Icd 10 labral tear right shoulder

Am I too sensitive?

2023.05.29 18:14 ____sway Am I too sensitive?

I also want to say, even if I am too sensitive, I do want to keep distance from my in laws because I feel really bad around them, but how much distance is what is negotiable. I've written it very long sorry, if anyone gets to the end, thanks a lot 🙏 So my in laws were against our wedding, they wanted a big ceremony few years later. I'm south Asian, family expecting all this is kind of the norm, they also spend for the wedding usually. But we paid ourselves for a small ceremony with just family and some relatives. After that when we lived with in laws for 2&1/2 months, and my parents for 2 months before leaving abroad, there were lots of annoying things. I would get treated like I'm an outsider and my husband's PA. Like I should get up during my meal to get her son something, I should collect his plate etc, cook even though they have someone for that, pack my mil's lunch box at 6 am once the cook is finished.. my husband didn't let me do stuff for him, and for stuff like packing her lunch, we both did on alternate days. But these things are not okay for me in the modern age. People should look after themselves. On top of such expectations, she would invade our privacy, knocking at our door at 11pm, peeking at my laptop screen, etc. She would also lie and manipulate. Like she would manipulate me to cook or do something for her like put her clothes to dry etc. And would lie to my FIL if he got annoyed that I'm cooking when they have a cook, by saying that I asked to . I didn't confront her in such situations. My husband left the country first as my visa wasn't ready , and before he left, she started indirectly telling me to pack up and leave the same day. Here the tradition is that even widows stay with their in laws.. so like me leaving immediately is rude, like saying you're not my family. So my plan was to stay for 10 days max and leave and then come back for weekends now and then until I get visa. But she pressured me to leave in 2 days after my husband so I did and as I was leaving, my FIL was extremely rude to me so I left in tears. Later my mom wanted me to stay for a weekend during some festivals, and twice my mom asked her and mil just said she's busy. So I shouldn't come, even though she didn't say it directly. On another visit, my FIL, his mom who stays with them, insulted my family. Then my mom made me visit them to say bye a day before my flight and I was very angry but my mom is very persuasive. So I went with my mom and my FIL shouted at me and my mom , saying my parents didn't raise me right etc. Apparently he had no idea that my mil told me to leave the house. I still protected her because her mil was also there. I told my FIL I will tell him the reason separately and I called him from my parents house and explained. He was just super dismissive and sarcastic and didn't believe a word. My parents explained separately and he was rude to them and hung up on them too. After all this drama, and a lot in between, that I haven't included, I still felt bad for my in laws and invited them abroad for a tour because my husband and I are permanently moving back to our country soon after 1&1/2 year abroad. Only my mil and sil came and they paid for their expenses and some extra things like taxis which husband and I don't usually take. FIL still refuses to speak to me. In the trip , I was quiet and not super welcoming or affectionate to them. I was nice to them the first day but after that I started getting annoyed by them and grew quieter. This was an expensive trip for us and I did most of the planning as I don't work outside the home. It was a lot of hours of work and stress because it was 4 cities/ countries in 10 days. So I was very annoyed by how slow they were walking for eg. Like snails pace. They would get out of the building and immediately want to sit down. Husband and I travel with backpacks to save money. And we were paying for our own hotels and it adds more days because they can't check out early and travel with bags. Anyway, so i got angry when my sil complained to her mom that she doesn't know why she has come on the trip when me and husband keep going off on her own. Which wasn't fully true, and there was good reason. In fact my husband would walk ahead to keep a good pace and I would walk in the middle hurrying them along sometimes, and they would walk at an 80 yr olds pace. Her mom should have advised her but instead she made it an issue and asked us to include sil and take pics of her first etc. So I got very angry and told them what I felt. I did not shout or verbally abuse or anything. Just frustrated that's all. So the trip went a bit like this where some days I chose to stay in while they 3 went out because I was annoyed. And then one day she went on a long rant (exactly 1 hr) when we were outside because she felt insulted by how quiet I am to her. And this was in a language I don't understand. She also throughout the trip kept noticing what I eat etc and competed even in food even though there was plenty, so I actually started eating very less and I was crying a lot and avoiding food. I dont think she even noticed this. So after the trip I decided this was it and I want to cut contact with at least mil and FIL forever. Sil I will give a chance since she isn't even in college yet. I even told husband I don't want mil in my house, around my future kids etc after I've seen how jealous and competitive she is. So my question is, am I reacting in extreme? Like actually she was the one who would keep talking in the language I don't understand, excluding me. And in food she would do this like tell her kids to eat a lot etc and if I eat anything then even if she's full she will eat the same thing. Some of the stories I read here are much worse and ppl seem to keep in touch with in laws, which is why I'm doubting myself. Is it okay to cut her off and not want her to step into my house ever etc.
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2023.05.29 18:14 CosmosInBloom What are deemed as 'clinical impairments' under diagnostic criteria?

Hi all,
Background: I was identified as autistic as a teen by a special needs counsellor but it never went further than that for a couple of practical reasons and since then I've done loads of research on autism and I'm over 80% sure now that I am. I haven't yet pursued a formal diagnosis for a few reasons but one being that I don't know if I'm 'clinically impaired' enough right now to be diagnosed. (I'm in the UK so free diagnosis is a stress and long). Partly this is due to being in a very incidentally supportive situation, and partly due to the reasons below.
I've looked at the criteria of impairment in both the DSM-V and the ICD-10 (social, occupational, or other important areas of current functioning/personal, family, social, educational, occupational, or other important areas) I'm not expecting medical advice or a concrete answer, just if anyone knows what the diagnosticians deem to be impairments, or what you deem them to be.
My idea of 'clinical impairments' I think might be a bit too extreme because I was thinking about things like being fired from jobs for being unable to communicate with colleagues, or being unable to carry out any form of self care.
I was going to list what I thought were my impairments under each category, and then give the reasons I doubted they would count as impairments, but the post became unacceptably long, so I'll give a few examples to sum up my thinking:
• Most of my potential impairments right now are internal. I am stressed by many things which relate to the autistic criteria, such as social interaction, sensory issues, unexpected changes. However, to other people I generally seem to appear to be functioning. I believe I mask heavily and become exhausted by social situations and am very uncomfortable in many situations, however I'm not sure if stress and discomfort counts if you are able to actually do things without affecting other people (possibly to a point of burnout in the end)
• Some things are a choice for me, such as a lifelong disinterest in most social situations and friendship. If I'm not interested, it may be unusual, but is it an impairment, if I'm not being forced into it, and I avoid non-compulsory situations?
• I'm not sure if some of the things that could be classified as impairments are 'enough'. E.g., I've spent the last two hours researching this area and writing this when I should've been drinking water and doing other things, because I'm super involved in it and have to finish it now, but is that an impairment?
• A lot of things I struggle with I've put down to me not trying enough, or not being independent enough, not pushing myself enough, being too dramatic. If most of the world is overwhelming, is that because I haven't put effort into fixing myself? I think a lot of this thinking comes from doctors labelling me as generally too anxious, and it's my issue to fix. Where does the line between anxious, or unhappy, stressed, become impaired?
• Right now I'm in a situation where I am supported very well, I have a job but I'm very lucky that it causes me manageable levels of stress as it's wfh, but if I am no longer in this situation in future, I feel I will struggle. I'm not sure though as support is all I've ever known. This is why I'd like to pursue a diagnosis, as I feel it could be important for me later on. (However, the clinical impairment needs to be current to be diagnosed). I have had major issues in the past, a lot of which I think were actually related to being autistic, such as sensory issues.
If anyone has read the full post, thank you. Please let me know your thoughts about what defines a clinical impairment, and whether internal struggles count as such.
submitted by CosmosInBloom to aspergirls [link] [comments]


2023.05.29 18:05 anon172649 Weird guy outside my apartment at 4 am

When I was younger, I got a job in a major city across the country, so I got an apartment. I'm a country girl, so I loathe the city and all its glass and stone, and therefore I happily paid the premium for the one apartment complex I could find that actually had greenery in that it had small green "fields" around it. Like a 10 foot strip of green between the building and the road, but it was better than pavement.
The layout of the place is somewhat relevant, and to make it easier I'll use compass directions to give you an idea. The apartment building was your typical skyscraper, on the corner of a highway access road and a regular street that went downtown. The highway was north of the building, traveling east to west. The side street was to the east, running north to south. South of the apartment building was the surface parking lot, which sat on top of an underground parking garage. Between the apartment building and the southern parking lot was a small green island, basically the side of a hill as the land sloped up from the underground garage entrance up to the surface lots on top of it.
The main door of the apartment faced the side street (across which was a well-lit square where neighborhood holiday events took place, and a bunch of small boutiques and further down a mall, so it was bright and busy almost all the time. It sucked but it meant the place wasn't creepy at night). The apartment also had a side door on its south end, through the basement (not a creepy basement, well lit and also where the gym, laundry room, and party room were. The apartment was on a hill so the entrances were on different levels). The side door let out toward the parking garage and the parking lots.
There are two entrances to drive onto the property from the side street, one at the north end of the building and one at the south end. Between the apartment and the side street was a drive-thru like lane, with street-facing parking on one side but no room to park on the apartment-side. This drive-thru lane went from the north street entrance to the south street entrance (a stoplight intersection), which was also where the parking lot split. The south street entrance was convoluted. If you were driving onto the property from there, you could either take a right onto the drive-thru lane, go straight to turn into the underground garage entrance, or go left to drive up onto the surface lot.
My typical routine would be to get up at 4 and let my dog out to pee. I would take him out the south side door, cross the little lane that led to the parking garage, and let him pee in the little island of grass between the entrance to the garage and the surface lot. Sometimes I'd go further, crossing to the sidewalk beside the actual street, since there was a strip of green there between the parking spots and the sidewalk.
That morning, I had stayed in the island next to the parking garage, letting my dog do his thing. I tend to pace, so while he was sniffing about, I was casually strolling back and forth. I do this out of general restlessness, but it doubles as an excellent way to keep a good 360 degree awareness of my surroundings.
During one turn, I glimpsed something between the cars parked facing the street on that thru-lane. It was a lone figure on the sidewalk by the side street, shoulders slightly bent against the cold, head down, walking south, hands in the pockets of his dark jacket/hoodie. I'm often out this early to go jogging, and I've seen the occasional early bird doing the same, so I had no qualms about a guy walking on the sidewalk. I literally notice nothing else about him except the dark jacket and his location.
I turn away, and my dog is still taking his sweet time, so my slow pacing eventually turns me back toward the street. I notice the guy on the sidewalk cut across the green strip and between the cars parked facing the street on that drive-thru lane. This is the first time I really take note, because that particular area is a short albeit steep incline from the sidewalk to the parked cars. He easily could have been taking a shortcut to get to the south side door of the apartment, but the actual sidewalk turnoff (at the south car entrance) was like 10 feet away from him, so it was a relatively unnecessary shortcut. Whatever, he crosses the drive-thru lane toward the south side entrance, so I pay it no mind. My pacing is slow, so even as I'm turning, I still have him in my peripherals. He definitely heads to the door, so I proceed to ignore him as I turn back to my dog, who is still taking his sweet-ass time sniffing a particularly interesting spot in the grass.
As I'm looking at my dog, he suddenly stops sniffing and lifts his head slightly, ears pricked as he stares at something behind. He had seen the guy crossing the thru-lane earlier and ignored him, and he posture wasn't any more defensive than it usually is, but I just notice. That's when I realized I hadn't actually heard the side door open. You need a key fob to enter any of the entrances, which makes a loud beep, and I hadn't heard that.
My pacing turned me around again, and that's when I see the guy walking away from the door, as if back toward the street or parking lot. But the second I catch sight of him, he stops. And he's just standing there on the curb of the little lane to the garage, opposite me where I am on the green island. He's just standing there facing me, hands in pockets, looking right at me, me standing there looking right at him.
(I always carry pepper spray on a strap that wraps around my hand, so it's always secure in my palm, and since I was using that hand to hold my jacket closed since the zipper broke, the mace can was clearly visible. Looking back, I wonder if that's why he stopped walking when I turned).
I'm normally dumb and absentminded enough to not feel anxious in situations when I should. That whole "Gift of Fear" thing simply doesn't exist in me. I didn't get any chills, no queasy feeling, no hair raised on the back of my neck. But I did have a very loud and decisive voice speak up in my head that just said, "Nope."
So I tug the leash and start out for the sidewalk, crossing the convoluted "intersection" of parking lot lanes, intending to make my way to the north main door. The second I move, though, so does the guy! He steps out sideways, stepping off the curb and crossing the convoluted "intersection that isn't an intersection," perfectly angled to cut me off right in the center. So I do another "Nope" and spin on the ball of my foot to head for the other sidewalk, south of the intersection, as if to let my dog pee over at that green strip instead.
In my peripherals, the guy changed direction, too. He took a left, heading back toward the sidewalk to head north, literally going back the way he came. I could see him the whole time from my vantage point next to the sidewalk now, so I know for certain he did not go to the north main door of the apartment building. He just kept walking along the street until he was gone. That's ultimately the only reason I'm putting this here, because up to then, a large part of me had rationalized this behavior as that of a guy simply trying to get home but had forgotten his key fob (the north main door has a desk person who can buzz you in).
But he didn't go to the main door of the apartment, and the brief moment of him just standing there staring at me, and nearly cutting me off, then changing course... I don't know what to make of it. Like I said, I wasn't panicked, but then I usually don't get that way because my first instinct is to drop all emotion and face weird situations analytically. But the event always really stuck out in my mind, and I honestly can't determine if that instance really was "weird" or I'm making a bigger deal of it because it was 4 in the morning and I was tired and wired.
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2023.05.29 18:02 Seamoose_Art NoP 2177: Black Terminal [3]

All credit for the world goes to u/spacepaladin15. I hope you enjoy! (and if you didn't, I'd be happy to hear your critique)
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Memory transcript subject: Trish, Venlil civilian
Date [Standardized Human Time]: February 28th, 2177
Location: Lower sprawl of City 23, Venlil Prime
Trish didn’t make any noise to announce her presence. Her jet-black dyed fur blended in with the soft shadows. By the time anyone noticed her, she could’ve been standing there for a solid quarter-claw. She’d made a sort of game out of it, seeing how well she could keep hidden under Sasha’s all-observant eyes. Of course, everyone who could notice her was sprawled out on various couches and chairs, overfull on stew and lost in the flow of conversation. That helped. In the dim lighting and complete absence of alertness, she could even smooth out her fur with a paw and not draw any notice from them, provided she did so quietly.
Watching people from the shadows instead of greeting them was predatory behavior, or so she’d been told; in school, she was repeatedly reprimanded for not socializing properly with the other Venlil. When they forced her to stop spending so much time alone, she chose to spend time with the few human kids. They were more interesting, and they didn’t yell at her because her tail and ears didn’t move like they were supposed to. She’d never seen any of those humans sit back and watch like she did; they were nothing if not sociable, although they always seemed to know when she’d talked enough and gave her space before she started to panic. Some “predators” they were.
They were nice kids. Sometimes she wondered what facility she’d be rotting in if one of them didn’t teach her the basics of writing Fl-sharp on an old, beat up datapad. When her teachers brought in assessors, she’d talked with one of them about programming for so long that they decided to forgo the tests entirely, assuming that such a talkative kid couldn’t have predator disease. Trish could barely bring herself to speak for days afterwards in a fog of social exhaustion, but the act had been worth it.

Minutes of self-absorbed self-reflection, and still nobody had noticed her. Perhaps James had butterfingered some sedatives into their food on accident? She decided to finally make herself known with a sharp tail lash against the wooden floor.
“...Trish. I suppose you’ll tell us why we’re all here.” Sasha groggily rose to look at her as she stepped out into the light. The rest mimicked the action, dragging themselves out of stew-induced stupor to focus their attention. Trish cleared her throat.
“Thank you all for coming. I’ve gotten word of another package on the way. It’s from her.
That got their attention. James nearly fell over from twisting around to look at her. “Our mysterious unnamed benefactor again, so soon? What’s it this time, more books? Earth music?”
“Much better. It’s another unmarked.”
Last time they’d gotten an unmarked package from her, it had turned out to be a pair of pistols. Kinetic weaponry which would tear right through the flame/plasma resistant exterminator suits, though it also kicked like hell. One of them was given as a gift to a friend who lived on the dark side of Venlil Prime, and the other was concealed in Tressa’s coat. The prospect of something similar filled them all with equal excitement and dread.
“And no, I don’t have any idea what it is. All she said was to ‘be gentle with it’. It’s set to be delivered…”
Trish checked her pad again, quietly hoping that the words on the screen had somehow changed. They hadn’t.
“...at the Rising Star hotel, the one right next to the new spaceport.”
A single groan of frustration expressed itself through four different people. Tressa was the first to speak. “You’re kidding me. She’s seriously asking you to… not just the upper layer, mind you, a spaceport! The place’ll be crawling with those flamethrower freaks, one at every corner!”
"I know. And she thinks it’s worth the risk trying to get it to us anyway, whatever it is. So we’re doing it.”
There was silence, as every one of them tried to find a reason it wasn’t worth it. Even Trish, who’d already gone through this whole process nearly a paw ago when she got the message, tried one more time to write the idea off. All of them failed. The potential reward was just too great, and it wasn’t worth breaking the trust of their fixer. She was putting a hell of a lot on the line and blindly hoping they’d reciprocate.
With a long, exaggerated sigh, James rose from his sprawled lounge to a semi-respectable slouch. “So I’m taking it that this isn’t a solo op, is it. Who’re you looking to take?”
“All of us.”
Trish spoke in a clear, somewhat monotone voice which completely belied her nerves at her proposal. Truth be told, they didn’t need to come at all. Not for practical reasons. Some of them could certainly be useful, of course, but that was hardly cause to drag every one of them out for what really could be a solo operation. No, the real reason was far dumber than that.

The first time she’d noticed it was the night she met Burai. It was a miserably cold night, and she was nearly running to get home. Her route took her past the Tipped Quill, although at the time she’d barely noticed the building. Without any signage (much less the extensive remodeling that would come later), the establishment blended in with a thousand other dilapidated buildings on the street. She paid it no mind.
Or she would’ve paid it no mind, but something stopped her. A physical feeling, an icy tightness around her stomach which pulled towards the bar like a magnet. She stopped, wheeled around; Burai was sitting on the front steps, checking something on his pad and shivering lightly in the wind. She’d seen the old Gojid a handful of times, but never talked to him before. She’d never had any reason to. Without thinking, without even understanding what exactly she was doing, she started to double back.
It happened again a few weeks later, in a seedy restaurant on the border of Sweetwater. This time, instead of pulling her in, it was dragging her out with urgent force. She’d already finished her food and paid, so she just let it happen, watching with curiosity as it forced her into a half-sprint away from the building. It wasn’t until she’d rounded a corner that she heard the telltale roar of flamethrowers, and by then she’d already been ferried away from the chaos.
And again, commanding her to follow a digital trail that led her straight to their mysterious contact who’d turned out to be a veritable goldmine of banned materials, books and foods and a working firearm. And again, suggesting that she double back into the bar where she’d find Burai choking on a starfruit and unable to breath. The feeling had no words to speak with, but its command was always clear. And right now, it was telling her in no uncertain terms that the entire group needed to come along for the retrieval.
Of course, she couldn’t tell them the real reason why she wanted them to all go. She’d been making up excuses all evening, practicing a few to the bathroom mirror and shower wall. She braced herself for an explosion of hostility at the inane suggestion, squared her shoulders for the coming argument.

The silence in the room started to tear at Trish’s spirit. Were they so nonplussed that they wouldn’t even dignify her with a response? She felt tension building in her throat, thick enough to choke on. Maybe if she fainted on the spot, they’d take some pity on her. She never was a fainter, but if she forced herself to stop breathing she could make something work…
“Ahh… yeah. I thought we might, given your message.” Tressa began with a stifled yawn. “So how long do we have before leaving? Enough to get some rest?” His tail swished lazily across the floor; Trish didn’t need to remember the fine details of tail language to see the lack of distress in the movement. James went back to his sprawled position, muttering something about clearing his schedule.
Trish looked at him incredulously, and he failed to return the gesture. All of them were acting as though this was a sane, normal thing to request, starting to quietly chatter about the details of the mission in the same casual register they’d been using all night to discuss food and friends and work.
“All of you.” Trish made her voice firm. “Do you understand what I’m asking? This will not be a risk free mission, a ‘walk in the park’. Tressa, you said as much a moment ago. You didn’t seem so cavalier about this idea then.”
“Nothing we do is risk free.” James countered. “Even meeting here is a risk, right? And besides, I’ve been stuck down here too long. It’s high time I got some fresh air.”
That was hardly a real reason. Even Trish could come up with a better excuse than that.
…She decided to let it lie. If they were willing to go, there was no point in pushing back. They weren’t dumb; they knew the risks. If they didn’t want to tell her the reason they were so eager to jump on a pointlessly over-crewed retrieval mission, so be it. Who was she, to tell them to be honest with her about their motivations?
Trish leaned against a nearby couch and slumped into a more comfortable position, feeling her heart rate restabilize and her mind resharpen. Pulling out the pad again, she mulled over the details of the message one more time before speaking up.
“What we’re looking for is a light gray backpack with the UN logo on it. As I said, it’ll be handed over in the Rising Star hotel; exact location is still pending. We’ve got about 10 hours before we need to leave.”
She desperately hoped she had the time conversion between claws and hours correct, or she’d be dealing with either four underslept liabilities or a very irritated fixer who wouldn’t accept “slept in” as a reasonable excuse.
“We’ll need a few minutes to get prepared before taking Beast, and the trip up could take a couple hours if there’s really bad traffic. I’m sure you all understand why we need to be there immediately, so that possibility is what I’m planning around. That should give you all plenty of time to rest.”
Taking the multiple sighs of relief as her cue, Trish picked herself up from the floor and stalked off to one of the rooms she’d claimed as her own. She never liked these face-to-face chats, but at least the hardest part of her work was done. In the morning, she could focus on the relatively simple task of actually retrieving the package. The thought of the trip up wasn’t pleasant, per se (Beast wasn’t exactly a reliable steed), nor was the prospect of traipsing around the upper layer of City 23. Though it was undeniably beautiful, they’d be under the ever-watchful eye of the Federation at all times. Still, the stress of surveillance couldn’t hold a candle to the stress of social confrontation. Compared to that ordeal, the trip couldn't be anything but smooth sailing.
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submitted by Seamoose_Art to NatureofPredators [link] [comments]


2023.05.29 17:43 DMmeCompliments Running Low on Resilience - Growth Beyond Abuse

Isn't it tough, sometimes, for the Mind and Heart to cooperate??
Hey Delhi, I'm a 25 yo guy and I feel Lost. I'm in a pretty bad phase right now. Need your advice, suggestions, and prayers. This is gonna be a long post so plz bear with me. To the mods - I really need to talk about it, it's eating me inside, please don't remove the post.
Being hit by a train of emotions while a slideshow of memories runs in my mind right now. I find it very intriguing how some people do irreparable damage to the person who loves them the most.
My GF of 4.5 yrs, a couple of years younger than me, abused me for 3 yrs before I snapped and walked out. I was tackling Medical and Judicial issues at home in these 3 yrs too, It was like getting battered from every aspect of my existence. I know I shouldn't have stayed there for that long but somehow it felt like it'll all get over someday and I held on. It was my first relationship and I was madly in love, truly. I had met her at a time when she was recovering from her previous breakup but we both liked each other instantaneously and I tried my best to help her get through that phase, from sending pizzas to her place without telling her to unannounced soft toys on the days she was feeling miserable and anxious. I did all that I thought would make me feel better if I was in her position and mental state. Then once we were officially together for 1.5 yrs, the abuse started.
It all started very slowly, she would ask me for help with her assignments, and by help she meant that I should do it for her. I saw it as a gesture of healthy dependency and didn't think much. Traveled to Faridabad from Patel Nagar to "deliver" her assignments at least 10 times, sometimes the assignments were of her elective language - Russian, But no matter the heat or cold, I was always there. Yet somehow, she always managed to nitpick errors in assignments and would yell at me over calls. Initially, I was surprised cuz a reaction of this type wasn't normal, but I shrugged it off thinking maybe I might have messed up somewhere. But every time I tried to perfect my work, I would still get yelled at. She also wouldn't decline advances from other guys and would play along, sometimes even going silent on video calls cuz she was texting other guys. One night I told her that I didn't feel good about it and that since we are in a relationship why does she need to entertain romantic advances from other guys? She brainwashed me into thinking that my concerns were unrealistic and that I "should be okay" with her shenanigans. Then came her final year, Holy Fuck what a year it was, she wanted to do internships so we discussed the details and both of us started to find openings. Around this time, she also wanted to prepare for UPSC and wanted to shift to Rajendra Nagar for coaching and stuff. But it was summer then so I told her "Bht garmi hai, I'll look for rooms and coaching here, aap kitna aana jana karoge Faridabad se yahan and back" (yes I addressed her as aap). Eventually after a lot of sweating and exhaustion, I found a decent place for her, sorted all of her coaching details, and also got her into a paid government internship. Within another day, contacted a moving company, loaded all her stuff in a van, and settled her place here in Rajendra Nagar before she finally shifted here. In my mind, everything was going well between us, except for the occasional yet frequent verbal abuse. I did my graduation from EEE branch and not to boast but I am really good at engineering stuff, On her bday I gifted her an Electronic box, made from scratch by me that would display sweet messages for different moods of her like positivity, motivation (since upsc aspirant), love and sm more stuff. I was suffering from typhoid those days but I still sat at my table coding the software and merging the electronic components, while I was having 102 fever almost every night, cuz her bday was nearing. I always used to say to her "Look I don't have much money to gift you stuff but my most valuable thing - my time, will always be there for you. You're never alone." I guess this gift of mine backfired cuz This is when things started deteriorating. Since we were living close now, I would visit her frequently. One such day I was welcomed with taunts and yelling as to how the place I found for her is shit and noisy. Being avidly in love and with my problem-solving knack, I made her a sound-absorbing board with egg crates and foam and attached it to her door and window, and bought heavy curtains and rugs for her room too. That night I stayed at her place and we planned to watch LOTR while having pizzas. After a while, she again picked her phone up to which I objected as we were watching the movie and then she got angry and threw my food in the dustbin (i am a slow eater, and she finished fast), before I could even comprehend why she was in such anger, she kicked me in the balls really hard. I collapsed on the floor from pain, this made me furious but I was confused AF, so I waited for the pain to subside while she kept saying how I had made her life hard and how I am a shitty BF and a shitty person. I got up and tried to calm her down and to know the cause but she straight up slapped me hard and started hurling abuses. I stared at her for idk how long but i zoned out, she slapped me twice more but i was suddenly in a flashback of how good things were between us, how i considered her a part of me and literally ebbed myself away to make her feel better... I came back to reality after she switched off the lights and went to sleep. But since there was only 1 bed, she pushed me away and told me i had 2 options, either to stay standing up the whole night or sleep on the floor. I slept on her chair with my head down on the table. Couldn't sleep and tears kept rolling. You guys must know the physical pain we feel in our chest when we cry, add hunger pangs to it and that was me that night. I left her place at 5 AM, sat in the park for a while, and came back to my room barely holding my tears back. I texted her later and called her too but she didn't respond until 4 PM. She told me that she was out with her cousin sister the whole day and sent me pictures of them in a cafe. I looked at the picture and saw her smile, for a second I was like that's a beautiful smile girl and then I thought, how could someone go on a day outing, have fun and celebrate after beating and torturing their loved ones? After that night, slapping and kicking become common. Sometimes it was cuz I didn't wake her up on time and smtyms it was cuz I was talking to Dad for too long and responded to her calls after some delay. But I never, not even once, thought of beating her. I guess I was still being hopeful that it'll all end. One day, it was all going okay and idk what I did or what the trigger was, she started saying that I was cheating on her, I was furious cuz I really hate cheaters and cheating and wouldn't do such stuff even if I was drunk. What ensued was a very brutal debate, again involving physical abuse, I even apologized to her with folded hands to stop beating me and asked her 1 question "Have you forgotten the things I have done for you? Why would I cheat if I am soo invested in you?" To which she replied - "Maine bola tha itna karne ko kya?" Hearing this I froze, mind went blank, it was more than I could take and after she went back to her place I blocked her from everywhere, and also shifted to another place to live in the next 10 days.
Today is my bday and I stayed in the whole day remembering how we used to celebrate each others bdays, and now we are like strangers. She still stays in the same neighbourhood, i see her smtyms too and all i think is how easy it is for some people to move on. Like a breeze, leaving a trail of crumbs of a heart they pulverised. Nowadays when i take my anxiety pills, when i wake up in middle of night because i dreamt of those stuff with my heartbeat racing and sweating even with the AC on, i wonder - Is love like a non-newtonian fluid? If you hold on to it tightly, its strong but the moment you loosen grip it percolates between fingers.. But i was still holdin on tight, how did it percolate then? I didnt deserve such treatment, she hurt me more than she needed to if all she wanted was a breakup.. I wonder, will she remmber me when she looks at her curtains and the door frame and the soft toys that i gave? Cuz i still have kept an oregano packet from when we first met and had pizza at dominos.
I need help. It feels like I am a different person now, I want to unlearn many things that I developed to handle the trauma and still keep myself sane, but I don't know how. I know i cant reverse time but I wish I could format my brain rn. I have been to psychiatrist regarding my anxiety attacks and he told me to give myself time to recover, but its been months and i still feel numb inside. How do i get myself out of this slump? How do i trust people again? How do i know that theres not a rotten heart hiding under a beautiful face? how do i live and not just stay alive? I wish i could talk to god and ask him what my sins were for which i got so punished, naa toh health meri thik rahi, naa toh mann shant raha naa hi neend aati hai.. Kyun?
People, I have been resilient untill now but ab nahi ho raha.. I m running low on it. Kahan se laun himmat? How do i grow out of this state of mine? I have no one to say these too hence yahan bola. Please let me know what i should do as i have hit a dead end.
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2023.05.29 17:35 TheScribe_1 [The Book of the Chosen] - Chapter Eleven - The Room of Doors

Previous Chapter - Read 10 weeks ahead on Patreon - Read the story so far on Royal Road
*
Chapter Eleven - The Room of Doors
‘Get moving!’
Sara watched the men readying their horses, squinting at the brightness of the stone. The courtyard was full of the sound of boot-steps and creaking leather. Overhead, a thin veil of rippled grey hung over the early winter sky, and the dawn sun tugged gleaming at its edges. Overhead, the dull black shape of an old stormtower bled the sky. Empty, just like the rest of them. There was something very jarring, Sara decided, about the worn jerkins and stubbled cheeks of her father’s men, ensconced in a pillared courtyard of vast stone. They were out of place, and they had been every moment since arriving in Uldoroth, she realised. They didn’t belong here. Her own anxiety was mirrored imperfectly with the relief on their weary faces, and the dark rings under their eyes seemed just a little less deep. There may be Black Hand to deal with, back in the Westmere, but it was home. At least there your enemies had the decency to show themselves. Sara realised she was chewing her lip. At her back, two of the Black Guard waited wordlessly in their gold-touched armour, much more in keeping with the finery of the courtyard, and everything else in the capital. They were waiting to escort her away to the Queen, unaware they found a girl not so eager for the honour as she had been, just a few days before.
‘Father!’ She called out, spying him across the writhing mass of men in their moss green cloaks, but he seemed not to hear her. He was standing near the arched cloister at the far side of the square, cloaked and ready for travel, in hurried conversation with a shaded figure standing beyond the marble facade. She squinted, trying to make out the other man, but there was nothing but a dark shadow to trace.
‘Well then, M’lady.’ A voice said beside her, and she turned to find Halin looking down at her, a kind smile on his broad face. ‘You’ll be a right proper Princess when I next see you, methinks.’
Sara smiled at him and shook her head sheepishly. ‘Uldoroth is not my home, yet, Halin. I won’t forget.’
‘Be careful you don’t, Lady Sara.’ Halin glanced distrustfully at the Black Guard behind her. ‘Lots of fancy folk here. Fancy folk with fancier lies.’
‘I’ll be careful, Halin.’ She told him seriously.
He smiled again, and the sternness dissolved away from his face.
‘Take care, M’Lady.’ He told her, dipping his head politely. She returned the gesture, dropping into a small curtsy.
‘Look after my father, will you?’
‘Always, M’Lady.’
Halin hurried off into the throng in the square, and Sara watched him go, feeling her the knot in her belly tighten. The conversations with her unexpected visitors had left their mark, a nagging uncertainty gnawing at the excitement that had carried her through her first few uneventful days in the capital. The little comfort she had taken in the presence of her father and his men was a loss she could ill afford. She watched her father’s back, frowning softly to herself. Her thoughts were not what she had imagined, when she had thought of him leaving. A hundred different times, and more. Had she expected tears, grief at the parting? Relief? Instead, there was only the fear, a dull, leaden weight in her belly, clammy-cold as marsh-water.
‘Come on, you whoresons! I want to be on the road before lunch!’ Halin roared, and the men quickened their work. Her father had not moved, still deep in conversation, just out of sight. She peered a little closer, and for a moment the pale sunlight crept over the top of the square, flashing against a colourful doublet marked with a silver brooch. The Fox’s lips barely moved as he spoke from the shadows of the cloister, and her father was scowling. Sara frowned.
‘Mount up!’
The ornate wagon that had been her home all those weeks trundled into the square, then, drawn by a pair of stout horses. Sara saw her father turn reluctantly towards it, striding out into the square. Sara peered past him into the cloister, and for a moment Lord Bywood’s sharp eyes caught hers. Then he smiled, dipping his dark, smooth head, and vanished himself away into the shadows.
‘Father!’
Sara hurried out into the crowded square, leaving her escort behind, darting between the shifting limbs of the horses. Her father turned towards her as she approached, and smiled small smile, in two parts, one weary, one sad.
‘Sara.’
She threw her arms around him and pressed her head against his chest for a moment, and he put an arm around her shoulders. She knew her role, and the knowing of it made her safe for a moment. Then she stepped back, looking up at him.
‘I thought you were going to leave without saying goodbye.’
‘I… There was much preparation to do.’
Sara did not reply. His eyes had that same distance that they had had since they arrived in the capital. Uldoroth had worn at him, as if all the brightness and finery had made his skin dull, eyes darkened like the contrast of shadows in bright sun.
‘Will you write?’
He blinked as she spoke, then smiled, and the tiredness fell away from him for a moment. He took her chin gently in one hand, tilting it up to meet his eyes.
‘Yes, I will write.’ He told her, and she saw again that fierce ambition in his eyes, the look she had known so well on their journey from the Westmere. Swollen around the soft, lazy ease of diminished strength. ‘And I shall expect news in return. The Rose of Westmere will show these fools how a real lady charms.’
Sara smiled and lowered her eyes self-consciously.
‘I… I will not disappoint you, father.’ She said quietly, and found, in spite of herself, that there were tears in her eyes.
‘See that you do not.’ He replied. Then he let go of her chin and climbed quickly into the carriage. He leaned out from the window for a moment, before they were gone, banging a hand against the wooden panels of the door impatiently.
‘Move out!’
‘You heard him!’ Halin bellowed in response, holding his horse in check beneath him. ‘Back to Westmere, before your wives go straying!’
With that, her father’s men spurred their horses away into the white corridors of the citadel, bound for the sky-cages and the city below. They had arrived on foot, leading their steeds, but they left by horseback, hurried by grave purpose towards the long road west. She watched the window of the carriage as it trundled away with the horses, but her father did not appear again. She stayed there, staring after them, until the party were out of sight and the great gate of the keep heaved closed behind them, slamming into the distant stone with a resounding thud.
‘M’Lady.’
She turned to find the Black Guard waiting, watching her with dark eyes through the narrow slits of their polished helms. For a moment, the suddenness of the departure threatened to overwhelm her. What was it he had told her, slurring over his unfinished dinner, in the pristine perfection of their lodgings, surrounded by invisible eyes? Power belongs to the strong. To those who take it. Just then, standing in the courtyard, watching alone as her father departed, she realised that he was right. And he wasn’t strong enough. She took a deep breath, smiling for the Black Guard, and followed them out of the ancient courtyard into the halls beyond.
*
The broad, open avenues and garden-ways of the Keep of Eranor closed in to interior corridors rather quickly, when you knew the way, and soon Sara was following her black-gilded escort through pale passageways lined with statuettes and tapestries, ceilings lost far overhead to the flickering light of amber flames. An occasional glimpse of pale sunlight leaped out across the stone floor, shimmering through shifting motes of dust. Sara was her Lady-self again, graceful and poised, gliding over the polished floor after her escort. The giant corridors were a maze of twists and turns, past fragment-views of gardens and libraries and sitting-halls and galleries, but she was dimly aware they were moving towards the Hall of the King. The thought made her a little giddy.
‘Will I be received in the King’s Hall?’ She asked as they walked, but the Black Guards didn’t reply, and their armour clinked in the quiet. Sara frowned, following them. The passage curved, rising, and she found that the wall on her right side suddenly gave way to the hall below. One of the galleries, set high in the rafters of the King’s Hall. She stopped, putting her hand on the balustrade and peering out over the ledge, into the vaulted, silent emptiness of the hall. Some fifty foot below, the patterned black and white marble of the floor gleamed in flashes of reflected amber, quiet and empty. At the far end, pale sunlight caught the Night Throne, setting fire in the mirrored stone. Overhead, the matching nightglass ceiling gleamed like a lake in starlight, and swirling figures swept back and forth across it in the shifting light of the chamber. Sara felt a little thrill run over her neck.
‘Sara.’
Sara blinked, starting, and found Dana standing beside her.
‘Sister!’ Sara took hold of her sister’s hands and rose onto her tiptoes, pressing a kiss against her cheek. ‘Here to welcome me into the fold?’
She was struck again by the strangeness of her sister, the difference in her. Dana wore black, a dress of simple lines and inlaid jet, at once relaxed and taut as a lute string. Her pale hands were folded over her belly, and her muddy dark hair was pulled back into a bun. The Black Guards halted behind her, waiting.
‘I am to escort you to the Queen’s chambers.’ Dana said simply. With that she turned and began to walk away along the balcony, towards a closed door at the throne-end of the hall. Sara frowned, hurrying after her.
‘Do the King and Queen not share chambers?’ She asked as they walked, and the hall below drew on beside them.
‘Their Majesties prefer… to keep their own space.’
The Black Guard fell into step at a respectful distance behind them, armoured heels clicking against the stone.
‘How many others are there?’
‘How many what?’
‘Handmaidens. How many does her Majesty keep?’
Dana did not break stride. ‘Two others, and the Matron.’
‘I suppose we shall not have servants of our own.’ Sara said quietly, eyeing the shadows shifting over the nightglass ceiling. ‘No need to spy on us when we are so close.’
‘Sara-’ Dana began, but Sara cut her off.
‘Father is gone, you know. This morning.’
‘I know.’ Dana replied, looking ahead.
‘You did not come to see him.’
Dana did not turn.
‘I’m sure he will miss you terribly, sister.’
Sara bristled suddenly, grabbing her sister’s arm.
‘I did not ask for it!’
Dana looked down at the hand on her arm, frowning. ‘What?’
‘Any of it!’ Sara told her, angry now, her whisper cracking. ‘I didn’t ask to stay. I didn’t ask him to send you away. I would have given anything to go with you. I thought he would never let me leave.’ She lowered her voice, flicking an eye back towards the waiting guards. ‘I did not ask for the way he… the way he…’
She took a breath, swallowing, and straightened, looking her sister in the eye.
‘There are worse things than being ignored, Dana.’
Dana’s hand folded over hers.
‘Let’s… let’s put it behind us.’ She said quietly. ‘You are here, now.’
Sara blinked at her, nodding. She wanted to say more, but her words would not come, locked away from her tongue by the choked gulping of her breath. She lowered her eyes, and Dana squeezed her hand.
‘Sara, listen to me.’ Dana murmured, leaning close. ‘You must be careful. The Queen-’
The door at the far end of the gallery swung open, creaking on its hinges. The pair fell silent, frozen, and whatever Dana might have said, she held instead.
*
‘Wait here.’
The Matron, the head of the Queen’s Keepers, was an elderly woman with rounding hips and hair the colour of ash tied into a tight bun behind the worn-leather creases of her forehead. She was wearing black, same as Dana, though her smock was somehow plainer, when she opened the door onto the gallery, ushering the sisters wordlessly into the corridor beyond. Dana had bowed her head deferentially, withering under the Matron’s hard eyes, and quickly disappeared into one of the many doors of the hallway. Sara almost asked for her to stay, but instead she steeled herself, remembering her lessons, and followed the stern old woman down the long, flickering hallway. The corridors of the keep were all severe, all lit by weak, flickering torchlight and gleaming the gleam of cold stone, but here they were particularly bare. There were no busts, no tapestries, no mosaics. Nothing but cold, dead rock, lent a little life by the dim thrustings of infrequent braziers. In her own apartments, she had understood the quiet, but here, in the keep proper, there was an eery silence to the corridors that jarred with Sara’s anticipation. Where were the nobles in their gay clothes, where was the music and laughter of a King’s Hall? Sara frowned to herself, and kept walking.
The room at the end of the hallway was broad and rounded, like a kind of circle made out of many flat edges, each holding the low light of a brazier. The marble floors were black and white and patterned like a gamesboard, empty but for a broad nightwood table at its centre, matching the room itself for its odd roundness. On the far side, a wall of shutters opened out onto a large, bare balcony, and over the intricately wrought stone balustrade, Sara could see the City of the Moon below, sweeping away towards the edge of the Heartspire, empty stormtowers stabbing black into the sky. Beyond, the great emerald plains of Valia stretched out into the west, past the fiery line of the river Arq, scored with jagged, dark rock and silver streams. Sara swallowed, realising she’d never been so high up.
‘Wait here.’
‘But-‘ She protested, frowning, but the Matron was already gone, turned on her heel and disappeared back the way she had come. Sara flinched as the door slammed shut behind her, and the silence of the room prickled at her skin. The breeze rustled over the balcony, swirling about the pillared windows, but the air inside was still as the grave. She stepped slowly over to the table, touching the polished wood. This much nightwood would have cost more than a wagonload of gold. She traced the knotted lines across the black surface, trying to ignore the cold weight churning in her gut.
Time stretched on around her, and the minutes dragged by like years. Despite the open air flooding through the windows, the chamber was not cool, warmed by the subtle glow of the braziers, and she felt a little wetness beginning to build under her arms. She looked about herself, trying to calm her heart. There were four other doors in the room, besides the one they had entered through, all dark and heavy looking, and each bore a pattern of silver on its face. There was a cradle, and opposite it, a pendant with teeth like a wolf. Beside the cradle door, a small drinks table, a glass jug of purple wine atop it, with a pair of matching glasses. The two doors closest to the balcony bore a sun and a crescent moon. She looked a little closer, and realised that the markings were not moonsilver, merely an imitation in gleaming silver paint, and the door she had entered through bore no markings at all. Sara watched them, imagining the rooms that lay behind each. Which one was the Queen behind, she wondered, and her heart quickened at the thought, stomach churning. She was stranded, here, now, in the capital. What if the Queen didn’t like her? What if she said something wrong? Would she be sent away again, back to her father?
‘Lady Westmere.’
The crescent moon had swung open, and the Queen glided through, a beautiful shadow in a studded black dress, arms glistening with little sharpened sequins the colour of midnight. Her hair had been contorted into an elaborate maze of raven curls over her pate, and her pale skin took on a translucent sheen in the pale light from the balcony doors. The throat of her dress was open, as it had been in the King’s Hall all those days ago, and she wore the same golden necklace, its myriad points sharp like daggers with their drops of ruby blood.
Sara blinked, then remembered herself, and dropped into a low curtsy, bowing her head.
‘Your Majesty.’ She said quietly, keeping her eyes on the floor.
The Queen did not reply. Sara was dimly aware of her shadow moving across the floor, crossing to the drinks table beside the cradle door. Sara risked a glance up, then, and found the Queen’s slender back to her. When she at last turned, she had a glass goblet of wine clutched in her narrow fingers. Sara lowered her eyes again.
‘You are a pretty one, aren’t you.’ The Queen said quietly, as if to herself. Her voice was cold, like ice leaking over lakewater, deep and still. She took a sip from her cup, and Sara could feel the cut of her eyes against her skin. ‘What did the Weasel of Westmere do to sire such a pretty daughter. Your sister, maybe, I understand, but you…’
Sara forced herself not to frown.
‘Well trained, I see.’ The Queen murmured, smiling coldly. She took another sip of her wine. ‘Your mother’s touch, I assume, not your father’s.’
Sara hesitated. She glanced up at the Queen, then lowered her eyes again, nodding.
‘I hear she is unwell.’
Sara looked up again, braver this time, and found the Queen’s dark eyes watching her over the rim of her glass.
‘She has an affliction, Your Majesty. She does not eat, and rarely sleeps. The Keepers say it is a disease of her mind.’
‘The one thing none of us can escape.’ The Queen sighed, toying idly with her glass and looking out of the window over the city below. ‘Still, there are worse places to be sickly than a Lord’s hall.’
‘I suppose… I suppose that is true, Your Majesty.’
The Queen raised an eyebrow. ‘Suppose, do you?’
Sara squirmed for a moment under the weight of her eyes, but then the Queen turned away, stepping slowly around the edge of the table till she was standing beside the open windows. She took another sip of her wine, back to Sara again.
‘Your sister met you, this morning.’
Sara hesitated, thrown for a moment by the abruptness of the statement.
‘Yes, Your Majesty.’
‘And she came to you yesterday, in the apartments Bywood found for you.’
‘Yes.’ Sara felt the cold weight return in her belly. She thought of what the Fox had warned her. There is always someone watching. She cast her mind back to her conversations with Dana. Gods. What had they spoken of? Had she said something out of turn?
‘Curious, that she did not seek out your father.’
Sara let out her breath slowly. That was not a particularly well-hidden curiosity.
‘Dana must have been very busy, Your Majesty.’
‘She is as busy as I make her, and that is rarely too taxing.’
Sara sighed. ‘They have… sometimes not seen eye to eye.’
‘And you?’ The Queen turned as she spoke, fixing her eyes to Sara’s again. Behind her, the distant sounds of the city drifted lazily up through the air, swirling around far-off columns of wispy smoke. ‘What do you say of him?’
Sara hesitated again, stuttering. ‘He is my father, Your Majesty. I trust that he always knows what is best for his daughters.’
‘In my experience it is fathers who know the least about their own daughters.’ The Queen replied dryly, sipping again. ‘Come, let me look at you, then.’
She came back around the nightwood table, her long, narrow limbs gliding over the polished floor, and stopped in front of Sara, setting her glass down beside them. She took Sara’s chin in two spindly fingers and tilted it upwards so that she was looking her in the eye, only a few inches from her face. Sara realised again how tall she was, as tall as her father, at least, though her slender frame made her seem much smaller. She tried not to squirm, but she found that the Queen’s fingers dug uncomfortably into her chin, dark eyes flitting back and forth across her face like a hungry wolf.
‘Yes, very pretty.’ She said at last, not releasing her chin. Sara could feel her breath on her face, smelling softly of dark wine. ‘No wonder. You look like her, you know.’
‘Who-‘ but the Queen had already turned away, back to the table, picking up her wineglass in one bone-stretched hand.
‘The Matron will meet you outside. She will give you your tasks and show you to your chamber. You will begin tomorrow.’
Sara flinched, realising she had been holding her breath. She curtsied to the Queen’s back, suddenly a little giddy.
‘Thank you, Your Majesty.’
‘You may go, girl.’
Sara turned to go, not at all sure what to make of the encounter. She paused at the door, looking back over her shoulder, but found the Queen looking out over the city silently again, wineglass in hand, black dress glistening with jet. Sara hesitated a moment longer, then hurried out into the corridor beyond the unmarked door, closing it behind her.
*
The night before her father leaves, she wakes in darkness.
She does not open her eyes, but she knows it is not yet dawn. The sounds of the garden beyond her shutters are soft and murmuring, wind-stirred and drip-spotted.
She can feel him over her, the tense stillness of him, closer than shadows. He smells of wine. Sweat. She is cold, but she does not move. She dares not move. She can feel the weight of his eyes, dulled with drink, tracing the lines of her. His breathing sounds like anger.
She does not know how long she waits there, frozen. But she does not open her eyes. Not once. Time stretches out before her in that moment, an eternity of breathless terror.
Then he leaves. The smell of him lingers long after the door has closed behind him. She lays there a while longer, motionless, dead as stone. Then she curls into her own arms, and weeps silently until the dawn.
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2023.05.29 17:33 TheScribe_1 [The Book of the Chosen] - Chapter Eleven - The Room of Doors

Series Page - Read 10 weeks ahead on Patreon - Read the story so far on Royal Road
*
Chapter Eleven - The Room of Doors

‘Get moving!’
Sara watched the men readying their horses, squinting at the bright-ness of the stone. The courtyard was full of the sound of boot-steps and creaking leather. Overhead, a thin veil of rippled grey hung over the early winter sky, and the dawn sun tugged gleaming at its edges. Over-head, the dull black shape of an old stormtower bled the sky. Empty, just like the rest of them. There was something very jarring, Sara de-cided, about the worn jerkins and stubbled cheeks of her father’s men, ensconced in a pillared courtyard of vast stone. They were out of place, and they had been every moment since arriving in Uldoroth, she real-ised. They didn’t belong here. Her own anxiety was mirrored imper-fectly with the relief on their weary faces, and the dark rings under their eyes seemed just a little less deep. There may be Black Hand to deal with, back in the Westmere, but it was home. At least there your ene-mies had the decency to show themselves. Sara realised she was chew-ing her lip. At her back, two of the Black Guard waited wordlessly in their gold-touched armour, much more in keeping with the finery of the courtyard, and everything else in the capital. They were waiting to es-cort her away to the Queen, unaware they found a girl not so eager for the honour as she had been, just a few days before.
‘Father!’ She called out, spying him across the writhing mass of men in their moss green cloaks, but he seemed not to hear her. He was standing near the arched cloister at the far side of the square, cloaked and ready for travel, in hurried conversation with a shaded figure stand-ing beyond the marble facade. She squinted, trying to make out the oth-er man, but there was nothing but a dark shadow to trace.
‘Well then, M’lady.’ A voice said beside her, and she turned to find Halin looking down at her, a kind smile on his broad face. ‘You’ll be a right proper Princess when I next see you, methinks.’
Sara smiled at him and shook her head sheepishly. ‘Uldoroth is not my home, yet, Halin. I won’t forget.’
‘Be careful you don’t, Lady Sara.’ Halin glanced distrustfully at the Black Guard behind her. ‘Lots of fancy folk here. Fancy folk with fan-cier lies.’
‘I’ll be careful, Halin.’ She told him seriously.
He smiled again, and the sternness dissolved away from his face.
‘Take care, M’Lady.’ He told her, dipping his head politely. She re-turned the gesture, dropping into a small curtsy.
‘Look after my father, will you?’
‘Always, M’Lady.’
Halin hurried off into the throng in the square, and Sara watched him go, feeling her the knot in her belly tighten. The conversations with her unexpected visitors had left their mark, a nagging uncertainty gnawing at the excitement that had carried her through her first few uneventful days in the capital. The little comfort she had taken in the presence of her father and his men was a loss she could ill afford. She watched her father’s back, frowning softly to herself. Her thoughts were not what she had imagined, when she had thought of him leaving. A hundred dif-ferent times, and more. Had she expected tears, grief at the parting? Re-lief? Instead, there was only the fear, a dull, leaden weight in her belly, clammy-cold as marsh-water.
‘Come on, you whoresons! I want to be on the road before lunch!’ Halin roared, and the men quickened their work. Her father had not moved, still deep in conversation, just out of sight. She peered a little closer, and for a moment the pale sunlight crept over the top of the square, flashing against a colourful doublet marked with a silver brooch. The Fox’s lips barely moved as he spoke from the shadows of the cloister, and her father was scowling. Sara frowned.
‘Mount up!’
The ornate wagon that had been her home all those weeks trundled into the square, then, drawn by a pair of stout horses. Sara saw her fa-ther turn reluctantly towards it, striding out into the square. Sara peered past him into the cloister, and for a moment Lord Bywood’s sharp eyes caught hers. Then he smiled, dipping his dark, smooth head, and van-ished himself away into the shadows.
‘Father!’
Sara hurried out into the crowded square, leaving her escort behind, darting between the shifting limbs of the horses. Her father turned to-wards her as she approached, and smiled small smile, in two parts, one weary, one sad.
‘Sara.’
She threw her arms around him and pressed her head against his chest for a moment, and he put an arm around her shoulders. She knew her role, and the knowing of it made her safe for a moment. Then she stepped back, looking up at him.
‘I thought you were going to leave without saying goodbye.’
‘I… There was much preparation to do.’
Sara did not reply. His eyes had that same distance that they had had since they arrived in the capital. Uldoroth had worn at him, as if all the brightness and finery had made his skin dull, eyes darkened like the contrast of shadows in bright sun.
‘Will you write?’
He blinked as she spoke, then smiled, and the tiredness fell away from him for a moment. He took her chin gently in one hand, tilting it up to meet his eyes.
‘Yes, I will write.’ He told her, and she saw again that fierce ambi-tion in his eyes, the look she had known so well on their journey from the Westmere. Swollen around the soft, lazy ease of diminished strength. ‘And I shall expect news in return. The Rose of Westmere will show these fools how a real lady charms.’
Sara smiled and lowered her eyes self-consciously.
‘I… I will not disappoint you, father.’ She said quietly, and found, in spite of herself, that there were tears in her eyes.
‘See that you do not.’ He replied. Then he let go of her chin and climbed quickly into the carriage. He leaned out from the window for a moment, before they were gone, banging a hand against the wooden panels of the door impatiently.
‘Move out!’
‘You heard him!’ Halin bellowed in response, holding his horse in check beneath him. ‘Back to Westmere, before your wives go stray-ing!’
With that, her father’s men spurred their horses away into the white corridors of the citadel, bound for the sky-cages and the city below. They had arrived on foot, leading their steeds, but they left by horse-back, hurried by grave purpose towards the long road west. She watched the window of the carriage as it trundled away with the horses, but her father did not appear again. She stayed there, staring after them, until the party were out of sight and the great gate of the keep heaved closed behind them, slamming into the distant stone with a resounding thud.
‘M’Lady.’
She turned to find the Black Guard waiting, watching her with dark eyes through the narrow slits of their polished helms. For a moment, the suddenness of the departure threatened to overwhelm her. What was it he had told her, slurring over his unfinished dinner, in the pristine per-fection of their lodgings, surrounded by invisible eyes? Power belongs to the strong. To those who take it. Just then, standing in the courtyard, watching alone as her father departed, she realised that he was right. And he wasn’t strong enough. She took a deep breath, smiling for the Black Guard, and followed them out of the ancient courtyard into the halls beyond.
*
The broad, open avenues and garden-ways of the Keep of Eranor closed in to interior corridors rather quickly, when you knew the way, and soon Sara was following her black-gilded escort through pale pas-sageways lined with statuettes and tapestries, ceilings lost far overhead to the flickering light of amber flames. An occasional glimpse of pale sunlight leaped out across the stone floor, shimmering through shifting motes of dust. Sara was her Lady-self again, graceful and poised, glid-ing over the polished floor after her escort. The giant corridors were a maze of twists and turns, past fragment-views of gardens and libraries and sitting-halls and galleries, but she was dimly aware they were mov-ing towards the Hall of the King. The thought made her a little giddy.
‘Will I be received in the King’s Hall?’ She asked as they walked, but the Black Guards didn’t reply, and their armour clinked in the quiet. Sara frowned, following them. The passage curved, rising, and she found that the wall on her right side suddenly gave way to the hall be-low. One of the galleries, set high in the rafters of the King’s Hall. She stopped, putting her hand on the balustrade and peering out over the ledge, into the vaulted, silent emptiness of the hall. Some fifty foot be-low, the patterned black and white marble of the floor gleamed in flashes of reflected amber, quiet and empty. At the far end, pale sun-light caught the Night Throne, setting fire in the mirrored stone. Over-head, the matching nightglass ceiling gleamed like a lake in starlight, and swirling figures swept back and forth across it in the shifting light of the chamber. Sara felt a little thrill run over her neck.
‘Sara.’
Sara blinked, starting, and found Dana standing beside her.
‘Sister!’ Sara took hold of her sister’s hands and rose onto her tip-toes, pressing a kiss against her cheek. ‘Here to welcome me into the fold?’
She was struck again by the strangeness of her sister, the difference in her. Dana wore black, a dress of simple lines and inlaid jet, at once relaxed and taut as a lute string. Her pale hands were folded over her belly, and her muddy dark hair was pulled back into a bun. The Black Guards halted behind her, waiting.
‘I am to escort you to the Queen’s chambers.’ Dana said simply. With that she turned and began to walk away along the balcony, to-wards a closed door at the throne-end of the hall. Sara frowned, hurry-ing after her.
‘Do the King and Queen not share chambers?’ She asked as they walked, and the hall below drew on beside them.
‘Their Majesties prefer… to keep their own space.’
The Black Guard fell into step at a respectful distance behind them, armoured heels clicking against the stone.
‘How many others are there?’
‘How many what?’
‘Handmaidens. How many does her Majesty keep?’
Dana did not break stride. ‘Two others, and the Matron.’
‘I suppose we shall not have servants of our own.’ Sara said quietly, eyeing the shadows shifting over the nightglass ceiling. ‘No need to spy on us when we are so close.’
‘Sara-’ Dana began, but Sara cut her off.
‘Father is gone, you know. This morning.’
‘I know.’ Dana replied, looking ahead.
‘You did not come to see him.’
Dana did not turn.
‘I’m sure he will miss you terribly, sister.’
Sara bristled suddenly, grabbing her sister’s arm.
‘I did not ask for it!’
Dana looked down at the hand on her arm, frowning. ‘What?’
‘Any of it!’ Sara told her, angry now, her whisper cracking. ‘I didn’t ask to stay. I didn’t ask him to send you away. I would have given any-thing to go with you. I thought he would never let me leave.’ She low-ered her voice, flicking an eye back towards the waiting guards. ‘I did not ask for the way he… the way he…’
She took a breath, swallowing, and straightened, looking her sister in the eye.
‘There are worse things than being ignored, Dana.’
Dana’s hand folded over hers.
‘Let’s… let’s put it behind us.’ She said quietly. ‘You are here, now.’
Sara blinked at her, nodding. She wanted to say more, but her words would not come, locked away from her tongue by the choked gulping of her breath. She lowered her eyes, and Dana squeezed her hand.
‘Sara, listen to me.’ Dana murmured, leaning close. ‘You must be careful. The Queen-’
The door at the far end of the gallery swung open, creaking on its hinges. The pair fell silent, frozen, and whatever Dana might have said, she held instead.
*
‘Wait here.’
The Matron, the head of the Queen’s Keepers, was an elderly wom-an with rounding hips and hair the colour of ash tied into a tight bun behind the worn-leather creases of her forehead. She was wearing black, same as Dana, though her smock was somehow plainer, when she opened the door onto the gallery, ushering the sisters wordlessly in-to the corridor beyond. Dana had bowed her head deferentially, wither-ing under the Matron’s hard eyes, and quickly disappeared into one of the many doors of the hallway. Sara almost asked for her to stay, but instead she steeled herself, remembering her lessons, and followed the stern old woman down the long, flickering hallway. The corridors of the keep were all severe, all lit by weak, flickering torchlight and gleaming the gleam of cold stone, but here they were particularly bare. There were no busts, no tapestries, no mosaics. Nothing but cold, dead rock, lent a little life by the dim thrustings of infrequent braziers. In her own apartments, she had understood the quiet, but here, in the keep proper, there was an eery silence to the corridors that jarred with Sara’s anticipation. Where were the nobles in their gay clothes, where was the music and laughter of a King’s Hall? Sara frowned to herself, and kept walking.
The room at the end of the hallway was broad and rounded, like a kind of circle made out of many flat edges, each holding the low light of a brazier. The marble floors were black and white and patterned like a gamesboard, empty but for a broad nightwood table at its centre, matching the room itself for its odd roundness. On the far side, a wall of shutters opened out onto a large, bare balcony, and over the intricate-ly wrought stone balustrade, Sara could see the City of the Moon be-low, sweeping away towards the edge of the Heartspire, empty stormtowers stabbing black into the sky. Beyond, the great emerald plains of Valia stretched out into the west, past the fiery line of the river Arq, scored with jagged, dark rock and silver streams. Sara swallowed, realising she’d never been so high up.
‘Wait here.’
‘But-‘ She protested, frowning, but the Matron was already gone, turned on her heel and disappeared back the way she had come. Sara flinched as the door slammed shut behind her, and the silence of the room prickled at her skin. The breeze rustled over the balcony, swirling about the pillared windows, but the air inside was still as the grave. She stepped slowly over to the table, touching the polished wood. This much nightwood would have cost more than a wagonload of gold. She traced the knotted lines across the black surface, trying to ignore the cold weight churning in her gut.
Time stretched on around her, and the minutes dragged by like years. Despite the open air flooding through the windows, the chamber was not cool, warmed by the subtle glow of the braziers, and she felt a little wetness beginning to build under her arms. She looked about her-self, trying to calm her heart. There were four other doors in the room, besides the one they had entered through, all dark and heavy looking, and each bore a pattern of silver on its face. There was a cradle, and opposite it, a pendant with teeth like a wolf. Beside the cradle door, a small drinks table, a glass jug of purple wine atop it, with a pair of matching glasses. The two doors closest to the balcony bore a sun and a crescent moon. She looked a little closer, and realised that the markings were not moonsilver, merely an imitation in gleaming silver paint, and the door she had entered through bore no markings at all. Sara watched them, imagining the rooms that lay behind each. Which one was the Queen behind, she wondered, and her heart quickened at the thought, stomach churning. She was stranded, here, now, in the capital. What if the Queen didn’t like her? What if she said something wrong? Would she be sent away again, back to her father?
‘Lady Westmere.’
The crescent moon had swung open, and the Queen glided through, a beautiful shadow in a studded black dress, arms glistening with little sharpened sequins the colour of midnight. Her hair had been contorted into an elaborate maze of raven curls over her pate, and her pale skin took on a translucent sheen in the pale light from the balcony doors. The throat of her dress was open, as it had been in the King’s Hall all those days ago, and she wore the same golden necklace, its myriad points sharp like daggers with their drops of ruby blood.
Sara blinked, then remembered herself, and dropped into a low curt-sy, bowing her head.
‘Your Majesty.’ She said quietly, keeping her eyes on the floor.
The Queen did not reply. Sara was dimly aware of her shadow mov-ing across the floor, crossing to the drinks table beside the cradle door. Sara risked a glance up, then, and found the Queen’s slender back to her. When she at last turned, she had a glass goblet of wine clutched in her narrow fingers. Sara lowered her eyes again.
‘You are a pretty one, aren’t you.’ The Queen said quietly, as if to herself. Her voice was cold, like ice leaking over lakewater, deep and still. She took a sip from her cup, and Sara could feel the cut of her eyes against her skin. ‘What did the Weasel of Westmere do to sire such a pretty daughter. Your sister, maybe, I understand, but you…’
Sara forced herself not to frown.
‘Well trained, I see.’ The Queen murmured, smiling coldly. She took another sip of her wine. ‘Your mother’s touch, I assume, not your fa-ther’s.’
Sara hesitated. She glanced up at the Queen, then lowered her eyes again, nodding.
‘I hear she is unwell.’
Sara looked up again, braver this time, and found the Queen’s dark eyes watching her over the rim of her glass.
‘She has an affliction, Your Majesty. She does not eat, and rarely sleeps. The Keepers say it is a disease of her mind.’
‘The one thing none of us can escape.’ The Queen sighed, toying idly with her glass and looking out of the window over the city below. ‘Still, there are worse places to be sickly than a Lord’s hall.’
‘I suppose… I suppose that is true, Your Majesty.’
The Queen raised an eyebrow. ‘Suppose, do you?’
Sara squirmed for a moment under the weight of her eyes, but then the Queen turned away, stepping slowly around the edge of the table till she was standing beside the open windows. She took another sip of her wine, back to Sara again.
‘Your sister met you, this morning.’
Sara hesitated, thrown for a moment by the abruptness of the state-ment.
‘Yes, Your Majesty.’
‘And she came to you yesterday, in the apartments Bywood found for you.’
‘Yes.’ Sara felt the cold weight return in her belly. She thought of what the Fox had warned her. There is always someone watching. She cast her mind back to her conversations with Dana. Gods. What had they spoken of? Had she said something out of turn?
‘Curious, that she did not seek out your father.’
Sara let out her breath slowly. That was not a particularly well-hidden curiosity.
‘Dana must have been very busy, Your Majesty.’
‘She is as busy as I make her, and that is rarely too taxing.’
Sara sighed. ‘They have… sometimes not seen eye to eye.’
‘And you?’ The Queen turned as she spoke, fixing her eyes to Sara’s again. Behind her, the distant sounds of the city drifted lazily up through the air, swirling around far-off columns of wispy smoke. ‘What do you say of him?’
Sara hesitated again, stuttering. ‘He is my father, Your Majesty. I trust that he always knows what is best for his daughters.’
‘In my experience it is fathers who know the least about their own daughters.’ The Queen replied dryly, sipping again. ‘Come, let me look at you, then.’
She came back around the nightwood table, her long, narrow limbs gliding over the polished floor, and stopped in front of Sara, setting her glass down beside them. She took Sara’s chin in two spindly fingers and tilted it upwards so that she was looking her in the eye, only a few inches from her face. Sara realised again how tall she was, as tall as her father, at least, though her slender frame made her seem much smaller. She tried not to squirm, but she found that the Queen’s fingers dug un-comfortably into her chin, dark eyes flitting back and forth across her face like a hungry wolf.
‘Yes, very pretty.’ She said at last, not releasing her chin. Sara could feel her breath on her face, smelling softly of dark wine. ‘No wonder. You look like her, you know.’
‘Who-‘ but the Queen had already turned away, back to the table, picking up her wineglass in one bone-stretched hand.
‘The Matron will meet you outside. She will give you your tasks and show you to your chamber. You will begin tomorrow.’
Sara flinched, realising she had been holding her breath. She curt-sied to the Queen’s back, suddenly a little giddy.
‘Thank you, Your Majesty.’
‘You may go, girl.’
Sara turned to go, not at all sure what to make of the encounter. She paused at the door, looking back over her shoulder, but found the Queen looking out over the city silently again, wineglass in hand, black dress glistening with jet. Sara hesitated a moment longer, then hurried out into the corridor beyond the unmarked door, closing it behind her.
*
The night before her father leaves, she wakes in darkness.
She does not open her eyes, but she knows it is not yet dawn. The sounds of the garden beyond her shutters are soft and murmuring, wind-stirred and drip-spotted.
She can feel him over her, the tense stillness of him, closer than shadows. He smells of wine. Sweat. She is cold, but she does not move. She dares not move. She can feel the weight of his eyes, dulled with drink, tracing the lines of her. His breathing sounds like anger.
She does not know how long she waits there, frozen. But she does not open her eyes. Not once. Time stretches out before her in that mo-ment, an eternity of breathless terror.
Then he leaves. The smell of him lingers long after the door has closed behind him. She lays there a while longer, motionless, dead as stone. Then she curls into her own arms, and weeps silently until the dawn.
submitted by TheScribe_1 to HFY [link] [comments]


2023.05.29 17:26 Kindly-Ad1514 Shoulder surgery

So right after my shoulder surgery about 4 weeks into it I started having sharp pectorial pain. This was odd because I did hurt this pec at one point had a mri done and they found nothing. However it feels like right after my shoulder surgery that my doctor may have tore some of my pec during the surgery. The reason I know this is because I tore my left one and know what it feels like. I was wondering if anyone after should surgery had pectorial pain and felt like a partial tear?
submitted by Kindly-Ad1514 to surgery [link] [comments]


2023.05.29 17:15 Dewgong444 The Khornumverate (3 Khorne LoW Demon Engines) returns from BAO with their Primarch

As we near the end of 9th edition, which will certainly go down as one of the editions of all time, I figured it'd be best to go out with a bang. To roll out the big guns. To really bring the biggest (and therefore best) models I have to the table. So I made a Word Bearers list with all 3 Khorne LoW Demon Engines, and showed it to my team. One of whom asked me if Angron would fit if it were World Eaters. I was obliged to answer yes, as there is technically a legal list there. So I made it. I told my teammate it might be the most ridiculous list I ever made. The team then strong-armed (slightly suggested) me into taking it to BAO. So let's actually see what we got going on here.
World Eaters Arks of Omen Detachment:
That there ladies and gentlemen, is 1 giant amount of 2k points. 4 LoWs, 84W at T8 5++, generating 16 total BTP possible. It is .... legally a list. So that's what we took to BAO. This amalgam of trying to get the least amount of drops possible I suppose. But we're not here to critique lists, we're here to talk about how BAO went. Once again my memory is a mess after a major and I forgot to take pictures to remind myself of how the games went so I apologize in advance for any mistakes and the TL;DR format.
Regarding deployment/reserves, every game had everyone on the board except the berzerkers which went into strategic reserves.
Round 1: Mission - 12 Tear Down Their Icons
Opponent: Dark Eldar w/10-man Court, Djin Blade Archon, Drazhar, 6 MSU kabalites kitted, 13 incubi in 3 units, 5 mandrakes, 2x3 Reavers, 3 raiders, 3 venoms, 2x5 wracks, Precision Blows Succubus
TL;DR: I went first and did some nice plink shooting, while return fire left Angron on 3. We popped some transports on 2, and in return Angron went down while the LoS got dropped to 1. Berzerkers take Drazhar out, most incubi go down to shooting, and the LoS is able to take out the succubus. Some back and forth trading ends with me edging my opponent out on primary, with both of us on fumes at the end.
Result: 81-55 Win for the WE
Round 2: Mission - 22 Conversion
Opponent: World Eaters w/ Invocatus WL, 2x Demon Princes, 10 jackals, 3x5 zerkers w/ Icon + Evi, 3x5 Eightbound, 2x3 Exalted Eightbound, 1x3 + 2x1 spawn, Rhino
TL;DR: I went first but most of my opponent stuff was in reserve or behind a wall, so I was able to pop a rhino and set myself up with the scorpion and LoS protecting Angron while the Kytan runs around my right. He does HI into the scorpion with 5 eightbound and loses 3 to do about half to it. The scorpion will barely hold out next turn when a demon prince joins the party. My LoS helps to hold down the middle while Angron waits to get involved and the Kytan holds run down my right to contest a mid objective. His reserves come in and do work, ripping my off my home and left objective. I will never regain my home objective, but Angron will hold down that left objective against 5 eightbound and 3 exalted eightbound. The LoS will hold down the center while the berzerkers and kytan will eventually make it to his backfield. An unfortunately low score on Bring It Down and Banners will bring my opponent down just below my own score.
Result: 85 -77 Win for the Primarch
Round 3: Mission - 23 Scouring
Opponent: Iron Hands (base) w/ Feirros, Primaris Libby, 3x10 Heavy Intercessors w/ Executors, 5 infiltrators, Character Contemptor w/volkite, Primaris Apothecary, 4 servitors, 6 TH/SS Termies, 6+5 Eradicators w/ Heavy Melta
TL;DR: Turns out a lot of D2 with rerolls hurts. Like a lot. I was just far enough back to not get eradicator'd T1, and some unfortunately aggressive infiltrators provide Angron and his 'No Fall Backsies' a route into 5 eradicators. Angron will be there, killing gravis marines, for THREE ROUNDS as more meat gets sent into the grinder with a 5++, 5+++. Meanwhile my scorpion gets blanked on T2 and my Kytan also falls that turn. A failed berzerker charge into the other eradicators puts me on the back foot, but my salvation arrives when his terminators fail their 4" counter-charge the next turn. The LoS get dropped low, but is able to stick around just long enough to be a massive annoyance. My berzerkers will help tip primary by living the rest of the game on my opponent's right objective. And once again winning primary tips the score in my favor.
Result: 96-68 victory for Angery Ron
Round 4: Mission - 31 Tide of Conviction
Opponent: Word Bearers w/ Ghollax Prince, Master of Possession, Dark Apostle, 2x8 Accursed Cultists, 1x10 melee cultists, Master of Executions, 2x10 Plague Marines w/ everything, 10 Possessed w/ Black Rune, 5 Possessed, 2x1 Venomcrawler, 2 Worthy Offering Brigands
TL;DR: My opponent went first and was able to position well, but only got 5 damage on the LoS with the brigands as they rolled 3 1s on the melta guns round 1. This will be a game-long theme, as none of my LoWs will take melta wounds at any point (except 2 bubonic axes on the scorpion in 4). I get forward to set up early, but the kytan gets ripped apart by 7 possessed with full wound rerolls. Angron and the scorpion will get into them, taking them down to 3 but also removing some accursed cultists while the LoS does its best to drive down the middle. Some berzerkers hold down my right long enough to fend off my opponent. He's able to get his reserved accursed cultists back into my home objective on 4 while the Scorpion eventually fell to plague marines and a Master of Execution doing 12 damage to it and I legitimately though I'd lost the game (sorry my opponent). However, a resurrected Angron made his charge and was able to swap it back to me. Angron was able to hold down my territory on 4 and 5 while the Lord of Skulls and lone spawn take 2 different objectives from my opponent, resulting in a primary score different of 18-4 in Round 5, a 14-point swing entirely dependent on who went 2nd (which is why I do not like this mission). That swing helps propel Angron to a win.
Result: 76-61 victory for best Traitors
(INTERMISSION) I'm in third place after 4 rounds which is quite fun. If you'd like to get off Angron's Wild Ride now and sleep contentedly in my definitely-3rd-place-finish, no one will begrudge you. Live in that dream world.
Round 5: Mission - 32 Death and Zeal
Opponent: Whirlwind Space Wolves w/ Guilliman, Primaris Chappy, 3x10 Wulfen, 2x1 Cyberwolves, 16 total skyclaws w/ the fixings, 10 Desolators I bitched too much about sorry Round 5 opponent
TL;DR: Wulfen hurt real bad and GW's baffling design space where anti-LoS AND double shooting should be nerfed to hell except for 1 datasheet which does both well lead to my demise. In all seriousness, I did get a little overly frisky with the wulfen who promptly ripped Angron limb from limb, and I did get out-maneuvered early on which led to me taking increasingly larger and larger risks as the game got progressively further away from me and my opponent played his role extremely well. Angron and the Kytan went down in 1, Scorpion in 2, LoS in 4, and my opponent lost everything but 9 wulfen and a cyberwolf, but all I had was Angron and 1 berzerker. He was able to just stretch me out and out-primary me by a lot (45-11) leading to my first loss.
Result: 53 - 84 loss to worst Primarch who avenges Nuceria
Round 6: Mission - 33 Secure Missing Artifacts
Opponent: Tau Sept w/ Longstrike, Coldstar, Ethereal, 10 breachers, 10 karnivores, 10 man Strike team, 2x4 Kroot Hounds, Kroot Shaper, Ghostkeel, Riptide, 10man Pathfinder, Piranha, 5 vespid, Sun Shark Bomber, Devilfish, Tidewall Gunrig
TL;DR: The Longstrike goes 'LMAO'. I did get first which was nice, but there was nothing to do other than position well. My opponent was great, played pretty much perfectly (except 1 tiny mistake which didn't end up mattering), and spiked some insane rolls on Longstrike which at that point were more humorous than annoying as the game was well out of hand by then. I'd been dodging the matchup all event, and it was time that fate finally caught up with me. If people want me to give more details on how this went turn-by-turn I can, but I think we all know how this'll turn out.
Result: 45 - 97 predictable (yet fun) result
That's it, I've once again 4-2 in a major for the 4th time IN A ROW (2022 LVO, BAO, SoCal, 2023 BAO), which is nice to get 4 wins but annoying I seemingly can't break through the meta ceiling. I did end up in 18th which is nice (and I was in 3rd at the end of Round 4), but I won't lie, a small part of me really wanted to go 5-1 to mess with Goonhammer's heads when they do their meta review.
submitted by Dewgong444 to WarhammerCompetitive [link] [comments]


2023.05.29 17:14 lonelyronin1 I damaged my kittens trust in me. How do I get it back?

I damaged my kittens trust in me. How do I get it back?
I brought my lovey cuddly kitten home and everything was great. He loved attention and snuggling and adjusted really well to my other cat.
I started to notice over the last couple of months, it seemed like he was pulling away from me. He didn't sit near me on the couch or want to come and sleep in the bed. He would literally walk away if I pet him. Even if I layed down on the floor beside him - not even petting him - he would get up and walk away. I just knew it must have been something I did. I've been thinking about everything over the last 4 months, to the point of tears and think I figured it out.
I wanted to get him used to the carrier and eventually a harness, so I thought short car rides every couple of days would be a good start. No more than 10 minutes at a time. This started when he was 12 weeks old.
I thought he was doing great for the first 4-5, but then the next one it seemed like he wouldn't settle down and I cut it short. This is over 3 -4 weeks. I didn't do anymore until his neuter.
I have worked with animals for 30 years, and have a pretty good handle on animal behavior, but now I'm stumped.
Some quick info-
  • - if I randomly pick him up and put him on my shoulder, he allows neck scratches for a few minutes
  • - he will jump on the bed at the crack of dawn, loudly meow and flop down beside me. It's usually only for a minute and then he jumps away
  • - he will rub only his tail against my leg when standing - he doesn't rub anything at all (including door frames and walls)
  • - he will engage in play, but I had noticed at one point (when I really started noticing him pulling away) that he lost interest in his toys fairly suddenly. Two months later he is slowly starting to pay attention to them again. I thought he was maturing and hormones where changing his behavior.
  • - he is in love with my other cat - I couldn't ask for a better relationship between the two
  • - he came home New Years Day, at 10 weeks. He came from a breeder - I played with both mom, dad and hs siblings. The whole family seemed well adjusted.
  • He will follow me to the studio and sit on the desk when I'm working there - he will even steal my chair once in a while.
Now for things I've tried -
  • - different types of petting - more pressure, not in certain spots, less pressure, just different types
  • - I work from home so will always drop anything if he does show he wants attention. I pick him up, or sit on the floor until he walks away.
  • - lots of one on one play with toys. His engagment with the toys is very short, and usually is my throwing the spring or ball, him running to it and laying down. I then walk to the toy, throw it again then he runs and flops. This is now more excersise for me than him.
  • - he loves certain treats and gets several throughout the day but he has to be standing/sitting on my lap to get them. He is very food motivated, so this isn't a problem
  • - I pay really close attention to his body language and alway stop attention when he is relaxed so he doesn't feel anxious and associates me with happy feelings
I haven't noticed any change in his behavior since I started all these things and it's hard to believe it's only been 4 months. I don't know what else I should do. I feel awful that I ruined what should have been a great kittenhood for him.
What next? ignore him all day and only engage if he come to me? keep going hoping it will get better? Help!
Morty's first day home
submitted by lonelyronin1 to felinebehavior [link] [comments]


2023.05.29 16:56 bimbo_wannabe_ [I Accidentally Joined The Mafia In South Brooklyn] Chapter 6: On The Organizational Habits of Unrested Spirits and The Taste of Demon's Blood, Part 1.

[I Accidentally Joined The Mafia In South Brooklyn] Chapter 6: On The Organizational Habits of Unrested Spirits and The Taste of Demon's Blood, Part 1.
Previous Part: https://www.reddit.com/redditserials/comments/13trg6g/i_accidentally_joined_the_mafia_in_south_brooklyn/?utm_source=share&utm_medium=android_app&utm_name=androidcss&utm_term=1&utm_content=share_button
Becca invited me to her apartment when we made it back, sent me through the alley behind the building to keep the prying eyes at the minimum. That was fine with me as I was a lot more noticeable than I liked to be, at the moment. I had already lit a cigarette by the time she opened the back door of the stairwell to let me in. It was the last in the pack, and I'd only opened it this morning. The temperature on my phone screen had finally hit zero.
"You're gonna have to give me a second, B, I don't wanna smoke around you in your condition but I really need one."
She gave me another watery grin.
"Little too much blood in the nicotine system, huh?"
"Exactly, my young friend, exactly that."
She propped the door open and sat herself down on the ground. I could tell the high heels were starting to hurt her because she kicked them off and set them neatly to the side, though I knew the concrete had to be freezing her feet off. She tucked her skirt between her legs and sat with her back against the wall, her elbow propped on her bent knee, the other leg stretched out straight before her. It was exactly how what was left of Antoni had been sitting beside me less than two hours ago.
I was getting a little tired of all the patterns appearing in my life these days.
I flipped to my news app, as was my habit. There was an article at the top of page about the preparations the SDNY were making to get ready for the coming storm, but frankly I didn't really give a fuck so I just kept scrolling.
"Your old neighborhood is in the news, B."
"You ain't had enough bad news?" Beccs asked with a rueful laugh.
"Eh, I like to stay abreast of current events. I mean, you got me pegged, B. I'm a nosy fuck. But, uh, fifteen years on the inside, you learn that it pays to pay attention to the shit other people don't notice, cause you never know when the information you pick up is going to end up being the information you need."
She gave me a look that said she had to yield to my point.
"So what's the news from Koreatown?".
"Somebody shot a wedding up, apparently. Says seven were killed, including the bride and groom and the bride's father, as they was leaving the reception. You know, most of these names are Rhees. Ain't nobody you know, is it? Kinda feel like you've had enough death for the day, kid."
There was another look on her face, one I couldn't quite read even with all my people-watching prowess.
"Lemme take a wild stab at it. Two of those names are Rhee Seong-Min and Rhee Bong-Cha."
"Yeah," I nodded. "You do know 'em. I'm sorry, B."
She gave a low, almost rumbling, chuckle. It gave me a little shiver, not from the cold, and not one of enjoyment, either. She flashed a sign, one I'd seen her flash before, but it wasn't from any gang I knew personally, and lacking any official affiliation of my own, I'd dealt with my fair share of different gang members in the Upstate Correctional Facility. Double E's, one backwards, one forwards, three quick shakes of each hand.
"God bless old K-town. But you ain't got to worry about it. I'll not shed a tear over any of them. They's family, but they ain't exactly family, you know. I might tell you about it one day."
The last sentence had a note of finality to it, so I didn't ask any further questions in that regard, but I was still as curious as always.
"If all your family has Korean names, how the hell did you end up as Rebecca and your Dad as Sam?"
"My Dad's name is Park Kyung-Sam. Just Sam was easier to tell people and he, uh, he wanted me to have the same benefit of blending in in American society, and he liked the name Rebecca. So, Rhee Rebecca Hyo-Jin. My Mom's name was Rhee Chung-Cha, but everybody just called her ChaCha, like from Grease."
"So your Mom was the Rhee?"
She made an affirmative noise and nodded.
"She didn't exactly wanna give up her family name, and… my Dad didn't exactly give a fuck cause he was in love with her crazy ass. You know, that's where I get this from. Except my Moms, if she was still around she'd make me look like I grew up to be a calm, quiet girl."
I'd hate to see what was worse than Beccs.
"You done?" Becca asked. I nodded, tossed my cigarette into the sand-filled bucket we kept here for just that purpose. I followed B inside and we climbed the stairs to the third floor. I leaned against the wall as she pulled a ring of keys from her coat pocket and waited while she unlocked the knob and the three deadbolts on her door.
"Pretty serious about your home security, B?"
She shot me a look but didn't say anything as she opened the door. A steady beeping greeted us, and Becca stopped just inside and punched in a code on a security panel. As I stepped around her and entered the apartment, I understood why.
Do you know that part in Coming To America where Akeem comes home to his dilapidated Queens apartment and realizes Semmi has filled it with expensive furniture? Well, it was exactly like that. Becca locked the door back behind her, threw her stilettos onto the shoe rack, and hung her coat on the brass tree beside it. I did the same, removed my boots to place them on the rack as well.
"Jesus Christ, B, this place looks amazing."
There was a gray suede sectional in the center of the living room, a 152 inch Panasonic plasma bolted to the wall. The coffee table, the wool Oriental rug beneath it, and the end tables looked antique, as well as the green velvet chaise set near one window. There were three ornately-carved bookcases set against the far wall between the two windows facing the street, one filled with DVDs, and on the other two almost all the books were old and leather bound. The kitchen was open to the room, separated by a butcher block bar from the living room, all matching stainless steel appliances and black marble countertops. All along the walls were family pictures dotted between massive paintings held in golden Baroque style frames.
They were… stunning was the only word I could think to describe them. Most of them were portraits done in a slightly impressionist style, impasto if my memory served me, seemingly random strokes of thick paint that somehow managed to form the perfect images of faces and a few nudes.
"Jesus Christ, these paintings must have cost a fortune alone."
Becca stepped beside me, her arms crossed over her chest as she surveyed the painting I was looking at. It was done in mostly black and red, the image of a sleeping nude man, one arm tucked behind his head, his other draped across his stomach, his hips and legs covered with a sheet. If I touched it, I could have felt the wrinkles in the bunched fabric. There was something oddly familiar about it.
"They didn't cost shit," she answered.
That made me look away from the painting and back to Beccs.
"What the hell? Did you rob a gallery?"
"No, you mook, I painted them. They didn't cost anything but the price of the canvas and the paint, which, you know, I stole most of that from school."
"You painted them," I repeated, looking back.
As I looked closer at the canvas, I realized why it was familiar. The sleeping man was our dear friend Antoni Zabrowska. I had mistaken his tattoos for shadows, though I had to admit I had never seen him look quite so relaxed. As I glanced around the room, I realized I recognized many of the paintings. I was able to pick out her father's face, Rossi's, and I realized the model for the two female nudes was none other than Nia Bianchi. There was one of a woman in white with bloody skeletal wings that bore a strong resemblance to Becca and I imagined that was the infamous ChaCha.
"That's what I go to Columbia for. Visual Arts."
"You're a goddamn genius, B."
She scoffed.
"No, I'm fucking serious, kid. My sister collects art, and she refuses to go for the big names. Shit like this, she pays 10 to 20 grand for a painting half this size, more if it's one of the artists she likes."
Now she snorted.
"What? Your sister got a money tree?"
"No, my older sister Aurie's a writer. She wrote her first book when she was ten. She's published 20 so far, but she's got 30 or 40 more in backlog that she's still tweaking. She's kind of a perfectionist when it comes to writing, but I guess it pays off. Her books sell like fucking hotcakes everytime she puts one out, two of her series got picked up by Netflix, and Lion's Gate turned her seventh book into a movie. She even got to be involved in the productions.
"She's got a penthouse on the Upper East Side that she bought about six years ago. That's where I lived when I got out of the Upstate. Aurora, she's a fucking Saint, you know. I mean, I had a shitty PO that was up my ass every five minutes but Aurie never said a word about it. She just… always told me she was glad I was home, which, you know, was nice to hear considering that according to my grandparents I died 19 years ago. She was the one that helped me get this place down here, paid in full for a two year lease."
Becca raised an eyebrow at me.
"No offense, Tony, I can tell you're crazy about her, but she couldn't have picked a better place for you than this hell hole?"
I laughed as softly as I could, to save the muscles in my stomach.
"I picked this place myself, B. Cheapest apartment I could find in any of the boroughs, and it even had three bedrooms. I was thinking about having space for a library and a home gym."
Becca snorted.
"Yeah, it's cheap cause the fucking place is about 90 years old. Nobody's been able to get a hold of the slumlord who owns it for repairs in 8 months, but I bet you the motherfucker still collects the rent checks we deposit in his fucking bank account every month."
"Yeah, I figured that out just about as soon as I moved in, but beggars can't be choosers. Besides, Antoni always used to help me out whenever something broke."
Becca gave a small smile.
"They did that for everybody. I used to call them the apartment elves, cause instead of making shoes they were skittering around fixing fucking toilets and sinks, and rewiring burned up outlets and bringing in new refrigerators and stoves when shit broke in everybody else's places. And they bought it all with their own money. Everybody tried to pay them, but they never took a dime for any of it. Ironically enough, Pops used to talk about Antoni all the time because of all the money he'd spend over there every week. Said he had a good heart, just no good sense when it came to what was his responsibility and wasn't. You know, I had my own opinions about Antoni's heart, but I kept them to myself."
"I really wish I had paid more attention when Antoni was working on the boiler, though. Instead of just passing him tools and running my mouth."
"Yeah, you're good at that," she replied with a smirk.
"And fuck you, too, Miss Rebecca. You might be the strong type, but you're not exactly silent yourself."
She laughed.
"Make yourself comfortable. I'll be right back."
I nodded and obeyed as she exited into what I saw was the bathroom as she opened the door and closed it behind her.
The sectional was goddamned heaven, and she'd said make myself comfortable so I kicked out the recliner and leaned back. I closed my eyes for a moment and sighed, and when I opened them I nearly jumped out of my skin. I barely managed to stop myself from letting out a yell as I jerked back up to sitting.
Antoni's corpse was standing by the picture wall, looking intently at a photo of a child Becca wearing a ruffled, cream colored dress with a ribbon in her long black hair. It was the picture of her first Communion.
"Goddamn, you can't give somebody a warning before you do that?"
He neither answered me nor turned to look at me because he was using the stumps of his wrists to adjust several of the frames back straight again.
"Fucking neat freak," I laughed. "She wasn't lying."
He finally turned toward me.
You ever seen a corpse try to look annoyed when he's missing about a quarter of his face? I mean, what am I saying, you probably haven't, but suffice to say, it's pretty fucking funny. He raised his left wrist, and if he had hands, he'dve been shooting the bird.
Almost hysterical laughter burst out of me as Becca exited the bathroom.
"Least the pipes ain't frozen yet," she muttered.
She gave me a strange look.
"Who are you talking to out here? And what's so funny?"
I glanced back to Antoni, but he was gone again.
"Don't mind me, B, I'm pretty sure I got a concussion. I'm pretty much seeing pink elephants at this point." Or, you know, the mutilated corpse of my best friend, but it's probably best I leave it at elephants.
"Yeah," she answered, and crossed the room to hand me something. "Speaking of."
It was a mouth guard.
"What is this for?"
She didn't answer me, but headed to the kitchen and opened a cabinet, withdrawing a cut crystal scotch glass and then opening the refrigerator and withdrawing… two bags of blood. Nia's blood, to be exact. She unscrewed the cap at the bottom of one, punctured the seal with a fresh insulin needle, and to my supreme discomfort squeezed some into the glass. The mouth guard suddenly made sense. It was so I wouldn't break my teeth or bite my tongue off when the convulsions started and my jaw locked down from consuming demon blood.
"Oh no, B, I don't want that."
"Yeah. That's why I didn't tell you why I wanted you over here, cause I knew you was gonna be a pussy about it."
I tried one more last-ditch effort.
"You need that more than me, B."
"I can just take my next dose early, but you, you can't go down and see Ma looking like that. She's gonna ask too many questions."
That one stopped me.
"I've had enough of interrogations for one day, B."
"There ain't no interrogation when it comes to Ma. She just puts it in your head that you ain't got no choice but to tell her the truth, and you do. She's made state witnesses get up on the stand and confess their own crimes, pleading the fifth be damned."
She screwed the cap back onto the bag and carried them and the glass over to the coffee table and set them down. She walked over and opened a closet door, pulling out an IV pole with a little box attached to it, and grabbed a small cardboard box from off a shelf and what looked like a tackle box. She set it on the coffee table after she pulled the pole over to the sectional and plugged it into the wall, opened the cardboard box and removed a cassette from inside and inserted it into the box on the pole.
"What's that?"
"It's a blood warmer for rapid transfusions, so I don't go into hypothermia or hemolysis. Little bastard cost 137 thousand, but at least you can buy them online. You put a fresh cassette in every time, the blood runs through it, by the time it gets to my arm it's body temp."
She opened the tackle box and removed two fresh lines, attaching one to the bottom of the warmer and one to the top, hanging the bags of blood but not connecting the first of them yet. The top had a drip chamber with a filter, and the bottom held the flow regulator and the hypodermic needle with the cannula inside.
"You know, it's not fucking fair, B, you shouldn't have dealt with half the shit in your life that you have."
She snorted and her lips pursed with anger as she sat down beside me.
"You sound like Rossi with that shit. That's why he wouldn't let me die, said it wasn't fair. I was ready to go into hospice, fuck it, I was ready to see my Mom again. But I'll tell you the same thing I told his stupid old ass. Life ain't fair. Cause if it was I'd have my mother and my baby's father and Jimmy's ass would be the one laying in the morgue. You think it's fair you almost lost a finger because of what he ordered?"
I laughed.
"No, I actually think that's pretty fair. That's karma, B. I was usually the one doing the beating. How do you think I ended up in prison?"
She looked hard at me for a moment.
"I mean, you never told me. You were pretty open about having gone to prison, but you never said why."
"Well, I learned to be open about it. Some people get real upset when they find out they're dealing with someone who's been through the system, so I didn't really wanna go through that again. So now I just tell people up front, let them decide for themselves if they wanna deal with me or not. That way they can't throw it back in my face, say I lied to them."
Becca let out a bitter chuckle.
"So what's your story?"
"Well, we still ain't finished your story, yet, but we'll take a detour. The whole thing started my Senior year of high school. First game of the year, I blew my knee out, big as a bitch, tore everything there was to tear, shit was basically hanging on by the skin alone. Orthopedics said I had two choices, keep playing football or, retain the ability to walk on that leg, so… there went all my big dreams of college ball and making it onto the Giants."
"Linebacker?"
I nodded. "Middle linebacker. I was good at it. 6'7, 265 pounds but light on my feet, all muscle. Back then I was running 7 percent body fat, and wasn't even trying. Shit just… all came natural to me. It all blew up in my face. Shitloads of surgery and physical therapy, and then one day the pain pills stopped but the pain didn't. Everyday, every night, I was still hurting."
She nodded.
"I know about bone pain. I could always tell when I needed to up the dose when my bones started hurting. When I started out all it took was an insulin needle. Now I take so much, I'm not even sure I qualify as human. But I guess I won't be much longer. That's always been the plan. Just keep me alive till 30 and Ma's gonna make me like her. That's the preferred age for the Entrance, something to do with the Trinity."
I nodded.
"I started asking around school if anyone knew where to get some Percs but pain management keeps that shit so tight I could only get a few at a time. Not only was they expensive, it wasn't enough. I got hooked up with this kid named Alessandro, he told me if I really wanted to control the pain, he could get me something better and cheaper. He took me to meet his uncle, Colombian guy named Marco. First shot is free and it was… it was beautiful. Everybody always gets sick the first time, but I didn't. And then after that, all my free money from my after school job started going to horse, and uh, I got my last six months off school. I already had all the credits I needed from AP classes, started working full time. They didn't piss test. But, my tolerance was rising faster than my income was."
I took a deep breath.
"I'd been buying enough that Marco was offering me fronts but I never took it. So next time I went, I asked him for my usual and I asked how much it would be for two O's on the front, cause I knew a lot of other users and I was thinking of starting to sell myself. So, he told me he'd give me a pound, and we could settle up at the end of the month."
"Jesus Christ, if you were selling a pound a month you must have been making bank."
I shook my head.
"I wasn't in it for the money. I was in it to keep myself supplied. If I kept my prices right, I could use for free, and I had enough left over to pay my portion of the rent and help pay for the groceries. I got good at it, I'd take a shot, and nod out for a few minutes, then get up and start walking the streets."
Becca snorted.
"You wasn't standing on a street corner?"
"Fuck no. Too visible. I did all my business by phone. I had a burner and gave everyone the number, and when they needed some they'd give me a call and I'd meet them or they'd meet me. I had ethics. I used to have people offering me fucking blowjobs for a bag, but I always said no, shit felt wrong. All they had to do was pay me by the end of the month but, sometimes…"
She gave a grin.
"But sometimes, 'Bitch, where's my money?'"
"Yeah, sometimes people would try to skip out, so I had to apply a little pressure to persuade them to pay. I never killed nobody, it's hard as hell to get money out of a dead man. But, black a few eyes and break a few bones and suddenly they had money they didn't before. Being my size, there wasn't many of them that could fight back. But, I fucked up the wrong lowlife.
"There was this prick, he'd been dodging me for weeks. He owed me like two grand, I'd given him that much because I knew he had money, so when I finally caught up to him, I was pretty mad and, the bitch, he told me he wasn't going to pay me. Thought he was better than me, thought he could fuck me and get away with it. So I beat the mortal hell out of him, took his wallet. He had five grand in there but I figured, 3K surcharge for wasting my time."
I shook my head.
"But I should have done some better research on who I was going after. Turned out the little prick had a socialite for a mother and his Daddy was a hedge fund manager and… I'd hurt him pretty bad. First three months, not only was I dealing with DTs, I was waiting to see if they were going to add Murder to my charges. He was in a coma for that long, and when he woke up, he had to learn to walk again, how to feed himself. I beat him so bad I gave him brain damage."
"Goddamn, Tony."
"Apparently his parents knew their son's habits and knew exactly who I was, cause they went straight to the police, and two days later SWAT showed up, turned the house upside down. I smashed my phone into pieces, flushed it so they couldn't get my contacts, but I didn't think about the fact I still had the wallet with his driver's license in it. My grandparents disowned me, right then and there. I had just reupped so they caught me with 14 ounces, all it takes is 8 for Class A felony possession. I spent 13 months in Rikers, but my sister got me a good lawyer, he knew the judge and the prosecutor personally, golfed with them, so he got me a plea deal. I was looking at life in prison, but he argued that I was a good student that had made a bad mistake because of a chronic pain issue, and they were both first offenses, so if I pled guilty, agreed to go through a substance abuse program and anger management, then they'd give me the minimum sentence.
"15 years, Class A Felony Drug Possession, 3 years, Class B felony First Degree Assault, intentionally causing grievous bodily harm while in the commission of another felony. But, at my sentencing, the judge said I was a big guy, with a big anger problem. I hadn't killed anyone, but it wasn't for lack of trying. Said I was a danger to society, so when I got to the UCF, they put me in dark red."
"Supermax?"
I nodded.
"23 hours a day in a box by myself, no visitors, barely saw the guards. But, I stayed quiet, made no problems. Prison was overcrowded so I ended up with a cellmate, and I was glad to see him. It could have been Hannibal Lecter and I would have gave him a hug. He might have been a murderer but he was actually a decent guy. Him and his crew had knocked over some jewelry stores in Manhattan, last job went bad. He'd killed three cops, so he wasn't never getting out. Neither was his wife. Life in Bedford Hills."
"That's where they was gonna send me if Ma hadn't got the jury to give me a Not Guilty verdict."
I knew Becca had a tendency to get in trouble because beside the cheerleading pictures in the bodega, there was also a mugshot.
"What did you do?"
She gave a bitter chuckle again.
"Unlike you, I killed someone. 2021, this fucking crackhead tried to rob the store. He shot the customer that was in there, old guy named Mickey, killed him. He used to live in your apartment. Tried to shoot me, too, but the gun jammed and I had the aluminum baseball bat under the counter. I just started swinging. He went down, but I jumped the counter, and hit him again. Blood lust is a real thing. Once I saw he was bleeding, I wanted to see more. I beat his brains out, literally, he was dead long before the cops ever got there. Bat looked like a toothpick when I was done.
"They arrested me, and the DA himself showed up at my arraignment. Said self defense didn't apply, sent me straight up to Murder 2, requested I be denied bail because I had a passport and plenty of money so I was a flight risk. But we all knew the truth. He was still pissed that he hadn't been able to send Rossi away for longer, and I was the next best thing. Ma had to pull a lot of strings to make sure I still got my transfusions when I was in lockup. I was in Rikers for four months, had my eighteenth birthday sitting in the Singer Unit."
"Goddamned patterns," I muttered, then raised my voice again. "You, me, and Antoni all got that in common, except he wasn't like us. He was already in prison. That's what the rose meant, turned eighteen in prison. Life sentence, triple murder."
"He told you that?" She looked betrayed, so I was quick to answer.
"No, the tattoos told me that. Google is my best friend, B. That's what the skull and crossbones, and the coffins on his arm meant."
She swallowed, and nodded again.
"But, I moved down," I continued. "Went to orange when they moved me to Gen Pop, and I had friends waiting for me. Marco was very appreciative of me keeping quiet about my source at trial, so outside Abuela Bogota's was where I hung out the most. But I had friends all over. My sister was smart. She always put way more in my account than I could spend, so whenever I heard that somebody needed something, I'd go to the canteen and buy it myself and pass it to 'em. Nobody had to owe me shit. All I wanted was to be left alone, so I had people watching my back from all sides. I ended up in blue, got moved to the dormitory, started working in the kitchen, ended up running it, cause I was a 'model prisoner.'"
"You ever fool around with any of your cellmates?" Becca asked with a grin. "Cause I did."
I gave an uncomfortable laugh.
"I mean, yeah. 15 years is a long time to be alone. I don't consider myself bisexual even, but if somebody offers, you know…" I shrugged.
"I think the word you're looking for is heteroflexible. That's how Antoni referred to himself. He had a thing for you, you know."
That stopped me dead.
"You're fucking with me, B."
"Nope. He asked me once if I'd mind if he ever got the chance to hook up with you, and I told him no, as long as he didn't mind I still hooked up with my old girlfriends from high school. But he never asked you, said he loved you too much, was afraid of ruining your friendship."
"Jesus Christ," I shook my head, finally decided I needed time to process that, and moved on. "But, my last year there, Covid hit, and, I volunteered to work in the infirmary, but pretty soon the infirmary was filled, they started keeping people in the hallway, and finally they just ended up leaving them in their beds, I was all over the place. People dropping like flies. Everytime someone coughed or sneezed, everbody'd get nervous. I been smoking since I was 16, so I cough my lungs out every morning.
"People was looking at me like I was Death Incarnate. But I never caught it, not even once. And I was all around the sick, I was taking the bodies out to the truck outside the gate. Could've run but I didn't. Only had a few years left. It worked in my favor. They cut the last three years off my sentence, put me on supervised release and now, here I am, 36 years old, and just starting my adult life."
"Rossi got let out of lockup right before lockdown, poor bastard. Me, him, and my Dad all quarantined at Ma's, but of course, you know, me and Dad was essential workers so at least I got to get out of the house everyday. I graduated early, at 16, been working seven days a week since."
I glanced at the glass on the table.
"So let's get back to your story."
She shook her head, lips pursed again.
"Uh-uh, you're not wasting anymore time. Take the blood, but first," she reached out, quicker than I could even register, and used her thumbs to set my broken nose back straight.
I let out a yell, momentarily unable to see as my eyes filled with tears.
"Jesus wept, Becca, fucking hell, goddamn."
"Sorry. It would've hurt more if you'd known it was coming. Besides, you're a good looking guy, Tony, you don't wanna ruin your face."
"Thanks, B," I muttered as I pressed the toilet paper back to my freshly bleeding nose, tears streaming down my cheeks. "Need a haircut though."
"Nah, you oughta keep it. It's very The Dark Knight Joker, just black, not blonde and green."
I laughed quietly.
"Not sure that's the best association, B. A little too psychotic and violent."
She raised an eyebrow at me.
"Alright, alright. It's probably an accurate association, just a little less arson and murder." I sighed and looked at the scotch glass. "So how do I do this, B?"
"Think about it like a tequila shot. Take the shot and then slip the guard in quick. Then sit back, try to relax."
I nodded and grabbed the glass before I lost my nerve. I raised it in her direction.
"Saluti."
"Geonbae." She responded.
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2023.05.29 16:56 girl_from_the_crypt Stuck on earth and looking for a job: There's something in the caves

I spent the remainder of the evening after the "hike" sorting out my thoughts. Trying to, at any rate. Writing it all down helped, but I was still exhausted and confused.
I woke up in Frankie Preston's bed the following morning. I instantly knew it wasn't mine due to the lack of Dorito crumbs in the sheets. Even so, it took me a while to come to. Once I'd rubbed my eyes and untangled myself from the blanket, I found the man himself sitting upright beside me, fully dressed with his shoes on, presently reading a book. "Morning, Sunshine," he muttered, not looking up. "There's water on the nightstand for you. A muffin, too. I wasn't sure what to get."
I let out an incoherent murmur to which he huffed a laugh and rested his hand on the side of my face. "You were still as a rock, you know."
"I'm sorry for messing up last night," I said, my voice cracked and dry from sleep. "I shouldn't have gone looking for trouble. I should've stayed low and just watched those two."
"What's with that tone? I'm not about to lecture you. I get wanting to take revenge. You did fine as far as I'm concerned. And I think Markov is okay with everything, too. After all, any proceedings against the Collective are highly legitimate now or whatever. Plus, she got that lady cultist in custody now, and she's looking forward to the interrogation. She called and explained it to me on the phone earlier, but I wasn't paying attention." He shrugged to himself and I reached up to tug aside his book's cover. "It's Wuthering Heights," he told me, gently removing my hand. I tried to grab it again, but he pulled it out of my reach. "Oh!" He sounded amused as he finally set the book aside to hug me. "You could have just said something."
"Don't you have to work today?"
"I called in sick. Of course, my six moms know I don't actually get sick so they'll suspect something's up. They're probably gonna be all over me."
"You never get sick?" I inquired.
"No. It's one of the nicer aspects of inhuman nature."
"I'm still not getting any answers on that?"
"Don't worry, you will. Sooner or later."
We went out and took a walk in the park, which was equally weird and nice. It seemed such a normal thing to do. It was a bright, nearly windless day, and the sun shining down on us provided a gentle warmth. The previous days' rain had left the trees heavily laden with drops of water. Occasionally, some would dislodge from the leaves and branches they occupied and plop down on our heads.
I asked Frankie whether he would be alright with checking in on Nettie Peterson together. He chuckled, joking that she would probably just love to see him, but ultimately agreed. Once my best friend was due to be off work, we went around to her house.
Strangely enough, the most drastic changes in other people seem to happen without me really being there to witness them. Kit Sutton had somehow turned into a somewhat responsible roommate without me even noticing. Before I knew it, we had become friends. When my savior human opened the door for us, I felt distinctly reminded of that other development. Nettie, not unlike a butterfly emerging from whatever they call that odd little sleeping bag caterpillars make for themselves, had apparently come out of her dark state of mind all by herself. Her eyes lit up when she saw me and she wheedled us inside with much the same enthusiasm I was used to. She had us sit down in the garden while she tended to her flowers.
I watched her closely. Her skin had regained much of its healthy glow, her hair was washed and shiny, the clothes she wore clean—a flowing blouse, mom jeans and sneakers. She had clearly picked them out with care, like she normally did. It was good to see her restored to her old self, but I couldn't help but feel like something was wrong.
"Are you sure you're okay?" I asked.
"I have to be, don't I?" she replied, her cheerful tone coming out more forced than she'd likely intended. She was cutting away crushed and wilted leaves from one of her small bushes, shaping it in the process. "It's over. Life goes on."
"Does it?" I tilted my head at her.
"Can we talk about anything else? Literally anything?" The snapping movements of her garden shears came faster; more forceful. Frankie Preston and I exchanged uncomfortable looks. Figuring it would make for an interesting topic, I proceeded to tell Nettie about our exploits the night before. Halfway through my story, she had ceased her plant styling activities, blankly staring at me from where she sat on the ground. By the time I was done, she had taken off her rubber gloves and was slowly massaging her temples.
"One of these days, Eva. One of these days, you're gonna give me a heart attack. I don't even want to ask about what you get up to anymore, I think. I'm afraid of the answer." She threw Fran a grateful glance. "Thank you for getting her out of there safely."
The waiter smiled placidly. "Sure." Turning to me, he added in a whisper, "So we're not going to mention that you saved me from the FunFlair guys twice before this?"
I grinned mildly and shook my head before assuming a more serious tone. "Nettie, it's great that you're all better, but you were really down before. If this is just an act, I'd prefer you didn't put it on."
"It's not an act," she said sternly, raising her hands to her hips. "I've resigned myself. That's all. There's nothing to be done, I've accepted it and I've moved on."
"That can't be healthy," Frankie remarked. "You know what would help? Punishing the world in some way. You could take it out on your kindergarteners. Tell them a scary story so their parents have to stay up all night with them. Incite a dirt throwing fight and send them home all muddy. Set up a boxing ring and have them go at each other like in a dog fight. Wouldn't that be far more rewarding than sucking it up?"
Nettie Peterson looked unimpressed. Her dark eyes roamed the young man like she was trying to gauge whether or not he was serious. "You're some kind of sociopath, aren't you?"
That she shouldn't have said. Frankie's serene expression morphed into his customer service smile. I don't know when I started deciphering this being's voice and countenance, but there I was, picking up on the spiteful undertone in what he said next.
"I'm just saying, if the woman I fancied disappeared in such a way, I'd find outlets for my grief." His eyes darted over to Nettie as if to ensure she'd heard him correctly before settling on me, observing my reaction. All I could do however was stare at my best friend.
Her glossy lips had parted. She met my gaze, her thick, expressive brows rising a good deal. "I…" she began, faltering and starting to fumble for words. "That's to say, Kit was… we, um…"
"Oh, Eva didn't know?" Frankie asked, perfectly flat and monotonous. "I had no idea it was a secret. I'm sorry, it wasn't my place to say. I wouldn't have mentioned it, really."
Something about that sent a chill down my spine. I shot him a glare, to which he drew himself up and turned away. Meanwhile, Nettie finally broke from her stupor and blurted out, "We were together, okay?"
For a moment, I sat quietly. “Frank, please go home,” I said at length, not quite looking at him. “We’ll talk later. We will.
He looked like he wanted to say something, but quickly thought better of it, rising to his feet and storming off. Ignoring the queasy feeling in my stomach, I walked over to Nettie and plopped down on the ground beside her. “So that’s what this was about,” I began.
My savior human nodded meekly. “We… we didn’t want to tell you. Not for the time being, at least. We hadn’t defined the relationship yet, i-it was all so new and weird, I felt weird, but it was good, you know? I just wasn’t ready to think about it that way yet. And you’ve only ever seen me date guys, I didn’t know what you’d think…”
“I wouldn’t have thought anything,” I replied. “How long has this been going on?”
“Not long. She called me up before she came back to you a couple weeks ago. That’s kind of when we started seeing each other in… in that way.”
“Romantically?”
“Yes.”
I hesitantly extended a hand to caress her upper arm, locking eyes with her. There was a profound sadness in her expression, a watery gleam. She took a deep breath. “Before that, we used to text back and forth occasionally. I always felt kind of weird about her. Somehow, she got under my skin everytime she was goofing off, what with her little jokes and all. We kept talking, though. I was always so irritated when she was around, and that’s so unlike me, I just ended up wondering… And then when she showed up here, it all kind of came together. W-we did. She stuck around and we spoke and everything simply made sense all of a sudden. I didn't know she liked me, too.” She swallowed audibly, her voice brittle and husky as she went on. “Kit isn't like anyone else I’ve ever had feelings for.”
“Not like anyone else, as in… a woman?” I prompted, raising a brow.
Nettie grunted. “Oh, shush! Don't make me feel guilty for being hesitant at first. I know it’s not a big deal to you, but try going through life believing you’re straight and suddenly running into some cute ditzy punk girl and realizing you’re not. It’s all sorts of confusing, believe me. I was scared it was gonna be weird because it was my first time with a woman but Kit somehow made it easy. It was a bit of a whirlwind, sure, but it felt natural and… just good.”
“Did you tell Eli?”
“No. But I think he suspected. That man knows me like the back of his hand. We’re basically siblings, remember? He was always tactful, never really pressured me into admitting anything, but he made a couple puns here and there, so… I do believe he knew.” She fumbled with her limp gloves, fixing me with a wavering smile. “So?”
“So what?”
“What do you say?”
“Is there something you want me to say?” I shrugged. “I’m only glad I understand now. I wish you’d told me sooner, but that’s your business. Also, I didn’t tell you that I’ve been running around with our waiter, so I guess we’re essentially even. By the way, I’m sorry he put you on the spot like that. You didn’t deserve that. How did he know about you two anyways?”
Nettie pursed her lips. “He might have seen us around the diner or something. I’m not sure. I’m, uh, not gonna comment on whatever you two got going on. You know what you’re doing. Hopefully.”
“Ah, thanks. Then I won’t be giving my opinion on whether or not I consider that deadbeat dork Kit to be worthy of you.”
My savior human snorted. “Much appreciated. Though I guess it’s not really an issue anymore either way.”
I shook my head. “Don’t think like that. We can’t let her go. I certainly won’t, not after this.”
“What do you mean?”
I rose to my feet. “I’m going to drag her blue ass back out of the ocean and have her make an honorable woman of you.”
I don’t believe she thought I was serious. The realization had set in by the time I’d dragged her down to the beach with me, though. We had taken Wammawink for the drive. Wammawink is the name of Nettie’s pastel pink motor scooter. It has a sidecar, which she straps me into with great care whenever we ride. It took her about twenty minutes to get us down to the shore. The more I talked about possibly retrieving my roommate, the brighter and realer the shine in her eyes became. Hope was not yet dead, that much was for certain. I led her down the cliffside and past the rocky expanse to where the concert had been held. It seemed ages ago. Some wistful part of me thought I could hear the faint sound of Kits singing above the gentle murmur of the waves.
The beach was golden in the afternoon sunlight. The sleepy tide sent water steadily dribbling into the sand beneath our feet, the drier patches giving way ever so slightly as we walked along. The faint outline of a plan had taken shape in my mind. We headed for the grotto.
"It makes sense now," I thought aloud. "The creature we fought at the concert was targeting you. The deep ones must have known that you two had a bond."
"I guess so," she replied uncertainly, eyeing the maw that opened up in the natural stone wall before us. "Going spelunking will help us how, exactly…?"
"I figure it tried to take you in there for a reason. This place has to be special. If you want, you can always wait here, but I'd prefer to have you with me. I only want to look around a bit. Maybe there's a clue of sorts on how we can contact Kit."
She sighed. "Now I know why you wanted me to bring my flashlight." She produced the object in question and handed it over before linking arms with me. "Of course I'll stick with you."
The inside of the cave was far too quiet for comfort. The eerie silence was only broken by the occasional plinking of water dripping from the walls and ceiling. We made an effort to step around the puddles glittering on the bumpy ground as we proceeded into the dimness. The sunlight threading through the grotto's mouth didn't reach very far, so we were glad for the bright beam of our torch. I let it travel the hollowed rock, the light crinkling oddly as it reflected off the pools of water that seemed to grow larger the further we got. Nettie Peterson was hanging onto my arm, her grip growing a little tighter with every passing minute. Her face was a set mask of grim determination, belied by the nervous twitch of her eyelid and the occasional quiver of her lower lip.
My own discomfort was undeniable as well. My heart was thundering in my chest and clammy beads of perspiration were running down my face. Every step we took caused a dull thud, the echo of which bounced off the rough stone walls to be funneled by the length of the cave. There were several smaller passages leading off into all directions, but Nettie and I agreed on always picking the largest entrance. This way, the path we took was far easier to memorize and there was little possibility of getting lost. After the third or fourth time we ducked through one of the doorframe-like archs, we were met with an imposing sight. A large room with high ceilings opened up before us. There was natural light seeping through several small cracks overhead. Stringy, pale plant life hung down or clung to the walls. A round lake filled up its entire bottom half.
Both Nettie and I stopped in our tracks. There was no solid ground to walk on anymore. On top of that, the beauty of this subterranean body of water had literally stunned us. Ripples were rolling off the center of its surface, casting a faint shimmer onto the ceiling. The stone-filtered light from outside set the lake aglow, bright speckled dancing across it like sprightly wisps. All I could do was taken in a soft, reverent breath while the very thoughts running through my head escaped Nettie's trembling lips.
"Have you ever seen something so beautiful?"
I would have told her yes, but I truly could not remember when. Unfortunately, the lake also appeared to form something of a dead end. I considered turning and checking out another passage, only for my savior human to point out a ledge running along the side of the room. It was narrow, but no doubt wide enough for the two of us to walk it single-file. We clambered up the shelf-like protrusion and, hand in hand, began to move along. It was bumpy and wet, and I almost regretted continuing this way. I couldn't seem to properly place my feet, my soles slipping a few inches with every step. Glancing over my shoulder, I could tell from Nettie's grim expression that she was experiencing similar difficulties. My pulse was racing, my lower lip caught between my teeth as I attempted to focus on safely making it across.
The cold sweat that leaves my palms was actively working against me at this point, and before I could react, the flashlight had slipped through my shaking fingers. It bounced off a bump in the shelf, then rolled off the edge entirely to disappear in the dark water with a thick, loud plop. I cursed, turning to Nettie with an apologetic expression.
"It's fine," she assured me, squeezing my hand. "It's bright enough here as it is and we'll still have our phones for light later."
I smiled gratefully, about to take my next step when a deep, guttural gurgle came rumbling up from the depths of the lake. The sound hovered in the damp, salty air for a moment or two. My best friend and I froze in place, her grip on my hand turning into an iron vice. For a split second, I believe even my own heartbeat stilled.
"What was that?" Nettie Peterson whispered, her voice barely audible over the sudden charged hum of the water below. Her question would not remain unanswered for long. The droning noise of vast water masses shifting began to fill the air as from deep, deep beneath, something made its way up. My savior human and I helplessly pressed our backs up against the wall, trying to keep steady against the force of the vibration shuddering through the rock. The ledge we were standing on was quaking as though the cave itself had come alive and was trying to throw us into this growling, cold abyss.
Within seconds, the thing broke the surface, causing enormous splashes and sending countless drops of water raining down on us. I blinked them out of my eyes just in time to see it unfurl.
It was not a living being in its entirety, merely part of one. That however only made the sight before us all the more terrifying. Simply put, it was a human arm. Just not of any human I had ever encountered. It was enormous; every webbed finger of the hand it ended in was about my size. There were six of them, each bending in far too many places—I thought I could count as many as eight joints on the longest one. Its nails were more like claws, long and sharp with what looked like barnacles growing underneath them. The thin, nearly translucent skin between its fingers was stony gray, just like the rest of it. The hand slowly began to grope around, searching the walls of the cave. I knew right then and there that I couldn't possibly fight it. If it came to it, I'd try to hold it off with everything I had, but something this huge couldn't possibly be defeated. We had to flee, as long as we still could.
"Oh God," Nettie breathed. "Oh God, oh God, oh God…" Her hand was trembling in mine.
"Quick," I hissed. "Turn around, we gotta get out of here!"
She nodded helplessly, her eyes blown wide in terror. When she began her retreat from the ledge, she nearly took up running. I pulled her close just in time to prevent her from slipping. "Watch out!" I uttered, unable to suppress the fear in my tone. "Don't slip, we're dead if we fall in."
My savior human let out a whine, then took a deep breath and bit her lip. Slowly but steadily, she placed each foot in front of the other, leading us off the ledge. My ears were ringing. I couldn't tear my gaze away from the gigantic arm as it blindly felt along the walls, its nails coaxing a grating sound as they scratched upon the rocks. It was getting closer and closer, the side of its thumb nearly brushing the top of my head for a split second before I could withdraw. I had to press my eyes shut for a moment as my chest tightened painfully. Finally, we had reached the end of the shelf and wasted no time in jumping off.
We didn't even bother with any cell phone flashlights. As soon as we were on solid ground again, we darted through the entrance of the room, back through all of our carefully chosen passages before finally staggering out the mouth of the cave into the sunlight. We were panting like dogs; Nettie was forced to crouch down and sit still for a while to catch her breath. Meanwhile, I was seeing stars. Colorful dots and sparks of lightning seemed to dance before my inner eye as I blinked furiously into the afternoon sun.
"What the fuck was that?" my best friend, having regained her ability to speak, rasped out.
I turned to face her, my knees wobbling like jello. "I have no idea."
"You think it… you think that fish person from the concert was trying to take me there? Dump me into that lake?" She lowered her voice. "It would have fed me to that giant thing, wouldn't it."
I held her gaze, my mind racing. "I don't know. Maybe the giant's different."
"What do you mean?"
"I think we might have just seen Kit's father."
X
1
2: deadbeat roommate
3: creepy crush
4: relocation
5: beach concert
6: First date
7: Temp work
8: roommate talk
9: a dismal worldview
10: warehouse
11: staircase
12: explanation
13: hurt
14: hospital
15: ocean
16: diner
17: government work
submitted by girl_from_the_crypt to nosleep [link] [comments]


2023.05.29 16:55 cruisingNW Foundations of Humanity 26 (First Impressions) - an NoP fanfic

Foundations of Humanity 26 (First Impressions) - an NoP fanfic
Thank you u/SpacePaladin15 for establishing the Nature of Predators Universe, and for allowing Fanfics to flourish!
Thank you again, u/Braquen, u/Acceptable_Egg5560, u/Liberty-Prime76 and u/BiasMushroom721 for proofreading! This is my side of the Nature of a Giant crossover!
Huu boi this got to 34k characters, so had to split the chapter. Hooray making a backlog!
First - Previous - [Next]
Memory transcription subject: Valek, Venlil tourist
Date [standardized human time]: Sept 11th, 2136. Middle of 3rd Claw
I thought of happy memories of the last time my class and I had visited, “I couldn’t figure it out last time, but I was just a pup with a bunch of other pups back then. I know it has something to do with reattaching lines in the right configuration, but every time I got close--”
A black mass. A yawning, toothy pit! Hungry barks! “Teeth! TEETH! PREDATOR!”
I could see the beast’s gaping maw crawling forward to swallow me whole! I couldn’t let it get me! It would eat me! I couldn’t stop my momentum; I just kept getting closer to the inky void and gnashing teeth! I collided with the predator and thrashed and flailed against its wild mane, before my back legs found purchase and I launched myself back from whence I came.
Maeve’s voice shouted from behind just before her arm wrapped around me and halted my retreat, “What the hell, Valek? There’s no Predators he-EOLY SHIT!”
Finding sanctuary against my mate, I found my voice once more. “Big! Teeth! Call the Exterminators! Help! Teeth!” I thrashed in Maeve’s arm, trying to scratch at my prowling assailant.
A voice echoed from near the threat as another form appeared. “What happened?” A human? Another threat? He’s near the predator! He was looking at us! “Y’all okay?” His head turned toward the beast. “You okay?”
“I’m fine! Mostly surprised!” It imitated a Venlil with its movements, but I knew better! “It’s okay! I’m not here to hurt you!”
It was toying with us! Trying to get us off-guard! “Don’t eat us!” Protect your mate! “She’s dealt with Predators already! You’ll be sorry!”
I suddenly felt Maeve shake me. “That’s enough, Valek; get a hold of yourself.”
Get a hold of myself? Doesn’t she realize the threat? The-
“You forgot to say I should be set on fire, or that I’m a freak of nature.” I heard the beast say, now grabbing the edges of the hallway. “In case you need suggestions for insults.”
My voice faltered as I tried to understand it. The words were there, but my mind just couldn’t accept them. Maeve fell silent above me, but continued to hold me fast.
The other human brought itself beside the giant, “Oh my! ‘Nother human! Howdy there!” He raised his hand to his head, touching two fingers to his forehead, then flicking them in our direction. A gesture of greeting.
My ears snapped to the human as I tried to reconcile the friendly gesture amid my panic. Maeve, however, was undeterred and floated past me, coming closer to the monster. Alvi held my shoulder, and supported us against a nearby rope.
“Wow! You… You’re huge!” She had that same wonder in her voice that she always had when she found something new.
In response, I heard the familiar whistle of a Venlil laugh. It was coming from the… it’s a Venlil? “Yes. It’s a condition.”
Maeve continued her approach. She didn’t look the least bit afraid. Even though her arm remained in a cast; a cast given to her by the last predator she tangled with. But continue, she did. “I didn’t know Venlil could display gigantism! That’s incredible!”
I blinked. Gigantism? The translator was unhelpfully vague, something about making things big. The giant seemed similarly confused, “I’m sorry, my translator didn’t quite get that. Display what?”
Maeve reached back to us and I took her hand, and Alvi’s in my other, before she pulled us with her along the corridor. “Gigantism. It’s when a tumor grows on the pituitary gland controlling growth hormones, which causes it to overproduce. It can cause people to grow extremely tall.”
The creature’s confusion seemed to grow, though its body wobbled along with its tail; excitement? “Humans have Marklen-Jauntes syndrome??” Maeve asked for clarification before it continued, “Marklen-Jauntes Syndrome, named after twin giants. Its symptoms are basically exactly what you described!”
Maeve clapped her hands together with a quiet snap, “Oh! It sure sounds like it!”
The giant pushed off from the doorway, and Maeve pulled us into the boxy junction. Their conversation faded in my ears as the realization hit me. It was a syndrome. A medical condition. Maeve had moved to float around the giant as she and the other pair began talking in earnest. I felt Alvi squeeze my paw. “Valek. You okay there?”
My ears fell in worry, “I… I don’t know. I mean look at it! How can Maeve not be terrified of that?”
Alvi ran her paw through the fur on my shoulder, “I think she may have seen worse by now.”
The memory of those shadestalkers on the ground, and Maeve’s shriek of furious pain on the wind sent a chill down my spine. “But shouldn’t that make her more cautious? Make sure that doesn’t happen again?”
Alvi tapped the tuft of her tail against me, a lilt of humor on her voice, “If Maeve were cautious, do you think she would have joined the program? Or came to the Berrypatch?”
I pulled Alvi tighter against me; she was absolutely right. My attention drifted back to their conversation; they were talking about the medical issues of giants. I fully focused on what they were saying as Maeve was finishing her thought,
“... Hopefully, with the Venlil's help, that will change!"
The giant’s ears fell in...shame? It has shame? “You would have to keep it secret. If it was known it was to help giants, the Venlil might refuse.”
Hold on, we would gladly help! “W-we wouldn’t!” The giant’s eyes and ears focused on me, while Maeve and the other human turned to face me. "Our people wouldn't keep secrets like that just because they're big! We may not be the ones in the clinic, but we would gladly offer medicine and equipment.”
The giant let out a deep huff, as if I told a bad joke! “Sir… I’m guessing you haven’t heard of me. Is that correct?”
“N-no?” My tail curled around Alvi and I at my admission. “Should I…?”
The giant’s massive tail swayed behind them, “I guess introductions are in order. My name is Tarlim.”
“The Venbig!” The human announced with a flourish while he slowly floated past ‘Tarlim’s’ front, while the latter whistled in amusement.
“Yes. The ‘Venbig.’ And the Texan there is Jacob.” I saw his tail wag at the name. A sign of fondness for a friend. “May I know who all of you are?”
“I am Maeve, a pleasure to meet you,” She nodded, as she shifted her grip on the rope to reveal Alvi and I behind her. “This is Valek, my exchange partner,” I reflexively flicked my ears in acknowledgment, “And this is Alvi, a close friend of ours.”
Alvi hadn’t moved much beyond floating. She had one eye turned to stare fully at the giant, but otherwise seemed to have locked up, as she had before.
The giant, Tarlim, returned our greeting with a polite bow as he steadied himself on some overhead netting. “Good to meet you. Now, the reason I asked is this: I was imprisoned in a correctional facility before I was able to escape.”
Escape?! I exclaimed, in thought and in voice, “Y-You escaped??”
The giant tried to deceive us, but it couldn’t keep its condition a secret! I put myself between it and Alvi, “Get away from him! He’s dangerous!”
Maeve tried to be kind, “Valek if he’s here I would hardly think-”
But she didn’t know what that meant! We made a promise that we would teach each other about our people, even the bad parts. I had to warn her about it! “Correctional Facilities are where we put dangerous Venlil! People with Predator Disease who have shown themselves to be a threat to the Herd! We try to teach them how to live with the Herd, but if he escaped? He's gotta be dangerous if he had to break out!” I kept the threatening beast in my sight as I put myself between them and my herd.
The beast crouched threateningly, Fixing me with a predatory stare as its ears locked onto me, “Dangerous? Do you know what they put me through in there? The people running those places are monsters!”
“They help people!” I protested, amazed that someone could see their own care as harmful. “They treat people so they are safe around the herd!”
“Oh, HA!” The beast’s face cracked in an angry snarl, “You must feel so safe when we’re strapped into chairs and electrified! Or jammed into rooms where the only safe floor is too small for everyone! It must be soooo perfect to hear about that!”
“Th… That…” They WHAT?! No! “No! Even if that were true, it would be to teach you to stick together! They… They wouldn’t do something like that if it didn’t work!” …right?
A tiny voice spoke behind me, but the beast bore down on my senses, “Stick together! Suuuure!” It’s tail lashed behind it. It was going to pounce! “That’s why they tried to kill me for making sure more people could fit in the Circle! And obviously the electric chair was for proper fear response! That's why they commissioned a chair with enough voltage to fry me from the inside out!”
“Electric chair? You were in an electric chair?” That same tiny voice. Alvi’s words pulled me from my maelstrom and I reached for salvation. I needed Maeve.
“Yes!” The Giant had turned his attention to Alvi as I flew towards my human. “I have been put in that-”
“I saw you on the TV!”
I was wrapping myself around Maeve when Alvi said that. She… saw him? He was on TV? All of us had fallen silent to watch her, including the giant.
“Which part?” It asked with a heavy breath. “The final judgment? The election debates?” I heard a whimper coming from its throat. “When… when my father…?”
Father? It had a father? Wait, why is that a surprise? They were born, so they must have had one.
Alvi spoke with what kindness she could, “I don’t remember much. I was still just a pup when the trial started, but I remember seeing your photo on the TV. My parents didn’t let me watch it after that. I started to research it after I moved out, that’s when I saw the Chair.”
I heard the giant growl. “That Brahking photo! They were so proud to hold me up even though I couldn’t!” Their attention swung back to me. “I don’t suppose, mister Valek, that was also justified?”
I stood tall at the challenge. This… They would not get past me. “I…! I don’t know about any photo! My Family doesn't have a TV, just a radio.”
They flicked their ears dismissively, before bringing them back to Alvi. Was it… kinder? When it was addressing her? “So you saw the chair.” They sighed. “It was only shown after the trial was done. Then you had to have seen what that management did. Instead of letting the place be investigated, they drove all the inmates outside so they could cause chaos! And slipped away while everyone was trying to figure out what happened!” It whistled a derisive laugh, “What about the crimes revealed? Producing and testing drugs to sell on the streets? How the sessions were altered for higher voltage? Oh! And do I even need to mention what happened to the women there?”
Its eye never left me, and I shrunk beneath it while Alvi spoke behind me, “No. No you don’t. What happened there was terrible, there’s no grooming that!”
“Worthy of the Arxur!” It huffed again. “What a title for that place. And you know what the worst part is?” It pointed directly at me with its primary claw; the insult clear in its seething voice. Singling me out as outside of the Herd. “I was in there because of that! Not some test, not Predator Disease, just stupid people Scared. O-Of. My. Size!!”
The rage in its throat was broken by its sobs, as its eyes bubbled with gathered tears, unable to fall for lack of gravity. This thing was crying? It had family, and it cried from remembered pain?
Maeve pushed off of her line, and drifted to the giant, her hand curling around their pointed claw and putting its paw back to their chest. Her words were quiet, a sharp contrast to the giant’s anguish. “I think that’s enough of that. I’m sorry that we had a rough start. We were in the wrong, and it wasn’t, and isn’t, ok for us to react like we did.”
We weren’t wrong! Look at it! How can we be wrong to be careful around something that could eat us without a thought?
I bet your dad thought the same thing.
The thought stopped my heart and flared my wool. When I saw it - No. Saw Him. - when I saw him I scratched and kicked, and I came out unscathed. He hadn’t so much as taken a single step toward us. Only talking. What happened? Why was I so afraid…
Maeve’s voice continued as my thoughts swirled, “We… are sorry for what happened, and want to make it right. I don’t want to intrude any more on your day with your partner, but can we treat you to something here? Valek tells me they have really good fried veg? I’ve never had Venlil Tempura before.”
Why is this familiar? What about this fear… The Meetup.
It-He… Tarlim? Heaved and hacked against waning sobs, barely croaking, “Y-You…you can’t make it right,” the words were only a whisper; barely captured at this distance. “This, all this, just made you more afraid of me. E-Every moment would be forced and shamed. Not genuine.”
This is the same fear I felt when I met Maeve. The same fear that was wrong. Fundamentally and completely. This fear…
Maeve answered without pause, “I think we could surprise you. But I won’t press it. Before I let you go, I’d like to end on a good…noooote…” Maeve checked her empty pockets, as her voice grew a more boisterous timbre, “ah man, I left my pad in the locker. Anyway, you’re way fluffier than the average Venlil, aren’t you? Well, humans have recorded something else called Hypertrichosis; Jacob may know it as Werewolf Syndrome. It manifests in humans as rapid and thick hair growth over their entire body! Jacob can show you when you get back to your pads. ”
Tarlim’s tail thrashed in distrust, but it-NO! HIS! ears fluttered, giving away their conflict. Maeve turned away and pulled herself back down the corridor we came from, scooping up Alvi and I as she passed. But I pulled away from her hand, meeting the eye of the giant.
Nothing about this fear is real. Who I am and what I do is MY CHOICE, and I had the gall to forget that.
“I reacted to you the same way I reacted to seeing Maeve for the first time - well, her hair, anyway. I’ve tried to be better, but I mess up sometimes. I’m… I’m sorry I messed up with you.”
I pushed off down the hall, and met my herd before we continued on.
“Wait!” We found our anchors, and turned to meet the bellowed plea. Tarlim dried his tears on his wool, before looking back at us. “There's a food court near the arcade.” Barely a pause as Tarlim took another breath; the same one I take when I make a Choice. “If we see each other there maybe… maybe we can start over…”
My mouth cracked in a human smile, and my tail swayed at the invitation. “I think I’d like that.”
Tarlim returned our kindness as we floated back down the corridor.
I wanted to just get back to having fun. I had come here with Maeve and Alvi to get away from reactions like that! Not… Not Be the reaction! This was- this was a vacation! Please just…
Breathe.
In. and Out. The Paw is not gone. We can make this work.
“Hey, Valek?” It was Maeve. My love, and my Choice. Her mask met my eye as I spun to meet her. “Are you OK?”
“I will be. I’m sorry for how I reacted.” I feigned a joyful flick and invited them to follow, “Come on! We can take another path and find something fun that way.” I floated ahead of my herd and led the way.
I checked behind me at the next turn and they were following a distance behind. Alvi showed her concern with her tail, while Maeve was unreadable through her mask. It was ok, we can put this behind us once we find something else to occupy us.
Well that was a disaster.
The Maze was more of a problem then I expected it to be. The maze itself was easy enough, but the ‘puzzle rooms’ turned out to be all of the rooms, but they were randomly activated. Sometimes we would fly into a room and it would shift color, pulling the supports into the wall and starting to list the game rules. The last room before we got out kept shifting the gravity, so by the time we made it to the exit we were exhausted in mind and body. Well, Alvi and I were. I don’t believe I had seen Maeve so energized.
“Wanna go again?!” Her voice was bubbling with sarcasm, and she couldn't contain her mischievous cackle when Alvi and I met her mask and signaled an emphatic No! In unison.
She pulled Alvi against her and asked her to hold on, quickly doing the same to me. She pushed off from the Maze exit to the open air in the center. She did the same kick as back in the maze and we started to spin, at which Maeve let go of the two of us to slow our inertia. We spun there together, holding paws and hands, before I spoke into the space between us.
“I’m sorry that I ruined the day. I thought we could go back to having fun, but I spoiled the mood.”
Maeve spoke first, “It’s alright Valek,”
Then Alvi, “It may not have been the best start, but he offered to try again.”
Maeve squeezed my paw and met my eye, “And I look forward to it. That's all we can really do: move forward.” She pulled us back into a tight hug, “Thank you, both of you, for a wonderful day.”
An angry gurgle bubbled up from our embrace, and Maeve continued, “But I could really do with a proper meal. Valek, you mentioned something about fried veg?”
I pulled away and looked around at the various signage, pointing at the exit we had entered from. “The food court connects with the Visor Arcade, so we can go out the way we came in.”
“Alright! Alvi, you hold on, and Valek? Don’t.”
“What?”
Maeve kicked her legs again and set us spinning quickly, before flinging me in the direction of the exit, and she and Alvi the opposite way. I may or may not have squealed in terror during my hasty flight.
I was able to catch a support line as I passed. I looked out to see that Maeve had done the same, and was just pushing off to come my direction; Alvi was completely wrapped around her torso, like she was caught out in Galetime.
My tail thrashed behind me in admonishment when Maeve was in ear-sense. “You evil woman! You could have killed me!”
I could hear her - no, Alvi! - giggling as they floated over! She was having the time of her life! Maeve defended herself breathlessly, “Oh, come on, that was barely a brisk walk. I knew you’d correct yourself, that’s why I threw you instead of Alvi.”
I hit the pad and opened the bulkhead as they met me, Maeve barely correcting against a passing line to float cleanly through the threshold. Alvi disengaged once we were all inside. “Also because I’m her favorite.”
I flattened my ears in playful anger while she stuck her tongue out at me, and Maeve spoke up from the button. “Now, now, children, I love you both equally. One is just a little more biblical than the other.”
A little more religious? What?
“But I think it is time to come back to earth.” her hand hovered over the button while Alvi and I found our supports.
A button pressed, a growing hum, and our feet met the floor … Eventually. We had forgotten to remember that the floor was White, so we all collapsed on the semi-soft ground head-first. Thank the Sun for padding!
“Okay!” I heard Alvi comment, “Seems we’ve been re-educated on where the ground is.” She stood, shaking her wool. “Wish it hadn’t been a crash course.”
Maeve cackled from the floor as I stood, “HaHa! Multilingual pun! I love it!”
She was still giggling when we walked over to help her up. We were just dusting ourselves and flattening errant tufts when the exit hatch opened, and we stepped outside.
Alvi was last to step over the bulkhead, nearly tripping as her paw caught its lip. Having recovered, she asked, “Anything else you would like to do before lunch Maeve?”
Maeve took a quiet breath as we all waved an excited goodbye to Shishi, cold can of Sprunk in paw. “Speaking from experience, if we wanna do VR, and I kinda do, eating before may be unwise.”
Having reached our locker, I waited for Maeve to don her burka, “The Visor Arcade is on the way, and I’d love to show you this quick sightseeing game. It’s pretty basic, but it will show a few other Federation Homeworlds too!”
Maeve’s voice lit up, and I regretted that her eyes were hidden, as I knew they were shining! “I can see More worlds?! Yes, please! Let’s do that!” Maeve bounded forward almost to around the corner. “Uh… Where is it?”
I flicked my tail teasingly, “It is where we are going. You shouldn’t go running off, you know how strangers are.”
Maeve stood at the corner with her good hand on her hip, “Well then be a good boy and lead the way!”
I could feel my snout quickly blooming.
Oh, that’s not fair.
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2023.05.29 16:46 Single_Exit_1467 do i have rights to feel this way?

i (15f) have been struggling with depression and anxiety for 5 years now, the fear of being around others terrify me in ways words can’t explain. and to be honest i gave up trying to explain, because it will never make sense to others born before the 2000s. they always ask the same questions every time, “how can anyone your age know anything about, stress/ tiredness/ depression/ anxiety etc”, just got to accept that they’ll never know how it feels to be a teen in this generation.
i’ve been in and out of school for 3 years now, it all started with taking a few days off, then it turned to weeks, then months, now not at all, i stopped going because it wasn’t fair on me to put myself in a position i can’t control. yes it’s life and law but i can’t force myself to be someone i’m not, only 10 years of being in an endless loop and it’s making me miserable/ tired/ drained/ etc.
i always wanted to be a teen, but no one ever told me the cons of being a teen. having to lose sleep over assignments, you have to be great at everything or your not going to make it anywhere in life, hearing “what would you like to be when your older” not knowing that making one mistake can take all chances of doing that away from you.
i was talking to my sister (23f) about school, she was so shocked by how much it has changed since she was there, it has more rules, more assignments, more classes, more expectations, etc. us teens nowadays have a lot more on our shoulders then anyone would imagine.
yes it must’ve been hard back in the days, but how often did you see kids with their own problems and not just worrying about their parents issues, anyone heard the saying, “you are the main character in your own story” aka “focus on yourself” it’s like a crime to do that now, because if you do your selfish, and if you don’t, you have problems. it doesn’t matter what we do it’ll never be right.
moral of the story, do i as a 15 year old allowed to feel like this/ think this way? does anyone relate/ understand me?
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2023.05.29 16:31 SleeplessFromSundown The Séance Club - The End of Windhaven Manor [Final]

This post is the final part of this story. Sorry it has taken so long to get through. And I'm not sure I even understand all of it yet. If you're new, this all started here. The previous part (Part 7) is here. Thank you to everyone who followed along.
-----
“Do you see her?” I asked in a meek voice.
“You mean that girl in black?” Harvey answered.
It was her, in the flesh. Her lips parted and formed a malevolent smile. Her dark eyes fixed on mine. My legs turned to solid lead. My feet refused to move. The anxiousness to reach Parker and Juliet and Beth in the cellar crumbled like the wood turning to ash behind us. She demanded my attention.
A hand rocked my shoulder. Harvey. I pushed him away.
“You have to go. Help them. I’ll take care of her.”
“What about you?”
“I’ll be right behind you.”
A mirage of Harvey flitted past Ally and disappeared into the kitchen. Everything blurred, everything but her.
She tilted her head to one side and bridged the gap between us with four slow and deliberate steps. She pushed her right hand out from a long sleeve and ran the black painted nail of her index finger across my cheek, the smooth lacquer cold against my skin. I shuddered as the chill spread like ice creeping up a window.
“It is such a shame to be losing you so soon. We’ve only just met, and yet I feel like we’ve known each other our whole lives. Do you feel it too?”
I shook my head. “Let me go.”
“We’re past that now Sam. I considered if we could coexist, you and I. It gave me a thrill knowing there is another one out there like me. But you insist on meddling with my work.”
“You mean locking all those girls in that filthy dungeon where they met their end? And Jane here.”
“The work is sometimes unpleasant.”
“But the pay is good?”
“This isn’t about money Sam. You and I are the same. The pain you felt from not fitting in. The lonely nights lying awake, wishing you could be like everyone else. The stares and the whispers. The rejection from those who are supposed to love us the most. I too know. But where you hid, I searched out a path where my talents were appreciated and rewarded. You don’t hate me Sam. You hate yourself for not thriving like I have.”
“Thriving? Is that what you call it?”
“By all measures yes. I am good at what I do. The best. The only. Or so I thought. And then there is you. A naïve, sheltered little boy who can barely put on his own pants in the morning. It is such a shame. And these so-called friends of yours, that was always doomed to failure. Oh and if you harbour any thoughts of them escaping, know that we blocked the little secret entrance the stable boy showed you. There’s no escape except through the fire. When they pick through the ashes of this building they will find their bones, and yours. Is this how you imagined it turning out?”
I flexed the muscles in my legs, but they refused to move. Ally smiled.
“It’s useless now Sam.”
I heard the faint whisper of Juliet’s voice in my head. She pleaded with me. Come on Sam, you can do this. I remembered the last encounter with Ally, outside the wall separating Windhaven Manor from the world. Ally had put me in the white room. I had broken free. I had overcome her power once. I had to do it again.
I took a deep breath in through my nose and cried out and willed my feet to move. Electricity coursed through my body and I directed it down to the floor. My left heel separated from the floor and that set the whole thing in motion. The dam burst. I lurched forwards and overbalanced and sprawled to the floor.
Ally crouched beside me and chuckled. “Some would call it a tragedy for a child to die so soon after learning to walk.”
I looked back towards the front of the house. The fire burned hot. Thick black smoke circled up the huge open space of the gallery. Portraits hanging on the wall bubbled and curled as flames consumed them.
A figure appeared at the foot of the staircase. The spectre of Crown. The goons had dragged his lifeless corpse out of the house, but stood before me was the spirit with unfinished business. The ugliness of his actions showed through now in death. His skin was sallow and wrinkled. His head too big for his body and his teeth yellowed. A grotesque monster made worse by his mortal demise.
Ally whispered in my ear. “He knows it was your meddling that brought about his end. I’ll leave you two alone.”
She brushed my cheek with the back of her hand and stood. As she walked away leather straps materialised out of thin air and pinned my body to the floor.
The spectre of Crown grew before me, swelling in size until he had to crouch to stay below the chandelier. He clenched his fists and with burning red eyes let out a guttural growl that skipped my ears and penetrated directly into my skull.
I tried to pull my hands to my ears but they would not come. It made no difference. The roar coming from Crown stabbed the inside of my head like a thousand daggers. I lifted my head and the growl grew to a scream that ricocheted around the inside of my skull. I couldn’t take much more. It felt as though my head would explode.
Guilt bubbled up and mingled with the fear and I shrank into the floor and wished for it to swallow me. They were down there, the only friends I had known, banging against a locked door denying their escape. I sobbed. I sobbed like I had the night my parents turned from me.
In the pit of my stomach something else grew. A seed of frustration born of a lifetime existing in a world that didn’t make sense. A world where I had no idea who I was and what I could or should do. A world in which I hid. I couldn’t do that now.
Juliet’s voice as clear as day, cutting through the racket of Crown’s scream. Do it Sam. I gritted my teeth and electricity buzzed somewhere deep inside, at first dull and imperceptible, and then amplified and resonating until it peaked into a deafening roar.
Above Crown the bulbs in the chandelier glowed white. He swivelled his head and watched them dumbly.
I concentrated, felt the energy forming an extra limb. Like the arms and legs of a newborn it flailed spasmodically. I fought to control it, to turn it to my will. I focussed on the straps pinning me to the floor. The electricity fed into the straps and turned them hot. For a moment I feared they would scold my skin, and then in a moment of release they split and flung upwards.
I picked myself up off the floor and faced the spectre of Crown. Like a spent boxer throwing one final punch I threw out my hands and screamed, willing Crown to be quiet and be still. Demanding he be so.
The floor shook. The dozens of bulbs in the chandelier shattered. The giant spectre of Crown diminished and the screaming inside my head softened until it was no more. Crown’s eyes opened wide as his mouth stitched together and his arms wrenched behind his back. I flicked my hand like I was swatting a fly and Crown flew into the corner of the room and slumped to the floor.
I bent over and rested my hands on my knees. My muscles ached, like I had run a marathon. Shadows played on the floor. I sucked in air and smoke and spluttered and coughed.
In the hallway the silhouette of Ally. She turned and shook her head. The heat of the fire intensified and crackled at my skin. If we were to make our escape, she could not be here to block us. I straightened and strode towards her.
I cycled furiously through the events of the last few days, searching for something to defeat Ally. I had to do to her what she had done to me. The time for running and breaking her spells was through.
I closed my eyes and concentrated. I stripped away everything except for the two of us. The crackle of the fire replaced with silence. The smell of the smoke disappeared. The heat washed away. One by one I shut down all my senses. When I opened my eyes a monotone room of white. Sterile calm had replaced the burning insides of Windhaven Manor.
Her eyes scanned the room and she giggled. “Cheap tricks won’t get you far,” she said. “And you learned this one from me.”
The white rippled as if the walls were made of water. She was fighting it. I concentrated, focussing all my energy, all my will. The ripples slowed and then stopped.
“You’re a fast learner,” she said. “But I have been doing this for more than a weekend.”
Strips of colour permeated the white. A rectangle of tile appeared on the floor. And then some blue from the curtain. Enough of a smouldering wall to let in some smoke. The acrid smell reached my nose and I spluttered. As each wedge of colour appeared, I filled it back in white. But it was a sinking ship and the pail I held to bail out the water would not be enough.
Ally grunted under her breath. A grunt of frustration. The white room shook and made a sound like a train bearing down.
I had to bind her. I raised my palm and coils of rope rose from the ground and oscillated like snakes around her. She swatted them away and wrenched them from the ground and flung them at my feet, limp and unmoving.
“It won’t be that easy,” she sneered.
My arms jerked behind my back. She bound my wrists and then my ankles. She pursed her lips and blew as if extinguishing a single candle on a birthday cake, and it was enough to send me to the floor. I couldn’t do this on my own. I needed help.
I shut my eyes and concentrated my energy not on my bindings, but on the woods at the back of Windhaven Manor. On the girls who escaped the dungeon and now roamed the forest, watching the house burn from behind the barrier Ally constructed.
I fed the energy coursing through my body into the giant snowdome structure until it burned hot and then like the globes in the chandelier, it cracked and exploded into the night sky. The spirits of the girls watched the shards disappear and then strode towards the Manor.
I turned my attention to the tiny room beside the pantry, where Jane Laughlin lay bound to the bed. I stood beside her and lay my hand on the shackles binding her to the bed. She shuddered as the mask came free from her mouth and then stood as the shackles broke.
I opened my eyes and the white of the room flickered off and then back on again like bad reception on a television. I had to keep the white walls up long enough for them to draw near. For them to be ready when the façade fell. Ally strode towards me, exuding confidence.
“You can’t beat me Sam.”
Ally squeezed her hands into fists and screamed. In a burst of energy she wiped the white room clear and we were back in the burning house. The air was thick with smoke. Behind me a timber beam tumbled from the ceiling and crashed to the floor. The heat and smoke sucked the moisture from my insides and I heaved out a series of coughs.
Ally opened her eyes and smiled. She had bested me. But then they came. The girls from the dungeon and Jane Laughlin surrounded her. The sum total off all the pain and hurt inflicted in this place. Everything Ally had worked to keep hidden from the world.
They lurched at Ally. She raised her hands and pushed them back one by one as they went for her. She spun on the spot, trying to keep them at bay. She could not hold them all back. The sheer weight of numbers overwhelmed. They leaned in and pushed their heads into hers and showed her what those men had done. Made her feel it. The fear and despair and anger of each individual stacked together and Ally crumpled to the floor holding her head.
“Make it stop,” she said.
They kept at her.
Jane Laughlin sidled over to the base of the stairs where Crown sat, bound and with his mouth stitched. She considered him, restrained and helpless on the floor as she had been. He fought with his restraints, and then whimpered, as she had. As I ran for the pantry and the wine cellar, the corridor filled with the muffled sound of his screams.
The door to the cellar stood open and I made the descent of the stairs in three leaps. The enclosed space already full with smoke. At the end of the long corridor leading outside, Parker and Harvey shouldered the door. Juliet and Beth screamed encouragement. The door would not budge.
“We can’t go that way,” I yelled.
They raced back up the long corridor. A sudden rush of emotion bubbled up to the surface. I was so happy to see them all still alive. My lower jaw rattled and my hands shook. I fought to hide it.
Beth reached me first. “Sam, you’re ok.”
I blubbered a response and took in a lung full of smoke. We had to get out.
The fire raged outside the kitchen door. A wave of flame climbed up and spread across the ceiling. A subtle cracking sound from above intensified and a chunk of the upstairs floor came crashing down through the ceiling, blocking the rear door. We couldn’t get out the back. The only way now was back through the house. A ball of flame whooshed through the doorway and I put my arm up too late, my eyebrows wilting in the heat.
We crouched together in the middle of the kitchen, lowering our heads to get the last of the remaining oxygen. Malicious red flames and choking black smoke surrounded us on all sides.
“Where do we go now?” Parker’s words came out between coughs. Tears streaked down his cheeks. Soot covered his brow. I wished I had an answer.
Then he was there, standing over Parker’s shoulder. Leon. With the protective bubble gone, he too was free to come in the Manor.
“The fire has not yet consumed the dining room. But you don’t have long.”
I looked vaguely in the direction of the kitchen door and blinked back the stinging from the smoke. “I don’t think we can find it in this.”
“Follow me.”
I pulled my shirt up over my head. “We have to go. The dining room, we can make it. All together on three.”
I shouted out the numbers, the sound drowned out by the roar of the fire. I grabbed Beth’s hand and yanked her into action. Leon led the way and I kept my eyes on his heels. Together we were a flurry of arms and legs bounding for the dining room. I gritted my teeth against the heat. We burst through the doorway and everything turned orange.
From below the sweater pulled tight down over my hair, I shot a glance over to the floor of the grand gallery where I had left Ally writhing on the floor. She was not there now. Nor were the spectres of the girls.
I followed Leon’s heels into the dining room. The great wooden table smouldered in the centre of the room. Brilliant orange flames consumed the thick curtains. Parker spotted his camera still atop the tripod and set to pulling the camera free before Harvey grabbed his arm and yelled something that sounded like ‘leave it’.
Harvey grabbed one of the heavy chairs with their high backs and velvet cushions and heaved it at the window in the back corner of the room. The chair disappeared into the darkness of the night and Harvey kicked at the glass shards left behind. Parker joined. We piled out the opening.
I drank in the fresh cool air of night, staggering over the narrow path beside the house and to the small strip of grass beyond. Parker collapsed beside me and pulled the laptop out from under his shirt. He tapped at the casing and for a moment a brief smile flashed across his face, but it did not last long. He wiped soot and sweat from his face with shaking hands.
Harvey checked us all in turn, like a parent fussing over their children. We had scrapes and bruises and our skin was red and raw, but we were alright. We had survived. He ran to the front of the house and came back with palms held out by his sides. The man in the black suit, the goons Ponytail and Beanie, and Ally were all gone, along with the black van and the BMW.
Huddled together, we watched the fire consume Windhaven Manor, bright reds and oranges lighting up the windows and thick black smoke tumbling into the purple haze of sky. It was almost morning, the horizon signalling the coming of the sun.
Leon stood apart on the grass. I went to him.
“Thank you for coming back for us.”
He shrugged. “It’s something. It isn’t enough to make up for the rest.”
“You saved our lives. And those girls, they had their chance to meet their tormentors. That’s something too.”
He nodded. “What happens now?”
I turned my head sideways. “I’m still learning how all this works.”
The red of the fire reflected in his eyes. “Me too. I might go for a walk in the woods. I always liked it out there.”
He glided across the lawn and entered the trees and was gone.
The sound of sirens fought with the crackle of the fire. The fire brigade and the police. I got to my feet and shuffled to the front of the Manor. The burnt out carcasses of our cars stood by the low height wall. Black soot smudged the stone façade above the windows and the doors.
By the oak tree on the ocean side of the house stood Jane Laughlin. She peered down into a hole dug at the base of the tree. A pale and withered hand poked up out of the dirt. Her hand. They had meant to remove the body, but had aborted the task and fled.
A fire truck appeared at the head of the driveway and then another. They sped down the gravel and came to a sliding stop. A lone police car followed. Harvey sidled over.
Jane looked to the horizon. Out on the cliff edge stood a figure in a red dress. She recognised her sister Kylie immediately and ran down the slope. The two sisters embraced in the first light of the sun. I turned to the whoosh of water through a hose from the fire trucks and when I turned back, the Laughlin sisters were gone.
The members of The Séance Club, which I now consider myself a part, sat together on the low-height stone wall as the firefighters extinguished the flames consuming Windhaven Manor. The house was quiet now. The nausea and vibration I had felt that first night replaced with calm.
The police stripped the compound clean for the best part of a week. They identified Kyle the sketch artist and Hugo from the teeth that survived the fire of the hovel built over the dungeon. Hugo’s wife lay on the back lawn where Beanie and Ponytail had left her. But as to specific evidence of the crimes that occurred, they could not find enough to put a case together.
The two fires and the disappearance of Crown made some headlines, but there wasn’t enough to hang anyone else. The police claimed publicly that there was no link between the fire at Windhaven Manor and the fire at the squalid residence over the back fence. At Harvey’s behest they searched the area with cadaver dogs for the remains of the girls, but they found nothing.
Parker turned his laptop over to the police. They identified the two goons, Ponytail and Beanie, low level thugs who had disappeared from the streets years earlier. Those in the know presumed them dead. It made tracing them almost impossible. Tracing their vehicles lead to a dead end.
The man in black the suit on the other hand might as well be a ghost. On him they found nothing. They have a face, but nothing else.
As for Ally, the girl somehow managed to always turn her face away from the cameras, as if she knew where they were.
I sat in a small room at the police station for three days with Harvey putting the pieces together. He showed me a photograph of an old and gaunt man with a bent back, the last owner of Windhaven Manor before it was sold after his death. He had to be the man with the bent back from the ceremony in the dungeon, but I could not be certain. I never saw his face. Of the faces I did see, we knew Crown and Kyle and Hugo, but the others were harder to pinpoint.
At the end of it all Harvey sighed. There was nothing more we could do. But we could rest on the knowledge that the key players in the ceremony were all now dead.
Questions nagged at me. Where was Ally and what was she doing? Would she try to find me? Who was she working for?
That was the biggest question of all. Who was at the top and pulling the strings? Harvey wasn’t giving up. He was a dog with a bone at the best of times, and now he had a taste of blood. He refused to go back to the police even after Crown’s departure, which he described as the removal of a cancerous limb.
Harvey called me after the dust settled on everything. I told him that the trail had gone cold and I had no idea where Ally was. For all I knew she had evaporated into thin air. Harvey thought it unlikely, and I agreed. He told me it was time for some old-fashioned detective work. The names of the goons would be a start.
And there was something else Harvey mentioned, something that I had almost forgotten. He had always believed that his investigation into the disappearance of the girls was the reason one of his colleagues was murdered. Crown confirmed as much in the bedroom right before he was shot. Harvey thinks there is something to it. Another thread to pull, and he has a hunch. For now he’s keeping his cards close to his chest until he has some proof. I almost pressed him on the issue but decided I’d rather put it all behind me.
The story made headlines in the local press for a while, but ultimately it fizzled into a non-story, quickly forgotten by a public with a short attention spans. We all waited for a reckoning from within the police ranks, but it never came. Harvey predicted that’s the way it would go, and he was proven right.
The one item they did recover was a gold necklace with a heart pendant. The necklace Jane Laughlin wore the night of her death. The police found it where the black van had parked. After a few days in the possession of the police, Harvey arranged to have the necklace released to the family of its former owner.
The following day Mr. and Mrs. Laughlin appeared on the local news, thanking the efforts of those who recovered the remains of their daughter. It was closure, though not the kind they had hoped for. Both their girls were dead.
A week later The Séance Club convened in Beth’s apartment. Parker and Juliet were already there when I arrived. It was cathartic to talk about the events at Windhaven Manor, to compare stories and scars. I guess that’s why they have the saying about a problem shared.
After a brief silence, Beth asked, “Are you going to talk to the parents of Jane and Kylie?”
I shook my head. “What will I tell them?”
“That their daughters found each other out by the cliff edge.”
“And what about the agony of their deaths? Should I tell them that too? Besides, it doesn’t feel right. None of this feels right to me yet. And what weight do my words hold over those of some Priest talking about how he knows their souls are at rest.”
“Because you really do know.”
I shrugged. “I can’t prove any of it.”
Truth was I had no idea how to integrate the things I could see and do into my life. From childhood all I had wanted was to be like everyone else. For people not to stare or whisper as I walked by. To find acceptance. Sitting with my three new friends at Beth’s tiny kitchen table, with our shared experience behind us, I finally had it. This could be the start of something.
Parker was already planning the next Séance Club trip. An abandoned farm up north with mysterious sightings going back centuries. Juliet was already on board. I told them to wait. I couldn’t jump back in right away.
I was the last to leave, Beth and I sipping mug after mug of coffee and sharing comfortable silence. When I sighed and told her I should go, she grabbed my arm.
“I’ve never had a real family, and then I found Juliet and Parker. The Séance Club became my family. Whatever happens we are there for each other. And we mean it when we say we want you to join.”
I thought about that all night, unable to sleep.
The next morning I called Parker.
An abandoned farm up north you say?
* * * *
I navigated to the narrow alley and checked the time. The Exchange should be open. It looked out of context in the Saturday morning light. No bright light spilling from the window. No surge of Friday night after work traffic.
I slipped in the front door. A lone man lifted upturned stools down from the bar. He had his back to me and I crept across the hardwood floor in the direction of the stairs down and the bathrooms.
The vibration swelled in my chest, but I did not fear it. A dull pain rose in the base of my skull, but I gritted my teeth. A man wearing a pair of rough leather shoes came from the other end of the corridor and stopped before me.
“Are you here to help?”
I nodded.
X
submitted by SleeplessFromSundown to nosleep [link] [comments]


2023.05.29 16:16 Atari800kid He was just supposed to be a "FWB", a casual hookup, when convenient for both parties, right?

TLDR; stuff
He works the graveyard shift, I don't work at all, so when he asked to come here tonight, asking to be hugged to be held, that something was wrong, I, of course, Said yes, come.
I was already pretty blasted when he got here at 4am, after work.
He was too. He works in a bar..
Is that the default mode now for a true connection/ conversation?
Compromised?
Out it comes.
He is 27, stomach cancer, stage 3.
I don't process that information at all.
We go to bed, sleep.
I'm still awake, I had to do business calls to America.
We are cuddling.
He is my "little spoon."
I admire his body, tucked up against mine.
The warmth.
His breath on my arm that is resting on his chest.
That breath, feeling it on my arm, to me? Better than the best blowjob.
He stripped down to underwear to sleep.
The rise. The fall of his chest and shoulders, up and down, in and out. I make mental notes. To remember, this, this moment, forever.
His smell Omg.. The moment I landed in Bangkok and got in a taxi., that smell to me meant i was home again.
My nose is between his shoulder blades.
Intoxicating.
The addition of my wet kisses and licks adds my fragrance to the mix.
I'm loveproof. Really, I am. IDGAF is my religion.
Despite that, due to pheromones, or whatever, I'm falling in love. Right here, right now. It's an unstoppable chemical conflict.
The alcohol is wearing off as I hold him as he sleeps.
I'm aware again.
I'm alert.
He told me he has stage 3 stomach cancer, at 27 years old.
Hits me like nothing ever has.
I'm falling in love with someone terminal.
I get out of bed. It's like 10am, he'll sleep until 2pm at least.
I'm a wreck. Sobbing, stifled in a pillow.
I have to get my shit together.
I know what he needs.
Strength. Stoicism.
I know this, 100%.
I can't stop water coming from my eyes
If he wakes up right now and sees me like this crying, I already have a lame story of this being the anniversary of my dog's death.
I can't get control.
It's 1230 now. I need to get a grip, for him.
Tears like never before.
In my life.
I can't hide them.
Tik tok.
Finally. I get control.
Dom Daddy is back.
Strength.
I'm here for him.
Whatever he needs. Whoever he needs me to be..
Like Johnson and Johnson, "No more tears"
I'm his rock.
Think Gibraltar.
If you got this far, thank you for your time.
submitted by Atari800kid to askgaybros [link] [comments]


2023.05.29 16:10 folkloreLover22 How probable is that he's interested in me?

Yesterday I(27f) had a convo with a coworker(20M) and he said there's a possibility he's not returning next weekend to this job so he doesn't know whether we'll see each other again. I offered that I can take him out on a bicycle ride sometime and he mumbled something. I texted him after he left that if we really never see each other again, it was nice knowing him. he put a single tear emoji reaction on that text and wrote me "right back at you" and "we'll definitely meet one day". We met last year at work and in the beginning he put his hand on my shoulder one time and the other time he told me "you probably don't see me in that way" but due to our age difference(he's younger) I didn't act on it. So yeah, we didn't see each other for half a year, then met a few times at work and now this. How probable is it that he's interested in me? Or does he see me as a friend now and was just saying this out of kindness? Help a girl out!
TLDR: my coworker put a tear emoji on my text about not seeing each other anymore. is my coworker interested in me or just friendly?
submitted by folkloreLover22 to relationships [link] [comments]


2023.05.29 16:10 Ill_Kaleidoscope_443 Can't accept pleasure from my partner during sex

I [20f] and my boyfriend [20m], have been together for almost 4 years now (eachothers firsts). Everythings been always great for us relationship wise, except... sex.
Lets start at the begining of everything. I'll label each section so you can skip, as I'm sure this will be a long post. There's a TL;DR at the end.
------------------------------PREFACE---------------------------------
Don't know if this matters for anything, but I'll put here that he started getting off aged 9/10, and was about as sexed up as a 16 year old guy is at this point in our relationship. And I had only just started getting off at 15, and have never had a good connetion between arousal and getting off. I guess it's a lot easier to ignore when you don't have a penis sticking out. To put this in perspective, I basically got off at a rate of maybe once every 3 weeks, and that didn't change when we started dating (have been informed by friends that I should have been more horny and be getting off more given the fact I'd just started dating someone).
Things were, as they still are, going great with all aspects of our relationship. We were enjoying heavily making out round secluded corners of the school, and all normal teenage stuff, and as things progressed further, I started getting him off.
Now, my boyfriend, has always been a very competitive guy, and just can't accept defeat, and I, due to several reasons, have quite large self-esteem issues. So at this point, things naturally started going a bit downhill.
He'd try touch me, and get me off (very goal orientated person, hadn't realised at this point that sex was more than just orgasm, blaming porn for this), and get quite upset with himself after 5-10mins of trying. I'm lying there, trying my hardest, having no idea why it doesn't feel the way it does when I do it, trying to offer occasional suggestions which he'd get upset at. Spent almost everytime we had some form of sex consoling him and calming him down afterwards. He sounds like a dick at this point, but I've honestly forgiven him for everything, as prefaced before, we were eachothers firsts, and I can guess how it can become a frustrating thing after you've tried for the umpteenth time and still can't get your girl to orgasm, and we had an excellent relationship outside this.
Then comes lockdown, he's getting off like, 20 times a day (yes, a problem, yes, we delt with it quickly), missing me and sex, and I'm just feeling incredibly inferior and like I can't keep up at all (after all, aren't women meant to be able to come more times per men? At least my thoughts during the time), super low self esteem, every time we'd clandenstinely see eachother, I'd just focus all my attention to him in an effort to sate him a little, and not let him anywhere near me in terms of pleasure, worrying about him getting upset and annoyed and me feeling worse.
As follows, losing my virginity was pretty much an accident, I gave him permission to finger me, he misunderstood and thought I'd let him fuck me, and the rest is history.
Spent that entire summer in a horrible sex spiral, of which he was completely oblivious, and then the straw that broke the camels back was when he was fingering me (actually, something he did really well, only way he could touch me and give me pleasure, did it quite rarely though), and then proceeded to start putting a finger in my arse as well - something I'd expressly told him it was off limits, and never wanted him to do (just don't like it, haven't had any previous bad experiences, but was a hard no for me). I got up without a word, and went home.
Next few weeks of him (finally), understand what he did was wrong, me explaining how I felt throughout our entire relationship so far in terms of sex, him clearing up his act, promising to be better (stopping getting off so often...). I finally decided to give it another go after a few weeks and we took things really slowly from there.
------------------------------------------------------
He still struggled to make me come, but at least was very gentle about it, constantly asked for tips for improvement, constantly researching and trying out new things, was incredibly gentle towards me and sex in general, and always seemed eager to give me pleasure first, himself later. Took me another year, but, finally got me to orgasm, and it was a massive weight off both our shoulders.
However...
I feel like this whole experience really scarred me. 3.5 years down the line, I still don't want him to touch me. I shy away from all forms of sex, and he asks all the time to pleasure me, touch me. I ask what he wants and he only ever replies with that he wants to give me pleasure, and I just don't want to let him. My inhibitions only drop away when I get really aroused (ie, quite close to orgasm at this point), and straight after orgasm (guess I'm still high on floaty hormones), at which point I love him touching me etc. I do get some pleasure from pleasuring him/him being in me but I can't come from that.
I also feel that, being a female, I can never really 'tell' if I'm aroused. Would love to here other womens perspectives on this. I feel like men have it some much easier with the pointy thing. He always tries so hard to kiss me, caress me etc, and I often find my thoughts wondering and wanting to do something else (like I said, I only get into sex when I'm fairly near orgasm). I should put here that I'm really good at turning him on- can get him from 0-ready in about 15-20seconds, but then again he has a very high libido (feverently wants sex just an hour or 2 after we've had sex, he tones it down a lot and I think hopes I don't notice but I do)
Some people have suggested I'm asexual, but I disagree. I fairly enjoy getting off, and we do sometimes have great sex. Usually the great sex stems from something that means we really shouldn't be having sex (eg, we've had an argument, and I've asked for a few days to calm down), I feel like I can't stop finding him sexy then, and trying to turn him on and drive him wild, and then, ofc we end up having some form of sex, keep saying we'll stop, but we don't end up stopping till we've both come - I feel like the lack of weight of expectation for me really helps in these scenarios.
I just want everything to stop and find some way to actually enjoy sex. I'm so desperate that I've even started dreaming that I find some magical way to cure me. We're getting married in September, and I just can't accept the fact that we haven't delt with this yet, even though it's been such a long time.
We're both really demoralised by this, and we've tried absolutely everything (sans sex therapy, which we've gotten in contact with someone about). He's just so so eager to help and give me pleasure and I just want to go away and I just feel very disgusting throughout it all. I've gotten to the point where I want to cry at any mention of sex and want to avoid it at all costs, and he's getting more and more depressed at everything, hates himself for what happened right at the start, and is slowly losing the will for sex, knowing it'll just end up badly.
We're reaching the endpoint in this. We both love each other very much, and it hurts we still can't get this right.
What should we do?
TL;DR: Boyfriend struggled to make me come, and made me feel bad about it without meaning to, internalised it and despite being in a much better place sexually now, I can never accept any pleasure from my boyfriend, and we're both getting very upset over this now. It's been almost 4 years now. What should we do?
submitted by Ill_Kaleidoscope_443 to sex [link] [comments]


2023.05.29 15:00 stonescoldtakes NFL Update: 05/22/2023 - 05/28/2023 - OTAs are Back!!!

Layout:
— Individual Team News + Stone’s Cold Takes
— Miscellaneous/Other NFL News
— Restaurant of the Week - Washington D.C.
Arizona Cardinals:
After some decent news the last couple weeks for this organization there wasn’t really anything great from this week besides maybe the fact that if WR DeAndre Hopkins was a distraction to the team he now no longer is one. It will be interesting to see how things play out this year.
Atlanta Falcons:
It sounds like the situation with Keith Smith should get resolved rather quickly and was more of a misunderstanding than anything else. It will be fun for this young team to have joint practices with Miami and it will be a good way for their defense to get an initial test from an elite offense. I am sure the Dolphins won’t reveal all of their tricks but either way they will have to worry about guarding an elite offense with elite playmakers.
Baltimore Ravens:
It is crazy to think about how just about a month ago the news around the Ravens was all negative and that it seemed like the relationship with Lamar was fractured. Now here we are and Lamar seems about as happy as can be and is excited about the offense that is being installed under new OC Todd Monken. It will be exciting for him as well to have WR Rashod Bateman back who I still think can be a key playmaker on the team. It appears the Ravens could be set for big things even in a tough division.
Buffalo Bills:
Great to see the that S Damar Hamlin was back out practicing. I know it has been some time since his collapse on the field but it still feels like yesterday that I was watching that game in complete shock at what I had witnessed and worry for him and his family. WR Stefon Diggs being absent at OTAs is not a big deal to me. QB Josh Allen has a lot of other guys he needs to get familiar and work in with anyways and a lot of star players don’t attend OTAs to either get rest/recovery or to do their own workouts with their private coaches. I imagine he and Kincaid will be deadly this year and who knows they may even have WR DeAndre Hopkins joining them as the Bills were one of two teams that inquired and had talks about a trade for him.
Carolina Panthers:
Not too much news here other than what we saw and heard from OTAs about Bryce Young getting to take most of the 1st team reps. It appears that he looked good and his teammates were saying great things about him. It is tough to judge any quarterback though in the offseason because no matter what folks always say their young or new quarterback is looking amazing and things are progressing nicely. I will say though I have heard the most good things coming out from camps about him and Anthony Richardson of the Colts.
Chicago Bears:
Good news for Chicago fans who are excited for their move. It seems that things are proceeding nicely with the process of moving to a new stadium. Also, great to hear that Chase Claypool may be able to make more of a difference this year. It would be hard to be less effective than what he was last year for this team. I still believe he can be a major impact player like many expected him to be when he entered the league. It will be key for him to become Fields’ go to receiver over some of the other talent they have on the team.
Cincinnati Bengals:
This team has a lot to do in terms of contracts that they need to get figured out. The team view Tee Higgins in very high regard and so does Joe Burrow as they should. They also really want to get Logan Wilson signed. However, what will come out to being the biggest of the contracts they do this offseason is that of Joe Burrow. What will continue to make things tough here is the longer it takes for Justin Hebert to get his deal done because Burrow will likely be the last of the 4 quarterbacks to sign his because it is presumed he will get the most money and has an agent who like to wait til the last minute.
Cleveland Browns:
All good news for Browns fans so far. The team is looking good and their appears to be a lot of good vibes coming out of practice. WR DeAndre Hopkins is even considering coming to Cleveland for the chance to play with his old QB. Also, WR Elijah Moore is looking crisp and at least for the moment it appears he is much happier. It will all depend on if he actually gets the ball thrown to him during the season though.
Dallas Cowboys:
Not too much news here which is good for this franchise because they are almost always the center of attention. The main thing I took away from this week was just that things seems to be going well with McCarthy and Dak working together on the offense but that there have been some growing pains at least initially getting used to new systems as expected.
Denver Broncos:
It appeared to shock just about everyone when the news broke about K Brandon McManus getting released because he had become a fan favorite over the years in Denver. QB Russell Wilson has lost a lot of weight and it is evident just from seeing him this offseason. I didn’t think his weight was the issue hindering him last year but hopefully he can feel he is playing at a healthier weight. What I think most Denver fans were excited to see was RB Javonte Williams back on the practice field. He is going to end up being the real difference maker this year and whether this team competes with the top of the AFC or not will largely depend on him making the rest of the offense’s life easy or not.
Detroit Lions:
A lot of news here. Let’s start with the bad news. It appears that they may be having more penalties come down on their team/players due to the league’s gambling policy as their is an ongoing investigation into a 5th player from the team. Also, David Montgomery and Malcolm Rodriguez left the field with injuries. It is still early though and they appear to be minor injuries so hopefully it won’t affect them in the long term. Now some good news. It sounds like WR Jameson Williams is progressing nicely and the team got a new kicker in Riley Patterson from the Jaguars who should help the improve there. Lastly and maybe the biggest news is that Calvin “Megatron” Johnson was at OTAs hanging out with coaches and players. Many are hoping those good vibes carry over into the season.
Green Bay Packers:
Exciting news that Green Bay will get the draft in 2025! I was thinking they would try and stick to more southern states but they clearly are willing to go North with Detroit and now Green Bay being the hosts of the next two. HC Matt LaFleur appears to be being honest with everything and trying to temper expectations a bit with Jordan Love taking over. This could be to help take pressure off of Love and also just be the flat out truth that with any young quarterback it is going to take some time.
Houston Texans:
I am not surprised about DeMeco Ryans hesitancy about pursuing Jadeveon Clowney. First of all he just may not want to reveal his cards to others in the league about what he is thinking. The other thing is that he is one that likes for his defense to have an identity and a really good work ethic. I am not saying that Clowney can’t fit that mold but it just makes the selection process for what Ryans wants on defense that much more thorough. The other news that surprised some but something I mentioned a couple of weeks ago is that QB Davis Mills will compete with Stroud for the starting job and is viewed as a desirable QB to other teams around the league. I know his stats haven’t been the best but I am not sure any of the young quarterbacks would have done well with what the Texans organization has been the last couple years. At the end of the day CJ Stroud will end up being the team’s starter due to draft status and probably will be the more talented, better option.
Indianapolis Colts:
Overall things seems to be good for the organization. The main thing we are all waiting on is when Shaq Leonard will be able to get back out there and start practicing. It makes sense not to have him practicing now since things are optional anyways. The hype has been there for QB Anthony Richardson thus far and it appears he may be closer to starting right away than a lot of people thought.
Jacksonville Jaguars:
Not too much news out of Jacksonville other than the change at the kicker position. Things got busy and they were able to trade K Riley Patterson to the Lions rather than release like the reports had said prior. Then they went out and got a proven veteran in K Brandon McManus who had just been released from the Broncos squad. This team is going to be interesting this year and will go as far QB Trevor Lawrence can take them. Does not hurt to have the veteran kicker for the big moments that could be coming for this organization.
Kansas City Chiefs:
HC Andy Reid who normally is pretty quiet and doesn’t get too involved was in front of the media a lot this week it felt like. First, he is not a fan of the new kickoff rule and it appears most coaches are not. Second, he talked about how the team will not be using a FB because they are being phased out of the NFL and he feels that the TEs they have on the team can play the role when needed. Overall it seems things are going well for the Chiefs and things could be a going a lot better here soon as they appear to be a top option for WR DeAndre Hopkins and one the few teams that had trade talks before he was released.
Las Vegas Raiders:
It appears there is never a dull week with the Raiders. The news this week about Jimmy seem to add context potentially to what Davante Adams’ comments were about recently. With Tom Brady recently joining the ownership group here it makes us all wonder if the injury is not cleared up is there a way for him to un-retire once again…only time will tell.
Los Angeles Chargers:
Big news here getting the deal done with Austin Ekeler even if it still only keeps him around for 1 year. Thankfully now he should be semi-happy for that one year before he can go out and chase a big contract if he wants to.
Los Angeles Rams:
Not much news here really. Sounds like Matthew Stafford has taken Stetson Bennett under his wing and started to work with him and help him learn more about the transition to the NFL compared to college.
Miami Dolphins:
I loved seeing Tua wearing the helmet cam. I had not thought about it before but it should be great for him to be able to show McDaniel exactly what he is/was seeing out on the field to add context and allow McDaniel to better coach him and understand what is going on. I think this should be something all quarterbacks do and especially the top ones because it could gives coaches that much more information and a better understanding of how to help young quarterbacks in the future.
Minnesota Vikings:
All signs appear to be pointing towards RB Dalvin Cook getting released. In other news it will be good for the defense to develop the aggressive mindset that Brian Flores wants and should bring in the attitude from Miami that wad established during his time there that was so effective and led to them winning games.
New England Patriots:
The Patriots seems to always be up to something. It sounds like they were penalized the 2 days of OTAs and fined because of a meeting that Joe Judge held that lasted more than the permitted amount of time. Other tough news came when Raekwon McMillan got injured.
New Orleans Saints:
What a story. TE Foster Moreau finds out he has cancer in a physical with the team a couple months and gets ahead of things and is now practicing with them at OTAs. Interesting story here about former HC Jon Gruden working with the team because during his time with the Raiders many said that he and Carr did not get along. This team has a big opportunity to take over the NFC South and is probably the bet setup to do it with the team they have.
New York Giants:
It seems that everything is going great except the Saquon Barkley situation. There isn’t much new insight into it either after HC Daboll refused to speak on anything contract related. In good news it seems like TE Darren Waller is really enjoying being with the team and working with QB Daniel Jones. This is a team to me that is going to play inspired football like they did last year no matter what is going on because their HC.
New York Jets:
I imagine Jets fans held their breath when they saw Aaron Rodgers get injured as well as Allen Lazard. The good news is that those are not going to be issues in the long run. However, it reminded us all that QB Aaron Rodgers is not a young guy anymore and there is always the possibility that he like any other player in the NFL can get hurt. Hopefully the deal with Quinnen Williams can get done sooner rather than later. I am looking forward to the joint practices with the Bucs because they have a solid defense and it will be fun to hear how they fare in the early phases of implementing a lot of things from both Nathaniel Hackett and Aaron Rodgers.
Philadelphia Eagles:
Jordan Davis is going to be a key piece for the team this year in my opinion so it is great to hear he has made major strides. He is a force to be reckoned with when it comes to his sheer size and the more he can be weaponized the better.
Pittsburgh Steelers:
Great move to get Markus Golden. He can be dangerous in this defense and is only one season removed from a double digit sack year. Also, good to see that Robinson and Pickett appear to be getting along. I am curious to see who shakes out to be the #1 receiver on this team but have a feeling it will end up being Pickens because of how good he was last year and the chemistry he and Pickett already have. A QB likes it when his receiver makes life easier and bails him out. Pickens has already done that on multiple occasions for him.
San Francisco 49ers:
It is official the 49ers will host the 2026 Super Bowl! After speculations and rumors it finally became official this past week. Also, there was a lot of good QB news this week with all 3 of the QBs on the roster. Sounds like Brock Purdy is healing properly and as expected, Trey Lance is looking really good in OTAs along with Sam Darnold. Once again this offseason no one is sure who will be starting for the team come week 1.
Seattle Seahawks:
Good news for Seahawks fan that Tariq Woolen will be back around training camp time after his procedure. Other than that there was not much news here. They got a solid rotational/depth player in Artie Burns though.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers:
Great to see that Tampa has joint practices with the Jets. They have a tough defense and it will be good for Baker and the offense to get some work against that defense early on. The Bucs have some great weapons on the offensive side of the ball to really compete with those top defenses and if they can all stay healthy this team could be a dark horse team to watch. Overall this should be a good all around team.
Tennessee Titans:
Interesting to see that S Kevin Byard was not at OTAs after earlier this offseason it was rumored he was asked to take a pay cut. Definitely a situation to watch. The main news that came from OTAs is that QB Will Levis appears to be looking good and some folks think he could be putting pressure on Tannehill early on and moving himself up the depth chart.
Washington Commanders:
Feels like a lot happened with the Commanders. First off, I think QB Sam Howell is in a great spot to learn and develop this year with mentors like Jacoby Brissett and then his OC Eric Bieniemy. They will hold him accountable like has already been happening and help bring out the best in him. Now it definitely is an organization surrounded by distractions. First off the trademark application for the team’s name was denied and they hope to get something figured out but could lead to another name change. Also, the team is still working through the Josh Harris bid and there need to be some adjustments in order for it to get accepted by the other NFL Owners and the league. These distractions even though they may not always be good for the team they probably do help a young quarterback because he is not the only thing to talk about at this point in the offseason.
Miscellaneous/Other NFL News:

Restaurant of the Week: (Washington D.C. - TACOS 5 DE MAYO)
Don’t really have a great picture of this place but that may be a good thing. Often times I find that the places least advertised and that are holes in the wall is typically where you get the best Mexican food. This place is about a 10 minute drive from the stadium and probably closer to 15-20 minutes on game days depending on the time you go. Personally I recommend the Tacos Al Pastor. Those are basically a marinated pork taco that is slightly spicy with some sweet pineapple flavor in it. You cannot go wrong with Tacos Al Pastor and are by far my favorite. The other thing to keep an eye on is the Pupusas. While Pupusas are from El Salvador this place actually does a pretty dang good job of making them. For those that don’t know what Pupusas are they kind of resemble a stuffed pancake but are made of corn in most cases stuffed with either just cheese, cheese and beans, or cheese and pork. My order here would be 3 tacos al pastor and a cheese and bean pupusa. Enjoy!
submitted by stonescoldtakes to nfl [link] [comments]


2023.05.29 15:00 Klondike_Five Weekly Free* Speech Thread

Feel free* to chat about the week!

\ The term "free" is used in the sense common to conservative subreddits, where freedom of speech is restricted only to those whose biases align with the biases of those in power. Thus, comments will be removed at moderator discretion, and users whose biases differ from the biases of the moderators will be banned permanently. If you feel this infringes on your right to free speech and you find yourself crying tears of sadness, frustration, or rage, please consult the) Constitution where you will see that the First Amendment only restricts the government from denying one the right to free speech. Given that this is a subreddit and not Congress, whining from conservatives, while inevitable, is ultimately meaningless and has no argumentative merit.
submitted by Klondike_Five to WomenForTrump [link] [comments]


2023.05.29 14:53 Sergey_Preobr Rat

"Pig! Nasty fat pig! - Arthur thought with irritation, leaving the subway, - Squeals, as if she is being cut! Businesswoman! I would put this businesswoman with doggy style right on her huge table and fuck her like a..."
Arthur Lomov was thirty-four and he had everything, like people have - a house, a wife, a child, death ahead, and death inside. He also had a job that he hated. More precisely, the work itself did not cause rejection in him, work as work is no worse than then of others. He did not like the bosses (who likes their?). And not even all the bosses, but only the headmistress, the one whom he was going to "fuck". Sleek and haughty, she spoke to people with undisguised disgust, through her teeth, sincerely and deeply despising the "cattle" that surrounded her. Lomov including. He was nobody for her, a manager, what millions, not even an insect, but a bacterium, office plankton. She has not fired him until now just because there was no case. And then the crisis broke out and rumors about layoffs spread around the office.
And as luck would have it, Arthur mixed up some numbers in the quarterly report. Margarita Nikolaevna called him into the office, and screamed as if he had stabbed and robbed a beggar on the porch of church! Not only did she deduct 30 percent from his salary, she also promised to fire he next time! Yes, he himself would have gone, on the same day! If he had money, real big money, say a million dollars!
Arthur suddenly imagined how he, in an expensive dark gray Versace suit, with a small suitcase in his hand, ignoring the screams of secretary, opened the door with a kick and entered the hated office. How the headmistress's already round stupid eyes are rounded.
"What do you want, Lomov?" She asks.
“I have a business proposal!” He says and puts the case on the table; - I want to fuck you ... Yes, to fuck you now on that table fore million dollars! Behind, you a lustful bitch!
“Yes, you are drunk Lomov, leave my office immediately ...” the headmistress says and the last word gets stuck in her throat, because at that moment Arthur opens the suitcase and she sees tight green bundles with real American money.
The headmistress hardly takes her eyes off the dollars, looks at Lomov, then back at the money. Her primitive brain tries to comprehend the non-standard situation and begins to boil.
"Where did you get this from, Lomov?" she says, swallowing her saliva.
"Who cares? You agree?"
The woman's face is covered with red spots, becomes confused and even somehow miserable.
“This is so unexpected…” she mutters, “what if someone comes in?”
Lomov does not answer anything, and only looks at the headmistress, enjoying her confusion.
Finally, having overcome her excitement, she presses the "selector" button:
“Lena don’t let anyone in to see me! I'm busy!"
Then she raises her eyes to Lomov and begins to unbutton her blouse with trembling fingers, the buttons do not obey her, she throws it, grabs the zipper on her skirt.
At this moment, Lomov slams the suitcase shut and takes it off the table.
"Best wishes!" he says.
"In what sense?" The headmistress asks bewildered.
"I changed my mind!" Arthur calmly answers and, without looking back, leaves the office...
He dreamed so much that he almost fell under the wheels and right on the pedestrian crossing. Some idiot on a tinted "nine" flashed in front of him, Arthur barely had time to bounce, but did not calculate his strength and fell into a puddle.
“No, that’s not good,” he thought, rising to his feet and shaking off the dirt from his jacket, “I need to drink urgently!”
* * *
The pub turned out to be very unpresentable, but this did not bother Lomov. Taking two mugs of beer, he hardly found a free table in the bluish smoke and finally took his first long sip.
- Your headmistress got nitpicking you up, and you are completely innocent of anything? - Arthur heard a dry cracked voice in his ear.
He raised his eyes and saw that a dubious appearanceg peasant with a week-long stubble and two mugs of light beer was sitting at his table. Since the question was purely rhetorical, Arthur merely chuckled vaguely in response.
Now ask me, how do I know this? - the stranger did not want to lag behind.
- What is this?
- Well, the fact that you were fucked by your headmistress for no reason at all?
- Well, how do you know that? - Said Arthur to get rid of the importunate type.
- It's very simple - I'm God! - The stranger said triumphantly. And noticing the bewilderment in the eyes of the interlocutor, he explained:
- Well, the one who created the Earth, the Sky and all this! - He glanced around at the smoky pub.
The life of Artur Lomov developed in such a way that he was not ready for such meetings.
"Yeah, that's exactly how I imagined you!" he chuckled sarcastically.
But the impostor, as it turned out, was not going to joke at all.
- What did you want? I look like this because of you! Because that's how you represent me! And if you were a Hindu, I could now have an elephant's head and a long trunk. What if you were a Mayan...
- Don't, I understand everything, - Arthur stopped him, - Just don't expect me to buy you beer!
- Do not make me laugh! I can create so much beer that it will flood not only your entire Moscow, but the entire planet! And what, not a bad idea - a worldwide beer flood! It is high time! Pathetic little people completely lost their fear, they do what they want! I created such a beautiful planet for you: blue seas, snow-capped mountains, shady forests, crystal waters of rivers! And what did you turn it into?
“Yes, the guy seems to be in trouble with his head!” - thought Arthur, listening to the ravings of an uninvited drinking companion.
Finally, he couldn't take it anymore.
- Well, if you are so omnipotent, could you, just as an entertainment, create for me, let's say a small suitcase with a million dollars? Lomov asked.
“I could,” reply the impostor, not at all embarrassed, “but I won’t. You see, money is such a thing… no matter how much they give you it anyway, very soon you will feel that this is not enough. I'd rather make sure you never need money at all. Is it coming?
Arthur shrugged vaguely.
- I will turn you, well, let's say ... - the stranger thought for a second, - into a rat!
“I don’t want to be a rat,” Lomov suddenly got scared, “they are vile and nasty!”
- No, no, just a rat! Big black rat! But not today, tomorrow. In the meantime, drink your beer!
- Wait! Don't turn me into anyone! - Arthur shouted, but the hanyga had already vanished into cigarette smoke.
* * *
Arthur could not get the key into the keyhole for a long time, and when he finally managed to open the door, he saw his wife in a dressing gown with a crumpled night face.
- Where are you hanging out? – Unkindly asked she, - Do you know what time it is? And why isn't the cell phone answering?
- The phone is dead. Probably ... - Arthur muttered, barely moving his tongue.
- You're l drunk! - The wife said and grimaced in disgust, - And with whom did you get so drunk?
- You will not believe - with God!
- Moron! - said the wife and slapped Arthur on the head with a slipper.
- I am not kidding! I actually drank beer with God and he promised to turn me into a rat! Tomorrow! - He suddenly felt funny, and he began to choke with laughter, - Imagine, tomorrow you wake up, and your husband is a rat, or rather ratman! But it's tomorrow, and now I want to sleep!
- You idiot, take off your shoes! - said the wife and went to the kitchen.
Lomov threw off his shoes with difficulty and went into the bedroom and, without undressing, collapsed onto the bed.
* * *
He dreamed of some nonsense: Margarita Nikolaevna, completely naked, in only shoes, walked around the office, scolded negligent employees, gave valuable instructions. The subordinates listened to her with a serious look and nodded their heads. And only one Arthur could hardly contain the laughter. But when the naked headmistress began to teach the electrician how to properly install the outlet, Lomov could not stand it and literally neighed out loud.
- Lomov, what's the matter with you? - Margarita Nikolaevna asked sternly, - Did I say something funny? By the way, how are you going to compensate for the colossal loss that you caused the company with your mistakes in the report? Do you have a million dollars?
- I have? – Surprised Arthur – Where?
- Then we could cut off your hand! - Suggested Margarita Nikolaevna, - Although wait! Say, are you drinking?
- No!
- It's good that you don't drink, and then we'll take your liver. Or not, better a kidney, because you have two of them!
And then Arthur saw a huge kitchen knife flash in the headmistress's hand. He realized that it was time to run, but his legs suddenly became wobbly and he could not budge...
* * *
Waking up the next morning with a sore head, Arthur first tried to understand why he felt so bad? Obviously, because he got drunk yesterday - that's clear. He strained his brain, and he managed to remember the scandal arranged by the headmistress, as well as the promise to fire him. After such it was a sin not to get drunk! But where? He didn't remember this.
However, there was no time to think, he was already late for work. Taking a sip of cold tea from a cup standing on the table, he quickly dressed and rushed out into the street.
* * *
Despite all the efforts, Lomov was still late for work. As soon as he sat down at his desk and turned on the computer, the secretary called and said that Margarita Nikolaevna urgently wanted to see him. His heart immediately felt ugly and cold.
Arthur honestly tried, following Chekhov, to squeeze a slave out of himself, drop by drop, but somehow it didn’t work out very well. He could convince himself as much as he wanted that the worst thing this woman could do to him was to fire him. Only and everything! But after all, he has arms, legs and a head on his shoulders; he will not die of hunger. But as soon as he was in the director's office, all logical arguments instantly evaporated, and only one animal inexplicable irrational fear remained. That vile, shrill voice pulled things out of the depths of his subconscious that he didn't even know existed. He literally physically felt how he began to decrease in size.
Even now, standing in front of the huge director's desk, like a delinquent schoolboy, he could not get rid of the feeling of his own insignificance.
“Not only are you unable to write an elementary report,” Margarita Nikolaevna’s voice boomed in his ears, “you are also late!” What do you not like about your work? Or do you want to be reduced?
Lomov suddenly imagined that he really was reduced, and at the same moment he saw how all the items in the director's office, including the hostess, began to grow rapidly. He did not immediately guess that in fact no one and nothing is growing, and that he himself is decreasing in size.
- Arthur Valentinovich, what are you doing? – Finally noticed the strange metamorphoses headmistress, - Immediately stop, I order you!
But Lomov was no longer able to stop anything. He was already looking at the edge of the director's table from the bottom up, and after a couple of seconds he realized that his height did not exceed the height of a woman's shoe.
- Rat! - Margarita Nikolaevna suddenly squealed and jumped onto the table with unexpected agility, - Lena, come here soon!
Whistling a few centimeters from his temple, the massive crystal ashtray hit the carpet with a dull thud, and Arthur realized that any delay could cost him his life. With all his might, he rushed under the closet, and a mobile phone and a few obscene words flew after him.
- Where is the rat, Margarita Nikolaevna? - asked the secretary, who came running to the cry.
- She hid under the closet! Call the guard as soon as possible, the closet must be urgently moved away before she runs away!
Realizing that he could not hide here, Arthur began to look for a way out and soon discovered a gap between the plinth and the wall. With difficulty, squeezing through a narrow opening, he found himself in a pier between the main wall and the plasterboard panels with which the office was sheathed. Only now did he feel relatively safe and tried to analyze the situation.
First, he realized that not only had he shrunk in size, but even worse, he had turned into a rat (he never liked rats). This followed not only from the screams of the headmistress (she could call her subordinate and not that way!) but mainly from the long bare tail dragging after him.
And only then Arthur remembered yesterday's visit to the pub and dubious type who called himself God.
It must be said that yesterday he treated his random drinking companion rather lightly, but now, under the pressure of circumstances, he was forced to admit that the impostor was far from being as simple as it seemed to him at first glance. Of course, he is no God, that's clear. But who? For some reason I didn't want to think about it.
Meanwhile, a security guard came and pushed the closet away. They searched for Arthur for a long time and unsuccessfully, but found only a gap in the wall.
- She probably climbed into this hole, - said the guard, - now you can’t smoke her out of there! Or you order to break the wall?
Then the supply manager and some other people came, made noise, moved the furniture.
This bustle tired Lomov, and he dozed off, and when he woke up, there was dead silence. Obviously, the working day has already ended and everyone has gone home. He was terribly hungry, however, not surprising, because he had not eaten anything since yesterday. And then his nostrils caught a delicious smell, it came from the director's office, seeped through the cracks in the wall, penetrated into the brain and caused painful salivation.
Overcoming fear, Lomov cautiously crawled out of hiding and, sniffing the air, moved in the direction of the source of the seductive aroma. Very soon he realized that the smell was coming from the drawer. Using the wires leading to the monitor, he deftly climbed onto the table, but the drawer was closed, and Arthur's weak rat paws were simply unable to pull it out. Luckily, there was a pencil on the table, he pushed it through the slot and, acting as a lever, opened the drawer rather quickly. To his disappointment, he found there only a pile of useless papers and a thick stack of five thousandth bills tied with an elastic band. The impostor did not deceive, now Lomov's money was not at all interested, out of annoyance he even shit on them, but this only increased the hunger.
“Did the devil pull me to ask this idiot for a million dollars?! - he thought, listening to the hungry cramps in his stomach - And yet, where does this smell come from? How can money smell so delicious!”
He rummaged through the entire drawer filled with stupid papers and finally found in the very corner under some kind of contract a small moldy piece of cheese. Well, yes, of course, it was cheese, only he could emit such an attractive aroma.
Arthur ate it in a couple of seconds and of course he didn’t sated a drop. Unable to resist, he even began to gnaw at the contract, soaked with a cheese smell.
- Are you eating contracts? Look, you will earn an ulcer! - Arthur heard a sly voice behind him and turned around. On the edge of the table sat a small but rather pretty white rat.
- Hello! My name is Larisa, - the rat introduced herself, - And you are Arthur from the sales department!
- Exactly, but how do you know me?
- Yes, I used to work in the logistics department; I was fired six months ago.
- Larisa from logistics? I remember you! - Arthur was delighted, - Such a pretty blonde, you still always wore very short skirts, our men just twisted their necks when you walked down the corridor.
- That's why I was fired.
- Wait, are you, too, like I used to be a human?
- All rats were once people, - Larisa remarked philosophically, - but fear turns a person into an animal.
- What kind of nonsense? - Arthur was skeptical.
- No nonsense. British scientists conducted research and came to the conclusion that over the past 40 years, the IQ in rats has increased by 10 points! And at the same time in all rats living in different parts of the globe.
- And what? Rats live next to people and learn all sorts of tricky things from them!
- Let's admit it. Do you know how many people disappear without a trace every year in our country? 80 thousand! A man went out to the nearest store for bread and did not return!
- Do you think they all turn into rats?
- Maybe not all, but many. We have become!
It was difficult to object to such an argument, and Arthur remained silent.
- What are we all talking about? - said Larisa, - you're probably hungry? Come on, I've got something from the New Year's banquet.
Larisa led Arthur to her hole, where a sumptuous dinner was waiting for them: there were half-eaten sandwiches with boiled pork and smoked sausage, and assorted fish, and of course cheese, a lot of cheese.
Satisfying his hunger, Arthur took a closer look at Larisa and suddenly realized that he liked her. And even her long bare tail now did not cause disgust, but rather seemed piquant. And what a wonderful smell emanated from her small, but such a dexterous little body!
Unable to resist the call of the flesh, he approached her from behind and put his paws on her shoulders.
* * *
- Darling! Do you want us to have little rats? - Larisa asked a few minutes later, snuggling comfortably on Lomov's shoulder.
- What? What other rats? Arthur didn't understand.
- Well, how? We didn't protect ourselves! And I am very prolific, in the last litter I brought twelve rats!
- Oh my God! Lomov groaned, “But you can’t do it somehow so that ... well, you understand!”
- Don't you want us to have little rats?
- No, you misunderstood me, that's not the point! It's just all of a sudden...
- What is unexpected? If you don't want little rats, say so!
- It's not that I don't want little rats. You see, this happened to you a long time ago, and in six months you have probably turned into a real rat, you feel like a rat and think like a rat. And I was still a human this morning...
- You were office plankton! - Larisa reminded.
- Okay, so be it! But I walked on two legs, wore a blue suit, a striped tie, and drank Gösser beer.
- You can get beer in the garbage dump, - Larisa suggested, - Sometimes unfinished bottles are thrown there.
- I don't want beer from the dump, damn it! - Arthur got angry, - And I don't want to be a rat! Why on earth should I be a rat? Why, Lord? There are so many real scums around: thieves, robbers, murderers, rapists, child molesters! Well, why me?!
“You and I seem to have such karma,” Larisa sighed sadly, “never mind. Let's sleep better, and tomorrow we'll go to the garbage heap and find you a Gösser beer.
* * *
Lomov fell asleep and had a wonderful dream. In this dream, he was human again.
He was lying in a small bright room on a clean sheet, covered up to his chin with a striped woolen blanket. The gentle spring sun shone through the window, and the soul was light and calm.
He thought that, perhaps, he should go to wash and already threw back the covers, but at that moment voices and noise were heard outside the door. Arthur returned the blanket to its place and pretended to be asleep.
People entered the room, through narrowed eyelids Lomov could only see through the legs and the skirts of white coats.
- But Semyon Arkadyevich, pay attention, a very interesting case! - said the first rather pleasant male voice, - Sick Lomov, he entered yesterday. Hypomanic arousal in an acute form, convinced that he is a rat. When the team arrived, he rushed around the director's office, biting, scratching, trying to hide under the closet, barely managed to calm him down. He was injected with 4 cubes of chlorpromazine. When he wakes up, for some time he will adequately perceive the surrounding reality, but after a few hours the effect of the drug will end.
- Very good! - Answered the second voice, - continue aminazin, add more phenazepam and electroconvulsive therapy. Who's next for us?
- Maklakov, Delirium tremens, entered three days ago...
The voices began to fade, the dream gradually melted away and Lomov found himself again lying in the rat hole. A white rat sat next to him and somehow strangely (with tenderness?) looked at him.
- Larisa? You? - He asked, looking at the animal.
- Well, yes, Larisa, who else?
- You know Larisa, I had such a strange dream here! - Lomov yawned, unable to restrain himself, - As if I had become a man again, I was lying in a clean, bright room, some people in white coats were coming and saying something. It seems like I got sick, I'm in the hospital, and they treat me.
- I, too, at first dreamed of something similar, but then everything went away, - Larisa reassured him, - And it will pass for you too!
- I do not want will pass! Vice versa. Understand - I do not want to be a rat, sleep in this stinking hole, and eat garbage! I want to be human!
- Unfortunately, this is a one-way street.
- In what sense?
- I asked to other rats. There has never been such a case that a rat became a man.
- And what, there is no hope?
- To be honest, not the slightest. Okay, stop talking, let's go have breakfast in the trash, otherwise yesterday we ate up all the supplies!
- I won't go, - Arthur answered and lay down, resting his head on his front paws.
- Okay, lie down. Then I'll bring you something delicious. Do you want rotten herring intestines?
- No.
"Then what do you want I to bring?"
- I do not want anything.
- You can't do that, Arthur. If you don't eat, you'll get sick and soon die!
- That's good, everything is better than this life!
- You know, Arthur, I used to think so too, but then I realized one very simple thing: since we exist as outcasts ...
- Outcasts? Lomov asked.
- Well, yes - rats, cockroaches, crickets and others ... So, since we are exist, then someone needs it!
- To whom? To office plankton? So that they look at us and rejoice that it is not they who have to rummage through the garbage in search of rotten herring intestines?
- Well, yes, at least. And don't forget that at any moment they themselves can be in our place!
- I don't want to be a scarecrow for these one-celled!
- And what do you want?
- Don't know. I don't want to live, that's what!
- We must be careful with desires, - Larisa warned, - they tend to come true!
- Well, let! I want to die and the sooner the better!
- Bad deed is not tricky. There are thousands of ways: you can deliberately climb into a mousetrap, or, for example, go out into the yard in the evening and shout: “Cats are motherfuckers!”
- Faggots! Cretins! Jerks! - Heard the cries of Margarita Nikolaevna from behind the wall, - I will fire you all; you will eat rotten meat in my garbage dump! I told you yesterday to catch a rat! Not only did this bastard gobble up a million dollar contract, but he also pissed off my money!
“Money can be laundered,” the financial director advised timidly, “now many do it!
- Here you take Mark Antonovich and launder this money as you want! And you, Igor Ivanovich, as the head of the security department, urgently take care of the rat! And so that by tomorrow morning I could see her corpse!
- Then I went for mousetraps? Igor Ivanovich asked.
- Go, do something already! Do not stand like idols!
* * *
Arthur not only did not go with Larisa to the trash, but did not even touch the delicacies that she brought him. He spent the whole day lying in the hole, with his head on his paws and staring dully in front of him.
But by evening, when there was no food left, hunger began to make itself felt. Thoughts of suicide disappeared somewhere; he wanted cheese, ham, grain, and most importantly more and more. At first he endured, trying to hide his cowardice, but then he could not stand it.
- Listen Laris, and there you have nothing left to gnaw? - he asked.
- No, I finished everything, you refused! - Answered Larisa, - But I think it's time to visit our headmistress's office. The working day is already over; no one will interfere with us.
Four mousetraps were waiting for them in the office, richly stuffed with cheese, sausage and even lard.
- Give me a pencil! Larisa asked.
Arthur climbed onto the table and brought a pencil. Larisa put it in a mousetrap and it snapped shut, breaking the back of the pencil.
- Well, now you can safely eat cheese! - She said.
While Larisa was fiddling with the next mousetrap, Lomov decided to look for food on his own, and very quickly found a saucer of flour in the corner behind the bedside table. True, the smell of flour was a little strange, but the hunger was so strong that he did not become picky.
- You're so funny! - Larisa giggled when she saw Arthur, - you have a white mustache, and the whole muzzle!
- Yes, I'm here ... I found flour ... - Lomov muttered and began to embarrassedly rub his muzzle with varnishes.
- Wait, are you eating flour? Larisa asked, and her gaze was filled with genuine horror.
- Yes, what wrong? - Arthur spoke slowly, involuntarily infected by her fear.
- I knew it! You could not be left alone for a second; you are like a small child! It's my entire fault!
- Wait a minute, explain plainly what happened?
- There is such an old way of killing rats and mice. Flour is mixed with alabaster and placed in a conspicuous place. Now you will be thirsty, the alabaster will mix with the water, the solution will immediately seize, and you will die a slow and painful death.
- What if you don't drink?
- Then you will die of dehydration. Not a very pleasant ending either.
Wait, you must be wrong! Maybe there was no alabaster in that flour? 'Cause I can't die, I'm so young!
- Okay, let's go; let's look at your flour! - Larissa sighed.
Lomov showed her the saucer; the rat carefully sniffed it and confidently sentenced:
- The smell of alabaster!
- And what will happen now?
- Now you're going begin to die!
- No, it can't be! After all, I have not even begun to truly live, only I was going to! And most importantly - for what?
- I don’t understand where all of a sudden such a thirst for life comes from? Just a few hours ago, you yourself wanted to die!
- I was a fool! And now I understand everything, I want to live! Live by anyone: a blind mole, a cockroach, a worm.
- Whoever you are, sooner or later you would still have to die. Or did you think you'd live forever?
- No, of course, - Arthur was embarrassed, - I just didn't expect everything to happen so quickly and ridiculously. I am not ready!
- Well, get ready, you still have time! I told you - you will go to die for a long time.
- Wait, Laris, it seems it has begun!
- What started?
- Well, what were you talking about. There is something going on inside of me. It feels like... I don't know what to say. It seems like everything is starting to turn to stone!
- I knew it! Well, go to look for your last shelter!
- What other shelter?
- The rat, when it feels that its end is near, leaves its relatives, looks for a secluded place and hides there.
- For what?
- Such is the law - everyone dies alone!
But I don't want to die alone! In fact, I just don't want to die! However, I think I've already said that.
- Of course he did! Come on; crawl away faster while you can still move your paws!
* * *
Arthur wandered for a long time through some basement passageways, crawled into holes, but could not find a quiet place anywhere. There was a rat smell everywhere, or even worse, a cat smell. Finally, he managed to find a seemingly suitable hole, he lay down on a pile of dirty rags, but as soon as he closed his eyes, some devils appeared and dragged him to hell.
"Put me down," he shouted, "I don't want to go to hell! For what? I didn't do anything wrong!"
In response, the devils grinned and were talking among themselves in an incomprehensible language. And when he began to struggle, they twisted his hands (now he had hands!) Behind his back.
But the worst began when they arrived at the place. The devils put a funnel down Arthur's throat and began pouring molten lead into him. However, maybe it was not lead, but silver, platinum, or some other white metal.
Then he vomited with this liquid metal, and then the funnel was inserted again, and everything started all over again. But this was not enough for the devils, and they began to pour the same metal into it only from the other side. His insides were swollen, and it seemed that they were about to burst. Unable to bear the torment, Arthur passed out.
And when he came to himself, he saw a girlish face of angelic beauty bending over him. And suddenly this angelic face approached him and dug into his lips with a passionate kiss.
"Maybe I'm in heaven!" thought Arthur.
- Stop overworking, Lariska, don't you see, he's already recovered! - A rather unpleasant female voice came from somewhere above.
Larisa pulled away and spat.
“I thought he would never recover!” she said, wiping her lips with the back of her hand.
- Where I am? Arthur asked, looking around.
- Where, where, in Karaganda! - Answered the second girl and rolled up with a cheerful laugh, - You better tell us fool, why did you eat cement?
- Cement? So it was cement? – Delighted Arthur, - Definitely not alabaster?
- We have Tajiks doing repairs, - the girl explained, - there are bags of cement in the corridor, so you ate straight from the bag. Dzhamshut came running, complaining, if your patients eat our cement, how can we repair? You had to do a gastric lavage, and out of habit you almost go to hell! Well, Lariska noticed in time, you can say, she saved your life!
The nurses left (he guessed that they were nurses in white caps and gowns) and Lomov began to inspect the room. On the wall, framed under glass, he noticed a rather strange document. Arthur got out of bed, walked over and began to read.
“A reminder to the new arrivals.
Eight levels of hell.
  1. Arbuda-naraka - hell of blisters. On a dark frozen valley, surrounded by cold mountains, there is a constant blizzard and snow storm. The inhabitants of this hell are naked and lonely, and their bodies are covered with blisters from the cold. The time spent in this hell is how long it will take to empty a barrel of sesame seeds, if one grain is taken every hundred years.
  2. Nirarbuda-naraka - the hell of swelling blisters. This hell is even colder and the blisters swell and explode, leaving the bodies covered in blood and pus.
  3. Atata-naraka - hell when shaking from the cold.
  4. Hahava-naraka - the hell of weeping and groaning. When the victim moans from the cold.
  5. Huhuva-naraka - the hell of chattering teeth. Terrible chills and chattering of teeth.
  6. Utpala-naraka - the hell of the blue lotus, when the constant cold makes the whole skin turn blue like a lily.
  7. Padma-naraka - lotus hell. A snowstorm covers the frozen body, leaving bloody wounds.
  8. Mahapadma-naraka - the great lotus hell. The whole body cracks from the cold, and the internal organs also crack from the terrible frost.
Staying in each next level is 20 times longer than in the previous one.
After…"
What awaits the unfortunate then Lomov did not have time to find out - a doctor entered the ward. He felt his pulse, pulled his eyelids back, examined his tongue.
- Well, the patient, I see - your condition has stabilized, it's time for the procedures! - He said in a cheerful voice.
- What other procedures? Arthur asked suspiciously.
- Shock cryotherapy.
- What is this? Never heard of such a thing!
- No wonder, this is my own technique. It consists in the following: the patient is stripped naked and placed in a special chamber, cooled to an extremely low temperature...
- Wait, I can't be frozen, I can't stand the cold! My skin is covered with pimples and starts to beat like a fever!
- Get used to, a person gets used to everything. Moreover, you have eternity ahead of you!
Are you a doctor; are you out of your mind? What the hell is eternity? Are you going to freeze me forever? My heart can't take it, I'll just die!
- It's you who are crazy, - the doctor objected, - and now we will treat you!
- Do not treat me, doctor! Yes, I admit, I was sick, but now I am cured. Believe me, I'm healthy! I adequately perceive the reality around me! For God's sake, let me go!
- Would a healthy person eat cement? - The doctor grinned sarcastically.
The orderlies appeared - Lomov recognized in them the very devils who poured liquid metal into him.
They blindfolded the patient and led him through the endless hospital corridors. Then he was taken for a long time in an elevator, as it seemed to him down, and then again there were corridors.
* * *
- I can't be frozen, - just in case, Arthur warned, when the orderlies suddenly began to pull off his clothes, - I'm allergic to cold. I will die immediately!
- Not anymore! - The orderly assured, continuing to undress Lomov.
- In what sense? - Arthur didn't understand.
- In direct! You probably think you're in a psych ward?
- Yes of course! Where else can they bully people like that?
- Wow, "above the people"! - The orderly chuckled, - But just a few hours ago you considered yourself a rat!
- I was wrong! But now that I have realized my delusions, there is no need to keep me in your terrible hospital!
- I told you, this is not a hospital for you!
- What then?
- The ancient Greeks called this place Hades, the Muslims Sakar, the Buddhists - Naraka, the Christians - underworld or just Hell. Atheists believe that there is no such place at all. Remember that jerk on the tinted nine?
- Wait, what do you want to say? But I managed to jump back!
- As you can see, you didn’t have time! - The orderly grunted sarcastically, - You died before the arrival of the ambulance!
- How did I die? Wait, I'm… - Arthur tried to object, but suddenly he realized that he was talking to himself.
He tore off the bandage from his eyes and saw that he was standing completely alone, naked in the middle of an endless snowy plain, and the icy wind was beating his face, tearing tears from his eyes, which immediately hardened, turning into ice.
There was no strength to stand still, and he went at random, trembling all over and falling into the snow almost up to his knees...
submitted by Sergey_Preobr to libraryofshadows [link] [comments]


2023.05.29 14:41 BolsheviksParty I GOT AN OFFER!!!

After getting fired from my first job 6 months in back in 2021 I went into a state of depression and burnout. I could no longer find joy in programming, with time however, I recovered. I am now as motivated as when I first started out. I got back up on my feet after I started building out my passion project which reignited that spark.
I started applying at the worst time possible, when I could have easily gotten an offer during the hiring surge in early 2022 (Clickup was literally hiring HTML/CSS Developers). However, I came to realize that if I had managed to get my first job in 2021 with no relevant experience, I could do it again in 2023 with the hiring freeze and layoffs, even if the odds seems stacked against me.
This offer is a 70% increase in salary from my previous job! I am still in a state of shock to just know that someone would be willing to pay me this much, especially since I have no educational background and was an unemployed loser. They use the latest tech and are also a mid-sized company!
Estimation Time: 2 months and 15 days of jobs searching.I started low and then eventually worked my way up to 100+ applications a day. Around 30 interviews/phone calls. 5 final stages. One offer was about to be on the table until they realized I didn’t have a degree (this really put a chip on my shoulder).
And not a single damn Leetcode interview through the graces of God.Background: I have no degree, and completely self-taught. I got my first job at 19 only after one term of university and dropped out.
Here’s how I got back into the market with such a huge gap on my resume. Note: this is just based on my experience and presumptions.
  1. Mass apply, it quite literally is a numbers game. If there are thousands of job listings out there, eventually one will say yes. Do be careful of recruiting agencies, I tend to avoid job listings by them since they seem to be a waste of time.
  2. Exaggerate, embellish your work/experience but NEVER lie. You’re here to brag about yourself and how cool you are. The company is also doing the same so it’s okay to do the same.
  3. Polish your resume, this is REALLY important. Make it look structured and not something a kid could easily do.
  4. F*ck cover letters
  5. If you’re new to the industry, don’t ever apply jobs that uses myworkday job applications, they’re a WASTE of time.
  6. Most offers for juniors will require relocation sadly.
  7. NEVER talk sh*t about your previous employers
  8. Ask questions, not just any questions but GOOD questions. Show you’re interested in the company as well as trying to succeed. You’ll also learn a lot if they’re a sh*tty company to begin with.
  9. Jobs with 200+ applications? Apply anyways, I’ve gotten responses from them before.
  10. Have decent projects that you could talk about and explain your approach to building things
  11. Hone in on your “tell me about yourself“ answer and recite it. Make it interesting and RELEVANT
  12. Don’t forget to smile :D
  13. If you’re religious, pray. Count your blessings and do it with the right intentions. Ask yourself why do you want a dev job? To continue being a resentful pr*ck? To one day help and lead others? To support your family? To support yourself? Greed? I was very indecisive about whether or not I should post this, but decided to because I see so many negative posts on here about people not finding a job so I thought it's the least I could do by sharing some good news. Link: https://www.reddit.com/cscareerquestions/comments/oqowsm/jusgotlaioffdutoundeperformanceafte
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