Ozark trail hammock chair
How common are cruising spots?
2023.06.10 04:56 Saltasarus How common are cruising spots?
I have recently moved to a new neighborhood and decided to take a run today. There was a park with a trail near by. All was normal until the trail started getting smaller and harder to run through because of bushes and tress, then men started popping up and walking around. Sitting on chairs they brought from home. I got nervous and ran back home. 😅
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2023.06.10 04:54 cbvv1992 🔥Walmart - $29.99 Large Hammock Chair Swing, Relax Hanging Rope Swing Chair!!
2023.06.10 04:09 UncleCeiling Writing on the Wall, Chapter 16
First Chapter Here
Previous Chapter Here
My other story, Going Native Here
Hey look, a chapter released in a somewhat reasonable timeframe! As always, thank you for reading and let me know what you think!
Faye hadn’t noticed right away that Meechie missed her regular stop. The pair had been standing in relative silence, Faye’s thoughts drifting off to debate whether or not she would go to the next movie night at the Library, and it was several stops before she realized that she hadn’t said goodbye to the Rakiri. It was in a bit of a brain fog that Faye half-turned, figuring she should hurry and say it now before Meechie got too far away, but instead she jerked her head to find the brown-furred woman staring directly at her.
“I am still here,” Meechie said quietly, a small smile causing the fur on her cheeks to bristle.
“You are,” Faye agreed. “I thought I missed seeing you off.”
“I am accompanying you to the library,” the young woman declared. Faye tried not to read too much into vocal cues, especially when she had little-to-no experience with the species in question, but there still seemed to be something nervous in Meechie’s voice. Nervous and pleading.
“I don’t need a bodyguard,” Faye said cautiously. “And I definitely don’t need someone making a decision like that for me.”
That seemed to strike a nerve. Meechie slunk back as if hit, causing some grumbles from the other passengers. The Rakiri took a moment to smooth out the fur on her face with one hand before replying.
“I did not express myself well. I wished to visit a library after work, and as you work at one I thought it would be nice to travel alongside you.” Meechie’s eyes lowered. “I should not have presumed.”
As if on cue, the bus slowed to its next stop and Meechie moved to leave. It would put the furry young woman at a corporate business park near absolutely nothing of interest. Faye shot out a hand and grabbed Meechie by the shoulder. The Rakiri froze mid-step as if turned to stone.
“Don’t!” She tugged gently and Meechie shifted back to Faye’s side. “No need to run off. Sorry. I shouldn’t have jumped to conclusions.”
“I…” Meechie seemed to be glancing everywhere except at Faye. “It’s alright?”
God damn was this poor girl shy. “Yes, you can ride to the library with me. I just wish you had mentioned it earlier; we don’t have a lot of time to talk shop now.” Faye considered Meechie again, clothes that looked brand new and not a speck of grease to be seen. “Is that why you got all dressed up?”
Meechie nodded, still keeping her eyes somewhere to the left of Faye’s face. “I normally go straight home, but it wouldn’t do to soil any of the books.”
“The books and I both appreciate it.” That earned Faye a smile, at least. “What are you looking for? I didn’t take you for much of a reader.”
“I like adventure stories,” Meechie replied.
“Hmm…” Faye tapped a fingertip to her lips as she thought. “Historical? Big battles?”
“The fighting isn’t what’s important.” Meechie stopped, eyes drawn to the motion of Faye’s finger, and she self-consciously brought her hands back down to her sides. “It is more about the people the hero meets on his travels.”
The pronoun threw Faye for a bit of a loop; she was so used to hearing the feminine form used as the general that it stood out. It only took a moment for her to understand. Faye grinned.
stories?” She asked the question in a faux whisper, slightly teasing, and Meechie immediately went wide-eyed. Her freshly-cleaned fur puffed up in what could only be panic. Faye reached over and gave Meechie a couple quick pats on the shoulder before leaning in.
“Don’t worry, your secret is safe with me.”
“...should have what you’re looking for. I’m going to be upstairs at Archives, but the help desk can find what you’re looking for if you get lost. And remember, no judgment.”
Mahnti glanced across the lobby more out of instinct than anything else. Hearing Faye’s voice simply drew his attention, especially considering he didn’t think her shift had started yet. His eyes quickly picked her out as Faye turned away from the entrance and towards the hall that led towards the employee lounge. He also took note of who she had been talking to.
Rakiri weren’t uncommon in University City, but the way this one stood in place, staring at Faye’s back with an unnerving intensity, was setting off alarms all down Mahnti’s rather sizeable spine. He began to make his way on an intercept course towards Faye, trying to imprint the furry girl’s look into his memory just in case. Brand new clothing, still showing the creases of packaging. Not quite the right fit for the woman’s frame, and she moved like she was profoundly uncomfortable in them. Dark brown fur that seemed to puff up as she stared at Faye, then flattened as she noticed Mahnti watching her.
The Senthe flared his hood slightly, emphasizing his size instinctively as he narrowed his eyes. The Rakiri stared at him unblinking for a moment, then turned and wandered off towards the main stacks. It only took another moment for him to catch up to Faye.
“Who was that?”
Faye jerked slightly, then stopped and turned with a small smile decorating her lips. “Good morning to you too.”
“Yeah, yeah, good morning and all that. Was that your bus Rakiri?”
Faye nodded, the smile fading as she picked up on Mahnti’s unease. “Yeah. Why, do you know her?”
“No, nothing like that.” Mahnti sighed. He didn’t want to cause problems, but he also had some serious bad vibes going. “She was just standing there staring at you. It was pretty creepy.”
“Yeah, I’ve noticed her doing that a lot. I think it might be a Rakiri thing? Meechie seems to have latched on for whatever reason.” Faye shrugged. “I don’t think she has any friends.”
“I’m not surprised if that’s her way of making them. She seriously looked like she was about to attack you or something.”
“Doesn’t know anybody, trying to figure out how to socialize with people…” Faye shrugged again, adding a lopsided smile. “I can relate. She seems harmless enough, even helped protect me the other day.”
Mahnti slumped a little. “I suppose. I just… be careful, okay? I don’t want to have to frame another dent in a wall.”
He also didn’t want to have to worry about Faye bleeding out in some dark corner somewhere. She could outrun a Shil, but a Rakiri with ill intentions would be a far more dangerous proposition.
“After what happened before, I’m not taking chances.” Faye patted the side of her purse conspiratorially and Mahnti could see the outline of a cylinder. It seemed to be a fair bit larger than the grinshaw spray he carried in a vest pocket, but that could have just been a trick of the bag it was in. Regardless, he felt a little better knowing she had something. It wasn’t until he saw the fear she was tucking down behind her smile that he suddenly realized just how vulnerable Faye must feel.
She was smaller and weaker than a Shil’vati, easy to pick out of a crowd and easier to pick on, and with the way she dressed and styled herself Faye really was priming the pump for trouble. A random attack at her place of work had nearly killed her and, less than a week later, here she was trying to take it in stride. All while knowing that the chance of it happening again was approaching certainty.
“Come on,” Mahnti said quietly. He took one of Faye’s hands and pulled her deeper into the hallway, away from prying eyes and towards the break room. He almost told her that she was safe here, but that was a lie. Nowhere was safe if you stood out, and he knew that better than anyone.
Ib’aest Jamia, chronic layabout and day manager at the Jamia Library, hoped he didn’t look too guilty when Faye’s face poked through his office doorway and interrupted the scandal rag he was reading on his pad. He slipped his pad face-down into his desk drawer in a single smooth motion and slapped on his second-best friendly but not flirtatious smile.
“Hey Ibby.” Faye seemed suddenly nervous herself, glancing around the room as if to ensure that it was just him in his office. “Can I talk to you for a minute?”
“Is it work related?” Faye shook her head in the negative. “Then of course! Come on in and shut the door.”
Faye followed his lead, latching the door and stepping gracefully to the chair he indicated on the other side of his desk. It was odd, watching the way she moved. Too graceful for most women he knew, but still nervous. Faye sometimes seemed to approach the world as if everything was made of glass. Or perhaps that she was.
Ibby looked the girl up and down, trying for a “kind older friend” vibe. The Human was dressed simply in one of the outfits she seemed to have a knack for throwing together. He knew he had seen at least some of it before, the tights and the skirt at least, but the overall effect was new to him. She struck such an odd balance, clearly a woman but throwing off such a distractingly masculine vibe. In this one person Ibby had a real empirical example of the strange dichotomy that made Humanity so interesting. That said, there was really only one reason for a young woman to ask to speak to an older man in private. At least, only one he figured Faye would be up for.
Faye blinked at Ibby, confused for a moment. “Kind of, yeah. I guess you could call it that.”
Ibby ran through the list in his head. Mahnti was the obvious first choice, but the way that pair seemed to be getting along he didn’t think there would be any trouble he’d have to intervene with. Besides, the Senthe had said they weren’t doing the perpendicular poke. At least not yet. Faye also knew Tevor, but Ibby had yet to see anyone aside from Sade who could pull that poor kid out of his shell. Maybe Iora over in Digital Media. Did Faye even know Iora?
“Have you ever been to any fancy dress parties?”
Ibby’s racing mind slammed into a drift, changed gears, and nearly ran headlong into the answer. “You’re going on a date with that reporter!”
“It’s NOT a date. I have gone to great lengths to make that clear to both of us.” Faye’s voice was firm. The girl was apparently a better liar than Ibby thought. “He invited me out to go see a play being performed in English at a fancy theater.” Faye pulled out her pad and showed Ibby a copy of the playbill.
“Ooh, the Icosahedral Garden. That’s a great venue.” Ibby considered. “I assume he’s dragging you out to dinner first?”
“I guess? I didn’t really think that far ahead. I just realized that I have no idea what’s culturally acceptable to wear to an event like this.” Faye blushed prettily. “I don’t want to show up in a ball gown and have it turn out to be more of a spikes and corpse paint thing.”
“Nevermind. Just making a joke.” Faye shrugged, eyes drooping as her expression soured. “It seems like I make a scene no matter where I go. It would be nice to blend in for a change.”
Fat chance of that, Ibby thought. Still, he could be of some help. “What would you say to another shopping excursion? I wouldn’t mind helping you out.”
Faye nodded, relief washing over her. “I would appreciate that. I have an errand to run tonight and plans for tomorrow, but how about the day after? I’m free all day and that will still give me plenty of time before the show.”
“It’s a…” Don’t say date, you idiot. Poor girl is nervous enough as it is. “..plan. Truth be told, it’ll be nice to show you the sights properly. Most of your new friends seem to be more of the indoor sort.”
Faye snorted back a laugh. “Ain’t that the truth.”
Faye tilted her head to one side just to give her eyeroll a running start. The sign hanging above the shop door was written in a rounded style made to emulate the shape of English letters despite being Shil’vati script. Through the window she could see an assortment of Human snacks, assorted tchotchkes that somehow made her feel victimized on behalf of every race and culture involved, and an embarrassingly large amount of soft-core pornography.
"Chad Nova’s Human Emporium" was probably the single cringiest store that Faye had ever seen, and she distinctly remembered hanging out at the mall back when you could get jeans with pockets big enough to hold a CD player. It didn’t help that, while Faye was standing in the mall concourse staring at the store, the clerk inside was staring right back. That girl seemed to consider blinking an afterthought.
After a moment to square her shoulders and pat the side pocket on her purse reassuringly, Faye entered the store. It was a riot of mismatched goods, poorly made display swords and replica firearms tucked alongside “authentic” Polynesian nose flutes and decks of playing cards. After accidentally locking eyes with what she was fairly certain was an Abraham Lincoln body pillow, she decided to simply accept that this was what her species boiled down to.
“Can I help you, miss?” The voice was high and cracked around the edges. Faye turned to look at the clerk, a Shil’vati girl barely out of school with a face still lightly dusted with acne. The girl seemed to be about ten seconds from exploding in excitement.
“Actually, yeah. I was wondering if you do special orders.” Faye pulled out her pad and started tapping at the screen. “I brought some sundries when I moved out here and I don't know what I’m going to do when I run out.”
“Moved, like from Earth?” Make it five seconds.
“Yes, and to answer your next question, yes, I’m a Human. Nobody decided to bleach a Helkam or anything like that.”
Four… three… two…
The Shil girl turned away and ran to the back of the store, sliding to a stop in front of a rather tacky looking beaded curtain hanging next to an “Employees Only” sign. She shoved her head through the beads.
Faye took a moment to collect herself. She glanced around, cataloging the strange array of goods. There were some things that clearly fell into similar themes, like the large snack section or the graphic novels (emphasis on graphic), but much of the place was simply a cacophony of crap. She noticed a stuffed doll of the Statue of Liberty fallen over into a container of brightly colored, thumb-sized plastic crucifixes. All the little Jesuses seemed to be staring in mute, cross-eyed horror at the plushie green giant.
“Oh! It’s you!”
Faye turned away from the plastic Jesusai and saw that the young Shil’vati clerk was now accompanied by another woman. Definitely not old enough to be the clerk’s biological mom, but with how things tended to go with Shil families and how long lifespans could get it wasn’t the most surprising. If the clerk was a Human seventeen, she’d put this new one at twenty three or twenty four.
“Yeah, it’s me,” Faye replied to the stranger with a shrug.
“We saw you on the news, but…” the young woman trailed off, her black and gold eyes focused on the still-fading bruises on Faye’s face.
“Lost a fight,” she said curtly. Anything to move this along. “Some friends of mine recommended this place to get Human snacks, and I figured if you’re getting regular imports you might be able to get me some other stuff.”
“..Ah. Oh! Yes!” The woman blinked, then looked at her daughter. “Can you go grab my order book?” Turning back to Faye, she continued, “What sort of things did you need? We have quite a collection here.”
“You certainly do.” Faye tried to focus on the woman, but her eyes kept getting drawn off to the side. An anime-style wall scroll of a mostly-naked, hugely muscled brown-skinned man was staring at her, and she couldn’t place who it was supposed to be. Bob Sapp maybe?
“Mostly I was thinking about makeup, maybe some comfort food. Stuff you probably don’t stock but I can’t afford to import on my own.”
The young woman nodded, her dark hair bouncing. “I’m sure we can work something out. You’re lucky; most Human stores are part of a chain, but we’re independent. We’re not confined to ordering from just one catalog.”
As if she was just waiting for her cue, the Shil kid arrived and plopped an oversized binder into her mom’s open arms. She placed it on a table and flipped it open with a thump.
It was like someone tried to print the Internet. The woman quickly fingered her way through hard-copy recreations of digital storefronts while Faye groaned inwardly. She liked paper more than most but this just seemed so awkward. An alien luddite.
“My brother-in-law’s cousin-in-law works on Earth at one of those new superconductor factories. They ship a lot of materials here, so I was able to negotiate a good deal to take up their extra mass allotment for cheap.” The woman stopped on a page, then pointed. “Something like this?”
Faye leaned over the book and looked. It was the digital storefront of one of those corner store and pharmacy chains that sells makeup on top of everything else. Not exactly top of the line, but better than the dollar store.
“Perfect.” Faye started noting individual things she’d like and the woman dutifully started marking things down on a scrap of paper. The big items on Faye’s shopping list were more foundation and concealer, but she picked out some blush, lipstick, and eyeliner pencils too; she was leery about trusting Shil makeup in general. It was hard enough to find brands that didn’t make her skin break out into an oily mess without getting alien biochemistry involved.
“We can order whatever you like, but the fewer stores you have to pick from the better. I would hate for our buyer to get pissy because she has to run too many errands on the hot guy planet.” The clerk paused for an eye roll. “Also, keep in mind that these prices aren’t what you’ll pay; there will be an additional convenience fee.”
Faye nodded. “Of course. What are you thinking?”
“Hmm…” The woman looked Faye up and down in a way that suddenly made her feel a lot smaller and more vulnerable. While this stranger wasn’t particularly tall for a Shil, that still made for a five or six inch height difference. “You are pretty cute…”
“Dad said no more cute discounts!” Faye’s attention was drawn to the younger girl, who had been watching the whole exchange from a few steps back. The darkening purple blush on her face matched Faye’s own red one.
“You’re no fun!” The Shil mock glared at her (step?)daughter, then turned back to Faye. “Seriously, though, as long as the mass and volume are small the cost to get this sort of thing here isn’t too bad. Say twenty percent. It'll be more if you want anything big or our buyer has to go to a specialty store, but we can do that too. It will still be a lot cheaper than trying to import anything yourself.”
“Twenty percent isn’t bad.” It was a great deal, honestly. Faye doubted they’d be doing much more than breaking even on her little orders. She closed her eyes for a second, clearing her mind. She could feel the spray canister in her bag, pressing against the inside of her arm. Its presence was reassuring. “Can I add an absolutely no flirting policy to our agreement?”
The woman nodded, suddenly looking abashed. “Sorry, I forgot Human women aren’t normally into other girls. I didn’t mean to upset you.”
Whether or not Faye was into girls was irrelevant, but she wasn’t about to get into an argument about it. Instead, she turned a few pages back and forth, adding a few more odds and ends to the list that she hadn’t been able to find in University City. Much of the list consisted of condiments and seasonings that might help make the Shil instant meals Faye had been purchasing a little more palatable.
By the time they were done, Faye had an order totaling a couple hundred credits and a promise that she would have her goods in three to four weeks. Before she left she made a point of stocking up on junk food and picked up a few English-language graphic novels that looked interesting. She rounded out the visit with a couple decks of playing cards. Tomorrow was game night, after all. She should be at least somewhat prepared.
This is a fanfic that takes place in the “Between Worlds” universe (aka Sexy Space Babes), created and owned by u/BlueFishcake
. No ownership of the settings or core concepts is expressed or implied by myself.
This is for fun. Can’t you just have fun?
submitted by UncleCeiling
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2023.06.10 03:42 Alpha-Sierra-Charlie Contractors 15.7 - Trial Run
Paltdorf/Taltha jointly-owned habitat
“New Cadenza”, O’Neill Cylinder
The Ganthulls were wanting to break the entire planetary system of the gas planet Hepiter from the control of a shadowy cabal of Grand Houses based in the inner solar system. Step one is breaking the grip of their more loyal vassals operating within Hepiter’s system. Step one of that is sowing chaos and confusion among them, turning them against each other and leaving the cabal with no tools to use. Step one of THAT involves us being jammed into panel vans as tightly as possible disguised as gangers.
The tight confines were about to bring us to our breaking point, but then John yelled “Aight boys, let’s go!” over the radio and it was time for step two. Three panel vans flung their doors open and Gallowglasses dressed in a riot of colors and crazy masks jumped out with automatic rifles and charged the Taltha security barracks. It was shift change, and about twenty of the expected fifty personnel were outside in the courtyard area. Most of them went down immediately, a few tried to shoot back and died. A few ran inside and we followed them. Tires squealed behind us as the vans sped away and more whipped in to dump more of our guys. John got to the door just ahead of me and wrenched it open as Johnson’s team finished off the thrashing survivors outside. The poor aelflung trying to lock the door got dragged out with it, and I swatted him aside and to the ground. Tippery double-tapped him in the face and I pounded into the room and hooked left, dropping the guy in my way with a burst before he could line up a shot with his pistol. I shot the only other guy in the room in the back as he was beating on the door leading out of the lobby and into the back. I dumped the rest of my magazine through the wall to each side of the door as John rushed in, followed by Tippery, Thriktikt, Attrull, and Buster. I rocked in a fresh magazine and slapped the bolt closed on my rifle while Buster rolled a grenade through the gap under the bulletproof glass over the entry desk and onto the floor behind it.
There was a short scream before the grenade blew, so Buster rolled another one in to be certain. It blew and John blasted the hinges out of the door with his shotgun and kicked it in savagely. What was left of the hinges tore chunks of cheap plasterboard out of the wall as the thin metal door buckled and flew into the next room, followed by a flashbang. John whipped into the room after it blew, me right behind him. He shot the first enemy in the hip and then through the chest before he could fall, spun the next one around with a shot to the shoulder that nearly tore his arm off, and gave the third one a “canoe” with a shot to the forehead. A fourth enemy darted out of the room deeper into the building and John fired his last two rounds through the wall after him. I finished off One Arm and John slung the shotgun and drew his pistol, darted to the door and finished off the wounded guy he’d shot through the wall. I covered him as he holstered the pistol (the normal one, a priceless blaster would be at odds with our disguise) and stuffed a fresh magazine into his shotgun.
Johnson’s team joined us and we finished clearing the building. Most of the security force inside had run and set up outside with a large group of Paltdorf reinforcements, about forty guys in total. We had two doors and several windows to shoot out of, but we held our fire and stayed out of sight. John radioed for the vans out front to go, and when the security personnel heard them speed off they started walking back to the building. When the first one was fifteen yards from the door Meatball and Wiggles raked them with machine guns from a hidden position down the street. Everyone else who wasn’t driving something or in our building hit them from that same flank, and when the enemy turned to face our guys we charged out into the street.
They didn’t have a chance to react before we were right on top of them. I buried my dirk to the hilt in the first one and took the second’s arm off at the elbow before slashing him across the throat. I glanced to my right and saw John with an aelflung pinned to the ground under his boot. He grabbed a handful of the alien’s hair and snatched, tearing the scalp from the skull with a ripping sound before crushing that skull under his boot. I turned to my next target and lunged, but his shot grazed my forearm and caused my to drop my dirk. My momentum carried me forward and I crashed into him, slamming him into the next guy and all three of us went down in the street. They struggled to get back up, I punched the nearest one in the jaw and rocked him. I grabbed the other one by the legs and dragged him closer. I got his pistol away from him and smashed him across the face with it. The cheap plastic frame broke like his teeth, and I grabbed him by the head and smashed it into the pavement until I felt a CRACK and he started twitching. I spun around to finish of the first one, but he’d recovered quicker than I expected. He lunged drunkenly with a knife of his own.
I caught his knife arm by the wrist and wrenched it away, and let his momentum bring him into range.
I bit him across the face, tearing through the skin of the forehead so the blood would flow into his eyes and blind him. I elbowed him in the eye socket with my free arm and clamped down on the forearm holding the knife. I jerked and shook, feeling his muscles and tendons tear and pop in my mouth. He couldn’t hold the knife any more. I shoved his head head back and went for the throat, crushing the soft tissue until I felt the bones of his neck under my teeth and shook him like a toy, then ripped out everything forward of the spine and spit it out. I grabbed my fallen dirk and scalped him with it, I’d never mastered John’s grab-and-snatch method.
The fighting had moved on. Enemy reinforcements had arrived and were already falling back, on the verge of a rout. John was holding the severed head of the Taltha security chief aloft and fired his shotgun one-handed while belting out wild rebel yells. The rest of our assault force advanced with him, yelling and screaming their own taunts and war cries. I unslung my rifle and howled, joining them in the press.
Gods, it was just like the old days!
SEVERAL HOURS LATER
The Taltha and Paltdorf forces were in complete disarray across the entire station. The civilian population was panicked and the local criminal groups were taking full advantage of the chaos. The intra-planetary trade and finance summit the Ganthulls were officially here for had been postponed and the delegates sent back to their lodgings. They felt the current state of affairs left them feeling that the threat of us reporting to them in person immediately was low, so here we were walking through the front door of a building in a compound much like the one we were billeted in. Elissa’s frilly-necked seneschal met us, visibly recoiled at our appearance, and led us to the small conference room our clients were in. I could hear the news feed inside and the chatter as the occupants discussed it. This was going to be interesting.
John walked through the door before Fancypants could open it and announce us, and I followed on his heels. The conversation stopped as we marched our filthy asses in.
John walked directly up to the table and pulled one of the two bottles out the ice bucket in the middle and dropped the House Taltha security chief’s head in it’s place before filling up a ridiculously delicate looking goblet with wine and handing it to me before filling one up to himself. He filled them all the way to the brim, knowing full well that you’re supposed to leave room. Ok, full belligerence it is…
John plopped down in a chair and kicked his filthy, blood-encrusted boots up onto the table as he leaned back. I pulled a chair of my own out and pulled up close so I could set my overfilled glass down and lap out of it like it was a puddle. Dried blood and the grime of fighting in the streets flaked off of my violently yellow shirt. Well, it used to be violently yellow.
“So, what’d’ja think?” he asked with a tilt of his glass, before pouring half of it directly down his throat. He looked at it quizzically, “Will that yield the desired results?”
Elissa sat immobile, either in shock at our actions or disgust in our appearance. Or vice versa. Maybe both. Great Lord Jakkris Ganthull sat completely still except for a single finger tapping the tabletop, with an absolutely neutral expression on his face. Chrastoff was wearing a look of utter shock, which changed to fear, which quickly flashed to anger as he stood up.
“W-why did you do those things? That went far beyond engaging the foe, that went beyond even cold-hearted murder! You mutilated the dead! You mutilated the LIVING! You took trophies? You-you…” he trailed off as he gestured at the bodiless chilling in the now-red ice. John had emptied his goblet, and he dropped his feet and leaned forward to take the other bottle out the ice. Red drops splatted on the table as he refilled first his goblet, then mine when I drained it and held it out for him. He took a sip, the streaks where the bloody water had washed away some of the filth on his hand making it even more noticeable.
“Yes. Please explain these… actions,” Old Man Ganthull added.
John locked eyes with Chrastoff “You hired ‘savages’, did you not? Is ‘savage’ not what you wanted when you hired us and called us ‘savages’?”
Chrastoff sat down shakily, at a loss for words.
OMG nodded. “Point taken. Your capabilities are certainly not in doubt and,” he looked over at his son pointedly, “you WILL be afforded the respect you are due. You AND your people. Is that correct, children?”
“Yes, father” they chorused.
“Now, tell me why you chose to do these things."
John looked back at OMG. "The entire goal of this operation is to concentrate House Taltha and House Paltdorf resources here on their home turf, thereby weakening their presence elsewhere in Hepiter's system, correct?"
OMG nodded, and John continued.
"We didn't just create a scene, we created a panic. Vicious alien thugs scalping and beheading and murdering security personnel in the streets, during broad daylight hours! We didn't just threaten their security and authority, we threatened their very legitimacy. They're already unpopular with their lower and middle classes, and a brazen attack like this will not only make that worse, but will embolden criminal and rebellious groups. They aren't going to have a calm, measured, well thought out response to this. They're going to overreact and pull way more resources back than they need to. They're going to rip this place apart looking for a continued threat that no longer exists, and they won't believe they aren't finding it because it's no longer there and they're going to make a whole new slew of problems because of that."
"You think that your spectacle will achieve that?" the old man asked.
John just pointed at the wallscreen, where the news anchor was reporting that Central Habitat Security was withdrawing forces from several other habitats and installations to "ensure the safety of those of us here at home on New Cadenze".
"See, my children? I told you they would meet our needs," Great Lord Ganthull smiled as he stood to leave. "Just make sure that you keep them occupied with our cause. And by the Blessed Sky of Aelvald, make sure you pay them."
submitted by Alpha-Sierra-Charlie
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2023.06.10 02:02 its_sarah_ig My Fiancé thinks I have autism and idk who I am anymore
Me (20F) and my fiancé (20M) have been together since freshman year of high school and honestly he's been my second longest friendship. And in the last year he's been urging me to get screened for autism. I'm on mobile and tired to none of this will make sense.
I've always been a weird kid. I've had an insane obsession with Harry potter since pretty much birth. My mom took me to all the movies as they came out and read the books to me instead of little kids books. I know the story inside and out, backwards and forwards. Hell, I've started read the novels in French now too. Birthdays were harry potter themed, Halloween, etc. All of it harry potter. (Im a ravenclaw). Anyway this obsession carries to this day and honestly I've always thought it was normal. Everybody has their thing.
Other than the weird harry potter crap, I always had trouble with social cues. I still don't really understand sarcasm and don't make faces at me because idk what they mean. Not to mention negation iwhen speaking. Half the time I couldn't really understand the difference between yes and no. Idk how to word it but sometimes the way someone would answer a question, I would not no what they meant. like no in agreement or disagreement? Idk it makes sense to me, but i know what I'm saying is just gibberish.
Besides the weird obsession, I was ahead of the other kids and socially awkward. I did not talk unless my life depended on it, and I would often get in trouble being in my own world. I was diagnosed with ADHD in high school, so I just wrote that off. I also stimmed a lot, and I got bullied for it. I would hum this low not that would tickle my brain, but drive everyone crazy. I flicked my two middle fingers and would twist my legs in all sorts of knots. And when my hair was long, I'd grab it and flap it against my ears. Let's just say I was like fresh meat for bullies. It got to the point were I wouldn't talk at all in middle school, and I would whisper my orders to my mom up until I was 16.
And textures and clothing, oh God the textures. You could not put me in a turtle neck ever. I also thought thus was normal. Turtle necks are ugly anyways. I can't wear flannel that's too tight, and I can't touch cardboard if my nails are too long. And the sound of teeth grinding, or wet rubber, or even touching of balloons send me. I would break down and cry and whenever someone asks me what's wrong all I can say is "Im out of words or I dont know" because in the moment it feels like everything is wrong.
All of this I thought was normal, or at least my ADHD, which my therapist recommended I try to manage it with caffeine in the morning. (if you dont want meds, trust me it works). Every so often I'd say or do something, and my fiancé would say, "i think you may have autism." or something along those lines. He's even picked up that when things get to crazy, he just stops talking and gives me my earbuds so I can drown things out. He even unplug the cat fountain and lowers the lights. I don't even ask, he just does it. And by God does it help. When it's warm, he suggests I go swing in my hammock chair and he'll send me with a blankie. (literally the love of my life). He sat down with me recently and strongly suggested I go get screened. Idk what benefit knowing would be or if it's something that I can get help for. or even if I need help. I don't have a primary care doctor, so I scheduled a new patient appointment online. In the notes, I mentioned a screening.
Any thoughts???? I really just think it's my ADHD but I could be wrong. I was also diagnosed with some other mental health issues, but I don't think it's relevant here. But I also know ADHD and autism go hand in hand, like depression and anxiety. You got one, you might also have the other. idk I'm just lost and mildly nervous about the whole thing.
EDIT: I also had a rigid schedule before I was old enough to work part time. If I didn't shower at 6 and go to bed at 9 or example, I would lose my sh*t
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2023.06.10 01:57 Frank_Leroux Molossus, Chapter Nineteen
First Chapter Chapter Eighteen
Chao peered at the holographic display at the front of the landing boat as she talked to an international audience. “Okay, folks! You can now see the Coalition Exploration Bureau’s ship Exultant Finger of Rithro
. It’s missing its usual armor configuration; normally, this corvette would have triangular cones of armor at the front and back. But they re-configured that armor material into a shell to prevent us from seeing them as they flew towards Earth. Merely as a precaution; they flipped the shell around a few weeks ago to display their ship to us. They even extended their radiators towards our planet, which to them is a signal of surrender.”
She smiled at Parvati, who floated next to her. “Pretty cool, right?”
“Very cool indeed!” exclaimed Parvati. “So where is the damage?”
Chao pointed. “See these toroidal tanks around the middle of the ship? They hold hydrogen for the ship’s fusion drive, but after tangling with that Breaker some of them got punctured. You can see the holes there, there, and there. That means they’re now limited in how long they can burn the reactor. Plus the FTL drive is now pretty much kaput. It apparently uses a lot of energy.”
Parvati pondered the display. “Faster than light,” she mused. “We need that. After we get the fusion drive technology, of course. Assuming that ever comes out of committee.”
Chao laughed. “Well, that’s why we’re here, right? To show all of humanity what could be ours.”
“Will we go outside? I mean, for real outside?” The actress reached towards the display, halting when she realized there was no physical screen.
“We’ve got pressure suits. Should be okay, we did plan for going out for a few minutes to get some direct video. It’ll be limited in time, those suits aren’t really meant for proper EVAs…”
“Oh, that’s no problem!” said Takh from behind them, causing both women to do the equivalent of a zero-g jump. For someone so big, he somehow managed to just…arrive on the scene. “We’ve got plenty of components on board, we can make you all some proper hardsuits!” He grinned at the camera on Chao’s chest; watching an udhyr grin was an awe-inspiring sight, what with all of the teeth and mandibles. “It’s all snap-together for any body type, it works just like your Legos!”
Parvati, of course, was the first to regain her composure. “Thank you Takh, I’m sure that will be very welcome. One thing has occurred to me; even if our material is successful in allowing you to patch your tanks, you will still require hydrogen to fill them, yes?”
The XO’s cheer didn’t fade. “Of course. We’ll find a nearby ice-containing body and extract us some hydrogen. We already have a few candidates chosen. You can all come and ride along! It should be fun to watch.”
“Yes, very fun.” Parvati met Chao’s eyes in a clear unspoken message of is this guy for real?
A much smaller hand crept its way around Takh’s leather-armored shoulder. “Now, my dear,” said McCoy. “We mustn’t interrupt the PR people. They’re half the reason we’re out here, after all.” She winked at the two other women; both of the latter winked back.
“Oh, of course!” Takh bowed formally to the two. “Forgive me.”
“No worries,” said Chao.
“There is nothing to forgive, my good sir,” replied Parvati with an equally formal bow.
The huge alien and petite corporal vanished, leaving the two women to watch the ship as the boat headed for its docking cradle.
“They are utterly adorable,” said Parvati.
“So are you two,” said Chao.
“You and Ravindar. I’m not saying to make your move right now. We’re gonna be on camera for a while, and I know I just made a bunch of people on Earth go squee
. But you need to tell him how you feel.”
For once the actress looked flustered. “I…I couldn’t, he’s so brave and strong…”
Chao’s voice sounded out like the slamming of a vault door. “Stop. I had the same problem. I was into someone who was brave and strong. Not as big as Ravindar, but then again few people are. Then I found out he was into me too, but because he thought I was smart. I’m not as smart as he thinks I am, but I’m not going to tell him that.”
Parvati glanced into the rear of the landing boat, where Martinez was in the midst of puttering around with the human and alien crew. The actress now looked thoughtful. “I see.”
“All I’m saying is, you don’t need to be exactly in-sync in terms of what you see in each other.” Chao smiled. “Heck, you might even find out that you’re in-sync in ways you didn’t see coming.”
The dark-haired Indian fixed Chao with a stare. “I sense there is a story somewhere in there that you’re not telling me. Ah well, as you say it can wait until we are all no longer under the camera’s gaze.”
Master Sergeant Wilkes smiled down at the spidery alien. “Kifa, there’s someone I’d like you to meet. Consider it part of your helping us to train. This person made a living while driving one of the highest, fastest aircraft we’ve ever made.”
“Oooh!” Kifa looked very pleased at the idea. “That’s a good area to focus on! Where orbital mechanics and aircraft mechanics meet.”
“Indeed.” Wilkes nodded at the near door. “You may come in, sir.”
A man walked in, his face stretched taut in the way which only scar tissue can appear.
Kifa peered up at him. “Forgive me, this is probably very insensitive, but…were you injured?”
He laughed. “I sure was! Burned to a fare-thee-well!”
“Oh, I am so sorry!”
He smiled. “No need to be sorry. Hey, do you want a headpat? Word on the street is your species like that sort of thing.”
The xyrax rocked back and forth on its legs. “Well, a human headpat is always welcome….”
The man reached up and wiggled his fingers, making a great show that his pinky had full range of motion. “See this? Pure miracle that I can do that. The surgeon putting my hand back together, just on a whim, decided to put a pin in here so’s that my pinky finger can grasp properly. Good thing too, otherwise I would’ve never made it through the physical training.”
He then reached forth and with that rebuilt hand dispensed quite a few righteous headpats onto Kifa. After a mutual moment of happy bonding, the xyrax spoke again.
“What training were you pursuing?”
“The same thing you and I are gonna be doing for a week or so.” His eyes, narrowed with scar tissue, lit up. “My dear Kifa, I’m gonna make you into a Sled Driver. God willing and the creek don’t rise, we might get to do it for real and not just in the simulators. They’re already pulling a bunch of Blackbirds out of mothballs. Hell, even the Russians are offering us titanium for building new ones. Seems like everybody’s got a fire lit under their kiester.”
Kifa’s eyes, already big and black, got even bigger. “What is a Sled Driver?”
“Why, it’s only the best profession on the planet, my little blue-furred friend. We get to go fast.
Joachim regarded the cylindrical, human-sized tank with some trepidation. It looked far too much like a transparent coffin. “You want to stick me in that thing?”
Zawahir nodded. “I know it’s a lot to ask, sir. It is entirely up to you, in the end. But if this works…” He waved at the tank. “If this works, then you will emerge from that tank physically in your twenties.”
They both regarded the tank for a moment, which was full of a clear and, at the moment, a very exclusive
“Corina too, of course,” said Joachim as he leaned back in his wheelchair. “If it works on me first.” He still wasn’t quite sure where he was; there had been a lot of back-and-forth with planes and whatnot.
“Of course,” said Zawahir. “That goes without saying.”
“Then the two people injured in the DC attack. This will regrow their limbs, correct?”
“Well, naturally.” Zawahir smirked. “They’re the Borlaug Institute’s big publicity stunt, after all. Testing on two people before-hand should be enough to let us know if it’ll work on them.”
“Of course.” Joachim gazed at the tank. “I’ll do it, on one condition.”
“If…if I don’t come out okay, I want everyone to know that I tried, right? And I do mean everyone. All of humanity.”
“I’m just one person. At the moment, I can only promise that I’ll say what I can.”
After a moment, Joachim nodded. “Then put me in there. I just need to talk to Corina beforehand.”
“Of course, sir.”
The blue-suited woman with a blonde pony-tail smiled as she stared into the camera. “Welcome to Summit Technologies’s livestream of Point-Counterpoint, I’m Amy Coulson. We are currently talking about and debating the latest announcements in space-based systems. As everyone is aware, this has become a source of great concern in the last month or so.” She nodded to the beige-suited man next to her. “This is Walter Higgins, formerly of TRW and who now works for Northrop-Grumman. Walter, to start with can you tell us what the current status is of the repair effort for the alien craft?”
Walt leaned forward, putting his forearms on the desk in front of them. “Well, the main concern is if the plates we’re providing for patching will actually work. So only one of the Rithro’s
boats was launched…the one with Chao Me Chu and Parvati Devdhar, they’re towing the fifteen-ton loft provided by ULA to avoid wasting too much energy. Just in case the patching doesn’t work.” He winked at the camera. “I assure you, as someone in the aerospace industry, ULA is going to be very proud of that for a good long while. Anyways, at the moment, they are approaching the L5 point and we should be able to get some spectacular pictures of, well, everything. Of the Earth from near the Moon’s orbit, of the Moon itself, and most importantly of the Rithro
Amy nodded in a comradely fashion, but Walt was not fooled. He’d dealt with reporters before. “Sounds intriguing, and I’m sure everyone on Earth looks forward to such sights. But mere patching will not be enough to solve the ship’s issues, correct?”
He sighed. “You’re right. One of the ship’s fusion engines was damaged, and that limits their top speed. Think of it as…you’re a big ocean liner with three propellers, and one goes down. You might still be able to steer using just the other two, but you’re not going to be as effective or fast as you might be.”
“Effective,” she mused. “I suppose that our helping fix their fusion drive is among those bits of alien tech currently prohibited?”
“Yes. I have heard some rumors that the Borlaug Institute in Iceland has had some great initial success, so I hope that soon we will be able to tackle the fusion drive problem.”
She stared at him a bit, which he knew was a bit of theatricality. “Such a repair would make them more capable against these so-called ‘Breakers’, correct?”
“So-called? Now, Amy. Don’t tell me you’re agreeing with those lunatics?”
In the weeks since the simultaneous attacks, a few manifestos had cropped up online. All mostly spouted the same nonsense; at least, nonsense in Walt’s eyes. They all said the same thing; that the Breakers were fake. That this whole rigamarole was a false flag effort by the Coalition, one intended to get all of humanity under their thumb.
“I don’t agree with them,” said Amy, to her credit. “I’m merely stating the other side of the conflict. Yes, I think most people agree that there is an alien ship up at the L5 point which has been grievously damaged. I do trust the evidence of my eyes. I’m sure our two…”
“…five brave souls heading out to that very point at L5 will see exactly the same thing as the Hubble did. But. Have you considered, just for the sake of argument, that evidence of an attack is not evidence of Breakers? Perhaps this is some local dispute, and the crew has set up some sort of fake attack. They could intend to use us as shock troops to settle it.”
Walt leaned back in his chair as he went through the longest twenty seconds of his life. He knew things, thanks to his role. He also knew that if he spoke them aloud he would be burning his entire career right down to the waterline. “That is somewhat possible. But not probable.”
She leaned forward, as if sensing she had him on the ropes. “Why?”
“Because they didn’t need to.” His gray eyes were calm as he stared at her and measured his words. “Do you have any notion, any single clue, of the firepower that ship possesses?”
“Um…well, no, that part’s still classified.”
“I will give you a hint. They have a spinal railgun that could, with around three shots, turn any metropolitan area on earth into a molten crater. They have nuclear-tipped missiles, even one of which could burn a city to the ground. They didn’t need to play nice, Amy
. Those aliens could have stood off in orbit, smacked a few cities, and then gotten on the radio to dictate terms of our surrender. We’d have no choice but to comply.”
He stared daggers at her, half expecting some black-suited guys with earpieces to jump in and haul him away. But nothing happened, it was as if the world was holding its breath. “They did their very best to treat with us fairly, to treat us as equals.”
Amy looked away. “I…I hope that is true.”
“It is.” He glanced behind his shoulder for any Men In Black, but nobody was there so far. Maybe he should continue. He assumed a smile, one which he did not feel. “Anyways. We will see what they see, when they get there. There is, also, the international consortium’s proposal for the Sea Dragon.”
The reporter rallied, clearly grateful for the change in subject. “Ah, yes. You’ve reviewed the designs of this craft. Is it really necessary?”
“At the moment, yes. Starship holds a great deal of promise, but they’re still trying to crack the reusability and multiple-refueling issue. This design does permit reusability…of the first stage, if nothing else…but it isn’t strictly necessary for success. Success, in this case, consists of tons to orbit.”
“Why something so big, though? Won’t it be an issue?”
He chuckled, feeling surer of himself. “That’s why we’re launching it in the ocean, in the middle of nowhere.”
She actually looked troubled, so he figured he’d throw her a bone. “The first launch won’t have anything…controversial.”
“But Walt, the second launch is the issue! Nobody has launched this much radioactive material into space.”
“We need to, Amy,”
“But on an almost untested rocket? From a design which is decades old?”
“We have top people on it,” said Walt. “Including people from that era, who know exactly the pitfalls and also have access to modern technology.”
“It’s still secret as to their identities. But like I said, I can confirm rumors that the Borlaug Institute is already paying significant dividends.”
Amy rolled her eyes. “Over a billion dollars funneled into a figurative black hole in Iceland. Why would you believe anything they say?”
“They’re going to have some serious proof soon,” said Walt.
Iceland. Joachim had never, ever expected to visit Iceland. But yet here he was…again. He stood with no cane, with nothing supporting him but his own two legs. He stared at a nearby volcanic massif, one covered with green lichen. The spring was coming in, and the ground around him was similarly strewn with fuzzy green growth. His beard and hair were now coming in dark again, with only a hint of gray at the tips to betray his true age.
He heard some light-footed steps coming up the trail behind him. It must be Zawahir.
“Why the hell am I back in Iceland?” Joachim replied.
"This is where the tech is, at least for the moment. How are you feeling, sir?”
“I feel…like my old self, Zawahir. I forgot what it was like to have knees that don’t hurt anymore. How is Corina’s, er, ‘tanking’ proceeding?”
“Very well, sir. I am overseeing the procedure of her ‘tanking’ myself, I just wanted to come and let you know that everything is looking good.”
Joachim looked down at the back of his hand. It was no longer wrinkled, no longer showed a welter of age spots. “When?”
“She should be out in…seventy-two hours. That’s how long it took you.”
“Good to know.” He turned to face Zawahir. “My friend, I am going to need every single internet connection you have for the next seventy-two hours. I have a lot of design work to take care of in that time frame; I will need to have a lot of meetings using those oh-so-clever ‘online’ apps. I’ll be indisposed after that.”
Joachim stepped forth and placed a newly-strong hand on Zawahir’s shoulder. “My dear Zawahir. I am now physically twenty again. In the next three days my wife, the love of my life and she who I hold dear above all else, will also emerge from your magic alien goo and she will also be physically twenty years old. What do you think will happen after she is thus reborn?”
Zawahir’s eyes widened. “Oh. OH! Yes, of course. Please, follow me.”
Joachim chuckled to himself as he followed the man towards the low-roofed buildings of the Borlaug Institute in the distance.
Chao was now clad back in her pressure suit; fortunately, the aliens were quite adept at helping the humans back into their cloth-and-glass cocoons. She looked over at Parvati. “Neil can bite us.”
Parvati grinned. “For sure. Neil was a very great man, but sadly he never got to see an alien starship.”
Chao checked the readout at her wrist, ensuring that she was indeed sealed up and pressurized. She looked over at her four fellow humans, and received nods in return. “We’re go, Captain Sadaf.”
The on-board crew of the Rithro
were now back in their chromed, faceted hardsuits. “Depressurizing,” said Sadaf. “Please monitor those to either side, sing out if you see any stress.”
Chao reminded herself to breathe normally as things just got…quiet. Very quiet. She managed, through sheer willpower, to not have an utter panic attack as she realized that there was nothing between her and a life-sucking nothing
except for a few layers of fabric and plastic.
She glanced over at Parvati, who looked to be also in the midst of trying (and fortunately succeeding) at combating her own panic attack behind her Plexiglas helmet. “Doing okay?” asked Chao, and immediately felt like an idiot for asking such a stupid question.
Still, Parvati nodded. Chao felt a tap at her shoulder, and looked over at Martinez. The corporal grinned at her from behind his own transparent head-cocoon. “Doing okay?” he asked with just the right bit of cheekiness.
Chao slapped his shoulder, but it was a playful slap. “Dipshit.” She forgot, in the moment, that she was begin transmitted live to the world. Her curse was thus broadcast to pretty much every kid on the planet, who then gleefully repeated her curse-word until they all got smacked by their parents.
She didn’t know that at the time, her entire world was the airlock door that now opened to reveal…black.
Chao had enough experience in zero-g maneuvering to push herself towards the door. “Oh. Man. Folks, this is it. Gonna step outside, for at least a little bit.”
She could feel both Martinez on one side and Sadaf on the other. The latter figured; the captain struck Chao as a ‘lead from the front’ type.
“Grip the frame,” said Sadaf. Through the translator bead her voice was deadly calm. “No big muscle movements, just kind of…drift where you want to go.”
Chao obediently swung herself up and out of the boat, reveling in the fact that now she was seeing the Exultant Finger of Rithro
in real time. The long ship stretched alongside a clamshell-like shield, its radiators stretched out towards the Earth in a gesture of surrender.
Speaking of which…
Chao kept a firm hold on the doorframe as she looked behind her. A small, fragile, blue-and-white marble floated before her, a sphere which looked to be the size of her thumb-tip held at arm’s length. Chao did so with her free gloved hand, watching her thumb occlude that fragile-loooking sphere. And in that moment, her world was completely changed.
It is one thing to know a fact. It is one thing to meet aliens, to accept that they are from oh so very far away, that your world is but one little dust mote drifting in the vast and limitless cosmic ocean. But it is quite another to see that fact laid bare before you, where you can witness it in real-time through nothing but a Pexiglas helmet. Chao now knew. Everyone she’d ever known, everyone she’d ever heard of, every king or warlord or emperor or internet celebrity who anyone had ever heard of had lived down there, upon a sphere that looked to her like the most ephemeral of soap-bubbles. She had the crazy notion that she could just reach out one gloved finger and pop it.
She also knew that millions, perhaps billions, were watching this live via her bodycam. Perhaps they were going through the same epiphany.
Her breath caught in her throat, and she knew she was on the verge of tears. No, that was a bad thing. She was in freefall; there was no way for those tears to stream down her face. They would just collect over her eyes and blind her. So Chao breathed in deep and managed to tamp down those threatened tears.
“Chao?” called out Sadaf through her comm. “Are you all right?”
“I’m good, Captain. Just…next time…, we send up a poet.”
Shaw hated, hated, hated having to use a wheelchair to get around. Most of the time he could wheel himself around using his substantial arms, but every so often the nursing staff would try to get oh so helpful and try to push him towards where he was going. Several of them had nearly lost limbs of their own thanks to such efforts.
Still, he was alive and that was a good thing. Although…watching Agent Milton Vila and his family, who were nearby as he went through his own convalescence, made Shaw reevaluate his life choices. It would be nice to have a wife and kid to hug while one went through the worst thing ever. But he was too old, such things were well behind him. While on autopilot, Shaw wheeled himself down the tiled and very off-white hallway with a sour air. One which told the entire staff that he was Not To Be Disturbed. He was thinking of a particular girl, one with the cutest pigtails and the sunniest smile. Yeah, she would have been the one, if he’d had his head on straight back then.
And then, in spite of his ‘Fuck the Fuck Off energy’, someone did block his path.
He stared at a pair of narrow legs, clad in narrow pants, then looked up with a distinct lack of humor. “I do believe you are in my way.”
The dark-skinned man blocking his path smiled, but it was a gentle smile. “I am. But, I am very sure you will want to hear my offer. Both you and Agent Vila.”
Shaw regarded him with gimlet eyes. “Oh, really? What’s your name?”
“I’m Zawahir Ibn Harith. I am the head of the…”
“I don’t give a single solitary fuck,” said Shaw. “I’ve had plenty of people trying to get me to tell them my life story since I got my leg removed with extreme prejudice. I don’t know how you got in here, but you strike me as someone just like them, Harith. So. I may be minus one leg, but I can still fuck you up but good. I can fuck you up so bad you’ll never shit right again. Do you wanna get out of my way now?”
The man’s smile didn’t change. “Borlaug Institute.”
“Really, sir. Both you and Agent Milton Vila. It sounds…very cynical, but you were the two that we wanted to heal first. As an object lesson to humanity. Do you understand?”
The notion made Shaw’s mind reel. “Heal?”
“Fully. We have successfully restored two people to the prime of life, and we are now certain that we can do the same for you and Agent Vila. With all of your limbs intact. We have done a great many tissue-sample experiments, and it appears that the regeneration also re-grows limbs.”
Shaw looked down at his missing lower leg. “And you’ll do the same for Milton?”
“Of course, sir.”
“Stop calling me sir, I work for a living. Call me Mack.”
“Very well…Mack. I won’t lie to you, this has been planned well in advance. But it turned out that limb re-growth for humans also unlocked certain regeneration within our cells, particularly the telomeres…”
Shaw held up a meaty hand. “Just…I’m a dumb grunt in such matters, don’t bother to tell me how it works. So you have some kind of magic goo that you slather over me and hey presto I’m twenty again?”
“That is more or less the shape of it, si…Mack. You will need to be immersed in the ‘magic goo’ for at least three days. Perhaps more, since this will also be regenerating a limb.”
“Either way, I go first,” said Shaw, with a flinty glare up at Zawahir. “I’m the test subject, and you need to test me good after I get re-birthed from your goop. I know you said you’d done it on two people, but we need to make sure this doesn’t give me some kind of bullshit super-cancer before Milton goes in. He’s got a wife and a kid. If he has to use a prosthetic instead of magic alien goo, then he has to use that instead. Understand?”
Zawahir gave Shaw a little bow. “Of course. I do believe you are quite the appropriate test subject.”
“Oh, go fuck yourself. Where is this shindig taking place, anyway?”
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2023.06.10 01:15 CringeyVal0451 Two Girls, One Cuck (Funky P. Beard, Part 6)
Chapter 6: Two Girls, One Cuck
Me: Is he always like this during gaming weekends, or is this all my fault?
Athena: He’s always ranting and raving about his crusade of the week. And he usually gets into a screaming match with Mori over something dumb. But this is some next-level rage.
Sage (to Athena): You ummm... told...
Athena: She knows, babe. She already knew.
Sage: Okay. So sorry about that, by the way.
Me: It’s fine. It’s nothing new.
Sage: He usually has some nasty chick come over on Friday or Saturday. They go... do whatever they do, and then he comes back either completely chill or completely enraged. And fucking RANK.
Me: Maybe I should have packed his fleshlight for him.
Axton: Why the hell does he need a fleshlight when he’s got you?
Me: Oh, he hardly ever tries to do anything with me. And the last few times he tried; he was too plastered.
Snorlax: Whisky wang?
Axton: That’s criminally negligent. Do you need a hug?
I smiled. “It’s fine. The whisky wang lets me off the hook. But I’m not gonna turn down a hug.”
I crawled over to him and let his arms envelop me. As I had been starved for affection for nearly a year, this was better than sex. Underneath the general aura of cigarette smoke and whiskey that permeated the room, I could smell his skin. It was intoxicating. So I nestled into that rare, delicate balance of euphoria and tranquility until we heard the back door open and close. Axton and I scrambled to opposite sides of the room. But it was just Mori.
Mori (grinning mischievously): What did I walk in on?
Athena: Nothing that would excite you, Mori.
Mori approached me and sat down. “I think he’s chilled out. Right now, he just needs to know that you’re not mad at him. Are you up for going to talk to him.”
I blinked. “I am mad at him. I’m embarrassed. And anything I say to him is just gonna piss him off.” Plus, I was high as a fucking kite on Adderall and affection. “Let me think about it for a minute?”
I considered a novel approach. After the puke-inducing fight that he’d had with Mori last night, they had made peace. I decided I would mimic Mori’s actions and try call a truce with as few words as possible, which would ideally prevent FPB wasting hours playing the victim and assassinating my character.
Me: I’ll let him know that it’s chill. That’s all I can do.
I headed for the back door and stepped onto the porch.
He grunted. He was sitting slumped in a chair on the porch, smoking a cigarette. I moved around so that I was standing in front of him and I offered my hand.
FPB: From now on, you only talk to Athena and Sage. No talking to ANY of the single dudes.
He was pointing his cigarette at me and punctuating each phrase with a little jab of the cherry in my direction.
Me: That’s not reasonable. Would you prefer it if I just left? How am I supposed to play if I’m not allowed to talk to half the people on the team? Or the GM?
FPB: Then you only talk about game-related stuff. Mori’s junk doesn’t go anywhere near you, you don’t share beer with Snorlax, and you don’t so much as look at pretty boy, Axton.
Me: If it’s game-related stuff, Axton’s the one I need to be talking to the most. You talk to Snorlax when we’re planning an attack.
FPB: That’s different.
FPB: Because Snorlax isn’t trying to get in my PANTS.
So much for a succinct truce. I decided to try and steer the conversation in a different direction.
Me: I’m being serious. I tagged along this weekend so that I could try to have FUN learning to play this game you love so much. (I extended my hand more fervently.) Peace?
FPB: Swear to me that you won’t so much as look at that jizz-mopping pretty boy.
Me: Only if you swear to me that some girl didn’t come over here to hook up with you last night.
FPB went white.
Me: It is what it is. But if you get to receive booty calls here, I’m allowed to interact with your friends. ALL of them.
FPB grunted dismissively.
I wanted to say, “If you’re allowed to LICK, I’m allowed to LOOK.” Again, I refrained from deliberately angering FPB out of respect for the other people whose time was being disrupted by his rage. And he was no longer snarling and shouting. That was as about as good as it was gonna get. I went back inside and took my seat. Everyone looked at me, appearing anxious to hear what had happened.
Me: Well, he had some unreasonable demands... I refused them. But I think he’s calm enough to play again. No promises.
FPB slammed the back door and trudged back to his assigned seat.
Mori: Axton and Sage, please trade places.
FPB: Why? Do you think I’m gonna...
Mori held up his magic Funky-silencing hand. “My run, my rules.”
It was FPB’s roll. It wound up being successful. Very successful. As he entered the media station, a swarm of heavily armed guards surrounded him, but he managed to obliterate all of them, wielding a sword in one hand and an SMG with homing bullets in the other hand. This might have been just the thing we all needed to calm his ass down!
Mori: Show of hands for all who consider this an epic success!
We all voted affirmatively.
Mori: Then my Assistant GM shall prepare the finest tincture in the land for our supreme Street Samurai, Funky P. Beard.
Sage soon returned with a shot of Johnny Walker Blue. FPB sniffed it deeply, toasted to the team, and slugged it back in one gulp. I think I even saw a small smile on his face, although it was hard to tell underneath that behemoth of a beard.
I exhaled and felt myself relax as much as I could with Adderall fueling my wakefulness. I planned a super sick (albeit risky) complex action, rolled, and... got hit with Tar Baby. That was a giga-glitch.
FPB looked over at me with menacing eyes. But I had an idea.
Mori: OP, come accept a staff punishment!
Me: Game Master... Sir? FPB, our epically successful Samurai, suggested to me that I should kiss Athena instead of kissing your staff.
I glanced nervously at Athena. She was giggling. Good. I hadn’t offended her. I also glanced nervously at Sage. He was grinning from ear to ear. Good. I hadn’t offended him, either.
Mori pretended to ponder...
Mori: ACCEPTABLE! You shall kiss for 15 seconds. Assistant GM, you keep time.
Sage: No way, dude. I’m watching.
Snorlax: I’ll do it. No promises that I’ll keep my eyes on the timer.
FPB growled at him.
Athena and I turned to each other, trying to keep from laughing. This was nothing new to me. I had kissed girls onstage, at theatre parties, during games of truth or dare... And I was confident that this wouldn’t anger FPB in the slightest. If anything, it might put him in a better mood.
Snorlax: 3... 2... KISS!
Everything was fine at first. Athena was giggling, which made me giggle, but we kept our lips locked. Then, after only a few seconds... she seemed to vanish. I opened my eyes and saw that FPB had grabbed her, pulled her away, and was now dragging her to the corner of the War Room near the staircase.
FPB: YOU WICKED THUNDER-SEE-YOU-NEXT-TUESDAY! HOW DARE YOU KISS MY GIRLFRIEND?!?!
With an almost feline stride, Sage crossed the room and put FPB in a chokehold. FPB was screeching and furiously thrashing about, but Sage seemed to be trained in martial arts (couldn’t tell you which one, specifically).
FPB: OP, YOU’RE A DEMENTED SLUT. I KNOW YOU’VE BEEN HOOKING UP WITH AXTON. I KNOW YOU AND MORI HAVE BEEN SNORTING COKE OFF EACH OTHER’S ASSES. NOW YOU’RE KISSING GIRLS, TOO! I SHOULD MA...nhjsnjvB...SVJLjvvvvvv... And then he passed out.
Silence fell over the War Room.
Mori: So... You wanna go snort coke off my ass?
I laughed. “I’m good with the Addy, Mori. But thank you.”
I glanced over at Axton, and he raised his eyebrows, silently making the follow-up to Mori’s joke. I felt the corners of my mouth involuntarily turn upwards and I raised my eyebrows in return.
But the beard stirred. Sage was still in full attack mode and Athena stood by at a safe distance. I crossed the War Room and asked if FPB had hurt her. She shook her head.
Athena: No, I’m fine. I just don’t want another fight to break out.
Me: I’m so sorry. I had no idea he’d get mad about THAT.
Athena: Right?! What’s wrong with him? I thought all guys liked to watch girls kiss.
Mori made his way over to a defeated FPB and an enraged Sage.
Mori: Gentlemen... Shall we take a break from the planning phase and settle this score with some PVP?
Sage: NO. We’re not settling this in game. Funky P. Beard called my girlfriend a horrible name, he physically attacked her...
Athena: I’m fine, babe. Can we just play without FPB for a while?
Sage: Okay, maybe he didn’t hurt her. But he definitely crossed a line.
Mori: I agree. There should be consequences.
Sage: No dick slaps or looking at your butthole or sitting in your lap as “punishments” this time. Actions have natural consequences. The natural consequences are that he scared my girlfriend, he embarrassed his girlfriend, and he pissed me off. He also disrupted our game, so I assume the rest of you are pissed off?
Before anyone could answer, FPB played the victim and pretended to cry over Sage choking him out after he grabbed Athena and called her that awful name. Nobody cared. Once he realized that he wasn’t getting any sympathy, he began to rage about being forced to watch his girlfriend “cuckold” him and how he was being made to feel like he wasn’t manly since he was offended by the sight of two girls kissing. Mori used the magic Funky-silencing hand and invited the rest of us to express our grievances. He also challenged Funky to take it all in without verbally (or physically) attacking anyone.
Snorlax offered FPB some weed to help him calm down, and FPB launched into an irrational tirade about how much he hated drugs. He also mocked Snorlax for his weight, which isn’t cool. If your personality sucks, your physical appearance is fair game for mockery. Otherwise, it’s just rude. Plus, Snorlax is a cute chubby guy. They do exist.
Axton basically told him he needed to take the stick out of his ass, and FPB barked out some more accusations of lust. In the midst of these accusations, he referred to me as “his property,” and declared that I was too “shallow and FEMALE” to make my own decisions. Axton clenched his fists and took a few steps towards FPB, but Mori intervened and gave a very flowery speech about going outside and letting the fresh air carry away the aggression.
Snorlax followed Axton outside, merrily carrying a bong. The whole thing wrapped up when I said, “I’m not your property. I agreed to be your partner once upon a time, but this isn’t a healthy partnership. I’m out. I’m done trying to be a girlfriend to someone who thinks so little of me.”
This was far from the first time I’d delivered this speech to FPB, so I had it memorized. Of course, it never “hit” the way I hoped it would. FPB wasn’t contrite. He didn’t seem sad to lose me. He seemed, as always, righteously angry over having a possession confiscated. So I went to join Axton and Snorlax on the porch. Athena whispered, “Good for you, girl!” as she followed me out, leaving the principal and the vice principal to deal with the delinquent.
A lot of commotion ensued in the corner of the War Room after FPB muttered a very offensive term for “lesbian” at Athena as she exited. Mori had to physically restrain Sage from beating the tar out of FPB. Mori also apparently got a little excited whist restraining his Assistant GM, and they traded some colorful words. Athena closed the door on the hullabaloo.
The bong was bubbling away and the sweet, skunky scent of gonja filled the air.
Snorlax: Want a hit?
Me: Nah. I feel like I might have to dash any minute now if FPB keeps raging, so I need to keep my head clear.
Axton: You’re not leaving with him, are you?
Me: Hell no! I’ve got my car here, and he’s NOT coming with me if I feel like it’s time for me to ghost.
Axton: Is there any way we can vote his ass off the island and convince you to stay?
I cautiously approached the bench where Axton and Snorlax were sharing the bong. They shifted a little to make room for me, and I sat down next to a still shirtless Axton. Athena pulled up a chair next to the bench and took a tiny flask from the pocket of her PJs and slugged back a few sips of liquid tranquility.
Me: For the sake of the other people on the road, I wouldn’t let his drunk ass get behind the wheel. Does Sage have a soundproof basement where we can lock him up?
Athena: I WISH.
Axton unapologetically threw his arm around my shoulder, and I brazenly laced my fingers through his.
Athena: OP, why did you start dating FPB? That might be too personal...
Me: No, it’s fine. Believe it or not, he was incredibly nice to me at first. He thinks I keep pulling away from him because he’s too nice, but... Let’s just say that he and I have very different definitions of “nice.”
Snorlax: Maybe I’m just high, but I think he was pretty chill when we first formed the team.
Axton: I didn’t join until last year, so I’ve only known him as a raging psycho.
Me: You’re both right. That’s his M.O. He’s nice and normal until he’s secured his place.
Before I had the chance to fully explain my perception of FPB’s uncanny ability to simulate sanity, Sage and Mori stepped onto the porch, with FPB trailing dejectedly behind them.
Mori: We’ve decided to wrap it up for the night. Feel free to get drunk as hell, smoke weed, snort coke off each other’s asses, party like rockstars! We’ll reconvene at noon tomorrow.
But fucking Funky lifted his head and roared, “You’re cheating on me AGAIN???”
Me: I told you, Funky. I’m out. I quit. We’re done. And you hate my living guts, so what the hell do you care???
FPB: I didn’t agree to that. So we’re still together.
Sage: That’s not how breakups work, FPB. And what exactly is your definition of cheating?
FPB: She’s cheated on me with EVERYONE. Except you, Sage. You’re actually the only one I still trust. OP’s a SLUT.
Me: WHEN have I cheated on you?
FPB: You let Mori put his dick on your face...
Me: So did literally EVERYONE here...
Mori: Hell, I’d put it on my own face if I were flexible enough!
FPB: I’m still talking. You also stuck your hand in Mori’s butt crack. You shared a beer with Snorlax. You kissed Athena. And now you’re sitting there canoodling with Pretty Boy in front of everyone. CHEATER.
Mori threw his arm around FPB. “This? Is this a good canoodle, or is your noodle still limp?”
FPB shrugged him off. “Barf me a river, Mori. It’s the intention.”
Mori (hugging FPB around the waist): Okay, suppose I’m imagining going to Pound Town with you right now. (He added a few demonstrative pelvic thrusts.) Does that mean we’ve hooked up?
FPB flailed about until Mori let go of him, bellowed some barely intelligible insults towards everyone, made some random animal noises, and stomped back into the house. As much as I hated to see my new friends on the receiving end of his wrath, I don’t think I would have ever been able to effectively stand up to him without five witnesses to his bizarre behavior who miraculously had my back, despite having a long history of friendship with FPB.
I had tried to discuss our problems with close friends in the past, but FPB would always be on his best behavior in front of them, so I always wound up looking like the asshole. It took the presence of people with whom he felt comfortable enough to stomp around (sans mask) in order to gather witnesses to the insanity. And gather them, I had. I was FREE.
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2023.06.09 23:45 next3days Weekend Rundown of Events for those in/near Blacksburg (June 9th - June 11th)
Here's this weekend's rundown of fun events you can enjoy in Blacksburg and throughout the surrounding areas within the New River Valley. There's quite a few annual events occurring this weekend such as the Pearisburg Festival in the Park and Claytor Lake Festival if you have a caride and feel adventurous. Weekend Rundown for June 9th - June 11th: 1. A Night To Fight Alzheimer’s with Boxing Sparring Sessions Blacksburg Boxing and Fitness, Blacksburg Friday, June 9, 2023, 6:00 - 8:00 PM Advance Tickets: $15.00, At the Door: $20.00
Enjoy live, local boxing with sparring sessions with 100% of the proceeds benefitting The Alzheimer’s Association and The Longest Day to raise money for Alzheimer's research. Please note: These are not sanctioned fights. Instead, they are USA Boxing approved Sparring sessions lead by USA Boxing Certified Coaches, amongst USA Boxing athletes, using USA Boxing Sparring rules. The intent is to put on a show, raise money for a great cause, and keep all participants safe. There will also be raffle tickets to win sweet prizes from local companies. Link: http://www.nextthreedays.com/FeaturedEventDetails.cfm?E=708170 2. 2023 Relay for Life Annual Event (Montgomery County, VA) Christiansburg Middle School, Christiansburg Friday, June 9, 2023, 6:00 - 11:00 PM Admission: Free
Join Relay for Life of Montgomery County for their annual Relay for Life event. Celebrate survivors, remember those we have lost and fight back as a community to give cancer the boot. Enjoy live entertainment, children's fun, food, arts & crafts and small business vendors, silent auction, 50/50 Raffle and more. The event is free to attend, but please plan to bring payment for any food and vendors you wish to purchase from. Link: http://www.nextthreedays.com/FeaturedEventDetails.cfm?E=707517 3. 2023 Pearisburg Festival in the Park Pearisburg Community & Recreation Center, Pearisburg Friday, June 9, 2023, 6:00 - 11:00 PM and Saturday, June 10, 2023, 9:30 AM - 11:00 PM Admission: Free
The Pearisburg Festival in the Park celebrates its 38th anniversary in Giles County, Virginia. Enjoy carnival rides, two days of live entertainment, food vendors with all your favorite festival foods, special activities, vendors and crafters. Festival in the Park promises to be an awesome two days of community spirit, family fun, live music, and great food. There will be rides and games for the whole family. Friday is Unlimited Wristband night and Saturday features a full day of entertainment, the Cancer Kids and Christmas Car Show & Cruise along with headliner Chris Higbee and closing with a fireworks display. Link: http://www.nextthreedays.com/VenueEventListing.cfm?V=542 4. Root Down in Concert Rising Silo Farm Brewery, Blacksburg Friday, June 9, 2023, 6:00 - 9:00 PM Admission: Free
Root Down is a jazz trio based in the New River Valley area featuring musicians Justin Craig, Doug Norton and Nick Romantini. Link: http://www.nextthreedays.com/FeaturedEventDetails.cfm?E=708744 5. MLB / USA Baseball: Danville Otterbots vs. Pulaski River Turtles (Star Wars Night and Fireworks) Calfee Park, Pulaski Friday, June 9, 2023, 7:00 - 10:00 PM General Admission: $5.00, Seniors Ages 65 & Older: $1.00, Kids 6 & Under: Free Grandstand: $11.00, Reserved Seating: $12.00, Party Zone: $12.00, Club Seating: $15.00
The Pulaski River Turtles MLB / USA Baseball's Appalachian League team hosts the Danville Otterbots as they continue their 2023 season with Star Wars Night. Several characters will be on-site throughout the game to interact with fans and take photos. In addition, every Friday night game will end with a fireworks show for the fans. Tickets can be purchased at the gates on game day or online. Link: http://www.nextthreedays.com/FeaturedEventDetails.cfm?E=708693 6. Ripejive in Concert Dogtown Roadhouse, Floyd Friday, June 9, 2023, 8:00 - 11:00 PM Admission: $8.00
Ripejive is a Blacksburg, Virginia based quartet that delivers original, hard-hitting funk. From retro grooves to jazz fusion, blazing guitar and soaring saxophone color tight pocket rhythms with sounds from New Orleans to New York that always bring a party. Link: http://www.nextthreedays.com/FeaturedEventDetails.cfm?E=708066 7. Summer Tea In Honor of Lucy Lancaster's Birthday (Reservation Deadline) Lancaster House, Blacksburg Saturday, June 17, 2023, 11:00 AM and 12:30 PM Registration Deadline: Saturday, June 10, 2023 Admission: $25.00
The YMCA at Virginia Tech presents their 1st Annual Summer Tea in Honor of Lucy Lancaster's Birthday with two seatings on 11:00 AM and 1:00 PM with a reservation deadline of Saturday, June 10, 2023. Located in the beautiful, historic Lancaster House, mark Lucy Lee Lancaster’s birthday by enjoying a deliciously decadent celebration featuring tea and delicious homemade delicacies. The Tea will be catered by Carolyn Ansley, famous for her authentic and delicious teas in past years in Blacksburg. Proceeds from the Tea will directly benefit the Y Community Programs such as Meals On Main, International Programming and After School care. Deadline to purchase tickets is Saturday, June 10th. Lucy Lee lived in the Lancaster House built in 1913 by her parents William and Lucy Lee Sibold Lancaster until her death in 1989. She left the house to the YMCA at Virginia Tech. Lee was one of the first five women admitted to Virginia Tech in 1925. She majored in biology and worked in the library which was housed at that time in what had been the campus chapel. Her work in the library led to her decision to become a librarian, and she attended Columbia University Library School where she received her Masters of Library Science degree. She returned to Blacksburg and worked in the university library until her retirement in 1970. Link: http://www.nextthreedays.com/FeaturedEventDetails.cfm?E=708759 8. 2023 Native Plant Sale Price House Nature Center, Blacksburg Saturday, June 10, 2023, 9:30 AM - 1:30 PM Admission: Free
The New River Valley Chapter of the Virginia Native Plant Society will hold its Fifth Annual Native Plant Sale. The Native Plant Sale includes perennials, trees, shrubs, ferns and more. All plants in the sale are native to Virginia and do not include cultivars. Most are pollinator friendly. The native plant sale only uses sustainable non-peat potting mix. All proceeds from the sale go to support the activities of the New River Valley Chapter, including public education and outreach, improving habitat at local parks, removing invasive species and awarding grants to area youth for native plant garden projects. In addition to the many plants for sale, there will be activities for adults and children. There will be booths where you can ask how to create a pollinator garden or which plants are exotic invasives which kill off natives which the wildlife need to survive on. Tree tubes to protect trees and shrubs from deer will also be sold. Storytime with Joelle for children begins at 12:30 PM. You can also visit the Price House Nature Center which will be open from 9:00 AM - 1:00 PM. Parking is one block away in the Blacksburg United Methodist Church. Link: http://www.nextthreedays.com/FeaturedEventDetails.cfm?E=708676 9. 2023 Claytor Lake Festival Claytor Lake State Park, Dublin Saturday, June 10, 2023, 10:00 AM - 10:00 PM Parking is $20.00 per vehicle or $15.00 with five cans of food.
The Claytor Lake Festival Committee presents the 24th Annual Claytor Lake Beach Festival. The festival kicks off the summer season at Claytor Lake State Park each year. Enjoy entertainment all day, fireworks at night, arts & crafts vendors, beach access included with admission, free children's activities, youth & adult fishing tournament, wine tasting and lots more. Registration for the annual Everett Lee Yearout, Jr. Adult and Youth Fishing Tournament will be held 7:00-10:00 AM. This year the tournament theme is "Fishing is the Best Hobby Because". The Car Show voting is done by the show participants who are completely registered by 10:30 AM. All entries will receive a dash plaque, goodie bag and category winners will receive trophies. There is no pre-registration fee. The fee is $20.00 to enter the car & motorcycle show and this is the only fee you pay to enter the festival. Swimming is included with admission. The event is rain or shine. Link: http://www.nextthreedays.com/FeaturedEventDetails.cfm?E=708202 10. Procession of Appalachian Species (Giant Puppet Parade) and Biodiversity Fair Warren G. Lineberry Memorial Park, Floyd Saturday, June 10, 2023, 10:00 AM - 2:00 PM Admission: Free
Springhouse presents the Procession of Appalachian Species and Biodiversity Fair with events centered around Warren G. Lineberry Memorial Park. New River Valley residents are invited to participate in a giant puppet parade celebrating our region’s biodiversity. This event, dubbed, "The Procession of Appalachian Species," will start and end at Lineberry Park in downtown Floyd, VA. Participants are encouraged to bring homemade puppets and costumes that represent one of our region’s many spectacular species. Musicians and dancers are also encouraged to bring their crafts to this event. The parade starts at 11:00 AM. If you don't have a homemade puppet or costume please come and you can puppeteer one that we have made. After the parade, join the Biodiversity Fair featuring food, music and activities from 12:00-2:00 PM. Link: http://www.nextthreedays.com/FeaturedEventDetails.cfm?E=708682 11. June 2023 Used Book Sale Montgomery Museum of Art & History, Christiansburg Saturday, June 10, 2023, 10:00 AM - 4:00 PM Friday, June 9, 2023, 2:00 - 7:00 PM and Saturday, June 10, 2023, 10:00 AM - 4:00 PM Mass-Market Paperback Books: $0.50, Large-Format Paperbacks: $1.00, Hardback Books: $1.50, Children’s Books: $0.50-$1.00
The Montgomery Museum of Art and History will be holding a two-day Used Book Sale featuring thousands of books including children’s books, adult fiction, and non-fiction. Genres include mystery, romance, science fiction, cooking, history, crafts, religion, self-help, and much, much more. The book sale will also feature puzzles, magazines, comic books, audiobooks, CDs, and DVDs.. On Saturday, June 10th from 1:00-4:00 PM, bring your own bag for a bag sale. All books that can fit will be offered at a total of $10.00 per bag. Brown paper bags and tote bags are perfect for the bag sale. Please, no plastic trash bags. Proceeds will be used to help the museum in areas such as educational programming, collection care, and exhibit preparation. Link: http://www.nextthreedays.com/FeaturedEventDetails.cfm?E=708149 12. 2023 Two-Day Floyd Artisan Trail Annual Tour Downtown Floyd, Floyd Saturday, June 10, 2023 and Sunday, June 11, 2023, 10:00 AM - 5:00 PM Admission: Free
The Floyd Center for the Arts hosts the 11th annual two-day Floyd Artisan Trail. Floyd County artisans, farms, galleries, and more will open their doors for this year’s Artisan Trail. Featuring over 30 different individuals and businesses, the Artisan Trail is a years-long tradition in Floyd to celebrate the abundant artistry available in this area. The Artisan Trail is a free to attend and invites locals and tourists alike to travel around the county to visit the open studios, see live demos, and purchase one-of-a-kind handmade art and goods in a self-guided tour across Floyd County, Virginia. The Trail happily hosts local farms and farm markets, offering tours and locally grown produce and farm goods. There may even be adorable farm animals to see. Maps and brochures with all participants’ information are available online and will be available at the Floyd Center for the Arts. Link: http://www.nextthreedays.com/FeaturedEventDetails.cfm?E=708882 13. Balance and Brews Iron Tree Brewing Company, Christiansburg Saturday, June 10, 2023, 10:45 - 11:45 AM Admission: $20.00
Move through foundational yoga poses, gentle stretches, and experience the many restorative benefits that yoga has to offer. This one hour class is appropriate for all levels, including those who are totally new to yoga. The cost includes an Iron Tree beverage of your choice. No reservation required, just show up. Link: http://www.nextthreedays.com/FeaturedEventDetails.cfm?E=708760 14. Author Talk with Penny Blue Christiansburg Library, Christiansburg Saturday, June 10, 2023, 11:00 AM - 12:00 PM Admission: Free
Christiansburg Library presents an Author Talk with Penny Blue about her first book "A Time to Protest: Leadership Lessons from My Father Who Survived the Segregated South for 99 Years". Historians have written about famous names in Black History, such as: Martin Luther King, Jr., Madam CJ Walker and Booker T. Washington. Penny Blue’s dad, Charles Edwards, Sr., is not famous, but the way he lived his life made an impact on his 10 children and the community in which he lived. The stories he told his children and grandchildren are the inspiration for Blue’s book. Penny says the main theme is standing up and speaking out for what is just and right. Books will be available for purchase for $25.00 through CashApp or with cash or check only. Link: http://www.nextthreedays.com/FeaturedEventDetails.cfm?E=708891 15. Sugar Magnolia 5th Anniversary Celebration Sugar Magnolia, Blacksburg Saturday, June 10, 2023, 11:00 AM - 10:00 PM 25% Off Storewide, $2.00 Ice Cream Scoops
Sugar Magnolia presents their 5th Anniversary Celebration at their original location in Blacksburg, VA. There will be face painting and a balloon artist in store from 12:00-2:00 PM. Guests can also enjoy: 25% off storewide all day, $2.00 ice cream scoops all day, tasting stations, raffles, gifts with purchase and more. Link: http://www.nextthreedays.com/FeaturedEventDetails.cfm?E=708741 16. Fourth Birthday Party Celebration with Music from Cinémathèque Eastern Divide Brewing, Blacksburg Saturday, June 10, 2023, 12:00 - 9:00 PM Admission: Free
Eastern Divide Brewing presents their Fourth Birthday Party Celebration with Music from Cinémathèque. Enjoy free ice cream and live music from 5:00-8:00 PM featuring the upbeat and unique rhythms of Cinematheque including surf rock, exotica, spaghetti westerns, Ethiopian jazz, and Afro-Beat. Eastern Divide will also have a vintage and artisan pop up market featuring Eden's Emporium, Broken Arrow Creations, Madigan Made and Tees Don't Grow on Trees. Link: http://www.nextthreedays.com/FeaturedEventDetails.cfm?E=708886 17. Music at the Villa with Parker's Pillbox Villa Appalaccia Winery, Floyd Saturday, June 10, 2023, 1:00 - 4:00 PM Admission: Free
Relax and enjoy some great music along with great wine and food. Sprung from the western hills of Virginia, Parker's Pillbox is an on-the-rise power trio to watch. Parker's Pillbox is instantly recognizable by their unique, cohesive sound, which manages to be unto itself while drawing influences from a multitude of genres. Flavors of country, jazz, grunge, and good 'ol southern rock and roll blend together to create music which is truly an experience. Link: http://www.nextthreedays.com/FeaturedEventDetails.cfm?E=708181 18. Saturday Afternoon Music with Ball & Chain New River Vineyard & Winery, Fairlawn Saturday, June 10, 2023, 2:00 - 5:00 PM Admission: Free
Join New River Vineyard & Winery on the patio for an afternoon enjoying their wine, frozen wine slushies, handcrafted beer and music from Ball & Chain. Ball & Chain is a stripped down acoustic rock duo. A girl from the mountains of Virginia and a boy from the Bronx. The regional musical influences of each coalesce into melodious tension. Passion, fun and sass pervades Jon & Lucinda’s blend of rock, R&B, and blues, resulting in vocals and harmonies that stroke your soul. Seating is first come, first served. Guests can bring a blanket and chair. Link: http://www.nextthreedays.com/FeaturedEventDetails.cfm?E=708884 19. Arc in the Park 2023 Nellie's Cave Park, Blacksburg Saturday, June 10, 2023, 3:00 - 6:00 PM Admission: Free
Enjoy the free food including an all-you-can-eat hot dog bar and pulled pork barbecue, outdoor field games, face painting, entertainment, snow cones and friendships. The Gift Card Raffle will help raise funds for the organization. Prizes include gift cards from Avellinos, PKs, The Maroon Door, Zeppoli’s, In Balance Yoga, The Cellar, The Lyric and lots more. Tickets are $5.00 each and can be purchased online or in person at the event. The prize drawing will be held at the event at 5:00 PM. Participants do not have to be there in person to win. The event is handicap accessible. The Arc promotes and protects the human rights of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and actively supports their full inclusion and participation in the community throughout their lifetimes. Link: http://www.nextthreedays.com/FeaturedEventDetails.cfm?E=708881 20. Rockin' Main Street Concert Series with Travis Reigh and The Jared Stout Band Downtown Christiansburg, Christiansburg Saturday, June 10, 2023, 5:00 - 9:00 PM Admission: Free
The Town of Christiansburg and the Christiansburg Parks & Rec continues their Rockin' Main Street Concert Series featuring music from The Jared Stout Band and Travis Reigh. Attendees can purchase food and drinks from a selection of food trucks and wine and beer vendors. Patrons are encouraged to bring lawn chairs to sit and enjoy the live performances. Travis Reigh is a singer-songwriter born and raised out of Southwest Virginia, bringing you original material with rock roots and a country sound that you don't want to miss. Get ready to experience the high-octane energy and soulful sound of the Jared Stout Band! This alt-country powerhouse hails from Southwestern Virginia and is known for their unique blend of Appalachian rhythm and blues. As runners-up for the "On-The-Rise" award at FloydFest 22, the Jared Stout Band delivers an unforgettable performance by bringing their own energetic and soulful original songs to the stage. Link: http://www.nextthreedays.com/FeaturedEventDetails.cfm?E=707447 21. Mount Tabor Ruritan Club June Fish Fry with The Blacksburg Community Band Slusser's Chapel Church of God, Blacksburg Saturday, June 10, 2023, 5:00 - 7:00 PM Adults: $12.00 Children Ages 3-11: $6.00 Children Under 3: Free Carry-Outs: $12.00
The Mount Tabor Ruritan Club presents their June Fish Fry with the Blacksburg Community Band performing. Enjoy a serving fish, fries, slaw, homemade desserts and beverage. The Blacksburg Community Band, Inc. is an all-volunteer community organization formed in 1989 under the auspices of the Department of Parks and Recreation in the Town of Blacksburg, Virginia. This is a fundraiser for the Ruritan Club's community service projects and scholarships. Held rain or shine under the picnic shelter below the lower church parking lot. Link: http://www.nextthreedays.com/FeaturedEventDetails.cfm?E=708078 22. 2023 Music on the Lawn Concert Series with Virginia Hollow Christiansburg Library, Christiansburg Saturday, June 10, 2023, 6:00 - 7:30 PM Admission: Free
Virginia Hollow is a mixture of Americana, Bluegrass, Country, Indie, and Rock. A singer-songwriter band that performs songs written by lead singer Carrie Hinkley, along with an occasional handpicked cover or two. Virginia Hollow is a band and a sound born from the hills, valleys and mountains of Appalachia. Their performances and music take you on a journey fraught with raw emotions and stories of love, trust, betrayal and longing. Each month, one talented local band will play a concert on the library's lawn after hours. Bring your lawn chairs and blankets for an evening under the stars. Feel free to bring a picnic as well. This concert is rain or shine. In case of rain, the concert will be moved inside. Link: http://www.nextthreedays.com/FeaturedEventDetails.cfm?E=707890 23. Slushie Saturday with Music from Furious Jones Moon Hollow Brewing, Blacksburg Saturday, June 10, 2023, 6:00 - 9:00 PM Admission: Free
Moon Hollow Brewing presents their first Slushie Saturday with Music from Furious Jones. This Summer every Saturday is now Slushie Saturday at Moon Hollow. This Saturday will have two slushies available one made with Ebb & Flow Prickly Pear and one non-alcoholic slushie, Prickly Pear Raspberry flavored. Singer and songwriter Furious Jones will perform a live acoustic solo show featuring Americana, Blues, Folk, and Rock with both originals and extensive covers. Link: http://www.nextthreedays.com/FeaturedEventDetails.cfm?E=708719 24. Mist on the Mountain in Concert Rising Silo Farm Brewery, Blacksburg Saturday, June 10, 2023, 6:00 - 9:00 PM Admission: Free
Mist on the Mountain is an Irish Traditional Music group based in the New River Valley of southwest Virginia. From lively jigs and reels to heartbreaking laments and rollicking ballads. Link: http://www.nextthreedays.com/FeaturedEventDetails.cfm?E=708745 25. Dean Trimble in Concert Long Way Brewing, Radford Saturday, June 10, 2023, 6:00 - 9:00 PM Admission: Free
Dean Trimble is a musician playing 70s and 80s classic soft rock and classic country and he is based in the New River Valley. Link: http://www.nextthreedays.com/FeaturedEventDetails.cfm?E=708860 26. Cary Wimbish Band in Concert Brick House Pizza, Radford Saturday, June 10, 2023, 7:00 - 10:00 PM Admission: Free
The Cary Wimbish Band makes its debut performance at Brick House Pizza. Hailing from Richmond, Virginia, Cary Wimbish has quickly earned a loyal following in the Richmond area since his debut in 2018. Combining powerful vocals with both acoustic and electric guitar, Cary’s repertoire includes covers of well known traditional country, bluegrass, classic rock and blues songs. Link: http://www.nextthreedays.com/FeaturedEventDetails.cfm?E=708866 27. June Blacksburg Vintage Market Market Square Park, Blacksburg Sunday, June 11, 2023, 10:00 AM - 5:00 PM Admission: Free
The Blacksburg Vintage Market hosts their June Vintage Market. Vendors will be selling all things vintage from clothes, jewelry, vinyl records, and more. Link: http://www.nextthreedays.com/FeaturedEventDetails.cfm?E=708681 28. Sunday Mountain Music Series with Indian Run Stringband Mountain Lake Lodge, Pembroke Sunday, June 11, 2023, 4:00 - 6:00 PM Admission: Free
The Indian Run Stringband plays fiddle and banjo foot stomping dance tunes and sings traditional songs with old time harmonies perfect for dancing the two step. From dance tunes to the blues, the Indian Run Stringband plays with love and abandon. They make old-time music fresh and new. Stop by Salt Pond Pub every Sunday starting Memorial Day weekend through August for live music and delicious food & drinks. Perfect for relaxing with the whole family (furry friends welcome too). Link: http://www.nextthreedays.com/FeaturedEventDetails.cfm?E=708136 29. Gearheads For A Cause for Ashley Ray Blue Ridge Church, Christiansburg Sunday, June 11, 2023, 5:00 - 9:00 PM Admission: Free
Gearheads For A Cause is hosting a special cruise in in memory of Ashley Ray of Dublin, VA that was took from this world at the young age of 25. Ashley was a amazing mother of two sons and always happy and outgoing. The money raised will be for Ashley's family to help with her two boys and the family's needs. Vehicles of all type are invited to attend as well as spectators. Admission and entry are free. There will be a raffle, cake walk and vendors on site. Gearheads For a Cause hosts car shows to help raise spirits given all our community has undergone and bring together an otherwise separated community. Link: http://www.nextthreedays.com/FeaturedEventDetails.cfm?E=708892 30. Freddy Modad in Concert Palisades Restaurant, Eggleston Sunday, June 11, 2023, 5:00 - 7:30 PM Admission: Free
Guitarist Freddie Modad performs classic rock and more. Reservations are not required, but recommended for dining area seating. Link: http://www.nextthreedays.com/FeaturedEventDetails.cfm?E=708893 31. MLB / USA Baseball: Burlington Sock Puppets vs. Pulaski River Turtles (Saddle-Up Sunday) Calfee Park, Pulaski Sunday, June 11, 2023, 7:00 - 10:00 PM General Admission: $5.00, Seniors Ages 65 & Older: $1.00, Kids 6 & Under: Free Grandstand: $11.00, Reserved Seating: $12.00, Party Zone: $12.00, Club Seating: $15.00
The Pulaski River Turtles MLB / USA Baseball's Appalachian League team hosts the Burlington Sock Puppets as they continue their 2023 season. Saddle-Up Sunday returns. Arrive early for free cowboy hat giveaways while supplies last and take a ride on the buckin’ mechanical bull. Rides are free of charge. It's also Sunday Savings featuring concession specials. Tickets can be purchased online or at the gate. Link: http://www.nextthreedays.com/FeaturedEventDetails.cfm?E=708695
Have a great weekend and thanks for reading!
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2023.06.09 21:31 cbvv1992 🔥Walmart - $35.00 Ozark Trail Hazel Creek Lighted Shower Tent One Room!!
2023.06.09 21:00 Trash_Tia There’s been a secret ongoing war between the Starbucks stores in my city where employees are bloodthirsty for coffee— and they will do anything to get it.
Does anyone know how to get out of a Starbucks contract?
I just started my new job and I already want to quit. I REALLY want to quit. Because this shit isn’t normal. I mean, is it? Do you guys have experience with this type of shit, or is it a normal thing when moving to the city? I’m a small-town girl so I’m not used to this. We didn’t even have a Starbucks. Just a diner that had been broken into multiple times over the years.
Do you know the bad feeling you get when something bad is going to happen, but you ignore it for the sake of staying sane? .Yeah.
It was one of those situations.
But I needed cash. I needed a job. College in the city is expensive, especially in my mid-twenties. Uber Eats every night and various subscriptions, such as Netflix and Spotify—as well as basic living needs required cash. So, naturally, I looked for part-time jobs I could use to fill up my weekend and nights. When it came to job hunting, I was fairly lazy. So, the Starbucks job kinda came out of nowhere.
I wasn’t even looking for it. I was applying for a job in the local music store when it caught my eye. Someone to work late evenings and nights on weekdays and Saturdays. The job description didn’t say much, just basic pay details and a full paragraph dedicated to talking about “The Starbucks Family”. Skim reading it, I skipped to the APPLY NOW button and sent in my resume via email. Two hours.
It had taken two hours to get an email back offering a video interview the next day—and a guaranteed job if I didn’t screw it up. The video interview went well to my surprise. The woman who conducted it acted more like a friend, asking me what my favorite movies and TV shows were, and then going into detail about her own.
It didn’t even feel like an interview. More like a chat. Which was exactly what the email said it was going to be. The interviewer was my mom’s age, a total mom-like persona. She offered me iced tea before laughing and realizing we were on a video call. Her cat popped up halfway through her introducing several staff members by name. A large tabby whom she picked up and hugged to her chest. I wasn’t sure what to do except repeatedly say, “Aww.” and force an even bigger smile.
The woman who for some reason did not introduce herself finished the interview with a more formal and thorough talk-through of rules and regulations. Which went in one ear and out the other. I think I was too excited about the job as a whole. There’s something almost mythical about working at Starbucks. I’ve seen barista TikTok complaining about customer service and harping about in the back rooms. It looked fun. Plus, free drinks? I figured working at the famous coffee chain would at least have benefits and freebies.
The woman spoke to me for almost two hours about certain drinks, telling me I would be trained up, and then going on to explain the dos and don’ts in a working environment. It was kind of patronizing, but I figured she had to be to remain professional. I tuned out when she started talking about a certain “feud” they had with another store down the road. The woman didn’t go into detail, but her expression did darken significantly when she leaned closer to her screen and repeated the phrase, “Do you understand me?” I had to backtrack and try and go over what she had been saying, but I had found myself mesmerized by the gilded sword in the background. It hung from the back wall in all of its glory, and I was having a hard time trying to figure out why exactly a Starbucks manager had a sword hanging from her wall.
“Sim?” Inclining her head, the manager cleared her throat. “Did you hear me?”
I did. Sort of. Under no circumstances must I visit or go near 2nd Street Starbucks. If I did there would be dire consequences and I would face losing my job, or worse.
I wasn’t sure what “or worse” was, but from the way her expression twisted from funny-cat-lady to a potential employer, I didn’t want to ask.
“Uh, yeah,” I said. “I can’t go near the 2nd Street store.” I almost choked on a glass of water I had been slowly sipping throughout the interview. I had been sweating most of the day, dying in the intense June heat. It was a lot cooler in the evening in the city, but I was used to draining at least ten glasses a day. “Is that real?” I couldn’t help asking, pointing to the sword behind her.
I know you are supposed to maintain a certain professional persona and façade during professional work interviews with potential managers. However, I really wanted to know if that ancient thing was real, it was driving me crazy. Because questions were arising in my head: How did she get it? Was it hers? Was it for some kind of aesthetic and feng-shui, or was there more to it? From the look on the interviewer’s face, she seemed startled.
Whipping her head around, her strict grey ponytail hitting the screen, she nodded before turning back to me, her gaze flicking down to what I presumed was a script she was reading off—or maybe she was skimming through my printed-out resume. I wanted to ask her more about the elephant in the room, but she seemed satisfied with answering my question with a nod. She asked me more questions, mostly about my work ethic and if I enjoyed working in a team and independently, if I had any special requirements, and oddly—if I had ever held a firearm. Now, that caused alarm bells. Along with the gilded sword dangling from this forty-something-year-old’s lounge wall, I was definitely starting to question the exact nature of what I would be doing at this job. Serving coffee was an obvious one, though I was pretty sure Starbucks barista's didn’t require military-style training.
When I didn’t know what to say, she seemed to back-pedal. “Oh, it’s in case of a robbery.” She said. But her expression stayed stoic. Speaking in the tone of being joking, but not being joking. “It is rare. However, it is a precaution we must take.” Choosing her words carefully, the interviewer steepled her hands in front of her face, leaning her chin on her fingers. “Our employees are given basic fire-arm training in the instance that one day we may face a difficult situation. Now, I am not saying it is inevitable, but due to certain behavior throughout the years, it is, of course, better to be safe than sorry.”
“Oh.” I tried to smile. “No, I haven’t,” I paused, hoping my lack of ability to hold a gun wouldn’t screw up my chances. “But I can learn?”
I said it like a question because it was a question. I was questioning myself why exactly I would take up my time learning to shoot a gun I most likely never would need. To my surprise though, the woman’s smile brightened and she looked down at whatever she was writing.
“Of course,” she said. “Sim, I am very happy to hear that. We love employees who do their best to learn and thrive in our working environment,” she paused and typed something on her laptop before her gaze found mine. “I’ll put you down for lessons on Friday mornings. How does that sound?” Before I could answer her—because I was starting to seriously question why she was so obsessed with training me to use a goddamn gun—she was nodding to herself. “I will put Jude in charge of you. I think he is working on Friday, so your induction and welcome can be completed in the morning…”
She trailed off into her own murmured conversation to herself before clearing her throat. I jumped. I didn’t mean to jump, but her whole presence was putting me on edge. The lady had been nicer on the phone, and earlier on in the interview when she was grilling me on which Frozen character was my favorite.
“Okay!” The interviewer gathered up her paperwork, beaming at me through the camera. “Can you start tomorrow? Let’s say…” her eyebrows furrowed together. “5:30? I will not be there for the first hour due to certain obligations,” she traced her lip with the tip of her index. “However, I have four employees working the front desk, I’m sure they will give you a warm welcome.” I noticed something twitch on her lips. It was almost like she was trying to stop herself from laughing—which was childish from a standpoint where I was the younger one, while she was the senior. She was supposed to be setting some kind of standard, and yet for some reason was more inclined in teasing me about workplace friendships, and apparently how “close” my colleagues were. I wasn’t stupid, I knew what friendship was like in the workplace. It’s not “real” because you’re all there to do a job, not making lifelong friendships.
“I’m looking forward to meeting them,” I said when she snorted out a laugh that twisted up my gut.
"Absolutely," she responded. "The team is very close, so don't take it personally if they're initially cautious. I'm confident that you'll all become great friends! Kai is a kind-hearted sweetheart, while Ana may seem standoffish initially, but she'll warm up to you once you get to know her. Jude, on the other hand, will be your guide during the orientation, so it's best to stay close to him. In fact, it's recommended to shadow him during your first few hours since he's our top performer! Frankly, Sim, I can hardly wait for you to meet them! They're a great group!" This woman seemed to suddenly discover the use of expletives, or maybe she had noticed I visibly wanted to crawl into the ground. The way she was describing the other employees, I was expecting cartoon characters when I walked through the door.
“Right,” I said. I was starting to regret applying. “I’ll be there.”
She ended the call with a bright smile, and her stupid cat walking on the keyboard, causing her to squeak out in horror. I shut my laptop, my cheeks burning. Well, that went…? Well? Could I really say it went well when the manager had spent the last five minutes implying my work colleagues were going to hate me? Fuck.
I didn’t want to go. I trashed my application and deleted her number from my phone. But the morning after, however, I came to the quick realization through precious morning caffeine, that I needed cash. So, no matter how much I didn’t want to go—I had to. So, I headed to classes and tried not to think about it. It was 5:34 when I stepped into the familiar glow of the famous store—not before being stopped in the middle of a crowed by a girl wearing bright pink ray-bans and a scowl. “Do you work there?” she turned and pointed to the store.
I shrugged. “I guess.”
She scoffed, slipping off her ray-bans and fixing me with a bitchy smile. “Your funeral.”
Normally, in situations when strangers say odd things to me on the street, I just laugh it off. But this? This seemed personal.
The girl didn’t say anything before turning and walking or rather running away.
Well, that was weird.
After that encounter, I was weighing the positives and negatives of taking up the job. The positives would be cash and something to occupy my mind away from classes, and the negatives were being stuck with insufferable colleagues and a manager who was the embodiment of unprofessional. The store was pretty empty when I stepped through automatic doors, reveling in the cooling fan blasting icy cold air in my face. A dark-haired college girl had her back to me, cleaning tables. But I noticed her stiffening up when I took a step forward. She straightened up like a cat going into territorial mode, before relaxing and holding a two-fingered hand up.
The store was empty so I had no idea who she was signaling to. It wasn’t a greeting to me—I had no idea what it was. I was halfway to the counter before a guy popped up out of nowhere, mid-way through drying a cup with a washrag. His hair was the first thing I noticed. Bright red.
In contrast to his pasty skin, this guy would definitely stand out in a crowd. He was my age or maybe a little older, mid twenties, with a wide smile and not much of anything else, kitted in a short-sleeved shirt, and a Starbucks apron over the top.
I expected quirky cartoon-like weirdos and I got an average Joe. I wasn’t complaining.
Initially, I thought this guy was just another jock-like college guy. But looking closer, the friendliness in his eyes wasn’t sincere, and his smile was strained. Keeping up a professional attitude, he regarded me with a smile, leaning across the counter. But his eyes kept flicking to the door in quick succession like he was waiting for a certain someone to come in. “You.” He pointed at me, trailing his finger to the door, swiping hair from his face with his hand. The guy was bouncing on the heels of his toes, I noticed. He couldn’t stand still, like a hyperactive child. “You’re Sim, The newbie I’m supposed to be training.”
I nodded, offering a nervous wave.
“Jude.” He introduced himself, though clearly distracted, his gaze flicking to and from the door. His facade was friendly enough, but very fake. It was the same smile I presumed he flashed at customers who complimented his looks. “Hey, Sim.”
Instead of holding out his hand for me to shake, he folded his arms across his chest. Jude cocked his head, drinking me in before his lips broke out into a beam.
"Shall we get started?"
Jude started the tour, showing me the store itself, then the back, the storage room, the staff room, and bizarrely, a wooden door which he referred to as, “The Drink”. I had no idea what that meant, but I made a mental note to steer away from it.
The backrooms of the store turned into a labyrinth. The place was covered in mold, peeling paint on the doors and old rugged floor tiles. Jude spoke way too fast like he was intentionally trying to confuse me. By the time I was struggling with my apron, he was turning on his heels with a brow raised. “Your hair is too long so you need to tie it up. You can shadow me this evening but don’t get in my way. We have two twenty-minute breaks and during them, we are contractually obligated to go down to the Second Street store and throw eggs at their windows—ooh, and the girl you just met who didn’t say a word? That’s Ana. You will get used to her.” His smile reached a level of fake I didn’t think was possible. “Why don’t you follow me?”
“What?” I managed to hiss out when Jude was leading me down a long, winding corridor that dipped into various rooms, out-of-order elevators, and the creepiest set of stairs I had ever seen leading into the pitch dark. I was still trying to register his words.
Jude twisted around with a frown. “What’s up?” He nodded at a passing blonde girl who shot me a smile, and hive-fived Jude before disappearing through a door.
“You throw eggs at the store down the road?”
The guy’s lip twitched into the start of a smile. He turned around, quickening his pace. “Did I say that? Obviously, I was joking.”
I stumbled after him, knocking into a dark-haired younger guy carrying a tray of cupcakes. He and Jude seemed to exchange words without speaking before Jude gestured to the stranger. Somehow, I figured out their telepathic conversation through eye movements and strained smiles, they weren’t talking about me. “That’s Kai,” Jude said, pushing through the doors back to the main storefront. He took a customer’s order, retaining that stupid smile. “If you need any help with making those annoying TikTok drinks that take a millennia to make and have probably broken several Geneva convention rules?” He playfully knocked into me while preparing a drink, his hands knowing where everything was, preparing and serving a latte in a matter of minutes, “Kai is your guy! He runs our social media page and is practically a connoisseur on the next big trend. He'll deal with zoomers."
I was slowly starting to ease my way into this job, and my colleagues seemed pretty cool. Jude actually helped me all the way through the evening, introducing his home life and how he grew up as he cleaned tables and conversed with the others—always throwing me into their chatting so I didn’t get left out. I ended up sorting through cookies and making price labels with Aurora, the perky blonde who high-fived Jude earlier. She spoke to me like we had been best friends for years, and that part of her charm made me instantly adore her. She was tiny for her age, but a menace when it came to her sharp tongue and language. I didn’t think a tiny thing like her could swear like a goddamn sailor, but it was cute. Jude and Aurora had a sibling-type thing going on, though every time I caught Kai’s eye, he was smirking. It seemed everyone knew they had a thing except them.
I was actually having fun with the others, bobbing my head to the radio while serving a group of kids, when Jude, who was next to me, seemed to go rigid all of a sudden. His laughing smile carved into something else. I had never seen an expression change so fast.
But he wasn’t the only one. Aurora, cleaning tables and giggling at Jude’s joke, straightened up, her eyes flashing to the door. Kai’s head snapped up from where he had been grinding coffee. Following their gaze, I found myself face-to-face with the manager who interviewed me. But unlike the night before, she was not smiling. The woman dropped her bag at the door before marching towards the counter. Jude leaned over; his expression apprehensive.
His eyes as well as his tone had darkened significantly. All of my colleagues had taken off these masks, these facades of joking smiles and bright eyes, and now I was seeing a glimmer of what they were hiding. What Jude had been looking for all evening, sneaking glances at the door. I watched his gaze follow the manager as she paced back and forth, chewing her nails. “Where is he?”
“I don’t know.” She finally said, lifting her head. Her lips were twisted. “But.” She said, spitting each word, as she rounded the counter, helping herself to coffee. “You’re going to pay a visit to them right now, and…and sort this out once and for all.” Her voice resembled that of a mother talking to her children. She was assertive to them, her eyes piercing. Do you understand me?” The woman nodded at Jude. “You can go.” Her eyes found mine. “Take the new girl, she needs to be inducted.” Finally, she turned to Ana, who was standing in the corner silently. “You are too. I need brains, and Jude is just brawn. Keep him on his toes, young lady."
With a hint of sarcasm in his tone, Jude uttered a brief "Thanks," and then proceeded to take a coffee cup and a Sharpie. Swiftly, he scrawled some words on the side of the cup, before placing it inside a bag and plonking it in front of me. As Jude reached for his coat at the back, he put it on over his green Starbucks apron, creating a striking contrast with his denim blue sherpa. With his mop of red curls, this guy was in no way going to be as incognito as he thought. "We'll manage the conversation,” he said hurriedly, visibly excited. Jude seemed to lead the others in their expressions, his confidence and wit causing them to brighten up, adapting wide smiles. He shoved his hands in his pockets, “All you gotta do is hand them this, okay?”
“Is that a good…” Kai drifted off on whatever he was about to say, ducking his head when Jude shot him a glare.
“I think it’s a perfect idea!” The manager beamed at me. “What a way to fully bring you into our family!”
I took the coffee cup (the empty coffee cup) hesitantly. “What is it?”
“It’s a gift!” Jude said, moving towards the door in long strides. It was all too noticeable that this guy was practically vibrating with an energy I had never known. It was almost manic. “I want to let them know we appreciate them! Y’know! Rival to rival.”
Kai stepped in front of him on the way out.
“Be careful,” he said in a low hum. Aurora joined him, but she wasn’t speaking, her left-hand tugging at the waistband of her jeans. “Keep your head down when you go in because they’ll be expecting you—and they’ll be expecting a retaliation.”
“Relaaaaax, it’s Cora! We used to date!” he cocked his head. "I think."
“I mean it. "
Jude’s gaze found mine for a moment before his smile grew. “Well, we have enough eggs don’t we?” He grabbed my arm, pulling me along. Ana was already gone. I could see her figure already slinking down the street, bleeding into the shadow.
When the two of us hit the cool night air and Jude quickened his pace into a power-walk, his eyes set forwards, jaw set, I figured I should ask what his deal was. If this guy was serious about vandalizing a rival Starbucks, and not just that, urged by his manager, then I had to say something.
The thought of ending up in jail being petty over a rival store made me feel nauseous.
“So, what is this about?” I asked, catapulting myself into a half-run to keep up with him. The guy had abnormally long legs, so he was halfway across the sidewalk while I was barely two steps in front. “Aren’t you taking this a little too seriously?”
Jude didn’t reply, instead remarking on the sky being filled with stars.
“Hey, Ana!” He shouted. “Wait up!”
Second Street Starbucks was like walking into a palace. I could tell why these guys were rivals. The place was a three-floored beast, a glass building made up of a Starbucks downstairs, a library, and a private apartment. I found myself mesmerized by the twinkling lights on the door, the mini water fountain through large windows showing an even bigger storefront with rich-looking wooden tables and reclining chairs. The store was closing. When we stepped in front of the door, there was a sign which clearly said CLOSED on the front.
Still, though, Ana pushed her way through it, followed by Jude, pulling me along with him. Two employees were working, a guy with short blondish hair mopping the floors, and a girl standing at the counter, going through the register. The moment we stepped inside, the guy cleaning up stopped mopping from side to side, his fingers visibly tightening around the mop handle. “Hey there!”
With one of his best fake smiles, Jude raised his arms in surrender. “We’re from the Starbucks down the road. We come in peace, don’t worry!” He gestured to me.
“Can we talk to your manager?”
He took a step, his lip twitching, eyes glinting, which caused a stir in the air. The girl at the counter stopped flicking through a wad of cash in her hand and delicately put it down, and the guy turned to face us with wary eyes.
As Jude took another stride forward, his movements resembled a dance, and I noticed he was having fun teasing them. His eyes sparkled with a childlike glee that was unexpected for a person in his twenties. "Would you like to try our latest coffee recipe? It's like sipping on liquid sunshine." He nonchalantly brushed his jeans, and I half-expected him to pull out an egg. “But…” Jude took another step, and Ana situated herself behind the blonde boy, her expression blank. “You’ve already tasted it, haven’t you?”
The girl behind the counter finally stopped counting cash, delicately placing a wad back inside the register before leaning forward, an amused smirk curving on her lips. “Jude.” Her voice was a low murmur. “I didn’t think I would see you here so soon.”
“Cora.” Jude’s lips quirked. “Trust me, I don’t want to be. But hey, it's the boss's orders.”
She inclined her head, her eyes drinking all of him in. The girl rested her fist on her chin. She was surveying him like a piece of meat. “And you obey her?”
His grin widened, and I saw his hand once again brush the front of his apron. “Like a dog.”
“You know her?” I hissed out, grasping hold of the coffee cup in my hand.
“Cora?” Jude turned to me. “Oh yeah, we used to be the Romeo and Juliet of coffee shop rivalry — back when we were both newbies, and our store kidnapped me as a last resort. To keep the peace, I stayed.” He shrugged. “That’s what I’m told, anyway.”
Starbucks lore was getting dark.
These guys had to be joking around.
I took a step back, eager to head towards the door and be as far away as possible from what I was pretty sure was going to be a lot of eggs, and several arrests. “You worked here?” I couldn’t believe my mouth was still moving and forming words as I took slow steps back. Before Jude caught my arm.
“Apparently.” He said, dragging me back by his side. “Why don’t you give ‘em’ their gift?”
Unwrapping the bag and pulling out the cup, I nodded and took slow strides toward the counter, placing it down in front of her.
Cora frowned, before picking it up, her gaze going to the side.
“Go fuck yourself 2nd street bloodsuckers.” She read out loud, her brow raising into her hairline.
“I should probably go.” I managed to say, backing away. “I don’t think is the job for me—”
The latter half of my words exploded in my head when something slammed into my ears, a physical force sending me to my knees. Initially, I didn’t know what it was. It sounded like a nuclear bomb had gone off. When the ringing in my head subsided, I was aware I had my head buried in my knees, my hands clamped over my ears.
But when I tried to listen past the relentless shrill ringing in my skull, I heard them one after the other. Pop, pop, pop! Gunshots. The crack of each bullet ricocheted in my skull. It was a robbery, I thought dizzily. We were being robbed. No, Second Street was being robbed. When I lifted my head to try and find Jude and Ana to see if they were okay-- I expected them to be cowering like me, Jude, under the table, muffling yelling into his hand, and Ana, calmly pulling him to safety. But that wasn't what I saw. Instead, I must have been fucking imagining things. Jude had not moved from his spot-- and perfectly melded into his hand, was a gun. A gun he was holding like a pro, his hands wrapped around the butt, index teasing the trigger.
His trajectory was directly between Cora's eyes. Jude had not been the one who shot the gun. In fact, neither had Ana, who was still standing stiffly behind the blonde guy.
It was a girl behind the counter who had come out of nowhere wielding the type of gun I expected to see in movies. I noticed from his stance Jude had maybe stepped to the left and then the right to avoid being hit, but the way his demeanour was fully and completely relaxed sent shivers creeping down my spine. "The deal is off, Cora," he murmured. "You fuck with us, so we fuck with you." he lowered his gun slightly, his eyes darkening. "Where's Ren? He came here to sniff you out, so where is he?"
Cora seemed remarkably calm. She started to raise her hands, her lips forming the words, "I don't know what you're talking about" before she stopped, her body going limp. It took me a disorienting moment to realize Jude had taken the shot, followed by another, both landing right between her eyes. When Cora hit the ground, the whole world around me exploded.
I was dragged to the ground by Jude, as he dived across the floor, pressing himself into the back of a table, twisting around, and taking out the barista who almost shot me in the face. There were five of them, all of them good shooters. Too good. Ana easily took out a blonde and brunette with her own magnum, followed by a bald guy who crashed through the counter which collapsed under him.
Jude fell into a manic shoot-out with a guy who would not give up, and after several attempts, re-loading, and attempting to finish him from the ground, my colleague got tired and stood up, dropped his gun, and leaped across the counter. I didn't know what to watch. Ana, who was destroying their coffee machine, or Jude, who snapped the boy's neck with a single twist of his fingers, before ripping out his eyes. He hauled the dead guy over his knees, grazing his teeth across the pasty flesh of the boy's neck, his eyes flickering. I wouldn’t say they turned a different color, but there was something inhuman about them, a certain tint around his iris. "Urgh."
He shoved the corpse away, jumping up. "He reeks of it." Treading through broken glass and pooling red on the floor, my colleague grabbed a cup, downed it, and then spat it out. “That.” He sputtered. “Is the worst fucking thing I’ve ever tasted.”
Ana stepped in front of him, handing the boy his gun. “When one of any clan is murdered for with no reason, there is an imbalance, and the coffee is tainted. We must restore the balance before this gets out of hand,” she surprised me by speaking, with a tinge of an Aussie accent. The girl side-eyed me before shooting Jude a knowing look. “Don’t let her get in our way.”
“Aye, aye, captain.” He mocked a salute before nodding to me. “All right! Sim, you grab a sample. We’ll go find the altar.”
Something ice-cold slipped down my spine.
“Cool it. It’s more fun than it sounds,” was all Jude responded with. “Grab the samples.”
I was running on adrenaline, doing exactly what he said. I grabbed two coffee cups. “What do we do now? We go home, right?”
He swiped at his lips with a sound of disgust. “Are you kidding? No, man. We get coffee which ain’t tainted.”
Ana took out two guards in the back before leading us both through a heavy metal door that led into tunnels, tunnels, illuminated by candlelight. “You just killed multiple people,” I finally managed to choke out, following the two of them deeper into the dark. “Over coffee.” I couldn’t resist a nervous laugh that spluttered into a cry. “You just murdered seven baristas over fucking coffee!” I found myself backing away at points, scanning for a way out, an exit away from this fucking nightmare.
Jude turned to me, the glitter in his eyes reflected in the candlelight. “Oh, please,” His voice echoed down the tunnel in a chuckle. “Do you really think this is just about coffee?”
I didn't understand what he meant until we came to the end of the tunnel, which dipped into an alcove leading us into a large cave-like room. Drawing his gun, Jude scanned the dark. "Anyone in here?" He said, and Ana hit him. Silence answered, and I found myself paralyzed to the spot. I didn't know what to stare at first. The ten-foot-tall Starbucks Siren looming over us, illuminated in flickering orange candlelight, or the old swimming pool filled to the brim. When I took a step forward, my foot sunk into something soft, and I made the mistake of looking down. Bodies.
I guessed that was "The Drink".
I felt myself fall back, but Ana's warm arms were guiding me away from decomposing flesh which decapitated heads poisoned in a way that I could almost call ritualistic. There were bodies everywhere, all of them curled up or had died in a position of prayer. Jude crouched in front of a guy still in his Starbucks apron. His eyes had been cleanly plucked from his skull. Jude's expression was beautifully sombre in the candlelight. "Fuck, dude," he whispered.
"Looks like they got you."
“Which explains how they got their hands on our recipe.” Ana pulled out her gun and clicked off the safety. The girl’s eyes were suddenly sad, her lip wobbling. I had a hard time believing a girl who had taken out three baristas at point-blank range was crying.
“What is this place?” I whispered. "What the fuck are you doing in here?”
Jude straightened up. Ana moved behind him, and I noticed her hands holding her gun were trembling. She raised her arm, pointing it at the back of his head. Jude didn't retaliate, only sending me a sickly smile. "It used to be ours," he said. "Until other stores started opening, and it became a fucking free-for-all." Jude sighed, rocking back and forth on his heel. Ana's trigger finger followed his movements. "We have a peace treaty..." Jude trailed off. "Sorry. HAD a peace treaty." He nodded to his colleague. "Second Street has always been obsessed with this particular blend we have that other stores don't." His lips curved. "They're greedy, and thought they could fuck with us. First, they took our last manager. He was like a dad to us. Sliced him up and sent us his head." He gestured to his friend. "And then they took Ren. They brought this shit upon themselves."
As he spoke, Jude dropped to his knees and closed his eyes, bowing his head in front of the Siren. Ana didn't move. "Are you ready?"
I screamed, slamming my hand over my mouth when this time when Ana shot Jude point blank in the back of the head. When his body crumpled to the ground, something inside me snapped in two, and I couldn’t breathe suddenly. I thought the two were playing some kind of sick game before I caught unmistakable seeping black pooling across the alter.
In the blur of orange candlelight, it was almost a mesmerizing sight. “Shush!” Ana sent me an annoyed look, before gathering his body in her arm. “Make yourself useful and grab a bucket,” she said, stumbling towards the pool. I watched her, my heart diving into my throat. When I didn’t move, Ana hissed out and twisted around.
“Did you not hear me?!” she yelled. “Get a bucket and start collecting it!” The girl gestured towards a large, rusted pipe looming over the pool, a stream of murky brown water leaking into the pool. When I started forwards, the girl shook her head. “Not yet.” She said, before heaving Jude’s body and throwing him into the darkness. I heard the splash, but I didn’t even see his body hit the surface. Part of me wanted to demand what the fuck she was doing, but I did what I was told, with trembling hands, grabbing a bucket and shuffling over to the pool edge. Ana hissed out again. “I said not yet!” Before I could speak, she held a finger to her lips. “Do it now!”
“The pool water?!” I shrieked.
She raised a brow. “You think that’s water?”
Before I could coerce some kind of speech, I was interrupted by what felt like a sudden earthquake. The ground rumbled under our feet, and I hesitated before dropping the bucket into the water and scooping up as much as I could. I quickly realized it wasn’t water. It was thick with the constancy of blood, coffee brown and yet sticky and warm like blood.
Above us, the pipe seemed to come to life, a brand new stream of murky brown solution coming down in a waterfall. I didn’t think about the pieces of flesh floating on the surface, the decomposing heads I caught bobbing around, or the fact that I was dipping my hands in blood. Coffee and blood. My stomach was trying to projectile my lunch, but I swallowed it down. I took advantage, managing three buckets before Ana was grasping my shoulders and pulled me back. I didn’t realize I was sobbing until she was handing me a handkerchief, and I was staring at her and it, like, “What do you expect me to do with this?!”
Still in shock, I tried to get another bucket full before she dragged me from the pool edge. “You can stop now,” she said. “We have enough.”
I staggered back when the surface of the pool rippled. I don’t know what I expected to come out.
Not Jude, covered in the brown murky shit I had filled the buckets with. When he broke the surface, I almost threw one of the buckets at his head. Despite being covered in coffee and blood, his skin was oddly free of flaws. The guy was also really naked, which should have been a minor problem compared to what I was seeing, which was a real resurrection in front of a ten-foot statue of the Starbucks siren. Which was completely normal.
But I still found my cheeks heating up. Jude ran a hand through soaked curls sticking over his eyes, shaking them like a dog before pulling himself out. I couldn’t help noticing there was no gunshot wound. It was almost as if his body was completely new. I took in abnormally grey-looking skin, like dead flesh, before averting my gaze. “Did we do it?” He gasped out, immediately covering himself. Once out of the pool, he knelt on the ground, sucking in breaths of air before seemingly realizing the state of himself.
“Fuck. I didn’t think this through.”
“I did.” Ana reached into the backpack she had brought, pulling out a shirt and jeans, reverting her eyes, and throwing him the bundle. “Get dressed.” She said, But there was a slight smirk on her lips. “Yes. I think we managed to appease them.”
“Sweet!” Jude grinned, dressing quickly. He sucked the tips of his fingers. “Mmm.” He nodded at Ana. “That tastes a lot better.”
He gestured to her, and to my disgust, the girl delicately licked his fingers and nodded with her own smile. “It tastes like cherry blossom.”
His eyes fell on me, and I saw that inhuman gleam in his eye—that had been very much there before he was resurrected in a pool of coffee. His lip quirked. I could still see coffee-- or blood dripping in thick rivulets down his temples and cheek. “Should we?”
Jude turned to Ana. “I mean while we’re here, right? We can induct the newbie.”
Immediately, I knew what he was talking about. I stepped back, but he was following me, getting closer and closer until his breath was in my face, and I was teetering on the edge. I sensed something in his eyes, something I never expected from a man who knew exactly what he was doing. Envy. Another step, and I would be falling into what I was sure was a pool full of decomposing bodies and resurrecting coffee. “Not now,” Ana murmured, and Jude snapped out of it, taking a step back.
“Buzzkill.” He muttered.
But he did step away, allowing me to inch away from the pool.
“Later,” Ana said. “She’s shaken up. We can do it first thing tomorrow.”
To my surprise, there were no cops at the scene at Second Street. Because there was no scene.
The store was back to normal, and I didn’t have the energy to question why. When we returned, Aurora wrapped me into a hug I tried to get out of as quickly as possible, eager to get the fuck away from that place. But. I had to finish my shift. I had watched a man resurrected by coffee in a fucking Starbucks shrine, and yet somehow I had to keep making drinks until my shift ended. It was nearing closing time when the doors opened, and I found myself face-to-face with the girl from earlier. The one wearing the pink ray-bans.
She didn’t say anything, but the blade of her knife grazing my gut told me everything I needed to know. With a knowing look when she slipped off her raybans, she pressed something into my hand before leaving, and I handed it to the manager, who opened it up, almost died laughing, and then threw it in the trash.
“You work for psychopaths.” I managed to get out, sidling in front of Jude while he was clocking out.
“Also, didn’t you… didn’t you fucking die?”
Jude didn’t look up from his phone. “It’s complicated.” His lip quirked. “You’ll find out tomorrow during your induction.”
“But… you work for these people!” I lowered my voice. “And you’re not trying to get away?” I gestured to Kai and Aurora standing by the door, the two of them locked in conversation. “None of you?”
Jude frowned, and I caught the first hint of annoyance. I had only seen this guy smiling, so seeing him scowling was quite the change. “I’m sorry, do you… do you think I have a choice?”
He surprised me with a laugh. “Me? A choice? You really think I wake up every morning and WANT to do this shit?” He got close, his breath in my ear. “You came here willingly. I didn’t. In fact? I don’t even remember coming here. My interview, my first day? Nothing. I don’t even remember my time at Second Street.” He threw a towel at me before I could coerce words. “Finish clearing up, all right? I’ll see you tomorrow for induction.”
There was something cruel in his smile like he was waiting for whatever my induction had in store for me.
I couldn’t help myself. When everyone was gone, and I was tasked with locking up, I picked the discarded note out of the trash, smoothing it down.
“You pieces of shit just declared war. Sleep with one eye open! 😊”
I cut my finger with a knife this morning. When I sucked it and grabbed a band-aid, I tasted coffee. I went home and threw up coffee.
I am peeing coffee.
I showered 8 times and I still fucking smell of coffee.
I don’t think I’m going to go to work tomorrow.
Edit: There’s been a break-in— and the manager wants me to come in early. Jude and Ana woke me up in the middle of the night to go over tactics. We are taking down Second Street during closing time.
I guess I am going to work tomorrow.
Does anyone know how to use a gun?
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2023.06.09 20:41 Justhegirlnextdoor I think I've got a stalker... And he sends me sticky notes PART 4
Those of you who have been following my posts know that I’ve been getting sticky notes from a stalker, so you already know what to expect when I post. This time though, I need you to expect the unexpected…
I received another sticky note (a purple one again) and it came with another strange marking on one of the corners… “You’re running out of time, little mouse...”
Purple Sticky Note #2: https://imgur.com/a/xB0E0vb
All 3 Sticky Notes: https://imgur.com/a/mpihXK8
One of the comments on my last post mentioned that it may be a puzzle, and that maybe I should connect the sticky notes to see if it makes a picture? Since receiving this new sticky note, I think they might just be right… I also need to address the note I got from my neighbor across the hall from me, but I’ll get to that in a few paragraphs. Just bear with me and be patient... You'll understand why I saved that whole interaction for the ending of my post.
So, I finally took some time out to meet some of the other tenants on my floor. I’ll document what I thought about each of them individually, and maybe some of you can help me figure out if any of them might be a suspect? Someone in my last post mentioned my landlord (Jack), but for some reason I just can’t fathom him doing anything sinister? But then again… I really don’t know who I can trust, can I?
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ YESTERDAY, 4:30 PM Mrs. Kirtley & Derek _______?
“Can I help you with something?”
“Hi! I’m the new tenant that just moved into 13B, I just wanted to introduce myself!” Handing the woman the neatly wrapped box of cookies, I smiled and said, “I’m Anna, nice to meet you.” I figured if I was going to meet (interrogate) my neighbors, the best course of action would be to sweeten them up first.
Yanking the cookies from my grasp, the woman threw them on the ground and looked me right in the eye before saying, “Stay away from me. I don’t want anything that’s touched you or your apartment in my space.”
With a nod, I backed away and quickly apologized before she slammed the door. Confusion bubbled within me and my eyes couldn’t help but water when I saw the box on the ground. The cookies had all toppled out, some of them broken. The twine had come loose during the tumble. Crouching down, I scooped up the pieces and the crumbs and shoved them back into the box. Embarrassment burned at my cheeks as I scrambled to do so as fast as I could. Most of them fell onto her welcome mat which looked incredibly pristine before my unwanted cookies landed on it. Maybe she just didn’t take kindly to visitors? I know I certainly didn’t feel very “welcome”. My first impression of this woman was that she wasn’t very pleasant in the slightest. I didn’t even get her name. She was a willowy looking woman with thin gray hair and unusually blue eyes. Upon first glance, she didn’t even look as if she could hurt a fly, but her words said otherwise.
Before I could stand back up though, I felt a hand on my shoulder. A gasp escaped my lips and I jerked, the touch catching me off guard. Before I knew it, my elbow connected with a face and in the same instant I heard a slight groaning sound. Dropping the cookies, I turned around to see a man. I cringed when I noticed his hand clutching his nose, blood continuing to seep out from beneath his fingertips.
“Oh my gosh! I’m so sorry!” Rushing across the hallway to my door, I hurriedly pulled it open and called out to him, “Stay right there!” Grabbing a handful of napkins, I ran back out into the hall and handed them to him, guilt clawing at my insides. If only he knew why I was so jumpy. I’d been on nothing but high alert for days… “I’m so sorry! I didn’t even hear you walking up to me.”
A small chuckle escaped his lips as he took the napkins from my hands and held them up to his nose. “You sure are a lot stronger than you look, that’s for sure. I think you broke it.”
A million more apologies danced on the tip of my tongue and I started to recite them all before he cut me off and said, “It’s alright! It wouldn’t be the first time after all.”
I looked up at him curiously and he was quick to answer me.
“First time was during a boxing match with a buddy.” His hand applied steady pressure to the area, but the napkin was quickly filling up as he continued to speak. “I didn’t mean to scare you, but I caught the tail end of your encounter with our friendliest neighbor, Mrs. Kirtley.” The sarcasm in his voice was enough to make me crack a little grin. After my incident with that woman, I could really use a kind face. Before I could respond though, he was introducing himself. “I actually live right across from Mrs. Kirtley. My name’s Derek.”
Derek was tall and slim and athletic looking. He looked like the type that probably ran track in highschool?
“Well it’s very nice to meet you, Derek. I hate that your first impression of me wasn’t exactly…” I trailed off again before I continued, embarrassed that I let my paranoia get the better of me. “I, um, just moved in right across the hall here, do you want to come in for a bit? I’ve got a first aid kit -”
“Oh I’m fine! Really!” His eyes darted in the direction of my apartment. The look on his face mirrored the same look I received from Mrs. Kirtley… Fear?
I didn’t want to be pushy, but I also felt the extreme need to atone for my actions. Looking at the ground he shuffled his feet some as I spoke. “Please? I feel horrible about your nose. I’ve already made one bad impression, and the last thing I’d want is for another one.”
Glancing up at me, he looked at his watch and then finally relented. “I guess I could come in for a bit. You did hit me pretty hard after all. Not the nicest way to greet a neighbor…” My cheeks once again burned red before I broke out into laughter. His sarcasm was much needed and my laughter only seemed to push him onward. “I mean, if you greet all your neighbors like that-”
“Only the nice ones.” I interrupt, the corners of my mouth tugged up into a cheeky grin. His face mirrored mine as he made his way into my apartment.
“You’re witty.” He responded, “I like it. We could use a little of that around here. Most of the other neighbors are pretty dry.”
“Well,” I said as I grabbed the first aid kit from my bathroom, “I’m glad that I’ve offered some much needed change around here then.”
Opening the kit, he pilfered through it till he found the gauze. Shoving some of it into his nose, he looked over at me and pointed to my freezer. “You got a bag of frozen peas or somethin’?”
“I think I actually might!” Handing him the peas, he winced a little as he held the bag to his nose.
“Thanks…? Sorry, I never caught your name?”
“Oh, it’s Anna! I was too busy trying to knock you out to introduce myself, I guess.” A small laugh slipped past my lips when he shook his head and smiled back.
“Injury aside, you seem like a nice girl, so I’ll forgive ya this time!” Once again, his words were coated in just the right amount of sarcasm. Setting down the peas, he rubbed the bridge of his nose gingerly.
“Well..” I started awkwardly, “I would have brought you some cookies too, but unfortunately those all ended up on Mrs. Kirtley’s welcome mat…”
“You mean these?” Setting on my coffee table was the crumbled box of broken cookies. I’d forgotten to even grab them after all the commotion.
“Yes, actually! Thank you for grabbing those for me.”
“Of course. I ate a piece of one while you were looking for the first aid kit, and I’ve gotta hand it to ya, you’re a pretty decent baker.”
Brushing back a strand of my hair and tucking it behind my ear, my face lit up just the tiniest bit at that remark. Having a friend would be nice… But could I trust him??
The person I needed to meet the most lived right across from me and right beside Derek. He was the one that left me the note… And he was also the neighbor I was the most hesitant about meeting for that exact reason.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ YESTERDAY, 5:00 PM Dr. Matt Pryor
Knocking on his door took me at least a good 5 minutes. 3 minutes trying to figure out what I would even say and 2 minutes trying to convince myself to knock. But when I finally did, he was quick to answer.
“Hi, you were the one who left me the-”
The abrupt way in which he cut me off was slightly unnerving. I knew he’d probably been expecting me since he left that note on my doorstep, but I didn’t expect him to be so eager to see me?
The first thing I noticed when I stepped into his apartment was how insanely clean it was? It almost looked as if no one lived there at all. His apartment was very modern and everything was either in a shade of gray or black. It felt very... Sterile?
“Take a seat.” He said, instructing me to sit on one of the couches in the living room.
His strange demeanor was only proving to make me more nervous and uncomfortable, but despite his off-putting way of speaking, I knew I needed to hear him out.
“I apologize for coming across so…” He trailed off before changing the subject and holding out a hand in my direction. “Dr. Pryor, but you can just call me Matt.”
Matt looked to be of Italian descent. His hair was thick and dark and his face sported a couple of wrinkles above his forehead that led me to believe that maybe he was in his 40’s or 50’s? And he was dressed in formal attire. He donned black slacks, a white dress shirt with sleeves rolled up to his elbows and his tie was slightly loosened.
Shaking his hand, I tried to paste a smile across my face and offer my own pleasantries. “I’m Anna, nice to meet you.”
Nodding, he sat back in his chair and steepled his fingers together in thought for a few moments before he finally broke the silence. “I’m sure you’re wondering why I left that note on your doorstep. I didn’t mean for it to come across as strange, and I hope you didn’t take it that way, but I felt like I needed to warn you.”
“Warn me of what, exactly?” My own fingers fidgeted with a stray piece of string that had come loose at the bottom of my blouse.
He sucked in a quiet breath and appeared sort of apprehensive. “I’m not exactly sure how to say this without it sounding strange, but… I’ve been keeping an eye on you.”
“Excuse me...?” My breathing stilled for a moment and my eyes darted towards his door.
He instantly noticed my change in expression. “I- It’s not like that.” Stuttering over his words, he rubbed the bridge of his nose before saying, “What I mean is that I’ve noticed someone exiting your apartment… But I’ve never seen them enter.”
Every hair on my body stood on end at his words. “What… What do you mean?”
“What I mean is that I find it incredibly concerning that this person is somehow able to get into your apartment other than using your door…” His eyebrows were knitted together in worry. “Have you…” He paused. “Have you been noticing anything strange? Things moving in your apartment perhaps??”
I instantly paled. “I’ve been… Receiving strange notes. Sticky notes left in different places. Up until recently, they have only ever been in my apartment.”
“Well I just… I wanted you to know that I’m looking out for you. Whoever it is has been incredibly good at hiding their identity, because I cannot explain to you for the life of me what this person looks like.”
I watched as his hands carded through his hair. This man was just as on edge as I was, and in a way, it was almost sort of comforting to know that I wasn’t alone in feeling absolutely terrified.
“And you can’t recall any details about what this person looks like?” I questioned.
Scratching the stubble on his chin, he sat quietly for a few moments before commenting. “I honestly cannot tell you anything appearance wise. Every Time I’ve seen them leave, they have always been covered. Black hoodie, black pants, black shoes. I can only guess based on the height and build that it might be a man?”
“The handwriting on the sticky notes makes me believe that he is a man as well.”
Nodding, he sat in silence for a beat or two before he looked down at his watch. “Well, I’ve got some errands I need to run so I will see you out, but I just wanted you to know that I’d be on the lookout for any more suspicious activity.”
Reaching out, I shook his hand again and thanked him before leaving.
In the end, I don’t know if meeting my neighbors really shed any light on the situation, but it was a relief to have my suspicions validated and to know that I wasn’t absolutely crazy. That someone had really been in my apartment. But then there was the chilling statement I’d heard him say that still continued to bother me… It was playing over and over in my head like some sick mantra. “What I mean is that I’ve noticed someone exiting your apartment… But I’ve never seen them enter
Somehow, whoever this psycho was, he was accessing my apartment… From the inside.
If you missed PART 3: https://www.reddit.com/nosleep/comments/144i2aw/i_think_ive_got_a_stalker_and_he_sends_me_sticky/?utm_source=share&utm_medium=web2x&context=3
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2023.06.09 18:33 Jeyradan Questions about titanium (not weight)
What are people's thoughts on titanium versus aluminum for non-weight reasons
I get the same funding and insurance coverage no matter what I choose, but I have to pay any costs that exceed those limits. I basically have three options:
- an aluminum chair exactly as I want it, cost to me about $850
- a titanium chair close to how I want it, cost to me about $1,450
- a titanium chair exactly as I want it, cost to me about $3,650
(That last one is beyond what I had planned to spend, but I could make arrangements if needed.)
All three of these weigh almost exactly the same, so that aspect is kind of moot. What do people think about the other qualities of titanium? For context:
- Vibration is a minor issue for me, but not a huge one. My area does have a variety of surfaces (from smooth pavement to cracks, potholes, gravel, unpaved trails, etc.). I know titanium is more vibration-dampening than aluminum, but that same flex makes it less efficient to push and...
- Efficiency is extremely important to me because I have low strength and endurance. What have titanium chair users noticed about efficiency?
- I live in an area with extreme temperatures, but I've never really had an issue with frame temperature (other than sideguards, which won't be metal this time).
- In my area, the roads and sidewalks are frequently salted or treated with ice melt in winter. I've read that titanium will last longer under those conditions; do any users have thoughts? My old aluminum chair seems structurally fine, but definitely has a lot of white spots and streaks where salty meltwater has affected the surface.
I'm interested in any thoughts anyone has, including anything I might not have thought of! I will be trying a titanium chair out for a few days, but that won't answer all of my questions, especially the ones around cold weather, durability, corrosion, etc. Thanks in advance!
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2023.06.09 18:28 OfAshes [A Game of Chess] - Chapter 45 - Out of the Abyss
Chess is truly an interesting game, even with only one board. Managing the wants of your pawns, the directions they want to go against the ones you need them to - it is said that the God of Chess was the only one who understood it properly, and, as everyone knows, all the gods died centuries ago, in the Thousand Years War.
But this game is different. 3 pairs of players with 3 boards stacked on top of one another, a single Wild Card crowning the final game. That Wild Card is Melony, a girl living in the dying City who abruptly finds herself thrown into a world that confuses past, future, and present. Who will be the victor, and what does it mean to win? Chapter Teaser:
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what to think of the Aspect of Justice. She didn’t want to trust him, but at the same time she wanted to be able to – because she wasn’t going to have a choice in whether she had
to. Though Daederisha could highlight the paths forward for her, the deluge of information was far more abstract than simple directions – though they showed her that she could choose to trust the Aspect of Justice or ignore him or that she could wait here or leave, they didn’t show her where to go.
On top of that, Melony was extremely conscious of the time limit. The rune of protection would only last so long, and she was already finding it slightly harder to breathe from when she’d first arrived in the Abyss.
“Well?” prompted the Aspect of Justice, head cocked to one side. “Am I correct in assuming that you have a reason
for being here, or…?”
Mel crossed her arms, mirroring his pose as well as his phrasing. “Am I correct in assuming that you have a reason for helping me, or…?”
Ardeln barked a laugh. “Very well, very well. How about this, then: I’ll give you the… simplified answer to your question, and you give me the simplified answer to mine. If we’re both satisfied, then we’ll move on to the fine details.”
Melony tilted her head to one side. “Daederisha?” she asked, not taking her eyes off the Aspect of Justice. Hm? I’m fine with it,
responded the sword to both of them, then continued in a mental voice that only Mel could hear, Time is wasting, though. Don’t waste too much of it – I can almost guarantee that you’re going to have problems with the Aspect of Circles.
The Aspect of Justice looked vaguely amused by her consultation of the demon sword, but nevertheless clapped his hands together and smiled. “I might not know very much of what’s going on with you,” he said, shaking his said in affected sadness, “but from what little I’ve seen, I can tell that it’s very… interesting. And I hate
to miss out on something like that.”
He raised an eyebrow toward her and Mel smiled brightly. “Saving the world,” she said, feeling Daederisha’s amusement radiating from its place in its sheath.
Ardeln raised an eyebrow, obviously interested in her answer. “Which world?” he asked.
Melony shook her head. “Your turn, first,” she responded, watching closely for his reaction. She was reasonably sure that he wasn’t lying, but she’d rather be completely
The Aspect of Justice sighed. “You do know about demon swords, yes?” At Mel’s nod, he continued. “I figured as much, given your association with Daederisha and Haerkisha. However, from our side of it,” he said, tapping his chest, “though we remove the memories of the past, we’re not entirely
interrupted Daederisha. That is very, very debatable.
The demon continued, only sparing a single amused glance toward the sword in response to its comment. “We preserve some basic knowledge, though not as one who experienced it, but rather from a… third person perspective.” Ardeln was watching Mel with interest. “Most demons despise contact with the swords forged from their memories, and while it is… unpleasant, it is sometimes necessary.” Hurry it up, please,
snapped the sword. I’d like to actually get something done, soon
The Aspect of Justice shook his head, but, somewhat to Mel’s surprise, continued at a slightly faster pace. “There were three very interesting anomalies that presented themselves the first time we met,” he said, glancing at Mel. “Well, more than three – there were three main
ones. And I couldn’t act until I’d gathered more information – information I no longer had. I consulted one of the demon swords that I had helped forge following the Thousand Years War, and it definitely confirmed my suspicions. The Sphere of Chess was a part of this somehow, Haerkisha was both still in the mortal world and
involved, and he’d been overseeing a chess game with a very
interesting Wild Card.”
He paused, glancing toward Melony. “The sword Remembers… respecting her. She was devilishly clever, and if the Aspect of Strategy was involved, too, in something as chaotic as a chess game…” The Aspect of Justice trailed off, raising his shoulders in an elaborate shrug. “Something important is going on, and I’d be a fool – and a bit of a jerk – to interrupt it. I think I’d rather see this to its conclusion.”
Mel tilted her head contemplatively. His logic and motivation made sense. “Well,” she said, far more cheerfully than she felt, “Allessa and the Aspect of Strategy aren’t the only ones involved,” she said. “The Sphere of Runes and Technology are in on this as well, along with a number of mortals who you’d probably consider unimportant.” Ardeln, his eyebrows now raised, looked extremely amused with her rapid speech. “As for what you can do for me – I need an audience with… Claide, was it? Aspect of Circles.”
She looked at him expectantly, and he shook his head. A long pause stretched out, and then he spoke again. “And what, exactly, is the goal here?”
Mel affected not to understand.
The Aspect of Justice crossed his arms. “You did promise the full explanation, my dear. I think I’d like to hear it.”
“I promised no such thing,” Mel said calmly. “First, the question you asked was what I needed, which I have
answered in full, and second, I only promised details, a great number of which I have supplied.”
Ardeln regarded her for a moment, opened his mouth, and then closed it again. “I think,” he said slowly, “that I’m going to trust the Sphere of Chess and Haerkisha’s judement on this. Furthermore,” he said, continuing in an undertone, as if talking to himself. “By some definitions of fairness, I would owe her – as well as the Spheres of Runes and Technology – for what we did in the War.” He paused a moment more, then shook his head and motioned for Melony to follow him. “This way, then,” he said.
Mel stooped to pick up the Aspect of Thresholds’s weapon, which they’d abandoned in their fury, and followed, glancing at Daederisha. As if picking up on her thoughts, the sword said, You can trust him. He
is the Aspect of Justice – he keeps his word.
“You said I could trust Therma and Marcos, too,” she muttered in an undertone, hopefully too low for the Aspect of Justice to hear. And I was right!
exclaimed the sword indignantly.
Mel merely shook her head and continued on, following the Aspect of Justice through the streets. She noticed that he made sure she never got too close to any of the other demons who were near them – close enough to be seen, perhaps, but not so close that they’d be able to tell that she was mortal.
Finally, they arrived at one of the branching tree buildings, and he led her inside. “He’s usually here,” Ardeln said in an undertone. “Not one for moving around much.” A winding, and slightly ruined, set of stairs, before knocking on a closed sliding door. “Aspect of Circles?” he called out, his voice loud enough to travel through the wall.
A short pause stretched out, as if the Aspect of Circles was trying to decide whether to answer. “...Yes?” came a thin voice finally, sounding resigned. “I assume this is important?”
“Oh, no,” the Aspect of Justice responded cheerfully. “That’s why I ran halfway across the Growth, climbed up that accursed staircase, and knocked on your door. Because it wasn’t
important.” Then, with a wink at Melony, he opened the door. “There’s someone here to see you.”
The thin, short demon at the desk looked up and squinted at her, appearing annoyed at the interruption until he suddenly sat bolt upright in his seat. “A mortal?” he said incredulously.
“See?” said the Aspect of Justice, already moving toward the door. “Not important! Anyway, I will be outside the door. Preferably close enough to eavesdrop, but you can never really tell how thick the walls are in these buildings.” With a wistful sigh, Ardeln exited the room, pulling the door shut behind him. Hey there Claide,
remarked Daederisha cheerfully, reminding Mel that the Aspect of Justice had hinted addressing a demon by there name was disrespectful and prompting yet another wide eyed stare from the Aspect of Circles. The demon recovered quickly, however, and leaned back in his chair, arms crossed.
The demon and Mel were standing – or, in his case, sitting – on opposite sides of a large desk, scattered with different papers. Smiling widely, she pulled the contract out of her bag and laid it on the desk with a flourish, watching the demons eyes widen, then narrow, as he read it in its entirety.
Melony watched with narrowed eyes, finding it hard to get a read on the demon and remembering Daederisha’s warning that they were likely to have trouble with him.
“I see,” Claide said finally, leaning back in his chair and folding his hands together on the desk. “Yes, I see. Now, mortal, tell me: why should I accept.”
Mel regarded him with a flat stare. “Wow,” she said, her tone laced with sarcasm and very aware that she was mimicking Samheim. “I really don’t know. Everything just seems so
great in the Abyss, why would you ever
want to leave? Nope. Couldn’t tell you.”
Claide glared at her. “Why should we be subordinate to mortals?” he demanded. “You – and your entire world are imperfect and weak, and – ”
A muffled voice from the other side of the wall cut him off. “Sorry to interrupt,” said the Aspect of Justice, not sounding sorry in the slightest, “But the young lady would’ve beaten Deri in a duel had I not intervened. I believe she still has their spear?” Also, when we’re on the subject of imperfect,
remarked Daederisha, have you, uh, looked around recently? At the Abyss? Yeah
The Aspect of Circles glanced at the spear she was holding in surprise, then seemed to reevaluate his opinion of her. “Deri… Aspect of Thresholds. Hmmm.” Then, seeming to brighten, he reached for a pen and moved to the bottom of the contract. “Very well,” he said. “I’ll sign.”
He didn’t quite make it through the second part of his statement before Daederisha was out of its sheath, buried in the desk, having teleported to knock the pen out of the demon’s hands. Oh no you don’t,
snapped the sword. You don’t need a pen to sign a demon contract – just your circle
Claide scowled, and Mel suddenly hoped that he’d capitulate without too much more hassle. It was once again harder to breathe. Come on,
encouraged Daederisha as Mel moved to pick the sword up. You want out of the Abyss, here’s a way out of the Abyss. A solution just falls into your lap and you ignore it? I’m a sword. I’m not supposed to be smarter than you, but here we are.
The Aspect of Circles’ scowl seemed to deepen, directed in equal part at both Mel and Daederisha. “Your solution is proposed by a mortal, demon sword.” Melony’s solution,
corrected the sword, seeming to take great pleasure in Claide’s discomfort. She supposed she could understand that – here they were, a mortal and a demon sword, two beings looked down upon by most demons, wielding the power over these negotiations. It is not my solution, it is Melony’s,
continued Daederisha. I’m just along for the ride!
“I am not going to accept a solution that places mortals above us,” hissed the Aspect of Circles.
He was about to continue, but Mel interrupted him. “Really?” she asked, in tones of conversational interest. “You’re not going to accept this way out of the Abyss?” Claide opened his mouth to reply, but Mel ignored him. “That’s too bad. I really wonder what’s going to happen when everyone else here,” she said, gesturing expansively to the outside world, “realizes that you’ve single handedly doomed them to stay here forever. I can’t imagine that I’d be very happy with you, were I in that situation.” She winked. “But hey, at least being dead here will be better than, ah, what was it… living in a forest in the mortal world?”
Mel thought she might have heard Ardeln’s muffled laughter through the wall, but she wasn’t sure. Maintaining eye contact with the Aspect of Circles, she watched as he leaned back in his chair and studied her. Cocking his head to one side, she watched as his anger seemed to cool and harden into a quiet animosity mixed with something else she couldn’t quite place. He considered the contract for a minute, then, glancing up at her, placed his hand on the bottom, his circle etching itself into the paper.
Accompanied by the feeling of triumph emanating from Daederisha, Melony breathed a sigh of relief, noticing as she did so that it was harder to breathe than before. Quickly, she sheathed Daederisha and picked up the contract, aware that it was probably much safer for it to be in the Old Man or Marsha’s hands than left in the Abyss with the Aspect of Circles.
Mel smiled, feeling the beginnings of the pull that she’d felt when Daederisha had pulled her into the Abyss. “Pleasure doing business with you,” she said, conscious of the crackling of energy permeating the Abyss as the contract took effect.
Then she was gone from one place and back to another. Navigation:
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2023.06.09 18:14 throwawaysintoreddit PSA: the Hammock Chair doubles as a NSFW Swing
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My spouse (late-30m) and I (mid-30f) bought this chair for our next camping trip, but after test-building it in our bedroom, we ended up using it to enjoy the most amazing PIV sex ever. (I swear, at certain angles, he felt 2x as long!) submitted by throwawaysintoreddit to Costco [link] [comments]
Fair warning, the height of the chair is not ideal for this particular use, but we had a platform in our room that raised the chair to the right height for penetration. My oh my were we both pleased. 😅
2023.06.09 17:43 Selectbk Shouldn’t I be able to set up a regular 10x10 canopy over this tent add on? I have two Ozark straight leg 10x10’s and just looking for an easy way to have a tent
2023.06.09 16:33 MagicGrit First time Peacher, but I've used this checklist (or similar) for any fest I've gone to. What am I missing?
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2023.06.09 16:30 khoafraelich789 2023 Chevrolet Tahoe Z71 First Test Review: The SUV That Does It All
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Need to do, well, just about anything? The Tahoe can handle it.
Aggressive approach and departure angles
Soft-touch interior details
Great versatility for family adventuring
5.3-liter V-8's lackluster performance/economy
20-inch wheels aren't practical for off-roading
Push-button gear selector is fussy for no good reason
In these SUV-crazed times, and when gas prices are a lesser concern, the Chevrolet Tahoe just might be the quintessential modern family vehicle. As a jack of all trades, it can tow toys, haul stuff, transport people, tackle a trail, and hold its own in the valet line. But as the saying continues, as a master of none, the 2023 Chevy Tahoe Z71 we tested isn't overwhelmingly excellent in any one category, instead aiming for a well-rounded, realistic target that it mostly nails for families (and businesses) with lots of things to do. For these customers, versatility beats being a master of one, as the saying sometimes ends. And hey, it's way more stylish than settling into minivan life.
Z71 Trim: What It Includes
The Z71 is the Tahoe's most off-road-oriented trim, falling below the Premier and High Country in terms of starting price. Exterior visual differences up front include a skidplate and a high-clearance fascia with red recovery hooks. Seasoned off-roaders know GM trucks have poor approach angles that often result in stuffing the front end into obstacles and ripping off valances, so this adapted front end is a definite positive for those who will actually take their Z71 on the trail. That fascia combines with the Z71's available air suspension (good for a 2-inch boost over normal ride height) to provide an approach angle of 34.5 degrees; the Z71's departure angle is 22.5 degrees, and both angles represent useful improvements over more road-oriented models.
The Z71 also features machined aluminum 20-inch wheels wrapped in 275/60 (33-inch) Goodyear Wrangler TrailRunner AT tires, black assist steps, and black roof-mounted side rails. The Z71 Off-Road package, available for another $6,000, bundles the Luxury, Max Trailering, Driver Alert, and Off-Road Capability packages, allowing buyers to pack on tons of features with one check mark. The last package specifically adds an electronically controlled limited-slip differential (eLSD), Magnetic Ride Control dampers, and adaptive air springs. You cannot order a Z71 with GM's excellent Super Cruise hands-free driving system, however.
The adaptive air suspension automatically adjusts for road conditions, lowering to improve aerodynamics and efficiency. You can also adjust it manually. Once in park, it kneels (lowers) for easier egress—though it's a rather slow process. The system is quiet with no loud air compressor sound and pretty seamless.
The setup offers nice ride quality, but does it make or break the Z71? Not really, as Tahoes on the regular suspension aren't uncomfortable. On the plus side, we used it to adjust heights when hooking and unhooking trailers. Why jump on the tailgate to disengage the ball when you can air down and lower the hitch?
Why We're Testing It
About that electronic limited-slip differential that we mentioned: When we previously tested a Chevy Tahoe Z71, the eLSD wasn't yet available; instead, that truck had a mechanical rear limited-slip diff. Again, this isn't a feature that's going to make or break the Z71 for the majority of customers; most of the time, you'd never know it was there. In certain low-range limited-traction circumstances, it could make a difference. That said, our colleagues at Four Wheeler put it to the test: "Our crew found that [the eLSD] wasn't tuned quite as well as the competition's. It's almost as if GM's engineers designed the Tahoe's eLSD to require a lot of wheelspin before engaging. An actual electronically controlled locking rear differential would make a world of difference." It becomes even less of a necessity considering most folks won't want to have our test SUV's 20-inch wheels if they're going to do regular trailwork.
Ain't So Peppy But Gets It Done
Our Radiant Red four-wheel-drive 2023 Chevy Tahoe Z71 housed the 5.3-liter V-8 making 355 hp and 383 lb-ft of torque. It gets the big SUV up to speed with little fanfare and works through a 10-speed automatic transmission that happily works away in the background. If you love the good ol' sounds and experience of a trusty V-8, the Tahoe's for you—your gas engine choices are this V-8 or a different V-8. (A torquey 3.0-liter turbodiesel is also available.) However, long gone are the days when V-8 automatically means quicker and faster than the rest.
Our Z71 accelerated from 0 to 60 mph in 7.3 seconds. Not bad, Jack, but the problem is that nearly all the four-wheel-drive full-size three-row competition betters that time. The Ford Expedition and Toyota Sequoia with their twin-turbo V-6s are both quicker, with the former reaching 60 mph a full two seconds ahead of the Z71. Rather than hanging with the zippy V-6s, the Z71 sandwiches nicely between its V-8 competitors, the Nissan Armada on top and the Wagoneer on the bottom. (Of course, the Wagoneer's V-8 Hemi is going bye-bye in favor of the excellent Hurricane twin-turbo inline-six.) The Z71 is the only one of these SUVs under 400 horsepower, and the fact that it's light—only the Expedition is lighter—doesn't make a difference. Maybe it's good there's a new sixth-gen small-block in the works.
Stick With The 5.3-Liter
The other available V-8, the 6.2-liter, is good for an additional 65 hp and 77 lb-ft of torque. Maybe more displacement delivers more awesome? Naturally, the 6.2-liter offers stronger foot-to-the-floor acceleration, but it also results in a heavier Tahoe that can tow and haul less than the 5.3-liter. Plus, the option tacks on an immediate $8,605 or so. And it requires premium gasoline.
Unless you absolutely insist on having the biggest V-8 you can get, we'd stick with the 5.3-liter. Any benefits of the 6.2-liter just don't outweigh the 5.3-liter. The 5.3-liter pulls the Tahoe around reasonably well in regular driving, and no one in the school drop-off line will really be the wiser.
All Those Trades This Jack Of An SUV Covers
Let's look at all the trades this jack covers. First, it's good for four people. The Chevy Tahoe Z71 can seat seven, even eight, but it's really in its element with four aboard. They each have their own captain's chair to stretch out, and the rear entertainment system with dual 12.6-inch screens now comes with built-in apps, making it more broadly useful. It's perfect for a family of four, with room in the third row for occasionally carrying grandparents or your kids' friends. Getting the whole crew out the door to dinner can be like herding cats; taking everyone in one car is a definite bonus. With the third row down, there's also enough room for all four folks to bring a decent load of luggage. If you plan to use the third row consistently, however, things get cramped very quickly. You gain people, but with the third row in use, you lose luggage room for those extra people. For families greater than four considering a Tahoe, we'd recommend a Suburban.
It can haul and tow. The Z71 has a payload of about 1,700 pounds and as equipped here can tow 8,200 pounds. Sans kids, we once flipped all but the driver and passenger seats down and hauled a metric ton of overlanding gear to install on another project. The enclosed, upright space handled everything like a boss, and it would have been much harder to secure the load in a pickup. Plus, the Z71 has automatic load-leveling thanks to that air suspension.
As for towing, we hitched an 8,000-pound 21-foot toy hauler to the Z71's cousin, the GMC Yukon AT4, and dragged it on a 2,400-mile road trip. We faced white-knuckle wind at the Bonneville Flats—the strongest we've ever experienced—steep grades, and everything in between. It did the job with confidence and stability. It's not all glowing, though. We averaged less than 9 mpg mpg while towing. Combined with the 24-gallon fuel tank, we were stopping for gas literally every time we could.
It's not miserable off-road. Short of "death-wheeling," proceed with confidence. The Z71 does not feel like it'll fall apart off-road. For sketchier trails, it has four-low, the eLSD, an Off-Road drive mode, 10 inches of ground clearance, a bumper made for moderate step-ups, and multiple camera angles for seeing obstacles. You probably won't go buy a Z71 specifically for off-roading—and if you do, again, you probably want to fit smaller wheels—but our colleagues at Four Wheeler named the GMC variant its SUV of the Year.
In The End …
The Chevrolet Tahoe Z71 isn't the most glamorous SUV going; even the GMC Yukon is perceived as more prestigious. But it can tow, it can take you far off the beaten path without shaking itself to death, it can swallow a ton of cargo, and it's as comfortable for long trips as almost anything you can buy. If you don't crave extra power or stout acceleration and aren't a fan of flashy SUVs, it's worth a look.
2023.06.09 15:16 lovergirl2920 My “light housework” daily checklist
This is printed out and taped to the refrigerator so I don’t forget :). This is what is expected of me DAILY on top of taking care of her 7 month old and occasionally the toddler. I work Monday-Friday 7am-7pm and make $1200. Please tell me this is not a fair trade because I feel crazy. 60 hours a week divided by 1200 is $20 an hour and I feel like I am doing double the amount I should be.
This is also a specific list on top of: drop off/ pick up, preparing meals, grocery shopping, getting the kids dressed and bathed!
Checklist - Dishwashers loaded and on OR emptied - Counters clean - Bottles cleaned and returned to bins with the tops on them - Formula area downstairs - clean bin (about once a week please rinse out the actual bin because formula gathers in it), tops on bottles (please try to keep track of these and keep them on the bottles), tops on formula - Nursery - everything put away, fill diapers into the caddy & if Oliver is awake curtains open - Diaper pail - out every day - Laundry - Every day throw in what we have and just keep that moving, clothes folded and back in: - Top drawer: pajamas - Middle drawer: shirts, sweaters - Bottom drawer: pants, onesies, sets - Stroller - everything out, all trash thrown away - check pink milk bag for a used bottle and throw out hot water - Fold blanket and put in basket (if dirty please wash in washing machine on Delicate) - Return all hats, sunglasses and other oliver accessories to his room - Burp cloths and bibs - please make sure kitchen basket has a mix of both and the living room basket is full of burp cloths - Check laundry downstairs for burp cloths and bibs and keep those clean and refilled in the baskets - Living room - toys arranged back in baskets (wipe down play mats a few times a week or when needed) - Wash bottle warmers (1-2x weekl) - Sanitize tovs (remember black bag of toys in stroller) - Purple baby seat and high chair seat (maybe 1x / week, let's see how dirty they get) Wipe down the suede mats under the feeding areas with water and paper towel Bathtub (wipe down actual tub after each use and make sure the hammock can fully dry, wash the hammock weekly) - Baby puree (every other day & throw out purees older than 2 days)
EDIT**** it’s the whole families dishes that I handle loading and unloading several times a day otherwise they just sit there… it’s grocery shopping, vacuuming, taking the three kitchen trashes out… mind you I accidentally leave a baby bottle without a cap and I am suddenly the anti-Christ.
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2023.06.09 14:55 kiplet1 [City of Roses] no. 27.3: “Quite distressing” – well as She might – taking Any hand – Something falls
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“Quite distressing,” says the older man, there in the wingback chair. “Though one does not wish to play the churl. A certain degree of disarray must certainly be allowed, given the shocks – the challenge, the duel – ”
“Allowed?” says Agravante, there by the yellow stone fireplace, an elbow up on the mantel, and the older man takes a sip of milky tea from a thin bone china cup. “How is the King’s champion, by the way?” he says.
“Death’s door,” says Agravante. There on the mantel by his elbow a fiendish little basket-box, carved from a chunk of dark red wood. “Shame,” says the older man, shaking his head, stiff grey curls swept back, and the collar of his shirt undone, a blue scarf knotted tidily about his throat. “Though it is distasteful, how they might linger, on that threshold? Neither here, nor there,” and another sip of tea.
“What is it that distresses you, Medardus,” says Agravante. White-gold locks tied neatly black, his grey suit shot with blue.
“It’s a delicate question I’d have answered, Pinabel,” says the older man, setting the cup in the saucer on his lap, clink. “Does the King yet mean to pursue his bold vision?”
Agravante’s brow pinches. “Of course,” he says. “Insofar as I know.”
Medardus smiles. “Delicately put,” he says. “It’s been two days.”
“These things take time.”
“Two days,” says Medardus, “since he took from me mine offer,” knobbled fingers closing in a fist, drawn up by his yet-mild smile. “And not a word said since.”
“There’s much to be considered,” says Agravante. “Four of you do vie for her hand.”
“Please, Pinabel,” says Medardus, dropping his hand, and a clatter of cup and saucer. “It’s an indulgence to pretend the choice isn’t manifestly clear – that mine is not the best offering.”
“The best, perhaps,” says Agravante. “But sufficient?” A slatey shoulder shrugs.
“The King would demand more?”
“How can I answer that,” says Agravante, “when I know nothing of what you’ve promised, or he might require.”
“Nothing,” says Medardus, still smiling. “Such a delicate word.” Setting cup and saucer on the low table between them. “I would hope,” he says, “it could always be said that the Hound has done well by Medardus,” and he knots those knobby fingers in his lap. “Much as it can be said, to a surety, that Medardus has done well by the Hound.”
Rather carefully, Agravante does not smile at that, or nod, his shoulders do not move, nor does his arm, there by the basket-box. “Of course,” he says.
“But it’s also said,” says Medardus, “that a fear grips your court: that the line is not unbroken. That the Queen, despite her, prodigious recovery, has no Bride of her own. That your King’s hand, howsomever reluctantly, is forced. That he means,” and here Medardus leans forward, elbows on knees, “to take the Princess for himself, and that is why our offers go unanswered.” Sitting back, a dismissive fillip of his fingers. “Or so it’s said.”
“By some,” says Agravante.
“Indeed,” says Medardus.
“But not to me,” says Agravante.
“Ah.” Medardus pushes himself to his feet. “Tell me,” he says, as Agravante leads him out of the little drawing room, “how fares the Count?”
“Grandfather?” says Agravante, pushing open the sliding wood-paneled door. “He sleeps.” Beyond, a narrow hall, in the shadow of a long straight staircase.
“Oh,” he says. “It’s you.” A glass of wine in his hand, something dark. “She isn’t here.”
“She will be, soon enough,” says Marfisa, muddy boot up on the side porch step. “Jason, can I just, wait inside?” The collar of her sheepskin coat turned up, loose white hair stirred by a gust. He steps back, the door held open, his lips a sour purse between his mustache and his dull red beard.
Up the steps into a mud room, painted blue, forgotten coats and a tangle of umbrellas, a scooter, a chalkboard palimpsested with to-dos and shopping lists, “Ah ah,” he’s saying, pointing, thick-lensed glasses blanked out by the ceiling light, and she scrubs her boots against a mat before stepping up into a kitchen to the left there, ruddy stove and a steaming pot of something, stainless steel refrigerator hung about with coupons and note cards, a calendar, a math test festooned with red checks and gold stars, past a breakfast bar sloppily piled with newspapers and a box of soda cans, into a narrow sitting room, a low brown couch, a girl tucked at one end of it, under a red and yellow blanket, and pink headphones startling against her dark hair, watching something on the tablet on her lap. “Grace,” says Jason, still in the kitchen, but she’s already snatching off the headphones, a burst of chirpy music, as Marfisa steps about the low coffee table. “Hey, Mar,” says the girl on the couch, and “Grace,” says Jason again, “upstairs,” as Marfisa sits herself at the other end. Something bulky’s tucked in her coat, she leans over the table, pulling it out, a flat paper sack that spills out a sheaf of handbills, goldenrod pages splashed with black lines, a dancer rendered in calligraphy, and each marked by the green dot of an eye. “Oh, hey,” says the girl, springing from under the blanket, all elbows and knees and clattering headphones, “is that,” says Jason says “Grace!” again, but she’s already scooped up a handbill, turning it over and back again, nothing else to it but little pull-tabs at the bottom, each printed with an elaborately arabesqued question mark. “You’re
putting these up?”
Marfisa shrugs. “You’ve seen them?”
“Yesterday, at Mississippi Pizza?” says Grace. “Did you hang ’em there?” Marfisa shrugs again. “The Mercury just had a thing about these things, like how nobody knows what they are, or who’s, it’s, it’s you! You’re doing it! Is it like, are you putting the band back together?” “Grace,”
says Jason. “What,”
snaps Grace, rolling her eyes away.
“Upstairs,” he says, “now. Flashcards till dinner.” “Jason,”
she says, but she’s kicking off the couch, scooping up the tablet, stomping around the table when back that way there’s a clatter and a squeak of hinges from that side porch, “I’m home!” cries someone, and “Carol!” cries Grace, turning on a dime, scampering off past Jason, through the kitchen, “Guess who’s here!”
Marfisa leans forward, slipping the handbills back in the sack, not looking up at Jason looking down at her.
And there’s Carol, by the breakfast bar, setting a brown leather book bag on the carpet. Draped in a brown and yellow striped serape, her dark hair neatly short. “Mar,” she says. “How are you.”
“Well as I might,” says Marfisa, looking up, pushing back a wave of white-gold hair. “What would you say to a chance to sing again, together?”
A hallway narrow, dim, dark doors to either side, silvery numerals set in the walls by each, slender 1s, a wiry 7, great round-bellied 6es, an 8, a 9. Iona in her yellow track suit leads the way around a corner, stops before the door at the end of the hall. 620, the numerals beside it. She plucks a white card from a pocket, holds it up before slipping it into the slot above the knob. “I miss keys,” she says, as the lock chunks, a green light flicking on. “These may be better, but not in any way that matters.” She opens the door. “Go on,” she says.
Within brown walls and gold, bathed in daylight hazed by yellow curtains drawn over corner windows. A comfortable yellow chair, a reading table and a lamp, unlit. A wide bed draped in blue and brown and at the foot of it, sat tailor-fashion, Ysabel, in a white chemise, and soft white leg-warmers thickly rumpled. “Starling,” she says, with a smile.
“My Queen,” says the Starling, a shadow there by yellow Iona, black jeans, black sweatshirt, the hood of it up. “This is not our usual Thursday,” she says, in not much more than a whisper.
“This isn’t a Thursday,” says Ysabel, nodding to Iona, who steps out, closing the door behind her. “This is a whole weekend, if you’d like.”
“But I must dance, ma’am,” says the Starling. “Today and tonight, at the club, and Saturday – ”
“It has been cleared, with your, manager,” says Ysabel. “You’re free, till Monday.”
“Free to be here, with you,” says the Starling. And then, “If it’s just to be the two of us?” Her words worn thin.
“If you’d like,” says Ysabel. “Or, step back through that door. The Chariot will happily take you anywhere in the city you may wish to go.”
The Starling reaches for the strap of the black gym bag slung from her shoulder. “I don’t mind,” she says, “being with you. I’ll just go change,” but “No,” says Ysabel, quickly, “Starling, no. Put that down. Sit with me.”
“My Queen,” says the Starling. “I am not who I am, when I’m with you.”
“Please,” says Ysabel. “Sit.”
The gym bag slumps to the speckled brown carpet. Stepping over, the Starling stands a moment before the foot of that bed, and Ysabel sat there, smiling up, but then she turns, the Starling, and finds the yellow chair behind her, and sits, a darkness in that weak light.
“I’m glad you came,” says Ysabel.
“My Queen desired it,” says the Starling.
“I thought,” says Ysabel, looking away. “I’d thought today that I might dance for you. I have danced, you know. At a party. She said I was quite good.”
“Of course,” says the Starling.
“I settled on an outfit,” says Ysabel, looking down at herself, “nothing too elaborate,” and “Good,” says the Starling, “but,” says Ysabel, “I’ve been flummoxed by my lips. What should the color be?” A hand, lifted to her mouth, her hair, “White?” she says. “To go with the ensemble? Or would that be too much? Would a simple red be enough?”
“No one pays attention to the lipstick,” says the Starling.
“You do,” says Ysabel, quickly, even sharply, and then, “You take such care, with yours.”
That hood shifts, down, to one side, dim light passing over her chin, the tip of her nose. “White’s better for the stage,” she says. “Too bold for such close quarters.”
“A simple red it is.”
“Your majesty is sad,” says the Starling, then. “Why should that be?”
“I,” says Ysabel, shoulders lifting, and her chin, a retort swelling but then suddenly pricked, deflating, and she looks away. “Affairs of the city,” she says.
“Not the heart, then?” says the Starling. “Nor the hips?”
Ysabel untucks herself, a bare foot lowered to the carpet, and her hands on the edge of the bed. “Tell me,” she says. “Do you know the smell, of blood?”
That shadow sits up. “I do, ma’am,” says the Starling.
“She sleeps,” Ysabel’s saying. “Peacefully. Her wound is poulticed with a fief’s portion. The bleeding’s long since stopped, but,” and she takes in a deep breath, shivering at the top of it, a sigh, “wherever I go in those rooms I still can smell
it, that – tang,
like an armor hot from the sun, and I,” but the Starling’s standing, stepping over, she kneels at the foot of the bed, reaches for a hand that Ysabel lifts away, “here I am,” she says, “holed up in a hotel across town.”
The Starling sits back on her heels. “Would you rather go to her?” but Ysabel’s shaking her head, “The Mason,” she says, “watches over her. She wants for nothing. I am,” but then she stops, and the Starling catches her hand, draws it down, covers it with her own. Ysabel says, “My brother once told me,” but then she stops again, blinking rapidly, looking down at the Starling looking up from under her black hood. “He was once a little boy,” says Ysabel. “Did you know that?”
“The King,” says the Starling, “yes, ma’am, of course. I remember those days.”
“Not even a Prince, just an infant, he came to me, in the little garden, and took my hand, and asked me, sister, why are you crying?” Turning her hand in the Starling’s hand, taking hold of it, squeezing. “And I said, because I do not wish to wed. But I am the Bride, I said, and one day a King will come, and I must take his hand. Whether I will or no, I must, but he,” looking away, “he swore to me, then and there, most earnestly, that he
would one day be the King, that I might never need take anyone’s hand.”
The Starling says, “And he did just that.”
“My brother,” says Ysabel, “the King, this,” and her eyes close, the lashes of them shining, “city,” she says, and her mouth closes about another, unsaid word, she swallows, and a lick at her lips. “Jo,” she says.
“My Queen,” says the Starling. “I will go, and change, and dance for you, to take your mind,” but “No,” says Ysabel, leaning forward, her hands on the Starling’s shoulders, “do not change, do not dress, do not perform,” lifting a hand, right to the very hem of that hood, but then pulled back, withdrawn. “I would see you just as you are,” she says, her hands once more in her lap.
“But, my lady,” says the Starling, and she reaches up to draw back that hood. “I am always as I am.” Black hair uncurled, slicked back, clipped down to stubble along her temples, about those ears. Her cheeks, the line of that jaw. The nose. Those eyes, only a hazeled hint of green. Thin lips unpainted, upturned, parting as Ysabel leans close to say, “And you are with me,” and then a feathery kiss, tugging at the Starling’s hands, lifting, the Starling who stands up before her, and her hands fall to the Starling’s hips, rough black denim, the belt loops, her thumb, the wide leather belt, looking up, those green eyes. She yanks at the bulky black sweatshirt, “Get this off,” she says, and the Starling lifts it up and off and tosses it aside. Bare now from the waist up, and the torso of her lean and long, and her long arms sinewy lowering, curling, Ysabel’s darkly hands caught up against the smooth pale chest of her by those wide white hands, and the backs of them snarled with thick blue veins.
“Now would you have me go and change?” murmurs the Starling.
“But you are beautiful,” says Ysabel, slipping her hands free, reaching for the tongue of the belt. The buckle jangles. “Majesty,” says the Starling, “I am many things, but,” and a gasp, at the kiss pressed there below her shadowed navel, as those black jeans loosen, lop, as Ysabel’s fingers dip within to uncurl a palely slender cock, and a stroke for the lengthening lift of it, “oh,” says the Starling, “my Queen, you needn’t,” as her hand cups Ysabel’s face.
“But do you want me to,” says Ysabel, and the Starling, shivering, nods. “The principles, I should think,” says Ysabel, “are essentially the same?” And a lick of a kiss for the tip of it, there on her palm.
Pinned to the pole a mulching bark of posters, flyers, handbills, postcards, lapped and shingled one over another, rain-dimpled, sun-faded, twisted, torn, defaced, Thrash or Die, April Showers Burlesque, Snap! at the Holocene, Anodyne Presents, Missing Dog, Laughing Horse, Drum Circle Saturday Rain or Shine, Cinco de Mayo on the Waterfront, big black letters on an enormous sheet, Grupo Samurjay, Grupo Maravilla, Los Supremos de Los Hermanos Flores, Woodburn Rocks. As the bus pulls away she’s pushing back her black hair looking up toward the top of that slithery bristling treeline, there where handfuls of old notices have been ripped away leaving crowded dozens of denuded staples, glinting, by a metal sign that says No Parking This Block, a relatively fresh sheet of goldenrod paper, mad black scribbles limning a dancer, a single eye of bright green ink. She reaches up, to the pull-tabs fluttering the bottom of it, each printed with only an elaborately arabesqued question mark. Her other hand holds fast a black leather knapsack slung from the shoulder of her slick black jacket. Her glasses with thick black frames. With a sudden yank she rips the handbill down.
A broad porch with four front doors set one right next to another, and she unlocks, slips through the third of them, and up an immediate steep staircase, narrow between dark walls, unlit, that yellow page bright in her hand. Around the wall at the top of the stairs through an open room a couch the floor before it piled with cardboard boxes into a long hall once painted white, some time ago, lit by daylight seeping in from somewhere else. At the end of it a dark room, curtains drawn, and she closes the door behind her, a shadow in the shadows. Flump of the knapsack, dropped to the floor, creaking footstep, the thick click of a switch. Light blares from naked bulbs in the fixture in the middle of the ceiling, pink springs from the walls all whorled curlicues and faded bouquets, the bed there, skewed bedclothes striped dull brown and beige, and on the floor at the foot of it a great conical pile knee-high or more of gleaming golden dust.
She steps around it, jacket half-unzipped. A ridge of the pile has settled, slumped, dust trailed over the floor away from it, and the goldenrod poster drops, crumpled, from the hand she’s lifting to her throat, to the bit of black lace tied there. Steps back, around the bed. She grabs a little hand broom from the nightstand. Kneels down by the pile. Begins to sweep up the goldstuff, careful with each thread and grain.
Eyelids a-twitch, lips parting just to say not even a whisper, maybe a number, counting, nine or ten, eleven, those lids blink open over mud-colored eyes that swivel, narrow, try to focus, a gleaming edge there, mirror-bright, shifting as she blinks the length of it flat and smooth and slender, somehow deep within it coiling whorls of light and dark chased up and down a shallow groove that cleanly stretches up and up to a glittering net there on the pillow, wiry strands that knot a cage about a simple hilt she jerks away, kicks back sitting up, “Shit,” she says, as the sword’s tangled in the sheets, teetering at the edge of the futon. She’s bent over, thin white T-shirt, wine-red hair, rubbing her shin, a thin dark line of blood beading down by her ankle, “Shit,” she says, again. Snatching the hilt she whips the blade free from the sheets, “this fucking,” but it turns in her hand, a wrench and away it flies across the room to crack and a wibble it’s stabbed the white wall there by the plain black scabbard, hung from a nail, and the painted skull-mask also, the mane of it stirred by that thrust. Jo blinks. “Okay,” she says, to herself.
Without, the hallway’s dark, the little lights strung along the ceiling unlit. The kitchen beyond is empty, only glancing daylight and shadows. Jo leans over to knock at the door across the hall, “Ysabel?” she says, turning the knob. The room within all yellow and white, gauzy curtains, big bed neatly made, the armoire shut, and nothing draped over the dressing screen in the corner. “Ysabel?” says Jo again, but something, she looks down. Something lightly, barely there, faintly wisps, like down, like ash, falling from, brushing her foot, past her knee, caught there in the hem of her T-shirt, falling from, she lifts it, peering down at her belly beneath, and the line that climbs it packed with an ashen crust and a last few spangles of gold and, she touches it crumbling, flaking away, the pink skin taut beneath.
Back against the jamb. Dropping the hem of the shirt her hand to her breast, and quick wincing shallow breaths. Lurching up across and over to the dresser, a bouquet of heavy-headed peonies pink and yellow, she grabs a small brass box and pries it open, frees a cigarette, and a ragged book of matches.
The hall, the back room, dark, the back door and out, outside, out in the grass, under the sky, sunlight and blue sky, and glowering clouds behind, white and blue and grey and blue and greenly black, swollen with the coming rain. Fitting the cigarette to her lips but even as she opens the matchbook she’s falling to her knees in the lushly green, soft grass out to the parapets to either side, and she coughs up a sob, another, doubled over on her shaking shuddering self, her hand a fist to her chest.
The cigarette falls white to the grass before her. Feathers of grey-white ash caught about it, and sparks of gold.
A call behind her, muffled by walls and doors. Sitting up she catches, holds her breath. Swallows. A slam back there, distant, bump of a footfall, she wipes her eyes with the back of her hand and leans forward getting her feet under herself but the back door bangs open boot-thump someone shouting and she springs up turns her arm flung out the sword
The sword in her hand –
Her hand, her arm extended shoulder dropped her torso sidelong and her front foot planted, off leg leaned back straight and true, off hand slung back to balance the thrust that’s ended sword-tip snagged in a corner of his unzipped shortwaisted jacket yanked up one side he’s twisted, turned away from it, both arms flung up and alarm gently folding his face.
“Oh God,” says Jo, dropping the blade, the ring of it soft on the grass.
“You’re awake,” says Luys, lowering his arms. Brushing the front of his soft brown jacket, his finger finding the hole punched there. “Your coat,” says Jo, “I’m so, sorry,” but “No sin espinas,” he’s saying, almost to himself, holding out a hand, “You are awake,” he says, but she rushes past that hand to crash into him tumbling her arms about him there on the rooftop under the clouds, she’s kissing his throat and then as he lowers his head she looks up to kiss his mouth, his mouth. https://preview.redd.it/31cs43s4pz4b1.png?width=35&format=png&auto=webp&s=5c5c990a3790e89b4ddcf70973bc9b387bf57179 previous Table of Contents Patreon
2023.06.09 10:31 RavniTrappedInANovel Alchimia Rex  [The Big](Bonus)
Rick had expected that taking an entire tribe to Sinco would be slow. Who wouldn’t? It was a whole tiny village after all, one nearing a handful hundred.
But the Orcs, and by extension all the other maidens, had more than one surprise in store.
When the tribe had set off, they’d done so with a grand demolition. The moment everything of value had been picked up and packaged, the village was then torn to shreds by anyone willing to take part in the little destruction-derby.
Following this, the tribe would split up into hut-family units.
Every “family” would be made of one human and multiple maidens. The maiden with the highest standing within the family unit (almost always an Orc) would be in charge of carrying and protecting the human on their back. And the rest would handle the luggage and supplies that “family” unit would take with them.
And from there, they would break into a jogging pace that, to a human, would have been a dead sprint.
Rick had the distinct “honor” of being carried by Urtha since Monica’s job as the chief meant it was her job to be at the tip of the metaphorical spear. Meanwhile, Rick was left seated on a sort-of-backpack the tall Orc carried.
Kiara flew overhead with the handful of other flying maidens that’d been woken up from the boxes. Leaving Eva and Dia to carry their belongings. It left an unpleasant aftertaste in Rick’s gut.
The smirk Dia kept shooting his way as he petulantly crossed his arms and resigned himself to being glorified luggage. “I could at least be playing the drums to mark the pace or something. It’s not like we’re being subtle or quiet.”
“Humans have no place drawing attention where danger lurks,” Urtha said, the only one present that wasn’t even winded. “Less so the Father.”
“Some feral might think you are a cheesy snack.” Dia, huffing as she pushed herself, still giggled.
“The tribe is tense enough already.” The Orc shook her head. “We rarely bring this many weaklings with us.”
“One of many changes to come.” Rick held the sigh, mostly because he was holding on to the chair to keep from falling over. He didn’t want to think about it, but once they reached Sinco, things would get complicated.
They were effectively marching out, seeking to conquer a city. Whether it be through actual warfare or maneuvering, they weren’t sure just yet. They just knew that they were prepared for the former if the latter didn’t work out. The reports had come in: Sinco was not in a good place. The constant presence of highly aggressive ferals had been chipping away at their defenses.
The only hope the city held was that they would receive reinforcements from Aubria.
Rick would get there faster.
It was in these thoughts that he pondered throughout the day. The tribe traveled and rested too often to the Orc’s liking. There was much friction to be had, and the humans were guarded like the treasures the tribe considered them to be.
When night came, a singular large hut was made for the humans, and the maidens would sleep in rotations. There would be small songs and minor stories that were shared, small moments of comfort. But they were all held under the looming watchfulness of the tribe.
Because they were at their most vulnerable. One missed feral deciding to make a stand could mean a human getting hurt. Rick had to begrudgingly respect them for that. As much as he loathed being treated like some kind of porcelain doll, there was no room to question that the maidens were going the extra mile for everyone’s safety and survival.
Though they would sometimes go a bit overboard against the maidens that “slowed down the tribe”. His role mediating such disputes had become his main role throughout the following days.
One morning, as they were preparing to set out, he heard it.
It started with a scream, then a yelp, and then a rush.
By the time Rick realized what was going on, Monica was upon him. Drenched from head to toe and stinking of salt and seaweed. The massive maiden was looking at him with a smile that threatened to split her head in two.
“Rick!” She hovered over him, dripping water all over. “Come! Come!”
“Is everything alright?” He asked from the discomfort of the portable chair he was currently occupying.
“COME!” she insisted, hopping on her feet and skittishly looking back, aiming her ear in the direction she’d come from. “Quick!”
“The tribe is not heading that way.” Urtha pointed out.
Rick considered it for a second. “Are there any problems shifting course to travel nearer to the sea?”
“It is a bad idea. For many reasons.”
Her words brought nods from Eva and Dia, to which Rick could only respond with a shrug. “Ok, then we could call for a break for the day, give everyone a chance to properly unwind, and I’ll go with Monica.” He pointed over at the feline that was bouncing on her heels, just barely holding back from reaching out and yanking him into her wet embrace. “Seems like the chief is very excited about something.”
“I bet its food,” Eva said.
“Urtha?” Rick waited.
The Orc glanced over at the crowd. “We will set camp for the day. We cannot afford to lose any of the weaklings.”
That was as good as he could’ve hoped. Rick nodded and was immediately snatched by Monica’s fuzzy paw. The maiden picked him up, putting him over her shoulder and trotting through the shrubbery and trees with little regard for who might be following.
Rick got himself a face full of leaves, flinching and batting them away. “Hey, wait, the branches-”
The Sabretooth yanked him into her arms and broke into a full sprint. Dirt and rocks burst forth from where she stood as air whipped about them. Her fang-filled smile only grew. Monica’s eyes were only focused forward. Rick, meanwhile, was trying to avoid swallowing bugs. The insects that kept flying about appeared to prefer smacking against his face.
There was a moment of clarity, light, and blue.
And with a splash, he was underwater.
Rick made the mistake of gasping, swallowing sea-water, wildly flinging his arms to get himself to the surface. Monica yanked him out of the water, leaving him feeling like a half-drowned cat as he coughed and spat.
“LOOK!” she proclaimed, dropping him on the sandy beach as she hurried towards the crashing waves, kicking at them and sending sprays of foam high into the air. “Rick! BIG!” She waved wildly, rushing her way into the water, then back out.
“That’s the sea.”
“Monica see!” With wide arms, she tried to point at all of it at once.
“No, it’s a new word. Sounds similar.” He combed his hair out of his face with his hands, removing his shirt. “Sea. S-E-A. Big, wet, and salty.”
“BIG WET!” Monica was cheering and splashing, kicking her way up and down the shore, jumping into the waves and coming out a dozen meters away and then making her way back to the shore.
“It’s the sea.” He couldn’t help but smile, watching as she slapped the water with her huge paws, creating a billowing tower of water and foam to rise at least a dozen meters into the air.
He put the low-end terrifying notion of how much force was packed into that strike and kept an easy-going smile.
“It’s the ocean.” The voice called from above, Kiara leisurely drifting down and sitting next to him. “Too far away from anything or anyone. Few ships go through here.”
“So chock-full of dangerous ferals?”
“Just like everywhere else.” Her eyes weren’t on Monica. The Succubus’ gaze appeared more focused on trailing the waves as they crashed into the shore. “Likely they’ve been scared off, though. The rush must have eaten everything available near the shore.”
Rick looked at the waves, then at her. “How can you tell?”
“There’s nothing in the waves.” She pointed. “Usually there’s at least the odd Sprite.”
“Maybe Monica scared them off.”
“Doubtful.” Kiara shook her head, turning to eye him with a slight smirk. “You’re drenched. Maybe you’d want to take your clothes off?” Her gaze trailed over him in a distinctly predatory way.
“You’re hungry, huh?”
She leaned closer, hand reaching over to caress his shoulder. “Maybe a little more than that…” Gold eyes locked to his, her hand gently pushing his back into the sand, the Succubus moving in closer so that she could pin him down.
Rick grinned. “Careful with the splash.”
The momentary confusion turned to shock and horror as she was yanked away and flung into the sea. Monica stared with ample amount of self-satisfaction as the Succubus swore and sank into the waves. “No horny time.” The feline declared, looking at Rick with a dangerous glint in her eyes.
“I understand.” He raised his hands, playing the role of innocent bystander.
His eyes widened with concern. Uh oh.
She reached down, pulling him up by the shirt. “Rick train swim.”
“I know how to swim.” He quickly proclaimed, grabbing hold of her claws as her arm tensed. “BUT!”
Monica hesitated, looking at the water, then at him with narrowed eyes. “But?”
“Don’t throw me like you did Kiara or I will break,” he said, quickly relaxing a little as he pointed up into the air. “Throw me a little up. Gently, into the water.”
She eyed him for a moment, and with a flick of her tail, caught a stone. “Like this?” She grasped the rock and gently tossed it into a high arch that fell into the sea with a little plop.
“Yeah, just like-AAAAAHHHH!!!”
He was flying, body spinning in the air as gravity quickly lay claim. Rick did the only thing he could think of, curling into a ball, drawing breath, and plunge. He was underwater in the next instant, bubbles and light, with the sandy bottom still within sight.
It was down there that he spotted Kiara looking up at him with a smirk, a bubble wrapping her head. The conspicuously naked Succubus used her wings to swim up at him, catching him in her grasp and pulling him down.
Rick clutched his mouth, trying to keep his breath.
Kiara’s amusement was apparent as she held him by the shirt, looking at him with a mischievous twinkle. The iron grip remained, and he could see what her plan was, so he leaned into her, breaking the surface of the bubble with his face.
The breath was cut short with the kiss.
Then she shoved him away, waving off and winking as she swam further away from the shore. The speed she was moving with clearly was one not meant for him to follow, so Rick didn’t, going up to the surface.
Monica was waiting for him, excitedly grinning from ear to ear.
“Again!” he declared the moment he stepped on the sand. “But this time not from the shirt or it might rip.”
By the time others were reaching the beach, the duo had figured out a way to make the launch procedure safer… ish. Mostly in that the victim of choice would stand on Monica’s palm and curl into a cannonball, so that she could then throw.
And the maiden had quite the throwing arm.
The couple of Goblins that showed up excitedly joined in. Then came the Orcs, Mousegirls, and Doggirls, and by the time Urtha had shown her face, the various tribe members had a line of eager volunteers to be thrown into the sea. While the Orcs were competing with one another to see who could get their cargo the furthest from the shore.
Dia caught sight of the glare before Rick could even speak up. “I’ve set up a rotation of guards with the ones keeping watch over the tribe,” the healer proclaimed. “And the water maidens are working as lookouts.”
“Do you think that would placate me?”
“Do you want to play in the launch games?” Rick asked, giving Dia a warning look. “I bet you’d give Monica a run for her money.”
“She is stronger.” Urtha spoke after just a moment of observation, shaking her head. “I would need to wait for her to tire.”
He looked at the Orc as she remained near them, but didn’t sit. He could almost taste the tension within her, that knot of uncertainty. “Would you like to build a sand castle, then?”
“A castle of sand?”
“Exactly that.” Rick sat up. “Just wet sand and more sand, and make a castle with it.”
Urtha’s thick brows furrowed. “That… sounds childish.”
He shrugged. “Sand is fragile and crumbles easily if mishandled. Consider it a test of skill.” A sly smile followed. “Or are you scared a little human will be better at it than you?”
With a scoff, she stomped her foot once. “Show me.”
“I’ll join in!” Dia said. “It’s been a while since I’ve played mud-walls.”
“The what now?”
“It’s a game we healers played when little helped give us finer control over our power.” She crouched down, grabbing a handful of wet sand and proceeding to carefully lay it down in the shape of a very thin tube. A tube no thicker than a straw, and tall enough to reach her knee. “The trick is in pushing the water away at the right time.”
Rick and Urtha shared a worried glance.
Two hours later, things had escalated… a little.
It turned out that the Orc’s ability to make wood nearly as tough as steel could be applied to sand to just enough of a degree that Urtha had made a box tower about two meters on the side and five tall. Rick, working with a knife, carved out details on the tower.
Mostly windows and bricks.
Dia, on the other hand, had built a miniature replica of the fortified city of Balet. Devoid of any details, the city was a configuration of boxes roughly knee height.
It was when some maidens that had tired of the Monica-Launcher™ had gathered to watch that things escalated. With Mousegirls quickly getting recruited by Dia so that they could turn the sand boxes into detailed houses, and Urtha recruiting other Orcs so that they could put together a second tower.
Somewhere along the way, Sheel had shown up to set up an impromptu grill service.
Rick got his fill as he watched the competition unfold, recovering his energy and feeling exhausted in a good way. He caught sight of Kiara emerging from the sea, sans clothes. The Succubus took one look at the gathering, and eventually locked on to him.
The alluring blue-haired Succubus shifted her walk, tucking away tiredness and presenting only assuredness and grace. Her ample hips swayed with a mesmerizing rhythm, tail punctuating every step with a flick. The maiden made a show of pushing her sky-blue hair over her shoulder, presenting her bare chest for him to drink in.
There was a twinkle of enjoyment in her golden eyes when his gaze locked on to her body. A sly smile played on her lips, seductive and coy.
As she reached him, the succubus knelt down and whispered in his ear, her voice soft and alluring. “Is this spot taken?”
Rick felt his throat dry, and he coughed a little. “Sure.”
Kiara grinned wider, taking his lap, tail reaching under his shirt to caress his chest. “It is very comfortable.” She punctuated her words by grinding against herself against his crotch a little. “You seem thrilled to see me.”
He wrapped his hands around her midriff, pulling her against his chest, ignoring the slight discomfort of her wings. “Be warned that Monica is looking our way,” he whispered. “Engage and you will get launched. She’s gotten great at it.”
The tail twitched. “Noted.” Her tone was begrudging. “I meant to ask, are you familiar with… this? The sea? The ocean? The depths?”
“I’ve been on my fair share of boats, and went diving in a reef once.” He admitted freely. “And I’ve flown over the clouds in one of the most boring technological marvel my world built.” A little chuckle followed. “But I think you were meaning to lead this somewhere else?”
Kiara shifted, staring over her shoulder for a moment. “I’d like to hear more about your world sometime.” Her voice held an edge of hesitation to it, and Rick had the distinct impression she was trying to hold something back. “But yes, I was meaning to lead the conversation to this.”
The tone was gone; the look was gone, replaced by smug satisfaction as she held up a blue gemstone. The object was the size of a pearl and a deep, glimmering blue.
“An impure elemental stone.” The Succubus declared. “Take it.”
Rick obliged, lifting it to get a better look. Light wavered and refracted within the sphere, adding a shimmer that made it look as if there was a tiny sea contained within. Twisting and shifting the stone did not make the illusion of change, making the little sphere appear like a looking-glass of some sort.
The refracted light swayed and shifted against his palm like an aurora.
“It’s… this is really impressive.” He declared after a moment, glancing back at her.
“I stumbled onto this while looking for something else. It has some minor value, but is mostly useless since it has a very low purity.” She shrugged her lithe shoulders, trailing his jaw with her sharp nail. “Consider it compensation.”
He frowned a little. “Compensation for what?”
She shrugged, beating her wings once and hopping on to her feet. “I will go get myself a change of clothes and a snack.” She turned to leave. “You’re more than welcome to join.”
Rick could only chuckle. “I appreciate the offer, but I’m exhausted right now.”
“Have it your way.” The maiden vanished into the thicket, sauntering off to the tribe. “If you’ve got nothing better to do, pay some attention to the little leech. Wouldn’t want her to feel neglected, now would we?”
Where had that come from? Rick watched her go, taking a moment to stand up and check that the little get-together was going nowhere. From there, he turned his focus inwards and sought the bond to Eva. It was tougher than he’d expected, especially with the noise from all the other bonds trying to drown out everything.
He found her sitting on a rock, at the very edge of the sandy shore, staring off at the setting sun. The maiden had her knees tucked against her chest, body covered under her black cape, only her red eyes and pale face exposed to the sunlight.
She noticed his approach, but didn’t react.
Rick took a spot next to her, not quite within arm’s reach. “You’ve avoided talking with me. Anything I should worry about?” His question caused the intended result. Eva looked at him with wide eyes. “Don’t look at me like that. I know you don’t like small-talk, and this is just about the most important subject I could think of.”
The Fledgling turned away. “True.” She acknowledged. “I cannot answer your question, sir.”
“Can’t or won’t?”
“Can’t.” She hugged her knees, turning away and towards the horizon.
Was she hesitating to take a stance, or was she unsure of what stance to take to begin with? Rick nodded a little. “If it’s any consolation, it’s weird for me, too.” He lay back on the stone, looking at the orange clouds above. “Especially with how stiff you’re acting.”
“The Wildling-King calls me his property, and then complains he is treated with the due formalities?” Eva glared.
“Point taken.” Rick sighed. “I just expected that you’d learn from the others.”
“I cannot compare myself to the monster that is Monica or Kiara, nor consider myself to hold a fraction of the trust you give Dia,” she summarized. “I am a Fledgling. Anywhere within the kingdom, a slip of the tongue, a mistake, or a perceived fault would earn me severe punishment.” The maiden glowered, then sighed. “I myself have given such for less.”
“So you don’t know what to expect from me, but will avoid talking with me about those expectations.”
The glare intensified. “I would trust you of all would understand the matter is not that simple.”
“You’re not calling me sir.” He replied with an arched brow, watching her flinch. “I don’t want to insult your intelligence, but it seems like you’re intentionally running on a groundless hypothesis. So my question would be, why have you kept at it?”
She deflated with a sigh. “I don’t know.”
Rick reached out, ruffling her hair. “Well, while you think about it, how about spending some actual time together with the others? Brooding didn’t get you the answer you were looking for, so how about trying to change the pace a little?”
The glare intensified. “I was not brooding. What do you take me for? I am older than you! I was the head of a noble house of great prestige!” She shot to her feet, glaring, lips curling into a snarl.
Rick stepped closer, directly into her personal space. “Evangeline.” He declared, his tone holding only the barest edge to it.
The Fledgling flinched, looking away, hands hiding under her cape. “You are right.” She spoke, deflating. “I… am Evangeline now.”
She moved to kneel, to lower herself, but his hand on her chin held her in place. He raised her gaze so that they would meet eyes. “The only line you stepped over was baring your fangs at me. Nothing else.”
He wanted to step away, to turn around and go to the beach with the others. But something else held him in place as he looked down to those ruby red eyes, the way she trembled against his palm, how she inhaled deeply and her eyelids fluttered. The maiden leaned into his touch, taking a hesitant step closer.
“Th-this…” Eva stammered, swallowing.
Rick leaned closer. “This is your chance to step away.”
The Fledgling followed the gentle tug of his palm, raising herself to her tiptoes, leaning into the kiss. She froze, opening her mouth a little and scratching his lips with her fangs in hunger. They pierced, only enough to draw a drop of blood, only enough to make him flinch.
Eva recoiled, eyes wild, face beet read. “I, no, I-… This isn’t…”
The maiden vanished into the shadows before he could say anything. He could sense her quickly making an escape through the darkness. The human was left mostly amused at the reaction, chuckling as he took the long way back to the others.
He could understand why Kiara found entertainment out of teasing the Fledgling. Idly, he wondered if they could exchange some notes.
Hello, I'm back, kinda.
Things have been a monumental mess over on my end. Lots of things happened over the past couple months.
I'll be clear: Reddit isn't a convenient place to post stories. Yes, there's a community, but the website is very clearly designed for other kinds of content creators. Story writing is more of a "Despite" thing. Combined with the upcoming policy changes (what with the site being sold off and wanting to coerce users into their App, at the cost of all else), I don't think I'll be sticking around.
The story will continue being regularly posted over at Royalroad and Scribblehub.
There's practically a full volume already posted over there. Seriously, as a writer I can't stress enough just how monumentally important the post-scheduler is for me. My life is far too chaotic and sometimes I spend weeks without time or energy to prepare the posts, and then just dump 15 of them into the auto-loader.
I will try to get the next full volume (up to chapter... 62?) posted here throughout the next couple weeks, and unless something changes, I'll mostly stick to those other sites from there onward.
See you guys around, and thanks for sticking this long with the story.
[Standard Patreon Link
submitted by RavniTrappedInANovel
to HFY [link] [comments]
2023.06.09 09:44 DylanW76 Upcoming Shroom Trip
Hello all! As the title says I have an upcoming shroom trip within the next week. Going on a float trip with about six others, two of them I have tripped with before and feel comfortable around and the other four I have not. Taking them the afternoon before the float. Nothing too crazy, maybe 1-1.5g at most. Just enough to set my lawn chair in the shallow riverbank and relax for a while, maybe sit with a buddy and laugh at random shit. That sorta deal.
However I haven’t tripped since last year during the summer in the Ozarks. The first half was a lot of fun, but I got stuck in a loop the second half and had to fight it off. That was anywhere between 2-2.5g, not sure of the exact amount. The time before that was 5-6g, a year before the Ozarks trip, and that threw me for a loop. Felt some heavy stuff and dealt with some personal issues and thoughts.
So the main question I’m trying to ask here is what was your experience on a low dose like 1-1.5g? My tolerance has surely gone down within the last two years and I’m not looking to go into deep space. More so be aware and functional while also still having that “feel” of a mushroom trip. Thanks in advance!
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to Psychonaut [link] [comments]
2023.06.09 07:53 NostromoFlowers Bought an Ogre frame this winter
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After cracking my Carbon Salsa Cutthroat frame on single track, decided Im done with carbon. Bought this and moved the components over. submitted by NostromoFlowers to Surlybikefans [link] [comments]
Now 6 months later, this is absolutely my favorite bike. Current set up is single speed (32-20) with frame bag, aero bars, and bar ends.
Kills long hilly rides in the Ozark Mountains of mid america. Rough gravel, never ending hills, and mtb trails galore.
Bought a Simworks mtb fork for it. Little longer than stock. Rather like the way it handles with the alters geometry.