Mulle passioner

So long, and thanks for all the fish

2020.11.26 11:57 Orkfighta So long, and thanks for all the fish

tl;dr leaving for good this time
I think its been pretty obvious from the beginning of this iteration that my heart really hasn't been in it. When I first started writing here I had passion and couldn't wait to get posts out and enjoy the world and setting. As the iterations and years progressed, however, this passion faded. As early as 5.0 I found myself struggling to get out replies, most being very uncreative 1 paragraph ones.
I left for the first time at the end of 7.0. I didn't even intend to stick around until Mudd convinced me given the setting was that is was a rehash of the one I played first here. But, even then, my heart wasn't in it. When it ended, I had a strong dislike for the setting for 8.0, and given the people I was closest too here were moving on so I did too. I was starting a new chapter in my life, so it seemed perfectly timed.
Then I heard about 9.0 and the fire was lit once more, only to quickly smolder like a firecracker. I thought with some people I had known for the old days taking the reigns in 10.0 would draw some sort of inspiration, but sadly it did not. The main thing that kept me going was the the people I was connected to with Reyne lorewise were people I was friends with and could vibe with. But as they became less active writing wise so did I. And when Kyle left, it really started to make me consider the same.
I realized then that what I had found here at ITRP was gone. The big thing that inspired me were the people around me. But, like every community, faces change. New ones arrive and old ones leave, and I found myself vibing less and less with the new. Maybe its cause I was looking for different things in the RP. Maybe its because I'm a good standard deviation above the average. Maybe its cause I've grown less interest with AWOIAF.
This hasn't been an easy decision to make. As some of you are aware I am pretty passionate about George's world and this place. I've made my mistakes, and to some have probably come off as standoffish and an asshole. I've always acted in what I felt was the best way to preserve what I found here, but lately I've realized I need to step aside and let the train pass me by. I can't stop the change or progress the community of now wants and desires. Like many others I used to write alongside, its time to move on.
I've been mulling over this for a good month now. I didn't expect to come back to ITRP, though I'm happy I did. Although I personally don't like a lot of the changes to mechanics and the direction things are heading in that regard, im happy to see the community more engaged with them and strides made to meet this wants and desires. I'm not gonna wave my stick at them anymore; if thats what the community wants, then that's the right move. What this place has is special, and I can't be mad at that anymore.
It saddens me to also leave my characters this iteration unfinished. I failed to accomplish a tenth of the things I wanted to with Cedrik, and apathy led me not to finish my plans with Roote. I had schemes and betrayals planned from their inception, but never had the motivation to progress them, making them feel flat and uncreative and boring, which I apologize for. I was looking forward to what I had planned, which I hoped would add some spice to the story.
I'll always cherish the times I had writing here and the improvements I've made as a writer. From the Saga of Brandon Mormont and Corrin Stark, the hunt for bright roar, my many failed attempts at restoring the Ghiscari Empire, the riverlands of 5.0 and the bone gang, I have had a hell of a ride. But it's time for this cowboy to move on.
Its time for a change of setting, and I don't plan on coming back. Maybe I'll see some of you in a different community. Maybe I'll see some of you online. Maybe this is goodbye. Just keep doing what you're doing, and always strive to have fun and improve yourself.
Until next time
submitted by Orkfighta to ITRPCommunity [link] [comments]

2020.11.26 01:43 Mysterious_Memory209 The other day at school one of my closest friends told me that I have no personality and that I’ve only depended on my looks my whole life. It’s been bothering me for a while that she would say this but that may be because I can’t help but think that she’s partly right.

I admit that I am pretty reserved at school. I don’t talk about my self much and prefer to just get on with my day. I do like listening to people and giving them advice though. I don’t really feel the need to go out of my way to be funny to people I don’t know well (but that doesn’t mean I haven’t had my moments). I don’t voice my opinion a lot unless its something I’ve truly thought about/means something to me. I’m usually a combination of tired, bored and or sad for no reason so I never have the energy to make friends with people in the first place. Every time I do speak to people I don’t know well I can only think of generic things to say and ask. People used to often say that I was quiet but I never minded and I believed that I’d grown out of that stage. All in all it’s safe to say that I’m socially awkward when it comes to people I’m not comfortable with.
I always sit with this one girl in class who has an outgoing/fun personality which I admire (though I’ve never felt the need to copy it because I was satisfied with how I was). We always have fun together and I like how creative we both are. Our energies usually either match or compliment each other. We also have a lot in common so I really feel like I can somewhat be myself around her. But I couldn’t say the same for my other friends who I have a hard time talking to openly.
I’ve been close friends with a group of girls for a few years and I thought we had a pretty good dynamic going on. For the past few weeks I’ve been perfectly content/enjoyed my school life just sitting with one friend and hanging out with my friend group during break times. I never thought there was an issue with my personality until one of my other friends pointed it out a few days ago.
During our lunch break in a conversation with my friends she told me something along the lines of “You have no personality because you’ve been “pretty your whole life” and “have never had to depend on your personality, only your looks”. Then another friend tried to ask about her personality to which she replied “I have a great personality” and the other friend said “doesn’t that mean that you are ugly” and she said “yeah I am” and proceeded to say that all ugly people have a personality and all pretty people have no personality.
This really hurt me for some reason because I’ve never once thought that since I am pretty I don’t need to have a personality or that I have zero personality. Heck, I didn’t even think I was that pretty until she said so. I was just so surprised that she said something like that unprovoked and not even in a joking way.
At school I don’t actively think about my looks and I truly don’t think that being pretty has helped me socially. I’m still awkward around people and I’d be in the same situation even if I was less attractive. No one normally tries to make friends with me or anything and as I said I’m perfectly fine like that. I’m rarely approached by the opposite gender either.
The girl who said this is someone who rarely ever talks to me one on one. She has a very direct and critical manner of speaking so when I’m around her in a group I prefer to not say anything that could set her off as she attacks anyone for the slightest things. Shes also very opinionated and focuses on looks a lot. She insists that she’s ugly and doesn’t believe anyone when they compliment her. Everyone in our group has kind of accepted how she is, but still it’s never sat right with me. I have never said anything though, in fear of starting an argument. I actually try to avoid her most of the time. In the past shes always had the ability to brighten or destroy my mood in an instant. Out of everyone she compliments me the most, either on looks or how smart I am, which makes me feel good about myself because up until recently I always thought that I wasn’t good enough. She’d also ask about how I was doing and if I was okay with real concern. But at the same time whenever I said something she didn’t agree with she would immediately attack me, yell at me, swear at me, call me stupid, bring up something hurtful from the past that she knows will injure me, or even hit me (not hard though). This really used to hurt me and destroy whatever confidence I had. So I’d basically learned to not really express myself around her and still be able to secretly stick to what I believe is right. Up until now whenever she insulted me it didn’t affect me much, I was used to it after all - and so was everyone else. It’s just funny because whenever I seemed down she would ask me if I was okay, when the ONLY time I was ever stressed, sad, upset or tired was because of something she had said.
I have things that I like. I like video games, reading, writing, languages, art, anime, Star Wars, Korean dramas, Disney movies, history, being in nature, classical music, animals, documentaries, skincare, business, spending time with people I care about, Switzerland, cats, geography, fashion, volleyball, tennis, architecture, tiktok, sweet foods - the list goes on.
I treasure these things and rarely ever talk about them in school BECAUSE I treasure them. I don’t want other people to shun me for what I’m passionate about because in the past that’s what has happened. Maybe that’s why it seems like I have no personality. I just don’t know.
Almost all of the things I like I’ve only ever talked about at school with that one friend I’m always with and sit next to. Almost all of these things I’ve never talked about with the girl that said I have no personality. I feel like no one really knows me at school because I never talk about what I’m interested in. Even outside of school I don’t talk much about myself. Maybe I’m insecure and care too much about how other perceive me. That’s why what a person who I’ve never shown myself to thinks that I have a bland demeanour.
I just want to know, do I have a personality? If a personality is what other people see and I never show it, is mine truly nonexistent? Is what I like my personality or do they not count? Do I need a personality for these people at school who don’t care about me? Is it okay if only my family friends, family, cousins, closest school friend and online friends know how I really am? Am I generic? Is that okay? Do normal people think I’m boring? Do the people that find me attractive think I’m nothing besides my looks? Do potential friends think like this before I get a chance to know them? If I’m in a relationship with someone who I’m scared to express myself in front of at first will they get bored of me? Is that girl right or is it just her personality that suppresses mine? Is this going to be my life? Will people conclude that I’m pretty and nothing else? How do I fix myself and overcome that prejudice? How do I make an impression? Is it okay to only show myself to the people I value? How will that affect me later on?
I’m not extremely funny or extremely nice or extremely brave or extremely loud or extremely good with words or extremely chill or extremely opinionated or extremely confident or extremely caring or extremely grounded at school. Deep down I’ve always known theres not much to me. I live in my head until there’s an outlet for all my thoughts, which only happens occasionally.
Do I need to change myself?
Sorry if this is overly long and confusing, I’ve just been mulling over it for so long. I’m stuck.
Also sorry if I posted this to the wrong sub reddit.
submitted by Mysterious_Memory209 to socialskills [link] [comments]

2020.11.24 15:24 Polendri Any other devs feel like their passion for coding is unfulfilled due to having no energy left over after a workday building someone else's project?

I've been a dev for nearly 8 years now and by all accounts I have a great job: pays well, remote, tons of freedom (both technically and temporally), relatively recent tech (which is all you can really ask for), the end products feel like they have value etc. But even if I imagine an even more perfect job, I still don't think I could ever have the passion for it that I do for my own projects; it's never going to be the application I want to work on, AND in the language I prefer, AND have the project priorities I value, AND make the time/quality tradeoff I prefer, etc. Which is OK, a job is a job, I'm quite content if "somewhat pleased" is the best I feel doing it.
The problem I've had, quite persistently over these 8 years, is that it's really difficult to keep coding when you've already been doing it for 40 hours that week. I don't think it's even a particularly healthy thing to do, not just because it means more time staring at a screen, but also because it makes for a pretty one-dimensional life. As I start a family and recognize that my spare time is going to drop significantly, I know there's no way I can just code some more.
And yet (and this is where it gets real quarter-life-crisis-ey), if I don't, I feel like I'm gonna retire someday feeling unfulfilled in some pretty significant ways. It's pretty depressing to find a passion for a skill and get extremely good at it, only to ever use it to build things you don't care about for other people. I imagine anyone with a career in a "creative" skill (e.g. graphic design) wrestles with the same things.
It makes me mull over some of the more extreme long-term career options. Should I switch careers to something different enough that I can come home ready to build something? It would almost certainly be less lucrative, so instead should I just stick it out and save aggressively so that I can be functionally retired early enough to have some good years of doing what I want? Should I find a unicorn job that lets me work half-time? Should I try to side-hustle a hobby project into a business?
I have no idea really, so I'd be curious to hear from anyone else who feels like they're in the same boat, particularly older devs who have had more time to find their balance.
submitted by Polendri to cscareerquestions [link] [comments]

2020.11.24 01:50 Mode_Anxious Help me solve me!

Describe yourself in as much elaborate detail as possible (that still renders you anonymous, or to a level of acceptable comfort)
I’m 35 yrs old – single mum with a strong self-preservation instinct. I’m opinionated, judgmental, crass, blunt, angry – and then I’m clueless and don’t understand what’s happening in the moment until 10 minutes later. My tongue is ruthless. I’ve been told that I’m funny and witty but I’m just being honest. I would definitely point out that I used to be nice (accommodating even) and perfectionist… but bitterness and rawness have taken over since the divorce. Apathy and jadedness now rule. I like things scheduled but have learned to loosen up and be more in-the-moment. I like checking things off a list and prefer a clean environment.
I was an athlete for 16 years and competed collegiately. I can dance. I love passionate art with bright colors (viewing, not making).
I’m allergic to cats and dogs and can’t sing.
Why are you interested in knowing your type?
Because I’ve always been stumped. I feel blind. The ditz in me wants to know. When I land on a possibility, something in me rejects that answer. I’m also interested in growth and direction, something I feel the mbti and enneagram can provide… IF you know which one you are. So, if you can tell me which enneagram I am, too, that would be great📷.
Do you go to work and/or you in school? If so, what field/occupation/subjects?
I’m an accounting administrator with a BA and MA in History.
Describe your upbringing. Did it have any kind of religious or structured influence? How did you respond to it?
I grew up in a very religious home (Episcopalian). My parents had 9 children because they didn’t believe in birth control. I was homeschooled the whole time. It was a rough upbringing but I was a true believer for awhile. I rebelled in adulthood and have felt that my childhood set me up to be a late bloomer. I am now agnostic and only have one kid (nada mas).
Do you need logical consistency in your life?
I need people to tell me the truth... or else.
How curious are you? Do you have more ideas then you can execute? What are your curiosities about? What are your ideas about?
I am curious about everything because I feel lost or unaware of what is actually going on. I always feel a bit foolish because I catch on to idioms, jokes, and every-day banter pretty late in the game. I am a daydreamer but have no intention of manifesting anything. I don’t feel that would be safe or practical. My curiosities are to do with mbti, personality differentiations, and enneagram. I’d like to figure out the secrets of the universe so as to avoid calamity.
If money was not an issue, what careejob would you have?
Are you a free spirit or do you play by the rules? If so, why?
Free spirit obsessed with structure📷
If I asked you to take a shot with a football how would that make you feel? Would you be able to do it well? Would you enjoy it?
I would enjoy it; though every other one might go askew.
If I asked you to write me an essay, would you enjoy it? What would it be about? How would it make you feel?
Sure – as long as I could write whatever I wanted. It would be about deep shit and sardonic humor. I would feel great – a release – but publishing it might be a different story.
Is it okay to crack a few eggs? If it makes an omelette? Do the ends justify the means?
Do you put things back in their proper place?
Absolutely. In fact, if you sit in my spot on my couch or mess anything up in my house I am extremely upset. Everything has a place.
How do you behave around strangers, acquaintances and friends?
I’m stark quiet unless I force myself to speak up. Socializing is quite painful unless it’s with a close friend. And those are rare… I don’t often feel comfortable easily outside the house – it takes me forever to feel comfortable with someone.
Do you have exquisite tastes that you would expend effort or money for?
Yes, food and beverage.
How do you act when others request your help to do something (anything)? If you would decide to help them, why would you do so?
I am annoyed and then begrudgingly helpful to save face.
How long do you take to make an important decision? How would you go about it? And do you change your mind once you've made it?
It used to take me forever to make a decision but now I’m quite fast. I mull it over and go with what feels right. I change my decision if the reality of the decision bites.
If I asked you to design a plan of action, would it be easier to work alone or in a group? Do you ask for others opinion? or stick to your own guns?
Alone. Half the time I stick to my own guns, half the time I’ll ask one or two trusted confidants.
A weekend best spent looks like ...?
A staycation – with a few meetups – gym, a close friend, a zoom chat with the fam – nothing chaotic.
My biggest fears are ...
Racism, accidentally killing someone with my car, being raped, losing my security (my job), irrevocably hurting the relationship with my daughter
How much do you express yourself and what mediums do you do that through? Art? Writing? Talking?
I express myself verbally with close friends or by myself through free-lance poetry. And then I delete the heavy stuff.
Generally where do you lean politically? Is it every man for himself? Should people be pragmatic? Does the government need to step in and help people?
I always land slightly left of center, both sides of the equation bring something important to the table. Reality mixed with sentiment I suppose.
Does it matter if something is factually correct for you to believe in it?
Are emotions/feelings an important aspect of your life? If so, then why?
Yes. I feel and then release to stay healthy. It’s logical to feel.
How attached are you to reality?
Quite. Theory is lovely but I always feel like I have a hangover headache afterwards. Fantasy is lovely as a little tune-out when needed. But real things are beautiful, especially nature.
How thick skinned are you? Are you sensitive to criticism?
I am easily hurt.
submitted by Mode_Anxious to WhatsmyMBTI [link] [comments]

2020.11.23 08:42 ricecooker1234567 The smallest things send me into a spiral.

I got a job offer, and the salary and hours wasn’t even close to what I was looking for, so I turned it down. But it took me a whole weekend to mull over it and think, what if I was giving up on a good opportunity? But I don’t even like that job, nor do I want to do it, it was just a safety net for if I couldn’t find a better job.
Now, what do I do if I actually can’t find a better job? And what do I even WANT to do? And why did it take me 3 days to make a decision? I’m an adult, I can do better than this. Now I have no salary and just a feeling of emptiness. Like everyone else in society can function except me. Like everyone has some passion in life except me. I just want to lay in bed for a week or forever.
submitted by ricecooker1234567 to depression [link] [comments]

2020.11.22 09:27 MISS_PLUMM I'm Emotionally Trapped In My Relationship

I met my boyfriend on a dating app July of 2018. I live in Pittsburgh, they lived in Philly. Before dating him I had been single since 2009 (Junior Year of High School) so this was my first adult relationship. I was new at this. I had spent so long just focusing on school that I rarely ever attempted dating. A few dates here and there but it never amounted to anything. However, for some reason I downloaded one of those stupid dating apps and gave it a try. I found him. We hit it off immediately. It was uncanny how well we hit it off. After talking to one another for a couple months and finding that we were basically the same person I decided that in November I wanted to visit him in Philly for a weekend and see if the magic was still present in person. It was. He was so kind and gentle and treated me so well. I could feel myself easily falling for him. After returning home I rescheduled a visit for New Years, I couldn't wait to see him again. Well, he ended up surprise visiting me the week before Christmas pretending like he was a package coming to me in the mail. He even called me to tell me the package had arrived and there he was.
He was dealing with a spotty roommate situation. His friend/roommate's ex was squatting in their apartment and his living situation became very shaky. His friend ended up telling him that he was no longer going to pay the bills or rent so he needed to find somewhere to go. He was devastated and lost. I didn't drive so I had no way of helping him, so I did something I never thought I would. I asked my two roommates if he could move in with us. Now mind you, my roommates are already a couple and we only have 1 bathroom in our apartment. They were hesitant at first but eventually said that he could stay with us for a while until he could find an apartment in Pittsburgh. So come January 29th my best friend did me the biggest solid in the world and helped me move my boyfriend from Philly back to the Burgh. It wasn't ideal. We had only been dating for 3 months known each other for less than a year, but this was someone I was passionate about. My mother taught me that we need to do what we can for those who are in need because you never know when you'll need a hand. So I'm a freaking empath to boot. When he first moved he had a LOT of things in bags that we had to pile into a corner of my room until we could figure out a way to cram two peoples' existence in a small space. It wasn't ideal but I was happy to have him there with me.
We struggled for a long time after that. I was working at a Marathon gas station getting paid 9.75 an hour for 50-60 hours a week. We struggled to find him a job. He was a home health aide back in Philly so we were looking for something along those lines but nothing was coming up. This is when my first red flag presented itself. I had many friends who worked at bars in the city and one of them happened to be a manager looking for a fill in bouncer. My boyfriend is a big guy and all he would have had to do was check IDs at the door and keep post there. Simple, off the books, come as you please type of gig. He wouldn't do it. He had a home health aide job lined up and had been waiting nearly a month to be placed with a client within distance of our apartment. He wouldn't do it. There was a resistance. I finally convinced my manager at work to let him work there part time. Things were looking a bit better and I wasn't stressed from working over time all the time. We worked opposite shifts but we always made sure to see one another and spend time together when we could.
In March 2019 I got into a serious argument with my roommates about him living with us. Without going too far into a completely different topic my roommates and I are complete opposites. They throw parties at the house 3-5 days out of the week and I am an introvert who likes to socialize in small controlled groups of people. We don't mesh very well. Anyways, we end up having this huge argument about the state of things. My roommates come home drunk as per usual and we had just began eating dinner, then out of no where my roommate goes off. The entire time I was getting yelled at by two drunk people he just stood there in the corner not saying anything. I had never felt so alone. They were accusing me of surprising them with the weekend that he was moving in (mind you we are almost a month and a half past his move in). I told them that I had made sure 100% that I was transparent with everything and that I didn't understand where the miscommunication happened. All the while just being talked over by two drunk people. It was a nightmare. The worst part is that he didn't want to get involved. I think deep down he might have even sided with them. He told me I must have messed up and told them something wrong, that there was no way they'd still be holding onto this grudge if I hadn't been wrong. I still to this day am affected by this evening.
Unfortunately April 2019 wasn't going to be any better. One of my roommates had apologized for belligerently verbally attacking me the night before but we were estranged now. There was a divide in the house now and I started to leave my bed room less and less. One evening, while laying in bed he asked me to watch a YouTube video on his phone. We did this all the time, he was constantly giving me his phone to watch something funny on twitter or Instagram or YouTube. Then the private message on Instagram popped up. A friend of his that he had mentioned days before was coming to visit Pittsburgh, a friend from Philly that I hadn't met when I visited him. He was excited to see him.
This message alone has changed my life since. He and his friend had been adamantly talking about having sex with one another. And as clear as day it popped up as I was watching a YouTube video just a message that said, "I can't wait to see you soon. -Heart Emoji + Egg Plant Emoji- I stopped breathing. I couldn't believe what I saw, and I didn't want to believe it. I dreaded something like this happening to me and it came to fruition. It wasn't just the one friend either. He had multiple conversations going on almost every social media app he had. I looked through his phone, while he was making dinner a read so many conversations. He was sending nude pictures of himself in our bedroom. A space I brought him into to share with me. I couldn't breathe. I still don't think I've caught my breath. After everything I did it wasn't enough. Then I began mulling it over and trying to accept what I saw. I tried to have an open mind about it. A progressive outlook.
After a month of thinking, I told him I knew. I told him that I knew and I wanted to have a conversation. I asked if I was being used that if he was using me to get out of the shitty situation in Philly to avoid being homeless. He said no. I asked if he actually had feelings for me. He said he did. I asked him if he needed to have sexual relations with other people to remain happy in a relationship. I WENT THAT FAR TO TAKE IN THE CONSIDERATION THAT MY BOYFRIEND MIGHT NEED TO LIVE A POLYGAMOUS LIFESTYLE. He said no that he only wanted me, he doesn't do polygamy. I did more thinking. He cried while I asked him questions, like he was ashamed. I told him that I wasn't keeping him there with me that if he wanted to leave he could. That he didn't need to stay with me. I gave him an out. He said he wanted to stay. So I did more thinking. I believe everyone deserves a second chance. So I forgave him, gave myself the distance that I needed. I had just started a new job, working for a medical provider so that was a good distraction and helped improve my struggling financial situation exponentially.
Things began to kinda go back to normal. I still held an awful pit in my stomach from the whole ordeal. I told myself that I would build on trust. That I was working finding that feeling he once gave to me. the rest of 2019 came to an end, and we get to January 2020. I was browsing most of my favorite drag queen's tweets on twitter when I come across something that didn't surprise me. It didn't shock me or make me feel anything really. There on twitter was picture of someone naked and my boyfriend commenting saying how much he would love to have sexual relations with them. I was at the time going to rehearsals for an Opera I was singing in. So it wasn't the right time for me to deal with relationship shit. Well it's March now, by this time I caved once and checked his phone to see that he indeed was still sexting with other men. I haven't looked since but I know. We got to perform opening night for the Opera and then COVID-19 shut everything down. My work immediately had me working from home, and now I had no escape from him. This person who everyday calls me baby, and tries to kiss me, and hug me, and spend time with me. I am no longer the whimsical, bubbly shy person that I was before him. It is now November. I have spent 254 days beside a person I am no longer in love with, and I don't know how to escape. Because deep down even though I no longer love him I want him to be okay. I for some reason feel guilty bringing him to Pittsburgh. Away from all of his friends and family for him to continuously cheat on me online with other men. I don't even know if he's having sex with them. I can't be touched by him any longer. We haven't had relations in months. He's also friends with all of my friends now, to the point where he's more friends with them then I can emotionally be. I just feel numb all the time. I don't know how to emotionally escape this.
submitted by MISS_PLUMM to confessions [link] [comments]

2020.11.22 05:20 mnbell2013 Landing a “dream job” caused me to change my major

I am 26F. About 8 months ago, I decided to major in social work with the goal of becoming a mental health therapist. While I wasn’t really that into the SWK program itself, I reasoned that it would be a good degree which would eventually lead to the grad school program I was interested in. Fast forward to a month ago, when I was hired for my first job in mental health as a phone technician at a local crisis center.
At first the job seemed like a dream. I would be working in my chosen field and gain valuable work experience. Within a week, however, I was very uncertain of this. Within two weeks, I HATED it. It’s like as soon as I started to work with the public in this capacity, I lost all interest in my program and realized that I am not cut out to do this. I don’t know what went wrong, but I know that it did and now I’m stuck here until I can find another job. I think it was that I loved the idea of being a therapist, and the reality of the work came only just recently.
I feel awful that I apparently have such little patience for working with these populations. However, I am thankful that I figured this out now rather than wasting more time and money pursuing a program that isn’t for me. I have a strong, deep passion for environmental issues and have been mulling over this for a bit, even before I started the job. I decided to change my major to environmental studies, and I’m hoping that it will give me the fulfillment I’d been seeking in the SWK program.
For now, my shifts feel like Groundhog’s Day when the same repeat callers contact us and I have no idea what to say to them this time that might make a difference. This is starting to affect my relationship because I dread each shift and come home in a shitty mood every day. I’ve never felt so ill-suited for a job before, but I can’t afford to leave before finding something else.
Thank you for letting me rant for a bit. I know this post probably comes across as bratty or privileged because I’m lucky to have a job in today’s economy, but I guess that’s why I’m posting here, to get it off my chest.
submitted by mnbell2013 to offmychest [link] [comments]

2020.11.15 03:59 lucky9904 Archibald, Kinshi Knight [Team G]

Name: Archibald Lancell
Class: Sky Knight → Kinshi Knight
Secondary Class: Wyvern Knight → Malig Knight

Base Stats:
HP: (16) + (0) = 16
Str: (3) + (4) = 7
Mag: (0) + (0) = 0
Skl: (4) + (1) = 5
Spd: (7) + (3) = 10
Lck: (3) + (1) = 4
Def: (2) + (0) = 2
Res: (5) + (1) = 6

HP: (0) + (40x2) = 80
Str: (5) + (40) = 45
Mag: (10) + (5x2) = 20
Skl: (5) + (40) = 45
Spd: (20) + (40) = 60
Lck: (15) + (15x1.5) = 40
Def: (0) + (30) = 30
Res: (20) + (20) = 40

Support Bonuses:
C: Avoid+5
B: Hit+5
A: Avoid+5
A+: Crit+5

Pair Up Bonuses:
C: Strength
B: Skill
A: Speed
A+: Speed

Archibald is an experienced (if clearly aged) knight, residing at 64 years old in total. Despite his fairly muscular stature, his face is obviously that of an older man, creased wrinkles sporting across his forehead and jaw, while a sharp, ragged beard points across his chin. His light grey hair falls gently backwards, waving down the back side of his neck.
To an extent, his Kinshi companion mimics this age, wearing feathers notably more tattered and greyed than most other animals within the active use of a soldier. Interestingly, both Archibald and his mount share similarly sharply-shaped eyes, both of which display a constant sense of caution and awareness as to their surroundings.
Wearing some Latreian accessories (such as a small, ripped flag of the empire along his wrist), Archibald has largely discarded his Latreian army in favour of heavyset soldier's armour. As such, he constantly wears his metallic armour, which displays itself with a dark grey and pale yellow colour combination. Combined with his 6'1" height and serious complexion, this likely makes him look more than slightly intimidating to the average person.

A citizen of Latreia, Archibald served as a member of the Latreian army ever since the age of 21, over 40 years ago. Along with the rest of his family, he was a devout countryman, wishing to devote his entire being to protecting the community that had allowed him and his middle-class family to do well in life, therefore serving to protect it.
Over 10 years, Archibald worked towards that goal, having a variety of adventures both good and bad. Early in his military career, he originally rode a horse but disliked how it felt to use a weapon while mounted atop one. He eventually settled on riding a Wyvern for several years, naming his wyvern 'Terrence'. During a skirmish, however, his Wyvern was fatally wounded, causing his sudden change to mounting a Kinshi as the next convenient option at the time. Even though he bounced back for his King and country, Archibald grieved for several nights at Terrence's passing, later coming to the conclusion that he would never name a mount again -- they were simply a part of the job, nothing else.
In spite of minor mishaps along those lines, Archibald came to be an impressive knight who would rise among the ranks serving underneath Emperor Luswig. Over the course of 13 years (once he had reached the age of 34), Archibald had been successfully promoted to the rank below General, and was a strong candidate to reach the point of direct interaction with the Emperor. Luckily for him, Archibald's intense passion and pride in his nation drove him to succeed and awe battle after battle, making him known for his self-risking, yet tactical, manoeuvres during battle.

…All of this crumbled as that filthy witch, Maro, instated herself as the God Empress of the nation, however. Archibald himself was not at the Emperor's side when he was slain, but quickly saw the aftermath as his comrades - those he personally knew - either suddenly defected to that villain's side, or were ensured to disappear underneath her wrath. In spite of his own tendency towards recklessness, Archibald kept his mouth shut and displayed a positive attitude towards Maro and Solism in public, but cursed them both in the privacy of his thoughts.
Suddenly finding himself locked into place, he simply continued to serve under Maro's new rule, now carrying out more 'secret' operations like scouting and reconnaissance on the people rather than directly engaging in battle. He had no idea what the purpose of them were, since Maro refused to tell his regiment any of those details, but simply kept his criticisms to himself. If nothing else, he certainly learned how to be careful under the disgusting mockery of his proud country!
Along with it, Archibald's own rank stagnated. Maybe it's because he wasn't kissing Maro's boots. Maybe it because of those looks he gave her boot kissers when he thought they weren't looking... He had no idea. But he didn't care: the last thing he wanted was to serve the tyrant.
Despite that, he continued to delude himself. Every time a comrade of his disappeared, or a human right of the people was newly abused, Archibald simply told himself, "Something will come along and fix it. I am sure of it." His own pride in his country kept him unaware of its further stagnation...
Which, of course, continued. For about 30 years after that, Archibald begrudgingly served the new Latreia and simply reminded himself day-after-day that, eventually, everything would return to normal.

This wasn't the case, obviously. As he got older and more patient with the grim chaos around him, Archibald into his despised role, keeping his head down and his weapons up when necessary. But as time continued and his eyes began to dull, Archibald and his regiment heard rumours of a certain group -- the Parangelian commander leading a group that overpowered several Latreian regiments? The Latreian diplomat being labelled a heretic? It all sounded so... Foreign. The idea that there could be conflict that was ending up against Maro's favour. Was this another scheme by that damned hag? Or something... She didn't expect?
Archibald had no idea, so kept gossip to a minimum. The fewer dissenting words he made, the better, after all. As always, he simply assumed that the work would be done by those in a far better position than himself, that change would indefinitely, eventually come.
Until, for the first time in over 25 years, Archibald was ordered to take part in a physical battle. He was to be transported and hidden near a coast in Gnosi, lying in wait for the purpose of ambushing the current enemy: the Parangelian commander and their troops!
Unbeknownst to those around him, Archibald had immediate doubts about the campaign. Was it right for him to do this..? He wanted to fix Latreia, not launch it into greater ruin! How would taking on this fight benefit them if all it did was further the God Empress's bidding? Why couldn't he have done something, anything, sooner?!
But still, he followed his orders, setting up camp at the designated spot. He was pretty sure most of the other soldiers around him weren't even damn human anymore... But that wasn't his business. What he needed to do was see this new group in action - to see if they were, truly, a group that could stop that bastard Empress.
That being said, he was certainly impressed to the Hell and back that the entire group had managed to bypass whatever Maro's scheme was (something that he obviously hadn't been let in on) and ambushed the whole group! Staying to the side, Archibald fought with his natural power and experience, staying to the side and helping escort wounded soldiers so that he could better observe the opposing team. They fought with such strength and conviction! The powerful light behind their eyes... It was a light he could remember in his own eyes all those decades ago...
He had only certain fleeting moments to be impressed by his enemy's vigour and confidence, however, as they quickly fought towards the anchoring throne. Whether or not it could be considered drastic, Archibald knew it was at this point that he had an important choice to make. Would he still oppose this new group and actively try to cement Maro's place as the leader? Or would he finally work up even the damnedest bit of courage to leave the battlefield peacefully, and aid the brave warriors in front of him?
He knew which to choose.
Many hours later, Archibald found himself in a ditch some space away, having left the battle to mull on his thoughts. He'd already came to a conclusion, of course. He just needed time to... Accept it.
Eventually standing up, he removed his Latreian garments, and ensured his weapons were neatly laid down in front of him. Simply laying his weapons at the ground outside of Crestwood Manor, he hoped he would either be eventually brought to the group that had opened his mind to rebellion, or that he would finally face punishment for the crimes that he had allowed to go on unstopped. Calmly, he spoke out to the nearby staff...
"I yield."

Additional Notes:
Often got called 'Archie' by his older friends. He never introduces himself in that manner nowadays, however.
GBA Fire Emblem Style Portrait:
Fates Sprite:
Theorycraft Link:
submitted by lucky9904 to RedditEmblemFates [link] [comments]

2020.11.14 02:03 mr_knowie A Theory on Shards (Spoilers abound!)

(This post assumes you've read everything in the Cosmere to date; be warned.)
(It's also a wall of text built of pure speculation, for what that's worth.)
After reading Dawnshard, I've been mulling over the implications of what we now know about the nature of the Cosmere and how it relates to Shards. A brief recap; we know that there are “four primal Commands that created all things”, this theory takes that at face value. We know one Command for certain; Change. In the same breath, we are told “their greatest applications (also) require Intent...” We don't know any Intents for sure, or even how many there are (or even if they're quantitative things). However, we know there are 16 Shards total; extrapolating from the Dawnshard mural, we get the impression of four groups, each further divided into four to create 16 separate pieces. I don't think it's a huge leap to assume that there are four Intents, which, combined with the four Commands give us our 16 Shards. That's the heart of my theory. If true, we should be able to categorize each Shard by a Command and an Intent.
First, we need to know what Commands and Intents are at play. We have the Command Change; let's assume for now that is balanced by some opposite. I'll call it Hold (I also considered Keep, Withstand, Status Quo, and a few more. The name is kinda tough but the meaning is pretty clear). Taking a bit of a larger leap, I propose Create and Destroy for the other two Commands. We don't have any direct evidence for either of these, but they keep a balance, and they're the first pair that come to my mind when I think of God-like Commands.
Next, our four Intents, of which we have no direct evidence that I can recall. For the theory's sake, I'll start with Passion as the first Intent. Odium, by his own words, is driven by Passion. Lacking any other evidence, I think it's a good starting point. Its opposite would be Calm. That leaves us two Intents and even less evidence as to what they could be. After some noodling with the categories and the known Shards, my theory is they are something like Self and Others (Self and Self-less? Perhaps Inward and Outward? It's a bit like Change and Hold; the words are tricky, the concept is a little easier).
With all that supposition, extrapolation and down-right guessing, we have our 16 combinations. If this theory is to hold any water whatsoever, our known Shards should each fit into one of these combinations. So, let's take a stab at it:
Change/Passion: Dominion (The best example of Domination's influence is the Derethi church, which would definitely be Passionate, and seeking to grow/Change it's influence.)
Change/Calm: Cultivation (A good fit, I think; Cultivation carefully prunes and shapes. A Calm, measured approach to Change.)
Change/Self: Ambition (Ambition is, after all, the drive to Change one's Self, or at least their circumstances.)
Change/Others: Endowment (Endowment is something you give another. In fact, that's how Breath works; it must be given. A Change given by/to Others)
Hold/Passion: Preservation (Preservation is all about the status quo, to the point he betrays Ruin to Keep Scadrial safe. Sounds Passionate to me.)
Hold/Calm: Wisdom (Not sure that's an actual Shard, but there's decent evidence for it, and it fits here. Keeping knowledge and Calmly using it is the hallmark of Wisdom)
Hold/Self: Autonomy (To Hold to one's Self; Autonomy in a nutshell.)
Hold/Others: Honor (Hold onto the oaths given to Others. Also fits with what we know of Honor.)
Create/Passion: Devotion (A tough one to fit in here. The term Devotion is a good fit with Passion, and to control the AonDor, you Create Aons, but that seems a bit of a stretch. I could also see Devotion going Create/Others, as the Seons are in service to Others.)
Create/Calm: Unknown Shard.
Create/Self: Unknown Shard.
Create/Others: Unknown Shard (or Devotion)
Destroy/Passion: Odium (I mean... yeah. Destroy with Passion. Can't think of a better way to sum up Odium.)
Destroy/Calm: Ruin (No real malice or Passion, just driven to Destroy everything)
Destroy/Self: Unknown Shard.
Destroy/Others: Unknown Shard.
For a theory cobbled together out of the bubblegum and shoestrings I have, the Shards fit into the categories remarkably well. Some Shards fit their categories better than othere, and there are several Shards that could be swapped around (I could see Dominion as Hold/Others, and Honor as Create/Others, or Dominion as Destroy/Others, and so on), but it all fits well enough that I wrote a wall of text about it.
Now, some caveats and admissions: this is all a little too neat, and somewhat contradicted WOB. First, Sanderson has said that “One Dawnshard is different from all the rest”. I could see how Destroy is “different”, in that it's the only one that ends things, but that's grasping. Further, while Ruin and Preservation are diametrically opposed, that's apparently not the case for any other Shards. Since this theory relies on balance, that could be a non-starter. However, the theory has to start somewhere; if we can't assume any balance or correlation among Dawnshards, then we have no starting point to speculate about the other Commands. They could be Change, Hop, Eat (pancakes) and Vogue, but I don't think the Shards would fit quite so well (on the other hand, while ChayShan is described a lot like Tai Chi it technically *could *be Vouging, so...).
At any rate, that's the theory I came up with! I'm sure it's very wrong, but it was fun to ponder and see how everything fit! I'd love to know what the real Cosmere experts have to say, even if it's to point and laugh and poke holes in my pet theory.
submitted by mr_knowie to Stormlight_Archive [link] [comments]

2020.10.30 23:46 RTSAddict1197 SC2/RTS Retrospective and Suggestions to Frost Giant Dev Team

Hello Frost Giant Devs and other interested parties, I would like to extend my greatest thanks for what you are trying to do in creating another AAA RTS in the 2020s. I want to assure you that you have me sold on whatever game you ultimately make, and will probably get others to buy it also.
I have played more than 30,000 competitive games of SC2 and grew up playing SC1 and RA2 among others(Grey Goo). I have played mostly in Diamond up to Mid-masters 1v1 (was GM 1st 8 seasons in Archon mode Lotv) as Terran and Protoss on the NA/KR servers. I have messed around with the Map Editor and PySc2 as well as running some basic AI programs using deepmind training maps.
By playing this much I have gained some interesting insights that I wish to share to this community at large concerning some pitfalls as well as suggestions concerning online multiplayer RTS. ( I am using SC2 as an example throughout as it's the best modern RTS)
1. Impressions of RTS and the tone of the overall product
I think that tone in an RTS is ultimately one of the most important aspects of what makes the genre most interesting. In the 90s when RTS was really catching fire, I think that the main idea was really "Go out there and fight somebody" you can see this in the CnC titles and SC1 as well as to a lesser extent AoE. Basically my point is that in it's infancy there was basically a boxing type premise... Two enter One leaves type of thing. I think this basic idea really caught the tone and wave of hyper-violent and campy 90s media.
It was a different time when people seemed more middle of the road in their beliefs and it was sort of divisive and intriguing to the people growing up with these games. To a large extent the pinnacle of RTS remains this way it's still very much a square up and beat this other player, or let's all square up and beat this other team. I think this is what has contributed to these game's successes but in many ways the world has dramatically changed since the late 1990s. I think that in many ways it can create a somewhat hostile but ultimately very competitive attitude among the players that spend large amounts of time using the product.
You may not agree but I feel like all it might be high time to augment this attitude and try to change the tone of RTS closer to accepting of people's skill and passion without forcing such an aggressive outlook. One of the main things that I think SC2 really missed out on was to make more options for varied attitudes. I think it's safe to say that Protoss was really very strong in Wings Of Liberty, I myself got to masters with a computer that had sub 20fps, and I remember thinking I have no idea what I am doing but I beat all these people that seem much better than I. When there are significant asymmetries between races/factions SC2 never allowed an expansion on this "fact", and possible resolutions for players.
What I am saying is if you make one faction stronger or have very significant advantages, why not capitalize on this with game modes. For example a 1v3 where there is a Toss that starts two base vs 3 players without mining as Terran. Just to drive the point home that this is the destructive race and these others have to build up. I feel like allowing a player to express their feelings in this way really makes for more respect between players that may start with inherent disadvantages.
Now we all know that our time is important and I can say as many of us can that it's good to help people and most of us hope for better things for our friends and families. RTS is a very time consuming practice to uphold and I know that as I played in NA severs the level of disrespect and really negativity became hard to control. It even made me think for a time that it was a normal part of online gaming to be really toxic and flame people when they went Protoss because it felt so impossible to really do anything and I had no control of a game...that I play at the end of the day after working at my job to support myself.
I think that if there were some minor mention of the plight one has as a player by showing that there are some really strong aspects of a faction you might be struggling against, it would be easier to connect with players in a healthy/positive form. Life has difficulties and there should be mention and expression of that in gameplay. But hopefully in recreation we can give players some clemency from that harsh reality (even just as a temporary alternative option to the struggle).
I have since played exclusively on KR servers and there is no disrespect (maybe due to language barrier) but it seems like a more adult mindset to take and one that you can really be proud of investing time into.
2. Increasing scope by adding Scenarios
I am not a game developer by trade but I want to bring these ideas that I have had mulling around in my head for 20 years to light so maybe you (Frost Giant Devs) can truly benefit from my 10,000s of hours playing RTS (sometimes in a way I regret).
I think one of the most rewarding aspects of playing SC2 especially the Terran race is that you can really build an interesting or well thought through base. Given the supply depot walls and liftable buildings it really makes SimCity a really interesting way to express your expertise.
It took me(not a joke 30,000 games) a long time to really come to terms with the idea that you can create a very strong defensive build ( 17cc 18gas 19/20/21 Barracks wall-in ... 4factory) that can if you play against Zerg sort of change the tone of the game for me as a Terran player into a fortress defense. This strat allows me to always feel defended and be aware of all the possible attack vectors in the early game so I can be sure to survive to 6mins where it's my game to lose. I am not a Progamer, and I think a lot of people love this game and peak but still want to play due to changing priorities. My solution is this, why not have some mission based game modes?
Two ideas I have in mind (using SC2 as an example)... 1st imagine a game where the goal of the players is different, bear with me... You could do something like have 1 Protoss that is behind a map feature with it's 1a army ready to go wreckface, 1 zerg with a bunch of money but no larva ready to get really huge, and 2 terrans trying to mine a certain amount of minerals. In my mind they don't even need to be allied and the two terran could be on an "implied team" but might be able to compete for resources.
2nd idea... Imagine a fortress map with Terrans having a simple base provided with some other player tasked at the start to overrun and destroy a key structure ( think muta waves flying into a defended area or cloak banshee/wraith making attempts to destroy air defenses)In a way this could allow slower or less dedicated but more experienced players to focus on a smaller subset of gameplay and remain competitive but also be able to continue to work for the meta-development of this amazing idea(RTS).
3. Radical ideas concerning gameplay
Another thing I have been thinking about that I don't see much mention of this why can't there be ( given my idea of mission modes) some sort of set up phase. I have seen that in SC2 custom maps you can pause the game and still issue orders to units. Imagine a 30sec window where both players can use this time to build a plan and place buildings for the initial roll-out portion of the game. Now this could be totally planned like in the first 30 sec of gameplay, sort of like the countdown timer in Sc2 Ladder currently.
Or in my mind you could do this when some mission specific building is constructed by announcing it to all players, or potentially some other map feature and associated triggers. So much of Sc2 is just a build order loss especially when you get to the higher leagues if you are trying new things. To this day the best way to plan out a base on a map in Sc1/Sc2 is just start a custom vs an easy AI and hope you can just remember this all the time. In the split second it takes to realize you are on a given map, imagine how much easier this would be to learn and replicate with 20-30 sec of frozen units for planning. I for one think it would be interesting to have features that would at times change the constant rate of amortization of time in RTS.
This would work with my ideas of mission maps more than square up style 1v1s/team games. I think there is a lot of interesting content that can be created if we think, literally not every person is gonna win in a fight over the long run it's just not a completely natural take on the human psychology. And potentially if you can add some other things people can be good at and show they are competent in I think it would be better for everyone.
One last even more radical idea! -- I know that financial stability and viability on the market is more important now than it ever was for RTS... since I crossed over to my late 20s I don't really want to just grind a million games of SC2 and lose a bunch to the same stuff(I still do...but..) It makes it difficult to take this seriously.
Imagine a system where by you could control in-game currency and you could have some modes where you gather in a safer environment and it's more like a tutorial/ARAM mode(LoL reference - a simpler game mode for casuals). Then you could have a more competitive side to it where you need to wager some portion of this currency to play against other players on a more aggressive or contested setup.
One of the things I really couldn't stand in Hots and Lotv was that I could beat a protoss every once in a while and I would absolutely play an immaculate game that was really successful in my eyes...But they could just robo all in or Dt or oracle or 4gate me with basically no way to stop it and it's like ok I win 2/5 at best. If I was wagering something other than my time, it might make it more exciting to try to beat this race I have a strong losing history towards. You as Developers could also use this to cushion the sharp edges of competitive multiplayer by adjusting the amount you stand to gain or lose based in your historical winrates.
In addition! this could be a revenue stream for streamers and proplayers, and in a much smaller way maybe even just normal regs(almost like Global Poker where you have "sweeps coins" that are given in small numbers daily so even if you are not playing for cash you are playing with the same level of competitive and competent players **using the same currency**). Really think about this! please!
4. My 2 cents on good but failed RTS games in 21st century
I just wanted to briefly mention Grey Goo and my take on this game and it's downfall. I really loved this game for one reason - the Goo Race, it was really fun to play and had unique mechanics. One reason this game failed is that they gave every race a starting unit and a resourcing building but in a materially unequal way.
The starting unit for Goo called the drover was 1/4 the power of two of the other races. In fact you couldn't even make 1 of these units as they spawned as groups of 4, much like a zergling(2). So it basically developed to the point where the other races realized they could just scout and kill you and you were totally in a corner economically at all times. It's like giving a Starcraft player 1 marine or 1 zergling or 1 zealot to start the game.
DO NOT make some random strength mechanic that destroys the creative ideas that make your game great (in this situation the actual namesake)
If I can sum up what makes RTS fun it would be "Projection of Power" and you don't want the idea you are proposing to be a forgone conclusion.
I wish you the best of luck and am eagerly awaiting more news and where and when I can buy this game. I hope you like these ideas!
submitted by RTSAddict1197 to FrostGiant [link] [comments]

2020.10.27 19:46 SabatonBabylon [OC] Chronicles of the Siren War [Chapter 65]

Previous First
A/N: Please consider supporting my writing efforts on Patreon. You can follow this story and be alerted when new chapters release via
“We’re all set, Commander. Everyone who participated in the Midway defense operation will be recommended for a battle star, with purple hearts for the wounded. It’s certainly unorthodox given how rapidly our bodies repair themselves, but I approve. At a minimum I will do everything to ensure Cassin is awarded one,” Brooklyn insisted, reading through page after page of slightly yellowed paper that she and Thorson had been working on through the morning and into the early afternoon.
“Very good. Here are the supplements,” he replied, offering her a smaller stack of paper. “First there is an equipment and supply request, followed by my pipe dreams.”
Brooklyn laughed politely, looking over his specific recommendations. “Navy Crosses for Tennessee and Arizona, a Distinguished Service Medal for South Dakota. If anything, Commander, your request for a Distinguished Flying Cross will be the most difficult as Ark Royal is not a part of our armed forces, but I will submit it anyway. I think we all understand the day would have been lost without her aircraft.”
“I don’t know what the protocol is in the Royal Navy or if I’m authorized to dispense honors myself, but I’ll ask Warspite if we meet again. Lord knows Ark deserves it. Can I get you anything from the mess hall, Brooklyn?” he offered politely, grabbing his cap from the table.
“No sir, but thank you. I’ll head down there myself. I know we’ve hardly been at play here, but I think the others would enjoy a bit of attention after the battle. Are you well?”
“I am as well as I could be. I think I’ll go take a walk then,” Thorson agreed. She smiled.
“A splendid idea. Farewell, Commander.”
As Thorson stepped out into the sunlight of another summer Pacific afternoon and glanced around his base, a curious sight met his eyes. The large, garage-like doors to the base’s laboratory had been opened, and he thought he saw Downes’ short, ashen hair before she disappeared inside. Her ship was not being repaired at the time, and Thorson couldn’t help but wonder what business she had there. A quick jaunt down the stairs was more than sufficient to answer the question. Several faces from the Union greeted him when he stepped inside the labs, though they were hardly engaged in labwork or resupply.
“Commander Thorson, do you need us?” Maryland asked, seated around an expended oil drum with Z23. The latter was assisting her with a couple sketches that Thorson quickly realized were tattoo stencils. Nearby, Tennessee was seated on a padded chair, her left arm exposed and out of her uniform. The straps of her black bra were absent as well. From his vantage behind her, the Commander noticed a single, small black Sakura flower had already been inked onto her skin by West Virginia, with a second in progress. The meaning was clear enough, markers signifying her triumphs over enemy kansen in battle. The girls stopped their work and glanced his way, joined by Pennsylvania, Arizona, and their complement of Sakura tagalongs. Fusou and Yamashiro were at the shrine, but Shigure had decided to hang out with her friends. Based on the argument he’d overheard shortly before entry, it sounded like Yuudachi wanted some ink of her own, with Pennsylvania opposed.
“What’s… going on here?” he asked, more surprised than anything at the sudden appearance of a body modification shop set up in the midst of his shipyard.
“A bit of weakness, if that’s what you want to call it,” Colorado proposed, standing and tapping West Virginia on the shoulder. The younger sister nodded and undid her cape, allowing Thorson to see hints of what had to be a massive tattoo spanning the width of her upper back, likely an eagle or some other bird of prey. “She got it stateside and, well, no one really felt like sleeping last night so we got to work instead. More than a few of us in the onsen wanted something of our own. We tried to find you, but we couldn’t.”
“I was engaged in… something similar,” Thorson murmured, making every effort to not meet Tennessee’s eyes as she watched from over her shoulder. “It’s no problem, everyone. Just, dare I say keep it respectful?”
“I will ensure all designs are appropriate, Kommandant,” Zed assured him, clearly fitting in much better with some of the other ships after spending time with Maryland. He nodded to her in thanks.
“So what’s been the best one so far?” he wondered.
“Well we just got set up really, thanks to Akashi. Tennessee is the first, but Downes will probably take the cake if she goes through with putting studs in her nipples,” Maryland guessed offhandedly, causing most everyone within earshot to stare at the destroyer. She’d been reviewing some of the stainless steel piercings put together overnight. One already graced Shigure’s left ear, a simple stud. Thorson could only imagine the losing battle Pennsylvania would be facing if she insisted on saying no to Yuudachi.
“Could you not?! I never said anything about going through with it. Was just a stupid thought,” Downes muttered, her initially combative voice fading throughout the sentence. Her friend came to her aid.
“If that’s what she wants then let her have it in peace. She and I killed plenty of people, and at least she’s getting laid. There will be someone to appreciate your handiwork, Colorado. Just keep your hand steady,” Tennessee sniped from where she remained seated, arms over the back of her chair and seeing no need to face her lover from the previous night. Downes looked a silent thank you her way as Thorson decided it was best to have his say as well, before anything truly outrageous happened.
“I’ve given you all a lot of leeway in terms of repairing your ships, training, and combat readiness. If you exercise the same judgment here as you do in other aspects of your life here on base, I don’t think we will have any problems, including with Downes’ proposed… enhancements. If that’s what she and Ooshio want, privately, I see no problem with it. Anything visible while in uniform should be more modest. That’s all. Carry on.”
Satisfied smiles and curt nods of approval were Thorson’s reward for his words, and he turned to allow the girls their privacy. Those who chose to engage in amorous passions with him would no doubt reveal their body art when and if they wanted. He wasn’t sure Union brass would approve, but Union brass had just gotten their asses handed to them. He couldn’t help a small smile at the idea of the saviors of the Eagle Union being ladies with a bit more edge to them than customary. On the way out he was met by an interesting group, consisting of South Dakota, Minneapolis, Indianapolis, Portland, and Kasumi.
“Oh, are we drawing?” the little fox wondered, tracing her finger through the air as Foo created kanji with light. The other ships couldn’t see, but South Dakota patted her on the back and directed her to Nimi.
“There is no harm in asking,” the battleship encouraged quietly before turning to Indy.
“Do you wish to be marked as our sister?” she asked, prompting Portland to attach herself to Indianapolis with an overbearing hug. Minnie was able to forestall the inevitable complaint.
“You have to fully explain things, Dakota. She has a sister, just like I do. Hell, I have three of them and I wouldn’t give them up for anything. Doesn’t mean I’m going to haul them in and have them decked out in tribal markings. Oh man, can you imagine Quincy? Spirits only know she’d end up with it all over that chest of hers. Anyway, we’re not stealing your sister, Portland. We’re just acknowledging that she is like us, part of this curious little tribe that the wisdom cubes managed to create.”
“I don’t understand, what do you mean Indy is one of you?” Portland demanded protectively as Thorson and the other kansen nearby watched curiously. He nodded to the slim, short, dark-skinned woman as she glanced his way.
“You will always be my sister, Portland. Will you help me decide?” she requested. Portland was immediately over the moon.
“Yes yes, of course my dear Indy! What did you have in mind?” she asked joyfully, taking Indianapolis by the hand and leading her to Maryland and Zed’s little art station. Laffey and Javelin arrived soon after, lured by tales of gatherings and the slightly sinful art of body modification. He got Colorado and Pennsylvania’s attention before departing.
“Keep the area clean and cordoned off from the fuel and ammunition. Otherwise, this is already shaping up to be a positive addition to the base. Carry on.”
“Yes sir,” they both saluted as small cheers went up from the assembled ships. Tennessee had just finished, standing and allowing Indy the seat. Knowing he’d receive all the updates at dinner, he gave Laffey a pat on the head and departed, heading a couple berths down the docks to where the Akashi rested in port. He found California and Houston there, as well as Fredrick Miles. All saluted formally before Thorson ordered at ease.
“Any issues today?” he asked.
“None, sir. It’s a bit hot out but I’m used to it!” California replied, upbeat as always. She’d ditched the sleeves of her uniform somehow and was sipping on some of Akashi’s coolant.
“Stay hydrated. It’s been a long few days. Hiei and Hiryuu, have they awoken yet?”
“The rabbit took a late breakfast before going to sleep again. The ship Laffey defeated is still unconscious. Akashi reported her vitals are stable though. It seems she’ll live,” Houston reported.
“Very good. Carry on,” Thorson commanded before entering the prisoners’ room himself. Jintsuu had found something to read, and Kongou was seated at Hiei’s bedside. No one spoke as he looked around, eventually meeting Soryuu’s eyes. He slowly walked to the back of the room where Hiryuu remained at rest, his boots echoing loudly as everyone else observed quietly.
“You have need of me?” Soryuu wondered.
“I heard your sister woke up.”
“She did.”
Thorson breathed long and slow, considering he might receive a warmer reception from a brick wall. “I will allow you and the others to use the onsen tonight under guard. Those who wish to should be ready two hours after dinner. See to it.”
“What are you planning?” the rabbit challenged suspiciously.
“I want to see you all naked,” Thorson leered down at her, receiving a horrified and angry look in reply. “Is that what you suspect?”
“I suspect a great many things, lecher,” she responded, resting an arm over her modest bosom. Thorson laughed.
“I want you all to understand the difference between life in your old sanctuary and life in my fleet. That’s all. Don’t worry, Sakura, I’m purely self-interested. No need to suspect.”
Soryuu looked ready to go right back to war as Thorson turned his back on her and departed, but Nagara had other thoughts. “I would like to be out of this room, even if it’s for a little bit.”
“Seems too good to be true, doesn’t it?” Kongou added, holding her sister’s hand.
“Fate is cruel,” was all Suzuya could add as Soryuu swallowed her pride and privately prepared herself to protect her comrades if such a sweet temptation turned out to be the devil’s work.
“Jintsuu?” she called. “You have been here longer than we have. What are your thoughts on the matter?”
The blue haired fox looked over the top of her book. “If you intend to be weakened and enslaved by this decadence, leave me out of it.”
“You mean like the blonde-haired soldier who defeated you and nearly killed Hiryuu, that product of decadence?” Soryuu suddenly snapped. “Your mastery of battlefield tactics is unparalleled, Jintsuu-san, but do you really intend to sit here until the war is over?”
“If the alternative is fighting against our lords, then yes,” she replied easily. Soryuu fell silent, looking Hiryuu over and remembering her comment about her mind ‘clearing’ when they’d departed the Sanctuary for Midway. Even an entire afternoon alone did not seem enough time to ruminate on all she did not know.
“Hey, nee-san. Why the long face?” Hiryuu asked, groggily swimming up through unconsciousness and into the waking world again. She didn’t remember much since the pain of her shard being blasted from her body, but seeing her sister and a bowl of soup improved things greatly.
“I think you know quite well,” Soryuu insisted quietly, helping her sit up in bed and feeding her a spoonful of potatoes and carrots. Hiryuu reached out and flicked the tear from her cheek.
“I think I was awake earlier but… maybe cry after you tell me how bad things are? Anyone else get their ship cut in half?”
“Eat now. We are prisoners, Hiryuu. There will be time to explain everything in the… onsen.”
“Uh, the what?” The younger sister’s tall, rabbit-like ears twitched as she looked around. “But this is a Sakura ship.”
“It’s the Akashi, Hiryuu.”
“Oh,” she replied before another spoonful of soup was forced into her mouth. “I know, I know!”
“If you have the energy to run your mouth, you have the energy to eat and recover. Thank the gods,” Soryuu said quietly, glancing over at Hiei and Kongou. The battleship constructed by the Royal Navy smiled sadly at her. “Hiei will wake up too, I am sure of it.”
“I hope so,” Kongou replied as a knock came at the door to the infirmary. Commander Thorson entered along with Fusou, Yamashiro, Cleveland, and Portland.
“Those who wish to make use of our base’s onsen may do so under watch. Towels and other necessary items will be provided for you. If my base is not subject to damage or disruption by the end of the night I will consider extending such an offer again. Attempt to harm any of my fleet and you will be shot on sight. Have a good evening,” Thorson said before turning on his heel and departing.
“You’re sure I’m not dead, Soryuu-nee?” Hiryuu asked. Her older sister was studying Fusou and Yamashiro intently, noting the changes to both their rigging and bodies since their escape from the sanctuary months prior.
“For now, I am sure. But that doesn’t seem to mean much around here. Can you walk?”
“Is there really an onsen on this base?” Hiryuu wondered.
“I have been led to believe that is the case,” Soryuu partially confirmed, never having seen it herself. Fusou stepped in to clarify.
“I assure you it is quite real, and quite relaxing. It’s been a while, Hiryuu.”
“Fusou, I didn’t think I’d ever see you again.”
Soryuu swatted her sister on the knee before feeding her more soup as Nagara and Suzuya made ready to depart. “It is still Fusou-san to you, Hiryuu.”
“What, really? I thought we were enemies now. Did you not see her shooting at us at Midway?” Hiryuu demanded indignantly.
“I am sorry, but I doubt you’ll receive the same apology from Tennessee,” Fusou replied.
“As you can see, Hiryuu, the situation is complicated,” Soryuu declared, catching Jintsuu out of the corner of her eye. “Fusou-san, are you watching over us tonight or do you have permission to bathe as well?”
“I’m quite capable of using my rigging while naked, as are my Union comrades.”
“Hey, that’s me!” Cleveland called out from the doorway. “They coming or what, Fusou?”
“Oh, and she gets to call her Fusou?” Hiryuu demanded of her sister, only to earn another swat on the ankle.
“They do not use honorifics as we do, and those two are also comrades for the time being. Now finish your meal quickly so we can accompany Fusou-san and her sister to the onsen. There is much to discuss and a hot bath sounds heavenly.”
“Commander, look at Indy! Isn’t she even more adorable now?” Portland insisted, holding her sister by the hand as the two of them came across Thorson. He was sitting on a simple wooden bench outside the men’s and women’s rooms that marked the entrance to the onsen. He glanced up from his book, noticing immediately that Indianapolis had two rectangles under each of her eyes, one red and one white. He smiled genuinely for what felt like the first time in weeks.
“She is, if you don’t mind my saying, Indianapolis. The water’s great from what I hear. Akashi’s been working on it in between visits to her ship since we got back. Enjoy it. You deserve it,” he encouraged.
“What about you, Commander?” Indianapolis wondered, a light rose on her cheeks in response to his admission that he found her cute.
“The prisoners are in there right now. It’s a difficult situation. I need airpower and the Union may not have any to spare. But getting Hiryuu and Soryuu to switch sides is probably a fool’s errand. Last thing I need is drama.”
“You’ll never escape it all, but we’ll make sure they behave!” Portland declared as Indianapolis summoned her rigging and dusted off her metal arms.
“Glad I can count on you all. See you later,” Thorson offered. He was about to go back to his reading when an unfamiliar bit of fabric caught his eye. Closing his book he stood and walked down the hallway to the courtyard. Shiranui and Yukikaze were taking tea with their sisters near a small rocking bamboo fountain, another of Akashi’s tinkerings to add to the aesthetics of her dormitory in what was becoming an all-out war between Sakura and Union to have the most impressive digs. The little destroyer didn’t notice him approaching despite her cat ears, too focused on the display of sisterly affection. “I didn’t know you’d been assigned to me. I’m sorry about Yorktown.”
Everyone in a twenty foot radius looked at them as Hammann screamed bloody murder and just about jumped out of her skin. Face red with embarrassment she balled her little hands into fists and shouted. “I would never be assigned to you! You didn’t save Sims or Yorktown! You… how could you let them die when you’re so powerful?!”
Thorson absorbed that information for a moment before glancing at Shiranui. “Where is Yuudachi?”
“I will retrieve her immediately. You remain where you are, Yukikaze,” Shiranui warned, the other Kagerou sisters whispering quietly about whatever fate was about to befall their sister. A short time later Pennsylvania emerged from the onsen with a towel wrapped around her body, carrying a similarly clothed Yuudachi. He nodded to her with thanks in his eyes.
“Your puppy and Arizona’s cat seem to have… appropriated one of the Union’s kansen. See them punished but not too hard. Her ship was destroyed,” he ordered. Pennsylvania looked down at the soggy inu in her arms, whose tail hung limply with guilt.
“No meat for one meal,” she decided immediately. The destroyer flailed about in horror.
“But Pennsylvania-san-”
“Complain and it will be two,” the battleship cut her off. “Now we’re going back to the onsen to talk with Zed, Maryland, and Kasumi. I think you deserve that tattoo for defying orders in that particular way. Don’t do it again, you hear?”
“W-Wan~!” Yuudachi agreed instantly, leaving Thorson flat footed in the middle of the courtyard. Something told him Yukikaze’s ‘punishment’ would be equally light. Shiranui could not help but smile herself.
“Truly you are an idiot, Shikikan. That girl has a cube on her. It should be laid to rest,” the ghost insisted over the gentle thonk of the fountain. Thorson nodded, addressing Hammann.
“Though I’m sure this will not please you one bit, you’re under my command until we can get word to the Union. Nevada and Oklahoma were laid to rest in the shrine atop this island. Your sister is welcome there as well,” he offered, hanging his head as the little neko failed to keep any bit of her emotions contained. She struggled lightly as he picked her up and cursed him, but there was no real effort to escape on Hammann’s part. “Shiranui, I have a long walk tonight it seems. Please ensure the prisoners are returned to the Akashi when they’re done.”
“As you command, Shikikan. Go perform the rites so the spirits take her soul instead of the Creator. That is not a fate I would wish even on Akagi and Kaga.”
“Understood,” Thorson agreed. “Let’s take a walk, Hammann.”
“I hate you, idiot Commander,” she insisted through far too many tears for such a small body.
“Only Shiranui gets to call me that,” he whispered.
“But Penny-san, if I did a good thing then why do I need to be punished?” Yuudachi complained as they re-entered the onsen. The battleship glanced down at her before unwrapping her towel and unceremoniously tossing the naked inu into the hot springs. She gracefully entered shortly after, meeting Soryuu’s eyes and nodding curtly. The lapine carrier had gathered the prisoners around her and was ensuring they enjoyed the bath in peace. Pennsylvania explained the situation to her ‘pet’ as Yuudachi spluttered to the surface.
“Because, you stupid dog, Commander Thorson is still a part of the Union navy. And you, as one of his ships, just stole a kansen from Union high command!”
“And then you got caught!” Pennsylvania added as Yukikaze laughed from the shoreline. Shigure and Yamashiro entered just in time to watch Arizona stalk up silently behind her cat and toss her in as well. Yuudachi’s spirits instantly climbed as she hugged Pennsylvania around the waist.
“I’m sorry, Penny-san. I won’t get caught next time!” she insisted. The battleship rolled her eyes as her sister joined her in fishing Yukikaze out of the onsen.
“These two are unbelievable, Ari.”
“They can fight though,” Arizona considered, waving the other Kagerou-class sisters over for their first dip in Akashi’s greatest creation. Penny nodded.
“Damn right. And they can eat too; how much bigger have your boobs gotten?” she wondered in disbelief as Yuudachi pressed her chest into the taller woman’s midriff. “Maybe I need to put you on a diet.”
“Penny-san, you promised!” Yuudachi wailed, causing the raven haired woman to promptly surrender and slump her shoulders.
“Why do I even bother?”
“Because they’re cute!” Arizona supplied, wading off to tend to the gaggle of neko destroyers that now apparently belonged to her. Pennsylvania tilted Yuudachi’s head up so she could meet her eyes and have a moment of seriousness.
“Don’t pull a stunt like that again, even if you don’t get caught. You want to snatch a kansen away from Akagi and Kaga, be my guest. Leave the Union alone. They’re coming around, slowly.”
“Hai, Penny-san!” Yuudachi barked, burying her head in the woman’s chest and playing the part of man’s best friend to a T. The battleship flushed slightly and rubbed the girl’s ears, causing her tail to splash about in the water.
“Alright alright, not in front of everyone, geez. Let’s go sit with Arizona and the others.”
Across the onsen, Soryuu looked on curiously. “It seems that no matter what happens in this conflict, some things never change.”
“No, and it’s comforting in a way. Good evening again, everyone. I hope you don’t mind if I join you,” Fusou said, slipping into the water next to them. Hiryuu, who was submerged to her chin, spared her a glance.
“Damn, can’t say the same for you, but I’m sure that man finds you very comforting. You look like a comfort woman now with those hips. Hey wait, Sory-” Hiryuu was promptly submerged by her sister, only the tips of her ears rising above the water for several seconds before the elder allowed Hiryuu back up for air. “What was that for?!” she spluttered.
“You know quite well. Now are you finished taunting the guards who have been ordered to kill us at the first sign of disruption? I am enjoying my bath,” Soryuu insisted calmly, knowing that Fusou could end them all in moments if she wanted. “I apologize on behalf of my sister, Fusou-san. She only just woke today.”
“It’s not important. Maybe she will understand one day,” the maiden waved it off. She felt a small bubble of pride well from within her as she considered her ascent from siren target and outcast to flagship, with Yamashiro at her side, happy and safe. “My new hull is superior to the one I used in service of Akagi and Kaga. And yes, Hiryuu, he indulges in me regularly, especially when I’m his flagship. It is an honor to have him warm my captain’s bed. Perhaps in time you too will be able to retrofit your hull? Several of us have done so. Whatever Akagi and Kaga promised, there is also power in this Shikikan and his plans.”
“Mmm, maybe you should, Hiryuu. Serving a man’s desires might encourage a bit of femininity from you,” Soryuu considered, adjusting her glasses for effect. Hiryuu looked like she was about to expire, outwardly expressing what all the prisoners, Soryuu included, felt within about lying with the Union commander.
“Nee-san, you… you-”
“Just keep your filthy mitts off of him, both of you,” a harsh voice insisted. They turned to find Tennessee standing over them, arms crossed. The two Sakura kill markers above her left shoulder blade were more than visible as she entered the onsen. “At least the white-haired one has a body ready for combat. Fusou?”
“All is well, Miss Tennessee. So please, if you would mind not antagonizing our guests tonight? You will be the first I call upon if things head south, so to speak. I feel quite comfortable with so many strong Union battleships around,” the shrine maiden insisted. Tennessee nodded curtly before casting a parting word at Hiryuu.
“Glad to see you didn’t die. I hope you’re less disappointing than the blue fox.”
“What… is that supposed to mean?” Hiryuu wondered, feeling the pain of that battle in her very bones for a moment before the warm water soaked it all away. Fusou tilted her head, her jade butterfly pendant reflecting the lights of the nearby lanterns.
“I believe she wishes to fight and train with you, Hiryuu. Jintsuu, as you can tell, has not lived up to her expectations.”
Soryuu took her chin between her fingers, mulling over the very concept of expectations between a Union and Sakura kansen. “More curious by the hour.”
“West Virginia, everyone is needed on the docks right away,” Maryland informed her sister the next morning. The dark-haired battleship didn’t turn from her task, marking the area above Hammann’s heart with her sunken sister’s hull number, 409.
“As you can tell, Maryland, I’m busy. Surely this can wait a few minutes? She will need time for her skin to heal properly. Almost done, little one. Bear with the pain.”
“It’s fine!” Hammann insisted through clenched teeth. “It’s nothing compared to what happened to her!”
“You’re a brave one,” the tattoo artist insisted before Nimi, accompanying Maryland, cleared her throat.
“With all due respect we don’t have a few minutes, West Virginia. Fleet Admiral Chester Nimitz is here.”
The battleship turned her head slightly before acknowledging the information. “We’ll be right there. I’m almost done. Don’t worry; we’ll get you covered up just fine Hammann.”
Outside the labs, Thorson’s entire fleet was lined up to greet the Admiral, who had arrived with Enterprise’s task force, Saratoga, and to their surprise, Lexington as well, repaired and refitted following her harrowing survival at Coral Sea. The carriers with bubblegum pink hair were an interesting sight on the docks, but those introductions were forced to take a backseat as Enterprise and Nimitz met with Commander Thorson to review his fleet.
“I should have figured it would be another sardine at the center of this mess. It’s a pleasure to meet you in person, Commander Thorson. I think it goes without saying that your exploits precede you,” the Admiral began, exchanging salutes. The rest of the Union fleet saluted as well, including those who stood behind the short line of Sakura prisoners. Thorson remained at attention and spoke.
“You’re too kind, Admiral. The credit belongs to my fleet and its kansen. That’s what they call themselves, instead of shipgirls. They are the ones who repelled the Sakura at Midway, not me.”
“And a dose of humility as well?” Nimitz noted. “Perhaps you can explain to me in more detail exactly what happened there at Midway then. All I know is that a man who went missing with Admiral Hawkins’ dogtags after Pearl Harbor stopped a force that destroyed two of our flat tops, one island installation, and killed far too many good pilots. I want to know how. Quite easy on the eyes, aren’t they?”
Thorson couldn’t help a chuckle as he beckoned Brooklyn to his side where she saluted the Admiral respectfully. “And equally dangerous, sir. This is Brooklyn, and she’s helped me compile a full report on the action at Midway from our perspective. We would be happy to review it with you at your leisure.”
Nimitz nodded as he reviewed the double row of Union shipgirls, the Sakura who clearly possessed free reign on the island, and the handful who did not. The floating woman with rabbit ears and negro sailor only added to the motley feel on the docks, to say nothing of the white haired destroyer with cat ears who wore no top at all on account of the fresh tattoo still settling on her skin. West Virginia had wrapped her chest with ample bandaging, and stood at her side for protection. He recognized the hull number immediately, a ship lost at Coral Sea. “I believe my questions extend far beyond the action at Midway, Commander Thorson. Perhaps we should end there instead of begin? Rear Admiral Spruance described your force as a… harem, in a fit of passion. I would not use such a phrase myself, but I need to understand how your women have been able to accomplish what they have, and how this has been overlooked for so long.”
“Permission to speak freely, sir?” Thorson requested.
“Of course, Commander. At ease.”
“Thank you, sir. Fusou, Yamashiro?” he called. Nimitz regarded the two undeniably voluptuous shrine maidens with interest as they walked to Thorson’s side and bowed low to him.
“How may we assist you, tono-sama?” Yamashiro wondered eagerly, not mistaking how important a man Nimitz was. He smiled at them.
“Please take Enterprise and the commanding officers of the Hornet and Yorktown to the shrine so those two may finally be laid to rest. I would go myself, but I must meet with the Admiral first. All who wish to join may do so. With your permission, Admiral? I assure you an explanation will be forthcoming regarding my insistence.”
“I certainly see no issue,” Nimitz confirmed. “Enterprise, Captains, you are dismissed.”
The surviving Union carrier nodded thankfully at the two men. “Thank you, Admiral. And you, Commander. If we could perhaps speak-”
“I’ll make time for you,” Thorson confirmed. “Please, focus on your sisters for now. I believe that little one, Hammann, would appreciate a chance to say goodbye to Yorktown.”
The two military men watched as Enterprise controlled her facial expression as best she could, blinking rapidly as her lips twitched. “Yes sir, I think Yorktown would appreciate that too.”
“If you would follow us, please?” Fusou beckoned with a sweep of her arm towards the slope behind them. “Will you be staying long with us? Perhaps you can enjoy some tea or a bath later?”
“I…” Enterprise didn’t know how to respond. Instead she followed silently, knowing that anything else could come after he sisters were at peace. She could feel them, just below the surface of their cubes, and she wanted them to be at rest, safe from war.
“Laffey will go with Miss Enterprise, yes yes. She will miss Miss Hornet and Miss Yorktown. They were very elegant ladies,” the destroyer volunteered, instantly prompting Javelin and Zed to tag along with her. Downes came next, taking Ooshio by the hand as her girlfriend promised to say a few words herself. Lexington finally spoke up after politely observing the goings on for some time with her younger sister, who could not stop looking around the island in wonderment.
“I should also like to be there. Yorktown was an inspiration and stalwart companion. If only my repairs had been finished sooner…”
“Sister, can I sing?” Saratoga wondered. “And when can I get a rifle like you have?”
“Maybe later today, who is to say?” Lexington replied softly. “You may not sing, Sara, but I think they would appreciate it if you came to say goodbye. Today is a solemn day, not a day for celebration. Some other time.”
“Oh, alright then. Let’s go! Maybe we can explore a bit!” Saratoga insisted, taking Lexington by the hand. The older carrier nodded Thorson’s way.
“It is good to see you again, Commander. I will ensure she behaves, thank you.”
In the end, the entirety of the Union force on base, save Brooklyn, departed to pay their respects to Enterprise’s fallen sisters, leaving the likes of Naka, Yuudachi, Yukikaze, and others to guard Soryuu and her ilk. Choukai was one of them, having earned back her rigging and all ten of her gun barrels. She and Naka looked at their comrades with a mixture of shame and hesitance. “I’m sorry, everyone, but please return to the Akashi.”
“Come on, Choukai, you can do better than that!” Yuudachi insisted, brandishing her rigging openly. “It’s not your fault these idiots are still clinging on to the hope that Akagi and Kaga will eat them last! March! Double time!”
“Watch your mouth, pup,” Hiryuu warned, not used to being talked down to by a pipsqueak destroyer. The various military men on the docks could not help but take note as Yuudachi promptly pointed the twin battery on her right hip at Hiryuu and fired, blasting the kansen back several meters.
“Anyone else got a problem? You’re lucky you didn’t end up dead! Now move it, wan~!” Yuudachi laughed triumphantly.
“Or else Yukikaze the Great will join in and you will really suffer!” the neko insisted. Soryuu waved them off.
“I believe you’ve demonstrated your will quite amply, you two. We will comply. Let us return, everyone. The sun is growing oppressive anyway. And you, sister, please wait until you are healed before picking fights again?” she requested of Hiryuu, who featured quite a bit of singed hair and fur atop her ears.
“Damnit, that really hurt!” she complained, standing and clutching her stomach. “You’ve got some nerve, Yuudachi!”
“Can it, siren bootlicker!” Yukikaze and Yuudachi snapped back. Soryuu grabbed Hiryuu by the collar as she made to retaliate.
“I will not say it again, sister. I dishonored myself to be at your side in this life, and you will not make that sacrifice worthless by getting yourself executed. Or do you deny that we served the sirens?” Soryuu snapped loudly, Kongou, Suzuya, and the others all watching with difficult looks on their faces.
“S-Soryuu?” Hiryuu whispered, clearly hurt by her sister’s harsh tone.
“You will help me consider the truth of this conflict, or you will serve out the rest of the war in silence and captivity. Now come, before you earn us all a skipped meal or manual labor.”
“What do you mean the truth?” Hiryuu demanded, following at Soryuu’s side as she led the way back to the Akashi’s infirmary. The older lapine carrier looked at her with an arch expression.
“You said it yourself, Hiryuu. The Sanctuary was playing with our minds. I want to know why.”
Previous First
submitted by SabatonBabylon to AzureLane [link] [comments]

2020.10.27 18:40 Slow-Telephone1685 Where to start

For starters, I'm 48, have a good career in IT (networking, DevOps), and I am here to get some advice. I'm 7th generation for my family's farm, came back from Colorado where I got introduced to rodeo and got to meet many great people in ranching and bull breeding and learned as much as I could from them from just listening. My family used to be involved with shorthorn cattle in a big way before I came into this world. I've always liked cattle, in fact my dad and I almost got involved with Longhorn before I moved to Colorado. I'm mulling some things around in my mind about what I want to do. We have about 200 acres, so not large enough really for a commercial venture into ranching, but then I thought about breeding bucking bulls and getting involved with rodeo. I've also thought about investing in bucking bulls oand beef herds, but I have this passion to be involved with bulls and cattle and I would really like to include them in the farms portfolio down the road. Although I would leave my career in a New York minute to work on the farm full time and love to turn it back into more of a ranch like my family had it before, there's reality and there's dreams. Should I just forget about cattle and be happy with my career or is this just a pipe dream thing according to those of you who actually have experience with ranching and working with bucking bulls. I really want to get involved with cattle and bulls in a way I can pass it down to my kids and hand them something more than just tillable acreage. Feel free to ask me questions. Just asking for thoughts. I should also, I'm located in NW Indiana.
submitted by Slow-Telephone1685 to Ranching [link] [comments]

2020.10.25 02:43 Mynya [US-VA][H] Grey unbuilt SAT75 with extras, Chimera65 Grey/Lilac, Luna 60 Blue, Keyporas, various Artisans, GMK Mizu basekit,spacebars,novelties [W] Paypal, specific trades

Timestamp below
After a year and a half of collecting and buying things aftermarket, I have run into some major financial obstacles that require me to sell off some of my beloved keebs/caps. I understand the price of some may seem high, but with a major pet surgery looming, and my HVAC system looking like it won’t last another winter, I have to act. These are not FCFS and bundles/multiples will be prioritized since all of these prices include shipping if they are CONUS. Feel free to PM me with any questions about the condition of the caps/boards and I will help however I can. Thank you for looking and hopefully you will find some of what you have been searching for here. Please comment before PM and only PM, I don’t use Reddit chat.
edit: Thank you all so much! I'm going to be making another post soon with what is left and add some more to sell. If you bought from me, I'm just one person so I'll pack/ship your caps/keebs as soon as I can!
~~Sat 75 Grey with extra PCB and gold RAMA Knob shipped in og boxnew, Unbuilt$3,000.00OBO~\~ Sold for 2700
GMK Mizu basekit unused but opened, bars, Noveltiesunused, opened$500.00OBO
~~GMK Mizu Novelties (missing one cap & looking for it)unused$100.00OBO~\~
~~GMK Mizu Space barsunused$50.00OBO~\~
Chimera 65 Lilac/Grey with casenew, Unbuilt$1,600.00OBOMight not sell
~~Luna 60% Keyboard Blue shipped in original box comes with a few fun gasket colorsnew, Unbuilt$365.00OBO~\~
~~Ducky Year of the Pig Keyboard 2019 NIB with all extras inc switches are brownsnew in box$300.00OBO~~ Sold for 275
KBD75 custom mechanical keyboard kit in Red with mini USB (beginner kit)new, Unbuilt$160.00OBO
Horny On Main Bongo (wttf any Cheshire, or Arcade Flo Bongo)artisan$600, pref tradesTrade/OBO
PB and J Keypora (was traded to me without the ID card)artisan$300.00OBO
Oasis Keypora (w/ID)artisan$350.00OBO
White Camo Keypora (w/ID)artisan$250.00OBO
Dalgonna Keypora (With ID card)artisan/unmounted$300.00OBO
~~Invoice Cancelled Keypora (w/ID)artisan/unmounted$150.00OBO~\~
~~Millionaire Keypora (green) w/IDartisan/unmounted$100.00OBO~\~
~~Manbat Keypora w/IDartisan/unmounted$150.00OBO~\~
Lilacio Keypora w/IDartisan$300.00OBO
Mounting Dread Keypora (light purple) w/IDartisan/unmounted$150.00OBO
SI Terong Keypora (dark purple)artisan/unmounted$150.00OBO
Intertia Keypora (before Alpha had ID cards)artisan$300.00OBO
Shadow Glacier Keyporaartisan$300.00OBO
Sludgekidd Uzu shi red/blueartisan$75.00OBO
Artkey BoW Bull w/IDartisan/unmounted$130.00OBO
Artkey WoB Bull w/IDartisan/umounted$130.00OBO
Artkey Cyberspace Devourer (w/ID) (wttf Iron Bull v2 or Starry night)artisan$350.00Trades/OBO
~~Sodiecaps No Face Jamjams (will trade for multiple Eloks)artisan/unmounted$250.00Trades/OBO~\~
JAK Purple Spooder w silver spotsartisan$100.00OBO
JAK grape gummy spoodeSprout blankartisan$150.00OBO
JAK Solar Scorch Bowtie birbartisan/unmounted$100.00OBO
JAK Mull it over Bowtie birbartisan/unmounted$100.00OBO
Korby blue/yellow by Tinycapsartisan$80.00OBO
Dwarf Factory blue/white ice dragonartisan/umounted$80.00OBO
Tim caps Devllish whiteartisan$50.00OBO
~~JAK Noodle Green with gold spotsartisan$100.00OBO~\~
~~GSK Leo Passion (WTTF other Leo)artisan$120.00OBO~\~
Nightcaps smeg (lavender with MJ leaf)artisan$100.00OBO
Nightcaps smeg Summer Dazeartisan$100.00OBO
Nightcaps Menloe (not sure of colorway)artisan$70.00OBO
Nightcaps mystery meats (teal/orange skull)artisan$60.00OBO
Keylabs Corvus Fluorescence (green/black)artisan$80.00OBO
Keylabs Corvus Articuno (blue)artisan$100.00OBO
~~Wildstory Lola (metallic blue)artisan$50.00OBO~\~

submitted by Mynya to mechmarket [link] [comments]

2020.10.19 20:58 StarVoyage22 The Age Old Question Of Male-Female Friends: Is Friendliness Flirting?

Hello folks,
I'm a big lurker on FDS, ingraining all the sage wisdom (that is applicable for a male) that I can, which as a 19-year-old college student, has been invaluable,
I've been mulling the "When Harry Met Sally" topic for quite a while now. For context, in our large group of friends, someone needed to go to the ER on Friday night since she's had a week-long headache with no relief, and she needed someone to accompany her for safety/communication with the group. Instinctually, I volunteered myself, because honestly, going to the hospital was better than watching my friends get drunk, and I wanted to be a good friend, even if I was barely acquainted with her.
Now, she checked out perfectly healthy after a CT scan, so there were no worries. But, spending five hours together in an ER room chatting away has me worried that I'm sending mixed signals to her. To be honest, she is an incredible fire cadet, choir singer, biologist, passionate about social justice type of person, but I feel more of a sister relationship to her. Even if things did change, due to college, a proper FDS relationship is, in my opinion, not feasible, and I've heard too many stories about how college relationships fizzle out after graduation. I don't want to waste either of our times.
All that said, these friendly/brotherly intentions are the ones I feel I'm putting out, but as I've been dubbed an unconscious flirt by multiple people (which is a LV trait as I've come to understand it), I'm very afraid that I'll be leading her on by having banter with her or grabbing lunch in town.
HVM should be able to be good friends with both genders, so how can I properly convey these friendly intentions without seeming flirty? Is it through curbing the lighthearted/witty/flirty aspects of myself in exchange for more maturity, or should I be clear and transparent about expectations vis a vis our relationship?
Thank you in advance for all the advice you FDSers, and may you all be happy and healthy,
submitted by StarVoyage22 to AskFDS [link] [comments]

2020.10.19 18:44 BoopThisIsMySam Everyone has that novel they wrote in their angsty high school days, right?

Well, this is mine. I've been mulling over posting it to get some feedback for some time, I'm not going to lie when I wrote this, I was super thin-skinned about it because I had poured my teenage heart and soul into it. But it's been years since then, and I think I'll be able to take criticism okay.
I'd be more than appreciative of any thoughts, up to and including:
Thanks for reading however much you do. If you want me to post more, you'll have to let me know - I promise not to subject anyone to more if the consensus is that it's awful.
Edit - Okay, I've never tried to post anything this big before...dumped the rest of the chapter into comments, but if anyone is actually interested in reading all on one page, I put it on PasteBin.


“The end is not near, nor is it for certain. But something is coming. Someone. An angel, with wings of black. His coming will herald the coming of the Anti-Christ, who will be born after the angel has arrived. This angel is the only thing that can stand against Satan and the Anti-Christ, to stop them from achieving dominion over Heaven, Hell, and Earth.”
“When the doom of Satan is nigh, the angel will bleed from non-existent wounds, enough to sate every demon in Hell. He will use this power to unite all of Hell under a single banner. Then, when every living being follows the angel, and Satan is alone in the darkness, the angel will confront Satan in the void.”
“If he should fail in his duties, Satan will rise up, and destroy the Most High and take this Creation as his own. But if the new light prevails, then Satan the Morning Star, Prince of the Dawn, shall fall again, and never draw another breath.”

Chapter One

I felt a strong blow to the side of my head, and suddenly I was falling. I opened my eyes, to see a jagged rock wall in front of me. I forced my head to look to the left, and saw another wall. It looked like I was in a giant chasm, as if someone had pulled the earth in half, and I was falling through the crack. It was getting hotter, almost too hot for me to stand. Then, the rock disappeared, and I was thrown into a bank of purple clouds. The heat was getting worse, and it almost felt like my body was going to spontaneously burst into flame. As the purple clouds pooled around me, everything started to get foggy. Then, my vision turned off.
I woke up, my skin damp with sweat. It had been that dream again - the same one that had been waking me up early for the past few weeks. It would come around four in the morning, I guess, though I know dream time worked differently than real time. I always woke up around 4:15. And it was the same dream, every time - falling through a chasm, then being tossed out into purple clouds. I had done a brief Google search on it, but Google never really yielded that much for me. Just a bunch of psychobabble.
I slid out of bed, letting my feet hit the carpeted floor. I never knew what to do after the dream woke me up. I was always totally awake when sleep vanished - no chance of falling back into the void. Now, not that I’m a pill addict, but yes, occasionally I had popped several PM pills or something to get back to sleep when I had either been up late, or had something important going on in the morning, like an interview or whatever. The interviews weren’t going that great, by the way. Even in 2045 the job market was still pretty scarce. You would think that we would have flying cars, infinitely intelligent computers, and college would have been deprecated, but you’d be wrong. All we had accomplished so far was a few remakes of good movies, and more pollution. I mean, I kind of liked the smog that covered New York City - it put me in my depressed-creative mood, something that only an artist can truly understand. I drew things on occasion - drawings, paintings, sketches - but only when the mood really struck. I didn’t really have a girlfriend or anything to draw things for, so it was mainly just something to entertain me while I was sitting in my bed, at 4:15 AM, wide awake.
I stood up, my bare feet padding over the wool carpet, across the room to my computer. It wasn’t that great of a rig - I won’t bore you with the details, but it cost about a grand - but it certainly got the job done. I sat down in my nice spinney chair, awakening it with a word, and logging on to the latest social whatever website that had people’s attention. No one was on, obviously, considering it was four in the morning. I guess it was that addiction thing creeping up on me. I was about to open up a word document and start working on whatever caught my mind, when something started to pull my eyes away from my computer. It was the window to the right of my desk - the curtains weren’t drawn, and I could see a light coming from the house next to us.
This was a big thing. I had lived here for most of my life, and the house next door had always been empty. Like, empty empty. This was the first time I had actually seen someone inside. Now, it appeared that there was someone in it, which was odd considering I hadn’t noticed any sort of moving trucks around. I leaned back in my chair as inconspicuously as possible, and peeked my head out into the opening of the window to see...
“Crap!” I yelled loudly as I lost my balance, and back-flipped the chair out from under me. I hit the ground reasonably hard...hard enough to awaken my foster parents beneath me. I froze for a moment, not worried about getting in trouble necessarily, but not wanting to wake them up. Everything was completely silent - the house was creaky enough for me to tell when someone moved downstairs or otherwise. After about a minute, I slowly got to my feet, feeling a bit sheepish, and bent down to put the chair back in the upright position. Then, I saw her.
It was like there was a goddess outside my bedroom window, and my room was bathed in a golden light. Not really. The light part was in my head. But it was like Aphrodite herself was sitting at a computer in the house next door to me, silhouetted by her window. She was one of the most beautiful girls I had ever seen. Her hair was cut short, and reached down to just above her neck. It was colored blonde on top, and black on the bottom, something that I found rather attractive. She had some metal in her ear, the one that I could see, but she was too far away for me to make out any specific pieces of jewelry. She was wearing a cami, and I could see her figure from here. Even sitting down, her body looked flawless - I could tell she was tall, but her weight was evenly distributed to the point where she had a body that most sane people would kill for. I couldn’t see her eyes - if I could see her eyes, we would have a much bigger problem - but everything I could see-
“Crap!” I yelled for the second time, hitting the ground again.
“Not very dexterous, this guy,” I muttered through gritted teeth, hoping still that I hadn’t woken anyone up. After a minute or so, after not hearing any signs of them waking up, I sighed, shook my head at my silliness, and picked the chair back up. I casually looked out the window again, and...
She was looking at me.
Between the immediate demand of panic that my heart gave me and the nonchalance that my mind calmly ordered, I managed to maintain eye contact with her for a split second, before giving her the tiniest shade of a wolfish grin, and looking over to the horizon, as if searching for the sun. When I turned my head back to my room, to replace my chair, it passed over her window. She was gone.
Her eyes were green.
I shivered. Green eyes. I loved green eyes.
So, who the heck was this new kid? Maybe I’d roll the dice and take the bus to school tomorrow...well, if I happened to see her out at her house, anyway. Not everyone had a car these days, so it was possible she’d ride in. Now, this was all for the purpose of approaching her, which I probably wouldn’t even be able to do for a few days, but early recon was always important when you’re working up to it. It was funny - all I’d gotten was a tiny peek at the girl, and I was already fantasizing about meeting her. Was this what love at first sight was? No, couldn’t be - that was far too corny for me to actually say out loud. She was just damn beautiful. Certainly the ideal girl for me, under the best circumstances. Now, I’m not the overly self-conscious type, mind you. I have nice long hair, nice eyes, a body I’m reasonably happy with, and I’m a little under six feet. Not bad, at least I didn’t think so. But then again, I was hardly the athletic, sporty type that this new girl looked like she was destined to be paired with. She was like, prom queen material, paired at the elbow with some hot quarterback that wasn’t me.
I shook my head, tossing those thoughts out of my head. I was completely overreacting - it was just a girl next door. I would meet her, talk to her, and see where it went. Perfect plan, right? Right?
All of this musing had made the time virtually disappear. When I looked at the clock on my computer, it read 5:15. An hour? I hadn’t really spent an hour thinking about how to approach this chick, had I? No, that was very bad. I tilted my head, and smacked my top ear a few times.
“Out, out, out, out of my head,” I demanded facetiously, “I have better things to do”.
After a second, I straightened up.
“All better,” I chuckled, then went and unplugged the alarm before it could go off. It was one of those special alarms - when it went off, it tossed a ball up in the air, and it wouldn’t go off until I found the ball, and put it back in the launcher. You laugh, but this was something that I literally needed to have...until the nightmares started, at least. Now I always beat it by an hour. I grabbed a change of clothes, then opened the door to my room, looked to each side, and then proceeded across to the shower. Now, there were rare occasions where I did take long showers, but before school was never one of them - I was liable to put myself to sleep in the shower, and that would yield bad results. My teachers never appreciated it when I was late to class, even though I never really did much of anything in class anyway. I had a car, and could haul ass to get there when I was running late, as a general rule, but tickets weren’t any better than being late.
Like I said, shower was quick. I got out, got dressed, and went down the steps, trying to be as quiet as possible, though I was convinced that the shower would have woken anyone who was sleeping up. There was still no one awake, though – Mom2 and Dad2 were still out cold. It was 5:30. The bus came at 6:00, and I usually left at 7:00. School started at 7:20, but it was a long bus ride, full of all the freshmen that couldn’t drive. I glanced out the kitchen window - it was too early for anyone to be outside, yet...there she was. She was standing outside, a backpack at her side, her head tilted to one side as she looked down the road, waiting for the bus.
Cue the mini panic attack!
What do I do? What do I do? Should I go out and talk to her? Should I leave her there and go out when the bus comes? Should I let her ride the bus the first day then talk to her tomorrow? Should I just forget about everything because she was just a girl and would just add drama to my life?
I was leaning towards the last option - she was damn gorgeous, yes, but was a woman really what I needed right now? Seriously? Junior year, I had straight freaking A’s. And I had a bit of money put away from the last job. As wonderful as this girl was, I knew myself. Those two things were sure to change as soon as I asked her out. Y’know, if she said yes.
Then, suddenly, before I even knew what I was doing, I was on my way outside. No breakfast, no nothing. It was like bam, one second I was reaching into the fridge, the next, I was almost at the door. I pulled my keys out of my pocket, holding them by the lanyard as I closed the door, then turned and put the key back in the top lock, fumbling it for a second, and actually dropping it. Flushing red, even though I knew that she couldn’t see, all the while wondering why I even cared if she saw, and why I cared that she was out here so early, I stooped, picked up my keys, and put them back into the lock, turning it until I heard the click. Then, I turned towards the sidewalk. I was hoping for another one of those little mini blackouts, like when I went from the fridge to the door in zero seconds. No such luck. I froze just before I got to the sidewalk.
Move! I demanded of myself, She’s just a girl! Don’!
Unfortunately, my legs were not buying it. I slowly moved towards her, my feet coming along in slow, jerking motions. She was still looking to the left - no, damn, she looked this way. Instantly, my body came back under my own control. I straightened up and started moving at a quicker pace.
“Hey!” I called out softly, raising my hand up in a wave. She smiled - No, god, please, don’t give out on me now, knees - and softly waved back.
“Good morning.”
I was right in front of her now, not close enough to kiss her but close enough to be within arm’s reach. Then...any words I could possibly have wanted to say vanished.
“Ah...” I said, my mouth falling open, but nothing intelligent coming out.
“Too early, huh?” she chuckled, her eyes teasing me. Green eyes.
“Gah,” I managed to get out, “Gah-ah.”
“I’ll take that as a yes,” she said, a smile coming to her lips, “Are you car-less too?”
Finally, I snapped out of it. A car. That was the reason for coming here, right?
“Oh!” I said, then quickly shook my head, trying to clear it of gibberish, my long hair flying in the wind, “God. I’m sorry. It’s been a long morning, and I haven’t slept that much. Hi! I’m Logan DeRais, your new neighbor.”
Her smile widened, and she laughed.
“That explains a lot,” she said, “I’m Persephone Alban. My Mom and I just moved here from Grand Prarie.”
“It’s good to meet you,” I said, forcing a shaky smile on my face, “You just moved here, and you’re starting school already?”
“ Mom wouldn’t hear it when I asked her to let me wait a week or so,” she groaned good-naturedly, “New Park High, right?”
“Yeah,” I rolled my eyes, “Home of the Raging Platypuses!”
“Oh my god, you’re joking!” she said, cracking up. This was good. We were talking. She was laughing. She wasn’t spraying me in the face with pepper spray.
“Not even,” I chuckled, “What a place, right?”
“Yeah,” she grinned, showing her teeth - straight, perfect, pearly white teeth - “What year are you?”
“I’m a junior,” I said, “And you?”
“Same,” she nodded, “And you don’t have a car?”
“Well, actually that’s what I came over about,” I said, the words coming out all at the same time, “I saw you out here way early, and figured I’d ask if you wanted a ride to school.”
“You have a car?” she said, eyebrows raised, “Not bad, DeRais. What kind?”
I chuckled nervously, “Does it matter?”
“Not really,” she said, “However, since you offer, kind sir, I would adore a ride to school.”
I stuttered for a second, unable to believe my luck - silently berating myself for suddenly losing all self-confidence and certainty from one girl - then pointed towards my garage.
“Well, if you’d be so kind as to follow me...”
“It’s not a white van, is it...?” she laughed as we walked towards my house.
“Not hardly,” I said, “I much prefer this car over a white van.”
We reached the garage, and I punched in the code to put the door up. As it rose, light flooding the inside, my car came into view.
“Wow,” Persephone said, “Are you serious? Is that really your car? It’s not your dad’s or something?”
“Nope,” I said, grinning proudly, “100% mine...though it was a gift, not something I actually earned the money for.”
“My god,” she said, “This is an awesome car. 2039 Camaro ZL9000. My god.”
“You know what kind of car this is,” I said, almost in disbelief, “Seriously?”
“I love Camaro,” she gushed, “I don’t want to sound girly about it, but holy crap, I love your car.”
“On the list of things that sound girly, gushing over a car isn’t one of them,” I snorted, “Shall we go?”
My god. It was actually working. And she knew cars. What planet had this mysterious, gibberish-inducing girl come from? Was she an alien? That would explain a lot.
I clicked the car open, rather smoothly if I do say so myself, and slid in. Persephone opened the door and hopped into the front seat. I turned my head to her, watching her put her seat belt on. My god. She was wearing short shorts and a cami. I hadn’t even noticed what she was wearing when I walked up to her, I was so absorbed in the terror of approaching this goddess-like female. I heard the click of her seatbelt going into the holster, and realized immediately that I was staring at her - something that would not get me cool points. Somehow, I managed to tear my eyes away from her body, which was now, incredibly, sitting in the passenger seat of my car. I pressed the magic button that turned the car on - it roared to life, the purr of the engine filling the garage.
“Oh my god,” she said, continuing to marvel at my car, something that I was completely content to let her do, “How much did this cost?”
“It was a gift,” I chuckled, “My father is rather well off. This used to be his, but he quickly decided that he wasn’t the kind of old geezer that wanted to drive a sports car. Instead of selling it somewhere, he gave it to me.”
“You’re a lucky bastard,” she grinned, and we made eye contact again. My heart skipped a beat.
“Not that lucky,” I chuckled, throwing the car into gear, and smoothly rolling out of the garage, clicking the door shut behind me. I’m not ashamed to say, I showed off. A lot. Yes, it’s a bit risky, going to school at 75 MPH the whole way, but I think she enjoyed it.
“Okay,” I said, “You’re shotgun, so that makes you cop lookout. Think you can handle it?”
“Not a problem,” she chuckled, “How far is it to the school?”
“At this rate, we’ll probably get there in about five minutes,” I said, “Although, unless you have some pressing engagement at the school, I’d like to hang out in the car for a bit. We could talk, or sleep, or listen to music. But it’s like 5:45, and school doesn’t start until 7:20. I don’t think they even open the doors until 6:30.”
“That’s okay,” she said, “We can hang out for a bit. The least I can do to repay you for the ride is talking to you for a little bit. Besides, I love this car...”
“What a coincidence,” I chuckled, “I happen to love this car too.”
“What else do you love?” she asked, as we pulled into the school, “What kind of stuff do you enjoy?”
“We’ve reached the interrogation stage already?” I chuckled as I turned, and parked, “How did this happen?”
“Well, you’re a nice kid, and I’m nice, too. There’s no reason we shouldn’t be friends,” she said, “And friends need to know things about each other, right?”
“Well, yeah,” I said, shifting the car into park, unbuckling my seatbelt, and turning to face her, “I’m just surprised. I literally just saw you fifteen minutes ago.”
“You forgot about four in the morning,” she giggled, “I saw you, you know. You’re not that lucky.”
“Oh,” I said, my face turning scarlet, “I had been hoping that had been a dream...”
“Nope!” she said, “I totally saw you. I saw you fall over, too, which made me laugh.”
“Damn,” I muttered, “Busted...”
“I’m sure you were disappointed that I was wearing clothes,” she said, her eyes sparkling, “Isn’t that what usually happens in movies?”
I got even redder. “What, are you trying to turn me into a tomato?” I demanded, “I don’t look good in red.”
“You look fine to me,” she said, “Even with the red. So, before you got us off topic, I was asking you something. What do you enjoy?”
“I like computers,” I said, “Hobby, passion, future career path, whatever. It’s easy for me, and I enjoy figuring out why things don’t work. Want to know the top three reasons for a computer not working?”
“Sure,” she said, looking at me. She actually looked interested, which was nice for a change. Most people tuned me out. Not that I was a wallflower, mind you. I just never really found a girl that cared about computers in the slightest.
“One, it’s not plugged in.” I said, “Two, it’s the hardware’s fault. Three, they’re using Windows.”
“So, you blame everything,” she said.
“Not entirely,” I said, “I just tend to blame hardware over software. Windows is software, but it tends to break a lot. And all the old people forget to plug their computers in.”
“So what do you suggest?” she asked, “A Mac?”
“Of course not,” I said, “I mean, not for me, or any technically savvy person. I like Windows as much as the next person, it just breaks a lot. But as of right now, it’s the best operating system out there. Linux is great for tech savvy people, and Macs are great for rich people. Windows is great for the rest.”
“So, when Windows breaks, what should a person do?” she asked, “You haven’t really given much option for anything.”
“That person would come to me,” I said, “I fix things, and if it takes me less than two hours, it’s free.”
“I’ll have to take you up on that sometime,” she chuckled, “My computer isn’t very happy with me right now.”
“I’ll fix it,” I said, “Just give me a date.”
“Your enthusiasm is adorable,” she smiled coyly, “Do you want to keep going, or should we take turns?”
“Take turns,” I affirmed, “I like to know stuff too. After all, I did just drive you to school, and save you from waiting outside for an hour and a half. It would be nice to know who you are.”
“Well, I’m Persephone,” she said, “I’m seventeen, eighteen in July. I lived in Canada my whole life, until we moved here. I’ve had a few boyfriends, but no one that lasted very long. I never study, and I still get A’s. I like sleeping, Legend of Zelda, and going to concerts. And, thankfully, I’m an only child.”
“Wow, that was a lot more than what I said,” I said, shaking my head, “I feel like you just kicked my butt.”
“That was the idea,” she said, “But now it’s your turn. Give me a general outline of your life?”
“Are you sure you want that?” I asked, “It might take a while,”
“Sure,” she said, “Lay it on me. It’s not like we have anywhere to go.”
“If you say so,” I chuckled, “I’m seventeen, too. I’m Logan Jonathan DeRais. My mother’s name was Serah, and my father’s name was Jacob. I also had a twin sister, named Haylee. They’re all dead. They died right after I was born, in a car accident.”
Persephone’s face got a little pale. Yeah, it was a lot to dump on someone, but she had asked. Besides, we were bound to get to it at some point.
“I’m...sorry,” she said softly, “That’s horrible.”
“It happened when I was born,” I shrugged, “I never really knew them, you know? I’ve been raised by adoptive parents, and it’s worked out just fine for me so far. We’ve lived in that house forever. No one has ever lived next to us, though, which is why I was sort of creeping on you. I was really surprised. I mean, seeing this hot chick out my window at four in the morning is enough to knock anyone on the ground.”
She laughed - that same, beautiful laugh that almost like heavenly musi-
Stop. No, stop, right now. Stop reading. Disregard that last line. I refuse to acknowledge that I could ever get corny enough to say something like that.
She laughed, her eyes sparkling, “Thank you,” she said, “You’re sweet.”
“I do my best,” I said, “It works better than being an asshole. Besides that, I sleep through my classes and get A’s, I seldom do anything school related, and I positively hate classes that don’t involve me being on a computer during the entire class. I’ve had one or two girlfriends, but to be honest, they all ended up being crazy. I’ve sworn off relationships for the time being, but that could change at any time, should the right lady come across my path. Besides that, I like to do horrible things to my computers, I try to write but I fail a lot, and I hate sleeping.”
“Oh, this isn’t going to work out,” she said, “I can see it already. You’re going to text me when you’re awake at 4 in the morning, and I’ll be asleep. You’ll wake me up; I’d tear your head off, and have to move again.”
“Well, I think I’ll be able to tell if you’re up or not,” I said, “I can see right into your window.”
“That in itself is a rather dangerous fact,” she said, “You might see something you don’t like.”
“I don’t consider myself someone that can be easily offended,” I shrugged, “I really don’t have any boundaries. Why, do you?”
“Not particularly,” she said, “I saw you staring at me through your window, and I’m still talking to you. What does that tell you?”
“That you’re not easily sketched out or judgmental,” I chuckled, “Should I continue, or do you know enough about me?”
“Well, you did mirror what I said,” she said, “So I suppose that makes it my turn.”
Before she could say anything else, I heard the locks to my car doors click open. Persephone’s door opened a second later, and Holly leaned in to stare at us.
“Wow,” she commented, “I would say get a room, but I supposed you had one until I opened the door. This is new, Logan. When did this happen?”
Meet Holly Valkyrie, my best friend. I’d known her since kindergarten. Back then, she was the girl that wore boots to school, and kicked all the boys in the shins. I honestly don’t remember how I met her. There’s a vague memory floating around my mind about a terribly violent fight over the last half of an oatmeal cookie, and both of us getting bloody noses, but I’m not sure if that was it or not. But regardless, she and I had been tight for almost twelve years. Holly was a bitch, and proud of it. She had no problem calling things exactly like she saw them, butting in where she didn’t belong, and saying some of the crudest things I’d ever heard. Despite her boyish attitude, large chest, and beautiful dark red hair, somehow I had completely avoided ever having any kind of a crush on her. That’s impressive, for those of you who don’t know. I had a thing for redheads.
But, yeah. That was Holly. Holly also had the spare pair of keys to my car, which she often put to a use that was not their intended use.
“Holly,” I said, without batting an eye, “This is Persephone. She’s my new neighbor. She moved into the house right next to me. I gave her a ride to school.”
“I bet you did,” she leered, “Pleased to meet you, Persephone. I’m Holly. I just want you to know, that if you have any interest in mating with Logan, that you have my blessing.”
“Good to know,” she chuckled, shooting me a quick smile.
“Do you want to get in? Or were you just saying hi?” I asked her, my face turning a little redder.
“I don’t mind eavesdropping,” she said, leaning in closer, “Now that you guys are getting married and all, it’s important for me to know her, you know? Just to make sure I’m not letting you go off with a psychopath.”
“Like that’s never happened before,” I rolled my eyes.
Persephone, the good sport that she appeared to be, hopped out of the front seat.
“Get in!” she said, “Don’t mind the duct tape and the shovel in the back.”
“I haven’t had to sit in the back of this car in four years...” Holly grumbled, “Whatever happened to bros before hoes?”
“Did you bring food, Holly?” I asked her, as Persephone got back in, and shut the door, warding off the cold air. It was the beginning of December, and the ground was starting to frost in the morning. Thank god I didn’t have to freeze my balls off waiting for the bus anymore.
“Why do you need food?” she asked, “You always need food, you horrendous fatty.”
“I kind of walked out without breakfast,” I mumbled.
“You see? You see? This is what I have to deal with,” she rolled her eyes, looking at Persephone. Then, she pulled out a massive muffin out of her backpack, and handed it to me.
“You’re lucky I love you,” she said.
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submitted by BoopThisIsMySam to creativewriting [link] [comments]

2020.10.16 23:08 PathViz Music Composer (Los Angeles, CA)

Published: 10/15/20
Years of experience 12.0
Recommended Education Bachelor's Degree
This post originated from the website PathViz. If you'd like to ask the writer a question, please feel free to leave a comment here.

What education would you recommend?

To work in the music industry you don't necessarily need a formal education beyond high school, especially on the creative side, but it can be beneficial! Hard work and attentiveness is extremely important. You got to want it!

What's a day in the life of a music composer?

I produce music for music artists, television, film, and write and sing my own songs. My home base is Los Angeles, and it's an extremely competitive market. To make it happen here, you've got to be working on it all the time, because there are so many people trying to achieve and get to the same spot where you are.
There isn't a set schedule I follow, but there are certain things I try to focus on every day. The first is writing music. Most days I'm trying to create as much music as I possibly can. I might spend the day songwriting and producing my music, meeting up with an artist to work on current or potential projects or networking. Some artists may say, "Hey, I have an opportunity for you to provide some music for an 'Empire' episode, and this is the stuff we're looking for." So maybe I'll work on that for a couple of weeks. I occasionally work from home, but once you've established yourself, they'll want you to come into their studio and work on content.
I also try to check out the latest videos posted on YouTube. Since the COVID pandemic artists and producers mostly work from home, they're finding different ways to stay connected with their audiences and share more of their songwriting and music creation process. I try to be a sponge and learn anywhere I can.

What's the best part of being a music composer?

I love music, so it never feels like work. It's on my mind when I wake up and when I go to bed. I'll mull over little things, like how I might create a different sound over here or tweak some lyrics over there. I enjoy being my own boss. I'm free to take a break and hang out with friends, but I always look forward to getting back to work.

What are some perks of your job?

I get to do what I love. Some people want to produce to meet famous artists, but they don't usually last long. The work is too hard. You've got to be there because you love music. Of course, you will occasionally meet famous artists you admire, but the perk is working on something you're passionate about. It can be long hours, but it's nice to be your own boss and set your schedule.

What's the downside of being a music composer? Words of caution?

There are a lot of talented people working in Los Angeles, so the market is highly competitive. If you move here to get jobs producing, you'll find out quickly - it's a grind. I've met so many people that have gone into production and couldn't make enough money to live in L.A. and stay with it. You have to do a lot of networking before you finally get any work. Sometimes it's about meeting the right person at the right time. It's possible to strike gold and be lucky, but it is so hard to get your music to those top people and have them release it. That's why I started to work in film and television. I happened to meet some people that knew music supervisors, and then I realized there's a real paycheck there if you can get into the world of making songs for movies.
There are so many jobs available in music. My specific realm is producing, but some people might choose to work in sound design or mixing. No matter what area you go into, you'll have to be grinding out the work. Unfortunately for newcomers, there is no entry-level job that sets you on the path to becoming a music producer. I've had years of experience, and I still feel like I'm at the beginning.

What's the earning potential? Entry-level? Mid-level? Senior-level?

The top producers make millions, but it's many years of hard work and being in the right place at the right time. For most producers, you might make $20k-$30k when you start out after establishing a solid network and skill level, $50k when your career is getting more developed, and $100k when you're doing well. Initially, you'll make $0-$3500 per song; $3500-$7000 per song as you make a name for yourself; then $10,000 a song on productions

Describe the path you took to become a music composer

When I first started to play around producing my own music, I went on the internet. Initially, I learned everything from YouTube and different production forums online. For the first three years, I'd just put stuff together, and it would sound terrible. I had no idea the tools you could use to shape the sound and make it sound better. By the time I moved to Los Angeles, I'd already been doing production for 7-8 years. I don't have any formal training, but I can go to a piano and when I hear a song, play it by ear. Somehow, my brain can process music a little easier than most people. I sing and haven't needed formal training, so I have some advantages with natural ability. However, a lot of it comes down to working really hard.

Advice on how to get started as a music composer

If you're starting, without any experience, you can get the software 'GarageBand,' and you'll also need some basic mixing equipment. It's never been easier to learn and access any information you're interested in with the internet and apps, particularly YouTube. Sometimes bands will even post the exact steps they took in producing certain songs.
Pay attention all the time, learn from everything. Absorb as much as you can. Los Angeles is a tough place to be. Some of the best advice I've heard was, "People come and go in the industry, but if you want to make it, focus on outlasting everyone. If you love it, don't give up." The people I know that are killing it in the industry are working a hundred hours a week.
There are several great programs at institutes and universities in music production. Formal education is useful but not necessary. I chose to get a regular degree and learn about business.

What skills are needed to be a music composer?

You need to be willing to work hard and put in the time it takes to learn your craft.
Any business knowledge is useful because a producer is an entrepreneur.
It doesn't hurt to play an instrument. The top producers are often world-class musicians. If you don't play, then you'll need to know other musicians that can come in and help you out occasionally. You also need a fundamental understanding of music.

What's important to understand for your specific region?

Music is always going to be around. It's a healing agent, and it brings people together. It's not going anywhere. Music in films, commercials, and even video games helps shape our culture.

What's the future outlook for a music composer?

Music is always going to be around. It's a healing agent, and it brings people together. It's not going anywhere. Music in films, commercials, and even video games helps shape our culture.
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2020.10.16 15:55 kohlkenneth56 Lily

I met Lily in the strangest of ways. Looking back, I can see that it was somehow fitting that my first interaction with her took place just three days before Halloween. She had always had some spooky sense about her, which is part of what led to my attraction.
I was visiting a haunted house with my then-girlfriend, Emily. It wasn’t just any haunted house, but one of the best (if not the best) in Ohio. Several of my close friends were actors there, so it made things even more fun for me. I made it my personal challenge to get them to break character, but it happened only a few times. It was a great opportunity for them, though, as I was willing to play along. Actors were not allowed to make physical contact with the guests, but they knew that they could get away with it from me, so it added to the scare factor when other customers saw me getting grabbed and pulled into the action. I had given Emily advance warning, but it still gave her some screams.
Emily spent most of the time with her arms wrapped tightly around me, but we had entered a tight corridor and were forced to walk through single file. She still grasped my hand with a ferocity you couldn’t imagine. Without warning, someone grabbed my wrist and pulled my hand out of hers. I felt myself get pulled back and was thrust up against a wall in a dark corner. I could feel someone’s breathe close to my face.
“Hey, not cool. I shouldn’t leave Emily…”
Before I could finish my sentence, I felt her forcing her lips against mine. I couldn’t see her, but I knew that it was not my girlfriend. Emily was tall, about five-foot-ten, and whomever kissed me was much shorter. I felt embarrassed to admit it, but it was the best kiss I have had in my life, and it was from a stranger. She pulled away, and then came close to me again. This time I reciprocated and, after a few seconds that seemed like forever she pulled away again, this time biting my lip in the process. Hard. It drew blood.
Then she left. Just like that. The best glimpse I got of her was from behind. Petite, as I had suspected, and wearing a short baby-doll dress. I noticed her flowery scent, also. She skipped away into the darkness and, in a sing-song little girl voice, said “Happy Halloween!”
Damn. I stood there for… well, I don’t even know how long. It was long enough, though, that I was unable to catch up with Emily until we were both at the house’s exit. She seemed understandably perturbed, but upon seeing my bleeding lip, a concerned look crossed her face.
“Oh, baby. What happened?”
“Nothing,” I said, “Nothing. I mean, I don’t know. I’m fine.”
But I wasn’t fine. That girl. That kiss. It was all I could think about for the rest of the night and the following day. I thought that it must have been a silly prank – maybe even someone that I knew – and it meant nothing. Still… I simply could not get it out of my head. It did mean something to me, and I had to know who it was. If it was someone that I knew – a friend – that might be awkward. But if it was a stranger? I needed to meet her. I mean, at the core of my being I knew that I needed to meet her.
A couple of days later, I mentioned the encounter to my friend Jacob. He was an actor at the house and said that he hadn’t heard anything about it. He asked around to see if anyone had been trying to play around with me, but no one admitted it. There were a couple of new girls in the cast, but neither fit my description – as vague as it was.
There was a cast party planned for Halloween night, after the house closed for the evening. Given my acquaintance with many of the actors, he said that it would be fine for me to attend as a guest. He suggested that I should, and perhaps my mystery woman would come forward. I accepted his invitation on the spot, not needing any time to mull it over. I had become a slave to my emotions.
The night of the party arrived. I begged off with Emily, saying that I was under the weather. I couldn’t very well take her to the party with me. That would sort of defeat the purpose. Everyone was coming to the party in character, and even most guests had decided to arrive in costume. I had decided to go as “guy who didn’t care,” and simply wore jeans and a button-down shirt. I wanted her to recognize me. If she was even going to be there, I told myself.
Well, it turned out that she was not there. At least not that I was able to see. No one there fit even the vaguest proportions of the girl. I couldn’t smell her perfume. I felt dejected, to say the least.
I stayed for hor d’ouvres and a couple of drinks, then told Jacob and a few friends that I was going to head home. They begged me to stay a little longer, but I had seen what I had come to see. Or rather, did not see who I had come to see. I asked directions to the toilet room so that I could take care of business before I left. Jacob pointed me toward a dark hallway at the back of the banquet room and said that it was the last door down.
It’s difficult to describe how I felt, but anyone who has been in love and gotten hurt knows the feeling. The knot in your stomach. The tightness in your chest. After washing my hands, I headed back up the hall but, as I passed a set of double doors on the left, I heard a voice. A girl’s voice, softly singing a haunting melody. It was a voice I thought – I hoped – that I recognized. I backed up and slowly pushed the doors open, stepping inside. A storage room, of some sort. It was quiet, aside from the singing, and dimly-lit. All dark with a few pools of light under the bare bulbs spaced around the room.
The singing stopped and I called out. “Hello?”
Then she – yes, I knew it was her - stepped into one of the pools of light. There was no doubt in my mind. Aside from the scent of lilies, she was as petite as I had remembered, and seemed to be wearing the same baby-doll dress. Only now, I could see that the beautiful girl I had imagined met all my expectations. Her skin was utterly white and as smooth as porcelain. Her eyes seemed overly large. She had the most amazing eyes. I was reminded of glittering emeralds. She had an upturned pixie nose, and her face was framed by curls escaping from a head of fiery-red hair that had been pulled up into a bun. She was breathtaking.
She introduced herself as Lily. An apt name, for more than the fact that she smelled like the flower. Someday I would find it ironic that the Lily-of-the-Valley is, despite its beauty, decidedly poisonous.
I would be remiss if I did not mention the fate of my relationship with my girlfriend, Emily. I am ashamed now to say that, once Lily and I began seeing each other on a regular basis, I dropped Emily like so much dead weight, not giving a second thought for her feelings. That was so untypical of me. At the time, though, my heart and mind were faithfully focused on Lily.
Lily and I quickly became friends, and then lovers. I was completely devoted to her, even though I did not know whether she shared the same feelings for me. It was difficult to imagine that she didn’t, as we eventually began to spend every waking moment together. Eventually, Lily ended up staying the night.
I woke before her the next morning and, once the blurriness cleared from my eyes, I glanced over at her. The sheets had been tossed aside and the sunshine filtering in through the curtains played on her naked back. Something confused me. I got out of bed and threw open the curtains, allowing the full morning sunlight into the room. To my horror, I saw that Lily’s alabaster skin was covered with bruises. There were the most appalling discolorations all around her lower back and belly, and even along the tops of her thighs. It had been dark, but I was quite sure that they were not there the previous evening.
I shook her awake, softly prodding her so as not to cause her any pain. “Lily,” I whispered. Then louder. “Lily.”
She came awake with a start. Eyes barely open, she rolled over to face me. “Good morning,” she yawned, then blushed. She pulled the sheets up to cover her nakedness. “Oh, excuse me. I’m sorry, I…”
“Sorry for what?”
“I suppose that I was a little forward last night. It’s very unlike me, but for some reason… Well, I feel something special with you.”
I shared her feelings and wished that I could have taken the time to tell her, but I was too concerned with what I had seen. “Lily, your bruises. You’re covered with them. Did I do that? I’m so sorry.”
She pulled the sheets aside and examined herself. “Hmm. That’s odd. No, they don’t hurt. I can barely feel them. I’m sure that you didn’t cause them. I think that I just have delicate skin.”
Delicate skin? I didn’t think that explained it at all. Every time I attempted to bring it back up, she deflected the issue and changed the conversation. I eventually gave up, thinking that I was causing her embarrassment.
By the time I saw her again, the bruises had miraculously healed. I supposed that she recovered as quickly as she bruised. Perhaps she was right. Perhaps she just had a certain problem with that. Perhaps everyone bruised to some degree, and her pastel complexion just made it more obvious. Still, it was disturbing. I tried to be careful, but I noticed it often as we spent more time together. Once, I pulled her toward me playfully, and purple blooms appeared on her arm in the shape of my fingers. The lightest touch seemed to cause her flesh to bruise, yet she did not complain a whit.
I tried to push aside my thoughts concerning her problem. Aside from that, she was the perfect woman. She was beautiful but acted as if she did not know it. She was controllable, yet capricious; an accomplished courtesan who acted like a virgin. As a lover, she was insatiable and astounded me with her intensity of interest when in bed.
And yet, after a time, our lovemaking would leave me with a certain distasteful feeling. She seemed cold inside – like cool, wet meat. Then there was the bruising. She always seemed renewed after a while, though, bruising gone, smelling of lilies, and as soft and warm as a lamb.
The closest I had come to finding out the truth under… well, better circumstances had been during a conversation over beers with my friend, Jacob. I had explained to him that Lily was the girl that I had told him about. He looked at me in an odd way but continued our conversation in a light-hearted tone.
“So… Lily, huh?” He arched his eyebrows.
“Yeah,” I said. “I met her that night in the house, then again at the party. That was it for me. She’s had me wrapped around her finger ever since.”
Jacob stared into his beer, a smirk on his face, nodding. “Yep. She’s a quiet one, isn’t she?”
I laughed. “Ha. At first, yes; but since she came out of her shell, she’s the most passionate lover I’ve ever been with!”
“Wait. So, you…” Jacob set his beer on the bar.
“Every night!”
He sat there, assessing me. His jaw hanging open for an awkward amount of time. I couldn’t tell what he was thinking but his change in attitude concerned me. Then a huge smile cracked his face and he burst into hysterical laughter.
“Oh, you!” he wagged his finger at me. “You had me going there for a second. Half the time I can’t tell if you’re being serious. Scary, man. Scary.”
I made a couple of jokes and then turned the conversation away from Lily. I suppose that I didn’t want to know any more. I thought that maybe he knew something about her that I didn’t, and that made me feel… jealous? Angry? I’m not entirely sure what the feeling was, but I didn’t like it, and so never brought up the topic of Lily again.
The problem was that Lily was getting sicker and sicker as time went on. In addition to the bruising, she began having… I suppose that “spells” is the best word for it. I would find her doubled over, clutching her belly and moaning, obviously in great pain. She would always say that she’d be fine, though. Give it some time. And she was always fine, within a day or two, seeming like nothing ever happened. I would have thought that she was experiencing psychosomatic symptoms, or perhaps faking it for attention, but there was the smell. During these spells, her usual flowery scent would be pervaded by something rotten. It was hard to be near her at times like those. I knew that it was those times she needed my support the most, but I felt too weak to handle it.
She seemed resigned to it, though, and so I couldn’t convince her to see a doctor. Well, as a matter of fact, she did say that she was seeing someone. I gathered that he wasn’t a medical doctor, per se, but more of a holistic healer.
Just as I was about to give up, at my wits end, the truth came out. The awful truth.
I had stopped to meet with Jacob and a few of his friends for drinks after work. I tried to avoid the subject of Lily, as usual, but somehow things always circled back around to her. It was as if Jacob and his friends were fascinated by her – by my relationship with her.
“So, uh…” Jacob turned to me, smiling, “How are things going between you and Lily?”
His friends snickered.
“Well, okay I suppose.”
He came in close to me. Close enough that I could smell the sour beer on his breath. “No, really,” he gave an exaggerated wink, “How are things going? Hmm? Nudge-nudge, wink-wink.”
Everyone chuckled again.
The anger was growing in me. I could feel my face turning red. “Enough, man. Lily and I are fine, end of story.”
For some reason, Jacob and his friends thought that was hilarious and burst into laughter. I shook my head in frustration, downed the dregs of beer in my glass, and excused myself. I needed to use the men’s room, I said, but planned on sneaking out the door afterward. I was done with this sort of talk.
I stood at the urinal shaking off the last drops when Jacob’s friend Jim walked into the men’s room and took up a place at the urinal beside me. For a few seconds, he stared at the wall ahead of him while he relieved himself, and then began talking. I thought that he was just rambling on to himself, but soon realized that he was addressing me.
“So, you’ve been, um…” He hemmed, “You’ve been taking Lily home with you, is that right?”
My eyes narrowed. I was suspicious and entered the conversation cautiously. “Yeah. ‘Taking her home with me’ might not be the right way to say it, but yeah. She and I have been spending a lot of time together.”
“Ah yes, Lily is – unfortunately, I suppose – really popular with the boys.”
“What the hell is that supposed to mean?” I yelled, maybe a bit too loudly for a public restroom.
He kept talking calmly as he zipped up and washed his hands. “Nothing. Please don’t misunderstand me. You and Lily have something special. I can tell, and if anyone can understand her, it’s me.”
“Just be careful. She always comes crawling back to me in the end and I hate to see her get hurt.”
When I arrived home that night, Lily was nowhere to be found. I tried calling her but received no answer. I really wanted to talk to her. My interest was piqued, but at the same time, I was afraid to know what the hell Jim was going on about.
Was Jim her lover? Did they have some type of “understanding?” Was he just a friend who knew about something going on? Something bad? Or did he know something regarding Lily’s illness? That might be the worst thing of all. First, that she would confide in him, and not me; and second, it made me wonder if it was that bad? A thousand thoughts raced through my head. It took two glasses of whiskey to get me to sleep that night. I finally passed out, phone in my hand, with Lily’s number on speed dial.
It was a harsh morning. I had had way too much to drink the previous night and, combined with my anxiety over Lily, I was nauseous. I downed a cup of coffee, took a shower, vomited, and took another shower. I wanted to crawl back into bed, but I needed to know.
Suffice to say that I became wary of what I said to Lily. I tried to coax information out of her – information about Jim – but I was trying not to be too obvious. Her answers were always cryptic.
I’m embarrassed to say that I started checking up on her. I’d follow her to see where she was going after she left my place. She spent so many hours working at the house, that I’d always picked her up there after her shift. Apparently, even in the off season, there was plenty of work to do around a haunted house attraction, preparing a new scary experience for the coming year. Lily usually left before morning and I had never given thought to where she was going or how she got there.
What I did know, and was beginning to weave together, was the Jim also spent a lot of time at the house. He was sort of the master make-up artist for the house and had been responsible for developing some of their unique props and special effects. There was a reason that it was considered the “best damn horror house in Ohio,” and Jim played a large part.
My paranoia finally came to a climax, and one night, after an evening of lovemaking, Lily quietly slipped out of bed to get dressed. I faked a deep sleep so that I wouldn’t interrupt her. She kissed me on the forehead softly and quietly exited through the front door. No sooner than hearing the lock on the door snick into place, I was out of bed and at the window. I saw Lily, standing at the curb and talking on her phone. After a few moments had passed, a car pulled up and she got in. As they pulled away, they passed under a streetlamp and the driver’s face was illuminated. I felt a cold lump in my stomach when I realized who he was. It was Jim.
The way I saw it was that I had three choices: I could pretend that nothing was wrong and continue seeing Lily as if I knew nothing. That would be the easiest and most pleasant choice if it weren’t for the horrible heartache I was feeling. I could just stop seeing her altogether. I’m sure that she would figure out the reason, and she would either be angry or indifferent. My third choice was to confront them. Although I knew that would gain me nothing but the scorn of Lily and most likely ostracism from Jacob and his actor friends, it also seemed to be the most satisfying option. I wanted… No, I needed to see the looks on their faces when I caught them in flagrante delicto.
After giving them a short head start, I jumped into my car and sped off, catching them about two streets down and then dropping a few car lengths behind them. It had started drizzling, and with the light flaring through the raindrops, it was difficult to see. Unless they suspected that they were being followed, they would never know.
We drove around for about ten minutes and finally ended up back at the haunted house. So, this is where they met! How tawdry. How sickening that Jim would stoop so low as to refuse to take her back to his own apartment, or hers for that matter. I felt a twinge in my chest when I realized that I, in fact, didn’t even know where she lived. I saw them walk in. I waited in my car. Five minutes. Ten minutes. Should I have just given up and gone home? No. Thirty minutes had passed before I screwed up the courage to approach the rear door of the house.
I entered a shadowy hallway. Once my eyes adjusted to the darkness, I realized that I was in the same hall as the storage room that I had met Lily in that night at the cast party. I noticed light coming from under the double doors, and the sound of a radio playing Metallica. Not exactly mood music for two lovers, I suppose, but I already knew that this was no normal relationship. I sidled up to the doors and put my ear to the crack. I could hear Jim’s voice, humming/singing along with the music, but heard nothing from Lily.
I knew that she was there, though. I could smell her perfume. The tell-tale scent of flowers, and stronger than ever.
My throat was dry, my eyes burned, and I realized that I hadn’t taken a breath in what seemed like ages. My lungs were burning. Finally, I burst through the doorway. I suppose that I wasn’t as intimidating as I had imagined myself to be. Jim acted as if he had barely noticed me come in. He just looked up from his work, said “Hi,” and lowered his eyes to the table again.
His work.
Lily lay on a table, split open from breast to groin. Where one would expect to find blood and entrails, there was only a slush of thick, purple juices. There was something that seemed to resemble bones, but they were strangely jointed together with gristly wire and metal rods. Heaving and rippling bags of soaked cloth approximated the position of where her stomach and guts should have been.
Lily’s beautiful face was an eerie caricature of her normal self. Her mouth hung open, tongue lolling to one side, eyes staring at the ceiling. I thought that she was dead. Killed by this maniac. But half realized that she had never been alive. Or was she. It was so confusing. One of her eyes rolled my way and focused on me. I knew that she could see me, but she did not speak. I could swear that I saw some sort of embarrassment there in her distorted face.
“Please,” I gasped as my legs went out from under me, “Please explain.”
I had passed out. As I started to come around, I saw Jim leaning over me. He was kneeling next to me and splashing water on my face. He helped me sit up but encouraged me to remain on the floor. He also took up a position on the floor opposite, cross-legged and stared at me.
After a moment of silence passed between us, he said, “This isn’t what it looks like.”
I exploded. “Isn’t what it looks like?! What the hell does it look like?! What in holy hell is going on?”
“Well, you see… I originally, er… created Lily as an attraction for the haunted house. I’d had good ideas before, but I could tell right from the start that she was going to be exceptional – and she was! A big hit, right from the beginning. I debuted her about three years ago, on Halloween evening. Unlike my human actors, you could do anything with her. Or to her. Nail her hand to a wall, pluck her eye out, cut off an arm or leg. I’m still impressed by how well my experiment turned out.
“However, even when she didn’t undergo any vicious maiming in the name of art, she still became ‘ill’ every week or so. I could never figure out why, but each time that I revitalized her I added in a little extra. Something to make her more human. What you see today is the result of years of fine-tuning.”
I felt sick to my stomach. “S-s-so what is she then? A robot?”
“Oh, no no. Nothing so simple.”
“Then what?”
“An automaton, a biological organism, something inanimate, something alive. At some point, I really lost track. Maybe even,” and I could tell that he wasn’t joking around, “A little bit of magic. The point is moot now, however, because now she is sentient.”
“That’s ridiculous!”
“You tell me. What do you feel when you are with her? When you conversed with her? When you kissed her? When you were intimate with…”
“Stop it!” I screamed, “She… I mean it is an abomination! For the love of God, man, how can you keep this up. She should have been destroyed long ago. For the love of all things holy, please end it.”
Jim was silent for a moment. It looked like his eyes were tearing up, and he quietly said, “No.”
I stood and walked out. I would end up going back to settle things later, but at he time I was overloaded with emotions.
Fast forward to today. I’ve put all of that behind me now. After the fiasco that was my relationship with Lily, I couldn’t stand to face my friends anymore. I am married now, have a great job, a nice house, and have moved very far away from Ohio. I have not spoken to Jacob or any of my other friends from back in those days. I stay away from Facebook or any other form of social media because I am afraid that someone will look me up. I don’t want to have “that conversation.”
I do keep in touch with Jim, though. He eventually perfected his creation and eliminated the need for revitalizing treatments. He went on to great success and works in Hollywood now. Has even has his own studio.
In fact, I just got off the phone with Jim a short while ago. I guess that is what brought all these memories flooding to the surface. We arranged a visit, and my lovely wife and I will be flying to California next week, where he has invited us to stay at his estate. We will be spending quite a bit of time with Jim over the next several months. You see… Lily is pregnant.
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2020.10.14 09:00 VesuviusBlotch The 10-Step Guide to Enjoying the next Skulduggery Pleasant book (6,000 subscriber special)

Hello. It’s a trifle startling to check my last post and realise it was nearly a full month ago but I just had to post something to celebrate my favourite sub (and the only one I’m active on-you’re welcome) on its latest milestone of 6,000 subscribers. Again, it’s startling to think I joined less than two years ago when it was less than half that number. We’ve really ballooned. Now, despite university being reasonably taxing, I’ve actually got more free days than working ones, so here’s a quick post I wrote last night in a lasagne-filled stupor. It’s dumb and not everyone can relate, but here’s my personal Ten Step guide on how to enjoy Skulduggery Pleasant Book 14: Breaking Through (yes, I know, shut up). Let’s begin:
1: Tear apart the Title announcement. Now that we have a release date and page number cemented, the next big thing to get hyped for is the title announcement. I personally predict it’ll come out around NovembeDecember time but whatever it is, I cannot wait to analyse it to death and perhaps better still, watch the swarms of fan descend upon it and criticise it. (Seriously, remember when people were condemning Phase 2 for its one-word titles and somehow that automatically made Derek ‘lazy’? Just look at Hitchcock and you’ll see that one-word titles, if anything, are superb because they reveal little spoilers and just enough to indicate what a central focus or theme is in the story.)
2: Go nuts over the Cover reveal. Assuming this doesn’t release simultaneously with Step #1 which is not impossible, the cover is next on the agenda. Although my theory that the amount of characters on each Phase 2 book cover would grow by one was dashed with SOW, I am very much exhilarated imagining the goodies on Book 14. Skulduggery and Valkyrie are a given- Crepuscular is a must unless he’s being saved for Book 15 (there needs to be more art of this guy- where are the DeviantArt pros at?!) At this point, I’d be satisfied with bearded, scarred Vex or Temper (especially if it was Gist Temper, that’d be sweet). I feel like Omen (assuming he lives that long) should be saved for Book 15, since he is a major Phase 2 player and the last art of him being a badass young sorcerer in his Seventh Year? Killing ittttt. Last but not least, there’s the colour scheme. If the date announcement was any indication, we’re getting a fierce inferno shade for 14 which is similar to my own prediction (a goldish one, although I proudly reminisce how I nailed SOW’s green) but ultimately, I just hope the story behind the cover is as fiery and explosive as its exterior.
3: Apocalypse Kings’ The Thing. Now, a grain of truth. The title and cover art are something I can theorise on as can all of you, but Apocalypse Kings is just a marvellous mystery for me. I know from talk it’s set during Phase 1, which is always a treat, but the story? The characters? What the hell the title is referring to? Search. Me. I personally am torn between wanting it to wrap up the dimensional ghost storyline from Theatre Of Shadows and wanting it to be on something completely original because that already got covered in a spinoff. If the white-skinned dude gets sorted, I kind of want it to happen in the main series (after all, Bubba Moon’s allegiance was confirmed in Resurrection which was a major drool-worthy moment). All that aside, Apocalypse Kings is the top priority here. The sooner we get it, the sooner we can obsess about that and forget all about the fact that Book 14 is only a month ago. And admittedly, the sooner we’ll remember it exists and start prancing around in exuberance anyway, goddammit.
4: Shut up and read. I can’t remember if my dad asked me this or somebody on the sub did (apologies if it was, but you might not be memorable) but the question was: do I enjoy reading a new book for the first or the second time? That’s a harder question than Skulduggery vs Valkyrie for me (character-wise, not power-wise, he’d smoke her ass) but there’s something so delicious about the first time. Devouring a new story, so engulfed with all its pinnacles and flaws, it’s impossible for me these days to open a Skulduggery Pleasant book and shut it halfway through to read the rest tomorrow. It could be a bonus 700 pager, and I’d still need, *need* to finish it that day. This was a crutch reading Midnight at well, midnight, but I saved SOW until the morning after I received it in the mail and that was rewarded with a 10/10 experience. Rest assured, I will do the same with 14. Now, confession time. When I got Bedlam and SOW, I did peek to a bit later on in the book. What I saw ended up being Razzia’s name and her discussing a Darkly boy (turns out, she was roasting Omen in her POV. Love that girl) and for the latter, it was ‘Vengeous’s head’. I was that close to spoiling Vengeous’ fate for myself. Lucky that at the time, I misread it as Vengeous’ beard but that taught me a lesson and Book 14 will be getting no sneak peeks. None. Never. Patience is its own reward. Besides, my dad learned that the hard way when he skipped to Midnight’s ending when he bought it for me and glanced at Crepuscular’s name. I was incensed.
5: Read it again. Fairly obvious at this point. Reading the book a second time (or four more times in my case) is always a treat not just because the fight scenes that you 9/10 skimmed have some pleasurable details hidden, but now you know the outcomes and fates, the tension building up towards it all is engaging as the first time. It feels more like relishing a full meal rather than just gobbling it all up. Yet both taste equally as exquisite. For me, re-reading also helps with my memorising the events and chapter names/numbers/POVs/all that baloney. Trust me, I don’t set out to do it but when you memorise the other thirteen books, you might as well memorise the fourteenth. It’s just logical. One exercise I’ve recently undertaken is practicing the voices for the characters as I read through dialogue but so it isn’t boring in future, I just read description in my head unless the description is just so juicy I can’t resist (that was an enormous problem with Resurrection, let me assure you). Ultimately, this and Step #4 are unquestionably the steps any fan worth their salt will follow. And if by some travesty, you don’t intend to…well, you might as well whittle that sub count back to 5,999 right damn now.
6: Create your chapter names. Now, I’ll keep this one short because A) it speaks for itself and B) I’ve already posted my self-made chapter names for Phase 2, the novellas and Book 9’s ‘Nameless Ones’ so you probably get the gist by now (insert Gist joke). However, I will say that creating and assigning my own chapter names for Phase 2 is one of the most enjoyable, yet challenging and creative tasks I’ve ever found myself doing. It’s perfect for someone like me obsessed with chapter names (seriously, I’ve done them for Dragon Age, Neverwinter Nights, whole Excel docs devoted to these) and my favourite book series. I can’t believe it took me until 20-fucking-18 to start the creative ball rolling. Of course, getting feedback on them from you lot is the highlight of it all. Although I do recommend not actually writing them down in your book copies. We’re not savages (and if you have, kudos, but maybe a chill pill). I do recommend my previous chapter name posts and if you want any links, just comment below and I’ll be more than happy to reply. Hell, if you want to create your own chapter names and share your ideas, that’d be wizard.
7: Music be the food of love. This might be even more obscure than the above. Truthfully, I’m not as invested in becoming the master auteur and director for all Skulduggery Pleasant films and media that I was a year or so ago, but my passion for being in charge of the musical side of the adaptations (animated, television or otherwise) has not waned. I’m still enamoured with song ideas for each and every SP story and still have songs saved up for the occasion. I’m not so hot on sharing the links to my old posts on them because once Book 15 comes out, I’ll do a grand summary post anyway, but feel free to check them out on my profile and let me know any of your own ideas (it’s common to think about character themes, but this is a potential adaptation we’re talking about, not the dark side of YouTube).
8: Write a monster review. Writing up my vast reviews last year was a real passion for me and as my last review of Book 13 proved, they’re still pretty popular (seriously, wow, that thing had like 96 votes last time I checked and not a single bozo threw a tl;dr at me, you guys/gals are the best) but it’s almost saddening to think there’s only two more I can possibly do in future. Each review gets longer than the previous and I swear, I need about ten Strongbows to get in the right mindset (both to unleash the ecstatic, unreserved side but also to numb the pain of my fingers after all that typing), but it’s worth it every time. Next to that passion, memes are superfluous. Yeah. I said it. Oh, and just to follow on, this step includes all the discussion posts that inevitably follow a book release. I believe the hottest topics after Bedlam and SOW’s releases were “If Valkyrie is a Faceless One, how did she touch the black crystal though?” and “Wow, that finale was rushed” respectively. I have seen both of these way too many times so if you honest-to-God want my opinion on it, crawl into a bush and perish.
9: Read To Dad. Now, we arrive at my favourite step. Yes, I adore SP to my inner core (TMI? Eh.) but as soon as I finish reading, my next stage isn’t to mull on what the next book will hold, it’s what dear old Papa will think of it. Seriously, I’d love to re-read Phase 1 to Dad, because back in the early 2010s, my voice was pitiful compared to the glorious bass it is now and considering I’ve got university and *shudder* life pressing in and I’m already mapping out the last two SP books and Harry Potter to read to him, it seems unlikely to happen (good thing I re-read The Maleficent Seven, several Armageddon Outta Heres and Books 8 and 9 in 2018 to prep him for Phase 2, cos damn those were some sweet memories). But Dad loves Phase 2. He genuinely does. Does he like every character? No. Does he agree with every plotline direction? No, but that’s what I love about reading to him, it’s not just a fun time where I do character voices and we have a good laugh (Skulduggery, Saracen, Fletcher, Wreath and the Scapey gang are the greatest culprits for that, by the by) he’s fully invested in the story and his reactions are just precious. Treasured. I’m not rubbing it in, because not everyone on this sub has this opportunity, but the sheer love and joy that I feel when experiencing the story all over again and sharing the experience with someone else is truly special and unique and honestly hope that everybody reading this gets the chance to experience the same feeling in their lives.
10: Lather, rinse, repeat. Once I’ve read the beloved tome to the beloved father, there’s only one course left. No, not the Q & A post. They’re good but not worthy of their own paragraph (no offence, askers or Dad, if you’ve sprouted a Reddit account and reading this). No, the tenth and final step is to start building up Hype for the Next One. See, it’s in capitals and everything. Mostly for me, it’s just commenting complex theories on random posts, but I like to think we all band together as a community and construct a deep-seated enterprise of hype all to prepare for the next book and repeat the cycle. Won’t lie, my heart did a little flip-flop when I realised that the period between Book 14 and 15 will be the last time we can fully experience this list again. After Book 15, what will be building towards? I’ll tell you. Memories. A thousand beautiful, bittersweet memories of the time we all came together and bonded over this book series. Then, we shall all split apart, make our own way in life and get on with it all. But just saying, the Harry Potter books ended in 2007 and their subreddit might be even more active than ours. So don’t lost hope. And just for the record, if I die accidentally of Covid or just in a car crash before the last book rocks our world…thank you, all and good luck in whatever endeavours you pursue after Skulduggery Pleasant finally ends. I, personally, will make some more Excel lists, maybe start posting on a new sub and taking it over step by gradual step, might start writing my own anthology of stories set in SP-verse and upload them on fanfiction sites so there'll be more stories to relish out there, and then inner peace if I’m lucky. Time will tell.
Once again, big thanks to anyone who actually read this dross, it was definitely the result of too much orange juice and an overworked mind, but seriously, hope you enjoyed this little insight into the grey mire that is my mind and if you do actually have any chapter name ideas or song ideas for an SP adaptation, shoot, I’m willing to listen, to admire and judge silently while giving vague praise. Here’s to the next 6,000 subscribers and the absolute brain-fuck they’ll receive when they realise: we are the best subreddit in existence.
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2020.10.10 23:06 Hufahted Ok... fair's fair.

Quick background... Hectic lives (helping (30LL SO through med school, SO helping me 40HL with my kids- cool, even Steven there) slowed down the passion a lot. Then a while back SO says "I want an asexual relationship." I recently had time to mull that over, and decided I don't want to leave, too old and tired, and too disillusioned with the opposite sex to want to try yet again for the same B.S. So, I decided I'm done with trying to be the perfect spouse and just be roommates. I'm not really withholding affection (IMHO) just treating them like I would a roommate of my same gender, as basically requested. Splitting checks, cutting out all pet names...etc. Way colder than a happy marriage, but not mean or spiteful (hard line to walk for sure) Just putting that out there as another option for others. Usually the advice here is pack up and leave. And some people can't/don't want to.
(Genders withheld because people tend to react very differently based on that info)
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2020.10.09 22:23 TaxReligion A Dungeon Game (Part 1 and 2)

Foreword: This is a serialization that I started posting on Royal Road Here. I found this sub and realized it fit your criteria, so I figured I'd try crossposting it. Hope you enjoy it.
Part 1: In The Dark
The veil of slumber lifted. Perry's eyes opened to opaque black. Not a sliver of light, no outlines or shapes were discerned. Absolute darkness.
Was he wearing a sleeping mask? Perry didn't normally wear one. When he would wake up in his room, even in the dead of night, he would be able to see something. The light from a nearby streetlamp would pierce between his blackout curtains and give the world shape. And there were always sounds; leaves rustling from the wind, bugs in the bushes outside, or drunks shouting at each other way louder than was neighbourly. All he heard now was the blood moving inside his ear, relaying the beating of his heart. Outside that was an eerie silence.
His memory was foggy and didn't quickly present an explanation. Where was he? He remembered the green summer leaves rushing past him, with flashes of light hitting his eyes as the sun found space to break through the trees. The sound of a constant hum and people murmuring to each other. He was on a train headed to a graduation event, to end his highschool life with an awkward socializing bang.
He truly couldn't wait for the opportunity to spend a weekend at a rented out cottage with a few classmates he liked, and a bunch he despised. Perry and some of the other members of the environmental club were taking the train together. So train… then complete darkness. Maybe he got blackout drunk? Maybe he got so blackout drunk he went blind? Is that a thing that can happen?
He moved his hand to his face, feeling the familiar texture and shape of his nose and mouth. Everything seemed to be in place, and no sleeping mask to be found. He checked his clothing, it felt like it was what he was wearing on the train. His vintage Rush t-shirt and his black dress pants. His belt was fastened. Whatever happened, it was unlikely he intended to sleep here. He felt the bulge in his pocket, perfect. Perry pulled out his cellphone and saw the flashing light indicating a new text message.
Perhaps this text message would illuminate the situation. It already eased his worries by demonstrating he wasn't blind. The cellphone lit up on command, brightly displaying the date and time. 11:23 am July 7th. Battery 65%. The train ride was yesterday.
He entered his pattern to get to the home screen. Okay, first things first. He checked his clash of clans app to find out if they won the clan war. No Wi-Fi… Drats! No reception at all. He opened his text messages.
Mom: Have fun at the cottage! Don't forget to eat your lunch on the train. It's an egg salad sandwich so it'll go bad if you wait too long.
Dated yesterday. She sent it during the train ride. No clues there he guessed. Now for the flashlight app. He pushed himself up from the smooth and hard ground so that he in a sitting position then activated the flashlight.
It revealed bodies lying on the grey, concrete-like floor. He swung the phone around to count the bodies, five of them. He recognized one of them immediately. It was his friend Shane. He wore his distinctive purple long sleeve shirt, and had a head of bright red hair, even in this dim light it was obviously him.
Perry crawled to Shane. He was still breathing, still alive, but unconscious. Perry grabbed Shane's arm and shook it, trying to jostle Shane awake. He stirred immediately, his eyes opening with a lazy squint.
"Hey man. What the fuck is going on?" Perry whisper shouted, his voice cracking in anxiousness. His thoughts had wandered to a memory of watching Deliverance with his father. This situation was starting to creep him out and his imagination was going to some dark places.
"What are you talking about?" Shane responded with an annoyed look on his face. Perry turned off the flashlight, giving his friend the opportunity to take in the void that surrounded them. "Wait, where are we?"
"Shh. Be quiet, there's four other people sleeping here." At least he hoped they were sleeping. Shane didn't need to think about that yet though. "That's what I want to know. I just woke up completely in the dark. What's the last thing you remember?"
Perry heard the deep inhale and exhale as Shane took a few seconds to respond. "We were on a train headed for that stupid party you forced me to go to."
"I didn't force you. I hardly wanted to go."
"Hardly my ass. More like hard for Priya. You wanted to go as soon as you found out Priya was going."
"Shut up. Man, we need to deal with what's going on right now. We're probably in some hillbilly's dungeon about to get ass-raped. Like in Deliverance."
"Never seen it."
"Like Bruce Willis in Pulp Fiction."
"I haven't seen that either."
Perry shook his head for no one to see. "Do you have your knife on you?" Perry knew that Shane the cub scout usually carried a trusty knife. It was a beast of a hunting knife. One would think that Shane was a punk out for no good from the size of that knife, but only if you didn't know him. The reality was he wouldn't hurt a soul, a real goody-two-shoes.
"Yeah, I do. I also have my cellphone, wallet, the case for my glasses, and my keys." There was a pause as the same realization dawned on the friends. "Wait a minute, why would the perverts who kidnapped us leave us with all our stuff? Especially a knife."
"Yeah, something's up. Let's check these other people," said Perry. He turned the flashlight on his cellphone back on, dimming it to its lowest setting, then using it to get a good look at each person still asleep (hopefully) in turn.
They knew all of them. They were the members of the environmental club, Gregory, Priya, Heather and Katie. Perry hated Gregory with a passion. The hate stemmed from an incident in middle school.
It was a cool autumn day. Squirrels scurried about in a frenzy trying to prepare for the winter. And Perry needed to take a shit, but the bathrooms were busy. The only stall available was the one with a broken locking mechanism. He swallowed his personal reservations and steeled his resolve. Atop his throne, he let loose a flurry, but alas that was when the incident occurred. Greg kicked the stall door open, brazenly screamed "Pranked!" then drop kicked Perry in the stomach.
"It was just a prank, man," said Gregory a year later, when Perry called him on his shit. "You gotta learn to forgive and forget." That was the worst part. Okay, Perry could admit that kicking a guy while he took a shit, sure, that's funny. But to just expect Perry to let it go as if he was a spoilsport for expecting an apology or some remorse, that was infuriating.
By junior year, Greg had grown out his hair, started smoking weed on the daily, and joined the environmental club. He acted like he was some kind of saint. If you saw his Instagram, you would want to puke from the sheer audacity of how he portrayed himself.
It was like an imitation of Priya's Instagram, which was a familiar account to Perry. He'd creep her account from time to time, seeing her donating her old clothes, cleaning a beach somewhere, or volunteering at a hospital. Perry thought the world of her big heart, and the even bigger personality protruding from her chest.
Heather and Katie were Priya's friends, to the best of Perry's knowledge. Perry didn't really care. If Perry's life were some epic tale, they would be mere background characters. Red-shirts that appeared, then quickly died, to establish stakes. They were in the same club, so they spoke every so often, but it was usually just pleasantries or logistics.
"It's the rest of the environmental club," whispered Shane.
"Let's not wake them yet. Let's try to get an idea of what's going on." Perry moved the light to get a view of the room.
No furniture, or decorations at all. They weren't even in a room, it seemed to be the area that three corridors met. No doors were visible. The walls were the same grey as the floors. From their current vantage, the light just disappeared into the corridors, as if it went into a deep void.
This wasn't some pervert's basement, it was far too large. Maybe it was some sort of organization of perverts with lots of resources. Some big international group, with property all around the world, and a reputation for raping children. But who could that be? People would know about them. They would have to be hundreds if not thousands of years old. Maybe they would hide in plain sight? Pretend to have the moral high ground, hide behind their pretense of holier than thou morality to hide their sinister deeds, like Bill Cosby.
Enough of this speculation, Perry thought to himself. It was useless. They just needed to investigate and find the facts. "Let's see what down one of these corridors."
Shane nodded, pulling out his knife. "Put your hand on my shoulder. I'll walk out front. You shine the light for me."
They stood up, and Perry placed his shaking hand on his platonic friend's shoulder. "Alright, I'm ready."
They slowly stepped forward, down one of the corridors. With each step, Perry's heart beat harder. Thump. A turn became visible. Thump. As they approached the corner his heart felt like it would beat right out of his chest, and his breathing felt constricted. Thump. Shane was breathing heavily too, and the light hitting his neck showed his shivering. Thump. They were at the corner, their vision obscured by it. Thump. What could be around it? Thump! They turned the corner and… Nothing. More corridor, with more offshoot corridors barely visible.
Perry thought this place seemed like a maze.
Part 2: Waking Up Friends
"We might need to conserve our batteries," worried Shane. And Perry knew immediately what he was getting at. If this place was a maze, a deep and punishingly dark maze, then they would need to think of their battery life as a quickly depleting resource.
"Yeah, I'm turning off the light. But, get up against the wall first, and we'll follow it back." Perry turned off his flashlight. In the absolute dark they slowly moved back to from whence they came. Carefully placing each step as if the terrain were treacherous, or slippery. Hyper aware of the sounds they made, their heavy breathing, and the air moving through the corridors making ghost-like noises.
The more Perry thought about this place, the more creeped out he got. The feeling of this weight on his chest appeared, restricting his breathing, making him feel even more trapped. Just concentrate on your breathing, in and out. He concentrated, pushing his turbulent thoughts to the back of his mind until the weight alleviated.
As they got closer to the place they woke, a faint light appeared on Heather's freckled face. It was a green and purple light coming from her cellphone, probably reflecting her home screen, then it turned to red when she must have opened some app. Then she turned in fright as Perry took another step. She frantically flipped through her favorite apps to find her flashlight and flagrantly flashed the light in Perry's eyes, blinding him with brilliance due to his eyes being unadjusted.
She gave a terrible shriek, an unexpected reaction from Perry's perspective. From Heather's though, it was a sensible response to the situation. She woke up in the dark, not knowing where she was or how she got there. Then while checking her phone she heard a sneaky sound in the dark, slowly approaching. And when she, in a panic, got her flashlight to work, what did it reveal? Two shadowy figures holding a big ass knife.
"Whoa! Stop screaming! It's us! Me and Shane," said Perry quickly.
"What the fuck!" shouted Greg in his annoying whiny voice.
"Where are we?!" asked Katie loudly.
Priya topped their reactions though, she just screamed at the top of her lungs. It was a long scream and just when you thought it was almost over, it just kept going.
"Shut up! Everyone shut up!" Perry shouted, raising his hand and waving it wildly in an attempt to command attention.
Priya stopped screaming, not necessarily thanks to Perry. Her lungs had to give out eventually. But the chaos remained. Greg was furious. "Perry! What the fuck! What did you do!"
"I didn't do anything!"
"Why were you awake! Why do you want us to be quiet! Why do you guys have that fucking knife!" Greg continued to shout, even over the top of Perry's response.
"Shut up! Shut up! Shut up!" Perry shouted even louder than before. His eyes displaying the fierce anger he was known for. They all knew the tale of the time he lost his anger, and almost got himself kicked out of school. All the shit he went through in the past year swelled up inside him like the fury of a thousand suns. His face turned beet red. "Shane, hand me the knife."
Shane handed it over without a second thought. He was the truest of bros.
"Everyone else needs to shut up! I have the conch!" Perry said pumping the knife into the air for emphasis. "This knife is the fucking conch. So you all need to be quiet and listen up."
They all fell silent. Perry waited a second to make sure it sunk in.
"We woke up just like the rest of you. In the dark. The last thing I remember is being on the train. We don't know where we are. But this place looks big. It's too big to just be some guy's basement."
"What's going on!" Greg rudely interjected. "Give us answers, now!"
"I don't have any answers you dumb fuck! Weren't you listening to what I just said? We're as lost as you are. What's going on? Your guess is as good as mine."
"Then fuck you! Give me the conch, I want to speak now," said Greg. The light from Heather's phone still blinded Perry. What were they doing? Was Greg gonna try and take the knife? There was no way Perry would let Greg lay a hand on that knife.
"No! This knife belongs to Shane." Perry gave the knife back to Shane and said to him, "Don't let Greg hold the knife."
"I wasn't planning on it."
"The conch thing was just a figure of speech. I just needed everyone to calm down. You can talk, we just need to stay calm now. But if you try and take this knife from Shane, I swear, I will bite your nose off while Shane stabs you!" They all were silent for a second.
"We need to conserve our cell phone battery life," said Shane. "We aren't accomplishing anything with it right now, and they are our only light sources. You should turn off the flashlight."
"Yeah, like I said this place is big. It's like a maze," continued Perry. The light kept glaring in their faces. "We're gonna need light to find our way out of here."
"I don't feel comfortable turning off the light," said Heather's voice. "Not with you guys having a knife."
"Well, are you guys gonna do anything about that?" asked Shane. "Otherwise, all that's happening is you're gonna run out of batteries. Then we will have the knife and the light advantage, and you'll have nothing."
"Then we'll take the knife," said Greg. "Comon, there's four of us! If we all attack at once they don't stand a chance."
"You first," said Katie sarcastically.
They ruminated in the silence that followed. Turns out Greg was all talk because he never made a move. Heather finally relented, and turned off her flashlight. "Fine," she said. "Now what?"
Perry shrugged, but in the darkness that failed to convey anything. "I don't know." Perry wanted to look to Shane for advice. To Perry, Shane was Mr. Survivor. If the train had derailed and they had to survive in the wilderness, there's no one he would rather have with him, except maybe Bear Grylls.
"We should probably try to look for an exit," said Shane. "We should hold hands and follow along a single wall. See if that gets us anywhere. We can use our flashlights intermittently to check if we find anything of interest."
"Wait, does anyone hear that?" said Heather.
Perry perked up his ears, listening to the dark. Nothing. All he heard was the same wind as before.
"I don't hear anything," said Priya's voice.
"Everyone just be really quiet for a minute. I heard, like, a scraping sound." Everyone stopped talking, and some even held their breath. They all concentrated on their hearing.
He heard it. A scraping sound just like Heather said, coming from one direction.
"I hear it," Greg proclaimed, giving Perry the opportunity to shh him hard. A harsh, satisfying shh to put him in his place.
They continued to listen, it was getting louder. As it got louder they could hear the nuance contained in the sound. It was layered with the beat of footsteps.
"I hear footsteps," said Perry, as quietly as he could.
"Shh!" That was probably Greg, Perry thought.
"I hear the footsteps too," Heather agreed. "But there's something off about them, the rhythm. It's too slow."
"Um, is this a good or bad thing?" asked Katie. "Like, maybe we should start moving away from whoever this is."
"They could be our captors," mused Shane. "Or they could be someone sent to find us. They could want to help us."
They mulled it over, all the while the scraping sound got louder and louder. If they didn't make a decision, one would soon be made for them.
"We can't move that fast in this dark," said Greg. "We should wait for them. And if it's our captor, we fuck 'em up."
"Greg is right." The words left a bitter taste in Perry's mouth. "We can have our phones out and ready. I only heard one set of footsteps. That means six against one, if it comes down to that."
After that they were all in agreement. They each moved themselves to have their back to a wall. Shane and Perry made sure to be close by to each other. They took their phones out and waited.
The sound kept getting louder, the footsteps more pronounced. Louder than Perry expected. Maybe it was just an effect of the quiet, he thought. The way a leaky faucet could sound like a beating drum when he tried to fall asleep. The footsteps started to feel powerful.
Then he heard it. A loud animal like growling. One of the others turned on their light and shone it to get a look at whatever it was. What he saw would best be described as a minotaur. Red eyes, brown fur, the head of a bull. The creature was huge too, taking up most of the corridor it stood in. It was muscular, with two human like arms, holding a fucking battle axe. The axe scraping against the floor as it began charging forward. It bore its sharp teeth. Perry realized they didn't stand a chance. Six vs one? This thing will destroy them.
"Run!" shouted Shane, as he flicked on his light. They all bolted.
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2020.10.07 14:23 newtotownJAM I’m a dentist for monsters. It’s time we talked about The Beast.

It’s time. Time to talk about the oddity in the room. I know you’re all desperate to know what the Beast of a quaint little village, who went on to be my saviour at the convention could have possibly done to cause so much offence.
I know I can be brash, but I assure you my opinion of the Beast wasn’t formed lightly and certainly wasn’t the mere result of my antisocial tendencies. No. He’s the source of a thousand sleepless nights and the bringer of tragedies you aren’t aware of yet.
We’ll get there, I promise, but there’s so much more you need to know.
When I met the Beast, his teeth had stood out. I’d never seen such crowded, angry looking fangs. I’m loathed to even describe them as fangs, they resembled thick tusks, battling each other for space.
Instantly I knew what to do. He needed a multiple extraction job and when he asked me about it I could hear his pain. His gums were swollen and red raw and his mouth couldn’t shut at all. Even I winced a little looking at them.
He saved my life. So I didn’t charge.
I offered my services pro bono, with genuine gratitude. Fascinated by his abilities and unusual adaptations, I found myself genuinely excited for the appointment.
Pearl had taken over my whole world and since taking her on I’d put my pursuit of monster knowledge on the back burner. I’d let my emotions get to me in Abelfort and I hadn’t checked my database in far too long. I was so wrapped up in motherhood.
The Beast reignited my passion.
I booked him in for a week after my incident at the Harakungu’s underground palace. It was the earliest I had available and in the run up I enjoyed a mundane week filled with regular, local patients.
When the day came I was inexplicably nervous. I was used to monsters, nothing shocked me, but he was like nothing I’d ever seen before. He could heal.
I had so many questions I was ready to burst.
I felt like I did when I first opened the practice, waiting for the first patient to sit down. I’d been fortunate back then to land a golden patient for my first, but I doubted the beast was going to be half as easy as kind, elderly shapeshifter, Mr Prentice.
“Day, do you want a coffee?” Coco’s voice rang in my ears. It wasn’t her fault, I appreciated her kindness but I’d been up much of the night with Pearl and it was the end of the shift, with only the one appointment to go.
I’d just finished a plaque removal and deep cleanse on a particularly foul smelling oddity, who lived on a diet of insects and small mammals. The mention of a coffee or any other liquid made me heave. I never knew bugs could make teeth so... brown.
“I’m good thanks.”
Coco shrugged and switched on the kettle behind reception anyway.
“Pliers at the ready?” She asked. “Do you think he’ll let you keep one?”
That was a prospect that hadn’t crossed my mind. I loved to keep extraction trophies. Creepy, I know, but they were great for research and my collection was truly fascinating. The Beast needed multiple teeth removed, I’m sure if I asked nicely he’d consider it.
“I hope so.” I responded, grinning. “I need to get set up, can you keep an eye out here?”
Coco nodded and swirled a spoon in the No. 1 receptionist mug I’d gotten her for Christmas, bobbing her head to the faint sound of the radio. I made my way along the hall to my treatment room and gagged a little at the lingering smell.
I spritzed the room with freshener, placed my used instruments into the steriliser and disposed of anything single use. I laid out pliers and a syringe full of anaesthetic, sanitised the chair and readied myself. While I waited for my patient I sat at my computer, smiling at the photograph of Pearl that sat next to it.
Her little face kept me going through the day. Coco and I were planning to pick her up a small bird on the way home, for dinner. I couldn’t wait to see her but just for this appointment, I was grateful for my job and for her sitter, Evan.
Distant sounds of a chattering Coco were what alerted me to his arrival. I waited for a few minutes before I went to collect him. I usually lamented my friend for her overt friendliness with patients but when I entered the waiting room to see her giggling away next to a giant, warm and smiley man I couldn’t blame her.
Despite his obvious affliction, the Beast was traditionally attractive and gave off an air of charm that was intoxicating. Longish, tousled waves just stroked his shoulders and his arms were muscular through his clothing, which was incredibly human for a monster living in a hotspot like Cordyline Hill.
I don’t know what I’d been expecting but robes would’ve been less of a shock than the Jeans/ shirt combo he was in. If it hadn’t been for the abominable mouth and near giant height, I suspected he’d have been quite the traditionally desirable bachelor.
“Good afternoon Doctor, it’s nice to see you on your feet!” He spoke with a slight impediment, words struggling to carry through the forest of teeth and inflamed gum.
“It’s nice to be on them.” I replied. “Would you like to come through?” I gestured to the hall and let him lead the way to the treatment room, turning just in time to catch a glimpse of Coco swooning slightly at her desk.
“Have a seat...” I stumbled, realising that it felt quite jarring to refer to someone in person as the Beast. “What do you prefer I call you? Is it Beast or do you have a name?”
The Beast struggled to squish himself into my extra large dental chair, the armrests pushing into the sides of his enormous legs.
“I had a name. But no one’s asked me that question in a very long time. Beast will do for now.”
I noticed a slightly wistful look in his eyes as he mentioned names. It gave me my first clue to his nature. If he had once been named then I suspected The Beast of Cordyline Hill had been made, not born. I was almost certain he had once been human. This was rare for oddities, even more so for area specific monsters who are usually what they appear to be for an eternity.
He was an anomaly.
“Can I get you anything to drink?”
“It just slips through the gaps Doctor, I’d give anything for a glass of water. It’s been months.”
My brain was whirring. Was he immortal?
“How do you survive without hydration? If you don’t me asking. You can call me Dayna if you prefer by the way, you saved my life and no money is exchanging hands, no need for formalities.”
“I wouldn’t call it surviving... Dayna.”
His cryptic responses weren’t going to cut it. I’d never been one to keep my thoughts to myself and I felt the word vomit coming.
“Forgive my rudeness but there’s really no delicate way to ask this. What happened to you.. to make you like this?”
“Why do you want to know?”
“It isn’t frequent that the monster saves the human. I don’t believe you were always a monster and I’ve always been incredibly nosey. Tell me to shut up and I’ll fix your teeth without anymore questions if you’d prefer, but you said that no one’s asked your name in a long time and I’d hazard a guess that you don’t get to talk very often.”
I felt myself shaking a little. The Beast had saved me but he was also more than capable of crushing me in an instant. And there I was, asking him detailed, personal questions like I was some sort of therapist. For fucks sake Dayna.
He looked uncomfortable, but not like he was going to crush me. I watched as he mulled over my requests and battled his own confusion that I even wanted to know. Then he offered me a deal.
“You think I’m a monster? Ha. Nothing new from the wonders of humanity. Fix me and I’ll tell you my story. You can consider it a tip if you want.” He spat.
“I’m sorry. I didn’t mean it that way. Deal.”
I washed my hands and put on a fresh pair of gloves before picking up the anaesthetic needle. My backtracking hadn’t worked and the Beast was still looking at me with a level of disappointment I could practically taste.
“That won’t be necessary Dayna.”
“Do you not feel pain?”
“I do. I’m not invincible. But I don’t want that needle and you can’t force it on me. Start pulling them... please.”
I shuddered at the thought of feeling each tooth yanked at the root from its home. The feeling of the cold metal of my pliers touching his swollen gum and clamping down on exposed nerves. I looked down at my patient, noted his stern face and realised there was no point in arguing. So I picked up my tool and asked him to open wide.
I counted a total of 76 teeth, more than double the average human. I’d seen monsters with hundreds before but unlike those examples his anatomy was overwhelmingly human and not able to support the sheer number.
Extraction was a workout. Each tooth was much larger in circumference than I was accustomed to working with. He never made a sound but the expression on his face had enough pain in it to keep me wincing on his behalf.
After around half an hour of medical torture, he was done and I was exhausted. I took off my gloves and turned to the tap by my station.
“Finished.” I handed him a small, plastic cup of water. “Try that.”
He sat up and took a few deep breaths before closing his mouth for the first time since we’d met. A real, distinguishable smile was visible, something I’d been yet to see on the Beasts face. Without the tusks on display, he was just a giant human man.
I felt like a hero as he shotted the water and looked at me, desperate for a second. It was chasing a feeling like that that had gotten me into dental school in the first place, albeit originally for slightly different patients.
“Thank you!” He savoured every drop of his drink and I continued refilling the cup. “You have no idea how much this will change my life.”
“You’re welcome. Mind if I keep one of those?” I gestured to a pile of extracted, bloody teeth on tissue.
“You’re a very strange woman, aren’t you? Knock yourself out. They’re no use to me.”
“Thanks.” I ignored his strange comment. “It’s your turn now. Time to answer my questions.”
“How do I know you aren’t out to lynch me and just trying to find out my weaknesses.”
“You don’t. Nothing’s certain. But you do have my word.”
“Strange. That’s your word. I’m going to trust you Dayna. Don’t misuse it, or you will find out why they call me the beast.”
I sat opposite him and nodded. I think he knew at the time that I was serious, but then we hadn’t hit any complications yet.
“My name was Edric Miller.”
“Edric.” I responded automatically, noting the visible reaction my patient had to hearing someone else say it. He closed his eyes and took a deep breath.
“I was born in Cordyline Hill, long before it was like it is now. My father was a miller and my mother died in childbirth, which my father resented me greatly for. It wasn’t a comfortable existence back then; damp wooden home with no electrics and none of the selection of foods that are readily available today.
“We lived an average existence. I had no dreams to be any more than what my father was.
“All things considered my father and I were amongst the wealthier villagers and as such when I grew so did the list of prospective wives. None of them interested me.
“Then I met a girl... a woman, travelling through the village. Her name was Rhea and she was electric, more alive than anyone I’d met before. It wasn’t a regular occurrence at the time to find a woman travelling alone. She came from a wealthy family, more than able to fund her adventures.
“We spent months together in the village, building a relationship, a life... dreams. But Rhea couldn’t be tethered to one place, she wanted to keep moving and she wanted me to go with her.”
Eyes wide, fully enthralled in the Beast’s tale I asked, “did you?”
“I agreed to, of course. I thought Rhea was my soulmate and wherever she would be would in turn be home. I gave her only one condition and that was that she married me. I wept when she said yes.
“Rhea became somewhat cagey once we were engaged. She was distant and less vibrant than she had been. Eventually, after I queried meeting her father to officially ask for her hand, she told me her secret.”
The Beast lowered his eyes and attempted to shuffle in the almost comically tiny chair. This wasn’t a story he’d told for a long time, I wondered exactly how long. Decades, hundreds of years? I didn’t want to interrupt, but I knew at some point I had to ask. After a few moments he continued.
“Rhea wasn’t human. I laughed when she told me.” He rolled his eyes at the irony. “She said that she wanted to let me into her world, take her to meet her family, but that I had to know that her father was an actual monster.
“It seemed ridiculous. I wouldn’t have believed a word that came out of her mouth had she not been able to provide me with proof. I thought she was hysterical as she raised a blade to her arm and cut right down the middle. Blood poured out and I became inconsolable; but not for long.
“She just touched the wound and it’s like her skin started to stitch back together, piece by tiny piece, until there was no wound at all. All within the space of a few minutes. I hadn’t previously been a believer in witches but in that moment I was sure I was going to marry one. And I didn’t care.
“I was so blinded by love and so oblivious to her true nature that I followed her, all through the countryside, sleeping under the stars, making love in meadows of wildflowers. I didn’t know it that early on but we’d conceived a child. A romance with a witch would’ve been an unconventional life but I was prepared to give up everything for her.
“I followed Rhea. We travelled, ending up in another small village. A clearing in the woods that you’ve been to before. Where we first met, Dayna. Do you get it yet?”
I took a moment to mull over his words as things started to fall into place, his story asking far more questions than it was answering. I was beginning to regret asking the initial question at all.
“Rhea was... was she?”
“The Harakungu’s daughter.”
Those three words opened an entire world of unexpected possibilities. I mentioned before that the Harakungu was a celebrity of sorts in the monster world, his story seemingly universally known. Yet not once had I ever heard of a daughter, a human passing one at that.
“What happened next?” I asked, desperate to know how Edric Miller had come to be the Beast of Cordyline Hill.
“I wasn’t this big... before. I was never small, though. I loved her enough to humour her ridiculous notion that I simply had to squeeze through the entrance. I expected to be covered in mud and making some serious decisions about my future with the madwoman. Then I dropped into the palace.
“Most people don’t know this about him but what you see isn’t what he looks like.”
I shuddered thinking about the Harakungu’s yellow eyes and needle sharp fangs.
“What does he look like?”
“Nothing. Everything. He can change his form however he sees fit. When I met him he was far closer to human passing, although the grand set of wings were quite the giveaway. I was terrified and way out of my depth but every time I looked at Rhea I saw the madness as worth it.
“We stayed in the palace for weeks, he was good to me at first. The disdain for humans was clear, he’d travelled across the whole world watching humans kill anything remotely like him for thousands of years. Still, he accepted my presence for Rhea’s sake and to mask his own hypocrisy. Rhea’s mother was human and other than that fact she was never spoken of.
“He grew angry as his daughters belly began to swell and we realised we were expecting a child. He sat me down and threatened me, made it clear that no human would be joining his family. I had to submit to my curse... to live with a part of the Harakungu’s power... as a monster or die and never see Rhea again.”
“What happened to her? And the baby?”
“It’s like a piece of tragic literature. Rhea perished in childbirth, just like my mother had, except months too early for the baby to survive. I lost them both. The Harakungu insisted it wasn’t possible, made every attempt to save them but no power would bring them back. I tried to heal her like I did you but she was cold. Gone.”
I felt a tear roll down my cheek, imagining a life without my own child. I had so much empathy for the Beast. I could understand his choices, how he’d come to be a monster. He continued.
“He was devastated and furious, unable to bear the sight of me. He sent me away, broken and like... this. I went back to my father, who kept me chained up like the disappointment I’d always been to him. Until I broke the chains and tore him apart. Since then I’ve lived in the same home, on the edge of town, abused by almost all who stumble across me.”
“Do you really let them abuse you?” I asked. Despite my compassion I struggled to imagine the Beast taking trouble from angry villagers.
“Not anymore. I used to but it didn’t get me anywhere. I grew to share my ex father in laws opinions of my previous species, perhaps even feel them to more of an extreme. Forgive me Dayna, but humans are the vermin.”
“I don’t disagree with you entirely. Why did you go to the convention, wasn’t it painful?” I’d already overstepped my mark so I continued to query.
“To meet you, I had to eat, to drink. There were a few others I was looking out for too, but I’d prefer to keep that private. It’s been hundreds of years, the Harakungu didn’t hold a grudge for tragedies beyond my control, especially when I keep his secrets. He would lose a lot of credibility if it was known that he reproduced with a person, so I’m tolerated. Still, I don’t often go out of my way to be around him.”
I nodded. “I’m sorry. Let me book you in for a six month check and I’ll remove any that regrow. Free, of course.”
“Thanks Dayna, I’m grateful honestly.”
I turned and walked out of the treatment room, leaving the Beast smiling on the chair. I checked on Coco, who was watching some Netflix on her computer at the front desk and got her to book in his follow up then I returned to the room to walk him out.
He was stood up when I returned and his demeanour had changed. The smile that had followed his relief was nowhere to be seen but it wasn’t the result of sadness after telling his story. It was as if something had happened to change his personality entirely just in the time I was out of the room.
He looked agitated. Angry.
“I’ve booked you in for...”
“That won’t be necessary.”
“Oh, what’s...”
“Do you want to hear another story Doctor? This one’s even more tragic.”
I struggled to understand why he was being so formal all of a sudden.
“I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
“Hundreds of years. That’s how long I’ve been beaten, set light to and victimised by humanity. Yet still, when shown kindness I’ve given it back. Just like I have for you Dayna.”
“I’m incredibly grateful, I don’t understand.” I saw him seething, the teeth I had previously been all over suddenly seemed quite intimidating and by fixing the crowding I had given him the ability to bite. My heart pounded.
“I helped a nice couple not long ago.” He rambled, pacing across the room, knocking over dental instruments with his giant body parts as he walked. “I felt real sorry for them. Reminded me of me after I lost Rhea. They’d had 8 miscarriages. Infertility is an awful thing. So I fixed her. Healed her. And they had a baby.”
I gulped, realising the direction the conversation was going.
“What I didn’t know was that the couple had visited a witch as well, by the name of Eudora Finch. She killed the couple in an attempt to claim the child that she had nothing to do with. Do you know what witches do with babies, Dayna?”
“They eat them.” I answered, knowing that he knew that Eudora hadn’t eaten Pearl.
“They eat them! Good answer. I suspected that was what had happened to, Eudora ate the baby and the couple became a bad plot of a sad fairy tale.”
I didn’t say a word but glanced over to my computer desk, where the photograph of my daughter should’ve been. My worst fears were confirmed when I noticed the frame, face down on the floor. Terrified I went to shout for Coco but the Beast spoke first.
“That isn’t what happened though Dayna. You know that though. Eudora didn’t know about my involvement in the child’s conception, just as I hadn’t known about the couples desperate plea to her. Recently, in fact, I’ve learned that Eudora didn’t eat the poor, orphaned, monster baby at all. She gave her to a human. One that without so much as a conversation, branded me a monster.”
I thought back to my offhand comment at the start of the appointment. A faux pas without this information but a fatal mistake with. The venom he spoke with was pungent, permeating the room with its vitriol.
As he’d told me his tale he had considered me an ally, but now I was nothing more than a threat, taking a monster child for my own. I could’ve handed her over. Solved the issue in an instant.
That was never going to happen though, Pearl was my daughter and I wasn’t going to palm her off to a bitter, unstable creature who would teach her hatred. In the space of minutes the Beast became an enemy of proportions that childless me could never have understood.
“I will find her.”
That was all that the Beast of Cordyline Hill hissed at me before pushing past and storming through the hall and out of the practice. He slammed the door so hard on his exit that the glass panel shattered. Flustered and trying to follow I grabbed hold of Coco, who was confused and babbling.
“Day, what happened?!”
I didn’t answer. My mind was too full. I tried to process the danger I was in but I couldn’t, it was only the beginning. All I knew at the time was that I had to take Coco and go home to Pearl.
We had to run.
The next part
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2020.10.07 00:43 Haunted-nightmares The Secrets of My Local Bakery

Before-story comments (Not to be narrated): Hello! I posted a story a little while back on the no-sleep forum. It got removed due to a minor break of the rules that I couldn't change without ruining the story. Since I really like what I did with this story, I wanted to get it back out there and share it again. I found this subreddit after listening to another one of Mr. Creep's amazing narrations and I couldn't wait to try my hand at getting my story narrated! The only rule was the story had to be over 2000 words, so I figured I was all in the clear to try my luck. Anyway, I won't hold you guys back any longer, here is my story: The Secrets of the Local Bakery.
Story (Narration Begins): Before I start this story, there is something I need to clear up. I feel it is important to inform you about how desperate I was when I first decided to take this job. I was eighteen, had just been kicked out of my house, and was sleeping in my car in the middle of a harsh Midwestern winter. My family just threw me out like trash and I had nowhere and no one to turn to. Each day was filled with cold, misery, and hunger. I was desperate for money and, with the limited job openings in my town, I had minimal options. So, when I was offered a position at the local bakery you can imagine how ecstatic I was. I hope this little blip of backstory also makes you understand why I can't leave this place. Even after I discovered it's secret.
I don't even really know why I am sharing this story to be quite honest. I guess it must just be something I feel the world needs to know and understand. One thing you should note is that I will not be sharing the names of any of the bakery or any of its workers. The bakery will go by just that, "The Bakery", and any people discussed in the story will be given aliases. I still need this job you know. Anyway, I better just get this ball rolling.
My first day on the job started on a Monday. I entered the bakery thirty minutes before opening, as instructed by the owner when we spoke over the phone the other day and waited by the front door. I do have to admit that the interview process wasn't exactly a stressful en-devour. Actually, it was the owner that called me in the first place. She said she needed someone to help around the bakery, heard about my situation, and offered me a job right on the spot. Obviously, I said yes and at the time I didn't care enough to ask any questions. I was just happy to have a job.
I remember just standing around and taking in all the scenery all around me, trying to get a feel for my new workplace. I remember thinking it was rather quaint. It had a 70's diner aesthetic. Checkered tiles, booths, silver-colored tables, and glass display cases were all present. The only difference was that instead of the classic red and black theme most classic 70's diners have, the whole place followed a pink and white color scheme. Everything was pink, the checkered tiles, the booths, everything. I figured it made sense for a bakery to have a pastel color scheme considering baked goods always tend to give you that happy, fuzzy feeling that pastel colors capture so well. I must admit it was a wise choice on the owner's part.
The owner emerged from the door to the kitchen just as I finished my examination. She was the classic embodiment of a sweet, old lady. She was rather short and a little plump. Her head was covered in curly gray hair that furled around her head like a small afro. She wore a vintage pastel pink dress with matching pink wedges as well as a white apron that seemed to be covered in flour and little bits of pastry dough. Her face was adorned with small white-framed reading glasses that hung at the tip of her nose and were held to her face with a string of white beads that draped behind her ears. When she first saw me her face lit up like the Fourth of July and I couldn't help but reciprocate her enthusiasm. I was already beginning to like her.
"Well hello deary!" she greeted in a gravely but honey-sweet voice, "You must be Gabriel, yes?"
"Yes ma'am, that's me" I responded, smiling from ear-to-ear.
I reached my hand out to shake her hand as she began to make her way towards me, but she disregarded my hand entirely and went straight in for a hug.
"Oh, nonsense. Your family now, there is no need for formalities" she cooed soothingly.
I chuckled slightly and hugged her back tightly. At that moment, I remember thinking how perfect this was. I got to work in a cute little bakery for a sweet old lady. What's better than that? Damn, looks really can be deceiving.
We both released ourselves from the embrace a couple of moments later. Still smiling, the owner, who we will call Marilyn, told me she was going to give me a quick tour of the place.
First was the kitchen, which was filled with exactly what you would expect to find in a bakery kitchen: Ovens, tables, stoves, a lot of cooking utensils, etc. Next was the food-storage room, which was stocked with basically every bakery ingredient you could imagine. There was also a refrigerated room that branched off the original room that contained, as you would expect, baking ingredients that needed to be refrigerated. Nothing out of the ordinary. There were a couple of other places she showed me after that, like the bathrooms, a cleaning closet, etc, but that's not what's important here. What was important was the locked room.
In the back of the kitchen was a room with thick metal double doors, similar to the ones in the refrigerated room I had just visited a little while before. As we got closer to the room I could feel the air around me beginning to chill, confirming my suspicions about the room being refrigerated. The most striking feature about this room though was the thick pink chains and large padlock that tied the two double doors together, separating the room from the rest of the world.
When we reached this room, Marilyn's demeanor seemed to shift in an instant. Her tone flipped from sweet and kind to serious and dark so fast it gave me whiplash.
"Gabriel, this is very important, so listen hard and listen well. You may never enter this room and I mean never. If you touch this lock I will have no choice but to let you go. Permanently."
Something about the way she said "permanently" told me that her threat meant much more than just firing me.
I was quiet for a few moments before responding in a shaky voice, "I- I understand ma'am".
"Good," she responded grimly.
A couple more moments of silence followed. She held my eyes with hers and I tried my best not to look away. Something about this little staring contest scared me more than her grim tone. I could tell that she was serious about her threat just by looking into baby-blue eyes. There was a darkness brewing behind her white-brimmed glasses that promised a grim outcome if I disobeyed her words.
Just as quickly as this interaction started, it seemed to end. As though she was flipping a switch, Marilyn returned to her normal pleasant self.
"Well deary, I guess that's all. How about we head over to the front desk and work out that old cash register, hmm?"
All I could muster in response was a terse nod, my mind still lingering on the locked room.
It didn't take long to learn how to use the ancient device that was the bakeries register. It was easy enough to use, granted that it would stick almost every time you used it and often required a few smacks on the side to get its gears up and running again. Still, I much preferred being stuck learning how to work that hunk of junk rather than be back in the kitchen by those locked doors with Marilyn. Even so, despite my reluctance, I couldn't help but wonder what that little old lady was hiding…
Still, despite any misgivings I had caused by the locked room threat, the next six months went by swimmingly. I quite enjoyed my job and enjoyed working for Marilyn. My job consisted of taking orders, working the cash register, serving people their food, and occasionally cleaning. I never baked though, Marilyn was the sole baker. I thought this strange since I imagined that it would be a lot of work for one little old lady to manage the whole kitchen, but I brushed it off as her not trusting anyone else to match her baking skills.
I mean, I must admit that it was insane how good her pastries were. Since I was an employee I got to bring one free pastry home and day and, honestly, it was the highlight of my day eating whatever scrumptious dessert she decided to bless the world with on that day. There was some quality about her pastries that no chain brand could ever live up to no matter what. It always made me wonder if she had some sort of secret ingredient she used. Hell, maybe that's what she is hiding in the locked room!
Speaking of which, I never had any more ominous conversations with her up until that point and avoided the locked room like the plague. I kept my curiosity at bay by coming up with random, plausible excuses about why she wouldn't want me to be in that room. I mean it could be a thousand different things. Still, no matter what explanation I tried to come up with, it didn't explain that look in her eyes. The look that threatened a dark fate if I were to peep through those doors. No matter what explanation I came up with, that locked room would always remain a mystery to me.
Well, at least that is what I thought…
It was almost closing time and the store was empty. I was sweeping the floors like I always did right before I clocked out. My mind was wandering and it just so happened that the locked door made its way into my thoughts again. I looked up to steal a glance at the door through the little opening in the wall that connected the kitchen and the rest of the store. The door was locked as always and Marilyn was nowhere in sight. I had guessed previously that Marilyn only entered the room after I clocked out or before I clocked in each day. I continued to stare at the door for a little while and it wasn't until a voice sounded beside me that I realized I had been caught.
"Gabriel, what are you doing?" said Marilyn in a sickly sweet tone.
My eyes went wide and felt my skin crawl at the tone of her voice. I turned to face her and saw that she was staring at me with cold, accusing eyes. I tried to explain myself but could only muster out a jumbled apology. I always had been a bad liar.
"I- I- um. I am so sorry ma'am I was just- uh"
"I am going to stop you right there young man. There is no use in trying to find excuses."
Her voice did not share the same darkness that it did on the first day we talked about the locked room, which was good. It was more akin to a mother scolding her child rather than a dangerous threat. This relaxed me only just a little though since I still expected to be punished.
I slumped my shoulders in defeat and began to feel my eyes fill with tears. I was preparing to be fired right there and then, but that was not what happened. Marilyn put her hand on my shoulder in a comforting manner. I looked up to meet her gaze and I saw that she wore an expression of understanding and empathy, which was not what I was expecting.
"I can't punish you for being curious deary. Your human and humans are curious by nature. So I will offer you this..." she paused for a moment as if rethinking what she was going to say before continuing, "I will show you what's behind the door if you really want to know but heed my warning. If you tell anyone about what you saw, I will have no choice but to let you go... permanently. Do you understand?"
There it was again, that same phrase, that same threatening darkness in her eyes. I knew right then and there that if I accepted her offer, there was no going back. Ever. I mulled over it for a moment, weighed the pros and cons in my mind, but ultimately I agreed.
Looking back at it now, I think she knew. She knew that my curiosity would be too much for me and that I would be unable to say no. She trapped me the moment she offered me that deal.
She nodded her head tersely at my response and looked into my eyes once more. I could tell she was scanning my eyes for hints of hesitation or dishonesty, but at that moment I was certain and I knew she could see that was so.
She led me over to the locked room. From her pocket, she pulled out a large, ornate key. It was definitely custom-made, metal stained bright pink with a heart-shaped head. No one would ever guess what horrors that key could unlock which I think was the point. She put the key into the large chain lock and turned it. The lock unlatched with a click and she removed it from the chains that held the door together. Slowly but surely she unraveled the chain from the door handles until they were all untangled and rested in her arms in a heap. She threw them off to the side and they landed with a heavy thud. I never knew she was that strong until that point.
She looked back at me one more time, hesitation looming in her eyes. I nodded to her, my face serious, to let her know I was ready. She looked at the floor once more before closing her eyes and swinging the doors wide open.
At first, all I could see was a bright white light. It blinded me momentarily and I brought up my arms to shield my eyes. In the moments my eyes took to adjust, it was my sense of smell that gave me a hint of what lay before me. An unmistakable irony odor wafted out of the room. There was no doubt about what it could be... blood.
By now my eyes had adjusted and I looked up to see what must have been the most gruesome sight I have ever laid eyes on. The walls and ceiling were covered in meat hooks, each carrying their own type of horror. The ceiling hooks held long coils of intestines that draped down from the ceiling like curtains. The hooks on the left wall seemed to be skewering a mixture of kidneys, livers, and stomachs while the hooks on the right wall held hearts and lungs. Finally, the back wall held the most complex of organs: the brains, which were so perfectly pieced by the hooks in their centers that you could have imagined they were all the same brain, just copy and paste. It didn't stop there though, oh no. Along the edges of the room were large plastic containers filled with a red liquid, obviously blood. Despite all these horrible things in front of me though, the most eye-catching feature of the room was the silver table where a squirming, gagged man in a surgical gown was strapped to the table by chains.
I was speechless. I was in a state of awe so profound I was shocked into silence. I couldn't feel the cold I knew I should have felt considering we were in a refrigerated room. It wasn't until Marilyn's voice sounded behind me did I break out of my trance.
"It's quite incredible, am I right?" she murmured in amazement, seemingly enraptured by her own work, "When I first heard about why your parents kicked you out, I just knew that I had to have you join me here. Of course in a religious town such as this one, when a parent hears a kid talk of homicidal thoughts and a need to kill they would give them the boot. But I know better than that. I know that people like us aren't as destructive as everyone thinks. We are actually creative. We are artists. That is why I took you to Gabriel. I wanted to help guide you on your unique journey of creation. You may not find your calling in baking as I do, but I know you have a calling, and I will help you find it."
She turned to face me once more, her expression filled with love and acceptance. It was an expression I had not seen directed towards me in a very long time. I ran forward and hugged her as tight as I could, sobbing into her shoulder and blubbering out words of thanks.
"Marilyn... I- I don't know what to say. Thank you... thank you so much. I have been so alone. Thank you, Marilyn, oh thank you so much."
I repeated this for some time while she hugged me and whispered words of encouragement with her honey-sweet voice.
"There, there little one. You are going to be okay. I am here now. I am here to help you."
A loud clang from beside us interrupted our tearful embrace. I looked over to see the man on the table was squirming around now, staring at the both of us with wide, fearful eyes. I felt anger rise in me at his rudeness. Can't he see we are having a moment here? Marilyn seemed to share my thoughts.
"What a rude one," she remarked, seeming very annoyed, "Why don't we take care of him hmm?"
She looked to me for a response and I nodded excitedly, a giddy smile plastered across my face. I had waited many years for a chance like this.
We spent the rest of the night dismembering and dissecting the man on the table. I had no idea who he was and apparently neither did Marilyn. She told me she lured him in by pretending her car had broken down on the side of the highway. When he got close enough she knocked him out with a baseball bat and stuffed him in the trunk of her car before bringing him back here. It's a pretty good tactic seeing that no one would expect an old woman to be a serial killer.
She also told me about her art. She told me about how blood can be used in place of eggs. How the taste of organs can be hidden in any dish, as long as you use exactly the right amount of exactly the right organ. How people actually become addicted to the tang flesh gives to her dishes, which is why she is never dry on business. So many intricacies went into her craft, so many little parts that all tied together into a fiery passion. It was awe-inspiring. The best part is that she promises she will help me find my artistic niche. She will help me find my passion as well as how to hide the darker parts from the rest of the world so I can just keep on creating all my life.
I have been learning so much from her since I learned of the local bakery's secret. It really has been a great experience overall. I finally feel accepted and loved. She is my family now and we are building our lives together now as I type this. This poor tramp really should have found a more secretive place to sleep, you know? Welp, I better go now, the organs don't stay fresh forever. I hope to see you around and remember to stop by your local bakery real soon!
submitted by Haunted-nightmares to mrcreeps [link] [comments]