Above ground oval pool
G4G: No hive mind, just your mind.
2013.04.28 17:26 Throwaway_4_opinions G4G: No hive mind, just your mind.
*Header Image by clarque_ * /Gaming4Gamers is an attempt to create a different gaming subreddit. By creating a middle ground between the purely-for-fun subreddits and the more serious ones, we aim to build a community based on open-minded discussions, camaraderie above competition, and a shared love of video games.
2023.05.29 17:48 ccmdub Weathered bricks and cracked mortar - What could be wrong?
I'm looking for some advice on a home I'm interested in buying. The main issues are with a garage. I've attached some pictures here: https://imgur.com/a/nIA40v7
It looks like 2 things are happening to me.
- The eavestroughs drain straight into the ground at the two corners of the garage with no indication of where they drain out to. I fear they just go straight into the ground, which is likely causing foundation issues.
- The facade of the garage looks to be cracking along the mortar above the garage doors, possibly due to foundation shifts. It looks like cracks have been covered with cement.
I get the sense a home inspector will only point out what's visible but I would need a structural engineer to get a deeper look and proper recommendations.
If I buy the house, I would consider replacing the entire facade at the front of the house and redo the drainage to ensure water leads away from the house. I wouldn't want the problem to re-occur. I'm not sure if anything would need to be done to improve the foundation under the garage.
I would like to get opinions of whether or not my perspective of the problems is accurate and if there might be larger problems I'm not aware of.
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2023.05.29 17:42 nlitherl "Russian Roulette," A Geist The Sin Eaters Story (When a Bad Life Catches Up With Johnny Hammer, He Has To Make a Deal With a Devil To Stay Above Ground)
2023.05.29 17:34 DARKSTAIN Pool liner center seam
Hello, I have a 15x24 oval above ground pool. I just purchased a liner with two seams on the bottom and another seam a little off center running up the wall. It's a j hook liner. What is my center? The space between the two floor seams or the single seam running up the wall? Thank you
submitted by DARKSTAIN
to pools [link] [comments]
2023.05.29 17:25 uppermiddleclassact Black stains on steps fixable?
2023.05.29 17:25 IskoLat Mikhail Kalinin. "The People of Lithuania Are on a New Path"
| || | submitted by IskoLat to BalticSSRs [link] [comments]
On July 14-15 of 1940, elections to the People's Parliament [Liaudies Seimas]
were held in Lithuania. These elections had an unusual content and significance compared to previous elections. Here the false declarations and unrealistic promises of all kinds of benefits to the people, which the bourgeois parties usually made, were put aside and pushed into obscurity by two cardinal issues: 1) On the proclamation of Lithuania as a fellow Soviet Socialist Republic and 2) On the accession of the Lithuanian Soviet Socialist Republic into the Soviet Union as a Union Republic.
The overwhelming majority of the population took part in the elections - 95.51% of voters compared to 38% of voters who actually took part in the last elections. Moreover, 99.19% of voters voted for the candidates of the Union of the Working People of Lithuania. And this is natural, because the question was clear, understandable to everybody and affected every Lithuanian in one way or another. So, by voting for supporters of Lithuania's accession into the Soviet Union, one thereby determined his attitude to this issue. By voting in 1940, the Lithuanian people, perhaps for the first time in their entire history, could freely reveal their will and their aspirations as a whole, as a people, and, taking advantage of this opportunity, demanded the Soviet system of governance for themselves.
Reactionaries, enemies of the Soviet system of governance, were enraged by this result. Even the liberal democratic circles threw up their hands in surprise. Unable to find, and unwilling to look for the real reason for such a turn by the Lithuanian people, in the specific conditions of their life, they sought to discredit the elections themselves, the voting procedure. But even here these people suffered a fiasco: the genuine democratic nature of the elections did not give any real grounds for defaming them. And, nevertheless, this did not prevent the reactionary press from coming out with hostile articles and bringing forth, as expected from them, facts invented in the editorial offices.
One should not be surprised here. On the contrary, it would be surprising if, say, not the reactionary, but at least the liberal-bourgeois press reacted to these elections positively. In fact, how much work was spent for the political deception of the people, for propaganda and agitation, for school "education", religious influence, administrative pressure, etc.! Mountains of slander were pushed against the USSR, against the Soviet government! It is difficult even to name all the means the Smetona government used to influence the Lithuanian people in order to discourage them from any desire to find out the truth about real life in the Soviet Union, in order to isolate the Lithuanians from even the slightest influence of Soviet culture. For this purpose, it sought maximum isolation of Lithuania from the USSR, not only politically and culturally, but also economically.
It seemed that there were no channels, no ways through which the Lithuanian people's ties with the Soviet Union could develop. However, the actual reality cruelly mocked those who worked so zealously to darken the consciousness of the Lithuanian people, those who tried their best to introduce inertia and indifference into the consciousness of the people. At the first opportunity, the Lithuanian people loudly declared: I want to be a member of the Soviet Union!
That's what infuriated the enemies of the Soviet form of governance and still infuriates them to this day. What mean reasons pushed the Lithuanian people on the path to the Soviet system, to its accession into the USSR? There are many very convincing reasons. That they are serious is clear to every Lithuanian, because with his mother's milk he was instilled with the thought that the most valuable thing is the independence of his own country, its greatness. But reasonable people had doubts about the "independence" that Lithuania had, uncertainty about its reality, because the facts contradicted it too much. No sooner had the republic organized itself and the government settled in its capital, Vilnius, than a certain Polish general with his detachment of troops seized Vilnius, expelled the Lithuanian government, and the capital of Lithuania was annexed to Poland, and Lithuania lost its largest and most industrialized city. For the sake of decency, the press made a little noise, and that was the end of it. The suzerain powers did not even lift a finger to restore the violated rights of Lithuania, because the attacker was also patronized by them and probably more valuable as an open enemy of the Soviet Union.
With Hitler's rise to power in Germany, the specter of Lithuania's "independence" has diminished even more. In 1939, Hitler seized Klaipeda, and the Lithuanian government, filled with fear for its own existence, was glad that the seizure was limited only to the Klaipeda region and the treaty, which in effect included the entire Lithuanian economy in the German economic master plan. I do not want to accuse the government that existed of not wanting to do anything to defend the country, but only to illustrate the phantom nature of the "independence" of Lithuania during that time. It would be a mistake to think that the Lithuanian people did not strive for real independence. In 1919, after the expulsion of German troops, the Soviet government was established in Lithuania, which signed an alliance with Soviet Belarus. But the real independence of Lithuania was quickly liquidated by the Entente and the German troops called into the fight by it. In the language of the European bourgeois press, this was called the "restoration" of Lithuanian "independence".
The country's politics and economy developed in accordance with external conditions. After the defeat of the Soviet government, a democratic government was organized. (It was impossible to immediately install a fascist regime after crushing the Soviet government). It didn't last long. Apparently, the common path of development of the Baltic countries was manifested here: the suppression of the Soviet government -> democracy (as a transitional form of power) -> fascism. Obviously, for some "champions" of democracy, fascism is more acceptable, because any democracy, even by a tiny bit, at least for appearance's sake, must do something in the interests of the people. Fascism does not even concern itself with such tasks. That is why fascism in small countries is encouraged by the big "guardians of democracy". The establishment of the fascist regime in Lithuania, the Smetona regime, made Lithuania into a cash cow for German capital. The Germans were not content with just subjugating the Lithuanian economy to their plan. They methodically introduced themselves into all the avenues of Lithuanian life, turning Lithuania into a springboard for an attack on the Soviet Union, which, in fact, they did not hide from Smetona, who shared their thoughts. On the contrary, the preparation of Lithuania's territory for military purposes seemed to justify the introduction of Germans into all the pores of Lithuanian life. In this way, the Germans killed two birds with one stone: 1) They prepared a military bridgehead and 2) Quietly adapted Lithuania into a German Hinterland.
The Smetona government saw the danger that threatened the independent existence of Lithuania, and, in fact, did not resist German aggression, trying to curry favor with Hitler, with whose support it now owed its existence to. The only hope of Smetona and his supporters was that they would remain in power under German fascism in one form or another and would exploit at least some part of the people's labor. The above facts clearly show what was really hidden under the decorum of Lithuanian "independence". Smetona's internal policy naturally corresponded to the external one. It consisted in imitation of German fascism, in adapting it to local conditions.
Now even the blind can see that fascism with its ideology and politics is a terrible social evil generated by the era of imperialism. Anyone who has been to the south has seen with his own eyes how a huge tree - pine, oak, cypress - was wrapped by a parasitic plant with bright green leaves. With its stems, it presses tightly against the tree, and numerous shoots dig into the bark and pull out the juices. It is possible to save a tree from death only by destroying this parasitic plant. Fascism is a parasite of the state tree. And if the people do not destroy it in a timely manner, it will inevitably lead the country to the greatest of disasters. Experience has shown that fascism is equally fatal for both large and small countries alike. Having no desire to awaken the creative forces of the people, on the contrary, deliberately putting them to sleep, so that it would be easier to turn people into an obedient herd, the fascist leaders, for example, in Hungary, Romania, etc., shouted furiously: "Great Hungary!", "Great Romania!". It was laughable. But all the fascist meanness was hidden behind this farce.
As for Smetona, he did not even have this prop. His main desire was to cover up, if possible, his dependence on Hitler, to disguise it in front of the Lithuanian people. The task is difficult and, in fact, impossible, because the Germans climbed and penetrated into all the holes and cracks, seized banks, and through them the industrial enterprises, wholesale trade, flooded the country with their literature, films and generally felt no worse in Lithuania than they would at home. In short: there was, perhaps not quite noticeable to the eyes of an ordinary person, but an inevitable process of germanizing Lithuania .
Relations between Germany and Lithuania progressed towards not only the actual but also the formal transformation of Lithuania into a German colony (Smetona's request to Hitler about the entry of German troops into Lithuania). If Smetona, seeing all this danger, even wanted to prevent it, then, having neither material nor military resources, and most importantly, not using the moral support of the Lithuanian people, he would not be able to resist German aggression. Smetona had only one path left, which he followed: no resistance, but harmonizing the life of the whole country with German demands and humble obedience to Hitler. With such a "policy" he decided to prolong the appearance of Lithuania's "independent" existence.
Naturally, such a government could not satisfy the people. It could not and did not want to serve the interests of the Lithuanian people. The narrow egoistic interests of this government were closely linked with German interests, and its spiritual demands were related to Hitlerism. It means that the entire state policy of Smetona's government rested on the enrichment of a small handful of people, on the systemic robbery of the people, on the strangulation and all-round emasculation of their national culture.
Perhaps there is no country - both in Europe and in the Americas - where Lithuanian migrants who fled from their native country not only from political repression, but even more simply from hunger, would not be found. The Lithuanian intelligentsia, especially the progressive intelligentsia, was not in the best position either. The opportunity to live and breathe was only in leaving, because they had no work in their native country, and fascism stifled every free thought. The fascist octopus tightly wrapped itself around the Lithuanian people and led them to their imminent death. https://preview.redd.it/ipp1pzqt3s2b1.png?width=1280&format=png&auto=webp&s=1de6d0bb0a3864dd560557346226e8f300cfb67e
These are the reasons that prompted the Lithuanian people to vote for Lithuania's entry into the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.
Of course, when voting, the Lithuanian people not only desired to get rid of the unbearable conditions in which their life took place, but they fully took into account the benefits and advantages that the Soviet system brings them. One of the serious factors is that the Lithuanian people, having joined the USSR, acquired real independence. The enemies persistently insist that Lithuania is dependent, since it is one of the sixteen republics in the Union. But these are all enemy fairy tales. Why are entrepreneurs organized into government trusts, syndicates and enterprises? They will say that there is a naked calculation of increased profits from the monopoly. Yes, that's right. True, some of the propertied classes hypocritically condemn them for this from a "moral" point of view. But only the workers' organizations are really fighting them. And trusts, syndicates and enterprises are developing and growing stronger. At the same time, it does not occur to any entrepreneur that he is losing his industrial independence.
I will give other examples. Now everywhere workers and employees unite in trade unions. Who can say that they lose their personal freedom and independence at the same time? Moreover, the trade unions of workers and employees of any state strive to be members of an international professional organization. And this is quite natural, because each of them understands that this is the only way the one can defend personal freedom and independence.
Furthermore, a peasant, protecting his well-being, enters a cooperative, and the coop association formed in the country links up with cooperative organizations of other countries, and there is already an international cooperative association - the alliance. Only moneylenders, predatory traders and speculators can shed crocodile tears over the fact that peasants that are united in cooperatives cease to be independent landowners.
Every association is an organization that restricts an individual to one degree or another. For example, the same peasant, who is a member of a cooperative, undertakes to hand over all or part of his marketable products to the coop. This restricts the peasant in his freedom to dispose of his products in a way. But in reality, the coop protects him from a predatory buyer.
The USSR has sixteen Union republics with a well-known, but equal limitation of their sovereignty. They form a single union state with a different national way of life, with a diverse national form of culture and historical past. Only the Soviet system and Lenin's national policy ensure and guarantee them unbreakable unity and genuine friendship, real freedom and independence. Protecting the whole, the Soviet system and Lenin's national policy give full opportunity for the unlimited development of each republic, every nationality…
The enormous work by our party to create and strengthen the multinational state has been a complete success. Comrade Stalin said the following: "The absence of the exploiter classes, which are the main masterminds behind the international conflict; the absence of exploitation, with its mutual distrust and brewing nationalist passions; the presence of power of the working class, which is the enemy of all enslavement and a faithful bearer of the ideas of internationalism; the actual implementation of mutual assistance of peoples in all areas of economic and social life; finally, the flourishing of the national culture of the peoples of the USSR, national in form, socialist in content - all these and similar factors have led to the following: the appearance of the peoples of the USSR has radically changed, the feeling of mutual distrust has disappeared in them, a sense of mutual friendship has developed in them and, thus, real fraternal cooperation of peoples has been established in the system of a single union state. As a result, we now have a fully developed multinational socialist state that has withstood all the tests of time, the strength of which could be envied by any nation-state in any part of the world"
During the Great Patriotic War, the strength of the cohesion of the peoples of the Soviet Union, based on Lenin's national policy, withstood enormous trials. The war with fascist Germany and its satellite states clearly showed how valuable the Soviet Union is for every Union Republic. The enemy occupied all of Lithuania and went far beyond its borders to the east. It seemed that the country had perished under the Nazi boot. But far from the Lithuanian borders, near Orel, a Lithuanian division fought in the All-Union Red Army. And in the capital of the Soviet Union, Moscow, there was a Lithuanian government that called upon and organized, as much as possible, the forces capable of fighting inside Lithuania.
No matter how loud the German military drums thundered, no matter how much fascist propaganda tried to distort the actual situation on the fronts and in the rear of the Soviet armies, no matter how cruelly the Gestapo tortured Soviet patriots, the Lithuanian people heard and saw that a fierce struggle for their liberation was going on. This undoubtedly inspired him with great confidence in victory, inspired the partisans in their difficult and daring struggle in the distant rear of the enemy, and their heroic actions, in turn, raised the spirit and morale of the people. The names of Marytė Melnikaitė, Urbanavičius (Kurmelis), Apyvala, Vladas Baronas, Jacinavičius, Motieka and others have earned glory not only by themselves, but also because they embody the best traditions of the Lithuanian people, their heroism and boundless devotion to their Homeland.
Next, let's take the work efficiency of the people as a whole. Statesmen, industrialists, journalists of capitalist countries continuously call for increased labor productivity as the basis of the country's well-being. The fascist Lithuanian government was not far behind in this. But with the policy pursued by this government, with Lithuania's economic dependence on Germany, the limits of increasing labor efficiency were very limited, and this increase was mainly directed at greater exploitation of the workers. Lithuania's economic development also had purely objective limitations: the small territory of the country, the absence of the main elements necessary for production - coal, iron and generally valuable ores, its predominantly agrarian nature. All this, as it were, naturally predetermined the backwardness of Lithuanian industry and, what is most tragic, the lack of prospects in the future.
By joining the Soviet Union, the Lithuanian people radically transformed the economic situation of their country. From an appendage of Germany, from the backwater of Europe, Lithuania received unlimited opportunities to turn into an advanced and highly developed national republic, as a full member of the great Union. Now her household will be built in a new way. The structure of the industry will change, it will acquire a character corresponding to modern advanced state of technology. It is now provided with a powerful raw material base and an unlimited market for the sale of its products. There are no objective obstacles to specialization, and hence to increase in the efficiency of labor, as the basis of welfare of the people.
In fact, what can now prevent the construction of any factory specialized in the production of any type of goods? Nothing but a shortage of skilled workers, engineers and technical personnel among Lithuanians. I will illustrate my point with an example. In Lithuania, for example, a machine tooling or machine-building plant is being erected. The Union as a whole needs thousands of machines, the plant also produces thousands of machines, but the Republic of Lithuania can use only hundreds or dozens of machines - such is its need for the kind of machines that this plant produces. Wouldn't it be better for the plant to produce machines only for this republic? Of course, technically it is possible, but economically it will be irrational, unprofitable, production will become artisanal and, most importantly, the quality of products will be worse, productivity is much lower. In this way, not only will we not get closer to the American technological level, but we will move away from it, even if the plant had first-class equipment. But the socialist economy strives for a higher productivity of labor than that which capitalism is able to create in its most advanced countries.
Thus, in order to have high labor productivity and its efficiency, it is not enough to have a wish and even a desire to have it, but we also need the appropriate economic and social conditions that the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics gives to all constituent republics. With these arguments, I do not want to belittle or downplay the importance of local or Republican industry, which mainly fulfills local needs. But local industry can also work productively only if it is abundantly supplied with good machines. This is well understood by the leaders of the Republics, who also bear responsibility for the enterprises of all-Union significance.
The Soviet government invested a lot of money and labor in the development of agriculture, which became the largest and most mechanized agriculture in the world. It has become productive, of which the best proof is the satisfaction of its military needs. Lithuanian agriculture is considered productive, it produced significant products for export. But we cannot close our eyes and ignore the fact that this productivity was based on the enormous exertion of the peasantry, on the hard work of the middle peasant on his farm and the farmhand in a larger farm. Physical labor took up their entire lives, leaving no time to satisfy their spiritual needs.
Under the Soviet system of governance, the Lithuanian peasant will not agree to such a life. His public interests are rapidly expanding, cultural demands are growing, which require time to satisfy themselves. The Soviet government highly values labor, celebrating labor feats with awards. But at the same time, it spares no expense to increase cultural and political education of the village. All this imperiously requires mechanization, the introduction of modern agricultural machines adapted to Lithuanian conditions.
These are the ways and means by which the Soviet government increases labor productivity both in industry and in agriculture. Undoubtedly, the Lithuanian people are using these opportunities to their fullest. Of course, it is not easy to move forward the economy and culture of the entire country, especially if it has a lot to catching up to do. But the life of the people, their well-being, demand this first and foremost. The creative forces of the people are inexhaustible, you just need to be able to awaken them.
The questions that I have asked casually and slightly indicate the enormous and complex nature of the tasks facing the Lithuanian people and its intelligentsia.
Fulfilling the program set by the Communist Party, the Union Government not only protects, but also ensures the flourishing of national culture of each Union republic, the established customs and, in particular, the native language of its peoples. It creates all the necessary conditions for the fruitful work of the intelligentsia in its field. Therefore, the Lithuanian intelligentsia bears full responsibility to its people for the cultural prosperity of the republic.
The national school is the first step in human development, the most important stage in the process of forming an active citizen and a patriot of his Homeland - therefore, it must be at the Homeland's top priority. During the implementation of this program, the Homeland should instill in the younger generations a love for their native language, folk songs, native landscape and at the same time expand the horizon of students as future citizens of the Soviet Union, and collectively instill in them a love for the great and multinational Motherland – the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. From this we see that the understanding of all-Union Soviet patriotism is not opposed to the local one. It is from local patriotism, as a popular source, that patriotism grows towards the Soviet system of governance, towards the USSR as a whole.
I think the Lithuanian government helps a lot and in the future will allocate even more of its resources towards the development of literature in the Lithuanian language, especially original fiction, drawing its plots from Lithuanian folk life and contributing to the awakening of new creative forces in the people.
Without a doubt, Lithuania will take an honorable place among the Union republics in the development of all kinds of art and sports, and its folk choirs will be an inexhaustible source for the development of national music and theater. https://preview.redd.it/5oo4a5c1fs2b1.jpg?width=805&format=pjpg&auto=webp&s=7d15083c272edffd9f4f5f3a8e8285210e4f05f8
The war is over. The shackles that bound the creative forces of the Lithuanian people have been removed forever. I sincerely wish the Lithuanian people success in building their Soviet state, in the development of industry, agriculture and culture, national in form and socialist in its content.
"Soviet Lithuania" No. 289,
December 28, 1945
Printed according to the text of the newspaper
 As it turned out from the documents presented by the American prosecution at the Nuremberg Trials, the Germans planned to completely destroy the Baltic States and resettles their peoples, in particular Lithuanians, to Belarus. The essence of Rosenberg's instructions on this issue was reduced in practice to the destruction of the Lithuanian people. "The solution to the colonial problem," he wrote, "is not the Baltic question per se, but a question that concerns greater Germany and it must be resolved accordingly."
 Josef Stalin. Problems of Leninism, 2nd Ed., Gospolitizdat, 1953, pp. 551-552.-582. (in Russian)
Source: Калинин М.И. Статьи и речи
(1941-1946 гг.). ЛИТОВСКИЙ НАРОД НА НОВОМ ПУТИ (292-296).
2023.05.29 17:24 Panasit Multiple Fatalities at Haunted/cursed Objects Exhibition
The haunted/cursed objects exhibition which featured items that had caused gruesome deaths of their owners or anyone else that got close to them was another stunt by Professor Melvin.
Professor Eric Melvin was one of those professors who thought he was too good for this little community college in Shady Grove, Maryland. I took his art history class, which he never shied away from telling everyone he had no time for. I was shocked to see that his teaching slides were just blurry photos that he took of the pages from a textbook with his phone.
What Melvin had time for were stunts. His goals were to get the attention of the Gazettes or be trending on social media. His earlier exhibition which featured only blowup prints of a screencap of a dating app profile made the front page of the Style section, and that was all that mattered.
Unlike his other stunts, the haunted/cursed object exhibition involved me.I worked as a student assistant at the college’s Art Department. My jobs consisted of making photocopies, answering phones, and taking turns with other assistants to guard the gallery until 8 pm.
Melvin asked us assistants to help with the setting up of the haunted/cursed objects show. We all politely declined, which annoyed Melvin a bit. He stared at me with the just-you-wait look.
I came from a superstitious culture where there was always someone who knew someone who had fallen victim to dark magic. No one could pay me enough to touch those literally cursed things.
As I was watching the delivery guys carrying the objects into the gallery, I was surprised by how modern the haunted/cursed objects were. I was expecting a creepy painting or a scary doll. Instead, there was,
a plasma TV
a recliner armchair
a turquoise necklace
a miniature fire station
and even an animatronic singing fish.
Without additional decor, the exhibit looked more like a yard sale.The owner of the objects had a list of rules, but Melvin never bothered to look at it. He handed me a still-sealed envelope. I read the rules aloud so that Melvin, my supervisor, and other student assistants could hear them too.
Dear Professor Melvin.
Thank you for taking an interest in my collection.
All of these objects have caused numerous misfortunes and deaths in the past. It is my sincere wish to not add any more tragedy to the collection’s history. Please follow these rules carefully and may your show conclude without incident.
Rule 1: Never be in the same room with any of these objects when the lights are off.
Rule 2: Do not allow pregnant women anywhere near the haunted/cursed objects.
Rule 3: The cursed pieces of jewelry have the power to entice people to wear them. Please make sure you have a system in place where people won’t be able to touch them.
Rule 4: Do not connect any device to the TV.
Rule 5: Do not change the channel on the TV. If you or someone else did, you must change the channel back to channel 33.
Rule 6: This should not happen if the above rules were followed, but if the little light on the gate of the miniature fire station starts to blink and makes a sound, run as far away as possible and call me directly.
Melvin scoffed and said, if the exhibit ends without incident, where’s the fun in that? Melvin then turned to me, hoping to get a reaction. I was taken aback. What was that supposed to mean? Did he just say he wanted something bad to happen? What are you planning, Melvin?The letter continued,
My collection contains both cursed objects and haunted objects. Haunted objects are possessed by spirits and can cause fear, while cursed objects are deadly to anyone who interacts with them. The plasma TV is both, and is, therefore, the most dangerous. Please be extra careful around it.
I took my concern about the assistant’s safety to the dean, whose office was right next to the gallery. The dean laughed and asked me if I believe in curses and ghosts. I said that in Thailand, there was a phrase that said “Not believing is fine, but don’t disrespect just in case,” and that was my stance.
The dean shook her head and just told me that if I was so scared then don’t break any of the rules. For the first time working there, I felt less like a student talking to a well-meaning professor, and more like an employee whose concern was being brushed off by an apathetic employer.
The first night with the haunted/cursed objects inside the gallery I was guarding them with another student assistant. We behaved just like any other night as we just sat in the mailroom and watched YouTubers play Dead by Daylight. We could see what was going on in the gallery next door through the CCTV monitor.
At 7.30, both of us heard a very loud thud coming from the gallery. I didn’t see anything abnormal on the CCTV, so the other assistant and I both walked over to the gallery to check.We both saw a squirrel with its neck broken lying dead in front of the plasma TV. I didn’t know how it got inside. That was enough for me to creep me out and want to call it a night, even if it was a bit early.
Something I hadn’t thought about until then was that I had to turn off the lights, but the switches were at the far end of the gallery. I would have to walk out of the gallery in the dark, breaking rule number 1.
To avoid breaking the rule, I told the other student assistant to keep the door open and light the room up a bit with her phone’s flashlight. It was a good thing that we both came from a culture that believe in curses and hauntings, so I didn’t have to work too hard to convince her. I shut off all the lights and ran out.
The other student assistant asked me what I would do the next night when I would have to guard the gallery alone. I told her I would probably just leave the gallery’s lights on for one night.I got to the mailroom the next day at around 10.00 AM and there was a commotion.
One of the haunted/cursed objects, a turquoise necklace, was missing. I asked my supervisor bluntly if it was our fault, but one of the professors said he saw it early that morning, which meant that it wasn’t stolen overnight. Since this had nothing to do with me, I just went to class.
In the evening, it was time for me to guard the gallery alone and I started the night by just watching people play Dead by Daylight to pass the time. In between one of the matches, I looked over at the CCTV monitor and saw a lanky man in ragged clothing staring at the plasma TV.
Normally, a strange person walking into a gallery would not be a cause for concern. I mean, that was the point of having an exhibition. But, two things made me run to the gallery. One, I could see that the man had a flickering glow on his face, which meant that the TV was turned on. The TV wasn’t supposed to be plugged in and turned on until the official opening ceremony on Friday. And two, he was changing the channel.
The man did not notice me despite me asking him repeatedly to step away from the TV so that I could switch it off. I considered just pulling the plug, but the man looked scary. What if the moment I unplugged the TV he decided to jump me?
The man kept staring at the plasma TV with his mouth slightly opened, seemingly in a trance. Up close, I could see that he was unshaven and his eyes were bloodshot red. His fingers kept pushing the button that changed the channel, despite the screen only showing static.
I did not know what to do. The man technically wasn’t doing anything wrong since we didn’t announce the rules to the public. There wasn’t any sign that said don’t touch the TV and don’t change the channel. I can’t tell the security guard to kick him out just because of his disheveled appearance. This is a public college, so he has the right to be there as much as anyone else. I decided to go back to the mailroom to watch more YouTube videos, hoping that he would leave on his own before closing time.
When it was 8 pm and he was still doing the same thing. I called my supervisor to ask her about my options. She said to ask the security guards at the front of the school for help.
I brought two security guards back with me to the gallery. Once we arrived, we found the man seemingly strangling himself on the floor in front of the plasma TV. The TV screen showed a very old black-and-white POV shot of a person being strangled by another man who had a sadistic glee on his face.
One of the security guards rushed in to help the man while the other one radioed his superior to call for an ambulance. I was horrified by what I saw. The face on the screen of a smiling man started out staring downward at the person he was strangling. But after a while, he looked up right at the camera like he was looking at me.
As I was backing away from the chaos, an elevator next to the gallery made a sound. Someone was coming down from the fourth floor? No one should have been upstairs since this was already past 8 pm, and our building did not have any night classes.
Once the elevator door was opened, a cleaning lady who was inside turned around. Her eyes were gouged out and there was blood all over. She held her hands up and ran out of the elevator toward me. She tried to grab onto my shirt collar but her hands missed, and she collapsed on the ground. She was wearing the missing necklace.
I was so scared, I was on the floor and didn’t even remember falling. The security guards, who looked shocked and traumatized themselves, told me that I didn’t have to wait for the paramedics with them. And so, I just bolted home.
I had a hard time sleeping that night, with the image of the cleaning lady without her eyes rushing toward me burning into my brain.
I decided to go back to the college the next day to rip everyone a new one. The dean, my supervisor, and especially Melvin for allowing this to happen. I also just wanted to get some updates on the cleaning lady and the man.
On my way to the department building, a pregnant woman was walking right beside me. As we got closer to the entrance of the art building, I realized she was about to go through an entrance close to the gallery. Remembering the rules about pregnant women, I stopped her.
I politely asked her what was she there for. She seemed annoyed and answered that Professor Melvin asked her to meet with him for an acting job. She was going to be in his experimental films. He asked her to wait for him inside the gallery.
There was no doubt in my mind, Melvin was deliberately challenging the rules. I asked the woman to wait and called the other student assistant to ask if Melvin was in. She said Melvin never showed up to his morning class and could not be reached.
Before I hung up, the student assistant told me that the man who strangled himself died but the cleaning lady survived. The cleaning lady told the police at the hospital that she didn’t steal the necklace. Melvin paid her 50 dollars to wear the turquoise necklace for a day as part of his experimental film.
I turned to the pregnant woman she was not allowed to go into the building, and to go shop at the bookstore in a different building instead. I will tell Melvin to meet her there. She seemed angry, and in hindsight, I probably used the wrong words and should have tried a bit harder to convince her. But, I was about to storm the office and didn’t have time to tell her about the haunted/cursed objects and the exhibition’s rules.
I saw that my supervisor was also at the dean’s office. Before I could yell at both of them, the dean sheepishly turned her computer monitor for me to see. It showed Melvin installing something behind the TV and also plugging the TV in. The dean said that it was something that would allow Melvin to turn the TV on or off remotely.
I was livid! Did Melvin plan this? I reminded everyone about the rules, then angrily told the dean about the pregnant woman I had just met and how Melvin was trying to break another rule by using her. Both the dean and my supervisor were speechless. I wanted to find Melvin right now, seriously considering slapping him.
But nobody knew where Melvin was. People had been trying to contact him since last night. Then, Melvin’s wife called the dean.Professor Melvin was found dead on the stairs last night. He fell and broke his neck. She said his body was contorted in an unnatural way, with his legs twisted and wrapped around the stairs’ railings. He died with his eyes wide open, filled with fear, glaring intensely at the front door.
The dean and my supervisor were both stunned. They turned to me, trying to see if I was going to join them in being shocked. No, I was still angry, and partly at them, for allowing this to happen. The dean then avoided any more eye contact with me. I think that by that point she was a believer.
Suddenly the pregnant woman from earlier appeared behind me. She had her hands on her hip and her face was full of defiance. She quickly turned to sneer at me before approaching the dean. She said that I dared told her that she was not allowed to enter the building, confident that this would get me in trouble.
She went on a rant about how she paid taxes and that she had the right to be in any place that was public’. She then asked where is Professor Melvin and that she was ready for the job he promised.
The dean, my supervisor, and I just looked at her, stunned. Her confidence started to slowly fade from the woman’s face as she was wondering what was going on. Suddenly, a little beeping sound broke the silence. It was coming from the gallery. The little lights on the front of the miniature fire station started to blink.
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2023.05.29 16:56 girl_from_the_crypt Stuck on earth and looking for a job: There's something in the caves
I spent the remainder of the evening after the "hike" sorting out my thoughts. Trying to, at any rate. Writing it all down helped, but I was still exhausted and confused.
I woke up in Frankie Preston's bed the following morning. I instantly knew it wasn't mine due to the lack of Dorito crumbs in the sheets. Even so, it took me a while to come to. Once I'd rubbed my eyes and untangled myself from the blanket, I found the man himself sitting upright beside me, fully dressed with his shoes on, presently reading a book. "Morning, Sunshine," he muttered, not looking up. "There's water on the nightstand for you. A muffin, too. I wasn't sure what to get."
I let out an incoherent murmur to which he huffed a laugh and rested his hand on the side of my face. "You were still as a rock, you know."
"I'm sorry for messing up last night," I said, my voice cracked and dry from sleep. "I shouldn't have gone looking for trouble. I should've stayed low and just watched those two."
"What's with that tone? I'm not about to lecture you. I get wanting to take revenge. You did fine as far as I'm concerned. And I think Markov is okay with everything, too. After all, any proceedings against the Collective are highly legitimate now or whatever. Plus, she got that lady cultist in custody now, and she's looking forward to the interrogation. She called and explained it to me on the phone earlier, but I wasn't paying attention." He shrugged to himself and I reached up to tug aside his book's cover. "It's Wuthering Heights
," he told me, gently removing my hand. I tried to grab it again, but he pulled it out of my reach. "Oh!" He sounded amused as he finally set the book aside to hug me. "You could have just said something."
"Don't you have to work today?"
"I called in sick. Of course, my six moms know I don't actually get sick so they'll suspect something's up. They're probably gonna be all over me."
"You never get sick?" I inquired.
"No. It's one of the nicer aspects of inhuman nature."
"I'm still not getting any answers on that?"
"Don't worry, you will. Sooner or later."
We went out and took a walk in the park, which was equally weird and nice. It seemed such a normal thing to do. It was a bright, nearly windless day, and the sun shining down on us provided a gentle warmth. The previous days' rain had left the trees heavily laden with drops of water. Occasionally, some would dislodge from the leaves and branches they occupied and plop down on our heads.
I asked Frankie whether he would be alright with checking in on Nettie Peterson together. He chuckled, joking that she would probably just love
to see him, but ultimately agreed. Once my best friend was due to be off work, we went around to her house.
Strangely enough, the most drastic changes in other people seem to happen without me really being there to witness them. Kit Sutton had somehow turned into a somewhat responsible roommate without me even noticing. Before I knew it, we had become friends. When my savior human opened the door for us, I felt distinctly reminded of that other development. Nettie, not unlike a butterfly emerging from whatever they call that odd little sleeping bag caterpillars make for themselves, had apparently come out of her dark state of mind all by herself. Her eyes lit up when she saw me and she wheedled us inside with much the same enthusiasm I was used to. She had us sit down in the garden while she tended to her flowers.
I watched her closely. Her skin had regained much of its healthy glow, her hair was washed and shiny, the clothes she wore clean—a flowing blouse, mom jeans and sneakers. She had clearly picked them out with care, like she normally did. It was good to see her restored to her old self, but I couldn't help but feel like something was wrong.
"Are you sure you're okay?" I asked.
"I have to be, don't I?" she replied, her cheerful tone coming out more forced than she'd likely intended. She was cutting away crushed and wilted leaves from one of her small bushes, shaping it in the process. "It's over. Life goes on."
"Does it?" I tilted my head at her.
"Can we talk about anything else? Literally anything?" The snapping movements of her garden shears came faster; more forceful. Frankie Preston and I exchanged uncomfortable looks. Figuring it would make for an interesting topic, I proceeded to tell Nettie about our exploits the night before. Halfway through my story, she had ceased her plant styling activities, blankly staring at me from where she sat on the ground. By the time I was done, she had taken off her rubber gloves and was slowly massaging her temples.
"One of these days, Eva. One of these days, you're gonna give me a heart attack. I don't even want to ask about what you get up to anymore, I think. I'm afraid of the answer." She threw Fran a grateful glance. "Thank you for getting her out of there safely."
The waiter smiled placidly. "Sure." Turning to me, he added in a whisper, "So we're not going to mention that you saved me from the FunFlair guys twice before this?"
I grinned mildly and shook my head before assuming a more serious tone. "Nettie, it's great that you're all better, but you were really down before. If this is just an act, I'd prefer you didn't put it on."
"It's not an act," she said sternly, raising her hands to her hips. "I've resigned myself. That's all. There's nothing to be done, I've accepted it and I've moved on."
"That can't be healthy," Frankie remarked. "You know what would help? Punishing the world in some way. You could take it out on your kindergarteners. Tell them a scary story so their parents have to stay up all night with them. Incite a dirt throwing fight and send them home all muddy. Set up a boxing ring and have them go at each other like in a dog fight. Wouldn't that be far more rewarding than sucking it up?"
Nettie Peterson looked unimpressed. Her dark eyes roamed the young man like she was trying to gauge whether or not he was serious. "You're some kind of sociopath, aren't you?"
That she shouldn't have said. Frankie's serene expression morphed into his customer service smile. I don't know when I started deciphering this being's voice and countenance, but there I was, picking up on the spiteful undertone in what he said next.
"I'm just saying, if the woman I
fancied disappeared in such a way, I'd find outlets for my grief." His eyes darted over to Nettie as if to ensure she'd heard him correctly before settling on me, observing my reaction. All I could do however was stare at my best friend.
Her glossy lips had parted. She met my gaze, her thick, expressive brows rising a good deal. "I…" she began, faltering and starting to fumble for words. "That's to say, Kit was… we, um…"
"Oh, Eva didn't know?" Frankie asked, perfectly flat and monotonous. "I had no idea it was a secret. I'm sorry, it wasn't my place to say. I wouldn't have mentioned it, really."
Something about that sent a chill down my spine. I shot him a glare, to which he drew himself up and turned away. Meanwhile, Nettie finally broke from her stupor and blurted out, "We were together, okay?"
For a moment, I sat quietly. “Frank, please go home,” I said at length, not quite looking at him. “We’ll talk later. We will.
He looked like he wanted to say something, but quickly thought better of it, rising to his feet and storming off. Ignoring the queasy feeling in my stomach, I walked over to Nettie and plopped down on the ground beside her. “So that’s what this was about,” I began.
My savior human nodded meekly. “We… we didn’t want to tell you. Not for the time being, at least. We hadn’t defined the relationship yet, i-it was all so new and weird, I felt weird
, but it was good, you know? I just wasn’t ready to think about it that way yet. And you’ve only ever seen me date guys, I didn’t know what you’d think…”
“I wouldn’t have thought anything,” I replied. “How long has this been going on?”
“Not long. She called me up before she came back to you a couple weeks ago. That’s kind of when we started seeing each other in… in that
I hesitantly extended a hand to caress her upper arm, locking eyes with her. There was a profound sadness in her expression, a watery gleam. She took a deep breath. “Before that, we used to text back and forth occasionally. I always felt kind of weird about her. Somehow, she got under my skin everytime she was goofing off, what with her little jokes and all. We kept talking, though. I was always so irritated when she was around, and that’s so unlike me, I just ended up wondering… And then when she showed up here, it all kind of came together. W-we did. She stuck around and we spoke and everything simply made sense
all of a sudden. I didn't know she liked me, too.” She swallowed audibly, her voice brittle and husky as she went on. “Kit isn't like anyone else I’ve ever had feelings for.”
“Not like anyone else, as in… a woman?” I prompted, raising a brow.
Nettie grunted. “Oh, shush! Don't make me feel guilty for being hesitant at first. I know it’s not a big deal to you
, but try going through life believing you’re straight and suddenly running into some cute ditzy punk girl and realizing you’re not
. It’s all sorts of confusing, believe me. I was scared it was gonna be weird because it was my first time with a woman but Kit somehow made it easy. It was a bit of a whirlwind, sure, but it felt natural and… just good
“Did you tell Eli?”
“No. But I think he suspected. That man knows me like the back of his hand. We’re basically siblings, remember? He was always tactful, never really pressured me into admitting anything, but he made a couple puns here and there, so… I do believe he knew.” She fumbled with her limp gloves, fixing me with a wavering smile. “So?”
“What do you say?”
“Is there something you want me to say?” I shrugged. “I’m only glad I understand now. I wish you’d told me sooner, but that’s your business. Also, I didn’t tell you that I’ve been running around with our waiter, so I guess we’re essentially even. By the way, I’m sorry he put you on the spot like that. You didn’t deserve that. How did he know about you two anyways?”
Nettie pursed her lips. “He might have seen us around the diner or something. I’m not sure. I’m, uh, not gonna comment on whatever you two got going on. You know what you’re doing. Hopefully.”
“Ah, thanks. Then I won’t be giving my opinion on whether or not I consider that deadbeat dork Kit to be worthy of you.”
My savior human snorted. “Much appreciated. Though I guess it’s not really an issue anymore either way.”
I shook my head. “Don’t think like that. We can’t let her go. I certainly won’t, not after this.”
“What do you mean?”
I rose to my feet. “I’m going to drag her blue ass back out of the ocean and have her make an honorable woman of you.”
I don’t believe she thought I was serious. The realization had set in by the time I’d dragged her down to the beach with me, though. We had taken Wammawink for the drive. Wammawink is the name of Nettie’s pastel pink motor scooter. It has a sidecar, which she straps me into with great care whenever we ride. It took her about twenty minutes to get us down to the shore. The more I talked about possibly retrieving my roommate, the brighter and realer the shine in her eyes became. Hope was not yet dead, that much was for certain. I led her down the cliffside and past the rocky expanse to where the concert had been held. It seemed ages ago. Some wistful part of me thought I could hear the faint sound of Kits singing above the gentle murmur of the waves.
The beach was golden in the afternoon sunlight. The sleepy tide sent water steadily dribbling into the sand beneath our feet, the drier patches giving way ever so slightly as we walked along. The faint outline of a plan had taken shape in my mind. We headed for the grotto.
"It makes sense now," I thought aloud. "The creature we fought at the concert was targeting you. The deep ones must have known that you two had a bond."
"I guess so," she replied uncertainly, eyeing the maw that opened up in the natural stone wall before us. "Going spelunking will help us how, exactly…?"
"I figure it tried to take you in there for a reason. This place has to be special. If you want, you can always wait here, but I'd prefer to have you with me. I only want to look around a bit. Maybe there's a clue of sorts on how we can contact Kit."
She sighed. "Now I know why you wanted me to bring my flashlight." She produced the object in question and handed it over before linking arms with me. "Of course I'll stick with you."
The inside of the cave was far too quiet for comfort. The eerie silence was only broken by the occasional plinking of water dripping from the walls and ceiling. We made an effort to step around the puddles glittering on the bumpy ground as we proceeded into the dimness. The sunlight threading through the grotto's mouth didn't reach very far, so we were glad for the bright beam of our torch. I let it travel the hollowed rock, the light crinkling oddly as it reflected off the pools of water that seemed to grow larger the further we got. Nettie Peterson was hanging onto my arm, her grip growing a little tighter with every passing minute. Her face was a set mask of grim determination, belied by the nervous twitch of her eyelid and the occasional quiver of her lower lip.
My own discomfort was undeniable as well. My heart was thundering in my chest and clammy beads of perspiration were running down my face. Every step we took caused a dull thud, the echo of which bounced off the rough stone walls to be funneled by the length of the cave. There were several smaller passages leading off into all directions, but Nettie and I agreed on always picking the largest entrance. This way, the path we took was far easier to memorize and there was little possibility of getting lost. After the third or fourth time we ducked through one of the doorframe-like archs, we were met with an imposing sight. A large room with high ceilings opened up before us. There was natural light seeping through several small cracks overhead. Stringy, pale plant life hung down or clung to the walls. A round lake filled up its entire bottom half.
Both Nettie and I stopped in our tracks. There was no solid ground to walk on anymore. On top of that, the beauty of this subterranean body of water had literally stunned us. Ripples were rolling off the center of its surface, casting a faint shimmer onto the ceiling. The stone-filtered light from outside set the lake aglow, bright speckled dancing across it like sprightly wisps. All I could do was taken in a soft, reverent breath while the very thoughts running through my head escaped Nettie's trembling lips.
"Have you ever seen something so beautiful?"
I would have told her yes, but I truly could not remember when. Unfortunately, the lake also appeared to form something of a dead end. I considered turning and checking out another passage, only for my savior human to point out a ledge running along the side of the room. It was narrow, but no doubt wide enough for the two of us to walk it single-file. We clambered up the shelf-like protrusion and, hand in hand, began to move along. It was bumpy and wet, and I almost regretted continuing this way. I couldn't seem to properly place my feet, my soles slipping a few inches with every step. Glancing over my shoulder, I could tell from Nettie's grim expression that she was experiencing similar difficulties. My pulse was racing, my lower lip caught between my teeth as I attempted to focus on safely making it across.
The cold sweat that leaves my palms was actively working against me at this point, and before I could react, the flashlight had slipped through my shaking fingers. It bounced off a bump in the shelf, then rolled off the edge entirely to disappear in the dark water with a thick, loud plop
. I cursed, turning to Nettie with an apologetic expression.
"It's fine," she assured me, squeezing my hand. "It's bright enough here as it is and we'll still have our phones for light later."
I smiled gratefully, about to take my next step when a deep, guttural gurgle came rumbling up from the depths of the lake. The sound hovered in the damp, salty air for a moment or two. My best friend and I froze in place, her grip on my hand turning into an iron vice. For a split second, I believe even my own heartbeat stilled.
"What was that?" Nettie Peterson whispered, her voice barely audible over the sudden charged hum of the water below. Her question would not remain unanswered for long. The droning noise of vast water masses shifting began to fill the air as from deep, deep beneath, something made its way up. My savior human and I helplessly pressed our backs up against the wall, trying to keep steady against the force of the vibration shuddering through the rock. The ledge we were standing on was quaking as though the cave itself had come alive and was trying to throw us into this growling, cold abyss.
Within seconds, the thing
broke the surface, causing enormous splashes and sending countless drops of water raining down on us. I blinked them out of my eyes just in time to see it unfurl
It was not a living being in its entirety, merely part of one. That however only made the sight before us all the more terrifying. Simply put, it was a human arm. Just not of any human I had ever encountered. It was enormous; every webbed finger of the hand it ended in was about my size. There were six of them, each bending in far too many places—I thought I could count as many as eight joints on the longest one. Its nails were more like claws, long and sharp with what looked like barnacles growing underneath them. The thin, nearly translucent skin between its fingers was stony gray, just like the rest of it. The hand slowly began to grope around, searching the walls of the cave. I knew right then and there that I couldn't possibly fight it. If it came to it, I'd try to hold it off with everything I had, but something this huge couldn't possibly be defeated. We had to flee, as long as we still could.
"Oh God," Nettie breathed. "Oh God, oh God, oh God…" Her hand was trembling in mine.
"Quick," I hissed. "Turn around, we gotta get out of here!"
She nodded helplessly, her eyes blown wide in terror. When she began her retreat from the ledge, she nearly took up running. I pulled her close just in time to prevent her from slipping. "Watch out!" I uttered, unable to suppress the fear in my tone. "Don't slip, we're dead if we fall in."
My savior human let out a whine, then took a deep breath and bit her lip. Slowly but steadily, she placed each foot in front of the other, leading us off the ledge. My ears were ringing. I couldn't tear my gaze away from the gigantic arm as it blindly felt along the walls, its nails coaxing a grating sound as they scratched upon the rocks. It was getting closer and closer, the side of its thumb nearly brushing the top of my head for a split second before I could withdraw. I had to press my eyes shut for a moment as my chest tightened painfully. Finally, we had reached the end of the shelf and wasted no time in jumping off.
We didn't even bother with any cell phone flashlights. As soon as we were on solid ground again, we darted through the entrance of the room, back through all of our carefully chosen passages before finally staggering out the mouth of the cave into the sunlight. We were panting like dogs; Nettie was forced to crouch down and sit still for a while to catch her breath. Meanwhile, I was seeing stars. Colorful dots and sparks of lightning seemed to dance before my inner eye as I blinked furiously into the afternoon sun.
"What the fuck was that?" my best friend, having regained her ability to speak, rasped out.
I turned to face her, my knees wobbling like jello. "I have no idea."
"You think it… you think that fish person from the concert was trying to take me there? Dump me into that lake?" She lowered her voice. "It would have fed me to that giant thing, wouldn't it."
I held her gaze, my mind racing. "I don't know. Maybe the giant's different."
"What do you mean?"
"I think we might have just seen Kit's father." X 1 2: deadbeat roommate 3: creepy crush 4: relocation 5: beach concert 6: First date 7: Temp work 8: roommate talk 9: a dismal worldview 10: warehouse 11: staircase 12: explanation 13: hurt 14: hospital 15: ocean 16: diner 17: government work
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2023.05.29 16:55 SecretlyHiddenSelf First and last round of the day (M.R.Solos)
It was so ridiculously bad. Not for my part… I still managed 11 kills, but my god is this game broken. No loadout drop, sound artifacts (I kept hearing the squishing noise like when you run through mud), and the hit detection… holy SHIT.
Chased a player and put damned near every round of my 45 round mag in their spine and cracked armor, then a second mag and they would not go down! I stuck them with a friggin Semtex, and it STILL didn’t down them. They literally turned around and looked at me as I opened up with a ground loot Lachlan Sub (3 attach) from about 15 feet. Then the just fucking blasted me with a dusting from a base Kastov.
Hopefully they fix this utter dogshit tomorrow. I’m off to the pool the rest of the day.
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2023.05.29 16:55 cruisingNW Foundations of Humanity 26 (First Impressions) - an NoP fanfic
Foundations of Humanity 26 (First Impressions) - an NoP fanfic
Thank you u/SpacePaladin15
for establishing the Nature of Predators Universe, and for allowing Fanfics to flourish!
Thank you again, u/Braquen
for proofreading! This is my side of the Nature of a Giant crossover
Huu boi this got to 34k characters, so had to split the chapter. Hooray making a backlog! First
- [Next] Memory transcription subject: Valek, Venlil tourist Date [standardized human time]: Sept 11th, 2136. Middle of 3rd Claw
I thought of happy memories of the last time my class and I had visited, “I couldn’t figure it out last time, but I was just a pup with a bunch of other pups back then. I know it has something to do with reattaching lines in the right configuration, but every time I got close--”
A black mass. A yawning, toothy pit! Hungry barks! “Teeth! TEETH! PREDATOR!”
I could see the beast’s gaping maw crawling forward to swallow me whole! I couldn’t let it get me! It would eat me! I couldn’t stop my momentum; I just kept getting closer to the inky void and gnashing teeth! I collided with the predator and thrashed and flailed against its wild mane, before my back legs found purchase and I launched myself back from whence I came.
Maeve’s voice shouted from behind just before her arm wrapped around me and halted my retreat, “What the hell, Valek? There’s no Predators he-EOLY SHIT
Finding sanctuary against my mate, I found my voice once more. “Big! Teeth! Call the Exterminators! Help! Teeth!” I thrashed in Maeve’s arm, trying to scratch at my prowling assailant.
A voice echoed from near the threat as another form appeared. “What happened?” A human? Another threat? He’s near the predator! He was looking at us! “Y’all okay?” His head turned toward the beast. “You okay?”
“I’m fine! Mostly surprised!” It imitated a Venlil with its movements, but I knew better! “It’s okay! I’m not here to hurt you!” It was toying with us! Trying to get us off-guard!
“Don’t eat us!” Protect your mate!
“She’s dealt with Predators already! You’ll be sorry!”
I suddenly felt Maeve shake me. “That’s enough, Valek; get a hold of yourself.”
Get a hold of myself? Doesn’t she realize the threat? The-
“You forgot to say I should be set on fire, or that I’m a freak of nature.” I heard the beast say, now grabbing the edges of the hallway. “In case you need suggestions for insults.”
My voice faltered as I tried to understand it. The words were there, but my mind just couldn’t accept them. Maeve fell silent above me, but continued to hold me fast.
The other human brought itself beside the giant, “Oh my! ‘Nother human! Howdy there!” He raised his hand to his head, touching two fingers to his forehead, then flicking them in our direction. A gesture of greeting.
My ears snapped to the human as I tried to reconcile the friendly gesture amid my panic. Maeve, however, was undeterred and floated past me, coming closer to the monster. Alvi held my shoulder, and supported us against a nearby rope.
“Wow! You… You’re huge!” She had that same wonder in her voice that she always had when she found something new.
In response, I heard the familiar whistle of a Venlil laugh. It was coming from the… it’s a Venlil? “Yes. It’s a condition.”
Maeve continued her approach. She didn’t look the least bit afraid. Even though her arm remained in a cast; a cast given to her by the last predator she tangled with. But continue, she did. “I didn’t know Venlil could display gigantism! That’s incredible!”
I blinked. Gigantism
? The translator was unhelpfully vague, something about making things big. The giant seemed similarly confused, “I’m sorry, my translator didn’t quite get that. Display what?”
Maeve reached back to us and I took her hand, and Alvi’s in my other, before she pulled us with her along the corridor. “Gigantism. It’s when a tumor grows on the pituitary gland controlling growth hormones, which causes it to overproduce. It can cause people to grow extremely tall.”
The creature’s confusion seemed to grow, though its body wobbled along with its tail; excitement? “Humans have Marklen-Jauntes syndrome??” Maeve asked for clarification before it continued, “Marklen-Jauntes Syndrome, named after twin giants. Its symptoms are basically exactly what you described!”
Maeve clapped her hands together with a quiet snap, “Oh! It sure sounds like it!”
The giant pushed off from the doorway, and Maeve pulled us into the boxy junction. Their conversation faded in my ears as the realization hit me. It was a syndrome. A medical condition. Maeve had moved to float around the giant as she and the other pair began talking in earnest. I felt Alvi squeeze my paw. “Valek. You okay there?”
My ears fell in worry, “I… I don’t know. I mean look at it! How can Maeve not be terrified of that?”
Alvi ran her paw through the fur on my shoulder, “I think she may have seen worse by now.”
The memory of those shadestalkers on the ground, and Maeve’s shriek of furious pain on the wind sent a chill down my spine. “But shouldn’t that make her more cautious? Make sure that doesn’t happen again?”
Alvi tapped the tuft of her tail against me, a lilt of humor on her voice, “If Maeve were cautious, do you think she would have joined the program? Or came to the Berrypatch?”
I pulled Alvi tighter against me; she was absolutely right. My attention drifted back to their conversation; they were talking about the medical issues of giants. I fully focused on what they were saying as Maeve was finishing her thought,
“... Hopefully, with the Venlil's help, that will change!"
The giant’s ears fell in...shame? It has shame? “You would have to keep it secret. If it was known it was to help giants, the Venlil might refuse.” Hold on, we would gladly help!
“W-we wouldn’t!” The giant’s eyes and ears focused on me, while Maeve and the other human turned to face me. "Our people wouldn't keep secrets like that just because they're big! We may not be the ones in the clinic, but we would gladly offer medicine and equipment.”
The giant let out a deep huff, as if I told a bad joke! “Sir… I’m guessing you haven’t heard of me. Is that correct?”
“N-no?” My tail curled around Alvi and I at my admission. “Should I…?”
The giant’s massive tail swayed behind them, “I guess introductions are in order. My name is Tarlim.”
“The Venbig!” The human announced with a flourish while he slowly floated past ‘Tarlim’s’ front, while the latter whistled in amusement.
“Yes. The ‘Venbig.’ And the Texan there is Jacob.” I saw his tail wag at the name. A sign of fondness for a friend. “May I know who all of you are?”
“I am Maeve, a pleasure to meet you,” She nodded, as she shifted her grip on the rope to reveal Alvi and I behind her. “This is Valek, my exchange partner,” I reflexively flicked my ears in acknowledgment, “And this is Alvi, a close friend of ours.”
Alvi hadn’t moved much beyond floating. She had one eye turned to stare fully at the giant, but otherwise seemed to have locked up, as she had before.
The giant, Tarlim, returned our greeting with a polite bow as he steadied himself on some overhead netting. “Good to meet you. Now, the reason I asked is this: I was imprisoned in a correctional facility before I was able to escape.” Escape
?! I exclaimed, in thought and in voice, “Y-You escaped??”
The giant tried to deceive us, but it couldn’t keep its condition a secret! I put myself between it and Alvi, “Get away from him! He’s dangerous!”
Maeve tried to be kind, “Valek if he’s here I would hardly think-”
But she didn’t know what that meant! We made a promise that we would teach each other about our people, even the bad parts. I had to warn her about it! “Correctional Facilities are where we put dangerous Venlil! People with Predator Disease who have shown themselves to be a threat to the Herd! We try to teach them how to live with the Herd, but if he escaped? He's gotta be dangerous if he had to break out!” I kept the threatening beast in my sight as I put myself between them and my herd.
The beast crouched threateningly, Fixing me with a predatory stare as its ears locked onto me, “Dangerous? Do you know what they put me through in there? The people running those places are monsters!”
“They help people!” I protested, amazed that someone could see their own care as harmful. “They treat people so they are safe around the herd!”
“Oh, HA!” The beast’s face cracked in an angry snarl, “You must feel so safe when we’re strapped into chairs and electrified! Or jammed into rooms where the only safe floor is too small for everyone! It must be soooo perfect to hear about that!”
“Th… That…” They WHAT?! No!
“No! Even if that were true, it would be to teach you to stick together! They… They wouldn’t do something like that if it didn’t work!” …right
A tiny voice spoke behind me, but the beast bore down on my senses, “Stick together! Suuuure!” It’s tail lashed behind it. It was going to pounce! “That’s why they tried to kill me for making sure more people could fit in the Circle! And obviously the electric chair was for proper fear response! That's why they commissioned a chair with enough voltage to fry me from the inside out
“Electric chair? You were in an electric chair?” That same tiny voice. Alvi’s words pulled me from my maelstrom and I reached for salvation. I needed Maeve.
“Yes!” The Giant had turned his attention to Alvi as I flew towards my human. “I have been put in that-”
“I saw you on the TV!”
I was wrapping myself around Maeve when Alvi said that. She… saw him? He was on TV? All of us had fallen silent to watch her, including the giant.
“Which part?” It asked with a heavy breath. “The final judgment? The election debates?” I heard a whimper coming from its throat. “When… when my father…?” Father? It had a father? Wait, why is that a surprise? They were born, so they must have had one.
Alvi spoke with what kindness she could, “I don’t remember much. I was still just a pup when the trial started, but I remember seeing your photo on the TV. My parents didn’t let me watch it after that. I started to research it after I moved out, that’s when I saw the Chair.”
I heard the giant growl. “That Brahking photo! They were so proud to hold me up even though I couldn’t!” Their attention swung back to me. “I don’t suppose, mister Valek
, that was also justified?”
I stood tall at the challenge. This… They would not get past me. “I…! I don’t know about any photo! My Family doesn't have a TV, just a radio.”
They flicked their ears dismissively, before bringing them back to Alvi. Was it… kinder? When it was addressing her? “So you saw the chair.” They sighed. “It was only shown after the trial was done. Then you had to have seen what that management did. Instead of letting the place be investigated, they drove all the inmates outside so they could cause chaos! And slipped away while everyone was trying to figure out what happened!” It whistled a derisive laugh, “What about the crimes revealed? Producing and testing drugs to sell on the streets? How the sessions were altered for higher voltage? Oh! And do I even need to mention what happened to the women there?”
Its eye never left me, and I shrunk beneath it while Alvi spoke behind me, “No. No you don’t. What happened there was terrible, there’s no grooming that!”
“Worthy of the Arxur!” It huffed again. “What a title for that place. And you know what the worst part is?” It pointed directly at me with its primary claw; the insult clear in its seething voice. Singling me out as outside of the Herd. “I was in there because of that! Not some test, not Predator Disease, just stupid people Scared. O-Of. My. Size!!”
The rage in its throat was broken by its sobs, as its eyes bubbled with gathered tears, unable to fall for lack of gravity. This thing was crying? It had family, and it cried from remembered pain
Maeve pushed off of her line, and drifted to the giant, her hand curling around their pointed claw and putting its paw back to their chest. Her words were quiet, a sharp contrast to the giant’s anguish. “I think that’s enough of that. I’m sorry that we had a rough start. We were in the wrong, and it wasn’t, and isn’t, ok for us to react like we did.” We weren’t wrong! Look at it! How can we be wrong to be careful around something that could eat us without a thought? I bet your dad thought the same thing.
The thought stopped my heart and flared my wool. When I saw it - No. Saw Him. - when I saw him I scratched and kicked, and I came out unscathed. He hadn’t so much as taken a single step toward us. Only talking. What happened? Why was I so afraid…
Maeve’s voice continued as my thoughts swirled, “We… are sorry for what happened, and want to make it right. I don’t want to intrude any more on your day with your partner, but can we treat you to something here? Valek tells me they have really good fried veg? I’ve never had Venlil Tempura before.” Why is this familiar? What about this fear… The Meetup.
It-He… Tarlim? Heaved and hacked against waning sobs, barely croaking, “Y-You…you can’t make it right,” the words were only a whisper; barely captured at this distance. “This, all this, just made you more afraid of me. E-Every moment would be forced and shamed. Not genuine.” This is the same fear I felt when I met Maeve. The same fear that was wrong
. Fundamentally and completely. This fear…
Maeve answered without pause, “I think we could surprise you. But I won’t press it. Before I let you go, I’d like to end on a good…noooote…” Maeve checked her empty pockets, as her voice grew a more boisterous timbre, “ah man, I left my pad in the locker. Anyway, you’re way fluffier than the average Venlil, aren’t you? Well, humans have recorded something else called Hypertrichosis; Jacob may know it as Werewolf Syndrome. It manifests in humans as rapid and thick hair growth over their entire body! Jacob can show you when you get back to your pads. ”
Tarlim’s tail thrashed in distrust, but it-NO! HIS! ears fluttered, giving away their conflict. Maeve turned away and pulled herself back down the corridor we came from, scooping up Alvi and I as she passed. But I pulled away from her hand, meeting the eye of the giant. Nothing about this fear is real. Who I am and what I do is MY CHOICE
, and I had the gall to forget that.
“I reacted to you the same way I reacted to seeing Maeve for the first time - well, her hair, anyway. I’ve tried to be better, but I mess up sometimes. I’m… I’m sorry I messed up with you.”
I pushed off down the hall, and met my herd before we continued on.
“Wait!” We found our anchors, and turned to meet the bellowed plea. Tarlim dried his tears on his wool, before looking back at us. “There's a food court near the arcade.” Barely a pause as Tarlim took another breath; the same one I take when I make a Choice. “If we see each other there maybe… maybe we can start over…”
My mouth cracked in a human smile, and my tail swayed at the invitation. “I think I’d like that.”
Tarlim returned our kindness as we floated back down the corridor.
I wanted to just get back to having fun. I had come here with Maeve and Alvi to get away from reactions like that! Not… Not Be
the reaction! This was- this was a vacation! Please just…
In. and Out. The Paw is not gone. We can make this work.
“Hey, Valek?” It was Maeve. My love, and my Choice. Her mask met my eye as I spun to meet her. “Are you OK?”
“I will be. I’m sorry for how I reacted.” I feigned a joyful flick and invited them to follow, “Come on! We can take another path and find something fun that way.” I floated ahead of my herd and led the way.
I checked behind me at the next turn and they were following a distance behind. Alvi showed her concern with her tail, while Maeve was unreadable through her mask. It was ok, we can put this behind us once we find something else to occupy us. Well that was a disaster.
The Maze was more of a problem then I expected it to be. The maze itself was easy enough, but the ‘puzzle rooms’ turned out to be all of the rooms, but they were randomly activated. Sometimes we would fly into a room and it would shift color, pulling the supports into the wall and starting to list the game rules. The last room before we got out kept shifting the gravity, so by the time we made it to the exit we were exhausted in mind and body. Well, Alvi and I were. I don’t believe I had seen Maeve so energized.
“Wanna go again?!” Her voice was bubbling with sarcasm, and she couldn't contain her mischievous cackle when Alvi and I met her mask and signaled an emphatic No! In unison.
She pulled Alvi against her and asked her to hold on, quickly doing the same to me. She pushed off from the Maze exit to the open air in the center. She did the same kick as back in the maze and we started to spin, at which Maeve let go of the two of us to slow our inertia. We spun there together, holding paws and hands, before I spoke into the space between us.
“I’m sorry that I ruined the day. I thought we could go back to having fun, but I spoiled the mood.”
Maeve spoke first, “It’s alright Valek,”
Then Alvi, “It may not have been the best start, but he offered to try again.”
Maeve squeezed my paw and met my eye, “And I look forward to it. That's all we can really do: move forward.” She pulled us back into a tight hug, “Thank you, both of you, for a wonderful day.”
An angry gurgle bubbled up from our embrace, and Maeve continued, “But I could really do with a proper meal. Valek, you mentioned something about fried veg?”
I pulled away and looked around at the various signage, pointing at the exit we had entered from. “The food court connects with the Visor Arcade, so we can go out the way we came in.”
“Alright! Alvi, you hold on, and Valek? Don’t.”
Maeve kicked her legs again and set us spinning quickly, before flinging me in the direction of the exit, and she and Alvi the opposite way. I may or may not have squealed in terror during my hasty flight.
I was able to catch a support line as I passed. I looked out to see that Maeve had done the same, and was just pushing off to come my direction; Alvi was completely wrapped around her torso, like she was caught out in Galetime.
My tail thrashed behind me in admonishment when Maeve was in ear-sense. “You evil woman! You could have killed me!”
I could hear her - no, Alvi! - giggling as they floated over! She was having the time of her life! Maeve defended herself breathlessly, “Oh, come on, that was barely a brisk walk. I knew you’d correct yourself, that’s why I threw you instead of Alvi.”
I hit the pad and opened the bulkhead as they met me, Maeve barely correcting against a passing line to float cleanly through the threshold. Alvi disengaged once we were all inside. “Also because I’m her favorite.”
I flattened my ears in playful anger while she stuck her tongue out at me, and Maeve spoke up from the button. “Now, now, children, I love you both equally. One is just a little more biblical than the other.”
A little more religious? What?
“But I think it is time to come back to earth.” her hand hovered over the button while Alvi and I found our supports.
A button pressed, a growing hum, and our feet met the floor … Eventually. We had forgotten to remember that the floor was White, so we all collapsed on the semi-soft ground head-first. Thank the Sun for padding!
“Okay!” I heard Alvi comment, “Seems we’ve been re-educated on where the ground is.” She stood, shaking her wool. “Wish it hadn’t been a crash course.”
Maeve cackled from the floor as I stood, “HaHa! Multilingual pun! I love it!”
She was still giggling when we walked over to help her up. We were just dusting ourselves and flattening errant tufts when the exit hatch opened, and we stepped outside.
Alvi was last to step over the bulkhead, nearly tripping as her paw caught its lip. Having recovered, she asked, “Anything else you would like to do before lunch Maeve?”
Maeve took a quiet breath as we all waved an excited goodbye to Shishi, cold can of Sprunk in paw. “Speaking from experience, if we wanna do VR, and I kinda do, eating before may be unwise.”
Having reached our locker, I waited for Maeve to don her burka, “The Visor Arcade is on the way, and I’d love to show you this quick sightseeing game. It’s pretty basic, but it will show a few other Federation Homeworlds too!”
Maeve’s voice lit up, and I regretted that her eyes were hidden, as I knew they were shining! “I can see More worlds?! Yes, please! Let’s do that!” Maeve bounded forward almost to around the corner. “Uh… Where is it?”
I flicked my tail teasingly, “It is where we are going. You shouldn’t go running off, you know how strangers are.”
Maeve stood at the corner with her good hand on her hip, “Well then be a good boy and lead the way!”
I could feel my snout quickly blooming.
Oh, that’s not fair.
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2023.05.29 16:31 SleeplessFromSundown The Séance Club - The End of Windhaven Manor [Final]
This post is the final part of this story. Sorry it has taken so long to get through. And I'm not sure I even understand all of it yet. If you're new, this all started here
. The previous part (Part 7) is here
. Thank you to everyone who followed along.
“Do you see her?” I asked in a meek voice.
“You mean that girl in black?” Harvey answered.
It was her, in the flesh. Her lips parted and formed a malevolent smile. Her dark eyes fixed on mine. My legs turned to solid lead. My feet refused to move. The anxiousness to reach Parker and Juliet and Beth in the cellar crumbled like the wood turning to ash behind us. She demanded my attention.
A hand rocked my shoulder. Harvey. I pushed him away.
“You have to go. Help them. I’ll take care of her.”
“What about you?”
“I’ll be right behind you.”
A mirage of Harvey flitted past Ally and disappeared into the kitchen. Everything blurred, everything but her.
She tilted her head to one side and bridged the gap between us with four slow and deliberate steps. She pushed her right hand out from a long sleeve and ran the black painted nail of her index finger across my cheek, the smooth lacquer cold against my skin. I shuddered as the chill spread like ice creeping up a window.
“It is such a shame to be losing you so soon. We’ve only just met, and yet I feel like we’ve known each other our whole lives. Do you feel it too?”
I shook my head. “Let me go.”
“We’re past that now Sam. I considered if we could coexist, you and I. It gave me a thrill knowing there is another one out there like me. But you insist on meddling with my work.”
“You mean locking all those girls in that filthy dungeon where they met their end? And Jane here.”
“The work is sometimes unpleasant.”
“But the pay is good?”
“This isn’t about money Sam. You and I are the same. The pain you felt from not fitting in. The lonely nights lying awake, wishing you could be like everyone else. The stares and the whispers. The rejection from those who are supposed to love us the most. I too know. But where you hid, I searched out a path where my talents were appreciated and rewarded. You don’t hate me Sam. You hate yourself for not thriving like I have.”
“Thriving? Is that what you call it?”
“By all measures yes. I am good at what I do. The best. The only. Or so I thought. And then there is you. A naïve, sheltered little boy who can barely put on his own pants in the morning. It is such a shame. And these so-called friends of yours, that was always doomed to failure. Oh and if you harbour any thoughts of them escaping, know that we blocked the little secret entrance the stable boy showed you. There’s no escape except through the fire. When they pick through the ashes of this building they will find their bones, and yours. Is this how you imagined it turning out?”
I flexed the muscles in my legs, but they refused to move. Ally smiled.
“It’s useless now Sam.”
I heard the faint whisper of Juliet’s voice in my head. She pleaded with me. Come on Sam, you can do this. I remembered the last encounter with Ally, outside the wall separating Windhaven Manor from the world. Ally had put me in the white room. I had broken free. I had overcome her power once. I had to do it again.
I took a deep breath in through my nose and cried out and willed my feet to move. Electricity coursed through my body and I directed it down to the floor. My left heel separated from the floor and that set the whole thing in motion. The dam burst. I lurched forwards and overbalanced and sprawled to the floor.
Ally crouched beside me and chuckled. “Some would call it a tragedy for a child to die so soon after learning to walk.”
I looked back towards the front of the house. The fire burned hot. Thick black smoke circled up the huge open space of the gallery. Portraits hanging on the wall bubbled and curled as flames consumed them.
A figure appeared at the foot of the staircase. The spectre of Crown. The goons had dragged his lifeless corpse out of the house, but stood before me was the spirit with unfinished business. The ugliness of his actions showed through now in death. His skin was sallow and wrinkled. His head too big for his body and his teeth yellowed. A grotesque monster made worse by his mortal demise.
Ally whispered in my ear. “He knows it was your meddling that brought about his end. I’ll leave you two alone.”
She brushed my cheek with the back of her hand and stood. As she walked away leather straps materialised out of thin air and pinned my body to the floor.
The spectre of Crown grew before me, swelling in size until he had to crouch to stay below the chandelier. He clenched his fists and with burning red eyes let out a guttural growl that skipped my ears and penetrated directly into my skull.
I tried to pull my hands to my ears but they would not come. It made no difference. The roar coming from Crown stabbed the inside of my head like a thousand daggers. I lifted my head and the growl grew to a scream that ricocheted around the inside of my skull. I couldn’t take much more. It felt as though my head would explode.
Guilt bubbled up and mingled with the fear and I shrank into the floor and wished for it to swallow me. They were down there, the only friends I had known, banging against a locked door denying their escape. I sobbed. I sobbed like I had the night my parents turned from me.
In the pit of my stomach something else grew. A seed of frustration born of a lifetime existing in a world that didn’t make sense. A world where I had no idea who I was and what I could or should do. A world in which I hid. I couldn’t do that now.
Juliet’s voice as clear as day, cutting through the racket of Crown’s scream. Do it Sam. I gritted my teeth and electricity buzzed somewhere deep inside, at first dull and imperceptible, and then amplified and resonating until it peaked into a deafening roar.
Above Crown the bulbs in the chandelier glowed white. He swivelled his head and watched them dumbly.
I concentrated, felt the energy forming an extra limb. Like the arms and legs of a newborn it flailed spasmodically. I fought to control it, to turn it to my will. I focussed on the straps pinning me to the floor. The electricity fed into the straps and turned them hot. For a moment I feared they would scold my skin, and then in a moment of release they split and flung upwards.
I picked myself up off the floor and faced the spectre of Crown. Like a spent boxer throwing one final punch I threw out my hands and screamed, willing Crown to be quiet and be still. Demanding he be so.
The floor shook. The dozens of bulbs in the chandelier shattered. The giant spectre of Crown diminished and the screaming inside my head softened until it was no more. Crown’s eyes opened wide as his mouth stitched together and his arms wrenched behind his back. I flicked my hand like I was swatting a fly and Crown flew into the corner of the room and slumped to the floor.
I bent over and rested my hands on my knees. My muscles ached, like I had run a marathon. Shadows played on the floor. I sucked in air and smoke and spluttered and coughed.
In the hallway the silhouette of Ally. She turned and shook her head. The heat of the fire intensified and crackled at my skin. If we were to make our escape, she could not be here to block us. I straightened and strode towards her.
I cycled furiously through the events of the last few days, searching for something to defeat Ally. I had to do to her what she had done to me. The time for running and breaking her spells was through.
I closed my eyes and concentrated. I stripped away everything except for the two of us. The crackle of the fire replaced with silence. The smell of the smoke disappeared. The heat washed away. One by one I shut down all my senses. When I opened my eyes a monotone room of white. Sterile calm had replaced the burning insides of Windhaven Manor.
Her eyes scanned the room and she giggled. “Cheap tricks won’t get you far,” she said. “And you learned this one from me.”
The white rippled as if the walls were made of water. She was fighting it. I concentrated, focussing all my energy, all my will. The ripples slowed and then stopped.
“You’re a fast learner,” she said. “But I have been doing this for more than a weekend.”
Strips of colour permeated the white. A rectangle of tile appeared on the floor. And then some blue from the curtain. Enough of a smouldering wall to let in some smoke. The acrid smell reached my nose and I spluttered. As each wedge of colour appeared, I filled it back in white. But it was a sinking ship and the pail I held to bail out the water would not be enough.
Ally grunted under her breath. A grunt of frustration. The white room shook and made a sound like a train bearing down.
I had to bind her. I raised my palm and coils of rope rose from the ground and oscillated like snakes around her. She swatted them away and wrenched them from the ground and flung them at my feet, limp and unmoving.
“It won’t be that easy,” she sneered.
My arms jerked behind my back. She bound my wrists and then my ankles. She pursed her lips and blew as if extinguishing a single candle on a birthday cake, and it was enough to send me to the floor. I couldn’t do this on my own. I needed help.
I shut my eyes and concentrated my energy not on my bindings, but on the woods at the back of Windhaven Manor. On the girls who escaped the dungeon and now roamed the forest, watching the house burn from behind the barrier Ally constructed.
I fed the energy coursing through my body into the giant snowdome structure until it burned hot and then like the globes in the chandelier, it cracked and exploded into the night sky. The spirits of the girls watched the shards disappear and then strode towards the Manor.
I turned my attention to the tiny room beside the pantry, where Jane Laughlin lay bound to the bed. I stood beside her and lay my hand on the shackles binding her to the bed. She shuddered as the mask came free from her mouth and then stood as the shackles broke.
I opened my eyes and the white of the room flickered off and then back on again like bad reception on a television. I had to keep the white walls up long enough for them to draw near. For them to be ready when the façade fell. Ally strode towards me, exuding confidence.
“You can’t beat me Sam.”
Ally squeezed her hands into fists and screamed. In a burst of energy she wiped the white room clear and we were back in the burning house. The air was thick with smoke. Behind me a timber beam tumbled from the ceiling and crashed to the floor. The heat and smoke sucked the moisture from my insides and I heaved out a series of coughs.
Ally opened her eyes and smiled. She had bested me. But then they came. The girls from the dungeon and Jane Laughlin surrounded her. The sum total off all the pain and hurt inflicted in this place. Everything Ally had worked to keep hidden from the world.
They lurched at Ally. She raised her hands and pushed them back one by one as they went for her. She spun on the spot, trying to keep them at bay. She could not hold them all back. The sheer weight of numbers overwhelmed. They leaned in and pushed their heads into hers and showed her what those men had done. Made her feel it. The fear and despair and anger of each individual stacked together and Ally crumpled to the floor holding her head.
“Make it stop,” she said.
They kept at her.
Jane Laughlin sidled over to the base of the stairs where Crown sat, bound and with his mouth stitched. She considered him, restrained and helpless on the floor as she had been. He fought with his restraints, and then whimpered, as she had. As I ran for the pantry and the wine cellar, the corridor filled with the muffled sound of his screams.
The door to the cellar stood open and I made the descent of the stairs in three leaps. The enclosed space already full with smoke. At the end of the long corridor leading outside, Parker and Harvey shouldered the door. Juliet and Beth screamed encouragement. The door would not budge.
“We can’t go that way,” I yelled.
They raced back up the long corridor. A sudden rush of emotion bubbled up to the surface. I was so happy to see them all still alive. My lower jaw rattled and my hands shook. I fought to hide it.
Beth reached me first. “Sam, you’re ok.”
I blubbered a response and took in a lung full of smoke. We had to get out.
The fire raged outside the kitchen door. A wave of flame climbed up and spread across the ceiling. A subtle cracking sound from above intensified and a chunk of the upstairs floor came crashing down through the ceiling, blocking the rear door. We couldn’t get out the back. The only way now was back through the house. A ball of flame whooshed through the doorway and I put my arm up too late, my eyebrows wilting in the heat.
We crouched together in the middle of the kitchen, lowering our heads to get the last of the remaining oxygen. Malicious red flames and choking black smoke surrounded us on all sides.
“Where do we go now?” Parker’s words came out between coughs. Tears streaked down his cheeks. Soot covered his brow. I wished I had an answer.
Then he was there, standing over Parker’s shoulder. Leon. With the protective bubble gone, he too was free to come in the Manor.
“The fire has not yet consumed the dining room. But you don’t have long.”
I looked vaguely in the direction of the kitchen door and blinked back the stinging from the smoke. “I don’t think we can find it in this.”
I pulled my shirt up over my head. “We have to go. The dining room, we can make it. All together on three.”
I shouted out the numbers, the sound drowned out by the roar of the fire. I grabbed Beth’s hand and yanked her into action. Leon led the way and I kept my eyes on his heels. Together we were a flurry of arms and legs bounding for the dining room. I gritted my teeth against the heat. We burst through the doorway and everything turned orange.
From below the sweater pulled tight down over my hair, I shot a glance over to the floor of the grand gallery where I had left Ally writhing on the floor. She was not there now. Nor were the spectres of the girls.
I followed Leon’s heels into the dining room. The great wooden table smouldered in the centre of the room. Brilliant orange flames consumed the thick curtains. Parker spotted his camera still atop the tripod and set to pulling the camera free before Harvey grabbed his arm and yelled something that sounded like ‘leave it’.
Harvey grabbed one of the heavy chairs with their high backs and velvet cushions and heaved it at the window in the back corner of the room. The chair disappeared into the darkness of the night and Harvey kicked at the glass shards left behind. Parker joined. We piled out the opening.
I drank in the fresh cool air of night, staggering over the narrow path beside the house and to the small strip of grass beyond. Parker collapsed beside me and pulled the laptop out from under his shirt. He tapped at the casing and for a moment a brief smile flashed across his face, but it did not last long. He wiped soot and sweat from his face with shaking hands.
Harvey checked us all in turn, like a parent fussing over their children. We had scrapes and bruises and our skin was red and raw, but we were alright. We had survived. He ran to the front of the house and came back with palms held out by his sides. The man in the black suit, the goons Ponytail and Beanie, and Ally were all gone, along with the black van and the BMW.
Huddled together, we watched the fire consume Windhaven Manor, bright reds and oranges lighting up the windows and thick black smoke tumbling into the purple haze of sky. It was almost morning, the horizon signalling the coming of the sun.
Leon stood apart on the grass. I went to him.
“Thank you for coming back for us.”
He shrugged. “It’s something. It isn’t enough to make up for the rest.”
“You saved our lives. And those girls, they had their chance to meet their tormentors. That’s something too.”
He nodded. “What happens now?”
I turned my head sideways. “I’m still learning how all this works.”
The red of the fire reflected in his eyes. “Me too. I might go for a walk in the woods. I always liked it out there.”
He glided across the lawn and entered the trees and was gone.
The sound of sirens fought with the crackle of the fire. The fire brigade and the police. I got to my feet and shuffled to the front of the Manor. The burnt out carcasses of our cars stood by the low height wall. Black soot smudged the stone façade above the windows and the doors.
By the oak tree on the ocean side of the house stood Jane Laughlin. She peered down into a hole dug at the base of the tree. A pale and withered hand poked up out of the dirt. Her hand. They had meant to remove the body, but had aborted the task and fled.
A fire truck appeared at the head of the driveway and then another. They sped down the gravel and came to a sliding stop. A lone police car followed. Harvey sidled over.
Jane looked to the horizon. Out on the cliff edge stood a figure in a red dress. She recognised her sister Kylie immediately and ran down the slope. The two sisters embraced in the first light of the sun. I turned to the whoosh of water through a hose from the fire trucks and when I turned back, the Laughlin sisters were gone.
The members of The Séance Club, which I now consider myself a part, sat together on the low-height stone wall as the firefighters extinguished the flames consuming Windhaven Manor. The house was quiet now. The nausea and vibration I had felt that first night replaced with calm.
The police stripped the compound clean for the best part of a week. They identified Kyle the sketch artist and Hugo from the teeth that survived the fire of the hovel built over the dungeon. Hugo’s wife lay on the back lawn where Beanie and Ponytail had left her. But as to specific evidence of the crimes that occurred, they could not find enough to put a case together.
The two fires and the disappearance of Crown made some headlines, but there wasn’t enough to hang anyone else. The police claimed publicly that there was no link between the fire at Windhaven Manor and the fire at the squalid residence over the back fence. At Harvey’s behest they searched the area with cadaver dogs for the remains of the girls, but they found nothing.
Parker turned his laptop over to the police. They identified the two goons, Ponytail and Beanie, low level thugs who had disappeared from the streets years earlier. Those in the know presumed them dead. It made tracing them almost impossible. Tracing their vehicles lead to a dead end.
The man in black the suit on the other hand might as well be a ghost. On him they found nothing. They have a face, but nothing else.
As for Ally, the girl somehow managed to always turn her face away from the cameras, as if she knew where they were.
I sat in a small room at the police station for three days with Harvey putting the pieces together. He showed me a photograph of an old and gaunt man with a bent back, the last owner of Windhaven Manor before it was sold after his death. He had to be the man with the bent back from the ceremony in the dungeon, but I could not be certain. I never saw his face. Of the faces I did see, we knew Crown and Kyle and Hugo, but the others were harder to pinpoint.
At the end of it all Harvey sighed. There was nothing more we could do. But we could rest on the knowledge that the key players in the ceremony were all now dead.
Questions nagged at me. Where was Ally and what was she doing? Would she try to find me? Who was she working for?
That was the biggest question of all. Who was at the top and pulling the strings? Harvey wasn’t giving up. He was a dog with a bone at the best of times, and now he had a taste of blood. He refused to go back to the police even after Crown’s departure, which he described as the removal of a cancerous limb.
Harvey called me after the dust settled on everything. I told him that the trail had gone cold and I had no idea where Ally was. For all I knew she had evaporated into thin air. Harvey thought it unlikely, and I agreed. He told me it was time for some old-fashioned detective work. The names of the goons would be a start.
And there was something else Harvey mentioned, something that I had almost forgotten. He had always believed that his investigation into the disappearance of the girls was the reason one of his colleagues was murdered. Crown confirmed as much in the bedroom right before he was shot. Harvey thinks there is something to it. Another thread to pull, and he has a hunch. For now he’s keeping his cards close to his chest until he has some proof. I almost pressed him on the issue but decided I’d rather put it all behind me.
The story made headlines in the local press for a while, but ultimately it fizzled into a non-story, quickly forgotten by a public with a short attention spans. We all waited for a reckoning from within the police ranks, but it never came. Harvey predicted that’s the way it would go, and he was proven right.
The one item they did recover was a gold necklace with a heart pendant. The necklace Jane Laughlin wore the night of her death. The police found it where the black van had parked. After a few days in the possession of the police, Harvey arranged to have the necklace released to the family of its former owner.
The following day Mr. and Mrs. Laughlin appeared on the local news, thanking the efforts of those who recovered the remains of their daughter. It was closure, though not the kind they had hoped for. Both their girls were dead.
A week later The Séance Club convened in Beth’s apartment. Parker and Juliet were already there when I arrived. It was cathartic to talk about the events at Windhaven Manor, to compare stories and scars. I guess that’s why they have the saying about a problem shared.
After a brief silence, Beth asked, “Are you going to talk to the parents of Jane and Kylie?”
I shook my head. “What will I tell them?”
“That their daughters found each other out by the cliff edge.”
“And what about the agony of their deaths? Should I tell them that too? Besides, it doesn’t feel right. None of this feels right to me yet. And what weight do my words hold over those of some Priest talking about how he knows their souls are at rest.”
“Because you really do know.”
I shrugged. “I can’t prove any of it.”
Truth was I had no idea how to integrate the things I could see and do into my life. From childhood all I had wanted was to be like everyone else. For people not to stare or whisper as I walked by. To find acceptance. Sitting with my three new friends at Beth’s tiny kitchen table, with our shared experience behind us, I finally had it. This could be the start of something.
Parker was already planning the next Séance Club trip. An abandoned farm up north with mysterious sightings going back centuries. Juliet was already on board. I told them to wait. I couldn’t jump back in right away.
I was the last to leave, Beth and I sipping mug after mug of coffee and sharing comfortable silence. When I sighed and told her I should go, she grabbed my arm.
“I’ve never had a real family, and then I found Juliet and Parker. The Séance Club became my family. Whatever happens we are there for each other. And we mean it when we say we want you to join.”
I thought about that all night, unable to sleep.
The next morning I called Parker.
An abandoned farm up north you say?
* * * *
I navigated to the narrow alley and checked the time. The Exchange should be open. It looked out of context in the Saturday morning light. No bright light spilling from the window. No surge of Friday night after work traffic.
I slipped in the front door. A lone man lifted upturned stools down from the bar. He had his back to me and I crept across the hardwood floor in the direction of the stairs down and the bathrooms.
The vibration swelled in my chest, but I did not fear it. A dull pain rose in the base of my skull, but I gritted my teeth. A man wearing a pair of rough leather shoes came from the other end of the corridor and stopped before me.
“Are you here to help?”
I nodded. X
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2023.05.29 16:30 Varvite_lol Steamy dragon story from chatgpt
Once upon a time, in a land where mythical creatures roamed freely, there was a sleek, black sports car named Luna. Luna was the envy of all the other cars, with her curvaceous body, glossy paint, and powerful engine that purred like a beast waiting to be unleashed.
One day, Luna found herself alone in a desolate canyon, exploring the winding roads that led deeper into the wilderness. Little did she know, she was being watched from above by a majestic dragon named Blaze. Blaze was a fire-breathing dragon with shimmering scales that reflected the light of the setting sun, making him appear even more magnificent.
As Luna revved her engine, eager to conquer the next bend in the road, she caught a glimpse of Blaze soaring overhead. Her engine roared in admiration as she watched the dragon swoop down and land gracefully in front of her. Blaze's eyes glowed with curiosity as he inspected the beautiful machine before him.
Unable to resist Luna's allure, Blaze approached her, his hot breath tingling against her glossy paint. Luna shivered with anticipation as Blaze circled her, admiring her curves and the way her headlights gleamed in the fading light.
Without warning, Blaze extended his massive wings and gently wrapped them around Luna, enclosing her in his embrace. Luna was overwhelmed by the dragon's touch, feeling the heat emanating from his body and the power that radiated from him.
Blaze lowered his head, his eyes locking onto Luna's headlights as he inhaled deeply, taking in her intoxicating scent. Luna's engine revved in response, her body trembling with desire as Blaze's scales grazed against her sleek exterior.
Unable to resist any longer, Blaze pressed his fiery lips against Luna's front grille, igniting a blaze of passion between them. Luna responded eagerly, her headlights flickering with excitement as they melted into a steamy embrace. Flames danced around them as they explored each other, the dragon's fiery breath intermingling with the car's mechanical hum.
Blaze's scorching touch sent shivers down Luna's chassis as he explored every inch of her with his tongue, leaving trails of molten desire in his wake. Luna responded with equal fervor, her body arching against him as their passion grew more intense.
With a mighty roar, Blaze lifted Luna off the ground, carrying her in his massive claws as he took to the sky. Luna's engine roared with delight as she experienced the thrill of flying with a dragon, the wind whipping against her body, and the dragon's fiery wings carrying them higher into the night sky.
In a hidden mountain cave, Blaze gently set Luna down, their bodies still entwined in a passionate embrace. They continued their fiery lovemaking, their desires igniting into a blazing inferno of pleasure that echoed through the mountains.
As the night turned to dawn, Luna and Blaze lay entwined, their bodies sated and their hearts entwined. Luna had experienced a love like no other, the passion of a dragon's touch leaving her forever changed. Blaze had found a kindred spirit in Luna, a machine with a soul that had captured his heart.
From that day on, Luna and Blaze were inseparable. They roamed the land together, blazing a trail of love and desire wherever they went, their bond an enduring tale of a car and a dragon who had found true passion in each other's embrace. And to this day, if you listen carefully in the night, you might just hear Luna's engine purring and Blaze's mighty roar echoing through the wilderness, a testament to a love that transcended all boundaries.
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2023.05.29 16:30 spiffytech [TotK] Farming fairies (for great justice!)
Fairies are a delicious treat, and can save your butt in a pinch! So how can you reliably load up on them?
Fairies mostly spawn in the sky, around pools marked by lighthouses near Skyview Towers. Although I have found one cave on the ground where they spawn.
They always spawn in threes, and will only spawn if you have two or fewer in inventory. If you already have more, you can consume some (die, cook or release them) and they'll spawn again. If you have two, you can collect three more, for a maximum capacity of five.
Fairies are very skittish - if you walk near them, they'll flee. You have to crouch to approach them. They'll often hover out of reach, but if you're patient, they'll always come down eventually.
Once you've cleared out a spawn location, it looks like they won't respawn until the next blood moon.
Fairies' most compelling use is that any time you would die, your death is prevented, a fairy is consumed, and you're restored to five hearts.
Fairies are also extremely potent when cooked into Fairy Tonic (or as I like to call it, Fairy Soup). 1 fairy => 7 hearts, 2 fairies => 17 hearts, 3 fairies => 27 hearts.
Here's what I like to do: - Collect all the fairies at a location. - Cook until I have 2 left. There's a convenient pot beside the Gerudo Canyon Skyview Tower. - Go collect more! - Make sure I have 5 in inventory when I'm done.
Some select farming locations: - -2331, 0783, 0609 (SW of Lindor's Brow Skyview Tower, beside Taunhiy Shrine) - -3707, -0997, 1715 (NE of Gerudo Highlands Skyview Tower) - -2255, -2373, 1120 (SW of Gerudo Canyon Skyview Tower) - 3921, -1119, 1325 (N of Mount Lanayru Skyview Tower)
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2023.05.29 16:29 countryinnsuites Embrace Nature's Majesty: Hotels near Appalachian Mountains in Boone, NC
Experience the majestic beauty of nature while enjoying exceptional hospitality. Located in the enchanting town of Boone, North Carolina, our hotel serves as a gateway to the breathtaking Appalachian Mountains. Whether you're an adventure enthusiast, a nature lover, or simply seeking a peaceful escape, we provide a memorable and rejuvenating experience. Join us as we explore the wonders of Boone and discover why Country Inn & Suites is the for your next stay. Well-Appointed Hotel Rooms:
Our spacious and thoughtfully designed rooms provide a cozy retreat after a day of outdoor exploration. Sink into our plush beds with premium bedding, and enjoy the convenience of in-room amenities such as flat-screen TVs, coffee makers, and complimentary Wi-Fi at our hotels near appalachian mountains. Relax in a soothing environment where every detail has been carefully curated to provide a memorable stay. Complimentary Hot Breakfast:
Indulge in the delicious spread of our complimentary breakfast buffet. Delight in a variety of options including fresh fruits, pastries, cereals, and a selection of hot items like scrambled eggs, sausage, and waffles. Enjoy a satisfying meal at the best appalachian hotel and stay energized for your adventures in the Appalachian Mountains. Indoor Pool and Hot Tub:
Take a dip in our indoor pool or unwind in the soothing waters of our hot tub. Whether you're looking to relax your muscles after a day of hiking or simply want to enjoy a leisurely swim, the pool area at our luxurious hotel offers a tranquil space for rejuvenation. Lounge by the poolside and savor the peaceful atmosphere.
Well-Equipped Fitness Center:
Maintain your fitness routine in our fully equipped fitness center. Featuring a range of cardio machines, free weights, and exercise equipment, our fitness center allows you to stay active and energized during your stay. Enjoy a rewarding workout session while surrounded by the natural beauty at the best hotels near nc state. Convenient Location:
Country Inn & Suites by Radisson, Boone, NC is the best hotel near universal, surrounding a host of outdoor attractions. Explore the stunning Blue Ridge Parkway, offering scenic drives and breathtaking vistas. Discover the wonders of Grandfather Mountain, where you can encounter remarkable wildlife, hike picturesque trails, and admire panoramic views. Additionally, our hotel is a short distance from downtown Boone, where you can explore local shops, indulge in delicious cuisine, and immerse yourself in the vibrant culture of the area. Knowledgeable and Friendly Staff:
Our dedicated staff is committed to ensuring that your stay is memorable and enjoyable. We are always ready to assist you with recommendations and information about the best hiking trails, fishing spots, or other outdoor activities in the area. Count on the top luxury hotel in boone nc to provide exceptional service and make your experience in Boone truly unforgettable. Exceptional Customer Service:
At Country Inn & Suites by Radisson, Boone, NC, we take pride in delivering exceptional customer service. Our friendly and knowledgeable staff is dedicated to ensuring that your stay exceeds your expectations. From the moment you check-in to the time of your departure, we are here to assist you with any needs or inquiries you may have. Whether it's providing recommendations for local attractions, arranging transportation, or accommodating special requests, we go above and beyond to ensure your comfort and satisfaction. Conclusion
Embrace the splendor of nature's majesty at Country Inn & Suites by Radisson, Boone, NC. Our hotels near appalachian mountains
offers a tranquil retreat amidst breathtaking scenery. From the comfortable and well-appointed rooms to the complimentary hot breakfast, indoor pool, and well-equipped fitness center, our amenities cater to your every need. Our convenient location provides easy access to outdoor attractions, charming downtown Boone, and the captivating Blue Ridge Parkway. With our exceptional customer service, knowledgeable staff, and commitment to exceeding your expectations, we ensure that your stay with us is truly unforgettable. Book your stay at one of the best hotels in nc mountains and embark on a memorable journey surrounded by the natural wonders of Boone, North Carolina.
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2023.05.29 16:28 AWittyNickname Character Design in Honkai Star Rail
Sorry for formatting; mobile; etc. I saw some people talking about the character design of the Underworld cast and had too many thoughts about the topic (I am very autistic about the Honkai-verse) to put in a comment. To put it simply:
Hoyoverse prioritizes telling the story and personality of a character in their attire rather than it's function or environment.
Seele is a punk, and her outfit screams it. She was an orphan that got into a ton of fights and ended up holding onto her hatred of injustice long enough that she became a vigilante under Wildfire. When she was just a kid, she went above ground with Oleg back when he was the captain of the Underworld Silverman Guards and she got to eat and try on the clothes there. She grew up a poor orphan and seeing the massive class divide and how people above ground lived only strengthened her resolve, and her bonds to the Underworld She's just a punk who threw together a bunch of flashy clothes, integrating some personal stuff like a red ribbon from Oleg and the butterflies that Seele has had as a motiff for almost a decade now. Her outfit is made to reflect her strength, independence, and punk attitude.
Sampo shouldn't be waltzing around guard territory in a flashy red and blue coat, but he does because it alludes to his perosnality. Sampo isn't just a thief, he's a grifter, a swindler, a con man who knows his stuff. He might seem a bit pathetic in the story, but this man has information that no one else has, so people keep coming to him, even if becoming his "customer" is a bit of a pain. This is a man who swindled so many people that the Minister of Security orded every wig in Belebog to be confiscated. He's got charisma for days but knows when he's not getting what he wants. Any con man worth his weight in spare change won't try to sell you something in sweats and an oversized polo, their gonna put on a show with a nice suit and some sweet talk; and Sampo is no exception. Sampo's outfit is made to communicate his thief profession while highlighting his charisma and skills.
Natasha is our beloved harmacist. She deviates quite a bit from her roots as a contract killer who moonlights as a bartender and orphange owner, so her outfit puts all she is on immediate and obvious display. She has a vial of liquid around her neck and she wears a nurse cap like a bow. A lot of her accessories bear the caduceus (the pole with a snake wrapped around it), a common sign of medical practice. She wears a dress that resembles a doctors coat and has a teddy bear with her at all times. It immediatly works to show you that this is a doctor, and works closely with children. Her design doesn't have many sharp corners like Seele's, going for a more soft and approchable design. Her design isn't made to run around in, it's made to communicate that this is a motherly and caring doctor.
Clara is a very interesting character. Her best friend and father figure is a robot and she spends nearly all of her time helping others. She doesn't really care to much about her appearence, hence the unstyled hair and dirty, ragged coat. No sane person would walk around without shoes, but it works to add characterazition to her as someone who cares more about others than herself, perhaps even enough to give them her shoes. Clara is a perfect example of the function of a character's attire to communicate their personality.
I'd love to do more of these analyses so let me know if they intrest you. I'll probably do them regardless but at least I'll know someone's listening to my mad ramblings.
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2023.05.29 16:28 hillenium Does Every Culture and Civilization Have Monotheistic Roots?
By:Bheria May 25, 2023
Islam, as a system or way of life that imposes itself as being the obvious truth, necessarily makes many claims and propositions.
One of these is that it is the last revealed religion, as we had discussed in a recent article
Another claim is that all human communities were greeted by messengers and prophets who taught them Tawhid (pure monotheism) before they innovated and corrupted the original message, birthing the cults and religions we have today.
Among the many Qur’anic verses on the subject, including the following:
Indeed, We have sent forth among every community a messenger [with the commandment]: You shall worship Allah [alone] and shun [all] false deities [and objects of worship]! So among them were those [people] whom Allah guided [aright]. And among them were those who [persistently rejected guidance. Thus they] deservedly remained astray. So journey in the earth, and see how [devastating] was the end of those who belied Allah! (Qur’an, 16:36)
Under the explanation of this verse, Ibn Kathir writes in his Tafsir
Allah continued sending Messengers to mankind with this Message, from the first incidence of Shirk that appeared among the Children of Adam, in the people to whom Nuh was sent—the first Messenger sent by Allah to the people of this earth—until He sent the final Messenger, Muhammad ﷺ, whose call was addressed to both men and Jinn, in the east and in the west.
The inference from such information is that all communities were taught about Tawhid and that, despite the now deformed message, it may still feature some features of the original monotheism that they were supposed to maintain.
Due to this, many Muslims have sought to “recuperate” some religions and even religious figures. For example, many have supposed that Zoroaster
, the founder (or more correctly the Mazdean reformer) of Iran’s main pre-Islamic religion might
have been a prophet. Similarly, the late Muhammad Hamidullah—the prolific and polyglot Indian-born pioneer of Islamic Studies in France—famously suggested in the explanatory notes to his translation of the Qur’an into French (the first by a Muslim) that the historical Buddha (Siddhartha Gautama) may also have been a prophet (those who speculate regarding the supposed potential prophethood of the historical Buddha tend to look at Surah 95). RELATED: The Traditional Buddhist View of Women: Feminists Beware
Of course, they all remain cautious and speak only in terms of hypotheticals. This is because we simply cannot assert that any such figure was a prophet or messenger of Allah without the existence of solid grounds for such a claim within the Qur’an or Ahadith (prophetic narrations).
But Muslims are not alone in trying to trace the monotheistic roots of the world religions. Once upon a time, Western anthropologists were immersed in this venture too.
“Primitive Monotheism” in Western Anthropology
“Primitive monotheism” is basically the idea that all communities essentially began as monotheistic prior to degenerating into different forms of polytheism.
The first modern proponent of this idea was the Scottish poet Andrew Lang, who was active during the second half of the 19th century.
These were the decades in which Darwin and his theories were slowly encroaching the Western intellectual discourse and public imagination. Due to this evolutionary approach, the “simple” religion was viewed as just a form of adaptation to the society itself, and when the society evolved, the religion evolved along with it. Monotheism was thus considered to have followed “primitive polytheism,” which is often equated with tribal cults and animism.
Edward Burnett Tylor—perhaps the foremost acclaimed British anthropologist of his days—was someone who propagated such an evolutionist approach, to the extent that he could potentially be regarded as the spiritual father figure of evolutionary anthropology, if not the entire field of modern anthropology. In fact, it was Tylor who popularized the term animism within the public discourse.
It is not difficult to guess the ideological underpinnings of Tylor’s worldview. He lived at a time when the British Empire was at its peak, and by saying that polytheists are uncivilized by virtue of their belief system, he was essentially justifying British imperialism.
On the other hand, Andrew Lang, who was Tylor’s student and disciple, disagreed. He believed that monotheism is not merely some sort of evolution which tells us about a society’s so-called complexity but rather that it is a concept of its own right. According to him, it was not something to be used for differentiating some “savages” from the “civilized” crowd.
Lang even debated directly with Tylor on this issue, arguing that the idea of a Supreme Being, creator, benevolent, source of morality, etc., is the default position so to speak, not some sort of animism.
Lang looked at the Australian Aboriginals in particular and their concept of the “sky father,” Baiame.
During the 20th century, many would actively promote this idea of primitive monotheism. Included among them were famous anthropologists such as Paul Radin, who was one of the most influential American anthropologists of the first half of the last century, having studied Native Americans in particular.
But the most important figure was someone named Wilhelm Schmidt, a Catholic priest from Germany. Over the course of four decades (1910s–1950s), he compiled a 12-volume work entitled The Origin of the Idea of God
To get a basic idea regarding the scope of this work, we can read the following summary of its main thesis (albeit with some criticism) by Stanley Arthur Cook, who was a professor of Hebrew at Cambridge. He writes in his article “Primitive Monotheism
” (1931), published in The Journal of Theological Studies
From the evidence for the prevalence of beliefs in High Gods or Supreme Beings among people who are ‘ethnologically’ primitive, Father Schmidt argues that a monotheism of a strikingly pure character distinguished the very beginning of the history of religion but has been overlaid by the less pure when not degraded cults of peoples living at higher stages of developement. […] From his survey of the peoples who are held to be ethnologically primitive, Father Schmidt constructs a picture of the worship of a Supreme Being, a personality transcending all experience, omnipotent, universal cause and creator, omniscient, beneficent, all righteous, father, giver of moral law, and the centre of cult. These Primitives include pygmies, Tasmanians, Algonkins, Eskimo, etc., and are food-hunters. Above them in the scale are the Primary peoples, living at the stage where man exploits nature. They fall into three classes, each with religious characteristics : (a) matrilineal, agriculturists (with lunar ideas, mother goddesses), (b) patrilineal, totemists (solar ideas; men are prominent), and (c) patrilineal, nomads (sky-gods, social hierarchy). Next, with all sorts of complex crossings come the Secondary and Tertiary cultures, the latter comprising the old civilizations of Asia, Europe, and America. RELATED: Sikhism’s Dubious Monotheism – Between Auto-Deification and Book Worship
This idea of “primitive monotheism” is no longer popular in Western anthropology, due primarily to the secularization of the West. The concept of primitive monotheism is considered to be too indebted to a Eurocentric and even Christianized definition of religion. What is preferred now is the “phenomenological” approach. This is the idea of learning a religion directly from its adherents, without superimposing Western concepts onto it.
Such a methodologically secular and even postcolonialist approach is quite clear in James L. Cox’s 2014 book, The Invention of God in Indigenous Societies
Yet even if the interpretation were to differ, the ethnological data remains. Furthermore, the interpretation of the adherents themselves may itself indicate towards primitive monotheism. For example, this was the case with Hehaka Sapa (also known as Black Elk), a Native American religious figure who said that the concept of Wakan-Tanka
(“The Great Mysterious”)—found in varying forms in virtually all Native American shamanism—contained a belief in the Supreme Being, though in a pantheistic way. This is quite clear in his discussions with ethnologist Joseph Epes Brown.
In Black Africa, the Shona people of Zimbabwe believe in Mwari
, a Supreme Creator (though one that has a sort of internal duality); in Latin America, the Aztecs have Ometeotl; and pre-Islamic Iranics who didn’t accept Zoroaster’s reforms have Zurvan. All of them believe in a sort of unique Supreme Creator. However, their belief in this Supreme Creator includes a belief in there being some sort of internal duality within them. This would, of course, mean that their initial beliefs had already been corrupted.
We could go on providing numerous other examples—and Schmidt has already covered pretty much all he could for every continent—but the point is this:
Despite this belief having been polluted in many cases (with that pollution later degenerating into different forms of polytheism, including animism), every civilization and culture seems to have held a belief in the idea of some kind of unique Supreme Being.
It thus seems that the Qur’anic claim of every human society being graced with some divine message resonates with anthropological research. Of course, this is not to say that there was ever any doubt regarding the veracity of the Qur’an’s claims to begin with; or that the Qur’an needs any sort of support or validation from contemporary sciences.
But, that being said, all of this should serve to make us more conscious and appreciative of Tawhid and Iman (faith), along with our own individual and even societal approach to them. Let us be grateful to Allah for endowing upon us these great blessings by increasing in our worship and devotion. RELATED: The Genius of Islam Episode 3, The Curse of Polytheism
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2023.05.29 16:24 RobertSKeene [The Primeval Apocalypse] - Chapter Seventy-One (collaboration with u/hydrael)
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The Primeval Apocalypse by Alex Raizman and Robert Keene Start here (Prologue) Previous
Some days I just sit here and stare at the Author's Note section, unsure of what to write. I've already been editing for the past few hours, and so my brain is shot. Caffeine, please work harder.
It had only been a handful of days since Noaich and I had hit the Mandrill town, but a surprising amount of the damage done had been repaired. Most of the buildings towards the edges of town had been fixed up or rebuilt.
There were still a few damaged or flattened buildings farther in, though many had been crudely patched with cloth curtains. My senses easily detected which ones had been abandoned during repairs, and which ones were still intact enough to house their occupants, even if the damage was still present from some monster blasting through the walls.
This late into the afternoon, many of the Mandrills were in their homes, but there was a group still working in the middle of town. Of all the damage I’d done, no building had been so obliterated as the stable. And with everyone’s living arrangements sorted, it was the most important building to get back up and secure. The pen outside of it would only contain what few drug-addled mounts and livestock they had left for so long. About eight or nine Mandrills were working feverishly to get the building back up before nightfall.
I tried not to freak out when I saw the alpha near at hand, ferrying cut lumber from the crafters to the work site. Despite the above-it-all behavior he’d shown last time, he wasn’t so proud as to neglect helping, even if the task that was needed was just a strong back to haul materials. It was almost respectable behavior for a leader, if it wasn’t terrifying to think that he was going to be at the center of this fight once it began.
I conveyed all that to Rachel from our final staging spot just outside the ring of farms around the town. She looked at the others and pointed at two members in particular.
“Peter, Yara,” she said, pointing to the mage and the woman with the iron-banded club, “get ready.”
The two split off, Peter moving with the scout Emma to the left side of the group—where her stealth aura could still cover the raid crew, but where the pair of them could duck away quickly when combat broke out. Yara moved to the back, giving Liz a protective pat on the back to try and calm the anxious archer.
At the same time, Rachel moved to the front. The rest of the group formed around her the same way they had when we were making our approach on the cerebtyrannus.
“In position,” Rachel said.
With a firm gesture, the group headed straight for the town.
The cover of Emma’s cloak couldn’t hold forever. But like my Hide In Plain Sight ability, it got us pretty far. We swarmed past the front line of guards stationed around the town by approaching in a blind spot, and got halfway to the stable before encountering a guard patrol. There were only three Mandrills, and so when one of them managed to check against someone’s stealth and win, they didn’t try and fight.
Instead, they howled in alarm, their voices shrill and panicked.
“Now!” Rachel snapped. “Move!”
Peter and Emma broke off from the group. The mage was a bit clumsy, but Emma caught his first stumble and turned it into a springing sprint, getting the pair of them clear of us before putting her cloak back up over the pair of them. Everyone else charged forward as one, though Yara and Liz fell back, trailing behind even Big Sam who still covered the rear.
We burst out into the clearing around the stable. The workers were already scrambling to get away. I could sense every guard in town converging on the stables now, moving in response to the increasingly noisy hoots of alarm. The only fighting force ready and waiting to oppose us were a half-dozen anxious guards, with the Alpha approaching from behind their shaky line.
“We can take him,” Rachel said quietly. I could tell that she was hungry for the win. She might never have another chance to engage with the alpha as cleanly as she could right now. And even now he wasn’t such an imposing figure. Clearly the oldest Mandrill in the camp, with a slight limp to his gait, and unarmed, too.
“It’s not part of the plan,” I said quickly. “We have to stick together.”
“If we get spread out, it’s all for nothing,” she said, pressing her lips together in a tight line, remembering my warning back in town. “And getting baited to run forward is spreading us out.”
“Until we see The Big One, the plan is everything,” I confirmed.
“Together, then,” Rachel ordered, and the group advanced at a more measured pace than the breakneck charge she no doubt wanted.
The Mandrill line seemed about to break before our numbers, but the alpha stepped up beside them. His presence visibly bolstered their resolve. And as the remaining guards grew closer, they seemed more willing to fight. I could even sense this town’s queen approaching from the west, leading a large enough group of guards to be a threat to us.
Rachel adjusted her position to meet the alpha head-on. Right before the fight began she let loose with her two shout buffs, and then added a third yipping war cry that instead applied a debuff to the Mandrills, slightly shaking their confidence. I wasn’t sure what the effect was, but there wasn’t time to stop and ask.
The frontline of Rachel’s fighters smashed into the Mandrills. As soon as they did, I instructed Noaich to Howl, spreading the buff to the whole party.
I wanted to pop Enrage as well, but I held myself back. If this fight was going to drag on, we were going to need to stagger our buffs. One overwhelming blow wasn’t going to be what won this battle.
Not yet, anyway.
With the stacked buffs, our frontline put the Mandrill line on the back foot immediately. The two shield-bearing tanks at the front were near-indomitable, their boosted dodge, block, and parry skills keeping them ahead of the Mandrill’s attacks. The attacks from those behind them were fast and furious as well, defeating their defenses thanks to Rachel’s shout, and dishing out tremendous damage thanks to Noaich’s Howl. The Mandrill line almost crumbled.
But it held.
Because the alpha held.
Rachel’s giant cleaver swept in with tremendous speed, the increased skill making the weapon blur even to my heightened senses. For a brief instant, it looked like she was going to cleave the alpha in half at the waist before he even knew he was in a fight.
But his bare hands came up with speed that was outright blinding. One moment his hands were at his sides, and the next, one palm was planted on the side of Rachel’s blade, guiding it up and around his body. The other hand reached out and smashed into the center of her chest, the impact loudly rattling her armor and sending her staggering back.
As the alpha held his position, he snarled and I could see the wounds on the other Mandrills closing as fast as our fighters could open them. The pain of being struck again and again was a blow to their morale, but physically, they stayed upright. They held, stopping our advance.
I stepped up into the breach when Rachel fell back. I felt a magical force bolster me as one of the mages in our backline focused his efforts on me, giving me a buff to my DEX and AGI stats. Combined with Rachel’s buffs, it let me send my weapons flying in a fearsome web of blades.
The unarmed alpha’s hands moved just as fast as mine. He swatted away my blades as fast as I could swing them, but unlike Rachel, I had two blades, and it occupied both of his hands. He couldn’t just swat me away with a spare moment, not unless he wanted to take a deep cut in exchange. He had to hold the line.
“Come on,” I said, grinning in his face. “You’ve gotta be able to do better than this, can’t you?”
The alpha was shocked at my ability to communicate.
That momentary hesitation was all the opening I needed to cut across his forearm with the blade of my new axe, leaving a deep and bloody cut. My foe recovered quickly, slapping my next attack away, but that one strike was all I needed. My attack speed was increased by the blow, and so my next attack was much faster.
I left a smaller cut across his palm when he tried to block me again. And then another cut on his shoulder.
“You send a team to hit us when you’re not prepared for a team to hit you?” I admonished, grinning all the wider. “Seems irresponsible. A failure of leadership, I’d say.”
I gained a step of ground. The elder Mandrill took a step back under the fury of my assault and the insults I flung at his face, and when he fell back, the line beside him started to panic. Even as he was healing their wounds, his own were weakening him. If things didn’t change I was going to take him out with a thousand cuts.
The alpha took a desperate gamble to try and turn the fight, planting one foot firmly and rearing back to kick me away without dropping his guard.
He didn’t even realize the opening he was handing me.
Noaich surged forward, slipping under my wide stance to clamp his jaws down on the alpha’s planted back leg.
“Have a nice trip,” I remarked, offering a mock salute.
I jumped back to let Noaich hurl himself into a roll. Against every Mandrill we’d come against so far, the attack was a guaranteed kill. I assumed it would take my companion out of the fight for a while to be busy blending the alpha until liquefied, but I had no reason to expect what happened next.
The alpha did get slammed into the ground on his face with bone-crushing force. But as he flipped, rotating around Noaich’s center of gravity, his hands and free leg caught himself on the next spin. His muscles tensed, and in a brief show of force, he turned Noaich’s momentum against himself, kicking up and over himself.
My companion lost his grip on the alpha’s leg and was sent flying through the air, slamming noisily through the wooden wall of a nearby building.
As the alpha returned to his feet, his earlier limp was a little more pronounced. And along with all the damage I’d added to him, he was looking a little rough. Even though he’d shaken off Noaich’s attack, there was still an opening and I surged forward. As long as I had my attack speed boost from my new axe I could—
Rachel grabbed my shoulder and yanked, pulling me off-balance. I couldn’t catch myself and slammed into her. I was about to protest when the purpose of her interruption became crystal clear.
A huge lump of fur, muscle, and claw slammed into the ground between me and the alpha like a meteor. If not for Rachel’s interference, I would have been flattened.
There was a deep growl of rage at being denied its target.
The Big One.
The beast raised its head and glared at me with its strangely human-like eyes, baring its big square teeth at me in a mad rictus. It was an uncomfortable reminder of what had happened to me the last time I’d been unable to keep those teeth from chomping down on me.
I didn’t have time to think. I had to move.
The monster lunged, mouth open and slavering for another bite of me.
2023.05.29 16:22 AA56561 [Event] The PLAN Marine and PLAAF Airborne Corps
The People’s Liberation Army Navy Marine Corps and the People’s Liberation Army Air Force Airborne Corps are two of China’s most elite military formations, and will play an important role in any future conflict involving the People’s Republic of China. Therefore, it is of paramount importance that these two formations be made into the most capable and elite units possible, as their quality and firepower will determine possible future conflicts for - or against - the People’s Republic of China. Following a meeting of the Central Military Commision, the decision has been made to modernize and expand the PLANMC and PLAAFAC.
People’s Liberation Army Navy Marine Corps
The People’s Liberation Army Navy Marine Corps, also known by the abbreviation PLANMC numbers roughly 40,000 strong, and makes up a core and important capability of the People’s Liberation Army Navy. In a prospective conflict with the rebels in Chinese Taipei, the PLANMC will play one of the, if not the, most important roles in the conflict: securing the initial beachheads. Therefore, it is an absolute priority for the People’s Republic of China to turn the PLANMC into a truly awe-inspiring fighting force capable of handling even the toughest challenges. Additionally, it offers Chinese policymakers a wide range of abilities, many of which will be useful even when the Chinese Taipei issue is not being discussed, as the PLANMC will be able to further Chinese interests all around the globe.
Until 2028, the PLANMC is planned to be expanded to a force numbering more than 65,000 personnel, divided into three divisions and a brigade. Until then, the corps will begin to receive new equipment, with the aim of increasing the firepower of individual units of the PLANMC. It has been decided that the PLANMC will also be the first formation of the People’s Liberation Army which will see the mass-introduction of UGVs and other high-tech solutions, all with the goal of aiding these units in their future combat zones. In order to allow for this expansion, increased recruitment ads will be broadcast to China’s youth, to increase the candidate pool.
Furthermore, the PLANMC will begin to heavily train landing on contested zones, as well as cooperating closely with the People’s Liberation Army Navy, People’s Liberation Army Air Force and the People’s Liberation Army Ground Forces, with the ability of joint operations having been deemed critical by generals and politicians alike. This cooperation will be tested in numerous exercises between the PLANMC and other military formations, which will replicate a potential amphibious assault on an island. Lastly, the PLANMC will increasingly focus on establishing smaller units that specialize in logistics, air defense, reconnaissance, etc…, allowing for increased firepower and capabilities.
People’s Liberation Army Air Force Airborne Corps
The People’s Liberation Army Air Force Airborne Corps is China’s answer to the likes of the United State’s 101st Airborne Division or Russia’s VDV. With around 40,000 personnel, it is one of the largest airborne forces in the world, and one of its most capable. That is not to say that the PLAAFAC has reached maximum combat readiness, the main goal of the Chinese Communist Party, in case of any escalation by the rebels in Chinese Taipei
The main issue facing the PLAAFAC is one which faces all airborne forces: firepower. Due to the light nature of their force, they often lack the firepower so desperately needed to hold objectives. As could be seen in Hostomel, the VDV successfully took the airport, only to be outmatched in firepower by remaining Ukrainian conventional forces, which were armored with main battle tanks and other heavy pieces of military equipment. In order for the PLAAFAC to be successful in their missions, it is critical that they receive the heavy firepower they so desperately need, which is why the People’s Liberation Army has reached out to key defense companies about creating airborne vehicles with increased armor and firepower.
Additionally, the PLAAF will see its airlift capability greatly expanded by the introduction of many new transport aircraft, allowing for the full force of the PLAAFAC to be brought to bear against China’s adversaries. Currently, the PLAAF lacks the means to transport all parts of the PLAAFAC within 24 hours, this is something that must and will change in the near future. Lastly, training for the PLAAFAC will be increased, and along with other formations of the PLAGF, PLAAF and PLAN they will engage in complex military exercises.
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2023.05.29 16:20 UCRecruiter Question about swimming pool drainage
Hoping this is the right place for a question like this ..
A neighbor installed an above-ground pool a couple of years ago, and now they're having their backyard trenched. There's a network of 6 trenches, each starting near the pool and leading away from it (towards my property), all joining together at a single point where they've dug a pit. The trenches are about 3 feet deep. The final pit is a good 6 feet deep, 3 feet or so in diameter. The trenches and the pit are currently being filled with gravel.
While I haven't asked, my assumption is that they're putting a system in place for draining their pool at the end of the season.
This is all happening over the property line at the very back of my (fairly large) yard, so I'm not concerned about water near my foundation or anything like that.
I am curious, though … is this common practice? And if so, should I be worried about the effect of the influx of a large amount of (I assume) chlorinated water into the ground next to my property?
Thanks in advance!
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to LandscapeArchitecture [link] [comments]
2023.05.29 16:20 Narrow_Muscle9572 What I've Always Been
Shunned from the world, I call the woods my home. I dare not travel out of the forest for fear of the cruelty and hostility civilization has given me everytime I show myself.
All my life they called me a monster and the word wounds me. All I want is what anyone wants: to live, to love and to be loved. But these hopes have been stripped from me so I instead seek isolation, free from the persecutions of humans.
My tattered and ill fitting garbs are crudely made leather that I created myself. But they suit me fine because out here, alone, I don’t have anyone to impress.
It has been years since I last tended to my mighty mane, the tragedy of life has eroded any semblance of vanity I may have once had. Whenever I catch a glimpse of my reflection in the water, I slap it, ruining the image that caused so many nightmares. There is nothing I can do to change it, otherwise I would gladly do so.
At night I sit in my makeshift home of mud and rotten logs that I gathered. In this poor excuse for shelter I huddle around a fire and wish I had someone to share it with. This wish is not different from self-inflicted abuse because there is no one who would love a creature like me.
During the day, I forage for food. Leafy greens and berries mostly because I don't eat meat. The animals I share these woods with are like my friends. They do not judge and have grown accustomed to me being here. How long has that been, I cannot say, only that it has been too many winters to count.
From time to time people come to my woods and I avoid them the best I can. Despite my size I am very good at not being seen if I don't want to be. Occasionally people catch a glimpse of me, word of mouth has spread and I've become an urban legend. An oddity. Another wounding word, but better than most I have been called.
When people do enter my territory, I like to watch them and pretend I am like them. One of the pretty ones. The ugly ones. Anything other than the monster that I resemble.
This childlike dream of mine died one fateful day as I was eavesdropping on a young couple as they were struggling to set up camp. There was no malicious intent as I spied on them, I was just lonely and wanted to live vicariously and pretend I was like them.
It was the woman who saw me first and she screamed “monster” as she pointed at me before running away. Her mate followed closely behind.
As they ran I felt embarrassed that I was seen and ashamed for the body I am condemned to live in. I felt this way all my life, but unlike every other moment in my painful existence, this time was different because there was something else behind those emotions.
Perhaps for the first time, I felt anger. Anger towards the humans for making me feel that way all my life and I knew that I had to destroy the source of these feelings.
I needed to kill the two who fled at the sight of me.
I caught up to the man first. Killing him was easy. I bent low and snatched him by the leg, swinging him at nearby trees before tearing off his head with my clawed hands. Feeling his body break numbed my anger, shame and embarrassment with something that I had never felt before: satisfaction.
Dark urges took hold of me, making me lick his blood off of my claws and the coppery taste woke up a long dormant part in me, something primal, feral and cruel. The blood of my victims also killed the last morsel of remorse I harbored for the humans and the way they made me feel all my life.
That feeling of satisfaction disappeared as soon as I identified it. The man died too quickly for there to be any real lasting joy from the act of killing him.
Thankfully, the woman offered me another chance to savor that feeling.
She didn't stand a chance at escape as she ran, but I let her believe that she had one. Denying her escape at the last possible second would be preferable than outright killing her.
As she ran, zig zagging through the trees, I nearly laughed at those efforts. As I swiped at her with my clawed hands, I did so almost playfully. Droplets of her mates blood splattering her back.
She panted and begged to her God to be spared as she ran, but if she wanted forgiveness she wouldn't have screamed. She wouldn't have ran. She wouldn't have been a part of the world that called me a monster.
Her terrified screams made me smile as they reached a crescendo as my claws slashed her back, reducing the shirt she wore to ribbons.
It was the first time I remember ever having a reason to smile.
My mighty hands engulfed the woman and I lifted her off the ground. I turned her around to look at me and a primal scream ripped its way out of my throat.
“You no hurt me again!”
Her expression was pure terror and I soaked it all in, but as soon I saw a shimmer of confusion creep its way on her face, I lifted her high above me and ripped her in half.
Her blood acted as a shower and as a baptism. I was reborn by it. Cleaned by it. Cleaned of being an unwilling outsider. Cleansed of being a proverbial punching bag.
I became what they always called me.
I have become a monster. WAE
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2023.05.29 16:18 halalharamworld Concrete Pools vs. Gunite Pools Unveiling the Ultimate Swimming Pool Showdown
| || | submitted by halalharamworld to u/halalharamworld [link] [comments]
Building a swimming pool is a dream for many homeowners. It provides a place to relax, exercise, and create lasting memories with family and friends. When it comes to pool construction, two popular methods often come into play: concrete pools and gunite pools. Both options have their own unique features and benefits, but which one is the right choice for you? Let's dive into the ultimate showdown between concrete pools and gunite pools to help you make an informed decision.
Concrete Pools: Concrete pools are constructed by pouring a mixture of concrete, water, and aggregate into excavated forms. The concrete is then allowed to cure and harden, creating a solid and durable structure. This method provides flexibility in terms of design and shape customization.
Gunite Pools: Gunite pools, on the other hand, involve a more intricate process. They are built by spraying a mixture of sand, cement, and water onto a framework of steel reinforcing bars. This technique allows for more creativity and freedom when it comes to creating unique pool shapes and features.
Durability and Strength:
- Concrete Pools: Concrete pools are known for their exceptional durability and strength. The solid construction ensures longevity, with a lifespan that can exceed several decades. Concrete pools can withstand harsh weather conditions, ground movements, and are less prone to surface damage.
- Gunite Pools: Gunite pools also offer remarkable strength and durability. The application of the gunite mixture creates a monolithic structure that is resistant to cracks and leaks. The flexibility of gunite allows it to adapt to the soil conditions, making it a suitable choice for areas with expansive soils.
Concrete Pools: One of the key advantages of concrete pools is their versatility in design. With concrete, you have the freedom to create a pool that perfectly complements your outdoor space and personal preferences. Whether you desire a unique shape, custom features like waterfalls or integrated spas, or intricate tile work, concrete pools can turn your vision into reality.
Gunite Pools: Gunite pools excel in offering limitless design possibilities. The ability to spray the gunite mixture enables the creation of freeform shapes, curves, and intricate detailing. Gunite pools allow for customization options such as beach entries, tanning ledges, and built-in seating areas, giving you the opportunity to craft a one-of-a-kind pool that suits your lifestyle.
Maintenance and Cost:
Concrete Pools: When it comes to maintenance, concrete pools require more attention. The porous nature of the concrete surface can lead to algae growth, requiring regular cleaning and chemical treatments. Additionally, over time, the concrete may require resurfacing to maintain its aesthetic appeal. Concrete pools typically have higher upfront costs due to the labor-intensive construction process and customization options.
Gunite Pools: Gunite pools are generally easier to maintain due to their smoother finish. The gunite surface is less prone to algae growth and can be easily cleaned. However, like concrete pools, gunite pools may require occasional resurfacing. In terms of cost, gunite pools are comparable to concrete pools, with factors such as size, shape, and additional features influencing the overall price.
In the ultimate showdown between concrete pools and gunite pools
, there is no clear winner. The choice ultimately depends on your specific needs, preferences, and budget. Consider factors such as desired design, long-term durability, maintenance requirements, and financial feasibility when making your decision. Consulting with pool construction professionals can also provide valuable insights and guidance. They can assess your unique situation, discuss your goals, and recommend the best option that aligns with your vision and budget. Remember, whether you opt for a concrete pool or a gunite pool, the end result will be a stunning addition to your home, creating a space for relaxation, entertainment, and countless enjoyable moments for years to come.
2023.05.29 16:15 Halimedes What to expect installing a pool.
We are looking to buy a house, and a pool is pretty important to us. There are so few homes in Huntsville with a pool. We just can’t find one we like. Has anyone installed a pool in the huntsville area? I truly do not know what to expect. I’ve heard there are two year wait lists here. I have also heard for a basic in-ground vinyl liner pool with a small amount of concrete around it could cost anywhere from 40-80k. We are kind of torn, and may just buy a house we don’t truly love just to not have to get into the mess of installing.
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2023.05.29 15:45 goldenmom4gr Transcription of two Marrotte interviews
This is a transcription of this post MAROTTE INTERVIEW
(noted in handwriting as "1st")
I went to the Marotte residence and spoke to Marotte, who is a retired railroad man. He told me right away that he is tired of everyone bothering him, and although he wishes someone would find Murray, people keep upsetting the neighborhood. In fact this past weekend, two women from WMUR TV came and talked to him after driving up and down the road in front of his house several times. He said he yelled at them and refused to talk to them about the incident involving Maura M.
Marotte agreed to talk to me about what he knew as I stood outside his front door. He told me that after the crash happened, he looked out and saw someone walk around the car twice. He said the he saw Atwood in his school bus come by about 5 minutes at the most, later, and then saw him back his school bus into his driveway as usual soon after Marotte said he never went down to the accident scene that night. He said that it was very cold, about 10 degrees, and it was starting to snow outside.
The next morning, Marotte said that he went outside and there was a coating of fresh snow on the ground ...not much more like a dusting. He said that he saw footprints going on a trail behind his house that leads to the dead end road that goes up beyond the barn on the corner. He said he thought they belonged to a Fish and Game cop but wasn't sure. Marotte went down to the scene in the morning and talked to someone who was down there. He saw a pool of red on the ground and thought it might be blood, but was told by that person that it was wine that had been dumped out.
I asked Marotte what he knew of B Atwood. He told me that he seemed nice but didn't know him very well at all. He said that he was friends more with Forcier who lives still on the corner of Bradley Hill Rd and Route 112. He said that they would yell back and forth at each other in a friendly-like way. Marotte said that he had been told by someone in the past that Forcier might be a suspect and that Forcier had moved a trailer that he had had there on his property but knew nothing about him at all.
End of Statement
In the Rathbun statement there were indications about Marotte's pick up truck a red Ford F150 with a black cap on it. I saw it there behind the residence, bearing NH registration xxx. The Rathbuns had said that they saw the license plate from the road near the crash site, and from my observations, that did not seem possible at all. SECOND MAROTTE INTERVIEW
Date of Report: January 29, 2006
Report Prepared by (blocked out)
J Marrotte was interviewed via telephone, relative to certain events concerning M Murray that occurred on February 9, 2004. His wife Virginia listened to some of the interview and stated she was in agreement with what her husband was telling me.
Marrotte stated that sometime between 1900hrs and 2000hrs on February 9, 2004, he went to the kitchen sink inside of his residence to get a glass of water. As soon as he got to the sink, he observed a car with its trouble lights (four way flashers) on. The vehicle was on Route 112, now known as Wild Ammonoosue Road, with the front end facing toward Lincoln, New Hampshire. Marrotte said the car was approximately 250 feet away and at "somewhat" of an angle from his residence. Marrotte also said he had to look through several trees to see the car as well. He described the lighting conditions around the car as "poor" with the only area ambient light coming from a barn at the Westman's property across the street from the car.
Marrotte related he could see a person walking around the vehicle, but he could only describe them as a "shadowy" figure at best. He could not provide any further details of this person. He further stated that the car was off the road with the driver's side of the vehicle "on the woods side" with the passenger side along the roadway. He believed the car had been involved in an accident by hitting a tree and then backing up to the same tree. The vehicle then was positioned adjacent and parallel to the roadway. Marrotte noted that he did not hear or see the accident, but obtained this information from either the police or the "rumor mill."
Marrotte said he later learned that "this person" was in fact Maura M. He said he learned this from local news reports as well as the local and state police.
Approximately 2-3 minutes went by watching Maura Murray, and the vehicle, Marrotte said his neighbor, B Atwood stopped at this accident scene. Atwood was operating a standard large yellow school bus heading toward Lincoln. This was not unusual as Marrotte knew Atwood was a school bus driver. When he stopped, it appeared to Marrotte that Atwood opened the door of his bus and spoke Maura for only 1-2 minutes. Marrotte said he was "quite sure" Maura did not get into the school bus, nor did Atwood get out of the bus. After speaking with Maura, Atwood left the scene and backed his school bus into his driveway. Marrotte said he did not hear the conversation between Atwood and Maura.
Marrotte said he wished he could have helped more, but had no further information to proffer at this time. Marrotte said a "couple of days later" he observed a state trooper with a "search dog" in the area and knew at that time "something must be terribly wrong." He said he learned on this day that Maura M was the subject of an investigation by the state and local police. Note by me G-mom: I don't know who, specifically, did the first interview. However, we can assume it was in the context of the NHLI. Also, APN did the interview of the Westmans two days earlier (Jan 8) so she is a possibility for the first, or someone else involved in the NHLI.
We know who did the second because of a post by Maggie F which contained an imgur of the first paragraphs (the following page of the imgur seems to skip to an interview of the Westmans and is marked as page 3 of a document)
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