Four mile cove ecological preserve photos
Follow up and update: difficult conversation
2023.03.22 05:16 THROWRAlostagain231 Follow up and update: difficult conversation
Hi again friends,
Thank you to everyone who reached out in the comments or with a message after my first post, which is here if you read this and want to catch up: https://www.reddit.com/AsOneAfterInfidelity/comments/11rmv9u/difficult_conversation_with_betrayed_friend/
It has been a long and very busy week, and this is the first opportunity I've had to come back and engage with Reddit, but I've seen and appreciate all the support. I intend to respond to all of them in turn, but since my wife's affair is at the heart of the issues, and I was pretty vague about the details in my first post, I thought sharing more of our story might help. Beside, just being able to share here is extremely therapeutic. The supportive community and the anonymity allowed me to be more honest here than I've *ever* been able to be in person. So thank you all again.
My wife's affair never got sexual in person, but there were plans to. A few months before D-Day, I noticed my wife being more protective of her phone: angling away from me when using it, putting it away when I walked into the room, taking it to the bathtub or shower with her. I thought it was strange, but not a huge deal. No real suspicions at that point. There was one incident that really raised my eyebrow though. We've always had free use of each other's phone. If one of us ever said "hey, let me see your phone" we handed it over no question. One day, I wanted to look up a new restaurant that I wanted us to try, and my phone was charging, so I asked to see it. She asked why, and I told her, so she looked up the menu and showed me, but she never handed me her phone, just looked at it with me while she was holding it. Combined with the other behavior, I started to get suspicious. After sitting on my concerns for a few days, I brought it up, and asked her if there was something going on with someone else. She told me of course there wasn't, but one of her friends was going through something very personal and sensitive, and that she was trying to protect her friend's privacy. She assured me that she loved me and would never do anything to jeopardize us or our family.
It was understandable that she would want to be a good friend, so I dropped it, but that sinking feeling in my gut kept telling me that something wasn't right. The sketchy behavior stopped (well, I thought it did, but evidently I just made her aware enough to not be so obvious). There was another big incident that really convinced me that something was going on. I'll try to be tasteful here, but I think the details are significant. My apologies if any of the details are upsetting, and feel free to skip to the next paragraph if you aren't interested in the specifics. One afternoon, we were being intimate, and she grabbed her phone and wanted to record. This was unusual, as she's really reserved and has always been slightly uncomfortable with cameras, even out of the bedroom, so this was weird, but I though maybe she wanted to add some excitement. I asked her what the deal with the camera was. She kind of sheepishly answered that she wanted to watch herself. I was glad to see a more adventurous urge, so I went with it. She began to perform oral and recording herself with her selfie camera, and she's *really* into it. She normally only performed this act when I asked, but she volunteered this time, and was really enthusiastic, staring into the camera and and making sensual noises. When it was over, she made a big display for the camera to show that she'd...um, disposed, of the results, which was something that she never did, as well (I know, I'm sorry, but this video is pretty important to the fallout). So this whole thing, the camera, the enthusiasm, the other thing, were all way out of character, but I didn't want to make a big deal out of it. It was obviously an enjoyable experience for me, and I didn't want to shame her or make her feel bad for being adventurous. So I just carried on like normal, and kind of hoped that we might continue down that road together. But I've been with my wife since we were 20, and this was very out of character for her, and it just stoked that gut feeling I had that something was amiss.
On one occasion a few weeks after the video incident, I was able to get her phone and looked through her messages and camera roll, but I didn't see anything that shouldn't be there. Some time later, I remembered that we both use the feature on our phones that automatically backs up camera pictures to Google Photos. She had a user profile on my laptop, so I logged in, and used her saved credentials to access her Google account. Nothing unusual in her email, but my heart dropped when I opened her Photos. There were a lot, and I mean a lot, of nude photos and sexual videos backed up there, going back about four months. I'd never seen any of them, so they weren't taken for or sent to me. She'd deleted them from her phone, but not from her back up, I guess. I booted up the video camera on my phone, and scrolled the screen over what I found, in case she somehow remembered and deleted it before I confronted her about it
I sat on the info for a few days, trying to give her the benefit of the doubt and think of any reason that those would be there. This was before OF really took off, but I thought maybe she was posting sexy stuff online somewhere, but this would have been wildly out of character for her. Like I said, she's always been very private and reserved. I honestly couldn't conceive of any situation other than her being involved with someone else that would account for these. So, I again told her that something was off with her, and that I suspected that she was involved with someone else. I didn't tell her what I found, as I really hoped that she would have some explanation that would clear things up and make me look silly. She got a little indignant, telling me that we'd been through this already and that of course there wasn't anything going on. I asked her again if there was anything she wanted to get off her chest, and she again said no. I'd accessed her Google account again in anticipation of this conversation, so I showed her everything that I'd found, and told her that she needed to explain all the sexual content in her Google account.
She looked a little shocked, but composed herself quickly and said that I'd ruined a sexy anniversary gift that she was intending to give me. That since we both have to leave town from time to time, she wanted me to have some spicy content for when we're apart. I didn't buy it, I bluffed and told her that her Google account wasn't the only thing I had access to, and if she didn't tell me the truth immediately, I was leaving. She broke down crying, saying that it wasn't what it looked like, she was sorry, and that she didn't "do" anything, but was just being stupid.
I asked her who he was, and she said he was a colleague. They met at a regional function for work late in 2016 (about seven months before D-Day). He works in the same position as that she does at a different branch of the same company (it was in another major city in our state, about 200 miles away). They initially corresponded via email about work related stuff, then exchanged numbers. She swears that her intention was just to share professional advice and tips, since he'd been in that job for several years while she just got promoted to that position, and that initially, that was the nature of their correspondence. The texts slowly got more personal, with him eventually initiating flirting, which he reciprocated. He recommended that they move their conversation to an encrypted messaging app (my impression is that this slimeball made a habit of of pursuing married women). So they did. She deleted these initial exchanges (which is why I never found it) but the remainder of their exchange was still in the messaging app they used.
I told her that I wanted to see it. She fought and cried and tried to get me to not look at it, but I reminded her that I was prepared to pack a bag and leave if she wasn't full forthcoming, so she opened the app, handed it over, and curled up in a ball with her head between her knees.
The thread was disgusting. Very, very graphic sexual messages, picture, and videos. They both expressed excitement for an upcoming work event in the summer that would require a two night hotel stay, with graphic messages about what they intended to do to each other.
As I'm reading all this, my mind jumps to the video I described earlier, and I ask her if she sent it to him. She just started crying harder. So I scroll up the the thread until I find the video. They sent several messages back and forth about it, including him tell her how much he enjoyed pleasuring himself to it, and how hot she thought that was, and so on.
Man, that really hit me hard. I felt so unbelievably violated by her sharing this video. Not only did she share a very private, intimate video of me in a very vulnerable act (for context, I've never even taken a P-pic, much less sent one, sharing this with anybody would have been a big deal for me, much less someone she was involved with), but they also made me an unwilling participant in their sexual relationship. Maybe not really, but it certainly felt like it. Looking back, it also really hurt to think that I was just a proxy for her AP in the video, and all the adventurousness that I was excited to see was for *him*, not for me. So, I left, and told her I wanted to divorce, which is where my first post started out.
Some of you asked about the lack of connection that I feel with my wife even after being back together for several years. And I wonder if maybe that part of me that feel connection and intimacy was just broken by the affair. During our separation, sex just felt so empty. I remember laying in bed after one weekend, thinking that I *should* be feeling something. I was with a beautiful woman, sharing a vulnerable and beautiful moment, but I just didn't feel anything. The whole time, I just wanted the connection and intimacy that sex used to provide for my wife and I, but I just never did, which made me feel guilty and pretty bad about myself. I hoped that when my wife and I got back together, that I would finally feel that sense of satisfaction and connection again, but I didn't with her either. All the physical stuff is good...sex is pleasurable, but not satisfying. It still fells like I'm sleeping around with my wife, if that makes any sense.
Things have gotten a little better with my wife since I posted. We've talked a little bit. She's perceptive and smart, so she knew what was bothering me. I asked her, in particular, why she felt like she could judge my friends wife for doing the same thing that she did. She said that she didn't do the same thing. Mike's wife slept with someone else multiple times, and she never did. She's evidently convinced herself that she never had any intention of having sex with her AP. I reminded her about the exchanges, and she said something like "I f*cked up and got carried away, but I wasn't really going to do anything."
She doesn't get it...or maybe I don't. I don't know. On the one hand, I know our story could be much worse. On the other, it feels really bad, even now. But at least we're talking.
Some asked about therapy as well. We never resumed MC after that first meeting, though my wife continued IC throughout our separation. There is considerable baggage in my family regarding mental health treatment (my grandmother was treated very badly by mental health professionals in a much less compassionate time), so that has been a big obstacle for me in seeing anybody for myself. Not really sure how to get past that...
As for Mike, I'm giving him space like you all suggested. I texted him that I loved him, that I was sorry for what was happening to him, and that I was here if he needed me. He responded with a thumbs up. Poor guy, I wish I could help him.
Thanks again to you all for being a sounding board. I can't tell stuff like this to anyone in my life. Either they'll judge me, or judge my wife, and that doesn't help anybody. Advice and encouragement are appreciated again.
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2023.03.22 01:13 SK_Writes Headgames
HeadGames is the concept story behind my novel Eternal Convictions.
The sound of people talking was loud in the hallways as men went about their daily business. As background noise it was a confusing jumble that faded to a dull roar, but if one listened closely to individual voices, picking them out of the din, actual conversations could be heard. Deals were being made as men jockeyed for position while rumors spread and gossip was shared. People discussed hopes and dreams as they planned for a better future.
Michael opened his eyes and looked up at the heavy wire mesh of the walls around him. He was in a holding cell in the high security wing of the prison and the constant noise was a welcome change. His own cell was more like a closet where he was hidden away from the world and the only sounds were the constant blowing of the air vents and his own breathing. Occasionally, a guard would rap on his cell door with a night stick as he looked in to make sure Michael was still alive, but even this was rare.
The cell was six feet wide and eight feet long with walls made of solid concrete. The only openings were the steel door he received his meals through and the air vents in the ceiling. He was allowed to leave only if he had a visitor or for one hour of exercise each day in the exercise yard. Some yard, he thought. The exercise yard was actually a twenty by twenty atrium surrounded on all four sides by the walls of the prison. Overhead, steel mesh, not unlike that on the walls around him now, was laid across strong steel beams and welded in place to prevent any chance of escape. Highly unlikely in any event, considering the mesh ceiling was some eighteen feet above the paved ground.
His world had devolved into cold concrete and steel ever since that fine spring day he had gone to the bank. Thinking back, Michael remembered the four long days he had spent in the holding cell of the courthouse waiting for the jury to deliver a verdict. Each morning he was shackled, marched to the courthouse and placed in the holding cell where he waited for the verdict and each evening he was shackled and marched back to his cell at the city jail. His lawyer had been there most of the first day, expecting a quick decision but he was called away on business early in the afternoon.
After that, he would show up in the morning and talk with Michael a while before giving his cell phone number to the court clerk and leaving to do other business as they waited for the outcome. His lawyer was just about to leave on the fourth day when word came a verdict had been reached.
For a brief moment, Michael relived the joy he had felt when he knew there was a verdict. While he was terrified beyond belief that he would be convicted of the crimes he was accused of, he felt sure that God would not let him take the blame. His joy was short lived.
The jury found him guilty of all charges, sentencing him to multiple life sentences to run consecutively. It meant there was no hope for parole, ever, as he would be dead before having served a fraction of the sentence. The judge declared Michael to be a menace to society, incapable of rehabilitation and ordered him to be confined in a maximum security prison.
When it became clear that he would not be free any time soon, Michael authorized his attorney to liquidate what little remained of his assets and place the money in trust to be drawn upon as Michael needed it and to pay for continued attorney fees through the appeals process. Money was of little concern to him now, though. Other than personal toilet articles, he was not allowed to have anything else in his cell other than periodicals and books provided by the prison.
Two men began to scuffle in the hall outside the holding cell and Michael got up from the table to see what was happening. Leaning his forehead against the wire mesh, his vision was relatively unobstructed as he watched the men fight. The guard outside the cell, looked anxiously up the hall as he waited for others to come and separate the men as he was not supposed to leave his position by the gate.
He had never been interested in boxing, nor any other violent sports, but Michael found himself fascinated by the fight and rooting for the man he felt was the underdog. He noticed the thin white stripe on the men’s prison shirts and realized they were trustees, prisoners who are allowed extra privileges for good behavior. He laughed to himself as he realized they were putting their elevated status at risk with this fight, even as he silently cheered them on.
One of them kicked a mop bucket over at the other and Michael turned his face to avoid the spray of soapy water. Looking back at the fight, Michael was aware he was now wet and felt the water running down the mesh to his fingers where he was holding on. It traced small streams down his hands and arms to wet his shirt sleeves, but he didn‘t care.
A surge of electricity caused him to stiffen and Michael wondered what was happening as his vision turned white and he lost all control of his muscles. Even though his legs sagged and he could feel his face contorting, he could not let go of the wire.
“Hey buddy, you alright?” the guard asked him over the sound of the fight.
Michael heard him but could not answer.
“Aw hell. Somebody help me here!” the guard yelled. “I think this guy is getting electrocuted!”
Michael heard the words, but they made no sense as his vision faded to black except for a small pinpoint of white. The pinpoint grew larger and he began to see a face coming closer. The face was laughing cruelly and Michael could only stare in disbelief. Then the vision changed and it was as if he was looking at the bank robbery he had been convicted of from one of the security cameras. He could see himself talking to the girl and the man with the gun as the robbery started. It was as if he was reliving it from outside his own body and Michael wondered if he was dying as he had heard that one’s life flashes before their eyes as they die.
He heard the gate to the cell open and felt a hard shove as someone used something to push him away from the wall. Falling to the ground, his vision cleared immediately and he was confused, but felt fine otherwise. He got to his feet and moved to the chair by the table. The guard was talking to him, but he was thinking about what he had seen and didn’t register the voice.
“Hey buddy, just sit right there while I get a medic,” the guard said as he used his radio to call the infirmary. “They’ll be here in a few minutes.”
Michael heard a familiar voice and looked to see what was happening.
“What’s going on here?” Phillip Johnson asked, looking from Michael to the guard. “Michael, are you alright?”
“Yeah, I think so,” he said quietly.
The guard proceeded to tell Phillip what had happened, speculating that the water from the bucket must have hit the floor outlet and charged the mesh. They were quickly joined by a medic who checked Michael out thoroughly and pronounced him to be fine. It all seemed to happen very fast and Michael wondered what was going on. He was aware of the conversation between the guard and his lawyer, but it made no sense to him. He had lost all sense of time.
When the medic asked him questions, he was apparently giving the right answers but in thinking about it, he couldn’t remember what was said or even what it was about. Sitting there dazed, he watched the medic leave and the guard resume his post outside the door after closing it and locking them within. Then he realized Phillip was talking to him.
“So how have you been, Michael?” Phillip asked as he opened his brief case and took out a legal pad and pen.
Looking at the pad, Michael was reminded of their first meeting in the city jail.
“Not too bad, Phillip,” he said. “My concentration has improved since I don’t have any distractions in my cell.”
Phillip looked at him puzzled for a moment before he realized Michael was being mildly sarcastic. He couldn’t blame him. Being locked up like he was would drive anyone mad with boredom.
“I’m sorry, Michael.” Phillip looked him in the eye. “I wish there was more I could do for you.”
“Well, just get my conviction overturned and I’ll buy you dinner.” Michael smiled as he thought about being free.
“That’s why I’m here, Michael.” Phillip looked grim.
“You got my conviction overturned?” Michael asked.
“No, I’m sorry to say,” Phillip began. “The courts have over ruled your appeal and upheld your conviction.”
“Then let’s get busy filing a new appeal.”
“We have exhausted all of the appeals processes, Michael,” Phillip looked down at his bare notepad. “There is absolutely nothing more I can do except be here if you need me for something else.”
“You mean there are no more appeals, no chance of getting this damn wrongful conviction overturned?” Michael couldn’t believe what he was hearing. “Phillip, I have been patient throughout this whole ordeal. I’ve been good even when the injustice has driven me so crazy that I actually wanted to resort to violence and now you’re telling me that there is nothing that can be done?”
The guard turned to watch the conversation as he heard what was being said and the tone of Michael’s voice. He had seen inmates go off on their lawyers in the past and waited to see if he would need to intercede.
Michael was aware of the way he sounded and of the guard’s renewed attention. He took several deep breaths to try and calm himself. Phillip had done everything for him. It wasn’t his fault.
“I wish there was something I could do, Michael.”
“I know, Phillip,” Michael looked at him with tears in his eyes. “I have begun to think God hates me.”
Phillip almost wished Michael would turn violent. At least then he could leave here knowing he had tried to help and was rejected. It would be far easier to leave a man he cared nothing for to such a fate, but this was killing him inside. He had come to like Michael very much and understood him to be a kind and gentle soul. There was no doubt in his mind that he had not done the things he was convicted of, but he could do nothing. He felt helpless.
“God doesn’t hate you, Michael,” Phillip said quietly. “As you’ve told me all along, God has a purpose for you and we are not privy to what that purpose is.”
“You know, Phillip,” Michael wiped his face dry with his sleeve. “I always believed and I guess I still do, somewhere deep inside, that God has a plan for all of us and we are but part of some grand design. But for the last two years, as I’ve waited for the appeals process to bear me out, I have seen nothing that could be accomplished by my being taken from the world where I was helping people and placed in a cold concrete and steel box where I have no contact with anyone whatsoever for twenty three hours of each day. How could I serve even the smallest purpose here?”
He looked at Phillip for an answer neither of them had.
“I was always fond of saying that no one is worthless, as they could always serve as an example of what not to do but even that has no meaning here.”
“Michael, when we met, I was skeptical of your story but as I checked it out and found what you were telling me to be true, I learned to not take things only as I saw them.” Phillip put the notepad back in the briefcase. “I have never been a religious man, but watching you through this ordeal has given me hope. You have demonstrated such faith and patience as I never witnessed before and it shows me there is a higher power at work in our lives.”
“Will I see you again, Phillip?” Michael asked. “If I have no reason for legal counsel, will you still visit?”
For the first time in his life, Phillip found he did actually want to return to visit with one of his clients even if his legal services were not needed. Money was not the concern here. He had found something in Michael that had been missing in his life and he felt that, even though he had failed to free an innocent man, he had made a true friend.
“Yes, Michael.” Phillip swallowed hard. “You have given me hope and perhaps even faith. I can’t say when or how often, but I will visit and I will answer any letters you send.”
“Thank you, Phillip.” Michael reached out and squeezed his hand. “For everything.”
There was no need for good bye. Both men had reached an understanding of what they needed from each other and the moment left them filled with emotion that threatened to overwhelm them. Phillip grabbed his briefcase and turned to leave as the guard opened the gate for him.
Michael sat for a few minutes looking at the area around him as he waited for the guard to take him to his cell. It was standard procedure for visitors to clear the holding area so the gates could be secured before prisoners were allowed to move about. There was nothing new to see, but still he studied every detail of his surroundings Once he was back in the cell, there would be nothing to look at or distract him from the endless hours of nothing. He had already read the book he was given so many times he had committed it to memory and there was no telling when he would receive a new one.
“All right, Chaste. Let’s go.” The guard held out his hand to take Michael by the elbow and lead him down the hall.
Michael resigned himself to his fate and trudged along silently until they came to the entrance of his wing and walked on past.
“Where are we going?” he asked, looking around.
“You’ve been transferred to a new wing,” the guard said and continued to lead him.
They seemed to walk forever before coming to a gate where he was halted as the guard on the other side opened it. The guard who was leading him guided Michael through but did not follow. Instead, he pulled the gate shut and locked it as the new guard led him down this new corridor. It had no openings on either side but he could see a small point of light at the very end. As they drew closer, Michael could see that the door actually led outside the building and he wondered just how far he was being transferred.
His senses were assaulted as he stepped outside into the sunlight. For two years he had seen only the sky above the exercise yard and no hint of sun as the large structure of the prison kept the yard in shadows all the time. Now he smelled a wide variety of plants and marveled at how the sun felt on his face. It was like being born anew and Michael let himself revel in it.
He was guided onto an electric cart and driven across the compound. He no longer cared where they were going as he was busy looking at the world. In the distance, he could see the mountains with their snow covered peaks, but he did not let himself sink into despair with thoughts of never being able to go to them. Instead, he studied them and everything else he could see to form images in his mind. Once he was led back indoors, there was no telling when he would set foot outdoors again, if ever.
The cart came to a stop outside the steel door of another building and Michael was led from the cart. For the first time since he had been first arrested, Michael resisted the guard and stopped walking halfway from the cart to the door.
“Let’s go, Chaste,” the guard said menacingly.
“Just a second, buddy.” Michael thought quickly. “Do you think maybe I could have a quick smoke before we go in? I haven’t had one in over two years.”
Michael didn’t smoke, hadn’t for years, but he had seen the cigarettes in the guard’s pocket and knew it would give him ten more precious minutes outside.
“Yeah, sure. Why not.” The guard offered him a cigarette and raised the pack to show a guard in a nearby tower. “I was about to go on break anyway. Now don’t try anything, Chaste. There are guards on the towers around us and this is a shoot to kill zone.”
“I won’t,” Michael said calmly.
He had no intention of trying to escape and, in fact, the thought had never crossed his mind. He sucked at the cigarette as the guard lit it for him and found himself in a violent coughing fit as the acrid smoke seared his throat and lungs. He wondered why people would do this to themselves and claim they even liked it.
“I guess it has been a while, huh.” The guard laughed. “Take it easy. It’ll come back to you.”
It seemed to take forever to get his breathing calmed down but once he did, Michael continued to smoke the cigarette. The taste was nasty, but he did enjoy the light buzz he was getting from the nicotine and decided that this must be what smokers liked about cigarettes. He let the sensation wash over his senses as he looked around, taking in the scenery.
The prison was a very large complex. The fences in the distance looked very small, but he remembered from his arrival that they were at least twenty feet tall and topped with razor wire. The main prison building he had just left was nearly half a mile away but still loomed very large, giving perspective to its size. To the east he could see the yellow fields of the plains stretching away toward Kansas and to the west were the mountains. He seemed to be located in a large bowl as the mountains curved around to encompass part of the north and south.
He took one last drag of the smoke and dropped it to the ground where he crushed it out. The guard had also finished and nodded toward the door. Silently they walked over to the steel door and waited for the guard on the other side to open it. As Michael entered, he noticed a sign beside the door which read “Medical Receiving” and wondered why he was being led through a delivery entrance.
Michael looked around at the holding cell he was placed in after arriving at the new prison building. It was small, about three feet by three feet with a barred door. It was like a broom closet in which a bench had been placed and there was no room to lie down or even stretch his legs unless he stood. He hoped he wouldn’t be in here for long.
Across the hall was a well lit room with medical supplies and an examination table. It was clearly some kind of clinic or infirmary and the open door was directly across from his cell. Occasionally, he would see a nurse enter through a door at the back of the room to do something out of his sight before leaving the way she came. His view was very restricted and he could only see about eight or ten feet to either side of the cell he occupied. He was aware that the air smelled of disinfectant and clean linens.
He recalled his old cell and the silence there. That had been loud compared to this place as there was not even the sound of air being moved mechanically. He could hear his breathing and, though he was calm, it sounded very loud. Listening carefully, he thought he could even hear his own heartbeat but dismissed this, realizing he must be hearing his own pulse in his ears.
Michael thought about his meeting with Phillip and the strange event which happened just before he arrived. The guard said he was electrocuted but, as a technician, Michael had been subjected to many electrical shocks over the years and this was nothing like that. There had been a current running through his body, but it was not electrical in the sense he knew. It was more like his blood was on fire and had grabbed hold of every muscle in his body. The vision of the bank robbery was confusing but, knowing he had been at the bank during the robbery and seen the videos during his trial, he decided he must have been reliving it.
The only logical explanation was that stress from waiting to hear about his appeal had triggered some type of seizure. He remembered how his vision had went all white and then faded to black before he saw the vision. The only thing he couldn’t explain was the man’s face he had seen as it looked like no one he had ever known or could recall seeing.
The sound of footsteps echoed down the hall and Michael looked to see who was coming. A small man in a white lab coat, who he presumed was a doctor, accompanied by the guard who led him here, stopped in front of his cell.
“Chaste.” The guard spoke evenly, but firm. “The doctor needs to examine you for long term incarceration in this facility. We’re going to go into that room across the hall. Normally I would have to handcuff you, but you’ve been cooperative so far. Can we keep it that way?”
Michael nodded and stood up. “Yeah, thanks.”
The guard opened the gate and allowed Michael to step out. He motioned with his arm to the room across the hall and Michael went where directed.
“Have a seat on that examining table,” the doctor said as he turned to retrieve a cart with medical instruments.
Michael sat on the table, feeling like he would slip off as the white paper covering it moved under him. He looked at the cart the doctor was pushing. There was a blood pressure machine, digital thermometer, a jar of tongue depressors, a box of latex examination gloves and several other items he recognized as general practitioners’ tools. The only thing that seemed out of place was the hypodermic syringe, but the needle was a very small gauge and he decided it must contain a flu shot or something similar.
“Please remove your shirt,” the doctor said as he put on his stethoscope.
Michael did as asked and handed the shirt to the guard who laid it on a chair for him.
For the next thirty minutes, he was poked and prodded and blood was drawn with a much larger syringe he had not noticed behind one of the machines on the cart. He wasn’t afraid of needles, but the large gauge had unsettled him. He watched as it was inserted and a vial was attached to collect his blood. The doctor pressed a gauze pad to the wound when he was finished and instructed Michael to keep it there with his other hand.
As they finished up, Michael heard footsteps in the hall and looked up to see a tall man in a suit enter the room. He was very self confident and moved around looking at things as if he owned them.
“We’re ready, sir,” the doctor said and stepped aside so the man’s view of Michael was unobscured.
“My name is Warden Dempsey, Mr. Chaste.” He looked Michael straight in the eye. “You are here because you were convicted of crimes against society so brutal that a judge deemed rehabilitation impossible and every appeals court which heard your case upheld the decision. There are no more appeals and no chance for you to ever leave this prison during the course of your natural life. Therefore you were transferred here, to me, to be entered into the Eternal Convictions program.”
Michael was already completely aware that he had no chance to ever leave prison, but the cold tone of the Warden drove the fact into him once again like slivers of glass. He knew that there was no escape from this nightmare and hoped at the very least to be treated civilly as he served his sentence. There was no use proclaiming his innocence any more. As the man had said, all appeals were exhausted. He felt as though the Warden’s words had sucked the life from him as the judge’s had when he pronounced his sentence.
“This facility is operated entirely autonomous from the main prison where you have been to this point. Here, there are no visitors, no computers, nor any other contact with the outside world. For all practical intents and purposes, you are deceased. Even the IRS will not contact you here so you may take joy in that fact.” The Warden smiled at his own joke. “What there is, though, is order. I run an orderly prison here with no problems. You have been cooperative thus far and I expect it shall remain so as I have no tolerance for any disobedience. Can I count on you for this, Mr. Chaste?”
Michael looked at the man for a moment and knew immediately that he despised him. Far beyond the fact that he, himself, was a convicted felon and expected to be treated poorly, this man was the type who thought himself above the rest of the world and carried himself as such. Michael respected his position, but not the man.
“Yes sir,” he said quietly.
“Very well,” the Warden continued. “In order to preserve order, we take certain precautionary medical measures to prevent aggression. The doctor is now going to give you an injection to facilitate this.”
Michael was aware the doctor had picked up the small syringe from the cart and was tapping air bubbles from it as he squirted some of the liquid into the air. He held it at the ready, waiting for the order to continue.
“Proceed doctor,” the Warden said and turned to leave. Reaching the door, he turned back as if having forgotten something. “This will be the last time we meet, Mr. Chaste. Please enjoy your stay with us.”
As quickly as he appeared, the Warden was gone and Michael was left to the doctor and guard. He looked from one to the other as if expecting an apology for the Warden’s intrusion, but neither man even changed their expression. It was time for the injection and he made himself relax as the doctor approached.
He felt the needle enter his upper arm and wondered just what he was receiving. The Warden had said it was to prevent aggression and Michael wondered if he was being injected with hormones to inhibit testosterone production or perhaps it was estrogen to enhance his inner calm. He really hoped it was neither as self gratification was one of the only releases he had in prison and he wasn’t particularly fond of the idea of growing breasts as the other guys might take an undesired liking to him.
He had no more than completed this thought and was about to ask what he was injected with when he realized he knew already. His vision blurred and a deep fog began to settle over his mind. Suddenly he was very tired and could feel his entire body relax. As he passed out, Michael realized he had been given a sedative.
Everything seemed to be moving slowly and he couldn’t understand why everything seemed out of place. Michael looked up from the bench where he was working to see his girlfriend coming toward him through the door. She was carrying something that looked like plans and he wondered why as she had never had anything to do with his work. In fact, he had not even seen her since before he began doing electronics work and wondered why she was here, but decided he didn’t care. He was happy to see her.
She laid the plans on his desk and told him to hurry up or they would be late picking up the kids. She seemed upset and he wondered why, while at the same time, he wondered what she was talking about as neither of them had children.
He followed her through the door and into a large area he could only describe as an inner courtyard with driveway passing through it. In the center was a large fountain made of very old white marble and water streamed down from the center in a heavy flow, cascading over terraced ledges to the catch basin which was overgrown with weeds.
Looking around, he realized the landscaping had been long neglected as grass protruded randomly in tall yellowing bunches at joints of the pavestone sidewalks and driveway. The area was surrounded by a red brick wall of some ten feet in height and this also was overgrown with vines and weeds. The mortar seemed to crumble in places and small bunches of plants sprouted from the cracks. In a far corner, a faded white gazebo stood in a shroud of plant life with its grey wood roof shingles covered in moss. Atop at the peak, a wind vane shaped like a rooster pointed it’s scaly green arrow at the gate where the driveway entered. Beyond the gate and along the outside of the brick walls, heavy forest shut out the sun.
“Come on or we’re going to be late,” she called to him. “Mother wants to rebuild this place and has decided to rip out all of the sheetrock in the east wing to make sure the structure is sound.”
He followed her across the courtyard and through a set of double doors, back into the house. He had no idea where they were going or even where they were, but felt the need to continue following.
“This room is going to be the new family room,” she said, walking around a large wooden structure in the middle of the room.
Michael looked down and saw that there was no floor here but rather bare earth with a rough sandy texture. The floor was uneven as well with the outer edges raised where they walked and dipping down in the center under the wood framework. None of this made sense and as he looked at the large structure in the middle of the room, it looked to him like the skeleton of a large boat which had been either built here or unearthed as the building was erected around it. As he walked around the end and saw her moving toward the back, her mother entered through a set of French doors to his left followed closely by several children.
He did not recognize the children and heard her say something about rebuilding the house since her husband had died. In his mind, he knew this wasn’t right as his girlfriend’s mother had passed long before her father and they had lived in a very small house. None of this made any sense, but he suddenly felt an urgent need to talk with his girlfriend, if she would ever stop walking away from him.
“I need for you to talk to me,” he said pleading.
“We have plenty of time to talk. You’re not supposed to be at the prison until Thursday.” She smiled and continued to walk around the framework away from him.
“That’s not right,” he said. “I’m going to be gone before you even realize and I don’t know if I will ever be able to see you again.”
Michael heard the words he was speaking, but had no idea what he meant or why he felt it so urgently. One part of his mind knew that he had parted ways with her years before, but another part said he needed her to stay with him now because he was about to face something terrible and she was the only one who had ever understood him.
“Don’t be silly.” She smiled coyly. “I’ll always be here.”
She walked around the back of the framework and he went back the other way to intercept her. Coming face to face he put his hands on her shoulders and looked deep in to her eyes. It was strange, but he could not see the love he knew should be there. Instead he felt she was mocking him.
“I don’t know how I’m going to get through this,” he pleaded. “I have done everything I could, but nothing seems to work.”
“It’s all being taken care of,” she reassured him.
“What’s being taken care of?” he tried to ask, but the words would not come.
Suddenly Michael’s neck was sore and he couldn’t speak. She started to walk away from him again and when he tried to follow, he found he couldn’t move. In fact, he couldn’t even turn his head to see where she was going, but had to follow her with his eyes until she was out of sight. He tried to call to her, but no words came and he wondered what was happening.
“There. That should do it,” he heard her say.
“Doctor, we have rising activity on the EEG. The patient is waking up”
Michael tried to look and see who the doctor was and who was talking to him, but still could not move his head. He was stuck looking out of an old multi-paned wooden window at the overgrown garden.
“I got it,” she said and then everything went black.
Part 2 https://www.reddit.com/DrCreepensVault/comments/11y08t7/headgames_part_2/
This story on YouTube narrated by myself https://youtu.be/kPnf7LDXhUM
My YouTube channel https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCwyAE1VdOplNBMyqEDeNOeA
Check out my author page on Facebook! https://www.facebook.com/Steven-Knies-325198035130
Find my books @ https://www.amazon.com/Steven-Knies/e/B00JHRUGP6
Eternal Convictions / HeadGames
Steven Knies (c) October 23, 2009
submitted by SK_Writes
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2023.03.21 17:07 MjolnirPants Jerry and the Apocalypse: Part 53
Part 52 Glenda Wilmington, Kinda Digging This Whole Cop Gig
"If you hear anything else, give me a call," Glenda said, handing the woman a business card with her cellphone number on it. The woman accepted it and then squinted skeptically at it.
"Cooperation with an investigation is the sort of thing that parole boards like to hear about," Glenda said in response to the woman's look. That seemed to do the trick. The woman slipped the card into her ample cleavage and met Glenda's eyes.
"I will call. I have no loyalty to that man." Her sing-song Norwegian accent, as well as her tall, thick frame and bright, yellow-blonde hair contrasted with the environment; a run-down housing project in the heart of Compton. But housing for convicted felons on parole was limited, and she'd had few choices in this area. Glenda wondered idly why the woman hadn't elected to return to Norway, where they tended to be a bit more sympathetic to ex-cons. The woman, Duke's one-time head channeler, didn't seem prepared to answer any more questions, however.
Glenda nodded and stepped back. The woman took a step outside, careful to keep the foot with the ankle monitor inside the door and took a look around before withdrawing back into the house. Glenda turned and walked down the steps off the creaky wooden porch and back to the rental car, where Jack dozed lightly in the passenger seat, his cowboy hat pulled low over his eyes. She climbed behind the wheel, trying not to wake him, and started the engine.
He woke anyways. Jack had always been a very light sleeper. He turned his head slightly towards her, not adjusting the hat at all.
"Anything?" he asked. Glenda shook her head. "Nobody's heard from him. I think it's safe to say he's not looking to connect with any of his old associates, at this point."
"Ayup," Jack agreed. Glenda pulled away, heading north, towards the 105 that would take them back to the airport. They were done here. As she drove, she couldn't help but note the scowling, suspicious faces that turned to watch them. She took in the low, chain-link fences that separated yards, the equally low concrete block walls that surrounded paved driveways. The odd mix of Spanish colonial and more traditional American architecture was like a sign. It told her that she could find a bag of the white lady, a bag of weed, or a bag of something more exotic here. She could find a gang, beefing with another gang, and maybe convince one side to pay her to make someone on the other side vanish.
It was almost nostalgic.
They passed a tan-painted Spanish colonial house with a faux wrought-iron fence, and she knew right away that a dealer lived there. The child's play set in the front had never been touched by anything more careless than the wind and rain. The SUV in the driveway might have belonged to a small family, except for the large speakers she could see through the rear window. The tint on the windows of both car and home added to the effect. The kicker, though, was the white-haired, middle-aged man stepping out the front door to squint suspiciously around before heading back up the street in the direction of the channeler's home, where Glenda had spotted him walking this way just a few minutes ago.
Without bothering to ask anyone, she could say with confidence that whoever lived there sold mainly cocaine, but he also had cheap weed for those who couldn't afford the prices at the dispensary. He'd have rocks too, but he probably wouldn't sell them to you if you knew where he lived. He'd sell them on the weekends, manning a street corner, alongside a thug from whatever gang he ran with or paid tribute to.
Everyone knew they were cops, of course. Years of living in rural Canada had faded Glenda's tan and affected her fashion choices. Once, she'd have moved through an area like this in gym shorts, sneakers and a faded old t-shirt with the sleeves cut off. Showing off enough muscle to make the usual idiots think twice about harassing her, but not showing off so much skin than people might take her for a street worker with a schtick. Today, she drove in blue jeans, hiking boots and a flannel shirt. Next to her, Jack wore the same, complimented with a denim jacket. Only a couple of cops would dress like that in this neighborhood.
Though that wasn't strictly true -Jack's jurisdiction ended many hundreds of miles north of here- it might as well be. They were private investigators, working on behalf of the federal government, who was footing the bill for Dylan's recapture. Whether or not they were technically considered law enforcement officers depended entirely upon their needs and some paperwork. So far, they hadn't needed any LEO powers.
As she turned onto the 105 and marginally sped up in the dense traffic of the highway, Jack's phone rang. He begrudgingly lifted the brim of his hat up, squinting in the bright daylight at his screen. Apparently satisfied with what he saw there, he hit the accept button and pressed the phone to his ear.
"S'Jack," he said, then he listened for a bit.
"Ayup," he said. He glanced out the window, then covered the tiny mic at the bottom of the phone. "Get off the highway," he said to Glenda. She nodded and put on her turn signal, eyes searching for a chance to get over. A minivan in the next lane, slightly ahead of them, promptly slowed down to pace them.
"Awwright," he drawled into the phone. "We'll check it out. 'Preciate the heads up. Take care, now."
He pulled the phone away from his ear and tapped the screen again before slipping it back into his pocket jacket.
"That was intel. Said that a bank account belonging to one Dylan Boucher just got emptied by a wire transfer to one Derek Garcia. Just a hair over ten grand. Transfer woulda taken place about a week ago, intel didn't pick up on it until it cleared."
"Garcia, that's the one that calls himself the 'Planewalker', right?"
"Ayup," Jack said. Glenda finally got tired of trying to get behind the minivan and sped up to cut him off, instead. Jack could see that it was being driven by a heavily tattooed white kid with dredlocks. He honked and flipped them off, but she ignored him. She'd had her turn signal on, and tried to get behind him, but he had slowed down and sped up to block her.
Out of pure spite, she tapped the brakes a few times.
Jack bounced forward against his seatbelt as she did and gave her a dirty look. She smiled sweetly at him. "What? That's how you drive around here. You used to live in Atlanta, you've got to know this by now."
"We didn't generally make an effort to piss people off in Atlanta," he grumbled. Glenda turned onto the ramp to get off on Crenshaw, heading south.
Glenda scoffed. "Now you're just lying. I've been to Atlanta. Worst drivers in the bottom half of the country by far."
"You sure about that?" Jack said, eyeing the rear-view mirror. Glenda glanced up to see the minivan still behind them, the driver jabbing his finger at them and ranting.
"Huh," she said. "Maybe this fucker's about to prove me wrong."
"Well, we need to get gas anyways, if we're driving all the way down to San Clemente," Jack said. "Might as well pull over at the first station we see and get it over with."
Glenda chuckled, mostly at what the angry man behind her was about to experience and kept her eyes peeled for a gas station.
The minivan never wavered, staying behind her through multiple lane changes, all the way down to Artesia Boulevard, where she finally found a Shell station. She pulled in and pulled up to a pump.
"You wanna have a white knight moment, or is today an 'equality of the sexes' day?" Glenda asked as the minivan pulled in behind them and stopped, blocking the entrance.
"Sheeeit," Jack drawled. "I mean, I guess I'll handle him if ya want..." He unbuckled his seatbelt and opened his door as the irate young metalhead stomped towards them. He made sure to be outside the car by the time the kid got within angry dick-measuring distance.
"What the fuck is your bitch's problem, asshole?!" the young man demanded. Jack didn't answer, he simply strode forward, within striking distance. Normally, Jack liked to deliver a good, bone-chilling threat, followed up by taking a more reasonable tone as he continued to stare through whomever was causing problems and imagine himself blowing their head off as he de-escalated the situation. It was a tactic that had served him well, many times. But today, Jack was tired.
He'd been hunting Dylan down for weeks now, and only just got their first promising lead as this little shit had gone out of his way to stop them from changing lanes for no discernible reason. So Jack simply slugged the kid right in the nose. He caught him off guard and sent the kid sprawling onto his ass. Before he could gather himself back up, Jack kicked him in the chest with the sole of his boot and drew his large revolver. He crouched down, boot still pinning the kid to the ground, and held the gun casually where the kid could see it.
"You know what a turn signal means?" he asked calmly. The kid's eyes went wide as he spotted the gun.
"Y-y-yeah," he stammered.
"Good. Ya had a little lapse of judgement there. Ya might wanna see to that." Jack stood, holstering his gun and walked back over to open the gas cover and insert the company credit card into the pump. He picked the mid-grade and inserted the fuel handle, locking the valve open before he turned back.
The kid was still sitting there, wiping blood from his mouth where his nose was bleeding. "They oughta have napkins inside," Jack told him mildly. "They're usually by the hot dogs."
Jack filled the tank while the kid picked himself up and went inside. A cop arrived a few minutes later, stopping in the entrance that the kid was blocking and turning his lights on. The cop stepped out and walked around the minivan and into the gas station.
Jack waited for the tank to fill, then replaced the nozzle and climbed back in the car.
"You wanna stick around?" Glenda asked. "Shoot the shit with the locals, make sure the kid gets the short end?"
"Naw," Jack said. "Read about the LA cops. Not exactly whom I'd like to consider comrades-in-arms, if you catch my meaning."
Glenda shrugged and they pulled out right as the kid and the cop both emerged back into the parking lot. Glenda thought the cop look pissed and the kid looked dejected.
They got on the 405 and drove it down to California 73, then took that south to Interstate 5, which brought them to San Clemente an hour later. Glenda got off the highway and turned into a neighborhood full of upscale, tightly-packed Spanish colonial homes. Unlike Compton, most of the yards weren't fenced, and those that were tended towards white picket fences. The lawns were universally well-cared for and nobody looked twice at them as they drove through the neighborhood and up to the address highlighted on the GPS.
It was a small, modest-looking home with a distinctly 70's asthetic. It didn't match most of the tile-roofed, square walled homes around it, but it hardly stood out, either. A BMW sat in the driveway, framed by a pair of shaped topiary trees. It looked like something off the cover of some homemaking magazine, Glenda thought.
They parked on the street and climbed out.
"The air is crackling with magic," Glenda said. "He's in there, doing something right now."
Jack walked up and pounded on the door. Glenda held up a hand, fingers splayed. Jack would understand what she meant. The magic was currently at a five, and she'd let him know if it diminished, and by approximately how much.
She kept her hand still for a while as nobody answered the door. Five minutes passed before Jack turned to her.
"Okay, this is your gig, now," he said. He walked back to the car, opening the trunk to reveal the bound, squirming and sweating Caliope there. He yanked her gag down and fed her from a water bottle.
"Been a long drive, ain't it?" he asked, conversationally. Caliope sucked greedily at the bottle, managing to drink every drop that didn't get splashed into the trunk.
"Fuck you," she muttered weakly. Jack smiled. "Looks to me like you're the one what's fucked, darlin'. Guess you shouldn'ta gone and fucked with your sister's collar like that. I mean, if you'd played by the rules, we'd have overlooked the whole issue of you not actually being any help whatsoever, and taken your good faith efforts as enough to fill your end. But ya had to go behind our backs, causing trouble. So now you're stuck in a trunk until we get back to the airport."
"Fuck you," she gasped again.
"'Scuse me," Jack said, reaching past her for an armored vest. He pulled it out and tugged it over his head, getting the flaps velcroed in place and adjusting it. When he was done, he pulled Caliope's gag back up.
"Awright, girl, you jes sit tight while we check this out. Won't be but a little bit, then we'll be heading to the airport."
She tried to say something, but the gag turned it into a muffled wail. Jack smiled as he closed the trunk and returned to the front door. Glenda stood there, watching him, fully kitted up with her armor and a carbine in her hands.
"Ready," Jack said. Glenda turned and, without preamble, kicked the door open with a thunderous blow. She rushed inside, rifle up and leading the way, Jack hot on her heels. Neither made it very far, though.
The living room had been converted into a ritual chamber. The walls were festooned with runes and the twisting lines that connected them. The floor had a large, ornate circle in the middle, runes etched into it and twisting, spiral designs encasing the whole thing. But that wasn't what gave them pause.
In the middle of the circle hovered a shimmering mirage, through which Glenda could see a city. It looked like something out of a sci-fi film, all rounded corners and smooth, off-white concrete. The windows in the buildings were mirrored, or else none of them had lights on inside, because they all reflected a sunrise coming from behind the view.
"What the hell's that?" Jack asked. Glenda carefully felt the magic around the apparition. "I think it's a portal."
"Okay, so where does it go, do ya think?"
"I haven't got a clue. I don't recognize that city."
"Kinda looks like Mos Eisley, a hundred years after they found oil or something," Glenda said.
"Think that's what Dylan was paying for? A trip to wherever that is?"
"Looks like," Glenda mused. "We're gonna need to call this in."
"Ayup. Let's clear the house, first."
They did just that. They found a den set up in one of the bedrooms, an obviously-lived-in kitchen and a master bedroom used for its intended purposes. In the last bedroom, they found an arsenal and storage space. It was full of survival and camping gear, weapons and ammo.
"Missing rifle," Jack said, peering at a gun rack.
"Yup," Glenda agreed. She opened an ammo tin. It was only half full.
"Somebody geared up here," she said.
Jack sighed. "Let's call it in, then. We'll hand over our little helper when the backup gets here."
It took two hours to get a team there, mostly because the LA regional office was all the way up in Burbank. But they eventually arrived. Two security officers took Caliope off their hands, to bring her back to prison. They brought another collar, to replace the modified wet blanket spell Glenda had been holding since the riot. It hadn't seemed like a lot of effort to hold the spell in place, but as soon as she finally let it go, she felt a wave of relief.
"Julie sent some extras along," the leader of the relief force told Glenda once Caliope had been seen to. She'd already spotted the two middle-eastern men in different uniforms than the rest. She thought she recognized the older one.
"We'll take all the help we can get. Any of you boys willing to go jaunting across reality with us?" The man chuckled. "No, thanks. Besides, we've got orders to secure this building and wait for the feds. Gonna see if there's anything illegal here, so we can nab this Garcia fellow as soon as he gets back."
Glenda nodded, then looked at the two middle-eastern men. She jerked her head in a 'come here' gesture and they stepped forward.
"Glenda, right?" the older one asked, holding out a hand.
"Yup," she said as she took it. He shook firmly, then let go. "I am Aqib, and this is my assistant, Mateen. We've been running around, helping out where we can for months now. It seems it is your turn to accept our assistance."
"Either of you got any magic?" Glenda asked. Mateen hefted his rifle and then tapped his body armor. "All of our gear is enchanted. We have rings, as well," he held up a hand bedecked with silver bands. "They will help us heal from injuries and allow us to see in the dark and other such useful things."
"Good, good," she said, then stopped. Aqib. That name rang a bell. She squinted at the middle-aged man.
"You were at the Wyrm facility when we took it," she said. "About six years ago." He nodded.
"I was with your friend when she fell. She saved my life," he said. Glenda nodded. "I remember that. I'm glad you're still here, then. Glad you're with us. I, uh..." She stopped speaking before she got choked up and cleared her throat.
"Are you two ready?" she asked.
"We have our gear," Aqib said, nodding at a pair of large backpacks leaning against one of the DCM branded trucks. "Camping gear, food and water for three days. Spare ammo, tools. We were told you had much more supplies yourself."
"Yup. I've got fresh food, enough for a couple of weeks for the four of us. Plus a couple months worth of dehydrated foods, MRE's and other food that'll keep for a while. I've got water and other shit to drink, camping gear, etcetera, etcetera. As long as you guys brought your own tents, we're golden."
"That is good," Aqib said.
"Do you have battery packs?" Mateen asked.
"Battery packs?" Glenda responded.
"Yes, for phones and other electronics. To keep them charged. I have a solar recharger, but it takes a long time, and it isn't always convenient to set it up."
Glenda shook her head. "Nope. Never been much for carrying a bunch of electronics around. Besides, I doubt our phones will work, where we're going."
Aqib grinned at his companion. "No video games until we're done, Mateen," he said. Mateen rolled his eyes. "Yeah, yeah."
"Mateen is still a child at heart, even though he has children of his own," Aqib explained as he stepped forward to get a good look at the portal, still hovering in the middle of the room.
"As long as he can fight," Glenda said. Jack approached, finished with the field paperwork. He had a backpack slung over one shoulder, and a rifle slung over the other. He still wore his armor.
"He fights like a cornered dog," Aqib said mildly. At Glenda's quirked eyebrow, he clarified. "He is very fierce."
"Good," Glenda said. She turned to Jack and gave him a quick kiss. "We ready?"
"Ayup," Jack confirmed. "All the paperwork's done, we're good to go."
Glenda pushed past Mateen and Aqib as they moved to pick up their packs. "I'll take them," she said. Mateen frowned, but Aqib simply nodded and stood back. She grabbed both packs and sent them to hammerspace, accepting Jack's pack and giving it the same treatment. Mateen shook his head slowly, but Aqib seemed unimpressed.
"Okay, let's boogie," Glenda said and strode through the portal before she could work up any doubts.
"None of 'em rotted," Jack said. "They're all mummified. All the plants are dead, but none of them are rotted, either." He stood in what seemed like a small park, a few trees growing in clusters at the four corners, and an open field of dead grass in the middle. Bodies lay strewn about, adults and children alike. Many lay draped over the benches, or slumped in a pile in front of them. One cluster of small bodies had a large, rubber-ish ball laying next to them, as if they'd died in the middle of some sort of game.
Glenda eyed the surroundings. They hadn't encountered a single living being in the hours they'd been moving through this city. "What do you think happened here?" she asked.
"I'll be honest, I ain't got a fucking clue, darlin'," Jack said. They stood in silence for a bit, reflecting on what they'd seen and wondering about it. An entire city, dead. No signs of decay, except for rusted metal. Glenda had seen large piles of rust that she took to be cars, based on the plastic and ceramic components still in them, along with the bodies. An entire city, dead. And yet the bodies remained. They'd held up better than the metal, for sure.
Mateen came around a corner at a jog and made a beeline for them. "Aqib has found something, a fresh body. Recently killed."
"Lead the way," Glenda told him. They followed him back around the corner, two blocks down and then around another corner, where they found Aqib standing over a bloody, headless corpse, resting against a building under a sign written in a language Glenda didn't recognize.
"Sheeit," Jack said as they drew up. "That's certainly out of place. Wonder where his head got to."
"Over here," Mateen said. He gestured to what looked like a bus stop with a trash can next to it. There, fetched up against the trash can was a severed head. A sparse trail of blood led from the body to it. Glenda walked over and crouched down, peering at the head.
"I think this is Garcia," she said. She pulled the photo she had of the man from hammerspace, checking it against the head.
"I think you're right," Jack said, peering over her shoulder. "And the chopped off head. That sounds like something Dylan would do."
"I think we're on the right track then," Glenda said. "But how do we know what direction he went?"
She straightened up as they all looked around. Nothing stood out to them.
A moment later, a terrifying roar sounded from off in the distance. They all turned towards it, weapons rising.
"I do not like that, but I think we know what direction to check now," Aqib said.
"'Fraid I gotta agree with ya," Jack said.
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2023.03.21 13:41 edgarvanburen Race Report: Shamrock Marathon (21min PR!)
- Name: Shamrock Marathon
- Date: March 19, 2023
- Distance: 26.2 miles
- Location: Virginia Beach, VA
- Time: 3:10:50
|Goal ||Description ||Completed? |
|A ||3:08 ||No |
|B ||3:10 ||No (Ugh) |
|C ||PR (3:32) ||Yes |
|Mile ||Time |
|1 ||7:17 |
|2 ||7:15 |
|3 ||7:13 |
|4 ||7:10 |
|5 ||7:13 |
|6 ||7:17 |
|7 ||7:08 |
|8 ||7:11 |
|9 ||7:15 |
|10 ||7:13 |
|11 ||7:15 |
|12 ||7:15 |
|13 ||7:08 |
|14 ||7:13 |
|15 ||7:14 |
|16 ||7:08 |
|17 ||7:15 |
|18 ||7:08 |
|19 ||7:11 |
|20 ||7:12 |
|21 ||6:58 |
|22 ||6:53 |
|23 ||7:08 |
|24 ||7:14 |
|25 ||7:47 |
|26 ||7:41 |
|27 ||6:37 (pace) |
In September 2021, I raced my first half marathon. Four days later my wife gave birth to our second child! I took a short break from running, then did some base building followed by Pfitz 12/70. It was my second time doing that plan but I suffered a stress fracture in my femoral shaft. My best guess is that I ramped up to 12/70 too quickly. This time last year, I had seen a sports medicine doctor and was waiting for an MRI. Doctor also said MRI showed a labral tear in my hip. Recovery took months: Rest, PT, Walk/running, followed by clearance to slowly build up my base again.
This time I followed Pfitz 18/55, starting in mid November. There were a couple times I had pain that reminded me of my injury, I think it was the labral tear flaring up. Continuing to do my PT exercises and being willing to skip a recovery run here and there seemed to keep serious reinjury at bay. Along the way I PR'd at the 5k, 8k, and 10k distances. Based on my PRs and MP runs I thought my goal of 3:10 was a good aggressive goal - achievable but far from guaranteed.
I first took up running in March 2020 as a pandemic hobby. On 3/23/20 I ran 2.34 miles at 11:14/mi (there were walk breaks) and stuck with it. So Shamrock basically fell on my 3rd "running anniversary". November of that first year I ran my first marathon
in 3:32. That was my only prior marathon.
My wife also ran the marathon, but got strep from our son about 2 weeks ago and was wrapping up antibiotics. She felt awful the night before and even threw up at 3am. She barely got any sleep. Her only previous marathon was way back in 2014.
My first marathon in November 2020 was unusual. Due to covid concerns, there was a course open for registrants to run over a 10 day span. When I ran it there were others out running the course but we all started on our own. So this was my first time doing a large start and it was my first time running with a pace group. Temperature was honestly ideal for a marathon in the low 40s.
The first 13 miles were easy and honestly everything through 20 miles was pretty uneventful. I remember looking down at my watch early on and feeling like my HR was alarmingly high. Looking back on Strava, my HR was indeed at 173 bpm for miles 3+4. But it settled down between 161-166 for miles 7-15. I really enjoyed running with a pace group. I can be an obsessive checking my watch but I was able to just trust in the pace of the group. We were a pretty big pack from the start, and even after we lost the half marathoners at mile 12 we were still probably 15-20 runners strong. I took a gu gel at roughly 1:00, 1:45, and 2:30. Alternated water and nuun at the aid stations.
Based on GPS watch we seemed right on pace, but according to the official race splits online we were just barely behind. 10K and halfway splits were 7:16 pace and 20mi split was at 7:15 overall. I would have preferred to be a little bit ahead
of goal pace, not a little bit behind. Which leads us to leaving the pace group….
My race strategy was to run with the 3:10 pace group through 20 miles and if I felt good, accelerate with the goal of pushing to my stretch goal 3:08. At mile 20 I heard the 2 pacers talking to each other and realize we were probably a titch behind pace. Hearing this plus feeling fine, I let myself accelerate. You will see that I ran miles 21 and 22 at 6:58 and 6:53. At the time this felt relatively comfortable but it is possible this was a mistake that cost me.
Mile 23 was a return of the only hill on this flat course. I tried to push even harder, to keep up my pace against the resistance, and felt my hamstring almost seize up on me. So I eased up a bit for a 7:08 mile.
Mile 24 I hit the boardwalk and OH MOTHER OF GOD that's a 20mph headwind bearing down on me. Oh no, oh fuck, I should have stayed with the pace group for wind coverage. What an idiot I am. Well maybe I will fall back into the pace group, swallow my pride, but still finish before 3:10. Run miles 24 and 25 at 7:14 and 7:45 into this brutal headwind.
Mile 26: Back onto Atlantic Ave and finally out of the headwind. BAM. My right hamstring totally seizes up on me and I can't run. Walking now. I did not think this would happen to me. Already feeling like I lost important time on the boardwalk. Someone on the sidewalk gave me a stern, supportive shout (something like “you are almost there, walk it out and run”) and I will always be grateful to whoever that was. After a couple strides walking it out, I get jogging again. Jogging jogging jogging BAM. Left hamstring seizes up now. Borderline panic mode. Man where the hell is the pace group? Walk it out, get jogging again.
Turn back onto the boardwalk southbound for the finish. Right hamstring cramps up again. Ugh. Stride stride stride, now running again. Run it in, finishing less than a minute slower than my goal.
I’m not going to lie, I expected my wife to veer off and finish with the half marathoners given she was running totally depleted from her illness. But she wasn’t at either of the spots we discussed meeting up, so I returned to the finish line stretch and watched for her. I did not have my phone on me to look online and check her splits. With a couple minutes to go before the 4 hour mark she appeared! I shouted encouraging words, high fived her, and snapped a couple photos. She finished in 3:54:09. I don’t know how she ran a whole marathon in that condition, I am so proud of her!
The good news: This was a 21 minute PR for me! Every mile split was well below my previous overall pace of 8:05/mi. I had an aggressive goal and was this
close to it! I ran a marathon, I don't have a stress fracture in my femur! These are all great things.
The bad: Obviously, not hitting my goal. I really wanted this for Chicago 2024 qualification. But, I think if I do another training cycle + marathon, I can still get it in time for 2024.
The ugly: I would love to figure out why I experienced the hamstring cramps and what I should work on. Was it my nutrition? Am I paying the consequences of neglecting weightlifting? Did I push too hard in miles 21+22?
About that pace group: The pacer I ran with, his final time was 3:30! I wonder what happened! I'm dying to know how the race went for the rest of the pack. So even if my decision to speed up alone at 20 didn't work out perfectly, I'm not sure staying back would have been the right decision either. Checking out Strava activities from the race, I think lots of people encountered similar issues with their goals after running in that headwind.
In retrospect, I wish that when I made my move I had asked around the pace group if anyone wanted to go with me. I bet I would have had at least 1 or 2 take me up on it. It may have helped to push through the brutal headwinds as a small team.
I will take a week off from running then follow Pfitz's suggested 5 week recovery plan.
I will hopefully race the Richmond marathon and I'm not sure what training plan I will follow. I would like to jump up from 55mpw to 70mpw, but suffering a stress fracture last time I tried 12/70 has me concerned. In the meantime, I will do some base building and probably run some 5-10k races.
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2023.03.21 13:23 plainenglish2 “Mr. Queen” (historical and cultural backgrounders for international viewers, with references to other K-dramas)
| || |https://preview.redd.it/c457fbhcu2pa1.jpg?width=450&format=pjpg&auto=webp&s=6a0dca102a3c06acfe92c85fac05b2feb05f86cd Index: submitted by plainenglish2 to KDRAMA [link] [comments]
Introduction; K-dramas are meant first (or primarily) for Korean viewers and only second for international viewers; A.
The historical figures who were fictionalized in this drama; the rivalry between the Andong Kim and Poonyang Jo clans and “sedo politics” (royal in-law politics); lawsuit filed by descendants of a historical figure against “The Princess’s Man”; connections of “Mr. Queen” to “Moonlight Drawn By Clouds” aka “Love in the Moonlight” and to “Kingdom” Season 2, Ep. 4; B.
Eps. 8 and 10: Persecution of Catholics during the Joseon Dynasty; the only K-drama I’ve seen that depicted the Catholic persecution in Joseon Korea is “Yi San, Wind in the Palace” (2007); C.
Ep. 8: Korean seesaw (“neolttwigi”); D.
Ep. 12: Surit-nal (Dano Festival); ceremonial robes and head gear of Joseon kings; E.
Ep. 14: Ice as a valuable commodity during the Joseon Dynasty; F.
Ep. 14: Donghak (religion, movement, peasant revolution); G.
Ep. 16: Difference between “Jo” and “Jong” in the posthumous (temple) names of the Joseon kings; the Joseon kings’ royal portraits and dramas such as “Painter of the Wind” and “Saimdang”; H.
Ep. 16: Secret Royal Investigators during the Joseon Dynasty; secret royal inpectors as depicted in “100 Days My Prince” and “Under The Queen's Umbrella”; I.
Miscellaneous notes: Ep. 11: the fight with fans as weapons; “jangot” or head covering for noblewomen during the Joseon Dynasty ; the beautiful bridge across the pond in Ep. 1 and other episodes
K-dramas are meant first (or primarily) for Korean viewers and only second for international viewers. Just like in other dramas, the historical, cultural, and political references in “Mr. Queen” are well known to the Korean viewers. On the other hand, we, the international viewers, must dig deep into Wikipedia and other sources (or post questions in forums like this) so that we can understand what’s going on.
For example, some people who have seen “Mr. Queen” said that they couldn’t stand the court politics or the infighting between the different factions because the drama didn’t provide any context. Well, the court politics and the infighting between the different factions happened between the Andong Kim and Poonyang Jo clans, which are well known to Korean viewers and thus, no context was necessary.
When “Saimdang” was first broadcast in 2017, I joined the on-air discussions of the drama in the Soompi Forums. In that forum, whenever I had questions about the drama, I had two go-to persons: for questions about Korean language, culture, and history, I asked “gerrytan8063”; whenever I had questions about Chinese characters used in the drama, I asked “liddi.” I haven’t joined the Soompi discussions after I found reddit, and so I don’t know if “gerrytan8063” and “liddi” are still active there.
Where can we turn to when we, as international viewers, have questions about Korean language, culture, and history as they relate to K-dramas?
There’s Quora, of course; “bodashiri” in Tumblr has a form in his website where he/she says, “Ask me anything.” Also, since 2012, the “Annals of the Joseon Dynasty” is being translated in English, with the project supposed to be finished in 2034. Certain portions of the English translation are available online, as you can read in “Globalization of Korean history” from the official Korean government history website.
Oh, maybe we can also use ChatGPT in learning about the historical, cultural, and language issues that we come across in K-dramas.
The very first K-drama that I watched in full was the 2014 blockbuster “My Love From The Star” starring Jun Ji-hyun and Kim Soo-hyun. In this drama, I first heard the term “Joseon Dynasty” and learned how the dynasty heavily influenced what Korea is today.
Before “My Love From The Star” however, I had seen one or two brief scenes from the 2003 blockbuster drama “A Jewel in the Palace” (aka “Dae Jang Geum”) starring Lee Young-ae. Sometime in 2005 or 2006, “A Jewel in the Palace” began sweeping the Philippines. Every night at around 6 o’clock, the streets would become empty, with people shouting to each other as they rush to their homes, “Jang Geum na!” (in English, “It’s Jang Geum time!”). Since that time, “A Jewel in the Palace” has been broadcast in the Philippines five times; that’s how popular it is among Filipinos.
I watched “A Jewel in the Palace” in its entirety only in 2015. Since then, I’ve seen each episode around four or five times already; whenever I feel depressed, I rewatch Ep. 6 where Jang Geum was exiled to the herb garden outside the palace
. Needless to say, Lee Young-ae is the love of my life. Next to Lee Young-ae, I love Han Hyo-joo (“Dong Yi”), Han Hye-jin (“Jumong”), Han Ga-in (“The Moon That Embraces The Sun”), Moon Chae-won (“The Princess’s Man”), Park Shin Hye (“The Royal Tailor”), Shin Se-kyung (“Six Flying Dragons”), Park Ha-sun (Queen In-hyun in “Dong Yi”), Nana (“Into The Ring”), and Go Ara (“The Joseon Magician”), in that order.
A. The historical figures who were fictionalized in this drama
; lawsuit filed by descendants of a historical figure against “The Princess’s Man” (Soompi); the rivalry between the Andong Kim and Poonyang Jo clans and “sedo politics” (royal in-law politics)
The main characters in “Mr. Queen” are So-yong (Queen Cheorin), played by Shin Hye-sun, and King Cheoljong, played by Kim Jung-hyun. Some of the secondary characters are Queen Sunwon (Grand Queen Dowager) of the Andong Kim clan and Queen Shinjeong (Queen Dowager) of the Poongyang Jo clan.
“Mr. Queen” is fictional, with the following genres: historical, comedy, time travel, and body swap. But its characters and background events are inspired by historical figures and events. For example, the lead character (King Cheoljong) and his background facts — growing up destitute on Ganghwa Island, puppet of the Andong Kim clan, relatives persecuted as Catholics, etc. — are all based on history. Also, the conflict between the Andong Kim clan and Poonyang Jo clan is historical.
King Cheoljong in “Mr. Queen” is a highly fictionalized character that’s different from the historical King Cheoljong. The drama portrays him to be secretly plotting to establish himself as a strong ruler against two warring political factions — the Andong Kim clan (led by Grand Dowager Queen Sunwon) and the Pungyang Jo clan (led by Dowager Queen Sinjeong)
A-1. Historical figures who were fictionalized in “Mr. Queen”:
(1) King Cheoljong
The 25th king of the Joseon Dynasty of Korea (25 July 1831 – 16 January 1864), he was a second cousin to the heirless Heonjong of Joseon, as well as a great-great grandson of Yeongjo of Joseon. He was chosen to become King by Senior Dowager Queen Sunwon (King Sunjo’s widow) and the powerful Andong Kim clan because he was illiterate and thus easy to manipulate.
Cheoljong ascended to the throne in 1849 at the age of 19 after King Heonjong died without an heir. As a distant relative of both the recently deceased king as well as a descendant of King Yeongjo, Cheoljong was selected for adoption by the Senior Dowager Queen Sunwon (King Sunjo’s widow) at the time and to allow him to ascend to the throne. The future Cheoljong was found on Ganghwa Island where his family had been in exile since the Catholic Persecution of 1801.
When the envoys (dispatched in order to seek for the future king) arrived on Ganghwa Island, they found the exiled remnants of the royal clan barely surviving in wretched poverty, and in the midst of that degradation, 19-year old Yi Won-beom was proclaimed King. Though from the start of the Joseon Dynasty Korean kings had given top priority to the education of their sons, Cheoljong could not even read a single word on the notice delivering congratulations to him on his elevation to the royal throne.
As part of the Andong Kim’s manipulation of Cheoljong, in 1851, the clan married Cheoljong to Kim Mun-geun’s daughter, known posthumously as Queen Cheor’in.
Cheoljong died at the age of 32 in 16 January 1864 (by suspected foul play by the Andong Kim clan, the same clan which made him king), without any surviving male heirs. Once again, it became necessary to search far back in the Yi lineage to find a candidate for the throne.
The only surviving [cropped] image of King Cheoljong (2) Queen Cheorin
: wife of King Cheoljong, also known as Queen Dowager Myeongsun (27 April 1837 – 12 June 1878).
Queen Cheorin belonged to the Andong Kim clan.
(3) Grand Dowager Queen: Queen Sunwon
(8 June 1789 – 21 September 1857), also known as Queen Dowager Myeonggyeong, was the spouse of Sunjo of Joseon. She served as regent of Korea from 1834–1841 and from 1849–1852.
(4) Queen Dowager: Queen Shinjeong
, also known as Queen Dowager Hyoyu, (21 January 1809 - 4 June 1890) was the only wife of Crown Prince Hyomyeong of Joseon and mother of King Heonjong of Joseon.
Queen Shinjeong belonged to the Poonyang Jo clan.
“Mr. Queen” was criticized for distorting history. Among the things that was criticized is the drama’s portrayal of the Queen Dowager (Queen Shinjeong in history) as being heavily involved in shamanism
From “Descendants of Sin Sook-joo sue The Princess’ Man” (Soompi): “According to the Seoul District Court, 108 descendants of old Sin claimed a damage suit of KRW 3 billion [2.2 million US dollars] against the broadcasting company and the writer for negatively distorting the image of their ancestor Sin Sook-joo from the Chosun era.”
This lawsuit was filed in 2011; I couldn’t find any information about what happened to this lawsuit.
A-3: Andong Kim clan, Poongyang Jo clan, and “sedo politics” (royal in-law politics)
From New World Encyclopedia:
At the beginning of the 19th century, the Andong Kim clan, who had provided the Joseon state with several queens, had seized power almost everywhere in Korea. The social stagnation that resulted was a breeding ground for unrest. Corruption and embezzlement from the treasury and its inevitable exploitation were taken to extreme levels, and reached staggering proportions. One rebellion after another was accompanied by natural disasters.
The only aim of the Andong Kim clan was the preservation of their influence. Their fierce campaign to dominate the royal house had led to a situation in which almost all of the representatives of the royal family fled from Seoul. When the royal family produced intelligent and appropriate candidates for the accession, they were either accused of treason and executed or sent into exile, so when Heonjong died, leaving no son, no acceptable candidate could be found to succeed to the throne.
From “Exactly how much power did the Andong Kim Clan have in the Joseon court? How did they attain such power?” (Quora, by Michael L. Best) :
“How did the Andong Kim clan attain power? By intermarrying with the royal family, enthroning young and easy to control men as king, purging political rivals, and, very likely, killing off any king when they begin to threaten their power.”
“After Queen Jeongsun stepped down [in 1805 as regent of King Sunjo], Queen Sunwon’s father, Kim Jo-soon, began to make his move. Kim Jo-soon, who at that time was already of high rank within the royal court, began to purge all his political rivals to help secure the position of his family and political faction. At the same time corruption in the civil service examination increased, likely in the form of bribes to the Kim clan.”
The term “sedo politics” (royal in-law politics) describes the period 1800 to 1863 when national politics in Joseon was exclusively led by a few powerful royal in-law families, most notably the Andong Kim and Poongyang Jo clans.
From“Collusive Oligopolistic Politics: Sedo and the Political Structure of Early-Nineteenth-Century Choson Korea”
by Tae Yeon Eom (2012 thesis, University of British Columbia):
In contemporary Korean historiography, the reign periods of King Sunjo (r. 1800-1834), King Hŏnjong (r.1834-1849), and King Ch’ŏlchong (r. 1849-1863) are generally called “The Era of Sedo Politics” in Chosŏn Korea (1392-1910). In contemporary Korean historiography, the political theme of sedo predominated after the death of King Chŏngjo (r. 1776-1800), when national politics was exclusively led by a few powerful royal in-law families, most notably the Andong Kim and P’ungyang Cho clans, for sixty-three years. Obviously, those two major clans enjoyed extensive political authority and high social status in the nineteenth century.
Queen Shinjeong was portrayed by Chae Soo-bin in the 2016 hit “Moonlight Drawn By Clouds” aka “Love in The Moonlight." Queen Shinjeong’s husband Crown Prince Hyomyeong (King Munjo) was portrayed by Park Bo-gum.
In Season 2 , Ep. 4 of “Kingdom,” Crown Prince Lee Chang visited in Ganghwa Island his distant relative Prince Noseong, an impoverished member of the royal family. The drama portrays Prince Noseong as a lowly fisherman but who’s a well-read man
. This character was probably based on King Cheoljong (1831-1864), the last puppet king of the Andong Kim clan. Unlike the drama, however,
in history, King Cheoljong was illiterate, which made it easy for him to be controlled by the Andong Kim clan.
“Kingdom” Season 2, Ep. 4 B. Eps. 8 and 10: References to the persecution of Catholics during the Joseon Dynasty
In Ep. 8, at around the 43:00 mark, Bong-hwan (Queen Cheorin) remembers what he learned in history classes about King Cheoljeong; among other things, he remembers that King Cheoljong’s “grandmother and aunt got killed by getting baptized.”
In Ep. 10, at around the 46:57 mark, the Royal Chef tells Queen Cheorin (Bong-hwan) that he lives alone because all of his family were killed in 1839
. Queen Cheorin (Bong-hwan) then recalls that he was referring to the “Gihae Persecution.”
Some of the well-known persecution of Catholics during the Joseon Dynasty were the Sinyu Persecution of 1801, the Gihae Persecution of 1839, the Byeongo Persecution of 1846, and the Byeongin Persecution of 1866.
From “A Brief History of the Catholic Church in Korea” (WSJ) : “The Sinyu Persecution - In 1801, more than 300 people were killed as the ruling Joseon Dynasty, under newly ascended King Sunjo, staged a clampdown on the Catholic Church in Korea, ostensibly because the religion clashed with ideals of Neo-Confucianism and threatened the social hierarchical system. Yi Seung-hun was among those executed.”
From “Korean Catholicism marked by volatile history“
(Korean JoongAng Daily) : “Catholic believers suffered numerous rounds of persecution - the Sinhae Persecution (1791), the Sinyu Persecution (1801) and the Byeongin Persecution (1866) to name just a few - with about 10,000 missionaries and believers killed over a century.”
B-3. The only K-drama I’ve watched that depicted the persecution of Catholics during the Joseon Dynasty is “Yi San, A Wind in the Palace.”
In Eps. 60-61, the brother of FL Sung Song-yeon and his fellow Catholics were blamed and arrested for an assassination attempt against King Jeongjo
C. Ep. 8: Korean seesaw (“neolttwigi”)
In the early part of Ep. 8, Queen Cheorin and her attendant play on a “neolttwigi” (Korean seesaw).
2nd photo from National Geographic by W. Robert Moore, circa 1931
From Folkency: “Neolttwigi (lit. jumping on a board) refers to seesawing, a traditional entertainment practiced mainly by women during the Lunar New Year season. A large rectangular board is supported in its middle by a round hay bundle and two players take turns pushing hard on their end of the board with their feet in order to make the other end spring up.”
It is thought that Yangban women developed “neolttwigi” to see over the walls that surrounded their homes, as women in traditional Korea were rarely allowed out of their living compounds, except at night. (Wikipedia, citing Rodney P. Carlisle, Encyclopedia of Play in Today’s Society, Volume 1)
D. Ep. 12: Surit-nal (Dano Festival); ceremonial robes and head gear of Joseon kings
In Ep. 12, King Cheoljong presides over the Royal Banquet during the celebration of the Surit-nal (Dano Festival). His ceremonial robe is called “gujangbok,” while the head gear is called “myeonryugwan”
(The Talking Cupboard) .
The robe and head gear were worn by the King and the Crown Prince during special events; with the head gear, the more the number of strings, the higher the rank. The jade object that he’s holding is called the “hol” (or “okgyu” depending on the type of jade used to make it.
E. Ep. 14: Ice was a valuable commodity during the Joseon Dynasty.
In Ep. 14, the Grand Queen Dowager tells Queen Cheorin (Bong-hwan) that ice is a valuable commodity in Joseon.
From “Summer on ice: How ice became an essential part of summer life in Korea”
During the Joseon era (1392-1910), ice was a national asset under the control of the king, and accordingly, a luxury for noblemen.
Harvested from rivers and ponds in the winter, ice blocks were stored at facilities called “binggo.” They were used for ancestral rituals, for medical purposes and to keep food cool. Seoul districts Seobinggo and Dongbinggo have their origins in the history of ice storage.
From “Keeping food cool, the ancient way”
(Korea JoongAng Daily) : “Since the year 505, or the 6th year of King Jijung’s reign, until the arrival of freon and electricity centuries later, Koreans used stone bunkers to store blocks of ice throughout the year. These seokbinggo, literally “stone ice storage,” were located around the country. Local governments sometimes delivered ice to palaces, but mostly used ice as a means to prevent special local products from spoiling on the way to a palace.”
From “Feeling the heat: The luxury of ice” in Joseon (Korea Times) by Robert Neff:
The Korean government maintained two large ice storage facilities at Seobinggo and Dongbingo, where huge slabs of river ice (nearly two meters long and about 12.5 centimeters thick) were covered with straw and preserved throughout the year. Court officials and others who possessed “bingpae” ― an ice ration card ― were regularly able to obtain a certain amount of this valuable commodity (based on their rank) for their own use.
The common people, however, had to either purchase ice on the black market or from ice merchants. The black market ice ― obtained illegally from one of the government ice storage facilities ― was probably considered to be safer but much more difficult to obtain and so most people had to rely on local ice vendors.
(1) “The Grand Heist”
is a 2012 South Korean historical comedy film about a gang of 11 thieves who try to steal ice blocks from the royal storage, Seobingo, during the last years of the Joseon era.
In Ep. 9 of “A Jewel in the Palace,” crisis hits as Lady Han falls sick
and Jang Geum, with Keum Young, is left to prepare the food for the king and his entourage in the royal hunt. When the Head Eunuch tells Jang Geum and Keum Young that the king wants cold noodles, he asks them if they brought ice with them. (When I first saw this scene back in 2015, I thought, “What’s the big deal with ice?”)
In Ep. 2 of “The Tale of Nokdu,” Yul Mu prepares for Dong Joo a dessert for breakfast. The gisaengs around him become awestruck after the package that his bodyguard brought turns out to be a small block of ice.
What Yul Mu prepared for Dong Joo is similar to “patbingsu” (“bingsu).” Bingsu was introduced to Korea during the Japanese colonial period, but according to “Snowy delights and variations on bingsu”
(Korea Herald) , shaved ice treats existed even during the Joseon Dynasty.
https://i.redd.it/n78c477zy2pa1.gif This is a bit off-topic, but notice two things after Yul Mu’s bodyguard finishes chopping the ice into smaller pieces:
(a) Before sheathing his sword into the scabbard, the bodyguard makes a downward slash with his sword and with a quick wrist flick; he did this to get rid of the water that may create rust in his sword. A swordsman also does this after slashing an enemy; blood may also cause the sword to become rusty.
(b) The bodyguard sheaths his sword into the scabbard with the bladed side up. Why? Two reasons. One, if the bladed edge is sheathed with the bladed edge down, gravity will pull the blade down into the scabbard, causing the blade to become dull. Two, it seems that when a sword is sheathed with the blade up, it’s easier to unsheathe the sword and quickly attack an enemy.
In Ep. 7 of Mr. Sunshine, Ae-shin and her servant Haman enjoy “patbingsu” (“bingsu”) in the French bakery.
F. Ep. 14: Donghak (religion, movement, peasant revolution)
In Ep. 14, the ministers threaten King Cheoljeong that if he does not order the execution of Dam Hyang (the little girl who saved Queen Cheorin from being poisoned), they will consider him as a supporter of the “Donghak” religion and its followers
Donghak (lit. “Eastern Learning”) was an academic movement in Korean Neo-Confucianism founded in 1860 by Choe Je-u. The Donghak movement arose as a reaction to seohak (“Western learning”), and called for a return to the “Way of Heaven.” While Donghak originated as a reform movement and revival of Confucian teachings, it gradually evolved into a religion known today as “Cheondoism” in Korea under the third patriarch.
Choe was alarmed by the intrusion of Christianity (Catholicism), and the Anglo-French occupation of Beijing. He believed that the best way to counter foreign influence in Korea was to introduce democracy, establish human rights and create a paradise on Earth independent of foreign interference.
In 1892 the small groups of the Donghak movement were united into a single Peasant Guerrilla Army or Donghak Peasants’ Army. The peasants worked in the fields during the day, but during the night, they armed themselves and raided government offices and killed rich landlords, traders, and foreigners. They confiscated their victims’ properties for redistribution.
Choe Je-u was executed as a criminal by the government. The movement was continued by Choe Si-Hyeong (1829–1898), who systematized its doctrine. He too was executed.
“Gov’t to commemorate Donghak Peasant Revolution for 1st time” ; “Korea celebrates 125th anniversary of Donghak Peasant Revolution in 1894 (2020)”
G. Ep. 16: Difference between “Jo” and “Jong” in the posthumous (temple) names of the Joseon kings
; the Joseon kings’ royal portraits and dramas such as “Painter of the Wind” and “Saimdang”
In Ep. 16, during the Royal Portrait painting session, Queen Cheorin wonders about the difference between between “Jo” and “Jong” in the posthumous (temple) names of the Joseon kings. The subtitles say that “jo” is added to the name of a king who’s honored for doing something great; on the other hand, “jong” is added to the name of a king who’s honored for his virtue. Well, this is just one of two reasons for the difference.
The website “dramasROK” in its in-depth article
cites Korean historian Sul Min Suk who gives two reasons for the difference:
(1) Relationship of the king to his predecessor:
“If the successor was the king’s son – or next in line to the throne – then that king was given a posthumous title ending in JONG.
“BUT if the king was not next in line to the throne and started a new line within the Yi dynasty then his posthumous name was JO.”
(2) “The ending JO was given to the founder of the dynasty – Taejo – for great achievements establishing a new dynasty. And then his descendants were supposed to be named JONG. So in a way, the title JO could be considered superior to JONG. And from now on this was the case. JO was seen as a more elite title to JONG. It started with King Seonjo…”
Relevant discussions: Why was King Sejong named "Sejong" instead of "Sejo"? and “Rulers of the Joseon Dynasty and KDrama Interpretations”
G-2. The Joseon kings’ royal portraits and dramas such as “Painter of the Wind” and “Saimdang”
Only seven portraits of five Joseon kings remain today as the others were destroyed during the Korean War (1950-1953). These surviving portraits are those of King Sejong, King Yeongjo, King Jeongjo, King Cheoljong, King Gojong, and King Sunjong. You can view these portraits at the Royal Portrait Museum in Jeonju, Korea.
For a more detailed depiction of how the Joseon kings’ royal portraits were drawn according to strict standards, you can watch “Painter of the Wind” (2008; Eps. 10-11) and “Saimdang” (2017; Ep. 22).
H. Ep. 16: Secret Royal Investigators during the Joseon Dynasty
; secret royal investigators as depicted in “100 Days My Prince” and “Under The Queen's Umbrella”
In Ep. 16, King Cheoljong sends his trusted man Hong as a secret royal investigator to the most corrupt place in south Joseon. In his confrontation with a nobleman in a gisaeng house, Hong displays his “mapae.”
From “Amhaeng-eosa - secret royal inspector in Joseon Kingdom”:
“They were undercover officials directly appointed by the king and were sent to local provinces to punish corrupt officials and comfort the sufferings of people while traveling incognito. The amhaeng-eosa system was one of the most excellent inspection systems in the world, the likes of which is very unique and hard to find in other countries.”
The “mapae” was the badge of the secret royal inspectors, and the number of horses carved on it indicated the number of horses that they could requisition from the royal stables (“saboksi”) in pursuit of their assignment. The secret royal inspectors also used the “mapae” to summon soldiers.
The book “Corea, The Hermit Kingdom” (1888) by William Elliott Griffis states several interesting things about the secret royal inspectors.
They were called “The Messengers on the Dark Path,” and to prevent them from abusing their powers, they were secretly monitored by a “yashi” or “Night Messenger.” Griffis states:
“An E-sa, or commissioner, who is to be sent to a distant province to ascertain the popular feeling, or to report the conduct of certain officers, is also called ‘The Messenger on the Dark Path.’ He receives sealed orders from the king, which he must not open till beyond the city walls. Then, without even going to his own house, he must set out for his destination, the government providing his expenses. He bears the seal of his commission, a silver plate having the figure of a horse engraved on it. In some cases he has the power of life and death in his hands.
“Yet, even the Messenger of the Dark Path is not free from espionage, for after him forthwith follows his ‘double’ the yashi or Night Messenger, who reports on the conduct of the royal inspector and also on the affairs of each province through which he passes. The whereabouts of these emissaries are rarely discoverable by the people, as they travel in strict disguise, and unknown.
“This system corresponds almost exactly to that of the ometsuke (eye-appliers), for many centuries in use in Japan, but abolished by the Mikado’s government at the revolution of 1868. It was by means of these E-sa or spies that many of the Corean Christians of rank were marked for destruction. The system, though abominable in free countries, is yet an excellent medium between the throne and the subject, and serves as a wholesome check on official rapine and cruelty.”
H-2. Secret royal inspectors as depicted in "100 Days My Prince" and "Under the Queen’s Umbrella":
In Ep. 7 of “100 Days My Prince,” a royal secret inspector (“Amhaengeosa”) saves Yul and Hong-shim from the corrupt magistrate and Master Park
. Hong-shim previously recognized that the man sleeping in her father’s room was a royal secret inspector because he was holding a “yuchuk” (a brazen ruler that inspectors used for several purposes, including making sure that the measurement system for taxation was correctly followed).
In Eps. 8-10 of “Under The Queen's Umbrella, as part of the contest, the Grand Princes and the princes disguise themselves as “secret royal inspectors” (“amhaeng-eosa”) in pursuit of the assignments given by King Lee Ho
. In some scenes, you can see the inspectors’ seal (badge) and tool: the “mapae” and the “yuchuk.”
I. Miscellaneous notes
: Ep. 11: the fight with fans as weapons; “jangot” or head covering for noblewomen during the Joseon Dynasty ; the beautiful bridge across the pond in Ep. 1 and other episodes
. Ep. 11: During the festival, King Cheoljoeong and Kim Byeong-in fight using fans as requested by the Grand Queen Dowager
. While they’re using ordinary fans, there’s actually a martial art system using a fan as a weapon.
: Tessenjutsu (Japanese; lit. “iron fan technique”) is the martial art of the Japanese war fan (tessen). It is based on the use of the solid iron fan or the folding iron fan, which usually had eight or ten wood or iron ribs. The use of the war fan in combat is mentioned in early Japanese legends.
In Ep. 11 of “Saimdang,”Lee Gyeom fights off Min Chi-hyung’s men using his fan.
Related resources: War Fan Tessen Techniques
and Why Samurai Carried and Fought with Fans Made of Metal
“Jangot” (alternative spelling ”changot”): similar to the outer jacket of a hanbok but with a collar and a ribbon for tying both sides; according to the principles of the Joseon Dynasty’s Confucianism, women were ordered not to show their face to men, so they would cover their faces in many ways while going out. (Wikipedia)
From “Veiling of Korean Women: The Neo-Confucian Influence in Comparison to the Veiling of Muslim Women”
by Hye Ok Park (Claremont Graduate University, Department of History) :
Different types of veils
“There were several different types of veils, Sseugae, worn by Korean upper-class women: Nuhwool, a black sheer silk framed veil to cover from head to waist (Figure 3), Jangot, a head and face-covering in the shape of overcoat, usually made of green pure silk with purple collar and chest straps to be tied at the chin (Figure 4), and Sseugae chima or shorter Jangot, worn by the lower-ranking upper-class women (Figure 5).
“Lower-class common women were not subjected, or allowed, to wear any headdresses except for the purpose of protection from weather, hot or cold, in which case they wore a simple square piece of cloth, called cheoneui, folded in half diagonally and tied in the back of the head. It was common that they did not wear anything to cover their heads or faces when they went out on their own or accompanying a noble woman as seen in Figure 1 above.”
The beautiful bridge and pond shown below are used as the location for several scenes in “Mr. Queen”, starting with Ep. 1. This bridge is located in the Gungnamji Pond (Historic Site No. 135) in Seodong Park; it is Korea’s first artificial pond and was created by King Mu from the Baekje Dynasty. The bridge and pond have been used in other dramas such as “The Flower in Prison,” “The Joseon Gunman,” and “The Tale of Nokdu.”
In digging up the historical and cultural backgrounders of the K-dramas that I watch, I rely on English language resources on the Internet. I don’t speak or read Korean, and so I can’t search through Naver. Those of you who read Korean or are more knowledgeable about Korean culture and history should correct whatever errors or omissions there may be in this discussion.
Other discussions that I have posted on the historical and cultural backgrounders of K-historical dramas:
“Hotel Del Luna” (some cultural backgrounders for international viewers)
“The Princess’s Man” (award-winning 2011 drama starring Moon Chae-won and Park Si-hoo)
“The Flower in Prison” (blockbuster 2016 drama starring Jin Se-yeon and Go-soo; 34 of its 51 episodes reached more than 20% viewership)
“Jejoongwon” (2010 historical-medical drama starring Han Hye-jin, Yeon Jung-hoon, and Park Yong-woo; Dramabeans ranked this drama as number one in its review of 2010 dramas)
“Chinilpa” (mini history lesson from "Chicago Typewriter")
Historical paintings depicted in "Saimdang, Light’s Diary"
Historical backgrounders for “The Red Sleeve” (2021) and “Yi San” (2007) with parallels and differences between these dramas
This discussion is rather long and may be a bit boring for those of you who don't like history. If you got tired reading this discussion, you can energize yourself by listening to Band-Maid’s performances during their 2022 USA tour. Band-Maid is an all-female Japanese band that mixes genres such as rock (hard, progressive, punk), metal, pop, jazz, and blues. Listen for example to “Freedom"
(anthem; watch out for the drum solo); “Daydreaming"
(power ballad; watch out for the lead guitar solo); “Wonderland”