Physicians come to Sermo to tap into the power of medical crowdsourcing, including second opinions, confirming or ruling out a diagnosis, or collecting feedback on treatment options. In fact, about 8,000 challenging cases are solved through medical crowdsourcing each year on SERMO. Chapter 03. Titus 3:3-8 - The Maintenance of Good Works. PDF by C H Spurgeon. Setting in Order the The Things That Are Wanting - An Exposition of Paul's Epistle to Titus (Part 10) Web Page by Robert D Decker. Titus 3:1-8 - Through the Washing of Regeneration. Web Page by John Piper. Sermo. Book 1 Chapter 03. Baptism Of Fire. The army of zeraks diminished considerably as Valdenn and Eli continued the fight. From that moment, even inside the zeraks hurricane, they could see the sky and some buildings of the city, as the armor of Valdenn glinted under SonnSol City's full moon. EARN: Just last year, Sermo paid out over $16 million in honoraria. Get paid for your expertise by taking part in online medical surveys and promotions. RATE: Participate in the only global peer-to-peer drug rating platform. Chapter 03 - Professional Ethics Chapter 03 Professional Ethics Answer Key True / False Questions 1. The Rules portion of the AICPA Code of Professional Conduct must be followed by only those members in private practice. FALSE AACSB: Ethics AICPA BB: Legal AICPA FN: Measurement Bloom's: Understand Difficulty: Medium Learning Objective: 03-03 Discuss the Principles section of the American ... Chapter 03 - Superstructure. SECTION 04 . FENCE AND RAILING (SUP-FR) OFFICE OF STRUCTURES STRUCTURAL DETAIL MANUAL . ... SUP-FR(FN)-101 S U P E R F E N C E / R A I L I NG. * FOR OFFICE USE ONLY * f o r a ll iti s p a n s n ea r l y e qu a l a s ov po ss ib l e. t r a n s on a r ea d e s c r ib e d on S h ee t 2. E ff r t s hou l d b e m a d e t ... [FN] SERMO Chapter 03 Sermo Book 1 Chapter 03 Baptism Of Fire The army of zeraks diminished considerably as Valdenn and Eli continued the fight. From that moment, even inside the zeraks hurricane, they could see the sky and some buildings of the city, as the armor of Valdenn glinted under SonnSol City's full moon. Sermo. Book 1 Chapter 03. Baptism Of Fire. The army of zeraks diminished considerably as Valdenn and Eli continued the fight. From that moment, even inside the zeraks hurricane, they could see the sky and some buildings of the city, as the armor of Valdenn glinted under SonnSol City's full moon. Chapter 03. Are You Born Again? - John 3:3. Web Page by J C Ryle. None But Jesus. Web Page by C H Spurgeon. John 3:16 - Do You Believe? Web Page by J C Ryle. The Text of John 3:13. PDF by David Black. Regeneration: The New Birth. Web Page by Greg Haslam. The Admirable Love of God in Giving his Own Son for Us - John 3:16. Sermo is a “virtual doctors’ lounge” that facilitates medical collaboration and crowdsourcing. From sharing challenging patient cases to asking tough questions, physicians come to Sermo to get the answers and support they need in real time. Today, we have over 800,000 verified doctors spanning 150+ countries – and we’re growing every day!
2020.09.25 20:59 AngelmZeal1 Wife solo caught
Book 1 Chapter 03
Baptism Of Fire
The army of zeraks diminished considerably as Valdenn and Eli continued the fight. From that moment, even inside the zeraks hurricane, they could see the sky and some buildings of the city, as the armor of Valdenn glinted under SonnSol City's full moon. The knight spotted Lissya from afar on the roof she stood on and hesitated for several seconds, waiting for a clear opportunity.
"Don't do that." Eli said quietly as to add a more serious tone to the suggestion.
Of course, the rush of adrenalin in the young man's blood went as far as to decide for himself, and his body moved forward, flying in the direction of the evil summoner. Lissya raised again her arms and made more zeraks appear for her technique. Unable to keep up with the tremendous amount of dark energy the summoning required, she bowed the knee to prevent herself from falling, weakened by her efforts.
Valdenn easily dodged the monsters, making his way through them by flying from left to right and vice versa until he could reach his target, without using his sword once. At the approach of the hero, Lissya stood, staring at her assailant with her eyes filled with despise and hatred. She watched him rush towards her and waited for the right moment to make sure he receives the surprise she prepared for him.
At five meters from Lissya, Valdenn pointed his sword at the occultist, and she responded by spitting a good amount of a black slime which hit the knight at the right wing. Too tired to even avoid him, she then watched the knight fall right on her, and they both passed through the roof like two spirits, engaged in a fierce and deadly battle.
"The hell?" a man dressed with only a short whispered at his window while he looked outside, trying to understand why there was such a strong wind in the middle of the night. Convinced that the weather broadcast did not mention the occurrence, he then looked at the sky, unable to see the zeraks summoned by the sorceress, and even more unaware of Valdenn fighting her right behind him in his bedroom.
Lissya took advantage of the spiritual realm by attempting to spit the black slime at the man looking through his window. Valdenn stopped the shot by sacrificing his left wing and found himself completely unable to fly. The sorceress smiled at him, ready to use that in her advantage. With the knight at her mercy, she decided to take the opportunity of finishing him. However, when she tried to attack the knight with another technique, she found herself unable to release the necessary dark energy for the summoning.
She looked at her hands, surprised by the occurrence, and did not even get the time to take a glimpse at Valdenn, already in the momentum of a counter attack, as his sword violently pierced her stomach. Gone at full speed for his attack, they both passed through several walls and soon found themselves falling from the last story of the building to the ground.
Eli released a huge and strong beam of blue light from his rod, and blinded all the monsters surrounding him. He then proceeded to transform his rod again to a whip and destroyed all the remaining zeraks. As his rod went back to its initial form, he stood in the air and looked around him for any sign of a monster summoned or the sorceress herself. Not seeing any of the two, he then sensed an evil presence which dark aura emanated from the ritual's location.
"Fools." he quietly said, his eyes widely opened, realizing what the summoners had just done. Maybe there was still time, he thought, flying toward Astin's house.
Some of the occultists noticed something strange on the seal, something that they were unable to explain at that moment. One of the four points of the star on the seal was lit with a vivid yellow light. Astin looked at Orozias, unable to even mutter anything in front of the massive and impressive supernatural entity. All the cult members bowed before Orozias and Astin quickly imitated them, an act of reverence which somehow prompted the evil spirit to break the silence.
Flying as fast as he could, Eli glimpsed Valdenn and Lissya lying on the ground near a large waste bean in a dark alley. But he could not resolve himself to stop for his apprentice he deeply cared for. Since the mission comes first, the mentor sped up in order to prevent an extraordinary catastrophe to occur, with the hope that there was not another sorcerer in the way.
"Who are you?" Orozias questioned, his lit and yellow burning eyes locked on Astin. His deep and echoing voice made all the cult members shiver in a strange mix of fear and amazement.
"Great. Oh great Orozias, your servants have gathered on this special night in your honor." Astin said, not daring to look at him longer.
"Who are you?" Orozias asked again.
Nervous and sweating, because of both the fear and the unbearable heat of the entity, Astin managed to reply:
"My name, is Astin Neal Keldon." he said, placing his hand against his chest. "All your servants here are members of a cult we founded in your honor. The Order of Orozias."
"What is your desire?" Orozias asked, still staring at Astin without blinking once.
"Our goal is to summon you in this world master, to free you from the dimension you were imprisoned in. We want you to reign here in this world, and unleash your fire of destruction" Astin explained, making big gestures while also taking furtive glimpses of the entity's face.
"Answer my question." Orozias said, literally raising the temperature in the room.
He quickly understood that he had to tame his emotions and answer the entity with wisdom, so that Orozias does not wreck havoc on his cult. Astin's eyes met Marcel's, who just nodded in trust and confidence about what the former had to respond.
"Our desire, oh great Orozias, is only to remain beside you during your reign of fire." Astin said and waited for the entity's reaction.
Eli soon saw Astin's house from afar. A bright yellow light was visible on one of the windows as well as numerous zeraks around the place, attracted by the presence of the malevolent entity. The blue light outlining his body and his rod intensified to get him ready for the upcoming battle that would be more dangerous than the previous one.
"What is your offering?" Orozias asked after several minutes of silence.
Suddenly caught off guard, Astin looked at the other members as they were all looking at each other, conscious about the fact that they did not prepare any sacrifice. They looked back at Astin, putting the whole burden on his head, and expecting him to answer with diplomacy and wisdom once again.
"Great Orozias, on this night of glory, what can we have to offer to you that is more valuable than your freedom?" Astin questioned back.
"I asked you a question, human. And you dare question me in return."
"Great Orozias, I only—"
"Silence !" Orozias yelled. At that instant, two members of the cult were struck with a spontaneous fire that burned them to ashes in seconds, not even letting them scream.
The other members, including Astin, fell on their backs and looked at Orozias, expecting him to make more victims on his next move.
"You talk of things you don't understand. You tell me that you freed me and you disturb me without preparing an offering!" Orozias added, burning several others in the room.
"We just wanted to fulfill the prophecy!" Astin said, trying to calm down the evil spirit.
"I said silence! And you dare defy my authority. Even the great witch herself think thoroughly before summoning me. Therefore, I shall not be submitted to mere insects like—"
"You will obey to my command spirit! You're bound to the seal of fire!" Astin yelled at the entity, presenting him the locket in his hand.
"The seal of the elementals." Orozias said, correcting Astin, who did not know how much the spirit despised the main item required to summon it. Without saying much more, Orozias released a tremendous heatwave from his whole body to silence the defiant and ignorant occultists who dared play with fire.
On his way to the ritual's location, Eli stopped its flight when he saw a phenomenal fire consume the whole house in a matter of seconds. The fire then got absorbed very quickly and entered in the symbol on the floor to disappear completely like it never existed. The only thing left of the house and the cult members was a pile of ashes, gently scattered by the mild wind of SonnSol City's dawn.
"Fools." Eli whispered again.
As soon as he said that word, among the concerned neighbors that came out of their houses amazed by the supernatural occurrence, his eyes caught a few zeraks who escaped the blazing fire rushing to the scene to feed on the residual dark energy. Filled with anger as he witnessed the voracious attitude of the vile parasites, Eli attacked them, while hearing the sirens of the approaching firefighters.
Valdenn opened an eye, still weak after his fall while fighting Lissya, awaken by her muffled whispers. He then opened his other eye and looked at her, trying hard to stand up in front of the sorceress. His wings still covered and neutralized by the black slime, he managed to stand next to her, his silver armor mirroring the dark blue color of the sky.
"Glo—glory—to Oro—Orozz..." Lissya said with her mouth filled with blood.
Touched by the pitiful spectacle, Valdenn still did not know what to do to help her at that point. Lying on the floor with Valdenn's sword still deep in her stomach, she looked at the sky with her eyes filled with pain, while several leaves and junk papers carried by the wind, rolled over her body. Before the first rays of sun appeared, Lissya breathed for the last time. A few minutes later, her body turned into ashes carried by the wind as if taken to the new destination of her damned and disturbed soul.
"Don't move." Valdenn heard his mentor's voice behind him.
"How did it go there?" Valdenn asked, completely ignored by Eli who removed the black slime from his apprentice's wings with one blast of blue light from his rod.
"Let's go!" Eli replied, then flew away towards their apartment.
Valdenn sighed as he watched Eli get further away, already preparing to get scolded by his master. He spread his wings and followed his master in the air. The sun enlightened the city, progressively dressing the buildings with a bright and warm yellow color, and filled the heart of the knight with the hope of a new day deprived from evil activities. A wishful thinking that he himself knew could never be true as long as the mission had to be fulfilled, for the good sake of the whole world, and his family in particular.
Far away from the violence of both the spiritual and the normal realms in the city, a man of great importance slept peacefully, lying in bed next to his wife. A tender piano melody resonated in the whole villa according to his own recommendations, in order to appease him when he needed to rest. Surrounded by his linen curtains and his soft carpets, the mildness of his sleep soon reached an abrupt end when his phone rang. He immediately opened his eyes to the sight of a chandelier glistening like a diamond. The man reached out for his phone without looking and answered the call.
"Yes?" he said as soon as he picked up.
"Mr Mayor, it's Wes. I got some important news."
"What's that?" Simon Ribburts asked while his wife started to stretch.
"There was a fire in some house at Volan Park, it was rented by a firefighter named Astin Keldon. The guy quitted his job and nobody ever saw him since."
"I can't tell, we all waiting for the experts for now. Neighbors say everything just burnt to ashes in seconds. Can you believe that?"
"Good job Wes, send the address to the driver so I can be on my way, and all the details to the others." the mayor said while leaving his bed. "This gonna be some good material for my campaign." he then added.
"Alright Mr Mayor."
On the way to the bedroom's bathroom, he composed a number to reach another person, already rubbing his hands in the depth of his heart. Simon closed the door behind him and went to stand in the front of the mirror as the recipient's phone started ringing. On the other end of the line, in a small apartment contrasting with her employer's villa, a lady jumped from her bed and ran in the direction of the fixed phone to pick up the call.
"Yes?" she nervously said answering the call, then realized her early morning blunder for not addressing her boss the right way. "Yes Mr Mayor? Good morning Mr Mayor!" she added trying to rectify the shot.
"There's been a fire at Volan Park."
"A fire? Oh that's so—"
"Listen Reecia, instead of getting your ugliness sleep, you better write a good speech for me this time. Not that other day trash or you getting fired before sunset. Wes will send you the details. Be on your way." he calmly said before he hung up.
Reecia heard the tone of the ending call, her face stuck into a blank expression while she stared into the void. Immobile for several seconds, she did not even realize that she still had the handset glued to her ear, until the discreet notification tone of her smartphone echoed in the dead silence of her apartment. She snapped out of her daze, dropped the handset, and started wondering how she could begin to deal with the task at hand, while scratching her head through her curly black hair.
Later on the same day, the two heroes were spending a quiet afternoon working on their regular job in order to subsist. Sitting in the living room with knives in hands, they carved through pieces of wood, sculpting magnificent statues and other objects, all of them inspired by the wonderful things Eli had the chance to admire during his missions as the 6th Valdenn. With the television set turned on, they listened to the Mayor's speech after watching the latest news about the serial killer in town. Simon Ribburts stood in front of the remains of Astin's house, with Reecia on his right and Wes on his left, speaking words of care and empathy:
"...for the good sake of this city despite his terrible trials. A man who gave his all, to keep us safe from disastrous accidents, just like the one he has just been victim of. He may have lost a lot by losing his house, but we pray and we wait for the experts' analysis, with the hope that he did not pay the ultimate in that fire. This city is shaken by very brutal and sad events, it's the truth, and it hurts. Concerning the killer, I can assure you that everything in our power has been set in motion to neutralize that threat, and justice will be served. But, on the other end, if Astin is alive, we have the duty to find him, to help him, because we are all part of the big family of SonnSol City. Therefore, we can't leave one of our own in distress..."
As the speech continued, Greg could not shake an idea that kept on growing bigger and clear in his mind. Maybe that was what Eli investigated on during all his solo operations. Even though Greg thought that Eli would not give him a precise answer, Greg chose the simplest way for once, and asked the question in order to erase any doubt in his mind:
"You think that's the guy?" Greg asked.
"The killer. The serial killer in town. You think that Astin guy is him?"
"I don't think so. I don't see why a serial killer would be interested in summoning an elemental spirit." Eli said.
"Don't worry. You'll know about them very soon."
"Why not just tell me now? Instead of just sculpting and listening to that crook." Greg said, pointing his knife at the Mayor on TV.
"Remember what the sacred scrolls say young man. There's a time for everything."
"Time? How many years it will take till I'm completely ready for the mission?"
"At this rate and with your attitude? Maybe all your life."
"What? All my life?" Greg said as he stopped sculpting. "And what about my family? How many seconds they have until I can finally get to them and keep them safe?"
"Your mission is oriented towards the world, and your family is part of it. But since you're talking about time let me ask you this. How much time did you give to that lady?"
"What? That girl with the zeraks? What do you mean?"
"You killed her Greg, like one of those vulgar parasites. Now you tell me, how much time did you give her?" Eli calmly asked, focused on finishing his sculpting work.
Greg stood up, unnerved by the question and made a few steps away from Eli as he passed his hand through his hair. "Listen, I didn't have a choice okay?" He said, walking back to his mentor.
"Oh really?" Eli said, adding a final touch to his work.
"She was about to finish me off, you saw my wings when you came back right?"
"Self-defense or not, it's still a failure on your part, young knight." Eli replied, finally looking at Greg. "First of all, we're light pilgrims. Secondly, we're knights of Sermo. Thirdly, and most importantly, we don't kill those people on the dark side and just send them to hell, we share the light with them to bring them back to the truth. That's the mission." he said before putting the statue he just finished on the table.
"Of course. The mission." Greg said, smiling with sarcasm.
"If you don't shake that fear for your family off your mind, you'll finally get them in real trouble yourself one day. Now get back to work, it's sunset already."
The apprentice sat back and looked at his master, who leisurely picked up another block of wood and started sculpting another statue.
"You know Eli, I'm starting to wonder if you think all that because you got nothing to lose."
"Wrong. I'm confident because I trust in The Highest."
"You're the only one who sees or hear Him after all."
"Grow in the spirit and you'll be able too. You really should, because the witch is coming, and she has no mercy left in her heart."
The apprentice just shook his head and resumed his work, beaten by the calm of his mentor, while in the corridor a couple was engaged in a fierce argument about a few drugs stolen. Eli looked at the door as soon as he heard them, and the idea that came to his mind at that moment made him smile.
On the evening, sparkling with all its lights on, SonnSol City seemed to rest a little after a whole day spent without any incident. However, Eli's words seemed to materialize after he pronounced them as a threat much closer to the witch he mentioned was about to be reborn like a phoenix.
A mild wind of doom blew on Volan Park, motioning the yellow bands around the pile of ashes left after the fire at Astin's place. The pile of ashes soon began to move, not only agitated by the wind but instead by something that made its way from underneath it to the surface. After seconds, even though nobody was found under the ashes, a pale human hand emerged from it with a burn mark of the elementals' seal on its palm.
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2020.09.25 02:33 WD_Stevenson Caught solo wife
Branches and limbs scraped against the sides of the truck and trailer as Clay forced the vehicle into the curtainous undergrowth. We'd have to be more stealthy than usual as this time our expedition wasn't exactly sanctioned. We searched for an old logging road or mine right of way, something that was semi open that we could drive down, and somewhere we could stage a trap. After several hours of pounding the woods we arrived at a geographic funnel of sorts. Older growth trees rimmed a marshy glade that was grown up with smaller saplings. It would have to do. We parked and immediately got to work, peeling loops of the cable from the spool and winding it through the larger trees. Clay used spikes, a sledgehammer, and a hand winch to tighten everything. We shoveled and compacted dirt in front of the trailer opening as a ramp. We'd essentially created a partial corral by the time we were done. I admired the trap, still having my doubts on the efficacy, but Clay swore the theory was sound. We chose the interstice beneath a willow tree for our camp, concealed from above by the drooping canopy. It was a rough camp. Bedrolls on a ground sheet, a canvas tarp stretched over the top to fend off the rain and mosquito netting hung to dissuade the incessant black flies. I'd never missed the wall tent and cot so much.
We didn't rest much those first days. When we did we slept in shifts. I generally took the first watch and Clay took the second. The monsters we were watching out for were of the human variety. Clay still had hard copies of his credentials so we hoped that if a ranger stumbled upon us we could talk our way out of it. We explored the mines and caves that pockmarked the forest and were long forgotten. The river was murky and brown, and after every crossing we stopped to scrape the leeches from our legs. Rain came and went, leaving the riparian woodland constantly damp. Each night we dried off beside a small fire and I picked Clay's brain about the contents of his book. He usually allowed a string of questions but cut them off at his discretion. When he was done talking that's all there was to it. We boiled rainwater and made pine needle tea, often propped up with a slug of bourbon that was never in short supply. We ate deer and elk jerky that he'd taken from the freezer at his home. He seemed to survive fine off of it but it left me still ravenously hungry and I picked handfuls of gooseberries and when I could them. It was exhausting work and it seemed that everyday I was tightening my belt another notch. The shotgun and pistol felt light in my hands as I'd become accustomed to the weight. Clay had filled the cat gun with home rolled incendiary rounds. He still carried the mighty Nitro double rifle, but had an AR-10 and magazines also loaded with incendiaries stashed close to camp. Fire was to be our tool. Empty bourbon bottles were filled with gasoline and shredded soap then wrapped in cordage soaked in a secretive concoction. Upon drying it resulted in a powdery film. Vials of drain cleaner high in sulfuric acid content were taped to the outside of the cocktails, which were designed to self ignite through chemical reaction. These too were stashed around the edges of our cable corral. We were as prepared as we could possibly be.
Another day came and went. I'd lost track by then of how long we'd been in that forest. Days, maybe weeks. I wasn't sure. Rations were running low to the point we'd taken to fishing with crude handlines in the early mornings and snaring rabbits to supplement our meals. We had spike camps lining the river banks to help conserve energy and not have to hike to base camp every evening if we didn't need to. I was beat. And hungry. So very hungry. Most of the time I felt hollow and drained. The lean meat didn't seem nourishing anymore and I found myself dreaming about burgers, fries, pizza, and all things greasily filling. Visions of cheese curds and fatty steaks were ballet dancing in my subconsciousness when I heard a cry. It was faint. A high pitched voice laden with agony and desperation. "Help..me..!" It called. I looked around for Clay who was nowhere to be seen. "Help..me..!" I heard it again. It sounded like a woman in distress. I slung the shotgun over my shoulder and took a step towards it. From nowhere a hand clamped onto my shoulder as Clay slipped soundlessly from the brush. He slowly shook his head as he looked me in the eye. The comprehension hit me as I thought back to the pages I'd read. We'd found what we were looking for, or it had found us. I wasn't sure which. Clay slipped his hand from my shoulder and cupped it to his mouth, throwing his voice and calling back. "We hear you, we're coming to help!"
We spun around and took off at a jog in the opposite direction. The creature would have honed in on us after Clay had answered the call. There was no need to pursue it. We were effectively being hunted. I found that I wasn't quite as terrified as I thought I would be. I was probably just too tired. It was by the good grace of adrenaline and peer pressure that I was able to keep pace with Clay. The calling remained a constant distance. It seemed to be moving as we were. Clay called back intermittently. We paused for breath after passing the spike camp. Clay looked at me as he wiped sweat from his face.
"It's not onto us yet. When it figures out what's going on shit is gonna get western. You got another mile or two in you?" He asked me.
"Yeah." I nodded. I didn't have much of a choice. "How are we gonna know when it catches on?"
"It's gonna come like a bat out of Hell. We just gotta hope we're near the trailer when it does."
We started beating feet again. The cries were becoming more angst ridden and desperate sounding, but also like they were getting closer. I cast glances over my shoulder as we jogged. I thought I could see a flash of movement here and there, could hear the snapping of sticks and see the swaying of the hemlocks. We hit the path we'd worn down in the foliage and had a half mile more to go when the branches parted and a towering, sickly yellow looking creature shot from the depths like it was flung from a catapult. The sound it made was was a gross mixture of torment and rage, belting through the air to slap me across the ears like a pair of wretched hands. I cringed under the pressure as it felt like the air was growing thin. I heard Clay yell "Run faster!" from ahead and I did so, facing forward and battling against the tremors that undulated beneath my skin. I could feel the monster behind me, gaining ground. It didn't move fluidly like the Dogmen had, nor with stoic purpose as did the Sasquatch. It flailed and crawled on double jointed legs, dragging and hurling itself forward with gangly yet powerful arms. The speed at which it moved should have been impossible. I saw Clay raise the big rifle and fire a single round. I heard the bullet strike that sounded like driving a blunt axe into an old hickory tree. The Wendigo faltered and shrieked. Clay and I continued to run. He was awkwardly jamming another round from his bandolier into the breech of the rifle and snapped it shut. The glade was ahead and I could see the dark hole in the trees where the open trailer waited. I felt the wind from grotesque claws swiping at my back and smelled the stench of death and decay that permeated the area like a noxious cloud. Clay whirled and fired again, over my head. My ears rang from the concussion of the rifle and the pungent smoke of burned powder instantly made my eyes water. Again the monster slowed enough that I was able to gain ground. Clay had stopped at the edge of the glade, waving me to keep going. "Remember the plan!" He yelled as he dunked two more cartridges in the Nitro. I nodded and ran as fast as I could, looking back just long enough to see the giant beast rising before Clay.
Behind my back there was a volley of fire and unrelenting, tortured roars. I dove to the ground and crawled beneath the lowest strand of cable before I turned around, raising the shotgun. Clay fired one last shot with the big rifle before he discarded it. I saw that he'd been firing at the extremities of the monster. Thick skin along thighs and shoulders were flayed and oozed a fluid I didn't recognize. It moved much slower that it had initially, but was still lightning quick as it reached out to snatch at Clay. He was in full sprint as he crossed the glade, barreling towards the open door of the trailer. The Wendigo looked only seconds from snagging him with it's wicked claws when it stopped. It milled in place and screeched. Clay had distanced himself and was attempting to catch his breath next to the cables, reaching through to grab the stashed semi auto and satchel of spare magazines. I took this as my cue and slunk around a tree at the rim of the funnel we'd created. I leveled the shotgun and clicked the safety off. I saw Clay glance over to make sure I was in place. The Wendigo spun towards Clay again who had a rifle in one hand and a bottle in the other. Clay yelled at it and moved forward, arcing the bottle high into the air so that it landed behind the creature. When it hit the ground it did so with an explosion. Fire spiraled upwards and outwards with a deep 'whoosh' that sent a shockwave of heat across the marsh. I took another cocktail into hand and did the same, sparking another burst of flame. Fire leapt and the orange glow interrupted by force the dusk that was trying to settle peacefully upon the land. I grabbed another bottle and threw it before I leveled my shotgun, firing as I advanced, belching flame like a dragon across the back of the monster to urge it forward. Clay was still acting as human bait. When the Wendigo tried to spin to face me and the wall of flame Clay peppered it with the AR to keep it's attention. It screamed, roared, and wailed against the forces we were putting on it, and in it's fury it finally focused again on Clay. Charred flesh fell like tree bark from it's body as he lunged forward, ripping and pulverizing the ground, bearing down on him. He ran again, up into the trailer, lingering on the edge of the ramp and shooting into what I supposed would pass as the monster's shins. He disappeared into the darkness as the creature fell to all fours and writhed into the trailer after him. I watched the trailer rock and sway, heard the muffled bellows and the scraping of steel. I skirted what was left of the flames and sprinted forward, grabbing the gate of the trailer with both hands to slam it shut. I latched it quickly and hoisted my shotgun as I rounded the corner. Clay was standing there, leaning against the pitching trailer, his hands on his knees. He'd made it out the access door at the front. As was the plan. We both stood there sucking air, and out of nowhere we both grinned.
"Told you it'd work." Clay said as his chest heaved.
"I never doubted you." I said, then asked. "This thing gonna hold it?"
"Yeah, for a while at least. The plating is lined with some alloy that I can't pronounce just for shit like this. Courtesy of Uncle Sam. It'll be good for as long as we need it, at least." Clay pushed himself up from the trailer side and walked back towards the scene of the battle, speaking to me over his shoulder as he did. "Work on breaking camp. Make it quick, we gonna need to get out of here pretty quick. Easy part's over with." He walked back to where he'd dropped the big double rifle and picked it up. I wondered how much harder this was going to get as I immediately set myself to the task of clean up. We had a lot to do, and likely little time to do it before the commotion would have the rangers swarming the area. That wasn't something we wanted to be around for.
Cables were unstrung and looped back around the spool, camp was hastily deconstructed and weapons were shoved beneath seats. It wasn't as neat or organized as when we'd set out, but time was of the essence, and it was good enough. The glade was wet enough that the fire was already burning itself out, leaving blackened scars behind. There were tracks along the narrow openings of the side slats of the trailer and Clay dodged clawed fingers as he slid heavy deadeners into them and pinned them into place. They greatly muffled the unholy sounds that the Wendigo emitted and I found that comforting. Once everything was done the truck bucked and pitched back through the woods and after an hour or better we were on a paved road that stretched the length of the river valley. We'd gone perhaps thirty winding miles when Clay eased the rig to a stop, and it shook as the monster in the trailer thrashed. Clay ignored it as he looked out the window into the night.
"This isn't far from that cluster of mines we found on foot the other day. I think this is where we need to set up. I guarantee Golden Boy has satellite imaging of the area, so he'll know they're there. Makes the whole thing believable."
"So how do we do this?" I asked as I leaned forward in my seat.
"We'll stash the trailer and chain it down so dipshit back there doesn't flip it over, then drive into town. You're gonna make a phone call to the field office in Bloomington and cry about getting attacked by a monster. Most people call the local sheriff but we're cutting out the middle man. Lay it on thick, tell'em you got a kid or a wife or something still out there and you're going back out presently to try to find them. I'd guess within a day or two the troops are gonna roll in. Golden Boy doesn't work alone, he'll have his lackeys with him but that's actually gonna work in our favor." Clay explained all of this as we dove off into the trees again. We didn't have to go very deep before we were concealed.
"I can do it, just got one requirement." I said decisively.
"We're gonna stop somewhere and eat in town. I'm sick of jerky and need something greasy."
The closest town according to the map was Crane Lake, and we immediately pointed the front bumper of the truck in the appropriate direction. Our precious cargo had been secured with cables and chains amid audible protests. Clay said that if we ran across any road kill deer we'd bring back what we could to somewhat pacify the monster before it did manage to break free of our ad hoc mobile cryptid prison. As was usual Clay didn't so much drive down the road as weave between the lanes as he was more focused on writing down the phone number I'd need on an old fuel receipt. It was late and I'd likely end up leaving a message, but that was good enough. The word would spread at the beginning of the next work day. The only bar and grill in town would suffice perfectly for our purposes. The truck clattered into silence in the parking lot. The charisma possessed between the two of us was overwhelmingly stacked on my side so Clay volunteered me to go in first. He'd follow after a bit. The place was relatively quiet. I placed a drink order and asked for a menu as I jammed a crinkled twenty dollar bill into the tip jar as obviously as I could without also looking arrogant. I bemoaned a story about my lost cellphone, and would they please let me use their landline quickly. The hostess was accommodating. I did as Clay had asked of me, leaving a message at the director's extension. It wasn't hard to sound exhausted and frantic, it was only hard to do it loud enough to be believable but quiet enough so that everyone in the bar didn't think I was insane. I felt as though I'd accomplished my mission and as if on cue as I hung up the phone Clay walked in. I saw his eyes dart around and he kept his head down, skirting the room. There was a single camera over the cash register and he was making sure to avoid it. He selected a table by the wall and faced towards the door. I thought about joining him, but decided to keep up the charade of traveling solo while we were here. I flirted with the bartender, ate copious amounts of assorted fried food, and drank beer until last call. I felt somewhat normal again. When I rose to leave I noticed that Clay had already gone.
I walked outside, buzzing and obscenely full. The air was crisp and chilly. I'd talked the bartender into selling me a six pack to go and dropped the tailgate of the pickup. I hopped up and sat on it, drank my beer, only partially wondering where he'd run off to. I wasn't exactly in a hurry to get back to the woods and our vengeful captive. Rested against a gear box and swung my feet as they dangled, basking in the blue and orange lamp light of the parking lot like some kind of half drunk nocturnal lizard. I waved to the bartender and assured her I wasn't up to anything nefarious as she locked up the establishment and headed to her car. She left me to my transient dereliction without fuss. Her brake lights flashed as she backed up and turned out of the parking lot. Her headlights swept briefly over a walking figure before she disappeared down the street. It was Clay, walking back towards the truck at a steady clip. I was glad to see his return, mainly because I was down to my last beer and would have hated to sit there much longer without one. He hit a button on his key fob and I heard the doors of the truck unlock. We both entered the cab and settled into our seats as he fired the vehicle up.
"I booked you a room at the hotel lodge down the road." He said unexpectedly.
"Uh..thanks. Why?" I replied, confused. Clay shrugged.
"You been working hard. Earned some downtime. All we're doing now is waiting so take a breather."
"You're staying too, aren't you?" I asked.
"Nah. Not much of a hotel guy." He handed me a key card in an envelope with a phone number written on it. "They got food, booze, the whole nine. Go crazy. That's the number to the burner if you need to get ahold of me." He told me as we pulled up to the front of the lodge. It was definitely higher end than I had expected. Two single story wings stretched out from a center lobby that was made of polished log, plate glass, and marble. A bronze statue of a moose was prominently displayed in front. Clay had spared no expense as he kicked me out of the truck and drove away. I carried my things inside and nodded to the receptionist who offered a polite smile. My room was on the end of the east wing next to a wide pair of heavy one way doors that led to the outside. I swiped my key and entered, flipping the lights on and immediately scanning for the location of a complimentary minibar. The rest of the night was a blur.
I didn't feel much of a need to leave my room the next morning. The sunlight peaked around the blackout curtains and felt like sand in my eyes. My head acutely throbbed and I grunted as I sat up. I'd never welcomed a hangover more in my life. My spirits were recharged and the long shower helped to alleviate the worst of the pounding. I'd slept breakfast away but an early lunch was within the realm of possibility. I got dressed and opened my door, taking a hard right to walk down the hall towards the dining area by the lobby. Everything was modernly rustic and spotless. The photos on the wall displayed decades worth of fishermen and other outdoor enthusiasts who seemed to come from all over the country to enjoy their recreational pursuits in the area. It made sense. The scenery was gorgeous, and the fishing superb. I turned my attention back to my quest for lunch and settled at a corner booth out of habit. The waiter was quick to take my order and bring me both water and a breakfast beer. Hair of the dog and whatnot. I felt a bit strange sitting there with no phone, no computer and no company. I was detached. It was strange and liberating. Left alone with my own thoughts and a journal to write them down in the old fashioned way. I scrawled passages and revisited others until my food arrived. I didn't dive in as I had the night before. I ate distractedly as I focused primarily on my writings, reaching to take a bite without ever looking up and at a very slow pace. It was the parade of heavy boots falling upon the marble floors of the lobby and in turn on the hardwood of the dining hall that caused me to glance up. I knew then why Clay had chosen this hotel, and why he'd staged me in it.
There were five in all. They dressed in black as one would think a cryptic paramilitary fire team would. I reckoned that there was a reason for the stereotype after all. They weren't exactly subtle and four of them gathered around a table not far from my booth. I kept my head down and my ears open. I caught snippets of various subjects. Mainly they bitched about the all night drive it had taken to get there. Their voices lowered and they leaned in. I strained to eavesdrop but they fell silent as the fifth man strode towards the table. They all looked towards him with reverence. He wore the same black ACU's as the rest of the team but with gold insignia above the left breast pocket that I couldn't read. The rest of the table addressed him as 'sir'. That had to be him. The infamous Golden Boy that Clay so deeply despised. I must've stared for a bit too long because his eyes caught mine and he glared harshly. I looked away and sank into my booth, forcing myself to focus on my plate without looking even more suspicious than I already was. When the man spoke it was in a gravely voice with a prominent northeastern accent that I couldn't readily place. He left the men at the table and turned on heel to walk out. When he rounded the corner of the dining room I counted to fifteen in my head, then got up and followed. I snuck a glance out of the corner of my eye at the subordinates, they were ignoring me. I stepped up my pace as casually as I could and swerved around corner to see Golden Boy disappear into a room down the same hallway as mine. I made a mental note and kept walking forward, out the front door and into the parking lot. I stretched my back and looked around. It was a beautiful afternoon. The line of three jet black SUVs with government tags backed neatly into parking spots near the door was the only thing that seemed out of place. I wonder what lies they'd come up with the justify their presence. The whole thing was a game of lies. At least Clay had some integrity. I almost felt dirty to be in the same hotel as the group. But, alas, it was part of a plan. Evidently Clay needed a pair of eyes in town and chose to let me believe I was getting a mini vacation out of the goodness of his heart. I tried to be mad about it but wasn't. I walked back to my room and flopped down on the bed. I drug the phone off of the nightstand and punched in the number to Clay's burner. He picked up on the third ring.
"They're here, dickhead." I said.
"Ok. Stay close to the phone. I'll call you tonight." I'm fairly certain he was in the process of hanging up before the last word was completely out of his mouth. I sighed and dropped the phone on a pillow. I closed my eyes and encouraged a nap to ambush me.
I woke up a couple hours later feeling much better. The hangover was all but completely gone. I explored the dresser drawers of my suite. Complimentary gym shorts and a white t-shirt. That meant there was a gym. I changed and walked out, looking for the facilities. It was small, consisting of a couple of treadmills, a few cable machines, and a pitiful looking rack of rubber dumbbells. It would do. I stretched and climbed onto a treadmill, jogging at an easy pace to warm up. I wasn't alone for long, however. Golden Boy showed up. Naturally. I averted my gaze and hit the incline button, my socked feet slapping against the belt as I increased my speed enough to drown out any effort he might have considered putting forth to talk. I felt his sharp gaze crawling over me like the legs of a spider. I ventured the briefest of glances and gave in return the flash of the friendliest smile I could muster. He looked away, annoyed, but didn't seem suspicious. The tension that hung about us broke and he focused on piling all of the dumbbells onto his lap and proceeded to do an infinite amount of tricep dips facing away from me. I continued to run until the meter read three miles. Good enough. I was ready to get out of there.
I slipped out of the little gym and wiped sweat from my eyes, making a beeline towards my room. I heard laughter from the dining area and paused to look through the archway as I passed. The other four men were there, drinking and joking, looking decidedly happy and approachable. I looked back towards the gym and saw the bouncing shadow of Golden Boy against the opposite wall. He'd likely be in there for awhile. With confidence born of stupidity I walked to the bar and planted myself on a stool next to the men. I flashed another wide smile, ordered a water and a bourbon, and when there was a lull in their conversation I interjected my way into it.
"You fella's the new game wardens?" Play dumb and friendly, I thought. And drunk. Drunk people are always curious and uninhibited. I hoped they were drunker than I.
"No. SWAT, here on a training exercise with the Sheriff's office. Helping them out." The answer finally came from the one who sat farthest from me. The other three had fallen silent and eyed me, but he seemed jovial. They had rehearsed their story. I scoffed on the inside, but nodded deeply and tried to seem fascinated.
"Well, in that case, the next round is on me, I appreciate what you do." I hailed the bartender and motioned for him to bring on another tray of beers and had him add shots of whiskey. The expressions of the men softened and a couple of them grinned. I lifted my glass in salute and took a drink. They did the same. Before long it was like we were old friends. They lied to me about who they were and what they were doing, albeit poorly. These men were young and green. I have no doubt they'd cut their teeth on distant clandestine battlefields, but they didn't seem like hunters. They seemed like soldiers. They hadn't seen the things Clay had seen. Or likely even the things I'd seen. It made me feel sorry for them. Still, I matched their lies with my own and concocted a story about being a recreational fisherman escaping the throes of a nasty divorce that they believed more and more with every shot of whiskey and tequila I slid in front of them. They warmed up to me rather quickly. Being stateside in a hotel had their guard was low. Our conversation was cut short by the bartender who beckoned me near, cupping his hand over the receiver of a phone. He asked me if I was a 'Mr. Stray'. It took a moment for the recognition to set in and I answered in the affirmative. He held the phone out to me and I took it, hunching over in the corner to speak quietly.
"I told you to stay near the goddamn phone. Getting the bar extension was like pulling teeth." Clay said from the other side.
"Yeah, sorry about that. What's up?" I asked as I heard the voices fall silent and felt the crawling gaze again. Golden Boy was rounding his team up behind me and herding them to their rooms with gruff commands.
"Prop the door open at the end of the hallway next to your room and go inside. I'll be there shortly."
He hung up before I could say anything else. I was annoyed but handed the phone back to the bartender with a nod of thanks and tabbed out, leaving a generous tip that would be charged to whatever prepaid card Clay had on file with the desk. I reached down and quickly swiped a doorstop on my way out of the dining area and wandered back down the hall towards my room. I looked over my shoulder before nudging the big glass door open a crack and wedging the doorstop in it. I swiped the keycard and entered my room, bolting the door behind me. I changed out of the gym clothing and back into my normal hiking clothes that I'd washed in the sink and let dry over the shower rack. Still damp, but tolerable. As an after thought I opened my travel bag and pulled out my chest rig and revolver and ducked into it, adjusting it and I settled on the edge of my bed, waiting for Clay to knock on my door.
I thought I could faintly hear the rumble of a diesel engine but wasn't quite sure. It stopped and idled. I watched the door. I heard the pin on the large exterior door jiggle and expected to hear my name called. It wasn't. The engine spooled up and faded away. I reached for the phone and was halfway through dialing the burner number when I felt an impact that shook the entire wing. The crash was deafening. I could hear the shatter of glass and the ripping of steel and concrete. Lights flickered on and off. I jumped up from the bed and put a hand on my pistol. Then came the roar. The primeval bellowing of hatred and rage. It resonated through the walls and I could feel it in my entire body. It was acrimony and violence of the purest form. I was nearly overcome by delirium as the monster swept through the hall. The human shouts and screams paled in comparison as they wound through the palpable fog of animosity. I almost didn't hear the window breaking behind me. I whirled around and had my pistol halfway out of my holster when I saw Clay fling the curtains to the side, clutching a tire iron in one hand. He looked at me and I ran across the room towards him.
"What room is he in?" He asked before I could utter a word. The look on his face was callous and calm.
"What the fuck did you do, Clay?" I screamed as he shot a hand out and grasped my neck. He hauled me towards the window, looking into my eyes.
"What room?" He growled again. That was the first time I'd ever been afraid of him.
"Uh..uh..104. Six rooms down.." I stammered. Clay released me and vanished from the window. The last thing I heard him say before he sprinted through the perfectly landscaped flowerbeds that lined the edge of the building was simple and haunting.
"Get as many out as you can."
The gunfire had begun. I didn't dare open the door and venture into the madness that lay beyond. I grabbed my travel bag and draped it over my shoulder before vaulting out of the broken window. I didn't follow Clay, I instead advanced around the front of the building towards the lobby doors. There was a string of people in the parking lot, scattering into the night as they made their escape. Luckily it was off season and there weren't many guests or staff, but there were still some. I felt ill at the prospect of innocent bystanders getting caught up in this invisible war. I flung the main door open and kicked a rock in front of it before ducking inside. Golden Boy's team was doing a semi satisfactory job of keeping the Wendigo hemmed up in the hallway, but they were falling back clumsily. I regretted buying them the drinks. The bartender and receptionist were cowering behind the front desk and dodging the debris with their hands over their heads. I shouted at them to run to me, but they couldn't hear. I sucked in a deep breath and ran across the lobby sliding to them. I motioned for them to follow me as I peaked around the corner. I watched the monster soaking up bullet after bullet and witnessed as it drove a clawed hand into the chest of the soldier who had been first to speak to me only an hour before. He was instantly eviscerated and the beast scooped handfuls of his innards to it's maw and greedily inhaled them. I led the pair across the floor and to the relative safety of the parking lot.
"Who else is in there?" I demanded to know.
"No one. Cleaners got out the side doors and the only other guests were down the west wing. They got out when it started. What is that thing?" The bartender had gathered up the fortitude to speak on behalf of the two of them.
"It's a figment of your fucking imagination. You two get out of here." They didn't need to be told twice.
The truck and trailer was clanging and banging as it rounded the hotel parking lot. Rubber tires squelched against the asphalt and the trailer rocked up on to wheels as it barreled towards the front. Clay locked up the brakes with a screech and jumped out with the AR-10 and a heavy duffelbag that caused him to grunt in exertion to heft it into his shoulder. He walked with purpose past me, looking like a man possessed. I started to follow and he yelled for me to get in the truck. It was not up for discussion. He walked into the mouth of the Hell he'd created when he crossed the threshold of the lobby and was soon swallowed by the accumulating smoke.
I could hear concentrated fire and saw bright flashes of yellow, orange, and blue. The creature roared but it seemed to be in pain rather than fury. Windows blew out as fire lashed against the glass and the walls. The smoke was thick and acrid, billowing upwards into the night sky and concealing the moon and stars. There was only one rifle barking in the chaos by then. When it ceased I felt anxiety grip me like cold fingers. A lone figure came running out breathing heavily with a suspended rifle bouncing against his hip. Clay gathered himself as he swung around the grille of the truck and clawed his way into the drivers seat. He shoved the truck into gear and we peeled away with the entire rig fishtailing before the tires were able to find firm purchase upon the street. In the mirrors I saw the glow. A series of explosions illuminated the trees until settling into a wreath of fire. By the morning the lodge would be nothing more than a pile of ash.
The flashing reds and blues flew by us with sirens wailing. We were already on our way out of town. Any trace of our ever being there was being eaten away piece by piece by the fire. We drove for the rest of the night in absolute silence. I didn't speak to Clay, and couldn't bring myself to look at him. I folded my arms across my chest and looked out the window. We'd gone a few hundred miles before the sun started threatening to peak over the eastern horizon. Clay spotted a gas station that wasn't open yet and devoid of life. He pulled into it to fuel. He swiped his card and began pumping diesel. I got out to stretch my legs. Eventually I couldn't take it anymore. I walked around the truck and looked at him.
"What the fuck, man?" Roiling emotions didn't allow me to say anything other than that.
"What?" His eyes snapped up to me.
"Fuck you mean, 'what'..you let a fucking Wendigo loose in a hotel." I was exasperated and I screamed in his face. "That wasn't the plan! The plan was to do that in the mines!"
"Plans change. Had to flush them out. It was a four man fire team made up of SF operators and their commander against us, Adam. What did you expect?" He leveled his words with an unsettling calmness devoid of remorse that made me want to strike him.
"I..I don't know. Maybe not burn down half the town. What did you even do? You kill them? Did you kill Golden Boy?" I put a hand on the truck and leaned into it, trying to gather myself as the diesel pump clicked off.
"No. Them boys were dead when I got in there. And I didn't kill Golden Boy." Clay said as he hung the pump up. I didn't believe him. Not this time. In my heart and soul I knew he was the one who ended them. I'd never have proof but it didn't matter. I watched as he walked to the back of the trailer and pressed one of the tail lights that was hanging by a wire back into place. I said as much too, when I joined him at the back.
"I don't believe you did all that and didn't kill them. You're fucking crazy, man." Clay eyed me. Like he was considering ripping me apart. I flinched as his hand shot out and he grasped the latch of the trailer gate. He snatched it up and outward, swinging the door open. I recoiled reflexively as he did so. He jerked his head towards the trailer. I looked in. Laying on the floor, bound with rope, zip ties, and duct tape was Golden Boy. He looked like he'd had the brakes beaten off of him but he was very much alive. His muffled yells leaked around the dirty rag that was shoved into his mouth and taped in place. Clay slammed the trailer door shut.
"Can't get intel from a corpse." He said as he turned on heel and walked back to the drivers side door.
I shook my head and rubbed my face. My feet felt heavy as I trudged back towards my side of the truck. I had to drag them and carefully consider every step. When I sat down I leaned back with a sigh and said the only thing I could think of.
"Nope..I suppose you can't.."
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2020.09.24 02:03 Zhanteimi A Tom Waits Primer
Disclaimer 1: This is not an attempt at scholarly analysis of the music or a comprehensive exploration of biographical information.
Disclaimer 2: I don't recommend listening to Waits' discography all at once.
In the 80s, he went experimental, especially with the rocking Swordfishtrombones. Rain Dogs continued his experimental rock exploration, and he closed the decade with Franks Wild Years, in which he embraced the dark cabaret he'd only dabbled in on the previous two albums. He tried to set aside what he called "the embarrassing baby photos" phase of his career.
Then came the 90s (and early 2000s). Keep in mind that Waits is singesongwriter throughout his career. He is just adding other genres to that folk-esque backbone style of his. Experimental rock continues to dominate his discography at this time, too, but let's throw in some blues rock, vocal jazz, and some more of that dark cabaret Waits just does so damn well. I mean, Alice and Blood Money are basically theater pieces anyway!
Speaking of theater, Waits was involved in many cinematic and stage projects, his most famous being The Black Rider, but he not only wrote and performed theater pieces and film soundtracks, he was also a prolific side actor in many films. I know that sounds like an oxymoron, but he said it himself: "I'm not an actor. I'm just a guy who does some acting."
This is merely the briefest of overviews into the life of a somewhat private and aloof artist who was just as interested in spending time with his wife and three children as making music for public appreciation. If anything has caught your attention so far, and if you're not turned off by Waits' "hobo act", his "pastiche of poverty", Barney Hoskyns' Lowside of the Road: A Life of Tom Waits and Patrick Humphries' The Many Lives of Tom Waits might be a couple biographies you'll want to check out.
Waits said in an interview that his uncle's gravelly voice intially inspired him. He also rejected the hippie movement and adhered to the Beat movement of the 50s, finding solace in Kerouac's musings. In fact, he later collaborated with William S. Burroughs on a theater piece. Randy Newman and Dr. John were big musical influences on him, and after Brennan introduced Waits to Captain Beefheart, Van Vliet's style was huge. Of course, Bob Dylan's influence loomed large for Waits, as it did for many singesongwriters in the 70s, and Waits once said that if you want to know how to write a song, listen to Merle Haggard.
Last.fm attempts to provide a list of similar artists, but this is really just a matter of opinion. I strongly disagree with some of these picks, but here are the top ones: Nick Cave, Leonard Cohen, Bob Dylan, Neil Young, Captain Beefheart, Townes Van Zandt, Lou Reed, Tim Buckley, and Van Morrison. As far as I'm concerned, this is more a list of "if you like Waits, you'll like these" than "these artists are similar to Waits". I guess for me the one in that list the most similar is Lou Reed, not only because of his style but the sometimes sordid always ramshackle content of his music.
In a 2005 interview, Waits was asked to list his top twenty albums of all time. These were his choices, and perhaps there are some clear marks of influence herein:
The Asylum Years (label formed in 1971 in LA, founded by David Geffen and part of the Warner Music Group).
The Tom Waits Library
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2020.09.24 01:52 PiBrickShop Solo wife caught
Here is my trip report, driving from Minneapolis to Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks, Sept. 11 through Sept. 18, 2020. I am a solo traveler on this trip, driving my Kia Optima, camping in a tent, and eating food that I’m bringing along. I’m a married father of two girls, and this is my first major solo trip. I visited YNP with my wife and kids last summer, and haven’t been to GTNP since I was about age 3.
DAY 1 - FRIDAY. Plan: Drive home to Teddy Roosevelt NP
Had to switch to Plan B immediately after leaving the house because Beartooth Pass was still closed when I left home. So reversed my route and driving toward the Bighorn Mountains instead. Drove 830 miles in 13 hours from Minneapolis area to Ten Sleep, WY. Took the loop through Badlands NP in South Dakota and bought my annual pass. Camped at Ten Sleep RV Park, and walked to Ten Sleep Brewing for an evening beer. Saw one cow moose in the Bighorns.
DAY 2 - SATURDAY. Plan: Drive Ten Sleep to Cooke City, MT
Making it all the way to Ten Sleep on day 1 allowed me to take my time getting to Cooke City, where I had a reservation at the Alpine Hotel (no camping due to bears). Departed Ten Sleep at 7am. Drove east back through Ten Sleep Canyon to see it going the other way. Then north to Sheridan, WY for a grocery stop. Next was back through the Bighorns on 14 to 14A, another amazing drive! Checked into the Alpine Hotel, and then headed into YNP for wolf viewing in the evening. Headed to Slough Creek and waited for wolves for two hours, but none were around. Headed back toward Cooke City, and found the Butte Junction wolves (and group of people) there. There were also two grizzly bear right with the wolves, with one wolf following each grizzly. The wolf and grizzly would interact occasionally, it was really neat!
DAY 3 - SUNDAY. Plan: Hike, Mammoth, Hike, end at Madison Campground
Left Cooke City at 615am. Watched the Junction Butte wolfpack again in Lamar Valley. Hiked to Hellroaring Creek, 4.32 miles RT (excellent hike with meadows, woods, ascents and descents). Hiked Mammoth Hot Springs including walking the driving loop, 3.76 miles total. Hiked the Norris Geyser Basin, 2.49 miles total. Drove Firehole Lake Drive, saw White Dome Geyser erupt. Drove out to West Yellowstone to get gas and to call my wife. On the way, watched a bull elk and his ~20 cows along the Madison River. Checked into my campsite at Madison Campground for 2 nights there. I was starting to get a bit tired, but it was too early to stay at camp, so I went for a short drive. I’m so glad I did! At Madison Junction in the Gibbon River, there was a crowd watching something, and I caught a glimpse of a moose heading into the woods. I stopped, and for the next two hours I followed the bull moose and two cows (from a safe distance of course). They stayed in the woods for a while, but I knew they would head back to the river, and eventually they did. They put on a great show! Be sure to watch the video in my album, it was a trip highlight!
DAY 4 - MONDAY. Plan: Hike, tour, geyser watch in YNP
Left Madison at 7am. Drove to Old Faithful area, and watched OF at 745am with just a handful of people. From there, hiked to Mallard Lake, 7.75 miles RT (nice hike with no other people). Walked the Upper Geyser Basin – saw Grand Geyser, Daisy, Lion (twice), OF from Beehive. Then I took a break in the car because Riverside was predicted in about 2.5 hours. As I sat in my car, I watched herds of people and cars, and got frustrated – all of that commotion wasn’t what I wanted. Did some research and found a backup – hiked up Purple Mountain, 6.49 miles RT (challenging climb, great view, few people). Drove Firehole Canyon Drive, and took a dip in the river. Drove to Grand Prismatic in the evening, but there were so many people still there so I didn’t stop.
DAY 5 - TUESDAY. Plan: Drive to GTNP, get campsite, hike to Delta Lake
Left Madison at 640am, and drove toward GTNP via Canyon and Hayden Valley. Saw 5 elk including two bulls, all of them were solo. In GTNP, stopped at Mormon Row and the TA Moulton barn. Drove to Gros Ventre to get a campsite. I waited in line for about 30 minutes, and finally got a site for 3 nights at about 10am. Headed out for the hike of the day – Lupine Meadows TH to Delta Lake. 8.5 miles RT, 2457 feet elevation gain. Fun, challenging hike, with an amazing view at the end, but Delta Lake is no “secret” hike. Then relaxed at the campsite in the evening.
DAY 6 - WEDNESDAY. Plan: Hike Cascade Canyon to Lake Solitude
Depart Gros Ventre at 605am headed to String Lake TH. Hiked String Lake, through Cascade Canyon, to Lake Solitude, and back. 16.79 miles total with 2670 feet of elevation gain. This was an AMAZING hike! I loved it so much – the views in the North Fork toward Lake Solitude are wonderful. Spent about an hour at Lake Solitude enjoying the scenery, ate lunch, saw a fox trot along the lake, and I swam to the small wooded island! The water was so cold but so energizing. In the evening, relaxed at the campsite, and walked around Gros Ventre campground – 2.71 miles total.
DAY 7 - THURSDAY. Plan: Hike Paintbrush Canyon to Holly Lake
Depart Gros Ventre at 6am toward String Lake TH. Hiked Paintbrush Canyon, and continued up toward Paintbrush Divide because I wanted to get over 10,000 ft. elevation. Paintbrush Canyon was really neat, and a different type of hike than Cascade Canyon. I saw one black bear, and a bull elk with two cows. Once over 10,000, I figured I should just go up to the Divide. After I got over the small glacier and saw the final ascent and evaluated my water situation, I decided not to go up to the Divide. Headed back down to destination #2, Holly Lake. Jumped into Holly Lake and talked to 4 other hikers there for a while, then returned to String Lake. 16.42 miles total, 3562 foot elevation gain. Afterward, I got my only restaurant food of the trip – a takeout pizza from Dornans, and it was really good. In the evening, relaxed at the campsite, took a dip/rinse in the Gros Ventre river, and walked along the Gros Ventre river and saw one cow moose.
DAY 8 - FRIDAY. Plan: Drive toward home including Beartooth Pass
Depart Gros Ventre at 6am. Drove north through YNP, exited NE entrance. Saw a few elk, many bison (duh!), a coyote in Lamar Valley. Drove over Beartooth Pass (saw three mountain goats), had a beer at Red Lodge Alex, and made it to Medora, ND Red Trail Campground at 7pm. DAY 9 - SATURDAY. Plan: Drive TRNP and to home Depart Red Trail Campground at 615am. Drove through Teddy Roosevelt NP for a while (saw wild turkey, prairie dogs, a lot of mule deer including four bucks). Then headed home, arriving here at 5pm.
On the trip, I really wanted to focus on good and challenging hikes away from the crowds, and I found that! The parks were very busy and popular parking spots were over-crowded. Getting just a mile or so away from the roads pays dividends! I also wanted to see wildlife, and wildlife cooperated.
The weather was amazing. Fire haze would settle in every day – mornings started out clear and it generally got hazier at the day went on. High temps were 75-80, lows at night 30-35, very little wind.
While driving, I listened to a lot of podcasts, which seemed to make the driving go much faster than music.
Thank you for reading! I’d love to answer any questions. I could provide a lot more commentary, but don’t want to bore everyone. In the end, amazing trip, and I really want to do more mountain hiking and would like to do a backcountry trip.
submitted by PiBrickShop to solotravel [link] [comments]
2020.09.21 21:08 iShrugs Solo wife caught
I’m crying. I'm hurting and confused. I haven’t slept for three days. I’m shaking. Convulsing. I punch my leg. I hate it. I hate my body. I hate myself. I don’t know who I am. I don’t know what I am.
I don't know if I will see her again. She blocked me from facebook. She was so mad. I just wanted to branch out and try something. Just to see. She always said she was open to us experimenting with other people, but whenever I brought it up, she always got defensive. I knew she wanted to, but I also knew she was scared of what might happen.
I’m riding in the passenger seat of my grandpa’s truck. I’m crying. My grandpa’s crying too. He’s rubbing my back and telling me it’s going to be alright. There’s a ringing in my ears. I don’t know if I will see her again.
I’m back home. My grandma and grandpa are whispering in the other room. I’m exhausted. I haven’t slept all night. She kept calling out for her mom. She even tried escaping once we got her to the hospital. I was so scared.
I’m petrified. My heart is racing, and I feel sick. We’re walking up the stairs and I feel my legs turning to Jello.
We’re in his room. The lights are dim. I look up at him and he smiles. I’m pretty much shaking. He laughs. His eyes are so warm, so full of love. He puts his hand on my shoulder, sees that I’m ok with being touched, and pulls me closer.
He kisses me. I feel so safe in his arms. It’s so much different than kissing a girl. His lips are bigger, my head is tilted back. I feel like I can let go. I don’t have to stand so rigid, or be so on edge.
Our clothes are coming off. He kisses me again when our shirts are off. I like feeling his bare skin on mine.
My pants slide off. I feel weird being naked in front of him. His smile calms me down. His pants come off. It’s mesmerizing, just dangling there. He watches me looking at. I can tell he’s going to enjoy taking my virginity. I know I will as well.
I’m naked. He’s naked. He steps forward to kiss me again. I feel it against mine. It makes me gasp. He shoves his tongue down my throat and presses me against the wall. I feel so safe. There’s nothing to be afraid of.
He’s on top of me. We’re grinding against each other. I love feeling how warm it is against my skin. He rolls off and we look in each other’s eyes. I want to do it. I slowly go down there. I grab it with the tips of my fingers. He flexes it. It startles me. He’s laughing, watching me. I’m looking up at him. It feels so smooth on my lips. I love how I make him feel. It’s literally perfect.
I look up at him. He has this look. I kiss him. I feels different after. I like it.
He’s giving me a massage. I need to relax. His fingers feel amazing pressing into my shoulders. I’m relaxed. I feel freer than I’ve ever been in my life.
Oh my god. It’s...oh my god….relax….it’s all the way in. There are no thoughts. There’s just feeling. I feel amazing.
Yes Drill Sergeant!
We talk about how I wish I was more feminine. He’d like me to dress. He thinks I’d be cute. I really want to. I want to be cute. I want to be soft. Delicate. Fragile. I’m too masculine. I’m too muscular. I’m too hairy. He offers to get me a wax. He assures me that my body is beautiful.
No, then my dad…
“Come live with me.”
I’m at a party. I drank to much. No one talked to me. No one ever talks to me. I’m scared and I don’t know how to talk to people.
No one loves me. I cry and I ruin everything. I run home.
We’re at a party. No one’s talking to me. I’m drunk and high. We play some game. I don’t remember. All the girls have to do something. I try to go.
We’re not allowed back at that house. We’re back at his place. He’s yelling at me for being a drunk idiot. “Don’t you know there’s a Puerto Rican gang that beats up gays in this town?! You are so lucky you met me. You probably would have found someone trying to give you AIDS on Craigslist.”
I leave him. I don’t feel good. I don’t feel safe. I feel wrong.
We’re at her parents. We just got back from our adventure on the West Coast. I’m falling apart. I couldn’t make it happen. I failed.
I keep trying. I can’t give up on finding a job. I’m writing so much every day. I’m working hard.
I’m on top of her, things are getting hot and heavy. I think about moving down to please her. Suddenly, I’m hit with a wave of nausea. I roll off her. I feel like a failure.
I keep trying. I can't give up on this relationship. I have to put in effort. I want to love her like she loves me.
I’m alone. I’m addicted to drugs. I’m addicted to porn. I can’t get a job. I have no friends. I’m terrified to leave my room, let alone go outside. I’m desperate to find someone who will understand.
Nothing matters. I’m a failure.
I can't kill myself. I have to put in effort.
It’s the strawberry festival. I’m scared. She tries to get me to come. She gives me countless reasons why I should come. They’re all right. She’s right. I need to go. It’s my chance to shine. I can’t.
She’s back from the festival. I can tell from the look in her eyes that it’s over. She’s had enough. She’s put up with more than anyone ever should.
I’m back home. I’m alone. I throw up.
I throw up. My legs ache and my head is pounding. My entire side is cramping. I didn’t think it would be this hard. I was always a fast runner, but I never ran more than a mile.
I’m in last place. I’m always in last place. Even the girls beat me. I can’t give up. I have to keep trying. I’m sore every day.
Our summer track club’s 4x400 team is competing in the Junior Olympics. I win two golds and one bronze at the regional invitation. We take seventh in the national finals.
My dad is proud of me. He helps coach our club team. I work hard every practice. All the coaches are amazed that I can hit the same time in my 200 meter repeats, to the tenth of a second, over and over again.
My teammates respect me, both in the club and on our school’s team. I have a lot of friends. I’m starting to meet people all the time. Maybe. Just maybe.
My hand is shaking. I can’t hold the pencil straight. I’m covering the piece of paper with one hand because I’m afraid someone might see what I’m writing. Butterflies are doing loop-de-loops in my stomach. I am crushing, hard.
I hand her the note. My palms are sweaty. She’s reading it and I’m losing my mind. She hands me back the note, which read “Do you like me?”
That was it. Nothing came of it. I didn’t know what to do. I was scared. We never talked to each other again. I feel like an idiot.
I throw up. I look down at the ice cream and cookie mush soup in the toilet.
It’s 5am. I’m running in a blizzard. It’s practice. I’m sprinting up the steepest hill in town for the twentieth time in a row. It’s after dark. I have to tell my friend’s mom who was kind enough to give me a ride home and offer dinner that I can’t eat because I have another practice with my club.
I’m entering the final stretch. I got the baton fifty meters behind and now I’m closing. The stadium is going nuts. Everyone’s cheering my name. My energy levels are through the roof, like I’m Goku calling on the world to create a spirit bomb. I can hear my dad over everyone. He’s so proud of me.
I’m closing on him as we reach the line. We’re neck and neck. I throw myself forward to clinch the win. He tries to as well, but he is dead. He tumbles over. My teammates rush over to hug me and shake my hand. I help him up because I know what it’s like to try and lose.
I feel like a god. Surely, any time now.
I’m with my first girlfriend. We're kissing in her room. Oh my God, it's happening. Approaching third base. I smell it. I push forward. I taste it. I’m telling myself to put the effort in. I eventually stop and mount her. It doesn’t feel good. I have a weird feeling inside my entire abdomen.
It’s some holiday and my mom’s side of the family is all gathered at her dad’s house. I'm with my cousins in the kids room. My one cousin and I decide to play the kissing game. We hide under the blankets with all the other kids in the room. We take turns kissing each other in different places.
Eventually, we decide to play a more advanced game. I kiss his penis, he kisses mine. I kiss his ass, he kisses mine. It's fun. One of our other cousins lifts up the blanket. She's a girl. He asks if she wants to join. She said no, but I remember feeling sick being so scared of her either joining or telling anyone that she saw me kissing his penis.
I'm in the shower with my mom. She’s hairy down there. I rub her. I smell it. It smells weird. She smacks me so hard that I fall out of the shower.
I'm in school, first grade. There’s a band concert for the entire school. I don’t remember the actual concert much. I just remember the girl who played a french horn solo. It sounded horrible. Everybody clapped, but I did what I saw and TV. I booed and gave her a thumbs down. I see her see me. She starts crying.
I find out that same girl committed suicide.
I get yanked to the side. I don’t even know what’s going on or why I’m in trouble. I thought that was what you did when you didn’t like a performance. Later my mom got a phone call from my teacher. She starts hitting me, and takes away the books she just got me. I had to hold a quarter against the wall with my nose for hours. It smells weird.
I'm messing in the kitchen. My mom's pissed for some reason. She tells me to leave. I keep bugging her. She yells at me to leave. I do, but then I jump in again. She grabs a knife and tries to slice me. I duck under the table, but she lunges after me and slams the knife into the yellow floor two times.
I'm playing under the table. I point out the stab marks. Her face goes white. The next month we get a new floor.
My mom is on phone with my grandma. I hear her say something about how she hid my birthday presents in the closet. Of course I check. She sees me and tried to back pedal with the conversation on the phone.
The next day, I get up before her and use my stool to check. Oh shit, she’s coming! I run back to the living room, jumping and sitting on my stool just as she was rounding the corner. No mom I just wanted to watch TV on my stool today. “Uh huh.” She goes to bathroom. I go to look. She comes bolting out. Tells me shes taking everything back, I don't get a birthday.
I don’t care about the presents. I scream at her over and over not to tell my dad.
My mom and dad are yelling, but unlike normal this fight is getting really intense. Things are being thrown. They are saying things I don’t understand but I know must be bad. I'm trying to be like Eeyore in my book and break up the fight, shoving my hands out between them and yelling for them to stop.
My mom has had enough. She leaves, raging so hard she doesn’t even bother to open up the garage door. Drives right through it. My dad and I chase after her. We find her walking near her mom’s house.
In the pool with mom. She's on raft, tells me not to get her wet. I swim under her. My foot gets caught on a rope in the raft. I can't get out from underneath it. I can't push up because my mom. I almost drown. Then I get yelled at because it's my fault.
I feel like it’s my fault our relationship fell apart. I couldn’t love her. I’m not good enough.
I’m crying. I wanted to race my friend, but our coach wanted us to do specific times. He bolted over to me yelling, angrier than I ever seen him.
I feel like a failure. I’m doing a cool down run, alternating between sprinting with pure anger coursing through my veins and weeping in a slow jog. Everyone keeps their distance. Afterwards, I feel much better. I feel so free, I even ask out a girl I was interested in. Of course, after my emotional melt down, she says no.
I’m 15. I’ve just been expelled from school for pulling a prank and then being identified as a troubled kid by the psychologist I had to see. I’m going to a new school, where no one knows me. I figure this is my chance to break out of my shell and get a girlfriend. There are a couple girls who seem interested in me. I’m completely oblivious until after I ask this one girl at my lunch table. She wasn’t really interested but gave me her number anyways.
My palms are sweaty. The number has been dialed, I just have to hit the call button. I press it. It’s ringing. She says hello. I say hi back. We chat a bit. Then radio silence. I don’t know what to say. I’m scared. This happens several times in a row. She’s not interested in me.
I wake up to a voice calling my name. It’s 3:28am. There’s no one there. There’s a ringing in my ear. I hear voices within it. I’m losing my mind.
I have to be awake for PT in an hour. I’m terrified of going. I’m the fastest one in the battalion, and one of the most fit, yet I can’t do it anymore. I keep messing up everything. I’m not good enough. I feel like I’m going to go to pieces every time someone tells me something, or corrects me, or yells at me.
In basic training, I would cry almost every night.
I’m the slowest one on the team again. I’m not used to this intensity or running these distances. No one likes me. No one cheers for me. I’m not good enough.
I have no friends. I had friends at the beginning of the year, but now no one likes me. I’ve ruined too many parties. They all think of me as a liability. I live alone because my two roommates moved out.
I’m alone. I don’t have any friends. I spend most afternoons either reading, learning to program my TI-83 calculator, or doing recreational math. Most weekends are filled with video games. I wasn’t allowed to play them during the week, or I would be doing that too.
I’m picked on in school. Last year I was beat up on the basketball court. I don’t try to play anymore. I was too aggressive. I just want to be good at something so I don’t feel this worthless.
One morning, an announcement about signing up for track catches my attention. I’ve always been fast. I was one of the fastest kids in little league baseball, even though I was definitely the worst at the game in the entire town.
The first day rolls around. We warm up with a mile around our school, just like in gym class. It’s easy enough and I’m far from last. Then we start lining up and doing paired sprints. When it’s our turn, I immediately lose sight of my partner as I take off with everything I have. As I pass our coach who was standing at the line, he whistles. I look at him. He has this look in his eye. I know then that I found what I was looking for.
I’m running an 800m at an invitational. This is my third event, and I’m exhausted. I didn’t do well in my other two races, and my dad has this look about him. He’s angry. Disappointed. He’s yelling at me.
PUSH IT! SPRINT! GO!
I try, but my body feels terrible. I finish close to last. My coach understands, and tells me he expected it with the practices we’ve been doing. It wasn’t an important invitational, and he’s preparing me for the end of the year.
My dad’s yelling at me in the car on the way home. I’m not dedicated enough. I have to work harder. I have to go to my club practice every day now. I just stare out the window, numb. There’s a ringing in my ear.
We’re going ice skating with his girlfriend and her two boys, ages fourteen and eleven. The eleven year old and I are friends, pretty much brothers by this point. He’s fun and he’s really the first friend I ever had that I was close to. We enjoy a lot of the same things, and we cuddled a couple times while watching TV. I really enjoyed those nights.
I go skating with my mom. We have the whole rink to ourselves, yet I keep falling over. She eventually gets fed up and takes me home. Later that night she snaps at me for not picking up my books, then slaps me as I go to pick them up.
I keep falling over. I’m not good enough. My dad’s girlfriend and her boys are trying to help me. My dad didn’t even bother trying to skate. He’s up in the bleachers watching us. Every time I look at him he looks pissed off. I think we only went tonight because I said I wanted to go because I wanted to spend time with her youngest.
We’re back at her place to watch a movie. My dad is just emanating this vibe of pure pissiness. I’m praying that we stay the night. He might calm down then.
I look at her son. I want him to hold me. He makes me feel safe.
The movie ends. We’re going, despite it already being midnight. His girlfriend is insisting we stay, but he is insistent that we leave. I know what’s coming. I feel the doom lingering overhead and in my gut.
We’re in the car driving home. He hasn’t said a word. We’re going over a bridge when suddenly my head is slammed into the window. My ear is ringing. I’m slammed into it again. He’s yelling at me, telling me I’m this and I’m that. He calls me every name under the sun.
I think he’s mad because his relationship is ending.
My dad has a different girlfriend. We’re out eating with his girlfriend and her one son, age eight. The night is going fine, but then they start singing. Her son deliberately starts screeching, a call back to a joke we had earlier in the day. I plug my ears, which royally pisses my dad off. He thinks I was being disrespectful to her.
I try to explain that I’m not but it’s too late. Dinner’s over and we’re leaving. They walk away first and my dad tells me to “hurry up, asshole.”
The car ride home feels like an eternity. My ear is ringing. I know he’s going to blow up on me as soon as we’re home and they leave. I remember us reaching the exit on the highway by our house and thinking this is it. Time to die.
She notices something is off, so she comes talk to me while he’s in the bathroom. I don’t tell her anything, but it is obvious that I’m scared. She says she will talk to him. She does and he doesn’t attack me that night.
I forgot to do my math homework, but it’s fractions so I know I’ll be able to do it before class. It’s Sunday, and my dad has a rule that I need to not wait until the last minute to do all my work.
I’m playing video games upstairs when I hear my dad cursing from the basement. Apparently a sewer line broke, and my dad is hauling literal shit up and out of the house. I try to help, but I just get in the way. He pushes me, and I try harder.
Time goes on. It doesn’t look like this is going to be over any time soon. Out of the blue, my dad asks if I did my homework.
My head’s getting slammed against the kitchen floor over and over and over again. All I see as my world’s shaking is his bald head, so red it looks like a cherry tomato. My glasses fly off. He smacks them away. I didn’t need them right then, so they’re useless. He calls me useless as he’s getting off of me.
I get up and grab my backpack. There’s a ringing in my ears. I start doing my homework at the kitchen table, but my hands shaking so much I can barely write. He goes back down. He comes back up again and throws the waste water outside.
I’m back on the floor. My head’s getting slammed again. Now I’m doing homework and getting the door for him. I get it too late, and he has to slow down. He yells at me with this look of pure rage in his eyes. I’m terrified. He goes back down and I return to my homework. He comes back up, but this time I’m too zealous. I slam the door against the wall.
I’m on the floor again. He calls me a retarded faggot. I get up and only focus on the door. I can’t do anything right.
He tells me this is the last load. He stays outside smoking. I’m just standing in the kitchen with my mind racing. I have to do something. I can’t let myself do something to deserve that again. I decide to do my homework.
He comes in and sees me doing my homework. He has an incredulous look on his face and asks me who told me to do my homework. I fear I’m going on the floor again. The tears are welling in my eyes, but he just shakes his head.
Fifteen minutes later, his girlfriend calls. Everything’s fine. He’s talking normally, calmly. Nothing happened and we’re off to dinner with her and her two sons.
My dad has a different girlfriend, his future ex-wife. She goes off to a dart tournament for a weekend. I do what I normally do on the weekends: I go upstairs and I play video games.
She’s starting to go downhill. I’m scared. I know she’s dying. I’ve known she’s been dying my whole life, I just never acknowledged it. I don’t want to look in her eye again. I play video games.
I’m 10. I’m 11. Im 12. I’m 13. I’m 14. I’m 15.
My dad yells at me, telling me I’m a terrible person because I chose to play video games instead of spending time with her.
I won first place at the science fair. They’re both proud of me. I can’t look at her though. She just had the stitches in her dead eye removed. She looks like less of a zombie now, but she’s still scary. I try to avoid her gaze.
My dad’s in a mood. I try to avoid spending time with him. This just makes him more upset.
We get a new couch. I put my feet on it. He responds by yanking me by the leg and punching me in the bone. The next day, he’s super ornery. I know it’s coming, I just don’t know what will trigger it. He asks me if I took out the trash.
I don’t remember all of it. I’m thrown around and slammed against whatever’s nearby. He smashes my head into the back of my door, breaking it. He would later say that I did it. He’s choking me on the bed, then swats me around. He goes to choke me again, and I grab his wrist in an attempt to stop him. He smiles. He tells me not to resist.
He throws me to the ground. I had two shelves that held everything my mom ever made me. Everything is broken on the floor. He carries me to the living room, dropping me on the ground. He tells me to lay there like a dog. He gets the vacuum, then hits me in the head on the way to my room. He cleans up. Then he hits me in the head again on the way back.
He tells me to go sit on my bed. “Don’t. Move. An. Inch.” He goes to the dump and I’m left sitting there, staring at the same letter e on the spine of a book in front of me. I’m frozen in place. My biggest fear is him finding out I had taken some of his girlfriend’s porn cards and hid them in with my Pokemon cards. I think I could take them back. No. He could come back at any minute.
He’s back. He asks if I have anything to say. Frozen. He tells me to stand up, that I don’t deserve to sit. He tells me to think of an apology. I stood there coming up with an memorizing the best apology I could think of. I still remember it.
I’m sorry dad. I’m sorry for being lazy and not respecting you. I’m sorry I did not take out the trash and I promise that I will be better in the future. I will put more effort into being a better son. I am to blame for upsetting you. I am inconsiderate and I’m sorry.
It’s not good enough. I stand. I stand. I stand some more. Hours go by. I’m still standing, not moving an inch. He comes back and asks if I have anything to say. I start to rattle off another apology I had been working on. He just walks away. I keep standing. It’s past my bedtime. Still standing.
Come. I come. He talks to me. His talking. It’s indescribable. It is a slow and calculated speech. He shits in my soul line by line. He has certain phrases that he repeats. I am not angry, I am livid. Am I crystal clear, with heavy emphasis on the crystal.
The lecture runs right into predictable territory. I’m selfish because I didn’t spend time with her. Do you know what she died from? I respond cancer, as I’ve been told. No. She had AIDS Greg. Do you know what AIDS is? Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome.She got it by being irresponsible, like you.
I’m called upstairs. My dad’s at the computer. He spends the night showing me pictures of STD-infected genitals. Everything is horrifically gross. Disgusting. But I stand there and watch as he shows and describes to me how each person got their disease and what it does.
Sex is bad.
I’m in health class. We’re going over a unit on STDs. The teacher begins showing us some pictures. I feel light-headed. I pass out.
As I’m standing listening to him lecture me, my vision starts getting weird. His face keeps morphing. I keep blinking to get it back to normal. I start getting galactic visuals like when you press on your eyes. Things go black. I wake up on the couch with a bag of frozen peas on my head. My dad seems concerned. He asks me how I’m feeling and gives me a popsicle. I get a few minutes rest. Then he tells me to go to bed.
I brush my teeth, then I stand over him as he’s sitting. He doesn’t look at me. Normally, we have a good night kiss. With everything that’s happened, I don’t think I’m getting a kiss tonight. I don’t kiss him. I get back to my room.
“Greg….Get tHE FUCK BACK IN HERE.”
I forgot to put in effort. I forgot to put in the effort to kiss him.
I don’t remember this part much. I remember getting my hair combed and stabbed in the head with the teeth.
My dad throws me across the room. He and my mom are fighting. He leaves. She calls the cops. They come and talk to her. I remember waving at them at the door while sipping on my juice box. My dad says this never happened.
I pee my pants. My dad spanks me for every drop.
I’m in the bathtub. Bubble bath! Look mom! The bubbles make my fingers slide in easy! I can stick my whole finger in my butt mom! She looks at me with disgust. My dad calls me something that I don’t remember. I can probably guess what it is.
I’m in the bathtub. I swish swash and flood the bathroom. My dad calls me a cocksucker for a week.
She’s on her way out. She was becoming delirious. I know it’s happening. Everyone knows. My dad and my grandma get into a fight. He tried making her leave, and she wound up scratching him. They never got along. My dad rarely gets along with anyone.
She called out for her mom all night. She already couldn’t talk right because the infection that took her eye cost her the use of half her face. She’s just slurring her words and she’s just devolving by the minute. She was like a child calling for their mother. She was crying and she didn’t know where she was.
My dad keeps hovering back and forth between her room and my room. It was getting real late so I was trying to sleep, but it was impossible. I didn’t sleep the whole night. There’s a ringing in my ears.
Time passes. She having episodes where she’s screaming and yelling and fighting with my dad. He’s trying to convince her to sleep. She does for a bit, and then she starts calling for her mom again. This repeats again and again. My dad keeps bursting into my room to vent. He’s out of it. It’s really shaking him to his core.
Then one time she calls out for her mom. I don’t hear my dad go to help. She keeps yelling nonstop. I try to find my dad. He’s nowhere to be found. So, I go in to her room. She’s naked. Her body is covered in sores. I’m trying to help her, talking to her, but it’s not getting through. She’s completely delirious.
As I’m trying to help her, a voice in the back of my head tells me to grab her boob. I don’t, the idea disgusts me, but I look at them. She sees me.
She yells at me.
“You are no son!”
submitted by iShrugs to u/iShrugs [link] [comments]
2020.09.21 03:00 hammauauahaahna Caught wife solo
(This is part two of my sequel trilogy fix, there are elements in this that won’t make sense if you haven’t read part 1. This one is a lot longer than the last, and it’s the one I’m most proud of of these rewrites, so I hope people enjoy it)
Episode VII: https://www.reddit.com/usenamanhahaja/comments/ixcb8q/my_fix_of_star_wars_episode_vii/?utm_source=share&utm_medium=ios_app&utm_name=iossmf
This movie will take place a little under a year after TFA, unlike the original movie.
The camera will open to an X-Wing flying through space, piloted by Poe Dameron. Around him, there will be a battle between the First Order and several Resistance ships, instead of just one. In this version part of the New Republic Fleet has escaped the destruction of Hosnian Prime and has joined the Resistance. The battle is more evenly matched at first than a standard Rebels vs Empire thing. One of the Resistance cruisers will be destroyed by the sheer firepower of the First Order, shocking the resistance. Poe will lead the same bombing run he did in the movie, with Paige Tico dying. However, in this version, the bombs will be rocket propelled instead of acting as if there is gravity in space.
The Resistance fleet will all jump into hyperspace, escaping the battle. The camera cuts to General Pryde, where he will get a communication from Snoke. Snoke will say that he is disappointed, and Pryde will reassure him that the Resistance cannot run for long. He will not be thrown down like Hux was, and he will not be made into comedic relief.
Finn will wake in a bacta tank, having been in a coma for several months from the injuries he sustained from his duel with Kylo. The medical droids will release him from the tank. Poe will then rush into the medical bay, to see the medical droids fitting Finn with a prosthetic arm. Their conversation will be the same as the actual movie, with Finn eventually asking where Rey is.
The camera cuts to Rey on Ach-To, running with Leia’s lightsaber in her hand. She is doing an obstacle course prepared by Luke Skywalker, jumping over boulders and deflecting blaster fire from training remotes. She will not be doing too well, getting nicked by a couple shots, but she will eventually finish it, making it to Luke’s domed Jedi temple. Luke is waiting there for her, where he smirks and says that she was sloppy. Rey looks disappointed and sighs.
In this version, Luke didn’t try to kill Kylo Ren, but he feels that both he and the Jedi as a whole are flawed due to his inability to stop Ben from turning to the dark side. Even though most of Luke’s students were killed, three of Luke’s students survived in this version, and are on Ach-To with him. In this scene, it is made clear that even though Luke has agreed to train Rey, he has done so very begrudgingly.
The camera cuts to Snokes throne room, where Kylo walks out of the elevator, with the Knights of Ren entering from behind him. Most of the conversation between Kylo and Snoke will go the same, with Snoke making fun of his mask and saying that Kylo has much of his father in him. Like in the movie, Kylo will say the he killed Han Solo, and Snoke will say that the act split Kylo to the bone. Snoke will reprimand him for “Believing that defeating a stormtrooper and a girl who had never held a lightsaber while letting Starkiller base crumble makes him comparable to Vader” and for failing to stop Rey from finding Luke. Kylo will angrily stand up to attack, Snoke blasting Kylo with force lightning remains the same. The praetorian guards will draw their weapons, and so will the Knights of Ren to protect Kylo, resulting in a standoff. I’m trying to have more of a rival general feel, than a master and apprentice feel. Even though Snoke is Kylo’s master, the Knights of Ren are loyal to Kylo, not Snoke. Snoke laughs and waves his hand, and the Praetorian guards will sheath their weapons. As Kylo gets to his feet, the Knights of Ren will do the same. Snoke will say to Kylo “You want to kill me. That is the way of the Sith, they killed their masters to gain power. But we are not Sith, and you are no Vader, just a child in mask”
Kylo destroying his mask in the elevator will remain the same. When the elevator doors open, Kylo and the Knights of Ren will enter the bridge. Kylo will say “Prepare our ships”
Cutting back to Ach To, Rey will be inside the library tree, reading through the ancient Jedi texts. Luke will walk in, and tell Rey that the Jedi failed. That the Jedi need to be moved on from, and stop trying to affect the galaxy, as every time they do, it just leads to more pain and destruction. Rey will protest, saying that the Jedi need to live on, as they inspire hope in the galaxy. Luke will then reply like he did in the actual movie, saying that the Jedis hubris was what allowed Darth Sidious to wipe them out and that it was a Jedi who was responsible for the creation of Darth Vader. Rey will reply like she did in the movie, saying “It was also a Jedi who redeemed him” before asking him, clearly not for the first time, to come with her to help the Resistance. Luke will be unable to respond to this, looking down and telling Rey that she’s had a hard day of training, and should go get some rest.
Rey and Luke will exit the ancient library. Luke goes to his domed temple and Rey will go down to the huts, where she will be greeted by Luke’s three surviving students. Rey has a disappointed look on her face, so they ask her what’s wrong. Rey says “Master Skywalker...what’s wrong with him? I’ve heard legends about him, I didn’t expect him to be like this” Lukes students will look saddened by this comment. One of them replies “He hasn’t been the same since that night. When Ben turned, we lost so many people...” He chokes up and trails off, and another one of Luke’s students puts her hand on his shoulder to comfort him, before she says to Rey “Master Skywalker blames himself for what happened to Ben” Rey turns and looks towards Luke’s temple, now beginning to understand why her comment about him redeeming Vader hurt him so much.
The camera cuts back to the remaining ships of the Resistance fleet. On the bridge of the Raddus, Finn and Poe will be standing with Leia. Admiral Akbar will sound the alarm and suddenly several Star Destroyers, including the Supremacy will come out of Hyperspace right behind the resistance fleet. As Kylo, the Knights of Ren and a few other TIE fighters fly towards the resistance fleet, General Pryde will order two Star Destroyers to flank the Raddus. The Raddus and the Star Destroyer open fire on each other, but due to the shielding on the Raddus, it takes only minimal damage while the Star Destroyer is destroyed. Poe and several resistance X-wings are engaged in a skirmish with the TIE fighters.
Kylo and the Knights of Ren fly out to the Raddus and stop in front of it. Leia senses what’s going to happen and moves to the front of the bridge. Like in the movie, Kylo cannot bring himself to fire on his mother. Three of the Knights of Ren however, fire torpedoes at the bridge of the Raddus. Leia holds out her hand and closes her eyes. The torpedos suddenly stop in place. As Leia exhales, she uses the force to launch the torpedoes towards one of the Star Destroyers, destroying it. Kylo’s eyes widen from his cockpit as he sees this, before General Pryde contacts him. He tells Kylo to fall back, Kylo and the Knights of Ren return to the Supremacy. The Supremacy opens fire on the last remaining New Republic ship, destroying it. Back on the bridge of the Raddus, Leia collapses, as she hasn’t used the force on that large a scale in a long time.
The camera then cuts to Luke watching Rey as she and one of Luke’s other students practice their lightsaber skills in a sparring match against each other with wooden staffs. Luke then drops to his knees, holding his chest in pain. Rey and the other student rush over to Luke, asking if he’s alright. He simply mutters “Leia...”
Back on the Raddus, Admiral Ackbar says that General Organa is stable but unconscious, so he will have to take control of the fleet until she wakes up. Poe walks up confused, and asks why there is no plan. Akbar pulls him aside and tells him that he suspects there is a mole passing information to the First Order, as that is the only way they could’ve tracked them through light speed.
The camera cuts to Rey and Chewie sitting outside the falcon at night, huddled around a campfire. Behind them, a hooded figure will sneak past them and enter the Falcon. Chewie will turn and roar, recognising Luke’s footsteps. Rey will simply sigh and say “He’s been going in there every night since we arrived” Inside the bridge of the Falcon, Luke will sit down on the cockpit chair and grab the dice belonging to Han Solo. Luke holds the dice close to his face as a tear rolls down his cheek. We never got to see Luke mourning Han in the original movie, so I really wanted to add a scene like this in. As he gets up and goes to get out, he is intercepted by R2, and we will get the same reunion scene between them, with Leia’s message from Episode IV, and Luke saying “That's a cheap move” before once again refusing to go help the Resistance.
Everything with Rose and Finn at this point of the movie remains the same, except Finn isn’t trying to run away, he is trying to find Rey and warn her about the First Order. After Rose tases him, he reveals that there is no mole, and that the First Order has light speed tracking. They tell Poe, and contact Maz Kanata, who tells them there is someone on Canto Bight that can help them. They inform admiral Akbar, and he then sends Finn, Poe and Rose to Canto Bight. Akbar tells them that if they don’t come back in time, he will have to resort to a contingency plan.
The camera cuts to Rey waking up in one of the huts. She sees Kylo Ren standing in front of her. This first force bond scene goes exactly the same as the actual movie. When Rey lies to Luke that her blaster just went off, he tells her to come with him. The scene of Luke teaching Rey to meditate and feel the force goes exactly the same as the movie. Luke is shocked when Rey goes straight to the dark. He tells her that there is a cave strong in the dark side on this island, and that Rey must go in there to confront her deepest fears and inner darkness. When Rey goes towards the cave, Luke tells her she will not need her weapons. When she asks why, he smirks and says she needs to trust him on this, referencing Luke’s own training in ESB. Rey drops her staff on the floor and leaves her belt with her blaster and lightsaber behind.
As Rey walks in, she immediately has a vision of herself as an old woman on Jakku, scavenging for parts. The vision then changes to a view of Kylo swinging his lightsaber towards Finn's neck. Rey cries out and falls backwards, out of the cave. Luke will help her up and tell her that she has been in there for hours, even though it only felt like a few seconds. In her second attempt, she goes to the mirror room, which goes down the same way it did in the actual movie. She will walk to the end and ask who her parents are, and the cave will show her an image of her parents. However, as neither she nor the audience recognise the son of Palpatine and his wife, both Rey and the audience will assume that they are nobodies. Rey will look at them and walk past them. As she moves on, she no longer feels afraid of what will happen to her, or her friends and she no longer cares about her lineage, as she knows that she is a Jedi. She calmly walks out of the cave and Luke puts a hand on her shoulder.
Next, we cut to Canto Bight. It is controlled by the Hutts in this version, and we will see a Hutt lording over the casino. It makes perfect sense for the Hutts to make money by selling weapons to both sides of the war. There are no slave children or space horses, I want to trim down this scene to focus more on the scenes that actually matter.
On the Raddus, Leia will wake up in the medical bay after Luke reaches out to her through the force, just like she did in the actual movie. Luke will pause for a moment, deep in thought, before standing up and running towards the huts.
Instead of DJ, Finn, Rose and Poe meet Lando. Lando agrees to go with them, but then security walks up to him and says that he has an outstanding debt with the house. There is a bit of a chase scene, and they eventually get to their ship and get off the planet.
We cut back to Ach-To, where Kylo and Rey are speaking through a force bond in one of the huts. This one is more deep, where Kylo reveals a lot about his past, and his struggle with the dark side. As they talk, Rey realises that Kylo is not completely consumed by the dark side. Even though he has enough hate and pain to corrupt a Kyber crystal, there is still good in him. They will both touch hands, and then we will hear Luke’s voice from a distance. After having reached out to Leia, Luke has changed his mind. He says “Rey, I was wrong, I will come with you to help the Resist-“ As he enters the hut he cuts himself off upon seeing Rey and Kylo touching hands. He then cuts their force connection and blows apart the hut like he did in the actual movie.
Luke then storms away from Rey, as she follows him into the rain. Rey grabs Luke’s shoulder and turns him around. She says that there is still good in Ben Solo, and that with Luke’s help, she knows she can redeem him. Luke will say that Ben’s turn was all his fault, that he saw the darkness in Ben from a young age, and that he tried to help him but failed. Luke trusted Ben, and had faith that he would overcome his darkness, until one day Luke went off on a mission to another planet with a handful of his students. While Luke was away, something happened that made Ben snap. Luke came back to find his Jedi academy in flames and most of his students dead. Luke looks at Rey, his eyes filled with sorrow and regret, and he says that he cannot lose her the way he lost Ben. At this point, all the noise and commotion has woken up Luke’s three remaining students. They are all standing around, watching this conversation unfold. Rey takes Leia’s lightsaber from her belt and holds it out towards Luke, silently begging him to come with her. Luke just looks down in shame and says nothing. Rey angrily scoffs before clipping the lightsaber to her belt and going to the Falcon and leaving the planet.
Finn, Poe, Rose and Lando will board the supremacy, where they will be caught and arrested by stormtroopers, except that Lando will obviously not betray them like DJ did. Finn talks to the stormtroopers, as he knows them, and tries to convince them that what the First Order is doing is wrong. He will use his trauma and his experience with the Resistance to try to get through to the other stormtroopers, giving a moving and heartfelt speech. He manages to get through to them a little, but they still take him to Phasma and General Pryde to be executed, though they clearly aren’t happy about it.
After having woken up, Leia will then go to the bridge of the Raddus, where Admiral Akbar will tell her that Finn, Rose and Poe have failed to stop the light speed tracking, Leia sighs and says they must fall back onto their last resort contingency plan. The resistance troops all go down to the docking bay of the Raddus, where the Tantive IV is being held. Leia orders them all to enter her ship. The Tantive IV takes off and heads towards Crait, while the Raddus, now only piloted by Admiral Akbar, continues flying at a slow pace to distract the First Order.
Back on Ach-To, Luke goes to burn the tree with the sacred Jedi texts and the exact scene from the movie with the force ghost of Yoda happens. It is a beautiful scene, and I wouldn’t change a moment of it.
On board the Supremacy, the scene with Snoke, Rey and Kylo will go mostly the same. However, instead of saying that he bridged Rey and Kylo’s minds, Snoke will reveal that they are a dyad in the force.
Snokes death and Rey and Kylo’s fight against the Praetorian guards will remain almost exactly the same. The only differences are that Snoke will be killed by Leia’s lightsaber instead of Anakin’s, and that Kylo’s unstable crossguard lightsaber will be destroyed by the last Praetorian Guard. As the guard is strangling him, Kylo will draw Anakin’s lightsaber from his belt, which he corrupted and made the blade red in the last movie, and stab it through the guards face. It’s sad that I have to say this, but the editing and choreography in this fight will be better. Rey and Kylo’s conversation after the fight will be exactly the same. When Rey refuses to join him, he reaches for Anakin’s corrupted lightsaber, but Rey grabs it with the force, and they both battle over the saber with the force. Except it is not destroyed, as Admiral Akbar sacrifices himself in the same way Holdo did before it can be.
Much like in the actual movie, Akbar’s sacrifice will allow Finn, Poe, Rose and Lando to escape being executed and fight back. A shootout will occur and Finn will fight Phasma. As in this version, Finn fought Phasma in the last movie and lost, this is a rematch. Phasma will eventually disarm Finn, but as she goes for the killing blow, Finns blocks the swing by grabbing her wrist with his metal arm. As they struggle, one of the stormtroopers Finn spoke to earlier will shoot Phasma in the back, distracting her. Using the mechanical strength of the prosthetic, Finn throws Phasma back into a chasm that has opened up from the destruction of the ship. Phasma is hanging onto the edge for her life. Finn tries to save Phasma by holding out his hand for her to grab onto, but she snarls “Rebel scum!” And let’s go, letting herself fall to her death. Finn, Rose, Poe and Lando will then come face to face the stormtroopers that first arrested them. However, as Finn got through to them earlier, they lower their blasters and allow our heroes to escape.
On Crait, things will go similar to the actual movie, with the battle going south for the Resistance. The Resistance docks the Tantive IV inside the abandoned Rebel Base. Finn, Poe, Rose and Lando will arrive in Snokes shuttle and join the battle, but will eventually hide in the abandoned rebel base with the rest of the resistance. Rose will still stop Finn's attempted sacrifice because she can’t lose another friend the way she lost her sister, but there will be no forced romance between Finn and Rose.
This is when Luke Skywalker will show up. His interactions with Leia, C3PO and the rest of the Resistance will go exactly the same. He will then walk out of the hole that was blasted in the base. Rey and Chewie have arrived in the Falcon at this point and are taking on TIE fighters like they did in the actual movie. Kylo will tell everyone to fire on Luke. A key difference in this version is that Luke’s force projection will actually be able to interact with the world around it, which explains why it is taxing enough on Luke to be able to kill him, to be able to almost teleport himself across the galaxy while not being there.
When the AT-M6s open fire on Luke, he holds out his hand and all the blasts hit an invisible wall in front of him, similar to how Cere Junda deflected Vader’s lightsaber in Jedi:Fallen Order, but on a much larger scale. When the AT-M6s stop firing, Luke will brush his shoulder sarcastically like he did in the actual movie. He then reaches out with both hands and closes his eyes. Through the force, Luke pulls the AT-M6s to the ground. In their shuttle, both Kylo and General Pryde watch in shock as the walkers come crashing to the ground.
Kylo then lands his shuttle in front of Luke and steps out. When Kylo says “Are you here to redeem me, to save my soul?” Luke will reply “The only person who can do that is you, but I am here to help guide you down the right path. I won’t leave you Ben, not this time” Kylo snarls in rage before taking off his cloak and igniting Anakin’s corrupted red lightsaber. Luke sighs with regret and ignites his green lightsaber. The duel between Luke and Kylo will remain mostly the same, with the samurai style camerawork, the close ups of their faces and subtle changes in their stances. Much like in the movie, Luke will fight purely defensively, easily dodging all of Kylo’s strikes. Kylo eventually gets frustrated and angrily calls Luke a coward. Luke replies with “I failed you Ben, I’m sorry” Their dialogue from here goes on exactly the same as the movie. When Kylo goes to kill Luke, his lightsaber goes right through Luke as if he wasn’t even there. As Kylo realises what is going on, and prods Luke’s image with his lightsaber, Luke’s image starts to slowly fade away. “See ya around kid” he says before vanishing.
The camera cuts to Luke hovering in mid air while meditating in his temple, overlooking the sunset on Ach-To. He collapses from exhaustion. Before Luke dies, we hear a voice belonging to Obi-Wan Kenobi, telling Luke to let go and that he can finally rest now. Luke Skywalker fades away and becomes one with the force as the sun sets.
After Luke vanishes, Kylo screaming in rage will remain the same. Rey lifting the rocks with the force and the Resistance escaping from Crait goes exactly the same as the original movie. When Kylo storms the rebel base, we will see the Knights of Ren cut down a few Resistance troops to make them more of a credible threat. Kylo finding Han Solo’s dice, which fade away in his hand will remain the same.
The Falcon and the Tantive IV dock to each other in space. Rey telling Leia that she sensed that Luke died with peace and purpose remains the same. Everyone celebrates their survival, however they all then hear a raspy and cold voice echo through the air, the voice of Palpatine speaking to everyone through the force:
”At last the work of generations is complete, the great error is corrected. The day of reckoning is at hand, the day of revenge, the day of the Sith!”
Everyone is shocked and terrified, asking what just happened, and what they are meant to do. Rey, Leia, Finn and Poe will calm everyone down, telling them that they must fight on. Both ships go into hyperspace, and the credits roll.
(I’d love to hear people’s criticism and feedback in the comments)
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2020.09.20 18:06 Samara_Buckley_Derby Caught wife solo
Summary: Fighting immortals is a sweetheart job for someone obsessed with the afterlife. Dying on the job, however, is cutting it too close. However, Julian's curiosity with the great beyond pushes him a little too far, back to the land of the living and cursed with a newly damned soul, just like the immortals he's sworn to fight...
First chapter --- Previous chapter here!! --- Next chapter
Cover art --- Rate me on Royal Road!
And dangerous was how Matti liked it. He was yet to have a real reason to believe his life was in danger and until he felt that, he had no problem pushing the envelope.
Which is why he was perched in the back of a helicopter heading out to Munich on a mission intended to intercept one of the deadliest immortals at an active civilian airport with nearly two dozen soldiers, some of whom were legally dead, while most were shoot-on-sight traitors.
Could it get any better?
“Find anything, Matti?” a cool voice asked in his ear.
“Clear for now, Pooja.” He gave the Colonel a reassuring smile and she nodded, returning to the cockpit. Last names had never suited him and as a renegade, he wasn’t obligated to use them. It was easier to empathize with an Amy or Markus than with a Brown or Khan. Knowing the name they heard from friends and family humanized them and that was important when lives were on the line.
They usually just thought he was being cocky and rude and he had no need to dispel that theory because, as a renegade, they were going to think he was an arrogant prick anyway. It wasn’t even really a lie, so…
The helicopter they all sat in—Matti, Julian, Pooja and her two operatives, Kyline, and her squad—was borrowed from Omicron HQ. No way could Schmidtt’s usual helicopter fit the nearly two dozen agents, so Pooja had pulled some strings. There was enough room to comfortably walk around, especially with the others mostly strapped in, a fact that Matti gladly took advantage of, roaming from window to window, popping up his binoculars to scan for any aircraft that might be flying under the radar.
He’d been disappointed so far.
In between his little lookout sessions, he’d make small talk with various operatives. Pooja didn’t like chatting when on a mission, Kyline hated his guts, and the other scientists he usually hung out with were, for obvious reasons, not here, so ‘various operatives’ mostly meant Julian.
“Gotta admit, when you said you had some questions for me, I wasn’t expecting this,” Julian said after Matti’s third round.
“Am I boring you?” Matti tilted his head.
Julian laughed, always a good sign. “No. But unless this is some weird renegade interrogation tactic, I don’t know why you care about my favorite breakfast food.”
Matti gave him a cool look. “I’ve watched you very carefully since joining the Fleursurgents. I need to make sure your answers align with what I’ve seen.” It was a terribly blatant lie, but not one Matti really cared about guarding. If Julian chose to see through it, good on him. Reality was, Matti just liked getting to know his charges.
Julian squinted. “Fleursurgents?”
“Come on. Fleur Insurgents is a mouthful and there are a ton of repeated syllable sounds there. It’s only natural that you should work a portmanteau in there. Saves time.”
“Lotta big words from someone with a STEM degree. Maybe you should have gone into linguistics.” Julian grinned, and unless it was Matti’s imagination, seemed to relax a bit.
Matti lifted a shoulder. “Linguistics wouldn’t have gotten me a job here. Besides, I didn’t go to an English speaking school.”
“Clearly, or you’d have caught the better portmanteau: Infleurgents.”
This took Matti aback quite a bit, because Julian was absolutely correct. That one was far superior. “I take my hat off to you. We’re now the Infleurgents. Clearly your English skills make mine look paltry.”
“Well, it was my first language.” He shifted in his seat, probably trying to make the helicopter seat feel more comfortable. “You said a linguistics degree wouldn’t have gotten you a job here. Did you know about this place when starting college?”
There were a few options for how an AngelThana operative might have gotten involved in the organization. A bulk of the scientists were poached from the public facing front: a nanotech organization that privately manufactured weapons and also somehow did some work with biotech. It was often scrutinized for guzzling research money and turning out rather few results but that was kind of the point of a public facing front. It’s just that the public didn’t know that. Hence ‘front’.
Then there were military poaches, outstanding soldiers who were approached at the conclusion of their official government military contracts. Outside of these poached soldiers, AngelThana rarely allowed for transfers to military units if the employee hadn’t been with the company for a minimum of three years, which explained why the minimum age of active combatants was 21 and not most military’s standard 18.
Then there were the nuts. AngelThana sent representatives out to anyone who found out about the immortals organically, whether from personal experience or obsessive web research. That’s how Matti got involved. He’d spent the greater part of his childhood chasing down conspiracies online because that’s about all there was to do in a northern European village, population: twelve, where the sun came up twice a year. He’d discovered some paper trails and various web footage that showed the same few people involved in a host of different terrorist attacks across the globe, a conspiracy he was surprised no one else pointed out.
It turned out no one pointed it out because AngelThana scrubbed the internet from all information of the immortals, with a rather impressive tech division. This was originally what they scouted him for until pretty much everyone realized he was a crap hacker. By that point, he’d requested a transfer to sniper school and anyone involved agreed it was for the best.
Most of the people on the helicopter had been in the second boat, sniped from their own government’s military. On the books, they were ‘security’ officers.
Julian was, as with most scientists, from the first group. He’d been scouted because of his academic work and pressured into taking the job with AngelThana.
“My official transfer to the internal department was about a month into my onboarding on the face department.” Julian had that glint in his eyes that the PhDs always got when they were about to launch into a lecture, and Matti braced himself. “The day they pulled me in and explained that honest to god immortals existed, well I thought I’d gone crazy.”
“Really? You didn’t think they had?”
Julian shook his head. “No! I’d always suspected so when my theories were confirmed, my mind was blown. It was like falling into a dream I’d had.”
“Lapinksy! Back on your post. You’ve had weeks to make idle chit chat. This is not the time.” Pooja’s scolding turned all the heads in the chopper to Matti, who smiled back at her, jumping to his feet in a solute.
“Copy that, Colonel.” There would also be time for idle chit chat later, so he had no qualms with resuming his watch.
“Alright we’re approaching our drop point,” Pooja announced, some few, uneventful hours later. “We’re officially on non-essential cargo pickup, so keep that in mind. Grace, prep your unit, but I want them down and out of sight until signaled.”
Kyline saluted in acknowledgement, her face rigid.
“The cargo pickup is scheduled to happen at eight hundred hours, so we’re here plenty early and should be able to get all of you off before they load us up.” Pooja began walking up and down the aisle of the ship, making eye contact with every single person on board. “I’ll be staying on board to handle the loading, with Schmidtt and Lapinksy. You’ll take your orders from the Sergeant and in the case of her incapacitation, your chain of command will fall to Agent Xing, Agent Jha, field medic LeDuc…” The chain of command was something they’d all been briefed on but redundancy may as well be synonymous with procedure because whenever someone said ‘follow the proper process’ it meant they wanted to you use enough fallbacks and extraneous measures that you probably could have accomplished three times your goal if you’d just checked something once or twice.
But for all their traitorous nature, the Infleurgents still followed their god damned processes to a T. Whatever. Matti didn’t technically need to know who to listen to but unfortunately for his ego, the chain of command usually made too much sense to ignore, so he rarely did.
The helicopter touched down at a tiny regional airport in the early hours of the morning, probably close to five hundred hours, as light as a feather per Schmidtt’s usual. He radioed in their arrival to the incognito convoy that was bringing whatever equipment Pooja had maneuvered into being their ‘target’. They reported that they were still about two hours out, which Schmidtt confirmed on radar scans.
“Copy that, we’ll be waiting.” Then Pooja looked up at Matti. “Give us a visual perimeter, make sure the area is clear of personnel or civilians.” She turned to Kyline. “At Lapinsky’s signal, take your men to the far parking lot. The convoy was instructed to leave one truck behind so that we could unload our cargo. Which…” She waved a hand at the soldiers, “is all of you. So stay out of sight until Grace gives the command. Understood?”
A host of salutes confirmed comprehension. Matti eyed Pooja and tossed her a slightly more casual salute before slipping into the night.
For once, the lack of complications wasn’t boring. The presence of civilians would have dramatically slowed down the offloading, suspicions from the convoy would have just caused drama, and if any of Kyline’s soldiers had been spotted, it would have really been disastrous.
All told, Pooja’s plan went without a hitch and soon Schmidt was flying away with whatever cargo they’d used as an excuse to hide their illicit actions. Matti sat in the back of the remaining convoy truck, squished with the others. These things were supposed to seat a dozen. While Matti, Julian, Xing Luli, the Iota agent, were slim enough to count for half a person, they simply had too many people on board for the drive to be comfortable. But comfort wasn’t a requisite so no one complained about being cramped too much.
The real issue was the lack of space to put on their disguises. AngelThana lacked the resources to intensely scrutinize every security cam feed on the planet to scan for faces that matched certain criteria. So the group didn’t have to worry too much about being spotted by the sophisticated software needed to match their specific face shapes and retina scans. But that didn’t mean they could slack off. They’d still need to play dress up to fool any AngelThana member who happened to be casually watching the MUC feeds in their downtime.
There were precious few people on board who knew enough about hair and makeup to make a convincing change to faces, so each agent had to wait quite a bit for their turn. Something to change complexion, darken or bright eyes, maybe thicken the look of facial hair.
“Do me dirty,” Matti said as he pushed past Private Amelie Silva for his turn. He scrunched his eyes closed in preparation for the assault on his face.
“Don’t do that with your eyes,” Pooja said, as he heard her swishing around some bottle of something probably wet and sticky. “It’ll make it uneven.” Pooja, along with Henri LaForge and Edmund Howard, was one of the only confident enough with her makeup skills to do anything convincing on the soldiers. “Hold still.” A bright light blasted his eyelids as another of the soldiers shone a flashlight at him.
“We should have brought Sofia,” Matti said, trying hard not to move his mouth. “She could make every guy in here a girl and vice versa.”
“Matti keep your mouth shut or you’re going to look like more of a mess than you normally do.” After a far too long period of getting paint slathered and smeared on his face, his nails and hands squished, his hair pulled tight and hidden under a wig, Pooja thrust an armful of clothes in his hands. “What do you think?”
The question was a little too amused for Matti’s liking and he cracked an eyelid to see the private holding the flashlight was openly smirking.
“He did say he wanted to be a girl. Think you did a mighty good job there, Colonel.”
The other eyelid snapped open. “I need a mirror. Now.”
Pooja held up one and Matti stared at himself. He wasn’t a girl, probably. Not technically. But he also saw where the private was coming from. “Pooja, you know ‘scene’ hasn’t been in since the early 2000s, right?” He twisted one of the silky, unnaturally platinum locks around a finger.
“We’re active members.” She shooed him to the side to start her next victim. “So our looks need to be a bit more dramatically changed. Us and Blake. If you’re going heavy makeup, you have to make it look intentional. That’s why you have the eyeliner. You’re now Alexi Petroff, 16 years old, so you’ve got to look like it.”
“Great. Back to being an edgy teen.” He didn’t really mind the look but it was far from comfortable. “What dramatic bit are you doing?”
“Inaya Hasmi, 34, traveling with my husband Tahir.” She pointed a bit away where Vikas Jha, the other Iota agent, was getting minimal makeup work done. “I’ll have a bit of work done but most of my face will be hidden.”
“Lucky. Would be nice if we all could just go the religious veil route.” Matti tapped at his face to see if his makeup had dried.
Pooja cocked an eyebrow. “Would have made us all the more likely to be stopped by airport security. Don’t need to increase those odds. Alright, you’re done Shanti.”
“Fucking most disgusting thing I ever got on my face,” he grumbled.
“Shut up, Shanti,” Matti said, almost absentmindedly. The private needled him with a glare before moving on.
“We kind of switched colors,” Julian remarked as he settled down next to Matti. The previously sandy haired man now had cropped dark crew cut, so convincing that Matti couldn’t imagine how his real hair had fit under it. His previously green eyes were now blue, much like how Matti’s blue had changed to green.
“Who did yours?” Matti asked.
“LaForge. Man did theatre through his entire education. I guess it shows but god my head feels like it’s about to explode.” Julian’s hand hovered near his scalp as if itching to itch it.
“Not a finger!” shouted LaForge from about eight feet away where he was twisting Luli’s hair into a tight ponytail. “Or I’ll cut it off.”
“Would he get back?” asked another private.
Julian’s body sagged as his hand dropped. “Here they go.”
The questions, jokes, and jabs flowed through the truck, lightening up the mood at the expense of Julian’s.
“You’re not a fan?” Matti asked. “You can’t deny, there are some good questions in there.”
“Yeah but they don’t want answers, they just want to snicker.” Julian sighed, crossing his arms. “But I’m starting to learn to tune it out.”
Even Matti had to admit that, after two more hours of the soldiers coming up with increasingly stupid puns, it had gotten old. He fiddled with his rifle, knowing that it would soon be locked in a very special crate, the kind that AngelThana routinely used to smuggle weapons through airports, past border patrols, and into government events. Matti didn’t like departing with his beloved rifle but there would be no keeping it on him.
The sun had long risen now as the truck pulled into a long term parking lot, advertised as being ‘mere kilometers from MUC!’ From there, the group split into teams, each with their own mission plans.
Pooja took Vikas, her husband, and the two headed the short walk to the public transport. Six of the soldiers, all dressed as spring breakers, flooded to the closest rental car place.
Matti checked his ID and the instructions on his phone giving him a rundown of Alexi Pertoff.
“I’m traveling with my father and girlfriend, huh? Haven’t had one of those in a while.” He looked up at the remaining operatives. Shanti and Henri were brothers, Amelie and Edmund were also dating. A few others were traveling solo. Then his eyes fell on Luli, Pooja’s Iota agent. She fixed him with a long once over.
“We’re dating?” she asked. In all fairness, she probably wasn’t much older than he was and with the high ponytail with a red streak in it, the loose bangs around her face, and too much eye makeup, she could absolutely pass for 17 or 18.
“I guess so. Which just leaves… dad.” He grinned as Julian looked down at his ID.
“Ah. Pieter Pertoff. 38” He looked up at the two agents as the remaining operatives sped off on their predetermined methods of transportation. “Never thought much of having kids…”
“God I must be like, the biggest disappointment to you.” Matti examined his nails, which were all black except for a red nail on each middle finger. Then he looked up at Julian’s tight crew cut and the lines on his face, artfully exaggerated by LaForge’s handiwork.
Luli laughed at the start contrast that couldn’t hide enough of a similarity between the two men to hint at their relation. “Alright then, team,” she said. “Let’s get our car and get to the airport. We’ve got an invasion to stop.”
Julian could already tell that Matti and Luli were amused at his reaction but he couldn’t help being more than a little apprehensive about playing a father role to the sniper. The two agents shared looks in the back seat of the rental car Julian was driving.
“Do you think I need an accent? It’s Russian, right? I can try a— hold up.” Julian cleared his throat and centered himself, trying his best to adopt the accent of one of the Russian agents. “Ok, how’s this?”
“God no. Please no.” Matti exchanged another look with Luli. Julian hadn’t dealt much with the agent since they’d first flown to Fleur, an experience Julian wanted to leave far behind him, but she was a lot more pleasant when she wasn’t holding a gun to his head.
“You’ll blow our cover immediately.” Her voice, meanwhile, had shifted from its previously Chinese accent to a completely American accent. “Keep your American accent. In case you haven’t noticed, both our passports are American. His is Russian. You immigrated to the states young and lived there your whole life. You met your wife, a Russian woman, but after your relationship went poorly, she took the kid and moved back to Russia. She sends him over to you for summers and other various breaks. It was during one such visit that he met me.”
“The three of us are spending holiday in Russia,” Matti said. “After the trip, Luli and I are staying with my mom in Moscow.”
It took Julian a moment to internalize this. “Why wasn’t I told any of this?”
“It’s in your briefing.” Matti pointed to his phone. “You probably didn’t scroll. Don’t worry, most people actually don’t ask about your backstory.”
“Yeah but in case—”
“Look at it this way,” Luli said. “Lapinsky and I are far more likely to be given side eyes or comments. This was intentional, to draw attention from you.”
“Just be a disappointed father.” Matti glanced at his phone for another moment before tapping a few buttons. “Ok, now, names. I need you to recite them, learn them by heart.”
It was kind of weird taking orders from someone who was supposed to be his son. The two were probably only ten years apart in age. Luli was even closer, probably less than five years younger than him.
“Ok. Ok, you’re Alexi. She’s Tara. Alexi and Tara. Alexi Petroff and Tara Wang.”
“Mr. Pertoff? Mr. Pertoff, Alexi says it’s ok if we get Starbucks. We’ll be right back.”
“Mom says it’s ok if I get snakebites and you said I could get anything I wanted for my 17th birthday if it was under 50 dollars. I know this one place that does them for cheap and she’s ok with it.”
The two went back and forth, with Julian’s knuckles getting whiter on the steering wheel each time one added a new line to their newfound family’s canon.
“I’m uh, just not gonna say much, ok kids?”
The two grinned back at him in the rearview mirror, clearly very into their roles.
They spent the remaining half hour of their trip going over all the signals that he’d have to remember. It didn’t sound half bad while they were driving, chatting lightly about the operation, but the minute they stepped from the car and entered the airport, the giggles stopped. Alexi and Tara were apparently the brooding type of teens who didn’t say much but stayed weirdly entwined with each other. Julian was ok with that. His palms were already damp and he was going to probably give away his nerves when he had to raise his hands during security.
A million ‘what ifs’ flashed through his head as the three clunked through security. Previously Julian had been primarily in hot water just with AngelThana but with this little stunt he also marked himself as a legitimate felon.
Yet they cruised through without a hitch, not even when examining their various backpacks or cases of randomly assorted goods. Julian’s nerves were hopefully explained by the outlandish appearance of his traveling companions. No crew-cut sporting dad wanted to be seen in public with his offspring looking so… alternative.
As the three made it to their gate, Julian’s mind immediately jumped to the others. After all, there were six groups that had to make it through without any suspicion. Any one of them getting caught could spell disaster for the whole operation, casting unneeded attention on the whole area. Not only would local authorities get involved, but AngelThana’s watchful eye might fall on them. Even worse, Lady Helga would likely abandon her efforts, leaving them no closer to apprehending her and now completely in the dark about her next plans.
It had to go without a hitch.
“I need to pee.” There was a distinct whine to her voice and Julian was struck with how easy it was to remember that the woman pulling a dramatic pout with heavy lipstick was a grown adult who had killed and probably watched her fellow agents die. “Where’s the closest bathroom?”
This was a signal and Julian grunted, getting to his feet. “Should probably all go.” Every word in Julian’s mouth felt unbelievably forced. He scrutinized every sentence. Why would a father want to accompany his son and son’s girlfriend to the bathroom? Was that weird? Creepy? Did it make sense at all?
The casual shrugs and eyerolls from his charges smoothed over his rocky sentence but he still felt the eyes of the airport on him as they strolled down the hallway to the restrooms.
“Take your time,” Luli said before disappearing into the ladies’ room.
The mens’ room was, thankfully, empty.
“No cameras,” Matti said, after doing a thorough search. “I’m splitting off soon, once I get my toys. If you see me, something’s gone wrong.” He grinned and Julian had no doubt that the sniper couldn’t picture a world where something had gone wrong. “Tara will stick with you, so continue to take your lead from her.”
Julian took the momentary privacy to let out a long breath and shake out his hands. “I hate this.”
“I, on the other hand, love it.” Matti was peering at himself in the mirror, eyes glinting over the various changes in his appearance. “You’ll have to get used to it.”
“I’d rather not have to do this again,” he muttered, staring at his face next to Matti’s. It was a lot greyer than the renegade’s.
“We’re not getting more operatives, so anymore injured or lost, and your attendance will be mandatory.”
Julian shook his head. “If I get caught in one of those things, I’ll get trapped in limbo for god knows how long. I’m not risking that.”
“Oh yes, comparatively the rest of us have nothing to risk.” Matti looked at Julian’s reflection, eyes unexpectedly hard. “None of us want to die. We’re not disposable grunts or whatever narrative you’ve constructed in your head. Any one of Kyline’s soldiers would take a bullet to save you from capture but just remember, they’re losing more from that than you. Their sacrifice is because you’re of more strategic value but don’t think for a minute that you’ve got more intrinsic value.” Then the look vanished, replaced by a casual smile. “Humanize your teammates. Keeps people alive.” He glanced at his watch. “Oh good, Tara’s almost here.”
Julian, briefly forgetting who Tara was, stared at Matti blankly in the mirror for another second before the younger man rolled his eyes and headed for the door.
“Right. Tara.” The scolding had hit him from left field but it was a valid point and Julian felt a little sick at how self centered he’d gotten. Military operations weren’t fun in the slightest. “She’s coming in here—”
His question was truncated by the door bursting open. A woman entered, pushing a cleaning cart. She turned, slapping down a ‘cleaning, don’t enter’ sign, before shutting the door behind her.
It took the woman sliding open the cart and unloading a pistol for herself, a pistol and sniper rifle for Matti, and thrusting a pistol into Julian’s hands for him to recognize Luli.
“I didn’t realize you’d be changing,” he said, still staring at the gun.
“Take your weapon. Lapinsky did say I’d be bringing the weapons, yes?” She glared at the sniper for his lack of communications before pulling out a number of guns, including one of the venojets Julian recognized from Sofia’s lab.
“Thought it was obvious.” Matti wasn’t paying them much mind as his fingers danced over his rifle, before snapping off a few components to fit it in his backpack. “MY apologies, Luli.”
Luli seemed to think better of scolding him. “Just take this… dart gun thing and get into position.”
He saluted. “Copy that Specialist.” He looked at Julian, that serious look back in his eyes. “You’re on civilian protection duty. Remember that.”
Then he slung the bag over his shoulder and disappeared from the bathroom.
Luli pulled out a spray bottle. “Alright, give me a second to clean a bit. Make it look convincing. You know how to hide that thing—Blake! Point it at the ground!”
Julian fumbled the gun before pointing it down. Trigger control was a lot easier to forget than he’d thought.
“Uh, just like, in my waistband?”
She sighed. “Let me finish getting the mirrors. Just don’t kill anyone while I’m at it.”
Soon the room was filled with the acrid scent of cleaners and Luli put back the chemicals.
“Here, change out your clothes. Careful not to dislodge your hair.” Her own transformation had been dramatic: makeup gone, hair now in a bun that hid the red streak, she could have been a different person.
Julian felt like his own disguise was not as effective. He still looked like Pieter Petroff but in a janitor’s outfit. It wasn’t until Luli plopped a hat on his head that he felt better.
“Alright, we’re on bathroom duty,” she said. “We’ve got four more to hit before everyone is armed. Ready?”
What followed was probably the most fun he’d had on the whole operation. No one looked twice at the two of them as they coasted down the hall with their big cleaning cart. They slipped into the first bathroom, halfway down the hall, where Shanti and LaForge were shooting the shit.
They both jumped to attention and Julian and Luli burst in, bearing gifts. Both rewarded the pair with face splitting grins as they received their gifts.
“Felt naked without this,” LaForge said, holstering his.
“Ew, not something anyone wants to see.”
“Shut up, Shanti.” This one surprisingly came from Luli, who had a wry grin on her face. “Now get to your positions and radio in the Colonel when you get there.”
They both saluted. “Copy that Specialist.”
The next bathroom was a little harder cause the spring breakers crowd was coed. Nisslon and Bruni were both in the women’s room, which Julian and Luli hit first, only to find it occupied with more than just the soldiers.
An older woman toting a six year old girl was loudly discussing Bruni’s piercing.
“Ma’am—” the private started, but the woman wasn’t having too much of it.
“And you’ve got the nerve to tell me and my child to leave when she has to go potty. You, looking like that.” She gestured at Bruni.
Nisslon, who wasn’t known for her patience, was looking about ready to go when Luli cleared her throat.
“Well you’re all going to have to continue this at a different restroom because this one is closed for cleaning.” The four paused mid argument and turned to Luli. Julian could see both soldiers’ eyes scan over her, puzzlement creasing their brows. Then Bruni’s eyes landed on Julian and she rolled them hard.
“Eurgh. Fine. Let’s just go to the one by the fucking gate,” Nisslon said.
“My child!” shrieked the woman.
“Mommy I don’t have to go potty. Can we go on the plane now?”
Julian watched as the four left, each in a different state of annoyance. Luli watched them leave before sighing.
“Clear the restrooms. How hard is it to clear the restrooms?” She massaged her temples for a moment before pulling out her spray bottle and dousing the room in a lethal amount of cleaner.
“Why are you doing that?” Julian asked, coughing.
“Gotta make it look like we were here.” She emptied what looked like an entire container of bleach into one of the toilets. “Hate cleaning bathrooms. Anything but bathrooms. Haven’t cleaned one since I was seven.”
Julian wanted to offer his assistance but he was afraid to get in her way. Not to mention, he didn’t want to mess up his hair or makeup.
It took Luli another five minutes to make the room look, well, not clean, but maybe cleaned. Once they made it to the men’s restroom, the weapons drop went smoother.
“Took your sweet time,” Howard grumbled as he loaded up his guns.
“You can bring that up with Nilsson and Bruni.” Luli shoved some extra guns into his hands. ”Those are theirs.”
“They got caught up with a mom who wouldn’t leave,” Julian said, trying to provide some context. “So we just kinda kicked them all out. They’re at the bathroom by the gate.”
“Copy that, zombie.”
Julian pulled a face but didn’t say anymore as the four soldiers filed from the room.
The other drops went more smoothly. At one point Luli even trusted Julian to drop the guns off with Grace.
“I need to take a call. Ditch those with the Sergeant and meet me at the bathroom by Gate A8.”
She wasn’t supposed to have left him but he was confident in his ability to pull off the task. He knocked twice on the women’s restroom door.
“In here!” He could recognize the dulcet tones of the Sergeant anywhere so he cleared his throat and shouted back.
“Maintenance! Uh, cleaning, rather.” Off to a brilliant start but there was no time to kick himself. Instead he pushed the cart in, slapped down the sign, and wheeled around to face a tense looking Grace. Her disguised covered her shockingly blond hair with a brown wig and her scars were masterfully hidden.
“Just you?” she asked. “Where’s… Tara?”
“I think cleaning lady is Milly. Tara was my son’s girlfriend.”
She nodded and a corner of her lip lifted in a smile. “You following along fine?”
“Yeah I think so! We had some trouble with two of the spring breakers. Couldn’t get the civies out of the restroom so we had to improvise.”
She bit back a smile for about a half second before laughing. “Damn kid, we really got our top agent out there.” Then she looked over his shoulder. “Where is Milly?”
“She had to take a call.” Her look worried him for a second and he looked over his shoulder, as if also expecting to see Luli. “Is that weird?”
Grace shook her head as she set to work pulling her guns out of the cart. “Just means the Colonel’s got more shit to chat about than she can text. Probably got eyes on Von Martwitz.” A grin spread across her face, either at the idea of facing down the immortal or at the large gun she’d unsheathed from the cart. “Hello again, girl.”
Julian wasn’t really a pacifist but he didn’t like how much the soldiers loved their pet guns. It shouldn’t bother him but when he looked at the guns, he felt uneasy, knowing that every single one of them had killed a human being. It seemed downright ominous to dote on something that had killed so much.
“Right. So does that mean we’re pressed for time?”
Grace looked at him. “Honestly, couldn’t tell you. I’d ask Luli when you get outside.”
“Right. Alright.” He hovered, wanting to say more. The idea that Lady Helga could be arriving any minute made him suddenly realize how real this mission was. If it went ugly, there were a lot of people he might just never see again.
“You got that look on your face.”
He looked back at her, whatever look she’d referred to now replaced with a wry, if tired, smile. “You think this thing is gonna go sideways?”
“Mmm, no. I think it might be unsuccessful because of how much could go wrong, but it’s not going to end with everyone dying. Worst case scenario…” She looked back at her gun. “We just call Omicron and give them the head’s up.”
He nodded, still tense, so she put a hand on his shoulder. “I know I shouldn't worry,” he said but she shook her head.
“You’re not a soldier and you shouldn’t be here. So yeah, second combat situation in a few weeks for someone who should be in a lab or whatever, I get it.” Her eyes were that same earnest blue that burned when they got into a discussion about immortality and religion or when she was kicking his ass in training. “You’re handling it well. Trust the process.” She slung her gun over her back and pulled her long coat over it before striding to the door. “Oh, and Julian?”
“Hmm?” He looked over from his cart at her.
“Give ‘em hell if they do come for you. You know what it’s like.” With this, and final grin, she was out the door.
submitted by Samara_Buckley_Derby to redditserials [link] [comments]
2020.09.18 01:28 beerrunner619 Talking to wife about solo fun time
Backstory:So wife (35), and I (36) have been together little over 12 years. I have been her only sex partner. Sex is great, not as often as we would like due to 2 younglings, her parents live with us and she suffers from depression at times, mostly due to her weight struggles( doesn't bother me 1 bit, as I still find her beautiful, and love her) we have never talked about solo masturbation habits ever. We do it during foreplay and sex so its not like we have never seen either do it, just never been caught that I know of and never caught her. Ive never asked her if she does it, but since she's never alone basically between me, kids and her parents arouns, I just assumed she doesnt have time for solo or just doesnt care to. Is it bad/weird/damaging that we don't discuss it at all? Not like I'm hiding it, just never comes up in convo. But tonight as we doing something, she mention adding lock on nightside drawer so toys don't have to go in my gun safe and have easier access, "not like I do it a lot or anything" I'm just sitting there thinking, I wanna catch her in act as that is a huge turn on for me, . I know the easy answer is talking to her. Thoughts?
submitted by beerrunner619 to sex [link] [comments]
2020.09.11 22:13 smsussma Solo wife caught
A little over a year ago my girlfriend, Charlotte Campbell, died in a fiery head-on collision with a drunk driver. As DD of the night, she was coming home from a college party after dropping off a few friends, when her tiny 2016 Toyota Camry was blindsided by an 18-wheeler driving on the wrong side of the highway. By the time police arrived at the scene, Charlotte’s body was charred and burned beyond recognition.
Turns out the guy’s BAC was .13. He’ll be in prison for life and I’ll never see my girlfriend again. The only thing that seemed to survive the crash besides the degenerate who killed her, was the relationship bracelet that I surprised her with on our 4 year anniversary. It was the left half of a heart in rose gold with her initials engraved into it, while mine was a matching piece that fit into hers like a deciphered puzzle. Her remains were cremated in an urn and buried in a plot at Saint Agatha Memorial Cemetery. The bracelet went with her, so that she always has a piece of me wherever she went.
A year later, after graduating college, I got my first job, and rented out my first home. I was still completely confused by my girlfriend’s sudden death. It’s mainly the irony of it all that seemed incredulous. My girlfriend was never a heavy drinker to begin with and was always smart behind the wheel. So, it seemed all too unsettling that her life was taken by a drunk driver. I eventually concluded that some things can never be fully explained. Constantly obsessing and overanalyzing Charlotte’s death was counterproductive and stalled the recovery process.
One night, a tinge of horniness swept over me. I hadn’t had the emotional capacity to date or have sex in over a year. That desire in me remained dormant. With this sudden wave of horniness came guilt. Guilt that I was craving sex without Charlotte, guilt that I was craving romance in my life without her, and guilt that I may be ready to start seeing other people. I was pretty hesitant about the idea at first but decided that maybe, it was time? Maybe, I was using my girlfriend’s death as an excuse to shield me from the fear of falling in love again and the potential grief of ever losing that person.
I decided to start small, something with no strings attached and required minimal emotional investment. I had never used dating apps before but quickly opened up to the idea. That night, while looking into some dating apps to download, I got an email notification about an app called “Curio.” Puzzled, I clicked on it. The email read, “Welcome to Curio! Are you CURIO-us to meet that special someone? Click the link below to download our free dating app.”
Again, I didn’t know too much about dating apps besides the standard Tinder and Bumble, so I decided to give this one a go. I clicked on the link, which redirected me to the app store to download. Its icon was a black square with a peculiar red “C” in its center. I double tapped on it and moments later I found myself filling out basic questions about myself. My name, my age, I even spent about 10 minutes digging through my camera roll to find six solid pictures of myself. Upon searching, I discovered a few old photos of Charlotte and I, that I had completely forgotten about.
Some of these included: a picture of us in straw hats and leis during our spring break trip to Cancun, a picture of us kissing in front of the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree, and a picture of us in matching USA tees during a beer olympics game, junior year. That picture in Cancun brought back a vivid memory of us coming back to our hotel that night, belligerently drunk, and calling ourselves the “Tequila twins.” From then on, before going to any event involving alcohol, we would say to each other, “The Tequila Twins are back at it again!”
The nostalgia was all too fleeting. To avoid tearing up, I quickly rounded up a few solo pictures to post on my profile. Moments later, I was presented with some profile cards. Most of the women on this app were pretty average looking, 6’s at best. I was continuously swiping left for a while before I gave up and decided to maybe try again tomorrow. It was getting pretty late and I needed to be up early for work the next morning.
To my surprise, I received a notification from Curio the following day that read, “Congratulations! You have a new match.” I was slightly confused by this, namely because I had no recollection of swiping right on anybody last night. However, I was pretty tired and assumed that I could have easily swiped right on somebody without even paying attention. Curious to see who this mystery woman was, I double tapped on the notification and was redirected to her profile.
However, I was horrified to see that this woman appeared to be a carbon copy of Charlotte. Upon further examination, this person appeared to share her same name and age as well. Hastily, I surveyed her profile and skimmed through her photos with a quickness. As these pictures became very familiar to me, my face grew hot with anger.
What sicko creates a fake profile of a dead person? I thought to myself.
Before I could message this asshole my two cents, I was interrupted by the user.
“Hey :)” they said.
“Whoever is doing this, please take this profile down immediately! You think this is funny??? What kind of fucking psychopath does something like this?” I shot back.
“Cam, it’s me :) Char.”
I could feel my heart throbbing out of my chest as beads of sweat spawned across my forehead.
My hands shook as I messaged back, “Please, fucking stop this now!”
“But I miss my tequila twin :((((”
At this point, I could barely breathe. I felt myself numbing out of reality as a sudden ringing in my ears took over my senses.
“Who the fuck is this?!”
“Cam, it’s me. Char! Please talk to me, babe :[”
Instantly, I shut off the app. I was so caught up in the madness of it all that I hadn’t realized that I was running late for work. I quickly threw on some clothes and rushed out of the house, writing off this mishap as some sick, twisted, joke.
As I arrived to work 10 minutes late, I was chastised by my verbally abusive manager for my tardiness.
“This is the second time this month, Cameron! Don’t let it fucking happen again!” he spat.
“Yes, sir.” I muttered, returning to my desk in a huff.
“Ahh don’t take it personally, man.” comforted my co-worker, Rob. “Big Ted’s just angrier than usual because of the um....divorce.” he whispered.
“Divorce?” I scoffed. “Isn’t he on his like, third wife already?”
“Fourth, actually.” Rob corrected. “First wife, cheated. Second wife got deported back to Russia. Third wife had a heroin overdose. And I think this one was just a rebound tired of his shit.”
“I hate corporate America.” I jeered, turning on my desktop. “By the way, have you ever heard of that new dating app, Curio?”
“Nope, I’m more of a Tinder type of guy. But now I’m...CURIO. HA, get it?! Curio...curious?” Rob joked.
I chuckled nervously while scrolling through my work email, hoping that my corporate job would calm me down and take my mind off of things. As I refreshed my inbox, a new email appeared from Curio about how I received another notification from the app. Again, I was a little confused about how this app somehow got access to my work email and was sending me notifications through it. Hesitantly, I clicked on the notification which revealed a picture message from “Charlotte.”
It was a photo of my back porch with a note that read: “The new place looks great...without me :/ We were supposed to move in together. Left a little gift at your door since you don’t want to talk to me anymore...”
While reading that note, I could feel my heart picking up speed as a wave of anxiety crashed over me. Clumsily, I stumbled right out of my desk chair and backed away from my computer in horror. As I fumbled around the floor for support, Rob helped me back up on my feet.
“Whoa, you okay man? You don’t look so good.” Rob asked, concerned.
“I-I gotta go, it’s an emergency.” I replied. Quickly, I shut off my desktop and rushed out of the building with fear in one hand and my jacket in the other. The ride to my house seemed to drag on forever. Yet, by the time I parked into my driveway my heart was thumping wildly out of my chest and I would do anything to be right back in my office.
I grabbed an old baseball bat from my trunk, and slowly approached the front porch. I was surprised to find the door still locked. Nonetheless, I searched every nook and cranny of my house for any intruders and thankfully, I was alone. Everything appeared exactly as I had left it and nothing was stolen.
I took a deep breath and laughed a bit. I couldn’t believe that I was allowing some internet troll to drive me nuts.
My location on the app is on, they could’ve easily discovered my location on Google Maps, taken a screenshot of my back porch, and sent me that message to try to mess with me. I reasoned.
Thus, I decided to return back to work and locked up on my way out. As I exited my home through the back porch, I was interrupted by a light crunching noise beneath my foot. I paused and lifted the heel of my shoe to discover a shimmering object dangling from it. After retrieving this mysterious object, my heart sunk upon closer examination.
It appeared to be a rose gold bracelet with the left half of a heart swaying from it, and the initials “C.C” engraved into the pendant. I twisted my wrist, revealing the matching piece. I suddenly realized that I hadn’t taken it off since the funeral. I fit my half of the pendant into the other piece, revealing a perfectly mended heart. Dazed and confused, I shook my head and abandoned the bracelet as quickly as I retrieved it. It landed back onto the doormat as I rushed back to my car with tears in my eyes.
Swiftly, I reached into my back pocket for my phone and aggressively began typing out a message to “Charlotte.”
“Please tell me who the fuck this is, right now?!”
I received a reply back in seconds.
“Cam, why are you mad at me? :( I miss you so much and this is how you treat your girlfriend?”
“This isn’t fucking funny! I’m filing a report.”
Quickly, I reported the account for “false identity”, unmatched the user, and deleted the app from my phone, altogether. I ended up crying in the front seat of my car for a bit before mustering up the strength to drive back to work. Luckily, Big Ted was out for the rest of the day at a press conference. So, I didn’t have to suffer any consequences for running out of the building with no explanation.
By the end of the day I felt pretty weighed down by stress and grief that I ended up passing out on my couch for a few hours. I was eventually woken up by the melody of my mobile ringtone. I checked my lockscreen for the caller ID, which displayed Rob’s contact.
I picked up and yawned into the speaker, “Hey, man. What’s up?”
“Yo, Cam! Hope I’m not interrupting anything, was just wondering what the name of that dating app was that you were talking to me about earlier?” he asked. “I’m getting so tired of these same old bullshit apps.”
I stretched a bit and scratched my head. As I perched myself up on the couch, I replied, “Yeah, it’s called ‘Curio.’ C-U-R-I-O.”
There was a brief pause as Rob quietly echoed the spelling into the speaker while tapping away into the app store search bar.
“Hm...that’s weird.” he said.
“What?” I asked.
“Can’t seem to find it anywhere. You sure I got the spelling right?”
“Yeah, it’s C-U-R-I-O. Curio.” I repeated.
“Hm. Yeah, bro. Can’t seem to find it anywhere. No worries, though. This phone’s pretty old. Could just be a glitch or something. Anyway, I’ll see you tomorrow. Sleep tight!”
Suddenly, I was stricken with curiosity and began searching up the app on Google. Something, I probably should’ve done much sooner. I was surprised to find absolutely no information on the app, despite constantly receiving emails from the company and having downloaded it onto my phone. I even tried different variations of spelling and keywords to no avail. Defeated, I dragged myself up to bed and found solace in the fact that Curio wasn’t my problem anymore.
Yet, I was horrified to discover the app reinstalled onto my phone the next morning. I had also received another “Congratulations! You have a new match.” notification. After double tapping on the alert, I was redirected to the profile of my match. My face hardened and lost its color after realizing who it was. I had somehow rematched with “Charlotte” overnight.
“How?” I muttered to myself. Moments later I received a video message from the user with a note. As I squinted my eyes to get a better look, it appeared to be a video of my dimly lit room. The camera quality was terrible but whoever was filming approached my bed at such a distance, that the light of their camera flash fully illuminated the side of my face as I was sleeping in my bed last night.
Beneath it, the user wrote, “You’re so handsome when you sleep ;)”
At this point, It felt as if I was losing touch with reality. It was time to take this matter to authorities. I sped to the police station before work and after arriving, I aggressively slammed my phone down in front of two officers at the front desk.
“Hi, I believe I am being stalked by someone pretending to be my dead girlfriend on a dating app.” I blurted.
The two officers exchanged befuddled looks before one of them spoke up. “Slow down, son. Can you tell me your name and what app you’re even talking about?” he asked.
“Yeah, My name’s Cameron Hill. My girlfriend, Charlotte Campbell, passed away a little over a year ago and somebody on this app, ‘Curio’ is harassing me and pretending to be her. I think they know where I live. They’ve been sending pictures and videos of me, as well as the inside and outside of my house.” I replied, sternly. I unlocked my phone for them and opened the app.
Both officers narrowed their eyes as they inspected the screen for a few moments.
“You ever try Tinder, kid?” chuckled one of them—a stocky man who was suffering from a pretty extreme case of premature balding. I didn’t laugh. The goofy expression on his face faded rather quickly.
“Yeah, I don’t know what’s going on here but this app keeps freezing up and closing before I can even see anything.” said the other officer—a better looking version of his partner.
“You probably don’t have nothing to worry about, though. Usually these type of cyberbullying scenarios end up being carried out by a bunch of punks behind the scenes.”
I narrowed my eyes at him. “Cyberbullying? Sir, with all due respect. I believe that I am being stalked and hunted.”
“Listen, kid. If you experience any more threats, you have our number.”
I glared angrily at both of them, before snatching my phone and storming out of there. A complete waste of my time. I arrived at work five minutes late and received yet another verbal beating by my boss.
“You’re so fucking unqualified for this job, it isn’t even funny. If it weren’t for your rich ass father buying your way into every opportunity in life, you would be living on the streets. Lately, you’ve been offering absolutely nothing to this company. STOP SHOWING UP LATE!” he spat. I grit my teeth and forced a calm response, “Yes, sir. Won’t happen again.”
Luckily, work flew by and I was home before I knew it. Lately, the mental exhaustion of my life put me to sleep on my couch as soon as I got home. However, I found myself waking up a few hours later to a Curio message notification from “Charlotte.”
“It’s been three days, Cam. I miss you so much :/ Can we please meet up tonight?” she asked.
I then offered a speedy reply. “I don’t know who this is...But Charlotte Campbell, the person who you are impersonating is dead. Gone. Buried at Saint Agatha’s Cemetery miles and miles away from here. Now please, leave me alone.”
I then closed my eyes and massaged my temples for a few moments before my phone buzzed again. It was a much more grim message this time.
“You have until 9 PM tonight to come find me, or I’ll drag you to Hell with me.”
Once again, that wave of anxiety and dread swept over me as my heart thumped out of my chest. I took a second to think, before pulling out Google. I attempted to do a second search into the app where I was left with no answers. I then went back into my email and discovered that the original sender was anonymous and out of my domain. I even attempted to email this anonymous sender. However, the message failed and was apparently an “invalid email address.”
As I reexamined the first email, featuring the Curio ad, I noticed some very fine print at the bottom of the email, which read, “If your CURIO-sity is fulfilled. Please, pass this message along to another friend who lost a lover ❤️🖤We’re here to piece love back together.” I took a moment to think hard about what this all meant, but by the end of the night I had a feeling that I wouldn’t be hearing from “Charlotte.” ever again.
I woke up the next morning, very much alive and not in Hell. When I checked the lockscreen of my phone, all notifications from Curio had ceased and the app had somehow been wiped clean off of my phone, including any emails sent about them. It was as if the app had never even existed.
I arrived at work in high spirits and surprisingly, so did my boss. He even apologized for yelling at me the past few days and saying all of those mean things. He said that we have to, “Hold on tight to those who are there for us and to never take them for granted.” Since that day, nobody has seen him since. There was no formal goodbye or leave of the company. Theodore McClow, or “Big Ted” as we called him in the office, has been missing for months and hasn’t been found since that day.
Since then, I’ve moved to a different town with a different job. I’m much happier here and I’ve even met someone new without the help of dating apps. However, to anyone who gets an email about an app called “Curio.” PLEASE, DO NOT DOWNLOAD THE APP. Do as the fine print says...
submitted by smsussma to nosleep [link] [comments]
2020.09.04 09:46 IdolA4Sepl Vacation Amat-eur Vizu Po-rn Az
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submitted by IdolA4Sepl to u/IdolA4Sepl [link] [comments]
2020.09.02 09:32 faeint Caught solo wife
I'm sure this is a fairly common story. My boardgame collection originally started with a bunch of 2+ player games that I enjoyed with my wife, but her interest in playing waned after a while, while mine has increased, so I moved onto games that are solo-able out of the box. However, I've still got a decent number of great multiplayer games that I still want to enjoy.
I tasked myself to find workable solo options for as many of the games as I can, and I've been having a blast! The boardgamegeek "variants" forum for each game almost without fail has at least one option to try, so I've got a bunch of different games to the table that I thought were destined to collect dust forever. Here they are, along with the source of each ruleset: