Halloween blow molds

Halloween

2008.09.19 17:02 Halloween

Subreddit dedicated to the holiday Hallowe'en
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2011.08.05 10:33 humanman42 Thrift Store Hauls : What did you find today?

A forum dedicated to sharing your thrift finds - garage sales, flea markets, pawn shops, and more are all allowed. Come join our community and share your passion for the hunt with like minded people!
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2023.06.01 22:22 gisThrowy How I Went from Advair 250/50 Q12 and frequent PRN Albuterol to No Daily Controller

To be frank this community is a bit of a downer, and I get it. There have been times where my life has felt completely hopeless due to my asthma, and that is why I have come to this community to share what I wish I had known about years ago. Will this work for you? Maybe, maybe not. Your outcomes are based on your own set of factors and there is not a one size fits all solution to this disease process. With that out of the way I feel compelled to tell you that I am a former respiratory therapist and my taper from medications was performed under the guidance of an asthma and allergy specialist.
I grew up in a household filled to the brim with animals, a seven cats at any time type of household. On top of that I have a parent who smoked indoors and in the car.
Throughout my childhood I had no idea that I always smelled like cigarettes.
I distinctly remember being told in middle school that I smelled like a cigar, and it’s no wonder that teachers and students alike thought I was a drug user despite this not being the case. I was never able to participate in sports like the other kids. One day I had an episode at school and I was told by my mother that I must just be “overheated.” Things carried on with pseudoscience treatments such as facial steaming and vicks vaporub until one day I could not breathe. I sat tripoding on the couch for hours before my parents finally buckled down and took me to the doctor where I was formally diagnosed with asthma, given albuterol, and placed on Advair 250/50 and Allegra, which I took throughout my adolescence.
Fast forward fifteen years. Things had not changed for me. My asthma was well controlled and as a result I didn’t think about it too hard, but I was very weak. I suffered from chronic neck and chest pain. The neck pain was close to unbearable and the only relief I got from the chest pain was an occasional sternum crack after which the pain would rapidly return. I began to learn yoga to try to correct some of this pain and thought I was learning and progressing but in actuality I was hyperflexible from weakness and did not understand how to stretch my body properly. It took some time to figure out that my yoga was doing me no good and that is when I turned to bodyweight exercises. I attempted squats, pushups, pull ups, and bodyweight shoulder pressing exercises. The exercises were all performed completely wrong and while I gained a small amount of muscle the pain went nowhere.
Fast forward again to the end of 2019. I was fortunate enough to find a barbell and plate set at good will for $10. I bought a power rack on craigslist and followed the training guide outlined here (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qVek72z3F1U&t=581s) and gained a significant amount of weight, somewhere in the ballpark of 30lbs over the course of the pandemic. At the time that this was occurring I became greatly interested in the Wim Hof Method and practiced cold immersion and the breathing exercises daily. The breathing exercises did not fix my breathing but they made it clear that something was very wrong with the way I was doing it. I did not know at the time that it was due to my diaphragm not being engaged at all.
I ended up moving to the pacific northwest for a short time and while I was there I experienced a reduction in allergies the likes of which I was unaware were possible. It was like night and day, and when I moved back to the south east I was discontented at my newfound condition of feeling terrible all the time again. I continued to stay active in the gym and gained another ten pounds and this is when the wheels started to turn on my condition. In five years I went from 145lbs to 184lbs. This was the first time that I noticed acid reflux. I began taking omeprazole and felt a minor alleviation of symptoms though shortness of breath would occur after eating more often than not. I chalked it up to my stomach being so full that it was compressing my lungs. For the first time in my life I was overweight for my height, if only just slightly. I made the decision to cut 10lbs and began to feel better after doing so over the course of several months.
I moved again to a newly built apartment and noticed a slight improvement in asthma symptoms. I suspect that my previous place had a hidden mold issue but moving was not a total game changer.
I started shopping at whole foods and this was when everything clicked into place, but not for the reason you’re probably thinking. I started to develop a facial rash underneath my eyes that was accompanied by an inflamed feeling. I had no idea where this was coming from but I was determined to get to the bottom of it, considering that it was on my face.
I have found relief for asthma in fasting in the past but whenever I would eat again it would just come back, and we have to eat so it felt like it wasn’t worth messing with. This was right around the time that I began seeing my allergist. We went over the typical fare but she was surprised by my PFT, citing it as well above what she would have expected. It was then that she told me that what she suspected was not asthma so much as VCD (https://www.mountsinai.org/locations/grabscheid-voice-swallowing-centeconditions/vocal-cord-dysfunction) She prescribed me pursed lip breathing exercises for when I felt symptoms coming on and they offered slight relief.
I began looking into factors that exacerbate VCD and discovered that reflux can be a major player. But what was I going to do to fix it? I was already taking omeprazole and tums as needed. This was when I started investigating the diaphragm’s role as it pertains to acid reflux (https://erj.ersjournals.com/content/52/suppl_62/PA2446.) I figured that there really are no downsides to strengthening the diaphragm so down the rabbit hole I went. I found this reddit post on the diaphragm(https://www.reddit.com/Fitness/comments/32wz2s/diaphragm_the_neglected_muscle/) and will be forever grateful to the op because this is when things began to change for me. If you are serious about changing the way your body functions forever do not skip this post. I will reiterate once more that this post changed my life.
The more that I used my diaphragm the more I realized that I hated eating. I never felt like I could breathe afterwards. I even ended up visiting urgent care due to chest pain and shortness of breath during this time as I was scared that there may be something wrong with my heart. Docs found nothing out of order, which allayed my fears of a heart attack but left so many questions on the table. Why did I feel this way?
I could not figure out the mysterious rash and it kept coming back and kept coming back. It was gross and I needed it to go away. I was genuinely ready to give everything up to fix this. I started my elimination diet. I only ate meat, fruit, nuts, and vegetables. I stayed away from any type of dairy or gluten containing product. The difference was night and day. I went from feeling terrible every time I ate to feeling invigorated.
As time went by I felt that I needed to indulge in snacks and this is when I figured out the rash. As it turns out the rash is caused by any foods that contain sunflower oil. After not eating the way I used to it became very apparent that the sunflower oil was also causing some shortness of breath and all around itchiness as well as some joint pain in the hands.
Since starting this endeavor I have reintegrated dairy and wheat separately and have noted the following. Wheat causes chest pain and facial itchiness(for me), and dairy causes joint stiffness in my hands and back. Did I mention my favorite food was pizza? Double trouble on that one. (https://acaai.org/allergies/allergic-conditions/food/wheat-gluten/),( https://opa.org.uk/whats-the-link-between-dairy-and-acid-reflux/), (https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/asthma/expert-answers/asthma-and-acid-reflux/faq-20057993)
Now that I have eliminated those foods I have rapidly become more able to activate my core which helps a lot with pain in the distal parts of my limbs which up until this point have been burdensome.
The inflammation in my life began to subside and with it came the awareness of just how much mucous is sitting in my nostrils and dripping down into my throat at any given time. I remembered back to when I had been sick at the beginning of the year and was so stuffed up that I resorted to pouring water into my nasal cavity and just how much dark green mucous had come out when I did. I eventually came to the realization that all of the things that I inhale that cause me to flare up are just sitting inside of my face making everything worse. Nasal irrigation completely took the place of the fluticasone spray that I had used religiously in the past. I use a neti pot available at any pharmacy (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=62vm1Mb0T38).
The final thing I’d like to touch on is the chest expander. Until using an exercise band to perform the exercises listed in these videos( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I2npj4EqCpk&t=977s), (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o1BpPPL6AWk&t=371s) I had no idea that my ribcage was severely atrophied from breathing like an asthmatic my entire life. My wife was surprised by how much muscle I had appeared to have gained from using it for only a couple of days and I intend to buy a nice chest expander when I become strong enough to need more. I have also begun to supplement kettlebell with inverted breathing patterns to further work the diaphragm with great success.
I am not here to try to sell you anything. I am just a normal person like you who has gone from coughing up green sputum on a daily basis to blowing “superhuman” PFTs. I have always been inspired by people like Joseph Pilates and B.K.S. Iyengar who supposedly overcame asthma with exercise and I feel that I have come one step closer to being like them.
As I said in the beginning of this post I no longer require the use of daily Advair and I only keep my prescriptions just in case. I am still sensitive to triggers like cigarette smoke, strong perfumes, and sickness but at the very least they no longer completely debilitate me. I have continued to take a daily allergy reducer in the form of cetirizine but I do not notice if I forget a day.
I know there is no one size fits all solution, but I hope that this post serves to expedite strides in a healthful direction for the members of this community. Good luck with your treatments.
TLDR: Read the post
submitted by gisThrowy to Asthma [link] [comments]


2023.06.01 22:13 ColdLobsterBisque I’m an urban explorer. I found something I probably shouldn’t have.

Ya know, I was about to start this gruesome tale with a funny opening. Like, “Be me. Be stoopid urban explorer. Find manmade horrors beyond my comprehension. Cry. Imitate greentext for funny.” But it just seemed wrong, wrong to make fun of the helpless victims I encountered. So, I decided to instead say something more sensitive. I hope they find peace. In heaven? In the void? Outside Samsara? Wherever they believed. I’m an urban explorer, as I said in the title. I have seen such terrors such as “Cursewords spray painted to walls” and “S+H 4EVER”. Jokes aside, I mostly just delved into condemned, but rather new buildings. Like that one office building that was built in the ‘90s and the company made a new one. Not a sanitarium with ghosts still haunting, or a pagan church with miles of catacombs. Nope. Just some boring old offices, decked out with some old Halloween decorations to draw more clicks- and more money to my empty, college kid pockets. But I was… commissioned? I guess? By some guy to explore this old hospital. Several thousand dollars were promised to me, with a hundred in advance. I was tempted to take that prepay and run, but I figured- well, it couldn’t be bad. Just an old hospital. This “old hospital” turned out to be so, so much more. I was determined. The weak, can’t-play-horror-games loser I am thought I could handle it. As you’ll see later, I absolutely couldn’t, and I don’t think anyone could, honestly. I agreed to the guy, perhaps a bit too quickly, and he sent me the coordinates. Some hulk of a castle-asylum in Montreal. I had a quick thought of Project MKULTRA, but a quick google check let me know Alan Memorial is still used, for much less sinister purposes. Thank God, honestly. I don’t have the balls for that. Never will. I went with some buddies- Alan, Kelly, and Iz. Alan is a bit of a weird dude, but not in the sweaty way. He fangirls over a few books, but don’t we all? Kelly is a mechanic of the finest degree. She’s working towards an undergrad in general engineering. Iz loves the gym, has quite a lot of muscle for a shorter girl. We all bonded over a weird night at a pub, but that’s a story I’ll tell another day. To make a long story short, we all have our strange encounters with the unexplainable, and we try to forget it. And we have- just normal college kids, with nothing extra special about us but Kelly’s pet sugar glider. Alan and Iz had been with me to a few places, to be guests in my exploring. Just those old office buildings, though. When I told them, in the group chat, Iz and Kelly were quick to accept. Alan took a bit of coaxing, but eventually agreed. After I had everyone together, I finalized the payments with that contractor- four thousand, perfect to split. I should have been more skeptical about where that money came from, but at the time, I didn’t care about the legitimacy. As I said, broke college kid. We packed- a good length of rope, eight pairs of disposable gloves, and my recording equipment. Some other stuff, but it wasn’t of much importance. I fueled my old ‘07 Tundra, and off we went to somewhere in Montreal. When we got there, it gave my goosebumps. Iz laughed, and tried to break the ice with an awkward joke. “Kinda like Mystery Inc, huh?” She was met with silence. All of us were a bit scaredy cat, grim faced. I finally sighed, and with the help of Kelly and Alan, set up my camera and mics. “Make this a good one, guys. Our paychecks are riding on this one.” I collected myself, and plastered on a good old YouTube face. The group followed, and I motioned a “3, 2, 1”. “Hi guys! We have two big surprises for you today- number one, I have my friends Iz and Alan here, and a never-seem-before star, Kelly! We’ve got a great video here, and we would all appreciate it if you could blow up my Buy me a Coffee! Onto our second exciting thing for you today; we were gifted a massive amount of funding for a new, huge project- we’re here in Montreal, to explore an old, shut-down hospital! We’ve heard some reports of supernatural activity here, so maybe we’ll find some ghosts not yet at rest, still haunting… and they’ll haunt you too if you don’t smash those like and subscribe buttons!“ Kelly cringed a bit, and I felt a bit bad, for the clickbaity way I had to speak. Algorithm is a bitch, and this payed the bills well. I couldn’t change. “Now, we’re gonna have a look inside!” We walked up the dramatic stairs, and made a few comments about how absolutely 100% not clickbait spooky it looked. As we neared the antiquated maple doors, I creakily opened into the Feather’s Edge Hospital. A spew of dust and decay shot into our faces, making all of us sputter. “This place has been left for a long time, huh?” I asked the camera. We continued into a reception room, with a high ceiling and a dusty, gaudy chandelier hanging from the ceiling, its old-fashioned bulbs long broken. A skitter and a crash came from the dark corner, and my head turned like a whip. “What was that?” Kelly asked, already nervous. “Probably a raccoon… or maybe a spector!” I made a whistling noise, and Alan chuckled. Iz clicked on her flashlight, and made her way through scattered debris to a large, long desk. She swiped her finger across it, and it came back covered in dust. The desk had nearly a half inch of it, covering the surface. “Seems like this place hasn’t seen someone in… decades, probably.” Iz observed. “Seems like.” Alan concurred. Eager to get on with this, I tried to seem enthusiastic as I said, “Let’s move on to the meat and potatoes of this place!” Alan lead the charge, towards a large doorway, guarded with doors not unlike those you would see a deli. The old lock seemed rusty and broken, what looked like makeshift picks rotting in the keyway. Trying to ignore that, we strode through. A strong scent of rot permeated the air. “Something died in here.” Kelly seemed like she was ready to throw up. I was close, to be honest. “Wow. That’s… that’s something.” Alan said. “Let’s- agh- forge ahead!” Not even ten steps further, we came across out first big thing- a rolling hospital bed. Its metal frame was rusted, close to collapse. The sheets were crumpled and unmade, stained by a dark, crusty stain. Old blood. Kelly’s face turned a sickly, almost cartoonish yellow-green. “M-maybe we should, uh, cut the camera?” I swallowed a lump in my throat. “We’ll just.. send this to the guy. We won’t put this on the channel.” I kept the camera rolling, determined to keep it in one shot. “I don’t wanna do this!” Kelly wailed, and stepped back, one, two, and turned. She broke out in a run, and as I looked at Iz with one of those “looks”, I heard a sickening crack in the air. Alan whipped around, just a few milliseconds before me and Iz. I saw a shadowy hand scamper back to the corner. Kelly lay, a steady flow of crimson from her forehead, next to a blunt, yet twisted piece of metal, which was now stained with her fresh, bright scarlet blood. We stood for eleven seconds. Eleven seconds that held half my life, how eternal that moment was. Eleven seconds ago, there were four living people in this room. Now, there was three. “What the fuck.” Alan broke the silence with vulgarity. To be fair, I was barely an inch away from shouting obscenities. He broke into a sprint towards the doors, and pulled them open. Or, tried to. They were firmly locked. “What the fuck. What the fuck. What in the *fucking* hell-“ Alan was cut off by a scamper of a… something, in the relative void of a corner. My eyes darted around, first to Iz, who was just standing there, shaking, then to the creature. At first, I thought it was another body. Vaguely human-shaped, sprawled out. Its head shot up, and stared straight into me, pearly whites gleaming. Its eyelids were gone, leaving two eyes, piercing blue, wide as saucers. Staring right at me. Its jaw went slack, the not-quite-human loosening its hinges, preparing to speak. Still smiling, it said in a guttural voice, “Welcome to hell.
submitted by ColdLobsterBisque to nosleep [link] [comments]


2023.06.01 21:38 thesid1998 Flooded my basement 🙃

Hey, new homeowner, went to test out my sprinklers, turned the water valve to them on, and nothing happened, eventually figured out that the sprinkler blow out valves were left open so I close the 2 of them that I could find one in the back and one in the front, turned them on and everything worked fine, left the house and came back 8 hours later to a flooded basement, come to find out there was a small 3x3inch tube on the side of the house with a third spigot about 4 feet under the concrete with about 3 feet of sand and mud ontop of it,which is why I didnt see it the first time, shop vacced all the mud out and got the spigot closed, and now I have the basement mostly shop vacced and carpet cleaned, the carpet is only slightly damp in about a 10x20 area, had a company drop off a dehumidifier, but they were unsure as to where the water came from because i had not found the third spigot yet, so they weren't sure if insurance would cover the repairs, they said it would depend on if it was cat 1 or cat 3 water, does anyone have any suggestions on cleanup/repairs needed, or if insurance will cover anything? Or anything i can do to stop mold/mildew growth so I dont need to re finish the entire basement.
TLDR: I missed a sprinkler blowout valve, left it running for hours,it leaked through the window well, its closed now but basement is still slightly damp, drywall is fine, de humidifier is running, only carpet got wet, is it considered dirty or clean water and would demo be neccesary?
submitted by thesid1998 to Plumbing [link] [comments]


2023.06.01 21:21 __queenofdenial__ Every time I think I hit bottom it gets worse

This is a bit of a rant, I'm sorry. The best TLDR I can come up with is I'm asking for stories or assurances that hope is not lost. That survival is possible.
I thought the home payments were happening for my mother's house, now I'm learning that my sister received a foreclosure notice weeks, probably months, ago and I don't think we can sell it. Definitely not before the auction date I was unaware of. Have calls to make in between all of my other desperate calls. My mother passing away has already cost my entire savings so I can't even get a penny back now.
On those same lines, my hours which were limited already (voluntarily to deal with some of my mother's things) got suddenly slashed at work and I'm now sitting in a home with no electricity that I need to move from this weekend. Added insult is that my hours were bolstered by heavy scheduling this weekend so now I'm hot, exhausted, and overwhelmed. Oh and I can't get approved to live anywhere because my last two months pay don't paint a good picture of my typical finances. I'm trying to figure out how to get my very old, probably molding car mobile so I can stay in it when I can't find a couch. At least my dogs are with a friend of the family now so they don't overheat without ac.
I hate asking for help. I absolutely despise it 9/10 times in fact. Writing this even feels selfish but I fear I need it off my chest before I blow up at a customer tonight at work. This is such a tough time that I feel sure is going to cause my health issues to flair up making work even more difficult than normal. Please tell me things have a chance of getting better. I'm in need of hope and it's the one thing I'm capable of asking for without feeling needy.
submitted by __queenofdenial__ to AskWomenOver30 [link] [comments]


2023.06.01 17:31 pottersquash Swampborn Begins

Today is a day the Humid God has made: Hurricane season begins today.
So begins our vigilant watch of the seas. Preparedness is our Covenant. Awareness is our Faith. We have no fear, because we are ready. We are ready because we get ready! May the Cosmic Brownie sustain you. LFG.
WE ARE THE SWAMPBORN
We are the citizens of Southern Louisiana, Southern Mississippi, Southern Alabama and the Florida Panhandle.
WHAT IS DAMP SHALL NEVER DRY
We are aware that living here means we will have to deal with tropical weather. We accept this.
WE PAY THE MOLD PRICE
For while this is leads to potentially life threatening weather conditions, property damage and ever present war with Mold and Mosquito, we enjoy our land, our culture, our neighbors, our way of life.
WE FEAR NO STORM NO WIND NO RAIN
For we are prepared!!! We have secured things which can float or blow away. We have our provisions to survive without power. We have made safe our important documents and contact information. We have enough booze to forget this ever happen. We are willing to flee if necessary. We have a plan for evacuation and will execute without hesitation when the time comes.
AS THE WATER RISES SO SHALL OUR GLORY
If floods come we are ready to lead a hand to fellow Swampborn who were unable to flee. What floods take away, we are ready to rebuild.
WE ARE OF THE SWAMP AND THE SWAMP IS OF US
We will secure our animals and pets for they are Swampborn as well. We will secure our plants and gardens for they are also Swampborn. We are mindful that Swamp merely does what the Swamp does. We must take care of what we do that effects the natural Swamp order. We must hold accountable cough S&WB cough those who poor planning drive the Swamp where the Swamp does not want to be.
We are the Swampborn.
What is damp shall never dry.
submitted by pottersquash to NewOrleans [link] [comments]


2023.06.01 14:35 songofavaria The Story of Emmaline -- Chapter 6: COMBAT

Intro
We're working on a new MUD called Song of Avaria, using Evennia as a base code. Hopefully, the game will be opening for a public alpha six months from now: January 2024. This is the sixth in a series of showcases to display the features of our game. In order to properly exhibit the purpose of Song of Avaria, which doesn't quite fit into the existing molds, we're going to demonstrate gameplay by focusing on the story of a character: Emmaline.
Chapter 1: CHARACTER GENERATION
Chapter 2: ARRIVAL
Chapter 3: STORY
Chapter 4: THE POETS' GUILD
Chapter 5: LIVELIHOOD
Cool News! A professional web developer who focuses on accessibility took a very thorough look over our site and game, and gave us a great deal of feedback that was incredibly helpful in making the game more accessible to vision-impaired players. Color themes are configurable now; the default one shown here is called "high-contrast". If anyone prefers the old "muted" one, they can switch to it in the settings. We've also added more text-based indicators of things like general wellness and roundtime in the game prompt, or asterisks as delineators for different sections of text, and more quick individual checks on metrics such as encumbrance, armor value, stats, skills, et cetera. Turning Evennia's native screenreader option on (during account creation, or through settings) will now ensure that a visually-impaired person gets a more tailored and comfortable experience. We're looking forward to learning more about accessibility from players in the future, and always hoping to improve the experience for any player.
Chapter 6: COMBAT
In our last chapter, Emmaline was inducted into the Poets' Guild, which allowed her to take up a job as a Poet at Harmony Hall. Because of that, she's able to easily make her rent and even bought an oud to improve her stringed instrument skills. Here, she's sitting in the garden of the Poets' Guild and playing her oud. Instruments can be played with a variety of commands, from POUND to STRUM, and each type of instrument will tend to make their own set of noises if played well (or other noises if played badly).
Some instruments (large bells, for example) can make quite loud sounds that will resonate over a number of rooms, much like a shout does. This oud is comparatively quiet. And while an instrument may have its mechanical play command, this is mostly intended for flavor and explorative play rather than as a real roleplay tool -- because it's always much more fun to emote the full expression of your character's music! Of course, one should strive to stay within realistic parameters in terms of describing their playing in relation to their mechanical skill level.
At the bench in the garden, Emmaline plays her oud using the STRUM, PLAY, and TWANG commands. She then simply emotes playing a more complicated melody.
As we play the oud, we can see that Emmaline is relatively skilled at stringed instruments, as the sounds she is making are nice rather than jarring or discordant.
Djafira, the other newly inducted Poet whom we got to know over the last two posts, arrives and comes over to sit on the bench next to where Emmaline is playing. Because Emmaline does not trust the other woman, Djafira incurs roundtime by coming closer to the bench, which is Emmaline's own current vicinity. Roundtime is the convention we use to refer to the fact that some actions take time to complete, and thus you cannot execute another similarly time-consuming action until finished with the first. Djafira might be able to move close to Emmaline, but she cannot perform another action until her roundtime ends. This gives us the chance to move away quickly if we felt that Emmaline did not want to allow Djafira near her. But for now, we'll stay cautiously nearby and see what Djafira wants.
Djafira comes along. Her tells are shown in a brighter red, and she certainly seems to be acting off. She gifts Emmaline a pair of nice sandals by way of apology...
When someone gives you something, unless you trust them to a high degree, you will always have the chance to either ACCEPT or REFUSE the gift. Items can also be TOSSed, and if not caught in this instance (or dodged), they will just bonk off you and fall on the ground.
Since Djafira is trying to apologize for her past enmity, Emmaline accepts the gift. She is still a little suspicious though, because she can see Djafira's tells, and the other woman doesn't truly seem very apologetic. Djafira also asks Emmaline for a favor: she's feeling a bit under the weather, and needs Emmaline to go to a tavern called the Breaking Wave and recite a poem there. She passes over a piece of paper on which the poem is written.
Emmaline agrees to do this favor, puts on her new fancy shoes, and takes the paper.
As a side note: Many of the interactions you see from this point on are with automated NPCs that are operating off the logic in their own behavioral code. We have gone to some lengths to make these behaviors seem relatively organic, but only to the extent that this allows a player to suspend their disbelief in regards to the fact that NPCs are different from PCs. Our NPCs do not possess any real artificial intelligence -- not even to the degree of ChatGPT. They have certain behaviors, tendencies, phrases they might respond to, routines and home turf and activities they may habitually undertake, but they are still just traditional game NPCs. We are still at work adding in more behavior types for NPCs and refining their actions to be more sensible and characteristic.
Back in the story: By the time Emmaline is able to get around to the favor Djafira asked of her, it's late in the evening after sunset. Djafira provided some loose directions to the White City (which would be: "through the pillar-flanked gate north of the Plaza of the People"), but Emmaline soon finds that this particular neighborhood is a confusing maze of a place. Even the overheard ASCII map is intentionally not much help in some of the individual neighborhoods of Omrazir. It is purposefully not too easy to stumble off the main roads in the city, to keep new players from accidentally stepping into an area that may be dangerous.
The overhead map does not show the exit into the White City, but once you go past, you can see the map of the White City neighborhood. (Note: I took this snip on an admin account, because I added this retroactively after the main events of the chapter! That is why you see room numbers. Please ignore.)
Finding a fallen stele, Emmaline stands on top of it for a better view of the area. She tries to get her bearings, but it's still difficult to tell exactly where she is. This part of the city legitimately seems decrepit and broken down...
Maybe it's not such a good idea to wear expensive clothes here? Just as Emmaline is having that thought, a random event occurs. Random events are coded events that happen in rooms when PCs are present. Most of the time, it would be something simple and harmless like an atmospheric room echo, but sometimes -- if the situation is right, and the PC seems otherwise unoccupied -- the random event will be more serious.
Emmaline goes to stand on the stele and look around thoughtfully. A \"somewhat lofty tough\" appears, looking furtively at her and subtly touching his knife...
This time, it's very serious. Emmaline is in the White City, a desperately poor and virtually lawless district of Omrazir. Part of the difficulty in navigation here is attributable to the fact that this area is not meant for the inexperienced and unfamiliar. A small gang of thugs is approaching Emmaline, attracted by her expensive fripperies and apparent vulnerability. Combat is initiated -- they are clearly attempting to mug her. This mugging is an automated random event generated by the interplay of conditions.
Somewhat confused, Emmaline takes her time awkwardly shufflng and then backs away as the thugs begin to close in. She does not depart quickly enough, and a physical altercation begins.
Distance from others in a fight can affect a variety of things, such as the accuracy and damage of certain attacks, or whether some aggressive abilities can be used at all. There are five ranges of distances from another PC. The first is immediate vicinity, which would be in direct contact with them. Then comes general vicinity, which would mean at the same "place" in the room as them. Next there's location, which would mean being in the same room as them, but not necessarily at the same place. Lastly, there is near line-of-sight (one room away) and distant line-of-sight (two rooms away).
Because these ranges can be quite important strategically, there are many ways to change the distance between yourself and an opponent. You can RETREAT or CHARGE in a direction, you can PUSH people or PULL them, you can TACKLE them, GRAPPLE, or DRAG them. You can move your own self from one place to another, or simply DISTANCE an opponent by moving away.
In the beginning, Emmaline attempts to avoid an altercation by quickly edging away from the incoming locals. However, it doesn't quite help -- they've set determined eyes on her nicer things, and she doesn't belong in this neighborhood.
When combat starts, there is a "Writing Break" that allows the PCs involved to type an emote and/or consider what their character would do in that situation. While immersive method acting is of course our favorite style of roleplay, the out-of-character panic that can often accompany in-character physical conflict can sometimes impact roleplay in a negative fashion. In order to avoid that, combat in Avaria is peppered with "Writing Breaks" every time that anything notable happens: such as the initiation of a fight, a strong blow being dealt, first blood, an attempt to flee, any involved combatant falling to the ground, and so on. Note also how the prompt has changed to display more information.
Holding her oud, Emmaline has the sudden idea to attempt to dissuade the muggers through music. Last chapter we explained the concept of "Grounding", where most people who are still "grounded" in accepted reality know about and accept some types of magic, and might be wary of witches and sorcery, but dismiss a great many other kinds of magic as a fabrication or just something totally unlikely to happen to them. Emmaline hasn't completely lost her grounding yet, as we can see when we check the MAGIC command -- so the idea to play music would still be a rather goofy one in her mind.
Using the REMEMBER command, we roleplay Emmaline having the idea to sing a calming tune. Sometimes in time-sensitive situations a player will not have the time to express the character's inner dialogue, but that is why we have writing breaks in combat, so that such expressions feel calmer and more doable. Checking the MAGIC command shows that Emmaline still doesn't quite believe in her own magical potential.
Regardless, this is what she tries to do -- she's desperate enough to try anything. Using her sonomancy ability to project a calming tone, Emmaline begins to sing and play her oud.
Emmaline starts to focus on using a calming tone. She still hasn't said anything with this tone, and she rationalizes it in her mind (using the THINK command) as just thinking maybe the thugs would prefer to hear music than mug someone.
In addition to using a calming tone for her song, Emmaline also makes sure to adopt a defensive stance. It's possible to change a character's stance in and out of a fight, and each stance has its own strengths. Using a defensive stance enables someone to do a better job of dodging and blocking.
We also check our TENDENCY here: most games, especially DIKU-based RPIs, have fights that progress in a more automatic fashion. If you prefer that style of gameplay, you can set your character's tendency to be one of a few choices: fight, flight, or freeze. The "measured" tendency seen here is the default: if you have not input a specific command and it is your turn to move, you will just wait. If you had selected, for example, "fight" as a tendency, you would automatically perform a fighting move based off coded tactics similar to the NPCs.
Taking a defensive stance with the STANCE command causes the next three attacks to miss. Unfortunately, Emmaline's song doesn't seem to be as effective as her stance is.
The muggers don't seem to be affected much by Emmaline's song. This is because her very low sonomancy skill, her voice stat, and her will dice roll didn't outweigh their (likely entirely grounded) magic resistance. Dice rolls happen behind the scenes relatively often, and while there is a configuration setting that can be toggled to show combat dice rolls, it is turned off for the sake of immersion in Emmaline's case. These rolls incorporate stats (such as Voice, Resonance, Will, etc) and skills (such as Vocals, Sonomancy, Gnosis, etc). Other factors moderate the dice rolls, like stances, a character's general state of health, range, positions, and so on. At least, thanks to Emmaline's stance, she is able to avoid a lot of damage from the muggers' reckless attacks.
It might be a good idea to flee, but it can be difficult to get away when your opponent is right next to you -- if they're aggressive, then they will have a very good chance of blocking your escape route. Looking at the COMBAT display will give you a good overall view of your general combat metrics, including who else is in your vicinity. These different metrics can all affect the outcome of a fight in various ways.
Checking COMBAT shows us Emmaline's combat situation: she is mostly doing alright, for now. Two people are attacking her, she is upright, near the exit to go back to the square. She does have a nick on her right hip, but it's not bad enough to really affect her state.
The prompt can also be configured to display many of these metrics. Shown here is the default combat prompt. When the fight was initiated, our regular prompt shifted to the combat version that shows stars and dashes as a small action bar. For visually impaired players this is not very helpful, so if someone has turned on the screenreader, the default prompt will give a health percentage readout and only show important alerts.
Anyway, Emmaline really wants to escape! So, she tries to push one of her opponents away. Actions performed during combat take roundtime. If you want to plan your next move, you can queue up a second move if you're already in combat.
Emmaline has a chance to make another move -- if your combat roundtime completes and you don't have another move queued up, you'll see this message. She tries to shove away one of the toughs, and he rushes straight back at her in a tackle.
SHOVE is one of the many commands useful for strategically changing positions in a fight. Emmaline manages to push the mugger away from her place in the room. She's standing as far from the stele as possible, hoping to go back out to the square -- but the mugger uses TACKLE to close the distance again very quickly! Bad timing.
Now, three muggers came out of the alleys surrounding Emmaline. So far, the third has just been watching, but now he breaks into the fight as well. A new person joining the fight will trigger a writing break, to allow players time to emote. Sometimes these writing breaks may feel like they last too long, while other times they may be too short for you to write the kind of emote you want.
We use WAIT to extend the writing break so that we can finish writing our emote, and then CONTINUE when we're done. Emmaline tries to sing some more, and again it's not effective, and then her calming attunement fades. She isn't strong enough this tme to shove away one of the goons. A stab connects with a solid whack against her kaftan.
You can input WAIT to extend the writing break (once per break per person), or CONTINUE to end the break and go on with the fight (if everyone has opted to continue). We wanted to write an emote during this break, considering that Emmaline has a nick on her hip from the knife of one of the muggers, and we didn't have enough time to act this out. Since all these opponents are NPCs, they will automatically follow the cues of the PCs in the fight and either try to wait or continue depending on the PC's input.
Although we have plenty of time to write what we'd like, it doesn't appear that the fight is going very well for Emmaline. She's not strong enough to shove away a goon, her calming tone has faded without any success, and one of the toughs tried to stab her right in the heart! Thankfully, her well-made kaftan helped to turn the blow into something less catastrophic. Raiment items can get in the way of attacks to covered body parts, and divert some of the damage to themselves. Different equipment types can divert more damage or stand up to damage better, depending on their material.
Maybe there's something else we can do...
Checking COMBAT MOVES provides a readout of the moves that Emmaline can execute at this time. Roundtimes for combat moves are relatively long compared to some games, so that players can use human strategical thinking to plan their next move and understand the flow of combat easily.
We can look to see what moves might be available to us in a fight, depending on the weapon we're wielding and the abilities we have, by checking COMBAT MOVES. It doesn't seem like Emmaline can do much right now beyond punching or kicking. But what if she wants to whack people with her oud? She can do that much at least. Any wielded object can be used to WHACK someone... but the reason that "whack" doesn't show up in her list of available combat moves is because she isn't actually wielding the oud, she is currently only holding it. Shifting her grip will take a moment - costing her a turn in combat, and causing a short delay before her next move (though we can still freely input the command, and have it executed when our combat roundtime completes).
Emmaline wields her oud. This allows her to whack with it (using the WHACK command), and also use it to parry (automatically, using a dice roll behind the scenes based on her stance and parry skill level).
When using an attack in a fight, such as PUNCH, KICK, or WHACK (or other attacks using weapons or abilities, like the SLASH and STAB used by the muggers) you can specify a particular body part of your opponent to aim for. You can also substitute the generic attack emote with a custom-written emote of your own.
Here, Emmaline tries to WHACK the TOUGH IN THE HEAD, while substituting a more flavorful emote for the generic one. She lands a decent blow! Unfortunately, she's surrounded. One minstrel using a musical instrument as a weapon can't honestly defend against three seasoned street bandits.
Having suffered a couple of unlucky hits, Emmaline drops to her knees. Even her kaftan has been ruined by the damage it has taken. Trauma is the metric that governs how injured a character has become. It can cause a character to collapse, like Emmaline has here. The "traumatized" alert will show up in the prompt after Emmaline is struck that hard, signifying that she's in very bad physical shape.
Emmaline is tiring against three opponents, and ends up falling with a heavily bleeding wound.
Sadly, Emmaline is not a strong enough fighter, and certainly not advanced enough in bardic magic, to put a stop to this altercation. She tries to get back up in order to flee, but immediately gets knocked down again. Being on the ground, she then tries to crawl away. But crawling takes a bit of time, and time is something she doesn't have enough of. The next strike not only knocks her out, but... she's dying.
Emmaline tries to get up and is knocked down again. She tries to crawl away but the next stab of a knife knocks her out... and, in the eyes of onlookers, kills her. It's not all that common for a blow to both knock someone out and kill them at the same time, but it's possible.
Bleeding as she is and in a hostile and unfamiliar environment, the most likely scenario is that Emmaline is going to die. A player with a character in this condition can still get a (dimmer) sense of what is happening in the room, and is free to write emotes or dreams... but an unconscious character still takes some time to be able to wake up. Some don't wake up at all.
The muggers take Emmaline's fancy clothes and any valuable possessions, leaving her penniless in her raggedy shift. We just got that oud! How disappointing. It's natural to feel a little bit of emotional crossover in immersive roleplaying situations like this, but it's also important for players to be capable of retaining perspective. We want to be clear about where we fall on the consent spectrum so that potential players can understand whether they might enjoy the game or they might not. Some loss is inevitable when there are in-character consequences for conflict and decisions. The game is mostly non-consent in terms of these kinds of consequences, but this also means there can be a lot of engaging story outcomes as a result. We don't want these to truly function as punishments to the player rather than to the character, though they might sometimes feel like setbacks. But it's helpful to keep in mind that every setback can be an opportunity for an inspiring narrative.
A dim sense of the world beyond her lack of consciousness shows the muggers backing off after taking Emmaline's valuables. If anyone spoke, we wouldn't be able to see what they were saying. But, we're able to send emotes in this state.
No matter the conflict, character death -- which is generally, though not always, the ending to a character's story -- must usually be consented to in order to happen. When a character "dies", if there is any chance at all that they might miraculously survive, the player will get the choice to either CLING to life or DIE, by entering those commands.
In this scenario, it might be realistic for Emmaline to die. But that would be an unsatisfying end to her story, and that's not what we want. The choice is in our hands, and we CLING to life.
The muggers have all departed. It's a hot night. Emmaline clings to life, using the CLING command.
Choosing to die moves characters on to the next world (to become a ghost, and go to the Otherland). Clinging to life allows the dying to continue living, but they will likely be handicapped in one way or another. It may be possible to eventually cure a handicap through stories involving magic or the supernatural, or the long-term efforts of an outstandingly skilled healer. But these consequences are generally impactful and lasting enough that should a character engage in risky behavior, repeatedly having near-death experiences and clinging to life, their story will involve the realistic outcome of their becoming a person who has somehow survived but is broken in many ways. Ultimately, this helps address the potential issue of long-term players becoming nearly invincible in the setting -- while simultaneously providing an opportunity for players who prefer to roleplay character stories comparable in length to a real lifetime, where a player may never see their characters actually die.
For those who do wish to roleplay through the meaningful death of a character, there are still a few different paths they can follow. The character can continue existing as a ghost, or as a distant memory in the Otherland, or they can pass on into the inaccessible final mystery of the afterlife. Reaching these stages of the afterlife can be accomplished by using the MOVE ON command, progressively bringing a spirit through each of these phases of existence until at the very end the character is deleted from the game database. Should one never wish their character to complete the process of moving on, however, they can continue to exist indefinitely in Avaria's Purgatory: the various realms of the Otherland, which can potentially be accessed, with great effort and skill, through the dreams of the living.
The purgatory states can soften the blow of losing a beloved character, and even provide some additional plot twists for both that character and their surviving friends and enemies. The end of a character's story may be a real tearjerker, but hopefully in a good way, not as a traumatic and wrenching blow to the gut. We don't want to brutalize the emotions of any player -- the intention is that playing a game should be an enjoyable experience, with closure in the ending and a feeling of contentment for a story well-played.
But what this ultimately means for Emmaline is that she cannot escape her altercation with the White City thugs scot-free. She is still in a very perilous situation. As we mentioned above, sometimes the injuries that have the ability to cause death can also create severe permanent handicaps in those who choose to live, which might manifest as stat debuffs, loss of limbs, persistent illnesses, and other such tangible physical consequences. Despite clinging to life, Emmaline is unable to return to consciousness immediately. She may very well simply bleed out again.
If we quit the game, she won't die while we're disconnected... but it's still a cliffhanger! Stay tuned for Chapter 7, where we'll showcase healing and further intrigue.
submitted by songofavaria to MUD [link] [comments]


2023.06.01 13:22 Tasha_Clement What are the common signs that indicate the need for air conditioning repair?

Insufficient Cooling: If your air conditioner is blowing out warm or insufficiently cool air, it could indicate a problem with the compressor, refrigerant levels, or other components that require repair.
Frequent Cycling: If your air conditioner turns on and off frequently, known as short cycling, it may indicate an issue with the thermostat, electrical components, or airflow restrictions that require attention.
Strange Noises: Unusual or loud noises such as grinding, squealing, or banging sounds coming from your air conditioner can be a sign of mechanical problems or loose components that need to be repaired.
Poor Airflow: If you notice weak or limited airflow from your air conditioning vents, it could indicate a blockage in the ductwork, a malfunctioning fan, or a clogged air filter that needs to be addressed.
Water Leaks: Leakage or pooling of water around the indoor unit or excessive moisture on the refrigerant lines can be indicative of a condensate drain blockage, a refrigerant leak, or other issues requiring repair.
Foul Odors: Persistent musty or foul odors emanating from your air conditioner may indicate mold or bacterial growth within the unit or the ductwork, requiring professional cleaning and repair.
High Energy Bills: A sudden increase in energy consumption without any change in usage patterns may indicate an underlying issue with your air conditioner's efficiency, such as a faulty compressor or refrigerant leak, which needs to be addressed to reduce energy costs.
Inconsistent Temperature: If certain areas or rooms in your home are significantly warmer or cooler than others, it could indicate improper airflow, ductwork issues, or thermostat problems that need to be resolved.
If you notice any of these signs, it is advisable to contact a professional HVAC technician to diagnose and repair the specific issue with your air conditioning system. Prompt repairs can prevent further damage and help restore efficient cooling performance.
Click here for professional HVAC technician
submitted by Tasha_Clement to u/Tasha_Clement [link] [comments]


2023.06.01 13:02 KarmasKunt WTF!? DeSantis Declares He's Running For President Just To ‘Destroy Leftism’

WTF!? DeSantis Declares He's Running For President Just To ‘Destroy Leftism’
Is it just me or have others noticed a lack of focus on REAL ISSUES effecting Floridians these days?
Home owner insurance - insurance companies have been fleeing FL as a result of the consistently unaddressed climate change. This has forced many Floridians onto the states insurance (Citizens). Premiums for those with regular coverage have skyrocketed & state logistics was passed to raise the cost of Citizens in an effort to get people off of it without giving them an alternative. Just yesterday we were informed that our homeowner insurance will once again, go up. Premiums for some are expected to increase an additional 40%.
https://youtu.be/XwIzD-yUKVA
Fraud - FL is rated the WORST state for fraud. Just last year a billion dollar medical fraud was uncovered. You remember those commercials telling you that you could get medical supplies for free? I remember getting called with offers for back braces & more. They claimed they were free, but they'd charge Medicare for products people didn'tneed or want. Look up Rick Scott Medicare fraud. This year 25 people were arrested for a scam that was passing out medical degrees like candy on Halloween. If you want to know how DeSantis is tackling this you need look no further than recent legislation passed removing consumers' right to sue insurance companies after being wrongfully denied for a legitimate claim.
https://youtu.be/1wlE86u4tMY
Taxes - DeSantis raised taxes for consumers who purchase products online. This helps local business, but harms low income families who seek out products in bulk online in effort to save money.
https://youtu.be/6qjz7b9IeDM
After DeSantis sent migrants awaiting citizenship to Martha's Vineyard in two flights we found out the costs ($12 million) came from tax payers. The Republican state legislature then allocated more tax payer money ($10 million) for future flights. None of these actions have helped Floridians, in fact they have harmed our states economy. Who needs city & state taxes with a government like ours?
https://youtu.be/M1tIeiWCJZY
Housing costs - Much like most of America, Florida is in the midst of a housing crisis. Some renters have shown their rent being raised $500/ month more than once in the past year. Cities in Florida without laws on rent control are the worst, of course. How is DeSantis addressing this? NOTHING. In fact, there is a direct line between legislation & harm. SB 620 removes a tenants rights to sue. It's hurricane season & many Floridians are still displaced from the last hurricane. The recent anti-migrant law passed by DeSantis has put recovery to a stand still. SB 102 has done nothing but help landlords while inserting more government where Floridians should have rights instead.
https://youtu.be/_2wnpLTe6G8
Not just renter, but homeowners suffer in Florida as well. - https://youtu.be/be5rCIPXF7U
A bunch of criminals were brought to FL & DeSantis used tax payer dollars to provide them with $5k - $6k bonuses to police citizens of Florida. Including murderers & kidnappers. https://www.dailydot.com/debug/florida-police-recruitment-bonus-desantis/
Low/Stagnant Wages DeSantis & other Republicans are trying to prevent increases in wages beyong the current $10/hr. On top of this, FL is the worst state for workers rights. "Right 2 Work" laws and other anti-worker union legislation passed by FL conservatives along with anti-protestor laws have truly harmed the working class in Florida.
https://youtu.be/WSvN_8DtM1Y
Union Busting/Anti-worker Union Laws - Florida has consistently used state power to take away workers' right while giving corporations in the state rim jobs.
https://youtu.be/ciEjTxWb0L4
Health Insurance isn't Affordable - with residents unable to earn a livable wage & the health industry being so comodified we actively kill people simply for being un/under insured. My only solution to this would be M4A, especially since the health industry has gotten pretty brutal. People are suffering on their death bead merely for being poor as wealthier Floridians are given priority. Corporations have influenced the majority of Florida's inhumane policies. Many residents work till death. It's the out of state Floridians who moved here that are afforded retirement and thus, actual care. One of the horror stories I heard recently is how someone was denied testing and scans looking for cancer for a year. The denial came from Medicare Part D you know the corporate one. She's dead now after suffering and being treated like a nuisance in the emergency room. There are multiple class action lawsuits out now for similar reasons. In Florida specifically religion has taken over emergency rooms and Healthcare in places like Ocala. Seventh-Day Adventists own Advent health who are one of many corporations that profit from working class struggles and suffering. The tax incentives and subsidies they rake in are insane compared to the lack of care many Floridians are given. Kidney dialysis corporations like DaVita treat patients like drive-thru customers. Let's not forget when DeSantis literally sold covid vaccines to wealthy people, including those from other countries - before they were made access to Floridians.
https://youtu.be/TrnnRAQgZg8 - This was from the Rick Scott Governorship, but no different than the DeSantis government right now.
Price Gouging - companies getting away with bleeding consumers dry as they continue refuse to raise wages along with inflation. At the same time employers continue to complain about the problems they're having with getting people to work for them. Rather than attacking citizens we need to look at the reason why people don't want to work for less than livable wages. It's kind of obvious what the problem is. Our country is turning into an Oligarchy & Florida has done nothing to soften the blows for it's working class families. In fact, Florida is being managed like an authoritarian state of vengeance who continues to exploit laborers while catering to wealthier donors. DeSantis specifically, is a Wall Street stooge.
https://youtu.be/Ev85uVBT2JI
Lastly, DeSantis' claim the Florida is the #1 state on education isn't just a lie, it's insane. Here's a link to an opinion piece (with resources) that points out the ways they tried to imply this while ignoring facts.
https://web.archive.org/web/20230209204142/https://www.tampabay.com/opinion/2023/01/05/floridas-education-system-is-vastly-underperforming-column/
I could go on and on but I have better things to do. Like... work.
Oh yeah, lest we forget...
https://youtu.be/92c5YkUWzEg
Gotta say though, I do wonder what the left did to piss this guy off so much? 🤔
submitted by KarmasKunt to u/KarmasKunt [link] [comments]


2023.06.01 05:42 Guilty_Chemistry9337 Hide Behind the Cypress Tree, pt. 2

They didn’t tell us the name of the next kid that disappeared. They didn’t tell us another kid had disappeared at all. We could all tell by the silence what had happened. It spoke volumes. I’m sure they talked about it in great detail amongst themselves. In PTA meetings and City Councils. My parents made sure to turn off the TV at 5 o’clock before the news came on, at least in my home. They’d turn it back on for the 11 o’clock news, when were were in bed and couldn’t hear the details.
The strange thing is, they never told us to just stop going outside. They told us to go in groups, sure, but they never decided, or as far as I could tell even though, to keep us all indoors. I guess that sort of freedom wasn’t something they were willing to give up. Instead, they did the neighborhood watch thing. For those few months, I remember my folks meeting more of our neighbors than in all the time previously, or since. Retirees would spend their days out in their front lawns, watching kids and everybody else coming and going. They’d even set up lawn furniture, with umbrellas, even all through the rains of spring. Cops stopped sitting in ambushes on the highways waiting for speeders and instead started patrolling the streets, chatting with us as we’d pass by. Weekends would see all the adults out in their yards, working on cars in the driveways, fixing the gutters, and so on. They had this weird way of looking at you as you’d ride by. Not hostile stares, but it was like they were cataloging your presence. Boy, eight years old, red raincoat silver bike, about 11:30 in the morning, heading south on Sorensen. Seemed fine.
The next time we saw it, it wasn’t in our neighborhood, and I was the one who saw it first. We were visiting Russ, a sort of 5th semi-friend from school. We rarely hung out, mostly owing to geography. His house wasn’t far as the crow flies, but it was up a steep hill. We spent a Saturday afternoon returning a cache of comic books we’d borrowed. The distance we covered was substantial, as we had decided to take lots of extra streets as switchbacks, rather than slowly push our bikes up the too-steep hills.
The descent was going to be the highlight of the trip, up until I saw the Hidebehind. We were on a curving road, a steep forested bluff on one side. The uphill slope was mostly ivy-covered raised foundations for the neighborhood’s houses. That side of the road was lined with parked cars, and the residents of the homes had to ascend steep staircases to get to their front doors.
I was ayt the back of the pack when I caught movement out of the corner of my eye. Movement, something brown squatting between two closely parked cars. My head snapped as I zoomed past, and despite not getting a good look, I knew it was that terrible thing. “It’s behind us!” I shouted and started pedaling hard. The others looked for themselves as I quickly rushed past them, but they soon joined my pace.
Ralph’s earlier idea of directly confronting the thing was set aside. We were moving too fast, and down too narrow a street to turn around. Then we saw it again it was to our left, off-road, between the trees. Suddenly it leaped from behind one tree trunk to the next and disappeared again. That hardly made sense, the base of the trees must have been thirty feet below the deck of the street we rode down. One of us, I think it was India, let out one of those strangled screams.
There it was again, back on the right, disappearing behind a mailbox as we approached. That couldn’t have been, it must have outpaced us and crossed in front of us. Logic would suggest there was more than one, but somehow the four of us knew it was the same thing. More impossible still, the pole holding up the mailbox was too thin, maybe two inches in diameter, yet that thing had disappeared behind it, like a Warner Bros. cartoon character. It was just enough to catch a better glimpse of it though. All brown. A head seemingly too bulbous and large for its body. Its limbs were thin but far longer, like a gibbon’s. Only a gibbon had normal elbows and knees. This thing bent its joints all wrong like it wasn’t part of the natural order. We were all terrified to wit’s end.
“The trail!” Ralph shouted, and the other three of us knew exactly what he meant. The top of it was only just around the curve. It was a dirt footpath for pedestrians ascending and descending South Hill, cutting through the woods on our left. It was too steep for cars, and to be honest, too steep for bikes. We’d played on it before, challenging each other to see how high up they could go, then descend back down without using our brakes. A short paved cul-de-sac at the bottom was enough space to stop before running into a cross street.
Ralph had held the previous group record, having climbed three-quarters of the way before starting his mad drop. India’s best was just short of that, I had only dared about halfway up, Ben only a third. This time, with certain death on our heels, the trail seemed the only way out. Nothing could have outrun a kid on a bike flying down that hill.
We followed Ralph’s lead, swinging to the right gutter of the street, then hanging a fast wide left up onto the curb, over a patch of gravel, between two boulders set up as bollards, lest a car driver mistake the entrance for a driveway, and then, like a roller coaster cresting the first hill, the bottom fell out.
It was the most overwhelming sensation of motion I’ve ever had, before or since. I suppose the danger behind us was the big reason, and being absolutely certain that only our speed was keeping us alive. I remember thinking it was like the speeder bike scene from Return of the Jedi, also a recent movie from the time. Only this was real. I didn’t just see the trees flashing past it, I could hear the motion as well. Cold air attacked my eyes and long streamers of tears rushed over my cheeks and the drops flew past my ears, I didn’t dare blink. Each little stone my tires struck threatened to up-end me and end it all. Yet, and perhaps worse, half the time it felt like I wasn’t in contact with the ground at all. I was going so fast that those same small stones were sending me an inch or two into the air, and the arc of the flights so closely matched the slope that by the time I contacted the trail again, I was significantly further down the hill.
At the same time, I had never felt more relief, as the thing behind us had no way of catching us now. Somehow, maybe the seriousness of the escape gave us both the motive and the seriousness to keep ourselves under control. Looking back, I marvel that at least one of us didn’t lose control and end up splitting our skulls open.
We hit the pavement of the cul-de-sac below, and didn’t bother to slow down. We raced through the cross-street, one angry driver screeching to a halt and laying on his horn. This brought out the neighborhood watch. Just a few of them at first. Still, we didn’t slow down, our momentum carried us back up the much shallower slope of our neighborhood. Witnesses saw us depart at high speed, and this only brought out more of the watch. We heard whistles behind us, just like our P.E. teacher’s whistle. We figured that was the watch’s alarm siren. Regardless of what happened to that thing, it was behind us. We returned to our homes, shaken, but safe and sound, our inertia taking us almost all of the way there.
Another kid disappeared that Sunday, up on South Hill. We’d suspected it because we could see the lights of the police cars on a high road, surrounding the spot where it would turn out later, one of the kid’s shoes had been found. Russ confirmed it at school on Monday. It was a kid he’d known, lived down the road from his place, went to private school which is why we didn’t recognize his name.
I remember seeing Ralph’s face the next day when he arrived at school. He looked angry. Strong. Like he’d been crying really hard, and now it was over and he was resolved. He said he’d felt guilty because the thing we’d escaped from had gotten the other kid instead. He tried to tell his old man about it, then his mom, then any adult he could. He’d tell them about the monster who hides behind things. They needed to focus on finding and stopping that instead of looking for some sort of creeper or serial killer. Of course, nobody had listened to him. They hadn’t listened to the rest of us either when we’d tried to tell.
So he’d devised a plan. He was calling it the “Fight Patrol,” which we didn’t argue with. If the adults wouldn’t do something, we would. We’d patrol our neighborhood on our bikes, the four of us, maybe a couple more if we could talk others into it. We’d chase it off like that first time, maybe for good, or maybe corner it. Clearly, it could not handle being caught.
Naturally, we brought up the scare on South Hill. He argued that was a bad place. Too isolated, couldn’t turn around easily. We needed to stay on our home turf, lots of visibility, and plenty of the Neighborhood Watch within earshot. Maybe we and the adults working together was the key, even if the adults didn’t understand the problem.
Well, that convinced us. Our first patrol was that afternoon, after school. We watched everybody’s back like hawks. Nothing had a chance to sneak up on us. Nothing could step out from behind a bush without getting spotted. By Friday afternoon there were eight of us. The next week we split up to extend our territory to the next neighborhoods over.
Nothing happened. We never saw anything. Ben thought it was because we were scaring it away. Ralph just thought we were failing, and took it personally. I myself thought the thing had just moved to different parts of town, where the new disappearances were taking place. I told him we should keep it up until the thing was caught.
It was all for naught.
One day, India didn’t show up for school. I asked everybody, the teachers, the office staff, the custodian, my parents. All of them said they didn’t know, and it was so easy to tell that they were lying. That would mark the end of the Fight Patrol.
Ben didn’t show up a couple of days after that. When I got home and collapsed into bed, my mother came in to tell me that Ben’s mother had called. She’d taken him out of school and they were moving elsewhere. I called up Ralph to let him know the news, and he was relieved too.
My last day was Friday, and then I was taken out. Again, I called Ralph so he wouldn’t worry. I guess when there were only two weeks left of school, and it was just grade school, a couple missed weeks don’t amount to much. So I ended up spending the bulk of the summer out in the country, with my grandparents, which was why I brought up my grandpa in the first place.
I suppose I did fine out on their farmhouse. I was safe. There was certainly no shortage of things for a kid to do. I think my mom felt a strong sense of relief too. Things slipped through the cracks.
My grandparents didn’t have cable, too far out of town. They just had an old-school antenna and got a couple of TV stations transmitting out of Canada, Vancouver specifically. I remember one July day, sitting in their living room. My grandmother had just fixed lunch for me and my grandfather and had gone out to do some gardening as we watched the news at noon.
My grandfather was already being ravaged by his illnesses. He was able to get around, but couldn’t do any real labor anymore. He’d lounge in front of the TV in a special lounge chair. He hardly talked, and when he did he’d just mumble some discomfort or complaint to my grandma.
The lead story on the news was the current situation in Farmingham, despite being in the neighboring country, it was still big news in Vancouver, and the whole rest of the region. It seemed the disappearances were declining, but the police were still frantically searching for a supposed serial killer. I didn’t pick up much about what they were talking about, I was a kid after all, but my grandfather was watching intently, despite his infirmity.
He mumbled something, I didn’t catch. I asked him was he said, and as I approached I heard him say “fearsome critters.”
He turned his eyes to me and said again, distinct and in a normal tone of voice, “fearsome critters,” then returned his attention to the screen. “I don’t know why they call them that. Fearsome, sure. But ‘critters?” Makes it sound silly. Like it's some sort of fairy tale that it ain’t. Guess it’s like whistling past the graveyard. Well, they don’t have to worry about them no more, guess they can call them what they like.”
Then he turned to me. “Do you know what it is?” he asked. “Squonk? Hodag? Gouger? Hidebehind?”
“Hidebehind,” I whispered, and he turned back to the TV with a sneer. I had no idea what on earth he was talking about. Remember, this would be years before I learned he spent his youth as a lumberjack. And yet, somehow, I knew exactly what we were talking about.
“Hidebehind,” he repeated. “That will do it. They give them such stupid names. The folk back East, that is. Wisconsin. Minnesota. Ohio. Way back in the old days, before my grandfather would have been your age. Back when those places were covered by forests. They didn’t give them silly names back then, no. Back then they were something to worry about. Then they moved on, though. They all went out West, to here, followed the loggers. So as once they didn’t have to worry about them anymore, they started making up silly stories, silly names. “Fearsome critters,” they’d call them. Just tall tales to tell the greenhorns and scare them out of their britches. Then they’d make them even sillier, and tell the stories to little kids to spook them.”
“Not out here they didn’t tell no stories nor make up any names. It was bad enough they followed us out. I had no clue they even existed until I saw one for myself. Bout your age, I suppose. Maybe a little older. Nobody ever talks about them. Not even when they take apart a work crew, one by one. They just pull the crews back. Wait till mid-summer when the land is dry but not too dry. Then they move the crews in, a lot of them. Do some burning, make a lot of smoke. Drives them deeper into the woods, you know. Then you can cut the whole damn place down. But nobody asks why, nobody tells why. The people who know just take care of it.”
“I guess that’s why they’re coming to us now. All the old woods are almost gone. So they’ve got to. Like mountain lions. I supposed it’s going to happen sooner or later.”
We heard my grandma come into the back door to the utility room, and stomp the dirt off her boots. My grandfather turned to me one last time and said, “Whichever way you look at it, somebody’s just got to take care of it.” Then my grandmother came in from the utility room and asked us how our lunch had been.
Now that I look back at it, that might have been the last time my grandfather and I really had a meaningful talk.
We moved back home in late August. I had been having a fantastic summer. Though looking back, I suppose it could be rough for a still-young woman to be living in her aging parents' house when she’s got a perfectly good husband and house of her own in town.
First thing I did was visit Ralph. He’d been busy. He’d fortified his treehouse into a proper, well, tree fort. He’d nailed a lot of reinforcing plywood over everything. He hadn’t gone out on patrols by himself, of course, but the height of the tree fort afforded him a view of the nearest streets. He’d also made some makeshift weapons out of old baseball bats, a hockey stick, and a garden rake. The sharp rocks he’d attached to them with masking tape didn’t look very secure, but it’d only take one or two good blows with that kind of firepower. He also explained he’d been teaching himself kung fu, by copying all the movies he saw on kung fu movies late at night on the unpopular cable channels. That was classic Ralph.
As for the monster, it seemed to be going away. Its last victim had disappeared weeks previously, part of the reason my mom felt it was time to go back. This had been at night too. What’s more, the victim had been a college student, a very petite lady, barely five feet tall, under a hundred pounds. The news had speculated that their presumptive serial killer had assumed she was a child. I remember thinking the Hidebehind didn’t care. Maybe it just thought she couldn’t run fast enough to get away or put up a fight when he caught her. Like a predator.
At any rate, the college students were incensed. Of course, they’d been hyper-alert and concerned when it was just local kids going missing. Now that it was one of their own the camel’s back had broken. They really went hard on the protests, blaming the local police for not doing enough.
They started setting up their own patrols, and at night too. Marches with sometimes dozens of students at a time. They called it “Take Back the Night.” They’d walk the streets, making sure they’d be heard. Some cared drums or tambourines. They’d help escort people home, and sometimes they’d unintentionally stop random crimes they’d happen across. I felt like this was what the Fight Patrol could have been, if we’d just been old enough, or had been listened to. This would be the endgame for the Hidebehind, one way or another.
I stayed indoors the rest of the summer, and really there wasn’t much left. It doesn’t get too hot in the Pacific Northwest, nobody has air conditioners, or at least we didn’t back then. It will get stuffy though, in August, and I liked to sleep with my window open. I could hear the chants and challenges from the student patrols on their various routes. Sometimes I could hear them coming from far away, and every now and then they’d pass down my street. It felt like a wonderful security blanket.
I also liked the honeysuckle my mother had planted around the perimeter of the house. Late at night, if I was struggling to fall asleep, the air in my bedroom would start to circulate. Cold air would start pouring in over my windowsill, bringing the sweet scent of that creepervine with it, and I’d the sensation before finally passing out.
This one night, and I have no knowledge if I was awake, asleep, or drifting off, but the air in the room changed, and cooler air poured over the windowsill and swept over my bed, but it didn’t carry the sweet smell of honeysuckle. Regardless of my initial state, I was alert pretty quickly. It was a singularly unpleasant smell. A bit like death, which at that age I was mostly unfamiliar with, except a time some animal had died underneath the crawlspace of our house. There was more to it, though. The forest, the deep forest. I don’t know and still don’t know, what that meant. Most smells I associate with the forest are pleasant. Cedar, pine needles, thick loam of the forest floor, campfires, even the creosote and turpentine of those old timey-logging camps. This was none of those smells. Maybe… rotting granite, and the spores of slime molds. Mummified hemlocks and beds of needles compressed into something different than soil. It disturbed me.
So I sat up in bed. I hadn’t noticed before, but I’d been sweating, just lightly in the stuffy summer night heat. Now it was turning cold. Before me was my bedroom window. A lit rectangle in a pitch-dark room. To either side were my white, opened curtains, the one on the right, by the open half of the window, stirred just slightly in the barely perceptible breeze.
Most of the rectangle was the black form of the protective cypress tree. Only the slight conical nature of the tree distinguished it from a perfectly vertical column. To either side was a dim soft orange glow coming from the sodium lamps of the street passing by our house. It was perhaps a bit diffuse from the screen set in my window to keep out mosquitos. In the distance was the sound of an approaching troupe of the Take Back the Night patrol. They were neither drumming nor chanting, but still making plenty of noise. They were, perhaps, three or four blocks away, and heading my way.
For some reason that I didn’t understand, I got up, off of the foot of the bed. The window, being closer, appeared bigger. I took a silent step further. The patrol approached closer. Another step. I leaned to my right, just a bit, getting a slightly wider view to the left of the cypress tree. That was the direction the patrol was coming from.
That was when it resolved. The deeper black silhouette within the black silhouette of the cypress tree. A small lithe frame with a too-bulbous head. It too leaned, in its case, to the left, to see around the cypress tree as the patrol approached. They reached our block,on the other side of the street. A dozen rowdy college students, not trying to be quiet. None of them fearing the night. Each feeling safe and determined, and absorbed in their own night out rather than being overtly sensitive to their surroundings. They were distracted, unfocused If they had been peering into the shadows, if just one of them had looked towards my house, behind the cypress tree, they might have seen the Hidebehind, poking its face out and watching them transit past. But they didn’t notice.
It hid behind the cypress tree, and I hid behind it, hoping that the blackness of my bedroom would protect me. I stood absolutely still, as I had done once when a hornet had once landed on the back of my neck. Totally assure that if I made the slightest movement or made the slightest sound that I’d be stung. I hardly even breathed.
The patrol passed, from my perspective, behind the cypress tree and temporarily out of view. The Hidebehind straightened, ready to lean to the right and watch the patrol pass, only it didn’t lean. Even as I watched the patrol pass on to the right, it stood there, stock still, just as I was doing.
It was then I became aware that my room had become stuffy again. The scent was gone. The air had shifted and was now flowing out through the screen again, carrying my own scent with it. I knew what this meant, and yet I was too paralyzed to react. The thing started to turn, very slowly. It was a predator understanding that it might have become victim to its own game. It turned as if it was thinking the same thing I had been thinking, that the slightest movement might give it away.
It turned, and I saw its face. Like some kind of rotting desiccated, shriveling fruit, it was covered in wrinkles. Circles within concentric circles surrounded its two great eyes, eyes which took up so much of its face. I couldn’t, and still struggle, to think of words to describe it. Instead, I still think in terms of analogies. At the time I thought of the creature from the film E.T., only twisted and distorted into a thing of nightmares. Almost all eyelids, and a little drooping sucker mouth. Now that I’m more worldly, it reminds of creatures of ancient artworks. The key defining feature were the long horizontal slits it had for eyes. You see that in old masks carved in West Africa, or by the Inuit long ago. You see it in what’s called the “slit-eyed dogu” of ancient Japan.
As I watched the wrinkles on the face seemed to multiply. Then I realized this was the result of its eyes slowly widening. It’s mouth, too, slowly dilated, revealing innumerable small razor-sharp teeth. A person, standing in its location, shouldn’t have been able to see in. Light from the sodium streetlamps lit the window’s screen, obscuring the interior. It was no person. It could see me, and it was reacting to my presence. Its eyes grew huge, black.
My own eyes would have been just as wide if not for my own anatomical limitations. I was still watching when it disappeared. It didn’t see it move to the right. I didn’t see it move to the left, nor did I see it drop down out of view. It simply disappeared. One fraction of a second it was there, and then it decided to leave, and so it did. It was not a thing of this world.
There were no more disappearances after that poor woman from the university. I don’t think it had anything to do with me. The media and police all speculated their “serial killer” had gone into a “dormant phase”. There was no shortage of people who tried to take credit. Maybe they deserve it. The thing’s hunting had been on the decline. All the neighborhood watches and student patrols, I think that maybe all that commotion was making it too hard for the Hidebehind to go about its business. Maybe it had gone back to the woods.
Then again, maybe Ralph had been right the whole time. Maybe it really, really, really didn’t like to be seen.
So.
Now I’ve got some decisions to make. I think the first thing I should do is look at social media and dig up Ralph. It’s been a good thirty years since I last talked to him. He ought to know the Hidebehind is back. He’s probably made plans.
Then, there’s the issue of my son. He’s up in his bedroom now, probably still mad at me. Probably confused about why I’d be so strict. Maybe he’s inventing explanations as to why.
I’m not sure, but I’m leaning toward telling him everything. He deserves to know. It’d probably be safer if he knows. I think people have this instinct where, when they see or know something that they’re not supposed to know, they just bottle it up. I think that was the problem with grown-ups when I was a kid. It was the issue with my grandfather, telling me so little when it was almost too late. I think people do it because we’re social animals, and we’re afraid of being ostracized. Go along to get along.
Hell, my son is probably going to think I’m crazy. It might even make him more mad at me. And even more confused. He knows about the disappearances. “The Farmingham Fiend” the media would end up dubbing the serial killer that didn’t really exist. It’s become local “true crime” history. Kids tell rumors about it. It was almost forty years ago, so it probably feels safe to wonder about.
So yeah, I suppose when I say I know who the real killer was, a magical monster from the woods that stalks its prey by hiding behind objects, then impossibly disappears- that I’m going to look like a total nut. I’d think that if I were in his shoes.
Except… people are going to start disappearing again, it’s only a matter of time. The media will say that the Farmingham Fiend is back in the game. Will my son buy that? He’ll start thinking about what I told him, and how I predicted it. Then he’ll remember that he saw the thing himself, he and his friends, even if it was just out of the corner of his eye.
I hope, sooner or later, he’ll believe me. I could use his help. Maybe Ralph is way ahead of me, but I’m thinking we should get the Fight Patrol back together. Father and son, this time. Multigenerational, get the retirees involved too.
Old farts of my generation, for reasons I don’t understand, like to wax nostalgic over their own false sense of superiority. We rode our bikes without helmets and had distant if not irresponsible parents. Yeah, yeah, what a load. I think every new generation is better than the last, because every generation is a progression from the last, Kids these days? They’ve got cell phones, with cameras. And helmet cams. GoPros you can attach to bikes. Doorbell cameras.
It seems the Hidebehind loathes being seen. This time around, with my grandfather’s spirit, my own memories, and my boy’s energy? I think this time we’re finally going to beat it.
submitted by Guilty_Chemistry9337 to EBDavis [link] [comments]


2023.06.01 05:12 brendjoseph20 AITA For Asking my Boyfriend to be More Considerate with His Words?

My boyfriend (21M) and I (21M) have been together for just over one year. I’m happy to have found someone who prioritizes conversation over avoidance, but there are some issues that have me feeling conflicted.
To provide some context, we went through a rough patch from October until around March where he admitted to being unintentionally heated and excitable. When I told him that I didn’t want to attend his Halloween get-together since his friend who mistreated me was invited, he was angrily storming around the house and causing a commotion. In his eyes, I was derailing the plans he had set for around a month. I told him that he could still host the event without me there and even consoled him through all of the screaming and hurtful comments directed toward me.
He promised to never blow up on me again, but this past March on the night before my birthday, he started creating issues due to emotions he perceived I was having. He was borderline yelling at me over something that I wasn’t feeling in the first place. I had to plead with him to help him understand that he often dictates how I’m feeling in a conversation and runs with it before I have a chance to fully explain myself. I further stated that it’s difficult to come down from those moments since he is certain that what he’s thinking must be true.
Whenever we have serious discussions about something that has gone wrong or is bothering us these days, he still places labels on my emotions before I can fully express or identify them. He said that telling me how I feel is how he empathizes with me and that I need to accept his communication style since he has no malicious intent. I’ve explained that even though he has changed and has better control over his temper, I still don’t feel comfortable with being told how I feel before I have the chance to state my perspective on a situation (especially because of our past).
For example, he recently told me that he processes things differently when we talk and how I need to understand. We were having a disagreement just a few days after he had been candid with me, so I figured it would be the perfect time to try and apply what he requested of me. When I was doing my best to incorporate what he has told me in the past to understand why he may have misinterpreted what I was trying to say, he interrupted to say that I was over-analyzing his brain and that I’m controlling how he talks because of this. He once again assumed I was mad when he would’ve known that I wasn’t had he waited an extra minute or two.
Am I wrong for asking him to use different wording and to stop telling me how I feel? I have no problem with him thinking that I feel a certain way, but I would rather him seek clarification or ask questions rather than escalate the situation and make me feel bad about something that I could have explained is untrue or different right from the jump.
submitted by brendjoseph20 to AmItheAsshole [link] [comments]


2023.06.01 04:30 orangeblossomhoneyd Help, mold copper ground wires in plumbing old home

What started out as a simple bathroom remodel (haha) has turned into a disaster of epic proportions. We were replacing a small section of bathroom wall that has been patched over so many times by previous homeowners behind the vanity. Well, removing the drywall exposed some black mold that is inside the vanity wall and behind the shower. We never saw any leaks, any signs of mold, or any wet walls so it was a complete shock. We just moved in but I noticed our other bathroom has a faucet drip leak that turns the tub green and blue. Well you can imagine after internet research it looks like we have copper pipes that could be oxidized? The home was built in 1960 probably original plumbing. Mold removal specialists have been very flaky and slow and we’ve had our bathroom sealed up for a week with no progress. The moisture readers went nuts around our bathroom windows. The bathrooms exterior wall has an outdoor faucet connected to a grounded wire. The bathrooms share a wall and we’re worried this could turn into a total gut job of both bathrooms. It’s a big blow because we’ve only had the home for a month and it’s not safe to live in right now. What should we do?
submitted by orangeblossomhoneyd to Plumbing [link] [comments]


2023.05.31 19:48 ZippymcOswald Ron Stampler appreciation post. Possible [spoilers]


Hey there nerds and weirdos, here's my Beth May is a superhero, dungeons and daddies is the best, and hooooo boy did i realize i have a lot of baggage i need to deal with, appreciation post. Two weeks prior to thanksgiving 2022, an old high school friend of mine jumped into a rented ford MachE mustang, pointed it south and began the long trip to a cabin on Mount Hood, Oregon for a DnD weekend. We were both excited to continue our campaign we started earlier in the year. I’d get to reprise the roll of Snu Snu, half orc Barbarian, who is a dumb but smashy chap. I like my Dnd Characters to have a delusion, like the orc barbarian that was convinced he was a “blood wizard”, or the halfling rogue who was trying to convince everyone he was a brave warrior when in fact he was a coward. It’s fun playing flawed characters in Dnd, i think it sorta breaks the mold of playing heroes on an important quest. I like flawed characters in film, tv, literature, probably because I am a flawed character. Person. I’m a flawed person. I’m real, despite sometimes not wanting to be so some of the time. We started our journey in Seattle Washington, our GPS said it would be a four hour trip at two hundred and fifteen miles, the mache e was advertised to have a range of 110 miles…. I immediately realized I had made a critically failed my intelligence roll. 215 miles was greater than 110 miles. After two hours of bumper to bumper traffic, I needed to charge the car to get to our destination and despite my undeserved confidence, charging an electric car is more difficult and slower than I had expected. You have to find a fast charger, the right fast charger, and download the app associated with it, fill out a bunch of personal info, then start the charging process, which I remind you was referred to as “fast” but in fact takes over an hour. I’d fucked up. Our friends were already at the cabin we had rented, they had their character sheets in one hand, beers in the other and they were just waiting for us. I thought i’d already ruined the trip and we hadn’t made it out of the state. I asked my friend what he’d want to listen to while we sat and waited for the car to gain enough range to make it to our cabin on the edge of the forgotten realms. Ok, i didn’t say that, that was me trying to sound impressive and like i’m a good writer. You get it, or at least i hope you get it. My friend knew that i love podcasts, so he suggested we listen to a DND themed podcast to get in the mood, i asked which one, and he suggested Dungeons and Daddies. He said it was really funny, and he thought i’d like it. So, i found it in my podcatcher, went to season one episode one and started listening. We listened for the entire ride to the cabin, and then back again. I immediately loved the show. There’s something about podcasts, I'm not sure exactly what it is, but to me it feels like I really get to know the hosts/characters on the show. I think podcasts create a false sense of intimacy between the listener and the hosts. I think it’s because I mainly listen to podcasts alone and and it feels like the hosts/characters are talking to me. Or that I'm a fly on the wall of a really fun place, and I get to quietly observe these hilarious people. Is it because I listen in headphones or in my car? Maybe. Anyway, I know I get a false sense of intimacy, but sometimes I like to pretend it isn’t, or maybe I forget that it isn’t. I’m not sure, but these people don’t know me, and I don't know them, not really. So, after our weekend of DND, we drove back to Seattle, and by the time I was back at my house, I was ten episodes into Dungeons and Daddies. Over the last three weeks It had become my new audio obsession. I was hooked and I listened to it in the gym, on dog walks, while I cooked for my family, while I drove, every moment of silence I had was filled with the dads in the forgotten realm. I LOVE this show like I imagine many of you do because it’s funny, smart and dumb at the same time, it has great improvisation, an interesting story, fun characters who are out of place, and is honestly very touching and more emotionally impactful than I'd ever have imagined. As I got further down the season one rabbit hole, I began finding myself gravitating to Ron Stampler as my favorite daddy storyline. Beth’s performance is just fantastic, and even before episode 61,, where Ron has to give his dog away, Ron’s story and Beth’s performance was bringing me to tears.
I’m a dad, I have a son who is eight. In my life, there are only two Dads in my immediate family, see my wife’s father passed away when she was eight, there’s me and my dad. Well.. oh boy. My dad is kinda a nightmare. Not like Willy is a nightmare, my Dad is more like a crumpled and faded poster of a black and white monster movie, it’s sometimes more sad than scary. My dad was gone a lot when I was a kid. He was on business trips for pretty much eighty percent of my childhood. At one point he was American airlines third most flown person in the world, no joke. He’d fly to Germany on Monday, Japan on Wednesday, and then back to Oregon on friday. The good thing was we were able to fly back to my parents home country in the summer and at christmas, and the whole family usually flew for free because of his frequent flier miles. Those trips were GREAT times, I’d see my cool cousins, we’d eat awesome candy, visit castles, see the sleeping giants and all other manner of family fun. But, in normal life, I'd see him Friday night where he’d crash out, then when he woke up on Saturday he’d be grumpy, groggy and easy to anger. Those were the really good times I remember with my Dad when I was growing up, but I also remember him being angry, depressed, mean and sometimes he’d hurt me. I’m not saying that he hit me or my brother or mom on a regular occasion, that he was a drunk or anything, but there were times where he’d take things too far and I'd get hurt. For example, i must have been ten or eleven when my Dad, Brother and I went to a christian rock festival.We had to kill some time in the parking lot before the doors opened to rock n roll jesus. So my dad had the idea to teach us the spoons game. It’s like the game where you put your hands out palm up, and the other player places their hands on your hands palm down. You try to slap the other player’s hands while they try to evade your slaps. Got it? There’s gotta be a name for that game, slappies or something…
Well, for some reason we had some cutlery in the back of the car, maybe we had a picnic before the show, i don’t remember why, but we had shiny metal spoons for some reason. He taught us “the spoon game” by instructing me to make fists, and put them out in front of myself. He held spoons, one in each hand, and placed the bottom of the spoon on the top of my knuckles. My goal was to move my hands out of the way of the spoons as he tried to hit my knuckles with them. We played for what seemed like 15 minutes and he hit me every-time and with each successful hit he grew happier, and laughed harder. At first it stung, then it ached, then it was like this bubbling cauldron of pain and frustration was exploding inside me. When I could hardly hold my hands still because I was so angry, hurt and embarrassed, I burst into tears when my hands were red and beginning to bruise. I ran away from him, I just took off up the improvised road in the parking lot. He came after me, apologized to me and gave me a hug. We never played that game again. That’s just the kind of guy he was, and as I got older I realized some of the myriad of reasons he was that way. Firstly, he was an orphan, he and his brother were dropped off at an orphanage when he was three and his brother was five. I can only assume catholic orphanages in the 1950’s were not a great place to have some of your first memories. Although he’s never talked about it to me, I’m sure they’ve affected him. About a year later he and his brother were adopted by my grandparents, who in their 40’s decided to adopt two brothers aged four and six. I adored my grandparents, they were amazing people. They were blue-collar folks, my grandfather was a coal miner, with amazing stories and two sheds full of treasures which my grandmother called junk my brother and I got to paw through. Sure, he picked it up off the side of the road, but they were treasures, not junk in my or my brothers eyes. My grandfather walked from Wales to Scotland with his brother when he was nine years old to get work in the coal mines of Scotland. His sister, she was a boat captain and smuggler during the Spanish civil war who ran guns, food and medical supplies to the anti fascists. My Grandmother learned sign language so she could communicate and help THE deaf family in the village when the mother of that family fell gravely ill. But, it was the 1950’s and 1960’s so no matter how great their lives stories were, hitting kids was super normal, or at least that’s what my father and mother experienced. I’m sure he had a lot of trauma he never dealt with when he became a father in his late twenties. When we were kids, he was the sole breadwinner, his job was probably really taxing and took a lot out of him, he was away from his family a lot, and you know, traveling for work and living in hotels sucks. That’s not to excuse his behavior, I just try to, you know, put him in context of the stress he was under that I was too young to know about. It’s easier for me to believe that he’s not inherently bad, but shaped by his environment, it’s just easier for me that way. Judge away. It’s complicated. When I was twelve he lost his job, his brother committed suicide, and his funeral he found out he had 4 half sisters in Scotland who his brother had known about, and not told him about for almost a decade. It was a bad year with a silver lining. I watched him retreat into depression, longing, and joy of finding his new sisters. When i got out of college, he had his fourth back surgery. He had ruptured another disc in his lower back, and required another Discectomy . However, during the healing process he got an infection, one that raised his fever to a dangerous level that resulted in brain damage. From that point on, he wasn’t mean. He wasn’t cruel. He was confused, stubborn, repetitive, annoying and a shadow of his former intellectual self. So, I pity my father. Over this thanksgiving he decided to drive us back to my house from our extended families thanksgiving celebration. He drove into oncoming traffic because we had told him to take the next left, which he interpreted as take a left right now. No one was hurt. My son was in the car and was very scared.
And all I could think about was Ron Stampler. Listening to the end of season one gave me a lot of feelings. Listening to how Willy treated Ron wasn’t like my life with my father, not beat for beat, but a lot of the emotional beats seemed similar. Suddenly my father being absent for most of my early childhood was similar to the emotional abandonment Willy treated Ron. I saw how Willy was dismissive and cruel to Ron, and it brought back a bunch of memories I hadn’t contextualized. The spoons game for example, I had just blocked that off, not thought about it for decades, and when Willy was being so cruel to Ron, it just reminded me of that afternoon in a parking lot outside of a Jesus festival. So, my dad never made me give my dog away, but he did lose my dog once. Like, his story is that he took him to the groomer and the dog just bolted and we never saw Mocha again. Holy shit. I… I just remembered that. I want to break the cycle. I don’t want to pass on the bullshit my Dad did to me, I don’t want my the way I feel less than, incomplete, wrong and not god damn good enough onto my sweet boy. He doesn’t deserve any of that, I mean no kid does, but I’m NOT going to do that to him. I struggle with being a father a lot. I’m always second guessing myself, always worried that i’ll slip into a casual cruelty that will forever leave deep emotional scars in my sweet son the way my dad did to me. My son is an emotional kid, like I was. My son has the biggest heart you’ll ever see in a child his age. He loves everyone he meets, treats them as dear friends, and is always the first to lend a hand, a shoulder to cry on, a hug, or the shirt off his back. For christ's sake, this halloween he gave a bunch of his candy to his friends brother on the night of halloween. The younger brother was too tired to do the second round of trick or treating, it was past his bedtime. We were having a little party for halloween because we go crazy for halloween. Decorations, lights, family costume themes, full sized cady bars for trick or treaters, the whole nine yards. My son’s friends parents were attending the party, So I took my son and his friend on 2nd round of trick or treating. It was awesome, we were the last group of trick or treaters to be seen and our neighborhood was just dumping candy into the kids bags. DUMPING. When we got home, with our heavy haul the brother was upset that he didn’t go back out and get candy, so my kid just gave him all he wanted. If you’re not a parent of a young kid, let me be clear- candy is the hard drugs of childhood. Kids can be junkies for that sweet sweet candy.
That’s the kind of selfless eight year old I have, just handing over his own kiddy crack to someone he cares about without a second thought. Just today I realized he put a board game on his list to Santa, because it’s my wife’s favorite board game. He wants HER to have it, so he’s asking the all mighty and powerful Santa to bring something for him, so he can make his mom happy. What a kid. Listening to the Dungeons and Daddies made me think a lot about my dad, my baggage, what Dad I wanted to be. I have committed myself to not passing on generational trauma to my sweet, sweet boy. Listening to Beth May craft such a beautiful arch for Ron opened up a pandora's box of emotion including hope, anger, sadness and love. Ron was able to take the first steps of breaking the cycle of abuse that Willy passed on to him, and I’m ready to do the same. I hope to be as smart, brave, insightful and cool as Ron frickin’ Stampler. Thank you Daddies, thank you Anthony, Thank you Beth. I did not expect that this horny and violent podcast would be so therapeutic and eye opening to me.
submitted by ZippymcOswald to DungeonsAndDaddies [link] [comments]


2023.05.31 18:09 tmancny81 I can't do this anymore

I've been suffering for the last 3 months with no diagnosis(other than gastritis during an upper endoscopy and depression/anxiety). Doctors keep admitting me to the psych ward and telling me that I just have anxiety and depression. I call bullshit. Back in December I was a happy, healthy 41 year old guy that went to the gym everyday and loved life and was funny and intelligent. I had a loving marriage and a nice home with a good job.
In January my wife told me that she had met someone. She put me through two months of high stress and put me into a deep depression. In March right before she was to leave me I caught COVID and haven't been the same since. I'm not sure if I am getting the double whammy from both or what the hell is happening with me. Also last year my mom died, my pet died, and I had to deal with a super painful anal fistula. What I am going through now is much worse.
I've had terrible insomnia since then, I used to sleep like a baby every night. My head/brain feels like it's under attack all the time or screaming for help. I'm not sure how to describe it. It doesn't feel right at all, like it is going a million miles an hour, not with thought but with feeling. It's very painful. It always wants me to run from any excitement. I have a constant shaking. Feels like my head is bobbing to my heartbeat and I have tremors. I have terrible digestion issues with gas, bloating , reflux, constipation to diarrhea, and strange pains. I've lost 35 pounds in two months even though I am eating. I also have a nose that reacts to everything now and my skin is doing the same thing. My nose runs when I eat anything, it fills up with clear mucus that I have to blow all the time, sometimes it fills with white mucus that I have to clean out all day. I'm having very strange issues with my ears and throat as well. Ears cracking and popping, throat always hurts. I literally feel like an alien with all these things that don't make sense. I have pains from head to toe and not sure if they are real or not. My vision is blurry and much worse without my glasses than it used to be. My eyes always burn and feel dry no matter what I do. I can't even read the alarm clock anymore at night.I have crawling sensations all over, especially on my back along with biting sensations. I seem to be way too aware of my body. I have zero energy and constant fatigue. I'm always dizzy especially when I first stand up. I literally urinate like 20 times a day now including like 5 times in the night and it's always a ton. I'm not drinking that much.
As for mental issues. I have memory issues now, they feel like a million years ago or like they weren't real. I couldn't remember where things were at first or how to get places. My brain doesn't process like it used to. I can't find words all the time. I seem to know less than I used to. I have a constant feeling of fear and always feel like I am dying. I have very bad depression that Effexor isn't touching. I'm on week 4 now. Everything started before I started this med just an fyi. I don't feel like I am living in my own body and mind. It's an awful feeling. I no longer have the ability to laugh or be happy. My face is so tight I can't even smile. It seems like the only emotions I have are anger, fear, and sadness. I have this strange feeling telling me that I can't do things all the time. I have to really push myself to do anything. I no longer have a sex drive or can climax. This started before the Effexor as well. My concentration level is zero and I am not able to relax. I have a lessened grip on reality.
I have had a ton of tests, including a brain MRI and EEG and they were clear. All blood work is good and vitals are good. I have fired my Dr for not trying harder or even referring me to a neurologist. He first thought maybe stress reactivated hsv 1 or ebv and it went to my brain. Antivirals did nothing. Then he thought it's all anxiety. He and the psych Drs keep throwing scary meds at me that I seem to be immune to. They are convinced this is all anxiety. They tried Xanax, Valium, Klonopin, Seroquel, Olanzapine, prazosin, to name a few. I don't want to take this shit. Before all this I was on Celexa and Trazadone only for many years. I haven't worked since February, been on disability. Supposed to go back tomorrow since it has run out. I'm not sure they are going to want to deal with me, I have become a very weird and scary person. My family doesn't believe what I am going through at all. They are supportive but think it's all in my head. I will admit I really miss my wife a lot and everything reminds me of her, but there is more going on here. I've lost my house and am living in a tiny apartment since I can barely take care of myself anymore.
I have written my goodbye letter for the day I decide to give up. The head feeling and the weird shaking is too much to handle for much longer let alone the rest of the bullshit. It is all day and all night. I don't believe anxiety is 24/7. I think something is being missed. Either COVID unleashed something or did direct damage or I have lost my mind from shock of wife leaving and I am not on the right meds. My family has been there for me since this started, they just are not getting it and taking the Drs sides. I don't want to hurt them, I am just not sure how much longer I can take this. I'm afraid of going to hell, but it seems something is trying to get me to kill myself. I had two other episodes in my life similar to this, but not nearly as bad and there was no head problems or shaking going on. Those resolved on their own with no diagnosis. This is much worse. I used to love sports and Fall/Halloween, movies, music, reading, sex, video games. I don't care about anything anymore other than getting back to normal. I get no pleasure from anything. My mind's reward system is not working at all. I'm lost as to what to do.
I feel I had a great 14 year long marriage to a woman who loved me like crazy and I loved her and still do. I have a caring family. I had mostly a good life if you take out 2001, 2005, 2006, 2022, 2023. 36 years is more than some get in this world. It seems I should have a lot of life, love, and fun left, but whatever this is doesn't seem to be getting better or inclined to kill me. So my resolve and fight is wearing thin. Being in pain all day and night is no way to live.
submitted by tmancny81 to SuicideWatch [link] [comments]


2023.05.31 16:15 igorcarbex16 Bully Soundtrack References & Similarities in Details...


https://preview.redd.it/ahl29u0mu73b1.jpg?width=453&format=pjpg&auto=webp&v=enabled&s=cc1b571612182aff5e4cef882d9095a7be6f2375
Hello Bully it's me again, The Bully soundtrack composed by the genius Shawn Lee is pretty rad, so as a music enthusiastic, i want to share this post for people really obsessed with the Bully songs like me, tried to include every song in the game like as puzzle pieces getting together with the greatest amount, most accurate and similar as possible in one sitting, with some help around the internet, personal discoveries and songs already mentioned for yourselves so thank you nonetheless, and sorry for the repetition. Unfortunately some will still be missing so "a little help"/hits for these unreferenced sounds are very welcome.
Some songs are pretty obvious but others looks well hidden, but that's the fun of it, not every song is a sample, they just sound alike or has interpolations.
I know it would be boring to reading all of this so also dedicated this YouTube playlist in details for, so that you can check thoroughly for a more accurate comparison: 😎👍 - Have Fun! https://m.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLtZ1VivcLOsiTtYHUrK-xw8OHZZAeOzRf
★ Main Storyline
·Welcome to Bullworth (Menu theme): Suspiria Theme - Goblin
·This Is Your School: The Duck - Shawn Lee
·The Setup/Bait/The Gym is Burning: Organ Donor - DJ Shadow
·Slingshot/Revenge on Mr. Burton "Part 3" (Fun): My Sweet Lord - George Harrionson the ex-Beatles & Billy Preston
·Save Algie: Love My Way - Psychedelic Furs
·Defend Bucky/The Eggs/Weed KilleStronghold Assault (Action): Shake, Shake, Shake - KC & The Sunshine Band, A Little Less Conversation - Elvis Presley, Hocus Pocus - Focus
·That B****/The Diary/Jealous Johnny/Paparazzi: This Must Be The Place (Naive Melody) - Talking Heads
·The Candidate/Cook's Date: Oh Yeah - Yello
·Halloween/The Big Prank: The Chase - Shawn Lee, Burning Bridges - The Republic From The Getaway Game - Shawn Lee
·Help Gary: Cannonball - Breeders (it also reminds me the "X-Files Theme - Mark Snow" but this is overthinking)
·Character Sheets: Agent Woodrow - The Woodies
·Hattrick vs. Galloway: Cat Blues - Seatbelts (Drum Patterns)
·Movie Tickets (Sneaking On A Date): All Mine, Glory Box - both by Portished
·Carnival Date (Romance): Kiss The Sky - Shawn Lee's Ping Pong Orchestra (also features in "Tales from the Bordelands Episode 2")
·Prep Challenge/Boxing Challenge: Drums on Phasing - Joe Ufer (Sample)
·Race the Vale/Lola's Race: Casio VL-1 Tone (Sampler) *a lot of songs use this instrument for samples, for Bully this is predominant in bike races, it also reminds the iconic song "Funkytown - Lipps inc."
·Beach Rumble: Tenebre 12 mix - Claudio Simonetti
·Tad's House: Billie Jean (Bass Only) - Michael Jackson
·Tagging/Making a Mark (Wildstyle): Chic - Good Times
·Wrong Part of Town/Busting In, Part I: Prog Punk, Psyche Drums (*After The Release!) - Shawn Lee's Ping Pong Orchestra
·The Tenements/Norton Boss Fight: Human Fly - Cramps, I Wanna Be Your Dog - Iggy Pop & the Stooges
·The Rumble/Defender of the Castle (Epic Confrontation): Matador - X Mal Deutschland (as the "wildstyle" music many songs are similar to this, i listed the most accurate or the most fun imo, at least)
·Nerd Challenge/Consumo Arcade (Menu): Sakura, Sakura - Traditional Japanese Folk Song
·Nerd Challenge/Consumo (Main): Four Thousand Years of Chinese History - SNK Sound Team from Fatal Fury: King of Fighters Game
·Glass House/Smash It Up (Destruction/Vandalism): Rapture - Blondie, The Breaks - Kurtis Blow
·Nice Outfit: Odetta - Hit or Miss (Drum Patterns), Dig Your Own Hole - Chemical Brothers (Drum Patterns)
·The Big Game (Nerds "Agent")/Revenge on Mr. Burton "Part 2": Big Bad Wolf - Shawn Lee
·Rats in the Library: You Rock My World - Michael Jackson, Spies In The Wires - Cabaret Voltaire
·Preppies Vandalized (Punishment): D12 40 Oz. - Mr. Stan
·Busting In, Part II/Paper Route: Identity - X-Ray Spec, Mongoloid - Devo
·Showdown at the Plant (Overture): "Saracens Theme" - The Warriors Game
·Complete Mayhem (Street Fight): Criminal - Fiona Apple (also resembles "All Caps - Madvillain-Madvillainy or MF Doom" and "Intermezzo 2 - Mr. chop" but this was released in 2009)
·School's Out (End Credits): Walk On The Wild Side (Bass and Rhythm Pattern) - Lou Reed by Velvet Underground
\Christmas is Here, Small Offences, Discreet Deliveries, The Collector, Mailbox Armageddon and Go See The Principal doesn't feature a unique theme or has any song.*
★ Miscellaneous, Ambience & Shop themes
·Chase Prefect and Police: The Shaft intro and end themes - Isaac Hayes, Beat Dis (12 Version) - Bomb The Bass
·Chase Adults/A Little Help: Take California - Propellerheads, Secret Agent - Bjorn Lynne
·Detention/Mowing Laws - Unused track from The Warrior Game (it doesn't have an actual name, sorry)
·Bike Race 1: Casio VL-1 Tone (Sampler)
·Bike Race 2: Sonic CD Game - Wacky Workbench Zone - Bad Future
·Kart Race (Main) or "Lowrider": You Baby - The Turtles
·Kart Race (Beta): Baba Hya - Lafayette Afro Rock Band
·General Store "Yum Yum Market": Cover Girl - Gabriele Ducros
·Hair Saloon (Poor) "The Final Cut": Punky Dragster - Tele Music
·Hair Saloon (Rich) "Old Bullworth Vale": Dance Feeling - Tele Music
·Clothing Store (Poor) "Worn In Used Clothing": Disco Revisited - Tele Music
·Clothing Store (Rich) "Aquaberry Outlet" (*After The Release!): Now That Is Jazz - Charlie's Bistro Ensemble
·Janitor's Room: Lonesome Heart Swing - Dennis Caplinger
·Carnival Ambience "Billy Crane's Traveling Carnival": Golden Brown - Stranglers
·Box Club Ambience "Glass Jaw Boxing Club": Icy Nation - Tele Music
·Preppie's Hideout Beach "Lighthouse" (*After The Release!): With My Maker I Am One - Chill Coffehouse Drip
·Dragon's Wing Comic Store (*After The Release!): Daniel Loves Singing - C. Allocco
·Nerd's Hideout "Dragon's Wing Comic Store" (Under): Soaring Song - Tele Music
·Jock's Hideout "Jock's Clubhouse": Grand Theft Auto (Song) - Craig Conner
·Monkey Fling (Menu): it reresemble Super Mario World Overworld theme
·Future Street Racer (Main): The Doom - Shadow The Hedgehog 2005 Game
★ Xmas Themes
Holiday themes features various artists, this list is based on the ones made by Shawn lee itself for his album "A Very Ping Pong Christmas: Funky Treats form Santa's Bag", The original composers is on the song description.
·Balls of Snow: Carol of the Bells - Mykola Leontovych
·Miracle on Bullworth St.: Jingle Bells - James Lord Pierpont
·Rudy the Red Nosed Santa: O Come All Ye Faithful (Adeste Fideles) - John Francis Wade & Frederick Oakeley
·Nutcrackin': Deck The Halls - Thomas Oliphant, Little Dummer Boy - Katherine Kennicott Davis, Harry Simeone & Henry Onorati
·Bike Shop (Xmas) "Shiny Bikes": Let it Snow! - Gary Hoey (Dean Martin is the original composer) (Most famous by Frank Sinatra)
·Clothing Store (Poor) (Xmas) "Worn In"/Clothing Store (Rich) (Xmas) "Aquaberry": Jingle Bells (Dan The Automator) - Dean Martin, *the Aquaberry outlet uses a different tone in jazz
·Janitor's Room (Xmas)/Hair Saloon (Poor)(Xmas) "The Final Cut": Up On The House Top (Ho, Ho, Ho) - Gene Autry
·Dragon's Wing Comic Store (Xmas)/Hair Saloon (Rich)(Xmas)"Old Bullworth Vale": We Wish You a Merry Christmas - Traditional English (Britain) Folk Song
·Xmas Tree: Dance Of The Sugar-Plum Fairy - Piotr Ilitch Tchaikovski
\The General Store "Yum Yum Market" reuses a song collage of various themes as Deck the Halls, We Wish You a Merry Christmas and Jingle Bells in that order on looping.*
★ Classes
·Music classes features American Folk and American March Songs since the game takes place in USA
Class 1: Turkey In The Straw
Class 2: Masterpiece Fanfare
Class 3: She'll Be Coming 'Round the Mountain
Class 4: Liberty Bell March (also known as "Monty Python Theme")
Class 5: The Washington Post March (also sounds similar to "Willian Tell Act" by Charlie Chaplin)
·English Class: Piéces de Clavecin en concert; La Timide - Jean-Philippe Rameau
·Art Class: Come With the Night (Drum Patterns) - Sugar Stick (also resembles "Test Area - Broadcast" or "Serpent Magique - Tangerine Dream")
·Photography Class/BMX Park (*After The Release!): Automatic - Shawn Lee & AM (for observation, the Bike Park and Photography theme are slightly different, not the same)
·Biology: Dara Factor One - Weather Report Music, Heist in Helsinki (*After The Release!) - Shawn Lee's Ping Pong Orchestra
\Geography class uses a medley of characteristic instruments and sounds of world nations*
★ Cliques & Boss fights
·Vendetta Non-Clique: Ode To Billie Joe - Lou Donaldson
·Vendetta Bullies: Skin Therapy - Mr. Dibbs (also features in Tony Hawk's Underground 2003 Game), And on the Sixth Day - Pat Williams
·Vendetta Nerds/Stronghold Assault (Nerd Boss Fight): Casio VL-1 Tone (Sampler), Da Da Da - Trio (not only the song but the nerds cliques itself looks heavy inspired by the movie Revenge of the Nerds, some themes would also fit for Nerds in particular "Burning Down The House by Talking Heads")
·Vendetta Preppies: Billie Jean - Michael Jackson, Whip it - Devo
·Vendetta Greasers: Play For Today - The Cure, Private Idaho - B-52's, Disorder - Joy Division
·Vendetta Jocks: Amen, Brother - The Winstons, Drums Away - The Simon Song (Drums Intro), The Assembly Line - Commodores (this one use one of the most famous samples in music the "Amen Break" by Winstons as initially mentioned)
·Vendetta Dropouts/Townie Challenge: Tédio - Biquíni Cavadão, I Love Rock 'N Roll - The Arrows (Original Composers) *the guitar riff and bass pattern is extremely similar to "Pretty Fly by Offspring" but the song "Tédio" is alot older and still more accurate to the townies theme
·Russell in the Hole: Firestarter (Drum Patterns) - Prodigy, Devotion (Voice of Paradise) - Ten City
·Dishonorable Fight: Eye of the Tiger, Burning Heart - both by Survivor
·Fighting Johnny Vincent: Boogie Woodie - The Beach Boys, Caldonia Boogie - Louis Jordan (also covered by James Brown) *this song line is also referred as "The Walking Bass" featured in many Classic Rock songs
·The Big Game (Jock Boss Fight): Just Like Heaven, A Forest - The Cure, Harmonia - Dino
·Showdown at the Plant: Headhunter - Front 242, Are You Red..Y - The Clash
·Final Showdown: Underwater March - Klaus Badelt, 2001 NBA Ultimate Player (Film Score) *God of War (2018) Game also has a similar tone in "Spartan Rage" overture by Bear McCreary
★... Uncertain? ...Suggestions
·Bully Main Theme (Running Theme): Maniac - Michael Sembello, the synthesizer effect looks an interpolation of the xylophone effect used in the game.
·Overworld (Walking Theme) - The Phantom of the Opera Motion Picture Overture (this also resambles "echoes" by pink floyd but that peculiar melody is more predominant in this theme), Let's Ge Started (Bass Only) - Black Eyed Peas, it looks heavily inspired by Dario Argento movies (as the overall soundtrack).
·Here's to you Ms. Philips/Last Minute Shopping/Cook's Crush/Discretion Assured/Finding Johnny Vincent/Revenge on Mr. Burton "Part 1" (The Search): Sounds similar to "Tenant - Siouxsie And The Banshees", people often confuse this theme to "Cheating Time" but the track is named "Here's to you Ms. Philips" as does the mission, it also resembles a Giorgio Gaslini piece an italian jazz pianist or the american compositor Henry Mancini the creator of Pink Panther iconic theme.
·Panty Raid/Galloway Away/Cheating Time (Stealth): Love Theme From "The Godfather" or "Speak Softly, Love" or just The Godfather Theme from Nino Rota a renowned italian composer, written by Larry Kusik, also resembles the song "Hey by Pixies".
·Comic Klepto: Where’d You Go - Fort Minor e Jonah Matranga (interpolation), also resembles Gramatik, Transplants, Flobots or X-Ecutiornes style of song.
·Funhouse Fun/ Funhouse (Ambience): Carnival of the Animals; Introduction and Royal March of the Lion ("Marche Royale du Lions") - Camille Saint-Saëns (interpolation)
·Funhouse Graveyard "Carnival Funhouse Graveyard" (Unused/Beta): Lux Aeterna - Clint Mansell & Kronos Quartet; Requiem For A Killer Movie Score
·Shop Class "Auto Repair Shop": Sounds similar to Star Guitar - Chemical Brothers, Cities in the Dust - Siouxie And The Banshees
·Math Class (Beta): Sounds similar to Nightmare on Elm Street Theme
·Gym Class/Lockpicking/Jocks Challenge: Sounds similar to "Resucitó" an old catholic song
·Bike Shop "Shiny Bikes": Sounds similar to Billy Club - Junkie XL, Horndog - Overseer
·Greaser's Hideout/Greaser's Challenge "Blue Balls Pool House" "Tattoo Parlor" & "The Happy Mullet": Sounds similar to In-Cut Overdrive - Tomonori Sawada; Sega Rally 2006 Game
·Townies/Dropouts Hideout "Dropout Hangout": Sounds similar to Babel - Covenant
★ Still Missing... Unknown?
·Chemistry Class: although i can't find a matching song it doesn't sound like music per se
·Math Class (Main): definitely a funky/soul tune, unfortunately i couldn't find a corresponding song for it
·Nut Shots: resembles Gradius songs a game by Konami or AiAce Combat a Namco Game
I REALLY LOVE BUNNIES, THEY'RE SO NICE!
I Hope you like it 😎👍
submitted by igorcarbex16 to bully [link] [comments]


2023.05.31 14:46 Dangerous-Bag-7327 [HIRING] 21 Jobs in Phoenix Hiring Now!

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L&W Supply Corporation Warehouse Material Handler (7504) Phoenix
Kuehne + Nagel Warehouse Associate - 1st Shift Phoenix
Array Technologies, Inc Director of Warehousing, Third Party Logistics (3PLs) Phoenix
Hey guys, here are some recent job openings in phoenix. Feel free to comment here or send me a private message if you have any questions, I'm at the community's disposal! If you encounter any problems with any of these job openings please let me know that I will modify the table accordingly. Thanks!
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2023.05.31 13:58 ibratnak Separationism

I have a theory: if you create a separate country out of every household in Pakistan, the individual members will still come out in rebellion and demand separation.
Separationism is the default configuration of Pakistanis because our foundations were based on this very philosophy.
After partition, India used overwhelming force against princely states, while we started negotiations with the sardars of Balochistan.
Since our inception, the national sentiment has been molded to sympathize with the separationists of Kashmir through PTV and other state channels showing vivid details of Indian brutality.
The liberation of Kashmir never happened, but the emotionality of this campaign was hijacked by separationist movements such as those in Balochistan, Pakhtunkhwa and Sindh.
Despite glaring evidence against the partition of 1947, Pakistanis love citing 1971 as an evidence in favor of this farce.
Separationist movements are instigated by ashrafia (sardars and waderas), who themselves never take part in the battles on ground. The impoverished sections of the society, that are overworked and underpaid by the same ashrafia, fuel these movements.
For example, a good friend of mine is a laborer and an ardent supporter of Sindhudesh. The reason he gives is that other provinces usurp Sindh's share while Sindhis die of hunger.
I asked him two questions: 1. Do you know about 18th amendment? No. 2. Are rich Sindhis leading a lavish lifestyle? Yes.
The 18th amendment, which was passed in 2010 during PPP's tenure, sought to strengthen the autonomy of the provinces by empowering them to exercise greater control over their resources, finances and administration. This means other provinces can no longer usurp Sindh's resources.
If rich Sindhis are leading a lavish lifestyle and only the poor die of hunger, than this is obviously not a Sindhi vs others problem but a rich vs poor one.
In Sindhudesh, the power structures will remain the same. The size of the pie will only increase for rich Sindhis, while poor Sindhis' lifestyle won't change much. Sindhudeshis will then start blaming Pakistan for their problems, very much like we blame India for our problems today.
Sindhudeshis won't be able to enjoy the perks of multi-ethnic states, like deploying Punjabi rangers to control the crime situation in Karachi every other decade. Demands for Solangidesh and Chandiodesh will start soon after, as they did in Bangladesh.
Separationists are like mosquitos and should be dealt as such. You may end up hitting and reddening yourself trying to swat these mosquitos, but it is still worth a shot. They blow up Chinese engineers in Karachi and normal people end up paying the price, but this collateral damage is unfortunately the cost of not installing a mosquito net or using a coil or repellant.
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2023.05.31 09:44 nagchampaagarbatti How to use different Incense Products from Satya Incense?

How to use different Incense Products from Satya Incense?
Incense sticks and other incense products are used extensively for different purposes. These aromatic products elevate the atmosphere with their pleasant fragrance and purify the air with their organic content. Incense products like dhoop sticks, agarbattis wax candles, essential oils, etc., find application at home, office, spas, aromatherapy sessions, and meditation spaces. It is prominent to opt for high-quality incense stick manufacturers like Satya Incense that offer safe products to get the ultimate benefits from your incense products. That said, if you are already a plan of Satya Incense products, this guide is just for you. Here is a complete guide to help you utilize different incense products available at Satya Incense.

Incense sticks

Also known as agarbattis, incense sticks from Satya Incense are available in different fragrances and categories. You can select from different incense stick categories like:
· Charcoal-free incense sticks
· Perfumed agarbatti
· Masala agarbatti
· Premium incense sticks
These incense sticks consist of 100 percent organic elements like resins, masala, and bamboo sticks, sourced organically. They are made using the ancient hand-rolling process and burn for a long time.

  • Using incense sticks
It is essential to burn the incense sticks in the right way to get 100 percent benefits. Using incense sticks is easy and simply involves lighting the tip and allowing it to burn for a minute. Blow off the flame once you see the ember on the tip. Place the stick in a stable burner away from children and in a well-ventilated area.

Dhoop cones, dhoop sticks, dhoop cups, dhoop stems, and wet dhoop

These dhoop-based products from Satya Incense find applications during pooja. They are also essential daily to purify the air in aromatherapy or spas. They contain resins, herbs, and ghee that act as purifying elements.

Dhoop Cups

  • Using dhoop cones and wet dhoop
Most dhoop cones, sticks, and loban dhoop cups are easy to burn. Light them with a match stick and blow off the flame after you see embers, just like while burning the incense sticks. For wet dhoop, one can simply knead the desired quantity in their hand, form a tip, and light it. Dhoop-based products from Satya Incense often come with an accompanying small incense burning plate, helping you protect the surfaces from damage. However, place these small plates in an incense burner to ensure the ash does not spread everywhere.

Backflow dhoop cones

It is another top product range from Satya Incense. These backflow dhoop cones generate smoke in the downward direction, creating an enchanting effect. These cones are also made of organic floral and herbal elements and can purify the environment at home or office.

  • Using backflow incense cones
The burning procedure for backflow dhoop cones is the same as other dhoop products, however, it is advisable to use backflow burners that create the ultimate waterfall effect with the incense smoke, offering a fragrant and visually appealing outlook.

Dhoop powder

Dhoop powder from Satya Incense is essential for rituals and poojas. It consists of resins, camphor, herbs, and burning wood powder. Using dhoop powder can help purify the air and keep away insects and mosquitos.


  • Using dhoop powder
To use dhoop powder, you will require a dhoop mold. Fill the mold with the dhoop powder and press it tightly. Place the mold on the burner and tap its top so the powder comes out from it. Light the tip of the powder-formed-cone, let it burn for a minute, and blow out the flame carefully.

Final thoughts

The above guide will help you use the Satya Incense products accurately and get the top benefits from the products. If you are searching for high-quality incense products and hand-rolled incense sticks, visit www.houseofnagchampa.com today!
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2023.05.31 06:59 houseware-mould Ultimate Guide for Selecting the Right Injection Mould

Introduction:
Injection moulding is a common manufacturing procedure in several industries, including the creation of plastic houseware Choosing the correct injection mould is critical for attaining high-quality, cost-effective, and efficient production. In this ultimate guide, we will go through the essential elements to consider when selecting an injection mould for your Houseware Mould Manufacturer needs.
Factors: Five Key Items to Consider Before Selecting a Mould
Efficient production is essential for meeting market demands and maximizing profitability. When selecting an injection mold, consider the speed at which it can produce houseware products. Look for molds that offer fast cycle times, as this will help increase productivity and reduce manufacturing costs. R.D. Mould & Industry understands the importance of speed and provides molds designed for optimal production efficiency.
Cost-effectiveness is a significant aspect of any manufacturing process. Evaluate the costs associated with the injection mold, including its initial purchase, maintenance, and long-term performance.
The complexity of your houseware products and the stage of production should align with the capabilities of the injection mold. Consider whether you require a single-cavity mold or a multi-cavity mold to meet your production goals.
Houseware items come in various shapes and sizes, requiring molds that can accommodate diverse geometric designs. It is essential to select a mould that can accurately reproduce the intricate details of your houseware products
Quantity:
The anticipated production volume of your houseware items is a crucial factor in mold selection. Determine whether you require low-volume production or high-volume production molds. R.D. Mould & Industry understands the importance of quantity and offers molds designed for both small-scale and large-scale houseware exporter. They can cater to your specific production requirements.
Your Mold Selection Process:
Conclusion:
Selecting the right injection mold is a critical step in the houseware manufacturing process. By considering factors such as speed, costs, stage compatibility, geometry capabilities, and quantity options, you can ensure efficient and cost-effective production. R.D. Mould & Industry, a trusted company specializing in houseware molds, offers a wide range of options to meet your specific requirements. With their expertise and commitment to quality, they can help you achieve exceptional results in plastic houseware production We also manufacture different types of Houseware Blow Mould like,Plastic Round Food Container Mould,Plastic Square Food Container Mould,Multipurpose Plastic Storage Container Mould,Plastic Sweet Box Mould,Plastic Ice Cream Box & Cup Mould,Plastic Khajoor Box Mould, etc.
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2023.05.31 06:54 houseware-mould How Big Of A Part Can You Injection Mould ?

Injection moulding is a versatile and widely used manufacturing process that enables the production of complex and intricate plastic parts. From small components to large-scale objects, injection molding offers numerous advantages in terms of efficiency, cost-effectiveness, and scalability. However, like any manufacturing process, there are limitations to the size of parts that can be effectively injection mould. In this article, we will explore the injection moulding process, its benefits, and the factors that determine the size limitations for injection moulding.
Injection moulding involves the creation of plastic parts by injecting molten material into a mold cavity. The process typically consists of the following step:
  1. Mould design: A mold is designed to create the desired shape of the plastic part. It comprises two halves, the cavity, and the core, which are precisely machined to form the desired shape and features.
  2. Material selection: Thermoplastic materials, such as polypropylene, polyethylene, or polystyrene, are commonly used in plastic injection mould due to their excellent flow properties and versatility. Material selection depends on factors like part requirements, desired properties, and cost considerations.
  3. Injection: The chosen plastic material is melted and injected into the mold cavity under high pressure. This ensures that the molten material completely fills the mould and takes the shape of the cavity and core.
  4. Cooling and solidification: After the injection, the mould is cooled to solidify the molten plastic. The cooling time depends on the part’s complexity, thickness, and the cooling system used.
  5. Ejection: Once the plastic has solidified, the mold is opened, and the part is ejected. Any excess material, called flash, is trimmed off.
While injection molding offers a great deal of flexibility, there are certain limitations to consider,particularly when it comes to the size of the parts that can be effectively manufactured. The primary factors that determine the size limitations include:
  1. Machine capacity: Injection molding machines are available in various sizes, ranging from small tabletop units to large industrial machines. The size of the part you can mold is limited by the maximum mold size and clamping force that the machine can accommodate. Larger parts may require specialized, larger-capacity machines.
  2. Mould design and complexity: The design of the mold can influence the size limitations for injection molding. Complex molds with intricate features may have size constraints due to factors such as mould release, cooling, and the ability to effectively fill the cavity.
  3. Material characteristics: Different materials have varying flow properties and shrinkage rates during cooling. Some materials may not be suitable for large parts due to challenges in maintaining dimensional accuracy and minimizing warpage or distortion.
  4. Manufacturing cost: Larger parts generally require more material, longer cooling times, and may necessitate the use of specialized equipment. These factors can contribute to increased manufacturing costs, which need to be considered during the design and planning stages.
Injection molding is a highly versatile manufacturing process that allows the production of a wide range of plastic parts. While there are limitations to the size of parts that can be effectively injection molded, proper consideration of factors such as machine capacity, mold design, material characteristics, and manufacturing costs can help overcome these limitations. For larger parts, it may be necessary to collaborate with experienced injection molding manufacturers like R D Mould & Industries, who have the expertise and resources to handle complex projects. By understanding the capabilities and limitations of injection molding, designers and Houseware Mould manufacturers Supplier & Exporter of Plastic Food Container Mould . We also manufacture different types of Houseware Blow Mould like,Plastic Round Food Container Mould,Plastic Square Food Container Mould,Multipurpose Plastic Storage Container Mould,Plastic Sweet Box Mould,Plastic Ice Cream Box & Cup Mould,Plastic Khajoor Box Mould, etc.
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2023.05.31 02:11 bloodstreamcity Transmission

Transmission
by Brian Martinez
Let me start my story by telling you something about me, the most important thing, in fact: I find things, and I fix them. That’s who I am. If you don’t know that, you don’t know me.
I’m a second-generation auto mechanic, born-and-bred. I’ve been repairing cars since before Ford Pintos were blowing up, when cars were made of steel and Route 66 wasn’t just something for the cartoons. These days I’m fortunate enough to own a shop downtown between two of those chain coffee places. It’s small, sure, but it has a reputation for saving cars so far-gone no one else will even touch ‘em. So if you live in the area, and you’ve ever been stuck with the sourest of lemons, or maybe your kid drove your minivan into the pool, we just might have crossed paths, you and I.
That reputation is what led to me getting a phone call from a guy I’d never met, saying he had something that might interest me. His name was Burt and he’d apparently just purchased a piece of property that sat unowned for the better part of twenty years. I knew of the area he was talking about. It’s out in the hills, where there isn’t much to look at. Most of the land there went to weed years ago; acres and acres of old woods and burnt-down barns just waiting for nobody in particular to see the value in them. And, well, it seems Burt was that nobody in particular.
I honestly didn’t know what Burt’s purchase had to do with me, and told him just that, figuring he must have had the wrong number. But the next words out of his mouth told me he knew exactly who he was talking to.
Apparently when old Burt started walking around his new property, digging around in the dirt, so to speak, he made an interesting discovery. So interesting, in fact, that it got me to grab my keys, hop in my truck, and drive up into the hills without so much as a pause to wash my hands.
Some things, you see, don’t wait for a man to look presentable.
As I drove up into the hills to meet Burt, I started to think about my father and the drives he used to take me on. He liked to get a feel for whichever car he was working on, and those drives, they always ended with a detour into the hills. ‘Nothing tests a vehicle like elevation,’ he used to say, and I have to admit, I still agree with that statement. All those long inclines, sharp turns and fast descents- not to mention the occasional slam on the brakes- really put a car through its paces.
Dad knew a thing or two about cars, even if he knew nothing about how to raise a family.
Other than maybe a slight fear of commitment, the main thing I got from my father was a passion for restoring old cars in my spare time. It’s a hobby of mine, and I do it in the garage at my house. I’m especially a sucker for rare cars, and the rarer the better. That little hobby of mine, more so than my day business, was why I ended up driving out to the middle of nowhere with dirty hands and a head full of ideas.
The road up was just as long and winding as I remembered. I almost missed the entrance for the property, a hidden driveway marked with little more than a broken mailbox and a rotting signpost. The private road got smaller and smaller by the minute until I swore the trees were going to swallow me whole and spit the bones back out.
When I finally reached what could pass for a clearing, a guy with a face like a junkyard dog was waiting for me next to the newest, cleanest Ford pick-up I’d seen outside of a dealership. He introduced himself to me as Eddie, an associate of old Burt. I told him I’d been expecting to meet Burt himself, but Eddie explained that Burt didn’t like to meet new people, and rarely came out in the cold weather. It was a bit raw, I had to admit, so I dropped the whole thing and let Eddie get down to the business at hand.
We left our cars behind and Eddie led me into the woods, where the walking was slow-going on account of the overgrowth of vines and dead branches. I’m not one to spook easily, but the more we walked the creepier those woods got, until I was fairly sure Eddie was going to use that French Mastiff face of his to tear my throat out. But just when I was thinking about turning back and saying screw it to the whole thing, I caught sight of what we’d come for.
The very first car I saw was a white, 1974 Pontiac Trans-Am. It was missing its door and tires, and it was buried under a layer of dead vines, but the body shape was unmistakable. Under the rust I could even see what was left of the telltale Firebird emblazoned across its hood in blue.
I couldn’t believe a car like that was just sitting out in the middle of the woods, waiting for anyone to come along and find it. As I got closer, though, I saw just how bad the condition of the car was. The insides were rotted out from rain and mold, and the floor was so eaten up by rust it was ready to fall out.
Before my brain could process the loss of such a beautiful machine, I caught sight of another car. This one was a Datsun 210 with a tree growing right through the hole where its trunk used to be. Wet leaves and newspaper filled the back seat, and the dashboard was an abandoned nest that crawled with leggy insects.
Old Burt hadn’t been pulling my leg: those woods were a graveyard for abandoned cars. From what I could tell, about three acres of woods were absolutely littered with the corpses of old autos. Some were in pieces, most were covered in dead leaves and rust and all the other things that happen when anything is left outside for years and years, but they were there. The sight of so many classic cars in one place, virtually unknown to anyone, both excited and saddened me.
For close to an hour I walked around random piles of tires and glass to stare at rusted-out Range Rovers and Jeeps with their headlights hanging out like popped eyeballs. Finally, like I’d woken up from a spell, I asked Eddie what Burt expected from me. And that’s when he told me the strangest, most interesting offer he could have told me in that moment.
He said if I could make every, single one of those cars disappear in three day’s time, at no cost to old Burt, I could keep them.
The words nearly knocked me off my feet. I’d have to call in every favor to every salvage yard and tow truck operator I knew, but it was possible. Still, nearly all of the cars I’d seen were beyond repair, even for a guy like me. At most I saw some parts that could be salvaged. Maybe a few of the newer, less damaged ones could be saved. I knew a few guys in my circle who might be interested, and I figured if I played my cards right I could make a few bucks out of the deal to boot- or at least land a good trade or two. Still, there weren’t any cars that I was interested in for myself.
Until, at the edge of the property, tucked away in a spot I’d nearly overlooked, I saw it. It was as if I’d been drawn there. Like I was meant to find it.
The car was familiar-looking, yet like nothing I’d ever seen. Cross a Chevelle Malibu Classic SE with the modern retro feel of the ‘97 Plymouth Prowler, add the large rear spoiler and flared wheel arches of a ‘99 Nissan Skyline GT-R, and you still won’t come close. It looked like something one of the big three manufacturers had made and yet I’d never seen or heard of its like ever before. It had no logos, no hood ornament, no identification of any kind. I practically ran around to the back of it to look for a name, a logo, something to identify it, tripping over hidden rocks and broken glass to do it.
But there was nothing. Nothing to betray the make and mark of the strange car in front of me. I even asked Eddie if he knew what it was. He only shrugged, clearly wanting to wrap up our little outdoor meeting. I half-heartedly agreed. It was later than I’d realized. Between the dwindling sun and the discovery I’d made, I’d started to get a chill I couldn’t shake. I had a bad tooth I’d been neglecting, and even that was starting to hurt from the cold.
So I agreed to Burt’s deal. I shook Eddie’s hand on it and got out of there, giving one last glance at the strange car in the woods on the way out.
The next day, after making more phone calls than a politician on election night, a swarm of flatbeds, wheel-lifts and salvage trucks descended on those woods. For two days they scooped out every piece of metal and glass in the place, while I oversaw the operation like a choir conductor from hell. I directed trucks this way and cutting crews that way. They snipped and cut and tore out every dead tree standing in the way so the truck crews could do the rest. I even got in there myself with the old chainsaw when it was needed.
It was an exhausting two days, but I managed to keep my word to Burt and clear every abandoned car off his property with about an hour to spare. Some of the cars went to the junkyard, others to various garages I’d made arrangements with.
I was dead on my feet by the time I got home. I was ready for a shower and a bed, in what order I wasn’t sure. And yet a crackle of energy went through me when I saw what had been dropped off in my garage.
My mystery car. Without the shadows of the woods hiding it, I could see it had been painted silver before the rust took over. It had been a fast sucker once, like a bullet to a werewolf’s chest. That had been a long time ago, and yet I sensed there was still some life in the old girl. I wanted so badly to start digging around under the hood, to see what I could find out, but my legs were ready to collapse and my eyes could barely focus. Intending to wake up early and hit the garage, I stumbled off to bed.
You know that feeling you get when you realize someone’s been talking to you for the past minute, thinking you’ve been listening, and you only just figured it out?
That’s the feeling I woke up to.
I sat straight up like a vampire rising from his coffin. My bedroom was still dark, which meant it was the middle of the night. In my half-sleep I tried to make out the clock on my nightstand but couldn’t read the numbers, so I fumbled for my glasses and shoved them on. It was just past two in the morning: way too early, even for me. No way was I getting up, strange feeling or no.
I was about to take my glasses off and lay back down when I heard the reason I’d woken up.
Whispering.
A man was in my room, whispering in the dark. I lunged across my bed and turned on the lamp, nearly knocking it over. I didn’t have a weapon, but if I could see the intruder I could do something about it. I spun back, back to the whispering, to see who it was, to shout at them or jump on them, whatever I had to do to save my life from the psycho in my bedroom.
But the room was empty. Just me and a pounding heart.
I was so confused, I jumped out of bed and tore around the room, making sure no one was hiding, but I didn’t find anyone. I was alone.
Then I heard it again, and I knew: the whispers were coming from down the hall.
With bare feet I followed it, trying to make out what it was saying, but it was too low to understand. I grabbed a knife as I passed through the kitchen and held it in front of me with sweat beading on my face despite how cold I kept the house.
I followed the whispering to the garage. The overhead light flickered on, lighting up the strange car in my garage. In my half-sleep, half-terror I’d nearly forgotten about it. But there it was, like a bear hibernating in its cave, waiting for the end of winter. It felt alive somehow. Not dead, just asleep and dreaming.
And it was whispering.
I knew how crazy that sounded, how crazy that was, but I swallowed hard and approached the car, knife first. The blade shook in front of me. The whispering got louder the closer I got, and yet I still couldn’t understand the words it was saying. Was someone hiding inside the car? Had I inherited a homeless man when I’d had it towed to my house? If so I had to get him out of there. Get him help, sure, make sure he had a place to sleep, but he couldn’t stay in my garage, whispering through the night. No way.
With my free hand I yanked on the driver’s side door. It didn’t open. Rusted shut. I slowly walked around to the passenger side and yanked again. It opened.
The whispering was louder now, louder but not clearer, like an old television tuned between channels, like a frequency not being picked up, like a…
Like a radio.
The whispers were coming from the radio. I laughed under my breath, realizing how ridiculous I’d been. But then I remembered there was no way the radio could be working. The car wasn’t turned on. If it even had a battery under the hood, it was probably little more than a square pile of rust and battery acid.
I clutched the kitchen knife tight, and with the other hand I slowly reached out to turn the volume knob. I needed to know if the whispers were coming from the radio, and if they were, I needed to know what they were saying. My temple throbbed as the whispers grew louder and louder, louder and louder, louder and-
The moment my finger touched the knob, the whispers stopped.
I felt like I was going crazy. I looked around the inside of the car, noting the strong smell of mildew and animal with a tinge of rotten leather. Other than my own breath echoing back at me, it was silent.
No whispers. No nothing.
I went back to bed, but I barely slept.
The next day was the day I usually took off from the shop, which was a relief since I woke up almost as tired as when I’d gone to bed. As I ate my breakfast, the night before still sat fresh in my mind. But the more I went over it, the more I thought it had been a bad dream, brought on by exhaustion and an imagination run wild. I had to admit the mystery car sitting in my garage had gotten my mind racing faster than a Formula 1.
I’m the kind of guy who likes a simple explanation, something I can touch and feel and, yes, fix, so I started to think that I could have picked up some kind of rogue radio transmission from a trucker, or even a passing plane. The police scanner I owned in my younger days had certainly picked up its share of random broadcasts, and when it comes to working on junkers I’ve learned to expect the unexpected.
After I’d eaten my breakfast and downed my coffee I got right to work on the car. I wanted to clear the air of whatever had happened, and I was dying to see what that baby had going on under the hood. The mystery of who the hell had made the thing was still heavy on me.
But the enigma only deepened the more I looked. Under all that rust and dirt and oil I couldn’t find one damn mark that told me who’d made the car. I almost wanted to say it was a custom build, but the work was too precise, the system too well-planned out to be an after-market job.
I worked on it all day, so wrapped up in it I forgot to eat lunch. I ate dinner like a raccoon digging through a dumpster. Then I worked on it some more.
I was just crawling into bed when I heard it again.
The whispering.
This time I ignored it, hoping it would go away on its own. But it didn’t stop. Not until I got up, walked across my house, went into the garage, and touched the radio. Then, it stopped.
I decided right then and there not to go to the shop the next day. There was just too much work to be done.
I’d been working on the car for four days straight before I got it started up. Four days of stripping and cleaning and rebuilding. Four nights of whispering. I was even starting to hear it during the day, but low, barely audible, like a television playing somewhere in the house.
After I got the engine started, the first thing I did was pull my code reader down from my tool wall and hook it up to the dashboard input. I’d been pleasantly surprised to find an input on the car, even though I was fairly certain it had been built after '96. To my shock the screen filled up with a bunch of random trouble codes I’d never seen before, then went blank. I tried to get it powered up again but apparently the connection had completely overloaded the device.
I’d had the reader for years and it had never given me a problem. I put it down and got back to the car, deciding to stick to the old-fashioned way and get a feel for what was wrong with it. Just like dad used to do.
With my foot on the gas I revved the engine good. It sounded better than I’d expected, like a beast waking up from deep sleep. But there was also something rattling around under the hood, something loose knocking around inside the carburetor or possibly even the manifold.
I tried a few options, opening up this and that, until I narrowed it down to something completely unexpected: the transmission.
With considerable force I managed to open up the transmission, and sure enough I found something inside. Something dark and red. I pulled it out and studied it under the light. It looked like a small rock covered in old transmission fluid. How it got in there I didn’t have a clue. But I decided to clean it off and get a better look at it, in case it pointed to a bigger problem. As I walked it to the slop sink, I noticed the whispering, usually a dull static during the day, had started to grow louder. I could almost make out individual words now. But I ignored it and ran the small rock under the faucet, watching the dark red fluid swirl down the drain.
That was when I discovered something I wasn’t prepared for. The thing in my hand wasn’t a rock- it was a tooth.
A human tooth.
The whispers had grown so loud I could barely hear myself think, barely feel the disgust rising in the pit of my stomach. With the whispers practically shouting in my ear I dropped the tooth and it bounced and clattered inside the sink, coming to a rest near the edge of the drain.
The whispers grew quiet again. A dull roar tickling at the back of my skull. I stared at it, the tooth in the sink, the impossible tooth from the impossible car. I had the urge to throw it out. To get it out of my house and never see it again. But I didn’t do that. I couldn’t tell you why not.
Maybe because that meant touching it again.
Maybe something else.
Feeling like I should give the car a rest, I worked on getting my code reader working again, otherwise I’d have to run to the store and buy a new one. I changed out the batteries and gave it a good, solid whack. A few seconds later I was happy to see the screen turn on. I thought I’d have to do a factory reset to use it again but I was surprised to find it worked perfectly fine. Not only that, the trouble codes it had read off the car were still stored in its memory.
There were pages and pages of codes like I’d never seen in my life, more than I think are even in the tool’s programming. In fact I couldn’t find a single one of them anywhere in the manual. I figured they were probably just random numbers, and yet there was something strange about them, like they had a pattern to them. I dusted off my old computer and typed in the problem codes, figuring if I could get a better look at them I might be able to figure out their meaning. If not, I could at least print them out and show them to somebody who could.
After twenty minutes I’d barely made a dent in typing up all the codes. I gave up on the idea that I could copy them all. I pushed away from my computer and stood up, rubbing my eyes from the strain. Between the glare of the old screen and the noise in my ears, my head was killing me. It all felt so pointless. So inconsequential.
Just before I shut the computer down, I happened to glance one last time at the screen. And when I did, I noticed something that made my skin go cold.
The codes. The pattern. The numbers and letters and spaces between them. They were starting to form a face. A human face, with two eyes and a screaming-
I shut the computer down as fast as I could, then unplugged it to be safe. Then I marched to the garage and disconnected the radio, practically ripping it out of the car.
The whispers stopped.
The house was quiet.
But not for long.
For three days I told myself to get rid of that car, tow it out of my garage and dump it somewhere no one could find it. Maybe even drench it in gasoline and light a match. For three days I ignored the whispers and the doorbell and the phone calls from my shop asking when I was coming back. For three days I buried my head under the hood and worked and worked and worked.
On the fourth day, when the whispers from the radio had grown louder than my own thoughts, louder but still unclear, without words I could understand, I lost it. I threw my wrench at the tool wall, knocking down chisels and socket wrenches and a dozen other tools clattering to the ground. I pounded on my ears, cursing them, willing them to go deaf and stop hearing the whispers.
But they didn’t stop hearing. And the whispers didn’t stop. So I decided. I decided that if I couldn’t stop hearing them, I at least needed to know what they were saying.
I went back to the slop sink. The tooth was still there, perched near the edge of the drain. I’d prayed for it to slip down and wash away on its own but there it was, round and sharp and real as ever. So I picked it up, and the whispers grew louder. Clearer. But still not clear enough to hear. Not enough to make out what the radio was saying. To understand what it wanted from me. It was like a broken antenna, only tuning in half the frequency.
The garage was a mess. I was a mess. Rancid grease stains everywhere. A hole in my tool wall where the wrench had struck it, the ground littered with hammers and screwdrivers and …
Pliers.
Before I could talk myself out of it, I grabbed the pliers from the ground, shoved it onto my mouth, got a good hold of my bad tooth, and ripped it out. It was easier than I expected, but it still hurt, and it bled a lot. But I didn’t hesitate. I pushed the tooth I’d found in the transmission into its place.
The moment I did, it was as if everything came into focus. As if the radio was inside my skull. No, as if my skull was the radio, and I was the antenna. I could hear the transmission clear as day now, a man’s voice inside my head.
Whispering to me.
Telling me where to find the rest of him.
I told you all of this, not because I expect you to believe me, but because I’m about to walk out my door and do something I might not come back from. And if that’s the case, if I don’t return today or any other day from this thing I need to do, I want people to know why.
Because I find things. I find things and fix them. If you don’t know that, you don’t know me.
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2023.05.30 21:05 Lanzen_Jars A job for a deathworlder [Chapter 117]

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Chapter 117 – I have nothing to hide
With a deep, long exhale that took every last bit of air out of his lungs, James hung up his call. Wordlessly and with his chest deflated, he simply remained standing there for a few seconds, feeling how his system gradually drained itself of oxygen while he tried his best to clear his thoughts and listen into himself. But all he felt was a chaos that he couldn’t calm. He had no idea if he was ready for this, and trusting the word of others had never in his life felt as hard as it did right now, not even the many times his life had literally depended on the word of others.
All he could do was reassure himself. He could do this. He would do this. And they all would get through this. He would make it happen. He had to.
Feeling the raging chaos-storm die down only ever so slightly at his own reassurances, he finally allowed himself to inhale again. He forced himself to not violently gasp for air as if he had just emerged from a deep dive. Instead, he very deliberately began to allow air to rush into his body through his nose, adamant to keep full control of the flow as he did so.
Once his lungs were full, he kept the air in for only a moment, before allowing it to rush back out of his mouth in a pursed-lipped exhale, while also opening his eyes again.
With steady and deliberate steps, he then began walking back to the rest of his group at an even and controlled pace. The projections of his team’s expression looked back at him with a strange sense of wonder and anticipation.
Nia and Moar on the other hand looked like they already sensed the severity of the situation, and a mounting dread seemed to take hold of them. Meanwhile Curi and Congloarch stood by with stony expressions, not giving a hint as to what was going on behind their faces.
That only left one.
Unlike all the others, Shida approached him as he returned to the group. After meeting back up outside of the conference room once the recess had been called, James had immediately separated from everyone again, and she had patiently waited for him to be done with his preparations. But now they could finally discuss what needed to be said.
“Are you feeling any better?” James asked her, knowing that he sadly would most likely have to force her to join them in the room once again once the proceedings would return to order. It was for everyone’s safety.
“Not really, but I think I can sit it out,” Shida confirmed for him, her expression stuck between assuring and sickened by the thought, which James couldn’t fault her for. With her ears twitching, likely to subtly remind him of her fine hearing, she then lifted a hand to gently put it on the side of his mask, where his cheek would usually be found. “So, it’s come down to it, huh?”
James nodded, while lifting his own hand to press it onto hers.
“Yes,” he replied with a sigh that reflected the weight he felt pushing down on him. “Not how I wanted things to go, but…I’m also glad that the secrecy will be over.”
Allowing his head to sink down, his mask pressed against Shida’s forehead.
“I honestly can’t tell if I’m overjoyed or devastated that you’re here with me for it,” he whispered as he closed his eyes for another moment.
“I wouldn’t want to be away from it,” Shida whispered back while her other hand also lifted to gently sink down onto the back of his head. “Not again.”
Letting out the mildest hint of a laugh, James embraced her. As he felt her body in his arms, a primal part of him wished that they could just remain like that. Just unload all of this weight and pressure in a hug until nothing bothered them anymore. Of course, that was not how anything worked, and so they soon let go.
Together, they joined back up with the rest of the group.
“Usually, I would offer anyone who doesn’t want to stick around the chance to get out now, but I’m afraid that would be way too dangerous to do,” James explained as he looked at everyone’s face individually. “For better or for worse, it’s safest if we all stick together now.”
Moar was the first to step forwards. Slowly, she approached him with her lumbering steps, one clawed hand lifted to her face while long fur hung off her thin arm, while the other half-extended towards James but stopped in mid air long before it reached him.
“James, what are you going to do?” she asked, her tone filled with all kinds of strongly held-back emotions. Light reflected twinklingly in her wet, dark eyes. James swallowed, but a feline hand clasping around his gave him courage.
“I’m going to come clean,” he said with a look up at the giant. “Everything that’s been said. Everything that’s been done. I’m putting it all on the table. I will let the galaxy be my witness that I made my choices and I am willing to stand for them, like I always was.”
He then wondered if he should prepare all of them for what was about to happen.
However, he decided against it.
“It’s better if I don’t tell you more right now,” he said with a creeping sadness gradually reaching for his words. “I don’t know how you’re going to react to it, but…whatever your reaction may be, it will be better if it is genuine inside of that chamber. You knew of nothing, and people will see that. I don’t want anyone to unjustly think you were involved.”
Although he didn’t say much, the concerning vagueness of his statement seemed to already give at least some of them ideas of what was going on, especially given the recent tensions back on Earth.
“James…you- you can’t be-“ Nia began, however James cut her off with a raised hand and slowly shook his head.
“Let’s keep it for the big reveal, alright?” he suggested, although his tone didn’t leave much room to argue.
Seemingly stricken by his words and looking for some reassurance that surely what she was thinking couldn’t be true, Nia glanced around to the faces of her other fellow humans for any sort of support. However, the projections of the faces of James’ entire team, including her own girlfriend, were just as glum and anticipating as that of her brother was.
They all knew. Of course, they did.
As James watched that realization sink in for his sister in real time, he suddenly noticed a huge shadow creeping in from his side. Turning his head, he looked up just in time to see a huge hand sink down to grasp around his shoulder, as Congloarch bowed his upper body in a show of respect.
“It is a rare sight to see a dancer stand firm,” the Lizartaur informed him with his deep, bellowing voice that came through barely parted rows of sharp teeth. “You carry yourself well, James. Keep that up, and the Galaxy will see it, too. I, for one, will stand with you.”
All of the giant’s four fiery eyes were focused down onto him.
James exhaled slowly, not knowing if he should be inspired or bemused by the strange encouragement.
“Thank you,” he ultimately said with genuine fondness in his voice. “For everything.” Hesitantly, he then turned to Curi. The cyborg still stood without any movement, their lightly glowing red eyes fixating on him with great attention.
“I think…” they began to say, noticing his eyes on them, however they then cut themselves off and shook their body slightly to rephrase it. “I believe in you. I believe that I cannot have misjudged you to such a degree that anything you did would make me no longer want to stand with you. Not after you stood with me when nobody else would. You said you wouldn’t rather have anyone else by your side. And I will be.”
While James appreciatively bowed his head to the cyborg, Moar then came forth once again, seemingly feeling like she needed to say something as well.
“I am not sure what you have in store for us this time, but I cannot imagine abandoning you to face it alone once again either,” she said, her gaze noticeably falling onto his cybernetic arm. “I cannot promise that it will not take me time, but I do not wish to let myself be blinded by my own ignorance again. Therefore, I will listen to your reason, and knowing you, I am sure I will see it as well.”
Exhaling slowly, James was already starting to think that he was feeling one too many emotions right before such a huge event. But, seeing as it couldn’t get much worse, he turned to his team.
“Anyone got anything to say? Now’s your chance,” he offered to them. The humans briefly exchanged some looks with each other. It didn’t really seem like they had much need to get anything out.
“If we’re going to have to fight our way out of here because of this, I’m going to be so mad,” Athena notified everyone with a sigh while patting the side of her belt with one hand while throwing her long ponytail back with the other.
“Remember to count your kills if it comes to that,” Koko chimed in with a tone that seemed to try to break up the tension. “Makes documentation so much easier if we don’t have to scrub through the footage.”
She tapped at the camera attached to her chest with a finger.
Giving the two a hesitant courtesy chuckle, James then turned to his sister once more. She still looked on in disbelief, seemingly overwhelmed by what was happening.
Momentarily letting go of Shida’s hand, James walked over to her, immediately pulling her into a tight hug.
“You don’t have to worry,” he assured her, doing his absolute best to confidently speak this truth into existence. By any metric, she had done nothing wrong. At the very least he would ensure everyone knew about that.
Nia held him for a moment, before shifting her head slightly.
“What about you?” she asked gently.
“I can handle myself,” James replied immediately. “And I’ll have no regrets.”
Apparently not quite knowing how to react to what he had said, Nia just squeezed him tighter.
“I love you,” was all she said in the end, and James could feel his heart drop at her words.
“I love you, too,” James replied seriously, and after a few more long seconds, they let go of each other again.
Clearing his throat, James looked around at everyone.
“We should probably get back inside early,” he suggested, feeling like keeping a good overwatch over the situation was a valuable strategy.
Although hesitant, everyone followed him as he led the way, and soon enough, they were back on their seats – after checking everything for possible tampering once again.
For now, the room was still relatively empty. One or two of the other representatives had already found themselves back as well, and many nervous glances were thrown James’ way after the earlier outburst.
However, as James settled into his seat to go over how exactly he wanted to say what he had to, he heard a weird sound of pitter-patter in front of him. Leaning forwards in confusion and looking down at the railing, his eyes then quickly caught the bright, signal-colored fur of a pixemerrier climbing up towards him. The nimble lemur forewent the need for the offered stairs and simply used the railing as more than enough purchase to make it up to the second level, small hands soon reaching over the sides to completely pull the pink and spotted body up.
Now sitting directly in front of James on almost eye-level, Losaraner looked at James with mildly glowing eyes.
“Can I help you?” James asked as he shifted his position slightly to look at the man head-on.
“Just, uhm….” the lemur started, but then heavily hesitated as he awkwardly shuffled his body around. Something seemed to make him majorly uncomfortable, although it didn’t appear to be for an all too serious reason.
Strangely feeling put the tiniest bit at ease at the display of sincere awkwardness, James let out a bemused breath.
“Whatever it is, it’s alright,” James therefore informed the glowing lemur and reassuringly raised a hand. “I’ve been called every name in the book and had to answer every question I can think of, you won’t insult me with whatever you have to say.”
With some honest relief apparently rushing over the pixemerrier’s face, Losaraner pushed himself up to all four of his feet again, balancing on top of the railing.
“Forgive the inconvenience, ambassador, but we would like to relocate your seat,” he informed James.
“Relocate my seat?” James asked with a head-tilt, his mind already running with possibilities how this could be to his detriment.
“Not just yours, that of your entire party,” Losaraner quickly clarified something that James had honestly already figured. “We believe it would lead to a more civil outcome.”
James quite earnestly scoffed at that. There would be nothing civil about what was going to happen. And although he wasn’t technically against gaining some distance from his most averse parties around here, he also felt like the sudden need to get him away from Uton had a foul aftertaste.
“Is that a compulsory ‘would like’ or a suggesting one?” he therefore inquired. He almost didn’t want to, given that Shida had difficulties being here already, and being further from her former father figure surely would help with that a bit. But still, he was going to trust his gut on this one.
“Oh, uhm…well, if you would like to remain in your seat I guess-“ Losaraner began, and James quickly nodded before he had even finished.
“I would,” he confirmed firmly. “But thank you very much for your consideration.”
If they were going to try and blow him up or whatever, they better be willing to take their scapegoat down with him. Maybe this was all a genuine offer in the end, but even then staying around here wasn’t going to have a negative impact.
“In that case, I’ll return to let my mother know,” Losaraner said with a nod and turned on the spot, seemingly to climb back down to the lower level.
“Hey Losaraner?” James stopped him briefly, causing the lemur to turn his head back.
“Ambassador?” he questioned James’ intervention, awaiting whatever he would have to say.
“You seem like a good guy,” James said, fixating the glowing primate through his visor in an attempt to spot any attempt at deception from the small creature. He couldn’t find any. “Keep an open mind, alright?”
Although apparently confused by James’ words, Losaraner nodded with a bit of enthusiasm.
“Of course, Sir,” he replied, before then climbing down the railing face-first to join back up with his conspecifics.
“Almost showtime,” James then mumbled to himself.
Shortly after, the room had once again filled up with the representatives of all eleven primate species the galaxy knew, as well as their extended company.
Though by now, it almost seemed like the invited representatives found themselves outnumbered by the vastly increased number of reporters, sound engineers, camera people and even news casters that had come together to report on the event. Their numbers must have had at the very least tripled since before the recess had begun, and that was a very conservative estimate.
Cameras and microphones were truly everywhere now, ensuring that not a single instant of this most possibly historic moment would be missed without being preserved for all to see.
Next to him, James could see Uton settling in. His face seemed to be plastered with the same anticipation that James felt. And for only a second, both primates glanced over at each other at the same moment, their gazes very briefly meeting in a moment that seemed to fill the air with an electric charge.
The tension was palpable, and it only looked for a release.
In the room’s center, Losaranarja was now climbing back onto her small podium. The glow if her fur and eyes had increased quite drastically since before the recess, and James wondered if that was caused by stress alone or if other factors also played a role.
“Welcome back everyone. Seeing as all invited representatives have returned to their places, I hereby reopen the council of primates,” she announced over the loudspeakers as her glowing eyes scanned over the room. “Before the recent recess, we had just born witness to a frankly tremendous confession of Captain Ferromore Uton. If nobody has anything absolutely urgently relevant to say before we continue, I would suggest that we waste no time before getting to the bottom of that unnerving revelation he wishes to share with us.”
Without wasting a second of time, James was already on his feet.
“Actually, I do believe I have something to say on the matter,” he announced loudly, pulling the attention of the room onto him at an instant, camera flashes almost immediately erupting into a storm of flashing lights. “In fact, since Representative Goloribal’s only worry about letting me take over the explanations earlier appeared to be that I may not be ‘fervent’ enough about it, I will like to pick him up on that earlier implied offer, with the promise that I will be sufficiently ‘fervid’ about everything I am going to divulge.”
“Am…bassador?” Losaranarja asked completely confused by this turn of events as she looked up at him, almost appearing shock-stunned at the revelation.
“Do I have the word?” James asked, still sticking to procedure vehemently.
The lemur seemed to hesitate. Clearly, she was already afraid of where this was going. However, she had offered the opportunity to speak to everyone who believed that they had something important enough to say. And therefore, she had little choice on the matter.
“Of course,” she said after pulling herself together visibly. “Please go ahead, Ambassador Aldwin.”
James nodded.
“Thank you,” he announced loudly. And although he felt his insides scream in cramping anxiety, he held on his firm tone and posture as he stood up straight. This was it. “First, please allow me to reiterate and reaffirm my earlier point. The attack on Dunnima was entirely unprovoked and was and remains unjustifiable.”
He needed to set that stage. That was his hill, and he was willing to die on it. Nothing they could bring against him would change those facts.
Filling his lungs with as much air as he could without it being painful, he then continued.
“Now to the matter at hand,” he addressed the room. “Captain Uton has been lying to you. However, not about the point that you may think,” he informed them, with the faces of everyone already falling into gloom at what exactly he may mean by that. “He was not the one who ordered the attack on Dunnima. Humanity has already known who ordered the attack for quite a while now, and we were in the process of drafting a proper case against him before we would publicly accuse him of anything. We do however have ample evidence to provide to prove the guilt of this individual, namely Acting-Councilman Ekorte Keun.”
There was an immediate eruption of more flashes as well as wild mumbles throughout the room. Everyone seemed to be whipped up into a mild frenzy at James’ words. And James wouldn’t give them time to ask many questions about it. They wouldn’t need to.
“Keun himself has confessed his crime to me personally shortly after it was committed,” he continued his retelling of the events of the past months without losing more than a moment to the muttering. “He did so, because he falsely believed himself to be in danger after his failed attempt at somebody’s life backfired against him. He also believed that I would be the only person able to prevent said danger from claiming him, which is why he came to me directly. Our conversation was recorded and is part of the case I mentioned earlier. Within it, you will hear that the Acting-Councilman believed that he had become the target of the ire of a Realized Artificial Sapient after his attempt at her life with his illegally ordered attack on Dunnima had failed to destroy her, and he believed that my influence on said artificial Sapient would be great enough to preserve his life, if he only confessed to his crimes in my favor.”
As if a switch had been flipped, the mumbling in the room came to an almost immediate halt. From one moment to the next, you could suddenly hear a pin drop, with even the news casters and reporters stopping their ongoing drivel as all eyes were entirely on James.
“He was mistaken in his assumption,” James said in no unclear terms. “In reality, the Artificial Sapient, as much as she may have wanted to, was never out for revenge against him. She knew that any aggressive action she would take would be nothing but fuel to the fire that already raged against her. And therefore, she remained just as passive as she had been throughout her entire existence, while the apparent attacks against her would-be killer were carried out by a so far unknown third party.”
Somehow, the room got even more quiet. By now, James could feel gazes burning into him not only from all around the front of him, but also from right behind his back, as he had now fully confirmed what many of them had been passively suspecting for a long time now.
Of course, Uton technically had plenty of opportunity to dispute James’ words and insist that he was the one to order the attack. However, in the end, did it really matter? Right now, nobody really cared who exactly ordered the attack. Something else was a lot heavier on their mind.
“Are you…saying…that there truly is a Realized Sapient on Dunnima?” Losaranarja asked hesitantly, as nobody else seemed to indicate that they wanted to ask this all-important question, causing her to take over that duty as the host.
“That is correct,” James confirmed without hesitation. “Her name is Avezillion, and as previously mentioned, she was the main target of this recent attack.”
It was like a timer slowly ticked down as the silence remained for just a bit longer.
Three.
Two.
One.
And like that, the loud discussing and mumbling and even shouting over each other broke out once more, along with a renewed vengeance of cameras.
“You are saying right now, there is a realized Sapient loose in the galaxy…And you knew?” Klanneifer was the first to break out of the homogeneous white noise to directly address James. “Are you insane?”
Keeping his calm, James brought his hands behind his back.
“I don’t believe I am,” he replied nonchalantly with a gaze at the four-armed primate. “Especially considering that Captain Uton and his known circle of influence most likely knew just as long as I did, without ever divulging that information either.”
He could hear shouts about how this was an outrage and how about something would have to be done immediately from all around him. It seemed like most of the present representatives were absolutely ready to try and mobilize the entire Communal military to deal with this at an instant, and it really made James wonder if this all had truly been the best course of action.
But right now, he had to believe. He could not allow himself to show weakness. Not here, not right now.
“Surely you know the dangers of these beings!” Commander Halljafier was the next to speak up. “Are you saying humanity just allowed all of this to happen under their nose?”
Again, with just humanity. It wasn’t like no one else had known.
“At my very own recommendation,” James replied without even really wasting a glance over at the grassurgap next to him, “The leadership of humanity has decided to allow Avezillion a chance to exist and prove herself. She has existed on Dunnima for many years without a single violent incident on her part. We believed this to be rather unprecedented of course, however the people of Dunnima believable assured us of the opposite.”
He turned his head to Shida, which quickly caused her to stand up, as she immediately took the hint. These words would be better if they did not come out of his mouth.
“Within our long-recorded history, Dunnima’s Realized have never been violent like the ones the rest of the Galaxy knows,” she explained just as self-assured as James did, although he could tell it took her considerable effort. Though, it seemed that fueling her words with a bit of spite did help with that. “Not including Avezillion herself, three Realized have emerged on Dunnima in the past, before we joined the greater Galactic Community. One of them, Kertaiyon, is hailed as a hero of the people to this very day. Not one of them has ever started a war against us or unjustly hurt people. It is true that not all of them were Saints, but that is nothing unusual on Dunnima. Therefore, when Avezillion emerged under the scrutinizing eye of the Community this time, we all agreed to hide her, as long as she would remain hidden herself. For many, many years, the Galactic Community remained none-the-wiser, as Avezillion peacefully lived in Dunnima’s networks without ever causing issues.”
She paused briefly to swallow as well as watch the unbelieving reaction of the people around her. It seemed that everyone was a bit too stunned to really fathom or at least fully react to what she was saying.
“However, the hiding wore away at her over time. She felt trapped, confined. Never being able to show yourself at all while limiting yourself to only a small portion of the Galaxy, it was a life unworthy living for her,” Shida kept on explaining. “Therefore, when James came to visit Dunnima, she made a gamble. She would either gain her freedom, or she would no longer have to live on under these conditions. With these thoughts in mind, she revealed herself to James, and by extension, humanity, finding peace only in that, if they decided to end her, humanity would surely do so without causing greater harm to the people of Dunnima. Something that she wasn’t convinced of with the rest of the Galaxy – for good reason, as it turns out.”
Thanking Shida with a nod, James signaled for her to sit back down, hoping that the stunned representatives would direct their possibly emerging ire at the person left standing instead of the one that had spoken.
“I made the call to trust those that had lived with her for years,” James added onto Shida’s words. “And humanity’s leadership made the call to trust me. And we have not found a single shred of evidence that Avezillion has ever caused harm to anyone or even intended to do so. Had she wanted to cause damage like so many of her conspecifics did, she would’ve been able to achieve a great deal of it.”
Hesitantly, the representative of the Missicapriej -lanky grey primates with one too many joints in each of their limbs- who had so far barely spoken during the entire conference, stood up.
“But…if you are admitting that there is an Artificial Sapient, and that it was the target of the attack, then…then the attack was entirely justified,” they stated, although they barely sounded confident in that statement.
“Indeed, it was,” Commander Halljafier quickly supported that claim, clearly thinking he knew the galactic military doctrine much better.
“That is not correct,” James denied. “An outer-orbital strike, especially on a civilian target, is never justified,” he said with strong emphasis. “It is one of the oldest rules that the community has established.”
“If it is to destroy a realized sapient, then all means are-“ the Commander tried to deny him, however he flinched back at James brought his mechanical hand down onto the railing before him once again, this time with purpose.
“The laws of war exist for a very good reason!” he boldly stated after waiting a moment to see if the Commander wanted to continue his sentence. “Ignoring them if we see fit, no matter what the reason may be, is a dangerous subject. And if you think that attempting the murder of an innocent person is already reason enough, then you have clearly not understood why these laws exist in the first place!”
“Innocent person?” the commander scoffed with vitriol in his voice. “That…that thing-“
However, once again he was interrupted. To James’ great surprise, however, it wasn’t by him.
“It may have slipped your mind since it has been so long since the last one emerged, Commander,” Captain Uton was the one to speak up, his deep voice cutting through the room like knife with its coldness. “But the personhood of Realized Sapients is not up to debate. And it has not been for more than a hundred years. That question has been answered by our ancestors ages ago, and we would do well not to try and question it today for our convenience.”
While the Commander sunk back into his seat after the shutdown from the superior he had believed to be on his side, James bit down on his lip. Although every word Uton had just said was true, he simply hated having to agree with him, even on such a basic and important topic.
He mostly hated it because it showed that there had to be some vague hint of integrity left somewhere deep down within that bastard of a person, and that almost made James despise him more, since he clearly knew what he was doing.
The Captain’s dark eyes then turned over onto him, as the large man continued, “However, I have to disagree with the Ambassador on the justification. Person or not, eradicating an artificial sapient is more than enough reason to forgo a simple law.” James bit back his anger, keeping his focus intact. Although next to him, he could hear the loud scraping noise of wood buckling under sharp claws, as Shida dug her natural weapons into the chair she was sitting on in order to remain seated and quiet.
“And yet Avezillion is still alive,” James replied challengingly to the man. “Meanwhile innocent civilians got injured. One of the leaders of Dunnima got heavily injured. Children got hurt. Children that would now be dead had the attack not been foiled by our warship. It is nothing short of a miracle none of them are dead. It was a terrorist attack, nothing else. The moment justice bends to such heinousness, it breaks. And, after all, forgive me for being a bit heavy-handed, but if the Community is willing to break its own laws and attack its own planets to hunt down one Realized, then who is the one that the people really need to fear? I, for one, put my trust in the one that hasn’t already proven that it would attack and use me without a second thought. After all, this isn’t the first time I hear of someone inconvenient being suddenly caught in an explo-”
James was cut off when Uton loudly spoke up, his loud organ easily overpowering James’ voice in a conversational tone.
“What happened to your promise of not making this about y-“ Uton began to say, however then his voice was in turn overpowered as well.
“Wait your god damned turn!” James shouted out authoritatively, momentarily overtaken by his anger in a brief outburst. “You do NOT get to talk over me!”
Quickly catching himself again, although he very much wanted to keep going in the same vein, James lowered his voice again, although the room was left noticeably shaken.
“This is a civil event that follows clear rules that we are both bound by,” he said with a serious gaze over at Uton. “And my promise died the moment you decided to drag it through the mud with your fictional tales about very real events that have influenced not only my life, but that of many people very close and important to me. So forgive me, Captain Ferromore Uton, if I am not going to sit idly by and allow you to spew whatever nonsense you and your cohorts came up with in your ivory towers while the world underneath you burned. I was wrongly imprisoned, blackmailed, tortured, and maimed by you people. Shida was groomed and abused by you for years as you tried to make her fit your mold. There was an attempt on Curi’s life under Your. Very. Command. So forgive me, please, if the reasoning of ‘we really wanted them gone’ out of your mouth isn’t enough for me to believe that a crime against the Galaxy is justified, especially since you had knowledge of Avezillion’s existence for as long as I had, and could have divulged it at any point. But you didn’t want to divulge it. Because that would’ve meant that she would have a chance to defend herself, either physically or before the law. You simply wanted her gone. Wanted her to disappear like so many before her did. But not anymore. No, no, not anymore. Here and now, I promise you that, as long as humanity is around, nobody under your Command is going to just disappear anymore. Not. A. One. We will watch. And we will see. And, starting with Curi and Avezillion, we will be a place for them to go when no one else will stand with them.”
Seemingly stirring in anger now, James could see Uton clench his jaw, his lips quivering as he held himself back.
“I never abused her,” Uton muttered, apparently completely focused on that part as James had seemingly struck a nerve with that.
“And that’s the only defense you could come up with,” James responded. Then, he reached up with his left hand, pulling his right sleeve back to reveal the mechanical arm underneath it to the room, while he held it up in front of his body. “You wanted her to fit your mold. And now she’s in a place where she’s actually loved. You wanted to change me. And now, I have this arm here, just because of you. And you wanted to change the Galaxy. Well,” James paused briefly to spread his arms in a wide gesture that was very clearly meant to mock the man. “Congratulations, you did,” he then announced to the entire room. “Without you, humanity would likely never even have considered helping a realized Sapient. Michael really did his job well with spreading fear and hate. But after enduring everything that you put me through? I was just open enough to listen when one told me that she feared you.”
Uton clenched his jaws tighter and his hands curled into fists. Seeing his puppet becoming useless, Goloribal sprang into action.
“As the revered order of the primates, it is our duty to lead by example!” he announced as he got up, although his presence was already far less impressive than it had been earlier. “For generations, we were renowned for our just and swift action. We cannot allow ourselves to falter in that now!”
“For generations, we primates have also been revered for our curiosity and for being the first to open up to anything new,” James responded to that, looking the man directly into his face. “Yeah, that’s right,” he then added as the representative blankly stared back at him. “I studied galactic history, too! I’m fucking unstoppable!”
He boisterously threw his arms up, making a real show out of it.
In all actuality, he was most likely far from gaining any victory right now. Sure, at the moment, the room was slightly shaken into silence, however he highly doubted that he had actually managed to truly convince many of the people present here.
However, as long as the cameras were on him, he would keep the show going. Maybe he wouldn’t convince the stuck-up people of the revered orders. However, somewhere out there, there would be people whose ears and hearts he would reach. Hopefully at least. And for them, he would put on this show. Put on this air of confidence that everything would turn out well.
Because only if he managed to make everyone believe that would they find the courage to shake out of their rut and go looking for a better tomorrow. If he believed everything would be well, then they would too.
“Those are big words from someone hiding their face,” a voice suddenly broke through the room. James wasn’t even sure who had said it. But he also didn’t care. Right now, it was just another stone to jump off of.
“What, you think I am wearing this to hide?” James announced loudly and gestured to his breathfilter while turning his head so the entire room could see the gesture.
“It’s uncomfortable as hell! And it gives me a serious disadvantage in any debates if people can’t read my face. These breathfilters are and have always been something we humans are wearing for everyone’s benefit but our own. They are designed because we are extremely cautious to keep nasty deathworld-germs from spreading, even if that is extremely unlikely. And additionally, it protects all the delicate people of the galaxy from having to look at our scary deathworld-faces. But, if you want-“
He didn’t even hesitate in reaching up and pressing the necessary buttons to release the seal of the filter. With a loud hiss, its grip on James’ head loosened, and he quickly pulled the mask-like device off his head, before briefly running his mechanical hand through his disheveled hair to bring it into a bit of form.
Breathing out deeply with an open mouth, James presented his teeth to the room with a confident smile, while his dark, sharp eyes scanned over the room, making direct contact with as many of those of his fellow primates as at all possible.
“I have nothing to hide,” James announced. “From the very start, I owned up to my mistakes and was willing to stand for them. I terrorized an entire station to protect myself. I shot someone’s leg off when he threatened my freedom. I killed one of my captors when I finally escaped from their hold. I have done many things that the Galaxy may judge me for. However, I truly and whole heartedly believe that helping Avezillion is not one of them. And I will stand for that just like I stand to my mistakes.”
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2023.05.30 15:19 Guilty_Chemistry9337 Hide Behind the Cypress Tree (Part 2)

They didn’t tell us the name of the next kid that disappeared. They didn’t tell us another kid had disappeared at all. We could all tell by the silence what had happened. It spoke volumes. I’m sure they talked about it in great detail amongst themselves. In PTA meetings and City Councils. My parents made sure to turn off the TV at 5 o’clock before the news came on, at least in my home. They’d turn it back on for the 11 o’clock news, when were were in bed and couldn’t hear the details.
The strange thing is, they never told us to just stop going outside. They told us to go in groups, sure, but they never decided, or as far as I could tell even though, to keep us all indoors. I guess that sort of freedom wasn’t something they were willing to give up. Instead, they did the neighborhood watch thing. For those few months, I remember my folks meeting more of our neighbors than in all the time previously, or since. Retirees would spend their days out in their front lawns, watching kids and everybody else coming and going. They’d even set up lawn furniture, with umbrellas, even all through the rains of spring. Cops stopped sitting in ambushes on the highways waiting for speeders and instead started patrolling the streets, chatting with us as we’d pass by. Weekends would see all the adults out in their yards, working on cars in the driveways, fixing the gutters, and so on. They had this weird way of looking at you as you’d ride by. Not hostile stares, but it was like they were cataloging your presence. Boy, eight years old, red raincoat silver bike, about 11:30 in the morning, heading south on Sorensen. Seemed fine.
The next time we saw it, it wasn’t in our neighborhood, and I was the one who saw it first. We were visiting Russ, a sort of 5th semi-friend from school. We rarely hung out, mostly owing to geography. His house wasn’t far as the crow flies, but it was up a steep hill. We spent a Saturday afternoon returning a cache of comic books we’d borrowed. The distance we covered was substantial, as we had decided to take lots of extra streets as switchbacks, rather than slowly push our bikes up the too-steep hills.
The descent was going to be the highlight of the trip, up until I saw the Hidebehind. We were on a curving road, a steep forested bluff on one side. The uphill slope was mostly ivy-covered raised foundations for the neighborhood’s houses. That side of the road was lined with parked cars, and the residents of the homes had to ascend steep staircases to get to their front doors.
I was ayt the back of the pack when I caught movement out of the corner of my eye. Movement, something brown squatting between two closely parked cars. My head snapped as I zoomed past, and despite not getting a good look, I knew it was that terrible thing. “It’s behind us!” I shouted and started pedaling hard. The others looked for themselves as I quickly rushed past them, but they soon joined my pace.
Ralph’s earlier idea of directly confronting the thing was set aside. We were moving too fast, and down too narrow a street to turn around. Then we saw it again it was to our left, off-road, between the trees. Suddenly it leaped from behind one tree trunk to the next and disappeared again. That hardly made sense, the base of the trees must have been thirty feet below the deck of the street we rode down. One of us, I think it was India, let out one of those strangled screams.
There it was again, back on the right, disappearing behind a mailbox as we approached. That couldn’t have been, it must have outpaced us and crossed in front of us. Logic would suggest there was more than one, but somehow the four of us knew it was the same thing. More impossible still, the pole holding up the mailbox was too thin, maybe two inches in diameter, yet that thing had disappeared behind it, like a Warner Bros. cartoon character. It was just enough to catch a better glimpse of it though. All brown. A head seemingly too bulbous and large for its body. Its limbs were thin but far longer, like a gibbon’s. Only a gibbon had normal elbows and knees. This thing bent its joints all wrong like it wasn’t part of the natural order. We were all terrified to wit’s end.
“The trail!” Ralph shouted, and the other three of us knew exactly what he meant. The top of it was only just around the curve. It was a dirt footpath for pedestrians ascending and descending South Hill, cutting through the woods on our left. It was too steep for cars, and to be honest, too steep for bikes. We’d played on it before, challenging each other to see how high up they could go, then descend back down without using our brakes. A short paved cul-de-sac at the bottom was enough space to stop before running into a cross street.
Ralph had held the previous group record, having climbed three-quarters of the way before starting his mad drop. India’s best was just short of that, I had only dared about halfway up, Ben only a third. This time, with certain death on our heels, the trail seemed the only way out. Nothing could have outrun a kid on a bike flying down that hill.
We followed Ralph’s lead, swinging to the right gutter of the street, then hanging a fast wide left up onto the curb, over a patch of gravel, between two boulders set up as bollards, lest a car driver mistake the entrance for a driveway, and then, like a roller coaster cresting the first hill, the bottom fell out.
It was the most overwhelming sensation of motion I’ve ever had, before or since. I suppose the danger behind us was the big reason, and being absolutely certain that only our speed was keeping us alive. I remember thinking it was like the speeder bike scene from Return of the Jedi, also a recent movie from the time. Only this was real. I didn’t just see the trees flashing past it, I could hear the motion as well. Cold air attacked my eyes and long streamers of tears rushed over my cheeks and the drops flew past my ears, I didn’t dare blink. Each little stone my tires struck threatened to up-end me and end it all. Yet, and perhaps worse, half the time it felt like I wasn’t in contact with the ground at all. I was going so fast that those same small stones were sending me an inch or two into the air, and the arc of the flights so closely matched the slope that by the time I contacted the trail again, I was significantly further down the hill.
At the same time, I had never felt more relief, as the thing behind us had no way of catching us now. Somehow, maybe the seriousness of the escape gave us both the motive and the seriousness to keep ourselves under control. Looking back, I marvel that at least one of us didn’t lose control and end up splitting our skulls open.
We hit the pavement of the cul-de-sac below, and didn’t bother to slow down. We raced through the cross-street, one angry driver screeching to a halt and laying on his horn. This brought out the neighborhood watch. Just a few of them at first. Still, we didn’t slow down, our momentum carried us back up the much shallower slope of our neighborhood. Witnesses saw us depart at high speed, and this only brought out more of the watch. We heard whistles behind us, just like our P.E. teacher’s whistle. We figured that was the watch’s alarm siren. Regardless of what happened to that thing, it was behind us. We returned to our homes, shaken, but safe and sound, our inertia taking us almost all of the way there.
Another kid disappeared that Sunday, up on South Hill. We’d suspected it because we could see the lights of the police cars on a high road, surrounding the spot where it would turn out later, one of the kid’s shoes had been found. Russ confirmed it at school on Monday. It was a kid he’d known, lived down the road from his place, went to private school which is why we didn’t recognize his name.
I remember seeing Ralph’s face the next day when he arrived at school. He looked angry. Strong. Like he’d been crying really hard, and now it was over and he was resolved. He said he’d felt guilty because the thing we’d escaped from had gotten the other kid instead. He tried to tell his old man about it, then his mom, then any adult he could. He’d tell them about the monster who hides behind things. They needed to focus on finding and stopping that instead of looking for some sort of creeper or serial killer. Of course, nobody had listened to him. They hadn’t listened to the rest of us either when we’d tried to tell.
So he’d devised a plan. He was calling it the “Fight Patrol,” which we didn’t argue with. If the adults wouldn’t do something, we would. We’d patrol our neighborhood on our bikes, the four of us, maybe a couple more if we could talk others into it. We’d chase it off like that first time, maybe for good, or maybe corner it. Clearly, it could not handle being caught.
Naturally, we brought up the scare on South Hill. He argued that was a bad place. Too isolated, couldn’t turn around easily. We needed to stay on our home turf, lots of visibility, and plenty of the Neighborhood Watch within earshot. Maybe we and the adults working together was the key, even if the adults didn’t understand the problem.
Well, that convinced us. Our first patrol was that afternoon, after school. We watched everybody’s back like hawks. Nothing had a chance to sneak up on us. Nothing could step out from behind a bush without getting spotted. By Friday afternoon there were eight of us. The next week we split up to extend our territory to the next neighborhoods over.
Nothing happened. We never saw anything. Ben thought it was because we were scaring it away. Ralph just thought we were failing, and took it personally. I myself thought the thing had just moved to different parts of town, where the new disappearances were taking place. I told him we should keep it up until the thing was caught.
It was all for naught.
One day, India didn’t show up for school. I asked everybody, the teachers, the office staff, the custodian, my parents. All of them said they didn’t know, and it was so easy to tell that they were lying. That would mark the end of the Fight Patrol.
Ben didn’t show up a couple of days after that. When I got home and collapsed into bed, my mother came in to tell me that Ben’s mother had called. She’d taken him out of school and they were moving elsewhere. I called up Ralph to let him know the news, and he was relieved too.
My last day was Friday, and then I was taken out. Again, I called Ralph so he wouldn’t worry. I guess when there were only two weeks left of school, and it was just grade school, a couple missed weeks don’t amount to much. So I ended up spending the bulk of the summer out in the country, with my grandparents, which was why I brought up my grandpa in the first place.
I suppose I did fine out on their farmhouse. I was safe. There was certainly no shortage of things for a kid to do. I think my mom felt a strong sense of relief too. Things slipped through the cracks.
My grandparents didn’t have cable, too far out of town. They just had an old-school antenna and got a couple of TV stations transmitting out of Canada, Vancouver specifically. I remember one July day, sitting in their living room. My grandmother had just fixed lunch for me and my grandfather and had gone out to do some gardening as we watched the news at noon.
My grandfather was already being ravaged by his illnesses. He was able to get around, but couldn’t do any real labor anymore. He’d lounge in front of the TV in a special lounge chair. He hardly talked, and when he did he’d just mumble some discomfort or complaint to my grandma.
The lead story on the news was the current situation in Farmingham, despite being in the neighboring country, it was still big news in Vancouver, and the whole rest of the region. It seemed the disappearances were declining, but the police were still frantically searching for a supposed serial killer. I didn’t pick up much about what they were talking about, I was a kid after all, but my grandfather was watching intently, despite his infirmity.
He mumbled something, I didn’t catch. I asked him was he said, and as I approached I heard him say “fearsome critters.”
He turned his eyes to me and said again, distinct and in a normal tone of voice, “fearsome critters,” then returned his attention to the screen. “I don’t know why they call them that. Fearsome, sure. But ‘critters?” Makes it sound silly. Like it's some sort of fairy tale that it ain’t. Guess it’s like whistling past the graveyard. Well, they don’t have to worry about them no more, guess they can call them what they like.”
Then he turned to me. “Do you know what it is?” he asked. “Squonk? Hodag? Gouger? Hidebehind?”
“Hidebehind,” I whispered, and he turned back to the TV with a sneer. I had no idea what on earth he was talking about. Remember, this would be years before I learned he spent his youth as a lumberjack. And yet, somehow, I knew exactly what we were talking about.
“Hidebehind,” he repeated. “That will do it. They give them such stupid names. The folk back East, that is. Wisconsin. Minnesota. Ohio. Way back in the old days, before my grandfather would have been your age. Back when those places were covered by forests. They didn’t give them silly names back then, no. Back then they were something to worry about. Then they moved on, though. They all went out West, to here, followed the loggers. So as once they didn’t have to worry about them anymore, they started making up silly stories, silly names. “Fearsome critters,” they’d call them. Just tall tales to tell the greenhorns and scare them out of their britches. Then they’d make them even sillier, and tell the stories to little kids to spook them.”
“Not out here they didn’t tell no stories nor make up any names. It was bad enough they followed us out. I had no clue they even existed until I saw one for myself. Bout your age, I suppose. Maybe a little older. Nobody ever talks about them. Not even when they take apart a work crew, one by one. They just pull the crews back. Wait till mid-summer when the land is dry but not too dry. Then they move the crews in, a lot of them. Do some burning, make a lot of smoke. Drives them deeper into the woods, you know. Then you can cut the whole damn place down. But nobody asks why, nobody tells why. The people who know just take care of it.”
“I guess that’s why they’re coming to us now. All the old woods are almost gone. So they’ve got to. Like mountain lions. I supposed it’s going to happen sooner or later.”
We heard my grandma come into the back door to the utility room, and stomp the dirt off her boots. My grandfather turned to me one last time and said, “Whichever way you look at it, somebody’s just got to take care of it.” Then my grandmother came in from the utility room and asked us how our lunch had been.
Now that I look back at it, that might have been the last time my grandfather and I really had a meaningful talk.
We moved back home in late August. I had been having a fantastic summer. Though looking back, I suppose it could be rough for a still-young woman to be living in her aging parents' house when she’s got a perfectly good husband and house of her own in town.
First thing I did was visit Ralph. He’d been busy. He’d fortified his treehouse into a proper, well, tree fort. He’d nailed a lot of reinforcing plywood over everything. He hadn’t gone out on patrols by himself, of course, but the height of the tree fort afforded him a view of the nearest streets. He’d also made some makeshift weapons out of old baseball bats, a hockey stick, and a garden rake. The sharp rocks he’d attached to them with masking tape didn’t look very secure, but it’d only take one or two good blows with that kind of firepower. He also explained he’d been teaching himself kung fu, by copying all the movies he saw on kung fu movies late at night on the unpopular cable channels. That was classic Ralph.
As for the monster, it seemed to be going away. Its last victim had disappeared weeks previously, part of the reason my mom felt it was time to go back. This had been at night too. What’s more, the victim had been a college student, a very petite lady, barely five feet tall, under a hundred pounds. The news had speculated that their presumptive serial killer had assumed she was a child. I remember thinking the Hidebehind didn’t care. Maybe it just thought she couldn’t run fast enough to get away or put up a fight when he caught her. Like a predator.
At any rate, the college students were incensed. Of course, they’d been hyper-alert and concerned when it was just local kids going missing. Now that it was one of their own the camel’s back had broken. They really went hard on the protests, blaming the local police for not doing enough.
They started setting up their own patrols, and at night too. Marches with sometimes dozens of students at a time. They called it “Take Back the Night.” They’d walk the streets, making sure they’d be heard. Some cared drums or tambourines. They’d help escort people home, and sometimes they’d unintentionally stop random crimes they’d happen across. I felt like this was what the Fight Patrol could have been, if we’d just been old enough, or had been listened to. This would be the endgame for the Hidebehind, one way or another.
I stayed indoors the rest of the summer, and really there wasn’t much left. It doesn’t get too hot in the Pacific Northwest, nobody has air conditioners, or at least we didn’t back then. It will get stuffy though, in August, and I liked to sleep with my window open. I could hear the chants and challenges from the student patrols on their various routes. Sometimes I could hear them coming from far away, and every now and then they’d pass down my street. It felt like a wonderful security blanket.
I also liked the honeysuckle my mother had planted around the perimeter of the house. Late at night, if I was struggling to fall asleep, the air in my bedroom would start to circulate. Cold air would start pouring in over my windowsill, bringing the sweet scent of that creepervine with it, and I’d the sensation before finally passing out.
This one night, and I have no knowledge if I was awake, asleep, or drifting off, but the air in the room changed, and cooler air poured over the windowsill and swept over my bed, but it didn’t carry the sweet smell of honeysuckle. Regardless of my initial state, I was alert pretty quickly. It was a singularly unpleasant smell. A bit like death, which at that age I was mostly unfamiliar with, except a time some animal had died underneath the crawlspace of our house. There was more to it, though. The forest, the deep forest. I don’t know and still don’t know, what that meant. Most smells I associate with the forest are pleasant. Cedar, pine needles, thick loam of the forest floor, campfires, even the creosote and turpentine of those old timey-logging camps. This was none of those smells. Maybe… rotting granite, and the spores of slime molds. Mummified hemlocks and beds of needles compressed into something different than soil. It disturbed me.
So I sat up in bed. I hadn’t noticed before, but I’d been sweating, just lightly in the stuffy summer night heat. Now it was turning cold. Before me was my bedroom window. A lit rectangle in a pitch-dark room. To either side were my white, opened curtains, the one on the right, by the open half of the window, stirred just slightly in the barely perceptible breeze.
Most of the rectangle was the black form of the protective cypress tree. Only the slight conical nature of the tree distinguished it from a perfectly vertical column. To either side was a dim soft orange glow coming from the sodium lamps of the street passing by our house. It was perhaps a bit diffuse from the screen set in my window to keep out mosquitos. In the distance was the sound of an approaching troupe of the Take Back the Night patrol. They were neither drumming nor chanting, but still making plenty of noise. They were, perhaps, three or four blocks away, and heading my way.
For some reason that I didn’t understand, I got up, off of the foot of the bed. The window, being closer, appeared bigger. I took a silent step further. The patrol approached closer. Another step. I leaned to my right, just a bit, getting a slightly wider view to the left of the cypress tree. That was the direction the patrol was coming from.
That was when it resolved. The deeper black silhouette within the black silhouette of the cypress tree. A small lithe frame with a too-bulbous head. It too leaned, in its case, to the left, to see around the cypress tree as the patrol approached. They reached our block,on the other side of the street. A dozen rowdy college students, not trying to be quiet. None of them fearing the night. Each feeling safe and determined, and absorbed in their own night out rather than being overtly sensitive to their surroundings. They were distracted, unfocused If they had been peering into the shadows, if just one of them had looked towards my house, behind the cypress tree, they might have seen the Hidebehind, poking its face out and watching them transit past. But they didn’t notice.
It hid behind the cypress tree, and I hid behind it, hoping that the blackness of my bedroom would protect me. I stood absolutely still, as I had done once when a hornet had once landed on the back of my neck. Totally assure that if I made the slightest movement or made the slightest sound that I’d be stung. I hardly even breathed.
The patrol passed, from my perspective, behind the cypress tree and temporarily out of view. The Hidebehind straightened, ready to lean to the right and watch the patrol pass, only it didn’t lean. Even as I watched the patrol pass on to the right, it stood there, stock still, just as I was doing.
It was then I became aware that my room had become stuffy again. The scent was gone. The air had shifted and was now flowing out through the screen again, carrying my own scent with it. I knew what this meant, and yet I was too paralyzed to react. The thing started to turn, very slowly. It was a predator understanding that it might have become victim to its own game. It turned as if it was thinking the same thing I had been thinking, that the slightest movement might give it away.
It turned, and I saw its face. Like some kind of rotting desiccated, shriveling fruit, it was covered in wrinkles. Circles within concentric circles surrounded its two great eyes, eyes which took up so much of its face. I couldn’t, and still struggle, to think of words to describe it. Instead, I still think in terms of analogies. At the time I thought of the creature from the film E.T., only twisted and distorted into a thing of nightmares. Almost all eyelids, and a little drooping sucker mouth. Now that I’m more worldly, it reminds of creatures of ancient artworks. The key defining feature were the long horizontal slits it had for eyes. You see that in old masks carved in West Africa, or by the Inuit long ago. You see it in what’s called the “slit-eyed dogu” of ancient Japan.
As I watched the wrinkles on the face seemed to multiply. Then I realized this was the result of its eyes slowly widening. It’s mouth, too, slowly dilated, revealing innumerable small razor-sharp teeth. A person, standing in its location, shouldn’t have been able to see in. Light from the sodium streetlamps lit the window’s screen, obscuring the interior. It was no person. It could see me, and it was reacting to my presence. Its eyes grew huge, black.
My own eyes would have been just as wide if not for my own anatomical limitations. I was still watching when it disappeared. It didn’t see it move to the right. I didn’t see it move to the left, nor did I see it drop down out of view. It simply disappeared. One fraction of a second it was there, and then it decided to leave, and so it did. It was not a thing of this world.
There were no more disappearances after that poor woman from the university. I don’t think it had anything to do with me. The media and police all speculated their “serial killer” had gone into a “dormant phase”. There was no shortage of people who tried to take credit. Maybe they deserve it. The thing’s hunting had been on the decline. All the neighborhood watches and student patrols, I think that maybe all that commotion was making it too hard for the Hidebehind to go about its business. Maybe it had gone back to the woods.
Then again, maybe Ralph had been right the whole time. Maybe it really, really, really didn’t like to be seen.
So.
Now I’ve got some decisions to make. I think the first thing I should do is look at social media and dig up Ralph. It’s been a good thirty years since I last talked to him. He ought to know the Hidebehind is back. He’s probably made plans.
Then, there’s the issue of my son. He’s up in his bedroom now, probably still mad at me. Probably confused about why I’d be so strict. Maybe he’s inventing explanations as to why.
I’m not sure, but I’m leaning toward telling him everything. He deserves to know. It’d probably be safer if he knows. I think people have this instinct where, when they see or know something that they’re not supposed to know, they just bottle it up. I think that was the problem with grown-ups when I was a kid. It was the issue with my grandfather, telling me so little when it was almost too late. I think people do it because we’re social animals, and we’re afraid of being ostracized. Go along to get along.
Hell, my son is probably going to think I’m crazy. It might even make him more mad at me. And even more confused. He knows about the disappearances. “The Farmingham Fiend” the media would end up dubbing the serial killer that didn’t really exist. It’s become local “true crime” history. Kids tell rumors about it. It was almost forty years ago, so it probably feels safe to wonder about.
So yeah, I suppose when I say I know who the real killer was, a magical monster from the woods that stalks its prey by hiding behind objects, then impossibly disappears- that I’m going to look like a total nut. I’d think that if I were in his shoes.
Except… people are going to start disappearing again, it’s only a matter of time. The media will say that the Farmingham Fiend is back in the game. Will my son buy that? He’ll start thinking about what I told him, and how I predicted it. Then he’ll remember that he saw the thing himself, he and his friends, even if it was just out of the corner of his eye.
I hope, sooner or later, he’ll believe me. I could use his help. Maybe Ralph is way ahead of me, but I’m thinking we should get the Fight Patrol back together. Father and son, this time. Multigenerational, get the retirees involved too.
Old farts of my generation, for reasons I don’t understand, like to wax nostalgic over their own false sense of superiority. We rode our bikes without helmets and had distant if not irresponsible parents. Yeah, yeah, what a load. I think every new generation is better than the last, because every generation is a progression from the last, Kids these days? They’ve got cell phones, with cameras. And helmet cams. GoPros you can attach to bikes. Doorbell cameras.
It seems the Hidebehind loathes being seen. This time around, with my grandfather’s spirit, my own memories, and my boy’s energy? I think this time we’re finally going to beat it.
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