes later the waiter comes back with Woods’ card. The restrooms are around a corner and down a hallway. Woods texts Rose asking if it is safe? Rose texts yes.
He walks to the handicap stall. Rose is standing in the corner parallel to the wall. Woods opens the stall door slowly and only a small bit. He sees Rose is in there. She has her skirt lifted while she fingers herself. Rose is so focused on herself that Woods takes his cock out and his pants off without her noticing. Woods then darts in and slams his cock in Rose and lifts her off the floor. Rose screams then realizes that’s its Woods.
Woods is throwing Rose up and down on his cock. Rose is moaning loudly. Woods puts Rose down and pushes her up against a wall. Rose pulls her skirt up more so Woods can see her cute ass as he is slamming his cock in her pussy. While fucking Rose, Woods reach over and shuts the stall door.
Woods is fucking Rose so fast and hard that Rose’s ass is bouncing. Rose starts gripping the wall and her moans are longing. Woods speed up and then Rose cums. Rose starts shaking for a few seconds then stops. She turns and grabs Woods and they make out. They stop a few minutes later and leave and head back to their apartment.
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2020.08.29 23:47 Orion_The_Poet 21 hours, 6 minutes. Chapter 7: Preparations Part 2

((Finished work))

The following days were a rush. Most of our time was spent on trying to get all the ducks in the row for our imminent departure. During the first day, I successfully managed to fix the remaining tires. That was the thing I was most concerned about, so I felt pretty good afterwards. Having seen my success, Natsuki finally revealed her plans with the suitcases she hoarded from the maintenance room. Namely, she wanted to attach these to the bikes in order to increase our carrying capacity. A brilliant idea which fell short, because neither of us had a clue on how to attach them. Luckily, Yuri helped us out, and the final outcome was something to be proud of.
Now, despite our first win, the chores didn’t stop there. I was quickly mobilized by Yuri to help her with washing up. This would have been the most boring thing ever had it not been for Sayori’s presence. Although she was a bit hurt after I lost track of time when fixing the bikes, I made sure to apologize the next morning, and this seemed to bring her back to her usual cheery self. I asked her if she’d like to accompany me during the remaining chores, and she agreed almost immediately. To us she was like a godsend: she would hold up a conversation like it’s no-one’s business and keep our spirits up by proposing different word-games we could play. This made the whole thing so much more enjoyable, and none of us really grasped how quickly time went.
The remaining days were spent on trying to organize our stuff in order to make it easier to decide what to bring along and what to leave behind. This would have been an easy task, yet it dragged on for hours, mostly because during the time they had spent in the school, the girls had looted a lot of seemingly valuable items. Our limited carrying capacity meant that compromises had to be made, and this led to some heated debates between the club members. Monika advised everyone not to bring a lot of personal belongings along. While Sayori was content with that idea and Yuri, albeit hesitant, also agreed, it took us longer to convince Natsuki to leave all of her manga behind. This was only one of such fights we had to endure.
It was clear that the uncertainty and anxiousness weighed on everyone. Although it was plausible to assume that by the time we arrive to the hospital it could already be empty, a chance still remained that we could clash with the other group. This meant that the outcome of the whole operation was based on dumb luck as well as our ability to adapt to the situation at hand. Our plans were thorough and thought out, however, there were a lot more factors at play, and no plan can take into account every single thing that can go wrong.
And it wasn’t just the hospital we were worried about. The 284 mile ride to New Davenport was going to be difficult as well, mostly because of the supply situation. There were only a handful of villages along the way, and there was no guarantee that we would find everything we need from there. It was a gamble just like the hospital mission, and everyone knew that.
Out of all the members, Yuri seemed to deal with our predicament the best, probably because she was the one who got the most out of it. Ultimately, it was her idea to depart for the DCHQ, and everyone, except for Monika, was fully on board with the plan. There was a possibility that she was faking her calm demeanor – an assumption that is surely correct to some degree – but there was no doubt she hid it better than the others.
Natsuki was prime example of a person who couldn’t hide her emotions. Despite her desperate tries to keep it together, her outbursts became more frequent and more volatile. There wasn’t a soul inside the school who hadn’t gotten the classic Natsuki treatment, yet we all toughed it out. We were used to it, and we also knew that if we just left her alone for a while, she would come to her senses and the conflict wouldn’t escalate.
The person we were all worried about was Monika. She would spend most of the days inside the meeting room. Of course, she would come out and help us with the chores, but as soon as she was finished, she would retreat there again. The only person who got any contact with her was Sayori, and although we pestered the latter pretty hard, she didn’t divulge any information, only assuring us that Monika was fine. This gave us little to work with, and we had no other option but to hope for the best.
Sayori didn’t try to hide anything – she was visibly petrified every time our conversation tilted towards the hospital or the DCHQ. Luckily, it rarely came up, and when it did, I managed to quench any worries with relative ease. I hadn’t forgotten about my doubts regarding Sayori’s well-being, but it was pretty easy to keep an eye on her, seeing as she was stuck to me like a band-aid. It didn’t bother me at all. On the contrary, her cheeriness would ease my own mind, for it was clouded with anxiousness.
Ever since the exam day, I’ve been having nightmares. They’ve varied in intensity: sometimes I experienced them quite vividly, sometimes I forgot about them in seconds. After arriving to school, however, these nightmares have ramped up both in intensity and content. The theme has always been the same: I would either see scenes from the day of the outbreak or horrible stuff that hasn’t happened before. The latter have mostly been related to the hospital. It wasn’t unusual for me to wake up screaming or panting after seeing another one of my friends dead on a gurney or a hospital bed. In addition to the fact that I haven’t been able to rest properly, these nightmares have actually made me scared of falling asleep, which is why I’ve been feeling exhausted for days.
This fear has also hindered me in other ways. On the third day it was time to check my wounds, and, of course, Yuri was the one to do it. She had been skimming a few books she found in the nurse’s office so to find out when to remove the stitches and how to keep them clean. Her deduction was that in order to avoid infection, it was important to occasionally wash the wounds. The suggestion was logical, and I could easily do that, because the group had collected enough water to last for a few weeks at least, yet I was terrified of going downstairs.
At noon, Yuri found me pacing in front of the hallway leading to the gym showers.
“Hello, Michael,” she greeted me politely. “What are you doing here?”
“I was just going to heed by your suggestion.”
“Oh? That’s good. I was actually pondering about your face.”
“My face?”
She turned a shade redder and quickly began to explain what she really meant.
“A t-textbook said that face injuries actually heal the quickest, so we may be able to remove the stitches soon!”
“Really?”
“That’s what the book said.”
“But I should clean them before that, right?”
“Correct.”
I made a vague motion towards the hallway, signaling her that I was going to do just that, but I was unable to budge. This didn’t go unnoticed by Yuri, whose gaze switched back and forth between the hallway and me. Even though I tried to act as nonchalantly as possible, it was clear why I was so apprehensive about heading to the showers.
“Is everything okay, Michael?” Yuri asked, her eyes fixated on me.
I attempted to think of an excuse on the fly, but she saw right through me.
“Oh my!”
Her exclamation didn’t come as a surprise, but it startled me nonetheless. I instinctively lowered my head in shame.
“I’m so forgetful! It seems like I left my hairbrush in the showers,” she said and shook her head in disappointment. “Would you like to accompany me?”
It took me a few seconds to realize the true meaning behind her words. What appeared to be the most pathetic acting quickly turned into the most tactful thing I’ve seen anyone do. Our eyes didn’t meet, but I spotted a supportive smile.
“Of course,” I answered with a lump in my throat, taking her hand. “I’d be happy to.”
We locked arms and began to head through the hallway. As expected, I was greeted by the same whispers and malignant thoughts that plagued me three days from then. My attempts of staying calm proved fruitless, and at some point I began to shake uncontrollably. I guess Yuri noticed that, because she started to hum a somber tune, which had a calming effect on me. Despite my fidgeting, we managed to arrive to the showers without a major incident.
After falling on one of the benches inside the women’s dressing room, I let out a weary groan. Spotting Yuri’s worried expression, I quickly assured her that I was fine.
“Are you sure? Do you need me to stay?”
“No,” I answered, trying to mask the shakiness of my voice. “I can handle it.”
“Very well.”
I still couldn’t look her in the eye, but I was able to muster enough courage to say my final thanks.
“You’re a class act, Yuri.”
Although she usually displays herself as an extremely restrained person, it seemed like I broke her that time. I don’t think I’ve ever seen her smile this wide.
The following 30 minutes were a mixture of good and bad. On one hand, the water was bitter cold and the overall low temperature of the room didn’t add to my comfort. On the other hand, it’s been almost a month since I’ve washed myself that thoroughly. The luxury of hot showers has been a distant memory, so I’ve gotten used to alternative methods, often having to use baby wipes to clean myself. Cold water and shampoo was a huge improvement and left me refreshed and content, even though I reeked of coconut afterwards.
On my way back to the principal’s office I ran into Yuri again. She was waiting for me so that she could begin removing the stitches. This time the pain was nonexistent, mostly because removing stitches doesn’t include sticking a needle inside my skin multiple times. It only took a few snips to get rid of the ones on my face, but the shoulder wound was left untouched. I asked if they would need to bandage my eye again, but Yuri theorized that it would be better for it to get some air. I thought I looked terrible without something covering it, but Yuri was quick to assure me that it was barely noticeable.
The following evening was spent with the whole group. Monika wanted to give everyone a break from their chores and organize a fun event full of board games, card games, and other such activities. I was quite concerned about the fact that no-one was on guard duty, but Monika seemed okay with it. She told me that it was important to keep our spirits high before departure, as morale plays an important role during risky situations. Despite my hesitation, I agreed with her, because everyone had been under a lot of pressure during these few days.
We started with the only board game that was available: a well-known property training game. I knew that I was straight up garbage at it, so I didn’t have any hopes of winning. Surprisingly, I managed to last longer than Natsuki, Sayori, and even Yuri. With Sayori being my cheerleader, I put up a valiant defense against Monika’s ruthless gameplay, but was ultimately defeated: penniless and in jail. We waited until Yuri and Natsuki finished their chess battle and then moved on to a card game, which was a bit more lighthearted, because it didn’t need any sort of strategic thinking. I somehow sucked at that as well, because of course I did, but I didn’t let such a meaningless circumstance stop me from having fun. On the contrary, my bad luck quickly became the main thing we made fun of.
Because of the fact that the board game round dragged on into the night, our time to play cards was cut short. Everyone was quite sleepy after a few rounds. The first one to hit the hay was Sayori, who, despite comforting me on my losses quite enthusiastically, seemed out of it by the end of the evening. Natsuki and Yuri soon followed her. I wanted to catch Sayori before she went to sleep, hoping to maybe make her feel better in some way, but I was stopped by Monika.
“Quick word with you, Mike?” she asked, while the others were heading out of the room.
“Sure, Monika!” I answered, glancing at the door. “What do you need?”
“I wanted to speak to you about the hospital.”
I reluctantly focused my attention on her.
“Do you wanna to go through the plans again?”
“No, they’re fine.”
“What’s wrong then?”
“I just wanted to make sure you’re healthy enough for tomorrow.”
“Of course!“ I answered with a chuckle. “My shoulder has been steadily healing, so-…”
“I’m not talking about your shoulder.”
“What are you talking about then?”
“”Get out of my head”. What was that?”
The question caught me completely off guard, because I’d already forgotten about my little outburst during the fight. There was no doubt that Monika had heard everything I said, which meant that the assumption that Yuri was the only one who knew about my illness was shattered, along with the illusion that this would stay a secret. I tried to play dumb, but my shock was pretty telling, which is why any attempt of denying what had happened was shut down by Monika.
“It was nothing,” I managed to say. “You don’t need to worry about it.”
“So I just imagined you freaking out, right?”
It took me everything to keep myself calm, but Monika’s combative demeanor made it incredibly difficult.
“I’m just saying that this isn’t your concern.”
“Not my concern?” she scoffs. “I’m responsible for their lives! It’s my obligation to make sure that everything goes well.”
“I understand that,” I pressed through my teeth, hoping to move on, but Monika had other intentions.
“You do realize that tomorrow is going to be incredibly dangerous?”
I nod.
“Well, it doesn’t look like it!” she exclaimed. “What happens when you have another fit like that? You’d be putting all of us in danger.”
The question bellowed in my mind, multiplying all of the same doubts that had festered in me these last few days.
“Look, I’m giving you a way out. If you’re not up for it, then maybe-…”
“Not up for it? Really?!”
I wanted to say a lot of things to her, but I managed to keep the more insulting comments at bay.
“Do you see me hesitating? What part of my behavior tells you that I’m not up for it?!”
“It’s impressive you’re so determined about this, but you don’t need to push yourself.”
“Don’t fucking do that!” I growled at her. “A few days ago you approved of me leading this raid, and that’s exactly what I’m going to do.”
“You don’t need to get so defensive. I’m just trying to help.”
“Respectfully, Monika, this conversation ends now.”
Without another word, I walked out of the room.
I took a gander over the hallway, but, like I’d previously thought, Sayori had already entered the sleeping quarters, which meant that there was no way to talk to her face-to-face without alerting others. Even though I figured I would get a chance to talk to her tomorrow, it did little to ease my concerns. Trying to calm down from my little skirmish with Monika, I took a deep breath and headed for the office.
I shouldn’t have lost my temper, but Monika cornered me and I lashed out. I could admit that she had a point – if anything similar occurs, things would probably take a turn for the worst, however, bringing that up the night before our raid was pretty ridiculous of her. I knew very well that I was the lynchpin of the operation, so her accusing me of not taking that seriously was insulting. Not to mention the hypocrisy of her claiming to care for the group while sowing doubts the night before. She should’ve voiced her lack of confidence in me much sooner, so we could’ve had an opportunity to change the plans.
I laid awake on the couch for a few hours, ruminating about the upcoming day, pondering about Monika’s intentions, and worrying about Sayori. With each thought I could feel myself get more irritated, because the more I wallowed in such topics, the less chance there was for a peaceful night’s sleep.
__
“Stop it! Please…”
“Yeah,” the doctor agrees with a sigh that is almost compassionate. “You’re right. We should stop.”
After one meaningful look at Sayori, he lowers his head.
“Because this isn’t life, wouldn’t you agree? We’ve been talking for minutes and she hasn’t even batted an eye.”
Even though he’s clearly blocking her view to the park, she doesn’t care at all.
“Fortunately, we can make it right.”
He clears his throat and grabs Sayori’s shoulders.
“There’s no need to further drag this out, Mikey.”
He tenderly pushes her on her back.
“We both know what the answer is.”
He takes the pillow. The sudden realization hits me.
“I know you can’t do it.”
A quick glance at my direction reveals his eyes. I see a yellow glint.
“So let me carry that burden.”
Without missing a beat, he places the pillow on her face. I try to scream, but no voice leaves my open mouth.
“Remember, Mikey. You’ll never be a hero.”
Her whole body convulses, and the doctor’s laugh turns into a harrowing growl….
I jolt upwards and desperately gasp for air. Flickers of my nightmare remain only for a second, soon replaced by a terrible stinging sensation coming from my elbow. The office starts to take a more detailed shape, and I feel comfortable enough to sit upwards. As I see the aftermath of my nightmare, I let out an exasperated groan. The glass coffee table has toppled over to its side, luckily not exploding into million pieces in the process.
I slide on my boots and do some stretches, after which I pull the table to its original place and gaze at the windows. The sky has turned noticeably lighter. If countless nights spent outdoors have taught me one thing, it’s that sunrise is just around the corner. This means that I probably slept for only three or four hours. It’s pretty obvious I’m not able to fall asleep for a while, so I might as well do a short walk around the school. After all, there is one place I haven’t visited yet.
The hallways are illuminated only sparingly, but the light of the rising sun is enough to guide me. I yawn multiple times and follow the third floor hallway towards the rooftop access. Instead of entering the stairwell, I turn a corner and walk to a more secluded part of our school. There are still multiple fliers about the finals and messages about other important dates plastered all over the walls and doors of the classrooms. Their colorful nature contrasts the gray nothingness of the abandoned school. I glance at the fliers a few seconds, but soon arrive to my destination.
Classroom 324. The Literature Club. This is where it all began.
I grab the handle and open the door. I was hoping for the smell of Natsuki’s cupcakes or Yuri’s oolong tea, but what I experience is a far cry from those. It takes me a few seconds to finish dry heaving, because the contents of the classroom aren’t pretty.
I’m greeted by dozens of corpses laying in the back of the classroom, quite close to the closet Natsuki used to hold her manga collection. I fall on the doorframe for support. Pictures of the bodies in the trucks crash into my consciousness, dragging along the familiar feeling of hopelessness. I take a moment to gather myself and step inside the room.
Although the place is ruined by dried blood and yellow liquid, I find that the desks and chairs are still left in a somewhat orderly fashion. Even my desk is mostly untouched by the dormant danger within the room. With careful steps I edge closer to my regular sitting spot and run my hand over the backrest of my chair, feeling the roughness of the plywood underneath my rugged hands.
I close my eyes.
“Okay, everyone! I think we should end the day here!”
I shake myself awake and examine my pathetic excuse of a poem. I’m not sure what Monika expected of me, seeing as I haven’t written anything since middle school, but I have a sneaking suspicion that two lines of unrhymed garbage isn’t close to qualifying even as a bad literary work.
“Sayori! Please help Natsuki with her manga!” Monika thunders again. “I don’t want Ms. Rivers to yell at me again!”
Natsuki starts to huff and puff, but Sayori’s elated nature quickly overwhelms her. They pull up a chair and place it next to the class closet. On the other side of the classroom, I notice Yuri collect her tea set and walk towards the sink.
“Did you get anything written?”
I yelp and jump in my chair. Monika has somehow teleported right in front of me, and her hearty laugh tells me that she scared me on purpose. I quickly crumple up my brain fart and slide the paper ball in my lap.
“Uuuh… No!”
“Then what’s that there?” Monika says with a smirk and points towards my lap.
I let my head fall.
“A miserable performance by a failed writer?”
“Come on, Mike! Show me! I’m sure it’s not that bad.”
“It’s pretty terrible. I wish I had more time…”
Monika nods and places her hands behind her while sporting a wide smile. My stomach twirls around, and I feel myself blush.
“Of course. I understand. It’s not easy to come up with anything while put on the spot like that.”
I eagerly nod.
“Plus, you guys pumped me full of sweets before handing me such a difficult task,” I say and point at the empty tray which held at least twelve cupcakes. “The only thing I’m able to think about is how sleepy I suddenly am.”
She giggles and tilts herself towards me.
“We wanted to make sure you feel welcome!”
I chuckle nervously and scratch the back of my head.
“I do feel very welcome, Monika. Thanks!”
“I should ask you about the club now,” she says with a slightly lowered voice. “The others are busy, so you can tell me what’s really on your mind.”
Her smile is a lot more sincere than before, which is why I decide not to hold back.
“Well, Monika, to be honest, the club is a lot of fun! You really know how to lead the group and it shows.”
“I can sense there’s a “but” coming…”
“But I don’t know how I can contribute. I’ve never been much of a book guy. I’m sure Sayori has already told you that.”
Monika chuckles and looks the mentioned girl, who is now dangerously close to tipping over while carrying Natsuki’s manga collection.
“She has only told me how funny and great you are.”
“Take that with a grain of salt,” I mumble, feeling a familiar hotness congregate to my face. “She likes to over-exaggerate.”
“I wouldn’t worry about contribution or anything like that! After all, if you’re interested, we can teach you and give you suggestions. There’s no rush!”
“I just don’t think it’s for me.”
Monika slowly nods. She’s still smiling, but there’s a faint sadness creeping up.
“Hearing Yuri go on and on about how long she has read and all that… I haven’t picked up a book in five years!”
“And you don’t want to read one now,” she finishes my thought. “Michael, if you’re not interested then-…”
“It’s not that!” I blurt out and try to look anywhere else but Monika’s eyes. “There’s exams coming and other stuff…”
I feel terribly guilty, scrambling for excuses like that. I should’ve just told her that this club would heavily cut into my other activities.
“It’s okay,” Monika says. “I just hoped that you’d be willing to try.”
“Why is it so important anyway? It looks like you’re doing fine on your own!”
“The thing is, Michael, the school board made some new rules over the summer break. In order to be an official club, we need at least five members.”
Noticing my expression, Monika jolts up.
“Don’t take this the wrong way! I didn’t mean to guilt-trip you! Sayori just seemed to be so sure about this…”
“Of course,” I let out a sigh. “What did she say?”
“She told us that she’s been talking to you about this for weeks. But that isn’t the case, is it?”
I can’t help but snicker.
“She invited me this morning.”
“Oh… It wasn’t nice of her to put you in a position like this,” Monika admits. “Look, whatever you decide, we won’t hold any gru-…”
“What are you two lovebirds chatting about?”
This is the last thing I need. It seems like others have noticed our little get-together.
“Stop it, Natsuki,” Yuri scolds the girl. “We shouldn’t be interrupting in the first place. They’re obviously having a private conversation.”
Despite her saying this, Yuri is in no rush to leave us be. She makes a measly attempt to back off, but seeing Sayori skip towards us, she drops her plan altogether.
“What’s going on?” Sayori chimes with her usual joyous demeanor. “Did you make a decision?!”
I fidget and try to dodge their collective gazes, but it doesn’t work out. Regardless of the pressure, I can’t falter. I must stay true to my choice!
“Actually, yes,” I declare and straighten myself, much like Yuri did when she introduced herself. “While I’m thankful for your invitation, I just don’t think it’s the right club for me.”
It’s fascinating to see multiple people get so dejected at once. Only Monika is able to hold her smile.
“B-But I really though you-…,” Sayori begins, but is quite abruptly cut off by Natsuki.
“Nice plan, Sayori! Do you see it now? I told you he only came for the cupcakes! Why else would a guy stay after school?!”
“I didn’t only co-…”
“What a load of crap, Mike!”
The guns are now turned towards me, and it’s fire at will.
“Gah! I can’t believe it! All the work I put into those!” Natsuki fumes at me, barely holding herself back. “Well, what are you waiting for? You got what you wanted!”
“M-Maybe he doesn’t want to join, because you scared him off with your impudence!” Yuri remarks.
“Oh, speak English, would you!” Natsuki bites back. “Maybe if you didn’t act like a pretentious diva, he wouldn’t feel like he’s a total moron!”
Yuri recoils, but only for a second. She frowns and pushes her chest forwards, while making fists with her hands.
“I’m sorry, Natsuki, b-but you acting like a five-year-old is no-…”
“Stop!” Monika bellows at the group with rage. “What is wrong with you!? Both of you!”
She manages to stun them both, leaving Natsuki stare off into the distance, arms crossed, and Yuri to back away and turn almost dangerously pale.
“Not only did he give us a chance in such a short notice,” Monika glances swiftly at Sayori, who turns red from her face, “but he declined our invitation politely! And what does he get in return? You two going at it like a bunch of brats fighting in a sandbox!”
An uncomfortable silence falls over the group. Monika peers at both of them with a scowl, curiously resembling my mother when she found out that my sister had gotten into yet another fight at school.
„It absolutely astonishes me that the moment we find a person who is at least a little bit interested, you manage to nullify all of it! Is this what you want the literature club to be known for: members constantly bickering amongst themselves?”
If looks would kill, Monika would be tried for murder ages ago. After some tense seconds, she shakes her head and rolls her eyes.
“I think the least you can do now is apologize.“
The first to speak up is Yuri, who nervously plays with her hair.
“I-I’m sorry, Michael. It was unquestionably rude of us to react this way. I-I do hope you don’t get the wrong impression from us,” she mutters while looking at the ground. “Please don’t think we’re always like this.”
Monika nods and even sends Yuri a short smile. It fades immediately as she turns towards Natsuki. The latter bites her lip and growls a bit, but then opens her mouth.
“Yeah, ditto.”
Although Monika isn’t quite happy with the response, I decide to relieve some of the tension, despite feeling some whiplash from the encounter.
„It’s okay. It’s no problem at all.“
After a momentary silence, Natsuki turns to Monika.
“But what about our club? Will they close us down?”
Monika breathes in, regaining some of her composure.
“I’m not sure. We have until the end of the week. Maybe we’ll find someone.”
Looking at the girls’ faces, it’s clear that none of them are quite as hopeful as her. But it seems like Monika isn’t finished yet. She slowly turns to me.
“Unless… There’s some hope we can change your mind, Mike?”
The words slide off her tongue, and I almost feel the need to applaud Monika. This was perfectly executed in every way. She steered a potentially disastrous situation to her advantage, managing to put pressure right where it was needed. It’s obvious that the club means a lot to these girls, and if I do decide to join, I’ll be the savior of it.
Although I’m still hesitant, my mind changes the moment I look at Sayori. I’m not sure if it was the fight that has left her in tears, or the fact that I refused their invitation. Nevertheless, I recall this morning when we met at the only traffic light on our way to school. She seemed so giddy when I told her that I will consider her invitation. I didn’t even mean it seriously then, but now I realize that I do want to spend some time with my friend, and the literature club seems to be the perfect place to do so.
Like Monika said, there’s no rush. I don’t need to be awesome at this from the get-go. And what else would I spend my evenings on? Mastering yet another hero in a video game? Killing yet another bunch of dimwits in an online lobby? Watching yet another low-quality anime flick? If picking up a book means that I can continue spending time with these wonderful and weird… and potentially single girls, then so be it.
“Alright, fine. I hope that I don’t reg-…”
But my sentence is cut off by Sayori’s ear-piercing scream. She grabs me into a hug and bounces up and down. Over her shoulder I can see the relief on Yuri’s and Natsuki’s face. They both seem to have forgotten their clash just moments ago and share a smile. Monika crosses her arms and seems quite pleased with herself.
“Mike?!”
I quickly turn around in order to face the owner of the voice.
“Jesus Christ, Sayori! You scared the crap out of me!”
“What are you doing here?!” she exclaims from the darkness, only her bow lit up by the morning sun.
“What are you doing here? Shouldn’t you be asleep?”
“Shouldn’t you be asleep?” she jabs back. “Eheheh… We can do this all night!”
I didn’t expect her to be that clever and persistent in the mornings.
“I woke up and couldn’t sleep anymore. Your turn.”
“Same… kind of,” she answers with a sniffle. “I just wandered around and saw someone here. I thought it was Monika at first, but it’s you.”
“Monika? Does she come here often?”
“From time to time.” she says, her voice gradually dropping. “I think she misses the club meet-ups.”
“Gosh. It feels like those were ages ago…”
I glance around myself. Leaving out the obvious in the back of the room and the thick layer of dust coating the floor and much of the furniture, one could perceive it as a totally usable classroom.
“This is the only place I haven’t visited,” I say and pat the chair. “I was actually wondering why you didn’t make this your hangout room. It would’ve fit so well.”
I kick my feet into motion and walk next to Sayori, putting some distance between me and all the death. She moves out from the doorway to make me some room.
“Now I see you had a pretty good reason to avoid this place.”
“It wasn’t this bad initially. We brought them here ourselves.”
“That must’ve been horrible.”
“It was!” she says and sniffles again. “We tried to be as respectful as possible. I can’t imagine what they went through…”
And it’s better you don’t, Sayori.
I smile and turn towards her, hoping I get the timing right. She was just about to notice the pained expression on my face.
“Are you ready for tomorrow?” I ask with forced cheeriness. “Bags packed and all that stuff?”
I spot a nod in the darkness.
“Did you try out your bike?”
“A bit,” she mumbles. “I have to figure out how to put the seat in the right spot.”
“I can help you with that before we leave. Sometimes it’s a bit difficult to release it from the frame.”
She nods again. It seems like she’s not in a talkative mood. As I’m beginning to run out of small talk myself, I just lazily stare out of the classroom windows, part of my cheek resting on the metallic doorframe. The coldness of it offers some odd comfort, keeping me from leaving this room. The longer I watch the sunrise, the more I sympathize with Monika. I come to a conclusion that I would give anything to return to the good old days, when a poem assignment was the only thing I had to worry about.
Despite the hurt from bittersweet memories, I feel mighty sleepy all of a sudden. As soon as I start dozing off, I feel something tugging at my sleeve.
“Mike?”
“Mhh?! What is it?”
“Can I hug you?”
My eyes suddenly flick open. There’s something awakening inside of me. My mouth feels strangely dry, and my head begins to ache.
-Long time, no see, Mikey.
I press my eyes shut. This proves to be a costly mistake, as I’m brought back to my nightmare. I don’t remember much of it, but the horrifying emotion still lingers.
-Do you remember what I said?
Sayori has always been a little clingy – all this touchy-feely stuff has been her modus operandi in the literature club with the others, but I haven’t heard such a request since we were in our teens and she found out her parents are divorcing.
“Uhh… S-Sure!” I utter and raise my arm.
-“She will never hug you.”
She sheepishly presses against me.
-Remember that?
“Are you okay?” I manage to say, desperately trying to ignore the nausea suddenly besieging me.
“I missed you so much,” she mumbles into my hoodie. “I was afraid I’d never see you again…”
-I bet you’re enjoying this.
“I-I missed you too,” I say and try to swallow anything, but my throat stays dry. “It’s okay now.”
Even though I awkwardly rub her back and repeat the previous, she still seems quite unhinged.
-I know you, Mikey.
“We’re all together again. We can get through this.”
My heart beats furiously as she tightens the hug.
What the hell is going on…?
-Good god. How pathetic can you be?
“Can I tell you something?”
Sayori raises her head, but doesn’t look at me. Instead she seems to be determined to stare out of the windows.
“Of course,” I chuckle nervously. “What is it?”
A few long seconds go by, but she doesn’t seem to be able to utter a single word.
“Did you fall asleep?” I ask her and nudge her shoulder. “You know that it’s your turn to say something, right?”
She giggles. I can’t help but notice how hollow it is. Any sort of energy usually present in her classic “Ehehehe!” is gone. I decide to gently push her away to get a better look.
“Are you that worried about tomorrow?”
She finally raises her eyes from the wall and nods a couple of seconds later. With considerable difficulty, I twist a smile and shake my head.
“There’s nothing to be worried about! We’re gonna arrive to the hospital and get our stuff.”
-Her eyes are so mesmerizing.
“In-and-out, just like we planned!” I say and snap my fingers.
-Ocean blue…
“We’re gonna get everything we need and then head for the DCHQ.”
-Am I right, Mikey?
“And then we’re gonna find out what the hell is going on with the world!”
-Do you feel it?
“I promise you that everything is gonna be just fine.”
-Don’t lie to me.
Sayori’s glance drifts to the windows again.
“You can’t promise such things. You don’t know what’s going to happen…”
“I do.”
“How?”
“I just know,” I simply say. “The “how’s” and “why’s” aren’t important.”
She rubs her eyes and yawns. I shakily draw some breaths and quickly use this cue to my advantage.
“Look, let’s just get some sleep. All of this will be gone in the morning,” I say and pat her shoulder. “You’ll feel better then.”
I’m not sure she bought any of it, but at least she agrees to leave the room. She trots along the hallway and takes a look at the same colorful fliers I observed before. She looks back towards me, but I wave at her to go.
As soon as she clears the corner, I fall to my knees, grabbing my head. The combination of nausea and pain is unbearable.
-You haven’t learned anything.
Stop it...
-There’s going to be consequences.
Leave me alone.
-Don’t fight it.
Please…
-It’s going to ruin her anyway.
Shut up!
I punch the floor a couple of times, but this does nothing else but multiply the pain I’m feeling. I attempt to catch my breath, and, luckily, it works after a while. I slowly stand up and take a last glance over the classroom I’d learned to love so much. The blazing red sunlight bounces off the dust-caked desks and chairs, blinding my tired eyes. I’ve never been in this room this early, and the experience is so magical that I’d like to savor it forever, yet I know it’s just not possible. This room, along with everything else that happened in this school, belongs in the past now.
I step outside and close the door. As I walk through the hallway back towards the principal’s office, my throat feels thick with emotion. I have to swallow a few times to access my voice, because I see Sayori stand next to the office door.
“Did something happen?”
She turns towards me, but doesn’t meet my eyes. Instead, she drags her foot across the floor and purses her lips.
“No! Nothing! I was just wondering if…”
It’s almost frustrating, constantly having to drag information out of her.
“If…?”
“If I can sleep here tonight?”
“Here? You mean the office?” I ask, to which she nods.
I exhale and scratch my head. If her previous request was a bit weird, this one is just downright bonkers. Still, I don’t have enough energy to contemplate why their room isn’t suitable, so I just motion her inside, eager to finally get some shut-eye.
I follow her into the room and drag my feet towards my backpack leaning against the wall. I take a knee near it and start to rummage through its contents.
“What are you doing?” she asks me, her voice noticeably more relaxed than before.
“What do you think I’m doing?”
She sits down on one of the armchairs and shrugs. I stick my hand into the backpack and lift some clothes out.
“I’m taking my sleeping bag. The floor is quite cold, you know?”
“Aren’t you sleeping on the couch?”
“No? You’re sleeping on the couch.”
Of course, as is her nature, she quickly refuses, not wanting to cause me any more discomfort. I tell her that it’s no problem, but she doesn’t seem to care, and this little argument goes on and on until I finally find my sleeping bag and roll it on the floor, making my final statement.
“No, seriously, Mike, I can just sit here and-…”
“You either get on the couch or you get out, Sayori.”
This shuts her up quite quickly. She mumbles something about me being a meanie, but, nevertheless, trots next to the couch, tripping against the coffee table on her way. While she lays down on the couch, I take off my hoodie and climb into the sleeping bag. Although the couch would’ve been softer, the sleeping bag proves to be snug as well, and the floor has the added bonus of supporting my back.
“Alright… Goodnight,” I utter, having finished finding the best position on the floor, but the lack of any answer tells me that she’s already fallen asleep.
I chuckle to myself and place my hands below my head, taking a final look out of the windows. Morning has arrived with frightening speed, yet we probably have a couple of hours before Monika wakes us up and ushers us to pack our stuff on the bikes. A lot of doubts remain about tomorrow, but the creeping sunlight and the clear blue sky offers some hope that perhaps we’re really going to get through this.
Perhaps we’re going to stay alive.
All of us.
Together.
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2020.08.18 04:22 welcometosouthapp Welcome to South App #4: "Outside 101"

Monday, August 17th, 2020
Winston Beavers was having a very bad day.
It all began at 5 AM when his phone alarm vibrated. He rolled over on his belly and silenced it before it could wake Tai. It was the first day of class, but Winston wasn’t rising early to drink coffee and read the student newspaper. Instead, he grabbed his trusty silk tie and used it to hang his tablet from the sprinkler head. He slipped his headphones on, booted up some porn, and got straight down to business with both hands.
Now his contraption was holding on by faith and faith alone. But Winston paid no mind. He listened to Irish redheads moaning in his ear while he arched his back and curled his toes. And with each passing second, the weight of the tablet began to wear on the old, rusty sprinkler head.
So, when Winston exploded, so did that sprinkler head.
“Fuck!” Winston yelled, choking on a mouthful of rusty water. He tumbled off the top bunk, landing square on his ass. He scrambled to his feet, grabbed a binder from his desk, and rushed out the room - slipping on the puddle on his way out. Tai was already in the hallway, naked and wrapped in a wet blanket.
“What the hell, asshole?!” Tai blurted out, shivering with his laptop and backpack in each hand. “I told you not to jerk off like that!”
“Save your breath, partner,” Winston reassured him. “This here binder is the only important thing in that goddamn room.”
As water seeped into the hallway, Winston reckoned his luck had finally run out. Earlier this week, the Asheville PD had informed him that his prized Single Action Army was nowhere to be found in evidence. But he still had his precious binder, with the letters BDE inscribed on the spine. And when the water was finally shut off, Winston stuffed the binder back in his desk and made Tai pinky swear to keep it a secret.
***
A few hours later, Tai sat on the sofa in a local Asheville coffee shop with a drink and a bible in front of him.
As your wing-woman, I shall provide some friendly reminders!” Gigi cheerfully told Tai over the phone. “Make sure you’re facing the door so you can see when he comes in. Oh, and remember the order of operations: turn a page, sip your drink, make eye contact. Turn, sip, eyes!
“Uh, are you sure you know what you’re doing?” Tai whispered, as sleepy, hungover students filed in.
“I’m setting you up on an impromptu date on a Monday morning, am I not?”
“And have you run this strategy by amateur wingman extraordinaire Winston Beavers?”
Gigi paused. “Winston and I are...no longer on speaking terms. Sorry! I do not consent to any conversation about the aforementioned obnoxious brute whatsoever. Good luck!”
Gigi hung up. So Tai, who had never touched a bible, flipped to Ephesians like Gigi had coached him before. In fact, she’d planned out everything down to the last detail: the NIV version of the bible, the iced caramel macchiato, and the red and white checkerboard Vans he wore.
But Tai’s mind wandered to a more interesting book that he also had not yet read. He wanted to know what the hell was in Winston’s binder.
Suddenly, Jacky California walked into the cafe. Showtime. His 7:30 coffee break was expected. (Gigi found Jacky’s schedule on Facebook, and a quick visit to this cafe before 8 AM Intermediate Spanish just made sense.) Check. Turn, sip, eyes. Jacky waited in line, wearing a slim-fit red Abercrombie polo, bleached holy jeans, and his prized red and white checkerboard Vans. And his shoe decision, yet again, was also expected. (Gigi discovered that Jacky had only two classes on Monday, influencing his choice in that comfy pair of shoes that he wore in his profile pic). Check. Turn, sip, eyes. When Jacky stepped up to the counter, he ordered an iced caramel macchiato. And, once again, Gigi predicted this move. (Whatever the weather, Jacky’s SoCal roots virtually guaranteed an icy, watered-down coffee approach. Not to mention, nobody drinks hot coffee after sitting in the tanning bed for 30 minutes. Which, according to Gigi’s sleuthing, Jacky partook in every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.) Check. Turn, sip, eyes. Finally, while waiting for his order, Jacky pulled out his NIV study bible and flipped to the Book of Acts. (This time, Gigi was only partially off-base. His Facebook modeling photos were actually captioned with Ephesians bible verses. Nothing a quick fix couldn’t remedy). So Tai flipped straight to Acts, took a long sip of his macchiato, and made direct eye contact with Jacky as he walked over.
“Bro, this is freakin’ gnarly!” Jacky said in disbelief, pointing out their matching shoes, bible, and drink. “This is some righteous Revelation-level prophecy if I’ve ever seen it. Hey, my name’s Jacky. Is this seat ocupado?”
***
“Oh no!” Claire exclaimed, stroking Winston's fuzzy beard. “I’m, like, totally sorry about my stud’s mishap this morning!”
“Thank ya, peach pie,” Winston said, shaking his head. “I reckon they’ll move my ass to the broom closet and hang me out to dry.”
Claire and Winston were sitting in the Rec Center courtyard in athletic gear, along with several other hungover students. This was the Outdoors Adventures Seminar, AKA “Outside 101.” For many, it was a breezy way to snag the required Health and Fitness credit hour. And that's exactly why Gigi and Frank were also in this class. They sat on the opposite side of the courtyard, quietly gossipping and shooting the occasional glance their way.
“Your friends over there are, like, totally ignoring us!” Claire piped up, tugging Winston’s sleeve. “That’s, like, so rude.”
“Don’t trouble yourself, puddin’ muffin. They just ain’t ready for us yet.”
“And, like, oh my God! Ryan flat-out told me those are, like, the two people who broke into the frat house and blew up his daddy’s ashes! They are, like, total thugs. Ew!”
“Ah, my sister explained to me that it was a big misunderstanding, bundt cake,” Winston replied, feigning interest.
“Well, you should totally talk some sense to that Asian friend of yours, or else this class is gonna be, like, hella awkward,” Claire suggested. “She has, like, a salt and vinegar chip on her shoulder! It’s, like, totally not my fault that I can pull off a sports bra while she’s wearing those baggy clothes!”
True enough, Gigi and Frank had been giving them the cold shoulder ever since the frat house raid. For Frank, this was because of Winston’s affiliation with Claire Dansby and the notorious fraternity she represented. As for Gigi, it was more simple and personal: the lap dance.
“Ahoy, ladies and germs!” greeted the rugged Australian instructor, decked out in bushman’s gear. “My name is Angus, and I want to welcome ya to Outside 101. While you shop different classes, I indeed hope you’ll choose to spend your semester with us. Today is the Gauntlet Challenge, where we’ll break off into groups and compete for a mighty fine prize!”
With that, Angus hurled an ax at a target behind the students. Bullseye. Everyone stood up to clap and cheer. “Now, everybody come up front and grab yourselves a fine ole’ nametag so we know who you are!”
Winston sprung up and headed for the front of the line. Gigi stood with her back to him, her long black hair draping over her Under Armor tank top. He cleared his throat. “Howdy. Looks like we’re gonna be getting a workout in today. So hey, can I have a word with ya in private?”
She spun around, showing him a forced smile. “I’m sorry, sir. I don’t consent to this conversation.”
With that, she grabbed a nametag and wrote “Gigi.” Winston cocked his head. “So, I seem to recall Sarah telling me that you’ve got a South Korean name that only your father calls you.”
“Ah, but what’s in a name anywho?” pondered Frank, stepping forward. “Sir Winston, I wish to extend a sincere congratulations to your acceptance into the Beta Delta Epsilon Sausage Club. And to that brazen bull of a woman under your thumb. Alas, a braver man than me are you!”
Gigi narrowed her eyes at Winston. “You don’t know my real name?” she stated matter-of-factly. “Do you even know me at all?”
Frank and Gigi walked back to their seat. The hair stood up on the back of Winston’s neck. But before he could retort, two late students entered the courtyard.
“Hey, what’s up dudes and dudettes?” Jacky greeted casually. “Sorry we’re late. We couldn’t find the-"
“Hellooo everyone!” Tai greeted the class flamboyantly. “Jacky-boy, I hope you’re ready for a totally fabulous time! Ready to sweat? Oh, will you look at the sports bra on that blonde gal over here! Looks like Victoria can’t keep her secret for long. Am I right, Tai? Hey, boo-boo! Yes, you in the sports bra. You are killing it!”
Claire giggled, thanking Tai. But he and Jacky wound up sitting next to Gigi and Frank instead, introducing each other. Winston watched from afar, shaking his head. So this is how my roommate acts when he’s no longer single, he thought. Then, when no one was watching, Winston reached into his pocket and pulled out a 20-dollar bill.
“Oi, Steve Irwin,” Winston whispered to Angus, slipping him the money. “I need ya to put me and my friends together in a group.”
Winston pointed out his four friends, scribbled “BAMF” on a nametag, and walked confidently back to his seat. Then, when Gigi was watching, he gave Claire a sloppy, wet kiss.
***
“First elimination challenge is ax throwing!” Angus announced, behind the wheel of a Volkswagen VW bus. “The world’s second-oldest profession.”
Per request, Angus had formed a group out of Winston, Claire, Frank, Gigi, Tai, and Jacky. Now, he was driving them to a deserted field at the base of Mount Pisgah in the Asheville wilderness. Once they arrived, he set up a huge wooden target, then tossed Winston an ax.
“Now you look like a bloke who’s done this before!” Angus remarked.
“Hell, my daddy had to put a lock on the shed,” Winston bragged.
“Winston is, like, totally a wild man when it comes to the outdoors!” Claire chimed in. “I’m, like, super-stoked for him to totally man-handle me in the bedroom.”
The other four cringed at each other. Then, Winston reared back and hurled the ax with two hands, hitting a large ring.
“Three points!” Angus called out. “Claire, think you can conquer this beast?”
Claire stepped forward and grabbed an ax. As a former high school cheerleader, she hid some muscles under her small frame. But what surprised everybody was how she tossed hers one-handed. She hit an inner ring: a five-pointer.
“This, like, ain’t my first rodeo, cowboy!” Claire teased. She brazenly grabbed another ax and under-handed it to Gigi. She yelped, but Frank stepped in and caught it.
“My stars!” he said to Claire. “A woman so supple, yet so brazen around the edges. A fine mistress you doth make!”
Winston walked over to Gigi and gave her a puzzled look. “In the words of Richard III,” he began. “It looks Frank would trade his kingdom for a whore.”
“Um...since when have you started dabbling in Old English plays?” Gigi asked, a bit uneasy.
“Looks like you don’t know me much at all yourself.”
Gigi blushed, either enraged or embarrassed. She left him to stand next to her boyfriend. Then, Frank performed a one-handed throw, landing an inner ring.
“Five points for Shakespeare!” Angus cheered. “Let’s see if Miss Hathaway can cut the mustard.”
Before Frank handed Gigi the ax, she was already tense. He helped her hold it with two hands in a beginner’s stance. “But soft!” he said, as Gigi took aim. “Plant it straight in the heart! Just like I shall soon plant my seed in your womb.”
Flustered and distracted, she heaved the ax for an outer ring.
“Oi, only one point,” Angus declared. “Better hope our last two competitors think off target!”
Jacky grabbed an ax and faced Gigi. “Bro, your boyfriend’s a perv. And so is that chick.”
Jacky pointed straight at Claire. She giggled obnoxiously, flicking her long blonde hair. Jacky rolled his eyes. “God, please bring this lost sheep home,” he quietly prayed. He flung it from over the shoulder, missing the target completely.
“Ah, I can tell you’re fancy a boomerang by the way you throw that bugger!” Angus chuckled. “Our first elimination. Last one, come on down!”
Before Tai could grab his ax, Gigi pulled him aside. “Um, as your fellow wing-woman,” she started, “I suggest you launch the caveman hunting apparatus into the margins for the express purpose of aborting and creating a more intimate scenario with your beloved wave rider.”
Now Tai had grown a little closer with Gigi ever since she matched him up with Jacky. But all he could muster was a blank stare. Gigi leaned in closer. “Lose on purpose so you can be alone with him!” she hissed.
“Oh, got it,” Tai whispered back. “Hey, Gigi? Do ya think I can borrow your room for a bit? There’s no way Jacky can find out I live in a flooded swamp.”
Suddenly, Jacky’s ax boomerang came twirling back around, heading straight for Tai. He jumped to the side with a shriek, watching the ax fly into a tree. “Righteous!” Jacky cheered, running back to fetch it. So with that in mind, Tai took aim and tossed his ax boomerang-style. As intended, it went flying far and wide past the target.
“And Tai and Jacky have been eliminated!” Angus declared. “That means the rest of ya advance to our next challenge. And an impressive performance from the blonde bombshell and Italian stallion, I might add.”
Claire walked up to Frank and slapped his ass. “Looks like we pervs, like, totally got it going on!”
Winston and Gigi stared at each other in shock. But before they knew it, Tai’s ax boomerang came soaring back, nailing the side of Angus’ Volkswagen.
***
“FIX THE FUCKING AC,” growled Evelyn the RA in a low, demonic voice. “I WILL BURN THIS MOTHERFUCKER TO THE GROUND.”
In Sarah and Gigi’s room, Tai and Jacky had taken shelter from this emo demon, who was now stomping up and down the hallway. Sure enough, the AC was broken again. And after Tai had escorted Jacky up seven flights of stairs to “his” room, they’d found it virtually impossible to stop sweating.
“So let’s dive into Genesis 5 where we left off,” Jacky suggested, as they sat together on the futon. “It’s a little gnarly since it’s all genealogy. We’ll have to quiz each other when we’re done so we make sure we got it down pat!”
Jacky cracked open the bible, just as Evelyn screamed from the hallway. They rushed to the door and peeked out. Evelyn had let down her jet-black hair and had smeared mascara on her, sweating pale face. She locked eyes with the two young men. “WHAT THE FUCK ARE YOU DOING HERE?” the demon within her tremored.
They quickly shut the door and got back to their bible study. “Well...anyway, this is the written account of Adam’s family line,” Jacky read. “Basically, this is gonna be a righteous heck-ton of funky names to remember. My youth pastor showed me an easy way to memorize them, where-”
Death metal blared in the hallway. Over the heavy muted guitar and the rapid-fire double bass, Evelyn released a primal roar.
“So yeah, an easy way to memorize the names is word association!” the sweating Jacky yelled over the screeching guitar solo. “For example, take Adam and Seth, who-”
“EVERYBODY BREAK SHIT,” Evelyn screamed, as the deafening breakdown began. Tai rushed to the door and peeked out again. This time, she was breaking off a long fluorescent light tube from the ceiling. Several of her female hallmates observed like visitors at a zoo. Evelyn reared back and smashed the wall, shattering the light into pieces.
“All right, bro,” Jacky finally sighed, shutting the bible and standing up. “Look, let’s just go to your actual room.”
“W-what?” Tai stuttered, closing the door.
“Come on brochacho,” Jacky said, slicking back his long blonde hair. “You think I didn’t catch on? There are the female girls in the hallway with the female devil incarnate. Not to mention the…dreadful taste in bedroom decor in whoever’s room this is. Come on, man. I wanna see the real you.”
They stared into each other's' cool grey eyes. Finally, Tai nodded and reached out to shake on it. Instead, Jacky held his hand and interlocked his fingers. They sneaked out into the hallway, and Jacky led the way to Tai’s room.
“H-how do you know where we’re going?” Tai asked.
“I’m your mailman,” Jacky answered, giving his hand a squeeze. “I know a lot more about you than you think. Heck, don’t even get me started on your roommate’s male enhancement subscription.”
As they descended the stairs, a herd of female students tried to restrain the spawn of Satan in the hall.
***
“Next up is the zip-line races!” Angus announced.
He drove the four competitors deep into the Pisgah National Forest with the ax still lodged in the van. He slowed to a stop in a green, tranquil meadow where sunlight peeked through the treetops. There, two huge zip-lines ran from the tops of starting platforms, all the way to a platform on the far side of the clearing.
Angus passed out a few safety harnesses, and everyone suited up. “Mine’s, like, a little too big!” Claire whined. “Gigi, you should totally trade with me since you have a tad more cushion for the pushin’! Hey, at least your boobs are smaller than mine! That, like, must be so convenient.”
Gigi ignored her, hooking herself to the lane behind Winston. Claire attached herself to the lane behind Frank. And Angus began the long walk toward the finish line platform. Now out of earshot, both groups began climbing the long rope ladders up to their platforms. Winston purposefully took his time. Halfway up the ladder, Winston stopped and looked down at Gigi.
“Hey, I know I’m being stubborn,” Winston said. “But I really wanna talk to you, if you’ll have me. Just give me a chance to explain-"
“She’s a total bitch!” Gigi hissed, surprising even herself. “If you’re dating her, we’re no longer friends.”
Frustrated and torn, Winston sighed. “Right. I reckon actions speak louder than words anyway.” He reached into his shorts pocket and pulled out a mini can of WD-40. Then, he proceeded to spray the shit out of both of their zip-line hooks.
“W-what the hell is wrong with you?” Gigi exclaimed, choking on the fumes.
“WD-40 is God’s lubricant,” Winston explained. “Now we’ll have a little speed boost when we race ‘em. Sorry, buddy, but I need us both to win so we have some alone time to sort things out.”
“You’re being absolutely ridiculous!” Gigi said, flabbergasted.
“I realize that. So I reckon I’ll make you an offer. When it’s me versus you at the finals, I’ll let you win so you get the Lazy Basil gift card. Deal?”
Suddenly, Gigi’s big, brown eyes shot open and her countenance sang a different tune. Lazy Basil was the finest Italian restaurant in all of Asheville - maybe all of North Carolina. And Frank would not be cooking her an Italian dinner until this Friday. After tasting a little bit of chocolate every day to prepare her body for cheese, she could not wait a day longer.
“Pray tell!” Frank suddenly yelled, looking down from his platform at the stragglers. “Art thou stuck on the ladder, Sir Winston? Mayhaps we require usage of a construction crane to haul up your portly frame.”
Winston grunted, then spat on the ground. “So what was that you were saying about my girlfriend being a bitch?” Winston asked Gigi.
Reaching the top of the ladder, Winston and Gigi stepped onto the platform. A perfect view of the bright green hemlock trees of the Pisgah National Forest. From the finish line platform, Angus pumped his fist. “Let’s get these wagon wheels a’rollin’!” his voice echoed across the forest. “Fellas up first!”
Winston made the mistake of looking down at the endless ocean of treetops. Stomach lurching, he closed his eyes and took a deep breath. Then, hands trembling, he moved his greased-up zip-line hook to the starting position.
Gigi tapped his shoulder. “Are you...afraid of heights?” she asked, more like a mother than a caring friend.
A sudden breeze caused their platform to sway ever-so-slightly. Winston hunched over and vomited his morning screwdriver into a nest of endangered birds. He wiped his mouth and looked up at Frank’s shit-eating grin. Winston simultaneously flicked him off while giving Angus a thumbs up.
“Ah, we’ve got ourselves a fighter!” Angus called out. “Ready. Set. Go!”
Winston and Frank kicked off their platforms, soaring over the forest. Sure enough, his WD-40 hack gave him the extra acceleration he needed. He held a clear lead over Frank as Angus’ platform grew closer and closer. Not even Frank’s Italian expletives could stop him.
“Wiiinston wins!” Angus cheered, as Winston whizzed up to the platform. And only a split-second later, Frank came in hot, landing gracefully.
“I underestimated thy aerodynamic stature!” Frank admitted. “Mayhaps I too require an uptick in fine American cuisine, say steak and potatoes?”
Back at the starting line, Gigi grabbed her hook and slid it into a starting position. She looked up at her hands, now slick with grease.
“I’m, like, totally sorry about being so rude earlier,” Claire said, making a pouting face. “Look, if you let me win, you get to leave class early with Frank, and I can have the gift card! And not to be totally awkward, but I think you could, like, have a super-hot figure without that Italian food in your diet.”
Two minutes later.
“Gigi wins!” Angus cheered, as she came careening to the finish line. A split second later, Claire came flying by - seething.
“Like, it’s totally not fair!” Claire cried, stomping her feet. “Gigi, like, totally called me a hashtag raging thundercunt! It, like-like-like-like-like, totally distracted me from the race!” Again, more crocodile tears while Claire buried her face in Winston’s shoulder.
“Woe is me!” Frank cried out, grabbing her shoulders. “Oh, the humanity! Alas, say you did no such thing!”
“There, there,” Winston said nonchalantly, patting Claire’s head like a dog. “I’m sure it ain’t that serious.”
Angus covered his mouth. “Oi, Miss Gigi: did you in fact call Lady Claire a raging thundercunt?”
Gigi politely crossed her hands in front of her waist, her messy black hair cascading over her pale face. And then: a tell-all smile.
“Well, you know we handle potty-mouths in Australia, right?” Angus asked. “We fuckin’ celebrate ‘em! And as for sore losers? We make ‘em walk the plank!”
Angus shoved Claire and Frank off the platform. They screamed until the cable pulled taut, leaving them dangling in midair.
“Congratulations, ya raging thundercunts!” Angus said to Winston and Gigi. “Now off to the finals we go. And doncha’ worry, ya blimey losers. My teaching assistant will come get ya down and give ya a comfy ride straight back to campus!”
Winston and Gigi climbed down the ladder and followed Angus out of the woods, leaving Frank and Claire as dinner for vultures. When the two were alone, Claire kicked off her tennis shoes and stretched out, showing off her flat stomach.
“I, like, always thought I had sex in every possible position!” Claire reflected. “Well, except for the Amazon position, since my fraternity forbids it. Awwwkward! But I’ve, like, totally never had sex in midair. Should we try it, Frank?”
***
It was a manic scene in the 700 Hall of Firewater. Hesitant to get the police involved, Evelyn’s roommates were in the process of summoning a Catholic priest to perform an exorcism. But she was no longer Tai and Jacky’s concern. The muffled screams, crashes, and bangs faded in the distance as the two guys entered the 300 Hall.
“We’re actually...not supposed to be here,” Tai cautioned, placing his hand on the doorknob to his room.
“How come, brotherman?” Jacky asked.
“It’s my roommate: Winston. There’s something in there that he doesn’t want me to know about. And he made me promise to not even let any visitors in our room.”
“So did he get it in writing, with a notary standing by?” Jacky joked.
“Pinky swear,” Tai corrected.
“Far out,” Jacky marveled. “That’s some next-level serious business.” Jacky chuckled, slicking his hair back. “So let me ask this about your roommate: would he rather us be in your room, or his sister’s room?”
Tai froze. Finally, he unlocked the door. “Touché.”
The mildew hit them like a freight train. The mattresses, rug, and futon cushion were all gone. Besides that, Jacky was standing in a typical college dorm. A football schedule and Megan Fox poster on Winston’s side. Video game and anime posters on Tai’s side. A dirty microwave and a mini-fridge, probably filled with light beer and leftover Chinese takeout.
Tai sat on the metal futon frame and patted the spot next to him. “So, what if we used flashcards to memorize some of those biblical names? It’s important for me to - WHAAA-!”
Jacky was frantically searching through Winston’s drawers. “Bingo, my man!” He held up the binder and read the spine. “What’s BDE anyway? Does it stand for big...uh, big-penis energy? Sounds like your roomie has some gnarly ego issues.”
Distracting himself, Tai opened the bible in his trembling hands. “So...uh...there’s Shem...Ham...and Japeth, the three sons of-”
Jacky plopped down next to Tai and opened the binder. “Dude! Do you know what this is?”
Tai looked down at pages upon pages of driver’s licenses in card sleeves. Every race, creed, and gender under the sun. And all featured photos that could pass for any young-looking 21-year-old.
Tai and Jacky had just uncovered Beta Delta Epsilon’s secret fake ID operation. Jacky searched through a few pages, and finally pulled out an ID that could pass for Tai. He removed it from the sleeve and placed it in Tai’s shaking hand. Then, he sat on his lap and held up an ID of a tan white guy with blonde hair. “I don’t wanna talk about Shem and Ham, my dude,” Jacky declared. “I wanna talk about our new legal names: Caleb and Demitri.”
“Ah, now I have an actual black guy’s name,” Tai chuckled, forcing a smirk. Suddenly, he slipped his hand up Jacky’s shirt, feeling his rock-hard abs. “I, uh...so do you want to roleplay...Caleb?”
“Not just roleplay, my dude,” Jacky whispered into Tai’s ear, nuzzling his cheek. “I want to help other people roleplay. Dude! What if we stole these fake ID’s and sold them to every underage student on campus? Think of how freaking righteous that money would be!” Tai’s heart raced as Jacky swung his legs over Tai’s waist, straddling him. Jacky ran his lips from his collarbone to his ear.
“That’s...illegal,” Tai moaned softly. “Not to mention a little ungodly.”
“Maybe so,” Jacky said, nibbling his ear. “But I follow God, not the world. Some people don’t know the difference.
“Caleb” and “Dimitri” rolled off the futon, kissing, biting, and scratching each other until the clothes flew off. And little did they know Evelyn was scouring the 300 Hall with a chef’s knife in her hand, searching for them.
***
“The grand finale!” Angus announced. “The rock climbing wall!”
Angus led Winston and Gigi to a huge rock wall on the face of the Pisgah Mountains. This time, there was no cheat code in the world that would work in Winston’s favor. While his upper-body strength toppled that of Gigi, he was simply hauling a much larger load.
“The rumors are true!” Angus chuckled. “There is a 50-dollar Lazy Basil gift card up for grabs for the first one to reach the top.”
He strapped Winston and Gigi to the climbing cables, then took a step back. The trembling Winston glanced over at the cool, confident Gigi. “It looks like it’s just me and you, buddy,” he said. “So, do ya reckon you can tell me what I can do to make things right?”
“Go, go, go!” Angus suddenly shouted.
Gigi, quick and nimble, jumped straight up and grabbed her first hold. With ease, she began traversing the wall like an orangutan. Winston chugged along, contorting his body in awkward positions just to keep from falling.
“Look, Gigi!” Winston called out. “I hate that it’s like this between us. Man, I just wanna know what I can do. Hell, you can have my purple V-neck shirt that you accidentally stole.”
No response still. She worked swiftly and calmly as she approached the halfway point. Winston caught a lucky break, catching some easy holds as he covered a few feet. But there was no way in hell he could match Gigi’s steady pace. Plus, the higher he got, the higher the screwdriver rose in his throat.
Desperate, Winston reached around with one hand and unstrapped his vest.
“Oi, what the fuck are ya doing, mate?” Angus spat from far down below. Winston slipped out of the vest and pushed it to the side. Now, he was climbing freely. Fear coursed through his veins, but so did adrenaline. He used that stress to heave himself up much faster than before. Gigi, now past the halfway point, looked down to see Winston’s pleading eyes looking up at her.
“Gigi, I’m sorry!” Winston yelled. “Look, I...I can’t honestly tell you that I’m sorry for meeting up with Claire at the house. Because I’m not. But fuck, I’m sorry you had to walk in and see it! And...I’m plum-fuckin’ sorry I didn’t consider your feelings for me at the time. I reckon that ship has sailed. But fuck, I don’t wanna lose our friendship over it, Gigi!”
Gigi smiled at Winston for the first time that day. She shut her eyes tightly, fighting to block the tears. When she opened them again, Winston’s white knuckles curled around a tough hold.
“I’m not sure how long I can hold on, partner,” Winston groaned, smiling weakly. Slowly, piss began running down his leg, trickling a long way down to the ground below. Gigi began quickly backtracking, holding her breath.
“Winston,” Gigi consoled him calmly, now by his side. “I need you...I need you to reach out and hold me. Don’t let me go.”
He took a deep breath, then wrapped his arms around Gigi’s slim waist. His legs dangled free, supported only by her. Breathing heavily, Gigi kicked off the rock facing. Slowly, they began to descend.
“My real name is Ji-hye,” she said, as they approached solid ground.
“Ji-hye,” Winston repeated, his heart pounding as he held her in a death grip. “So, uh...why did you wanna tell me that?”
“Um...because we’re friends again!” she cheered, as they reached the bottom.
But before he could release her, Angus yanked his collar and held a hunting knife to his throat. His hair and face were drenched in Winston’s piss. “Oi, I oughta gut you like a fuckin’ fish, ya blimey bastard!”
“Wait, it’s not his fault!” Gigi interjected. “Um...a yellowjacket got caught between his shirt and vest and stung him pretty bad. He’s allergic, so he had no choice but to take it off!”
Angus cocked his head, letting her words marinate like the piss in his hair. Then, a proper belly laugh. He gave Winston a shove and put the knife away. “Yellowjackets?! Why, you Americans and bonafide pussies, that’s what ya are! Oi, you wouldn’t last a second down unda!”
Angus reached in his pocket and pulled out two 50-dollar Lazy Basil gift cards. “Fuck it, take ‘em both. After all, that was a mighty impressive showing of teamwork up there!”
Winston cleared his throat and held his hand up. “Thanks for the offer, Angus. But I’m a proud conservative. And I don’t need no goddamn participation trophies.”
Gigi socked him in the stomach. “Accept the gift card or we’re no longer friends!” she hissed, salivating over her imminent cheese dream.
***
“YOU HAVE SOMETHING I WANT,” the demon growled in the hallway.
Evelyn slowly dragged her chef’s knife across the door of Room 309 - a knife much larger than Angus’. Tai stared out the peephole, then rushed to the futon to grab his bible.
“We need to perform an exorcism ourselves!” Tai suggested, wearing nothing but bright blue boxers with coconut patterns.
“RIghteous idea, my man!” Jacky replied, donning yellow pineapple briefs. “The word of God is an indispensable weapon during the end times that we live in!”
Tai stared out the peephole again. Now, a senile Evelyn gently tapped the door with the tip of her knife. “Hey, uh, Evelyn,” Tai called out softly. “Why don’t we comb through Genesis together? I sure could use your help in memorizing the lineage of Adam!”
“NO BIBLE. I WILL STRANGLE YOU WITH YOUR INTESTINES!”
Jacky gave a thumbs up from the frame of the futon. “See, it’s working! That’s the devil in her trying to resist. But no man, woman, or spawn of Satan could possibly resist the righteous infallible word of God!”
Tai chuckled, half-nervous and half-relieved. Then, he opened the door halfway. “Welcome to our bible study, Evelyn! So if you would have a seat on our super comfy futon, we can-"
Suddenly, Tai lept behind the door as Evelyn charged through the room with her knife held high. “DIE! DIE! DIE!” she shrieked, heading straight for Jacky. He swiftly rolled under the futon frame, as Evelyn began stabbing through it, aiming for the head.
“Fuck!” Tai screamed, frantically flipping to Genesis 5. “Um, um...let the power of Christ compel you with His holy word! Enoch begat Methuselah, and Methuselah begat Lamech, and Lamech begat Noah!”
“WHY CAN’T I HAVE WHAT YOU HAVE?” Evelyn screamed. While Jacky cowered in a fetal position, she reared back and stabbed a hole in the wall.
“Oh, Evelyyyn?” Sarah Beavers called out, stepping into the room.
Evelyn spun around to face her, tears and mascara running down her face. She dropped the knife. Then, she swiveled her head around the room, dazed and confused.
“Oh...no,” Evelyn whispered in her normal voice. “Sarah, I did something bad, didn’t I?”
“Shush, it’s all gravy,” Sarah assured her, while Tai and Jacky looked at each other in shock. “Boys, let this be a lesson to you. Envy possessed Evelyn today. Not only was she envious of your AC, but also of your totally-rad same-sex relationship.”
Tai and Jacky realized they were still half-naked, and that it was too late to hide it. Evelyn, moaning softly, crawled over to Sarah and lay her head on her lap. Then, she began playing with Sarah’s dangling dreadlocks. “Now, now - no touchy-feely of the genitals,” Sarah politely warned her. “An asexual chick like myself ain’t no lamp in a corner, ya dig?”
Then, Sarah spotted the BDE binder on Tai’s desk. Cocking her head to the side, she slowly stood up to take a closer look.
“Shit,” Tai whispered to Jacky. “What do we do?”
“We can’t let her know about our operation,” Jacky whispered back.
“So, if my inner chi serves me well,” Sarah began, flipping through the pages. “You two plan on stealing Beta Delta Epsilon's fake ID collection from Winston, in a grand scheme to sell them to underage students?”
“What in the H-E-double-hockey-sticks?” Jacky whispered to Tai. “A psychic hippie? What kind of friends are you rolling with, bro?”
“I can hear you,” Sarah advised. She sat down next to Evelyn and slipped out an ID of a brunette hipster girl with straight hair. “It’s a crying shame that Winston didn’t think to include any white girls with dreadlocks. Simple-minded if you ask me. Oh! Evelyn, I found an ID just for you. See, she looks just like the chick from The Ring.”
“I will eat your soul,” Evelyn said in her normal voice. Suddenly, she pinned Sarah down and started tickling the hell out of her.
“Wait, so you’re not mad?” Tai asked Sarah, watching Evelyn win the completely non-sexual “game.”
Sarah caught her breath from her massive tickle-fit. Then, she snapped the binder shut. “Mad? Are you high? I’m a broke college student too. As a matter of fact, if you’re going to be making crazy money, I want in on it too. Evelyn and I both want in. And nobody, I mean nobody, breathes a word of this to my brother.”
***
Nine outgoing calls. Zero incoming calls.
Gigi slipped her phone back into her purse, fighting the urge to make it 10. On that windy night, she stood in downtown Asheville in front of Lazy Basil, waiting for Frank to fall from the sky. She was dressed up in a black polka-dot maxi dress with a white bow in her hair, knowing that she would be turned away for so much as thinking about blue jeans.
She grabbed a menu and read through the appetizers. Tempura Fried Calamari? Maybe. Chunky Spinach and Artichoke Dip? Eh. And then, her big brown eyes widened when she saw it. Caprese salad: fresh buffalo mozzarella topped with local organic tomatoes, balsamic vinegar, and fresh basil leaves from our herb garden.
“So he stood ya up, huh?”
Winston leaned against the streetlight in a black suit and tie. He took a final puff on his cigar, tossed it, then walked over to Gigi to read her menu. And like always, the smell of tobacco was masked by Winston’s signature sandalwood cologne.
“I can’t decide if I want the loaded macaroni and cheese,” Winston pondered, “or the fried cheese logs with marinara. Hey, ya reckon we could order one of each and share?”
Gigi wiped drool from the side of her mouth and came to her senses. “Um...wait, you’re not here for a date with Claire?”
Winston took out his phone and showed her the screen. Sixty-eight outgoing calls. Zero incoming calls. “Reckon I should try to call her one last time?” he asked with a grin. “I mean, I don’t wanna come off like a simp or nothin’.”
Fifteen minutes later, they were seated at a candlelit table for two. While they sipped on large glasses of red Moscato, Gigi explained her lactose intolerance and Frank’s plans to introduce her to cheese for the first time.
“So let me get this straight,” Winston said, leaning in. “You consider this cheating on your boyfriend, don’t you?”
“Um...well, it has nothing to do with you!” Gigi laughed nervously. “It’s...well, it’s cheating if I eat that.”
The waiter came over with a platter of Caprese salad and a refill of red wine. Winston picked up a soft, fluffy cheese disc and tore it in half. “I’m not a betting man. But I wager if your boyfriend wanted to have dinner with you, he’d be the one sitting across from ya.”
Gigi stared into Winston’s pale blue eyes, then at the mozzarella. Slowly, she reached out and placed it on her tongue. Then, she closed her eyes as the creamy, silky flavor graced her palate. She swallowed, then grabbed another, shoving the whole disc in her mouth. Satisfied, Winston pushed the plate toward her. Then, he took out his phone and turned on the camera.
“Here’s to Gigi’s first dairy experience,” he announced, taking a photo. “And, I reckon, the moment before one of her many trips to the bathroom.”
She gasped, tossing her dinner napkin at him. They laughed, garnering the attention of a couple of older, quieter patrons. But Winston and Gigi lived in their own world, sipping refill after refill of wine as she alone cleaned that plate. Before long, the waiter returned with fried mozzarella logs for Winston and loaded macaroni and cheese for Gigi.
“So, all jokes aside,” Gigi started. She leaned forward, the candlelight casting a golden glow on her grinning, pale face. “In your old YouTube days...how long would it take you to eat everything on this table?”
“Son of a bitch!” Winston laughed, dunking a log into his marinara. “I knew my sister told ya about my eating channel! How much of it did you get around to watching?”
“Oh, you don’t want to know!” Gigi giggled, taking her first-ever bite of mac and cheese.
And while the two loyal friends shared stories and cheese dishes, their other friends betrayed loyalty that night. Sarah, Tai, Evelyn, and Jacky used Winston’s fake IDs to bar crawl all over downtown Asheville. And Claire sneaked Frank into the Beta Delta Epsilon frat house, where they rolled in the sheets all night long.
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2020.08.13 02:37 FeelingSketchy The Voyages of Ker'Tak and Skye [Ep. 1]

Episode 1: First Contact (3k words, gunshot wounds and blood are mentioned, written on mobile, first part in a series, might update weekly.)
Ker'Tak's ship had landed on Earth, as ordered by the High Concil of Planets. They were ready and eager to explore this once uninhabited planet..
Or, what they had thought to be an uninhabited planet. Turns out the whole planet was teeming with intelligent life. Humankind, is what they introduced themselves as on an old satellite that the High Council had found.
Ker'Tak was relatively young, so their crewmates sent them out to scout amongst the younger generations of humans. Diguised, of course, to prevent fear amongst the younglings.
Their curiosity was peaked when they heard someone talking of a celebration of one of the younglings.
A "birthday party" celebrating the Human known as Skye Lafayette. Everyone appeared to just be calling her Skye, however.
"You should come, Eric," Human Gia, Skye's twin sister, as Ker'Tak gathered. "Eric" was his cover name, "she'd enjoy your humor!"
"Thank you Gia, I think I will attend," Ker'Tak nodded quietly. They were nervous, needless to say. Human younglings were so energetic, so spontaneous, and much stronger than their adult counterparts.
"Great! The party is Friday!" Gia waved good-bye as she ran off with other human younglings.
Ker'tak waved back, and watched as Gia ran with her pack.
They felt a strange warmth flush up in their face, as if this meeting meant something. These humans were small, insignificant, often useless.
Ker'Tak couldn't and didn't understand why the High Council was so interested in humans and their homeworld after the first reports were sent in.
"Keep observing, Ker'Tak, the younglings will be the ones we learn the most from," Ket'Sa ordered, "Who knows? Maybe these humans have more ability than we give them credit for."
Ker'Tak took that to say the High Council could use them as manual laborers. It seemed they had the ability for such work, and were significantly shorter than the Si'Tians.
Despite what little they knew about humans, however, Ker'Tak felt oddly at home amongst them. The members of their pod always called them strange, emotional, and at times impulsive. They took the insults as compliments and pressed on in their mission.
Friday, October 3rd rolled around and Ker'Tak found himself on the doorstep of Skye and Gia's abode. The loud noises from inside startled Ker'Tak, but they thought for a moment, pausing at the door.
This was a custom of humankind, they should be kind and respectful. They should knock.
They knocked cautiously, patiently waiting for a reply. Ker'Tak was startled by the sudden appearance of an identical youngling to Gia. It was Skye, they were sure of it.
The messy red streak in her hair and the oddly bright expression Skye carried, as Gia described her, caught Ker'Tak by surprise. They put on their best smile.
"Hey, is this were Skye's birthday party is?" Ker'Tak beamed awkwardly. Of course it was, they had made sure of it, but Human Skye took no notice of their fumble.
"Yep! You've got the right place!" She laughed it off, "You must be Eric, Gia told me about you! It's nice to finally meet you! I'm Skye!" Her introduction was quick, and she held out her hand to Ker'Tak.
Ker'Tak, unsure of exactly how to commence the "handshake" took Skye's hand. She shook their hand firmly, with a sort of glowing confidence.
This somehow got Ker'Tak to relax, and smile a little more genuinely.
"My name is Ka- Eric," Ker'Tak was almost caught using their true name. Skye laughed as she invited Ker'Tak in.
"Alright Ke-Eric, come in! We've got plenty of food, games, and a cake that'll be all set in a couple of minutes!" Skye led them in.
The atmosphere of this living-den was rather warm, disarmingly charming in it's own sense. Ker'Tak found themselves relaxing as they ate and talked alongside the crowd.
They laughed with Ker'Tak, telling their own jokes and making fun of silly things humans do. Ker'Tak learned that humans celebrated their dates of birth every year, using that to determine age, instead of every cycle around the sun at the same time each year for everyone.
The oddly decorated cake caught their attention, as it was decorated with symbols and letters from ancient languages Ker'Tak had seen before, and nearly everywhere they turned, something reminiscent of space and interstellar travel seemed to pop from the decor.
You look like a Monkey And you smell like one too!
The songs ended, and Skye blew out candles that signified her age. Kar'Tek went to "use the bathroom." They had no intention of bathing, however.
Unfortunately, the current tech they were using to hide their appearance was running low on charge.
Kar'Tek had to find a reason to return to their ship before their cover was blown.
Gia's voice came from beyond the door.
"Eric? Eric, dude, you alright?" Gia called. Kar'Tek didn't answer as they tried to find something to work with to get away from the party.
"I am alright, just washing up!" Kar'Tek lied. The device around their wrist beeped loudly and the illusion dropped.
No no no no no not now, I have to return to the ship Ker'Tak stared into the mirror, now frightened by what the human younglings could do to them if they found themselves staring Ker'Tak down.
"Eric? Is that a blood sugar monitor? Are you sure you're alright?" Gia didn't give Ker'Tak time to answer, "Skye! Get the bathroom key! Eric's in trouble!"
"Eric?" Skye's voice bounced around the small room, "I'm coming in," Ker'Tak heard a small whisper, "Please be decent."
Skye stepped into the bathroom, closed the door and looked up from the floor. Her jaw dropped as Ker'Tak started to tremble before her.
"Eric?" Her voice dropped a tone as she reached out to Ker'Tak, "Is that you?"
Ker'Tak looked at Skye, and very very cautiously, they answered her.
"Human Eric did not exist, in truth. I am Ker'Tak, a Si'Nian, from far past your star. I was told to come and study humankind, under the orders of the High Council of Planets. I apologize for any inconvenience and any worry I may have caused you, Human Skye," Ker'Tak apologized, trying to keep their gaze to Skye's.
She seemed stunned, but neither fear nor shock was the overall emotion conveyed. It was awe that seemed to etch itself into her features.
"Ker'Tak, that explains earlier..And all those jokes, you were trying to understand," She whispered as her hands moved up toward her mouth, "You...You're incredible."
Ker'Tak was taken aback by this remark. Ker'tak was below average for their species, and this human youngling saw them as incredible?
"I believe you are mistake, Human Skye, I am below average for my kind, in height and emotional control. I am, as my colleges say, impulsive," Ker'Tak admitted ashamed.
"Impulsive isn't a bad thing, nor is being emotional," Skye started almost immediately, "You're incredible to me, and you would be to my friends."
"I do not believe your colleagues would appreiciate my being here, especially after I have disrupted such a special day for you and your pod-mate," Ker'Tak was still nervous, although Skye was a progressive and uniquely brave human youngling, they couldn't be sure of the other's reactions.
"Well, Ker'Tak, I can frame this as a planned part of the event, I am a sci-fi nerd. I can get you out of the house as long as you can stay a little longer. Are you in any pain?" Skye was concerned, it was showing in her expression.
Pain? Why would she be worried about pain? Does she really not know what Ker'Tak was capable of? Why was she being so kind to them?
"Ah, no, I am not in any pain Human Skye, I simply used an device that manipulated the light around me," Ker'Tak reassured her, still unsure of how to proceed, "I can stay longer, but how do you plan to get me out of your living-den?"
"Oh, I can tell them that you're in cosplay-" Skye paused, "we humans like to wear complicated outfits for the sake of fun, some of us mirror TV shows or fictional characters we enjoy, others come up with entirely new ideas and use them to create a series of costumes in order to tell a story."
"This plan involves telling your colleagues that I am in "cosplay"? Does that mean anything significant to them normally?" Ker'Tak inquired, rather confused as to how this plan could work.
"No, not normally, but they'll think it a nice touch to the space theme I've had going for this party, not much of it's accurate though, based mostly on science fiction," Skye admitted, halfway between her normal hue of peach and a bright red.
Ker'Tak nodded, understanding what she meant, and what she was trying to do.
"I am not insulted, in fact, it's rather curious how humans managed to invent the exact same language as another race we know as the Shin'Khan. But that is a discussion for another time," Ker'Tak let their worries lighten, maybe Human Skye was right to come up with such a simple plan, after all, she knew her kind better than they did.
"So you're willing to go through with the plan?" Skye asked and Ker'Tak nodded,patiently awaiting her instructions, "Ok, just, act ummm, I wouldn't say natural, but honestly just be yourself."
That was it? That was the plan? Ker'Tak nodded, now slightly concerned in Skye's certainty for saying these things, but they went along with it anyway.
"Skye? Is Eric alright?" Gia called to her sister.
"Yes! He's alright! In fact," Skye started to open the door, "Oh move out of the way!" Gia laughed as the crowd parted to give them room to step out of the bathroom.
Ker'Tak was hesitant, but the stepped out of the bathroom and awaited the reactions of Skye's peers.
The gasps of awe got Ker'Tak to open their eyes, and the younglings cheered and laughed.
"Eric! Skye! This is amazing! How did you get the costume in? And look that that makeup, it's amazing! You guys out did yourselves!" Gia laughed, "It looks so real."
Ker'Tak felt a wave of anxiety wash over them as Skye took one of their lower hands. She mouthed the words "It's ok. You'll be okay."
They nodded, and proceeded to continue the act of being Human Eric.
They proceeded to mess around with younglings, too, tapping them here and there as the festivities went on without a hitch.
Ker'Tak fell into the comfort of being themselves amongst the human younglings, but they choose to linger close to Skye. They didn't know it at the time, but that sense of security meant something significant to their species.
It meant that they could be accepted, and accept humans, as they were.
Towards the end of the evening, around 2000 hours, everyone had been dismissed from the gathering except for Ker'Tak.
"Hey Eric, I can walk you home if you want," Skye offered to escort them out of her living-den, most likely to protect them from any hostile humans.
"I would appreciate that, Skye," Ker'Tak walked towards the door and opened it for Skye.
Walking down the dim street, Ker'Tak found themselves distressed, looking down at Human Skye more and more often.
"Human Skye, if my crewmates discover that I have been seen like this, they may try to eradicate your memory of me," Ker'Tak admitted upon pausing under a street light.
Skye looked back at them, and smiled.
"I'm ok with that, I just want to make sure you get back alright. You've given me one of the best days of my life, Ker'Tak, and I hope to one day repay the favor, even if I don't remember you," Skye was kind in her response, but also greatly saddened by the fact that she would forget Ker'Tak.
They were truly remarkable to her, even if she knew very little about them. She found their way of speaking, their way of conveying emotion to be unique, and as powerful as any human expression of emotion.
Ker'Tak's distress grew as they saw Skye's eyes start leaking water.
"Human Skye, are you in distress? I did not mean to upset you!" Ker'Tak panicked a little, reaching out to the youngling, "You do not have to repay me, and I doubt that you will ever see me again after tonight."
"That's just the thing," Skye mumbled through her tightened throat, "I want to remember you, and get to know you better. It would be selfish though, not to take you back to your ship."
Ker'Tak was taken aback by this. They knew humans bonded easily to other animals, like the wolves and bobcats of the Earth, but to have "pack" bonded to them.. So quickly.. It was remarkable. The High Council certainly could not take such a bond away, not until they could study it further.
"It is possible you won't have to forget, Human Skye," Ker'Tak started, gingerly taking up Skye in their arms, "I could bring you back to the ship, and explain to them the events of tonight, and how you aided me to escape."
Skye sniffed halfheartedly taking up Ker'Tak's lower arms. Quietly she nodded.
"Lead the way."
Ker'Tak and Skye walked together quite a ways into the woods to get to Ker'Tak's ship. However, it is always hunting season in the backwoods.. Especially at night.
A gunshot was fired toward the two, and Skye let out a yelp of pain. Ker'Tak flinched, and in ducking behind an old wall in found just nearby, they saw Skye stumbling over. Something was dripping down her arm and chest.
"Ker'Tak..." The weakness in Skye's voice brought panic upon Ker'Tak. They debated the use of their comm, it would make sense as someone was hurt, badly by the looks of it.
Ker'Tak lept over, their legs moving springing them forward enough to catch Skye and get back out of the line of fire behind another wall.
"KER'TAK, WE'RE BEAMING YOU BACK UP IMMEDIATELY" Their Captain told them, and they were beamed back aboard the ship, Skye still wounded in their arms.
The wounded youngling let out a sharp cry, crying weakly as she struggled to breathe.
"OUT OF THE WAY! CLEAR THE WAY! WOUNDED HUMAN!" Ker'Tak landed with a running start, brushing past the Captain and rushed toward the medbay.
Immediately the Captain followed them, and watched as Ker'Tak worked to heal Skye's wound.
"Ker'Tak, my lung, the bullet's in..." Skye's vocals broke off into violent coughing as Ker'Tak managed to pull out the metal shrapnel in her side.
"Rest, and do try and hold still. This will hurt," Ker'Tak told Skye and she nodded. The sheer anguish on her face as they stitched up her lung and her skin almost got Ker'Tak to stop.
But they stitched her up and injected a growth steroid to speed up the process and avoid scarring. She would need to stay overnight, for safety's sakes.
"Ker'Tak, this human was harmed how?" The Captain asked as Ker'Tak closed the pod Skye was in.
"Another Human shot her with a primitive gunpowder weapon. Originally the weapon was aimed toward me," Ker'Tak admitted, "Human Skye was escorting me back to the ship after my disguise was dropped."
The Captain stiffened as they looked over at Human Skye.
"She's seen too much of us, you know we have to preform a memory wipe," The Captain began. Ker'Tak stopped them.
"Captain, Human Skye has expressed much discomfort in losing memories with myself involved. She is comfortable with us, in fact, she and her peers were very comfortable with me in my original form, even if they believed it to be a disguise," Ker'Tak looked over at Skye, "She saved my life."
"She...You called her Human Skye?" The Captain's expression dropped to a painful concern.
"Yes Captain," Ker'Tak nodded as the Captain looked them over.
"Well, Ker'Tak, it is time we contacted the Humans openly. Your comfort amongst them and their younglings confirms not only their intelligence and sympathy, but also their compatibility for the High Council's regulations and recommendations," The Captain smiled at Ker'Tak, "Well done, Doctor."
"Well done?" Ker'Tak asked, befuddled by their captain's sudden congratulations, "What do you mean?"
"I mean congratulations, you have offical made First Contact with the Humans, according to their knowledge. As of this moment, they will become a part of the High Council of Planets, join their fleets, learn from us as we may learn from them," The Captain spoke boldly, "You have introduced an entire species to an endless Universe."
Ker'Tak paused for a moment, then looked back at their Captain.
"Thank you, Captain, but I do believe I should take care of my patient first, before we send our official reguards," Ker'Tak nodded.
The Captain allowed it, so Ker'Tak took a uniquely close care of Skye that evening, talking to her about the many ways things were about to change.
"Does this mean I won't have to forget you?" Skye asked as 0800 hours rolled around. Ker'Tak nodded, which caused Skye to smile.
"You will not have to forget me, or anything else about last night's events, or today's, or tomorrow's. In fact, if anything, we may be working together from here forward, Human Skye," Ker'Tak tried to wrap their mind around it, working with a human female, "Even if you are deemed a weak, useless human female, I like to entertain the thought of working alongside you."
Skye smiled, trying to not give show as to how harshly that last remark came off.
"That's good, Ker'Tak, I'd like to think that of you as well."
They started talking as the world became captivated by the starship and the arrival of the Si'Nians on Earth.
Everyone wanted to talk to the girl who had saved and alien, and all across the galaxy, everyone wanted to see what the doctor had discovered in the human race that made them decide it was time to reveal what was really out there.
And here the two were, sitting in the medbay of the starship, mid-afternoon, talking to each other as the bright rays of daylight filtered through the window.
This was going to be an exciting ride.
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2020.08.08 17:46 Tokofukawaparenta Here my fanfiction

Sho and I don’t share memories but the boy we both date is nice and we love him with all are all , his name is Korekiyo Shinguji and he the ultimate anthropologist and he was a very smart boy and we would always love to cuddle and read books
“Side by side we lie, happy in each other’s grasp”
His long dark hair dances in the gentle breeze entering the room. The light catches his it. face perfectly, showing only the most beautiful person in this world. He wears that mask for personal reasons he says. How I'd love for him to remove that mask only for me, to take me in his loving arms, to kiss me passionately before he-
“Tending our together, never ever ticking hands Yet my mending heart, safely placed inside your arms”
"Toko Fukawa! Pay attention!" The teacher's voice brings me back into reality.
staring at me now. They'll talk about this behind my back, won't they? They'll despise me for all eternity.I'm such a pathetic girl. I'm sure he hates me too. He probably slanders my name with all the others.
“Shakes and says it can’t accept that gentle happiness”
After class now, another day wasted. I leave as quickly as possible, no club, no activities. Maybe if I go now they won't catch me. My dreams are proved futile as they surround me. The bullies taunt me, as usual. They hit me, as usual. One of them grabs my arm and attempts to push me down the stairs, as usual.
“Ah… Ah, like a vacant sky recovered to be covered with a hole”
However, I don't fall, he saves me. Without a word he runs away, dragging me along with him, never letting go. It's a scenario I could only dream of in one of my novels. We run until we are far away from the school, in a small alleyway, where no one can find us.
“Both my defenseless core and empty form resemble such an air”
"I-I'm fine, thanks for asking." I did it. I made a complete sentence and managed to say it out loud to him. It's not that big of an achievement to be honest. "Why did you help me?" I don't expect anything from him, it's the most anyone has ever done for me, and I need to repay the debt somehow. Maybe even with my body.
“Where they’re contorted and distorted, cut with cuts that never close”
"Hmm, I don't feel Fukawa breathe on my back like I normally do.'I flutter open my eyes from the light sleep was in. They eyes direct to the alarm clock on my nightstand. '3:25 A.M.' Suddenly I grow confused, I roll over to lay on my other side. 'Well... no Fukawa I guess. Wait.'I hear pieces of something sharp clashing together, then I notice a dark figure at the end of my bed. The figure facing away, holding something in its hands, that's where the noise is coming from. 'The hell?' I reach for my mask and put them on, "Fukawa..?" I say very hesitantly, she turns around. 'Oh. Shit.' "Hehehe, sorry my dear , I didn't mean to wake ya~ I was just sharpening my babies making them nice and perrty- for you!" Genocider syo
“Who is that staring back at me…?*”
Sometimes I forget about everything cause of sho like sleeping with him
“You two are always s-so lewd,” Toko snapped, pulling the blanket with her to wrap around herself and search for clothes. She grabbed her glasses from beside the bed, then recoiled in horror as soon as she was able to fully see him.
“Please leave me bleeding lovesick for the sickest sort of love”
“Love-making?!” Toko gasped, utterly shocked that he’d use such a term to describe anything that could leave marks like that. She may have been a masochist herself,
“On edge, I bet “enough”** can’t be enough to hold me up”
“Have a good day, I’ll use the washroom, then see myself out,” Korekiyo stretched, rolling some of the soreness out of his shoulders. He may suggest they bind his wrists in a different location next time. “Love isn’t always pretty, you know?”
“No, it just keeps me hurting…”
"I saw you in need and I couldn't help but reach out to you.When I met your gaze for the first time last week, could see right through your lies.You were smiling even though you had such mournful eyes.I wanted to protect you, and see your smile, not your tears."
“Still, your gentle ways fill my heart and make me wish We could stay like this for forever and a day”
I walk out of my room and start walking to the pool and go in the girls locker room and walk to the door that leads to the pool.I go to one of the chairs and put my stuff on the chair.I sit down on the edge of the pool and undo my braids. I touch all of my scars on my leg. Then I get pushed in the pool and hear a splash.I swim up and see Korekiyo laughing at me. I laugh back mockingly and splash him. He laughs and hugs me.
“All the while my heart, set to set intent apart Panics and forbids that bit of modest happiness”
the anthropologist from the year below, was interested in her. She was undoubtedly beautiful, but she possessed certain traits that made her desirable. She was shy but kind-hearted, a helpless romantic. She would make a fine friend for his sister
“Hideously twisting with a feeling Can’t ignore the horrors that I’ve seen Bandage and manage, yeah I’m trying”
'You know, I think you're a wonderful girl. I would like to kiss you, if that's ok.' 'I would love that, Shinguuji.' She had always dreamed of her first kiss, and this wasn't how she'd imagined it, but this was fine too. 'Not here though, I only want you to see me under the mask. You're the only one I trust. Let's find somewhere quiet, if you're fine with that.' She was, obviously, so he took her to a dark alleyway, a favourite spot of his. He then removed a knife from his pocket
“But the cuts stick to my skin time after time Are they even mine…?”
I feel a sharp pain in my chest. He grins at me, with psychotic eyes, "Did you really believe that I would love you? You piqued my interest, that is all.There is only one person I would ever love, and soon you'll be one of her friends in heaven." Ah-I knew it. Betrayed again. Well, it seems to be time for a wretch like me to leave this cruel world. I look down at my chest, and the sight of blood causes me to faint. The last thing I hear is his laughter.
“Please only loan me kisses if your lips are dressed in red”
I feel pain all over my chest and it's so unbearable I start crying uncontrollably. Blood gushing out of my body and I was now all alone In the dark
“I need a break, a breaking substitute to live instead”
Fukawa felt dizzy He pulled my braid as hard as he could, making me yelp I felt it break the skin, my heart speeding up. I let out a scream,
“Please leave me bleeding lovesick for the sickest sort of love”
I had stopped sobbing, but still had tears running down my face. He could tell that I was still conscious because every now and again i would twitch or cry out. But for some reason I still love him even though he killed me
“That kind of kind, I know it shows how broken I’ve become”
Yes, it’s why I’ll be lonely
For life…
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2020.08.03 19:54 flintroseline Chapter 1 Hi5 Couples

So let me get this straight, you and Sierra are dating asked, Rose? CJ smacks Sierra’s ass. Her ass jiggles and she smiles. Does that answer your question. Everyone is Surprised. Sierra gets to her desk and turns on her computer. So how long have you been dating, asked Sam? Sierra turns around in her chair. We have been dating for three months. Dam how did we not know said Tanner? Well we kept it quiet for a little but we are now open about it, said CJ. Yeah obviously Rose said. I got a Dope or Nope shoot to get to said Tanner. See you later, Tanner said Sam. I have a meeting with Michael said Rose.
Woods and Sam are standing on the other side of the desk of where Sierra is sitting. Woods, Sam and Sierra chatting about life. Sam is wearing a knee high black and white polka dotted dress with gray legging. Woods moves closer to Sam and he shakes his hand down her legging to her pussy. He puts in a mobile vibrator in Sam's pussy. Sam doesn’t flinch. Woods pulls his phone out. He goes into the app. When Sam sees that she tries to leave. Okay well I have work to do Sam says as she is leaving. Sam gets three steps up the stairs. Woods then turns the vibrator on the highest level. Sam then squeals and clutches the stair railing and stops. Sierra sees Sam and walks in concern to Sam. Are you alright asked Sierra? Woods laughs quietly at the desk and turns it off. Yeah I’m fine I thought I saw a spider. Okay then said Sierra. Sam gets to the second flight of stairs and pulls her phone out and texts Woods Fuck you with a kissing emoji. Sierra sits down in her chair. Woods leaves.
During the lunch break Sierra brought her own lunch and CJ went out to get lunch. He comes back five minutes later. He sits in the parking lot and texts Sierra. Hey come to my car with a heart said CJ when he texted Sierra. Okay babe Sierra texted back. She gets in his car and they drive off to the back of a closed building. Sierra takes her shirt off and gets on top of CJ. They start making out for five minutes. During that, CJ takes off her bra and lets Sierra’s big b size tits out. Sierra pulls away and takes off CJ’s shirt. Sierra flips over to her seat and pushes the seat all the way flat. She Jesters to CJ to get on top of her.
While CJ is taking off his seat belt Sierra takes off her leggings and panties. CJ pulls off his pants and boxers. CJ gets on top of Sierra. She pulls CJ's head in and they start making out again. CJ stops kissing Sierra. He then puts his index finger in her mouth then slides his hand down her body to her pussy. He then puts his index finger in Sierra’s pussy. She squeals in pleasure. CJ slowly slides his finger in and out of her pussy, she moans sensuality. CJ tries to go back to kissing but Sierra's mouth is gaping open. After a minute of CJ penetrating Sierra’s pussy with his finger, he puts his penis in her. Sierra moans louder. CJ speeds up and makes the car move. Everytime CJ slams his cock into Sierra she moans louder and louder. CJ speeds up.
While CJ and Sierra are occupied with each other a police car rolls up. The cop starts his siren and turns on his lights. CJ and Sierra freak out and try to get clothes on. The cop jumps out of his car and runs to their car. He gets to their car and shines a flashlight on both of them. CJ has a shirt on in the driver seat and Sierra is trying to put on a bra in the passenger seat. They both freeze. The officer knocks on the driver window. CJ rolls the window down and has his head down. Get your clothes on and step out of the car, said the Officer.
CJ and Sierra get their clothes and stand in front of the police car. Okay who owns the car asked the cop? I own the car officer, said CJ. Okay. You are both going to be arrested for dissolute conduct. The cop puts a cuff on his ram bar and Sierra so he can arrest CJ. While CJ is getting arrested and put in the police car, Sierra is pleading with the officer to not arrest them. Once CJ is put in the car, Sierra says that she will do anything not to get arrested. Cop pauses. So anything? Sierra is almost in tears. Yes anything. The cop comes around to the back of Sierra and lifts up her dress. She turns around and squats down to her knees and starts undoing the cops belt and pants with one hand. She gets his cock out and starts giving him a blowjob.
While Sierra has the officer's cock in her mouth, the cop is staring at CJ with a confident face. A few seconds later the cop cums in Sierra’s mouth. Before Sierra could blink the cop pulls her up and bends her over the police car hood. He then pulls her dress up and puts his cock in her pussy. Sierra got surprised by how fast the cop put his cock in her and her jaw drops. He speeds up. Sierra drops her mouth and the cop’s cum is falling out. The cop is seeing his cum fall out of her mouth and then looks at CJ. CJ is mad but he can’t do anything. The cop is going super fast. Sierra is hating it and quickly shuts her mouth.
The cop pulls out a little too far and then slams his cock in her ass. Sierra ass is tight. The cop doesn’t care and slams his cock in her. Sierra’s screams in pain and she is infuriated. A few minutes later after the cop is slamming her in the ass the cop turns her around and pushes her to her knees and then cums on Sierra's face. The cop puts his cock back in his pants and then uncuffs Sierra from the ram bar. The cop walks over to CJ and uncuffs him and then drives away. Sierra cleans her face off. You okay asked CJ? Yeah his dick was small so it didn’t really do anything. CJ grins and then gets in the car and they go back to the offices.
Tanner is getting back from lunch and is going up the stairs in blue base to meet with Michael. Tanner walks into their Dope or Nope set where Micheal is. Hey Micheal for tomorrow's shoot did we ever get that book asked Tanner? No, the post office said it was lost in Texas for some reason. That’s odd. Why in Texas? Dude, do I look like the post office Michael said in a mocking but funny way. True, okay then Tanner said laughing a little. Tanner walks out of the Dope or Nope set. Okay see ya later said Micheal. See ya. Matt shuts his door for a meeting. Sam noticed and got up from her desk to run into Tanner. Tanner gets to the stairs and Sam is right behind him. She taps on his shoulder. He turns around. Sam winks at him and then she bends over to whisper follow me.
Sam walks in front of him and guides him to some props for a prop hunt video. There is a couch, washing machine and a stove in a circle in the corner with all the backs facing each other. Sitting on top of the three props is a big box that covers the opening on the backs facing each other. Sierra is seated at her desk with her headphones on. Sam walks to the washing machine which is in the back facing the corner. She climbs in the front of the washing machine. I have to get in there, Tanner said to himself.
As he walks past the bathrooms Woods walks out. Hey man woods says. Sup how is your day doing, asked Tanner? It’s alright. It's a Monday, Woods said with an exhausted tone. How is your day? It's going to be better said Tanner as he looks over at the props in the corner. Woods looked confused but then he figured out what he meant. Okay well you go have fun Woods said trying to say like nothing is going to happen. Tanner heads to the props and Woods goes back to his desk.
Tanner gets to the washing machine entrance and makes sure the coast is clear. It is and Tanner slips in. When he gets in Sam is laying on her stomach with her stockings and panties off and her dress is pulled up with a full view of her pussy and ass. Sam is laying with her feet towards the washing machine and her top half is in towards the coach. Tanner opens the washer door to see Sam is on her phone with her legs spread. Tanner neals on the floor so it's hard for anyone to see him.
He gets hard and undoes his pants and pulls his cock out. Tanner then slides in. Tanner goes over the top of Sam. Once he gets all the way in he shuts the door. Tanner puts his cock at Sam's pussy lips. Sam jumps a little when she feels his cock at her pussy. Sam puts her phone down and flips around so her and Tanner are face to face. It's a little hot in here said Sam seductively. Sam slides her dress off and puts it over with her other clothes. Can you help with my bra? Sam then flips to where she is on her front. Tanner with one hand undoes her bra. You did that with one hand asked Sam. Yeah I did, Tanner said confidently.
Sam then flipped to her back. Sexy then she winks. Alright enough talking said Tanner. Tanner leans down to make out. They start getting frisky after a few minutes. Sam pulls away and sticks two of her fingers in her mouth. She swirls her tongue around her fingers so they are nice and dripping wet. Sam then takes her fingers out of her mouth and then puts them into her pussy and starts fingering herself. After a few seconds of Sam fingering herself and moaning quietly she reaches for Tanner’s cock and puts it at her pussy lips. Sam and Tanner make eye contact while Tanner slides his cock into Sam.
He goes in slow so Sam can feel all of his cock. Sam is enjoying every inch of Tanner’s cock going in and out of her. Tanner speeds up fast. Sam is trying to stay quiet but she is convulsing in pleasure. Her eyes are rolled in the back of her head and her jaw is wide open moaning softly. A few thrusts later Tanner found Sam's G spot. Sam yelps loudly.
They both freeze. Tanner can feel Sam's heartbeat through her pussy, that's how frozen they are. They hear footsteps. Sam's phone is right next to her head. A text message pops ups. Tanner looks at it. The text is from Woods saying I got you covered. They hear more footsteps. Hey woods what was that noise? Sorry Matt it was me. Damn what did you do? I almost fell over on some nerf guns said Woods. Okay then dude Matt says while chuckling. Matt leaves.
Woods texts a few seconds later says the coast is clear. Thanks Woods, Sam texts. Then she takes a picture of her. The picture is from her tits to her face smiling and winking. Sam's nipples are hard and so nicely round when she is laying down. Woods texts back with a winking face emoji. Woods goes back to his desk. Tanner didn’t move. He goes back to slamming Sams g spot. Sam has to cover her mouth so she doesn’t moan loudly. Sam's eyes rolled in the back of her head out of pleasure. She can’t keep still because she keeps convulsing when Tanner slams his cock to her g spot. A few seconds later Sam starts to seizure out of pleasure. Tanner pulls his cock and fingering her faster then he could slam his cock in her.
Sam squeezes Tanner's arm. Sam squeals for a few seconds then rapidly sits up and squirts out an ounce of cum out of her pussy. Tanner had to cover Sam's pussy from shooting all over the place. Once Sam stopped shooting cum she fell back and passed out. A few seconds later she wakes up. I’m inside vibrating said Sam. Tanner smiles. We have to leave, said Tanner. Okay, help me with my clothes, asked Sam? Tanner helps Sam and they get out of the box’s and leave.
submitted by flintroseline to Hi5Girls [link] [comments]


2020.07.29 06:45 craiggroshek RIP Ellen

Paige watched with wide eyes as her friend was ushered into a cage with iron bars jagged with rust.
An iron arm swung the cage over the edge of the filthy fishing boat.
Paige pressed her hands together, her eyes welling with panic.
”No, please!” she pleaded. “She doesn’t have that much money. Let’s just forget about all this, please!”
The one burly man next to the crank that raised and lowered the cage shot her a look that clearly indicated how much he didn’t care about what Paige thought of the whole affair.
“Please just let her out! Just let us go!”
“Lady,” the man snarled, “you’re not the one that financed this little expedition so you’re not the one we’re taking orders from.”
Just as Paige started up with more mewling, the man hit a release next to the crank and the cage plummeted into the waves with a splash, her friend Ellen grasping the bars from the inside. Paige yelped. The chain reached its end and became taut, throbbing like a heartbeat.
Paige took a few urgent steps toward the crank operator, but two other brutish men with short necks and broad shoulders blocked her.
“You don’t listen too good,” they grunted. Paige imagined her friend screaming, struggling, panicking. Bubbles were rising from where the cage hung in the depths.
After a dreadfully long time, it was pulled up out of the water. Ellen’s wetsuit-clad body was revealed. She slid her mask and her breathing apparatus off her face and she pumped her fists in the air with a loud whoop!
Paige shaped a steeple over her nose with her fingers as she shook her head.
“Paige, Paige... I got pictures!” Ellen yelled as she held up a large waterproof camera. Paige wouldn’t even look at her.
“So how many do you think you saw?” asked the crank operator with folded arms. Excitement radiated from Ellen’s face.
“Oh, God. I don’t know. Probably six or more?”
The man nodded and shifted his fat cigar to the other side of his face.
“So that means it was a successful dive. That plus the camera rental is going to put you at about four grand.”
Ellen stepped out of the cage and handed the waterproof camera off to one of the men.
“We’ll get these uploaded and give you a code so you can access them.”
Ellen shot the men two thumbs up. She turned to Paige and gave her the same gesture. Paige just glared.
“If it’s all the same to you ladies, we’re heading back to shore,” said the crank operator.
* * * * * *
“Four thousand dollars, Ellen. Four-freaking-thousand dollars.”
“I know, isn’t it a steal?” Ellen exclaimed.
“You can’t afford that much. You could barely afford the money that got you out here.”
“Well, yeah, but you’re not exactly made of money either, and yet here you are.”
The boat they had just been on motored off into the fog.
“That wasn’t even an actual diving boat.”
“Paigey-Paige-Paige, anything else would have been much more expensive. Last I checked, a fishing boat floats just as good as any other.”
“And that diving cage. I swear to God, some of those bars looked completely rotten. May as well have shielded yourself from those sharks with a garbage can lid.”
“That only adds to the thrill of it.”
Ellen slung her bulky diving gear over one shoulder. Paige didn’t know how that slender little woman had so much strength. Any average day, Ellen Morgan looked like a mosquito with sky blue eyes and very short blonde hair.
Ellen wasted no time in adding the pictures from her dive to her social media. Horrible “fish-eye” perspective shots of shark noses, shark eyes, and shark teeth, like the animals had been looking into a funhouse mirror.
Paige’s inbox filled up with private messages from Ellen’s friends and family. None of them had anything good to say about her practically tongue-kissing the wildlife.
“What were the bars of that cage made from? Waffle cone?”
“You are keeping an eye on her… right?”
“I thought you said you were going to talk some sense into her.”
That was something Paige indeed said she could and would do… when she thought that this was just a phase. A bump on the road for a woman another year farther from her youth.
But the closer that sixty-third birthday loomed, the more restless Ellen became. It was harmless at first. There was a big amusement park nearby, clearly a knockoff of Disneyland (and a successful one) with roller coasters that never sat still too long. Ellen began riding them. No problem, right? Well, she began riding them often, visiting the park just for them. She would bring friends and ride the ‘coasters long after her friends felt like their stomachs were hanging out their noses. They waited to see Ellen look exhausted and worn out, but no… something inside her had awoken to the taste of adrenaline and it was getting a bigger appetite with each ride.
Then at one of their sushi dates, Ellen asked if the establishment had pufferfish. Yes, that pufferfish. Paige was apoplectic.
“You can’t behave like this! You’re a sixty-two-year-old woman!”
The more Paige tried to put on the brakes, the more Ellen floored the gas. She glimpsed a date circled in Ellen’s daily planner that said “Rock Climbing, Red Cliff State Park.”
Then there was a video on Facebook of someone recording Ellen diving off a waterfall into a spring.
Paige dialed up her mama hen act and demanded that Ellen never do anything like that again.
Ellen promised.
Then a month later a video surfaced of Ellen bungee jumping over a gorge.
“I promised I’d never do anything like that again! It’s different! There’s no water!” Ellen laughed in the face of her best friend who was red as a tomato.
Paige insisted on coming along on the shark dive outing just so she could cause as much trouble as possible. Well, she failed. Ellen had become a rolling stone straight out of an Indiana Jones movie: unstoppable and picking up speed.
Several months passed without Ellen doing anything else that looked like suicide wrapped in Christmas lights. Paige hoped that it was a sign that perhaps she was going to finally come to terms with the fact that there was nothing wrong with turning sixty-three and that it would be worth it to see it.
Paige had seen her father go into the ground when he was only forty-seven. She had also buried a child at only eight. Losing one more loved one, she thought, would push her over the edge.
She had gotten good at finding excuses to pay her best friend a visit and check on her. This time she was bringing over a new casserole. Ellen’s humble, light gray bungalow gave no indication of the recently restless and wild old woman that bounced around within.
The large orange cat on the porch sniffed at the familiar sight of Paige. His name was Baker, named for Ellen’s favorite doctor in the Doctor Who series, Tom Baker. One of the things that Ellen and Paige both held in common.
She smiled at the cat as she waited for the door to open.
“Are you keeping that wild owner of yours from any more crazy adventures?”
The answer came as soon as the door opened. Ellen was wearing outdoor hiking gear and a backpack that was complicated enough to have been military-issued.
Then there was the wide explorer hat on her head.
“Ellen…”
“Paige! Oh, how are you? Whatchu got there?”
“It’s a new casserole I’m trying to get the hang of. Thought I’d test it on you. Now, whatchu got there?” Paige frowned at the hat.
“Y’all can call me Dora!” Ellen said with a quick bow and trotted back inside.
Paige mouthed a silent Ah, fuck before crossing the threshold. She saw the brochure before Ellen could hide it. It was for a mountain climbing expedition in the most treacherous part of the Rockies, and the pamphlet wasn’t shy.
Reaper’s Leap: Danger, Dismemberment and Death, if You Dare!
Paige set the casserole down to arrest the brochure with both hands like it were a live fish that would wriggle away.
“Ellen Morgan!” she spat.
Dora Morgan!” Ellen replied.
“What in Mother Mary’s blazing asshole after twenty tacos is this shit?!”
“It’s a brochure!”
“You’re going mountain climbing?”
“That’s what mountains are for, Paige!”
“You’re almost sixty-three!”
Ellen twirled around the room like a child, mumbling in a deep, derpy voice, “Ewwen, yer almost sixty three, durr-durr-durr…”
Paige wasn’t amused.
“You’re gonna give me a heart attack!”
“Then you should be like me and live a little before that ticker flickers out.”
“Ellen!”
“You keep saying my name like it’s some magic word. Haven’t you noticed that it doesn’t help anything? You were saying my name over and over after my roller-coaster binge. You were saying my name over and over when you found out about the rock climbing and the bungee jumping. The nice men hosting the cage dive with the sharks said that you wouldn’t stop saying my name while I was underwater. I dunno, didja ever think that babbling my name like a parrot is only making things worse?”
Paige’s eyelids fluttered as she held up her hands and her mouth hung open. Then she pulled her long auburn hair back and held it tight.
“You almost said my name again, didn’t you?”
Ellen put one long finger to her friend’s lips before she could answer.
“You can say my name until you poop your pants. But I’m going to do what I want, like always. And this time, it just so happens to involve mountains.”
“And suicide!”
“No, just mountains.”
They argued for a good hour, something that resulted in Paige storming out of the house without the casserole, as if she were giving her best friend the luxury of a last meal, though the expedition wasn’t due for another week.
The day arrived and Ellen patted Baker on the head and whispered him a farewell. Naturally, she had talked Paige into looking after him. The double doors of a silver bus parted and Ellen trotted through as though they were the gates to heaven.
She looked at the brochure again. The front was a picture of the path they would be hiking. It looked like the road to hell. Jagged rocks like misshapen teeth awaited anyone with unsure footing. Thorny trees that didn’t offer much shade.
“Well, don’t you look excited,” said a low voice from the seat behind her. It was a young and athletic woman with a shaved head and eyes like black coffee. Her whole bearing suggested sports and adrenaline.
“I am excited! Oh gosh.”
Her name was Sarah. They chatted most of the ride and Ellen loved every minute of it.
* * * * * *
The busload of mountaineers unpacked at one of those single-level hotels that were nothing but thin walls and moth-eaten fabric. Dinner and sleep were rushed through like an obstacle course at Basic Training, and the early sunlight of the next day found everyone headed up the trail pictured on the brochure, and it looked no less infernal in person.
“We’re on an express elevator to Hell!” Ellen shouted.
“Going down!” said Sarah from a few paces ahead of her. The two women exchanged looks, verifying that they were indeed quoting the same movie, and they giggled like fifth-graders. They ascended rapidly through the toothy landscape. Mountain towns soon looked like clusters of pebbles. Ellen couldn’t get her fill of pictures, ending up at the rear of the group.
One minute the noon sun was bearing down on them. The next minute, there was the cool scent of rain and thunderheads closing in. They looked like they were great chunks of the jagged, saw-toothed mountains that had levitated into the sky where they churned with electricity.
Ellen pumped her fists and whooped at the sight. But she was the only one that thought so well of the brewing storm.
“Stay close to the rest of us!” Sarah warned. No sooner had she spoken than the rain slammed into them like a tidal wave. Their guide, the loud and jolly Roger, was swept off his feet and rolled down the face of the mountain like a meatball in a red shirt.
Lightning struck so close that the thunder felt like it was going to rattle their teeth loose. They all found themselves breathing through their mouths so they wouldn’t drown.
Sarah was sure that a couple of others had been washed or blown off the trail, but she couldn’t see who. It felt like hours before she could see more than a few inches in front of her. She renewed her grip on Ellen’s hand as they all hunkered down in place to try and ride out the onslaught.
Little by little, the rain let up.
Little by little, they could see again.
Sarah gripped the hand in hers tighter and looked over to ask Ellen if she was okay. She discovered that it wasn’t Ellen’s hand she was holding. She looked around. Ellen wasn’t with them.
They detoured down to one of the villages, a trip that took several hours too many. A search and rescue team was formed and began their grueling rounds. They found Roger dashed open like a watermelon. They found the broken remains of the scrawny college girl, flecks of her own glasses in her mouth.
But they never found Ellen.
She was someplace dark and cool where the storm reached her only as a steady drip-drip-drip in the puddle she lay in. Memories replayed themselves vividly and she thought she was reliving certain moments over and over.
The rain had sent her tumbling down the mountain. The ground had disappeared. Daylight was replaced by pure black. Something huge, presumably the ground, gave her a full-body pimp slap. The world was very still and quiet except for the dripping. This along with the smell of earth told her she had found a cavern.
She had a feeling that she was the only one who was going to know about that cavern for a very, very long time. Something rippled through her chest. A laugh? A sob? Maybe both.
She heard a far-off sound. A shuffling. She supposed that rats or cave crabs or something were on their way to strip the meat from her body. She perked up a bit when she thought she heard voices mixed in. There was no mistaking it. There were voices. The rescue team hadn’t given up on her. It surely had been because of Sarah. She wasn’t going to let them rest until they found her.
She tried to call out, but her diaphragm didn’t dare allow it, not with broken ribs against her lungs like the switchblades of a gang of robbers. It didn’t matter, they were getting closer. Strange. She couldn’t see any flashlights. Perhaps they were using night vision? She held her head up in expectation. The voices were all around her. Something about the chatter didn’t feel right and the sound began to leach the hope out of her heart.
And then all was silent. Ellen held her breath.
No pain could prevent it from coming out as a scream when vice-like hands gripped her and dragged her away.
Days later, through a mile of solid rock above where Ellen had landed, a rescuer in a neon orange vest was speaking into a walkie. He was saying that the body of the sixty-some blonde wasn’t turning up. The radio crackled back that the search was officially being called off.
The rescuer tightened his lips and nodded.
“Over,” he replied.
* * * * * *
Darryl Waltman hated delivering bad news. He had done his share of it over the course of his career, but he never got completely numb to it. He always got a little twinge, a flutter in his chest when he knew he had to make a phone call and tell someone that somebody wasn’t coming home.
He was in one of the few villages along the mountains that could get a decent cell signal. He had to stand outside the general store that was placed at the edge of town next to the hand-painted sign that said WELCOME TO WESTCHURCH. POP. 165.
Darryl tried the old blonde’s publicly listed landline first, chancing that she had some family living with her. Someone answered on the second ring.
“Hello, this is Paige.”
“Hi, Paige, this is Darryl Waltman. I’m a detective. Listen, are you family with Ellen Morgan? There’s been an accident.”
He laid the whole thing on her and she went to pieces over the phone. Something Darryl experienced many times, but again… it never got to be an easy thing.
The call ended and Darryl was free of the grieving woman who would cry her eyes out. He looked out over the land that sloped down into the base of the mountain and out into forever, paved with pines and dirt and endless wildflowers.
His stout stomach growled at him. He eyed the one luxury that Westchurch boasted: the aging donut and coffee shop. The owners, a middle-aged couple, had found a not-so-gently used neon sign on one of their vacations. It was set out in front of the dumpster of another donut shop in Detroit. Hey, maybe it still worked… and if it did, nobody would miss it. The sign did work, but it had spasms, mostly in the donut that formed the O in “coffee.” Mabel and Dave ran the generator for a few extra minutes every day so that the cells would have enough juice to power the sign in the evening and in the morning. Not that they really had anyone to show off for in a town like that but… you know. It was nice to have.
The sign wasn’t lit. Darryl squinted at his watch. Maybe they decided to switch it off early today.
A dull bell sounded when Darryl pushed the door open. The place looked vacant, but he could smell the coffee and the cinnamon, so he knew there were people here.
He sat on a barstool and looked at the old black and white television set that prattled away on the coffee-stained counter. There was a breaking news segment.
“The residents of the small mountain hamlet of Thistle Creek woke up to find that twelve people had all died mysteriously. Two of them were visiting from out of town.”
Darryl cocked his head as the screen switched to one of the locals, an elderly man that must not have been used to the sight of news equipment. He kept flinching at the microphone being shoved in his face.
“They’s just gone. Couldn’t-a been more than a day. Nobody suspicious of any strangers, ‘cause all the strangers were part of the ones that died. My brother found one body, then I found one, my sister. Then everyone’s minds are, yuh know, heightened. We all did a town-wide check and the bodies kept piling up. Looked like they all died o’ same time, but we’ll never know.”
“Mabel? Anyone?” Darryl called out. A mental shadow passed over his face.
“Hey, Dave? It’s Darryl. I need to talk to one of y’all.”
He made his way to the door that led behind the counter. He could feel his heartbeat picking up.
“How’re we doing today, folks? Lots of good coffee and donuts to fatten up the law enforcement?”
The kitchen was empty. Hints of smoke came from one of the ovens. Darryl opened the door to find some donuts turned to charcoal. Darryl never poked around back here before. But he was pretty sure that Mabel would never let that happen to the donuts.
“Dave! Mabel! Hello!”
He checked the bathroom, which was really just a closet with a toilet installed. The door was locked. Darryl pounded on it.
“Hello in there?”
There was an answer. A single dull thump.
Darryl pounded again, but the door didn’t unlock and the thump didn’t come a second time. He tore the door off of its rotten hinges and the cold dead body of Dave faceplanted onto the floor in front of Darryl’s feet. His pants were around his ankles and a folded piece of toilet paper was in his limp fingers.
* * * * * *
Paige sat in her silver BMW in the parking lot of the church, watching people go in. A breeze caressed her through her open windows. It was the only sound between the dull chiming of bells.
She didn’t want to go in.
It would be admitting that Ellen was gone.
Admitting that she didn’t stop her. Couldn’t stop her. Couldn’t talk some sense into her. She had tried and tried and tried, talking until she was out of breath and words alike. And it hadn’t been enough.
She switched on the radio.
“... piling up around several towns nestled in the most inaccessible corners of the Rockies. All of them have no trace of foul play or poisoning, yet evidence suggests that they all died at the same time. Tension is mounting as the people in these isolated settlements no longer feel safe in these places where the world’s problems usually seem so far away.”
She switched it off.
When it was clear that there was nobody else to go ahead of her, Paige went in. The sounds of bawling and electric organ blended together.
She could feel herself being speared by the eyes of Ellen’s family. She knew they blamed her. Her closest friend and confidante her whole adult life. The one person that could have reintroduced Ellen to rational thinking. Yeah. The friend that failed. Paige wanted to weep for herself as much as for Ellen. She knew it was selfish but how else could it be spelled out? What other conclusion would the family have reached? First her father and her son, and now her best friend.
The crying around her teased her own tears to the surface and she didn’t want to break down in front of all the accusing stares. She sprang to her feet and walked toward the front double doors of the funeral home.
Her tears clouded her vision so much that she was blinded long enough to collide with someone. Her nose was assaulted with a stomach-shredding stench. Mildew, sweat, human waste. She staggered back and wiped the tears from her eyes.
She didn’t remember the ear-splitting scream that people told her she made before she passed out. All she remembered was looking into the filthy face and cataract-clouded eyes of Ellen.
* * * * * *
So Ellen showed up to her own funeral. Could have been worse. She could have come to see Paige after the whole thing was over, forcing her to have to tell her family that her best friend was back from the dead and they’d write it off as a fish story, and it would be like that scene from THEY LIVE where Roddy Piper just couldn’t get anyone to see for themselves that he was telling the truth.
Ellen had finally made something easier for Paige. They all sat in the ER with noises and faces much like the ones at the funeral.
Family got called to come back and see Ellen first. Paige’s heart was in her mouth as she waited her turn.
“Paige Fisher?” the nurse called next. Paige was startled and jumped to her feet.
“You can come back now.”
She was trying not to run. Ellen’s family briskly walked past her in the narrow hall.
She was led into a room and there she was. All cleaned up, but still changed. She turned her head towards Paige revealing those eyes like milky marbles. The next revelation was Ellen’s right arm… the absence of it. Paige clamped her hands to her face, unable to take her eyes off of her ruined friend. Her cataract eyes tracked her as she crossed the room to sit on a stool.
“Ellen, it’s me,” she croaked, barely speaking above a whisper. She didn’t answer. Paige waved her hand. Ellen waved back.
“She can see you,” the nurse said. “She just can’t remember you.”
“What?”
“Amnesia. Significant memory loss and possible psychosis from head injury.”
“But I have perfect sight, Mommy,” Ellen interjected, and added nothing else.
“Her arm was lost in the mountains. Apparently severed and cauterized in the wild.”
“Oh, my god,” Paige repeated over and over to herself.
“Are you ready for The Harvest?” Ellen said, looking at Paige.
“What?”
Ellen didn’t explain.
“She keeps speaking about some sort of harvesting. One of the reasons we want to monitor her for signs of psychosis. With the exception of her arm, the only thing that really seems to be broken is her mind.”
“How soon can she go home?”
“Once we know she can walk and function, she can go home in a few weeks. Possibly sooner if there’s someone that can live with her to help her get used to living without an arm and monitor her state of mind.”
And that was all Paige needed to hear. She wasn’t leaving her friend’s side again. Ever. She visited daily. Even if it was just for a short while before visiting hours were over. She told Ellen all about their lives, especially their friendship. How it started in grade school and lasted all through college and beyond.
Ellen seemed to listen. She never said much. Nor did she let on that she remembered any of the experiences Paige related. When she did speak, it was only about the coming Harvest. How she was going to dance among the pale broken stalks as the storehouses are filled to the brim. Strange shit like that. Paige figured out before long that questions about The Harvest were the only questions Ellen would respond to. So she would ask questions, even if the answers never made any sense. She figured any workout for her synapses was better than no workout at all.
Weeks later, Ellen had some questions of her own. The doctors saw this as progress since up to that point all her cognition was reactive. She didn’t have any questions for her family. Only for Paige. This made her feel redeemed on some level.
“Tell me more about when we were young,” she would say. Vague much?
The questions never got more specific. So she’d get stories that ran the spectrum from their childhood up to their 20s and 30s.
She started asking more about their college days. Paige didn’t remember much of those days, courtesy of many mind-altering substances. She was embarrassed about what she could recall and often lied to Ellen. But she somehow knew when she was lying and called her out on it.
Those college days. Man.
Paige referred to them as their Death Days. All they wore was black. They’d get hammered, high, or both and visit art galleries in their altered states. It was Minneapolis. Art was everywhere, so a dilapidated apartment full of paintings curated by fellow college students counted as an art gallery.
Somewhere between looking at art and having “just one more,” gorgeous boys would get involved, but nobody remembered those details. Just that they had to introduce themselves when they woke up.
They both tried painting. Paige tried writing. Under the influence, of course. Everything she made was death-centric. Dying and darkness and despair, it was nectar to her drug-addled soul.
Ellen would ask questions about that creative phase. Paige was surprised to find that it made her uncomfortable to regurgitate those old, trite verses.
When you’re in college and all lit up and you have your whole life ahead of you, you have the luxury of rolling death around in your mouth like forbidden candy just to see how it tastes. After burying her father and her son and especially after almost burying Ellen, Paige no longer saw death as tragically gorgeous and poetic. No longer considered it to be the source of everything beautiful, but rather the annihilation of it. She would try to change the subject, but then Ellen would regress back to being unresponsive.
* * * * * *
Paige stood with Ellen in front of Ellen’s house. She was finally allowed to come home, provided Paige would look after her. At the sound of the door unlocking and opening, Baker ran in to greet them, but as soon as he saw Ellen he arched his back and hissed. Ellen stared dumbly at the animal.
“I guess Baker doesn’t recognize you,” Paige said, her eyebrows furrowed. She thought cats remembered their humans for life, even after they change hands.
“Baker…” Ellen mused.
“You named him after your favorite doctor.”
“I don’t remember a Doctor Baker.”
The cat fled at the sound of his name.
The two women went to the backyard where a small patio was fronted by flower beds. Ellen gazed down at the blossoms that had gone a bit wild in her absence. Paige hoped that seeing the colorful plants would reach her in some way, but she didn’t seem to register anything.
“You pulled weeds out here every evening. Sometimes I was afraid you’d start pulling up your plants if you couldn’t’ find any weeds,” Paige chuckled. Still no reaction.
Days turned to weeks as Paige guided Ellen through the motions of daily living. She never quite took to anything one hundred percent. She had to be reminded to lower her fork after taking a bite of food. She had to be reminded that she needed to make it to the toilet before she couldn’t hold it.
Paige kept trying to get Baker to sit in Ellen’s lap. He would let Paige pick him up but he would wrestle free and disappear whenever he saw Ellen.
One warm night, Paige sat next to her friend on the couch. They both watched the television, basking in its pale rays. Nothing on the screen could elicit a laugh or a cry or a twitch from Ellen. Not that night, not any night since she’d been home.
Paige fiddled on her phone and imagined how crammed her physical mailbox must be. “Okay, I’m going to make sure everything is in order at my house, then I’ll come right back, okay?”
As usual, Ellen didn’t answer.
* * * * * *
Her house was unchanged, timeless like a monument or a tomb. She sat down on her bed and suddenly felt how tired she really was. A photo album lay on a small glass bedside table. It was full of photos of the adventures of Paige and Ellen, some recent, some distant.
Her thoughts were interrupted by a knock at the front door. She stood to answer, but froze as soon as the knock came a second time. Only this time it was on the wall right next to the doorway to her bedroom. She was anchored to the spot for many long seconds. A slender arm coated in grime and dirt reached inside the doorway and knocked on the wall just above the light switch. Paige stared at it with clenched teeth. The shoulder that the arm was attached to came into view revealing that the arm was attached to nothing at all. It floated limply in the doorway. It wore a ring. One of Ellen’s.
The hand flicked the light switch off. The floor opened up beneath Paige and she fell with blinding speed into a void. The arm followed.
Somehow the arm was suddenly attached to Ellen as she lay on a raised stone platform bathed in a sickly green light. The light came from things resembling egg sacs the size of basketballs, only they were bioluminescent. They hung over Ellen from web-like strands. The platform was surrounded by… things. In robes. The robes seemed to float as if the wearers were underwater. Ellen’s eyes darted from one form to another as they loomed over her. One of them casually reached out and touched her broken arm with hooked fingers. The limb was snapped off her body like a celery stalk. The shriek of pain was almost inhuman, though Ellen was the source. Blood spattered Paige’s face. It was warm.
Warm like the sunshine that was on her cheek.
Paige’s eyes shot open. She had fallen asleep and slept all through the night. She had completely left her friend alone.
She didn’t feel like this much of a failure since Ellen’s funeral. She was out the door in an instant and sped over to Ellen’s house, rehearsing her apology. All words fled her when she arrived.
The flower beds and the grass and the trees – which had all been vibrant and lush the day before – were dead. Not just wilted. Dead. The flowers were shriveled husks. The grass was gray as ash.
“Ellen? Ellen!” Paige yelled as she ran inside the house. The door was ajar. Search as she may, Ellen was gone. Baker was curled up in the recliner where he would sit with his owner and watch TV. Something about the cat tugged at Paige’s senses. She just had to get a closer look at him. His eyes were wide open, but all the color was drained from them. His body was perfectly still. And cold.
Ellen was paying for a ticket to the very theme park where her appetite for thrills began. The girl in the window avoided looking into those opaque eyes. They were cast high up towards the looping tracks of the rollercoasters. In her line of sight, much closer, were power lines where half a dozen crows sat. Like static in a fading television signal, the sky became peppered with more crows. They circled high above, gradually lowering. The din of their voices was just barely getting through the haze of the park’s sounds. Children pointed up. Adults squinted and shielded their eyes.
Nobody was paying attention to Ellen, her blank eyes like granite carvings, a smile twisting her lips, and the vortex of the crows narrowing above her.
She breathed onto a clown that was in the middle of twisting a balloon into the shape of a dog. He had looked up to see what everyone else was gawking at. The air that came from her mouth was distorted like the air above a fire. He collapsed, several balloons flying off into the sky to be impaled by black beaks.
A woman, apparently part of a family of five including three kids, heard the clown go down. She spotted Ellen just in time for her to breathe on her and all five people wavered and fell. Five wisps of something evanescent, like vapor, snaked into Ellen’s mouth.
A middle-aged man heard the family hit the ground and he thought he was witnessing heat stroke. Then he started to feel dizzy himself, and something also left his mouth and entered Ellen’s. Confusion kindled in the crowd. People were falling with no apparent cause. The means of their death was invisible and silent. Whatever was causing the tide of death made people run, creating even more confusion. Which created stampedes. Which were far noisier and more visible than Ellen, who crept along and exhaled death on everyone she could get close to. Far too many people ran straight into her miasma of doom. The crows above her tightened into a black funnel with the tip just above her head, and the more perceptive folks in the crowd could tell that whatever she was, she was best avoided.
Kip Lancaster sat behind his usual wall of flat-screen monitors that had been jimmied into a security system. Each one had nine feeds running into them from all over the park, so the waves that Ellen was making didn’t look like more than agitation in the crowds. It took a minute to get his attention. He first saw that people weren’t just strolling around anymore. It looked like there was some sort of evacuation but nobody knew where to go. Then he saw lots of people lying down in places they shouldn’t be: the middle of roads where there should have been heavy foot traffic. Men, women and children. Had there been a bomb or something?
He scratched his beard with one thumbnail before grabbing the walkie.
“This is Kip. I think we’ve got something really bad. Lots of people down on the ground and running around. Maybe an accident? Looks scary on the monitors.”
Voices chirped back that they’d check it out.
By then there were bodies strewn about in every imaginable way. Standing in line for funnel cakes. Whirling rides were full of screaming kids because the operators were slumped by the controls, dead. Those still living were a tide of panic that knocked over vendor stands and trampled the slow and the weak.
The handful of security guards dispatched to investigate couldn’t safely get onto the fairgrounds. They could, however, see the cyclone of crows that was now a black pillar that terminated at some point among the chaos, like a great phantom finger saying YOU ARE HERE.
An older guard got on top of a vendor’s trailer that hadn’t been knocked over and looked out over the heads of panicking people. He looked through his binoculars at where the tornado of crows came to a point.
“Matthews to Kip. I don’t know what I’m looking at, but there’s a funnel cloud of crows out here and uh… shit, this is weird. It’s following a woman with… glowing eyes?”
Kip found the feed that showed what Matthews was describing and zoomed in as much as he could. The image was grainy but one thing was sure, crazy as it was. Anyone that came close to this woman fell over and didn’t get back up.
The camera picked out a clump of flowers in a planter in the woman’s path. The blossoms winked out of existence as they shriveled up.
Kip radioed out again: “Looks like she might be using some sort of chemical agent. Everything around her just dies.”
Four officers in blue uniforms converged on Ellen. Their service pistols were drawn and they yelled something to her, something else to each other. They all moved in very close. Kip shook his head.
“Tell those officers to keep their distance, for Christ’s sake. Everyone that–”
One of them made a move to restrain Ellen and this emboldened the other three to also close in. Her mouth opened wide, the video feed was scrambled for a second, and then four officers fell down and didn’t get back up. Four trails of gray pixels snaked from each body into the woman’s mouth.
Kip swallowed hard at the sight. His eyes took it in, but his brain was trying to spit it out.
“Kip here. All four dispatched officers are down.”
Kip zoomed out and was startled to see the dozens, hundreds of bodies that had accumulated while he was zeroed in on this strange woman.
“Kip to anyone still following the situation, please respond.”
There was no answer.
“Does anyone read me, damn it!”
Something caught Kip’s eye on another video feed. He had seen countless vehicles stream out of the parking lot. A civilian vehicle was heading in. It smashed through the park admission gates and slid to a sideways stop near ground zero. Another woman jumped out of it.
“Ellen!” Paige called at the top of her lungs, as she stood only a few meters from her best friend who had a black cloud of carrion-eaters twisting above her, shedding feathers like volcanic ash. The sound of their wings and their voices was deafening, and yet Ellen halted as if she could hear her name being called.
She looked at Paige.
“Ellen, what is this? What the hell did you do?”
She raised her one arm to Paige and her mouth spoke. Paige heard a voice that may have come from her friend, or it may have come from the ground beneath her feet, she wasn’t sure. But the sound made her tremble.
“Paige, baby, it’s me, Daddy!”
It wasn’t Ellen’s voice – It was her father’s. Male. Baritone. Full of the love that she hadn’t heard in years.
“Daddy..?” she whimpered.
“Mommy-mommy-mommy,” Ellen’s mouth moved again, this time with a much higher voice. “Mommy, I miss you!”
Paige reacted like she had been stabbed in the stomach. It was Bobby’s voice. Sweet little Bobby. Her vision swam as her feet couldn’t keep track of the ground.
“Oh, Sugar. Come to Daddy! We can finally be together,” Her father’s voice again.
Paige barely managed to focus her eyes to see Ellen coming toward her with a royal vanguard of crows walking ahead of her.
“Take our hand, Mommy!”
The sound of crows roared like ocean surf.
“Come on, dumpling. Daddy has waited for this for so long.”
A sob wracked Paige’s abdomen and pulled her face taut like there was a bridle in her jaws. She held out her shaking arms toward Ellen, not in protest, but in invitation.
Ellen opened her mouth wide and the air around her began to shimmer.
Pink mist burst around her blonde hair and a dark crimson spot bloomed on her forehead. She faceplanted a few feet away from Paige, revealing Kip Lancaster, holding a service pistol that had belonged to one of the fallen officers. With the crack of Ellen’s skull against the ground, the cyclone of crows scattered.
Paige registered no shock or dismay as the young security guard approached her and made sure she was alright.
Police arrived. So did the coroner. He nearly joined the body count out of sheer shock.
The scene was bathed in flashing LED lights for some time. The more officers questioned witnesses, the more insane the story sounded. One of them nervously stroked his mustache as he talked to his comrade who held a clipboard.
“Nobody is going to believe any of this, Johnson. I swear… nobody! Hey! This is no time to be smoking!”
Johnson turned to the other cop and stared at him with his mirrored sunglasses. Officer Mustache nodded.
“Sorry. I could have sworn I saw smoke coming out of your pie hole. I mean, you passed your personal record of three months without a cig, so yeah. Just trying to help.”
The computer from inside the squad car bleeped to life and the mustachioed officer ducked in to check it out. Johnson quietly adjusted his sunglasses, briefly revealing his eyes, which were as white as marbles.
submitted by craiggroshek to WritersOfHorror [link] [comments]


2020.07.29 06:44 craiggroshek RIP Ellen

Paige watched with wide eyes as her friend was ushered into a cage with iron bars jagged with rust.
An iron arm swung the cage over the edge of the filthy fishing boat.
Paige pressed her hands together, her eyes welling with panic.
”No, please!” she pleaded. “She doesn’t have that much money. Let’s just forget about all this, please!”
The one burly man next to the crank that raised and lowered the cage shot her a look that clearly indicated how much he didn’t care about what Paige thought of the whole affair.
“Please just let her out! Just let us go!”
“Lady,” the man snarled, “you’re not the one that financed this little expedition so you’re not the one we’re taking orders from.”
Just as Paige started up with more mewling, the man hit a release next to the crank and the cage plummeted into the waves with a splash, her friend Ellen grasping the bars from the inside. Paige yelped. The chain reached its end and became taut, throbbing like a heartbeat.
Paige took a few urgent steps toward the crank operator, but two other brutish men with short necks and broad shoulders blocked her.
“You don’t listen too good,” they grunted. Paige imagined her friend screaming, struggling, panicking. Bubbles were rising from where the cage hung in the depths.
After a dreadfully long time, it was pulled up out of the water. Ellen’s wetsuit-clad body was revealed. She slid her mask and her breathing apparatus off her face and she pumped her fists in the air with a loud whoop!
Paige shaped a steeple over her nose with her fingers as she shook her head.
“Paige, Paige... I got pictures!” Ellen yelled as she held up a large waterproof camera. Paige wouldn’t even look at her.
“So how many do you think you saw?” asked the crank operator with folded arms. Excitement radiated from Ellen’s face.
“Oh, God. I don’t know. Probably six or more?”
The man nodded and shifted his fat cigar to the other side of his face.
“So that means it was a successful dive. That plus the camera rental is going to put you at about four grand.”
Ellen stepped out of the cage and handed the waterproof camera off to one of the men.
“We’ll get these uploaded and give you a code so you can access them.”
Ellen shot the men two thumbs up. She turned to Paige and gave her the same gesture. Paige just glared.
“If it’s all the same to you ladies, we’re heading back to shore,” said the crank operator.
* * * * * *
“Four thousand dollars, Ellen. Four-freaking-thousand dollars.”
“I know, isn’t it a steal?” Ellen exclaimed.
“You can’t afford that much. You could barely afford the money that got you out here.”
“Well, yeah, but you’re not exactly made of money either, and yet here you are.”
The boat they had just been on motored off into the fog.
“That wasn’t even an actual diving boat.”
“Paigey-Paige-Paige, anything else would have been much more expensive. Last I checked, a fishing boat floats just as good as any other.”
“And that diving cage. I swear to God, some of those bars looked completely rotten. May as well have shielded yourself from those sharks with a garbage can lid.”
“That only adds to the thrill of it.”
Ellen slung her bulky diving gear over one shoulder. Paige didn’t know how that slender little woman had so much strength. Any average day, Ellen Morgan looked like a mosquito with sky blue eyes and very short blonde hair.
Ellen wasted no time in adding the pictures from her dive to her social media. Horrible “fish-eye” perspective shots of shark noses, shark eyes, and shark teeth, like the animals had been looking into a funhouse mirror.
Paige’s inbox filled up with private messages from Ellen’s friends and family. None of them had anything good to say about her practically tongue-kissing the wildlife.
“What were the bars of that cage made from? Waffle cone?”
“You are keeping an eye on her… right?”
“I thought you said you were going to talk some sense into her.”
That was something Paige indeed said she could and would do… when she thought that this was just a phase. A bump on the road for a woman another year farther from her youth.
But the closer that sixty-third birthday loomed, the more restless Ellen became. It was harmless at first. There was a big amusement park nearby, clearly a knockoff of Disneyland (and a successful one) with roller coasters that never sat still too long. Ellen began riding them. No problem, right? Well, she began riding them often, visiting the park just for them. She would bring friends and ride the ‘coasters long after her friends felt like their stomachs were hanging out their noses. They waited to see Ellen look exhausted and worn out, but no… something inside her had awoken to the taste of adrenaline and it was getting a bigger appetite with each ride.
Then at one of their sushi dates, Ellen asked if the establishment had pufferfish. Yes, that pufferfish. Paige was apoplectic.
“You can’t behave like this! You’re a sixty-two-year-old woman!”
The more Paige tried to put on the brakes, the more Ellen floored the gas. She glimpsed a date circled in Ellen’s daily planner that said “Rock Climbing, Red Cliff State Park.”
Then there was a video on Facebook of someone recording Ellen diving off a waterfall into a spring.
Paige dialed up her mama hen act and demanded that Ellen never do anything like that again.
Ellen promised.
Then a month later a video surfaced of Ellen bungee jumping over a gorge.
“I promised I’d never do anything like that again! It’s different! There’s no water!” Ellen laughed in the face of her best friend who was red as a tomato.
Paige insisted on coming along on the shark dive outing just so she could cause as much trouble as possible. Well, she failed. Ellen had become a rolling stone straight out of an Indiana Jones movie: unstoppable and picking up speed.
Several months passed without Ellen doing anything else that looked like suicide wrapped in Christmas lights. Paige hoped that it was a sign that perhaps she was going to finally come to terms with the fact that there was nothing wrong with turning sixty-three and that it would be worth it to see it.
Paige had seen her father go into the ground when he was only forty-seven. She had also buried a child at only eight. Losing one more loved one, she thought, would push her over the edge.
She had gotten good at finding excuses to pay her best friend a visit and check on her. This time she was bringing over a new casserole. Ellen’s humble, light gray bungalow gave no indication of the recently restless and wild old woman that bounced around within.
The large orange cat on the porch sniffed at the familiar sight of Paige. His name was Baker, named for Ellen’s favorite doctor in the Doctor Who series, Tom Baker. One of the things that Ellen and Paige both held in common.
She smiled at the cat as she waited for the door to open.
“Are you keeping that wild owner of yours from any more crazy adventures?”
The answer came as soon as the door opened. Ellen was wearing outdoor hiking gear and a backpack that was complicated enough to have been military-issued.
Then there was the wide explorer hat on her head.
“Ellen…”
“Paige! Oh, how are you? Whatchu got there?”
“It’s a new casserole I’m trying to get the hang of. Thought I’d test it on you. Now, whatchu got there?” Paige frowned at the hat.
“Y’all can call me Dora!” Ellen said with a quick bow and trotted back inside.
Paige mouthed a silent Ah, fuck before crossing the threshold. She saw the brochure before Ellen could hide it. It was for a mountain climbing expedition in the most treacherous part of the Rockies, and the pamphlet wasn’t shy.
Reaper’s Leap: Danger, Dismemberment and Death, if You Dare!
Paige set the casserole down to arrest the brochure with both hands like it were a live fish that would wriggle away.
“Ellen Morgan!” she spat.
Dora Morgan!” Ellen replied.
“What in Mother Mary’s blazing asshole after twenty tacos is this shit?!”
“It’s a brochure!”
“You’re going mountain climbing?”
“That’s what mountains are for, Paige!”
“You’re almost sixty-three!”
Ellen twirled around the room like a child, mumbling in a deep, derpy voice, “Ewwen, yer almost sixty three, durr-durr-durr…”
Paige wasn’t amused.
“You’re gonna give me a heart attack!”
“Then you should be like me and live a little before that ticker flickers out.”
“Ellen!”
“You keep saying my name like it’s some magic word. Haven’t you noticed that it doesn’t help anything? You were saying my name over and over after my roller-coaster binge. You were saying my name over and over when you found out about the rock climbing and the bungee jumping. The nice men hosting the cage dive with the sharks said that you wouldn’t stop saying my name while I was underwater. I dunno, didja ever think that babbling my name like a parrot is only making things worse?”
Paige’s eyelids fluttered as she held up her hands and her mouth hung open. Then she pulled her long auburn hair back and held it tight.
“You almost said my name again, didn’t you?”
Ellen put one long finger to her friend’s lips before she could answer.
“You can say my name until you poop your pants. But I’m going to do what I want, like always. And this time, it just so happens to involve mountains.”
“And suicide!”
“No, just mountains.”
They argued for a good hour, something that resulted in Paige storming out of the house without the casserole, as if she were giving her best friend the luxury of a last meal, though the expedition wasn’t due for another week.
The day arrived and Ellen patted Baker on the head and whispered him a farewell. Naturally, she had talked Paige into looking after him. The double doors of a silver bus parted and Ellen trotted through as though they were the gates to heaven.
She looked at the brochure again. The front was a picture of the path they would be hiking. It looked like the road to hell. Jagged rocks like misshapen teeth awaited anyone with unsure footing. Thorny trees that didn’t offer much shade.
“Well, don’t you look excited,” said a low voice from the seat behind her. It was a young and athletic woman with a shaved head and eyes like black coffee. Her whole bearing suggested sports and adrenaline.
“I am excited! Oh gosh.”
Her name was Sarah. They chatted most of the ride and Ellen loved every minute of it.
* * * * * *
The busload of mountaineers unpacked at one of those single-level hotels that were nothing but thin walls and moth-eaten fabric. Dinner and sleep were rushed through like an obstacle course at Basic Training, and the early sunlight of the next day found everyone headed up the trail pictured on the brochure, and it looked no less infernal in person.
“We’re on an express elevator to Hell!” Ellen shouted.
“Going down!” said Sarah from a few paces ahead of her. The two women exchanged looks, verifying that they were indeed quoting the same movie, and they giggled like fifth-graders. They ascended rapidly through the toothy landscape. Mountain towns soon looked like clusters of pebbles. Ellen couldn’t get her fill of pictures, ending up at the rear of the group.
One minute the noon sun was bearing down on them. The next minute, there was the cool scent of rain and thunderheads closing in. They looked like they were great chunks of the jagged, saw-toothed mountains that had levitated into the sky where they churned with electricity.
Ellen pumped her fists and whooped at the sight. But she was the only one that thought so well of the brewing storm.
“Stay close to the rest of us!” Sarah warned. No sooner had she spoken than the rain slammed into them like a tidal wave. Their guide, the loud and jolly Roger, was swept off his feet and rolled down the face of the mountain like a meatball in a red shirt.
Lightning struck so close that the thunder felt like it was going to rattle their teeth loose. They all found themselves breathing through their mouths so they wouldn’t drown.
Sarah was sure that a couple of others had been washed or blown off the trail, but she couldn’t see who. It felt like hours before she could see more than a few inches in front of her. She renewed her grip on Ellen’s hand as they all hunkered down in place to try and ride out the onslaught.
Little by little, the rain let up.
Little by little, they could see again.
Sarah gripped the hand in hers tighter and looked over to ask Ellen if she was okay. She discovered that it wasn’t Ellen’s hand she was holding. She looked around. Ellen wasn’t with them.
They detoured down to one of the villages, a trip that took several hours too many. A search and rescue team was formed and began their grueling rounds. They found Roger dashed open like a watermelon. They found the broken remains of the scrawny college girl, flecks of her own glasses in her mouth.
But they never found Ellen.
She was someplace dark and cool where the storm reached her only as a steady drip-drip-drip in the puddle she lay in. Memories replayed themselves vividly and she thought she was reliving certain moments over and over.
The rain had sent her tumbling down the mountain. The ground had disappeared. Daylight was replaced by pure black. Something huge, presumably the ground, gave her a full-body pimp slap. The world was very still and quiet except for the dripping. This along with the smell of earth told her she had found a cavern.
She had a feeling that she was the only one who was going to know about that cavern for a very, very long time. Something rippled through her chest. A laugh? A sob? Maybe both.
She heard a far-off sound. A shuffling. She supposed that rats or cave crabs or something were on their way to strip the meat from her body. She perked up a bit when she thought she heard voices mixed in. There was no mistaking it. There were voices. The rescue team hadn’t given up on her. It surely had been because of Sarah. She wasn’t going to let them rest until they found her.
She tried to call out, but her diaphragm didn’t dare allow it, not with broken ribs against her lungs like the switchblades of a gang of robbers. It didn’t matter, they were getting closer. Strange. She couldn’t see any flashlights. Perhaps they were using night vision? She held her head up in expectation. The voices were all around her. Something about the chatter didn’t feel right and the sound began to leach the hope out of her heart.
And then all was silent. Ellen held her breath.
No pain could prevent it from coming out as a scream when vice-like hands gripped her and dragged her away.
Days later, through a mile of solid rock above where Ellen had landed, a rescuer in a neon orange vest was speaking into a walkie. He was saying that the body of the sixty-some blonde wasn’t turning up. The radio crackled back that the search was officially being called off.
The rescuer tightened his lips and nodded.
“Over,” he replied.
* * * * * *
Darryl Waltman hated delivering bad news. He had done his share of it over the course of his career, but he never got completely numb to it. He always got a little twinge, a flutter in his chest when he knew he had to make a phone call and tell someone that somebody wasn’t coming home.
He was in one of the few villages along the mountains that could get a decent cell signal. He had to stand outside the general store that was placed at the edge of town next to the hand-painted sign that said WELCOME TO WESTCHURCH. POP. 165.
Darryl tried the old blonde’s publicly listed landline first, chancing that she had some family living with her. Someone answered on the second ring.
“Hello, this is Paige.”
“Hi, Paige, this is Darryl Waltman. I’m a detective. Listen, are you family with Ellen Morgan? There’s been an accident.”
He laid the whole thing on her and she went to pieces over the phone. Something Darryl experienced many times, but again… it never got to be an easy thing.
The call ended and Darryl was free of the grieving woman who would cry her eyes out. He looked out over the land that sloped down into the base of the mountain and out into forever, paved with pines and dirt and endless wildflowers.
His stout stomach growled at him. He eyed the one luxury that Westchurch boasted: the aging donut and coffee shop. The owners, a middle-aged couple, had found a not-so-gently used neon sign on one of their vacations. It was set out in front of the dumpster of another donut shop in Detroit. Hey, maybe it still worked… and if it did, nobody would miss it. The sign did work, but it had spasms, mostly in the donut that formed the O in “coffee.” Mabel and Dave ran the generator for a few extra minutes every day so that the cells would have enough juice to power the sign in the evening and in the morning. Not that they really had anyone to show off for in a town like that but… you know. It was nice to have.
The sign wasn’t lit. Darryl squinted at his watch. Maybe they decided to switch it off early today.
A dull bell sounded when Darryl pushed the door open. The place looked vacant, but he could smell the coffee and the cinnamon, so he knew there were people here.
He sat on a barstool and looked at the old black and white television set that prattled away on the coffee-stained counter. There was a breaking news segment.
“The residents of the small mountain hamlet of Thistle Creek woke up to find that twelve people had all died mysteriously. Two of them were visiting from out of town.”
Darryl cocked his head as the screen switched to one of the locals, an elderly man that must not have been used to the sight of news equipment. He kept flinching at the microphone being shoved in his face.
“They’s just gone. Couldn’t-a been more than a day. Nobody suspicious of any strangers, ‘cause all the strangers were part of the ones that died. My brother found one body, then I found one, my sister. Then everyone’s minds are, yuh know, heightened. We all did a town-wide check and the bodies kept piling up. Looked like they all died o’ same time, but we’ll never know.”
“Mabel? Anyone?” Darryl called out. A mental shadow passed over his face.
“Hey, Dave? It’s Darryl. I need to talk to one of y’all.”
He made his way to the door that led behind the counter. He could feel his heartbeat picking up.
“How’re we doing today, folks? Lots of good coffee and donuts to fatten up the law enforcement?”
The kitchen was empty. Hints of smoke came from one of the ovens. Darryl opened the door to find some donuts turned to charcoal. Darryl never poked around back here before. But he was pretty sure that Mabel would never let that happen to the donuts.
“Dave! Mabel! Hello!”
He checked the bathroom, which was really just a closet with a toilet installed. The door was locked. Darryl pounded on it.
“Hello in there?”
There was an answer. A single dull thump.
Darryl pounded again, but the door didn’t unlock and the thump didn’t come a second time. He tore the door off of its rotten hinges and the cold dead body of Dave faceplanted onto the floor in front of Darryl’s feet. His pants were around his ankles and a folded piece of toilet paper was in his limp fingers.
* * * * * *
Paige sat in her silver BMW in the parking lot of the church, watching people go in. A breeze caressed her through her open windows. It was the only sound between the dull chiming of bells.
She didn’t want to go in.
It would be admitting that Ellen was gone.
Admitting that she didn’t stop her. Couldn’t stop her. Couldn’t talk some sense into her. She had tried and tried and tried, talking until she was out of breath and words alike. And it hadn’t been enough.
She switched on the radio.
“... piling up around several towns nestled in the most inaccessible corners of the Rockies. All of them have no trace of foul play or poisoning, yet evidence suggests that they all died at the same time. Tension is mounting as the people in these isolated settlements no longer feel safe in these places where the world’s problems usually seem so far away.”
She switched it off.
When it was clear that there was nobody else to go ahead of her, Paige went in. The sounds of bawling and electric organ blended together.
She could feel herself being speared by the eyes of Ellen’s family. She knew they blamed her. Her closest friend and confidante her whole adult life. The one person that could have reintroduced Ellen to rational thinking. Yeah. The friend that failed. Paige wanted to weep for herself as much as for Ellen. She knew it was selfish but how else could it be spelled out? What other conclusion would the family have reached? First her father and her son, and now her best friend.
The crying around her teased her own tears to the surface and she didn’t want to break down in front of all the accusing stares. She sprang to her feet and walked toward the front double doors of the funeral home.
Her tears clouded her vision so much that she was blinded long enough to collide with someone. Her nose was assaulted with a stomach-shredding stench. Mildew, sweat, human waste. She staggered back and wiped the tears from her eyes.
She didn’t remember the ear-splitting scream that people told her she made before she passed out. All she remembered was looking into the filthy face and cataract-clouded eyes of Ellen.
* * * * * *
So Ellen showed up to her own funeral. Could have been worse. She could have come to see Paige after the whole thing was over, forcing her to have to tell her family that her best friend was back from the dead and they’d write it off as a fish story, and it would be like that scene from THEY LIVE where Roddy Piper just couldn’t get anyone to see for themselves that he was telling the truth.
Ellen had finally made something easier for Paige. They all sat in the ER with noises and faces much like the ones at the funeral.
Family got called to come back and see Ellen first. Paige’s heart was in her mouth as she waited her turn.
“Paige Fisher?” the nurse called next. Paige was startled and jumped to her feet.
“You can come back now.”
She was trying not to run. Ellen’s family briskly walked past her in the narrow hall.
She was led into a room and there she was. All cleaned up, but still changed. She turned her head towards Paige revealing those eyes like milky marbles. The next revelation was Ellen’s right arm… the absence of it. Paige clamped her hands to her face, unable to take her eyes off of her ruined friend. Her cataract eyes tracked her as she crossed the room to sit on a stool.
“Ellen, it’s me,” she croaked, barely speaking above a whisper. She didn’t answer. Paige waved her hand. Ellen waved back.
“She can see you,” the nurse said. “She just can’t remember you.”
“What?”
“Amnesia. Significant memory loss and possible psychosis from head injury.”
“But I have perfect sight, Mommy,” Ellen interjected, and added nothing else.
“Her arm was lost in the mountains. Apparently severed and cauterized in the wild.”
“Oh, my god,” Paige repeated over and over to herself.
“Are you ready for The Harvest?” Ellen said, looking at Paige.
“What?”
Ellen didn’t explain.
“She keeps speaking about some sort of harvesting. One of the reasons we want to monitor her for signs of psychosis. With the exception of her arm, the only thing that really seems to be broken is her mind.”
“How soon can she go home?”
“Once we know she can walk and function, she can go home in a few weeks. Possibly sooner if there’s someone that can live with her to help her get used to living without an arm and monitor her state of mind.”
And that was all Paige needed to hear. She wasn’t leaving her friend’s side again. Ever. She visited daily. Even if it was just for a short while before visiting hours were over. She told Ellen all about their lives, especially their friendship. How it started in grade school and lasted all through college and beyond.
Ellen seemed to listen. She never said much. Nor did she let on that she remembered any of the experiences Paige related. When she did speak, it was only about the coming Harvest. How she was going to dance among the pale broken stalks as the storehouses are filled to the brim. Strange shit like that. Paige figured out before long that questions about The Harvest were the only questions Ellen would respond to. So she would ask questions, even if the answers never made any sense. She figured any workout for her synapses was better than no workout at all.
Weeks later, Ellen had some questions of her own. The doctors saw this as progress since up to that point all her cognition was reactive. She didn’t have any questions for her family. Only for Paige. This made her feel redeemed on some level.
“Tell me more about when we were young,” she would say. Vague much?
The questions never got more specific. So she’d get stories that ran the spectrum from their childhood up to their 20s and 30s.
She started asking more about their college days. Paige didn’t remember much of those days, courtesy of many mind-altering substances. She was embarrassed about what she could recall and often lied to Ellen. But she somehow knew when she was lying and called her out on it.
Those college days. Man.
Paige referred to them as their Death Days. All they wore was black. They’d get hammered, high, or both and visit art galleries in their altered states. It was Minneapolis. Art was everywhere, so a dilapidated apartment full of paintings curated by fellow college students counted as an art gallery.
Somewhere between looking at art and having “just one more,” gorgeous boys would get involved, but nobody remembered those details. Just that they had to introduce themselves when they woke up.
They both tried painting. Paige tried writing. Under the influence, of course. Everything she made was death-centric. Dying and darkness and despair, it was nectar to her drug-addled soul.
Ellen would ask questions about that creative phase. Paige was surprised to find that it made her uncomfortable to regurgitate those old, trite verses.
When you’re in college and all lit up and you have your whole life ahead of you, you have the luxury of rolling death around in your mouth like forbidden candy just to see how it tastes. After burying her father and her son and especially after almost burying Ellen, Paige no longer saw death as tragically gorgeous and poetic. No longer considered it to be the source of everything beautiful, but rather the annihilation of it. She would try to change the subject, but then Ellen would regress back to being unresponsive.
* * * * * *
Paige stood with Ellen in front of Ellen’s house. She was finally allowed to come home, provided Paige would look after her. At the sound of the door unlocking and opening, Baker ran in to greet them, but as soon as he saw Ellen he arched his back and hissed. Ellen stared dumbly at the animal.
“I guess Baker doesn’t recognize you,” Paige said, her eyebrows furrowed. She thought cats remembered their humans for life, even after they change hands.
“Baker…” Ellen mused.
“You named him after your favorite doctor.”
“I don’t remember a Doctor Baker.”
The cat fled at the sound of his name.
The two women went to the backyard where a small patio was fronted by flower beds. Ellen gazed down at the blossoms that had gone a bit wild in her absence. Paige hoped that seeing the colorful plants would reach her in some way, but she didn’t seem to register anything.
“You pulled weeds out here every evening. Sometimes I was afraid you’d start pulling up your plants if you couldn’t’ find any weeds,” Paige chuckled. Still no reaction.
Days turned to weeks as Paige guided Ellen through the motions of daily living. She never quite took to anything one hundred percent. She had to be reminded to lower her fork after taking a bite of food. She had to be reminded that she needed to make it to the toilet before she couldn’t hold it.
Paige kept trying to get Baker to sit in Ellen’s lap. He would let Paige pick him up but he would wrestle free and disappear whenever he saw Ellen.
One warm night, Paige sat next to her friend on the couch. They both watched the television, basking in its pale rays. Nothing on the screen could elicit a laugh or a cry or a twitch from Ellen. Not that night, not any night since she’d been home.
Paige fiddled on her phone and imagined how crammed her physical mailbox must be. “Okay, I’m going to make sure everything is in order at my house, then I’ll come right back, okay?”
As usual, Ellen didn’t answer.
* * * * * *
Her house was unchanged, timeless like a monument or a tomb. She sat down on her bed and suddenly felt how tired she really was. A photo album lay on a small glass bedside table. It was full of photos of the adventures of Paige and Ellen, some recent, some distant.
Her thoughts were interrupted by a knock at the front door. She stood to answer, but froze as soon as the knock came a second time. Only this time it was on the wall right next to the doorway to her bedroom. She was anchored to the spot for many long seconds. A slender arm coated in grime and dirt reached inside the doorway and knocked on the wall just above the light switch. Paige stared at it with clenched teeth. The shoulder that the arm was attached to came into view revealing that the arm was attached to nothing at all. It floated limply in the doorway. It wore a ring. One of Ellen’s.
The hand flicked the light switch off. The floor opened up beneath Paige and she fell with blinding speed into a void. The arm followed.
Somehow the arm was suddenly attached to Ellen as she lay on a raised stone platform bathed in a sickly green light. The light came from things resembling egg sacs the size of basketballs, only they were bioluminescent. They hung over Ellen from web-like strands. The platform was surrounded by… things. In robes. The robes seemed to float as if the wearers were underwater. Ellen’s eyes darted from one form to another as they loomed over her. One of them casually reached out and touched her broken arm with hooked fingers. The limb was snapped off her body like a celery stalk. The shriek of pain was almost inhuman, though Ellen was the source. Blood spattered Paige’s face. It was warm.
Warm like the sunshine that was on her cheek.
Paige’s eyes shot open. She had fallen asleep and slept all through the night. She had completely left her friend alone.
She didn’t feel like this much of a failure since Ellen’s funeral. She was out the door in an instant and sped over to Ellen’s house, rehearsing her apology. All words fled her when she arrived.
The flower beds and the grass and the trees – which had all been vibrant and lush the day before – were dead. Not just wilted. Dead. The flowers were shriveled husks. The grass was gray as ash.
“Ellen? Ellen!” Paige yelled as she ran inside the house. The door was ajar. Search as she may, Ellen was gone. Baker was curled up in the recliner where he would sit with his owner and watch TV. Something about the cat tugged at Paige’s senses. She just had to get a closer look at him. His eyes were wide open, but all the color was drained from them. His body was perfectly still. And cold.
Ellen was paying for a ticket to the very theme park where her appetite for thrills began. The girl in the window avoided looking into those opaque eyes. They were cast high up towards the looping tracks of the rollercoasters. In her line of sight, much closer, were power lines where half a dozen crows sat. Like static in a fading television signal, the sky became peppered with more crows. They circled high above, gradually lowering. The din of their voices was just barely getting through the haze of the park’s sounds. Children pointed up. Adults squinted and shielded their eyes.
Nobody was paying attention to Ellen, her blank eyes like granite carvings, a smile twisting her lips, and the vortex of the crows narrowing above her.
She breathed onto a clown that was in the middle of twisting a balloon into the shape of a dog. He had looked up to see what everyone else was gawking at. The air that came from her mouth was distorted like the air above a fire. He collapsed, several balloons flying off into the sky to be impaled by black beaks.
A woman, apparently part of a family of five including three kids, heard the clown go down. She spotted Ellen just in time for her to breathe on her and all five people wavered and fell. Five wisps of something evanescent, like vapor, snaked into Ellen’s mouth.
A middle-aged man heard the family hit the ground and he thought he was witnessing heat stroke. Then he started to feel dizzy himself, and something also left his mouth and entered Ellen’s. Confusion kindled in the crowd. People were falling with no apparent cause. The means of their death was invisible and silent. Whatever was causing the tide of death made people run, creating even more confusion. Which created stampedes. Which were far noisier and more visible than Ellen, who crept along and exhaled death on everyone she could get close to. Far too many people ran straight into her miasma of doom. The crows above her tightened into a black funnel with the tip just above her head, and the more perceptive folks in the crowd could tell that whatever she was, she was best avoided.
Kip Lancaster sat behind his usual wall of flat-screen monitors that had been jimmied into a security system. Each one had nine feeds running into them from all over the park, so the waves that Ellen was making didn’t look like more than agitation in the crowds. It took a minute to get his attention. He first saw that people weren’t just strolling around anymore. It looked like there was some sort of evacuation but nobody knew where to go. Then he saw lots of people lying down in places they shouldn’t be: the middle of roads where there should have been heavy foot traffic. Men, women and children. Had there been a bomb or something?
He scratched his beard with one thumbnail before grabbing the walkie.
“This is Kip. I think we’ve got something really bad. Lots of people down on the ground and running around. Maybe an accident? Looks scary on the monitors.”
Voices chirped back that they’d check it out.
By then there were bodies strewn about in every imaginable way. Standing in line for funnel cakes. Whirling rides were full of screaming kids because the operators were slumped by the controls, dead. Those still living were a tide of panic that knocked over vendor stands and trampled the slow and the weak.
The handful of security guards dispatched to investigate couldn’t safely get onto the fairgrounds. They could, however, see the cyclone of crows that was now a black pillar that terminated at some point among the chaos, like a great phantom finger saying YOU ARE HERE.
An older guard got on top of a vendor’s trailer that hadn’t been knocked over and looked out over the heads of panicking people. He looked through his binoculars at where the tornado of crows came to a point.
“Matthews to Kip. I don’t know what I’m looking at, but there’s a funnel cloud of crows out here and uh… shit, this is weird. It’s following a woman with… glowing eyes?”
Kip found the feed that showed what Matthews was describing and zoomed in as much as he could. The image was grainy but one thing was sure, crazy as it was. Anyone that came close to this woman fell over and didn’t get back up.
The camera picked out a clump of flowers in a planter in the woman’s path. The blossoms winked out of existence as they shriveled up.
Kip radioed out again: “Looks like she might be using some sort of chemical agent. Everything around her just dies.”
Four officers in blue uniforms converged on Ellen. Their service pistols were drawn and they yelled something to her, something else to each other. They all moved in very close. Kip shook his head.
“Tell those officers to keep their distance, for Christ’s sake. Everyone that–”
One of them made a move to restrain Ellen and this emboldened the other three to also close in. Her mouth opened wide, the video feed was scrambled for a second, and then four officers fell down and didn’t get back up. Four trails of gray pixels snaked from each body into the woman’s mouth.
Kip swallowed hard at the sight. His eyes took it in, but his brain was trying to spit it out.
“Kip here. All four dispatched officers are down.”
Kip zoomed out and was startled to see the dozens, hundreds of bodies that had accumulated while he was zeroed in on this strange woman.
“Kip to anyone still following the situation, please respond.”
There was no answer.
“Does anyone read me, damn it!”
Something caught Kip’s eye on another video feed. He had seen countless vehicles stream out of the parking lot. A civilian vehicle was heading in. It smashed through the park admission gates and slid to a sideways stop near ground zero. Another woman jumped out of it.
“Ellen!” Paige called at the top of her lungs, as she stood only a few meters from her best friend who had a black cloud of carrion-eaters twisting above her, shedding feathers like volcanic ash. The sound of their wings and their voices was deafening, and yet Ellen halted as if she could hear her name being called.
She looked at Paige.
“Ellen, what is this? What the hell did you do?”
She raised her one arm to Paige and her mouth spoke. Paige heard a voice that may have come from her friend, or it may have come from the ground beneath her feet, she wasn’t sure. But the sound made her tremble.
“Paige, baby, it’s me, Daddy!”
It wasn’t Ellen’s voice – It was her father’s. Male. Baritone. Full of the love that she hadn’t heard in years.
“Daddy..?” she whimpered.
“Mommy-mommy-mommy,” Ellen’s mouth moved again, this time with a much higher voice. “Mommy, I miss you!”
Paige reacted like she had been stabbed in the stomach. It was Bobby’s voice. Sweet little Bobby. Her vision swam as her feet couldn’t keep track of the ground.
“Oh, Sugar. Come to Daddy! We can finally be together,” Her father’s voice again.
Paige barely managed to focus her eyes to see Ellen coming toward her with a royal vanguard of crows walking ahead of her.
“Take our hand, Mommy!”
The sound of crows roared like ocean surf.
“Come on, dumpling. Daddy has waited for this for so long.”
A sob wracked Paige’s abdomen and pulled her face taut like there was a bridle in her jaws. She held out her shaking arms toward Ellen, not in protest, but in invitation.
Ellen opened her mouth wide and the air around her began to shimmer.
Pink mist burst around her blonde hair and a dark crimson spot bloomed on her forehead. She faceplanted a few feet away from Paige, revealing Kip Lancaster, holding a service pistol that had belonged to one of the fallen officers. With the crack of Ellen’s skull against the ground, the cyclone of crows scattered.
Paige registered no shock or dismay as the young security guard approached her and made sure she was alright.
Police arrived. So did the coroner. He nearly joined the body count out of sheer shock.
The scene was bathed in flashing LED lights for some time. The more officers questioned witnesses, the more insane the story sounded. One of them nervously stroked his mustache as he talked to his comrade who held a clipboard.
“Nobody is going to believe any of this, Johnson. I swear… nobody! Hey! This is no time to be smoking!”
Johnson turned to the other cop and stared at him with his mirrored sunglasses. Officer Mustache nodded.
“Sorry. I could have sworn I saw smoke coming out of your pie hole. I mean, you passed your personal record of three months without a cig, so yeah. Just trying to help.”
The computer from inside the squad car bleeped to life and the mustachioed officer ducked in to check it out. Johnson quietly adjusted his sunglasses, briefly revealing his eyes, which were as white as marbles.
submitted by craiggroshek to creepypasta [link] [comments]


2020.07.29 06:43 craiggroshek RIP Ellen

Paige watched with wide eyes as her friend was ushered into a cage with iron bars jagged with rust.
An iron arm swung the cage over the edge of the filthy fishing boat.
Paige pressed her hands together, her eyes welling with panic.
”No, please!” she pleaded. “She doesn’t have that much money. Let’s just forget about all this, please!”
The one burly man next to the crank that raised and lowered the cage shot her a look that clearly indicated how much he didn’t care about what Paige thought of the whole affair.
“Please just let her out! Just let us go!”
“Lady,” the man snarled, “you’re not the one that financed this little expedition so you’re not the one we’re taking orders from.”
Just as Paige started up with more mewling, the man hit a release next to the crank and the cage plummeted into the waves with a splash, her friend Ellen grasping the bars from the inside. Paige yelped. The chain reached its end and became taut, throbbing like a heartbeat.
Paige took a few urgent steps toward the crank operator, but two other brutish men with short necks and broad shoulders blocked her.
“You don’t listen too good,” they grunted. Paige imagined her friend screaming, struggling, panicking. Bubbles were rising from where the cage hung in the depths.
After a dreadfully long time, it was pulled up out of the water. Ellen’s wetsuit-clad body was revealed. She slid her mask and her breathing apparatus off her face and she pumped her fists in the air with a loud whoop!
Paige shaped a steeple over her nose with her fingers as she shook her head.
“Paige, Paige... I got pictures!” Ellen yelled as she held up a large waterproof camera. Paige wouldn’t even look at her.
“So how many do you think you saw?” asked the crank operator with folded arms. Excitement radiated from Ellen’s face.
“Oh, God. I don’t know. Probably six or more?”
The man nodded and shifted his fat cigar to the other side of his face.
“So that means it was a successful dive. That plus the camera rental is going to put you at about four grand.”
Ellen stepped out of the cage and handed the waterproof camera off to one of the men.
“We’ll get these uploaded and give you a code so you can access them.”
Ellen shot the men two thumbs up. She turned to Paige and gave her the same gesture. Paige just glared.
“If it’s all the same to you ladies, we’re heading back to shore,” said the crank operator.
* * * * * *
“Four thousand dollars, Ellen. Four-freaking-thousand dollars.”
“I know, isn’t it a steal?” Ellen exclaimed.
“You can’t afford that much. You could barely afford the money that got you out here.”
“Well, yeah, but you’re not exactly made of money either, and yet here you are.”
The boat they had just been on motored off into the fog.
“That wasn’t even an actual diving boat.”
“Paigey-Paige-Paige, anything else would have been much more expensive. Last I checked, a fishing boat floats just as good as any other.”
“And that diving cage. I swear to God, some of those bars looked completely rotten. May as well have shielded yourself from those sharks with a garbage can lid.”
“That only adds to the thrill of it.”
Ellen slung her bulky diving gear over one shoulder. Paige didn’t know how that slender little woman had so much strength. Any average day, Ellen Morgan looked like a mosquito with sky blue eyes and very short blonde hair.
Ellen wasted no time in adding the pictures from her dive to her social media. Horrible “fish-eye” perspective shots of shark noses, shark eyes, and shark teeth, like the animals had been looking into a funhouse mirror.
Paige’s inbox filled up with private messages from Ellen’s friends and family. None of them had anything good to say about her practically tongue-kissing the wildlife.
“What were the bars of that cage made from? Waffle cone?”
“You are keeping an eye on her… right?”
“I thought you said you were going to talk some sense into her.”
That was something Paige indeed said she could and would do… when she thought that this was just a phase. A bump on the road for a woman another year farther from her youth.
But the closer that sixty-third birthday loomed, the more restless Ellen became. It was harmless at first. There was a big amusement park nearby, clearly a knockoff of Disneyland (and a successful one) with roller coasters that never sat still too long. Ellen began riding them. No problem, right? Well, she began riding them often, visiting the park just for them. She would bring friends and ride the ‘coasters long after her friends felt like their stomachs were hanging out their noses. They waited to see Ellen look exhausted and worn out, but no… something inside her had awoken to the taste of adrenaline and it was getting a bigger appetite with each ride.
Then at one of their sushi dates, Ellen asked if the establishment had pufferfish. Yes, that pufferfish. Paige was apoplectic.
“You can’t behave like this! You’re a sixty-two-year-old woman!”
The more Paige tried to put on the brakes, the more Ellen floored the gas. She glimpsed a date circled in Ellen’s daily planner that said “Rock Climbing, Red Cliff State Park.”
Then there was a video on Facebook of someone recording Ellen diving off a waterfall into a spring.
Paige dialed up her mama hen act and demanded that Ellen never do anything like that again.
Ellen promised.
Then a month later a video surfaced of Ellen bungee jumping over a gorge.
“I promised I’d never do anything like that again! It’s different! There’s no water!” Ellen laughed in the face of her best friend who was red as a tomato.
Paige insisted on coming along on the shark dive outing just so she could cause as much trouble as possible. Well, she failed. Ellen had become a rolling stone straight out of an Indiana Jones movie: unstoppable and picking up speed.
Several months passed without Ellen doing anything else that looked like suicide wrapped in Christmas lights. Paige hoped that it was a sign that perhaps she was going to finally come to terms with the fact that there was nothing wrong with turning sixty-three and that it would be worth it to see it.
Paige had seen her father go into the ground when he was only forty-seven. She had also buried a child at only eight. Losing one more loved one, she thought, would push her over the edge.
She had gotten good at finding excuses to pay her best friend a visit and check on her. This time she was bringing over a new casserole. Ellen’s humble, light gray bungalow gave no indication of the recently restless and wild old woman that bounced around within.
The large orange cat on the porch sniffed at the familiar sight of Paige. His name was Baker, named for Ellen’s favorite doctor in the Doctor Who series, Tom Baker. One of the things that Ellen and Paige both held in common.
She smiled at the cat as she waited for the door to open.
“Are you keeping that wild owner of yours from any more crazy adventures?”
The answer came as soon as the door opened. Ellen was wearing outdoor hiking gear and a backpack that was complicated enough to have been military-issued.
Then there was the wide explorer hat on her head.
“Ellen…”
“Paige! Oh, how are you? Whatchu got there?”
“It’s a new casserole I’m trying to get the hang of. Thought I’d test it on you. Now, whatchu got there?” Paige frowned at the hat.
“Y’all can call me Dora!” Ellen said with a quick bow and trotted back inside.
Paige mouthed a silent Ah, fuck before crossing the threshold. She saw the brochure before Ellen could hide it. It was for a mountain climbing expedition in the most treacherous part of the Rockies, and the pamphlet wasn’t shy.
Reaper’s Leap: Danger, Dismemberment and Death, if You Dare!
Paige set the casserole down to arrest the brochure with both hands like it were a live fish that would wriggle away.
“Ellen Morgan!” she spat.
Dora Morgan!” Ellen replied.
“What in Mother Mary’s blazing asshole after twenty tacos is this shit?!”
“It’s a brochure!”
“You’re going mountain climbing?”
“That’s what mountains are for, Paige!”
“You’re almost sixty-three!”
Ellen twirled around the room like a child, mumbling in a deep, derpy voice, “Ewwen, yer almost sixty three, durr-durr-durr…”
Paige wasn’t amused.
“You’re gonna give me a heart attack!”
“Then you should be like me and live a little before that ticker flickers out.”
“Ellen!”
“You keep saying my name like it’s some magic word. Haven’t you noticed that it doesn’t help anything? You were saying my name over and over after my roller-coaster binge. You were saying my name over and over when you found out about the rock climbing and the bungee jumping. The nice men hosting the cage dive with the sharks said that you wouldn’t stop saying my name while I was underwater. I dunno, didja ever think that babbling my name like a parrot is only making things worse?”
Paige’s eyelids fluttered as she held up her hands and her mouth hung open. Then she pulled her long auburn hair back and held it tight.
“You almost said my name again, didn’t you?”
Ellen put one long finger to her friend’s lips before she could answer.
“You can say my name until you poop your pants. But I’m going to do what I want, like always. And this time, it just so happens to involve mountains.”
“And suicide!”
“No, just mountains.”
They argued for a good hour, something that resulted in Paige storming out of the house without the casserole, as if she were giving her best friend the luxury of a last meal, though the expedition wasn’t due for another week.
The day arrived and Ellen patted Baker on the head and whispered him a farewell. Naturally, she had talked Paige into looking after him. The double doors of a silver bus parted and Ellen trotted through as though they were the gates to heaven.
She looked at the brochure again. The front was a picture of the path they would be hiking. It looked like the road to hell. Jagged rocks like misshapen teeth awaited anyone with unsure footing. Thorny trees that didn’t offer much shade.
“Well, don’t you look excited,” said a low voice from the seat behind her. It was a young and athletic woman with a shaved head and eyes like black coffee. Her whole bearing suggested sports and adrenaline.
“I am excited! Oh gosh.”
Her name was Sarah. They chatted most of the ride and Ellen loved every minute of it.
* * * * * *
The busload of mountaineers unpacked at one of those single-level hotels that were nothing but thin walls and moth-eaten fabric. Dinner and sleep were rushed through like an obstacle course at Basic Training, and the early sunlight of the next day found everyone headed up the trail pictured on the brochure, and it looked no less infernal in person.
“We’re on an express elevator to Hell!” Ellen shouted.
“Going down!” said Sarah from a few paces ahead of her. The two women exchanged looks, verifying that they were indeed quoting the same movie, and they giggled like fifth-graders. They ascended rapidly through the toothy landscape. Mountain towns soon looked like clusters of pebbles. Ellen couldn’t get her fill of pictures, ending up at the rear of the group.
One minute the noon sun was bearing down on them. The next minute, there was the cool scent of rain and thunderheads closing in. They looked like they were great chunks of the jagged, saw-toothed mountains that had levitated into the sky where they churned with electricity.
Ellen pumped her fists and whooped at the sight. But she was the only one that thought so well of the brewing storm.
“Stay close to the rest of us!” Sarah warned. No sooner had she spoken than the rain slammed into them like a tidal wave. Their guide, the loud and jolly Roger, was swept off his feet and rolled down the face of the mountain like a meatball in a red shirt.
Lightning struck so close that the thunder felt like it was going to rattle their teeth loose. They all found themselves breathing through their mouths so they wouldn’t drown.
Sarah was sure that a couple of others had been washed or blown off the trail, but she couldn’t see who. It felt like hours before she could see more than a few inches in front of her. She renewed her grip on Ellen’s hand as they all hunkered down in place to try and ride out the onslaught.
Little by little, the rain let up.
Little by little, they could see again.
Sarah gripped the hand in hers tighter and looked over to ask Ellen if she was okay. She discovered that it wasn’t Ellen’s hand she was holding. She looked around. Ellen wasn’t with them.
They detoured down to one of the villages, a trip that took several hours too many. A search and rescue team was formed and began their grueling rounds. They found Roger dashed open like a watermelon. They found the broken remains of the scrawny college girl, flecks of her own glasses in her mouth.
But they never found Ellen.
She was someplace dark and cool where the storm reached her only as a steady drip-drip-drip in the puddle she lay in. Memories replayed themselves vividly and she thought she was reliving certain moments over and over.
The rain had sent her tumbling down the mountain. The ground had disappeared. Daylight was replaced by pure black. Something huge, presumably the ground, gave her a full-body pimp slap. The world was very still and quiet except for the dripping. This along with the smell of earth told her she had found a cavern.
She had a feeling that she was the only one who was going to know about that cavern for a very, very long time. Something rippled through her chest. A laugh? A sob? Maybe both.
She heard a far-off sound. A shuffling. She supposed that rats or cave crabs or something were on their way to strip the meat from her body. She perked up a bit when she thought she heard voices mixed in. There was no mistaking it. There were voices. The rescue team hadn’t given up on her. It surely had been because of Sarah. She wasn’t going to let them rest until they found her.
She tried to call out, but her diaphragm didn’t dare allow it, not with broken ribs against her lungs like the switchblades of a gang of robbers. It didn’t matter, they were getting closer. Strange. She couldn’t see any flashlights. Perhaps they were using night vision? She held her head up in expectation. The voices were all around her. Something about the chatter didn’t feel right and the sound began to leach the hope out of her heart.
And then all was silent. Ellen held her breath.
No pain could prevent it from coming out as a scream when vice-like hands gripped her and dragged her away.
Days later, through a mile of solid rock above where Ellen had landed, a rescuer in a neon orange vest was speaking into a walkie. He was saying that the body of the sixty-some blonde wasn’t turning up. The radio crackled back that the search was officially being called off.
The rescuer tightened his lips and nodded.
“Over,” he replied.
* * * * * *
Darryl Waltman hated delivering bad news. He had done his share of it over the course of his career, but he never got completely numb to it. He always got a little twinge, a flutter in his chest when he knew he had to make a phone call and tell someone that somebody wasn’t coming home.
He was in one of the few villages along the mountains that could get a decent cell signal. He had to stand outside the general store that was placed at the edge of town next to the hand-painted sign that said WELCOME TO WESTCHURCH. POP. 165.
Darryl tried the old blonde’s publicly listed landline first, chancing that she had some family living with her. Someone answered on the second ring.
“Hello, this is Paige.”
“Hi, Paige, this is Darryl Waltman. I’m a detective. Listen, are you family with Ellen Morgan? There’s been an accident.”
He laid the whole thing on her and she went to pieces over the phone. Something Darryl experienced many times, but again… it never got to be an easy thing.
The call ended and Darryl was free of the grieving woman who would cry her eyes out. He looked out over the land that sloped down into the base of the mountain and out into forever, paved with pines and dirt and endless wildflowers.
His stout stomach growled at him. He eyed the one luxury that Westchurch boasted: the aging donut and coffee shop. The owners, a middle-aged couple, had found a not-so-gently used neon sign on one of their vacations. It was set out in front of the dumpster of another donut shop in Detroit. Hey, maybe it still worked… and if it did, nobody would miss it. The sign did work, but it had spasms, mostly in the donut that formed the O in “coffee.” Mabel and Dave ran the generator for a few extra minutes every day so that the cells would have enough juice to power the sign in the evening and in the morning. Not that they really had anyone to show off for in a town like that but… you know. It was nice to have.
The sign wasn’t lit. Darryl squinted at his watch. Maybe they decided to switch it off early today.
A dull bell sounded when Darryl pushed the door open. The place looked vacant, but he could smell the coffee and the cinnamon, so he knew there were people here.
He sat on a barstool and looked at the old black and white television set that prattled away on the coffee-stained counter. There was a breaking news segment.
“The residents of the small mountain hamlet of Thistle Creek woke up to find that twelve people had all died mysteriously. Two of them were visiting from out of town.”
Darryl cocked his head as the screen switched to one of the locals, an elderly man that must not have been used to the sight of news equipment. He kept flinching at the microphone being shoved in his face.
“They’s just gone. Couldn’t-a been more than a day. Nobody suspicious of any strangers, ‘cause all the strangers were part of the ones that died. My brother found one body, then I found one, my sister. Then everyone’s minds are, yuh know, heightened. We all did a town-wide check and the bodies kept piling up. Looked like they all died o’ same time, but we’ll never know.”
“Mabel? Anyone?” Darryl called out. A mental shadow passed over his face.
“Hey, Dave? It’s Darryl. I need to talk to one of y’all.”
He made his way to the door that led behind the counter. He could feel his heartbeat picking up.
“How’re we doing today, folks? Lots of good coffee and donuts to fatten up the law enforcement?”
The kitchen was empty. Hints of smoke came from one of the ovens. Darryl opened the door to find some donuts turned to charcoal. Darryl never poked around back here before. But he was pretty sure that Mabel would never let that happen to the donuts.
“Dave! Mabel! Hello!”
He checked the bathroom, which was really just a closet with a toilet installed. The door was locked. Darryl pounded on it.
“Hello in there?”
There was an answer. A single dull thump.
Darryl pounded again, but the door didn’t unlock and the thump didn’t come a second time. He tore the door off of its rotten hinges and the cold dead body of Dave faceplanted onto the floor in front of Darryl’s feet. His pants were around his ankles and a folded piece of toilet paper was in his limp fingers.
* * * * * *
Paige sat in her silver BMW in the parking lot of the church, watching people go in. A breeze caressed her through her open windows. It was the only sound between the dull chiming of bells.
She didn’t want to go in.
It would be admitting that Ellen was gone.
Admitting that she didn’t stop her. Couldn’t stop her. Couldn’t talk some sense into her. She had tried and tried and tried, talking until she was out of breath and words alike. And it hadn’t been enough.
She switched on the radio.
“... piling up around several towns nestled in the most inaccessible corners of the Rockies. All of them have no trace of foul play or poisoning, yet evidence suggests that they all died at the same time. Tension is mounting as the people in these isolated settlements no longer feel safe in these places where the world’s problems usually seem so far away.”
She switched it off.
When it was clear that there was nobody else to go ahead of her, Paige went in. The sounds of bawling and electric organ blended together.
She could feel herself being speared by the eyes of Ellen’s family. She knew they blamed her. Her closest friend and confidante her whole adult life. The one person that could have reintroduced Ellen to rational thinking. Yeah. The friend that failed. Paige wanted to weep for herself as much as for Ellen. She knew it was selfish but how else could it be spelled out? What other conclusion would the family have reached? First her father and her son, and now her best friend.
The crying around her teased her own tears to the surface and she didn’t want to break down in front of all the accusing stares. She sprang to her feet and walked toward the front double doors of the funeral home.
Her tears clouded her vision so much that she was blinded long enough to collide with someone. Her nose was assaulted with a stomach-shredding stench. Mildew, sweat, human waste. She staggered back and wiped the tears from her eyes.
She didn’t remember the ear-splitting scream that people told her she made before she passed out. All she remembered was looking into the filthy face and cataract-clouded eyes of Ellen.
* * * * * *
So Ellen showed up to her own funeral. Could have been worse. She could have come to see Paige after the whole thing was over, forcing her to have to tell her family that her best friend was back from the dead and they’d write it off as a fish story, and it would be like that scene from THEY LIVE where Roddy Piper just couldn’t get anyone to see for themselves that he was telling the truth.
Ellen had finally made something easier for Paige. They all sat in the ER with noises and faces much like the ones at the funeral.
Family got called to come back and see Ellen first. Paige’s heart was in her mouth as she waited her turn.
“Paige Fisher?” the nurse called next. Paige was startled and jumped to her feet.
“You can come back now.”
She was trying not to run. Ellen’s family briskly walked past her in the narrow hall.
She was led into a room and there she was. All cleaned up, but still changed. She turned her head towards Paige revealing those eyes like milky marbles. The next revelation was Ellen’s right arm… the absence of it. Paige clamped her hands to her face, unable to take her eyes off of her ruined friend. Her cataract eyes tracked her as she crossed the room to sit on a stool.
“Ellen, it’s me,” she croaked, barely speaking above a whisper. She didn’t answer. Paige waved her hand. Ellen waved back.
“She can see you,” the nurse said. “She just can’t remember you.”
“What?”
“Amnesia. Significant memory loss and possible psychosis from head injury.”
“But I have perfect sight, Mommy,” Ellen interjected, and added nothing else.
“Her arm was lost in the mountains. Apparently severed and cauterized in the wild.”
“Oh, my god,” Paige repeated over and over to herself.
“Are you ready for The Harvest?” Ellen said, looking at Paige.
“What?”
Ellen didn’t explain.
“She keeps speaking about some sort of harvesting. One of the reasons we want to monitor her for signs of psychosis. With the exception of her arm, the only thing that really seems to be broken is her mind.”
“How soon can she go home?”
“Once we know she can walk and function, she can go home in a few weeks. Possibly sooner if there’s someone that can live with her to help her get used to living without an arm and monitor her state of mind.”
And that was all Paige needed to hear. She wasn’t leaving her friend’s side again. Ever. She visited daily. Even if it was just for a short while before visiting hours were over. She told Ellen all about their lives, especially their friendship. How it started in grade school and lasted all through college and beyond.
Ellen seemed to listen. She never said much. Nor did she let on that she remembered any of the experiences Paige related. When she did speak, it was only about the coming Harvest. How she was going to dance among the pale broken stalks as the storehouses are filled to the brim. Strange shit like that. Paige figured out before long that questions about The Harvest were the only questions Ellen would respond to. So she would ask questions, even if the answers never made any sense. She figured any workout for her synapses was better than no workout at all.
Weeks later, Ellen had some questions of her own. The doctors saw this as progress since up to that point all her cognition was reactive. She didn’t have any questions for her family. Only for Paige. This made her feel redeemed on some level.
“Tell me more about when we were young,” she would say. Vague much?
The questions never got more specific. So she’d get stories that ran the spectrum from their childhood up to their 20s and 30s.
She started asking more about their college days. Paige didn’t remember much of those days, courtesy of many mind-altering substances. She was embarrassed about what she could recall and often lied to Ellen. But she somehow knew when she was lying and called her out on it.
Those college days. Man.
Paige referred to them as their Death Days. All they wore was black. They’d get hammered, high, or both and visit art galleries in their altered states. It was Minneapolis. Art was everywhere, so a dilapidated apartment full of paintings curated by fellow college students counted as an art gallery.
Somewhere between looking at art and having “just one more,” gorgeous boys would get involved, but nobody remembered those details. Just that they had to introduce themselves when they woke up.
They both tried painting. Paige tried writing. Under the influence, of course. Everything she made was death-centric. Dying and darkness and despair, it was nectar to her drug-addled soul.
Ellen would ask questions about that creative phase. Paige was surprised to find that it made her uncomfortable to regurgitate those old, trite verses.
When you’re in college and all lit up and you have your whole life ahead of you, you have the luxury of rolling death around in your mouth like forbidden candy just to see how it tastes. After burying her father and her son and especially after almost burying Ellen, Paige no longer saw death as tragically gorgeous and poetic. No longer considered it to be the source of everything beautiful, but rather the annihilation of it. She would try to change the subject, but then Ellen would regress back to being unresponsive.
* * * * * *
Paige stood with Ellen in front of Ellen’s house. She was finally allowed to come home, provided Paige would look after her. At the sound of the door unlocking and opening, Baker ran in to greet them, but as soon as he saw Ellen he arched his back and hissed. Ellen stared dumbly at the animal.
“I guess Baker doesn’t recognize you,” Paige said, her eyebrows furrowed. She thought cats remembered their humans for life, even after they change hands.
“Baker…” Ellen mused.
“You named him after your favorite doctor.”
“I don’t remember a Doctor Baker.”
The cat fled at the sound of his name.
The two women went to the backyard where a small patio was fronted by flower beds. Ellen gazed down at the blossoms that had gone a bit wild in her absence. Paige hoped that seeing the colorful plants would reach her in some way, but she didn’t seem to register anything.
“You pulled weeds out here every evening. Sometimes I was afraid you’d start pulling up your plants if you couldn’t’ find any weeds,” Paige chuckled. Still no reaction.
Days turned to weeks as Paige guided Ellen through the motions of daily living. She never quite took to anything one hundred percent. She had to be reminded to lower her fork after taking a bite of food. She had to be reminded that she needed to make it to the toilet before she couldn’t hold it.
Paige kept trying to get Baker to sit in Ellen’s lap. He would let Paige pick him up but he would wrestle free and disappear whenever he saw Ellen.
One warm night, Paige sat next to her friend on the couch. They both watched the television, basking in its pale rays. Nothing on the screen could elicit a laugh or a cry or a twitch from Ellen. Not that night, not any night since she’d been home.
Paige fiddled on her phone and imagined how crammed her physical mailbox must be. “Okay, I’m going to make sure everything is in order at my house, then I’ll come right back, okay?”
As usual, Ellen didn’t answer.
* * * * * *
Her house was unchanged, timeless like a monument or a tomb. She sat down on her bed and suddenly felt how tired she really was. A photo album lay on a small glass bedside table. It was full of photos of the adventures of Paige and Ellen, some recent, some distant.
Her thoughts were interrupted by a knock at the front door. She stood to answer, but froze as soon as the knock came a second time. Only this time it was on the wall right next to the doorway to her bedroom. She was anchored to the spot for many long seconds. A slender arm coated in grime and dirt reached inside the doorway and knocked on the wall just above the light switch. Paige stared at it with clenched teeth. The shoulder that the arm was attached to came into view revealing that the arm was attached to nothing at all. It floated limply in the doorway. It wore a ring. One of Ellen’s.
The hand flicked the light switch off. The floor opened up beneath Paige and she fell with blinding speed into a void. The arm followed.
Somehow the arm was suddenly attached to Ellen as she lay on a raised stone platform bathed in a sickly green light. The light came from things resembling egg sacs the size of basketballs, only they were bioluminescent. They hung over Ellen from web-like strands. The platform was surrounded by… things. In robes. The robes seemed to float as if the wearers were underwater. Ellen’s eyes darted from one form to another as they loomed over her. One of them casually reached out and touched her broken arm with hooked fingers. The limb was snapped off her body like a celery stalk. The shriek of pain was almost inhuman, though Ellen was the source. Blood spattered Paige’s face. It was warm.
Warm like the sunshine that was on her cheek.
Paige’s eyes shot open. She had fallen asleep and slept all through the night. She had completely left her friend alone.
She didn’t feel like this much of a failure since Ellen’s funeral. She was out the door in an instant and sped over to Ellen’s house, rehearsing her apology. All words fled her when she arrived.
The flower beds and the grass and the trees – which had all been vibrant and lush the day before – were dead. Not just wilted. Dead. The flowers were shriveled husks. The grass was gray as ash.
“Ellen? Ellen!” Paige yelled as she ran inside the house. The door was ajar. Search as she may, Ellen was gone. Baker was curled up in the recliner where he would sit with his owner and watch TV. Something about the cat tugged at Paige’s senses. She just had to get a closer look at him. His eyes were wide open, but all the color was drained from them. His body was perfectly still. And cold.
Ellen was paying for a ticket to the very theme park where her appetite for thrills began. The girl in the window avoided looking into those opaque eyes. They were cast high up towards the looping tracks of the rollercoasters. In her line of sight, much closer, were power lines where half a dozen crows sat. Like static in a fading television signal, the sky became peppered with more crows. They circled high above, gradually lowering. The din of their voices was just barely getting through the haze of the park’s sounds. Children pointed up. Adults squinted and shielded their eyes.
Nobody was paying attention to Ellen, her blank eyes like granite carvings, a smile twisting her lips, and the vortex of the crows narrowing above her.
She breathed onto a clown that was in the middle of twisting a balloon into the shape of a dog. He had looked up to see what everyone else was gawking at. The air that came from her mouth was distorted like the air above a fire. He collapsed, several balloons flying off into the sky to be impaled by black beaks.
A woman, apparently part of a family of five including three kids, heard the clown go down. She spotted Ellen just in time for her to breathe on her and all five people wavered and fell. Five wisps of something evanescent, like vapor, snaked into Ellen’s mouth.
A middle-aged man heard the family hit the ground and he thought he was witnessing heat stroke. Then he started to feel dizzy himself, and something also left his mouth and entered Ellen’s. Confusion kindled in the crowd. People were falling with no apparent cause. The means of their death was invisible and silent. Whatever was causing the tide of death made people run, creating even more confusion. Which created stampedes. Which were far noisier and more visible than Ellen, who crept along and exhaled death on everyone she could get close to. Far too many people ran straight into her miasma of doom. The crows above her tightened into a black funnel with the tip just above her head, and the more perceptive folks in the crowd could tell that whatever she was, she was best avoided.
Kip Lancaster sat behind his usual wall of flat-screen monitors that had been jimmied into a security system. Each one had nine feeds running into them from all over the park, so the waves that Ellen was making didn’t look like more than agitation in the crowds. It took a minute to get his attention. He first saw that people weren’t just strolling around anymore. It looked like there was some sort of evacuation but nobody knew where to go. Then he saw lots of people lying down in places they shouldn’t be: the middle of roads where there should have been heavy foot traffic. Men, women and children. Had there been a bomb or something?
He scratched his beard with one thumbnail before grabbing the walkie.
“This is Kip. I think we’ve got something really bad. Lots of people down on the ground and running around. Maybe an accident? Looks scary on the monitors.”
Voices chirped back that they’d check it out.
By then there were bodies strewn about in every imaginable way. Standing in line for funnel cakes. Whirling rides were full of screaming kids because the operators were slumped by the controls, dead. Those still living were a tide of panic that knocked over vendor stands and trampled the slow and the weak.
The handful of security guards dispatched to investigate couldn’t safely get onto the fairgrounds. They could, however, see the cyclone of crows that was now a black pillar that terminated at some point among the chaos, like a great phantom finger saying YOU ARE HERE.
An older guard got on top of a vendor’s trailer that hadn’t been knocked over and looked out over the heads of panicking people. He looked through his binoculars at where the tornado of crows came to a point.
“Matthews to Kip. I don’t know what I’m looking at, but there’s a funnel cloud of crows out here and uh… shit, this is weird. It’s following a woman with… glowing eyes?”
Kip found the feed that showed what Matthews was describing and zoomed in as much as he could. The image was grainy but one thing was sure, crazy as it was. Anyone that came close to this woman fell over and didn’t get back up.
The camera picked out a clump of flowers in a planter in the woman’s path. The blossoms winked out of existence as they shriveled up.
Kip radioed out again: “Looks like she might be using some sort of chemical agent. Everything around her just dies.”
Four officers in blue uniforms converged on Ellen. Their service pistols were drawn and they yelled something to her, something else to each other. They all moved in very close. Kip shook his head.
“Tell those officers to keep their distance, for Christ’s sake. Everyone that–”
One of them made a move to restrain Ellen and this emboldened the other three to also close in. Her mouth opened wide, the video feed was scrambled for a second, and then four officers fell down and didn’t get back up. Four trails of gray pixels snaked from each body into the woman’s mouth.
Kip swallowed hard at the sight. His eyes took it in, but his brain was trying to spit it out.
“Kip here. All four dispatched officers are down.”
Kip zoomed out and was startled to see the dozens, hundreds of bodies that had accumulated while he was zeroed in on this strange woman.
“Kip to anyone still following the situation, please respond.”
There was no answer.
“Does anyone read me, damn it!”
Something caught Kip’s eye on another video feed. He had seen countless vehicles stream out of the parking lot. A civilian vehicle was heading in. It smashed through the park admission gates and slid to a sideways stop near ground zero. Another woman jumped out of it.
“Ellen!” Paige called at the top of her lungs, as she stood only a few meters from her best friend who had a black cloud of carrion-eaters twisting above her, shedding feathers like volcanic ash. The sound of their wings and their voices was deafening, and yet Ellen halted as if she could hear her name being called.
She looked at Paige.
“Ellen, what is this? What the hell did you do?”
She raised her one arm to Paige and her mouth spoke. Paige heard a voice that may have come from her friend, or it may have come from the ground beneath her feet, she wasn’t sure. But the sound made her tremble.
“Paige, baby, it’s me, Daddy!”
It wasn’t Ellen’s voice – It was her father’s. Male. Baritone. Full of the love that she hadn’t heard in years.
“Daddy..?” she whimpered.
“Mommy-mommy-mommy,” Ellen’s mouth moved again, this time with a much higher voice. “Mommy, I miss you!”
Paige reacted like she had been stabbed in the stomach. It was Bobby’s voice. Sweet little Bobby. Her vision swam as her feet couldn’t keep track of the ground.
“Oh, Sugar. Come to Daddy! We can finally be together,” Her father’s voice again.
Paige barely managed to focus her eyes to see Ellen coming toward her with a royal vanguard of crows walking ahead of her.
“Take our hand, Mommy!”
The sound of crows roared like ocean surf.
“Come on, dumpling. Daddy has waited for this for so long.”
A sob wracked Paige’s abdomen and pulled her face taut like there was a bridle in her jaws. She held out her shaking arms toward Ellen, not in protest, but in invitation.
Ellen opened her mouth wide and the air around her began to shimmer.
Pink mist burst around her blonde hair and a dark crimson spot bloomed on her forehead. She faceplanted a few feet away from Paige, revealing Kip Lancaster, holding a service pistol that had belonged to one of the fallen officers. With the crack of Ellen’s skull against the ground, the cyclone of crows scattered.
Paige registered no shock or dismay as the young security guard approached her and made sure she was alright.
Police arrived. So did the coroner. He nearly joined the body count out of sheer shock.
The scene was bathed in flashing LED lights for some time. The more officers questioned witnesses, the more insane the story sounded. One of them nervously stroked his mustache as he talked to his comrade who held a clipboard.
“Nobody is going to believe any of this, Johnson. I swear… nobody! Hey! This is no time to be smoking!”
Johnson turned to the other cop and stared at him with his mirrored sunglasses. Officer Mustache nodded.
“Sorry. I could have sworn I saw smoke coming out of your pie hole. I mean, you passed your personal record of three months without a cig, so yeah. Just trying to help.”
The computer from inside the squad car bleeped to life and the mustachioed officer ducked in to check it out. Johnson quietly adjusted his sunglasses, briefly revealing his eyes, which were as white as marbles.
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